To Be or Not to Be: One With Russia

Sample Ballot. “Are you in favor of the Donetsk People’s Republic becoming part of the Russian Federation as a subordinate republic of the Russian Federation? Yes/No” Photo: RIA Novosti

By Deborah L. Armstrong

Internationalist 360°

The right to hold free elections is one of the fundamentals of a democratic society, but it’s a freedom which has been outlawed in Nazi-controlled Ukraine where eleven opposition parties have been banned. In August, the Kiev regime warned that anyone who promotes or organizes referendums faces a staggering fifteen years behind bars.

But even such dire warnings could not stop citizens of the Kherson and Zaporozhe regions nor those from the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, who began voting in earnest Friday on whether or not to become republics of the Russian Federation.

According to Canadian correspondent Eva K. Bartlett, who was in Kalinskiy district when the voting started, the process is simple and straight-forward. People show their ID, write their home address, get a ballot and vote “yes” or “no.”

“Of course, western pundits have already decided this is a sham referendum,” Eva notes on her Telegram channel, “but the people here don’t care what the West says. The West has been arming Ukraine, which is raining bombs down on Donetsk, killing 6 people yesterday, 16 people Monday, 4 people Saturday…and thousands over the past 8 years. Enough is enough, the people are voting and don’t be surprised if the results are for the DPR to join Russia.”

As a correspondent working in the Donbass region, Eva has already seen enough death and destruction to last a lifetime, and this month has been especially brutal, as Ukrainian military forces have been shelling civilian areas with long-range artillery supplied by the US and NATO allies. You can see just some of the mass murder here, but I must warn you that these photos are uncensored and extremely graphic. There are bodies, pieces of bodies, and blood everywhere.

So it is no shock to anyone who has seen this terrifying slaughter, why the majority of people living in the eastern part of Ukraine may no longer want to be part of a country which has targeted them for oblivion.

Voting in Kalinskiy district. Video courtesy Eva K. Bartlett

But like everything in the Donbass these days, voting is dangerous. Special precautions have to be taken so that people can vote despite intermittent bombardment by Ukrainian troops and neo-Nazi militias. Many residents volunteer to go door to door, delivering ballots to their neighbors who will vote from home rather than risk traveling to the center of the city where bombs are more likely to fall.

A woman delivers ballots to neighbors in Kirovsky district. Photo: Eva K. Bartlett

The voting will go on for five days, from September 23rd until September 27th, to help ensure the safety of the people living in the war-torn regions where the referendum is taking place. Because of the danger of shelling, voting is not being held at polling stations but in adjacent areas and in people’s homes. However, on the final day, the polling stations will be open.

The day before the referendum began, Eva talked with a woman at a market in Donetsk. The woman was from Makeevka, an area which has been bombarded by shells from Ukraine’s nationalist militias and fighting forces, who show no mercy when it comes to civilians.


“Many do not know how we live here. It’s very, very scary,” she continues, referring to people in countries influenced by western media, which has been mostly silent about the suffering of Russian-speaking Ukrainians, referring constantly to Russia’s Special Military Operation as “unprovoked.”


But none who know Ukraine’s history of Nazi collaboration doubt the real reason Russia crossed its borders into the Donbass.

Donetsk resident Russell Bentley has no doubt that the majority of people will vote to join Russia. An American ex-pat who has served alongside soldiers from the Donetsk People’s Republic, Russell is more concerned that the referendum might divert the Russian Federation from its originally-stated goals.


“The people of the Donbass Republics were forced into a military response in order to defend themselves against terrorist attacks by the Ukrainian military and the Kiev regime 8 years ago,” Russell continues. “The Russian government, after exhausting every diplomatic option, was forced into a military response to prevent genocide of Russian people in Donbass. A military response has been taken, and must be adequately maintained until full victory is achieved, because in this war, just as in the Great Patriotic War, we have only 2 choices — Victory or Death.”

He refers to the eight-year struggle of the people in the Donbass, who formed their own independent states, which were finally recognized as sovereign republics by the Russian Federation and its allies in February of this year.

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