THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN
A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs
Vol. 3, No. 21(63), 19 August 2009 Special Issue: The 2009 Ukrainian-Russian Conflict
Compilers: Yakov Feygin & Andreas Umland
I SELECTED NEWS ITEMS
II COMMENTS, ANALYSES, SURVEYS
III SOME STATEMENTS BY POLITICAL ACTORS
IV ANNOTATIONS OF RECENT RUSSIAN BOOKS ON UKRAINE
[NOTE: When viewing an RNB issue in the Messages archive of the homepage and the end of the text is truncated, scroll to the end of the message and click "Expand Messages." Only then, the whole text of the - otherwise truncated - issue will appear.]
I SELECTED NEWS ITEMS
Putin scorns EU-Ukraine gas deal
BBC, March 24, 2009
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has dismissed an EU-Ukraine gas deal as "unprofessional", saying Russia - the main supplier - had not been consulted.
"If Russia's interests are ignored, then we shall also be forced to start reconsidering the principles of our relations with partners," he warned.
On Monday, Ukraine signed a deal paving the way for $3.4bn (£2.4bn) of Western investment in its gas infrastructure.
Ukraine's president pledged to stamp out corruption in the gas industry.
The agreement comes after a price dispute between Ukraine and Russia in January led to a shutdown of gas supplies to much of Europe for weeks, causing severe shortages for millions.
Russia says it is postponing talks with Ukraine because of Monday's gas deal in Brussels. President Dmitry Medvedev said the talks, due next week, would take place only once Russia had clarified a number of issues.
Speaking in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on Monday, Mr Putin said the deal was "at the very least ill-considered and unprofessional because discussing such issues without the main supplier is simply not serious".
Despite their bitter rivalry, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko were both in Brussels for an international conference with the European Commission, the World Bank and other key lenders.
The EU gets 80% of its gas supplies from Russia via a network of more than 13,000km (8,060 miles) of Ukrainian pipelines, some of which are 40 years old.
Russia has already engaged Germany, Italy and several other EU states in alternative gas pipeline projects - Nord Stream and South Stream - that will bypass Ukraine.
Key among Ukraine's promised reforms was the independence of the authority in charge of the pipelines from the state-owned energy company Naftogaz, which one Western banker described as a big black box where money just disappears
EU reaches gas deal with Ukraine
BBC, August 1, 2009
The EU and international lending institutions have agreed a deal with Ukraine to help it provide stable supplies of Russian gas to Europe.
Loans worth $1.7bn (£1bn) were agreed in return for reforms to Ukraine's gas sector, the European Commission said.
The deal is meant to include money to help Ukrainian national gas company Naftogaz pay off large debts to Russia.
In January, many countries were left without gas because of a payment dispute between Moscow and Kiev.
The new deal will allow Ukraine to replenish its reserves of Russian gas before the winter.
Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Ukraine had made commitments which would ensure increased transparency and the long-term viability of the industry, though he did not give details.
"The agreement should provide the stability needed to significantly reduce the risk of a further gas crisis between Ukraine and Russia and therefore provide the security of supply that member states and our consumers expect," he said.
The institutions that will provide funding include the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Lenders have called for Naftogaz to end subsidies of gas supplies within Ukraine as a condition for making loans, correspondents say.
Russia provides about a quarter of the gas consumed in the EU and 80% of that is piped through Ukraine.
Russia's Medvedev Attacks Ukraine's President In Videoblog
The Huffington Post, August 11, 2009
Ukraine's president has been heavily criticized for 'anti-Russian behavior' by Russian President Medvedev, BBC reports.
Medvedev launched his verbal attack on Viktor Yushchenko via a videoblog message posted on the Kremlin website, and accused Yushchenko of supplying weapons to Georgian forces in their conflict with Russia over the breakaway region, South Ossetia, last year.
Ukraine anticipates presidential elections in January, and Yushchenko is expected to run again for office.
Reuters reports that Medvedev has now accused Ukraine of seeking to disrupt gas supplies between Russia, Ukraine and the EU.
The two countries have repeatedly criticized each other in recent years over the movement of gas supplies between Russia and Ukraine.
Russia recalled an ambassador from Kiev in June, while last month Ukraine expelled a Russian diplomat.
President Medvedev said that he would delay sending a replacement ambassador to Kiev because of the anti-Russian focus of Ukraine's leadership, Xinhua reports.
Medvedev: No Normal Ties with Ukraine Under Current Leaders
Voice of America News, August 14, 2009
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev says his country cannot have normal relations with Ukraine unless there is a leadership change in Kyiv.
Although the Russian president said he sees no prospect of restoring normal ties with Ukraine, he added that he hopes new leadership in Ukraine will significantly improve chances for improving relations between Moscow and Kyiv. Mr. Medvedev spoke to reporters Friday in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi, following his talks with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The target of Mr. Medvedev's critical comments apparently was Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko, who has been at the center of a series of Russian-Ukrainian disputes in recent years. Mr. Yushchenko is seeking re-election in January, but is expected to face an uphill battle.
In Kyiv Friday, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said Ukraine is ready to develop mutually advantageous ties with its neighbors in the east and in the west. But she added that any foreign interference in Ukrainian affairs would be unacceptable.
Tymoshenko also is seeking the presidency next year, along with former prime minister Viktor Yanukovych, who had strong backing from Moscow and was Mr. Yushchenko's main opponent in the 2004 presidential race.
Earlier this week Mr. Medvedev harshly criticized Mr. Yushchenko in an open letter accusing Ukraine's leaders of what he called "anti-Russian" policies, citing Ukrainian arms sales to Georgia and its efforts for NATO membership.
Mr. Yushchenko rejected the Russian leader's accusations, saying his country's ties with Georgia are in line with international law and urged the Kremlin to respect Ukraine's sovereign right to join NATO.
In his criticism, Mr. Medvedev accused Ukrainian authorities of efforts to exclude the Russian language from Ukraine's news media and schools. He also again criticized Ukraine's efforts to have the world recognize as genocide the Ukrainian famine of the the 1930s, engeineered by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
Ukrainian People's Party: Ukrainians to picket Russian diplomatic offices abroad
Kyiv Post, August 14, 2009
The Ukrainian People's Party has called on Ukrainians living abroad to hold rallies in front of Russian diplomatic offices and demand an apology from Russia to the Ukrainian nation.
Ukrainian News learned this from a statement by the press service of the Ukrainian People's Party.
"[The party urges Ukrainians] to start protest rallies near the diplomatic offices of Russia in the countries of your residence with demands that the leadership of the Russian state apology to Ukraine and the Ukrainian nation," the statement of the party reads.
