Former President of the Russian Memorial, 2022 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, talks about the facts behind the war on Ukraine

Former President of the Russian Memorial, 2022 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, talks about the facts behind the war on Ukraine

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I have a different point of view on the Russian-Ukrainian war, an “insider’s point of view”.

As a citizen of Russia, I and my comrades V.I MemorialI have been trying to fight for human rights in my country and in those countries where my motherland sends its troops, either overtly or covertly, for more than 30 years.

In addition, Memorial studies the history of the Soviet Union and Russia, the history of oppression and the struggle for freedom.

Read: 2022 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech by Memorial Jan Raczynski: Monument – Lecture on the Nobel Prize –

Many things are seen differently from this perspective. I will not argue here about the similarities and differences between Russia and the other colonial powers in Europe, or about whether the Soviet Union was based on a shared belief in a bright future or on propaganda and political repression. Let’s focus on the war in Ukraine in the context of the events of the past thirty years.

For someone who has carefully studied many sources, both independent and related to the warring parties, many of the assertions are obvious and do not require any new evidence.

In Ukraine, there was no “coup” organized by the “West” that brought the “junta” to power: there was a mass popular movement against the corrupt government, followed by fair elections organized by a legitimate parliament.

There is no “Nazi rule” in Ukraine. There was no danger to the life of the Russian-speaking population. There were no mass popular movements for secession, nor legitimate referendums on the independence of the “people’s republics”.

Russian aggression against Ukraine began in 2014, and now my country in Ukraine is not waging a “special military operation”, but a full-scale war with the massive use of all available means, except for strategic bombers and nuclear weapons.

Russian propaganda lurks in all of these points – as it does in many others.

How is this war different from the one waged by the West?

A fourth question that can reasonably be repeated on this: How is this war different from the wars waged by the West? Who bombed Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria? And torture? In addition to Guantanamo, was the Abu Ghraib prison also famous?

A closer look reveals significant differences, not quantitative, but qualitative. They did not find piles of hundreds of corpses near Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prisons, or near the military base at Bagram, where people were also tortured.

In Chechnya, by contrast, this murderous assembly line has been running for many years: kidnappings, secret prisons, torture, extrajudicial executions, unmarked graves.

In essence, the Russian army and special services repeated what the Americans did in Vietnam during Operation Phoenix and in Latin America during Operation Condor, and what the French General Osares did during the war in Algeria. And the Soviet army in Afghanistan.

For the past year and a half, Russia has been doing the same thing in Ukraine.

Likewise, Russian artillery and aviation were used massively and indiscriminately in Chechnya, Syria and Ukraine. “Targeted strikes” were carried out against civilian targets – in Syria against hospitals, in Ukraine against thermal and electric power plants.

You would think that such practices could have been condemned, called a crime against humanity and left in the past millennium. But Russia reproduces it again and again.

system of organized impunity

in which way?

There is an organized system of impunity. Those responsible for kidnappings, disappearances, torture, massive bombing of cities, refugee queues and “safe zones” are not brought to justice but are given new shoulder badges and new positions. And their impunity inspires new criminals.

Indeed, in the new millennium, Russia is entering the colonial practices of those countries that strongly condemn them.

But what significance can these events in Europe have for Africa?

After all, Europe for decades ignored the wars and genocides on the African continent where the human toll was much higher. I think there is no disregard or disdain: this is the optics of the “world of worlds” in which we live – everyone sees their world first and foremost. But this does not cancel the interdependence between these different worlds.

International peacekeepers were deployed to Somalia in the early 1990s. The events of October 3-4, 1993 in Mogadishu appear in Ridley Scott’s film, “The black hawk has fallenThe bodies of dead US Special Forces are being dragged through the streets by Mohamed Aideed’s men as they are being videotaped.

Television news proved to the world that in “peacekeeping operations” one has to pay with the lives of peacekeepers. This led to chaos in the international community.

For 21 months, the idea of ​​”humanitarian intervention” was compromised. That is why the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 became possible – hundreds of thousands of people were killed with complete inaction on the part of the “peacekeepers”.

The echoes of what happened in Mogadishu in Europe were also resounding. World powers were blinded and froze as they watched the bloody events in The first Chechen war from December 1994 to June 1995.

Crippled Europe watched the Bosnian war, even Genocide in Srebrenicauntil the massacre of thousands of Muslims in July 1995. Only after these events did the prolonged silence stop.

Now, unpunished Russian aggression in Ukraine means, for Africa, not only the prospect of losing grain supplies and the prospect of hunger and social unrest, but also an inevitable change in the global “rules of the game”.

Not to mention tens of thousands of Wagner Group Fighters who have gained a new and terrible experience in Ukraine and are ready to transfer it to all continents of our large, but very small planet. DM/MC

Alexander Cherkasov was the head of the Nobel Prize-winning Russian human rights organization Memorial until it was formally liquidated by the Russian government late last year.


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