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by
Oleg Atbashian

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August 21, 2014 - 12:06 am
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This Wednesday morning, August 20th, as the sun lit up the spires of bombastic Stalin-era high-rises in the heart of Russia’s capital, residents of a historical downtown district noticed a large flag of Ukraine fluttering over one such spire, atop a large golden star.

atbashian_image_8-20-14-3

The top of the star had also been repainted light-blue to resemble the Ukrainian flag (the original hammer and sickle emblem in the middle remained unharmed, though). A resident of a nearby building was able to catch the perpetrator on camera as the man completed his stunt by jumping off the 560 foot tall spire with a parachute and disappearing in the pre-dawn emptiness of the city.

It’s hard to say what was more daring: to risk a deadly fall during the stunt, or to deface the iconic Stalinist spire, which continues to symbolize Russia’s imperial ambitions — and to raise the blue-and-yellow “enemy” flag over Moscow at a time of war, when all of Russia is seething with anti-Ukrainian anger as the official propaganda continues to whip the crowds into a supremacist frenzy by comparing its aggression against Ukraine with the “Great Patriotic War” against Nazi Germany.

Hatred of all things Ukrainian in today’s Russia is universal — it extends from Ukrainian-made chocolates to Ukrainian music and Ukrainian people, who are now called by a newly invented ethnic slur “ukrop,” which translates as “dill” — with the dehumanizing implication that Ukrainians are nothing more than vegetables destined to be chopped into salad.

A special kind of hatred is reserved for the emblems of Ukrainian statehood, which symbolize the country’s independence from the imperial Big Brother — the historical blue-and-yellow flag and the tryzub — the ancient ornamental trident from the times of Kievan Rus — which today’s Kremlin propaganda absurdly compares to the swastika.

Under these circumstances, falling into the hands of a frothing supremacist mob might be not much different than falling from the top of a Stalinist spire.

According to Moscow police, a group of perpetrators had apparently sneaked into the building at night through a service entrance and climbed up the service stairs to the roof unnoticed. They must have been also carrying a large flag, a load of spray paint cans, and climbing equipment which they used to scale the spire and get on top of the star.

The authorities declared a citywide manhunt for anyone seen carrying mountain-climbing equipment. The hunt resulted in the detention of four local residents — two men and two women in their mid-twenties — who are denying their involvement. In the meantime, a Russian blogger disclosed the name of the daredevil as Grigory — a young man from Ukraine who engages in the extreme sport of “roofing.” He is known on  Facebook and Twitter as Wanted Mustang and has a website filled with vertigo-inducing images of himself standing or hanging from the highest points of buildings, bridges, and spires around the world.

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“This young man walked the streets of Moscow in a T-shirt with the Ukrainian coat of arms. He is quite famous in the ‘roofer’ circles. He is a citizen of Ukraine. I met him Saturday by accident, he said he wanted to take a walk on the roofs of Moscow, pay a visit to the Stalinist high-rises, and climb on top of the star because it must be beautiful up there,” wrote the blogger, adding that Grigory supports Ukraine’s fight against the Russia-sponsored separatists and is thinking of joining the volunteer army in Kiev.

On his Facebook page, Grigory wrote that he had already been to the war-torn eastern Ukraine in April to videotape the fighting for a Ukrainian TV channel, admitting that the body armor he was given turned out to be too uncomfortable and so he traveled without it.

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Top Rated Comments   
It could have been worse. They could have painted it look like Ronald McDonald like the Bulgarians did.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
That is a brave man.
If he gets caught, he'll be lynched. And not necessarily by the ultranationalist activists. Any modern Russian crowd would do it.
The level of rabid support for Putin's empire building is astonishing to me. I don't recall seeing anything close to that back in the 70s and 80s. Granted, people were quite cynical back then. Maybe they lost that quality by now.
At the same time they are expanding into Georgia and Ukraine, they truly believe they are under attack, and swallow this "Great Patriotic War" style propaganda hook, line and sinker. Everything that is against them is called fascist.
Getting rid of opposition media helps, of course.

Putin really has them sewn up.

I believe we are in for some truly interesting (read: frightening) times.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (7)
All Comments   (7)
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Yes, this was a neat propaganda coup. But it doesn't look so sunny in the field, I'm afraid. I haven't seen much in the Western press about the following:

Pro-Russian separatists have hit two Ukrainian helicopters, downing one, with fire from portable missiles in the Luhansk region, a source within the Ukrainian military has said in confirming a statement by the "South-East Army". It was unclear whether the other crashed.

In addition to that, the Ukrainians are admitting that another Sukhoi Su-25 assault aircraft has been downed. The pilot is said to have ejected, but is reported missing. http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/08/20/376031/ukrainian-jet-fighter-downed-in-east/

During the last three weeks, it is asserted that ninety percent of all Ukrainian air force sorties over Donbas ended with a downing of the involved aircraft, an alarming situation for the Ukrainians.

Whatever the whatever the percentage may be, what's significant is that the Ukrainian forces have effectively lost air supremacy. And, as we have seen so recently in Iraq, without that, defeating an insurgency is immeasurably more difficult.

That may explain the ongoing battle for the small town of Ilovaisk on the outskirts of Donetsk. Variously reported as captured and in separatist hands, it seems to be the focus of intense fighting, with nothing as yet resolved.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
What a great story. God bless Grigory and his friends. Yes, he's Ukranian, but many young Russians too have this kind of grace and audacity. What a shame that Putin is using these paranoia inducing propaganda tactics. Have the poor Russian citizens even had a chance to reconnect with reality since the USSR ended 23 years ago.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
It could have been worse. They could have painted it look like Ronald McDonald like the Bulgarians did.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
The four braves are under arrest now and they risk to get 7 years of prison. For what exactly?
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Have they been accurately identified? Innocent until proven guilty, you know.

The intelligent defacer would have abandoned the equipment at the site, and vanished as a completely innocuous looking civilian.

I don't think the people who did this are dumb.

I admire their guts and audacity, and hope they got away clean. Shouldn't have been hard to do at all. If you can pull this off, you can probably figure out how to escape ...
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Part of me says it is for thumbing their noses at Putin.

However, this is vandalism. Workers had to endanger their lives to clean up this mess, and the state had to pay for it.

What if one of them had had an accident and was seriously injured or killed? What if one of the merry pranksters had been inured or killed?

It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

(Man, I hate getting old and crotchety.)

*shaking cane* Get offa' my lawn, ya' damn kids!
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
That is a brave man.
If he gets caught, he'll be lynched. And not necessarily by the ultranationalist activists. Any modern Russian crowd would do it.
The level of rabid support for Putin's empire building is astonishing to me. I don't recall seeing anything close to that back in the 70s and 80s. Granted, people were quite cynical back then. Maybe they lost that quality by now.
At the same time they are expanding into Georgia and Ukraine, they truly believe they are under attack, and swallow this "Great Patriotic War" style propaganda hook, line and sinker. Everything that is against them is called fascist.
Getting rid of opposition media helps, of course.

Putin really has them sewn up.

I believe we are in for some truly interesting (read: frightening) times.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
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