The party also called for educational events to be held outside offices of international organizations - the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Council of Europe, the European Union - to get them pay attention to systematic violations by Russia of the norms of the international law and threats to peace in the region.
"The Russian course for the revival of the Soviet empire can be disrupted due to your help to a great extend," the statement reads.
In the opinion of the Ukrainian People's Party, the open letter of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to President Viktor Yuschenko of Ukraine demonstrates the anti-Ukrainian policy of the Russian leadership and attempts to influence the Ukrainian policy.
As Ukrainian News earlier reported, the Ukrainian People's Party views Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's open letter to President Viktor Yuschenko of Ukraine as warning about declaration of war.
On August 13, nearly 100 activities of the Ukrainian People's Party held a rally outside the Embassy of Russia in Ukraine and demanded an apology from Russia for Medvedev's letter.
On August 11, Medvedev in his letter said the Ukrainian-Russian relations worsened during the time of Viktor Yuschenko's being the president.
Medvedev Keeps Up Pressure on Kiev
The Moscow Times, August 17, 2009
President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday ruled out any improvement in thorny relations with Ukraine for as long as Viktor Yushchenko remains president, saying he had "radically worsened" their bilateral ties.
The comments came as Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who will challenge Yushchenko for the presidency in January, said she wanted to deepen ties with Moscow but that Kiev's foreign policy would not be influenced by anyone.
"I do not now see prospects for restoring normal relations with the current leaders," Medvedev told a news conference in Sochi. "Maybe something will happen and the situation will change. I will be glad, but so far I see no prospect of this."
In an open letter issued Tuesday, Medvedev accused Yushchenko of pursuing a deliberately anti-Russian course and said he would delay sending a new ambassador to Kiev.
"I have already said all I wanted to say," Medvedev told reporters after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in his Black Sea residence. "If I expand on why I did this, I am afraid it may turn out even tougher."
Yushchenko, who backs integration into NATO and the European Union, has always been viewed by the Kremlin as a hostile figure, and his support to Georgia during last year's war with Russia particularly infuriated Moscow.
On Thursday, Yushchenko rejected Medvedev's charges, saying he was "deeply disappointed" by the "unfriendly" letter, and his supporters accused Medvedev of trying to impose his will on Ukraine.
Yushchenko will run in a presidential election Jan. 17, and Medvedev's verbal attack could boost his popularity with nationalist voters. But with an approval rating of about 4 percent, Yushchenko is considered a long-shot for re-election. Analysts have said Medvedev's comments were designed to send a message to other candidates, including Tymoshenko and opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych.
"I hope the new Ukrainian leadership will have many chances of considerably improving relations between Ukraine and Russia," Medvedev said. "Russia is really striving to achieve this, this is a top foreign policy priority for us."
Yanukovych, backed by Moscow in the 2004 presidential poll, said restoring good ties with Russia would be his priority if elected. He is now the front-runner, scoring 24 percent in the latest polls, compared with 14 percent for Tymoshenko, who helped broker a solution to a gas dispute in January that led to supply cuts throughout Europe. She said Friday that she "could not stay silent" after Medvedev's remarks. "As prime minister, I have done and will do everything possible to deepen mutually advantageous cooperation between Russia and Ukraine, especially in the economic sphere," Tymoshenko said in a statement.
But she also stressed that she would not allow Moscow to interfere in Ukrainian politics. "Ukraine will independently, with no external influence, define its foreign and domestic policy," she said.
"We are always ready to listen and take into account the opinion of our partners in the East and the West, to take into account their interests, but interference in our domestic affairs is unacceptable," she said.
Ukraine says Russian navy pollutes Black Sea: report
AFP, August 17, 2009
IEV Ukraine has complained to Russia that its ships stationed in the naval base at Sevastopol have polluted the Black Sea, news agency Interfax reported Monday.
Kiev "has sent a protest note to the Russian Federation because of the pollution of the bay of Sevastopol" on the Crimean peninsula in southern Ukraine, deputy foreign affairs minister Yury Kostenko was quoted as saying.
Russia has had a fleet in the Ukrainian port since Soviet times, but the base has become a source of tension as relations fray between Moscow and its ex-Soviet neighbour.
The pollution occurred at the end of July when a large number of Russian vessels contaminated the bay with oil, the foreign affairs ministry said, cited by Interfax.
According to the agreement governing the fleet, Russia should let Ukraine's environmental authorities enter the area in such a situation but this has not been allowed, Kostenko said.
Ukraine called on Moscow to take action and resolve the problem.
Since the start of the year, Kiev has sent 14 protest notes to Moscow over the fleet stationed on its territory.
Moscow has a lease on the base until 2017 and Ukrainian officials have repeatedly called for the fleet to leave when the lease expires.
The Russian Black Sea fleet is just one of several disputes which have caused relations to worsen between Moscow and Kiev in recent years.
Russia is uneasy over Ukraine's desire to join military alliance NATO and there have also been disagreements over the price of gas sold to Kiev by Moscow.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev accused Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko last week of pursuing "anti-Russian" policies. Yushchenko rejected the accusations.
II COMMENTS, ANALYSES, SURVEYS
The Ukrainian-Russian Cultural Conflict
By: Taras Kuzio
Eurasia Daily Monitor, Volume: 6, Issue: 87, May 6, 2009
Discussions over the many conflicts between Ukraine and Russia have focused on the more well known: the status of the Russian language, unpaid energy bills and gas pipelines, withdrawal of the Black Sea Fleet, Russia's invasion of Georgia, support for Crimean separatism, and future NATO membership. What is less widely known is the undeclared Ukrainian-Russian cultural war that is as bitter as any other aspect of the poor state of the bilateral relationship between Ukraine and Russia.
The Ukrainian-Russian cultural war has significant ramifications in Ukraine and Russia's domestic politics, national identities and geopolitical orientations. It has long been established that the language spoken by Ukrainians (Ukrainian or Russian) and their attitudes towards Russia shaped by their stance on culture and history, in turn influences the voting patterns of Ukrainians -into pro-Western and pro-Russian orientations. These orientations then influence attitudes towards their support for Ukraine's integration into the CIS, NATO and the EU.
Unlike in the 1990's, Russia under Vladimir Putin has gone on the offensive in seeking to counter what it sees as the "Ukrainian nationalist" view of Ukrainian history and culture which has been propagated by President Viktor Yushchenko since his election in January 2005. Yushchenko's active and personal involvement in reviving the Ukrainian national memory has added to the deep-seated antagonism that Russia's leaders hold towards him.
The Ukrainian-Russian cultural war has become acute as a consequence of the release in April of a new Russian film about Nikolai Gogol's fictitious Cossack leader Taras Bulba. The film was sponsored by the Russian Ministry of Culture at a cost of $20 million and took three years to produce.
