war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

Leonid Plyushch: Open letter to the President of Ukraine

05.12.2006    source:
The Orange Revolution was the greatest, most human historical act of the last 100 years. You, together with the other leaders of the Revolution, have squandered the spiritual capital of Maidan entrusted to you through your bickering, incompetence, lack of consistency and of courage. …. It is not yet too late for wise and decisive actions, and the popular potential of Maidan has not been drained.

Esteemed Mr President,

I do indeed respect you for all the positive things that you did for Ukraine during the Orange Revolution. I respect you for your attempts to restore Ukraine’s own history, memory, its pride and honour. For your speeches and decrees regarding Holodomor, UPA, for those fighters who died for Ukraine in the communist and Nazi camps, for your public statements against xenophobia and anti-Semitism. And indeed all your acts give the impression that unlike the majority of Ukrainian “politicians”, you truly care not only about yourself, but about Ukraine and democracy.

Yet I cannot feel respect for a person who has allowed the forces of reaction, a fifth column of the empire and mafia to gain effective power in Ukraine, a person who is inconsistent and limp. Yes, you forced Ukraine’s inner enemies to sign a decent enough Universal Memorandum and to formally recognize your demands. Yet the Memorandum of National Unity contains words that have meaning only for you, and not for them, your opponents. Neither the communists, nor Moroz, nor the “regionals” [i.e. from the Party of the Regions] understand what honour means, that including honouring ones word. They are only interested in real material power – via the Verkhovna Rada and regional councils, the power of enforcement bodies, the courts, and financial power. And it is they who are gradually and persistently taking over, leaving you with the mere semblance of power.

I won’t list your failings as a person and as President – they’re assiduously highlighted not only by your enemies, but also by your supporters.

The main fault is indecisiveness, that is, lack of determination.

That can easily be seen by your fight against anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is not the main problem in the modern Ukrainian crisis. However it does provide a litmus test for the spiritual condition of the state and of society. In 2005 you spoke out against the anti-Semitic propaganda spread by MAUP [the Interregional Academy of Management Personnel]. (Unfortunately you did not use the word Nazism, did not dare). And that had absolutely no impact either on MAUP or on other similar structures which I have no doubts at all are organized or encouraged by the FSB [Russian Security Service] or other forces hostile to Ukraine. What is worse, at the beginning of 2006, before those ill-fated elections, you saw fit to award the honour of Hero of Ukraine to MAUP employee, Ivan Spodarenko from the newspaper “Silski visti” [“Rural news”]. You were set up by your political technologists and bureaucratic machine all hoping for the support of the Socialist Party and Mr Moroz in parliament.  I expressed my protest then, warning you of the future defeat and betrayal by the socialists. Unfortunately, all this was confirmed to an even greater extent than could have been expected. You paid for that “Hero” and the pre-election political manoeuvring with accusations of anti-Semitism and the coming to power of “com-soc-regionals”.

At present they’re playing a double game with the anti-Semitism card against you. For your speeches about Simon Petlura and UPA [the Ukrainian Resistance Army] courtesy of Moscow you’re being accused around the world of rehabilitating Nazism. The MAUP pack, on the other hand, is accusing you of Zionism and links with the CIA, referring to the supposed Jewish origins of your circle, your wife and even Yulia Tymoshenko. I fail to see anything criminal in such origins, on the contrary, it is the accusations which are criminal and can and should be classified as an integral part of Nazi propaganda in Ukraine. What have you actually done against Nazis in Ukraine?  Moving speeches at Babi Yar. Appeals to the SBU [Security Service of Ukraine] to deal with the activities of MAUP. This year at long last a case was launched over MAUP, but only by the Ministry of Education and Science and the certifying commission, and not over Nazi propaganda, but over the low level of teaching {Nazis couldn’t have a high level).  Yet even the Ministry’s decision to close low-quality MAUP branches was reversed by the Economic Court in Kyiv. Neither you nor the Government has any, even moral, power.

