Ukraine Between the Maidan and Western Europe

Ignorance of the nature and ideology of western Europe is apparently wide-spread in Ukraine, and it promises to cause serious problems in the future

The Maidan “Revolution of Dignity” is variously described as everything from a war of independence against the highly-corrupt Russia of Putin—a sociopathic thug banking on a hatred of the “enemies of the people” [1] to a “pilgrimage from fear to the kingdom of dignity.” However, given that the corruption that occurs so often and is so ubiquitous, not only is the use of the word “dignity” questionable, but it has been largely reduced to a convenient political slogan—usurping the more important preconditions in individuals’ hearts required for a people to govern themselves. [2] This is why the people of Ukraine may be too vulnerable to shadier enticements from the West—including those that are not amenable to living a virtuous life.

Myroslav Marynovych, UCU’s Vice Rector for University Mission and former prisoner of conscience in the Soviet Union under the Brezhnev regime, in a recent interview partly recognized this problem. But in his fawning and uncritical praise of western Europe, Marynovych appears crucially to have missed the decline of Europe itself [3] —precisely because it intentionally jettisoned its Christian identity [4] in favor of the “values” of moralistic therapeutic atheism and permissiveness hiding behind ideological “tolerance”—the enemies of true freedom as a means for human excellence. In my experience, such ignorance of what is western Europe is wide-spread in Ukraine—in particular a lack of awareness of forces challenging the very notion of the European Union. [5]

Journal Zbruč: The Maidan stood, in particular, for theembodiment of European values in the life of Ukraine. What did last year reveal to us? Have Ukrainians become imbued with that which is called European values?

Marynovych: We have not fully understood what Europe is. We don’t understand that Europe is great orderliness, the summit of the rule of law. And, unfortunately, we sometimes demonstrate that we are far from Europe. For example, “trash bin purges.” [In which officials connected with former President Yanukovych were physically roughed-up and throw into street-side trash bins by Maidan protestors.] What did we speak about on the Maidan? We spoke of human dignity and we protested against its violations. But instead, we had the trash bins and the denigration of human dignity. If you see that some bureaucrat is despicable, then construct a system for the primacy of the rule of law and develop a normal election process. In this manner, such people will immediately lose their status and can be removed from their positions, and the political power that propped them up will inevitably lose its popularity. So, while the bad politician is removed, respect for human dignity is preserved. Unfortunately for us, this seems too boring a process, it seems to take too long, and [in our impatience] we want to remove it immediately. And so, the result is “Let’s trash ’em!” [6] (emphasis added)

It doesn’t stop at protestors imposing violent forms of lustration upon truly vile politicians of the former Yanukovych regime. The Ukrainian government is having difficulties reigning in—let alone managing—Ukrainian paramilitary organizations fighting Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country as part of Anti-Terrorism Operations (ATOs), for which some human rights violations have been reported—although nothing like what is being reported in Russian annexed Crimea and in the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics. [7]

But, there is a potential to seriously undermine Ukrainian morale and hence their efforts to defend themselves—not to mention gravely insulting to the memories of the true heroes of the Maidan. In March, I attended Bohdan Solchanyk’s deeply emotional one-year-on requiem service, [8] presided over by Bishop Gudziak, at the traditional Church of the Blessed [Soviet] Martyrs, about 200 meters from UCU’s main campus. While indications of atrocities committed on both sides of the Maidan (largely without supporting evidence) have occasionally surfaced in the press, a recent political “forensic” study (an updated draft posted but not yet published) by Ivan Katchanovski from the University of Ottawa, is chilling in its conclusions:

the massacre not only ended many human lives but also undermined democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in Ukraine.

The various evidence[s] analyzed from such a theoretical perspective indicates that armed groups and parts of leadership of the far right organizations, such as the Right Sector and Svoboda, and oligarchic parties, such as Fatherland, were directly or indirectly involved [in] various capacities or likely knew about actual perpetrators of this massacre of the protesters and the police. This mass killing was aimed in seizing power. This study also provides a rational explanation for the failure of the government investigation to find and prosecute those directly involved in this mass killing and for falsification of the investigation. However, specific nature and degree of the involvement of each of these political organizations and specific leaders and armed protesters remains unclear. Such a false flag massacre by its nature could have been organized and successfully carried out only by a small number of Maidan leaders and protesters. The absolute majority of the Maidan protesters, activists, members, and supporters of the “Euromaidan” mass protests and parties that led these protests, including the victims among the protestors, were not aware about the actual organizers and perpetrators of this politically motivated murder and not involved in any other way in this mass killing.

