Something topical …


The disturbing thing of course is the way Westerners have acted with so little demonstration of understanding of what Crimea means to Russia. If they have not read Pushkin’s “Bakhchisarayskiy Fontan” in the original or Lermontov’s “Hero of our Times” then they will never understand why Crimea simply cannot be given up by Russians to a regime that outlaws the use of use of the Russian language.

We could as soon tolerate in London a bunch of Muslims telling us that English wouldn’t be allowed in Bloomsbury anymore, the home of so much of the English literary culture. Western politicians haven’t even taken this into account.

V. D. Huliganov

Posted on 16/03/2014, in Blog only and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Dear Mr Victor D. Huliganov,

    Thank you for opening this discussion. In my view, the situation is very complex, and I would like to pose some questions, with no easy answers:

    1. Poland has cultural and historical roots and links related to Lvov (now Lviv, Ukraine), just to mention the University of Lvov, the Ossolineum Institute, our poets Aleksander Fredro, Maria Konopnicka, and many others. The city was incorporated to USRR by Stalin’s decision and the Polish inhabitants were expelled to the west except for very few remaining Poles. Now, imagine that the Ukrainian government suddenly introduces some anti-Polish laws. Does it mean we should now claim Lvov to be returned to Poland, after 70 years? Does it mean we should send some soldiers in unidentified uniforms to organize anti-ukrainian insurrections in the area of Lvov?

    2. I understand that Ukraine has litlle, if any, historical relation to Crimea. Perhaps, it was a mistake of Khrushchev to transfer Crimea from the Russian to the Ukrainian SSR. However, Szczecin (Stettin) has also minimal historical relation to Poland, and Kaliningrad (Koenigsberg) had no relation to Russia prior to 1945. What would happen if Germany would now claim Poland for Stettin or Russia for Koenigsberg?

    3. It seems that Russia has a better attitute to Janukovych than to the new Ukrainian government (calling it ‘fascists’). Why? Janukovych should be imprisoned, not protected. Have you seen what kind of ‘politician’ Janukovych was? Have you seen his luxurious residence? Did the Ukrainian people had no right to fight against this corrupted mafia? (Yes, I know the Ukrainian poeple was financially supported by the US). I know there is no good Obama, and bad Putin, nor vice versa. There is a hard conflict of interests, I know it. I would not like to support the US here. I am interested in finding the historical truth by discussion with you.

    4. During the Soviet era, many Ukrainians, Estonians, Latvians, etc. were sent to Siberia, to Gulags, many died there. (There was no justice for the crimes of NKVD, of the communist regime, who took millions of victims.) In replacement, ethnic Russians were sent to Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia. I absolutely aggree that from the democratic point of view, today Russians outside of Russia should have right to the Russian language, education, etc. It is to discuss whether Russian should be an official language in these countries. Remember we are speaking about young countries, who suffered many years under Russian domination. Is it not true?

    I would be very glad to know your point of view related to my very critical points,
    Anyway, I would like to congratulate you on this webpage and on excellent Russian courses.

    Wojciech Kostowski,Gliwice, Poland

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    • Dear Mr Kostowski,

      Allow me to answer your questions in the order in which you have posed them.

      1) Your use of Lvov is comparison to the Crimean situation seems to me to be deeply flawed. In short, if you were to have a referendum in Lvov today asking how many of those people would like the region to be included inside a Polish territory, instead of 95% (as in the case of Crimea joining Russia) you would be lucky to get 5%.

      There is of course a very good reason for this, namely that the people who currently inhabit Lvov certainly as far as the city itself is concerned, are not the same people as the ones who were inhabiting it at the end of the Second World War, neither are they in the main descendants of those people. Under the terms agreed by the various powers which defeated Hitler, Poland’s territory moved west. Poland does not come to that Lvov argument with clean hands because Poland ethnically cleansed Wroclaw sending its old inhabitants wholesale back to Germany and replacing them with the previous inhabitants of, guess where? yes, Lvov.

      In other words you don’t have the Lvov because you have another place instead. There’s no reason to expect to be given back Lvov unless you are willing to give up Wroclaw. And then you will have to work out what to do with the people who are now in Lvov. This is totally dissimilar to the situation in Crimea. I’m surprised that an intelligent person would see any similarity at all.

