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|The Far Right Forces in Ukraine||Suppression of Russian language and culture in Ukraine||Ukraine's oligarchs||Galicia -- Ukrainian Benghazi, Lvov declares autonomy from Ukraine on February 19||Russian Ukrainian Gas wars||Ukrainian orange revolution|
|Events of November 30 and aftermath||SBU raid on Kiev Batkivshchina office||Revolt of diplomats||Nulandgate||EU-brokered agreement on ending crisis||To whom EuroMaidan Sharp-shooters belong?|
|Forming Provisional government||Accession of Crimea to Russia||Odessa Massacre of May 2, 2014||Mariupol, May 9 events||Lugansk air bombardment||Presidential Elections of May 25. 2014|
|Compradors||Fifth column||NGOs as braintrust of color revolutions||Resurgence of ideology of neo-fascism||Totalitarian Decisionism & Human Rights: The Re-emergence of Nazi Law||Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair|
|Delegitimization of Ruling Party||Neoliberal Propaganda||Opposition as a way to get rid of feeling of inferiority||Human right activists or globalism fifth column||Exploiting "Revolutionary Romantics" as polit-technology||The art of manufacturing of prisoners of consciousness|
|Two Party System as polyarchy||The Guardian Slips Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment||Fighting Russophobia||Foreign Agents Registration Act||Russian Fifth column Humor||Etc|
Among the best finds of this month are
In this wide-ranging interview, John Batchelor speaks with NYU Professor of Russian History Stephen F. Cohen about the violent turn of Kiev’s street protests and terrorist threats at the Sochi Olympics. According to Cohen, US officials maintain an overly simplified view of the Ukraine protests, failing to differentiate between the pro-EU and ultranationalist factions, and their interference is exacerbating tensions between Russia and the United States. Cohen said, “As this Western/Russian standoff grows into a full-scale confrontation, it spills over and spoils the opportunities for cooperation in Syria, on Iran and at the Sochi Olympics.”
For more on the unfolding situation in Kiev, listen to Cohen’s interview on KPFA 94.1’s Letters and Politics.
Stephen, have you noticed the similarities between what is happening today in the Ukraine and what happened in the run up to the war against Qaddafi in Libya and the ongoing war against Assad in Syria? One of the common links is the willingness of the U.S. government under Obama to recognize so-called "opposition forces" as the legitimate governments of those countries prior to their assuming power with the help of the U.S.
This is being repeated in the Ukraine, where the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and its allied operatives of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the George Soros Open Society Institute are backing the themed, astro-turf protests of the pro-EU Blue Buckets organized by the CIA and Britain's MI6
The interview suggest that the USA has had a detailed, multi-step plan of Yanukovich replacement modeled on Orange Revolution (essentially high level pressure to neutralize Ukrainian security services (which were completely infiltrated and made subservient during Yushchenko presidency) and force Yanukovich to resign with the promise of preserving large part of fis financial assets). With detailed set of actions that are needed to accomplish that and the set of figures (marionettes like "lybi druzi of Yushchenko mint) for the new government. Moreover Yanukovich itself was a supporting actor in the coup against himself as it looks like he was controlled by Washington since days of Color Revolution. Also he continued supporting far right forces (the policy initialed by his predecessor Victor Yushchenko) in hope that they will weaken his main political opponent Yulia Timoshenko. Who to counter this pressure (with her Batkivshchina party) moved to the right and entered into political alliance with Svoboda party. This alliance later was the key instrument in bringing Yanukovich down (using bayonets of Right Sector, which essentially is a militant wing of Svoboda) and two members of Batkivshchina leadership got two highest positions in junta (aka Provisional Government of Ukraine).
Other notable finds were:
|May 2014||April 2014||March 2014||February 2014||January 2014||December 2013||November 2013|
It's easy to pretend to be a great strategist,
while sitting on the top of the hill,
at the safe distance from the battle in the valley
We've been here before. For the past couple of months street protests in Ukraine have been played out through the western media according to a well-rehearsed script. Pro-democracy campaigners are battling an authoritarian government. The demonstrators are demanding the right to be part of the European Union. But Russia's president Vladimir Putin has vetoed their chance of freedom and prosperity.
It's a story we've heard in one form or another again and again – not least in Ukraine's western-backed Orange revolution a decade ago. But it bears only the sketchiest relationship to reality. EU membership has never been – and very likely never will be – on offer to Ukraine. As in Egypt last year, the president that the protesters want to force out was elected in a poll judged fair by international observers. And many of those on the streets aren't very keen on democracy at all.
You'd never know from most of the reporting that far-right nationalists and fascists have been at the heart of the protests and attacks on government buildings. One of the three main opposition parties heading the campaign is the hard-right antisemitic Svoboda, whose leader Oleh Tyahnybok claims that a "Moscow-Jewish mafia" controls Ukraine. But US senator John McCain was happy to share a platform with him in Kiev last month. The party, now running the city of Lviv, led a 15,000-strong torchlit march earlier this month in memory of the Ukrainian fascist leader Stepan Bandera, whose forces fought with the Nazis in the second world war and took part in massacres of Jews.
So in the week that the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army was commemorated as Holocaust Memorial Day, supporters of those who helped carry out the genocide are hailed by western politicians on the streets of Ukraine. But Svoboda has now been outflanked in the protests by even more extreme groups, such as "Right Sector", who demand a "national revolution" and threaten "prolonged guerrilla warfare".
Not that they have much time for the EU, which has been pushing Ukraine to sign an association agreement, offering loans for austerity, as part of a German-led drive to open up Ukraine for western companies. It was Viktor Yanukovych's abandonment of the EU option – after which Putin offered a $15bn bailout – that triggered the protests.
But Ukrainians are deeply divided about both European integration and the protests – largely along an axis between the largely Russian-speaking east and south (where the Communist party still commands significant support), and traditionally nationalist western Ukraine. Industry in the east is dependent on Russian markets, and would be crushed by EU competition.
It's that historic fault line at the heart of Ukraine that the west has been trying to exploit to roll back Russian influence since the 1990s, including a concerted attempt to draw Ukraine into Nato. The Orange revolution leaders were encouraged to send Ukrainian troops into Iraq and Afghanistan as a sweetener.
Nato's eastward expansion was halted by the Georgian war of 2008 and Yanukovych's later election on a platform of non-alignment. But any doubt that the EU's effort to woo Ukraine is closely connected with western military strategy was dispelled today by Nato's secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who declared that the abortive pact with Ukraine would have been "a major boost to Euro-Atlantic security".
Which helps to explain why politicians like John Kerry and William Hague have been so fierce in their condemnation of Ukrainian police violence – which has already left several dead – while maintaining such studied restraint over the killing of thousands of protesters in Egypt since last year's coup.
Not that Yanukovych could be mistaken for any kind of progressive. He has been backed to the hilt by billionaire oligarchs who seized control of resources and privatised companies after the collapse of the Soviet Union – and fund opposition politicians and protesters at the same time. Indeed, one interpretation of the Ukrainian president's problems is that the established oligarchs have had enough of favours granted to an upstart group known as "the family".
It's anger at this grotesque corruption and inequality, Ukraine's economic stagnation and poverty that has brought many ordinary Ukrainians to join the protests – as well as outrage at police brutality. Like Russia, Ukraine was beggared by the neoliberal shock therapy and mass privatisation of the post-Soviet years. More than half the country's national income was lost in five years and it has yet fully to recover.
But nor do the main opposition and protest leaders offer any kind of genuine alternative, let alone a challenge to the oligarchy that has Ukraine in its grip. Yanukovych has now made sweeping concessions to the protesters: sacking the prime minister, inviting opposition leaders to join the government and ditching anti-protest laws passed earlier this month.
Whether that calms or feeds the unrest will be clear soon enough. But the risk of the conflict spreading – leading political figures have warned of civil war – is serious. There are other steps that could help defuse the crisis: the creation of a broad coalition government, a referendum on EU relations, a shift from a presidential to a parliamentary system and greater regional autonomy.
The breakup of Ukraine would not be a purely Ukrainian affair. Along with China's emerging challenge to US domination of east Asia, the Ukrainian faultine has the potential to draw in outside powers and lead to a strategic clash. Only Ukrainians can overcome this crisis. Continuing outside interference is both provocative and dangerous.
And there was me thinking the BBC and other mainstream outlets had made it perfectly clear that Ukraine is very divided, that the opposition does not present a unified movement with a clear program, and that the protests include violent far-right elements.
Must've imagined that coverage, unless the author is just following his usual game of trying to twist anything and everything round to somehow blaming "the West" (presumably he's still sore about the collapse of his beloved USSR).
Swedinburgh -> andyman85
Oh have they indeed? Most mainstream outlets have been going gaga about Vitaliy Klitschko's involvement as a spokesman for the opposition and kept the likes of Svoboda well out of sight.
JoeProp11 -> andyman85
Quite right. And I'm not aware of any media talking about EU membership for Ukraine, this is just something that ignorant people assume because they have no real knowledge of how the EU works. All the info is out there if people want to read it.
I read this article like this author's previous work: everyone is awful, "the West" (as if we are all represented by failed presidential candidate McCain) are the most awful, blah blah blah. Tiresome.
Like Russia, Ukraine was beggared by the neoliberal shock therapy and mass privatisation of the post-Soviet years
It was looting, pure and simple - the theft of assets worked for and paid for by the people.
nonanon1 -> spiralpad
I'm no friend of neoliberalism but what went on in Ukraine and Russia was larceny on grand scale. Ukrainians look to Europe as an alternative to the Russian kleptocratic model of all pervasive corruption, violations of human rights, obscene inequalities and democracy which is nothing more than a crumblig facade.
They look at other post soviet block countries, such as Poland, where by the way the shock theraphy was also applied post 1989, and see that democratic and relatively prosperous future is possible. There is geopolitics and unsavory faces of ukrainian nationalism but peoples aspirations studiously ignored by the author are real enough.
PapaQuebec -> nonanon1
Ukrainians look to Europe as an alternative to the Russian kleptocratic model of all pervasive corruption, violations of human rights, obscene inequalities and democracy which is nothing more than a crumblig facade.
Does the phrase "Physician, heal thyself" not come to mind?
terziev -> nonanon1
Alternative? I am Bulgarian citizen, EU member from 2007. We have 'kleptocratic model of all pervasive corruption' with French, Austrian, US and even Russian corporations championing it.
God! (not you, though, Seumas) It's so good to read a sensible article about this affair. I started to wonder if, and I too came to think of Egypt, if people are completely mad when they so fullheartedly embrace any uproar and any demonstration against 'The Government'.
Only Ukrainians can overcome this crisis. Continuing outside interference is both provocative and dangerous.
That is the best that I have ever heard about this and the reason is that it seems that both the EU and the USA are jumping up at every opportunity to meddle and bring 'order' to other countries, despite that hard experience should tell us that so far our meddling has brought many things but peace and order aren't among them.
This is an excellent article. These so called "protests" are a nationalistic coup and as such primarily anti-Russian rather than pro-European as these extremests are cynically claiming.
That's why the "protests" will not end until Yanukovich resigns even if he offers further concessions and that is why the West is so keen for the protest and violence to continue. Putin should abolish the promised bailout and then those "democrats" committing the acts of violence should explain the Ukrainians why their beloved EU is not helping!
Milne's commentary is spot on as usual. He has pinpointed the fact that the neoliberal expansionist forces are not averse to using outright fascists in their effort to destabilise the situation. The "received wisdom" won't accept this. Instead, professional lackeys such as Fogh Rasmussen and thugs such as McCain are there inciting another conflagration.
Bearing in mind that Europe embarked on a terrible conflict nearly one hundred years ago in circumstances that bear some analogy to this fracas, should not the Westminster Parliament be setting aside time to reflect upon where this might be taking us all.
Its not something to be left to either the Commission or State Department to decide as regards our own involvement nor for that matter our own Foreign Office whose recent track record is looking distinctly lacking in sure footedness.
RozinaAndrewGWood -> Rozina
There are other steps that could help defuse the crisis: the creation of a broad coalition government, a referendum on EU relations, a shift from a presidential to a parliamentary system and greater regional autonomy.
President Yanukovych did offer Batkivshchyna Party leader Arseny Yatseniuk the position of Prime Minister which the other man refused. Probably no wonder then that the current PM Mykola Azarov resigned.
As for greater regional autonomy, that would not necessarily benefit Ukraine as a whole: there are many factors that don't encourage pan-Ukrainian cohesiveness. The eastern and southern parts of the country (which support Yanukovych's Party of Regions) are more industrially developed and have higher percentages of Russian speakers among their populations; the western parts (pro-Orange / Euro Maidan protests) are poorer and more nationalist, and have a diaspora population that supports a nationalist agenda and might be interfering in Ukrainian politics. The western and eastern parts don't have much in common to begin with and regional autonomy is likely to lead to a permanent split.
The eastern part probably subsidises the western part and might be happy to see the west split off and become the EU's ready supply of unskilled low-wage white slave migrant labour, prostitutes and mercenaries for future wars in distant lands.
A split would create problems - one such being which part of Ukraine gets Kyiv as its capital (we see this problem elsewhere with, for example, Jerusalem being claimed in its entirety by Israel and in its eastern part by Palestinians) - and there would be no guarantee that either part would be content with its territory and would try to subvert the government of the other part on spurious historical or cultural grounds to "reunite" Ukraine.
Shifting from a presidential system to a parliamentary system might just be a another way of re-arranging the SS Titanic's deck-chairs in the current Ukrainian context. The UK's current Westminster system of parliamentary politics didn't exactly stop Tony Blair from developing delusions of grandeur.Jeremn -> AndrewGWood
Poland has a GDP per capita three times that of Ukraine as a whole and the Western Ukrainians know this. They believe that with better government and as part of an EU they would be better off then they are now.
I know many people from western Ukraine, they are intelligent and well educated and to describe them in the terms that you do is insulting.
So what? Russia's GDP per capita (PPP) was 23,501 USD in 2012, Poland's was 22,162. Using your argument, the whole country should side with Russia.
Rozina -> AndrewGWoodSuperannuated
The western parts of Ukraine are poorer than the eastern parts, as demonstrated in the links below:
List from Wikipedia of Ukrainian oblasts by their per capital gross regional product
- the poorest areas are Chernivsti oblast, Ternopil oblast and Zakarpattia (all in the west)
- the richest areas are Kyiv city, Kyiv oblast, Dnipropetrovsk oblast, Donetsk oblast and Poltava oblast (in the centre and the east)
List from Wikipedia of Ukrainian oblasts sorted by monthly salary with the higher monthly salaries generally paid in the east and lower monthly salaries paid in the west
Incidentally the trade agreement that Yanukovych refused to sign in November last year was only ever that; even if he had signed it, the agreement would have been no guarantee that the EU would offer membership to Ukraine. Among other things, the trade agreement would have required Ukraine to change hundreds of standards requiring huge expenditures that Yanukovych's government could ill afford. Economic liberalisation would open up the Ukrainian market to a flood of EU imports which would all but ruin Ukrainian industry and the country's economy would collapse. The trade agreement would be more of an insult to your Ukrainian acquaintances than what I would say about them and their compatriots.hungrycocky Superannuated
Seamus Milne's 'Hitler made the trains run on time' statement :-
"For all its brutalities and failures, communism in the Soviet Union, eastern Europe and elsewhere delivered rapid industrialisation, mass education, job security and huge advances in social and gender equality. It encompassed genuine idealism and commitment... Its existence helped to drive up welfare standards in the west, boosted the anticolonial movement and provided a powerful counterweight to western global domination"
As opposed to capitalist democracies that managed to provide these advances without killing, torturing and oppressing their own people!
Communist one party states are just another form of dictatorship and like all dictatorships isn't worth peeing on.
Mussolini made the trains run on time (apochraphally), not Hitler.
Otherwise you are correct, looking back to the USSR as some sort of Nirvana nullifies history and stamps on the graves of the victims. If I were to say it is evil I would get modded, so I won't.
Not that Yanukovych could be mistaken for any kind of progressive. He has been backed to the hilt by billionaire oligarchs who seized control of resources and privatised companies after the collapse of the Soviet Union – and fund opposition politicians and protesters at the same time.
Millionaire / billionaire heads of private or privatised companies backing both sides of politics? Par for the course in most Western countries.
Thank you Seumas for the honest analysis of Ukrainian pro-EU "revolution".
It's very rare event in western media today. Everybody is apparently looking for personal profit in a political turmoil. The nation was fooled once in 1991 with the promises of prosperity on a "cakewalk" to capitalism and independence. Now it is ready to be cheaply sold on "European values" in the time of economic crisis. New round of privatization will bring more wealth for wealthy and more belt-tightening for the rest. The country may even split in a violent civil war skillfully incited from abroad. Western mass media will then have plentiful opportunities to write about hungry, displaced, terrified people.
28 January 2014 | The Guardian
"The more intermediaries there are, the more problems there are," Putin said. "I am not sure Ukraine needs intermediaries." He pointedly noted that European leaders would complain if Russia sent envoys to mediate in the Greek crisis of the past four years.
... ... ...
Azarov, who has described protesters as "terrorists", had offered his resignation. He said he hoped the move would help achieve a peaceful resolution to the crisis that has gripped the country for more than two months.
"The conflict situation which has come about in the country is threatening the economic and social development of Ukraine, creating a threat to the whole of Ukrainian society and to each citizen," he said.
Scipio1 -> AnaGram2
Naïve or what! Ukraine is in an awkward geopolitical position insofar as it lies between the American Empire (sorry I mean the US vassal states of the EU) and Russia. As such these outside powers use their local proxies as the local political stalking horses in the drama. Ukraine can either join Oceania (the US/EU) or Eurasia (Russia), it cannot be independent and it will not be allowed to be independent. As is the case in the middle east.
Russia regards the Ukraine as its legitimate sphere of influence, America does not recognise any spheres of influence, other than its own of course, which includes the whole globe. So the Ukraine is up for grabs. Sorry you nationalists, but this is the new global order. Get used to it, the days of independent nation states is over. Rule from Washington/Brussels or Moscow. That is the choice. You are just pawns in the game of global geo-politics.
Bravo Putin, you're an international statesman of the highest order.
You saved us from an asinine military confict over Syria.
You've tamed the Iranians and gotten them to listen.
You've exposed the Americans for their moral hypocrisy on the world stage, (and in the New York Times op-ed page too).
And you know what the self-important, unelected, meddlesome bureaucrats in Brussels are in denial about: the European Union is a sinking ship.
Rialbynot -> ubiktd Jon
Geopoliticists in Berlin have always had an obsession about conquering Ukraine, but I never thought they would stoop to so flagrantly exploiting the naivety of an elderly Portuguese ex-Maoist, a Bliarite English plaything, and a has-been Little Russian boxer in order to achieve their Endziel.
HauptmannGurski -> Rialbynot
This ex-Berliner can tell you that Berlin is not about conquering - any more. There are some people who are capable of learning. Admittedly it was made easy by the results, the ruins amongst which I grew up. Photos of the time are still prominently displayed and update the learning process to current generations.
And besides, nobody can say that in public but knowing my former countrymen and women they'd say behind closed doors "Who'd want these people in the tent? Every time they don't like something they throw a tantrum? And then they come to us for money to build it up again? No thanks." There's a German term 'wes Geistes Kind' which doesn't translate terribly well, but means they're displaying a mentality and attitude that leaves a lot to be desired.
Putin's clearly getting very nervous with the Sochi olympics, the protests in Kiev, and all the fuss generated about gay and other human rights in Russia. This is the moment for the EU and the US to forget their differences about the spying and join in to stick it to Putin and his thug regime. This could become his Ceaucescu moment, spreading out from Kiev, where the Ukraine puppet regime is wobbling and in the process of capitualting, onto Moscow and St Petersburg. As McCain said, your time is up Vlad!
The upcoming NATO security conference in Munich would be the perfect opportunity to put on a very ostentatious and public display of western democratic unity and harmony and for the old democratic allies EU+US to bury the hatchet and their differences and declare moral war on Putin's fascist gangster state.
HelloLenin -> ChukTatum
Oh the smell of Russophobia in the morning!
HelloLenin -> ChukTatum
I'm well aware that the RF is capitalist.
But Russia is anti-imperialist, I will stand with them and multipolarity against the west.
200gnomes -> ChukTatum
There are no differences on the NSA spying only full cooperation from our european leaders. Putin is democratically elected, and the USA hmm, fascism being the merger between corporate interest and state check, gangster check and what moral highground exactly? Guantanomo bay or illegal warfare, highjacking the world with a war on drugs, 1% of its citizens incarcerated, higher income difference than Brazil. On what moral ground do you mean exactly, my little angel?
Catherine Ashton? Never stood for election in her life but, nevertheless, she's on the top EU echelon now. It's who you know, not what you know in this European Project, you serfs and villeins. This woman is titled, don't you know, and should be addressed as Baroness Upminster although Putin might not care for this high-falutin' stuff.
putinhero -> maureenincork
Her husband runs Yougov. Think of that next time you read some opinion polls.
Most of us probably hope for harmonious and close relations with the Ukraine ( and Russia ), and, in the Ukraine's case even at some future point an association with the eu once the British have managed to get it to reform so as to row back from the super state fixation.
However who authorised the eu's Brussels representative to meddle; did the UK. How does it correspond with our interests.
This has some similarities with how the First World War started. Its also worth remembering that expansion ' to the east ' was a principal driver for the Second World War in which this part of the world was a major element.
AnaGram2 -> richardofbirmingham
Excuse me, but are you asking the right questions here? Just who has authorised PUTIN to meddle? Putin is the one who's brought us to this juncture. He just had to go and meddle, and in a really big way, in Ukrainian affairs at the time Ukraine was negotiating with the EU. Quite understandably, people were enraged. Whether Russian or Ukrainian by nationality, most people in Ukraine prefer a closer association with the far less corrupt European Union than with corrupt Russia and its horrid little dictator (and whoever wants to argue about that should go and check their facts first). Now, by "warning" off a European mediator, Putin is trying to act like he has some kind of authority over Ukraine.
TheRussianGirl -> AnaGram2
You think only from one perspective. Try look at this from a different angle. Of course Putin is not saint and any person can get enraged by his action. But why shouldn't he think about Russia in this case. Sorry to tell you but most production in Ukraine won't sant european standards and all their goods will be sold where? To its nearest neighbors? To us? I mean Russia. Not everything but a big part of it will go to our country. Do we need it? Well, not really, because we have our own production and our own economy. Was it a blackmail? You can think whatever you want. He probably should not have said that just to see how Ukrainian economy would collapse. But he said a lot of thing because he is all those things you like to name him. Your rage won't do him any harm.
Putin is completely anti-gay.
First of all he has stopped Western interference in Syria. That was totally anti-gay.
Then he has restored the Orthodox Church in Russia, after 80 years of Churches being forcefully destroyed by Communists. That was totally anti-gay.
Then Putin has worked for peace with other nations. Totally anti-gay.
But Putin defends Russian interests. Totally anti-gay.
Also now we have British, French, Americans all attacking Ukraine and causing riots. They hope to make a civil war that will then affect Russia. That will only cause a repeat of the Russian revolution in Russia today. That is all the worst traits of Bolshevism brought back to today. Totally gay.
These are the actual quotes from Putin:
The more intermediaries there are, the more problems there are. I am not sure Ukraine needs intermediaries. I can only imagine what the reaction would be if in the heat of the crisis in Greece or Cyprus, our foreign minister came to an anti-European rally and began urging people to do something. This would not be good. I'm sure the Ukrainian people will sort this out and Russia is not going to interfere.
The headline makes it sound like Putin is going to start a war with EU over this issue. But his quotes reflect common sense and refute the idea that the headline is trying to convey.
The delusional and very dangerous EU should stay in Brussels. Are they not satisfied with destroying the EMU member nations or do they really want to do in the Ukraine as well?
Hang on a minute. Wasn't some Euro apparatchik on here only yesterday telling us all how the EU had kept the peace for 60 years? And now they're trying to start a war with Russia!
When it's Egypt, the leadership is a "military government." When it's Ukraine or Syria, it's a "regime."
It's not rocket science.
For the western imps, the integration of Ukraine into their orbit means:
* expansion of Western business opportunities
* growing isolation of Russia, one of the few countries strong enough to challenge amerikkkan hegemony.
* influence over transit of Russian gas exports to Europe
* military strategic advantage.
putinhero -> HelloLenin
Not only that. It is the end of nation states in the world. There is no conspiracy. The world is changing to a world without borders. No more nation states. It will be a brutal hell on earth.
Europe is making a huge mistake by inciting revolt in Ukraine. the Russian's under Putin's leadership will not tolerate such intrusion into to their neighborhood. The western alliance tried it before in Georgia and the Russians crushed that country.
Also most of those involved in this revolt are from Galicia and during the ww2 these ultra right wingers collaborated with the Nazis by fighting a guerilla warfare against the red army.
detroitobama -> whitehawk66
The west would definitely like to see Putin go. They would prefer Russia being ruled by a traitor like Gorbachev or Yeltsin. Putin is a strong leader who wouldn't bend over for the western elites who want to control Russia in their quest for global domination. When the west says Russia should be more democratic what it means is that the country should allow the west to loot them more (by sending economic hitmen for example).
The fact is Russia has improved a lot since Putin became their leader. The nation is at it's best since the nightmare of communism and Yeltsin's rule ended.
The president of the European council, Herman Van Rompuy, insisted Lady Ashton would seek to reconcile the two sides in Kiev on the basis of "democratic rules" and aim to prevent an escalation of violence.
What could possibly go wrong with that?
catveryverybigone2 -> Lifesaparty
What could possibly go wrong with that?
wrong is that she is a side in the conflict....a mediator should be unbiased - for example some Philipino diplomat or Brazilian diplomat etc - a side of a conflict can't be a mediator of this conflict...
I would guess that quite a few people would not be happy about the Russian Federation meddling in the relationship between the UK and Ireland, never mind between England and Scotland.
On this issue, Putin is bang on the money.
Lifesaparty -> MartynInEurope
And he makes Ashton and v Rompuy to look like the idle meddling busy bodies that they are.
MartynInEurope -> Lifesaparty
That too, although we've know it for quite a while now, especially in Pants case.
Victoria Nuland has been seen handing out cakes to 'protesters' in Keiv
Imagine that senior figure form a foreign country acting this way.
Think about it, what would London say if Hu Jintao turned up in Berwick-upon-Tweed agitating for Scottish secessionism.
It will be unacceptable and rightly so.
London will be rightly furious.
Nuland needs to go back to her own country and make sure Americans have getting enough to eat and an education.
Putin isn't getting nervous he's staying consistent. His message over Libya was that Western interference would prove a disaster for the Libyans. His message about Ukraine is the same. Already people in the Crimea are forming self defense youth groups led by ex army officers. These are to provide support for its succession should the 'Western Coup' prove successful. The triumph of the opposition will mark the end of Ukraine's integrity. As happened in Georgia part of Ukraine will unite with Russia. And certainly Putin has plans for just this outcome Why would he be nervous unless the German army is to march East.
Putin expressly and publicly tell the EU that he sees no conflict between Ukraine's economic co-operation with both EU and the Euro-Asian trading bloc Russia's building up -- and both the Western press and the Russophobes who post here claim that Russia is trying to force Ukraine into something.
Future historians will be shaking their heads over Western hysteria and hypocrisy one day.
This comes down to whether western financial capitalists will control the Ukraine or the Russians. The Russians will win in the long run. Financial capitalism hasn't long to live in this world.
Rich Ukrainians want to ally themselves with Europe and screw the poor in their country. Things don't change. It works like that in every capitalist country, where the rich have the most, followed by their middle class supporters, and the rest or the majority have little or nothing.
Vlad knows that the Ukrainian issue is a geopolitical issue. This is about isolating Russia, with the unelected EU bureaucrats and US playing a dangerous game of provoking Russia in ways that they themselves would find unacceptable if the roles were reversed. Russia was investing in the Ukraine, its infrastructure and for the benefit of the Ukrainian people, albeit for their own benefit, which includes stopping NATO's drive to the east. The EU/US do what they always do, give money to the country's elites to get there way. It's the Neoliberal way, a rich corrupt elite and a disenfranchised population. The Ukraine inside the EU would be disastrous for them. Do they really want to be another Greece, Ireland, Portugal? Asset stripped and tied into debt slavery. The Ukraine would also be expected to host US missiles aimed at Moscow, thus making themselves a target for the Russians. Say what you like about Putin, but hes not stupid and isn't easily pushed around.
I wonder why the authors of this article have written these words:
Yanukovych's biggest concession to the opposition, … a promise to repeal draconian laws criminalising protest and freedom of speech.
It's common knowledge these Ukrainian laws are much more lenient than the corresponding European ones. So my question is "Is it an indirect and somewhat veiled way to criticizing the relevant European laws, for example the French ones?"
The real mystery is why the EU is remotely interested in having Ukraine as a club member.
Aretoussa -> Kaikoura
Cheap labour for VW's next factory abroad surely. Export market for Mercedes' cars. Opportunity for Siemens to build more power plants. It is all about benefitting Germany's economy. But Russia is too big a fish, even for Ms Merkel. Besides, Germany heavily relies on gas imports from Russia, and Russia is an important export market for German goods. So after Brussels makes a bit of fuss, they will back off.
Is Europe/Brussels the good knight on a white horse?! I don t think so. Germany's big companies surely want access to the Ukraine as the next big market for their cars and machines.
And Putin has a very valid point! When Russia offered to co operate with Brussels, to help finance the rescue of the Greek and Cypriot economy, Germany said no, because Ms Merkel and Mr Schaeuble don t want Russia in their back garden. Well then, stay out of Russia's back garden now.
Azarov, who has described protesters as "terrorists", …
I've always said the former Prime Minister, Azarov, was the only adequate and gutsy man among them. He's not afraid of calling a spade a spade and terrorists terrorists.
There's also that bold woman, Elena Lukash, the Minister of Justice. If I were Ukrainian and she ran for President I'd probably vote for her. She would immediately send spetsnaz to beat all the opposition shit out of them...
The weakness of the EU's position with Ukraine is having unelected leaders in Van Rompuy, president of the European council and the EU commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso and Baroness Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief discussing Ukraine with elected presidents of both Ukraine and Russia.
That puts both presidents of Ukraine and Russia in a much stronger position because they have a legitimate mandate because they were elected. And nit was not too long ago, democratically elected western leaders were always preaching to the Russian dominated USSR with the Ukraine as a former member about the need to be democratically elected - how times have changed.
Yeah, Putin, this is your reward for stopping airstrikes in Syria...now we'll get to work in your own back yard. Which tool should we use today? Well, let's use the EU.
jb10001 -> ReachFreedom
And we'll bad-talk the Olympics and scare everyone away....make sure it's a flop; the price to pay for harboring Snowden!!!
Why do people assume the EU and EC are the angels here? They have destroyed the sovereignty of nations and wealth of their own citizens using unelected insiders. Ireland booted them out and is now growing. Ditto Iceland. The long-term game plan has always been to take control away from citizens and give their money to the banks. Russia, along with China, Brazil, India, has been standing up to this western neocon elite. While his anti-gay stance is a huge worry, I don't assume the EU isn't a snake in the grass either. Classic financial war going on. With western gold holdings nearly zero now, BRICS are leading the way to stabilize the global currencies with assets via gold-backed SDRs. Western bankers are trying to retain control. This is the back story.
This is really tragic because the Ukrainians do not seem to understand that they'll lose a lot of their hard won sovereignty in the EU, first to Brussels and then to the trans-Atlantic trade pact which enables companies to take governments to court if they do not produce compliant legislation. Rather than pay billions in compensation for 'wrong' legislation, they'd enact what the companies want. They might as well forget about the idea of a parliament when the investment protection court in Washington tells them what laws they can have and which not. (See Swedish firm Vattenfall against the German government, challenging valid legislation).
Surely Ukrainians cannot be so ignorant as not to know what trap the EU is? The secret trans-Atlantic trade pact negotiations are only set aside for three months, not cancelled. And to top it all off, this is set up as a one way street. If any country would want to exit that trade pact if it doesn't deliver, each and every EU country would have to agree; so in practice nobody can leave.
