by Mikhailo Dubynianskiy, Ukrainska Pravda
The first great outburst of syphilis in Europe in the end of the fifteenth century is connected the crusade of French King Charles VIII to Italy. His army of many thousands became the source of the contagion, followed by a hoard of prostitutes.
Soon the expression “the French disease” has entered circulation. However, of course, it was completely arbitrary: the international illness did not forego anyone, starting from Pope Alexander VI and up to Emperor Rudolph II Hapsburg.
Today we can use the same arbitrary term “Russian disease.” That neighbouring Russia has been grievously ill for a long time is obvious. It is difficult to find another state on the European continent, which is practically completely infected by intolerance, aggression, militarism and chauvinism.
Historical time goes backwards here, having reached the middle of the previous century. Hatred is once more considered a civic duty, cruelty – a virtue, despotism – a good, the separation of others’ territories – a luminous national celebration.
The virus of animosity has taken over the minds of millions.
It is everywhere – on Russian television and in social media, in drunken discussions and official statements of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
It affects the old and the young, the poor and the rich, overt “Lumpens” and those which up until recently seemed to be intelligent and kind.
It forces them to excuse any backstabbing of the government, stand in awe of violence, clang weapons and hate everyone: America, Europe, the NATO, Georgia, Ukraine, the Baltic states, “churkas,” democrats, liberals, gays, blasphemers, semi-mythical Banderites.
Only an insignificant part of the Russian society withstood the illness, which has immediately been deemed “national traitors.”
Someone sick with the Russian disease poses a serious threat for those around them. And not just because of their inadequate behaviour, but also as a source of infection.
Having come face-to-face with the aggression of the Russians, the Ukrainians are gradually getting infected with the neighbour’s illness. And, possibly, this is the most lamentable thing happening now.
Just recently we stated that Ukraine is not Russia. Our society was much better: milder, more tolerant, more humane. They have Chechnya, Dagestan, North-East, Beslan – we have twenty years of peaceful life.
They have a civil war in the centre of Moscow, the shooting of the White House with tanks, Manezhnaya Square and pogroms in Kondopog – we have innocent meetings, a bloodless Orange Revolution, the constant search for political compromise. They have dictatorship and censure – we have party competition and freedom of speech. The transfer of harsh neighbouring orders to Ukrainian soil seemed something incomprehensible.
But, as it turned out, it is not difficult to sink to the Russian level of life. The first symptoms of the neighbour’s disease appeared in Ukraine several years ago and at first only affected the political elite. In 2011, our very own Khodorkovskiy appeared: the Ukrainian President got rid of his competitor, having thrown the former Prime Minister in jail.
Ukrainian politics had not seen anything like this yet, however at that moment not all understood that the former order was doomed. The hope for Europe’s healing intervention remained for a long time, however no improvements followed. On November 30th, 2013 the Russian disease spilled into the streets: the peaceful protesters in Ukraine had never been dispersed so cruelly.
The infection spread rapidly, turning into beatings and kidnappings of civil activists, fights with “Berkut” on Hrushevskogo, the cold-blooded shooting of the rebels on Institutska.
And later, real hotspots, hostage-taking, torture of prisoners, anti-terrorist operations with dozens of victims, mutual curses and militaristic calls akin to Putin’s “Kill in the toilet!” came to our country.
Yes, Vladimir Vladimirovich has made a tremendous effort to infect Ukraine, and the main sources of the Russian disease were the pro-Russian forces. However the patriotic society, which is countering the Kremlin, has also caught the neighbour’s illness. Despite the hopes, the rejection of Russian despotism and militarism does not protect one from infection.
The level of cruelty against the “colorados” is growing dramatically, equating itself to the degree of hatred to the “Benderites.” On May 2nd many Ukrainians were inspired by the death of their compatriots in the Odesa Trade Union House: the victims were not longer considered people, but enemies. This is a typical reaction of the Russian layperson, who celebrated the deaths of the enemies in Chechnya, Georgia, or the World Trade Centre in New York.
Ukraine today is being divided into activists with blue-and-yellow and St. George’s Ribbons, into patriots and traitors, into separatists and protectors of territorial integrity.
However there is a deeper mental divide, which has separated our society in two. Into those who celebrate enemy corpses, because they are enemies. And those who cannot be happy, because they are corpses.
The former have already been affected by the Russian disease, however, oftentimes they do no comprehend it. The latter are still retaining their immunity. For long?
Unfortunately, war has its own laws and its own merciless logic. In order to fight equally, one needs to somehow become similar to their enemy. “Evil births evil,” “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” “Should an enemy not surrender, they will be destroyed” – now this is not just a number of abstract maxims, but our everyday life. If separatists are kidnapping and torturing people, cutting open the stomachs of the victims, beating and killing pro-Ukrainian demonstrators – then they cannot be pitied and shown humanity.
If Moscow is leading a full-fledged informational war against us using Dmitry Kiselev – then the Ukrainian mass media have to forget about objectivity, impartiality and other democratic standards.
If Russia is standing as a united front, burning out those who think differently with hot iron, then we have to tighten the bolts and persecute the ideological supporters of the enemy.
Liberalism and tolerance threaten failure, in contrast, cruelty gives a chance of winning. However, this will not only be a victory over Putin, but also a victory over our own humanity.
Will Ukraine withstand Russia’s pressure?
Today this question worries millions of our compatriots. But another, no less significant question has to be asked – how much will the surviving Ukraine be different from the Northern neighbour?
Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina