- Latvia and Ukraine share many similarities; originally both provided Hitler with punative batallions in WWII, their borders emerged with the breakup of the USSR, both had their Maidan, and both persecuted Russian speakers
- Many situations in Ukraine model themselves precisely to the same events which happened in Latvia in years-gone-by
- By examining past events in Latvia, perhaps we can predict future events in Ukraine
IMHO Club is a popular pro-Russian Latvian news site which publishes in Latvian and Russian. It is citizen journalism, driven by volunteers. We came across this surprisingly insightful essay from the editor and publisher. Well done.
The original source is here. Translated for RI by Anthony Grulich.
Introduction: my friend Sergei has a small business in Donetsk. He’s not rich, works hard and is far away from tunneling out any state budgets. His credo is "Guys, let's live as friends". Sergei and I have a longstanding dispute. I tell him what will happen in the Ukraine next, he gives me his standard reply - "don’t paint such a bleak picture, it’s not so bad" and then wonders - "How did you know"? Let me explain.
Latvia is the Ukraine in miniature
Or rather: Latvia is Western Ukraine in miniature. The historical experience of Latvians is close to Ukraine's westerners. For hundreds of years they went from under one master to another as servants. They only achieved their statehood in the 20th century and not as a result of battles for national self-determination but as a gift. Both peoples are experiencing "birth trauma". Both – an inferiority complex.
During the war, both the Ukrainian westerners and Latvians provided Hitler’s occupiers with a large number of punitive battalions that liquidated Jews, Gypsies, Russians, Belarusians and Poles with such zeal that even the Nazis were nauseous from it. Both nations were trying to earn their "independence" by standing with Hitler; both got graves and shame.
After the war, I don't know why, the Soviet leadership began actively building up their high-tech industry, synchronously at that. In Latvia - "Radiotechnika", in Lvov - "Elektron", in Latvia - RAF, in Lvov - LAZ, in Latvia - Rigaselmas, in Lvov - Lvovselmas etc.
In the post-Soviet period both the Ukrainian westerners and Latvians, with song and dance, tunneled out these industries, left them for scrap, sold them and ate through the gains. Then both nations engaged in the Ukrainisation/Latvianisation of their Russians and rewriting history. In Latvia, SS legionaries became national heroes, in Lvovstein – the Banderites. In both nations descendants of SS-immigrants actively participated in building their contemporary states. Vengeful and deceiving.
How they differ: Latvia’s expanse is no more than 200 km from its capital. And the border of Ukraine, well, as far it is from Lvov. The Latvians quickly ran into their border, the westerners had space to expand for upwards of 20 years. Another difference: the EU managed to absorb microscopic Latvia before the 2008 crisis, while the Ukraine remained hung somewhere halfway between the USSR and the “Great Uki Nation".
Why these Parallels? Because Latvia is 10-12 years ahead of Ukraine on its path of post-Soviet degradation and many processes in the Ukraine are copying those that Latvians went through. This is also where my prognoses’ on the future of Ukraine come from.
Banderite Facial Expression
10 years ago, when I was observing the first Kiev Maidan, I wrote to my friend: "First your "oranges" will claw amongst themselves for the seats and troughs, then they’ll start a march on the Russian language, then they’ll start rewriting history textbooks, finally they’ll turn some Bandera into a national hero... and then the next elections will be won by Yanukovych..."
"Da ty šo! – exclaimed Sergei - they don’t dare touch the Russian language, half of the country speaks it, you’re making silly jokes about Bandera and Yanukovych is a political corpse, in 5 years time no one will remember him!"... Every time a part of my predictions came true, I called Sergei in Donetsk and wryly asked, "Well?"
The point is, that we in Latvia had went through all of this. The difference is that our maidan took place at the moment the Soviet Union had collapsed. Then it continued along the classic scenario: a battle of the "democrats" over troughs, the assault on the Russian language, the glorification of Latvian SS... and within 5 years, professional thieves had nestled themselves into power and looted everything that still remained.
Last fall, when the scene of Maidan-2 had just begun making proclamations about "European integration", I wrote Sergei: there will be blood. "Blood from where? - he wondered - they’ll make some proclamations and part ways”. For me, just looking into the faces of those who were jumping on the Maidan was enough to understand - blood there is bound to be.
For clarification: 10 years ago, the Latvian government had decided to convert all schools instructing in Russian to the Latvian language. Russian teachers, in Russian schools were prescribed by law to conduct their lessons exclusively in Latvian. The following situation ensued: Russian school, Russian children and Russian teachers but instruction in Russian prohibited.
