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.

Chekist determination to spread misinformation

Moisei Fishbein
The renowned Ukrainian poet Moisei Fishbein speaks of current Russian attempts to foist lies about Ukraine and its past on both its own population and the world community

Opening address given by Ukrainian poet Moisei Fishbein at a Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefing on 3 November 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen!

In ancient times they said “De mortuis aut bene, aut nihil” (Of the dead speak well or not at all”). Over recent years Russian politicians, diplomats, political analysts, journalists, even popular music celebrities, would seem to be following a different saying: “De Ukraina aut bene, aut nihil” (“About Ukraine speak well or not at all”). And this is not dependent on logic or commonsense, honesty or decency. With them Ukraine is like the daughter-in-law of a vicious mother-in-law, like a Jew to the anti-Semites, to blame for everything. In their imperialist madness, fused with a chronic inferiority complex, the Russian leadership are trying to zombify with their own Ukraine-phobia both the world community and the Russian public, as well, through media outlets under their control and agents of influence, a certain part of Ukraine’s population.

 At present an ever-increasing number of Russian citizens consider Stalin the most outstanding figure. An icon of Stalin has appeared in a church on the outskirts of St Petersburg.

Well-known Russian journalist and editor of the newspaper “Zavtra” [“Tomorrow”] Alexander Prokhanov, about whom they say “what Putin has on his mind, Prokhanov has on the tip of his tongue” openly calls himself an imperialist. On 17 September he said in an interview to the radio station “Echo Moskvy”: “Stalin is becoming the face of Russia”. During the same interview he stated: “Russia is a potential superpower. Otherwise it will fall apart.”  And then “We’ve achieved this crisis in Ukraine”, and when asked by a journalist what needed to be done, he answered “neutralize Yushchenko”.

Russian top officials are openly expressing territorial claims against Ukraine. Provocateurs, cultivated and welcomed by the Russian leadership, desecrate what is of national significance for Ukrainians on our Mount Hoverlia, rip up and stamp on the Ukrainian flag near one Ukrainian embassy. Then the Russian Federation’s Permanent Representative to the UN Vitaly Churkin speaking at a press conference on 28 October about Holodomor 1932-1933 stated that “.. the Ukrainian government is using this issue in order to divide our two brotherly nations, sow the seeds of international enmity (…) whatever repressions or actions were carried out by the Stalinist regime, it cannot be called the primary reason for the Famine (…) and to say that the Stalinist regime was against the Ukrainian people is not correct”. I don’t know if Russian diplomat Churkin has read the book “Forever flowing” – the book about Holodomor written by the outstanding Russian writer Vasily Grossman  I don’t know if Mr Churkin has read anything at all aside from “instructions from the Centre”. However this statement of his is shameless blasphemy. Other statements from that press conference in the UN Headquarters are also shameless blasphemy and impudent lies.  I quote: “The second issue, (…) which in my view has a definite political link with the first is the issue of glorifying Nazism (…) The Ukrainian President in his order on awarding honours named as hero one of the odious members of the Ukrainian Nazi movement Mr Shukhevych who was a Nazi (…) Do you remember that in Kyiv thousands of Jews were murdered? The majority of those people who killed Jews at Babi Yar were Ukrainian Nazis” 

“Ukrainian Nazis?”

So it was some Ukrainians, supposedly members of Hitler’s National Socialist Party, and not Germans from the “Einsatsgruppen” who murdered Jews at Babi Yar? “Shukhevych who was a Nazi?” That is, Shukhevych, who was supposedly a member of the National Socialist Party, being in Halychyna, was somehow involved in the executions at Babi Yar? Only an ignoramus could say such a thing, or somebody deliberately misinforming people. I hope at least Mr Churkin is no ignoramus.

We would remind Mr Churkin that it was the USSR, which the Russian Federation is successor to, which from 1939 to 1941 was ally of Nazi Germany. Just recall the shots from film footage with joint Soviet – German military parades!  We would also remind people of how the special operation of misinformation about the Chief Commander of the UPA [Ukrainian Resistance Army] General Roman Shukhevych is being carried out. They first fed the press with the version that Roman Shukhevych was an “SS Captain”. The spreaders of misinformation received the response that there was no such rank. Then they turned Roman Shukhevych into such kind of “Obersturmfuhrer”. They had it explained to them that in order, before 1944, to get into the SS, it was necessary to long prove your “Arian origin” which Roman Shukhevych of course didn’t have. Then the spreaders of misinformation fed the press another story, that Shukhevych had received a military honour from Hitler himself. They were reminded that only Himmler had received a military honour from Hitler’s own hands. As for the Chief Commander of the UPA Roman Shukhevych, according to information from the German Military Archives in Freiburg, Roman Shukhevych did not receive any German honour at all.

Yet the spreaders of misinformation just have to discredit both General Shukhevych and the UPA, and the entire Ukrainian national liberation movement, and Ukraine’s President Viktor Yushchenko.

So they resorted to long-standing Chekist provocation and pulled out the “Jewish card”. They accused some of exterminating the Jews, and others of “glorifying” those who had supposedly killed them.  The ploy is familiar – to turn Jews away from the Ukrainian national revival, to turn Jews and the entire civilized world away from those who want to revive a true Ukrainian Ukraine, Ukrainian in its spirit, in its language, in its memory of its geniuses and heroes. Ukrainian for all that is essential in it, regardless of their ethnic origin.

I respect the Russia of Boris Pasternak, Andrei Sakharov, Andrei and Arseny Tarkovsky, Vasily Grossman. The Russia of Putin and Medvedev is alien to me.

And one last thing, in 1942-1943 the wife of the Chief Commander of the UPA pani Natalya Shukhevych hid a Jewish child Ira Raikhenberg. General Shukhevych had a false passport made for the little girl under the name Ira Ryzhko. When the Gestapo arrested Natalya Shukhevych, the little girl was sent to an orphanage attached to a women’s monastery in the village of Kulykiv which is in the Lviv region. There the child survived the Nazi occupation, survived the War. I have her photograph here. A typical Jewish face. Last year Irina Ryzhko died in Kyiv. Her son Volodymyr is here in this hall tonight.

Moisei Fishbein is a renowned Ukrainian poet and translator, laureate of the Vasyl Stus Prize as well as other State honours. He is a member of the Ukrainian Centre of the International PEN Club and the National Union of Writers of Ukraine, and known worldwide.  The academician Ivan Dzyuba called him a Poet blessed by God.

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