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INTERVIEW/Journalist says Ukraine, Taiwan defend democracy against imperialism

07/03/2024 08:56 PM
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Ukrainian journalist Maksym Eristavi. Photo: CNA
Ukrainian journalist Maksym Eristavi. Photo: CNA

Taipei, July 3 (CNA) A Ukrainian journalist visiting Taiwan has said both his country and Taiwan are holding the line for democracy against imperialism.

Maksym Eristavi, who is known for promoting global awareness of Russian aggression, told CNA that there is a shared understanding between people in Taiwan and Ukraine that they are the "last standing line between neo-imperialism and democracy."

"If both Taiwan and Ukraine fall, there's going to be no stopping from completely reshaping the way the world looks and operates," Eristavi said during an interview on Wednesday.

He believes that there should be more exchanges between Ukraine and Taiwan, and he is pleased that more "bridges" are being built between the two democracies since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Eristavi emphasized that Ukrainians have a limited understanding of Taiwan and the east Asia region, and have been deeply influenced in their outlook by Chinese propaganda, which he believes is as powerful and effective as Russian propaganda -- and "maybe much more well-funded."

"So I wish there are more human connections, more people coming, sharing their stories, learning more to see Asia, east Asia, Taiwan, without the filter of imperial Chinese propaganda."

Eristavi was invited to Taiwan to speak at Monday's international forum on challenges and solutions relating to the modern news industry organized by CNA to mark its 100th anniversary.

On this his first trip to Taiwan, the Ukrainian journalist told CNA that he instantly fell in love with Taiwan and he "feels weirdly at home."

Although Taiwan's Ukrainian community of roughly 300 people is relatively small, people from both countries have a "shared understanding" insofar as they both live next to a "massive empire" that is several times larger, wealthier and possesses nuclear weapons, Eristavi explained.

Referring to the broader struggle between democracy and authoritarianism, Eristavi said, "it is just impossible to win the war on your own, you need as many friends as possible to ensure that there is a united front."

Eristavi is looking for potential publishers to publish a Chinese-language edition of his recently published book "Russian Colonialism 101."

According to the author, the illustrated work aims to promote global awareness of the history of Russian colonialism, which he argues existed long before the country's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Eristavi created the book in collaboration with a group of Ukrainian artists to highlight the "48 invasions" that Russia has launched against Ukraine over the past one-hundred years.

"It's not just Putin's war," said the journalist. "It's a serial behavior by many consecutive regimes in Russia that follows the same ideology of ruling and dominating."

Eristavi told CNA that his 94-year-old grandmother lived through the Holodomor genocide, World War Two, the Nazi occupation -- and now the ongoing full-scale invasion by Russia.

"She often says like, I survived Stalin, I survived Hitler, and I intend to survive Putin as well."

According to Eristavi, these episodes in Russian history are all "interconnected" and "parts of the same struggle" for freedom and democracy.

Asked to comment on the authoritarian strategies China uses against Tibet, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Eristavi admitted that he is not an expert on China, but he has learned from frequent travels around the world that "colonialism and imperialism is not something that is unique to certain geography, certain parts of the world."

He believes that the best countermeasure to such an oppressive system is to learn more about one's own personal and family history because "one of the most prominent features of any imperialism and colonialism is robbing you of your own story, and robbing you of your own memories."

(By Joseph Yeh)


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