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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

Wednesday, Sept. 17


AmChams Investment and Legal Committee Meeting convenes this morning in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center at 9 a.m.


Learn more about the science of teaching English at todays EFL Seminar hosted by the British Book Center. Revolving around the topic of learning styles, the workshop will help attendees better understand the different effective learning methods that can be implemented to learn English more effectively.



Thursday, Sept. 18


Get your nerd on at Boomfest, St. Petersburgs answer to the United States popular ComicCon. Starting today, this international festival of comics will take over venues throughout the city center and includes exhibitions of comics and illustrations, film screenings, competitions and the chance to meet the genres authors, artists and experts.



Friday, Sept. 19


SPIBAs newest addition to their Cultural Discoveries events is Handmade in Germany, an exhibition featuring unique handmade objects of a significantly higher quality than mass-produced items. The work of over 100 German manufacturers will be displayed during the event, which opens today in the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Paul on Nevsky Prospekt and runs through Sept. 28.



Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during todays Djembe and Vuvuzela, a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of todays round table discussion on Interaction with Trade Unions being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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