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

For The Record  

FTR #959 Update on the New Cold War and the Nazification of Ukraine

WFMU-FM is pod­cast­ing For The Record–You can sub­scribe to the pod­cast HERE.

You can sub­scribe to e‑mail alerts from Spitfirelist.com HERE.

You can sub­scribe to RSS feed from Spitfirelist.com HERE.

You can sub­scribe to the com­ments made on pro­grams and posts–an excel­lent source of infor­ma­tion in, and of, itself HERE.

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

Svoboda leader Oleh Tiahnybok salutes.

Svo­bo­da leader Oleh Tiah­ny­bok salutes.

Stephan Bandera, head of the OUN/B

Stephan Ban­dera, head of the OUN/B

Intro­duc­tion: In a long series of pro­grams and posts over the last four years, we have chron­i­cled the re-insti­tu­tion of the OUN/B World War II-era fas­cists as the foun­da­tion­al ele­ment of the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment. Of par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance in that regard is the Naz­i­fi­ca­tion of the Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence ser­vice, the SBU.

Among the recent devel­op­ments in the oper­a­tions of the OUN/B‑related ele­ments in Ukraine is the post­ing of a call for the erad­i­ca­tion of Ukraine’s Jews.

The call for a new Holo­caust in Ukraine was made by Vasi­ly Vovk – a senior offi­cer in the SBU, for­mer head of the SBU’s inves­tiga­tive unit and head of the SBU’s inves­ti­ga­tion into the MH17 probe. (Vovk’s pro­nounce­ment casts fur­ther doubt over the MH17 inves­ti­ga­tion.)

Pravy Sek­tor asso­ciate Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko had been the head of the SBU (Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence ser­vice) since the Maid­an Coup, up until his ouster in June of 2015. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, he had oper­at­ed the orga­ni­za­tion along the lines of the OUN/B. Pre­vi­ous­ly, he had served in that same capac­i­ty under Vik­tor Yuschenko, see­ing the out­fit as a vehi­cle for rewrit­ing Ukraine’s his­to­ry in accor­dance with the his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ism favored by the OUN/B.

Very close to Pravy Sek­tor head Dymitro Yarosh, Naly­vaichenko employed Yarosh while serv­ing in the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment.  Yarosh claims that the two col­lab­o­rat­ed on “anti-ter­ror­ist” oper­a­tions con­duct­ed against eth­nic Rus­sians.

The SBU is also impli­cat­ed in the bomb­ing assas­si­na­tion of jour­nal­ist Pavel Sheremet.

Next, we cov­er 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 (the mil­i­tary wing of the OUN/B) 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.

Via­tro­vych heads the insti­tute for Nation­al Mem­o­ry, the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment agency that is imple­ment­ing the total per­ver­sion of Ukraine’s World War II his­to­ry. The excess­es of his depart­ment are being cre­at­ed under the aegis of “decom­mu­ni­sa­tion.”

“Decom­mu­ni­sa­tion” isn’t just going to cov­er 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.

We then high­light an arti­cle about the anti-Roma pogrom 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. Almost every­one he talked to hate the Roma with a pas­sion. It also turns out most of them had lit­tle to no actu­al con­tact with their fel­low Roma cit­i­zens, at least not know­ing­ly since many Roma hide their eth­nic­i­ty due to ram­pant job dis­crim­i­na­tion.

Emblem of the Ukrainian Azov Battalion

Emblem of the Ukrain­ian Azov Bat­tal­ion

Most locals sim­ply par­rot­ed the anti-Roma lessons they were taught as chil­dren. Anti-Roma Lessons that are even found in Ukrain­ian text­books. It comes as no sur­prise that the Azov Bat­tal­ion is join­ing in on cre­at­ing a cli­mate of fear and intim­i­da­tion.

These devel­op­ments, too, reca­pit­u­late Ukraine’s Nazi past. “. . . .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. . . .”

Next, we note that Ukraine is set to be the world’s third largest food exporter some time in the next decade due to its incred­i­bly pro­duc­tive arable land. This is undoubt­ed­ly a major fac­tor in the push to incor­po­rate Ukraine into the West­ern sphere of influ­ence.

“ . . . . Ukraine sold $7.6 bil­lion of bulk farm com­modi­ties world­wide in 2015, quin­tu­pling its rev­enue from a decade ear­li­er and top­ping Rus­sia, its clos­est rival on world mar­kets. By the mid-2020s, “Ukraine will be No.3, after the U.S. and Brazil,” in food pro­duc­tion world­wide, says Mar­tin Schuldt, the top rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Ukraine for Cargill, the world’s largest grain trad­er. The com­pa­ny, head­quar­tered in Min­neton­ka, Minn., saw its sun­flower-seed pro­cess­ing plant in the Donet­sk region over­run by sep­a­ratists in 2014; it still can’t regain access to the facil­i­ty. Nonethe­less, the com­pa­ny is invest­ing $100 mil­lion in a new grain ter­mi­nal in Ukraine. Bunge, the world’s biggest soy proces­sor, opened a port this year at a cer­e­mo­ny with Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko—another vote of con­fi­dence in the coun­try. . . . .”

We then turn to the sub­ject of the high-pro­file hacks:

Those “Russ­ian gov­ern­ment hack­ers” real­ly need a OPSEC refresh­er course. The hacked doc­u­ments in the ‘Macron hack’ not only con­tained Cyril­lic text in the meta­da­ta, but also con­tained the name of the last per­son to mod­i­fy the doc­u­ments. And that name, “Rosh­ka Georgiy Petro­vichan”, is an employ­ee at Evri­ka, a large IT com­pa­ny that does work for the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment, includ­ing the FSB.

Also found in the meta­da­ta is the email of the per­son who uploaded the files to “archive.org”, and that email address, frankmacher1@gmx.de, is reg­is­tered with a Ger­man free web­mail provider used pre­vi­ous­ly in 2016 phish­ing attacks against the CDU in Ger­many that have been attrib­uted to APT28. It would appear that the ‘Russ­ian hack­ers’ not only left clues sug­gest­ing it was Russ­ian hack­ers behind the hack, but they decid­ed name names this time. Their own names.

Not sur­pris­ing­ly, giv­en the fas­cist nature of Wik­iLeaks, they con­clud­ed that Rus­sia was behind the hacks. (For more on the fas­cist nature of Wik­iLeaks, see FTR #‘s 724, 725, 732, 745, 755, 917.)

In relat­ed news, a group of cyber­se­cu­ri­ty researchers study­ing the Macron hack has con­clud­ed that the mod­i­fied doc­u­ments were doc­tored by some­one asso­ci­at­ed with The Dai­ly Stormer neo-Nazi web­site and Andrew “the weev” Auern­heimer.

Aueren­heimer was a guest at Glenn Green­wald and Lau­ra Poitras’s par­ty cel­e­brat­ing their receipt of the Polk award.

“ ‘We strong­ly believe that the fake off­shore doc­u­ments were cre­at­ed by some­one with con­trol of the Dai­ly Stormer serv­er,’ said Tord Lund­ström, a com­put­er foren­sics inves­ti­ga­tor at Virtualroad.org.’ . . .”

Who is in con­trol of the Dai­ly Stormer? Well, its pub­lic face and pub­lish­er is Andrew Anglin. But look who the site is reg­is­tered to: Andrew Auern­heimer, who appar­ent­ly resided in Ukraine as of the start of this year:

The analy­sis from the web-secu­ri­ty firm Virtualroad.org. indi­cates that some­one asso­ci­at­ed with the Dai­ly Stormer mod­i­fied those faked doc­u­ments. Like, per­haps a high­ly skilled neo-Nazi hack­er like “the weev”.

Based on an analy­sis of how the doc­u­ment dump unfold­ed it’s look­ing like the inex­plic­a­bly self-incrim­i­nat­ing ‘Russ­ian hack­ers’ may have been a bunch of Amer­i­can neo-Nazis. Imag­ine that.

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

  1. The Ukrain­ian Azov Bat­tal­ion’s cre­ation of a polit­i­cal par­ty.
  2. The mus­ings by that par­ty’s spokesper­son about the pos­si­ble use of force to boost the par­ty to pow­er.
  3. Review of the so-called “Orange Rev­o­lu­tion” in Ukraine as the pre­cur­sor to the Maid­an covert oper­a­tion.
  4. Review of the his­to­ry of the Naz­i­fi­ca­tion of the SBU.

1. In a long series of pro­grams and posts over the last four years, we have chron­i­cled the re-insti­tu­tion of the OUN/B World War II-era fas­cists as the foun­da­tion­al ele­ment of the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment. Of par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance in that regard is the Naz­i­fi­ca­tion of the Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence ser­vice, the SBU.

Among the recent devel­op­ments in the oper­a­tions of the OUN/B‑related ele­ments in Ukraine is the post­ing of a call for the erad­i­ca­tion of Ukraine’s Jews.

Pravy Sek­tor asso­ciate Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko had been the head of the SBU (Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence ser­vice) since the Maid­an Coup, up until his ouster in June of 2015. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, he had oper­at­ed the orga­ni­za­tion along the lines of the OUN/B. Pre­vi­ous­ly, he had served in that same capac­i­ty under Vik­tor Yuschenko, see­ing the out­fit as a vehi­cle for rewrit­ing Ukraine’s his­to­ry in accor­dance with the his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ism favored by the OUN/B.

Very close to Pravy Sek­tor head Dymitro Yarosh, Naly­vaichenko employed Yarosh while serv­ing in the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment.  Yarosh claims that the two col­lab­o­rat­ed on “anti-ter­ror­ist” oper­a­tions con­duct­ed against eth­nic Rus­sians.

“Ukrain­ian Gen­er­al Calls for Destruc­tion of Jews” by Sam Sokol; The Jew­ish Chron­i­cle; 5/11/2017.

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

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. . . .

2. The call for a new Holo­caust in Ukraine was made by Vasi­ly Vovk – a senior offi­cer in the SBU, for­mer head of the SBU’s inves­tiga­tive unit and head of the SBU’s inves­ti­ga­tion into the MH17 probe. (Vovk’s pro­nounce­ment casts fur­ther doubt over the MH17 inves­ti­ga­tion.)

“MH17 Inves­ti­ga­tors Reveal an Exhaust of a Russ­ian-built BUK Mis­sile Was Found at the Crash Site” by Charles Miran­da; news.au.com; 6/7/2016.

. . . . Ahead of its release Ukraine’s for­mer top SBU secu­ri­ty ser­vices offi­cial Vasyl Vovk, who until June last year was the country’s chief inves­ti­ga­tor on the multi­na­tion­al probe, said he knew who was respon­si­ble but con­ced­ed it was not con­clu­sive.

“I am con­fi­dent that this mis­sile sys­tem was deliv­ered from the ter­ri­to­ry of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion with a high-skilled crew — most like­ly a crew of well-trained offi­cers, of course from Russ­ian ter­ri­to­ry,” he said. . . .

3. The SBU appears to have been involved with 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.

Ukraine Spy Agency ‘May Have Seen Plant­i­ng of Bomb that Killed Jour­nal­ist’” by Alec Luhn; The Guardian; 5/10/2017.

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

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”. . . .

4a. Pravy Sek­tor asso­ciate Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko had been the head of the SBU (Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence ser­vice) since the Maid­an Coup, up until his ouster in June of 2015. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, he had oper­at­ed the orga­ni­za­tion along the lines of the OUN/B.

Pre­vi­ous­ly, he had served in that same capac­i­ty under Vik­tor Yuschenko, see­ing the out­fit as a vehi­cle for rewrit­ing Ukraine’s his­to­ry in accor­dance with the his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ism favored by the OUN/B.

Very close to Pravy Sek­tor head Dymitro Yarosh, Naly­vaichenko employed Yarosh while serv­ing in the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment.  Yarosh claims that the two col­lab­o­rat­ed on “anti-ter­ror­ist” oper­a­tions con­duct­ed against eth­nic Rus­sians.

Bear in mind that the SBU has been the “cog­ni­tive win­dow” through which the events in Ukraine have been processed.

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

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

4b. Naly­vaichenko’s SBU has man­i­fest­ed a fun­da­men­tal­ly revi­sion­ist stance with regard to the OUN/B’s World War II geno­ci­dal attacks on eth­nic Poles in Ukraine–a bloody cam­paign that claimed up to 100,000 lives.

Poland Stretch­es Out Its Hands to the Free­dom Fight­ers” by Rob Slane; The Blog­mire; 4/11/2015.

. . . . Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the Ukrain­ian author­i­ties show no signs what­so­ev­er that they are about to aban­don their admi­ra­tion of those respon­si­ble for these hor­rif­ic crimes. To the con­trary, they seem to be intent on admir­ing them all the more, as the SBU head Valen­tyn Nalyvaichenko’s recent words indi­cate: “SBU does not need to invent any­thing extra — it is impor­tant to build on the tra­di­tions and approach­es of the OUN-UPA secu­ri­ty ser­vice. It [the OUN-UPA secu­ri­ty ser­vice] worked against the aggres­sor dur­ing the tem­po­rary occu­pa­tion of the ter­ri­to­ry, it had a patri­ot­ic upbring­ing, used a coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence unit, and had relied on the peace­ful Ukrain­ian pop­u­la­tion using its sup­port.” . . . .

4c. Very close to Pravy Sek­tor head Dymitro Yarosh, Naly­vaichenko employed Yarosh while serv­ing in the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment.  Yarosh claims that the two col­lab­o­rat­ed on “anti-ter­ror­ist” oper­a­tions con­duct­ed against eth­nic Rus­sians.

Bear in mind that the SBU has been the “cog­ni­tive win­dow” through which the events in Ukraine have been processed.

“Yarosh Com­ments on Dis­missal of His ‘Friend’ Naly­vaichenko;” EurA­sia Dai­ly; 6/25/2015. 

The leader of the Right Sec­tor extrem­ist group Dmytro Yarosh believes that the dis­missal of Chief of the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko was illog­i­cal and untime­ly. He writes in Face­book that Naly­vaichenko is his friend, who has raised the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice from zero and has neu­tral­ized lots of ter­ror­ist threats all over the coun­try. “I know what I am talk­ing about as my Right Sec­tor was involved in many of his spe­cial oper­a­tions against Russ­ian ter­ror­ists,” Yarosh said. . . . . . In the past Yarosh was Nalyvaichenko’s advi­sor.

4d. Exem­plary of the Naz­i­fi­ca­tion of Ukraine is the ele­va­tion of Pravy Sek­tor’s Yarosh to being an advi­sor to the chief of the Ukrain­ian gen­er­al staff.

” . . . . Yarosh is now a mem­ber of par­lia­ment and an advi­sor to the chief of gen­er­al staff of the Ukrain­ian army. In oth­er words, Yarosh has been legit­imized by the polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment. . . .”

“Switch­ing Spy­mas­ters Amid War Is Risky” by Bri­an Mef­ford; Atlantic Coun­cil; 6/18/2015.

Valentin Naly­vaichenko, head of the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine (SBU), is in trou­ble again. On June 15, Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko said he was “unsat­is­fied” with Naly­vaichenko’s work. Three days lat­er, Ukraine’s par­lia­ment dis­missed him. . . . . . . . Poroshenko Bloc MP Ser­hiy Leshchenko released a doc­u­ment con­firm­ing old rumors that Right Sec­tor’s Dmitro Yarosh worked for Naly­vaichenko when he was a mem­ber of par­lia­ment from 2012 to 2014. While the con­nec­tion between the two rais­es some ques­tions about the events of Euro­maid­an and the ori­gins of Right Sec­tor, this attack alone was­n’t enough to dis­cred­it Nalyvy­chenko. Yarosh is now a mem­ber of par­lia­ment and an advi­sor to the chief of gen­er­al staff of the Ukrain­ian army. In oth­er words, Yarosh has been legit­imized by the polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment. . . .

4e. Next, we cov­er 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 (the mil­i­tary wing of the OUN/B) 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.

“Ukraine Inves­ti­gates 94-year-old Jew­ish Vet­er­an over Nationalist’s Death in 1952” by Alec Luhn; The Guardian; 5/3/2017.

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

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”.

5. “Decom­mu­ni­sa­tion” isn’t just going to cov­er 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.

Nowa­days, Every­one Is a Poten­tial Tar­get in Ukraine” by Veroni­ka Pehe and Tom Row­ley; Polit­i­cal Cri­tique; 5/3/2017.

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

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 releasedthe 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.

Helmets of the Ukrainian Azov battalion: Your tax dollars at work

Hel­mets of the Ukrain­ian Azov bat­tal­ion: Your tax dol­lars at work (the unit is receiv­ing financ­ing and train­ing from the Pen­ta­gon.)

6. We then high­light an arti­cle about the anti-Roma pogrom 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. Almost every­one he talked to hate the Roma with a pas­sion. It also turns out most of them had lit­tle to no actu­al con­tact with their fel­low Roma cit­i­zens, at least not know­ing­ly since many Roma hide their eth­nic­i­ty due to ram­pant job dis­crim­i­na­tion.

Most locals sim­ply par­rot­ed the anti-Roma lessons they were taught as chil­dren. Anti-Roma Lessons that are even found in Ukrain­ian text­books.

It comes as no sur­prise that the Azov Bat­tal­ion is join­ing in on cre­at­ing a cli­mate of fear and intim­i­da­tion.

These devel­op­ments, too, reca­pit­u­late Ukraine’s Nazi past. “. . . .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. . . .”

“Old Hatreds Rekin­dled in Ukraine” by Max­im Tuck­er; open-democ­ra­cy/rus­sia and beyond; 9/18/2016.

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 pollshowed 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 state­mentsup­port­ing 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 themSus­pect­ing 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.”

Helmets of the Ukrainian Azov battalion: Your tax dollars at work

Hel­mets of the Ukrain­ian Azov bat­tal­ion: Your tax dol­lars at work

7a. The Avoz Bat­tal­ion has start­ed a new poli­tit­cal par­ty.

“Nation­al­ist Azov Bat­tal­ion Starts Polit­i­cal Par­ty” by Bermet Talant; Kyiv Post; 10/15/2016.

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.”

7b. Is elec­toral pol­i­tics the path for­ward for Azov? Pol­i­tics? Or do they have some­thing more direct in mind?

” . . . . [Nazar] 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. . . .”

“Right-Wing Azov Bat­tal­ion Enters Ukraine’s Polit­i­cal Are­na”; Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty; 10/14/2016.

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.

8. Next, we note that Ukraine is set to be the world’s third largest food exporter some time in the next decade due to its incred­i­bly pro­duc­tive arable land. This is undoubt­ed­ly a major fac­tor in the push to incor­po­rate Ukraine into the West­ern sphere of influ­ence.

“ . . . . Ukraine sold $7.6 bil­lion of bulk farm com­modi­ties world­wide in 2015, quin­tu­pling its rev­enue from a decade ear­li­er and top­ping Rus­sia, its clos­est rival on world mar­kets. By the mid-2020s, “Ukraine will be No.3, after the U.S. and Brazil,” in food pro­duc­tion world­wide, says Mar­tin Schuldt, the top rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Ukraine for Cargill, the world’s largest grain trad­er. The com­pa­ny, head­quar­tered in Min­neton­ka, Minn., saw its sun­flower-seed pro­cess­ing plant in the Donet­sk region over­run by sep­a­ratists in 2014; it still can’t regain access to the facil­i­ty. Nonethe­less, the com­pa­ny is invest­ing $100 mil­lion in a new grain ter­mi­nal in Ukraine. Bunge, the world’s biggest soy proces­sor, opened a port this year at a cer­e­mo­ny with Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko—another vote of con­fi­dence in the coun­try. . . . .”

“That Boom You Hear Is Ukraine’s Agri­cul­ture” by Alan Bjer­ga and Volodymyr Ver­byany; Bloomberg Busi­ness­week; 10/13/2016.

With the con­flict frozen, mon­ey is flow­ing to mod­ern­ize farms

Ihor Makarevych bumps along the pit­ted roads to his fields, talk­ing about war­fare and his crops. When con­flict broke out in east­ern Ukraine in 2014, heli­copter-launched heat flares scorched his land. Lat­er, 19 of his employ­ees were con­script­ed into the army. “There were nine road check­points installed by Ukrain­ian sol­diers near our farm­lands,” says the 52-year-old, who was an offi­cer in the Sovi­et Army in the 1980s.

Makarevych is chief exec­u­tive offi­cer of Agrofir­ma Podo­livs­ka, which man­ages farm­land in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, to the north bor­der­ing Rus­sia and to the east, the Donet­sk and Luhan­sk regions, part­ly con­trolled by sep­a­ratists. Despite that prox­im­i­ty, when he arrives at his fields, the war seems far away. Semi-auto­mat­ed New Hol­land and John Deere com­bines are start­ing to har­vest corn and sun­flow­ers, fol­low­ing chore­og­ra­phy devel­oped by Kharkiv-based coders. Farm­ers check mois­ture lev­els on mon­i­tors inside their cabs, while deep-yel­low grain is cut against a blue sky, the col­ors of the Ukrain­ian flag.

The corn and sun­flow­ers will make their way to the ports of Odessa and Myko­layiv for export, sold to Archer Daniels Mid­land, Cargill, and oth­er multi­na­tion­als as part of the stream of grain and oilseeds that makes Ukraine the world’s fifth-biggest sell­er of wheat and oth­er grains. Com­pa­nies are bet­ting that glob­al appetites will increas­ing­ly rely on Black Sea soil even as obsta­cles to growth remain. “Ukraine is a big answer to the ques­tion of how you feed the world,” says Steve Pifer, a for­mer U.S. ambas­sador there who’s now with the Brook­ings Insti­tu­tion. “But it’s a com­plex place to do busi­ness.”

The country’s agri­cul­tur­al super­pow­ers start with its soil, called cher­nozem, or “black earth.” High in humus and nat­ur­al fer­til­iz­ers, it’s cel­e­brat­ed by agrar­i­ans for its fer­til­i­ty. “In Iowa, good black soil may be a foot deep,” Pifer says. “In Ukraine, it’s three or four feet deep.” Prox­im­i­ty to the Euro­pean Union, Mid­dle East, Rus­sia, and Africa pro­vides nat­ur­al mar­kets. So does sus­pi­cion of genet­i­cal­ly mod­i­fied crops. Ukraine’s non-GMO corn vari­eties have made it China’s No.1 source, help­ing to turn the for­mer Sovi­et bread­bas­ket into a glob­al play­er.

Ukraine sold $7.6 bil­lion of bulk farm com­modi­ties world­wide in 2015, quin­tu­pling its rev­enue from a decade ear­li­er and top­ping Rus­sia, its clos­est rival on world mar­kets. By the mid-2020s, “Ukraine will be No.3, after the U.S. and Brazil,” in food pro­duc­tion world­wide, says Mar­tin Schuldt, the top rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Ukraine for Cargill, the world’s largest grain trad­er. The com­pa­ny, head­quar­tered in Min­neton­ka, Minn., saw its sun­flower-seed pro­cess­ing plant in the Donet­sk region over­run by sep­a­ratists in 2014; it still can’t regain access to the facil­i­ty. Nonethe­less, the com­pa­ny is invest­ing $100 mil­lion in a new grain ter­mi­nal in Ukraine. Bunge, the world’s biggest soy proces­sor, opened a port this year at a cer­e­mo­ny with Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko—another vote of con­fi­dence in the coun­try.

Con­flict in what’s broad­ly referred to as the Don­bas pret­ty much hasn’t spilled over to the rest of the coun­try, says John Shmorhun, CEO of Agro­Gen­er­a­tion, a com­pa­ny in the port­fo­lio of SigmaB­leyz­er Invest­ment Group, a glob­al pri­vate equi­ty firm based in Hous­ton. Agro­Gen­er­a­tion owns Agrofir­ma Podo­livs­ka, which cul­ti­vates part of the 120,000 hectares (296,500 acres) of land it oper­ates in Ukraine. It would like to have more land. “I know that if I take some­one else’s land, I can dou­ble, triple the yield,” says Shmorhun, a Ukrain­ian Amer­i­can and ex‑U.S. fight­er pilot who led Ukraine oper­a­tions for DuPont before mov­ing to Agro­Gen­er­a­tion.

About 1 in every 6 acres of agri­cul­tur­al land in Ukraine isn’t being farmed. Of land in pro­duc­tion, Shmorhun says only about a quar­ter is reach­ing yields on the lev­el of those in the devel­oped world, because of low­er-qual­i­ty seeds, fer­til­iz­ers, and equip­ment. “It’s a huge upside. It’s mind-bog­gling,” he says. Despite occa­sion­al saber rat­tling, the coun­try is sta­ble, he says. “The way I look at the war today, there is a con­flict zone. You draw a line around it.”

Land reform in the years imme­di­ate­ly after Ukrain­ian inde­pen­dence in 1991 left title to much of the farm­land in the hands of for­mer Sovi­et farm­work­ers and their descen­dants, along with the gov­ern­ment. Legal­ly, no one can sell it—companies such as Agro­Gen­er­a­tion have grown by sign­ing long-term leas­es with own­ers for parcels as small as 5 acres. But the uncer­tain­ty of land titles has deterred investors and kept farm­ers from expand­ing, says Pifer, the for­mer U.S. diplo­mat.

