In light of the recent farcical events in Ukraine, the chickenhawks and cowards in the West, and the mindless flag-waving fair weather fans in Russia, I haven’t had much motivation to write. I started this blog mainly as a cathartic measure, to present an alternative point of view from within Russia which contradicts the bullshit peddled by journalistic con-men whether they present Russia as a menacing, totalitarian dystopia or a land of milk and honey. Truth be told, the effect of expressing things in writing is not as cathartic as it might seem. Some things you just have to talk about. You need to feel your audience’s presence otherwise it just feels like talking to a machine. Having said all that, I want to keep the blog up-to-date. Without further ado, here is my guide to help people sound less moronic when talking about Ukrainian/Crimean issues. I apologize in advance for the listicle format.
1. You don’t need to support Maidan to oppose what Putin did in the Crimea.
Contrary to popular opinion, there are usually more than two sides to major issues like these. And no, this doesn’t mean you have to take some “middle-of-the-road”, “moderate” side. I’m what many people would call a political “radical,” but it is precisely because of those radical beliefs that I am dead set against Maidan and the annexation of Crimea.
2. Yes, fascism played a major role in the Maidan movement and the overthrow of the Ukrainian government.
No, it’s not just “Russian propaganda.” Yes Russian TV exaggerates things. Yes the idea that people in the Crimea were in danger of some kind of violence is bullshit. However, non-idiots understand that reality is not determined by taking whatever the Russian media says and assuming the opposite. The role of Ukrainian nationalism in the Maidan movement is well documented by sources inside and outside of Ukraine, many of which are opposed to both the Russian government and Yanukovich. Recently I read that the new leader of the Kyiv junta, Yatseniuk, is pledging to disarm nationalist militias, though as far as I know to date his government has failed to open any cases against the leaders and membership of such groups, nor have the supposedly non-nationalist elements of Maidan made any formal, open criticism of the nationalist camp.
3. Both the Kyiv government and the Crimean referendum are invalid, from a principled point of view.
Both the decision of the Rada which ushered in the new government in Kyiv as well as the ridiculous referendum giving away Crimea took place within a context of either violence or implied violence.
4. Both Putin and the West are hypocrites.
Putin and his fanboys love pointing out Western hypocrisy regarding the recognition or non-recognition of various pseudo-states such as Kosovo or Abkhazia, respectively. There are a couple of problems with that. For one thing, the Putin fan club has constantly run its collective mouth about “non-intervention” and “national sovereignty” for years now, and in the Crimea they made a 180 on that. See other people’s hypocrisy doesn’t cancel out your own. The idea is to not do the thing you are condemning the other side for doing. And speaking of hypocrisy regarding international recognition, does Russia have any plans to recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus any time soon? In fact Russia still doesn’t recognize the independence of Transnistria.
The second problem is that in the case of territories like Kosovo, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, etc. were all recognized by their supporters as independent countries. Foolish as it may be to pretend that any of these countries can actually exercise any meaningful independence without the approval of their respective patron countries, this is very different from annexation.
So yeah, the West is full of hypocrites, but so is Russia. At least in other countries you get to change your hypocrites and their hypocritical parties from time to time. At least they grant their citizens far more opportunities to protest their hypocrisy with far less in terms of repercussions.
5. This wasn’t a fair referendum.
A minor Crimean politician comes out of nowhere and spearheads a referendum on annexation while Russian troops and pro-Russian(no doubt supported by the government) militias patrol the streets. With virtually no time to organize various sides and actually debate the issue, we are supposed to believe that this was a fair election. There are many reasons why ethnically Russian Ukrainians might not want to be citizens of the Russian Federation. For one thing, however shitty it is, at least in Ukraine you actually see political changes. This time the fascists won, but the next time could see them swept from the field. Well perhaps not now, thanks to this annexation. Now the nationalists in Kyiv will have yet another thing they can pin on Moscow, this time quite justifiably, so as to distract their constituency from their own failure and broken promises. Now their racist ideas about who gets to be Ukrainian and what Ukraine is will be engraved into the mind of young people through the schools and media. For the Crimea, half of Ukraine was handed to the fascists on a silver platter.