Category Archives: russia

Poroshenko to visit Canadian Parliament and US Congress this week; Ukrainian parliament concedes to Russian rebels and ratifies agreement with EU

Petro Poroshenko is pictured. | AP Photo

What a week. New Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is scheduled to visit Ottawa on Wednesday, followed by a visit to the US congress on Thursday.


Visiting Canada

Poroshenko is scheduled to address Parliament Wednesday at 2PM EST, and you can watch live on CPAC. The Harper government pledged $200 million back in March, but it has yet to be delivered – even causing Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada to ask about the money back in July. Canada also added additional sanctions against Russia and pledged more than 300 election monitors for the fall Ukrainian parliamentary elections.

Update: Here is Poroshenko’s Address to Canadian Parliament:


Visiting USA

Poroshenko is scheduled to meet US President Barack Obama on Thursday, and was subsequently invited to speak to Congress the same day. You can watch the Congressional address Thursday at 10AM EST on CSPAN. The US and the EU added additional sanctions against Russia last Friday.

Update: Here is Poroshenko’s Address to the US Congress:



Association Agreement with EU

The association agreement with the EU, originally rejected by Yanukovych back in November which plunged Ukraine into rebellion then war with Russia, has finally been ratified by Ukrainian Parliament. It won’t be fully implemented until 2016.

For about 15 months, Ukraine will be able to ship its goods to the E.U. without paying export tariffs, but Europeans will not be able to enjoy the same free access to the Ukrainian market. That is what Russia has long demanded.

Recently, at the end of August, when the leaders of Russia and Ukraine met for the first time in nearly three months to discuss the war raging along their border, Vladimir Putinused his time at the microphone to rant about Ukraine’s trade deal with Europe. The Russian President insisted that it would cost Russia around $3 billion if Ukraine went ahead with the agreement, which he said would disrupt the customs rules and sanitary inspections that Russia conducts at its border.

How Putin Got His Way In Ukraine


Autonomy to Donetsk and Luhansk

Ukrainian Parliament also voted for autonomy and self-governance for the two terrorist-occupied oblasts for Donetsk and Luhansk for the next three years, as negotiated with Russia as part of the ceasefire. Amnesty has been granted to those who did not commit war crimes.

Many argue that these two areas will pave the way for disgraced Party of Regions and Communist party officials to return to office and have a say in Ukraine:

Holding elections in the occupied territories with the almost guaranteed victory of the Akhmetov-Medvedchuk project would return to parliament the most odious names from the previous era. On the other hand, it would permit the transfer of the separatist war from the terrorist to the political format. This has always been the path for dealing with “separatist” conflicts in the West.

Is Medvedchuk coming back?

Education minister Tabachnyk approves unified Russian-Ukrainian textbooks: Stalin’s mass murders ‘entirely rational’

Among the many ‘bend over’ deals Yanukovych signed with Medved on his visit to Ukraine last week, this slipped through many people’s radars:

The release of the first unified Russian-Ukrainian textbook for history teachers is planned for the end of 2010, the Ukrainian education minister said at a RIA Novosti video link-up


“The textbook is being created for to the teachers who work with…secondary school pupils – to understand each other better,” Dmitri Tabachnyk said.

Many Ukrainians despise Tabachnyk for his professed hatred of Ukrainian nationalism. Not surprising then is his approval of school materials in Russia that have been quietly transforming into Soviet-era propaganda pieces for the government to idolize Stalin for a new generation:

Stalin acted ‘entirely rationally’ in executing and imprisoning millions of people in the Gulags, a controversial new Russian teaching manual claims.

Fifty-five years after the Soviet dictator died, the latest guide for teachers to promote patriotism among the Russian young said he did what he did to ensure the country’s modernisation.

The manual, titled A History of Russia, 1900-1945, will form the basis of a new state-approved text book for use in schools next year.

It seems to follow an attempt backed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to re-evaluate Stalin’s record in a more positive light.

Critics have taken exception, however, to numerous excerpts, which they say are essentially attempts to whitewash Stalin’s crimes.


Historians believe up to 20 million people perished as a result of his actions – more than the six million killed during Hitler’s genocide of the Jews.

Now the new teaching manual is attempting to tell a generation of Russian schoolchildren that Stalin acted rationally.


The manual informs teachers that the Great Terror of the 1930s came about because Stalin ‘did not know who would deal the next blow, and for that reason he attacked every known group and movement, as well as those who were not his allies or of his mindset.’

