La liste ukrainienne #473
compilée par Dominique Arel
8 juin 2015
1- Danyliw 2015 Seminar: Call for Papers (30 June 2015 Deadline)**
2- 20 Ukraine Events at ASN 2015 (23-25 April, Columbia U)
**The Memory Laws**
3- Open Letter from Scholars on Ukraine on the “Anti-Communist Law”
4- Volodymyr Viatrovych: “Decommunization” and Academic Discussion
5- Letter of MP Yuri Shukhevych to Minister of Education Serhiy Kvit
6- US Holocaust Memorial Museum: Statement on the Laws
7- Oxana Shevel: Laws Need to Be Amended to Conform to European Standards
8- Dominique Arel: Historical Memory in a Time of War
9- Anna Colin Lebedev: What Frightens Me About the 86% Putin Support
10- Daily Beast: Anna Nemtsova, Russian TV’s Bloody Ukraine Coverage
11- Carnegie Europe: Judy Dempsey, OSCE Border Monitors Can’t Monitor
12- Washington Post: Putin Decrees Soldiers’ Deaths in Ukraine State Secret
13- New Yorker Blog: Masha Gessen, The Assault on Kiev Pride
14- Lydia Tomkiw: Ukraine Refugees and the Kindness of Strangers
15- R.I.P Brezhnev-Era Ukrainian Dissident Leonid Plyushch, 1939-2015
16- Anders Aslund Joins the Atlantic Council
17- Canadian Journal Matthew Fisher Wins Ukrainian Canadian Media Award
18- Web Links: Nemtsov Report, Puglisi on Volunteer Battalions, What Does Ukraine Think?, Hiding in Plain Sight, The Russian Challenge
19- Wolowyna et al., Major Article on the Demography of the Holodomor
20- Anders Aslund, Ukraine—What Went Wrong and How to Fix It
21- Rajan Menon & Eugene Rumer, Conflict in Ukraine
22- Richard Sakwa, Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands
23- J. V. Koshiw, MH-17: The Story of the Malaysian Airliner
24- Myroslav Shkandrij, Ukrainian Nationalism
25- Yuliya Yurchuk, Memory of the OUN and UPA
26- Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe, Stepan Bandera: Life and Afterlife
27- Matthew Pauly, Breaking the Tongue
28- 7th Annual Social Science Summer School in Ukraine (Chernivtsi U)
29- Frankfurt Ukraine Conference Call for Papers (Deadline 15 June 2015)
**Thanks to Korine Amacher, Anders Aslund, Irena Bell, Nykolai Bilaniuk, Ralph Clem, Hayla Coynash, Evgeny Finkel, Anna Colin Lebedev, Andrew Danyliw, Mayhill Fowler, Maria Malanchuk, David Marples, Peter Rutland, Alti Rodal, Oxana Shevel, Myroslav Shkandrij, Ioulia Shukan, Christine Turkewych, Oleh Wolowyna, Yuliya Yurchuk**
11th Annual Danyliw Research Seminar on Contemporary Ukraine Chair of Ukrainian Studies, University of Ottawa, 22-24 October 2015
CALL FOR PAPER PROPOSALS
The Chair of Ukrainian Studies, with the support of the Wolodymyr George Danyliw Foundation, will be holding the 11th Annual Danyliw Research Seminar on Contemporary Ukraine at the University of Ottawa on 22-24 October 2015. Since 2005, the Danyliw Seminar has provided an annual platform for the presentation of some of the most influential social science research on Ukraine. The extraordinary events that have unfolded in Ukraine since 2013 will be the center of attention. The Seminar will also incorporate wider perspectives, by exploring the many political, historical, sociological and cultural factors relevant to our understanding of the current crisis.
The Seminar invites proposals from scholars and doctoral students (in political science, anthropology, sociology, history, law, economics and related disciplines in the social sciences and humanities), as well as practitioners from non-governmental and international organizations, journalists, and policy analysts on topics falling under the following thematic clusters (the examples given below are not exhaustive):
- political violence and the war in Donbas
- political/security aspects of the conflict with Russia (EU, OSCE, US, Canada)
- internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugee
- economic transformation (energy sector, corruption, international aid)
- political transformation (electoral politics, parliamentary coalitions, rule of law)
- competing public narratives: traditional media, social media, state propaganda
- the rise of civil society (Maidan, volunteer groups, “self-defense” units)
The Seminar will also consider proposals that incorporate wider perspectives on the conflict, such as:
- historical memories and political contestations
- the formation of linguistic, regional and national identities
- Ukrainian nationalism and Russian nationalism
- Soviet/post-Soviet elites (political/economic) and social networks
- culture and politics: Ukrainians, Russian, Jews, Poles
Presentations at the Seminar will be based on research papers (4000-5000 words) and will be made available, shortly after the panel discussions, in written and video format on the Seminar website and social media. The Seminar will privilege intensive discussion, with relatively short presentations (10 minutes), comments by the moderator and an extensive Q&A with Seminar participants and assembled public. This year’s Seminar will also include several special events.
To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Danyliw Seminar in 2014, a special website was created at www.danyliwseminar.com. The site contains the program, all papers in blog format, videos of the presentations, interviews with all panelists, and over a hundred photographs. The site will soon incorporate announcements and materials concerning Danyliw 2015.
Videos of presentations and interviews with participants at the Danyliw 2014 Seminar can be found on the Danyliw Seminar YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/ UCX1dVZqseZQDBe2VBKlQTfg/videos.
A Facebook page for Danyliw 2014 was also created at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Danyliw-Seminar-2014/874438662581143?fref=ts.
People interested in presenting at the 2015 Danyliw Seminar are invited to submit a 500 word paper proposal and a 150 word biographical statement, by email attachment, to Dominique Arel, Chair of Ukrainian Studies, at firstname.lastname@example.org AND chairukr@gmail. com. Please also include your full coordinates (institutional affiliation, preferred postal address, email, phone) and, if applicable, indicate your latest publication or, in the case of doctoral applicants, the year when you entered a doctoral program, the title of your dissertation and year of expected completion.
The proposal deadline is 30 June 2015. The Chair will cover the expenses of applicants whose proposal is accepted by the Seminar. The proposals will be reviewed by an international selection committee and applicants will be notified in the course of the summer.
The Seminar is made possible by the generous commitment of the Wolodymyr George Danyliw Foundation to the pursuit of excellence in the study of contemporary Ukraine.
20 Ukraine Events at ASN 2015 (23-25 April, Columbia U)
The 20th Annual Convention of the Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN) featured an unprecedented 20 panels/events devoted to Ukraine. In addition to 13 regular academic panels, the Convention showcased a keynote address by the Hon. Juan Manuel Barroso, former EU Commissionner, on “The European Union and the Challenge of the Russia-Ukraine Conflict,” a special roundtable on “The OSCE: Monitoring Conflict in Ukraine”, two book panels (on Myroslav Shkandrij’s Ukrainian Nationalism and Olga Onuch’s Mapping Mass Mobilization) and three recent documentaries.
In total, the Convention – which encompasses the Balkans, Central Europe, Eurasia, Russia, the Caucasus, Nationalism Studies and Migration Studies, in addition to Ukraine – offered 161 panel/events over three days. The full program can be found at http:// nationalities.org/conventions/world/2015/, the 18 book panels at http://nationalities. org/conventions/book-panels/books-2015 and the 15 films at http://nationalities.org/ conventions/film-presentations/2015-film-presentations.
The next Convention, sponsored by the Harriman Institute, will take place on 14-16 April, 2016, at Columbia University and the Call for Papers will be sent in early September 2015. The three recent documentaries on Ukraine shown at ASN 2015: The Donetsk People’s Republic,
Or The Curious Tale of the Handmade Country
UK, 2015 (66 min.)
Directed by Anthony Butts
This is a unique chronicle of the events that were occurring in Donetsk in East Ukraine near and inside the regional administration building during April-May of 2014. We see how a disorientated, jobless and desperate crowd have barricaded themselves inside a wall of tires and watch huge amounts of TV and await the Ukrainian “fascist” slaughterers the Kremlin has promised are on their way. Restless unemployed adventurers (a former tiler Roma, taxi driver “Lenin” and dog trainer Vladimir) are among those competing for a role inside the pseudo-state. Featuring scenes of astonishing access, this is a careful observation of the psychology of the Donetsk protesters, their understanding of what is going on, their relationships and power struggles. While most Ukrainians prefer not to see the subsequent conflict as having a grass roots “civil war” origin and the Russians prefer to hide the more bandit nature of the rebellion, the film has been praised by those inside the Donetsk People’s Republic and also opened Ukraine’s DocuDays film festival. Come and see this hypnotic and controversial ride into the lives of individuals who dared to remind those in power about their existence, and about how at the end, they become castaways once again’
Je suis Femen (I am Femen) Switzerland, 2014 (95 min.) Directed by Alain Margot
Contact: Marc Mauceri, First Run Features, email@example.com Russian with English subtitles
Founded in 2008 in Ukraine, Femen is a feminist protest group known for organizing radical, topless protests against patriarchy, sexism, sex tourism and homophobia through Ukraine and across Europe. The controversy that surrounds the group springs mostly from their own protests, but also from the fact that a man formed the group. “I am Femen” follows Oxana Shachko, an artist, activist and one of the founding members of Femen, and portrays the hopes, dreams and artistic ambitions of this determined feminist and activist driven by her creative craft. Above all, the documentary is about Oxana’s personal struggle against the objectification of female bodies and the prejudices against Eastern European women.
“[In Ukraine is not a Brothel, shown at ASN 2014] It also seemed that the women cared very little for what they were protesting against, merely being told what to say. With I Am Femen, we’re given the completely opposite picture” –Toronto Film Scene
Ukraine/Netherlands, 2014 (130 min.) Directed by Sergei Loznitsa
Shot from December 2013 to February 2014 in Kiev, Maidan follows, in fascinating detail, the civil unrest in the Ukrainian capital city’s central square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or Independence Square) as it unfolds. Director Loznitsa, working with a cameraman and an assistant, employs a rigorous formality, placing the camera on a tripod in various locations around the square to capture long, fixed, observational scenes of protest. Rather than following particular characters, the camera captures the movement of various actions, from peaceful to violent, benign to besieged. The soundtrack is made up of protestors’ chants, patriotic songs, poems, and speeches, part of the rich tapestry of the yearlong events. This riveting, poignant chronicle of a particular moment and movement is a timelessness tribute to civil protest.
Special Screening at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival
“One of the few documentaries about a recent revolution that won’t feel dated in five years” – Variety
“If the communards in Paris in 1871 had owned top-grade digital cameras, they would have made a movie much like Maidan” –Hollywood Reporter
Open Letter from Scholars and Experts on Ukraine Re. the So-Called “Anti-Communist Law”
David R. Marples, April 2015
To the President of Ukraine, Petro O. Poroshenko, and to the Chairman of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, Volodymyr B. Hroysman:
We, the undersigned, appeal to you not to sign into law the draft laws (no. 2538-1 and 2558)1 adopted by the Verkhovna Rada on April 9, 2015. As scholars and experts long committed to Ukraine’s regeneration and freedom, we regard these laws with the deepest foreboding. Their content and spirit contradicts one of the most fundamental political rights: the right to freedom of speech. Their adoption would raise serious questions about Ukraine’s commitment to the principles of the Council of Europe and the OSCE, along with a number of treaties and solemn declarations adopted since Ukraine regained its independence in 1991. Their impact on Ukraine’s image and reputation in Europe and North America would be profound. Not least of all, the laws would provide comfort and support to those who seek to enfeeble and divide Ukraine.
We also are troubled by the fact that the laws passed without serious debate, without dissenting votes and with large numbers of deputies declining to take part.
In particular we are concerned about the following:
 Concerning the inclusion of groups such as the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) as “fighters for Ukrainian independence”: Article 6 of this law makes it a criminal offense to deny the legitimacy of “the struggle for the independence of Ukraine in the 20th century” and public denial of the same is to be regarded as an insult to the memory of the fighters. Thus questioning this claim, and implicitly questioning anything such groups did, is being made a criminal offense.
 Law 2558, the ban on propaganda of “Communist and National Socialist Regimes” makes it a criminal offense to deny, “including in the media, the criminal character of the communist totalitarian regime of 1917-1991 in Ukraine.”
The potential consequences of both these laws are disturbing. Not only would it be a crime to question the legitimacy of an organization (UPA) that slaughtered tens of thousands of Poles in one of the most heinous acts of ethnic cleansing in the history of Ukraine, but also it would exempt from criticism the OUN, one of the most extreme political groups in Western Ukraine between the wars, and one which collaborated with Nazi Germany at the outset of the Soviet invasion in 1941. It also took part in anti-Jewish pogroms in Ukraine and, in the case of the Melnyk faction, remained allied with the occupation regime throughout the war.
However noble the intent, the wholesale condemnation of the entire Soviet period as one of occupation of Ukraine will have unjust and incongruous consequences. Anyone calling attention to the development of Ukrainian culture and language in the 1920s could find himself or herself condemned. The same applies to those who regard the Gorbachev period as a progressive period of change to the benefit of Ukrainian civil society, informal groups, and political parties, including the Movement for Perestroika (Rukh).
Over the past 15 years, Vladimir Putin’s Russia has invested enormous resources in the politicization of history. It would be ruinous if Ukraine went down the same road,
however partially or tentatively. Any legal or ‘administrative’ distortion of history is an assault on the most basic purpose of scholarly inquiry: pursuit of truth. Any official attack on historical memory is unjust. Difficult and contentious issues must remain matters of debate. The 1.5 million Ukrainians who died fighting the Nazis in the Red Army are entitled to respect, as are those who fought the Red Army and NKVD. Those who regard victory over Nazi Germany as a pivotal historical event should neither feel intimidated nor excluded from the nation.
Since 1991, Ukraine has been a tolerant and inclusive state, a state (in the words of the Constitution) for ‘citizens of Ukraine of all nationalities’. If signed, the laws of April 9 will be a gift to those who wish to turn Ukraine against itself. They will alienate many Ukrainians who now find themselves under de facto occupation. They will divide and dishearten Ukraine’s friends. In short, they will damage Ukraine’s national security, and for this reason above all, we urge you to reject them.
