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The Pierre Omidyar School of Journalism

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COMMENT: Supplementing recent thoughts about the events in, and subsequent to, Charlottesville, we note a recent high-profile assassination in India. Intrepid journalist Gauri Lankesh was shot to death by an as-yet-unidentified assailant. Ms. Lankesh was fiercely critical of the Hindutva fascist government of Narendra Modi.

(Hindutva is a Hindu nationalist manifestation of fascism, formalized by V.D. Savarkar in the early 1920’s. Modi’s BJP is a political cat’s paw for the RSS, the Hindutva fascist organization launched by Savarkar and propelled by admirers of Hitler and Mussolini. It was the RSS that murdered Gandhi.) For excellent background on the assassination of Gandhi and the Hindutva fascist forces that engendered that, we heartily recommend James Douglass’ work Gandhi and the Unspeakable. We will be highlighting this work in the not-too-distant future.

In FTR #’s 972 and 973, we underscored the grotesque dynamic manifesting in Charlottesville, with the mainstream media, the so-called progressive sector, the mainstream media and the GOP hypocritically condemning the fascists protesting the proposed removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. All of the above have prostituted themselves to the same forces.

Underlining the grotesque, hypocritical nature of the so-called progressive sector, the so-called “alternative” media and the mainstream media is their orgiastic fawning over Nazi fellow-traveler Glenn Greenwald and his journalistic financial angel Pierre Omidyar.

In this post, we underscore the depth of Omidyar’s treacherous hypocrisy, shared by his obsequious acolytes. We note that:

  • Omidyar helped finance the rise of Modi and his Hindutva fascist BJP in India. Most of Modi’s cabinet selections were drawn from the RSS: ” . . . . This week, India’s newly-elected ultranationalist leader Narendra Modi unveiled his cabinet, three-quarters of whom come from a fascist paramilitary outfit, the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) . . . .  founded in 1925 by open admirers of Mussolini and Hitler; in 1948, an RSS member assassinated pacifist Mahatma Gandhi. . . .”
  • Omidyar helped finance the Maidan coup in Ukraine, which brought to power Ukrainian fascists evolved from the OUN/B.
  • Omidyar worked with U.S. Agency for International Development–a frequent vehicle for U.S. covert operation–to effect the Maidan coup.
  • Omidyar has now partnered with the inappropriately-named National Endowment for Democracy to further his ends. NED is little more than a front for continued covert operations.
  • Omidyar’s charges in Ukraine have been complicit in the murder of journalists critical of their activities.
  • Omidyar’s OUN/B successor associates in Ukraine have worked to intimidate journalists with whom they disagree, tarring them with the useful sobriquet of “Kremlin/Russian” dupes.
  • The late Gauri Lankesh openly labeled the Hindutva fascist RSS as being what they are: ” . . . . On Monday, the day before she was killed, she shared a post on her Facebook page that was written by someone else. ‘The RSS is the terrorist organization,’ it read. . . .”
  • Ms. Lankesh’s murder was the latest in a string of killings of journalist critical of Modi/BJP/RSS.
  • Supported by former Trump aide Steve Bannon, Modi was characterized by a critic in terms that would aptly characterize Trump: ” . . . . ‘People like Modi,’ Mr. Ananthamurthy writes, ‘live in a gumbaz, a dome that echoes what they say to themselves over and over again.’ Mr. Modi’s election as prime minister has been followed by, as many feared, a climate of hostility toward minorities and renewed assaults on civil society and free expression. . . .”

In short, Omidyar has worked to elevate political forces that violently suppress those who dare to “tell truth to power.” That such as he could become icons of journalistic integrity speaks volumes for the depths to which our society has descended. SHAME!

1a. Ukraine Spy Agency ‘May Have Seen Planting of Bomb that Killed Journalist’” by Alec Luhn; The Guardian; 5/10/2017.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1b. “The Anonymous Blacklist Quoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying” by Mark Ames; Alternet.org; 12/7/2016.”

. . . . Still the question lingers: Who is behind PropOrNot? Who are they? We may have to await the defamation lawsuits that are almost certainly coming from those smeared by the Post and by PropOrNot. Their description sounds like the “About” tab on any number of Washington front groups that journalists and researchers are used to coming across:

“PropOrNot is an independent team of concerned American citizens with a wide range of backgrounds and expertise, including professional experience in computer science, statistics, public policy, and national security affairs.”

