Category Archives: Dagens Nyheter

“Mortality among the opposition” in Ukraine “is high”!

The murder of Boris Nemtsov right outside the Kremlin walls in Moscow was rightfully a very well covered story in Swedish media. Dagens Nyheter reported extensively and continuously for weeks, culminating during the large manifestations in connection with the funeral.

DN didn’t make too much effort to prevent readers from believing that Vladimir Putin had something to do with the killing. In a key editorial the paper declared that Putin’s name forever would be tied to this murder, even if any hard evidence for his involvement never may appear.

One should perhaps expect that DN’s moral outrage had something to do with the abomination of political assassinations as such, but not so, evidently. The important thing was neither the victim nor the principle; it just had to do with the alleged perpetrator, or at best, the immoral atmosphere created by the dictatorial leadership in Russia.

Evidence to that came with the political assassinations in Ukraine, not one but ten (so far), some of them possibly disguised as suicides. Among the victims are former prominent politicians in the opposition against the Kiev government: three PMs, a governor, a prosecutor, a police chief, a mayor, a journalist etc. In seven of the cases the police quickly stated that the deaths were suicides (even one where the victim was shot in the head – from behind).

It took some months for DN to even notice these deaths of unwanted political figures at all, in sharp contrast to the Nemtsov case. If there hadn’t been so many alternative media today covering the events, DN had most likely chosen to forget them altogether. But now they had to make some noise.

As to indicate its low interest DN didn’t appoint any of their own reporters to the job but just copy/pasted a short text from the news agency TT (as much biased as the rest of the media). The first sentence reads: “Mortality among the opposition to the new government in Ukraine is extremely high” (a jaunty remark, of course unthinkable in the case of the Nemtsov murder). Ukraine’s president is quoted as saying that it’s all “a deliberate action which plays into the hands of our enemies”, obviously pointing at Russia.

A foreign policy analyst in the Swedish Defense Research Institute just follows up on Poroshenko by referring to Ukrainian experts, “speculating that Russia lies behind the murders, aiming at destabilizing the situation in Ukraine before a possible upcoming military offensive in the east…” What the “expert” should have done to earn his salary would have been a plausibility test on that claim. It’s true that the Nemtsov murder had a destabilizing effect in that it deepened the critical attention on the already vilified Russian leadership. But there is no equivalence to that in the Ukrainian case.

The very idea that Russia would send agents to Ukraine to murder their own friends there, just to discredit the Ukrainian Nazis, is indeed far-fetched beyond the improbable. These Nazis have already discredited themselves to the extreme by killing innocent fellow citizens in Donbas, in the most unscrupulous and cruel way, without western media reacting significantly. Russia knew, as well as everybody else with eyes and a brain, that this apparent western cover-up would not change a bit by a few more Nazi murders.

Another Swedish “expert” prefers the suicide hypothesis, according to TT. The victims were namely facing criminal charges of different kinds, probably politically motivated in accordance with recent Ukrainian principles. This expert thus thinks that sane people, threatened with prison sentences, would desire to kill themselves instead of simply move to Russia with their families, where they would have been taken well care of. It seems as if the brains of these experts stop functioning normally as soon as the issues involve Russia. They are civil servants, paid by the public, engaged in what amounts to outright political propaganda, not research.

Not that I’m surprised. Nor disillusioned. I had no illusions to start with.

Swedish media on Russia – cynicism defined

I’ve mentioned our most prestigious daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter quite some times on these pages. DN is a kind of hillbilly version of New York Times, but still pompous and condescending, obviously all too aware of its local significance. Today DN (of course) is leading this country’s witch hunt on Russia and Putin.

DNs editor in chief – Peter Wolodarski – is a fairly young man. He had just become a teenager when Soviet Communism disappeared, yet he reiterates almost verbatim the slander, insinuations, deliberate misinterpretations and all the other characteristics of the (first) Cold War propaganda.

