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FTR #993 Update on Ukraine (Preparations for WWIII?)

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

Combat helmets of the Azov Battalion, which John Conyers opposed.

Introduction: Highlighting recent, alarming aspects of the Ukraine crisis, the broadcast underscores how past and present may signal the beginning of World War III in a manner not unlike how fractious events in the Balkans triggered the First World War.

With Ukraine now receiving U.S. arms, including modified stinger anti-aircraft missiles, the Nazi “punisher” battalions in that country’s East may be in a position to trigger one or more provocations that could lead to conflict between nuclear-armed Russia, NATO and the U.S.

Nazi elements active in the Maidan coup spawned the Azov and other “punisher” units. With more information surfacing that indicates that the Maidan sniper shootings were a provocation-derived event, the possibility that Svoboda and Pravy Sektor-linked elements could drive developments in the Donbass toward World War III is one that deserves more attention than it will receive.

Since the Donbass militias have no air force, the stingers would appear to be deployed in the event of a wider, Ukraine/Russia war.

A frightening development, virtually unreported in the U.S., concerns unilateral moves by the Poroshenko government to move away from the Minsk peace plan and to rebrand the conflict in Eastern Ukraine as “occupation” by an “aggressor” Russia.

This appears to pave the way for a wider, deeper conflict which could, ultimately, draw in the U.S. and NATO: ” . . . . According to [Dmitri] Kiselyov, the new law, which awaits Poroshenko’s signature, makes preparations for war and includes language indicating a bellicose new approach to the conflict. The mission in Donbass is no longer described as an ‘anti-terrorist operation.’ Rather, the mission now is to send armed forces against ‘military formations of the Russian Federation’ in Donbass.

Military headquarters are established to coordinate the operation to be waged in Donbass. While up until now the self-declared republics of Donetsk and Lugansk were considered under the Minsk Accords as negotiating parties, now there are only ‘occupation administrations’ of the Russian Federation on these territories, with Russia identified as an ‘aggressor.’ . . . .”

The danger of Poroshenko seeking to play the “war card” to distract from Urkaine’s dire economic circumstances and his own failed government are real. Conflict with Russia could also deflect from Trump’s and the GOP’s failures at home: ” . . . . On the economic front, the European Union has refused to extend 600 million euros of credit to Ukraine due to corruption. The International Monetary Fund recently refused a tranche of $800 million over failure to introduce reforms. Meanwhile, in 2019 Ukraine is due to start repaying earlier loans. This will come to $14 billion a year, which amounts to half the state budget of Ukraine.

Due to dire economic conditions, Poroshenko and other government officials in Kiev have become deeply unpopular, and with diminished chances for electoral success may see war as politically advantageous. . . .”

The Trump administration just approved the sale of sniper rifles and, more significantly, anti-tank Javelin missiles to Ukraine. This should be evaluated against the background of the recent moves by Kiev (increasing the danger for an escalated conflict) as well as  the activities of Kurt Volker, the “ex”-CIA officer, NATO functionary, George W. Bush State Department official and Atlantic Councicl Senior advisor serving as the Trump administration’s point-man in Ukraine.

Might anti-aircraft missiles be next? As the article below notes, the Donbass separatists don’t actually have an air force, so it would be a curious decision to start sending them anti-aircraft weapons. ” . . . . 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. . . . 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. . . .”

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. It’s not at all inconceivable that the anti-aircraft weapons the Pentagon and State Department have in mind are those Stinger missiles, modified for the purpose of shooting down separatist drones.

Also keep in mind that the shoulder-launched stringer missiles are among the weapons that terrorists would love to obtain and the Ukrainian troops getting trained on these systems may include the neo-Nazis fighting in Ukraine’s army getting trained by US military advisors like the Azov batallion” . . . . 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. . . .”

When you read that, remember that the “mix of volunteers groups” includes neo-Nazis, including the Azov Battalion.

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.

The arms sales described above are being realized under the supervision of Trump’s new point man for Ukraine, “ex”-CIA, State Department and NATO functionary Kurt Volker. From Volker’s Wikipedia entry: ” . . . . Volker began his career in foreign affairs as an analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency in 1986. . . . In July 2005, Volker became the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, serving in that position until he was appointed United States Permanent Representative to NATO in July 2008 by President George W. Bush. . . . and a Senior Advisor at the Atlantic Council since October 2009. . . . .”

We note that the arms sales to Ukraine effected on Volker’s watch come after the removal of John Conyers (D-MI), one of the most vociferous Congressional opponents of arming and training the Azov Battalion and similar Nazi units.

Next, we take stock of how Conyers, “The Kremlin’s Man in Congress,” was removed following a gambit by “Alt-Right” blogger, Trump ally and misogynist Mike Cernovich to finance the solicitation of professionally damaging information about political opponents. “. . . . In November, the Trump-backing social media agitator Mike Cernovich offered to pay $10,000.00 for details of any congressional sexual harassment settlements, and said on Twitter that he would cover the expenses of ‘any VICTIM of a Congressman who wants to come forward to tell her story.’ Shortly before posting that offer, a source provided Mr. Cernovich with a copy of a sexual harassment settlement that led in December to the resignation of Representative John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan, until then the longest-serving member of the House. . . .”

In FTR #981, we examined the Ukrainian fascist foundation of much of the “Russia-Gate” psy-op,” following that with detailed examination of the possibility that Paul Manafort may have actually been working as a U.S./Western intelligence asset or agent, deliberately precipitating the Maidan sniper fire that sounded the death knell for the Yanukovich regime.

This program updates the boiling sewer that is Ukraine, utilizing information from German Foreign Policy (which feeds along the lower right-hand page of this website.) We take note of several key points:

  1. Corruption in Ukraine remains rampant and “rule by oligarch” continues unabated under Poroshenko, an oligarch himself and the former finance minister for Yanukovich.
  2. Supporters of Maidan have been highly critical of the continuation of this grotesque status quo.
  3. Among the perpetrators of ongoing, institutionalized corruption in Ukraine has been the son of Arsen Avakov, the interior minister and a patron of the Nazi Azov Battalion. ” . . . . Corruption continues at high levels. For example, the case of Interior Minister Arsen Avakov’s son, who sold backpacks to the army at six times their normal price, allegedly causing damage in the six-digit euros. . . .”
  4. Investigation of Avakov, jr’s activities has been [predictably] interdicted. ” . . . .When the National Anti-Corruption Bureau searched the man’s house, the National Guard, under the responsibility of the interior minister intervened and halted the search – under the pretext of having to vacate the building because of a bomb threat. . . .”
  5. The two article series sets forth greater detail on the sniper shootings at the Maidan, which look more and more to be a provocation. ” . . . . In February 2016, Maidan activist Ivan Bubenchik confessed that in the course of the massacre, he had shot Ukrainian police officers. Bubenchik confirmed this in a film that had attracted international attention.[10] . . . .”
  6. An Italian TV documentary alleges that ethnic Georgian snipers were involved in the Maidan shootings, further indicating that the Maidan sniper shootings were a possible provocation. (The documentary does come from a Berlusconi-controlled outlet, however it dovetails credibly with other available information. UNA-UNSO, the latest iteration of the UPA was very active in the caucasus and Chechens have been working with Pravy Sektor and elements associated with the Azov Battalion. As discussed in FTR #850, former Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili became the governor of Odessa province and is very close to Ihor Kolomoisky, another patron of the Azov Battalion.) In an Italian TV documentary on the February 20, 2014 Maidan massacre, serious accusations were made against several politicians in Ukraine. . . .  In the documentary, three Georgians, incriminating themselves for their own participation, report that some of the leaders of the protests, who are today members of Kiev’s parliament, had supplied weapons to the snipers, who, at the time, indiscriminately killed policemen and demonstrators. Officially, this massacre is still being attributed to Ukrainian repressive organs or to unspecified Russians. The Georgians also report that the current speaker of the parliament, Andriy Parubiy, was often seen in the hotel, from where the snipers were firing that day. As ‘Maidan Commander,’Parubiy had been in charge of controlling armed gangs on that square. The man, whose real role at the time remains unclear, was a guest at a conference held by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and a speaker at NATO events. . . .”
  7. Parubiy was one of the main organizers of the Orange Revolution, which brought Viktor Yuschenko to power and installed OUN/B derivative organizations in power in Ukraine, sort of a “pre-Maidan” Maidan.” . . . .  Following his retirement from the party, this experienced protest activist became one of the main organizers of the 2004 ‘Orange Revolution.’  . . .”
  8. Andriy Parubiy was the first defense minister of the Ukraine interim government and a member of the OUN/B-redux Svoboda Party. His role in the events dovetails with the possible participation of fascist and Nazi snipers who were to participate in the Azov Battalion. “. . . . The Georgians’ accusations also implicate, at least indirectly, the ‘Commander of the Maidan,’ Andriy Parubiy. Parubiy comes from the Ukrainian fascist scene. In the early 1990s he was one of the founders of the extreme right-wing Social National Party of Ukraine. Since 1996, he was the leader of its militarist street fighting subsidiary ‘Patriot of Ukraine.’ Following his retirement from the party, this experienced protest activist became one of the main organizers of the 2004 ‘Orange Revolution.’ In 2013, he assumed the same function at the Maidan, where he was responsible for none other than security and the ‘self-defense units,’ which were often made up of heavily armed thugs. In the Italian TV documentary, it was reported that Parubiy was going in and out of Hotel Ukraina, from where numerous deadly shots were being fired. Parubiy, claims that the hotel from which these shots were being fired – which was firmly under the Maidan demonstrators’ control – had been taken over ‘by snipers who arrived from Russia and who were controlled by Russia.’ . . .”

We conclude with another example of just what the contemporary Ukrainian political establishment is manifesting. Ukraine’s official understanding of its own WWII history and the Holocaust had another manifestation of Orwellian historical revisionism. This time it was by Poroshenko reinforcing the Orwellian revision. ” . . . . As we reported back in October, Ukrainian media outlet Radio Svoboda — the Ukrainian arm of the US Government-funded arm of RFERL — posted a picture from the US Holocaust Museum. It is an image of Polish Jews being deported to a death camp. There was just one problem. Radio Svoboda claimed the picture was from 1949 of Ukrainians being deported to Siberia. In fact, so effective was Radio Svoboda’s forgery that President Poroshenko himself tweeted it claiming it showed Ukrainians being deported. . . . Today it emerged that a major Ukrainian media outlet has struck again. In a December 20th article about the horrors of the NKVD (Soviet forerunner of the KGB), media outlet “Ukrinform” also borrowed a picture from the US Holocaust Museum, this time of Ukrainian Auxiliary Policemen shooting a Jewish child and mother — and fraudulently claimed it was actually of the NKVD shooting people. The caption reads in translation: ‘Atrocities of the Chekhists: the execution of a mother and child by the NKVD’. . . .”

Program Highlights Include:

  1. Review of the possible role of Nazi hacker, Glenn Greenwald associate and Ukraine resident Andrew “Weev” Auerenheimer in the high-profile hacks: ” . . . . [Peter W.] Smith also reached out to ‘Guccifer 2.0’—an alias the U.S. intelligence community has linked to Russian state hackers—and was advised to seek the help of a white nationalist hacker who lives in Ukraine. . . . [Pax] Johnson said he also suggested that Smith get in touch with Andrew Auernheimer, a hacker who goes by the alias “Weev” and has collaborated with Johnson in the past. . . .” We note that Charles C. Johnson, an associate of Mike Cernovich, was involved with this maneuver.
  2. Review of Atlantic Council fellow Dmitri Alperovitch (co-founder and chief technology officer of Crowdstrike, the cyber-security firm that led the charge to attribute the high-profile hacks to Russia. Kurt Volker is also closely affiliated with the Atlantic Council. ” . . . . Dmitri Alperovitch is also a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. . . . The connection between [Crowdstrike co-founder and chief technology officer Dmitri] Alperovitch and the Atlantic Council has gone largely unremarked upon, but it is relevant given that the Atlantic Council—which is is funded in part by the US State Department, NATO, the governments of Latvia and Lithuania, the Ukrainian World Congress, and the Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk—has been among the loudest voices calling for a new Cold War with Russia. As I pointed out in the pages of The Nation in November, the Atlantic Council has spent the past several years producing some of the most virulent specimens of the new Cold War propaganda. . . .

1. A frightening development, virtually unreported in the U.S., concerns unilateral moves by the Poroshenko government to move away from the Minsk peace plan and to rebrand the conflict in Eastern Ukraine as “occupation” by an “aggressor” Russia.

