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Kiev Must Show Compassion to Eastern Ukraine

Published: August 20, 2014 (Issue # 1825)


Its acliche topoint out that objectivity andcommon sense are among thefirst casualties ofarmed conflict but its important tonote that compassion often follows suit as well.

Today, thelack ofcompassion exemplified byresidents ofboth Moscow andKiev over theconflict ineastern Ukraine andthe future ofUkraine as awhole ought togive us serious pause.

Far beyond abstract politics, theissue ofvery real, very serious hatred between two brotherly nations should concern everyone today, particularly those who dont want tosee further instability onEuropean soil.

InMoscow, Ive grown tired ofexplaining that just because Im critical ofcurrent Russian policy onUkraine doesnt mean Im into Nazism. Ive similarly grown tired ofpointing out that backing separatists inUkraine whether unofficially or officially may backfire onRussia inthe worst possible way, as regional destabilization triggers greater destabilization over time.

But ina similar vein, pointing out thehorror ofcivilian casualties ineastern Ukraine toKiev residents often results inderision anddownright hostility. Maybe these people should have thought about theconsequences before siding with Russian-backed terrorists, is arefrain one hears too often inKiev these days.

Tobe certain, it makes sense forKievans tobe angry. While theWest andRussia continue their stand off over Ukraine, thecountry itself faces anincreasingly uncertain future.

Thestate ofthe economy is dire. Ukraines already unstable social andpolitical environment may worsen when thearmys battle with theseparatists is over andthe boys come home fromwar. It certainly doesnt help that thefar-right volunteer battalions fighting ineastern Ukraine may want toplay apart inpostwar politics.

Meanwhile, awar still rages ineastern Ukraine.Among Maidan supporters inKiev, plenty have friends who are now inthe armed forces deployed ineastern Ukraine. Some talk about friends they have lost inbattle. It makes sense tobe angry when some 19-year-old kid you knew will never come home again.

It equally makes sense tobe angry that, inaddition toviolence inKiev last winter, locals had todeal with everything fromthe humiliating loss ofCrimea toincreasingly desperate-seeming brawls inthe parliament.

Tobe fair, theparliament did manage topass animportant lustration bill inits first reading last week, although one has towonder whether theeventual law will be properly enforced.

Yet despite thepain ofKievs residents, civilians ineastern Ukraine have emerged as themost vulnerable parties inthe entire horrid mess that is theUkraine crisis so far.

It is sad andtelling that thenew Ukrainian government was said tohave put together anaid convoy forthe Donbass region only after theRussians had done thesame. It makes Kievs move seem like aPR stunt andbrings home thefact that civilians ineastern Ukraine have apparently been largely off-the-radar as far as theauthorities are concerned.

Thebickering over theconvoy drives home thepoint, though, that what were seeing inUkraine right now is not just alocal conflict involving some international players. It is also avicious cycle being simultaneously experienced bytwo societies both Russian andUkrainian that are growing inured tothe idea ofdestruction anddeath ontheir doorstep.

Andthe less sympathy andsupport that eastern residents get fromKiev, theless they are going tocare about thewhole notion ofa sovereign Ukraine.

Natalia Antonova is anAmerican playwright andjournalist.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburgs showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the teams website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literatures most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poets birthday. The tragic tenors work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russias greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Centers Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test ones intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only mans best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during todays reenactment titled Winter War: How it Was. More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie Black Cat, White Cat, as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of Takoy Festival, a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonights festival finale is Fathers and Sons, a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenevs classic about familial relations.



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