The only specific clues given were an admission that at least one of its members with access to its Twitter handle is “Ukrainian-American”. They had given this away in a handful of early Ukrainian-language tweets, parroting Ukrainian ultranationalist slogans, before the group was known.

One PropOrNot tweet, dated November 17, invokes a 1940s Ukrainian fascist salute “Heroiam Slava!!” [17] to cheer a news item on Ukrainian hackers fighting Russians. The phrase means “Glory to the heroes” and it was formally introduced by the fascist Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) at their March-April 1941 congress in Nazi occupied Cracow, as they prepared to serve as Nazi auxiliaries in Operation Barbarossa. As historian Grzgorz Rossoliński-Liebe, author of the definitive biography [18] on Ukraine’s wartime fascist leader and Nazi collaborator [19] Stepan Bandera, explained [20]:

“the OUN-B introduced another Ukrainian fascist salute at the Second Great Congress of the Ukrainian Nationalists in Cracow in March and April 1941. This was the most popular Ukrainian fascist salute and had to be performed according to the instructions of the OUN-B leadership by raising the right arm ‘slightly to the right, slightly above the peak of the head’ while calling ‘Glory to Ukraine!’ (Slava Ukraїni!) and responding ‘Glory to the Heroes!’ (Heroiam Slava!).”

Two months after formalizing this salute, Nazi forces allowed Bandera’s Ukrainian fascists to briefly take control of Lvov [21], at the time a predominantly Jewish and Polish city—whereupon the Ukrainian “patriots” murdered, tortured and raped thousands of Jews [22], in one of the most barbaric [23] and bloodiest pogroms ever.

Since the 2014 Maidan Revolution brought Ukrainian neo-fascists [24] back into the highest rungs of power [25], Ukraine’s Nazi collaborators and wartime fascists have been rehabilitated [26] as heroes [27], with major highways and roads named after them [28], and public commemorations. The speaker of Ukraine’s parliament, Andriy Parubiy [29], founded Ukraine’s neo-Nazi “Social-National Party of Ukraine” [30] and published a white supremacist manifesto, “View From the Right” [31] featuring the parliament speaker in full neo-Nazi uniform in front of fascist flags with the Nazi Wolfsangel symbol. Ukraine’s powerful Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov, sponsors [32] several ultranationalist and neo-Nazi militia groups like the Azov Battalion [33], and last month he helped appoint another neo-Nazi[34], Vadym Troyan [35], as head of Ukraine’s National Police [36]. (Earlier this year, when Troyan was still police chief of the capital Kiev, he was widely accused [35] of having ordered an illegal surveillance operation on investigative journalist Pavel Sheremet just before his assassination by car bomb [37].)

A Ukrainian intelligence service blacklist as PropOrNot’s model

Since coming to power in the 2014 Maidan Revolution, Ukraine’s US-backed regime has waged an increasingly surreal war on journalists who don’t toe the Ukrainian ultranationalist line, and against treacherous Kremlin propagandists, real and imagined. Two years ago, Ukraine established a “Ministry of Truth” [38]. This year the war has gone from surreal paranoia [39] to an increasingly deadly [40] kind of “terror.” [41]

One of the more frightening policies enacted by the current oligarch-nationalist regime in Kiev is an online blacklist [42] of journalists accused of collaborating with pro-Russian “terrorists.” [43]  The website, “Myrotvorets” [43] or “Peacemaker”—was set up by Ukrainian hackers working with state intelligence and police, all of which tend to share the same ultranationalist ideologies as Parubiy and the newly-appointed neo-Nazi chief of the National Police.

Condemned by the Committee to Protect Journalists [44] and numerous news organizations in the West and in Ukraine, the online blacklist includes the names and personal private information on some 4,500 journalists [45], including several western journalists [43] and Ukrainians working for western media. The website is designed to frighten and muzzle journalists from reporting anything but the pro-nationalist party line, and it has the backing of government officials, spies and police—including the SBU (Ukraine’s successor to the KGB), the powerful Interior Minister Avakov and his notorious far-right deputy, Anton Geraschenko.

