Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #857 Update on Ukraine, the Earth Island Boogie and “Team Snowden”

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash drive that can be obtained here. The new drive is a 32-gigabyte drive that is current as of the programs and articles posted by late spring of 2015. The new drive (available for a tax-deductible contribution of $65.00 or more) contains FTR #850.  (The previous flash drive was current through the end of May of 2012 and contained FTR #748.)

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This program was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

Chechens in Ukraine (photo credit Reuters)

Pravy Sektor

Introduction: In addition to further exploration of links between the political forces grouped around Eddie the Friendly Spoook (Snowden) and fascists involved with the events surrounding the Maidan coup, this program highlights the dangers posed by extremist stances adopted both by the OUN/B heirs in power in Ukraine and their Amen chorus in the U.S.

This analysis is presented in conjunction with, and against the back ground of, the Earth Island or World Island as it is sometimes known.

Stretching from the Straits of Gibraltar, all across Europe, most of the Middle East, Eurasia, Russia, China and India, that stretch of land: comprises most of the world’s land mass; contains most of the world’s population and most of the world’s natural resources (including oil and natural gas.) Geopoliticians have long seen controlling that land mass as the key to world domination.  The population that occupies the middle of that stretch of geography is largely Muslim.

Utilizing that Muslim population to control the resources of the Earth Island is a stratagem that has been in effect in the West for a century.

Among the most influential advocates of using Islamists as proxy warriors to control the Earth island is Zbignew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s former National Security Adviser and a long-time Gehlen milieu associate. Brzezinski utilized the Islamist gambit to lure the Soviet Union into Afghanistan and the presence of Chechen fighters operating under Pravy Sektor administrative command may very well derive from the same operational strategy.

Exemplifying the recklessness enjoying a degree of rhetorical chic in Washington, Zbigniew Brzezinski’s son Ian advocated before the Senate Armed Services Committee that warmaking powers with regard to Russia be taken out of President Obama’s hands and given to the top military commander of NATO!

” . . . Today it’s Brzezinski’s son Ian who finds Moscow at the root of America’s problems regardless of the facts. He recently recommended to the Senate Armed Services Committee that the authority to make war on Russia should be taken out of President Obama’s hands and given to NATO’s top commander, General Phillip Breedlove . . .”

This at the same time that a commander of one of Ukraine’s Nazi/Punisher Battalions is calling for the war to be carried to Russia itself, directly threatening the Russian capital with destruction.

“I would like Ukraine to lead the cru­sades,” said Korchyn­sky, whose battalion’s name is Saint Mary. “Our mis­sion is not only to kick out the occu­piers, but also revenge. Moscow must burn.”

Official disclaimers and official policy aside, it appears that the Nazi Punisher Battalions are indeed receiving U.S. training. U.S. advisers are only screening military trainees for records of human rights abuses.
The trainees are vetted by Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, which formed the Azov Battalion and which has nominal command over the others.

The chances are good that the presence of “the Ukrainian diaspora’ and “volunteer’ medics and engineers” indicates a covert operation underway. The presence of ISIS-linked Chechen fighters in the Ukrainian “volunteer’ battalions is probably part of the same operation.

” . . . In an inter­view with The Daily Beast, Sgt. Ivan Kharkiv of the Azov bat­tal­ion talks about his battalion’s expe­ri­ence with U.S. train­ers and U.S. vol­un­teers quite fondly, even men­tion­ing U.S. vol­un­teers engi­neers and medics that are still cur­rently assist­ing them. He also talks about the sig­nif­i­cant and active sup­port from the Ukrain­ian dias­pora in the U.S. . . .”

Threatening the Poroshenko regime with military action, Pravy Sektor and other military elements of the OUN/B heirs governing Ukraine have been pushing for a declaration of war by the Ukrainian government. Such a declaration would preclude IMF lending to that deeply troubled nation.

Much of the program further develops the fascist reality of the underpinning of “Team Snowden.” Joined at the hip with Eddie the Friendly Spook and His Friends is the WikiLeaks milieu. In addition to apparent intelligence connections, the WikiLeaks political milieu tracks back to the far right in fundamental ways.

WikiLeaks held forth on the Pirate Bay web site, financed largely, by Carl Lundstrom, who also has been a financial lynchpin for the Sweden Democrats in Sweden. A member of that “former” Nordic superiority party was just arrested in connection with an apparent bomb plot.

The connection between Lundstrom and WikiLeaks was made by Julian Assange’s close aide Joran Jermas, aka “Israel Shamir,” a doctrinaire Holocaust denier. Jermas/Shamir is also part of the political constellation surrounding the MAUP educational establishment in Ukraine. MAUP is a doctrinaire anti-Semitic/fascist institution, at which David Duke is a lecturer and instructor. (Lundstrom arranged a Scandinavian speaking tour for Duke, who also networks with a Russian fascist milieu with which Jermas/Shamir operates.)

Snowden “leaking journalist of choice” Glenn Greenwald has been financially embraced by the media organization of Pierre Omidyar of EBay. In addition to helping to finance the Ukrainian coup and bankroll political support for Ukrainian Members of Parliament, Omidyar is now networking with the National Endowment for Democracy, a very important “soft power” institution that is very close to, and frequently operates on behalf of, the intelligence community.

It is impossible under the circumstances to cover our research into the Ukraine crisis. Previous programs on the subject are: FTR #‘s 777778779780781782783784794800803804, 808811817818824826829832833837849850853.

 Listeners/readers are encouraged to examine these programs and/or their descriptions in detail, in order to flesh out their understanding.

Program Highlights Include: 

  • A recent 35 percent turnout for an election in Ukraine, indicating a political disillusionment in that race.
  • Review of the political heritage of Pravy Sektor, one of the groups threatening the Poroshenko regime.
  • Review of the role of the “Paulistinian Libertarian Organization” in the Snowden/WikiLeaks “op.”
  • Glenn Greenwald’s work running interference for the “leaderless resistance” stragtegy.
  • Review of the National Endowment for Democracy’s projection of World War II-era fascists into Lithuania during the waning phase of the Cold War, setting the stage for the political rehabilitation of Baltic Waffen SS units.

1. Two different types of fascist cadres are operating in tandem in Ukraine–in addition to the OUN/B heirs such as the Pravy Sektor formations, Chechen fighters (almost certainly allied with some element of Muslim Brotherhood) are now fighting alongside them and under the Pravy Sektor administrative command.

The Chechen formations are described as “brothers” of the Islamic State.

The Boston Marathon bombing appears to have been blowback from a covert operation backing jihadists in the Caucasus.

“Ukraine Merges Nazis and Islamists” by Robert Parry; Consortium News; 7/7/2015.

In a curiously upbeat account, The New York Times reports that Islamic militants have joined with Ukraine’s far-right and neo-Nazi battalions to fight ethnic Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. It appears that no combination of violent extremists is too wretched to celebrate as long as they’re killing Russ-kies.

The article by Andrew E. Kramer reports that there are now three Islamic battalions “deployed to the hottest zones,” such as around the port city of Mariupol. One of the battalions is headed by a former Chechen warlord who goes by the name “Muslim,” Kramer wrote, adding:

“The Chechen commands the Sheikh Mansur group, named for an 18th-century Chechen resistance figure. It is subordinate to the nationalist Right Sector, a Ukrainian militia. … Right Sector … formed during last year’s street protests in Kiev from a half-dozen fringe Ukrainian nationalist groups like White Hammer and the Trident of Stepan Bandera.

“Another, the Azov group, is openly neo-Nazi, using the ‘Wolf’s Hook’ symbol associated with the [Nazi] SS. Without addressing the issue of the Nazi symbol, the Chechen said he got along well with the nationalists because, like him, they loved their homeland and hated the Russians.”

As casually as Kramer acknowledges the key front-line role of neo-Nazis and white supremacists fighting for the U.S.-backed Kiev regime, his article does mark an aberration for the Times and the rest of the mainstream U.S. news media, which usually dismiss any mention of this Nazi taint as “Russian propaganda.” . . .

. . . . Now, the Kiev regime has added to those “forces of civilization” — resisting the Russ-kie barbarians — Islamic militants with ties to terrorism. Last September, Marcin Mamon, a reporter for the Intercept, reached a vanguard group of these Islamic fighters in Ukraine through the help of his “contact in Turkey with the Islamic State [who] had told me his ‘brothers’ were in Ukraine, and I could trust them.”

The new Times article avoids delving into the terrorist connections of these Islamist fighters. . . .

2. Next, we examine an article written by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, the authors of Invisible History; Afghanistan’s Untold Story (See FTR #’s 678, 680, 683, 685.) Discussing Zbigniew Brzezinski’s doctrine of controlling Eurasia by controlling the “pivot point” of Ukraine. Fundamental to this analysis is the concept of the Earth Island or World Island as it is sometimes known.

Stretching from the Straits of Gibraltar, all across Europe, most of the Middle East, Eurasia, Russia, China and India, that stretch of land: comprises most of the world’s land mass; contains most of the world’s population and most of the world’s natural resources (including oil and natural gas.) Geopoliticians have long seen controlling that land mass as the key to world domination.  The population that occupies the middle of that stretch of geography is largely Muslim.

Utilizing that Muslim population to control the resources of the Earth Island is a stratagem that has been in effect in the West for a century.

Brzezinski utilized that gambit to lure the Soviet Union into Afghanistan and the presence of Chechen fighters operating under Pravy Sektor administrative command may very well derive from the same concept.

“America Pivots to Brzezinski’s Delusion of Eurasian Conquest” by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould; OpEdNews; 6/4/2015.

Russia historian Stephen Cohen points to the neoconservative establishment for America’s latest outbreak of what can only be referred to as late-stage imperial dementia. Neocons Robert Kagan and wife Victoria Nuland have certainly done the heavy lifting to make Ukraine the staging ground for what appears to be a NATO blitzkrieg on Moscow. But whatever the determination of the neocon plot, they are only the barking dogs of master imperialist Zbigniew Brzezinski, whose grand design has been creeping over the globe since he stepped into the Oval office as National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter in 1977.

Brzezinski stands apart as the inspiration for the Ukraine crisis. His 1997 book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives lays out the blueprint for how American primacists should feel towards drawing Ukraine away from Russia because, “Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire.”

Brzezinski’s obsession derives from British geographer Sir Halford Mackinder’s 1904 definition of the Central-Eastern nations of Europe as the “Pivot Area”, whose geographic position made them “the vital springboards for the attainment of continental domination.” Whether anyone realizes it, the Obama administration’s current campaign against Russia in Ukraine is of Mackinder’s design brought forward by Brzezinski.

To an expert like Stephen Cohen, the Obama administration’s indictment of Russia over Ukraine “doesn’t correspond to the facts and above all it has no logic.” But a look back forty years reveals that a lot of Cold War thinking wasn’t fact-based either and it may now be instructive to look for answers to Washington’s current dose of illogic in the covert origins of the U.S. supported 1970s war for Afghanistan.

As the first Americans to gain access to Kabul after the Soviet invasion for an American TV crew in 1981 we got a close-up look at the narrative supporting President Carter’s “greatest threat to peace since the Second World War” and it didn’t hold up. What had been presented as an open and shut case of Soviet expansion by Harvard Professor Richard Pipes on the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour could just as easily have been defined as a defensive action within the Soviets’ legitimate sphere of influence. Three years earlier, Pipes’Team B Strategic Objectives Panel had been accused of subverting the process of making national security estimates by inventing threats where they didn’t exist and intentionally skewing its findings along ideological lines. Now that ideology was being presented as fact by America’s Public Broadcasting System.

In 1983 we returned to Kabul with Harvard Negotiation Project Director Roger Fisher for ABC’s Nightline. Our aim was to establish the credibility of the American claims. We discovered from high level Soviet officials that the Kremlin wanted desperately to abandon the war but the Reagan administration was dragging its feet. From the moment they entered office, the Reagan administration demanded that the Soviets withdraw their forces, while at the same time keeping them pinned down through covert action so they couldn’t leave. Though lacking in facts and dripping in right wing ideology, this hypocritical campaign was embraced by the entire American political spectrum and left willfully-unexamined by America’s mainstream media.

At a conference conducted by the Nobel Institute in 1995, a high level group of former US and Soviet officials faced off over the question: Why did the Soviets invade Afghanistan? Former National Security Council staff member Dr. Gary Sick established that the U.S. had assigned Afghanistan to the Soviet sphere of influence years before the invasion. So why did the US choose an ideologically biased position when there were any number of verifiable fact-based explanations for why the Soviets had invaded?

To former CIA Director Stansfield Turner, responsibility could only be located in the personality of one specific individual. “Brzezinski’s name comes up here every five minutes; but nobody has as yet mentioned that he is a Pole.” Turner said. “[T]he fact that Brzezinski is a Pole, it seems to me was terribly important.”

