Russia is at war with Ukraine

I’m cutting short the lighthearted myth-busting series, in light of recent developments.

Putin has finally crossed yet another red line in his steady spiral of escalation in Ukraine. Regular Russian forces are now fighting the Ukrainian army.

To all my international readers:

It’s time we stopped giving Putin the benefit of the doubt and playing into his crude attempts at presenting this as a civil conflict in Ukraine. It’s time to start calling a spade a spade. The truth is simple:

Putin’s Russia is at war with Ukraine

This isn’t news. Putin has been at war with Ukraine ever since the Russian army invaded and annexed Crimea in a sham referendum, against all international laws and against every agreement signed by the Russian Federation. After that, Putin tried to foment natural unrest in the Eastern parts of Ukraine. When that failed, Putin’s proxies in Donbas created so-called “people’s republics” and started to kidnap and torture Ukrainian citizens. Whenever Ukraine gained the upper hand against these “rebels,” Putin aided them with weapons and mercenaries streaming across the border. Russian artillery has been shelling Ukraine’s territory for months. Ukraine did not retaliate, for fear of giving Russia an excuse to escalate.

Now, when Ukraine has recaptured much of the area previously under rebel control, Putin is escalating yet again. He’s now sending regular Russian soldiers to fight in Ukraine. The soldiers are told they are going on a training exercise. Putin is lying not only to the world, but to his own citizens.

I ask all those who aren’t indifferent to help end this. This is an act of unjustified, unilateral aggression that can potentially threaten the established world order. If you have the right political connections, help put pressure on your respective governments to take a firmer stance against Putin’s aggression. If you can’t do that, please share my words with those who might be able to.

To all my Russian readers:

Dear Russian brothers. Please understand one very important thing. Ukraine is not against you. It has never been against you. That claim is a cynical, despicable lie that has been perpetrated by Russian propaganda for almost an entire year. Maidan was not against you. Maidan was against a corrupt President who betrayed his promise to the Ukrainian people. Maidan was against a system that, for 23 years, kept Ukrainians from living in a modern, democratic country and from shaking off their Soviet past. People on Maidan came from all walks of life and from every ethnicity: Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians. Maidan had nothing to do with people’s nationality and their preferred language. I think this banner (written in Russian) from Maidan says it all:

Translation:

Translation: “Together against Putin. (We) love Russians. (We) despise Putin.”

Ukraine’s government is not a maniacal Nazi junta that wants to murder all Russian speakers. That story is an absurd, fantastic lie. To confirm that, you only need to see how the rest of Russian-speaking Ukraine—aside from Donbas—has been living for the past year. Hint: They live in peace. From Zaporizhia to Dnipropetrovsk to Mykolayiv. Peace. My exclusively Russian-speaking family and all of my Russian-speaking friends in Kharkov live in peace. I’ve been there, I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I have spent 10 wonderful sunny days in Kharkov less than a month ago with my little niece and the rest of my family. They do not need to be “rescued” from any mythical Ukrainian fascists! My biggest fear is that Putin’s “defenders” may appear there one day.

Ukraine is fighting a war of independence from Kremlin. It is fighting to keep its sovereignty. It doesn’t want to remain a satellite to Putin’s Russia. Putin is doing everything in his power to prevent this, up to sending your Russian soldiers to fight for his cause. His imperialist ambitions are driving a horrible wedge between our people. Let’s stand together to prevent him from succeeding. We’ll need to live with each other and look each other in the eye after this!

If you don’t do it for Ukraine, do it for the Russian mothers and wives whose sons and husbands are sent to fight Putin’s war in Ukraine. Not openly, in secret. They return home in coffins and their deaths are hushed up. They die for Putin’s objectives, yet they don’t even get the acknowledgment they deserve for serving their country. Don’t let Putin do this to Russia. Don’t let him do this to you. Your country deserves so much better!

