A short critique of mass media articles written by Taras Kuzio, the more recent ones brought to my attention by Michael Averko, before I move on to translating another piece about Ukrainian history from a Russophile perspective...
Taras Kuzio wrote two articles recently in which he expresses his dismay at Yanukovych's pro-Russian politics. His Jamestown piece bearing the title 'Ukraine's Foreign Policy Controlled by Russia' does not need any introduction, the title speaks for itself. His Kyiv Post article 'Yanukovych the counter-revolutionary' tells us that Yanukovych is such a Russophile that Ukraine is on the verge of losing everything it has strived in terms of national identity. Kuzio has recycled not only his assessment of Yanukovych but his long term Russophobia as well.
From the Jamestown article:
Russian support for the Ukrainian authorities on the PACE monitoring committee only served to increase the determination of the Estonian PACE co-rapporteur for the monitoring of Ukraine, Mailis Reps, to include tough criticism of the Ukrainian authorities. Russian and Ukrainian delegations repeatedly blamed the 'Orange' authorities for alleged democratic infringements and repression of Russian speakers.
Who attempted to force children in Sevastopol to study in Ukrainian? Who banned usage of Russian in schools? Who ordered that Ukrainian be the only language used in courts, state service, academia? I do not have to look hard to corroborate allegations of infringement of rights of Russian speakers which are enshrined within the Ukrainian Constitution. I have to ask what the Estonian PACE co-rapporteur was complaining about? Is raising the issue of Yushchenko's Russophobic nationalism a taboo topic? What about Russians in Estonia? Are they well?
And now something from the Kyiv Post:
Second, Yanukovych is the first president who is openly dismantling the Ukrainophile national identity that was promoted over the last two decades and has always been closely associated with Ukraine’s independence. A recent poll asked which culture the authorities are promoting and the majority response was Soviet and Russian. The ideological basis for the educational and national identity policy that this administration promotes consists of a mix of neo-Soviet, Russophile, and Eastern Slavic worldviews that are alien to the majority of Ukrainians. This is coupled with a strong view on the supremacy of Russian over the Ukrainian language.
Recent poll which Kuzio does not seem to bother to break down. What does a Ukrainian majority look like? Who conducted the poll? What were the other options on the menu? How about break-down of this poll according to region? What do people in Donbas and Crimea think as opposed to people in Galicia? This information needs to be referenced or at least included in the article.
Ukrainophile ideology is an odd hodgepodge of late nineteenth and early twentieth century set of nationalist re-classifications mixed with glorification of Petliura, Bandera, Shukhevych and other controversial types. This type of ideology has a strong tendency to overlook any Soviet input into the creation of Ukraine and Ukrainians. However territorially, contemporary Ukraine is a completely Soviet construct and its identity, while based on work of preceding nationalists, was nurtured and promoted by the Bolsheviks.
Secondly there is, in the tradition of early Ukrainian nationalists, a tendency to dissociate Ukraine's history, culture, language and even religion from that of Russia. Kuchma for instance supported the the heretical, ethnophiletist Kiev Patriarchate and Yushchenko lobbied for having this entity legitimised by the Constantinopolitan Patriarch. Yanukovych seems to be better disposed towards the canonical Russian Orthodoxy. There is nothing anti-Ukrainian about his sentiments since the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) was created out of the Ukrainian Exarchate in 1990, on the eve of Ukrainian independence. This should serve as a proof that the Russian Orthodox Church was willing to afford Ukrainians more self-governance and it runs contrary to the accusation levelled against this Church that it is an arm of Moscow's influence. The only fact which makes it different from Kiev Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church is that it is in canonical union with the Moscow Patriarchate and thus recognised by all other regular Orthodox groups across the word.
With Ukrainophile ideology in place, Kiev becomes mother of all Ukrainian cities, Vladimir becomes a ruler of Ukraine, in fact all rulers of Old Rus' were rulers of Ukraine since Rus' apparently is the old name of Ukraine. Everything is being re-branded and re-written. With the new government a sudden change comes. Minister of Education Tabachnyk attempts to set the record straight on many of historical issues and for this reason people such as Kuzio go after him:
This is an earlier article 'Shift to Soviet-Russian Identity in Ukraine' written by Kuzio for Jamestown and reprinted in the GeorgianDaily:
...Tabachnyk has returned to the Soviet era ideological views of Ukrainian nationalists as Nazi hirelings. Attacks on nationalists returned during the 2002 and 2004 elections as a way of portraying Our Ukraine and Viktor Yushchenko as 'nationalists.' In the 2004 elections, fake “nationalists” were registered as technical candidates and SS-style street parades were organized in Kyiv, voicing support for Yushchenko. These views were then given widespread media coverage aimed at reducing support for him in Eastern Ukraine.
