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

News & Supplemental  

The Fires This Time

Pravy Sektor

Swoboda leader Oleh Tiahanybok salutes

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash drive that can be obtained here. (The flash drive includes the anti-fascist books avail­able on this site.)

COMMENT: Robert Parry has posted another useful story on the Ukrainian crisis. Noting the OUN/B heritage of Swoboda and Pravy Sektor in the current Ukrainian government, he correlates that Nazi heritage with the lethal firebombing of pro-Russian demonstrators in the Black Sea port city of Odessa. 

(We have covered the ascension of the OUN/B heirs in the Ukraine in a number of programs: FTR ‘s 777778779780781782, 783784.)

Apparently perpetrated by a street-fighting contingent acting in accordance with the tactical principles of both Pravy Sektor and Swoboda, the firebombing is reminiscent of the massacre of residents of the Polish city of Huta Pienacka by the Galician Division (14th Waffen SS.)

As discussed in FTR #781, the Yuschenko regime in the Ukraine that came to power through the so-called Orange Revolution fundamentally re-wrote the history of World War II in that part of Europe, under supervision of the Institute of National Memory, operated by OUN/B activists. Denying the responsibility for the Huta Pienacka massacre was an element of the revisionism crafted by the Ukrainian “Ministry of Truth.”

In addition, Parry notes an OUN/B involvement with the Reagan administration’s U.S. Information Agency and Radio Liberty, coloring broadcasts in the 1980’s in a pro-Nazi fashion.

In FTR #’s 777, 778, we went into much greater depth, noting the evolution of the OUN/B and the overlapping Gehlen spy outfit and Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations. We chronicled the CIA/OPC sponsorship of OUN/B guerilla cadres formed by the Third Reich and perpetuating their combat into the early 1950’s. OUN/B elements figured in the assassination of JFK.

OUN/B evolved through their inclusion in the Crusade for Freedom, and became an important element of the GOP and the Reagan administration. Along with other elements of the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations, the OUN/B was centrally involved with the destabilization of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe through the Free Congress Foundation. 

Ykaterina Chumachenko–a key OUN/B operative and Deputy Director of Public Liaison for Reagan–married Viktor Yuschenko, who presided over the revision of Ukrainian World War II history by OUN/B.

That is the sad, tragic background to the current conflagration.

“Ukraine’s ‘Dr. Strangelove’ Reality” by Robert Parry; Consortiumnews.com; 5/5/2014.

ENTIRE TEXT: As much as the coup regime in Ukraine and its supporters want to project an image of Western moderation, there is a “Dr. Strangelove” element that can’t stop the Nazism from popping up from time to time, like when the Peter Sellers character in the classic movie can’t keep his right arm from making a “Heil Hitler” salute.

This brutal Nazism surfaced again on Friday when right-wing toughs in Odessa attacked an encampment of ethnic Russian protesters driving them into a trade union building which was then set on fire with Molotov cocktails. As the building was engulfed in flames, some people who tried to flee were chased and beaten, while those trapped inside heard the Ukrainian nationalists liken them to black-and-red-striped potato beetles called Colorados, because those colors are used in pro-Russian ribbons.

“Burn, Colorado, burn” went the chant.

As the fire worsened, those dying inside were serenaded with the taunting singing of the Ukrainian national anthem. The building also was spray-painted with Swastika-like symbols and graffiti reading “Galician SS,” a reference to the Ukrainian nationalist army that fought alongside the German Nazi SS in World War II, killing Russians on the eastern front.

The death by fire of dozens of people in Odessa recalled a World War II incident in 1944 when elements of a Galician SS police regiment took part in the massacre of the Polish village of Huta Pieniacka, which had been a refuge for Jews and was protected by Russian and Polish partisans. Attacked by a mixed force of Ukrainian police and German soldiers on Feb. 28, hundreds of townspeople were massacred, including many locked in barns that were set ablaze.

The legacy of World War II – especially the bitter fight between Ukrainian nationalists from the west and ethnic Russians from the east seven decades ago – is never far from the surface in Ukrainian politics. One of the heroes celebrated during the Maidan protests in Kiev was Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, whose name was honored in many banners including one on a podium where Sen. John McCain voiced support for the uprising to oust elected President Viktor Yanukovych, whose political base was in eastern Ukraine.

During World War II, Bandera headed the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-B, a radical paramilitary movement that sought to transform Ukraine into a racially pure state. OUN-B took part in the expulsion and extermination of thousands of Jews and Poles.

Though most of the Maidan protesters in 2013-14 appeared motivated by anger over political corruption and by a desire to join the European Union, neo-Nazis made up a significant number. These storm troopers from the Right Sektor and Svoboda party decked out some of the occupied government buildings with Nazi insignias and even a Confederate battle flag, the universal symbol of white supremacy.

Then, as the protests turned violent from Feb. 20-22, the neo-Nazis surged to the forefront. Their well-trained militias, organized in 100-man brigades called “the hundreds,” led the final assaults against police and forced Yanukovych and many of his officials to flee for their lives.

In the days after the coup, as the neo-Nazi militias effectively controlled the government, European and U.S. diplomats scrambled to help the shaken parliament put together the semblance of a respectable regime, although four ministries, including national security, were awarded to the right-wing extremists in recognition of their crucial role in ousting Yanukovych.

Seeing No Nazis

Since February, virtually the entire U.S. news media has cooperated in the effort to play down the neo-Nazi role, dismissing any mention of this inconvenient truth as “Russian propaganda.” Stories in the U.S. media delicately step around the neo-Nazi reality by keeping out relevant context, such as the background of national security chief Andriy Parubiy, who founded the Social-National Party of Ukraine in 1991, blending radical Ukrainian nationalism with neo-Nazi symbols. Parubiy was commandant of the Maidan’s “self-defense forces.” [Parubiy belongs to Swoboda–D.E.] 

When the neo-Nazi factor is mentioned in the mainstream U.S. press, it is usually to dismiss it as nonsense, such as an April 20 column by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof who visited his ancestral home, the western Ukrainian town of Karapchiv, and portrayed its residents as the true voice of the Ukrainian people.

“To understand why Ukrainians are risking war with Russia to try to pluck themselves from Moscow’s grip, I came to this village where my father grew up,” he wrote. “Even here in the village, Ukrainians watch Russian television and loathe the propaganda portraying them as neo-Nazi thugs rampaging against Russian speakers.

“‘If you listen to them, we all carry assault rifles; we’re all beating people,’ Ilya Moskal, a history teacher, said contemptuously.”

In an April 17 column from Kiev, Kristof wrote that what the Ukrainians want is weapons from the West so they can to go “bear-hunting,” i.e. killing Russians. “People seem to feel a bit disappointed that the United States and Europe haven’t been more supportive, and they are humiliated that their own acting government hasn’t done more to confront Russian-backed militants. So, especially after a few drinks, people are ready to take down the Russian Army themselves.”

