Accuracy in Media

With the 88th Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles approaching, freedom lovers are cheering for the Netflix film, “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom,” which is being considered for an Academy Award in the category of Best Foreign Documentary. “Winter on Fire” is an inspiring story of a former Soviet republic resisting incorporation in the new Russian empire and seeking membership in the Free World. It’s a story whose ending is still in doubt.

The trailer captures the intensity of the entire film, as a young boy is shown putting his life on the line and calling home, telling his mom, “I love you.” He did not know whether he would live or die in the face of the regime’s armed thugs, and the security police beating and killing peaceful protesters.

Vladimir Putin’s puppet, Viktor Yanukovych, had won election as president of Ukraine by promising close ties to the West—but he secretly negotiated a deal to bring the former Soviet republic back into Moscow’s sphere of influence. The people of Ukraine were betrayed, and then revolted in a series of protests that will go down in history as the Ukrainian revolution of 2014. It is also known simply as Euromaidan, named for the pro-European tilt of the protests and the central square in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, where the demonstrations began.

The film shows people of all ages and backgrounds taking to the streets, wearing pots and pans as helmets, filling sandbags with snow and ice to make barricades to keep the regime’s forces at bay. There are graphic scenes of the injured and dead. Still, the demonstrators kept coming back, day after day. The people had nothing but will and determination to be free of Russian influence. In the end, after 93 days of protest, at least 125 people were killed, 65 were missing and 1,890 had been injured.

The American director, Evgeny Afineevsky, was born in Russia but won’t be returning there anytime soon because of the obvious danger to his life. He emigrated to Israel, where he was raised and educated, before coming to the United States. “I haven’t been to Russia for a couple of years and I am not planning to go there at the moment,” he says. “I am probably not a welcome guest there. But there are filmmakers everywhere and all of us deserve freedom of expression and freedom of speech.”

Of course, the story of the anti-Soviet/Russian protests in Ukraine does not have a completely happy ending. Putin responded with a Russian invasion of Ukraine, a struggle that continues as the Ukrainian government continues to plead for weapons for self-defense. President Obama has turned a deaf ear and blind eye to their pleas.

Putin’s invasion had to be based in part on the knowledge that if a revolution could depose his crony in Ukraine, it could also happen to him. Indeed, it was an opportunity for the U.S. government, if Obama had been so inclined, not only to support Ukraine’s bid for independence but to seek regime-change in Moscow. Instead, Obama continued his soft-on-Russia policy that has also led to Russian military intervention propping up the Syrian dictatorship.

Nevertheless, the protests have pushed forward a process of “de-communization” in the parts of Ukraine not under Russian occupation. Volodymyr Viatrovych, the historian who serves as director of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory, spoke about the process last November at the Kennan Institute of the Wilson Center, outlining a series of laws that have been passed by the new Parliament and signed by new President Petro Poroshenko to eliminate communist and totalitarian influence in society. The laws honor the memory of Ukrainian freedom fighters, authorize access to the archives of the communist regime, and ban the use of both communist and Nazi symbols. As a result, the Communist Party of Ukraine has been outlawed.

Hundreds of Lenin monuments or statues have been torn down, with Viatrovych noting that Ukraine had been the “most Leninized” part of the old Soviet Union. One statue of Lenin was converted into Darth Vader. Streets, squares and state enterprises named after communist figures are being renamed as part of this process.

Beyond tearing down communist statues and removing Soviet symbols, the Ukraine Crisis Media Center has published an infographic on communism’s victims, estimated at 100 million, and asking for a “Nuremberg-2,” a follow-up to the original Nuremberg tribunals that exposed the Nazis for their crimes and brought them to justice. This time, the hope is that communists will be brought to justice, including figures such as Vladimir Putin, the former Soviet KGB spy who continues to celebrate Russia’s Soviet past. Another infographic demonstrates how Ukraine’s neighbors have succeeded or failed to overcome their communist pasts. In Russia, for example, the Communist Party was banned in 1991, then restored, and is now a major force in the Russian parliament. It maintains friendly relations with Putin’s United Russia Party.