To all Putin apologists:

At this stage, there exists far too much evidence of what Putin is up to. It’s hard to deny the obvious. Anyone who supports Putin is either spectacularly uninformed and mislead, or worse—knows exactly what Putin is doing and thinks it’s justified. To the latter: The blood of all Ukrainians, Russians, and others who died in this conflict (and those who will die in the future) is also on your hands. You’re enabling an aggressive leader who places no value on human lives and is willing to sacrifice everyone’s well-being for the sake of his plans. If you understand that fact and are OK with it—you’re guilty, too!

To those who still believe that Putin is fighting the good fight. To those who shed crocodile tears over civilians killed in Donbas and spread catchy tags on Twitter (like #SaveDonbasChildren) here’s all you need to know about that:

There was no war in Donbas until “defenders of Russian-speakers” showed up there.

Read that again. If you don’t want to go back and reread it, here it is once more:

THERE WAS NO WAR IN DONBAS UNTIL “DEFENDERS OF RUSSIAN-SPEAKERS” SHOWED UP THERE!

Putin, aided by his relentless propaganda machine, brought war and death to my country. Putin’s “freedom fighters” have placed Ukraine’s government before an awful choice: Do nothing, and let the rebels continue methodically torturing and killing Ukrainian citizens in Donbas, stealing their cars and apartments, and destroying the region’s infrastructure, or interfere militarily, at the risk of potential civilian deaths but in the hope that order and peace can eventually be restored. Ukraine chose the latter. What country wouldn’t? Name one government that would simply let a group of what are essentially foreign mercenaries and local criminals freely murder its citizens?! If you’re still doubtful of Kiev’s peaceful intentions, just look at how normal life is slowly returning to the areas Ukraine’s army has liberated—yes, liberated—from the “rebels.” Look again at Kramatorsk and Slovyansk. Now tell me these people aren’t happy to be rid of “Russian defenders”!

Wake up. Unplug yourself from the alternative reality propagated by Russian media. Seek facts. Think.

Don’t make it any easier for Putin to continue his “plausible deniability” campaign. It’s time all rational people stood up to him. He has already gotten away with breaking too many rules and causing far too much pain and suffering. If you let him get away with plunging Russia into a full-fledged war with Ukraine, this won’t be the end.

Putin will stop only where a true red line is drawn.

It’s up to all of us to show him where that is.

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WTF Report: “Putin is…”

You know about my love/hate relationship with Google, right? I’ve written a guest post about it a while ago.

You also know about my hate/hate relationship with Putin. I’ve written post after post after post on the subject.

So then I thought: “Why not combine my two hobbies?”

That’s how I decided to give Google the opportunity to tell us all what he thinks of Putin. Why should I be the only one sharing my opinions? I set out to use Google’s autocomplete feature to paint a thorough picture of who Putin is and what he should do. It turns out that, as with many other things, Google is extremely conflicted on the subject of Putin. What I found out is that Putin is:

Putin is

Who wants:

Putin wants

Yet he won’t:

Putin won't

Because he doesn’t:

Putin doesn't

That’s why he has:

Putin has

Which is why he needs:

Putin needs

So there you have it: Putin is a homosexual evil thug, who wants Alaska back to restore the Soviet Union. He will go to war, because he has no respect for Obama and won’t even shake his hand. He needs to be stopped, but he doesn’t care since he doesn’t drink and has balls. Which is why he’s right but has already lost and will eventually die. That’s…surprisingly accurate? I don’t know anymore, you be the judge.

Brown Retro TV

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up!

The thing about propaganda is that it’s usually untrue. The thing about untrue stuff is that it’s usually lies. The thing about lying is that it’s usually supremely difficult to keep track of all your fabricated stories.

Nobody knows this better than Russian TV. Only two days ago I’ve shared a minor example of failed propaganda: a single TV channel interviewing the wrong person.

Question: What happens when not one, not two, but three lying TV channels try to create propaganda at the same time? A complete and utter clusterfuck, that’s what! And when it happens, it’s goddamn beautiful. So what happened, exactly? I’m glad you asked…

On April 9, 2014, Russian TV channel Rossia 1 interviewed an innocent victim of a fascist attack, Andrei Petkov.

