Summary of Week III of the Mean War: March 10 – March 16, 2022
This article is a part of an Urgent Appeal for Ukraine by the Rogatchi Foundation.
MIGHTY PARIAH AND DIGNIFIED VICTIM
Inna Rogatchi ©. The End of Humanity. 2022.
Can anyone get used to war? If one can, there is something wrong with that person. After three weeks of the cruel, unprovoked chain of military crimes and crimes against humanity committed daily in the centre of Europe, all transmitted to us in real-time, one of the conclusions of this ongoing force-major is that a normal human being just cannot get used to it. The first three weeks of the Mean War as this war is going to be written in history books, resulted in over three million refugees from attacked Ukraine, with the capacity of bordering countries doing their best in accommodating the victims of the war rapidly coming to the edge, especially in Poland. The other extremely worrisome standing-by issue is the extreme vulnerability of the nuclear stations in Ukraine, two of them already under the control of the aggressor, with daily critical situations there. This is the issue for all of us in Europe, at the very least. Just yesterday, Ukrainian MP Sergey Vlasenko speaking from Kyiv, very convincingly, was appealing to the world for an emergency introducing the safe corridors from the skies over the nuclear installations in Ukraine and also over the agreed humanitarian corridors. Legislators in Kyiv, the Ukraine government see what is going on internationally as the response to Russia’s aggression. They realised by now that there will be no closure of skies ( as it had had the place in former Yugoslavia and in the Middle East recently enough). They appeal to the world now bringing on the table option two for general, not just Ukrainian, security: closure of the skies over the nuclear installations and the agreed humanitarian corridors. They demonstrate understanding, the real application of the known formula qualifying politics as ‘an art of possible’, being in an extremely difficult situation. And us, the world outside the zone of the terrible war in the centre of Europe?
What we all see after the three weeks of the Mean War is a mighty pariah and dignified victim. It is a dramatic confrontation. It is an unnecessary confrontation as this war was completely unnecessary and as it is completely unjustifiable and unjust. The degree of cruelty and inhumanity that Russia decided to demonstrate to the world is stunning. And it will mark the history of that country forever.
Day 21: March 16, 2022
ECOCIDE a la Russe
Inna Rogatchi ©. Clouded Landscape. 2022.
There is a document that surfaced from the heights of Russia’s power. It is a request from the defence minister to the president. The document has a registering number and the date, March 4th, 2022. The request concerns forest. The forest at the territory which the minister calls ‘the territory of defence’. The minister faced a problem. He writes to his boss that the Russian Federation has no legal procedures regulating ‘usage of forest in the interests of defence’. Therefore, the minister requests from the country’s supreme commander-in-chief the following: “I ask you to issue the permission for both total and selective deforestation of any intensity and of any age, regardless of the land plots’ ownership and regardless of the category of land in question”. This document tells in black on white that the Russian army is planning, and possibly already in the process of total deforestation of Ukraine. The defence minister wrote in his request to the boss that the unused wood would be sold for the money to be used by the army. Naturally. He also explains that going by the book, the process of authorised selective deforestation takes 10 months. And they are in a hurry, of course. There is also a nice autograph, for those collecting, of the boss over the document. It reads ‘Soglasen’ ( agree), with expressive, well-practised signature and the date, not so well practised, and showing something of not that brilliant student. The date is March 6, 2022. People asking questions: why was the Russian minister of defence in the middle of such an extremely busy total military assault preoccupied with Ukrainian forest? The answer is to be found in recent comments of the ongoing ‘special operation’ by senior Russian officials. A few days ago, some of them expressed the concerns that ‘although we all are hoping for a quick resolution of the hot phase of the current situation, we have to realise that the potential of the other side ( Ukraine) for a low-key resistance is quite high, and it could be quite prolonged’. ‘Low-key resistance’ means anti-Russian resistance of both military and population both in the cities and in the forest. We are seeing what they are doing with Ukrainian cities. They are shelling them to the ground. And now, the document resurfaced from Moscow, tells us what will happen with the forest in Ukraine. And why. If they would be allowed to do it, the damage to nature and the change of the climate in Ukraine will be of a catastrophic proportion. It is called ecocide.
Day 20: March 15, 2022
Inna Rogatchi ©. Asphyxiation. War Pictures. 2022.