This appears to pave the way for a wider, deeper conflict which could, ultimately, draw in the U.S. and NATO: ” . . . . According to [Dmitri] Kiselyov, the new law, which awaits Poroshenko’s signature, makes preparations for war and includes language indicating a bellicose new approach to the conflict. The mission in Donbass is no longer described as an ‘anti-terrorist operation.’ Rather, the mission now is to send armed forces against ‘military formations of the Russian Federation’ in Donbass.

Military headquarters are established to coordinate the operation to be waged in Donbass. While up until now the self-declared republics of Donetsk and Lugansk were considered under the Minsk Accords as negotiating parties, now there are only ‘occupation administrations’ of the Russian Federation on these territories, with Russia identified as an ‘aggressor.’ . . . .”

The danger of Poroshenko seeking to play the “war card” to distract from Urkaine’s dire economic circumstances and his own failed government are real. Conflict with Russia could also deflect from Trump’s and the GOP’s failures at home: ” . . . . On the economic front, the European Union has refused to extend 600 million euros of credit to Ukraine due to corruption. The International Monetary Fund recently refused a tranche of $800 million over failure to introduce reforms. Meanwhile, in 2019 Ukraine is due to start repaying earlier loans. This will come to $14 billion a year, which amounts to half the state budget of Ukraine.

Due to dire economic conditions, Poroshenko and other government officials in Kiev have become deeply unpopular, and with diminished chances for electoral success may see war as politically advantageous. . . .”

“A Coming Russia-Ukraine War?” by Gilbert Doctorow; Consortiumnews.com; 1/21/2018.

A new draft law adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament and awaiting Petro Poroshenko’s signature threatens to escalate the Ukrainian conflict into a full-blown war, pitting nuclear-armed Russia against the United States and NATO, reports Gilbert Doctorow.

While much of America’s – and the world’s – attention focused this weekend reflecting on Donald Trump’s first year in the Oval Office, holding one-year anniversary events for the historic Women’s March and drawing up balance sheets of his promises and achievements, Russia has had a rather different issue on the front-burner: a possible war with Ukraine.

The situation in the Donbass region of south-eastern Ukraine has been a feature of Russia’s political talk shows for the past couple years, along with the military campaign in Syria and more recently the stages in the preparation for presidential elections on March 18.

Focus on the Donbass conflict increased in the closing weeks of 2017 as military action on the front lines separating the forces of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk enjoying Russian support from Ukrainian militias and armed forces reached an intensity not seen for more than a year. This is despite the heralded exchange of military prisoners by both sides before New Year’s under talks supervised by the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Kirill.

Then, this past Thursday came a wholly new development – a draft law passed by the Ukrainian Parliament that could effectively end Kiev’s participation in the conflict resolution process known as the Minsk Accords. Although observers in the United States and Western Europe may have missed it, many Russians believe this development amounts to a declaration of war.

Dmitri Kiselyov, head of all Russian television and radio news services, offered a sober analysis of the emotionally charged development on his Sunday evening news wrap-up today.

According to Kiselyov, the new law, which awaits Poroshenko’s signature, makes preparations for war and includes language indicating a bellicose new approach to the conflict. The mission in Donbass is no longer described as an “anti-terrorist operation.” Rather, the mission now is to send armed forces against “military formations of the Russian Federation” in Donbass.

Military headquarters are established to coordinate the operation to be waged in Donbass. While up until now the self-declared republics of Donetsk and Lugansk were considered under the Minsk Accords as negotiating parties, now there are only “occupation administrations” of the Russian Federation on these territories, with Russia identified as an “aggressor.”

“This makes it all the more convenient for Ukraine to start a war,” Kiselyov says, noting that it could have the added benefit of enabling Ukraine not to pay its foreign debts and to ensure Poroshenko’s continued grip on power.

A Vesti reporter on the ground in Donetsk confirmed with local residents their view that the law means war. They see the current moment on the front line as “the calm before the storm.” Donetsk soldiers at their trenches say they are fully ready to engage with the enemy.

While Kiselyov acknowledges that the draft law might not ultimately be implemented, it nevertheless reveals a growing mood in the Ukrainian capital in favor of escalation. The facts speak for themselves, Kiselyov says, with Poroshenko failing to adhere to the Minsk Accords – for example by organizing local elections in Donbass – or to observe ceasefires along the lines of contact. There are attacks and deaths every day and only counter force have pushed back recent Ukrainian attempts to gain territory.

Kiev has seemingly written off the population of the two self-proclaimed republics – cutting off all transport and telecoms links and failing to pay pensions and assistance to the needy. It closed the banking system and there are no commercial ties. For Kiev the two provinces are merely territory to take back from the occupiers, with the wellbeing of the local populations at best a secondary concern.

On the economic front, the European Union has refused to extend 600 million euros of credit to Ukraine due to corruption. The International Monetary Fund recently refused a tranche of $800 million over failure to introduce reforms. Meanwhile, in 2019 Ukraine is due to start repaying earlier loans. This will come to $14 billion a year, which amounts to half the state budget of Ukraine.

Due to dire economic conditions, Poroshenko and other government officials in Kiev have become deeply unpopular, and with diminished chances for electoral success may see war as politically advantageous.

And although there are indications that some Western leaders are fed up with Kiev, the United States has doubled down in its support for a military solution to the conflict. With military trainers now on the ground and the U.S. budgeting $350 million for security assistance to Ukraine, Washington has also recently started delivering lethal weapons including the Javelin anti-tank missile system free of charge to Kiev.

In contrast to the image of Trump administration policies being dictated by Moscow, as portrayed by proponents of Russia-gate conspiracy theories, the United States is instead moving towards deeper confrontation with the Kremlin in the geopolitical hotspot of Ukraine.

For its part, the Kremlin has very little to gain and a great deal to lose economically and diplomatically from a campaign now against Kiev. If successful, as likely would be the case given the vast disparity in military potential of the two sides, it could easily become a Pyrrhic victory.

But notwithstanding Kiselyov’s reassuring words on his Sunday evening news wrap-up, it may well be the case that Moscow feels it has no choice. Moves by Kiev to exacerbate the conflict must be quickly countered to prevent deeper intervention by the United States and its NATO allies and prevent the conditions for WWIII from taking hold.

2a. The Trump administration just approved the sale of sniper rifles and, more significantly, anti-tank Javelin missiles to Ukraine. This should be evaluated against the background of recent moves by Kiev which increase the danger for an escalated conflict, as well as  the activities of Kurt Volker, the “ex”-CIA officer, NATO functionary, George W. Bush State Department official and Atlantic Councicl Senior advisor serving as the Trump administration’s point-man in Ukraine.

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

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.

2b. Might anti-aircraft missiles be next? As the article below notes, the Donbass separatists don’t actually have an air force, so it would be a curious decision to start sending them anti-aircraft weapons. ” . . . . 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. . . . 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. . . .”

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. It’s not at all inconceivable that the anti-aircraft weapons the Pentagon and State Department have in mind are those Stinger missiles, modified for the purpose of shooting down separatist drones.

Also keep in mind that the shoulder-launched stringer missiles are among the weapons that terrorists would love to obtain and the Ukrainian troops getting trained on these systems may include the neo-Nazis fighting in Ukraine’s army getting trained by US military advisors like the Azov batallion” . . . . 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. . . .”

When you read that, remember that the “mix of volunteers groups” includes neo-Nazis, including the Azov Battalion.

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.

“Pentagon and State Department Said to Propose Arming Ukraine” by Eric Schmitt and Andrew E. Kramer; The New York Times; 08/01/2017

 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. . . .

3a. The arms sales described above are being realized under the supervision of Trump’s new point man for Ukraine, “ex”-CIA, State Department and NATO functionary Kurt Volker.

“Can Kurt Volker Solve the Ukraine Crisis?” by Curt Mills; The National Interest; 7/10/2017.

As Donald Trump spoke with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Hamburg late last week, his State Department announced the appointment of a tough-minded former NATO ambassador to serve as Washington’s new point man on Ukraine. His mandate is to help implement the Minsk agreements. Kurt Volker is widely respected as an accomplished diplomat, but in Ukraine he confronts his greatest challenge yet.

Volker was last seen in government in the early days of the Obama administration, a holdover at NATO installed by President George W. Bush. Volker had taken office a month before Russia invaded Georgia in August 2008. Whether such timing shaped Volker’s views on the Kremlin, or merely cemented them, is unclear. But it is largely undisputed, in both Washington and Moscow, that in choosing Volker, Rex Tillerson has opted to appoint a Russia hawk who also believes in diplomacy. This mixture may allow him to tackle successfully a dividing point between East and West that has thwarted previous efforts to resolve it. According to Paul Saunders, the executive director of the Center for the National Interest and a former George W. Bush administration official, “Kurt Volker is an experienced and tough-minded diplomat who knows how to combine principles and pragmatism into policy. He is widely respected across the political spectrum.”

“Although he may be seen as hawkish by the Russian side, he will certainly be taken seriously,” says Matthew Rojansky, director of the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center, of the new special representative for Ukraine negotiations, whose vaunted resume also includes stints at the National Security Council, CIA and Foreign Service. “Volker’s appointment will be welcomed by our European allies and by the Ukrainian government.” Tillerson, who travelled to the G-20 with Trump last week, called Volker “uniquely qualified” to move the Ukrainian conflict “in the direction of peace,” in a statement announcing the appointment. . . .

3b.  More about Kurt Volker’s background from is Wikipedia entry: ” . . . . Volker began his career in foreign affairs as an analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency in 1986. . . . In July 2005, Volker became the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, serving in that position until he was appointed United States Permanent Representative to NATO in July 2008 by President George W. Bush. . . . and a Senior Advisor at the Atlantic Council since October 2009. . . . .”

“Kurt Volker;” Wikipedia.com.

Volker began his career in foreign affairs as an analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency in 1986.[1]

In 1988, he joined the United States Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer in the United States Foreign Service.[1] While in the Foreign Service, he served in various assignments overseas including London and Brussels, and the US Embassy in Budapest (1994-1997). Volker was special assistant to the United States special envoy for Bosnia negotiations, Richard Holbrooke.

Volker served as a legislative fellow on the staff of Senator John McCain from 1997 to 1998. In 1998, he became first secretary of the US mission to NATO, and in 1999 he was sent to Deputy Director of NATO Secretary-General George Robertson’s private office, serving in that position until 2001.[4]

He then became acting director for European and Eurasian Affairs for the National Security Council, in that capacity he was in charge of US preparations for 2004 Istanbul summit of NATO members and the 2002 Prague summit. In July 2005, Volker became the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, serving in that position until he was appointed United States Permanent Representative to NATO in July 2008 by President George W. Bush.[4]Volker served in that position from July 2, 2008 to May 15, 2009.[4]

Volker went into the private sector in 2009, becoming an independent director at The Wall Street Fund Inc[5], where he worked until 2012. He was a member of the board of directors at Capital Guardian Funds Trust[6]beginning in 2013[7]. Volker was also an independent director at Evercore Wealth Management Macro Opportunity Fund until 2012[8].

Volker served as a senior advisor at McLarty Associates, a global consulting firm from 2010 – 2011.

In 2011, he joined BGR Group, a Washington-based lobbying firm and investment bank, where he currently serves as a managing director in the firm’s international group.[9]

He then became executive director of Arizona State University’s McCain Institute for International Leadership[10]when it was launched[11] in 2012.

He has been a Senior Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies since September 2009, and a Senior Advisor at the Atlantic Council since October 2009. . . . .

3c. The story we review next points out that Crowdstrike is headed by Dmitri Alperovitch a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, which is funded, in part, by the State Department, NATO, Lithuania, Latvia, the Ukrainian World Congress and Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk!

” . . . . Yet despite the scores of breathless media pieces that assert that Russia’s interference in the election is ‘case closed,’might some skepticism be in order? Some cyber experts say ‘yes.’ . . . Cyber-security experts have also weighed in. The security editor at Ars Technica observed that ‘Instead of providing smoking guns that the Russian government was behind specific hacks,’ the government report ‘largely restates previous private sector claims without providing any support for their validity.’ Robert M. Lee of the cyber-security company Dragos noted that the report ‘reads like a poorly done vendor intelligence report stringing together various aspects of attribution without evidence.’ Cybersecurity consultant Jeffrey Carr noted that the report ‘merely listed every threat group ever reported on by a commercial cybersecurity company that is suspected of being Russian-made and lumped them under the heading of Russian Intelligence Services (RIS) without providing any supporting evidence that such a connection exists.’ . . .”

“In this respect, it is worth noting that one of the commercial cybersecurity companies the government has relied on is Crowdstrike, which was one of the companies initially brought in by the DNC to investigate the alleged hacks.”

