More grist for the mill.

My take, is that there are no good sides in this conflict, none whatsoever.

H/T: Baron Bodissey

Why Everything You’ve Read About Ukraine Is Wrong

vladimir.golsteinThis article is by Vladimir Golstein, a professor of Slavic studies at Brown University. He was born in Moscow and emigrated to the United States in 1979.

The mainstream American media has taken a nearsighted view of the Ukrainian crisis by following a script laid out by the State Department. Most reports have either ignored the truth or spun it in a way that paints only a partial picture. Here are seven things you should know about Ukraine.

1. Regardless of claims by some commentators like Forbes contributorGreg Sattell, the divisions in Ukraine are real, and violence unleashed by the Kiev regime is polarizing the nation further. While the differences between the Ukrainian west and the more Russian-facing rest of the country are widely acknowledged, what tends to be overlooked is that the culture, language, and political thinking of western Ukraine have been imposed upon the rest of Ukraine. Ostensibly this is for the sake of “unifying the country,” but in fact the objective has been to put down and humiliate Ukraine’s Russian-speaking population. The radical nationalists of western Ukraine, for whom the rejection of Russia and its culture is an article of faith, intend to force the rest of the country to fit their narrow vision. Western and eastern Ukraine do not understand each other’s preoccupations, just as Cubans in Miami and Cubans in Havana would not understand each other. Ukrainian conflict is not the conflict between the “pro-Russian separatists” and “pro-Ukrainians,” but rather between two Ukrainian groups who do not share each other’s vision of an independent Ukraine.

Western Ukraine was joined to Russia only during Stalin’s era. For centuries it was under the cultural, religious, and/or political control of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Poland. Hating Soviet occupation, western Ukrainian nationalists viewed Stalin as a much greater villain than Hitler, so that the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalistsaligned themselves with Nazis and, led by their radical leader Stepan Bandera, proceeded to rid their land of other ethnic groups, including Poles and Jews.

Western Ukraine is unified in its hostility toward Russians, whom they see as invaders and occupiers. During the last 20 years, as Ukraine tried to distance itself from its Soviet past and its ideology, it chose the nationalism of western Ukraine as the alternative. A necessary correction, perhaps, but the one that has generated its own dangerous myths. Easterners are angry that pro-Bandera banners, posters and graffiti are popping up all over Ukraine and with the rewriting of history in general, where violent nationalists who fought alongside the Nazis are treated as heroes while Russians, who suffered under Stalin no less than the Ukrainians, are denigrated. Following the exile of President Victor Yanukovich and Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Ukrainian nationalist rhetoric has become downright offensive and hysterical, ostracizing further the people in the east. The escalating violence will continue to radicalize both sides, so instead of finding a democratically acceptable solution they will resort to baseball bats and AK 47s.

2. The Western press was wrong about the massacre of Ukrainian citizens in Odessa on May 2, 2014, when as many as 100 (the officially accepted number appears to be 42) unarmed people were burned alive  in an Odessa building.  When telling the story, the Western press reported on the clashes between pro-Ukrainian soccer hooligans and pro-Russian protesters without any explanation as to why the results of these clashes were so one-sided.

What happened in Odessa was something ominously familiar to Eastern Europe: an organized pogrom. At least the BBC  got part of the story right: “several thousand football fans began to attack 300 pro-Russians.” And as in every pogrom, the victimizers blamed their defenseless victims for initiating it. In fact, pro-Kiev thugs armed with iron rods and Molotov cocktails attacked the camp of protesters, set it on fire, and forced the protesters to retreat into a building, which was set on fire. It was a blatant act of violence and intimidation. The current leaders of Ukraine promised an investigation, but so far their only response has been to blame the passivity of security forces. The truth is that the victims simply refused to share Kiev’s radical nationalist agenda. Should we call civilians “separatists” or “terrorists” only because their rejection of radical nationalism has resulted in Occupy-type protests? Why not call them moderate Ukrainians? Incompetent at best and vicious at worst, the Ukrainian government is failing its own population by condoning the intimidation and thus radicalizing it further. This is major news, a possible watershed in the unfolding drama of Ukrainian civil war, yet Western coverage has quickly forgotten the story.

More here.

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