No Minister

The Face of Ordinary Russians

with 16 comments

At least some ordinary Russians in this street vox pop. I must admit that these can be deceptive because the media sources conducting these will often edit out those voices that don’t support their narrative.

But in this case that’s what so scary about these interviews. The Russian media source clearly did like what it heard – and only a very little of it towards the end sounds even halfway compassionate.

Now add to such views this Op Ed – What Should Russia do with Ukraine? – written by one Timofei Sergeitsev, a pundit writing for a (very) pro-Russian news source called RIA Novosti:

Denazification is a set of measures aimed at the nazified mass of the population, which technically cannot be subjected to direct punishment as war criminals”

“However, besides the elite, a significant part of the masses of the people, who are passive nazis, are accomplices to Nazism. They have supported the Nazi authorities and indulged them”
… 
“…The just punishment for this part of the population is possible only as the bearing of the inevitable hardships of a just war against the Nazi system” 

“The name Ukraine can seemingly not be retained as the title of any fully denazified state formation on the territory liberated from the Nazi regime” 

“Denazification is inevitably also deukrainisation – a rejection of the large-scale artificial inflation of the ethnic element of self-identification of the population of the territories of the historical Malorossiya and Novorossiya begun by the Soviet authorities” 

“Unlike, let’s say, Georgia or the Baltics, Ukraine, as history has shown, is unviable as a national state, and attempts to ‘build’ one logically lead to Nazism” 

“The Banderite elite must be liquidated, its reeducation is impossible. The social ‘swamp’ which actively and passively supports it must undergo the hardships of war and digest the experience as a historical lesson and atonement”

More of it can be seen here and it also includes comments from former Russian President (and Putin confidant) Dmitry Medvedev, which you can read at this Russian site.

Hoo boy. When you see stuff like this is it any wonder that you get Russian soldiers executing civilians in places like Bucha. There’s no doubt that Ukrainian civilians have taken up arms against the invading Russians, the MSM has been packed with such (approving) stories for weeks now and the Ukrainian government made no bones about it. So yes, you’re going to have civilians getting killed in combat directly, as well killed indirectly by simply being in an urban combat zone, and there were several hundred bodies of Russian soldiers found in Bucha as well as a lot of destroyed armour and weapons, so it’s obvious that some brutal combat took place there.

Armies have never dealt well with civilians in combat, but the sort of shit seen here and here – civilians casually shot in the street with their hands tied behind their backs – is beyond that, as are the two large mass graves that have been found, containing hundreds of civilians. Such things tie in so perfectly with the statements above by Russian civilians and politicians; if you’re going to call much of the Ukrainian people “Nazis”, whether civilian, soldier, or politician, then you can’t be surprised when your soldiers shoot such civilians. It might be a vague “plan” of liquidation, but it’s a plan none the less, and it sure as hell is something beyond one unit or commander going rogue while under attack.

The bodies of at least 20 men in civilian clothes found lying in a single street Saturday after Ukrainian forces retook the town of Bucha near Kyiv from Russian troops, AFP journalists said

This is probably also why the Russian government has, in the last couple of days, cycled through three “explanations” for the murders in Bucha. They started with the classic claim that it’s a Western /American / Ukrainian “fake massacre” (dealt with superbly here by comparing satellite photos with on-the-ground footage), followed by “it’s Ukrainians killing collaborators” (which seemed to be pushed more internally than to the West), followed by “the dead were killed by Ukrainian artillery after Russia retreated“.

The first rule of propaganda is to pick one story and stick to it relentlessly. When you don’t it’s a tell that you’ve been caught by surprise and are scrambling.

I’ve tried to stand apart from what I know is propaganda coming from both sides in this war (and the Ukrainians are far better at it than Russia, especially on Social Media) and civilian massacres by soldiers occur in every war.

