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For The Record  

FTR #849 Walkin’ the Snake in Ukraine, Part 6

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Introduction: The title of the program refers–once again–to the Nazi tract Serpent’s Walk.

In that book, the SS go underground in the aftermath of World War II, build up their economic muscle, buy into the opinion-forming media, infiltrate the American military, and–following a series of terrorist incidents in the U.S. which cause the declaration of martial law–take over the United States.

Central to this takeover is the use of the Nazi-controlled mainstream media to fundamentally revise history in a pro-Hitler fashion. Just such a revision is underway in Ukraine, with the heirs to the Third Reich-allied OUN/B characterized as “good guys” who share our values.

Fundamental to the points of argument presented here is the censorship of media both in Ukraine and around the world, including the U.S.

A new law passed by the Rada (the Ukrainian parliament) bestows entitlements on surviving members of the OUN and its military wing, the UPA. Furthermore, the law makes it illegal to criticize those Third Reich allies for their activities on behalf of Nazi Germany–it is those activities that constituted Ukraine’s first drive for “independence.”

The Ukrainian Weekly–formerly edited by Michael Borciukiw (who heads the OSCE’s Special Study Mission to Ukraine)–is attacking artists and other public figures who are not supportive of the OUN/B heirs in Ukraine. “Buoyed by this suc­cess, the Ukrain­ian Weekly now has its sights set on two other West­ern con­cert per­form­ers deemed overly sym­pa­thetic to Rus­sia. The ground war in Ukraine sput­ters on. The ide­o­log­i­cal purges here [in Canada] are just begin­ning.

The Canadian government and higher educational institutions in that country are actively assisting the political rehabilitation of the 14th Waffen SS Division, reinventing them as “Freedom Fighters.”

Stephan Bandera, head of the OUN/B

Helmets of the Ukrainian Azov battalion, from a Norwegian TV documentary , as shown on German TV.

In past discussion of Ukraine, we have noted not only the Orwellian nature of U.S. media coverage of the crisis, but the manifestation of the Serpent’s Walk scenario. Documented World War II history about the Eastern front and Ukrainian (and other Eastern European ethnic) SS units and their role fighting for the Third Reich and participating in Nazi atrocities is now being written off as “Russian/Kremlin propaganda.”

Furthermore, anyone who dares to discuss this and its relevance to the OUN/B heirs installed by the Maidan coup is labeled as, at best, a “dupe” or, at worst, an agent of an enemy propaganda machine.

Now, things have disintegrated still further. There is a cyber warfare/cyber propaganda offensive underway by Ukraine and its NATO allies, apparently being spearheaded by a U.S. Special Forces and cyber-warfare vet named Joel Harding.

Tragically, Harding seems to have had a pretty realistic grasp of American political and rhetorical reality (see below) as recently as 2012, if we can judge by his pronouncements. Now, however, he castigates critics of U.S. and Western support for the OUN/B heirs dominating Ukraine in the strongest terms.

We also wonder if recent difficulties experienced by Robert Parry’s Consortium News website have anything to do with the substance of George Eliason’s allegations? We have used numerous articles from that website on the subject of Ukraine.

In that same vein, a frightening article in The Nation discusses the development of a neo-McCarthyism in American journalism as a result of the coverage of the Ukraine crisis. Will be accompanied by actual physical violence against critics of U.S. and Western Ukraine policy?

Exemplifying the Serpent’s Walk scenario vis a vis Ukraine is one Vita Zaverukha.

Vita Zaverukha

The Western media’s orgiastic fawning over the fascists who have been installed in Ukraine is reaching new heights, or depths, depending on one’s perspective. Seeking to mint heroes (and heroines) from the ranks of the OUN/B heirs governing Ukraine, the French edition of Elle magazine anointed one Vita Zaverukha as Ukraine’s version of Joan of Arc. One of the combatants grouped in the “punisher battalions,” Zaverukha is actually a Nazi, recently arrested for her role in robbing a gas station, a crime in which two Ukrainian policemen were killed.

The other members of the gang to which Zaverukha belongs are also members of Nazi punisher battalions.

Zaverukha’s status as a “heroine” impeded her arrest, despite the fact that she and her Nazi comrades had “long terrorized the city [Kiev–capital of Ukraine].” She also appears to have been one of the participants in the attack on The Odessa House of Trade Unions, in which 46 people were burned alive, while “Sveta” (as she calls herself) and her Nazi comrades voiced celebratory chants.

It is impossible within the scope of this post to cover our voluminous coverage of the Ukraine crisis. Previous programs on the subject are: FTR #‘s 777778779780781782, 783784794800803804, 808811817818824826829832833837.

Program Highlights Include: 

  • Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum has proposed eliminating anonymity with regard to internet comments as a result of “Russian trolls.”
  • Analysis by Robert Parry of an Australian “documentary” that purports to show that Russian-backed separatists shot down MH 17, using obviously doctored information.
  • Canadian government and educational institutions supporting the political rehabilitation of the 14th Waffen SS Division.

1. In Canada, governmental and higher educational institutions are assisting the resuscitation of the 14th Waffen SS Division into “freedom fighters.”

The Waffen-SS as Free­dom Fight­ers” by Per Anders Rudling; The Alge­meiner; 1/31/2012.

. . . . Out­side of Europe, Waf­fen–SS vet­er­ans have been more suc­cess­ful in gain­ing accep­tance for their own nar­ra­tive. In Canada, gov­ern­ment author­i­ties, in the name of mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism have agreed to share the con­struc­tion cost for mon­u­ments with the asso­ci­a­tion of the Ukrain­ian vet­er­ans of the 14th Waf­fen Grenadier Divi­sion of the SS (1st Ukrain­ian), bet­ter known at the Waf­fen–SS Gal­izien. Pub­lic insti­tu­tions of higher edu­ca­tion insti­tute endow­ments in the honor of Ukrain­ian Waf­fen–SS vol­un­teers. [!] . . .

2. A new law passed by the Rada (the Ukrainian parliament) bestows entitlements on surviving members of the OUN and its military wing, the UPA. Furthermore, the law makes it illegal to criticize those Third Reich allies in their activities on behalf of Nazi Germany–it is those activities that constituted Ukraine’s drive for “independence.”

“Rada Rec­og­nizes OUN and UPA Mem­bers as Fight­ers for Inde­pen­dence of Ukraine”; Zik.ua; 4/9/2015.

“The state acknowl­edges that the fight­ers for Ukraine’s inde­pen­dence played an impor­tant role in rein­stat­ing the country’s state­hood declared on Aug. 24, 1991,” the law runs.

In com­pli­ance with the law, the gov­ern­ment will pro­vide social guar­an­tees and bestow hon­ors on OUN-UPA fighters.

“Pub­lic denun­ci­a­tion of the role of OUN-UPA in restor­ing the inde­pen­dence of Ukraine is ille­gal,” the law says.

3. More about the new law in Ukraine aimed at eliminating references to Ukraine’s Soviet past appears poised to censor criticism of the OUN/B and its military wing the UPA.

“Will Ukraine’s New Anti-Communist Law Usher in a Free Speech Dark Age?” by Alec Luhn; The Nation; 4/13/2015.

. . . . “Even if the state won’t be inter­ested in per­se­cut­ing Ukraine’s mar­ginal, weak left­ist orga­ni­za­tions, the far right will likely use this law … to harass politi­cians and also schol­ars on the basis that they are not crit­i­cal enough of the Soviet Union or are over-critical of Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists,” Volodymyr Ishchenko, deputy direc­tor of the Cen­ter for Social and Labor Research and a mem­ber of the edi­to­r­ial board of the pro­gres­sive jour­nal Com­mons, told The Nation.

Mean­while, another law passed last Thurs­day rec­og­nizes as inde­pen­dence fight­ers a con­tro­ver­sial nation­al­ist group accused of eth­nic cleans­ing and col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Nazis.

The new laws would likely tap into wide­spread anger with Rus­sia, which has backed a sep­a­ratist cam­paign in east­ern Ukraine. But they would also fur­ther pro­voke ten­sions within Ukrain­ian soci­ety, which has been frac­tured by a pro-Russian sep­a­ratist cam­paign that enjoys pop­u­lar sup­port in east­ern Ukraine. A peace plan spon­sored by France, Ger­many, Ukraine and Rus­sia fore­sees con­sti­tu­tional reforms giv­ing the rebel-controlled areas of east­ern Ukraine greater autonomy.

The anti-totalitarian law is less wide-reaching than a bill intro­duced last year that pro­posed ban­ning “com­mu­nist ide­ol­ogy,” and it’s hard to dis­agree with its con­dem­na­tion of the repres­sions con­ducted under the Soviet regime. But it also would give the author­i­ties the power to shut down any orga­ni­za­tion that makes even oblique ref­er­ence to the com­mu­nist tradition. . . .

 

“The leg­is­la­tion bans cita­tions of Lenin, which means that we’ll need to destroy half of our aca­d­e­mic works, it bans all com­mu­nist sym­bols, which means a war vet­eran will for­bid­den from wear­ing the Red Star medal he shed his blood for,” said Pyotr Simo­nenko, the leader of Ukraine’s com­mu­nist party, which will have to change its name. “All this is a path to an even big­ger schism in Ukrain­ian soci­ety and a con­tin­u­a­tion of war.”

Even though the Ukrain­ian group Left Oppo­si­tion has crit­i­cized the com­mu­nist party for its defense of Vladimir Putin’s “con­ser­v­a­tive and impe­ri­al­is­tic poli­cies,” it also con­demned the law, not­ing that it had been found to be overly harsh by the Ukrain­ian parliament’s own research depart­ment. In an analy­sis, the group argued that since the law for­bids not only pro­pa­ganda but also “infor­ma­tion jus­ti­fy­ing the crim­i­nal char­ac­ter of the com­mu­nist regime,” almost any­one can be accused.

“This doc­u­ment will strike a blow to aca­d­e­mic dis­cus­sions, cre­ate an instru­ment for repres­sion, and hin­der the strug­gle against oli­garchy and the cre­ation of a real left alter­na­tive,” it wrote.