Ukraine’s journalist blacklist website—operated by Ukrainian hackers working with state intelligence—led to a rash of death threats against the doxxed journalists, whose email addresses, phone numbers and other private information was posted anonymously to the website. Many of these threats came with the wartime Ukrainian fascist salute: “Slava Ukraini!” [Glory to Ukraine!] So when PropOrNot’s anonymous “researchers” reveal only their Ukrainian(s) identity, it’s hard not to think about the spy-linked hackers who posted the deadly “Myrotvorets” blacklist of “treasonous” journalists.

The DNC’s Ukrainian ultra-nationalist researcher cries treason

Because the PropOrNot blacklist of American journalist “traitors” is anonymous, and the Washington Post front-page article protects their anonymity, we can only speculate on their identity with what little information they’ve given us. And that little bit of information reveals only a Ukrainian ultranationalist thread—the salute, the same obsessively violent paranoia towards Russia, and towards journalists, who in the eyes of Ukrainian nationalists have always been dupes and stooges, if not outright collaborators, of Russian evil.

One of the key media sources [46] who blamed the DNC hacks on Russia, ramping up fears of crypto-Putinist infiltration, is a Ukrainian-American lobbyist working for the DNC. She is Alexandra Chalupa—described as the head of the Democratic National Committee’s opposition research on Russia and on Trump, and founder and president of the Ukrainian lobby group “US United With Ukraine Coalition” [47], which lobbied hard to pass a 2014 bill increasing loans and military aid to Ukraine, imposing sanctions on Russians, and tightly aligning US and Ukraine geostrategic interests.

In October of this year, Yahoo News named Chalupa [48] one of “16 People Who Shaped the 2016 Election” [49] for her role in pinning the DNC leaks on Russian hackers, and for making the case that the Trump campaign was under Kremlin control. “As a Democratic Party consultant and proud Ukrainian-American, Alexandra Chalupa was outraged last spring when Donald Trump named Paul Manafort as his campaign manager,” the Yahoo profile began. “As she saw it, Manafort was a key figure in advancing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s agenda inside her ancestral homeland — and she was determined to expose it.”

Chalupa worked with veteran reporter Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News to publicize her opposition research on Trump, Russia and Paul Manafort, as well as her many Ukrainian sources. In one leaked DNC email [50] earlier this year, Chalupa boasts to DNC Communications Director Luis Miranda that she brought Isikoff to a US-government sponsored Washington event featuring 68 Ukrainian journalists, where Chalupa was invited “to speak specifically about Paul Manafort.” In turn, Isikoff named her as the key inside source [46] “proving” that the Russians were behind the hacks, and that Trump’s campaign was under the spell of Kremlin spies and sorcerers.

(In 2008, when I broke the story [51] about the Manafort-Kremlin ties in The Nation with Ari Berman, I did not go on to to accuse him or John McCain, whose campaign was being run by Manafort’s partner, of being Manchurian Candidates under the spell of Vladimir Putin. Because they weren’t; instead, they were sleazy, corrupt, hypocritical politicians who followed money and power rather than principle. A media hack feeding frenzy turned Manafort from what he was—a sleazy scumbag—into a fantastical Kremlin mole [52], forcing Manafort to resign from the Trump campaign, thanks in part to kompromat material leaked by the Ukrainian SBU [53], successor to the KGB.)

Meanwhile, Chalupa’s Twitter feed went wild accusing Trump of treason—a crime that carries the death penalty. Along with well over 100 tweets hashtagged #TreasonousTrump [54] Chalupa repeatedly asked powerful government officials and bodies like the Department of Justice [55] to investigate Trump for the capital crime of treason. In the weeks since the election, Chalupa has repeatedly accused [56] both the Trump campaign and Russia of rigging the elections, demanding further investigations. According to The Guardian [57], Chalupa recently sent a report to Congress proving Russian hacked into the vote count, hoping to initiate a Congressional investigation. In an interview with Gothamist [58], Chalupa described alleged Russian interference in the election result as “an act of war.”

To be clear, I am not arguing that Chalupa is behind PropOrNot. But it is important to provide context to the boasts by PropOrNot about its Ukrainian nationalist links—within the larger context of the Clinton campaign’s anti-Kremlin hysteria, which crossed the line into Cold War xenophobia time and time again, an anti-Russian xenophobia shared by Clinton’s Ukrainian nationalist allies. To me, it looks like a classic case of blowback: A hyper-nationalist group whose extremism happens to be useful to American geopolitical ambitions, and is therefore nurtured to create problems for our competitor. Indeed, the US has cultivated extreme Ukrainian nationalists as proxies [59] for decades, since the Cold War began.