But what is seen in Bucha is systematic and aligns perfectly with the opinions of all too many Russians; if there are so many “Nazis” in the Ukraine, and they’re committing “genocide” – both being claims that resonate deeply in Russia – and you’re determined on “denazification” of the place, then these killings are exactly what you’d expect – and probably even want.

Written by Tom Hunter

April 6, 2022 at 4:55 pm

16 Responses

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  1. Where to even start with this shit?

    You believe the Russians are responsible for Bucha because you want to believe it and any attempt to present evidence to the contrary will be dismissed out of hand. When dealing with people with closed minds you might as well debate with a carrot.

    I will tell you this though the Russian Ambassador to the UN twice requested and emergency session of the Security Council to examine these claims and was twice rebuffed by the UK

    Why might that be do you suppose?

    I’ll tell you something else Ukraine is a large country in fact apart from Russia itself it is the largest country in Europe and like any large country and not so large is some cases the way people speak varies as you move North to South, East to West, that’s certainly true in the US and it is certainly true in the UK – in fact if a native of Surrey visits Tyneside the Tynesiders if they so choose can slip into a dialect completely unintelligible to the man from Surrey though of course they share a common language and can easily communicate with one another if they so choose

    And if you wanted to screw the UK up you might define the most extreme version of the Tyneside dialect as a new language and then force people from Surrey to speak it, even though they might find it difficult or in some cases impossible if they are older – this is what has actually happened in Ukraine

    Here’s another thing Ukraine is not a single cohesive entity with a single cohesive history but four distinct regions (not counting Crimea) cobbled together by the Bolsheviks in 1922.

    There is no Ukrainian nation with a long tradition, it is something that appeared as a independent political entity a mere 30 years ago and probably would have thrived if the USA hadn’t meddled there and developed it into a weapon to be used against its fraternal nation Russia while looting its resources, transforming the richest and most developed republic of the Former USSR into the poorest nation in Europe in the process

    As for selected “vox pops” which are translated in the most unfavorable way look at what is said by some on this very blog about Russians or Arabs or anyone else perceived to be beyond the pale and the ask yourself honestly are you any better

    Andrei

    April 6, 2022 at 6:27 pm

    • Where to even start with this shit?

      Indeed. Perhaps with the Kievan Rus?

      Taieri

      April 6, 2022 at 7:16 pm

    • I don’t see why you complain of unfavorable translations of those street interviews when they are effectively saying what you are about the Ukraine; that it’s not a real nation among other things and that Russia is under threat from the outside.

      And I note that you did not address the written statements from that pro-Russian pundit, as well as Medvedev, which basically said the same things about Ukraine that those people on the street did.

      Even this incident, for all the screaming, will not drag the USA or NATO into this war, much as Zylensky might want that, so I don’t think you need worry about that.

      At the risk of repeating myself from the post, it’s your side that’s gone on and on about Ukrainian Nazis right from the start. Why then kid yourself that Russian soldiers would not kill “Nazis”.

      Tom Hunter

      April 6, 2022 at 7:46 pm

      • Tom I am trying to be a voice of rationality and reason here and presenting another side of the story that you do not see

        I know that you wont recognize it but the 2014 Maidan coup was actually designed to antagonize Russians by pressing buttons from the second world war, known in the Russian World as the Great Patriotic war

        One of the divisions in modern Ukraine is a religious boundary between Catholic and Uniates in the West and Orthodox in the East

        During WW2 the Western Uniates collaborated with the Germans and were responsible for many atrocities including Babi Yar

        One of the leaders of this group was called Stepan Bandera and followers of him were the shock troops in the 2014 coup

        Today in Ukraine there are statues to Stepan Bandera in public squares – there is a streets named after him in Kiev.

        Groups like the Azsov and Aidar battalions use the insignia of the Galician SS. This is something totally whitewashed in the Western media but incredibly provocative to many Ukrainians and Russians

        There is a lot more history here but that is a brief outline

        We can go round and round and round with this shit and you will just flick it off but it is real

        One thing that will happen after this is all over is that followers of Stepan Bandera will be afflicting Europe with terrorist activities and criminality having gone west as refugees. That is as predictable as the sun rising in the East.

