Putin’s Soft Spot

KIEV, Ukraine -- Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a letter to President Viktor Yushchenko just as Putin was being unveiled as Time magazine’s 2007 Person of the Year.

Basking in the glory of international recognition, Putin reminded Yushchenko that the Kremlin is upset with the way Ukraine is treating its common history with Russia.

In the Time magazine interview, Putin foretold Ukraine’s destruction because Washington categorizes Ukraine’s elites as either “pro-American” or “pro-Russian.”

Putin called this a mistake, claiming “all of them have to be Ukrainian nationalists in the positive sense of the term.” “Everything that took place” since the Orange Revolution was in violation of the Constitution, Putin said.

Putin said 17 million Ukrainian citizens are ethnic Russians, when the reality is that 7.8 million, not the 38 percent that he alleged, claim Russian heritage.

Revealing chauvinism, he said “almost 100 percent” of Ukrainians consider Russian their native language. He might as well have declared Ukrainian a dead language.

However, in his letter to Yushchenko, Putin betrayed a significant soft spot in the Kremlin’s quest to keep Ukraine obedient. He left out an issue that the Kremlin has consistently hammered at earlier; namely, referring to the Holodomor as genocide against Ukrainians.

Apparently, Putin preferred not to mention the issue in his letter as one belonging to a “common history.”

Rather than lecturing Ukrainians, Putin might lead Russians by taking Kyiv’s example and declassifying Soviet archives. Russia claims that famine was forced upon its people as well. But how?

The outside world, and more importantly, the Russian people, will not know until the archives are open.

Western policymakers, like Time magazine, should call upon Putin to open up the archives of the Soviet secret police that he served and headed.

This should be a condition of Russia’s G-8 membership. In doing so in 2008, Putin has every chance of retaining his most important person status, and this time, for all the right reasons.

Source: Kyiv Post


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