One country from among the plethora of states on the map of Europe is not perceived as a sovereign independent self-sufficient and the major European state – this is Ukraine. Though Ukraine is situated in the center of Europe (which is attested by the corresponding pole near the city of Rakhov in Carpathian mountains), a lot of people associate Ukraine with a wild poor area somewhere on the edge of Europe populated by malicious and aggressive people. Such a distorted vision results from the lack of information as in fact Ukraine is an ancient country with a thousand-year history rich culture and the most attractive economic conditions though meanwhile dissimulated. By the way, Ukraine is one of the UN founders.
Many generations of the Ukrainians incurred huge losses fighting for its freedom and independence. This was also done in 2014 during the revolution of Dignity having taken the lives of the hundreds of Ukraine’s best representatives who had gained the right to pave its own European path by accepting and supporting European values.
Ukraine’s northern neighbor – Russia – does whatever it takes to oppose the choice of the Ukrainian people as Russia strives for retaining Ukraine within the sphere of its imperial influence and impose there the so-called “Russian world” pattern of life. In order to achieve this goal Russia exploits all the means available from military intervention to informational warfare.
Netherlands and its citizens have been exposed to the particularly powerful propaganda attack in terms of opposing Ukraine’s European choice. It is no coincidence that Kremlin has selected Netherlands as a stumbling block of Ukrainian European integration regarding that on the 6th of April there will be a referendum held suggesting to vote “for” or “against” ratification by the Dutch Parliament of the EU–Ukraine Association Agreement as well as Free–Trade Area Treaty. At the same time, the Netherlands is the country having suffered most in the Malaysian Airlines Boeing crash over Donbass which subconsciously stirs up watchful attitude towards this coin of Europe.
Against this backdrop Moscow propaganda agents and Russia-paid influence agents unfolded an intense work aimed at shaping a negative public opinion concerning Ukraine by using faked informational causes. One more vivid example is an artificial scandal around the collection of pictures stolen from the Netherlands museum and allegedly found in possession of one of the Ukrainian volunteers’ battalion where they were brought by the Russian propaganda and Ukrainian ultra-right wing nationalists. Hereto remember the fake video in YouTube demonstrating armed people with faces covered against the background of the Ukrainian flag threatening Dutch people on behalf of National Guard regiment.
The Dutch are also intimidated by the surge of Ukrainian immigrants as the notion of Association Agreement and free-trade zone is replaced by non-visa regime. The lie is being diffused concerning the EU, so to some extent the Netherlands, will be obliged to pay off an enormous sum of money about 200 bln. euro for the association with Ukraine. It is a sheer moonshine regarding that the Netherlands will at the contrary gain financial benefits due to export increase in Ukraine as the dues will be lifted.
Ukraine is not the only object of the efforts intended to make the Dutch vote “Against”. According to the design of its organizers referendum is also designed to promote euroskeptical moods in the Netherlands which is facilitated by the current circumstances relied to the Islamic extremism threat, immigrants issue and low economic growth rate within the eurozone slowing down the development of certain member-states. Another aim of the referendum initiators is to invoke rage and fear fading the reason in order to revive European demons of populism and xenophobia and to split the European Union.
There is one more aspect which is an “amazing” coincidence of the day of referendum with the adoption of the Law on advisory corrective referendum. This bill was introduced in the Netherlands parliament in 2005 though it was voted on only in 2014 and came into force on July 2015. According to this law the referendum can be announced in case it will be supported by 300 thousand signatures. 11 years ago when the law had been drafted, nobody could even imagine that in the social networks era it wouldn’t be that complex task. No wonder that populist anti-European and anti-Ukrainian idea of holding the referendum was quickly and successfully widely spread by the satirical internet publication “GreenStijl”, Burgercomite EU civil group and euroskeptical think tank “Forum for democracy” that literally repeated the points of Russian propaganda. Obviously it was done for Moscow’s generously allocated funds.It was so explicit that some deputies of the parliament even appealed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs demanding to investigate the Russia’s impact circumstances on the Dutch political parties and non-governmental organizations. Moreover doesn’t it seem to you strange that it is the Ukrainian issue that became the test for the approbation of the so desired “direct democracy” tool as the referendum on legislative decisions?
The outcome of the referendum will affect both EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and the referendum tool as a whole for Netherlands as well as for the other EU Member-States. Negative outcome for Ukraine may turn into a dangerous case for the EU Member-States bearing in mind euroskeptical moods in various countries of the EU. There is a probability that due to the spread of the idea to hold referendums on any small issue the EU may appear to be impotent to implement agreements with other states. Such a situation is beneficial for nobody but one actor on the European arena – it is Russia which in case of negative (for Ukraine) result of the Dutch referendum would hit more than two birds with one stone.