Four myths: Russian government claims about the Ukraine and elsewhere

Date: 
09/22/2014
RussianSold

Russian servicemen in armoured personnel carriers on the outskirts of Belgorod near the Russian-Ukrainian border April 25, 2014. Photo by REUTERS/Alexander Mikhailov

Since the start of the Kremlin’s campaign to take over Crimea in March, there have been false myths generated and broadcast by the Russian propaganda organization to give Putin the “license” to torment Ukraine and many other countries. 

The first myth: depicts Crimea and Eastern Ukraine as essentially Russian by language and culture.

The Kremlin disseminates the false notion that the 9th century cradle of Slavic empire of Kyivan Rus was Russian from its very origin. Fact: Russia did not come to exist until the 12th century. 

In the 2001 census we find that out of Ukraine’s 24 regions, only the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts (regions) had populations where Russian speakers totaled more than 50 percent. But, these statistics fail to point out that in former Soviet countries; Russian was forced down the throats of the people as the only administrative language with draconian penalties when not obeyed. Therefore, a Russian speaker in a former Soviet satellite country is not necessarily an ethnic Russian. (Please note that the proper spelling and pronunciation of Ukraine’s capital is “Kyiv”, not the Russian “Kiev”.)

The second myth: advances the notion that ever since the Euromaidan revolution toppled the pro-Russian Yanukovich government in Kyiv, Eastern Ukrainians have been calling the Kremlin for protection from the dully elected pro-Western new government.

Fact: While this notion was widely disseminated by the Russian propaganda organization, the Gallup Organization conducted polls in Ukraine in April 2014. They found that only 8 percent of the population in Eastern Ukraine responded "definitely yes" to wanting protection by the Russian army. In contrast, 52 percent responded "definitely no."

Grave

Grave in Vybuty public cemetery, Pskov region of northwest Russia believed to hold body of a Russian paratrooper killed fighting alongside rebels in Ukraine. August 27, 2014, photo by REUTERS/Dmitry Markov

The third myth: frequent reference to militias in Ukraine’s Donbas and Luhansk regions as local “separatists.”

Fact: This is highly controversial and obscures the fact these “separatists” are largely composed of Russian special-forces, former Russian soldiers (on contract), non-Ukrainian Cossack forces, Chechen militias and local mercenaries (soldiers of fortune).

The use of the term “separatists” by foreign governments and Western media supports the Kremlin’s strategy to deny any Russian participation and meddling while characterizing the war as a conflict between Kyiv and a group of local, homegrown rebels.

There are articles and chronicles by foreign reporters that note the number of actual Russian soldiers “killed in action” (KIA) in Ukraine, numbering over three thousand, are supposedly stationed in other locations. The Russian government is secretly burying them, trying desperately to hide the fact of Russian invasion in Ukraine. This is much to the dismay of their parents, family, wives and friends. 

The fourth myth: proposes that the new Ukrainian government consists of “fascists” that terrorize the Russian speaking people of Eastern Ukraine.

Fact: This empowers the Russian government to act as “anti-fascists” saviors going to the aid of downtrodden Russian populations anywhere in the former Soviet Union.

The truth is that present-day Russian action is nothing more than a nationalist/chauvinistic knee-jerk reaction to their loss of prestige, control and power. It has been acknowledged by the free world as having nothing to do with democratic principles, respect for international law and the protection of human rights.

On the contrary, it is the expression of a jingoist, Russian flag-waiving, centuries old nationalist attitude, which in fact comes close to be a modern variant of fascism itself.

Agnia Grigas and Marcel Van Herpen in their Forbes September 17, 2014 article explain this attitude: “It is, therefore, no coincidence and has been well documented that Putin’s friends in Europe can be found in particular in neo-fascist and extreme right parties. It is important to debunk all these myths and in particular this final, most sinister myth of Russian 'anti-fascism' and call Putin’s regime what it is: ultranationalist, populist, nativist, and directly opposed to liberal democracy. Or put another way: neo-fascist.”

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