Claims that Moscow fears a ?democratic? Ukraine are simply foolish, a Russian senator has argued
American analysts following Russia and the former Soviet Union repeatedly fail to understand the mentality of people living in the world's largest country, one of Moscow's leading senators has raged as experts weigh in on events happening along the border with Ukraine.
Taking to Telegram on Thursday, Alexey Pushkov poured scorn on a statement put forward by Michael McFaul, a well-known "Russia watcher" and Stanford professor who previously served as Washington's ambassador to Russia during President Barack Obama's era.
McFaul's tweet read that "Ukrainian democracy today, not Ukrainian membership in NATO in some distant future, is the real threat to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin." Similar remarks have been made by the notoriously anti-Russian academic in recent weeks.
The exchange comes as Moscow aims to seek guarantees from NATO that Ukraine's long-term ambitions to join the US-led military bloc will not be granted.
Hitting out at McFaul's words, Pushkov blasted the "amazing stupidity of this thesis," which he insisted is "repeated over and over again in the United States by pseudo-experts on Russia."
It says only one thing, the senator claimed - "they know nothing about the attitude of the vast majority of Russian citizens to what is happening in Ukraine and do not want to know." He accused Western experts of living "in their false ideologies, where it is comfortable and convenient for them."
"It is difficult to find people in Russia who would dream of a life like the one in Ukraine now," he stated. "It is impossible to envy it."
Pushkov's remarks come amid a crackdown on high-profile Ukrainian political figures. On Wednesday, a court in Kiev rejected a request from prosecutors to put former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko behind bars while he awaits trial for a string of serious charges. He was ordered to give up his documents used for international travel.
The indictment for which hearings began on Monday alleged that, during his stint in office, the former head of state took part in a scheme to buy 1.5 billion hryvnia ($54 million) worth of coal from the breakaway Donbass in 2014 and 2015, despite restrictions put in place after the two regions seceded from Ukraine. This, according to the law, is illegal, and he was subsequently accused of treason and promoting terrorism.
Poroshenko insists that the charges against him are politically motivated by his successor, Volodymyr Zelensky.
Another suspect in the case identified by prosecutors is serving MP Viktor Medvedchuk, the leader of the largest non-government party in the Ukrainian parliament, Opposition Platform - For Life. He was placed under house arrest last year after also being charged with treason.
Although the details of the allegations have not been publicly disclosed, they are believed to relate to business interests in Crimea. Medvedchuk, however, insists that his prosecution is politically motivated and accused Zelensky of attempting to establish a "dictatorship."