Monday, April 20, 2015

Ukrainians View the People as Sovereign; Russians Think Putin Is

Paul Goble


            Staunton, April 20 – Ukrainians and Russians differ fundamentally in the source of sovereignty in their countries, with Ukrainians, like citizens of Western democracies, viewing the people as sovereign and with the Russians, like the subjects of autocracies of all kinds, assuming that their supreme leader is, according to a new poll.


            Irina Bekeshkin, director of the Kucherin Democratic Initiative Foundation in Kyiv, recently conducted a poll in the two countries in which she asked respondents “Who according to the Constitution is the bearer of sovereignty and the source of power in your country?” (


            Although in fact the constitutions of the two countries specify that sovereignty resides with the people, Ukrainians and Russians gave very different answers to this question.  Fifty-seven percent of Ukrainians said the people are the source of sovereignty, while only 23 percent  of Russians did.


            Conversely, Bekeshkin told a recent Russian-Ukrainian roundtable in Kyiv, 55 percent of Russians, but only 26 percent of Ukrainians said that the source of sovereignty and power in their countries was the president, yet another indication, Andrey Illarionov says in reporting this result, that “Russians and Ukrainians are not one people” as Putin imagines.


            People in Ukraine “have always known that,” he says, and over the last 18 months, “millions of people in Russia as well have become convinced of that.” Unfortunately, their number does not include Vladimir Putin who not only continues to insist otherwise but to act on his mistaken vision.


            The Kremlin leader’s attempts to “realize the chimera of ‘a single people’ in the current Russian-Ukrainian war,” the Russian analyst says, has already resulted in thousands of dead, tens of thousands of wounded, and more than a million refugees. And tragically, there is no end to this carnage in sight.


            Almost a century ago, Illarionov continues, during the Russian civil war, “millions of people became victims of an attempt” by the anti-Bolshevik White Russian forces “to realize the chimera ‘Russia One and Indivisible’” and the victory over them by the Reds “who destroyed by their terror tens of millions more.”


“How many citizens – in one’s own land and in its neighbors – “ he asks in despair about Putin’s policies, “are going to be condemned to be sacrificed to the criminal chimera of ‘a single people’ in the new war that has been unleashed?”


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