Tragically, both Republican and Democratic administrations in the U.S. have accepted the fiction that Putin was a new and modern Russian leader. It was that flawed bipartisan approach that gave Russia Permanent Normal Trade Relations status in 2012.

The estimated number of people killed in Ukraine since the Russian invasion has now exceeded 8,000. In addition to this carnage, pro-Russian terrorists shot down a Malaysian airplane over eastern Ukraine, killing nearly 300 people.

David J. Kramer, former president of Freedom House, says, “Congress has passed several pieces of legislation by large bipartisan majorities calling for the provision of lethal arms to Ukraine, and virtually every member of the Cabinet as well as his vice-president support such a step; President Obama is the lone holdout…”

By this point, the explanation for this state of affairs is an old story. As a young man in Hawaii, Obama was mentored by a pro-Russian communist, Frank Marshall Davis, who taught him that “Red Russia” was a savior of the world’s oppressed peoples. Obama mocked 2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney for calling Russia a geo-political threat.

If anything, Donald Trump, the GOP front-runner in the 2016 contest, is to the left of Obama. He told a Ukraine conference in September that their nation was invaded because “there is no respect for the United States” and “Putin does not respect our president whatsoever.” He also insisted Ukraine was a European problem. The comments were considered so weak, in terms of pledging American support for Ukraine’s freedom and independence, that Trump was named by one Ukraine website as a “Kremlin agent.” This was before AIM disclosed Trump’s business connections to the Putin regime.

Perhaps Trump can take some time off the campaign trail to watch “Winter on Fire.”

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  • RMThoughts

    The Orange Revolution in the fall of 2004 produced an inept leader, Viktor Yushchenko, and a corrupt operator, Yulia Tymoshenko, whose incompetence paved the way for Viktor Yanukovych’s victory in January 2010. He also proved to be just as incompetent and corrupt, but in the end he was a legal president. Western powers stage-managed, funded and aided the violent overthrow of a democratically elected chief of state in February 2014.

    In so doing Ukraine’s sovereignty was even more degraded, from Russian puppet and vassal to would be direct corporate holding of America as foreign colonial master. We will now reap the rewards: civil war, a bankrupt economy in immediate need of some tens of billions of ready liquidity, a disintegrating country with secessionist regions; Nationalist private armies units arbitrating power unable to be controlled , and a new Cold War-like flashpoint that nobody needs.

    Euromaidan kicked out not only a democratically-elected president, but a democratically-elected government. Without legal government, there will never be peace in Ukraine. There’s now a history, and future, of violent revolution. If there’s no law – it’s a failed state – the recent wave of arrests and even killings of anyone perceived to be ‘anti-regime’ in Ukraine, accompanied by not only resounding failure to investigate, but a endorsement of those responsible – the fact that the police in Ukraine defer to terrorist group Pravy Sektor.

    So two years down and Ukraine, officially bankrupt is quite on cue for its well planned future grovelling in the poverty of the third world waiting for US/EU hand outs as their men fight each other for the chance to clean toilets in some Western brothel in which their sisters work.

  • Mikronos

    Ukrainians thought so much of the ‘loser’ Yanukovich, they elected him President on three separate occasions. Go figure what 6 billion smackeroos can do.

    The only thing missing from the ‘production’ is boobs, although God know Ukraine is blessed with more than its fair share.

  • Erudite Mavin

    Your Ron Paul is the Cheer Leader for Putin, RT, Iran and the rest of American’s enemies.

  • RMThoughts

    Why is Russia America’s enemy?

  • Erudite Mavin

    Your crowd asked the same question about the Nazis in WWII

  • RMThoughts

    I Don’t know whose crowd it is.

    Recent book shows the father of the billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch helped construct a major oil refinery in Nazi Germany that was personally approved by Adolf Hitler.

    Wall Street bankers, mainly the Morgan-Rockefeller investment bankers, were closely linked to the growth of Nazi industry in the late thirties. The main companies participating in this exchange were Ford, General Electric, General Motors, and Dupont, all of them, with the exception of Ford, controlled by Wall Street bankers.

