Don’t Tell Me We’re Fighting For Democracy In Ukraine
Before the war, Ukraine was considered to be one of the most corrupt countries in Europe if not the world. The war didn’t change that.
There’s this little fact about Volodymyr Zelensky that I can’t get out of my mind. According to The Guardian, his name turned up in the Pandora Papers, a who’s who of corruption and looting. And it wasn’t just Zelensky. From the Guardian, October of last year:
The files reveal Zelenskiy participated in a sprawling network of offshore companies, co-owned with his longtime friends and TV business partners. They include Serhiy Shefir, who produced Zelensky’s hit shows, and Shefir’s older brother, Borys, who wrote the scripts. Another member of the consortium is Ivan Bakanov, a childhood friend. Bakanov was general director of Zelenskiy’s production studio, Kvartal 95.
Is that what we’re defending in Ukraine?
Those facts about Zelensky were reported months before the invasion. And the invasion wasn’t the start of the war. The invasion was an escalation of a war that had been ongoing since 2014. Russia escalated the war. Up until that point in time, February 24th of this year, the media had been largely critical of Ukraine, Ukraine’s government, and even of Zelensky.
After the invasion, the tone of the reporting changed to “Slava Ukraine!”, one that celebrated and defended the country of Ukraine and its culture. Just the other day, I saw an article celebrating Ukrainian borscht. The attention of the press shifted from, “look how corrupt Ukraine is”, to “look how defenseless and innocent Ukraine is”. It is this shift that I find most disturbing about the present war and reporting of the same.
So I set out to see if I could find two diametrically opposed observers reporting on what they’ve seen in Ukraine. As luck would have it, I found them. I found two stories written only weeks apart, from two seemingly opposed sources, shortly after the invasion.
The first story comes from the UK’s Socialist Worker Party. In an article published on March 1st, they tell us that, “Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is no clean break from corruption”. The nugget of their article?