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Crimea River, Kiev

Thanks to Mike Caputo for sharing his personal, and professional, insights into Russia’s most recent invasion of Ukraine (“Crimea River, Kiev,” v13n13). Two of his main points deserve amplification. The first is the pervasive effect of the Kremlin’s propaganda and its stranglehold on Russia’s mass media, with the goal of whipping up ultra-nationalist (read “fascist”) fervor inside of Russia. Putin’s deliberate destabilization of Eastern Ukraine combines the positioning of 40,000 heavily armed invasion troops at the border, while continuing the systematic brainwashing perfected during 350 years of Russian occupation, which was supplemented by the resettlement of ethnic Russians after the depopulation of seven million deliberate famine victims during Stalin’s Holodomor of 1932-1933.

The second point is the absolute distinctiveness between what it means to be a Ukrainian and what it means to be a subject of imperial Russia. Last winter’s massive popular revolution on Kyiv’s Maidan clearly shows that Ukraine desperately wants to be a European nation, where a transparent, non-corrupt government actually works for its citizens’ welfare and guarantees their human and civil rights, rather than cynically and brutally suppressing the population for the benefit of the ruling kleptocracy. More than a million supporters of Ukraine’s “Revolution of Dignity” rallied throughout the winter of 2013-2014 to overthrow an oppressive pro-Putin regime. The crowds were as diverse as modern Ukraine itself: The first victims of the government’s bullets were an ethnic Armenian and a Belorussian. Ukrainian speakers and Russian speakers stood shoulder to shoulder for three frigid winter months, along with Poles, Jews, Catholics, Orthodox, and non-religious Ukrainians. There are hundreds of Russian language schools in Ukraine paid for by Ukrainian taxpayers. Meanwhile in Russia there are over two million ethnic Ukrainians, and not a single Ukrainian language school. Even non-political Ukrainian cultural organizations have been outlawed in Russia. Putin’s Russia has proven that it will guarantee human rights the same way that Stalin or Hitler did.

The resurgent threat of Russian imperial aggression has not been lost on Poland, which has participated in urgent NATO military activity and is exploring all economic, energy security, and diplomatic avenues to protect itself. Buffalo’s Polish American community shows it solidarity with Ukraine’s struggling democracy, by co-sponsoring a series of local events. April 5 will see a Polish Happy Hour networking event at the Ukrainian Cultural Center Dnipro in Buffalo (562 Genesee Street, 5-11 pm). Also on Friday, May 2, there will be a Slavic Block Party with live music at Dnipro. Proceeds will help fund an Election Observer Mission to Ukraine for the May 25 presidential elections. (Please see for more information.)

> Emil Bandriwsky, Buffalo

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I have been a loyal reader since 1992 and have remained so because you always provide an excellent alternative to corporate media. It was with great disappointment that after picking up the latest issue I realized that you decided to give the cover story to a conservative operative who has plenty of media options available to him to spread his point of view. I’m wondering who will get next week’s cover story—maybe Kathy from Williamsville? So no Michael Niman, not even Bruce Fischer, but rather a piece from someone who, according to his own website, did PR work for the Contras back in the 1980s. Jesus Christ, and it’s not even April Fool’s Day.

> Ken Polchlopek, Lancaster

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