Please find below my response to the article written by Mr. Seumas Milne published by the Guardian this week.
Great British politician who didn’t allow his nation to succumb to Hitler’s aggression, Winston Churchill, once remarked: “The fascists of the future will be called anti-fascists”. This maxima is deliberately neglected by Seumas Milne who in his column for the Guardian follows all kinds of falsifications and propaganda stamps that Kremlin uses to justify its sneak aggression against Ukraine and plans to annex Crimean peninsula.
Mass protest of Ukrainians against corrupt and bloody regime of Viktor Yanukovych which was called the Euromaidan was all but a rally of far-right extremists in quest of imposing one nation exclusive rule over all other ethnic groups in Ukraine. Although many Ukrainian nationalists passionately joined the protest against Yanukovych’s plans to get Ukraine into Moscow-led Customs Union instead of signing a beneficial future-oriented Association Agreement with the EU, Maidan was a place of multinational national solidarity in the face of repressions. One shouldn’t forget that Sergey Nigoyan, first victim of police ruthlessness among Maidan defenders was ethnic Armenian who came to support the protest in Kyiv from Russian-speaking Dnipropetrovsk region in Eastern part of the country. Jews actively joined ranks of protesters and a religious Jew headed one of Maidan self-defense units passing command status to his Ukrainian deputy every Friday after the sunset for Sabbath time.
Crimean Tatars a Sunni-Muslim ethnic group that ruled in Crimea before it was captured by Russian Empire in 1783 were en mass backing Maidan since its early days and now decisively oppose secession of the peninsula let alone its accession to the Russian Federation. They still remember how in 1944 all their people were forcefully moved to Central Asia under Stalin’s order with their land and houses transferred to ethnic Russians. That is where domination of Russian population of Crimea stems from.
Not a single representative of ethnic or other minorities has yet complained about the worsening of its position after the victory of Ukrainian democratic revolution. Instead, they articulated their will to have an Association Agreement with the EU signed as soon as possible, which will bring additional safeguards against any discrimination or violation of human rights. Moreover it is with the deployment of Russian troops in Crimea that swastika signs appeared on the walls of synagogue in Simferopol – an administrative center of the autonomy. And it is chief rabbi of Ukraine Yaakov Dov Bleich who publicly stepped up with the idea to hold the G7 summit in Kyiv to display support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. One risks real logic conflict stipulating that rabbi could theoretically dare speak in favor of government dominated by neo-Nazi as Mr. Milne claims.
References to some clumsy comments by some second-tier participants of Maidan are weak arguments in favor of Russian blunt military intervention. Any objective student of history would recall Nazi’s response to the Prague’s assertive cultural policy as an excuse to annex German-dominated Sudetenland by the Third Reich. Ukrainian nationalists did already get a lesson of tolerance and moderation facing the challenge of keeping the country’s territorial integrity. Under consistent European supervision Ukraine can introduce enough guarantees for protection and development of its cultural and ethnic diversity. But all these will be crossed by the lack of Western robust response to Russian aggression that would teach all nations that force and triumph of will are again a shorter way to their dreams and aspirations than dialogue and rule of law. Hope we still remember the consequences of such developments for the continent.
Professor of Comparative Politics,
School for Policy Analysis
University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy