By Andrei Nechayevsky
Translated from the Russian by The Russian Reader (original post)
“I would like to live in a province near the sea, but not in a place where ‘unreliable elements’ are purged.”
I am from Donetsk myself. My wife and I moved to Crimea ten years ago. We built a house outside of Kerch, in the backcountry. There isn’t a soul there in winter.
Suddenly, in February 2014, Russian choppers were flying over us every night. Then troops marched through Kerch. I saw it with my own eyes.
There was this fabulous thing: Russian religious pilgrims, columns of buses filled with people who were supposedly traveling en masse to worship Crimea’s Orthodox relics. I watched them change into army uniforms in a church yard.
Kerch was inundated with completely atypical characters: there were a huge number of Cossacks. I was getting hassled in town on the street, something that had never happened before. Drunken, fairly strong men would come up to me and ask, “Where you from, lad?” And this “lad” is fucking forty-five years old!
I got the feeling that everyone had lost their minds.
The frenzied world-wide front is expanding Mercy to no one, no one, no one!Stanza from 1989 Russian anarchists’ song Vintovka – eto prazdnik (The Rifle is a Holiday) by the Russian punk band Grazhdanskaya Oborona (Civil Defense)
By Aleksandr Volodarsky, originally published by Chetvyortaya Vlast’ and
The annexation of Crimea, the “Novorossiya” project, and the fight against the “Kyiv junta” are not supported in Russia alone. There are political forces around the world, both marginal and relatively respectable, which voice their support for the separatists in the Donbass. At times, activists themselves travel to the war zone as volunteers, but they mostly hold demonstrations in support of the separatist republics and pressure their governments to renounce their support for Ukraine and “stop the aggression against Russia.”
Transcribed from the 28 February 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the full interview:
“This is the funny thing: when people don’t believe in anything, when they’re cynical about everything, they’re actually incredibly easy to manipulate.”
“There’s a lot of real old-fashioned class antagonism at the heart of this. When, on top of that class antagonism, you add an actual war with shooting, it becomes really ugly.”
Chuck Mertz: Our guest, live from New York City, is Keith Gessen, founding editor of n+1 magazine. Keith is co-editor of the new collection celebrating ten years of the cultural literary magazine n+1, Happiness: Ten Years of n+1. Keith also wrote the piece “Why Not Kill Them All?” on Ukraine for the London Review of Books. Good morning, Keith.
KG: Good morning.
CM: You start your story about a Mikhail Mishin, who grew up in a large town next to Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, for several years playing football, rising to the Ukrainian second league. Eventually, as you write, “his father helped him find work in the sports section of city government, where he lobbied for money for sports facilities and attended their opening ceremonies, where he always gave a short speech about the moral and physical benefits of sport. No scholar of languages, he was never able to master Ukrainian fully, which perhaps would have kept him from climbing higher in politics if things hadn’t taken a strange turn for him in the Donbas region earlier this year.”
by Gavin Rae for LeftEast
“What’s abnormal is not the worst. What’s normal, for example, is world war.”
The 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War takes place in a growing atmosphere of global conflict. The world seems to be once again teetering on the verge of catastrophe. A wave of violence is spreading around the globe, leaving destruction and death in its wake. This surge towards war has developed a momentum that at times seems uncontrollable. Palestine, Ukraine, Libya, Syria, Iraq – the list of conflicts is growing and war is once again becoming normal.
The anniversary of World War One should be a time of deep reflection for the left. How was it possible that the vast majority of the socialist parties in Europe could drop their avowed internationalism and fall in behind the imperialist war adventures of their countries’ elites? How could they become so subsumed with nationalism and chauvinism that they allowed millions of young men to fall on the battlefields?
Das Original auf Englisch ist hier einzusehen
Von Laurent Moeri für Antidote, übersetzt von K. H. W.“Wenn der Kampf vorbei ist und die Märtyrer schlafen, erheben sich die Feiglinge aus den Gassen, um uns von ihrem Heldentum zu erzählen” -Graffiti in Homs, Syrien
Vorwort – Mission Impossible
Was folgt, ist ein Versuch des Unmöglichen: eine kritische Überprüfung der Situation in der Ukraine, der Beteiligung von Putins Russland und der Fähigkeit (oder Unfähigkeit) der internationalen Linken auf soziale Aufstände ohne bereits vorgeschriebene Botschaften zu antworten. Ich schreibe auf Grundlage einer einzigen Prämisse: dass nämlich die Opfer einer möglichen militärischen Eskalation in der Ukraine überwiegend ethnische Minderheiten sein werden: die muslimischen Krimtataren, marginalisierte Gruppen wie die Sinti und Roma, sowie die Arbeiterklasse; während die Bürokraten in Brüssel und der Zar und sein Clan in Moskau ihre jeweiligen Interessen weiterverfolgen werden. Um die Wahrscheinlichkeit dieser Vorhersage zu unterstreichen, werde ich einen Vergleich zwischen den Ereignissen in Tschetschenien und denen auf der Krim anstellen.
by Antidote’s Laurent Moeri“When the battle is over and the martyrs sleep, the cowards emerge from the alleys to tell us of their heroism.” – Graffiti in Homs, Syria
Prelude – Mission Impossible
What follows is an attempt at the impossible: a critical review of the situation in Ukraine, the involvement of Putinʼs Russia, and the international Leftʼs capacity (or lack thereof) to respond to social uprisings without repeating prescribed narratives. It is written on one sole premise: that the victims of an eventual military escalation in Ukraine will predominantly be ethnic minorities such as the muslim Crimean Tatars, marginalized groups such as the Sinti and Roma, and the working class—while bureaucrats in Brussels and the Czar and his clan in Moscow will continue to further their respective interests. To highlight the likelihood of this prediction, a comparison will be made between events in Chechnya and Crimea.
“Terek on his stones is fretting / With a troubled roar;
Wild Chechen, his dagger whetting, / Crawls along the shore.
But your father knows war’s riot, / Knows what he must do.
Sleep, my darling, sleep in quiet, / Bayushki-bayu.”
– popular Cossack lullaby written by the Russian Poet Lermontov
AntiNote: As news breaks today of military incidents between Ukrainian government forces and separatist militants in the East, we are once again reeling from the quickly-shifting circumstances in that country. This interview with Volodymyr Ishchenko is less than a week old, and may already be nearing its expiration date…
But: Ishchenko’s statements (as well as his writing; links below) contain a certain wisdom and thoughtful consideration that make them less perishable. As today’s violence sends the international commentariat into fits of hyperbole, lambasting one side or the other (as if there are even just “two sides!”), we find that Ishchenko’s reasoned call for more nuance is as relevant—even urgent—as ever.