As investigative journalist Russ Bellant documented in his classic exposé, “Old Nazis, New Right,” Ukrainian Nazi collaborators were brought into the United States and weaponized [60] for use against Russia during the Cold War, despite whatever role they may have played in the Holocaust and in the mass slaughter of Ukraine’s ethnic Poles. After spending so many years encouraging extreme Ukrainian nationalism, it’s no surprise that the whole policy is beginning to blow back.

1c. “EBay Shrugged: Pierre Omidyar Believes there Should Be No Philanthropy Without Profit” by Mark Ames; Pando Daily; 5/31/2014.

This week, India’s newly-elected ultranationalist leader Narendra Modi unveiled his cabinet, three-quarters of whom come from a fascist paramilitary outfit, the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) — including one minister accused by police last year of inciting deadly Hindu-Muslim violence that left over 50 dead. The RSS was founded in 1925 by open admirers of Mussolini and Hitler; in 1948, an RSS member assassinated pacifist Mahatma Gandhi.

In 1992, it was the RSS that organized the destruction of the Ayodha Mosque, leaving 2000 dead, mostly Muslims; and in 2002, the RSS played a key role in the mass-murders of minority Muslims in Gujarat, according to Human Rights Watch, when the state of Gujarat was ruled by Narendra Modi — himself a product of the RSS.

Earlier this week, Pando reported that Modi’s election received help from unlikely sources in Silicon Valley including Google, and to a much more serious extent, Omidyar Network, the philanthropy fund of eBay billionaire and First Look publisher Pierre Omidyar. From 2009 through February of this year, Omidyar Network India Advisers was headed by Jayant Sinha, a longtime Modi adviser and newly-elected MP in Modi’s ultranationalist BJP party ticket.

 The Omidyar Network partner and managing director played a double role, investing funds in Indian nonprofits and for-profits, some with distinctly political agendas; while privately, the Omidyar man “worked in Modi’s team” in 2012-13, and served as director in the ultranationalist BJP party’s main think tank on security and economic policy, the India Foundation. This week, Modi appointed the head of the India Foundation, former intelligence chief Ajit Doval, as his National Security Advisor.

1b. Pierre Omid­yar–Glenn Greenwald’s finan­cial angel–helped finance the Ukrain­ian coup, along with AID. The lat­ter is a fre­quent cover for U.S. intel­li­gence activities.

We note that Oleh Rybachuk, the recip­i­ent of Omidyar’s funds, was the right-hand man for Vik­tor Yuschenko in the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion.

 “Pierre Omid­yar Co-funded Ukraine Rev­o­lu­tion Groups with US gov­ern­ment, Doc­u­ments Show” by Mark Ames;Pando Daily; 2/28/2014.

. . . . Pando has con­firmed that the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment – in the form of the US Agency for Inter­na­tional Devel­op­ment (USAID) – played a major role in fund­ing oppo­si­tion groups prior to the rev­o­lu­tion. More­over, a large per­cent­age of the rest of the fund­ing to those same groups came from a US bil­lion­aire who has pre­vi­ously worked closely with US gov­ern­ment agen­cies to fur­ther his own busi­ness inter­ests.

Accord­ing to finan­cial dis­clo­sures and reports seen by Pando, the founder and pub­lisher of Glenn Greenwald’s government-bashing blog,“The Inter­cept,” co-invested with the US gov­ern­ment to help fund regime change in Ukraine. When the rev­o­lu­tion came to Ukraine, neo-fascists played a front-center role in over­throw­ing the country’s pres­i­dent. But the real polit­i­cal power rests with Ukraine’s pro-western neolib­er­als.

Polit­i­cal fig­ures like Oleh Rybachuk, long a favorite of the State Depart­mentDC neo­consEU, and NATO—and the right-hand man to Orange Rev­o­lu­tion leader Vik­tor Yushchenko. Last Decem­ber, the Finan­cial Times wrote that Rybachuk’s “New Cit­i­zen” NGO cam­paign “played a big role in get­ting the protest up and run­ning.”