This article is extremely pointed and does not reflect what was said in a balanced way. Other news media across the globe gives a more balanced view of what putin actually said. The headline on this article is farcical even if putin believed what this bias article highlights the man putin is not dumb and would not say it as it written in this article. Jealousy, envy and English patristic sentiment are on show in this article. Putin envy
Guardian is reporting a false statement (completely opposite to what Putin said at the press conference).
At the press conference and Putin said "we will maintain 15 billion agreement with Ukraine regardless of the political party hat will come to power"
Guardian: "We would most likely fail to maintain the preferential agreements with Ukraine if it signs the [EU] association agreement," he said.
SingDave -> worldtraveler01
That's two different points;
1: He will maintain the funds regardless of which Party takes power.
2: He will withdraw funds if that Party signs an EU association agreement.
The Guardian were correct in their reporting.
worldtraveler01 -> SingDave
While these points appear to be different, they are closely related. Reporting only half of truth and ignoring the inconvenient half is not good journalism practice.
When are the US and its followers in Europe going to finally stay out of other people's business? Russia has no recent history of invading other countries- maybe those that have should mind their own business.
AuntieSmurf -> Socialist4ever
Nice attempt to switch the blame to every Guardianistas favourite bogeyman. But this isn't about the US, it's about that flabby wannabee superpower, the EU.
Would America tolerate this type of interference if it was happening in Mexico?
You see the classic propaganda offered by Brussels. Their public relations is brilliant. They create a problem and then they come in with flying colours with an answer only helpful for their selfish desires. Who is to blame Putin for protecting a country once part of the Soviet Union?
The political elite feed off minor nations and Britain America along with several European Union countries plot only for their selfish desires.
What lies was I fed in school? Was Kiev ever the capital of Russia? Did Muscovites not found a new centre up north, less vulnerable to Mongol invaders, and take the name of "Russia" with them, leaving behind their home territory as a "march"?
If this were true, it would be no wonder that Moscow keeps meddling in the affairs of Kiev. But did not the deal cut by Messrs. Molotov and Ribbentrop bloat that march by a fair chunk of fiercely Roman Catholic Poland? If that were also true, who can be surprised at ethnic, linguistic, and religious tensions?
I spoke with my friends from Ukraine last night,everyone knows that the EU and US are making trouble. One of my friends is a University student, he told me that he and his friends were offered money to go to demonstrations. Where is this money coming from?
There is nothing that president Yanukovych can do to stop the demonstrations unless he agrees to the EU.
It is interesting that the EU and US are trying to overthrow a president that was elected freely, so much for democracy.
InfoOps -> marco00018
Thats it your right.
There is nothing that president Yanukovych can do to stop the demonstrations unless he agrees to the EU.
Once poor Yanukovych signs the EU agreement Those fools that are the protestors will go home wherever they came from and i doubt these protestors are Ukrainians to begin with.
The only thing that Yanukovych can do is to cut off all the US based NGOs in Ukraine and watch McCain go nuts.
Here we go again. Ukraine has at least three groups within its populace
- Those who look east to mother Russia
- Those who look west to Europe
- And the ultra nationalist xenophobes and anti Semites
... ... ...
I'm not European but one thing I know for sure this man Van Rompuy is a dangerous man and I hear that he's not even elected yet wants to mediate in a democratic process in Ukraine....Can't you people in the EU see what's wrong with this picture ?? Do not be sheeple....It began the same way in the 1930's and the rest is history.....Live and learn...
Interesting notion, for those who trumpet that the EU has kept us from a war that was never going to happen; German/Russian rivalry re asserting itself again.
Forth come the shades of SS Division Nordland, Wiking, Charlemagne...
I think that those in Europe who support this "rioting for the sake of democracy" should be more conscious. Because its a clear sign given to all radicals and anarchists in their countries that it works.
I can only imagine what the reaction would be if in the heat of the crisis in Greece or Cyprus, our foreign minister came to an anti-European rally and began urging people to do something
The question in Ukraine is whether to join the EU so it's understandable that the EU should send someone along. In Vlad's example the question in Greece would be whether to leave the EU not whether they become part of Russia so why would Russian envoys be relevant?
Also Ashton is going in an attempt to mediate between the two sides, not speak at an anti-Russian/pro-EU rally.
Ukraine might have a long, long wait before it gets full EU membership, just look how long its taken Turkey, 1987 and still not part of the club......
edwardrice -> ASLEFshrugged
The question in Ukraine is whether to join the EU
Ukraine isn't joining the EU. Membership isn't being offered. There is a EU/Ukraine trade agreement attached to economic 'reforms' on the table.
ASLEFshrugged -> edwardrice
Thank you for the correction, amend my previous comment to "the question is whether to enter into a trade agreement with the EU".
Gosh, really, all this fuss over a trade agreement?
Not only civilians were killed!!! Why there is no mention of the dead policemen and the scores that are seriously injured? Guardian, please do not join the wicked chorus. Remember why you're respected news source http://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/nov/26/ukraine.comment
January 27, 2014 The Kremlin Stooge
January 27, 2014
AP, you run a steam roller over fairly well constructed arguments with abandon as you rush to your unalterable conclusions. The EU and US are all over the place urging the protests on and doing their best to throw a monkey wrench into lawful process. Ukraine is awash in coercion ranging from the US Senate to an endless stream of Western media black propaganda.
Why does it seem Western Ukraine has more info than the rest of the country? Are those Russkies jamming Radio Free Europe again? I do agree that elements in Western Ukraine have been mobilized but it is toward violence and intimidation – not very democratic of them.
Polls may be, when properly administered, a useful indicator of public opinion, My point is that public opinion is not reliable indicator of what may be best for the population. Please reread by post as it was very clear about that. To give a very well known example. the Nazi in Germany were quite popular pre-WW II yet they were supporting an utterly disastrous policy.
I think you are being disingenuous when you claim that you would support Russia if the polls indicated such in Ukraine. My understanding is that the opinion split in Ukraine is fairly close. So you will jump on the Russian bandwagon with equal gusto if the polls swing by 10-20%? With all respect, that is utterly ridiculous.
Regarding who would have a greater interest in developing the Ukraine economy, in addition to what others have mentioned, Russia would likely invest and grow the space technology sector (ZENIT rocket development and production for example) the aerospace sector and the nuclear power sector. EU would likely wish to dismantle these sectors simply to eliminate the competition.
Why would the EU build up the Ukraine's economy when its own economy is stumbling towards a 1930 style depression?
"The EU and US are all over the place urging the protests on and doing their best to throw a monkey wrench into lawful process. Ukraine is awash in coercion ranging fro the US Senate to an endless stream of Western media black propaganda."
US, European diplomats meet with radicals in Kiev, see 'no threat' from them
Western diplomats have once again come to Kiev's Independence Square, the epicenter of protests which have evolved from democratic rallies into violent riots. Ambassadors reportedly met with radical leaders who are now at the core of the demonstrations.
American, Canadian, and European diplomats arrived to Independence Square – also known as Maidan – on Sunday, the opposition Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party said in a statement. The square is the site of ongoing anti-government and pro-EU protests.
Of course the rebel leaders are going to be able to show their guests a Maidan innocent of weapons – it's not as if this were a surprise visit. There are plenty of pictures and video clips of demonstrators with weapons, including handguns. But naturally the foreign guests are quickly convinced that the rebels mean no harm and all the violence is being perpetrated by the government. It makes me sick to read it, and you know they do not have Clue One about what is actually going on and do not take the trouble to inform themselves, because it's politics and the political decision has already been agreed upon between the allies that it would be in their best interests if Yanukovych were removed and a liberal coalition government which would quickly sign the association agreement were to replace it.
They probably watched an entertaining movie or slept on the flight over, then received a quick directed briefing from opposition leaders and political figures which gave them their talking points, then a quick photo-op on the Maidan, to run as a background while they sermonize about the need for "dialogue with the opposition and addressing of their concerns" when they have made it clear they want no dialogue with Yanukovych unless it consists of "I resign. Here's the keys".
They still cannot take Ukraine unless Yanukovych gives it to them. And I don't think he's going to do that.
Well, call me an optimist, but I still don't think that's going to happen. It's hard to maintain momentum in a riot; sooner or later the locals begin to notice that all their stuff is getting smashed and burnt and destroyed, and unless a stable government comes to power there is no possibility of replacing it or repairing the damage – nobody has any money. Klitschko sure doesn't have any, and he's the best hope. Russia isn't going to lend $15 Billion to Klitschko. Or nerd-boy Yatsenyuk. Certainly not to Tiagnibok. Going on a rampage and busting up shit is eventually expensive, when tempers cool and people realize, hey: we're living in the middle of busted-up shit. Who's…uhhh…going to pay for this?
Meanwhile, in case people's memories are getting hazy, the EU offered 600 Million euros. Not even enough to stave off a massive slide in the value of the Hryvnia, not even worth discussing in the framework of improving wages (allegedly the complaint du jour of the rioters), and let's not forget the EU has a longstanding demand that Ukraine's leadership hike gas prices by eliminating subsidies. God knows why they want that, except just as an exercise in do-as-we-say power masturbation, since Ukraine's consumption rates are of no concern to the EU while Ukraine is not a member state and in its role as a transit station for Russian gas. Trust me that nobody, but nobody, has thought about how they are going to keep the utilities on and public transit running and the banking system from collapsing and the million and one other things that constitute civilization, without money. The opposition is like a dog chasing cars – if you catch one, what are you going to do with it?
For all the jabbering and deliberate misdirection about the EU "standing with Euromaidan" and the U.S. Senate promising to have the demonstrators' backs if they succeeded in overthrowing their democratically-elected government, none of them are offering any money, and a newly-crowned King Klitschko who is confronted by supplicants asking for higher wages is going to be confronted by a simultaneous epiphany: what's he going to pay them with? Perogies? If the Ukrainian government falls, Russia will withdraw its loan, and nobody else has any of the ready.
In my view, Yanukovich is going to win this one and eventually he will restore control over the whole country.
However, without lasting political solution (which doesn't seem likely now), there will be an armed insurgency in Western Ukraine as in 1950s.
I have been reading your posts with great interest for some time. Very interesting analysis and a great reading. Now I think I have something to add.
I do not believe that Yanukovich is either weak or stupid.
The entire fight is one for legitimacy. Opposition and their Western backer intended /intend to paint him as a murderous dictator killing his own people. It is a well tested approach, media knows the story by hard having told and retold it countless times.
What the government had to do was just give them enough rope so that they could hang themselves.
This means in practice:
1. Be as peaceful as possible. Neo nazi interpret this as weakness. They smell blood.
2. Try to harm them as little as possible. Police will be hurt inevitably. Some of them might be burned alive – didn't happen until now.
3. Seeing that they can burn and crack heads with impunity, the shock troops of the revolution ( can insert NATO ) get very bold and empowered. Large wave of violence is predictable.
4. President continues to beg for peace and restoration of public order. He is refused and attacks continue. It might seem that the brave extremist's commandoes are taking over the country.
5. But…. the power structures are intact. Repression forces are itching for a fight. They have been burned and beaten for some time now. Hospitals are full of their comrades. And majority of the people gets sick of seeing the punks playing civil war on their streets.
6. What follows next is easy to predict.
What I wrote above happened in almost the same form in 1941 in Romania. Extreme right party tried to take over the country by the same means as we see today..
Their main opponent , general Antonescu let them take over government buildings, newspapers etc , cried for a peaceful solution. He even called them my children, pls pls do not be violent. :):) Brave neo nazis sensed blood. So they burned and killed.
Even managed to burn some soldiers alive.
But their behavior only scared people and made the repression forces – army in that case – hate them like poison. They got crushed in a few hours when Antonescu felt the right moment.
They went so far that Hitler himself approved their destruction.
The Ukrainian case is not so extreme. Level of violence is significantly lower for now. US has not approved the repression of their local stooges.
So a moderate level of repression is to be expected. Of course from Yanukovich's point of view there is no hurry. The longer it drags the more embolden the shock troops from the streets will feel. The more empowered. So they might try to punish their enemies. Might even succeed in burning alive some Berkut operator.
Government is in no danger. The chances that the police officers might side with the goons trying to burn them alive is exactly zero. And cleaning the streets would be a very easy operation taking only a few hours.
So there is no hurry to chase the far right rebels from the streets. The entire fight is one of perceptions. Branding yourselves as mindless thugs hell bent on destruction and oblivious to the voice of reason does not help ones cause. Why would an enemy stop you prematurely when you do such a good job scaring people and delegitimizing yourself?
His only logical line of action is to help you. Prevent police from intervening. Cry and beg for peace and a stop to violence in order to embolden the aggressors. And so on and on….until moment when even such a kind and peaceful man is forced to take actions.
I do not know how strong are Yanukovich's nerves. This is a unique opportunity. The best idea for him would be to let the neo nazi bring the country to the brink of colapse and civil war.
Better that everyone sees them for real before they take the levers of power.
I do not know if his nerves will hold but from what we have seen until now it seems he can do it.
Welcome, teo! That is an interesting analysis, and I tend to agree broadly with it – especially that this is a war for legitimacy. If so, then the opposition has lost it already, because they are hardly even in the news any more except as bananas that have been offered a government post and turned it down. It is plain that they can exercise no control over the mob, and I also agree it is smaller than it is being made to seem in the news.
I agree, too, that if the issue is brought forcefully to a close by Yanukovych and the government, there is a better chance the mob will become martyrs to the cause of a great and free Ukraine, while if they continue to caper and hoot like children in their road-warrior costumes and wooden weapons it is more likely they will be seen as fools who cannot cope with the world as it is and so have to make it a fantasy video game of good versus evil. Let the people see who would rule them if they had their way. The English-speaking media is doing its very best to make patriots and heroes of them, but it is proving to be hard going when they cannot show a human face of the "revolution", just rock-throwers and hoodlums who look like some kind of mutants in their gas masks.
I also believed that a few years of EU association would teach Ukraine a bitter lesson it would never forget, because the EU cannot give it the massive infusions of cash it needs to pull itself out of its slump. Perhaps that will not be necessary if the violence and anarchy continue, because – as you say – ordinary Ukrainians will see the "movement" for what it is and become disgusted with it, and ask the government to restore public order. I would still keep the Maidan as it is, with its burnt-out vehicles and piles of cobblestones and soot and filth everywhere. I would advertise it as a monument to free speech, but really it would be a constant reminder of mob rule and mob mentality.
Interesting analysis and a hopeful one at that. Not to diminish the Ukraine government but I wonder about the importance of Russia in this possible strategy. They are a major stake holder (bigger than the EU for sure) in the future of Ukraine so one must presume they are providing input to the decision making process. Not to rush to conclusions but if the analysis is correct and it succeeds, it would be a brilliant and very Putin-like move. Fingers crossed and time will tell.
According to one of the comments on the Moon of Alabama story, John Kerry mentioned that U.S. diplomats are working with Yanukovych, "trying to defuse the crisis". Therefore – assuming that is accurate – I doubt there are any Russians onsite whispering in Yanukovych's ear. If there were, the western diplomats would already have blatted the story to the papers that Russia was "meddling in Ukraine's sovereign affairs" (without any sense of irony whatsover, doubtless, because the right of western democracies to intervene in sovereign affairs is well-established and they always mean well and never, never act out of self-interest or to satisfy their own foreign policy objectives). That's not to say, of course, that Russia is not contributing to decision-making, because Yanukovych is free to talk to whoever he likes. Presumably he is smart enough to use the the night janitor's cellphone or carrier pigeons or some means of communication the NSA will not be listening in on. The only thing arguing against it is that Putin and Yanukovych are said to strongly dislike one another. But presumably both could put their personal feelings aside for such an important matter affecting so many people.
Your analysis is brilliant but unfortunately based on the false premise that these protests are driven by neo-Nazi extremists who don't have the support of the local population. While this is what some people here believe, it isn't true. People from Kiev certainly don't have that impression. But what do they know, compared to what readers of anti-Maidan blogs know.
You are definitely in the running for a Gold Medal in smugness. Regardless, Ukraine looks like simply another color revolution concocted in EU and US government offices and corporate board rooms and executed with the usual assortments of 1% wannabes, opportunists and a good sprinkling of dupes. The Nazis add a little zest to what would otherwise be a bland bunch of demonstrators.
The Euromaidan drafts an ultimatum for Yanukovich
Ha ha! To put in context, here is the original that is being spoofed.
(painter Ilya Repin, "The Cossacks compose a mocking letter to the Sultan".)
Note in the spoof who the scribe is that is penning the insulting and vulgar letter: Captain America, no less!
Ukrainian Minister of Energetics and the Coal Industry tells representatives of 50% (allegedly) of the Ukrainian population where to go after they had decided to "occupy" his ministry building and to "regulate" the supply of nuclear energy :
Minister: Don't you realize that nobody will be able to live…Get out of here – all of you! (Turns away)
Knobhead: We have to determine the work procedure of the ministry…
Minister (turning back to knobhead): According to Ukrainian law I have been delegated to determine the work procedure here and your action here is illegal … Don't you realize what the results of your actions will be?…It will be like terrorism.
The fighters for freedom and democracy left.
Gee, that's disappointing that the radicals were forced to leave, I really think that a random guy off the street wearing a ski helmet and goggles would be more qualified to run the nuclear energy plants. Or maybe they could put Homer Simpson in charge of the nukes? I mean, it's not like you need a PhD or anything….
Quite! I mean nuclear physics ain't exactly rocket science.
Just ask Peter.
(Only kidding, Peter! :-))
That AP's boys for you. Democracy hard at work!
And the really funny thing is that the Energy Minister is a dead ringer for Tahnybok.
For a brief moment I thought I saw Putin.
Ukrainian Jewish leaders worried about security after a couple of Jews were attacked outside synanogues, hence they are cancelling annual holocausat memorial. Prudent move, given the rampant anti-Semitism of the Banderites who control the central part of Kiev:
Заявление Леонида Финберга о провокациях вокруг антисемитизма в Украине
Ложью в последние месяцы удивить нас трудно. Репрессивные законы, направленные на сворачивание прав и свобод граждан, нелегитимно принятые парламентским большинством, называют развитием демократии. Убийц активистов Майдана выгораживает маразматик-премьер, публично заявля о том, что это провокация опозиции. В этом же ряду гнусной лжи намеки в заявлениях псевдолидеров еврейских организаций о причастности участников мирных протестных акций к организации нападений на двух прихожан синагоги на Подоле. Конечно же, никаких доказательств – они все знают заранее, до событий: главное – нужно "мочить" опонентов власти. Только так – в существующей системе – они могут сохранить свои криминальные бизнесы. Бог им судья, а еще, надеюсь, их дети, близкие, для которых многократно тиражируемая ложь очевидна.
Весь мир видит и понимает, что Майдан – это мир человеческой солидарности и достоинства. Это акция противления злу и насилию, даже ценой жизни и здоровья. Во имя нормальной человеческой жизни в правовом государстве, а не в феодальном общаке люди пришли на Майдан. И не удивительно, что руководство оппозиции и самообороны Майдана предложило охрану синагог, зная намерения провокаторов. Не удивительно, что на Майдане выступал, среди других, и клезмерский ансамбль "Пушкин Клезмер Бэнд". Там же в общем молебне молились вместе священники различных церквей, раввин и муфтий – за мирную Украину для всех ее граждан, а не для бандитов. Этот список легко продолжать. Но лжецов и иуд, продающихся за серебряники, это не интересует. Зато интересует нас – всех, кто мечтает об Украине – демократической стране, где будут нормально жить и христиане, и иудеи, и мусульмане, и язычники, и атеисты, и все, все, все. Обязательно будут, несмотря на все провокации всех негодяев, в том числе и еврейских. Об этом когда-то предупреждал Зеев Жаботинский: "Как и у всех иных народов у нас есть право иметь своих негодяев". Слава Богу, их не так много.
директор Центра изучения истории и культуры восточноевропейского еврейства
Национального университета "Киево-Могилянская Академия",
член Генерального совета Евроазиатского еврейского конгресса
Yeah, yeah, it's not like the Banderites actually hate Jews, or anything like that.
All the anti-Semitic outbursts must have been committed by the Titushki.
Covering Kiev: Jews fear opposition's anger might turn against them
Ukrainian Jews Fear for Their Safety – 'We Are on High Alert'
Anti-Semitic violence frightens Ukrainian Jews amid Maidan protests
From the last link:
Given the two recent violent attacks on Jews, there are some who suggest that "some pro-governmental forces are behind the attacks in order to then blame the nationalists and ultra-nationalist groups associated with Maidan protesters to denounce their legitimacy," Kliger told JNS.org.
"Yet another version suggests the opposite, namely that some radical groups like neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalists are behind the attack, which they then can blame on the government," Kliger said.
Historian, politologist, and EAJC member Vyacheslav Likhachev said in an EAJC op-ed published Jan. 19 that the former is more likely than the latter.
"The large-scale civil protests known under the title 'Euromaidan' really do include groups of radical youths whose slogans and actions repel even the nationalistic All-Ukrainan 'Svoboda' Union Party," Likhachev wrote. But he also wrote that such activists have been heavily occupied with protecting the center of the Maidan protests and preparing for confrontations with government forces. On Jan. 20, President Yanukovych agreed to form a cross-party commission to try to bring an end to the conflict, but the opposition may not participate in talks without the president, according to reports.
"Considering the general direction of what is happening on the Maidan, I believe that even the most thuggish of the protesters are not interested in Jews at the moment," Likhachev wrote.
But since the Ukrainian government has been portraying protestors as a threat to minorities, according to Likhachev, pro-government forces may be instigating anti-Semitic incidents to then be able to blame the protesters for them.
"It is possible that the second, more cruel incident happened due to the first not having enough resonance in the media," although "15 years of experience in monitoring hate crimes tell me that usually hate crime is just a hate crime and not an element of some complex and global political plot," wrote Likhachev.
Josef Zisels, chairman of the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities (Vaad) of Ukraine, emphasized in an official statement translated from Russian that the anti-Semitic attacks were synchronized with the adoption of new legislation initiated by Yanukovych late last week that outlaws many forms of protests. The law bans wearing hardhats or masks, building tents or stages, and disseminating "extremist information" about the Ukrainian government.
"Journalists and public figures, including those acting on behalf of the Jewish community, rushed without any factual basis to tie the assaults with the campaign of peaceful civil protests," Zisels said in the statement.
"Based on the fact that now the topic of anti-Semitism is being used heavily in the cynical political technology campaigns aimed at discrediting the political opposition and the public protest movement, the Jewish community must remain increasingly vigilant," he said.
Both AJC and The National Conference Supporting Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia (NCSJ) issued statements condemning the anti-Semitic attacks and asking the Ukrainian government to investigate the incidents and bring the perpetrators to justice.
NCSJ Executive Director Mark Levin told JNS.org that "no one really knows the full truth" yet about who is responsible for the attacks, but that he is not surprised by the incidents.
"Anti-Semitism unfortunately remains an issue in Ukraine. It ebbs and flows," Levin said.
The latest from Alexander Mercouris:
"The Justice Minister has meanwhile said that she now wants a state of emergency declared. I suspect the Interior Ministry wants the same. Let us be quite clear it is Yanukovych who is stopping it from happening. There are apparently now just 2,000 people on Maidan square. The number on Hrushchevsky has fallen to a few dozen. There's a couple of hundred now scattered in the 6 occupied buildings. If the police were given the order they could clear the center of Kiev in one or two hours."
It's TIME to do it. Get this crap over with.
I see the game's afoot!
So, let's to it pell-mell:
If not to heaven, then hand-in-hand to hell!
(Alarums stage right. Quick exit stage left.)
Apologies to W.Shakespeare.
Anarchy in Western Ukraine.
For those, who don't speak Polish, short description of what the article says.
Ukrainian protesters near the Polish border set fire to car tires on the Yavorov-Krakovec road causing huge traffic jam.
Polish tour bus got stuck in traffic jam, but they asked truck drivers to let them through and after an hour, the bus slowly arrived to the cause of this jam – enormous fire barricade on Novoyavorov intersection. Some 20 drunk Ukrainians surrounded the bus, cursing the driver and all Poles.
Several protesters entered the bus terrorising everyone with drunken threats.
Finally they demanded from every Pole on the bus to shout "Glory to the Ukraine. Glory to heroes" (Banderite slogan) threatening they would set the bus on fire if they didn't.
The poor Poles cried and did as told. And then the bus was given 10 second to cross the fire barricade.
Pretty nasty stuff. I think this means that there is no longer any functioning police left in Western Ukraine and the countryside is now effectively ruled by armed thugs.
Kresy iorganizations generally belong to the militant fringe far-right in Poland. It's the equivalent of far-right German ex-Danzigers bitter about the loss of East Prussia. Not a reliable source for info.
Активісти заблокували міжнародну трасу Львів-Краковець: палять скати і не пускають транспорт
Від учорашнього вечора й донині проїхати по міжнародній автотрасі Львів-Краковець неможливо: біля міста Новояворівська Яворівського району Львівської області мітингувальники палять скати й не пропускають автотранспорт ні в держави ЄС, ні звідти.
Про це повідомили сьогодні, 24 січня, власкорові IA ZIK мешканці міста Новояворівська.
За словами учасників акції, вони у такій спосіб вирішили висловити свою підтримку побратимам, яких силовики вбивають у Києві, на Грушевського.
Правоохоронці скеровують автотранспортні засоби на Мостиськ.
Обабіч перегороди на трасі зібралося близько півсотні великогабаритних автомашин, яким годі розвернутися й податися на об'їзну дорогу.
So, no confirmation about the anti-Polish actions? It might have happened, or it might have been exaggerated. But if your only source is kresy, that's not very convincing.
BTW, your kresy website loves the antisemite Roman Dmowski:
That was the "Titushki" again, they were paid to start a quarrel with Poland.
Those Titushki are everywhere…
I think there is even one underneath my bed…
Ha! You beat me to it. Thanks a lot for letting me cycle extra-fast to work, giggling to myself all the way at the prospect of reporting that it was another Titushki provocation, only to scoop me while I was enroute.
"Result would be: the West Ukraine ruled by vicious Banderites, some Eastern regions breaking away, and the Crimea returning to Russia."
I'm not so sure. Putin does not seem like a leader who wants open confrontation with the West. Russia "annexing" Crimea and Donbass would not go easy in the West and Russia would face some serious sanctions and hostilities.
I heard some rumor about a clause in a post-USSR agreement between the Ukraine and Russia, that if Ukraine screws up then Crimea would be free to return to Russia as it was pre-1954 (and once again become Krimskiy Oblast). Sounds far fetched in my ears, but what do I know.
At any rate, Crimea is extremely Russian as it is, and the anti-Maidan sentiment there is strong. Last thing I heard was that people chased away some groups of activists trying to lay siege to an administrative building in Sevastopol, and now some local biker gang has set up a perimeter around that building to prevent them from trying again. Funny.
I do wonder about the Tatars in Crimea though, what do they think about this all? I heard that they were going to stage some kind of demonstration in Simferopol this week, but I don't know what they would be demonstrating for/against.
There is supposedly some clause in the "Khrushchev's Gift" treaty whereby Ukraine and Russia must belong together within the same Union.
There is also some clause about a plebiscite being invoked to revoke the treaty.
I don't have time to research it right now, maybe later, if I have time….
(unless somebody else wants to do the research; I'm sure it's available online)
In any case, I am pretty sure Russia could put together a convincing legal argument to take it back. Not that that would impress NATO very much… In my mind, I can already hear them squealing like pigs.
Here are some Crimean citizens saying they'd vote for Yanukovich/the Party of Regions if there were a Ukrainian general election election now. There are a couple of Tatars amongst them, I'm sure.
I must say though, they're all old and appear to be a right motley crew all who've just been paid off a pirate ship.
The last gang of blokes the interviewer approaches look like they were just about start off on an al fresco samogon session.
There are Tatars at the Maidan. Crimean Tatars and Ukrainian nationalists have been allies for a long time. Remember that local Russians weren't very pleased when all of those Tatars started coming back after independence and there has been tension between the Tatar and Russian communities in Crimea.
You might find this blog post interesting (you'd have to scroll down for the Crimean part)
"Putin does not seem like a leader who wants open confrontation with the West. Russia "annexing" Crimea and Donbass would not go easy in the West and Russia would face some serious sanctions and hostilities."
Quite possibly, unless a leader with legitimacy in each of those regions stepped forward to announce that it was the will of the people, and presented polling data to prove it. That is democracy, the will of the majority, and the west cannot stand against it. It would have to be done quickly and decisively, too – otherwise the west would start a rebel movement in the regions and cry that the will of the people had been usurped by corrupt leaders.
УПА опубликовала ультиматум с требованием выдать Януковича
[UPA Has Published An Ultimatum That Yanukovich Be Handed Over]
UPA takes responsibility for the murder of a policeman on 01/24/2014 next to the "Berkut" police division. This act is a revenge for the killing of protesters and torture of prisoners. After all, what police officers did last week, was disgrace to any normal person. The police turned into a punitive apparatus of the occupation regime existing for intimidation, torture and murder of Ukrainians. Police does not perform no law enforcement functions anymore, only supports anti-people regime.
Given the above, we, the rebels of UPA, demand following from the police:
1. Lay down their arms or surrender to revolutionary maidan, removing all the epaulets, chevrons, cap badges.
2 Release and deliver to the territory of the revolutionary maidan all political prisoners, prisoners during 2011-2014 ( V.Zaporozhets "VASILKOVSKY terrorists" A.Biletsky, "defenders Rymarslcaya" VPrlmenko family Paulichenka "Melitopol arsonists," "Nezhin Robinhood", "Sumy artists" Ya.Pritulenko, A.Dzindzya, , V.Smaly,V.Cadura, O.Odnorozhenko and others arrested in January 2014, the list of which is replenished daily).
3 . Arrest or give maidan revolutionary forces ability to arrest Yanukovych , Azarov, V. Zakharchenko Pshonka, A.Yakimenko, IClyuyeva , Lulcash and other major criminals of the country.
Advertise our ultimatum in the media.
In case of failure of our ultimatum, we will have to continue to rebel-guerrilla warfare, killing several police officers weekly. We will not take part in open opposition, we will continue to fight underground.
If our ultimatum left unanswered, next week every policeman In uniform or not will be a potential target for the UPA. Unlike the police, we are not sadists and nonhuman, so we will not torture anyone, humiliate, we will not touch the civilian population and someone close, but we will kill police if they continue their criminal activities (serving the criminal regime in any form is in itself is already a crime against the Ukrainian people.)
We emphasize once again that we are not connected with euroMaidan and those imaginary "terrorists – extremists", which recently reported by the press – the Interior Ministry, but we support any movement against the regime of Yanukovych. In the case of acceleration eurornaydan our work will not be stopped, it will only give us reason to be more active.
We are not a terrorist organization and do not want to continue fighting weapon. We are happy to lay down our arms but only on the fulfillment of all our requirements and only at the call of the future Ukrainian Revolutionary Board.
I don't believe I ever said the entire city was razed to the ground. Is every undamaged building going to be pressed into service as a testimonial that the rebels are gentle and mean no harm, and only want the best for all Ukrainians? There should not be any damage at all, because the Maidan itself is public property paid for with taxpayer funds and maintained with taxpayer funds. The streets are torn up all around the Maidan to furnish bricks to be thrown at the police – we have seen the rioters do it often enough – and the Maidan itself looks like downtown Beirut in the 1980′s.
Citizens are emboldened to resist the police because the police have obviously been directed to act like persuaders rather than enforcers of the law. Protesters are constantly squealing that they want the rule of law and that is a gift Europe will bestow on them, but they seem to have decided they only want laws which are imposed upon them by foreigners, and that they will not obey anything that comes from the government. Tell me about any city in America where you have lived where resisting arrest would be tolerated, or ordinary citizens interfering to prevent an arrest. Journalists were arrested during the Occupy protests in the USA simply for filming arrests. Here's a fine example of police patience and forbearance, from New Orleans.
You must have seen those pictures from the Maidan, all those jerrycans of gasoline stockpiled and apprentice bombers filling wine bottles with gas and attaching cloth wicks; how do you suppose those cans of gasoline get to the Maidan? People carry them there, possibly concealed in large bags such as the man the police were initially questioning was carrying.
