Olga Chyzh is Assist. Prof. of Political Sciences in Toronto.
Professor Olga Chyzh @olga_chyzh
Tanya is not a monster (at least not fulltime)—she is a highly educated woman that plays the piano and casually quotes Russian literature in everyday conversations. But if you ask her about the Bucha massacre, she’ll tell you it didn’t happen.
There are millions like her in Moldova, Ukraine, Russia itself, and even in Western countries like Germany, Canada and the US. We call them the “deceived generation,” the last victims of Soviet propaganda.
The break-up of the USSR marked the start of nation-building (actually re-building), pitting Russian minorities against the ethnic majorities. After more than 50 years of repression (think Bucha), the ethnic majorities finally got a say in the politics of their own states.
This nation-building consisted of downplaying or outright rejecting everything Soviet (read Russian) in favor of national (Moldovan, Ukrainian), and the corresponding change in the distribution of power and wealth.
All of a sudden, ethnic Russians who refused to learn the national language, started getting passed over for promotions in favor of those (including ethnic Russians) who spoke the national language.
In Moldova where I lived, everything around me—TV programming, store signs, street signs, and ever street names—changed from Russian to Romanian.
Other changes included an increase in the hours of Romanian (in schools for Russian-speakers, like the one I attended), as well as the content of literature and history classes.
I was a child, so none of this was a big deal. I quickly picked up Romanian, as children do. For the Russian-speaking adults, however, it was not so easy. It is difficult to learn a completely new language as an adult. But the real obstacle was the hubris.
Decades of Soviet propaganda (backed with repression) taught the ethnic Russians about their undeniable superiority over everyone else. Why should they learn some backward language like Romanian or Ukrainian if Russian is the “purest and the most beautiful language”?
How and why should they accept a government made up of non-Russians? And anyway, there was no point in trying, because Russia was going to come back and re-absorb all the former satellites soon enough, setting everything back how it was.
I kid you not, these were the conversations I listened to as a kid in our Russian-speaking circle of friends. More surprisingly, these are the conversations I still hear (even from my own relatives) today, 30 years later.
These people still hope that Russia will come to save them from the “inferior” national majorities AND give them their coveted Russian pension. These people are still waiting for Russia to give back the money they lost (na knijke) when the Soviet Union broke up.
These people did not cause the Russian invasion—contrary to what they think, protecting them is the last thing on Putin’s mind (he doesn’t actually want to pay them pensions). But these people are complicit in the crimes being committed against Ukrainians.
Deep down, they know that the Bucha massacre did happen—they just don’t care, because the victims are “inferior.” Just ask them about Russian crimes in Chechnya. #StandWithUkraine #StopPutin #BuchaMasacre #MariupolMassacre
Please consider using this form letter to ask you Rep/MP for more help for Ukraine:
Dear [Name and title of representative], I have been following the situation in Ukraine closely. Over the past week we have witnessed atrocities against men, women and children on a scale we have not…
Dear [Name and title of representative],
I have been following the situation in Ukraine closely. Over the past week we have witnessed atrocities against men, women and children on a scale we have not seen since World War II. The list of crimes and barbarity multiplies each day as adults and children are tortured, raped, murdered, and their corpses defiled. The words coming from Moscow make it clear they are fully committed to genocide against the Ukrainian people. I am very upset about these horrific crimes, as I am sure you are. It should be obvious that we cannot ask the Ukrainian people to submit to such evil as it would mean their complete destruction.
The key question in all this is what can we do to defeat Russia, push it out of Ukraine, and bring an end to the suffering of innocent people. The most obvious thing we can do is to provide more arms, and equipment, while strengthening economic sanctions. Here is list of weapons that Ukraine needs the most:
1. Long Range Integrated Air Defense Systems (IADS) – The Ukrainians have a few Soviet-era systems that are progressively being destroyed and they need more to form a ground based “no fly zone” without our direct military intervention. We need to facilitate transfer of S300, and Buk air defense systems.
2. Long Range Artillery and Counter Artillery Assets – These are necessary to counterattack against the Russian seized positions inside occupied Ukraine. The Ukrainian military desperately needs 155mm artillery systems with ammunition, 152mm artillery shells, Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) Grad, Tornado, Smerch, and M142 HIMARS.
3. Aircraft – While ground based IADs can neutralize the Russian bombers, aircraft will be necessary for close air support of counterattack operations as this is a vital capacity in modern military operations;
4. Anti-Ship Missile (ASM) – The Russian offensive on Odesa and Mariupol rely almost entirely on naval resupply, and disrupting those supply lines will be necessary for the Ukrainian Army to defend its coastal cities; and
5. Modern Western and Soviet Tanks – To help expel Russian forces from the occupied territories, we should provide Ukraine with T-72 tanks in the short term, as Ukrainian soldiers are familiar with these. The medium-term goal should be to move towards German Leopard or US M1 tanks. The sooner we will start training Ukrainian crews to use these, the faster they will be able to free the occupied territories.
6. Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) – APCs are necessary for Ukraine to maneuver their infantry forces into position and provide heavier fire suppression while these forces employ anti-armor munitions. Armored forces require a mix of Tanks, APCs and light infantry to successfully conduct counter offensives inside Ukraine;
7. Full trade embargo of Russian goods to deprive Russia of the ability to finance its invasion.
These actions are time sensitive with the situation on the ground rapidly evolving. Weapons and sanctions a month from now may be too late. I strongly urge you and your fellow elected officials to act immediately.