Ukraine’s National Memory Institute has been a favorite target of the Russian propaganda machine since its creation in 2009. Many fakes about the Institute have been circulated over the years and a recent article on the pro-Kremlin site News-Front repeats these narratives and creates some new ones for good measure. Accordingly, the Institute does not only “sow seeds of discord in the country” but is responsible for the deaths of Ukraine’s military because “the Institute and similar organizations cultivate emotions in people that do not lead to longevity”.
The News-Front story claims that Ukraine’s National Memory Institute
- serves as a cover to allow manipulative journalists to gain access to secret information or to pass it on to foreign countries
- does not rehabilitate those who innocently suffered but rather those who were justly punished by Soviet courts for their despicable treachery
- juggles archival documents to create pseudo-historical fakes
- the Institute’s goal is to provoke bouts of irrational hatred in society and maintain that hatred at a proper level.
The article also claims that National Memory Institute’s policies are leading to the deaths of many soldiers because the Institute sows negative emotions in people, thereby preventing longevity. “The Institute, stirring up conflict around this so-called national memory, is doing everything so that there is no more peace or joy in Ukraine” News-Front concludes.
Ukraine’s National Memory Institute is part of the executive government branch. Established back in 2010 under President Viktor Yanukovych, the Institute is a research organization under the auspices of the Cabinet of Ministers and is financed from the state budget.
- Executing government policies concerning the renewal and preservation of the Ukrainian people’s national memory,
- Perpetuating the memory of those who struggled for Ukraine’s independence and fought in wars, the victims of the Holodomor famine and Soviet repressions
- Debunking historical myths
- Instilling patriotism, national awareness and an active civic position in Ukraine’s citizens.
The Institute publishes annual reports of its work and activities. The 2018 report is available here.
As for the Ukrainian National Memory Institute’s alleged responsibility for the deaths of Ukrainian soldiers, it is important to point out that the main reason that Ukrainian soldiers are dying is because Russia is conducting a war against Ukraine in the Donbas.
According to Ukraine’s Memorial Book in which Ukrainian military killed in the war are recorded, 4,125 soldiers were killed as of May 7, 2019. Sadly, new names are added to the list nearly every day as are civilians killed. The death toll from Russia’s war against Ukraine has surpassed 13,000.
The News Front article claims that Ukrainian veterans returning from the war in the east are already plagued by Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, which in turn is compounded by “emotions that do not lead to longevity”. These emotions are, of course, cultivated by Ukraine’s National Memory Institute and other similar organizations, according to News Front.
Post-traumatic stress has existed as long as man has waged war. It was even recorded in antiquity, although it was not called PTSD then. Psychologists note that the disorder is partly a normal reaction of the human psyche and body to the traumatic situation experienced, however, not all soldiers returning from war, suffer from PTSD.
Ukraine is addressing the psychological trauma many returning veterans experience. In October 2019 Lifeline Ukraine, a national, professional, suicide prevention and mental health support helpline was launched. The former acting Minister of Health Ulana Suprun said that during the first week of the Line’s operation, 52 appeals for help were received.
According to the World Population Review the top five countries with the highest suicide rates are Lithuania, Russia, Guyana, South Korea and Belarus.