On March 18, the Polish city of Kielce hosted a conference titled “Are we at risk of war?”. The event was broadcast live on YouTube, and the speakers were people who have long been spreading pro-Russian rhetoric in the Polish information space. For example, Leszek Sykulski, who we have already written about.
Leszek Sykulski is a Polish political scientist who claims that the United States intends to convince Poland to actively participate in the war with Russia. Sykulski and other “anti-system patriots,” in fact pro-Russian commentators, share anti-Ukrainian and anti-American views. They want to live in peace with Russia, which attacked Ukraine.
Experts from the Polish project Demagog have identified the most important anti-Ukrainian messages from the conference.
1. Repeating Russian rhetoric about the illegitimate Ukrainian government to justify aggression.
One of the speakers noted that former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (2010-2014) was allegedly deprived of power in violation of the principles of democracy and that he should not be called a usurper or dictator. To prove his thesis, he says that in 2010, Yanukovych was elected in elections that were held “in accordance with all democratic standards.”
They deliberately ignore the fact that since the Revolution of Dignity (2013-2014), Ukraine has held 2 cycles of presidential and parliamentary elections (2014 and 2019), and none of the results are questionable in terms of transparency, fairness, and democracy.
2. The “Kyiv regime” prohibits Ukrainians from speaking Russian
Speakers at the event claimed that Ukrainians from Donbas are afraid that they “are forced to learn a new language, that their children will now speak Ukrainian… They want a referendum.”
Propagandists use this message to demonize the Ukrainian government and justify Russia’s crimes by “protecting the Russian-speaking population.” However, despite the status of Ukrainian as the only state language, Ukrainian legislation does not impose restrictions on the language of everyday communication in private life. Moreover, Russia has been launching air attacks mainly on cities and regions where Russian is widely spoken. And the Russian “defense of Donbas” has turned into a systematic turning to ashes of cities in this region, such as Mariupol, Severodonetsk, Bakhmut, etc.
3. “Everyone was silent when Ukraine was bombing Donbas for 8 years”
At the conference, one could hear an extremely widespread narrative that “for 8 years, people living in Donbas were often bombed, shelled, and no one cried over the fate of those children who died in schools…”. They say that no one in Ukraine and Poland cared, and “Kyiv was shelling” these people.
This message is a classic example of Russian disinformation. In this way, propagandists want to justify the crimes of the Russians. Allegedly, the full-scale war against Ukraine is revenge for the suffering of Donbas residents. However, it was not Ukraine, but Russia that started fighting there in 2014 and is ruthlessly destroying the region.
4. The war against Ukraine is part of the world government’s grand plan, and very soon Ukraine and Poland will turn into “Ukropolin”.
Speakers at the event said that the war was started so that Europe could start building “New Jerusalem, Heavenly Jerusalem, Crimean California, New Khazaria, Ukropolin”. Moreover, they claim that Polish President Andrzej Duda has already stated that Poland and Ukraine will allegedly unite into one state.
In this case, the propagandists turn to the conspiracy theories that are currently popular to shift the responsibility for the crimes of the Russians to someone else. They say that these are all the tricks of the world government and that we are all just hostages of political games.
There is also an anti-Semitic overtone in the speakers’ statements – according to conspiracy theorists, the world government consists of Jews and, therefore, they are taking revenge for all the bad things that happened to them before.
However, if we are talking about Duda’s speech, to which the speakers refer, we are talking about a speech on May 3, 2022, where, within the full context, it can be understood that the Polish president is talking about the amount of assistance to Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees. Moreover, in this speech, he even emphasizes that Poland will help “rebuild Ukraine: strong, sovereign, independent.”
A year after the Russian invasion, when every month the world community receives more and more evidence of Russia’s horrific crimes, from mass murder to the forced deportation of Ukrainian children, an intelligent and conscious person cannot share such messages. Being pro-Russian now is at least shameful and unethical. At maximum – this is a crime.