Americans have been carefully shielded from the ugly underbelly of Ukraine’s Maidan uprising in 2014 that overthrew the elected president and installed a U.S.-backed, fiercely anti-Russian regime that has unleashed armed neo-Nazis.
But a French documentary has dared to expose this grim reality, as Gilbert Doctorow describes.
By Gilbert Doctorow
A new French documentary depicts a long-denied truth that Ukraine is in the grip of extreme right-wing nationalists who seek to impose what the British scholar Richard Sakwa called a monist view of nationhood, which does not accept minorities or heterogeneity.
Rainbow politics is not what the Maidan uprising was all about.
Like Communism which held power in Ukraine before 1992, this new extreme nationalism can impose its will only by violence or the threat of violence.
It is, by definition, the antithesis of European values of tolerance and multiculturalism.
This intimidation is what Paul Moreira’s Canal+ documentary, “Ukraine: The Masks of Revolution,” shows us graphically, frame by frame.
That this repression happens to take place under an ideology that incorporates elements of fascism, if not Nazism, is incidental but not decisive to the power of the documentary.
But what Moreira shows, as surprising as the contents may be to a Western audience, represents very basic journalism, reporting on events quite well known inside Ukraine even as this dark underbelly of the Maidan “revolution” has been hidden from most Europeans and Americans.
Moreira is a professional documentary filmmaker, not an area specialist.
He has done films in many countries, including Iraq, Israel, Burma, and Argentina. At the start of this Canal+ documentary, he was drawn to the subject of Ukraine’s Maidan uprising because he “felt sympathy for these people who demonstrated day after day on the streets in winter conditions.
“They wanted to join Europe, to move away from Russia. They wanted the corrupt President [Viktor] Yanukovych to leave. They hoped for more justice and fewer inequalities.”
“But I was struck by one thing the images of the American diplomat [Victoria] Nuland on Maidan distributing bread. The Free World, its cameras, sided with the insurgents.”
There were also discordant images of neo-Nazi symbols and flags. To assess the post-Maidan Ukraine, Moreira decided to go see for himself.
The documentary draws upon his interviews with leaders of the rightist paramilitary groups and extreme nationalist politicians, as well as other Ukrainians on both sides of the conflict.
He shows the attacks on police by Maidan street fighters before Yanukovych’s overthrow on Feb. 22, 2014, and the May 2, 2014 massacre in Odessa of 46 Russian-speaking demonstrators who opposed the new regime.
He shows a violent protest by nationalist extremists outside the parliament in Kyiv and the recent blockade by the Right Sektor militias stopping food and other goods crossing into Crimea, which voted overwhelmingly after the 2014 putsch to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia.
The Crimean blockade violated Ukrainian government policy but was not stopped by the Kyiv authorities.
* Doctorow was then the European Coordinator, American Committee for East-West Accord, Ltd. His book ‘Does Russia Have a Future?’ (August 2015) is available in paperback and e-book from Amazon.com and affiliated websites.
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This is an excerpt from a longer review Doctorow published here.