by Rostislav Ischenko

Translated by Seva


There were two news items last week: an attack by Nazi goons on Vasily Volga, who is trying to promote in Ukraine a left-wing pseudo-opposition project integrated into the regime, and of similar attack on a group of former members of the Regions Party, who tried to organize in Kharkov a pseudo-opposition event as a part of the centrist pro-peace and pro-European project already integrated with the regime. For some reason, the victims are called pro-Russian politicians.

These people are no more pro-Russian than Petr Alexeevich Poroshenko, who also worked with Yanukovych as a minister and maintains good relations with the Russian ambassador in Kiev. The only difference is that Poroshenko has the power, whereas these “opposition” politicians loyal to the regime want to return to power. Pretty much like various “saviors” of Ukraine dream of returning to power waiting in Moscow for the people to call on them to “save the country”.

Earlier, when they were in power, these people promised to fight Russia alongside Nazi “Svoboda”. By then in Kreshchatik, Maidan had been going wild for a couple of months, the blood had already been spilled, Yanukovych was fading daily, while representatives of these people were pronouncing on Ukrainian TV that “Russia is not a brotherly state for us, just a neighbor. Our place is in Europe. We did not cancel the signing of the association agreement, just postponed it, and we will sign it”.

Now they are saying: “We are for peace. We will return Donbass to Ukraine peacefully”. They don’t mention Crimea, but when asked directly, the reply vaguely: “We will negotiate”.

In reality, these people are more dangerous than Nazi thugs that prop the regime. Storm troopers are outside of a system. They objectively are against any state, as they can and want to act only outside of legal framework. Their attacks on Crimea, Donetsk, and Lugansk lead to the secession of these regions. Their attacks on mayors, politicians, administrative offices, state institutions, etc, they don’t like, and their attempts to appoint their “revolutionary cooks” (a reference to a famous Lenin’s phrase: “Every cook must learn how to govern” meaning that the people should take the management of the state in their own hands – translator’s note) as heads of various institutions destroyed the administrative structure, eroded the law enforcement, resulted in the loss of power by the central state institutions, and de facto lead to the progressive disintegration of Ukraine.

In contrast, the opposition loyal to the regime, regardless whether it’s left-wing or centrist, tries to put the broken mosaic back together and reassemble Ukraine as a state. Reassemble it like it was under Yanukovych, but without Yanukovych. With Petr Alexeevich (Poroshenko), or Dobkin, or Boiko at the helm.

And following that, they know only one mode of existence of Ukrainian economy and state: steal from the budget and aspire to join Europe. Since Ukraine does not have the resources to support these two “strategic” directions of its “development”, the first thing these “opposition” figures would do if they get the power back would be to ask Russia for help, credits, and access to markets. They would ask to return Donbass. Since they don’t have the force to push aside the local elites in Donetsk and Lugansk that rose during the war and are backed by well-armed and trained army, they would try to talk Moscow into restoring their power in Donbass. They would also asked to return Crimea. They would say: “You took Crimea away from the Nazis, but we are good guys. Please return. It is ours. You gifted it to us. It is a bad form to take the gifts away, particularly from the little and weak”.

Unlike the people of Ukraine, even people from Galichina, even Bandera followers, these people will never be Russians. Bandera followers learned that they are Bandera followers from the TV. That is why there are lots of “Bandera followers” in Ukraine who grew up near Ural mountains, in Moscow, or in the Far East. Not just Russians, but Udmurtians, Bashkirs, Tatars, Komi, or Manci can see themselves as “Bandera followers”. One does not need to speak Ukrainian, or even Russian, for that. One only needs to “love Ukraine” and hate Russia.

Let me repeat, for most people the Bandera ideology is nothing more than the result of propaganda. But if grownup people, former communists, who was born and raised in Russia and came to work to Ukraine at fairly ripe age can be convinced, that they are Bandera followers, the reversal of this process is also possible. The potential of modern propaganda machine, if not unlimited, is very great. No doubt, some of the prodigal Russians now calling themselves Bandera followers or Ukrainians, will never come back from that state (some victims of totalitarian sects cannot return to the real world – their psyche is too fragile and won’t survive this), but the majority will get reprogrammed by media easily and quickly. Just like former communists and young communist league members of the 80-s became nationalists in the 90-s, they will morph into a new identity.

But that does not apply to the political class. These people fight not for ideas, but for property. They view the political power exclusively as the means to grab and retain property. That is why “pro-Russian” politicians all want to preserve Ukraine (whether they work on it in the Kiev parliament, thereby legitimizing the Nazi junta, or emigrated to Moscow and are ostensibly fighting it).

