Wednesday, February 11, 2015

‘Khamstvo’ at the Russian Consulate in Seattle

Paul Goble


            Staunton, February 11 – Earlier this week, a group of Ukrainians visiting the American city of Seattle tried to present a petition to the Russian consulate there, but the official to whom they handed it to demonstratively ripped it up in front of them and said that that was the fate that should await all such petitions.


            This action, which one can be sure Moscow would have protested if an American consulate ever did the same with a Russian protest, can only be described by the Russian word “khamtsvo,” which denotatively means “caddishness, coarseness, and vulgarity” but which in fact connotes contempt for all notions of civilized behavior.


            And tragically, what the Russian “diplomat” – and one has to put that in quotes for a Russian consulate near a center of the American computer industry – did is not an exception but increasingly the rule among Russian representatives, from Vladimir Putin and Sergey Lavrov on down.


            Kseniya Kirillova, a Novy Region-2 journalist who lives near Seattle, describes what happened, and her report should serve as a wake-up call to all those who think it is possible to do business as usual with the Putin regime (


            On Monday, she writes, the Ukrainian diaspora in the American state of Washington organized the latest in what has been a series of protests at the Russian consulate general in Seattle calling for the liberation of Ukrainian flier Nadezhda Savchenko who is being illegally held in Moscow and whose detention has just be extended.


            The latest protest was different from the earlier ones, Kirillova says, because some of the participants included Ukrainian families who were visiting the area, among whom were women who had lost husbands to Russian aggression in Ukraine and one man who had served with Savchenko.


            Aleksey Batshev, one of the participants, said that he and the others “had prepared a letter about the liberation of Nadezhda addressed to the Consul General, but the security personnel there for a long time did not even want to allow us into the building in order to hand it over.”


            When he was finally allowed in, Batshev says, he “politely” handed the letter to Russian diplomats who he said “without even reading it, demonstratively tore it into pieces in front  of the eyes of the activist, adding a comment to the effect that such a letter deserves precisely such a fate.”


            Other Ukrainians who took part in the demonstration said that the security officers had told them not to try to hand over the letter physically but rather use email or faxes to communicate with the diplomats. They told Kirillova that they “intend to follow their advice and continue to write to the consulate letters of protest against the arrest of Nadezhda Savchenko and the continuation of Russian aggression in [their] country.”


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