Missile launch with smoke

MH17: Russia vs. the world

Today, the Dutch Safety Board released its final report on MH17. For anyone following the story, its conclusions aren’t a surprise: MH17 was downed by a BUK surface-to-air missile. A parallel criminal investigation will wrap-up within a few months.

Now’s a good time to briefly revisit the exact chronology of the MH17 story.

Pro-Russian separatists: We’ve shot down a Ukrainian An-26!

Russia: Rebels have shot down a Ukrainian An-26!

Everyone else: Actually, it was MH17.

Russia: Ukrainians have shot down MH17! They were trying to fire at Putin’s plane and to assassinate him.

Everyone else: MH17 was likely shot down by a surface-to-air missile launched from rebel-held territory.

Russia: Ukrainian Su-25 shot it down. Just ask air controller Carlos!

Everyone else: MH17 disintegrated after being hit by a large number of high-velocity objects from outside, likely shrapnel that came from a BUK surface-to-air missile launched from rebel-held territory.

Russia: There was no MH17. It was actually the missing MH370, repainted and loaded with corpses.

Everyone else: All available evidence and witness testimony strongly indicate that MH17 was shot down by a BUK surface-to-air missile brought into Ukraine by members of the 53rd Russian Air Defense Brigade from Kursk and fired from rebel-held Snizhne.

Russia: There was a bomb placed on board MH17 by CIA agents to frame Russia in a false flag attack.

Everyone else: There is sufficient empirical evidence to corroborate and add further details to the original BUK version.

Russia: Okay, fine, maybe it was a BUK, but then it was a Ukrainian BUK, and it was launched from Ukraine government–held territory by Ukrainian soldiers speaking Ukrainian and singing Ukrainian songs. Ukraine Ukraine Ukraine.

Everyone else: Further investigation confirms the original version and makes it highly unlikely that the BUK launch could have taken place from the territory held by the Ukrainian government. We all vote in favor of a UN resolution that calls for an impartial and fact-based tribunal to prosecute whoever is found to be responsible.

Russia: We already know Ukraine/CIA/aliens are responsible. They should all be punished! Also, we single-handedly veto the UN resolution that calls for an impartial tribunal and prosecution of whoever is found responsible.

Dutch Safety Board: MH17 was definitely downed by a BUK surface-to-air missile, which exploded less than one meter from the cockpit. It was a 9N314M warhead as carried on a 9M38-series missile. We have extensively studied the comments provided by the Russian Federation. Alternate scenarios were thoroughly ruled out.

Russia: Why won’t anybody listen to us?!

To be continued…

You can read a much more thorough take on this in my Listverse article:
10 Outrageous Ways Russian Media Covered The Crash Of MH17

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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.

Ukraine Map With Cities

5 Russian myths about Ukraine (it’s time to let go of) Myth #5: Junta

As Russia’s information space rapidly barrels toward becoming some absurdist la la land, the rest of the world struggles to keep up. And while it’s fun (well, “fun”) to mock Russia for its phantasmagorical claims of child crucifixions by Ukrainian troops, or MH17 being filled with already-dead people when it was shot down, it’s important to remember that these outrageous stories are part of a massive, largely successful disinformation campaign.

You see, the West is used to the news media being relatively sane (if not always completely unbiased). So a natural instinct for most foreign viewers is to gravitate toward a “the truth is somewhere in the middle” interpretation. That’s usually a perfectly reasonable approach. Usually. There are indeed two sides to every story. But when one side of the story is “Russia is fomenting unrest in Ukraine” and the other is “European Union and Ukraine are building concentration camps for their opponents and poisoning their water supply,” the truth isn’t quite somewhere in between. Using Russia’s account of events as a benchmark isn’t “listening to both the Ukrainian and the Russian side of the story.” It’s more like “listening to the Ukrainian side of the story and the ravings of the town’s crackpot who believes that flying space monkeys are stealing his lunch money and also haberdash donkey-poop *hissing sounds*.”

Unfortunately, the Russian narrative has slowly permeated the Western information space. Even though reality has long caught up with and disproved many of the Russian myths about Ukraine, a few persistent tenets keep resurfacing with striking regularity. Let’s see if we can put some of these myths to rest for good. Today, we cover Myth #5:

5. Ukraine’s government is a bloodthirsty “junta”

Russia says:
The current Kiev government is a genocidal junta that came to power through an armed coup. They are engaged in a “punitive operation”—methodical and targeted genocide of Russian-speakers—because they want to…because…shut up, that’s why!

Sample headlines (I’m not linking to wacko sources, but they can be found via Google search):

CIA, FBI agents dying for illegal junta in Ukraine

Moscow: UN report on Ukraine distorts facts to justify punitive operation

The grain of truth:
There are plenty of things to criticize Ukraine’s government for. You’ll find very few people who see Ukrainian government as altruistic angels that were beamed down to Earth by a benevolent God to impart world peace upon everyone. (If you do find some people who believe that, maybe ask whether their medicine has exceeded its expiration date.)

Corruption is deeply embedded in Ukraine’s political system. It will take years to flush it out. Many of the current politicians are unwilling to make any real effort to fight corruption, instead resorting to populist statements (hey, saying things is like, so much easier than doing them, you guys). The parliament still relapses into bar brawl mentality and has scuffles that occasionally get recognized as pure art:

Ukraine Parliament Art Fight

Finally, and most tragically, Ukraine’s military is indeed involved in an armed standoff with the separatists in the Donbass region, which is costing civilian lives. It’s a sad, largely inescapable fact of any armed conflict. This is the first such conflict in the country’s history and is the apparent terrible price Ukraine will have to pay for its true independence.

But let’s get real:
Semantics first.

Junta: “A military group controlling a government after taking control of it by force.”

First, let’s look at the “taking control by force” part.

Following the atrocious events of February 18–20, 2014, where almost 100 protesters were killed in bloody clashes, former President Yanukovich signed a compromise deal with the opposition. Then he promptly made like The Road Runner and mbeep-beeped the hell out of Ukraine. Allegedly, after promising to officially resign, he ended up refusing to do so, while still leaving the country in a power vacuum, seeing how he wasn’t physically there to, you know, run it. On February 22, the parliament voted 328-0 to impeach him. Legal technicalities aside, I’d say a vote of 328 against “fucking nothing at all” is pretty indicative. The parliament subsequently elected an interim prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Parliament speaker, Oleksandr Turchynov, became acting president until the scheduled early presidential elections.

On May 25, Petro Poroshenko was elected President, receiving 55% of the votes. The election was monitored by over 1,000 OSCE observers from 49 countries—OSCE’s largest-ever election observation mission. Despite the separatists in the East doing their best to fuck up the vote in the areas they controlled, OSCE deemed the elections a success. Now can we please move past the “coup” rhetoric?

Second, let’s briefly check out the government’s impressive “military” credentials:

Prime Minister Yatsenyuk: economist and lawyer. “Economist and lawyer”? Why, that almost sounds like “Major-General,” if you suffer from a crippling form of dyslexia.

Chairman of the Parliament Oleksandr Turchinov: screenwriter and economist. Also? A goddamn Baptist preacher. Truly terrifying in his militarism.

President Petro Poroshenko: one of Ukraine’s richest men. Made his fortune mainly in the confectionery business, hence the nickname “Chocolate King.” Judging by his bulky physique, the only battle he’s ever fought was the one against delicious-yet-unhealthy food. The food won.

Poroshenko Black Suit

Here he is holding an imaginary oversized burger.

Maybe it’s time to stop calling these gentlemen military junta? Unless you have a fetish for being wrong, huh Russia?

Finally, each of them made every effort to de-escalate the conflict at various points. At each point, they were completely ignored by the separatists.

March 18, on the day Russia was busy annexing Crimea, Yatsenyuk addressed the residents of Ukraine’s south-east. His main message was, quote: “We need peace and tranquility, and we have a huge chance to change our country for the better.” Specifically, he guaranteed unchanged status of the Russian language, decentralization of power, and maintaining good neighborly relations with Russia. You’ll notice that these are all the things the separatists are now supposedly fighting for. Confused? Well, you shouldn’t be, as long as you acknowledge the artificial nature of this conflict and the fact that these demands are a smokescreen. Have always been. Stay tuned for Myth #1.

On April 6, after the separatists seized regional buildings in Donetsk and Lugans, Turchinov reiterated the government’s commitment to regional autonomy. Moreover, he even offered them amnesty from prosecution.

Finally, on June 21, Poroshenko announced a unilateral, one-week ceasefire. Ukrainian army stopped its advance against separatist-held towns. Poroshenko once again offered amnesty to those who didn’t commit serious crimes. He once again reiterated the message of decentralization. He again stressed that the Russian language will retain its current status. All the separatists had to do was to put down their weapons and release the dozens of hostages they were holding against their will. If you’re going to click on one hyperlink in this article, make it this one, and read Poroshenko’s address. A total warmongering lunatic, isn’t he?