Both are prepared to come to an agreement with Poroshenko and his Nazis embedded into the system against the Nazis that are outside of the system. Both only need an access to power. Those in Moscow consider as plan B their return with the Russian troops, but on the condition of their appointment as “independent sovereigns” (even if they are propped by the Russian military). But both Kiev “opposition” and Moscow “saviors” would prefer to come to an agreement with the oligarchs in Kiev and share power with them, to return to the earlier status quo.

By the way, on Russian TV talk shows they explicitly say just that. Only the Russian public interprets their word differently, missing nuances. Arguing with their pro-Kiev opponents they do not object to their pro-European or pro-American policies; their only concern is that this is done so ineptly. “Opposition” figures and “saviors” signal to Kiev via media that they know how to stabilize the regime, that they are prepared to come to an agreement both with Kiev and Kremlin, that they managed to balance between Russia and the West before and can do it now. They hint that they are aware of their mistakes (calling them Yanukovych’s mistakes). They do not claim all the power. They are prepared to share it.

They have the same dreams and aspirations as Kiev regime – to preserve Ukraine as their property, the source of their personal wealth. That is why former Donetsk politicians that moved to Kiev (those from Yanukovych team) do nothing to save Donbass – their motherland – from the invasion of Bandera followers. Regarding DPR/LPR, they hold the same position as Kiev regime that started the civil war insisting that Donbass must return to the Ukrainian jurisdiction.

Just as Kiev, they do not recognize the legitimacy of the authorities in these republics, but do not doubt the legitimacy of the Kiev regime itself ,although it came to power via coup and terror. They try not to draw attention to these aspects of their position, but when asked point-blank, they explain that they disapprove of Kiev not for its goals, but for ineptitude in their realization. They denounce criminal Nazi methods used by the Kiev regime because they are technically ineffective and morally unattractive rather than because they are absolute wrong political and legally.

They are the ones that will never be Russians. They have no place in the Russian political and economic system. As “business leaders” they can only act when the law is subjugated to their desires. That is why the growth and reduction of their personal wealth, their financial wellbeing, has always depended on their access to power. That is why the higher was the position in power, the wealthier and more successful was the “businessman”, and the loss of power immediately resulted, if not in the total collapse of the business, but at least in serious difficulties. That is why right after the coup they did not lead the rebellion in their regions, but rushed to negotiate with the new power and to integrate into it. That is why they are still trying to convince Poroshenko that they would be of more use to him than his current hangers on.

They lose in a fair competition with the Russian business. They lose political competition. There is no room in the Russian government and legislature for the 2-3 thousand of Ukrainian politicians that rotated for 25 years as ministers and MPs.

They are (with few exceptions) incompetent, as compared to their Russian colleagues, even in governing their regions and cities. Any head of a Moscow or Saint-Petersburg subdivision or a mayor of a small city in Russia would be a more competent mayor of Kiev than Klitchko. In the Smolensk square (where the Russian foreign ministry is located – translator’s note) there are at least 400 potential foreign ministers of Ukraine. A sergeant on a Russian army base in Gyumri (a city in Armenia where a Russian military base is located – translator’s note) or in Tajikistan would be a better defense minister than all Ukrainian three- and four-star generals put together. A petty officer on the rocket cruiser “Moscow” would command all four Ukrainian battleships better than 13 admirals and generals of the Ukrainian Navy.

They amount to something only as representatives of the Ukrainian state. That is why their “Ukraineness” won’t go away. They will strive to preserve or restore the Ukrainian state at all costs regardless whether it is possible or makes sense. The state preserved or restored by them will always try to be a parasite on Russia. Simply because they cannot create and build. They only can steal and divide. Their state can only exist when the coffers they steal from are filled by someone else.

Their desire is to steal in Ukraine what was created or given by Russia and spend the spoils in Europe. They can’t and don’t want to live in any other way. That is why their “pro-Russian” position would always be that of a parasite, a consumer. They would try to look like Germans, French, or Swiss. “I would have never guessed you are a Ukrainian” – is for them the highest praise from a “civilized” white sahib.

Their “Ukraineness” has strong material basis, so it cannot go away. Having lost power, influence, access to unlimited resources, they would always be nostalgic for “glorious old times” dreaming of their return. Competitive people born in Kiev, Lvov, Chernigov, Kharkov, Odessa, and Zapozhie, just like those born in Novgorod, Tver, or Ekaterinburg, being Russian, have been serving Russia for centuries, giving it chancellors and ministers, field marshals and general secretaries of the Communist party, writers and poets. They don’t feel crowded in Moscow and did not feel crowded in imperial Saint-Petersburg.