Andrei Petkov Rossia 1

This charming guy!

Andrei’s story is heartbreaking: This fine spring day he went out to peacefully protest against the neo-Nazi Ukrainian government. Then, suddenly, he and other protesters were attacked by radicals. This poor man is now incapacitated for at least six months. Tragic!

There was a tiny problem: A mere half-hour earlier, a second Russian channel, NTV, ran a segment about a radically inclined supporter of Ukrainian neo-Nazis. This despicable man’s name was…Andrei Petkov. You may recognize him:

Andrei Petkov NTV

This reprehensible villain!

This Andrei Petkov (not to be confused with the other, exactly-the-same-looking man with the exact same name) came to Ukraine from Germany. He was on a secret mission for a secret European organization that wanted to secretly support the fascist neo-Nazis in fascist Ukraine. He brought with him 500,000 Euros and recruited 50 European hired guns, in order to suppress the innocent protesters. (Protesters like the other Andrei Petkov, for example.)

When things got dicey, the same Ukrainian neo-Nazi radicals whom he tried to support ended up turning against Andrei. He got injured and is now recovering in the hospital. Tragic!

Confusing and contradictory? Sure, but these things happen, right? Maybe he was speaking too fast and the two channels misinterpreted him. It’s not like there was a third channel reporting on a different Andrei Petkov…except, of course, there was.

NTS TV channel in the presently-occupied Crimea told an inspiring story of a heroic pediatric surgeon. His name? Andrei Petkov:

Andrei Petkov NTS Crimea

This shining beacon of hope!

This Andrei Petkov—a surprisingly common Ukrainian (and German) name—is a true Ukrainian patriot. He was residing in Germany, but once he’d heard of the neo-Nazi threat in Ukraine, he traveled to his home city of Nikolayev with a large sum of his own money, in order to help organize local peaceful protests. This altruistic man was right there in the thick of it, when neo-Nazis fascistically attacked local residents. He selflessly tried to treat the wounded in his makeshift emergency tent, but alas…he himself fell victim to the fascists. They have injured his face and leg, and now he’s in a local hospital, recovering. God bless this brave man! Tragic!

It wasn’t long before regular people and Internet sites picked up on this bullshit. Russian response? They—I shit you not—accused Ukrainian TV of spreading the original, inconsistent story (whichever one that was). “How dare they accuse this sweet man of being a paid actor working with Russian reporters?” they yelled. Apparently, Russian professionals forget that the Internet has a long memory.

Soon, the ruse was becoming way too obvious to ignore. Source after source reported on these inconsistencies and fabrications. In the end, even the Russian channels could no longer deny having been caught red handed. So they did what any responsible professional would do in this situation—owned up to the whole thing. The end.

Ha, just kidding! Of course they didn’t.

Instead, apparently following the foolproof “fighting fire with fire” logic, they decided to fix all of their lies with…more lies. So what did they say, exactly? That these three men were actually triplets, who happened to have the same name? Don’t be silly, that would have been ridiculous! No, what the Russian channels actually claimed was that—I hope you’re sitting down—Andrei Petkov was officially schizophrenic and truly believed all three of his made-up stories! This mentally ill gentleman managed to fool the astute TV reporters with his convincing lies. Never mind the fact that some of the earlier news segments invited “friends” of Andrei to corroborate his story. Never mind that this “explanation” actually introduces more inconsistencies than it fixes. Nope, schizophrenia is to blame.

I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry. On the one hand, the above craptastic bullshit extravaganza is objectively hilarious. On the other hand, please remember that these news channels currently shape the worldview of many Russian citizens, who have largely been left without any independent media. Sadly, not many people turn to the Internet for their news, and even if they did—Putin is working on “fixing” the online information space as well.

