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

For The Record  

FTR #916 Update on Fascism in Ukraine

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

Symon Petliura

Symon Petliu­ra

Intro­duc­tion: Con­tin­u­ing cov­er­age of the re-emer­gence of fas­cism in Ukraine, this pro­gram high­lights the Orwellian aspects of gov­er­nance in Ukraine and the cov­er­age of events there by the world’s media. Ukraine recent­ly held a nation-wide minute of silence for Symon Petliu­ra (as with oth­er Ukrain­ian names, the spelling of his name is sub­ject to vary­ing translit­er­a­tion.) In the imme­di­ate post-World War I peri­od, Petli­u­ra’s armies butchered some 50,000 Jews.

Also stun­ning, though pre­dictable under the cir­cum­stances, is the Poroshenko gov­ern­men­t’s renam­ing of streets for Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors Stephan Ban­dera and Roman Shukhevych. This has received scant, and alto­geth­er slant­ed cov­er­age in the West, with Ban­der­a’s well-doc­u­ment­ed alliance with Hitler being nuanced as “Krem­lin pro­pa­gan­da.”

Loom­ing large in the back­ground of the whole­sale revi­sion­ism going on in Ukraine are the activ­i­ties of Volodomyr Via­tro­vych and his “Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­o­ry.”

One of the per­ceived jour­nal­is­tic counter-weights to the ram­pant anti-Semit­ic and pro-Nazi revi­sion­ism dom­i­nat­ing Ukraine is the Jew­ish her­itage of the new prime min­is­ter Volodymir Groys­man. We note that Groys­man­’s law degree was from MAUP uni­ver­si­ty, the well­spring of Ukrain­ian anti-Semi­tism and an insti­tu­tion that fea­tured David Duke as a fac­ul­ty mem­ber.

Next, we exam­ine some of the “shared val­ues” that the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment has with the West. Much has been made of this illu­so­ry res­o­nance in the wake of the Maid­an coup.

In addi­tion to bar­ring U.N. observers from inves­ti­gat­ing tor­ture that was appar­ent­ly com­mit­ted in Ukraine’s civ­il war, a web­site close­ly con­nect­ed to the gov­ern­ment has pub­lished the names and address­es of jour­nal­ists who report­ed from the eth­nic-Russ­ian rebel-held East. Those jour­nal­ists were brand­ed as “ter­ror­ists,” a label that should be alarm­ing in light of the mur­der of a jour­nal­ist who had been sym­pa­thet­ic to the cause of the rebels.

Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, recently-resigned head of Ukrainian intelligence under Yuschenko and Poroshenko

Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko, recent­ly-resigned head of Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence under Yuschenko and Poroshenko

Turn­ing to the sub­ject of the down­ing of Malaysian Air­lines Flight MH-17, we note that observers are view­ing much of the evi­dence in the case with a jaun­diced eye, because of the fact that the SBU (Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence) was run by Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko, close­ly allied with Pravy Sek­tor (Right Sec­tor), one of the OUN/B heirs that assumed pow­er after the Maid­an coup. This taints the inves­ti­ga­tion, in the eyes of many.

The New York Times con­tin­ues its grotesque­ly slant­ed cov­er­age of the down­ing of MH-17, pub­lish­ing an appar­ent­ly fraud­u­lent sto­ry about alleged Russ­ian fal­si­fi­ca­tion of Buk mis­sile launch­ers in Ukraine. The Dutch intel­li­gence ser­vice not­ed that only the Ukrain­ian military–not the eth­nic Russ­ian rebels in the East–possessed mis­siles capa­ble of shoot­ing down the plane.

The pro­gram con­cludes with updates on the pun­ish­er bat­tal­ions. These fas­cist fight­ing for­ma­tions are actu­al­ly used by the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment to cir­cum­vent the Min­sk II accords.

We end the pro­gram with a very reveal­ing sto­ry. Claim­ing that Con­gress­man John Con­vers (D‑MI) is a “Krem­lin dupe” for por­tray­ing the open­ly Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion as fas­cist, we note that the offi­cial spokesman for the Azov Bat­tal­ion is Roman Zvarych. Zvarych was the per­son­al sec­re­tary for Jaroslav Stet­sko in the ear­ly 1980s. Stet­sko was the head of Ukraine’s World War II col­lab­o­ra­tionist gov­ern­ment and the archi­tect of bloody Nazi-style eth­nic cleans­ing pro­grams in Ukraine.

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

  • For­mer SBU head Naly­vaichenko’s traf­fick­ing in stolen art.
  • Review of Svarych’s promi­nent role in post Cold War Ukraine.
  • An unsuc­cess­ful attempt to re-brand the Babi Yar Ravine–site of a major World War II massacre–as a non-spe­cif­ic memo­r­i­al to human suf­fer­ing.
  • Review of the Orwellian re-writ­ing of Ukrain­ian World War II his­to­ry by Volodomyr Via­tro­vych.

1. Ukraine observed a minute of silence in hon­or of Symon Petliu­ra, whose troops killed 50,00 Jews in the imme­di­ate post World War I peri­od.

“Ukraine Hon­ors Nation­al­ist whose Troops Killed 50,000 Jews” [Jew­ish Tele­graph­ic Agency]; Times of Israel; 5/31/2016.

Coun­try for the first time observes a minute of silence in mem­ory of Symon Petliu­ra, a 1920s states­man killed by a Rus­sia-born Jew

Amid a divi­sive debate in Ukraine on state hon­ors for nation­al­ists viewed as respon­si­ble for anti-Semit­ic pogroms, the coun­try for the first time observed a minute of silence in mem­ory of Symon Petliu­ra, a 1920s states­man blamed for the mur­der of 50,000 Jew­ish com­pa­tri­ots. 

The minute was observed on May 25, the 90th anniver­sary of Petliura’s assas­si­na­tion in Paris. Nation­al tele­vi­sion chan­nels inter­rupted their pro­grams and broad­cast the image of a burn­ing can­dle for 60 sec­onds, Ukraine’s Fed­eral News Agency report­ed.

A French court acquit­ted Sholom Schwartzbard, a Rus­sia-born Jew, of the mur­der even though he admit­ted to it after the court found that Petliu­ra had been involved in, or knew of, pogroms by mem­bers of his mili­tia fight­ing for Ukrain­ian inde­pen­dence from Rus­sia in the years 1917–1921. Fif­teen of Schwartzbard’s rel­a­tives per­ished in the pogroms.

Sep­a­rately, the direc­tor of Ukraine’s Insti­tute of Nation­al Remem­brance, Vladimir Vya­tro­vich, said in a state­ment on Mon­day that Kiev will soon name a street for two oth­er Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists — Stepan Ban­dera and Roman Shukhevych — who are wide­ly believed to be respon­si­ble for lethal vio­lence against Jews. . . .

...

2a. Notice the word­ing of this arti­cle about the renam­ing of a street in hon­or of Stephan Ban­dera. The sto­ry presents Ban­der­a’s well-doc­u­ment­ed col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Third Reich is an oblique, almost spec­u­la­tive con­text!

“Kiev Renames Moscow Avenue after Russ­ian Hate Fig­ure” by Dmit­ry Zaks [Agence France Presse]; Yahoo News; 7/07/2016.

Ukraine’s cap­i­tal Kiev on Thurs­day renamed its Sovi­et-era Moscow Avenue after a Russ­ian hate fig­ure accused by the Krem­lin of sid­ing with the Nazis dur­ing World War II.

Kiev’s local coun­cil decid­ed that one of the bustling city’s main north­ern arter­ies will now hon­our Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist Stepan Ban­dera. . . .

. . . . Moscow accus­es Ban­dera and his OUN fight­ers of sid­ing with the Nazis once they invad­ed the Sovi­et Union in 1941.

His­to­ri­ans think Ban­dera believed that Hitler would grant Ukraine inde­pen­dence or at least par­tial auton­o­my once the Nazis con­quered Moscow.

Ban­dera declared inde­pen­dence days after the Nazis moved into Ukraine — a deci­sion that proved near­ly fatal because the Ger­man Gestapo almost imme­di­ate­ly detained him and put him in a con­cen­tra­tion camp.

He was released once it became clear that the Nazi were going to lose World War II. . . .

2b. Inter­na­tion­al out­cry has rolled back plans to skew the his­to­ry of the Babi Yar mas­sacre dur­ing World War II. A famous Holo­caust mass killing, the Babi Yar mas­sacre was to be mis-rep­re­sent­ed

“Ukraine Back­tracks on Babi Yar Plans Amid Plans of Holo­caust Revi­sion­ism” by Sam Sokol; The Jerusalem Post; 02/08/2016.

The Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment is fac­ing alle­ga­tions of his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ism after announc­ing plans to revamp the Babi Yar mas­sacre site to turn it into a gener­ic sym­bol of human suf­fer­ing rather than a quin­tes­sen­tial emblem of the Holo­caust.

In prepa­ra­tion for September’s 75th anniver­sary of the mas­sacre at the ravine in Kiev where more than 33,000 Jews were mur­dered in a two-day peri­od in 1941, a gov­ern­ment- backed design com­pe­ti­tion invit­ed archi­tec­tur­al pro­pos­als to resolve what it sees as a “prob­lem” of a “dis­crep­an­cy between the world’s view and Jewry’s exclu­sive view of Babi Yar as a sym­bol of the Holo­caust.” . . .

 

3. A degree of offi­cial “celebration/relief” has been expressed over the nam­ing of Petro Poroshenko’s pro­tege Volodymir Groys­man as Prime Min­is­ter of Ukraine. Part of the offi­cial sigh of relief con­cerns the fact that Groys­man is Jew­ish, as is Poroshenko.

Poroshenko’s  Jew­ish affil­i­a­tion has done noth­ing to atten­u­ate his col­lab­o­ra­tion with the OUN/B heirs who came to pow­er in Ukraine.

In addi­tion to being a crony of Poroshenko, Groys­man has a “law degree” from MAUP. In addi­tion to being a diplo­ma mill, of sorts, MAUP is the point of ori­gin of the bulk of anti-Semit­ic lit­er­a­ture in Ukraine. Among its fac­ul­ty mem­bers is David Duke. For­mer pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yuschenko was on its board of direc­tors.

“New Wun­derkind Ukrain­ian PM Has Some Skele­tons in His Clos­et” by Mikhail Klikushin; The Observ­er; 4/21/2016.

Last week’s res­ig­na­tion of Ukrain­ian Prime Min­is­ter Arse­ny Yat­senyuk and seem­ing­ly unex­pect­ed pro­mo­tion of the Speak­er of the Par­lia­ment Volodymir Groys­man to lead the Cab­i­net puz­zled only those who do not close­ly fol­low Ukrain­ian pol­i­tics.

Right after his can­di­da­cy was announced, the per­sona of Mr. Groysman—who is vir­tu­al­ly unknown out­side of Ukraine—got under the mag­ni­fy­ing glass the country’s friends and foes. And the more observers dug into his past, the less hope­ful they were about “the path of change” that the Maid­an rev­o­lu­tion had tried to put the coun­try on.

In May of 2014, right before the first post-Maid­an pres­i­den­tial elec­tions in Ukraine, Germany’s DerSpiegel mag­a­zine wrote that those want­i­ng to under­stand Petro Poroshenko should vis­it Vin­nit­sa, a provin­cial cap­i­tal of 370,000 inhab­i­tants, 124 miles from Kiev.

Vin­nit­sa is a hub of the choco­late busi­ness of the Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent, and he used to rep­re­sent the town in the Supreme Rada, the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment. Here, the Ukrain­ian bil­lion­aire pres­i­dent has two ROSHEN can­dy fac­to­ries, the back-bone of his choco­late empire. Vin­nit­sa is his home turf.

Mr. Groys­man, 38, was born and raised in Vin­nit­sa. Fif­teen years ago, he was tak­en under Mr. Poroshenko’s pro­tec­tive wing, and on mul­ti­ple occa­sions proved him­self the loy­al vicegerent of the pow­er­ful oli­garch. They’ve had a long his­to­ry together—and shared polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic inter­ests in their shared home­town of Vin­nit­sa. . . .

. . . . In 2003, a cov­et­ed diplo­ma of a lawyer from the so-called Inter-Region­al Acad­e­my of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment (MAUP) appeared in the port­fo­lio of the ambi­tious Vin­nit­sa politi­cian.  After Mr. Groysman’s recent appoint­ment to the posi­tion of the Prime Min­is­ter, Vitaly Kupriy, the Ukrain­ian Par­lia­ment deputy, accused him of buy­ing his lawyer’s diplo­ma for “lard.” (The expres­sion comes from a Ukrain­ian vil­lage folk char­ac­ter com­ing to Kiev with his back­pack full of home-salt­ed lard hop­ing with this sim­ple-mind­ed bribe to get accept­ed into the uni­ver­si­ty.)

“Judg­ing by the doc­u­ments, Groys­man stud­ied at the Acad­e­my only for 1.5 years [instead of usu­al 4–5]. This doesn’t look right. It looks like [his diplo­ma] was bought for ‘lard’,” he said.

As far as his for­mal edu­ca­tion is concerned—it doesn’t real­ly mat­ter if Mr. Groys­man ever stepped into the doors of this “Acad­e­my” with or with­out lard—the institution’s rep­u­ta­tion is high­ly bizarre. In 2005, for exam­ple, MAUP became world-famous for invit­ing Amer­i­can Ku Klux Klans­man David Duke to give lec­tures there; Mr. Duke lat­er received his PhD degree in his­to­ry from this “Acad­e­my.” . . . .

. . . . Since 2011, the biggest danc­ing waters show in Europe, with installed foun­tains that shoot water 229 feet into the air, is in Vin­nit­sa. It is called Foun­tain Roshen on Roshen quay, named after Petro Poroshenko’s can­dy con­glom­er­ate. The arti­fi­cial water gey­sers are accom­pa­nied by a music-and-laser show that resem­ble the Bel­la­gio in Las Vegas. Tourists from all over Ukraine come to see what is con­sid­ered one of the 10 most impres­sive water shows in the world. It was built by a Ger­man com­pa­ny and cost 1.5 mil­lion euros, which was was donat­ed by Petro Poroshenko.

4. Note that Groys­man­’s appar­ent­ly bogus law degree came from MAUP Uni­ver­si­ty, an epi­cen­ter of Ukrain­ian anti-Semi­tism. Note, also, that the above-men­tioned Vik­tor Yuschenko was on its board of direc­tors

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.

5. Where there’s smoke, there’s prob­a­bly fire.  Or maybe tor­ture:

“UN Tor­ture Pre­ven­tion Body Sus­pends Ukraine Vis­it Cit­ing Obstruc­tion;” ohchr.org; 5/25/2016.

The Unit­ed Nations Sub­com­mit­tee on Pre­ven­tion of Tor­ture (SPT) has sus­pended its vis­it to Ukraine after being denied access to places in sev­eral parts of the coun­try where it sus­pects peo­ple are being deprived of their lib­erty by the Secu­rity Ser­vice of Ukraine, the SBU.

“This denial of access is in breach of Ukraine’s oblig­a­tions as a State par­ty to the Option­al Pro­to­col to the Con­ven­tion against Tor­ture. It has meant that we have not been able to vis­it some places where we have heard numer­ous and seri­ous alle­ga­tions that peo­ple have been detained and where tor­ture or ill-treat­ment may have occurred,” said Sir Mal­colm Evans, head of the four-mem­ber del­e­ga­tion.

The del­e­ga­tion con­cluded that the integri­ty of the vis­it, which began on 19 May and was due to end on 26 May, had been com­pro­mised to such an extent that it had to be sus­pended as the SPT man­date could not be ful­ly car­ried out.

Under the Option­al Pro­to­col (OPCAT), the SPT is man­dated to vis­it all States par­ties and can make unan­nounced vis­its to any places of deten­tion. This is only the sec­ond time the SPT has halt­ed a mis­sion – such sus­pen­sions are made in cas­es where a lack of coop­er­a­tion by the State par­ty pre­vents the SPT from ful­fill­ing its OPCAT-man­dat­ed duties.

“The SPT expects Ukraine to abide by its inter­na­tional oblig­a­tions under the Option­al Pro­to­col, which it rat­i­fied in 2006. We also hope that the Gov­ern­ment of Ukraine will enter into a con­struc­tive dia­logue with us to enable the SPT to resume its vis­it in the near future and so work togeth­er to estab­lish effec­tive safe­guards against the risk of tor­ture and ill-treat­ment in places where peo­ple are deprived of their lib­erty,” said Sir Mal­colm.

The focus of the SPT’s vis­it was to eval­u­ate how its rec­om­men­da­tions made after its first vis­it in 2011 had been imple­mented. The work of the SPT, which is com­posed of inde­pen­dent experts, is guid­ed by the prin­ci­ples of con­fi­den­tial­ity and coop­er­a­tion.

...

6a. Valen­tyn Nalyvaichenko–the Pravy Sek­tor-linked for­mer chief of the Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence service–appears to have skewed the evi­dence in the shoot-down of Malaysian Air­lines Flight MH17. Not sur­pris­ing­ly,  Naly­vaichenko has been impli­cat­ed in the smug­gling of antiq­ui­ties.

“Dutch News­pa­per: Cor­rup­tion in Ukrain­ian Secret Ser­vice Taints MH17 Inves­ti­ga­tion”  by Jolande van der Graaf [De Tel­graaf]; The New Cold War: Ukraine and Beyond; 12/15/2015.

The reli­a­bil­i­ty of evi­dence in the inves­ti­ga­tion of the crash last year of Malaysian Air­lines Flight 17 in east­ern Ukraine is at issue because of the sin­is­ter role of the Ukrain­ian secret ser­vice SBU in cor­rup­tion and crime scan­dals.

Crim­i­nal law experts pre­dict prob­lems for crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings against the mur­der­ers of the pas­sen­gers who died in the crash of Malaysian Air­lines Flight 17 now that it appears that every­thing is false with the intel­li­gence work that deliv­ered all kinds of mate­r­i­al evi­dence. The Chris­t­ian Demo­c­ra­t­ic Appeal (CDA) is set to ask ques­tions about this in today’s par­lia­men­tary ses­sion.

“The ‘noise’ is guar­an­teed to play a role in any legal case,” said law pro­fes­sor Theo de Roos. “That goes for the defense but also for the judges who will exam­ine evi­dence very crit­i­cal­ly. The pub­lic pros­e­cu­tion depart­ment should be look­ing now rather than lat­er at the integri­ty of the evi­dence.”

It was the SBU that pro­vid­ed the wire­tapped tele­phone con­ver­sa­tions between pro-Russ­ian [sic] rebels in the war zone just before and after the Malaysian Air­lines Boe­ing was shot down from the sky. The Ukrain­ian secu­ri­ty forces had also a big role in secur­ing human remains, debris and rock­et parts in the dis­as­ter area.

But the same SBU also appears in numer­ous crim­i­nal affairs. Sev­er­al infor­mants in the scan­dal of the paint­ings stolen from the West Frisian Muse­um in Hoorn, Hol­land in 2005 indi­cate for­mer SBU head Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko of this year is a mas­ter­mind in the stolen art trade. Naly­vaichenko was fired in June of this year.

Last year, the name of the for­mer SBU chief was linked to large-scale smug­gling of antiques dis­cov­ered by Finnish police.

The ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion into cor­rupt Lim­burg police­man Mark M is also linked to Ukraine. A jus­tice in Bra­bant recent­ly request­ed assis­tance from Kiev. Accord­ing to inves­ti­ga­tion sources, Mark M. kept a net­work in Ukraine of ‘gang­sters and mem­bers of the secret ser­vice’. This past sum­mer alone, 22 mem­bers of the SBU dis­ap­peared behind bars because of cor­rup­tion and crim­i­nal prac­tices.

