If you have been living under a rock lately, or you have been too busy following the antics of Justin Bieber or any number of other celebutards whom this country considers news, there are violent protests going on in the Ukraine. The Ukraine is this country that used to be a Soviet Republic way back when the Cold War was news, and someone like Miley Cyrus would be relegated to a non-entity.
It’s also where I was born.
The demonstrators are opposing new laws limiting the right to protest in the Ukraine, and four protesters have died so far in clashes with police since things turned violent Sunday.
The corrupt, oppressive regime of President Viktor Yanukovych has been engaging in a campaign of not just violent suppression, but also misinformation and outright psychological warfare. The largely-peaceful demonstrations escalated into violence after Ukraine outlawed demonstrations, making each protester into a criminal in an effort to suppress dissent about Ukraine’s decision not to pursue closer ties with the European Union after months of Russian bullying. Not only did police try to suppress said dissent via violent means, but a text message sent to demonstrators a couple of days ago makes one’s blood run cold.
Translation: Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.
While it was unsigned, and local phone companies denied sending it, the text message — which echoed language in a new law making it a crime to participate in protests deemed violent — was widely read as a warning from the government.
Although it is unclear exactly what impact the message had on the stalwart protesters standing in the cold, the we-are-watching-you subtext provoked shivers far beyond Ukraine as news of it spread online. The text was quoted again and again on social networks by users outside Ukraine who called it “creepy” and “Orwellian.”
Yep. Orwell’s eyes are bleeding. This is psychological warfare.
And don’t think for a moment that this isn’t an opportunity for the Russians to step in and assert their influence. They were already successful at forcing the largest country in the CIS to essentially give up its EU aspirations and move closer to Moscow. Their very public security concerns involve stability in their region of influence. This would provide a good reason for them to intervene.