Kristof also repeated the U.S. “conventional wisdom” that the resistance to the coup regime among eastern Ukrainians was entirely the work of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who, Kristof wrote, “warns that Ukraine is on the brink of civil war. But the chaos in eastern cities is his own creation, in part by sending provocateurs across the border.”

However, when the New York Times finally sent two reporters to spend time with rebels from the east, they encountered an indigenous movement motivated by hostility to the Kiev regime and showing no signs of direction from Moscow. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Another NYT ‘Sort of’ Retraction on Ukraine.”]

Beyond the journalistic risk of jumping to conclusions, Kristof, who fancies himself a great humanitarian, also should recognize that the clever depiction of human beings as animals, whether as “bears” or “Colorado beetles,” can have horrendous human consequences as is now apparent in Odessa.

Reagan’s Nazis

But the problem with some western Ukrainians expressing their inconvenient love for Nazis has not been limited to the current crisis. It bedeviled Ronald Reagan’s administration when it began heating up the Cold War in the 1980s.

As part of that strategy, Reagan’s United States Information Agency, under his close friend Charles Wick, hired a cast of right-wing Ukrainian exiles who began showing up on U.S.-funded Radio Liberty praising the Galician SS.

These commentaries included positive depictions of Ukrainian nationalists who had sided with the Nazis in World War II as the SS waged its “final solution” against European Jews. The propaganda broadcasts provoked outrage from Jewish organizations, such as B’nai B’rith, and individuals including conservative academic Richard Pipes.

According to an internal memo dated May 4, 1984, and written by James Critchlow, a research officer at the Board of International Broadcasting, which managed Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe, one RL broadcast in particular was viewed as “defending Ukrainians who fought in the ranks of the SS.”

Critchlow wrote, “An RL Ukrainian broadcast of Feb. 12, 1984 contains references to the Nazi-oriented Ukrainian-manned SS ‘Galicia’ Division of World War II which may have damaged RL’s reputation with Soviet listeners. The memoirs of a German diplomat are quoted in a way that seems to constitute endorsement by RL of praise for Ukrainian volunteers in the SS division, which during its existence fought side by side with the Germans against the Red Army.”

Harvard Professor Pipes, who was an informal adviser to the Reagan administration, also inveighed against the Radio Liberty broadcasts, writing – on Dec. 3, 1984 – “the Russian and Ukrainian services of RL have been transmitting this year blatantly anti-Semitic material to the Soviet Union which may cause the whole enterprise irreparable harm.” . . . .

 

 

 

Discussion

13 comments for “The Fires This Time”

  1. Nazis burned Odessa Trade-Union Hall on *May 2, 2014* to celebrate storming of Berlin Trade-Union Headquarters by Hitler’s SA on *May 2, 1933*. Russia Today refuses to make the connection. Western (pro-)Nazi media tries to say it was done to celebrate May Day. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqoOugw46BY Organized labor silent.

    Posted by Atlanta Bill | May 6, 2014, 4:12 am
  2. This probably isn’t going to go over well…

    The Wall Street Journal
    Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Government Says
    Rebels Accidentally Dropped Molotov Cocktails on Roof, According to Preliminary Investigation

    By Philip Shishkin in Odessa, Ukraine and
    Lukas I. Alpert in Moscow

    Updated May 6, 2014 3:34 p.m. ET

    A horrific fire last week that killed dozens in a hulking Odessa building where pro-Russian protesters had taken cover was likely sparked by rebels on the roof who accidentally dropped Molotov cocktails, according to a preliminary investigation by the government.

    The finding is likely to further anger separatists in eastern Ukraine who view the new government in Kiev with deep suspicion. It comes as authorities said the situation on the border with Russia has grown increasingly tense, and France warned of the prospect of “chaos and civil war” if the presidential election set for this month is upended.

    The two-month-old government has been pressing a military offensive in the east to try to quell a pro-Russian insurgency, but is increasingly losing its grip in the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, which border Russia. The unrest spread Friday to the Black Sea port of Odessa, which was hit by rioting that led to a fire that claimed 42 lives.

    Serhiy Chebotar, Ukraine’s deputy interior minister, who is now working in Odessa, said Tuesday that the fire began on the top floors and quickly spread through the trade-union building, where pro-Russian protesters had taken refuge from a mob of pro-Kiev militants.

    “The fire began from the roof. There were extremists there, we found casings and firearms,” Mr. Chebotar said. “But something unexpected happened; their Molotov cocktails fell, and ignited the higher floors of the building.”

    This version of events is likely to be contested by grieving relatives of those who perished in the fire or died jumping out of windows. Four others were killed in the rioting that day.

    Pro-Russian activists in Odessa believe the fire was a deliberate atrocity committed by Ukrainian nationalists. Russian media have compared the fire to the worst Nazi crimes against civiliansin World War IIand suggested it was a plot by Kiev.

    “We are dealing with real genocide, a genocide of Russian and Ukrainian people in today’s 21st century,” the speaker of the lower house of Russia’s parliament, Sergei Naryshkin, said of the fire, which he blamed on “riotous radicals,” the Interfax news agency reported.

    Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov on Tuesday dismissed the head of the Odessa regional administration, having already fired the chief of the regional police and much of his senior staff.

    The fire occurred after a pro-Ukraine rally was attacked by pro-Russian protesters, whose ranks included a small group of armed militants. The fighting escalated before some people escaped to the building. Both sides threw Molotov cocktails.

    Video footage shows some pro-Ukraine activists helping people trapped in the burning building escape by leaning scaffolding against the walls. There were other pro-Ukraine protesters who were attacking people.

    Meanwhile, pro-Russian militants, who call Mr. Yanukovych’s ouster an illegal coup, aim to hold a referendum Sunday in areas under their control on possible independence.

    Ukraine’s Border Guard Service said tension along the border with Russia had risen since the start of the month, citing two attempts to attack guards and take their guns on Monday.

    “Groups of local citizens threaten the border guards, saying that they must switch over to the side of the separatists,” agency spokesman Oleg Slobodyan said on Tuesday.

    Russia has tens of thousands of troops stationed along the border and has said it reserves the right to intervene in Ukraine if it feels ethnic Russians living there are under threat.

    Mr. Slobodyan said “provocative Russian military movements” could be seen along the border late last week, but they had ceased in recent days.

    In Kiev, the parliament held a special closed session to hear a report from security chiefs, amid concerns that the violence could spread into the capital in an attempt to disrupt the elections.

    Members of Ukraine’s Communist faction in parliament, who openly express Russian sympathies, weren’t allowed into the session.

