A comment, published in Russian on the Open Left web site in Russia. Translated into English and published by PeopleAndNature.
In the two days that have passed since the tragic events in Odessa, we have heard dozens of versions of what happened. And all of these versions have been, one way or another, linked to the search for a “hidden hand” that sent two armed groups of demonstrators to clash with each other, and pushed one of them into the slaughterhouse at the House of Trade Unions.
Most of these versions – from those of official Kyiv to those of Russian propagandists – point to the local police, who in a conscious and organised manner held back from any attempt whatsoever to prevent the mounting violence.
These versions of events as a rule then offer an explanatory “scenario”, that works in favour of one or other side: Yulia Timoshenko [former Ukrainian prime minister] will sabotage the 25 May [presidential] elections [in Ukraine] in order to ensure her own victory in future; the Kyiv government will intimidate the “separatists” and pin responsibility for a bloodbath on their supporters; the Russian government will get more than convincing arguments to discredit supporters of the [Kyiv] “junta”; the [former Ukrainian president] Yanukovich clan will push Russia into open [military] intervention.
In a way, each of these versions sound convincing to us – Russian and Ukrainian people – because we know that none of the forces mentioned would stop at carrying out any crime in order to achieve their ends. This readiness to make victims out of one’s own citizens was always a necessary condition for selecting members of the post-Soviet elite. In that elite, there’s no-one, no-one at all, who is not morally capable of mass murder.
But whatever might have been the initial intention of whoever organised the Odessa tragedy, there will be – or, more likely, already is – another result: the logic of civil war has been let loose, and it is now almost impossible to stop it. For the last month – with its expectation of military operations, occupation of buildings, hostage taking, local skirmishes in Donbass – many people nonetheless retained the timid hope that the whole process was being managed somehow by somebody, and that that meant that it could be stopped. The principal basis for such expectations was not only the will of Putin, the western powers or the Kiev government – but the fact that the majority of Ukrainians were simply not prepared to kill each other.
But we need to remember from the not-so-distant history of the 1990s that feeling of that awful crossing-over of a border: friendly neighbours, “soviet people”, who over decades had forgotten how to divide each other into “enemies” and “friends”, suddenly, within a few days, lose any human characteristics and become absolute beasts, the possible existence of which was known only from patriotic films about the fascist invasion.
That was how, after the question of the “state language” was raised, the war in Transdniestr started. That was how Serbs and Croats reached a point of no return, at that notorious football match in Split. All this is too well known not to understand that the losers in these wars are all the participants, without exception. Revenge for the first victims just produces new ones – and provides the basis for new and just acts of retaliation. This is the most frightful result of the Odessa events: for both sides, they have made any vengeance, even the most brutal, justified and inevitable.
In the flames that erupted at the House of Trade Unions it was not hard to see the depths of barbarism into which Ukraine could easily sink. Depths, the extent of which seem not to be fully understood by a single one of the bastards who choreographed the clashes on the 2nd of May.
Not so long ago, the demand to “remain human” would have sounded like a completely abstract desire. Now, after the Odessa slaughter, it has turned into a political programme.
5 replies on “After Odessa, “remaining human” is a political programme.”
You sure don’t look to be interested in sweeping the nazi scum off the streets, but I’ll bet you folks can tie-dye a mean t-shirt.
Such thoughtful comment…
Boris Kagarlitsky: The ashes of Odessa
By Boris Kagarlitsky, translated for Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal by Renfrey Clarke
May 7, 2014 — Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal — In the House of Trade Unions in Odessa on May 2 more people died than over several days of fighting in the Donbass, though in Kramatorsk the same day government forces also excelled themselves, killing 10 unarmed local residents who had tried to block the path of armoured vehicles.
It is obvious to everyone that the catastrophe in Odessa has become a turning point in the history of the civil war that began when Ukraine government forces attacked Slavyansk and other cities that had raised the flag of the Donetsk republic.
Inevitably, the ferocity on both sides will now increase; escalating violence and the splitting of the country are unavoidable. But it is not only in Ukraine that the events of May 2 have represented a watershed for public opinion. This applies no less to Russia as well.
Full article at http://links.org.au/node/3841
It is reassuring that Mr Karglitsky has realized he should refrain from commenting on the Ukrainian question and the national question — at least until he does some more reading. I would suggest he start with Ivan Dzuiba
In the days leading up to the Odessa massacre the Kyiv Post observed a series of attacks by “football fans” on anti-government encampments in Kharkov and Donetsk and, maybe other cities in eastern Ukraine. Studying the dynamics involved in the attacks on these anti-government camps sheds, I believe, some light on what unfolded in Odessa on May 2nd. According the Kyiv Post, pro-Kiev football fans, including Right Sector militants, attacked the anti-government encampment/occupation in Kharkov. Judging from this account the “football fans” succeeded in seizing control of the anti-government camp and, in the process, brutalized many pro-Russian activists. A day or two after this attack pro-Kiev “football fans” staged a Ukrainian ‘unity’ march in Donetsk that appeared to be headed for the main anti-government encampment there. This time anti-Kiev activists confronted the football fans before they could reach the Donetsk encampment. The counter offensive by anti-Kiev activists apparently caught the “football fans” off guard and forced the pro-Kiev marchers to beat a hasty retreat. The Right Sector militants marching with the football fans no doubt were embarrassed and outraged at the defeat their side suffered in Donetsk.
It seems quite plausible to me, though I of course don’t know for sure, that word of events in Kharkov and Donetsk led at least some of the anti-Kiev activists to reach the conclusion that going on the offensive against the “football fans” in Odessa represented the best hope of avoiding a repeat of the Kharkov experience. This helps explain the attacks on the Ukrainian Unity march that happened before it reached the anti-government encampment in Odessa. I certainly believe that the anti-government camp in Odessa had good reason to fear what would happen to them if the “football fans”, which included Right Sector militants, reached the pro-Russian activists based on recent events in Kharkov. Under these circumstances it seems to me unreasonable for the anti-Kiev camp to not conclude that they were in the cross hairs of the Ukrainian “unity” marchers. Unfortunately for them, and all of the Ukraine, the struggle did not unfold as the one in Donetsk did.
The military attacks that the Ukrainian Army and the Ukrainian National Guard were already conducting against opposition forces in eastern and southern Ukraine couldn’t help but embolden the commitment of the “football” fans to try to silence the pro-Russian camp by resorting to storm trooper style acts of repression. The Yatsenyuk government bares direct responsibility for the tragedy in Odessa as a result of its enthusiastic embrace of violent repression as a tool for silencing anti-Maiden opposition to it.
P.S. There are plenty of links between the Ukraine and Louisiana that are of some significance to what is unfolding in the eastern European country. Louisiana native, and leading Bayou State Neo Nazi, David Duke apparently taught American history courses at the “MAUP” University in Kiev. All I can say about this is that the kids who took courses from David Duke in Kiev are in need of some serious reeducation about the United States. Also Mary Landrieu, the senior U.S. Senator from Louisiana, is leading the charge in Washington to pressure European nations into turning to the US for gas and oil needs that now met by Russia. The oligarchy that runs Louisiana could teach even Yanukovych a thing or two about how to engage in corrupt government practices and get away with it.
Workers of the World Unite! Workers of Ukraine Unite!