But enough about the sad shit for now. Instead, I leave you with a fresh video of neo-Nazis running loose and killing ethnic Russians in my home city of Kharkov, Eastern Ukraine. (Warning: Graphic content!) My cousin shared it with me a few hours ago. He’s also in the video (getting a haircut at 1:13 and 2:03). Truly it’s a sad state of affairs, and Ukraine really is on the brink of civil war. I can see why Putin is concerned about the well-being of his Russian brothers:

Microphone Golden

WTF Report: “Putin Jam”

Until a few months ago, I knew very little about Putin. Yes, he was Russia’s president. Yes, he sometimes made lassos out of pythons to hunt tigers with. That was essentially the full extent of my knowledge.

Recently, with all the wonderful happenings in Ukraine, I started reading a lot more about Mr. Putin.

That’s how I came across the following video gem, in which Putin demonstrates his English skills in an attempt to address the International Exhibitions Bureau:

This video evokes a curious bouquet of feelings. It manages to simultaneously be awkward, hilarious, and deeply terrifying.

On the one hand, Putin looks like a shy kid during his first ever English oral exam—tugging nervously at his sleeves, struggling to find a confident stance, eyes darting across the teleprompter to keep up with the strained flow of speech. It’s objectively amusing.

On the other hand, Putin’s are the eyes of a cold-blooded madman. His jaw barely moves as he squeezes out the words. He has nothing but utter contempt for being forced into this uncomfortable position.

All I’m saying is, I hope the cameraman wasn’t foolish enough to make any jokes about Putin’s performance. If he did, may he rest in peace. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend you to openly joke about Putin either. You never know when the KGB is listening. They could be behind you right n…

Anti-Nazi Swastika

4 reasons Crimea’s upcoming “referendum” is an epic farce

It’s been over two weeks since Putin’s forces moved into Crimea in a noble attempt to protect it from fascists, leprechauns, and other mythical creatures. So carried away did Putin get with this protection that he accidentally over-protected himself into completely taking over all of Crimea. Oops, awkward!

Now Crimea stands to “vote” in an upcoming referendum on whether to join Russia or to only sort of maybe join Russia. I’ve already covered the situation in this post and this post. In this third chapter of what I hope is just a trilogy, I explore the many reasons this “referendum” is an absolute circus. Buckle up, folk, let’s go for a ride into surreal madness.

4. Crimea is essentially under total Russian military control

At this point, there should not be an iota of doubt that Russian military has de facto control of Crimea. We can choose to believe that they are simply a bunch of local “self-defense forces” who raided a “Toys R Us” store and armed themselves with water pistols and, inexplicably, Russian military equipment.

Or we can choose to live in the real world, where as many as 11,000 Russian troops have seized control of key military and government installations, set up guarded roadblocks, and continue to exert psychological pressure on Ukrainian soldiers to try and make them defect. Without even questioning the legality of these happenings, does it strike you as an environment conducive to a democratic referendum? If you said “yes,” then thanks for taking the time to visit my blog, Kim Jong-un, you can go back to oppressing your citizens now.

No truly democratic vote can take place under Martial law conditions, especially when these conditions are imposed by a foreign invader. To believe otherwise is to be Putin or to be a lunatic—so, yeah, to be Putin.

3. Crimea is under equally total political and media control

Let’s take a quick look at Sergei Aksyonov, the current “fairly” “elected” “prime minister” of Crimea. He is a known separatist, who dreamed of Crimea joining Russia for many years. That’s fair enough, but he has always been one of the few. His party gathered a whopping 4 percent of the votes in the last Crimean parliamentary election in 2010. He was a virtual nobody in Crimea’s political landscape.

So how in the gentle fuck of Zeus did this man suddenly become the leader of Crimea in late February?! I’m glad you ask, my hypothetical conversation partner. The answer is: shameless fraud. That linked article goes into detail, but here are just a few juicy bits:

1. The “election” took place behind closed doors, without journalists, and with armed soldiers guarding the entrance to the parliament building.