Great risks

The CDA calls the SBU scan­dals a great risk for the crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion into the MH17 case and wants doc­u­ments and expla­na­tions from Jus­tice Min­is­ter Ard van der Steur.

“There is lit­tle actu­al evi­dence [in the inves­ti­ga­tion],” says Chris­t­ian Demo­c­rat par­lia­men­tar­i­an Pieter Omtzigt. “What there is may have been com­pro­mised to some extent. The evi­dence was col­lect­ed way too late at the scene of the crash and now appears to have been col­lect­ed by dis­hon­est peo­ple.”

The CDA wants to know why satel­lite and radar data of Ukraini­ans, Rus­sians and Amer­i­cans is lack­ing from the report of the Dutch Safe­ty Board into the crash of the MH17. “It appears this has still not been dis­cussed with Ukrain­ian air traf­fic con­trol.”

Dutch police say coop­er­a­tion with Ukrain­ian researchers is “good” and all the sub­mit­ted evi­dence “has been crit­i­cal­ly exam­ined”. Pro­fes­sor of inter­na­tion­al law Geert-Jan Knoops, how­ev­er, feels that more research into the reli­a­bil­i­ty of evi­dence is need­ed.

“The pros­e­cu­tion has the duty to exclude any evi­dence in a sce­nario where evi­dence has been tam­pered with. That means, for exam­ple, it must close­ly exam­ine how the SBU select­ed wir4tapped phone calls and who was involved in that selec­tion.”

6b. In a sto­ry on his Con­sor­tium News web­site, Robert Par­ry has not­ed that The New York Times pub­lished a bla­tant forgery pur­port­ing to demon­strate that Rus­sia had altered a pho­to­graph show­ing Ukrain­ian dis­po­si­tion of BUK mis­sile bat­ter­ies. The same arti­cle notes that the Dutch intel­li­gence ser­vice stat­ed that the only anti-air­craft mis­siles capa­ble of bring­ing down MH-17 belonged to the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment.

” ‘Fraud’ Alleged in NYT’s MH-17 Report” by Robert Par­ry; Con­sor­tium News; 7/19/2016.

Foren­sic experts are chal­leng­ing an ama­teur report – tout­ed in The New York Times – that claimed Rus­sia faked satel­lite imagery of Ukrain­ian anti-air­craft mis­sile bat­ter­ies in east­ern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, the day that Malaysia Air­lines Flight 17 was shot out of the sky killing 298 peo­ple.

In a Twit­ter exchange, Dr. Neal Krawetz, founder of the Foto­Foren­sics dig­i­tal image ana­lyt­i­cal tool, wrote: “‘Bad analy­sis’ is an under­state­ment. This ‘report’ is out­right fraud.”

Anoth­er com­put­er imag­ing expert, Masa­mi Kuramo­to, wrote, “This is either ama­teur hour or sup­posed to deceive audi­ences with­out tech back­ground,” to which Krawetz respond­ed: “Why ‘or’? Ama­teur hour AND decep­tive.”

On Sat­ur­day, The New York Times, which usu­al­ly dis­dains Inter­net reports even from qual­i­fied experts, chose to high­light the report by arms con­trol researchers at armscontrolwonk.com who appear to have lit­tle exper­tise in the field of foren­sic pho­to­graph­ic analy­sis.

The Times arti­cle sug­gest­ed that the Rus­sians were false­ly claim­ing that the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary had Buk mis­sile sys­tems in east­ern Ukraine on the day that MH-17 was shot down. But the pres­ence of Ukrain­ian anti-air­craft mis­sile bat­ter­ies in the area has been con­firmed by West­ern intel­li­gence, includ­ing a report issued last Octo­ber on the find­ings of the Dutch intel­li­gence agency which had access to NATO’s satel­lite and oth­er data col­lec­tion.

Indeed, the Nether­lands’ Mil­i­tary Intel­li­gence and Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice (MIVD) con­clud­ed that the only anti-air­craft weapons in east­ern Ukraine capa­ble of bring­ing down MH-17 at 33,000 feet belonged to the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment, not the eth­nic Russ­ian rebels. MIVD made that assess­ment in the con­text of explain­ing why com­mer­cial air­craft con­tin­ued to fly over the east­ern Ukrain­ian bat­tle zone in sum­mer 2014. (The MH-17 flight had orig­i­nat­ed in Ams­ter­dam and car­ried many Dutch cit­i­zens, explain­ing why the Nether­lands took the lead in the inves­ti­ga­tion.)

MIVD said that based on “state secret” infor­ma­tion, it was known that Ukraine pos­sessed some old­er but “pow­er­ful anti-air­craft sys­tems” and “a num­ber of these sys­tems were locat­ed in the east­ern part of the coun­try.” MIVD added that the rebels lacked that capac­i­ty:

“Pri­or to the crash, the MIVD knew that, in addi­tion to light air­craft artillery, the Sep­a­ratists also pos­sessed short-range portable air defence sys­tems (man-portable air-defence sys­tems; MANPADS) and that they pos­si­bly pos­sessed short-range vehi­cle-borne air-defence sys­tems. Both types of sys­tems are con­sid­ered sur­face-to-air mis­siles (SAMs). Due to their lim­it­ed range they do not con­sti­tute a dan­ger to civ­il avi­a­tion at cruis­ing alti­tude.”

I know that I have cit­ed this sec­tion of the Dutch report before but I repeat it because The New York Times, The Wash­ing­ton Post and oth­er lead­ing U.S. news orga­ni­za­tions have ignored these find­ings, pre­sum­ably because they don’t advance the desired pro­pa­gan­da theme blam­ing the Rus­sians for the tragedy. . . . .

7. New York Times jour­nal­ist Andrew E. Kramer was list­ed as a “ter­ror­ist” jour­nal­ist by the gov­ern­ment of Ukraine, pre­sum­ably for report­ing on the civ­il war in Ukraine, pre­sum­ably for report­ing on events in the Russ­ian sep­a­ratist areas.

“Brand­ed a ‘Ter­ror­ist’ for Report­ing Two Sides of Ukraine’s War” by Andrew E. Kramer; The New York Times; 6/05/2016.

I have had guns point­ed at me, slept in a ship­ping con­tain­er and walked past the corpses of shelling vic­tims since the sep­a­ratist insur­gency in east­ern Ukraine began two years ago. But I had nev­er been black­list­ed as a ter­ror­ist before.

So when my name recent­ly appeared on a “ter­ror­ist” list of jour­nal­ists pub­lished by a web­site with close ties to the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment, I viewed it with a mix of trep­i­da­tion and sar­casm.

Trep­i­da­tion because it sug­gest­ed pow­er­ful peo­ple in Ukraine, a democ­ra­cy that aspires to the free flow of infor­ma­tion, were going after me and oth­ers on the list for sim­ply doing our jobs: report­ing both sides of the war, includ­ing the pro-Russ­ian rebel side.

And sar­casm because, this being Ukraine, the list was not like­ly to have much cred­i­bil­i­ty else­where. I have not, for exam­ple, had any trou­ble fly­ing after appear­ing on what may be the world’s first list of ter­ror­ist jour­nal­ists.

It is also not a secret that I and oth­er reporters have report­ed from rebel ter­ri­to­ry; our pub­li­ca­tions and broad­cast out­lets reg­u­lar­ly use our names and note where we are.

The list, pub­lished by a Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist web­site called Myrotvorets, or the Peace­mak­er, appeared to have been born out of a sim­mer­ing frus­tra­tion.

Hard-lin­ers in Ukraine have been furi­ous at the for­eign press for some time now, argu­ing that any cov­er­age of the rebels from their home base in the east played into Rus­sia’s pow­er­ful pro­pa­gan­da machine. Rus­sia has por­trayed res­i­dents in the break­away regions as vic­tims of an unjus­ti­fied Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary assault by a West­ern-backed “fas­cist” gov­ern­ment in Kiev.

The list is a com­pi­la­tion of reporters and oth­ers who applied for press pass­es to work in ter­ri­to­ry con­trolled by the Donet­sk People’s Repub­lic, Ukraine’s main ene­my in the two-year-old war in the east. Apply­ing for accred­i­ta­tion from Russ­ian-backed rebels, accord­ing to the web­site, was enough to be brand­ed a “ter­ror­ist accom­plice.” . . . .

. . . . Groups sup­port­ing jour­nal­ists quick­ly con­demned the pub­li­ca­tion of the names — and in some cas­es home address­es — for seem­ing to invite vio­lence against reporters.

A pro-Russ­ian com­men­ta­tor liv­ing in Kiev, Oles Buz­i­na, whose home address was pub­li­cized in a Myrotvorets post last year, was shot and killed on a street not far from his home days lat­er.

But this time, the site was pub­lish­ing names and con­tact details for 5,412 jour­nal­ists, dri­vers, fix­ers, sound­men and trans­la­tors. Not all of us can be rubbed out. . . .

8a. Vice News has a new piece of report­ing from Donet­sk about the expe­ri­ences of some of the for­eign mer­ce­nar­ies who have joined up with a Right Sec­tor bat­tal­ion. As the arti­cle makes clear, one of the aspects of Right Sec­tor that the Kiev gov­ern­ment finds most use­ful in the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion where the Min­sk II agree­ment is sup­posed to min­i­mize hos­til­i­tiesw is that the “out of con­trol” vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions like Right Sec­tor are basi­cal­ly allowed to vio­late the Min­sk II agree­ment as much as they want. The gov­ern­ment just has to make sure the bat­tal­ions are able to ille­gal­ly acquire weapons and oper­ate with impuni­ty.

Anoth­er thing the arti­cle makes clear is that, like most arti­cles that talk about Right Sector’s ide­ol­o­gy and ambi­tions, once Right Sec­tor is done fight­ing in the Don­bas, they’re still plan­ning on march­ing on Kiev:

“Why Amer­i­can Right-Wingers Are Going to War in Ukraine” by Alexan­der Clapp; Vice News; 6/20/2016.

When Ben Fis­ch­er stepped out of his jeep at the bar­racks of the Volove­ka Tac­ti­cal Group, in Donet­sk, Ukraine, last May, he was a mer­ce­nary arriv­ing to work on his third con­ti­nent in as many years. The scene at the head­quar­ters of a rogue unit with­in the rogue Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist group known as Right Sec­tor wavered between utter chaos and man­ic dis­ci­pline. Stray dogs pow­dered with anthracitic dust ambled around anti-tank obsta­cles. Anti-air­craft artillery bris­tled from the beds of rust­ed-out pick­up trucks. Some groups of Ukraini­ans were clean­ing weapon­ry. Oth­ers were chop­ping wood. Oth­ers were doing push-ups. Many were drunk. A great red ban­ner hung along the side of the bar­racks fac­ing east: DEATH TO YOU KREMLIN INVADERS.

In a bar­ren plain of coal pits and black sludge, Fis­ch­er found what he had come for: an expe­ri­ence full of vio­lence and adven­ture. What the Islam­ic State is for dis­en­chant­ed young West­ern­ers of an Islamist bent, Right Sec­tor has become for young Euro­peans and Amer­i­can right-wingers with an antique pas­sion for nationalism—any nation­al­ism except for Russia’s, that is. Right Sec­tor is com­mit­ted to eject­ing Russ­ian sep­a­ratists from Ukrain­ian soil. Only three months before Fis­ch­er arrived at the Volove­ka bar­racks, Ukraine, Rus­sia, and West­ern lead­ers had signed a cease­fire agree­ment known as Min­sk II. Major engage­ments had become rare. Euro­pean offi­cials had begun mak­ing rou­tine inspec­tions of front­line equip­ment. But a shad­ow con­flict still churned onward in the East, one that Kiev covert­ly out­sourced to the very nation­al­ist groups it once pub­licly dis­avowed. The Volove­ka, a Right Sec­tor con­tin­gent con­sist­ing of 27 men, had estab­lished a for­ward base six miles from the bor­der of the self-pro­claimed Donet­sk People’s Repub­lic. By the time Fis­ch­er arrived, it had become an anar­chic force that answered to no author­i­ty but itself.

Fis­ch­er has a wiry black beard he twirls with cal­loused fin­ger­tips. Two swords tat­tooed on his right shoul­der con­verge at a bat­tle hel­met. MOLON LABE—ancient Greek for “Come and take them,” King Leonidas’s reply to the Per­sian demand for the Spar­tan weapons at Thermopylae—is embla­zoned on his right fore­arm. His moth­er, a Tunisian, emi­grat­ed to Aus­tria 30 years ago, where she met his father, an engi­neer, in a ski­ing vil­lage out­side Inns­bruck. Fis­ch­er was sent off to a voca­tion­al school in Bre­genz at 14. His junior year, he forged his par­ents’ sig­na­tures in order to enlist ear­ly in the Aus­tri­an Armed Forces. “Aus­tri­ans lead indoor lives,” he told me. “It’s the indoor life of the post­man, or the may­or, or the teacher. Argu­ments are indoors. Feel­ings are indoors. And the one thing I knew, from very ear­ly on, was that I couldn’t be indoors.” The Aus­tri­an army did not give Fis­ch­er his inter­est­ing life. For six months, he drove a van around Prishti­na, where his com­rades gave out food pack­ages and taught Koso­vars how to hold guns. Fis­ch­er decid­ed to take an indef­i­nite sick leave; six months lat­er, he was on the Red Sea, where he’d found work run­ning secu­ri­ty detail on a con­tain­er ship. On his first stop in Mogadishu, port author­i­ties dis­band­ed his unli­censed crew. With a small lay­off pay­ment, he bought a tick­et to Mar­seille, where the French For­eign Legion turned him down. The next months, he worked as a bounc­er in Vien­na.

In Sep­tem­ber 2014, Fis­ch­er took the train from Vien­na to Kiev, where the Ukrain­ian army was lead­ing major offen­sives to reclaim the Don­bas. At Maid­an Square, he found a recruiter for Azov, a white-suprema­cist bat­tal­ion and one of the few vol­un­teer mili­tias then accept­ing for­eign vol­un­teers. Almost as soon as he entered, an Azov com­man­der who thought he looked too Arab threw him out. Fis­ch­er trans­ferred to the Don­bas Battalion—”a bunch of alco­holics and PTSDs”—but saw lit­tle fight­ing when he bussed out to Donet­sk; the first Min­sk Pro­to­col, which bro­kered a cease­fire, was signed just two days after he arrived.

Look­ing for his next move, Fis­ch­er used Face­book to con­tact an Amer­i­can who had joined the Kur­dish People’s Pro­tec­tion Units, in Sulay­maniyah, Iraq. A Dutch-Kur­dish motor­cy­cle gang even­tu­al­ly brought the two to the front lines near Kirkuk, where they saw spurts of action against ISIS. “I liked the Kurds and respect their fight, but those peo­ple have a prob­lem: They’re con­vinced every­one is out to betray them,” he said. The Kurds did every­thing they could to break up groups of for­eign fight­ers, to get non-prac­tic­ing Mus­lims to pray with them, to pry for­eign vol­un­teers away from their smart­phones. Fischer’s com­man­der was “brain­washed.” An inter­view he gave to a local news chan­nel made its way to Aus­tri­an tele­vi­sion, and his par­ents sent him alarmed emails, which he ignored. One night, in an encamp­ment near Mosul, an Amer­i­can Black Hawk heli­copter land­ed. A sol­dier emerged and told the Kurds to dis­band for­eign­ers from their ranks or risk los­ing Amer­i­can coop­er­a­tion. Com­pared with the oth­ers, the for­eign­ers were much more active on social media. They risked spilling oper­a­tional secrets and increas­ing ten­sions with Turkey.

Back in Aus­tria, Fis­ch­er learned that he had been put on a ter­ror watch list for hav­ing fought with Kur­dish guer­ril­las asso­ci­at­ed with the PKK. The gov­ern­ment told him to stay in the coun­try, but he left for Tunisia, where his mother’s fam­i­ly still lived. “There’s no war in Tunisia,” he said. “Nobody fu cks with you. You can relax.” In Sousse, he received a Face­book mes­sage from Alex Kirschbaum, an Aus­tri­an army com­rade he hadn’t seen since Koso­vo. “Alex wrote me say­ing that he’d just desert­ed the army,” Fis­ch­er said. “He couldn’t stand Aus­tria any­more. He was going to Ukraine.” The next day, Fis­ch­er began mak­ing his way back to Kiev. “You start out on this life out of a kind of pride, refus­ing to be like your peers,” he told me. “But you stick with it because there comes a time when you can’t turn back and accept that the only pos­si­ble exis­tence is a civil­ian one.”

Kirschbaum greet­ed Fis­ch­er when he arrived at the bar­racks. “Sure, we’d been friends in Aus­tria, had gone for beers togeth­er, but to see him out here, in the mid­dle of fu cking Donetsk—wow,” Kirschbaum said. Kirschbaum has a slim build and a scrag­gy black beard. His eyes are dark brown chest­nuts that glow­er pas­sion­ate­ly when­ev­er he dis­cuss­es weapon­ry. For Kirschbaum and Fis­ch­er both, Ukraine became an out­let for nation­al­ism that they con­sid­er in des­per­ate­ly short sup­ply else­where in Europe. “In Aus­tria, our coun­ter­fas­cism units are larg­er than our coun­tert­er­ror­ism ones,” Kirschbaum told me. Aus­tria, he said, was a “neutered” nation. The only nation­al­ists it pro­duced were soc­cer hooli­gans and Euro­vi­sion fanat­ics. But the Right Sec­torites didn’t watch soc­cer or Euro­vi­sion. In that con­ve­nient for­mu­la­tion of gen­uine patri­ots and nation­al­ist extrem­ists, they claimed to despise their gov­ern­ment but love their coun­try. Nei­ther Fis­ch­er nor Kirschbaum remarked how strange it was that they had effec­tive­ly trans­ferred their nation­al pas­sion from one nation to anoth­er.

Accord­ing to Right Sec­tor, the Maid­an rev­o­lu­tion remains unfin­ished. It’s ille­gal for the group to use guns, but the Volove­ka and units like it will not lay them down until Ukraine is a sov­er­eign state. By this, the men mean a Ukraine that’s com­plete­ly inde­pen­dent from both Russia—a “Putin­ist empire”—and the Euro­pean Union—land of “lib­er­al homo-dic­ta­tor­ships.” “The world must know that Ukraine is not its to use,” Prut, a Right Sec­tor com­man­der in Mukache­vo, told me. (The Ukrain­ian fight­ers in the Volove­ka are known exclu­sive­ly by their noms de guerre.) For their mod­el Ukraine, some Right Sec­torites point to the cen­turies of rugged Cos­sack rule. Oth­ers cite the West Ukrain­ian People’s Repub­lic carved out by Stepan Ban­dera, the hero of the Ukrain­ian resis­tance against the Sovi­ets. Bandera’s brief col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Nazis has led some mem­bers of Right Sec­tor to meld their nation­al­ism with a thin under­stand­ing of Nazism. Sev­er­al I met did the Sieg Heil and praised Hitler. A few admit­ted that they did this because they knew Putin hat­ed it, and they were will­ing to go to any length to aggra­vate him.

The Right Sec­torites claim to be fight­ing on behalf of a vast and igno­rant Ukrain­ian pop­u­la­tion that will wel­come lib­er­a­tion when it comes but who lack the courage to achieve it. The orga­ni­za­tion coa­lesced in ear­ly 2014 out of a hand­ful of far-right polit­i­cal par­ties and Maid­an self-defense units. It claims to be nei­ther racist nor xeno­pho­bic because it under­stands Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism in “civic, not eth­nic terms.” Gov­ern­ment insti­tu­tions should be strong. Nation­al bor­ders must be upheld. Those who think in like-mind­ed ways, even if not Ukrain­ian, are encour­aged to join. Dmit­ry Yarosh, Right Sector’s founder, is a for­mer for­eign-lan­guage teacher from cen­tral Ukraine. Near­ly half of all mem­bers iden­ti­fy as Russ­ian speak­ers.

