From Jamie Peipon: The status of the war has not changed much today. Therefore, today’s report will be a cultural deep dive along with some news that is currently making waves in Ukraine. In today’s picture you can see Mykola Leontovych with his family. That name might not be familiar to you, but I can almost guarantee that you are familiar with his work. Leontovych was a Ukrainian who studied in seminary from 1892-1899. While there, he was involved with the liturgical choirs and began writing choral arrangements. He was so proficient musically that he would go on to work at the same Kyiv Conservatory (the same one in which I would eventually study). He wrote a piece called Schedryk, which you will more likely know as “Carol of the Bells.” He lived through the Bolshevik revolution which was one of the most tumultuous periods in modern Eastern European history. After the revolution, he was known to support an independent Ukrainian state and this earned him some enemies.
In January of 1921, he went to visit his parents. He stayed at their home. A man named Afanasy Grishchenko was traveling through their town and his parents agreed to house him for the night. He shared a room with Mykola. Afanasy, however, was a soviet agent who shot and murdered the composer that night and then robbed his family. The history of Russian oppression of Ukraine runs deep. It is amazing that Ukraine can still have such rich culture when Russia has historically murdered its best representatives or claimed them as Russian. The number of times this same scenario has played out in Ukraine is disturbing. Right now, we’re just seeing the very latest iteration.
In current news, there has been a great deal of outrage channeled towards Amnesty International today. They published an article entitled “Ukrainian Fighting Tactics Endanger Civilians.” In the article, they would go on to accuse the Ukrainian armed forces of using schools, residential areas, and hospitals as “de facto military bases.”
This report has left Ukrainians at a loss. Here they are, the victims of a full-fledged invasion, and Amnesty International is condemning them instead of the country that has attacked them? What are they supposed to do? Why are they putting the Russian and Ukrainian army on equal footing? Isn’t the Russian invasion a little more dangerous than the position of Ukrainian soldiers throughout the country as they defend their homeland? It is frustrating and, quite honestly, that an organization like this could be silent about so many Russian atrocities (even just this week alone) and then accuse the country who is clearly the victim of being the war criminal. In many significant ways, the information war IS the war. As the saying goes: the pen is mightier than the sword. HIMARS might be more powerful than the pen, but without the pen, without winning the hearts and minds of the west, these weapons systems and other kinds of support would evaporate.
Within hours, the Russian government was leveraging this content to justify their war in Ukraine and labeling Ukrainians as war criminals who act in violation of international law. They claim that this is exactly what they’ve been saying all along and closed out their tweet with a hashtag accusing Ukraine of being a country of Nazis.
In a frustrating twist, Oksana Pokalchuk (the head of Amnesty International in Ukraine) released a very strong statement condemning the report. She says that Amnesty Ukraine did not prepare the report and they did not provide any data for it. All data came from “international researchers.” The Ukrainian office did not participate in preparing or writing the report and their arguments against it were not taken into consideration. The Ukrainian office was not sent any working version of the report and did not publish or translate it. Pokalchuk added that they “are extremely saddened by the fact that after all possible arguments against this report from our side, we have not been heard.” I don’t know about the innerworkings of the organization, but it does seem strange that the branch closest to the events would not be consulted.
“Let them be like chaff before the wind,
with the angel of the LORD driving them away!
Let their way be dark and slippery,
with the angel of the LORD pursuing them!”