- Spitfire List - http://spitfirelist.com -

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 [1].

You can sub­scribe to e‑mail alerts from Spitfirelist.com HERE [2].

You can sub­scribe to RSS feed from Spitfirelist.com HERE [2].

You can sub­scribe to the com­ments made on pro­grams and posts–an excel­lent source of infor­ma­tion in, and of, itself HERE [3].

This broad­cast was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment [4].

Svoboda leader Oleh Tiahnybok salutes. [5]

Svo­bo­da leader Oleh Tiah­ny­bok salutes.

Stephan Bandera, head of the OUN/B [6]

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. [7]

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 [8]. (Vovk’s pro­nounce­ment casts fur­ther doubt over the MH17 inves­ti­ga­tion.)

Pravy Sek­tor asso­ciate Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko [9] 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 [10] the orga­ni­za­tion along the lines of the OUN/B. Pre­vi­ous­ly, he had served in that same capac­i­ty [11] under Vik­tor Yuschenko [12], 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 [13] Yarosh while serv­ing in the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment.  Yarosh claims that the two col­lab­o­rat­ed on “anti-ter­ror­ist” [14] oper­a­tions con­duct­ed against eth­nic Rus­sians.

The SBU is also impli­cat­ed in the bomb­ing assas­si­na­tion [15] 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. [16]

Via­tro­vych heads the insti­tute for Nation­al Mem­o­ry, the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment agency that is imple­ment­ing the total per­ver­sion [17] 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. [18]

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 [19]. 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 [20]

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 [21]. 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 [22] 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 [23], 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 [24], 725 [25], 732 [26], 745 [27], 755 [28], 917 [29].)

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 [30] 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. [31]

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

  1. The Ukrain­ian Azov Bat­tal­ion’s cre­ation [32] of a polit­i­cal par­ty.
  2. The mus­ings by that par­ty’s spokesper­son about the pos­si­ble use of force [33] 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 [9] 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 [9] 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 [10] the orga­ni­za­tion along the lines of the OUN/B. Pre­vi­ous­ly, he had served in that same capac­i­ty [11] under Vik­tor Yuschenko [12], 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 [13] Yarosh while serv­ing in the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment.  Yarosh claims that the two col­lab­o­rat­ed on “anti-ter­ror­ist” [14] oper­a­tions con­duct­ed against eth­nic Rus­sians.

“Ukrain­ian Gen­er­al Calls for Destruc­tion of Jews” by Sam Sokol; The Jew­ish Chron­i­cle; 5/11/2017. [7]

“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 [8]. (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. [8]

. . . . 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 [15] 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. [15]

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 [34]. 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. [35]

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 [36], 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 [37] (OCCRP) and Slidstvo.info released the doc­u­men­tary on Wednes­day, when it was screened on Ukrain­ian TV.

Inves­ti­ga­tors have said [38] 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 [39] 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 [40] 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 [41] 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 [10] the orga­ni­za­tion along the lines of the OUN/B.

Pre­vi­ous­ly, he had served in that same capac­i­ty [11] under Vik­tor Yuschenko [12], 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 [13] Yarosh while serv­ing in the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment.  Yarosh claims that the two col­lab­o­rat­ed on “anti-ter­ror­ist” [14] 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. [11]

. . . 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. [10]

. . . . 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 [13] Yarosh while serv­ing in the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment.  Yarosh claims that the two col­lab­o­rat­ed on “anti-ter­ror­ist” [14] 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.  [14]

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. [13]

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. [16]

“Ukraine Inves­ti­gates 94-year-old Jew­ish Vet­er­an over Nationalist’s Death in 1952” by Alec Luhn; The Guardian; 5/3/2017. [16]

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 [42] 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 [43] 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 [44] 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 [45] 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 [46] 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 [42] 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. [18]

Nowa­days, Every­one Is a Poten­tial Tar­get in Ukraine” by Veroni­ka Pehe and Tom Row­ley; Polit­i­cal Cri­tique; 5/3/2017. [18]

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 [47]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 [48] 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 [49]. In Feb­ru­ary, activist Taras Bohay was attacked [50] 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 [51].

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 [52], 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 [53].

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 [54]. 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 [55]. The recent decom­mu­niza­tion laws are very con­tra­dic­to­ry. Street names have been changed, but also books, activ­i­ties and orga­ni­za­tions have been banned. Basi­cal­ly, the def­i­n­i­tions are so broad, that if you real­ly want to, you will find a rea­son to put any­one in prison. As Tom said, every­one is a detec­tive.