2. Parliamentary elections can only be valid if at least 51 representatives are present. Only 36 were present, according to independent research, but Aksyonov’s new government insists the number was 61.

3. A number of individuals who were definitely not present saw their names appear on a list of members who voted to elect Aksyonov and hold a referendum. Maybe they were sleep-voting? Eh, that could happen.

In short: If this man is a democratically elected leader of Crimea, then I’m the king of Australia. Somebody should tell Tony Abbot to pack up and cut out his “prime minister” bullshit.

“But Daniel, Aksyonov is just one man. He can’t exactly dictate to the people how they should vote,” you may say. And you’re right, perhaps he can’t outright force anyone. (Although judging by his own rise to power, that’s debatable.) However, he can do absolutely everything in his power to make sure that people receive maximum pressure and disinformation ahead of this planned referendum.

And he does. By now he has shut down Ukrainian TV channels in Crimea and replaced them with their Russian counterparts. He justified it by claiming he was protecting Crimean people from “escalation of violence, lies, and the flow of untrue information that has been flowing from the screens.” That statement instantly wins the prize for the most ironic string of words ever put together by a functioning human being. To discover just how incredibly, blatantly, inconceivably biased and state-controlled the Russian press is at the moment, one only need to read this article. It’s George Orwell’s 1984, just 30 years too late. And that’s doubleplusungood.

Or maybe you want to take a gander at one of the not-at-all-crazy, objective referendum posters currently on display in Crimea—illustrating the choices people can vote on? As you wish:

Crime Referendum Poster

“Nazi swastika? No, that represents, uh, a peaceful four-legged spider? Yeah, that’s it!”

Therefore, I think I can be excused for calling the current atmosphere in Crimea a tiny bit not-at-all-goddamn-impartial and weeping-hell-how-is-this-even-happening-in-2014?!

But, hey, at least smart people can still filter out the propaganda and make up their own minds, right? Well…

2. Crimea’s voters have no real choice

Allow me to briefly discuss the referendum ballots and the choices given to voters. The ballots will ask:

1. Are you in favor of the reunification of Crimea with Russia as a part of the Russian Federation?
2. Are you in favor of restoring the 1992 Constitution and the status of Crimea as a part of Ukraine?

If you look really carefully at these questions, you may notice a tiny, insignificant thing missing: the ability to vote for maintaining the status quo. Nobody has the choice to say “Actually I like the way things are in Crimea, let’s just keep doing that.” An option to abstain or “vote against all” is also suspiciously missing.

More than that, there isn’t even clarity about the exact meaning of the second choice. There is some discussion of what the “1992 Constitution” actually entails, but it all boils down to this summary by a Chatham House writer, Keir Giles:

“The restoration of this (1992) constitution would be a step towards notional independence under Russian control…Those citizens who were content with Crimea remaining part of Ukraine on the same basis as it has been for the last 20 years do not have a voice in this referendum. There is no third option available.”

I’m not saying that these choices are bullshit. I’m saying that these “choices” are shake-your-head-in-utter-disbelief level of bullshit.

1. There is zero transparency and neutrality

All of the above wouldn’t be nearly as bad if there was at least a shadow of transparency; if independent journalists and observers were able to monitor the vote and ensure due process.

The reality? OSCE observers have, on multiple occasions, tried to enter Crimea. Every time they were turned away by increasingly aggressive Russian troops. The last time, apparently, shots were fired to make the observers leave. I won’t be surprised if Putin soon appears on TV to tell us it was just a hilarious misunderstanding (“Because, you see, in Russia, firing guns at people is how we confess our love and invite them in for a cup of tea”).

To be sure, a while ago Russia did make a spectacle out of “inviting” OSCE observers into Crimea. The problem is that these words, so far, aren’t backed by action. If I invite you into my home and then repeatedly slam the door in your face as you try to enter, you’ll be forgiven for doubting my intentions.

As it stands today, independent journalists, observers, and any parties attempting to evaluate the true state of affairs in Crimea are prevented from doing so with any degree of reliability. Some are even allegedly abducted.

