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Warning: donít use the Kremlinís loaded lexicon
Lithuania Tribune ^ | April 1, 2014 | Edward Lucas

Posted on 04/02/2014 8:17:58 PM PDT by No One Special

JOURNALISTS like nice simple categories and descriptions. So Ukraine is divided between “Ukrainian-speakers” and “Russian-speakers”. Crimea is “historically Russian” and in the recent “referendum result”, Russia’s “compatriots” on the peninsular gave an “overwhelming majority” for “reunification” with Russia. The “large Russian ethnic minorities” in the Baltic states may have similar sympathies, writes Edward Lucas for the Lithuania Tribune.

Without realising it, many Westerners writing about the grim news of the past few weeks have adopted the Kremlin’s terminology. This skews their reporting, their readers’ understanding, and (quite possibly) the course of future events.

For a start, nobody should accept the idea of “Russian-speaker” as a political label. I am a Russian-speaker, as are many (though sadly not all) foreigners who deal professionally with Russia. Most people over 40 in the former Soviet empire speak at least some Russian. In some countries (Ukraine is an example), educated people of all ages know the language. But none of these “Russian-speaker” categories means any particular political affiliation, let alone pro-Kremlin sympathies.

“Native Russian-speaker” is almost as useless. Monoglot journalists from countries like Britain find it hard to grasp that people can grow up speaking several languages. The one they learn first may not be the one they end up speaking at home, or at work, or most fluently. Mixed marriages may have several languages: one for the children, one for each set of grandparents, plus another one for the country they are living in. A “Russian-speaking” province or city is not monolithically monoglot: people may speak one or more other tongues too.

“Ethnic Russian” is equally slippery. Is this simply a question of a surname? Or prescribed by some modern version of the Nuremberg laws? Or is it a matter of choice and self-description? Clearly it is not an exclusive category. You can be “Russian”, but also “Jewish” – or something else. I have a friend who is proudly Russian and Jewish and also Estonian (fiercely) by political orientation. When you read the word “ethnic” try to mentally substitute “racial”, to remind yourself how prescriptive, rigid and offensive the term is.

Moreover, just as most neo-Nazis don’t speak German, notable Kremlin supporters may not know any Russian (I am thinking particularly of the Putin fan club in other European countries, such as the far-right groups which endorsed his seizure of Crimea).

Talking about political views makes more sense. I would be interested to see an opinion poll in Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania asking: “do you wish the place where you live to become part of the Russian Federation?” The tiny “Yes” camp (I suspect under five per cent— and even less in Lithuania) could then be accurately described as the “pro-Kremlin minority”. Which is why propagandists prefer to talk vaguely about large numbers of “Russian-speakers”.

Other language is misleading too. Democracy is more than casting ballots: political institutions and processes matter too. How was the campaign conducted? Who was allowed to vote? How does the result affect those who voted differently? It is quite wrong to describe the Russian-run sham poll in Crimea as a “referendum” from which real political conclusions can be drawn, without examining these other questions.

Similarly, what does it mean to describe the Crimea as “historically” Russian? Tatar, Greeks, Bulgarians and Armenians have roots there too, plus of course Ukrainians. Does only the majority dictate a region’s history? Does the Kremlin alone have the right to decide which kinds of majorities matter, and when?

As the “Rights in Russia” blog has noted, Sky News captioned rival Crimea protests in Moscow last month as “Pro-Russia” and “anti-Russia”—thus echoing the sinister Kremlin line that dissent is treason. Simplicity can lead to absurdity. Or worse.


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Israel; Russia
KEYWORDS: crimea; israel; putinisacriminal; russia; ukraine

1 posted on 04/02/2014 8:17:58 PM PDT by No One Special
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Comment #2 Removed by Moderator

To: No One Special
Without realising it, many Westerners writing about the grim news of the past few weeks have adopted the Kremlin’s terminology.

The author naïvely assumes it isn't deliberate. Isn't that cute?

3 posted on 04/02/2014 8:33:11 PM PDT by null and void (I don’t mind getting older, but I hate wearing out!)
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To: AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; cardinal4; ColdOne; ...

Thanks No One Special.


4 posted on 04/02/2014 8:35:16 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Obama is now making Jimmy Carter look like Attila the Hun. /focus/news/3138768/posts)
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To: bigheadfred
One expression the MSM will not use is disarmed. Because the NATO flower-children talked Ukraine into relinquishing their nuclear weapons. They never said they would defend them.
5 posted on 04/02/2014 8:38:54 PM PDT by Calusa (Were going to have that person arrested.....that did the video, said Hillary Clinton.)
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To: No One Special

This article makes entirely too much sense. I can’t imagine anyone in the leftstream media ever reading it, let alone writing it.


6 posted on 04/02/2014 8:45:19 PM PDT by Hugin
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To: Calusa

BTTT

Wait...now that I have thought it over.

BTTT


7 posted on 04/02/2014 8:49:02 PM PDT by bigheadfred
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To: No One Special
The poll that shows not one majority in any Ukrainian region favours joining Russia
8 posted on 04/02/2014 8:55:45 PM PDT by FreeReign
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To: No One Special

Crimea is a special rule. I wote that at the outset of this crisis.

