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For The Record  

FTR #781 All’s Well That’s Orwell: The Ministry of Truth and the Ukrainian Crisis (Yuschenko Uber Alles)

Swoboda leader Oleh Tiahanybok salutes

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash drive that can be obtained here. (The flash drive includes the anti-fascist books avail­able on this site.)

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Side 1  Side 2

Introduction: This pro­gram con­tin­ues analy­sis of the instal­la­tion in the Ukraine of a gov­ern­ment com­posed largely of polit­i­cal forces evolved from, and man­i­fest­ing ide­o­log­i­cal con­ti­nu­ity with, the fas­cist OUN/B.

Hav­ing staffed the 14th Waf­fen SS (Gali­cian) Divi­sion and the Ein­satz­grup­pen (mobile exe­cu­tion squads) in the Ukraine, the OUN/B was a piv­otal ele­ment in the post­war Gehlen spy out­fit in its CIA and BND incar­na­tions, the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations and the GOP eth­nic out­reach organization.

OUN/B has been deeply involved with covert oper­a­tions and fig­ures in the inves­ti­ga­tion into the assas­si­na­tion of Pres­i­dent Kennedy, as well as the de-stabilization of the Soviet Union dur­ing the cli­mac­tic phase of the Cold War. With a pro­found pres­ence in the GOP’s eth­nic divi­sion, as well as the con­tem­po­rary Ukrain­ian polit­i­cal infra­struc­ture, the OUN/B is any­thing but an his­tor­i­cal relic. The devel­op­ment of the OUN/B in both the U.S. and the Ukraine is explained in great his­tor­i­cal depth in AFA #37.

The Orwellian aspects of the Ukrainian crisis could not be exaggerated and are explored at greater length in this program (and will be in upcoming programs as well.) (To date, we have done four pro­grams to date about the Ukrain­ian cri­sis: FTR #‘s 777778779780.)

We have noted that Victor Yuschenko’s term as president of the Ukraine–realized through the so-called Orange Revolution–featured the former Ykaterina Chumachenko as his wife. Formerly Ronald Reagan’s Deputy Director of Public Liaison, the former Ms. Chumachenko was a prominent member of the UCCA, the top OUN/B front organization in the United States. (For background on the OUN/B, the Ukrainian fascist template organization for Swoboda, see the For The Record programs noted above.)

We suspect that the former Ms. Chumachenko was the real power behind the throne.

While president of the Ukraine, Yuschenko presided over a fundamental makeover of Ukrainian history and, through that, political ideology.

The dramatic and fundamental nature of this revisionism paved the way for the public positioning of the fascist Swoboda party as a viable, democratic entity. Swoboda is a primary element in the new Ukrainian government, dominating the military and judicial processes of that country.

Program Highlights Include: 

  • Yuschenko literally undertook to create a ministry of truth, in effect, designating the former KGB archives as the focal point to begin a fundamental political makeover of Ukrainian history and ideology.
  • Contrasting the OUN/B and its affiliated organizations as truthful and just, contrasted with “everything Soviet” as false and evil, Yuschenko successfully effected a wholesale revisionism of Ukrainian politics and history.
  • Yushchenko appointed the young activist Volodymyr V’’iatrovych (b. 1977) direc­tor of the SBU archives [the focal point of the successful revisionist effort–D.E.]. V’’iatrovych com­bined his posi­tion as government-appointed mem­ory man­ager with ultra-nationalist activism; he was simul­ta­ne­ously direc­tor of an OUN(b) front orga­ni­za­tion, the Cen­ter for the Study for the Lib­er­a­tion Move­ment.
  • The revisionism cast the OUN/B as having fought the Nazis, a complete historical lie.
  • The alleged anti-Nazi activity of the OUN/B co-exists in a remarkable political landscape with adulation of the 14th Waffen SS Division (Galicia) and its allied formations. Even as OUN/B is portrayed as having saved Jews from the Holocaust, its activities in murdering them is celebrated.
  • Directly, explicitly and overtly evolved from the OUN/B, Swoboda retains all of the OUN/B’s fascism and bigotry, masked by nationalistic fervor.
  • The fundamentals of Swoboda’s politics and character can be gleaned from examining party leader Oleh Tiahnybok’s ideological adviser. “Yurii Mykhal’chyshyn (b. 1982), Tiahnybok’s adviser on ide­o­log­i­cal mat­ters, Svoboda’s top name in the elec­tion to the Lviv city coun­cil and its can­di­date for mayor in 2010, rep­re­sents a more rad­i­cal cur­rent in the move­ment. Proudly con­fess­ing him­self part of the fas­cist tra­di­tion, Mykhal’chyshyn rel­ishes the harsh­ness, extrem­ism and uncom­pro­mis­ing rad­i­cal­ism of his idols of the 1930s and 1940s.
  • In Canada, Tiahnybok was honored by veterans of the 14th Waffen SS Division. In the Ukraine almost a year later, Swoboda held celebrations of the division, featuring and honoring veterans of the unit, returning the grace and favor deferred upon its leader.
  • Tiahnybok ideological adviser Mykhal’chyshyn openly embraces street violence as a fundamental tactic.
  • Tiahnybok ideological adviser Mykhal’chyshyn celebrates the Holocaust and supports Hamas.
  • Swoboda is affiliated with other European fascist parties, including the Swedish fascist milieu to which Pirate Bay/WikiLeaks benefactor Carl Lundstrom belongs.
  • The Swoboda and Pravy Sektor-dominated government’s formation of a national guard, to be comprised of “activists”–the Swoboda and Pravy Sektor fighters, no doubt.
  • Pravy Sektor’s moves to recruit fighters to engage the Russians in combat in the Ukraine.
  • The UNA-UNSO, a Ukrainian fascist combat unit that has engaged in combat against Russia in Georgia and Chechnya. They were present in Kiev during the demonstrations.
  • The presence of a jihadist element among the Crimean Tatars.
  • Potential Saudi Arabian participation in an anti-Russian coalition.