Right Sec­tor is a ram­shackle orga­ni­za­tion. None of its more than 10,000 mem­bers car­ries a par­ty ID, attends reg­u­lar meet­ings, or recruits in any sys­tem­at­ic way. Right Sector’s polit­i­cal­ly mind­ed mem­bers strain to con­trol its mil­i­tary branch of per­haps 3,000 fight­ers. Most have spent weeks train­ing at Right Sec­tor camps, where they are taught the rudi­ments of street fight­ing and get bused to demon­stra­tions against the Kiev gov­ern­ment, Russ­ian nation­al hol­i­days, and gays. Right Sec­tor fight­ers fall into 26 divi­sions. One is assigned to each Ukrain­ian oblast or province; two addi­tion­al bat­tal­ions stand guard on the front lines. None takes orders from a cen­tral­ized com­mand. They rarely exchange weapon­ry or gov­ern­ment con­tacts.

Two years of infight­ing and gov­ern­ment crack­down have frag­ment­ed Right Sec­tor fur­ther into dozens of small units, most of which oper­ate with lit­tle aware­ness of one anoth­er. The Volove­ka Tac­ti­cal Group—named after a Right Sec­torite who was killed by a land mine in Donetsk—was one of these. At war with east­ern Ukraine, Kiev, and a half of Right Sec­tor that sub­mit­ted to gov­ern­ment over­sight last Novem­ber, its fight­ers lived in a cement-block build­ing that had housed coal min­ers before the war. The men of the Volove­ka arrived one day last autumn and evict­ed them at gun­point. They dug a moat around the building’s perime­ter and a pit for hold­ing cap­tives. They erect­ed a barbed-wire fence. They laid land mines and anti-tank obsta­cles in the veg­etable gar­dens. On the roof, they mount­ed black and red flags, the sym­bol of Ukrain­ian resis­tance under Ger­man occu­pa­tion, and upside-down Ukrain­ian flags, the stan­dard sym­bol of the briefly real­ized 1918 Inde­pen­dent Repub­lic of Ukraine. At one point, they con­fis­cat­ed a yel­low bus from the local ele­men­tary school to make week­ly trips to the front lines, where the Right Sec­torites spent sev­er­al days fir­ing RPGs at the sep­a­ratist-held Donet­sk air­port. On the small dirt road lead­ing to the bar­racks were two wood­en guard tow­ers. A guard was kept at all hours. The res­i­dents of Novogrodov­ka, the clos­est vil­lage, were known to be in reg­u­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tion with bat­tal­ions in the Don­bas. An attack could be expect­ed any­time.

Com­mand of the Volove­ka fell to Sime­on, the first civil­ian to steal a machine gun from a police offi­cer at the Maid­an and fire back. He was a house­hold name in Ukraine and a leg­end with­in Right Sec­tor. After Maid­an, he’d sur­vived the dis­as­trous encir­clement of the Ukrain­ian army at Ilo­vaisk. He’d been among the kyborgs, the vast­ly out­num­bered Ukrain­ian sol­diers and vol­un­teers, includ­ing Right Sec­tor mem­bers, who defend­ed Donet­sk air­port from rebel besiegers in the days before Min­sk II was signed. Sime­on was an artist with a weapon called the TOW, a mis­sile latched to a two-mile-long wire that he guid­ed into ene­my ter­ri­to­ry with a pair of small steer­ing wheels. In late 2015, the Ukrain­ian state declared him a ter­ror­ist. His face was put on notice boards through­out Kiev. The Right Sec­torites had con­vert­ed his home in Ivano-Frankivsk into an armory. They placed Clay­more mines on the under­side of his porch, and they instruct­ed his teenage son to acti­vate the devices if the police arrived.

Simeon’s pres­ence in the bar­racks was out­sized. His drink­ing ses­sions began short­ly after he emerged each morn­ing from his drab cement room, dec­o­rat­ed with a few fam­i­ly pho­tos and sev­er­al Russ­ian army hel­mets on the walls. “Broth­ers!” he would cry in a faux-Amer­i­can accent. He pos­sessed no civil­ian clothes; his fatigues had become so mat­ted with dried mud and engine grease they had hard­ened into the con­sis­ten­cy of card­board. For Sime­on, the war in Donet­sk was less about fight­ing the Rus­sians than it was about prov­ing some­thing to Ukraini­ans back in Kiev. “Six­ty per­cent of Ukraine wants to join Europe,” he told me one night while he was on guard duty. The occa­sion­al crack of artillery came from the east. “Their biggest con­cern is whether or not their WiFi works. Anoth­er twen­ty per­cent, well, these are pro-Russ­ian trash. To them, the Sovi­et Union was a good thing. These types aren’t as big a prob­lem as you might think. They can be killed. We in Right Sec­tor are part of that remain­ing twen­ty per­cent that believes we have to take mat­ters into our own hands in Ukraine. We can only fix our coun­try when we fix our­selves indi­vid­u­al­ly.”

Despite Simeon’s admon­ish­ment of the lack of com­mit­ment among his coun­try­men to the cause of their nation, most Ukraini­ans in the Volove­ka did not have a strong grasp of Right Sector’s pol­i­tics. Many had been declared ter­ror­ists by the state and stayed in the Volove­ka bar­racks most­ly out of a refusal to face tri­al in Kiev. Col­i­b­ian, the assis­tant com­man­der, was the only Ukrain­ian mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant sac­ri­fices to be in Novogrodov­ka; in Kiev, he owned a car deal­er­ship.

Lunch in the Volove­ka usu­al­ly con­sist­ed of fist-size chunks of raw pig fat. Pota­toes were served for din­ner; body bags of them lay in a heap below a stair­well. Every provision—coats, gauze, jugs of water—came from vol­un­teers in Kiev or was “req­ui­si­tioned” from locals. Stolen coal and wood were mixed with trash in a fur­nace that spewed thick clouds of poi­so­nous exhaust. It set­tled on the skin in mole-like clumps. The Volove­ka paid for its cig­a­rettes and inter­net by bak­ing this coal-trash con­coc­tion into bricks and sell­ing them through­out the rest of Ukraine.

Every human impulse was exag­ger­at­ed in the Volove­ka. When keys were mis­placed, doors were blown in with TNT. Wal­nuts were cracked open with grenades. Stray cats chased one anoth­er down the hall­ways of the bar­racks, most of which were lined with 60-pound bombs typ­i­cal­ly used for destroy­ing bridges. The Right Sec­torites liked to evict the cats by throw­ing them from the sec­ond-floor bal­cony with the motion of a shot-put­ter. They fell to the earth with a ter­ri­fy­ing cry. A few weeks before I’d arrived, a Ukrain­ian named Geron­i­mo behead­ed a cat after he caught it pee­ing on his bed. Fear­ing a PTSD out­break, Sime­on attempted—unsuccessfully—to take away everyone’s guns. The Volove­ka also had a dog, Fly, whose orig­i­nal own­er had died from the blast of a land mine. Fly trem­bled in strange, berserk motions every time a sol­dier cocked a gun.

The mem­bers of the Volove­ka fre­quent­ly boast­ed that they pos­sessed enough explo­sives to erad­i­cate a small Ukrain­ian oblast. The bat­tal­ion had smug­gled in all of it—the six armor-plat­ed trucks, the hel­mets and med­ical kits, the hun­dreds of box­es of ammunition—tirelessly, ille­gal­ly, from every reach of Ukraine. The men used dona­tions from the Ukrain­ian dias­po­ra in Cana­da “for med­ical sup­plies” to pur­chase Kalash­nikovs off Chechen arms deal­ers in Vien­na, which were smug­gled through the Carpathi­an Moun­tains by mem­bers of the Volove­ka who car­a­vanned out to west­ern Ukraine every few months in bat­tal­ion pick­up trucks. They also claimed many guns off dead sep­a­ratists. One after­noon, Fis­ch­er took me to the com­pa­ny armory—six win­dow­less nooks on the sec­ond floor. The air was heavy with the waft of cat urine. Anti-air­craft mis­siles and RPGs lay hap­haz­ard­ly stacked every­where like planks of wood. Fis­ch­er grabbed two rusty black mor­tars out of a moldy card­board box. “A war muse­um in Lviv gave these to us,” he said, flip­ping them light­ly between his palms. “Red Army issues from the Sec­ond World War. A lot of Ukrain­ian bat­tle­field reen­ac­tors admire the work we’re doing out here. They send us these antiques all the time,” he said, toss­ing them back into the box. “The only prob­lem with them is that they can eas­i­ly det­o­nate if you dri­ve over a bump too quick­ly in the bus.”

At any moment the SBU—the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine—could have come and arrest­ed every mem­ber of the Volove­ka, whose pres­ence on the front lines was ille­gal. But the Right Sec­torites assured me this would nev­er hap­pen. When they need­ed help pur­su­ing trucks they sus­pect­ed of smug­gling sup­plies into Donet­sk, the SBU called the bar­racks for rein­force­ments. Most of the oblast was pro-Russ­ian, so to help give the impres­sion of occu­pa­tion, local author­i­ties encour­aged Right Sec­tor to dri­ve its vehi­cles slow­ly through near­by vil­lages and walk their streets with glocks in hand. (Though the res­i­dents of Novogrodov­ka despised Right Sec­tor, they weren’t too proud to come to the bar­racks at night beg­ging for food, which was always giv­en. The drunk ones often fell into the moat.)

The Ukrain­ian army was also tech­ni­cal­ly oblig­ed to arrest Right Sec­tor mem­bers on sight at the front lines, but it didn’t. Dur­ing the night, offi­cers sym­pa­thet­ic to Right Sector’s cause filled the Voloveka’s school bus with rock­ets and oth­er large-cal­iber guns for­bid­den by Euro­pean mon­i­tors. Right Sec­tor was the Ukrain­ian army’s way of get­ting around Min­sk II while still hit­ting back at sep­a­ratists who refused to allow inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions any­where near their trench­es: Right Sec­tor, Ukraine told inspec­tors, was out of its con­trol. The local police also wouldn’t arrest any mem­bers of the Volove­ka, to whom they out­sourced their ter­ror­ism. Of course, when asked about their con­nec­tion with Right Sec­tor, Ukraine’s SBU, army, and police vig­or­ous­ly dis­avow it. But what I saw on the front lines was noth­ing short of active coop­er­a­tion. The fight­ers of the Volove­ka, for their part, were con­temp­tu­ous of any coop­er­a­tion with Kiev. But the fight could only turn against Ukraine once the more imme­di­ate threat in the Don­bas had been destroyed.

Sev­er­al weeks before I vis­it­ed the Volove­ka, a man had been picked up wan­der­ing the streets of Novogrodov­ka at night, drunk. Police con­fis­cat­ed his phone and found pho­tos of him pos­ing in front of Donet­sk tanks on VK, a pop­u­lar social net­work among Russ­ian speak­ers. They brought him to the Right Sec­torites, who locked him in a stand­ing-room-only show­er stall. The lights stayed on for a week. They beat him with a sock stuffed with sharp­ened rocks. They stripped him of his clothes and made him clean the bar­racks on his knees. An inter­ro­ga­tion ses­sion involv­ing repeat­ed threats of depor­ta­tion to Guan­tá­namo Bay revealed only that the man came from a local vil­lage and appar­ent­ly knew noth­ing about rebel troop move­ments. After a week, the police picked him back up and brought him to Kiev—presumably for a jail sen­tence, though no one could tell me what actu­al­ly hap­pened to him. “It is a pity to have to beat these peo­ple,” Kirschbaum said. “But I’d have more sym­pa­thy for them if we got any sort of sim­i­lar treat­ment in Donet­sk. Right Sec­tor mem­bers cap­tured there get their noses and ears cut off.”

A loud noise shook the front entrance of the bar­racks one night. It was fol­lowed by a string of mur­der­ous groans. “Sep­a­ratists!” some­one screamed. Fis­ch­er extin­guished a cig­a­rette, then whipped an RPG off the wall and slung it on his right shoul­der in a sin­gle unin­ter­rupt­ed motion. Lang burst out of the room with a pair of grenades cocked in his hands. Out in the hall­way, a dozen star­tled Ukraini­ans stood in a heav­i­ly armed throng. One was peer­ing through a sniper scope.

At the door­way, as a haze of grenade smoke slow­ly dis­si­pat­ed away, we saw Sime­on lying in a lake of bub­bling blood. Pur­ple-black strings—his intestines—were on the walls. A de-fin­gered palm of a left hand teetered off a near­by pile of tires. Exit­ing the bar­racks for Novogrodov­ka, where he planned to toss a few grenades in the town square to cel­e­brate the two-year anniver­sary of his entry in the war, Sime­on had slipped on the stair­case and acci­dent­ly det­o­nat­ed him­self. Turn­ing his head toward us, he let out a few last breaths, then died.

The next night, we held a funer­al for Sime­on. His moth­er, son, and wife arrived by car from Ivano-Frankivsk. Two Right Sec­torites briskly escort­ed them to a side door, away from the entrance­way in which Sime­on had been dema­te­ri­al­ized. “Two land mines explod­ed under Sime­on as he charged toward the Donet­sk air­port,” Col­i­b­ian, who had been declared the Voloveka’s new com­man­der that morn­ing, told Simeon’s fam­i­ly. They cried. “After this, it took machine-gun fire to bring him down. We recov­ered him, brought him back to our trench. He was still breath­ing. He refused to die.” Col­i­b­ian placed his right hand on the shoul­der of Simeon’s moth­er. Most of the onlook­ing Right Sec­torites were drunk. What remained of Simeon’s trunk of vod­ka had been fin­ished off that after­noon.

8b. It is not sur­pris­ing that Kristofer Har­ri­son (the author of an apolo­gia for the Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion in Ukraine) is a for­mer Defense Depart­ment and State Depart­ment advi­sor to George W. Bush. Note­wor­thy in his pro­pa­gan­da piece dis­miss­ing Rep­re­sen­ta­tive John Cony­ers (D‑MI) as “the Krem­lin’s Man in Con­gress” and dis­count­ing any­one else dis­cussing the ascen­sion of the OUN/B fas­cists in Ukraine in a sim­i­lar vein is the iden­ti­ty of his source for assur­ances that Azov is not a Nazi unit.The Azov’s spokesman is Roman Zvarych, the per­son­al sec­re­tary to Jaroslav Stet­sko in the 1980’s. Stet­sko was the head of the World War II OUN/B gov­ern­ment that col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Nazis!

After emi­grat­ing to Ukraine in the ear­ly ’90’s Zvarych and form­ing the Con­gress of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists with Sla­va Stet­sko (Jaroslav’s wid­ow) Zvarych became: Jus­tice Min­is­ter (the equiv­a­lent of Attor­ney Gen­er­al of the Unit­ed States) under the gov­ern­ments of Vik­tor Yuschenko and both Yulia Tim­o­shenko gov­ern­ments. He has been serv­ing as an advis­er to pres­i­dent Poroshenko.

(It is impos­si­ble with­in the scope of this post to cov­er our volu­mi­nous cov­er­age of the Ukraine cri­sis. Pre­vi­ous pro­grams on the sub­ject include: FTR #‘s 777778779780781782783784794, 800803804, 808811817818824826

829832833837849850853857860872875876877893907, 911Listeners/readers are encour­aged to exam­ine these pro­grams and/or their descrip­tions in detail, in order to flesh out their under­stand­ing.)

“Putin’s Man in Con­gress” by Kristofer Har­ri­son; The Huff­in­g­ton Post; 8/7/2015.

. . . .The Azov’s spokesman, Roman Zvarych, told me that the bat­tal­ion has a selec­tive screen­ing pro­gram that accepts only 50 out of almost 300 recruits each month. He says they have a thor­ough back­ground check and reject mem­bers for var­i­ous rea­sons, includ­ing hav­ing fas­cist lean­ings. . . .

. . . . Rep. Cony­ers played an impor­tant role in help­ing the Russ­ian Nazi meme evolve from the stuff of con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists, kooks and fel­low-trav­el­ers into some­thing the main­stream press hap­pi­ly prints. Rep. Cony­ers took to the floor of the House to sub­mit his amend­ment and label the unit, “The repul­sive Neo-Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion.” From there, the Dai­ly Beast ran a sto­ry titled “Is Amer­i­ca Train­ing Neon­azis in Ukraine?” using Cony­ers’ bill as fac­tu­al sup­port. The day after the amendment’s pas­sage, Leonoid Bershid­sky ran a Bloomberg View arti­cle titled “Ukraine’s Neo-Nazis Won’t Get U.S. Mon­ey.” Even the Cana­di­ans have been affect­ed. On June 16th, the Nation­al Post ran a sto­ry titled “Fears that Cana­di­an Mis­sion in Ukraine May Unin­ten­tion­al­ly Help Neon­azi Groups.”. . . .

 

Discussion

7 comments for “FTR #916 Update on Fascism in Ukraine”

  1. Here’s an excep­tion­al­ly dis­turb­ing sto­ry come out of Ukraine: In response to the mur­der of a child that’s been blamed on a Roma res­i­dent in a small vil­lage in Odessa, the locals formed an angry mob, start­ed destroy­ing the homes of the dozen or so Roma fam­i­lies in vil­lage and forced them all to flee for their lives. It’s extra dis­turb­ing since the local author­i­ties are help­ing with the forced relo­ca­tion:

    Euronews

    Roma forced to flee vio­lent mob in Ukraine vil­lage

    28/08/2016
    last updat­ed: 28/08/2016

    In Ukraine, around a dozen Roma fam­i­lies have report­ed­ly been forced to flee for their lives after locals in a small vil­lage in the region of Odessa turned vio­lent.

    Ama­teur footage tak­en at the scene appeared to show an angry mob destroy­ing dwellings occu­pied by the Roma.

    The unrest appar­ent­ly erupt­ed fol­low­ing the rape and mur­der of 8‑year-old local girl.

    ‘‘They’ve been here three years, three years. And this is what hap­pens. The Roma don’t give a dam about the local pop­u­la­tion, who’ve been liv­ing here for 200 years. Our chil­dren are bul­lied at school, peo­ple are being has­sled in the street, and there are crim­i­nal rack­ets, steal­ing from prop­er­ties,’‘ one vil­lager said.

    Police say a 22-year-old Roma man from the vil­lage has been arrest­ed in con­nec­tion with the young girl’s killing.

    The author­i­ties say they have struck a deal with the Roma fam­i­lies to leave the vil­lage and reset­tle else­where in the area.

    “The author­i­ties say they have struck a deal with the Roma fam­i­lies to leave the vil­lage and reset­tle else­where in the area.”

    So local author­i­ties appear to be ok with the vil­lage res­i­dents using mur­der charges against a sin­gle Roma indi­vid­ual as a pre­text to run a dozen Roma fam­i­lies vio­lent­ly run out of town. That’s a dis­turb­ing response to a dis­turb­ing crime. Espe­cial­ly since the local author­i­ties behind this vil­lage’s act of eth­nic cleans­ing include Odessa’s gov­er­nor, Mikheil Saakashvili:

    BBC

    Ukraine moves Roma fam­i­lies amid vil­lage’s rage at mur­der

    8/29/2016

    Ukrain­ian offi­cials have decid­ed to move dozens of Roma (Gyp­sies) out of a vil­lage after their eth­nic Ukrain­ian neigh­bours attacked their homes.

    The vio­lence erupt­ed on Sat­ur­day in Loshchyniv­ka, in the Odessa region, short­ly after the body of a nine-year-old girl was found. Police said there were signs she had been raped.

    A 21-year-old Roma man is in cus­tody, sus­pect­ed of hav­ing mur­dered her.

    Odessa gov­er­nor Mikheil Saakashvili said he shared the locals’ out­rage.

