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23 August, 2011

Uniting the Slavic Flock

Bureaucrats in Sevastopol seem to have already surrendered the city to Russia and decided to participate in a casting of sorts before their new masters

On July 16-17, the site of what used to be a quarry at the foothills of Mt. Hasfort, which is near Balaklava, hosted the largest bike show ever in post-Soviet territory. This year it attracted an estimated 50,000 people – 10,000 bikers, who came on their bikes mostly from Russia, and 40,000 guests. Traditionally, the Moscow-based Night Wolves bike club was the initiator and organizer of the event. In 2009, the first of its shows was dedicated to the Russian Black Sea Fleet, while in 2010, to the 65th anniversary of the victory in the war which officials in Ukraine and Russia prefer to call “Great Patriotic.” This year the motto was “restoring the union of the Slavic peoples.”

Only official Russian flags and Russian navy ensigns were hoisted. Someone in the crowd was waving a Belarusian state banner. But there were no Ukrainian flags to be seen. The Sevastopol City Administration had insisted, according to the Navy, on equal representation of Ukrainian and Russian flags. The organizers refused to comply. Despite ignoring the very fact that they were hosting their festival in Ukraine, policemen with tridents in their caps, paid by Ukrainian taxpayers, maintained order for the duration of the two-day show, while Volodymyr Yatsuba, Chief of the Sevastopol City Administration, on behalf of the state welcomed those who had so ostentatiously scorned this very state.

“Slavic unity” which lacks any Slavic national flags, except, of course, that of the “older brother” – how admirable!

But this is not the end of the story. At the beginning of the bike fest, excerpts from so-called Dulles’ Plan blazed from the loudspeakers. The “plan” is a poorly concocted, KGB-falsified document in which the CIA chief supposedly described, in the 1950s and the 1960s, actions that were to be taken to destroy the USSR in an ideological war. “Boorishness and impudence, lies and treason, drunkenness and drug addition, animal fear before one another and shamelessness, treachery, nationalism and hatred among peoples, above all hostility toward and hatred for the Russian people – we will skillfully and inconspicuously cultivate all of these things, and all of this will flourish in its naked infamy,” the PA system bellowed out at the foothills of Mt. Hasfort.

No sober man in a sound mind would ever view this text as having been written by an American official in the mid-20th century. It was first published in the early 1990s by Borys Oliynyk, but excerpts from this “plan” circulated earlier and were used by Communist Party propagandists. Writers Yuriy Dold-Mykhailyk and Anatoliy Ivanov even incorporated them in their novels, U chornykh lytsariv (Among Black Knights) and Vechny Zov (Eternal Call), respectively. This, however, did nothing to lend the fake more authenticity, so what took place near Sevastopol was a public-political anti-American démarche which was xenophobic in its essence and style and clearly triable under the Criminal Code.

Then the organizers showed a video on large screens set up above the scene telling the story of the economic collapse that followed the demise of the USSR and numerous humanitarian problems that allegedly accompanied the process. In fact, it was the other way around. The economy crashed back in Brezhnev times when the Soviet Union lost its ability to develop. The same holds true for culture and morals. But the one who started to tell lies with utter inspiration is unlikely to stop in his tracks.

Furthermore, laser beams showed an inscription on a banner allegedly put up by Serbian soccer fans at a game when Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of Russia was in attendance: “Older brother, kiss mother and tell her that we are worthy; we are fighting and will continue to fight. Tell her we love her.” Right. This trick again targeted the drunken and mentally retarded. The thing is that Serbia is going all out to settle the issue of its EU membership by the end of 2011. But you wonder if the masterminds behind the bike show indeed believed that all of 50,000 participants fell under these two categories.

They must have. For Yatsuba, representative of the infamous “vertical of power” in the city, did come to see the event. Ballerina Anastasiya Volochkova, who scandalously quit United Russia in early 2011, did attend this patently imperial-chauvinistic show. Lyapis Trubetskoy, popular Belarusian rock band, did play – I believe there were sane people among other musicians, too. However, something worked to allure them there – either the generous pay, a desire to “get a break” at the seaside at someone else’s expense or the feeling of “Slavic unity” instilled since early age in its imperial-chauvinistic form. “Will it be Slavic streams that will merge in the Russian sea?” Alexander Pushkin famously wrote.

However, my point is not about these people, because even a brilliant poet, to say nothing of a musician or ballet dancer, may be a political ignoramus. My point is about the official representatives of the Ukrainian state in Sevastopol. They seem to have already surrendered the city to Russia and decided to participate in a casting of sorts before their new masters. Surely, they could not pass up an opportunity to feast their eyes on a special large-scale operation to turn dozens of thousands of people into one Slavic flock of sheep.


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