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Speeches

S. Shushkevich: Address to World Summit 2014

Address to World Summit 2014, Seoul, Korea, August 9-13, 2014

We can speak about peace in Europe only in the past tense. Russia started the current hostilities deliberately and purposefully, guided by low imperial interests. The peoples of Eastern Europe, as well as all other Europeans, want to be citizens of sovereign nation-states and determine their own path of development themselves. They do not want to again become subjects of the Russian Empire. Russia’s armed invasion of Ukraine is one more confirmation of the Kremlin’s imperial ambitions. It has overshadowed all other political, military and economic developments.

The word "Maidan"—as in the name of Kiev’s Independence Square—has become a well-known name. Protest campaigns in the winter of 2000-01 were waged under the slogan "Ukraine without [then-President Leonid] Kuchma." In 2004, the square became the center of the "Orange Revolution." In November 2013, Kiev’s Independence Square and squares in other cities of Ukraine were flooded by millions of people who came to protest against the government suspending the process of signing the Association Agreement with the European Union. People peacefully demonstrated their strong desire to follow the European path.

After the Vilnius Summit on "Eastern Partnership" September 28-29, 2013, dispersal of the tent camp, and adoption of draconian legislation by the Verkhovna Rada [Ukraine’s parliament] toughening penalties for participation in the "riots," the protest action was pronounced anti-presidential and anti-government, condemning the blatant social injustice, polarization of incomes and standards of living, and rampant corruption in executive and judiciary bodies and law enforcement agencies.

It turned out that Russia has long saturated the power bodies of Ukraine with its representatives and invested a lot of money to turn a peaceful protest of the population into a chaos that was generated and amplified by the Russian military. The Russian media long ago became vehicles for promoting the Kremlin's aggressive interests, constantly harping on the same theme of infringement of the rights of the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine (and in the whole world!), arguing that Russia's duty is to help those whose rights have been "infringed." Watered with petrodollars, this country forgets, however, to help those down-and-out people who are living in Russia itself. The exported "aid" is manifested in the form of direct aggression, annexation of Ukrainian lands, supplying mercenaries and terrorists with modern weapons, diplomatic blackmail, and intrigues by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Now the two largest neighboring countries of my country Belarus—Russia and Ukraine—in fact, are in a state of war unleashed by the Kremlin to pursue its imperial geopolitical interests. This type of warfare has its own name: hybrid war. In a hybrid war, the media cease to be a tool for education and sower of reason and become the means for duping the population. They are fooling the average people, as well as the zombie intellectuals who are too lazy to acquire political knowledge and take care of the welfare of the Russians. It is much easier to be a supporter of the Great Russia and interfere in the internal affairs of other countries under the pretext of "taking care of the Russian-speaking population." In this approach, they ignore the fact that obscene acts toward others could backfire on the instigator.

Thus, the rude pushing of Ukraine into the path of federalization has boomeranged against Russia. The Kremlin is struggling frantically, trying to block the March for Federalization in Siberia, scheduled for August 17, and a similar action in the Kaliningrad region under the slogan "Stop Feeding Moscow!" The Prosecutor General's Office has blocked information on the websites about the march in Novosibirsk [Siberia’s main city], and the organizers have been labeled traitors. The fear is so great that the propaganda media stopped using the term "supporters of federalism" in Ukraine and began calling them "citizen soldiers," and the Federal Service for the Supervision of Information, Technology and Communications (Roscomnadzor) is trying to ban references to the "Siberian Republic” on Russian websites. As always, in the war unleashed by Russia, the Stalinist tradition of using human lives en masse—the cheapest weapon for the Kremlin—is loyally respected. Vladimir Putin, like Joseph Stalin, suffers no regrets.

It is for me especially annoying to write and talk about it, because I literally experienced moments of a quite different attitude of supreme power of Russia in the lives of Russians: democracy, human rights, and state sovereignty of the former Soviet republics. These relationships many times were confirmed by the first president of Russia, Boris Yeltsin. There was no hypocrisy in either his words or his actions.

And today, blatantly violating rules and regulations of international law, the Kremlin wants to convert, or rather, to destroy the sovereign Ukraine, the independence and territorial integrity of which Putin officially recognized in the post-Soviet period by the Russian Parliament ratification of the [Byelavyezhskaya] Agreement on Establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The Kremlin is acting more blatantly and worse than the Soviet Union did in 1939, when it annexed under false pretenses Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. By making Ukrainians out to be enemies of the Russians, the Kremlin is losing credibility and respect, even in the countries that were literally worshiping Russia.

A small personal example: In 2012, before my public lecture at the University of Vienna, I showed my presentation of lectures on management to the staff of the Faculty of Law. They very politely asked me to remove a headline with a quote from Winston Churchill's lecture at the University of Zurich in 1946: "It would be a terrible disaster if Russian barbarism suppressed the culture and independence of the ancient states of Europe." The organizers of the lecture justified their request in the following way:

“The times now are different, Russia is becoming different too; it is now friendly, peace-loving, ready to go the path of democracy, develop cooperation with us, and we would not want to drop even a hint to recall the Cold War period.”

Inviting me now to give a lecture at the world's largest German-language university, the organizers deliberately stressed: Your previous headline will be most welcome.

It’s high time to recall the following: The Soviet Union collapsed after 15 republics of the union adopted declarations of independence. Moreover, their desire to become sovereign states or raise their status to that of a federal republic (the first step toward state independence) in the period from July 20, 1990 to May 17, 1991, became the desire of other autonomous parts of the USSR: North Ossetia, Karelia, Gagauzia, Abkhazia, Komi Republic, Tatarstan, Udmurtia, South Ossetia, Sakha-Yakutia, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Adygea, Buryatia, Bashkiria, Komi-Perm Autonomous District, Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District, Kalmykia, Mari ASSR, Chuvashia, Gorno-Altai Autonomous District, Karachay-Cherkessia, Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, Tuva, Kabardino-Balkaria, Dagestan, Jewish Autonomous Region.

Vladimir Putin’s doings certainly will help them recall the above-mentioned declarations and quite probably act as we did in the Byelavyezhskaya Forest on December 7-8, 1991. A bad example of the type that was manifested in relation to the Ukrainian citizens is contagious. It sounds monstrous, but the Russian Parliament and "senators" and diplomats and the media that have become the means of propaganda consider the Ukrainian patriots to be Nazis, followers of Bender, or the Gestapo.

Russian chauvinists! In terms of such terminology, please look carefully at yourself in the mirror. You will find the undeniable resemblance!

I would like civilized countries, those who correctly assess what is happening in Ukraine, to be finally unanimous in what they say in opposing the Russian state terrorism.

There is no other way to restore peace in Europe.

For more information about the World Summit, click here.