Possibly the most interesting talk show in the world is Savik Shuster’s, on Ukrainian TV. I don’t have time right now to go into its long and ropey history of ups and downs. On the air, off the air. Switching channels. Controversy after controversy. Now back on the air. Also, admittedly, I have myself only ever watched a couple of episodes, and admittedly not even the entire episode, just segments on youtube. The format of the show is unique, each episode can stretch on for hours, with guests coming and going, large dollops of audience reaction, etc. In some shows, very important political and military figures sit on the stage side side by side with ordinary people and can often be engaged to talk for literally hours, revealing much of themselves. In this regard, Shuster is a brilliant talk show host.
One of my New Year’s resolutions was to try to make the time to watch more episodes. Here is a site I found where one can watch archived episodes online.
Ideologically speaking, talk show host Savik Shuster can be considered the journalistic midwife of everything that is Orange, svidomite, and Maidanite in Ukraine. Plagiarizing heavily from the wiki piece I just linked:
Shuster himself was born a Lithuanian, his real name is Ševelis Šusteris. Born in 1952 in Soviet Vilnius, Savik as a young man emigrated, with his parents, in 1971. First to Israel as a transit station, then Canada. Either they were Jewish, or pretending to be Jewish, in order to hie them to the New World. Coming of age as a journalist, Savik travelled all over the world and covered various hotspots. Savik has always been on the anti-Soviet, then anti-Russian side of the ideological fence. His profile is that of an engaged propagandist. Shuster covered the anti-Soviet mujaheddin (=Al Qaeda) fighters in Afghanistan, and for a time worked for Radio Liberty. However, for a time he did work for a Russian TV channel, NTV, until, in his own words, the Kremlin “shut him down”. In 2005 Shuster found a more congenial home base in the Ukraine, and has been living and working there ever since. Given his ideological proclivities, it was a natural fit that he would support, first the Orange Revolution, and then, 10 years later, the Maidan.
Savik’s show has been on the air for several years, but he has had to switch channels a couple of times. Recently he was briefly banned, and then came back on the air. As I said, I don’t have time right now to research the tortured history of his show, although it deserves a book-length treatment, probably.
Veteran Vasily Kljuj
All of this is in the way of introduction, to bring us to this story which I saw about yesterday’s show, which Shuster dedicated to a discussion of the May 9 Victory Day holiday. In one segment of the show, Shuster’s guest was a WWII veteran named Vasily Kljuj.
Now, even though he fought on the Soviet side during the Great Patriotic War (aka World War II), Kljuj is no friend of the Soviet Union, nor of modern-day Russia. A quick google of Kljuj (use the Russian spelling Василий Клюй in order to get results), shows that Kljuj has been a firm opponent of Russian President Putin. For example, in this piece, Kljuj compares Putin to Hitler. In the sense that Putin, like Hitler, desires to seize the Ukraine’s most arable chunks of “Black Earth”. (He is talking about the Donbass.) In his career and training, Kljuj is an agronomist, hence is interest in agriculture. Here is a quick bio, based on a comment from that piece I just linked:
Vasily Kljuj was born in 1927 in the Kirovograd Oblast. During the winter of 1942-1943 he was mobilized into the Soviet army [yalensis: Doing the math: He was only 15 when he was drafted into the army!], where he was trained as a radio operator on a Black Sea submarine, of the type known familiarly as the “Pike”. Kljuj and his comrades helped defeat the Hitlerites in Odessa.
After being demobilized, Kljuj returned to his native area, where he became the chairman of a kolkhoz. He spent much effort in the task of restoring agriculture. He engaged in Party work as well. In the 1970’s and 1980’s he worked in the Council of Ministers of the Ukraine, where he curated the Agricultural-Industrial Complex.
After his retirement, he continued to engage in scientific activities, and is an Honorable Member (Emeritus) of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences of the Ukraine. Kljuj also continues to participate actively in veterans affairs.
Kljuj’s biography shows him to be an honorable, brave, and hard-working man. His support for the Maidan comes from his feelings of Ukrainian patriotism and his support for Ukrainian independence, which seems to be his dominant ideology.
Kljuj On The Crisis
Which brings us Kljuj’s appearance on Shuster’s show yesterday. Here is the link to that episode. According to Kljuj, in the 23 years of its independence, the Ukraine has lost 10% of its Gross National Product. Here is the payload quote:
“In these 23 years we have lost so much. You can talk about the Holodomor [the famine], the war… During these years (of independence) we have slaughtered 20 million head of cattle. We used to have 24 million head of cattle, and now we have only 4 million left. Do you have any concept, what this means? That’s our economy for you. In the last 23 years we lost 10% of our Gross National Product, compared to 1991. And when it comes to animal husbandry, we are down 65%.”