Victory Day Riots

May 12th, 2011 | By | Category: Infowars, News, Russia, Ukraine, Ukrainians Worldwide

By Bishop Paul Peter Jesep
Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church

Riots broke out in Western Ukraine during Victory Day celebrations in May 2011. The Russian government, intent on marginalizing Ukrainian sovereignty, and the Russian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate, committed to remaining the dominate church in Ukraine, were quick to condemn and describe the demonstrations as pro-Nazi. There is a more sinister element here that involves more than intolerant chauvinism used by Moscow to confuse it with legitimate nationalism. It is another example of Russia and the secular Moscow Patriarchate causing division among Ukrainian Jews and Christians.

The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia issued a statement expressing fear over the “rehabilitation of Nazism in Europe” and that a “revisionist policy on Ukrainian Nazi collaborators” was being pursued. Theh Federation suggested that the violence reflected “terrorist ideology of Ukrainian radical nationalism.” Yet the violence, though wrong, had little if anything to do with Nazism. It reflects in part the success of Russian propaganda. The protests were against the perception that the Red Army was a liberator, not an expression of support for Nazism.

This is another example why Ukrainian patriots, who should encourage Jews to be part of their cause, must seek a constructive dialogue with Jewish sisters and brothers in Ukraine, Russia, and Israel. Their failure to do so enables the Russian government and the Moscow Patriachate to link chauvinist intolerance with the patriotism of nationalism thus diminishing Ukraine’s claim to its sovereignty and attempts to nurture a cultural re-awakening.

It must be underscored that violence and the failure to respect free speech even if it is honoring the Soviet Army must be condemned. Nor does Nazism have a place in a moral, ethical world. If Ukraine is to be democratic, if it is to be welcomed as part of the European Union then there is no place for violence and intolerance. It is ignorant, uncivilized, and threatens the long-term viability of its democracy.

Peaceful protests against Victory Day could have been used to tell the world that Ukrainian patriots, contrary to Russian propoganda, do not glorify Nazism. It could have been a chance to remind the world that the Red Army destroyed the Ukrainian republic of 1918, a nation that Jews helped to support. The event could have been used to tell the world about the Holomodor orchestrated by Stalin who used the Red Army to starve millions of Ukrainians that included Jews and Christians.

In addition, a peaceful demonstration against Victory Day could have reminded the world that Stalin collaborated with Hitler to invade Poland in 1939. It is Stalin who would later be responsible for the Katyn massacre. Russia has succeeded in getting the world to forget, overlook, or simply never learn about its complicity with Nazi Germany in the destruction of Poland and the Baltic states. This piece of history should be part of Victory Day celebrations, but those responsible for the disruptions failed to use this time to educate the world.

Of course Communists, with blood stained hands, replaced the Nazi oppressor, but because of the violence in Lviv this month it has not be part of the news story being reported. Unfortunately, violence and the disrespect for someone else’s rights made the headlines. It diminished Ukraine in the eyes of the international community while giving legitimacy to Russia’s ongoing efforts to portray Ukraine as incapable of being a mature member of the European community. It gives President Viktor Yanukovych, who behaves like Moscow’s appointed puppet-governor, another excuse to centralize his control.

Bishop Paul Peter Jesep of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church is the designated USA spokesperson for His Beatitude Metropolitan Myfodii of Kyiv and all Rus-Ukraine. He may be reached at VladykaPaulPeter@aol.com.

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