It stresses to teachers that ‘it is important to show that Stalin acted in a concrete historical situation’ and that he acted ‘entirely rationally – as the guardian of a system, as a consistent supporter of reshaping the country into an industrialised state.’


The controversial manual is produced by the country’s leading school book publishers Prosveshenije, a state-supported company that was a monopoly supplier of classroom texts in the Soviet era, and appears to be returning to that role.


Alexander Kamensky, head of the history department at the Russia State University for the Humanities, said the manual was, ‘sadly,’ a sign that teaching history in schools has become ‘an ideological instrument.’

But it seems to echo Putin’s remarks to a group of history teachers in June 2007 when he said while Stalin’s purges were one of the darkest periods of the country’s history, ‘others cannot be allowed to impose a feeling of guilt on us.’

An earlier manual called Stalin an ‘effective manager’.

Read the rest of the article

With this being taught in Ukrainian schools, as well as erections of Stalin busts in the country it seems that a new Soviet Union is in the works.

Victory Day is no celebration for Ukraine (Updated)

Yesterday was the celebration of Victory Day:

May 9 is the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II, a holiday called “Victory Day” in most countries of the former Soviet Union. But Ukrainians had a profoundly different experience of the war. Along with the Belarusians, they suffered the greatest losses of any country during the war, as both the German and Soviet armies passed through their land twice in advance and in retreat.

Yale University historian Timothy Snyder has written that had the Holocaust not occurred, Nazi Germany’s treatment of Soviet prisoners of war would likely be seen as the greatest war crime of the 20th century.

But the Nazis weren’t the first to use hunger as a weapon of mass destruction in Ukraine. Less than a decade earlier, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin had starved millions of Ukrainian peasants into submission because they’d refused to work on collective farms. In 1932 and ’33, Ukrainian villages and cities were filled up with the corpses of men, women and children.

“And after this, the Ukrainian peasantry have no opportunity as to wait for liberator. Such liberator they consider Hitler. Thats why Hitler so easy take Ukraine.”

Vladislav Grinevich is a historian at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. He says a lot of Ukrainians desperately wanted out of the Soviet Union. After the famine, the Ukrainians didnt want to fight for Stalin. Many deserted the Red Army in droves or surrendered willingly to the Germans.

“And very many Ukrainians thought that Hitler liberated Ukraine from Stalin through – but Hitler was not better, maybe in some sense worse for Ukrainians than Stalin.”

During the occupation, the Nazis obliterated tens of thousands of villages, starved the residents of Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, and deported more than two million civilians – mostly women and children – to work as forced laborers in Germany and Austria.

“It was not a very simple choice for Ukrainians which army to serve.”

Ukraine lost one-sixth of its entire population during the war. Historian Vladislav Grinevich says in the end the war was a Victory for Stalin but not for Ukrainians. And tomorrow’s Victory Day holiday, he says, should be a reminder that the great patriotic war wasnt so much a heroic event as a collective tragedy.
In Moscow yesterday, Russia’s Victory Day celebrations included troops from four NATO countries for the first time:

Russia’s Victory Day ceremonies held Sunday in Moscow included troops from four NATO countries for the first time.

About 1,000 soldiers from the United States, Britain, France and Poland marched alongside Russian troops through Red Square to mark the 65th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

“Today at this solemn parade, the soldiers of Russia, the states of the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] and the anti-Hitler coalition march together,” President Dmitry Medvedev said in his address to the troops.

In the week leading up to Victory Day, Medvedev several times raised Russia’s frequent complaint that other countries denigrate or misconstrue the Soviet Union’s contribution to the Second World War, in which more than 26 million Soviets are estimated to have died, including more than 8.5 million soldiers.

But he mentioned the issue only in passing on Sunday and the address reflected his aim of reducing Russia’s confrontational image.

Last year Russia passed a law to outlaw the so-called ‘falsification’ of history, in attempt to criticize accounts of Red Army crimes on the march to Berlin; assertions by the Baltic countries and others in Eastern Europe that Soviet forces came as occupiers as much as liberators; any suggestion that Stalin’s Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were anything but complete opposites and bitter enemies.
Meanwhile Russia wasted no time in politicizing the event to urge Ukraine to join it’s neo-Soviet Union:

Russia urges Ukraine to cooperate in the comprehensive consolidation of the potential of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

This position was expressed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev who chairs the Council of the Heads of Member States of the CIS during the informal CIS summit in Moscow on May 8.

“We are prepared for the closest cooperation with Ukraine in the business of comprehensive consolidation of the potential of the Commonwealth of Independent States,” said Medvedev having congratulated Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on joining the Council of the Heads of Member States of the CIS.

