The Guardian stoops to new lows in the anti-Russia propaganda campaign. This is a shameless piece; a [see update below – the link on which this post is based has been removed] page of photographs of “stamps” – in fact propaganda media – put out by Ukranian exiles during the Soviet period.
This is the explanatory text:
Ukrainian photographer Oleksandr Kosmach collects 20th-century stamps issued by Ukrainian groups in exile during the Soviet era.
Artists and exiles around the world would use stamps to communicate the horrors of Soviet oppression. “These stamps show us the ideas and values of these people, who they really were and what they were fighting for,” Kosmach says
Some of the “stamps” refer to the famine in Ukraine which took place in the early 1930s. One refers to it as “artificially created”. However; responsible historians consider that, at worst, this famine – which also affected other grain-growing areas of the USSR – was not tackled as effectively as it might have been by Stalin.
Another of the “stamps” refers to Chernobyl as an “intentional experiment” on “Ukrainian territory”. The facts of the matter are that it was an accident in which the bad design of a US made reactor played a part. (This might not have been known at the time).
The UPA who is celebrated on the stamps was not an especially pretty organisation. In the later years of the war they collaborated with the Nazis in pursuit of their nationalist aims.
These propaganda materials belong in a museum. While understandable in its historical context it is pretty sickening to see propaganda of this kind being “celebrated” and recycled without context. (A bit similar to republishing Mein Kampf without any commentary).
But this is par for the course. One of the Guardian’s better sketch writers is Marina Hyde. But recently I’ve noticed what you could call anti-Russia “tropes” creeping into her work. A sly joke about how a Russian judge at a sporting event is bound to be corrupt. A “jokey” reference to Putin boiling opponents alive. (Embarrassing in fact since the allegation is that this is what the President of UK ally Uzbekistan did, not Putin).
We are basically in the situation as we were in the sixties when normal and otherwise respectable people are prepared to casually denigrate and demonise another country and its citizens essentially in the manner of savages. Pretty depressing really.
The link to the article above with Ukrainian nationalist propaganda materials no longer works. It appears that the Guardian belatedly realised that it “lacked the necessary historical context and presentation.”
I’ve noticed an article by someone who claims to be the author of the original Guardian piece – the collection of anti-Russian stamps – in a Ukrainian journal. I don’t speak Ukrainian so I had to translate it with a translator. The author credits this site with being partly to blame for the Guardian removing the piece – which is quite flattering since this site gets about 15 visitors a day! The author misrepresents what I said above. For example my “A bit similar to republishing Mein Kampf without any commentary” becomes “He compares the publication of a small post with Ukrainian stamps with the ‘reprint of Mein Kampf'”. which is true in a sense but dishonest because it misrepresents my obvious meaning (a “bit” similar). He claims that I wrote that the the famine in Ukraine in the 1930s would have been more ‘effective’ if Stalin had done it on purpose. In fact I wrote: “However; responsible historians consider that, at worst, this famine – which also affected other grain-growing areas of the USSR – was not tackled as effectively as it might have been by Stalin.” And finally, Alexander Kosmach, claims that I wrote “the Chernobyl accident (which was also a stamp) was due to poor American reactor design”. In fact I said it played a part (which is factually correct). We can safely say that Alexander Kosmach is dishonest; he is misrepresenting what I wrote. He is a propagandist defending his propaganda. (He has also found a web page with personal information about me and given my location – which could be seen as some kind of incitement – not the work of a serious writer).
For the record – I’m not opposed to Ukrainian nationalism in any way. The point is simply that the kind of material which I’ve described above needs – just as the Guardian now says – to be presented in context.