1. Most of the program concerns the Yuschenko’s deliberate and fundamental remaking of Ukrainian history and ideology. Having literally created an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth,” Yuschenko’s government paved the way for the political midwifing of the Swoboda party–the heirs to the OUN/B.

“The Return of the Ukrainian Far Right: The Case of VO Svoboda,” by Per Anders Rudling;  Analyzing Fascist Discourse: European Fascism in Talk and Text edited by Ruth Wodak and John E. Richardson;  Routledge [London and New York] 2013; pp. 228-255, more.

Note that this book is in Google Books.

. . . . . Swept to power by the Orange Revolution, the third president of Ukraine,Viktor Yushchenko (2005–2010), put in substantial efforts into the production of historical myths. He tasked a set of nationalistically minded historians to produce and disseminate an edifying national history as well as a new set of national heroes. . . . .

. . . . . The OUN wings disagreed on strategy and ideology but shared a commitment to the manufacture of a historical past based on victimization and heroism. The émigrés developed an entire literature that denied the OUN’s fascism, its collaboration with Nazi Germany, and its participation in atrocities, instead presenting the organization as composed of democrats and pluralists who had rescued Jews during the Holocaust. The diaspora narrative was contradictory, combining celebrations of the supposedly anti-Nazi resistance struggle of the OUN-UPA with celebrations of the Waffen SS Galizien, a Ukrainian collaborationist formation established by Heinrich Himmler in 1943 (Rudling, 2011a, 2011c, 2012a). Thus, Ukrainian Waffen SS veterans could celebrate the UPA as “anti-Nazi resistance fighters” while belonging to the same war veterans’ organizations (Bairak, 1978). Unlike their counterparts in some other post-Soviet states, Ukrainian “nationalizing” historians did not have to invent new nationalist myths but re-imported a narrative developed by the émigrés (Dietsch, 2006: 111–146; Rudling, 2011a: 751–753). . . . .

YUSHCHENKOISM

As president, Yushchenko initiated substantial government propaganda initiatives. In July 2005, he established an Institute of National Memory, assigned the archives of the former KGB (now the SBU, Sluzhba Bezpeki Ukrainy, the Ukrainian Security Service) formal propagandistic duties and supported the creation of a “Museum of Soviet Occupation” in Kyiv (Jilge, 2008: 174). Yushchenko appointed the young activist Volodymyr V’’iatrovych (b. 1977) director of the SBU archives. V’’iatrovych combined his position as government-appointed memory manager with ultra-nationalist activism; he was simultaneously director of an OUN(b) front organization, the Center for the Study for the Liberation Movement. State institutions disseminated a sanitized, edifyingly patriotic version of the history of the “Ukrainian national liberation movement,” the leaders of which were presented in iconographic form as heroic and saintly figures, martyrs of the nation (Rasevych, 2010; Rudling, 2011c: 26–33, 2012b).

Yushchenko’s mythmaking had two central components. The first was the presentation of the 1932–1933 famine as “the genocide of the Ukrainian nation,” a deliberate attempt to exterminate the Ukrainians which, his myth-makers claimed, resulted in the death of 10 million people in the republic.

The other component was a heroic cult of the OUN(b), the UPA and their leaders. The “memory managers” juxtaposed the genocidal Soviet rule with the self-sacrificial heroism of the OUN-UPA, producing a teleological narrative of suffering (the famine) and resistance (the OUN-UPA) leading to redemption (independence, 1991). Curiously, Yushchenko’s legitimizing historians presented their instrumentalized use of history as “truth,” which they juxtaposed to “Soviet myths.” Wilfried Jilge, a historian at the University of Leipzig, writes that “[i]t takes place by means of discourse, rituals, and symbols and uses the past to provide legitimization and to mobilize the population for political purposes.