    The head of the state Security Service, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, urged people to avoid Victory Day festivities on Friday—a celebration of Nazi Germany’s defeat in World War II—as there were fears that separatists would seek to engineer provocations.

    Ugh. But it’s not all ominous news. Putin called on the separatists to postpone thier planned referendum on secession and also appears to be pulling Russian troops back from the border today. So it’s possible we’re seeing the start of a sustained attempt at a reduction in tensions (or at least a pause in the build up) in the lead up to the elections. What happens after that is very difficult to say.

    Well, ok, austerity will presumably take place no matter what happens and the impact of that austerity will probably fuel growing discontent, separatism, radical politics, and lay the foundations for a lost generation in the months and years to come because that’s what mindless, brutal austerity does to a populace. But beyond austerity-induced socioeconomic hopelessness it’s still very unclear what else to expect in Ukraine’s future.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 7, 2014, 2:06 pm
  3. The “Trash Bucket Challenge”: the popular new way for Ukraine to throw away its civil society, brought to you by the usual suspects:

    The Telegraph
    Up to a dozen Ukraine officials dumped in wheelie bins
    ‘Trash bucket challenge’ spreads across Ukraine as activisits throw politicians into rubbish bins to ‘punish corruption’

    By Roland Oliphant, Kiev

    10:12AM BST 07 Oct 2014

    It’s a bad time to be a Ukrainian politician.

    The war in the east refuses to end, despite a “ceasefire”. Winter is approaching, and with it all the worries of another “gas-war” with Russia. And with parliamentary elections just weeks away, pre-revolutionary MPs are getting nervous about hanging on to their jobs.

    To make things worse, there is a growing chance of ending up in a wheelie bin.

    Since early September up to a dozen MPs, city councillors and other officials accused of wrong doing have been hauled from their offices by masked gangs in what has become know as the “Trash Bucket Challenge.”

    The perpetrators – often members of the radical right-wing group Right Sector – say the public humiliations are to punish the corruption and criminality that characterised the previous regime.

    But critics warn the attacks are just one step away from mob justice and public lynchings.

    “The main thing in our country now is that the criminals are all still there,” said Yury Mindiuk, the head of Right Sector’s central executive. “No one wants to implement the ideas of Maidan.”

    Right Sector emerged as an alliance of far right groups during the revolution, and earned a fearsome reputation as one of the most militant elements in the street fighting that led to Mr Yanukovych’s overthrow. Since then some members of the group have fought in the war in eastern Ukraine, but they have struggled to find political relevance in post-revolutionary politics.

    It was the group’s Odessa branch that came up with the idea last month, when they dumped Oleg Rudenko, a city insurance official accused of taking a £28,000 bribe, in a trash can.

    The stunt hit a chord. Soon Right Sector groups across the country were doing the same thing to anyone from MPs with links to the previous regime through to local municipal officials accused of taking bribes.

    On September 16 a mob grabbed and “binned” Vitaly Zhuravsky, an MP formerly of Mr Yanukovych’s now defunct Party of the Regions. On September 25 it was the turn of Viktor Pylypyshyn, another Party of the Regions man.

    In both cases activists seemed most upset about their support for repressive package of laws Mr Yanukovych rushed through parliament in a doomed bid to crush the anti-government protests in December.

    But it is not just MPs linked to Mr Yanukoych who are in danger. In the most recent incident on Right Sector’s website features a doctor from a municipal hospital in the small town of Terebolvya. The group says he was convicted of bribery three months ago.

    Others have taken up the “trash bucket challenge.” Oleh Lyashko, a controversial MP who has earned notoriety for his DIY “arrests” of suspected separatists in the east of the country, frog-marched a municipal official in Kirovograd into a wheelie bin for “lying.”

    It is meant to be a political street theatre, a public humiliation rather than a lynching. But the stunts can get frighteningly out of hand.

    Nestor Shufrych, another MP of Mr Yanukovych’s now disbanded Party of the Regions, ended up in hospital after his campaign stop in Odessa was interrupted by protesters.

    Police and body guards managed to get the MP to his campaign bus before the mob could dump him in a bin. But a video shows him taking a nasty beating before he made his escape. He later said he received a concussion during the violence.

    Mr Mindiuk later admitted the group had gone too far, and the incident prompted Arsen Avakov, the Interior Minister, issued a plea via his Facebook page for the radicals to desist.

    “Just a couple more broken faces like Shufrich’s or lynchings like Pylypyshin, and Europe will turn away from our victorious revolution,” he said. “Don’t be marginal morons, follow stupid instincts and provoke crowds to mob justice,” he wrote.

    That got short thrift from the radicals, however.

    “Avakov is the Moron,” Mr Lyashko wrote in his reply, “for not understanding that people act in such a radical way because there is no law.”

    “Today we’ll lustrate the Party of the Regions through the trash, and tomorrow we’ll throw Avakov on the landfill.”

    Both Right Sector and Mr Lyashko revel in their respective reputations for direct action – and, indeed, violence. But public backing for their tactics appears to be lukewarm.

    Although polling puts Mr Lyashko’s Radical party in second place at the up coming parliamentary elections on October 26, it is set to take little more than 10 percent of the vote.

    Right Sector’s leader Dmytro Yarosh took less than 1 percent of the vote at the presidential election in June, and the group does not look likely to make gains.

    Note that it sounds like the “Trash Bucket Challenge” emerged from the Right Sector in Odessa. It’s pretty ominous.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 8, 2014, 8:19 am
  4. The Kiev government just passed a law intended to purge the government of its past corrupting influences. Surely this means the government is about to strip the oligarchs of their immense power and commit to creating an open society for people of all races, religions, or creeds. Or maybe not:

    Ukraine could sack up to million officials with ties to Russian past
    AFP
    By Dmitry Zaks October 9, 2014 7:19 PM

    Kiev (AFP) – Ukraine’s president approved a disputed anti-graft measure on Thursday that could see up to a million civil servants with alleged links to past Soviet or pro-Russian governments immediately sacked.

    The so-called “lustration law” follows the example of other eastern European nations that broke free of decades of Moscow’s domination at the end of the Cold War.

    It was also a rallying cry of the protests that convulsed Kiev last winter and led to the ouster of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych and a secretive band of Ukrainian tycoons.

    The law removes anyone who held a federal or regional government position for more than a year under Yanukovych, who is now in self-imposed exile in Russia.

    It also sets up a special commission to investigate judges and law enforcement agents suspected of living lavish lifestyles on humble government wages.

    Another provision prevents anyone unable to explain their sources of income or assets from holding office for five to 10 years.

    Lawmakers’ initial failure to adopt the legislation last month sparked violent protests outside parliament that engulfed the building in the black smoke of burning tyres and brought riot police out on the streets.