Taking into account the above reasons, to call the upcoming charade a “referendum” is the pinnacle of dishonesty. Anyone doing so with a straight face is either lying to himself or to the rest of us. I’m looking at you, Putin.

Here’s the sad bit: Barring some miracle or a next-to-impossible change of heart from Putin, this referendum will take place. The people of Crimea will “vote” to join Russia.

The big question is: What happens next? It’s a question I’m afraid to answer. It’s a question I’m not qualified to answer. But it’s a question that is already on many people’s minds, and will be on everyone’s mind come March 16. No matter what happens, my hope is that nobody sheds blood over these political maneuvers. Despite what Hollywood movies may tell us, real war isn’t all about entertaining kick-ass explosions and awesome giant robots.

I would really appreciate if those who have learned something from this post share it with others. Information is the best weapon we have in the war against oppression.

Ukrainian Flag Blue Yellow

My mission? A peaceful Ukraine

It’s been less than a week since I’ve published my open letter to Putin.

The response has been overwhelming. None of my posts have ever gone this viral on social media, or gotten read by so many people from all over the world. I’m happy my words have an impact.

Some of the people left comments, too. Kind, compassionate comments. I’m thankful for all of them. But yesterday a troll (Meki) galloped across the comment section, leaving outbursts of misguided words and hate in his wake. Some of his comments were deleted for personally insulting my other readers and their words. Most of his comments were left intact and can still be seen below the original post.

I want to focus on one of these comments, which mimicked my “open letter” format. My responses below aren’t meant to give legitimacy to this type of trolling. I realize that, in all likelihood, Meki has moved on to troll other forums. He (she?) is not interested in hearing my opinions. Responses here are for those who are curious about my take on the sad happenings in Ukraine. Let’s treat it as a sort of Q&A session (because “Daniel argues with a troll session” isn’t nearly as glamorous). Sadly, I’ve heard Meki’s words come from some people I’ve spoken to over the past few days. Here are my answers to them:

Dear Beloved Daniel,

By the way, what do you think about Afghanistan invaded by americans, Pakistan doomed by americans, Palestine is being haunted by nazi israilians with the support of americans, Iraq always had anonymous biological guns which will spray the chemical on americans just like they did on Vietnamese, all Vietnamese are terrorists because they do not honor americana, syria is some kind of bastard which doesn’t allow their people to breath since 1000s of years and people are dying there at the rate of 49/minute; Wow! Saudi Arabia is a great Muslim country who sells a lot of oil to americans so they can ship guns to mexico.

Despite the fact that most of the above is rambling gibberish and an ugly mix of truths, half-truths, and straight up nonsense, I think I hear what you’re saying.

The US government has made a lot of recognized foreign policy blunders, repercussions of which are still being felt. I don’t think you’ll find many informed people arguing with this notion. I have just read an interesting article discussing some of the underlying reasons for the current tension between the East and West over Ukraine. What I think about these matters is entirely irrelevant, since I’m neither a political expert nor someone with any proximity to the decision-making that takes place in country governments. I’m going to go ahead and assume that neither are you. Let’s leave it at that and move on.

I would like to make it clear that as you “take care” of many countries then Comrade Putin has also right to take care of couple of countries.

This is profoundly, categorically wrong.

First off, let’s even go as far as to assume that America is the unilateral aggressor that you want to present it as. That does not, by any stretch of logic, give anyone else the right to act in a similar fashion. If anything, people who truly are against the “evil invader” approach should be unequivocally against other countries doing the same.

Secondly, I am emphatically against anybody “taking care” of my country, when “taking care” means the use of military force. I’d be speaking out in the same way if US or European troops were in Ukraine trying to dictate future developments. Today, however, Russia is the only country seizing total control of Crimea under the guise of protecting Ukraine from a phantom threat. More on that later.