      2) When you’re talking about Szczecin, once again you’re talking about the agreed movement of Poland’s territory in a westerly direction, obtaining some territory previously from Germany, the losers in the Second World War, and giving some territory to the winners, namely the Soviet Union, without whose immense sacrifice we would not have beaten Hitler and Poland together with the whole Slavic population would have been genocided according to the model applied to the old Prussians and which was also attempted in Namibia. Maybe you do not remember, but back in 1991 Poland was at pains to obtain from Germany assurances that they would not seek to recover any of their former territory from Poland. Germany gave these assurances, and in turn Poland gave assurances that they would not be seeking to recover any of their former territory from former Soviet states. You are however incorrect in saying that Szczecin has a minimal historical connection to Poland. There have been west Slavonic tribes all over that part of Germany for most of the mediaeval period. It is also situated next to the estuary of the Oder river, a place well suited to being the boundary between two countries.

      Of course once we are all inside of the European Union, all of this becomes a different game: we all belong to each other anyway and therefore the way to get back to the things we had before is by business and investment. Therefore it’s no coincidence places like Katowice, Wroclaw, and Szczecin became prime objects of investment by German groups throughout the 1990s. I remember this well because I was helping them to come in, and they were very welcomed by Polish people as they came bringing jobs and investment. Poland has in mind now to do the same in Ukraine and that is why the voice of Polish politicians, people like Donald Tusk and Radek Sikorski is consistently in favour of sponsoring the Ukrainian entry into the European Union. Not only in the present debacle is Poland firmly on the side of the Europeanizers in Kiev be they right or wrong, but also prior to that Poland insisted on partnering with Ukraine for the 2012 UEFA cup. And prior to that, Poland gave 12 points to Ruslana when she won the Eurovision Song contest for Ukraine. Poland has been utterly charming to those elements of Ukrainian politics which is wished to pull the country to the West and away from Russia, and the reason why of course is that Poland has wished to do unto Ukraine that which Germany did unto them. That is peacefully to reclaim territory using economic means rather than military ones. I suppose it is fully understandable, but let’s call a spade a spade.

      3) There was a lot of hype in the media about the luxury of Janukovich’s residence. Anybody would think to listen to the BBC and the Polish news coverage, that he had plundered his country after the manner of an African leader, or of Saddam Hussein, with mind-boggling riches accrued unto himself. However, when I actually reviewed a photo album in the daily Telegraph showing this piece of fantastic real estate I was quite surprised to see a property probably less valuable than that of David and Victoria Beckham, and quite frankly I don’t understand why the head of state should necessarily need to live in worse conditions than a footballer. A lot of fuss was made out of the fact that he owned an ostrich. In fact quite a lot of people own ostriches — farming ostriches for meat became quite popular a few years ago and you don’t have to be a startlingly rich person to own an ostrich or llama or any of these farm animals which are occasionally found around Europe. You will forgive me saying so I hope, but as a professional in the areas of accountancy and audit, I have a pretty good idea of what these things are worth and what people are usually able to buy when they’ve been successful in for example quite ordinary businesses. Among my clients are numerous people who live better than the elected president of Ukraine who as far as we know never made a great secret of his way of life despite being accountable to the ballot box. Could he have been corrupt? More than likely, yes. But the degree to which he had enriched himself is probably nowhere near what the hype has made us believe.

      Consider Lech Walesa’s home in Gdansk – this is also beyond the means of a simple electrician. Nobody begrudges him it, least of all me. Janukovych is a man who was voted out of office in the Orange Revolution in 2004 and voted back in and Timoshenko and Yushchenko voted out that had been so popular in 2004 and people didn’t want them in 2008. But that ballot box was not OK for those who supported their politics – they decided to achieve by anarchy what would have not been possible at the ballot box. Had it been possible to oust Yanukovitch at the ballot box, surely they would have done so, the time for it was drawing close. Amazingly, leading democracies who would never accept this behaviour at home ratified this awful behaviour creating the most dangerous precedents for the coming politics of Europe and America and of course all this in preparation for the rise of Antichrist.