The ceasefire was later extended by three additional days, despite the separatists consistently ignoring it and repeatedly attacking Ukrainian positions. At least 27 Ukrainian soldiers were killed during the 10 days of the ceasefire. All while trying to give peace yet another chance. Junta? What the fuck are you smoking, Russia?

As final proof that Ukraine government’s end goal is peace and not the complete eradication of all sentient life, let’s look at two recaptured cities: Kramatorsk and Slovyansk. Both were considered key strongholds of the separatist resistance. Both were recaptured by Ukraine’s army in early July. Here’s how the Russian-friendly media described these cities prior to Ukrainian forces liberating them:

Ukraine—Kiev’s Genocide: What’s Happening in Slovyansk

Kiev junta punishers began to shoot Kramatorsk with heavy artillery in the area of Stankostroy

Now let’s fast-forward to August 24—Ukraine’s Independence Day—in each of those cities.

Slovyansk:

Slovyansk Independence Day

Kramatorsk:

Enough said, Putin?

Stay tuned for Myth #4.

Blue And Purple Megaphone

WTF Report: “Propaganda Fail”

You may remember the recent minor misunderstanding, which involved Putin’s army going into Crimea to look for phantom fascists but then accidentally holding a sham referendum and annexing the peninsula?

Well, I happened to come across a very telling piece of Russian propaganda from that time. It’s from February 25, shortly before Russian army went into Crimea. The army was allegedly there to protect ethnic Russians from rampaging neo-Nazis. Also, the army was allegedly not there at all, according to Putin. It’s all so very complicated.

In any case, here’s a small new segment from Russian TV (with English subtitles), intended to paint the Kremlin-preferred picture of utter chaos and Maidan extremists running loose. Pay attention to the moving images that set the dark tone behind the news anchor. The channel makes a live call to a deputy of Crimean parliament, who is supposed to corroborate the “fascist danger” story. However, he didn’t seem to get the memo, so he tells the truth instead:

Notice how he gets cut off due to “technical difficulties”? Notice the anchor’s shaky voice as she tries to sound genuine when describing said “difficulties”? That’s the funny part.

The not-so-funny part? It didn’t matter that the pretext was utter bullshit. Putin still went into Crimea. He still annexed it, without incurring too many costs. And now? Now he’s executing this same exact scenario in Ukraine’s south-east regions.

What’s the message here? “Fuck Putin,” I guess? Yup, that’s it. Fuck him very much, from the bottom of my heart. I hope his cynical, disgusting actions in Ukraine spell the eventual end of his authoritarian rule in Russia. It really is about damn time.

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.

Yellow Hammer Sickle

An open letter to Putin from a concerned Ukrainian

Dear Mr. Comrade Putin,

First of all, let me assure you that I—like most Ukrainians—fully support your current activities in my country.

All of us want to see Ukraine once again become a part of a strong and mighty Soviet Union. We desperately need Russia to rescue us from all those gays, progressive political ideas, and people who insist on openly speaking their minds under the pretext of this “free speech” nonsense. You have demonstrated an uncanny ability to effectively deal with all three, so your leadership is required here.

The media insist that Viktor Yanukovych was ousted for being too corrupt and dictatorial, but you and I both know the truth: He was simply not corrupt and dictatorial enough. No, we want you, Mr. Putin!

Having said that, I am deeply concerned about the efficacy of your current propaganda efforts and political maneuvering. If Russia is to finally annex Ukraine, you need to do much better than that. Please allow me to humbly point out some weaknesses in your overall strategy, so that you may address them.

Propaganda Quality

I am no fool. I acknowledge the need for a full-blown disinformation campaign aimed at Russian citizens, in order to gain their support. What else are you going to do—tell them the truth?! Ha, imagine? I admire how you have cleverly chosen to paint Ukraine as a country where Russian-speaking citizens are persecuted and marginalized. Where militant nationalists and fascists are shooting and killing ethnic Russians left and right. This is a wise and necessary strategy. As a son of a Russian mother and a Jewish father (and a proud speaker of Russian) I can only support you spreading such lie…ahem…stories, if only to take those “pure Ukrainians” down a peg.

I am, however, disappointed at the insufficient budget you have allocated for these propaganda measures. Some embarrassing footage of clearly staged events is beginning to surface. Like these ladies, who were participating in a pro-Russian rally as “concerned locals” in my home city of Kharkov, on March 1:

Kharkov protests

Here are the same two ladies, now “concerned locals” of Odessa, two days later:

Odessa Protesters

Or this “dead victim” of a “fascist attack” in Crimea suddenly coming back to life to adjust his position for maximum comfort:

Dead Body Crimea

Even zombies get tired every now and then.

