Rostislav Ishchenko: Ukraine’s Well-Forgotten Agony

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


Everything that happens in modern history, as a rule, in one way or another, already happened before. For Ukraine this rule works in a hypertrophied size.

Today the vast majority of “talented analysts” claiming three, two, one and a half years, and even a year ago that Ukraine is stronger than ever and will exist nearly eternally and that the US and the EU will cover its expenses and provide stability of power simply due to a love for art and a dislike for Russia, try not to remember their outstanding statements.

I understand that already in 2014 it wasn’t difficult to simply descry signs of the decomposition of the allegedly still-alive body of the Ukrainian zombie, but, after all, everyone interprets any political process in their own way. And indeed, sometimes the same prerequisites in one case lead to the consolidation of the nation and statehood, while in another – to a transformation of an apparently-alive state body into a zombie. It is easy to be mistaken being guided by only current political processes or by actual foreign examples.

But if you know the history of the country you try to dissect, it is impossible to be mistaken.

Unnecessary and accidental independence fell down on Ukraine in 1917, exactly in the same way as it did in 1991. And the “fathers of Ukrainian independence” in 1918-1920 dreamed exactly in the same way that the Ukrainian authorities in 1991 dreamed about enriching themselves with State property, but didn’t know what to do with sovereignty and dreamed to sell it to some new “allied center” at an agreed price.

And it is in the same way that Europe attracted them. Just that in 1917-1918 Europe was seen by Ukraine as victorious central States (Austria and Germany). And only by the end of 1918 did Kiev understand that the Entente wins and try to quickly switch teams. But in 1991 Europe was united as never before, moreover, the “civilized world” showed full transatlantic unity. That’s why the leaders of the “new nation” didn’t risk making the wrong choice concerning their new master – a mistake that their predecessors made in 1917.

Just like they did at the beginning of the 20th century, today’s Ukrainian “independence-seekers” degraded quickly, transforming before the eyes from “people with kind faces” and “three higher educations”, standing for everything good and against everything bad, into a radical nationalist xenophobic rabble, seeking to commit legalized robbery under the cover of eliminating foreigners. Both then and now the main enemies of Ukrainism were defined as Russians, Jews, and Poles. Only the sequence of their genocide differs.

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It is in the same way that the power of political authorities for a short period reigned over the “minds of the nation”, having quickly conceded to the power of political adventurists, who incidentally appeared at the head of more or less large brigades. Already the Hetman Skoropadsky liquidates the power of the Central Rada as a result of a coup (by the way, a rather peaceful one – in the spirit and in the format of the Maidan of 2004/2005). The actions of Petliura against the Hetman correlate with the Maidan of 2013/2014. The egregious marginality is released onto the streets. The excesses perfectly described by Bulgakov start, connected to the establishment of the power of the trite and illiterate villagers over the prosperous city, which eternally irritated it. The revenge of the lackey against the undirtied public.

We see exactly the same now in Kiev, where Buzina was killed, and many more will be killed not because they are against the authorities, and not because they allegedly constitute some danger to Ukrainism, but exclusively because the feeling of self-respect is written in their eyes, and the lackey can’t cope with it. The lackey in Russia, Ukraine, in the US, or in the most shabby New Guinea hates and seeks to destroy everything that morally towers over him. The lackey can get over the fact that someone is richer than he is, while for him the nobleness of others is a strong indication of not even treason – but of heresy. And heretics, as is known, are either converted or destroyed. As a rule both processes follow in indissoluble unity – in the beginning conversion, and then destruction. Confiscation of property is a pleasant bonus.

The period that started with the overthrow in Kiev of Skoropadsky and the establishment of the Directorate, as well as the sole governance of Sir chief ataman Petliura is now blossoming in Ukraine.