” . . . . Dmitri Alperovitch is also a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. . . . The connection between [Crowdstrike co-founder and chief technology officer Dmitri] Alperovitch and the Atlantic Council has gone largely unremarked upon, but it is relevant given that the Atlantic Council—which is is funded in part by the US State Department, NATO, the governments of Latvia and Lithuania, the Ukrainian World Congress, and the Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk—has been among the loudest voices calling for a new Cold War with Russia. As I pointed out in the pages of The Nation in November, the Atlantic Council has spent the past several years producing some of the most virulent specimens of the new Cold War propaganda. . . .

 “Is Skepticism Treason?” by James Carden; The Nation; 1/3/2017.

Despite the scores of media pieces which assert that Russia’s interference in the election is “case closed,” some cyber experts say skepticism is still in order.

The final days of 2016 were filled with more developments—some real, some not—in the ongoing story of Russia’s alleged interference in the US presidential election. On December 29, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security released a joint report that provided “technical details regarding the tools and infrastructure used by the Russian civilian and military intelligence Services (RIS) to compromise and exploit networks and endpoints associated with the U.S. election.”

In retaliation, the Obama administration announced that it was expelling 35 Russian diplomats, closing 2 diplomatic compounds in Maryland and New York, and applying sanctions on Russia’s intelligence service. A day later, December 30, The Washington Post reported that an electrical utility in Vermont had been infiltrated by the same Russian malware that used to hack the DNC.

Taken together, these events set off a wave of media condemnation not just of the Russian government, but of President-elect Donald J. Trump for what is widely believed to be his overly accommodative posture toward Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Yet despite the scores of breathless media pieces that assert that Russia’s interference in the election is “case closed,” might some skepticism be in order? Some cyber experts say “yes.”

As was quickly pointed out by the Burlington Free Press, The Washington Post’s story on the Vermont power grid was inaccurate. The malware was detected on a laptop that belonged to the utility but was not connected to the power plant. “The grid is not in danger,” said a spokesman for the Burlington utility. The Post has since amended its story with an editor’s note (as it did when its November 24 story on Russian “fake news” by reporter Craig Timberg was widely refuted) dialing back its original claims of Russian infiltration.

Cyber-security experts have also weighed in. The security editor at Ars Technica observed that “Instead of providing smoking guns that the Russian government was behind specific hacks,” the government report “largely restates previous private sector claims without providing any support for their validity.” Robert M. Lee of the cyber-security company Dragos noted that the report “reads like a poorly done vendor intelligence report stringing together various aspects of attribution without evidence.” Cybersecurity consultant Jeffrey Carr noted that the report “merely listed every threat group ever reported on by a commercial cybersecurity company that is suspected of being Russian-made and lumped them under the heading of Russian Intelligence Services (RIS) without providing any supporting evidence that such a connection exists.”

In this respect, it is worth noting that one of the commercial cybersecurity companies the government has relied on is Crowdstrike, which was one of the companies initially brought in by the DNC to investigate the alleged hacks.

In late December, Crowdstrike released a largely debunked report claiming that the same Russian malware that was used to hack the DNC has been used by Russian intelligence to target Ukrainian artillery positions. Crowdstrike’s co-founder and chief technology officer, Dmitri Alperovitch, told PBS, “Ukraine’s artillery men were targeted by the same hackers…that targeted DNC, but this time they were targeting cellphones [belonging to the Ukrainian artillery men] to try to understand their location so that the Russian artillery forces can actually target them in the open battle.”

Dmitri Alperovitch is also a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

The connection between Alperovitch and the Atlantic Council has gone largely unremarked upon, but it is relevant given that the Atlantic Council—which is is funded in part by the US State Department, NATO, the governments of Latvia and Lithuania, the Ukrainian World Congress, and the Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk—has been among the loudest voices calling for a new Cold War with Russia. As I pointed out in the pages of The Nation in November, the Atlantic Council has spent the past several years producing some of the most virulent specimens of the new Cold War propaganda.

It would seem then that a healthy amount of skepticism toward a government report that relied, in part, on the findings of private-sector cyber security companies like Crowdstrike might be in order. And yet skeptics have found themselves in the unenviable position of being accused of being Kremlin apologists, or worse.

3d. It is not surprising that Kristofer Harrison (the author of an apologia for the Nazi Azov Battalion in Ukraine) is a former Defense Department and State Department advisor to George W. Bush (and from the same political milieu of Kurt Volker. Noteworthy in his propaganda piece dismissing Representative John Conyers (D-MI) as “the Kremlin’s Man in Congress” and discounting anyone else discussing the ascension of the OUN/B fascists in Ukraine in a similar vein, is the identity of his source for assurances that Azov is not a Nazi unit.

The Azov’s spokesman is Roman Zvarych, the personal secretary to Jaroslav Stetsko in the 1980’s. Stetsko was the head of the World War II OUN/B government that collaborated with the Nazis!

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

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

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

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

Santa’s Little Helper: Lee Ann Tweeden’s Playboy Cover

3e. Next, we take stock of how Conyers, “The Kremlin’s Man in Congress,” was removed following a gambit by “Alt-Right” blogger, Trump ally and misogynist Mike Cernovich to finance the solicitation of professionally damaging information about political opponents. “. . . . In November, the Trump-backing social media agitator Mike Cernovich offered to pay $10,000.00 for details of any congressional sexual harassment settlements, and said on Twitter that he would cover the expenses of “any VICTIM of a Congressman who wants to come forward to tell her story.” Shortly before posting that offer, a source provided Mr. Cernovich with a copy of a sexual harassment settlement that led in December to the resignation of Representative John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan, until then the longest-serving member of the House. . . .”

In a “Food For Thought” post, we noted the right-wing background of Al Franken accuser and Fox News personality Leann Tweeden, a situation bearing some similarity to Conyers’ exit.

“Partisans, Wielding Money, Begin Seeking to Exploit Harassment Claims” by Kenneth P. Vogel; The New York Times; 12/31/2017.

. . . . In November, the Trump-backing social media agitator Mike Cernovich offered to pay $10,000.00 for details of any congressional sexual harassment settlements, and said on Twitter that he would cover the expenses of “any VICTIM of a Congressman who wants to come forward to tell her story.” Shortly before posting that offer, a source provided Mr. Cernovich with a copy of a sexual harassment settlement that led in December to the resignation of Representative John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan, until then the longest-serving member of the House. . . .

. . . . “You got to sweeten the pot a little bit,” Mr. Cernovich said. A lawyer by training, he said he was shocked that the person who gave him the Conyers documents declined his offer to pay for them.

But, he said, “if somebody had a settlement like Conyers, I would gladly, gladly pay for that.” . . . .

. . . . Mr. Cernovich and the far-right activist Charles C. Johnson, had to back away from claims that they possessed a sexual harassment settlement that would bring down a leading Democratic Senator when it became apparent that the document–which targeted the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York–was a forgery, lifting passages verbatim from the Conyers complaint unearthed by Mr. Cernovich. Mr. Schumer referred the matter to the Capitol Hill police for a criminal investigation.

. . . . “I like to hype things in advance, and this looked pretty good,” Mr. Cernovich said. “I definitely learned my lesson there.”

Mr. Cernovich is an unlikely champion for sexual harassment victims, given his previous career as an anti-feminist blogger who cast doubt on date-rape allegations and wrote posts with headlines like “Misogyny Gets You Laid.” . . . .

4a. In FTR #981, we examined the Ukrainian fascist foundation of much of the “Russia-Gate” psy-op,” following that with detailed examination of the possibility that Paul Manafort may have actually been working as a U.S./Western intelligence asset or agent, deliberately precipitating the Maidan sniper fire that sounded the death knell for the Yanukovich regime.

This post updates the boiling sewer that is Ukraine, utilizing information from German Foreign Policy (which feeds along the lower right-hand page of this website.) We take note of several key points:

  1. Corruption in Ukraine remains rampant and “rule by oligarch” continues unabated under Poroshenko, an oligarch himself and the former finance minister for Yanukovich.
  2. Supporters of Maidan have been highly critical of the continuation of this grotesque status quo.
  3. Among the perpetrators of ongoing, institutionalized corruption in Ukraine has been the son of Arsen Avakov, the interior minister and a patron of the Nazi Azov Battalion. ” . . . . Corruption continues at high levels. For example, the case of Interior Minister Arsen Avakov’s son, who sold backpacks to the army at six times their normal price, allegedly causing damage in the six-digit euros. . . .”
  4. Investigation of Avakov, jr’s activities has been [predictably] interdicted. ” . . . .When the National Anti-Corruption Bureau searched the man’s house, the National Guard, under the responsibility of the interior minister intervened and halted the search – under the pretext of having to vacate the building because of a bomb threat. . . .”
  5. The two article series sets forth greater detail on the sniper shootings at the Maidan, which look more and more to be a provocation. ” . . . . In February 2016, Maidan activist Ivan Bubenchik confessed that in the course of the massacre, he had shot Ukrainian police officers. Bubenchik confirmed this in a film that had attracted international attention.[10] . . . .”
  6. An Italian TV documentary alleges that ethnic Georgian snipers were involved in the Maidan shootings, further indicating that the Maidan sniper shootings were a possible provocation. (The documentary does come from a Berlusconi-controlled outlet, however it dovetails credibly with other available information. UNA-UNSO, the latest iteration of the UPA was very active in the caucasus and Chechens have been working with Pravy Sektor and elements associated with the Azov Battalion. As discussed in FTR #850, former Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili became the governor of Odessa province and is very close to Ihor Kolomoisky, another patron of the Azov Battalion.) In an Italian TV documentary on the February 20, 2014 Maidan massacre, serious accusations were made against several politicians in Ukraine. . . .  In the documentary, three Georgians, incriminating themselves for their own participation, report that some of the leaders of the protests, who are today members of Kiev’s parliament, had supplied weapons to the snipers, who, at the time, indiscriminately killed policemen and demonstrators. Officially, this massacre is still being attributed to Ukrainian repressive organs or to unspecified Russians. The Georgians also report that the current speaker of the parliament, Andriy Parubiy, was often seen in the hotel, from where the snipers were firing that day. As ‘Maidan Commander,’Parubiy had been in charge of controlling armed gangs on that square. The man, whose real role at the time remains unclear, was a guest at a conference held by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and a speaker at NATO events. . . .”
  7. Parubiy was one of the main organizers of the Orange Revolution, which brought Viktor Yuschenko to power and installed OUN/B derivative organizations in power in Ukraine, sort of a “pre-Maidan” Maidan.” . . . .  Following his retirement from the party, this experienced protest activist became one of the main organizers of the 2004 ‘Orange Revolution.’  . . .”
  8. Andriy Parubiy was the first defense minister of the Ukraine interim government and a member of the OUN/B-redux Svoboda Party. His role in the events dovetails with the possible participation of fascist and Nazi snipers who were to participate in the Azov Battalion. “. . . . The Georgians’ accusations also implicate, at least indirectly, the ‘Commander of the Maidan,’ Andriy Parubiy. Parubiy comes from the Ukrainian fascist scene. In the early 1990s he was one of the founders of the extreme right-wing Social National Party of Ukraine. Since 1996, he was the leader of its militarist street fighting subsidiary ‘Patriot of Ukraine.’ Following his retirement from the party, this experienced protest activist became one of the main organizers of the 2004 ‘Orange Revolution.’ In 2013, he assumed the same function at the Maidan, where he was responsible for none other than security and the ‘self-defense units,’ which were often made up of heavily armed thugs. In the Italian TV documentary, it was reported that Parubiy was going in and out of Hotel Ukraina, from where numerous deadly shots were being fired. Parubiy, claims that the hotel from which these shots were being fired – which was firmly under the Maidan demonstrators’ control – had been taken over ‘by snipers who arrived from Russia and who were controlled by Russia.’ . . .”

 “Sowing Chaos (I)”; german-foreign-policy.com/11/24/2017.

Four years after the beginning of the Maidan protests, serious accusations are being leveled against leading activists of the pro-western opponents of the reigning government, at the time. Three Georgians, who incriminate themselves for their own participation, have told the Italian media that the snipers, who had unleashed the February 20, 2013 Maidan massacre, had allegedly been acting under orders – and with the practical support – of the opposition. Their statements confirm the confessions made earlier – some even in publicly – by other snipers. There has been no reaction from Ukrainian authorities. While Kiev is marking the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the protests this week, more than three-fourths of the population sees their country as plunged into ruin and chaos, according to a poll. The power of the Ukrainian oligarchs is still intact and corruption is becoming rampant. Only anti-Russian measures are being successfully executed including those massively limiting freedom of the press.

