Mass media review: "Do not call us activists anymore…"

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This is about how patriotic organizations are transformed into a business that does not provide the most legitimate services.

One of the media recently wondered why writing about guys who were protecting the historical heritage in Odesa, the latter were very offended by the fact that they were called activists. But their resentment made sense, because people are doing real things, and are not running with flags and flares under the institutions and other buildings. Over the past few years, the word “activist” has become a swearword to many. Now this word associates with boys in camouflage, often even dirty, and flags of different public organizations, who throw brilliant green (“zelenka”) at officials or judges, spread gas or simply arrange fights. Most often – not for free. In fact, this word became synonymous with the word “titushky”; although in their form and meaning they should be antonyms.

But the truth cannot be hidden, if you want to “put pressure” on a competitor – you should find friends from any public organization, that has a clear pricelist for such “rallies”. The main thing is to make sure that the competitors do not order representatives of another organization hostile to you. Being such a patriot-activist is now convenient – the police stand by and do not interfere with what’s happening or let you go in a couple of hours. Most likely, you have a curator in the Security Service of Ukraine, NABU or the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who turns a blind eye on the pranks of your organization in exchange for small services – a dispersal of a “separatist” rally or breaking a court session, or even a media support in the so-called “right” case. At a time these sites are a dime a dozen – and all that “our money” is very “honest”, “virtuous”, and necessarily – “anti-corruption”.

By the way, strangely enough, but the greatest transformation of the “activist” movement occurred not even in the West of the country, but in the East (the capital is still left behind brackets, because there is a core of everything – both corruption and anti-corruption). In particular, as for the activists in Odesa in the winter of 2014, so these were some people. Now they are completely different. Although under the same signboards. Then, in February, after the beating of participants and journalists of the pro-Ukrainian rally in the regional administration, strong men with sticks began to appear at the rallies of Euromaidan calling themselves a self-defense. When in spring the “Russian spring” broke out in the city, there were enough of such guys with sticks on both sides. And most of them, if not all, were ideological, and not on hourly wages. After the tragedy in Odesa on May, 2 the activists with bats remained on one side – and again they were ideological. That year was an ideological one for both sides – when people went to die – under a bullet and without body armor. And then … Then it became quieter in Odesa. “Bloodless” explosions took place – there were dozens of terrorist attacks – almost all of them were victimless. But, in general, the “patriotic” people had nobody to fight with. Armed units in camouflage stood idle. As the result the activists and the rallies themselves began to transform. In something hybrid. Everything was in line with the trend and keeping pace with the times. In three and a half years, part of these “militia” either fell apart, or, on the contrary, strengthened. Only they became engaged, basically, in business. A specific one. To scare the court, or maybe to squeeze out the “crop”.

There are more than enough examples in the same Odesa region. Recently, local journalists were present at the session of the village council near Odesa – where good people were struggling with the bad ones for the land. One tenth of a hectare of the land by the sea is “golden”. On the one hand, people from the North Caucasian republic arrived – they cried out to each other “Braaat!” and “Krasaffchiki!”. On the other hand, there were representatives of a very well-known “patriotic” organization. Fortunately, there was no fight.

Or another example. A court hearing in one of the courts of Odesa. In the case of the leader of the patriotic organization, whose activists had previously thrown Molotov cocktails at another court in the region. And what is remarkable – about a hundred adherents of the detained person, very colorful ones, were standing near the court building. Representatives of the “Caucasian nationality” stood next to the former convicts and the so-called “professional” patriots. The police were nervous and obviously expected an assault. As a result, representatives of another patriotic organization came to the place and threatened that the protesters would have real problems in case of unrest. Therefore, everything ended quietly and peacefully. By the way, the leader of the activists was arrested for 60 days. A rare phenomenon in our time. They say he just did not have the “right” support in Kyiv.

But what is worse, many of the “activists” can be seen at very different actions almost in a day. And they already remind not the activists, but the Genoese crossbowmen or Swiss infantry – mercenaries who worked 500-700 years ago in Europe on the principle who gives more money. Therefore, lately, you can often hear arguments about “pseudo-activists” – which allegedly spoil the image of real activists. Moreover, who is real, and who is “pseudo” is difficult to understand. We can predict that we will soon be discussing “a kind of activists”, “less than activists” or more than that – we will happily share our own name, intentionally not registering a trademark – so let them write about “fake activists” as well. The only bad thing is that, together with the word “activist”, a completely different in its meaning word “patriot” gets a negative connotation, though these people have nothing in common with the rallies…

Aliona Tovchenko

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