A year of disaster and shame

One year ago so called “green men” appeared in Crimea – people in camouflaged uniforms and balaclavas, without any flags or insignia on their uniforms. They abstained to answer any questions about who they were and where they came from, they didn’t tell anybody why they came there, as if they didn’t know themselves. Russian state officials denied entry of Russian troops into Ukrainian territory, made appearance of being deeply insulted by such suggestions and claimed that those, who considered these ”green men” to be occupying troops, were liars.

Later these green men for some reason started to be called “polite people”. Probably those who coined this creative and strange term thought that it looked so nice and polite – to enter a different country, refuse to present oneself and then capture other people’s territory, country, life. This new name was joyfully greeted by both the Russian authorities and population at large last spring, but a year after it turned out that those who had participated in takeover of Crimea not only deserved a special term “special operations forces”, but also a national holiday devoted to them.

Russian president ruled to celebrate this day – February 27th – stating that “our soldiers and officers proved… that they are ready to fulfill even the most difficult and non-standardized tasks”. Thus the original myth of “polite people” became a scary page in history books, which told the story of pacification of those, who would think of some “adventures”, as the president described any attempts to “put pressure” [on Russia], and be an example of “adequate response” to them. Compliant Russian members of parliament recalled their earlier draft law about introducing a national holiday commemorating “polite people”, as they realized that such wordplay was no longer necessary.

All of this was quite clear quite a while ago, and the new words and terms only served to prove what was already known, but hardly helped to make things clear. It was clear that Russia wanted to take over Crimea and did just what it wanted, and that this was done by professional military personnel, which hardly looked like “polite people”. This was partly revenge for non-submission, partly just using the situation to own profit. The latter was positively proven by a recent investigation of “Novaya gazeta”, which showed that some version of a plan for takeover of Crimea and some parts of south-eastern Ukraine had existed back at the times of the glorious Olympic Games in Sochi.

Today nobody really recalls this referendum and the “free expression of will” of Crimean people in any serious way, as nobody also pretends that this referendum was not carried out under the barrel of a gun.

It is more plausible to boast a military victory now.

But if this war is being carried out in a war-like manner, – that is without respect for the rules, – why does anyone need to deny the presence of Russian troops in Donbass or claim that a war between Russia and Ukraine would be “an apocalyptic scenario”? That’s probably because someone liked to fight like it happened in Crimea, but when there are real war casualties – that’s something unacceptable, a sort of Apocalypses!

But although it turns out that real casualties happen now, there is no reason for grief, as the fact of casualties can be denied, and not only someone’s crimes, but the very real dead and wounded military personnel can be called a mere invention! These later day casualties do not exist, and thus there is not yet time to devote “special operations forces” day to them!

It’s a completely different story when there are crimes committed in other countries, not our own – these crimes cannot be silenced, they should be investigated by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation. And if this is to be done, then the Russian laws can be changed slightly in a fast way in order to make this interference into the life of other countries easier. Thus, the head of Investigative Committee Mr.Bastrykin informs us that “in some particular cases some procedural activities and preliminary investigations can be carried out on the territory of other countries”. The very fact that carrying out these activities “in some cases” on the territory of other countries is in contradiction with the Russian legislation and international legal norms doesn’t scare the chief investigator.

He proposes to “get back to the best traditions of Russian court procedures” and “correct deformations of the Russian legislation, which took place in the 1990s as a result of transformation of our society according to Western standards, which limited sovereign rule of the national law”. The very principle of supremacy of international law (as is spelled out in Article 15 of the Russian Constitution) was called by Mr.Bastrykin “subversion of legal regulation” and he didn’t hide that he was borrowing his terms from the epoch of “best traditions” of Russian court procedures, the times of large scale persecution of “enemies of people”, subversives and saboteurs.

Even occupation of other countries is, sadly, also part of these “best traditions”.

There is nothing new in this, not even in the sense, as a Russian saying goes, that “new is the forgotten old”. There is nothing, which we managed to effectively forget or nothing that we really tried to learn from. Nobody remembers and nobody wants to remember the “cost of victories”: millions of young lives lost in the wars of the past century – from Japan to Finland, from Afghanistan to the present-day nameless graves of soldiers, which “do not exist”. Nobody wants to remember how a hysterical campaign against “subversion” killed the best minds, how the country was turned into total GULAG, how it was humiliated by fear, poverty and powerlessness, which nobody could escape in spite of the myth of imaginary greatness.

A kid recently came from school and told his parents how the sixth-graders refused to answer teacher’s question about the size of the territory of United States “on principled grounds”. When people refuse to know anything and that’s their only principle – what can be done?

By Stefania Kulayeva

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