A number of sites have begun to crop up, exposing these and other…inconsistencies. One of these sites is www.stopfake.org. People behind it claim to be journalists. They seem to mistakenly assume that journalism involves disseminating facts, while you, Mr. Putin, know better than anyone that true journalism is about creating a dependable and efficient channel for government propaganda. Why are you hesitating to shut down their site? Or why don’t you at least help create a counter-site, something like http://www.support-necessary-disinformation-in-pursuit-of-greater-good.ru?

Frankly—if I may—this is laughable. Surely Russia can afford more and better actors to pose as pro-Russian supporters. Hell, if you bought me a summer house in Sochi, I’d consider signing up. I’m sure I could play a much more convincing dead body; I’ve taken drama classes before.

Dissenting Voices

More disturbingly, however, an increasing number of people have begun to speak up against what’s happening. Worst of all, they do so while calmly appealing to rational thinking and calling for unity among all people of Ukraine, regardless of ethnicity . The nerve of them!

Take this monster—who happens to be the mayor of Lviv—spreading his vile, poisonous message of peace among all Ukrainians and a stable, truly democratic and tolerant country. Look at how well-spoken and well-reasoned he is. It sickens me!

Or how about this man, Dr. Komarovsky, a pediatrician based in Ukraine, yet popular among Russian parents? Look at him, urging everyone to exercise common sense and search for unbiased sources of information instead of consuming your beautiful, well-crafted propaganda!

Mr. Putin, comrade, I understand that your reach within Ukraine is somewhat limited, and that’s why you are yet unable to stop these people from speaking so freely. But how do you excuse similar dissenting voices coming from within Russia itself? Comedians, celebrities, and others are speaking out against your actions, calling for the people of our two historically friendly countries to stay united against war and propaganda?! What about countless posts on social media, debunking your claims and speaking out against your polices? How are you letting this madness happen?

Listen, I realize that things were different in the old days. Propaganda is much easier to spread when there’s a single TV channel that is fully controlled by the government. The Internet is making your job very difficult, I admit. But there are ways. Other countries have been able to prevent their citizens from accessing Internet sites, at will. Why can’t you? It’s almost as if you’re not very committed to this course of action.

General Confusion

Finally, on the subject of Russian troops moving into Crimea. Why aren’t they wearing identifying insignia, designating them as such? It would make the process so much smoother.

Surely if Russian troops openly crossed into Ukraine they’d be welcomed as heroes and liberators! It’s not like moving your army into a neighbouring country is against international laws, or something. Why not just have the Russian army raise the Russian flag and march victoriously into Ukraine, letting our citizens—tired of fascists and ultra-nationalists—march with Russia to rebuild the USSR of old?!

Instead you are sending mixed signals and creating all sorts of confusion. What if somebody mistakes the noble Russian troops for some sort of foreign insurgents, illegally invading Ukraine? That could lead to all sorts of hilarious misunderstandings, no?

Comrade Putin, I have every confidence that you will heed my above concerns. Crack down on the voices of reason. Put out more effective propaganda (after all, you put out what you Putin—ha, ha, I kid). Make your stance clear, and let Ukraine rally behind you as the true leader of a glorious and undefeated Soviet Union.

On a more selfish note, I hope that—once Ukraine is absorbed into your empire—you will spare a moment to do me a personal favor.

You see, I currently reside in the country of Denmark. There are thousands of us ethnic Russians and Russian speakers here in the country. Every single day we are forced to speak Danish (or at least English) to the rest of the people. More than that, the Danish government stubbornly refuses to recognize Russian as one of the official languages, thereby continuing to marginalize and oppress us.

Please, comrade Putin, if you have any troops to spare, make them invade Denmark and protect your Russian people. We need you now more than ever!

Long live the Red Army. Glory to the Soviet Union.

Respectfully yours,
Daniel

***
HERE’S “PART II” & HERE’S “PART III

Peacock Rainbow

Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws: 5 reasons they’re necessary

Top news of the day: I have returned to Denmark, but will be leaving again in a week to partake in the minor event called my-freaking-wedding-holy-schlimazel-I’m-going-to-be-married-soon-how-crazy-is-that.

In other, less momentous news, everyone is wondering whether Russia’s anti-gay bill will affect the upcoming Olympics in Sochi. The simple and unambiguous answer to that, of course, is that it most definitely will, but absolutely, categorically will not.

While many people oppose Russia’s bill, I am here to talk about its merit and discuss the many reasons it’s a very necessary measure.