The new Taras Bulba film has obvious ideological and geopolitical ramifications. Bulba is portrayed as fighting "Western enemies" and dies for "the Orthodox Russian land." The film's director Vladimir Bortko openly admitted that his aim was to increase "pro-Russian" sympathies within Ukraine and to propagate the myth that Ukrainians and Russians belong to one narod. The film unashamedly propagates a pan-Slavic line that has won praise from Russian nationalist politicians such as Vladimir Zhirinovsky.
Taras Bulba opened on April 3 in Moscow's Kinoteatr Oktyabr to thunderous applause at Bulba's "Russian soul" speech and scenes where Cossacks expel Poles from Ukraine. The film has aroused widespread public interest and criticism and has already grossed $14 million in Russia and Ukraine (Kyiv Post, April 22). The film has attracted both older viewers, nostalgic for the USSR, and younger people because of its abundance of gratuitous violence (www.life.pravda.com.ua, April 3).
It was released for the 200th anniversary of Gogol's birth who, although born in Ukraine, wrote in the Russian language and has traditionally been viewed as a "Russian" writer. The Ukrainian-Russian cultural war has therefore descended into an historical dispute over Gogol.
On April 1 President Yushchenko visited Gogol's museum in his native Poltava region (www.president.gov.ua, April 1). At a concert in Gogol's honor, Yushchenko said, "Gogol wrote in Russian, was a Ukrainian, and thought and felt himself to be a Ukrainian. I believe it is ridiculous, and to a certain extent the conflicts surrounding which country he belongs to are demeaning" (www.president.gov.ua, April 1). On the same day, Vladimir Putin hailed Gogol as an "outstanding Russian writer."
The Ukrainian-Russian cultural war had earlier become contested over Yushchenko's propagation of the 1933 famine as directed against Ukrainians and as genocide. Russia has gone on the offensive against both of these Ukrainian claims.
On February 25, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a DVD which will be followed later this year by 3 volumes of 6,000 historical documents to counter the Ukrainian claims. The Head of Russia's Federal Archives Agency Vladimir Kozlov, introduced the DVD at a Moscow press conference, with the claim that the famine was "the result of [Stalin's] criminal policy" against the peasantry, rather than against any specific ethnic group (www.rian.ru, February 25).
Ukraine's debunking of Stalinism and its publicizing of the famine, has forced Russia under Putin to digress from its full-blown rehabilitation of Stalinism. While rejecting Ukrainian claims of an ethnic genocide-famine, Kozlov was forced to admit that a crime (famine) had indeed taken place against the peasantry, as a result of Stalin's collectivization policies. Russia's rehabilitation of Stalinism has propagated the myth that it was the elites who had suffered the most from Stalin's purges (www.gulag.ipvnews.org, September 16, 2006).
The Ukrainian-Russian cultural war and differences over national identity has become acutely important in Ukraine's presidential elections, which are invariably perceived as deciding the country's geopolitical future as either lying with Russia and the CIS or with the West. This was the case in the 1994, 1999 and especially in the 2004 presidential elections, when Russia heavily intervened to halt the "nationalist" candidate (Yushchenko) and lost. Putin has since taken this as a personal defeat that requires some form of pay back.
With six months remaining until the elections, Yushchenko has described himself as a person who does, "not belong to those people who waver in their patriotism. I am not a little Russian, I am not a khokhol (derogatory term for little Russians). I am a Ukrainian" (Eko Moskvy, April 3). Yushchenko continued, `I am a Ukrainian president, I know that this country requires an ideal president' (www.president.gov.ua, April 3).
Ukrainian opinion polls suggest the "pro-Russian" Party of Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych and the "treasonous" Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko are the two leading presidential candidates, neither of whom therefore match Yushchenko's requirements for a "patriotic" president. On April 24 Ukrayinska Pravda and four days later the pro-Yushchenko Ukrayina Moloda both ran leading articles on negotiations already underway for a new "pro-Russian" coalition between the Party of Regions and the Yulia Tymoshenko bloc (BYuT), facilitated by Vladyslav Surkov, first deputy head of the Russian presidential administration.
The Ukrainian-Russian cultural war is part of a wider on-going undeclared conflict between both countries over their evolving national identities. Ukraine's "quadruple transition" has focused on nation and state building, as well as democratic and market economic transition. Russia, which did not declare independence in August 1991, became a reluctant independent state and under Boris Yeltsin it never settled on what nation and state it was building. Under Putin, the emerging Russian national identity is unwilling to accept a Ukraine in any guise except one populated by "little Russians."
Will There Be a Second Crimean War?
By Andreas Umland
Global Politician, May 13, 2009
The August 2008 war in the Caucasus was a shock to Russian-Western relations. The West's timid reaction to the five-day conflict and to the de facto annexation of two Georgian provinces, by Russia, do not bode well for the future of European security. While the recent renewal of friendly relations between Moscow and Washington as well as current rapprochement between President Dmitry Medvedev and the liberal Russian intelligentsia give reason for hope, the major source for instability in northern Eurasia remains in place.
A radically anti-Western and decidedly neo-imperialist faction of Moscow's elite has gained a foothold in the Russian governmental apparatus, Putin's United Russia party, electronic as well as print media, (un)civil society, and academia. An array of more or less influential and, often, relatively young ultra-nationalists ranging from newly appointed presidential administration officer Ivan Demidov to popular political commentator Mikhail Leontyev as well as recently elected Moscow State University professor Alexander Dugin have become part and parcel of everyday political, journalistic and intellectual discourse, in the post-Soviet world. These and similarly oriented figures were among the government's whips during the Russian army's intervention in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, last year. In the reports of Kremlin-controlled TV channels, the summer 2008 armed confrontation in the Southern Caucasus was as a proxy-war that the Georgians were
fighting for, and with the support of, the US against Russia. The media campaign during and after the August war provided official approbation for the bizarre conspiracy theories that Leontyev, Dugin and Co. have been propagating in both prime-time television shows and high-brow analytic journals, for a long time.
The years of unfettered xenophobic agitation by Moscow's revanchist intellectuals in Russian mass media since Vladimir Putin's rise are showing effects. As recent opinion polling data suggests, anti-Western especially anti-American and anti-NATO feelings have become widespread among ordinary Russians. According to Russia's leading opinion polling agency, the Levada Center, already before the Russian-Georgian War, Russians' positive feelings towards the US had deteriorated from over 65% in 2000, when Putin became President, to 43% in July 2008, by when Putin had left the Kremlin (http://www.levada.ru/russia.html
). Since the war in August, pro-American feelings have declined further, in all sectors of Russian society. State-controlled Russian polling agency VTsIOM which had earlier downplayed Russian anti-Westernism admitted recently that Russians' views of, for instance, NATO "have changed fundamentally." In 2006, 26% of Russians
had regarded NATO an organization pushing, in the first instance, interests of the US. By now, 41% have come to hold this opinion. Whereas in 2006, 21% of the Russian population had regarded NATO as an organization the mission of which was "conducting aggressive military acts against other countries," in late March 2009, 31% agreed to that statement (http://wciom.ru/arkhiv/,
Press Release no. 1191). Whatever "Obama-effect" there currently is in Russia, one suspect that it may soon be over there.
