Mrzekierdzej, 25 ugustu 2004 o.

Referendum about Galician-Volhynian unification

CZYTAĆ LEONIÓR (WASP) — On November 25, the shortest notice allowed by the constitution, the inhabitants of Galicia will be given the chance to vote about the unification of the RAG1 with the Lithuanian province of Volhynia. In a meeting of the Galician High Council, which took place behind closed doors this morning, a motion calling for the referendum was submitted by the RNDO2 and passed with 51 members (out of 75) voting in favour of the proposal. Immediately after the conclusion of the meeting, chairman Darko Popczuk of the Council made the decision public in a direct address to the Galician population, which was broadcast live on RRiTH 1.3

A similar referendum is scheduled in Volhynia on the very same day, president Orest Paliczny of the provincial council announced on a press conference in Łuck only 40 minutes later. The council had adopted Paliczny's proposal with 27 against 4.

"This day will be remembered by all Ruthenians and Ukrainians in the world. If both populations will vote yes to our proposal, all Ruthenians of the RTC will finally be united, the first time since 1340," Popczuk said, visibly satisfied with the decision. Paliczny said: "We are done with being a Lithuanian backwater. We are done with being the playground of rich Venedic and Lithuanian landowners. We are done with Volhynia being little more than a colony. At last our land will belong to its own inhabitants: Ukrainians."

The legitimacy of both referenda is questionable, though. The RTC constitution does provide in both a consultative and a legislative referendum, but only on the level of the Republic, the crowns, or the municipalities; nothing is said explicitly about provinces or regions. Notwithstanding this fact, if a convincing majority on both sides speaks out in favour of the plan, it will be extremely hard for any higher level authorities to push against its implementation. This is said to be exactly what Popczuk and Paliczny are playing at.

Although the Venedo-Lithuanian border would not be affected directly by an eventual Galician-Volhynian merger, the governments of the two crowns have reasons enough to worried. Both fear that a condominium status of Galicia-Volhynia would weaken their control over the territory considerably, and that it might ultimately turn the region from their exclusive property into an almost equal constituent of the RTC. Such a construction would be bad in particular for Lithuania, as it would further reduce its influence in matters concerning the Republic.

In a first reaction to the news, Lithuania's prime minister Mindaugas Pustys denounced the Volhynian referendum. "It's outrageous", he said. "Naturally, we cannot allow this to happen. A referendum is a serious thing, which must not become the toy of ambitious, self-indulged local politicians. Besides, it is illegal. If we go along with this, every street will sooner or later start organising its own referendum, and then? Whatever the Galicians do is their own business, but I assure you: in Lithuania this is not going to happen."

Neither the Venedic nor the central government have issued an official reaction yet.

1 Autonomous Region of Galicia.
2 Ruthenian National-Democratic Organisation.
3 Ruthenian Radio and Television Galicia.