“Lack of cheap fund­ing is a big obsta­cle,” Shmorhun says. “If you want to get high­er qual­i­ty, you must invest in infra­struc­ture, includ­ing roads, grain ele­va­tors, dry­ers, stor­age.” Aver­age long-term bor­row­ing costs exceed 20 per­cent for loans in hryv­nia and 7 per­cent for loans in for­eign currencies—at 26 to the dol­lar, the hryv­nia is one of the world’s weak­est currencies—making invest­ments from any but the best-cap­i­tal­ized enter­pris­es rare. “With­out a mort­gage mar­ket, farm­ers can’t finance bet­ter seeds or machin­ery,” Shmorhun says. That leaves the bulk of farm­land to be tilled and har­vest­ed with 20th cen­tu­ry, and in some cas­es 19th cen­tu­ry, tech­nol­o­gy. Giv­en the out­mod­ed farm tech­nol­o­gy used by most, it’s remark­able Ukraine pro­duces as much as it does.

Poroshenko sup­ports cre­at­ing a mar­ket for farm­land, but the Par­lia­ment reg­u­lar­ly extends the ban on sell­ing agri­cul­tur­al prop­er­ty. Ear­li­er in Octo­ber, leg­is­la­tors backed a bill pro­long­ing the mora­to­ri­um through 2018, but the pres­i­dent has yet to sign it. The fear is that large Ukrain­ian com­pa­nies and for­eign investors will gob­ble up the land and dis­place small farm­ers.

9. Those “Russ­ian gov­ern­ment hack­ers” real­ly need a OPSEC refresh­er course. The hacked doc­u­ments in the ‘Macron hack’ not only con­tained Cyril­lic text in the meta­da­ta, but also con­tained the name of the last per­son to mod­i­fy the doc­u­ments. And that name, “Rosh­ka Georgiy Petro­vichan”, is an employ­ee at Evri­ka, a large IT com­pa­ny that does work for the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment, includ­ing the FSB.

Also found in the meta­da­ta is the email of the per­son who uploaded the files to “archive.org”, and that email address, frankmacher1@gmx.de, is reg­is­tered with a Ger­man free web­mail provider used pre­vi­ous­ly in 2016 phish­ing attacks against the CDU in Ger­many that have been attrib­uted to APT28. It would appear that the ‘Russ­ian hack­ers’ not only left clues sug­gest­ing it was Russ­ian hack­ers behind the hack, but they decid­ed name names this time. Their own names.

Not sur­pris­ing­ly, giv­en the fas­cist nature of Wik­iLeaks, they con­clud­ed that Rus­sia was behind the hacks. (For more on the fas­cist nature of Wik­iLeaks, see FTR #‘s 724, 725, 732, 745, 755, 917.)

“Evi­dence Sug­gests Rus­sia Behind Hack of French Pres­i­dent-Elect” by Sean Gal­lagher; Ars Tech­ni­ca; 5/8/2017.

Russ­ian secu­ri­ty firms’ meta­da­ta found in files, accord­ing to Wik­iLeaks and oth­ers.

Late on May 5 as the two final can­di­dates for the French pres­i­den­cy were about to enter a press black­out in advance of the May 7 elec­tion, nine giga­bytes of data alleged­ly from the cam­paign of Emmanuel Macron were post­ed on the Inter­net in tor­rents and archives. The files, which were ini­tial­ly dis­trib­uted via links post­ed on 4Chan and then by Wik­iLeaks, had foren­sic meta­da­ta sug­gest­ing that Rus­sians were behind the breach—and that a Russ­ian gov­ern­ment con­tract employ­ee may have fal­si­fied some of the dumped doc­u­ments.

Even Wik­iLeaks, which ini­tial­ly pub­li­cized the breach and defend­ed its integri­ty on the organization’s Twit­ter account, has since acknowl­edged that some of the meta­da­ta point­ed direct­ly to a Russ­ian com­pa­ny with ties to the gov­ern­ment:

#Macron­Leaks: name of employ­ee for Russ­ian govt secu­ri­ty con­trac­tor Evri­ka appears 9 times in meta­da­ta for “xls_cendric.rar” leak archive pic.twitter.com/jyhlmldlbL— Wik­iLeaks (@wikileaks) May 6, 2017

Evri­ka (“Eure­ka”) ZAO is a large infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny in St. Peters­burg that does some work for the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment, and the group includes the Fed­er­al Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion (FSB) among its acknowl­edged cus­tomers (as not­ed in this job list­ing). The com­pa­ny is a sys­tems inte­gra­tor, and it builds its own com­put­er equip­ment and pro­vides “inte­grat­ed infor­ma­tion secu­ri­ty sys­tems.” The meta­da­ta in some Microsoft Office files shows the last per­son to have edit­ed the files to be “Rosh­ka Georgiy Petro­vich,” a cur­rent or for­mer Evri­ka ZAO employ­ee.

Accord­ing to a Trend Micro report on April 25, the Macron cam­paign was tar­get­ed by the Pawn Storm threat group (also known as “Fan­cy Bear” or APT28) in a March 15 “phish­ing” cam­paign using the domain onedrive-en-marche.fr. The domain was reg­is­tered by a “Johny Pinch” using a Mail.com web­mail address. The same threat group’s infra­struc­ture and mal­ware was found to be used in the breach of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee in 2016, in the phish­ing attack tar­get­ing mem­bers of the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign of for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Clin­ton, and in a num­ber of oth­er cam­paigns against polit­i­cal tar­gets in the US and Ger­many over the past year.

The meta­da­ta attached to the upload of the Macron files also includes some iden­ti­fy­ing data with an e‑mail address for the per­son upload­ing the con­tent to archive.org:

Well this is fun pic.twitter.com/oXsH83snCS— Pwn All The Things (@pwnallthethings) May 6, 2017

The e‑mail address of the uploader, frankmacher1@gmx.de, is reg­is­tered with a Ger­man free web­mail provider used pre­vi­ous­ly in 2016 Pawn Storm / APT28 phish­ing attacks against the Chris­t­ian Demo­c­ra­t­ic Union, Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel’s polit­i­cal par­ty.

The involve­ment of APT28, the edit­ing of some doc­u­ments leaked by some­one using a Russ­ian ver­sion of Microsoft Office, and the attempt to spread the data through ampli­fi­ca­tion in social media chan­nels such as 4Chan, Twit­ter, and Facebook—where a num­ber of new accounts post­ed links to the data—are all char­ac­ter­is­tics of the infor­ma­tion oper­a­tions seen dur­ing the 2016 US pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

10. In relat­ed news, a group of cyber­se­cu­ri­ty researchers study­ing the Macron hack has con­clud­ed that the mod­i­fied doc­u­ments were doc­tored by some­one asso­ci­at­ed with The Dai­ly Stormer neo-Nazi web­site and Andrew “the weev” Auern­heimer.

Aueren­heimer was a guest at Glenn Green­wald and Lau­ra Poitras’s par­ty cel­e­brat­ing their receipt of the Polk award.

“ ‘We strong­ly believe that the fake off­shore doc­u­ments were cre­at­ed by some­one with con­trol of the Dai­ly Stormer serv­er,” said Tord Lund­ström, a com­put­er foren­sics inves­ti­ga­tor at Virtualroad.org.’ . . .”

Who is in con­trol of the Dai­ly Stormer? Well, its pub­lic face and pub­lish­er is Andrew Anglin. But look who the site is reg­is­tered to: Andrew Auern­heimer, who appar­ent­ly resided in Ukraine as of the start of this year:

The analy­sis from the web-secu­ri­ty firm Virtualroad.org. indi­cates that some­one asso­ci­at­ed with the Dai­ly Stormer mod­i­fied those faked doc­u­ments. Like, per­haps a high­ly skilled neo-Nazi hack­er like “the weev”.

Based on an analy­sis of how the doc­u­ment dump unfold­ed it’s look­ing like the inex­plic­a­bly self-incrim­i­nat­ing ‘Russ­ian hack­ers’ may have been a bunch of Amer­i­can neo-Nazis. Imag­ine that.

“U.S. Hack­er Linked to Fake Macron Doc­u­ments, Says Cyber­se­cu­ri­ty Firm” by David Gau­thi­er-Vil­lars; The Wall Street Jour­nal; 5/16/2017.

Ties between an American’s neo-Nazi web­site and an inter­net cam­paign to smear Macron before French elec­tion are found

A group of cyber­se­cu­ri­ty experts has unearthed ties between an Amer­i­can hack­er who main­tains a neo-Nazi web­site and an inter­net cam­paign to smear Emmanuel Macron days before he was elect­ed pres­i­dent of France.

Short­ly after an anony­mous user of the 4chan.org dis­cus­sion forum post­ed fake doc­u­ments pur­port­ing to show Mr. Macron had set up an undis­closed shell com­pa­ny in the Caribbean, the user direct­ed peo­ple to vis­it nouveaumartel.com for updates on the French elec­tion.

That web­site, accord­ing to research by web-secu­ri­ty provider Virtualroad.org, is reg­is­tered by “Wee­v­los,” a known online alias of Andrew Auern­heimer, an Amer­i­can hack­er who gained noto­ri­ety three years ago when a U.S. appeals court vacat­ed his con­vic­tion for com­put­er fraud. The site also is host­ed by a serv­er in Latvia that hosts the Dai­ly Stormer, a neo-Nazi news site that iden­ti­fies its admin­is­tra­tor as “Weev,” anoth­er online alias of Mr. Aeurn­heimer, Virtualroad.org says.

“We strong­ly believe that the fake off­shore doc­u­ments were cre­at­ed by some­one with con­trol of the Dai­ly Stormer serv­er,” said Tord Lund­ström, a com­put­er foren­sics inves­ti­ga­tor at Virtualroad.org.

Through Tor Eke­land, the lawyer who rep­re­sent­ed him in the com­put­er-fraud case in the U.S., Mr. Auern­heimer said he “doesn’t have any­thing to say.”

A French secu­ri­ty offi­cial said a probe into the fake doc­u­ments was look­ing into the role of far-right and neo-Nazi groups but declined to com­ment on the alleged role of Mr. Auern­heimer.

In the run-up to the French elec­tion, cyber­se­cu­ri­ty agen­cies warned Mr. Macron’s aides that Russ­ian hack­ers were tar­get­ing his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, accord­ing to peo­ple famil­iar with the mat­ter. On May 5, nine giga­bytes of cam­paign doc­u­ments and emails were dumped on the inter­net. The Macron cam­paign and French author­i­ties have stopped short of pin­ning blame for the hack on the Krem­lin.

Intel­li­gence and cyber­se­cu­ri­ty inves­ti­ga­tors exam­in­ing the flur­ry of social-media activ­i­ty lead­ing up to the hack fol­lowed a trail of com­put­er code they say leads back to the Amer­i­can far-right.

Con­tact­ed by email over the week­end, the pub­lish­er of the Dai­ly Stormer, Andrew Anglin, said he and Mr. Auern­heimer had used their news site to write about the fake doc­u­ments because “We fol­low 4chan close­ly and have a more mod­ern edi­to­r­i­al process than most sites.”

When asked if he or Mr. Auern­heimer were behind the fake doc­u­ments, Mr. Anglin stopped reply­ing.

Mr. Auern­heimer was sen­tenced to 41 months in prison by a U.S. court in late 2012 for obtain­ing the per­son­al data of thou­sands of iPad users through an AT&T web­site. In April 2014, an appeals court vacat­ed his con­vic­tion on the grounds that the venue of the tri­al, in New Jer­sey, was improp­er.

Asked if Mr. Auern­heimer resided in Ukraine, as a Jan­u­ary post on a per­son­al blog indi­cates, his lawyer said: “I think this is about right.”

The day after the data dump, French secu­ri­ty offi­cials sum­moned their U.S. coun­ter­parts sta­tioned in Paris to for­mal­ly request a probe of the role Amer­i­can far-right web­sites might have played in dis­sem­i­nat­ing the stolen data, accord­ing to a West­ern secu­ri­ty offi­cial. A U.S. secu­ri­ty offi­cial had no com­ment.

Mounir Mahjoubi, who was in charge of com­put­er secu­ri­ty for Mr. Macron’s cam­paign said far-right groups, or “an inter­na­tion­al col­lec­tive of con­ser­v­a­tives,” may have coor­di­nat­ed to dis­rupt the French elec­tion.

“We will take time to do analy­sis, to decon­struct who real­ly runs these groups,” Mr. Mahjoubi told French radio last week. He couldn’t be reached for com­ment.

French pros­e­cu­tors have launched for­mal probes into both the fake doc­u­ments and the data dump.

The pho­ny doc­u­ments intend­ed to smear Mr. Macron were post­ed to 4chan.org twice by an anony­mous user, first on May 3 and again on May 5 using high­er-res­o­lu­tion files.

Soon after the sec­ond post, sev­er­al 4chan.org users in the same online con­ver­sa­tion below the post appeared to con­grat­u­late Mr. Auern­heimer.

“Weev… you’re doing the lord’s work,” wrote one of the anony­mous users.


That web­site, accord­ing to research by web-secu­ri­ty provider Virtualroad.org, is reg­is­tered by “Wee­v­los,” a known online alias of Andrew Auern­heimer, an Amer­i­can hack­er who gained noto­ri­ety three years ago when a U.S. appeals court vacat­ed his con­vic­tion for com­put­er fraud. The site also is host­ed by a serv­er in Latvia that hosts the Dai­ly Stormer, a neo-Nazi news site that iden­ti­fies its admin­is­tra­tor as “Weev,” anoth­er online alias of Mr. Aeurn­heimer, Virtualroad.org says.

When asked if he or Mr. Auern­heimer were behind the fake doc­u­ments, Mr. Anglin stopped reply­ing.

Asked if Mr. Auern­heimer resided in Ukraine, as a Jan­u­ary post on a per­son­al blog indi­cates, his lawyer said: “I think this is about right.”

 

 

Discussion

11 comments for “FTR #959 Update on the New Cold War and the Nazification of Ukraine”

  1. Joshua Cohen, a for­mer U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment (USAID) project offi­cer involved in man­ag­ing eco­nom­ic reform projects in the for­mer Sovi­et Union has a piece in the Wash­ing­ton Post about the grow­ing threat of the far-right and neo-Nazis in Ukraine (it’s a lit­tle iron­ic). It’s a decent overview as far is giv­ing a sum­ma­ry of the grow­ing threat the far-right pos­es to Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment and soci­ety and makes the impor­tant point about dan­gers of these groups oper­at­ing with impuni­ty fol­low­ing one vio­lent act after anoth­er.

    And yet the piece con­tains this curi­ous para­graph:

    To be clear, Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da about Ukraine being over­run by Nazis or fas­cists is false. Far-right par­ties such as Svo­bo­da or Right Sec­tor draw lit­tle sup­port from Ukraini­ans.

    And that’s fol­lowed by a descrip­tion of how the the Inte­ri­or Min­istry is run by a guy who spon­sors the Azov Bat­tal­ion and his deputy min­is­ter is a neo-Nazi. Bet­ter late than nev­er:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Ukraine’s ultra-right mili­tias are chal­leng­ing the gov­ern­ment to a show­down

    By Joshua Cohen
    June 15, 2017 at 6:00 AM

    Josh Cohen is a for­mer U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment project offi­cer involved in man­ag­ing eco­nom­ic reform projects in the for­mer Sovi­et Union.

    As Ukraine’s fight against Russ­ian-sup­port­ed sep­a­ratists con­tin­ues, Kiev faces anoth­er threat to its long-term sov­er­eign­ty: pow­er­ful right-wing ultra­na­tion­al­ist groups. These groups are not shy about using vio­lence to achieve their goals, which are cer­tain­ly at odds with the tol­er­ant West­ern-ori­ent­ed democ­ra­cy Kiev osten­si­bly seeks to become.

    The recent bru­tal stab­bing of a left-wing anti-war activist named Stas Ser­hiyenko illus­trates the threat posed by these extrem­ists. Ser­hiyenko and his fel­low activists believe the per­pe­tra­tors belonged to the neo-Nazi group C14 (whose name comes from a 14-word phrase used by white suprema­cists). The attack took place on the anniver­sary of Hitler’s birth­day, and C14’s leader pub­lished a state­ment that cel­e­brat­ed Serhiyenko’s stab­bing imme­di­ate­ly after­ward.

    The attack on Ser­hiyenko is just the tip of the ice­berg. More recent­ly C14 beat up a social­ist politi­cian while oth­er ultra­na­tion­al­ist thugs stormed the Lviv and Kiev City Coun­cils. Far-right and neo-Nazi groups have also assault­ed or dis­rupt­ed art exhi­bi­tions, anti-fas­cist demon­stra­tions, a “Ukraini­ans Choose Peace” event, LGBT events, a social cen­ter, media orga­ni­za­tions, court pro­ceed­ings and a Vic­to­ry Day march cel­e­brat­ing the anniver­sary of the end of World War II.

    Accord­ing to a study from activist orga­ni­za­tion Insti­tute Respub­li­ca, the prob­lem is not only the fre­quen­cy of far-right vio­lence, but the fact that per­pe­tra­tors enjoy wide­spread impuni­ty. It’s not hard to under­stand why Kiev seems reluc­tant to con­front these vio­lent groups. For one thing, far-right para­mil­i­tary groups played an impor­tant role ear­ly in the war against Russ­ian-sup­port­ed sep­a­ratists. Kiev also fears these vio­lent groups could turn on the gov­ern­ment itself — some­thing they’ve done before and con­tin­ue to threat­en to do.

    To be clear, Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da about Ukraine being over­run by Nazis or fas­cists is false. Far-right par­ties such as Svo­bo­da or Right Sec­tor draw lit­tle sup­port from Ukraini­ans.

    Even so, the threat can­not be dis­missed out of hand. If author­i­ties don’t end the far right’s impuni­ty, it risks fur­ther embold­en­ing them, argues Krasimir Yankov, a researcher with Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al in Kiev. Indeed, the brazen will­ing­ness of Vita Zaverukha – a renowned neo-Nazi out on bail and under house arrest after killing two police offi­cers — to post pic­tures of her­self after storm­ing a pop­u­lar Kiev restau­rant with 50 oth­er nation­al­ists demon­strates the far right’s con­fi­dence in their immu­ni­ty from gov­ern­ment pros­e­cu­tion.

    It’s not too late for the gov­ern­ment to take steps to reassert con­trol over the rule of law. First, author­i­ties should enact a “zero-tol­er­ance” pol­i­cy on far-right vio­lence. Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko should order key law enforce­ment agen­cies — the Inte­ri­or Min­istry, the Nation­al Police of Ukraine, the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine (SBU) and the Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­als’ Office (PGO) — to make stop­ping far-right activ­i­ty a top pri­or­i­ty.

    The legal basis for pros­e­cut­ing extrem­ist vig­i­lan­tism cer­tain­ly exists. The Crim­i­nal Code of Ukraine specif­i­cal­ly out­laws vio­lence against peace­ful assem­blies. The police need to start enforc­ing this law.

    Most impor­tant­ly, the gov­ern­ment must also break any con­nec­tions between law enforce­ment agen­cies and far-right orga­ni­za­tions. The clear­est exam­ple of this prob­lem lies in the Min­istry of Inter­nal Affairs, which is head­ed by Arsen Avakov. Avakov has a long-stand­ing rela­tion­ship with the Azov Bat­tal­ion, a para­mil­i­tary group that uses the SS sym­bol as its insignia and which, with sev­er­al oth­ers, was inte­grat­ed into the army or Nation­al Guard at the begin­ning of the war in the East. Crit­ics have accused Avakov of using mem­bers of the group to threat­en an oppo­si­tion media out­let. As at least one com­men­ta­tor has point­ed out, using the Nation­al Guard to com­bat ultra­na­tion­al­ist vio­lence is like­ly to prove dif­fi­cult if far-right groups have become part of the Guard itself.

    Avakov’s Deputy Min­is­ter Vadym Troy­an was a mem­ber of the neo-Nazi Patri­ot of Ukraine (PU) para­mil­i­tary orga­ni­za­tion, while cur­rent Min­istry of Inte­ri­or offi­cial Ilya Kiva – a for­mer mem­ber of the far-right Right Sec­tor par­ty whose Insta­gram feed is pop­u­lat­ed with images of for­mer Ital­ian fas­cist leader Ben­i­to Mus­soli­ni – has called for gays “to be put to death.” And Avakov him­self used the PU to pro­mote his busi­ness and polit­i­cal inter­ests while serv­ing as a gov­er­nor in east­ern Ukraine, and as inte­ri­or min­is­ter formed and armed the extrem­ist Azov bat­tal­ion led by Andriy Bilet­sky, a man nick­named the “White Chief” who called for a cru­sade against “Semi­te-led sub-human­i­ty.”

    Such offi­cials have no place in a gov­ern­ment based on the rule of law; they should go. More broad­ly, the gov­ern­ment should also make sure that every police offi­cer receives human rights train­ing focused on improv­ing the polic­ing and pros­e­cu­tion of hate crimes. Those demon­strat­ing signs of extrem­ist ties or sym­pa­thies should be exclud­ed.

    In one noto­ri­ous inci­dent, media cap­tured images of swasti­ka-tat­tooed thugs — who police claimed were only job appli­cants want­i­ng to have “fun” — giv­ing the Nazi salute in a police build­ing in Kiev. This can­not be allowed to go on, and it’s just as impor­tant for Ukrain­ian democ­ra­cy to cleanse extrem­ists from law enforce­ment as it is to remove cor­rupt offi­cials from for­mer pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych’s regime under Ukraine’s “lus­tra­tion” pol­i­cy.

    ...

    ———-

    “Ukraine’s ultra-right mili­tias are chal­leng­ing the gov­ern­ment to a show­down” by Joshua Cohen; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 06/15/2017

    “Accord­ing to a study from activist orga­ni­za­tion Insti­tute Respub­li­ca, the prob­lem is not only the fre­quen­cy of far-right vio­lence, but the fact that per­pe­tra­tors enjoy wide­spread impuni­ty. It’s not hard to under­stand why Kiev seems reluc­tant to con­front these vio­lent groups. For one thing, far-right para­mil­i­tary groups played an impor­tant role ear­ly in the war against Russ­ian-sup­port­ed sep­a­ratists. Kiev also fears these vio­lent groups could turn on the gov­ern­ment itself — some­thing they’ve done before and con­tin­ue to threat­en to do.”

    Far-right vio­lence enjoy­ing impuni­ty. Yeah, that sounds like a pret­ty good sign that Ukraine is “being over­run by Nazis or fas­cists.” Isn’t that almost the def­i­n­i­tion of being over­run by Nazis and fas­cists? It seems like it.

    But oth­er­wise, it was a decent sum­ma­ry of the sit­u­a­tion. Kind of like the piece Cohen wrote last year:

    For­eign Pol­i­cy

    Report
    The His­to­ri­an White­wash­ing Ukraine’s Past

    Volodymyr Via­tro­vych is eras­ing the country’s racist and bloody his­to­ry — strip­ping pogroms and eth­nic cleans­ing from the offi­cial archives.

    By Josh Cohen
    May 2, 2016

    When it comes to pol­i­tics and his­to­ry, an accu­rate mem­o­ry can be a dan­ger­ous thing.

    In Ukraine, as the coun­try strug­gles with its iden­ti­ty, that’s dou­bly true. While Ukrain­ian polit­i­cal par­ties try to push the coun­try toward Europe or Rus­sia, a young, ris­ing Ukrain­ian his­to­ri­an named Volodymyr Via­tro­vych has placed him­self at the cen­ter of that fight. Advo­cat­ing a nation­al­ist, revi­sion­ist his­to­ry that glo­ri­fies the country’s move to inde­pen­dence — and purges bloody and oppor­tunis­tic chap­ters — Via­tro­vych has attempt­ed to redraft the country’s mod­ern his­to­ry to white­wash Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist groups’ involve­ment in the Holo­caust and mass eth­nic cleans­ing of Poles dur­ing World War II. And right now, he’s win­ning.

    In May 2015, Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko signed a law that man­dat­ed the trans­fer of the country’s com­plete set of archives, from the “Sovi­et organs of repres­sion,” such as the KGB and its dece­dent, the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine (SBU), to a gov­ern­ment orga­ni­za­tion called the Ukrain­ian Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­o­ry. Run by the young schol­ar — and charged with “imple­men­ta­tion of state pol­i­cy in the field of restora­tion and preser­va­tion of nation­al mem­o­ry of the Ukrain­ian peo­ple” — the insti­tute received mil­lions of doc­u­ments, includ­ing infor­ma­tion on polit­i­cal dis­si­dents, pro­pa­gan­da cam­paigns against reli­gion, the activ­i­ties of Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist orga­ni­za­tions, KGB espi­onage and counter-espi­onage activ­i­ties, and crim­i­nal cas­es con­nect­ed to the Stal­in­ist purges. Under the archives law, one of four “mem­o­ry laws” writ­ten by Via­tro­vych, the institute’s ano­dyne-sound­ing man­date is mere­ly a cov­er to present a biased and one-sided view of mod­ern Ukrain­ian his­to­ry — and one that could shape the country’s path for­ward.