    In a video mes­sage on Face­book (in Russ­ian) he said “anti-social ele­ments” were involved in “mas­sive drug-deal­ing” in Loshchyniv­ka.

    Ukrain­ian police say the sit­u­a­tion is now under con­trol in the vil­lage, after extra police were sent there.

    On Sat­ur­day, a crowd of furi­ous vil­lagers set a Roma house ablaze and smashed up oth­ers, break­ing win­dows. The Roma res­i­dents man­aged to flee before the vio­lence, and none were hurt, reports say.

    YouTube clips uploaded by Iri­na Zolotary­o­va appear to show the attacks on prop­er­ty in the vil­lage.

    Roma com­mu­ni­ty help

    The head of Izmay­il dis­trict, where the vil­lage lies, said bus­es were ready to move the Roma fam­i­lies out on Mon­day. More than 50 Roma live there, Valen­ty­na Stoyko­va told the news chan­nel 112 Ukray­i­na.

    She said the Roma would be re-housed.

    “They them­selves under­stand that they can­not con­tin­ue liv­ing in the vil­lage. And our task is to keep them safe,” Ms Stoyko­va said.

    Only two of the Roma fam­i­lies liv­ing there owned their homes, she said, the oth­er six fam­i­lies were rent­ing.

    The Euro­pean Roma Rights Cen­tre has doc­u­ment­ed pre­vi­ous cas­es of Roma being tar­get­ed in Ukraine and liv­ing in extreme pover­ty there.

    More than 70% of Europe’s Roma are poor and mar­gin­alised, and dis­crim­i­na­tion against them is rife.

    ...

    “In a video mes­sage on Face­book (in Russ­ian) he said “anti-social ele­ments” were involved in “mas­sive drug-deal­ing” in Loshchyniv­ka.”

    And what was Odessa gov­er­nor Mikheil Saakashvili response to all this? Con­don­ing it and pil­ing on by call­ing the Roma a bunch of anti-social ele­ments and drug deal­ers.

    So that just hap­pened.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 29, 2016, 12:54 pm
  2. Here’s a sto­ry with chill­ing sim­i­lar­i­ties to the arson attack in Odessa: A Ukrain­ian TV sta­tion, Inter TV, was set on fire in Kiev after some­one threw a smoke bomb into the build­ing at the end of a protest against the sta­tion over its ‘pro-Russ­ian’ cov­er­age. The pro­tes­tors clear­ly weren’t very apolo­getic over set­ting the build­ing on fire and caus­ing mul­ti­ple injuries to the occu­pants inside since there were more pro­tes­tors out­side hold­ing signs say­ing things like “Burn, Inter, Burn” the next day

    Ukraine Today

    Poroshenko com­ments on Inter TV chan­nel arson attack

    Ukraine’s pres­i­dent warns that aggres­sor-state is try­ing to desta­bi­lize the coun­try

    Petro Poroshenko, the Pres­i­dent of Ukraine, con­demned an arson attack on Ukrain­ian Inter TV sta­tion as an attempt to desta­bi­lize the coun­try, and ordered the Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al’s Office to con­duct a thor­ough probe into the inci­dent.

    On Sep­tem­ber 4, TV Inter’s news depart­ment office was set on fire, nobody was seri­ous­ly hurt but sev­er­al peo­ple were treat­ed for smoke inhala­tion and anoth­er one suf­fered a bro­ken leg.

    “It is unac­cept­able that some­body breaks into the build­ing and com­mits an arson attack. I am con­fi­dent that this sit­u­a­tion has noth­ing to do with patri­ots. Today, it is even more harm­ful for Ukraine than any con­tacts with provo­ca­teurs,” Poroshenko not­ed.

    US diplo­mat­ic mis­sion in Ukraine has also con­demned the attack, urg­ing author­i­ties to con­duct a thor­ough inves­ti­ga­tion:

    ...

    The pres­i­dent has also instruct­ed the Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter to make every effort to ensure law and order on the streets of Kyiv and through­out Ukraine.

    “At the same time, a sce­nario of the aggres­sor-state when cer­tain media fund­ed by Rus­sia are try­ing to desta­bi­lize the domes­tic polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in Ukraine is also unac­cept­able. How­ev­er, the response to that must be absolute­ly legal,” the pres­i­dent said.

    On Mon­day sev­er­al dozens of pro­test­ers gath­ered out­side the chan­nel’s head office to ral­ly against its activ­i­ties.

    Police pres­ence was high as demon­stra­tors labelled Inter’s staff “Krem­lin’s agents.”

    The sta­tion is wide­ly regard­ed by many Ukraini­ans as being pro-Russ­ian. Posters read­ing “Burn, Inter, Burn” and “Inter Out” were seen on the pro­tec­tive fenc­ing, set by police.

    ““It is unac­cept­able that some­body breaks into the build­ing and com­mits an arson attack. I am con­fi­dent that this sit­u­a­tion has noth­ing to do with patri­ots. Today, it is even more harm­ful for Ukraine than any con­tacts with provocateurs,“Poroshenko not­ed.”

    Well, it’s nice to hear that Poroskenko isn’t open­ly endors­ing the torch­ing of media out­lets that rub the far-right the wrong way. But while it may or may not be the case that “this sit­u­a­tion has noth­ing to do with patri­ots”, as the arti­cle below describes it’s also a sit­u­a­tion that has noth­ing to do with the gov­ern­ment try­ing to change the sit­u­a­tion:

    For­eign Pol­i­cy

    Live by the Pen, Die by the Sword

    The war against jour­nal­ists in Ukraine is get­ting bloody.

    By Ian Bate­son
    Sep­tem­ber 6, 2016

    On the morn­ing of July 20, the idyl­lic calm of Kiev’s leafy cen­ter was shat­tered. A bomb plant­ed beneath award-win­ning jour­nal­ist Pavel Sheremet’s red Sub­aru explod­ed, killing him instant­ly and rain­ing down fiery debris on the qui­et boule­vard. Trig­gered by remote con­trol, the assas­si­na­tion was inten­tion­al­ly vis­i­ble, loud, and meant to send a mes­sage. What made the loss so hard for Kiev’s jour­nal­ist com­mu­ni­ty was that the 44-year-old Sheremet had sur­vived the intim­i­da­tion and cen­sor­ship that fol­lowed the col­lapse of the Sovi­et Union, mov­ing from his native Belarus to Rus­sia and final­ly to Ukraine, flee­ing author­i­tar­i­an pres­i­dents who aimed to con­trol the press to secure their own polit­i­cal sta­bil­i­ty. Sheremet’s death has made many in the media fear that Ukraine has returned to its dark­er days of jour­nal­ism.

    Whether or not Sheremet’s killing was meant to send a mes­sage, the author­i­ties’ response has sent its own. Know­ing Ukraine’s mis­er­able record for inves­ti­gat­ing vio­lence against jour­nal­ists, Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko quick­ly announced that U.S. inves­ti­ga­tors from the FBI would also be join­ing the case. But in the months since Poroshenko’s announce­ment, the inves­ti­ga­tion has stalled or nev­er start­ed in the first place — to date, there have been no arrests, and no sus­pects have been iden­ti­fied. Even a state­ment by the pros­e­cu­tor-gen­er­al not­ing that the first deputy head of the nation­al police had Sheremet under sur­veil­lance before the killing was not enough to impel the offi­cial to return ear­ly from his vaca­tion to answer ques­tions.

    Sheremet’s mur­der is an unpleas­ant reminder that Ukraine is fight­ing anoth­er war beyond the ongo­ing con­flict with pro-Russ­ian sep­a­ratists, one where jour­nal­ism has become a new and dan­ger­ous front. The fight against insti­tu­tion­al­ized cor­rup­tion that drove the Maid­an protests in the win­ter of 2014 rages on — and jour­nal­ists have become a major tar­get. The Insti­tute of Mass Infor­ma­tion (IMI), a Kiev-based non­govern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tion, has record­ed 113 crim­i­nal offens­es against reporters so far in 2016.

    This new vio­lence, as well as the government’s lack of response, is rem­i­nis­cent of the intim­i­da­tion and cen­sor­ship that the media faced under the regimes of for­mer Pres­i­dents Leonid Kuch­ma and Vik­tor Yanukovych. The most infa­mous mur­der in Ukraine’s media his­to­ry came in 2000, when Georgiy Gongadze, the founder of the country’s pre­miere inves­tiga­tive pub­li­ca­tion Ukrayin­s­ka Prav­da, was abduct­ed and lat­er decap­i­tat­ed. At a time of increas­ing media repres­sion under then-Pres­i­dent Kuch­ma, Gongadze was inves­ti­gat­ing the leader’s links to cor­rupt busi­ness­es and, pri­or to his abduc­tion, had said he was being harassed by the country’s secu­ri­ty ser­vices. Record­ings of Kuch­ma, pub­licly released in Novem­ber 2000 by oppo­si­tion politi­cian Olek­san­dr Moroz, which were passed on from one of the president’s body­guards, caught Kuch­ma order­ing the killing of Gongadze in cod­ed lan­guage. In the years that fol­lowed, suc­ces­sive inves­ti­ga­tions have failed to prove in court who ordered the mur­der, despite the record­ings. Every year on Sept. 16, the day Gongadze was abduct­ed, Ukrain­ian jour­nal­ists march down Kiev’s main boule­vard hold­ing aloft the images of killed jour­nal­ists. This year, Sheremet will be added to the list.

    The recent back­slid­ing on press free­dom has been fueled in large part by the ongo­ing war in east­ern Ukraine, where report­ing on the con­flict has brushed up against ris­ing nation­al­ism in the coun­try. In May, Myrotvorets, or “Peace­mak­er,” a Ukrain­ian web­site that claims to reveal infor­ma­tion about the “ene­mies of Ukraine” and is strong­ly sus­pect­ed of hav­ing gov­ern­ment links, pub­lished the names, employ­ers, email address­es, and phone num­bers of more than 4,000 local and inter­na­tion­al jour­nal­ists who had obtained press cre­den­tials from sep­a­ratists to cov­er the war in the east. Myrotvorets labeled thou­sands of jour­nal­ists, the major­i­ty of them Ukrain­ian or from West­ern coun­tries, accom­plices to ter­ror­ism, mak­ing their con­tact infor­ma­tion freely avail­able to the pub­lic and open for harass­ment. Anton Gerashchenko, an advi­sor to Ukraine’s Inte­ri­or Min­istry, pro­mot­ed the list of names on social media. Amid inter­na­tion­al crit­i­cism, Ukrain­ian Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov defend­ed his department’s actions on Face­book, say­ing that Myrotvorets was an ally and more impor­tant to him than com­plain­ing “lib­er­al sep­a­ratists.”

    The leak and offi­cial response were a major step back­ward for Ukraine and its gov­ern­ment, still strug­gling to live up to the lofty pop­u­lar expec­ta­tions of reform fol­low­ing the Maid­an protests that oust­ed Yanukovych. After weeks of out­cry from jour­nal­ists and mount­ing inter­na­tion­al pres­sure on Kiev, Poroshenko final­ly con­demned the Myrotvorets leak. But even in that brief moment of hope, there were signs that Ukrain­ian lead­ers failed to under­stand what jour­nal­ism is and why it’s nec­es­sary. In the same state­ment, Poroshenko called on jour­nal­ists not to write neg­a­tive arti­cles about Ukraine.

    Embold­ened by the lack of offi­cial response, anoth­er leak soon fol­lowed that con­tained jour­nal­ists’ cor­re­spon­dences with an offi­cial from sep­a­ratist-held Donet­sk who was respon­si­ble for eval­u­at­ing requests for accred­i­ta­tion and scans of their pass­ports. Since the orig­i­nal leak of infor­ma­tion in May, media free­dom in Ukraine has con­tin­ued to erode. Poroshenko’s state­ment was doubtless­ly an attempt to hedge inter­na­tion­al crit­i­cism and grow­ing domes­tic sen­ti­ment that jour­nal­ists were some­how work­ing against Ukraine. But, in prac­tice, the com­pro­mise meant that in the months after no legal action fol­lowed the con­dem­na­tion of the list and attacks against reporters have become more fre­quent.

    This capped off what had already been a trou­bling sum­mer for jour­nal­ists in Ukraine. A day before Sheremet was mur­dered, Maria Ryd­van, who works for Forbes’s Ukrain­ian out­let, was stabbed mul­ti­ple times, and days lat­er jour­nal­ist Sergey Golovnev was fol­lowed on the street and beat­en. In July, Hro­madske TV was the vic­tim of a pro-gov­ern­ment troll attack seek­ing to tar the inde­pen­dent tele­vi­sion sta­tion as a trai­tor for its crit­i­cal cov­er­age of nation­al­ist groups. For­eign jour­nal­ists who have crit­i­cized the dete­ri­o­ra­tion of the media envi­ron­ment have also come under fire, like Russ­ian jour­nal­ist Anna Nemtso­va, who received threats after writ­ing a series of arti­cles for the Dai­ly Beast in July and August. On Sep­tem­ber 4 the stu­dio of Inter TV, owned by Ukrain­ian oli­garch Dmytro Fir­tash and con­sid­ered by many Ukraini­ans to pro­vide pro-Russ­ian cov­er­age, caught fire in a poten­tial arson inci­dent dur­ing a protest against the chan­nel. Though it is unclear whether these events rep­re­sent an orga­nized cam­paign, they are a threat to gov­ern­men­tal reform and trans­paren­cy in Ukraine.

    In recent months, a com­mon top­ic of con­ver­sa­tion with jour­nal­ists in Kiev has been the fail­ure of police inves­ti­ga­tions to stop men­ac­ing intim­i­da­tion. As always, it is the local jour­nal­ists who face the most harass­ment and are the most vul­ner­a­ble. After Ukrain­ian jour­nal­ist Kristi­na Ber­dyn­skykh pub­lished an arti­cle on the busi­ness inter­ests of a mem­ber of par­lia­ment from Yanukovych’s for­mer par­ty, she began receiv­ing death threats. Ber­dyn­skykh went pub­lic with the threats on Face­book and spent hours in police sta­tions pro­vid­ing evi­dence and fill­ing out forms, but months lat­er the inves­ti­ga­tions have failed to yield any results. Russ­ian-born jour­nal­ist Kate­ri­na Ser­gatsko­va received a phone call threat­en­ing the life of her infant after her name — and phone num­ber — were includ­ed on the first list released by Myrotverets. She also received threats over Face­book against her life, but after inform­ing a police offi­cer inves­ti­gat­ing the Myrotvorets leak, she says no action has been tak­en.

    Despite the innate dan­ger of work­ing in this tense envi­ron­ment, the jour­nal­ist com­mu­ni­ty in Ukraine was ini­tial­ly divid­ed on how to react. To be a jour­nal­ist is to deal with a cer­tain amount of harass­ment, espe­cial­ly if you write about polit­i­cal­ly charged top­ics while the coun­try remains on a war foot­ing. Some felt that though they may receive threats, the like­li­hood of any­one fol­low­ing through was slim. But the mur­der of Sheremet has changed this cal­cu­lus.

    What has become clear is that gov­ern­ment offi­cials can’t — or won’t — pro­tect jour­nal­ists. Tetiana Popo­va, Ukraine’s deputy min­is­ter of infor­ma­tion pol­i­cy, resigned on Aug. 3, over what she said was the government’s fail­ure to take threats against jour­nal­ists seri­ous­ly. “I per­son­al­ly went to [the] nation­al police and gave some infor­ma­tion to [the] inves­ti­ga­tor from [the] nation­al police, but noth­ing hap­pened,” she said in an inter­view with Hro­madske TV, refer­ring to the infor­ma­tion she gave police after receiv­ing threats for defend­ing jour­nal­ists pub­licly fol­low­ing the Myrotvorets leak. Accord­ing to Popo­va, almost all the cas­es involv­ing threats against jour­nal­ists and their defend­ers aren’t being inves­ti­gat­ed prop­er­ly, includ­ing her own.

    Beyond the inad­e­quate response from author­i­ties, there is also increas­ing evi­dence that forces in the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment are work­ing to intim­i­date the media. The Inter­na­tion­al Fed­er­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists has said state secu­ri­ty ser­vices are believed to have “close links” with the ele­ments respon­si­ble for the Myrotvorets leak. Oksana Romanyuk, the direc­tor of IMI and the Ukrain­ian rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the press free­dom orga­ni­za­tion Reporters With­out Bor­ders, sees Myrotvorets as an out­growth of an ear­li­er pro-gov­ern­ment “inter­net army” project, which was com­posed of vol­un­teers orig­i­nal­ly orga­nized by the Min­istry of Infor­ma­tion in 2015 to counter Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da online. There is cur­rent­ly not enough evi­dence to prove that Myrotvorets or those behind the troll attack on Hro­madske TV are direct­ly linked to Kiev, but there is grow­ing con­cern among jour­nal­ists and watch­dog orga­ni­za­tions that gov­ern­ment forces could be using such out­sourced oper­a­tions to try to silence crit­ics while dodg­ing cul­pa­bil­i­ty.

    ...

    “What has become clear is that gov­ern­ment offi­cials can’t — or won’t — pro­tect jour­nal­ists. Tetiana Popo­va, Ukraine’s deputy min­is­ter of infor­ma­tion pol­i­cy, resigned on Aug. 3, over what she said was the government’s fail­ure to take threats against jour­nal­ists seri­ous­ly. “I per­son­al­ly went to [the] nation­al police and gave some infor­ma­tion to [the] inves­ti­ga­tor from [the] nation­al police, but noth­ing hap­pened,” she said in an inter­view with Hro­madske TV, refer­ring to the infor­ma­tion she gave police after receiv­ing threats for defend­ing jour­nal­ists pub­licly fol­low­ing the Myrotvorets leak. Accord­ing to Popo­va, almost all the cas­es involv­ing threats against jour­nal­ists and their defend­ers aren’t being inves­ti­gat­ed prop­er­ly, includ­ing her own.”

    That’s right, Tetiana Popo­va, the for­mer deputy min­is­ter of infor­ma­tion pol­i­cy, resigned last month after receiv­ing threats for pub­licly defend­ing jour­nal­ists who were receiv­ing threats. And so far none of the threats, includ­ing the threats to Popo­va, are being prop­er­ly inves­ti­gat­ed.

    It seems like the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­men­t’s qui­et announce­ment that its open sea­son on jour­nal­ists should be a big­ger sto­ry, Maybe not in Ukraine for obvi­ous rea­sons. But how about every­where else? Is this anoth­er sto­ry for the Ukraine mem­o­ry hole?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 8, 2016, 1:36 pm
  3. Here’s an arti­cle about the anti-Roma pogram that was just imple­ment­ed by a small vil­lage and appar­ent­ly approved of by the rest of the gov­ern­ment. The arti­cle was writ­ten by a jour­nal­ist who trav­eled to that region and queried the locals about their views of the Roma. It turns out almost every­one he talked to hate the Roma with a pas­sion. And, lo and behold, it also turns out most of them had lit­tle to no actu­al con­tact with their fel­low Roma cit­i­zens, at least no know­ing­ly since many Roma hide their eth­nic­i­ty due to ram­pant job dis­crim­i­na­tion, and instead most of locals sim­ply par­rot­ed the anti-Roma lessons they were taught as chil­dren. Anti-Roma Lessons that are even found in Ukrain­ian text­books. Also, the Azov Bat­tal­ion is already join­ing in on cre­at­ing a cli­mate of fear and intim­i­da­tion. So, yeah, it’s a pret­ty depress­ing arti­cle and one that demon­strates the kind of pop­ulist big­otry-on-autopi­lot that real­ly does not bode well for the Ukrain­ian peo­ple, Roma or oth­er­wise:

    open-democ­ra­cy
    Rus­sia and Beyond

    Old hatreds rekin­dled in Ukraine

    Max­im Tuck­er
    12 Sep­tem­ber 2016

    The mur­der of a young girl in a Ukrain­ian vil­lage has led to the expul­sion of local Roma fam­i­lies. In the after­math, observers are ask­ing whether Roma have a place in today’s Ukraine.