The Power of the Oligarchs

Four years after the beginning of the Maidan protests on November 21, 2013, the abuses, which also had provoked the demonstrations, are still prevalent throughout the country, which is now oriented on the West. The power of the oligarchs is still intact. Already one year ago, experts noted that even though there have been some reshuffles amongst divers fractions of the oligarchs, (german-foreign-policy.com reported [1]) it does not change the fact that they are still largely controlling Kiev’s politics. This has been confirmed by recent studies. The last two decades have shown “that the periodical changes of political regime in Ukraine have had merely a limited effect on the oligarchic system,” according to the authors of an analysis by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). Even after the February 2014 putsch, oligarchs are still in control of “strategic branches of the economy” – for example, around 80% of the Ukrainian television market.[2] “There has not been much change,” notes the Brussels think tank Bruegel, “the political influence of some oligarchs increased even further.”[3] In fact, since 2014, an oligarch is officially leading the country – President Petro Poroshenko.

Corruption and Fake News

Corruption continues at high levels. For example, the case of Interior Minister Arsen Avakov’s son, who sold backpacks to the army at six times their normal price, allegedly causing damage in the six-digit euros. When the National Anti-Corruption Bureau searched the man’s house, the National Guard, under the responsibility of the interior minister intervened and halted the search – under the pretext of having to vacate the building because of a bomb threat.[4] This is but a minor case, when compared to others. Serhiy Leshchenko, a staunch supporter of the putsch, who has worked as an investigative reporter for the pro-western daily Ukrainska Prawda, before he was elected to the Ukrainian parliament and became a member of the its Anti-Corruption Committee, is regularly voicing sharp criticism. In the parliament, Leshchenko reports, “corruption is in the air,” which is particularly evident when the budget has to be passed. The respective parliamentary sessions last “until five in the morning, because the corrupt interests of all the politically influential centers must be satisfied.”[5] According to Leshchenko, the President not only personally controls the state attorney’s office, but even the secret service that has “civil society activists, independent journalists and politicians of the opposition” under surveillance and intervenes “in the settlement of business conflicts.” To discredit the critics, a “Ukrainian troll factory” has been established – “a center to produce fictitious internet users and fake news for information attacks on regime opponents.”

Decay and Chaos

Oligarchic rule and corruption in a persisting disastrous social and economic situation is now having an effect on the mood of the Ukrainian population. For example, only 17 percent of the Ukrainians have the feeling that a “consolidation” – by whatever definition – is taking place in the country; 75 percent describe the current development as “decay,” 85 percent call it simply “chaos,” and 69 percent are convinced that it is easily conceivable that demonstrations against the pro-western government could take place throughout the country.[6] President Poroshenko’s popularity rating has plunged dramatically – according to varying opinion polls – to between two to six percent.[7]

Freedom of the Press under Attack

Not just the Ukrainian government’s corruption but even some of its exorbitant Russophobia has provoked criticism from some of the foreign Maidan sympathizers. For example, President Poroshenko’s decision last May, not only to annul the Russian television’s Ukrainian license, but also to shut down the popular Russian social network “VKontakte” (“In Contact”) and “Odnoklassnike” (“Classmates”) as well as the “mail.ru” email provider has provoked angry protests. Human Rights Watch criticized these measures as “cynical, politically calculated attacks on millions of Ukrainians’ right to information.” Reporters Without Borders complained that this amounts to an “unacceptable assault on freedom of expression and the press.”[8] Kiev also recently passed a new language law, which severely restricts the use of the country’s minority languages. This affects, above all the Russian-speaking minority, which, even after the secession of Crimea and parts of Eastern Ukraine, is still quite large. However, because these measures also affect Ukraine’s Hungarian-speaking minority, the Hungarian government has announced that it would block Kiev’s rapprochement efforts toward the EU and NATO until this law is repealed.

On Orders of Pro-Western Forces

Whereas the political leaders of the pro-western Ukraine festively celebrate the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the Maidan demonstrations, new reports have become available indicating that the February 20, 2014 bloodbath in Kiev – which gave the last incitement to escalation of protests, leading to the overthrow of the Yanukovych government – had been triggered by snipers, working on orders of government opponents. One of the snipers had already admitted to this back in February 2015, thereby confirming what had become common knowledge just a few days after the bloodbath in Kiev. In a secretly recorded telephone call, the Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet had reported to the EU*s head of Foreign Policy, Catherine Ashton, in early March 2014, that there was widespread suspicion that “someone from the new coalition” in the Ukrainian capital may have ordered the sniper murders. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[9]) In February 2016, Maidan activist Ivan Bubenchik confessed that in the course of the massacre, he had shot Ukrainian police officers. Bubenchik confirmed this in a film that had attracted international attention.[10]

“Shooting Indiscriminately’

Last week, the Italian daily “Il Giornale,” as well as the “Canale 5” television channel published a report revealing more details. Three Georgians reported that on the day of the shooting, they too had been employed by the opponents of the government at the time as snipers. They say that they had been explicitly ordered to shoot at both policemen and demonstrators – to “sow chaos.”[11] If this is true, the official narrative, also propagated by the government in Berlin – that the Ukrainian government’s repressive forces had deliberately committed the February 20 massacre – caves in. Equally grave is the fact that the three Georgians are not only heavily implicating themselves, but their testimonies substantiate grave suspicions around some of the influential politicians in the current pro-western Ukraine. german-foreign-policy.com will report more soon.

[1] See also Zauberlehrlinge (III).

[2] Wojciech Konończuk, Denis Cenușa, Kornely Kakachia: Oligarchs in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia as key obstacles to reforms. Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency 24.05.2017.

[3] Marek Dabrowski: Ukraine’s oligarchs are bad for democracy and economic reform. bruegel.org 03.10.2017.

[4] Reinhard Lauterbach: Solide zerstritten. junge Welt 04.11.2017.

[5] Sergej Leschtschenko: Markenzeichen Korruption. zeit.de 05.05.2017. See also Das korrupteste Land in Europa.

[6] Umfragen zur Entwicklung der sozialen Lage und zur Proteststimmung in der Bevölkerung. In: Ukraine-Analysen Nr. 191, 15.11.2017.

[7] Reinhard Lauterbach: Solide zerstritten. junge Welt 04.11.2017.

[8] Zitiert nach: Steffen Halling: Kritiklos heraus aus dem Netz des Feindes? In: Ukraine-Analysen Nr. 186, 14.06.2017. S. 2f.

[9] See also The Kiev Escalation Strategy and From Račak to Maidan.

[10] Katya Gorchinskaya: He Killed for the Maidan. foreignpolicy.com 26.02.2016.

[11] Gian Micalessin: La versione dei cecchini sulla strage di Kiev: “Ordini dall’opposizione”. ilgiornale.it 15.11.2017.

4b. More about the Maidan sniper/Georgia link:

“Sowing Chaos (II);” german-foreign-policy.com; 11/27/2017.

In an Italian TV documentary on the February 20, 2014 Maidan massacre, serious accusations were made against several politicians in Ukraine, including influential politicians, who are Germany’s cooperation partners. In the documentary, three Georgians, incriminating themselves for their own participation, report that some of the leaders of the protests, who are today members of Kiev’s parliament, had supplied weapons to the snipers, who, at the time, indiscriminately killed policemen and demonstrators. Officially, this massacre is still being attributed to Ukrainian repressive organs or to unspecified Russians. The Georgians also report that the current speaker of the parliament, Andriy Parubiy, was often seen in the hotel, from where the snipers were firing that day. As “Maidan Commander,” Parubiy had been in charge of controlling armed gangs on that square. The man, whose real role at the time remains unclear, was a guest at a conference held by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and a speaker at NATO events.

Escalation Strategy

The Italian Canale 5 TV channel recently aired a documentary on the February 20, 2014 Maidan massacre [1] that focuses on the testimonies of three Georgians reporting on the Maidan protests and the escalation of violence in February. The three Georgians, who had had military training – and no personal relationship to the demonstrators in Kiev – were recruited in the Georgian capital Tbilisi in mid-January 2014 and flown to Ukraine. One of the Georgians explains that he had been chosen because of his sniper skills. According to the reports, their main job was to provoke the Ukrainian repressive forces into brutally cracking down on the demonstrators. The three Georgians had their role to play in the strategy of escalation, previously agreed upon by the leaders of the protest – including Vitali Klitschko, the protégé of Germany’s foreign policy,[2] and today’s mayor of Kiev. “I think we have paved the road for a more radical escalation of the situation,” one can read in an email dated January 9, 2014, which later circulated online and is attributed to Klitschko. “Is it not high time to continue with more resolute actions?” the author of the email asks.[3]

Furnished Weapons

In the documentary, the three Georgians describe how they had been positioned on the morning of February 20, 2014 – one in the Conservatory, two in the Ukraina Hotel, both buildings adjacent to the Maidan. The first shots that day were fired from the Conservatory killing policemen. Later that day, snipers in the Ukraina Hotel deliberately killed demonstrators. With their reports, the Georgians confirm what has been known for years from two other snipers, who had also incriminated themselves for their participation in the massacre. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[4]) The snipers had acted on orders of government opponents with the aim of sowing chaos and thus initiating President Yanukovych’s overthrow. According to the three Georgians, Serhiy Pashynsky, at that time member of the parliamentary opposition, was playing a key role. He had furnished the snipers in the Conservatory and in the Ukraina Hotel with the necessary weapons. This testimony is confirmed by documentary video footage showing Pashynsky shielding the transport of a sniper rifle through the middle of the demonstration during the escalation of violence. Following the putsch in late February 2014, Pashynsky became the head of Kiev’s Presidential Administration and, as member of the governing People’s Front Party, is today presiding over the Rada Committee on National Security and Defense.

On the Maidan Stage

According to the three Georgians, Volodymyr Parasyuk was also involved in delivering weapons. Parasyuk had been the leader of one of the fascist combat units on the Maidan. Following the putsch, he had first participated in one of the ultra rightwing irregular militias (the Battalion Dnipro) in the East Ukraine civil war, before he was elected to parliament in October 2014. On the evening of February 21, 2014 – the day following the massacre – it was Parasyuk, who, from the stage at the Maidan, called out for President Viktor Yanukovych to step down immediately or he would be overthrown at gunpoint. Parasyuk made a name for himself with this threat. Videos depict him standing right beside Vitali Klitschko on the stage. Berlin had maintained regular contact to Klitschko at the time. Yanukovych – fully aware of the massacre – probably took Parasyuk’s threat seriously and immediately fled Kiev.

National Hero of Ukraine

Their testimonies are probably most incriminating for the fourth Georgian, Mamuka Mamulashvili, who, they say, had recruited the three Georgians in Tbilisi, and – together with a US soldier under the assumed name of Brian Christopher Boyenger – brought them to Kiev. Mamulashvili had been a military advisor to the long-time Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, from whose entourage the three snipers had been recruited for the Kiev mission. Following the putsch, Mamulashvili fought with the “Georgian Legion” in the East Ukrainian civil war, for which he was officially awarded the honorary title of “National Hero of Ukraine.” Saakashvili, on the other hand, who fled to the United States after his presidency in 2013 to avoid standing trial in Georgia, had always supported the Maidan protests and in 2015, began his new political career in the now pro-western Ukraine – first as presidential advisor, then as Governor of Odessa and – since his rift with President Poroshenko – as an opposition politician seeking the overthrow the government. In late 2003, Saakashvili had also come to power in Georgia through a putsch, which, in turn, had served as a model for the Maidan.

The Commander of the Maidan

The Georgians’ accusations also implicate, at least indirectly, the “Commander of the Maidan,” Andriy Parubiy. Parubiy comes from the Ukrainian fascist scene. In the early 1990s he was one of the founders of the extreme right-wing SocialNational Party of Ukraine. Since 1996, he was the leader of its militarist street fighting subsidiary “Patriot of Ukraine.” Following his retirement from the party, this experienced protest activist became one of the main organizers of the 2004 “Orange Revolution.” In 2013, he assumed the same function at the Maidan, where he was responsible for none other than security and the “self-defense units,” which were often made up of heavily armed thugs. In the Italian TV documentary, it was reported that Parubiy was going in and out of Hotel Ukraina, from where numerous deadly shots were being fired. Parubiy, claims that the hotel from which these shots were being fired – which was firmly under the Maidan demonstrators’ control – had been taken over “by snipers who arrived from Russia and who were controlled by Russia.”[5] Parubiy, who, according to former US Vice President Joe Biden, was conferring with the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt throughout the upheavals almost on an hourly basis, has never really had his role in the putsch explained. Following the putsch, he was first appointed to the post of head of the National Security and Defense Council. Since April 14, 2016 he has been serving as President of Ukraine’s Parliament.