We are seeing it in front of us daily. For the twenty days by now. Beautiful, full of life, cities of Ukraine, one after another are not only bombed, shelled, destroyed but also sieged. The self-proclaimed ‘liberators’ methodically apply the same tactics as attacking Ukrainian densely populated large cities: they cut off gas, heating, electricity, water supplies, communications, and intentionally impose food and medicine shortages on the places of living of hundreds of thousands of human beings. The key word here is ‘intentionally’. Another day, I saw a video from another Russian state TV repulsive talk show. It is repulsive in general and always, but now it is repulsive thrice so. My dear friend, an international guru in the history of music, sent it to me, shocked by what he saw there. I was not shocked for a bit, but it was very telling indeed. There, a well-known pianist from Russia Boris Berezovsky, who performs largely internationally, and who lived in London permanently for two decades, stays next to the Russian senior military in full uniform, and gently suggesting, with brotherly referring to their professional skills against his pure amateurish understanding due to his humanitarian occupation, to conduct the siege of Kyiv more decisively: to cut the city off completely, to cut off all their vital communications there so the Kyiv civilian population ‘would live the city on their own. Can it be done? It should ‘ – Moscow virtuoso is suggesting softly with his face beaming of self-appreciation, to the senior military officer next to him. The officer, after a telling pause, turns toward the fat formless pianist with a rather stoned face, saying: “But-we-can-not-make-a-human-catastrophe-by-our-own-hands- there”. The mug of the pianist did not show anything, anything at all except continuing fixated self-adulation.
The pictures from Mariupol, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Sumy, many other cities of Ukraine were the aggressor not only bombed to the ground but also besieged, are terrifying us daily. It continues. It is totally, completely, premeditatedly inhuman. For the country which has the siege of Leningrad as a part of its recent history is unpardonable under any circumstances. My maternal great-uncle, legendary doctor Falk Moiseevich Chigrinsky, led the children’s hospital in Leningrad for tuberculosis children. He, like all his family, was from Ukraine, from the city known now as Dnipro. With the siege of Leningrad worsening, he and his doctor wife Nina moved with all heavily ill children to Zelenogorsk in the Leningrad suburb. Saving the ill children, they were unable to evacuate their own only son Pasha, my uncle. Pasha, 6 years old at the time, was taken by a sheer miracle to the literally last transport evacuating people from besieged Leningrad. He did not see his parents well until the end of the war. As it happened, he saw only his mother then. His parents, my great-uncle and his wife were saving the sick of tuberculosis children heroically, giving them their own scarce food, and conducting daily exploits with efforts to obtain medicine for them, and some kind of vitamins, as collecting birch liquid in the forest for the children at expense of their scarce sleep. They saved all of the children. But Falk Chigrinsky, the heroic head of the Leningrad children tuberculous hospital, died at the age of 51, of a heart attack on the evening of May 9th, 1945, in St Petersburg, during the victory firework. So I thought all my life. Until a couple of months ago when I’ve learned from my cousin who lives in Australia, and whose entire family is from Odessa, that the death of our heroic doctor Falk from a heart attack in an emotional outburst at the end of the Second World War, was ‘the most guarded secret in our family, according to my cousin. In fact, her mom who is the favourite niece of my late grandmother, who is alive and with whom I have a blessing to speak, did share with my cousin and me this so tightly kept secret. “ Yes, indeed, our Falk died on the evening of May 9th, 1945. Yes, it happened during the victory fireworks in Leningrad. But it was not a heart attack. He was attacked from behind by one of the adult patients of the hospital, with a huge wooden log. The patient just smashed and crushed Falk’s skull with a terrible blow”, my aunt tells me from Australia, sighing. The patient was declared crazy on the spot. There was no investigation ever. “It was impossible to tarnish the reputation of the hospital, especially at the sacred moment of the victory”, the family was told. I am speechless. Cannot come to terms with that still. All the years after that awful payment for all Falk and Nina’s sacrifices and saving of all sick children saved from the besieged Leningrad, my family who knew – my great-grandfather, his wife, many of their siblings, all of them from Ukraine, my grandmother, her sister, my grandfather, my mom, my dad, all adults in our family, lived all their difficult enough lives with that awful knowledge about murdering of their pride, their beloved Falk, the great doctor and humanist Falk Chigrinsky on the night of the victory day, May 9, 1945, in Leningrad, from behind, smashing the heroic doctor’s skull. I do not know how much time it will take for me to absorb it to some degree. So far, I have failed repeatedly.