. . . A reconstructed historical memory is created as ‘true memory’ and then contrasted with ‘false Soviet history’ ”(Jilge, 2007:104–105). Thus, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, SBU director under Yushchenko, described the task of his agency as being to disseminate “the historical truth of the past of the Ukrainian people,” to “liberate Ukrainian history from lies and falsifications and to work with truthful documents only” (Jilge, 2008:179). Ignoring the OUN’s antisemitism, denying its participation in anti- Jewish violence, and overlooking its fascist ideology, Nalyvaichenko and his agency presented the OUN as democrats, pluralists, even righteous rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust.

The hegemonic nationalist narrative is reflected also in academia, where the line between “legitimate” scholarship and ultra-nationalist propaganda often is blurred. Mainstream bookstores often carry Holocaust denial and antisemitic literature, some of which finds its way into the academic mainstream (Rudling, 2006). So too, for instance, can academic works on World War II by reputable historians integrate the works of Holocaust deniers and cite the former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke as a “expert” on the “Jewish Question.” . . . .

. . . . The culmination of Yushchenko’s Geschichtspolitik was his designation, a few days before leaving office, of Bandera as a hero of Ukraine. Again, there was little protest from intellectuals who identify themselves as liberals. . . . .

. . . . On June 30, 2011, the 70th anniversary of the German invasion and Stetsko’s “renewal of Ukrainian statehood” was re-enacted in Lviv as a popular festival, where parents with small children waved flags to re-enactors in SS uniforms. . . .

. . . . . Ironically, the presentation of the OUN as resistance fighters against Nazi Germany coexists with an elaborate cult of the Waffen SS Galizien (Rudling, 2012a). Lviv streets have been renamed after Nazi collaborators like Roman Shukhevych and Volodymyr Kubijovyc. In the Lviv city hall, Svoboda is currently working to have the Lviv airport renamed after Bandera. Svoboda deputy Iuryi Mykahl’chyshyn stated, “We should have the airport named after Stepan Bandera. I don’t want to point any fingers. . . . But we will have a Bandera airport, a Bandera stadium, and the entire city will be carrying Bandera’s name, because he is its most living symbol”(“U L’vovi budut’ stadion,” 2012). In the fall of 2011, Svoboda deputies in a municipality in the Lviv district renamed a street from the Soviet-era name Peace Street (Vulytsia Myru ) to instead carry the name of the Nachtigall Battalion, a Ukrainian nationalist formation involved in the mass murder of Jews in 1941, arguing that “ ‘Peace’ is a holdover from Soviet stereotypes”(“Vulytsiu myru,” 2011). . . .

. . . . Svoboda’s claims to the OUN legacy are based upon ideological continuity, as well as organization and political culture (Shekhovtsov, 2011b:13–14). Presenting Svoboda as the successor of Dontsov and the OUN, Tiahnybok regards Svoboda as “an Order-party which constitutes the true elite of the nation” (Tiahnybok, 2011). Like those of many other far-right movements, Svoboda’s official policy documents are relatively cautious and differ from its daily activities and internal jargon, which are much more radical and racist (Olszan´ski, 2011). Svoboda subscribes to the OUN tradition of national segregation and demands the re-introduction of the Soviet “nationality” category into Ukrainian passports. “We are not America, a mishmash of all sorts of people,” the Svoboda website states. “The Ukrainian needs to stay Ukrainian, the Pole—Polish, the Gagauz—Gagauz, the Uzbek—Uzbek” (“Hrafa ‘natsional’nost’v pasporti,” 2005). Svoboda’s ultra-nationalism is supplemented with more traditional “white racism” (Shekhovtsov, 2011b: 15). . . . .

. . . . Conspiracy theory is integral to Svoboda Weltanschauung, particularly conspiracies with anti-Semitic undertones. In August 2011, in an apparent attempt to distance themselves from the Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, Svoboda claimed that he was a Jewish Mason (Redkolehiia chaso-pysu “Svoboda,” 2011). In September 2011, Svoboda activists mobilized from several parts of Ukraine to organize rallies against Hasidic pilgrims to Uman.

Following violent clashes, the police detained more than 50 Svoboda activists, armed with gas canisters, smoke bombs and catapults. The Cherkasy branch of Svoboda criticized the police for their alleged failure “to stop and avert aggression by Hasidic Jews to Ukrainians” (“Uman: Righ-twing activists detained,” 2011).Svoboda’s anti-Russian and anti-Jewish rhetoric is accompanied by an anti-Polish message. Svoboda maintains that Poland has played a negative historical role in Ukrainian lands. The party demands an official apology from Poland for five hundred years of Polonization, from the 15th to the 20th centuries, and indemnities for “the Polish terror and occupation of Ukrainian lands in the 20th century” (“Zaiava VO ‘Svoboda’ shchodoproiaviv ukrainofobii,” 2010). Focusing on divisive and sensitive issues, Svoboda provocatively denies any involvement of the Waffen SS Galizien in atrocities against the Polish minority in Galicia. For instance, on the site of Huta Pieniacka, Svoboda has placed a huge billboard denying the conclusion of both Polish and Ukrainian historical commissions that the fourth police regiment, which was later adjoined to the Waffen SS Galizien, burnt this Polish village and slaughtered most of its residents on February 28, 1944. . . .