Bill spon­sor Yury Lut­senko, a for­mer inter­nal affairs min­is­ter who was impris­oned under for­mer pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, argued that the leg­is­la­tion “doesn’t ban ide­ol­ogy, because that’s not accept­able in any demo­c­ra­tic country.”

“This leg­is­la­tion bans a total­i­tar­ian regime under what­ever col­ors it uses, fas­cist, com­mu­nist, any oth­ers,” he told journalists.

But the law is not so much anti-totalitarian as it is anti-Russian, and its con­tent dwells more on com­mu­nism than Nazism. Its spon­sors point­edly pushed it through before the cel­e­bra­tion on May 9 of the defeat of Nazi Ger­many. The St. George rib­bon com­mem­o­rat­ing the Soviet vic­tory has become a de-facto sym­bol for the pro-Russian cam­paign in east­ern Ukraine, which the Krem­lin and the rebels have described as a sim­i­lar strug­gle against fascism.

Other east­ern bloc coun­tries that left Russia’s orbit after the breakup of the Soviet Union, in par­tic­u­lar Poland and the Baltics, passed sim­i­lar anti-communist laws. But Ishchenko, who is work­ing on an analy­sis of these laws, said the Ukrain­ian leg­is­la­tion is “far more repres­sive than laws in other Euro­pean coun­tries.” In par­tic­u­lar, he said it lim­its aca­d­e­mic research by stip­u­lat­ing that you can cite sym­bols or pro­pa­ganda of a com­mu­nist regime only if you’re not legit­imiz­ing it.

The leg­is­la­tion could also encour­age far-right groups in their con­flicts with left­ist activists. . . .

 

. . . . Per­versely, the anti-totalitarian law report­edly soft­ens reg­u­la­tions on pro-Nazi speech in one case: A sec­tion of arti­cle 436 of the crim­i­nal cade, which for­bids “deny­ing or jus­ti­fy­ing” the crimes of fas­cism, the Waffen-SS or those who “coop­er­ated with the fas­cist occu­pants,” has been removed, leav­ing only a ban on using “sym­bols of the Nazi total­i­tar­ian regime.”

While it’s not clear why this arti­cle was changed, it could be seen to ben­e­fit some nation­al­ist orga­ni­za­tions. Notably, the pro-Kiev Azov vol­un­teer bat­tal­ion fight­ing in east­ern Ukraine, many of whose mem­bers have expressed neo-Nazi views, uses the wolf­san­gel sym­bol that was also employed by a Waffen-SS tank divi­sion. And one of the trou­bling lega­cies of today’s Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists is that mem­bers of the Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army, their ide­o­log­i­cal pre­de­ces­sor, have been accused of col­lab­o­rat­ing with the Nazis.

Another law passed last Thurs­day declared fight­ers of the Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army and oth­ers to be “mem­bers of the strug­gle for Ukraine’s inde­pen­dence.” While the law would mainly enti­tle nation­al­ist fight­ers to more gov­ern­ment ben­e­fits, it also helps more firmly estab­lish their rep­u­ta­tion as heroes of the state, despite the fact that nation­al­ists also report­edly orches­trated eth­nic cleans­ing that killed thou­sands of Poles and Jews dur­ing the war years.

David Marples, a his­tory pro­fes­sor spe­cial­iz­ing in Rus­sia, Belarus and Ukraine at the Uni­ver­sity of Alberta, called the law a “crude dis­tor­tion of the past” that lumps con­tro­ver­sial nation­al­ist orga­ni­za­tions like the UPA together with less ruth­less ones, lend­ing cre­dence to Krem­lin claims that the Kiev gov­ern­ment is run by nationalists.

“Pre­sum­ably now his­to­ri­ans can be arrested for deny­ing the hero­ism of [nation­al­ist] Stepan Ban­dera or the father of the intro­ducer of the bill, [UPA leader] Roman Shukheyvch,” Marples wrote in a blog post. “Russ­ian trolls oper­at­ing on social net­works, very promi­nently fea­tured in West­ern media over the past week, have now acquired new and authen­tic ammu­ni­tion for their ver­bal arsenals.” . . . .

4. Next, the program presents analysis by Robert Parry of an Australian “documentary” that purports to show that Russian-backed separatists shot down MH 17, using obviously doctored information.

“A Reckless ‘Stand-Upper’ on MH17” by Robert Parry; Consortium News; 5/28/2015.

Exclusive: Australia’s “60 Minutes” claimed to do an investigative report proving the anti-aircraft battery that shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 last July fled into Russia and pinning the atrocity on Russian President Putin. But the news show did a meaningless “stand-upper,” not an investigation, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

In TV journalism, there’s a difference between doing a “stand-upper” and doing an investigative report, although apparently Australia’s “60 Minutes” doesn’t understand the distinction. A “stand-upper” is the TV practice of rushing a correspondent to a scene to read some prepared script or state some preordained conclusion. An investigation calls for checking out facts and testing out assumptions.

That investigative component is especially important if you’re preparing to accuse someone of a heinous crime, say, mass murder, even if the accused is a demonized figure like Russian President Vladimir Putin. Such charges should not be cast about casually. Indeed, it is the job of journalists to show skepticism in the face of these sorts of accusations. In the case of Russia, there’s the other possible complication that biased journalism and over-the-top propaganda could contribute to a nuclear showdown.

We are still living with the catastrophe of the mainstream media going with the flow of false claims about Saddam Hussein and Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Now many of the same media outlets are parroting similar propaganda aimed at Russia without demonstrating independence and asking tough questions – although the consequences now could be even more catastrophic.

That is the context of my criticism of Australia’s “60 Minutes” handling of the key video evidence supposedly implicating Russia and Putin in the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine. It is apparent from the show’s original, much-hyped presentation and a three-minute-plus follow-up that the show and its correspondent Michael Usher failed to check out the facts surrounding an amateur video allegedly showing a BUK anti-aircraft missile battery – missing one missile – after the MH-17 shoot-down.

In the days following that tragedy, killing 298 people, Ukrainian government officials promoted the video on social media as supposedly showing the BUK battery making its getaway past a billboard in Krasnodon, a town southeast of Luhansk, allegedly en route toward Russia. That claim primarily came from Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, considered one of the regime’s most right-wing figures who rose to power after a U.S.-back coup in February 2014.

From a journalistic standpoint, Avakov and the other Kiev authorities should have been considered biased observers. Indeed, they were among the possible suspects for the shoot-down. Moreover, the Russian government placed the video’s billboard in the town of Krasnoarmiis’k, northwest of Donetsk and then under Ukrainian government control. To support that claim, the Russians cited a local address on the billboard. . .

. . . .In the initial program, you see the “60 Minutes” team doing exactly that on some videos of lesser significance by superimposing some of its own shots over amateur footage. However, when it came to the key piece of evidence – the “getaway” video – the program deviated from that pattern. Instead of matching anything up, Usher just did a “stand-upper” in front of one of the billboards.

Usher boldly accused the Russians of lying about the location of the billboard and asserted that he and his team had found the real location. Usher gestured to the billboards on the intersection in rebel-controlled Luhansk. He then accused Putin of responsibility for the 298 deaths.

But none of Usher’s images matched up with the “getaway” video. The scene in the video was clearly different from the scene shown by Usher. After several people sent me the segment on Australia’s “60 Minutes,” I watched it and wrote an article noting the obvious problems in the scene as presented.

My point was not to say where the video was shot. As far as I know, it might even have been shot in Luhansk. My point was that Usher and his team had failed to do their investigative duty to verify the location as precisely as possible. Under principles of English-based law — and of Western journalism — there is a presumption of innocence until sufficiently corroborated evidence is presented. The burden of proof rests on the prosecutors or, in this case, the journalists. It’s not enough to guess at these things.

But Usher and his team treated their job like they were just doing a “stand-upper” – putting Usher in front of some billboards in Luhansk to deliver his conclusions (or those of Higgins) – not as an investigative assignment, which would have skeptically examined the assumptions behind citing that location as the scene in the video.

Usher offered no details about how he and his team had reached their conclusion on where the video was shot beyond referencing their meetings with blogger Higgins, who operates out of a house in Leicester, England.

Though there was no dispute that the images of the “getaway” video and Usher’s “stand-upper” didn’t match, an irate “60 Minutes” producer released a statement denouncing me and defending the show. The statement did, however, acknowledge that the team had not tried to replicate the scene in the “getaway” video, saying:

“We opted to do our piece to camera as a wide shot showing the whole road system so the audience could get the layout and see which way the Buk was heading. The background in our piece to camera looks different to the original Buk video simply because it was shot from a different angle. The original video was obviously shot from one of the apartments behind, through the trees — which in in summer were in full leaf.”

Those claims, however, were more excuses than real arguments. The wide shot did nothing to help Australian viewers get a meaningful sense of the “layout” in Luhansk. There was also no map or other graphic that could have shown where the apartments were and how that would have explained the dramatic discrepancies between the “getaway” video and the “wide shot.”

After the public statement, there were other rumblings that I would be further put down in a follow-up that “60 Minutes” was preparing. I thought the update might present out-takes of the crew seeking access to the apartments or at least lining up a shot from that angle as best they could – you know, investigative stuff.

Instead, when the update aired, it consisted of more insults – references to “Kremlin stooges” and “Russian puppets” – and a reprise of earlier parts of the program that I had not disputed. When the update finally got to the key “getaway” scene, Usher went into full bluster mode but again failed to present any serious evidence that his crew had matched up anything from the original video to what was found in Luhansk.

First, Usher pulled a sleight of hand by showing a traffic-camera shot of the intersection apparently supplied by Higgins and then matching up those landmarks to show that the crew had found the same intersection. But that is irrelevant to the question of whether the “getaway” video was taken in that intersection. In other words, Usher was trying to fool his audience by mixing together two different issues.

Sure, Usher and his team had found the intersection picked out by Higgins as the possible scene, but so what? The challenge was to match up landmarks from the “getaway” video to that intersection. On that point, Usher cited only one item, a non-descript utility pole that Usher claimed looked like a utility pole in the “getaway” video.