And a couple of more thoughts on the theme of besieged cities. The Siege of Leningrad, which is customary in Russia to write as the Siege, with a capital S, the unspeakable tragedy of that in so many details, should teach people and society a couple of things regarding compassion and humanity, shouldn’t it? Why did it not happen? – many people are asking themselves today, justly so. There are many reasons for that. Just a few observations, some of them of a personal experience: the museum in Leningrad has collected an incredible, priceless archive about the period of Siege immediately after the war. At least two times after that, that priceless archive was destroyed, with many unique documents, evidence, and artefacts simply thrown away. The barbarians of the Soviet authorities always terrified me. I always knew that such policy, cruel, shortsighted, and inhuman policy will have terrible consequences. Now we are seeing it, partially.
I also was very concerned about the way in which the idea about the much needed new Museum of the Siege of Leningrad was implemented in recent years in St Petersburg. In fact, the authorities have aborted the idea which was supported by the St Petersburg population overwhelmingly. Aborted. They decided that there is no need for such a museum today. No need. It is telling, isn’t it? More than we would like to know, actually.
And one more recent observation with regard to the Siege of Leningrad, from the ground. As it is known, Russia’s boss is propagating emphatically his personal connection to the tragedy of the Siege. It is a sacred matter. More sacred than it is sacred for anyone mortal, in their interpretation. So, this year, a couple of months ago, on the day of the ending of the Siege of Leningrad, the boss went to commemorate the date to St Petersburg personally. Fair enough. There he is marching alone with his heavy security detail around, all the way in the memorial Piskarev cemetery, a very sober place for many. The next day, we got the information and the photos of the picture which was not shown by the Russian official media. As it happened, the day of the ending of the Siege of Leningrad is a sacred day for many people there, especially of the elder generations. They also came to the Piskarev memorial with their flowers in hand. It was very cold on that day in St Petersburg, in the middle of January. All those people, many of them elderly and frail, were kept by a heavy guard, behind the cemetery gate – for hours in the freezing cold. Until the boss would not march conducting his own personal commemoration alone, by himself exclusively. The only person grieving the Siege of his city. Just one more telling detail about the matter of sieges.
As we speak, the priceless historical archives located in the city of Kharkiv have been burned to ashes completely, in vandalism which prompted many international historians to lament ‘a total disaster for the historical research and its outcome’ for good.
The essence of a siege is that it is not just cut off, suffocates, annihilates. It brings insuperable losses. It changes history. It inflicts qualitative changes at many levels simultaneously: life directly, nutrition, medical and water-deficiency suffering, freezing, moral humiliation, dehumanisation. First and foremost, dehumanisation – as a big specialist and enthusiast of a siege application Boris Berezovsky who for some reason occupies himself with piano rendering, knows even better than some of the senior Russian military. What do they think the world would take them for, after ongoing sieges of the Ukrainian cities? We will take them strictly following their own implications: as repulsive sadists who know how to torture pianos, as well.
Day 19: March 14, 2022
Mass grave for civilians murdered in Mariupol. March 2022.
Inna Rogatchi ©. Grey Field I. 2021.
Total horror produced this and similar pictures depicting mass graves in Ukraine, one more terrible phenomenon of this mean war. In Mariupol alone, about 1600 civilians were murdered in merciless shelling. Under the two-weeks siege, without electricity, water, food, heating, there is no other possibility to bury the murdered civilians than the one shown in this picture. There are also grim videos of the process.
In the city of Mykolaiv, the corpses are in such a quantity that there is no space for them in the local morgue ( and Mykolaiv is not a small city) and the piles of corpses are laying in the morgue’s yard and around it, for days.
And the situation in Mykolaiv, a big industrial city with over 1 million population there has become endangered severely from today on, in a scenario resembling the tragedy of Mariupol.
XXI century. Centre of Europe. The 45-million country under the severe undiscriminating annihilating attack of 145-million country is left alone, to bury hundreds of its civilians in mass graves.
Day 18: March 13, 2022
The GENOCIDE OF CULTURE
Inna Rogatchi ©. Ruined Cultural Heritage of Ukraine. March 2022. Poster.
