Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 18.10.2018
Ukraine never experienced mass-casualty terrorist acts before the Russian Federation invaded parts of it in 2014. In the first year of Putin’s War against the Ukrainian nation, the Russians shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Russian-occupied Donbas. In the fifth year of Putin’s War against the Ukrainian nation, a mass murder shooting and bombing took place in Russian-occupied Crimea.
An attack occurred at a college in Kerch, Crimea in Russian-occupied Ukraine on Wednesday, October 17. According to early unconfirmed reports, 19 people were killed and over 30 were injured when a fourth-year student at the college set off explosions and shot people with firearms. The presumed attacker shot and killed himself.
The senseless loss of lives and needless suffering shocks moral conscience. One can only commiserate with the victims and their families, and express solidarity with the people of Kerch, of Crimea, and of Ukraine.
Kerch is in Crimea, which is an integral part of Ukraine. But Crimea was invaded and occupied by the Russian Federation in February-March 2014. Although completely illegal under international law and illegitimate in the eyes of the whole civilized world, the Russian Federation is the de facto ruling power in Crimea. Muscovy is completely responsible for the safety and well-being of Ukrainian citizens who are captive residents in Crimea. It completely fails to meet those responsibilities.
Refat Chubarov is the head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People. He is living in free Ukraine now, after he spent some time as a hostage of the Putin regime in Crimea. He blames the invader-occupiers from Muscovy for what happened: “On behalf of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, I express my condolences to the families and friends of those killed and injured in the tragedy that occurred in the Polytechnic College of Kerch, temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation. The blame and responsibility for the consequences of the tragedy are fully and entirely placed on the Russian occupation authorities and the authorities of the Russian Federation, the state that occupied the Crimea.”
The President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, expressed his condolences and announced that prosecutors of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (the legitimate authority on the Crimean peninsula) had opened a criminal proceeding concerning the murders. “Investigation of this case is important for Ukraine, because Crimea is Ukrainian territory and Ukrainians living on the peninsula are citizens of our country. When Ukrainian citizens perish, wherever it happens, it is a tragedy. I wish to express sympathy to Ukrainians who have lost children and loved ones,” wrote President Poroshenko on social media.
The earliest reports from Kerch were about an explosion. At first a detonation of stored gas cylinders was talked about, but Russian propaganda outlets quickly began to bandy about the term “terrorism.” The so-called chairman of the legislature in Crimea, a United Russia party member named Vladimir Konstantinov, blamed Ukraine in an interview he gave to Russian propaganda TV. He gave no evidence. Vladimir Konstantinov is on the lists of sanctioned individuals of the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia, Japan, Norway, and other countries because he constitutes a grave risk to international peace and security and because he is complicit in the Russian Federation’s invasion and partial occupation of Ukraine.
On the Kremlin propaganda channel “Rossiya 24,” panelists put the blame on subversive groups from Ukraine for the explosion and shooting in Kerch. Without waiting for any facts, investigation, or official announcements they pointed to enemies beforehand. The enemies they picked out, as always, were Ukrainians. Well into the fifth year of Putin’s War, Russian information warfare holds up Ukraine as its primary target for vitriol and malice.
Russian information warriors were not quick enough, though, to concoct a believable story blaming Ukraine. Reports soon came in that the violent incident in Kerch was an act of mass murder by a fourth-year student at the college, who was found dead on the second floor of the building in the library – a suspected suicide. Examination of his online presence revealed a young man who was obsessed with the crypto-fascism of the ‘Novorissiya’ project: a construct invented by the Putin regime to give cover to the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine and attempts to annex its territory.
The alleged shooter/bomber was 13 or 14 years old when the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine and occupied Crimea and part of Donbas. Over the past four and three-quarter years he has been exposed to non-stop Kremlin hate propaganda, which is mostly against Ukrainians. As happens to some impressionable young men, he was radicalized to extremism and violence – in his case by the state-sponsored terrorism of the Putin regime.
It was different four and a half years ago, when natural patriotism for Ukraine was still allowed to be expressed in Crimea. During the “Anschluss,” young people in Crimea sang the Ukrainian national anthem in defiance at the invader-occupiers from Muscovy. Today, young people in Crimea are stripped of their identity as Ukrainian citizens but treated only as second-rate to Muscovites with the Russian Federation citizenship that has been forced upon them. All Ukrainians in Crimea – for the residents of Crimea are Ukrainians – are bombarded with anti-Ukrainian hate propaganda from Kremlin information warfare outlets. Hitler Youth-type organizations give paramilitary training, with weapons, to the captive population of Crimea and attempt to install in them the imperialist spirit of ‘Novorossiya’ and of ‘Rooskyi Mir.’ The natural connection with the rest of Ukraine has been violently severed by the foreign invaders, including electronic jamming of radio and television like in the times of the Soviet Russian occupation of Ukraine.
The murdered and injured young people in Kerch, their family and friends – they are Ukrainian citizens, living on sovereign Ukrainian territory. They are forced to live under a brutal occupation regime which grossly abuses their human rights. The Russian occupation authorities are neither able nor willing to guarantee their safety. Muscovy fails in its responsibilities under international law as the de facto occupying power in this part of Ukraine. Mass murder in Russian-occupied Crimea is a consequence of the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine.