Duma Vice-Chair: Russian-speaking people in Ukraine risk ‘genocide’


Russia’s “brothers” in Crimea, but also in Ukraine's mainland, fear for their lives, as ultra-extremists and fascists in Ukraine are marching with torches and erecting gallows for Russians and Jews, Sergey Zheleznyak, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma, told EurActiv in an exclusive interview.

Sergei Zheleznyak, born in 1970, was elected in 2007 as member of the Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, representing President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party. A former advertising, media and public relations executive, he heads the Duma's information department. Zheleznyak became Deputy Chairman of the Duma in June 2012.

He spoke to EurActiv’s Senior Editor Georgi Gotev.

With a group of Russian MPs, you visited the European Parliament in Strasbourg yesterday (12 March). What was your message to the MEPs?

Our main task was to tell the MEPs the truth about events in Ukraine and in Crimea. We came to express our worries with regard to the actions of those who took power by force in Kyiv, and who openly threaten not only the Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine, but also all those who express views different from the rhetoric of ultra-nationalists, who today control the greater part of its state bodies and media.

We also tried to explain why the citizens of Crimea, who feel that their lives and health are threatened, have turned for help and assistance to the Russian authorities, and not to those who proclaim themselves as the power in Kyiv. And to explain why we cannot turn down the requests of our Crimean brothers.

I hope we have been heard, as in the European Parliament, the relations between Russia and Crimea and the historic role of Crimea in Russian history have been a revelation. We hope that we have been able to compensate for a lack of information.

Also, we have expressed our concern about the mass human rights violations in Ukraine. Irrespective of the political processes in Ukraine, nobody has the right to violate basic human rights and freedoms, the right to life, of expression, of speaking in the mother tongue.

We would like our colleagues in the European Parliament to dispense with double standards, as they show very deep concern about citizens in Ukraine, but strangely keep their eyes shut when massive numbers of citizens of Ukraine, and in the Baltics are oppressed. Which by the way, is not a secret.

While you were delivering these messages, the leaders of the G7 appealed to your country to stop its work on a referendum in Ukraine's Crimea region, and cease all efforts to change the status of Crimea. How would you comment?

The Russian side has no relation whatsoever with the referendum to be conducted in Crimea. This is an initiative of the citizens of Crimea. Our opinion is that only the citizens of Crimea have the right to decide how they will live, and with whom they will unite. Nobody has the right to influence their positions. And the most democratic form of expression of will is the referendum. We reminded our colleagues of the European Parliament of their own position in the case of the self-proclaimed independence of Kosovo, which they do not consider a violation of international law.

So Russia considers the referendum legitimate, and you are preparing to recognise its results?

Nobody gave us a valid argument why the referendum or its results could be considered illegitimate. Of course, it is the responsibility of the people of Crimea, and the parliament of Crimea, to hold a referendum in the best possible way, so that all citizens can express their will. Only after the results of the referendum can we discuss its consequences.

If a majority will ask Crimea to become part of Russia, when will this physically happen? Is there a need for a decision by the Russian Duma?

It would be strange if I would specify dates for implementing decisions which have not yet been taken. But I can assure you that in case of a majority of citizens of Crimea asking for unification with the Russian Federation, all bodies of the Russian Federation will make everything necessary to make this decision materialise, with minimal delays according to our country’s legislation.

Isn’t Russia worried that this will trigger a new Cold War?

I think that the Russian Federation should worry more, as any other civilised country should, that millions of citizens in Ukraine find themselves under the threat of genocide. And that in case of a civilised way out from the crisis, they may simply die. I will remind you of the slogan of Ukrainian ultra-nationalists, which openly states that Crimea should be Ukrainian, or without people.

Why do you speak of genocide? Genocide is a term referring to mass murder of many thousands of people, millions as during the Holocaust…

In Crimea, there are two million Russians. In Western Ukraine and in Kiev, where marches remain ongoing, with exhortations to kill the Russian and the Jews, every person who is not a nationalist risks losing his life or his health. Not allowing genocide and Kiev’s leniency vis-à-vis the ultra-nationalists are the reasons why Crimea decided to hold the referendum.

But why is it that only the Russian side sees such extreme actions in Ukraine, as you describe them? Why does the rest of the world see a completely different picture?

That’s a question to be asked to the Western media. I would direct them to Russian-speaking journalists and journalists of Hebrew faith. They should ask them, and also ask questions to those who march with torches and erect gallows for Russians and Jews.

Why do both sides speak so much about fascism these days? On the one side, some compare President Putin with Hitler, while in Russia the new Ukraine government is described as having fascists in its ranks. How would you comment?

