Monday, October 28, 2019

Ukraine’s Servants of the People Coming Out of the Closet as ‘Servants of Russia,’ Portnikov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 24 – The scandal arising from Yevgeny Shevchenko’s suggestion on Moscow TV that Ukrainian defenders rather than Russian aggressors are responsible for the continuation of the war is the latest surfacing of what may be the views of many in Vladimir Zelensky’s party, Servants of the People, Vitaly Portnikov says.

            After all, Shevchenko represents that party in the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian commentator notes; and what he said on Moscow television is not far removed from what other members of it even closer to the Ukrainian president have said in recent weeks (

            Kyiv media are reporting that the Ukrainian parliament’s Servants of the People plans to discuss “’the behavior’” of Shevchenko at its next meeting.  “But why?” Portnikov asks.  He simply repeated what others more highly placed in that party, including Andrey Bogdan, the head of the Presidential Office, David Arakhamiiya, head of the Servants of the People fraction in the Verkhovna Rada, and President Zelensky himself have said.

            Shevchenko’s action is “interesting” because “he simply repeated on a big Russian television screen what his bosses and many comrades in arms are saying in the corridors” of power in Kyiv.  He has thus shown himself and the others as “collaborationists,” quite prepared to work for those who invaded Ukraine rather than those who have defended it.

            For many such people and those who ally themselves with them either out of conviction or short-term calculation, Portnikov continues, “the Russian ‘brothers’ are much closer in spirit than their own compatriots who have been defending their country at the front and in the streets of Kyiv and other cities of the country.”

            But of course, these Ukrainians “don’t want to be ‘brothers;’ they want again to become masters of unthinking Little Russia slaves.” Putin has shown he doesn’t want an agreement with Ukraine: he wants surrender. And to that end, the Kremlin leader has added one condition after another for those Ukrainians who want to do so to have to meet.

            “If Zelensky or Shevchenko were honest with themselves or even with their own voters,” Portnikov concludes, “they would tell them the truth: the war can be ended” in the way they propose – “stop shooting” – but only if Ukrainians are prepared “to live on their knees and not get up.”

            And it is against that prospect that “real Ukrainian citizens are protesting, citizens who never want to be anyone’s ‘servants.’”

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