It has often been said that the first casualty of war is truth, and Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of the part of Ukraine that minds him, is a firm adherent of the maxim.
The latest incident is a helicopter crash in Brovary, an eastern suburb of Kyiv. On board were fourteen people including the Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky, his deputy minister, and the state secretary. They are the highest ranking officials to have died in the war.
Mr. Zelenskyy promptly blamed the Russians, contending, “there are no accidents at wartime. These are all war results absolutely.” He was addressing the World Economic Forum in Davos via video link with his calls for assistance and added the news of the crash to bolster his case.
Witnesses said the war was to blame because there was no electricity and no lights on buildings and it was very foggy, reports the BBC. Apparently, key officials are flown by helicopter at tree-top level for fear of Russian missiles and such low flying comes with risks.
Mr. Monastyrsky was an important member of the Zelenskyy cabinet, and easily recognizable as he appeared fairly regularly on TV to report on casualties caused by missile strikes.
Mr. Zelenskyy’s shoot-from-the-hip approach also brooks no opposition. Viktor Medvedchuk is the principal opposition leader in Ukraine. His For-Life party was the largest opposition bloc, and it called for reconciliation with Russia and a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
Talk of peace is anathema to Zelenskyy so Medvedchuk was soon charged with treason and placed under house arrest. He managed to escape and went into exile. Elections there may be in Ukraine but a relatively honest and relatively civilized democracy (as in the West) it is not.
In the world as a whole, the peaceful transfer of power when a sitting government loses an election is a rarity. Not uncommon is for the winner to flee the country in fear of his life. A little further down the scale is the claim of fraud. Every election, Imran Khan, the present leader of the opposition in Pakistan, loses, has so many irregularities, according to him, that he has been denied a victory.
On the other side and now in power is Shahbaz Sharif. He and his brother Nawaz Sharif have been in politics for years until an accountability commission was formed to investigate corruption. Brother Nawaz fled to England and now is afraid to set foot in Pakistan for fear of arrest.
Not to worry. They are a business family with assets ensconced in the Middle East and elsewhere. Reputed to be worth billions, they clearly knew how to capitalize on their tenure.
Is that human nature? Greed for money and greed for power. With each following the other, it’s hard to tell which is worse. And all this in a country where devastating floods last summer have left millions homeless.