I made a comment under the post which I’ve decided to turn into a post of my own, because I am genuinely baffled here. From what I have seen thus far, and the account above can only serve to reinforce this view, the separatists in east Ukraine are a bunch of violent, armed thugs accountable to nobody (anybody remember MH17?) who have taken it upon themselves to dish out arbitrary punishments to anyone suspected of being against them, operating with impunity and the full support of the Russian government. And these people claim to represent the ethnic Russians who wish to secede from Kiev’s rule.
Is this seriously what Ukraine’s Russians want, these guys in charge? I can understand why the thugs want it, but where are the middle classes, the educated Russians, in all this? Do they honestly believe these roaming gangs of bandits, looking like extras from Mad Max 2, have their best interests in mind? Or are they as horrified by what is going on as everyone else, but too scared to speak out?
I know a lot will turn a blind eye to the separatists’ methods because they will genuinely see the Ukrainian government as bringing war to their neighbourhoods, but I find it hard to believe that all ethnic Russians will apportion the blame in this manner. And there is not enough of an ethnic, religious, historical, or cultural divide to generate the hatred that would cause thousands of educated, otherwise decent people to support marauding bands of armed thugs shooting their erstwhile friends and neighbours.
I find the whole thing bewildering. Personally I think the idea of Scottish independence as presented is laughable (but good luck to them, if that’s what they want), but at least they have leaders who appear to be politicians. What the east Ukrainians are doing is the equivalent of the Scottish independence movement being led by armed gangs of Glasgow football hooligans on a giant rampage. Was Kievan rule really so bad that the Ukraine’s Russians see this as an improvement?
The closest parallel I can think of is the Catholics/Republicans in Northern Ireland. Their independence movement was to a large extent led by murderous thugs (albeit better presented than Ukraine’s equivalents), and their lower ranks enjoyed beating the shit out of anyone they suspected of disloyalty along with running protection rackets and other criminal enterprises. Yet despite their thuggish violence they still enjoyed the support of much of the ordinary Catholic population.
So perhaps it is the same with Ukraine’s Russians, and they are hopeful that these men will secure them a place in the Russian Federation after which Moscow will take over and the local headcases and Ossetian mercenaries will quietly pack up and go home. But I’m interested to know where are the educated, semi-respectable (at least on camera) leaders of the separatist movement, the Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness? Waiting in the wings in Russia? Who knows?
But for now, I guess they’re happy with a bunch of shitfaced hooligans who 6 months ago were drinking beer in the local park at 10am.