As Ukrainian News earlier reported, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on May 8 was on a one-day visit to Moscow to take part in an informal summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Why is Russia trying so hard to impose it’s own version of history, where disagreement is punishable by law?

On the one hand is the nostalgia of the elderly, some of whom view the social security and superficial orderliness of Soviet society during the Stalin years. On the other hand is the knowledge that has now come to light in Russia itself of Stalin’s treachery and paranoia. One of the factors that increased Soviet human and material casualties in the “Great Patriotic War” was Stalin’s misplaced trust in the Germans that led to the German Soviet Friendship Treaty of 1939. This left the USSR totally unprepared for the German invasion of the USSR in 1941. The USSR had made no provisions for German treachery and suffered heavy losses in the months that followed the German invasion.

Additionally, the Soviet military leadership was badly depleted by Stalin’s purges. The Soviet victory was not only a case of having overcome the Nazis but of having won in spite of Stalin’s paranoia.

An honest rendering of World War Two history would have to include Josef Stalin. But it would also have to include the millions he killed due to his unchecked paranoia.

Much work needs to be done to undo the myths of this ‘Great Patriotic War‘:
Over 3,000 tanks were involved in a single battle at Prokhorovka on July 12, 1943, when the Germans mounted their last offensive on the Eastern Front at the battle of Kursk Salient. Russia and Belarus have equated their contemporary states directly with the war victory. Ukraine was ambivalent until the recent election victory of Viktor Yanukovych, who has opted to ignore the fact that thousands of Ukrainians fought against the return of the Soviet occupants between 1944 and 1953.
In these early weeks 400,000 Red Army soldiers perished and 280,000 were captured. Despite having forces comparable to or superior to those of the German Wehrmacht, he continues, the Red Army fled. “No such example is to be found in all the theatres of World War II.”
The surviving defenders of the Brest Fortress were arrested once the Red Army liberated German prison camps and deported to the Far East, where most remained until the late 1950s. The Brest Hero Fortress, as well as several Hero Cities, was not recognized until the 1970s when the Brezhnev regime elevated the war to its contemporary propagandistic level.
But it has become impossible in Russia in particular for historians to criticize the official narrative of the war. The result is a version of events that bears little relation to reality and where memories are only valued if they conform to the prevailing line.

So few know Ukraine’s role in World War 2:

On September 1, 1939 Germany invaded Poland to begin WWII.  According to the Nazis, Ukrainians were listed as sub-humans along with the Jews. At this time 40 million Ukrainians lived in the land Hitler decided was to be used as the new living space of the German nation. On June 22, 1941 Hitler began his “drive to the East” by invading Ukraine on his way to Moscow.

In line with Stalin’s scorched earth policy, the Russian army made sure to destroy a large amount of Ukrainian land and resources before they were taken over by the German army. Since the government of the Ukrainian SSR fled the country, it could not be considered a collaborator of Germany. Ukraine was instead occupied by a variety of national forces.

There were attempts to establish an independent Ukrainian government, but the Germans put them down and their leaders were arrested. The Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), founded in 1942, numbered about 200,000 men and women. They fought both the German and Russian armies in an attempt to win independence.

Germany’s first plan was to kill all men in Ukraine over 15, but then they decided instead to work them to death while supporting the German war effort. All Ukrainians were forced to wear a badge, identifying them at all times. This process allowed them to be abused by any German at any time. The German army imposed starvation rations and the most primitive accommodations. Many Ukrainians were deported to Germany to perform slave labor. Some died in Allied bombings, and only a few survivors were released back to their homeland.

According to this book, Ukrainians lost proportionately more people in WWII than any other European country, although the exact number was never established.  The best estimates are that approximately 10 million citizens were killed between 1939 and 1945, as well as about 600,000 Ukrainian Jews. When the Nazis left Ukraine in 1943 and 1944 they destroyed everything the Soviets had left behind in 1941.

In Ukraine, however, the war did not end in 1945:

It lasted well into the 1950s as Moscow sought to establish its rule over the parts of Ukraine where Bolshevik rule was not welcome. The Soviet Union had the Red Army and the NKVD. Liberation-minded Ukrainians had the UPA guerrilla army and support of the local population. Veterans of all these formations live side-by-side in independent Ukraine today. And every year around this time, the question is asked: Is their reconciliation possible?