"The streets are torn up all around the Maidan to furnish bricks to be thrown at the police…"
"You must have seen those pictures from the Maidan, all those jerrycans of gasoline stockpiled and apprentice bombers filling wine bottles with gas and attaching cloth wicks; how do you suppose those cans of gasoline get to the Maidan? People carry them there, possibly concealed in large bags such as the man the police were initially questioning was carrying."
"Tell me about any city in America where you have lived where resisting arrest would be tolerated, or ordinary citizens interfering to prevent an arrest"
You once again base your comments on the false assumption that the police in Kiev are comparable to the police in a normal American town. In America or other places the police are not viewed by average citizens as agents of an illegitimate regime. They are seen that way only in minority areas with histories of persecution. This is why ordinary citizens in America generally don't come to the defense of someone being arrested, as we see happening in Kiev. In Kiev, most of the population is feels itself to be persecuted.
Of course. What was I thinking?
So these "agents of an illegitimate regime" were recruited en-masse after Yanukovich had been elected and will likewise be replaced when and if a truly legitimate, democratic regime (sorry!) – government is elected by the people, thereby ensuring that when a policeman attempts to arrest a citizen, his arrest will not be "thwarted" by an irate citizenry?
However, if, as I suspect, very many – or perhaps even the vast majority – of cops now serving (or should that be "persecuting"?) in the Ukraine are those self-same cops as served during the heady days of prime ministers Tymoshenko (formerly known as "The Gas Queen") and Lazarenko ("Mr. Fifty Per Cent" – remember him?) – not forgetting the former president, Yushenko (you know, he who elevated Bandera to the status of a "national hero") continue to serve as law enforcement agents (which I think very likely) under a new, truly democratic government, will they undergo a sudden, almost miraculous, change in their perceived moral stature and find themselves greatly respected by the citizenry as guardians and enforcers of law and order and, therefore, not suffer vengeful, murderous attacks by the formerly oppressed citizenry?
Or better still, will there be a purge, a celebratory blood letting as it were, after the election of a new and trusted and truly democratic administration and government, whereby a guillotine will be erected on the Maiden in order to mete out to all those foul lackeys of the vile Yanukovich regime their just deserts?
They're just following the playbook; announcing that they do not recognize the government of their country as legitimate, setting up a framework for an alternate government, and then waiting with bated breath for the critical next step – for the western democracies to accept their handiwork, and announce in their turn that the alternative new government is the one true government, and that they will not do business with nor recognize the previous government.
And just like that, laddie, you're pushed out, it's just that simple. We've seen it happen a couple of times fairly recently. But I don't think that next step is going to happen, because in other cases the west had managed pretty completely to isolate the target country so that it was friendless and alone. That is not true in this case, and it actually has quite a powerful friend who has made its interests clear.
So you are saying that Kiev citizens consider themselves to be immune to arrest, that it is their right not to be arrested?
You say they are "thwarting arrest". Why should thy wish to do this?
In England what they were doing was resisting arrest – a crime – and obstructing officers in the course of their duties – another crime. Furthermore, a charged person's obstruction of a police officer and resisting arrest is counted against that person if found guilty.
And if that had occurred in the "Free West", and most certainly in the UK, the person taking photographs would have very likely been warned to desist. In my experience, police don't like their pictures being taken when they are arresting people.
On what grounds did those people feel that they should not have been arrested? Why did they feel justified in resisting arrest? Do they really think that they could get away with such behaviour in the "free world"?
Excellent find! Evidently the man has screwed up, this has been acknowledged and the relevant people are now moving in to see what should be done about it. Russia adheres to international practice, and by the looks of it they're doing a mighty fine job. ;)
I have to say, upon first reading the headline my immediate thought was "is this the same "plagiarization" as Putins alleged ditto?" You know, the little farce that turned out to be a total invention by some random guy out to make headlines.
Or the US equivalent – US Vice President Joe Biden ran into difficulties at law school for "plagiarism" (i.e. failing to provide accurate sourcing).
Or western icon of sage diplomacy Tony Blair, whose entire case for war with Iraq was lifted from the work of graduate student Ibrahim al-Marashi, entitled, "Iraq's Security and Intelligence Network; a Guide and Analysis". More recently, Blair is accused of plagiarizing his own fictional self from the 2006 film, "The Queen".
None of these incidents seems to do much damage to the Teflon former PM, and isn't he now Special Envoy to the Middle East or something, upon which he frequently speaks with authority?
I reckon that bodes well for Astakhov's retirement plans.
Klitschko reckons it's "a step towards victory".
You could sort of see that coming: what dignified option did he have left after Yanukovych offered to give his job to a pop-eyed nerd like Yatsenyuk while he wasn't even the country, presumably without even the courtesy of discussing it with him first?
I didn't much like him anyway, although I can't think of anyone better to replace him either.
If this is all an act of appearing to be panicky and confused on Yanukovych's part, the man is a hell of an actor.
The following is an extract from:
Primer for Teachers Discussing Events of Nov-Dec 2013 in Ukraine
Boris Bilash II
Physics Teacher, Pascack Valley High School, Hillside, NJ USA
Provocateurs - the Titushky
1. Any violence seems to be initiated by provocateurs known as "titushky". Titushky is a Ukrainianian slang term describing athletic men used as thugs to start fighting among peaceful protests. The attacking titushky wear masks and are often armed with batons. There have been hidden videos posted on Youtube showing how operatives were soliciting men to serve as titushky on the side streets of Kyiv. It is not clear who is paying the titushky - for now, it's speculation.
Ha, ha!!! Hidden videos showing operatives soliciting men to serve as Titushki!! Will these be like the hidden videos of ballot-stuffing in the Russian Duma election, all uploaded from a server in California, with no context to show where or what they represented and none showing anything that could be said to be ballot-stuffing? Say what you like about the western press, when it decides as a collective on a narrative, it sticks with it, and now apparently anyone who is wearing a mask and carrying a club, throwing bricks and gas bombs at the police, is Titushki paid off by the Ukrainian government to make innocent flowers-and-beads protestors look aggressive and violent. Clever use of Titushki also to seize government buildings from the police; in fact, the police should all be fired and the Titushki could simply take their place! You have to admit they are damned effective. "Titushki" may well be the only Ukrainian word that comes out of the conflict that western journalists can pronounce – except for "Kiev" – as if they are actually familiar with it.
So those carrying banners and shouting "Glory to Ukraine – Glory to Heroes" are the REAL heroes! And Tetyana Chornovol, before her brief moment in the spotlight as beaten opposition journalist, was secretly a Titushki collaborator! Just when you think you have a grip on the situation, you realize you know nothing.
And what's remarkable is Yanukovych's intelligence apparatus – somehow, whenever the demonstrators stage a raid of some government building somewhere in Ukraine, there are the Titushki, in the forefront, masked and carrying clubs and attempting to wrest the police officers' shields out of their hands. It must be reallyb difficult for Yanukovych to pretend to be such an idiot, when in reality he knows the opposition's every move before they make it. He must, in order to get his Titushki there for every opposition action.
Policeman stabbed in Khersones dies.
One of the three policemen who were stabbed during a protest in Khersones, southern Ukraine, on Monday, died in hospital, Ukraine's Interior Ministry said, as quoted by Itar-Tass.
Ukraine's Parliament Repeals Anti-Protest Laws
Next bulletin: Russian demands return of $15 billion loan?
Not yet, but keep that one in the typesetter frame in case we need it in a hurry. Yanukovych is either a strategic genius with ice water in his veins, or the kind of sad-sack buffoon who can reach into a barrel of money and come out with handcuffs.
Sure looks like it to me. One more step toward preserving the Maidan as it is for ever and ever as a monument to what free men can achieve (with the help, of course, of Titushki) against an ossified and corrupt government.
My dream Kiev home is now a war zone. But I'm not quitting
The "snipers on rooftops" is a long debunked lie. The picture was taken four years ago in Kyrgyzstan.
"These snipers have already ruined the sight of some 20 demonstrators and five journalists."
LOL sniper fire would kill you. This essay is a load of shit, and a cue for the commentators to call everyone paid "Kremlin stooges" when confronted with facts. Titushki!
I didn't see any pictures of snipers. But you're right that it is beyond comical to suggest they are so accurate that they can shoot your eyes out without killing you, what a joke, as they are said already to have done more than 20 times.
But you can already see the narrative changing again, which is interesting. According to the author, 90% of the demonstrators feel (no substantiation for how this figure was obtained) that the opposition leaders do not represent their interests, and what they really, really want and in fact insist on is that Yanukovych call early elections. That's because the western backers of this absurd movement are aware that is the only legitimate means of removing Yanukovych – if he himself consents to early elections, and loses. Then who would come to power? Klitschko, to all appearances, a leader of the opposition who does not even live in Ukraine and who according to the author does not represent the interests of 90% of the demonstrators. But the west would not care, because Klitschko would sign the association agreement as quickly as it could be put in front of him, and to those who complained that Yanukovych was forced out by western bullying they would reply, "What are you talking about? Yanukovych himself called early elections, and lost in a democratic process that was free and fair. The people have spoken".
Read the comments. He's not selling his point very well (and lots of readers wonder how snipers can blind).
My thinking is that the propaganda, that was pretty easily swallowed in previous "democratic uprisings", has gone stale.
This guy, for example, reminds that we've seen the movie before.
I also lived in Kiev and have lots of friends from both sides, and everyone knows that protester leaders are no better than Yanukovich. I was doing business there for several years, nothing changed in terms of corruption after 2004 Orange Revolution – it became even worse, cose new "hungry" orange inspectors came to positions. And I am sure that thing will become worse after "EuroMaidan" win for ordinary people. The oligarchs will rule either way – only the names is going to change.
Yes, one of those comments is mine, but I noticed that several have questioned the deadeye-snipers-for-evil premise, and it will probably just go quietly away like so many of the other trial balloons floated to see how gullible the audience can reliably be.
"I was doing business there for several years, nothing changed in terms of corruption after 2004 Orange Revolution – it became even worse, cose new "hungry" orange inspectors came to positions.
Yes, this is what I've heard also. However things got even worse, if you can imagine, after Yanukovich became president.
"And I am sure that thing will become worse after "EuroMaidan" win for ordinary people. The oligarchs will rule either way – only the names is going to change."
Who knows. Klitschko at least is not one of them.
"However things got even worse, if you can imagine, after Yanukovich became president."
That so? Here's Ukraine's unemployment rate since 2008. From 9.8% when Yanukovych took over to 7.6% now. Which is better – a higher unemployment rate, or a lower one? Here's average monthly wages; you'll have to adjust the start value to 2010 yourself. Which is better – a low wage or a higher one? Ukrainian wages are terrible, but there is no sensible argument to be made that wages got worse under Yanukovych; wages reached an all-time high for Ukraine in July of 2013. Or did he just raise the wages of all the non-Orange people, which would be cheaper since they are less than half the population and getting smaller every minute? Here's the inflation rate – once again, you have to adjust the start date to 2010. After a struggle which took Ukraine through most of 2011, Yanukovych got inflation under control and it dropped steeply – too far: it went into deflation, and has since corrected to about .5%, which is a little lower than the actual target rate for the U.S. economy (about 2%) although it cannot achieve it at present because it dares not raise interest rates. Is 12% inflation better than .5%? Ukraine's balance of trade is horrible, but it was in the negative when Yanukovych took over and has gotten only marginally worse. Which contributes more to a negative trade balance – a trade surplus with Russia or a trade deficit with the EU? Because Ukraine sells more to Russia than it buys from Russia, while it buys more from the EU than it sells to it – and don't forget, Yanukovych is still paying off Yushchenko's IMF loan.
What you mean is, according to my friends in Kiev, who hate Yanukovych and want him out, things got even worse under Yanukovych. The national picture tells a somewhat different story.
Putin: Russia ready to support Ukraine, regardless of govt
Is that a signal from the Kremlin that Yanukovich is ready to abdicate power?
If that be true, oh what fun and games there will follow in the Ukraine amongst the "leaders" of the "opposition" and the Maidan mob.
Prepare now for the break up of the former Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.
East Pakistan and West Pakistan springs to mind – but without an armed conflict.
Harding's in his element again over this in the Grauniad, where he's back on form making unsubstantiated claims and using anonymous sources:
The opposition responded cautiously to Azarov's resignation, saying it was unclear who would replace him. Russia, meanwhile, piled further pressure on Yanukovych by announcing that it might not fulfil its pledge to pay a £9bn bailout to Ukraine if the government falls, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing Russian government sources. The money is desperately needed to keep Ukraine's struggling economy afloat.
One former Ukrainian foreign ministry official said that the Kremlin was exerting massive pressure on Yanukovych behind the scenes, and had been urging him to deal more harshly with anti-government protesters. "Ukraine is out of money. If Russia stops financing Yanukovych he will be unable to pay his loyal supporters in the east," the official said.
See: Ukraine's president accepts resignation of PM after protest laws annulled
And this is what WSJ says today, Tuesday, 28th January: Putin: Russia to Fulfill Obligations to Ukraine Despite Changes to Government
Russia intends to fulfill its financial obligations to Ukraine despite changes in its government, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the EU-Russia summit in Brussels Tuesday.
"I will give you a direct answer to the question of whether we will be reconsidering our agreements on loan and energy, if opposition comes to power (in Ukraine)? We won't," Mr. Putin said in Brussels during a televised press conference.
(Russian mother-tongue translator, I suspect: intonation question [usually only used in English to express surprise or shock] and there should be no comma before the subordinate condition clause, as there is in Russian.)
That question that Putin asks himself in the above WSJ extract is Putin's Russian intonation question directly translated into English; I would have translated the question thus: "Shall I give you a direct answer to the question of whether we will be reconsidering our agreements on loan and energy if the opposition comes to power (in the Ukraine)? We won't."
Harding reports that WSJ has cited anonymous "Kremlin sources" that have stated that "Russia might not fulfil its pledge", yet WSJ quotes Putin as saying the pledge won't be changed because of a change of government in the Ukraine.
Harding and I must speak a different kind of English in view of the way he reads the WSJ report differently to the way I do.
Talking of which language, is it usual US English to spell "fulfil" thus: "fulfill"?
That's how WSJ spells it above.
Frankly, polls have shown that the Russian public seems to be very unhappy with this 'loan" and Putin has failed to provide a clear explanation to them as to why Ukraine should be granted such a massive loan from public coffers while the Russian economy is facing stagnation.
I hope this doesn't come back to bite Putin, because there's a chance that he could be looking at his first diplomatic failure this year if an opposition figure comes to power & signs the Association agreement in spite of the Russian loan. Russia can and most likely would find it impossible to get its loan repaid.
I don't like this one bit.
Looks like that loan's gone down the Swanee.
Frankly, I don't think the EU would offer an associatiation agreement if Ukraine were beholden to and underwritten by Russia. Poland and the Baltic States took IMF loans, and those always come with strings that allow the IMF to influence and direct the leadership. Ukraine under Yushchenko also took a big IMF loan, and would have taken a second one except the IMF withheld it because Yushchenko misbehaved and did not make reforms he had been directed to make, and refused to withdraw the gas subsidy for home heating.
The EU no longer has lots of lolly to throw around to bail out struggling economies, and probably dares not even utter the word "bailout" for fear of a furious German rebellion. But I think an opposition government – if it comes to power, which I still don't think is going to happen – would find itself confronted with the choice of accepting large loans from Russia or imposing harsh austerity on Ukrainians to pay for costly reforms.
I'm pretty sure Putin has his own Russian meals prepared on his presidential jet. I doubt he's salivating at thought of sampling some of those exquisite European dishes.
Not serving a sitting head of state a meal is absolutely comical and in my opinion shows just how toothless and tacky the EU bureaucrats have become.
Never mind – it would have to be quite the exquisite meal for it to be enjoyable considering the company with whom he would have to share it. Did you see those phonies Barroso and von Rompuy smiling and simpering as if they were all the best of friends, and as soon as the summit is over they'll be huddled with The Guardian or some such rag giving them the inside dirt on the 2.5 hr. meeting and it will be all Putin's fault for everything including bad weather.
I remember I disliked Dick Cheney even more (I already thought he was a huge dick) when he told Patrick Leahy on the House floor, "Go fuck yourself", because after a bitter argument about his Halliburton ties, bla, bla, bla, Leahy approached him all smiles as if that was all just business, no hard feelings and the smiley-face was the real Patrick Leahy.
But now, although I couldn't agree it was the best thing Cheney ever did, I think I kind of understand him a little. It must be tremendously liberating to not have to pretend that you like people who are assholes, and can just say, "You're an asshole. Don't smile at me, because assholes do not have the muscles it takes to smile".
What's the betting NATO will be in the Ukraine before the year's out?
I say not a chance. But if they could split Ukraine off from Russia and get it NATO membership – quite different from association – if they had the money they would have a military base there as fast as they could build it. And they can always seem to find the money, despite austerity, when it's for something they really want.
Nice map showing where the income in Ukraine is. Those titushki seem to know more about making a living compared to the Banderite neo-Nazis rioting in Kiev.
There was an interview earlier this week with a hospitalised demonstrator in Kiev who lost an eye to a rubber bullet – I'd imagine that this actual incident has become inflated into the 'snipers shooting out eyes by the light of burning tyres' story.
The EU may have denied Putin dinner but it seems entertainment was provided. Two topless women from Femen staged a protest against what Reuters describes as 'Putin's role in the Ukraine crisis'. Their bare-chested messages were 'Good job Putin' and 'Putin Killer of Democracy' – the second message suggests a lady with implants. Extract from the 'person specification' for the post of President of the Russian Federation – the ability to cope with endless insults and demonisation with the occasional interjection of the surreal.
I'd imagine that the formal agreement between Russia and Ukraine for the purchase of $15 billion Eurobonds in tranches contains clauses which provide for non-payment of the next tranche if Ukraine fails to make interest payments. I think Putin was saying that, in principle, Russia has no problem dealing with a Ukrainian government of a different political stripe but that's not a commitment to continue with the funding if Ukraine fails to meet the terms and conditions of the loan.
Like reggietcs I think the granting of this loan was a mistake and I hope Russia doesn't have to pony up the full amount. One can see already that whoever eventually takes power in Ukraine will be egged on by the EU & US to refuse repayments thus further exacerbating tensions with Russia.
Perhaps "Putin Killer of Democracy" was simply written with a smaller font. Or so as to take advantage of the curvature – there's no law says you have to write right across centre-mass.
I still think the EU will be unhappy with a Ukraine which relies on Russia for its financial well-being, because the EU prefers not only a compliant leader who is susceptible to "suggestion" – although that's a nice start – but an economy dependent on loans from western-controlled institutions. That way, even if the leadership changes to one which is not so compliant (or so simple-minded that it can be flattered and cajoled into stamping the desired policies), you still have the people by the goolies and they know which side their bread is buttered on. If the leader won't play ball, it's easy to start a popular revolt and have him or her overthrown, because the EU controls the purse-strings.
As the borrower rather than the lender, Ukraine – and by extension, the EU – is in no position to demand guarantees from the lender; it's very much the other way around, and I doubt Putin is so foolish as to have committed to an arrangement whereby Russia has to give Ukraine the full amount. It is customary for loans to be secured, and Russia is not simply loaning Ukraine money, it is buying Ukrainian debt. China had a similar arrangement for some time with America, although it has scaled back, buying American debt in the form of treasury notes. You see how much dictatorial power America exercises over China, and how when America complains about the human-rights situation vis-a-vis Tibet, the Chinese knuckle their foreheads, say "Yowzah" and jump right to it. Not so much, right? In fact, when China had the Olympics, a lot of allegedly-downtrodden special-interest groups had it in mind to make the Chinese games all about human rights the way Sochi has been made all about gay rights and corruption. These groups, of course, needed the support of the western press to make that happen. You saw how well that worked out for them. To be fair, that was not entirely about the disadvantageous financial position in which China had the USA, but it also had much to do with China's potential as an investment moneymaker for American corporations, which have heavy money in China and so in the end the soft-pedaling China got boiled down to money.
It is encouraging that the EU heavyweights had essentially nothing to say following the summit but that there was "good dialogue" (politicalese for "bla bla bla") and the appointment of expert panels (I imagine Aslund will be on one, as he is fancied to be a great economist even though he could not make the connection between monkey scat at the zoo and the presence of live monkeys) to study the problem further. This is shorthand for "We didn't get what we wanted". Which was for Russia to pay the toll while Ukraine drove over the EU bridge, smiling and waving.
Dec 12, 2013 | Forbes
If the EU agreement in Vilnius had been signed, there was a chance that European democratic standards, transparency and rule of law in Ukraine would take hold irreversibly. If that happened, the contrast with life in Russia could have become very apparent – both for Ukrainians and for Russians themselves.
January 27, 2014 | whitehouse.gov
Vice President Biden called Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to express U.S. support for on-going negotiations between the government and the opposition to end the current standoff and bring about a peaceful, political solution to the crisis.
He underscored that the U.S. condemns the use of violence by any side, and warned that declaring a State of Emergency or enacting other harsh security measures would further inflame the situation and close the space for a peaceful resolution.
Underscoring that no time should be lost, the Vice President urged President Yanukovych to pull back riot police and work with the opposition on immediate measures to de-escalate tensions between protesters and the government. He also urged the government to take concrete steps during tomorrow's parliamentary session to respond to the full and legitimate concerns of the Ukrainian people, including by repealing the anti-democratic laws passed on January 16.
Finally, the Vice President reaffirmed the unwavering support of the United States for a Ukraine that rejects violence and that respects the human rights and dignity of its citizens in accordance with their European aspirations and their desire to restore their country back to economic health.
Jan 28, 2014 | kp.ua
As UNIAN informs on January 28 MP Vadym Kolesnichenko (Party of Regions) registered in the Verkhovna Rada a draft law "On organizations receiving funding from abroad."
Text of the document has not yet been made public, but we know that it is registered under the number 4041.
Initial version of the law (Kolsnichenko Oleynik law) was canceled along with others by votes taken on January 16.
Jan 28, 2014 | kp.ua
January 16 Rada adopted one resolution and 11 laws . Tuesday, January 28 deputies canceled nine laws, and four of them adopted again by the second (now electronic) voting.
Cancelled five laws:
- Vladimir Oleynik and Vadim Kolesnichenko law on protection of judges and law enforcement officers. It contains a lot of changes in the administrative and criminal codes that relate to journalists, NGOs and the protesters. For example , the law prohibits the media to operate without a license, impose liability for defamation, prohibits go protest in the mask and helmet. The law also offers to sell SIM cards for passports.
- A law that restricts parliamentary immunity of depities who committed crimes. It was proposed to solve this problem using abbreviated procedure in the session hall, without committee hearings.
- The so-called "letters of happiness " law for drivers - mailed penalties based on automatically detected traffic violations .
- Law on football fans . Cabinet has offered to sell tickets for the matches only using identification and to toughen the penalties for football hooligans including obligatory prohibition to attand matches on the stadium where they committed offence for two years.
- Also abolished absentee introduction of criminal proceedings of absent persons which allow the courts to hear the case without the defendant.
In back-to-back moves to try to resolve Ukraine's political crisis, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov submitted his resignation on Tuesday and parliament repealed anti-protest laws that prompted violent clashes between protesters and police.
The twin moves were significant concessions to the protesters who have occupied the capital's main square for two months and fought sporadically with police for the last 10 days. Yet key issues remain unresolved in Ukraine's political crisis, including the opposition's repeated demands for President Viktor Yanukovych to resign and a new election to be held.
"The conflict situation which has come about in the country is threatening the economic and social development of Ukraine, creating a threat to the whole of Ukrainian society and to each citizen," said Azarov, adding that he had personally asked Yanukovich to accept his resignation.
Under the constitution, the departure of the prime minister means the resignation of the entire government.
Yanukovych has been under increasing pressure since he pushed the tough laws through parliament, setting off clashes and protests in other parts of the country in a sharp escalation of tensions after weeks of mostly peaceful protests over his rejection of a deal to deepen ties with the 28-nation European Union.
Azarov's resignation has yet to be accepted by the president, but that appears to be only a formality. Yanukovych last week offered the premiership to Arseniy Yatsenyuk, one of the opposition's top figures. Yatsenyuk turned down the offer.
The prime minister's resignation would remove one of the figures the opposition most despises, and the repeal of the anti-protest laws should remove a severe aggravating factor in the crisis. Yatsenyuk hailed the move, saying: "We have repealed all the laws against which the whole country rose up."
Another potential sticking point is that the proposed amnesty for arrested protesters will not be offered unless demonstrators stop occupying buildings and end their round-the-clock protests and tent camp in Kiev's central Independence Square.
Protest leaders say scores of people have gone missing, presumably arrested.
Three protesters died in the clashes last week, two of whom were shot by hunting rifles, which police insist they do not use.
Jan. 28, 2014 | Times
KIEV, Ukraine) - Ukraine's parliament has repealed anti-protest laws that set off violent clashes between protesters and police after they were put in place this month.
...on Monday, the justice minister, Olena Lukash, demanded that antigovernment demonstrators leave a main Justice Ministry building they have occupied in Kiev, the capital, on Sunday night, warning that if they did not withdraw she would urge Mr. Yanukovych to break off negotiations and impose a state of emergency in the country.... ... ... By early afternoon, protesters withdrew from the Justice Ministry building, but warned that they were prepared to seize it again depending on developments in Parliament on Tuesday. The retreat was announced by Oleksandr Danylyuk, the leader of a faction of protesters called Common Cause.
January 23, 2014 | The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity
"the so-called liberals and moderates are playing with fire," Almond concludes, saying that the extremist mob now clashing with police in the streets might turn against them, too. "It's a very unstable situation, and I think that Vitaly Klitchko, Yatsenyuk, Parshenko - these leaders whom the West courts - are playing with fire, and so is the West," Almond believes.
"They want a collapse of Yanukovich's government, a revolution of a sort. They, of course, then want to glide safely into the presidential office and into the seats of power, but they will have depended upon the heavy mob, these extreme nationalists of Ukraine who chant anti-Russian slogans, anti-Jewish slogans, and who of course have got a taste of violence, and, who will see themselves if they are able to overthrow Yanukovich, as the people who brought about the revolution," he told RT. "And of course we've seen in the past once you move from having elections as the basis of political power to the crowd in the street, to the storming of the government buildings, that can slide out of control: the people who think they are the leaders today could find themselves marginalized, the people who today are willing to use incitements to violence by denouncing the current government as being tyrants could find themselves being targeted by the same people who are throwing Molotov cocktails tomorrow."
Mark Almond also points out that the situation is "a sinister, cynical political power game about the Ukraine, which has implications for the functioning of the constitutions of the Western Europe, for the functioning of our own democracy.
January 24, 2014 | Washington Post
The Ukrainian parliament recently passed legislation directly modeled on Russian precedents. The laws curb demonstrations, using language broad enough to apply to almost any gathering. They criminalize "slander," which might mean any criticism of the government. They require the members of any organization with any foreign funding, including the Greek Catholic Church, to register as "foreign agents," which is to say spies. These laws were passed at night, with a show of hands. Deputies did not discuss them or, in some cases, even read them.
Within days, the center of the capital, Kiev, became a war zone. Men with truncheons used clouds of tear gas to break up protesters who have been demonstrating against corruption and Russian influence since November. Priests said Mass before the barricades; buses burned in the snow. Riot police shot people with rubber bullets. Then they shot them with real bullets. Others were hauled away and beaten. Anyone standing near the scene Tuesday received a text message from the phone company: "Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance." So far, five people are dead.
These events are so harsh, and so contrary to what anyone expected, that they should lead us to abandon immediately some of the illusions we have long held about this part of the world. First and foremost, it's time to abandon the myth of the "color revolutions": the belief that peaceful demonstrators, aided by a bit of Western media training, will eventually rise up and nonviolently overthrow the corrupt oligarchies that have run most of the post-Soviet orbit since 1991. The history of Ukraine, from the 2004 Orange Revolution until now, has proved this belief to be false.
In fact, corrupt oligarchs, backed by Russian money and Russian political technology, are a lot stronger than anyone ever expected them to be. They have the cash to bribe a parliament's worth of elected officials. They have the cynicism to revive the old Soviet technique of selective violence: One or two murders are enough to scare off many thousands of demonstrators; one or two arrests will suffice to remind businessmen who is boss. They have also learned to manipulate media (as the Russians do) to multiply their money in Western financial institutions (as the Russians do), even to send threatening text messages. They have crafted a well-argued, well-funded, alternate narrative about Western economic decline and cultural decadence. A friend jokingly calls this the "all your daughters will become lesbians" line of argument, but it is surprisingly powerful.
... ... ...
Anne Elizabeth Applebaum (born 1964) is an Polish American journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has written extensively about communism and the development of civil society in Central and Eastern Europe. She has been an editor at The Economist, and a member of the editorial board of The Washington Post (2002–2006) and Slate Magazine. She is married to Poland's Minister of Foreign Affairs Radosław Sikorski.
Jan 27, 2014 | Ukrainian Pravda
David Kremer was in the past Undersecretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Human Rights, he also worked in State Department in Europe and Eurasia. As a member of the Bush team, his views are more radical than in the current US administration. But his proposals sooner or later finds thier way into steps of the current US administration. Kramer was the first to call for sanctions on December 3, the last year - and approximatly a month later, US administration announced the first restrictions for Ukrainian officials.
In addition to thse activities, the organization led by Kremer prepares an annual report on freedom around the world, to which the U.S. authorities refer in public justification of policy steps toward the "problem" countries.
In an interview with "Ukrainian Pravda" David Kramer predicts that further steps will be taken by the U.S. authorities against Yanukovych - and gives advice on whom Washington ahouls concentrate its pressure as soon as possible.\
Q: Mr. Kramer, how President Yanukovychas is now perceived in Washington ?
A: Yanukovych looks very bad due to latest events. He looked bad when he decided to stop the process of the EU integration, he looked bad when it was first used force on November 30, and then on December 9. He looked bad throughout all past months.
Now it starts to look like a leader, who will do everything to stay in power. The use of force against protesters is unacceptable. And when the West is saying that something is unacceptable, that we do not accept it, we have to do something about it.
I think that Yanukovych lost the confidence of the West, and any possibility of signing the association agreement with the European Union lost. Now the question is whether Yanukovych is able to conduct a dialogue for the peaceful resolution of the conflict - or pressure should be applied to those around him to try to remove him from power.
To remove peacefully, without coup detat. I tend to think that the attempts to negotiate the settlement will not work, no matter how much I want them to happen. I think that too much blood has been spilled, too much violence occurred. So the question on the agenda is how to put pressure on its close cicle.
Q: Not to him personally ?
A: To him as well. But I would start with the people around him and who are very close to him: his family. And then just increase the pressure from that point.
Q: Did he reached the point of no return ?
A: I think so.
Q: What does this mean?
A: In 2010, Yanukovych won legitimately, in election which were considered by most observers, including me, democratic. I was there during the two rounds of elections. But to win a legitimate election - it does not guarantee legitimacy fo the rest of the life! I would say that today Yanukovych lost legitimacy due to his behavior.
From the early event in Ukraine my organization was for his resignation and early presidential elections, but not for his overthrow and not for forceful removal of him from power by protesters or by military or anyone else.
For him it's time to draw the correct conclusions: admit that he ruined his own legitimacy and now is the time to resign. He created this reality by himselve, not that somebody else created it for him.
The West should apply pressure on him - and those around him - so that it became clear to him and his close cicle that human rights violations, violence against protestors entail consequences. If we do not do that - the situation will only became worse.
Q: What is the future for Yanukovych?
A: I still think the best option for him is to resign, allowing to run for another term in the new elections if he wants to. Let the voters to decide whether they want him back in office. But we can not pretend that nothing happened. We can not wait until next March for new presidential elections.
Q: Should the opposition give him some guarantees?
A: This probably will be not a popular idea among opposition supporters to do so. But I would be inclined to say that they have to provide them.
Q: What are the guarantees?
