The recent PACE session adopted a resolution flatly denying the right of South-Eastern Ukraine to defend democracy and freedom and express the people’s will by staging peaceful protests. The conclusions PACE came to are based on myths instilled by unscrupulous Ukrainian politicians and public activists.
The myth number one states than Ukraine is a unitary state, where Russians are a minority that came from outside. That’s what is expounded in compilated works by nationalist historians who have poor knowledge of the history of Kharkov, Donetsk, Lugansk, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhye, Nikolayev, Kherson and Odessa regions which had no settled population at the moment of their accession to Russia. Russians are natives there, part of this territory belonged to Don Cossacks.
The 1926 census in the USSR did not define nationality on ethnic grounds. The criterion was the place of residence on the territory of one or another Soviet republic. As a result, many Russians, Greeks, Jews and Polish were forcibly made Ukrainians.
The second myth is related to the linguistic situation. The statistics have always been based on ethnic composition of population making all ethnic Ukrainians Ukrainian language speakers. But even official data states that from one half to three thirds of the population in the South-East are native Russian speakers.
Social studies show that 80-90% of people living in the south-eastern part of the country speak Russian in the family. According to Gallup Institute, around 83% of Ukraine’s population prefer to use Russian in everyday life, business correspondence and while speaking to each other. The Russian language is suppressed in preschool education. The new regime in Kiev constantly steps forward with initiatives to ban Russian speakers from holding any state positions, or even put them behind bars and make them subject to death sentences. Just imagine Wallonians in Belgium to be handed down death sentences for speaking French!
The third myth is the cultural-historic unity of Ukrainian society. The values of South-East are unacceptable for the West. The differences mainly boil down to opposing views on the heroic fight of Soviet people against fascists. At the same time the South-East and Central Ukraine don’t accept the heroization of collaborationists who sided with Hitler and expounded fascist views, especially Stepan Bandera, the agent of Hitler’s Abwehr known under the alias Grey, and Roman Shukhevych, a Wehrmacht captain, commander of Nachtigall Battalion formed by German fascists for subversive activities. It’s an open secret that many Nazi from OUN (the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) took part in Holocaust. They are held in esteem by contemporary Ukrainian politicians. The Maidan’s slogan was «Glory to Ukraine! Glory to Heroes!» These words were used as passwords by Nazi of Bandera’s OUN. Kiev declares the values of South-East as damaging for the state, while those who defend them are considered to be «second-rate» citizens.
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Can protests be avoided in the conditions when half of population is subject to discrimination on ethnic and linguistic grounds, and people are persued for convictions? When the persons already suffering from being subject to discrimination were called «second rate» citizens, an uncontrolled and powerful explosion became inevitable.
The people living in South-East want their children to get education, listen to the news and watch TV in native tongue. They don’t want to put up with being called «enemies of state» only because they were born in Russian speaking families. They cannot stand any longer the fact that their predecessors are called oppressors and criminals only for defending homeland in the battle of Stalingrad and liberating Auschwitz, while those who shot Jews in Babi Yar are called national heroes.
It’s impossible to have such opposing values peacefully coexist in a unitary state which defends only one part of population. As Irina K, a professor from the Donetsk region, says, «We won’t comply with the rules imposed by Western Ukraine. Few take part in protests, the rest have to work so that life would not stop in the cities. But if they use force to suppress our movement, then literally the whole population of Donbass will rise». At present it’s only two regions out of eight that we’re talking about, but they account for 15% of the Ukraine’s population and 30% of the country’s GDP.
As the world history shows, including the experience of ethnic conflict management in former Yugoslavia, federalization is the only peaceful solution to such deep-rooted conflicts. Becoming a federal state allows every part of the country to independently define the course of its political, economic and humanitarian development, while the central authorities are responsible for coordination and the functions that cannot be carried out at local level.
It makes no sense to hold the Geneva crisis management talks slated for April 17 with the participation of the European Union, the Russian Federation, the United States of America and Ukraine only without the representation of Ukrainian South-East. Otherwise the crisis will aggravate and turn into a full-scale civil war waged in the vicinity of the borders with the European Union, and Ukraine will not exist as a unitary state anymore being divided into a few parts hostile to each other…