What Stansfield Turner was saying in 1995 was that Brzezinski’s well-known hatred of Russia led him to take advantage of the Soviet’s miscalculation. But it wasn’t until the 1998 Nouvel Observateur interview that Brzezinski boasted that he had provoked the invasion by getting Carter to authorize a Presidential finding to intentionally suck the Soviets in six months before they even considered invading.

Yet, despite Brzezinski’s admission, Washington’s entire political spectrum continued to embrace his original false narrative that the Soviets had embarked on a world conquest.

For Brzezinski, getting the Soviets to invade Afghanistan was an opportunity to shift Washington toward an unrelenting hard line against the Soviet Union. By using covert action, he created the conditions needed to provoke a Soviet defensive response which he’d then used as evidence of unrelenting Soviet expansion. However, once his exaggerations and lies about Soviet intentions became accepted, they found a home in America’s imagination and never left.

The Brzezinski-drafted Carter Doctrine put the U.S. into the Middle East with the Rapid Deployment Force, China became engaged as a US military ally and detente with the Soviet Union was dead. The Reagan administration would soon advance on this agenda with a massive military buildup as well as expanded covert actions inside the Soviet Union by the Nationalities Working Group.

The Polish born Brzezinski represented the ascendency of a radical new breed of xenophobic Eastern and Central European intellectual bent on holding Soviet/American policy hostage to their pre-World War II world view. His early support for expanding NATO into Eastern Europe and Ukraine was opposed by 46 senior foreign policy advisors who referred to it in a letter to President Clinton as “a policy error of historic proportions.” Yet in 1999, the Clinton administration, urged on by what Time Magazine described as “Ethnic lobbying groups such as the Polish American Congress,” began implementing the plan.

US policy since that time has operated in a delusion of triumphalism that both provokes international incidents and then capitalizes on the chaos. A destabilizing strategy of sanctions against Russia, the American military’s training of the Ukrainian National Guard, US troops parading armored vehicles within 300 yards of Russia’s border and warlike statements by NATO leaders can only mean the US is committed to Brzezinski’s strategy of seizing the “Pivot Area” and holding it.

Today it’s Brzezinski’s son Ian who finds Moscow at the root of America’s problems regardless of the facts. He recently recommended to the Senate Armed Services Committee that the authority to make war on Russia should be taken out of President Obama’s hands and given to NATO’s top commander, General Phillip Breedlove; a man accused by the German government of exaggerating the Russian threat in eastern Ukraine by spreading “dangerous propaganda”.

The time has come for the American public to be let in on what US foreign policy has become and to decide whether the Brzezinski family’s personal obsession with fulfilling Mackinder’s directive for conquering the pivot of Eurasia at any cost, should be America’s goal as well.

3. The Daily Beast has a fas­ci­nat­ing inves­ti­ga­tion of the steps that are in place to assure that no Nazis from are receiv­ing US mil­i­tary train­ing and equip­ment in Ukraine. Despite official denials that neo-Nazis are being trained, between-the-lines reading and analysis reveals that this is probably untrue. The interior ministry of Ukraine is vetting the trainees and it is that ministry that controls the Azov Battalion and other, similar Nazi units.

“Is Amer­ica Train­ing Neon­azis in Ukraine?” by Will Cath­cart and Joseph Epstein ; The Daily Beast; 7/4/2015.

There are no doubts about the neo-Nazi and white suprema­cist back­ground of the Azov Bat­tal­ion, a mili­tia that has posi­tioned itself at the fore­front of the fight against Russian-backed sep­a­ratists in east­ern Ukraine. As the founder and head of the bat­tal­ion Andriy Bilet­sky once put it “The his­toric mis­sion of our nation in this crit­i­cal moment is to lead the White Races of the world in a final cru­sade for their survival.”

That Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and his pro­pa­gan­dists exploit this fact, using it to build sup­port for their aggres­sion and to under­mine the inter­na­tional effort to help Ukraine defend its inde­pen­dence, is unde­ni­able. But know­ing that, and want­ing to resist that, does not resolve some very impor­tant ques­tions about the basic facts.

What is the rela­tion­ship of the U.S. gov­ern­ment to these peo­ple? Is it train­ing them? Might it arm them? Is this, like the Afghan war of the 1980s, one of those cases where we aid and abet the kind of mon­sters who even­tu­ally become our ene­mies? Con­cerns about that pos­si­bil­ity have been grow­ing on Capi­tol Hill.

Because of uncer­tain­ties sur­round­ing the Azov Battalion’s role in the U.S. train­ing ini­tia­tive and wor­ries about the pos­si­ble sup­ply of shoulder-held anti-aircraft mis­siles to such char­ac­tersthe House unan­i­mously adoptedbipar­ti­san amend­ments to H.R. 2685, the “Depart­ment of Defense Appro­pri­a­tions Act of 2015.” And one of them specif­i­cally blocks train­ing of the “Ukrain­ian neo-Nazi para­mil­i­tary mili­tia ‘Azov Bat­tal­ion.’” Rep­re­sen­ta­tives John Cony­ers and Ted Yoho spon­sored the amend­ment to the bill, which was passed unan­i­mously by Congress.

This is in addi­tion to cri­te­ria estab­lished in an amend­ment to the For­eign Assis­tance Act of 1961, orig­i­nally spon­sored by Sen. Patrick Leahy, known as “the Leahy Vet­ting Process.”The Leahy process con­sists of screen­ing for­eign forces apply­ing for U.S. Gov­ern­ment train­ing and sup­port to cer­tify that they haven’t com­mit­ted any “gross human rights vio­la­tions.” If they are found to have done so, sup­port is withheld.

But the highly prob­lem­atic truth is that the U.S. cur­rently has no real way of ensur­ing that mem­bers of neo-Nazi groups like the Azov Bat­tal­ion are not being trained by U.S. forces, because most, if not all, have not com­mit­ted a “gross human rights vio­la­tion.” Even more dif­fi­cult to deter­mine is whether ex-U.S. mil­i­tary are train­ing crypto-Nazis in a pri­vate capac­ity, and the issues speaks vol­umes about the com­plex­i­ties that have to be con­fronted by the United States in its efforts to help Ukraine defend itself from the Russian-supported secessionists.

In an inter­view with The Daily Beast, Sgt. Ivan Kharkiv of the Azov bat­tal­ion talks about his battalion’s expe­ri­ence with U.S. train­ers and U.S. vol­un­teers quite fondly,even men­tion­ing U.S. vol­un­teers engi­neers and medics that are still cur­rently assist­ing them. He also talks about the sig­nif­i­cant and active sup­port from the Ukrain­ian dias­pora in the U.S. As for the train­ing they have and con­tinue to receive from numer­ous for­eign armed forces. Kharkiv says “We must take knowl­edge from all armies… We pay for our mis­takes with our lives.”

Those U.S. offi­cials involved in the vet­ting process obvi­ously have instruc­tions to say that U.S. forces are not train­ing the Azov Bat­tal­ion as such.They also say that Azov mem­bers are screened out, yet no one seems to know pre­cisely how that’s done. In fact, given the way the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment oper­ates, it’s almost impossible.

The Ukrain­ian Min­istry of Inte­rior brings what one U.S. offi­cial calls a “mish­mash” of troops, con­sist­ing of vol­un­teers, mem­bers of mili­tia bat­tal­ions and offi­cial army to be trained, and the Leahy process exists to check and see if any have com­mit­ted a “gross vio­la­tion of human rights,” which most likely they have not—at least not yet. But much less care is given to the ques­tion of ide­ol­ogy. When offi­cials are asked for details of any kind regard­ing how the vet­ting process actu­ally func­tions, answers are ambigu­ous, details are scarce and the expla­na­tions become contradictory.

In an inter­view with The Daily Beast, the U.S. Army Pub­lic Affairs Offi­cer from the 173rd Air­borne Brigade train­ing Ukrain­ian forces in Lviv in west­ern Ukraine, Capt. Steven Mod­ugno, says that no one from the Azov Bat­tal­ion or Right Sec­tor is being trained in Lviv because the embassy uses the Leahy vet­ting process, which is in place to make sure no one has com­mit­ted any kind of gross human rights abuses. When asked about mem­bers of the Azov Bat­tal­ion who have not com­mit­ted gross human abuses, more specif­i­cally how they are screened out, he says, “You know that’s actu­ally a great ques­tion. It’s one the State Depart­ment would need to answer.”

The Daily Beast then inter­viewed State Depart­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Press Offi­cer Yarina Fer­ent­sevych of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. Fer­ent­sevych told us, “At this point, as far as we are aware, no”—that is, no mem­bers of Azov. “Whether or not some may be in the lineup, that is pos­si­ble. But frankly, you know, our vet­ting screens for human rights vio­la­tions, not for ide­ol­ogy. Neo-Nazis, you know, can join the U.S. army too. The bat­tal­ions that are in ques­tion have been inte­grated as part of Ukraine’s National Guard, and so the idea is that they would be eli­gi­ble for train­ing, but in all hon­esty I can­not tell you if there are any on the list we train. There were not any in the first rota­tion as far as I am aware.”

Fer­ent­sevych con­firms that it is prac­ti­cally impos­si­ble to know which trainees are from which bat­tal­ion, “It’s a mish­mash of folks: vol­un­teers, sol­diers, war heroes, Maidan veterans—I mean I couldn’t tell you, you know, short of inves­ti­gat­ing the back­ground of each guy.”

At this point, she rec­om­mends that we speak to the press offi­cer of the 173rd Air­borne Brigade. We explain that he actu­ally directed us to her. She laughs. Wel­come to the United States Government.

When we asked PAO Capt. Mod­ugno whether it was pos­si­ble to detect all the Azov guys who are dis­persed into the national guard bat­tal­ions, he told us, “I don’t know if any of them could get through.” He explained that he is not an expert on the Leahy vet­ting process, but, “From what I’ve seen here, I haven’t seen any extrem­ists, I’ve seen patri­ots.” The act­ing head of Ukraine’s national guard, Mykola Balan, told The Daily Beast, “Azov hasn’t been trained by the U.S. mil­i­tary. Cur­rently they are at the front line.”

Regard­ing the Ukrain­ian government’s involve­ment in the vet­ting process, Capt. Mod­ugno explains that one sec­tion of the gov­ern­ment is doing all the heavy lift­ing, “I believe it is the Min­istry of Inte­rior that is pick­ing com­pa­nies to come here.”

The Azov Bat­tal­ion not only answers directly to the Min­istry of Inte­rior, but it is ingrained deeply in that struc­ture. The founder and head of Azov, Andriy Bilet­sky works closely with the Ukrain­ian Min­istry of Inte­rior and as the BBC reported last year, “The Azov Bat­tal­ion was formed and armed by Ukraine’s inte­rior ministry.”

Bilet­sky claims, how­ever, that his bat­tal­ion hasn’t been trained by the U.S. mil­i­tary. In a com­ment to The Daily Beast, he said: “No, Amer­i­can army rep­re­sen­ta­tives do not train and had never trained the bat­tal­ion. What I know so far is that there are reg­u­lar train­ing of the Ukrain­ian armed forces and Azov has noth­ing to do with it.”

Capt. Mod­ugno says that he is more of a “boots on the ground type of guy… When it comes to vet­ting and the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment, the most I can tell you is that we are train­ing at the request of the gov­ern­ment and where these guys come from and where they go—it is their [the Ukrain­ian government’s] deci­sion not ours.”

As for Amer­i­can pri­vate indi­vid­u­als train­ing Ukraini­ans else­where, Capt. Mod­ugno says, “I can’t tell you that no Amer­i­cans are there because any Amer­i­can who believes in a cause can go any­where in the world. I can tell you in an offi­cial capac­ity, no, there are no Amer­i­can forces east of Kiev.”

When asked if, in an offi­cial capac­ity, any Azov mem­bers have been trained by the U.S. mil­i­tary in the past he says, “I don’t know. I don’t want to say ‘no’ because I am not a big his­tory buff on mil­i­tary train­ing here. As far as I know, no. But I also know the U.S. and other nations have been doing exer­cises here in Ukraine since like 2002. Rapid Tri­dentis one of those exer­cises. I really don’t know what units would come to that because I believe that’s active duty mil­i­tary. So I’m not sure, but I don’t believe so.”

Capt. Mod­ugno con­tin­ues, “As far as who has been trained here on the ground, there were two com­pa­nies that came in the first rota­tion. They were called Jaguar and Chee­tah Com­pany. It is my under­stand­ing they were com­plete com­pa­nies when they came here. They aug­mented them with some of their war heroes from the ATO [Anti-Terrorism Oper­a­tions] from other loca­tions. They just grad­u­ated this past week. And right now we have the North and East Com­pany. They are kind of a mish­mash of dif­fer­ent units and sol­diers being trained here. Part of the Ukrain­ian government’s intent here is that when they grad­u­ate they’re actu­ally dis­pers­ing them through­out Ukraine so they can take some of these tac­tics and tech­niques and see what they’ve learned… to take back to their units.”

This is exactly the con­cern of many about who is being trained by U.S. forces in Ukraine.