        Andrei

        April 6, 2022 at 8:15 pm

  2. It would be worth considering whether the apparent scale of war crimes (deliberate killing of civilians) in Ukraine is a direct result of the nature of Russian military training, and also a result of the legacy of Bolshevik rule. Is there a difference between what western armies have done in the recent past?

    John Minto, on The Daily Blog, has specifically referred to Fallujah, and essentially says there is no difference.

    I intend looking at this question more deeply in a further post.

    As for war crimes, starting a war of aggression, as Putin has done is of itself a war crime. arguably the most serious war crime, aside from genocide. Starting a war of aggression was the principal crime that the Nazi leadership were convicted of in the Nuremberg trial. President Putin personally is prima facie guilty of such a crime.

    As for Andrei’s point that Ukraine has only existed as independent state for 30 years, it is irrelevant. Ukraine was recognised by all, including Russia, as an independent nation. It therefore has all the protections of international law.

    Wayne

    April 6, 2022 at 7:01 pm

    • You know Wayne when you invoke “International Law” you open yourself to accusations of displaying double standards.

      Since 1990 how many recognized “independent States” has the USA invaded since 1990?

      How for example does the seizing of Kosovo by NATO (actually the USA but under the Banner of NATO) in 1999 align with international law?

      I understand this is your area of expertise so your response might be illuminating

      Andrei

      April 6, 2022 at 7:26 pm

  3. “Tom I am trying to be a voice of rationality and reason here and presenting another side of the story that you do not see”
    Voice of rationality?? That’s a good one.
    Let’s face it Andrei you’ll spew the Kremlin line no matter what.

    Old Curmudgeon

    April 6, 2022 at 10:15 pm

  4. Let’s face it Andrei Old Curmudgeon you’ll spew the Kremlin Washington DC line no matter what.

    See two can play at that game – but it leads nowhere and is boring

    I suggest to you that there is evidence that suggests a Belorussian Neo-Nazi called Sergiy Korotkikh, known as Botsman was responsible for this incident

    And I’d further suggest the videos he posted were not intended for Western consumption but for Ukrainian consumption the message being sent Do not cooperate with the Russians

    I’d suggest to you indicators that this is the correct interpretation might be some of the bodies at least are surrounded by Russian Food parcels and are wearing white armbands, which is a marker of being non hostile to Russian Forces. In this troubled place blue arm bands signify the the same for the Ukrainian forces

    I want to refrain from linking to these images and videos because these people are Human beings and using their corpses in this manner Breaks My Heart and is pure wickedness in my view – OK

    Andrei

    April 7, 2022 at 6:50 am

  5. Are the Russian Army and the US Army just the same, that they both deliberately kill civilians with equal felicity?

    The “what about” crowd have been arguing this. In New Zealand the main proponent of this approach is John Minto who has had numerous articles on “The Daily Blog” arguing this point. He has a number of devoted disciples among the regular commenters, but he also gets a lot of push back. His most recent example of “whataboutism” was Fallujah compared to Bucha.

    There is no doubt that the US armed forces are a lot more kinetic than most western armies. The US armed forces have a lot of firepower and they use it. In Fallujah, the amount of fire power used by the US Marines in the closely fought battle resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians. Using that amount of direct firepower within a closely packed city, as Arab cities tend to be, will result in numerous civilian casualties. The use of phosphorous by the Marines also resulted in numerous civilian deaths.

    The same has happened in Ukraine. The Russian Army uses a lot of artillery, which is an area weapon, not a discriminate weapon. Although the artillery strikes have caused a large amount of civilian deaths, of itself this is not a war crime. By and large, western military commentators have not accused Russia of war crimes because they have used artillery, even in built up areas when civilian deaths are inevitable. In that sense there is a similarity to Fallujah.

