Up until now, political glitches caused a temporary shutdown of Russo-Ukrainian relations. The future is doomed, pessimist said. With Vladimir Putin playing political games of expansion and hegemony and Petro Poroshenko’s nationalistic, yet stubborn, but understandable attitude towards bilateral diplomacy, the two countries have not co-operated for the last five years. With Volodymyr Zelensky triumphing in the Presidential elections in April, the Russo-Ukrainian relations are said to progress.
On September 7th, the historic exchange of prisoners took place between Russia and Ukraine. Two governmental aircrafts carrying exchanged prisoners from Russia to Ukraine and vice-versa took off simultaneously. Soon, they have landed in Kyiv and Moscow.
There was a sense of the national holiday in Kyiv: relatives of the prisoners had gathered on the apron of the Borispol International airport and Volodymyr Zelensy, the president himself, with some of the high officials, but surprisingly no personal security, had come to greet every returned prisoner on their way from the aircraft.
On the Russian land, the different, shadow-covered event took place: nor the independent media, neither the relatives of hostages were allowed in the Vnukovo International Airport. Greeting the hostages as national heroes with a ceremony would have been reasonable and logical from the social standpoint, however, they were received very secretively and put into a dark-blue minivan with a flasher on top, like the spies who had failed their mission.
On Russian land, at the Vnukovo International Airport, only governmental media outlets were authorized, with the highest-position holding person being Dmitry Kiselyov, a Russian propagandist and the head of state-owned media outlet Rossiya Segodnya. As it became clear afterward, Kiselyov came to greet Kiril Vishinsky personally, a journalist and the Editor-in-Chief of Ria Novosti Ukraine, accused of high treason by the Ukrainian government and given 15 years in prison.
The choice of not greeting Russian hostages was fostered by societal dynamics, a lawyer Ilya Novikov claims and underlines that the Russian society did not care about the personalities involved in the exchange. Ukrainians, on the other side, were aware of particular people, their personalities, history, charges, and political involvement.
Pavel Lobkov claims that official Moscow and the media outlets associated with the Russian government will not cover this topic in-depth, because it may shed the light on the suspicious thesis constantly proposed by the Russian side after the Crimean crisis, claiming that the Russian troops were not present in Ukraine.
This exchange was a certain win for Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky, who had delivered his promise dated as back as the beginning of his electoral campaign. Vladimir Putin, on the other side, did nothing new or unexpected.
While democracy in Ukraine is flourishing, totalitarianism is slowly taking over Russia, like a smoke cloud takes over the blue sky.