So if it wasn’t bad enough that we almost got a new war in Europe – something that thankfully looks less probable today compared to last weekend – for the first time since World War Two there are Nazis in a European government. And because of the enormous threat of mother Russia this has been so supressed in the media flow that many people don’t even know that Ukraine’s temporary government include five neo-Nazis, that for instance occupy the ministry of defense. Not to say that the threat from mother Russia is something to play with, but the same is true for neo-Nazis who control the Ukrainian army, and I think we need a broader picture fo the situation to condemn violence and stupidity from both parties.
During the Soviet era millions of Ukrainians starved to death because of Joseph Stalin’s agricultural reforms. Stalin also made sure that Russians migrated to Ukraine and other satellite republics in the USSR to control them. Today, around one third of Ukrainians speak Russian and 17 % identify themselves as ethnically Russian, most of them living in eastern Ukraine or on Crimea.
After the fall of Soviet Ukraine has been one of those countries that has had a hard decision in choosing to be either Western or Eastern, or neither, or both, or in-between. Generally, people in western Ukraine likes to be Western, and vice versa. As we all know, the guy who used to be president until a week ago, Viktor Janukovych, was pro-Russian and declined to sign a treaty with the EU, which made pro-Western citizens in Kiev very angry and they protested aggresively, the police answered violently, people died and finally Janukovych fled to mother Russia.
Now, you with political memory know that this avtually is the second time Yanukovych is removed from office because of public protest. During the Orange Revolution in 2004 and 2005 thousands of activists dressed in orange occupied Maidan square since the 2004 election was filled with fraud and corruption. A new, much fairer election was held, Janukovych lost and the opposition leader with almost the same name Viktor Jushchenko won and everyone were happy. Until it turned out that Jushchenko was horrible in handling the Ukrainian economy that is, and to many’s big surprise Janukovych returned and won the 2009 election which, this time, were fair and square according to international observers.
Fact is that even if Janukovych is severely impopular in the capital, most people on the countryside tend to like him, especially the Russian-speaking parts of the population. So while the Orange revolution was pretty defendable since it protested electorial corruption, this new much more violent revolution removed a democratically elected leader. And he may suck, I have no reasons to doubt that, but it wasn’t a dictator they moved out of office. It gets even more confusing thinking about that the next “ordinary” election was to be held in the end of this year (since they’re every five years and the last on was in 2009). What the revolution did was to speed the election up a couple of months, place some Nazis in a temporary government, and piss off the Russian bear (which is even less democratic than Ukraine).
And speaking of the Ukrainian Nazis, who are they? Neo-Nazis usually try to hide their true ideology and heritage since most people don’t like Hitler nowadays, but Svoboda have hardly even tried until the last ten years. It was founded in 1995 as the Social-National Party of Ukraine, it only accepted ethnic Ukrainians as members and it formed a para-military organization called Patriots of Ukraine. In 2004 it changed name and logo to attract more people, which has been succesful – the party is now supported by 10 % of the population. While the references to Hitler and Goebbels are not as usual today as they used to be, the party’s activists and politicians’ policies clearly show the Nazi roots. They’re still anti-semitic like crazy.
So it’s embarrissingly ironic when Hillary Clinton and John McCain compare Putin with Adolf Hitler. I mean, Putin obviously isn’t a very peaceful or democratic guy, but in this case he’s actually opposing the Nazis. And John McCain himself actually went to Ukraine some months back to meet Oleh Tyahnybok, the leader of Svoboda and speak with him to the Ukrainian people. Tyahnybok joined Svoboda already when it was called the Social-National Party of Ukraine, he preaches anti-semitism, uses scary salutes and is possibly the next Hitler.
Most people who protested at Maidan square this winter had nothing to do with these fascists. Most of them just wanted freedom and democracy. But removing a democratically elected leader from office isn’t the best thing to do when wanting freedom and democracy. Neither installing Nazi representatives in the new government. Those who said that the Nazi activists at Maidan just was a marginal phenomenon surely were proven wrong when five of Ukraine’s ministers belong to Svoboda, including several of its leaders who founded the original Social-National Party of Ukraine.
So now Russia has occupied Crimea, saying that Janukovych is the legitimate leader of Ukraine and that the country is insecure for Russians and Russian-speakers. Embarassingly, Putin has over and over again criticised the West for intervening in other states’ affairs (Iraq, Libya, Syria), a problem he solves by claiming that the Russian-speaking soldiers at Crimea do not belong to the Russian army, but they are simply ordinary Ukrainians that bought uniforms and guns on e-bay. And trucks and helicopters, I guess. Not a very good lie to say the least.
So that’s a brief analysis of mine, and I think we can sum it up with that the situation is chaotic, scary and not very Christ-like. Most Ukrainians and Russians are Christians, or at least claim to be, and I think this whole mess is a severe spiritual problem. I feared that the war would explode last Sunday, which would be extremely ironic in an Orthodox culture – Christians killing Christians on the Lord’s day. I generally like Orthodoxs but they have a problematic tradition of nationalism, which makes no sense since the New Testament never preaches nationalism but says that our identity is to be citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. And something that makes even less sense is Nazi Christians! (And Nazi atheists as well for that matter, Nazism never makes sense.)
So let’s pray for Ukraine and Russia. Pray for a revival that will cast out all demons and drive away all fear. Pray for the orhodoxs to practice orthopraxy and love their enemies and fight racism non-violently. And pray for peace, sanity and international love. Amen.