We are living through the 18th day of the mean war against Ukraine. 44 million people, 41, 5 now after 2, 5 million refugees left, are living through it literally. Many of us who are watching it in despair and anger, passively. But as passive smoking damages one’s lungs, passive observation of mean war damages one’s soul for those who are not indifferent. Elisha Wiesel, the son of Elie Wiesel, has noticed recently that he is terrified to think of what his father would think and tell about this ongoing slaughter. People working with Rabbi Sacks are saying the same. I think I know what both our dearest friends and role-model figures for decades, great Elie and great Rabbi Jonathan would say. They, in general very warm and kind men, would be stern. When humanity is attacked, the towering humanitarians are becoming the soldiers of civilization.
During the eighteen days of the mean war, the aggressor has destroyed so many objects of Ukraine’s cultural heritage that this purposeful shelling can be qualified as the genocide of culture. In dominantly Russian speaking Kharkiv, is the second-largest city in Ukraine, beautiful, well developed and rich with cultural and architectural gems, not of Ukraine only, but of a European calibre, university, libraries, museums, and culturally important buildings are totally destroyed. In Chernigiv, an ancient, important cultural city with very rich history, and also quite Russian-speaking, the Museum of Antiquities, which is absolutely important, has been raised to the ground. 25 paintings of Ukrainian well-known artist Primaichenko stored in the historical museum near Kyiv have been burned, simply. Historical buildings, many beautifully restored, in all attacked cities of Ukraine, have been destroyed completely. Such ‘military objects’, by the Russian army standards, like museums, libraries, schools, universities, cinemas, are not anymore altogether in all attacked cities. People in Odesa, the pearl of Ukraine, are working hard and frantically trying to protect their world-famous statues. The same as people in Lviv are doing with their superbly rich historical-cultural heritage important for Europe and the world. Many of the destroyed buildings were cultural objects protected by UNESCO. Hello, UNESCO. There are at least several churches, of the same denomination that prevails in Russia, Orthodox, have been attacked and destroyed. Another visibly ‘military targets’ by the views of the Russian army. The attacked part of Ukraine is nothing more than rubble. The architectural damage is total. The conduct of this war is barbarian, literally so. What is the aggressor aiming to achieve in this cultural genocide? It is conducted in the neighbouring country, with many people speaking the same language, with many other people speaking close Slavonic language. It is conducted in a country with long Slavonic tradition and heritage which was – until now – the part of Slavonic history and culture. Not anymore. Forever. But those criminals who are giving such orders and those morons who fulfil them, are seemingly willing to ignore them. They are knowingly obliterating both the material culture of their neighbour Ukraine and its cultural heritage. This is intentional cultural genocide.
Day 17: March 12, 2022
Inna Rogatchi ©. Challenge I. 2021.
During military conflicts, the value of correct information is a top priority. During the mean, unprovoked wars, cruel premeditated aggressions objectivity is vital. But it would be never understood by those for whom lying is natural. There are many kinds of lies, many of which are used during wars: strategic, tactical, smaller or bigger, lie for outmanoeuvring an enemy, lie for boosting spirit. Operational lies, intelligence lies. And a queen of lies, propaganda. There is not without reason that the first draconian measures against freedom of speech in the country-aggressor were taken immediately and against the media. It worked, to a large extent. For analysts, it is important to always see the news and coverage of a conflict by both sides. Well, it has to be said that it gets progressively impossible to read the Russian media, except literally a couple of those who try to preserve dignity. Even supposed to be neutral ones with a previous bearable reputation, are lying stunningly. Balck is white, and white is black. No other options. They do not even realise how utterly stupid they now look, in this doomed exercise, because the whole world is able to see satellite pictures. I am not that naive to speak about shame. This category is not in use in this mean war. Not by the decision-makers, nor by the legislators, and certainly not by the 99% of their officially accepted media. Shame is a luxury for all those individuals, their organisations, and their outlets. Compassion is another luxury. Mercy is luxury. Decency is a luxury for the officialdom of the aggressor. We all are witnessing it, we all are realising it. How utterly stupid one should be for not realising that the world sees the unfolding mean war projected not by their manipulated media, but by satellite pictures that relay to us what is going on in real-time. To live in a bubble is comfy, possibly, but how defective it is.