A: For example, that before the new presidential elections there will be no investigation of Yanukovich actions. And only after elections independent investigators should determine whether there are grounds for such an investigation or not. The key now is to stop the violence. And if that condition is achieved, there should be such guarantees, if Yanukovych agreed to resign.
Q: Party of the Regions reply to all the statements of Western leaders that in Europe and America to the police would act similarly in the case of such disturbances.
A: You can not compare democracy in the United States and Ukraine . Our democracy is built over time, we have an independent judiciary , we have separation of powers, we have a system of checks and balances , we have a strong civil society, a strong media. Ukraine has only some of this.
I think that civil society manifested itself impressively in the last few years. Journalists like you and others behaved remarkably well despite the existence of a real threat. But Parliament is not a truly independent, judicial system is abused by the government. As long as there is no real separation of powers in Ukraine, and the courts did not become independent, our countries can not be compared.
Q: Also, the Ukrainian government said that in America there is the same legislation that passed the Party of Regions. For example, criminal liability for defamation.
A: First, in the USA slander is not a criminal offense. This is a civil issue , which is decided by the court, and a person may be awarded damages. Second, approval of legislation on Jan. 16 was totally undemocratic, untransparent, just by vote. This was really stupid.
Why Yanukovych went for it ? I think they would use the law to begin the attack on protesters. Although it would be far better to leave them alone. After all demonstrations lose momentum if they do not face countermeasures. However, this legislation added fuel to the fire.
Of course, there should be no violence by the protesters, but they also has the right for defence in case the fire at them. We should not equate the violence of a small minority of protesters to the level of violence committed by the authorities entrusted with a great responsibility.
Q: What will be the next step towards Ukraine USA ?
A: The U.S. announced the first round of visa sanctions, we do not know against whom specifically. Not even the number of persons named in this list. I hope that the U.S. will announce another round of visa sanctions, but more importantly - the freezing of assets, the introduction of financial sanctions. I know there are steps in this direction, some work on it. I hope they will be announced soon, although in my view they should already be annonced. I have worked in government for eight years and I know that those things take longer than some people would like.
Q: During your work in the Bush administration do you have any experience of implementing sanctions ?
A: Yes, with respect to Belarus. Ukraine is not Belarus , but unfortunately , getting closer and closer to it. Yanukovych is behaving more and more like Lukashenko. But Lukashenko, if you remember, was hit by visa sanctions and asset freeze not only the U.S. but also from the European Union.
Q: How would you start this policy of sanctions ?
A: Ideally, the U.S. and the EU should work together. America must take the lead because the EU comprises 28 governments. And to reach agreement in a team is difficult, while the U.S. has only one government and the agreement is much easier to find . After the U.S. does, the EU would be easier to follow it .
Q: How long does it takes for sanctions to be in full force?
A: In Belarus, it began after the presidential elections in March 2006, and the financial and visa sanctions take effect in June. That is, it takes a few months. But it should not take so long in the case of Ukraine, at least I hope so.
Q: Do you think that Yanukovych is afraid of sanctions ?
A: I do not know whether Yanukovych fear of sanctions. But I think people around him do have the fear of sanctions.
Q: Whom do you mean ?
A: I mean some of the oligarchs. Such as Akhmetov, Firtash, Kolomoysky sons of Yanukovych, and we can continue this list up to Yanukovich personally. So we have to build up pressure , affecting the way those people think.
Q: An the goal should be a revolt of oligarchs against the President ?
A: I think I should try to push those people out of the circle of Yanukovych, to make them understand that it's time to make the most important decision in their life: on which side they want to be ? And we can help them make that decision, hinting that there inevitably will be consequences for the events which are now happening in Ukraine.
Q: How would you rate the work of opposition in the current situation ?
A: They are in a difficult position. The question is to what extent they control the protesters. I think some of them behaved courageously - remember how Klitschko put himself between protesters and police. The key is to unite the opposition - they must show that there is an alternative to Yanukovych, who has already communicated that he is determined to stay in power at any cost . I hope he will understand what is on the wrong track.
Jan 27, 2014 | NYTimes.com
...on Monday, the justice minister, Olena Lukash, demanded that antigovernment demonstrators leave a main Justice Ministry building they have occupied in Kiev, the capital, on Sunday night, warning that if they did not withdraw she would urge Mr. Yanukovych to break off negotiations and impose a state of emergency in the country.... ... ... By early afternoon, protesters withdrew from the Justice Ministry building, but warned that they were prepared to seize it again depending on developments in Parliament on Tuesday. The retreat was announced by Oleksandr Danylyuk, the leader of a faction of protesters called Common Cause.
Dec. 12, 2012 | nightslantern.ca
How is Europe to deal with all those displaced by U.S. / NATO wars on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria ? What responsibility does Greece have for the refugees of the West's new world order ? Forced into debt, Greece is additionally burdened by several hundred thousand displaced people seeking refuge. Of these about fifty thousand are officially noted as "refugees" by the UN Refugee Agency.
A recent poll shows popularity of the extreme-right political party, "Golden Dawn," has risen from 7% (435,000 votes) at the last election to 13.5%. With the same formula as the "Jobbik" Party in Hungary, or Geert Wilders' "Party for Freedom" in the Netherlands, "Golden Dawn" appeals to the majority's racial, religious, language identity, and rises through making vulnerable groups scapegoats for political gain. Once started, this mechanism extends as additional groups are sacrificed to deflect populist anger. Historically the parties are a danger to refugee, immigrant, Roma, Jewish, Muslim and LGT communities, and find power to effect their policies through parliamentary alliances with establishment conservatives. In Austria the far-right now includes "Team Stronach," recently founded by the Austrian/Canadian auto-parts magnate. As the crushing austerity programs are forced on Greece, a nationalist extreme right gains power to serve the enforcers. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) describes "Golden Dawn" as a "neo-Nazi, racist and xenophobic political party."
To protest "Golden Dawn," Mouvement Antiracist EuropИen / European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (EGAM), has called for a march in Athens, December 15th at 3 PM, from the Greek Parliament to the Acropolis. EGAM (egam-eu.blogspot.ca/) attempts to mobilize decency beyond ideologies in a European society suffering from anti-communism, Disneyland, the Heimat syndrome, and austerity programs. In France EGAM has organized for Roma pride. Last May thousands internationally, signed its petition "We are all Greek Jews" (still open to signature at http://weareallgreekjews.eu ). But to understand what decency is up against, consider what "Golden Dawn" is:
In WWII, EAM (the Communist Party and aligned resistance) freed Greece from occupation. The Allies formed an army of royalists and the right wing to fight against EAM, and won after resistance groups fought each other. The resulting 'democracy' was taken over by NATO supported Greek special forces, and a military junta ruled from 1967 to 1974. Return to democracy allowed superficial stabilization. In the 1980's "Golden Dawn" was initially sponsored by the imprisoned leaders of the military junta. Covert military organizations were officially dissolved in 1988, but their chain of command, loyalties, and m.o., were not reliant on Greek officialdom. Could remnants of these have been activated to "control" the influx of refugees ?
NATO operations in Greece have shown some parallels to descriptions of the CIA's Operation "Gladio" throughout Europe, which left covert paramilitary units in each country at the end of WWII to fight Communist takeovers. These were used to counter the democratic election of Communist candidates. With proven application in Italy, operational tactics included destabilization, assassination, false flag operations, terrorizing voters, mobs with a purpose, individual murders, car burnings, chaos, which shifted the voting public to the right. "Gladio" elements were based in right wing fringe parties, police, military and intelligence networks. To quote Wikipedia on Gladio in Italy:
According to The Guardian [Ed Vulliamy, Dec. 5, 1990],"General Geraldo Serravalle, a former head of 'Office R', told the terrorism commission that at a crucial Gladio meeting in 1972, at least half of the upper echelons 'had the idea of attacking the communists before an invasion. They were preparing for civil war.' Later, he put it more bluntly: 'They were saying this: ''Why wait for the invaders when we can make a preemptive attack now on the communists who would support the invader?''' The idea is now emerging of a Gladio web made up of semi-autonomous cadres which √ although answerable to their secret service masters and ultimately to the NATO-CIA command √ could initiate what they regarded as anti-communist operations by themselves, needing only sanction and funds from the existing 'official' Gladio column."
Their alleged operations were not unlike those subsequently in evidence in Rwanda. Amid the overwhelming materials of Peter Erlinder's Rwanda Documents Project, is "Operation Order no. 11" from the UN Mission to Rwanda, of May 1994, which finds a "Third Force" in the war between Paul Kagame's RPF and Rwandan Government Forces (RGF) during the genocide:
(2) There is however a third element or force that has significantly affected the overall situation behind the RGF lines. This force has been mixing with the general population and seems to have its base in the political militia, youth wings and the local quarter self-defence groups with some overt support of the Military/Gendarmerie. These groups have often demonstrated fanatical and ruthless actions and quite often are under the influence of alcohol and drugs while at the barricades or while roving the streets and hillsides. They seem to have been the principle authors, as far as can be ascertained, . [sic.] of the terrible atrocities and destruction throughout most of the country.
(3) Each individual military or self-defence cell seem to have a self appointed leader who does not necessarily obey or take orders from anyone in the normal chain of authority. They are mostly armed with traditional weapons but several of them carry arms and grenades. They seem to have enough money. [sic.] to sustain their sections. ...etc.
Faced with a huge influx of people escaping NATO's destabilization of devastated countries, the Greek government is pursuing its policy of deporting and detaining those the media call "illegal immigrants." These are often refugees, with the human rights of refugees. In the tradition of Festung Europa, Frontex (The European Union's collective border defense force ) is deployed. The Greek government is building 50 new detention camps.
The screw of fascism's advance is tightened in Greece with "Golden Dawn's" overt racist insults in Parliament, epithets, provocations and public acts of violence against innocents. Some of these events are widely reported or shown on TV. Extreme right wing street tactics instill fear. The Church of Greece speaks from both sides of the aisle. Police inaction pushes the frightened to cooperation. Nationalist curricula are introduced into schools. A tactic of Greeks-only economies is developing. While "Golden Dawn" is the only party that takes to the streets to feed people (the press doesn't reveal its funding), to be fed you have to be Greek, white, and not LGT, and you have to speak Greek. Refugees, migrants, immigrants, are not fed. With a cloak of thuggery and neo-fascism, "Golden Dawn" puts aside decency to effect a single group's agenda without implicating its masters.
In its early stages "Golden Dawn" seemed to operate as a psychological warfare unit. Initially a tiny group, the smooth transition from a fear unit to political machine garnering 435,000 votes suggests a pre-planned operation, with deep organization and funding.
On December 15th, hundreds perhaps many thousands of Greeks will join the professors and teachers who have signed with EGAM to walk the walk from Parliament to the Acropolis. Last week a "Golden Dawn" office was bombed with a crude device. Anti-fascist protests continue to occur throughout Greece. Anti-fascist motorcycle club patrols appear in Athens. In September shipyard workers storm the defense ministry for their pay. In October 70,000 protest austerity measures at Parliament. On November 17th to mark the killing of a student which started the uprising against the military junta nearly forty years ago, 20,000 march on the U.S. and Israeli embassies. In Thessaloniki, November 28, 8000 people protest resource extraction by Canada's Eldorado Gold Corp. In Athens the Federation of municipal employees calls a strike for Dec. 14th . Migrants in two of the detention centres riot because conditions are unsanitary. No one can adequately protest the closing of fifty hospitals. The strength of resistance remains with the students, the Unions, the people at large.
By John Bart Gerald, Dec. 12, 2012
Author posted Dec. 12, 2012
Brabant Solidarity Network
An understanding of the so called "stay behind groups", clandestine right-wing paramilitary and terrorist groups, supported by NATO, CIA, State Security services and criminal groups (among others), is essential in a way to understand post-WW2 Europe.
This stuff is genuinely fucked up.
This documentary is a pretty good piece of work for a basic understanding on the subject, focusing mainly on Italy and Belgium, though there where similar groups and organisations in pretty much every European country.
To read more:
Operation Gladio (Italian: Operazione Gladio) is the codename for a clandestine NATO "stay-behind" operation in Europe during the Cold War. Its purpose was to continue anti-communist actions in the event of a Soviet invasion and conquest. Although Gladio specifically refers to the Italian branch of the NATO stay-behind organizations, "Operation Gladio" is used as an informal name for all stay-behind organizations. The name Gladio is the Italian form of gladius, a type of Roman shortsword.
Operating in many NATO and even some neutral countries, Gladio was part of a series of national operations first coordinated by the Clandestine Committee of the Western Union (CCWU), founded in 1948. After the creation of NATO in 1949, the CCWU was integrated into the Clandestine Planning Committee (CPC), founded in 1951 and overseen by SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers, Europe), transferred to Belgium after France's official withdrawal from NATO's Military Committee in 1966 – which was not followed by the dissolution of the French stay-behind paramilitary movements.
The role of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in sponsoring Gladio and the extent of its activities during the Cold War era, and its relationship to right-wing terrorist attacks perpetrated in Italy during the "Years of Lead" (late 1960s to early 1980s) and other similar clandestine operations, is the subject of ongoing debate and investigation but has never been proven. Switzerland and Belgium have had parliamentary inquiries into the matter."·
February 29 2005 | prisonplanet.com
"You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple: to force ... the public to turn to the state to ask for greater security."
This was the essence of Operation Gladio, a decades-long covert campaign of terrorism and deceit directed by the intelligence services of the West -- against their own populations. Hundreds of innocent people were killed or maimed in terrorist attacks -- on train stations, supermarkets, cafes and offices -- which were then blamed on "leftist subversives" or other political opponents. The purpose, as stated above in sworn testimony by Gladio agent Vincenzo Vinciguerra, was to demonize designated enemies and frighten the public into supporting ever-increasing powers for government leaders -- and their elitist cronies.
First revealed by Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti in 1991, Gladio (from the Latin for "sword") is still protected to this day by its founding patrons, the CIA and MI6. Yet parliamentary investigations in Italy, Switzerland and Belgium have shaken out a few fragments of the truth over the years. These have been gathered in a new book, "NATO's Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe," by Daniele Ganser, as Lila Rajiva reports on CommonDreams.org.
Originally set up as a network of clandestine cells to be activated behind the lines in the event of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe, Gladio quickly expanded into a tool for political repression and manipulation, directed by NATO and Washington. Using right-wing militias, underworld figures, government provocateurs and secret military units, Gladio not only carried out widespread terrorism, assassinations and electoral subversion in democratic states such as Italy, France and West Germany, but also bolstered fascist tyrannies in Spain and Portugal, abetted the military coup in Greece and aided Turkey's repression of the Kurds.
Among the "smoking guns" unearthed by Ganser is a Pentagon document, Field Manual FM 30-31B, which details the methodology for launching terrorist attacks in nations that "do not react with sufficient effectiveness" against "communist subversion." Ironically, the manual states that the most dangerous moment comes when leftist groups "renounce the use of force" and embrace the democratic process. It is then that "U.S. army intelligence must have the means of launching special operations which will convince Host Country Governments and public opinion of the reality of the insurgent danger." Naturally, these peace-throttling "special operations must remain strictly secret," the document warns.
Indeed, it would not do for the families of the 85 people ripped apart by the Aug. 2, 1980 bombing of the Bologna train station to know that their loved ones had been murdered by "men inside Italian state institutions and ... men linked to the structures of United States intelligence," as the Italian Senate concluded after its investigation in 2000.
The Bologna atrocity is an example of what Gladio's masters called "the strategy of tension" -- fomenting fear to keep populations in thrall to "strong leaders" who will protect the nation from the ever-present terrorist threat. And as Rajiva notes, this strategy wasn't limited to Western Europe. It was applied, with gruesome effectiveness, in Central America by the Reagan and Bush administrations. During the 1980s, right-wing death squads, guerrilla armies and state security forces -- armed, trained and supplied by the United States -- murdered tens of thousands of people throughout the region, often acting with particular savagery at those times when peaceful solutions to the conflicts seemed about to take hold.
Last month, it was widely reported that the Pentagon is considering a similar program in Iraq. What was not reported, however -- except in the Iraqi press -- is that at least one pro-occupation death squad is already in operation. Just days after the Pentagon plans were revealed, a new militant group, "Saraya Iraqna," began offering big wads of American cash for insurgent scalps -- up to $50,000, the Iraqi paper Al Ittihad reports. "Our activity will not be selective," the group promised. In other words, anyone they consider an enemy of the state will be fair game.
Strangely enough, just as it appears that the Pentagon is establishing Gladio-style operations in Iraq, there has been a sudden rash of terrorist attacks on outrageously provocative civilian targets, such as hospitals and schools, the Guardian reports. Coming just after national elections in which the majority faction supported slates calling for a speedy end to the American occupation, the shift toward high-profile civilian slaughter has underscored the "urgent need" for U.S. forces to remain on the scene indefinitely, to provide security against the ever-present terrorist threat. Meanwhile, the Bushists continue constructing their long-sought permanent bases in Iraq: citadels to protect the oil that incoming Iraqi officials are promising to sell off to American corporations -- and launching pads for new forays in geopolitical domination.
Perhaps it's just a coincidence. But the U.S. elite's history of directing and fomenting terrorist attacks against friendly populations is so extensive -- indeed, so ingrained and accepted -- that it calls into question the origin of every terrorist act that roils the world. With each fresh atrocity, we're forced to ask: Was it the work of "genuine" terrorists or a "black op" by intelligence agencies -- or both?
While not infallible, the ancient Latin question is still the best guide to penetrating the bloody murk of modern terrorism: Cui bono? Who benefits? Whose powers and policies are enhanced by the attack? For it is indisputable that the "strategy of tension" means power and profit for those who claim to possess the key to "security." And from the halls of the Kremlin to the banks of the Potomac, this cynical strategy is the ruling ideology of our times.
January 23, 2014 | GlobalPost
The prime mover in organizing Kiev opposition protesters in bloody clashes with the security forces has been a shadowy far-right group called Right Sector rather than Ukraine's established anti-government leaders.
The trio of opposition leaders who spearheaded two months of anti-government protests since late November were taken by surprise by the clashes that broke out on Sunday, blaming the authorities for the unrest but steering clear of condoning violence by the protesters.
Instead the main group involved in the clashes has been an organisation known as Pravy Sektor (Right Sector), a group which has an avowed aim of overthrowing the "occupation" regime of President Viktor Yanukovych, if necessary by force.
It seeks to give Ukraine "people's rule" by Ukrainians, free of the slightest trace of Russian influence.
It does not share the mainstream opposition's enthusiasm for EU integration, seeing Ukraine as a strong, independent state.
"We, the nationalists, have to throw off the regime of internal occupation in a revolutionary way, no other way is available," one of its leaders, Andriy Tarasenko, 31, told AFP in an interview in Kiev.
The two months of protests in Ukraine that erupted over the government's rejection of an EU deal have radicalized in recent days amid the inability of opposition leaders to bring about change.
Traditional opposition groups sidelined
Little-known until the last days, the group does not seek to cooperate with any of the opposition parties, accusing them of being unable to counter the authorities effectively.
It has no link to Ukraine's traditional ultra-nationalist party Svoboda (Freedom) and its leader Oleg Tyagnybok, who has taken a far lower profile in recent days after the clashes broke out.
It regards the two other main opposition leaders, world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko and Fatherland party leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk with even more disdain.
"People came out to protest to act, while those (opposition leaders) occupying the stage over two months did everything not to change the situation," said Tarasenko.
Klitschko, Yatsenyuk and Tyagnybok found themselves whistled by protesters at a mass rally on Sunday.
Right Sector -- which includes groups of hard core football fans -- organizes its actions on the Internet through Facebook and other social networks.
It is an offshoot of a group named Trident which says it is based on principles of "traditional Ukrainian Christianity and the ideology of Ukrainian nationalism".
Trident says it draws its inspiration from the hugely controversial leader of the anti-Soviet wartime rebel group the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), Stepan Bandera, whose organisation fought the Soviet authorities in World War II and even into the 1950s.
Ukraine's deputy interior minister said this week that there were at least 500 activists of Right Sector and similar groups in Kiev, living in municipal buildings seized by the protest movement.
'This is war'
Oct 30, 2012 | BloombergBut here is why Ukraine is so difficult to read and handle, for all of its neighbors. To start with, Svoboda (which translates as Freedom), must be Europe's only neo-fascists who are also pro-EU. Meanwhile, Yulia Tymoshenko, the jailed heroine of the 2004 Orange Revolution, says the EU is wrong to punish Ukraine for her treatment by freezing its association agreement with the bloc. And the supposedly pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych doesn't even want to join Russia's customs union, if he can avoid it.
Svoboda's success and Yanukovych's behavior are troubling. But for the EU and the U.S. alike, the priority should be to avoid widening the fissures between the Ukrainian-speaking west and Russian-speaking east, or driving the government into the arms of Vladimir Putin, Russia's President.
Svoboda has cleaned up its act. In 2004 it changed its name from the Social-Nationalist Party and dropped a Swastika-like emblem. Still, much of its appeal lies in hardcore ethnic- Ukrainian nationalism and a hatred of Poles, Russians, Jews and gays. These have deep roots in Ukraine's history and should give pause.
Svoboda's leaders glorify those Western Ukrainians who welcomed the Nazis in 1941, seeing the Germans as potential liberators from Soviet rule. Those same Ukrainians also collaborated in the widespread murder of Jews and Poles. As in the Baltic states, there is a sharp division here over how to interpret the motives of those who worked with the Nazis and how they should be remembered today.
What the election result shows is a growing risk that disenchanted voters will again mix up Ukrainian nationalism with xenophobia. Svoboda, led by Oleh Tiahnybok, supported the 2004 Orange Revolution. It was later expelled from the group surrounding former president Viktor Yushchenko, when Tiahnybok made a speech saying that Ukraine was ruled by a "Moscow-Jewish mafia." It was not the only speech he made that was loaded with this sort of language.
Tiahnybok has said that while he does not regret using those words, he was misinterpreted. He also says his party is neither xenophobic nor anti-Semitic. In any case, for Svoboda's supporters, Russophobia remains the party's main attraction. All votes have not yet been counted, but the party looks set to win about 33 of the Rada's 450 seats.
On election day, while on a trip to Ukraine organized by the German Marshall Fund, I went to Irpin, a small town outside Kiev. There I met Sergeii, a 48-year-old musician, who didn't give his full name because he was at a polling station. He told me he had voted for Svoboda because he wanted "Ukraine to be a powerful country, and if we have to choose between Europe and Russia it is Europe for us. Russia is Asia and I don't trust Asians."
The party presents itself as the only one that wants a "Ukraine for Ukrainians," and not for the ethnic Russians who make up 17.3 percent of the population and who live mostly in the east. Ethnic Russians form the bedrock of support for the ruling Party of the Regions, but many more are simply Russian speakers who switch happily between the two Slavic languages, depending on the circumstance.
Surely, There's a lot of arguments. You'll have just to read their party's programme containing proposals of death penalty for 'anti-ukrainian' activity - and what is such activity they want to define themselves. When you read there programme, you always stumble upon^ 'Death penalty', 'ban', 'prohibit'. To ban abortion, to ban the left-wing organisations. 'To ban any protest or demonstration when it is anti-ukrainian' (and they decide what it means!)!
I've met a lot of them in real life - supporters of the third reich, anti-semits and nazi-football hooligans. Ukrainian criminal chronicle is full of facts of racist attacks of the Roma camps, burning down of the Roma people's tents, beating of the opponents.
"Svoboda' in some cities organized a terror campaign against opponents. This party includes a great number of nazi-hooligans wearing third-reich symbolics. It's leaders like Michalchishin insist on 'returning of the Polish lands".
That's why Poland is so anxious about the rise of this party. If one wants to get rid of 'mafia regime' - it doesn't mean to support street-gangs of nazists striving to get power.
October 5, 2012 | RealClearWorld
The past weighs heavily on us. That's the message that I got during the first week of a sabbatical in southern Europe. Two incidents, one in Rome and the other outside Athens, showed this roving historian firsthand the real presence of neo-Fascism.
Soon after arriving in Rome, my wife and I took a stroll in the Villa Sciarra. This lovely park across the Tiber sits on the grounds of a former estate, with a 17th-century villa in the center.
A plaque on the wall of the villa states that the last owner, Henrietta Wurts, donated the estate to the people of Rome. Oddly enough, two lines of the inscription have been erased. Or not so strangely, once you look at the date – 1932. That year came smack in the middle of the Fascist era, so it doesn't take much imagination to fill in the blanks. Signora Wurts gave the estate to Italy's dictator, Benito Mussolini, known as "the leader" – Il Duce in Italian. The only condition was that he make it a public park, which he did.
As my wife and I stood discussing this, a rather disheveled man approached us. Complaining loudly in Italian about the "shame" of the erasure, the gentleman went on to call the Italian dictator's expunging from the plaque a "disgrace." He gave Mussolini the term of respect that was used to describe him in the Fascist era, "il cavaliere Benito Mussolini," that is, Sir Benito. He then pulled out a small medallion stamped with Mussolini's face. We walked away, slowly.
In a sense, the incident was no surprise. Italy is a wonderful country and the Italians are the salt of the earth. But society there has never come to grips with its painful past. That an Italian would openly praise Mussolini to foreign strangers was, sadly, plausible.
Still, I guess the Rome incident could be filed under 'C' for crank - not so the set of events a few days later in Greece; they were downright disturbing. What happened was this: We were visiting a small city near Athens to take part in a historical commemoration. It was a great event. Justly famous for their hospitality and friendship, the Greeks did not disappoint. A number of different ceremonies were scheduled over a period of several days. At one of them, representatives of Greece's various political parties were invited to take part.
We noticed that one group of attendees was wearing black tee shirts, reminiscent of Fascist paramilitary groups in pre-1945 Europe. They were supporters of Golden Dawn. A political party, Golden Dawn recently broke into the big leagues, scoring 18 out of 300 seats in this year's parliamentary elections, making it the fifth largest party in Greece.
Proudly nationalist and openly racist, Golden Dawn follows the motto, "Greece for the Greeks." Greece has a very large immigrant population, and Golden Dawn opposes immigration. In a country of 11 million people, 1.5 million are immigrants – many of them non-white, thus adding a racial dimension. Members of Golden Dawn have been involved in a number of violent incidents against immigrants and political opponents.
But, as Greek friends have told me, Golden Dawn also engages in charitable works, such as escorting the elderly to the bank in dangerous neighborhoods. My Greek friends found this as clever as it is disturbing. It is no surprise that support for Golden Dawn is rising, as is Greek backlash and concern.
Golden Dawn rejects the label of neo-Fascist or neo-Nazi, but its symbolism suggests otherwise. On closer look, we saw that its supporters' black shirts boasted a Greek Key design subtly resembling a swastika. There was certainly nothing subtle about the shout with which they made their presence known at the ceremony, resembling something between a football cheer and a war cry.
The next day, members of Golden Dawn advertised themselves at another event. Representatives of political parties had not been invited there. About 50 supporters of Golden Dawn rode by on motorcycles as dignitaries arrived at a luncheon - an event featuring several Greek and foreign officials. Several of those on motorcycles carried Greek flags as they passed loudly by.
These were minor incidents, I suppose. Minor, until you consider what they might symbolize.
Golden Dawn openly identifies with the Metaxas dictatorship of pre-World War II Greece, an authoritarian if not quite fascist regime. No one is talking about another authoritarian government that ruled Greece more recently. Yet it was only about 40 years ago that Greece was freed from the dictatorship of the colonels, a military junta that overthrew democracy in a violent coup in 1967. The colonels fell in 1974 only because they had badly over-extended themselves in a plot to take over Cyprus. That backfired disastrously, leading to a Turkish invasion of Cyprus that has divided the island to this day. The colonels collapsed in disgrace and handed power back to civilians.
Greek democracy had thrived since the junta's fall in 1974, until the recent financial crisis, that is. Now, forced into a drastic and unpopular austerity program by its backers in the European Union, Greek governments have been battered by the rise of extremists not only on the right but also on the left, where Syriza, the Coalition of the Radical Left, nearly won the last parliamentary election.
Italy's economy is in severe recession, and Greece faces a downright depression. That alone is no doubt enough to explain the rise of a group like Golden Dawn or the mouthing of a busybody in a park in Rome.
But neither is enough to soothe the worry that something ugly is brewing in the lands that gave birth to democracy and republicanism. As the leaders of Europe ponder their next moves, they need to remember that more than bank balances are at stake. Extremism has exacted a terrible price in Europe's not-so-distant past. We must not pay it again.
In this wide-ranging interview, John Batchelor speaks with NYU Professor of Russian History Stephen F. Cohen about the violent turn of Kiev's street protests and terrorist threats at the Sochi Olympics. According to Cohen, US officials maintain an overly simplified view of the Ukraine protests, failing to differentiate between the pro-EU and ultranationalist factions, and their interference is exacerbating tensions between Russia and the United States. Cohen said, "As this Western/Russian standoff grows into a full-scale confrontation, it spills over and spoils the opportunities for cooperation in Syria, on Iran and at the Sochi Olympics."
For more on the unfolding situation in Kiev, listen to Cohen's interview on KPFA 94.1's Letters and Politics.
Stephen, have you noticed the similarities between what is happening today in the Ukraine and what happened in the run up to the war against Qaddafi in Libya and the ongoing war against Assad in Syria? One of the common links is the willingness of the U.S. government under Obama to recognize so-called "opposition forces" as the legitimate governments of those countries prior to their assuming power with the help of the U.S.
This is being repeated in the Ukraine, where the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and its allied operatives of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the George Soros Open Society Institute are backing the themed, astro-turf protests of the pro-EU Blue Buckets organized by the CIA and Britain's MI6
Jan 21, 2014 | The American Conservative
...According to the scholar Fritz Fischer-who became the German Left's darling, despite his background as a loyal Nazi-the war was planned and initiated by a Germany bent on world domination. What other belligerents did to get the ball rolling in 1914, Fischer suggests in his 1961 book Germany's Bid for World Power, was inconsequential. The rest of Europe was pulled into a struggle that Germany had planned for decades, a conflagration its antidemocratic ruling class and ultranationalist public happily initiated.
Defenses of the Fischer thesis and other versions of the outbreak of the Great War stressing exclusive German or Austro-German responsibility have been driven by moral and ideological considerations. Unfortunately, there are facts that historians until recently tried studiously to avoid. As critics of Fischer's position were already showing in the early '60s, his singling out of his own country, already burdened with Nazi crimes, for starting an earlier Euro- pean war was based on questionable investigative methods.
Fischer and his followers ignored what other European countries did to provoke the Great War, unfairly blackened the reputation of German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg-who tried earnestly to iron out differences between England and his country for at least three years before the war started-and misquoted key German actors in the conflict, such as the Kaiser and the chief of the German general staff.
In recent decades those who write non-prescribed histories dealing with the outbreak of the First World War typically ignore Fischer and like-minded interpreters. Niall Ferguson in The Pity of War, Konrad Canis in his massive three-volume German work on the failures of German diplomacy leading to the "abyss" in 1914, Christopher Clark in The Sleepwalkers, and Sean McMeekin in The Russian Origins of World War One have all produced estimable studies about the Great War that are clearly incompatible with Fischer's stress on exclusive German guilt.
All the Great Powers behaved rashly, and to their credit the most scrupulous historians do not spare any of the actors on the Allied side. The avoidable disaster of 1914 teaches us, according to Christopher Clark, how the Great Powers "sleep-walked" their way into a war from which European civilization never recovered. Russia in its drive to dismantle Turkey and control the Dardanelles; Britain in its efforts to reduce a rival's power even at the risk of encircling the German Empire with hostile alliances; Serbia in its attempts to split apart the Habsburg Empire; and France in its desperate desire to punish the Germans for defeat in the Franco-Prussian War all helped stir the pot.
Canis has shown in staggering detail how German foreign policy after the fall of Bismarck floundered for decades. The German Naval Program designed to achieve a 3:5 ratio in relation to the British navy, which was then the world's largest, was an irritant to British political leaders. It allowed firebrands like Winston Churchill-who became First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911-to exaggerate German hatred for England, which in fact was never particularly great, as Canis documents by looking at the German press.