[The list of the 70 scholars who signed the Letter can be accessed at http://krytyka.com/en/articles/open-letter-scholars-and-experts-ukraine-re-so-called- anti-communist-law]
[An English translation of the “Law of Ukraine on the Legal Status and Honoring the Memory of Fighters for Ukraine’s Independence in the Twentieth Century” can be found at http://www.memory.gov.ua/laws/law-ukraine-legal-status-and-honoring-memory- fighters-ukraines-independence-twentieth-century]
“Decommunization” and Academic Discussion
Volodymyr Viatrovych 21 May 2015
After the Ukrainian parliament adopted the laws on decommunization, a number of myths have appeared that are rather distant from the text of the laws themselves. Some of them came about from a careless reading of these legal documents, and others from the critics’ desire to delegitmize the laws themselves. The maelstrom of struggle against the non-existent dangers of decommunization even pulled in Ukrainianists from abroad, who recently appealed to the President to veto the laws.
The letter, however, does not analyze the circumstances under which the Ukrainian parliament approved the “decommunization package,” nor does it analyze the international and internal Ukrainian context. The letter does not mention that similar laws were adopted by other Eastern European countries in order to overcome the totalitarian legacy of Communism. These steps were an integral element of democratic transformations, along with reforms in the economic and political realms.
The lack of a decommunization policy in Ukraine after its declaration of independence in 1991 was in part responsible for the revanchist neo-Soviet regime of Yanukovych. The persistent totalitarian past still stands in the way of Ukraine’s development as a European, democratic state. It is precisely on this island of “Sovietness,” which for historic reasons remained strongest in the Donbas and in Crimea, that Putin’s aggression against Ukraine is taking place. The bearers of Soviet values (and not ethnic Russians or Russophones, as Russian propaganda would have it) are today the main source of manpower for the terrorist bands of the so-called DNR and LNR. For this reason, the question of the decommunization of Ukraine is today not only related to social policy, but to security policy.
This is the reason the four laws were adopted with clear majorities. This is why pro- Russian deputies from the Opposition Bloc did not vote for them. The authors of the letter to the President referred to these deputies as deputies with “dissenting votes,” but they did not indicate that this position was born not out of their respect for free speech, which was supposedly limited by these laws. The absolute majority of those who did not vote on April 9, 2015 confidently hit the “yes” button on January 16, 2014, pushing Ukraine into the arms of a pro-Russian dictatorship. It is thus strange that the signatories of this letter, who regard themselves as defenders of freedom, are alarmed that these people did not vote.
It is also strange that the experts’ warnings regard two laws, which are directly tied to defending the values of freedom: the first [law draft 2538-1 - Ed.] pays respect to participants of the struggle for independence, and the second [law draft 2558 - Ed.] condemns Communist totalitarianism, one of the most striking personifications of unfreedom in the past century.
Let us now turn directly to an analysis of the criticisms. What disturbs the appeal’s authors most (as this is noted in point no. 1), is that the law on recognizing fighters for independence implements criminal responsibility for not recognizing the legitimacy of “the struggle for the independence of Ukraine in the 20th century.”
Perhaps an adequate knowledge of the Ukrainian language was lacking, even among respected Ukrainianists who speak other languages, such that they could not read the text of the Law of Ukraine “On the Legal Status and Commemoration of Fighters for the Independence of Ukraine in the 20th century” carefully enough to notice that the phrase “criminal responsibility” does not appear in the text being criticized.
Likewise, in the other law being criticized—on condemning the Communist and Nazi regimes—the ban on the use of their symbols does not extend to academic research. Because of this, the laws adopted by Ukrainian parliamentarians will not in any way influence academic discourse.
Only one of the laws of the “decommunization package” can influence academic life — that on opening the KGB archives. I am sure that the effect of this law will be exclusively positive, as it will allow a number of extraordinarily interesting facts to enter the discussion, facts that were previously inaccessible. But the signatories of the letter did not analyze this law, adopted along with the other three.
So, as we see, the concern about the possible interference of politicians in academic discussions, which was one of the main reasons behind the letter, is unnecessary.
Another motive of the authors is the desire not to allow Ukraine’s recognition of members of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the soldiers of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) as participants in the struggle for independence.
In their opinion, the UPA “slaughtered tens of thousands of Poles in one of the most heinous acts of ethnic cleansing in the history of Ukraine,” while the OUN is “one of the most extreme political groups in Western Ukraine between the wars,” and an organization that “took part in anti-Jewish pogroms in Ukraine.”
Of course, this characterization of the Ukrainian nationalist underground is present in discussions about its place and role in history. But this is only one of the opinions that has the right to exist.
As do other theses that argue that the image of UPA soldiers as xenophobes and anti- Semites was masterfully created over the decades by Soviet propaganda; and that this stereotype unfortunately still has a significant influence on historiography, although its influence is decreasing as previously secret archives are opened.
The authors of the letter are for some reason convinced that granting the legal status of fighters for independence to members of the OUN and the UPA will harm further research into the history of these structures. But an analogous status for participants of anticommunist movements in the Baltic countries and in Eastern Europe has not harmed research.
For example, Article 3 of the Czech law from July 9, 1993 on the illegality of the Communist regime and the struggle with it recognizes individual and collective resistance of citizens against this regime as “legitimate, fair, and morally justified” and that it is “worthy of respect.”
Another law on participants of the struggle with communism from July 20, 2011 recognizes the forms of this resistance, specifically, “armed or substantially similar struggle” and grants participants of this kind of fight the status of war veterans.
The Polish law from January 24, 1991 on combatants and other people who were victims of repression during the war and the post-war period, grants legal status to those who took part in battles and insurgencies or were members of military formations or organizations that fought for the sovereignty and independence of Poland. This list included, specifically, participants of underground organizations and partisan units from World War II, and also those who participated in the struggle with the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). This law requires “a deeply respectful attitude” towards combatants and victims of repression.
The Lithuanian law from January 23, 1997 on the legal status of participants of occupation resistance movements declares the entire period from June 1940 to March 1990 as a period of occupation. The Soviet and Nazi regimes that existed at that time on Lithuanian territory are recognized as illegal. Not only were members of the official structures of the Lithuanian state included as participants in the occupation resistance movement, but members of the various underground and partisan formations were included as well.
Granting the corresponding status to participants of resistance movements or the fight against occupation regimes has not harmed research in Poland, nor in the Czech Republic, nor in Lithuania. This also includes, in particular, the actions of participants of such a struggle that may have a criminal nature.
The same holds true of the Ukrainian law, which not only does not limit similar research, but on the contrary obliges the state to ensure “the comprehensive study of the history of the struggle for the independence of Ukraine in the 20th century and its fighters” and to support the activity of non-governmental organizations and institutions, which carry out similar research activities.
After all, Article 2 of the Law of Ukraine “On the Holodomor of 1932–33 in Ukraine,” in force since 2006, recognizes public denial of the Holodomor as illegal. This does not in any way impede comprehensive study of the Holodomor. I am convinced that the adoption of this law will become a powerful incentive for the de- politicization of the history of the OUN and the UPA. The question of their interpretation will at long last not be a matter for politicians, to be discussed during elections. This will in turn reanimate academic discussion, since a number of scholars refused to enter this discussion due to its excessive politicization.
Unfortunately, the authors of the letter, who regard themselves as experts in Ukrainian matters, did not fully realize why the recognition of these partisans is so important to today’s citizens of Ukraine. The history of the UPA, particularly its resistance to the Soviet totalitarian regime, is not simply a dramatic period of history. It is a part of Ukrainian culture. Partisan folklore includes hundreds of folk songs and is one of its richest among folklore sources—this is evidence of how seriously their struggle has affected the consciousness of Ukrainians. It has become an integral part of the tradition of the struggle for independence all the way to our times.
As a symbol of the opposition movement to the Soviet regime or to the corrupted governments of Kuchma and Yanukovych, the red-and-black flag could be seen at all three Ukrainian Maidan protests — in 1990, 2004, and 2013-2014. The Maidan Self-Defense divided itself into “hundreds,” named after the main tactical divisions of the UPA, and the Banderite “Glory to Ukraine!” became the official Maidan greeting. Ukrainian soldiers, who are defending Ukrainian independence and European freedom in the East, regard their struggle as a continuation of that of the partisans.
A political signal—at the highest level—that the Ukrainian State honors those who fought for its independence is extremely important for today’s soldiers and volunteers, because it means that they themselves will not be forgotten or dishonored.
Recognizing the criminal nature of the Communist regime is another cause for concern for the letter’s authors. In their opinion, one cannot speak about a condemnation of the entire Soviet period, because the 1920s became a time of the blossoming of Ukrainian culture.
But should this blossoming, which eventually grew into an executed renaissance in the subsequent decade, serve to justify a regime guilty in the intentional murder of millions of Ukrainians? Should the brutal reprisals against Ukrainian partisans and wealthy peasants in the 1920s remain out of the view of my colleagues?
Should successes in Hitler’s economic policies stand in the way of recognizing him as a criminal?
I deliberately raise the comparison with Nazism, because it appears that it is precisely the equation of both totalitarian regimes that disturbs the signatories. To me, they are equally criminal, and thus all of these regimes’ victims deserve remembrance and respect equally, no matter where they were killed — in Auschwitz or in the Gulag.
Finally, the last remark in the appeal altogether reminds one of the constantly repeated theses of contemporary Russian propaganda about “the Kyiv fascist regime’s disdain for war veterans.” “Those who regard victory over Nazi Germany as a pivotal historical event should neither feel intimidated nor excluded from the nation,” the letter reads.
Perhaps the authors lacked the patience to read another one of the four decommunization laws, “On the Perpetuation of the Victory over Nazism in the Second World War,” which, among other things, declares a respectful attitude toward the memory of victory over Nazism in the Second World War, toward war veterans, toward participants of the Ukrainian liberation movement, and toward the victims of Nazism.
Red Army veterans that fought against Nazism are among those recognized as war veterans by Ukrainian law. Monuments and memorial sites dedicated to participants and victims of the war are to be maintained and preserved. In addition, even the adopted limits on the public use of Soviet symbols do not affect monuments connected with resistance to and expulsion of the Nazi occupiers from Ukraine, nor to gravestones and any monuments located in cemeteries.
The signatories of the letter call themselves “scholars and experts long committed to Ukraine’s regeneration and freedom.” And there truly are such people among them. But not all of them are.
The publications of certain of its authors on “primordial Ukrainian collaborationism” and “the threat of Ukrainian fascism” not only undermined understanding of social processes in Ukraine, but were also actively utilized and continue being actively used by Russian propaganda in an information war against Ukraine in recent years.
It appears that the misuse of the first group’s trust by the second group was a reason for the appearance of this appeal, which itself has already become an instrument in this war.
[The following is a formal letter sent by Rada MP Yuri Shukhevych to Minister of Education Serhiy Kvit. The letter was subsequently sent to scholars in Ukrainian Academy of Sciences institutes –UKL]
27 April 2015
To the Minister of Education and Sciences of Ukraine Mr. Serhiy Kvit Letter from a Deputy
Taking into consideration the fact of appearance in the mass media of the open letter of so-called international scholars to the President of Ukraine and the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine with a request not to sign the bills No. 2538-1 (“On the Legal Status and Commemoration of the Fighters for the Independence of Ukraine in the 20th century”) and No.2558 (“On Condemnation of Communist and National Socialist Totalitarian Regimes in Ukraine and Ban on the Propaganda of their Symbols”) (the copy of the letter as circulating in the media is in the attachment), the fact that I was an author of the bill No.2538-1 and co-author of the bill No.2558, and the fact that the open letter contains an incorrect claim that the article 6 of the bill No.2538-1 introduces criminal responsibility for failure to acknowledge legitimacy of the struggle for independence in the 20th century:
I request to that true scholars (pravdyvykh naukovtsykh) prepare an open letter to the President and the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada that would counter the open letter of the so-called international scholars that was fabricated by the Russian special services (na sfabrykovanyi spetssluzhbamy Rosiis’koï Federatsiï).
I request that you furnish me with a written reply to this letter in the shortest possible time. I hope that Ukrainian scholars will come to the defense of the fighters for the independence of Ukraine. I am hoping for the fruitful cooperation for the cause of creation of the independent Ukraine, for which its best sons and daughters have sacrificed their lives and health!
Glory to Ukraine!
People’s Deputy of Ukraine Yuri Shukhevych.
Statement on Ukrainian Legislation on Historical Research and Debate
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum May 11, 2015
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is deeply concerned about a series of legislative initiatives that the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian Parliament, adopted on April 9, 2015.
Certain provisions of the proposed legislation on “The Legal Status and Honoring of Fighters for Ukraine’s Independence in the 20th Century” and “Condemning the Communist and National Socialist (Nazi) totalitarian regimes and prohibiting propaganda of their symbols” attempt to legislate how the history of Ukraine should be discussed and written, especially regarding the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA).
Ukraine from 1917 to 1991, under Soviet, German, and renewed Soviet control, was the setting of enormous suffering inflicted upon Ukrainians and many minorities, especially Jews and Poles, and of varying degrees of complicity from segments of the population with these totalitarian regimes. During this period, ruling authorities dictated the narrative of Ukrainian history solely according to their propagandistic goals.
Only after Ukraine achieved independence in 1991 could archives open to scholars and an honest examination of the past become possible. We applaud Ukraine for the initial steps it has taken and welcome the cooperation of various organizations, archives, and individuals with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
As Ukraine advances on its difficult road to full democracy, we strongly urge the nation’s government to refrain from any measure that preempts or censors discussion and politicizes the study of history. Ukrainian democracy must continue on the path of unfettered scholarly research and open debate on all aspects of the national past.