“You know, I know I’m about to speak spec­u­la­tively here and I say that because I don’t know the entire process. But I do know that the State Depart­ment is very aware of the con­cerns that many news agen­cies and U.S. cit­i­zens have, that as [The Daily Beast’s]  arti­cle says, we’re train­ing neo-Nazis over here. I’ve seen them. I keep up on the news. I’m not say­ing that’s what we’re doing. I think what is really hap­pen­ing is the U.S. State Depart­ment is tak­ing a seri­ous look at these guys before allow­ing them to come here [to Lviv]. Again, that’s entirely spec­u­la­tive. But I think because con­cerns are so high, they’re being very careful.”

The cap­tain con­tin­ues describ­ing what he has seen on the ground. “With most of the guys that I’ve seen here though, I haven’t seen any­thing extrem­ist.” In order to con­vey the cul­tural diver­sity he has seen, he begins to name var­i­ous sects of Chris­tian­ity he has come across: “I’ve seen Roman Catholics; I’ve seen Mor­mon sol­diers on the ground both U.S. and Ukrain­ian; I’ve seen Lat­ter Day Saints; I just haven’t seen any­thing too crazy or any­thing you wouldn’t expect from any other military.”

When asked if there are any Jew­ish Ukrain­ian forces he replies, “You know that’s a fair ques­tion and one I can’t answer. I know on the U.S. side we’ve had Jew­ish sol­diers here. I don’t know for the Ukrainians.”

Chief of the Office of Defense Coop­er­a­tion for the United States Embassy in Ukraine, Col. Cyn­thia Matuske­vich, also denies that U.S. forces are train­ing any­one from the Azov Bat­tal­ion. Col. Matuske­vich says, “The [Ukrain­ian] National Guard has told us there are none and that they all went through the nor­mal vet­ting process that we’re required to do by the State Department.”

When asked for specifics on the vet­ting process she says, “Essen­tially, in its near­est sense, it’s like back­ground checks on indi­vid­u­als. I can’t really elab­o­rate, but we check with var­i­ous agen­cies includ­ing the con­sular sec­tion and they just kind of do back­ground checks. I can’t per­son­ally say what hap­pens in D.C. because I’ve never been on that end of the process but the State Depart­ment in D.C. is the ulti­mate clearer—if you want to call it that.”

When asked how the Leahy process weeds out Azov mem­bers, for instance those who have not com­mit­ted “gross human rights vio­la­tions” but iden­tify them­selves with the Nazis and even with the SS, Matuske­vich explains, “Unfor­tu­nately I can’t com­ment any­more—I mean we have Leahy require­ments and we ask for human rights vet­ting but I mean we don’t indi­vid­u­ally inter­view every­one and ask them what their indi­vid­ual philoso­phies are because we know peo­ple could lie. But we do our utmost to abide by the Leahy vet­ting and we work with part­ners that you know we trust and have told us that none of them are mem­bers of those organizations.”

As for the “part­ners” they work with, Matuske­vich says that they work directly with the Ukrain­ian National Guard, “which coor­di­nates all the trainees. They fall under the Min­istry of Inte­rior, so our polit­i­cal sec­tion at the embassy would be the ones who are deal­ing with them… The Ukrain­ian Gov­ern­ment, and I guess it’s in the form of the Min­istry [of Inte­rior] are the ones that nom­i­nate the can­di­dates for the training.”

When asked why the new House amend­ment would be nec­es­sary if the Leahy process was already in place, Fer­ent­sevych said, “That’s a good ques­tion, you should ask the con­gress­man.” So we did.

In an inter­view with The Daily Beast, Rep. John Cony­ers, Jr. (D-Mich.) said: “This is an impor­tant pre­cau­tion­ary action. The Leahy Law takes the essen­tial retroac­tive step of pro­hibit­ing assis­tance to units that are cred­i­bly alleged to have com­mit­ted gross vio­la­tions of human rights. The issue here con­cerns who is eli­gi­ble for aid in the first place, and Amer­ica must choose allies whose inter­ests and ideas align with ours. Con­gress can—and should—provide addi­tional guid­ance to the exec­u­tive branch when can­di­dates for U.S. secu­rity assis­tance are pub­licly asso­ci­ated with goals that con­flict with our for­eign policy.”

Fer­ent­sevych would seem to cor­rob­o­rate the need for the amend­ment, in effect, when she says, “If these guys have vio­lated human rights, then you would think that you would know. But human rights and ide­ol­ogy are two dif­fer­ent things. It’s kind of like hate speech, peo­ple talk trash, it’s one thing, but if they do some­thing about it, oh my God…”

When asked whether the Leahy process would screen out peo­ple with Nazi tat­toos, she responds, “I have no idea… I don’t know. Is it on their neck where all the world can see it? Or is it on their bum, where nobody can see it? I don’t know. I’m not a legal expert.”

This is an issue that sim­ply needs more atten­tion than “I don’t know” from the United States Gov­ern­ment. Even those most closely con­nected to the process seem unclear on the specifics of it.

As Con­gress­man Char­lie Wil­son, the god­fa­ther of Amer­i­can sup­port for the Afghan muja­hedeen once said, look­ing back on the dis­as­ter that fol­lowed their “vic­tory,” “These things hap­pened. They were glo­ri­ous and they changed the world… and then we fu cked up the endgame.” The United States’ desire to train Ukrain­ian troops comes from the right place—the need to stop Russ­ian covert and overt aggres­sion. The prob­lem is that the Azov bat­tal­ion is nuz­zled so deeply into the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment that they are nearly impos­si­ble to weed out.

4. We present another arti­cle on the exis­ten­tial threat posed by Ukraine’s Nazi vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions. It includes an inter­view of the leader of bat­tal­ion that isn’t reported on very much: the Saint Mary Bat­tal­ion. The leader of the bat­tal­ion asserts that the rev­o­lu­tion that began with the Maidan had been inter­rupted, but would one day be com­pleted. He doesn’t stop there, say­ing, “I would like Ukraine to lead the crusades...Our mis­sion is not only to kick out the occu­piers, but also revenge. Moscow must burn.”

It’s a reminder that if the vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions will really do col­lec­tively “march on Kiev” and over­throw the gov­ern­ment in a vio­lent coup, the march­ing doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily end in Kiev.

“Spe­cial Report: Ukraine Strug­gles to Con­trol Mav­er­ick Bat­tal­ions” by Eliz­a­beth Piper and Sergiy Karazy; Reuters; 7/29/2015.

From a base­ment bil­liard club in cen­tral Kiev, Dmytro Korchyn­sky com­mands a vol­un­teer bat­tal­ion help­ing Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment fight rebels in the east. A burly man with a long, Cossack-style mous­tache, Korchyn­sky has sev­eral hun­dred armed men at his dis­posal. The exact num­ber, he said, is “classified.”

In the eyes of many Ukraini­ans, he and other vol­un­teer fight­ers are heroes for help­ing the weak reg­u­lar army resist pro-Russian sep­a­ratists. In the view of the gov­ern­ment, how­ever, some of the vol­un­teers have become a prob­lem, even a law unto themselves.

Dressed in a col­or­ful peasant-style shirt, Korchyn­sky told Reuters that he fol­lows orders from the Inte­rior Min­istry, and that his bat­tal­ion would stop fight­ing if com­manded to do so. Yet he added: “We would pro­ceed with our own meth­ods of action inde­pen­dently from state structures.”

Korchyn­sky, a for­mer leader of an ultra-nationalist party and a devout Ortho­dox Chris­t­ian, wants to cre­ate a Chris­t­ian “Tal­iban” to reclaim east­ern Ukraine as well as Crimea, which was annexed by Rus­sia in 2014. He isn’t going to give up his quest lightly.

“I would like Ukraine to lead the cru­sades,” said Korchyn­sky, whose battalion’s name is Saint Mary. “Our mis­sion is not only to kick out the occu­piers, but also revenge. Moscow must burn.”

Such talk and recent vio­lent inci­dents involv­ing mem­bers of unof­fi­cial armed groups have raised gov­ern­ment con­cerns about rad­i­cals run­ning out of con­trol. Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko now says that all “ille­gal groups” must dis­arm because they threaten to make the coun­try even more unsta­ble than it already is.

“No polit­i­cal force should have, and will not have, any kind of armed cells. No polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tion has the right to estab­lish … crim­i­nal groups,” Poroshenko said on July 13.

The pres­i­dent said he might leg­is­late for emer­gency pow­ers to deal with armed groups, and that any­one armed who was not a mem­ber of the law enforce­ment agen­cies “will be classed as a terrorist.”

But inter­views with mem­bers of vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions and Ukraine offi­cials sug­gest it will not be easy for Poroshenko to impose his will. Some bat­tal­ion lead­ers, while osten­si­bly under the con­trol of the gov­ern­ment, are increas­ingly crit­i­cal of Ukraine’s polit­i­cal lead­ers. They want to press them to sack judges seen as favor­ing the rich and pow­er­ful, to oust oli­garchs who con­trol much of the econ­omy and to pros­e­cute the riot police accused of killing more than 100 peo­ple dur­ing protests early last year.

HAPHAZARD FORMATIONS

Most of Ukraine’s almost 40 vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions grew out of squads of pro­test­ers who bat­tled the Berkut riot police dur­ing the protests on Kiev’s Inde­pen­dence Square, or Maidan Neza­lezh­nosti, which began in Novem­ber 2013.

After the protests top­pled Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovich, pro-Russian sep­a­ratists rose up in the east of Ukraine in April, 2014, demand­ing inde­pen­dence from the new gov­ern­ment in Kiev, which they called a “fas­cist regime.” In response, sev­eral lead­ers of the Maidan protests raced east with fel­low pro­test­ers to try to stop the rebel advance.

Numer­ous brigades and bat­tal­ions formed hap­haz­ardly, with most lead­ers accept­ing any­one will­ing to fight. Ser­hiy Mel­ny­chuk, who founded the Aidar bat­tal­ion in east­ern Ukraine and is now a mem­ber of par­lia­ment, said he signed up peo­ple between the ages of 18 and 62 and “from the home­less to pensioners.”

Irreg­u­lar though the­ses forces were, some acquired weapons from the Defense Min­istry, offi­cials and bat­tal­ion lead­ers said. Oth­ers received money and equip­ment from wealthy oli­garchs. They became pow­er­ful forces in the strug­gle against pro-Russian separatists.

In an inter­view in Kiev, Mel­ny­chuk, wear­ing a cross around his neck and a wrist­band in the national col­ors of Ukraine, said that he had five men on the day the Aidar bat­tal­ion formed, but 250 within two weeks. They had all fought on the Maidan and “didn’t need mil­i­tary train­ing,” he said.

He con­ceded some Aidar mem­bers ran out of con­trol. “I don’t deny peo­ple were loot­ing there (in east­ern Ukraine),” he said.

Mel­ny­chuk now faces var­i­ous charges from Ukrain­ian pros­e­cu­tors con­nected to his time in the east. They include rob­bery and form­ing an ille­gal group; Mel­ny­chuk denies the charges.

In addi­tion, the human rights group Amnesty Inter­na­tional has doc­u­mented cases of abuse which it says were com­mit­ted by mem­bers of Aidar last year and “amount to war crimes.” The alle­ga­tions include abduct­ing and beat­ing men sus­pected of col­lab­o­rat­ing with pro-Russian sep­a­ratists, and extort­ing money.

Last year the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment tried to bring Aidar and other vol­un­teer groups under its con­trol. It ordered Aidar to reform into the 24th assault bat­tal­ion as part of Ukraine’s offi­cial forces. Mel­ny­chuk described that order as “crim­i­nal,” but said most of his men had demo­bi­lized or come under offi­cial con­trol by this year.

He and other bat­tal­ion lead­ers said that their sol­diers’ loy­alty did not always lie with the author­i­ties and that some groups still oper­ate beyond offi­cial control.

Mel­ny­chuk was scorn­ful of attempts to crack down on the bat­tal­ions, say­ing such moves had been pro­voked by Rus­sia spread­ing pro­pa­ganda. He said Rus­sia was scared of the bat­tal­ions because the vol­un­teers inflicted the most losses on the pro-Russian rebels, “so they pre­tend that we eat lit­tle chil­dren for breakfast.”

The polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in Ukraine remained dif­fi­cult and frag­ile, he said, crit­i­ciz­ing the lack of change in gov­ern­ment. “The (Maidan) rev­o­lu­tion was inter­rupted by the aggres­sion (in the east) and the patri­ots left Maidan and went to the east to pro­tect Ukraine,” he said. “Only 10 per­cent of peo­ple in posi­tions of power are new; the rest are all the same, pur­su­ing the same schemes they always did.”

Andriy Filo­nenko, a founder of the Tor­nado bat­tal­ion, was equally defi­ant about accu­sa­tions against his fight­ers. Eight mem­bers of the bat­tal­ion have been accused of crimes includ­ing rape, mur­der and smug­gling. Ukrain­ian offi­cials say one video shows a re-enactment of how mem­bers of Tor­nado forced two cap­tives to rape another man; they also say some 40 mem­bers of the bat­tal­ion have crim­i­nal records.