Ukraine is in dire need of economic, political, and social reforms that slowly start moving it toward a stable and corruption-free country. It has years, if not decades, to go. All I want, all most Ukrainians want, is to build this future by ourselves, without external military interference. I trust that, given the chance, Ukraine would be wise enough to cooperate with all outside partners, including Russia, US, EU, and others. The country simply can’t do without them. But this must be a matter for diplomats and politicians, not soldiers.

I’m not a Comrade Putin lover; but I must clear you that the person whom you are saying “dead” in above picture is not dead but lying down. Soldiers are firing in the air and he is doing what a good citizen should do.

Congratulations, you have managed to miss the point entirely. The person in the picture was presented as “dead” by the propaganda machine, and the pictures prove the falsehood of this claim. Also, notice that the “dead body” is wearing military uniform. If this wasn’t a staged event (which it was), the job of a soldier wouldn’t entail “lying down” as a “good citizen,” but fighting the alleged aggressors.

How do I know that this scenario is absolute, utter horseshit? Because to this day—since the tragic events of late February, in which almost 100 people died in Kiev in the clashes between rioters and police in the revolt that eventually brought about Yanukovich’s downfall—nobody in Ukraine has been killed by the alleged “fascist” forces. The article I linked to dives deeper into the propaganda-versus-reality picture.

I know Russia attacked on Afghanistan but they didn’t kill people, they didn’t create a Guantanamo, they didn’t took educated women in the name of God, so-called democracy and terrorism, they didn’t strengthen their economy via selling guns, they didn’t support locals to produce cocaine, they didn’t give name “terrorist, taliban” to enemy fighters. They didn’t train their soldiers that we are in the war with all muslim states around the world.

I’ve addressed most of this in my first answer, but I’d like to linger a bit on the “didn’t train their soldiers [to believe] that we are [at war]” part. This is precisely what Putin’s propaganda machine is doing. They have created a scary, powerful, and threatening enemy in the Right Sector movement. They are systematically training people to see the Right Sector as a real, substantial threat, from which Ukraine’s citizens need to be protected by the Russian army.

I won’t claim to fully understand the Right Sector’s motivations and ideology. I’m not naive enough to believe that they’re all peace-loving revolutionaries (is that maybe an oxymoron?). I have seen videos of some of their members acting decidedly uncivilized, bullying policemen, and getting into near-fist-fights with public officers. What I have also seen in many of those videos, is peaceful Ukrainians interfering and not letting things escalate.

What I find much more potent and relevant to focus on is the recent poll showing that just over 2 percent of the population would consider voting for Dmitro Yarosh (leader of the Right Sector) if he ran for president. Or this article, in which a rival politician and rights campaigner says this about the Right Sector: “But I don’t see much room for their radicalism now in democratic politics. Ukrainians are tolerant. Right Sector will have some small support if it develops as a political party, maybe five to seven percent of the vote. I don’t see a big political future for them.”

They’re a radical, marginal group, and are seen as such by most tolerant and objective people of Ukraine. To claim that the Right Sector is a real threat to Ukraine and its politics is akin to claiming the same about the KKK in the US. And even that is a poor comparison, since the Right Sector claims to not be racially biased. The last article I’ve linked to (here it is again) does a decent job of presenting a good picture of the group and its political future (or lack thereof).

And yet, despite all of this, the propaganda machine is succeeding to a large extent. Their systematic repetition of the “fascist threat” rhetoric is turning people against each other. It evokes fear and anger in people I personally know: people whom I know to otherwise be compassionate and kind and objective. People who are deliberately trained to see an imagined enemy as a threat, instead of channeling their passions and emotions toward building a stable and peaceful country.

And it breaks my heart.

And I hope and pray that these negative emotions won’t triumph over objectivity and peacefulness. It would be devastatingly sad for me to see this happen to the country where I grew up.

Okay, the women who are crying. They are crying because their relatives are in Russia and Ukraine both. They do not want any war; that’s why they have tears.

