Unheard Voices in Ukraine

As many world powers weigh in mostly against the actions Russia (with a mostly silent and non-committal China trying to remain out of the conflict), inevitably the conflict gets reframed to make it easier to understand.  I think that is a disservice to the people of Ukraine.

I have long relations with ethnic Ukrainians and resident Russians in Ukraine (those who also carry a Russian passport), and first and foremost – among all of them – there is an agreement that a Ukraine that is independent of both undue European and Russian influences is the best thing for all Ukrainians.  That may be a dream that died with the fires of the EuroMaidan fueled coup.

Incredulous in Ukraine

Many Ukrainians who were adults when the Soviet Union dissolved are simply incredulous that its onetime partner-state Russia has become an aggressor – a partner from a time in which they were supposedly equal states within one great country. The incredulous either do not want to provoke a military conflict for good faith reasons, or others because they understand that any military conflict would lead to a playbook success for Russia.

Some simply cannot accept that Russia isn’t acting in good faith in recognizing the alleged legal government of the autonomous region of Crimea as opposed by the alleged illegal government now in control in Kiev. Among those are some who believe, like it or not, Crimea cannot break away from Ukraine – and the early elections agreed to in late February if honored would restore credibility to the government – an agreement signed by many including the ousted president, Vitali Klitschko, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and Oleh Tyahnibok of the Svoboda.

Others believe there is no going back and that government action by the autonomous parliament of Crimea is legal in the face of an illegal government coup.

And the Fascists in Ukraine…

Accusations of ultra-nationalists and fascists being a part of the coup are not without merit as the Svoboda, a violent neo-fascist group that targets Russians and Jews equally also participated in the protests and has played a small political role in the post coup government. Though not historically a large political player, this group has taken as much advantage as possible to advance itself.

2 thoughts on “Unheard Voices in Ukraine”

  1. Indeed the voices calling for a non-aligned, fully open nation looking with friendship at both European Union and Russia are heard less and less these days. Unfortunately, the Kremlin’s reckless actions seem designed precisely to go against that dream.
    While Russians will always be a big part of Ukraine, relations with Russia now risk being influenced by mistrust for years to come, and that’s indeed a shame.

    While trying to shine a light to a very important subject is always to be applauded, there are some points in this article that will need to be clarified. Chief amongst them is calling the government change a ‘coup’.

    After the February agreement was signed, Yanukovych simply disappeared.
    This was worrying for a number of reasons: the Feb 21st agreement required the president to ratify the agreed-upon legislation within 24 hours of the relevant parliament vote. Faced with the approaching deadline, and with an absentee president, the parliament was forced to remove him, and appointed an interim president.
    CCTV footage from the private presidential mansion later revealed him stealing away in the middle of the night, with a quantity of oversize luggage.
    Returning to the February agreement seems like a moot point now, since all but one of the agreed-upon points have already been fulfilled. The one unfulfilled item? Keeping Yanukovych as president until December. How many companies, never mind countries, would seriously consider relying on a now-you-see-me, now-you-don’t president?

    Quite confusingly he did later release a video stating he’d not fled anywhere, he would remain in Ukraine, and that he would issue statements to the press every day thereafter. Had any of those assertions proven true, there might have still been a chance to fulfill the last item of the February agreement.

    Describing these events, extraordinary as they are. as a coup doesn’t quite seem to fit the events themselves. One alternative view, for example, would be to argue that the previous government collapsed due to high treason on the part of its highest officer.

    In light of what happened at the time, Russia’s insistence on reinstating Yanukovych to power until December seems unrealistic to say the least.

    About the Crimean situation: none of the actions taken by the Crimean parliament have any legal standing, both in international and national law, and they took place in closed sessions and at gunpoint.
    In stark contrast, the Kyiv proceedings have been diligently broadcast by the Ukrainian parliament TV channel, hardly the behaviour generally ascribed to illegitimate coups.

    As for Svoboda, they’re as much ultra-nationalists and fascists as Marine Le Pen’s Front National, a party that enjoys very warm receptions at the Kremlin these days. And – contrary to what the article suggest, Svoboda went from gaining 10% at the latest election to pollin less than 2% in the latest survey. About Russians and Jews being targeted, no incident of note has being recorded since the very beginning of the euromaidan movement.

    Regrettably, just recently, there have been a couple of worrying reports of attacks against minorities in Ukraine: one synagogue was defaced, and a small business – belonging to a Tatar family – was burned to the ground. They both happened in Crimea, while under Russian ‘protection’ from a perceived neo-fascist threat apparently originating from Kyiv.

    Hopefully more and more unheard voices will come to be heard in the near future. A healthy society is one that is not afraid of dialogue.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful response.

      I don’t think anyone believes Yanukovych can come back, except maybe Yanukovych himself. We can only speculate on why Yanukovych fled. The compressed timeline makes it difficult. He went from being a presidential signer of a February 21 agreement to a wanted, mass-murder fugitive within 3 days.

      Not all coups are bloody affairs; this one in particular, I don’t doubt that those who played a role thought they were acting in the best interests of Ukraine. But in combination with the street level protests, it was also one that was as well packaged for international consumption as any Internet campaign as I have ever seen, on a very compressed timeline.

      Svoboda could well be doing its best to clean up its image, and we will only know how great its popularity is at the next election; I won’t claim any great knowledge of Front National, but just because it happens to enjoy popularity in Russia doesn’t make Svoboda more attractive in Ukraine. My objection to Svoboda is that they specifically target by ethnicity or race, and they have a street level reputation for delivering their message by torture and beatings.

      For vast numbers of Ukrainians, the legitimacy of the post Yanukovych government won’t be decided until there are free and well monitored elections.

      [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

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