For a few days I have been absolutely shocked by what was happening in Ukraine and couldn’t do much apart from looking at my news feed. Now, when I am starting to come back to the world of living, I feel some need to say what I think about the reasons for the present conflict. I don’t know too much as I’ve been in the UK all the time, but I am both Russian and Ukrainian, I’ve grown up in Moscow with one of the very common Ukrainian family names and visited Ukraine many times.
- Russian Government or shortly Putin is to blame for steering people’s fears and for invading Crimea. What saddens me the most is the dishonesty of it all. Soldiers hiding their nationality (but in obvious Russian uniforms!) Blatant denial and lies in the media. Also the fact that there was a treaty in the 90s over the Ukrainian borders which is now Russia is trying to break. And blaming America all the way for intervening in others business. The fact is that all powerful counties do this and it is time for people of the word to stand up to this disgusting pretence.
- Western media. When the riots in Kiev started they were so happy on British channels to shout “Ukrainians are against Russia now!” How do you think this would make Russians feel? I’ve met an artist who said to me something like “How great, Ukrainians are rebelling against your lot now” – almost instead of hello. It felt horrible. People, especially being in minority and living abroad, often perceive the view of they country as the way the locals look at them. Initially BBC and Channel 4 made me totally believe Russian propaganda: that Ukraine is full of neo-Nazis hating everything Russian (and therefore me too).
- Idiots who proposed to get rid of the second state language. Western Ukrainian language is from the West of the country, it never been spoken by natives of many other regions, including the Crimea (which was given to Ukraine in 50s without any consent of its inhabitants – mind you, it didn’t matter so much as this was just a part of one country). The threat of abolishing their language caused great anger among Russian speaking Ukrainians and you can’t really blame them.
- Violence during protests. Protesting is fine and in many cases great but why some protesters expect again and again the police to throw chocolates and flowers in return for bricks and Molotov cocktails? Violence leads to even worse violence, situation escalates. I am appalled by the scenes of rioters beating up the police or pushing each other through angry striking crowd, or making people kneel. This is medieval barbarism.
- Nationalists on all sides. They are always in the wrong. It is limited, primitive view of the word in which one nation is more important than another. This has no future. The only good thing that this conflict may produce is that any government will stay away from Far Right as much as possible, scared by Russia’s over the top reaction to some nazis who joined the riots. There are plenty of nationalists in Russia too: I know because I lived under constant pressure to join them in the 90s. Rather than getting outraged at the idea that “our lot is being beaten up” (as nationalist do) humans should get outraged when anyone on this planet is beaten up.
- Ambiguity of the international law on regional independence. Why some allowed referendums and some are not? Personally I think splitting countries only increases bureaucracy and nationalistic feelings. But this really should be for locals to decide, isn’t it?
- Clergy on all sides blessing the guns, calling people martyrs and promising heavens. This divide people by religion and leads to more violence. Remarkable exchange of words happened between Ukrainian and Moscow branches of Russian Orthodox church. Ukrainian side asked Russian one to influence their government in preventing bloodshed. What Moscow church PR person Chaplin (not funny one) said was almost word to word from Hitler speech on annexing Austria. Nation, separated by borders, under threat have right to unite. Ukrainians, do not resist and you won’t be harmed… What this has to do with religion? Or is the church truly inseparable from the government in Russia now? Dark ages are back.
With all the screaming and emotions it is difficult to know what is really going on. I recommend following several different media channels, but also ordinary people in the midst of it. I put more trust to the opinions of wise and educated people.
It is all so sad because normally there is not much barriers between Russians and Ukrainians. There is often a feeling that we should not even belong to different countries. After all, Kiev was the first capital of Russia! But then all humans are brothers too, who left their motherland in Africa some time ago and we all separated to tribes who often don’t want to listen to each other…
What are the lessons? I think the only way to better future is away from nationalism, violence, mass media brainwashing and state-level dishonesty.
The brightest moments of the last few days were when Russia Today presenters expressed their honest views among suffocating propaganda. We do watch this channel from time to time, normally it is full of weird conspiracy theorists but presently it feels like the most aggressive brainwashing I’ve ever seen. Somebody from Ukraine recently said that their propaganda channels are full of lies too…
I do hope the situation de-escalate before it is too late.