    The con­tro­ver­sy cen­ters on a telling of World War II his­to­ry that ampli­fies Sovi­et crimes and glo­ri­fies Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist fight­ers while dis­miss­ing the vital part they played in eth­nic cleans­ing of Poles and Jews from 1941 to 1945 after the Nazi inva­sion of the for­mer Sovi­et Union. Viatrovych’s vision of his­to­ry instead tells the sto­ry of par­ti­san guer­ril­las who waged a brave bat­tle for Ukrain­ian inde­pen­dence against over­whelm­ing Sovi­et pow­er. It also sends a mes­sage to those who do not iden­ti­fy with the country’s eth­no-nation­al­ist myth­mak­ers — such as the many Russ­ian speak­ers in east­ern Ukraine who still cel­e­brate the hero­ism of the Red Army dur­ing World War II — that they’re on the out­side. And more point­ed­ly, schol­ars now fear that they risk reprisal for not toe­ing the offi­cial line — or call­ing Via­tro­vych on his his­tor­i­cal dis­tor­tions. Under Viatrovych’s reign, the coun­try could be head­ed for a new, and fright­en­ing, era of cen­sor­ship.

    Although events of 75 years ago may seem like set­tled his­to­ry, they are very much a part of the infor­ma­tion war rag­ing between Rus­sia and Ukraine.

    The revi­sion­ism focus­es on two Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist groups: the Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists (OUN) and the Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army (UPA), which fought to estab­lish an inde­pen­dent Ukraine. Dur­ing the war, these groups killed tens of thou­sands of Jews and car­ried out a bru­tal cam­paign of eth­nic cleans­ing that killed as many as 100,000 Poles. Cre­at­ed in 1929 to free Ukraine from Sovi­et con­trol, the OUN embraced the notion of an eth­ni­cal­ly pure Ukrain­ian nation. When the Nazis invad­ed the Sovi­et Union in 1941, the OUN and its charis­mat­ic leader, Stepan Ban­dera, embraced the inva­sion as a step toward Ukrain­ian inde­pen­dence. Its mem­bers car­ried out a pogrom in Lviv that killed 5,000 Jews, and OUN mili­tias played a major role in vio­lence against the Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion in west­ern Ukraine that claimed the lives of up to 35,000 Jews.

    Hitler was not inter­est­ed in grant­i­ng Ukraine inde­pen­dence, how­ev­er. By 1943 the OUN vio­lent­ly seized con­trol of the UPA and declared itself opposed to both the Ger­mans, then in retreat, and the oncom­ing Sovi­ets. Many UPA troops had already assist­ed the Nazis as Ukrain­ian Aux­il­iary Police in the exter­mi­na­tion of hun­dreds and thou­sands of Jews in west­ern Ukraine in 1941 and 1942, and they now became foot sol­diers in anoth­er round of eth­nic cleans­ing in west­ern Ukraine in 1943 to 1944, this time direct­ed pri­mar­i­ly against Poles. When the Sovi­ets were clos­ing in 1944, the OUN resumed coop­er­a­tion with the Ger­mans and con­tin­ued to fight the Sovi­ets into the 1950s, before final­ly being crushed by the Red Army.

    This lega­cy of sac­ri­fice against the Sovi­ets con­tin­ues to prompt many Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists to view Ban­dera and the OUN-UPA as heroes whose val­or kept the dream of Ukrain­ian state­hood alive.

    Now, as Ukraine seeks to free itself from Russia’s grip, Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists are pro­vid­ing the Kremlin’s pro­pa­gan­da machine fod­der to sup­port the claim that post-rev­o­lu­tion­ary Ukraine is over­run by fas­cists and neo-Nazis.. The new law, which promis­es that peo­ple who “pub­licly exhib­it a dis­re­spect­ful atti­tude” toward these groups or “deny the legit­i­ma­cy” of Ukraine’s 20th cen­tu­ry strug­gle for inde­pen­dence will be pros­e­cut­ed (though no pun­ish­ment is spec­i­fied) also means that inde­pen­dent Ukraine is being par­tial­ly built on a fal­si­fied nar­ra­tive of the Holo­caust.

    ...

    ———-

    “The His­to­ri­an White­wash­ing Ukraine’s Past” by Josh Cohen; For­eign Pol­i­cy; 05/02/2016

    Now, as Ukraine seeks to free itself from Russia’s grip, Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists are pro­vid­ing the Kremlin’s pro­pa­gan­da machine fod­der to sup­port the claim that post-rev­o­lu­tion­ary Ukraine is over­run by fas­cists and neo-Nazis.. The new law, which promis­es that peo­ple who “pub­licly exhib­it a dis­re­spect­ful atti­tude” toward these groups or “deny the legit­i­ma­cy” of Ukraine’s 20th cen­tu­ry strug­gle for inde­pen­dence will be pros­e­cut­ed (though no pun­ish­ment is spec­i­fied) also means that inde­pen­dent Ukraine is being par­tial­ly built on a fal­si­fied nar­ra­tive of the Holo­caust.”

    There’s go those pesky “Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists” giv­ing the Krem­lin free pro­pa­gan­da points again...by offi­cial­ly rewrit­ing his­to­ry with a pro-fas­cist/Holo­caust deny­ing slant under a 2015 law that explic­it­ly gave the Ukrain­ian Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­o­ry the pow­er to do such rewrites. How unhelp­ful of them to dam­age Ukraine’s image like that. Good thing they don’t have any real pow­er or else peo­ple might get the wrong idea. *phew*!.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 15, 2017, 2:46 pm
  2. Here’s a sto­ry about clusterf*ck of sig­nif­i­cant Ukrain­ian dates that ends the way one should expect at this point: it turns out June 30th is a pret­ty awk­ward anniver­sary of sorts for Ukraine. It was on June 30, 1941, when the OUN‑B announced an inde­pen­dent Ukrain­ian state in the city of Lviv. That same day marked the start of the Lviv Pograms that led to the death of thou­sands of Jews. And June 30th also turns out to be the birth­day of Roman Shukhevych, com­man­der of the Nachti­gall Bat­tal­ion that car­ried out the mass killings. All of which means that any sort of his­toric cel­e­bra­tion on June 30th in Lviv would be a pret­ty open­ly hos­tile act towards Ukraine’s Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty, and espe­cial­ly Lviv’s. Espe­cial­ly if it includ­ed a cel­e­bra­tion of Shukhevych.

    So, of course, the city of Lviv is start­ing “Shukhevy­ch­fest” to be held in Lviv on June 30th:

    Jew­ish Tele­graph Agency

    Ukraine city to hold fes­ti­val in hon­or of Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor whose troops killed Jews

    June 28, 2017 7:05am

    (JTA) — The Ukrain­ian city of Lviv will hold a fes­ti­val cel­e­brat­ing a Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor on the anniver­sary of a major pogrom against the city’s Jews.

    Shukhevy­ch­fest, an event named for Roman Shukhevych fea­tur­ing music and the­ater shows, will be held Fri­day.

    Eduard Dolin­sky, the direc­tor of the Ukrain­ian Jew­ish Com­mit­tee, in a state­ment called the event “dis­grace­ful.”

    On June 30, 1941, Ukrain­ian troops, includ­ing mili­ti­a­men loy­al to Shukhevych’s, began a series of pogroms against Jews, which they per­pe­trat­ed under the aus­pices of the Ger­man army, accord­ing to Yale Uni­ver­si­ty his­to­ry pro­fes­sor Tim­o­thy Sny­der and oth­er schol­ars. They mur­dered approx­i­mate­ly 6,000 Jews in those pogroms.

    The day of the fes­ti­val is the 110th birth­day of Shukhevych, a leader of the OUN‑B nation­al­ist group and lat­er of the UPA insur­gency mili­tia, which col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Nazis against the Sovi­et Union before it turned against the Nazis.

    Shukhevy­ch­fest is part of a series of ges­tures hon­or­ing nation­al­ists in Ukraine fol­low­ing the 2014 rev­o­lu­tion, in which nation­al­ists played a lead­ing role. They brought down the gov­ern­ment of Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovuch, whose crit­ics said was a cor­rupt Russ­ian stooge.

    On June 13, a Kiev admin­is­tra­tive court par­tial­ly upheld a motion by par­ties opposed to the ven­er­a­tion of Shukhevych in the city and sus­pend­ed the renam­ing of a street after Shukhevych. The city coun­cil approved the renam­ing ear­li­er this month.

    In a relat­ed debate, the direc­tor of Ukraine’s Insti­tute of Nation­al Remem­brance, Vladimir Vya­tro­vich, who recent­ly described Shukhevych as an “emi­nent per­son­al­i­ty,” last month defend­ed the dis­play­ing in pub­lic of the sym­bol of the Gali­cian SS divi­sion. Respon­si­ble for count­less mur­ders of Jews, Nazi Germany’s most elite unit was com­prised of Ukrain­ian vol­un­teers.

    Dis­play­ing Nazi sym­bols is ille­gal in Ukraine but the Gali­cian SS division’s sym­bol is “in accor­dance with the cur­rent leg­is­la­tion of Ukraine,” Vya­tro­vich said.

    ...
    ———-

    “Ukraine city to hold fes­ti­val in hon­or of Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor whose troops killed Jews”; Jew­ish Tele­graph Agency; 06/28/2017

    “The Ukrain­ian city of Lviv will hold a fes­ti­val cel­e­brat­ing a Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor on the anniver­sary of a major pogrom against the city’s Jews

    As the say­ing goes, tim­ing is every­thing:

    ...
    On June 30, 1941, Ukrain­ian troops, includ­ing mili­ti­a­men loy­al to Shukhevych’s, began a series of pogroms against Jews, which they per­pe­trat­ed under the aus­pices of the Ger­man army, accord­ing to Yale Uni­ver­si­ty his­to­ry pro­fes­sor Tim­o­thy Sny­der and oth­er schol­ars. They mur­dered approx­i­mate­ly 6,000 Jews in those pogroms.

    The day of the fes­ti­val is the 110th birth­day of Shukhevych, a leader of the OUN‑B nation­al­ist group and lat­er of the UPA insur­gency mili­tia, which col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Nazis against the Sovi­et Union before it turned against the Nazis.
    ...

    And note that, while June 30th has obvi­ous and hor­ri­ble neo-Nazi con­no­ta­tions in the city of Lviv which are even more hor­ri­ble now that its being cel­e­brat­ed, that date was also declared a “Glob­al Day of Remem­brance” for David Lane fol­low­ing his death in 2007, includ­ing march­es in Ukraine:

    Coun­ter­Punch

    Fas­cist For­ma­tions in Ukraine

    by Peter Lee
    March 13, 2015

    The Guardian pub­lished an adu­la­to­ry fea­ture on “The Women Fight­ing on the Front­line in Ukraine”.

    One of the women pro­filed was “Ana­con­da”, fight­ing in the Aidar Bat­tal­ion bankrolled by Igor Kolo­moisky:

    Ana­con­da was giv­en her nick­name by a unit com­man­der, in a jok­ing ref­er­ence to her stature and pow­er. The baby-faced 19-year-old says that her moth­er is very wor­ried about her and phones sev­er­al times a day, some­times even dur­ing com­bat. She says it is bet­ter to always answer, as her moth­er will not stop call­ing until she picks up.

    “In the very begin­ning my moth­er kept say­ing that the war is not for girls,” Ana­con­da says. “But now she has to put up with my choice. My dad would have come to the front him­self, but his health does not allow him to move. He is proud of me now.”

    Ana­con­da was pho­tographed in com­bat dress res­olute­ly hold­ing an assault rifle in front of a rather decrepit van.

    The cap­tion read:

    “Ana­con­da says she is being treat­ed well by the men in her bat­tal­ion, but is hop­ing that the war will end soon.”

    As report­ed by the gad­fly site Off­Guardian, sev­er­al read­ers post­ed crit­i­cal obser­va­tions on the van’s insignia in the com­ments sec­tion of the piece. One, “bananasand­socks”, wrote: “We learn from Wikipedia that the image on the door is the “semi-offi­cial” insignia of the 36th Waf­fen Grenadier Divi­sion of the SS…” and also point­ed out the neo-Nazi sig­nif­i­cance of the num­ber “1488”.

    “bananasand­socks” seem­ing­ly tem­per­ate com­ment was removed by the Guardian for vio­lat­ing its com­mu­ni­ty stan­dards, as were sev­er­al oth­ers, appar­ent­ly as exam­ples of “per­sis­tent mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the Guardian and our jour­nal­ists”.

    But then the Guardian thought bet­ter of it. While not rein­stat­ing the crit­i­cal com­ments, it qui­et­ly delet­ed the orig­i­nal cap­tion to the pho­to of Ana­con­da and replaced it with:

    Ana­con­da along­side a van dis­play­ing the neo-Nazi sym­bol 1488. The vol­un­teer brigade is known for its far-right links.

    Prob­lem solved? Maybe not. Maybe it’s more like “Prob­lem dodged”. Specif­i­cal­ly, the prob­lem of the per­va­sive par­tic­i­pa­tion of “ultra-right” para­mil­i­tary ele­ments in Kyiv mil­i­tary oper­a­tions, which even intrudes upon the Guardian’s efforts to put a lib­er­al-friend­ly fem­i­nist sheen on the deba­cle of the recent ATO in east­ern Ukraine.

    As to “1488”, I’ll repro­duce the Wikipedia entry:

    The Four­teen Words is a phrase used pre­dom­i­nant­ly by white nation­al­ists. It most com­mon­ly refers to a 14-word slo­gan: “We must secure the exis­tence of our peo­ple and a future for White Chil­dren.” It can also refer to anoth­er 14-word slo­gan: “Because the beau­ty of the White Aryan woman must not per­ish from the earth.”

    Both slo­gans were coined by David Lane, con­vict­ed ter­ror­ist and mem­ber of the white sep­a­ratist orga­ni­za­tion The Order. The first slo­gan was inspired by a state­ment, 88 words in length, from Vol­ume 1, Chap­ter 8 of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf:

    ...

    Neo-Nazis often com­bine the num­ber 14 with 88, as in “14/88? or “1488”. The 8s stand for the eighth let­ter of the alpha­bet (H), with “HH” stand­ing for “Heil Hitler”.

    Lane died in prison in 2007 while serv­ing a 190 year sen­tence for, among oth­er things, the mur­der of Den­ver radio talk show host Alan Berg. David Lane has con­sid­er­able stature with­in glob­al white nation­al­ist/­neo-Naz­i/­fas­cist cir­cles as one of the Amer­i­can Aryan movement’s pre­mier badass­es (in addi­tion involve­ment in to the Berg murder—in which he denied involvement—and a string of bank rob­beries to finance the movement—also denied, Lane achieved a cer­tain martyr’s stature for endur­ing almost two decades in Fed­er­al deten­tion, fre­quent­ly in the noto­ri­ous Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Man­age­ment Units).

    And David Lane was a big deal for the “ultra-right” & fas­cists in Ukraine, accord­ing to the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter:

    Lane’s death touched off paeans from racists around the coun­try and abroad. June 30 was des­ig­nat­ed a “Glob­al Day of Remem­brance,” with demon­stra­tions held in at least five U.S. cities as well as Eng­land, Ger­many, Rus­sia and the Ukraine.


    Judg­ing by this video, the march/memorial on the first anniver­sary of his death, in 2008, orga­nized by the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Social­ist Par­ty in Kyiv, was well enough attend­ed to mer­it a police pres­ence of sev­er­al dozen offi­cers. The soun­track to the clip, by the way, is an ele­gy to David Lane per­formed by Ukraine’s pre­mier white nation­al­ist met­al band at the time, Sokyra Peruna.

    There is a pho­to­graph of a shield inscribed “1488” at Maid­an.

    [see pho­to of ‘1488’ shield being used by Maid­an pro­tes­tor]

    More sig­nif­i­cant­ly, per­haps, the name of the armed wing of the Svo­bo­da Par­ty, C14, appar­ent­ly invokes Lane’s “14 words” .

    It should be said that Lane’s views, includ­ing those that inspired the 1488 tag, are eso­teric even with­in the fas­cist/­Neo-Naz­i/white suprema­cist world he inhab­it­ed.

    In a let­ter from prison, Lane wrote:

    You know that the three great­est move­ments of the last 2,000 years have been Islam, Chris­tian­i­ty and Judaism. Judaism allowed Jews to con­quer and rule the world. I believe only a reli­gious fer­vor can save our kind now. The 14 Words must be a divine com­mand of Nature’s God whom we call Wotan All­fa­ther.

    As the 666 man, and the Joseph Smith of Wotanism my rewards will be zero. Death in prison, scorn from those with no vision, and hate from the stu­pid goy­im and their kosher mas­ters. But some­times a man is con­demned to a high­er cause. And cheer­ful­ness in adver­si­ty is still a virtue. Take care. 14 – 88

    Lane com­posed his “88 Pre­cepts” to instruct believ­ers in the ways of white nation­al­ism. While appar­ent­ly riff­ing off the 88 word Mein Kampf pas­sage and “88=HH=Heil Hitler”, it also refers to Lane’s numerological/messianic pre­oc­cu­pa­tions.

    Ukrain­ian fas­cists’ admi­ra­tion for Lane is a reflec­tion of the per­va­sive­ness of indige­nous Ukrain­ian fas­cism, which looks for mod­els and part­ners inter­na­tion­al­ly while draw­ing plen­ty of strength and inspi­ra­tion from its own pro­found­ly deep his­tor­i­cal and ide­o­log­i­cal local roots.

    As I wrote in a piece for Coun­ter­Punch, Ukrain­ian fas­cism seems almost inevitable:

    Ukrain­ian fas­cism is more durable and vital than most. It was forged in the most adverse con­di­tions imag­in­able, in the fur­nace of Stal­in­ism, under the reign of Hitler, and amid Poland’s effort to destroy Ukrain­ian nation­al­i­ty.

    Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism was under fero­cious attack between the two world wars. The USSR occu­pied the east­ern half of Ukraine, sub­ject­ed it to col­lec­tiviza­tion under Stal­in, and com­mit­ted repres­sion and enabled a famine that killed mil­lions. At first, the Sovi­ets sought to co-opt Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism by sup­port­ing Ukrain­ian cul­tur­al expres­sion while repress­ing Ukrain­ian polit­i­cal aspi­ra­tions; USSR nation­al­i­ties poli­cies were “nation­al­ist in expres­sion and social­ist in essence”. Then, in 1937 Stal­in oblit­er­at­ed the native Ukrain­ian cul­tur­al and com­mu­nist appa­ra­tus in a thor­ough­go­ing purge and imple­ment­ed Rus­si­fied cen­tral con­trol through his bespoke instru­ment, Niki­ta Khrushchev.

    Mean­while, the west­ern part of the Ukraine was under the thumb of the Pol­ish Repub­lic, which was try­ing to entrench its rule before either the Ger­mans or the Rus­sians got around to destroy­ing it again. This trans­lat­ed into a con­cert­ed Pol­ish polit­i­cal, secu­ri­ty, cul­tur­al, and demo­graph­ic push into Ukrain­ian Gali­cia. The Pol­ish gov­ern­ment dis­placed Ukrain­ian intel­lec­tu­als and farm­ers, attacked their cul­ture and reli­gion (includ­ing seizure of Ortho­dox church­es and con­ver­sion into Roman Catholic edi­fices), mar­gin­al­ized the Ukraini­ans in their own home­land, and sup­pressed Ukrain­ian inde­pen­dence activists (like Ban­dera, who spent the years 1933 to 1939 in Poland’s Wron­ki Prison after try­ing to assas­si­nate Poland’s Min­is­ter of the Inte­ri­or).

    Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists, there­fore, were unable to ride com­mu­nism or bour­geois democ­ra­cy into pow­er. Com­mu­nism was a tool of Sovi­et expan­sion­ism, not class empow­er­ment, and Pol­ish democ­ra­cy offered no pro­tec­tion for Ukrain­ian minor­i­ty rights or polit­i­cal expres­sion, let alone a Ukrain­ian state.

    Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists turned large­ly toward fas­cism, specif­i­cal­ly toward a con­cept of “inte­gral nation­al­ism” that, in the absence of an accept­able nation­al gov­ern­ment, man­i­fest­ed itself in a nation­al will resid­ing in the spir­it of its adher­ents, not expressed by the state or restrained by its laws, but embod­ied by a charis­mat­ic leader and exer­cised through his orga­ni­za­tion, whose legit­i­ma­cy super­sedes that of the state and whose com­mit­ment to vio­lence makes it a law unto itself.

    It’s not just a mat­ter of his­tor­i­cal sen­ti­ment or incli­na­tion. Ukraine’s con­tem­po­rary fas­cists share a direct blood­line with the fas­cists of the Sovi­et era, espe­cial­ly in the mat­ter of Roman Shukhevych, the com­man­der of Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist forces fight­ing with the Nazis dur­ing World War II and also respon­si­ble for hor­rif­ic atroc­i­ties while attempt­ing to cleanse Gali­cia of Poles in the ser­vice of Ukrain­ian inde­pen­dence. From my Coun­ter­Punch arti­cle:

    In Feb­ru­ary 2014, the New York Times’ Andrew Hig­gins penned a rather embar­rass­ing pas­sage that val­orized the occu­pa­tion of Lviv—the Gali­cian city at the heart of Ukrain­ian fas­cism, the old stomp­ing grounds of Roman Shukhevych and the Nachti­gall bat­t­laion, and also Simon Wiesnthal’s home town—by anti-Yanyukovich forces in Jan­u­ary 2014:

    Some of the president’s long­time oppo­nents here have tak­en an increas­ing­ly rad­i­cal line.

    Offer­ing inspi­ra­tion and advice has been Yuriy Shukhevych, a blind vet­er­an nation­al­ist who spent 31 years in Sovi­et pris­ons and labor camps and whose father, Roman, led the Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army against Pol­ish and then Sovi­et rule.

    Mr. Shukhevych, 80, who lost his sight dur­ing his time in the Sovi­et gulag, helped guide the for­ma­tion of Right Sec­tor, an unruly orga­ni­za­tion whose fight­ers now man bar­ri­cades around Inde­pen­dence Square, the epi­cen­ter of the protest move­ment in Kiev.

    Yuriy Shukhevych’s role in mod­ern Ukrain­ian fas­cism is not sim­ply that of an inspi­ra­tional fig­ure­head and reminder of his father’s anti-Sovi­et hero­ics for proud Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists. He is a core fig­ure in the emer­gence of the key Ukrain­ian fas­cist for­ma­tion, Pravy Sek­tor and its para­mil­i­tary.

    And Pravy Sektor’s para­mil­i­tary, the UNA-UNSO, is not an “unruly” col­lec­tion of week­end-war­rior-wannabes, as Mr. Hig­gins might believe.

    UNA-UNSO was formed dur­ing the tur­moil of the ear­ly 1990s, large­ly by eth­nic Ukrain­ian vet­er­ans of the Sovi­et Union’s bit­ter war in Afghanistan. From the first, the UNA-UNSO has shown a taste for for­eign adven­tures, send­ing detach­ments to Moscow in 1990 to oppose the Com­mu­nist coup against Yeltsin, and to Lithua­nia in 1991. With appar­ent­ly very good rea­son, the Rus­sians have also accused UNA-UNSO fight­ers of par­tic­i­pat­ing on the anti-Russ­ian side in Geor­gia and Chech­nya.

    After for­mal Ukrain­ian inde­pen­dence, the mili­tia elect­ed Yuriy Shukhevych—the son of OUN‑B com­man­der Roman Shukhevych– as its leader and set up a polit­i­cal arm, which lat­er became Pravy Sek­tor.

    There’s plen­ty of indige­nous fas­cism to go around. Inter­views with Ukrain­ian ultra-rights reveal a wel­ter of views befit­ting the country’s fraught and con­test­ed sta­tus in cen­tral Europe, rang­ing from “autonomous nation­al­ists” (whose demeanour and tac­tics mir­ror on the right mir­ror those of Euro­pean anar­chists on the left); ultras who emerged from the foot­ball club wars; and deter­mined­ly the­o­ret­i­cal sci­en­tif­ic fas­cists. The com­mon thread of the diverse and syn­cret­ic Ukrain­ian fas­cist move­ment is the con­vic­tion that the sur­vival of the Ukrain­ian peo­ple is under threat from a mul­ti­tude of forces and mech­a­nisms (Rus­sians, Jews, the EU, democ­ra­cy, cap­i­tal­ism, com­mu­nism etc.), and can only be assured by autonomous armed force under charis­mat­ic lead­er­ship; and yes, appar­ent­ly a shared belief that Adolf Hitler showed how it could and should be done.

    Root­ing fas­cism out of Ukraine’s cul­tur­al, social, and polit­i­cal matrix is going to take a lot of work. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the oppo­site is going on right now.
    ...

    ———-

    “Fas­cist For­ma­tions in Ukraine” by Peter Lee; Coun­ter­Punch; 03/13/2015

    “Lane’s death touched off paeans from racists around the coun­try and abroad. June 30 was des­ig­nat­ed a “Glob­al Day of Remem­brance,” with demon­stra­tions held in at least five U.S. cities as well as Eng­land, Ger­many, Rus­sia and the Ukraine.”

    Yep, June 30th was des­ig­nat­ed a “Glob­al Day of Remem­brance” by neo-Nazis in hon­or of David Lane, the guy who came who turned the num­bers 14 and 88 into neo-Nazi code. Code embraced by Ukraine’s neo-Nazi mili­tias:

    ...
    Judg­ing by this video, the march/memorial on the first anniver­sary of his death, in 2008, orga­nized by the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Social­ist Par­ty in Kyiv, was well enough attend­ed to mer­it a police pres­ence of sev­er­al dozen offi­cers. The soun­track to the clip, by the way, is an ele­gy to David Lane per­formed by Ukraine’s pre­mier white nation­al­ist met­al band at the time, Sokyra Peruna.