Russian politicians have never expressed a positive attitude vis-à-vis Nazism, fascism. Moreover, in Russia this would be a criminal offense. All Russian politicians, including President Putin, have done a lot so that the multi-national Russian people wouldn’t lurch toward the darkness of nationalism. In Ukraine, those who took power openly promote and pay tribute to those who during World War II directly participated on the side of Hitler and the SS division Galichina [SS-Volunteer Division "Galician", which incorporated Ukrainian nationals], and war criminals such as Bandera  [Stepan Bandera, one of the leaders of Ukrainian national movement in Western Ukraine (Galicia), who headed the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists] and others who led punitive units, that exterminated peaceful citizens.

I read articles where the Crimea referendum is compared to the referendum conducted by Hitler in Austria after the Anschluss. What will you say?

I haven’t read such articles. The referendum in Crimea takes place on the initiative and according to the will of the people of Crimea. You can get acquainted with the census polls that have been conducted there over many years, and from there you can deduct the degree of association of those citizens with Ukraine and with Russia.

When you return to Moscow, what will you tell your electors?

I will tell them that we went to Strasbourg to tell the truth about what is happening in the Ukraine, to express our worries about the rise of neo-Nazism and its spread in Europe with the leniency of the Brussels bureaucracy, and to express our position about the defense of Russian-speaking citizens about the threat of genocide, driven by nationalism.

You said ‘Brussels bureaucracy’. Has it become an enemy for Russia?

Of course not. The EU is our strategic partner. It’s very important for us on the issue of the situation in Ukraine there be no bloodshed, that the criminals there should be punished following investigation, and that institutional reform in Ukraine be carried out according to international law, and not by the armed people who have seized power. 



