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Arkady Babchenko: "Crimea, a sandwich and a petty kingdom" (Echo of Moscow)

posted 19 Oct 2014, 08:57 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 19 Oct 2014, 08:59 ]
16 October 2014

By Arkady Babchenko

Source: Echo of Moscow

What a to-do there's been going on just now over Crimea... "Crimea isn't a sandwich," thinks Aleksei Navalny. "If I become President of Russia, I won't give Crimea back," Mikhail Khodorkovsky writes on Twitter.

"So what would you do, lad, if you became an elephant?"

I've just spent barely three days outside Russia and even after just three days of normal life the craziness of the construction, "If I become president, I won't give Crimea back," is so obvious it's somehow awkward to discuss directly.

In the first place, in order to discuss whether you would or would not give something back, you have to possess it to begin with. Khodorkovsky and Navalny aren't going to give back Crimea, I'm sorry, from where? Where did they get the idea that they have it? Russia has occupied part of a sovereign country. This occupation isn't recognised by a single other country in the global community. Throughout the world the borders of Ukraine haven't changed one centimetre on any map. The world knows no other country called "Ukraine" apart from the one whose territory includes Crimea. The world knows no other country called "Russia" other than the one whose territory does not include Crimea. There have been no agreements recognising and confirming any new borders.

So what, may one ask, are you going to "give back"?

The question of whether Russia will or will not give back Crimea does not exist in the world.

In the world the question posed is quite a different one - when is Russia going to withdraw its tanks from the occupied territory of another country?

That's all.

And secondly. Most importantly.

If you become President, and I mean President, then within that system of coordinates the very question of whether "I will or won't give back" could not arise by definition. Because the post of President is an elected one. It is a post elected on the basis of free and fair elections, conducted in a democratic country in accordance with international law, conventions and freedoms, and domestic laws recognised by the international community and in partnership with it.

In that situation the question "I'll give back or I'll think it over" can, a priori, not arise.

Because it's not up to you to decide whether to give back or not give back. You're not the arbiter of the fates of countries, lands and peoples. You're just a guarantor of the application of the law. Including international law. Those who thought otherwise were given the opportunity to think over their mistakes in the worthy cities of Nuremberg and The Hague.

And if the question of "whether or not I would give back" still comes into your head then you won't be President.

You'll be just another new petty monarch.

That's all.

Translated by Natascha Kearsey