Opposition politician candidates, as I noted not long ago, have severe difficulties in Russian politics, and not just lately, under the authoritarian Putin régime.
Unpublicized has been a campaign in the Ukraine in which quite a few opponents of the U.S.-supported Poroshenko government have met grisly ends. From the website War Is a Crime:
Following the murder of Russian opposition leader, and former Deputy Prime Minister, Boris Nemtsov in Moscow on February 27, the West had a field day. Ranging from strong innuendo to outright accusation of murder, the Western media and politicians did not miss an opportunity to treat Vladimir Putin as a football practice dummy.
The European Parliament adopted a resolution urging an international investigation into Nemtsov’s death and suggested that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Council, and the United Nations could play a role in the probe.
US Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham introduced a Senate Resolution condemning the Nemtsov murder. The Resolution also called on President Obama and the international community to pursue an independent investigation into the murder and redouble efforts to advance free speech, human rights, and the rule of law in Russia. In addition, it urged Obama to continue to sanction human rights violators in the Russian Federation and to increase US support to human rights activists in Russia.
So it went … all over the West.
Meanwhile, in the same time period in Ukraine, outside of the pro-Russian area in the southeast, the following was reported:
January 29: Former Chairman of the local government of the Kharkov region, Alexey Kolesnik, hanged himself.
February 24: Stanislav Melnik, a member of the opposition party (Partia Regionov), shot himself.
February 25: The Mayor of Melitopol, Sergey Valter, hanged himself a few hours before his trial.
February 26: Alexander Bordiuga, deputy director of the Melitopol police, was found dead in his garage.
February 26: Alexander Peklushenko, former member of the Ukrainian parliament, and former mayor of Zaporizhi, was found shot to death.
February 28: Mikhail Chechetov, former member of parliament, member of the opposition party (Partia Regionov), “fell” from the window of his 17th floor apartment in Kiev.
March 14: The 32-year-old prosecutor in Odessa, Sergey Melnichuk, “fell” to his death from the 9th floor.
The Partia Regionov directly accused the Ukrainian government in the deaths of their party members and appealed to the West to react to these events. “We appeal to the European Union, PACE [Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe], and European and international human rights organizations to immediately react to the situation in Ukraine, and give a legal assessment of the criminal actions of the Ukrainian government, which cynically murders its political opponents.”
We cannot conclude from the above that the Ukrainian government was responsible for all, or even any, of these deaths. But neither can we conclude that the Russian government was responsible for the death of Boris Nemtsov, the American media and politicians notwithstanding.
In the nineteenth century the English-language designations of the Russians, Belorussians, and Ukrainians were respectively Great Russians, White Russians, and Little Russians; I used to wonder whether the Ukrainians were shorter than the other peoples on the banks of the Dniepr. Now I think the “little” refers solely to the size of the territory — the Brits didn’t know much more about Russia, generally, than what the map showed.
Whatever. Both Belorussians and Ukrainians have the Russians’ unfortunate habit of killing political opponents. For me it is particularly notable, the death of the person charged with investigating those responsible for the Odessa Massacre. We get all upset at it happening in Moscow, as we ought; we ignore it in small cities and towns in Ukraine.