However, the problems with that claim were multiple. First, utility poles tend to look alike and these two appear to have some differences though it’s hard to tell from the grainy “getaway” video. But what’s not hard to tell is that the surroundings are almost entirely different. The pole in the “getaway” video has a great deal of vegetation to its right while Usher’s pole doesn’t.

And then there’s the case of the missing house. The one notable landmark in that section of the “getaway” video is a house to the pole’s left. That house does not appear in Usher’s video, although “60 Minutes” partially obscured the spot where the house should be by inserting an inset, thus adding to a viewer’s confusion.

Yet, one has to think that if Usher’s crew had found the house – or for that matter, anything besides a utility pole that looked like something from the video – they would have highlighted it.

Some of the show’s defenders are now saying that the pole was shot from a different angle, too, so it’s not fair for me to say it doesn’t line up. But, again, that’s not the point. It’s “60 Minutes” that is making an accusation of mass murder, so it has the responsibility to present meaningful evidence to support that charge. It can’t start whining because someone notes that its evidence is faulty or non-existent.

So, here’s the problem: As angry as “60 Minutes” is with me for noting the flaws in its report, it was Usher’s job to check out whether the “getaway” video matched with the intersection identified by Higgins as the possible scene in Luhansk. Based on what was shown in the first show and then in the update, Usher’s team failed miserably. . . .

5. The Western media’s orgiastic fawning over the fascists who have been installed in Ukraine is reaching new heights, or depths, depending on one’s perspective. Seeking to mint heroes (and heroines) from the ranks of the OUN/B heirs governing Ukraine, the French edition of “Elle” magazine anointed one Vita Zaverukha as Ukraine’s version of Joan of Arc. One of the combatants grouped in the “punisher battalions,” Zaverukha is actually a Nazi, recently arrested for her role in robbing a gas station, a crime in which two Ukrainian policemen were killed.

The other members of the gang to which Zaverukha belongs are also members of Nazi punisher battalions.

Zaverukha’s status as a “heroine” impeded her arrest, despite the fact that she and her Nazi comrades had “long terrorized the city [Kiev–capital of Ukraine].” She also appears to have been one of the participants in the attack on The Odessa House of Trade Unions, in which 46 people were burned alive, while “Sveta” (as she calls herself) and her Nazi comrades voiced celebratory chants.

They just aren’t making those saints like they used to.

This brings to mind Gandhi’s response when he was asked what he thought of Western civilization: “I think it would be a good idea.”

Good grief, Charley Brown!

“Teenage Girl Sol­dier Hailed as Ukraine’s ‘Joan of Arc’ by Elle Mag­a­zine Is Revealed as Neo-Nazi and Is Arrested over Cop Killing” by Will Stew­art and Flora DruryDaily Mail; 5/08/2015.

A neo-Nazi por­trayed as Ukraine’s ver­sion of Joan of Arc by French fash­ion mag­a­zine Elle for her ‘brave’ fight against the Russ­ian sep­a­ratists has been arrested in con­nec­tion with the deaths of two policemen.Vita Zaverukha was taken into cus­tody after two offi­cers were killed and three more injured on May 4, fol­low­ing a gang’s failed attempt to rob a petrol sta­tion in the cap­i­tal Kiev.

The gang, who all have links to the far-right in Ukraine, and allegedly were involved in a shoot out as they tried to flee the scene.

At first glance, it seems shock­ing that this slight, blonde teenager could be involved at all.

But Vita, 19, is charged with ‘an attempt on an offi­cer of the law’, reported news out­lets in Moscow — and a quick search reveals she is an active pro­moter and sup­porter of vile neo-Nazi ideals.

What’s more, she is also sus­pected of being linked to an attack on a traf­fic police post in Bykovnya two days before­hand, and it is also claimed she par­tic­i­pated in bloody attacks on the Odessa House of Trade Unions in May last year in which 46 per­ished and 200 were injured.

Yet just six months ago, Elle magazine’s French edi­tion was por­tray­ing her as a Joan of Arc-type fig­ure, bravely defend­ing her home from Russ­ian sep­a­ratists — taken in, it seems, by her inno­cent appearance.

But the magazine’s mis­take was quickly picked up: Vita is a well-known mem­ber of the Aidar Bat­tal­ion, which last Sep­tem­ber was slammed by Amnesty Inter­na­tional for its cam­paign of ter­ror through the war-torn Luhansk region.

Among the 400-strong vol­un­teer unit’s alleged crimes were abduc­tions, unlaw­ful deten­tion, ill-treatment, theft, extor­tion, and pos­si­ble executions.

The bat­tal­ion is known for its links to the far-right, and mem­bers have pre­vi­ously been pic­tured with Nazi insignia.

But it is Vita’s VK page — the Russ­ian equiv­a­lent of Face­book — which pro­vide unequiv­o­cal evi­dence of her own extreme views.

Pic­tures of the blonde teenager per­form­ing the Nazi salute, pos­ing in a t-shirt cov­ered in the fas­cists’ emblem and even dec­o­rat­ing her tent with a colour­ful swastika pop­u­late the page, while pic­tures she shares include things like ‘Ukraine with Yids’.

What Vita — who says she is ‘Aidar from the begin­ning’ and will con­tinue to be so — writes on the page makes her vile views even more star­tling obvious.

‘I pro­mote Nazism, ter­ror, geno­cide,’ she wrote in Decem­ber last year. ‘For all this, I’m not a bad per­son. The jus­ti­fi­ca­tion is the “War for Peace”. If you go bring­ing the work to the end, only in this case, jus­tify my actions would not. Win­ners are not judged.’

. . . .Eka­te­rina Roshuk, for­mer Man­ag­ing Direc­tor at The Kyiv Times, claimed she had ‘long ‘ter­rorised’ the city, with no one able to do any­thing about her.

’The police were afraid to touch a hero of the Anti-Terrorist Oper­a­tion, which in turn was used as license to engage in lawlessness.’ . . .

. . . . Vesti reported that Vita’s four male accom­plices were mem­bers of vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions fight­ing in country’s east­ern con­flict zone.

They were named as Vadim Pinus, 23, a dec­o­rated Azov Bat­tal­ion fighter who was killed in the shootout with police, Evgeniy Koshe­lyuk, 20, sniper Andrei Romanyuk, 17, and Niko­lai Mon­ishenko, 17. . . .

 

6.  The Ukrainian Weekly–formerly edited by Michael Borciukiw (who heads the OSCE’s Special Study Mission to Ukraine)–is attacking artists and other public figures who are not supportive of the OUN/B heirs in Ukraine. “Buoyed by this suc­cess, the Ukrain­ian Weekly now has its sights set on two other West­ern con­cert per­form­ers deemed overly sym­pa­thetic to Rus­sia. The ground war in Ukraine sput­ters on. The ide­o­log­i­cal purges here [in Canada] are just begin­ning”:

“Pianist Pun­ished for Dar­ing to Chal­lenge Polit­i­cal Ortho­doxy in Ukraine: Walkom” by Thomas Walkom; The Star; 4/7/2015.

Surely it is enough that Cana­dian politi­cians have taken sides in Ukraine’s bit­ter conflict.

All three major par­ties in Par­lia­ment agree that Ukraine’s cen­tral gov­ern­ment in Kyiv is heroic and that east­ern rebels bat­tling it are mere cats-paws of Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

Must we now pun­ish any piano player who dares to dissent?

Appar­ently, the man­age­ment of the Toronto Sym­phony Orches­tra thinks we should. It has can­celled two per­for­mances this week by U.S. pianist Valentina Lisitsa, sim­ply because it doesn’t like her posi­tion on Ukraine.

Sym­phony man­agers appar­ently didn’t real­ize that Kyiv-born Lisitsa has def­i­nite views on polit­i­cal devel­op­ments in her native Ukraine.

Nor did they seem to real­ize that the polit­i­cally pow­er­ful Ukrainian-Canadian estab­lish­ment finds these views outrageous.

. . . . In a Face­book post­ing this week, Lisitsa describes her­self as some­one who ini­tially sup­ported last year’s rev­o­lu­tion in Kyiv, say­ing she hoped the so-called Maidan move­ment would rid Ukraine of its cor­rupt, oli­garchic rul­ing class.

But, she writes, she soon became dis­il­lu­sioned when the same oli­garchs com­man­deered the rev­o­lu­tion and, in her words, started to turn Ukraini­ans against one another.

Her crit­ics, of which there are many, say she never sup­ported an inde­pen­dent Ukraine and has always been a Russ­ian stooge.

To sup­port­ers of the Ukrain­ian cen­tral gov­ern­ment, how­ever, she was an abomination. . . .

. . . . The Ukrain­ian Weekly was also out­raged when, in another tweet, she referred to Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko as “cluster-bomber in chief.” And the pub­li­ca­tion was beside itself when she reprinted a car­toon depict­ing the West­ern media’s cov­er­age of Ukraine as a daisy chain of indi­vid­u­als with their heads up one another’s rectums.

Crit­ics also objected to a tweet regard­ing a bat­tle in East­ern Ukraine in which she wrote “Kiev kills scores of civil­ians.” And they attacked her for observ­ing that some who sup­port Ukraine’s cen­tral gov­ern­ment are neo-Nazis.

In retal­i­a­tion, sup­port­ers of the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment pick­eted her appear­ance last fall at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Hall. They car­ried signs sug­gest­ing she was a Nazi and call­ing her racist.

Buoyed by this suc­cess, the Ukrain­ian Weekly now has its sights set on two other West­ern con­cert per­form­ers deemed overly sym­pa­thetic to Rus­sia. The ground war in Ukraine sput­ters on. The ide­o­log­i­cal purges here are just beginning.

7. In past discussion of Ukraine, we have noted not only the Orwellian nature of U.S. media coverage of the crisis, but the manifestation of the Serpent’s Walk scenario. Documented World War II history about the Eastern front and Ukrainian (and other Eastern European ethnic) SS units and their role fighting for the Third Reich and participating in Nazi atrocities is now being written off as “Russian/Kremlin propaganda.”

Furthermore, anyone who dares to discuss this and its relevance to the OUN/B heirs installed by the Maidan coup is labeled as, at best, a “dupe” or, at worst, an agent of an enemy propaganda machine.