Berlin’s Cooperation Partner

Thanks to this position, Parubiy can now serve as a cooperation partner for German foreign policy. He has headed, for example, a delegation of Ukrainian parliamentarians, who, from May 22 – 25, 2016 were in Cadenabbia, Italy with CDU/CSU parliamentarians at the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation’s Educational Center. A fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) and Matthias Lüttenberg, Head of the Russia and Ukraine Department of the German Chancellery made presentations. At this meeting, it was agreed that Parubiy would visit the Bundestag in the summer of 2016.[6] As the then German President Joachim Gauck participated at the Ukrainian state ceremony in memory of the massacre of nearly 34,000 Jews in Babi Yar, on September 29, 2016, he was commemorating – at the side of Parubiy – the victims of the German war criminals and their Ukrainian collaborators.In late May 2017, Parubiy gave a talk at the spring session of NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly in Tbilisi, where German parliamentarians were also participating. When NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addressed the Ukrainian Parliament on July 10, 2017, he discussed with the Maidan’s former arms supplier, Serhiy Pashynsky – and then met with the former Maidan Commander Parubiy for a private conversation. What they talked about is not known.

For more information in this subject see: Sowing Chaos (I).

[1] Ucraina, le verità nascoste. Canale 5, 15.11.2017. Gian Micalessin: La versione dei cecchini sulla strage di Kiev: “Ordini dall’opposizione”. ilgiornale.it 15.11.2017. Stefan Korinth: Maidanmorde: Drei Beteiligte gestehen. heise.de 19.11.2017.

[2] See also Our Man in Kiev.

[3] See also The Kiev Escalation Strategy.

[4] See also From Račak to Maidan and Sowing Chaos (I).

[5] Gabriel Gatehouse: The untold story of the Maidan massacre. bbc.co.uk 12.02.2015.

[6] Deutsch-ukrainische parlamentarische Zusammenarbeit. kas.de 22.05.2016.

5.  Omidyar journalistic protege Glenn Greenwald had Andrew “Weev” Auerenheimer at his party celebrating Greenwald and Laura Poitras’s receipt of the prestigious Polk Award. Weev’s name has been bandied about in connection with the [alleged] hacking of DNC e-mails. We note that Weev is apparently resident in Ukraine.

Andrew Auerenheimer: Guest at Glenn Greenwald’s party; apparent resident of Ukraine.

“GOP Researcher Who Sought Clinton Emails Had Alt-Right Help” by Ben Schreckinger; Politico; 07/11/2017.

The saga of Peter Smith’s quest to obtain 33,000 emails deleted by Hillary Clinton—an effort now at the center of intrigue swirling around the Donald Trump campaign’s ties to Russia—keeps getting weirder.

In his Hail Mary bid to tip the election to Trump, the Republican private equity executive enlisted two controversial alt-right activists to help him understand the workings of the internet and make contacts in Trump’s orbit, according to interviews with those involved and emails obtained by Politico.

The activists, the journalist-turned-entrepreneur Charles Johnson and his former business partner Pax Dickinson, agreed to help Smith’s quixotic mission, which failed to track down copies of Clinton’s emails. Johnson is a polarizing figure who was banned from Twitter in 2015 after promoting an effort to “take out” a Black Lives Matter activist but maintains ties to White House officials. Smith also reached out to “Guccifer 2.0”—an alias the U.S. intelligence community has linked to Russian state hackers—and was advised to seek the help of a white nationalist hacker who lives in Ukraine. . . .

. . . . Johnson said he also suggested that Smith get in touch with Andrew Auernheimer, a hacker who goes by the alias “Weev” and has collaborated with Johnson in the past. . . .

6. Ukraine’s official understanding of its own WWII history and the Holocaust had another flirtation with Orwellian historical revisionism. This time it was by Poroshenko reinforcing the Orwellian revision. ” . . . . As we reported back in October, Ukrainian media outlet Radio Svoboda — the Ukrainian arm of the US Government-funded arm of RFERL — posted a picture from the US Holocaust Museum. It is an image of Polish Jews being deported to a death camp. There was just one problem. Radio Svoboda claimed the picture was from 1949 of Ukrainians being deported to Siberia. In fact, so effective was Radio Svoboda’s forgery that President Poroshenko himself tweeted it claiming it showed Ukrainians being deported. . . . Today it emerged that a major Ukrainian media outlet has struck again. In a December 20th article about the horrors of the NKVD (Soviet forerunner of the KGB), media outlet “Ukrinform” also borrowed a picture from the US Holocaust Museum, this time of Ukrainian Auxiliary Policemen shooting a Jewish child and mother — and fraudulently claimed it was actually of the NKVD shooting people. The caption reads in translation: ‘Atrocities of the Chekhists: the execution of a mother and child by the NKVD’. . . .”

“More Fake News, Again from Ukraine and Once More — About the Holocaust”; Defending History; 01/11/2018

While much is said in some American media outlets about “fake news” in the US, the smallness of the matters being discussed might come into focus when compared with Ukraine, which is of late producing rather much fake news about the Holocaust and elementary points in World War II history.

As we reported back in October, Ukrainian media outlet Radio Svoboda — the Ukrainian arm of the US Government-funded arm of RFERL — posted a picture from the US Holocaust Museum. It is an image of Polish Jews being deported to a death camp. There was just one problem. Radio Svoboda claimed the picture was from 1949 of Ukrainians being deported to Siberia. In fact, so effective was Radio Svoboda’s forgery that President Poroshenko himself tweeted it claiming it showed Ukrainians being deported. To Poroshenko’s credit, his office took it down almost immediately after we pointed this out.

Today it emerged that a major Ukrainian media outlet has struck again. In a December 20th article about the horrors of the NKVD (Soviet forerunner of the KGB), media outlet “Ukrinform” also borrowed a picture from the US Holocaust Museum, this time of Ukrainian Auxiliary Policemen shooting a Jewish child and mother — and fraudulently claimed it was actually of the NKVD shooting people. The caption reads in translation: “Atrocities of the Chekhists: the execution of a mother and child by the NKVD”.

Ukrinform got away with it for three weeks until Ukrainian Jewish activist Eduard Dolinsky called them out. And once again, poof, Ukrinform took down the Holocaust Museum picture, naturally with no apology, comment or correction note.

Ukrinform forgot about one thing though: Nothing ever completely disappears from the internet, and so now there is, for the record, the cached version of the original article showcasing Ukrinform’s abominable forgery. Compare the original Ukrinform article from December (picture is toward the bottom; as PDF) with the actual image from the US Holocaust Museum here and below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discussion

10 comments for “FTR #993 Update on Ukraine (Preparations for WWIII?)”

  1. It looks like there’s a new wing of the ‘Azov Movement’: neo-Nazi street militias that will patrols the streets of Kyiv:

    Radio Free Europe/Radio Libergy

    In Ukraine, Ultranationalist Militia Strikes Fear In Some Quarters

    Christopher Miller
    January 30, 2018 17:11 GMT

    KYIV — The gathering was large and formidable, with hundreds of mostly young men in fatigues keeping tight ranks on Kyiv’s central Independence Square before marching in formation to a torch-lit fortress on a hillside in the Ukrainian capital.

    There, in the January 28 spectacle, 600 of them swore an oath to clean the streets of illegal alcohol, drug traffickers, and illegal gambling establishments.

    Their mission would seem righteous enough. And it was featured in a slickly produced video with aerial drone footage, sweeping edits, and menacing music that caught the attention of many on social media.

    But Ukraine observers and rights groups are sounding the alarm, because this was not a typical commencement, and the men are not police officers. They are far-right ultranationalists from the Azov movement, a controversial group with a military wing that has openly accepted self-avowed neo-Nazis, and a civil and political faction that has demonstrated intolerance toward minority groups.

    “We will not hesitate to use force to establish order that will bring prosperity to every Ukrainian family!” reads a message alongside the video, published on the Facebook page of the newly formed group, called the National Militia. In the clip, they vow also to protect the nation “when government organs can’t or won’t help Ukrainian society.”

    That approach could concern Western backers in Kyiv’s campaign against armed Russia-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country, where a conflict that has lasted nearly four years has killed at least 10,300 people.

    “Ukraine would be violating its international obligations under human rights law if authorities either tolerate abusive militia who undermine [the] population’s liberty, security, freedoms or provide an abusive militia with the color of law but [do] not impose on them exacting standards on use of force,” Tanya Cooper, Human Rights Watch (HRW)’s Ukraine researcher in Kyiv, told RFE/RL in e-mailed comments as media buzzed over the appearance of the National Militia.

    Nationalistic Agenda

    Founded in 2014 as a volunteer battalion to help an overmatched Ukrainian military fight off the threat in its east, the Azov movement uses fascist symbols and has been accused by international humanitarian organizations of human rights abuses in the conflict zone.

    The National Militia is an independent group that is merely the latest component of Azov’s civilian and political wing, known as the National Corpus. It is led by lawmaker and former Azov Battalion commander Andriy Biletsky, once the head of Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Social-National Party, who attended the ceremony.

    Azov officially founded the National Corpus in October 2016, incorporating two other nationalist groups, including Patriot Of Ukraine, which according to Halya Coynash of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group “espoused xenophobic and neo-Nazi ideas and was engaged in violent attacks against migrants, foreign students in Kharkiv, and those opposing its views.”

    That inaugural ceremony arguably had pomp more reminiscent of 1930s Germany than of postwar democracy. It included nationalist chants, raised fists, and a torchlight march through central Kyiv.

    National Corpus’s political aims at the time of its creation included the restoration of Ukraine’s nuclear-power status, which was abandoned in a major boost to nonproliferation soon after the breakup of the Soviet Union; the nationalization of companies that were owned by the government when Ukraine gained independence in 1991; and the legalization of firearms for personal protection.

    Its foreign policy sought to cut cultural, diplomatic, and trade ties with Russia, and urged a public discussion about restoring the death penalty in Ukraine for crimes such as treason and embezzlement of government funds.

    While the National Corpus appears to draw limited support from Ukraine’s electorate — polls show it under the 5 percent threshold to enter parliament — its public presence has grown, worrying international observers and making it a favorite target for Russian propaganda. Russian state news agencies and politicians suggest the government in Kyiv’s perceived tolerance for the far-right movement makes it fascist. The Ukrainian government’s failure to aggressively challenge the group has done little to calm its critics.

    Police, Or Not Police

    So it came as something of a surprise on January 30 when Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, who has enjoyed a close relationship with the Azov movement in the past, appeared to distance himself from the group, saying in a statement posted to the ministry’s website that “in Ukraine, there is only one monopoly on the use of force — the state: the National Guard, the National Police, and the Armed Forces.”

    He added, “All other paramilitary entities that try to position themselves on the streets of cities are not legal.”

    Ivan Varchenko, an Avakov adviser, told Hromadske Radio that Ukrainian law provides for registration of civic organizations that assist law enforcement agencies.

    Roman Chernyshov of the National Corps also tried to calm concerns, telling Hromadske Radio that its members do not bear arms.

    Armed or not, as news of the National Militia spread across Ukrainian media, critics raised serious concerns about the type of order the unit may enforce on the streets of Kyiv.

    “It’s the police responsibility to enforce the law on the street and hold people accountable for crimes they’ve committed,” Freedom House’s Schaaf said. “When there are groups that are roaming the streets in units like this, with slogans like this, it definitely raises concerns about what are their intentions, how they will they be implementing their visions, what rules they are trying to enforce.”

    HRW’s Cooper said one of her primary concerns was who would be targeted by the group. “Members of this political party espouse intolerance towards ethnic minorities and LGBT people, so it seems completely absurd that these people would be able [and willing] to protect everyone,” she said of the Azovs.

    She added, “The bottom line is that if these units are going to be carrying out any kind of policing duty, they have to be held to the exact same human rights standards as regular police: on use of force, powers of detention, nondiscrimination, etc., and they have to be trained and held accountable just like regular police are.”

    Perhaps in an attempt to alleviate public concerns, Avakov insisted, “I, as a minister, will not allow for parallel structures that try to behave as alternative military formations on the streets.”

    ———-

    “In Ukraine, Ultranationalist Militia Strikes Fear In Some Quarters” by Christopher Miller; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; 01/30/2018

    “There, in the January 28 spectacle, 600 of them swore an oath to clean the streets of illegal alcohol, drug traffickers, and illegal gambling establishments.”

    600 mostly young men in fatigues marching in formation to a torch-lit fortress on a hillside swearing an oath to ‘clean the streets’. Yeah, that’s generally not a good sign. But it’s an even worse sign when it turns out these are members of the Azov movement. A movement that is now much more than just the Azov Battalion and now includes “the National Militia”:


    Their mission would seem righteous enough. And it was featured in a slickly produced video with aerial drone footage, sweeping edits, and menacing music that caught the attention of many on social media.