    There is a pho­to­graph of a shield inscribed “1488” at Maid­an.

    [see pho­to of ‘1488’ shield being used by Maid­an pro­tes­tor]

    More sig­nif­i­cant­ly, per­haps, the name of the armed wing of the Svo­bo­da Par­ty, C14, appar­ent­ly invokes Lane’s “14 words” .
    ...

    And it’s the sone of Roman Shukhevych who helped form con­tem­po­rary neo-Nazi out­fits like Pravy Sek­tor:

    ...
    In Feb­ru­ary 2014, the New York Times’ Andrew Hig­gins penned a rather embar­rass­ing pas­sage that val­orized the occu­pa­tion of Lviv—the Gali­cian city at the heart of Ukrain­ian fas­cism, the old stomp­ing grounds of Roman Shukhevych and the Nachti­gall bat­t­laion, and also Simon Wiesnthal’s home town—by anti-Yanyukovich forces in Jan­u­ary 2014:

    Some of the president’s long­time oppo­nents here have tak­en an increas­ing­ly rad­i­cal line.

    Offer­ing inspi­ra­tion and advice has been Yuriy Shukhevych, a blind vet­er­an nation­al­ist who spent 31 years in Sovi­et pris­ons and labor camps and whose father, Roman, led the Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army against Pol­ish and then Sovi­et rule.

    Mr. Shukhevych, 80, who lost his sight dur­ing his time in the Sovi­et gulag, helped guide the for­ma­tion of Right Sec­tor, an unruly orga­ni­za­tion whose fight­ers now man bar­ri­cades around Inde­pen­dence Square, the epi­cen­ter of the protest move­ment in Kiev.

    Yuriy Shukhevych’s role in mod­ern Ukrain­ian fas­cism is not sim­ply that of an inspi­ra­tional fig­ure­head and reminder of his father’s anti-Sovi­et hero­ics for proud Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists. He is a core fig­ure in the emer­gence of the key Ukrain­ian fas­cist for­ma­tion, Pravy Sek­tor and its para­mil­i­tary.
    ...

    And now, in Lviv, June 30th is a cel­e­bra­tion of the birth­day of the guy who car­ried out a Pogrom against the cities Jews on that very day. On top of being ‘David Lane’ day or what­ev­er the neo-Nazis have declared June 30th to be.

    So if you hap­pen to be in Lviv on June 30th, try not to get too fes­tive. Unless you’re a neo-Nazi, in which case you clear­ly have plen­ty to cel­e­brate.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 28, 2017, 2:00 pm
  3. Here’s an update on how “Shukhevy­ch­fest”, the new June 30th fes­ti­val in the city of Lvov (Lviv) osten­si­bly intend­ed to cel­e­brate the birth­day of Roman Shukhevych — the com­man­der of the Nachti­gall Bat­tal­ion — but also over­laps with the June 30th, 1941 OUN‑B dec­la­ra­tion of an inde­pen­dent Ukrain­ian state in Lvov and the June 30th, 1941 start of the Lvov pogrom against the city’s Jew­ish car­ried car­ried out by Shukhevy­ch’s Nachti­gall Bat­tal­ion — went for the Lvov’s Jew­ish com­muntiy: Shukhevy­ch­fest went about as well as could be expect­ed, which is to say it did­n’t go well at all:

    The Times of Israel

    Fire­bomb hurled at Ukrain­ian syn­a­gogue
    Sep­a­rate­ly, uniden­ti­fied indi­vid­u­als scrawl anti-Semit­ic slo­gans on a Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty build­ing, also in Lviv

    By JTA July 4, 2017, 1:28 pm

    Uniden­ti­fied indi­vid­u­als hurled a fire­bomb at a syn­a­gogue in Lviv and, in a sep­a­rate inci­dent, wrote anti-Semit­ic slo­gans on anoth­er Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty build­ing in the west­ern Ukrain­ian city.

    The inci­dent involv­ing a fire­bomb occurred on June 30 but was dis­cov­ered only Mon­day, accord­ing to the Strana news site. The per­pe­tra­tors may have aimed the fire­bomb at a win­dow of the syn­a­gogue on Mikhovsky Street but missed it, hit­ting the build­ing facade, the direc­tor of the Chesed-Arieh Jew­ish group, Ada Diano­va, told Strana.

    The con­tents of the fire­bomb fell to the foot of the build­ing and burned there, result­ing in no dam­age to the inte­ri­or, she added. No one was hurt in the inci­dent.

    The anti-Semit­ic slo­gans paint­ed on a for­mer build­ing of the com­mu­ni­ty on Sholem Ale­ichem Street includ­ed the words” “Down with Jew­ish pow­er” and: “Jews, remem­ber July 1,” an appar­ent ref­er­ence to a pogrom that took place in Lviv on that date in 1941.

    In recent days, Jew­ish groups in Ukraine and abroad protest­ed the municipality’s spon­sor­ing of a cel­e­bra­tion of Roman Shukhevych, a col­lab­o­ra­tor with the Nazis whose troops per­pe­trat­ed the July 1 pogroms.

    ...

    Short­ly before the cel­e­bra­tion, titled Shukhevy­ch­fest and held on the nationalist’s 110th birth­day, city offi­cials in Lviv pub­lished online secu­ri­ty cam­era footage of van­dals paint­ing Nazi sym­bols on a Holo­caust memo­r­i­al in a bid to iden­ti­fy them.

    ———-

    “Fire­bomb hurled at Ukrain­ian syn­a­gogue” by JTA; The Times of Israel; 07/04/2017

    “Short­ly before the cel­e­bra­tion, titled Shukhevy­ch­fest and held on the nationalist’s 110th birth­day, city offi­cials in Lviv pub­lished online secu­ri­ty cam­era footage of van­dals paint­ing Nazi sym­bols on a Holo­caust memo­r­i­al in a bid to iden­ti­fy them.”

    Yes, in addi­tion to the June 30th fire­bomb­ing a syn­a­gogue, author­i­ties had to release footage of peo­ple van­dal­iz­ing a local Holo­caust memo­r­i­al days before a local fes­ti­val cel­e­brat­ed the local leader of the Holo­caust on the anniver­sary of the dec­la­ra­tion of an inde­pen­dent Ukrain­ian state by the group that waged that Holo­caust across the coun­try. Hope­ful­ly some­day the city of Lvov will be able to declare inde­pen­dence from a local iden­ti­ty that feels the need to engage in such cel­e­bra­tions.

    And since Shukhevy­ch­fest rep­re­sents a broad­er move­ment with­in Ukraine to impose a par­tic­u­lar far-right Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist iden­ti­ty across ALL of Ukraine, and not just Lvov, let’s hope all of Ukraine man­ages to declare inde­pen­dence from the same cul­tur­al straight­jack­et stran­gling Lvov:

    The Nation

    The Real Ukrain­ian Solu­tion Is Fed­er­al­ism

    Why is the mere dis­cus­sion of fed­er­al­ism often equat­ed with trea­son?

    By Nico­lai N. Petro
    June 30, 2017

    This week the city coun­cil of the west­ern Ukrain­ian city of Lviv, along with the Memo­r­i­al Muse­um of Total­i­tar­i­an Regimes and sev­er­al oth­er promi­nent orga­ni­za­tions, will spon­sor “Shukhevy­ch­Fest”—a cel­e­bra­tion of the 110th anniver­sary of the birth of Roman Shukhevych, the last com­man­der of the Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army (UPA in Ukrain­ian).

    By unfor­tu­nate coin­ci­dence this fes­ti­val begins on June 30, the very date in 1941 that the Nazi armed forces, with the assis­tance of Ukrain­ian manned “Nightin­gale” bat­tal­ion of Ger­man mil­i­tary intel­li­gence, car­ried out a pogrom that killed at least 4,000 Jews and oth­ers in the city of Lviv. It will end, also by coin­ci­dence, two days lat­er, on the date that the Ger­man mil­i­tary high com­mand ordered an end to the blood­bath.

    Judg­ing by its Face­book page, how­ev­er, the fes­ti­val will not be men­tion­ing any of this. Instead, it will focus on the less­er known aspects of Shukhevych’s life—his fam­i­ly, his suc­cess­es as a musi­cian, sports­man, and busi­ness­man.

    It is unfor­tu­nate that Shukhevych’s his­to­ry is being pre­sent­ed with­out seri­ous dis­cus­sion of his lead­er­ship of an aux­il­iary police bat­tal­ion (Schutz­mannschaft Bat­tal­ion 201) that was specif­i­cal­ly tasked by the Ger­mans with paci­fy­ing the rur­al pop­u­la­tion of mod­ern day Belarus and assist­ing in the exter­mi­na­tion of the local Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion. Not­ed Pol­ish-Ger­man his­to­ri­an Grze­gorz Rossolin­s­ki-Liebe writes that Shukhevych him­self “was ful­ly involved in the mass vio­lence car­ried out against the Pol­ish pop­u­la­tions in Vol­hy­nia, and ordered that the ‘eth­nic cleans­ing’ of Pol­ish civil­ians be extend­ed into in east­ern Gali­cia.” Such a white­wash­ing of his­to­ry is unlike­ly to lead to the “healthy patri­o­tism” that the orga­niz­ers say they are try­ing to pro­duce through “#Shukhevy­ch­Fest.”

    But per­haps even more impor­tant is what this macabre event tells us about the prospects for uni­fy­ing Ukrain­ian soci­ety.

    As any­one who has ever vis­it­ed Lviv can attest, events glo­ri­fy­ing those who col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Nazis are deemed per­fect­ly nor­mal there. They are even wide­ly com­mer­cial­ized. On the oth­er hand, as any­one who has ever spent any time in east­ern and south­ern Ukraine can tell you, glo­ri­fy­ing the same peo­ple there would be met with out­rage. Its orga­niz­ers would be unlike­ly to get off the stage unharmed.

    How does one stitch togeth­er a soci­ety with such dis­parate views of its his­to­ry, heroes and cul­ture?

    One tried and true solu­tion is fed­er­al­ism. The adop­tion of broad auton­o­my with­in a con­sti­tu­tion­al frame­work, which is the only thing that fed­er­al­ism actu­al­ly demands, has been applied suc­cess­ful­ly in dozens of coun­tries, some even more frac­tured than Ukraine. So why is the mere dis­cus­sion of fed­er­al­ism often equat­ed with trea­son in today’s Ukraine?

    One obvi­ous answer is that hard­core Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists have so lit­tle con­fi­dence in their abil­i­ty to win over the pop­u­la­tion that they see local cul­tur­al auton­o­my as a direct path to seces­sion. They assume that nation­al uni­ty can guar­an­teed only if a homo­ge­neous nation­al cul­ture is imposed. Luck­i­ly for them, such an eth­ni­cal­ly based Ukrain­ian nation­al iden­ti­ty has a sig­nif­i­cant base of sup­port in the west­ern­most region of Ukraine, and they see their task as export­ing this trun­cat­ed ver­sion of Ukrain­ian iden­ti­ty to the rest of Ukraine, and even beyond its bor­ders.

    But his­to­ry proves these pes­simists are wrong. In 2012, after years of ran­corous debate at the nation­al lev­el, the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment adopt­ed a lan­guage law that allowed regions where at least 10 per­cent speak a sec­ond lan­guage to adopt that lan­guage for offi­cial use. Almost overnight it was adopt­ed by 13 of 27 regions. Rather than lead­ing to sep­a­ratism, how­ev­er, it made eth­nic minori­ties final­ly feel wel­come in a more cul­tur­al­ly plu­ral­is­tic Ukraine.

    Con­trast this with the divi­sive impact that recent leg­is­la­tion on forced Ukraini­an­iza­tion has had. The renam­ing of streets and cities, often against the wish­es of the local pop­u­la­tion, the pro­posed con­straints on the pub­lic use of Russ­ian, quo­tas on Russ­ian lan­guage use in the media, and the rewrit­ing of the country’s his­to­ry have all raised anx­i­eties not only among the Russ­ian-speak­ing half of the pop­u­la­tion but now also among the Pol­ish, Roma­ni­ans and Hun­gar­i­an minori­ties in Ukraine.

    ...

    ———

    “The Real Ukrain­ian Solu­tion Is Fed­er­al­ism” by Nico­lai N. Petro; The Nation; 06/30/2017

    One obvi­ous answer is that hard­core Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists have so lit­tle con­fi­dence in their abil­i­ty to win over the pop­u­la­tion that they see local cul­tur­al auton­o­my as a direct path to seces­sion. They assume that nation­al uni­ty can guar­an­teed only if a homo­ge­neous nation­al cul­ture is imposed. Luck­i­ly for them, such an eth­ni­cal­ly based Ukrain­ian nation­al iden­ti­ty has a sig­nif­i­cant base of sup­port in the west­ern­most region of Ukraine, and they see their task as export­ing this trun­cat­ed ver­sion of Ukrain­ian iden­ti­ty to the rest of Ukraine, and even beyond its bor­ders

    Keep in mind that fed­er­al­iz­ing Ukraine is an extreme­ly com­pli­cat­ed endeav­or with a num­ber of poten­tial pit­falls. Resources need to be shared between wealth­i­er and poor­er regions and you’d still have to wor­ry about regions embrac­ing a far-right nation­al­ist iden­ti­ty even more ful­ly. Still, in terms of cul­tur­al fed­er­al, if the alter­na­tive is to have a hyper-nation­al­ist white-pow­er-inspired eth­no-nation­al­ism imposed on all of Ukraine, a fed­er­al­ist approach to cul­tur­al auton­o­my is clear­ly a prefer­able solu­tion. Espe­cial­ly when you con­sid­er that the dri­ve to cre­ate a homo­ge­neous eth­no-nation­al­ist anti-Russ­ian far-right iden­ti­ty across Ukraine is one of the pri­ma­ry fac­tors dri­ving the ongo­ing divi­sions and fuel­ing the civ­il war.

    Inde­pen­dence from far-right eth­no-nation­al­ism imposed on every­one. It’s the inde­pen­dence day cel­e­bra­tion Ukraine des­per­ate­ly needs.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 4, 2017, 1:16 pm
  4. As the US and Russ­ian ramp up their diplo­mat­ic tit-for-tat respons­es to the ongo­ing ten­sions that mag­i­cal­ly weren’t dif­fused by hav­ing Trump in the White House, here’s a look at one of areas of oppor­tu­ni­ty cre­at­ed by these ten­sions: It’s a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to sell the White House on the idea of arm­ing Ukraine:

    The Wall Street Jour­nal

    Pen­ta­gon Offers Plan to Arm Ukraine
    U.S. offi­cials say pro­pos­al, which needs White House approval, is meant to deter Moscow aggres­sion

    By Julian E. Barnes in Lon­don,
    Lau­rence Nor­man in Brus­sels and
    Feli­cia Schwartz in Wash­ing­ton
    July 31, 2017 1:05 p.m. ET

    The U.S. Pen­ta­gon and State Depart­ment have devised plans to sup­ply Ukraine with anti­tank mis­siles and oth­er weapon­ry and are seek­ing White House approval, U.S. offi­cials said, as Kiev bat­tles Rus­sia-backed sep­a­ratists and ties between Moscow and Wash­ing­ton fray.

    Amer­i­can mil­i­tary offi­cials and diplo­mats say the arms, which they char­ac­ter­ized as defen­sive, are meant to deter aggres­sive actions by Moscow, which the U.S. and oth­ers say has pro­vid­ed tanks and oth­er sophis­ti­cat­ed arma­ments as well as mil­i­tary advis­ers to rebels fight­ing the Kiev gov­ern­ment.

    Since Rus­sia invad­ed and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean penin­su­la in 2014 and then began sup­port­ing Russ­ian-speak­ing insur­gents in the country’s east, Wash­ing­ton, wary of esca­lat­ing the con­flict, has large­ly lim­it­ed its sup­port for Kiev’s mil­i­tary to so-called non-lethal aid and train­ing.

    A senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial said there has been no deci­sion on the arma­ments pro­pos­al and it wasn’t dis­cussed at a high-lev­el White House meet­ing on Rus­sia last week. The offi­cial said Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump hasn’t been briefed on the plan and his posi­tion isn’t known.

    Some U.S. and Ukrain­ian offi­cials said they expect it could be months before the White House makes a final deter­mi­na­tion.

    Any deci­sion to pro­vide arms to Ukraine would come against a back­drop of severe­ly dete­ri­o­rat­ing rela­tions between Wash­ing­ton and Moscow. Rus­sia said it would expel hun­dreds of Amer­i­can diplo­mats after the U.S. Con­gress last week approved new eco­nom­ic sanc­tions on Rus­sia.

    A Pen­ta­gon spokes­woman, Lt. Col. Michelle L. Bal­dan­za, said the U.S. has not “ruled out the option” of pro­vid­ing “lethal defen­sive weapons to Ukraine.” U.S. Defense Sec­re­tary James Mat­tis has endorsed the plan, accord­ing to U.S. offi­cials.

    A State Depart­ment spokesman didn’t imme­di­ate­ly respond to a request for com­ment.

    When the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion con­sid­ered sup­ply­ing arms to Ukraine, it faced con­sid­er­able oppo­si­tion from Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel and oth­er allied lead­ers and instead pro­vid­ed Kiev with short-range radar, night-vision gog­gles and oth­er equip­ment.

    Ger­many and France remain deeply skep­ti­cal about pro­vid­ing arms to Ukraine, fear­ing that such moves would raise ten­sions and deep­en the con­flict there. But U.S. offi­cials said they expect allies, pos­si­bly includ­ing the U.K., Cana­da, Poland and Lithua­nia to be open to increased mil­i­tary sup­port.

    “It is real­ly impor­tant we don’t inflame the sit­u­a­tion,” said British Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advis­er Mark Sed­well. “There has been quite a lot of agi­ta­tion from across the bor­der in the east.”

    Rough­ly 10,000 peo­ple have died in the Ukraine con­flict since 2014, accord­ing to the Unit­ed Nations. Russ­ian sup­port for the rebels was thrown into sharp relief when a Malaysian pas­sen­ger jet was shot down in July 2014 by a Russ­ian-made sur­face-to-air mis­sile, accord­ing to inter­na­tion­al inves­ti­ga­tors.

    U.S. offi­cials say they wor­ry that the con­flict has inten­si­fied, with a ris­ing num­ber of cease-fire vio­la­tions as progress on peace efforts has fal­tered.

    “The lev­el of vio­lence is up a bit of late,” said Gen. Cur­tis Scaparrot­ti, the top U.S. and NATO mil­i­tary com­man­der. “The Rus­sians pro­vide equip­ment, some of their most mod­ern equip­ment, and they pro­vide proxy forces with advis­ers.”

    Russ­ian offi­cials have long denied sup­port­ing sep­a­ratists and crit­i­cized West­ern efforts to train the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary. Russ­ian offi­cials have said in recent days that any U.S. move to send weapons to Ukraine would fur­ther impair peace efforts.

    Under the Pen­ta­gon and State Depart­ment pro­pos­al, the U.S. would pro­vide anti-tank weapons, most like­ly Javelin mis­siles, as well as pos­si­bly anti-air­craft weapons, in addi­tion to oth­er arms. Ukraine has long sought Javelins to counter Russ­ian-made armored vehi­cles in rebel-held areas.

    U.S. offi­cials, how­ev­er, said the plan would be to deploy the anti-tank mis­siles with Ukrain­ian troops sta­tioned away from the front lines of the con­flict —part of an effort by pol­i­cy mak­ers to lim­it the risks of esca­la­tion and defuse crit­i­cism that the moves could encour­age offen­sive action by Kiev.

    Javelin mis­siles and launch­ers are light­weight and usu­al­ly car­ried by two-man teams, so they are high­ly mobile.

    Should Ukraine use the weapons improp­er­ly, Wash­ing­ton could decide to with­draw its sup­port or tech­ni­cal assis­tance.

    Kurt Volk­er, named U.S. spe­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Ukraine in July, met Euro­pean offi­cials last week and said a deci­sion to pro­vide “defen­sive weapons” was like­ly but not immi­nent, accord­ing to peo­ple involved in the dis­cus­sions.

    Offi­cials said Mr. Volk­er believes there is a nar­row win­dow for progress in Ukraine over the next months before Russia’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tions, due in March 2018, but that a change in the sit­u­a­tion can only be brought by rais­ing the costs for Moscow of con­tin­ued inter­ven­tion in Ukraine.

    In pub­lic com­ments, Mr. Volk­er has played down the notion that sup­ply­ing weapons to Ukraine would esca­late the con­flict with Rus­sia.

    A senior Ukrain­ian offi­cial said Mon­day that the fact of the Pentagon’s pro­pos­al could help per­suade Rus­sia to scale back actions in Ukraine’s east. The offi­cial also said it was wide­ly accept­ed in Kiev that any advanced weapons from the U.S. would be used only in an “emer­gency” and not dur­ing reg­u­lar com­bat with sep­a­ratist forces.

    U.S. and Euro­pean offi­cials are divid­ed on how Moscow would respond to new arms ship­ments. Some believe it would push Moscow back to the bar­gain­ing table and oth­ers think it would prompt the Russ­ian mil­i­tary to esca­late the sit­u­a­tion fur­ther.

    But with vio­lence ris­ing in Ukraine and sep­a­ratists mak­ing moves such as declar­ing their own gov­ern­ment for the coun­try, some West­ern offi­cials think there is lit­tle to lose by try­ing to increase pres­sure.

    ...

    But broad­er coop­er­a­tion has become deeply com­pli­cat­ed by Con­gres­sion­al inves­ti­ga­tions into Moscow’s inter­fer­ence in the U.S.’s 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and alleged Russ­ian con­tacts with the Trump cam­paign.

    ———-

    “Pen­ta­gon Offers Plan to Arm Ukraine” by Julian E. Barnes in Lon­don, Lau­rence Nor­man in Brus­sels and Feli­cia Schwartz; The Wall Street Jour­nal; 07/31/2017

    Any deci­sion to pro­vide arms to Ukraine would come against a back­drop of severe­ly dete­ri­o­rat­ing rela­tions between Wash­ing­ton and Moscow. Rus­sia said it would expel hun­dreds of Amer­i­can diplo­mats after the U.S. Con­gress last week approved new eco­nom­ic sanc­tions on Rus­sia.”

    Yep, the worse rela­tions get between the US and Russ­ian gov­ern­ments, the bet­ter rela­tions get between the US gov­ern­ment and any­one who has an agen­da that involves ramp­ing up ten­sions with Rus­sia like an agen­da to arm Ukraine with lethal mil­i­tary hard­ware. And while Trump him­self appears to be unaware if this Pen­ta­gon pro­pos­al, Defense Sec­re­tary James Mat­tis has already endorsed the plan:

    ...
    A senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial said there has been no deci­sion on the arma­ments pro­pos­al and it wasn’t dis­cussed at a high-lev­el White House meet­ing on Rus­sia last week. The offi­cial said Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump hasn’t been briefed on the plan and his posi­tion isn’t known.

    Some U.S. and Ukrain­ian offi­cials said they expect it could be months before the White House makes a final deter­mi­na­tion.

    ...

    A Pen­ta­gon spokes­woman, Lt. Col. Michelle L. Bal­dan­za, said the U.S. has not “ruled out the option” of pro­vid­ing “lethal defen­sive weapons to Ukraine.” U.S. Defense Sec­re­tary James Mat­tis has endorsed the plan, accord­ing to U.S. offi­cials.
    ...

    And, as part of the sales pitch for the plan, we’re told that the lethal mil­i­tary hard­ware def­i­nite­ly isn’t going to be used on the front lines and won’t be used for any offen­sive action by Kiev, and if they’re abused by Ukraine’s forces the Pen­tagon’s sup­port might be removed. That appears to be the Pen­tagon’s plan and accord­ing to U.S. spe­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Ukraine some sort of “defen­sive weapons” plan is expect­ed to be approved at some point:

    ...
    U.S. offi­cials, how­ev­er, said the plan would be to deploy the anti-tank mis­siles with Ukrain­ian troops sta­tioned away from the front lines of the con­flict —part of an effort by pol­i­cy mak­ers to lim­it the risks of esca­la­tion and defuse crit­i­cism that the moves could encour­age offen­sive action by Kiev.

    Javelin mis­siles and launch­ers are light­weight and usu­al­ly car­ried by two-man teams, so they are high­ly mobile.

    Should Ukraine use the weapons improp­er­ly, Wash­ing­ton could decide to with­draw its sup­port or tech­ni­cal assis­tance.

    Kurt Volk­er, named U.S. spe­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Ukraine in July, met Euro­pean offi­cials last week and said a deci­sion to pro­vide “defen­sive weapons” was like­ly but not immi­nent, accord­ing to peo­ple involved in the dis­cus­sions.

    Offi­cials said Mr. Volk­er believes there is a nar­row win­dow for progress in Ukraine over the next months before Russia’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tions, due in March 2018, but that a change in the sit­u­a­tion can only be brought by rais­ing the costs for Moscow of con­tin­ued inter­ven­tion in Ukraine.

    In pub­lic com­ments, Mr. Volk­er has played down the notion that sup­ply­ing weapons to Ukraine would esca­late the con­flict with Rus­sia.
    ...