Especially amusing was when he some time ago wrote an editorial piece condemning countries that obstruct international cooperation by regularly vetoing Security Council resolutions, referring specifically to Russia. Now being 74 years old I lived through that period with daily reports on Russian (Soviet) vetoes. They really happened, and the fact that United States had almost the entire UN in its pocket was not considered a proper excuse for Soviet vetoes.

But this is the funny thing: during Wolodarski’s whole life United States have issued by far the largest number of vetoes in the Security Council, no other country even in shouting distance. What happened was that colonialism started to disintegrate in the 1960s, and US’ absolute dominance in UN thus seeped away. So from the mid 60s US took over the lead in the not very honorable competition of veto production, and have kept it since.

Wolodarski’s gaffe is in a way understandable. As long as Soviet provided the vetoes the topic was prioritized news, highlighted in every western media. But when US took over the leading role in issuing UN vetoes the subject immediately lost all media interest. That’s how propaganda works, nothing surprising about that. Wolodarski just copied what he must have read in retrospect, not aware of his present. He fell victim of the propaganda he himself is part of.

DN today is an echo of its earlier version from the darkest years of the last Cold War, the 1950s up to the Vietnam War (not that the Cold War ended then, it just became somewhat moderated). Russia is depicted as a dictatorship ruled by some kind of new Stalin, intimidating Europe and the entire world. Sweden is threatened and must greatly strengthen its military forces. Putin is naturally guilty of most atrocities in Russia, everything from incarceration of pop singers to murdering politicians and journalists. Now DN of course has some journalistic ethics, so accusations like that are printed just as insinuations, though with an unequivocal certainty.

I’ve just read the latest of PW’s weekly epistles on Putin’s lies and Russia’s threats. He writes about the country’s unwarranted feeling of being encircled by western powers. For PW this feeling is “somewhat paranoid”, considering “how many hands have been stretched out to Russia after the Soviet collapse”. (One is not supposed to laugh.)

What did those “many hands” really do? First they helped destroy the Russian production system thoroughly, throwing the country back to the third world from which it came in 1917, creating a social catastrophe of gigantic proportions leading to the death of ten million people, mostly young men.

Secondly those hands helped a few former “communist” thugs to “legally” steal everything of value in the country, further deepening the suffering ordinary Russian endured.

Thirdly the West did what was needed to cover the whole thing up. This has been a success in the “democracies” where one of the worst social catastrophes of all times is completely wiped out of history. It has also left westerners ignorant of Putin’s role in reversing that collapse, thus also unaware of the main reason for his popularity in Russia. We may choose to close our eyes and ears, but the Russians will never forget the capitalist catastrophe of the 90s, not as long as they live and not in generations to come. And they will remember who passably put thing together again.

Russia vs. Citizens United – corruption vs. supercorruption

My paper Dagens Nyheter (Daily News) has an editorial writer who is specialized in writing childish thinking in a causal and appealing style. Now he recently went to the cinema to watch the much praised Russian film Leviathan. His mission was thus to concoct an editorial piece combining his artistic impressions with the more notorious critique of Russian command politics and corruption.

The film obviously draws attention to corruption on the daily basis in Russia. According to my reporter the main character in the story has a dispute with a mayor over some property, and since his adversary has the justice apparatus in his hand the hero is rejected with his complaints everywhere. It seems like a traditional Kafka scenario. This is naturally not very gratifying for Russia, so my informer – the editorial writer – has to show how the officials have tried to hamper the movie in different ways.

It turned out not to be very easy. The film maker Andrey Zvyagintsev was already famous for earlier films, such as his debut The Return, which won a number of awards at the Venice Film Festival in 2003, among numerous other honors. Thus Zvyagintsev was granted money by the Russian Ministry of Culture to make Leviathan. But this, says my informer, was before 2012 which Kremlinologists hold as an important year in Russian cultural decline. Thus it’s in the monolithic system’s expected spirit that the minister himself has criticized Leviathan for not having real heroes and for spitting at Russian politicians.