Don’t worry, I won’t be repeating the obvious. Everyone knows that when our kids see two gay men kissing or holding hands in public they automatically start worshipping the Devil and stabbing stuffed animals in the eye with ice picks. That’s just common sense. Plus all that hand-holding is, like, really icky and stuff.

What I’ll be presenting are the less-known facts that expose gay people for what we’ve always suspected them to be: well-adjusted, contributing members of society who, apart from their sexual preference, are exactly the same as the rest of us. I know, it’s sickening!

Here are the reasons why we should uphold anti-gay laws.

5. Gays make straight parents look bad

Did you know that some studies point to gay couples making the best parents? Or show that children who have gay parents are apparently happier?

While some of you may be tempted to applaud these findings and even use them to argue that gay parents are better for our society, let me stop you right there.

How do you think it makes straight parents look? That’s right: it makes them look like incompetent fools. If our children can’t look up to their straight parents, who will they look up to? That’s right: fictional heroes like John McClane, Rambo and Forrest Gump. Next thing you know our children are eating chocolate and walking on broken glass. We can’t have that!

Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate – the Black Death of our generation

4. Gay marriages put lawyers out of work

A recent study looked at legalisation of gay marriage and its correlation to divorce rates. What it found was shocking, horrifying and, for lack of a better word, horrifying (for the second time): those states that allow gay marriage have, on average, lower divorce rates.

I don’t think anybody needs me to explain what this means, but I will do so anyway. It means that divorce lawyers will become unemployed as soon as gay marriage is legalised. Lawyers have long been an underprivileged and oppressed class in our society. Now, gay marriage is threatening to drive them out of work and into depression.

Save the world’s lawyers! Don’t be a monster!

Lawyer in Dark Clothes

Look at the poor bastard, forced to wear hideous rags!

3. Gay men are stealing our women

Did you know that, according to this study, women are more likely to trust relationship advice given by gay men? In fact, they are more likely to trust a gay male friend than a straight female friend.

I want you to think long and hard about what the implications of this are, then I will tell you what they are, because you’re bound to arrive at the wrong conclusion.

If gay men are allowed to run around and build meaningful relationships with our women, our women will have less time for us. Also, gay man are in a perfect position to get into our women’s heads and turn them against us. Women trust them unconditionally! Next time your girlfriend or wife talks to a gay friend of hers, what’s stopping him from saying: “Forget about Daniel (your name is Daniel too, right?)! You should be with me instead”?

Nothing!

What’s that? Why would gay men be interested in stealing our straight girlfriends? I have the perfect answer for you:

Shut up when I’m making a point that makes sense in my head, that’s why! Smart ass!

Donkey Eating From A Hand

Asses do have surprisingly high IQ

2. Gays have had their time, now it’s our turn

I bet you thought that gay people are the product of our twisted modern society, but, it turns out, they’ve been around for a long, long time. They’ve been spotted in ancient Rome, ancient Greece, ancient Mesopotamia and countless other places. I haven’t been to any of those! When was the last time you went to ancient Rome or ancient Mesopotamia? Thought so!

When is it our turn?

The answer is: now!

Gays have been stealing our thunder for as long as Zeus, the God of Thunder, was splitting trees asunder with his lightning bolts. Finally, in the 21st century, straight people get to be noticed.

I refuse to remain silent. I will shout it from the rooftops:

We are here! We are straight! We are…not as good at rhyming!

Halloween

Believe it or not, all of these words rhyme!

1. Gay people make all of us gay

There’s no mild way to put it, so I’ll just say it: it’s been proven that countries with less anti-gay discrimination are happier than others. Take the case of a disgusting little place called Denmark. Danes are consistently rated as the happiest nation and they are one of the most liberal folk when it comes to gay rights. Awful!

You’re not following, are you? Do I need to spell it out? Fine:

Gay tolerance make countries happy. Do you know what another word for “happy” is? Gay! Another word for “happy” is “gay”.

So, scientific studies show that, in a very real, measurable way, gay people are making every single one of us gay too! It’s contagious! It’s just like the zombie apocalypse, but slightly more fabulous.

Green Zombie

What a gay zombie!

Say what you want, but Russia clearly knows what it’s doing.

If you all want to be happy, have stable marriages and satifised children, go right ahead and play into the gay people’s hands!

Me? I’ll stay right here and be bitter and miserable, along with Russia, thank you very much.

***

There Is MoreFor some more pertinent commentary on societal issues, check out:

5 stupidest arguments against pursuing gender equality

4 Hidden Dangers of Prancercise

12 surprisingly insightful “stupid” celebrity quotes