“De-Communization Laws” Need to Be Amended to Conform to European Standards
Vox Ukraine, 7 May 2015
On April 9, 2015 the Ukrainian parliament by a comfortable majority adopted four laws that have become collectively referred to as de-communization laws. These are law no. 2538-1 “On the legal status and honoring of fighters for Ukraine’s independence in the 20th century,” law no. 2558 ‘On condemning the communist and National Socialist (Nazi) totalitarian regimes and prohibiting propaganda of their symbols,” law no. 2539 “On remembering the victory over Nazism in the Second World War’, and law no. 2540 “On access to the archives of repressive bodies of the communist totalitarian regime from 1917- 1991.” The laws were adopted without public or parliamentary debate (being submitted to the parliament only on a few days prior and adopted in the first and immediately in the final reading), and immediately after their adoption have under criticism from a variety of fronts – from Russian Foreign Ministry to the Communist party leaders and former Party of Regions/now Opposition Block members, to Ukrainian human rights groups, Ukrainian historians, and western experts on Ukraine who have written a collective open letter calling on President Poroshenko to veto two of the four laws (on the legal status of fighters and on the totalitarian regimes).
Objections to the law have varied from hopelessly simplified rhetorical battles along the lines of “the laws are falsifying and re-writing “true” history/the laws are liberating “true” history from the clutches of the Soviet propaganda,” to the identification of specific troubling consequences of these laws. Among the latter, critics have noted the law’s potential to stifle open debate over history by introducing legal punishments for publicly expressing “wrong” opinions about the communist period or about fighters for Ukraine’s independence. Dangers of aggravating domestic divisions in Ukraine by alienating the south and east of the country, questionable choice of organizations included and not in the designation of “fighters for Ukraine’s independence,” and potentially significant costs associated with the renaming and removal of many thousands Soviet-era monuments and place names have also been noted by critics. The President so far has neither signed nor vetoed the law, while the parliament already introduced amendments to the law on totalitarian regimes relaxing some of the prohibitions on the use of the symbols of the communist regime in particular. The debate over the laws is far from over, and can be expected to heat up as the anniversary of Victory Day approaches.
The fundamental dilemma with decommunization in Ukraine is how to undo the legal, institutional, and mnemonic legacy of the Soviet era that mandated and institutionalized one “correct” interpretation of the past without repeating Soviet approach of mandating one “correct” interpretation and punishing public expressing of dissenting viewpoints. The intention to deconstruct political and legal memory regime created during the communist era is not by itself objectionable, and critics of Ukraine’s decommunization drive should be cognizant of the fact that simply calling for rejection of these laws does not leave Ukraine with a neutral or clearly morally preferable legal and public environment, but with a legal and institutional regime created in the Soviet period that has little changed since then. At the same time, if decommunization in Ukraine is to bring the country closer to Europe, the law condemning totalitarian regimes must comply with the standards reflected in the European resolutions condemning communism and Nazism. These resolutions are cited in the law on totalitarian regimes as having inspired the Ukrainian legislation, but, as this analysis will show, Ukrainian laws do not follow the letter and the spirit of either the principles contained in these European instruments, or of the decommunization legislation adopted in several other former Communist states.
More specifically, three of the four Ukrainian laws (on totalitarian regimes, on the fighters for independence, and, to a lesser extent, on the victor of Nazism) fall short in two respects. First, they do not move Ukraine away from the the highly politicized approach to history of the Soviet era, when the government mandated one correct interpretation of history, designated heroes and villains, and reduced historical complexities to the black and white picture of ideologically correct good “ours” versus ideological enemy “other.” Second, the laws do not reflect European standards of memorialization policies where honoring civilian victims of political violence holds center stage, and murder and brutalization of civilian population are condemned, regardless of the goals for which they were carried out. Ukrainian legislators, either on their own initiative or on the initiative of the President, should therefore further amend the laws to make decommunization conform to the European democratic standards.
Open debate about the past, not state-mandated correct memory
The Ukrainian law on totalitarian regimes refers to European documents, such as resolutions adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (COE), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the European Parliament, but the thrust of these resolutions is quite different from the thrust of the Ukrainian law. The Ukrainian law on the condemning communist and Nazi totalitarian regimes criminalizes “propaganda” of communist and Nazi regimes, which it defines, among other things, as “public denial of the criminal nature of the communist and Nazi regimes, … spreading of information aimed at justifying criminal nature” of these regimes, and also production, dissemination, or public use of products that contain symbols of communist and Nazi totalitarian regimes.
Propaganda of totalitarian regimes and spread of its symbols is to be punishable by 5 to 10 years imprisonment. The law on remembering the victory over Nazism in the Second World War prohibit “falsification of the history of the Second World War 1939-1945 in academic studies, teaching and methodological literature, textbooks, the media, public addresses by representatives of the authorities, bodies of local self-government and officials.” The law on the legal status of fighters for Ukraine’s independence legally forbids “public display of disrespectful attitudes” to the people defined as fighters for Ukraine’s independence, as well as “public denial of the legitimacy of the struggle for Ukraine’s independence in the 20th century.” Those engaging in such acts are to be punished “in accordance with current Ukrainian legislation.”
The problem with these provisions is that terms such as “public denial of the criminal nature of the regime,” “denial of the legitimacy of the struggle for independence,” “information aimed at justifying” regimes, “disrespectful attitudes,” or “falsification of history” are legally imprecise and leave open the question of who is to say just what specific actions constitute “denial,” “justification,” “falsification”, or “disrespectful attitudes.” According to one of the developers of the laws such determinations are to be done by courts, but asking a court to define what constitutes falsification of history, for example, hardly solves the problem since the question is inherently political rather than juridical. The inherent vagueness of what constitutes prohibited behavior, and the shadow of legal action, including imprisonment, for publicly expressing wrong opinions, can only stifle historical research and public discussion of the past.
In response to such criticisms proponents of the laws have claimed that scholarly research is exempt, but according to the publicly available text of the totalitarian regimes law on the Rada website, exemptions detailed in Article 4 para 3 apply only to the use of symbols of totalitarian regimes in scholarly research, and only on the condition that the research “does not deny criminal nature” of the totalitarian regimes and research results are made public “in a manner not prohibited by the Ukrainian legislation.” This again raises the question what kind of research will or will not be interpreted as “denying criminal nature” of the past regimes, and who’s to make such a determination. It likewise remains unclear what would constitute a prohibited and not prohibited way to disseminate research results, and scholarly research is not exempt from being designated as regime “propaganda” and associated criminal consequences.
By contrast, the European resolutions do not ban public expression of opinions about communist and Nazi regimes or “falsification” of history, but instead advocate open historical debate. Thus, the 2006 COE Assembly resolution condemning crimes of totalitarian communist regimes (not the nature of the regimes) advocates for historical knowledge, seeing “the awareness of history [as] one of the preconditions for avoiding similar crimes in the future.” The 2009 OSCE Parliamentary Assembly resolution likening and condemning Stalinism and Nazism noted “that an honest and thorough debate on history will facilitate reconciliation based on truth and remembrance.” The 2006 COE Parliamentary Assembly resolution calls on member states to “clearly distance themselves from the crimes committed by totalitarian communist regimes and condemn them without any ambiguity.”
The resolution thus condemns the crimes committed by the communist regimes, but, unlike the Ukrainian law, neither define the “nature” of the regimes, nor stipulates that individuals who held certain positions in the communist regimes are to be condemned by the mere fact of being officials in these regimes. The Ukrainian law on totalitarian regimes, by contrast, bans among other things media outlets from spreading information that “creates positive image of persons” who worked in state security organs or occupied leading positions in the communist party starting from the position of the rayon committee secretary and higher, unless their activities contributed to “the development of Ukrainian science and culture.” Again, no exceptions are made for academic research, so both scholars and the media outlets that may report on scholarly research will be left to wonder whether particular research findings may be construed as “creating positive image” of communist-era officials, and therefore a legally banned activity.
The European resolutions also do not conceive the dismantlement of communist regime legacy in terms of the mandatory removal of monuments to communist party leaders or renaming of streets and localities, as the Ukrainian law on totalitarian regimes does. Instead, the 1996 COE Parliamentary Assembly resolution on measures to dismantle the heritage of the former communist regimes defines this heritage not in terms of monuments, street names, or other visible markers of communist past but as “(over)centralization, the militarization of civilian institutions, bureaucratization, monopolization, and over-regulation; … collectivism and conformism, …blind obedience and other totalitarian thought patterns.” Conversely, measures to dismantle the communist regime heritage are “separation of powers, freedom of the media, protection of private property and the development of a civil society, … decentralization, demilitarization, demonopolization and debureaucratization.”
The 2009 COE resolution “Attitude to memorials exposed to different historical interpretations” similarly advocates very different approach to monumental legacy of the previous regimes from the one taken in the Ukrainian law. The Ukrainian law mandates removal of the monuments to communist era actors and events by orders of the local or, failing compliance, central government organs within 3 to 6 months period. Instead, the COE resolution recommends that member states “initiate the broadest possible discussions between historians and other experts on the complexity of the historical background of these monuments, their meanings to different segments of the societies, internally and, if appropriate, internationally.” The resolution also urges search for broad societal consensus over the fate of the monuments, positing that “it appears vital to seek consolidation of all major political forces representing different approaches when discussing the fate of such memorials, with a view to reaching sustainable final decisions based on the opinion of the majority.”
To truly comply with the European practices, the laws dealing with totalitarian regimes and fighters for independence ought to be amended in a way that actions defined by inherently ambiguous terms (“denial of the criminal nature of the regime,” “denial of the legitimacy of the struggle for independence,” “information aimed at justifying” regimes, etc) are not made punishable offenses, whether administrative or criminal. The prohibition on “falsification of history” should also be removed from the victory commemoration law, while on the issue of the renaming on localities and removal of monuments, at a minimum the time period for this process should be extended and the process itself made subject to broad local discussions, and preferably local referenda (that could take place simultaneously with the local elections scheduled for later this year, for example). Characterization of past regimes and past struggles for political goals constitutes an expression of political attitudes.
And while it’s true that a number of other post-Soviet states such as the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and the Baltic states also have laws on the books condemning communist regimes, not all of these laws introduce legal punishments for public expression of positions different from the one stated in the law. To take one example, the Czech law, recognized as among the most, if not the most, radical decommunization laws in the former Soviet block (July 1993 law on the Illegality of, and Resistance to, the Communist Regime), defines the Czechoslovak communist regime as “criminal, illegal and abhorrent” (Article 2 para 1), declared the Czechoslovak communist party to be a “criminal and abominable” organization (Article 2 para 2), and recognizes resistance to the regime as “legitimate, just, morally justified and worthy of respect” (Article 3). However, the Czech law does not contain any clauses banning or outlawing different public characterizations of the communist regime or of the resistance to the regime. If Ukrainian lawmakers decide to express a political position through decommunization laws, they should do so without banning or criminalizing alternative political interpretations of the past, including the Soviet past.
Honoring civilian victims, not perpetrators of civilian deaths
The second dimension on which Ukrainian laws’ conformity to the European standards and practices needs to be assessed is the European principles of memorialization whereby honoring civilian victims of armed violence holds center stage, and blood crimes against the civilian population are condemned, regardless of the goals for which they were carried out. This criteria pertains most directly to the law on the legal status and honoring of fighters for Ukraine’s independence. This law grants legal status of “fighters for independence of Ukraine” to member of a host of organizations, including member of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), and legally forbids “public display of disrespectful attitudes” to these people or “public denial of the legitimacy of the struggle for Ukraine’s independence in the 20th century.” By granting legal status and mandating respectful attitudes to all members of these organizations the law suffers from the same flaw as the 1993 law on the status of Soviet veterans. It makes a particular political allegiance (in this case to the cause of Ukrainian state independence) sufficient for legal recognition and honorable treatment, regardless of whether the individuals honored are guilty of the murder of civilians or other war crimes.
The 1993 law on the status of war veterans and guarantees of their social protection reflected Soviet ideological dogmas by defines as veterans and combatants all members Soviet armed formations, including the security and interior ministry troops, without exempting from status and state benefits either formations or individuals guilty of murder and brutalization of civilian population in the process of establishing Soviet rule in Ukraine. At the same time, the 1993 veterans law recognizes (article 4, part 16) as veterans and combatants only those member of the UPA who did not fight the Soviet regime after 1944, and “who did not commit crimes against peace and humanity.” There was thus both an ideological standard (one needed to have fought for, and not fought against, the Soviet state to be legally recognized as a veteran), and a double moral standard (committing crimes against humanity excludes from status only member of the UPA but not members of the pro-Soviet armed formations) in the veterans law.
The newly adopted law on the legal status and honoring of fighters for Ukraine’s independence suffers from the same flaw. While some historians and activists in Ukraine deny the role of members of the OUN and the UPA in war crimes, voluminous historical research produced through the peer-review process in the west has documented such involvement. The naked truth is that members of the OUN and UPA both fought bravely for the goal of Ukrainian state independence, but many members of these organizations also committed war crimes by participating in the Holocaust and the extermination of Polish civilians. And while it is appropriate for an independent state to acknowledge those who fought for state independence, it is not appropriate for a democratic state to attempt to whitewash the historical record and penalize public discussion of this record, or to honor those guilty of war crimes. The legislators should amend both the 1993 veterans law, and the law on the status of fighters for Ukraine’s independence, by exempting from legal recognition those who are guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Given that few subjects of these laws are still alive the measure would be mostly symbolic, but it will be sending the right message that Ukraine, as a democratic state, stands by the principle that those who murder of civilians for political purposes, regardless of what these purposes may have been, cannot be honored in a democratic state.