. . . . Svoboda is a member of the so-called Alliance of European National Movements, a network which includes theBritish National Party, Nationaldemokraterna of Sweden, the Front National in France, Fiamma Tricolore in Italy, the Belgian National Front, and the Hungarian Jobbik (Umland, 2011). This seemingly unlikely cooperation is partly facilitated by a joint fascination with ethnic purity, inspired by Alain de Benoit, the ideologue of the French Nouvelle Droit. De Benoit fears the disappearance of pluralism and the reduction of all cultures into a world civilization and argues that each ethnos should be allowed to develop independently on its given territory, without the admixture of other cultures. Nationaldemokraterna, their Swedish sister party, advocates a form of ethnic segregation, which they refer to as “ethnopluralism” (Dahl, 1999: 68, 136).

Svoboda has opened an office in Toronto, which has been visited by several of its leading figures (“Diial’nist Kanads’koho predstavnytstva ‘Svo-body,’ ” 2009). In Canada, in May 2010, Tiahnybok received the golden cross “for his service to Ukraine” from the Brotherhood of the Veterans of the First Ukrainian Division of the Ukrainian National Army, as the veterans of the Waffen SS Galizien call themselves (“Esesovtsy nagradil lideraukrainskikh natsionalistov,” 2010). Following the conviction and sentencing of the death camp guard John Demjanjuk to five years of jail for his role as an accessory to the murder of 27,900 people at the Sobibór death camp,Tiahnybok traveled to Germany and met up with Demjanjuk’s lawyer, Ulrich Busch, presenting the death camp guard as a hero, a victim of persecution, who is “fighting for truth” (“Oleh Tiahnybok iz dvodennym vizytomvidvidav Nimechynu,” 2010). 10

Tiahnybok’s heroization of the Waffen SS Galizien and other Nazi collaborators is accompanied by ideological claims that the OUN-UPA conducted an anti-Nazi resistance struggle against Hitler.

Yurii Mykhal’chyshyn (b. 1982), Tiahnybok’s adviser on ideological matters, Svoboda’s top name in the election to the Lviv city council and its candidate for mayor in 2010, represents a more radical current in the movement. Proudly confessing himself part of the fascist tradition, Mykhal’chyshyn relishes the harshness, extremism and uncompromising radicalism of his idols of the 1930s and 1940s. Constantly reiterating that “We consider tolerance a crime” and that “We value the truth of the spirit and blood over-all success and wealth” (Nasha Vatra , n.d.), Mykhal’chyshyn takes pride in the label “extremist,” which he proudly shares with “Stepan Bandera,who created an underground terrorist-revolutionary army, the shadow of which still stirs up horrible fear in the hearts of the enemies of our Nation”(Mykhal’chyshyn, “Orientyry”, n.d.). Mykhal’chyshyn serves as a link between VO Svoboda and the so-called autonomous nationalists. Mirroring the “autonomous anarchists” of the extreme left, which they resemble in terms of dress code, lifestyle, aesthetics, symbolism and organization, the “autonomous nationalists” attract particularly militant and extremely violent “event-oriented” young fascists. Mykhal’chyshyn has combined the attributes of various stands of the extra-parliamentary extreme right: Doc Martens shoes, buzz cuts and bomber jackets are in the tradition of the skinheads, while the nightly torchlight parades under black banners with SS symbols resemble the political rituals and Aufmärsche in Nazi Germany. The glorification of street violence is a key component of this political subculture: in an extra session with the Lviv regional Rada in front of the Bandera memorial in Lviv, Mykhal’chyshyn boasted that “Our Banderite army will cross the Dnipro and throw that blue-ass gang, which today usurps the power, out of Ukraine. . . . That will make those Asiatic dogs shut their ugly mouths.”

While hardly a typical man of the belles-lettres , Mykhal’chyshyn, is actually a student of fascism. . . . His interest is not exclusively academic; under the pseudonym Nachtigall 88, Mykhal’chyshyn promotes fascist ideology with the purpose of promoting a fascist transformation of society in Web forums linked to Svoboda and “autonomous nationalists.” In 2005, he organized a political think tank, originally called “the Joseph Goebbels Political Research Center” but later re-named after the German conservative revolutionary Ernst Jünger. (Olszan´ski, 2011).

Explicitly endorsing Hamas, Mykhal’chyshyn regards the Holocaust as “a bright episode in European civilization” which “strongly warms the hearts of the Palestinian population. . . . They hope it will be all repeated” (“Mikhal’chyshyn schitaet Kholokost,” 2011; “Ukrainskii natsist,” 2011).

We recognize the heavy emphasis on heroes and heroism from the narrative of the émigré OUN and from Yushchenko’s legitimizing historians. The difference is that, unlike these two influences, Mykhal’chyshyn does not deny Bandera and Stets’ko’s fascism. On the contrary, their fascist ideology constitutes the basis for his admiration. . . .

