Ukraine is in the throes of an imminent human rights crisis, as the red flags of oppression are visible to all objective observers that care to acknowledge the obvious. The near-death beating of Oleg Tsarev and the intimidation of Mikhail Dobkin, both Eastern Ukrainian presidential candidates, are proof, if any more was even needed, that the upcoming “elections” in Ukraine will be neither honest nor representative of the population at large. On top of that, the Kiev junta’s military operations against the pro-reform activists in the east accentuate the violent oppression that has become characteristic of EuroMaidan and its coup plotters. With all of this occurring, the West is ignobly turning a blind eye towards the same human rights values it bombastically (in a literal sense) promoted in Resistant and Defiant (R&D) states such Serbia and Libya.
Distractions from Democracy
The most visible hallmarks of a democracy are its rule of law and respect of democratic processes, neither of which are present in most of Ukraine at the moment. It is only in the east, where concerned civilians are protesting the undemocratic seizure of power by the junta and demanding a political referendum, that such values are present. The West is ironically ignoring the fact that these people, not the $5 billion recipients of “democracy” in the Western half of the country, are the ones truly upholding democratic principles. This is due to Russophobia and an aversion to anything and anyone that is in any way positively affiliated with Russia, as many of the Eastern activists speak Russian as their native language and are biasedly lumped together as “pro-Russian” because of this. Such a label carries implicit Russophobia, since it discredits the democratic pro-reform activists in the eyes of the casual Western observer and falsely objectifies them as “Russian agents” and “separatists”. Through information management tactics, the West is pursuing the strategy of distracting their audience (and most importantly, their own citizens) from the fact that democracy is being defended in the east, and their “dog in the fight”, the illegal junta, is actually the largest hypocrite of “Western values” in Europe since Croatia’s Tudman (also a strong Western ally during the Yugoslav Wars).
The Dark Side of Western-Imposed “Democracy”
While the public is distracted from the defense of democracy in the east and misleadingly deflected towards thinking that the junta is some kind of democratic council, the dark side of Western-imposed “democracy” hangs heavy over the east’s head. On a high-level application, the tragic events that have befallen Tsarev and Dobkin are highly symbolic of a coordinated campaign of fear and intimidation against the citizens of Ukraine’s east.
Violence against presidential candidates, especially those representing minority interests to a certain extent, is always condemned when it happens in the West. It is not difficult to imagine the outrage and 24-hour media coverage that would ensue if an African-American or Hispanic presidential aspirant in the US was savagely beaten close to death by a white nationalist mob, which would be the closest Western equivalent of what happened to Tsarev. Forcibly stopping Dobkin’s vehicle and assaulting his aides is absolutely contrary to Western ideals, and pouring anti-septic solution on a presidential candidate in the US would likely result in a jail sentence, not freedom from an investigation. Although the junta is paying lip service to Tsarev’s victimization by announcing an investigation, it is likely to only be one in the nominal sense, as “the inmates are running the asylum” and even if caught, the perpetrators are only facing the slap-on-the-wrist charge of hooliganism.
The Impact of Intimidation
The aggression against Tsarev and Dobkin victimizes many more people than just those two. A free and fair vote cannot occur when candidates are physically intimidated and nearly killed on the street by mob violence. Having this happen to candidates sends a strong statement to their representative supporters that they too can be targeted and that no one is untouchable. This is worse than the previous widespread tearing down of Lenin statues, which besides symbolizing anti-communist lustration, can also be seen as intrinsically anti-Russian. The anti-Russian mob violence has now spread from being directed against symbolic objects to symbolic people. With Russian-affiliated individuals, especially political ones, being under threat by the militant Pravy Sector, the Ukrainian government should have provided the two presidential candidates with some sort of protection. Why were Tsarev and Dobkin denied the same sense of security that Tymoshenko has?
A truly representative election cannot occur when a significant minority that represents the geographic and economic majority, as well as their presidential candidates, is intimidated and the state is helpless or unwilling to help. The attacks against Tsarev and Dobkin can be seen as a type of anti-Russian lustration designed to scare their supporters. This adds support to the argument that federalization is the only means of guaranteeing that these individuals can be justly represented within the larger Ukrainian state. Without federalization and constitutional reform, the same cycle of nationalist mob violence and intimidation will only continue and get worse each time, until it finally culminates in a huge tragedy.
Kiev’s “Tank Democracy”
Russia’s commissioner for Human Rights, Konstantin Dolgov, accurately described the political system in Ukraine when it called it “the Maidan tank democracy”. The junta’s use of force against the Eastern pro-federalization activists is not only immoral and criminal, but it is being committed under totally false pretexts. The only expression of democracy witnessed on the side of the regime during this time is the willingness of some soldiers to choose defection and join the side of the protesters. Rather than speaking honestly and saying that they want to crush all dissent to their regime, the junta is trying to legitimize their actions under the pretexts of an “anti-terrorist operation”. When a “governing” authority is using deadly force against its own citizens under the false and misleading pretext of “anti-terrorism” (in order to desperately retain its tenuous foreign-supported $5 billion clasp on power), it is an affront to all the people in the world currently fighting against real terrorist insurgencies, particularly in Syria.
In showing no hesitancy in breaking fundamental norms of international law within view of the entire world, it is small wonder that the citizens of the east would feel frightened that the junta would continue to trample upon human rights in the corners of Ukraine where no media observers were present. The junta has shown that it will resort to force to resolve political deadlocks and opposition. Instead of freely allowing a referendum on creating a federation and let it pass or fail by democratic means, they are violently suppressing it by force. Ukraine is sadly beginning to behave like a Cold-War era third-world dictatorship, albeit one brought to power by mercenary snipers. As dictatorship after dictatorship have learned throughout history, genuine people’s movements do not die when their advocates die, and military force only hardens the resolve of the resistance to the regime.
More Silence, More Suffering, More Shams
The violence against presidential candidates and the killing of civilians under false and manipulated pretexts has to be taken together and cannot be separated. A coordinated push at full-spectrum intimidation and broad collective punishment for the Russian-populated east is in effect. This is in essence a combined geographic and race-based “flogging”. Under such oppressive circumstances, “elections” have no hope of being fair, free, representative, or honest, and they thus become nothing more than a ballot-stuffing ritual for the junta’s predetermined victors. The larger tragedy is that all of this could have been avoided had Yanukovich been able to serve out his term and Ukraine democratically vote for the change that it wanted in 2015. Due to foreign meddling and covert destabilization, this is unfortunately not the case, and a human rights crisis is unfolding in front of the world’s eyes under the management of the CIA. To make matters worse, the West’s silence is only increasing the suffering of the victims, and by choosing to ignore the human rights violations against the east, it is proving that its selective enforcement of the “Responsibility to Protect” and “Humanitarian Intervention” doctrines was never anything more than a simple sham to sell war.
Andrew Korybko is the American Master’s Degree student at the Moscow State University of International Relations (MGIMO).
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