    But Ukraine observers and rights groups are sounding the alarm, because this was not a typical commencement, and the men are not police officers. They are far-right ultranationalists from the Azov movement, a controversial group with a military wing that has openly accepted self-avowed neo-Nazis, and a civil and political faction that has demonstrated intolerance toward minority groups.

    “We will not hesitate to use force to establish order that will bring prosperity to every Ukrainian family!” reads a message alongside the video, published on the Facebook page of the newly formed group, called the National Militia. In the clip, they vow also to protect the nation “when government organs can’t or won’t help Ukrainian society.”

    So the National Corpus, Azov’s civilian and political wing, now has a street militia.

    And note who attended this ceremony: former Azov Battalion commander Andriy Biletsky, the former head of Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Social-National Party and a current member of the Ukrainian parliament. Of course:


    The National Militia is an independent group that is merely the latest component of Azov’s civilian and political wing, known as the National Corpus. It is led by lawmaker and former Azov Battalion commander Andriy Biletsky, once the head of Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Social-National Party, who attended the ceremony.

    Azov officially founded the National Corpus in October 2016, incorporating two other nationalist groups, including Patriot Of Ukraine, which according to Halya Coynash of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group “espoused xenophobic and neo-Nazi ideas and was engaged in violent attacks against migrants, foreign students in Kharkiv, and those opposing its views.”

    That inaugural ceremony arguably had pomp more reminiscent of 1930s Germany than of postwar democracy. It included nationalist chants, raised fists, and a torchlight march through central Kyiv.

    National Corpus’s political aims at the time of its creation included the restoration of Ukraine’s nuclear-power status, which was abandoned in a major boost to nonproliferation soon after the breakup of the Soviet Union; the nationalization of companies that were owned by the government when Ukraine gained independence in 1991; and the legalization of firearms for personal protection.

    So what do the police have to say about a neo-Nazi street militia? Well, while Interior Minister Arsen Avakov – who, along with the neo-Nazi Parliament speaker Andriy Parubiy, is one of the top government officials to openly support Azov Battalion – distanced himself from the whole thing, one of Avakov’s advisors did acknowledge that Ukrainian law provides for registration of civic organizations that assist law enforcement agencies. In other words, there really might be a National Militia legal loophole:


    Police, Or Not Police

    So it came as something of a surprise on January 30 when Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, who has enjoyed a close relationship with the Azov movement in the past, appeared to distance himself from the group, saying in a statement posted to the ministry’s website that “in Ukraine, there is only one monopoly on the use of force — the state: the National Guard, the National Police, and the Armed Forces.”

    He added, “All other paramilitary entities that try to position themselves on the streets of cities are not legal.”

    Ivan Varchenko, an Avakov adviser, told Hromadske Radio that Ukrainian law provides for registration of civic organizations that assist law enforcement agencies.

    So should we expect a formal embrace by Ukraine’s police of this new neo-Nazi street militia movement at some point? Well, as this report from the Kharkiv Human Rights Group points out, yes, we should probably expect Ukraine’s police to tolerate and even accept the ‘help’ of the Azov’s ‘National Guard’ because of the long track record of this already happening. Plus, according to “National Corps” (Azov’s political wing), these street patrol has been going on for year already. They just hadn’t done an official public swearing in ceremony until now:

    Kharkiv Human Rights Group

    Far-right vigilantes imposing ‘Ukrainian order’ are strange partners for Ukraine’s National Police

    30.01.2018 | Halya Coynash

    600 young members of the far-right National Corps party swore ‘an oath of loyalty to Ukrainians’ on January 28 in the centre of Kyiv. The so-called ‘National Militia Units’ [??????????? ???????] plan to demonstrate their loyalty by “establishing Ukrainian order” on the streets of Kyiv, seemingly in cooperation with Ukraine’s National Police. The explanation provided by an Interior Ministry spokesperson cannot allay concerns about police collaboration with an organization which has on many occasions demonstrated intolerance towards ethnic minorities, as well as to people whose sexual orientation, political or other beliefs they view with antagonism.

    The ‘National Militia’ will be part of a ‘civic formation’ envisaged by Ukraine’s Law ‘On the participation of citizens in protection of public order and the state border’ Their declared aim is to patrol the streets and counter drug and alcohol dens.

    Roman Chernyshov, from National Corps, told Hromadske Radio, that these formations have been active for a year already, but that this is the first such swearing-in of members. He called the formation a “part of the Azov movement” which will help “where the authorities either can’t or do not want to help the Ukrainian community”. He added that they do not bear arms and are not a police or military formation, “however they cooperate with the police”.

    The event on January 28, as well as the video produced on social media, cannot be said to inspire confidence, especially not the statement under the video, reading: “There are many of us. We are not afraid to use Force to establish Ukrainian Order on the streets!”.

    Challenged to explain whether these formations are legal, Ivan Varchenko from the Interior Ministry explained that legislation does allow for civic organizations to assist law enforcement bodies in protecting public order, but stressed that the members of such organizations must work “together with officers of the National Police or National Guard”. While asserting that the appearance of such organizations was “absolutely lawful”, he did stipulate that they must agree with the law enforcement bodies how and where they will work.

    National Corps [???????????? ??????]

    This is a political party founded on 14 October 2016, through the merging of a recently formed civic movement called ‘Honest Matters’ [«????? ??????»] and the much older ‘Patriot of Ukraine’. The latter Kharkiv-based paramilitary organization was founded in 2006 by Andriy Biletsky and other members of the neo-Nazi Social-National Party who were disgruntled with the more moderate VO Svoboda Party. ‘Patriot of Ukraine’ espoused xenophobic and neo-Nazi ideas, and was engaged in violent attacks against migrants, foreign students in Kharkiv and those opposing its views. Biletsky and some other members were suspected of violent seizures of newspaper kiosks and similar criminal activities. Biletsky himself was in detention and one of the more controversial figures to have been released after Maidan.

    There were, in short, grounds for concern over Biletsky’s role as commander of the controversial Azov Volunteer Battalion in the first months of the military conflict in Donbas, and his subsequent election to parliament as a non-affiliated MP in October 2016.

    Doubts were even more pronounced over the appointment of the former deputy commander of the Azov Battalion Vadim Troyan as head of the Kyiv Regional Police Force (and later position as First Deputy Head of the National Police from March 2016) . Although attempts were made to minimize Troyan’s involvement, he had also been a member of the racist and xenophobic ‘Patriot of Ukraine’.

    The far-right, even neo-Nazi views of at very least some of the members of the Azov Battalion aroused controversy from the outset, and the concerns were largely the same with regard to the related Azov Civic Corps. It is they who joined the National Corps in 2016, and are now planning to patrol the streets.

    Members of the Azov Civic Corps are already known to have worked in cooperation with the police in the Kyiv oblast. In February 2016, the Diversity Initiative and many civic activists demanded reaction from the Head of the National Police (then Khatia Dekanoidze) to apparent collaboration on ethnic profiling. The video posted on Jan 25 (here also) claimed to be “a raid to uncover illegal individuals” in Bila Tskerkva [Kyiv oblast], It called this a joint project between the Kyiv Oblast National Police and the Azov Civic Corps to identify foreign nationals infringing legislation on being in Ukraine. There were fairly good grounds for assuming that the men were targeted for a ‘check’ solely because of the colour of their skin.

    This was only one of several developments in early 2016 which make doubts about the involvement of the Azov Civic Corps in any such ‘patrol groups’ seem warranted.

    While National Corps say that the men will not carry arms, the impression given by the ceremony on January 28 was very firmly of a paramilitary organization, and the latter’s own video boasts of willingness to “use Force”. The men were all wearing the same gear, and the organization clearly has plenty of money available, which it claims is coming from ‘businesspeople’.

    The concerns about these ‘national militia’ are only exacerbated by the behaviour of the Kyiv police during an attempt to hold a gathering in remembrance of slain lawyer Stas Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova on January 19. Members of the neo-Nazi C14 group turned up, reportedly flanked by some Russian and Belarusian neo-Nazis, and began so openly threatening those who had come for the remembrance gathering that the latter abandoned their attempt.

    The police had not just failed to protect one group of citizens exercising their right to peaceful assembly. Before the gathering was even scheduled to begin, the police detained eight activists. They later tried to claim that there had been no detention, and that the activists had been ‘invited’ to the police station.

    What followed was even more sinister. The detained activists reported later that they had been ‘hunted down’ by the far-right thugs after leaving the police station. A member of the Human Rights Information Centre who spoke with them believes that the thugs could have only discovered which station the activists were being held in from the police themselves.

    The administration of at least one district in Kyiv is known to have signed a memorandum of cooperation with the police and a civic organization («???????????? ?????») which is headed by a member of C14.

    This is not a question of merely disliking certain groups’ views, though it would be interesting to see whether the police would so willingly cooperate with, say, anarchist or left-wing groups wishing to exercise their right to create a civic formation to protect public order.

    C14 has been involved in various acts of violence, and there are indeed reports that they attacked members of another local group on 13 December 2017, with two people from that group ending up hospitalized with gun wounds. It seems likely that the conflict was about establishing their power over a particular area.

    If the experience of ‘Patriot of Ukraine’ is anything to go by, members of organizations that gain the right to ‘patrol’ an area could become involved in criminal activities, for which Ukraine’s law enforcement bodies must not become a cover.

    ———-

    “Far-right vigilantes imposing ‘Ukrainian order’ are strange partners for Ukraine’s National Police” by Halya Coynash; Kharkiv Human Rights Group; 01/30/2018

    “Roman Chernyshov, from National Corps, told Hromadske Radio, that these formations have been active for a year already, but that this is the first such swearing-in of members. He called the formation a “part of the Azov movement” which will help “where the authorities either can’t or do not want to help the Ukrainian community”. He added that they do not bear arms and are not a police or military formation, “however they cooperate with the police”.”

    So according to the Azov movement, these street formations have been active for a year already. Presumably doing things “the authorities either can’t or do not” want to do.

    And according to the Interior Ministry, these street militias are indeed legal, but only if they are working with the police. So if reports of these street militias continue, it’s only reasonable to assume they’re working with the police because that’s the government’s policy:


    Challenged to explain whether these formations are legal, Ivan Varchenko from the Interior Ministry explained that legislation does allow for civic organizations to assist law enforcement bodies in protecting public order, but stressed that the members of such organizations must work “together with officers of the National Police or National Guard”. While asserting that the appearance of such organizations was “absolutely lawful”, he did stipulate that they must agree with the law enforcement bodies how and where they will work.

    So what should we expect as this policy/street militia cooperation unfolds. Well, as the following incidents suggests, we should probably expect things like ethnic profiling and violent attacks on the kind of people neo-Nazis like to attack:


    Members of the Azov Civic Corps are already known to have worked in cooperation with the police in the Kyiv oblast. In February 2016, the Diversity Initiative and many civic activists demanded reaction from the Head of the National Police (then Khatia Dekanoidze) to apparent collaboration on ethnic profiling. The video posted on Jan 25 (here also) claimed to be “a raid to uncover illegal individuals” in Bila Tskerkva [Kyiv oblast], It called this a joint project between the Kyiv Oblast National Police and the Azov Civic Corps to identify foreign nationals infringing legislation on being in Ukraine. There were fairly good grounds for assuming that the men were targeted for a ‘check’ solely because of the colour of their skin.

    This was only one of several developments in early 2016 which make doubts about the involvement of the Azov Civic Corps in any such ‘patrol groups’ seem warranted.

    The concerns about these ‘national militia’ are only exacerbated by the behaviour of the Kyiv police during an attempt to hold a gathering in remembrance of slain lawyer Stas Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova on January 19. Members of the neo-Nazi C14 group turned up, reportedly flanked by some Russian and Belarusian neo-Nazis, and began so openly threatening those who had come for the remembrance gathering that the latter abandoned their attempt.

    The police had not just failed to protect one group of citizens exercising their right to peaceful assembly. Before the gathering was even scheduled to begin, the police detained eight activists. They later tried to claim that there had been no detention, and that the activists had been ‘invited’ to the police station.

    What followed was even more sinister. The detained activists reported later that they had been ‘hunted down’ by the far-right thugs after leaving the police station. A member of the Human Rights Information Centre who spoke with them believes that the thugs could have only discovered which station the activists were being held in from the police themselves.

    The administration of at least one district in Kyiv is known to have signed a memorandum of cooperation with the police and a civic organization («???????????? ?????») which is headed by a member of C14.

    “The administration of at least one district in Kyiv is known to have signed a memorandum of cooperation with the police and a civic organization («???????????? ?????») which is headed by a member of C14.”

    Don’t forget that “C14” stands for David Lane’s ’14 words’ neo-Nazi slogan.

    And then there was the appointment of Azov Battalion deputy commander Vadim Troyan as head of the Kyiv Regional Police Force in 2014 and his appointment as First Deputy Head of the National Police in 2016:


    Doubts were even more pronounced over the appointment of the former deputy commander of the Azov Battalion Vadim Troyan as head of the Kyiv Regional Police Force (and later position as First Deputy Head of the National Police from March 2016) . Although attempts were made to minimize Troyan’s involvement, he had also been a member of the racist and xenophobic ‘Patriot of Ukraine’.

    Troyan was also made the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine in 2017.

    So as we can see, there is plenty of reason to be concerned about Ukraine’s police effectively deputizing these neo-Nazi street militias because there’s plenty of evidence that this has already been going on for years.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 31, 2018, 3:10 pm
  2. Mr Emory, you may want to glean a bit of info from this translation from a Ukrainian news article about the oligarch Akhmetov. By the way, Ollie Richardson of the ‘Stalkerzone” is a British ex-pat & is not Russian. He has been devoted to issues surrounding the US-occupation of Ukraine & consequent affairs. Ollie is rabidly antifascist. http://www.stalkerzone.org/ukrainian-media-akhmetov-finances-ukrainian-nationalists/

    Posted by Sue Shpak | February 3, 2018, 8:32 pm
  3. Thanks for providing your insightful & well researched investigation over these recent events in Ukraine. This past week, former President Kuchma even announced that “Ukraine is falling apart”. Its doubtful that ‘Humpty Dumpsky’ can ever be put back together again.

    Posted by Sue Shpak | February 3, 2018, 8:36 pm
  4. Posted by Sue Shpak | February 4, 2018, 6:34 pm
  5. More details concerning Tether’s venture. Clearly this is the step toward launching Ukraine into a US/NATO military platform. Ukraine creates UkrARPA – agency responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military https://www.1492news.com/news/37770_1481912582

    Posted by Sue Shpak | February 4, 2018, 7:09 pm
  6. @Sue Shpak–

    Thanks so much!

    The “Tethering” of Ukroboronprom should be weighed against Ukraine’s successful testing of a precision-guided cruise missile, as reported by the “Kyiv Post”.

    There has been speculation as to how they came up with that technology.

    I have a hunch how it might have happened.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | February 5, 2018, 3:16 pm
  7. Scholarly review of Prof Ivan Katchanovski Univ of Ottawa: Testimonies of witnessnes surrounding snipers on Maidan. https://www.academia.edu/35853718/Video_Appendix_B_Testimonies_of_60_Witnesses_Concerning_Snipers_in_Maidan-Controlled_Buildings_and_Areas

    Posted by Susan Shpak | February 13, 2018, 6:44 pm
  8. Update on the alleged ‘Georgian snipers’, via Prof Katchanovski, Univ of Ottawa.
    Revelations from Nadiya Savchenko’s testimonial – note: this was the convicted murderer & fascist whose sentence was commuted due to a Russia/Ukraine prisoner swap. Incidently, Savchenko recently announced her bid for running for Ukraine’s 2019 Presidency. Boy, they can really pick mega-losers!
    https://twitter.com/I_Katchanovski/status/974306688881733632

    Posted by Susan Shpak | March 15, 2018, 4:47 pm
  9. Here’s another example of how the neo-Nazi militias in Ukraine are mainstream themselves: First, they use the parallel messages of “we aren’t Nazis” combined with “but if we were Nazis, that wouldn’t really be so bad.” Second, they are assuming police-like powers. So we have situation where the neo-Nazi militias are assuming police-like power while assuring everyone not to worry because they aren’t actually Nazis (but if they were neo-Nazis there would still be nothing to worry about):

    The Guardian

    Ukraine’s National Militia: ‘We’re not neo-Nazis, we just want to make our country better’

    Ultranationalist group with neo-Nazi links says it has been driven to action by ‘impotent’ police

    Marc Bennetts in Kiev

    Tue 13 Mar 2018 01.00 EDT

    Just past midnight in a snow-covered forest near Kiev, four men dressed in black with truncheons strapped to their waists listen carefully for the telltale buzzing of chainsaws that belong to illegal loggers. “The police in our country are ineffective, corrupt or drunk,” says Zhenya, one of the men. “That’s why we have to deal with this problem ourselves.”

    These woodland vigilantes, all in their early to mid-twenties, are not your typical environmental activists. They are members of the National Militia, an ultranationalist organisation closely linked to Ukraine’s Azov movement, a far-right group with a military wing that contains openly neo-Nazi members, and its political spin-off, the National Corpus party.

    “There’s nothing inherently wrong with national socialism as a political idea,” says Alexei, another militia member, as the men move stealthily through moonlit trees frosted with ice. “I don’t know why everyone always associates it immediately with concentration camps.”

    Besides illegal logging, the National Militia says it aims to crack down on street crime, drug dealing and public alcoholism. “There are many of us. We are not scared to use force to establish a Ukrainian order,” it said in a recent statement.

    On 29 January, hooded militia members turned up at a municipal council meeting in Cherkasy, in central Ukraine, and reportedly refused to let officials leave the building until they had approved the city’s long-delayed budget.

    The National Militia says its members are all volunteers, and that expenses are covered by businesses and individuals sympathetic to its activities.

    National Militia members include veterans of Ukraine’s four-year war against Russian-led separatists, as well as former football hooligans who took part in Ukraine’s 2013-14 revolution. Some are “straight edge” fitness fanatics who neither drink nor smoke. Many have no memory of life in the Soviet Union, having grown up in independent Ukraine, where trust in law enforcement agencies remains low despite recent police reforms.

    “The police reforms were like pouring chocolate on shit,” said Alexei, after he and his fellow militia members had abandoned their unsuccessful search for illegal loggers. “It’s still shit, you know?”

    Although the National Militia has been operating for a year, even conducting street patrols in towns and cities under Ukrainian government control, the group entered the spotlight late last month when about 600 of its members marched through central Kiev. Some wore camouflage gear, while others dressed in black with balaclavas covering their faces. This provocative show of strength culminated at a torch-illuminated fortress, where militia members swore oaths of allegiance to Andriy Biletsky, an ultranationalist MP who heads the National Corpus party.

    “When the authorities are impotent and cannot solve issues of vital importance for society, then simple, ordinary people are forced to take responsibility upon themselves,” Biletsky told Ukrainian media.

    Biletsky has toned down his rhetoric in recent years, but the former Azov battalion commander declared in 2010 that the Ukrainian nation’s mission was to “lead the white races of the world in a final crusade … against Semite-led Untermenschen [subhumans]”.

    While Ukrainian law allows unarmed civilian organisations to assist law enforcement agencies, for many observers the ceremony in Kiev was reminiscent of 1930s Germany and kindled fears that Ukraine’s shaky democracy was in danger of being hijacked by an increasingly confident far right. National Corpus and other far-right parties are polling at less than 5%, but analysts say they could exploit Ukraine’s economic and social instability to boost their electoral chances.

    National Militia officials says the concerns are unwarranted. “If the world is worried about the threat of Ukrainian neo-Nazism, I can assure you we are not neo-Nazis; we are simply people who want to change our country for the better,” said Ihor Vdovin, a spokesman for the National Militia. “We don’t want to establish some kind of white order.”

    Vdovin said, however, that he could not answer for members of the militia who espouse white supremacist or neo-Nazis views.

    “People got frightened when they saw how organised and disciplined the march in Kiev was,” said Stepan Holovko, a high-ranking member of National Corpus. “But why should we apologise for the fact that our people can carry out the tasks they’ve been set?”

    Azov and National Corpus have been linked to Arsen Avakov, the Ukrainian interior minister who is seen as a possible successor to Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s unpopular president. Avakov has quelled speculation that the National Militia is his own private army, saying he would not allow “parallel structures” to challenge the authority of the police.

    Vyacheslav Likhachev, head of the National Minority Rights Monitoring Group, suggested that the militia’s activities were aimed at making National Corpus stand out from rival ultranationalist parties ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections. “They are trying to prove that they have more hardcore activists they can mobilise on a street level.”

    ———-

    “Ukraine’s National Militia: ‘We’re not neo-Nazis, we just want to make our country better'” by Marc Bennetts; The Guardian; 03/13/2018

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with national socialism as a political idea…I don’t know why everyone always associates it immediately with concentration camps.”

    Yes, who knows why people always immediately associate Nazism with concentration camps?! It’s such a mystery.

    And this militia volunteer who can’t understand why people think there’s something wrong with national socialism is part of a vigilante group patrolling the forests look for illegal loggers. Or cracking down on street crime, drug dealing and public alcoholism. In other words, they’re trying to become the new police, with their expenses covered by businesses and sympathetic individuals:


    Just past midnight in a snow-covered forest near Kiev, four men dressed in black with truncheons strapped to their waists listen carefully for the telltale buzzing of chainsaws that belong to illegal loggers. “The police in our country are ineffective, corrupt or drunk,” says Zhenya, one of the men. “That’s why we have to deal with this problem ourselves.”

    These woodland vigilantes, all in their early to mid-twenties, are not your typical environmental activists. They are members of the National Militia, an ultranationalist organisation closely linked to Ukraine’s Azov movement, a far-right group with a military wing that contains openly neo-Nazi members, and its political spin-off, the National Corpus party.

    Besides illegal logging, the National Militia says it aims to crack down on street crime, drug dealing and public alcoholism. “There are many of us. We are not scared to use force to establish a Ukrainian order,” it said in a recent statement.

    On 29 January, hooded militia members turned up at a municipal council meeting in Cherkasy, in central Ukraine, and reportedly refused to let officials leave the building until they had approved the city’s long-delayed budget.

    The National Militia says its members are all volunteers, and that expenses are covered by businesses and individuals sympathetic to its activities.

    And just last month 600 members of the neo-Nazi National Militia marched through central Kiev in a torch-light parade as a show of force, culminating in oaths of allegiance to Andrey Biletsky, a guy who declared that Ukrainian nation’s mission was to “lead the white races of the world in a final crusade … against Semite-led Untermenschen [subhumans]” back in 2010:


    Although the National Militia has been operating for a year, even conducting street patrols in towns and cities under Ukrainian government control, the group entered the spotlight late last month when about 600 of its members marched through central Kiev. Some wore camouflage gear, while others dressed in black with balaclavas covering their faces. This provocative show of strength culminated at a torch-illuminated fortress, where militia members swore oaths of allegiance to Andriy Biletsky, an ultranationalist MP who heads the National Corpus party.

    “When the authorities are impotent and cannot solve issues of vital importance for society, then simple, ordinary people are forced to take responsibility upon themselves,” Biletsky told Ukrainian media.

    Biletsky has toned down his rhetoric in recent years, but the former Azov battalion commander declared in 2010 that the Ukrainian nation’s mission was to “lead the white races of the world in a final crusade … against Semite-led Untermenschen [subhumans]”.

    But a spokesman for the National Militia, Ihor Vdovin, assures us that there’s nothing to worry about and they aren’t really trying to “establish some kind of white order”. Although Vdovin admits that he can’t speak for the members of the militia who espouse white supremacist or neo-Nazis views:


    While Ukrainian law allows unarmed civilian organisations to assist law enforcement agencies, for many observers the ceremony in Kiev was reminiscent of 1930s Germany and kindled fears that Ukraine’s shaky democracy was in danger of being hijacked by an increasingly confident far right. National Corpus and other far-right parties are polling at less than 5%, but analysts say they could exploit Ukraine’s economic and social instability to boost their electoral chances.

    “We are concerned about rising nationalism in Ukraine and the government’s seeming unwillingness to rein it in. Ukraine’s international donors and supporters should be very worried,” said Tanya Cooper, Ukraine researcher for Human Rights Watch.

    National Militia officials says the concerns are unwarranted. “If the world is worried about the threat of Ukrainian neo-Nazism, I can assure you we are not neo-Nazis; we are simply people who want to change our country for the better,” said Ihor Vdovin, a spokesman for the National Militia. “We don’t want to establish some kind of white order.”

    Vdovin said, however, that he could not answer for members of the militia who espouse white supremacist or neo-Nazis views.

    “Vdovin said, however, that he could not answer for members of the militia who espouse white supremacist or neo-Nazis views.”

    And there we have it: there’s no need to worry about these neo-Nazi militias assuming police powers because…

    1. They aren’t actually Nazis trying to “establish some kind of white order.” They really just want to “change our country for the better.”

    2. But if they were Nazis that would be fine because Nazism is perfectly acceptable.

    3. Ok, there may be Nazis in the group who might actually be trying to establish some kind of white order. But why is everyone assuming this will immediately lead to concentration camps?! There’s nothing to worry about!