Filo­nenko told Reuters the charges were ridicu­lous. “I don’t under­stand all this talk about crim­i­nal records,” he said. “All I know is that peo­ple spilt their blood for Ukraine, for the motherland.”

Like Mel­ny­chuk, Filo­nenko said the “old order” was out to pro­tect itself. He said the charges were only made after the Tor­nado bat­tal­ion had uncov­ered what it said was a smug­gling ring involv­ing local politi­cians in east Ukraine. Offi­cials say the charges came before Tornado’s alleged smug­gling discovery.

Filo­nenko, who wore a black T-shirt with a red Ukrain­ian tri­dent on it, defended the battalion’s actions, cit­ing the vio­lence and lack of resources in the east. “It’s a war. They’re not hand­ing out sweets,” he said.

“Think of it this way: There’s a task, for the task you need a vehi­cle to get there and back – but they don’t give you any vehi­cle or petrol to ful­fill the task … You have to pick up wounded … so what do you do? … Of course, you stop a car and take it.”

“THEY STEAL A LOT”

Close to bank­ruptcy, Ukraine has strug­gled to imple­ment reforms demanded by the Maidan pro­test­ers. Its police and courts are still widely seen as favor­ing the pow­er­ful, and bribes are still used for every­thing from avoid­ing speed­ing penal­ties to get­ting into good schools.

For some pow­er­ful inter­ests, the rule of force, not law, remains tempt­ing. In March, a group of armed men in com­bat fatigues raided the Kiev offices of the state-owned oil com­pany Ukr­TransNafta. Two par­lia­men­tary deputies accused the bil­lion­aire Ihor Kolo­moisky, who harangued jour­nal­ists at the scene of the raid, of send­ing the masked men into the build­ing after one of his allies had been sacked as chair­man of the company.

Kolo­moisky is widely cred­ited with fund­ing vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions that defended the city of Dnipropetro­vsk and fought against pro-Russian sep­a­ratists in east­ern Ukraine.

Poroshenko moved to assert his author­ity, meet­ing Kolo­moisky in the after­math of the raid. As a result, Kolo­moisky stepped down as gov­er­nor of Dnipropetro­vsk, in the east of the coun­try, though he remains a pow­er­ful busi­ness fig­ure with polit­i­cal influ­ence. Kolo­moisky did not respond to requests for comment.

Inte­rior Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov told Reuters Ukraine was now “reboot­ing” all of its power struc­tures to start with a “clean sheet,” and at the same time try­ing to root out crim­i­nal ele­ments in the battalions.

“As in all big com­mu­ni­ties of peo­ple, there are dif­fer­ent types,” he said. “We must tell the truth: Some have looted and we will pun­ish them.”

He said that some armed groups “appro­pri­ated the names” of estab­lished bat­tal­ions and that “no one really knows where they are fight­ing or where they have fought.”

Ukraine’s mil­i­tary pros­e­cu­tor, Ana­toly Matios, says he is deter­mined to take action. He told Reuters he intends to take mem­bers of Tor­nado bat­tal­ion to court for their alleged offences.

“Who made the deci­sion, turned a blind eye to their crim­i­nal record and allowed them to become police offi­cers? Who gave them weapons and did not fore­see the pos­si­ble tragic con­se­quences?” he said in an inter­view at the prosecutor’s office. He said he wanted to check all police bat­tal­ions “in order not to have a sec­ond Tornado.”

Matios rec­og­nizes that his moves may prove unpop­u­lar. “I under­stand a very large part of soci­ety may even hate me for the thank­less but legal work that we do. It’s not com­fort­able at a min­i­mum.” On July 8, activists poured manure at the front entrance of his office. He described it as a paid-for protest.

In his bil­liard club head­quar­ters, com­man­der Korchyn­sky of the Saint Mary bat­tal­ion made his dis­dain for the gov­ern­ment plain. “Like the major­ity of Ukrain­ian peo­ple, I think (the new lead­er­ship) is bad … They steal a lot. When Yanukovich was steal­ing, that was bad. But these peo­ple are clear­ing up when the coun­try is at war, so they are guilty on two counts. This is marauding.”

He said the rev­o­lu­tion that began with the Maidan had been inter­rupted, but would one day be com­pleted. He did not say when.

If so, he will have to con­front Poroshenko. On July 16, the pres­i­dent, decried the prob­lems posed by unspec­i­fied “inter­nal ene­mies” of the coun­try. He told par­lia­ment: “I will not allow anar­chy in Ukraine.”

5. The  Euob­server has a piece on the grow­ing threat Right Sector’s show­down with Kiev presents to Ukraine and it con­tains this inter­est­ing aspect of the ever evolv­ing sit­u­a­tion: One of the key demands of Right Sec­tor and other vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions is that the gov­ern­ment offi­cially declare war on Rus­sia, based, in part, on claims that they have been engag­ing with Russ­ian troops in the East. But one (of the many) dan­gers asso­ci­ated with the Kiev gov­ern­ment actu­ally declar­ing war on Rus­sia is that the IMF can’t make finan­cial assis­tance pack­ages (aus­ter­ity “bailouts”) to coun­tries at war. And since open war between Ukraine and Rus­sia is a flir­ta­tion with WWIII, we might actu­ally be see­ing a sit­u­a­tion where IMF might actu­ally be pre­vent­ing fur­ther cat­a­stro­phe instead of caus­ing it. That doesn’t nor­mally hap­pen.

“Kiev’s Far-Eight Problem” by Alina Polyakova; Euobserver; 7/24/2015.

Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment has a prob­lem on its hands: A far-right group has tapped into grow­ing frus­tra­tion among Ukraini­ans over the declin­ing econ­omy and tepid sup­port from the West.

Right Sec­tor (Pravy Sek­tor) has a dan­ger­ous agenda.

In the most direct chal­lenge to Kyiv’s gov­ern­ment, Right Sec­tor announced that it will begin organ­is­ing a national ref­er­en­dum on the population’s dis­trust of Ukraine’s par­lia­ment, cab­i­net, and the president.

A call for an ille­git­i­mate and unmon­i­tored ref­er­en­dum against the gov­ern­ment will nei­ther unite Ukraini­ans nor help Ukraine’s reform­ers nav­i­gate the country’s dif­fi­cult eco­nomic situation.

The ref­er­en­dum call came at a 21 July rally in Kyiv at which the Right Sector’s leader and only mem­ber of par­lia­ment, Dmytro Yarosh, demanded that the government’s “Anti-terrorist oper­a­tion” (ATO) in east­ern Ukraine be called what it actu­ally is: a war with Russia.

He also called for a full block­ade of the separatist-controlled regions of Luhansk and Donetsk; and legal­i­sa­tion of all vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions fight­ing in Ukraine’s east, which the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary has been strug­gling to incorporate.

Yarosh refused to give up his seat in par­lia­ment but claimed that Right Sector–which is both a polit­i­cal party and a para­mil­i­tary organisation–would not par­tic­i­pate in the local elec­tions in October.

There is a glim­mer of good news for the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment. A major­ity of Ukraini­ans do not sup­port Right Sec­tor. The party holds one seat in par­lia­ment (Yarosh’s) and Yarosh received less than one per­cent of the vote in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions in May 2014.

How­ever, the gov­ern­ment would be ill-advised to dis­miss Right Sec­tor out­right. It must do more to address Ukraini­ans’ legit­i­mate con­cerns about their future, but the gov­ern­ment can’t do this alone.

Econ­o­mists agree Ukraine requires a much greater injec­tion of macro-economic assis­tance than the Inter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund’s promised pack­age of $17.5 bil­lion to bring the coun­try back from the brink of collapse.

The $50 bil­lion called for by George Soros is the min­i­mum “life­line” that Ukraine needs to sur­vive. With­out this injec­tion of finan­cial sup­port, groups like the Right Sec­tor will con­tinue to make polit­i­cal noise that dis­tracts from the real work that Ukraine’s lead­ers must do.

Right Sec­tor has surely been a thorn in Kyiv’s side.

The group’s meet­ing in Kyiv fol­lowed on the heels of a con­fronta­tion between Right Sec­tor, police, and local author­i­ties in the west­ern town of Mukacheve on 11 July. The shootout left five dead and four­teen wounded.

The armed con­flict in Mukacheve was, in part, a result of the government’s push to bring under con­trol the many vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions that have been fight­ing in Ukraine’s east.

Vol­un­teers return­ing from the front lines report fight­ing with reg­u­lar Russ­ian army forces, not Ukrain­ian sep­a­ratists. While the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment has repeat­edly said that tens of thou­sands of Russ­ian troops are fight­ing in east­ern Ukraine, it has refused to call the con­flict a war, pre­fer­ring to use the ambigu­ous ATO label.

The gov­ern­ment has a legit­i­mate rea­son for this ambi­gu­ity: call­ing the con­flict a war would cut off Ukraine from much needed finan­cial assis­tance from inter­na­tional lend­ing agen­cies, such as the Inter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund, which do not pro­vide assis­tance to coun­tries at war.

How­ever, as evi­dence of Russ­ian troops and mil­i­tary bases in Ukraine mounts, vol­un­teer fight­ers have grown frus­trated with the lan­guage from Kyiv’s officials.

As Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko’s falling approval rat­ings show (17 per­cent accord­ing to some polls), Ukraini­ans are get­ting fed up, too.

This frus­tra­tion should not come as a sur­prise: reform gov­ern­ments are rarely pop­u­lar, and this one has had to push through par­tic­u­larly painful reforms, includ­ing a 400-percent increase in gas prices and deep cuts in social programmes.

Groups like the Right Sec­tor, which claim to have Ukraine’s national inter­ests at heart, are sim­ply tak­ing advan­tage of pub­lic frus­tra­tion to ratchet up sup­port for their mis­guided agenda.

Despite its rev­o­lu­tion­ary rhetoric and anti-government stance, Right Sec­tor is unlikely to suc­ceed: Since inde­pen­dence, Ukraini­ans have shown them­selves to be cau­tious when it comes to sup­port­ing extrem­ist movements.

Still, it is impor­tant to take this dis­trac­tion for the gov­ern­ment in Kiev off the table. West­ern lead­ers must con­nect the dots: Ukraine needs eco­nomic relief and polit­i­cal sup­port. With­out this, oppor­tunis­tic and pop­ulist groups will con­tinue to divert atten­tion from the real chal­lenges ahead.

6. Indicative of the apparent despair experienced by much of the Ukrainian population, a recent election garnered a 35 percent turnout.

“This Crazy Ukrain­ian Elec­tion Shows the Coun­try Has a Ways to Go toward Reform” by Dan Peleschuk; Global Post; 7/27/2015.

The old and infirm crammed, cursed and com­plained as they fought for spots in line on Sat­ur­day under the oppres­sive after­noon sun.

On offer at a local park were goody bags of pantry items — things like sun­flower oil and sugar — cour­tesy of a well-connected mil­lion­aire eager to cast him­self as a man of the people.

That man, Hen­nadiy Kor­ban, just hap­pened to be run­ning for a vacant seat in par­lia­ment the next day to rep­re­sent a dis­trict in this charm­ing, provin­cial city north of Kyiv.

And what his team con­sid­ered an act of good­will most oth­ers saw as some­thing dif­fer­ent: brib­ing poor, unwit­ting voters.

The scene was one of many pecu­liar images to emerge from this city of around 290,000 in recent weeks as it pre­pared for a spe­cial elec­tion that cap­tured the national media’s attention.

The top two can­di­dates for leg­is­la­tor were accused of employ­ing an array of dirty tac­tics — from sim­ple mud­sling­ing to out­right vote-buying — in a cam­paign that observers believe under­mined Ukraine’s trun­dle toward cleaner democracy.

“Many peo­ple are talk­ing about the fact that the elec­tions for dis­trict 205 in Cherni­hiv are a very big step back­ward,” said Pavlo Pushchenko, the local head of a national vote-monitoring NGO.

By Mon­day after­noon, the elec­tion had come and gone, with early results giv­ing Ser­hiy Berezenko, the other top can­di­date, a hefty lead over Korban.

Vote mon­i­tors and local police said they reg­is­tered dozens of vio­la­tions on Sun­day, such as attempts at mul­ti­ple voting.

It was an undra­matic cli­max to a cam­paign full of crooked polit­i­cal tech­nol­ogy, as it’s known in this part of the world.

Both lead­ing can­di­dates were juiced in: Berezenko is a close ally of Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko, while Kor­ban is the right-hand man to one of Ukraine’s rich­est and most pow­er­ful oligarchs.

Nei­ther of them were even from the region, using elec­toral dis­trict 205 sim­ply as a spring­board into parliament.

Sunday’s vote was seen as a high-stakes proxy bat­tle between Poroshenko and a very rich man, Ihor Kolo­moisky, who has pub­licly chal­lenged the pres­i­dent and remains his top polit­i­cal rival.