    And the plan does­n’t just include weapons like anti-tank Javelin mis­siles, but also, per­haps, anti-air­craft weapons:

    ...
    Under the Pen­ta­gon and State Depart­ment pro­pos­al, the U.S. would pro­vide anti-tank weapons, most like­ly Javelin mis­siles, as well as pos­si­bly anti-air­craft weapons, in addi­tion to oth­er arms. Ukraine has long sought Javelins to counter Russ­ian-made armored vehi­cles in rebel-held areas.
    ...

    So, you know, let’s hope none of those defen­sive anti-air­craft weapons and up get­ting mis­used as a result of this plan. A plan that Pres­i­dent Trump report­ed­ly isn’t aware of yet. But he pre­sum­ably will be soon, right when ten­sions with Rus­sia are real­ly ramp­ing up and Trump is look­ing for a tough-look­ing response.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 31, 2017, 1:21 pm
  5. Here’s an update from last week on the Pen­tagon’s pro­pos­al to arm Ukraine with an array of “defen­sive” weapons, includ­ing anti-tank Javelin mis­siles: The pro­pos­al is at the White House and accord­ing to one observ­er they “see the fin­ger­prints of Sec­re­tary of Defense Mat­tis all over it.” Trump’s posi­tion on the plan is still unclear. Also unclear is whether or not it will be clear at all that the plan was approved even if that hap­pens. Why? Because it’s yet to be deter­mined if the plan would involve the US direct­ly sup­ply­ing the hard­ware and peo­ple to train Ukraine’s forces or if this will be done through “an inter­me­di­ary”. So it’s sound like this proxy-con­flict with Rus­sia might get anoth­er proxy:

    NBC News

    Pen­ta­gon Asks White House to Give Lethal Weapons to Ukraine

    by Court­ney Kube, Robert Win­drem and Abi­gail Williams
    Aug 4 2017, 11:05 am ET

    WASHINGTON — A rec­om­men­da­tion to send high-tech tank-killing weapons to Ukraine to help in its fight against Rus­sia is now at the White House, accord­ing to three U.S. offi­cials.

    The offi­cials said a pro­posed aid pack­age includes Javelin anti-tank mis­siles with an esti­mat­ed cost of about $50 mil­lion.

    “It is the right move and I see the fin­ger­prints of Sec­re­tary of Defense Mat­tis all over it,” said Ret. Adm. James Stavridis, for­mer com­man­der of NATO and an NBC News ana­lyst.

    “This is a very log­i­cal and sen­si­ble move which will increase deter­rence — because it will place doubt in the minds of Russ­ian aggres­sors in terms of their use of offen­sive weapons sys­tems.”

    Rus­sia invad­ed and annexed the Crimea in 2014 and con­tin­ues to sup­port pro-Russ­ian rebels in east­ern Ukraine. The pro­pos­al for pro­vid­ing weapons to Ukraine comes amid ten­sion between the White House and Con­gress over how to respond to Russ­ian inter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion, and an inves­ti­ga­tion by Spe­cial Coun­sel Robert Mueller into pos­si­ble col­lu­sion between the Trump cam­paign and Rus­sia. Pres­i­dent Trump signed a bill impos­ing sanc­tions on Rus­sia for its cyber­hack­ing and its actions in Ukraine but com­plained that it harmed rela­tions.

    While the three offi­cials said no final deci­sion has been made on pro­vid­ing the weapons, they agreed that the Pen­ta­gon is in favor of the move.

    A Pen­ta­gon spokesper­son would not con­firm the details of the pack­age, say­ing only, “we haven’t ruled any­thing out.”

    ...

    Still unde­cid­ed, said the three offi­cials, is whether the U.S. would pro­vide the Javelins through an inter­me­di­ary and whether U.S. ser­vice mem­bers would train the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary on how to oper­ate them.

    The most com­mon Russ­ian tank is the T‑90, accord­ing to Loren Thomp­son, chief oper­at­ing offi­cer of the Lex­ing­ton Insti­tute, a con­ser­v­a­tive think tank. The Javelin attacks tanks from above, one of the most vul­ner­a­ble spots of the tank, he explained, adding that oth­er shoul­der-fired weapons like an RPG could not take out a Russ­ian tank.

    Thomp­son warned that pro­vid­ing lethal weapons to Ukraine — a coun­try “on Rus­si­a’s doorstep” — is not with­out per­il for the U.S. “What would we think if the Rus­sians were arm­ing Mex­i­co?” he asked. “This could poten­tial­ly spark a wider war.”

    For­mer Act­ing CIA Direc­tor John McLaugh­lin, an NBC News ana­lyst, said that the Rus­sians had “earned” the U.S. aid to Ukraine, “but will see it as an esca­la­tion even though it pos­es no imme­di­ate dan­ger to their forces giv­en the dis­po­si­tion of the two sides and the nature of the cur­rent skir­mish­ing.”

    “The U.S. should por­tray this as an enhance­ment of Ukrain­ian defen­sive capa­bil­i­ties, and part of the deal with Kiev should be that they not use the Javelins to pro­voke fight­ing but instead hold onto them for a con­tin­gency in which Rus­sia actu­al­ly uses armor to extend its inva­sion — which it has not been doing late­ly.”

    ———-

    “Pen­ta­gon Asks White House to Give Lethal Weapons to Ukraine” by Court­ney Kube, Robert Win­drem and Abi­gail Williams; NBC News; 08/04/2017

    “Still unde­cid­ed, said the three offi­cials, is whether the U.S. would pro­vide the Javelins through an inter­me­di­ary and whether U.S. ser­vice mem­bers would train the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary on how to oper­ate them.”

    So get ready for reports about a coun­try that’s not the US sud­den­ly sup­ply­ing Ukraine with a bunch of Javelin mis­siles and who knows what else. Proxy, or not, things appear to be heat­ing up in this con­flict, which is prob­a­bly why so many are warn­ing about ensur­ing that these weapons stay far away from the front lines in East­ern Ukraine:

    ...
    The most com­mon Russ­ian tank is the T‑90, accord­ing to Loren Thomp­son, chief oper­at­ing offi­cer of the Lex­ing­ton Insti­tute, a con­ser­v­a­tive think tank. The Javelin attacks tanks from above, one of the most vul­ner­a­ble spots of the tank, he explained, adding that oth­er shoul­der-fired weapons like an RPG could not take out a Russ­ian tank.

    Thomp­son warned that pro­vid­ing lethal weapons to Ukraine — a coun­try “on Rus­si­a’s doorstep” — is not with­out per­il for the U.S. “What would we think if the Rus­sians were arm­ing Mex­i­co?” he asked. “This could poten­tial­ly spark a wider war.”

    For­mer Act­ing CIA Direc­tor John McLaugh­lin, an NBC News ana­lyst, said that the Rus­sians had “earned” the U.S. aid to Ukraine, “but will see it as an esca­la­tion even though it pos­es no imme­di­ate dan­ger to their forces giv­en the dis­po­si­tion of the two sides and the nature of the cur­rent skir­mish­ing.”

    “The U.S. should por­tray this as an enhance­ment of Ukrain­ian defen­sive capa­bil­i­ties, and part of the deal with Kiev should be that they not use the Javelins to pro­voke fight­ing but instead hold onto them for a con­tin­gency in which Rus­sia actu­al­ly uses armor to extend its inva­sion — which it has not been doing late­ly.”
    ...

    “The U.S. should por­tray this as an enhance­ment of Ukrain­ian defen­sive capa­bil­i­ties, and part of the deal with Kiev should be that they not use the Javelins to pro­voke fight­ing but instead hold onto them for a con­tin­gency in which Rus­sia actu­al­ly uses armor to extend its inva­sion — which it has not been doing late­ly.”

    That’s seems like a pret­ty good rec­om­men­da­tion if the Trump admin­is­tra­tion wants to avoid a Ukrain­ian arms race with Rus­sia: Javelin mis­sile — and who knows what else — exclu­sive­ly for the defense of Kyiv and the rest of Ukraine and NOT for use on the front-lines. And as we saw in the ear­li­er reports on this plan, keep­ing the weapons away from the front lines is indeed the what US plan­ners have in mind.

    But as Andriy Paru­biy, the found of the neo-Nazi par­ty that even­tu­al­ly become Svo­bo­da and cur­rent­ly the speak­er of the Ukrain­ian Par­lia­ment, indi­cat­ed back in June when he addressed par­lia­ment dur­ing press con­fer­ence, those plans to keep weapons like Javelin mis­siles away from the front lines aren’t the plans Paru­biy has in mind:

    Kyiv Post

    NBC: Pen­ta­gon asks the White House to pro­vide lethal weapons to Ukraine

    By Veroni­ka Melkoze­ro­va.
    Pub­lished Aug. 5. Updat­ed Aug. 5 at 5:02 pm

    The Pen­ta­gon has sent a rec­om­men­da­tion to pro­vide Ukraine with high-tech, anti-tank weapons to the White House, the NBC News report­ed on Aug.4, refer­ring to its own sources among the U.S offi­cials.

    The pro­posed aid includes Javelin mis­siles with an esti­mat­ed cost of around $50 mil­lion.

    While a Pen­ta­gon spokesper­son didn’t con­firm the infor­ma­tion to NBC, the Amer­i­can TV station’s sources said that indeed no deci­sion has been made yet but Pen­ta­gon is in favor of the move.

    “It is the right move and I see the fin­ger­prints of Sec­re­tary of Defense (James) Mat­tis all over it,” Retired Admi­ral James Stavridis, a for­mer com­man­der of NATO and NBC News ana­lyst said.

    Mat­tis expressed full sup­port for Ukraine and sup­port­ed the preser­va­tion of sanc­tions against Rus­sia as an aggres­sor coun­try dur­ing a meet­ing with Ukraine’s Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko in June in Wash­ing­ton.

    The Pres­i­den­tial Admin­is­tra­tion press ser­vice has report­ed that Poroshenko and Mat­tis dis­cussed the rein­force­ment of defense poten­tial of Ukraine and the fur­ther devel­op­ment of strate­gic part­ner­ship with the U.S in the defense sec­tor.

    “Ukraine needs the lethal weapons from U.S. to bring peace to our east­ern bor­ders,” Andriy Paru­biy, the speak­er of Ukrain­ian Par­lia­ment told dur­ing the press con­fer­ence on June 27.

    “Russ­ian army tank forces played a key part in Ukraine’s defeat in the fight for Debalt­seve (a town in Donet­sk Oblast) in 2015,” Paru­biy said. “The anti-tank Javelin mis­siles would help the Ukrain­ian army to stop the Russ­ian forces attack.”

    Paru­biy said that Ukrain­ian army has already got many non-lethal weapons from the U.S: radars, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion devices, armored cars and much more.

    But Ukraine still needs the U.S lethal weapons due to the Russ­ian-backed separatist’s con­stant Min­sk Agree­ment vio­la­tions and attacks with the heavy weapons involve­ment.

    ...

    A surge in fight­ing in sev­er­al hotspots in Ukraine’s Don­bas over the last three weeks – from Krymske vil­lage in Luhan­sk Oblast to Avdiyiv­ka and Kran­so­horiv­ka cities in Donet­sk Oblast – cost Ukrain­ian army at least 17 sol­diers killed and 96 wound­ed, accord­ing to a Kyiv Post count based on infor­ma­tion from the mil­i­tary, vol­un­teers and local media reports.

    “This is a tech­ni­cal­ly decid­ed ques­tion. We have the total sup­port of the both par­ties of the U.S Par­lia­ment, the Speak­er of the Unit­ed States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Paul Ryan con­firmed that to me dur­ing our con­ver­sa­tion,” Paru­biy said.

    More­over, Paru­biy claimed, there is even the list of weapons that the U.S could pro­vide to Ukraine. “This depends on U.S polit­i­cal will. The U.S didn’t refuse to give us the lethal weapons as it was a year ago. So I hope, this ques­tion would be solved until the end of 2017,” Paru­biy said.

    ———-

    “NBC: Pen­ta­gon asks the White House to pro­vide lethal weapons to Ukraine” by Veroni­ka Melkoze­ro­va; Kyiv Post; 08/05/2017

    ““Ukraine needs the lethal weapons from U.S. to bring peace to our east­ern bor­ders,” Andriy Paru­biy, the speak­er of Ukrain­ian Par­lia­ment told dur­ing the press con­fer­ence on June 27.”

    Lethal weapons from the US to “bring peace to our east­ern bor­ders”. That sure sounds like a plan to “bring peace” by using those lethal weapons against the rebels. Espe­cial­ly when Paru­biy says those weapons are need­ed to the “the Russ­ian-backed separatist’s con­stant Min­sk Agree­ment vio­la­tions and attacks with the heavy weapons involve­ment”. Because it’s not like those Min­sk Agree­ment vio­la­tions are hap­pen­ing in Kyiv. They’re hap­pen­ing on the front lines. So when Paru­biy talks about the need to use those weapons “due to the Russ­ian-backed separatist’s con­stant Min­sk Agree­ment vio­la­tions,” he’s talk­ing about using them on the front lines:

    ...
    “Russ­ian army tank forces played a key part in Ukraine’s defeat in the fight for Debalt­seve (a town in Donet­sk Oblast) in 2015,” Paru­biy said. The anti-tank Javelin mis­siles would help the Ukrain­ian army to stop the Russ­ian forces attack.”

    Paru­biy said that Ukrain­ian army has already got many non-lethal weapons from the U.S: radars, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion devices, armored cars and much more.

    But Ukraine still needs the U.S lethal weapons due to the Russ­ian-backed separatist’s con­stant Min­sk Agree­ment vio­la­tions and attacks with the heavy weapons involve­ment.
    ...

    “But Ukraine still needs the U.S lethal weapons due to the Russ­ian-backed separatist’s con­stant Min­sk Agree­ment vio­la­tions and attacks with the heavy weapons involve­ment”

    That’s the update on the sta­tus of the loom­ing Ukrain­ian arms race: the US is plan­ning send­ing weapons to Ukraine, pos­si­bly through a proxy, for the expressed pur­pose of NOT using them on the front lines. And the peo­ple receiv­ing those weapons have already said how they need them for use on the front lines. This should turn out well.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 10, 2017, 1:34 pm
  6. One of the more inter­est aspects of the grow­ing pic­ture emerg­ing of the Ukrain­ian fig­ures asso­ci­at­ed with the Trump Orga­ni­za­tion’s attor­ney Michael Cohen and Andreii Arte­menko — the Ukrain­ian MP who con­coct­ed the ‘peace plan’ pro­pos­al with Cohen and Felix Sater that includ­ed top­pling Petro Poroshenko on cor­rup­tion charges and replac­ing him with Arte­menko — is how Ukrain­ian oli­garch Vik­tor Topolov appears to be both a close asso­ciate with Andreii Arte­menko and the Pres­i­dent of Ukraine. Topolov was the busi­ness part­ner of Alex Oronov, anoth­er Ukrain­ian oli­garch, in an ethanol plant that Michael Cohen helped raise funds for at one point, and Oronov was report­ed­ly the mid­dle-man that put Cohen in touch with Arte­menko.

    First not that it’s not quite clear from reports which Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent Topolov is close to: for­mer pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yushchenko, who made Topolov the coal min­is­ter in 2005, or cur­rent pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko. But either way, Poroshenko and Yushchenko are close allies. Yushchenko is godgath­er to Poroshenko’s chil­dren. So when Andreii Arte­menko plot­ted to oust Poroshenko he was plot­ting to oust some­one that, on some lev­el, you might expect him to not be par­tic­u­lar­ly opposed to just based on per­son­al con­tact.

    At the same time, we can’t for­get about Arte­menko’s close ties to Right Sector/Pravy Sek­tor and the Rad­i­cal Par­ty, two far-right par­ties that would be hap­py to see Poroshenko get replaced with a far-right fig­ure. Arte­menko appears to have a rather con­flict­ed per­son­al his­to­ry when it comes to his rela­tion­ship with Pres­i­dent Poroshenko, which also rais­es the ques­tion of what role Vik­tor Topolov might have played in the ‘dump-Poroshenko peace plan’.

    So with all that in mind, note the oth­er for­mer close Poroshenko ally who is now talk­ing about march­ing on Kiev to oust Poroshenko: with the back­ing of Yulia Tymoshenko and Lviv’s may­or Andriy Sadovyi, Mikhail Saakashvili wants to return to Ukraine to oust Poroshenko:

    Deutsche Welle

    Mikhail Saakashvili plans march on Kyiv

    Chris­t­ian Trippe
    Sep­tem­ber 10, 2017

    Ukrain­ian pub­lic ene­my no. 1 wants to stir up the coun­try’s polit­i­cal sys­tem: Mikhail Saakashvili, for­mer Geor­gian pres­i­dent and ex-gov­er­nor of Odessa, plans a spec­tac­u­lar return to Kyiv — at all costs.

    If polit­i­cal ner­vous­ness could be mea­sured objec­tive­ly, the appro­pri­ate anx­i­ety meters would show strong reac­tions in Kyiv these days. Based in the Pol­ish cap­i­tal, War­saw, Mikhail Saakashvili is prepar­ing his return to Ukraine. Saakashvili, the man with­out pass­port, polit­i­cal arch­en­e­my of Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko, intends to cross the bor­der at Krakovets check­point, come noon on Sun­day, Sep­tem­ber 10. “I’ll go through to the end, until vic­to­ry. But it won’t be my own vic­to­ry, but that of the peo­ple over oli­garchy,” Saakashvili said bel­liger­ent­ly dur­ing a tele­vised inter­view, simul­ta­ne­ous­ly des­ig­nat­ing the polit­i­cal objec­tives for his return.

    The Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment, how­ev­er, wants to pre­vent Saakashvili from re-enter­ing Ukrain­ian ter­ri­to­ry at all costs. The bor­der cross­ing, locat­ed approx­i­mate­ly an hour’s dri­ve from Lviv, has been bol­stered with addi­tion­al guard per­son­nel by the bor­der ser­vice. Accord­ing to Oleh Slo­bodyan, a spokesman for the Ukrain­ian bor­der guards, even “reserves” were mobi­lized — evi­dent­ly in order to secure the green bor­der as well. Local media report that brand-new barbed wire has been rolled out in order to seal off back roads in the bor­der area. It’s as if Ukraine was expect­ing an inva­sion, this time from the west; as if the chal­lenge was to fend off an ene­my of the state.

    Polit­i­cal career with come­downs

    Saakashvili is known as a col­or­ful polit­i­cal fig­ure. He may well be the only state­less for­mer head of state who has had each of his two cit­i­zen­ships revoked. His career has seen both dizzy­ing heights and sud­den down­falls. In 2003, he became pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of Geor­gia at the age of 36. Saakashvili reformed the coun­try in the south­ern Cau­ca­sus at break­neck speed, turn­ing the suc­ces­sor state to the Sovi­et Union into what could be called a neo-lib­er­al mod­el coun­try. Yet as he pur­sued his agen­da, his gov­er­nance became increas­ing­ly author­i­tar­i­an. In 2008, he got him­self entan­gled in a war with Rus­sia, as a result of which two sep­a­ratist Geor­gian regions, Abk­hazia and south Osse­tia, were occu­pied by Russ­ian troops.

    First­ly, Saakashvili was removed from pow­er in Tbil­isi in 2013. Two years lat­er, he was even stripped of his home coun­try’s cit­i­zen­ship. In May 2015, Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko appoint­ed him gov­er­nor of the south­ern Ukrain­ian port city Odessa, which had gained noto­ri­ety for being a hub of cor­rup­tion and crime. Saakashvil­i’s Ukrain­ian state­hood was fast-tracked. His assign­ment was to clean up Odessa, and he failed. At the begin­ning of 2017 he turned up in Kyiv, found­ed a small lib­er­al par­ty (“Move­ment of New Forces”) and was very out­spo­ken about his far-reach­ing polit­i­cal ambi­tions.

    Strip­ping of cit­i­zen­ship far-fetched

    At the end of July – at that time Saakashvili was vis­it­ing the US, the coun­try in which he had stud­ied law – the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment revoked his cit­i­zen­ship in a sur­prise move. Even his oppo­nents believe that the gov­ern­men­t’s jus­ti­fi­ca­tion is rather spu­ri­ous: When he received Ukrain­ian state­hood, Saakashvili had alleged­ly con­cealed the fact that he was under inves­ti­ga­tion by Geor­gian author­i­ties. This, how­ev­er, had been cov­ered by all the news­pa­pers at the time.

    ...

    The ambi­tious Saakashvili, who many say has the demeanor of an ego­ma­ni­ac, appar­ent­ly can count on more sup­port­ers in Ukrain­ian pol­i­tics than had been expect­ed. Yulia Tymoshenko, like­wise well-known as a politi­cian with a check­ered past – a for­mer PM, then a promi­nent polit­i­cal pris­on­er, now busy as a pop­ulist oppo­si­tion politi­cian – cit­ed “filthy pol­i­tics” affect­ing Saakashvili. His expa­tri­a­tion, ini­ti­at­ed by pres­i­dent Poroshenko, “dis­cred­its Ukraine in the eyes of the whole world.” But for Tymoshenko, accus­ing words are not enough.

    Show­down in the bor­der area

    She is deter­mined to trav­el to Krakovets on Sun­day, accom­pa­nied by a group of some 30 mem­bers of the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment (Rada), in order to wel­come Saakashvili there. The ex-gov­er­nor draws sup­port­ers from var­i­ous polit­i­cal par­ties. The pop­u­lar may­or of Lviv and chair­man of the par­ty Samopomich (Self-Reliance), Andriy Sadovyi, has also pledged sup­port for Saakashvili. On the oth­er hand, there have been reac­tions of fierce rejec­tion: right-wing pop­ulist Oleh Lyashko open­ly calls for vio­lence against Saakashvili if he dares to cross the “holy” Ukrain­ian bor­der.

    Observers in Kyiv now ask them­selves whether Saakashvili will even be able to enter the coun­try. Or will he be turned away? If he suc­ceeds to enter Ukraine, will he be arrest­ed and extra­dit­ed to Geor­gia, where the ex-pres­i­dent is want­ed by the courts over alleged abuse of pow­er? Kyiv has already received an extra­di­tion request from Tbil­isi, which the min­istry of jus­tice has under review. Or will Saakashvili, aid­ed by his sup­port­ers, be able to avoid deten­tion? “Peo­ple want to help me, because I want to help them. I put a lot of hope into Ukraini­ans. Togeth­er, we will defeat the mafia,” Saakashvili says, pri­or to the show­down at the Pol­ish-Ukrain­ian bor­der cross­ing.

    ———-

    “Mikhail Saakashvili plans march on Kyiv” by Chris­t­ian Trippe; Deutsche Welle; 09/10/2017

    “The ambi­tious Saakashvili, who many say has the demeanor of an ego­ma­ni­ac, appar­ent­ly can count on more sup­port­ers in Ukrain­ian pol­i­tics than had been expect­ed. Yulia Tymoshenko, like­wise well-known as a politi­cian with a check­ered past – a for­mer PM, then a promi­nent polit­i­cal pris­on­er, now busy as a pop­ulist oppo­si­tion politi­cian – cit­ed “filthy pol­i­tics” affect­ing Saakashvili. His expa­tri­a­tion, ini­ti­at­ed by pres­i­dent Poroshenko, “dis­cred­its Ukraine in the eyes of the whole world.” But for Tymoshenko, accus­ing words are not enough.”

    Mikhail Saakashvili wants to return to Ukraine to lead an anti-Poroshenko, and he appears to have a sur­pris­ing num­ber allies. Includ­ing the may­or of Lviv:

    ...
    She is deter­mined to trav­el to Krakovets on Sun­day, accom­pa­nied by a group of some 30 mem­bers of the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment (Rada), in order to wel­come Saakashvili there. The ex-gov­er­nor draws sup­port­ers from var­i­ous polit­i­cal par­ties. The pop­u­lar may­or of Lviv and chair­man of the par­ty Samopomich (Self-Reliance), Andriy Sadovyi, has also pledged sup­port for Saakashvili. On the oth­er hand, there have been reac­tions of fierce rejec­tion: right-wing pop­ulist Oleh Lyashko open­ly calls for vio­lence against Saakashvili if he dares to cross the “holy” Ukrain­ian bor­der.
    ...

    So will Saakashvili suc­ceed in at least the first phase of his plans? Get­ting back into Ukraine? Yep, he suc­ceed­ed. With the help of thou­sands of sup­port­ed who lit­er­al­ly broke through a block­ade at the Pol­ish bor­der:

    Deutsche Welle

    Mikhail Saakashvil­i’s return may spell trou­ble for Ukraine’s Poroshenko

    Roman Gon­charenko, Olek­san­dr Hol­ubov
    Sep­tem­ber 11, 2017

    The expa­tri­at­ed oppo­si­tion poli­ti­tian’s return to Ukraine has placed the frag­ile polit­i­cal sta­bil­i­ty under severe pres­sure. His con­flict with Pres­i­dent Poroshenko is esca­lat­ing.

    It was a bor­der trans­gres­sion, quite lit­er­al­ly. Although his Ukrain­ian cit­i­zen­ship was revoked, the promi­nent oppo­si­tion politi­cian and for­mer Geor­gian pres­i­dent, Mikhail Saakashvili, crossed the Pol­ish bor­der at She­hyni on Sun­day and returned to Ukraine.

