Everybody has probably read about the spectacular opening last week of the Crimean Bridge (aka the Kerchensky Bridge) to traffic, and I won’t repeat what everybody else has written about this Eighth Wonder of the World. Instead, I focus on the human-psychological rather than the human-engineering feat. Russian press is reporting on a kind of psychological euphoria among ordinary Crimeans, Russians, and Ukrainians, as the new bridge does what bridges are supposed to do: Unite people who would be otherwise divided by geography. Before the bridge, people had to rely mostly on ferry-boats to get back and forth across the Kerch Strait. From the Russian mainland to this peninsular chunk of Russia, in other words. Ferries are subject to the weather, they take a long time to board and cross, and cannot be guaranteed on any particular day. Now, with the bridge in place, a person in a car can drive from one side to the other in about 15-20 minutes.
The bridge was not a vanity project of Mr. Putin, despite some things that may have been printed in the Westie press, dog-in-the-manger style. The Ukrainian government, with the full support of Western nations such as the U.S. and Canada, had cut off water, electricity and other necessities of civilian infrastructure to the Crimean peninsula — which is an international war crime, by the way — but the Ukrainians not only got away with it, but were egged on by their Western allies. The repressive Ukrainian regime also did whatever was in their power — checkpoints, arbitrary searches and arrests, posting peoples names and addresses on a government-supported assassins hitlist, to prevent people from moving back and forth over the border, even trying to keep families separated from each other. Living in this type of war blockade for four years, with neo-Nazis militias baying at their Northern border, the Crimeans desperately needed the bridge to be built, to connect them to mainland Russia. And so, with a wave of Putin’s magic wand, it came to pass. By the miracle of modern engineering, the determination of a nation, and a government willing to spend a hefty sum on infrastructure improvements.
And it isn’t just the bridge, by the way. The Ukrainian blogger you are about to meet, reports on a veritable boom of construction all over the Crimean peninsula — including the shiny new airport terminal in Simferopol; roads and highways galore. Neglected very badly under 25 years of Ukrainian administration, Crimea has come alive under Russian “occupation”. As the blogger notes: “They said they would do it, and they did it!” Which is also a type of miracle in this age we live in, wherein politicians promise everything and do nothing.
I begin with this piece from RIA, in which the blogger, who hails from the great town of Nikolaev, Ukraine, raves about his experience driving over the bridge. In his official video channel on youtube, the blogger, whose name is Viktor Petrovsky, has posted vids of the actual drive; this particular vid constitutes his post-drive impressions, in the heat of the moment. Petrovsky is in a state of euphoria. Since there are not English subtitles, I hereby take it upon myself to translate most of his utterances, which are all done on the fly; and, by the way, I cringed several times watching this, wishing that Vic would just keep his eyes on the road. But no… Not only is this distracted driver recording a video, he is also answering his CB radio and talking to his wife and kids in the back seat! Well, at least he is wearing a seat belt, I’ll give him that….
And, since Vic is obviously a danger-hound, I should also report that the Ukrainian government is out to get him now — this piece in VZGLIAD reports that the Ukrainian Minister of State Borders Oleg Slobodjan has threatened to punish the blogger for his “unauthorized” and “illegal” drive across the bridge. And isn’t it “funny”, by the way, that governments such as the United States, which used to be all crocodile-teary about the USSR not allowing its citizens to travel freely (the same government which kept its own citizens from travelling to Cuba for, say, 50 years!), is okay with their client state Ukraine trying to keep its people locked in the dungeon. This is the moment when President Trump should pout his little lips and declaim self-righteously: “Mr. Poroshenko, tear down that wall!”
Next on the agenda: I will translate Vic’s off-the-cuff summary of his historic ride. And then review this piece by Andrei Babitsky, on the psychological boost the bridge has given to the people living on the Crimean peninsula.
Did The Bridge Open Overton’s Window?
But before I even get to any of that (so much material, so little time, and my blogpost is turning into an effing LIFO stack!) I need to mention the Russian criminal case opened against the American newspaper the Washington Examiner, its editor and its so-called reporter name of Tom Rogan. Rogan being investigated for “incitement to terrorism” due to his written calls for the Ukrainian army to blow up the bridge: “Ukraine has the means to launch air strikes against the bridge in a manner that would render it at least temporarily unusable,” Rogan wrote in his piece.
In this opinion piece, Russian reporter Anton Krylov explains why Rogan needs to be held accountable for his utterances. It’s not because he is an important person — far from it. It’s just because the so-called “Overton Window” — already way too far open, in what people will accept as “normal” — is being pushed open ever wider by ideological fanatics such as Rogan. The so-called “Overton Window” is also known as the boiling frog syndrome. Once people get used to ideas that were previously considered tabu, then they can be led in the direction of accepting ever more tabu ideas. If it’s okay to shut off water and electricity to ordinary civilians, in contradiction of international law, then must also be okay to bomb a bridge that these people use to drive back and forth to visit their relatives. According to Krylov, the Russian government is determined to put a stop to this kind of fascistic trash talk and incitement to terrorism. Not by arresting Rogan, which is impossible — he will never dare to travel to Russia — but by calling on his employers to account for the utterances of their hired man.
[to be continued]