19 April 2014
Source: Moscow Helsinki Group
Ukrinform has published a letter to Ukrainians by Russian politicians and civil society activists. The news agency says that the names of those who have signed, as well as the content of their letter, deserve to be quoted without editing. Thanks to them, in this difficult time, Ukrainians understand that they are not the only ones in their struggle and that Russians are no enemies to Ukraine, but the entanglement of Russia and its military forces in a war against Ukraine is a crime by the Kremlin which will turn out to be an historical disgrace for them. However, Ukrinform adds that we should let each draw his own conclusion.
A Letter to Ukrainians: In defending your freedom, you are also defending the freedom of the people of Russia
Dear sisters and brothers!
At this terrible moment we write to you with pain in our hearts.
The ruling regime in Russia has crossed the final moral boundary and without any declaration of war has started a military offensive in Ukraine. At the start of March the Russian army occupied Crimea, and now it is trying to annex the south east of your country. In addition, the special forces of the Russian army do what is shameful for the military of any country by hiding their own national identity and faces and acting in the capacity of “Little Green Men”. This is a disgrace for Russia, a disgrace for our army. The Russian army has never shamed itself by hiding behind peaceful inhabitants. Russian soldiers would not have behaved in this way now, but the regime has pushed them into committing a crime against their brothers and against their own sense of honour.
For the occupation of Ukrainian territory, and the annexation of part of it, the Russian authorities have made use of false slogans related to alleged cruel, long-term oppression of Russian-speaking Ukrainian citizens by the Kiev authorities, and to the alleged seizure of the government in Ukraine last February by fascists and gangsters. We understand perfectly well that in all the recent years when Ukraine was governed by Yanukovich, who hails from eastern Ukraine, he would never have oppressed his fellow countrymen from Donbass, Kharkiv and Crimea more than Ukrainians from the western part of your country. He and his predecessors oppressed all citizens, robbing them and converting the potentially one of the richest countries in Europe into a country of poor and disenfranchised people, often forced to look abroad for a crust of bread. We also understand very well that the current government of Ukraine, recognised by just about the whole of the international community, has absolutely nothing in common with either fascism or Nazism. This government has started to govern the country in an on-going dialogue with its citizens, and is trying to establish a democracy in Ukraine.
It is very clear to us that Ukraine, a country formed after the collapse of the USSR, has not appropriated a single inch of territory beyond those borders ratified by international and intergovernmental agreements, borders acquired as a legacy from the USSR. Today’s Russian Federation does not appear in the slightest way to be the sole inheritor of our formerly shared country of Russia. The land of Sevastopol, Crimea, Donbass, like any other part of the territory of historical Russia, are equally drenched in the sweat and blood of all nations of our former shared motherland, since everyone defended it and everyone worked, rejoiced and suffered on it. The words expressed by Mr Putin regarding the reunification of Crimea with Russia appear to be nothing other than the propaganda of lies. It is similarly possible to declare the reunification of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan with Russia, because until 1936 they were part of the RSFSR; even Finland and Poland were part of Russia until 1917.
We believe the treaty creating the Commonwealth of Independent States of 8th December 1991, which was almost unanimously ratified by the Russian parliament, to be inviolable. The fifth article of this treaty states that “The High Negotiating Parties recognise and respect the territorial entity of one another and the inviolability of existing boundaries within the framework of the Commonwealth”. This principle was emphasised in the second article of the “Treaty on friendship and cooperation between the Russian Federation and Ukraine” of 31st May 1997. This principle also corresponds with the principles (third and fourth) of the concluding Helsinki Act of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Today, outrageously flouting of all these and many other international treaties, trampling on its own signatures to these agreements, the Russian Federation, or more accurately, a regime which has grabbed power in the Russian Federation, is jeeringly committing aggression against you, Ukrainians, members of the brother nation that is closest to us, haughtily demands that you adopt one or another kind of state structure, amend your own constitution and laws. The current regime forgets that its power over Russia is of very doubtful legitimacy because of the absence in today’s Russia of free and fair elections at all levels, including those of the president, and because of the numerous instances of electoral fraud. All the more does it lack any right whatsoever to dictate its own will to another sovereign nation.
We are disgusted by the actions of our government and we suffer from the shame into which they are taking our homeland before all people in the world. We are aware that we are becoming an outcast as a country, with all the economic and political consequences that flow from this unhappy situation.
And therefore it is with special emphasis that we want to tell you, dear Ukrainian sisters and brothers: in defending your freedom, the territorial integrity of your country, you are also defending the territorial integrity of our country, Russia, and the freedom of our nation.
We stand with you in your just struggle!
Ludmila Alekseevna, Andrei Zubov, Mikhail Kasyanov, Georgy Satarov, Liliya Shevtsov
19 April 2014
Translated by Frances Robson