Free Speech Under Attack: The Miroslava Berdnik Story – Part I

Dear Readers:

Here is a continuation of the Miroslava Berdnik story.  Recall that this Ukrainian journalist and writer was arrested by the Internal Police, the SBU (successor to the Soviet KGB).  She is charged with (literally) thinking and writing the wrong kinds of thoughts and writings.  This is an absolutely blatant case of free speech under attack, in an increasing totalitarian country (=Ukraine) whose government has the full support and blessing of all the Western powers.

Banderites fought on the losing side of WWII but always dreamed of revenge.

One of the charges against Berdnik, as the headline points out, is that she was in possession of brochures concerning the “Great Patriotic War”, known in the West as WWII.  Recall that this immense conflict consisted of two main sides:  Nazi Germany and its allies; vs. the Soviet Union and its allies (which included at the time Great Britain and the United States).  In the end, the Soviet Union and its allies won the war.  The United Nations was formed on the ruins of the world, and the UN itself was composed of two sides:  the “victor nations” (led by the United States, England, and the Soviet Union) and the “vanquished” or loser nations (consisting of Germany, Italy, Japan, and their allies).  The victor nations included the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.  The majority of the Ukrainian people fought courageously, and on the winning side, to defeat the brutal Nazi psychopaths.  As an important victor nation, the Ukrainians received a seat of honor at the United Nations.

Satirical, obviously, but not wrong.

Left to fester, however, like a thorn in the side, was a minority of Ukrainians who had fought on the wrong side of the war, alongside the Nazis.  These renegades are known as Banderites, and they self-identify with the losing side of the war, and not as victors.  Their hero, Stepan Bandera, attempted to curry favor with the German Nazis, in the hopes that the latter would grant an independent Ukraine, a nation allied with Nazi Germany.  A nation based on the political ideology of fascist authoritarianism and Ukrainian nationalism.  Bandera’s “legitimate” political program, apart from just mindlessly murdering Poles and Jews, can be summed up in a few sentences:  Not denying the class struggle, but sublimating it under the rule of elites, and all subordinate to a single dominating national dictator (Guess Who?).  Suppression of ethnic minorities and banning of other political parties, especially socialist/communist ones.  None of this nonsense mattered, of course:  The Germans had no intention of allowing a sovereign Ukrainian state, they were just playing the nationalists like a violin; and in the end all these murderous clowns lost badly anyhow, their side was defeated by the Soviet Red Army, and their asses kicked all the way back to Berlin.

Bandera rises again…

Unfortunately, the end was not The End.  Just like in a bad Hollywood horror movie, the dead fist bursts defiantly from the grave.

Even in the victorious West, especially the U.S., the war had barely ended, I think it was, like the very next day after the tickertape parade, when revanchist forces started their big campaign to roll back both the geo-political results, and the ideological lessons, of the war.  The ensuing ideological and geo-political conflict was called the Cold War.  There was a concerted propaganda effort, over the years and decades, to blur the lines between victor and vanquished, and to whitewash the Nazi crimes.  But the public mind had to be worked over in stages.  In the order of ideological progression:  (1) Communism and Nazism are both totalitarian philosophies, and it doesn’t matter which class forces are represented by the sides, or what are their actual formal manifestoes and political platforms, since the behavioral similarities are greater than any ideological differences, (2) Communism is just as bad as Nazism, because both systems kill people, (3) Communists are worse than Nazis, because they killed more people in the final tally.

Hence, in this new ideological equation, Nazism, an openly racist ideology which promotes the “white race” and calls for the extermination of Jews; was alleged to be fairly benign.  And even a positive force, since it opposes Communism.  Whereas Communism, an ideology based on the ideas of humanism, racial tolerance, and the glorification of labor, was said to be more vicious than Nazism because (allegedly) it killed more people.

And no time here to go into all the falsifications of history, and how the tallies of dead souls were exagerrated for political effect.  I’ll leave that debate to historians.

Diaspora Ukrainian leaders promote anti-Russian foreign policy.

The Cold War began, as I mentioned, the day after the victory parade (or possibly even before!).  The victorious nations, the U.S. and Canada, made haste to rescue Nazi bigshots and even ordinary schmucks such as low-life concentration camp guards who were under danger of being brought to justice for their crimes against humanity.  Mass quantities of pro-Nazi collaborators, along with their families, were spirited out of Europe, settled in the diaspora and given very fine living conditions in which to flourish.  They were portrayed as victims of Communism and they eagerly helped to promulgate anti-Communist propaganda in its most virulent form.  Children of the diaspora were told that their parents fled from Stalinist famine and political repressions.  They were taught to carefully conceal their actual political beliefs and wear the mask of democratic values.  The masks only came off in private Ukrainian clubs, where the aging “legionnaires” shared their war stories and mourned those who lay buried under the sign of the German Iron Cross.

The classic Ukrainian diaspora joke:  “Uncle Bohdan is coming to dinner tonight.  Whatever you do, please don’t mention the war.  Uncle Bohdan lost his brother in Auschwitz, and it’s a very sore point with him.”  “That’s awful, what happened?”  “Terrible tragedy.  His brother got drunk one night and accidentally fell off the watchtower.”

Ukrainian Banderites, flourishing in the diaspora, were a big component of the Cold War propaganda campaign against the Soviet Union.  Fast forward a few decades, the Soviet Union disintegrates, the Cold War is replaced by the Great Game.  In a blatant coup sponsored by Western powers, an openly fascist and Banderite government comes to power in Kiev.  (2014).  Assisted by the American government, and stocked with members of the foreign diaspora.  This government self-identifies with the vanquished Nazi nations of WWII, with the Aryans, and not with the victors, whom they regard as Communist scum and racially inferior “Mongols and Mongrels”.  All of this backstory in the nature of explaining why Berdnik was arrested for owning a brochure about the Great Patriotic War.  A brochure which praises the victors and doesn’t call them Mongol scum.

