Thursday, March 20, 2014

Some Hidden History of Ukraine and Russia--Part 1

In recent weeks, the Democratic Obama-Kerry administration has apparently been promising U.S. government backing for a recently set-up Ukrainian nationalist regime that includes representatives of right-wing Ukrainian nationalist groups like Svoboda and Right Sector. Yet most people in the United States know very little about the hidden history of the people who have lived, historically, in either Ukraine or Russia. According, for example, to Anatol Lieven's 1999 Ukraine & Russia book:

"...Ukraine was clearly not an economic colony in the traditional sense. Because of climate and history, Ukrainian agriculture and the Ukrainian peasantry were always richer than those of Russia, and by the end of the nineteenth century, Ukraine has also become one of the main industrial centers of the [Russian] empire (although the capital for this industry was to a great extent neither Ukrainian nor Russian, but West European). In these senses, Ukraine's relationship to Russia was like that of Scotland to England, clearly subordinate but with elements of partnership in, identity with, and profit from the imperial enterprise, and this relationship continued under Soviet rule...

"In the Russian Empire...Ukrainians came to be governed by exactly the same institutions and laws as Russians. With the...exception of the laws affecting the use of language, in terms of personal rights and was impossible to tell who were the `colonizers' and who the `colonized,' and this was also true in the economic field.

"This was of course...true under Communist rule...An ordinary Russian worker, whether under imperial or Soviet rule, was also in no way economically better off than the Ukrainian at the next machine, nor did he feel racially superior, nor did the Ukrainian see him in any way living a superior life...At the level of personal experience, Soviet Ukraine was not a `colonial' society in this way, and so it is hardly surprising that it did not produce an `anticolonial' reaction among most Ukrainians. As a result, in the words of Andrew Wilson, `The majority of the population who voted for independence (in 1991) clearly associate themselves not with the nationalist movement or the independent Ukrainian governments of 1917-1920, but with the heritage of Soviet Ukraine.'"

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