The German government naively thought it could create a large enough navy to force the British to make an alliance with its fellow Northern European power. The royal families of the two countries were closely related, and the Kaiser believed his British cousins would never go to war with him-indeed, they would seek his friendship- if they couldn't blockade his coastline.
The Kaiser was wrong. Although Bethmann-Hollweg managed to halt the German naval buildup by 1912, the British government still plowed on and plunged their country into further entangling alliances with Russia against the Germans. The British managed to bottle up the Germans even before the war began and then imposed what was probably an illegal starvation blockade until 1919.
Niall Ferguson argues convincingly that if Britain and the U.S. never entered the war-and even if the Central Powers prevailed after a long, bloody conflict-Britain would have remained Europe's premier power, blessed with an enormous navy, an extensive empire, and an economic lead over other European countries. No matter the outcome of the war, the U.S. would eventually have become the greatest world power on the basis of its industrial and agricultural wealth.
As it was, American intervention on the Allied (read British) side was always a matter of time. The U.S. government, as historians Thomas Fleming and Walter Karp have demonstrated, was never really neutral. Any crisis that put the Central Powers in a bad light was played up by America's fervently Anglophile political class. The sinking of the Lusitania by a German submarine in 1915 was not a belligerent act directed against the U.S.: the ship was loaded with arms and other contrabands that were earmarked for the British. The German government had warned Americans and other neutrals not to board the ship because it was a fair war target-as indeed it was.
Already in 1914 the American ambassador to London and a close friend of President Wilson, Walter Hines Page, had announced to British leaders that he would do all he could to bring the U.S. into the war on England's side as soon as an appropriate pretext could be arranged. No similar assurance was given by Page's counterpart in Berlin in talking with German leaders.
But Woodrow Wilson and his party were not the major backers of getting the U.S. involved in the bloodbath. Wilson delayed in the face of Republican hysteria about not moving fast enough to stand with England for "democracy." Today's neoconservatives are not the first to talk up the "Anglosphere." One-time Republican celebrities like Theodore Roosevelt, Elihu Root, and Henry Cabot Lodge were demanding in 1914 that we get into a European war we would have done well to stay out of. The GOP's horrid habits go back a very long way.
President George W. Bush exceeded in his calls for America to liberate the rest of the world any expression of chauvinism from a major European leader on the eve of World War I. But tactless behavior has not produced the consequences for us that it did for the "sleep-walking" subjects of Christopher Clark's history. We are lucky about where our country is located and how much wealthier and stronger we are relative to other states. What did Bismarck say about God looking after fools, drunkards and the United States of America?
Paul Gottfried is the author of Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America.
January 22, 2014 | Atlantic Council
...Moreover, Ukraine remains sharply divided between east and west. In Kyiv, and in central and western Ukraine, sentiments are overwhelmingly against Yanukovych. There, local governments and legislatures are likely to declare noncompliance with the orders of his central authorities. And as has been predicted by Ihor Smeshko, the former head of the Ukraine Security Service (SBU, the state's main police and intelligence agency), this kind of confrontation increases the risk that the military and the security services will split along this east-west divide.
Meanwhile, former Defense Minister Anatoly Hrytsenko, who served in that post from 2005 to 2007, reminded the Yanukovych camp that several million Ukrainians own guns, and that they include a large number of retired military snipers.
All this points to dire times in Ukraine....
Jan 25, 2014 | NYTimes.com
Opposition Says No to Ukraine on Power Share By DAVID M. HERSZENHORNJAN
Many demonstrators on the streets of Kiev, the capital, including some involved in violent clashes with the police, have been demanding Mr. Yanukovych's resignation, which he did not offer. And the fury of the crowd made clear that the leaders would almost certainly have faced a mutiny had they accepted the deal.
"Shame!" some chanted as Mr. Yatsenyuk began his remarks by saying that the opposition was not afraid to lead the country. Others shouted, "Betrayer!"
In a further complication, some of the most aggressive demonstrators are supporters of the nationalist Svoboda Party and its leader, Oleg Tyagnibok, who took part in the talks with Mr. Yanukovych but was not offered a position.
... ... ...
Mr. Yanukovych's willingness to remove Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, who has been his staunch ally through the more than two-month-long civic uprising, underscored just how much pressure he has been facing to contain the crisis.
His offer came as protests continued to spread across the country on Saturday, with efforts to occupy or blockade government buildings underway in at least a dozen cities besides Kiev. In recent days, it has become increasingly clear that the elite Berkut riot police and other Interior Ministry troops are outnumbered and would face enormous challenges if asked to enforce a state of emergency.
The American Conservative
... ... ...
Taken together, the testimony of Nuland and Melia seem to rest on a number of questionable assumptions:
- Clear and identifiable U.S. national interests are at stake in the debate currently being played out in Maidan Square.
- Without U.S. financial and moral support the opposition to the Yanukovych regime is unlikely to succeed.
- Russia, by offering the Ukrainian government a more attractive bailout package than that proposed by the EU and IMF, was acting in bad faith.
- The protesters in Maidan speak for all Ukrainian people, the vast majority of whom desire to be integrated into the EU.
- The outcome of the current crisis will have a definite effect on Russia's future development; if Ukraine chooses a European future, so too (someday) will Russia.
The Q&A portion of the hearing left little doubt that these assumptions are shared by committee chairman Robert Menendez, ranking member Sen. Bob Corker, and not surprisingly, Sens. Chris Murphy and John McCain, fresh off their recent trip to Kiev.
... ... ...As Princeton emeritus professor Stephen F. Cohen has trenchantly noted, "It is not democratic to overthrow a democratically elected government. It's the opposite of that."
Nor was there any recognition that Ukraine is deeply and almost evenly divided between Ukraine's westernizers in the urban centers such as Kiev and Lviv, and the Russophiles in the South and East, never mind the fact that Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus all have common roots which trace back to the Kievan Rus in the 9th century.
Zbigniew Brzezinski followed Nuland and Melia and for the most part shared the prevailing view of the hearing, particularly the idea-call it Democratic Domino Theory-that Ukraine's integration with the West would (somehow) lead Russia to follow a similar path. Yet while overstating Ukraine's strategic importance, Brzezinski did draw the committee's attention to the lessons Ukrainian Westernizers might take from the experiences of Poland's Solidarity movement of the 1980s.
Solidarity's distinguishing characteristic was that it was a "national movement for independence which became institutionalized." So while it was somewhat like Maidan, the key difference was that the opposition in Poland coalesced around the popular figure of Lech Walesa, who gradually "forced the ruling Communist regime to negotiate" a path to free elections that set Poland on the path to where it is today: a NATO member in good standing and a leading voice within the EU.
If the Ukrainian opposition is to succeed, then, it would be well advised to follow the example of the Solidarity movement-as Brzezinski suggests-and put quite a bit less hope in the fulsome rhetoric of the American political class that was in abundant supply at last week's hearing.
James Carden served as an advisor to the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission at the State Department from 2011-2012.
Polemika.com.uaIt is time to understand why Maidan turned into a brutal Mortal Combat imitation.
In modern history of Ukraine's there were quite a lot of similar conflicts. Such as "Ukraine without Kuchma ", the 2004 elections, and the struggle for the GPU under the leadership Tsushko, Maidan of entrepreneurs and assault of BP by Afghan veterans. But never has the country faced with similar riots and the threat of civil war. Yes, clashes and conflicts occured in the past, but without so much hatred and corpses .
So today we need to get a reasonable and balanced understanding of the current events, if we do not want turn Ukraine into Libya or Syria. In the latter case, the recovery will take decades.
Origin of social contradictions
Yes, the social contradictions in our society have accumulated many years. Soviet industrial legacy gradually disappeared, large part of industrial base was destroyed, the economy stagnated, excessive and criminal privatization resulted in a predominance of private property ( in most developed countries, the share of state property varies from 25 to 50 % of the economy, and we have about 5-6 %). Wealth inequality rose to extremes, the point were social caste system was established. Vertical mobility was destroyed.
Today MPs, judges, high-ranking officials - has already become a de facto closed high caste , where rank and position are inherited (sons of Yanukovych, Azarov, Chernovola, Pshonka, daughter of Orobtsa, brother of Tyagniboka, relatives of Poroshenko and Baloga and so on ) . They have become untouchable caste for members of which everything is allowed - corruption, beatings, murder, abuse, rape, pedophilia - there is no such crimes that can't be committed by the representatives of this caste " with complete impunity.
It is this this caste and its complete impunity (as well as reckless behaviour of the elite and especially their children) and associated level of social inequality are the real reasons of public anger the spills on Maidan.
Along with those real social contradiction unscrupulous and incompetent politicians for many years fanned several artificial confrontation lines - linguistic, ethnic, geographical , confessional. Instead of trying to harmonize the society, they tried to increase social division by inciting the voters to vote "against" opponents and not for anything constructive. We found ourselves in the current situation solely due to their ineptitude and immorality, the inability to offer any positive development path for the country, the inability to show their positive qualities ( the conspicuous absence of any), willingness to use the dirtiest methods of political struggle.
All this is further swelled with the help of irresponsible and corrupt media which not only chased sensationalism ( and continue to do ), but also openly practiced "allowed themes lists" of their owners. This shameful practice is especially visible in the main opposition TV channel, "the most private of all TV channels" the Fifth Channel. Which deteriorated to the level of non-stop praising his owner and covering any event only under the angle which is profitable to the owner in best North Korea TV style. If the owner of the channel is in power the current government is good, when he is in opposition the government is criminal. As simple as that. Yes, primitive and petty.
Totality of real injustice and artificially pumped up nationalism led to the precipitous growth of barely concealed resentment and difficult to suppress aggression .
Besides we now have extremely poor quality of education, leading to the fragmentation of knowledge about the world and uncritical thinking, and dominance of "Hollywood-vision" where life was portrayed in Western countries only in rose color led to the fact that in Ukraine a whole generation that mindlessly believe in common "European values", "liberalism" and "democracy" - all the things that do not really exist. A clear mismatch infantile expectations and harsh reality leads to frustration , depression and anger.
In western entertainment serials you never see workers in factories or peasants in the field - it's boring and banal. You see students that spent time in nice cafes and businessmen who earn fortune in offices, while flirting with secretaries . Moreover, even in the offices the main story does not revolve around product developed, or optimization of supply chains, but over who booze with whom and who slept with whom .
Mythology and technology EuroMaidan
On the exploitation of these dreams about possibility of easy, parasitic lifestyle in the West was based the currently expointed popular myth - the myth of European miracle that awaits us, to get which we just need to sign (in reality humiliating and very unprofitable for Ukraine economics) Association Agreement with the EU. All the same troika of Commissars - Yatsenyuk, Klitschko and Tyahnibok - sing praise and lied non-stop about the abolition of visas, entry into the EU , "European values" , " European salaries " and other unrealistic things.
Moreover, while Yanukovich was going to sign the Association , the majority of "Svidomitov" were ready to kiss his hands . On example of those jerks is Alexander Paly ( political scientist, known for his unsaturable appetite for foreign grants, Russophobe and promoter of the Euro-Atlanticisism ideas in Ukraine - ed). He even used to wrte a panegyrics to Yanukovych of the type "Let's praise holy Yanukovych with kind soft words", where he admired his European integration zeal. And they were ready to forgive him his stealing, his raider activities and all other sins. Sins that became completely unacceptable to them as soon as he declined to sign this the EU Association Agreement. Is not something wrong with this abrupt switch?
And when the myth of coming to Ukraine "European Happiness" was unceremoniously postponed till better times, provocateur Mustafa Nayemnik announced "EuroMaidan". Which was followed by a series of provocations, with each on consistently increasing the degree of inadequacy and aggression -- both from the government and from the protesters .
And technologies used and the sequence of steps the opposition followed for most sane people looked suspiciously similar the to the sequence of events during Orange Revolution (Tyahnibok once uttered something like " "Believe me, we know the right sequence").
Reasons for rejection of EuroMaidan by Southeastern Ukraine
It's very simple and obvious. If Maidan was originally against Yanukovych -- it would have supported a significant part of the country , dissatisfied with his policies. But Maidan has been tightly tied to European integration, against which a half of the country objected. And even when it ceased to be "euro" , many speakers continued to yell mantra of coming European bonanza.
The second obvious reason for rejection of EuroMaidan by the half of the country is the opposition troika (especially Mr. Tyagnibok) .The union of hated by most people the ultra-liberals by Yatsenuk " and ultra-nationalists of Svoboda will never be accepted by a significant part of Ukrainian citizens .
Sorry, but "Svoboda" has done everything possible to Maidan perceived hostilely. Those non stop chants "Glory to Ukraine, Glory to Heroes", "Death to Enemies", "Let's put Moskals on knives", and "Who does not jump with us is Moskal", as well as portraits of Bandera and torchlight night rallies. Majority (85-90%) of the population of Ukraine does not accept aggressive ethnic nationalism (Nazism ) of Svoboda. This is a medical fact. Some people probably tolerate them (not support, but just tolerate) but a huge number of people can not stand the Nazis.
Similarly, if violent clashes on Hrushevskoho Street occurred without ultras, the opposition would be supported not by just 10-11 % of the population (data of closed sociology polls, reproduced withour references ;-), but much higher percentage.
And do not tell me that "The Right Sector" is not running the show. That's not true. All media, even Maidan-friendly media are packed with photos of people with armbands depicting swastikas, Celtic crosses. Sam for inscriptions "1488 " on billboards , video shouting "Glory to Ukraine, Death to Enemies" and stories about how Jews were kicked off EuroMaidan. Therefore it is natiral to blame radical xenophobic nationalists for the complete rejection EuroMaidan by half of Ukraine and allergy to it for two thirds of population.
And if Klitschko did not join company of Tyagnibok, his rating would be much higher. Because such an alliance can only discredits politician. Nationalists will vote for "their" leaders in any case, but the rest of the country disgusted by such a liaison, now will think twice before voting for Klitschko .
This analysis of the current situation is confirmed by a new wave if violence during which "Maydawns" ( or how they should be called ? ) tried seize buildings of provincial administrations in many administrative capitals of Ukraine . They succeeded only in places, where the nationalists have the majority in the local councils -- in three or four provinces. That is, those actions were meaningless, as all their other actions Elsewhere in the attempt of "assaults " of regional administration by Svoboda storm troopers were beaten off, and some places storm troopers themselves were arrested.
An interesting details is that these assaults occurred simultaneously in different areas, so it is obvious that it is not spontaneous popular demonstrations, but centrally planned actions organized by local party officers who got the signal from the controlling center. In Vinnitsa, for example, the assault did not happened at all. There was just a protest meeting, provided with megaphones and usual parties symbols ( in small amounts ).
Again we see a picture that "Maydawns" really not acting on behalf of all the people (as they constantly and persistently declare ), but only a small ulta-nationalist minority. The other half of the people (actually significantly more then the half) does not want a civil war and reject the idea of domination of nationalists. As well as simple swap of Yanukovych to another representative of oligarchy more closelyh allied with ultras - and all three of the opposition troika are representative of the this brand of oligarchic capital. It is difficult to argue with this simple observation.
In reality, people standing on the Maidan as well as their sympathizers only listen to speeches from the stage , are watching only "their" channels , are reading read only "their" authors and refuse to accept the idea that they are not expressing the will of the nation as a whole. In other words it is a sect. In fact, they are unwitting victims of brainwashing by bought and corrupt media, which does not allow them to assess the facts and situation objectively. Moreover the slogans that they chant from the stage every five minutes such as "You represent the will of the Ukrainian people" washes away any remnants of critical thinking ( if there were any). As Gustave Le Bon wrote in his classic work "The Psychology of Peoples and the masses," the thinking of the crowd is uncritical and is subject to emotional not rational bias.
Many "Maydawns" think " A little more effort, and we will win", but the victory for them is as far away as the Second coming of Christ.
Nuances of the current situation
The ultras, as always, try to translate the class conflict, the conflict of "people vs. oligarchy" into the ethnic conflict (thus saving the oligarchs from the people's wrath). That's why they spread Russophobia nonsense, such as claims that Yanukovych is a Puppet of the Kremlin, that Berkut is actually Moscow OMON, and that pro-government protesters are actually ultras from Petersburg Zenith fan club, that Russian tanks are near Kiev, that Russian tanks are already in Borispol, and so on and so forth. But for some this is a medical condition. Actually I wonder if "Russian tanks in Borispol" cry by Lutsenko is not the result of delirium ?
Left activists in Kiev for the past two months have been repeatedly attacked by the "Svoboda ", " Right sector " and other nationalist groups. Calls to beat any who came to Maidan under red banners sounded even from the scene, and were supported by the EuroMaidan brass. They went as far as to throw stones at this part of protesters. Therefore, naturally, Left simply can not support those who attack them at every opportunity (I say this based on conversations with many of my friends ).
Several reckless anarchists who belong to the class of people who do not need real pretext and just ding for a change to fight the police are probably the only exception, They did take part in events at Hrushevskoho. But all the rest occupy the neutral position - neither for the one nor for those .
Left do not support Maidan simply because it in its current state is not directed against oligarchy and capitalism, but simply offers an opportunity to replace one criminal gang with the another. And it does not make any sense e to sacrificed health or even lives for this. Let the oligarchs themselves to fight and chose the winner among themselves. Our people should not participate in those fights, should they ? .
"Let's dethrone Yanukovich and we will instantly start to live better" is a lie, the same deception slogan that we have heard nine years ago. And tales about how "The rich will help the poor " after the events is another outright lie. I laughed at those stupid slogans during Orange revolution, and now that I'm much more experienced to believe those cheap "confidence tricks". I generally can hardly imagine how any reasonable person can buy into such a primitive propaganda no matter what is his/her ideological orientation. We should not be hooked by such propaganda. Simple swap of faces at the top changes absolutely nothing.
Left must fight against capitalism and imperialism, and the leaders Maidan want us to became West puppets, another national resources colony. No thanks, those natives do not need another wicked offer of "mirrors and beads" to sell their treasures to colonizers for nothing. West can now wear them themselves .
Left might support Maidan only if it get rid of nationalists and adopt a viable social program. But there are two preconditions:
- Maidan should do it by itself voluntarily, sending the Troika packing.
- People need to understand that in this case the confrontation will became much more brutal and the government which is flirting with the current protest and standing behind it oligarchy will really try to crush the protest with the help of their Western sponsors.
Only in this case there is a chance that Maidan will became an all-national social movement and enjoy the support of the rest of Ukraine . Can this Maidan to do that ? Can it get free from the chains of ultra-nationalism and of oligarchic parties? It's not for me to decide.
December 3, 2013 | NYTimes.com
ODESSA, Ukraine - Both Russia and Ukraine consider themselves European nations, part of Western civilization, and in both countries pluralities favor membership in the European Union. So how did the European Union manage to turn such a favorable situation against itself?
By pitting both nations against each other, and then attempting to force Ukraine to choose Europe over Russia. Instead of adopting a strategy that would have allowed Ukraine to capitalize on its close cultural, religious and economic ties with Russia, and which could have also served to build deeper ties between Western Europe and Russia, from the outset European negotiators went out of their way to turn Union association into a loyalty test.
First, they rejected Ukraine's suggestion - to which Russia initially had no objection - that accession to the European Union could be compatible with membership in the Customs Union, the precursor to a Eurasian Union linking former Soviet states. Now they have apparently also rejected President Viktor Yanukovich's proposal to resolve the remaining issues (the main one being the very real possibility of European goods being dumped into Russia through Ukraine) through a three-way format that would include efforts to curb cross-border smuggling - something one would think would also concern Brussels.
Second, instead of highlighting those values that would have honored Ukraine's Slavic European identity, the European Union actively promoted the notion that accession was a "civilizational choice" between Russia and Europe. Since the majority of Ukrainians traditionally regard Russia as their closest and friendliest neighbor, is it any wonder that they balked at such a choice?
Finally, European negotiators made the strategic error of ignoring substantial differences in traditional and religious values. The fear among a significant part of Ukraine's Christian population is that the European Union would impose a very liberal moral agenda on the Ukrainian legal and educational system, including nontraditional family values that many here categorically reject. Spokesmen for the European Union made no effort to assuage these concerns, and their condescension on this matter has placed a ticking bomb under European integration efforts throughout the entire region. In sum, instead of approaching these negotiations as a partnership, the European Union behaved more like the owner of a country club which, while it might consider allowing Ukraine to caddy, would never consider granting it club membership. No wonder Mr. Yanukovich called the entire process "humiliating" for his country.
The most important lesson to be drawn from the European Union's failure is the urgent need to alter the confrontational mind-set that drives the Eastern Partnership initiative. The response of Union officials to Ukraine's decision to defer this agreement reveals what many already suspected, that at its core the initiative is nothing more than an attempt to push Russia out of Europe by drawing its boundaries further to the East. But since Ukraine and Russia already see themselves as part of Europe, we can expect both countries to reject what they see as the pointlessly confrontational choice the European Union is placing before them: that being European means turning one's back on Russia.
Indeed, this false choice only builds momentum for the Eurasian Union. For one thing, this group respects the common cultural heritage left from Soviet times, which still holds significant appeal throughout the region. Second, in an effort to bolster ties, Russia already provides economic assistance to the region that is an order of magnitude greater than anything the European Union is even considering. Meanwhile, the final objective of both the European and Eurasian Unions is the same - the formation of a free trade zone that extends from Dublin to Vladivostok. The only real difference is that, because of its size, the Eurasian Union will be able to negotiate an agreement with the European Union on terms that are much more advantageous than those that individual states can extract.
Critics of the Eurasian Union, however, make two additional points. One is that, because Russia will dominate such a union, it must sooner or later turn into a new incarnation of the old U.S.S.R. The other is that mutual trade benefits negotiated among former Soviet states must inevitably lead to economic stagnation.
As the region's largest economy, Russia will always be the driving force of the Eurasian Union, though less so as more nations join. But the notion that Russia will be able to restore the former Soviet Union through closer economic and trade ties is simply ludicrous. For one thing, state sovereignty is the cornerstone of the Eurasian Union. And, in any case, European Union mandates are already far more intrusive than anything being contemplated by the Eurasian Union. Therefore, if any group should be suspect of harboring aspirations that undermine national sovereignty, it is the European Union.
The economic stagnation argument is similarly miscast, for it typically contrasts the entire European Union to Russia alone, rather than the entire Eurasian Union. Moreover, Russia is already part of the BRICS coalition (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), which analysts say will be among the world's dominant economies by 2050. Are critics really suggesting that it is in Ukraine's interest to shun the opportunity to gain access to these rising economic powerhouses simply because it also happens to expand Ukraine's relationship with Russia? Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face!
Advocates for the Eurasian Union also make other key points. First, the Eurasian Union is already adopting many standards based on those of the European Union, but it seeks to introduce them gradually, so as not to impoverish the local population, a point that is especially relevant given Ukraine's fragile social and political balance. Second, they point out that European Union rules are very narrowly tailored to the needs of member states, which may not be optimal when competing for access to other markets.
The contrast could not be sharper. The European Union proposes abandoning a common heritage and adopting unpopular liberal alternatives. It proposes weakening national economic and legal autonomy in exchange for the ephemeral prospect of membership, which will be decades in coming, if it comes at all. Meanwhile, many Ukrainian industries will be ruined by the removal of tariffs on European Union goods.
The Eurasian Union proposes rallying around an existing common heritage. It proposes building economic partnerships to expand markets and establish new, globally competitive industries. Finally, it seeks to integrate these into the larger global economy on the basis of collective market strength. In the meantime, the Eurasian Union, unlike the European Union, is willing and able to offer significant financial subsidies to countries that wish to build such a transcontinental common market.
In retrospect, the sensible question to ask is not why Ukraine failed to sign the association agreement, but what possessed its leaders to think that doing so would be a good idea in the first place?
Nicolai N. Petro, professor of politics at the University of Rhode Island, is currently a Fulbright research scholar in Ukraine.
Jan 1, 2014 | Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN kare11.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Chester Smolecki was a child when the Germans overran his home town of Rabka, a resort town in the Gorce Mountains of southern Poland.
Many of the photos in his family scrapbook are relatives he says were murdered during World War II by members of the SS Galician Division, a group made up almost entirely of ethnic Ukrainians.
"The SS Galician, yes," Smolecki told KARE.
"I remember how they dress. I remember their uniforms, the insignia."
"I remember as a child learning the horrific stories he would share about the war years, he would tell me that the Ukrainian SS were just as brutal as the German SS," Aggie Smolecki, Chester's daughter, told KARE.
She reached out to KARE after the Associated Press reported that Michael Karkoc of Minneapolis, a 94-year-old Ukrainian immigrant and father of six, was an SS commander who ordered an attack on civilians in Chlaniow, a different Polish village.
"Mr. Karkoc got to live a full life and raise a family here in America," she explained.
Aggie Smolecki is writing a book about her father's wartime experience, which included sneaking food to Polish resistance fighters and Jews.
"If he would've been caught he could've be shot, either by the Hitler youth, the Ukrainian SS, which were all over Rabka, or the German SS," Aggie Smolecki remarked.
The SS was the paramilitary organization most loyal to Adolph Hitler and the Nazi ideology, and were more feared than regular German army units.
The Germans converted the local high school in Rabka into a training center for the Gestapo, the dreaded secret police that enforced Hitler's campaign of genocide and rooted out armed resistance in Germany and territory occupied by the Germans.
"And then I think of my family members who died in the war and they don't have a voice."
The Ukrainian combatants generally regarded themselves as freedom fighters because of mass starvation and other hardships that had occurred under Soviet rule prior to World War II.
Historians say they allied themselves with the Germans in hopes of regaining their independence from Russia and autonomy after the war. But the record also shows that many of those Ukrainians who joined the German effort were involved in suppressing the Poles.
Chester Smolecki said he personally witnessed suppression and murder.
He remembers the night the S-S came looking for his cousin Josef Baran, a Polish army officer turned resistance fighter. They ended up killing Josef's wife Stefania Baran and daughter Irena Baran.
"They killed his wife and daughter, the SS Galician, they killed them," Smolecki remembered, gesturing with his arms.
"They killed them with the butt of the gun and kicking."
He said he saw the young man who lived next door being whipped and beaten by members of the Galician SS, because the man wouldn't divulge where he had hidden an old pistol. The man's grandmother tried to rescue him by telling the interrogators where the gun was.
"But they still took him away and shot him in the head."
And there was his uncle Cheslav, a postman sent away for hiding a Jewish infant in his mail bag. The baby girl was safely smuggled out of Rabka, and is still alive in Europe. But Cheslav didn't fare as well.
"He was taken away to be interrogated, and then he was taken to Auschwitz, where he was worked to death," Aggie Smolecki explained.
Chester's scrapbook includes the letter from the Auschwitz camp administration, officially certifying that his uncle Cheslav died of "heart failure."
In fact many of the names on a war memorial in Rabka belong to Chester's relatives, including Stefan Kondys and Wladyslaw Baran, both of whom were captured by the SS and murdered.
According to an account written by famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, the Gestapo training school's commander, Wilhelm Rosenbaum, murdered an entire Jewish family in Chester's neighborhood solely because they had the same last name.
"They were our friends and neighbors," Chester said. "My father served in the Austrian army with Mr. Rosenbaum, and Mrs. Rosenbaum was my mother's friend."
Chester said he had played often with the Rosenbaum's son, and that his sister in Poland kept some of the Mrs. Rosenbaum's china and a necklace, in hopes relatives would one day claim them.
Chester Smolecki grew up to be a chemist, immigrated to the US in 1963 and raised a family here. He was surprised to learn that Michael Karkoc lives only one block from him in northeast Minneapolis.
"Yes, this is something, isn't it?" he said, shaking his head.
Associated Press Karkoc probe
Karkoc, in his 1995 memoir, wrote that he fled his native Ukraine to Poland, where he was drafted into the German Army. After fighting on the Russian front he said became disillusioned with the Germans, and decided they weren't any better than the Soviets.
He said he deserted the German army while home on leave, and joined the Ukrainian Self-Defense Legion, which took up the fight against the advancing Red Army. At some point the legion agreed to join the Germans, in hopes of stopping the Soviet forces.
According to the Associated Press investigation, the attack on Chlaniow was in retaliation for the murder of Siegfried Assmuss, an SS field commander in that part of Poland. Karkoc, in his memoirs, recalled the murder of Assmuss.
But his memoirs do not mention the attack on Chlaniow, where 42 civilians were murdered.
And, while Karkoc has not granted interviews, he told families he was not involved with the attack on Chlaniow.
Jan 22, 2014 | NYTimes.com
... ... ...
The opposition leaders, who represent minority factions in Parliament, had initially criticized the violence against the police, but after the fruitless meeting with Mr. Yanukovich they demanded that he offer concessions within 24 hours or apparently they would join the confrontation.
Standing on a stage in Independence Square, which protesters have occupied since early December, opposition leaders addressed the crowd with a sense of foreboding.
"I will not live in shame," said Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk, the leader in Parliament of Fatherland, the party of the jailed former prime minister, Yulia V. Tymoshenko.
The rule of law and the monopoly of violence for the government are central preconditions for any democracy. The Western countries who have supported the protesters despite them behaving in a way that they would consider absolutely unacceptable in their own countries have been actively undermining Ukraine's democracy.
It seems we are still living in the neo-colonial era where democracy elsewhere is only considered acceptable when it brings the results that we want.
I certainly don't condone the clumsy way in which the Ukrainian government is removing the barricades. But I believe they are right in believing that they should be removed. There is a difference between the right protest and mob rule.
Tyagnibok is leader ultra right opposition who said many time they will kill Russian and Jewish. Why our government support this people around the world on taxpayer money?
These guys who fights "for the Freedom" on Grushevskogo st are trained members of UNA-UNSO and other nazi organizations, mostly from western part of the country. They do not listen to anyone, lost links to reality and they are trained to kill and make chaos in special training camps. I'm not happy with mr. Yanukovich, but any other alternative is much worse the country. Any revolution is a chaos and a lot of good people suffer from that.
I do not want Egypt scenario in my country and I ask everybody who is concerned about situation - do not express compassion to these revolutioners as you do not express such to terrorists and fashists. Do not support them.
Please support Ukrainians and let us resolve our problems ourselves, without mass-media pressure from outside.
Pierre Anonymot, Paris
Oh my goodness, now the Ukraine after Greece and Syria, and Khazakstan, Mexico, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Bahrein, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Thailand, Pakistan, Indonesia, the Phillipines, and on and on. Nobody is doing what we told them to do. What's the matter with these folks. I've not even mentioned Russia & Iran? They don't listen to us either.
Our NSA would have squelched all that dissent in a hurry. Maybe we should rent out copîes of the Department heads to some of these countries. It might help amortize the costs.
Nat, Ukraine Yesterday
After the events on the street Hrushevskoho 254 policemen sought medical assistance, 104 of them were hospitalized. There are suffered diagnosed closed head injuries, fractures, burns, stab wounds and poisoning unknown substances.
Also last day sought medical treatment only 25 protesters in Kiev. 12 of them were hospitalized with various injuries. 25 injured extremists. So, it is truth. They were activists when they stood and listened. When they are throwing Molotov cocktails and beat law enforcement - they are extremists.
Militants-ultras specialize only on massacres and war with " Berkut " with more and more barbaric methods . Mingling to a combustible mixture to the Molotov cocktails available means "Krot", which is a caustic alkali, militants make a hell of a blend that not only combust but also leaves horrific chemical burns on burnt skin areas.
War takes unconventional character. Militants-ultras distributed web addresses and phone numbers of relatives and close associates "Berkut" with calls to violence against them. They call to patrol subway in order to reset the law enforcement officers under the train .
Is this peaceful meeting?
What would be the reaction of the United States, if it happened in New York?
Babeouf, Ireland Yesterday
The violent overthrow of the democratically elected government of Ukraine is being led by a Neo Fascist party. With plenty of support from outright Fascists. If you look at the pictures from the demonstrations you can actually see people wearing helmets modeled on those worn by the German troops who occupied Ukraine during the Second World War.
Naturally governments of the EU states have publicly endorsed those leading this attempted Coup. As in Egypt its not recognized as a 'Real' democracy if its not part of the West. The idea that Russia will sit by as a Fascist anti Russian regime forms on its borders is imbecilic.