Such an approach would also be in line with the principles contained in the European resolutions, such as the 2006 COE Parliamentary Assembly resolution condemning crimes of totalitarian communist regimes which places emphasis on condemnation of the crimes and human rights violations perpetrated by such regimes and on honoring victims of regimes’ violence by extending “sympathy, understanding and recognition to the victims of these crimes.” The exclusion of perpetrators of blood crimes against civilians from legal status and state recognition would also be in line with the policies of other former communist states. Thus, the January 1991 Polish law “On combatant and certain victims of wartime and post-war repressions” excludes from the eligibility for status of combatant or victim of repression “those who committed murder or other crimes against civilians in the period to 31 December 1956 in connection with activities recognized as combatant activities or of equal status in the understanding of the Act, for which they had been condemned by a final and binding court sentence.” Similarly, section 4 para 4 of the 2011 Czech law “On the participants in anti-communist opposition and resistance” excludes from status of a participant in the anti-communist opposition and resistance those whose “involvement in the anticommunist opposition and resistance was led by condemnable motivation and/or who, during such an activity, acted in a condemnable manner leading towards the denial of the values of freedom and democracy, or acted in an especially condemnable manner leading towards the denial of individual principal human rights while such actions could be avoidable as part of acting against the communist regime in Czechoslovakia.”
Concluding observations, or how not to turn a window of opportunity into a trap
The victory of the Euromaidan and the outcome of the October 2014 legislative elections for the first time made it politically possible in Ukraine to legally undo Soviet legacy in the sphere of historical memory. If previous legislatures were nearly evenly split between forces that saw Ukraine’s future tied with Russia and those who wanted Ukraine to break with its Soviet past and history of Russian domination, the October 2014 elections for the first time in post-Soviet Ukrainian history produced the parliament where supporters of a pro-Russian course are in a lopsided minority. As recently as October 2014, seven attempts to put on the agenda draft law on recognizing the OUN and the UPA fighters as combatants in WWII failed in the Rada, but this April a package of decommunization laws, including the law recognizing the OUN and the UPA members as fighters for Ukrainian independence, was easily adopted by a comfortable majority. In the year since Euromaidan, public opinion in Ukraine has also became decidedly less pro-Russian, the change aided by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
At the same time, citizens of Ukraine remain divided on issues such as attitudes to the Soviet era and the OUN and the UPA, where regional differences between the south and east on the one hand, and the west and center on the other, remain prominent. How decommunization laws will go down with the society is an open question. Given the ongoing Russian aggression and Russia’s opposition to these laws, it is possible that the laws will produce less opposition than they would have just a few years ago. At the same time, by getting away with laws that threaten historical research, penalize public dissent, and white wash historical record under the guise of ridding the country of the communist totalitarian legacy the Ukrainian lawmakers will be doing a disservice to the prospects of democratization and true decommunization in Ukraine.
Historical Memory in a Time of War
by Dominique Arel
Chair of Ukrainian Studies University of Ottawa
Prepared for the Roundtable “War, State, and Society in Ukraine,” Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, 18 May 2015. The remarks were originally delivered in French at the roundtable “Histoires et mémoires: de la guerre à la paix”, at the academic festival “Histoire et Cité”, University of Geneva, Switzerland, 14 May 2015.
The memory war between Russia and Ukraine is about a simple idea. The Ukrainian narrative rests on the notion that Ukrainian identity is distinct from Russian identity, that this identity has political meaning, and that Ukrainians thereby form a nation capable of governing itself. This sentiment is subjective, “constructed,” in the vocabulary of social sciences, yet this subjectivity undergirds any identity, including, of course, Russian identity. As explained to us by my McGill University professor, when I was an undergraduate student back in the 1980s, at a time when Israeli government officials were claiming that Palestinians did not exist as a nation, the Palestinians form a nation because they say so. When such an affirmation is socially shared by a critical mass, which is impossible to quantify but can be reasonably assessed, such an identity affirmation has political implications. The Russian government, under President Putin, inspired by Soviet practice and a tradition of Russian nationalism, negates the very idea that Ukrainians form a nation and can thus decide of their destiny.
In this view, the ultimate locus of decision-making on fundamental orientations regarding Ukraine is Moscow, not Kyïv, and any serious resistance to these decisions is interpreted as threat to Russian security. In 1932, when local Ukrainian officials were alarmed that grain requisitions might cause a severe famine, this criticism was interpreted as a manifestation of Ukrainian nationalism. As a result, not only these local Communist officials, but virtually the entire Ukrainian cultural elite, who had developed the policy of Ukrainianisation in the 1920s, was liquidated. During World War II, the Ukrainian insurrection against the annexation of Western Ukraine, led by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgency Army (UPA), has been associated in the Soviet/Russian memory narrative with fascism. Russian memory, as appropriated by President Putin, makes no distinction between Ukrainian small “n” nationalism (the idea of self-governance, better known as self-determination), capital “n” nationalism, as in the acronym OUN (the violent discourse and action of a far right movement during the war) and fascism (a word that invokes the crimes of humanity perpetrated during the German occupation of Soviet territories). (On small and capital-n nationalism, see the latest book by Myroslav Shkandrij)
The OUN has been involved in mass violence against civilians during the war: participation in pogroms in July 1941, complicity in the liquidation of ghettos in 1942 et 1943, responsibility in the massacre of tens of thousands of Polish civilians in 1943. With the important exception of the work of a few, if not several Ukrainian scholars, Ukrainian public memory continues to omit the dark side of the Ukrainian wartime insurrection, preferring a narrative of glorification to what the French call “a duty to remember.” In this respect, the memory laws adopted last month in the Ukrainian parliament, and ratified this past Friday by President Poroshenko, are an important setback. By banning speech that might impinge on the “honor” of “fighters for independence,” and thus OUN/ UPA veterans and their memory, these laws impose heroisation and reject the kind of introspection inspired by the ethical understanding that contemporary memory must be erected from the experience of civilian populations. It is disappointing that these laws were the brainchild of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory, which remains fixated on a narrative of heroisation, and thus of historical amnesia, in contrast to the Polish Institute of National Memory, which has gone a long way towards acknowledging the responsibility of Polish actors during the war.
The Ukrainian insurrection in World War II was led by an extremist group – the only political movement which survived, in the underground, the destruction of civil society and independent political life in Western Ukraine by Soviet occupation forces, following the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the German war agaoinst Poland in 1939. In Ukrainian memory, however, the insurrection has acquired a meaning which goes well beyond the OUN, one that symbolizes resistance to the negation of the idea that Ukrainians form a distinct community. To be sure, Ukrainians were recognized as a “nationality,” but what this meant politically was entirely up to the Soviet regime and could not be challenged. Since the Soviet narrative – and in the past year Russian propaganda on TV and social media – associates small-n Ukrainian nationalism with fascism or Banderism (from Stepan Bandera, the OUN leader), then the average Ukrainian begins to identity with Bandera, not by affinity with the far right (then and now), not for supporting violence against civilians, but with an intent to resist. The OUN slogans – “glory to Ukraine”, “glory to heroes” – now routinely chanted by the Ukrainian middle class, many of whom prefer to use Russian in daily life, are thus acquiring a whole new meaning.
Russian official memory is in fact little interested in the responsibility of the OUN towards Jewish and Polish minorities. Soviet memory always negated the Holocaust as a Holocaust, that is, the idea that Jews were targeted as Jews, pretending that Soviet Jews were killed, like millions of others, as “Soviet citizens.” Meanwhile, focusing on the massacre of Poles in Volhynia in 1943 is vexing, due to the mass killing of Polish officers by the Soviet secret police (known then as the NKVD) in 1940. In the Russian memorial narrative, the “fascist” nature of the OUN is rather based on its “collaboration” with Germany. The OUN received training from German military counter-intelligence forces in 1940-41 and formed a militia subordinated to German security forces in the first months of the 1941 war, before being in its turn persecuted for nationalism, for having dared proclaiming an independent Ukrainian state. In Russian memory, this alliance with the fascist enemy (the Germans of World War II are always presented as “fascists,” and rarely as Germans or Nazis in the Soviet-Russian memory) discredits forever Ukrainian nationalism, more specifically, the idea that Ukrainians can organize themselves autonomously from Russia. A recurring trope is that this idea was imported “artificially” by Austria in the 19th century, as it has been infiltrated from the outside by the West, and especially the United States, during and since Maidan.
Ukrainians have long been divided on the meaning of wartime Ukrainian nationalist symbols. Eastern and Southern Ukrainians have been receptive to Soviet memory associating OUN with fascism, in part since their grandfathers and great uncles fought in the Red Army or served in Soviet security forces that reconquered Western Ukrainian in 1944. Russian annexation of Crimea, its military intervention in Donbas, but also the claims by President Putin that half of Ukraine (this “New Russia”, or Novorossiia) does not legitimately belong to Ukraine, is beginning to change enduring, and polarizing, perceptions among Ukrainians. Russian policy aiming to regionally divide Ukraine has the contrary effect of rallying Eastern and Southern Ukrainians – an important proportion of them – to the notion that the symbols of Ukrainian national memory, including war symbols, represent the idea of a state, a state for which it is now necessary to fight for, to risk one’s live, in order to preserve it.
Pro-Russian combatants in Donbas claim to protect themselves for Galician fascist nationalists (Galicia is the heart of Western Ukraine), the descendants of the OUN, while evidence shows that many more Russian-speaking soldiers from the neighboring province of Dnipropetrovsk have perished in combat: soldiers and combatants from Dnipropetrovsk whose parents likely adhered to Soviet memory of World War II, but who are now called fascists for defending their state, reinforcing in the process their sense of belonging to the Ukrainian nation. It is true that pro-Russian fighters in Donbas entirely coopt the Russian narrative demonizing Ukrainian nationalism. What was unexpected is that the memory war, with live ammunition, now opposes Eastern Ukrainians (from Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk and elsewhere) against other Eastern Ukrainians (mostly from Donetsk).
Ukraine is little inclined to seriously, and painfully, think about historical memory in bello, on the way the insurrection was conducted during World War II vis-à-vis civilians, and is likewise little inclined to do the same exercise regarding its responsibility towards civilians in its conduct of the current war in Donbas. The memory ad bellum, of a just war against Soviet occupation then and Russian intervention now, on the other hand, has the effect of enhancing Ukrainian identity, from West to East. This historic reconfiguration of Russian-Ukrainian relations, from an identity perspective, will eventually provide the foundations for peace, yet this reconciliation of memories will not occur without the democratization of regimes, incipient in Ukraine, but severely regressing in Russia. As the Russian analyst Maria Lipman aptly put it at a conference in Geneva last week, what democratisation really means here is rethinking the relations between the state and its citizens. The rigid Russian and Ukrainian memory narratives can change only if alternative narratives are allowed, socially and politically, to challenge them.
86% of Knots in the Stomach
Anna Colin Lebedev, Blog Mediapart, 31 May 2015
[translated by Dominique Arel for UKL]
86% of Russians continue to support the policy of Vladimir Putin in May 2015, according to a survey from the Levada Centre in Moscow. This impressive level of support has remained almost unchanged for a year, with a peak of 88% last October. There has been plenty of times to be frightened by it, to dissect it and to seek some explanations.
Many observers have pointed out that under current Russian conditions, the figure does not say much about what Russian citizens really think. In a state where anyone who opposes power becomes a potential target for attacks and persecutions, which answer can we get in a survey? Imagine a pollster who comes to your home to ask for your opinion on Russian politics: you do not have a clear idea of what a polling organization is; you, however, notice that the pollster comes to your home, sees your children, notes down your answer and who knows what he will do with it, even though he seems nice with his sheet of paper.
It is undeniably more reasonable for an ordinary Russian to answer yes, he supports the policy conducted by the President. A part of the 86% is thus a wise precaution with a tinge of fear. A figure indirectly confirms it: when in the same survey Russians are asked if their country is going in the right direction, only 60% say yes. Assuming that the same logic of fear of creating problems for oneself applies to this last question, we can once more deduce some points to this level of support. Would this bring us closer to 50%? Wouldn’t the diagnosis, in the last analysis, be thus less pessimistic?
If these 86% make us forget our Bourdieu and our Champagne [major French sociological thinkers –UKL], if for the past year, we constantly offer comments on these survey data, over and over, it is because, beyond the surveys, all of those who get close to Russia have noticed that their Russian contacts, colleagues, friends, and close ones have changed.
To say it reveals a failure of sociological thought, and this is why you won’t read it in serious journals. Yet this is what are many of us are talking about in hallways or back from fieldwork: they have become crazy (ils sont devenus fous). They have lost their heads. We can no longer talk to people who were close friends. It is af it any rational thinking is deformed, misrepresented. The topic of Crimea has to be especially avoided. The same goes for minorities or religion. Any topic has to be especially avoided. Researchers are perturbed by this, but we are strong enough to come up with a string of explanatory factors, often fair and relevant: the trauma of the 1990s, the memory of Soviet greatness, the Putin social contract, media propaganda…
And yet at the human level there is dismay (le désarroi humain), in my case anyway. The impression to see a society that we know and understand sink into the darkness and locking itself into an alternate reality, the impression of losing touch, not knowing how far this society could go.
The laws. A sensation of absurdity to comment laws more and more repressive and obscurantist, adopted without soul-searching and implemented without backlash, except for the legitimate but little-noticed indignation of the 13% of opponents. The law forbidding the adoption of Russian children abroad, the law on the NGOs as “foreign agents,” the law against offending the feelings of believers, the law banning the propaganda of homosexuality, the law against undesirable foreign organizations and finally, the last on the list, the decree classifying as state secret human casualties in armed conflicts and special operations. On the waiting list: a law limiting the right of abortion. Each time, the sensation of going down one stair. Each time, the sensation that any comment is pointless, as the majority of Russians seem indifferent to them. The violence of words and symbols. A violence so boundless (si épaisse) that it leave us speechless.
2014, celebration of the victory over Nazism. People rave about a “commemorative” sticker to put on one’s car: “1941-1945. We can do it again”. Beyond stickers, the same metaphor is everywhere. Greatness and power, measured by the capacity to submit the other. We really took them for a ride over Crimea.
2014, again. The Soldiers’ Mothers reveal that for the first time in the entire post-Soviet Russian history no mother – not a single one – has spoken out to protest against their son being sent to fight in Ukraine. “I understood for the first time that everything had changed in August, when soldiers’ parents called me to talk about these “training exercises” in the Rostov region [on the Ukrainian border]. I told them: “Go and take back your children!”. Not one went. It’s unexplainable. It’s pathological (c’est de l’ordre du médical)”, says the Director of the Union of the Committees of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia.