That’s partly why the vote, a con­test between polit­i­cal mus­cle and big money, was so impor­tant to win.

Korban’s cam­paign was marked mostly by pub­lic hand­outs to cajole vot­ers — known in slang here as “buck­wheat” — and stag­ing lav­ish con­certs near his sleek cam­paign headquarters.

But he also took an active role in engag­ing his com­pe­ti­tion. A week before the elec­tion, his secu­rity detail cap­tured a car, allegedly belong­ing to Berezenko’s team, stocked with ammu­ni­tion and cash. Kor­ban claimed it was used to pay off voters.

Berezenko, mean­while, made full use of his ties to the president’s polit­i­cal machine, plas­ter­ing the city with its party col­ors. He was even given a posi­tion on a brand new gov­ern­ment advi­sory body for regional devel­op­ment. That gave him de-facto local author­ity — and access to purse strings — before the cam­paign even began.

Experts believe the goal was to reassert the pres­i­den­tial party’s author­ity in Ukraine, espe­cially before nation­wide local elec­tions later this year.

“The president’s team can­not lose,” said Volodymyr Fes­enko, a polit­i­cal ana­lyst in Kyiv.

In the days before the vote, there were reports of hired thugs from both sides roam­ing the city to stir trou­ble. Fake cam­paign leaflets, like one announc­ing Berezenko was drop­ping out of the race, made their way around town.

On elec­tion day itself, vot­ers had to choose from an astound­ing 91 can­di­dates, most of them spoil­ers, ana­lysts said, designed to draw votes away from the front-runners.

A par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar tac­tic is to reg­is­ter can­di­dates with sim­i­lar last names to con­fuse vot­ers — hence “Kar­ban” and “Kor­pan” on the ballot.

Both lead­ing can­di­dates reg­u­larly denied any sug­ges­tions of wrong­do­ing, each accus­ing the other of polit­i­cal manipulation.

But crit­ics say they’re actu­ally both guilty of tar­nish­ing the val­ues of the so-called “Rev­o­lu­tion of Dig­nity,” which many Ukraini­ans expected would over­haul the country’s cor­rupt politics.

Ihor Andriy­chenko, a local politi­cian from a lib­eral grass­roots party who came in fourth, called the elec­tion “a farce, a polit­i­cal the­ater of absurdity.”

“They were sup­posed to demon­strate real, trans­par­ent elec­tions: a bat­tle of ideas, com­pe­ti­tion, debates, intel­lect — any­thing else,” he told Glob­al­Post before the vote. “But def­i­nitely not ‘buck­wheat,’ and def­i­nitely not money.”

Many locals, mean­while, appeared either too unin­ter­ested or exhausted with the cam­paign to come out to vote. There was a 35 per­cent turnout, and city streets were notice­ably empty.

Some vot­ers even resorted to the clas­sic post-Soviet tac­tic of mark­ing up their bal­lots with obscene or irrev­er­ent messages.

Many locals, mean­while, appeared either too unin­ter­ested or exhausted with the cam­paign to come out to vote. There was a 35 per­cent turnout, and city streets were notice­ably empty.

“Some vot­ers even resorted to the clas­sic post-Soviet tac­tic of mark­ing up their bal­lots with obscene or irrev­er­ent messages.”

7. An elected mem­ber of the Swe­den Demo­c­rat party has been impli­cated in a plot to obtain large amounts of high explo­sives along with a man found to be in pos­ses­sion of Nazi para­pher­na­lia. We shouldn’t for­get that a pri­mary finan­cial backer of the Swe­den Democ­rats is Carl Lund­strom, who owned a con­trol­ling inter­est in the Pirate Bay site, which hosted WikiLeaks.

“Swedish Far-Right Politi­cian ‘Impli­cated in Bomb Raid’ ” by Dominic Hinde; The Scots­man; 7/22/2015.

An elected mem­ber of Sweden’s far-right Swe­den Demo­c­rat party has been impli­catedin a plot to obtain large amounts of high explo­sives with the poten­tial for use in ter­ror attacks.

The local politi­cian, who can­not be named for legal rea­sons, was detained along with three other men over the week­end in the Swedish province of Halland.

The four sus­pects were all arrested as part of an inves­ti­ga­tion into the dis­cov­ery of large quan­ti­ties of dyna­mite in a house belong­ing to one of the men.

The politi­cian was arrested by police as he attempted to leave the house in his car, in which detec­tives then dis­cov­ered dyna­mite blast­ing caps in a plas­tic bag.

The caps are nor­mally used to trig­ger larger quan­ti­ties of dyna­mite and plas­tic explo­sive from a distance.

The man was sub­se­quently released from cus­tody, but is still sub­ject to ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion by detec­tives. He claims that he was unaware of the pres­ence of the caps in his car accord­ing to reports in the Swedish news­pa­per Dagens Nyheter.

At the same time as police dis­cov­ered the mate­r­ial they also arrested a 30-year-old man, who neigh­bours claim had been car­ry­ing out test explo­sions on ground behind the prop­erty.

It is under­stood that the sec­ond man con­fessed to use of the explo­sive in a police state­ment. Two other men were also detained by author­i­ties as part of their investigations.

The 30-year-old man had pre­vi­ously been con­victed for attack­ing a foreign-born neigh­bour with an axe and was found to be in pos­ses­sion of pic­tures of Hitler, Ger­man war mem­o­ra­bilia and Nazi SS flags by police who searched his home.

It is unclear whether or not the explo­sives and asso­ci­ated equip­ment was intended to be used in an attack, but police have not ruled it out.

“That we can only spec­u­late on. We have noth­ing that points to such an attack at present, but are open to the pos­si­bil­ity” said Tommy Nyman, a spokesper­son for the Swedish Police force in the region.

SÄPO, the Swedish secu­rity ser­vice, have also begun an inves­ti­ga­tion into events.

“We have found signs that he had Nazi sym­pa­thies” added Nyman with regards to the 30-year-old sus­pect. “There are objects and sym­bols which you would link to ide­o­log­i­cal extremism.”

The politi­cian is not him­self sus­pected of pos­sess­ing such extrem­ist mate­r­ial, but it is under­stood the two men knew one another.

The Swe­den Democ­rats imme­di­ately issued a state­ment to the press say­ing that the party mem­ber arrested by police has been relieved of office. Founded as part of the Nordic white power move­ment in 1988, they have been forced to expel sev­eral mem­bers over alle­ga­tions of racism and extremism.

The party, who share a Euro­pean Par­lia­ment group with UKIP and strongly oppose immi­gra­tion, fem­i­nism and mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism, are cur­rently the third biggest in Swe­den. Until the mid 1990s mem­bers would reg­u­larly wear military-style uni­forms at meet­ings and two of their senior par­lia­men­tary deputies were involved in a drunken attack on the Swedish-Kurdish come­dian Soren Ismael with a piece of scaf­fold­ing in 2010.

Recent elec­tions have seen sig­nif­i­cant gains for right-wing pop­ulist par­ties in Nor­way, Swe­den, Fin­land and Den­mark on a strongly anti-immigration and cul­tur­ally nation­al­ist platform.

Swe­den has also seen an increase in attacks on Islamic and Jew­ish com­mu­nity cen­tres, with some now sub­ject to police protection.

8. The largest university in Ukraine is controlled by the MAUP organization, an institutional disseminator of anti-Semitic doctrine. David Duke teaches at the institution. Former president Yuschenko is on the advisory board, as was Leonid Kravchuk, another president of Ukraine.

Organized Anti-Semitism in Contemporary Ukraine: Structure, Influence and Ideology” by Pers Anders Rudling; Canadian Slavonic Papers; Vol. 48, No. 1/2 (March-June 2006): pp. 81-118.

ABSTRACT: In the wake of the Orange Revolution, Ukraine has witnessed a substantial growth in organized anti-Semitism. Central to this development is an organization, known as the Interregional Academy of Human Resources, better known by its Ukrainian acronym MAUP. It operates a well-connected political network that reaches the very top of the Ukrainian society. MAUP is the largest private university in Ukraine, with 57,000 students at 24 regional campuses. MAUP is connected to the KKK; David Duke is teaching courses in history and international relations at the university. Funded by Saudi Arabia, Libya and Iran, MAUP’s printing house publishes about 85% of the anti-Semitic literature in Ukraine. Until very recently, Ukrainian President Yushchenko and Foreign Minister Tarasiuk served on its board; former President Kravchuk still does. This paper is a study of anti-Semitism in Ukraine, of its intellectual roots, influence and strength. It traces the Soviet, Christian, German and racist political traditions and outlines the political ambitions of organized anti-Semitism in post-Orange Revolution Ukraine.

9. In addition to David Duke, Joran Jermas, aka “Israel Shamir,” is part of the MAUP constellation. Jermas/Shamir is a top aide to Julian Assange and, along with his son Johannes Wahlstrom (a bird of the same political feather) is in charge of WikiLeaks’ operations for the Scandinavian countries, Russia and Belarus.

It was Joran Jermas who offered Julian Assange the opportunity to host WikiLeaks on the Pirate Bay website, funded by Swedish fascist Carl Lundstrom.

“Anti-Semitism International: Ukraine University of Hate;” adl.org; 11/3/2006.  

MAUP: A University of Hate

  • MAUP is the main source of anti-Semitic agitation and propaganda in Ukraine. It organizes anti-Semitic meetings and conferences, regularly issues anti-Semitic statements and publishes two widely-distributed periodicals, Personnel and Personnel Plus, which frequently contain anti-Semitic articles.
  • At the same time, MAUP is a bona fide university (its English name is the Interregional Academy for Personnel Management), with more than 50,000 students enrolled at campuses in various locations. Business, political science and agriculture are among the subjects taught.
  • The anti-Semitic activities are directed by MAUP’s President, Georgy Tschokin, and a number of his colleagues. Tschokin is also the leader of the far-right Ukrainian Conservative Party.
  • MAUP has revived the notorious blood libel. In March 2006, MAUP leaders led by Tschokin paid their respects at the grave of Andrei Yuschinsky, a Christian boy whose death in 1911 led to the false conviction of Mendel Beilis, a Jew, who was eventually acquitted. The charges were based upon the notorious accusation of Jewish ritual murder.
    A MAUP publication alleged that Yuschinsky was “murdered by Jews with ritual purpose”. Tschokin is also campaigning for the Orthodox Church to canonise Yuschinsky.
  • White supremacist David Duke has close links with MAUP: he “teaches” a course on history and international relations, has been awarded a doctorate for a thesis on Zionism and was a key participant in MAUP’s June 2005 conference on “Zionism: Threat to World Peace”.  In October 2006, Duke addressed a MAUP audience on the subject of “Zionist” influence in the US media and signed copies of his book, “The Jewish Question Through the Eyes of an American.” Duke opened his speech by declaring: “The powers of globalism and Zionism are reaching out and they are trying to control the lives, the values, the culture and the foreign policy of every nation on earth”.
  • MAUP runs a number of kiosks in Kiev which specialize in anti-Semitic literature, including one located across the street from the “Hillel” club for Jewish students. Titles on sale include: “The Zionist protocols: sources and results”,  “Jewish syndrome” “Jews and economic life” and a book describing the infamous 1941 massacre of Jews at Babi Yar as “the third influential legend of the zhidovskoy catastrophe”.
  • On November 22, 2005, Tschokin issued a statement of solidarity with Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s threat to wipe out Israel. The statement blended traditional Christian anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism: “We’d like to remind that the Living God Jesus Christ said to Jews two thousand years ago: ‘Your father is a devil!’…Israel, as known, means ‘Theologian’, and Zionism in 1975 was acknowledged by General Assembly of UNO as the form of racism and race discrimination, that, in the opinion of the absolute majority of modern Europeans, makes the most threat to modern civilization. Israel is the artificially created state (classic totalitarian type) which appeared on the political Earth map only in 1948, thanks to good will of UNO…Their end is known, and only the God’s true will rescue all of us. We are not afraid, as God always together with his children!”
  • MAUP continues to boast of its ties with Iran. In March 2006, Tschokin received the Iranian Ambassador, Saed Ahmed Musavi Maleki, and negotiated a student exchange scheme between MAUP and Iranian universities. According to the MAUP website, the two men also discussed the building of a Ukrainian cultural center in Iran. MAUP representatives participated in an April 2006 conference held in Tehran under government sponsorship, entitled “Al Quds and the Protection of the Rights of the Palestinians”. There are widespread allegations that MAUP receives funding from the Iranian regime.
  • MAUP continues to maintain close ties with individuals in the Ukrainian political establishment. Of special concern is the relationship between MAUP and Levko Lukyanenko, a former dissident and former Ukranian Ambassador to Canada, who is a prominent member of the political bloc led by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Lukyanenko has blamed the terrible Ukrainian famine of the 1930s on a “Satanic” government controlled by Jews and has falsely claimed, in attacking the former Soviet regime, that both Lenin and Stalin were Jewish.
  • MAUP’s June 2005 anti-Zionist conference was attended by anti-Semites from all over the region, as well as Duke, French Holocaust denier Serge Thion and Israel Shamir, a Russian Jew who converted to Christianity and is notorious for publishing anti-Semitic essays on the internet. The Palestinian Authority representative in Ukraine, Walid Zakut, was also reported to have attended.
  • MAUP’s anti-Semitic activities can be traced back to at least 2002. MAUP’s leading figures have been at the root of attempts to bar Jewish organizations in Ukraine and, more recently, a call to ban “The Tanya”, a classic work of Hassidic Jewish literature, on the grounds that it promotes racism against non-Jews.

