Russia Responds to US' Accusations of Impending Show Trials in Mariupol

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by blueapples
Thursday, Aug 25, 2022 - 21:34

In the wake of the end of the Second World War, the consensus of popular opinion throughout the globe was that it was the USSR which had achieved ultimate victory for the Allied Forces in Europe. Immediately thereafter, decades of tensions began to foment between eastern and western counterparts decided by the Iron Curtain. Throughtout the course of the Cold War, the United States employed propaganda designed to revise that history in a manner that would champion itself in the culture war against its former Communist ally. By the time the Soviet Union collapsed, the authors of western history were able to paint an entirely new portrait which attributed the triumph over Hitler, the Axis Powers, and Fascism as the doing of the United States.

This Boudrillardian twist of fate which saw a simulacrum of World War II imposed by that historical revisionism was a particularly ironic outcome for the USSR. After all, in the wake of Lenin's succession as the Communist state's leader, Josef Stalin rose to the role of Soviet Premier by entirely rewriting the history of the October Revolution to purge the Old Bolsheviks whose loyalties to Leon Trotsky threatened his hegemony. To achieve his totalitarian dictatorship, show trials became one of Stalin's most powerful tactics to cement his stranglehold over the USSR.

Even though the Russian Federation has only recently celebrated its 30th anniversary as the state successor to the USSR, the ember of hostilities between east and west which had laid dormant since the end of the Cold War have since become stoked to a fervence not felt since the conflict between Communism and Capitalism put the world teetering on the cusp of nuclear oblivion. Given that escalation of hostilities, it should come as no shock to see the re-emergence of historical narratives like those written in the annals of history during the Cold War aimed at villifying Russia conjured by their NATO counterparts.

As Ukraine's chapter in that history follows in the footsteps of other proxy wars between the US and Russia which enveloped the globe, states invested in Ukraine have begun to increasingly characterize Putin in the same light as his totalitarian predecessors. The latest instance of this manifest in accusations by the US State Department alleging that the Russian Federation is preparing its illegitimate show trials reminiscent of Stalin's purge. This incarnation of those will be have Ukrainian POWs tried in Mariupol, one of the most crucial arenas of combat during the conflict.

"The planned show trials are illegitimate and a mockery of justice, and we strongly condemn them," US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in an official statement. Price's remarks were the latest instance of the US' accusations of war crimes committed by the Russian Federation against the people of Ukraine. This theme has been consistent throughout the conflict from the supposed massacre at Bucha and unverified reports of chemical weapons attacks made by the Azov Battalion to the assertion that the Russian military has constantly targeted civilian infrastructure.

Unlike the previous allegations of war crimes, the Russian Federation hasn't outright denied the forthcoming military tribunals as much as it has accused the US of mischaracterizing them in a manner aimed at obfuscating the actions of the Azov Battalion combatants set to stand trial in the Donbass. Vyacheslav Volodin, Speaker of the Russian State Duma, elucidated Russia's perspective and stake in the tribunals by aiming criticism at Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, stating “He and the Kiev regime have reasons to be afraid...He and his inner circle ordered to bomb, shoot and kill peaceful citizens: the elderly, women, children. That is why Zelensky is doing everything to prevent the tribunal.” Volodin's remarks were followed by the Council of the Russian State Duma's first emergency meeting since the onset of the war in Ukraine.

In addition to addressing the remarks made by Ukrainian and US officials on the nature of the planned tribunals, Volodin also clarified that the trials would not be conducted by the Russian Federation itself but by officials of the Donetsk People's Republic ("DPR"). That separatist state situated in the Donbass which has been in the firing line of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict stretching back to the wake of the hostilities which followed the Maiden Revolt of 2014, long before February's invasion. However, western critics of the DPR hold it as a Russian puppet state and mere extention of the Kremlin. 

Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin vociferously decried Ukraine's assertion that the DPR's upcoming military tribunals were nothing more than show trials.

Since the conflict has escalated earlier this year, the DPR has managed to take control of Mariupol with the aid of the Russian military's reinforcements. In that time, the DPR has captured hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers, many of whom belong to the Neo-Nazi Azov Battalion. According to DPR and Russian officials, the trials are intended to hold those fighters responsible for war crimes targeting the ethnically Russian residents of the Donbass.

The legitimacy of the tribunals was something Volodin doubled down on, calling for them to be held publicly, “so that the world community will know about the crimes against humanity committed by the Kiev regime.” Following the assassination of Darya Dugina, the back-and-forth assertions between Russia and Ukraine of each other committing war crimes has reached a fever pitch. The DPR's forthcoming tribunals seek to be the climax of that info war by showcasing the alleged crimes committed by Ukrainian with material evidence instead of relying on empty rhetoric.

In Kiev, the gravity of these tribunals is apparently not lost upon Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky who responded to the news of their development Monday, stating “If this despicable show trial takes place… This will be the line beyond which any negotiations are impossible. Russia will cut itself off from any negotiations[.]”

Prospective peace talks between Russia and Ukraine have all but entirely subsided with no real initiative to further them since the Spring when a futile effort at a ceasefire in observance of Eastern Orthodox Easter was put forward. Over the course of the Summer the combatants have dug their heels in and become even more deeply entrenched against one another, suggesting that the window for peace talks has all but entirely closed.

Denis Pushilin, head of the DPR, expounded on the logistics of the tribunals to Russian media outlets. "The first tribunal will most likely be held in Mariupol. It will be organized by the end of summer,” he said. As the procession of seasons since the invasion of Ukraine draws closer to coming full circle, the cautious optimism of a short-term conflict felt in the Spring seems a distant memory as the DPR's tribunals forecast a Winter of discontent in Ukraine that will certainly reverberate beyond Europe to Washington.

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