TR: A clas­sic instance of this took place in May last year, when a group of hack­ers released [56]the per­son­al infor­ma­tion of rough­ly 7,000 peo­ple who work in the media and more or less accused them of state trea­son. Ukraine’s lib­er­al com­men­tari­at was gen­er­al­ly in favour [57].

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 [55]. 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 [58]

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 [19]. 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. [59]

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 [60].

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 [61] of the attack on Roma homes in Loshchyniv­ka, 27 August.

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

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

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

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

Old hatreds, new sparks

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

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

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

“A TV poll [62]showed that 65% of Ukraini­ans sup­port­ed the pogroms against Roma in Loshchyniv­ka,” said Zem­fi­ra Kon­dur, Vice-Pres­i­dent of the Roma Women’s Fund Chirik­li. “Far-right groups are using that and we’re afraid that we will have more cas­es of hate attacks against Roma in dif­fer­ent areas.”

In the wake of the village’s expul­sion of its Roma, the Azov bat­tal­ion, an influ­en­tial nation­al­ist group which has units fight­ing in east­ern Ukraine [63], issued an inflam­ma­to­ry state­ment [64]sup­port­ing the move. The state­ment brand­ed Loschynivka’s Roma an “eth­nic mafia” led by “Gyp­sy Barons”. It false­ly claimed they ran drug lab­o­ra­to­ries in the vil­lage and were guilty of “rob­beries, phys­i­cal vio­lence, intim­i­da­tion and drug traf­fick­ing.”

Days lat­er, in Uzh­gorod, a town 600km north­west of Loshchyniv­ka, a group of gun-wield­ing young men assault­ed a Roma fam­i­ly, fir­ing shots and beat­ing them [65]Sus­pect­ing ultra­na­tion­al­ist motives, one of their vic­tims told his attack­ers that he had recent­ly returned from the front. They left abrupt­ly. The fam­i­ly said they had no idea who they were or what had pro­voked the vio­lence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Crim­i­nal ele­ments”

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

Most of these groups are con­cen­trat­ed in west­ern and south­ern Ukraine after thou­sands of Roma fled fight­ing and per­se­cu­tion in areas of east­ern Ukraine occu­pied by rebel and Russ­ian forces [66]. With­out doc­u­ments, many are unable to access the assis­tance that dis­placed Ukraini­ans are enti­tled to (though don’t always receive [67]) 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 [68]. “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 [69].

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” [70]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 [71].

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 [72]

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

7a. The Avoz Bat­tal­ion [32] has start­ed a new poli­tit­cal par­ty.

“Nation­al­ist Azov Bat­tal­ion Starts Polit­i­cal Par­ty” by Bermet Talant; Kyiv Post; 10/15/2016. [32]

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 [73]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. [33]

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 [73]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 [74] 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 [21]. 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. [21]

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 [23], 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 [24], 725 [25], 732 [26], 745 [27], 755 [28], 917 [29].)

“Evi­dence Sug­gests Rus­sia Behind Hack of French Pres­i­dent-Elect” by Sean Gal­lagher; Ars Tech­ni­ca; 5/8/2017. [22]

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 [75]: name of employ­ee for Russ­ian govt secu­ri­ty con­trac­tor Evri­ka appears 9 times in meta­da­ta for “xls_cendric.rar” leak archive pic.twitter.com/jyhlmldlbL [76]— Wik­iLeaks (@wikileaks) May 6, 2017 [77]

Evri­ka (“Eure­ka”) ZAO [78] 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 [79]). 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 [80], 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 [81]— Pwn All The Things (@pwnallthethings) May 6, 2017 [82]

The e‑mail address of the uploader, frankmacher1@gmx.de [23], is reg­is­tered with a Ger­man free web­mail provider used pre­vi­ous­ly in 2016 Pawn Storm / APT28 phish­ing attacks against the Chris­t­ian Demo­c­ra­t­ic Union [83], 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 [30] 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. [31]

“U.S. Hack­er Linked to Fake Macron Doc­u­ments, Says Cyber­se­cu­ri­ty Firm” by David Gau­thi­er-Vil­lars; The Wall Street Jour­nal; 5/16/2017. [84]

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 [85], 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 [86] 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 [87] 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 [88] 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 [85], 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.”