For many years, psychologists at the very official Institute of Psychology of the Academy of Sciences have reported a rise of violence in Russian society: greater verbal violence, a rise of “impulsive” crimes, family or marital violence in one households out of four.
2015. The web page “Children—404,” a group offering psychological support to teenagers becoming conscious of their homosexuality, is once again threatened to be shut down and her founder, a young journalist, condemned to pay a fine for having violated the law against the propaganda of homosexual relations to minors. She records threats, dozens of threats. The rare demonstrations of homosexual associations are severely repressed.
Statistics show an increase of suicides among teenagers. Consequently, parliament introduced, at the beginning of 2015, a bill that would ban the mention of suicides in the media, particularly how they happened. You close your eyes and the problem is no longer there, it is magic.
There is, of course, everything else. The thrill (exaltation) and the demeaning of the other. Racism is by now openly justified: Obama with a banana, it is so funny. Normal people begin to talk like government spokesmen, with the same semantic clichés. Stalin’s portraits are making a comeback. Repressions? What repressions? Why do we always have to talk about repressions?
The impression that a dam has burst open, spilling out a violence contained for several generations. Decades of silence on the hangmen and the victims where the boundaries between the two get blurry and everyone is a bit of both. Decades of trying to flee from the violence and inhumanity of state institutions: not ending up in a boarding school, not ending up in a psychiatric hospital, avoiding the sadist headmistress of the kindergarten, not ending up in the army, getting out as fast as possible from a maternity home. Generations crushed by state power, surviving and wounded, hiding their shame, unwittingly transmitting their experience to the next generations. Hundreds of thousands of Russians have marched for the 70 years of the victory over Nazism with the portraits of their closed ones who fought during the war. A beautiful initiative – a little stained by local administrations, but nevermind — which however entertains the idea of an avenging and saintly people whose past victory justifies anything that it might want to do now.
Manipulating the reference to the war and Nazism, constantly referring to the Soviet past, the Putin state has effectively awakened a monster, that of the violence transmitted from generation to generation. Today, the unbearable has risen to the surface, and we paint over a layer of glory and greatness to avoid seeing its frightening face. This common monster, most of the 86% share it. 86% of knots in the stomach, of the unsaid and the unthought.
I am more and more doubtful of the questions regarding the rationality of Russians or the logic of Putin power. Since the beginning of the war against Ukraine, I am permanently frightened by this black shadow which slides over the country. The war did not have historical foundations, but it has awakened historical experiences (elle a réveillé des histoires). The recent Ukrainian memory laws are only that: the attempt to legislate on a past that is eating (dévorer) the present. But this is another story.
The 86% of knots in the stomach make me much more afraid than the 86% of support to Putin. The President will disappear one day, but the Russians who today wish to crush their imaginary enemies will be left with their own internal monster, without varnish nor confetti.
Want to Get Really Mad About Ukraine? Watch Russian TV
The Daily Beast, 8 June 2015
The daily diet of the Kremlin’s ‘weaponized propaganda’ is not all lies—and it’s heating up Russians’ outrage over the war in Ukraine and the West’s role.
MOSCOW — A recent survey by Russia’s Public Opinion Research Center found that 60 percent of the Russian population gets its news from television and 75 percent trust what they see there.
Well, here’s what they’ve been watching.
Last Thursday every news program on Russian television aired video of wounded, bleeding women and men on stretchers at Donetsk hospital, and images of a destroyed city market set on fire by artillery during one of the fiercest battles in Ukraine in months. The shelling of Donetsk region intensified, and Russians could see many ruined private homes under fire. News presenters blamed the Ukrainian military for creating over 50 “provocations” endangering the ceasefire along the entire front line in Eastern Ukraine.
It blamed Kiev’s leadership for breaking the Minsk agreement from last February, and it blamed the West for backing Ukraine.
Thursday’s news reports covered clashes the day before in the fight for control over a town called Maryinka (also, Marinka), right outside the regional capital of Donetsk, that involved heavy artillery and tanks. Over 20 people were killed and at least 100 were injured in separatist-held towns, the reports said. The Ukrainian military deliberately chose sunset to shell the thickly populated town of Horlivka, Channel-5 reported. Vesti, a news program on the popular Russia-24 channel, quoted separatist Deputy Defense Minister Eduard Basurin insisting that Kiev plotted the attack on purpose. He claimed the Ukrainian military wanted to have a small victory to show before Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko addressed the Rada, or parliament. But “Kiev failed,” said Basurin. And the majority of Russians believed it.
Day after day, Russian television viewers discuss horror stories from Ukraine. After a short and largely quiet break, clashes have intensified on the front lines, and as they’ve grown increasingly violent, outrage against Ukraine’s military and its leadership have been heated up by the anti-Kiev and anti-West news coverage.
One heartbreaking story, particularly, has made many Russians shed tears. In a recent shelling incident at Horlivka, near a strategic crossroads just north of Donetsk, artillery hit the private home of the Tuv family. Several Russian channels broadcast interviews with Anna Tuv, a soft-spoken mother of three. She described how she found herself with here arm “torn off” after the explosion. It later was amputated up to her shoulder. She told how she dug her still-living 10-day-old baby girl from under the rubble and found her two-year-old son Zakhar wounded with shrapnel but alive. Then she saw that her husband Yuriy and their 11-year-old daughter Katia both had died. They were “torn into pieces” by the shelling, she said.
“I had goose bumps, when I saw poor Anna from Horlivka,” says Ruslana, a waitress at the Shokoladnica café on Pokrovka Street in Moscow. “That night I could not sleep and was thinking of the poor woman, how her life was destroyed in a few seconds.”
A majority of Russians, up to 47 percent, followed closely or very closely the Russian television news about the Ukraine crisis, according to Denis Volkov, a sociologist and independent pollster at the Levada Center, and 38 percent more follow the news without paying much attention. “A majority of Russians, up to 66 percent, believe that the war does not end because the West, Europe and largely the United States, back up Ukraine, and only 6 to 7 percent say that the war goes on because Russia’s leadership backs the rebels,” Volkov said.
Pro-Kremlin television continues to deny all allegations that there is a Russian professional military presence in Ukraine, convincing Russian viewers that all Western publications suggesting otherwise are just waging psychological operations against Moscow.
“According to our information, 25 US experts in information war recently arrived in Kiev,” pro-Kremlin activist Sergei Markov tells The Daily Beast. “Black and white” doesn’t begin to describe the situation, he says: “There are just the absolutely kind people of Donbas, and the absolute evil destroying them—Kiev backed by the West.”
As Washington searches for ways to counter what one Pentagon official described as Russia’s “weaponized propaganda,” the Russian people have lived the last year feeling that Kiev’s “absolute evil” is on the march.
It has to be said that independent international observers do confirm some Russian TV reports, or at least parts of them.
One striking example: An Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) patrol visited Anna Tuv’s largely destroyed house in Horlivka. The OSCE confirmed to The Daily Beast that Anna’s husband and 11-year-old daughter were killed immediately, that Anna did lose her arm and was staying at the hospital with her two-year-old son, who is severely injured, and her two-week-old daughter, who has minor injuries.
So Russian television was right about that much. But, then, there’s this.
The Russian television reports and locals in Donbas blamed the Ukrainian military for Anna Tuv’s tragedy. But the official report from the OSCE says that the Ukrainian military alleged on that day, May 26, the “shelling of Horlivka came from Mine 6-7 (42 km north- north-east of Donetsk and 7 km north-west of Horlivka respectively),” in areas controlled by the separatist, Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic.
It’s often said that in any war truth is the first casualty. Unfortunately, it is rarely the last.
How Not to Monitor Russia’s Border with Ukraine
Carnegie Europe, 30 April 2015 http://carnegieeurope.eu/strategiceurope/?fa=59942
Each day and night, monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) keep watch on Russia’s side of the country’s border with Ukraine. The monitors—nineteen in total (yes, nineteen)—have a mandate to observe what happens at the Russian checkpoints of Donetsk (not to be confused with the Ukrainian city of Donetsk) and Gukovo.
That mandate began in July 2014 and should have had more importance. Indeed, it should even have been strengthened after the Minsk II ceasefire accord reached in February 2015 by French, German, Russian, and Ukrainian leaders. But it wasn’t.
The aim of the ceasefire deal was to end the fighting in eastern Ukraine between pro- Russian rebels and Ukraine’s armed forces. While the fighting has certainly subsided, facts on the ground have been firmly established in parts of eastern Ukraine where pro- Russian forces hold sway.
The OSCE monitors have no illusions about the difficulties in implementing the ceasefire. Indeed, the monitors are so hindered in almost everything they do that they have no idea what and who crosses over from Russia to Ukraine each day. What they do know is that weapons and soldiers from Russia can and do easily cross into Ukraine, where they can then supply the rebel-held areas of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine. That is the assessment of OSCE diplomats who are familiar with the Russian crossing points and who spoke to Carnegie Europe on condition of anonymity.
The nineteen monitors, who take it in turns to observe in pairs over a twenty-four-hour stretch, keep watch over a mere 20 meters (66 feet) of land that divides the entry and exit points of the Russian frontier crossings at Donetsk and Gukovo.
In theory, that should give the monitors plenty of opportunity to see exactly what is taking place. In practice, they can see. But that is all. What they see does not always reflect the reality. “We don’t have any law enforcement capabilities,” an OSCE diplomat said. “We cannot inspect.”
According to another OSCE diplomat, since the end of February 2015, almost every day about 100 men, and some women, dressed in camouflage have entered Ukraine through these border crossings. “Some have told us they are volunteer fighters,” the diplomat said. “They all carry rucksacks. And they carry weapons, but nonlethal ones.” How many volunteers cross the other border points is anyone’s guess.
Then there are the many civilians who cross too. The OSCE has no idea if any of them are volunteers. What the organization does know is that from July 2014 until the end of February 2015, some 2 million civilians have gone back and forth, many seeking refuge in Russia but returning to Ukraine once it was safe to do so.
Just as the OSCE is powerless in stopping fighters from entering Ukraine, so too they are powerless in inspecting the so-called humanitarian aid lorries. “We simply don’t have full freedom to check them,” the diplomat explained.
That’s an understatement. On any given day, if a truck crosses, the monitors can “check” it. “The trucks are visually checked by opening their back doors. You look at what you see. You can’t climb into the truck. This is not an inspection. It takes less than a minute,” he added.
There are special X-ray systems in which a truck drives through an open-ended container that can scan the vehicle’s contents. “The Russians don’t allow that,” the diplomat said. “So we have no idea what’s in any of the trucks.”
Things aren’t much better for the team of OSCE monitors who are supposed to observe the ceasefire on the Ukrainian side of the border. They are not allowed to approach those parts of the frontier held by the rebels.
And even if they want to observe what is happening along the ceasefire lines, they have to ask permission or are escorted by the rebels. There is no scope for spontaneity. Besides, it is still dangerous. The daily report issued on April 27 by the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine makes for grim reading. It described how the area around Ukraine’s Donetsk airport had “seriously deteriorated.”
Some 550 explosions were heard near Donetsk. “Approximately 90% of all the explosions were caused by 120mm mortar and heavy artillery rounds. The number of violations in this area has increased sharply compared to the violations recorded in the previous days,” according to the report. And the village of Sakhanka, just 24 kilometers (15 miles) east of Mariupol, a strategic city still under Ukrainian control, was shelled on April 25.
This upsurge of fighting may be a prelude to the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War Two, which will be celebrated with a huge military parade in Moscow on May 9. Whatever the outcome, the OSCE monitors know what they cannot do. And even if they called for a more robust mandate, they would never obtain it. It would be vetoed by one of the organization’s 57 members—Russia.
Putin denies Russian troops are in Ukraine, decrees certain deaths secret
by Karoun Demirjian
The Washington Post, 29 May 2015
MOSCOW — If there was one weak spot in Russian support for the Kremlin’s aims in Ukraine this year, it was the population’s strong aversion to sending in Russian troops — something Russia denies doing, despite mounting international evidence to the contrary.
Now, Russia can ignore that evidence — as well as any questions citizens might raise — since President Vladimir Putin signed a decree classifying certain peacetime deaths of soldiers as state secrets.
Putin signed an order Thursday making the deaths of Russian troops lost during “special operations” a secret, amending a previous decree that limited such secrecy to deaths of soldiers in wartime. Some watchers can see only one plausible reason for the change: Russia is gearing up for another military push into Ukraine.
“We’re in a prewar situation. Right now there’s going to be another campaign in Ukraine,” said Pavel Felgenhauer, a military analyst based in Moscow, who added that Russia was being secret about losses because “we’re fighting a secret war.”
But war brings about the sort of casualties that can serve as proof of Russia’s involvement in Ukraine, Felgenhauer pointed out.
“If foreigners know about the losses of soldiers in Donbass, that’s not very good,” he said, using a term that refers to eastern Ukraine. “But more important is that the Russian public doesn’t know. So it’s going to be a secret, as it was in Soviet times.”
Russia has long denied its troops are operating in Ukraine, dismissing as fabrications reports of training camps, troop buildups and even the testimony of captured Russian soldiers claiming to be on active duty.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Thursday that the decree is a simple upgrade of state privacy laws that “has nothing to do with Ukraine” and that Putin had no plans to green light a special operation there.
Yet dead and missing soldiers speak to the Russian population louder than NATO satellite images tracking Russian troop movements. And last summer, as news of troops returning from Ukraine in caskets reached the Russian people, the government narrowly avoided an internal crisis.
Eventually, mothers of Russian soldiers clamoring for information on their sons captured in Ukraine were muzzled, while politicians who publicized the secret funerals and burials of Russian soldiers thought to have died in Ukraine were reportedly beaten.
Russia has a history of secrecy surrounding the deaths of troops. The country spares no ceremony celebrating its military victories and prowess, but there are still many families who don’t know what happened to their war dead, in World War II or any of the military campaigns that Soviet troops fought in the decades after. Russians don’t even know how many people who died in those conflicts were civilians vs. soldiers, because the state kept such figures secret.