The majority of its people are indisputably Russian and wanted to be in Russia.

None of that is true elsewhere in the post-Soviet space and should not be used to justify endless Russian expansionism.

No one supports it and Crimea does not establish a precedent because of how it happened; its not even a case for breaking up countries on typical secessionist grounds.

The Crimeans seem happy; I backed their right of self-determination but do not think at all that gives Moscow warrant to take over whole countries in the future. Remember: special rule.


9 posted on 04/02/2014 9:01:06 PM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: goldstategop

“The majority of its people are indisputably Russian and wanted to be in Russia.”

That is a lie you keep peddling in the face of the proven evidence to the contrary. As you already know the last time a genuine vote was held in the Crimea and Sevastopol in 1991, the majority voted for independence with the Ukraine and not with Russia. Particularly offensive is the fact of how the slight Russian majority of today was achieved by ethnic cleansing through the killing and exiling of the Crimean Tatar population who were the majority population in 1939. Putin has noticed how the Crimean Tatar population has been returning to their homeland in the Crimea and was about to lower the percentage of ethnic Russians to less than the slight majority they have today. So, this Russian invasion of the Crimea is in effect another Russian attempt to forcibly reinstate the ethnic cleansing of the non-Russian populations in the Crimea and forestall any further loss of its majority previously established by crimes against humanity.

“None of that is true elsewhere in the post-Soviet space and should not be used to justify endless Russian expansionism.”

There is yet another blatant lie you know full well is a lie. All you have to do is look at Kaliningrad, the former East Prussia to see how Russians committed a crime against humanity by forcible removing the population and colonizing it with Russians. Another such place is Lithuania, where Russian have endeavored and are currently endevouring to displace the histoical native non-Russian poulation and language. Latvia and Estonia are also threatened by Russian efforts to displace their native non-Russian populations.

“No one supports it and Crimea does not establish a precedent because of how it happened; its not even a case for breaking up countries on typical secessionist grounds.”

There is yet another lie, because the Russian invasion of the Crimea demonstrates another precedent where Russia’s solemn agreements to respect the territorial integrity of former Soviet republics is abrogated by Russia in the Ukraine and Georgia. In other words, Russia’s diplomatic agreements are not worth the price of the paper they are written upon.

“The Crimeans seem happy;”

To say the “Crimeans seem happy” is a heinous lie, as every video interview with the Crimean Tatars and many other non-Russians are a testimonial.

“I backed their right of self-determination but do not think at all that gives Moscow warrant to take over whole countries in the future.”

It is an obvious lie when you claim, “I backed their right of self-determination.” The Crimean Tatars are Crimeans, and you very obviously have not “backed their right of self-determination.” The same is true of the other non-Russian Crimeans and the ethnic Russians who do not want Russia as their govermnet; you very obviously have not “backed their right of self-determination.”

“Remember: special rule”

Oh, we do remember the special rule for Russians. What is Russian and what was Russian will be Russian again, and what has never been Russian will be Russian just as soon as we can ethnically cleanse to prepare the way to make it Russian.


10 posted on 04/02/2014 10:31:44 PM PDT by WhiskeyX
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Comment #11 Removed by Moderator

To: No One Special
A native Russian speaker is someone who thinks in Russian. The same stands for native English speakers or speakers of whatever language.
12 posted on 04/02/2014 10:36:43 PM PDT by Freelance Warrior (A Russian.)
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To: No One Special

A great read. Applies to some here at FR too. Too many are falling into the I hate Obama so much, I think I am liking Putin trap.


13 posted on 04/03/2014 1:05:27 AM PDT by Nifster
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To: goldstategop

You missed post eight that proves you wrong


14 posted on 04/03/2014 1:07:06 AM PDT by Nifster
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To: WhiskeyX

We’ll said


15 posted on 04/03/2014 1:07:55 AM PDT by Nifster
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Comment #16 Removed by Moderator

Comment #17 Removed by Moderator

To: No One Special

In reality there are Russian and Western propaganda and both with it’s own different loaded lexicon. And the truth is a casualty of both, it has fallen in a crossfire.


18 posted on 04/03/2014 4:42:30 AM PDT by wetphoenix
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To: goldstategop
Crimea is a special rule. I wote that at the outset of this crisis.

Well thank you. I didn't know. That makes it all OK.

The majority of its people are indisputably Russian and wanted to be in Russia.

What did the rest of the people want?

None of that is true elsewhere in the post-Soviet space and should not be used to justify endless Russian expansionism.

Did Putin promise that?

No one supports it and Crimea does not establish a precedent because of how it happened; its not even a case for breaking up countries on typical secessionist grounds.

The special case case?

The Crimeans seem happy; I backed their right of self-determination but do not think at all that gives Moscow warrant to take over whole countries in the future. Remember: special rule.

Yes, of course, and Putin won't do it again. The children should now have reason to trust.

:-)

19 posted on 04/03/2014 9:49:49 AM PDT by No One Special
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To: No One Special
Without Fully realising it, many Westerners writing about the grim news of the past few weeks have adopted the Kremlin’s terminology.

Fixed.

20 posted on 04/03/2014 10:02:46 AM PDT by Justa
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