Dr. Chodakiewicz analyzes the Nemtsov murder

Who killed the Russian oppositionist, Boris Nemtsov?

Dr. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz – the holder of the Kościuszko Chair of Polish Studies – seeks to answer this question in an analysis published last week by the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research (SFPPR).

The smoke had hardly cleared after the murder of the Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, on February 27, celebrated in Russia, ironically, as “Spetznatz Day,” when the Kremlin and its mignons paraded a slew of conspiracy theories regarding the culprits. None of them included President Vladimir Putin. In fact, Russia’s strongman growled that the killing was “a provocation.” By whom?

For the next week, the Kremlin media and pundits obliged, feverishly hunting the suspects. A frenzy of speculation ensued. But it concentrated on the dual boogieman of terrorism and foreign intervention which has been the hallmark of the Russian President’s system of controlling Russia since the advent of his power. The campaign engulfed TV, the Internet, and newspapers. Water cooler gossip mongering reached epic proportions. It was a disinformation offensive, pure and simple. It mobilized support for Putin and obfuscated the issue, while tapping into the pre-existing prejudices and stoking the fires of paranoia.

To continue reading Dr. Chodakiewicz’s article, please visit the SFPPR website.

Paweł Styrna on the “besieged Kremlin mentality”

According to Kościuszko Chair research assistant Paweł Styrna, it is essential to understand the prism through which the rulers of post-Soviet Russia view the world. As he argues in his recently-published SFPPR News & Analysis article:

A paranoid “besieged fortress” mentality has characterized the foreign policy thinking of the Kremlin for centuries: from the era of the Muscovite Tsars to the days of the mass-murdering Bolshevik Commissars and their current post-KGB successors. Thus, when reading Nikolai Patrushev’s claims about America’s supposedly sinister, aggressive intentions vis-à-vis Russia, one may be very tempted to simply chuckle, roll one’s eyes, and dismiss the far-fetched Chekist allegations. Déjà vu!

We have heard all of this before, both from Moscow and her Western apologists and agents. These charges should not go unanswered, however, because they are part of Moscow’s worldwide propaganda campaignagainst America, Ukraine, and the Baltic states.

To continue reading, please visit the website of the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research (SFPPR).

Moscow’s ‘Spetznatz Day’ is Every Day: Conspiracy, Assassination, and Disinformation

by Marek Chodakiewicz

Nemtsov was shot right outside of the Kremlin, a very secure place. Further, he often complained about his FSB tail, a surveillance squad, which shadowed him. Why didn’t they jump to the rescue? Also, a snow plow inched slowly behind the strolling couple, obscuring security cameras.

The smoke had hardly cleared after the murder of the Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, on February 27, celebrated in Russia, ironically, as “Spetznatz Day,” when the Kremlin and its mignons paraded a slew of conspiracy theories regarding the culprits. None of them included President Vladimir Putin. In fact, Russia’s strongman growled that the killing was “a provocation.” By whom?

For the next week, the Kremlin media and pundits obliged, feverishly hunting the suspects. A frenzy of speculation ensued. But it concentrated on the dual boogieman of terrorism and foreign intervention which has been the hallmark of the Russian President’s system of controlling Russia since the advent of his power. The campaign engulfed TV, the Internet, and newspapers. Water cooler gossipmongering reached epic proportions. It was a disinformation offensive, pure and simple. It mobilized support for Putin and obfuscated the issue, while tapping into the pre-existing prejudices and stoking the fires of paranoia.

In essence, we were treated to the good old game of deception and denial. Whereas, in Soviet times, the Kremlin would have been able to cover up Nemtsov’s death, in the brave new world of the information revolution and social media, the post-Soviet leadership banks on the new fog of war: information overload. It is easier to bury the truth in the swamp of mendacious narratives. Hence, multiple stories and multiple messages serve the same goal – all power to the Kremlin. Since it is rather instructive to unveil the mastery of Putin’s propaganda machine and its themes, a brief review of alleged conspiracies follows.

Read more

Former Kosciuszko Chair intern interviewed on feminism by Polish weekly

Ms. Karolina Dobrowolska, a former intern of the Kościuszko Chair of Polish Studies (Fall 2013), was justinterviewed by the Polish Catholic weekly, Gość Niedzielny [The Sunday Guest]. Ms. Dobrowolska — who is a graduate of the University of Warsaw and an attorney at the “Ordo Iuris” Legal Institute — has co-organized, along with the female colleagues, a protest against the ratification of the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence.

