With the recent developments in Ukraine, I feel obligated to take a new approach. Certain disinformation, repeated by many media outlets and intellectuals (some would say, provocateurs) in the West, like Stephen Cohen of Princeton, has been raging for months, and now it is in full attack mode. I will repeat certain of these assertions, and then provide a clarification of the same.
Ukrainian soldiers (left) and unidentified gunmen (right) at the gate of a Crimean infantry base. Photo: Darko Vojinovic/AP
The inaccurate assertions below are repeated by certain Western media outlets and intellectuals, and I feel obligated to provide clarifications.
Assertion: The new government in Ukraine is illegitimate, and Yanukovych is still the duly-elected president. The only way forward is to accept the agreement between Yanukovich and opposition political leaders of Febuary 21st as witnessed by three European Foreign Ministers which established a power-sharing arrangement keeping Yanukovych in power through December. Clarification: Yanukovych’s security forces were executing a plan in which hired Russian snipers assassinated dozens of peaceful protesters during the negotiation of this agreement in the single greatest day of carnage since the protests began. Only after this did some more extreme faction of the protesters, a tiny minority, armed in order to defend themselves. Due to Yanukovych’s bad-faith negotiation, the agreement to which they refer is meaningless. Additionally, the agreement required Yanukovych to sign the Parliament’s restoration of the 2004 Constitution within a reasonable time frame, which he did not. Subsequently, the Parliament, in full complement (no ruling party members were excluded and in fact many of them voted with the opposition), voted to impeach Yanukovych, and subsequently ordered his arrest. Hence, Yanukovych is not the president, he is a fugitive from justice.
Assertion: Yanukovych did not flee his office. He was chased out by armed extremists who were shooting at him and his family. Clarification: this is an outright lie. There is no evidence of such shootings.
Assertion: The protesters/perpetrators of the coup are neonazi fascists who intend to create an ethnically pure Ukrainian state, specifically targeting Russians for discrimination and repression. Clarification: The protesters consist of Ukrainians, Russians, Georgians, Armenians, Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders. Many of these groups are represented in the new government, as well. Even the Moscow-controlled faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate are calling out these lies in Russian and Eastern Ukrainian media. No incidents of Ukrainians infringing on the rights of any ethnic or religious minority have been documented.
Assertion: Crimea is historically Russian land, importunely gifted to Ukraine by Khrushchev, that is so ingrained in Russian DNA that it must be returned to Russia, as are the Eastern portions of Ukraine, for that matter. Clarification: At best, this is selective history. At worst, it is ongoing disinformation. Crimea was annexed into the Russian Empire in the 17th century by Catherine the Great. Prior to this annexation, Crimea was often conquered and reconquered, by Asian Hordes in the first millennium, by the Ottomans, Cossacks, and others over the years. So if history goes back only to 1700, those Russian chauvinists who claim Crimea is “ancient Russian land” are correct. If one goes back to 1960, Ukrainians can make the same claim. If one goes back to A.D. 1000, Ukraine’s precursor state centered in Kyiv once again has the legitimate claim. If one goes to 1200, Mongolia has that right, so those Russians who claim indignantly that this is their land from time immemorial are not presenting an accurate picture of history. Those who can arguably claim the greatest right to Crimea are the Muslim Tatars who had lived there since that first millennium, until forcibly expatriated by Russian/Soviet policy. Only recently have they been allowed to return to their ancient homeland, and although a minority of ~14% in Crimea, that have made it clear that they want to live in a democratic Ukraine and not in an authoritarian Russia. As for the Russians in Eastern Ukraine, they are only there because the Holodomor (Famine-Genocide) of the 1930s starved to death millions of Ukrainians, and Russians were sent their to repopulate the land and work the farms.