First of all: If you want to hear Ukrainian people you have to listen to everyone, not to limited (scanty) amount of them. The Eastern part, the Crimea, the great part of Kiev inhabitants do not support protesters. The protesters belong to radical right parties which proclaim chauvinism, anti-Semitism. Their device (motto) is: "проти жидів та москалів". There are several cases in Kiev of assault and battery of Jews (Jew-bating in 2014 and with the USA and EC approval!).
The protesters set fire on a shop and the domestic house it was in. A woman in the 5th floor cried and asked the protesters to step away and let the fire-fighters and fire engineering to come. Since the 19.01.2014 the protesters've catched people (they said about 200-300 people), taken them away, searched, beaten them with wooden sticks, humiliated - and showed it on TV, proclaiming that they are fighting for...
By the way, what are they fighting for? The laws they are figthing against are the same the citizens of the USA and EC follow. Citizens of New York - consult your laws - is it permitted to wear masks and hoods during protest actions? Is it permitted to cry: "Men! Take guns and come to streets!" Is it permitted to write in a blog and comments: "if you don't kill a policemen you waste your day"?
Perhaps Mr. Putin could put his masterful diplomatic skills to work in Ukraine and leave Syria to the U.S.
May be this is the goal of the US in these events ?
I'm beyond infuriated at the ECB/EU for their part in making this inevitable. While Putin held out a "no strings" loan for Ukraine, the ECB simply couldn't resist insisting upon an austerity program like the ones that have wreaked social and economic havoc in Ireland, Spain, Italy, Britain, and more. Austerity doesn't work to reduce deficits, doesn't boost the economy, and results in greater concentration of wealth in the hands of a few.
How could they give Yanukovich the opportunity to look like he's pursuing the sensible option by going to Putin? The western-looking protesters in the streets know that there *are* strings attached to Russia's aid - strings that seek to turn Ukraine back into a subservient province of a new Russian empire - but imagine how much stronger their hand, if they could say "We can reject Russian imperialism *without* destroying old age pensions, education, and health care for the bankers in Frankfurt!"
The Washington PostElsewhere, demonstrators seized administration buildings in the cities of Lviv, Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk, Khmelnitsky and Rivne, and made an effort to take the local government building in Zhytomyr and Cherkasy. In Lviv, the opposition promptly started building a stage on the square in front of the building they had seized.
The simultaneous eruptions in provincial cities appeared to be coordinated. And they came even as the government of President Viktor Yanukovych pressed his demand at the bargaining table that protesters leave the government buildings they have occupied.
... the opposition demands widened to include the firing of Azarov's government and the holding of early elections for president. The next regularly scheduled elections are in 2015.
Just be thankful that we live in a country where you can erect barricades of burning tires and police buses outside the White House and beat cops senseless with clubs and not have our right to protest trampled upon.
Yeah that would never happen here in the US.
...Barroso's options appear very limited. What can Europe do except put Yanukovych in the same box as the dictator next door, Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, and blacklist his cronies and oligarch financiers to stop them shopping in London, skiing in Switzerland or holidaying in the Mediterranean?
Whether Iran, Zimbabwe, Belarus or Syria, travel, financial, and economic sanctions have in recent years become the EU's default option in dealing with unsavory regimes.
Carl Bildt, the activist Swedish foreign minister who is outspoken on Ukraine, is calling for sanctions against the Yanukovych regime, although broadly and regularly he is skeptical about the utility of sanctions as a diplomatic tool. The German government official dealing with Ukraine pooh-poohed the idea of sanctions.
The EU's longstanding policy towards Ukraine and several other post-Soviet states, known as the eastern neighborhood policy, has been shredded as a result of the past two months. Brussels has been outwitted by Moscow and Kiev. That much is likely to be demonstrated next week when Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, comes to Brussels for a summit with the EU.
If Europe is split, its policy also appears half-baked and in need of a radical rethink.
"There remains deep uncertainty over the longer-term nature of the relationship between the EU and the countries of the eastern partnership, such as Ukraine," says a new study, not yet published, by the European Leadership Network and signed by several former foreign and defense ministers of Britain, France, Germany, Poland, and Russia.
"The absence of a vision for Europe's future as a whole increases the risk that the current sense of drift will become a fundamental drifting apart. This could embed a conflictual and competitive dynamic in Europe."
Senior diplomats in Brussels admit that Ukraine has triggered unusually red faces and agonizing at the top of the EU. They just did not see the Yanukovych volte-face coming, whereas Putin knew exactly what was happening. It was the same, if less noticed, in September when Armenia abruptly ditched years of negotiations on similar pacts with the EU and collapsed into Moscow's arms.
The Ukrainian conflict is conventionally seen as cultural and geographical – Yanukovych and the pro-Russian east against the educated classes of Kiev and the pro-European west of the country.
But it is as much about power and money for the Yanukovych clan faced with broad popular disgust at the corrupt and self-serving regime the president embodies.
In terms of quick and easy fixes to such a contest, the EU struggles to be nimble, while Putin can open the gas taps and write cheques instantly. Putin offered Yanukovych €15bn (£12bn) , cheaper gas supplies, and trade benefits now, while the EU pacts amount to a medium-term modernisation and reform programme which may benefit Ukraine once Yanukovych is long gone.
December 23, 2013 | NYTimes.com
...This extraordinary story is also about Russia's power and identity, and Mr. Putin won't let Ukraine go easily. What can Europe do? It can't buy Ukraine; nor can it openly promote regime change - Mr. Yanukovich, after all, is an elected leader. But Europe has other assets.
Its diversity, often seen as a burden, is one. At the time of President Bush's "Chicken Kiev speech" in 1991, the European Union was still the 12-member European Community, an elite club of rich countries. In 2004, the year of Kiev's Orange Revolution, the European Union absorbed 10 more members, including six former Warsaw Pact countries. Today, some of the younger members - Sweden, Poland, Lithuania - are important players in this drama, bringing new expertise to Brussels.
Stefan Fule, who, as the European Union's commissioner for enlargement, handles negotiations with Ukraine, is a 51-year-old Czech, trained in the 1980s at Moscow's State Institute of International Relations. The European Union's ambassador to Kiev is an accomplished Polish diplomat, Jan Tombinski. This is the new Europe, already bringing East and West together.
Also on Europe's side is prosperity. In 1990, Poland had roughly the same gross domestic product per capita as its neighbor Ukraine. Today, Poland's is three times higher - and there for all Ukrainians to see. If, one day, the Ukrainians catch up with the Poles, their Russian counterparts will take note.
Above all, the European Union is a force for democracy: For all its recent economic misery, the European Union retains a formidable power of attraction to citizens on the outside. A sea of protesters proudly waving the star-studded blue flag of Europe may have been a startling sight for Europeans, but for these Ukrainians, the dull bureaucracy of Brussels meant the rule of law, government without corruption and solidarity - and they were ready to fight for this Europe.
Ukraine cannot become the European Union's 29th member state tomorrow. But the revolt in Maidan shows that there must be a clear prospect of joining the European Union once proper conditions are met, even if that is 30 years away.
European leaders must also work out how to deal, collectively, with Mr. Putin. For some member states, that means seeking the moral high ground instead of putting business interests with Russia first. Europe can outwit Mr. Putin, but it will take strategic thinking, patience and subtlety - rather than a show of force from America's Cold War playbook.
Like the citizens of Kiev, the European Union is in for the long haul. It should actively support Ukraine's maturing civil society by opening up: It can provide Ukrainians with visas and scholarships and offer training in political dialogue, social solidarity and clean government - all things that Russia's rulers comprehend very little.
When Mr. Yanukovich went begging to Moscow on Dec. 17, Mr. Putin offered him a big fish, in the form of $15 billion in loans and discounted natural gas, which Ukraine's president happily took home. The European Union will not give Ukraine a big fish, but Europe can teach Ukraine how to fish for itself. We owe this to all the pro-European protesters in the freezing cold of Maidan.
Sylvie Kauffmann is the editorial director and a former editor in chief of Le Monde.
The Chicken Kiev speech is the nickname for a speech given by the United States president George H. W. Bush in Kiev, Ukraine, on August 1, 1991, months before a December referendum in which Ukrainians voted to withdraw from the Soviet Union, in which Bush cautioned against "suicidal nationalism". The speech was written by Condoleezza Rice – later Secretary of State under President George W. Bush – when she was in charge of Soviet and east European affairs for the first President Bush. It outraged Ukrainian nationalists and American conservatives, with the conservative columnist William Safire giving it the nickname of "the Chicken Kiev speech" in protest at what he saw as its "colossal misjudgment".
... ... ...
Bush set out his policy towards reform in the Soviet Union: "I come here to tell you: we support the struggle in this great country for democracy and economic reform. In Moscow, I outlined our approach. We will support those in the center and the republics who pursue freedom, democracy and economic liberty." He warned against independence if it only changed a distant tyrant for a local one: "Americans will not support those who seek independence in order to replace a far-off tyranny with a local despotism. They will not aid those who promote a suicidal nationalism based upon ethnic hatred."
It was later reported that Bush himself had added the phrase "suicidal nationalism" to the speech which his staff had drafted, seeking to warn the Ukrainians about the need to avoid what had happened in Yugoslavia.
Dec 12, 2013 | Huffingtonpost.com
In a country where the average monthly minimum wage stands at about $150 USD, it's not hard to understand why Ukrainians are in the streets.
...For NATO, the goal is expansion. The prize is access to a country that shares a 1,426-mile border with Russia. The geopolitical map would be dramatically reshaped by the Agreement, with Ukraine serving as the new front for Western missile defense at the doorstep of Russia. Should the U.S. nuclear deal with Iran fall apart, Ukraine could be employed in larger regional disputes, too.
For instance, in the draft of the Agreement, foreign and security policy mandates:"The Parties shall explore the potential of military and technological cooperation. Ukraine and the European Defence Agency (EDA) will establish close contacts to discuss military capability improvement, including technological issues."
The draft of the Agreement's preamble links Ukraine to "ever closer convergence of positions on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest" including the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of the European Union and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) -- which underscores the military nature of the agreement.
Since 22 of 28 members of the EU have NATO membership, there is little doubt that Ukraine is being drawn into the broad military arrangement with EU nations.
If the EU Agreement is ratified, Ukraine will inevitably spend a higher percentage of its GDP for military purposes, steering critical resources from social programs and job opportunities. In 2012, Ukraine's military budget already increased 30 percent -- to $2 billion, representing a comparatively low 1.1 percent of GDP. NATO members agree to spend at least 2 percent of GDP on defense.
When military spending goes up, domestic spending goes down. The winners are unlikely to be the people of Ukraine, but instead the "people" of Lockheed-Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing and other defense interests. The Ukrainians didn't go to Independence Square to rally for NATO. Yet NATO's benefit is clear. Less clear is whether Ukrainians will receive key economic benefits they seek.
To wit, the preamble to the Agreement is hazy on the implementation of visa-free travel for citizens of Ukraine, a crucial incentive for struggling workers seeking better jobs. The draft of the Agreement is vague, calling for the visa issue to be introduced "in due course." It also asserts that EU nations could block the movement of self-employed Ukrainians to other job markets.
For Greece, Spain and others, EU membership hasn't turned out to be a shining economic savior. The return of austerity policies reminds one of Naomi Klein's warning about the perils of disaster capitalism, in which instability opens the door for exploitation from outside forces.
For the protesters in Kiev, standing tall for democracy and economic opportunity, there's suddenly a new worry: Disaster Militarism. Ukrainians may be pro-EU, but are the EU and NATO pro-Ukrainian?
Dennis J. Kucinich is a former 16-year member of Congress and two-time U.S. presidential candidate. Visit his website www.kucinichaction.com.
January 6, 2006 | NewAmerica.org
As events since the Orange Revolution have demonstrated, Ukraine remains a volatile and unconsolidated democracy.
With the Russian-Ukrainian gas dispute now settled, in a murky but apparently satisfactory fashion, it is time to reflect on what the affair says about the West's relations with Russia and, still more important, the West's relations with Ukraine.
The reason a serious debate is necessary is that the West's strategy toward Ukraine has been founded on a bizarre illusion: that Ukraine would leave Russia's orbit and "join the West," and that Russia would pay for this process.
Consider the figures: Until the latest price hike for gas, Russia was supplying Ukraine with a de facto annual energy subsidy estimated by independent experts at somewhere between $3 billion and $5 billion a year. That is more than the whole of the European Union's aid in the 14 years since Ukrainian independence.
As for U.S. aid, last year it stood at a mere $174 million--and this after all the talk of U.S. admiration and support for Ukraine's Orange Revolution. Even after the latest price rise, Ukraine will remain greatly favored by international standards, though now more at the ultimate expense of Turkmenistan than Russia.
Equally important for the Ukrainian economy have been the remittances sent back annually by the millions of Ukrainians working legally in Russia. Once again, contrast Western approaches to this question: It remains extremely difficult for Ukrainians to gain permits to work legally in Western countries. When the last German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, tried to relax the terms for entry into Germany, the result was an outburst of chauvinist hysteria about a supposed flood of Ukrainian criminals and prostitutes.
Recent days have seen a great deal of moralizing in the U.S. and European news media about Russia using energy as a political tool. It would be better if the Americans and French in particular turned the question round and asked themselves whether there would be the slightest possibility of their countries giving aid on this scale without expecting concrete geopolitical and economic returns.
The underlying thinking in Brussels and Washington concerning Ukraine is rather different, with Europeans holding the prize for cynicism and Americans for recklessness.
Under all the talk about Ukraine's European path, a majority of West European governments and EU officials privately hope that any real prospect of Ukrainian membership in the European Union can be postponed virtually indefinitely--or at least until after Turkish membership, which may come to the same thing. They are certainly not going to ask their voters to come up with anything like the massive aid that Ukraine needs in order to reform its economy along Western lines.
Nor of course is the United States going to take up this burden. Instead, a growing number of U.S. officials and politicians seem to see early NATO membership for Ukraine as a cheap alternative, with little economic cost to the United States, and that little offset by benefits to U.S. arms manufacturers.
This, however, would mean taking into what remains in effect an anti-Russian alliance a country which is still deeply entwined with Russia economically, demographically and culturally; where in the last round of the presidential elections, 44 percent of the population voted against a Western path and in favor of alliance with Russia, and where, according to opinion polls, an overwhelming majority of the population is opposed to NATO membership.
In addition, as events since the Orange Revolution have demonstrated, Ukraine remains a volatile and unconsolidated democracy, whose political and business elites remain deeply ambivalent about real economic reform. And a future world economic crisis, especially one consequent on international energy sources, could completely redraw both the political and geopolitical maps of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, unless Russia can somehow also be integrated into the West, Ukraine's successful move out of the Russian orbit would face Russia with another set of terrible economic, cultural and geopolitical defeats, including in the long term the loss of Ukrainian markets for Russian goods. That does not make Russia's opposition to this process correct, but certainly understandable, especially to France and America.
Copyright 2006, International Herald Tribune
International justice will lose all credibility if powerful states continue to benefit from total ime case of the United States is emblematic: political aggression, inhuman treatment, illegal detention are all "international crimes" for which the guilty must be pursued, according to the United Nations Charter and the Geneva Conventions.
John MartinMidwest Book Review
A Clear account of American misbehavior in the world August 18, 2008
International Justice and Impunity: The Case of the United States, edited by Nils Andersson, Daniel Iagolnitzer and Diana G. Collier is must reading for anyone who is concerned about the role the United States plays in the world today. The book covers the proceedings of an international conference on the issue of impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity that was held in Paris in September, 2005. It is divided into three parts: From Hiroshima to Guantanmo, Humanitarian Law: Legal and Moral Values to Defend, and In Pursuit to an End to Impunity. A total of 26 articles are presented.
The list of contributors includes Ramsey Clark, Samir Amin, William Blum, Stephane Hessel, Jan Myrdal, Michaei Parenti, Tadatoshi Akiba, Antoine Bernard, and Genevieve Sevrin. These individuals, both personally and as representatives of their organization, make a compelling case that the United States has acted with impunity from at least the closing days of WW II in order to impose its worldview on others. The violence that American has perpetrated continues unabated and unpunished.
The book also provides a primer on international law and as such provides important information for anyone seeking to understand humanitarian law from an international perspective.
While the book may be faulted as providing only the prosecution side of the case against the United States, given that country's failure to acknowledge its crimes and its strong propaganda machine, the book is an important and valuable commentary. Further, coming as it does at the end of one of the most inhumane and unjust political administrations in American history it can serve as a lesson to the next American government if it will only pay attention.
Has the United States been ignoring international law? July 11, 2008
Has the United States been ignoring international law? "International Justice and Impunity: The Case of the United States" claims so. Recent American acts in the middle east are skirting the Geneva Conventions and even inducing the torture of prisoners - a black mark on the country that used to be the champion of the United Nations. A scholarly work with contributions from people in various levels of the government and from around the world, "International Justice and Impunity: The Case of the United States" is highly recommended for community library International Studies and Political Science collections.
January 22, 2014 | The Kremlin StoogeOh, and terrorism. There was a brief suspension of the daily braying about the incredibly dangerous climate in Sochi, centered immediately around the latest double bombing in Volgograd, in which the U.S. State Department released a brief "We are all Volgograders Now" type statement and in which foreign leaders expressed solidarity with fighting terrorism: then it was straight back to towing the gay-rights, homosexual-advancement bandwagon through the streets, and encouraging everyone to jump on.
At around the same time – attacking on another front – U.S. President Barack Obama announced that he would not attend the Olympic Games in Sochi (which he was not likely going to attend anyway; he sent Vice-President Biden to Vancouver in 2010 and First Lady Michelle to London in 2012), at the same time appointing "openly gay" athletes to the American delegation, for the sole purpose of "tweaking", "slamming" and "sending a message to" Russia and Putin.
What message would that be, Mr. President? I mean, I'm sure Billie-Jean King will be all over it like Mr. T on…well, anything shiny, because attention is the lifeblood of politics and her escalation to leadership of the American delegation will focus attention on her new Political Action Committee, launched in 2012. LPAC is intended to channel funding to political candidates who support lesbian rights. Not human rights, or even women's rights. Lesbian rights. LPAC "distinguishes itself from existing women's and LGBT groups - such as EMILY's List and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund - by specifically targeting lesbians."
According to Ms. King herself, speaking as a homosexual, only 50% of homosexuals know who they are by the age of 13. I'm not sure where that statistic comes from, but since it is offered by a gay icon who should know what it is like to be gay, we are forced to give it due consideration. The remainder, she says, do not know until they are adults, presumably when some watershed moment reveals to them their true desires. If we assume that to be a fact, I am damned if I can understand why Billie-Jean King is throwing her weight behind opposition to a law which says you may not market homosexuality as a behavioral norm to children under 16. In theory, some 4% of children will be homosexual, and of those 4%, 50% will not realize their true orientation until they are adults. But in order to be comfortable with their orientation, children should receive reassuring information on same-sex relationships before they are 13, and since 50% of them will not even know they are gay until they are adults, you pretty much have to pitch it to them all, right? However, about 96% of them will actually be heterosexual. Is there any harm done by informing heterosexual children who are 13 and under about the pleasures of homosexual love? I couldn't say; I'm not a psychologist. But if I were asked, as a parent, if I thought basic sex education in schools taught kids what they needed to know about sex as a reasonable supplement to instinct, I would say I think so. If I were asked did I think a homosexual supplement should be added to the school curriculum, I would say I did not think so.
By her own admission, Ms. King knew she was a lesbian by 1968, but she kept it a secret until a lawsuit revealed it in 1981, 13 years later. Why? Because America was homophobic, and her parents were homophobic. Although she asserts that it cost her all her endorsements within 24 hours of the lawsuit's being filed and at least $2 million – more than she made in prize money over her entire career – she dealt with it to the best of my recollection with courage and dignity, for which she deserves the respect such courage earns. I can't help wondering, though, if she was bitter about her secret being blown to the world…and what she would have thought in 1981 of a bunch of crusading foreign busybodies trying to impose their "national values" on America, and insisting she come out immediately and be free.
Moscow Exile:I remember not all that back when a popular song in the USA was called "Okie from Muskogee" or summat like.marknesop
Yeah, a long while back, come to think of it. Just checked: 1969 it was No.1 in the US.
I'm proud to be a Russky from Moskvy!
(Well sort of :-))Alexander Mercouris
It reminds me of one I heard years ago, to the effect that a struggling sports team intended to draft Linda Lovelace as their coach. When asked why, the team captain reported that although she would probably blow a few, she would not choke on the really big ones.
I really have no problem with Billy-Jean King; as I said, she mostly behaved with courage and fortitude when she was on the losing end of gay persecution herself, and it is only natural that she should want to see an improvement in gay rights and an end of being persecuted because of your orientation. However, I submit that day has come and gone, and that it is not an issue in Russia any more than it is in the United States, while the crusaders overlook behavior that is several removes worse on the part of repressive Middle-Eastern monarchies who are valued allies. We will see if there is a big gay-rights push by the USA when Qatar has the World Cup – which I understand has now been moved to winter rather than summer despite fierce arguments. I daresay much more important issues will occupy Americans than gay rights by that time.Jen
A fine article!
Has there ever in history been a sillier campaign than the one for the boycott of the Sochi Olympics on the basis of this law? I suppose there has but off the top of my head I can't think of it. Has there ever been a sillier case of posturing and grandstanding than the US decision to pick LGBT athletes like Billy-Jean King to head the official US delegation to Sochi? Bear in mind that Billy-Jean King's heyday came at a time when the USSR did not participate in international tennis competitions so she is probably not well known in Russia anyway. Even if most Russians have heard of her, as I said previously it is simply delusional to think that the great majority of Russians know or care whether she is or any other American athlete is gay or lesbian or not.
For the record consensual sex between women was never prohibited in the USSR even during the Stalin era so what Billy-Jean King and Navratilova got up to between the sheets was never a crime in the USSR. For the further record consensual sex between men was actually decriminalised in the USSR in the 1920s (when it was a crime in the UK and the US) until it was recriminalized by Stalin in I believe 1933. It was then decriminalised again in 1993 to almost complete indifference.
A gay Russian man I know (who is now a UN official) and who lived and was brought up in the USSR during the late Soviet period has told me that provided gays like him maintained a certain discretion the police during this period left them alone. If so then this was unlike the situation in Britain where until homosexual activity was decriminalised the police actively hounded and searched out gays. The Soviets seem to have made little use of allegations of homosexuality to discredit their opponents in their own political conflicts even during the political trials of the Stalin era whilst I can't say I have ever heard of a prominent Russian or Soviet artist who was ever ruined or harassed by the authorities simply because he was homosexual. Certainly I know of no Russian or Soviet case remotely comparable to those of Oscar Wilde or of the recently posthumously pardoned scientist Alan Turing and nothing that resembles the unceasing harassment by the police of gay cultural figures in Britain like the actor John Gielgud before homosexuality was decriminalised.
I say all this because I do sometimes wonder whether part of the explanation for the hysteria in the US and Britain about to the new law may be because LGBT people in the US and Britain make assumptions about Russian treatment of LGBT people based on their own historical experience in their own countries. If so then that may be a serious mistake. However even if it is the case this can only form part of the explanation. That the recent western campaign against Russia and for the boycott of the Sochi Olympics has in reality little to do with the new law is shown by the way supporters of this campaign constantly misrepresent it.
Having said all this, I think we can now say confidently that barring a major international crisis or a major terrorist incident a boycott of the Sochi Olympics is not going to happen.
There are two further points I want to make about this campaign, which concern its impact in Russia itself:
- This whole ugly campaign has had the unfortunate effect of encouraging some unpleasant people like the television personality who is an ex priest and who has just called for homosexuality to be recriminalized to come crawling out of the woodwork. Given how trivial this law is I am pretty sure this would never have happened if there had not been in the west this extraordinary campaign against it. Thankfully I don't think anyone takes this call seriously or sees in it anything other than a self publicity stunt. Fortunately the extent to which this sort of thing is happening has been limited and so far this looks like an isolated case.
- By contrast the Russian LGBT community have shown astonishing good sense and political maturity in the face of this provocative campaign. They have staunchly refused to join in it or be drawn into it or be used by it in a way that speaks highly of their patriotism and good sense. This contrasts sharply with the way the liberal opposition in Russia last year foolishly supported the Magnitsky law. This is a major plus and promises much good for the future of the country.marknesop:
Dear Alex: It's worth knowing that while the dancer Rudolf Nureyev was still living and working in the Soviet Union, he was shadowed by the KGB for suspected disloyalty to the Communist Party and for associating too freely with Westerners. According to some Internet sources I have seen, the KGB knew that he was gay and had been tracking his movements but the sources don't say if the agency did so with a view to blackmailing him (and using him to inform on others) or because it believed his contacts with other homosexual people were encouraging his disloyalty and rebellious nature.
The FBI also had a file on Nureyev as it suspected him of being a spy for the Soviets. It's quite possible that at those moments when Nureyev believed the KGB was after him, it was actually the FBI spook who was on his trail!
The Los Angeles Times article linked to notes that when Diane Solway (Nureyev's biographer) asked for both the KGB and the FBI files on Nureyev, the KGB file arrived promptly, was uncensored and acknowledged mistakes made at senior levels; the same could not be said of the FBI file.yalensis
Thanks, Alex, and as usual a very perceptive and thoughtful analysis. That's a good point about Billie-Jean King's name value in Russia – I didn't think of that, and you're probably right; most Russians will have no clue who she is because they were not involved in the sport at the time she was a big deal. It is likewise an interesting suggestion that bitter gay activists in the west are projecting because of their own treatment in the past. And finally, it is also an insightful observation that the Russian gay community has behaved in an exemplary fashion – the interview with the owner of The Lighthouse gay club in Sochi, linked by Moscow Exile, offers an excellent glimpse – by refusing to let themselves be used as a stick with which to beat the government, and have probably in so doing achieved far more acceptance by Russians than external pressure would ever have done.
Historically even brutal regimes have looked the other way on same-sex activity between women, and in my opinion it has always seemed simultaneously less harmful and less perverted to even harsh judges than the same activity between males. Even now the more repressive Middle Eastern nations are relatively accepting of lesbianism (probably perceiving it as a college-experimentation dalliance type of thing which sometimes happens whenever large numbers of young women get together, and which they will "grow out of") than they are of gay male activity.Moscow Exile
Dear Alex, that was a most EXCELLENT and well-reasoned comment.
A couple of points:
Taking it as self-evident that homosexuality is a trait (genetic or hormonal, of whatever) that persists from generation to generation, that each society in human history comes to deal with this in its own way. Soviet Union/Russia dealt with it in a certain way that involved a certain amount of compromise, and a certain amount of discretion.
Many western societies (such as Britain and America) were quite vicious towards homosexuals, as you point out. The American film Brokeback Mountain, which depicts a love affair between two (grown-up) male cowboys takes place between the years 1963 to 1981. The film is fictional, of course, but based on realities of the time. One of the cowboys describes how his father tried to steer him away from becoming gay by showing him a vicious hate crime that the townspeople had perpetrated against a gay guy, torturing him and killing him. This was supposed to be a warning to the boy that he had better try to pretend to be heterosexual, otherwise he could be tortured and murdered himself.
The Brits were possibly even more vicious towards homosexuals than the Americans, as you point out with your examples of Oscar Wilde and Alan Turing, who were literally hounded to death, in spite of their outstanding accomplishlments.
So now, I think these Western societies are trying to atone for these past crimes, and maybe even bending over backwards; but unfortunately they are projecting their guilt onto a country like Russia, which always handled the issue of homosexuality in a different way.
In conclusion, the Americans are being ridiculous by sending a self-professed "gay" delegation to Sochi, thinking this will shame Russia by boasting how diverse America is.
Russia should respond as follows:
Treat the delegation with the utmost respect and the usual generous Russian hospitality.
Send them back to America with only positive impressions of Russia and Russians.
(Well, in the case of Johnny Weir, that's redundant, because he is already a Russophile!)
Turing has become an iconic figure amongst homosexuals and liberals in the UK. I often get the impression that some of these people even try their hardest to suggest that Turing was a mathematical genius because of his homosexuality, that homosexuality is concomitant with genius; that without homosexuality, "we would have lost the war". Needless to say, I have seen that argument put forward by several "Guardianistas". I have also heard the same proposition concerning Tchaikovsky's homosexuality and his musical talent.
As regards the law in the UK concerning homosexuality, I also think that liberals there often try to rewrite history and to be absolutely frank, they sometimes tell downright lies about this matter.
It was not an offence to be a homosexual in the UK, only to engage in certain homosexual acts. The Buggery Act of 1556 applied to its eponymous activity. The Criminal Law amendment Act of 1885, popularly known as the Labouchere Amendment and covering other kinds of homosexual sex acts, was introduced after a wave of sensational cases of upper-class, middle-aged men corrupting young boys. From 1885 to the reform of 1967, 85% of all prosecutions under the act involved soliciting or activity in a public place. One must remember that Turing was man in his middle forties and his "partner" in the offence that led to his conviction was an unemployed young man aged 19.
Furthermore, Turing's chemical castration was not ordered by the courts, as the common opinion in the UK has it, but was the result of a plea bargained and suggested by Turing's barrister as an alternative to prison.
Regardless of Turing's contribution to the allied war effort and to computer science, his homosexuality caused great concern to many. He was fond of boys (there exists correspondence between Turing and one of his homosexual chums in which Turing writes about the "scrumptious boys" at a school where he had been appointed to a post as mathematics teacher), though there is no evidence that he practised paederasty. Nevertheless, he had been warned to be discreet as regards his "cottaging" activities (seeking partners for homosexual acts in public toilets and locations known to be meeting places for male homosexuals). He chose to ignore this advice, and, as the law stood at the time, he paid the price.
When the UK 1967 Sexual Offences Act received Royal Assent, Lord Arran, a co-sponsor of that act, said: "…I ask those [homosexuals] to show their thanks by comporting themselves quietly and with dignity… any form of ostentatious behaviour now or in the future or any form of public flaunting would be utterly distasteful… ".
It is indeed extremely unfortunate for Turing that the said Act, together with Lord Arran's sage advice, came too late for Turing, who was recently granted a Royal pardon for his conviction.
Interestingly, there has been no mention of a pardon for Turing's 19-year-old partner in the performance of a homosexual act in Manchester, which act led to Turing's conviction. Unlike the bourgeois, highly educated mathematical prodigy Turing, however, that 19-year-old was a member of the working class.
I wonder what Lord Arran would have said as regards the lurid and, to my mind, extremely offensive displays perpetrated in public by homosexuals these days, an example of which being displayed in the photograph above accompanying Mark's article that leads this thread?
yalensisUkrainian PM Azarov has labelled violent demonstrators on Maidan as terrorists.Moscow Exile
Today (Wed, Jan. 22) Azarov opened the session of government, he said the mob throwing molotov cocktails are NOT peaceful demonstrators, but rather terrorists.
Quoting Ernest Hemingway, Prime Minister Azarov expressed his grief for the wounded police, and his anger against the "provocateurs".
Official data gives the number of 250 casualties on both sides of this street war.
Including 2 reported deaths, one of them was a 22-year-old man who accidentally fell off a colulmn of the Dynamo stadium, where he was perched while lobbing molotov cocktails at the poloice. [yalensis: File this one under "Darwinian natural selection at work".]
The other death is said to be a person who was shot, but this information has not been confirmed, according to KP.The Independent asks whether the EU is doing enough to help the protesters: Stalemate in Ukraine: Is Brussels is doing enough to help the protesters who want to be part of the EU?Moscow Exile
Apart from the fact that what is happening in the Ukraine is the business of Ukrainians, do the writers of that article really believe that no help whatsoever is forthcoming from abroad to help those in their anarchic, criminal actions? I mean, who feeds them? Have they no jobs to go to? Or do they appear on the Maidan in shifts, and if that be the case, what are the logistics involved in undertaking this action?
Or is at all the spontaneous action of "freedom lovers"?