    The bill itself says it was drafted to help “restore trust in the authorities and create a new system of government that corresponds to European standards”.

    “This is a historic day for Ukraine,” President Petro Poroshenko posted on his Facebook account.

    “The state machine will be cleansed. Glory to Ukraine!”

    – Way to settle scores? –

    But the legislation has been bitterly fought by lawmakers representing Russian-speaking eastern regions — the powerbase of the former regime and now partially controlled by separatist rebels.

    Its legality has also been questioned by the Council of Europe and business leaders who fear it will lead to a damaging exodus of competent bureaucrats.

    Even the president’s own special representative on children’s issues complained that it “violates basic rights and freedoms of citizens, is anti-constitutional and does not correspond to European judicial procedures or standards.”

    “It provides a way to settle scores with your (political) opponents,” children’s ombudsman Yuriy Pavlenko wrote on his Facebook account.

    Other clauses in the law bar anyone found guilty of backing separatist causes and anyone who worked as a prosecutor or held a top office when state agents shot dead nearly 100 protesters during the Kiev unrest.

    The commission can additionally probe civil servants’ links to the Soviet-era secret service and Communist Party.

    The measures have already prompted the resignation of two top finance and economy ministry officials who are respected by the business community but were hired during Yanukovych’s 2010-2014 presidency.

    A succession of recent governments have been riven by squabbles and business clan rivalries that stalled the adoption of crucial economic restructuring measures and left the country nearly bankrupt and dependent on foreign help.

    Yanukovych and his allies were accused of persecuting their predecessors and jailing former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko for political reasons.

    As the article notes, “Lawmakers’ initial failure to adopt the legislation last month sparked violent protests outside parliament that engulfed the building in the black smoke of burning tyres and brought riot police out on the streets”. Here’s a bit more on those protests:

    Vocative
    Watch Angry Ukrainian Protesters Throw a Politician in the Dumpster
    And hold him down by the neck
    Author: Sarah Kaufman
    Posted: 09/16/14 16:16 EDT

    It’s been a hell of a year for Ukraine. Months of fiery protest, the overthrow of a president, a Russian invasion and even a war.

    But despite a cease-fire that’s in effect, there’s no sign that things are settling down. On Tuesday, some activists of the extremist pro-Ukrainian party Avtomaidan threw a Ukrainian parliament member in a metal trash can, doused him with an unknown liquid and threatened to light him on fire. It was all part of a demonstration outside parliament in which hundreds of members of the far-right parties of Ukraine—Right Sector, Avtomaidan and Volya—demanded the passage of law on something called “lustration.”

    Lustration in Ukraine means cleansing the government from its past by screening officials and often punishing them for involvement in a past regime. Punishments can include stigmatization or removal from office. The point of lustration for many Ukrainians is to ensure the corruption that was so prevalent in the regime of Viktor Yanukovich, who was forced from office earlier this year, is eradicated. (The law passed, but it’s unclear what the net effect will be for members of parliament.)

    The YouTube video shows Vitaliy Stanislavovich Zhuravskiy, a Ukrainian MP since 1998 with no party affiliation, lying in a dumpster while a protester forcefully holds his head down. Demonstrators push and shove the dumpster in every direction until the cops grab Zhuravskiy’s hands and pull him out. In the background, demonstrators are burning tires and shoving police officers.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 11, 2014, 11:44 am
  5. The new normal for Ukraine’s democracy: give the far right what it wants. Or else:

    Associated Press
    Ukraine’s parliament in Kiev

    By PETER LEONARD 10/14/2014

    KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Clashes broke out Tuesday between demonstrators and police in front of Ukraine’s parliament in Kiev as deputies inside repeatedly voted down proposals to recognize a contentious World War II-era Ukrainian partisan group as national heroes.

    Thousands of Svoboda nationalist party supporters rallied earlier in the capital in celebration of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, whose struggle for independence for Ukraine was tainted by its collaboration with the Nazis.

    Later, masked men attacked and threw smoke grenades at lines of police outside parliament as lawmakers met inside. The Interior Ministry said 36 people were detained by police.

    Meanwhile, at least 14 people, including seven civilians and seven servicemen, were killed in fighting between pro-Russian separatists and government forces in eastern Ukraine. A cease-fire has been in place since early September but violations are reported daily.

    Svoboda said its members were not responsible for the unrest in Kiev, which police said was orchestrated by a small group of people at the rally.

    The unrest overshadowed the passage of laws the government hopes will contain the galloping corruption that has long hindered Ukraine’s sclerotic economy. President Petro Poroshenko urged lawmakers to keep up the fight against corruption, a problem that he equated with terrorism.

    One law backed by 278 out of the 303 registered deputies creates an anti-corruption bureau to fight graft. Other approved provisions included laws to stem money-laundering and to increase corporate transparency.

    Parliament also approved a new defense minister — former National Guard head Stepan Poltorak — a pressing priority considering the clashes with pro-Russian separatists in its industrial eastern regions.

    Here’s a snapshot of Ukraine’s new normal

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 14, 2014, 11:49 am
  6. Creating the kinds of conditions where the people of Ukraine voluntarily want to reunite wasn’t never going to be easy once the fighting started involving civilian areas. And then there’s the cluster bombing:

    The New York Times
    Ukraine Used Cluster Bombs, Evidence Indicates

    By ANDREW ROTHOCT. 20, 2014

    DONETSK, Ukraine — The Ukrainian Army appears to have fired cluster munitions on several occasions into the heart of Donetsk, unleashing a weapon banned in much of the world into a rebel-held city with a peacetime population of more than one million, according to physical evidence at the scene and interviews with witnesses and victims.

    Sites where rockets fell in the city on Oct. 2 and Oct. 5 showed clear signs that cluster munitions had been fired from the direction of army-held territory, where misfired artillery rockets still containing cluster bomblets were found by villagers in farm fields.

    The two attacks wounded at least six people and killed a Swiss employee of the International Red Cross based in Donetsk.

    If confirmed, the use of cluster bombs by the pro-Western government could complicate efforts to reunite the country, as residents of the east have grown increasingly bitter over the Ukrainian Army’s tactics to oust pro-Russian rebels.

    Further, in a report released late Monday, Human Rights Watch says the rebels have most likely used cluster weapons in the conflict as well, a detail that The New York Times could not independently verify.

    The army’s use of cluster munitions, which shower small bomblets around a large area, could also add credibility to Moscow’s version of the conflict, which is that the Ukrainian national government is engaged in a punitive war against its own citizens. The two October strikes occurred nearly a month after President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine signed a cease-fire agreement with rebel representatives.

    “It’s pretty clear that cluster munitions are being used indiscriminately in populated areas, particularly in attacks in early October in Donetsk city,” said Mark Hiznay, senior arms researcher at Human Rights Watch, in emailed comments after the report was completed. “The military logic behind these attacks is not apparent, and these attacks should stop, because they put too many civilians at risk.”