When I grew up in the country called USSR, the first awakening came to me when I was a teenager. And I remember that very moment all my life. Nobody taught me that, nobody told me anything specific, or anything at all. I have not read any forbidden literature yet, although a close friend of my mom was producing ‘samizdat’ tirelessly, and soon I will join her by typing Mandelstam and other forbidden writers on my mom’s typewriter, her most precious possession. Our other precious possession for all the family were books. That’s it. I have not heard much of the BBC and Voice of America transmissions yet, although my parents, especially my father, were clinging to the jammed transmissions in our old radio often. But he did it usually in the night, on purpose. I took Soviet history textbooks in school with a good pinch of scepticism, as some of my school-mates did, simply because of conventional wisdom. But one afternoon, I remember it absolutely vividly so many decades later now, I stopped in the middle of my homework, and started to think: “But it is a lie what is written here, in this textbook”. And then, on the spot, many samples of outright lies started to pop up in my teenage head: the lies printed in the newspapers, transmitted via radio and tv, the lies which were so obvious even to a teenager in a sharpest possible contrast between the realities of life and stupid aggressive propaganda we all were wrapped into day and night, years on. In a paradoxical way, as it happens often, that blatant propaganda did open my, and so many other eyes, to the injustices of the totalitarian system. The system which we started to doubt first and to despise next.
And now, after 31 years of post-totalitarian Russia, I cannot see the official media of that country again. Its outright lies are not just shameless. It is despicable. They are building the new Iron Wall around their country again, by themselves and enthusiastically so. Following their choice, let them have it. And stay behind it.
Day 16: March 11, 2022
The SPECIAL FORCE OF SHABBAT AND THE PARADOX OF CONVICTION
Inna Rogatchi ©. Expectation I. 2022.
I woke up this night, not at my usual time. I woke in subconscious self-defence, not willing to continue to watch my dream. In the dream, some strangers, mid-aged men, were working quite clumsily, trying to fix something in their own way, destroying in the process a big old good tree. The tree meant nothing to them, and they were genuinely surprised by my husband’s and my negative reaction and did not understand what we were complaining about. But the damage was done. The half of the tree was gone, being chopped by those people whom nobody invited to that work, in the first place. I woke up knowing that something was wrong at the place of the ongoing war. I glanced at the clock. It did show 5.40 am. Two hours later, I learned that my native city was bombed at 5.26 am.
So you woke up to learn that the city where you have been born was bombed. The city where you grew up, where your family lived in generations. The city where you went to a school, to the university. Where you have been formed. The place where the circle of your family’s friends and your first friends are from. So your personal landscape of memory gets bombed as well.
I know that many people in the world have experienced it, sadly, dramatically and tragically, because of different circumstances. I am a historian who deals with the Second World War, Holocaust and post-Holocaust for over thirty years. I am a foreign policy adviser who is professionally busy with modern history and conflict resolutions for several decades, as well. To be able to work on these topics, one has to build an inside protection wall, and we all are doing it in our individual way, but all my colleagues would recognise what I am talking about.
Still, when it comes to witnessing, even from a distance, a bombing of the cradle of one’s life, these walls crumble in no time. I do not wish to experience anything like that with anyone.
And in a surprising move, the conviction of an ultimate victory over this evil, this modern-day Amalek, has become my dominating feeling on the day of the bombing of the city of my family. When it comes to the worst, the best is born inside adequate people. For two weeks, I was anxious, nervous, perplexed, often unable to comprehend this mean war. Out of all adjectives, I do believe that first and foremost of it, it is mean. After two weeks of daily crimes we all are witnessing, on the morning of the bombing of my city, I have become calm, collected and determined. I know by all my innermost that the light will prevail this darkness. That goodwill beat this evil. That attacked ones and us all who are supporting them will win the stupid, unable bandits who destroy life with no reason. I am positive about an ultimate victory over these forces of darkness. Russia will get its Versaille, as Germany did a century ago.
I cannot agree more with President Zelensky who spoke about the same thing at the beginning of the war that shocked the world. We all were not quite getting where his defiance was coming from with his country being in such a disadvantageous military position. I saw that he was sincere and meant what he was saying. He has had too little time in politics to pretend so blatantly. But I did not get the source of his defiance. Now I know. And I am proud of this 44-year old Jewish man who found himself as the leader of the 45-million country under brutal massive attack, and who found in himself the best of our people. I am grateful to all the people next to the president of Ukraine who are helping him and who are withstanding the barbarians together and well very indeed. In front of our all eyes, the whole country is fighting and holding bravery and with admirable commitment.