The journalists who wrote the article seem to think that they are protesting in Kiev against the Ukrainian government decision not to agree to the terms of association offered to the Ukraine by the EU; however, the anarchists and fascists on the Maidan have for a while now been claiming that they are not protesting over the Ukraine not becoming some associate of the EU, but against "Yanukovich's "bandit regime" against whose depredations they are defending Kiev, Kievans and their "honour", namely:
"…мы выходим ни за то, чтобы нас взяли в Евросоюз, ни за Юлю, Виталика, Арсения и Олежку… Не против России и Русских!!! Мы выходим – ЗА КИЕВЛЯН, ЗА НАШ ГОРОД, ЗА НАШУ СТРАНУ, ЗА НАШУ ЧЕСТЬ!"
[We have not come out here so as that we be accepted into the European Union; nor for Yulia, Vitalik, Arseny and Olezhka... We are not against Russians or Russia!!! - WE ARE FOR KIEVANS, FOR OUR CITY, FOR OUR COUNTRY, FOR OUR HONOUR!]
So what should the EU do about this?
And should McCain fly over again in order to give them a little pep talk, perhaps?
Or maybe a gaggle of Polish and Lithuanian politicians should turn up and give a helping hand with filling the empty bottles with petrol or smashing up the paving on the square so as the brave freedom fighters do not fall short of ammunition?By the way, as regards Kiev cops allegedly striking a Polish journalist, this photograph was taken during the British miners' strike in 1984, at the so-called Battle of Orgreave.
By the time that "battle" took place, some "human-rights" minded folk took it upon themselves to form a "police watch" in order to give credence to strikers' claims of violence meted out to them by "Thatcher's Private Army".
One of these people, armed with a camera, is pictured in the linked photograph. Her name is Lesley Boulton and here's her story as told to the BBC some 20 years after the event.
The cop attempted to strike her across the head just after the shot was taken. Strangely enough, the picture was hardly published by the British news media at the time.
The miners' union quickly got copies of the photograph, though, but the reaction of the public at large who saw the picture at the time was to voice the opinion that it was a doctored photograph or that she must have been doing something wrong that made that nice policeman attempt to strike her.
Here's a shot taken just after his baton had skimmed past Ms. Boulton's head.
Those mounted police really had the time of their
lives in 1984-1985!
They really did!
Some of the lads – the baddies – at he time took up the strange hobby of gathering ball bearings from scrap yards.
Can't imagine why.
yalensisI sense a change in The Force…
Political analyst Rostislav Ishchenko believes that the Ukrainian radicals (="Right Sector") have seized control of the Maidan movement and no longer pay attention to the troika of regular Opps leaders (Yatsenuk-Tahnybok-Klichko). Next to these fascist freaks, even Tahnybok looks like a limp-wristed moderate.
Also interesting, as I commented above, that American State Department has washed their hands of "Right Sector". I admit, that surprised me. Of course, until about a week ago, I had never even heard of "Right Sector". But it turns out, they were there all along. They were the muscle and the bouncers and the bully-boys behind the Maidan. And now they're running wild and unleashed, like some kind of Godzilla.
That's because what they are there for is the confrontation and the fighting and the smashing and the damage. They could not give a toss for joining the EU unless it also gave them opportunities to break things and beat people up. They live for the violence. But if Yanukovych can keep his head and not waver, he may be able to come out of this with the opposition troika of tools holding all the blame. Yanukovych told them to clear off the maidan and go home, but they insisted on making a big EuroShow out of it, and now it has slipped way out of their control and they can't stop it because the bully-boys are in charge, and they just want anarchy (where's Pussy Riot when you need them) and fighting. The police are more than a match for them as long as they are not hampered by rules that treat people throwing rocks and gas bombs as if they were gentle old ladies, and some of them are going to be very sorry they ever started this. If it shapes up to be too much for the police, there's always the army. Russia has said they're staying out of it unless they are asked to assist, but you can bet some units have been given the word to get ready to go, and you can bet Yanukovych will never be so foolish as to ask.
Things just keep rolling Yanukovych's way, if he has the wits to take advantage of opportunities, and he has had one dropped in his lap which will allow him to get rid of Klitschko. All he has to do is blame the whole escalation-of-violence on him, and it will stick because the Party of Regions in its entirety stayed conspicuously away from the Maidan, while Klitschko was all over it, promoting himself. Now it has slid sideways into a pile of shit, and Yanukovych need not own any of it if he is clever. Yatsenyuk is still going to find himself in hot water eventually over the Chornovol dash-cam video and his deliberate withholding of evidence, and he was not much of a danger anyway because he is about as charismatic as Vin Diesel. Only a really pasty and nerdy-looking Vin Diesel. Tiahnybok is not going to pull any significant amount of votes, although he will probably stay popular with his base. The people of Kiev have to be getting pretty fed up with all this burning and smashing, and would probably like to see things get back to normal. Whoever gets there first is going to do himself some good. Wake up, Yanukovych – I'm not your campaign manager.
May 22, 2010 | naked capitalism
...not since the Qing Dynasty moved to block imports of opium has the British press has been so apoplectic about moves by foreign governments to protect themselves from Anglo-Saxon market vultures. Kevin de Bruxelles
Jan 20, 2014 | putnik1.livejournal.com
Yanukovich government can't win this fight. Because it is no alternative:
- Maidan yells "Slava Heroyam" and organize a torchlight procession. But who allowed the march UPA in Kiev long before the Maidan ?
- On Maidan they chant "who does not jump is Moskal", but it is the current government which is actively engaged in Anti-Russian propaganda.
- Who cried about Moscow blackmail?
- Who jailed Markov ?
- Maidan screaming about Europe, but who created the Ministry of European integration ?
- Maidan desecrated graves of Arsenal fighters, and who every year goes to Kruty?
So the power that be and Maidan are not that different. Almost. Except in one respect. One have power, and the other don't. That's the whole difference. Even so, I am against Maidan, because it is better the Devil we know, then a new hungry and bloodthrusty Devil.
Jan 19, 2014 | the-american-interest.com/
By their nature, protests are an attention-seeking instrument and the Ukrainian protests have been the focus of much media interest. But Mr. Yanukovych is counting on the silent portion of the country to support him in quelling dissent, quieting the bothersome protests and returning Ukraine to some semblance of stability (95 percent of Ukrainians have called the country's political situation "unstable" or "explosive"). His gamble is well-founded. Polling from late December shows that while 43% of Ukrainians do want to join the European Union now (13 points higher than any other option), fully 50% of Ukrainians do not support the Kiev protests. That latter statistic marks a turnaround in Ukraine's tolerance for the protest-only weeks prior a majority had supported them. More significantly, only 31% of Ukrainians believe that the outcome of the protests will be positive for Ukraine.
Today's violent protests may only strengthen ordinary Ukrainians' desire to see an end to the bedlam. Many are only too happy to trade freedoms that they rarely use for peace and quiet. Cognizant that, in a nation where stability sells, events like today's do not acquit the opposition forces well, the movement's leaders have called on protestors to refrain from violence. They warn that many of the angry young men in the street are provocateurs paid by Yanukovych's party to create chaos and turn the tide of public opinion fully against the protest movement.
Surprisingly, there is an abundance of homespun wisdom on the subject of childish behavior in adults. "Behavior in the human being is sometimes a defense, a way of concealing thoughts and motives, as language can be a way of hiding your thoughts and preventing communication", said Abraham Maslow, psychological pioneer and developer of the "Hierarchy of Needs" model. If you prefer your philosophy a little more lighthearted, P.J. O'Rourke says, "I like to think of my behavior in the sixties as a learning experience. Then again, I like to think of anything stupid I have done as a learning experience. It makes me feel less stupid". German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said simply, "Behavior is a mirror in which everyone displays his own image".
What, then, are we to make of western behavior as it strives ever more stubbornly for a boycott of the Sochi Olympic Games in Russia, under the aegis of gay rights?
Oh, and terrorism. There was a brief suspension of the daily braying about the incredibly dangerous climate in Sochi, centered immediately around the latest double bombing in Volgograd, in which the U.S. State Department released a brief "We are all Volgograders Now" type statement and in which foreign leaders expressed solidarity with fighting terrorism: then it was straight back to towing the gay-rights, homosexual-advancement bandwagon through the streets, and encouraging everyone to jump on.
A senior Italian member of the International Olympic Committee has slammed the US for mixing politics with the Olympics in its "absurd" decision to include openly gay athletes in its official delegation to the Winter Games in Russia's Sochi.
In a comment that has caused quite a stir, Mario Pescante also described President Barack Obama's move as political extortion, according to Italian media.
"It's absurd that a country like that sends four lesbians to Russia just to demonstrate that in their country gay rights have [been established]," Mario Pescante said at an Italian OC meeting on Wednesday, reported Associated Press, citing local press. "The games should not be an occasion and a stage to promote rights that sports support daily."
Later, Pescante downplayed his rhetoric saying that he used the "wrong terms" and that his words were taken out of context, wrote RaiSport.
Clarifying his comments to AP, the Italian IOC member said "of course" he was not against gays.
"I just wanted to make the point not to let politics interfere with the Olympics," he told the agency via phone.
USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky refused to comment on the matter.
For the first time since 2000, the American delegation to the Olympics will not include the president, vice president or first lady. Among the delegates that Obama picked to represent the nation in Sochi are two openly-lesbian athletes – tennis legend Billie Jean King, and hockey player Caitlin Cahow – and, also figure skater Brian Boitano who came out as gay ahead of the Games.
The decision is interpreted as a snub to Russia over the ban on propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors passed in the country last summer. The law - dubbed the "anti-gay" law in the West – is seen as discriminatory towards LGBT community by its critics. Gay rights activists and some politicians called to boycott the Olympic Games in Russia in protest against the law.
"We've seen boycotts, concerns over Aboriginal rights in Australia, the Tibet issue in China. It's enough already," Pescante told AP. "There are always going to be issues wherever the games are held, but the best way to combat these issues is by letting the games unfold and sending thousands of journalists to these places to report on what is going on there," Pescante, the head of the IOC's International Relations Commission and a former IOC vice president said.
Meanwhile, Russia has repeatedly said that no one will be discriminated against in Sochi. President Vladimir Putin reiterated Friday that gay people have nothing to fear coming to the Olympics. He emphasized that there is no criminal or administrative responsibility for homosexual relations in Russia, unlike many other countries."We don't outlaw anything and don't nab anyone," Putin said at a meeting with Sochi Olympics volunteers. "That's why you can feel safe and free here but please leave our children in peace."
Putin also recalled that just like Russians respect foreign traditions, Russian culture and traditions should be respected by foreigners.
"We have our traditions and our culture," he said. "We treat any of our partners with respect but we request that our traditions and our culture also be treated with respect."
EuroMaidan for power that be is the "fifth column ", which seeks to shed blood in the streets .
journalist Svyatoslav Tseholko wrote this in his Facebook page says , referring to the arguments which operate in the Party of Regions (PR).
"During an interview with the leader of the Party of Regions faction Oleksandr Yefremov had showen the set of assumption which PR uses for the event. Fron which one can logically deduct that EuroMaidan means for ruling party a fifth column, which seeks to shed blood in the streets . This fifth column" try to stick on the government labels "dictatorship" and discredit law enforcement bodies
They view announcement of persons as persona non grata, sanctions of Western institutions, the work of NGOs, speeches of prominent foreign officials within Ukraine, as well as criticism of the MSM and social networking sites as a preplanned operation against legitimate government. With the explicit purpose of a " liquidation of the ruling power," which considered desirable outcome of the actions.
Also, the PR leaflet describes the role of the West as " curator of the revolution ." They remind about analogies with Arab Spring in North Africa and the Middle East, "color " revolutions in Georgia , Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Belarus, Moldova and Russia in 2011, Lebanon, Tunisia, Libya.
PR leaflet also states that "the current situation in Ukraine points to the typical scenario of use of technology of color revolutions."
"The emergence EuroMaidan is due to a interaction of subjective and objective internal factor with external factors including the geopolitical interests of foreign powers" - the PR materials state.
"Based on reading of the leaflet it is clear that the Party of Regions is concerned about "weakening of positions of Russia" on the territory of Ukraine due to by funding of various Ukrainian NGOs by American organizations such as USAID, IRI, NDI"
December 19, 2013 | RT Op-Edge
With growing popularity of neo-Nazi Oleg Tyahnybok, leader of the Ukrainian far-right Svoboda party, Ukraine is falling into an extremely dangerous situation, journalist and blogger Graham Phillips told RT.
"We are looking at a tinder box which might go up and we are looking at a man [Tyahnybok] who's standing there and waiting for that to happen," Phillips said, describing the current situation in Ukraine.
"At the moment, the landscape of Ukrainian politics can be compared to the Wizard of Oz," he said.
"You've got three leaders: you've got [Vitaly] Klichko, [Arseniy] Yatsenyuk and [Oleg] Tyahnybok, and of course you've got Timoshenko if you like. And they all are missing something: Klichko doesn't have intelligence, but he has charisma, Yatsenyuk has intelligence, but he has no charisma, Tyahnybok has intelligence and charisma but he is an extremely dangerous Neo-Nazi figure. And Timoshenko is still pulling the strings and still orchestrating things from behind bars, but where she fits into the whole picture is not clear."
Klichko and Yatsenyuk are the guys at the front, "very much on the stage, in front of the camera," and what you've got behind it is only Tyahnybok, Phillips told RT. Back in the October 2012 elections when Tyahnybok didn't really capitalize, his party only got around 40 MPs in the Rada, but now Tyahnybok is a strong politician who's waiting for his moment to seize power, Phillips said.
"Tyahnybok is waiting for the other leaders to knock themselves out and then he's going to step over them to seize control. It's a very big likelihood. He is just staying behind, observing the situation and he's quite prepared to let his enemies rip out each other's throats. He's in a very powerful position and has a dominating role in Ukrainian politics. He's taking a back seat but he is waiting and playing a waiting game, waiting for the right time to make his move. Believe me, he has something up his sleeve, and this is something intrinsic in terms of the future of Ukraine," he said.
If the future of Ukraine is Tyahnybok, you are looking at an extremely dangerous situation, Phillips said, whereby Ukraine would move closer to the EU under the opposition.
"Tyahnybok and Svoboda party are far-right, in fact even further right than the Golden Dawn party in Greece. You are looking at Ukraine falling in the hands of the man who is one of the most far-right leaders in world politics."
January 11, 2014
How did al-Qaida, a tiny anti-Communist group in Afghanistan that had no more than 200 active members in 2001 become a supposed worldwide threat?How can al-Qaida be all over the Mideast, North Africa, and now much of black Africa? This after the US spent over $1 trillion trying to stamp out al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan?
The answer is simple. As an organization and threat, al-Qaida barely exists. But as a name, al-Qaida and "terrorism" have become the west's handy universal term for armed groups fighting western influence, corruption or repression in Asia and Africa. Al-Qaida is nowhere – but everywhere.
... ... ...
Back in the Cold War, almost all groups opposing western domination were called communists. Today, al-Qaida has replaced communism as a hot button name. The widespread – but probably mistaken – belief that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida was responsible for the 9/11 attacks has made anything "linked" to al-Qaida fair game for liquidation.
Branding your foes "terrorists" is a fine way of de-legitimizing them and denying them any political or humanitarian rights. Israel did this very effectively with the hapless Palestinians, who foolishly cooperated by bombing civilians.
However, the obvious problem here is that doing so creates an endless supply of "terrorists" and pressure to take action against them. That and oil are the reason US special forces are now beating the bush all over black Africa. It's the never-ending "long war" that America's militarist and neocon circles want, and against which President Dwight Eisenhower so presciently warned back in the 1950's.
Annual report on the meeting, "Mercury Club " by Yevgeny Primakov was devoted to harsh criticism of neoliberalism in Russia - mostly of its economic policy . "Especially acute is the problem of combatting the neoliberal policies in Russia", - said Primakov actually accusing neoliberals with sabotaging the Putin reforms. Academician enumerated the main efforts of the Kremlin during the last year directed on prevention of another round of neoliberal reforms in Russian economy -- the new privatization binge was postponed, the attempts of weakening and watering down of policy of social protection which was declared in May's presidential decrees were stopped.
...In fact, Primakov stated fundamental differences between the Kremlin and the White House - and as these differences are ideological, it is impossible to get rid of them by just agreeing on some of the median line, the general course. That is why Primakov's diagnosis can be regarded as an indictment of liberal course - the course that Medvedev's the government persistently persue...
" Can I assume that in modern Russian market mechanisms by themselves without state participation are able to provide growth and balanced development of economics, and that a low level of competition is sufficient to achieve the technical and technological progress? Definitely not . Of course, this does not mean state domination of the economy should last forever. But it is necessary in certain historical periods, and I believe that today we are in that period. In addition, our neoliberals do not take into account the lessons of the crisis of 2008-2009. It is known that in the U.S. and in the EU during the crisis government's influence on the economy greatly increased. This trend continues . "
Putin's return to the Kremlin was not in the plans of the neoliberals - that's why Russian White revolution was undertaken before the lections. Unable to stop Putin's liberal part of the elite was forced to obey and to pretend that it will hold a new "illiberal" course Putin stated in his election papers. But in fact for more than one and a half years, the government is sabotaging Putin's reforms, in words agreeing with statist Putin's policy, but in reality trying to continue all the same liberal policy and even trying to "deepen and expand " on it.
Primakov said that
"Pushing for dramatic and immediate reduction of the state's role in the economy, our neoliberals attempted to launch a new large-scale privatization of state property; they, insist on the maximum inclusion into the privatization of major state-owned enterprises for the country," and recalled that in order to prevent privatization plans, in June last year it was necessary a special law " containing adjustments to government policy", essentially cutting privatization appetites short. This decision was not initiated from within the government. "
In other words the Kremlin forced the government to change its policy to prevent "the sale of the motherland." But it was a just a single, albeit a very important skirmish, while the whole ideology of the Medvedev's entourage about role of the government in the economy did not actually change
"Neo-liberals tend to emphasize the monopoly inherent in natural monopolies, but do not pay attention to the" "oligarchic" monopolies of private business, which, for example, through supermarkets push to higher prices for food and other goods. That's what one of the direct causes of inflation in Russia. Growth of municipal tariffs that exceed growth of inflation has also become a significant factor pushing inflation up, rising costs and leading to the loss of competitiveness of our producers ...
High and ever-increasing tariffs, not only hit population pockets, particularly pensioners and low-paid workers, but also are a major constraint on economic growth. Meanwhile, the neoliberal position was that the state refused to fix municipal tariffs, offloading this function the market mechanism. Opposition to this is the president's decision to bind tariff increase to the level of inflation. "
Primakov recalled and that Mededev's government tried to limit investment activities of state companies, despite the fact that "due to currect economic situation large, usually public companies, have more investment opportunities to play a major role in economic growth. Here we are speaking primarily about the implementation of mega-projects, which can and should spur economic growth. "
Indeed, all the major infrastructure projects that have been proposed in the last year came from the president, and not from Medvedev's government. It was Putin at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum last summer announced plans to channel funds from the Russian stability fund for the reconstruction of BAM and Trans-Siberian Railway, construction of a new Ring Road in Moscow and other major investment projects, and in December, said the priority development of Siberia and the Far East. Large scale industrialization is possible only on public funds - the West will not invest in our industry, and a large part of the domestic private sector will neither as they prefer to move capital offshore, despite the threats of Vladimir Putin. Indeed, why go back to their homeland, when their families and they themselves have long lived abroad? It is absurd to expect that the West will be invested in our roads and MIC (even forgetting about current Great Recession in the West) -- why they would strengthen a competitor?
... ... ...
Refusal of re-industrialization domestic neoliberals sometimes try to sell as a boon - it supposedly should allow Russia to enter directly into the post-industrial stage . Hence the "Skolkovo" as a replacement for their own aircraft industry . " Neoliberals , in fact, ignore the need to restore the destroyed in the 90s Russia industries , primarily manufacturing, - Primakov said . - Post-industrial society - it's not just high-tech and service industries. In the same post-industrial United States today there is a clear tendency to try to recover domestic manufacturing, previously off shored to developing countries . "
The definition of economic neoliberalism which has been presented focuses heavily on economic policies and has little to say about non-economic policy (other than that they should not be allowed to interfere with the running of the free market). A more extreme form of economic neoliberalism advocates the use of free market techniques outside of commerce and business, by the creation of new markets in health, education, energy and so on.
This point of view takes the belief, that the only important freedoms are market freedoms, to its logical conclusion. In doing so, however, this took neoliberalism into a more philosophical direction where it came to resemble more of a religion or culture than an economic theory. As Paul Treanor explains:
As you would expect from a complete philosophy, neoliberalism has answers to stereotypical philosophical questions such as "Why are we here" and "What should I do?". We are here for the market, and you should compete. Neo-liberals tend to believe that humans exist for the market, and not the other way around: certainly in the sense that it is good to participate in the market, and that those who do not participate have failed in some way. In personal ethics, the general neoliberal vision is that every human being is an entrepreneur managing their [sic] own life, and should act as such. Moral philosophers call this is a virtue ethic, where human beings compare their actions to the way an ideal type would act – in this case the ideal entrepreneur. Individuals who choose their friends, hobbies, sports, and partners, to maximise their status with future employers, are ethically neoliberal. This attitude – not unusual among ambitious students – is unknown in any pre-existing moral philosophy, and is absent from early liberalism. Such social actions are not necessarily monetarised, but they represent an extension of the market principle into non-economic area of life – again typical for neoliberalism
The rise of neoliberalism in the 1970s as a practical system of government saw it implemented in various forms across the world. In some cases, the result was not anything that could be identified as neoliberalism, often with catastrophic results for the poor. This has resulted in many on the left claiming that this is a deliberate goal of neoliberalism, while those on the right defend the original goals of neoliberalism and insist otherwise, an argument that rages to this day, rendering this section highly controversial. This section attempts to provide an unbiased overview of this discussion, focusing on all the forms of neoliberalism that are not in any way neoliberal, but which have come to be associated with it, as well as the reasons for why this has happened.
One of the best and least controversial examples of "neoliberal" reform is in Russia, whose reforms in 1989 were justified under neoliberal economic policy but which lacked any of the basic features of a neoliberal state (e.g. the rule of law, free press) which could have justified the reforms.
General liberal failure
The least controversial aspect of neoliberalism has often been presented by modern economists critical of neoliberalism's role in the world economic system. Among these economists, the chief voices of dissent are Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman.
Both use arguments about market failure to justify their views on neoliberalism. They argue that when markets are imperfect (which is to say all markets everywhere to some degree), then they can fail and may not work as neoliberals predict, resulting in some form of crony capitalism. The two chief modes of failure are usually due to imperfect property rights and due to imperfect information and correspond directly to Friedrich Hayek's assertion that classical liberalism will not work without protection of the private sphere and the prevention of fraud and deception.
The failure of property rights means that individuals can't protect ownership of their resources and control what happens to them, or prevent others from taking them away. This usually stifles free enterprise and results in preferential treatment for those who can.
The most blatant form of crony capitalism is the creation of a liberal economic system in which only some people ("cronies") are permitted property rights by the government in return for support for the regime, allowing supporters of the regime to expropriate any capital held by opponents. This is a useful method of control which is usually seen in its purest form in countries with dictatorships, where the regime can create a liberal system of markets and government without ceding any control of either. Such reforms can also be used to add a sprinkling of liberal legitimacy for the regime and open the country to external capital.
This form is useful to explain neoliberal reforms in countries where either the will or ability to enforce property rights is lacking, such as the problems of post Soviet Russia, in which reformist politicians colluded with politically connected business people. In return for backing democratic free market reforms, these business figures could expropriate resources in a country where ownership was not clear and sporadically enforced, leading to the rise of the Russian oligarchs.
Some claim that neoliberalism is a form of corporatocracy, the rule of a country by and for the benefit of large corporations. Since large corporations tend to fulfil all the conditions of a wealthy entity, they accrue many of the same benefits over smaller businesses. In addition, multinational corporations enjoy the benefits of neoimperialism on the international stage and can also move their base of operations from a country if that country pursues policies that it deems to be unfriendly to business, a threat which they provoke governments to enact upon.
Although classical neoliberalism rests on the free flow of information, the neoliberal era has been marked by an unprecedented expansion of intellectual property and copyright, an expansion of libel laws to silence criticism (e.g. libel tourism) and expanding corporate secrecy (e.g. in the UK corporations used contract law to forbid discussion of salaries, thereby controlling labour costs), all of which came to be seen as a normal part of neoliberalism, but are wholly against its spirit.
Finally, the fact that many media outlets are themselves part of large corporations leads to a conflict of interest between those corporations and the public good.
Not all members of a society may have equal access to the law or to information, even when everyone is theoretically equal under the law, as in a liberal democracy. This is because access to the law and information is not free as liberals (such as Hayek) assume, but have associated costs. Therefore, in this context, it is sound to say that the wealthy have greater rights than the poor.
In some cases, the poor may have practically no rights at all if their income falls below the levels necessary to access the law and unbiased sources of information, while the very wealthy may have the ability to choose which rights and responsibilities they bear if they can move themselves and their property internationally, resulting in social stratification, also known as class. This tendency to create and strengthen class has resulted in some (most famously David Harvey) claiming that neoliberalism is a class project, designed to impose class on society through liberalism.
In practise, less developing nations have less developed rights and institutions, resulting in greater risk for international lenders and businesses. This means that developing countries usually have less privileged access to international markets than developed countries. Because of this effect, international lenders are also more likely to invest in foreign companies (i.e. multinational corporations) inside a country, rather than in local businesses, giving international firms an unfair competitive advantage. Also, speculative flows of capital may enter the country during a boom and leave during a recession, deepening economic crises and destabilizing the economy.
Both of these problems imply that developing countries should have greater protections against international markets than developed ones and greater barriers to trade. Despite such problems, IMF policy in response to crises, which is supposed to be guided by neoliberal ideas such as the Washington Consensus, is to increase liberalization of the economy and decrease barriers, allowing bigger capital flight and the chance for foreign firms to shore up their monopolies. Additionally, the IMF acts to increase moral hazard, since international involvement will usually result in an international bailout with foreign creditors being treated preferentially, leading international firms to discount the risks of doing business in less developed countries and forcing the government to pay for them instead.
The view of some that international involvement and the imposition of "neoliberal" policies usually serves to make things worse and acts against the interests of the country being "saved", has led some to argue that the policies have nothing to do with any form of liberalism, but hide some other purpose. The most common assertion given by opponents is that they are a form of neocolonialism, where the more developed countries can exploit the less developed countries. However, even opponents do not agree. For example, Stiglitz assumes that there is no neoimperial plot, but that the system is driven by a mixture of ideology and special interests, in which neoliberal fundamentalists, who do not believe that neoliberalism can fail, work with financial and other multinational corporations, who have the most to benefit from opening up foreign markets. David Harvey, on the other hand, argues that local elites exploit neoliberal reforms in order to impose reforms that benefit them at the cost of the poor, while transferring the blame onto the "evil imperialist" developed countries, citing the example of Argentina in 2001.
Neoliberalism seeks to transfer control of the economy from public to the private sector, under the belief that it will produce a more efficient government and improve the economic health of the nation. The definitive statement of the concrete policies advocated by neoliberalism is often taken to be John Williamson's "Washington Consensus." The Washington Consensus is a list of policy proposals that appeared to have gained consensus approval among the Washington-based international economic organizations (like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank). Williamson's list included ten points:
- Fiscal policy Governments should not run large deficits that have to be paid back by future citizens, and such deficits can have only a short term effect on the level of employment in the economy. Constant deficits will lead to higher inflation and lower productivity, and should be avoided. Deficits should only be used for occasional stabilization purposes.
- Redirection of public spending from subsidies (especially what neoliberals call "indiscriminate subsidies") and other spending neoliberals deem wasteful toward broad-based provision of key pro-growth, pro-poor services like primary education, primary health care and infrastructure investment
- Tax reform – broadening the tax base and adopting moderate marginal tax rates to encourage innovation and efficiency;
- Interest rates that are market determined and positive (but moderate) in real terms;
- Floating exchange rates;
- Trade liberalization – liberalization of imports, with particular emphasis on elimination of quantitative restrictions (licensing, etc.); any trade protection to be provided by low and relatively uniform tariffs; thus encouraging competition and long term growth
- Liberalization of the "capital account" of the balance of payments, that is, allowing people the opportunity to invest funds overseas and allowing foreign funds to be invested in the home country
- Privatization of state enterprises; Promoting market provision of goods and services which the government cannot provide as effectively or efficiently, such as telecommunications, where having many service providers promotes choice and competition.
- Deregulation – abolition of regulations that impede market entry or restrict competition, except for those justified on safety, environmental and consumer protection grounds, and prudent oversight of financial institutions;
- Legal security for property rights;
12/12/2013 | IP JournalInterview with Germany's new Russia policy coordinator, Gernot Erler
The fight over Ukraine's international orientation – a tug of war between Russia and the EU – has led to massive demonstrations in Kiev. We ask Social Democrat and Russia expert Gernot Erler about where Europe went wrong with Ukraine. He warns that German and European politicians are making a mistake
IP: Mr. Erler, the news is dominated by events in Ukraine. Germany's President Joachim Gauck has just announced that he will not attend the Olympic Winter Games in Russia. You are well known as a Russia expert and friend...
Gernot Erler: …that sounds almost like an accusation.
IP: No, that wasn't intended. But we would like to ask you to explain Russia to us. Have Germany and Europe chosen the right tack?
Erler: The continuity on Russia is much greater than is the public sometimes realizes, both in Germany and at EU level. For many years, successive German governments have pursued essentially the same policy on Russia. Economic cooperation is the first of three contributing factors. Every German government has, together with the business community, always had an interest in strengthening economic ties. The second factor is based on our need for Russian cooperation on certain international tasks. There is the issue of transit rights for German soldiers, for instance. The Bundeswehr is planning to bring back a good part of its equipment from Afghanistan over land. Recently, Russia has also played a very constructive role in dealing with international conflicts.
IP: Please explain.
Erler: Russia has made a constructive turn-around on Syria. That has done much to make it possible to have a Syria peace conference in Geneva in January. Without Russia, Syria would not have relinquished its chemical weapons, either. Russia has played also an important role with Iran. It remains true that we will only be able to deal with global challenges like climate change, energy security, water resources or food security if we work with countries like Russia or China. That's the third pillar of continuity. That's why Germany and the EU have a strategic partnership with Russia.
IP: Yet Russia's domestic policies are becoming ever more questionable.
Erler: Here, there is a lot to be criticized. There are the constraints on civil rights, the discrimination of minorities and the attempt to criminalize part of the opposition. This darkens Russia's public image. We continue to need a critical dialogue with the Russian government about these issues. But none of that really changes the political realities I have listed. That's why the main lines of German and European policy remain unchanged.
IP: What role does the conflict over Ukraine play?
Erler: The situation in Ukraine has reached an impasse. Very possibly the EU did not recognize the problems in time.
IP: Could you explain?
Erler: It all began with the Eastern Neighborhood Program in 2009, which was initiated by Poland, with strong support from Sweden. Warsaw wanted to open the EU up to giving Ukraine an accession perspective. From a Polish point of view, that was very understandable. But the other EU countries did not go along. They rejected giving Ukraine any perspective of EU accession.
IP: Instead, Kiev got offered an association accord.
Don't forget the intention behind all the EU's neighborhood policies: the EU wants to foster cross-border cooperation out of its own historical experience. The Eastern Partnership was meant to improve regional cooperation so that progress could be made on the dangerous frozen conflicts in Transnistria, South Ossetia, Abchasia and Nagorno-Karabach. But that didn't work. None of these conflicts have been solved. Instead, intense work started on the association accords. The EU offered Ukraine a very far-reaching free trade agreement to compensate for not giving it an accession perspective. It was meant as a kind of sweetener. But in Russia, this set off alarm bells.
IP: How did Moscow react?
Erler: In 2011, Putin proposed setting up a Eurasian Union, a kind of customs union of Eastern countries. But that creates new problems. Mainly for technical reasons, it is not possible for Ukraine to join the Eurasian Union while being part of a far-reaching free trade agreement with the EU. One of the reasons is that Kazakhstan and Belorussia aren't members of the World Trade Organization. Yet the EU never raised the point that Eurasian Union and EU agreement were mutually exclusive.
