Ukraine: Outrage and Double Standards
Published: August 6, 2014 (Issue # 1823)
A dangerous polarization of opinion between Russia and the West developed during the early months of the Ukraine crisis, creating a growing gulf between Russians and many parts of the outside world.
This polarization has reached a new level of rhetoric and hysteria with the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. Many Russians — regardless of whether they have been supporters or opponents of Vladimir Putin — have come to believe the tragedy, and the bodies of its victims, are being used to whip up a hatred that threatens all of them.
They compare this atmosphere to the deafening silence that greeted Russia’s repeated pleas for an international investigation of the May 2 massacre in Odessa. Dozens of pro-Russian protesters were burned alive when the building in which they had taken refuge from pro-Ukrainian gangs was set on fire. According to a New York Times account confirmed by witnesses from both sides, as the flames engulfed the building “Ukrainian activists sang the Ukrainian national anthem. They also hurled a new taunt: ‘Colorado’ for the Colorado potato beetle, striped red and black like the pro-Russian ribbons. Those outside chanted ‘burn Colorado, burn.’”
Alarmingly, the exact number of casualties still has not been established, and there is no international effort to find the truth.
If Western news organizations declare that it’s their policy to expose the shameful facts of ethnic hatred or the abuse of human rights, they should do so without fear or favor, regardless of the nationalities involved.
It is easy to dismiss calls to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine as Kremlin propaganda. Europe has already paid a high price for its limp response earlier this year to the escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine between government forces and the pro-Russian rebels. Russia’s complaints about rampant Ukrainian nationalism and violations of the rights of ethnic Russians were at first largely ignored in the West, as if they were a total fabrication.
But from the Ukrainian parliament’s move in February — blocked by the president — to repeal a law giving the Russian language official status in some regions, to Ukrainian nationalists singing anti-Russian chants as pro-Russian activists were being burnt alive in Odessa, clearly the claims were serious.
Several Russian journalists, including reporters from Russia’s Zvezda TV, were captured by Ukrainian forces, and three Russian journalists were killed when covering the conflict in Ukraine. Some Russian sources maintain the Ukrainian army was responsible.
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