. . . . In 1992, after the col­lapse of the Soviet Union, Rybachuk moved to the newly-formed Ukraine Cen­tral Bank, head­ing the for­eign rela­tions depart­ment under Cen­tral Bank chief and future Orange Rev­o­lu­tion leader Vik­tor Yushchenko. In his cen­tral bank post, Rybachuk estab­lished close friendly ties with west­ern gov­ern­ment and finan­cial aid insti­tu­tions, as well as proto-Omidyar fig­ures like George Soros, who funded many of the NGOs involved in “color rev­o­lu­tions” includ­ing small dona­tions to the same Ukraine NGOs that Omid­yar backed. (Like Omid­yar Net­work does today, Soros’ char­ity arms—Open Soci­ety and Renais­sance Foundation—publicly preached trans­parency and good gov­ern­ment in places like Rus­sia dur­ing the Yeltsin years, while Soros’ finan­cial arm spec­u­lated on Russ­ian debt and par­tic­i­pated in scandal-plagued auc­tions of state assets.) In early 2005, Orange Rev­o­lu­tion leader Yushchenko became Ukraine’s pres­i­dent, and he appointed Rybachuk deputy prime min­is­ter in charge of inte­grat­ing Ukraine into the EU, NATO, and other west­ern insti­tu­tions. Rybachuk also pushed for the mass-privatization of Ukraine’s remain­ing state hold­ings. Over the next sev­eral years, Rybachuk was shifted around Pres­i­dent Yushchenko’s embat­tled admin­is­tra­tion, torn by inter­nal divi­sions. In 2010, Yushchenko lost the pres­i­dency to recently-overthrown Vik­tor Yanukovych, and a year later, Rybachuk was on Omidyar’s and USAID’s pay­roll, prepar­ing for the next Orange Rev­o­lu­tion.

As Rybachuk told the Finan­cial Times two years ago:“We want to do [the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion] again and we think we will.”

Some of Omidyar’s funds were specif­i­cally ear­marked for cov­er­ing the costs of set­ting up Rybachuk’s “clean up par­lia­ment” NGOs in Ukraine’s regional cen­ters. Shortly after the Euro­maidan demon­stra­tions erupted last Novem­ber, Ukraine’s Inte­rior Min­istry opened up a money laun­der­ing inves­ti­ga­tion into Rybachuk’s NGOs, drag­ging Omidyar’s name into the high-stakes polit­i­cal strug­gle. Accord­ing to a Kyiv Post arti­cle on Feb­ru­ary 10 titled, “Rybachuk: Democracy-promoting non­govern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tion faces ‘ridicu­lous’ investigation”: “Police are inves­ti­gat­ing Cen­ter UA, a public-sector watch­dog funded by West­ern donors, on sus­pi­cion of money laun­der­ing, the group said. The group’s leader, Oleh Rybachuk, said it appears that author­i­ties, with the probe, are try­ing to warn other non­govern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions that seek to pro­mote democ­racy, trans­parency, free speech and human rights in Ukraine.

“Accord­ing to Cen­ter UA, the Kyiv eco­nomic crimes unit of the Inte­rior Min­istry started the inves­ti­ga­tion on Dec. 11. Recently, how­ever, inves­ti­ga­tors stepped up their efforts, ques­tion­ing some 200 wit­nesses. “… Cen­ter UA received more than $500,000 in 2012, accord­ing to its annual report for that year, 54 per­cent of which came from Pact Inc., a project funded by the U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tional Devel­op­ment. Nearly 36 per­cent came from Omid­yar Net­work, a foun­da­tion estab­lished by eBay founder Pierre Omid­yar and his wife.

1c. “Omidyar-Funded Can­di­date Takes Seat in New Ukraine Parliament” by Mark AmesPando Daily; 10/30/2014.

Ukraine just held its first post-revolution par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, and amid all of the oli­garchs, EU enthu­si­asts, neo-Nazisnepo­tism babies, and death squad com­man­ders, there is one newly-elected parliamentarian’s name that stands out for her con­nec­tion to Sil­i­con Val­ley: Svit­lana Zal­ishchuk, from the bil­lion­aire president’s Poroshenko Bloc party. Zal­ishchuk was given a choice spot on the president’s party list, at num­ber 18, ensur­ing her a seat in the new Rada. And she owes her rise to power to another oli­garch besides Ukraine’s pres­i­dent — Pierre Omid­yar, whose fund­ing with USAID helped top­ple the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment. Zalishchuk’s pro-Maidan rev­o­lu­tion out­fits were directly funded by Omidyar. Ear­lier this year, Pando exposed how eBay bil­lion­aire and Inter­cept pub­lisher Pierre Omid­yar co-funded with USAID Zalishchuk’s web of non­govern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions — New Cit­i­zenChesnoCen­ter UA.