Now, things have disintegrated still further. There is a cyber warfare/cyber propaganda offensive underway by Ukraine and its NATO allies, apparently being spearheaded by a U.S. Special Forces and cyber-warfare vet named Joel Harding.

Tragically, Harding seems to have had a pretty realistic grasp of American political and rhetorical reality as recently as 2012, if we can judge by his pronouncements. Now, however, he castigates critics of U.S. and Western support for the OUN/B heirs dominating Ukraine in the strongest terms.

Harding also appears to be directing active interdiction and propaganda efforts against those critics, who face something that might be called “cyber-McCarthyism.”

We also wonder if recent difficulties experienced by Robert Parry’s Consortium News website has anything to do with the substance of George Eliason’s allegations? We have used numerous articles from that website on the subject of Ukraine.

We note in passing that we view with a jaundiced eye the overwhelming majority of the websites and individuals cited as targets of the Harding information warfare effort by George Eliason. We also remind the casual reader that we are very supportive of the NSA and GCHQ in “L’Affaire Snowden.” We also believe that the Underground Reich attack on NSA/GCHQ and its attack on Russia/Eastern Ukraine are part of the same “mega-op.” We MIGHT be the only folks on earth who are very supportive of both Russia vis a vis Ukraine and NSA/GCHQ vis a vis Snowden/WikiLeaks.

Nonetheless, we feel that the implications of this story are sinister.

“Can the Ukrainian Government Target American Journalists in America?” by George Eliason; OpEd News; 3/19/2015.

If you are a journalist writing about or a person concerned about issues like Free Speech, read or write in alternative media or news, Occupy movement, Ferguson, Gaza, Ukraine, Russia, police brutality, US interventionism, fair government, homelessness, keeping the government accountable, representative government, government intrusions like the NSA is doing, or you are liberal, progressive, libertarian, conservative, separation of church and state, religion, …

If you have a website, write, read, or like something in social media that strays outside the new lines the war isn’t coming, it’s now here.

What would we do?  Disrupt, deny, degrade, deceive, corrupt, usurp or destroy the information.  The information, please don’t forget, is the ultimate objective of cyber.  That will directly impact the decision-making process of the adversary’s leader who is the ultimate target.”– Joel Harding on Ukraine’s cyber strategy

Welcome to World of Private Sector IO (Information Operations)

IO or IIO (Inform and Influence Operations) defined by the US Army includes the fields of psychological operations and military deception.

In military IIO operations center on the ability to influence foreign audiences, US and global audiences, and adversely affect enemy decision making through an integrated approach. Even current event news is released in this fashion. Each portal is given messages that follow the same themes because it is an across the board mainstream effort that fills the information space entirely when it is working correctly.

The purpose of “Inform and Influence Operations”  is not to provide a perspective, opinion, or lay out a policy. It is defined as the ability to make audiences “think and act” in a manner favorable to the mission objectives. This is done through applying perception management techniques which target the audience’s emotions, motives, and reasoning.

These techniques are not geared for debate. It is to overwhelm and change the target psyche.

Using these techniques information sources can be manipulated and those that write, speak, or think counter to the objective are relegated as propaganda, ill informed, or irrelevant.

Meet Joel Harding-Ukraine’s King Troll

According to his own bio- Joel spent 26 years in the Army; his first nine years were spent as an enlisted soldier, mostly in Special Forces, as a SF qualified communicator and medic, on an A Team. After completing his degree, Joel then received his commission as an Infantry Officer and after four years transitioned to the Military Intelligence Corps. In the mid 1990s Joel was working in the Joint Staff J2 in support of special operations, where he began working in the new field called Information Operations. Eligible Receiver 1997 was his trial by fire, after that he became the Joint Staff J2 liaison for IO to the CIA, DIA, NSA, DISA and other assorted agencies in the Washington DC area, working as the intelligence lead on the Joint Staff IO Response Cell for Solar Sunrise and Moonlight Maze. Joel followed this by a tour at SOCCENT and then INSCOM, working in both IO and intelligence. Joel retired from the Army in 2003, working for various large defense contractors until accepting the position with the Association of Old Crows.

According to TechRepublic The career of Joel Harding, the director of the group’s (Old Crows) Information Operations Institute, exemplifies the increasing role that computing and the Internet are playing in the military. A 20-year veteran of military intelligence, Mr. Harding shifted in 1996 into one of the earliest commands that studied government-sponsored computer hacker programs. After leaving the military, he took a job as an analyst at SAIC, a large contractor developing computer applications for military and intelligence agencies.

Joel Harding established the Information Operations Institute shortly after joining the Institute at the Association of Old Crows; he then procured the rights to InfowarCon and stood it up in 2009. Joel is an editor of “The IO Journal”, the premier publication in the field of IO.  Joel formed an IO advisory committee, consisting of the 20 key leaders from Us and UK corporate, government, military and academia IO. Joel wrote the white paper for IO which was used as background paper for US Office of the Secretary of Defense’s QDR IO subcommittee.

For ten years the Association of Old Crows has been the Electronic Warfare and Information Operations Association, but there has been no concerted effort to rally the IO Community. This has changed, the IO Institute was approved as a Special Interest Group of the AOC in 2008 and we have already become a major player in the IO Community. This is especially important with the recent formation of the US Cyber Command, with the new definition of Information Operations coming out of the Quadrennial Defense Review, with a new perspective of Electronic Warfare and a myriad of other changes. The IO Institute brings you events, most notably InfowarCom. Our flagship publication is the IO Journal, already assigned reading by at least two military IO educational programs. IO classes are integrated with Electronic Warfare classes to educate, satisfy requirements and enable contractors to be more competitive.

When you look at the beginning of the NSA’s intrusive policies you find Joel Harding. Harding helped pioneer the invasive software used by government and business to explore your social networks, influence you, and dig out every personal detail. In Operation Eligible Receiver 1997 he used freeware taken from the internet to invade the DoD computers, utilities, and more. It’s because most of it is based in “freeware” that NSA snooping has a legal basis. If you can get the software for freeand use it, why can’t the government use it on you?

Ukraine-Bringing it into Focus

Looking back at Joel Harding in 2012 seems like a different man. This is the same accomplished professional described above before Maidan. Here’s how he describes the Russian, Chinese, and American experience before his involvement in Ukraine.

…These experiences, and the fact that I spent nine years in Special Forces and that kind of thing, caused me to think.  Then I began to wonder.  How much of what we read and what we see is propaganda?  Not foreign propaganda, but domestic?  How much of that domestic ‘information’ is propaganda? …We are being smothered in one lie after another. All in the name of politics. It seems to me that these politicians are almost complacent with us behaving like suckling pigs, absolute ignorant morons…Free, unfettered, uncensored information exposes the lies their governments prefer to feed them, allowing their citizens to know and understand the truth.  Authoritarians, like dictators, communists, fascists and many sectarian or religious governments, are said to enhance their authority over their citizens with the use of filters.”

So I ask you, do you see more lies and propaganda here than I saw in China or Russia? I would say it depends on your perspective.  I see more lies aimed at us from our own politicians than I have ever seen anyplace else in the world…   you tell me. Are Americans more susceptible to propaganda?-Harding

Joel Harding has quite a different opinion in 2014 after taking control of Information Operations (IO) in Ukraine.

Part of USIA formed what is now called the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the BBG, who oversee VOA, RFE/RL, RFA, MEBN, Radio Marti and other international broadcasting bureaus – their mission is to broadcast “fair and objective” reporting to what I called ‘denied areas’, such as Russia – Harding

Ukraine

Febuary 22nd 2014 marks Harding’s first involvement in the Ukrainian crisis. “Yesterday I agreed to help present the information of this situation, bringing in representatives from many of the sources cited above.  It is time International Broadcasting is examined.”- Harding

On February 28th 2014 he was announced director of the NSE Strategy Center. Harding reached out immediately to the IO community to see what information anyone had on current Russian cyberspace operations. On March 1st 2014 Harding announced cyber options for Ukraine. . . .

8. A proposal to subject American publications to a kind of neo-McCarthyism is discussed in a Nation magazine piece. This would seem to indicate that Eliason’s concerns are warranted.

“Neo-McCarthyism and the US Media” by James Carden ; The Nation; 6/08/2015.

The cru­sade to ban Rus­sia pol­icy crit­ics

As a result of the civil war that has raged in Ukraine since April 2014, at least 7,000 peo­ple have been killed and more than 15,400 wounded, many of them griev­ously. Accord­ing to the Inter­nal Dis­place­ment Mon­i­tor­ing Cen­tre, 1.2 mil­lion east­ern Ukraini­ans have been inter­nally dis­placed, while the num­ber of those who have fled abroad, mainly to Rus­sia and Belarus, has reached 674,300. Fur­ther, the United Nations has reported that mil­lions of peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly the elderly and the very young, are fac­ing life-threatening con­di­tions as a result of the con­flict. Large parts of east­ern Ukraine lie in ruins, and rela­tions between the United States and Rus­sia have per­haps reached their most dan­ger­ous point since the Cuban mis­sile cri­sis of 1962.

And yet a spe­cial report pub­lished last fall by the online mag­a­zine the Inter­preter would have us believe that Russ­ian “dis­in­for­ma­tion” ranks among the gravest threats to the West. The report, titled “The Men­ace of Unre­al­ity: How the Krem­lin Weaponizes Infor­ma­tion, Cul­ture and Money,” is a joint project of the Inter­preter and the Insti­tute for Mod­ern Rus­sia (IMR), a Manhattan-based think tank funded by the exiled Russ­ian oli­garch Mikhail Khodor­kovsky. Cowrit­ten by the jour­nal­ists Michael Weiss and Peter Pomer­ant­sev, this highly polem­i­cal man­i­festo makes the case for why the United States, and the West gen­er­ally, must com­bat what the authors allege to be the Kremlin’s extrav­a­gantly designed pro­pa­ganda cam­paign. If imple­mented, the mea­sures they pro­pose would sti­fle demo­c­ra­tic debate in the West­ern media.