    The cir­cum­stances were aston­ish­ing, even for a coun­try like Ukraine, whose recent his­to­ry is rich in scur­rilous polit­i­cal inci­dents. Ini­tial­ly, the 49-year-old for­mer gov­er­nor of Odessa oblast attempt­ed to enter the coun­try by train, accom­pa­nied by a crowd of jour­nal­ists. The Ukrain­ian train was stopped in Poland and the politi­cian was request­ed to dis­em­bark. Saakashvili then trav­eled by bus to anoth­er bor­der cross­ing, where his well-mus­cled sup­port­ers lit­er­al­ly car­ried him over the bor­der him over the bor­der. The Ukrain­ian bor­der guards appeared to be help­less.

    When friends become ene­mies

    This inci­dent is a pro­vi­sion­al peak in the con­flict between Saakashvili and Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko. It shows how, as is so often the case in Ukrain­ian pol­i­tics, friends can become ene­mies.

    Poroshenko and Saakashvili know each oth­er from their uni­ver­si­ty years in Kyiv. Dur­ing the 2004 “Orange Rev­o­lu­tion” Saakashvili, as pres­i­dent of Geor­gia, sup­port­ed the pro-West­ern Ukrain­ian elec­tion win­ner, Vic­tor Yushchenko, who was a close asso­ciate of Poroshenko. Lat­er, Saakashvil­i’s suc­cess­ful reforms made his coun­try into a role mod­el for many Ukraini­ans.

    After the change of pow­er in Kyiv in 2014, Ukraine attempt­ed an exper­i­ment and called on a num­ber of politi­cians from Geor­gia to form the gov­ern­ment. In 2015, Poroshenko named Saakashvili gov­er­nor of the Black Sea region Odessa. But Kyiv’s much antic­i­pat­ed “mir­a­cle of Odessa” failed to mate­ri­al­ize. Saakashvili stirred up Ukrainain pol­i­tics, above all with ver­bal attacks. He ini­tial­ly brought seri­ous cor­rup­tion alle­ga­tions against then-Prime Min­is­ter Arseniy Yat­senyuk and lat­er against Poroshenko him­self. In Novem­ber 2016 Saakashvili hand­ed in his res­ig­na­tion.

    Fear of extra­di­tion to Geor­gia

    In July, Poroshenko sur­pris­ing­ly revoked Saakashvil­i’s Ukrain­ian cit­i­zen­ship, which he him­self had ear­li­er con­ferred. The pres­i­dent jus­ti­fied this on the grounds that Saakashvili had not dis­closed that there were crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings against him in Geor­gia. Saakashvil­i’s Geor­gian cit­i­zen­ship had already been revoked in 2015. In Geor­gia there are cur­rent­ly four crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings against Saakashvili, includ­ing abuse of office. He could be fac­ing 11 years in jail. He has denied all alle­ga­tions, call­ing it polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed jus­tice. Now, Ukraine could hand Saakashvili over to Geor­gia. Poroshenko sug­gest­ed this on Mon­day in his first state­ment after Saakashvil­i’s con­tro­ver­sial return.

    Dur­ing his bor­der cross­ing, Saakashvili was accom­pa­nied by the for­mer prime min­is­ter and oppo­si­tion politi­cian, Yulia Tymoshenko. She is demand­ing ear­ly elec­tions and evi­dent­ly hopes she will be able to count on Saakashvil­i’s help in the cam­paign against her archri­val Poroshenko. More­over, Saakashvili was received by the may­or of the west­ern Ukrain­ian town of Lviv, Andriy Sadovyi, whose par­ty “Self Reliance” is also in oppo­si­tion. And not least, Saakashvili wants to defend him­self in court against his depri­va­tion of cit­i­zen­ship.

    An alliance against Poroshenko?

    Now in Ukraine spec­u­la­tion is rife about a pos­si­ble alliance against Poroshenko, which oth­er oppo­si­tion politi­cians and par­ties could join. Tymoshenko, who is just behind Poroshenko is the polls, has sug­gest­ed such an alliance.

    ...

    In Lviv he announced he would be going on an “auto tour” through Ukraine. His par­ty, “Move­ment of New Forces,” has, until now, been in a low one-dig­it range in the polls. “Saakashvili used to be much more pop­u­lar, his recent polling results have fall­en dra­mat­i­cal­ly,” says soci­ol­o­gist Iri­na Bekeshk­i­na.

    The head of the “Demo­c­ra­t­ic Ini­tia­tives” foun­da­tion, Bekeshk­i­na believes that hav­ing his cit­i­zen­ship revoked has been a gift for Saakashvil­i’s image cul­ti­va­tion. She thinks that Saakashvili could the­o­ret­i­cal­ly be a dri­ving force to help oth­er par­ties. Nev­er­the­less, Bekeshk­i­na points out that Saakashvili is most inter­est­ed in his own par­ty.

    Severe image loss

    Crit­ics are accus­ing both Poroshenko and Saakashvili of play­ing dan­ger­ous pow­er games, which are putting Ukraine’s already frag­ile domes­tic polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion at risk. Many, most­ly in the social media, appeared shocked and dis­gust­ed by the pic­tures from the bor­der — espe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing the ongo­ing trench war­fare in east­ern Ukraine.

    “Saakashvili is fight­ing for his come­back,” says DW polit­i­cal expert, Olek­siy Haran of the Kyiv-Mohy­la Acad­e­my. “But he is fight­ing for him­self and not for Ukraine.” Accord­ing to Haran, the inci­dent at the bor­der was desta­bi­liz­ing to the degree that one could con­sid­er it a provo­ca­tion. The bor­der proved to be com­plete­ly unguard­ed against the sud­den rush of pseu­do-patri­ots, result­ing in a “dev­as­tat­ing” image loss.

    So far the EU has react­ed cau­tious­ly to the events around Saakashvil­i’s return. “These are inter­nal issues in Ukraine. Few west­ern politi­cians want to get involved in these quar­rels,” Gus­tav Gres­sel, of the Brus­sels think tank Euro­pean Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions, told DW. The expert called the legal pro­ceed­ings in Geor­gia “pure­ly polit­i­cal” and also crit­i­cized Saakashvil­i’s expa­tri­a­tion from Ukraine. “Euro­pean coun­tries don’t do these things,” said Gres­sel. “In the past this used to be done sole­ly by com­mu­nist regimes in East­ern Europe as a way of get­ting rid of dis­si­dents.”

    ———-

    “Mikhail Saakashvil­i’s return may spell trou­ble for Ukraine’s Poroshenko” by Roman Gon­charenko, Olek­san­dr Hol­ubov; Deutsche Welle; 09/11/2017

    “The cir­cum­stances were aston­ish­ing, even for a coun­try like Ukraine, whose recent his­to­ry is rich in scur­rilous polit­i­cal inci­dents. Ini­tial­ly, the 49-year-old for­mer gov­er­nor of Odessa oblast attempt­ed to enter the coun­try by train, accom­pa­nied by a crowd of jour­nal­ists. The Ukrain­ian train was stopped in Poland and the politi­cian was request­ed to dis­em­bark. Saakashvili then trav­eled by bus to anoth­er bor­der cross­ing, where his well-mus­cled sup­port­ers lit­er­al­ly car­ried him over the bor­der him over the bor­der. The Ukrain­ian bor­der guards appeared to be help­less.

    Yep, Mikhail Saakashvili, the for­mer pres­i­dent of Geor­gia and for­mer gov­er­nor of Odessa, lit­er­al­ly rammed his way through a block­ade of bor­der guards into Ukraine for the stat­ed goal of lead­ing an anti-Poroshenko polit­i­cal move­ment. And it was just two years ago when Poroshenko named Saakashvili gov­er­nor or Odessa. Oh how times change:

    ...
    When friends become ene­mies

    This inci­dent is a pro­vi­sion­al peak in the con­flict between Saakashvili and Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko. It shows how, as is so often the case in Ukrain­ian pol­i­tics, friends can become ene­mies.

    Poroshenko and Saakashvili know each oth­er from their uni­ver­si­ty years in Kyiv. Dur­ing the 2004 “Orange Rev­o­lu­tion” Saakashvili, as pres­i­dent of Geor­gia, sup­port­ed the pro-West­ern Ukrain­ian elec­tion win­ner, Vic­tor Yushchenko, who was a close asso­ciate of Poroshenko. Lat­er, Saakashvil­i’s suc­cess­ful reforms made his coun­try into a role mod­el for many Ukraini­ans.

    After the change of pow­er in Kyiv in 2014, Ukraine attempt­ed an exper­i­ment and called on a num­ber of politi­cians from Geor­gia to form the gov­ern­ment. In 2015, Poroshenko named Saakashvili gov­er­nor of the Black Sea region Odessa. But Kyiv’s much antic­i­pat­ed “mir­a­cle of Odessa” failed to mate­ri­al­ize. Saakashvili stirred up Ukrainain pol­i­tics, above all with ver­bal attacks. He ini­tial­ly brought seri­ous cor­rup­tion alle­ga­tions against then-Prime Min­is­ter Arseniy Yat­senyuk and lat­er against Poroshenko him­self. In Novem­ber 2016 Saakashvili hand­ed in his res­ig­na­tion.
    ...

    And while Porkoshenko and Saakashvili might no longer be friends, that has­n’t stopped Saakashvili from acquir­ing lots of oth­er friends in Ukraine’s anti-Poroshenko polit­i­cal scene and now there’s spec­u­la­tion that Saakashvili is going to join a grow­ing anti-Poroshenko alliance:

    ...
    Dur­ing his bor­der cross­ing, Saakashvili was accom­pa­nied by the for­mer prime min­is­ter and oppo­si­tion politi­cian, Yulia Tymoshenko. She is demand­ing ear­ly elec­tions and evi­dent­ly hopes she will be able to count on Saakashvil­i’s help in the cam­paign against her archri­val Poroshenko. More­over, Saakashvili was received by the may­or of the west­ern Ukrain­ian town of Lviv, Andriy Sadovyi, whose par­ty “Self Reliance” is also in oppo­si­tion. And not least, Saakashvili wants to defend him­self in court against his depri­va­tion of cit­i­zen­ship.

    An alliance against Poroshenko?

    Now in Ukraine spec­u­la­tion is rife about a pos­si­ble alliance against Poroshenko, which oth­er oppo­si­tion politi­cians and par­ties could join. Tymoshenko, who is just behind Poroshenko is the polls, has sug­gest­ed such an alliance.

    But it is dif­fi­cult to say what the con­se­quences of the ille­gal bor­der cross­ing will be for Saakashvili. Poroshenko has promised there will be legal con­se­quences for every­one involved. It is unclear whether Saakashvili will be able to mobi­lize sup­port­ers should he be allowed to stay in Ukraine.

    In Lviv he announced he would be going on an “auto tour” through Ukraine. His par­ty, “Move­ment of New Forces,” has, until now, been in a low one-dig­it range in the polls. “Saakashvili used to be much more pop­u­lar, his recent polling results have fall­en dra­mat­i­cal­ly,” says soci­ol­o­gist Iri­na Bekeshk­i­na.

    The head of the “Demo­c­ra­t­ic Ini­tia­tives” foun­da­tion, Bekeshk­i­na believes that hav­ing his cit­i­zen­ship revoked has been a gift for Saakashvil­i’s image cul­ti­va­tion. She thinks that Saakashvili could the­o­ret­i­cal­ly be a dri­ving force to help oth­er par­ties. Nev­er­the­less, Bekeshk­i­na points out that Saakashvili is most inter­est­ed in his own par­ty.
    ...

    “Now in Ukraine spec­u­la­tion is rife about a pos­si­ble alliance against Poroshenko, which oth­er oppo­si­tion politi­cians and par­ties could join. Tymoshenko, who is just behind Poroshenko is the polls, has sug­gest­ed such an alliance.”

    It’s all a reminder that plans to get Petro Poroshenko thrown out of office over cor­rup­tion charges aren’t lim­it­ed to a politi­cian like Andreii Arte­menko with far-right par­ty ties. There’s a whole cir­cus of Ukrain­ian fig­ures try­ing to make that hap­pen. And the wannabe ring-leader of that cir­cus, Mikhail Saakashvili, just broke into the coun­try to lead that effort despite being a long-time friend of Poroshenko and some­one to whom Poroshenko grant­ed cit­i­zen­ship and installed as gov­er­nor of Odessa just a cou­ple years ago.

    It’s a reminder that Andreii Arte­menko’s anti-Poroshenko ‘peace plan’ might have had a sur­pris­ing amount of sup­port. At least the part of about remov­ing Poroshenko under a cloud of scan­dal.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 12, 2017, 1:32 pm
  7. It looks like Ukrain­ian author­i­ties decid­ed to go eas­i­er on Mikheil Saakashvili over his deci­sion to lit­er­al­ly force his way back into the coun­try: A Ukrain­ian court fined Saakashvili $130 for the bor­der cross­ing. And that appears to be the extent of it. Thus, the Saakashvili trav­el­ing cir­cus (which appears to be try­ing to foment a new Maid­an rev­o­lu­tion sce­nario) goes on:

    Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty

    Ring­side With Saakashvil­i’s Trav­el­ing Polit­i­cal Cir­cus

    Sep­tem­ber 22, 2017 20:01 GMT

    Christo­pher Miller

    DNIPRO/ZAPORIZHZHYA, Ukraine — If pol­i­tics is a cir­cus, then Mikheil Saakashvili is a ring­mas­ter.

    It’s a swel­ter­ing 33 degrees Cel­sius on an Indi­an sum­mer evening in Dnipro and the for­mer Geor­gian pres­i­dent turned shamed for­mer Ukrain­ian region­al gov­er­nor is again play­ing the role of polit­i­cal out­sider fight­ing for the com­mon man. He is in his ele­ment as he berates polit­i­cal foes, extols his own virtues, and pon­tif­i­cates in gen­er­al to a crowd of row­dy sup­port­ers watched over by help­less local police who appear to see him as a con­found­ing nui­sance.

    One of the great­est show­men of post-com­mu­nist Euro­pean pol­i­tics, Saakashvili has per­fect­ed this rou­tine over the course of many years of pol­i­tick­ing. There’s the glad-hand­ing of sup­port­ers and the receiv­ing of kiss­es from fawn­ing elder­ly women; the cheeky grin that betrays a belief he has out­ma­neu­vered his ene­mies; and the open-hand wave, with his arm extend­ed high in the air in tri­umph, his eyes glow­ing with undis­guised pride the whole time.

    Stand­ing more than 1.8 meters tall and boast­ing a hulk­ing frame, Saakashvili nat­u­ral­ly com­mands atten­tion in a crowd. He gets more of it here in deliv­er­ing his demands, in Russ­ian, to his for­mer ally Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko, who just months ago stripped Saakashvili of his cit­i­zen­ship after hav­ing played a huge role in bring­ing him on board to help forge Ukraine’s post-Euro­maid­an future as gov­er­nor of Ode­sa Oblast.

    The spurned Saakashvili refers to the author­i­ties in Kyiv col­lec­tive­ly as “huck­sters” with “less pow­er” than the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment of ex-Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, who was run out of the coun­try by the 2014 upris­ing. The under­ly­ing mes­sage: Change your ways or pre­pare to be over­thrown.

    ‘Poroshenko Out!’.

    Saakashvil­i’s speech as he stumps for his new oppo­si­tion par­ty verge on a call for a new rev­o­lu­tion, but he’s care­ful not to go so far. He says a bet­ter idea is to cre­ate a “calm force of the peo­ple” that will push author­i­ties to imple­ment reforms and a group of “300 Spar­tans” who will ensure these reforms go through in par­lia­ment.

    The crowd of sup­port­ers indi­cates they’re on board with shouts of “Poroshenko out!” and “Cor­rup­tion­eers to jail!” They are most­ly work­ing class, mid­dle-aged, and they refer to him as Misha, the diminu­tive of Mikheil. “Misha! Misha! Misha!” they chant when he deliv­ers a good line. They all seem to begin their sen­tences with “Our Misha” when asked about him.

    One of them is Ali­na Bory­siv­na, a pen­sion­er who is not nec­es­sar­i­ly a fan of Saakashvil­i’s pol­i­tics but dis­likes the cur­rent cen­tral gov­ern­ment and adores Geor­gian men. She says Saakashvili is “very hand­some” and would pre­fer him over the cur­rent nation­al lead­er­ship.

    Not every­one here is an admir­er. Kon­stan­tin, a mid­dle-aged man who elbows his way to the front of the crowd for a prime spot to shoot video of the event, says he’ll post a clip of the ral­ly on YouTube. He hopes it will rack up thou­sands of views and earn him $100 or more, equal to rough­ly half of his month­ly salary. Saakashvili, he explains, has the poten­tial to bring him good mon­ey. “It’s a cir­cus,” he says of Saakashvil­i’s recent nation­al tour.

    In some ways, it does appear to be. As Saakashvili speaks, car­ni­val music bel­lows from a turn­ing carousel near­by, and cir­cling the ral­ly are three col­or­ful clowns tee­ter­ing on stilts. Nobody seems to know what their pur­pose is or where they came from, and they won’t say. But some point to the Dnipro may­or, Borys Fila­tov, as being behind their pres­ence.

    ‘Men­tal­ly Ill’

    Ahead of Saakashvil­i’s arrival in Dnipro, Fila­tov, a fiery politi­cian who is no fan of Saakashvili, post­ed to his per­son­al Face­book page a signed order tem­porar­i­ly sus­pend­ing a city ban on trav­el­ing cir­cus­es, just for Saakashvili. The order, which delved into the absurd and serves as an exam­ple of the car­ni­val Ukrain­ian pol­i­tics has become since Euro­maid­an, was also pub­lished on the offi­cial site of the Dnipro City Coun­cil.

    “I order the rel­e­vant [munic­i­pal] ser­vices to ensure the dis­in­fec­tion of the ter­ri­to­ry and the hygiene of the [Saakashvili] event,” said the may­or of the south­east­ern city for­mer­ly known as Dnipropetro­vsk and nick­named “rock­et city” for its con­tri­bu­tion to the Sovi­et Union’s space pro­gram. “I allo­cate addi­tion­al jan­i­tors and spe­cial­ists of the com­mu­nal enter­prise ‘Zoocon­trol’ to catch stray ani­mals for ster­il­iza­tion.”

    “I ask all local audi­ences not to offend the artists. Be lenient to the men­tal­ly ill,” he con­tin­ued. “Let the cir­cus remain a cir­cus.”

    Saakashvili was quick to respond, pub­lish­ing on his Face­book page a “let­ter of grat­i­tude” in which he claimed to have been coor­di­nat­ing with an actu­al cir­cus to bring along, adding that he’d make sure a slot was left open for Fila­tov him­self to per­form as part of a “troupe of meat­head bas­tards.” Alas, Saakashvili arrived only with a small army of beefy, beard­ed body­guards to escort him.

    Saakashvil­i’s Dnipro vis­it came almost two months after the loss of his Ukrain­ian cit­i­zen­ship while abroad effec­tive­ly barred his return and pre­vent­ed him from try­ing to make a run at polit­i­cal office in his once-adopt­ed coun­try.

    But no ban or bor­der in Ukraine has man­aged to stop the Saakashvili show.

    On Sun­day, Sep­tem­ber 10, at a west­ern bor­der cross­ing near Poland, bor­der guards linked arms to form a human wall in an attempt to keep out Saakashvili, who had been plot­ting his return in War­saw. He proved too strong for them, break­ing through with the help of a row­dy group of sup­port­ers, and stepped back on Ukrain­ian soil. Ukrain­ian author­i­ties say his entrance was ille­gal and claimed that 13 police offi­cers and nine bor­der guards were hurt amid the chaos at the bor­der.

    “The peo­ple took me by the hand and returned me to Ukraine. It was the deci­sion of the peo­ple,” Saakashvili told reporters, adding that Ukrain­ian law allowed for such an entrance under the cir­cum­stances.

    His case was heard at a dis­trict court in the west­ern Lviv region. It resumed on Sep­tem­ber 22 but Saakashvili did not attend. In his absence, he was found guilty of ille­gal­ly cross­ing the state bor­der and ordered to pay a fine of 3,400 hryv­nia (about $130) along with a court fee of 320 hryv­nias (about $12). The cir­cus trav­eled on.

    Ukraine’s top pros­e­cu­tor, Yuriy Lut­senko, said at the Yal­ta Euro­pean Strat­e­gy (YES) con­fer­ence in Kyiv on the week­end of Sep­tem­ber 16–17 that Saakashvili would not be arrest­ed or extra­dit­ed to Geor­gia, where he is want­ed, in part, on cor­rup­tion charges from the time he served as pres­i­dent there between 2004 and 2013. Saakashvili says the extra­di­tion request is polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed.

    The YES con­fer­ence buzzed with rumors of Saakashvili pos­si­bly gate-crash­ing the event. Alas, he nev­er showed, opt­ing instead to wait until Sep­tem­ber 19, while Poroshenko was vis­it­ing the Unit­ed Nations Gen­er­al Assem­bly and unable to stop him.

    No Plan In Sight

    Before he head­ed east, Saakashvili trav­eled to west­ern cities like Lviv and Cher­nivt­si. In each place, he’s turned out noisy crowds of hun­dreds. He has no stat­ed plans to stop soon, and has giv­en no indi­ca­tion that he has a real plan at all. It seems he’s wing­ing it.

    “I will trav­el a lot. I don’t have a pass­port so I can­not fly on a plane,” Saakashvili said in Kyiv. “I will trav­el by car, by stage­coach, I’ll hitch­hike — but I will reach every Ukrain­ian.”

    Ukrain­ian and for­eign media have been gripped by the dra­ma, spec­u­lat­ing what Saakashiv­ili might be up to — a run at the pres­i­den­cy? From the look on his face, that’s exact­ly how Saakashvili likes it.

    “Clear­ly Misha Saakashvili is not going to dis­ap­pear behind ene­my lines. He will exhaust this inci­dent for every mol­e­cule of PR he can before the effect fades and new head­lin­ing-grab­bing stunts are required,” wrote the pseu­do­ny­mous Ode­sa-based polit­i­cal and civ­il soci­ety con­sul­tant Niko­lai Hol­mov, who blogs at Odessa­talk.

    It’s also exact­ly what Poroshenko, a for­mer uni­ver­si­ty class­mate turned Saakashvili foe, does­n’t want from the man who had man­aged reforms as Geor­gia’s pres­i­dent.

    But Poroshenko has only him­self to blame for Saakashvil­i’s recent head­line-grab­bing act, many observers say.

    “He might have fad­ed away,” Thomas de Waal, a senior fel­low at Carnegie Europe, wrote of the embat­tled politi­cian. “But Poroshenko then hand­ed Saakashvili anoth­er chance to win the lime­light by rash­ly depriv­ing him of his Ukrain­ian cit­i­zen­ship on dubi­ous grounds.”

    “The deci­sion sug­gests a man who has decid­ed to start to neu­tral­ize the oppo­si­tion, but may have reen­er­gized it instead,” de Waal said of the Ukrain­ian pres­i­den­t’s approach.

    Indeed, Saakashvili and his polit­i­cal par­ty — Move­ment of New Forces, formed short­ly after he resigned as gov­er­nor of the Ode­sa region — has suf­fered in the polls here, hov­er­ing around a mis­er­able 1–2 per­cent in near­ly every recent sur­vey. That would­n’t be enough to gar­ner any seats in par­lia­ment if the elec­tions were to be held now.

    While there’s no indi­ca­tion those num­bers are going up due to recent events, there’s also no doubt Saakashvili is bank­ing on his road show to boost his appeal.

    At the close of the hour-long Dnipro ral­ly, Saakashvili posed for self­ies with teens and pen­sion­ers alike before board­ing a city bus and mak­ing his exit. Once aboard, he befriend­ed a pen­sion­er named Lyubov Daniliv­na, who invit­ed him to her home for tea. The video of the meet­ing was imme­di­ate­ly post­ed to Saakashvil­i’s Face­book page, where he boasts near­ly 1 mil­lion fol­low­ers, and his YouTube account, which has anoth­er 42,000. On Twit­ter, more than 262,000 users are fol­low­ing him.

    Saakashvili has used social media to his advan­tage. When he posts pho­tos and videos, they often go viral on the Ukrain­ian Inter­net. The video of him board­ing the Dnipro bus and going home with Lyubov had been viewed more than 227,000 times on Face­book and more than 70,000 times on YouTube at the time of this sto­ry’s pub­li­ca­tion.

    After Dnipro, Saakashvili was head­ing an hour south to indus­tri­al Zapor­izhzhya, where he hoped to keep his momen­tum going.

    Ahead of his appear­ance, how­ev­er, posters read­ing “The clown has arrived” had been hung on light posts and walls through­out the city. They showed a pho­to­shopped image of Saakashvili dressed as a clown in a psy­che­del­ic wig and match­ing cos­tume. A mes­sage on the posters read: “Meet the famous Geor­gian polit­i­cal clown in your city. A favorite of pro­test­ers, of trash, and fools.”

    ‘You’re Being Robbed’

    Stand­ing atop a leop­ard-pat­terned soap­box, Saakashvili starts his speech by telling a group of some 400 peo­ple that he’s the guy who can raise their qual­i­ty of life. But­ter and milk; soap and mort­gages; and rent and util­i­ties are all too expen­sive, he says, and it’s the gov­ern­men­t’s fault.

