It is in eastern Ukraine where the Russian ultranationalist separatists—organized and staffed, beyond doubt, by Kremlin-commanded forces—have grabbed the most headlines: seizing government buildings in more than a score of cities, resulting in lethal standoffs with the Ukrainian military.
But it is in western Ukraine that the pro-Russia secessionists have become most ambitious. Last week in this blog I discussed the declaration on April 16th of a “People’s Republic of Odessa” in Ukraine’s southwest, bordering Transnistria and Moldova, though at the time it seemed to be mostly an online phenomenon, not yet a street-politics movement, though it was calling for one. Now Russian media are reporting a rally in Odessa’s Kulikovo Field where crowds are declaring an “Odessa Republic of Novorossiya.” “New Russia,” or Novorossiya, is the name given in Czarist times to much of what is now Ukraine, but especially the flatlands just north of Crimea, including Odessa and spilling into the areas in today’s southeastern Ukraine that have been declared the independent “People’s Republics” of Lugansk (Luhansk), Kharkov (Kharkiv), and, most dramatically, Donetsk.
|Valery Kaurov in 2008, during an anti-NATO uprising around Odessa|
|Pro-Russian activists in Odessa recently|
|One version of the Odessa “national” flag as it appeared online recently|
|What’s old is new again: borders in Ukraine in 1918,|
during the chaos of the Bolshevik–Menshevik civil war
|Nina Shtanski, Transnistria’s minister for foreign affairs, has set fashion trends|
worldwide on the question of where to position buttons on a power suit.
|Two alternate flags of an independent “Novorossiya”|
declared very briefly, and without effect, in 1992
[You can read more about these and other separatist movements, both famous and obscure, in my new book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas just published by Litwin Books under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements and Aspirant Nations, from Abkhazia to Zanzibar. The book, which contains 46 maps and 554 flags (or, more accurately, 554 flag images), is available for order now on Amazon. Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even if you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook and see this special announcement for more information on the book.]
Thanks to Olga Buchel for directing me to some of the information used in this article.