Then, on the other hand again, this despicable nomenklatura system nevertheless selected the film to represent Russia at the Academy Awards. As a reader one may be somewhat puzzled by the contradictory signals here. But that’s unnecessary, my informer is a master of his art and easily sort things out: We are just witnessing the typical Russian capriciousness! The art of Tautology is namely also on his repertoire, in this case to express a conclusion that becomes true under every possible circumstance.

There was probably very little corruption in Russia before 1990. Then in the following decade the country was completely devastated by the roller coaster called capitalism. The breakdown of social cohesion that followed unsurprisingly prepared the ground for everyday corruption, in the beginning as a means of mere survival. Russia is a country struggling its way up from the chaos it was dumped into in the 1990s. Since Vladimir Putin marked the turning point we may ask ourselves if our hatred of him means that we had preferred a Russia remaining in the third world.

Small scale corruption is a dear subject in my paper. It could of course be a coincidence that such fraud provides the convenient weapons to use against countries and political systems we find most interesting to attack. Anyway, certain kind of corruption, incredibly worse, is typically and almost totally ignored.

I made a search in Dagens Nyheter’s online archive for the concept “Citizens United”, only to find just a couple of mentions and only one short description of that fundamental legitimizing of corruption on a gigantic scale. In Russia one can buy mayors and officers, in USA the already extremely powerful ultra rich and the corporations can buy the entire political monitoring system all the way to the very top. Alas, to survive morally in the West requires a well developed ability to become a hypocrite, that’s for sure.

Sweden is not at all innocent in these respects, even if the amounts of money are smaller. We were for many years criticized by international organizations for having secret lists of contributors to the political parties. Now some kind of compromise has been reached and the debate is silenced. But following the usual pattern we could expect to have the US system of legalized corruption on a large scale here in a few decades. Or – preferably – the US system has come to such an extreme that something radical has to be done there. Those who live will see.

Russia wants united Ukraine – the West doesn’t care?

Russia created a problem for western biased Kremlinologists by submitting a resolution to the UN Security Council calling for the Council to reaffirm “its full respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine”, unanimously adopted on 17 February this year. This initiative contradicts the very basis for mainstream western propaganda, which requires Russian intentions to subdue Ukraine through a war of aggression, even aiming at territorial gains.

During the former cold war every benign signal from the Russians were easily interpreted as a form of insidious and diabolic tactic with hidden, evil intentions. This western habit of reversing messages is no longer feasible to the same extent. There are too many complementary sources of information and debate today, first of all on the ever growing Internet, but also in the mainstream.

It’s interesting in this context to follow the very mainstream New York Times, whose reporting and commentary on the whole is tilted towards anti-Russian views. Still NYT has some objective news reporting never seen in Swedish media, for instance from areas in Ukraine suffering from the shelling by Kiev forces. The tidy Readers Commentaries are often appealing on articles about the Ukraine conflict. In mostly very articulate posts people in general have a much broader and more enlightened view on the subject than the article itself reflects, often with appreciation for the Russian point of view.

What I can find in the NYT online archive, the Security Council resolution was reported only as a ten-line Reuter’s note. Its Swedish analogue, Dagens Nyheter, had a one-line misrepresentation of the resolution in an editorial otherwise venomously despising Russia. It seems that silencing is the only tactic left when the old cold war technique of turning benign into malignant no longer holds. But silencing won’t work either in this new, multifaceted media world.

What basis has western propaganda media had for their view of an aggressive Russia wanting war to subdue Ukraine? It seems that they have tried to conjure up a picture of the old communist wickedness under which to hide and repress everything important that Russia signals. For an un-blinded eye Russia didn’t look extremely pleased with the armed uprising in Donbas. Putin made remarks about Ukrainian unity early on, disavowing the not very happy rebel leaders. As events evolved Russia naturally couldn’t remain idle as Kiev let Nazi voluntaries loose in killing Russian speaking people, and was forced to engage in support of the separatists.

Throughout the whole process Putin and Lavrov has repeatedly demanded negotiations to solve the crisis, something never highlighted in western media. The core interest here has been to speculate (in the old Kremlinologist spirit) about what Putin “really” has in mind, as opposed to what he says. This is an occupation that must have taken scholars, politicians and other pundits man-years of fruitless work.

