Why Western media should take it easy with their ‘democracy’ talk when discussing Russia and Ukraine

Democracy! (Green), 2011

Democracy! (Green), 2011

Why the word ‘democracy’ makes me sick

I’ve been keeping silent about the events in Ukraine for a very long time. First of all, I am not Ukrainian and I am not really familiar with the political landscape in the country. At first, I was very inspired by the protest movement and the fact that people have finally decided to stand up and fight back against the corrupt regime.

I’ve read a lot of Russian and Western articles about the events and I am sick and tired of the one sided-coverage from both sides.

NYbooks has posted a lengthy article heavy on democracy and human rights rhetoric. Something just clicked in my brain and I could no longer ignore all the ‘demonization’ talk in the Western media. How are you guys any better than pro-Putin’s propaganda? Why even the most reputable publications such as The New York Post and The Washington Post act like some cheap daily tabloid that is given away for free on the subway?

Lets’ have a look at the mentioned article:

“The course of the protest has very much been influenced by the presence of a rival project, based in Moscow, called the Eurasian Union. This is an international commercial and political union that does not yet exist but that is to come into being in January 2015. The Eurasian Union, unlike the European Union, is not based on the principles of the equality and democracy of member states, the rule of law, or human rights.

On the contrary, it is a hierarchical organization, which by its nature seems unlikely to admit any members that are democracies with the rule of law and human rights. Any democracy within the Eurasian Union would pose a threat to Putin’s rule in Russia. Putin wants Ukraine in his Eurasian Union, which means that Ukraine must be authoritarian, which means that the Maidan must be crushed.”

What are these claims based on? How do you know what Putin wants and what he doesn’t want? The article doesn’t give any link to the source of such claims. And besides, what you’re saying is that all the countries that might join the union are non-democratic. How so?  I bet their constitutions say otherwise. What if Georgia joins the club? Would you call it undemocratic as well?

As far as I can see, European Union with its proclaimed democratic values and human rights isn’t doing that great these days. It is failing economically and let’s not even start talking about human rights violations within the EU, but for some reason no one really talks about it. It is way more fun to pick on Russia and point out the oppressive nature of the regime. Did you guys forget about the state of non-free media in Italy or problems with immigrants in London? Oh, right, the difference is that the EU is democratic despite everything and Russia is some barbaric state that needs to know its place.

I particularly like this passage: “not based on the principles of the equality and democracy of member states, the rule of law, or human rights”. Are you guys serious? Do you still think that European Union is operating solely based on the rule of law and human rights? Please, give me a break! What about the widespread practice of unpaid internships in the EU that literally makes slavery legal? What about the abuse of Roma population across various EU countries, including Hungary? What about prostitution and other issues? Or just because it is the EU and not Russia we’re used to think that things are much better there. Well, here is a news flash for you: things are exactly the same everywhere. There is no true democracy anywhere in the world. Politicians use these words to cover their lies. Was the war in Iraq democratic or liberating? Is American partnership with Saudi Arabia based on true democratic values?

The article goes on:

“Naturally, it is important to be attentive to the far right in Ukrainian politics and history. It is still a serious presence today, although less important than the far right in France, Austria, or the Netherlands. Yet it is the Ukrainian regime rather than its opponents that resorts to anti-Semitism, instructing its riot police that the opposition is led by Jews. In other words, the Ukrainian government is telling itself that its opponents are Jews and us that its opponents are Nazis.”

Hmm, where is this coming from? Where did you get this information from? Who said anything about the Jews? And besides, why is European far right less alarming than Ukrainian or Russian far right? I remember living in Hungary and reading some news about Hungarian far right party attacking Roma villages around Budapest. How is that any better?

I can go on, but I guess I should just stop. I’m just tired of propaganda on both fronts and I am feeling disappointed in modern journalistic practices. I believe we should be very careful with the sacred ‘D’ word, otherwise it simply loses ts power.