    Press officers for the Ukrainian military denied that their troops had used cluster weapons during the conflict and said that the rocket strikes against Donetsk in early October should be investigated once it was safe to do so. They also said that rebels in the area had access to powerful rocket systems from Russia that could fire cluster munitions.

    However, munition fragments found in and around Donetsk and interviews with witnesses indicate that the cluster munitions that struck Oct. 2 and Oct. 5 were most likely fired by Ukrainian troops stationed southwest of the city, according to Human Rights Watch and a review by The Times. Witnesses there reported seeing rocket launches from those troops’ positions toward the city at times that coincide with the strikes.

    Human Rights Watch says in its report that cluster weapons have been used against population centers in eastern Ukraine at least 12 times, including the strikes on Donetsk, during the conflict, and possibly many more. The report said that both sides were probably culpable, in attacks that “may amount to war crimes” in a grinding conflict that has claimed at least 3,700 lives, including those of many civilians.

    The report, which included incidents uncovered by The Times, says there is “particularly strong evidence” that Ukrainian government troops carried out the two October attacks against Donetsk.

    An August cluster-munitions attack on the village of Starobesheve, which was in Ukrainian Army hands, was probably carried out either by pro-Russian rebels or by Russian troops, the report says.

    Beginning in October, a series of strikes against Donetsk using certain cluster weapons fired from Uragan rockets came from the southwest of the city. The timing of at least two rocket launches from the same location corresponded to cluster munition strikes that hit Donetsk from a southwesterly trajectory, according to Human Rights Watch and The Times.

    Shelling of cities has been common in the conflict, and the cease-fire agreement has not ended the violence. A chemical plant on the outskirts of Donetsk was struck Monday, and the resulting shock wave shattered windows for miles around.

    In Donetsk, doctors in a city hospital and morgue said they had found cluster-munitions fragments in several patients, including Mr. Melikhov, whose spine was nicked by one on Oct. 5. He was lucky not to have been paralyzed, but the injury made it very painful to sit, stand or lie flat, he said.

    “I see it as the senseless destruction of the southeast,” he said of the attack. “There’s something wrong in their head.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 20, 2014, 6:33 pm
  7. It would be nice if, someday, the issues of the day didn’t include topics like “Why Are Swastikas Hot In West Ukraine?”

    The Daily Beast
    Why Are Swastikas Hot In West Ukraine?
    Ceasefires don’t erase history: The hatreds left by Nazi and Soviet occupations 70 and 80 years ago continue to play out on Ukraine’s streets and battlefields.
    Anna Nemtsova
    10.17.2014

    LVIV, Ukraine — Ostap Stakhiv, the leader of a political organization of Ukrainian nationalists, The Idea of the Nation, had been looking for popular support for many years without much success. Then the delicate-seeming 28-year-old started thinking that maybe there was something wrong with the insignia—a lion climbing up a steep hillside—printed on the group’s tracts and fliers. So Stakhiv chose another: the swastika, slightly modified, that Hitler adopted as the emblem of the Nazi Party in 1920 and that millions of Europeans, including millions of Ukrainians, associate with death.

    It worked. Earlier this week, Stakhiv was busy setting up five tents around Lviv for this month’s election campaign. He’s preparing to run for the local parliament on October 26th. The organization’s newspaper, with double swastikas on the front page, was being distributed along with other propaganda materials, and Stakhiv and his aid, Yulia, marveled at the strength of the symbol. “A yellow swastika on a black field stands for power and spirit,” said Stakhiv.

    “The swastika is a very strong symbol, and as soon as we adopted it, we immediately grew popular among young people,” said Stakhiv. “Those who join us know exactly what they want, and they are ready to go to the very end.” Today, Idea of the Nation is represented in 14 regions of Ukraine and counts over 1,000 activists, its leader told The Daily Beast.

    How to explain the growing popularity of Nazi symbols in Ukraine? They keep turning up. Ukrainian soldiers have been seen and photographed wearing helmets with swastikas and the letters SS on their helmets.

    A spokesmen for the volunteer Azov Battalion, where the symbols are common, eventually denied they are related to Hitler. He insisted that the battalion insignia reminiscent of the Nazi Wolfsangel, symbol of, among others, the 2nd SS Panzer Division that fought the Russians on the Eastern Front, was actually nothing but the crossed letters “N.”

    In fact, most nationalist and ultra-right youth organizations in Ukraine today use symbols that millions of Ukrainian citizens associate with the Nazi army that occupied and brutalized Ukraine during World War II. And one reason, certainly, is that the much longer and very deadly occupation by the Soviets is also a huge part of the national consciousness. The 1933-34 famine known as the Holodomor—“extermination by hunger”—took the lives of some 4 million people.

    On Monday night, a few dozen revolutionary nationalists from another movement, Autonomous Resistance, marched around the streets of Lviv with the red and black flags of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, or UIA. These were Ukrainian rebels fighting in the woods of western Ukraine, sometimes in alliance with Nazi forces against Soviet soldiers and sometimes against the German army occupying Ukraine.

    The activists chanted “Freedom to the people! Glory to Ukraine!” on the way to the monument in Lviv to Stepan Bandera, the UIA leader. To millions of ethnic Russians living in eastern Ukraine, Bandera, who allied himself with Adolf Hitler at times, symbolized ethnic cleansing in the worst years of the Second World War. But to many nationalists he is a hero who tried to protect the interests of his people.

    “Just as our grandfathers demanded freedom for Ukraine from foreign empires we demand freedom from Russian occupiers today,” said one of the movement’s leaders, Yarina Voloshin, wearing a red dress and carrying a black purse.

    On the same day, thousands of nationalists marched to Ukraine’s parliament in Kiev, led by ultra-right Svoboda party leaders. The nationalists, who clashed with police, demanded the UIA be recognized as Ukraine’s national heroes. Dozens of people, including 15 policemen, were injured in those melees, and police detained 50 nationalists who tried to break through rows of security to get into the parliament.

    But in Lviv, which is considered the heart of the country’s nationalist movements, legislators and the local administration insist the Nazi symbols are not dangerous for the country. “I don’t care what flags or symbols they use for as long as they fight for Ukraine’s freedom,” Vice Governor Vladimir Kharchuk told The Daily Beast. To people in western Ukraine, where thousands related to victims of communist repression, the hammer and sickle did not look any less evil than the swastika, yet several organizations still had that insignia on their official documents. “I personally prefer the Ukrainian official flag, and the emblem of Lviv—a kind looking lion—to a Swastika.”