A criminal investigation starts by looking for a motive. Has Russia anything to gain from a war of aggression towards a neighboring country? As we have seen: then have everything to lose! So why did the war start? The basic analysis is made by Professor John Mearsheimer in Foreign Affairs, who demonstrates unequivocally that the West created the prerequisites through 25 years of systematic provocations against Russia (spending 5 bn dollars, according to Mrs. Nuland).

The problem with Crimea, a natural part of Russia with mostly Russian inhabitants and a large Russian military base, should have been solved 25 years ago by a proactive West. But that was not even considered since the single goal was to cripple the former Russian dominion as much as at all possible. The purpose has obviously been, not to solve any of Russia’s problems, but to create as many as time and money allowed.

It’s a hope for the future and for peace that so many people see through the western propaganda machinery. And it’s inspiring to read the commentary sections in all sorts of papers. What people write there is not picked up from mainstream media; it requires critical thinking of one’s own, a gratifying phenomenon that seems to be spreading. That’s why Kerry and others are talking about “information war”, and that war will in the long run be won by reason, insight and compassion.

EU information war against Russia – a lying contest?

“EU readies action plan to counter Russian media ‘disinformation’” says RT.com Thursday, referring to leaked documents. My “anti-disinformation” paper Dagens Nyheter obviously intercepted the leak and started the counter-attack already on Wednesday. They didn’t assign their sharpest pen for the task so the different lines of thought in his article were not necessarily consistent with one another.

The brave thinker had incidentally found one brilliant crux in the apparent success for Russian propagandists, who namely have discovered the weak spot in western societies: our inclination for the postmodern fantasy that there are no facts, just different narratives. That the absolute truth belongs with western media is obviously an axiom and was not even mentioned. Instead a number of Russian false narratives were lined up. Some examples:

It’s a lie that Russia didn’t plan the occupation of Crimea. It’s a lie that Russian regular troops haven’t been commanded to fight in Ukraine. It’s a lie that the Kiev government ordered the shoot-down of the Malaysian passenger plane. And the scribbler is apparently cocksure that he owns the truth, though he has not a shred of evidence to support it with. He doesn’t even suggest that there is any need whatsoever to supply evidence, or even reasonable arguments.

And this is the center of the real postmodern fog we move around in:

– We “are convinced at heart” that Putin has evil intentions.
– We “know” that Russia is waging a war of aggression on Ukraine.
– We “are certain” that Putin and Russian media are lying about probably all crucial events.
– It took the Swedish foreign minister two hours to definitely “establish” that MH17 was shot down by pro-Russian rebels assisted by Russians.
– Although a steadily increasing number of factors point at the Ukrainian Air Force as the perpetrator, it’s still “self evident” that the Russians are to blame.
– It’s “of course” Putin that lies behind the killings of Nemtsov and the other journalists who met the same fate.
– And if it isn’t Putin personally it’s his “spirit”, and therefor “his name will forever be tied to these murders” as another journalist in the same paper put it.

With their almost pathological capacity of self-justification our journalists cannot even dream of having to prove anything of what they claim. And conversely it’s presupposed that everything that “the enemy” says is a lie, sometimes even when proof is evident.

But the main strategy of monitoring the “truth” in western media is to avoid, repress or silence everything that speaks in favor of “the enemy”, but the more meticulously sort out and magnify every little enemy aberration to be found.

“We are the truth!” is our media credo (with divine inspiration); don’t have us provide any proof of what we claim!

The author I’ve mentioned had the guts to call on – everybody else supposedly – to “pursue the truth” as a means to counter the Russian “Information war”!!

At this point I just had to go for a walk in the sunshine.

Political assassinations in Russia – and Sweden

Finally Dagens Nyheter got to – almost – say that Putin is a killer. But, all right, even if he didn’t personally order the assassination of Boris Nemtsov it was a “product of the Russian system” with the indisputable purpose to “hit the democratic opposition with a devastating blow”. DN “knows” everything without any knowledge or shred of evidence, in this case as in the downing of MH17, the snipers in Maidan, the Russian invasion, Putin’s intentions and everything else. This flagship in Swedish media thus gladly leaves behind the basic journalistic ethics that calls for factuality in reporting.