Assertion: Extremists started the violence on the maidan, and the government showed great restraint until forced into the military option. Clarification: There is ample evidence and testimony that the protesters were peaceful and unarmed from November through the middle of January. Throughout, the government attempted to incite them to violence through the use of hired titushky thugs, who infiltrated the Maidan, stirring up trouble, giving the militia an excuse to employ force. There is video evidence and testimony of these people being rounded up, hired, conspiring with the Berkut special forces, and then slipping from one side of the barricades to the other, stirring up violence. These same thugs hired by the mayor of Kharkiv, Kenes, were responsible for multiple kidnappings and beatings, maiming and deaths of not only protesters, but also medical personnel and journalists. Every time the government negotiated with the opposition, force was employed against the protesters, testifying to Yanukovych’s lack of good faith. The January 18th assassinations were the final straw.
Assertion: Russian forces in Crimea are only defending Russian interests and citizens against the provocations of an illegal government installed in Kyiv. Clarification: There is zero evidence of such provocations. As previously in Kyiv, armed, well-organized, unmarked militiamen appeared and surrounded a number of key facilities (communications nodes, police facilities, government buildings) and set up roadblocks restricting movement in Crimea without provocation. They forbade duly-elected members of the Crimean parliament from entering the building, and only certain members were allowed in. Subsequently, with only 42 of 100 parliament members allowed in the chamber, they elected a new speaker (illegal, since he is a Russian citizen, not Ukrainian) and requested that Russia send in forces to protect them. It has been demonstrated that these unmarked lads are Russians, as one of them let it slip to an interviewer, whereas the bulk of them refuse to answer. They prohibit journalists from access and doing their job. If they are doing such honorable work, why are they afraid of openness? The phone links to Ukraine are blocked. The only TV broadcasts permitted are those originating in Russia, and they-the Russia-controlled media-are fueling this hysteria. Further, showing pro-Russia protests in Crimea is inaccurate, since those who would protest against Russian intervention are beaten and forced to remain indoors. To reiterate, there are not any western provocateurs in Crimea, and none have been shown to be there.
Assertion: This coup is hostile to Russian citizens, ethnic Russians, and Russian-speakers. The evidence they cite here is the toppling of Lenin statues all over the country, and the banning of the Russian language by Parliament. Clarification: Lenin brought about the most vile, destructive and repressive empire in recorded history and ought not be revered by anybody, most specifically the Russian people. His actions resulted in their subjugation for 70 years, and it is high time to topple all of these statues. Regardless, toppling a statue of Lenin is not anti-Russian, it is Anti-Soviet Union and should be welcomed by all post-Soviet nations. Secondly, there is no such law banning the Russian language in Ukraine. What the Parliament did is repeal a law that had elevated the Russian language in Ukraine to the level of a state language. This in no way limits people’s rights to function using that language. Newspapers, radio and TV broadcasts, schools, shops, all can and likely will continue functioning in Russian. People can and will continue speaking Russian if that is their preferred language.
Finally, there are many instances and examples of Russian people (citizens, ethnics, speakers, etc.) in Ukraine’s east, in Russia, and around the world, who are appalled at Putin’s adventurism, who stand for a free and democratic Ukraine with whom Russia should have normal “equal-partner” relations. And in Russia, those who dare voice their support for a free Ukraine are jailed, whilst others are instructed by their employers to go protest in support of the occupation, and show no passion for the cause. It is not the Russian people writ large who are in favor of this invasion. It is only the chauvinistic minority who cling to outdated stereotypes, and refuse to acknowledge the realities of today. This invasion is not supported by the Russian people. It is a fabrication of the cynical Russian leadership.
BJARNE KIM PEDERSEN.
Født 1955. Uddannet som socialpædagog. Fra 1993 – 2005 ansat som leder af Aktivitetshuset i Otterup. Nu fuldtids forfatter og freelance pædagog. Arbejdet med skriveprojekter blandt udviklingshæmmede og børn/unge. Underviser børn/unge i digtskrivning
Debuterede i 82 med digtsamlingen Bag næste hjørne. Har rejst meget i Østeuropa, Balkan og Tyrkiet. Flere af bøgerne er blevet skrevet i Grækenland. Er tidligere aktiv medlem af Amnesty International. Jeg har været stærkt engageret i oplysning om krigene i Bosnien og Kosova. Oplysningsarbejde for forskellige humanitære organisationer. Skriver indigneret om undertrykkelsen af mennesker og deltager i debatten, men vil gerne kun skrive om kærligheden og andre glæder.
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