Let us first turn to an article of News Online with a headline which asks “Is Putin plotting war in Europe?” Is this an example of war propaganda?
Avigdor Eskin: This is a typical example of a publication which has only one purpose – to stir up the warmongering mood in the West. Russian army is strong, its missiles are good and in some aspects Russia outnumbers the West in terms of being prepared for the next war, if such will take place.
One thing is clear – if you take the situation in Europe, in the last 25 years since the fall of the Soviet Union — you don’t see Russia being very aggressive towards any neighbor.
Russia let 15 republics become independent. And Russia did not try to meddle into their internal affairs, and if it did – then it was much less that the US, which is not a neighboring country of any of former USSR republics.
One thing we see is that there is no reason for this type of mood – that something bad will come to the West from Russia.
You just do not see any aggressive moves on the Russian side, you don’t see any aggressive ideology behind it.
While on the contrary, unfortunately, we see that the West and NATO are moving to the East, despite all the agreements made before. The real threat is a temptation of the West to move further and further to the East and at certain point Russia will have to say ‘Stop’.
Maybe Ukraine is the point where people pay very high price there. People get killed there, they starve, suffer tremendously. There are hundreds of thousands of refugees.
This will just make people frightened and unhappy and will prevent Europe from living in peace with Russia. And what is more natural than living in peace with Russia and other Europeans.
NATO has carried out a lot of exercises already, and these are costing a lot aren’t they?
Avigdor Eskin: As they say, there are much more Russian exercises, but there is one difference – there is a war going on the Russian border now, not without certain help from the West, especially the US. There is war situation in certain parts of Ukraine, war that concerns Russia.
There is war going on in such places as Syria and it is much closer to Russian border than to American and Russians are naturally concerned that this fire of war will torch other fields closer and closer to Russia.
The dynamics of aggression is such that this fire can become very dangerous.
Let’s turn to Ukraine banning 38 Russian ‘hate’ books amid culture war. Where has freedom of speech gone in Ukraine?
Avigdor Eskin: My opinion is less important than the opinion of Heinrich Heine who used to say that in the place where books are burned – people will be burned eventually. And he was right.
The place where there are books burning, where there is no freedom of speech – is a real danger.
And instead they ban 38 books in Russian language.
We are talking about books dealing with the research of the Second World War, books about violation of human rights in Ukraine during the Maidan, etc. So, any criticism, any other view on the events in Ukraine becomes illegal there.
You can say anything about Russia, but if you go to any of the major bookstores in Moscow – you will find so many books that are criticizing current Russian government, President Putin is criticized from any possible viewpoint.
Sometimes you can find literature that can even be defined as extremist. Nevertheless – freedom of speech is such that you will find whatever you want in Russia.
And Ukraine started burning books – it is very worrisome sign to me.
Isn’t it symbolic and rather ridiculous and after all we are living in the world with the Internet, where anyone can find whatever he wants?
Avigdor Eskin: It is also ineffective – one can say that this is the way to promote these books in Ukraine. It is so difficult today to introduce any serious censorship and people are fed up with Ukrainian propaganda anyway. But they still believe that by using some draconic methods showing this literature is undesirable they will frighten the people.
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