Anna's picture

«Russian Spring" came to the Crimea: war or peace .
Arayik Sargsyan , Academician, President of the Academy of Geopolitics , Honorary Consul of Macedonia to Armenia.
May 22, 1949 James Forrestal, the first (by then former) U.S. Secretary of Defense, while in a psychiatric hospital, committed suicide by jumping from the window. During the illness, according to the common story, he raved, repeating the words: "The Russians are coming".
March 16, 2014 a referendum in the Crimea on the status of an autonomous republic whose citizens express their opinion on whether the subject of the Russian Federation Crimea or remain part of Ukraine with broad powers. This will be a referendum for the citizens of Ukraine litmus test of the new government, which has already been set in terms of chess zughzwang , where any statement in Kiev only worsen his situation . It is clear that the new government of the victorious revolution fear the collapse of the country to pieces, some of which will go immediately under the protectorate of the EU , Russia and others . But why Ukraine should break up into its constituent parts , their differing ideological code , why can not live in peace and harmony ? First of all , in its different mentality influenced by Western countries and Russia , as well as with respect to the property. The main mistake of the new authorities of Kiev was the fact that they did not even try to change the status quo, in which all Ukraine is divided into zones of influence of oligarchs. Removing from the political arena Yanukovych , who was the mouthpiece and the Executive power of the oligarchs , the victorious revolution did not even try to change the current situation in the economy when the country led to the collapse of not only Yanukovych and his thieving nukes’ , but also representatives of greedy capitalism. Leaving things as they are , the leaders betrayed Maidan " heavenly hundred" betrayed the Ukrainian people and trampled on the country's future . Therefore, separation of the Crimea from Ukraine and its joining to Russia is welcome.
That the state 's foreign policy is often openly cynical and has long been known to everyone. However, it would be good to our President Barack Obama recalled saying someone famous Italian philosopher and politician Niccolo Machiavelli , " one escaped trouble yourself in another , but in the fact wisdom to weighing all possible trouble , the lesser evil for the good of honor ."
In recent days, even in the leading Western media there are more articles and interviews where Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry transparent reminded that their angry tirades against Putin and the upcoming referendum in the Crimea is not just saturated with cynicism and those superlatives.
Even such pillars of the American press, as New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, ForeignPolicy.com, and many others are beginning to speak not only of frequent violations of international law by the United States, but also numerous facts straight income Washington in the internal affairs of other countries, including in the process of forming a new government in Ukraine . Moreover, many media are seriously concerned about the participation of representatives of governments openly “neonatsist” circles.
Not to mention the famous telephone conversation deputy. Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine , and using profanity in which they discussed whom to appoint in Kiev on what position , press outraged by the behavior of the same Nuland , Senator McCain and other top American and European politicians openly flirt with extremists and neo-Nazis on the Maidan .
However, now the main topic discussed - is the issue of sanctions and here Obama, Merkel and other Western leaders should remember the above words of Machiavelli , and weigh the consequences of these sanctions. Will they be good or evil, they will create a problem only for Russia, but perhaps for the West, and they will not strike most in Ukraine ?
If Obama Ukrainians are not simply pawns in a geopolitical game, then he should think about it and Statecraft , befitting the president of a great power . He should stop making irresponsible statements and loud and spend time on pointless PR , like meeting with the "kamikaze" Yatsenyuk.
Instead, Obama should immediately convene a conference to invite Putin major European and Chinese leaders for constructive discussion almost forgotten ideas of George Bush Sr. about creating arcs security and economic cooperation from Vancouver to Vladivostok , which will now be promoted to Beijing. It is clear that there is currently no serious geopolitical configuration can not be sustained without the participation of China.
All this may sound rather naive , but while in Washington and Brussels, we did not hear any more constructive ideas , in addition to the threat of sanctions . Moreover, inflame themselves with such threats , you can reach a dangerous level , and even then it will be not only a return to the Cold War that has already occurred, but a repetition of the situation with the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 , and even , God forbid , to third World War.
Understand whether it is in Washington? I think yes, but , apparently , there is completely different agenda . By and large, Obama holds the same short-sighted policy in relation to Russia , and that George W. Bush . After the tragic events of September 11, Putin immediately called Bush and America offered virtually unlimited support of his country. This support would later play an important role in the defeat of the Taliban and thereby saved many lives of American military during the war in Afghanistan.
While almost all U.S. politicians to praise Putin and greeted him almost as a national hero. To consolidate the relations between the two countries , Putin proposed Bush to create a strategic alliance between Russia and the United States for further mutually beneficial military and economic cooperation , but this proposal was summarily rejected. Such an alliance would be an invaluable contribution not only in the fight against global jihad , but also for the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction , energy security and cooperation in many other areas , from agriculture to space exploration. Instead, Washington launched a crusade color revolutions on the former Soviet republics, and continued efforts to further NATO expansion, including Georgia and Ukraine . According to one of the most prominent American diplomat George Kennan , this policy was the greatest mistake that will lead to a new Cold War , which, unfortunately , happened.
It is no secret that the current crisis was triggered by the efforts of Brussels , I think not without the knowledge of Washington, then six post-Soviet countries have been invited to sign an association agreement with the EU. And no one really no secret that the main aim of this project was not so much a desire to help the economic development of these countries as an attempt to isolate them from Russia . Quite naturally, if it really was a question of helping them , it should be included in this list , and that Russia would benefit all parties and, above all , Ukraine , given its close family , economic, religious and cultural ties with Russia .
It is clear that the idea expressed here - is the voice of one crying in the wilderness, and it can implement only with the arrival of man in the White House with the strategic vision of Ronald Reagan , surrounded by a group of wise counselors who understand that in America's interest to try to make Russia as an ally . Unlikely this can be achieved under the present administration, so we have no choice but to wait for new elections in 2016. In the meantime, you need to do everything possible to avoid the worst-case scenario in the form of a direct confrontation between Russia and the United States .
Time is working against the government winning Maidens , who simply do not know what to do with this power . Or know ? Several questions arise : 1. Frequent consultations in Brussels Yatsenyuk evrovlastyami yielded nothing Ukraine to maintain its integrity and economic revival . Why Europe is not interested in a strong and democratic Ukraine , which is a full member of the EU ? Apparently, no 2 . Injection of nationalist rhetoric is rejection at residents of the eastern regions and the Crimea , but welcomed the western region of Ukraine , where there is no "successful" multibillion oligarchs recklessly appointed governors Kiev eastern provinces. For what it is , who initially creates a divided society with a different approach to the property ? Brussels hosts that do not need Ukraine as a whole successful state with its place in the general division of labor 3 . Deliberate incitement still cold war with Russia , Ukrainians and Russian opposition , the game Russophobian sentiments central and western parts of Ukraine , with the actual boost eastern regions to secede from " Nenko " and the opposition in Moscow and Kiev . Authority of the victorious revolution divide Ukraine hurry, drawing her into chaos ? Yes, these actions are peaceful plan for Europe "independence» of Ukraine, because someone - he must pay for the mistakes of the EU. The next will be the payer Russia.
Arayik Sargsyan, Academician, President of the Academy of Geopolitics , Honorary Consul of Macedonia to Armenia.

Nathan Fleischman's picture

This coming from a person from a country anti-Semitism is common. I was talking about Russia. And by the way, anti-Semitism is illegal in Germany and Austria because of Hitler.