    But as others have discovered in these times of enormous passions, kindly symbols don’t attract crowds.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 21, 2014, 8:22 am
  8. Right Sector just attacked the a former Part of Regions office currently used by an Opposition Bloc member of parliament. Why? They were apparently outside the office protesting the Opposition Bloc’s participation in the election. And, according to Right Sector, they were fired on from someone within the building. At that point, over 50 Right Sector members attacked the building:

    Radio free Europe
    Radio Liberty

    Opposition Party Office In Kharkiv Attacked

    August 03, 2015

    At least 50 young men, many in balaclavas, have attacked the former office of the Party of Regions in Ukraine’s eastern city of Kharkiv.

    The office is currently used by Ukrainian lawmaker Mykhaylo Dobkin, who represents the Opposition Bloc in parliament.

    The attackers destroyed a minibus parked near the office and smashed the building’s windows with stones on August 3.

    The attackers said they were representing the Ukrainian right-wing nationalist group Right Sector and an organization called Public Guard.

    They said they gathered at the site to protest against the Opposition Bloc’s participation in local elections in October and attacked the building after Dobkin’s people started shooting at them with firearms, wounding one activist.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 4, 2015, 9:23 am
  9. The Council of Europe just issued its assessment of Ukraine’s investigation into the Odessa fire. It wasn’t a very positive review:

    Bloomberg Business
    Ukraine Failing to Probe Pro-Russia Protester Deaths, Panel Says

    Daryna Krasnolutska
    Kateryna Choursina
    November 4, 2015 — 2:15 AM CST

    * Killings occurred in May 2014 in Black Sea port of Odessa
    * No charges brought after 18-month investigation, report finds

    Ukrainian authorities are failing to adequately investigate 48 deaths, including of 42 pro-Russian protesters, in the Black Sea port of Odessa in May 2014, according to an international panel set up by the Council of Europe.

    The demonstrators clashed with football fans and participants in a pro-government rally as the military conflict in Ukraine’s easternmost regions erupted following Russia’s annexation of nearby Crimea. Most of the deaths occurred after a building in which the protesters had barricaded themselves was set on fire.

    “Despite the lapse of some 18 months after the events, not a single charge has been brought in respect of the deaths,” the panel said Wednesday in an e-mailed report. The body is tracking the investigation to check it meets the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights.

    The report is another blow to President Petro Poroshenko and his government as the U.S, the European Union and Ukraine’s own citizens demand more progress on promises of reform and a crackdown on corruption. Ukraine’s rulers have also failed to convict those responsible for more than 100 killings in the Kiev street protests that swept them to power a year and a half ago.

    There’s evidence “revealing a comparable lack of confidence in the adequacy of the investigations and in the ability of the authorities to bring to justice those responsible for causing or contributing to the many deaths and injuries” in Odessa, said the panel. The investigation in Odessa, like the probe in Kiev, has “serious deficiencies in independence and effectiveness,” it said.

    “Despite the lapse of some 18 months after the events, not a single charge has been brought in respect of the deaths”

    Also note that when you read, “The investigation in Odessa, like the probe in Kiev, has “serious deficiencies in independence and effectiveness,” the probe in Kiev is a reference to the investigation in the Maidan revolution sniper attacks. And as indicate by the Council’s comments, the review of that investigation wasn’t very positive either.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 4, 2015, 10:35 am
  10. While it would be difficult to expect anything approaching remorse from the far-right groups responsible for the Odessa massacre two years ago, Ukraine’s neo-Nazis have found a new way to demonstrate how unremorseful they are: by threaten to take the head of Odessa’s mayor if he doesn’t cancel the May upcoming two year anniversary ceremony:

    Consortium News

    Ukraine’s Rightists Return to Odessa

    Nicolai Petro
    April 28, 2016

    For two years, Ukraine’s U.S.-backed regime has balked at investigating dozens of arson deaths in Odessa and now is doing little as far-right nationalists rally for another confrontation, writes Nicolai N. Petro.

    By Nicolai N. Petro

    May 2 will mark the second anniversary of one of the most horrific, politically inspired tragedies in modern European history — the fire in the Odessa trade union building that killed 48 people and wounded another 200.

    Numerous pleas by the United Nations and the European Union for an objective investigation into the causes of this tragedy have gone unanswered. Multiple government commissions, both local and national, have been unable to move the case forward, partly because some of the evidence has been marked secret.

    Last November, the International Consulting Group, set up by the Council of Europe, issued a scathing report about this lack of progress, and the government’s apparent disinterest in bringing those responsible to trial.

    Now, as we approach the second anniversary of these tragic deaths, and the commemoration of Soviet victory in the Second World War on May 9, some of the same groups involved in the first tragedy are openly preparing for a second round.

    To this end, the leading nationalist spokesman, Dmitro Yarosh, the former leader of the Right Sector, was recently invited to Odessa. There he explained his credo to his followers: “I am just not a democrat. My worldview is that of a Ukrainian nationalist. I believe that popular national government is very good, but only when democracy does not threaten the very existence of the state. We sometimes play at democracy with the likes of Kivalov [a member of parliament from Odessa — NP], with [Odessa’s mayor] Trukhanov . . . but in war time this is never good” he said, adding “the enemy needs to be dealt with as he is always deal with in wartime–neutralized.”

    Later, local Euromaidan activist Arsen Grigoryan gave authorities just one week to prevent any commemorative gatherings from taking place on May 2, especially ones that might include government officials, or “fake parliamentarians from Europe.” If the authorities refuse to heed these warnings, he said, the consequences will be on the head of Odessa’s mayor, Gennady Trukhanov.

    The event that has inspired this sudden concern among radical nationalists seems to have been the groundswell of participation during this year’s commemoration of the liberation of Odessa from Nazi occupation on April 10. Traditionally, this is a rather low-key event, that concludes with a ceremonial wreath-laying at the monument to the Unknown Sailor in Shevchenko Park.

    This year, however, several thousand people joined the wreath-laying ceremony, some of whom even added Russian colors to the wreaths. This outrage caught the attention of vigilant nationalists, who then moved to disrupt the ceremony. In an unexpected twist, however, local police intervened to defend the participants against the now customary assault by radicals.

    The nationalists blamed state prosecutor, Georgy Stoyanov, for this debacle and proceeded to block entry to the state procuracy building until he was removed. After succeeding in this effort, they promptly moved their protest to Odessa’s City Hall, where they are now seeking the resignation of the popularly elected mayor, Gennady Trukhanov.

    Uncharacteristically, the region’s appointed governor, Mikheil Saakashvili, (the former president of Georgia) has yet to voice his opinion on this confrontation. On the one hand, he stands to gain considerable political clout if he can shift the blame for these disturbances to Mayor Trukhanov, whom he bitterly resents for ostensibly thwarting his reform efforts.