There cannot be more graphic contrast between defenders and aggressors who are really laughable. That so much praised, so much-talked-about ‘super-force’ after two weeks of unbelievably clumsy military exercises had had to reduce themselves to the need of ‘inviting’ ( frantically recruiting, in fact) thousands of war mercenaries from Syria and Central African Republic ( my favourite) to fight in Ukraine for them. I do not remember when I laughed since the beginning of the Mean War. But upon hearing the news about the African and Syrian mercenaries to be urgently dispatched by Moscow to fight Ukrainians, I did. Thank you, geniuses. They so much resemble those ignorant, uneducated, clumsy mid-age men who destroyed half of the wonderful tree in my dream last night. But: my husband in that dream did save half of the tree, threw away those idiots whom nobody asked to come in the first place, and, most importantly, the root of the tree was left undamaged. We’ve checked.
Day 15: March 10, 2022
Entire family murdered near Kyiv. March 2022.
Inna Rogatchi ©. Lullaby in Black and White. 2021.
I am sorry that such a gruesome photo exists, but the fact is that it reflects committed crime. With my life-long experience in journalism, I do believe that there are such moments when publishing the near-extreme images of crucial events is justified.
As the war against Ukraine escalates, cruelty accelerates. To the degree that we are now seeing not a separate case of an unspeakable tragedy of killing an entire family, but the phenomenon, the tendency of it. How about such a ‘trend of special military operation’, in the XXI century? Pictured in the photo was the family from Irpen near Kyiv. They relocated there in 2014 from Donetsk. 43-year old mother Olga, an 18-year old son who has just started his first year at the university, and 8-year old daughter were trying to escape in their car in an effort to join the so-called humanitarian corridor. With them were Olga’s parents, with her mother suffering the Alzheimer. They were assisted by the great man from the church who has returned to Kyiv to help people to be evacuated after sending his own family to safety. He could have stayed there with his family being safe. But he returned. At a certain point in the family’s way, it was impossible to continue to drive. They had to walk. And were all killed by the beasts who were sent with their super-’special operation’ of the wide undiscriminating shooting of civilian targets in a neighbouring country. The father of the family went to care of his mother who got covid and was seriously ill. He went back to Donetsk in mid-February. Then he could not return to his family. He learned about their deaths from social media when he recognised the family’s suitcase on one of the photos posted there. In order to get back to bury his entire family, he actually went to Russia, flew to Kaliningrad which is the Russian territory next to Lithuania, crossed the border with Poland from there and got back to Irpen near Kyiv in the devastating mournful journey which took him four days and nights. After which he still is waiting to get all the necessary papers for the burial of his wife, son and daughter because people who are issuing these papers are overloaded with the necessity of doing it. They are working round o’clock, the morgues are overloaded with the corpses, and around the morgues, the relatives are waiting in patient horror for their turn to get the papers for burial. The husband of Tatyana, Sergey Perebyinis, has been looking at those black bags on the floor with his family inside, for a couple of days already, as I understood.
Two days ago, another family has been murdered in Sumy, also the place where the so-called humanitarian corridor was announced – father, mother, grandmother Pryimenko and three boys, 16-years old Artem, and two of his younger brothers, Egor and Kirill, all were hit in their house.
At the beginning of March, yet another entire family of Fedko was murdered in Kherson while ‘the liberators’ from a normal life were seizing control over the city – a young mother with two children of six years girl and just 6- weeks boy, and both of her parents.
There are countless cases of children murdered along with fathers, mothers, or grandparents when adults were covering their kids by their bodies.
We saw the bombed children’s hospital and maternity hospital in Mariupol yesterday night. Some of us also saw yesterday that lonely small boy in a blue overcoat, not older than five who was moving on the refugee’s road, alone, stumbling, frightened, and sobbing. We are seeing another horror daily. We are registering. We will certainly remember, I do hope. But when will these crimes be stopped? When entire families will stop being murdered, whipped from life and earth, without even a possibility for a proper burial? Just when?