by Roman Kupchinsky
The Kremlin never fails to astonish its world-wide audience.
In what can best be described as an open letter to Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko posted on the Russian President’s website on August 11, Dmitri Medvedev took the proverbial gloves off and lashed out at the democratically elected Ukrainian President.
The pretext of his letter was a directive he signed that day postponing the appointment of a new Russian ambassador to Ukraine.
By publicizing his private communication on his website and his video blog Medvedev turned what should have been a civil debate on differing views between him and Yushchenko on the nature of the Ukrainian-Russian relationship, into a new confrontation.
The Russian President did everything in his power to popularize his views in order to turn them into an instrument of anti-Ukrainian and anti-Western propaganda and prolong the ongoing anti-Ukrainian campaign that began in 2004.
The Kremlin’s disinformation campaign that the Ukrainian Orange Revolution in 2004 was not a popular one, but was funded and organized by the government of the United States, remains alive and well in the imagination of many Russians. “Democratically elected” is a term which is still widely misunderstood on the streets of Russia.
The letter to Yushchenko appears to have been carefully crafted by the Kremlin’s spin- doctors in order to incite an anti-Ukrainian backlash among the Russian folk. Medvedev’s letter includes denunciations of Ukraine’s support of Georgia during last year’s Russian invasion of that country; Ukraine’s continued efforts to join NATO; and attempts to diversify gas supplies –denouncing Ukraine’s agreement to allow the European Union to have a say in the main Ukrainian pipeline which brings gas to Europe.
Medvedev did not fail to include historical issues such as the role of the Ukrainian Partisan Army and its struggle for Ukrainian independence against both the fascist invaders and the Red Army during World War Two, which he characterized as the “glorification of Nazi collaborators” and his rejection of the Stalinist man-made famine in Ukraine as “genocide.”
That same day, Medvedev met with veterans of the “Great Fatherland War” at a round table and went out of his way to praise Ukrainian Red Army veterans.
The Russian President’s video blog site received a number of comments by visitors to Medvedev’s letter to Yushchenko on the site and they reveal a stark microcosmic view of Russian attitudes towards Ukraine.
“We can get a knife in the back from Ukraine anytime. History has not taught Russia anything.“
“Ukraine is an artificial state” (Vladimir Putin once whispered this same theory into the ear of former U.S. President George Bush) “something created by the Bolsheviks after their coming to power…”
“I am a Russian citizen unfortunate to be living in Odessa… I was against the collapse of the USSR and observed the era of Gorbachev – Yeltsin which was very strange…I am very grateful to you, Dmitri Anatolevich about what concerns Ukraine…”
Ukrainian acting Foreign Minister,Volodymyr Khandogiy’s response to Medvedev’s letter was low-key: “I am not personally upset by this, but it does evoke a somewhat disappointing feeling.”