But one thing is sure: Much as they may support Putin’s Ukraine policies, Russians don’t want to repeat the experience of suffering mass losses over a conflict in another country. Last year, one state-run poll found that two-thirds of Russians opposed sending troops into Ukraine, while barely more than a quarter of the population supported the idea.
Nonetheless, reports continue to emerge about how Russia has been building up its troop presence near the Ukrainian border. A Bloomberg report this week cited U.S. lawmakers claiming that Russia was operating mobile crematoriums in eastern Ukraine to hide its dead — and thus hide its involvement in the conflict.
And then there’s the image that the decree’s terminology — “special operations” — drums up. “Special operations” is “a new term to identify a new reality” without a legal definition, presidential Human Rights Council member Sergey Krivenko told Russian news outlet RBK on Thursday.
But Russians have heard the term before during Putin’s presidency — in connection with such campaigns as the second Chechen war, the 2008 conflict in South Ossetia and, most recently, last year’s annexation of Crimea.
The Assault on Kiev Pride
The New Yorker Blog, 6 June 2015
To gain admission to the March for Equality, which took place today and was the sole public, outdoor component of Kiev’s Pride Week, one had to register. In order to register, one had to fill out a sizable online questionnaire and give the name and phone number of at least one person trusted by Pride organizers who could vouch for the applicant. If approved, on the morning of the planned march the applicant would receive a text message with the address of the event. These precautions were taken to insure that far- right activists who had sworn to attack the march wouldn’t know where to go and so that the organizers could call every potential participant’s phone in case the police failed to show up to protect the marchers. The plan for the latter eventuality turned out to be unnecessary; the precautions failed to prevent the former from happening.
Kiev Pride organizers had been in negotiations with police for a month. According to the event’s executive director, Anna Sharygina, in the days leading up to the march they were meeting daily—still, the police would give no promises. They did, however, insist on a specific location for the march, near a golf club and a small gated community on the embankment of the Dnieper River on the outskirts of the city. Late into the night, the organizers were making contingency plans for “what we would do if we showed up and there were three cops there,” Sharygina told me. When they showed up, they found several buses full of police in riot gear—but also a number of young men and at least one woman wearing black T-shirts with the logo of Right Sector, the ultranationalist coalition that had threatened violence.
“Right now, during the war with Moscow,” the Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh wrote on his Facebook page on the eve of the march, we “will be forced to be distracted from other things in order to stop those who hate the family, break morals, and destroy morality and the traditional concepts of humankind.” He went on to say that the West is exercising too much influence over Ukraine “in order to force them to introduce the ideology of L.G.B.T. people.” Here the Right Sector seems to see eye-to-eye with the enemy in Moscow, which has long claimed that Ukraine’s move westward will expand the influence of the homosexual lobby.
Many of the marchers who came on Saturday had also been at the 2013-2014 protests in Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kiev’s central square, that ultimately toppled the country’s old pro-Moscow government. The right to march unassailed with a rainbow flag was part of what they felt they had won in the revolution. In Warsaw, the nearest capital city to the west, the Pride Parade will be held a week later and will, as it has for each of the last few years, draw thousands of people to an extravaganza of floats and flags that looks as much like a party as any other western Pride celebration. In Moscow, the nearest capital city to the east, an unsanctioned Pride Parade was attempted a week earlier; its participants were beaten and arrested, and two of the organizers are still serving their ten-day jail sentences. It was to underscore the march’s Maidan heritage that the participants chanted one of the revolution’s most popular slogans: “Human rights come first!”
Shortly before 10 A.M., about two hundred and fifty people, surrounded by roughly twice as many police and interior troops in riot gear, stood in formation and chanted for about fifteen minutes before setting off. I was among them, and no sooner did we start walking forward than the volunteer marshals in baby-blue baseball caps and crossing-guard vests told us to retreat. The police were beating back gay-bashers, some of them dressed in the Right Sector’s black T-shirts and others in camouflage uniforms. The attackers were throwing flares and firecrackers, but after about a minute, all seemed safe. As more police in riot gear ran toward the front, soon-to-be marchers applauded. As the police led back the gay-bashers they had detained, some of whom screamed “Death to the faggots!” the crowd chanted, “Riot, love, and don’t give up your rights!” After a few minutes, happily, the volunteers led the marchers to reassemble in groups, five people across and five people deep.
Then I noticed a group of Red Cross staffers working on a policeman who was lying on the ground. Apparently, the attackers had modified firecrackers by adding small metal fragments to them, and one had hit the man in the neck, severing his left carotid artery. He was bleeding out on the grass. It took a city ambulance about fifteen minutes to arrive. It attempted to drive down a steep set of stairs down to the embankment and got stuck. A couple of paramedics ran down with a stretcher, and no fewer than a dozen policemen carried their colleague back, one holding his hand on the man’s neck to stem the bleeding. A new ambulance, from the Red Cross, had arrived by then.
The march finally began at 10:30—half an hour after the appointed time—and lasted all of ten minutes. Chanting, “Rights are not given, they are taken,” we walked past a large puddle of blood. The police were now massed at the front. Behind us, they had, I was told, sealed the entrance to the embankment. But walking in the back row, I saw scores of people suddenly running after us. Had the thugs broken through the police barrier? As they got closer, I saw that all of them were holding objects up in front of their faces— cameras, tablets, and cell phones. These were journalists, who had been given a different address at which to assemble and had just been bussed in, as the last of our twenty-five rows of people was about to arrive at the end of the short route.
The organizers had been able to secure two buses—one to bring in the journalists and the other to ferry out the dignitaries—two members of parliament, the Swedish ambassador, and a few other foreigners. One of the bus companies, Sharygina told me, had told the organizers “We’ll take the diplomats and the journalists but not the faggots.” All the other companies they approached refused their business altogether. Sharygina spent weeks trying to organize transportation away from the site of the march, and failed. At the beginning, the volunteer marshals had instructed us, “Do not break off in singles or in pairs. Walk to surface public transportation in large groups. Do not descend into the Metro or underpasses.” Now the instructions came from the golf club’s security chief, a burly middle-aged man in a polyester polo shirt: “Get the fuck out of here, faggots!”
We walked away in a group of about thirty people, trailed by a dozen riot police in black. One of the Red Cross staff who had worked on the badly injured policeman was walking just ahead of me, next to Sharygina.
“A cop was injured because of you,” he said.
“I am so sick of this!” Sharygina, a stout woman with a shaved head, shot back. “You are blaming the victim! We are not the ones who endangered the cops! The people who attacked them did that!”
Right around then, someone screamed, “Run!” We ran, chased by thugs, for a few minutes, through a nineteen-eighties apartment block and across a wide street. But then the police seemed to have held back the attackers. We stopped. One of the organizers called me a cab.
“Why don’t we go into a store to wait?” I asked.
“Because they are all closed,” the organizer, a Maidan veteran named Maria Makarova, answered calmly.
And then there were people coming from the other direction, saying that they were running away from attackers. The thugs were now on both sides of the street. I saw a bus pulling up and ran toward it, but the driver wouldn’t open the doors. Joined by several more people, I pounded on the glass, to no avail. Then a bottle whistled past my left ear and broke on the ground a few feet ahead. Our little group ran into the street and then to the other side, where a too-small clump of cops stood. An explosion sounded on the other side of the street.
“Get the fuck out of here, faggots!” The polyester-polo man was trying to push us back out into the street.
And then a bus going in the opposite direction opened its doors, and we all piled in.
Makarova, standing next to me, paid the fare. Then she calmly called to cancel the cab. Then she said, smugly, “You know, that bottle that almost hit you—that was supposed to be a Molotov cocktail too. They can’t even make one right! Everyone who was really at the Maidan can make a good Molotov cocktail every time.”
The fighting continued for at least an hour. Ten march participants were injured, none of them seriously. Five policemen were injured in all, including two who were struck during the march itself—the one with the severed artery was in the hospital in serious condition. Twenty-five people had been arrested, none of them from among the marchers, and this, of all things, signalled that a new era had begun.
But the rest of Pride Week’s events had to be cancelled, because of ongoing threats, because the locations had been leaked, and because, Sharygina said, “the bashers didn’t get their satisfaction.”
With Broken Economy And Scarce Jobs, Ukraine’s Displaced People Depend On Volunteers
International Business Times, 29 March 2015
KIEV, Ukraine -- A year ago Larissa Bilotserkovets, 61, stood in Donetsk with a Ukrainian flag wrapped around her shoulders. As people around her waved Russian flags and shouted “Russia!” she, standing alone, argued Ukraine should turn westward and enter the European Union.
But that did not happen. Donetsk and nearby Luhansk became instead self-proclaimed “People’s Republics,” led by pro-Russian rebels who want to turn eastern Ukraine the other way, toward Moscow. Their war with the Ukrainian government has killed more than 6,000 people and displaced more than 1.5 million. Today Bilotserkovets is one of the latter, an internally displaced person. During the winter of 2013, she traveled to Kiev to participate in the demonstrations that ousted pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych: Today she’s back in the capital as a displaced person who had to reinvent her life.
The separatists arrested her last year when she started inquiring about tanks and weapons appearing in her hometown of Makiivka. Released after falling ill in captivity, she moved to Kiev with help from volunteers with an aid organization. Internally displaced people (IDP) like her now number 1.17 million, statistics from the Ministry of Social Policy indicate. Additionally, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees estimates more than 500,000 people left Ukraine for Russia and more than 80,000 went to Belarus due to the conflict in the eastern Donbas region.
Many of those 1.17 million IDPs would not have been able to make ends meet without help from thousands of volunteers. In Kiev, the arrival of thousands of displaced people has created a huge need for jobs, a major strain in an economy among the poorest in Europe.
When people first arrive in Kiev, “they need everything,” said Dmytro Klochko, a volunteer from the Order of Malta at an aid center on Frolivska Street in Kiev’s hip Podil neighborhood.
Volunteers from Kiev, Donetsk, Luhansk and even Spain sort donations that fill a drop-off room to the ceiling, including items ranging from food and hygiene supplies to clothing and dishware. The center’s tent kitchen has been cooking 100 litres (30 gallons) of soup six days a week since November.
The volunteer initiative helps people for 45 days so they can get back on their feet, center coordinator Lesya Litvinova said, explaining it has assisted around 30,000 families. But 45 days are not always enough.
“The main problems are housing and jobs,” said Varvara Zhluktenko, a communications and outreach officer at the International Organization for Migration’s Kiev office. “The situation with finding jobs is not straightforward.” People from the Donbas region worked mainly in factories, mines and metallurgy, industries that do not exist at all in Ukraine’s capital. In Kiev, there’s a need for people with IT skills, as well as sales, hotel and restaurant experience, said Iryna Koval, co-founder and coordinator of the Free People Employment Center, who has been working with volunteers across Ukraine to help people find jobs and acquire new skills. Things are a little better for displaced persons from Crimea, who frequently worked in the tourism industry.
In addition to a website where people can ask for help and post resumes, the Center offers courses, master classes, and training, all free of charge. Koval has recently launched a pilot program aimed at soldiers returning from war who will need to find jobs. To date, the center has helped more than 3,800 people find work or add to their skill sets.
Bilotserkovets is one of its success stories. After she left eastern Ukraine, aid organization Donbas SOS helped her find housing, and volunteers referred her to the Center. She now works as a cleaner at Juniper, a hipster bar in the Podil neighborhood. She is thankful for the job and smiles as she describes the bar’s clientele as “so young.”
For many Ukrainians more than 40 years of age, making a career switch would be unusual enough without the added burden of being displaced. One of those helping ease that transition is Sergey Marchenko, the development director at work.ua, Ukraine’s largest jobs website.
The company, headquartered in the eastern city of Dnipropetrovsk, took a corporate social responsibility approach to Ukraine’s internally displaced crisis by asking employers who post vacancies on the site if they would be willing to hire IDPs. More than 80 percent said they would, so the company created a handshake logo in blue and yellow, the national colors, designating businesses ready to hire resettlers.
“We have a war, but it’s very insidious. Putin is fighting with us and not fighting with us,” Marchenko said, referring to the Russian president’s denial he is supporting the rebels even as advanced Russian weapons are photographed in the hands of the separatists. “In some Ukrainian towns someone could think everything is normal,” he added. “When we made these symbols we thought people would once again be reminded that we have a war and there are people who need help.”
Koval and Marchenko admit some tensions still exist with employers or housing owners unwilling to hire or rent to people from Donbas because of fears they will not remain for long or because of prejudices associated with the conflict. Both, however, say the majority of people with whom they’ve worked have been willing to do what they can to help.
Some displaced persons, like Inna Chegoleva, aren’t going back. A doctor from the eastern town of Stakhanov with 17 years of experience, she now makes just $80 a month, too little even to rent her own place. But she is looking for more work and laying down new roots with the mindset that her life from now on will be in Kiev.
“I have never had one thought about returning there,” she said. “My only worry is that my parents are still there.”
She lives with a friend also from Stakhanov, a town in the Luhansk region named after the legendary Soviet miner who was upheld by Stalin for surpassing his labor quota. The friend, Elena Namochenko, ran a successful shop selling clothing and cosmetics from Belarus. When her son John, 19, was called a fascist by classmates for wearing a traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirt to school, she knew something had dramatically changed. And after her husband Vyachyslav participated in a pro-Ukrainian rally in April, he was warned rebels had added his name to a list. Feeling targeted, the family left eastern Ukraine in June for Belarus before heading to Kiev in September. They fled without having a home or anyone to turn to elsewhere in Ukraine.
Her husband, an auto technician, posted on an online automobile forum that they needed to find a place to live in the capital to be near their son who had started attending university. A stranger replied, offering an old apartment. The Namochenkos renovated the place and worked out a payment plan with the owner. The husband was able to find work quickly because of his hands-on technical skills.
“Kievans really nicely welcomed us when we arrived,” she said. Namochenko has started over, by turning to former business partners who were able to give her goods to set up another clothing shop. She opened in October, and is working to build up a client base.