10. Mark Ames has a new update on the ever evolv­ing nature of Pierre Omidyar’s new media empire: First is now invest­ing in a new inter­na­tional “fact check­ing” ser­vice with the National Endow­ment for Democ­racy, which is inextricably linked with U.S. intelligence and frequently functions as a front for covert operations. He also invested in a Ukrain­ian news ser­vice set up on the eve of the Maidan rev­o­lu­tion. And it looks like there could be many more invest­ments in media orga­ni­za­tions yet to come because it now looks like the whole model for First Look Media has changed: instead of set­ting up a con­stel­la­tion of sep­a­rate inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­is­tic out­lets, First Look is just going to start invest­ing in exist­ing media enter­prises.

“What Pierre Did Next” by Mark Ames; Pando Daily; 7/31/2015.

The Guardian reported on Tues­day that the National Endow­ment for Democ­racy has just been banned from Rus­sia, under strict new laws reg­u­lat­ing NGOs act­ing as for­eign agents.

In that story, the Guardian cited the fact that Inter­cept pub­lisher Pierre Omid­yar co-funded Ukraine rev­o­lu­tion groups with USAID and the National Endow­ment for Democ­racy (NED).

If the Omid­yar con­nec­tion sounds famil­iar, that’s because it was Pando that first broke the story in Feb­ru­ary 2014 (the Guardian linked to our orig­i­nal scoop in its coverage.)

In the 18 months since we broke the story, Ukraine has col­lapsed into war and despair, with up to 10,000 peo­ple killed and one and a half mil­lion internally-displaced refugees — and top US brass talk openly of a new Cold War with nuclear-armed Rus­sia, while US mil­i­tary advi­sors train and arm Ukraini­ans to wage war on Russian-backed separatists.

Svit­lana Zal­ishchuk, one of the lead­ers of the Omidyar-funded NGO that helped orga­nize last year’s rev­o­lu­tion in Kiev, is now in power as an MP in Ukraine’s par­lia­ment, a mem­ber of the new, pro-NATO president’s party bloc. She’s gone from plucky Omidyar-funded adver­sar­ial activist, to head­ing a par­lia­men­tary sub­com­mit­tee tasked with inte­grat­ing Ukraine into NATO.

I can’t think of another media tycoon who co-funded a pro-US regime change with Amer­i­can intel­li­gence cutouts like USAID and the National Endow­ment for Democ­racy. That Putin tar­geted the NED does not mean it’s either heroic or evil—the NED’s story speaks for itself: The brain­child of Reagan’s CIA direc­tor Bill Casey, the National Endow­ment for Democ­racy was set up as an intel­li­gence cutout to sup­port US geopo­lit­i­cal power and under­mine unfriendly regimes. One of the NED co-founders, Allen Wein­stein, explained its pur­pose to the Wash­ing­ton Post:

“A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”

Through­out its 30-year his­tory it’s been mired in very typ­i­cal CIA con­tro­ver­sies: In the 80s, the NED was caught fund­ing an out­lawed extreme-right French para­mil­i­tary gang dur­ing Social­ist pres­i­dent Mitterand’s rule; fund­ing a mil­i­tary leader’s vic­to­ri­ous elec­tion in Panama against a more mod­er­ate civil­ian can­di­date; and financ­ing rightwing oppo­nents of Costa Rica’s democratically-elected Nobel Peace Prize-winning pres­i­dent, whose sin was oppos­ing Reagan’s deadly, dirty war in Nicaragua.

More recently, the NED was caught fund­ing groups that orga­nized the 2002 coup against Venezuela’s democratically-elected pres­i­dent Hugo Chavez; plant­ing a “free-lance jour­nal­ist” in the AP and New York Times to report on Haiti while the NED was simul­ta­ne­ously fund­ing rightwing groups to under­mine Haiti’s rul­ing party; and co-funding Ukraine regime-change groups with Pierre Omidyar.

This week, Omid­yar Net­work announced yet another part­ner­ship with the National Endow­ment for Democ­racy and the Poyn­ter Insti­tute to cre­ate an inter­na­tional online fact-checking hub. Given the power that a monop­oly on “objec­tive” fact-checking offers, the tie-up with the NED takes the Omid­yar alliance with the US empire and media to newer, creepier lev­els. In yet another Omidyar-as-private-arm invest­ment, Omid­yar invested in the slick new Ukrain­ian media, Hromadske.tv, which was set up on the eve of the Maidan rev­o­lu­tion with ini­tial seed fund­ing com­ing from the US Embassy in Kiev. Omidyar’s involve­ment in Ukraine media and “fact-checking” is all the more seri­ous given that now Wash­ing­ton and NATO talk about “coun­ter­ing” Russia’s over­hyped “infor­ma­tion war” on the West and on Ukraine—this “infor­ma­tion war” which I cov­ered a bit in my piece on Peter Pomer­ant­sev, is con­sid­ered a top and urgent geostrate­gic pri­or­ity for NATO and the West.

And now in the last week, the lat­est twist to the far­ci­cal “jour­nal­ism par­adise” shit­show: Omid­yar is report­edly in talkswith the king of online tabloid-sleaze, Nick Den­ton, to invest in the latter’s perma-sued orga­ni­za­tion. As Pando’s Paul Carr wrote ear­lier this week, the ground seems to be being pre­pared for a full-on merger of the Inter­cept and Gawker, backed by Omidyar’s cash.

As of yes­ter­day, Nick Den­ton appointedJohn Cook — for­merly edi­tor of the Inter­cept — to be the “tem­po­rary” exec­u­tive edi­tor of Gawker. When Cook departed the Inter­cept, he wrote that “Work­ing with my Inter­cept col­leagues has been one of the most ful­fill­ing things I’ve done in my career, and my deci­sion to leave was a painful one to make.”

At the same time, IBT reported that Chief Rev­enue Offi­cer, Michael Rosen, had resignedfrom First Look Media. Rosen’s depar­ture comes just a week after John Tem­ple, First Look’s “Pres­i­dent, Audi­ence and Prod­ucts,” stepped downfrom his job say­ing “There clearly is much excite­ment ahead for First Look, but I feel my con­tri­bu­tion is largely complete.”

Per­haps it’s a coin­ci­dence that both the guy who is in charge of build­ing an audi­ence for the Inter­cept and the guy tasked with mak­ing it prof­itable have left. Or per­haps not: IBT quotes a source explain­ing that “First Look would soon be mov­ing away from try­ing to cre­ate a con­stel­la­tion of mag­a­zines and begin to focus on empow­er­ing ‘con­tent cre­ators.’ That is, Omid­yar will be invest­ing cash in sites like Gawker, along­side his invest­ments in fact-checking sites and Ukraine rev­o­lu­tion­ary groups.

How will the Intercept’s audi­ence, which accepted Greenwald’s deci­sion to pri­va­tize the Snow­den secrets to Omid­yar, react if Omid­yar then sells jour­nal­ism par­adise to jour­nal­ism sleaze and the Snow­den secrets — our secrets, the public’s secrets — wind up as cap­i­tal assets in First Gawker Media?

Snow­den revealed that NSA spooks were spy­ing on their lovers online habits — how will that be mon­e­tized in First Gawker Media? Where will Denton’s 20% sleaze dis­count be applied?

11. Exemplifying the type of activity in which the NED specializes, we review information about that organization’s successful projection of Lithuanian Nazi and fascist elements into that former Soviet Republic. In FTR #848, we examined how the seeds sown by NED took root and flowered.

“NED Meddles in Lithuania: Nurturing Baltic Reaction” by Philip Bonosky; Covert Action Quarterly; Number 25 (Fall 1990).

In April of 1990, the Soviet Republic of Lithuania startled the world by declaring itself independent of the U.S.S.R. The U.S. has not yet recognized Lithuania as independent, and Bush’s public remarks have been moderate. But beneath this facade of calm statecraft there runs a familiar current of silent U.S. involvement in the political affairs of another country.

The most visible intervention has been via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which has supplied funds, equipment, and advice to the principal nationalist opposition party Sajudis. NED has chosen to funnel its Lithuanian aid through one organization: the New York-based Lithuanian Catholic Religious Aid (LCRA) and its propaganda arm, Lithuanian Information Center (LIC).

These two organizations are run by arch-conservative Catholic clergy. The founder, current board chair, and the man who has “presided over the steady growth and increasing effectiveness of LCRA, Bishop Vincentas Brizgys, was allegedly a Nazi collaborator during World War II. [Raul Hilberg’s The Destruction of the European Jews (New York: 1961), and Charles R. Allen’s Nazi War Criminals Among Us (New York: Jewish Currents Reprint, 1963), document Brizgys’s background. Allen reproduced Nuremberg Tribunal documents relating to the Bishop.] Brizgys vehemently denies the charge. Sajudis itself is linked in a variety of ways to the symbols and sentiments of the fascist and Nazi periods of Baltic history.

The Country in Question

Lithuania lies on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, bordered on the south by Poland, on the north by the Latvian S.S.R., and on the east by the Byelorussian S.S.R. [Soviet Socialist Republic–a member of the former U.S.S.R.] It is the westernmost extent of the Soviet Union, with a population (1980) of just over three million. In the 14th century invading Germans conquered the area and imposed the Catholic faith. In the modern era, Lithuania has been repeatedly buffeted by the shifting political and military map of Europe.

Lithuania declared independence from Czarist Russia in 1918, but in 1926, the nationalist party took power through a military coup. Declaring himself president Augustus Voldemares and his premier, Antanas Smetona shaped Lithuania into Europe’s second fascist state, based explicitly on the example of Mussolini’s Italy. Lithuania remained a dictatorship until 1939, when Smetoma fled to the U.S. and a new parliament voted unanimously to become a constituent republic of the U.S.S.R. With the German invasion of the Soviet Union 1n 1941, Lithuania’s nationalists returned briefly to power and assisted the Nazis in the swift, systematic slaughter of more than 130,000 Lithuanian Jews, communists and other “undesirables.”

Enter NED

In April 1990, a 34-year-old American, William J.H. Hough III, was very  busy in Lithuania. Hough was sent to Lithuania–although he doesn’t speak Lithuanian–as legal adviser to Vytautas Landsbergis, the leader of the nationalist party. He was recommended by LCRA/LIC, which the U.S. press has cited as very enthusiastic about his work.

Cooperating closely with Hough, LCRA/LIC has supplied Sajudis with paper, photocopy machines, computers, laser printers, FAX machines, and video cameras. With additional political and technical expertise, Vilnius quickly became a communications hub for secessionist forces in Lithuania and other Soviet republics.

Professionally,Hough is a lawyer. He was also an editor of The New York Law School Journal of International and Comparative Law, which published in its Winter 1985 issue his book-length article titled, “The Annexation of the Baltic States and its Effect on the Development of Law Prohibiting Forcible Seizure of Territory.” Hough describes the interwar period of Lithuanian history [its fascist period–D.E.] as one of “political and constitutional stability” and “progress toward the restoration of full democracy.” He fails to mention the collaboration of nationalists and Nazis. In his public justifications of secession, Landsbergis has frequently referred to Hough’s interpretation of Lithuanian history.

Hough’s history of Lithuania must be reassuring to NED’s ideologues and their Lithuanian clients, some of whom share a past they might reasonably prefer to forget.

Channeling Endowment Dollars

During the past two years, NED has granted $70,000 to LCRA/LIC. They are not obviously democratic organizations. Founded in 1961 to “provide the Church under the Soviet oppression with spiritual and material assistance . . . .,” LCA’s parent organization was the Lithuanian Roman Catholic Priests’ League. The quiet obscurity of this group belies the welcome they receive in the halls of power. LCRA executive director Father Casimir Pugevicius served on an advisory committee to Senator Charles Percy (Rep.–Ill.), then a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was also welcomed in the Reagan White House in 1986.

According to LCRA/LIC, its 1990 grant application to NED requested $618,300 and outlined its ambitious proposal as follows:

. . . . five separate pro-democratic organizations would receive technical and material aid. The first, a coalition of democratic parties enjoying broad support in Lithuania and capable of assuming leading roles in the new legislature would receive computer and audio-visual equipment . . . . Communications and video equipment will also be transported to the Sajudis Information Agency . . . . [According to NED, funds went only to  Sajudis.]