. . . . While he is no longer a serious political player, Yushchenko left behind a legacy of myths which helped legitimized Svoboda’s ideology. Svoboda’s appropriation of many rituals in honour of “national heroes” from more moderate nationalists is but one expression of its increased political strength in post-Yushchenko Western Ukraine. . . .

. . . . On April 28, 2011, Svoboda celebrated the 68th anniversary of the establishment of the Waffen SS Galizien. Octogenarian Waffen SS veterans were treated as heroes in a mass rally, organized by Svoboda and the “autonomous nationalists.” Nearly 700 participants (the organizers claimed 2,000) marched down the streets of Lviv, from the massive socialist–realist style Bandera monument, to Prospekt Svobody, the main street, shouting slogans like “One race, one nation, one fatherland!,” . . . .

. . . . The procession was led by Mykhal’chyshyn . . . .

2. Next, the program notes the formation of a 60,000 strong national guard in Ukraine, to be commanded and staffed by  the OUN/B successor organizations Swoboda and Pravy Sektor.

“Ukraine Creates National Guard Ahead of Crimea Vote”; BBC News; 3/13/2014.

Ukraine’s parliament has voted to create a 60,000-strong National Guard to bolster the country’s defences.

The vote came ahead of Sunday’s referendum in Crimea, now controlled by pro-Moscow forces, on whether citizens want to join Russia.

President Vladimir Putin insists Russia is not to blame for the crisis. . . .

. . . . The new National Guard is expected to be recruited from activists involved in the recent pro-Western protests as well as from military academies.

Ukraine’s national security chief Andriy Parubiy [from Swoboda–D.E.] said the Guard would be deployed to “ensure state security, defend the borders, and eliminate terrorist groups”. . . .

3.We conclude with another very important article from German-Foreign-Policy.com, which feeds along the lower right-hand side of the front page of this website. We note a number of important points in this article, including:

Pravy Sektor’s moves to recruit fighters to engage the Russians in combat in the Ukraine; the UNA-UNSO, a Pravy Sektor combat unit that has engaged in combat against Russia in Georgia and Chechnya (they were present in Kiev during the demonstrations against the Yanukovich government); the presence of a jihadist element among the Crimean Tatars; potential Saudi Arabian participation in an anti-Russian military coalition.

“Cold War Images”;” German-Foreign-Policy.com; 3/12/2014.

. . . . The fascist “Pravi Sektor” (“Rightwing Sector”) has announced that it has opened recruiting offices throughout the Ukraine, to recruit volunteers to reconquer the Crimea. They want to mobilize for the case that Russia continues its “aggression” there.[5] “The other side of the coin is war,” according to a quote from one of the leaders of the organization: “We do not rule out this option. Accordingly, we are conducting mobilization and are preparing to repel foreign aggression. If the Kremlin tramples on us further, we will fight and defend our native state until the end.”[6] According to Ukrainian media, the leader of the “Pravi Sektor,” Dmytro Yarosh, announced that his paramilitary association would coordinate its activities with Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council. Yarosch officiates as Vice Secretary of this council under the personal direction of the Ukrainian President. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[7])

 Experienced Militias

The “Pravi Sektor’s” threats of force must be taken all the more seriously, given the fact that, in the past, one of its member organizations, the extremist rightwing UNA-UNSO – founded in 1990 – not only had already intervened in the Crimea but has combat experience. In the spring of 1992, that association staged a demonstration in the Crimea, which dominated headlines throughout the country. This was perceived at the time – shortly following the disintegration of the Soviet Union – as a response to the topical debate, as to whether the allocation of the Crimea to Ukraine in 1954 should be reversed and the Crimea be reattached to Russia. The Crimea remained with Ukraine. UNA-UNSO activists also joined the combat in Georgia in 1993. In 1994, according to one report, the association had a constant exchange with Chechen separatists, at war with Moscow. UNA-UNSO members also practically “participated in Chechnya’s war against Russia.”[8] One of these former UNA-UNSO militiamen was recently spotted at the Western Ukraine protests, when he threatened regional parliamentarians with a kalashnikov. Today he claims he will “fight communists, Jews and Russians for as long as blood flows in my veins.”[9]

 “We are Ready”

Alongside the “Pravi Sektor,” whose ranks have been dramatically reinforced in the course of those protests supported by Berlin, another group drawing attention in the Crimean context are the Crimean Tatars. This 280,000-member Islamic minority also has a Salafist wing, some of whose activists have combat experience from the Syrian conflict. One of the Crimean Tartar leaders was quoted with a prognosis that it should be expected that, at least, a few of those with combat experience will attack the Russian troops in the Crimea in the future. “They say: ‘an enemy has entered our land and we are ready’,” he is quoted saying.[10] Observers point out that, on the one hand, Salafists fighting in Syria, often have the best links to Saudi Arabia and that, on the other, massive protests are now taking place in Saudi Arabia against Russian measures in the Crimea – based on the bogus allegation, Moscow wants to kill the Crimean Tartars. Saudi media propagates that in the Crimean War of the 19th Century, Arab Muslims had also fought the Russians.[11] Riyadh, which is participating in this anti-Moscow media agitation, is one of the West’s – Germany’s as well – closest allies in the Arab world. This dictatorship has already joined forces with Western powers against Moscow – in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Discussion

3 comments for “FTR #781 All’s Well That’s Orwell: The Ministry of Truth and the Ukrainian Crisis (Yuschenko Uber Alles)”

  1. The Maidan is becoming a military recruitment center and it’s not just the military doing the recruiting:

    The Daily Beast
    World News
    03.15.14
    Kiev’s Protestors Put on Uniforms
    Kiev’s Independence Square is becoming a military recruitment center, with activists eagerly enlisting as volunteer soldiers. Anna Nemtsova reports from the scene.
    Anna Nemtsova

    Kiev’s Independence Square – the Maidan so immensely important to the new government here — is changing all the time. And while most of the world’s attention has been focused on Crimea, some of the developments among the crowd in Kiev are decidedly ominous.

    Broadly speaking, the Maidan is turning into a military recruiting center. In two weeks, the new Ukrainian government is determined to mobilize more than 20,000 volunteer soldiers, and the square is a magnet for enthusiastic enlistees.

    The Ukraine mobilization was declared on the stage the Maidan on March 1st, the same day the Russian Parliament voted to authorize cross-border military action, giving president Vladimir Putin carte blanche for the possible invasion of Ukraine. Since then most former activists among the protestors, now turned volunteer soldiers, both male and female, have put on full camouflage uniforms and attend military training outside of Kiev.

    But there are also men in black – precisely the kind of people Moscow gleefully brands as fascists to terrify the ethnic Russian populations of Crimea and in the east of the country. Members of the Right Sector nationalist paramilitary group have occupied three buildings around the Maidan square over the last few days. New recruits for their forces lined up outside the former office of Kiev Star, a cell phone company and militia activists carried bags full of weapons into the guarded door. The Dnipro Hotel is with the Right Sector’s men dressed like down-market storm troopers.

    The movement’s leader, Dmitro Yarosh, has also changed into black. A Russian court recently accused him of extremism and long-term involvement with the Chechen Islamist underground. Yarosh said in a recent interview he predicted “the nationalist revolution” many years ago. He defined his main enemies as the Russian Federation and the Russian Orthodox Church.

    Many supporters of the Maidan disapprove of the Right Sector’s political game, as it was not just Right Sector, and the Sova Center of Information and Analyses, an independent organization monitoring racism and xenophobia, confirms their core complaint. “Right Sector members were involved in racist attacks and attacks on their opponent,” says Sova’s head, Aleksander Verkhovsky.

    If you listen to Yarosh, you’d think that the scores of people killed in the Maidan uprising last month were all his men. In fact, most of the people slaughtered at Kiev’s barricades were ordinary citizens. But the violence and unrest have played into the Right Sector’s hands. At this chaotic and perilous moment, Ukrainians are willing to accept such organized protection as they can find. “Yarosh and Right Sector provide my own security,” says Natalya Isupova, the mother of four children, who lives in an apartment near the square.

    Violence has not left the Maidan altogether. On several occasions drunk or frustrated campers loosed a few rounds from their guns and blew up fireworks in the middle of the night. “Once, they wounded a suspicious character and another time there was a conflict between Right Sector and self-defense forces that led to shootings,” Pavlenko said.

    But the campers consider those exchanges of gunfire “minor accidents” compared to the real challenges: the war threat and responsibility of trying to guide the new national leadership.

    “In fact, there is no law enforcement organ today that could control life on the Maidan,” says retired Major General Petro Garashuk, now advising the parliament on military reforms. “The parliament cannot take control of the Maidan, it is the Maidan that controls our new leaders; in case they disappoint people, there will be a new revolution,” Garashuk said.

    Just recently, most volunteer soldiers of the so-called Defense Army of the Maidan were immature street fighters armed with Molotov cocktails and plywood shields against Ukrainian state police forces. Since last November, when police beat the first pro-European Union protestors on the Maidan, the campers have survived bitter winds, rains, snow, freezing winter, police attacks and sniper bullets. They never really had time to celebrate what they considered their victory – the day president Victor Yanukovych fled the country. Bad news continued to rain down: earlier this week, one of the Maidan activists was killed by pro-Russian protesters in Donetsk, and several activists vanished or were arrested in Crimea.

    Volunteer psychologists, aware of increasing depression on the Maidan, are trying to provide first aid for campers in the heart of Kiev, as well as for the first refugees arriving from Crimea. Instead of medicine, doctors prefer to treat their patients with a comforting chat in relaxing atmosphere. Specialists also encourage the Maidan’s defenders to have more romance, and that notion seems to be catching on. With spring coming to the Maidan, the crisis center at the Ukrainian House, a block away from the square, recently celebrated three weddings for the self-defense forces.