One particularly interesting thing DN “knows” is that Putin hasn’t changed his “perception that Ukraine does not have a real legitimacy as an independent country”. This is DNs statement not many days after Russia submitted a resolution to the UN Security Council with the precise call for Ukraine’s unity and national integrity. The resolution was passed, which indeed wasn’t highlighted in DN.

Even in New York Times a reporter expressed some astonishment over this Russian standpoint in UN of Ukrainian unity as if she had never heard of it, though Putin and Lavrov consistently have upheld the same view from the very beginning. They declared in words and showed in action that Russia had no intention of occupying southeastern Ukraine (at first to the obvious disappointment of the separatists).

But, OK, decent western democratic media cannot pay attention to men like those two. Instead they have dutifully published Yatsenjuk’s repeated assurances, groundless and obviously based on his own fantasies that Russia intended to conquer the entire Ukraine. NYTs reporter fell victim of western propaganda, DN hasn’t even noticed anything(?)

Sweden probably outscores Russia for the last 30 years when it comes to assassinations of high profile politicians relative to population. (I suppose we have to ask DN if this is a “product of the Swedish system” or not.) First we had the murder in 1986 of Prime Minister Olof Palme, as much lauded among poor people around the world as he was demonized by the “decent” bourgeoisie at home. The horrible slander and scorn Palme had to endure has no parallel in Swedish politics ever.

Ridiculous rumors about Palme spread like wildfire among the well-offs in Stockholm: he was mentally ill (for visiting his demented mother treated in a hospital), he was a drug addict (“my wife’s sister knows a doctor who treats him for that…”), he was a communist spy, he had extra-marital affairs etc. The fine people’s fantasies were limitless. The following caricature is one of the most benevolent made of him (the really horrible ones, endemic during his lifetime, seem to have disappeared from the Internet):

Palme

Many thought that the hate campaign had triggered someone to commit the murder. Suspicions flew in all directions (I’m quite sure that some believed Soviet Russia could have had a hand in it) and strangely detailed testimonies popped up from all over. The chief investigator followed a Kurdish trail, but choked on it and was replaced. Most popular among a growing number of amateur investigators was a police track, soon supported by a host of incidental “evidence”. And so it went on under intense media coverage. The case was never solved although some circumstances ultimately pointed at an alcoholic and thug, possibly hired by some other criminal.

Victim of the second high profile murder was Anna Lindh, stabbed by a mentally unstable man in 2003. She was also a Social Democrat, active Foreign Minister and much liked by her international colleagues. Any connections between the murderer and any outside monitors were never discovered, and everybody seemed pleased with that.

We have at least a third murder with political motives. A syndicalist, Anders Söderberg, was murdered by neo-Nazis in 1999 for disclosing one of their cronies (which made him lose his job). That makes three political assassinations in thirty years, which would be equivalent to 45 such murders in Russia in the same period. Some expert may pick the winner.

We will never know if there ultimately were political forces behind the murders of Palme and Lindh, and further speculations are pointless. In contrast our main newspaper, supposed to be the most serious, feels obviously free to speculate wildly on their preconceived stereotypes about Russian political murders.

It’s worth saying again: Apparently Vladimir Putin’s real crime in the eyes of DNs journalists and other western ideologues is that he put an end to the capitalist melt-down in Russia, stopped the genocide caused by the same capitalist roll-over, a genocide that claimed 10 million lives of which a majority were younger men leaving children and women fatherless and widows. It took harsh measures to reclaim a small part of the fortunes belonging to the people and stolen by a bunch of cunning apparatchiks. It’s not done with a tea party to passably rescue the complete wreck Russia was in the 1990s.