You gained the Verkhovna Rada’s recognition of Holodomor 1932-1933 as an act of genocide. This is undoubtedly a success, albeit poisoned by the chimerical position of Deputies. The Ukrainian Parliament by a small majority finally, as one of the last in the world, said its word about Ukraine’s most terrible catastrophe in the twentieth century. Said it, edited by Moroz. Here is how, referring to the MAUP forum, “Punitive bodies of the Jewish-Bolshevik regime” (24 November), the struggle for this recognition is interpreted  by Spodarenko’s “Silski visti” rag (28 November, Serhiy Skorobahatko: “Who murdered Ukraine”):  “On 16 November the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine did not raise for consideration the issue of the Holodomor in Ukraine and the repressions of 1937-1938 as the genocide of the Ukrainian people planned by the Zionist government of the Kremlin”. So as to avoid any doubts as to the Kremlin’s “Zionism”, this was explained by premises about the “genocide of Ukrainians during the period of Jewish state control from 1918-1938 in Ukraine and the Soviet Union”, “the Jewish-Bolshevik coup of 1917”, “Jewish fascism”. Skorobahatko did not hesitate to support communist slander of the struggle of the UPA as anti-Semitic.

The Socialist Party press have no qualms about attributing the acknowledgement of the genocide to the wise amendments made by Moroz against your provocative political mileage from Holodomor. And you not only silently swallow that, but even praise them for their support, talking about some kind of unity with them.  Your ambiguous position is directed at reconciling opposing forces. Moroz’s game is one with marked cards. One hand formally supports you, the other –Spodarenko, Skorobahatko and their ilk, continuing to breed Nazi propaganda. And both are directed against you. The statements about Jews who carried out genocide are the best argument for those forces which are stalling world recognition of the genocide of 1932-1933, and a blow against recognition of the national liberation struggle of 1917 – 2004. Therefore even a member of the fascist Eurasian organization, comrade Vitrenko can now, with facts in her hand, burble on about Ukrainian defenders of Nazism.

Under such conditions your warm calls to unity only broaden the actually disunity of Ukraine because they hide the bitter reality from the nation. You have not had the courage to openly talk about this reality and admit your fatal mistakes during these two years.

Recently you honoured me, together with other members of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, with the award “For courage”, first class. My first reaction was to spurn this award as devalued by you and your government, devalued by awards to Spodarenko and the incompetence of your administrative apparatus, which managed to not even inform me of the award officially. I did not do this only out of respect for the struggle waged by the Ukrainian Helsinki Group and the entire national liberation movement and for your efforts to overcome the anti-Ukrainian direction of the Verkhovna Rada. However now, when you so clearly show your indecision in all crucial issues of building the country, I am forced to hand his order to you, as it is you who is lacking in courage and wisdom today, in this decisive moment of our history.  Oleksandr Turchynov is right in saying that power in Ukraine is confidently being usurped now by the most aggressive oligarchic clans “for whom the Constitution and laws are empty words” and Ukraine, following Russia, is moving towards totalitarianism and restoration of the empire.

The Orange Revolution was the greatest, most human historical act of the last 100 years. You, together with the other leaders of the Revolution, have squandered the spiritual capital of Maidan entrusted to you through your bickering, incompetence, lack of consistency and of courage. You have lost and are losing, “giving up” your best fellow companions.

It is not for me to measure courage by classes, and I don’t have the appropriate means. However as a symbol of the real courage of tens of thousands of participants in the resistance movement, the order awarded our Group, has sense and spiritual force. I therefore pass it to you to strengthen your spirit which you did have in 2004. It is not yet too late for wise and decisive actions, and the popular potential of Maidan has not been drained. Gather strength in order to abolish the “political reform” [the constitutional amendments of 8 December 2004] which was foisted on Maidan and which has reduced your function as President to a nominal role, to enforced participation in the bargaining hall which goes by the name of parliament., beginning back then during the victory of 2004.  Strength for a Referendum, early parliamentary elections, etc. To restore the Orange coalition but without dubious allies. Strength in order to force the Government, Court and Parliament to condemn all shades of communist – Nazis. It is not for me, from France, to give you specific advice about specific actions.

Do not be afraid of turning to the people with open, transparent, severe and truthful words. The people of Ukraine proved their wisdom and courage in 2004. And today they have lost faith in the words of “dear friends” in pretty wrapping. They need the courageous words of a courageous President.

Leonid Plyushch, former external representative of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group

5 December 2006, France

God grant you strength, Viktor Andriyovych!

 Share this