    On the other hand, however, he surely knows that the radical nationalists view him as just another by-product of the corrupt and treacherous Poroshenko regime; moreover, one whose only loyalty is to his own political ambitions. Perhaps most unforgivably, for radical nationalists, he is also a foreigner.

    All sides are now mobilizing in what is shaping up to be a decisive test of wills between government authority and the radical nationalists. The city is being flooded by radical activists, while the Ministry of Internal Affairs is telling Odessans to prepare for “hot May holidays.” The stage is nearly set for the next bloody confrontation between the “patriots” and the “fascists.”

    This time, however, the West need not stand by helplessly and watch. There is still a chance of averting another tragedy, if the Western media draws timely attention to the current preparations for it. A significant Western media presence on the ground during the critical week from May 2 to May 9, could conceivably lead the radical nationalists to reconsider their violent strategy.

    “To this end, the leading nationalist spokesman, Dmitro Yarosh, the former leader of the Right Sector, was recently invited to Odessa. There he explained his credo to his followers: “I am just not a democrat. My worldview is that of a Ukrainian nationalist. I believe that popular national government is very good, but only when democracy does not threaten the very existence of the state. We sometimes play at democracy with the likes of Kivalov [a member of parliament from Odessa — NP], with [Odessa’s mayor] Trukhanov . . . but in war time this is never good” he said, adding “the enemy needs to be dealt with as he is always deal with in wartime–neutralized.””
    So it sounds like Yarosh and his fellow far-rightists have decided that Ukraine’s democracy is a nice luxury that should be thrown out if they perceive it as “threatening the existence of the state” and since it’s currently a time of war the neo-Nazis outfits like Right Sector feel free to now “neutralize” those they perceive as enemies. And that enemies list appears to include the people planning on attending the annual two year anniversary of the Odessa massacre on May 2. Why? Because some people placed Russian-colored wreathes at an April 10 ceremony commemorating the liberation of Odessa from the Nazis:

    Later, local Euromaidan activist Arsen Grigoryan gave authorities just one week to prevent any commemorative gatherings from taking place on May 2, especially ones that might include government officials, or “fake parliamentarians from Europe.” If the authorities refuse to heed these warnings, he said, the consequences will be on the head of Odessa’s mayor, Gennady Trukhanov.

    The event that has inspired this sudden concern among radical nationalists seems to have been the groundswell of participation during this year’s commemoration of the liberation of Odessa from Nazi occupation on April 10. Traditionally, this is a rather low-key event, that concludes with a ceremonial wreath-laying at the monument to the Unknown Sailor in Shevchenko Park.

    This year, however, several thousand people joined the wreath-laying ceremony, some of whom even added Russian colors to the wreaths. This outrage caught the attention of vigilant nationalists, who then moved to disrupt the ceremony. In an unexpected twist, however, local police intervened to defend the participants against the now customary assault by radicals.

    The nationalists blamed state prosecutor, Georgy Stoyanov, for this debacle and proceeded to block entry to the state procuracy building until he was removed. After succeeding in this effort, they promptly moved their protest to Odessa’s City Hall, where they are now seeking the resignation of the popularly elected mayor, Gennady Trukhanov.

    So the neo-Nazi enemies list includes people who will be commemorating the victims of the neo-Nazi massacre at Odessa two years ago, and if the ceremony isn’t canceled they’ll behead the mayor of Odessa or something along those lines. And the rallying cry for this new round of threats was the Russian-colored wreathes used in a ceremony commemorating the defeat of the Nazis and fact that the local police uncharacteristically intervened to protect the participants. While neo-Nazi’s like Yarosh might view democracy as a plaything that shouldn’t be coddled, it’s worth noting that they’re actually demonstrating to the world of the opposite lesson: democracies REALLY want to avoid coddling Nazis, especially during times of war. This really shouldn’t need to be said since it’s kind of obvious, but here we are. There’s probably a lesson tucked away in there.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 28, 2016, 2:21 pm
  11. Authorities requested additional security services for Odessa with tensions running high on the second anniversary of the Odessa massacre and the potential for clashes between the neo-Nazi Right Sector and those mourning the May 2 deaths. And they did indeed received additional security services: the Azov Battalion:

    The Guardian

    Tensions run high in Odessa on anniversary of deadly clashes

    Huge police and security presence in Ukrainian city two years after unrest left 48 dead and hundreds injured

    Shaun Walker in Odessa

    Monday 2 May 2016 12.45 EDT

    A huge police and security operation has been launched to keep the calm in Odessa on Monday, the second anniversary of one of the bloodiest days in Ukraine’s recent history.

    Two years ago, clashes left 48 dead and hundreds injured in the Black Sea city. Most of the dead were pro-Russia protesters who died in a fire at the trade union building.

    Political and social tensions continue to bubble under the surface. On Monday authorities cordoned off the area around the trade union building, surrounding it with police and National Guard forces and keeping out those who had come to pay their respects. More than 1,000 people gathered outside the police cordon, furious at not being allowed in.

    The Odessa governor, Mikheil Saakashvili, said police had received information about “provocations” planned for the anniversary. Authorities said there had been an anonymous bomb threat early in the morning and the area had been closed off for a search. Those outside were certain the bomb threat was a pretext to prevent them from gathering, and no officials made any attempt to keep the crowds informed about when or whether they would be let in.

    There were shouts of “Shame!” and “Fascists!” as the crowd became angrier. Many people left flowers outside the perimeter and went home. At one point, a bus arrived carrying a the mothers of some of those who died. A group of Ukrainian nationalists shouted: “Glory to Ukraine!” as they disembarked from the bus, leaving the women visibly shaken.

    The events in Odessa were one of the most controversial chapters of the period that began with the Maidan protests in Kiev in February 2014 and ended with a separatist uprising in parts of east Ukraine that received Russian military and financial backing.

    On 2 May 2014, as pro-Russian protests were growing in many of the cities in south and east Ukraine, street clashes between pro-Russians and Ukrainians nationalists ended with the pro-Russians blocked into the five-storey Trade Unions building, which was then set on fire. Dozens burned to death inside.

    The deaths were portrayed as a “fascist massacre” by Russian media, and acted as a recruiting sergeant for the separatist cause in east Ukraine. In Kiev, Russian media and security agencies were accused of stirring up and manipulating local discontent, furious at the pro-western turn Ukraine’s post-Maidan government wanted to take.

    After events in Donetsk and Luhansk regions led to a war and thousands of deaths, some have claimed the Odessa events marked a “victory” over pro-Russian sentiment in the city. Nationalist MP Ihor Mosiychuk wrote on Facebook that 2 May should be a “great national holiday”, as it was the day in which separatist sentiment was crushed in Odessa.

