Russian president Dmytri Medvedev said his country does not have its “own” candidate in Ukraine’s 2010 presidential contest. But he made it clear that Moscow does not like incumbent Victor Yushchenko. Speaking in his year-end address to Russians, Medvedev said that his country will respect any choice the Ukrainian people make when they go to the polls on Jan. 17 (as long as it’s not Yushchenko). Medvedev did say that he hopes the new president will not, among other things, harm the Russian language.
Russia is looking to avoid the international embarrassment caused in 2004, when then-president Vladimir Putin congratulated Victor Yanukovych with victory prior to the announcement of official election results. After Ukraine’s highest court found the elections to be fraud-ridden and ordered a repeat round, Yanukovych lost to Yushchenko. This time around, Moscow has been careful not to endorse any single candidate, putting its eggs into as many baskets as possible – except Yushchenko’s.
With Russia’s help, Yanukovych has made “Russian as a state-language” a campaign issue, although polls show voters are more concerned with the economic and social issues (high prices and unemployment) than with Russian language rights.
But instead of overtly backing a candidate (Yanukovych or Yulia Tymoshenko, Moscow has prepared something else for Ukraine: an NGO.
Beaten by Ukrainian NGOs in 2004, the Kremlin began imitating successful civil society practices to serve its own, twenty-first-century-fascist ends. Moscow created “civil society” and “non-governmental” organizations like “Nashi” for youth at home.
In Ukraine, the Interregional Movement ‘Russian-language Ukraine’ (IMRU) is handing out “Russia is my fatherland” cards and offering material support to card-carrying members.
“Russian people” – by IMRU’s definition – are not limited to citizens of the Russian Federation. Rather, the term “Rus” is a broader concept that includes neighboring Ukraine and Belarus. The concept has religious overtones: Moscow Patriarch Kiril I defines the Orthodox union of the three countries as “Holy Rus”.
On the back of the card, the definition of what being “ruski” is provided: “Ruskey – is a concept simultaneously ethnic and spiritual political and cultural-historic.” Cardholders are simultaneously defenders of Ruski world and civilization.
By applying for a ‘Russia is my fatherland’ card, Ukrainians are the NGO implement the Russian State Duma Law on helping out Russians living in the near abroad (read: former Soviet republics.)
IMRU names the fund that is supporting its activities: the Russian “Russkie” Fund: http://www.russkie-fond.ru/ Addresses and applications are available on the “Russian-language Ukraine” website: http://russ.com.ua/ The international movement has its own social network site: http://vserusskie.ru/
Here’s a quick translation of the recent Ruski Card announcement from IMRU’s website:
RUSKI CARD DISTRUBUTION
LAUNCHED IN UKRAINE!
The “Interregional Movement ‘Russian-language Ukraine’” Civic Organization is informing compatriots that everyone who wants a “Ruski card” – a document that designates Russia as his/her historical Fatherland – can turn to the following addresses:
“Ruski card” distribution points: [Three addresses and coordinator contact numbers in Donetsk, Slaviansk, Alchevsk in Luhansk oblast. See original for details (below).]
The owner of a “Ruski card” has the right to:
1. Obtain information on the activities of the “Interregional Movement ‘Russian-language Ukraine’” and the “Russkie” Fund for the Unity of Rus’ people
2. Receive informational support of the “Russkie” Fund on the territory of Russia
3. Apply for aid in social matters to the offices of IMRU
4. Receive legal aid within the competencies of IMRU
5. Receive support from IMRU in education and employment in the countries of the near abroad
6. Receive support from IMRU to independently provide decent life [standards] for himself/herself and families.
7. Participate in IMRU’s programs and projects, including:
a. Small and medium business development Project
b. IMRU’s “Reunification” Program (family search in Russia and CIS)
c. Obtain information and participate in the Russian Federation State Program on Aid for Volunteer Resettlement of Compatriots.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE, THERE IS SOMEONE TO TURN TO!
According to Zadonbass.org, the All-Ukrainian civic organization “Human rights civic movement ‘Russkoyazichnaya Ukrain” (RU) was registered by the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine on Aug. 10, 2009. Its founding members include Russian Orthodox and Party of Regions leaders and activists.
The smoking Russian gun original of the Ruski Card announcement in Ukraine: