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added: 05-01-2005 16:55
Bishop Paul Peter Jesep: Russia's Mouthpiece

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Believe me not, and yet I lie not;
I confess nothing, nor I deny nothing.

Shakespeare

Ukrainians will find dark humor in the English or Russian edition of Pravda as it attempts to marginalize blossoming liberty in the ancestral Motherland. Comic relief, however, isnt why patriots in Ukraine or the Diaspora should regularly monitor the tabloid's contents, or other Russian media outlets.

Rather than promote democracy, the former Communist mouthpiece is furthering the authoritarianism of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The newspaper provides insight into the mindset of Moscow's political power brokers that may foretell of the challenges Ukraine faces. Pravda is another reason why the Diaspora must marshal resources to maintain a first-rate communications strategy to keep average citizens in the West apprised of events as they unfold in eastern Europe.

On December 9, Pravda ran a piece noting that it is up to Ukrainians to decide whether they opt for the western stooge, Yushchenko, who will try to install NATO bases on his soil in return for billionaire contracts, who will represent the rural, poorer western Ukrainians and who will alienate the more prosperous and developed eastern Ukrainians, whose industrial development is second to none in the region and who might very well decide to relocate to Russia, should the conditions be created.

Calling Yushchenko a western stooge is indicative of Russias historic xenophobia, which also fuels its hubris to influence Ukraine. Such yellow journalism may cause a chuckle, but make no mistake it reveals an ingrained, hostile attitude toward Europes second largest nation. Pravda is an important tool in manipulating the views of the average Russian about Ukraine. In doing so, it lays out the justification for future overt or covert government action.

Twelve days later, the newspaper contended that the loss of Ukraine will virtually mean that Russia's existence as a superpower is over. It will only prove that Russia is unable to do anything in the country [Ukraine], where the majority of people speak Russian and where many think of themselves as Russians. Whether Russia remains a superpower isnt Ukraines problem. Kyiv should hardly be expected to surrender sovereignty to address its northern neighbors insecurities. But lets be realistic. Russia is not likely to understand that position any time soon.

It should be clear that Moscow will never leave Ukraine alone. Pravdas sensational political spin that Ukraine is a primarily Russian-speaking nation suggests a misguided justification that Moscow has some claim to protect these people. It also implies that a Russian province has engaged in a political aberration needing correction.

Dont forget Adolf Hitlers occupation of the Sudetenland to protect German-speaking citizens of Czechoslovakia. Nor did the Kremlin hold back on using troops to quell unrest in the former East Bloc. This is not to suggest that Russia has the ability or resources to send tanks into Ukraine. Whether that happens is not the issue. There are political and economic pressures that can be employed to better position Moscow to manipulate Ukraine.

Pravda has accused the incoming president of planning to take office and obtain the powers of a king. After 10 years of Moscow puppet Leonid Kuchma, this remark is as funny as the notion that Ukrainian policy will not depend much on Yushchenko - the USA will have total control over Ukraine's strategic line. Yet as ridiculous as all of this is, something said often enough becomes believable. The Kremlin can justify intervention based on national security.

By the way, it was the complacency of the United States that played a role in the second fraudulent election. American foreign policy enabled Putin a heavy hand in Ukraine over the last four years. It should also be remembered that America lagged behind Canada, Australia and European democracies in protesting the second election. If Ukraine has learned anything from recent events, the motherland knows that its on its own. The Orange Revolution came from the people and it is from them that the integrity of Ukraines political, economic and cultural sovereignty will be preserved.

Putins mouthpiece also contends that Pro-Americans took active measures to seize central power in Ukraine after the second round of the presidential election was over with Yanukovich's victory . . . Pro-Russians in their turn tried to prove that the actions of the opposition, which they characterized as a coup, were illegal . . . Pro-Russians' attempts to come to agreement with revolutionaries and illusions to avoid serious conflicts eventually resulted in the lost of initiative.

Why is the spin pro-American versus pro-Russian? Why cant this be an expression of the will of a free people deciding their own destiny? There needs to be a rapid response to such statements from the Diaspora leadership.

Ukraine has won an important political victory, but a fragile one. The propaganda war is far from over. Russia must not be allowed to create Ukraines image to the outside world. We often see the damage that can be done to Ukraine when well-intentioned western scholars offer commentary through a Russian lens.


Bishop Paul Peter Jesep is chancellor of the Archeparchy and vicar general of public affairs and government relations for the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church-Sobornopravna (UAOC-S) based in Cleveland, Ohio. In the past, His Grace, a lawyer and political scientist by training, served on the staff of U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). Bishop Jesep has spent much of his career in communications, public affairs and public policy. He has studied at Bangor Theological Seminary (bts.edu), the third-oldest such school in the United States. Bishop Jesep may be reached at VladykaPaulPeter@aol.com. The views expressed here are strictly personal and do not reflect the official position of the UAOC-S.

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