The recent sea-change in the political outlook of the world's largest country and remaining nuclear superpower gains relevance against the background of several unresolved issues in Moscow's former empire, among them the future of the Black Sea section of Russia's naval forces. Currently, the port hosting the Russian Black Sea fleet is the city of Sevastopol, an independent municipality of Ukraine, and, with a population of 379,000, the largest city of the Crimean peninsula.
Sevastopol gained world fame in the 19th century. Already then the major port of the Black Sea fleet, its almost one year long siege became the major episode of the 1853-56 Oriental or Crimean War between the Tsarist Empire, on the one side, and France, the UK and the Ottoman Empire, on the other. Many of the Tsarist army soldiers who fought and fell at Sevastopol were, in fact, Ukrainians and not Russians. Nevertheless, the Crimean War of the 1850s created, in Russia, a historical imagery of the Russians tenacious defense of Sevastopol against Western invaders, and Moscow's rightful claim to that city. In spite of thousands of Ukrainians' direct contribution to this war, the powerful military mythology around the Tsarist army' heroic defense of the empire's Southern border may, by Moscow's political technologists, be exploited also in a contemporary conflict.
The Crimean War is also relevant to an understanding of generic security risks prevalent in the post-Soviet world and elsewhere. Being the first modern armed conflict, the mid-19th century stand-off between Russia and the West, in the Black Sea, is an example of how international wars have often come about. Today's public perception of the reasons for war are dominated by Nazi Germany's military adventures a topic dealt with in hundreds of documentaries and movies shown on TV, on an almost daily basis, in Europe and elsewhere. Yet, World War II remains an altogether untypical instance. It was caused by one side's, the "Berlin-Rom-Tokyo-Axis's," long-planned attempt to destroy the states it invaded, annex their territories, and subjugate or kill their populations.
That has, however, not always been the cause for armed confrontations in world history, as the prehistory of the Crimean War illustrates. Frequently, wars have broken out not as a result of a long-planned and well-prepared military expansion. Often, they were outcomes of an escalation of tensions between states which, originally, had not been intending or not been interested to fight each other, on the battle-field, at all costs. In the 1850s, it needed a long chain of events to cause France, the United Kingdom and Turkey (as well as Sardinia) to form a coalition and enter a fight with the Tsarist army in the Black and other seas around the Russian Empire.
To be sure, the aggressive factions among Moscow's post-Soviet imperialists would like to annex Crimea if not all of south-eastern Ukraine to Russia sooner rather than later. Many of these ultra-nationalists would be also prepared to, right away, wage war for reaching this aim. However, they do not dominate Russian foreign policy. For an escalation of tensions, at the Black Sea, explicitly expansionist policies by the Kremlin would not be necessary. A mere stirring up of emotions around the future of the Sevastopol naval base, the position of Crimea's ethnic Russian majority vis-à-vis the Ukrainian state, or the rights of the Tatar minority within the Crimean Autonomous Republic could be sufficient to spill first blood. The following sequence of political reactions, social mobilization and mutual accusations, by Kiev and Moscow, would bring Europe's two largest countries quickly to the brink of an armed confrontation.
Inter-ethnic violence would put power-holders, on both sides, under pressure to militarily intervene. As the Russian-Georgian war illustrated, Russia has no qualms to use swiftly and on a large scale regular army units beyond its borders. Furthermore, Moscow was prepared to provide "help" to South Caucasian peoples who, in the ethnic Russian heartland of the Russian Federation (RF), frequently suffer from racist prejudices and are classified as "persons of Caucasian nationality" the term "Caucasian" referring here to "black" rather than "white" people. In the case of Abkhazia, Moscow, moreover, "helped" a population that was under no immediate threat from Georgian troops. The case is remarkable even more so as, in August 2008, the Abkhaz republic was finally excised from the Georgian state territory although, when the Soviet Union fell apart, its titular nationality had, like in many other autonomous republics of the USSR, not constituted a majority
of the population of the Abkhaz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR). As a result of the peculiar migration policies of the CPSU, during the last census of the USSR in 1989, 45,7% of the inhabitants of the Abkhaz ASSR were classified as "Georgians" whereas only 17,8% called themselves "Abkhaz" the percentage of Abkhazians being thus only slightly higher than that of the share of Russians and Armenians in the population of Abkhazia.
With its "recognition of the independence" of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as well as through the stationing of troops on their territories, the Russian political elite has demonstrated that it is interested in a partial revision of the results of the Russian empire's fall. Most of Crimea's inhabitants are, unlike South Ossetia's and Abkhazia's populations, ethnic Russians who seem to be actively acquiring RF passports. Should the Russian Federation's public come to believe that the hundreds of thousands of ethnically Russian inhabitants of Crimea are under some sort of threat, the Kremlin may feel forced to "protect the compatriots" whatever the larger implications and geopolitical costs. The Kremlin's decision-makers may even understand that the chances, on the Black Sea peninsula, of a full military victory are, unlike in South Ossetia, slim. Yet, a public opinion whipped up by apocalyptic visions and hate-speech from the likes of Leontyev
or Dugin would force even moderate Russian politicians to prove their "patriotism," and "take a principled position."
The West's two foremost specialists on Crimea, Gwendolyn Sasse of the Oxford University, and Taras Kuzio of Carleton University, explain why existing ethnic tensions have, so far, not led to large-scale violence, on Crimea. Sasse found in mid-2008 that, "in recent years, Russian leaders have understood the benefits of a cooperative relationship with Ukraine, but have also taken advantage of close ties to Crimea as a means of influencing Kiev." Kuzio is more skeptical towards Russian intentions, in Crimea. But, in early 2009, he too noted that there is a "low level of animosity between ethnic Russians and Ukrainians in Crimea." Kuzio pointed to, among other aspects, "the ability of the Ukrainian security services to undermine Crimean separatism." These and other factors listed by Sasse and Kuzio recently are still valid, and will remain so. Yet, it is not clear whether they take into full account recent changes in Russian public opinion on
the outside world, in general, and the political mood of Moscow's elite regarding its conduct of foreign affairs, in particular.
In a confrontation between relatively pro- and radically anti-Western political factions within the Kremlin, Russia's new frame of mind could easily be utilized by Moscow's ultra-nationalists. An encouragement of anti-Ukrainian and separatist forces, on Crimea, could be seen by the extreme right as a strategy to undermine Russian-Western rapprochement. A resulting Russian-Ukrainian war would be devastating for the relations of the two closely related nations, and disastrous for European security. In the worst case, it could, as was the case during Russia's two Chechnia wars, mean the death of thousands of Crimeans (including many ethnic Russians), and lastingly isolate Russia internationally. However, it would also discipline President Dmitry Medvedev in the way in which the Russian-Georgian War withheld at least, for some time the new President's domestic and foreign initiatives. Another irredentist war would transform Russia into
something like a fortress with an even more rigid internal regime and less international cooperation than today. It would again postpone, or even put an end to the Medvedev circle's attempts to re-democratize Russia. Moscow's revanchists may calculate that the political repercussions of an escalation of tensions on Crimea will strengthen their position in Russia. Should they get a chance to manipulate the politics of the Black Sea peninsula, a second Crimean War could become reality.
Russia's Ideological Crusade Against Ukraine
By: Taras Kuzio
Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 113, June 12, 2009
According to an interview with Ukraine's Ambassador to Russia Konstantyn Hryshchenko, the country's bilateral relationship with Russia has sunk to its lowest level since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, testimony to the Russian state control of the media and its ideological crusade against Ukraine (www.profil-ua.com, June 6). In the weekly Glavred magazine on May 20 its front cover declared: "Beware Ukrainophobia!"
The Levada Center recently found that 62 percent of Russians hold a negative view of Ukraine with only the United States and Georgia being seen in a worse light. At the same time, 91 percent of Ukrainians hold positive views of Russia, a reflection of media pluralism and the lack of state directed propaganda against Russia. Analyzing these polls, the head of the Center for Military-Political Research in Kyiv summarized this relationship in his headline: "We like them but they do not like us" (www.pravda.com.ua, May 5).
The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) is openly raising the question of the intensification of Russian intelligence activities within Ukraine, and Russia's return to Soviet KGB tactics. This concern was expressed in SBU chairman Valentyn Nalyvaychenko's comment that the FSB within the Black Sea Fleet should withdraw from the Crimea (www.radiosvoboda, June 2). Nalyvaychenko explained that one of the functions of the SBU was counter-espionage, and that was why they did not agree with the FSB being based in the Fleet.
The main suspects of the murder in Odessa on April 17 of a student member of the Ukrainian nationalist NGO Sich, Maksym Chayka, belong to the "Antifa(scist)" NGO financed by the Russian nationalist Rodina party. The presidential secretariat requested that the SBU investigate their activities to discover if they are coordinated "with foreign organizations of an anti-Ukrainian orientation" (www.president.gov.ua, April 22). The SBU appealed to the justice ministry to consider if there were grounds to revoke Rodina's registration, based on among things, their link to organized crime and financing from abroad. The suspects have fled to Russia.
The conflict between the Sich and Antifa NGO's is historically based; specifically the controversy surrounding the unveiling of a monument to Empress Catherine in Odessa in October 2007. Ambassador Hryshchenko pointed out that unlike the constant Russian interference in Ukraine, Kyiv does not protest against Russian glorification of Tsar Peter and Tsarina Catherine -even though both are regarded very negatively in Ukraine. Ukrainian history equates both Russian leaders as the destroyers of the Ukrainian autonomous Hetmanate in the late eighteenth century and the re-organization of Ukrainian territories into gubernia, as well as the introduction of serfdom and the banning of the Ukrainian language.
The Russian foreign ministry assumes the right to condemn the unveiling of monuments to historical figures in Ukraine. For example, Ukraine will unveil a monument to Cossack Hetman Ivan Mazepa on Independence Day (August 24) in his home region of Poltava on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the Battle of Poltava, where Ukrainian-Swedish forces were defeated by Russia. Mazepa has undergone rehabilitation as a hero in independent Ukraine, and his picture is displayed on the 10 hryvnia note.
The Russian Orthodox Church imposed an "anathema" on Mazepa and he was condemned as a "traitor" to Russian-Ukrainian unity by tsars and commissars alike. The on-going furore has led to a split within the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) with Metropolitan Dmytruk, the head of the UOC's foreign relations, supporting the growing call to remove the church's anathema (www.pravda.com.ua, May 26).
Russia's new historiography incorporates additional Russian chauvinists, such as White Army General Anton Denikin. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's recent reference to Denikin's description of Russia and Ukraine as "great" and "little" Russia shows the degree to which these Russian views of Ukraine remain deep seated. Putin's use of "little Russia" infuriated all shades of Ukrainian opinion. As Ukrainian historians pointed out, Denikin hated "Ukrainian separatism" more than he did the Bolsheviks, and this was his undoing. Denikin's march on Moscow was foiled by uprisings in Ukraine, where his forces terrorized everything Ukrainian (www.unian.net, May 28).
Memoirs published in the West after the Russian revolution by white Russian émigrés described "Ukrainian separatism" as an "Austrian" plot against Russia. "Ukrainian separatism" in the 1990's evolved into a "Western plot," while two thirds of Russians in January 2005 believed that the Orange Revolution was an "American conspiracy" (see the critical review of the new anti-Ukrainian book "American Salo [pork fat]" www.unian.net, May 29).
These views of Ukraine's "artificiality" and "fragility" remain deeply rooted within the Russian mindset, and explain the state orchestrated campaign depicting Ukraine as a "failed state" that requires international supervision. Putin described Ukraine as an "artificial" entity with lands given to it by Russia and the USSR during his speech to the NATO-Russia Council in Bucharest in April 2008. The March 16 issue of Russian political scientist Gleb Pavlovsky's Ruskyi Zhurnal was devoted to "Will Ukraine Lose its Sovereignty?" (www.russ.ru).
Ukraine's former Ambassador to the United States Yuriy Shcherbak, wrote a lengthy analysis of the campaign conducted by senior Russian officials. Shcherbak believes that the aim is an "ideological-propaganda preparation of a future operation for the seizure of the territory of a sovereign state" (Den, May 26).
One of the Russian officials named by Shcherbak was the director of the Institute for CIS Countries Konstantin Zatulin, who recently called upon Russia to see ethnic Russians in Ukraine "in the same rank as the army, the fleet and church" (www.russkie.org). Zatulin was again denied entry to Ukraine at Simferopol airport. The SBU spokesperson explained this by saying that Zatulin remained on a banned list of Russians entering Ukraine. More importantly, "The stance of the SBU on this question is very tough: independent of the citizenship and position held (of the person) there is no place in Ukraine for separatists and extremists" (www.pravda.com.ua, June 6).