    Among U.S. millionaires helping the Nazis Another important firm who heavily collaborated with the Nazis was W.A. Harriman & Company. In 1931 Harriman & Company merged with another company and became Brown Brothers, Harriman. One of the senior partners of the new company was Prescott Bush, president W. Bush’s grandfather. In 1942 the U.S. government charged Prescott Bush with running Nazi fronts in the U.S. During the investigation, it was found that Prescott Bush’s companies had been covertly working for Nazi Germany.

  • MT

    Beautiful article that starts and ends about “Winter on Fire”
    A documentary which is just 95% 1st hand video footage of what exactly happened, no need to read the comments, just watch the video.


  • reb

    Putin claims the USA is the ENEMY…he breaks every treaty he signs…he constantly lies…he lied that he didn’t invade Blitzkrieg style Crimea …later he bragged about it in a self gratifying video documentary! He claimed his Putinistas did NOT shoot down MH17 -all the evidence exposes this lie. He also claims his soldiers are not in Eastern Ukraine -remember he sneaked in convoys of heavy military equipment even tanks under disguise as humanitarian aid and yet his henchmen are routinely captured by Ukrainian forces in Ukraine….it goes on and on…

  • reb

    spoken like a true Putinista propagandist…RMT above stands Russian Media Troll

  • Alexei Grechnev

    I live in Kharkiv, Ukraine. As a low-key participant of the events I can confirm that “Winter of Fire” is good and mostly accurate. I highly recommend this documentary to everyone. The present article is also mostly to the point. I have some doubts about the attack on Obama, but Trump the friend of Putin is a major disgrace, especially compared to people like John McCain.

    The most important point: the war in Ukraine is not the conflict of two primitive tribes named “Russia” and “Ukraine”. It is a conflict between values of freedom and modernity (Ukraine) against mixture of fascism and late medieval absolutism (Russia). It’s also the fight of truth against the lies, people against everything Russian oil+gas dollars can buy, honesty vs cynicism etc.

    Western people, especially the young ones, take too much for granted, like freedom, democracy, good life. Just remember the history, how the freedom has won over the absolutism and feudalism in French revolution, in American revolution, in many bloody conflicts, how it was defended in world wars 1 and 2 and cold war (against the non-free world). I was born in USSR, basically one huge prison camp so I see the contrast a little better.

    Most of the world is still non-free (and how often westerners cowardly hide from this fact behind concepts like “other cultures” or “we want peace not conflict”). And Putin’s Russia, together with ISIL, is the closest modern approximation to Hitler and Mussolini, it wages wars almost nonstop: Georgia, Ukraine, Syria. The majority of Ukrainian people wanted freedom, normal system of values, and nothing to do with “great Russia”, “great USSR”, Stalin, Lenin and such, the idols of Putin’s Russia. As a result Russia invaded, occupying territories, killing over 9000 Ukrainians, and creating over 2 million refugees.

    The revolution changed something is us Ukrainians. Now we are finally grown up a little, and rely on ourselves, rather than wanting a “good tsar” to “solve our problems”. We are living in the times of volunteer fighters, volunteer aid workers, crowdfunding the army and such. And the war freed us irreversibly and forever from any sort of “Great Russia” projects.

  • Banning the whole communist ideology is like banning Orthodox Christianity for the crimes committed by the czarist state church during the Russian Empire period. Not all communists are stalinists and many died because of their opposition to stalinism in the 1930’s. Also the banning of the Internationale and the red star also limits the freedom of speech for revolutionary socialists, who stood against dictators like Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev, Leonid Brezhnev and Micheal Gorbachev. Now these people are put on equal grounds with stalinists. Like arresting members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church for the czarist crimes of the Russian Orthodox Church, because both support the Orthodox religion!

    Meanwhile those anticommunists who collaborated with the nazi’s are hailed as ”freedom fighters” by Kiev. Opposing them is now a crime, while those who fought Nazi Germany are demonized. No, Ukraine is not fighting for freedom. Ukraine is ruled by a anticommunist conservative regime, that does not care about human rights at all!!

  • Erudite Mavin

    That would be typical.
    the Kochs are Libertarians, Not Republicans and Not Conservatives.