      4) in this fourth point I have to remind you about the same things that I often need to say to Polish people namely that the confusion of the Soviet Union and Russia is not always helpful. We are free because of the deaths of some 12 million Soviet people during the war and a further 12 million approximately Russian people were murdered in Stalin’s purges during the remainder of his career. The worst excesses made against Polish people, Estonians, Latvians, etc were made by a Georgian, Joseph Stalin someone responsible for the deaths of more Russian people than Hitler was, and a person still venerated in Tbilisi. Strangely the Polish leadership at the time regarded Georgia as being on the receiving end of aggression from Russia when Russia sought to right a wrong relating to Abkhazia and North Ossetia again caused by Stalin who was very happy to receive into the Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia those formerly Russian areas that had fleed to Georgia in order to escape Bolshevism in the early 1920s. They were so anxious to see the Russians as the villains in all of this that they regarded Sakashvili, a total psychopath noted for eating his own tie on film and punching his own Prime Minister in the face, as their big buddy. As indeed did the Americans until the excesses of Sakashvili made this obviously a bad choice, at which point the media stopped reporting on Georgia altogether. This is probably what will happen with regard to the new Ukrainian government once it finally filters through how many undesirable types are involved in it. They have a smart looking front man in Arsen Yatseniuk, but behind him there are all sorts of characters, a real political mixed bag, and yes the worst kind of anti-Semitism and fascism is included in that mixed bag.

      Let’s not forget it was Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian himself, who made the decision to present Russia’s Crimea to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic as a kind of chocolate box, with the people inside it, Soviet citizens at the time but of Russian nationality, in the character of the individual chocolates. They had as much say in their destiny as a fondant cream or a truffle has in who buys the box from a shop. Leonid Brezhnev, another Ukrainian, spent the 17 years of his presidency of the Soviet Union, intentionally not changing the status quo with regard to Crimea, for obvious reasons. If we scroll ahead of little bit to 1991, many things were going on at that time and in all of the chaos the inhabitants of the chocolate box remained unconsulted about their choice of destiny and identity. Through a period of 24 years in which for most of the time the people in charge of Ukraine simply left Crimea entirely alone (a situation which accounts for why the Crimean Tatars preferred them to the idea of Russian rule) and where Ukraine was simply a close friend of Russia, there was no real need to address the problem and right the wrong which had taken place in 1954. However when a coup took place in Kyiv, and a russophobic government took power, ousting the democratically elected leader, and being recognised mysteriously without any reliable measurement of whether was a reflection of truly popular opinion by the EU and US, it was absolutely expedient for Russia to move quickly. However Russia moved by demonstrating that the majority of people living in Crimea did wish to become Russian citizens and have their land reclassified as Russian territory. Russia has been at pains to correct this wrong while maintaining the opportunity for all Ukrainian servicemen and women stationed in Crimea to accept the new status quo and join, or if their loyalty is with Kyiv then to return to their country of origin peacefully.

      I don’t even want to get into the list of precedents there have been in the history of the last 50 years in which the intention of the people concerned, by which I mean the residence of the land has been far less clear, and where the force involved has been far less controlled. The one that is maybe closest to my mind is the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, in which personal friends of mine were displaced while they were babies, losing their homes, not even being given the option of becoming Turks, and where no Turkish people were actually waiting for liberation in the area they invaded. Don’t get me wrong – I find the Turks as a people, their language, their cuisine, their culture, you name it, all very fascinating and attractive but I can’t help but wonder why everyone is queueing up to slap sanctions on Russia for what is happening in Crimea and at the same time been very nice to Ankara and paving the way for their entry to the European Union. The remaining Greek Cypriots are under continual attack from the same kind of people who are sitting around drinking mineral water and wondering what they can do next to upset the Russians for reclaiming territory that never should have been given away in the first place.

      With regard to the claim that has been made that the Ukraine did all the investment into Crimea and that it was empty when it was handed over in 1954, may I just remind you of one example that will show you how far this is from the truth. When Stalin invited the axis powers to come and discuss the new status quo at the end of the war inside the Soviet Union’s territory, he chose Yalta because it was one of the nicest places, one of the most representative areas that he could have invited them to. And now compare that to Yalta the way it looks now after so many years of Ukrainian “investment” and you will understand why I take their comments in the media with more than a pinch of salt.

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  2. Thank you for posting an “insiders” view of this complicated situation. You are correct that Westerners do not, in general, understand the issues between nations and regions and cultures that are deeply rooted and expressed in literature that is unknown (to us.) For this reason ( and many others …) we are viewed as ignorant bullies, pressing in where we haven’t been invited. Making assumptions about what is what based on our own worldview. Such a pity. Even in what we might truly believe to be for the greater good or in the best interests of the majority, we fail to consider the validity of history – of times when the divisions we call boundaries were very fluid and this fact was not outside the norm. We lack the perspective. Again, thank you for improving this shortcoming of ours.