Similarly, many less ambitious people honestly worked in Ukraine as physicians, teachers, workers, and scientists, like people who are just as Russian worked in Novosibirsk, Krasnodar, Voronezh, or Vologda. They did not think much about their chromosomes. Besides, in the wide spaces of Russia “from Warsaw to Japan and from White sea to Black sea” practically everyone had ancestors from different ethnic groups.

Motivated, incorrigible Ukrainians are not Nazis from volunteer battalions covered with tattoos, two thirds of which know no language except Russian. These guys, just like football fans, would follow any banner they are given to go drink beer and fight the fans of a different team. Nazis from volunteer battalions are mere storm troopers. Both Nazis and communists in Germany had their storm troopers. They fought in the streets before Hitler came to power, and then many ended up in the same SA units. Also, revolutionary sailors, who drowned officers of the imperial Navy in Kronshtadt were not Marxist theorists, never read the “The Capital” (the main oeuvre of Karl Marx – translator’s note), or the works of Lenin, Plehanov (a renowned Russian revolutionary, founder of the first worker’s party – translator’s note) or Martov (the leader of the Menshevik party – translator’s note). They did not care about the nuances of theoretical disagreement between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks (sections of the Russian Social Democratic Worker party. Names derived from “majority” (bolshinstvo) and “minority” (menshinstvo) of the votes the followers of Lenin (Bolsheviks) and Martov (Mensheviks) received at the 2nd Congress of the party in 1903 – translator’s note). Many, in fact, preferred anarchists.

A fighting force (storm troopers) can serve one power today and a different one tomorrow. They are always “for fairness”, but the idea of fairness is quite vague. Real implacable incorrigible “ideological fighters” always have material interests. Importantly, their pecuniary interest is primary. First, they get a chance to steal, and after a few years, former owners of fashionable jackets and thick gold chains, whose “theoretical” discussions were conducted exclusively with the help of automatic weapons, feel the need for ideological justification of their authority.

At that point the other part of the “national elite” makes its appearance, whose representatives will also never become Russians. Just like “opposition” politicians divided between Kiev and Moscow, but all dream of the restoration of a stable, organized pro-European Ukraine sucking blood from Russia, the “creative class” – journalists, experts, bloggers – also divided. In this case, also very few became Russians (these were the people who were Russians to begin with, who in Ukraine strived not to improve the Ukrainian state, but to restore the united one).

Experts and journalists supporting the “Opposition block”, various legal left-wing parties (like Volga’s) and other projects integrated into the system, are inseparably linked to the ideas of “Ukraineness”. Many sincerely believe that they can create the Ukrainian state “with human face”. This opinion is shared by Ukrainian jounalists, experts, and bloggers, who, after moving to Russia, refused on principle to get Russian citizenship and integrate into the Russian society. They dream of returning to Ukraine (liberated by somebody else) and of building there a sovereign, just, economically strong, politically influential, civilized Ukrainian state.

This is a delusion. Remember how humane was the Ukrainian state at the beginning of its sovereign history in December 1991. Even the fiercest nationalists did not want to be associated not only with Bandera (Stepan Bandera, leader of the organization of Ukrainian nationalists (OUN) implicated in genocide of Poles and Jews and collaboration with German Nazis during World War II – translator’s note), but even with Petlyura (Symon Petlyura, the head of the Directory of the Ukrainian People’s Republic in 1919-1920. Fought against Soviet Russian in alliance with the White Army, Germany, and Poland – translator’s note). Even “Ukrainian guerrilla” and “peasant leader” Makhno was considered only conditionally positive hero. In 2004, “banderovschina” was already flourishing as a political theory. Ukraine was torn apart by a cold civil war. On Maidan in 2013, it was gradually turning into a hot war, becoming a full-blown civil war in the Spring of 2014.

These people are not just honestly delusional. They serve that thieving financial and political elite that is the only beneficiary of the “sovereign Ukraine”. Their interests coincide. Former nouveau riche (who are not particularly intellectual) support the “ideologists” financially. They are not necessarily bought outright. That would be too expensive and pointless. They simply get jobs in the “right” mass media, under supervision of “right” editors; some are even used without being aware of it. Why pay, if someone works voluntarily (for ideas).

In the end, “ideologists”, partially out of ambitiousness (what ideologist is not ambitious?), partially out of desire to be valued (work for an oligarch, particularly oligarch-president, makes you special, serves as a recognition of your talents), partially out of pecuniary interests (oligarchs often pay well even for crazy and awkwardly formulated political ideas; nouveau riche often buy gutted sharks or smoked pig heads as modern art objects, and here is a whole political concept!) were tied to the concept of “Ukraineness”.