  • LaTisha Jackson

    Wonderful, Alyosha!!! GREAT!!! You can’t consider the Americans a developed nation, as they have skipped the normal developement of 1,000 years of suffering before becoming a long-lasting civilization with considerable spirit. They went straight to overwhelming comfort. This was the whole idea behind this country, COMFORT. Let’s achieve the comfortable life, i.e. the American Dream. They are all comfort junkies. The best way to eradicate the United States is to turn off the ac (air conditioner) for 5 minutes. Today I spoke with some degenerate land lord (not mine, luckily), who said California was great. How do you explain to a greedy Jew that he is an idiot and genetic garbage? Only because he owns 5 appartment buildings he knows life? This nation has never produced a single GREAT philosopher, painter, poet or a composer, which means the top of the human pyramid is missing altogether. You have the rockefellers, lawyers, brokers and dealers at the bottom, but where is the TOP? The ruling elite? Mozart, Socrates, Michelangelo? How would the comfort junkies, the overfed, overentertained and the purposeless know the truth without the spiritual guides? That’s right, they will always follow the eloquent tyrant to a mass grave.

  • LaTisha Jackson

    What do you think? He IS a paid kay-gee-bee saboteur. DEATH to the inferior! Let’s get together, guys, and smash them in 2016! The inferior must die!!!

  • LaTisha Jackson

    let’s expell this kremlin spy from this blog. Tell the administrators. We only tolerate the superior here. NO INFERIOR! Death to the inferior!!!!

  • RMThoughts

    Ukraine now vies with Moldova for the country with the lowest average wages in Europe. Neither the US nor the EU are not going to support Ukraine. The general situation in Ukraine and around it is getting out of US control. The process may be slow, as things get worse Ukraine will have no alternative but to turn toward Moscow–one has to live somehow.

    One can calmly wait for events to unfold, after all, Kiev has
    nowhere to turn–EU won’t admit it, won’t give money, All that’s left is for the situation to play out and in the end, Ukraine will turn to Russia. Russia will save Ukraine only because it doesn’t need a 40-million poverty zone and instability on its borders

  • RMThoughts

    Western politicians and journalists refer to “the people of Ukraine,” but there is no unified Ukrainian nation. The linguistic divide also reflects a fundamental cultural and emotional division, not merely a difference of opinion on the issue of the EU or NATO. It is a division between two fundamentally incompatible identities. It is comparable to the divide apparent in the electoral map of the 1860 U.S. presidential

    Ukraine is likewise an evenly divided country, by territory and by population, than can be homogenized only by a civil war. The “unionists” (Galician ultranationalists) cannot hope to subjugate and “reconstruct” the Novorussians and convert them to an image of “Ukraine” defined by a visceral hatred of Russia and all her works. But just as the Novorussians will never become “Ukrainians”
    in the tradition of Bandera, they can never convert the Western Ukrainians to the paradigm of a Moscow-friendly “borderland” whose destiny is in a close association with Moscow.

    Ukraine is a pathetic non-country with lots of nasty people with guns, a failed state that could have made something of itself until last fall. Western meddling has turned it into a Hobbesian nightmare.

  • RMThoughts

    The current bandero-fascist Ukraine collapse is a matter of time, not principle. Therefore many are asking an almost Solzenitsyn-like question “how to rearrange” what remains of it. Since the EU is unwilling to exercise patronage over Ukraine, by default it will be exercised by Russia or its proxies.

  • Silkote

    I am shocked the author made no mention of the fact that Ukraine’s so-called ‘freedom fighters’ were responsible for the wholesale slaughter of 20-22,000 Jews during their Nazi collaboration. Today this ‘Ukrainian Institute of National Memory’ is busy naming main streets of major cities and towns after these murderers! So much for freedom. The sad thing is that they probably have no one else to resurrect as heroes from their sordid past. A little more accuracy in your media would be a good idea.

  • RMThoughts
  • ptjfitzgerald

    Reb you are very correct. I can’t imagine what its like for the Ukrainian people having Russia at your door and a impotent EU behind you.
    The people in Winter on fire are the most inspirational people I have seen in my lifetime. I pray that Ukraine stays strong you will make it through these dark times.