The reason behind this opposition is, as Ms. Dobrowolska explains, the highly-misleading name of the document which sounds very noble but is, in fact, a radical feminist (“genderist”) assault on the traditional family and gender roles. The primary claim of the “genderist” post-modernists — that gender is nothing more than a “social construct,” and therefore relative and subjective — is clearly a recipe for subverting the primary social unit that is the family. The resulting moral chaos, Ms. Dobrowolska argues, will render atomized and confused individuals easier to indoctrinate and manipulate.

She also challenged the assertions of feminists and other progressives who portray Poland as a land of widespread domestic violence and physical abuse of women. The reality, the young attorney points out, is that “according to the research done by the EU Agency of Basic Rights in the spring of 2014, violence against women in Poland is at a level of 19 percent, whereas in Denmark, where feminists dominate and have implemented measures based on the Convention, it is at 52 percent.”

The factor mitigating against domestic violence targeting women in Poland is the nation’s culture. The former KC intern continues: “Poland is a Catholic country with a highly-developed cult of the Virgin Mary, which, along with literary traditions evolving for centuries, has generated an atmosphere of respect for women.”

Dr. Chodakiewicz speaks about Poland’s anti-communist insurgents

On Saturday, February 28, the Kościuszko Chair of Polish Studies hosted an event commemorating the anti-communist insurgents and freedom fighters in Poland and the Intermarium: “Poland’s Anti-Communist Insurgents: Pro Memoriam.”

The program commenced with a lecture by Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz, who presented the history and significance of the Polish anti-Nazi, anti-Soviet resistance movement in particular, and the anti-communist underground throughout the Intermarium and Central and Eastern Europe in general. Interspersed throughout were many individual stories of freedom fighters – including many women – killed, tortured, and imprisoned by the Soviets and their puppets in Poland. Dr. Chodakiewicz’s remarks were followed by the showing of the Polish film Inka 1946: Ja jedna zginę [Inka 1946: Only I will perish].

The movie, produced by Polish Television in 2006, tells the tragic story of Danuta Siedzikówna (nom de guerre“Inka”), whose life (1928 – 1946), which was dedicated first and foremost to her country, was brutally cut short by the communists. She had joined the Polish underground to fight against the Germans during the Second World War and continued the struggle against the other enemy — the communists — for which she was arrested, tortured, and executed.

To view Dr. Chodakiewicz’s Power Point presentation, please click here: Poland’s Anti-Communist Insurgents

Dr. Chodakiewicz’s censored interview on Ukraine and Russia

On February 15, Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz was interviewed by a DC-based reporter for the English-language Russian website Sputnik News on the current Russo-Ukrainian crisis. In the end, it never made the cut, and Sputnik News decided not to publish the interview. No doubt, the Kremlin sees things much differently than Dr. Chodakiewicz, but, for the sake of media freedom, we are publishing the interview below.


Sputnik News: I was hoping to get your comments regarding a Minsk declaration, which was agreed upon during the so-called Normandy format meeting on Ukrainian reconciliation on Thursday. The document stipulates ceasefire at 12:00 a.m. local time on February 15 (February 14, 22:00 GMT), and withdrawal of heavy weaponry from the existing contact line for the Ukrainian army, and from the line agreed on last September for the militia.

How likely is it that the parties will follow through with this agreement? One of the conditions for Kiev to regain control over the border with Russia is the implementation of constitutional reforms in Ukraine, according to the Minsk declaration. Will Kiev really implement constitutional reforms and give more rights to the regions?

MJC: I will first answer both questions above. Everything mostly depends on the Kremlin. If Moscow orders the separatists to stand down, most of them will. A few may bristle, but they’ll also follow suit. Kyiv barely holds its own. It should wish for a freeze in fighting, if for tactical reasons only. Whereas for Russia the choice is simple, for Ukraine any move is fraught with multilayered problems. Of course, the government in Kyiv cannot countenance giving up any Ukrainian territory, including Crimea. It would then stop being a Ukrainian government. However, there are pragmatists in the government who may want to consider the federal option as a face saving device.  Nominally, a federated Ukraine would remain a single state. Practically, however, rebel-occupied areas would exercise autonomy and affiliate very closely with Russia. So Ukraine would become a de facto confederation of regions. Instead of a single unrecognized state of Transnistria, we would have a bevy of them, stretching along the current eastern border and the northern shore of the Black Sea. And Russia would expand unimpeded at a glacial pace, except in times of periodic crisis when history would accelerate for the Kremlin.