I have already seen attempts to counter the bad image of Yushchenko as a nationalist. Now I see Kuzio, trying to say that the nationalists that supported Yushchenko were in fact fake and had been planted to discredit him in Eastern Ukraine where he had already been largely discredited anyway. The reality is that Yushchenko received support from UNSO. In turn Yushchenko declared Bandera and Shukhevych to be heroes of Ukraine, which had completely discredited him anywhere in Ukraine, except for perhaps Galicia. End of story!
Ukrainian nationalists such as Bandera, Melnyk and Shukhevych did cooperate with the Nazis. You do not have to be Soviet in thinking to know that. There might be some nuances to their relationship, however the main fact remains, that for a large part of the War, Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) did cooperate with the Nazis. And that OUN wanted to establish a fascist state is also a given fact.
The activities of OUN and their glorification is what is alien to majority of Ukrainians, this is clearly a West Ukrainian and even it that, a primarily Galician phenomenon. By declaring Bandera and Shukhevych to be heroes, Yushchenko alienated not just Eastern but parts of Western Ukraine as well. The Rusyns had for years voiced their opposition against glorification of Ukrainian nationalists with whom they have their own historical experience.
In yet another Jamestown article with an eloquent (almost identical to the one in GeorgianDaily) title 'Ukrainian Nationalism Again Under Attack in Ukraine' from June, he recycles the idea that the new government is anti-nationalist and pro-Soviet and expands on it:
After the erection of a bust to Stalin in Zaporozhzhia in May, the Communist Party (KPU) has sought to place a Stalin bust in Kyiv (http://gazeta.ua/index.php?id=338461). Yanukovych and Tabachnyk refused to denounce the Zaporozhzhia Stalin monument, claiming this was an issue for local authorities. Party of Regions deputy, Vasyl Khary, argued that if Bandera monuments can be erected in Western Ukraine, then Stalin should be displayed in Eastern Ukraine (http://gazeta.ua/index.php?id=337921).
In an attempt to denounce the new government as neo-Soviet, Kuzio actually misses out on a lot in the links he provides. For instance, Tabachnyk is sceptical that Stalin's memorial will be erected in Kiev. He said:
I think people of Kiev have a healthy mind, (not to do such a thing)
Furthermore he said that he would not bring flowers to neither Stalin's nor Bandera's memorial.
Khara asks why a referendum should be held on memorial to Stalin but no such referendum is to be held when memorial to Bandera is erected. Kuzio is very concerned with the actual support among the people for these two initiatives.
...the Galician population supports Bandera monuments, which is not the case with Stalin in Eastern Ukraine. A survey in May found that 57 percent of Ukrainians oppose Stalin busts, ranging between 76 percent in Western to 57 percent in Eastern Ukraine (only ten percent of Ukrainians support erecting Stalin busts). Moreover, 52 percent of the over 60 age group oppose Stalin monuments...
Was Yushchenko a president of Galicia? Then how can we excuse his glorification of Bandera and Shukhevych by awarding them the title of heroes of Ukraine? Did people in Donbas, in Crimea, in Transcarpathia, in Slobozhanshchina, support Bandera and Shukhevych? Why then did Yushchenko attempt to immortalise them?
Opponents of the Stalin monument unfurled a banner with the words: 'Zaporozhzhia Against Stalin' at a soccer match in the town (http://photo.unian.net/ukr/detail/277539.html). These widespread negative sentiments relating to Stalin throughout Ukraine are a product of two decades of education concerning the crimes of Soviet totalitarianism.
Great to see people opposing Stalin's memorial in Zaporozh'e, sadly twenty years of education failed to educate the Galicians about crimes of OUN. In fact, the independent Ukraine attempted to rehabilitate the Carpatho-Ukraine, a short-lived fascist state which managed to have its own concentration camp and in the short time history allotted it, and which was supported by OUN from across the mountains.
Yanukovych's anti-Nationalism apparently has three problems, I will cover two of them here:
1. The former Director of the Security Service (SBU) archives, Volodymyr Viatovych, argues that Tabachnyk’s rationale equating anyone who fought against the Soviet regime as a 'collaborator,' is flawed. The only 'Ukrainian' state that then existed was the Ukrainian SSR, implying that Germans who opposed the Nazi regime should also be condemned as there was only one German state (http://gazeta.ua/index.php?id=338556).