The second part of the project would ensure a continuous supply of much needed paper for independent publishers and organizations. The dramatic increase in the number of democratic groups in Lithuania in the past year has caused severe shortages in the very limited pool of resources. . . . Because of the greater degree of liberalization in Lithuania, this republic has emerged as the publishing center for the independent groups throughout the Soviet Union. . . .

Within weeks of the arrival of these goods, traditional sources of information in Lithuania were suppressed or taken over by Sajudis. Nationalist sympathizers cut off broadcast programming  from Moscow, and Lithuania was soon flooded with secessionist propaganda. In the ensuing election, Sajudis managed to dominate the scene by riding the crest of a wave of nationalist sentiment. It won a majority in the Seim (parliament). In March, a hastily convened session of parliament voted for secession (91-38) in a matter of hours. Laws were passed curbing opposition newspapers and changing the flag and national anthem, reverting to versions in use during the nationalist period. As to whether, or what, of real substance should change, Sajudis remained silent.

Echoes From the Past

To Lithuanians old enough to remember the Second World War, the energetic activities of Sajudis, LCRA, and LIC must seem vaguely familiar. Landsbergis’s father was a member of the Savandoriai (nationalist militia), who fought the Russians (1918-1919), helped enforce the successive dictatorships of Voldemares and Smetona, and collaborated with the German occupation.

A reporter for Der Spiegel wrote in April 1990 that: “Everybody fears Sajudis. Anyone who attacks Sajudis is declared an an enemy of the people by Landsbergis, and that happens very quickly.”  In addition the Savandoriai (illegal under Soviet law) have been revived under the leadership of retired army officers.

Prior to the German invasion in June 1941, a Berlin-based “Lithuanian Information Bureau,” the propaganda arm of the Lithuanian Activist Front, a nationalist exile organization, sent the following message into Lithuania:

. . . . liberation is close at hand. . . . uprisings must be started in the cities, towns and villages of Lithuania. . . . communists and other traitors. . . . must be arrested at once. . . . (The traitor will be pardoned only provided beyond doubt that he has killed one Jew at least.)

In the book Blowback, Christopher Simpson crisply summarizes part of the “liberation” that followed:

. . . . municipal killing squads employing Lithuanian Nazi collaborators eliminated 46,692 Jews in fewer than three months, according to their own reports, mainly by combining clock-like liquidations of 500 Jews per day in the capital city of Vilnius with mobile “clean-up” sweeps through the surrounding countryside.

Such squads were consistently used by the Nazis for the dirty work that even the SS believed  to be beneath the dignity of the German soldier. . . . .

On August 4, 1941, the Lithuanian Activist Front, installed a provisional government, taking care to cooperate fully with the Nazis. The invaders let president Juozas Ambrazevicius’s government stand for three months, during which time the worst of the killings occurred. After the war, Ambrazevicius fled to the U.S., where he changed his name to Brazaitis.

The crimes which prompted the post-war flight of many Lithuanian nationalists were starkly documented in the “Jaeger Report,” an official count by the SS officer who supervised the massacres:

Einsatzkommando 3 Kovno, December 1, 1941

Secret State Document

Summary of all executions carried out in the sphere of action of Einsatzkommando 3 up to December 1, 1941.

Einsatzkomando 3 took over its duties as security police in Lithuania on the 2nd of July 1941. . . . In compliance with my directives and on my order the Lithuanian partisans have carried out the following executions. . . .

What followed was a chronological accounting of the activities of the killing squads. Victims were neatly categorized: Jewish men, Jewish women, Jewish children, Poles, Lithuanian communists, Russian communists, Intellectual Jews, Lunatics, Gypsies, Political Instructors, Armenians. . . .

After the first 3,000 deaths, Jaeger apparently decided that the Lithuanian nationalists alone were equal to the task;

. . . . After organizing a mobile unit under SS-Oberstumfuhrer Hamann and 8 to 10 tried men of EK 3 the following actions were carried out in cooperation with the Lithuanian partisans. . . .

. . . . Before the EK 3 assumed security duties, the partisans themselves killed [4,000 ] Jews through pogroms and executions. . . .

. . . . I can state today that the goal of solving the Jewish problem in Lithuania has been reached by EK 3. There are no Jews in Lithuania anymore except the work Jews and their families. . . .The goal to clear Lithuania of Jews could be achieved only thanks to . . . men . . . . who adopted my goal without any reservations and managed to secure the cooperation of the Lithuanian partisans and and the respective civil offices. . . .

The final tally of those killed was 137, 346. As the report clearly indicates, the Nazis were assisted by both the paramilitary bands associated with the nationalists, and by those in positions of authority–including members of the Catholic clergy.

A Nazi Collaborator Prospers in Chicago

As auxiliary Bishop of Kaunas, (Kovno) during the German occupation, Bishop Vincentas Brizgys, founder of LCRA/LIC, lent his spiritual authority to fascism. When the Nazis retreated, so did he, first to Germany, then to Chicago where he has lived, worked, and carried the nationalist banner for 25 years.

The clergy hated socialism or very clear reasons. The socialist government which came to power in 1939 had separated church and state. Church property was confiscated, including large farms where peasants labored under semi-feudal conditions eliminated elsewhere in Europe centuries before. Clergy were removed from government and the educational system, two institutions where they had long wielded powerful influence.

Archbishop Skvireckas, Brizgys’s superior, documented the bishop’s collaborationist activities with evident satisfaction. The archbishop’s diary for July 1, 1941, reveals that Brizgys made contact:

. . . . with the representative of the German government for the Baltic statics. [Dr. Groffe, formerly head of Gestapo in East Prussia who] . . . proposed . . . . that he [Brizgys] should make an appeal to the people to behave quietly and pursue their daily business with confidence, without any fear that they might be harmed. . . .

On June 30, 1941, the archbishop had written: “The ideas in Mein Kampf on the question of the Bolshevik-Jewish contagion are splendid . . . . they prove that Hitler is not only an enemy of the Jews, but generally speaking has the right ideas.”

An appeal to welcome the Nazis was broadcast by radio, ten published in a major Kaunas newspaper, signed by Skviteckas, Brizgys and Vicar General Saulys. Their signatures were also on a formal telegram of thanks to Hitler for “Lithuania’s Liberation,” sent in the middle of July 1941.

As the Nazis and their collaborators implemented the diabolical logic of Mein Kampf, Brizgys “set an example for the entire population by forbidding the clergy to aid the Jews in any way.” He also urged from his pulpit, and via radio and newspaper, that Lithuanians cooperate with the Nazis.

When the Soviet army, led by its 16th Lithuanian division, drove the Nazis out in 1944, Brizgys fled to safety in Germany, then to the U.S. Send to the archdiocese of Chicago, he helped launch Lithuanian Catholic Religious Aid in 1961, and served as LCRA president until 1986. He is now chair of the board of directors.

Other Friends of Lithuanian Democracy

  • Director of Special Projects for LCRA/LIC is Rasa Razgaitis, stepdaughter of accused war criminal Jurgis Juodis. Because of his involvement as a nationalist military officer in the massacres of 1941, Juodis became the subject of a Justice Department Office of Special Investigations (OSIS) inquiry in 1981. In addition to her work with LCA, Razgaitis is head of “Americans for Due Process,” an organization “formed solely to challenge the activities of the Justice Department’s war crimes unit.” She is also a friend of Patrick Buchanan, through whom she gained access to the Reagan White House when Buchanan was Communications Director.
  • AFL-CIO president Lane Kirkland is a long time member of the cold warrior clique Committee on the Present Danger, and supports CIA manipulation of labor movements around the globe. Kirkland has welcomed Landsbergis as a friend during his U.S. visits. Kirkland’s name was on an open letter to President Bush published in the April 22, 1990 New York Times calling for immediate recognition of Lithuanian independence. Kirkland is on the NED board.
  • Richard Ebeling, vice president of the Future Freedom Foundation (FFF) of Denver, has been invited by Sajudis to lecture “in Lithuania, on the principles of freedom.” In addition, six Sajudis economists have met with leaders of FFF to discuss “free market proposals . . . .  made as radical as possible.” Among others discussed were the now-familiar calls for rapid denationalization of all industries and state prosperity; decontrol of all prices and wages, both in the consumer and production markets; and privatization of social services including medical retirement pensions. . . . . .

 

Discussion

2 comments for “FTR #857 Update on Ukraine, the Earth Island Boogie and “Team Snowden””

  1. And Ukraine’s War on History continues:

    AFP
    Ukraine bans dozens of ‘fascist’ Russian books

    By Dmitry Zaks
    August 12, 2015 3:47 PM

    Kiev (AFP) – Kiev’s public relations war with Moscow scaled new heights on Wednesday as Ukraine released a list of prominent Russian reporters and authors whose books will be banned from sale.

    Ukraine’s tax and customs service said 38 works by such Russian media celebrities as Sergei Dorenko and critically acclaimed author Eduard Limonov were targeted under the ban.

    The original request to seize the works was made in July by the state media committee — a controversial organisation that had earlier forbidden the broadcast of Russian movies and TV series that allegedly disparaged Ukrainian history.

    The television and radio watchdog accused the listed Russian authors of “promoting fascism” and “humiliating and insulating a nation and its people”.

    They were also accused of “promoting war, racial and religious strife… and threatening the territorial integrity of Ukraine”.

    Most of the people listed have appeared on Russian television throughout the course of Ukraine’s separatist conflict to defend Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014.

    Some of them have also branded as “neo-Nazis” the pro-Western leaders who emerged in the wake of the February 2014 ouster in Kiev of a Moscow-backed president.

    The subsequent pro-Kremlin uprising that broke out in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking east has claimed the lives of more than 6,800 people and sunk Moscow’s relations with the West to a post-Cold War low.

    But it has also created furious battles in Ukraine and Russia for the hearts and minds of both local and global audiences.

    The propaganda campaigns have been accompanied by state-sponsored censorship and crackdowns on independent artists in both countries.

    Ukraine has forbidden several Russian singers from performing in Kiev-controlled towns and cities.

    Performances by popular Ukrainian rock groups have also been cancelled in some Russian venues without a formal explanation.

    Some Ukrainian officials called their blacklist a token gesture that would probably have little to no real affect.

    “It is hard to say how enforceable these measures can be in the Internet age,” Deputy Information Policy Minister Tetyana Popova told AFP.

    “This is more of a demonstrative step,” she said.

    Yes, if all goes according to plan (where the plan seems to involve people not just using the internet to access the banned content), all of those bad memories of Ukraine’s past will fade into history, and a new memory can take hold. A new memory crafted by the former head of the secret-police archives who now heads the new Institute of National Memory:

    The Nation
    How Ukraine’s New Memory Commissar Is Controlling the Nation’s Past
    Volodymyr Viatrovych was the driving force behind new laws that restrict free speech and regulate how history is written.
    By
    Jared McBride
    8/13/2015 10:00 am

    Since the Maidan uprising and the subsequent attacks on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territory by Russia and Russian-backed rebels, there has been intense debate on how to interpret not only Ukraine’s dramatic present, but also its complex and difficult past. Against the background of military and diplomatic struggles, the representation of Ukraine’s history is also embattled, especially the period of World War II. Russian elites have labeled anything and everything they do not like about past and present Ukraine as “fascist.” Partly this is a reflex due to the memory of right-wing Ukrainian nationalism during the first half of the twentieth century; partly this is the result of a failure to find any better way to express anger at Ukraine’s turn to the West. There has been no shortage of Western commentators attacking this crude propaganda.

    However, among representatives of Kiev’s new post-revolutionary elites, unbiased engagement with Ukraine’s past has also been a challenge. But while the West is pillorying Russian distortions, it is much less at ease criticizing Ukrainian ones: Few Western observers feel sympathy for Putin’s involvement in Ukraine (I myself have none). There are many, however, who seem to welcome any historical narrative ruffling Russia’s feathers or appearing “pro-Ukrainian” or “national” (in reality, quite often nationalist), as the nation is facing outside aggression and domestic crisis. Yet this form of “support” is a disservice—to Ukraine and also to the West’s public and decision-makers. It is alarming that some Western journalists, scholars, and policy-makers are embracing a nationalist version of Ukrainian history that resonates only with part of Ukrainian society and not at all with serious academic discourse in Europe and North America.

    Front and center in the efforts to produce a nationalist version of Ukrainian history is the former director of the country’s secret-police archives (SBU) and new director of the Institute of National Memory (or UINP) under the current government of President Petro Poroshenko: Volodymyr Viatrovych. Viatrovych (born 1977), from the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, first stepped onto the national scene when he was put in charge of the archive section of the newly created Institute of National Memory in 2008 and then head of the SBU archives later that year. In these influential positions, he helped in the effort to “exonerate” a key World War II Ukrainian nationalist leader of any complicity in the Holocaust; presented the nationalist Ukrainian Insurgent Army as a democratic organization open to Jewish members; and focused heavily on Ukrainian victimization during the famine of the 1930s (while, interestingly, also blaming Jews as perpetrators).

