Continuing to translate/summarize this piece from RIA News. We continue with the brief biographical vignettes of some Rebel fighters interviewed by reporter Andrei Veselov. So far we have met Prilepin himself, Commander Sergei Fomchenkov (aka “Foma”), and Prilepin’s Chief of Staff Alexander Kreshtop. Kreshtop sounds like “Crash-Top” in English, but it’s not a nickname, it’s his real name. Being fascinated by names, I googled it, and it is thought to be of Czech origin (e.g., Krištof), same as English “Christopher”. From the original Greek “Khristo-foros” (Χριστόφορος – “One who bears Christ within him”).
Usually a first name, “Christopher” as a surname is (according to that piece I linked) widely spread through the Czecho-Slovak and Slovenian areas, and only goes to show what a melting pot the Slavic world is; and in particular the world of the Donbass and Ukraine in general.
Whatever his family’s original ethnic roots, back in the mists of time, Crash-Top grew up in Luhansk self-identifying as a Russian, a member of the Russian civilizational world/cultural sphere, and a Russian language speaker. This put him at odds early on with the forced-Ukrainization of the various governments which came and went under independence.
Although it is dangerous to make generalizations, one can talk about a “typical” (perhaps “stereotypical”) mentality of Donbass/NovoRossiya people. These people, whom Ukrainian nationalists despise, and call by various insults, such as “Colorado beetles”, “vatniks”, “Sovoks”, “bandits”, etc., are said to be the “true Russians”, more Russian than the Russian citizens themselves. Donbass people identify with Russian history, going back to the Catherine the Great era, and beyond. They are human paradoxes, being both Russian Orthodox in their faith, while also being atheists. They are nostalgic for the Soviet Union, an era which spread Russian culture across a wide geographical base. In Soviet times Ukrainization wasn’t such an issue as it is now. True, the Soviet government aggressively promoted national languages and national elites, a policy which evokes scorn from today’s crop of Great Russian chauvinists and nationalists. I personally maintain that Lenin (and Stalin, and the others) had their reasons for crafting this nationalities policy, and that it seemed like a very good idea at the time. While not denying that the contortions of History turned these benevolent policies into a living time bomb that threatens Russia’s very existence in our era.
Be that as it may, even in the aggressively multi-cultural Soviet Union, ethnic Russians were not made to feel uncomfortable in whatever areas of the vast nation they were born in or migrated to, in the course of their careers. They were looked up to as civilized leaders, as big brothers of the smaller nationalities. The Soviet anthem itself declared, in its very first two lines, that
Союз нерушимый республик свободных
Сплотила навеки Великая Русь.
(“This indestructive union of free republics
Was put together by Great Russia.”)
Given such respect at a national level, ethnic Russians could live anywhere in the Union that they pleased, and were not called “occupiers” nor treated as such — that came later, with Russia’s fall and denigration at the hands of the Nomenklatura.
Party of Regions Is The Key To the Riddle
In order to learn more about Crash-Top’s biography, google led me — may God forgive me — to the Ukrainian “Mirotvorec” site, which is basically a hit-list calling for assassinations of persons (and their families) deemed enemies by the fascist government in Kiev. On his hit-list page, you can find a brief biography of Crash-Top. He was born in Luhansk in February of 1986, which makes him 31 years old. That was the bit I needed, to put into context Crash-Top’s coming-of-age story that turned him into an armed rebel.
The broader background being this: After the collapse of the Soviet Union and Ukraine’s subsequent “Independence”, the series of ensuing governments, each worse than the other, started putting the screws to non-ethnic Ukrainians, especially those in the Eastern part of the country. See (and Americans can relate to this), Ukraine is politically and geographically divided East vs. West, just as America is/was North vs. South. (Although in more recent decades, that division is blurring, and replaced by the so-called “Red State” vs “Blue State” political divide.) Every free election in post-Soviet Ukraine showed a razor-thin margin between “West” political parties, which came to be known under various names (“Svidomite”, “Banderite”, “Orange”, etc.); and the main “East” political party (=Party of the Regions). The Ukrainian election cycle (similar to American succession of Democrats, Republicans, Democrats, Republicans, etc.) teetered back and forth between Orange and Regions. Much of recent Ukrainian history can be simplified to a stubborn attempt, on the part of Orange, to change the rules of the game and to destroy Regions, once and for all. Why? Now, that is a mystery in and of itself. Regions was a completely corrupt and venal party which continuously and egregiously sold out its voting base. And yet Donbass people routinely went out and pulled the lever for this party, which did virtually nothing for them except fleece them. Once again, this sounds awfully familiar to American politics! One could turn it around and ask the question: Why do African-Americans always go out and pull the lever for the Democrats? – LOL!
The last two times Regions won the Presidency via fair elections (albeit both times were squeakers), the results were overthrown by stage-managed Orange riots supported by the U.S., Western Europe, and NATO.
First there was the so-called Orange Revolution of 2004, which overturned the results of a fair election which had put Regions Boss Viktor Yanukovych into the Presidency. Yanukovych was deposed and replaced by pro-Western candidate Viktor Yushchenko. Yanukovych skulked away, licked his wounds, and rebuilt his power base. Ten years later, Yanukovych wins again, another squeaker, and again the results are overturned, this time by the Maidan Revolution. The Orange side was really determined to annul any election which did not go their way! Maidan went much father than Orange had done, this time seriously attempted to murder Yanukovych (who escaped to Russia), banned Regions altogether, and turned Ukraine into the equivalent of a totalitarian one-party fascist state. And that’s no exaggeration.
Crash-Top related to Veselov how, upon reaching the age of 16 (that would have been 2002) and obtaining his own passport, he was forcibly classified as a “Ukrainian” even though he kept insisting that he was a Russian. Two years later — now Alexander is 18 years old — Orange Revolution happens. Once again, it is all about punishing Donbass for voting for the other guy, for Regions. The new illegal “President” Viktor Dioxinovich, sends armed supporters from his base in the West, into the Donbass, to patrol the streets and make sure the locals don’t rise up against his rule. “Those police walked through the center of town with dogs,” Crash-Top recalls, “and told us to our faces that Donbass is a bandit town, and that we are all bandits.”
When a man is telling you what he remembers, and the reasons why he decided to pick up a gun, then one should listen to that man.
Which is where we left off yesterday. I must leave off again, and that is enough for Crash-Top, but the next installment will move on to the interview of an interesting Rebel who hails from Kazakhstan…
[to be continued]