Archive for March 2015
On March 10, Fyodor Mozgovoy – who commands LNR’s ‘Phantom’ unit and enjoys a cult status among Russian volunteers fighting on the rebel side in Ukraine – made a remarkable statement. Asked about fascism in Ukraine, he said:
“My dears, there is no fascism. The anti-fascist movement is… Well, it’s like with computers, understand? There virus and there is antivirus. The Virus is created by the same person who creates the anti-virus. It’s all business, pure business. You can create a surge and then create a counter-surge. You gain from the both”.
I think it’s a great metaphor because it worked so well a year ago.
I the wee hours on February 23, 2014 Putin told his entourage it was time to “return” Crimea. The operation began.
Later on that day the ultra-nationalist Svoboda party managed to convince the Ukrainian parliament to vote for the annulment of a law that gave a special status to regional languages, of which the by far most important is Russian.
The next day the self-proclaimed “social-nationalist” Ihor Mosiychuk, now an MP, threatened to send right-wing militants to pacify the restive Sevastopol in what he called a “friendship train” – a reference to a similar action in 1992.
The decision on the language law hasn’t been approved by the acting presented Oleksandr Tourchinov (neither it has been annulled), while the “friendship train” never materialized. But these two acts provided crucial ammunition for Kremlin’s propaganda. Within hours, both stories became viral in the offline world of ordinary Russian-speakers in Crimea and Donbass. They can certainly be blamed for their susceptibility to manipulation. But the result was achieved.
Participants in the large rally held in Sevastopol at the time, were telling me there was no thought about rising up against Ukraine until the news broke about the law and Mosiychuk’s threat. Talk to anyone in Crimea now – they will say nothing would have happened without these acts.
Like two brilliant strikers who have played on the same team forever, the Kremlin and the radical Ukrainian nationalists cut through the thin defence at a lightning speed and scored. It was the culmination of a long lasting partnership, or rather symbiosis. Like between a virus and an antivirus.