If some are to blame for the fact that Vladimir Putin is ruling Russia and not someone like Mahatma Gandhi it would be first of all Yeltsin, Gaidar and a group of American economists (with the Swede Anders Ã…slund). Boris Nemtsov was also a player on that team, certainly a reason for his low public acceptance rate now. These ruthless ideologues, purporting to implement “economic rules”, completely destroyed everything, wiped out half the industrial capacity and threw the country back to the third world from where it came in 1917. If our reactionary demagogues now dictating the paradigm had at least an ounce of empathy in their bodies, they would give Russia a minimum of leeway in its efforts to build a modern society again. How they might think that the confrontation they now play hard with will solve anything is a mystery.

“Land grabbing” Putin calls for a united Ukraine!

Let me start with a value judgment: Vladimir Putin is not that kind of leader I would like to see in my country, Sweden. From the image of him one gets through media he seems to have some typical Russian streaks that wouldn’t fit here. That said, the picture painted of him in Swedish media is ridiculously distorted. By persistently focusing on every minor detail with a negative connotation, and meticulously censoring everything else, our media is almost at a point where they have made Putin look like some new kind of Stalin.

To continue with personal values though: if Sweden had gone through the same total melt-down as Russia did during the 1990s, I would have preferred a leader like Putin to rectify the society. The almost unmatched social catastrophe directly resulting from the capitalist Harmagedon that was forced upon Russia was never mentioned in our media, and is completely wiped out of history. It’s just that 10 million people died, mostly younger men (and much in the same way as the Native Americans: by being deprived of their means of existence). (I wrote about this in March 2014.)

Putin put an end to this genocide and cleaned up most of the mess caused mainly by western economists, and got the society passably working, so much so that some kind of development could be initiated. It naturally took harsh measures, first of all to reclaim some of the country’s wealth stolen by oligarchs in the turmoil of the 90s. This is obviously considered by western rulers and oligarchs as Putin’s deadly sin, an important basis for the hatred against him and marked by our consistent support for Russian billionaires in the Diaspora.

Today’s topic is the evacuation of Debaltseve in Ukraine. My paper DN naturally described this as Putin’s “land grabbing”, just another sign of that man’s diabolic nature. It’s probably supposed to be a token of DNs benevolence that they kept secret a certain text contradicting its thesis. I’m referring to a resolution put forward by Russia to the UN Security Council urging all parties to adhere to the Minsk agreement.

This resolution calls for a “total ceasefire” and a “political solution” that respects the “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine”. To be noted: this is the wording chosen by Russia! Donbas is consequently an indivisible part of Ukraine, clearly stated by Vladimir Putin (that land grabbing thug). What has to be solved is some kind of autonomy within the Ukrainian state for the Donbas region.

The fact that Kiev is sending artillery to kill its own civil citizens must be interpreted as Kiev’s refusal to accept any kind of autonomy for any region. This is a recipe for disaster. A Kiev army manned by conscripted and reluctant soldiers stands no chance against motivated fighters defending their native soil. The violent path chosen by Kiev will lead to a total confrontation taking the word closer to a new global war than ever. The simple way to solve the problem is for Poroshenko to meet with leaders from Donbas and settle the whole thing according to the Minsk agreement. Can’t anyone with his or her head screwed on point this out for Poroshenko or whoever is steering this wreck. Or is it Obama that has to clear his mind and realize what’s obvious?

Will this ceasefire make the real problems obvious?

Ceasefire in Ukraine and Putin seems to accept it, and more than that, even push for it. Strange, since the Prime minister of Ukraine, Arseniy Yatsenjuk, from the very beginning insured us that Putin’s Russia wanted to conquer the entire Ukraine. And this PM should be a most credible man, appointed by a high US official as he is, and fully endorsed all the way by our main paper, Dagens Nyheter (DN).

Well, Yatsenjuk has made a lot of statements, most of them uncritically echoed by western media without any demands for proof. Most every week he has reported on thousands of Russian troops and hundreds of tanks entering his country, probably in total adding up to a full mechanized division by now (if anyone bothered with a calculator). DN has broken a fundamental journalistic rule by simply conveying these obviously propagandistic fabrications, no questions asked.