The report seeks to awaken a pur­port­edly som­no­lent Amer­i­can pub­lic to the dan­ger posed by the Kremlin’s media appa­ra­tus. Accord­ing to Weiss and Pomer­ant­sev, the Russ­ian government—via RT, the Kremlin-funded inter­na­tional tele­vi­sion out­let, as well as a net­work of “expa­tri­ate NGOs” and “far-left and far-right movements”—is cre­at­ing an “anti-Western, author­i­tar­ian Inter­na­tionale that is becom­ing ever more popular…throughout the world.”

While it would be easy to dis­miss the report as a pub­lic­ity stunt by two jour­nal­ists attempt­ing to cash in on the Rus­so­pho­bia so in vogue among Amer­i­can pun­dits, their the­sis has gained wide accep­tance, nowhere more so than in the halls of Con­gress. On April 15, Pomer­ant­sev tes­ti­fied before the House For­eign Rela­tions Com­mit­tee on the sup­posed threat posed by “Russia’s weaponiza­tion of infor­ma­tion.” Com­mit­tee chair Ed Royce and rank­ing mem­ber Eliot Engel are now expected to rein­tro­duce a 2014 bill to reform the Voice of Amer­ica, which fell into dis­ar­ray fol­low­ing the col­lapse of the Soviet Union. In his open­ing state­ments at the hear­ing, Royce argued that the bill “will help us fight Putin’s pro­pa­ganda,” though some crit­ics believe it would turn the fed­eral government’s inter­na­tional broad­cast­ing ser­vice into “some­thing fun­da­men­tally not American.”

Who Are These Guys?

Weiss and Pomer­ant­sev are an unlikely pair. Weiss, youth­ful yet pro­fes­so­r­ial in man­ner, has become a nearly con­stant pres­ence on cable news because of his sup­posed exper­tise on, among other things, Rus­sia, Syria, and ISIS. A long­time neo­con­ser­v­a­tive jour­nal­ist, he began his rise to cable-news ubiq­uity as a pro­tégé of the late Christo­pher Hitchens. After work­ing with Hitchens, he made his way to the Henry Jack­son Soci­ety (HJS), a London-based bas­tion of neo­con­ser­vatism that, accord­ing to a report in The Guardian, has “attracted con­tro­versy in recent years—with key staff crit­i­cised in the past for allegedly anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant comments.”

The his­to­rian Marko Attila Hoare, who resigned in protest from the HJS in 2012, has writ­ten that the orga­ni­za­tion pub­lishes “polem­i­cal and super­fi­cial pieces by aspir­ing jour­nal­ists and pun­dits that pan­der to a nar­row read­er­ship of extreme Euro­pho­bic British Tories, hard­line US Repub­li­cans and Israeli Likud­niks.” Accord­ing to Hoare, Weiss rein­vented him­self at the HJS “as an expert on Russia—about which he has no more aca­d­e­mic exper­tise than he does about the Mid­dle East.” Weiss served as HJS com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor before mov­ing on to found the Inter­preter under the aus­pices of the US-based IMR in 2013. Solid­i­fy­ing his mainstream-media cre­den­tials, he will join the Daily Beast as a senior edi­tor on June 1.

Where Weiss’s mod­er­ate demeanor belies a deep com­mit­ment to neo­con­ser­v­a­tive ide­ol­ogy, Pomer­ant­sev exudes a kind of louche non­cha­lance. A British cit­i­zen of Russ­ian extrac­tion, this rum­pled tele­vi­sion pro­ducer has par­layed his career in the less-than-reputable dis­tricts of the Russ­ian media land­scape into a role as a kind of latter-day Cas­san­dra, sound­ing a clar­ion call about the dan­ger that Russ­ian state pro­pa­ganda poses to the West.

An assid­u­ous self-promoter, Pomer­ant­sev chron­i­cled his jour­ney into the belly of the Russ­ian media beast in a recent book, Noth­ing Is True and Every­thing Is Pos­si­ble. A launch party in early 2015 at the Lega­tum Insti­tute, a London-based research orga­ni­za­tion with close links to the IMR, offered a glimpse of the esteem that Pomer­ant­sev enjoys. At the event, the Amer­i­can direc­tor of the institute’s Tran­si­tions Forum,Wash­ing­ton Post colum­nist Anne Apple­baum, told the audi­ence that she believes his book is “an extra­or­di­nary achievement.”

Pomer­ant­sev, it turns out, is an expe­ri­enced lob­by­ist too. In his book he recalls vis­it­ing the British Par­lia­ment in 2013 to make the case for “why Europe needs a Mag­nit­sky Act.” The orig­i­nal ver­sion of the bill, pushed by British hedge-fund mag­nate Bill Brow­der and passed by the US Con­gress in 2012, imposed bans on a group of Russ­ian offi­cials deemed respon­si­ble for the prison death of Russ­ian whistle­blower Sergei Mag­nit­sky. This in itself is notable, since Brow­der was an enthu­si­as­tic sup­porter of Vladimir Putin’s deci­sion to jail Khodor­kovsky in 2003.

Like Weiss, Pomer­ant­sev has become a fre­quent pres­ence in the US media. He appeared on the op-ed page of The New York Times last Decem­ber to inform read­ers that at the core of the Kremlin’s infor­ma­tion strat­egy is “the idea that there is no such thing as objec­tive truth.” Two months later, he was the sub­ject of a fawn­ing Times pro­file in which he described his book as being “about the Faus­t­ian bar­gain made by an ambi­tious young­ster work­ing in Russia’s medi­a­land of oppor­tu­nity.” In join­ing forces with the edi­tor of a Khodorkovsky-funded webzine, he seems to have traded one Faus­t­ian bar­gain for another.

Because of his decade-long impris­on­ment, Khodor­kovsky has attained the stature of a sec­u­lar saint in some cir­cles. But it should not be for­got­ten that the oil tycoon made his for­tune in a spec­tac­u­larly cor­rupt and some­times vio­lent fash­ion. Indeed, in 2000, For­eign Affairs described him and his fel­low oli­garchs as “a dan­ger­ous posse of plu­to­crats” who “threaten Russia’s tran­si­tion to democ­racy and free mar­kets” as well as “vital US interests.”

Accord­ing to a recent pro­file of Khodor­kovsky in The New Yorker, staff mem­bers of a Riga-based news out­let in which he planned to invest objected. “He’s a toxic investor,” said a per­son “close to the project.” The arti­cle added that “his views of jour­nal­ists haven’t changed much since the nineties, when reporters could be bought and sold, and ‘hit’ pieces could be ginned up for the right price.” Khodorkovsky’s agenda—to bring regime change to Russia—is faith­fully reflected in the work of IMR, the Inter­preter, and the “Men­ace of Unre­al­ity” report.

With the report’s pub­li­ca­tion, Weiss and Pomer­ant­sev have joined the long line of West­ern jour­nal­ists who have played to the public’s dark­est sus­pi­cions about the power, inten­tions, and reach of those gov­ern­ments that are per­ceived as threats to the United States. In his sem­i­nal essay on McCarthy­ism, “The Para­noid Style in Amer­i­can Pol­i­tics,” the his­to­rian Richard Hof­s­tadter wrote that in the world­view of these oppor­tunists, “very often the enemy is held to pos­sess some espe­cially effec­tive source of power: he con­trols the press; he has unlim­ited funds; he has a new secret for influ­enc­ing the mind (brain­wash­ing).” There exists no bet­ter pré­cis of Weiss and Pomerantsev’s view of Putin and the Russ­ian government’s media apparatus.

The report asserts that Putin’s Rus­sia is “arguably more dan­ger­ous than a com­mu­nist super­power.” Any effec­tive response to the virus of Russ­ian pro­pa­ganda, Weiss insists, must com­bine “the wis­dom of Orwell…with the savvy of Don Draper.” Read­ers will cer­tainly cede that the duo has led by exam­ple, since the report and its set of “mod­est rec­om­men­da­tions” are noth­ing if not Orwellian.

The authors call for the cre­ation of an “inter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized rat­ings sys­tem for dis­in­for­ma­tion” that would fur­nish news orga­ni­za­tions and blog­gers with the “ana­lyt­i­cal tools with which to define forms of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.” While they throw in an oblig­a­tory caveat that “top-down cen­sor­ship should be avoided” (exactly how is left unex­plained), they nonethe­less endorse what amounts to a media black­list. “Vig­or­ous debate and dis­agree­ment is of course to be encour­aged,” the authors write, “but media orga­ni­za­tions that prac­tice con­scious decep­tion should be excluded from the community.”

What qual­i­fies as “con­scious decep­tion” is also left unde­fined, but it isn’t dif­fi­cult to sur­mise. Orga­ni­za­tions that do not share the authors’ enthu­si­asm for regime change in Syria or war with Rus­sia over Ukraine would almost cer­tainly be “excluded from the com­mu­nity.” Weiss, for instance, has asserted repeat­edly that Rus­sia is to blame for the July 2014 down­ing of Malaysia Air­lines Flight MH17. But would a news orga­ni­za­tion like, say, The Atlantic or Der Spiegel be “excluded from the com­mu­nity” for writ­ing about a Ger­man intel­li­gence report that indi­cated the mis­sile in ques­tion did not come from Rus­sia? Would jour­nal­ists like Robert Parry be black­listed for ques­tion­ing the main­stream account of the tragedy? Would schol­ars like the Uni­ver­sity of Ottawa’s Paul Robin­son be banned from appear­ing on op-ed pages and cable-news pro­grams for chal­leng­ing the notion that there is, in the words of Ukraine’s ambas­sador to the United States, “no civil war in Ukraine,” but rather a war “started and waged by Russia”?

Weiss and Pomer­ant­sev accuse the Krem­lin of “mak­ing decep­tion equiv­a­lent to argu­men­ta­tion and the delib­er­ate mis­use of facts as legit­i­mate as ratio­nal per­sua­sion.” Maybe so. But these tac­tics are hardly unique to the Krem­lin. In Decem­ber, a group of Kiev par­lia­men­tar­i­ans pre­sented pho­tographs to the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee pur­port­ing to show Russ­ian troops and tanks invad­ing east­ern Ukraine. Sub­se­quent reports revealed that the images had been taken dur­ing the Russian-Georgian war in 2008. Did the Inter­preter denounce the Ukrain­ian del­e­ga­tion for try­ing to pass off doc­tored pho­tos? No. Its warn­ings about dis­in­for­ma­tion cut only one way.