Wrong. I have had the chance to actually watch the interview. The woman is allegedly a resident of Odessa who wants Putin to come and rescue her from the fascists. In another video the (very possibly) same woman is agitating people to create a pro-Russian crowd against the fascists in Kharkov (where I grew up). Since I’ve published my last post there were further alleged sightings of this woman in other cities of Ukraine. Granted, I cannot personally confirm many of these claims. There’s a degree of subjectivity and bias on both sides. However, what I know about the situation, combined with what I have written above about the true threat of the Right Sector, juxtaposed against the woman’s decidedly exaggerated wording about the state of affairs, does indeed make me suspect her of being an agent provocateur. Even if I am wrong about this specific woman, I have already seen enough other blatant propaganda to form my opinion and feelings about it—that feeling is endless disgust, if you’re wondering.

You did touch upon a very important thing though. People do indeed have relatives and friends in both countries. Regular Ukrainians and Russians have been very friendly to each other over the years. Most of them can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to become enemies if things escalate.

That’s why kind, unifying, touching videos are being made, where Ukrainian people speak directly to their Russian brothers. Videos that don’t focus on the “us against them” rhetoric, but speak out for peace and against war.

Videos like this one, or this one, or this one.

And it warms my heart.

And it makes me believe that, in the midst of all this surreal insanity, these people and these messages are the ones that speak the loudest. The alternative, to me, is inconceivable.

Okay You say there are gays and their love is as ultimate as your mama/papa’s. We should respect them because you believe that they will be able to birth cute Daniels in coming years, right? I wish your papa could be a gay so you can see from sky and ask why you are not getting into life.

You don’t know how sentences work, do you? You can’t just throw a bunch of words into a hat, pull them out at random, and assemble them into a word-soup, hoping that others may understand you. Your message appears to be “GAYS BAD. OTHER THINGS. HAHAHA.”

That’s fine, you’re entitled to your opinion. I disagree with you completely, but I won’t be changing your mind. I am a firm believer in equal rights for everyone, regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation, and opinions on lemon-flavored cookies. I want Ukraine to be a country that embraces this type of tolerance. And I’m far from alone. Unfortunately, Russia has a long way to go to (at least politically) acknowledge the rights of many such groups. This is one of the reasons I am against Russia’s attempt to heavy-handedly influence developments in Ukraine.

And so nicely, you called them pro-russian actors just like you and your supporters are made of milk and honey. No discussion, on such illogical statements. You fat black Buffalo; you’re totally black yourself. How you dare to ask cow, “move away from my way you black tail cow”.

Uuuuuuhm, milk and honey. Delicious!

Please (all migrated) americans do not mess with the world, Let us live in peace. Every year we’ll be giving you a thanks giving. I wish your last sentence may come true so we can get rid of you.

For the record (not that it really matters), I’m a Ukrainian living in Denmark. You would have known that if you have bothered to read my post properly, instead of smashing your fingers on the keyboard to write angry words.

But, once again, you manage to say something useful. Namely, the “let us live in peace” part. That’s what I want: for Russia’s politicians to learn to let go and give Ukraine space to live in peace. To let Ukrainians try and settle any possible internal disputes, and together start building a better future.

These may be romantic, even naive, hopes.

But I so want to believe we are capable of making the right choices. I so want to believe that the Ukrainian people at large are tolerant, kind, and reasonable. I so want to believe that, despite our corruption- and turmoil-filled past, we are smart enough to learn from history and start making the right decisions and, slowly, very slowly, turning our country around.

My only mission in all of this is to root for a peaceful resolution to this complex, polarizing, and sad standoff. You said it, Meki—let us live in peace!

***

I leave you all with a little parody skit mocking Russian propaganda, made by a bunch of Ukrainians who haven’t lost their sense of humour in all of this. It even has English subtitles. It makes me immensely happy to see these types of videos being made. A country that hasn’t lost its sense of humour during such sad times is a country I’m proud to have been born in. It’s a country that I trust can pull through this horrible mess with optimism and grace. For without humour, things would look all too depressing indeed: