Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Forthcoming: "The BHHRG Effect" and "The Silski Visti Affair Revisited"

In "How Did the Blogosphere Get Fooled on Ukraine?", I failed to address one important factor influencing the blogosphere's stubborn refusal as a rule to recognize the complexities of the Ukraine situation: namely, the role played by John Laughland and the British Helsinki Human Rights Group (BHHRG) in first raising the alarm about both certain tactics of the "Orange" coalition in Ukraine and certain ideological tendencies in its ranks. Laughland and the BHHRG were quickly identified by large portions of the blogosphere as "leftist" - in fact Laughland himself is most certainly not that, at least not in any customary sense of the term - and as anti-American: which indeed they are, in the sense that they have a Guardian-like tendency to see American geo-political machinations at work in every regional crisis. These identifications served as a kind of immunization for the more pro-American - or as I say anti-anti-American - sectors of the blogosphere against taking Laughland's and BHHRG's factual charges seriously. I have already touched on this issue in some comments to various earlier posts. But I think the matter has sowed sufficient confusion that it is worthwhile to address it in a separate follow-up post to "How Did the Blogosphere Get Fooled on Ukraine?" on what I will call "The BHHRG Effect".

As regular readers of Trans-Int will know, Silski Visti is a pro-"Orange" Ukrainian newspaper that was ordered closed by a Ukrainian court (though the order has never been implemented) on charges of incitement after publishing what can, I think, safely and uncontroversially be described as blatantly anti-Semitic material. (Extracts are cited in the following link, in case anyone doubts this description.) Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Timochenko came to the defense of Silski Visti, publishing along with their colleague Oleksandr Moroz a statement titled "Dirty Hands Off Silski Visti". In an earlier post on the Silski Visti affair, I wrote the following:

Yushchenko's initial reaction to the January court decision - "The government will get more and more upset with truthful information in mass media..." - suggests something other than just a content-neutral defense of principle. Perhaps a complete English translation of the "Hands off" statement would help to clarify this matter.

Thanks to the good offices of Dominique Arel and the Ukraine List, I now have such a translation at my disposal. With their kind permission, I will be publishing it here on Trans-Int.

As indicated, I will also be sharing some new information on the history of Andriy Shkil's UNA-UNSO (Ukrainian National Assembly-Ukrainian National Self-Defense). If Viktor Yushchenko is sometime soon confirmed as the new Ukrainian president, it will be interesting to see if the other components of the "Orange" finally take their distance from the Shkil organization.

New material should be up tomorrow by noon EST/5 PM GMT.