Archive for June 2016
Did you notice how all of us living OUTSIDE Britain were genuinely worried about the outcome of the British referendum? Like it is our domestic issue.
That’s because it is. Europe is our home. The outcome is a huge blow for all pro-European forces inside and outside the EU. It is a victory for the fledgling Nationalist International – a huge and powerful global coalition that unites Nigel Farage and Donald Trump, West European far-right and far-left populist demagogues, East European nationalists and last but not least – Vladimir Putin’s regime in Russia that made its own contribution to making Brexit happen.
But it’s great that we see it as a common issue. It is time to rise to the next level and engage in pan-European political battle against archaic politics that nurtures divisions, jingoism, corruption and wars.
The liberal discourse in Europe has been poisoned by nationalism for decades. That happened because progressive politicians in the 19th and 20th century used nationalism as a tool of political mobilization in their fight for human rights, equal representation and against the oppression of archaic empires.
But on its own, nationalism is an ideology of regress that strives to take the world back to tribalism, patrimonialism and anti-meritocracy. It is the ideology of us against them, of always supporting your country and your kin, even if their actions are vile and immoral.
The division of Europe into ethnocratic nation states is unnatural. It is only the Holocaust coupled with post-WWII deportations that turned countries like Poland and Czech Republic into monoethnic and mono-religious states. But is Poland better without Jews, Germans and Ukrainians? Is Czech-only Prague better? It the multicultural cosmopolitan feel that makes countries like Britain and cities like London look stronger than the above two.
I am a Russian European. I am proud of my language and culture, but I am not proud of my country. Actually I am deeply ashamed of what it has done to Ukraine and what it is doing to its own intelligentsia and middle class. I am ashamed of it acting is a wicked teenager that won’t grow up despite all the harm it has done to itself and its neighbours.
Being Russian, I also realize how many people and politicians in countries to the west of mine are exact copies of those who have created Putin’s regime, how close all European countries are to replicating it – much closer than any of them would admit, even to themselves. Yes I mean you, Poland and Hungary. Putin’s Russia is indeed Dorian Gray’s picture of Europe.
I am totally on the same wavelength with my pro-European friends in Britain, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Greece, Baltic and Scandinavian countries, Ukraine and Georgia.
I have as little in common with Russia’s pro-Putin majority as I have with Ukrainian and other East European nationalists, West European anti-EU populists of all shades and colours, Brexiteers, Trumpists and Tea Party supporters in the US. I have none of these among my friends and I can hardly see any of them on my Facebook timeline.
There are many Europeans like me, inside and outside the EU. It’s time for European liberals to realign the barricades – destroy the ones that divide us along the national boundaries and build a massive new bulwark against the White Walkers of the 21st century, the nationalists.
I totally believe that European Union is the best institution that has ever been created in this continent. It is also the best guarantee for the survival of ethnic, linguistic and religious groups, from large ones to the tiniest. It is nationalists who start wars and conduct ethnic cleansing.
The EU is still very young, weak, poorly coordinated and disunited. Well, we need to make it stronger. It’s time for a new and more powerful European dream. We need to talk to each other and work it out. Now.
I spoke with a Baltic diplomat earlier this month and he said: “Putin is just a hooligan – it’s a hooligan state!”
He was actually talking about Russian military posturing in the vicinity of his country, but clashes in France clearly confirm his viewpoint. It’s not football hooligans as such, but the reaction of the Russian state to their hooliganism – like summoning the French ambassador on the account of arrests made by French police.
Many media outlets have contrasted the Russian reaction to that of British government officials and politicians. While British dignitaries condemned their fans for street violence and mischief, the Russians endorsed the considerably more dangerous behavior of their compatriots. Some of them even used hooligans’ language, like Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin who said that Europe is simply “not used to seeing real men after all the gay parades”. In addition to all that, some of the ultras appeared to be members of the official delegation.
It entirely fits into Russia’s general line of behavior. There is no purpose or strategy – just the desire to be evil for the sake of it and to engage in all kinds of antisocial behavior. The country is a teenager that will continue to break windows and pee on the porch until he grows up – something that may or may not happen since there are no grown-ups around to look after his upbringing.
Russia’s behavior stems from the 20th century trauma coupled with its unique status of the only East European state that has no real chance of hoping to be integrated into the Euroatlantic community.
That realization, which descended on previously naive and enthusiastic ex-Soviet people late in the 1990s, produced another layer of trauma on top of the first one.
There is no chance at all that Russia will change, while both Europe and America are themselves degrading into political hooliganism, as in the case of Trump, Brexit or Dutch referendum on Ukraine. But it will definitely happen when the pendulum of history swings the other way, the European Union gets its act together and starts fulfilling the project of united Europe without borders and the archaic menace of nationalism.
The whole of Europe is outraged by the mayhem caused by Russian and English football fans in France and rightly so. But in fact we could have had another Orlando, if not for the Ukrainian secret services. A couple of weeks earlier (the announcement came on June 6), they intercepted a terrorist suspect who tried to smuggle grenade launchers and explosives from from the war-torn Ukraine into France.
Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) that the suspect, identified by the French press as Gregoire Moutaux, planned to stage simultaneous bombing attacks targeting bridges, highways, a tax office, a mosque, a synagogue and Euro-2016 offices.
SBU press release suggests that the man is a far-right radical. In that case it’s no wonder that he was on SBU’s radar from the moment he stepped on the Ukrainian soil.
Ukraine has a problem with its own ultra-nationalists, who took an active part in the war effort after the Russian invasion in Crimea and Donbass. That made them firmly entrenched in various parts of the government, particularly law-enforcement bodies.
But so far it seems that it is the state that controls and steers them and not visa versa. One example is the gay parade that took place in Kiev last Sunday. There were calls by notable right-wingers to attack LGBT activists.
But major right-wing organisations, like Azov Civil Corps, refrained from doing so. That’s largely thanks to the effort by security services and political consultants who are steering these very real extremists towards relative mainstream.
The ones who actually tried to stage attacks (but were repelled and detained by the police) were mostly connected to Dmytro Korchynsky – a veteran political provocateur, who was formerly an ally of Russian ultra-nationalist philosopher Aleksandr Dugin and fought alongside Donbass rebel commander Igor Girkin (Strelkov) in Moldovan war in 1992. Curiously or not, he also happen to be Ukraine’s chief Russophobe who has been supplying Russian propaganda outlets with “fascist Ukraine” material for two decades.
I was curious to check out how Korchynsky reacted to Orlando. He used the tragedy to attack his arch-enemy – MP Mustafa Nayem, who took part in Kiev Pride. A Ukrainian journalist of Afghan origin, Nayem is also the man whose Facebook post triggered Maidan revolution in 2013.
This is what Korchysky wrote about Orlando:
“I am sorry for the unfortunate victims, but I lack the spirit to sympathise with the Americans. It’s them who should sympathise with us. America is a great country. But why is everyone better there, even the Afghans? While the Ukrainian Afghan was waving a rainbow flag at the gay parade, the American one was skilfully emptying his gun cases”.