Act Now to Save Ukrainian Peace Activist from Prosecution

By David Swanson, World BEYOND War, September 14, 2023

We’ve just learned that the office of the prosecutor and the “security service” of Ukraine have published press releases claiming to have put a stop to the activities of the “vicious Russian propagandist Yurii Sheliazhenko.”

This is, of course, very strange because Yurii, a Board Member of World BEYOND War, has — like World BEYOND War — denounced and opposed Russian warmaking from Day 1.

Yurii Sheliazhenko has been formally charged by the Ukrainian government with the crime of justifying Russian aggression. The evidence is this statement which explicitly condemns Russian aggression.

Next week, Yurii will face prosecution in Kyiv, and members of World BEYOND War will be there to deliver a petition — please sign it now! — asking that the prosecution be dropped. If you can get to Kyiv next week and support Yurii, please contact us.

This week, spokesperson for the Ukrainian military’s “Territorial Defense Forces” Sarah Ashton-Cirillo published a video that included the following words (but you really have to watch it to experience the psychotic, beyond-parody presentation):

“Next week the teeth of the Russian devils will gnash ever harder, and their rabid mouths will foam an uncontrollable frenzy as the world will see a favorite Kremlin propagandist pay for their crimes. And this puppet of Putin is only the first. Russia’s war criminal propagandists will all be hunted down and justice will be served.”

We have no way of knowing whether the “favorite Kremlin propagandist” is a humble peace activist who has never had anything to do with the Kremlin, and has condemned Russian warmaking over and over again as immoral, criminal, and reprehensible.

But the U.S. public recently lived through years of being told that a U.S. president who was extremely hostile to Russia was Russia’s servant. Donald Trump sold weapons to Ukraine, blocked Russian energy deals, forced NATO members to buy more weapons, continued the militarization of the border of Russia, sanctioned and expelled Russian officials, rejected numerous Russian overtures on space weapons, cyber wars, etc., bombed Russian troops in Syria, and generally escalated the new cold war. And rather than seeking to protect the planet, what did the “opposition” in the United States Congress do? They pretended that Trump was serving Russian interests because he’d been urinated on. So don’t tell me that blaming a pacifist for a military invasion is too crazy for a government run by a sitcom star and employing the young woman in the video above.

In addition, those of us who oppose both sides of wars are well aware that each side finds such a position incomprehensible and therefore the equivalent of supporting the other side. World BEYOND War receives masses of accusations of supporting each side of this war, even though we’ve created a huge online resource to explain why and how to oppose all sides of all wars.

Yurii Sheliazhenko is, in my experience, a man of the highest character. He has for years volunteered as an active board member of an organization of which I am executive director, World BEYOND War. In many collaborations and events with global participants, Yurii has always been wise, principled, honest, reliable, cheerful, humble, and fearless. Ukraine could hardly ask for a better representative.

Yurii, of course, takes a principled stand against warmaking, believing — as I do — that there are choices other than, and superior to, those of waging war or lying down and surrendering to someone else waging war. Yurii not only believes this but works diligently at explaining it to others. This may make him a poor member of a military, but it makes him an excellent member of a democracy — that thing that militaries are always claiming to be fighting for.

Self-governance is not possible without people who are willing to nonviolently and cooperatively stand by their beliefs and work to persuade or be persuaded by others through dialogue rather than violence. Particularly necessary are people who, when they believe their government to be in the wrong, work to improve it rather than turn against it — people to whom the idea would never even occur of backing some other government against their own. This is the sort of person the world is fortunate to have in Yurii Sheliazhenko.

11 Responses

  1. Free Yuri! He has not done what the Government of Ukraine has claimed. He poses no danger What is Ukraine fighting for if not to protect the right of decent if it truly wants a democratic system?

  2. As you say David, Ukraine could hardly ask for a better representative – given his message is little different from other Ukrainian and Western propagandists for NATO’s war on Russian-speaking Donbas and Crimea. He has more credibility than most and I don’t doubt his sincerity, compared with the bloke in a wig with identity issues in the video above. But WBW needs to realise that there is no possibility of ‘peace’ until the West accepts the democratically expressed and legitimate demands of the Russian-speaking population for autonomy and independence. Continuing to supply Kiev with more and more weapons while it launches terrorist assaults on Russian territory, with CIA and MI6 help is our government’s choice, and what you should all be campaigning against.

  3. where is west govt/media???this is the fulcrum of democracy–fighting the good fight??this war
    becomes more unhinged every day–the people of ukraine are subjected to horrors–inflicted by their own govt–plus the russian forces–this must stop–you dont win wars by destroying freedoms in your own country–zelensky is totally unhinged-threats to europe-threats to kill any who sdpeak what he deems wrong-hes as much a war criminal as putin/biden/boris/et al-we all must contact the so called congress/wh to demand an end to this-peace activists are on gtrial???madmen/psychopaths must be removed from office and brought to account for their crimes

  4. Why is the only answer in most men’s (and even some women’s) minds in a discussion of war vs. peace is that to seek peace is to lose? It cannot be further from the truth.

    In my way of belief the true nature of humankind is to be ‘kind humans’! What could be simpler than that? If we are busy being kind (meaning considerate of all people’s needs and desires for a life ‘at peace’, then conflict (war) has no place in the discussion.

    To prosecute a peace-maker is to step on one’s own foot, for if you see all of life as simply Divine Energy (peace at the core), then everything is connected. There is only ONE, so what you put out is returned back to you 1000-fold. Why would you do that? It simply makes no sense!

    1. Hi Joanne. Your words express the beauty in your heart. I agree with your statement that everything is connected and part of the ONE whole of Life, however I’m not sure where you are getting your idea that “what you put out is returned back to you 1000-fold”. That doesn’t seem to be a fair use of justice, considering that most of humanity is acting from a very limited perspective and therefore we make many mistakes due to our ignorance of the effects our actions have and sometimes the indifference we have learned to feel. It seems to me that until we can rise above this lower level of consciousness that is based on our human egos and primitive survival instincts there is little prospect of peace and harmony on the wider human scale. The question is how can we facilitate the rise in human consciousness so that kindness and compassion are always foremost in our minds? We must actively promote the concepts of goodness and kindness in all our interactions and within our larger communities. I have found this to be difficult even within my own mind, much less trying to influence the minds of others. However, I think it is mostly a matter of teaching and learning to act as our Higher selves.

      The problem of war(s) is obviously one of the most difficult things to solve, because once a war has started it becomes a type of insanity that is hard for most to escape as their very survival is at stake. I am praying that this nightmare of insanity between Russia and Ukraine will come to an end soon and that the outcome will be a renewed effort to maintain a permanent peace for both sides.

  5. I like this man. I think he is a peace loving guy.

    The narrative selling this war to the countries that supply weapons is that Ukraine is defending democracy. Democracy requires free speech. If the world sees a nice person like this punished for disagreeing, that makes Kiev seem undemocratic and the people funding the war are liable to ask themselves, “why are we providing the weaponry to defend Ukraine’s democracy when they don’t actually have one?”

    He is a human being who happens to disagree with you. Please just let him go.

  6. It is often said that “Truth is the first casualty of war.” We must stop this persecution of a principled, peac-loving truth-teller!

  7. The comments on the alleged lies about Trump is congruent with Putin claiming that Trump is being persecuted. There are hundreds of political prisoners in Russia some of which my wife and I have written letters to. And then there is Navalny. It seems to me that a side is drastically being chosen by World Beyond War.

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