    The discriminating point is whether civilians are deliberately targeted beyond any legitimate military objective. For instance tying their hands up, lining them up against the wall and shooting them. Without question that is a war crime. There is no evidence that the US Marines did that in Fallujah, but the evidence is overwhelming that is what Russian soldiers did in Bucha.

    I actually did check out Andrei’s argument that Segriy Korotkikh, a commander within the Azov battalions, carried out the massacres in Bucha shortly after the Russians left. However, BBC (I know, part of the dreaded and corrupt MSM) has been able to find satellite photos that show the bodies have been lying in the streets for at least 10 days. BBC, NYT, CNN have huge numbers of staff able to undertake this sort of research, they have teams of journalists, not just one or two, on the ground. And unlike some on this site, I don’t think the journalists employed by these outlets are corrupt and venal dupes.

    So why might the Russian soldiers act like this? One of the startling features of the war is the propensity of the Russian Army to leave their dead on the battlefield, not just one to two in unrecoverable situations, but dozens, if not hundreds, in situations where they could have been recovered if the effort was made. That would be unthinkable in any modern western army. It says something about the culture of the Russian Army.

    It is widely known that the training of the Russian Army has a brutal aspect, that recruits are routinely abused with no consequences for the trainers who do this. Much of this is due to the cultural legacy of the Soviet Union, where individual rights were not exactly the focus of the political system. How much training do Russian soldiers get on human rights and the laws of war?

    So perhaps it is not surprising that Russian soldiers can act harshly toward civilians, they themselves have brutalised. In addition they have been told that Ukrainian political leaders are Nazis. Perhaps Russian soldiers would think local political leaders, such as suburban Mayors and councillors, are also Nazis. Given how bad the actual Nazis were in in Russia in WW2, maybe Russian soldiers simply think anyone who is now said to be a Ukrainian Nazi deserves the harshest treatment.

    Most western armies have spent the last 40 years substantially improving the training conditions of soldiers. There is much more respect of the rights of recruits. Trainers who step out of line are likely to be disciplined. Before overseas deployments, there is substantial time spent of training soldiers about the rights of civilians and the laws of armed conflict.

    However, I suspect the the training of US Marines continues to be a lot more harsh than what would be acceptable in New Zealand or the UK. I note there are still serious issues, the inquiry into the conduct of the Australian SAS in Afghanistan is testament to that.

    While I accept that individual western soldiers have committed war crimes in recent years, I don’t believe it has occurred at anything like the systematic level that seems to be occurring within the Russian army in Ukraine. Hence the level of revulsion at what has occurred.

    Wayne

    April 7, 2022 at 9:39 am

  6. However, BBC (I know, part of the dreaded and corrupt MSM) has been able to find satellite photos that show the bodies have been lying in the streets for at least 10 days. BBC, NYT, CNN have huge numbers of staff able to undertake this sort of research, they have teams of journalists, not just one or two, on the ground.

    The BBC, Wayne, is the British Government’s State propaganda outlet with deep ties to British intelligence

    And the entirety of the reporting from Bucha has come from the Ukrainian Government – everything you have seen and heard has come from them – all the outlets you mention are just stenographers repeating the Ukrainian Governments line

    And there is no comparison to Falluja which the US military completely flattened, razed to the ground!

    I didn’t want to get into this, the fog of war applies and you end up going round in circles – I just wanted to add some context really

    But I do want to point something else out to you in how Bucha is vastly different situation from Falluja and that is for the Americans in Iraq the citizens of Falluja were totally foreign people from an alien culture

    Whereas the Russians in Bucha are dealing with people with a shared cultural background and language – when they see an old woman in the street they see their own grandma, they might well address her as Baba or Babyula – do you get that?