So do its oft-expressed con­cerns about trans­parency. Time and again, the authors call on pun­dits and think tanks to be more trans­par­ent with regard to their affil­i­a­tions, finan­cial inter­ests, and fund­ing. But the Inter­preter doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily prac­tice what it so ardently preaches. In addi­tion to the sup­port pro­vided by Khodor­kovsky, the pub­li­ca­tion iden­ti­fies its other ini­tial source of fund­ing as the Herzen Foun­da­tion of Lon­don. Weiss responded to a query ask­ing about the prove­nance of the foun­da­tion by admit­ting, “I don’t know Herzen’s cur­rent orga­ni­za­tional sta­tus, board of direc­tors, etc. You are most wel­come to inquire with the Char­i­ties Aid Foun­da­tion in the UK.” Mul­ti­ple requests to the Char­i­ties Aid Foun­da­tion, with which Herzen had claimed to be reg­is­tered, have all gone unan­swered. Indeed, there is no evi­dence Herzen exists.

The authors believe active mea­sures must be taken to shield gullible Amer­i­cans from the depre­da­tions of Putin’s pro­pa­ganda. That Amer­i­can news­pa­pers employ pub­lic edi­tors to mon­i­tor their news reports isn’t enough; they should also staff “counter-disinformation edi­tors” who “would pick apart what might be called all the news that is unfit to print.” Such pro­fes­sional cen­sors are nec­es­sary, we are told, because the Krem­lin “exploits sys­temic weak spots in the West­ern sys­tem, pro­vid­ing a sort of X-ray of the under­belly of lib­eral democ­racy.” Worse, the authors charge, are the legions of “senior West­ern experts” pro­vid­ing aid and com­fort to the enemy, whether by appear­ing on RT, accept­ing posi­tions on the boards of Russ­ian com­pa­nies, or sim­ply attend­ing Russian-sponsored forums. “The blur­ring of dis­tinc­tions between think tanks and lob­by­ing helps the Krem­lin push its agenda with­out due scrutiny,” they write.

Accord­ing to Weiss and Pomer­ant­sev, the most severe threat is the one posed by RT, a net­work to which they impute vast pow­ers. They are hardly alone. In Jan­u­ary, Andrew Lack, then chief exec­u­tive of the Broad­cast­ing Board of Governors—the fed­eral agency that over­sees the Voice of Amer­ica, Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­erty, and other US-funded media out­lets—likened RT’s threat to those posed by “the Islamic State in the Mid­dle East and groups like Boko Haram.” (Lack was recently named chair­man of NBC News.)

RT is allegedly so skill­ful at mask­ing its nefar­i­ous mes­sage that “any­one tun­ing in would not imme­di­ately know it is Kremlin-run or even asso­ciate it with Rus­sia,” the authors write—even though the network’s news broad­casts begin with the state­ment “Com­ing to you live from Moscow, this is RT.”

The Phan­tom Menace

The lead­ing author­ity on Soviet and Russ­ian mass media, Duke Uni­ver­sity pro­fes­sor Ellen Mick­iewicz, dis­putes the entire premise of Weiss and Pomerantsev’s report. She told me that the hypo­der­mic model of media effects (in which mes­sages are “injected” into the audi­ence sim­ply by virtue of being dis­sem­i­nated) was sci­en­tif­i­cally dis­proved decades ago. “It’s the most sim­ple­minded mis­take you can make in eval­u­at­ing media effects,” she said.

Slouch­ing Towards McCarthyism

One might expect that such neo-McCarthyism, reek­ing as it does of a barely con­cealed attempt to cen­sor and intim­i­date, would have touched off protests, if not con­dem­na­tion, in the estab­lish­ment media. But the Inter­preter has been given a rap­tur­ous recep­tion on both sides of the Atlantic.

Among its most vis­i­ble pro­po­nents has been the Lega­tum Insti­tute. As Mark Ames recently reported in the online pub­li­ca­tion Pan­do­Daily, Lega­tum is the brain­child of bil­lion­aire ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist Christo­pher Chan­dler. Like Brow­der and Khodor­kovsky, Chan­dler made his bil­lions in post-Soviet Rus­sia. Accord­ing to Ames, he and his brother “report­edly were the sin­gle biggest for­eign ben­e­fi­cia­ries of one of the great­est pri­va­ti­za­tion scams in his­tory: Russia’s voucher pro­gram in the early 1990s.”

To mark the pub­li­ca­tion of the “Men­ace of Unre­al­ity” report, Lega­tum hosted a panel dis­cus­sion that fea­tured such lumi­nar­ies as Anne Apple­baum, US Ambas­sador to Ukraine Geof­frey Pyatt, for­mer US ambas­sador John Herbst, and Ukrain­ian Ambas­sador at Large Olexan­der Scherba. All expressed grave con­cern over the threat that Putin’s pro­pa­ganda machine poses to the West.

The event was fol­lowed by sim­i­lar ses­sions hosted by the Har­ri­man Insti­tute and the National Endow­ment for Democ­racy. At the lat­ter event, Weiss and Pomer­ant­sev were joined by Free­dom House direc­tor David Kramer; a young func­tionary of the neo­con­ser­v­a­tive For­eign Pol­icy Ini­tia­tive; and the NED’s Inter­na­tional Forum exec­u­tive direc­tor, Christo­pher Walker, who touted the endowment’s “close ties” with both the Inter­preter and the Insti­tute for Mod­ern Russia.

Two of the report’s most vis­i­ble sup­port­ers have been Apple­baum and Edward Lucas, a senior edi­tor at The Econ­o­mist. Soon after the launch party at Lega­tum, Apple­baum took to the pages of The Wash­ing­ton Post and The New York Review of Books to plug Weiss and Pomerantsev’s cru­sade. In an essay for the for­mer, she warned that “for democ­ra­cies,” Russ­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion poses “a seri­ous chal­lenge.”Russia’s use of what Weiss and Pomer­ant­sev refer to as Inter­net “trolls” is espe­cially wor­ry­ing to Apple­baum, who fears read­ers will be unduly influ­enced by their “neg­a­tive or mock­ing remarks.”

In the end, apart from being a frontal attack on the core tenets of free speech, the Weiss-Pomerantsev cru­sade lets West­ern pun­dits and policy-makers off the hook for their com­plic­ity in the Ukraine cri­sis by dis­cour­ag­ing any kind of crit­i­cal think­ing or recon­sid­er­a­tion of US pol­icy. The inces­sant focus in “The Men­ace of Unre­al­ity” on the Kremlin’s media appa­ra­tus obscures the human­i­tar­ian cat­a­stro­phe unfold­ing in Ukraine, as well as the grow­ing dan­ger of a larger US-Russia war. The pol­icy of bel­liger­ence toward Rus­sia that Weiss and Pomer­ant­sev so staunchly sup­port has been one of the pri­mary cul­prits in the Ukraine cri­sis. The fact that they now seek to silence, smear, and even black­list crit­ics of that pol­icy makes their project all the more egregious.

One would have hoped that jour­nal­ists, of all peo­ple, would object to this project in the strongest pos­si­ble terms. That no one has yet done so is an omi­nous sign.

9.  Concerned about “Russian trolls” making comments on the internet, the Washington Post’s Anne Apple­baum has a solu­tion in mind. End inter­net anonymity.
“Another Rea­son to Avoid Read­ing the Comments” by Anne Apple­baumWash­ing­ton Post; 11/28/2014.

If you are read­ing this arti­cle on the Inter­net, stop after­ward and think about it. Then scroll to the bot­tom and read the com­men­tary. If there isn’t any, try a Web site that allows com­ments, prefer­ably one that is very polit­i­cal. Then recheck your views.

Chances are your think­ing will have changed, espe­cially if you have read a series of insult­ing, neg­a­tive or mock­ing remarks — as so often you will. Once upon a time, it seemed as if the Inter­net would be a place of civ­i­lized and open debate; now, unedited forums often dete­ri­o­rate to insult exchanges. Like it or not, this mat­ters: Mul­ti­ple exper­i­ments have shown that per­cep­tions of an arti­cle, its writer or its sub­ject can be pro­foundly shaped by anony­mous online com­men­tary, espe­cially if it is harsh. One group of researchers found that rude com­ments“not only polar­ized read­ers, but they often changed a participant’s inter­pre­ta­tion of the news story itself.” A dig­i­tal ana­lyst at Atlantic Media also dis­cov­ered that peo­ple who read neg­a­tive com­ments were more likely to judge that an arti­cle was of low qual­ity and, regard­less of the con­tent, to doubt the truth of what it stated.

Some news orga­ni­za­tions have responded by heav­ily curat­ing com­ments. One Twit­ter cam­paigner, @AvoidCommentsperi­od­i­cally reminds read­ers to ignore anony­mous posters: “You wouldn’t lis­ten to some­one named Bonerman26 in real life. Don’t read the com­ments.” But none of that can pre­vent waves of insult­ing com­men­tary from peri­od­i­cally wash­ing over other parts of the Inter­net, infil­trat­ing Face­book or over­whelm­ing Twitter.

If all of this com­men­tary were spon­ta­neous, then this would sim­ply be an inter­est­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal phe­nom­e­non. But it is not. A friend who worked for a pub­lic rela­tions com­pany in Europe tells of com­pa­nies that hire peo­ple to post, anony­mously, pos­i­tive words on behalf of their clients and neg­a­tive words about rivals. Polit­i­cal par­ties of var­i­ous kinds, in var­i­ous coun­tries, are rumored to do the same.