This scenario has already been tried in history. It was the case with the Cossack Rebellion of 1648. First, the Cossacks, especially their leaders, who were Polish nobles usually of Ruthenian roots and mostly Orthodox faith, considered themselves faithful servants or the King of Poland and the Grand Duke of Lithuania, objecting “only” to the Parliament (Sejm) and the local magnates (most of them Ruthenians by ethnicity, and freshly converted to Roman Catholicism).   Then, the Cossacks asserted a de facto autonomy. They entered into direct relations with the Ottoman Porte and the Crimean Khan, and later with the Muscovites. They lacked the wherewithal to master this dynamic relationship; their attempts to reconcile with the Polish-Lithuanian-Ruthenian Commonwealth came to naught. And they were ultimately gobbled up by Moscow.

And, in the long run, that is the most likely scenario for Ukraine, whether it adheres to the Minsk accords or not.

The Minsk document adopted by the leaders of Ukraine, Germany, Russia, and France on Thursday calls for an «all-for-all» prisoner swap within five days after troops are pulled back in the eastern regions of Ukraine.

In your opinion, can this be carried through?

MJC: If there is political will in the Kremlin, it can be done. Thank God there is not enough bitterness yet among the fighters to prevent an “all for all” prisoner swap. However, even with good will in Moscow and Kyiv, there may be snags in the timetable. Five days is an awfully short time. Yet, it may be exactly what the doctors ordered: a leap of faith. The government forces withdraw without paying attention to what the other side is doing, and vice versa. It will have to be a huge leap of faith.

How would you evaluate the possibility of direct talks between Kiev and Eastern Ukraine?

MJC: They are slim, except on technical issues. Please remember that, although in a way brothers are fighting against brothers here, it is not a classical civil war because the center of the rebel command is in a foreign country: Russia. And we are not talking about a rebel eastern Ukrainian government in exile, we are talking about the master of the Kremlin: Vladimir Putin. He directs the battle. He is the commander-in-chief of the rebel forces.

What is the future of Russia-Ukraine military contacts?

MJC: I wish I could say peaceful. At both the tactical and strategic levels, the Russians play a crucial part in the unfolding drama. When they stop, peace shall prevail.

Should the administration reconsider arming Ukraine?

MJC: Sure. It is not often that a people want to defend themselves from an aggression from a foreign country. Usually, everyone expects the US to pull one’s chestnuts out of the fire.

Will US training program for the Ukrainian National Guard be effective, is it enough to change situation on the ground?

MJC: Tactical training will be effective. It will definitely boost the morale of the Ukrainian troops. It won’t change the situation on the ground, but, instead, it is a show of solidarity on the part of the White House. Thus it is a diplomatic tool to indicate to Russia that we are serious about helping Ukraine. I am afraid, however, that if it is not followed up with arms, it will be too little and too late.

Dr. Chodakiewicz lectures about Katyn at the Polish Museum of America

Katyn Truth RemembranceOn Sunday, February 8, Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz delivered an address at the Polish Museum of America in Chicago during the opening of the exhibition “Katyn: Truth and Remembrance.” The following is a summary of Dr. Chodakiewicz’s remarks.

The Katyn Forest Massacre, during which the Soviet NKVD killed 26,000 Polish officers and other members of Poland’s elite, is a symbol. First, it is a symbol of the pathology of twentieth-century totalitarianism with all its mass murder, deception, and willful blindness. Secondly, it is a symbol of martyrology and the extermination of the flower of Poland’s elite. A people without an elite struggle to remain a conscious nation but, instead, turn into passive “ethnographic material.”

Why should we remember Katyn? It is humans – not beasts – who remember and honor their dead. The Poles were not allowed properly to bury and mourn the victims of Katyn for half a century. Officially, they were not allowed to remember them. The natural or divine law was thus violated by positive or man-made law, in this case Soviet communist “law” (show trials, executions, terror, and censorship).