    “You’re being robbed,” he says. He says Ukraine will be lost for good to pow­er­ful oli­garchs and life for ordi­nary cit­i­zens will get worse, unless they throw their full sup­port behind him.

    ...

    Before depart­ing, Saakashvili tells the crowd in Zapor­izhzhya, he’ll join a ral­ly in Kyiv on Octo­ber 17th, when oppo­si­tion par­ties and civ­il soci­ety activists will gath­er to demand imme­di­ate action on anti­cor­rup­tion reforms and the removal of law­mak­ers’ immu­ni­ty from pros­e­cu­tion. He asks for their sup­port.

    “We have to bring order. We must express our demands to the author­i­ties or the group of peo­ple who call them­selves the author­i­ties, but in real­i­ty, they are ordi­nary huck­sters,” Saakashvili says. And with that, he dis­ap­pears into a shiny, sil­ver SUV with Geor­gian plates.

    ———-

    “Ring­side With Saakashvil­i’s Trav­el­ing Polit­i­cal Cir­cus” by Christo­pher Miller; Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty; 09/22/2017

    Saakashvili has used social media to his advan­tage. When he posts pho­tos and videos, they often go viral on the Ukrain­ian Inter­net. The video of him board­ing the Dnipro bus and going home with Lyubov had been viewed more than 227,000 times on Face­book and more than 70,000 times on YouTube at the time of this sto­ry’s pub­li­ca­tion.”

    The guy knows how to put on a show, whether it’s a lit­er­al trav­el­ing polit­i­cal cir­cus or a social media show. And yet he does­n’t actu­al­ly appear to be all that pop­u­lar:

    ...
    But Poroshenko has only him­self to blame for Saakashvil­i’s recent head­line-grab­bing act, many observers say.

    “He might have fad­ed away,” Thomas de Waal, a senior fel­low at Carnegie Europe, wrote of the embat­tled politi­cian. “But Poroshenko then hand­ed Saakashvili anoth­er chance to win the lime­light by rash­ly depriv­ing him of his Ukrain­ian cit­i­zen­ship on dubi­ous grounds.”

    “The deci­sion sug­gests a man who has decid­ed to start to neu­tral­ize the oppo­si­tion, but may have reen­er­gized it instead,” de Waal said of the Ukrain­ian pres­i­den­t’s approach.

    Indeed, Saakashvili and his polit­i­cal par­ty — Move­ment of New Forces, formed short­ly after he resigned as gov­er­nor of the Ode­sa region — has suf­fered in the polls here, hov­er­ing around a mis­er­able 1–2 per­cent in near­ly every recent sur­vey. That would­n’t be enough to gar­ner any seats in par­lia­ment if the elec­tions were to be held now.

    While there’s no indi­ca­tion those num­bers are going up due to recent events, there’s also no doubt Saakashvili is bank­ing on his road show to boost his appeal.
    ...

    1–2 per­cent in polls. It’s not exact­ly Maid­an-cal­iber pub­lic sup­port. Still, the cir­cus con­tin­ues and it’s a cir­cus with a mes­sage “the cor­rupt estab­lish­ment must go, or else!” Or else what? Or else Ukraine will con­tin­ue to break up, accord­ing to Saakashvili. That’s what Saakashvili is now pre­dict­ing: more sep­a­ratist regions if Ukraine does­n’t fix its cor­rup­tion prob­lem. And the only thing that can pre­vent such a sce­nario is mas­sive eco­nom­ic growth, accord­ing to Saakashvili. Dou­ble dig­it growth. If Ukraine can achieve that mas­sive eco­nom­ic growth the sep­a­ratist regions will be so wowed that they’ll vol­un­tar­i­ly choose to rejoin the coun­try and peace will return. That’s Saakashvil­i’s mes­sage, along with the mes­sage that he’s not at all inter­est­ed in run­ning for office again. He’s going to be focused on con­sol­i­dat­ing the polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion instead:

    The Tele­graph

    Ukraine will break up unless gov­ern­ment fights cor­rup­tion, Saakashvili warns

    Matthew Day, in War­saw

    24 Sep­tem­ber 2017 • 7:29pm

    Mikheil Saakashvili, the for­mer Geor­gian pres­i­dent who went on to become a lead­ing Ukrain­ian politi­cian, has warned Ukraine “will con­tin­ue to break up” unless the gov­ern­ment improves the econ­o­my and reins in the scourge of cor­rup­tion that has blight­ed the coun­try since inde­pen­dence.

    Made state­less after Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s pres­i­dent, rescind­ed his Ukrain­ian cit­i­zen­ship in July the 49-year-old Saakashvili made a dra­mat­ic to return to Ukraine ear­li­er this month when a crowd of sup­port­ers broke through police lines on the Ukrain­ian-Pol­ish bor­der and swept him back into the coun­try ille­gal­ly.

    Now back in his adopt­ed home despite his lack of a Ukrain­ian pass­port he is trav­el­ling around the coun­try, deter­mined to be a thorn in the flesh of a gov­ern­ment he feels has done too lit­tle to tack­le cor­rup­tion and improve the econ­o­my.

    With­out reform, he says, the gov­ern­ment risks fail­ing to hold a coun­try togeth­er that has already lost con­trol of ter­ri­to­ry to Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratist in the east.

    “If Ukraine doesn’t change it will con­tin­ue to break up,” he told The Tele­graph. “You go to the east and you see whole cities that no longer trade with Rus­sia and are real­ly in a des­per­ate sit­u­a­tion. They don’t have any prospects and there is no light at the end of the tun­nel for them.

    “If you keep eco­nom­ic growth as it is now, if you keep cor­rup­tion as it now then Ukraine is going to lose fur­ther ter­ri­to­ries in the east and the south because peo­ple will be sim­ply fed up,” he con­tin­ued.

    Mr Saakashvili also con­firmed that he no longer seeks polit­i­cal office in Ukraine, say­ing that he only want­ed to unite the oppo­si­tion and find new polit­i­cal lead­ers.

    “I don’t want any position—president or prime min­is­ter,” he said. “Doing that gives me the chance to bring the oppo­si­tion togeth­er because they don’t see me as a com­peti­tor.

    “I want to con­sol­i­date the oppo­si­tion, and, any­way, at the moment I’m not even a cit­i­zen of Ukraine.”

    His deci­sion to spurn the call­ing of high-office is anoth­er twist in the sto­ry of a politi­cian who rose to promi­nence on the world stage, first as a reform­ing Geor­gian leader and then as the country’s defi­ant pres­i­dent dur­ing its war with Rus­sia in 2008.

    But he suf­fered a dra­mat­ic fall from grace after Geor­gian author­i­ties accused him of abuse-of-office charges. A want­ed man back home he moved to Ukraine and became Odessa gov­er­nor in 2015 before quit­ting, claim­ing Mr Poroshenko was fail­ing to push through the reforms need­ed to breathe life into an econ­o­my shack­led by red-tape and cor­rup­tion.

    “The only chance Ukraine has is to have dou­ble-dig­it eco­nom­ic growth, and this will show the east and the south of the coun­try, and the whole of Ukraine, that there is a future,” he told The Tele­graph. “What the gov­ern­ment is doing now is not enough.”

    So far the gov­ern­ment has appeared, pub­li­cal­ly at least, indif­fer­ent to Mr Saakashvili’s pres­ence in Ukraine despite its efforts to keep him out of the coun­try.

    ...

    ———-

    “Ukraine will break up unless gov­ern­ment fights cor­rup­tion, Saakashvili warns” by Matthew Day; The Tele­graph; 09/24/2017

    “With­out reform, he says, the gov­ern­ment risks fail­ing to hold a coun­try togeth­er that has already lost con­trol of ter­ri­to­ry to Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratist in the east.”

    If Saakashvil­i’s anti-cor­rup­tion (real­ly, anti-Poroshenko) cam­paign fails, Ukraine will break up fur­ther. It’s quite a way to up the ante in Saakashvil­i’s rhetoric. And the chance is for dou­ble-dig­it eco­nom­ic growth:

    ...
    “If Ukraine doesn’t change it will con­tin­ue to break up,” he told The Tele­graph. “You go to the east and you see whole cities that no longer trade with Rus­sia and are real­ly in a des­per­ate sit­u­a­tion. They don’t have any prospects and there is no light at the end of the tun­nel for them.

    “If you keep eco­nom­ic growth as it is now, if you keep cor­rup­tion as it now then Ukraine is going to lose fur­ther ter­ri­to­ries in the east and the south because peo­ple will be sim­ply fed up,” he con­tin­ued.

    ...

    “The only chance Ukraine has is to have dou­ble-dig­it eco­nom­ic growth, and this will show the east and the south of the coun­try, and the whole of Ukraine, that there is a future,” he told The Tele­graph. “What the gov­ern­ment is doing now is not enough.”
    ...

    That mes­sage is now Mikheil Saakashvil­i’s mis­sion in life. Because he’s not run­ning for office any­more. Now it’s just about con­sol­i­dat­ing the oppo­si­tion:

    ...
    “I don’t want any position—president or prime min­is­ter,” he said. “Doing that gives me the chance to bring the oppo­si­tion togeth­er because they don’t see me as a com­peti­tor.

    “I want to con­sol­i­date the oppo­si­tion, and, any­way, at the moment I’m not even a cit­i­zen of Ukraine.”
    ...

    And let’s not for­get which promi­nent oppo­si­tion fig­ure trav­eled with Saakashvili from Poland to the Ukrain­ian-Poland bor­der: Yulia Tymoshenko. And, of course, there’s also the oppo­si­tion in the form of the far-right par­ties like Right Sector/Pravy Sek­tor and the fig­ures like Andreii Arte­menko who tried to ped­dle a ‘peace plan’ that involved oust­ing Poroshenko on cor­rup­tion charges. So we prob­a­bly should­n’t be sur­prised if Saakashvili tries to unite the neo-Nazi far-right branch of the oppo­si­tion like Right Sec­tor with Tymoshenko’s fac­tion? Espe­cial­ly giv­en the pres­ence of Right Sec­tor mem­bers at a Saakashvili ral­ly in Kiev back in Novem­ber where he declared his lack of con­fi­dence in the gov­ern­ment. But for now Saakashvili appears to be focus­ing his mes­sage on vague com­plains about cor­rup­tion and the need for mas­sive eco­nom­ic growth, which could be an indi­ca­tion that he has plans but does­n’t want to reveal them yet or might sim­ply reflect that he has no plans and is just mak­ing things up as he goes along. We’ll have to wait and see. And watch the cir­cus.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 26, 2017, 1:15 pm
  8. Octo­ber 14th, “Defend­er of Ukraine Day”, just came and went in Ukraine. That’s the day to cel­e­brate the found­ing of the Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army (UPA) army that became an offi­cial pub­lic hol­i­day a few years ago in response to the con­flict with Rus­sia. Last year’s march saw the for­ma­tion of the Azov Bat­tal­ion’s new polit­i­cal par­ty, the Nation­al Corp par­ty. So what did this year bring? Well, there was­n’t a new par­ty formed, but Svo­bo­da (the Free­dom Par­ty), Right Sec­tor, and Nation­al Corp did man­age to get 20,000 peo­ple to march through Kiev:

    Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty

    Nation­al­ists Mark 75th Anniver­sary Of Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army

    Octo­ber 14, 2017 19:08 GMT

    Thou­sands of Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists have marched through the cap­i­tal, Kyiv, to mark the 75th anniver­sary of the cre­ation of the con­tro­ver­sial Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army (UPA).

    March orga­niz­ers said as many as 20,000 peo­ple par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Octo­ber 14 march, which was sup­port­ed by the right-wing Free­dom, Right Sec­tor, and Nation­al Corp polit­i­cal par­ties.

    Some 5,000 police were on hand to keep order. Jour­nal­ists report­ed see­ing some marchers giv­ing Nazi salutes.

    Since 2015, the Octo­ber 14 anniver­sary has been marked as the Defend­er of Ukraine Day pub­lic hol­i­day.

    The UPA was found­ed in west­ern Ukraine dur­ing the Nazi occu­pa­tion of the coun­try in World War II and fought against both the Nazis and the Sovi­et Red Army. Its fight­ers car­ried out vicious acts of eth­nic cleans­ing in which tens of thou­sands of eth­nic Poles in the region were killed.

    ...

    ———-

    “Nation­al­ists Mark 75th Anniver­sary Of Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army”; Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty; 10/14/2017

    “Some 5,000 police were on hand to keep order. Jour­nal­ists report­ed see­ing some marchers giv­ing Nazi salutes.

    Yeah, when Ukraine’s three biggest neo-Nazi par­ties arrange a march of 20,000 peo­ple to cel­e­brate a group like the UPA, which was oper­at­ing as an arm of the Waf­fen SS and enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly car­ry­ing out eth­nic cleans­ing in antic­i­pa­tion of set­ting up its own eth­no-nation­al­ist state, there’s prob­a­bly going to be some Nazi salutes. It’s to be expect­ed.

    But it’s worth not­ing that this year’s Defend­er of Ukraine Day was­n’t exclu­sive­ly about cel­e­brat­ing the WWII-era far right. Symon Petliu­ra, who led the slaugh­ter of 50,000 Jews fol­low­ing WWI, got a new stat­ue in his hon­or. Next to a syn­a­gogue that is still in oper­a­tion:

    Jew­ish Tele­graph Agency

    Ukraine hon­ors nation­al­ist leader blamed for Jew­ish pogroms

    Octo­ber 16, 2017 2:20pm

    (JTA) — Ukraine unveiled a stat­ue for a nation­al­ist leader who guid­ed a regime that killed tens of thou­sands of Jews in pogroms dur­ing the Russ­ian Rev­o­lu­tion.

    The memo­r­i­al for Symon Petliu­ra was unveiled Sat­ur­day in Vin­nit­sa, a city in the west­ern part of the nation, on Defend­er of Ukraine Day, a nation­al hol­i­day, the RT news site report­ed. It is locat­ed in an area once known as Yerusal­im­ka, or Jerusalem, and locat­ed next to a small syn­a­gogue that is still in oper­a­tion.

    The stat­ue, which RT calls the first offi­cial mon­u­ment to Petliu­ra, though there is a bust of the ear­ly 20th-cen­tu­ry leader in the cap­i­tal, shows him sit­ting on a bench with a map of the coun­try in his hands.

    Dur­ing Petliura’s time as head of the Ukrain­ian People’s Repub­lic, 35,000 to 50,000 Jews were killed in a series of pogroms between 1918 and 1921.

    Petliu­ra was killed in 1926 by a Ukrain­ian-born Jew­ish watch­mak­er, Sholom Schwartzbard, who was acquit­ted by a French court that ruled he was act­ing in the heat of the moment after 15 of his rel­a­tives were killed in the pogroms.

    ———-

    “Ukraine hon­ors nation­al­ist leader blamed for Jew­ish pogroms”; Jew­ish Tele­graph Agency; 10/16/2017

    The memo­r­i­al for Symon Petliu­ra was unveiled Sat­ur­day in Vin­nit­sa, a city in the west­ern part of the nation, on Defend­er of Ukraine Day, a nation­al hol­i­day, the RT news site report­ed. It is locat­ed in an area once known as Yerusal­im­ka, or Jerusalem, and locat­ed next to a small syn­a­gogue that is still in oper­a­tion.”

    So that also hap­pened on Defend­er of Ukraine Day.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 17, 2017, 3:02 pm
  9. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, now that Ukraine decid­ed to for­mal­ly hon­or Symon Petliu­ra, whose troops killed tens of thou­sands of Jew­ish civil­ians in pogroms fol­low­ing WWI, with a stat­ue not far from a syn­a­gogue a num­ber of Ukrain­ian Jews are rais­ing their voic­es in protest.

    And, of course, the far right is protest­ing those protests. For exam­ple, check out the response from a Svo­bo­da region­al leader. It’s also not a sur­pris­ing response, at least it’s not sur­pris­ing as long as you are expect­ing Svo­bo­da’s lead­ers to act like the Nazis they are:

    Defend­ing His­to­ry

    Region­al Leader of Ukraine’s Svo­bo­da Par­ty Threat­ens Jews who Dis­agree with a Pub­lic Mon­u­ment for Pogrom-meis­ter Petliu­ra

    23 Octo­ber 2017

    UKRAINE | ANTISEMITISM | FREE SPEECH | GLORIFICATION OF CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

    As report­ed last week, in con­nec­tion with a protest from the World Jew­ish Con­gress, author­i­ties in Ukraine recent­ly inau­gu­rat­ed a stat­ue to Symon Petliu­ra in the city of Vin­nit­sa. Petliu­ra (1879—1926) was a Ukrain­ian whose troops killed tens of thou­sands of Jew­ish civil­ians in a dev­as­tat­ing series of pogroms in Ukraine dur­ing the Russ­ian Rev­o­lu­tion and the civ­il war that fol­lowed it.

    Not sur­pris­ing­ly, quite a few Ukrain­ian Jews object­ed to the Petliu­ra stat­ue, espe­cial­ly as it was erect­ed with­in a short dis­tance of a still func­tion­ing Jew­ish syn­a­gogue. While it seems per­fect­ly rea­son­able that many Jews might have an issue with a stat­ue to Petliu­ra, not every­one appre­ci­at­ed Ukrain­ian Jews’ express­ing their objec­tions.

    In a Face­book rant, a region­al leader of the extrem­ist Svo­bo­da par­ty, whose leader was once pho­tographed mak­ing the Nazi salute, issued a blood­cur­dling Face­book threat to Ukraine’s Jews, telling them to fall in line or face the con­se­quences. Below is the Svo­bo­da leader’s post in Eng­lish trans­la­tion with our com­ments, fol­lowed by a screen-shot of the orig­i­nal. Jew­ish activists plan to com­plain to the police, but giv­en recent prece­dent it is con­sid­ered doubt­ful that any seri­ous action will be tak­en.

    Trans­la­tion of the Svo­bo­da post with com­men­tary added in square brack­ets [ ]:

    Again, these peo­ple are inter­fer­ing with our coun­try!!! “Peace­ful­ly coex­ist­ed” — Is that when they orga­nized the Holodomor?!!! [the charge that “the Jews” caused the ear­ly 1930s Holodomor famine in Ukraine is a recur­ring anti­se­mit­ic trope in Ukraine]. And now Israel won’t acknowl­edge the mas­sive killing of Ukraini­ans [in the Holodomor] as geno­cide!???

    “The only time we com­fort­ably coex­ist­ed with kikes is in Kolivshi­na [an 18th cen­tu­ry pogrom in which Ukraini­ans butchered Jews — he is say­ing that this mas­sacre was the only time Ukraini­ans and Jews coex­ist­ed hap­pi­ly].

    “I hope Ukraini­ans will remem­ber who is in charge of their land, and put all minori­ties in their place!!! Do not tell us how to live and to whom to put up mon­u­ments in our land. Do not tell us which lan­guage to speak and in which lan­guage to edu­cate our chil­dren!!! We are Ukraini­ans! That’s all you need to know — you are guests. If you want to live next to us, then get used to our rules; if not, go to your places [go to oth­er nations], or else you’ll be pun­ished.

    [see screen­shot of Face­book post]

    ———-

    “Region­al Leader of Ukraine’s Svo­bo­da Par­ty Threat­ens Jews who Dis­agree with a Pub­lic Mon­u­ment for Pogrom-meis­ter Petliu­ra”; Defend­ing His­to­ry; 10/23/2017

    ““I hope Ukraini­ans will remem­ber who is in charge of their land, and put all minori­ties in their place!!! Do not tell us how to live and to whom to put up mon­u­ments in our land. Do not tell us which lan­guage to speak and in which lan­guage to edu­cate our chil­dren!!! We are Ukraini­ans! That’s all you need to know — you are guests. If you want to live next to us, then get used to our rules; if not, go to your places [go to oth­er nations], or else you’ll be pun­ished.””

    Don’t com­plain about the stat­ues glo­ri­fy­ing the guy who led anti-Jew­ish pogroms or you’ll be dri­ven out of the coun­try or face oth­er forms of pun­ish­ment. Spo­ken like a true Nazi.

    It’s a reminder that all of these acts to com­mem­o­rate white­wash butch­ers, like hav­ing an offi­cial moment of silence on nation­al TV to com­mem­o­rate the 90th anniver­sary of Petli­u­ra’s assas­si­na­tion, aren’t just dis­tort­ing the mem­o­ry of what these peo­ple did in the past. It’s also nor­mal­iz­ing what they did in the past so it can hap­pen again.

    So don’t for­get, the white­wash­ing of his­to­ry in Ukraine isn’t just hap­pen­ing out a spir­it of hyper-nation­al­ism in the midst of a civ­il war. It’s being pushed by groups like Svo­bo­da that are direct descen­dants of the orga­ni­za­tion that actu­al­ly exe­cut­ed the his­to­ry that’s cur­rent­ly being white­washed and who now want a Ukrain­ian pub­lic brain­washed enough to repeat the this his­to­ry in the future.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 23, 2017, 2:55 pm
  10. Check out the lat­est piece of WWII his­to­ry that Volodomyr Via­tro­vych and Ukraine’s Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­o­ry are try­ing to shove down the mem­o­ry hole: In order to char­ac­ter­ize the UPA as mul­ti-eth­nic, mul­ti-cul­tur­al, and demo­c­ra­t­ic, Via­tro­vych appears to have con­coct­ed a com­plete fan­ta­sy ver­sion of his­to­ry around Lei­ba-Itsko Iosi­fovich Dobrovskii, a Jew who worked with the UPA.

    This fan­ta­sy ver­sion of Dobrovskii as a will­ing and eager UPA mem­ber was start­ed in 2006 when that Via­tro­vych wrote about him in a book, alleged­ly based on his arrest file of the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice. But as the fol­low­ing arti­cle notes, that file isn’t exclu­sive­ly avail­able to Via­tro­vych. And, of course, when the fol­low­ing author decid­ed to look into those files for him­self he found that Dobrovskii hat­ed the UPA, was basi­cal­ly forced to work with them, and the only rea­son they did­n’t per­se­cute him for being a Jew was because he was hid­ing his Jew­ish back­ground the entire time:

    Haaretz
    Opin­ion

    Ukraine’s Invent­ed a ‘Jew­ish-Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ist’ to White­wash Its Nazi-era Past

    Myth-mak­ing efforts by the Ukraine to glo­ri­fy the WWII role of one ‘arche­typ­al’ Jew, Lei­ba Dubrovskii, is part of Kyiv’s war on mem­o­ry: its eager attempts to erase anti-Semi­tism, bru­tal­i­ty and com­plic­i­ty with the Nazis from its wartime his­to­ry

    Jared McBride
    11/09/2017 12:36

    For a prac­ti­cal les­son in nation­al­ism that white­wash­es an incon­ve­nient past, includ­ing ties to the Nazis, racism, anti-Semi­tism, involve­ment in the Holo­caust, eth­nic cleans­ing and oth­er vio­lence against a country’s own cit­i­zens – look no fur­ther than Ukraine.

    The Ukrain­ian Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­o­ry (UINP) and its patrons in the Poroshenko gov­ern­ment in Kyiv are allow­ing us to study the process of nation­al­ist myth-mak­ing in real-time.

    Pres­i­dent Poroshenko has enabled nation­al­ist activists like Volodymyr Via­tro­vych, head of the Insti­tute, to sculpt Ukraine’s his­to­ry and mem­o­ry poli­cies. Part and par­cel of the Institute’s “decom­mu­niza­tion” cam­paign to remove rem­nants of a Sovi­et past simul­ta­ne­ous­ly has been to lion­ize 20th cen­tu­ry Ukraini­ans who fought for Ukraine’s inde­pen­dence no mat­ter how prob­lem­at­ic their prob­lem­at­ic.

    In par­tic­u­lar, the Via­tro­vych and the Insti­tute have made white­wash­ing the image of World War Two Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists a pri­or­i­ty, not a small feat con­sid­er­ing their doc­u­ment­ed ties to, and com­plic­i­ty with, the Nazis.

    This nation­al­ist revi­sion­ism seeks to show that the main wartime nation­al­ist orga­ni­za­tions, the Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists (OUN) and its mil­i­tary wing, the Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army (UPA), were ulti­mate­ly mul­ti-eth­nic, “mul­ti-cul­tur­al,” and demo­c­ra­t­ic.

    Unsur­pris­ing­ly, the nation­al­ists’ rela­tion­ship with Ukraine’s Jews has proved the biggest chal­lenge to this rein­ven­tion of Holo­caust co-per­pe­tra­tors and eth­nic cleansers as tol­er­ant inter­na­tion­al­ists.

    Its pro­mot­ers have recent­ly dou­bled down on these efforts, spurred on by the annu­al ‘Defend­ers of Ukraine’ hol­i­day, cel­e­brat­ing a fic­ti­tious foun­da­tion date of the nation­al­ists’ army, the UPA.

    The Poroshenko gov­ern­ment cir­cu­lat­ed instruc­tions on the eve of the hol­i­day, empha­siz­ing the need to “pro­vide cit­i­zens with objec­tive infor­ma­tion.” But a his­tor­i­cal adden­dum pre­pared by the Ukrain­ian Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­o­ry does the oppo­site by claim­ing that: “Jews and Belaru­sians also fought in the ranks” of the UPA and that “many Jews” joined them vol­un­tar­i­ly to prove them­selves “as seri­ous fight­ers and doc­tors.”