In speaking to friends in L’viv and Kyiv, not a single one doubts the possibility that a small and unrepresentative number of far-right thugs may have perpetrated a limited number of atrocities on the Maidan. Moreover, a report by the International Advisory Panel, set up by the Council of Europe, presented evidence corroborating the conclusions of Katchanovski’s study—including accusations that the Ukrainian investigation of the “snipers’ massacre” on the Maidan was deliberately and systematically falsified and stonewalled at the highest level in Ukraine, in particular by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor General office, as a part of the cover-up. [10]

It is encouraging that such information is open and available in Ukraine, that it provides the basis for a healthy debate, that Ukrainians appear to recognize this, and it may help to at least partially explain why, in both the Presidential and Parliamentary elections in 2014 (following the demise of Viktor Yanukovych), far right parties were essentially routed—as was the Communist Party. Populism, nonetheless, remains a problem, and fairly significant segments of the Ukrainian society fail to recognize the threat it may pose to the consolidation of democracy in Ukraine. In any event, Ukrainians have something of which to be proud. 2014 elections results in western Europe for right-wing parties show the following: [11] France (National Front – 25%), Denmark (Dansk Folkeparti – 23%), Hungary (Jobbik – 21%); Austria (FPÖ – 20%), Ukraine (Svoboda / Right Sector) – 2.2% [12] Ukrainian Parliamentary elections in October 2014 yielded even more promising results in this respect. [13]

ENDNOTES:

2 “Because we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” (emphasis added) John Adams, “Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts,” 11 October 1798, Revolutionary Services and Civil Life of General William Hull (New York, 1848): 265-6.

3 See for example, George Weigel, The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics without God (New York: Basic Book, 2006). See also Athena Yenko, “Europe Threatens World Order, More Than ISIS and Vladimir Putin Can”, International Business Times – Australia, 07 January 2015. And, consider Weigel’s most recent criticism of western Europe: “… Europe’s lack of belief in its own civilizational project, which manifests itself in its military and political weakness… Europe wants to be left alone with its pleasures… Ukraine is a bother, because the people who made the Maidan Revolution of Dignity have the disturbing tendency to insist that ‘European values’ involve more than six-week paid vacations in a womb-to-womb welfare state…” George Weigel, “Unhappy Anniversary: The Slow-Motion Betrayal of Ukraine”, National Review, 24 February 2015.

5 George Friedman, “How British Elections Represent the State of Europe”, Stratfor Global Intelligence: Geopolitical Weekly, 05 May 2015.

6 Myroslav Marynovych, “Uprising of the Ukrainian Ox”, Zbruč, 26 February 2015.

7 “War in Donbass”, Wikipedia; accessed modified from 26 February 2015.

8 Alexander R. Sich, “A Martyr is Mourned in Ukraine as West Placates Moscow”, Crisis Magazine, 23 February 2015.

9 Ivan Katchanovski, “The ‘Snipers Massacre’ on the Maidan in Ukraine” (updated and revised), Academia.edu, 20 February 2015. In October 2014, David Marples from the University of Alberta, provided a response to the first version (presented at the symposium on “Negotiating Borders”) of Katchanovski’s paper to which Katchanovski responded in turn with the above referenced updated paper and a separate posting “The Snipers’ Massacre in Kyiv: A Response to Critics”. Unfortunately, apart from Marples, most responses have indeed been ad hominem attacks directed against Katchanovski.

10 Council of Europe’s International Advisory Group, Report of the International Advisory Board on Its Review of the Maidan Investigations, 31 March 2015.

12 Edward W. Walker, “Interpreting the Results of Ukraine’s Presidential Elections”, Eurasian Geopolitics, 31 May 2014.

13 See also Alina Polyakov, “Everything You Thought You Knew About Right-Wing Parties is Wrong”, The New Atlanticist, 09 June 2015.

About Dr. Alexander Sich 0 Articles
Dr. Alexander R. Sich is Professor of Physics and Faculty Associate with the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He has twelve years of professional experience in nuclear safety and non-proliferation abroad, primarily in Ukraine. For the 2015 academic year, Dr. Sich is a Fulbright Teaching and Research Scholar at the Ukrainian Catholic University. He earned his doctorate in nuclear engineering from MIT and a Master's in Soviet Studies from Harvard University and a second Master's in philosophy from Holy Apostles College and Seminary.