    A bar­bie doll in a plas­tic case marks the patch of earth where her body was found. In the vil­lage square a hun­dred metres away, police loi­ter with Kalash­nikovs, shel­ter­ing from the evening sun in a shady tree­line. A cot­tage across from them stands aban­doned, win­dows smashed, walls charred. The flames that con­sumed the house’s insides have reached out and licked black pat­terns on its white paint.

    For two hun­dred years, Loshchyniv­ka has been a qui­et place to live. Flung out in the west­ern­most reach­es of the Odessa region, south­ern Ukraine, the vil­lage is clos­er to Moldo­va and Roma­nia than to the seat of its region­al gov­ern­ment. Farm­ing dom­i­nates vil­lage life. Births, mar­riages and har­vests mark its high points, funer­als its low ones. Its 1,300 inhab­i­tants — eth­nic Bul­gar­i­ans, Ukraini­ans, Rus­sians and Roma — all share the same steady, pre­dictable rur­al cycle. A cycle shat­tered by the mur­der of nine-year-old Angeli­na Moi­seyenko on 27 August.

    The sav­age nature of Angelina’s killing stunned the settlement’s close com­mu­ni­ty. A local goat herder dis­cov­ered her small body stripped, bruised and blood­ied. She had been stabbed repeat­ed­ly with a screw­driv­er.

    “It was even worse than bru­tal — stab wounds and sticks pen­e­trat­ing every­where they could,” said Vik­tor Paskalov, the vil­lage chief. “She was raped. The worst crime we’ve ever had.”

    When her younger broth­er’s tes­ti­mo­ny led offi­cers to her sus­pect­ed killer, 21 year-old Mykhail Cheb­o­tar, a half-Roma, half-Bul­gar­i­an man who had grown up with the girl’s step­fa­ther, the vil­lagers could not con­tain their fury. Thirst­ing to avenge a sense­less, loath­some crime, they com­mit­ted one of their own.

    Watch this video of the attack on Roma homes in Loshchyniv­ka, 27 August.

    Although Cheb­o­tar was imme­di­ate­ly detained, a mob of around 300 men and teenage boys charged through the tiny vil­lage, seek­ing out the homes of five eth­nic Roma fam­i­lies.

    “They gath­ered at five and by eight they start­ed smash­ing up our hous­es and shout­ing,” said Zinai­da Damask­i­na, a 30 year-old Roma woman forced to flee with her two young sons. “What did we have to wait for? When they will kill us? So we didn’t take any­thing. We didn’t have a choice. We could only run.”

    The assailants, pre­dom­i­nant­ly eth­nic Bul­gar­i­ans, over­looked the suspect’s mixed her­itage in their eager­ness to blame the crime on bad blood. They even over­looked the suspect’s fam­i­ly home and his rel­a­tives. Instead, the mob chased out unre­lat­ed Roma fam­i­lies, many with small chil­dren of their own. They hurled rocks, kicked in doors and set homes ablaze. A hand­ful of uni­formed police offi­cers watched on, fail­ing to stop the pogrom.

    After the Roma had been hound­ed out, the vil­lage coun­cil passed a res­o­lu­tion attempt­ing to legit­imise the vio­lence by for­mal­ly expelling them. It organ­ised bus­es to fer­ry them out to Izmail, the near­est town.

    Old hatreds, new sparks

    A pic­turesque city of some 72,000 peo­ple, Izmail perch­es on the last Ukrain­ian curve of the Danube riv­er, flanked by the wild wood­lands of Roma­nia. The city’s once impor­tant port ter­mi­nal is now a rust­ing Sovi­et rel­ic, but the town retains a large and live­ly mar­ket.

    Many of the region’s Roma sell clothes and veg­eta­bles there, so I stopped by a stall and asked a mid­dle-aged Ukrain­ian woman where I might find Roma from Loshchyniv­ka. After giv­ing me direc­tions, she offered me her unso­licit­ed opin­ion of her fel­low mar­ket ven­dors: “They should all be cas­trat­ed, the gyp­sy bas­tards.”

    The woman’s vit­ri­ol high­light­ed how events at Loshchyniv­ka are only the lat­est symp­tom of a deep-root­ed nation­al dis­ease, now metas­ta­sis­ing at an alarm­ing rate. Roma rights groups fear the mur­der has unleashed a fresh wave of vio­lence and prej­u­dice across the coun­try.

    “A TV poll showed that 65% of Ukraini­ans sup­port­ed the pogroms against Roma in Loshchyniv­ka,” said Zem­fi­ra Kon­dur, Vice-Pres­i­dent of the Roma Women’s Fund Chirik­li. “Far-right groups are using that and we’re afraid that we will have more cas­es of hate attacks against Roma in dif­fer­ent areas.”

    In the wake of the village’s expul­sion of its Roma, the Azov bat­tal­ion, an influ­en­tial nation­al­ist group which has units fight­ing in east­ern Ukraine, issued an inflam­ma­to­ry state­ment sup­port­ing the move. The state­ment brand­ed Loschynivka’s Roma an “eth­nic mafia” led by “Gyp­sy Barons”. It false­ly claimed they ran drug lab­o­ra­to­ries in the vil­lage and were guilty of “rob­beries, phys­i­cal vio­lence, intim­i­da­tion and drug traf­fick­ing.”

    Days lat­er, in Uzh­gorod, a town 600km north­west of Loshchyniv­ka, a group of gun-wield­ing young men assault­ed a Roma fam­i­ly, fir­ing shots and beat­ing them. Sus­pect­ing ultra­na­tion­al­ist motives, one of their vic­tims told his attack­ers that he had recent­ly returned from the front. They left abrupt­ly. The fam­i­ly said they had no idea who they were or what had pro­voked the vio­lence.

    “Ten­sions between Roma fam­i­lies and local Ukraini­ans were already high in many places, but after Loshchyniv­ka, those ten­sions increased,” Kon­dur explained. “There were already sev­er­al cas­es of con­flict and it’s get­ting worse.”

    Racism against Roma, or antizigan­ism, is one of Europe’s endur­ing and vir­u­lent eth­nic hatreds. Suc­ces­sive emper­ors of the Holy Roman Empire ordered all “gyp­sies” to be put to death upon dis­cov­ery dur­ing the 18th cen­tu­ry.

    Hitler’s geno­ci­dal slaugh­ter of hun­dreds of thou­sands of Roma in the 20th cen­tu­ry still gen­er­ates far less research and recog­ni­tion than the Holo­caust. Esti­mates of the dead range from to 220,000 to 1.5 mil­lion. Even today, antizigan­ism goes large­ly unchal­lenged by the soci­eties and gov­ern­ments of cen­tral and east­ern Europe.

    Across the continent’s east­ern swathe, prej­u­dice is ingrained from an ear­ly age. Par­ents rou­tine­ly warn their chil­dren to beware of Roma, lest they take them away and force them to beg. That warn­ing is repro­duced in Ukrain­ian school text­books.

    Many east­ern Euro­peans (inside and out­side the EU) are unabashed in their neg­a­tive opin­ions of Roma. Even those who are well-edu­cat­ed, pro­gres­sive and well aware that racism is unac­cept­able.

    “I am pret­ty racist when it comes to them. They are une­d­u­cat­ed peo­ple, bad, only look­ing to cheat, to steal, to make easy mon­ey,” a 24 year-old Roman­ian IT con­sul­tant con­fid­ed to me.

    “They are filthy, impres­sive­ly lazy, repro­duce from a very young age just to drain the social sys­tem, very rarely get jobs,” a west­ern-edu­cat­ed Bul­gar­i­an added.

    Such unpalat­able views were echoed by strangers dur­ing my jour­ney south from Kiev and across the Odessa region, as well as Ukrain­ian friends and col­leagues I had con­sid­ered lib­er­al.

    “Crim­i­nal ele­ments”

    Ukraine’s last cen­sus, in 2001, count­ed some 40,000 Roma in Ukraine. Roma organ­i­sa­tions say the count failed to include thou­sands of undoc­u­ment­ed groups and the cur­rent fig­ure is clos­er to 250,000.

    Most of these groups are con­cen­trat­ed in west­ern and south­ern Ukraine after thou­sands of Roma fled fight­ing and per­se­cu­tion in areas of east­ern Ukraine occu­pied by rebel and Russ­ian forces. With­out doc­u­ments, many are unable to access the assis­tance that dis­placed Ukraini­ans are enti­tled to (though don’t always receive) after leav­ing behind their homes and liveli­hoods.

    Since Loshchyniv­ka, per­cep­tions of Roma crim­i­nal­i­ty have been rein­forced by Ukrain­ian media and politi­cians. Most cov­er­age of the pogrom was sym­pa­thet­ic to the aggres­sors, focus­ing on the alle­ga­tions of drugs traf­fick­ing and pet­ty crime as jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the vio­lence.

    Com­ments by Odessa’s region­al gov­er­nor, Mikheil Saakashvili, appeared to sup­port that nar­ra­tive. “I ful­ly share the out­rage of the res­i­dents of Loshchyniv­ka,” Saakashvili, the for­mer pres­i­dent of Geor­gia, told reporters after Angelina’s funer­al. “There was a real den of iniq­ui­ty, there is mas­sive drug-deal­ing in which the anti-social ele­ments that live there are engaged. We should have fun­da­men­tal­ly dealt with this prob­lem ear­li­er — and now it’s sim­ply oblig­a­tory.”

    How­ev­er, when I met with Odessa region’s police chief Gior­gi Lortkipanidze, he dis­missed the idea of a crim­i­nal core in the vil­lage. “In the past year, there were 28 crim­i­nal cas­es in Loshchyniv­ka and only one involved Roma. There were absolute­ly no drug crimes in the vil­lage,” Lortkipanidze told me.

    “I stayed there for three days and no one said they had faced Roma crim­i­nal­i­ty and had called the police about this. We went with those peo­ple who alleged there was a drugs fac­to­ry, searched the area and no drugs were found.

    “I’m a police­man, I always check facts before speak­ing,” he added. “Mr. Saakashvili is a politi­cian, he hears the pub­lic mood and then makes state­ments.”

    Sub­se­quent police raids on drug fac­to­ries in Izmail and vil­lages around Loshchyniv­ka have con­fused the issue, turn­ing up auto­mat­ic weapons and huge hauls of nar­cotics. The raids have been used to sup­port Saakashvili’s state­ment, with­out mak­ing clear that none of the drugs or weapons were found in Loshchyniv­ka or in hous­es occu­pied by Roma.

    When I ques­tioned Saakashvili about his ear­li­er com­ments, he told me that by “crim­i­nal ele­ments” he had not been refer­ring to Roma and that his words had been mis­in­ter­pret­ed. “I absolute­ly strong­ly con­demn the attacks on Roma in Loshchyniv­ka,” he said. “We will not allow any force­ful relo­ca­tion of peo­ple.”

    Suc­cess sto­ries

    Sat at a leafy park café in Izmail, I was wait­ing to meet two mem­bers of the local Roma com­mu­ni­ty when a young Roma boy, no more than ten years old, approached my table.

    He asked me what I was doing in Izmail. I asked him if he knew what had hap­pened in Loshchyniv­ka and if he had rel­a­tives there. He had heard they were chased out for killing a girl, he said. Unfazed, the boy got straight to the point. “Give me mon­ey,” he smiled with an ear-to-ear grin. I asked where his par­ents were. “I do what I want,” he smiled wider still. “Give me that cam­era,” he demand­ed, eye­ing it greed­i­ly. I laughed him off.

    Sim­i­lar scenes are played out in towns and cities across Ukraine every day. Dozens of Ukraini­ans have told me per­son­al sto­ries of being harassed or robbed by peo­ple they believed to be Roma. For many of them, it was the only time they had know­ing­ly inter­act­ed with a com­mu­ni­ty which they had been warned away from as chil­dren. Had they been sat in the café instead of me, they would have no idea that two Roma men were work­ing hard across the street in a plumb­ing shop, their eth­nic­i­ty kept secret in order to find employ­ment.

    “If they know that a per­son is Roma, they won’t give him a job,” said Vladimir Kun­dadar, pres­i­dent of Izmail’s Roma coun­cil. “There are many smart, well-edu­cat­ed Roma, but to achieve some­thing they have to hide that they are Roma, don’t show peo­ple that they are in touch with oth­er Roma.”

    In rur­al areas, where the vast major­i­ty of Roma live, the dif­fi­cul­ty in find­ing a job can be over­come by grow­ing their own pro­duce and sell­ing it at a local mar­ket. In fact, although the eth­nic­i­ty of a Roma crim­i­nal may be more vis­i­ble to a vic­tim, there are no sta­tis­tics to indi­cate they are more like­ly to com­mit crime than oth­er eth­nic­i­ties. A 2013 study pub­lished by the Kharkiv Insti­tute of Social Research actu­al­ly found that the rate of crime com­mit­ted by Roma in rur­al areas of Ukraine was 2.5 times less than that of wider Ukrain­ian soci­ety.

    In urban areas how­ev­er, beg­ging or crime may become the only alter­na­tive to star­va­tion. Access to edu­ca­tion and encour­age­ment, Roma activists insist, is the key to pre­vent­ing this.

    “Two years ago I was robbed by poor Roma near a shop. They knew I was Roma too, but they didn’t care,” said Volodymr Kon­dur, head of the Odessa Roma human rights cen­ter. “After that I could have said they are a bad peo­ple and I will not help them any­more. But I didn’t.

    “You need to under­stand that these peo­ple need atten­tion to get out of eco­nom­ic and psy­cho­log­i­cal dif­fi­cul­ties. Show them that there are oth­er oppor­tu­ni­ties.”

    One of the key tasks for activists is to pro­mote Roma suc­cess sto­ries inside and out­side Roma com­mu­ni­ties, break­ing down stereo­types and pre­vent­ing the most impov­er­ished fam­i­lies from falling into them. They want to show that there are suc­cess­ful Roma writ­ers, mechan­ics, mer­chants, stu­dents, sci­en­tists and sports­men across the coun­try.

    It’s not easy. In the week after the mur­der, a social media cam­paign was launched fea­tur­ing pho­tos of well-groomed young Roma hold­ing plac­ards say­ing “I am not a crim­i­nal” It received almost no cov­er­age in Ukrain­ian media.

    Break­ing the cycle

    Despite a gov­ern­ment action plan, there is no real state sup­port for Roma efforts. “There are three staff mem­bers with­in the Min­istry of Cul­ture respon­si­ble for imple­ment­ing the ‘Strat­e­gy on Pro­tec­tion and Inte­gra­tion of Roma Minor­i­ty into Ukrain­ian Soci­ety by 2020’, but they have no bud­get,” explains Yana Salakho­va, a spe­cial­ist on coun­ter­act­ing racism and xeno­pho­bia at the Inter­na­tion­al Orga­ni­za­tion for Migra­tion.

    Indeed, Ukraine’s insane lev­el of bureau­cra­cy and fail­ure to make good on its con­sti­tu­tion­al promise of free state health­care and edu­ca­tion keeps many Roma locked in a cycle of pover­ty and vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty.

    Enrolling chil­dren in a state kinder­garten requires doc­u­men­ta­tion and cash for bribes that Roma fam­i­lies, often on the move, are unlike­ly to have. Once at school, Roma chil­dren can be placed in seg­re­gat­ed class­es or entire­ly sep­a­rate insti­tu­tions with low­er stan­dards.

    Doc­tors, paid a dire wage by the state and des­per­ate­ly short of med­ical sup­plies, may refuse to treat Roma under the assump­tion that they can’t pay the going rate for what should be a free pro­ce­dure.

    “I was in a small vil­lage near Kirovo­grad with a Roma woman, who told me she was preg­nant, went to the hos­pi­tal and the doc­tors refused to help her deliv­er, because they were con­cerned she wouldn’t have enough mon­ey to pay for her cae­sare­an,” said Chirikli’s Zem­fi­ra Kon­dur. “By the time they agreed to do it, the baby was in a coma.”

    ...

    “Most of these groups are con­cen­trat­ed in west­ern and south­ern Ukraine after thou­sands of Roma fled fight­ing and per­se­cu­tion in areas of east­ern Ukraine occu­pied by rebel and Russ­ian forces. With­out doc­u­ments, many are unable to access the assis­tance that dis­placed Ukraini­ans are enti­tled to (though don’t always receive) after leav­ing behind their homes and liveli­hoods.

    That’s some­thing impor­tant to keep in mind in all this: What­ev­er anti-Roma sen­ti­ments exist­ed before the war were bound to get sig­nif­i­cant­ly worse after the con­flict broke out and sent thou­sands of peo­ple flee­ing. And as we just saw, the pre-war anti-Roma sen­ti­ment was already pret­ty damn appalling. The fact that the under­ly­ing theme of Ukraine’s civ­il war is basi­cal­ly eth­no-nation­al­ism does­n’t help.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 14, 2016, 6:15 pm
  4. Oh great, look who start­ed a new polit­i­cal par­ty: the Avoz Bat­tal­ion:

    Kyiv Post

    Nation­al­ist Azov Bat­tal­ion starts polit­i­cal par­ty

    By Bermet Talant.
    Pub­lished Oct. 15. Updat­ed Oct. 15 at 6:41 pm

    The death penal­ty for cor­rup­tion, the expan­sion of pres­i­den­tial pow­er, and the sev­er­ance of diplo­mat­ic rela­tions with Rus­sia – these are just a few of the poli­cies pro­posed by the Nation­al Corps, a new­ly estab­lished right-wing polit­i­cal par­ty cre­at­ed by the Azov Bat­tal­ion.

    The bat­tal­ion, a Ukrain­ian Nation­al Guard unit often described as sup­port­ing neo-Nazi ide­ol­o­gy and accused of human rights vio­la­tions, pre­sent­ed its new polit­i­cal par­ty and its rather rad­i­cal statute on Oct. 14.

    The polit­i­cal con­ven­tion in Kyiv gath­ered around 292 del­e­gates from all regions of Ukraine. Azov’s com­man­der, Andriy Bilet­sky, was unan­i­mous­ly elect­ed as the par­ty leader for a four-year term.

    “We will be dif­fer­ent from oth­er par­ties. Every­one will see it in 3–4 months. We won’t be a par­ty for TV debates. We want to work on real projects and imple­ment them our­selves, be it in the envi­ron­ment, or secu­ri­ty, or extreme­ly impor­tant issues of the moment,” said Bilet­sky in inter­view with Hro­madske Radio.

    The Nation­al Corps backs con­sti­tu­tion­al changes, includ­ing the expan­sion of pres­i­den­tial pow­ers by grant­i­ng the pres­i­dent the author­i­ties both of com­man­der-in-chief and head of the gov­ern­ment. The par­ty also wants to start a pub­lic debate on the restora­tion of the death penal­ty for trea­son, and for embez­zle­ment by top-rank­ing pub­lic offi­cials.

    More­over, the par­ty wants Ukraine to rearm itself with nuclear weapons, and nation­al­ize com­pa­nies that were pub­lic prop­er­ty in 1991 when Ukraine gained inde­pen­dence.

    In for­eign pol­i­cy, the Nation­al Corps sup­ports the sev­er­ance of diplo­mat­ic rela­tions with Rus­sia until its forces leave Crimea and the Don­bas, and Moscow pays war repa­ra­tion. In the mean­time, Ukraine should focus on devel­op­ing com­pre­hen­sive coop­er­a­tion with the Baltic and Black sea states.

    Final­ly, the Nation­al Corps called for cit­i­zens to have the right to armed self-defense, which became a mat­ter of debate in Ukraine in 2015.

    Azov’s nation­al­ist con­ven­tion cul­mi­nat­ed with the Nation March in the evening, which it orga­nized togeth­er with the Right Sec­tor, anoth­er far-right orga­ni­za­tion.