Just like their owners, the bankers, they cannot exist in any other mode. Their work is not only (and sometimes not very) lucrative, but it gives them respect. Self-importance is confirmed, if not by meetings with the powers that be, which talk with “ideologist” as equals, then by the feeling of their connection with global processes and even a chance to influence them (the most ambitious and insane even believe that they direct these processes). What can they do after that? Pave roads? Build houses? Teach math in schools? That’s like for an oligarch, who competes with his fellows via the length of yachts and the size of airplanes, to become a mere engineer with $2000 monthly salary. Prospects like this provoke suicides.

Therefore, in addition to the financial elite, who will never become Russian, because “Ukraineness” means for them wealth, their “creative” servants will never return to “Russianness” from “Ukraineness”. For the latter, this is even harder. The former lose the chance to increase their wealth, but can still maintain the lifestyle they are used to, without worries. For the latter the loss of “Ukraineness” is an intellectual catastrophe. The life is pointless. Everything was in vain. The ideas turned out to be wrong. Their realization is impossible. The opponents were right. The state of cognitive dissonance to the end of their life would be inevitable. Discomfort caused by the loss of the prospects of “Ukraineness” would generate hatred of everything Russian as the root cause of their own inadequacy.

This is the source of past and future myths about the great Ukrainian nation that a million years ago built a glorious civilization, but became a victim of Hungaro-Finnish “moskali” (this is how Ukrainian nationalists call Russians; the name derived from “Moscow” – translator’s note), who stole even the name “Russia” from Ukrainians. People do not forgive their own inadequacy (especially political inadequacy – political success is a very strong drug for many).

The worst is that with these (ostensibly Russian or pro-Russian) people we will have not only to live and cooperate, but always encounter their claim to be the only legitimate political representatives of the Ukrainian territories. Petty Nazis and serious war criminals among representatives of the current regime can be killed in warfare or jailed for their crimes. But these people not only won’t have their rights suspended – they will pretend to be heroes of the resistance.

Their tragedy and our problem is that restoration of Ukraine they want (like it was before the coup) is impossible. The Nazi regime not just used up but destroyed the material resources of the Ukrainian state. Now, for this state to remain, someone has to pay for its existence and restoration of its economy. Russia might invest into Russian Crimea and rapidly integrating into Russia DPR and LPR, but why should it invest into “Ukrainian pro-European” Ukraine?

Besides, the Nazi regime split the country into two parts, which can coexist only if one jails the other. If well-directed propaganda can still cure the majority of the population from “Ukraineness”, which daily and hourly transforms into Bandera ideology, the very fact of existence of the Ukrainian state would simply transform the civil war into a ceasefire before a new attempt at genocide.

The Nazi regime has successfully changed the attitude of Europe to Ukraine. Previously, Ukraine was not welcome, now it is actively not wanted. What’s more, because of this Nazi regime, which is relentlessly provoking a conflict between Russia and EU and blocking Russia-EU trade, economic and political power of EU is catastrophically reduced. Europe is forced to think not about Ukraine, but about avoiding its own catastrophe.

Finally, Russia was forced to restructure its economy, create numerous factories to replace Ukrainian imports, built gas pipes bypassing Ukraine. Now it is against its interests to restore Ukrainian competition that would fight not just for the same markets – but for the internal Russian market.

Finally, Russia cannot completely legalize territorial changes without liquidation of the Ukrainian state. Creating a new one in its place (a priori anti-Russian, only possibly better hiding this animosity) would cost a lot, and makes no sense (at least, not at Russia’s expense).

The net result is that now among Ukrainian-leaning opposition of the current regime in Kiev, as well as among expat Ukrainian-leaning community in Moscow, Russia does not have allies, only very unreliable fellow-travelers, who are ready to betray at any moment they see as opportune, and betray for a pittance (like Kuchma or Yanukovych).

Therefore, we must recognize the fact that in Ukraine as well as outside of it there are very few sane politicians and ideologists we can work with, and most of them consider themselves Russian and do not separate their interests and the interests of their country from the interests of Russia as our common country. The majority, on the other hand, will never be Russians, and, therefore, will never be reliable partners; they will always be interested only in grabbing as their property as big a piece of Russia as possible.

If we want to succeed, we have to reach and reprogram the people of Ukraine over the head of these politicians and in spite of their resistance. This resistance would be strong – much stronger than the hypothetical resistance of the Ukrainian army. Today they control virtually all mass media in Ukraine. They control 99% of the information space. With the change of regime in Ukraine, their information policy won’t change, except that it might become more sophisticated, more professional, and, therefore, more dangerous.

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