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Ukraine: Outrage and Double Standards

Published: August 6, 2014 (Issue # 1823)



  • A makeshift memorial to the victims of the May 2 fire in Odessa, which left more than 40 people dead.
    Photo: Vadim Ghirda / AP

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 Russias 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 its 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. Russias 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 parliaments 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 Russias 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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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Monday, Oct. 20


Amateur pictures from World War I are on display for only one more day at Rosphotos exhibition On Both Sides, chronicling the conflict through the eyes of observers on both sides of the trenches. The price of entrance to the exhibition is 100 rubles ($2.50).



Tuesday, Oct. 21


The Environment, Health and Safety Committee of AmCham convenes this morning at 9 a.m. in the organizations office.


Take the chance to pick the brains of Dmitry V. Krivenok, the deputy director of the Economic Development Agency of the Leningrad region, and Mikhail D. Sergeev, the head of the Investment Projects Department, during the meeting with them this morning hosted by SPIBA. RSVP for the event by emailing office@spiba.ru before Oct. 17 if you wish to attend.


Improve your English at Interactive English, the British Book Centers series of lessons on vocabulary and grammar in an informal atmosphere. Starting at 6 p.m., each month draws attention to different topics in English, with the topic for this months lessons being visual arts.



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