    An esti­mat­ed 5,000 peo­ple walked with torch­es and flags from the Moth­er Home­land mon­u­ment to St. Sofia Square chant­i­ng “Death to the ene­mies!” and “Glo­ry to Ukraine, glo­ry to the heroes!”

    “I joined the march because I believe in a free Ukraine,” said one young man wear­ing a face mask with the yel­low and blue emblem of Azov Bat­tal­ion, which resem­bles a Wolf­san­gel, a sym­bol asso­ci­at­ed with Nazism. “We have friends and rel­a­tives who fought or fight in the east. Our ances­tors were Cos­sacks and also defend­ed our home­land. We must nev­er for­get them.”

    ...

    “More­over, the par­ty wants Ukraine to rearm itself with nuclear weapons, and nation­al­ize com­pa­nies that were pub­lic prop­er­ty in 1991 when Ukraine gained inde­pen­dence.”

    Azov wants nukes. Imag­ine that. It rais­es a ques­tion that would be rather fas­ci­nat­ing in the con­text of the US elec­tion and Don­ald Trump’s casu­al embrace of both nuclear pro­lif­er­a­tion and far-right extrem­ism: Would Trump sup­port the idea of Ukraine arm­ing itself with nukes? How about if Azov is run­ning the gov­ern­ment at the time? They’re kind of like an extra-mil­i­tant Alt-Right move­ment, so Trump would pre­sum­ably have at least some­what fond feel­ings towards them. Would Azov in charge make him more or less inclined to sup­port nukes for Ukraine? Hope­ful­ly we’ll nev­er see a sit­u­a­tion where Trump and Azov both ascend to posi­tions of pow­er and nev­er real­ly get an answer to these ques­tions, but it would be inter­est­ing to get an answer from Trump about that any­way.

    So is this the path for­ward for Azov? Pol­i­tics? No more threats to “march on Kiev”? Or is this just a phase:

    Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty

    Right-Wing Azov Bat­tal­ion Enters Ukraine’s Polit­i­cal Are­na

    Octo­ber 14, 2016

    KYIV — Ukraine’s far-right Azov Bat­tal­ion has offi­cial­ly cre­at­ed a polit­i­cal par­ty.

    Greet­ed by chants of “Death to ene­mies!” at an inau­gur­al par­ty con­gress in Kyiv on Octo­ber 14, Azov’s new polit­i­cal head, Nazar Kravchenko, told some 300 atten­dees, many in mil­i­tary fatigues, that the par­ty would work to defend Ukraine against Russ­ian aggres­sion.

    The gath­er­ing coin­cid­ed with tra­di­tion­al nation­al­ist events mark­ing the cre­ation of the con­tro­ver­sial World War II-era Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army (UPA) and to cel­e­brate Ukrain­ian Cos­sacks.

    ...

    Cred­it­ed with recap­tur­ing the strate­gic port city of Mar­i­upol from Rus­sia-backed sep­a­ratists in 2014, Azov is a for­mer vol­un­teer mili­tia now includ­ed in the Nation­al Guard.

    Due to mem­bers’ far-right ide­ol­o­gy and mil­i­tan­cy, detrac­tors believe the fight­ing force might also pose a threat to Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko and the sta­bil­i­ty of the state.

    Kravchenko told the Hro­madske news site he hopes form­ing a par­ty will give Azov greater polit­i­cal influ­ence.

    “There are sev­er­al ways of com­ing to pow­er, but we are try­ing some­thing through elec­tions, but we have all sorts of pos­si­bil­i­ties,” he said.

    Azov’s sym­bol is sim­i­lar to the Nazi Wolf­san­gel but the group claims it is com­prised of the let­ters N and I, mean­ing “nation­al idea.”

    Human rights orga­ni­za­tions have accused the Azov Bat­tal­ion of tor­ture.

    “There are sev­er­al ways of com­ing to pow­er, but we are try­ing some­thing through elec­tions, but we have all sorts of pos­si­bil­i­ties”.

    Huh, it sounds like Azov has a kind of “vote for us or we’re tak­ing pow­er any­way” implic­it plat­form. It would be inter­est­ing to hear Trump’s opin­ion on that too.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 20, 2016, 2:37 pm
  5. Here’s some­thing worth watch­ing: With the big ques­tions over what the US’s posi­tion is going to be regard­ing its rela­tion­ship with both Rus­sia and, in turn, its rela­tion­ship with Ukraine and the ongo­ing civ­il war, it’s worth not­ing that Cana­da recent­ly appoint­ed Chrys­tia Free­land, and staunch­ly anti-Russ­ian MP with Ukrain­ian roots. And while that would sug­gest that Cana­da is going to be main­tain­ing the posi­tion it held regard­ing Ukraine and Rus­sia that it held in the pre-Trump era, that has­n’t quelled Cana­di­an con­cerns in Kiev (although it looks like Cana­da is going to be renew­ing its Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary aid):

    The Globe and Mail

    Cana­da set to renew Ukraine mil­i­tary train­ing mis­sion amid Trump fears

    Robert Fife And Mark MacK­in­non

    Ottawa and Kiev — The Globe and Mail

    Pub­lished Mon­day, Feb. 20, 2017 11:57AM EST
    Last updat­ed Tues­day, Feb. 21, 2017 7:19AM EST

    Cana­da is set to renew a mil­i­tary mis­sion train­ing Ukrain­ian troops to con­front Rus­sia-backed sep­a­ratists in the east of Ukraine, despite con­cerns in Kiev over delays in announc­ing the exten­sion of the pro­gram.

    The Trudeau cab­i­net has not yet announced the exten­sion of the two-year-old non-com­bat mis­sion, dubbed Oper­a­tion Uni­fi­er, which expires on March 31. The silence has sparked wor­ries in Kiev, where the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment is anx­ious for West­ern reas­sur­ance fol­low­ing the elec­tion of U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who has expressed inter­est in strik­ing some kind of bar­gain with Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin that could include low­er­ing U.S. sanc­tions imposed over Moscow’s role in Ukraine.

    “The longer it takes to [extend] the mis­sion, the more our con­cern is ris­ing,” Ukraine’s deputy for­eign min­is­ter, Vadym Prys­taiko, told The Globe and Mail in an inter­view at his office in Kiev.

    But a senior Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment offi­cial said Ukraine didn’t need to wor­ry about the future of Oper­a­tion Uni­fi­er, which has seen a rotat­ing con­tin­gent of 200 Cana­di­an troops train more than 3,100 Ukrain­ian sol­diers since arriv­ing in the coun­try two years ago.

    “Cana­da under­stands that Ukraine, and every­body who is a stake­hold­er and sup­port­er, real­ly wants mis­sion renew­al,” the senior offi­cial said. “There is noth­ing unique about going through a mis­sion renew­al process and there is absolute­ly noth­ing unique about how this one is being done. It is a rou­tine renew­al from a gov­ern­ment that has been mak­ing pos­i­tive signs.”

    Mr. Prys­taiko said Ukraine was broad­ly con­cerned by the Lib­er­al government’s efforts to rebuild rela­tions between Ottawa and Moscow, which were in a deep freeze under for­mer Con­ser­v­a­tive prime min­is­ter Stephen Harp­er, who famous­ly told Mr. Putin to his face that he need­ed to “get out of Ukraine.”

    The efforts of Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau’s gov­ern­ment to restart con­tacts with Rus­sia via forums such as the Arc­tic Coun­cil have rung alarm bells in Kiev, which is con­cerned that Canada’s pre­vi­ous­ly unwa­ver­ing sup­port for Ukraine may be weak­en­ing.

    “Each and every thing – even if it’s not con­nect­ed [to the war in Ukraine] – will be used by Rus­sia back home to say, ‘Look, these bloody West­ern­ers, they real­ize they were wrong, they are look­ing for ways to recon­nect with us,’” Mr. Prys­taiko said.

    But the senior Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment offi­cial not­ed that as recent­ly as Fri­day, Chief of the Defence Staff Gen­er­al Jonathan Vance reit­er­at­ed Canada’s sup­port for Ukraine at a con­fer­ence in Ottawa. Defence Min­is­ter Har­jit Saj­jan has also repeat­ed­ly expressed Canada’s sup­port for Ukraine, as has For­eign Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land.

    Ms. Free­land, in par­tic­u­lar, is seen in Kiev and Moscow as a staunch backer of Ukraine, hav­ing opposed many of her pre­de­ces­sor Stéphane Dion’s efforts to reach out to Rus­sia dur­ing his 14-month stint as for­eign min­is­ter. Ms. Free­land is among 13 Cana­di­ans who are barred from enter­ing Rus­sia under sanc­tions imposed by Moscow in retal­i­a­tion for Canada’s own mea­sures tar­get­ing Russ­ian and Ukrain­ian politi­cians over the annex­a­tion of Crimea and the war in Ukraine’s Don­bass.

    Cana­da, Britain and the Unit­ed States have had mil­i­tary train­ers in Ukraine since the sum­mer of 2015, arriv­ing one year after Moscow – furi­ous over a pro-West­ern rev­o­lu­tion in Kiev – annexed the Crimean Penin­su­la and helped stir up a sep­a­ratist insur­gency in Ukraine’s Donet­sk and Lugan­sk regions.

    ...

    “The efforts of Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau’s gov­ern­ment to restart con­tacts with Rus­sia via forums such as the Arc­tic Coun­cil have rung alarm bells in Kiev, which is con­cerned that Canada’s pre­vi­ous­ly unwa­ver­ing sup­port for Ukraine may be weak­en­ing.”

    Will a thaw in rela­tions between Ottawa and Moscow chill Canada’s unwa­ver­ing sup­port for the Kiev gov­ern­ment in Ukraine’s civ­il war? That’s the ques­tion Kiev appears to be ask­ing with increas­ing angst, although the appoint­ment of Chrys­tia Free­land seems like a pret­ty strong sig­nal that Canada’s for­eign min­istry, at a min­i­mum, is going to be very unin­ter­est­ed in any thaw­ing of Canadian/Russian rela­tions:

    Con­sor­tium News

    A Nazi Skele­ton in the Fam­i­ly Clos­et

    Exclu­sive: Canada’s fierce­ly anti-Russ­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land says her Ukrain­ian grand­fa­ther strug­gled “to return free­dom and democ­ra­cy to Ukraine,” but she leaves out that he was a Nazi pro­pa­gan­dist jus­ti­fy­ing the slaugh­ter of Jews, writes Ari­na Tsukano­va.

    By Ari­na Tsukano­va
    Feb­ru­ary 27, 2017

    On Jan. 10, Cana­di­an Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau replaced For­eign Min­is­ter Stephane Dion with Chrys­tia Free­land, a for­mer jour­nal­ist proud of her Ukrain­ian roots and well-known for her hos­til­i­ty toward Rus­sia. At the time, a big ques­tion in Ottawa was why. Some ana­lysts believed that Trudeau’s deci­sion may have start­ed when it still seemed like­ly that Hillary Clin­ton would become the new U.S. pres­i­dent and a tough line against Moscow was expect­ed in Wash­ing­ton.

    How­ev­er, by the time the switch was made, Don­ald Trump was on his way into the White House and Trudeau’s choice meant that Cana­da was ally­ing itself more with the mount­ing hos­til­i­ty toward Rus­sia inside the Euro­pean Union than with Pres­i­dent Trump’s hopes for a more coop­er­a­tive rela­tion­ship with the Krem­lin. With Free­land run­ning Canada’s For­eign Min­istry, the chance for a shared view between Ottawa and Wash­ing­ton sud­den­ly seemed remote.

    Peo­ple who have fol­lowed Freeland’s career were aware that her idée fixe for decades has been that Ukraine must be ripped out of the Russ­ian sphere of influ­ence. Her views fit with the intense Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism of her mater­nal grand­par­ents who immi­grat­ed to Cana­da after World War II and whom she has por­trayed as vic­tims of Josef Stal­in and the Red Army.

    So, Free­land cel­e­brat­ed the Sovi­et col­lapse in 1991, which enabled Ukraine to gain its inde­pen­dence. Free­land, then in her ear­ly 20s, was work­ing in Kiev as a stringer for The Finan­cial Times and The Wash­ing­ton Post, shin­ing with delight over the emer­gence of a “New Ukraine.”

    By the next decade, work­ing as the U.S. man­ag­ing edi­tor of The Finan­cial Times, she proud­ly inter­viewed then-Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yushchenko, who had won con­trol as a result of the 2004 “Orange Rev­o­lu­tion.” In her approach to jour­nal­ism, Free­land made clear her com­mit­ment to foment Ukrain­ian-Russ­ian ten­sions in any pos­si­ble way. Indeed, dur­ing her jour­nal­is­tic career, which end­ed in 2013 when she won a seat in Canada’s par­lia­ment, Free­land remained fierce­ly anti-Russ­ian.

    In 2014, Yushchenko’s rival Vik­tor Yanukovych was Ukraine’s elect­ed pres­i­dent while Cana­di­an MP Free­land urged on the “Euro-Maid­an” protests against Yanukovych and his desire to main­tain friend­ly rela­tions with Moscow. On Jan. 27, 2014, as the protests grew more vio­lent with ultra-nation­al­ist street fight­ers mov­ing to the fore­front and fire­bomb­ing police, Free­land vis­it­ed Kiev and pub­lished an op-ed in The Globe and Mail blam­ing the vio­lence on Yanukovych.

    “Demo­c­ra­t­ic val­ues are rarely chal­lenged as direct­ly as they are being today in Ukraine,” Free­land wrote, argu­ing that the pro­test­ers, not the elect­ed pres­i­dent, rep­re­sent­ed democ­ra­cy and the rule of law. “Their vic­to­ry will be a vic­to­ry for us all; their defeat will weak­en democ­ra­cy far from the Euro­maid­an. We are all Ukraini­ans now. Let’s do what we can — which is a lot — to sup­port them.”

    Ukraine’s ‘Regime Change’

    Freeland’s op-ed appeared at about the same time as her ide­o­log­i­cal ally, U.S. Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of State Vic­to­ria Nuland, was caught on an inse­cure phone line dis­cussing with U.S. Ambas­sador to Ukraine Geof­frey Pyatt who the new lead­ers of Ukraine should be. “Yats is the guy,” Nuland said about Arseniy Yat­senyuk while dis­miss­ing the E.U.’s less aggres­sive approach to the cri­sis with the pithy remark, “Fu ck the E.U.” Nuland and Pyatt then pon­dered how to “glue this thing” and “mid­wife this thing.”

    Sev­er­al weeks lat­er, on Feb. 20, a mys­te­ri­ous sniper shot both police and pro­test­ers, touch­ing off a day of bloody may­hem. On Feb. 22, armed riot­ers seized gov­ern­ment build­ings and forced Yanukovych to flee for his life. He was then impeached with­out the con­sti­tu­tion­al rules being fol­lowed. Yat­senyuk became prime min­is­ter, and West­ern gov­ern­ments quick­ly pro­nounced the new regime “legit­i­mate.”

    The new xeno­pho­bic regime in Kiev – bristling with hos­til­i­ty toward eth­nic Russ­ian Ukraini­ans – did not embar­rass Free­land. As Canada’s new­ly appoint­ed min­is­ter of inter­na­tion­al trade, Free­land met fre­quent­ly with Ukrain­ian offi­cials, more so than with many of Canada’s lead­ing trade part­ners.

    But the more trou­bling ques­tion is whether Freeland’s devo­tion to Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism is root­ed not in her com­mit­ment to the “rule of law” or “demo­c­ra­t­ic val­ues” or even the well-being of the Ukrain­ian peo­ple whose liv­ing stan­dards have declined sharply since the Feb. 22, 2014 putsch (amid con­tin­ued gov­ern­ment cor­rup­tion), but in her devo­tion to her Ukrain­ian grand­par­ents whom she still views as vic­tims of Stal­in and the Red Army.

    Last Aug. 24, reflect­ing on so-called Black Rib­bon Day, which lumps togeth­er the crimes of Josef Stal­in and Adolf Hitler (with Stal­in get­ting top billing), she wrote on Twit­ter, “Think­ing of my grand­par­ents Mykhai­lo & Alek­san­dra Cho­mi­ak on Black Rib­bon Day. They were for­ev­er grate­ful to Cana­da for giv­ing them refuge and they worked hard to return free­dom and democ­ra­cy to Ukraine. I am proud to hon­our their mem­o­ry today.”

    In her auto­bi­og­ra­phy, Free­land presents her grand­par­ents in the fol­low­ing way: “My mater­nal grand­par­ents fled west­ern Ukraine after Hitler and Stal­in signed their non-aggres­sion pact in 1939. They nev­er dared to go back, but they stayed in close touch with their broth­ers and sis­ters and their fam­i­lies, who remained behind.”

    Accord­ing to Free­land, her grand­fa­ther Mykhai­lo Cho­mi­ak was “a lawyer and jour­nal­ist before the Sec­ond World War, but they [her grand­par­ents] knew the Sovi­ets would invade west­ern Ukraine (and) fled.” After the war, her moth­er was born in a refugee camp in Ger­many before the fam­i­ly immi­grat­ed to west­ern Cana­da, Free­land wrote.

    Freeland’s grand­fa­ther was alleged­ly able to get a visa only thanks to his sis­ter who had crossed the ocean before the war. The fam­i­ly sto­ry told by Free­land por­trays her grand­par­ents as World War II vic­tims, but that is not the real or full sto­ry.

    Chrys­tia Freeland’s dark fam­i­ly secret is that her grand­fa­ther, Mykhai­lo Cho­mi­ak, faith­ful­ly served Nazi Ger­many right up to its sur­ren­der, and Chomiak’s fam­i­ly only moved to Cana­da after the Third Reich was defeat­ed by the Sovi­et Union’s Red Army and its allies – the U.S. and Great Britain.

    Mykhai­lo Cho­mi­ak was not a vic­tim of the war – he was on the side of the Ger­man aggres­sors who col­lab­o­rat­ed with Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists in killing Rus­sians, Jews, Poles and oth­er minori­ties. For­mer jour­nal­ist Free­land chose to white­wash her fam­i­ly his­to­ry to leave out her grandfather’s ser­vice to Adolf Hitler. Of course, if she had told the truth, she might nev­er have achieved a suc­cess­ful polit­i­cal career in Cana­da. Her fierce hos­til­i­ty toward Rus­sia also might be viewed in a dif­fer­ent light.

    Freeland’s Grand­fa­ther

    Accord­ing to Cana­di­an sources, Cho­mi­ak grad­u­at­ed from Lviv Uni­ver­si­ty in west­ern Ukraine with a Master’s Degree in Law and Polit­i­cal Sci­ence. He began a career with the Gali­cian news­pa­per Dilo (Action), pub­lished in Lviv. After the start of World War II, the Nazi admin­is­tra­tion appoint­ed Cho­mi­ak to be edi­tor of the news­pa­per Krakivs­ki Visti (News of Krakow).

    So the truth appears to be that Cho­mi­ak moved from Ukraine to Nazi-occu­pied Poland in order to work for the Third Reich under the com­mand of Gov­er­nor-Gen­er­al Hans Frank, the man who orga­nized the Holo­caust in Poland. Chomiak’s work was direct­ly super­vised by Emil Gassner, the head of the press depart­ment in the Pol­ish Gen­er­al Gov­ern­ment.

    Mikhai­lo Cho­mi­ak com­fort­ably set­tled his fam­i­ly into a for­mer Jew­ish (or Aryanized) apart­ment in Krakow. The edi­to­r­i­al offices for Krakivs­ki Visti also were tak­en from a Jew­ish own­er, Krakow’s Pol­ish-lan­guage Jew­ish news­pa­per Nowy Dzi­en­nik. Its edi­tor at the time was forced to flee Krakow for Lviv, where he was cap­tured fol­low­ing the occu­pa­tion of Gali­cia and sent to the Belzec exter­mi­na­tion camp, where he was mur­dered along with 600,000 oth­er Jews.