In their rush to "reset" the button with Russia after its invasion of Georgia and Barack Obama's election, Brussels and Washington have ignored Russia's ideological crusade against Ukraine. They should heed the warning from Ambassador Shcherbak, who believes Russia's ultimate aim is to "destroy Ukrainian statehood" (Den, May 26).
Averting a Post-Orange Disaster: Constitutional Reforms and Political Stability in Ukraine
By Andreas Umland
Harvard International Review, June 2009
After several years of impressive economic growth and encouraging political change, Ukraine has recently entered troubled waters. The democracies west of Ukraine are institutionally consolidated and internationally embedded enough to circumscribe the political repercussions of their so far relatively mild economic contractions. While being hit almost as hard as Ukraine by the world financial crisis, Russia has managed to build considerable financial reserves thanks to the enormous cash inflow into her state budget during the years of rocketing energy prices, allowing her to soften the social repercussions of the economic downturn.
Ukraine, in contrast, has neither a consolidated political system nor significant financial reserves. During the first quarter of 2009, the Ukrainian economy seems to have contracted between 20-23 percent, and its industrial production might have fallen as much as 30 percent. Given the limited capacities of the Ukrainian government to deal with the social aftermath of these developments, the effects of the crisis on Ukrainian domestic politics and foreign relations are unpredictable. To be sure, Ukrainians have shown considerable maturity in earlier periods of political crisis, such as during the country's last contested presidential elections. It is often ignored, however, that 2004 was not only the moment of the Orange Revolution, but also a year of steep economic growth of almost 10 percent. In contrast, Ukraine's economy today is experiencing a depression that rivals the 1992-1994 plunge in industrial production.
As if this were not challenging enough, Ukraine is facing an increasingly assertive Russia on which it is economically dependent. Until recently, Ukraine's energy reliance on its Eastern neighbour was partly neutralized by Russia's heavy dependence on the Ukrainian gas pipeline system which delivers Russian gas to the European Union (EU) and on the Kremlin's stated interest in preserving the Sevastopol naval base for Russia's Black Sea fleet. Neither of these two balancing mechanisms is fully functional today. Out of parochial interests, the EU has been pressuring Ukraine to "internationalize" energy transportation. While understandable from a Central and West European view, "internationalization" is weakening Ukrainian control of perhaps the most important instrument of securing Ukrainian independence from Russia. Out of his familiar political myopia, President Viktor Yushchenko has prematurely declared that Ukraine, in any case, intends to close Sevastopol for the Russian fleet when the current contract for the lease of the Crimean port expires in 2017. Whereas earlier, the Russian and Ukrainian governments had something to negotiate about, Kiev's diplomatic leverage has diminished today. The Kremlin, aware of Ukraine's new weakness on a daily basis, threatens via mass media to cut gas deliveries if Ukraine does not pay in time for them.
Moreover, in 2008, the Moscow leadership demonstrated in Georgia not the least to Kiev - that it is prepared to use military force to defend vital interests in her "near abroad." Many Russian politicians have let it be known, in public, that the Crimea's majority Russian ethnic makeup places the peninsula within Moscow's natural sphere of influence. Some even see Crimea as a part of Russia's historic territory.
Worse, Ukraine's political system prescribes new presidential elections in January 2010, when a new standoff between Ukraine and Russia concerning gas deliveries and payments is likely to occur. In fact, given the Ukrainian state's current financial difficulties, Russia may regard it politically opportune as well as domestically and internationally justifiable to cut gas deliveries to Ukraine already before January 2010. Polling data shows that anti-Ukrainian sentiment is growing in Russia's population as a result of the daily xenophobic brainwashing by the Kremlin-directed propaganda machine. As a hard line against Kiev becomes increasingly popular among ordinary Russians, the Moscow leadership may conclude that cutting gas deliveries to Ukraine would kill two birds with one stone: it would divert attention from its own omissions in reforming Russia's post-Soviet state and economy, and it would cause serious trouble for Kiev's Orange government, in domestic affairs and/or foreign relations.
In the case of new gas delivery cuts, the government of Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko will face an awkward choice. If it chooses to stomach the cuts, it will alienate the Ukrainian population when further industrial plants come to a standstill and Ukrainians' flats become cold. If it chooses to siphon gas from the Ukrainian pipelines that deliver gas from Russia to the European Union, Ukraine's Orange cabinet will alienate its EU partners and violate international law.
As Ukraine's economic, social and political crisis sharpens, more and more Ukrainians may question the wisdom of conducting a costly presidential election when the Ukrainian state is almost bankrupt if not on the brink of collapse. After all, Ukraine does have a legitimate legislature as well as a more or less operational government. In the increasingly difficult situation that Ukraine awaits during the coming months, the election of a second ruler appears as luxury. Moreover, by participation in these elections, Ukrainians would legitimize the semi-presidential system that is obviously unsuitable for Ukraine as has been manifestly demonstrated by the agonizing intra-executive conflicts, during the last years.
Not only is the current Ukrainian dual power system deficient, but semi-presidential systems, at least in transition countries, are generally a bad choice, if one believes the results of comparative research into this political system. For instance, in 2008, the Irish government professor Robert Elgie and American political researcher Sophia Moestrup published the collected volume "Semi-Presidentialism in Central and Eastern Europe." This book contains research papers by leading specialists on post-Soviet institutional design and performance in Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine. The study confirms previous scholarly work that has indicated concerns about the political system that Ukraine inherited when it acquired independence in 1991. Elgie's and Moestrup's paper collection shows once more that the impact of semi-presidentialism on the transition to and consolidation of, democracy is negative or at least unhelpful. In the case of Central and Eastern Europe, this concerns both highly presidentialized semi-presidentialism, like Ukraine until 2005, and balanced presidential-prime ministerial semi-presidentialism, like Ukraine has had since 2006. The scholars conclude that, "if democracy is fragile, then semi-presidentialism of any form is probably best avoided."
With presidential elections scheduled for January 17, 2010, Ukraine is about to reproduce a political system that will be detrimental to its interests, especially considering the possibly grave domestic repercussions of the world financial crisis and Moscow's continuously growing imperial appetite. In the unlikely best-case scenario that the latter issues do not become salient, Ukraine will still be losing if it decides to go ahead with the 2010 presidential elections.