We went out on demonstrations. Would you believe, my dear Ukrainians that we didn’t set alight even one tire? We simply demonstrated that WE are against this and that there are many of us. At that time I was intently looking into the faces of young Latvians... they were looking at us with that same "Ukrainian-glory" "Moscals-on-knives" stare, just as your Maidanettes are looking at you now. Hatefully, blankly, with outright condescension. To them we are "cattle", "colorado beetles"... just as you are to your westerners.
Blood wasn’t shed back then in Latvia. The country had just acceded into the EU; the authorities were frightened of unwanted clamor and retreated. But I remember well this "SS-Bandera-Maidan" expression on the faces of Latvian youth. A few years later a monument to the Soviet soldier was demolished in neighboring Estonia. The exact same expression was on the faces of young Estonian police officers beating Russian protesters with batons. Beating with pleasure, SS style! And Estonian youth on the Internet were applauding.
My father, George Alekseiev went through the war as a mortar man from the Dnieper to Berlin. Awarded two orders, six medals, injured four times - without a single graying hair. After the war, he qualified and worked as a war crimes investigator. He investigated the "exploits" of Banderite and Latvian punitive battalions... by 30 years of age his hair had turned gray.
He regretted only one thing - not managing to bring all of them justice. In the early 50's the humane Soviet government decided thusly: prosecute - those up to their shoulders in blood and let free - those only up to their elbows. In vain! In a country, where Nazis killed 20 million people, Nazism needs an aspen stake hammered into it as long as it still moves. So that the descendants of Nazis even unto the seventh generation would inadvertently wet their pants from the words "Bandera”, “Suchevic” and “Glory to the Nation!"... We didn’t - and we have what we have.
Nationality - Oligarch
I set forth these thoughts somewhat to my Sergei. "You’re exaggerating again - he sighed. What Banderites? Children! Besides, they’re sponsored by a Jew, Kolomoisky. He wouldn’t sponsor Nazis”.
This is wherein the problem lays, Sergei! Unlike us, the Nazis do not fight for an idea (for them an idea is used to justify methods) but in their avaricious interests. Hitler’s soldiers weren’t thinking about a "great mission of the Aryan race” when they came at us. They were basking in the idea, that after the war they will get a farm on Russian black earth and a few dozen Slavic slaves along with it...
Kolomoisky no Jew, he is an oligarch (there is such a particular nationality). In Latvia we went through this in the 90s, when the parties of Latvian Nazis with the ideology of your “Right Sector” were sponsored by our oligarchs. They gave money for monuments to the victims of the holocaust from one hand and - to the descendents of those, who carried out the Holocaust from the other. More to the latter.
We got ahead of you. Latvia is small, its assets, accumulated during the Soviet period were quickly plundered. In the Ukraine, the supply of “cake” ended only now. Don't think, Sergei, that Yarosh-Kolomoisky’s "men in black" have come to you to discuss the "federalization of the Ukraine" and the “status of the Russian language". They came to make money. The Kolomoisky’s big time and their "meat" - small time.
By the way, about the Russian language. These days I now hear the proclamations of your parliament members before your supreme committee (V. Rada) of the type "One nation - one language!", "We’ll save the great Ukrainian culture" and so on... The deputies in our assembly were proclaiming exactly the same in the 90s. But one of them, a former SS Legionnaire (lived to very old age) let slip: "We don't need you to know our language; we need you to know your place". This concerns you as well, Sergei.
You have no choice
It is more difficult to predict Ukraine’s fate further. In 2004, Latvia entered into the EU, the Schengen area was opened and their hopping Nazi offspring quietly spread themselves throughout Europe. The main contingent of Latvian "right-sectors" can now be found there, where they belong - cleaning European toilets. And our Kolomoiskys, when convinced that there was nothing left to steal are writing memoirs from their villas by the sea. From a nearly three million strong, developed country, Latvia was transformed into a senior citizens' home with a population of less than 2 million, quietly living out the end of our lives...
The situation in your country is worse. They will never open Schengen to you. Europe needs 45 million Ukrainians as organ donors at best. This is why you will continue to stew in the same pot with Yaroshes, Parubiys, Kolomoiskys, Turchinovs, Poroshenkos and Timoshenkos. And the worst thing: Ukrainian Nazis have already crossed the point of no return, they have nowhere to retreat. Prison awaits them from the rear, which means that they will go on killing you. Or you - them...
I wrote this text, when the shooting in Slavyansk and hellish fire in Odessa were still another two weeks away. I was afraid to publish it because the written word has a tendency to materialize but I did send it to Sergei. This time, he did not answer me with the usual "don’t paint such a bleak picture". He said, that he sent his family to his Aunt’s in Krasnodar and bought a bulletproof vest and bullets for his hunting rifle...
Hang in there, Sergei!
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