States have grown inter­ested in join­ing the fray as well. Last year, Russ­ian jour­nal­ists infil­trated an orga­ni­za­tion in St. Peters­burg that pays peo­ple to post at least 100 com­ments a day; an inves­ti­ga­tion ear­lier this year found that a well-connected busi­ness­man was pay­ing Russ­ian trollsto man­age 10 Twit­ter accounts apiece with up to 2,000 fol­low­ers. In the wake of the Russ­ian inva­sion of Ukraine, the Guardian of Lon­don admit­tedit was hav­ing trou­ble mod­er­at­ing what it called an “orches­trated cam­paign.” “Good­bye ‘Eddie,’ ” tweeted the Eston­ian pres­i­denta few months ago, as he blocked yet another Twit­ter troll.

For democ­ra­cies, this is a seri­ous chal­lenge. Online com­men­tary sub­tly shapes what vot­ers think and feel, even if it just raises the level of irri­ta­tion, or gives read­ers the impres­sion that cer­tain views are “con­tro­ver­sial,” or makes them won­der what the “main­stream” ver­sion of events is con­ceal­ing. For the most part, the Russ­ian trolls aren’t sup­ply­ing clas­sic pro­pa­ganda, designed to trum­pet the glo­ries of Soviet agri­cul­ture. Instead, as jour­nal­ists Peter Pomer­ant­sev and Michael Weisshave writ­ten in a paperana­lyz­ing the new tac­tics of dis­in­for­ma­tion, their pur­pose is rather “to sow con­fu­sion via con­spir­acy the­o­ries and pro­lif­er­ate false­hoods.” In a world where tra­di­tional jour­nal­ism is weak and infor­ma­tion is plen­ti­ful, that isn’t very dif­fi­cult to do.

But no West­ern gov­ern­ment wants to “cen­sor” the Inter­net, either, and objec­tions will always be raised if gov­ern­ment money is even spent study­ing this phe­nom­e­non. Per­haps, as Weiss and Pomer­ant­sev have also argued, we there­fore need civic orga­ni­za­tions or char­i­ties that can iden­tify delib­er­ately false mes­sages and bring them to pub­lic atten­tion. Per­haps schools, as they once taught stu­dents about news­pa­pers, now need to teach a new sort of eti­quette: how to rec­og­nize an Inter­net troll, how to dis­tin­guish truth from state-sponsored fiction.

Sooner or later, we may also be forced to end Inter­net anonymity or to at least ensure that every online per­sona is linked back to a real per­son: Any­one who writes online should be as respon­si­ble for his words as if he were speak­ing them aloud. I know there are argu­ments in favor of anonymity, but too many peo­ple now abuse the priv­i­lege. Human rights, includ­ing the right to free­dom of expres­sion, should belong to real human beings and not to anony­mous trolls.

“Sooner or later, we may also be forced to end Inter­net anonymity or to at least ensure that every online per­sona is linked back to a real per­son: Any­one who writes online should be as respon­si­ble for his words as if he were speak­ing them aloud”

10. If the Guinness Book of World Records had a category for sheer political and historical ignorance, the Polish foreign minister just might lay claim to that dubious prize.

The Red Army units that liberated Auschwitz were part of the Soviet force amalgamated under the command rubric “Ukrainian Front.” Seizing on that, the Polish foreign minister claimed that “Ukrainian” soldiers liberated Auschwitz.

We don’t know what he has been drinking or smoking, but it must be really strong stuff!

Good grief, Charlie Brown!

“West Rains on Putin’s WWII Parade as Ukraine Crisis Takes Toll” by Anna Smolchenko and Olga Rotenberg [Agence France-Presse]; Yahoo News; 3/19/2015.

. . . . Presiding over preparations for the Russia-wide festivities this week, Putin said attempts to belittle Russia’s role in WWII were aimed at stripping it of its “moral authority.”

“Occasionally we hear sheer lunacy — it’s amazing how people even come to that.”

Poland angered Moscow when its foreign minister said it was Ukrainian soldiers — rather than the Soviet Red Army — who liberated Auschwitz in 1945. . . .

 

Discussion

2 comments for “FTR #849 Walkin’ the Snake in Ukraine, Part 6”

  1. The Telegraph has a report on Ukraine’s ‘history laws’ that make it illegal to criticize Ukraine’s fascist Nazi collaborators. The article contains lots of the expected “some people say these groups were involved with [insert historic crime here], but others disagree”-back and forth when a topic like this gets reported on. But it also contains this little fun-fact: The MP in the Radical Party that wrote the “freedom fighters” law, Yury Shukhevych, is the son of Roman Shukhevych, the former head of the UPA:

    The Telegraph
    Ukraine’s ‘history laws’ purge it of communist symbols but divide the population
    Lionising nationalists and removing Soviet monuments helps protect Ukraine from Russian aggression, supporters say – but others see praise for Nazi collaborators and an assault on the past

    By Tom Parfitt, Lviv, Kiev and Zaporizhia

    8:00AM BST 30 Jun 2015

    Almost blind and 82 years old, Yury Shukhevych leans heavily on a stick topped with an ornamental axe-head. “It’s a Hutsul axe from the Carpathians,” he says, with an impish smile. “You could cleave a head in two with this.”

    His stooped body and eyes squeezed almost shut do not suggest much of a warrior, but Mr Shukheyvch has pedigree. His father, Roman, was the head of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), a nationalist group that fought both the Germans and the Soviets during the Second World War, collaborating for a time with the Nazis.

    For some in Ukraine, members of the UPA were heroic freedom fighters who resisted all intruders in an attempt to preserve a national homeland. But for others in this deeply divided country of 45 million people, they were traitorous fascists, bent on mass murder and ethnic cleansing.

    Now the argument is being stirred anew after Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president, approved a series of controversial new “history laws” last month. Under one law, Ukraine is to be purged of communist symbols, including hundreds of statues of Vladimir Lenin. Under another, UPA veterans – and other 20th century “fighters for Ukrainian independence” – acquire a special status, making it illegal to express “public contempt” towards them or deny the legitimacy of their struggle.

    The contentious laws feed into a wider battle for identity and survival as government troops fight pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donbas region, where a ceasefire is disintegrating.

    ‘Let the Russians not tell us who are our heroes’

    Mr Shukhevych, an MP with the nationalist Radical Party since October, drafted the law on freedom fighters. He says his father and comrades resisted Moscow’s dominance and as a result were subjected to a Soviet – and now Russian – smear campaign.

    “Let the Russians not tell us who are our heroes,” he says. Fighting together with the Germans against Soviet forces during the war was a temporary and pragmatic move for Ukrainian nationalists, Mr Shukhevych adds, and they did not sympathise with Nazi ideas.

    “This is all Russian propaganda,” he says. “The Ukrainian people were denied their right to independence. How can this be? This is the legal right of every nation. We know of many nations that have fought for their independence, including in Europe. Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland. Serbia against Bulgaria; Poland fought in the 19th century. Byron fought for the independence of Greece. So to deny the legitimacy of Ukraine’s struggle is illegal.”

    Introducing the new legislation protecting the UPA drew a predictably frothing response from Russia, where Ukraine’s government is derided as a “fascist junta”. But it has also provoked disquiet in the West.

    Ethnic cleansing

    A group of 70 scholars on Ukraine appealed to Mr Poroshenko to call off the “history laws”, saying they would stifle debate and make it “a crime to question the legitimacy of an organisation (UPA) that slaughtered tens of thousands of Poles in one of the most heinous acts of ethnic cleansing in the history of Ukraine”.

    The UPA was established as a guerrilla group in 1942. The previous year, Roman Shukhevych and other Ukrainian nationalists had formed the Nachtigall and Roland battalions under German command to support the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.

    Members of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and UPA, its military wing, massacred between 60,000 and 100,000 Poles in Volhynia and Galicia, and also helped kill Jews, according to historians.

    While the Communists were its main enemy, the UPA later turned on the Nazis too after Adolf Hitler failed to support the establishment of a Ukrainian state. The partisans continued to fight Soviet rule for several years after the war had ended.

    A place of pilgrimage

    Mr Shukhevych met the Telegraph in the former safe-house where his fugitive father hid and was finally assassinated in 1950 by agents of the MGB, predecessor of the KGB.

    The house, on the edge of Lviv in western Ukraine, a nationalist stronghold, is now a museum and a place of pilgrimage. It was set up after the Soviet collapse in 1991 and funded by the descendants of UPA members who had fled to the US after the war.

    Visitors come to see Roman Shukhevych’s wartime uniforms and a mock-up of a partisans’ forest bunker. In one wall of the house is a bullet-hole; left, it is said, when the UPA leader fired a final shot from his revolver as he was struck down by an MGB machine-gun volley. The shot was to warn his assistant to swallow a cyanide capsule.

    “We get a lot of men from the army and the volunteer battalions visiting before they go off to fight in Donbas,” says Volodymyr Karanda, the museum’s director, referring to the war against Moscow-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine, which has claimed more than 6,400 lives since April last year. “For them it’s an example of how to fight for one’s motherland even against uneven odds, an inspiration.”

    Mr Karanda does not deny that the UPA murdered civilians in the 1940s, but he questions the scale of the killings and says they took place at the time of a ruthless, internecine conflict.

    Mr Shukhevych, sitting at a table a few steps from where his father was shot, adds: “I don’t justify everything that was done. But we can also talk of tragedies.” The Poles killed many Ukrainians and destroyed churches, he said, while the Soviets slaughtered, deported and imprisoned millions.

    ‘Lenin is a man with blood on his hands’

    Besides giving status to the UPA, Mr Poroshenko’s new “history laws” make it a crime to deny the “criminal nature” of both the Nazi regime and the “communist totalitarian regime of 1917-1991 in Ukraine”. Using their symbols is also banned – meaning that over the next year communist monuments will be pulled down, street names changed and souvenirs prohibited.

    The aim is to “tear up the link with our Soviet past” says Mr Shukhevych, who spent more than 30 years in Soviet prisons and penal colonies because of his father. “We must understand that Lenin is a man with blood on his hands, a symbol of an anti-human system. He can be left in a museum but not on our streets.”

    In Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, many see the new laws as part of an existential struggle in the face of Russian aggression.

    Oleg Sinyakevich serves in the OUN Battalion, a volunteer unit which adopted its name from the wartime nationalist group. Last year he fought against Moscow-backed separatists around Donetsk airport.

