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Putin’s puppets who speak of genocide calmly and coolly

Pavel Gubarev, center, surrounded by pro-Russian fighters, speaks before taking the oath of allegiance to the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, in Lenin Square in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, on June 21, 2014. [AP | Evgeniy Maloletka]

It’s easy to forget thatVladimir Putin isn’t the only genocidaire in Russia. Although the recently deceased Vladimir Zhirinovsky made a career of expressing outrageously candid remarks about dropping nuclear weapons on Russia’s neighbors and the West, there are, alas, many more bloodthirsty madmen in Putin’s crumbling realm.

One of the most distinguished members of this club is Pavel Gubarev, a leading pro-Russia separatist in the Donbas. In a recent video statementabout Russia’s plans for Ukrainians, he intoned: “They are Russian people who are possessed by the devil. We aren’t coming to kill them, but we want to convince them. But if you don’t want to be convinced by us, then we’ll kill you. We’ll kill as many as is necessary: 1 million, 5 million, or exterminate all of you. Until you understand that you are possessed and need to be cured.”

Like Putin, Gubarev directs most of his venom at Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky: “And the person who is most possessed is that Zelensky. He is the devil’s spawn. He is Hitler 2.0 with his rabid nationalism and his rabid Russophobia… .”

Strong stuff, this — and crazy, too. Gubarev really uses the Russian words for kill (ubit’) and exterminate (istrebit’). He’s not speaking metaphorically. He’s evidently dead serious that Ukrainians must be physically destroyed. And he believes that Zelensky, like Adolf Hitler, must be wiped off the face of the earth. No matter that Zelensky is Jewish, that his family survived the Holocaust, and that his policies are both liberal and democratic.

But liberalism apparently is what rubs Gubarev the wrong way. As he goes on to state, Ukrainians are “Satanists,” as well as “anti-systemic liberal consumers” and “stupid people who can’t figure out what’s going on.”

If you think none of this makes any sense, you’re not alone. But Gubarev’s unhinged ravings are all the scarier because they typify the historical, political and cultural nonsense that passes for Russian official discourse in the age of Putin. Former Russian president and prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, also talks as if logic and veracity had no place in human speech. And Putin’s propagandists — Vladimir Solovyov, Olga Skabeyeva and Margarita Symonyan — can make Joseph Goebbels look and sound like a rational philosopher.

Naturally, the scariest part of Gubarev’s statement is the casual way in which he informs Ukrainians that, if they don’t change their identity, they will be exterminated. Gubarev should be frothing at the mouth; he should be turning red; his veins should be throbbing. Instead, he speaks of genocide calmly and coolly, as if he were delivering a weather report. Evidently, genocidal thinking has been internalized and normalized — and not just by him. It’s nothing unusual. It’s just “business as usual.”

Which is why Gubarev counts off the millions — one, five, or more — as if he were engaging in a simple monetary transaction. Ukrainian have been reduced to numbers in his mind. They have lost their humanity. The only way they can reclaim it is by abandoning their Satanic liberalism and reidentifying themselves as Russians — as Gubarevs and Putins and Medvedevs. But since the war has conclusively demonstrated that Ukrainians are unwilling to give up their language, culture, history and identity, genocide is Gubarev’s — and Putin’s, and Medvedev’s, and Mother Russia’s — only possible response. And genocide is precisely what Russia has been pursuing since Feb. 24, 2022.

The most recent genocidal action took place on Oct. 10, when Russia dropped about 100 missiles and drones on mostly civilian targets, killing at least 14. The shelling continues, and the targets have been and still are overwhelmingly civilian; five to 10 Ukrainians die, on average, per day. Small wonder that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted to declare the Russian Federation a terrorist regime.

There is no talking to Gubarev, and there is no talking to Putin, Medvedev and their ilk. Given the right incentive, they might be willing to stop just short of killing all Ukrainians, but no more. Genocidaires don’t negotiate genocide, after all.

More importantly, the Gubarevs, Putins and Medvedevs don’t negotiate — period. The persistent entreaties by some Western policymakers and analysts that Zelensky and Putin should please sit down and figure things out are, alas, dangerously naïve, because they presuppose that Russia’s answer to Germany’s Hitler actually wants to talk about anything short of Ukraine’s extermination. As history has shown, genocidaires stop only when they’ve completed their bloody work or are stopped.


(c) 2022, The Hill


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