By Felix Abt
Covert Action Magazine
There are two Volodymyr Zelenskys: the one we have known since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, who has since been celebrated every day in the Western media as a hero with a spotless white (or green) vest; the other, who was less well-known prior to this significant escalation of the war, which, according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, began in 2014. (Here are details on the actual start of this war in 2014).
After all, prominent British, German and other European media already referred to the “Panama” or ”Pandora Papers” to describe the “former” Zelensky, who was not yet the illustrious governor of the American empire, as being highly corrupt. His hero status may abruptly end though, if and when Washington decides that he is no longer useful (e.g., when war results do not meet expectations despite massive NATO support and involvement) and the media start digging for dirt on him again. Wanna bet?
What the same media bubble fails to mention, however, is that Zelensky was elected to office with a large majority of the votes, with massive financial support from the richest Ukrainian oligarch at the time (who had stolen huge sums of money and was therefore banned from entering the United States) and with the promise of bringing peace to the Donbas. It may surprise you—but he actually tried.
Zelensky’s original peace mission
His plan probably also had to do with the fact that he, the president of Jewish faith and Russian mother tongue, himself belonged to the minority. He learned fluent Ukrainian only late, when it became politically unavoidable for him.
Long before he became president, he had campaigned as a comedian against discrimination of the Russian-speaking minority. For example, in a 2014 television appearance, he declared, “In the east and in Crimea, people want to speak Russian. Leave them alone, just leave them alone. Give them the right to speak Russian. Language should never divide our country….We have the same skin color, the same blood, regardless of language.” When he took the highest office in the country, he tried to implement his election promise.
However, this was a Herculean task in view of the very strong ultra-nationalist forces and the “fascists who overran the country”” (according to the Jerusalem Post) who opposed his peace mission. The influence of these circles was (and is) so great that, from schoolchildren to senior citizens, all western Ukrainians were processed to hate Ukrainian citizens of Russian descent and to believe that it is good to slaughter them. Even in schools, students were goaded by their teachers to use slogans like these against Russian-speaking Ukrainians: “Hang the Muscovites,” “Put the Russians on the pyre,” and “Drink the blood of Russian babies!”
Peaceful co-existence instead of final victory
Zelensky could only have achieved peaceful co-existence between western and eastern Ukraine if he had been permitted to negotiate as he originally desired with Russia and with representatives of the largely Russian-speaking Donbas. He also needed the backing of his supporters in Washington because the radicals leading the fighting in eastern Ukraine threatened him and said they would only accept a “final victory” over the Donbas.
But they did not want him to negotiate with Russia—and thus strengthened the position of the extremists. The western Ukrainian ultra-nationalists and Banderists even told Zelensky that he would sign his own death warrant if he talked to Putin, so the only result in the end was war. We currently experience that in Ukraine, and there is no end in sight.
In addition to the threat to his life, Zelensky faced direct obstacles to his peace mandate on several fronts
Zelensky was met by irate members of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion who protested under the banner “No to surrender” when he traveled to the Donbas in October 2019 to campaign in Russian-speaking rebel-held areas. Zelensky argued with a soldier from the Azov Battalion about the president’s demand for a troop withdrawal in a videotaped exchange. “I am the president of this country. I am 41 years old. I am not a loser. I came to you and told you: withdraw your weapons,” Zelensky pleaded.
Despite his personal appearance on the ground, Zelensky encountered even further resistance: The same far-right forces set up an armed checkpoint to prevent or at least delay a withdrawal of the Ukrainian military. Thousands of far-right and nationalist demonstrators, cheered by the liberal intelligentsia and carrying flares, also marched in Kyiv.
Suffering in Donbas acknowledged by Zelensky, censored by Western media
Katharine Quinn-Judge of the International Crisis Group explained that Zelensky’s ex-press secretary, Yulia Mendel, acknowledged the suffering in the Donbas because “Zelensky had promised during the election campaign to treat the residents of the Russian-backed enclaves as full Ukrainians”—a misstep for the U.S.-favored far-right nationalists, who oppose equal rights for all Ukrainians.
Yet journalists in European countries are intimidated and prevented from reporting on Ukrainian terror and suffering in the Donbass by being defamed, losing their jobs, and even threatened with imprisonment. This explains why Europeans are generally unaware of the years of violence that the Ukrainian military and neo-fascist groups have inflicted on the population in the Donbas.
Moreover, the political and media elites in the West do not care that dissent and freedom of the press are suppressed in Ukraine. The few independent journalists who dare to report on the situation in the Donbas, where the Russian-speaking majority has been targeted by Ukrainian forces since 2014, bother them all the more.
After German journalist Patrik Baab dared to report from the Donbas, German universities and media accused him of ”legitimizing Putin’s war of aggression with his mere presence.” As a result, he lost his job as a lecturer at the University for Media, Communication and Economics in Berlin.
Now, why do we never hear of these ‘facts’ in the main media?
Or is there a chance, that all these ‘facts’ may be dished out again soon?
All this information about Zelensky was widely reported when he was first elected. I recall reading it. With the current US war against Russia, it’s being heavily censored. Censorship in the US and the Five Eye countries it controls (UK, NZ, Australia and Canada) is very heavy during US wartime operations, which are pretty much continuous now. The US is always at war somewhere.