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  3. negocio@seznam.cz

    Dear David, 

    1.  No one has outlawed the Russian language .  There was a rather stupid proposal to have only one official language,  Ukrainian, in  Ukraine. 

         That was vetoed by the acting president. Thus that is a non-issue. 

    2.  Crimea came into the Russian Empire during Catherine the Great’s time and was primarily populated by Tartars.  This is not a traditional 

         Russian territory like Novgorod, Moscow or St. Petersburg.  Stalin deported the entire population of Tatars from the Crimea in 1944 to 

         Soviet Central Asia .  Nearly half of them died. 

    3.  The large ethnic Russian population is a result of ethnic cleansing like we saw in India and Pakistan following partition and independence.  

    4.  There was no upset or anything in 1954 when the Supreme Soviet transferred the Crimea to Ukraine. It made and still makes administrative

         sense.  Nearly all of the electricity and drinking water comes from mainland Ukraine.  All transportation links during the Tsarist and 

         subsequent Soviet period flow from the Crimea direct to Ukraine.  It is awkward to go directly from Crimea via Kerch to Novorossisk. 

    5.  Poetry and literature do not determine borders. 

    6.  There is no evidence that the Russian population which is 58% of the population was mistreated or abused in Crimea. 

    7.  A survey five years ago or so in Crimea had only 40% of the population opting for annexation to Russia. 

    This is an artificially contrived issue by Mr. Putin in response to losing his vassal Mr. Yanukovich.  If the Russians in Crimea really do desire to 

    pull out of Ukraine then they ought to wait until the elections are held in May and try to elect as many like minded people to go and represent themselves in Parliament.   There is a process to go through just like Scotland is doing now or Quebec has done in the past.  You don’t do it at the point of a gun and hold a snap election where only the Russians look to be voting. 

    I am sorry that I cannot agree with you on this one. 

    Cheers. 

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    • Dear “Mr(?) Negocio”<

      Allow me to answer your comments number by number as you set them.

      1) At the time when the Russians acted, there had been legislative movement to ban Russian and only retain Ukrainian through the entire country, including places were those preferring to use Russian are in a clear majority. To enforce the use of a particular language in the dealings with state which is not the language of choice of the majority of people in an area is undemocratic in the extreme, there is no excuse for it in the 21st Century, and that the current unelected President has now recalled it is too little too late. Where's the apology?

      2) Tatars are a Central Asian people who replaced Greeks and Goths in that region when they came. They had their time before the Russian power came but they were also not the original inhabitants. I'm so sorry for what Stalin did but, not being Georgian, it is not for me to apologise for it. What he did to the Russians was also not great and he killed far more Russians than Tatars. Still everybody takes it that the Georgians are the good guys now and sides with them against Russia over the not dissimilar cases of Abkhazia and North Ossetia, even making a good guy out of that galstukoyed Sakashvili, that prime-ministerial face-punching lunatic. There were also numerous other nationalities on Crimea and some of them are still there. Their chances to live peacefully are higher under Russia's federalist approach than the nationalist approach offered by Ukraine.

      3) Russians have been the predominant population of Crimea for a lot longer than 1944. Even the Crimean war 100 years before that was about trying to get the Russians out of Crimea.

      4) There was no upset in 1954 because Nikita Khruschev was in charge and he was a Ukrainian. Létat c'etait lui and he was quite happy about enlarging Ukraine. Also as Ukraine wasn't actually a country it didn't matter. Sosnowiec has to put up with being in Silesia, and does so while Silesia is just a district of Poland, but if Silesia actually started being another country then Sosnowiec and Zawiercie would probably feel rather more put out about it.

      5) Culture does play a role in determining borders. It is not the only thing but it is a thing, and also I was saying that because the Westdo not understand Russian culture they cannot guage what Russia feels about Crimea, and the strength of that feeling.

      6) Why does something need to happen before we see a risk of it happening? Already YouTube is filling up with videos showing how Ukie Ukrainians are treating Russophone Ukrainians. Now we at least have this democratoc tool that ordinary people can record things that are going on on their smartphones and make sure the world sees.

      7) Surveys are not the same as referenda. The international community was invited to observe this referendum, they themselves decided not to. They can hardly now say that they have any objections to how it was carried out.