    It’s the goose-step two-step and the neo-Nazis are marching it on their way to real power in Ukraine.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 19, 2018, 11:56 am
  10. Here’s another piece by Josh Cohen – a former USAID project officer for the former Soviet Union who does a decent job of calling out the neo-Nazi threat to Ukraine – on the growing ‘law enforcement’ role the neo-Nazi militias are assuming. Often with approval of the police and local government. For instance, the Kiev city government recently signed an agreement giving C14 – the militia literally named after the white supremacist ’14 words’ slogan – the right to establish a “municipal guard” to patrol the streets there.

    But as Cohen also notes, this type of neo-Nazi militia-enforced ‘law enforcement’ isn’t just interested in cracking down on things like public drunkenness or other ‘vices’. They’re also cracking down on left-wing activism. Like LGBT and anti-war activism. As a result, left-wing activists describe a growing climate of fear in the country.

    And as the article also notes, while the far-right may not be winning at the ballot box, they still powerful political protection, largely due to the close relationship between Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and figures like Azov leader Andriy Biletsk and Sergei Korotkykh, an Azov veteran who is now a high-ranking police official. And Avakov’s Peoples’ Party is the main partner in the parliamentary coalition led by Poroshenko’s Bloc. So if Petro Poroshenko decided to challenge Avakov and challenge the growing role of these neo-Nazi militias, his governing coalition would probably collapse. And that’s all part of why Ukraine’s neo-Nazi problem isn’t just a problem of popular support for the neo-Nazi militias, although the level of popular support they enjoy is still disturbingly high. It’s also a problem these neo-Nazi militias retaining real ties to significant political power that they’re using to seize even more power whether or not there’s widespread popular support for this:

    Reuters

    Commentary: Ukraine’s neo-Nazi problem

    Josh Cohen
    March 19, 2018 / 5:00 PM / Updated

    As Ukraine’s struggle against Russia and its proxies continues, Kiev must also contend with a growing problem behind the front lines: far-right vigilantes who are willing to use intimidation and even violence to advance their agendas, and who often do so with the tacit approval of law enforcement agencies.

    A January 28 demonstration, in Kiev, by 600 members of the so-called “National Militia,” a newly-formed ultranationalist group that vows “to use force to establish order,” illustrates this threat. While the group’s Kiev launch was peaceful, National Militia members in balaclavas stormed a city council meeting in the central Ukrainian town of Cherkasy the following day, skirmishing with deputies and forcing them to pass a new budget.

    Many of the National Militia’s members come from the Azov movement, one of the 30-odd privately-funded “volunteer battalions” that, in the early days of the war, helped the regular army to defend Ukrainian territory against Russia’s separatist proxies. Although Azov uses Nazi-era symbolism and recruits neo-Nazis into its ranks, a recent article in Foreign Affairs downplayed any risks the group might pose, pointing out that, like other volunteer militias, Azov has been “reined in” through its integration into Ukraine’s armed forces. While it’s true that private militias no longer rule the battlefront, it’s the home front that Kiev needs to worry about now.

    When Russian President Vladimir Putin’s seizure of Crimea four years ago first exposed the decrepit condition of Ukraine’s armed forces, right-wing militias such as Azov and Right Sector stepped into the breach, fending off the Russian-backed separatists while Ukraine’s regular military regrouped. Though, as a result, many Ukrainians continue to regard the militias with gratitude and admiration, the more extreme among these groups promote an intolerant and illiberal ideology that will endanger Ukraine in the long term. Since the Crimean crisis, the militias have been formally integrated into Ukraine’s armed forces, but some have resisted full integration: Azov, for example, runs its own children’s training camp, and the careers section instructs recruits who wish to transfer to Azov from a regular military unit.

    According to Freedom House’s Ukraine project director Matthew Schaaf, “numerous organized radical right-wing groups exist in Ukraine, and while the volunteer battalions may have been officially integrated into state structures, some of them have since spun off political and non-profit structures to implement their vision.” Schaaf noted that “an increase in patriotic discourse supporting Ukraine in its conflict with Russia has coincided with an apparent increase in both public hate speech, sometimes by public officials and magnified by the media, as well as violence towards vulnerable groups such as the LGBT community,” an observation that is supported by a recent Council of Europe study.

    In recent months, Ukraine has experienced a wave of unchecked vigilantism. Institute Respublica, a local pro-democracy NGO, reported that activists are frequently harassed by vigilantes when holding legal meetings or rallies related to politically-controversial positions, such as the promotion of LGBT rights or opposition to the war. Azov and other militias have attacked anti-fascist demonstrations, city council meetings, media outlets, art exhibitions, foreign students and Roma. Progressive activists describe a new climate of fear that they say has been intensifying ever since last year’s near-fatal stabbing of anti-war activist Stas Serhiyenko, which is believed to have been perpetrated by an extremist group named C14 (the name refers to a 14-word slogan popular among white supremacists). Brutal attacks this month on International Women’s Day marches in several Ukrainian cities prompted an unusually forceful statement from Amnesty International, which warned that “the Ukrainian state is rapidly losing its monopoly on violence.”

    Ukraine is not the only country that must contend with a resurgent far right. But Kiev’s recent efforts to incorporate independent armed groups into its regular armed forces, as well as a continuing national sense of indebtedness to the militias for their defense of the homeland, make addressing the ultranationalist threat considerably more complicated than it is elsewhere. According to Schaaf and the Institute Respublica, Ukrainian extremists are rarely punished for acts of violence. In some cases — such as C14’s January attack on a remembrance gathering for two murdered journalists — police actually detain peaceful demonstrators instead.

    To be clear, the Kremlin’s claims that Ukraine is a hornets’ nest of fascists are false: far-right parties performed poorly in Ukraine’s last parliamentary elections, and Ukrainians reacted with alarm to the National Militia’s demonstration in Kiev. But connections between law enforcement agencies and extremists give Ukraine’s Western allies ample reason for concern. C14 and Kiev’s city government recently signed an agreement allowing C14 to establish a “municipal guard” to patrol the streets; three such militia-run guard forces are already registered in Kiev, and at least 21 operate in other cities.

    In an ideal world, President Petro Poroshenko would purge the police and the interior ministry of far-right sympathizers, including Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, who has close ties to Azov leader Andriy Biletsky, as well as Sergei Korotkykh, an Azov veteran who is now a high-ranking police official. But Poroshenko would risk major repercussions if he did so; Avakov is his chief political rival, and the ministry he runs controls the police, the National Guard and several former militias.

    As one Ukrainian analyst noted in December, control of these forces make Avakov extremely powerful and Poroshenko’s presidency might not be strong enough to withstand the kind of direct confrontation with Avakov that an attempt to oust him or to strike at his power base could well produce. Poroshenko has endured frequent verbal threats, including calls for revolution, from ultranationalist groups, so he may believe that he needs Avakov to keep them in check.

    Avakov’s Peoples’ Party status as the main partner in Ukraine’s parliamentary coalition increases Avakov’s leverage over Poroshenko’s Bloc. An attempt to fire Avakov could imperil Poroshenko’s slim legislative majority, and lead to early parliamentary elections. Given Poroshenko’s current unpopularity, this is a scenario he will likely try to avoid.

    Despite his weak position, Poroshenko still has some options for reducing the threat from the far right. Though Avakov controls the Ukraine’s police and National Guard, Poroshenko still commands Ukraine’s security and intelligence services, the SBU, and could instruct the agency to cut its ties with C14 and other extremist groups. Poroshenko should also express public support for marginalized groups like the Roma and LGBT communities, and affirm his commitment to protecting their rights.

    Western diplomats and human rights organizations must urge Ukraine’s government to uphold the rule of law and to stop allowing the far right to act with impunity. International donors can help by funding more initiatives like the United States Agency for International Development’s projects supporting training for Ukrainian lawyers and human rights defenders, and improving equitable access to the judicial system for marginalized communities.

    (Josh Cohen is a former USAID project officer involved in managing economic reform projects in the former Soviet Union.)

    ———-

    “Commentary: Ukraine’s neo-Nazi problem” by Josh Cohen; Reuters; 03/19/2018

    “As Ukraine’s struggle against Russia and its proxies continues, Kiev must also contend with a growing problem behind the front lines: far-right vigilantes who are willing to use intimidation and even violence to advance their agendas, and who often do so with the tacit approval of law enforcement agencies.

    Vigilante neo-Nazi militias operating with the tacit approval of law enforcement agencies. It’s pretty much a nightmare scenario. And this vigilante activity is increasingly targeting left-wing activism. Or, in the case of the C14 attack on a remembrance gathering for two murdered journalist, this neo-Nazi vigilantism is targeting the people mourning their prior neo-Nazi attacks:


    According to Freedom House’s Ukraine project director Matthew Schaaf, “numerous organized radical right-wing groups exist in Ukraine, and while the volunteer battalions may have been officially integrated into state structures, some of them have since spun off political and non-profit structures to implement their vision.” Schaaf noted that “an increase in patriotic discourse supporting Ukraine in its conflict with Russia has coincided with an apparent increase in both public hate speech, sometimes by public officials and magnified by the media, as well as violence towards vulnerable groups such as the LGBT community,” an observation that is supported by a recent Council of Europe study.

    In recent months, Ukraine has experienced a wave of unchecked vigilantism. Institute Respublica, a local pro-democracy NGO, reported that activists are frequently harassed by vigilantes when holding legal meetings or rallies related to politically-controversial positions, such as the promotion of LGBT rights or opposition to the war. Azov and other militias have attacked anti-fascist demonstrations, city council meetings, media outlets, art exhibitions, foreign students and Roma. Progressive activists describe a new climate of fear that they say has been intensifying ever since last year’s near-fatal stabbing of anti-war activist Stas Serhiyenko, which is believed to have been perpetrated by an extremist group named C14 (the name refers to a 14-word slogan popular among white supremacists). Brutal attacks this month on International Women’s Day marches in several Ukrainian cities prompted an unusually forceful statement from Amnesty International, which warned that “the Ukrainian state is rapidly losing its monopoly on violence.”

    Ukraine is not the only country that must contend with a resurgent far right. But Kiev’s recent efforts to incorporate independent armed groups into its regular armed forces, as well as a continuing national sense of indebtedness to the militias for their defense of the homeland, make addressing the ultranationalist threat considerably more complicated than it is elsewhere. According to Schaaf and the Institute Respublica, Ukrainian extremists are rarely punished for acts of violence. In some cases — such as C14’s January attack on a remembrance gathering for two murdered journalists — police actually detain peaceful demonstrators instead.

    And, of course, C14 received approval by the Kiev city government to establish a “municipal guard” to patrol the streets:


    To be clear, the Kremlin’s claims that Ukraine is a hornets’ nest of fascists are false: far-right parties performed poorly in Ukraine’s last parliamentary elections, and Ukrainians reacted with alarm to the National Militia’s demonstration in Kiev. But connections between law enforcement agencies and extremists give Ukraine’s Western allies ample reason for concern. C14 and Kiev’s city government recently signed an agreement allowing C14 to establish a “municipal guard” to patrol the streets; three such militia-run guard forces are already registered in Kiev, and at least 21 operate in other cities.

    And as Cohen points out, in an ideal world, President Poroshenko would purge the police and the interior ministry of far-right sympathizers, including Interior Minister Arsen Avakov. But he can’t. Because Avakov’s support is too important for Poroshenko’s coalition:


    In an ideal world, President Petro Poroshenko would purge the police and the interior ministry of far-right sympathizers, including Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, who has close ties to Azov leader Andriy Biletsky, as well as Sergei Korotkykh, an Azov veteran who is now a high-ranking police official. But Poroshenko would risk major repercussions if he did so; Avakov is his chief political rival, and the ministry he runs controls the police, the National Guard and several former militias.

    As one Ukrainian analyst noted in December, control of these forces make Avakov extremely powerful and Poroshenko’s presidency might not be strong enough to withstand the kind of direct confrontation with Avakov that an attempt to oust him or to strike at his power base could well produce. Poroshenko has endured frequent verbal threats, including calls for revolution, from ultranationalist groups, so he may believe that he needs Avakov to keep them in check.

    Avakov’s Peoples’ Party status as the main partner in Ukraine’s parliamentary coalition increases Avakov’s leverage over Poroshenko’s Bloc. An attempt to fire Avakov could imperil Poroshenko’s slim legislative majority, and lead to early parliamentary elections. Given Poroshenko’s current unpopularity, this is a scenario he will likely try to avoid.

    So, as we can see, the neo-Nazi militias in Ukraine are increasingly becoming the neo-Nazi police force. And this is happening with the tacit approval of the actual police and government.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 20, 2018, 3:44 pm

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