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Ukraine: Outrage and Double Standards

Published: August 6, 2014 (Issue # 1823)



  • A makeshift memorial to the victims of the May 2 fire in Odessa, which left more than 40 people dead.
    Photo: Vadim Ghirda / AP

A dangerous polarization of opinion between Russia and the West developed during the early months of the Ukraine crisis, creating a growing gulf between Russians and many parts of the outside world.

This polarization has reached a new level of rhetoric and hysteria with the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. Many Russians regardless of whether they have been supporters or opponents of Vladimir Putin have come to believe the tragedy, and the bodies of its victims, are being used to whip up a hatred that threatens all of them.

They compare this atmosphere to the deafening silence that greeted Russias repeated pleas for an international investigation of the May 2 massacre in Odessa. Dozens of pro-Russian protesters were burned alive when the building in which they had taken refuge from pro-Ukrainian gangs was set on fire. According to a New York Times account confirmed by witnesses from both sides, as the flames engulfed the building Ukrainian activists sang the Ukrainian national anthem. They also hurled a new taunt: Colorado for the Colorado potato beetle, striped red and black like the pro-Russian ribbons. Those outside chanted burn Colorado, burn.

Alarmingly, the exact number of casualties still has not been established, and there is no international effort to find the truth.

If Western news organizations declare that its their policy to expose the shameful facts of ethnic hatred or the abuse of human rights, they should do so without fear or favor, regardless of the nationalities involved.

It is easy to dismiss calls to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine as Kremlin propaganda. Europe has already paid a high price for its limp response earlier this year to the escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine between government forces and the pro-Russian rebels. Russias complaints about rampant Ukrainian nationalism and violations of the rights of ethnic Russians were at first largely ignored in the West, as if they were a total fabrication.

But from the Ukrainian parliaments move in February blocked by the president to repeal a law giving the Russian language official status in some regions, to Ukrainian nationalists singing anti-Russian chants as pro-Russian activists were being burnt alive in Odessa, clearly the claims were serious.

Several Russian journalists, including reporters from Russias Zvezda TV, were captured by Ukrainian forces, and three Russian journalists were killed when covering the conflict in Ukraine. Some Russian sources maintain the Ukrainian army was responsible.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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