    Viatrovych has made a name for himself as a political activist by instrumentalizing his scholarly credentials. Both before and after his secret-service archive tenure, he was the head of the Center for the Study of the Liberation Movement (or Tsentr Doslidzhen’ Vyzvol’noho Rukhu, TsDVR) in Lviv. The research center is funded by private money from Ukrainian groups abroad that have helped shape its research agenda. The unambiguous goal of the center is to paint the Ukrainian nationalists, in particular the OUN and UPA (two of the most important Ukrainian nationalist organizations from the interwar and World War II period), as “liberators” from Soviet, Polish, and German oppression. Radical right-wing Ukrainian nationalists are depicted as nothing but tragic freedom fighters, occasionally forced to don Nazi uniforms to struggle for independence, liberty, and Western values. This is the party line at the center, one largely shaped by Viatrovych.

    Viatrovych’s own “scholarly” output echoes the goals of his center. In a number of publications he has covered a laundry list of flashpoints in 20th-century Ukrainian history, from the vicious anti-Jewish pogroms of World War I through Ukrainian-Polish violence during and after World War II. What unifies his approach is a relentless drive to exculpate Ukrainians of any wrongdoing, no matter the facts. For example, concerning Ukrainian nationalist involvement in the Holocaust, in Viatrovych’s world, collaboration never happened or was coerced and, at any rate, can’t be blamed on nationalism; all evidence to the contrary is blithely assigned to Soviet lies. On the nationalist ethnic cleansing of Poles in 1943-44, Viatrovych lets us know that that was a sort of tragic but symmetrical warfare. And as we all know, war is cruel and bad things happen. When confronted with the fact that the head of UPA, Roman Shukhevych, served the Nazis until 1943 as commander of a mobile police battalion that murdered thousands of civilians in Belarus, Viatrovych responded: “Is it possible to consider Poles or Belarusians a peaceful population, if, during the day, they work as ordinary villagers, only to arm themselves in the evening and attack the village?” In other words, civilians are fair targets, especially for “heroes” of Ukraine in the service of Nazis.

    In the academic world, such tactics have their limits. But when confronted with solid archival evidence contrary to his stories, such as orders from OUN-UPA leadership to cleanse the Polish population of Volhynia, Viatrovych simply claims that documents are Soviet forgeries or that scholars challenging him are serving sinister propaganda purposes. Selectivity rules: If there is no smoking-gun document for nationalist crimes, it’s exculpatory; when there is no smoking-gun document for premeditated Soviet genocide against Ukrainians, it’s a result of KGB cunning. Viatrovych deals with video testimonial archives and the integration of witness testimony into history with bravado, simply ignoring them (and especially Jewish voices) altogether when he dislikes what they have to tell us. This abysmal ethical and methodological approach has been challenged by scholars from Poland, Scandinavia, Germany, Canada, and the United States, in addition to a few brave Ukrainian ones. These scholars have written excoriating reviews of his works. Unlike his writings, these reviews were published in peer-reviewed journals.

    There are no career repercussions for poor scholarship when you are a political activist. Thanks to his credentials as “former SBU archive director,” director of a prominent “research” institute, and a brief stint as a research fellow at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute (HURI), which show up in every bio-blurb possible, Viatrovych is cited frequently in the Ukrainian media. Ironically, as he has gained more negative attention from scholars, he has traversed a different arc in Ukraine—increasingly trusted as a voice of wisdom, a young, fresh force promising to defend and promote Ukraine’s history, here understood as the glorious record of Ukrainian nationalism. It was no surprise when in late 2014 President Poroshenko chose him as head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory, a government body originally created by then President Yushchenko to support research and forge a national memory policy.

    Viatrovych wasted little time after this appointment. He became the driving force behind the so-called de-communization laws that were put on the books this spring. In reality, these laws regulate how history should be written and place restrictions on free speech, and thus are deeply at odds with Kiev’s claims to Western values. Law No. 2538-1, “On the legal status and honoring of fighters for Ukraine’s independence in the 20th century,” states that “the public denial of…the just cause of the fighters for Ukrainian independence in the 20th century insults the dignity of the Ukrainian people and is illegal.” The fighters for Ukrainian independence explicitly include the World War II nationalists of the OUN and UPA. In essence, this law makes it at least very risky to criticize them or point out the crimes in which they participated. As with similar Putinist legislation in Russia—namely Article 354.1, which criminalizes any deviations from the Kremlin’s version of World War II and was passed by the Russian Duma in 2014—the very vagueness of phrasing is a handy weapon of potential repression: it is a disturbing mystery how the state or other accusers are going to determine who insulted the dignity of violent ethnic cleansers and happy authoritarians or how the courts are going to prosecute those guilty of such thought crimes. Law No. 2540, “On access to the archives of repressive organizations of the communist totalitarian regime from 1917-1991,” puts all secret-police archives under the control of the National Memory Institute in Kiev, headed by Viatrovych.

    These new laws have been criticized in a number of journals and magazines. Why they are deeply flawed should be obvious to anybody committed to even elementary principles of free speech and democracy. The reaction to the laws was predictable: first, there was a response from the Western academic community. Seventy leading scholars, including some from Eastern Europe, signed an open letter protesting the laws. Other organizations, such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum warned of their dangers. Foreign media outlets also took notice. Yet, despite the outcry, except for a few articles by Western scholars, there has been little discussion of Viatrovych’s personal role in making the laws or the larger backdrop of aggressive history politics, going back to 2005.

    A few of the most prominent Ukrainian intellectuals provided commentary that half-heartedly condemned a crackdown on free speech, but they focused on questioning the attitude of Western scholars protesting against the laws. Other Ukrainian commentators have provided rather muted criticism of the laws, less because of the politicization of history and more due to issues of financial and privacy concerns. Only a few Ukrainian commentators did condemn the laws on principled grounds related to academic freedom and historical revisionism.

    Sadly, the Ukrainian-diaspora scholarly community in North America has often supported these restrictive laws. Regarding Viatrovych, they see no problem with having a partisan political activist in charge of the country’s secret-police archives; rather the foreign scholars and their “insensitive research” agendas that discuss the dark spots of Ukraine’s history are the real problem for Ukraine. In a recent roundtable interview with two well-known scholars and one member of the Ukrainian-American community, Western scholars were described as “neo-Soviet” and their response as “quasi-hysterical.” In a misplaced “post-colonial” twist, the “propriety or authority of foreigners to instruct Ukraine’s elected representatives as to whom they wish to acknowledge or memorialize and why” was questioned. The laws were praised as the answer to outside tampering in Ukraine’s history. On the issue of free speech, there was hedging. In an Orwellian key, Alexander Motyl, a political scientist at Rutgers University-Newark, went as far as to compare Ukraine’s history regulation laws to civil rights laws, women’s rights, and laws protecting the gay community in the United States. This is not the first time Motyl’s analogies to US history have caused shock in various scholarly communities.

    There has been little controversy in the West about putting Ukraine’s secret-police archives in Viatrovych’s hands: the responses from Ukrainian intelligentsia have ranged from joy to muted concerns about privacy issues. Motyl excitedly called the archives law a “coup for freedom and justice”—unsurprisingly, given that he is perhaps the only scholar to have praised Viatrovych’s recent book. Outside of perceptive pieces in Ukrainian by Vasyl Rasevych, a historian and writer, and Stanislav Serhiienko, an activist and writer, about the dangers of archive tampering, few commenters, including those in the West, seem to worry about the potential manipulation of the archives. The dialectics of national liberalism aside, Motyl’s term “coup” is an apposite Freudian slip. We might ask ourselves why a nation’s most politically sensitive document collection should be entrusted with a political activist interested in one and only one version of the past, rather than putting them under the auspices of the central state archive administration. A while ago, when a Communist was director of Ukraine’s archival administration, Western observers were worried. The failure to worry when a nationalist defending the record of right-wing authoritarians takes over the national memory project and the secret-police files is disturbing.

    If the response from the diaspora-oriented scholarly community to the laws and Viatrovych’s appointment has been scandalous, the naïveté with which some Western observers have embraced the nationalist narrative is even more troubling. Following the Maidan revolution, Viatrovych is now cited as a voice of knowledge in the Ukrainian and Western media. The Christian Science Monitor has quoted him in an article about Ukraine’s past, where he explained that to dispel “myths” Ukraine should “create an open, national dialogue.” With no acknowledgment (or, probably, knowledge) of Viatrovych’s background as a myth-maker-in-chief himself, the article uncritically presents him as a voice for the future.

    Even more egregious was the article “Is There a Future for Ukraine?” by Peter Pomerantsev, a journalist and producer who writes frequently on Russia, which appeared in The Atlantic in July 2014. Pomerantsev interviewed and profiled Viatrovych as a carrier of hope for Ukraine’s future. Pomerantsev has managed to recognize in Viatrovych “a liberal nationalist,” working to “create a Ukrainian identity”—strange praise for a man claiming to be a scholar, a profession usually engaged in open-ended inquiry, not identity building. Pomerantsev tells his readers that Viatrovych is “best known for his work on reformatting Ukraine’s relationship to the Second World War,” which is both an understatement and a horribly revealing choice of terms. In his mostly uncritical portrayal, he writes that Viatrovych “believes he can help bridge these divisions [in Ukrainian society] and create a story that is at once nationalist and integrationist.” When asked about a positive unifying message, Viatrovych matter-of-factly tells him that Russians want “tyranny” and Ukrainians want “freedom.” Pomerantsev swallows this bigoted statement of frank stereotype about large populations with no response, since compared to the overtly racist Ukrainian nationalist he interviewed in the first part of the same article, Viatrovych comes across as less brutal. But perhaps also because “we” in the West now consider it good form to cut a Ukrainian nationalist more slack than a Russian.

    To be sure, the Russian aggression against Ukraine has forced scholars and other onlookers to take sides. Many Western observers, including this author, support Ukraine’s struggle for democracy and sovereignty. What parts of the Western media, academia, and public-policy world have failed to grasp is that supporting partisan political operatives self-spinning as “national liberals” and objective scholars will do nothing to further Ukraine’s cause. One would think we had learned a key lesson of the Cold War: that the crude calculus of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is wrong-headed. As for academic freedom, Ukrainians should have the opportunity to struggle with, write about, and argue over their own history in all of its glory and all its darker sides without threats, implicit or explicit. Part of this freedom would include cooperation and debate among scholars from many nations. Ukrainians do not need any more commissars to tell them what they are allowed to say or think, neither in the name of Communism, as in the bad old days, nor of nationalism. Moving forward includes leaving that paternalistic model behind for good.

    And, once again, here’s the background of the guy running Ukraine’s new Institute of National Memory (so we don’t forget):


    Viatrovych has made a name for himself as a political activist by instrumentalizing his scholarly credentials. Both before and after his secret-service archive tenure, he was the head of the Center for the Study of the Liberation Movement (or Tsentr Doslidzhen’ Vyzvol’noho Rukhu, TsDVR) in Lviv. The research center is funded by private money from Ukrainian groups abroad that have helped shape its research agenda. The unambiguous goal of the center is to paint the Ukrainian nationalists, in particular the OUN and UPA (two of the most important Ukrainian nationalist organizations from the interwar and World War II period), as “liberators” from Soviet, Polish, and German oppression. Radical right-wing Ukrainian nationalists are depicted as nothing but tragic freedom fighters, occasionally forced to don Nazi uniforms to struggle for independence, liberty, and Western values. This is the party line at the center, one largely shaped by Viatrovych.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 14, 2015, 2:51 pm
  2. @ Pterrafractyl–

    In FTR #781 (http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-781-alls-well-thats-orwell-the-ministry-of-truth-and-the-ukrainian-crisis-yuschenko-uber-alles/), we examined how Viatrovych was appointed by Victor Yuschenko to “restructure” Ukrainian history in a pro-OUN/UPA manner.

    Viatrovych is an OUN operative. At the same time, Yuschenko’s wife, the former Ykaterina Chumachenko, was a member of the UCCA, the top OUN/B front organization in the U.S.

    Of course, Chumachenko/Yuschenko was also Ronald Reagan’s former Deputy Director of Public Liaison.
    (http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-778-the-ounb-file-part-2/)

    Yuschenko’s Minister of Justice (the equivalent of Attorney General in the U.S.) was Roman Svarych, the personal secretary to Yaroslav Stetsko in the early ’80’s. (http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-794-the-fires-this-time-update-on-the-ukraine/)

    Svarych is an adviser to Poroshenko, who has re-constituted “Team Yuschenko.” (http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-794-the-fires-this-time-update-on-the-ukraine/)

    (Stetsko was the World War II leader of Ukraine and presided over the slaughter of scores of thousands of “ethnically undesirables”.)

    The Orwellian progression here is striking.

    Very important to understand in this context is the Crusade For Freedom, reviewed in the description for FTR #858, to be recorded and published shortly.

    Keep up the great work!

    Dave Emory

    Posted by Dave Emory | August 14, 2015, 3:19 pm

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