From the view-point of Nazi Germany, those Germans who collaborated with Western allies or Soviets were no doubt collaborators. But Nazi Germany and its Ukrainian nationalist henchmen lost the war. The rationale of Tabachnyk is expressed within this document, allow me to translate the passage:
But during the years 1941-1945, no other Ukrainian state except for Ukrainian SSR existed. More than that, even the most 'orthodox' Ukrainian nationalists are continuators of the Ukrainian SSR. I have not heard about a proposal to refuse the status of a founding member of the United Nations and request to accept Ukraine into this organisation anew. And a lot of other questions arise. If one is to renounce Soviet legacy, political, territorial, legal, material, financial. Under their burden, countries firmer than Ukraine will fall. In this way, people who fought against Soviet Ukraine (even the most firebrand admirers of Bandera will not tell you that they fought for Soviet Ukraine) were collaborationists.
Ukrainian nationalists joined hands with the Nazis because they believed that Hitler will actually give them their own little fascist state. But Hitler had no time for their state-hood fantasies, this somehow serves as proof of OUN's active opposition to the Nazis. It is however surprising that many (if not most) Ukrainian nationalists served the Nazis to the bitter end. In the end it was Soviet Ukraine which gave shape to Ukrainian state and nation, and was the most successful Ukrainian state-formation in history. It makes no sense to renounce the Soviet narrative and replace them with Ukrainian nationalist who had contributed very little in terms of anything useful and long-lasting.
3. Although Tabachnyk does not deny Stalinist crimes, unlike the Belarusian regime, he downplays these issues by focusing on 'nationalist' murders, even though Stalinist crimes accounted for the deaths of many millions. This strand of thinking is imported from Russia and views the 1933 famine as a policy, not committed against Ukrainians, but against all Soviet peasants, and therefore not 'genocide.'
1933 famine was a result of hastily implemented policy of collectivisation, combined with unfavourable natural conditions, not a deliberate 'genocide by hunger' committed against Ukrainians. In fact people from across the Soviet Union suffered from this policy. This line of thought does not have to be imported from Russia, I can find you North American scholars who agree with it. In fact I can find you, anti-Communist North American scholars who agree with it.
Viewing the famine as 'genocide' is interpreted as being 'nationalistic' and 'anti-Russian.'
If the Ukrainian nationalists introduced something to Ukrainian identity, it is the myth of famine-genocide. The central thesis of this myth, back during the days of Cold War, was that Soviet Russian (Russian Communists, Russian Bolsheviks, it can never do without the adjective Russian, unless it is the earlier pre-War version with Jews) committed a deliberate genocide against Ukrainians by starving them to death. Translated into contemporary terms it means that Russians as people are guilty and Russia as a state should pay reparations to Ukraine. It is the ethnic element which differentiates the famine-genocide myth from the standard narrative of collectivisation. I think Kuzio is well aware of this.
Here is another gem from the GeorgianDaily article:
Today, Ukrainian television, which is under the control of oligarchs and since Yanukovych was elected has returned to self censorship, is again exaggerating the influence and support of the nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) party as a way of mobilizing Russian-speakers to remain loyal to the Yanukovych administration. The moderate opposition is largely ignored on Ukrainian television; Yulia Tymoshenko has not been invited to hold interviews since the elections.
If only Yulia was allowed on TV more often, the East Ukrainians would suddenly vote for her. This is obviously not going to happen since people in Donbas, Crimea and in other places never supported the Orange camp in the first place.
There is an interesting thing to note about Tymoshenko. She recently wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal, a publications where Kasparov also publishes (or used to publish) his rants. Suddenly she is transformed from an incompetent, corrupt politician into a defender of democracy in Ukraine by the magic of Western press. Wonder if soon Luzhkov will be elevated into the pantheon of West's heroes. John Higgins commented Tymoshenko's rant:
Yulia, Yulia, Yulia...you made millions by reselling Russian gas to Eastern Europe, then spat in Russia's face after the Orange Revolution by declaring loyalty to the EU. When Russia said, fine, but now Ukraine will pay the same price for gas as the EU, you just couldn't pry your fingers off the pipeline long enough to compromise with Russia. Your greed plunged the Ukraine into a crisis. Further, your tenure as Prime Minister was one of unprecedented corruption (and that's saying something after Kuchma). You canceled your opponents convention, one month before the election, by fear mongering H1N1 for crying out loud! You know no shame, and your lust for power knows no limits. There is a reason that the people of the Ukraine chose pro-Russia Yanukovych over you. Now go away.
