In defense of Navalny

I’m not particularly a fan of the Russian opposition, as much as there is one (it’s pretty unopposed to Putin on one significant point), I make a point of watching Alexey Navalny on Twitter. Love or hate Navalny, at least it’s interesting (oh, and mildly amusing for a Ukrainian who lived through two revolutions and a decade of endless political shitstorm), but more to the point. Today I was at my local McDonalds (a beacon of civilization in our rapidly-gentrifying formerly-working-class neighborhood) eating a greasy cheeseburger while idly browsing Twitter when I saw this Tayga.info interview of Navalny. Since I have some connections with Novosibirsk, that beating heart of Siberia, I decided to read it and, of course, immediately stumbled upon this:

…Я очень надеюсь, кстати, в полном соответствии с позицией МИДа России, что Украина останется единым государством, Донецкая и Луганская области получат нужную степень автономности, они урегулируют права русского языка и будут налаживать сложную, но совместную жизнь.

A rough translation (courtesy of yours truly) follows:

I sincerely hope, in fact, completely in accord with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ position, that Ukraine remains an unified state, that Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts receive their necessary share of autonomy, that they settle the Russian language question and that they get to work building their life together – difficult, to be sure, but together.

Note how Navalny doesn’t actually mention Crimea: after all, his famous ‘Crimea is not a sandwich’ speech has earned him the ire of many Twitter-conscious Ukrainians. Crimea is, indeed, not a sandwich, no more than Sudetenland was a sandwich and no more than Poland was a big pizza Soviet Union and Nazi Germany ate together, so in principle he’s right. I can already hear the Ukrainian Twitter Squadron revving their engines and loading their FAGGOT-branded bombs, though, so here’s something in Navalny’s defense. While the Russian language question is largely blown out of proportion (to which I, as a Russian-speaker, can testify: I spoke Russian all the time on my two trips to the Carpathians and no one gave me shit), Navalny is actually right on one fact that most of Ukrainian Twitter, Poroshenko fans and zradafaggots both, seem ignorant of; namely, that Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts – or, more precisely, parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts now controlled by ‘DPR’ and ‘LPR’ and de facto controlled by Russia – will indeed get their share of autonomy. The only thing Ukraine can do about that is make it a very limited autonomy, as opposed to, say, the Bosnia and Hercegovina scenario of giving ‘DPR’ and ‘LPR’ veto powers over foreign policy and internal policy decisions; what otherwise would have been a very broad autonomy, but not one of Kremlin’s liking. Currently Kremlin voices its discomfort by way of artillery barrages and what may be a resumption of hostilities. But, really, there is hardly any choice. As it was put recently, Putin can’t win this war, but Ukraine can still lose. We Ukrainians can dream of an Operation Storm scenario a la Srpska Krajina, but the problem with that is that Russia won’t sit idly by while we somehow pull it off. Even if one disregards the separatists’ amount of manpower and tankpower, there is nothing to prevent Russia from shelling Ukrainian troops from their side of the border – if Ukrainian troops even get there in the first place.

Donbass – or, more likely, parts of Donbass – will get their autonomy. It is hard to swallow, but this is a fact. The other fact, however, is that it will get as much autonomy as we – and by ‘we’ I mean ‘the Ukrainian government’ – give them.

Speaking of Navalny, though, one should give him props for spending most of his interview talking about things more relevant to the upcoming local elections (in spite of the interviewer constantly dragging the subject back to Ukraine). I’d say the man at least has his priorities straight, a welcome sight in a country where the news are dominated by ‘bloody chaos in Ukraine’, ‘fascist junta killing Russian people in Novorossiya’ and ‘our great and terrible President Putin doing something a la late Kim Jong Il’. I’m mad at most Russians, but I’m not a Russophobe; Russia has 1001 problems, a fact many of my former Russian friends acknowledged, and I’m all for Russia actually solving them.

So far, however, it doesn’t particularly have a good track record in that regard.


P.S. I promise this is the end of my ‘Sohryu reviews stuff someone else wrote’ binge.

It has been dragging for a tad too long anyway.

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In defense of Navalny

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