    In that video in the post where is the speakers use “Khohol” and it tells you that is a derogatory term for Ukrainians they are not talking about people who live in Ukraine but people who have adopted a particular identity that has taken hostile stance to Russia who live in Ukraine

    And if you watch through to the end the women are talking the manner of taking care of family who have fallen on hard times

    Andrei

    April 7, 2022 at 11:37 am

  7. A couple of points here based on the comments from Wayne and Andrei.
    First up is Wayne:

    However, BBC (I know, part of the dreaded and corrupt MSM) has been able to find satellite photos that show the bodies have been lying in the streets …

    I guess you didn’t click on the link I supplied in the post itself since that already covered the point you were making, when I wrote this:

    … (dealt with superbly here by comparing satellite photos with on-the-ground footage)….

    Then there’s another part of your comment…

    BBC, NYT, CNN have huge numbers of staff able to undertake this sort of research,…

    In fact the satellite photos were sent out by Maxar Technologies, who pointedly noted the dates on which they were taken (preceding Russian withdrawal from Bucha) and picked up by the MSM. No research needed aside from sitting on the Internet or email – although kudos for matching them with on-the-ground video, as shown in this screen shot from the link:

    Here’s the entire video link:

    ====================

    Second is Andrei:

    The BBC, Wayne, is the British Government’s State propaganda outlet with deep ties to British intelligence

    And the entirety of the reporting from Bucha has come from the Ukrainian Government …

    Not entirely. I don’t know how deep you want to go down the rabbit hole but Maxar Technologies is a perfectly ordinary private sector company in the space business, including Earth observation:

    Maxar Technologies Inc. is a space technology company headquartered in Westminster, Colorado, United States, specializing in manufacturing communication, Earth observation, radar, and on-orbit servicing satellites, satellite products, and related services.

    They are merely one of many such companies nowadays and the steady march of technology means they can do things once only possible with Superpower spy satellites.

    But then I recall that you completely dismissed such things months ago when I posted on the story of the undergraduate who found China’s new ICBM launch sites because he was a nerd studying the same sort of pictures from one of Maxar’s competitors. (The Undergraduate NRO)

    Tom Hunter

    April 7, 2022 at 12:35 pm

  8. Andrei,

    How many years have you lived in New Zealand? Immersed in a nation that most people think of as democracy with free speech as a bedrock.

    Do you think you can convince us, or anyone, that BBC is simply the propaganda arm of the British government simply because it is publicly owned.

    I know some commenters here view TV1 as simply the propaganda arm of Labour, but I am not one of them.

    In any event, other news sources (CNN, etc) have the same satellite photos, which come from a private satellite service.

    As I previously noted, I get that you are a Russian nationalist. But does that actually come with a requirement that you have to repeat Putin’s lies? Millions of your fellow Russians don’t think that is a requirement, given that hundreds of thousands have demonstrated against the war.

    If the Russians do think of Ukrainians as part of a shared people, why are the Russian soldiers treating them so badly? Because the Ukrainians are Nazis?

    Wayne

    April 7, 2022 at 12:36 pm

    • I know some commenters here view TV1 as simply the propaganda arm of Labour, but I am not one of them.

      I don’t want to divert from the topic of this post too much, but given that even former journalists like Karl du Fresne (and Bryan Edwards) can see the bias, it’s just silly to make the claim you do. I know all too many “Centre-Right” and “Centre-Left” voters who tired of TV1 (and TV3) years ago because of their overt Leftie bias, which leads them to support Labour as long as it’s being left wing.

      And this is aside from the reality show shallowness of their coverage of stories and issues, although that also aids Left-WIng causes (the planet will boil, 80,000 grannies will die, etc, etc).

      Funnily enough du Fresne had a piece up comparing the MSM here with that of Russia, Media freedom in New Zealand and how we differ from Putin’s Russia, which contained a couple of choice items:

      But here’s the extraordinary thing. In 2022 the independence of the New Zealand media is jeopardised not by threats or coercion emanating from the state, but by the media’s own behaviour. In this respect we may be unique.

      Journalistic bias is rampant and overt. It’s evident not just in how the media report things, but just as crucially in what is not reported at all. New Zealanders wanting to be fully informed on matters of consequence need to monitor online news platforms such as Kiwiblog, the BFD and Muriel Newman’s Breaking Views – to name just three – that cover the issues the mainstream media ignore.