Recent rumours in Kiev are indicating that at least a part of the Ukrainian political elite seems to be interested in serious institutional reform. From late May to early June 2009, secret negotiations were conducted between Tymoshenko's Bloc and Viktor Yanukovych's opposition Party of Regions about the formation of a coalition to change the constitution, create a parliamentary republic, and cancel next year's presidential elections. The idea was to have Ukraine's parliament, instead of the people, elect the President. This would preserve the current dual executive and power-sharing arrangement while depriving the President of a direct popular mandate. Although Ukraine would still be ruled by both a President and Prime-Minister, the two leaders would be dependent on parliament and on each other; they would be less inclined to enter into the agonizing conflicts prevalent throughout the last few years. While these changes would not have solved Ukraine's two major headaches payment for gas deliveries and Kremlin hostility they would have calmed down political bickering in Kiev and stabilized the Ukrainian government. The modification was obviously designed to provide Yanukovich with an important office in the executive. It would also have avoided the dirty electoral campaigning that has already started and the costly two-round voting process scheduled for early 2010. However, Yanukovich decided to leave the negotiation table. As of today, the presidential elections will thus continue as prescribed under the current Constitution.
Hard times are awaiting Europe's youngest and largest democracy, and one can only hope that the encouraging sanity and moderation that Kiev's elites have shown before will also prevail in the current situation. Ideally, Yanukovich and Tymoshenko will return to the negotiation table and reconsider the issue of the upcoming elections. Preserving the current semi-presidential system serves neither the short-term nor the long-term interests of Ukraine. Switching to a parliamentary republic would free Kiev's political elite to focus its attention on numerous other pressing problems. In the coming months, Kiev's political elite will need to concentrate on far more important issues than electoral campaigning.
SBU Challenges the FSB in Crimea
By: Taras Kuzio
Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 134, July 14,
In line with implementing stricter security policies in Sevastopol and the Crimea, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) is adopting tougher policies towards Russian intelligence activities in the peninsula. These follow the August 2008 decrees restricting the movement of Russian Black Sea Fleet vessels in and out of Sevastopol without Ukrainian consent. The SBU has officially given its Russian equivalent, the Federal Security Service (FSB), until December 13 to remove itself from Ukraine. SBU chairman Valentyn Nalyvaychenko warned that if the FSB has not left by that date, "then they would bear criminal responsibility. The criminal code contains an article on `espionage'" (www.pravda.com.ua, June 28).
The FSB officers also operate in counter-intelligence matters. Russia utilizes its domestic intelligence agency, (the FSB) in its dealings with the CIS, because it is regarded as the "near abroad" (the SVR is used in the "far abroad"). Russian policy would be the equivalent of the FBI rather than the CIA operating in Central and Latin America.
Nalyvaychenko explained that he had consulted the Ukrainian foreign ministry before advising Moscow of the cancellation of the protocol permitting the FSB to operate in Sevastopol. Nineteen FSB officers currently operate in Sevastopol. Russian intelligence has always been thought to support separatist, anti-NATO and anti-American groups and parties, even providing Black Sea Fleet personnel who wear civilian clothes to participate in protests. Nalyvaychenko revealed that one factor behind the decision to terminate the right of the FSB to maintain its presence in Sevastopol was that they did not restrict themselves to the naval base. "Foreign special services operate in the city of Sevastopol. And this is against Ukrainian law," he said (www.bbc.co.uk/ukrainian, June 18).
One member of the Ukrainian parliamentary committee on national security and defense, Oleksandr Skybinetsky, said that most Ukrainian experts in security affairs are concerned that Russian intelligence orchestrates various groups and protest movements that are hostile to Ukrainian sovereignty. The SBU has instituted criminal charges against separatists and brought in political leaders for interrogation. The leader of the Progressive Socialist Party faction in the Sevastopol city council, Yevhen Dubovyk, was recently questioned after he threatened radical steps to unite Sevastopol and the Crimea with Russia (Ukrayinsky Tyzhden, June 12).
A second factor of concern to the SBU is the possible recruitment of Ukrainian citizens who comprise the majority of the 20,000 workforce in the fleet and military-industrial enterprises that provide services to it. Financial inducements are hard to resist when pay in the fleet and its ancillary industries is twice that in other Russian naval units and many times higher than the average pay in Ukraine.
Why the FSB needs to be involved in the security of the Black Sea Fleet is puzzling, since this would more normally be the task of military intelligence. Ukrainian military intelligence operates in Sevastopol and it is assumed by Kyiv that Russian military intelligence maintains a presence within the fleet.
The ostensible reason the Black Sea Fleet claims it needs Russian intelligence units is to safeguard the security of the fleet on foreign territory. The question is against whom? The SBU has offered to provide full security for the fleet. Nalyvaychenko revealed that the SBU had established a new "powerful counter-intelligence unit in Simferopil, Sevastopol and other cities of the Crimea." This unit would be ideally suited to protect the fleet, he added (Nezavisimoy Gazete, June 15). As soon as this unit was established, Nalyvaychenko advised his Russian counterparts that the FSB was no longer required in the Crimea.
The SBU could deal with law and order and terrorist issues. "We do not need assistance or the physical presence of foreign secret services," Nalyvychenko said (Nezavisimoy Gazete, June 15). The Russian reaction was predictably negative and similar to Yushchenko's August 2008 decrees. The Russian foreign ministry reiterated that the FSB was in Ukraine based on earlier agreements in relation to the fleet. They could only be removed through mutual agreement (www.pravda.com.ua, June 18).
Anatoliy Tsyganok, the head of the Russian Center for Military Forecasting, believes that the FSB will ignore the Ukrainian demand (www.pravda.com.ua, June 17). Kiril Frolov, a representative of the Institute for the CIS, warned of an "asymmetrical response" from Russia for this "unfriendly Ukrainian act against the Russian state" (www.bbc.co.uk/ukrainian, June 18). It remains unclear how Russia can retaliate, since Ukraine has no military base on its territory and the SBU only has a minimal presence in its diplomatic representations within Russia.
The old and technologically obsolete vessels in the fleet are not a threat to the four NATO member countries in the Black Sea. The only occasion they have been used is in the August 2008 invasion of non-NATO member Georgia. NATO has long known everything it needed to know about the Fleet. In December 1991, this author faxed to Ukrainian members of parliament, after they had held a successful referendum on independence, xeroxes of the pages pertaining to the Black Sea Fleet in the International Institute for Strategic Studies' Military Balance. Open source IISS publications were purchased by the Soviet Embassy who then classified them as "confidential" and they were subsequently placed in the restricted areas ("spetsfond") of Soviet libraries.
Sevastopol was neglected by Kyiv since independence. The city has few memorials dedicated to Ukrainian history, but is full of Russian and Soviet symbols tying the twice "hero city" to Russia. The city's youth is "educated exclusively on Russian history, Russian patriotism and loyalty to Russian statehood." The fleet plays an important role in this process, which transcends its military function, "especially in the areas of education, propaganda, information and culture" (Ukrayinsky Tyzhden, June 12).