    Yelena Fomina provides free psychological help at an improvised office occupying a former McDonalds ron the corner of the Maidan. This week was especially difficult emotionally, Fomina told The Daily Beast. Specialists had to deal with a new wave of psychological traumas linked to the Crimea referendum and Russian threats: the conflict has came to almost every family in Ukraine, splitting relatives into pro-Russian and anti-Russian camps. “Talking about their love for Ukraine, their devotion to this land, to their country, helps better than any medicine,” Fomina said.

    As the article points out, one of the characteristics of the revolution in Ukraine is that the protestors haven’t really had a chance to celebrate and psychologically unwind. The very act that catalyzed the protest, the mystery sniper massacre on the Maidan, was also a horrible tragedy for for the protestors that took the brunt of the volience. And any euphoria in the victory that followed – President Yanukovich fleeing Kiev – was almost immediately swept away by the immiment conflicts in the East and Crimea. It’s one reason why the depression settling into the Maidan is so depressing: it’s self-reinforcing depression. The less hope there is for a Ukrainian society that’s moved past that sad state of ethnic division the greater the incentive to embrace the far right and create ethnically divided states.

    Financial Times
    March 16, 2014 7:00 pm
    Russian-speaking activists demand their own referendums

    By Jan Cienski in Donetsk

    Demonstrations broke out in cities across eastern Ukraine on Sunday, with thousands of protesters demanding the right to hold referendums on their future status, taking a cue from the Russian-controlled vote in Crimea.

    “Crimea was able to vote to join Russia and we want to be able to do the same,” said Svetlana Zemlyanskaya, a university lecturer, as about 3,000 people waved Russian flags and chanted their support of Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president. “The Russian army is helping the people in Crimea conduct the referendum there, and we want them here to help us do the same. They need to be here to protect us from the fascist government in Kiev.”

    With Russia cementing its control over Crimea, the stand-off between Moscow and Kiev is shifting to the largely Russian speaking cities of eastern Ukraine. Russian forces have been holding manoeuvres near Ukraine’s eastern border, while Ukrainian media have shown the Ukrainian army positioning troops near the frontier.

    Donetsk, Ukraine’s coal and steel capital, has seen weeks of pro-Moscow demonstrations. The protests turned deadly late last week, when a group of pro-Russian demonstrators attacked people showing their support for the Kiev government. One protester, a member of the nationalist Svoboda party, was stabbed to death.

    Karkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, also saw deadly violence on Friday, with two pro-Moscow demonstrators killed during a stand-off with activists from the nationalist Right Sector movement.

    On Sunday, pro-Russian demonstrators marched down Donetsk’s main street, then stormed the prosecutor’s office, tearing down the Ukrainian flag from the building and replacing it with Russian flags to cheers of “Donetsk is a Russian city” from the crowd. Protesters then attacked the office of Serhiy Taruta, the millionaire recently appointed the region’s governor by the new government in Kiev.

    In Kharkiv, demonstrators gathered outside the Russian consulate, calling for Russian intervention, while in Luhansk pro-Moscow groups staged their own unofficial referendum.

    Ukraine’s SBU security service also reported that it had arrested a group of people in Zaporizhia, seizing firearms and explosives the agency said were going to be used to destabilise the situation in the region.

    Although the protests have been occasionally violent, they have only succeeded in attracting relatively small numbers. In Donetsk, a city of 1m, the prediction had been for a crowd of tens of thousands on Sunday. The demonstration in Kharkiv was also only about 3,000 strong, according to local media.

    Those taking part in the marches are largely older people, many of them nostalgic for the days of the Soviet Union, bolstered by a strong contingent of burly young men wearing black jackets and sporting knitted caps.

    Although the Russian government and media point to the danger faced by the region’s Russian speaking population at the hands of the new Kiev government, almost all the violence in recent weeks has been directed at demonstrators showing their allegiance to Ukraine.

    Middle class and younger people, who have spent two decades in independent Ukraine, tend to be warier of the demonstrations, even if they have mixed feelings about the new administration in Kiev.

    “We don’’t feel any danger here at all,” said Tatiana, a Russian speaker sitting in an upmarket coffee shop with her husband and two young daughters not far from the demonstration. “The only thing we really are afraid of is a Russian occupation. My aunt calls me all the time from Rostov [a nearby Russian city] asking if we have enough to eat and if there is blood on the streets. They’ve been completely brainwashed – we don’t need saving from anyone.”

    Asked to give their last name, her husband Alexander demurred. “We have to be careful, there’s no way of knowing how all this will end.”

