Zelensky's Martial Law Moves Do NOT Demonstrate He Is the "Hero of Democracy"
There's a huge disconnect between the image that's being portrayed of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the reality of his actions on the ground. Something's amiss.
Let's start the obligatory statement of my stance on Russia. They are our enemy. I condemn them for this invasion. I believe Vladimir Putin is a thug and an oppressor of people. His sins are greater than Zelensky's.
The Ukrainian people are under extreme duress. The Russian invasion has displaced at least ten million people, killed approximately a thousand citizens and a growing number of soldiers, and destroyed buildings across the nation. Cities have reportedly been leveled. It's understandable that President Volodymyr Zelensky would initiate martial law to try to keep some semblance of order in the midst of chaos.
But two of his actions over the weekend pertaining to martial law make absolutely no sense, at least for the benefit and safety of his people. It's only when we examine how the moves benefit his corrupt government that we realize why the press-proclaimed "hero of democracy" made these moves.
First, he consolidated all media outlets into a single state-run news provider. According to Reclaim The Net, he has established a "unified information policy":
Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, has signed an order that forces the combination of all national TV channels into one platform, citing the importance of a “unified information policy” under martial law. Reuters reported that this move comes as Ukraine is currently in the midst of a state of emergency due to Russia’s ongoing military attack on the country.
“Ukrainian privately owned media channels have hitherto continued to operate since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24,” the outlet reported, adding that it wasn’t yet known when this rule would start to be enforced.
Ukraine has four main public broadcasting channels, UA:First, UA:Culture, UA:Regional, and Rada TV. The move follows several changes to the media landscape that have come about as a result of the ongoing Russian invasion. Many countries have blocked Russian-state affiliated outlets such as Russia Today and Sputnik.
In February 2021, President Zelensky revoked the license to a handful of pro-Russian channels ZIK, NewsOne, and 112 Ukraine.
The original play to remove pro-Russian channels from the airwaves is somewhat justifiable. I completely disagree with it, but as an American who enjoys a free press whose only major drawback is massive progressive bias, it's easy for me to want to see all available news presented to the people. Shunning pro-Russian channels is counterproductive in my book, but at least a valid argument can be made for doing it during a time of war.
Consolidating all news under the government's thumb and sending out a unified message is extremely dangerous. It's not something that can be unwound easily when the war is over and I sincerely doubt they'll even try. Once power is taken by authoritarians, wresting it back is very challenging in a free country, let alone one as corrupt as Ukraine.
The second move has absolutely zero justification in a so-called "democracy." As Sundance described at The Conservative Treehouse:
Following the ‘democracy must be destroyed in order to preserve it model‘, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has dissolved all political opposition parties and consolidated all media.
There’s a word to describe when a single national leader takes control over all media platforms and dissolves the political parties of his opposition. However, apparently, we are not allowed to notice that because Russia “invaded a sovereign democracy” or something.
This move must not be dismissed because it is not a temporary solution for their current needs. In fact, it does absolutely nothing to harm Russia itself and adds even more fuel to Vladimir Putin's fire. Just as with consolidating state-run media to a single source, disbanding political opposition is not something that can be reversed once the crisis subsides. Zelensky has used the cover of the war to consolidate his own stranglehold over power in the nation.
Both of these moves are not done by someone who is championing freedom, democracy, or anti-corruption principles. These are the moves of a tyrant, and they explain a lot about why Zelensky has failed spectacularly at ending the conflict.
As I said before, Putin's sins are greater than Zelensky's. This is his war and the end result will be squarely on him.
With that said, Zelensky's sins are more nuanced but should not be minimized for the sake of blasting Russia and Putin. In many ways, Zelensky is helping Russia either take Ukraine or start WWIII by not doing what it takes to bring this conflict to an end. If Zelensky were the statesman and "hero of democracy" that corporate media sells him as, then he would have done two things already.
First, he would have negotiated the exact terms that would compel Putin to end the invasion. If those terms were acceptable, the war would be over. If they were not acceptable, then Zelensky should have gone to the international community with details of his terms so he could demonstrate Russia as being completely unreasonable.
But he hasn't done that, and there's a reason for it. Zelensky isn't done with the war. He still has moves to make, Zoom meetings to attend, and videos to release to the world. He's building up his reputation and he loves it. No, I'm not accusing him of intentionally prolonging the war. I am accusing him of not taking the proper steps to end it. Either he's an idiot (he's not) or he's a narcissist who loves the spotlight and the nearly universal praise he's receiving from the whole world.
Zelensky will make his rounds on the international stage. He will make moves at home that consolidate his power. He will push the "war of attrition" narrative to force losses on Russia's military and his own people while attracting Western powers to intervene. And when it's all over, he'll have either helped start WWIII by not stopping Russia when he had the chance or he will be victorious and become the most popular man in the world. That's his plan and the vast majority of people seem to be playing along perfectly.