    UPA veterans are unfairly maligned as Hitler supporters, he says. During the Second World War, they “did not go to fight in Poland, or in Russia, or in Belarus. We did not go anywhere, we were in our own land. The fascists invaded, then the communists, then the fascists again. We fought the aggressor.

    “It’s just the same now. Russia attacked us. Russia kills people, burns them alive, tells horror tales about us and then calls us fascists. Where’s the logic?”

    Some say the laws make hero-worship compulsory

    The “de-communisation law” was drafted by Ukraine’s Institute of National Memory, headed by Volodymyr Vyatrovych. He believes the uprising in Kiev last year which led to the ousting of Viktor Yanukovych, the president, was an “anti-Soviet” one.

    “It is extremely important for Ukraine to have given a legal evaluation to the crimes of the communist period and to move away from that totalitarian past.”

    Other former states of the USSR or Soviet bloc – like Poland or the Baltics – went through that process long ago and are now on an “irreversible” democratic path, says Mr Vyatrovych. “By contrast, in Belarus, especially in Russia and until recently in Ukraine, the failure to condemn the past has resulted in its gradual rehabilitation.”

    The result, he says, was the hardline governments of Vladimir Putin and Mr Yanukovych, bringing censorship, political repression, and a fondness for calling Joseph Stalin “an effective manager” rather than a tyrant.

    Yet some feel the history laws themselves veer towards intolerance.

    Mikhail Pogrebinsky, a political analyst, says they are the initiative of a “party of victors” around Mr Poroshenko, who are unwilling to counter other points of view inside Ukraine, especially in the Russophone east.

    “Glorifying UPA might be understandable if the country was only ‘Little Ukraine’ in the west and Kiev. But only about a third of the population supports the Russophobic, nationalistic viewpoint, and when they impose their will on the rest then I see a mass of problems ahead.”

    The de-communisation law is an unnecessary “stupidity” that will only drive Donbas further away, Mr Pogrebinsky added, even as Kiev tries to claw it back from the separatists and Russia’s embrace.

    Andrew Wilson, author of Ukraine Crisis, says one problem with the legislation is that it is “so prescriptive” and makes hero-worship compulsory. “The most controversial is OUN-UPA. Some people say they were heroes, some people say they were Nazis. The reality is that most of them were were locals just defending their local territories. But they did bad things, they did good things. You can’t say they were all heroes.”

    Goodbye Lenin, hello Superman

    The Zaporozhia Lenin statue stands at the end of Lenin Avenue, his arm raised towards the huge sweep of the dam which he conceived and which was built not long after his death in 1924.

    “I want him to stay, he’s part of our landscape, our history,” says Valentina, a hotel receptionist who works nearby. “My grandmother came here in the 1930s to help build the hydro-electric plant. I visited Lenin on trips as a Pioneer and my girlfriends all had their wedding pictures taken next to him.

    “Taking him down and changing all the communist street names will cost a lot of money. The country is at war and the economy is falling apart. Let’s feed people first.”

    Yury Barannik does not agree. An artist, he is curator of the ironically named Lenin modern art gallery on a street corner by the statue.

    “Lenin was a criminal, he wrote orders for executions,” he says. “If there was debate and people of the communist generation repented and admitted they were wrong then perhaps we could do without a law to remove all this. But they won’t.”

    To ease the process of getting rid of Lenin Mr Barannik has been holding workshops where students sketch alternatives for his vacated square: a swimming pool, a concert hall, a Superman statue and a marble toilet.

    At the hydro-electric plant, Viktor Kucher, its general director, is tight lipped. Inside the turbine hall, a large socialist-realist painting shows senior Bolsheviks opening the dam in 1932.

    As a state enterprise, the plant would comply with the new laws and remove its Lenin nameplate and hammer and sickle emblems from the doors if ordered to do so, he says.

    Leading the Telegraph on a two-hour excursion of the dam, Mr Kucher preferred to talk about the squirrels and pheasants in its 43-hectare grounds rather than the politics of the past.

    “Any change means upset,” he says.

    Goodbye Lenin, hello Superman? Well, if they’re going to tear down the statues are Lenin everywhere, at least it doesn’t sound like they’re replacing them with Stepan Bandera statues. So as appalling as these laws are, let’s hope Ukraine decides to go with the Superman-statue plan because you could do worse than making a bunch of statues of Superman as part of your national historical revisionism push. Hopefully.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 2, 2015, 12:50 pm
  2. Right Sector just had a march in Kiev with all of their usual fanfare including the white supremacy symbols. The message of the marchers? Drop the Minsk cease-fire and wage full-scale war in the East

    BBC News
    Ukraine crisis: Rally in Kiev urges war on eastern rebels

    4 July 2015

    About 1,000 Ukrainian pro-government fighters and far-right supporters have marched through the centre of the capital, Kiev.

    Many burned tyres and wore balaclavas; some carried white supremacist flags.

    They called on the government to end the Minsk ceasefire accord and declare war on pro-Russian rebels in the east.

    The demonstrators say the Russian government is bringing troops and equipment into Ukraine, a claim that Russia has always denied.

    Many in the rally were from volunteer battalions and were dressed in their battle fatigues.

    They said they had returned from fighting Russian forces and demanded an end to all diplomatic relations with Russia.

    The ultra-nationalist Right Sector group called the march. Protesters also demanded the nationalisation of Russian-owned businesses.

    More than 6,400 people have been killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine that began in April 2014 when rebels seized large parts of the two eastern regions. This followed Russia’s annexation of the Crimea peninsula.

    The BBC’s David Stern in Kiev says Friday’s rally was a show of strength in the heart of Ukrainian officialdom.

    But above all, our correspondent says, the demonstrators were calling for change. Both in the way that the conflict is being fought in the east and in the way that the country is being run.

    Central to their demands is an end to the Minsk ceasefire agreement signed in Februarywhich they say is a charade because of Russia’s activities in Ukraine.

    The Ukrainian government, Western leaders and Nato all say there is clear evidence that Russia is helping the rebels in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions with heavy weapons and soldiers. Independent experts echo that accusation.

    But Moscow denies it, insisting that any Russians serving with the rebels are volunteers.

    Clashes between government troops and rebels have recently intensified.

    So the folks that have repeatedly threatened to ‘march on Kiev‘ when the war is over just marched in Kiev demanding more war. How helpful.

    And in other news, on the same day of march in Kiev, the separatists in the East withdrew had their own symbolic march, of sorts: the marched out of strategic positions and made renewed pleas for constitutional guarantees for semi-autonomous status in the breakaway regions as a path towards long-term peace:

    i24 News
    ‘Death to the enemy’ as pro-Kiev fighters march in capital

    Ukraine rebels withdraw from key frontline village

    Published July 04th 2015 01:38pm

    About 2,000 pro-Kiev volunteer fighters and far-right group members rallied in the Ukrainian capital on Friday evening to demand the declaration of all-out war against the eastern gunmen.

    Many in the rally were from volunteer fighting units wearing their fighting fatigues, balaclavas and burning tyres.

    Calling on the Ukrainian government to end the Minsk ceasefire accords with Russia, some chanted “Death to the Enemy” and “Glory to Ukraine”.

    Ukraine rebels withdraw from key frontline village

    Pro-Russian fighters have withdrawn from a strategic frontline village, Ukraine’s military reported on Friday, although some troops doubted whether the surprise retreat and lull in fighting would last.

    Lying just 10 kilometres (six miles) east of the Sea of Azov industrial port of Mariupol — the target of repeated rebel attacks — Shyrokyne has been one of the deadliest hotspots of the 15-month separatist conflict in the ex-Soviet state’s industrial east.

    “The rebels withdrew to the east, leaving the settlement of Shyrokyne completely destroyed,” military spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk told reporters in Kiev.

    But separatists warned that “unilateral demilitarisation” by their side may not be enough to establish a lasting peace.

    “We are waiting for a similar step (from Ukraine),” separatist leader Denis Pushilin told Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news agency.

    A top official with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said his Ukrainian monitoring teams had also not found any pro-Russian fighters in the village, Interfax reported.

    Western powers, Russia and the OSCE have repeatedly urged the two sides to respect a February truce deal that demanded the immediate withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front.

    But mutual mistrust has prompted daily exchanges of fire and turned Shyrokyne into an important staging post for rebel attacks on Mariupol — a port city the insurgents had vowed to seize in January before claiming to have changed their mind.

    -Diplomatic tensions –

    The insurgents’ retreat along the southern edge of the front comes in a week that has witnessed a marked de-escalation of fighting and drop in the number of daily reported deaths.

    But diplomatic tensions between Moscow and Kiev remain high, with Russia on Friday accusing Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko of refusing to agree final peace terms with the separatist command.

    The Western-backed Ukrainian leader irked both Moscow and the fighters by unveiling draft changes to the constitution that gave sweeping powers to the regions but critically failed to address the rebels’ main demands.

    His amendments, which Poroshenko on Friday asked parliament to approve within the next two weeks, refuse to add to the constitution the semi-autonomous status demanded by militants who now control land roughly the size of Wales.

    Rebel parts of the mostly Russian-speaking Lugansk and Donetsk regions would like to see their right to partial self-rule spelt out in constitutional amendments that would be enormously difficult to overturn.

    But Poroshenko’s draft only makes reference to an existing piece of legislation that gives insurgency leaders partial right to administer the areas for an interim period once a set of preliminary conditions are met.

    The separatists fear that the law could be revoked or suspended by Ukraine’s strongly pro-European parliament.

    For his part, Poroshenko is trying to avoid losing credibility with more nationalist Ukrainians who backed the pro-European protests last year and remain a powerful voice in the crisis-torn country’s fractured political system.

    “For his part, Poroshenko is trying to avoid losing credibility with more nationalist Ukrainians who backed the pro-European protests last year and remain a powerful voice in the crisis-torn country’s fractured political system.”

    Well, as the saying goes, the squeaky wheel waving the white supremacy flags and chanting “Death to the Enemy” gets the grease. It’s one of the more unfortunate characteristics of contemporary socioeconomic maintenance and repair.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 4, 2015, 3:27 pm

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