    It’s increasingly looking like we once again are seeing a revolution that was initially rooted in the spirit of “a pox on all houses, end the corruption” successfully get hijacked by the far right. Fortunately, the bulk of the populace still appears to largely reject the horrible worldviews of groups like Svoboda and Right Sektor. But insecurity has always been one of the best of friends of the far right. So the formation of far right militias in Kiev combined with the situation in Crimea and the separatism in the East (that one would expect in response to the sudden rise of Svoboda and Right Sektor), it’s looking like the far right in Ukraine has fewer and fewer reasons to be feeling down. And that’s pretty depressing.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 16, 2014, 3:17 pm
  2. Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 16, 2014, 3:48 pm
  3. It’s always interesting to see which types of expenditures induce elite sticker shock:

    The Atlantic
    America Is Too Broke to Rescue Ukraine
    The real contest between Russia and the West involves economics, not military might.
    Peter Beinart Mar 17 2014, 3:47 PM ET

    If only America were fighting more wars, Russia would never have taken Crimea. That’s basically the argument John McCain made last Friday in The New York Times. “For five years,” he complained, “Americans have been told that ‘the tide of war is receding’.… In Afghanistan and Iraq, military decisions have appeared driven more by a desire to withdraw than to succeed.” As a result, “Obama has made America look weak,” which emboldened Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine.

    I have no earthly idea what McCain means by ‘succeeding’ in Afghanistan and Iraq, but we can be pretty sure that in addition to claiming more American lives, it would require a lot more American money. Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a 2013 report by Linda Bilmes, a public policy lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, are the most expensive wars in U.S. history, costing the U.S. between $4 and $6 trillion when you factor in medical care. For Ukraine’s sake, McCain believes, that number needs to go up.

    There’s an irony here. If America and Europe have failed to adequately defend Ukraine, it’s not for lack of guns. It’s for lack of money. Over the last year, the real contest between Russia and the West hasn’t been a military one (after all, even McCain knows that risking war over Ukraine is insane). It’s been economic. In part because of two wars that have drained America’s coffers, and in part because of a financial crisis that has weakened the West economically, the United States and Europe have been dramatically outbid.

    The current Ukrainian crisis has its roots in Vladimir Putin’s desire to build a “Eurasian Union”—an economic zone comprising as many former Soviet republics as possible—that re-establishes Russian regional dominance. Putin badly wants Ukraine to join the bloc. But that desire has collided with the European Union’s bid to get Ukraine to sign a free-trade agreement linking it to the West. (EU rules, perhaps unwisely, made doing both impossible).

    Last March, then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych pledged to work toward an EU agreement. Then, in mid-November, he abruptly stopped doing so, sparking the pro-European protests that eventually toppled him. For Yanukovych, the EU deal—although popular with the Ukrainian public—carried serious risks. For starters, it would have infuriated Putin. Secondly, it would have required him to release his jailed political foe, Yulia Tymoshenko. Thirdly, bringing Ukraine into compliance with EU regulations would have proved costly. As part of the negotiation, Yanukovych asked for €20 billion in aid. But the EU, struggling with its own severe economic woes, offered less than one-thirtieth that amount: a mere €610 million. The United States, which now speaks gravely about defending Ukraine from Russian aggression, at the time gave Kiev barely any foreign assistance at all.

    Then, in mid-December, Russia made its own offer. It pledged to buy $15 billion worth of Ukrainian debt and to discount the price of Russian gas sold to Ukraine by one-third, which amounted to another $7 billion in savings. This money, Putin added, would not entail any “increase, decrease, or freezing of any social standards, pensions, subsidies, or salaries”—a swipe at the IMF-imposed austerity measures that would likely have accompanied an EU deal.

    While this gap between Russia’s massive offer and the West’s meager one helped keep Yanukovych in Moscow’s orbit, it didn’t keep him in power. In late February, he lost control of Kiev to a surging protest movement and fled the country—giving America and Europe yet another chance to devise economic incentives that could point Ukraine in a pro-Western direction.

    But yet again, the West’s response has been underwhelming. After Russia seized Crimea last month, the EU belatedly raised its offer to $11 billion in a bid to stabilize Ukraine’s weak, post-Yanukovych government. But the package will release only $1.6 billion in the first year, and even that money depends on an IMF deal that would likely require Kiev’s new leaders to take wildly unpopular steps like raising home-heating bills. For its part, Washington has pledged loan guarantees worth $1 billion. But that assistance is now stalled in the Senate, where Democrats are linking it to IMF reforms and Republicans, if you believe Harry Reid, are using it to stop new IRS rules that would limit the political activities of nonprofits like those funded by the Koch brothers. The West may no longer be in a bidding war with Putin, who is more interested in destabilizing Ukraine’s new government than wooing it. But countering Putin’s efforts requires helping Ukraine secure itself economically. And so far, the West’s attempts don’t nearly accomplish that.

    We’re long past the era when America and its allies can spend vast sums to promote Western ideals and interests around the world. Except, of course, in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the U.S. is on pace to spend the equivalent of eight or nine Marshall Plans. Too bad we haven’t spent more on those wars. According to John McCain, the extra money just might have saved Ukraine.

    Given how miniscule $15 billion (or even $50 billion) is when you’re looking at the combined budgets of the NATO allies, it’s pretty hard to hard argue that the West can’t actually afford to offer Ukraine more. No. It’s about doing the right thing.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 18, 2014, 7:21 am

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