October 29, 2002
Letters to the Editor
Globe and Mail
It is crucial to distinguish between freedom-fighters and terrorists. Thanks to Amy Knight "Blame it on the Kremlin" Globe and Mail October 29, 2002, for her contribution in doing so.
Please allow a little history to illustrate the point further.
After WW2 the Kremlin went on an ethnic cleansing and deportation spree that puts Kosovo in the minor league. The emphasis was on "bandits"- those most likely to resist Sovietization. Among millions, were about 300,000 Chechens, 150,000 Tatars, and 600,000 Ukrainians on the Poland/USSR boarder designated for expulsion from ancestral lands.
The 800 - family villagers of Verbytsia, Western Ukraine, were marshaled into cattle cars to Siberia. In the melee, Ivas' Truschyk, an 11 year-old boy disengaged from his mother. He was desperately searching for her when the Kremlin policy implementers caught him. Eyewitnesses say he was told to strip. An official cut off his penis and told him to run. Then shot him in the back. Finding him mutilated and dead his mother lost her mind. Until her death, in Siberia, she searched for her boy. Verbitsia had 85 people murdered in this roundup alone.
It took days to evacuate the Chechens and the Tatars; six years to evacuate Ukrainian villages like Verbytsia because they were assisted in their resistance to occupation and extinction by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. The Kremlin called the freedom fighters "terrorists" and, to add insult to injury "Nazi collaborators", knowing this made their elimination more palatable.
Mr. Putin has demonstrated amply his standard of political veracity: the Kursk submarine disaster, constant aggression against oil-rich Caucasians, the war against the Chechens and, since summer, Georgia have put him in-not-to-be-trusted category. Western society has advanced enough to distinguish between the crimes of those in power from self-defense of the helpless: for example, child-molester or wife battery victims, when they strike out in self-defense, are not treated the same way as cold blooded murderers.
September 11 has provided opportunity to mask the distinction between real terrorists and those that can be easily dealt with under that moniker. Mr. Putin is perpetrating genocide in Chechnya and must be held responsible for the desperate acts of desperate Chechens. The West must not encourage Russia to revert to its historic pattern of barbaric behaviour by withholding blame and condemnation from Mr. Putin. His politics and acts are responsible for the recent death of the Russians.
With warm regards,
Oksana Bashuk Hepburn