      One notable example of media failure is the Three Waters project, coverage of which falls far short of reflecting substantial opposition to the scheme and almost completely overlooks the profound constitutional implications of 50-50 co-governance. Another is climate change, where dissenting voices are suppressed as a matter of editorial policy.

      Generally speaking, news that reflects unfavourably on the government tends to be played down or ignored. Bias is apparent too in the lack of rigour in holding government politicians to account.

      The prime minister in particular seems to enjoy a level of immunity from journalistic scrutiny that Muldoon would have envied. Jacinda Ardern is protected within a magic circle that the mainstream media almost never penetrates. Those who try to pierce it, as Mike Hosking did with his weekly interviews on NewstalkZB, are punished by the withdrawal of privileges.

      Which leads to his killer conclusion about the NZ MSM:

      After a lifetime as a journalist, I’m in the unfamiliar position of no longer trusting the New Zealand media to report matters of public interest fully, fairly, accurately and truthfully.

      I’m actually not amazed nor surprised that you still do trust them, but then you are a good ideological (if not partisan) fit for TV1 and its ilk, from planet boiling to saving grannie at any cost, as just two examples.

      Tom Hunter

      April 7, 2022 at 1:13 pm

    • Wayne;
      I think the West produced the greatest civilization the world has ever seen but I also think that civilization is now in a state of collapse

      This war is not about Ukraine – it is about the shift in the center of gravity in human affairs from London, New York and Washington DC to the East and the US is trying to delay that inevitable trajectory by conducting a proxy war against Russia

      But in my view the Neo Cons, the architects of this crisis have miscalculated and hastened that outcome

      The financial structures that support international trade are no longer trusted by the majority of the world and countries like Russia, China and India are developing their own independent means of settling international transactions which bypass Western institutions

      This is where the real action is going on , not the Eurasian Steppes

      And I’ll tell you something else we are on the verge of a financial collapse which will make the 1929 Wall Street crash look like a minor blip

      How long do you think the current Greek Government is going to last? Or the German one? Sri Lanka’s government has already fallen

      Even the USA looks a little fragile with its totally corrupt, senile leadership

      We live in dangerous times

      I just call it like I see it

      Andrei

      April 7, 2022 at 2:24 pm

      • Andrei … you can argue whether the US President is senile and corrupt although you wold have to say that with a net worth of USD8m he didn’t do too well on the corruption bit.. Contrast that with your nice Mr Putin with a net worth of USD24.9b (on a Presidential salary of USD136k). Clearly Putin and corruption go hand in hand. Not senile but dangerous in the rabid dog sense.

        The Veteran

        April 7, 2022 at 4:13 pm

  9. I will leave it to others to decide whether Andrei is a mouthpiece for the Kremlin or not but, from where sit, the disconnect from the Kremln to reality on the ground is a sight to behold. And while I’m not into Minto’s whataboutism as a justification for whatever the Russian military may have done I can acknowledge that in war shit occurs and cover ups happen … take the My Lai massacre in 1968 (part of my war) and the derisory punishment handed to Calley who was made a scapegoat for others.

    And that brings me on to the point of this comment. My Lai happened against the background of poorly trained conscripts and even worse leadership in a ‘confusing’ war. Everything I have seen on the ground in the Ukraine, especially in the North, suggests to me that Russian soldiers on the ground are poorly trained and poorly led. You add into the mix that they may well be confused about the rationale for them being there and then layer in the logistical problems they might be experiencing and the push-back by the Ukrainians and you have the ingredients for a repeat of My Lai (or Katyn or wherever).

    So Andrei can airily dismiss the BBC reports (and other reports) on what happened in Bacha as staged disinformation and will keep on doing so until the cows come home. A more balanced assessment suggests otherwise.

    The Veteran

    April 7, 2022 at 1:04 pm


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