As a thought experiment for an American citizen:  Imagine that you own a book about WWII which includes a chapter on Nazi crimes against humanity.  The FBI break down your door, accusing you of promoting communist propaganda.  You are arrested in front of your college-aged daughter.

Which is exactly what happened to Berdnik.

What Are the Charges?

The VZGLIAD piece quotes SBU spokesperson Elena  Gitlyanskaya, whose name sounds a lot like “Hitlerian”:  “In the framework of an open criminal case we are examining her role in promulgating out of her Live Journal blog, materials which call for the violent overthrow of the government [yalensis:  which is pretty rich considering how this particular government came to power by violently overthrowing the previous. Party of Regions, government, including ferocious armed attacks on the police and army] and of the constitutional order.  It has already been established that this destructive activity [of Berdnik] has been coordinated with her Russian patrons, from which she has received organizational support.”

Berdnik’s computer and brochues, seized by the secret police

Fortunately for Berdnik, the international outcry concerning her arrest has helped to shield her, somewhat, from Ukrainian government reprisals.  Hitlerianskaya goes to to demur, that Berdnik is NOT currently in detention.  Even as the investigation against her proceeds, Berdnik continues to blog on a new site, here, and my thanks to commenter Pavlo Svolochenko for posting this link.  In my continuation of this piece, I will share some of my own thoughts about the content of Berdnik’s new blog.  Which has a lofty and sad philosophical tone to it.

A month ago the Ukrainian government put on its list of banned books, Berdnik’s work called “Pawns in Another Man’s Game:  The Secret History of Ukrainian Nationalism”.  This book was published a year ago, in Moscow.  In Ukraine today, the dissemination of this book is punishable under Statute 110, namely, “Attempts on the Territorial Integrity of the Ukraine”.

[to be continued]

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6 Responses to Free Speech Under Attack: The Miroslava Berdnik Story – Part I

  1. Evgeny says:

    Well, the West does begin to recognize the crap going on in Ukraine. But apparently they still believe it could lead Ukraine to greater democracy provided that the Government handles it well:

    How the government handles it [the new wave of attacks], observers and insiders say, will play a powerful role in determining whether Ukraine will tread a path toward greater democracy and Western integration or slide back into authoritarianism and crony capitalism.



    • yalensis says:

      Thanks for the link, Evgeny.
      Sorry your comment was held in the bucket so long, I logged on just now and saw it languishing there.
      Anyhow, I suppose this shows that the situation has gotten so egregious, that even the imperialist media such as RFE/RL have to admit that something hinky is going on in the Ukraine.


      • Evgeny says:

        Yalensis, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed my comment. Indeed, the sense of discontent in the MSM with what’s going on in Ukraine is palpable. However, what really matters is whether that would affect the U.S. policy regarding that country, and given that the U.S. lacks any other options in that country that’s not likely. So I presume they would continue treading the path toward greater democracy despite the mounting human toll. Sorry for the rant. 😉


        • yalensis says:

          No, I think your rant is on target. U.S. policy won’t change. American rulers don’t really care about democracy or free speech, it’s just a mask for them. And they created this golem, so it’s all theirs.
          The important thing is not to try to change American foreign policy, which is impossible; but to educate ordinary people, including Americans, what is actually going on out there in the world.


          • Evgeny says:

            Yalensis, a small hint — no idea if you find it useful — you might find it coincident with your goals to initiate contacts with Currently there’s a considerable interest in starting an English section of the site. We have discussed it extensively in the past. My position is that it makes sense to do an English section only if it’s directed by a Western/American guy (preferably, of course, with pro-Russia views) — precisely because the main goal would be to reach out to the Western/American audience. For example, if that were me, that would be an immediate failure because I don’t have anything to say to the Americans; that’s how I feel about it.

            A way to get noticed might be to start posting anything at the forum, e.g. the English news/analytics thread.

            I’m just providing a hint about opportunities which exist.

            p.s. Counterpunch has caught up on Berdnik story.


            • yalensis says:

              Dear Evgeny:
              Thanks for the link to the Counterpunch story. This is very interesting, and I learned some new things.
              “An offer not to be refused was made to Berdnyk – he would receive aid in creating offices of the Ukrainian Spiritual Republic in all countries of the world where Ukrainians live. He would get financial support and become a lifelong nominal director. But there were strings attached – the central office had to be located in New York. Berdnyk could not accept that, as his daughter, Myroslava Berdnyk recalls. He believed that Ukraine should not put any hope into the Western democracies. He believed they would not help Ukraine because they had strong interests in making Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan economically weak, a source of raw materials for the West. Ukraine should rely only on itself.”

              This gives me more respect for Oles Berdnyk, about whom I knew very little. In general, according to my own beliefs and ideological predilections, I am normally very negative to the views of Soviet-era dissidents, whom I partially blame for the destruction of the Soviet Union, and all the bad things which ensued as a result of that defeat.

              Still, there are exceptions, and apparently Oles was not a dupe for the Western powers. Although I still wonder why he had dealings with the Helsinki Group, which was clearly a catspaw for U.S. foreign policy at the time. Perhaps he was just naive; and yet he doesn’t sound like somebody who is naive.

              Be that as it may, whatever the status of Oles, perhaps his major contribution to the human race was to produce Myroslava. And it is clear that people must stand up for the rights and protect the interests of his daughter, Myroslava. If enough people know about her story, and the danger to which the Banderite government subjects her, then perhaps her safety is more ensured.


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