    In the run-up to the second anniversary, Saakashvili had pleaded with Kiev to send reinforcements into the city, fearing “provocations” from Russia or local separatist groups. About 300 members of Azov, formerly a volunteer battalion with many far-right members and now part of the official National Guard, were dispatched to Odessa.

    By the early evening, the day appeared to have passed more or less peacefully, though police reported 14 arrests for public order offences.

    Yuri Tkachev, who runs a news website many believe is sympathetic to the separatist cause, said the “pro-Russian” movement in the city was actually not pro-Moscow but more anti-Kiev and against the Maidan protest movement. “Of course there are people who would cheer if Putin came, but they are not the majority,” he said.

    Odessa remains a divided city, said Tkachev, but with the leaders of the separatist movement either fled or jailed, there “are no achievable goals or any understanding of how to act” among their supporters.

    An investigation into the events has stalled. While 20 pro-Russian activists are standing trial for the riots that took place earlier in the day, nobody has been charged with the events in the Trade Unions building that led to most of the deaths.

    Earlier in the day, a smaller group of pro-Ukrainians came to pay their respects at the site in the city centre where the first death occurred, a Ukrainian activist shot in the city centre. They sang the Ukrainian national anthem and laid flowers at the spot.

    “In the run-up to the second anniversary, Saakashvili had pleaded with Kiev to send reinforcements into the city, fearing “provocations” from Russia or local separatist groups. About 300 members of Azov, formerly a volunteer battalion with many far-right members and now part of the official National Guard, were dispatched to Odessa.”
    So we had the declaration by neo-Nazi MP Ihor Mosiychuk that May 2 should be declared a “great national holiday”, a classic act of adding insult to injury. And we have the selection of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion as the “peacekeeping” force, a clear act of adding insult to that which is intended to protect you from injury. Ukraine’s official neo-Nazi trolling sure was in rare form today.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 2, 2016, 2:17 pm
  12. Security forces reportedly discovered three grenades near the spot where the dozens of Ukrainians were burned to death in a building two years ago. So another act of domestic terrorist and intimidation by Ukraine’s far-right was most likely prevented. It’s the kind of discovery that makes the lack of official discovery in who was behind the 2014 massacre all the more terrifying:

    EurActiv

    EU urges Ukraine to investigate 2014 Odessa deaths

    By EurActiv.com with AFP

    May 3, 2016 0:15 (updated: 1:21)

    Ukraine’s tense Odessa marked yesterday (2 May) two years since clashes killed 48 anti-Maidan protesters during a confrontation with pro-Ukrainian unity protesters at the Trade Unions House in central Odessa. The EU urged Kyiv to investigate the tragedy.

    Ukrainian police in the tense southern city of Odessa yesterday discovered grenades near the site of commemorations marking two years since the carnage took place.

    Street battles between armed backers of the pro-Western government in Kyiv and the Kremlin in the historic Black Sea port killed six people and culminated in a building inferno in which 42 pro-Russians died.

    The violence erupted at the height of Ukraine’s pro-Russian eastern insurgency and sparked fears in Kyiv that Moscow was preparing an all-out invasion of the former Soviet state.

    That assault never came but the bloodshed ratcheted up the tensions and Russia later accused Ukraine of covering up an investigation into who was ultimately responsible for the deaths.

    The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the fatal chain of events was sparked when a group of pro-Russians armed with baseball bats and guns “provoked” the participants of the pro-Ukraine rally.

    A Ukrainian court is so far only looking into the case of 20 suspects accused of shooting dead six people during the pro-Kyiv march.

    The results of a probe into who was responsible for torching the building in which the pro-Russians took shelter when chased by armed Kyiv supporters have not been submitted to court.

    “I urge the government of Ukraine to follow up on the recommendations of the Council of Europe International Advisory Panel and to carry out an independent and transparent investigation,” Kyiv’s EU Ambassador Jan Tombinski said in a statement marking the anniversary.

    Around 1,000 people carrying flowers and banners with pictures of the victims massed on Monday outside metal detectors set up around the square at which the worst carnage occurred.

    “We will never forgive or forget,” a group of several dozen pro-Russians chanted while waiting for police to allow them into the commemoration site.

    Victims’ relatives eventually sent black balloons and white doves into the bright blue sky as it became clear that the riot-geared officers would not let them approach the building in which their sons and daughters died from the flames and toxic fumes.

    Several also plunged to their deaths after being unable to withstand the heat of the raging blaze — made worse by the Molotov cocktails being hurled at the building by some far-right Ukrainians.

    Guns and baseball bats

    About 3,000 members of the security forces were called into Odessa as a precaution to prevent a repeat of the violence.

    Those troops helped find three grenades hidden near Kulykove Pole – the square where the Trade Union House in which the pro-Russians took refuge was torched.

    Police also reported making a handful of arrests but no serious altercations between two groups with diametrically opposed views of who was to blame for what happened in 2014.

    “The results of a probe into who was responsible for torching the building in which the pro-Russians took shelter when chased by armed Kyiv supporters have not been submitted to court.”
    Given the consequence-free terrorizing of Ukrainian society that groups like Right Sector have enjoyed over the past couple of years, you have to wonder to what extent the government’s refusal to pursue the findings of those government probes is due to those in charge genuinely not wanting to see those findings pursued by a court or if it’s because those in a position to make such a call are, themselves, already terrorized into submission by the far-right. It’s a reminder that when a government willingly tolerates terrorists in order to wage a divide-and-conquer strategy to deal with a domestic crisis, it make not take too long before that tolerance is no longer voluntary.

    It also doesn’t help when the new speaker of the parliament is a neo-Nazi like Andre Parubiy, who himself is potentially implicated in the Maidan square sniper attacks. It’s a general situation that doesn’t bode well for government investigations into far-right violence and raises the chilling possibility that groups like Right Sector are only going to get more protection from prosecutions when they terrorize Ukraine’s ethnic Russian communities. So while we should really hope the explanation for the lack of an investigation into the Odessa massacre isn’t due to the far-right intimidation of government officials, it’s worth keeping in mind that it could be worse. And might be.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 3, 2016, 6:47 pm
  13. Where there’s smoke, there’s probably fire. Or maybe torture:

    UN torture prevention body suspends Ukraine visit citing obstruction

    GENEVA (25 May 2016) – The United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) has suspended its visit to Ukraine after being denied access to places in several parts of the country where it suspects people are being deprived of their liberty by the Security Service of Ukraine, the SBU.

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

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

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

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

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

    “This denial of access is in breach of Ukraine’s obligations as a State party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. It has meant that we have not been able to visit some places where we have heard numerous and serious allegations that people have been detained and where torture or ill-treatment may have occurred”
    While the content of report is deeply disturbing, the timing was pretty fabulous.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 25, 2016, 2:52 pm

Post a comment