|The 2014 Crimean Referendum Ballot.|
Recently, someone told me the Crimean Referendum didn't give the Crimean people a proper choice. They cited a BBC News article called: Crimea referendum: What does the ballot paper say?.
The title sounds clear and straightforward enough. Indeed, if the article stuck to telling readers what was on the ballot with a few appending facts to define terms, it would be a fine example of journalism. Unfortunately, the BBC couldn't resist inserting the opinion of one of their contributors. The opinion is so clearly wrong, semantically and logically, that it highlights their political position.
To begin, the article helpfully explained the 1st option on the referendum ballot, which was to join Russia, followed by the 2nd option, which was "Do you support the restoration of the 1992 Crimean constitution and the status of Crimea as a part of Ukraine?"
What followed was the bizarre opinion that this 2nd option "does not make it clear whether this refers to the original version of the constitution, declaring Crimea an independent state, or the later amended version, in which Crimea was an autonomous republic within Ukraine".
Surely, reading the option again and noting the words "status of Crimea as a part of Ukraine" makes it absolutely clear what it was referring to. How could that ever be interpreted as declaring Crimea independent? It's in plain English!
The intention was to imply the Crimean people had no choice that allowed them to stay in Ukraine. Western nations knew the Crimeans wanted to join Russia, so they did whatever they could to subvert the democratic process that Russia was happy to use to legitimize their takeover. This subversion involved misrepresenting the options on the referendum ballot, and using the media to popularize these myths.
What can we take away from this? That the British government and its media cohorts only support democracy when it suits their interests. There are other examples of bias against Russia, such as the coverage that followed the MH17 plane disaster. BBC News Bias will attempt to provide clear evidence for this, and more recent examples, in the coming months.