IP: Until the Vilnius summit.
Erler: Yes. Ahead of that summit, Putin put the screws on. Gas prices were one example. Ukrainian chocolate which had been exported for decades, suddenly turned into a faulty product. At the same time, however, the International Monetary Fund also intervened. It suddenly imposed new conditions on Ukraine for further credits. In turn, the EU had made its lending commitment contingent on an agreement between the IMF and Ukraine. This meant that Ukraine suddenly caught fire from both sides: from the East and the West.
IP: In the end, President Yanukovich renounced signing the EU association accord.
Erler: That's true. But Ukraine isn't going to join up with the Eurasian Union immediately, either. That would mean slamming the door on the EU. What will happen instead is Yanukovich continuing to seesaw. And we should use this time of see-sawing to investigate whether there can be any kind of a middle road. Whether there are ways of granting the Ukraine substantial trade advantages without alienating Russia's interests. That's a technical process which needs to be clarified.
IP: But the real issue is Ukraine's independence from Russia. That's not a technical question.
Erler: Of course not entirely. One basic problem is the Russian view. Russia sees the rapprochement of Ukraine toward the EU as a kind of border violation. You can't just ignore the centuries of relations between Russia and the Ukraine. That isn't something that can be fixed through a technical process. But the first thing is to get out of the current cold war-type situation. We need steps toward détente, steps that get us out of this problem of mutual exclusiveness. People in Kiev believe that demonstrations can force the government to sign the EU association accord after all. But if that happens, Russia will take considerable measures. How do you get out of this situation? Not by increasing pressure. Not by saying every day that the door is open. It's obvious that the door is open. We would do better to talk about how to make the Eurasian customs union and the EU's free trade agreement compatible.
IP: Should Russia be included in these talks?
Erler: That's what Russia has demanded. The EU had been negotiating with Ukraine for years, and both sides were just about ready to sign. And then Russia came and said: let's have trilateral talks about all of this. In this immediate situation, the EU could not possibly give in to those demands. In the longer term, however, one will have to include the Russian side in the mediation process.
IP: At this point in time, mediation doesn't look very likely. Germany and the EU have very clearly taken the side of the Ukrainian opposition.
Erler: I think it was wrong that Mr. Westerwelle visited the demonstrations. If you visit a country, it is normal to meet representatives of the opposition as well as people from the government. But to go out into the street and join a demonstration – that's unusual. Quite apart from the fact that Swoboda ("Freedom"), one of the parties in the Ukrainian opposition, is clearly a nationalist and far-right organization. If Mr. Klitschko works with them, that's his business. Mr. Westerwelle should have looked more closely.
IP: The EU's Top Diplomat Catherine Ashton also visited the demonstrations.
Erler: There is one thing I do not understand: how can you offer to mediate and, at the same time, clearly take one side? That lacks credibility. On Ukraine, the EU has made too many misjudgments. The EU also thought that it could impose a precondition for signing the association agreement, namely getting Yulia Timoshenko released. But due to Russian pressure, among other factors, Ukraine didn't intend to sign anyhow, so there wasn't any way of imposing conditions.
IP: Timoschenko will remain in prison?
Erler: That's what I assume, at least as long as the current government is in power.
IP: If you consider the enormous expectations that Ukrainians have vis-à-vis Europe: Will the EU to be able to continue saying no to Ukraine's wish for accession?
Erler: That's what it will do. Right now, there is absolutely no support in Europe for new promises to other countries. It would be unrealistic to expect anything different. And it would provoke the Russian side even more if the EU didn't just offer association and free trade, but accession to the EU, The political class in Russia would see this as absolute provocation and do anything to stop it from happening.
Reality interferes... (3, Insightful)Perhaps. Perhaps not.
The reality is that the US and west never stopped waging the Cold War. We broke the understanding with Russia and pushed NATO eastward, even incorporating parts of the former USSR into NATO.
Then we tore up the ABM treaty and put anti-missile bases in Eastern Europe claiming we were doing that because of Iran. The Russians didn't find that laughable claim one bit funny and understood that the west was seeking to negate their nuclear deterrence.
NATO has been used offensively both inside and outside of Europe and shows that it has nothing to do with "defense".
We portrayed a rag-tag group of Muslim fundamentalists as some sort of existential threat to the US and west, but now the US gov't has made a "pivot" and is portraying China as militarily aggressive because they are squabbling over some worthless islets with their neighbors. It's clear that China is the focus of a new Cold War.
It's clear the US is in search of a "new enemy" because that's what keeps Americans distracted from how much we waste on our military and our continuing economic decline.
"Were the Soviet Union to sink tomorrow under the waters of the ocean, the American military-industrial establishment would have to go on, substantially unchanged, until some other adversary could be invented. Anything else would be an unacceptable shock to the American economy."
-- Ambassador to the USSR and US State Dept. strategist George F. Kennan.
Jan 13, 2014 | Ukrainian Pravda
Note: This is slightly edited Google translation of Interview by Serg Leshchenk (SL) of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine in 2003-2006 John Herbst (JH) published by Ukrainian Pravda
John Herbst was the U.S. ambassador in Kiev during the Orange Revolution, and was personally involved in many processes that shaped the new political realities in Ukraine. During his tenure as an ambassador there was tightening of the screws in the last two years Kuchma , when there were rigged elections, when Maidan occurred, then the war of self-destruction within Orange movement started ...
Perhaps, his work in Kiev considered with the most interesting epoch in Ukrainian politics, when hopelessness was replaced unprecedented rise, and then - a deep disappointment. In memory of those days Herbst office is decorate with the greeting card from Maidan with 2005 New Year wishes. The picture orange triumph, and Viktor Yanukovich leaves the stage. At the top of the picture. you can guess, are the signatures of victorious duet - Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Timoshenko. If only they knew then, where they will be in ten years ...
After his stay in Kiev John Herbst landed at the National Defense University - he heads the Center for complex operations , but unofficially remains one of the most influential Ukraine experts in Washington. Who is extremely valuable as he has personal contacts and knowledge of all major political figures in Ukraine.
Herbst's office is located at a military base McNair in the southeast of Washington, DC, where the author of this interview managed to get without any pre-accreditation - I just need to show my passport .
While working in Kiev Herbst was laconic in dealing with the press. So it was pretty surprising to hear from him now direct answers to many questions, which diplomats, even retired, try to avoid
SL: Mr. Herbst, you were the US ambassador in Kiev during the Orange Revolution. Now a new Maidan in Kyiv is taking place. What are the similarities and differences between those two events?
JH: What are the similarities with the events of 2004 ? First of all there is the same reason for the protests that existed before the Orange Revolution - corrupt government , which causes the resentment of people.
Also both then and now there are powerful opposition forces in Ukraine. Both then and now the protests were triggered by single unique event. In 2004 it was election fraud. Now it was President Yanukovych's decision to stop talks with the European Union.
But current events have clear differences from the Orange Revolution. In 2004, the opposition was preparing his actions beforehand, because they knew about the authorities' plans to steal the election. Now the protests in the street are more like an unplanned surprise. These protests were spontaneous, they are more like the Arab Spring than the Orange Revolution (really like Arab Spring up to instructions to protesters translated from Arabic, but having the same pictures -- NNB ;-)
In 2004 the opposition knew what they want to achieve as a result of the protests - and fair election rerun of the second round. On EuroMaidan there no such a clear goal. First, the opposition demanded that Yanukovich left. But it was never a realistic goal . Yanukovich won a fair election in 2010. You can say that to refuse an agreement with the EU - it is a political mistake. You can say that to forcefully disperse protesters is a political crime. But even this is not enough to demand the resignation of the president. Yes, it may be grounds for removal of the Minister of Internal Affairs, which is not an elected position, but not the President.
Today protesters on Maidan lack far reaching, but a realistic goal that would resonate with the majority of Ukrainians . This - the main difference from 2004 , and this is the reason the current dead end of EuroMaidan.
SL: But how could avoid this dead end, if the current protests arose spontaneously ?
JH: Opposition leaders should be realistic - Yanukovich is not going to fold and we must honestly admit it. But at the same time, a gift from Putin to Yanukovich did not satisfy people on Maidan. There should be realistic demands of the opposition. For example, the first is the release of Yulia Timoshenko, the second - the resignation of the Interior Minister and the Prime Minister, the third - guarantee of participation of Vitali Klitschko in the presidential elections.
SL: But Yanukovich grabbed the powers of the Constitutional Court - is not that a usurpation of power ?
JH: In Ukraine, such things happens. And people, when it happened in the past, did not protest as much as they are now .
SL: But these conditions - release Timoshenko, guarantees for Klitschko and resignation of the government -- together they look like capitulation of Yanukovich.
JH: Yanukovich today is weaker less than two months ago. Despite the gift from Putin. Under a strong leader, people are not gathered by the thousands each day to protest against his policies (does he hints on Occupy Wall -Steet dispersal ? -- NNB). Yanukovich should offer something to Maidan as the price the normalization of the situation in the country. The opposition should give Yanukovich space for compromise , as it was in 2004.
Meanwhile, the opposition demands has been unrealistic, and Yanukovich decided that protests will disappear by themselves. This is predictable tactics by Yanukovich, because it is difficult to keep people on the streets for a long time. Orange Revolution lasted just 17 days -- from the beginning of the protests to the point where it was found a compromise (here by compromise Herbst means Yanukovich capitulation --NNB). And now it's almost two months of EuroMaidan. The question whether the opposition is ready to keep people on the street further? If the opposition is able to do so, and can put a more realistic demands, Yanukovich will eventually be forced to make concessions. If not - he will just wait until people disperse.
SL: There are repeated calls to attack the administration of President Yanukovich or residence because peaceful protest did not lead to any tangible results ...
JH: People who are calling for the assault are essentially the Party of Regions pawns, even if they identify themselves as opponents of Yanukovich. If they use violence, they untie the hands of Yanukovich is to use the power up to sweeping up all of the Maidan clean. The only successful tactic of the opposition is a peaceful protest. Because society will not understand the use of force against peaceful demonstrators (why he is still thinking in terms of Gene Sharp, despite a blow in the face State Department got in Russian in 2011-2012, not in terms of Lebanon or God forbid Libya -- NNB).
In early December, Yanukovich tried to disperse the Maidan, but realized that it only increases the number of people on the street. Today we have the individual attacks against activists and journalists. Even if the government says that they has nothing to do with those attacked, everybody understand that those who perform these attacks support Yanukovich. And shadow of those actions falls on his reputation. If demonstrators use force, they will destroy their position. Yanukovich - is a smart man. And the violence only play into his hands.
SL: What do you mean calling Yanukovich a smart politician?
JH: While I was ambassador, we saw each other may be even more frequently than I saw Yushchenko. I met with him as often as I met with Timoshenko. Yes, Yanukovich is not an intellectual. Both Timoshenko also can't be called an intellectual. And we did not met to discuss Immanuel Kant. But everyone agrees that Timoshenko is street smart. However, much less people understand that Yanukovich is also street smart. He is street smart in the sense that he had a good understanding of issues in hand, and has a vision of politician. We could talk with him about NATO, the energy complex, tax issues. He neve need a cheat sheet in his hands from which to read talking points [ is this a hidden swipe at Obama? --NNB]. We talked with him, as I am talking with you now, about very complex issues. People used to laugh at him, because they did not like him - and they were wrong.
SL: What do you think about the idea of sanctions against Ukrainian authorities?
JH: Individual sanctions in 2004 worked very effectively. And now they will be effective against the "siloviki" block in the Yanukovich team.
SL: Please tell us more about sanctions used in 2004...
JH: You know, the people who rigged elections in 2004, they thought about their own material interests, not about the implementation of the platform of the Party of Regions. They were not willing to any sacrifices to achieve their goal, they goal was to falsify election in order to be in power and enrich themselves by robbing the Ukrainian citizens.
If these people know that they may be subject to sanctions, they will be careful not to look in the eyes of the West "evil doers". Because the best place to enjoy the wealth that you stole from their fellow citizens - is not Ukraine, but Paris, London or New York . And if the United States impose sanctions, they will not be able to visit America, and quite possibly Europe, which might also close the door to them. Therefore, the threat of sanctions is a very serious tool .
Despite his unpopularity Yanukovich can to win elections
SL: Many fear that Yanukovich in the coming months to begin to tighten the screws ...
JH: If Yanukovich start arresting people for taking part in the protests, he would be severely criticized by the U.S. and EU. Does he care ? I think the answer is yes, because Yanukovich does not want to be a pawn of Putin. Yes, he can take help from Putin, but only to solve internal problems. Influential people in Yanukovich close circle should explain to him that if Ukraine is too close to the Kremlin, that will be against their interests.
Yanukovich used to hold a pro-Russian position, because it was profitable for him as a politician. Such a position is supported by the part of the electorate - in Crimea, Donetsk, Lugansk and Odessa.
SL: And what is actually his platform ?
JH: Grab larger and better pieces for yourself and your friends. Such politicians exists everywhere, even in the U.S. Now Yanukovich and his oligarchs realized that it would be very bad for their business, if they became members of the Customs Union. Because people today who are very influential in Kiev, will have very little influence in Moscow. And the Russian oligarchs, who are also very intelligent, and who have a good relationship in the Kremlin, will use their influence in Moscow to swallow assets of Ukrainian oligarchs.
Therefore, even after all the recent events, Yanukovich does not want to be a pariah in the West. But if Yanukovich will undertake the forceful dispersal Maidan, I will support the imposition of sanctions - and not only against "sloviki" block in Yanukovich government. If sanctions will be imposed against one or two specific individuals, and in the case of forceful dispersal such sanctions will be imposed - it will have a very serious impact.
SL: Does Yanukovich have a chance for re-election in 2015?
JH: Despite its unpopularity today, he can win a fair election. Year is a long time in politics. I was in Ukraine in January 2005, when the people around Yanukovich called him a man without a future . But I told them - look, maybe you 're right, but Yanukovich has campaigned, even losing, in the South and East , working with their constituents . His career is not over yet. And he won the democratic elections in 2010.
It is important that in 2015 honest elections were held. I think in the Party of Regions there are people who will try to rig the elections . But in my opinion, the strength of the opposition is growing. Ant it will be ready to respond effectively in the event of tampering.
SL: Should now the opposition to Yanukovich guarantee non-prosecution ?
JH: As part of the compromise, which I mentioned , it would be good to Yanukovich knew that he and his family safe.[Does he propose a kind of buy-out, kind of leveraged buy-out to install a new Orange Junta in power -- NNB]. But this compromise must include the release of Timoshenko, the granting of the right to run for Klitschko and fair elections . This does not mean that everything he did or Yanukovich acquired his family for the last five years, to be forgiven, but some reasonable assurance must be provided Yanukovich.
Otherwise, he will do everything possible to stay in power at any cost. And it's worse for Ukraine, then the situation when a politician knows that he can safely retire.
SL: You were an ambassador, when Kuchma resigned as president. He was given any assurances from the orange junta?
JH: I do not possess any information about this.[ looks like they bought Kuchma wholesale -- NNB]. Kuchma behaved very cleverly and morally in the last two or three months on the job. He was under pressure from the people from Yanukovich close cycle to break the resistance at the Maidan. But he did not use force and earned the historical respect.
Q You say that Klitschko must get guarantees that he can participate in the presidential elections. What do you think of him? There are accusations that Klitschko does not possess the knowledge required for the presidency ...
JH: Klitschko - not stupid. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a very successful U.S. president. Seems American judge Oliver Wendell Holmes once said about Roosevelt - a first-class temperament, but a second-rate intellect (the quote second-class intellect but a first-class temperament might be false; see Franklin Delano Roosevelt Champion of Freedom - Conrad Black - Google Books). If Klitschko will pick a team of professional people , it might be able to reach any goals.
President Jimmy Carter was a very smart president. But he lost the election. Franklin Roosevelt was not so smart, but was a very successful president.
I am not sure that orange junta was more moral than Kuchma's team
SL: We already talked about Klitschko and Yanukovich. What do you think about Yulia Timoshenko, based on your experience as an ambassador ?
JH: She was extremely creative, energetic and hell-bent on achieving her goals.
SL: She's a Democrat ?
JH: After the Orange Revolution, she provided a lot of pressure to deprive Kuchma oligarchs some assets. Even when there was no convincing evidence that they got this property dishonestly. I have no doubt that many officials broke the law, including those who were on the side of the Orange Revolution. However, they were not prosecuted. Such selectivity is undemocratic and wrong.
SL: You could then imagine that in a few years after the Orange Revolution, Yulia Timoshenko will be in prison?
JH: I was an unusual U.S. official. I used to say that Yushchenko is a Democrat, and everybody said that, so there was nothing unusual here. But I can not say that Timoshenko had the same democratic instincts as Yushchenko. And I also stated that I am not sure that all the Orange team (aka Orange junta --NNB) was much more moral than Kuchma's gang.
The Americans are used to black and white thinking with just two categories such as good and evil. But what I said is that Yushchenko is just a lighter shade of gray, while Kuchma and Yanukovich are slightly darker shade of gray. Many oligarchs in Yushchenko's team are not much different from the oligarchs in Yanukovich team. And Yulia Timoshenko was also oligarch - the way she made her money is not much different from the ways in which they are made by Kuchma oligarchs .
But that was 15 - 20 years ago. In 1994, nearly all of the oligarchs earned money illegally. And if any new government announces the fight against the oligarchs, it only applies to those who are not allies of the current regime. As a result, the oligarchs only worried that their party won at any cost at the next elections.
SL: Why, then, the United States supported the Orange Revolution ?
JH: We support the democratic process. There is no doubt that Kuchma's administration in 2004, help an unfair elections, supporting the candidate Yanukovich. If Yanukovich won fairly in 2004, we would have welcomed his election.
SL: It is true that even after the Orange Revolution, Yulia Timoshenko few years could not enter the United States, fearing arrest ?
JH: Yeah, I also understood this situation the same way. I do not know the situation in detail. It is known that Lazarenko was convicted of money laundering in the United States . But Timoshenko part of her career worked with Lazarenko. And American law enforcement officers wanted to question Timoshenko. And she did not want to testify. That meant that for a while she could not get in the USA legally.
SL: Why "the Orange fairy tale," as everybody all perceived the events on Maidan, was dead on arrival ?
JH: People have been disappointed with how the new government struggled with corruption. They were no better than their predecessors. And yet in stark contrast to what happened after the victory of Saakashvili in Georgia. Unlike Yushchenko, Saakashvili was not a democrat. But Saakashvili very seriously fought corruption. And ordinary Georgians could feel it. For example, the absence of corruption among traffic police in Georgia.
In order honest officials worked and Ukrainian taxes were spend on citizens, not channeled to the Cayman Islands, you need only 10 thousand honest bureaucrats.
SL: 10 000 that way too many!
JH: You need 500-1000 honest officials at the top, and they can select another 10 people each. However, no matter what were the reasons, Yushchenko failed in his anti-corruption campaign.
SL: How do you see the future of Ukraine ?
JH: In 10 years, Ukraine will be slightly less corrupt, slightly more democratic and a little richer.[ unless with the help of EU it will not became considerably poorer -- NNB ;-)] You make two steps forward then a step back, one step forward -- two steps back . The fact is that the most influential people in Ukraine are still motivated by their narrow personal interests.
The Ukrainian society is not strong enough to seek punishment of those " influential people", who go too far. The strength of the middle class in Ukraine is gradually increasing -- but slower than everyone wants. Therefore, while Ukraine will continue to move forward, she'll be stumbling all the way .
Jan 04, 2014 | DW.DE
Police usually ensure that neo-Nazis and counter-protesters keep their distance during demonstrations. Right-wing extremists, however, increasingly manage to overcome these barricades, but instead of applying force, they simply show their press badge. This card allows them to get up close with their enemies and journalists reporting on the event. Neo-Nazis videotape them and take pictures, and then threaten them.
Press card abuse has grown steadily over the past year, journalist Felix M. Steiner told DW. Steiner writes for Watchblog Publikative.org, the German public broadcaster NDR and Zeit Online's Störungsmelder, a blog on Nazi activity, among others. Steiner mainly reports on right-wing extremism.
"If a journalist reports on a right-wing extremist demonstration, it is common practice to be molested, threatened or physically attacked," he said. He has experienced that himself. The press card allows people to enter the journalists' safe space, making it easier to intimidate people.
It's also much easier to videotape or to take pictures up close from journalists and counter demonstrators. Neo-Nazis use these pictures to check up on them later: who are they, where do they live? Some journalists have later spotted themselves - including their full names and addresses - on right-wing extremist websites.
The neo-Nazi's presence in those press areas disturbs the journalists' actual work. And they don't just show up at press areas at demonstrations. They also force their way into court rooms, as Steiner has heard from colleagues. There, they effectively hinder reporting; for instance, by smearing camera lenses.
And there is another potential risk: They could try to obtain information they should not be allowed to get, for example, on certain police tactics.
That's just another stepping stone in the neo-Nazi scene's strategy of creating a "counter public" that discards professional media and instead focuses on the neo-Nazi's viewpoints. That's why they make use of blogs, social networks or regional papers free of charge.
"Then, all of the sudden, citizens inform themselves via the free NPD paper that offers a mix of regional and national topics and initially doesn't raise suspicions," Steiner said. That's why the NPD has taken root in some of Germany's regions.
Press cards for everyone?
But how do neo-Nazis get these cards? "The press card is not protected by law – and neither is the term journalist. Everyone can create a document that has the term "press card" on it - or buy it from dubious vendors," the spokesman of the German Federation of Journalists (DJV), Hendrik Zörner, said. He can't offer numbers, but confirms these cases have indeed increased.
It's not forbidden to create press cards, but usually a person with such a makeshift card doesn't get very far and shouldn't make it to the press area. But for that to happen, police or court clerks would need to be able to recognize a reputable press badge; for instance, the cards issued by DJV, the German Journalists Union (DJU) of labor union Verdi, or the Federation of German Newspaper Publishers (BDZV).
But that doesn't always work. Journalist Andrea Röpke said that it has happened before that the "real" press person was asked to leave because police thought he or she was the troublemaker - and not the neo-Nazi.
Zörner says it is not impossible for neo-Nazis to obtain a DJV card, although he hasn't heard of any concrete case where they got a DJV press badge. For such a document, the person applying for the card needs to prove that the main occupation is indeed journalism. "That's only possible through an employment agreement or payment invoices." Those documents clearly have to state the employer – "and we know all the extreme right publications," Zörner said.
In order to make it easier for people to spot legitimate press cards, DJV is lobbying for a reintroduction of a nationwide press badge. It should only be given to full-time journalists to ensure there are "no free riders anymore," Zörner said.
- Experts call for official tracking of hate crimes in Germany Experts say that collecting official data on hate crimes could help in the fight against violence motivated by prejudice. Recent studies suggest that anti-Semitism and xenophobia are on the rise in Germany. (20.11.2013)
- Neo-Nazis form expanding networks beyond national borders The cooperation between right-wing extremists from different countries is gaining strength. Experts warn that this phenomenon could have dangerous consequences. (21.09.2013)
- 'Germany must wake up to neo-Nazi threat' Germany is flat-out ignoring the threat of neo-Nazism, argues author and journalist David Crossland. With his debut novel, a gripping and violent political thriller, he hopes to shake the country awake. (19.09.2013)
03.01.2014 | DW.DE
It's one of the fundamental rights of EU citizens that they can look for work in any of the member states. By joining the bloc, the people of any new member are granted this right - though not necessarily with immediate effect. Other countries in the 28-member bloc have to the option to somewhat restrict that freedom of movement for a maximum of seven years. In the case of members Romania and Bulgaria, nine of the older members have done so - among them Germany and the United Kingdom.
Since the beginning of the year, this restriction has been lifted, which has reignited a debate in Germany over the country's immigration laws. It's a discussion triggered by the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union. Prominent party members have been warning of what they described as "poverty immigration." UK Prime Minister David Cameron has raised similar concerns, warning of social welfare "tourism."
A sense of fear
The German debate was marked by a defensive fear, explained Andreas Pott, director of the Institute for Migration and Intercultural Studies of Osnabruck University. He told DW that when compared to other countries Germany was less relaxed in its handling of migrants.
In Spain for instance, there are hardly any such debates although the country is itself suffering from high unemployment levels. According to OECD figures, the country has seen some 51,000 Bulgarian and 327 Romanian immigrants between 2007 and 2011. In Italy, the restriction was lifted in 2012 and in the past decade one in four immigrants was Romanian and there was no debate on the issue. In Germany, however, where unemployment is at relatively low 5 percent, the debate is all over the media.
Traditionally closer ties between Romania and Italy or Spain may play a role in those countries more welcoming attitude. What probably is more decisive though is that an economically strong country like Germany might be more attractive for prospective immigrants.
"In Italy and Spain it is currently very difficult to find a job. Where there are no jobs, there's little immigration for jobs," said OECD migration expert Thomas Liebig. In Germany however, there's actually need for workers and employees.
... ... ...
jrepin sends this excerpt from an opinion piece at OSNews: "Late last year, president Obama signed a law that makes it possible to indefinitely detain terrorist suspects without any form of trial or due process. Peaceful protesters in Occupy movements all over the world have been labelled as terrorists by the authorities. Initiatives like SOPA promote diligent monitoring of communication channels. Thirty years ago, when Richard Stallman launched the GNU project, and during the three decades that followed, his sometimes extreme views and peculiar antics were ridiculed and disregarded as paranoia - but here we are, 2012, and his once paranoid what-ifs have become reality."
Occupy != Terrorists (5, Insightful)
I have yet to see a nation or government take the official stance that Occupy are terrorists. Squatters, freedom-of-speech-abusers, illegal encampments, yes, but not terrorists.Peaceful protesters in Occupy movements all over the world have been labelled as terrorists by the authorities
While I decry the NDAA and SOPA as much as anyone, I'll not buy into the Occupy claims of victimization and persecution when they squatted for TWO MONTHS before the police were sent in to clear them out. You have a right to protest, to share your ideas, and to educate the public. You do NOT have the right to squat in public spaces until the world does things your way, or we'd still have grey-haired hippies camped out all across the nation demanding that you "free the weed."
I certainly won't buy any paranoid claims that they're going to be locked up as terrorists.
Anonymous CowardI have yet to see a nation or government take the official stance that Occupy are terrorists.
Business Insider: British Police Label Occupy London Terrorists [businessinsider.com]
Which is a completely false headline, if you actually read the police newsletter that it references. Even if it *were* true that the London police had classified them as terrorists (which, I repeat, they did not), that's still a far cry from the hysterical "Occupy movements all over the world have been labelled as terrorists by the authorities" claim in the summary of *this* article. Geez, people, take a breath between your rants.
Yes because we all know no one ever got shot in the head @ occupy.
Iraq veteran seriously injured by police projectile is lucid and responding but brain swelling still a risk, say doctors
Evidence for quote (2)
"Peaceful protesters in Occupy movements all over the world have been labelled as terrorists by the authorities"
Are there examples of this?
I've heard them labeled as (paraphrasing) shiftless, stupid, smelly losers costing taxpayers money.For the record (5, Informative)trout007
they used the Patriot Act against the Occupy Wall Street protestors :).The best part of this legislation is you can't bring it before the Supreme Court. You have to have standing to bring the lawsuit but if you have standing it means you are locked away without access to an attorney indefinitely.
In everyday life, if you see two or more parties arguing vigorously, the best thing to do is maintain a benevolent neutrality. This simple lesson also applies to diplomacy. But, as recent events in Ukraine demonstrate all too well, it is apparently one the leaders of the European Union have failed to heed.
The EU is pursuing what it calls its 'European Neighbourhood Policy' in relation to a group of countries – including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – that are normally seen as being within Russia's sphere of influence. By furthering its economic and security interests, and in the guise of 'exporting democracy', the EU is challenging Russian interests. This is a serious misjudgement, with serious consequences for the people of Ukraine.
The EU is playing on a longstanding division within Ukraine, between the pro-European, rural west of the country and the populous and industrialised east and south, which have long looked to Russia. It is now eight years since the start of the EU's Action Plan for Ukraine, which talked up 'the opportunity for the EU and Ukraine to develop an increasingly close relationship, going beyond cooperation, to gradual economic integration and a deepening of political cooperation'. Ukraine has enough difficulty balancing its internal tensions and the need to keep Russia on side (for both strategic and historical reasons, Russia sees Ukraine as a vital part of its sphere of influence). The intervention of the EU into Ukraine's affairs, rather than helping matters, has only exacerbated these internal instabilities.
Last November, the EU held a summit in Vilnius in Lithuania with a group of former Soviet states in an attempt to agree an 'Eastern Partnership' with Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus and three states in the Caucasus: Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Negotiations had been going on since May 2009, in the aftermath of the Russian intervention into Georgia. The deal would have given these states greater access to EU markets, but at the expense of having to adopt many EU laws and regulations, and with no economic aid provided. However, Ukraine refused to sign the deal, having instead opted to accept $15 billion in bilateral aid from Russia and receiving a much-needed reduction in the price of gas imports. Given the parlous state of the Ukrainian economy, Russia's offer was one Ukraine could hardly refuse.
However, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych's decision was the straw that broke the camel's back for many western Ukrainians, who see Yanukovych as a corrupt Russian stooge and who desire closer ties with the EU. The protests of the past two months are a direct result of the failure of the Vilnius summit. At the end of last year, in an article titled 'Europe's Ukrainian blunder', the former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer – no stranger himself to heavy-handed diplomacy – was sharply critical of the EU's strategy. 'From Yanukovych's point of view', he wrote, '[the Russian] agreement made sense in the short run: the gas deal would help Ukraine survive the winter, the loan would help keep it from defaulting on its debt, and the Russian market, on which the economy depends, would remain open.' So why, Fischer asked, 'did the EU press for an association agreement, without being able to offer Ukraine anything comparable to what Russia offered?'.
Even the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, admitted the EU's strategy had been a mistake. 'I think we underestimated the drama of the domestic political situation in Ukraine', he told the German public radio station Deutschlandfunk in November. Ukraine, he said, 'has been in a deep economic and financial crisis' since the introduction of democracy. 'They desperately need money and they desperately need a reliable gas supply', said Schulz.
Now, the situation in Ukraine is desperate. The protests are even spreading east, taking on a general anti-government character. There is the possibility of deepening divisions and conflict in Ukrainian society. Ukrainian novelist Andrey Kurkov argues that it is by no means impossible that the country will disintegrate. If the protests are suppressed, he argues, Yanukovych will be viewed in western Ukraine as an oppressor.
There is a serious tension between the aspiration and the reality of EU foreign policy. The reasons for this include the missionary zeal with which it has been pursued – apparently without regard to such pesky things as national interests, geopolitical power relations or simple domestic political stability. The EU, in its preening fashion, sees itself as offering 'values leadership' to the world.
So, the European Neighbourhood Policy presents the EU as a 'community of values'. Article 7a of the Lisbon Treaty declares: 'The Union shall develop a special relationship with neighbouring countries, aiming to establish an area of prosperity and good neighbourliness, founded on the values of the Union and characterised by close and peaceful relations based on cooperation.' No mention here of such vile things as material interests or power politics. Once upon a time, such a drive for expansion would be regarded as 'imperialism' and understood as something negative. Today, the nation state – particularly when it comes to weaker states that refuse to bow down to the West – is now regarded as the problem.
What lies behind this EU drive to expand is not an evil intent or conspiracy. Rather, it is an infatuation with presenting positive values to the world, mixed with historical amnesia, that creates this 'moral' foreign policy. What is missing is any rational sense of the different interests that have created the situation in Ukraine, any appreciation of how the sort of meddling pursued by the EU over the past few years has ruptured delicate balances in Ukrainian society and inflamed tensions and violence that even EU officials themselves are now panicking about. What would be nice would be a European party that would stand up to this assault from Brussels on the elected government in Kiev. They would get my vote.
Sabine Reul is a writer and translator based in Frankfurt. She is also a member of the editorial team of the German magazine NovoArgumente. A longer version of this article, in German, is available here: Ukraine: Das Fiasko europäischer „Nachbarschaftspolitik"
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