Alternate realities
Sunday, 11 May 2014 22:27

IT looked almost like a real election day in Donetsk, the capital of the industrial Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. Polling stations in the usual schools and kindergartens opened on time, their entrances decorated with balloons, and jolly music played outside. Young and old queued up to cast their vote in transparent ballot boxes. There was but one hitch: the referendum for the self-rule of the Donetsk People’s Republic was a fake, a product of an extraordinary information war, just like the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. 

Today’s referendum was illegal under Ukrainian law; polling stations had no electoral registers (people not on the out-of-date lists simply added their names in handwriting, some voted twice) and the people who organised it were imposters, backed by the same masked men with guns who have occupied government buildings. As imitations go, it was certainly a success. To increase the illusion of a high turnout, the separatists reduced the number of polling stations, leading to long queues to show on Russian television. “It was one of the largest special operations ever seen by Ukraine,”...Continue reading

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