Indeed, maybe the oligarchs see no point in showing raving Yulia on their channels.
I likewise think that the influence of Svoboda is being exaggerated, somebody should explain that to Andreas Umland. Nevertheless, the support for Svoboda had risen in past years but what we should however observe is how far did ideas of Svoboda penetrate into the mainstream. Yushchenko did not hesitate to draw on Ukrainian nationalism. One does not need to hype up Svoboda for Eastern Ukrainians to be assured that the Western Ukrainian camp is nationalist. Besides, the memory of Yushchenko/Tymoshenko rule is enough of a mobilising factor.
Speaking of Svoboda here is something from 'Ukraine's Foreign Policy Controlled by Russia' that sounds like Svoboda tripe:
Russian influence in Ukraine’s foreign policy is evident in two areas. The first is coordination between the Ukrainian delegation headed by the Romanian and Party of Regions deputy, Ivan Popecku...
So, Ivan Popecku is an ethnic Romanian, how is that information relevant, is Kuzio implying that non-Ukrainians are unpatriotic? The afore mentioned Khara appears to be ethnic Greek. I have also encountered ethnic Hungarians who support Yanukovych. This does not lend much credibility to his thesis that Yanukovych's politics are divisive.
Other than backtracking on nationalist politics, Kuzio is concerned about what he says is increasing Russian influence. This is from 'Ukraine's Foreign Policy Controlled by Russia':
Yanukovych did not displease his Russian guests, as during his speech he never once mentioned Ukraine’s desire to join the EU. Instead, he said that Ukraine “will choose the speed, form and methods of integration that conform to its national interests” (Ukrayinska Pravda, October 4). Yanukovych is the first of four Ukrainian presidents to avoid supporting efforts to join NATO or to publicly endorse joining the EU. Yanukovych has repeatedly ignored requests by the G7 Ambassadors for a meeting in Kyiv (Ukrayinska Pravda, October 11).
I have not heard about Russian desire for Ukraine not to join the EU. In fact, being perfectly aware of the current situation within the EU and more importantly in Ukraine, the Russians must know that such a merger is far off. Yanukovych's statement tells us nothing, but unlike Kuchma or Yushchenko he is at least not running his mouth. NATO membership for Ukraine is also far off since a number of European countries simply do not want Ukraine there. Ukrainian citizens do not support NATO membership either. What Kuzio misses out is that Yanukovych likewise does not seek military alliance with Russia. My understanding is that Yanukovych wants to make Ukraine into an unaligned buffer-state. This might alienate pro-Western types in Ukraine but it does not give them much to complain about either.
But for people like Kuzio this obviously is not enough, this comes from KyivPost:
No longer viewing Russia as a potential threat – even after its de facto annexation of Georgian territory – Yanukovych agreed last April to extend the stay of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet at Ukraine’s Sevastopol port by an additional 25 years, until 2042-47. It would have been difficult to remove Russia under the 1997 treaty by 2017 – it will now be near impossible without violence to remove Russia even if the opposition wins the 2012 elections and annuls the treaty.
These Georgian territories are in fact territories of ethnic groups other than Georgian. They welcome Russian presence and do not want to be with Georgia. If we look at the demographics of Sevastopol' we do not see that this is a Ukrainian city, it is a city of Russian sailors. These people do not want to be with Ukraine, certainly not with Ukraine that wants to evict the fleet on which their livelihoods depend. Locals will therefore not go without a fight, treaty or no treaty. In a case of an armed conflict, Russia will de facto annex Crimea and local population will not side with Ukraine. Ukraine has no chance of victory in such a confrontation, Yanukovych is well aware of that. Contrary to some dreamers, the key to keeping Crimea in the Ukraine is not some meagre Tatar population but good relations with Russia.
There is definitely more in Kuzio's articles which I could de-construct. But I feel a little bored by dissecting Ukrainian diaspora nationalist pundits and their attempts to smear Ukrainian pro-Russian politicians, their attempts at apologetics for Nazi collaborationists, their attempts at promoting the famine-genocide myth, and their wild assertions. I sense I am repeating myself and that I am making a recourse to my earlier articles. It is because the articles are pretty much the same. Some raving, Russophobic, lunatic expressing his/her darkest fantasies.