In Defeating the 'Russian Disease,' Will Ukraine Lose its Soul?
(Ukrayinska Pravda, Ukraine)
"War has its own rules and ruthless logic. In order to
fight on equal terms, you in some ways need to imitate your opponent. ... If
Moscow carries out an information war against us, then Ukrainian media should
forget about objectivity, impartiality, and other democratic norms. ... If
Russia brands dissenters with hot irons, we have to tighten the screws and
pursue those who ideologically collaborate with the enemy. ...† Liberalism and tolerance invite defeat,
whereas cruelty gives us a chance to succeed. The truth though, is that this
would not only be a victory over Putin, but over our own humanity. ... If
Ukraine manages to withstand Russia, how will it differ from it?"
first major outbreak of syphilis in Europe at the end of the 15th century is
associated with the military campaign of King Charles VIII
against Italy. The source of the infection was were the ranks of his enormous
army, which was accompanied by a wagon train of
we can use as a convention the term the "Russian disease." That
Russia has been seriously ill for a very long time is not just lackadaisical
speculation. It would be hard to find a country in Europe more infected by
intolerance, aggression, militarism and chauvinism.
has come full circle and we've returned to the middle of the last century.
Hatred is once again considered a civil duty, cruelty a virtue, despotism a boon,
and the seizure of foreign territory something to be celebrated like a national
virus of hostility has captured the minds millions.
everywhere - on Russian TV and social networks, in drunken conversations, and
official statements Russian Foreign Ministry officials.
infects old and young, rich and poor, the lowest members of society and people
who until recently had appeared kind and intelligent. It is used to justify
contemptible government action; saber rattling and hatred for all: America,
Europe, NATO, Georgia, Ukraine, the Baltic states, Asian immigrants, democrats,
liberals, gays, blasphemers and the semi-mythical Banderovtsys
[Ukrainian nationalist followers of Stepan
Bandera was a Ukrainian politician who took the opportunity of Germany's
1941 invasion of the USSR to push Ukrainians to declare independence. Needless
to say, the effort failed, but Bandera continues to be a rallying personality
for Ukrainian nationalists. To this day, Russia regards him and his followers to
be fascists, since they preferred the Nazis to the Soviets].
a small segment of Russian society has stood up to the infection, who are
immediately discredited as "national traitors."
of the Russian disease are a serious threat to those around them. Not just
because of their inappropriate behavior, but because of the risk of further
infection. Having come into contact with Russian aggression, Ukrainians are
gradually contracting the ailment of their neighbor. Of all that is happening
today, this is perhaps the most lamentable.
recently, we were quite certain that Ukraine was not Russia. Our society was
far better: gentler, more tolerant, more humane. They had Chechnya, Dagestan,
Nord-Ost and Beslan; we had
20 years of peace.
had a civil war in the center of Moscow, the storming
of the [Russian] White House with tanks, riots in Manezhnaya Square, and pogroms in Kondopoga.
We held peaceful rallies and a bloodless Orange Revolution,
accompanied by an eternal search for political compromise. They had
dictatorship and censorship; we had healthy competition between political
parties and free speech. The transition toward the cruelty of the neighboring
order on Ukrainian soil seems somehow unreal.
as it turns out, slipping to the level of Russia isnít that hard. The first
symptoms of the disease of our neighbor appeared in Ukraine several years ago,
but at first it only affected the political elite. In 2011, we had our own
version of the Khodorkovsky case: [like Putin], the
president of Ukraine got rid of his rival and threw the former prime minister
into jail [Yulia Tymoshenko].
like that had ever happened in Ukrainian politics, although at that point many
had yet to realize that the old order was doomed. For a long time we held out
hope for some healing European intervention, but no improvement was
forthcoming. On November 30, 2013, the Russian disease spilled into the
streets: peaceful demonstrators in Ukraine had never before been dispersed with
infection spread quickly and resulted in the beating and abduction of local
activists fighting the Bekruts [special police] on Grushevskiy Street, and the cold-blooded executions of
insurgents on Institutskaya Street.
then came the real hot spots of infection, with incidents of hostage taking,
the torture of prisoners, anti-terrorist operations with dozens of victims,
mutual damnation, cursing and spell casting, and belligerent cries in the
militant spirit of Putin: "We'll flush you down the toilet!"
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has put great effort
into infecting Ukraine, and the main carriers of the Russian disease have
become pro-Russian forces. But the patriotic public of Ukraine that opposes the
Kremlin has also contracted the disease. Despite our hopes, the rejection of
Russian despotism and militarism is no protection from the infection.
level of bitterness toward "Colorados
(pro-Russia activists)" is growing in direct proportion to the hatred for
"Banderovtsys." On May 2, the killings of
their fellow citizens at an Odessa trade union center inspired many Ukrainians:
the dead victims were no longer considered people, only enemies. This is a
typical reaction for a Russian resident who exults over the death of enemies in
Chechnya, Georgia, or the World Trade Center in New York.
Ukraine is divided into activists with yellow and blue flags, and those with
the ribbon of St. George (symbol of Russian nationalism). We are divided into
patriots and criminals, separatists and defenders of territorial integrity.
there is a much more profound mental rift that is breaking our society into
two: Those who rejoice at seeing enemy corpses - because they are the enemy;
and those who cannot rejoice, because there are corpses.
we have been struck with wave of the Russian disease, although not everyone is
aware of it. So far we have been immune to the second wave. But for how long?
war has its own rules and ruthless logic. In order to fight on equal terms, you
in some ways need to imitate your opponent. "Evil begets evil";
"An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth"; "If your enemy doesnít
surrender, destroy him"; these aren't just a set of abstract maxims, but
part of our everyday lives. If the separatists kidnap and torture people, rip
open the stomachs of prisoners, or beat and kill pro-Ukraine demonstrators,
then one cannot stand on ceremony and show them humanity.
helped by Dmitriy Kiselev, Moscow carries out a full-scale information war against us, then Ukrainian
media should forget about objectivity, impartiality, and other democratic
Russia puts up a united front by branding dissenters with hot irons, then it
means we have to tighten the screws and pursue those who ideologically
collaborate with the enemy.
and tolerance invites defeat, whereas cruelty gives us a chance to succeed. The
truth though, is that this would not only be a victory over Putin, but over our
Ukraine survive the Russian onslaught?
this is the question burning in the minds of millions of our compatriots. But
isnít it time to ask another, no less pressing question: If Ukraine manages to
withstand Russia, how will it differ from it?