    So, it appears Freeland’s grand­fa­ther – rather than being a help­less vic­tim – was giv­en a pres­ti­gious job to spread Nazi pro­pa­gan­da, prais­ing Hitler from a pub­lish­ing house stolen from Jews and giv­en to Ukraini­ans who shared the val­ues of Nazism.

    On April 24, 1940, Krakivs­ki Visti pub­lished a full-page pan­e­gyric to Adolf Hitler ded­i­cat­ed to his 51st birth­day (four days ear­li­er). Cho­mi­ak also hailed Gov­er­nor-Gen­er­al Hans Frank: “The Ukrain­ian pop­u­la­tion were over­joyed to see the estab­lish­ment of fair Ger­man author­i­ty, the bear­er of which is you, Sir Gov­er­nor-Gen­er­al. The Ukrain­ian peo­ple expressed this joy not only through the flow­ers they threw to the Ger­man troops enter­ing the region, but also through the sac­ri­fices of blood required to fight Pol­ish usurpers.” (Because of Frank’s role in the Holo­caust, the Nurem­berg Tri­bunal found him guilty of crimes against human­i­ty and exe­cut­ed him.)

    Beyond extolling Hitler and his hench­men, Cho­mi­ak rejoiced over Nazi mil­i­tary vic­to­ries, includ­ing the ter­ror bomb­ings of Great Britain. While prais­ing the Third Reich, Krakivs­ki Visti was also under orders by the Ger­man author­i­ties to stir up hatred against the Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion. Edi­to­r­i­al selec­tions from Chomiak’s news­pa­per can be found in Holo­caust muse­ums around the world, such as the one in Los Ange­les, Cal­i­for­nia.

    The Nov. 6, 1941 issue of Krakivs­ki Visti ecsta­t­i­cal­ly describes how much bet­ter Kiev is with­out Jews. “There is not a sin­gle one left in Kiev today, while there were 350,000 under the Bol­she­viks,” the news­pa­per wrote, gloat­ing that the Jews “got their come­up­pance.”

    That “come­up­pance” refers to the mass shoot­ing of Kiev’s Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion at Babi Yar. In just two days, Sept. 29–30, 1941, a total of 33,771 peo­ple were mur­dered, a fig­ure that does not include chil­dren younger than three years old. There were more shoot­ings in Octo­ber, and by ear­ly Novem­ber, Krakivs­ki Visti was enthus­ing over a city where the Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion had “dis­ap­peared” mak­ing Kiev “beau­ti­ful, glo­ri­ous.” Chomiak’s edi­to­ri­als also described a Poland “infect­ed by Jews.”

    Accord­ing to John-Paul Him­ka, a Cana­di­an his­to­ri­an of Ukrain­ian ori­gin, Krakivs­ki Visti stirred up emo­tions against Jews, cre­at­ing an atmos­phere con­ducive to mass mur­der. In 2008, the Insti­tute of His­tor­i­cal Research at Lviv Nation­al Uni­ver­si­ty pub­lished a paper co-authored by Him­ka enti­tled “What Was the Atti­tude of the Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists toward the Jews?” The paper states that, by order of the Ger­man author­i­ties, Krakivs­ki Visti pub­lished a series of arti­cles between June and Sep­tem­ber 1943 under the title “Yids in Ukraine” that were writ­ten in an extreme­ly anti-Semit­ic and pro-Nazi vein. The Cana­di­an his­to­ri­an writes that Jews were por­trayed as crim­i­nals, while Ukraini­ans were por­trayed as vic­tims.

    Refuge in Cana­da

    As the war turned against the Nazis and the Red Army advanced across Ukraine and Poland, Nazi pro­pa­gan­dist Emil Gassner took Mykhai­lo Cho­mi­ak in 1944 to Vien­na where Krakivs­ki Visti con­tin­ued to pub­lish. As the Third Reich crum­bled, Cho­mi­ak left with the retreat­ing Ger­man Army and sur­ren­dered to the Amer­i­cans in Bavaria, where he was placed with his fam­i­ly in a spe­cial U.S. mil­i­tary intel­li­gence facil­i­ty in Bad Wör­ishofen, a clus­ter of hotels sit­u­at­ed 78 kilo­me­ters from Munich in the foothills of the Alps.

    The Cho­mi­ak fam­i­ly was giv­en accom­mo­da­tions, liv­ing expens­es and health care. In her biog­ra­phy, Free­land refers to it only as “a refugee camp.” In Sep­tem­ber 1946, Mikhai­lo Chomiak’s daugh­ter Haly­na was born in that spa town. In May 1948, the facil­i­ty was closed and Cho­mi­ak, the for­mer Nazi edi­tor, depart­ed for Cana­da.

    While it is true that the sins of a grand­fa­ther should not be vis­it­ed on his descen­dants, Free­land should not have mis­led the pub­lic on his­to­ry of such impor­tance, espe­cial­ly when her decep­tions also con­cealed how she part­ly devel­oped her world view. The family’s deep hos­til­i­ty toward Rus­sia appears to have been passed down from Mikhai­lo Chomiak’s gen­er­a­tion to his grand­daugh­ter Chrys­tia Free­land.

    ...

    “Peo­ple who have fol­lowed Freeland’s career were aware that her idée fixe for decades has been that Ukraine must be ripped out of the Russ­ian sphere of influ­ence. Her views fit with the intense Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism of her mater­nal grand­par­ents who immi­grat­ed to Cana­da after World War II and whom she has por­trayed as vic­tims of Josef Stal­in and the Red Army.”

    Yep, Canada’s new for­eign min­is­ter’s grand­par­ents were not just refugees from Ukraine in WWII, but her grand­fa­ther was deeply con­nect­ed to the kinds of Ukrain­ian pro-Nazi nation­al­ist groups that con­tin­ued to exist and now make up a sig­nif­i­cant seg­ment of the con­tem­po­rary Ukrain­ian far-right neo-Naz­i/ul­tra­na­tion­al­ist scene. It appears that she was raised with a deeply anti-Russ­ian sen­ti­ment passed down from her fam­i­ly’s expe­ri­ences that she con­tin­ues to hold today. So while we don’t know yet what the over­all Cana­di­an gov­ern­men­t’s posi­tion is going to be going for­ward on the ques­tion of whether or not to thaw rela­tions with Moscow and/or con­tin­ue to pro­vide mil­i­tary train­ing for Kiev, it’s pret­ty clear what the for­eign min­istry’s stance is going to be.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 1, 2017, 9:08 pm
  6. Check out the lat­est attempt by Volodomyr Via­tro­vych and Ukraine’s Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­o­ry to puri­fy Ukraine of any mem­o­ries that might por­tray “nation­al­ist” groups like the UPA as a bunch of Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors: Ukraine is inves­ti­gat­ing a 94-year-old Jew­ish WWII hero over the death of a UPA propagandist/Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor back in 1952 while he was work­ing for the NKVD at the rec­om­men­da­tion of Via­tro­vych as part of a pack­age of new decom­mu­ni­sa­tion laws:

    The Guardian

    Ukraine inves­ti­gates 94-year-old Jew­ish vet­er­an over nation­al­ist’s death in 1952

    Sovi­et army vet­er­an Boris Steck­ler faces mur­der inquiry over his role in death of Ukrain­ian insur­gent and could be jailed

    Alec Luhn in Moscow

    Wednes­day 3 May 2017 04.49 EDT
    Last mod­i­fied on Wednes­day 3 May 2017 10.54 EDT

    Ukraine’s pros­e­cu­tor gen­er­al has opened a mur­der inves­ti­ga­tion against a 94-year-old Jew­ish Red Army vet­er­an over the 1952 killing of a nation­al­ist insur­gent who has been accused of col­lab­o­rat­ing with Nazis.

    ...

    The pros­e­cu­tor gen­er­al opened the inves­ti­ga­tion into the “inten­tion­al killing of two or more peo­ple on the ter­ri­to­ry of Rivne region in March 1952 by mem­bers of the admin­is­tra­tion of the state secu­ri­ty min­istry”, accord­ing to a copy of a let­ter post­ed on the web­site of the Nation­al Human Rights Cen­tre, an organ­i­sa­tion which has assist­ed nation­al­ists fac­ing pros­e­cu­tion.

    The web­site said the case was that of Nil Kha­sevych, a mem­ber of the Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army (UIA) who, along with two oth­er fight­ers, was killed by Sovi­et secu­ri­ty forces in a stand­off at that place and time.

    Kha­sevych has been accused of col­lab­o­rat­ing with the Nazis dur­ing the sec­ond world war. The Nation­al Human Rights Cen­tre web­site called him an “inde­pen­dence fight­er” and said the pros­e­cu­tion of his killer would give “appro­pri­ate legal appraisal to the crimes of the com­mu­nist epoch”.

    The oper­a­tion that killed Kha­sevych was head­ed by Boris Steck­ler, now a 94-year-old Jew­ish vet­er­an who was dec­o­rat­ed numer­ous times for brav­ery in the war and lat­er served in the KGB.

    Steck­ler con­firmed in a 2013 inter­view that he had direct­ed the mis­sion against Kha­sevych, but claimed the insur­gent had shot him­self before Sovi­et sol­diers threw grenades into the bunker where he was hid­ing. They had giv­en him a chance to sur­ren­der, Steck­ler said.

    Last year, the head of the Ukrain­ian government’s Nation­al Mem­o­ry Insti­tute, Volodymyr Vya­tro­vych, asked the state secu­ri­ty ser­vice to open its files on Steck­ler under a new pack­age of decom­mu­ni­sa­tion laws intro­duced to par­lia­ment.

    In addi­tion to open­ing the archives, the laws made it a crim­i­nal offence to ques­tion the actions of the UIA and anoth­er nation­al­ist group, a move con­demned by inter­na­tion­al schol­ars as an attack on free speech. Steck­ler appealed to a Rivne court to block access to the files.

    A trained artist, Kha­sevych was known for cre­at­ing patri­ot­ic images and print­ing anti-Sovi­et lit­er­a­ture for the UIA, a group of nation­al­ist fight­ers who on some occa­sions col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Nazis and took part in geno­cide of Jews and Poles.

    Accord­ing to a pas­sage attrib­uted to Steck­ler in the 1985 book Chek­ists Talk, Kha­sevych was appoint­ed as a local judge by the invad­ing Ger­man forces and sen­tenced Ukraini­ans who resist­ed the occu­pa­tion to pun­ish­ment or exe­cu­tion.

    But Kha­sevych and oth­er wartime insur­gents have been increas­ing­ly cel­e­brat­ed as ear­ly free­dom fight­ers after nation­al­ists played a key role in the street demon­stra­tions that brought a pro-west­ern gov­ern­ment to pow­er in Kiev in 2014.

    Eduard Dolin­sky, direc­tor of the Ukrain­ian Jew­ish Com­mit­tee, called the mur­der inves­ti­ga­tion an “injus­tice” and said Khasevych’s actions, not Steckler’s, should be con­demned. “He was an active fight­er when they destroyed Jews and Poles,” Dolin­sky said. “It’s the Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army that com­mit­ted a war crime.”

    Although cas­es more than 15 years old are not typ­i­cal­ly pros­e­cut­ed, a court can make an excep­tion if the crime is seri­ous enough to bring a life­time sen­tence, accord­ing to lawyer Markiyan Hal­a­bala. That means Steck­ler could be sent to prison, but Hal­a­bala said that out­come was unlike­ly in this case, which would be the first of its kind in Ukraine.

    “Last year, the head of the Ukrain­ian government’s Nation­al Mem­o­ry Insti­tute, Volodymyr Vya­tro­vych, asked the state secu­ri­ty ser­vice to open its files on Steck­ler under a new pack­age of decom­mu­ni­sa­tion laws intro­duced to par­lia­ment.”

    And that’s a snap­shot of the kind of mad­ness unleashed in Ukraine these days: Any­one asso­ci­at­ed with the Sovi­et era has become so offi­cial­ly reviled, and Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors have become so offi­cial­ly revered, that the state is open­ing up 65 year old cas­es of Sovi­et agents killing ‘nation­al­ist’ like Kha­sevych and pros­e­cut­ing a 94-year-old Jew­ish WWII hero because he was in the KGB. At the behest of the Nation­al Mem­o­ry Insti­tute:

    ...
    The pros­e­cu­tor gen­er­al opened the inves­ti­ga­tion into the “inten­tion­al killing of two or more peo­ple on the ter­ri­to­ry of Rivne region in March 1952 by mem­bers of the admin­is­tra­tion of the state secu­ri­ty min­istry”, accord­ing to a copy of a let­ter post­ed on the web­site of the Nation­al Human Rights Cen­tre, an organ­i­sa­tion which has assist­ed nation­al­ists fac­ing pros­e­cu­tion.

    The web­site said the case was that of Nil Kha­sevych, a mem­ber of the Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army (UIA) who, along with two oth­er fight­ers, was killed by Sovi­et secu­ri­ty forces in a stand­off at that place and time.

    Kha­sevych has been accused of col­lab­o­rat­ing with the Nazis dur­ing the sec­ond world war. The Nation­al Human Rights Cen­tre web­site called him an “inde­pen­dence fight­er” and said the pros­e­cu­tion of his killer would give “appro­pri­ate legal appraisal to the crimes of the com­mu­nist epoch”.
    ...

    But don’t assume that “decom­mu­ni­sa­tion” is just going to lead inves­ti­ga­tions of Sovi­ety-era inci­dents. As the fol­low­ing inter­view grim­ly describes, every­one is a poten­tial tar­get in Ukraine. And “decom­mu­ni­sa­tion”, or sim­ply being asso­ci­at­ed with any­thing ‘Russ­ian’ at all, is enough to bring vio­lence or worse:

    Polit­i­cal Cri­tique

    Nowa­days, Every­one Is a Poten­tial Tar­get in Ukraine

    We spoke to jour­nal­ist Aliona Lia­she­va about the recent attacks and the sit­u­a­tion of left-wing activists in Ukraine.

    Veroni­ka Pehe and Tom Row­ley
    May 3, 2017

    On 20 April, activist Stas Ser­hi­jenko was bru­tal­ly attacked and stabbed near his home in Kiev. He suf­fered seri­ous wounds and was tak­en to hos­pi­tal. This inci­dent was only one of a series of vio­lent attacks on left-wing activists and insti­tu­tions. But as Aliona Lia­she­va explains, it is not only those asso­ci­at­ed with the left who have become the vic­tims of attacks, any­one who is seen as chal­leng­ing main­stream pro-Ukrain­ian and pro-war views can eas­i­ly become sub­ject to repres­sions of dif­fer­ent sorts.

    VP: On April 20, activist Stas Ser­hienko was stabbed near his home in Kyiv. Who was behind the attack?

    AL: It is dif­fi­cult to be com­plete­ly sure. The police only start­ed work­ing on the case three days after the attack. But we can make some basic assump­tions. For one, Stas was not robbed. The peo­ple who attacked him filmed the inci­dent. Stas had received a lot of threats before. It makes sense to assume this was an attack from a far-right group. The leader of one such group called C14, which has been active since the 2010s, pub­lished a blog post in one of the main­stream Ukrain­ian media, in which he approved of the attack. It’s quite like­ly the attack­ers were asso­ci­at­ed with this or a sim­i­lar group, but Stas didn’t rec­og­nize any of them.

    TR: Has Stas suf­fered attacks before?

    AL: Yes, he was beat­en after the 1 May demon­stra­tion in 2016, and he iden­ti­fied the attack­ers as mem­bers of Azov. He was also threat­ened at anoth­er anti-fas­cist demon­stra­tion last year, so this attack was not unprece­dent­ed. But the lat­est inci­dent was cer­tain­ly one of the most hor­ri­ble we’ve seen for a long time in Kyiv.

    VP: Sev­er­al oth­er vio­lent inci­dents have also occurred in the past weeks and months. Recent­ly, an exhi­bi­tion of artist Davyd Chy­chkan at the Visu­al Cul­ture Research Cen­tre was van­dal­ized. In Feb­ru­ary, activist Taras Bohay was attacked in Lviv. Are these attacks con­nect­ed in any way? Are the same peo­ple behind them?

    It’s hard to say for sure whether these inci­dents are con­nect­ed, but it’s clear that part of the far right are going wild right now. These are peo­ple who did not make it either into main­stream pol­i­tics or oth­er state struc­tures, such as the police. They are not con­trolled by any insti­tu­tion and I can only hope the attacks are not sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly orga­nized. The dif­fi­cul­ty in assess­ing the sit­u­a­tion is also a result of these attacks often being “cov­ered” by the police.

    VP: So what is the role of the police? Are they mak­ing any efforts to inves­ti­gate?

    The rather half-heart­ed inves­ti­ga­tions into these crimes could be explained by the fact that the police are com­plete­ly dis­or­ga­nized, or that they do actu­al­ly have an inter­est in cov­er­ing up these inci­dents. There have been cas­es when they sim­ply stopped the inves­ti­ga­tion. What’s impor­tant to high­light is that attacks on activists like Stas are a small part of a big­ger process. For instance, media are being attacked. Take the case of Inter, a TV chan­nel, which was accused of being pro-Russ­ian in Sep­tem­ber 2016. It was not attacked by the state, but by a group of thugs who set the sta­tion build­ing on fire.

    TR: There are signs that far-right groups and oth­er actors, such as oli­garch groups or ele­ments of law enforce­ment, link up at points where they can be of mutu­al ben­e­fit. How do you see these inter­ests align­ing?

    AL: I com­plete­ly agree that there are a whole host of dif­fer­ent groups and inter­ests involved. The sit­u­a­tion cer­tain­ly changed after Maid­an. In the past three years, we have wit­nessed an increase in far-right vio­lence, though of course it’s not some­thing com­plete­ly new. These far-right groups exist­ed already before Maid­an and were also financed by oli­garchs in cer­tain cas­es. They were also very much asso­ci­at­ed with the Dynamo Kyiv foot­ball team. Dur­ing the Maid­an, these groups were instru­men­tal­ized by the elites, part of them are now in the vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions of the army. Oth­ers, espe­cial­ly lead­ing fig­ures, received posi­tions in the police and secret police insti­tu­tions. The head of the police has far-right con­nec­tions. Those who were beat­ing LGBT peo­ple on the streets are now sit­ting in offices. And those who didn’t get a posi­tion in the army or secu­ri­ty ser­vices are now out and about and ready to spark vio­lence at any point.

    VP: Who or what exact­ly are the tar­gets of far-right attacks?

    AL: Attacks on media and activists are just a small part of what’s going on, because in gen­er­al there’s a broad nation­al­ist con­sen­sus in the coun­try. Its main cri­te­ria are being anti-Russ­ian and pro-war. By anti-Russ­ian, I don’t just mean being crit­i­cal towards Putin’s pol­i­tics, but rather a gen­er­al Rus­so­pho­bic atti­tude, which hates every­thing con­nect­ed to Rus­sia, includ­ing its lan­guage, though one half of Ukraini­ans speak Russ­ian as their moth­er tongue. This con­sen­sus also dic­tates that if you want to be part of the nation, you have to be mil­i­taris­tic, sup­port the army and far-right bat­tal­ions no mat­ter what sort of war crimes they are com­mit­ting. The moment you break this con­sen­sus in pub­lic, you pay for it.

    VP: Does this mean that those who break this con­sen­sus are auto­mat­i­cal­ly defined as being on the left?