Russian Textbooks Attempt To Rewrite History [Article]

While last week we brought you National Holodomor Awareness week, disturbing news of history repeating comes out of Russia, courtesy the Times Online:

In Russian schools, something even more troubling appears to be happening. They call it “positive history” and the man behind it is Putin. In 2007, the former secret police chief told a conference of Russian educationists that the country needed a more patriotic history. Putin condemned teachers for having “porridge in their heads”, attacked some history textbook authors for taking foreign money — “naturally they are dancing the polka ordered by those who pay them” — and announced that new history textbooks were on their way. Within weeks, a new law was passed giving the state powers to approve and to disallow history textbooks for schools.

What does Igor Dolutsky, the author of a history textbook that has been dropped by the Kremlin, make of “positive history”? “It’s an appalling idea which hinders proper teaching in schools. School history should not create patriots, it should teach children to think. Putin’s task is to rule a state edging towards totalitarianism.”

Aleksandr Filippov is the Positive History Man. He has a long, mournful face and the air of a defrocked Orthodox priest. His voice is sorrowful but the message is upbeat: “It is wrong to write a textbook that will fill the children who learn from it with horror and disgust about their past and their people. A generally positive tone for the teaching of history will build optimism and self-assurance in the growing young generation and make them feel as if they are part of their country’s bright future. A history in which there is good and bad, things to be proud of and things that are regrettable. But the general tone for a school textbook should still be positive.”

It is when you analyse the Kremlinapproved “positive history” book in detail that the clock chimes 13. In March 1933 a fearless reporter and fluent Russian speaker, Gareth Jones, evaded the Moscow censors and went to the Soviet Ukraine and southern Russia, from where he reported that “millions are dying in the villages”. The “Great Famine” deaths were caused by Stalin’s forced collectivisation, grain seizures and mass deportations of peasant farmers. Malcolm Muggeridge declared it a man-made famine and Arthur Koestler wrote of seeing “horrible infants with enormous, wobbling heads, stick-like limbs, swollen, pointed bellies . . .”

Back in Moscow, the Great Famine was denied by Stalin’s stooge on The New York Times, Walter Duranty. Two years later, Jones was shot dead in China, some say by Stalin’s secret police, the NKVD.

One estimate is that four million died in Ukraine and southern Russia during the Great Famine, another puts the figure at ten million. No one counted. The unnecessary deaths of millions were airbrushed from history. So how does the 2009 “positive history” textbook cover this? It dedicates 83 pages to Stalin’s industrialisation — and one paragraph to the famine. The scales are loaded one way, to the benefit of Stalin’s reputation.

Read the rest of the article

It’s a very worth-reading article and goes on with other horrific examples – lies about the Soviets not starting World War 2 with the Nazis, minimalizing the Great Terror and more.

[The Times Online]

Russians trying to shift the spotlight away from the Holodomor

Next month the National Day of Remembrance for the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor is approaching, and Russian media outlets are pushing a story about one of its researchers finding a ‘Holodomor’ in the USA at same time as it was happening in Ukraine!  The article is full of US criticism:

While America lectures Russia on the 1932-33 famine in Ukraine, Russian historian Boris Borisov asks what became of over seven million American citizens who is appeared from US population records in the 1930s.

The U.S. Congress added fuel to the fire by adopting resolutions nearly every year blaming the Soviet government for alleged staged famine in the 1930s in Ukraine. The first resolution came in 1988, 50 years after the events described. The current members of Congress wonder about the following, and I quote, “people in the  government were aware of what was going on, but did not do anything to help the starving”.

Read more…

The article offers little to counter these claims – the only flimsy counter arguments are made second-hand through the researcher himself.  Not surprisingly he can counter them!  Few explanations are given for his methods, but attacks on American values dominate the article and another one it links to.

There are some major flaws in this research.  Boris is making his facts, comparing 1990’s Russia with 1930’s USA:

As I was doing comparative research of the American Great Depression in the 1930s, and the Great Depression of the 1990s in Russia, I grew interested in the social dimension of the tragedy.
Let me quote some figures, if you don’t mind – demonstrating how other countries reacted to the similar situation. If you believe that four or six million people is a terrible number, let me quote this: male mortality rate in Russia: 810,000 in 1984; 1,226,000 in 1994 – whereas the population is the same. In other words, as  compared with 1984, the year 1996 had an additional number of 416,000 dead males. You have to add females and children to that figure.

Nothing in the article says he’s taken into account the medical and technological advances that have occurred in the 60 years separating the two.  Also noticeably absent is any set of credentials, besides ‘Russian historian’.  Could he be just an actorHas this tactic ever been used by Russians before?