When Ukrainian army officers came to the Ukrainian village of Velikaya Znamenka to tell the men to prepare to be drafted, they weren’t prepared for what happened next. As the commanding officer was speaking, a woman seized the microphone and proceeded to tell him off: "We’re sick of this war! Our husbands and sons aren’t going anywhere!" She then launched into a passionate speech, denouncing the war, and the coup leaders in Kiev, to the cheers of the crowd.
What she did is now a crime in Ukraine: the only reason she wasn’t arrested on the spot is that the villagers wouldn’t have permitted it. But in Ukrainian Transcarpathia, well-known journalist for Ukrainian Channel 112 Ruslan Kotsaba has been arrested and charged with "treason" and "espionage" for making a video in which he declared: "I would rather sit in jail for three to five years than go to the east to kill my Ukrainian brothers. This fear-mongering must be stopped." Kotsaba may sit in jail for twenty-three years, the prescribed term for the charges filed against him.
Kotsaba’s arrest is part of a desperate effort by the Ukrainian government to intimidate the growing antiwar and anti-draft movement, which threatens to upend Kiev’s dreams of conquering the rebellious eastern provinces. Kotsaba’s particular crime, according to prosecutors, was in describing the conflict as a civil war rather than a Russian "invasion." This is a point the authorities cannot tolerate: the same meme being relentlessly broadcast by the Western media – that an indigenous rebellion with substantial support is really a Russian plot to "subvert" Ukraine and reestablish the Warsaw Pact – now has the force of law in Ukraine. Anyone who contradicts it is subject to arrest.
Also subject to arrest, and worse: the thousands who are fleeing the country in order to avoid being conscripted into the military. In a Facebook post that was quickly deleted, Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak wrote: “According to unofficial sources, hostels and motels in border regions of neighboring Romania are completely filled with draft dodgers.” President Petro Poroshenko, the Chocolate Oligarch, is readying a decree imposing possible restrictions on foreign travel for those of draft age – which means anyone from age 25 to 60. Ukrainians may soon be prisoners in their own country – but they aren’t taking it lying down.
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