On one of my last days in this trip to Moscow, I went to the VDNKh (no one seems to call it by its new, post-Soviet title of VVTs, even the posters read VDNKh). It was a cold, wet day and most of the people around were workers sprucing the place up for the later spring and summer, but my objective was the Ukraine pavilion which, with a certain vicious irony, is now the home of ‘Donbas: 365 Days of the ATO‘ [Anti-Terrorism Operation — what Kiev calls its military campaign against the rebels]. Past some of the toughest security checks I encountered this trip, I found an exhibition which took the undoubted horrors of the campaign (and let’s be honest, Kiev pulled few punches, and the often-indiscriminate shelling of civilian targets has helped harden rebel sentiment in the region) but often turned it into a haunted house-style horror show in the name of propaganda. We’re talking replicas of bombed out strobed with red lighting, pictures of dolls in rubble, the works. In many ways, I suppose, this is a metaphor for much of the worst kind of Russian propaganda: taking a basis of truth, but then turning into a macabre spectacle of one-sided caricature. An interesting experience, and worth the time spent schlepping there through the rain, but an unsettling one for both the intended and unintended reasons.
Moscow Correspondence (3): ‘Donbas: 365 days of the ATO’
Posted by Mark Galeotti on April 19, 2015
This blog's author, Dr Mark Galeotti has been researching Russian history and security issues since the late 1980s.
Educated at Cambridge University and the LSE, he is now a senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations Prague and coordinates its Centre for European Security. He is also the director of the consultancy firm Mayak Intelligence. Previously he has been Professor of Global Affairs at New York University, head of the History department at Keele University in the UK, an adviser at the British Foreign Office and a visiting professor at MGIMO (Moscow), Charles University (Prague) and Rutgers (Newark), as well as a visiting fellow with the ECFR.
His books include the edited collections 'The Politics of Security in Modern Russia' (Ashgate), 'Russian & Soviet Organized Crime' (Ashgate) and 'Spetsnaz: Russia's Special Forces' (Osprey) and he is a regular contributor to Jane's Intelligence Review, Oxford Analytica and many other outlets. He is a contributing editor to Business New Europe.
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