This post first appeared on Russia Insider
The singing contest Eurovision, once a contest that actually judged singing, has turned into a political platform for the Atlanticist eurotrash anti-Russian agenda. This time, the brave Ukrainians are bravely standing up to Russian aggression ™ by sending as their representative a Crimean Tatar, singing a song about the Soviet Union’s expulsion of Tatars. Most Western audiences conflate the USSR and present-day Russia, so expecting Russia to atone for the sins of the past is par for the course.
Last year, transgender contestant Conchita Wurst’s participation brought more attention to Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law. (The law targets gay propaganda and not transgender propaganda, in case anyone thinks gay and transgender are the same thing. Also, being trans in the United States is still pretty unpleasant. Also, a cisgender woman and trans woman legally married in Russia in 2014.) The fact that Ukraine’s Svoboda party stated that ridding the country of homosexuals was one of their main goals conveniently escaped everyone’s notice.
So, it’s probably time to bring up more of Russia’s “human rights violations,” although I doubt the Eurovision contestants are self-aware enough to identify their own human rights violations. Like evicting refugees, as France has done. And sending them to Russia, as Norway has done. And the refugee crisis couldn’t be sweet, innocent Europe’s fault,could it? NATO dropped 23,144 warm hugs on majority Islamic nations in 2015 alone. Did I say warm hugs? I meant bombs. Those were bombs they were dropping.
Crimea is not even part of Ukraine anymore, so Ukrainians sending a Crimean Tatar with an axe to grind is strictly a political move. Ukrainian Singer Jamala has a “tragic” tale to tell about the Tatar expulsion, although she is 32 years old and was born a full forty years after it occurred. I wonder if there will be a future song in which she laments the Crimean “activist” blockade of Crimea, which is cutting off power and water to...wait for it...Crimean Tatars. Or a ballad about the Nazi mayor of Konotop. Or lyrics about a Ukrainian MP kicking a security guard. Or an ode to the violent brawls in the Rada. Or the maybe she can team up with Pussy Riot and pen a rap about U.S.’s open acknowledgement that it is backing fascist brigades in Ukraine.
It is true that Josef Stalin ordered the expulsion for Tatars from Crimea as collective punishment for their collaboration with Nazi Germany. Thousands died, and Tatars were not allowed to return to Crimea until 1989. Unfortunately, it is also true that Tatars were recruited by the German Army during the Nazi occupation of the region, and the recruits were subjected to Nazi anti-Semitic and anti-Communist propaganda. Nazis appointed ethnic Tatar administrators. The German occupying forces and their Tatar collaborators started an anti-Semitic newspaper, Azat Kirim. Little wonder some Crimean Jews feel safer under Russian rule.
It could be argued that Stalin’s deportation of the Tatars was ethnically motivated, as was the internment of Japanese Americans. The U.S. government has not officially apologized for imprisoning a lesser, but significant, number of ethnic Germans and Italians. The United States has taken pains to repair the damage done to Japanese Americans for their detention during WWII. Ukraine, on the other, has not once taken any responsibility for their Nazi collaboration nor their role in the Holocaust.
Russia, however, has stepped up to the plate. Vladimir Putin signed a decree in 2014 officially rehabilitating the Tatars. Last November, Russia completed a museum honoring Stalin’s victims. Under Russian rule, Tatar is now one of Crimea’s three official languages, as well as being one of the autonomous Republic of Tatarstan’s official languages. Tatar activist Girey Bairov has accused the Russians of only making amends on paper, although the lives of all Crimeans, including Tatars, improved after Crimea’s reunification with Russia.
More to the point, Tatars were not treated as equals under Ukrainian rule. Here’s a 2012 video of PM Arseniy Yastenyuk stating that Tatars should be punished for capturing Crimean land (really):
Ukraine has morphed from a peaceful country into a xenophobic, nationalist crazyville, overtaken by myopic jingoists who think that a confrontation with Russia is needed to finally throw off the yoke of the “oppressor.” Yes, after centuries of shared language, intermarriage, migration, economic cooperation, literature, art, food, media, and culture, you’re definitely going to start over with a clean slate. That is totally why American cable news networks are camped outside Princess Kate’s hospital every time she goes into labor.
No sane person armed with the facts of the can honestly argue that the situation Ukraine finds itself in is of Russia’s making. Focusing on the crimes of 70 years ago that Russia is taking steps to make amends for is unproductive, and does not make one iota of difference in ending the civil war in Ukraine. Ukraine and Crimea are ethnically diverse regions, and the cynical exploitation of the grievances of a minority is being used in order to further a military agenda.
When ordinary Tatars are suffering under a blockade imposed by pro-Kiev Tatar activists to “liberate” the peninsula from its democratic choice, using a singing competition to demonize the Soviet Union, a country that hasn’t even existed for the better part of Jamala’s life, is little more than a creative distraction.
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