To remember is to know. Knowledge is indispensable to make informed decisions, and we learn from experience. We pass on knowledge from generation to the next. That is why tyrants have always attempted to kill memory, as did king Creon of Thebes in Sophocles’ Antigone. The heroine, who buried her brother’s body, in spite of Creon’s edict banning it, was reproached by the tyrant, who asked why she dared to disobey his laws. Antigone answered:

Yes, for it was not Zeus who gave them forth,
Nor Justice, dwelling with the Gods below,
Who traced these laws for all the sons of men;
Nor did I deem thy edicts strong enough,
Coming from mortal man, to set at nought
The unwritten laws of God that know not change.
They are not of to-day nor yesterday,
But live for ever, nor can man assign
When first they sprang to being. Not through fear
Of any man’s resolve was I prepared
Before the Gods to bear the penalty
Of sinning against these. That I should die
I knew, (how should I not?) though thy decree
Had never spoken. And, before my time
If I should die, I reckon this a gain;
For whoso lives, as I, in many woes,
How can it be but death shall bring him gain?
And so for me to bear this doom of thine
Has nothing painful. But, if I had left
My mother’s son unburied on his death,
I should have given them pain. But as things are,
Pain I feel none. And should I seem to thee
To have done a foolish deed, ‘tis simply this,-
I bear the charge of folly from a fool.

What do the totalitarians want to remember? Nothing! The Maoist cannibal, Joseph Kabila of the Congo, killed old people specifically because they shaped the young. In a pre-literate society it was a winning formula. After thirty years, he was able to capture power thanks to the amnesia he thus imposed on the masses.

What do we know? Katyn is just the tip of the iceberg. The Bolshevik mass-murder machine began operating as soon as the communists seized power in Russia in 1917. First, they targeted the Polish nobility of the eastern borderlands of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, followed by the intelligentsia, priests, social activists, and even boy and girl scouts. Then, during the so-called “liberal” 1920s in the USSR, the Bolshevik regime combated the Catholic Church and its lay followers. In 1929 – 1933, the Poles, and especially the petty nobility of the Minsk and Kyiv areas, was overrepresented among the victims of Stalin’s collectivization and finished-off during the “dekulakization” operation in 1935. As Dr. Tomasz Sommer has demonstrated in his book, the greatest peacetime genocide of the interwar period, the “Anti-Polish Operation” of the NKVD, was ordered by Stalin and the Politburo and lasted from August 1937 until November 1938. The Soviet chekists targeted ethnic Poles as alleged “spies” and even searched for Polish-sounding names in the phone books to fulfill the plan of extermination. As a result, up to 250,000 Soviet Poles – usually men between the ages of 16 and 65 – perished.

The deportations of Poles to Siberia and mass executions after 1939, including Katyn, were the logical continuation of this orgy of totalitarian madness. The postwar communist terror was its final chapter. Thus, for example, in August of 1945, during the Augustów Dragnet, the NKVD rounded up thousands of suspected Polish resistance fighters and killed many of them. The Poles continued to be the enemy nation. In fact, twice the number of NKVD regiments were stationed in the Soviet-occupied rump Poland after the war than were in the USSR’s occupation zone in East Germany.

The objective of all this was to destroy the Polish Nation via the extermination of the conscious broadly-understood elite! The people would become mere ethnographic material, like putty in the hands of the communist social engineers, not a nation.

Stalin and the Politburo considered Poland enemy number one long after it was warranted on the account of the Polish-Bolshevik War of 1919-1921. Why? Because the Poles were able to project a universalistic message, the power of the Commonwealth, to organize the Intermarium in a just and decent way. And this the successors of the communists, the Soviets, the successors to the empire of the Tsars, wanted to obliterate.

Yet, we did not forget. We remember. And now the whole world knows, ironically because of the Smolensk Presidential Plane Crash. All wires and dispatches in 2010 mentioned Katyn. When President Lech Kaczyński was buried at the Wawel Cathedral, the funeral was not only his own, but also (finally) a collective official one for the victims of Katyn. In the US Army, the rule is to “leave no man behind.” The same principle is honored by the Polish military and the Polish nation. To remember is not to leave behind.

Now that we know about Katyn, we can move forward. Nevertheless, historians and other concerned individuals must remain in the rear and resolve a few more issues. First, we must finally obtain the Belarussian Katyn List. Secondly, we must thoroughly research the anti-Polish operation of the NKVD (1937-1938). What we have so far is only an introduction to further research. Third, we must delve into the anti-Polish aspects of the Soviet democide of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Fourth, we must unearth the tragic fate of the Poles during the revolution and civil war in Russia (1917 – 1921). Fifth, we must zero in on Communist crimes after 1945. We owe it to the victims to remember.