Once Namochenko was settled, she urged Chegoleva to join her in Kiev. She arrived after the new year, and settled in the small apartment. “I have my corner,” Chegoleva said, with a smile and laugh. Like Namochenko’s son, her daughter, Daria, 17, has started university in the capital.
“Finding work in Kiev is really hard because there are a lot of people like me here,” she said. She eventually found employment as a doctor, but has to commute to a city outside the capital.
Like many who were forced to leave their homes, the women from Stakhanov still think about how the conflict emerged and how lifelong neighbors suddenly turned on one another. They all point to Russian propaganda as one of the causes. Namochenko now wonders if perhaps things have worked out they way they were supposed to, sending them to a place where, unlike in Donbas, they now feel welcome.
In Memory: Leonid Plyushch
Human Rights in Ukraine, 4 June 2015
Leonid Plyushch, an active member of the Soviet human rights movement and victim of punitive psychiatry has died in France. He was 76, and had lived in France since being exiled from the Soviet Union in 1976 following a major campaign for his release from incarceration in a KGB psychiatric ‘hospital’. Although concentrating mainly on literary issues in recent years, Leonid Ivanovych followed events in Ukraine and always responded when voices were needed against injustice.
Leonid Plyushch was a mathematician by profession, though became known for his publicist writings and literary analysis, as well as for his autobiography ‘History’s Carnival’. He was born in Kirgizia on 26 April 1939, but spent his childhood and the years until exile in Ukraine. His professional career as mathematician in the USSR largely ended in 1968 due to his human rights activities.
Leonid Ivanovych was a vital link between Ukrainian and Russian dissidents. In 1964 he wrote a letter to the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party proposing democratization of the Soviet system. That letter and other writings were published in Samizdat. At the time Plyushch remained a committed Marxist, still believing in ‘socialism with a human face’.
In 1968 he was dismissed from the Cybernetics Institute of the Academy of Sciences for a letter sent to the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda in support of Alexander Ginsburg who was on trial. Around that time he began passing information to the Chronicle of Current Events [Khronika tekushchikh sobitiy], a Samizdat publication which was vital in informing of Soviet repression.
He signed many appeals during years where each signature could result in arrest and persecution. These included a letter in 1971 to the Fifth International Congress of Psychiatrists calling on the profession to fight punitive psychiatry in the USSR, as well as letters in support of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Andrei Sakharov and Vladimir Bukovsky.
In 1969 he became a member of the Initiative Group for the Defence of Human Rights in the USSR, the first such rights group in the Soviet Union. Together with other members, including Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemiliev, he signed a letter to the UN asking for the Soviet Union’s violation of the fundamental right to hold and circulate independent views to be formally discussed.
In 1974, on the 30th anniversary of the Deportation of the Crimean Tatar People, the Initiative Group sent a letter to the UN Secretary General asking him to help enable the return of the Crimean Tatars to their homeland.
He was arrested on Jan 15, 1972 (during the second wave of arrests in Ukraine) and charged with ‘anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda’. In July 1973 he was forcibly incarcerated in the notorious Dnipropetrovsk Special Psychiatric Hospital and held there until January 1976. The ‘diagnosis’ was of ‘sluggish schizophrenia’, the standard gobbledygook used against victims of punitive psychiatry. His case attracted a lot of attention abroad and there were many protests over his effective imprisonment. This resulted in his being deported from the Soviet Union in January 1976. Probably needless to say, he was found to be mentally fit and well by psychiatrists in the West.
In recent years, Leonid Plyushch concentrated mainly on literary criticism, but also followed events in Ukraine and Russia. He had a wonderful sense of humour, witty though gentle, and his analysis was always clear-headed and free of any jargon or stereotypes. As mentioned, he was always ready to add his voice in defence of those facing repression.
He will be sorely missed. Eternal Memory
Leading Economist Anders Åslund to Deepen the Atlantic Council’s European and Eurasian Expertise
20 May 2015
The Atlantic Council named Anders Åslund, one of the world’s most renowned experts on Ukrainian and Russian political economy, as a Senior Fellow in its Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center with a dual appointment in its Global Business and Economics program. Dr. Åslund is a leading specialist on East European economies, and has served as an economic adviser to several European governments. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko recently appointed Dr Åslund to his International Advisory Council for Reforms. His appointment strengthens the Council’s extensive work on Ukraine, expands the Council’s work to include Russian political economy, and reinforces the Council’s focus on the growth crisis in Europe.
Atlantic Council President and CEO Frederick Kempe said, “As a prolific writer, creative thinker, and problem solver who has extensively studied the implications of economic transition in Europe’s East, Anders brings a lifelong understanding of the dynamics in the region. He will be the Council’s leading voice on the perilous economic challenges facing Europe and Russia at this critical juncture in their history.”
Dr. Åslund welcomed the opportunity to join the Atlantic Council saying, “I am happy to join such a lively and dynamic think tank that has had a positive impact on policymaking. The Atlantic Council’s unparalleled work on Ukraine, which is vital at this time of conflict with Russia, has had a real impact on policy decisions. I also look forward to participating in the Council’s effort to revive growth in Europe.”
Dr. Åslund brings to the Atlantic Council a wealth of diplomatic and academic experience on issues related to the economies of Europe’s East. He is the author of thirteen books, the most recent being Ukraine: What Went Wrong and How to Fix It. He began his career as a Swedish diplomat, serving in Kuwait, Geneva, Poland, Moscow, and Stockholm. From 1989 to 1994, he was Professor and founding Director of the Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics at the Stockholm School of Economics. He has also been a scholar at the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies, the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the Brookings Institution.
Shevchenko Foundation rewards Matthew Fisher for reporting on Ukraine
2 June 2015
Matthew Fisher of PostMedia News is the sixth recipient of the John Syrnick Award for Journalism, sponsored by the Ukrainian-Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko. Matthew was chosen from among 29 Canadian journalists who provided illuminating coverage of Ukraine’s crisis in Canadian media. Andrew Hladyshevsky Q.C., President of the Shevchenko Foundation will present the award.
National committee chair Dr. Christine Turkewych states, “The committee selected Matthew Fisher for providing Canadians with extensive reporting through PostMedia News and demonstrating an authentic understanding of the crisis in Ukraine from November 2013 to mid September 2014.”
The National 2015 Syrnick Selection Committee included eminent Canadian academics and leaders from the Ukrainian-Canadian community: George Melnyk, Associate Professor, Film Studies and Canadian Studies, University of Calgary; Boris Kishchuk, Chair, Canada-Ukraine Centre Inc. Saskatchewan; Professor Bohdan Kordan, Director of the Prairie Centre for Study of Ukrainian Heritage at St. Thomas Moore College, University of Saskatchewan; Roman Senkus, Director, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Publications Program & Managing Editor of Encyclopedia of Ukraine & Journal of Ukrainian Studies; Chrystyna Isajiw, Ukrainian Canadian Research & Documentation Centre; Bob Leshchyshen, MBA,CFA , Buduchnist Credit Union Board of Directors and Canada Ukraine List serve; Prof. Dominique Arel, University of Ottawa, Chair of Ukrainian Studies; Irene Bell, producer & host of Ukrainian Hour, Radio CHIN;
Konstantin Huytan, Sr. Policy Analyst, Government of Canada; and Gordon Gordey, Board of Directors Shevchenko Foundation.
The John Syrnick Award for Journalism is named after John Syrnick, the influential editor (1947-70) of Ukrainian Voice, Canada’s oldest Ukrainian newspaper. Past recipients: Mark McKinnon, Globe and Mail in 2005; Victor Malarek, W-5, in 2007; the Winnipeg Free Press in 2009; Frédérick Lavoie, La Presse Montréal, in 2011; and in 2013, The Globe
& Mail recognized for articles by Brian Bonner, John Doyle, Hon. Derek Fraser and John Stackhouse, Editor in Chief.
Web Links on the Russia-Ukraine Conflict:
Putin.War—Based on Materials from Boris Nemtsov (Nemtsov Report) 4freeRussia.org
Heroes or Villains? Volunteer Battalions in Post-Maidan Ukraine Istituto Affari Internazionali, IAI Working Papers 15/08, March 2015 http://www.iai.it/sites/default/files/iaiwp1508.pdf
Andrew Wilson, ed.
What Does Ukraine Think?
Texts by Forostyna, Haran, Hrytsak, Leshchenko, Portnov, Shekhovtsov, Tregub, Yermolenko, Zakharchenko, Zhurzhenko,
European Council on Foreign Relations, May 2015 http://www.ecfr.eu/publications/summary/what_does_ukraine_think3026
Maksymilian Czuperski, John Herbst, Eliot Higgins, Alina Polyakova, and Damon Wilson Hiding in Plain Sight: Putin’s War in Ukraine
Atlantic Council, May 2015
Keir Giles, Philip Hanson, Roderic Lyne, James Nixey, James Sherr, Andrew Wood The Russian Challenge
Chatham House, 4 June 2015 http://www.chathamhouse.org/publication/russian-challenge
Major Contribution to the Demography of the Holodomor:
Omelian Rudnytskyi, Nataliia Levchuk, Oleh Wolowyna, Pavlo Shevchuk, and Alla Kovbasiuk
Demography of a Man-Made Human Catastrophe: The Case of Massive Famine in Ukraine 1932–1933
Canadian Studies in Population 42, no. 1–2 (2015): 53–80.
Estimates of 1932–34 famine direct losses (excess deaths) by age and sex and indirect losses (lost births) are calculated, for the first time, for rural and urban areas of Ukraine. Total losses are estimated at 4.5 million, with 3.9 million excess deaths and 0.6 million lost births. Rural and urban excess deaths are equivalent to 16.5 and 4.0 per cent of respective 1933 populations. We show that urban and rural losses are the result of very different dynamics, as reflected in the respective urban and rural age structures of relative excess deaths.
Corresponding author: Oleh Wolowyna, Center for Slavic, Eurasian and E. European Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 935 White Cross Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27516 USA. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Omelian Rudnytskyi, Nataliia Levchuk, Pavlo Shevchuk, and Alla Kovbasiuk—all with the Ptoukha Institute of Demography and Social Studies at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Kyiv.
Ukraine: What Went Wrong and How to Fix It Anders Aslund
Peterson Institute for International Economics April 2015
ISBN paper 978-0-88132-701-4
Ukraine has been wracked by a year of unprecedented political, economic, and military turmoil. Russian military aggression in the east and a legacy of destructive policies and corruption have created an imminent existential crisis for this young democracy. Yet Ukraine also has a great opportunity to break out of economic underperformance. In this study, Anders Aslund, one of the world’s leading experts on Ukraine, traces Ukraine’s evolution as a market economy starting with the fall of communism and examines the economic impact of its recent difficulties. Aslund argues that Ukraine must undertake sweeping political, economic, social, and government reforms to achieve prosperity and independence. For its part, the West must abandon its hesitant approach and provide broad economic assistance to help Ukraine transform itself.
Rajan and Eugene Rumer
Conflict in Ukraine: The Unwinding of the Post-Cold War Order MIT Press
Hardcover | $24.95 Trade | £17.95 | ISBN: 9780262029049 | 240 pp. | 5.375 x 8 in | February 2015
Ebook | $17.95 Trade | ISBN: 9780262327817 | 240 pp. | 5.375 x 8 in | April 2015
The current conflict in Ukraine has spawned the most serious crisis between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War. It has undermined European security, raised questions about NATO’s future, and put an end to one of the most ambitious projects of U.S. foreign policy—building a partnership with Russia. It also threatens to undermine U.S. diplomatic efforts on issues ranging from terrorism to nuclear proliferation. And in the absence of direct negotiations, each side is betting that political and economic pressure will force the other to blink first. Caught in this dangerous game of chicken, the West cannot afford to lose sight of the importance of stable relations with Russia.
This book puts the conflict in historical perspective by examining the evolution of the crisis and assessing its implications both for the Crimean peninsula and for Russia’s relations with the West more generally. Experts in the international relations of post- Soviet states, political scientists Rajan Menon and Eugene Rumer clearly show what is at stake in Ukraine, explaining the key economic, political, and security challenges and prospects for overcoming them. They also discuss historical precedents, sketch likely outcomes, and propose policies for safeguarding U.S.-Russia relations in the future. In doing so, they provide a comprehensive and accessible study of a conflict whose consequences will be felt for many years to come.
Rajan Menon is Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of Political Science at the Powell School, City College of New York/City University of New York, Senior Research Scholar at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, Columbia University, and the author, most recently, of The End of Alliances. He is completing a book on humanitarian intervention and is a regular contributor to nationalinterest.org.
Eugene Rumer is a Senior Associate and Director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands
Richard Sakwa IB Tauris, 2015
Publication Date: 18 Dec 2014 Number of Pages: 220
The unfolding crisis in Ukraine has brought the world to the brink of a new Cold War. As Russia and Ukraine tussle for Crimea and the eastern regions, relations between Putin and the West have reached an all-time low. How did we get here? Richard Sakwa here unpicks the context of conflicted Ukrainian identity and of Russo-Ukrainian relations and traces the path to the recent disturbances through the events which have forced Ukraine, a country internally divided between East and West, to choose between closer union with Europe or its historic ties with Russia. In providing the first full account of the ongoing crisis, Sakwa analyses the origins and significance of the Euromaidan Protests, examines the controversial Russian military intervention and annexation of Crimea, reveals the extent of the catastrophe of the MH17 disaster and looks at possible ways forward following the October 2014 parliamentary elections. In doing so, he explains the origins, developments and global significance of the internal and external battle for Ukraine.With all eyes focused on the region, Sakwa unravels the myths and misunderstandings of the situation, providing an essential and highly readable account of the struggle for Europe’s contested borderlands.
MH-17: The Story of the Shooting Down of the Malaysian Airliner
J. V. Koshiw
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 28, 2015)
The book, MH17, is about an event that shocked the world, the shooting down of a passenger airliner on July 17, 2014, with the loss of all 298 people on board. It answers the key questions arising from the disaster: What missile destroyed the airplane? What kind of weapon fired the missile? Where was the missile fired from? Who fired it? Was it accidental or intentional? Who was responsible?