Indeed, some of Yats’ statements have remained concealed, such as the one he delivered during a visit to Angela Merkel, where he certified that it was Russia that had attacked Germany in WWII, something “that would not be allowed to happen again”. Likewise hidden from public eyes by DN was the infamous claim by a Ukrainian Defense minister that Luhansk had been lost due to the Russians using nuclear weapons. What mainstream media yet not fully realize is that conspiratory and manipulating journalism in a longer run inexorably backfires in a world where more and more people will pick up the missing information on the Internet.

For a year now DN has fed its readers with an almost daily flow of these ill-founded, propagandistic and sometimes simply mendacious articles with the single aim to defame Russia and Putin. It has been an exhibition of low journalistic standards opposing the prime values that proper professional schools on the subject teach.

In this very moment a news flash reveals that Ukrainian forces are leaving Debaltseve (a city in trouble, obviously ignored by Poroshenko during the Minsk talks). Spokesmen for the “pro-Russian separatists” say – according to DN – that hundreds of government troops have surrendered to the rebels, “information not independently confirmed” (information from the other side never requires this reservation by DN).

Still there is a new tone in DN’s reporting just recently, illustrated by another article in today’s paper. Putin’s visit to Hungary was described in a short article without the usual demonizing distortion of facts. And maybe it generalizes.

New York Times has an informative article also today about the really catastrophic abyss in which Ukraine’s economy has fallen. The author points at some crucial sectors where Ukraine’s dependence of Russia for a long times has been decisive, and shows the devastating effects the breakup with Russia have had. After reading this text one is totally puzzled by the naivety the pro-western Ukrainians have shown in believing that western countries would even have the resources to compensate for this huge Russian economic dependency, let alone the political will to do it.

Maybe the naivety of western leaders when searching an easy propaganda victory by punching Putin in the face will rebound too. Hopefully we will see more sobriety in the days to come.

(If the simplest of solutions wasn’t self-evident: autonomy in any form for Donbas, Ukraine a neutral state, no NATO, no EU.)

Not just Auschwitz but Holocaust in its entirety mainly ended by the Russians

27 January, the day in 1945 when Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz, is also instituted by the United Nations as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The fact that Vladimir Putin wasn’t invited to the 70 year commemoration of the liberation has attracted some attention, as we saw. But no greater interest in main media has been shown for the Soviet (mainly Russian) role in terminating the Nazi Holocaust altogether.

More important than discovering Auschwitz was to stop the Nazi murder machine that otherwise could have exterminated millions more. For this the Soviet Union had the overwhelmingly most important role by grinding down the up till then strongest military machinery in history, thus sacrificing around 25 million of its people, in addition to unbelievable destruction of half the country.

It would have been most appropriate to give Russia some recognition on a day like that. Not so in Sweden, although the day was commemorated with a prestigious ceremony in Stockholm’s largest synagogue in the presence of the Swedish King and Queen, the Prime minister, the US ambassador and a number of other dignitaries. Russia is expelled from the “international community” for reacting logical to a Nazi infected coup d’état in a neighboring country, while an ambassador representing a power responsible for major war crimes, the last ones most recently, is treated with outmost respect. Well, Jonathan Smith, you know how it is!

When Dagens Nyheter’s editor in chief Peter Wolodarski acknowledged this Stockholm ceremony in a lead article he did it with dedication and compassion. He described the anti-Semitism of today, and concluded: “The mechanisms of Holocaust must be recognized as latent dangers in all civilized societies. They require perpetual vigilance and resistance”. It’s all admirable, except that his statement challenges his own position on the contemporary Ukraine issue.

Wolodarski’s newspaper is blatantly propagandistic, blaming Russia for every evil event and for being the aggressor (no proof given), while keeping almost totally silent about everything that could cast a shadow on the Ukrainian actions. Among the neglected topics is the key role that Nazism plays in that country’s present and history, a main reason for the revolt in Donbas, where people know what it’s all about, many having lost parents and other relatives murdered by Nazis.

