Poet, Journalist, Translator

Stephen Komarnyckyj


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I write about poetry, Ukraine and money laundering- why the hell not?

Draft letter to Satish Kumar

By Steve Komarnyckyj, May 26 2014 03:42PM

I am writing to the owner of the Ecologist website because, sadly, it has become a conduit for Ukrainophobic propaganda. Any comments gratefully received-

Dear Mr Kumar

I am writing to you in connection with the editorial line taken by the Ecologist website on the Ukrainian crisis. It gives me no pleasure to be raising this matter with you and I am sick at heart to think that people I admire could be hostile to Ukraine. I share the magazine's concerns and respect the work that you have done for peace and for the environment. However, the coverage of Ukraine's uprising against a tyrant who sought to steal the right to vote from Ukrainians has been deeply flawed. In any democratic society there must be scope for different points of view to be represented. However your magazine has become the conduit for disinformation produced by Russia's special services and a platform for a Holocaust denier.

Let me begin with the piece produced by Israel Shamir which is duplicated on your site dated 21 May 2014.


Shamir, although originally Jewish, has converted to Orthodoxy and is a notorious figure with links to neo nazi movements across Europe. While I appreciate that there is scope for different points of view his characterisation of Putin of course omits several key facts regarding the man's views. However, in general, I would question whether an environmental site should provide a platform for a character with at least six aliases, multiple identities and a track record of hate speech.

The piece presenting Graham W Philips as a journalist detained by an overweaning government is equally problematic. Phillips originally went to Kyiv as an English teacher and then became a sex blogger. He was at some stage picked up by Russia Today a channel whose reputation is only slightly less whiffy than a Normandy camembert on a hot day. His reports were characterised by extreme carelessness and what appears to be falsification. On one occasion he triggered a proximity flare near a Ukrainian outpost and claimed that the sound it made was a shot that the Ukrainian army had fired at him:


He despises Ukraine's indigenous culture, hates the Ukrainian state, and wants to see it destroyed. He was travelling around a war zone openly supporting terrorists spreading disinformation and observing military positions. He had was holding an automatic rifle according to one account. They had no choice but to arrest him.

The piece by Diane Johnstone presents the specious argument that the minority right wing element in the coalition that formed in Ukraine's Parliament is a Nazi takeover.


Nazis are not Jewish. They do not hold elections. The extreme right only secured 2% in Ukraine's presidential election on 26 May. The account of the Odesa massacre is wildly inaccurate. In fact some individuals who we might describe as pro Russian attacked a peaceful march with firearms killing one of them to provoke a riot. The aim was to generate a violent incident and lamentably they succeeded. However after the fire had started- and it is not clear how it started- the crowd actually tried to rescue the people in the building. The government is multi ethnic and the factitious suggestion that they want to inspire Ukrainians to massacre ethnic minorities is stupid in the extreme.


The defense of Putin who is the architect of all this mayhem is laughably naive because we actually know the kind of plans that Russia is formulating. Dugin a key strategist in Putin's establishment, is a Fascist who admires the SS and advocates destroying Ukraine.


The piece could only have been written by someone who was both profoundly anti Western and either misrepresenting or unaware of the political climate in Russia. What does it have to do with the environment? Dugin is one of the Fascistss coordinating the separatists many of whom are Nazis:



The article by Mike Whitney also purveys the false narrative that Ukraine is now ruled by Nazis. This posture was always ludicrous and is even more so now that the right has been marginalised at the ballot box. Again the article is written as if a law abiding president had been destabilised. In fact Yanukvych stole over $70bn and corrupted and impoverished society


Incidentally Ukraine was the deadliest place on earth from 1933 to 1945 losing more at the hands of Hitler and Stalin than any other European nation. Whitney's stigmatisation of Ukrainians is therefore utterly repugnant.

I understand the need for an opposition to the hegemony of big business and of any political block. However an autocrat who represents his own corporate interests and plays with virulent nationalism cannot fulfill that role The people of Ukraine have affirmed the sovereignty of the people over the politicians. The revolution was one step on a long path to a world where the hegemony of the oligarchs of East and West will be broken. The left has to reinvent itself and to see that acting as the propaganda megaphone of a regime like Putin's will only result in its further marginalisation and estrangement. Ukraine offers a chance to rethink, to renew. It is not a barrier to Russia but a hand stretched out to the Russian people, and a reminder that the only force capable of challenging the oligarchy is the people.

I urge you to amend your editorial policy and as a first step

- to remove the article by Holocaust denier Shamir and acknowledge its publication was a mistake

- as regards Ukraine to publish articles from Ukrainian sources articulating an alternative to the Putinesque propaganda which you have published to date.

- an apology for taking a biassed, Ukrainophobic, editorial line

I am frankly sick of the xenophobia that man on the left see fit to express towards Ukraine. Engels said socialism was the anti semitism of fools. Ukrainophobia is form of ethnic stigmatisation that some of the left deem acceptable. It has no place on your site.

May 26 2014 04:08PM by Dean Bain

Good work. The Ecologist has also published Stalin revisionism that I find very offensive, the suggestion he kept The West honest, when we know very well what he did in the U.S.S.R. It is strange that such a man would allow his publication to be used in this way. Feel free to ask for any assistance in this endeavour.

May 26 2014 04:52PM by peter Bakulinskyj

I think this is a good response to anti-Ukraine ariticles.I had the only east European name at my first school and "Your dad was a camp guard" was often said-I think some people care not for truth and whatever suits there personality-they pass this info down to there kids.
My dad survived the "Holodmor" the war.I know what happened,.Ive read so much about Ukrainian history , and had to stop at times ,as it was so much to take in ,the horror of life. So when anti-maidan propaganda comes in like a bad smell , just remember National Geographic has put crimea into russian territory already-wont be picking that up in the Docters surgery again! One shook for for me was when ,danial stanford of the bbc reported on twitter "that his Hotel ukrinay, where he is staying is busy,it was a morgue this afternoon and now a hospital-Where can i grab a beer?" that small , but disrespectful quip spoke volumes about the bbc and general opinion, I complained ,but heard nothing-best wishes
Peter bakulinskyj

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