Politics, Ideology, and Literature, 1929-1956 Myroslav Shkandrij
Yale University Press
Jan 13, 2015 344 p.
Cloth: $85.00 tx http://yalepress.yale.edu/book.asp?isbn=9780300206289
Both celebrated and condemned, Ukrainian nationalism is one of the most controversial and vibrant topics in contemporary discussions of Eastern Europe. Perhaps today there is no more divisive and heatedly argued topic in Eastern European studies than the activities in the 1930s and 1940s of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN).
This book examines the legacy of the OUN and is the first to consider the movement’s literature alongside its politics and ideology. It argues that nationalism’s mythmaking, best expressed in its literature, played an important role. In the interwar period seven major writers developed the narrative structures that gave nationalism much of its appeal. For the first time, the remarkable impact of their work is recognized.
Myroslav Shkandrij is professor of Slavic studies at the University of Manitoba. He lives in Winnipeg.
Reordering of Meaningful Worlds
Memory of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army in Post-Soviet Ukraine
Stockholm : Stockholm University, 2014. 313 sidor. ISBN 978-91-87843-12-9
Serie: Södertörn Doctoral Dissertations, 1652-7399 ; 101 Serie: Stockholm Studies in History, 0491-0842 ; 103
[The book is available at
While most of the studies of memory of the OUN and UPA concentrated on the use of the history of the OUN and UPA by nationalist parties, this study goes beyond the analysis of such use of history and scrutinizes the meaning of this history in nation- and state- building processes in relation to memory work realized on the small-scale regional and local levels with the main focus on Rivne and Rivne oblast’. Moreover, this book focusses not only on the “producers” of memory, but also on the “consumers” of memory, the area which is largely understudied in the field of memory studies. In the book the main emphasis is put on monuments which are regarded as catalysts and symptoms of memory.
The present study showed that the OUN and UPA are used more as the metaphors of the anti-Soviet and anti-communist struggle for independence than as historical entities. This past is largely mythologized. Functioning as a myth the memory of the OUN and UPA obliterates difficult knowledge that the historical research reveals on the questionable activities and ideology of those organizations. As a result, the past of the OUN and UPA is re-imagined, re-filled with new meanings so that it is used along even with the democratic and pro-European claims in the present. It was especially well-observed during the Orange Revolution in 2004 and during the Euromaidan in 2013-2014, when the European Union’s flags were seen next to the OUN’s red-and-black flags or when the pro-European slogans were proclaimed alongside the OUN and UPA slogans.
Stepan Bandera: The Life and Afterlife of a Ukrainian Nationalist Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe Ibidemverlag
654 pages, 66 ill., 7 maps. Paperback. 2014 ISBN 978-3-8382-0604-2
“The Life and Afterlife of a Ukrainian Nationalist” is the first comprehensive and scholarly biography of the Ukrainian far-right leader Stepan Bandera and the first in-depth study of his political cult. In this fascinating book, Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe illuminates the life of a mythologized personality and scrutinizes the history of the most violent twentieth-century Ukrainian nationalist movement: the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and its Ukrainian Insurgent Army. Elucidating the circumstances in which Bandera and his movement emerged and functioned, Rossoliński-Liebe explains how fascism and racism impacted on Ukrainian revolutionary and genocidal nationalism. The book shows why Bandera and his followers failed—despite their ideological similarity to the Croatian Ustaša and the Slovak Hlinka Party—to establish a collaborationist state under the auspices of Nazi Germany and examines the involvement of the Ukrainian nationalists in the Holocaust and other atrocities during and after the Second World War.
The author brings to light some of the darkest elements of modern Ukrainian history and demonstrates its complexity, paying special attention to the Soviet terror in Ukraine and the entanglement between Ukrainian, Jewish, Polish, Russian, German, and Soviet history. The monograph also charts the creation and growth of the Bandera cult before the Second World War, its vivid revivals during the Cold War among the Ukrainian diaspora, and in Bandera’s native eastern Galicia after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe is Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Friedrich-Meinecke-Institut of the Free University of Berlin.
Breaking the Tongue:
Language, Education, and Power in Soviet Ukraine, 1923-1934
University of Toronto Press ISBN 9781442648937
In the 1920s and early 1930s, the Communist Party embraced a policy to promote national consciousness among the Soviet Union’s many national minorities as a means of Sovietizing them. In Ukraine, Ukrainian-language schooling, coupled with pedagogical innovation, was expected to serve as the lynchpin of this social transformation for the republic’s children.
The first detailed archival study of the local implications of Soviet nationalities policy, Breaking the Tongue examines the implementation of the Ukrainization of schools and children’s organizations. Matthew D. Pauly demonstrates that Ukrainization faltered because of local resistance, a lack of resources, and Communist Party anxieties about nationalism and a weakening of Soviet power – a process that culminated in mass arrests, repression, and a fundamental adjustment in policy.
Matthew D. Pauly is an assistant professor in the Department of History at Michigan State University.
7th Annual Social Science Summer School in Ukraine
Chernivtsi, 3-9 July 2015
Theme: “Borders in the Post-Socialist Space”
The Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Ottawa, with financial support from the Danyliw Foundation, is co-sponsoring the 7th Annual Social Summer School in Ukraine next month in Chernivtsi, Western Ukraine. The School is made in partnership with five French institutions – the Embassy of France in Ukraine, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), the Université de Paris Ouest Nanterre-La Défense, the Centre d’Études Slaves de l’Université de Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne, the Centre d’Études Franco-Russe de Moscou – and the Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi State University in Ukraine, at the initiative of Anna Colin Lebedev (CERCEC, EHESS).
Inaugurated in 2009 and initially funded by the Institut Français d’Ukraine, under the authority of the Embassy of France in Ukraine, the School is held in a different city every summer (Uman 2009, Dnipropetrovsk 2010, Ostroh 2011, Zhytomyr 2012, Mykolaïv 2013, Lviv 2014) and brings together an international group of twenty or so doctoral students and a dozen faculties to hear and discuss presentations on ongoing research touching on Central/Eastern Europe.
The Embassy of France in Ukraine inaugurated in 2009 the Annual International Social Science Summer School in Ukraine. For an intensive week in early July, an international group of twenty doctoral students, and up to a dozen faculties are converging to a different town in Ukraine to hear and discuss presentations on ongoing research on a critical theme. The Summer School is designed to be interdisciplinary and follows the format of a Workshop. The program also includes lectures and field trips, of historical and contemporary significance, within the region.
The faculties involved in the Summer School 2015 included Anna Colin Lebedev (CERCEC, EHESS, France), Dominique Arel (Chair of Ukrainian Studies), Sabine Dullin (U Lille 3, France), Mayhill Fowler (Stetson College, US), Alissa Klots (Rutgers U, US), Sophie Lambroschini (EHESS, France), Anna Muller (U of Michigan-Dearborn, US), Mykhailo Minakov (U Kyiv Mohyla Academy, Ukraine), François-Xavier Nérard (U Paris 1 Sorbonne, France), Amandine Regamey (U Paris 1 Sorbonne, France), and Ioulia Shukan (U Paris Ouest Nanterre, France).
The Summer School 2015 student team:
- Gruia Badescu (U of Cambridge, UK), Urban Borders: Division and Everyday Life in Post-War Sarajevo
- Agnès Blais (U Laval, Canada), Ukrainian War Refugees in Russia
- Philippe Blasen (Babes-Bolyai U, Cluj, Romania), The Romanian Administrative Law 1938: Promotion and Reception of “Tinutul Suceava” (Bukovina, Khotyn and Dorohoi)
- Stéphanie Cirac (U Paris 4, France), Emigration’s Borders, From One Shore to the Other
- Pierre Deffontaines (U of Bourgogne, France), Wage Labor, Household Plots and Working Class in Rural Areas in Ukraine
- Oksana Dobrzhanska (Fedkovych Chernivtsi U, Ukraine), The Influence of Borders on the Ethnic Identification of the Population of Bukovyna
- Cristina Florea (Princeton U, US), City of Dreams: Czernowitz at the Crossroads of Empires
- Catherine Gibson (U St Andrews, Scotland, UK), Ethno-linguistic Cartography in the Baltic and Northwest Provinces of the Russian Empire and the Successor States of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Belarus, 1845-1924
- Nicholas Levy (Stanford U, US), Actually Existing Integration: Socialist Bloc Exchange and the Building of Huta Katowice, 1971-1981
- Roman Lozynskyi (Ivan Franko U, Lviv, Ukraine), Life on EU-Ukrainian Border: Everyday Experiences and Cross-border Practices
- Minna Lundgren (Mid Sweden U), Boundaries of Displacement: On the Situation of Internally Displaced Georgians from Abkhazia
- Oleksandr Polianichev (European U Institute, Italy), Rediscovering Zaporozhians: Little Russian Particularism in Culture, Politics, and Memory of Late Imperial Kuban, 1860s-1917
- Ekaterina Rybkina (European U Institute, Italy), Playing with Radio Waves: Radio Technology in Soviet Russia in a Comparative Perspective, 1920-1930s
- Irina Skubii (Kharkiv Tech U, Ukraine), Contraband Trade in Kharkiv by Nepmen through Postal Parcels from Western Europe, NEP-1920s
- Galina Spodarets (U of Regensburg, Germany), The Dnipro “Border” River as Semantic Space Paradigm
- Grigory Suzi (Petrozadovsk U, Russia), The incorporation of Karelia and northern Ladoga into the Soviet administrative system in the 1940s
- Anna Trofimova (Institute of Ethnology, Ukraine), Intercultural imagined borders in trasnational migrants and internally displaced persons in Ukraine
- Polina Vlasenko (U of Indiana, US), Transnational reproductive markets: Ukraine migration and labor generated by commercial egg donation
- Chloe Wells (U of Eastern Finland), Postmemory-contemporary Finnish youth’s representation of Finnish-Russian borderland
The Institute for Transformations Studies (FIT) at European University
Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder) and the German Association for East European Studies (DGO) invite to a conference dedicated to the transnational character of Ukraine during the 20th and 21st centuries:
Ukraine’s historical and contemporary interlockings: A transnational perspective on transformations Frankfurt (Oder), November 5-6, 2015
The Euromaidan protests shed a light on Ukraine not only as a state being on the fence between Eastern and Western European development paths. It became also obvious that Ukraine’s search for identity and future is deeply rooted in a historical fragmentation of the country. This fragmentation stems from different belongings of Ukrainian regions, society and culture to different areas and powers at different points in time. In this respect, Ukraine can be considered paradigmatic for many Central European regions and states. These fragmentations and belongings underline Ukraine’s long-standing and multiple ties beyond its borders.
The paths of Ukraine’s transnational ties and networks are multifold. They add up to the question if Ukraine can today be interpreted as a transnational entity. Does a transnational perspective contribute to better understand Ukraine’s contemporary development, poten-tials and problems? We are looking for contributions in the following areas:
- Civil society: A tracking of transnational civic networks includes civic activists travel- ling across Europe before and during the Orange Revolution in 2004/2005 to meet activists from anti-election fraud campaigns in Slovakia, Serbia and Georgia, and to learn about successful campaigning of political movements. The protests have been called an “imported revolution”. The same happened to the Euromaidan protests with respect to the external democratization assistance provided to Ukraine by numerous Western states and organizations. But that superficial judgement veils the aspect of a growing transnational civil society that consists of networks of globally educated democratization activists in Central and Eastern Europe and beyond.
- Political system and institutions: The conflicting Ukrainian ties towards the EU and the USA on the one hand and to Russia on the other hand have become brutally obvious during the war in Eastern Ukraine. They deserve further enquiry, since political ties to the West are not free from contradictions or even dilemmas. Also, Russian-Ukrainian relations have not always been and are are until now not restricted to hostile interactions. Additionally, beyond those ostensible paths of influence, there are multifold connections to countries such as Georgia or Canada - inter alia - whose history and recent consequences deserve closer attention and systematic research.
- Economy: With respect to economic aspects of Ukrainian transnationalism, consequences of and forecasts with regard to regional integration towards the EU and/ or Russia are of outstanding interest. Also, there is obvious cooperation of oligarchs not only with Russia, but also with off shore venture capital systems and international stakeholders.
- Languages and culture: There is a growing scene of artists, musicians, writers and intellectuals who are reflecting Ukraine’s path since independence and its respective roots in Jewish, Russian, Ruthenian and Tatarian as well as Soviet history and culture. As a multi-ethnic country, Ukraine is entangled with its neighbors, but it contributes also to multi-ethnicity with the Ukrainian diaspora worldwide.
The conference will focus on - but not be limited to - the following overarching questions: Which transnational activist networks supported the Euromaidan, and are there societal and economic transnational interdependencies with both the West and the East? Will the war in Eastern Ukraine and the new patriotic fashion diminish Ukraine’s transnational character and lead to a truly nationalized Ukraine? Although the conference’s main perspective is on contemporary developments in Ukraine, we also invite scholars with a historicperspective to submit proposals.
A substantial part of the conference will be dedicated to a debate on the future needs and tasks of a social science approach to Ukraine studies. With respect to transnationalism being conceived a feature which marks Ukrainian politics, society and culture even more than those of other countries, any adequate research strategy implies the necessity of overcoming methodological nationalism. Hence, speakers are invited to present not only the issues and results of their research, but also to discuss whether their methodological approach is capable of analyzing transnational social phenomena.
If you are interested in presenting a paper at this conference, we kindly ask you to submit a proposal of about 250 words. The proposal should focus on empiric aspects of transnationalism in Ukraine, but should at the same time contain theoretic and/or methodological considerations on how to conceptualize transnationalism in a post-Soviet environment. Proposals with a comparative perspective are also welcome. We strive for an international composition of conference participants.
Participants will be kindly asked to send their papers two weeks prior to the conference. A publication of the presented papers is planned.
The German Association for East European Studies will cover expenses for (modestly priced) flights and hotel accommodation in Frankfurt Oder Slubice during the conference.
Please send your proposal to Timm Beichelt (email@example.com) until June 15, 2015.
UKL 473, 8 June 2015
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Dominique Arel, Chair of Ukrainian Studies University of Ottawa
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