Mokrushyna analyzes “public awareness” videos currently circulating in the Ukrainian public media space by its producers, TABASCO, a leading advertising agency in Ukraine and Limelite Studio, one of the country’s leading film production company.
These “public awareness” videos are not about history. The author of the news article from which I first learned about the videos is correct: those who produced them were advised not by historians but by specialists “on how to influence mass consciousness”. When one looks on the websites of the two Ukrainian companies which produced the videos, the first thing that catches the eye is that both have worked almost exclusively with Western partners. In both companies, the majority of workers are young and Russian-speaking Ukrainians. Both websites are in Russian and English only – no Ukrainian.
These are professionals working with Western partners. They have learned how to appeal to the public, how to sell a message to an audience by enveloping it in an aesthetically appealing form. But their message is based on half-truths, which makes it all the more appealing. These young Russian-speaking Ukrainians grew up in independent Ukraine and were taught a nationalist, Ukrainian version of history. Most probably, they genuinely believe what they were taught. They believe that a civil war, provoked by the Euromaidan regime in Kyiv, has a symbolic continuity with the Great Patriotic War which their ancestors won 70 years ago.
Why do they believe this? Well, because almost all of Ukrainian media are saying that Ukraine is fighting a war with Russia, against ‘Putler’s Rashists’ (‘Putler’ as in Putin+Hitler). Somehow, simple logic does not enter in their minds: if Russia truly invaded Donbas or anywhere else in Ukraine, such a war would be over in a matter of days. But I digress. I do not wish to go over all of these arguments about Russia’s supposed invasion of Ukraine again. This is not the point of this article.
My point is the usage of the symbolism of the Great Patriotic War, which is now playing a fundamental role in the civil war in Ukraine. Pro-Europe Ukraine tries to transform the Soviet victory in the Great Patriotic War, which is one of the foundations of Russian and Eastern-Ukrainian identity, into a universal, pan-European tragedy, in which Ukrainians triumphed over the Nazis. A short text, accompanying the two videos on YouTube, presents all Ukrainians as fighters against fascists. The irreconcilable, ideological differences between the descendants of Soviet Ukrainians, on the one hand, and those of the virulently anti-Soviet, collaborationist Ukrainians of the OUN-UPA, on the other, are glossed over in an overtly mendacious statement that all of them contributed to the great victory. The collaborationism of the OUN-UPA with Nazi Germany is a well-known historical fact; I will not dwell on it. Here are compelling statistics cited in the above-mentioned text: there were seven million(!) Ukrainians who fought in the Soviet Army and only 100,000 who fought in the OUN. That says it all about the contribution of each part of Ukraine to victory in WWII.