      There is a time to act and a time to delay. Russia acted while it could to right a wrong that should have been righted in 1991.

      You are welcome to disagree and I am happy that you have been respectful about it unlike the person I am going to have to answer in a moment.

      Best regards,

      David J. James

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  4. Victor, can you clarify who you mean when you say “Westeners” exactly? Please be specific. Do you still consider yourself as a Westener now? Also, I think you are justifying modern day violence based on history (books or no books, the history here is just a collection of violent stories in a given territory)…..similarly many “Western” nations e.g the UK have enforced language restrictions in non-UK territories in the past for the same power reasons and it wasn’t right then and it isn’t right now (Ukraine included). I want to ask if you are from London or how long has it been since you lived in London? Are you claiming ownership of London despite living in Poland? How long have you lived in Poland? I’m making these points so that you will be more open to equality and realise that you were only born in the UK because your parents chose to have you born there. You are a FOREIGNER in Poland but you still behave as if you are living in the UK? You could just have easily been born in Ukraine or any Muslim country. Attacking Ukraine, non-westerners, Muslims and anybody else to vent your fears is not an admirable trait…who is it next? Think before you speak….

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    • How about you thinking before leaving a stream of irrelevant and incoherent argument on my page? You’re welcome to do so, of course, but you have to reckon with the likelihood that I will dissect it. Probably you did reckon with that, and preferred to remain anonymous…

      When I say “Westerners”in this context, I am not referring to private individuals who live in whatever country they choose. They are not the recipients of criticism because they are private individuals going about their business and there is no reason why they should know anything about Russia or its history and culture if they don’t have much by way of contact with the country.

      By “westerners” I refer to the people representing government views in the EU and in the US. I am not even including Switzerland and Japan, who have said as little in all of this as they can get away with, although they also are part of the “western”economic scheme of things.

      That’s what I mean when I say “Westerners have acted”. I’m not referring to the guy who works in Pizza Hut – he hasn’t acted. I’m referring to high ranking ministers and their advisers. These people should know a lot more before acting in the way that they have acted, namely in accepting a violent coup as a valid way of establishing a government, and not only that but also refusing to allow the alternative, which is to vote. Since these people all claim to be representing democracies (even though people like Van Rompuy and Catherine Ashton hold office which we never got to elect them to in a way with less regard for democracy than the worst moments of the Soviet Union which at least paid lip service to elections even if there was only one party) this is truly a double standard and extrememly worrying, but not as worrying in fact as the way ordinary people seem to be brainwashed by their mainstream media into believing that they know what they are doing and they are doing the right thing.

      Let’s continue through your message. You ask whether I consider myself a Westerner now – I am not a minister of state or any of the many behind the scenes people and I am not a freemason, and I do not include myself as one of the elite controlling what the west is doing namely steering the world into a New World Order. I do not consider myself part of that protest indeed I consider myself a resistor of that process.

      I am also not the one who is accepting violence. The new masters of Kyiv got there by violence and not by the ballot box and the leaders of western countries have ratified them. Russia has tried to minimise the use of force in its reaction.

      I don’t own any of London now, I lost what part of London I owned during the divorce to my first wife. I do however own part of Warsaw and also I am not a foreigner in Warsaw as I am told that I have a European Union passport which looks pretty much like the one Poles have and I have all the same rights as them, just as you, sitting there in Manschester on your Talktalk server could be Polish but you would not be a foreigner in terms of law in the UK, but would have the same laws as local people. That was the European dream as it was promised us all and that is what the Poles signed up to so now they have to accept it.

      I actually now live more in Moscow than in Poland but I don’t own land there and I know that as far as Russia is concerned I am a guest and a foreigner, but they don’t make me feel like one any more than the Poles do. I guess that is a function of being able to speak multiple languages, but it is also a reflection of the changing and open nature of Russia these days, despite the scant encouragement they ever received from the West to open up.

      I also don’t have anything against Muslims as individuals. I love them and wish that they would believe in something that made spiritual sense. The deen they follow, however, is one thoroughly contaminated by Satan and it is a saviourless, hopeless faith. It is a great waste of the lovely souls who are trapped in it. My differences with Islam are theological ones and not a question of me resenting anything to the lovely people of the Arabian, Turkic, Persian and other language groups all of whom I find fascinating and utterly charming in the main.

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