Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images
Article by: Vitaliy Portnikov
The difference in the welcomes given the released prisoners in Kyiv and Moscow says more about the Russian-Ukrainian conflict than dozens of words.
Nadiya Savchenko was greeted as a heroine in Ukraine’s capital. The entire world has been glued to her release. There is no politician who would not want to bathe in the light of her fame and glory at least for a few minutes. There is no citizen who has not sighed with relief at the news of her release.
The Russian intelligence officers were met only by their wives. No Russian politician even thought about showing any interest in the fate of the “heroes of Novorossiya.” The few journalists who wanted to report on their return to their homeland were not allowed at the airport.
No one in Russia is interested in Yevgeny Yerofeyev and Alexander Aleksandrov except for their loved ones. And this is despite the fact that it was the Russian state that had sent them to occupied Donbas — no matter what fairy tales the officers spin about their “voluntary” choice. Nadiya Svachenko, however, did volunteer to defend her country.
And here is the main difference between modern Ukraine and modern Russia. We are a country of citizens who care, as Savchenko emphasized after her return.
She really has every reason to thank her fellow citizens for caring about her and for working for her release. We have been quite interested recently in those who are protecting us. And the Russians, whatever they may say about their “patriotism,” are indifferent to their own military.
It is striking that the fate of Yerofeyev and Aleksandrov, as well as the fate of all those killed in the Donbas war, is of interest not to the “patriots” in Russia but to those opposing this despicable war.
Because this is the real patriotism — to oppose the war and not be indifferent to the fate of the country’s heroes. And to remember their own soldiers who have ended up in captivity or in nameless graves.
This feeling was even described in the poems of Homer, whose heroes confronted death in order to defend their homeland, in order to free or at least to bury their own with dignity. And no propaganda, no words can replace this kind of patriotism. It can only be confirmed by actions.