On June 12 Ukrayinsky Tyzhden asked: "What about official Kyiv?" "Well, it (official Kyiv) undertakes a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine." Russian policies towards Sevastopol are conducted within the context of "great power politics." Ukrainian policies in contrast are "the private affair of individual patriotically inclined persons who have become accustomed to disinterest from official Kyiv" (Ukrayinsky Tyzhden, June 12).
Kremlin's historical hyprocisy: By falsifying history, the Kremlin aims to undercut the notion of an independent Ukrainian nation
By Valeriy Stepanenko
Kyiv Post, 16 July 2009
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs accuses official Kyiv of "twisting" historical facts concerning both nations' shared historical past in an effort to push Ukrainians into an "artificial, far-fetched confrontation with Russia."
The Russian Federation also tries to counteract the idea of a separate Ukrainian political nation, an idea that is nourished inside Ukraine by positive historical examples of its own. Every independent state has a right to defend its national interests. But Russia is doing so by ignoring, hiding or even falsifying historical facts, restricting access to archives, using the unworthy methods of agitation and propaganda common in periods of totalitarianism.
Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev even ordered recently the establishment of a special presidential committee "for counteracting attempts to harm Russian interests by way of historical falsification."
Making fools of one's own population by using pseudo-historical myths to divert people from urgent internal problems is a time-tested cornerstone of Moscow domestic policy. It follows the principle of imperialists to divide and rule. Kremlin rulers realize perfectly that the democratic form of rule and Russia's centralized state of governance are incompatible.
European democracy derives from ancient Greece and Rome. But Moscow state tradition derives from the Mongol hordes. Because of this, the autocratic Moscow only followed imperial state interests, never the interests of its own people. History that doesn't glorify the state is not recognized, especially if it involves Moscow's former colonies in the former Soviet Union.
Official Moscow is irritated by official Kyiv's interpretation of historical facts related to Holodomor (the murderous famine in Ukraine from 1932-1933), World War II and the OUN-UPA (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists Ukrainian Insurgent Army), and this year's 300th anniversary of the Battle of Poltava. Let's consider these historical events:
The Kremlin denies that the Holodomor in 1932-1933 was genocide against Ukrainians. An estimated 7 million Ukrainian peasants died from forced starvation. And yet, even now, the archives of that mournful period are sealed in the Russian Federation. The Soviets completely blockaded rural settlements with military troops. The Holodomor was organized by the Kremlin consciously with the aim to break the Ukrainian village, the backbone of the Ukrainian soul.
World War II and OUN-UPA freedom fighters
The peak of Moscow's irritation came when President Victor Yushchenko called the leaders of Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) "national heroes" and, in particular, rewarded its commander-in-chief Roman Shukhevych with the title of Hero of Ukraine.
The members of this military force in Kremlin-controlled mass media are labeled as "fascists" and "Nazi collaborators." They were, however, unlike the U.S.S.R., which in 1939 concluded with fascist Germany the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, together with secret protocols about the redistribution of Europe. The UPA never concluded any agreement on collaboration with Hitler. In 1939, after Poland was split between fascist Germany and the Soviet Union, joint Nazi-Soviet parades were held in Brest and Grodno in today's Belarus. By the way, the last Soviet freight train with raw materials for friendly fascist Germany crossed a new border that was determined between the two allied states just shortly before the attack of fascist Germany on the U.S.S.R. on June 22, 1941.
There is also conclusive evidence confirming an exchange of military experience between the Nazis and Stalin. The so-called "zagradotriady" (entanglement detachments) could be considered the common offspring of Nazis and Soviets. UPA leader Stepan Bandera and his comrades-in-arms, following the principle of "an enemy of my enemy is my friend" tried to use situational cooperation with Nazi Germany on June 30, 1941, in Lviv, for the independent Ukrainian state. Almost all OUN leaders were arrested shortly after such a proclamation and placed into concentration camps. Official Moscow considers such a short situational cooperation as a sufficient foundation to name the Ukrainian sacrificial patriots "fascist servants," saying nothing about the Soviet cooperation with Nazis in 1939-1941. On May 17, during the commemoration of the Memory Day of victims of political repressions in Ukraine, Yushchenko equated the U.S.S.R. with Nazi Germany: "They could be compared by the misanthropic essence and similarities in the extraordinary scales of mass murders."
Battle of Poltava
The foreign policy authorities of the Russian Federation dislike Ukrainian measures to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Poltava battle. In particular, they are not fond of the intention to open a monument to hetman Ivan Mazepa in Poltava and start a new state award - The Cross of Mazepa. This is seen in Moscow as official Kyiv's attempt to pull Ukrainians into an artificial confrontation with Russia.
At the time, Ukrainian hetman Ivan Mazepa fought with his kozaks on the side of Sweden's King Karl XII and was defeated by Moscow czar, Peter The Great. He was labeled as a "traitor" of Ukrainian people. Actually, the Moscow empire used to label in such ways all Ukrainian leaders who struggled against the czarist empire for freedom of their motherland.
In the meantime, Moscow lackeys of Ukrainian origin were almost proclaimed Ukrainian national heroes (let's remember the last Communist Party ruler of Ukraine, Volodymyr Shcherbitsky, whose Russification policy set back usage of the Ukrainian language in all spheres of state and public life during the two last decades of the U.S.S.R.'s existence). The tragedy of hetman Ivan Mazepa is also the tragedy of all Ukrainians, a literate people that the czarist empire tried mightily to transform into almost illiterate "Little Russians."
Ukrainians will never allow themselves to be forced by a totalitarian empire into glorifying their bloody executioners - Peter The Great, Catherine The Great, Lenin, Stalin. The long-suffering Ukrainian people will write their own truthful history and define their national heroes. It doesn't matter if the former so-called `Big Brother' likes it or not.
(Valeriy Stepanenko is a freelance journalist living in Kyiv.)
Ukraine Tightens the Screw in Sevastopol
By: Taras Kuzio
Eurasia Daily Monitor, Volume: 6, Issue: 141, July 23, 2009
President Viktor Yushchenko announced his bid for a second term on July 18 defying pundits who believed his low popularity of 2-3 percent would deter him (www.president.gov.ua, July 18). Yushchenko used the highest peak in Ukraine - Hoverla in the Carpathians - to declare his bid for re-election, following a tradition set on Hoverla in 2002 (when he launched the Our Ukraine political party) and 2004 (when he announced his presidential candidacy).
Yushchenko's election speech included little concerning everyday realities facing Ukrainians such as the global financial crisis, but it was instead full of references to Ukrainian national identity, the re-writing of history, historical memory, language and the nation. The speech - as reflected in actual presidential policies in the Crimea - points to Y
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