    AL: No. Usu­al­ly they are labelled as being pro-Russ­ian or pro-Sovi­et. Of course, some of those who crit­i­cize this con­sen­sus do so from left­ist posi­tions, like researchers, jour­nal­ists, or activists. But there are also some nation­al­ist jour­nal­ists doing the same. Take the case of Rus­lan Kotsa­ba, whose views are far away from the left – for exam­ple, he is open­ly anti-Semit­ic. He pub­lished a video blog in which he said he didn’t want to be draft­ed into the army, because the Ukrain­ian army is defend­ing the inter­ests of oli­garchs. He was arrest­ed for that, sen­tenced to three years in prison and lat­er released. It also affects peo­ple who have pro-Russ­ian views. This was the case of Oles’ Buz­i­na, the jour­nal­ist who was shot dead in 2015. It is still not clear who did it, but there are rea­sons to believe that right-wing groups were involved. Or take the radio sta­tion Vesti. It pub­lished a range of dif­fer­ent opin­ions, from pro-Ukrain­ian pieces to posi­tions slight­ly sym­pa­thet­ic to the cur­rent direc­tion of Russ­ian pol­i­tics. They lost their broad­cast license in March this year.

    TR: The dif­fer­ent ele­ments of the attacks against par­tic­u­lar peo­ple or insti­tu­tions con­nect­ed to Rus­sia are part of the “hybrid war” dis­course, where every­thing is secu­ri­tized and every­one is seen as a poten­tial threat. It doesn’t mat­ter if you say some­thing against the con­sen­sus in pub­lic or are engaged in activism out­side per­mit­ted frames, if you are a plat­form host­ing some­one with views out­side the main­stream — poten­tial­ly, this can be per­ceived as a threat to nation­al uni­ty and sov­er­eign­ty, a source of defeat or treach­ery. Nowa­days, it feels like every­one is an ama­teur detec­tive.

    Absolute­ly. If you want to find some­thing to com­pro­mise some­one, you will. And this also affects peo­ple who are not direct­ly involved in pol­i­tics. Take the exam­ple of the music band ONUKA. The leader of the band has mild patri­ot­ic polit­i­cal opin­ions. One of their tracks was sold to a Russ­ian film­mak­ing com­pa­ny. Because of that, the band was accused of being sep­a­ratist by anoth­er artist and this accu­sa­tion was quick­ly spread around social net­works. It’s an exam­ple of how these repres­sions have no log­ic.

    VP: Which makes every­one into a tar­get, because any­one can be labelled as dis­rupt­ing the national(ist) con­sen­sus.

    Exact­ly. For exam­ple, Stas is a very obvi­ous tar­get for the far right. He has left-wing views and doesn’t hide it, he sup­ports LGBT and minor­i­ty rights. He doesn’t fit into this con­sen­sus at all, yet there are also peo­ple very close to this con­sen­sus, like this musi­cian, who has noth­ing to do with pol­i­tics, but whom these repres­sive process­es affect nev­er­the­less. This doesn’t con­cern just explic­it attacks of the right, but also the state pol­i­cy of decom­mu­niza­tion. The recent decom­mu­niza­tion laws are very con­tra­dic­to­ry. Street names have been changed, but also books, activ­i­ties and orga­ni­za­tions have been banned. Basi­cal­ly, the def­i­n­i­tions are so broad, that if you real­ly want to, you will find a rea­son to put any­one in prison. As Tom said, every­one is a detec­tive.

    TR: A clas­sic instance of this took place in May last year, when a group of hack­ers released the per­son­al infor­ma­tion of rough­ly 7,000 peo­ple who work in the media and more or less accused them of state trea­son. Ukraine’s lib­er­al com­men­tari­at was gen­er­al­ly in favour.

    AL: And indeed, the debate that was sparked on the inter­net after the attack on Stas shows that peo­ple real­ly believe that being a com­mu­nist is rea­son enough to be stabbed. For exam­ple, on the infor­mal social net­work page of his uni­ver­si­ty, peo­ple were lit­er­al­ly say­ing with a lot of sar­casm that this is what he deserves as a “com­mie”. Dis­gust­ing, real­ly. Many felt the need to dis­cuss Stas’s polit­i­cal beliefs and eval­u­ate if they are good or bad. And if they’re bad… Well, then the attack was basi­cal­ly jus­ti­fied in their view. But of course, many peo­ple also react­ed from a human rights per­spec­tive and con­demned this act of vio­lence, even if they them­selves do not sup­port left-wing views.

    VP: What is the mood among activists in Ukraine at the moment? What kind of impact are these attacks hav­ing?

    AL: As I said, it’s hard­ly all that new. We have been aware of the ongo­ing vio­lence and the dan­ger it pos­es for a long time. In gen­er­al, left-wing activists under­stand the fact that any arti­cle they pub­lish in a jour­nal might be a rea­son for being attacked. Many activists have inter­nal­ized a code of secu­ri­ty rules, like hid­ing their real names, the place they live, extra inter­net secu­ri­ty, being very care­ful at demon­stra­tions. At every ral­ly, there’s a plan of how to get to where the event is tak­ing place and how to leave. It’s become an every­day prac­tice, you don’t real­ly notice it any­more. But I won’t hide that I am scared.

    ...

    “AL: Attacks on media and activists are just a small part of what’s going on, because in gen­er­al there’s a broad nation­al­ist con­sen­sus in the coun­try. Its main cri­te­ria are being anti-Russ­ian and pro-war. By anti-Russ­ian, I don’t just mean being crit­i­cal towards Putin’s pol­i­tics, but rather a gen­er­al Rus­so­pho­bic atti­tude, which hates every­thing con­nect­ed to Rus­sia, includ­ing its lan­guage, though one half of Ukraini­ans speak Russ­ian as their moth­er tongue. This con­sen­sus also dic­tates that if you want to be part of the nation, you have to be mil­i­taris­tic, sup­port the army and far-right bat­tal­ions no mat­ter what sort of war crimes they are com­mit­ting. The moment you break this con­sen­sus in pub­lic, you pay for it.”

    The lan­guage that half or Ukraini­ans speak as their moth­er tongue is con­sid­ered anti-Ukrain­ian these days. But Nazis are awe­some. That’s the kind of dam­age Ukraine’s civ­il war has done to the nation’s col­lec­tive psy­che. And things like the “decom­mu­ni­sa­tion” laws have become the tools through which that psy­chic dam­age man­i­fests:

    ...
    Exact­ly. For exam­ple, Stas is a very obvi­ous tar­get for the far right. He has left-wing views and doesn’t hide it, he sup­ports LGBT and minor­i­ty rights. He doesn’t fit into this con­sen­sus at all, yet there are also peo­ple very close to this con­sen­sus, like this musi­cian, who has noth­ing to do with pol­i­tics, but whom these repres­sive process­es affect nev­er­the­less. This doesn’t con­cern just explic­it attacks of the right, but also the state pol­i­cy of decom­mu­niza­tion. The recent decom­mu­niza­tion laws are very con­tra­dic­to­ry. Street names have been changed, but also books, activ­i­ties and orga­ni­za­tions have been banned. Basi­cal­ly, the def­i­n­i­tions are so broad, that if you real­ly want to, you will find a rea­son to put any­one in prison. As Tom said, every­one is a detec­tive.
    ...

    “Basi­cal­ly, the def­i­n­i­tions are so broad, that if you real­ly want to, you will find a rea­son to put any­one in prison. As Tom said, every­one is a detec­tive.”

    The vig­i­lante ‘jus­tice’ dealt out by far-right ‘nation­al­ist’ neo-Nazi groups like the Azov bat­tal­ion is just one ele­ment of the vig­i­lante ‘jus­tice’ being dealt out in Ukraine today. There’s also the state-backed vig­i­lante jus­tice that comes from hav­ing vague­ly defined law that basi­cal­ly out­laws all things Russ­ian in a nation where almost every­one has some sort of tie to some­thing Russ­ian.

    Every­one’s a poten­tial tar­get in that kind of sit­u­a­tion. Well, almost every­one. The open­ly neo-Nazi ‘nation­al­ists’ def­i­nite­ly aren’t tar­gets.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 3, 2017, 8:21 pm
  7. While it’s unclear if this is news any­more, since the world does­n’t appear to real­ly care about Ukraine’s high-lev­el neo-Nazi infes­ta­tion, but it looks like Vasi­ly Vovk — a senior offi­cer in the SBU and the for­mer head of the SBU’s inves­tiga­tive unit and the head of the SBU’s inves­ti­ga­tion into the MH17 probejust called for the destruc­tion of Ukraine’s Jews on his Face­book page:

    The Jew­ish Chron­i­cle

    Ukrain­ian gen­er­al calls for destruc­tion of Jews

    “I’m telling you one more time — go to hell, kikes”, wrote senior offi­cer affil­i­at­ed to the intel­li­gence ser­vices

    Sam Sokol
    May 11, 2017

    In the lat­est of a series of high­ly pub­lic anti­se­mit­ic state­ments by promi­nent fig­ures in Ukraine, a retired Ukrain­ian gen­er­al affil­i­at­ed with the country’s intel­li­gence ser­vices this week called for the destruc­tion of his country’s Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty.

    In a post since delet­ed from Face­book, Vasi­ly Vovk — a gen­er­al who holds a senior reserve rank with the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine, the local suc­ces­sor to the KGB — wrote that Jews “aren’t Ukraini­ans and I will destroy you along with [Ukrain­ian oli­garch and Jew­ish law­mak­er Vadim] Rabi­novych. I’m telling you one more time — go to hell, zhi­di [kikes], the Ukrain­ian peo­ple have had it to here with you.”

    “Ukraine must be gov­erned by Ukraini­ans,” he wrote.

    Mean­while, Ukrain­ian war hero-turned-law­mak­er Nadiya Savchenko came under fire in March after say­ing dur­ing a tele­vi­sion inter­view that Jews held dis­pro­por­tion­ate con­trol over the levers of pow­er in Ukraine.

    More recent­ly, oppo­si­tion politi­cian Yulia Tymoshenko was forced to apol­o­gise after being filmed laugh­ing at an anti­se­mit­ic com­e­dy act at a gath­er­ing of her Father­land par­ty, and Volodymyr Via­tro­vych, direc­tor of the state-run Insti­tu­tion for Nation­al Mem­o­ry accused Jew­ish activist Eduard Dolin­sky of fab­ri­cat­ing anti­se­mit­ic inci­dents for mon­ey.

    Via­tro­vych is also run­ning a pub­lic aware­ness cam­paign white­wash­ing the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army (UPA), a Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist mili­tia, in the Holo­caust.

    In 2015 the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment passed a law pro­hibit­ing the den­i­gra­tion of the UPA and oth­er groups which fought for the country’s inde­pen­dence.

    Ear­li­er this month, Ukraine made waves inter­na­tion­al­ly when it announced it was open­ing a mur­der inves­ti­ga­tion into the killing of a mem­ber of UPA by a nine­ty four year old Jew­ish ex-KGB agent in the ear­ly 1950s. Ukraine has not pros­e­cut­ed any of its cit­i­zens for war crimes against Jews since the coun­try gained its inde­pen­dence fol­low­ing the breakup of the Sovi­et Union.

    Asked for com­ment regard­ing the lat­est inci­dent of anti­se­mit­ic rhetoric, the Ukrain­ian Embassy in Tel Aviv said it “regrets about the fact that Gen­er­al of the Secu­ri­ty ser­vice of Ukraine left a high­ly provoca­tive post of anti-Semit­ic char­ac­ter on his face­book page” but did not indi­cate if Vovk would be dis­ci­plined.

    ...

    “In a post since delet­ed from Face­book, Vasi­ly Vovk — a gen­er­al who holds a senior reserve rank with the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine, the local suc­ces­sor to the KGB — wrote that Jews “aren’t Ukraini­ans and I will destroy you along with [Ukrain­ian oli­garch and Jew­ish law­mak­er Vadim] Rabi­novych. I’m telling you one more time — go to hell, zhi­di [kikes], the Ukrain­ian peo­ple have had it to here with you.””

    So it sounds like we can add “pub­lic threats of a new Holo­caust by senior secret police lead­er­ship” to the list of neo-Nazi activ­i­ties by Ukrain­ian offi­cials.

    What’s next? How about the dis­cov­ery that the SBU was prob­a­bly behind the killing of an inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist who had report­ed on how mili­tia com­man­ders were evad­ing pun­ish­ment for their crimes short­ly before his car was blown up. It’s not as overt­ly neo-Nazi-ish as a pub­lic threat of a new Holo­caust, but still in keep­ing with the theme:

    The Guardian

    Ukraine spy agency ‘may have seen plant­i­ng of bomb that killed jour­nal­ist’

    New film sug­gests an intel­li­gence ser­vices agent was present when device was hid­den under Pavel Sheremet’s car last July

    Alec Luhn in Moscow
    Wednes­day 10 May 2017 13.14 EDT
    Last mod­i­fied on Wednes­day 10 May 2017 17.43 EDT

    A new doc­u­men­tary film alleges that Ukraine’s spy agency may have wit­nessed the plant­i­ng of a car bomb that killed a promi­nent jour­nal­ist last July in Kiev.

    Pavel Sheremet had just left his home in the Ukrain­ian cap­i­tal and was dri­ving to work when his car explod­ed. The mur­der was the most high-pro­file assas­si­na­tion of a reporter in the coun­try since the behead­ing in 2000 of the inves­tiga­tive reporter Georgiy Gongadze.

    Ukraine’s pres­i­dent, Petro Poroshenko, had said it was a “mat­ter of hon­our” that Sheremet’s case be prompt­ly solved. He called for a trans­par­ent inves­ti­ga­tion by police and the secu­ri­ty ser­vices. How­ev­er, 10 months lat­er no one has been arrest­ed.

    The film, Killing Pavel, sug­gests that an agent work­ing for Ukraine’s intel­li­gence ser­vices was present when the explo­sive device was hid­den under the journalist’s car. The Orga­nized Crime and Cor­rup­tion Report­ing Project (OCCRP) and Slidstvo.info released the doc­u­men­tary on Wednes­day, when it was screened on Ukrain­ian TV.

    Inves­ti­ga­tors have said Sheremet was killed by a remote­ly det­o­nat­ed explo­sive device, most like­ly in ret­ri­bu­tion for his inves­tiga­tive work in Ukraine and oth­er places. The jour­nal­ist sup­port­ed the pro-west­ern upris­ing in 2014 that saw Vik­tor Yanukovych flee to Rus­sia, but had also been bit­ing­ly crit­i­cal of Ukraine’s new author­i­ties.

    Sur­veil­lance cam­era footage pub­lished by the media and police revealed that an unknown man and a woman approached Sheremet’s Sub­aru car on the street the night before the blast. The woman is seen kneel­ing beside the parked car on the driver’s side.

    The mak­ers of Killing Pavel tracked down new sur­veil­lance footage not found by police. It gives fresh details of the appar­ent killers, who returned to the scene the next morn­ing short­ly before Sheremet got into his doomed vehi­cle.

    The footage reveals sev­er­al sus­pi­cious men who arrived in the street that night. They appeared to be car­ry­ing out sur­veil­lance. They were still there when the man and the woman went past and alleged­ly fixed the bomb. The Belling­cat cit­i­zen jour­nal­ist group man­aged to iden­ti­fy their car – a grey Sko­da – and its reg­is­tra­tion.

    The inves­tiga­tive reporters sub­se­quent­ly tracked down one of the men and iden­ti­fied him as Igor Usti­menko. Usti­menko admit­ted being in the area that night and said he had been hired as a pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tor to keep watch on someone’s chil­dren. He denied see­ing the bombers and said police had not con­tact­ed him.

    The reporters then spoke to a gov­ern­ment source. He con­firmed that Usti­menko had been work­ing since 2014 for Ukraine’s SBU secret intel­li­gence ser­vice. Usti­menko declined to com­ment fur­ther. The film also pre­sent­ed evi­dence sug­gest­ing that Sheremet was under sur­veil­lance in the weeks before his mur­der.

    Ukraine’s inte­ri­or min­is­ter, Arsen Avakov, has denied the gov­ern­ment car­ried this out. A min­istry spokesman declined to com­ment on the film. The secu­ri­ty ser­vice did not imme­di­ate­ly respond.

    “The gov­ern­ment of Ukraine repeat­ed­ly promised to find Pavel’s killer but it’s clear they didn’t do too much,” said Drew Sul­li­van, edi­tor of the Orga­nized Crime and Cor­rup­tion Report­ing Project. “Now we have to con­sid­er the pos­si­bil­i­ty that some­one in gov­ern­ment played a role in the mur­der.”

    A pio­neer­ing tele­vi­sion jour­nal­ist in his native Belarus, Sheremet was forced to move to Rus­sia after he was arrest­ed in 1997 while report­ing on bor­der smug­gling. His cam­era­man on that sto­ry, Dmit­ry Zavad­sky, was kid­napped and killed in Belarus in 2000. Sheremet lat­er moved to Ukraine, where he was a well-known jour­nal­ist with his own radio show.

    In his last blog­post for the Ukrain­ian Prav­da news­pa­per, Sheremet said some mili­tia com­man­ders and vet­er­ans of the con­flict with pro-Moscow rebels in east­ern Ukraine had escaped pun­ish­ment for oth­er crimes. Sheremet’s part­ner, Ole­na Pry­tu­la, co-found­ed the paper with Gongadze, whose bru­tal mur­der ignit­ed nation­al out­rage.

    ...

    The killing caused a major scan­dal, and Amer­i­can FBI spe­cial­ists were brought in to help iden­ti­fy the explo­sives. The Unit­ed Nations deputy high com­mis­sion­er for human rights, Kate Gilmore, said Sheremet’s mur­der would be a “test of the abil­i­ty and will­ing­ness of Ukraine’s insti­tu­tions to inves­ti­gate assaults on media free­dom”.

    In his last blog­post for the Ukrain­ian Prav­da news­pa­per, Sheremet said some mili­tia com­man­ders and vet­er­ans of the con­flict with pro-Moscow rebels in east­ern Ukraine had escaped pun­ish­ment for oth­er crimes. Sheremet’s part­ner, Ole­na Pry­tu­la, co-found­ed the paper with Gongadze, whose bru­tal mur­der ignit­ed nation­al out­rage.”

    The last blog­post before he was blown up was about mili­tia com­man­ders (like­ly neo-Nazi mili­tia com­man­ders) escap­ing their crimes, and the next thing you know his car is blown up. Appar­ent­ly by SBU agents:

    ...
    The mak­ers of Killing Pavel tracked down new sur­veil­lance footage not found by police. It gives fresh details of the appar­ent killers, who returned to the scene the next morn­ing short­ly before Sheremet got into his doomed vehi­cle.

    The footage reveals sev­er­al sus­pi­cious men who arrived in the street that night. They appeared to be car­ry­ing out sur­veil­lance. They were still there when the man and the woman went past and alleged­ly fixed the bomb. The Belling­cat cit­i­zen jour­nal­ist group man­aged to iden­ti­fy their car – a grey Sko­da – and its reg­is­tra­tion.

    The inves­tiga­tive reporters sub­se­quent­ly tracked down one of the men and iden­ti­fied him as Igor Usti­menko. Usti­menko admit­ted being in the area that night and said he had been hired as a pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tor to keep watch on someone’s chil­dren. He denied see­ing the bombers and said police had not con­tact­ed him.

    The reporters then spoke to a gov­ern­ment source. He con­firmed that Usti­menko had been work­ing since 2014 for Ukraine’s SBU secret intel­li­gence ser­vice. Usti­menko declined to com­ment fur­ther. The film also pre­sent­ed evi­dence sug­gest­ing that Sheremet was under sur­veil­lance in the weeks before his mur­der.
    ...

    Well, now we get to see if this doc­u­men­tary reopens the inves­ti­ga­tion. At least it does­n’t appear that Vasi­ly Vovk is still in charge of the SBU’s inves­ti­ga­tions so that’s nice, although that just leaves him more time to plot the destruc­tion of Ukraine’s Jews so, yeah, it’s not a great sit­u­a­tion.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 15, 2017, 3:00 pm

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