Sunday, July 20

In rebellion, is there choice?

A few days ago I started writing a blog after reading about the pro-Russian rebel commander who was boasting that "they" had warned about aircraft flying over "their" skies. This was his response to the shooting down of Malaysian flight MH17, killing all 295 people. Unlike the military transport plane shot down just days before, Malaysian flight MH17 was a civilian aircraft.

I had several thoughts, many of which juxtaposed and overlapped with others. Then I read this article in which I learned more about the rebel commander, Igor Strelkov, who is described as "brutal and deranged."

Even before I learned this about Strelkov, I was thinking about the true roots of such a rebellion. In 1991, Ukraine became an independent nation. Again. But it's history with Russia is a complex one as I learned from reading the following:

Ukraine was known as “Kievan Rus” (from which Russia is a derivative) up until the 16th century. In the 9th century, Kiev was the major political and cultural center in eastern Europe. Kievan Rus reached the height of its power in the 10th century and adopted Byzantine Christianity. The Mongol conquest in 1240 ended Kievan power. From the 13th to the 16th century, Kiev was under the influence of Poland and western Europe. The negotiation of the Union of Brest-Litovsk in 1596 divided the Ukrainians into Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholic faithful. In 1654, Ukraine asked the czar of Moscovy for protection against Poland, and the Treaty of Pereyasav signed that year recognized the suzerainty of Moscow. The agreement was interpreted by Moscow as an invitation to take over Kiev, and the Ukrainian state was eventually absorbed into the Russian Empire.
After the Russian Revolution, Ukraine declared its independence from Russia on Jan. 28, 1918, and several years of warfare ensued with several groups. The Red Army finally was victorious over Kiev, and in 1920 Ukraine became a Soviet republic. In 1922, Ukraine became one of the founders of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In the 1930s, the Soviet government's enforcement of collectivization met with peasant resistance, which in turn prompted the confiscation of grain from Ukrainian farmers by Soviet authorities; the resulting famine took an estimated 5 million lives. Ukraine was one of the most devastated Soviet republics after World War II.
When President Leonid Kravchuk was elected by the Ukrainian parliament in 1990, he vowed to seek Ukrainian sovereignty. Ukraine declared its independence on Aug. 24, 1991. In Dec. 1991, Ukrainian, Russian, and Belorussian leaders cofounded a new Commonwealth of Independent States with the capital to be situated in Minsk, Belarus. The new country's government was slow to reform the Soviet-era state-run economy, which was plagued by declining production, rising inflation, and widespread unemployment in the years following independence. The U.S. announced in Jan. 1994 that an agreement had been reached with Russia and Ukraine for the destruction of Ukraine's entire nuclear arsenal. In Oct. 1994, Ukraine began a program of economic liberalization and moved to reestablish central authority over Crimea. In 1995, Crimea's separatist leader was removed and the Crimean constitution revoked.
Now we know that Crimea was retaken by Russia. I'm sure others have a different term for it, but Crimea was Russian, then Ukrainian, and is now Russian again.

I wonder if everyone living in Crimea wants to be Russian.

I wonder how many of them moved to eastern Ukraine because they wanted to be Ukrainian.

I wonder how many of those in the areas now rebelling to join/rejoin Russia really want to be Russian and how many of them would prefer to remain Ukrainian.

I wonder if those who really want to join/rejoin Russia are somehow "encouraging" their neighbors to feel the same way and what forms their "encouragement" might take.

I wonder if those who are resisting the rebellion will be reported by their former friends, their neighbors, their families.

I wonder how soon there will be an organized resistance to the rebellion.

I wonder if the rebel leaders will allow some element of democracy to be part of the decision-making to find out if people really want to be Russian or if what they really want is a stable government and jobs.

I wonder why it's so hard for us to stand up for ourselves, to believe we're as good as the next guy, to tell the boor with the outsized ego and need for power that he has (or she) has to play nicely with the rest of us.

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