Wolodarski describes how ordinary people in the Holocaust era could be transformed into rapists and murderers, “prepared to shove the city’s Jewish citizens into a barn and set it on fire”. The military historian Anthony Beevor describes in fact this method as a Ukrainian specialty in his book on WWII, adding that Ukraine stood out as the country in which people most willingly and in largest numbers assisted the German Nazis in exterminating Jews, Communists, Poles and other unwanted creatures.

This “Ukrainian specialty” was duplicated in Odessa in 2014, where a group of pro-Russian Odessa inhabitants were captured in a building which was set on fire by pro-Nazi elements that then killed some who tried to flee. This mass murder of more than 40 people took place without DN paying any attention to the historical parallel which could be called ironic had it not been so outrageous. Instead Wolodarski naively writes about the same method of extermination months later, ignorant of its horrible implications.

Ukrainian Nazism has a long and ugly history, dating back to at least the 1930s when the so called Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) “began a campaign of assassinating and otherwise terrorizing people who didn’t agree with them”, according to Russ Bellant, interviewed in The Nation, March 2014. In his book Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party Bellant reveals astonishing facts about the collaboration between revered politicians and pure Nazi elements in USA.

At the end of WWII Eastern Europe was swarming with Nazi collaborators guilty of all kinds of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Looking forward to hard punishment by the Soviet justice system, not known for its humanity, their best option was to flee westwards, and many of them ended up in USA and Canada. There they were kindly taken care of and soon reached some prominence as anti-Soviets. Bellant deals in detail with their connections with the Republican Party and some of the Presidents from that party. His findings are too many to fit in this short blog post, but are very much worth reading (thenation.com).

My country had the “honor” of receiving a number of war criminals from the Baltic States, perpetrators guilty of killing Jews and other “unworthy” humans. They mixed with entirely decent refugees and were never hunted down by Swedish police. For this Sweden has received harsh criticism from the Simon Wiesenthal Center (so much for that civilized country).

The Ukrainian connection is interestingly reflected in a recent vote in the UN General Assembly on a resolution that condemned the glorification of Nazism, brought by Russia, undeniably in response to the raise of neofascism in Ukraine. Three countries voted against the resolution: USA, Canada and Ukraine! 155 voted for and 55 abstained, among them the European countries. A fact to consider: Israel voted for the resolution.

A column like this has no punch line, these battlefields will no doubt be revisited.

Celebrating a liberation without the liberator

Today we read about Putin and the 70th anniversary commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz. I find two main versions of the story, the first one saying that Putin “Won’t attend…” (NYT) or “won’t go to…” (rt.com) the ceremonies in Poland. The main reason is claimed to be that no formal invitation has been sent to Russia. On the other hand, according to this version, no personal invitation has been sent to anyone, just notices to all embassies of EU nations and other countries that have contributed to the museum, among them Russia.

The other version is found in the usually very Russophobe Dagens Nyheter saying that Putin “is debarred from” the event. DN refers to a source in the Polish Foreign Office telling Reuters that formal invitations to specific countries have been sent by the authority responsible for the museum, together with the International Auschwitz Council. Countries not receiving a formal invitation, among them Russia, have just got an informal message, a so called nota verbale. The reason, according to the source, would be that Polish leaders didn’t want to formally invite Putin given the Ukraine conflict.

If the second version is the correct one, we will probably never hear about it again. In any case the commemoration of the liberation will take place with several heads of states and other distinguished officials, but in the absence of the proper representative of the liberator. It’s more remarkable than the US president being absent from a D-day 70 year commemoration. Russia had after all sacrificed millions and millions of lives before Auschwitz could be liberated, while their western allies had fought poorly motivated Germans on the west front for slightly more than half a year, during which time the Nazi army repeatedly had sent divisions from the west front to support the more important eastern front.

When they gather on January 27 it must feel odd for any of the highly distinguished guests attending – who happen to have some knowledge and scruples – that the highest representative for the nation in focus of the celebrations is not present. But on the other hand, our propaganda has worked persistently through the years, and the day will come when we are completely unaware of Russia’s role in WWII. Some are already there, like Hillary Clinton (at Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show) asserting that United States defeated the Nazis.