    Much Ukrain­ian media ink has been spilled in recent years glo­ri­fy­ing the role of one Jew, who served with the nation­al­ists. His sto­ry encap­su­lates Ukraine’s war on mem­o­ry, and its eager attempts to write out anti-Semi­tism from its wartime his­to­ry.

    Lei­ba-Itsko Iosi­fovich Dobrovskii has been tout­ed as a Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist who also hap­pened to be Jew­ish. That was to make the point that Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism and Jew­ish­ness were not mutu­al­ly exclu­sive. These days, we’d call the re-engi­neer­ing of facts about Dobrovskii a fake news sto­ry. But it is instruc­tive to trace its ori­gins.

    The leg­end of Lei­ba Dobrovskii, Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist Jew, orig­i­nat­ed not in World War Two but the mid-2000s, when he was first briefly men­tioned in a book in 2006 by his­to­ri­an and activist Volodymyr Via­tro­vych.

    Via­tro­vych made ref­er­ence to a “Jew” in the UPA, who helped write leaflets for the UPA in 1942 and 1943 and even­tu­al­ly was arrest­ed by the Sovi­ets. In 2008 the Dobrovskii leg­end grew, thanks to the exhi­bi­tion “Jews in the Ukrain­ian Lib­er­a­tion Move­ment,” staged by the Ukrain­ian Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice and the Insti­tute for Nation­al Mem­o­ry with the assis­tance of Via­tro­vych. Draw­ing on Dobrovskii’s arrest file in the archives of the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice, the exhi­bi­tion high­light­ed his line-up pic­ture and alleged role in the UPA, while notably offer­ing no more details.

    At this point, the myth of Jews hap­pi­ly serv­ing with Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists in WW2 began to be report­ed in pres­ti­gious out­lets like BBC Ukraine.

    After the Maid­an rev­o­lu­tion of 2014, and Viatrovych’s fur­ther rise with­in the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment, the Dobrovskii leg­end flour­ished. In 2015, at the promi­nent Kyiv-Mohy­la Uni­ver­si­ty, Via­tro­vych gave a lec­ture pre­sent­ing Dobrovskii as the arche­typ­al “Ukrain­ian Jew” in the UPA. Anoth­er exhi­bi­tion this past May again used Dobrovskii in the same vein. Even the largest Holo­caust Muse­um in Ukraine, locat­ed in Dnipro, high­lights Dobrovskii as a Jew “in the OUN-UPA.” 

    With this October’s hol­i­day, his pho­to and brief sto­ry has appeared fre­quent­ly in local pub­li­ca­tions, includ­ing at the West­er fund­ed Radio Svo­bo­da oper­at­ed by Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty (RFE/RL), which also pro­motes the myth of a Nation­al­ist Inter­na­tion­al. Dobrovskii’s name and pic­ture have become sym­bols of the alleged tol­er­ance and mul­ti-cul­tur­al­ism of Ukrain­ian World War Two nation­al­ism.

    How­ev­er, when I actu­al­ly read Dobrovskii’s file, the leg­end of the Jew eager to join the Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists quick­ly evap­o­rat­ed.

    Dobrovskii grew up in the Kyiv region, fin­ished law school, and was a Com­mu­nist par­ty mem­ber from 1929. As a Red Army sol­dier, he was cap­tured in 1941 and changed his name to Leonid Dubrovskii to appear Ukrain­ian.

    In this guise, he got out of cap­tiv­i­ty and went to north-west­ern Ukraine, where he acci­dent­ly met local Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists con­nect­ed to the local col­lab­o­ra­tionist police and admin­is­tra­tion, includ­ing the local may­or and lat­er UPA mem­ber, Myko­la Kryzhanovskii. Note­wor­thy is that Kryzhanovskii was well-known for his bru­tal­i­ty towards Jews. Not sus­pect­ing that Dobrovskii was Jew­ish and appre­ci­at­ing his edu­ca­tion, the nation­al­ists recruit­ed him to pro­duce pro­pa­gan­da.

    In con­trast to the shiny new nation­al­ist leg­end, Dobrovskii actu­al­ly con­cealed his Jew­ish­ness to his nation­al­ist ‘com­pa­tri­ots’ and was no enthu­si­as­tic sup­port­er of Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism. In fact, he was scared that they would find out who he real­ly was.

    When asked in his inter­ro­ga­tion about the rela­tion­ship between Jews and the nation­al­ists in gen­er­al, Dobrovskii not­ed that “Jews could not for­mal­ly” join the Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists. He feared nation­al­ist ret­ri­bu­tion against his wife and child. Dobrovskii also tried to feign sick­ness to avoid work­ing for the nation­al­ists and on numer­ous occa­sions tried to avoid con­tact, but was pres­sured to con­tin­ue his ser­vice. On mul­ti­ple occa­sions, sol­diers came to his home to bring him to meet­ings.

    Dobrovskii had well-found­ed rea­sons for his reluc­tance and fear. He felt that Ukraine’s nation­al­ists, who delib­er­ate­ly helped staff local police forces under the Ger­man Nazi forces, were com­plic­it in the geno­cide of the Jews.

    In 1943, he not­ed, nation­al­ist detach­ments “car­ried out the mass mur­der of the Pol­ish pop­u­la­tion” in west­ern Ukraine. He described the rad­i­cal­iz­ing influ­ence of West Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists on Ukrain­ian youth and observed that they spread “enmi­ty toward Jews, Rus­sians and Poles.” He also observed nation­al­ist vio­lence and “ter­ror” against Ukraini­ans, includ­ing the mur­der of two church lead­ers by UPA.

    He did not even believe in the nation­al­ist claims that they were fight­ing the Ger­mans, remark­ing that they “did not kill a sin­gle­lo­cal Ger­man [Nazi] leader in the area” of Vol­hy­nia.

    We might ask: Did Via­tro­vych and his sup­port­ers think that no one would ever read Dobrovskii’s arrest file? Did they them­selves read the entire file? Did they arbi­trar­i­ly choose to dis­miss all evi­dence of his fear of the nation­al­ists, and of their bru­tal­i­ty, as ‘Sovi­et dis­tor­tions’?

    In that case, one would think they would at least men­tion and address a source that mas­sive­ly con­tra­dicts the myth they’ve have been embell­ish­ing and spread­ing. Archives are not buf­fets from which nation­al­ist pub­lic rela­tions activists can choose the most appeal­ing morsels. Instead, research requires con­tex­tu­al­iza­tion, not to men­tion cross-check­ing.

    Sad­ly, we know this is not the first time that nation­al­ist activists have spread a fake nar­ra­tive about Jews and nation­al­ists, as in the case of Stel­la Krentsbakh/Kreutzbach, a fic­ti­tious Jew­ess who, accord­ing to her ‘auto­bi­og­ra­phy’, forged by a nation­al­ist pro­pa­gan­dist in the 1950s, thanked “God and the Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army” for hav­ing sur­vived the war and the Holo­caust.

    Sim­i­lar­ly, how is it that for almost a decade now Ukrain­ian media and parts of acad­e­mia have sim­ply trust­ed the state­ments of high­ly – and trans­par­ent­ly – moti­vat­ed nation­al­ist activists with­out both­er­ing to check their sto­ry? The archives are open, after all. Are Ukrain­ian media and west­ern out­lets like Radio Svo­bo­da inca­pable or unwill­ing to check infor­ma­tion pro­vid­ed by a Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment body offi­cial­ly ded­i­cat­ed to the Ukrain­ian his­tor­i­cal record?

    In a post-Maid­an land­scape where an inde­pen­dent media and acad­e­my are vital to the integri­ty of Ukrain­ian democ­ra­cy and its inte­gra­tion in Europe, this case should force some reassess­ment of the degree to which Ukraine’s pub­lic can access facts and not pro­pa­gan­da.

    ...

    Shock­ing as this case may be, Ukraine is hard­ly alone in its efforts to white­wash its past and ele­vate con­tro­ver­sial nation­al­ist lead­ers. Through­out East­ern Europe, be it in Hun­gary, Poland, or Lithua­nia, the strug­gle to deal with a dif­fi­cult, often anti-Semit­ic past in an hon­est, pro­duc­tive man­ner in an uncer­tain present looms large for the future of the region.

    ———-

    “Ukraine’s Invent­ed a ‘Jew­ish-Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ist’ to White­wash Its Nazi-era Past Haaretz’ by Jared McBride; Haaretz; 11/09/2017

    “In con­trast to the shiny new nation­al­ist leg­end, Dobrovskii actu­al­ly con­cealed his Jew­ish­ness to his nation­al­ist ‘com­pa­tri­ots’ and was no enthu­si­as­tic sup­port­er of Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism. In fact, he was scared that they would find out who he real­ly was.”

    Yep, the only rea­son Dobrovskii was allowed to work for the UPA was because he hid his iden­ti­ty. That’s how mul­ti-cul­tur­al the UPA was:

    ...
    Dobrovskii grew up in the Kyiv region, fin­ished law school, and was a Com­mu­nist par­ty mem­ber from 1929. As a Red Army sol­dier, he was cap­tured in 1941 and changed his name to Leonid Dubrovskii to appear Ukrain­ian.

    In this guise, he got out of cap­tiv­i­ty and went to north-west­ern Ukraine, where he acci­dent­ly met local Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists con­nect­ed to the local col­lab­o­ra­tionist police and admin­is­tra­tion, includ­ing the local may­or and lat­er UPA mem­ber, Myko­la Kryzhanovskii. Note­wor­thy is that Kryzhanovskii was well-known for his bru­tal­i­ty towards Jews. Not sus­pect­ing that Dobrovskii was Jew­ish and appre­ci­at­ing his edu­ca­tion, the nation­al­ists recruit­ed him to pro­duce pro­pa­gan­da.
    ...

    And as Dobrovskii him­self said dur­ing an inter­ro­ga­tion, “Jews could not for­mal­ly join the Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist”, and nei­ther would any Jews want to because these Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist were staffing local police forces under the Nazi occu­pa­tion and car­ry­ing out the geno­cide of the Jews:

    ...
    When asked in his inter­ro­ga­tion about the rela­tion­ship between Jews and the nation­al­ists in gen­er­al, Dobrovskii not­ed that “Jews could not for­mal­ly” join the Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists. He feared nation­al­ist ret­ri­bu­tion against his wife and child. Dobrovskii also tried to feign sick­ness to avoid work­ing for the nation­al­ists and on numer­ous occa­sions tried to avoid con­tact, but was pres­sured to con­tin­ue his ser­vice. On mul­ti­ple occa­sions, sol­diers came to his home to bring him to meet­ings.

    Dobrovskii had well-found­ed rea­sons for his reluc­tance and fear. He felt that Ukraine’s nation­al­ists, who delib­er­ate­ly helped staff local police forces under the Ger­man Nazi forces, were com­plic­it in the geno­cide of the Jews.

    In 1943, he not­ed, nation­al­ist detach­ments “car­ried out the mass mur­der of the Pol­ish pop­u­la­tion” in west­ern Ukraine. He described the rad­i­cal­iz­ing influ­ence of West Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists on Ukrain­ian youth and observed that they spread “enmi­ty toward Jews, Rus­sians and Poles.” He also observed nation­al­ist vio­lence and “ter­ror” against Ukraini­ans, includ­ing the mur­der of two church lead­ers by UPA.

    He did not even believe in the nation­al­ist claims that they were fight­ing the Ger­mans, remark­ing that they “did not kill a sin­gle­lo­cal Ger­man [Nazi] leader in the area” of Vol­hy­nia.
    ...

    “He did not even believe in the nation­al­ist claims that they were fight­ing the Ger­mans, remark­ing that they “did not kill a sin­gle­lo­cal Ger­man [Nazi] leader in the area” of Vol­hy­nia.”

    Dobrovskii basi­cal­ly called the Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists Nazis. And that’s the guy who’s mem­o­ry is cur­rent­ly being hor­ri­bly maligned by Ukrain­ian Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­o­ry in order to prove the UPA was mul­ti-eth­nic, mul­ti-cul­tur­al, and demo­c­ra­t­ic.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 9, 2017, 3:19 pm
  11. Well, this should be grim­ly fas­ci­nat­ing to watch play out: The Trump admin­is­tra­tion just approved the sale of sniper rifles and, more sig­nif­i­cant­ly, anti-tank Javelin mis­siles to Ukraine. It’s a move some­thing peo­ple in the US gov­ern­ment and NATO has called for going back to ear­ly 2015, but the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion report­ed­ly resist­ed it over con­cerns that it could turn the con­flict in Ukraine into a much more direct proxy-war between the US and Rus­sia and exac­er­bate the con­flict. But Trump just did it:

    Newsweek

    Trump Sends Tank-Killing Mis­sile To Fight Rus­sia in Ukraine, But What Can It Do?

    By John Halti­wanger
    On 12/26/17 at 5:53 PM

    The Trump admin­is­tra­tion approved the sale of anti-tank mis­siles to Ukraine on Fri­day as it con­tin­ues to fight pro-Russ­ian forces in the east­ern part of the coun­try, a move that has angered the Krem­lin and sig­ni­fies the U.S. gov­ern­men­t’s esca­lat­ing involve­ment in the con­flict.

    The deci­sion to sell the Javelin mis­siles also comes not long after the Trump admin­is­tra­tion approved a lim­it­ed weapons sale between Amer­i­can man­u­fac­tur­ers and Ukraine of Mod­el M107A1 sniper sys­tems, ammu­ni­tion and asso­ci­at­ed equip­ment.

    “The Unit­ed States has decid­ed to pro­vide Ukraine enhanced defen­sive capa­bil­i­ties as part of our effort to help Ukraine build its long-term defense capac­i­ty, to defend its sov­er­eign­ty and ter­ri­to­r­i­al integri­ty, and to deter fur­ther aggres­sion,” U.S. State Depart­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert told The Wall Street Jour­nal on Fri­day.

    The price of the sale was not revealed.

    The Ukraine con­flict has tak­en some­what of a back­seat to oth­er glob­al issues in 2017, but it still rages on in a stale­mate. Since it began in 2014, the com­bat in Ukraine has claimed more than 10,000 lives and dis­placed more than 1.6 mil­lion peo­ple, accord­ing to the Unit­ed Nations. There are rough­ly 40 armed clash­es per day as a sup­posed cease­fire is habit­u­al­ly vio­lat­ed in a con­flict that has stretched more than three years. Rus­sia has faced tough eco­nom­ic sanc­tions over its activ­i­ties in Ukraine, such as the annex­a­tion of Crimea, but this has had lit­tle impact on its mil­i­tary actions.

    John Herb­st, who served as U.S. ambas­sador to Ukraine from 2003 to 2006, recent­ly told Newsweek that pro­vid­ing Javelin anti-tank mis­siles to Kiev could sig­nif­i­cant­ly improve the sit­u­a­tion for Ukraine, which had pre­vi­ous­ly sought the weapons. “The Rus­sians have used tanks effec­tive­ly to take Ukrain­ian ter­ri­to­ry and kill Ukraini­ans,” Herb­st said. “Javelin anti-tank mis­siles would make it much more dan­ger­ous and dif­fi­cult to do that.”

    The mis­siles are light­weight, pow­er­ful, expen­sive, and high­ly reg­u­lat­ed due to their reli­a­bil­i­ty in hit­ting tar­gets, accord­ing The Nation­al Inter­est. The U.S.-made mis­sile, which first entered ser­vice in 1996, has proven itself reli­able across mul­ti­ple bat­tle­fields, includ­ing Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s fired from the shoul­der and tracks tar­gets via infrared (heat sig­na­ture). Instead of tar­get­ing the front or sides of tanks, which are thick with armor, the mis­sile flies in an arc and hits the top of tank where the armor is weak (see video below for a demon­stra­tion).

    The State Depart­ment approved the sale of Javelin mis­siles in Novem­ber to Geor­gia, which waged a war with Rus­sia in 2008 and con­tin­ues to fight with its north­ern neigh­bor over South Osse­tia and Abk­hazia. The sale, worth $75 mil­lion, includ­ed 410 Javelin Mis­siles and 72 Javelin launch units.

    In the wake of the announce­ment of the new arms sale to Ukraine, Rus­sia sug­gest­ed it would exac­er­bate the con­flict and serve as an imped­i­ment to any peace­keep­ing efforts, The New York Times report­ed. But Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko defend­ed the move in a Face­book post, thank­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump for his sup­port.

    ...

    ———-

    “Trump Sends Tank-Killing Mis­sile To Fight Rus­sia in Ukraine, But What Can It Do?” by John Halti­wanger; Newsweek; 12/26/2017

    “The deci­sion to sell the Javelin mis­siles also comes not long after the Trump admin­is­tra­tion approved a lim­it­ed weapons sale between Amer­i­can man­u­fac­tur­ers and Ukraine of Mod­el M107A1 sniper sys­tems, ammu­ni­tion and asso­ci­at­ed equip­ment.”

    Javelin mis­siles and sniper rifles for Ukraine. What’s next? We’ll see, but giv­en the like­li­hood that these weapons are going to lead to an esca­la­tion in the con­flict it should­n’t be sur­pris­ing if this is just the start of a larg­er flow of lethal mil­i­tary aid. As the arti­cle notes, there’s 40 armed clash­es a day on aver­age, which is the kind of sit­u­a­tion that sniper rifles and anti-tank mis­siles should quite use­ful in:

    ...
    The Ukraine con­flict has tak­en some­what of a back­seat to oth­er glob­al issues in 2017, but it still rages on in a stale­mate. Since it began in 2014, the com­bat in Ukraine has claimed more than 10,000 lives and dis­placed more than 1.6 mil­lion peo­ple, accord­ing to the Unit­ed Nations. There are rough­ly 40 armed clash­es per day as a sup­posed cease­fire is habit­u­al­ly vio­lat­ed in a con­flict that has stretched more than three years. Rus­sia has faced tough eco­nom­ic sanc­tions over its activ­i­ties in Ukraine, such as the annex­a­tion of Crimea, but this has had lit­tle impact on its mil­i­tary actions.
    ...

    So what’s next? Well, as the fol­low­ing arti­cle from back in August notes, the aid that the Trump admin­is­tra­tion agreed to is part of a pro­pos­al that includ­ed oth­er forms of mil­i­tary aid. Like anti-air­craft weapons. Might anti-air­craft mis­siles be what’s next? Well, as the arti­cle also notes, the sep­a­ratists don’t actu­al­ly have an air force, so it would be a curi­ous deci­sion to start send­ing them anti-air­craft weapons. But the same peo­ple who per­suad­ed the Trump admin­is­tra­tion to send sniper rifles and Javelin mis­siles also sug­gest­ed anti-air­craft weapons, so we can’t rule it out:

    The New York Times

    Pen­ta­gon and State Depart­ment Said to Pro­pose Arm­ing Ukraine

    By ERIC SCHMITT and ANDREW E. KRAMER
    AUG. 1, 2017

    WASHINGTON — The Pen­ta­gon and State Depart­ment have pro­posed to the White House a plan to sup­ply Ukraine with anti-tank mis­siles and oth­er arms, accord­ing to Defense Depart­ment offi­cials.

    The pro­posed trans­fer — which also would include anti­air­craft arms that would be defined as defen­sive weapon­ry — comes as fight­ing between Ukrain­ian troops and Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists has increased in recent days, and the Unit­ed States is tak­ing steps to deter aggres­sive mil­i­tary actions by Moscow.

    The plan by the Pen­ta­gon and State Depart­ment has been pre­sent­ed to the White House, but no deci­sion has been made, said a Defense Depart­ment offi­cial, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to dis­cuss a pro­pos­al still under review. It was not clear if Pres­i­dent Trump had been briefed on the pro­pos­al.

    Whether to pro­vide more sub­stan­tial weapon­ry to Kiev’s belea­guered forces has embroiled Amer­i­can pol­i­cy mak­ers for sev­er­al years.

    Two years ago, eight for­mer senior Amer­i­can offi­cials urged the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion to send $3 bil­lion in defen­sive arms and equip­ment to Ukraine, includ­ing anti-armor mis­siles, recon­nais­sance drones, armored Humvees and radars that can deter­mine the loca­tion of ene­my rock­et and artillery fire.

    Pres­i­dent Oba­ma ulti­mate­ly decid­ed against pro­vid­ing such lethal assis­tance, despite a series of strik­ing rever­sals that Ukraine’s forces suf­fered on the bat­tle­field.

    Fear­ing that the pro­vi­sion of defen­sive weapons might tempt Pres­i­dent Vladimir V. Putin of Rus­sia to raise the stakes, the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion lim­it­ed Amer­i­can aid to “non­lethal” items, includ­ing body armor, night-vision gog­gles, first aid kits and engi­neer­ing equip­ment.

    But the issue was rekin­dled when Mr. Trump took office.

    Under the new pro­pos­al, which was report­ed ear­li­er by The Wall Street Jour­nal, the admin­is­tra­tion would pro­vide anti-tank weapons, most like­ly Javelin mis­siles, as well as pos­si­bly anti­air­craft weapons, in addi­tion to oth­er arms. Ukraine has long sought Javelins to counter Russ­ian-made armored vehi­cles in rebel-held areas.

    “They are mak­ing the same pro­pos­al to the White House as we did, but tak­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ty posed by Russia’s retal­i­a­tion and, unfor­tu­nate­ly, I sus­pect, some move­ment on the ground in Ukraine,” said Eve­lyn Farkas, the Pentagon’s top Rus­sia pol­i­cy offi­cial at the end of the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion. “We should have our eyes on that.”

    While it has not sup­plied anti-tank mis­siles thus far, the Amer­i­can mil­i­tary has been assist­ing the Ukrain­ian army by train­ing sol­diers in meth­ods to halt armored vehi­cles with­out mis­siles, such as by lay­ing traps of wire that coil into the treads of tracked vehi­cles.

    The Amer­i­can train­ing at the Yavoriv base in west­ern Ukraine is focused on forg­ing a dis­ci­plined, pro­fes­sion­al mil­i­tary from the mix of vol­un­teer groups that first fought the Russ­ian incur­sion, rather than plac­ing bets on any high-tech weapons sys­tems.

    The util­i­ty of anti­air­craft weapon­ry, for exam­ple, is unclear, as the Russ­ian-backed rebel army has no air force. The war is fought along a line of trench­es that has not moved much since Feb­ru­ary 2015.

    ...

    ———-

    “Pen­ta­gon and State Depart­ment Said to Pro­pose Arm­ing Ukraine” by ERIC SCHMITT and ANDREW E. KRAMER; The New York Times; 08/01/2017

    “Under the new pro­pos­al, which was report­ed ear­li­er by The Wall Street Jour­nal, the admin­is­tra­tion would pro­vide anti-tank weapons, most like­ly Javelin mis­siles, as well as pos­si­bly anti­air­craft weapons, in addi­tion to oth­er arms. Ukraine has long sought Javelins to counter Russ­ian-made armored vehi­cles in rebel-held areas.”

    That was the Pen­tagon’s and State Depart­men­t’s pro­pos­al: Javelin mis­siles, as well as pos­si­bly anti­air­craft weapons, in addi­tion to oth­er arms.

    And yet the sep­a­ratists don’t actu­al­ly have an air force:

    ...
    The util­i­ty of anti­air­craft weapon­ry, for exam­ple, is unclear, as the Russ­ian-backed rebel army has no air force. The war is fought along a line of trench­es that has not moved much since Feb­ru­ary 2015.
    ...

    Why the pro­pos­al for anti-air­craft mis­siles? Well, keep in mind that, while the sep­a­ratists don’t have an air force, they prob­a­bly have drones or at least can get their hands on drones rel­a­tive­ly eas­i­ly. And accord­ing to a report back in June, the Pen­ta­gon recent­ly mod­i­fied shoul­der-fired stinger mis­siles to shoot small down drones that are dif­fi­cult for reg­u­lar Stinger mis­siles to hit. So it’s not at all incon­ceiv­able that the anti-air­craft weapons the Pen­ta­gon and State Depart­ment have in mind is specif­i­cal­ly Stinger mis­siles for the pur­pose of shoot­ing down sep­a­ratist drones.

    Also keep in mind that the shoul­der-launched stringer mis­siles of weapons that ter­ror­ists would love to get their hands on and the Ukrain­ian troops get­ting trained on these sys­tems just might include the neo-Nazis fight­ing in Ukraine’s army get­ting trained by US mil­i­tary advi­sors like the Azov batal­lion. When you read...

    ...
    The Amer­i­can train­ing at the Yavoriv base in west­ern Ukraine is focused on forg­ing a dis­ci­plined, pro­fes­sion­al mil­i­tary from the mix of vol­un­teer groups that first fought the Russ­ian incur­sion, rather than plac­ing bets on any high-tech weapons sys­tems.
    ...

    ...that “mix of vol­un­teers groups” includes a whole lot of neo-Nazis.

    In oth­er words, if Stinger mis­siles real­ly are part of the mil­i­tary pack­age, and just not yet announced, those lit­tle night­mares could eas­i­ly end up in neo-Nazi hands and the US mil­i­tary could even be the ones train­ing them on how to use them. We’ll see if that’s how it plays out, but we can’t rule it out. Yikes.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 27, 2017, 7:44 pm

Post a comment