Of course, Petliura was considered as the chief ataman, but every ataman and little ataman of his army was quite an independent figure. Approximately like how now Avakov, Biletsky, Kokhanovsky, and others can be called a “legion”. The ataman Zeleniy (Terpilo) and the Batka Angel, commanding large units of the Directorate, pursued a quite independent policy. Being “offended” by Petliura, they concluded an alliance with the red ones. Then they independently fought against them, against whites, and against units loyal to Petliura (if they still existed somewhere). A similar evolution was achieved by the most reliable part of the Ukrainian armed gangs (it is difficult to call this rabble an “army”) – the Ukrainian Galician army.

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And now it’s not the same?

The main manager of National Guard Avakov seemingly herded his fighters to defend Poroshenko from Saakavshivili. But the “Azov” regiment and all its affiliated structures, which is the same courtier part of the National Guard that the Ukrainian Galician Army was at the beginning of the last century, on the contrary, supports the mutineer-stateless person [Saakashvili – ed]. A certain Donbass battalion, which Semenchenko (real name Konstantin Grishin) acts on behalf of, demands to radically deal with Poroshenko and to organize his dismissal, either in an amicable or bad way, but quickly. And another “Donbass” battalion claims that Semenchenko with his colleague are impostors, and supports Poroshenko.

The Ukrainian nazi Kokhanovsky, who supports the President, fights with the Ukrainian nazi Kochmala, who opposes the President, after failing to come to an agreement about a house that was snatched from a former regional [a member of the Party of Regionals – ed]. The National Police, subordinated to Avakov, who defends the President, captures Kokhanovsky and tries to jail him for a long time. “Brothers-in-arms” of the “hero” seize the courtroom and block the election to him of a measure of restraint, which in general already became the habitual environment of Ukrainian legal proceedings, where everything is decided not by the law, but by a gang of bandits brought into the court. The police clears the “heroes” out of the courtroom. The next day there is an unsuccessful assassination attempt on the colleague of Kokhanovsky – Mosiychuk, who is another nazi that supports the President – he was only wounded. But at the same time two people died and five others nearby were wounded.

Lyashko, who Kokhanovsky and Mosiychuk communicate with Poroshenko’s environment through, immediately pins this assassination attempt on the nazis – Saakashvili’s supporters sat outside the Rada. But something doesn’t work, and Russia is again habitually blamed.

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And this is only in the capital. In Kharkov, Kernes maintains over 5,000 armed militants in order to stop the attempts of Avakov and Kolomoisky to snatch the city from him. In Dnepropetrovsk the private army of Kolomoisky – which includes units of his “barons” (Filatov, Korban, and others of a lower rank) – operates. In Transcarpathia the armed groups of local smuggler-princelings represent a more impressive force than the official power structures of Kiev. No matter how they try to avoid dividing running meters of border up among themselves, they always unite against Kiev. The Odessa elite beat away Kolomoisky and Saakashvili, and made it clear to Poroshenko that it wishes to possess an exclusive mandate both on smuggling transportation and on the organization of another burning of dissatisfied persons, and waits for the interventionists who will turn Odessa into a free port and give it stability. The weakness of Odessa, like it was in 1917, is that numerous and armed to the teeth Odessan bandits don’t want to fight. They want to plunder.

And that’s how it is all over the country. And even the monument to Petliura was symbolically unveiled in Vinnytsia – the “temporary capital” of the Ukrainian People’s Republic of that time, when the people sang: “In the train – Directorate, under the train – the territory!”, and the chief ataman was more afraid of his own army than of foreign intervention, and already prepared for the signing of documents that transformed the remains of Ukraine into a Polish protectorate deprived of civil rights.

Nothing’s changed. There’s only one difference. At the beginning of the 20th century the West was split internally and fought against itself in World War I. That’s why all processes in Ukraine went without a hitch. Only twice did the Germans largely interfere, therefore the speed of these processes was higher. But today everything happens in the same way, only slightly more slowly. But with acceleration all the same.

It is advisable, while it’s still possible, to sit Poroshenko next to Petliura on the bench in Vinnytsia. And continuity will be perfectly shown, and it will be symbolic in every sense. Approximately like unveiling a monument to Kaminski in the Warsaw ghetto.

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