 Accord­ing to the Finan­cial Times, New Cit­i­zen, which received hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars from Omid­yar, “played a big role in get­ting the [Maidan] protest up and run­ning” in Novem­ber 2013. Omid­yar Network’s web­site fea­tures Zalishchuk’s pho­to­graph on its page describ­ing its invest­ment in New Cit­i­zen. Zal­ishchuk was brought into the NGOs by her long­time men­tor, Oleh Rybachuk, a for­mer deputy prime min­ster who led the last failed effort to inte­grate Ukraine into the EU and NATO. Zalishchuk’s pho­tos also grace the Poroshenko Bloc’s web­site and twit­ter feed, as she emerged as one of the pres­i­den­tial party’s lead­ing spokesper­sons.

The Poroshenko Bloc is named after Ukraine’s pro-Western pres­i­dent, Petro Poroshenko, a bil­lion­aire with a lock on Ukraine’s con­fec­tionary indus­try, as well as own­ing a national TV sta­tion and other prized assets. He came to power this year thanks to the rev­o­lu­tion orig­i­nally orga­nized by Zalishchuk’s Omidyar-funded NGOs, and has rewarded her with a seat in the Rada. The president’s party tasked Zalushchik with pub­licly sell­ing the highly con­tro­ver­sial new “lus­tra­tion law” — essen­tially a legal­ized witch-hunt law first pro­posed by the neo-fascist Svo­boda Party ear­lier this year, and sub­se­quently denounced by Ukraine’s pros­e­cu­tor gen­eral and by Human Rights Watch, which described a draft of the law as “arbi­trary and overly broad and fail(s) to respect human rights prin­ci­ples,” warn­ing it “may set the stage for unlaw­ful mass arbi­trary polit­i­cal exclusion.”

The lus­tra­tion law was passed under a wave of neo-Nazi vio­lence, in which mem­bers of par­lia­ment and oth­ers set to be tar­geted for purges were forcibly thrown into trash dumps. Zal­ishchuk, how­ever, praised the lus­tra­tion law, claim­ing that the legal­ized purges would “give Ukraine a chance at a new life.” Shortly before the elec­tions, on Octo­ber 17, Zal­ishchuk used her Omidyar-funded out­fit, “Chesno,” to orga­nize a round­table with lead­ers of pro-EU and neo-fascist par­ties. It was called “Par­lia­ment for Reform”and it brought together lead­ers from eight par­ties,includ­ing Zalishchuk’s “Poroshenko Bloc” (she served as both NGO orga­nizer and as pro-Poroshenko party can­di­date), the prime minister’s “People’s Party” and lead­ers from two unabashedly neo-Nazi par­ties: Svo­boda, and the Rad­i­cal Party of Oleh Lyashko, who was denounced by Amnesty Inter­na­tional for post­ing YouTube videos of him­self inter­ro­gat­ing naked and hooded pro-Russian sep­a­ratist pris­on­ers. Lyashko’s cam­paign posters fea­tured him impal­ing a car­i­ca­tured Jew­ish oli­garch on a Ukrain­ian trident.

Mean­while, Zalishchuk’s boss, Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko, has led a bloody war against pro-Russian sep­a­ratists in the east of the coun­try that left at least 3700 dead in a half year of fight­ing. Human Rights Watch recently accused Poroshenko’s forces of “indis­crim­i­nate” use of clus­ter bombs in heav­ily pop­u­lated areas, that “may amount to war crimes.” Poroshenko’s forces include neo-Nazi death squads like the noto­ri­ous Azov battalion.

Last month, Poroshenko fur­ther cemented his ties to the extreme right by hail­ing Ukraine’s wartime Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors, the vio­lently anti-Semitic UPA, as “heroes.” The fas­cist UPA par­tic­i­pated in the Holo­caust, and were respon­si­ble for killing tens of thou­sands of Jews and eth­nic Poles in their bid to cre­ate an eth­ni­cally pure Ukraine. Many UPA mem­bers filled the ranks of the Nazi SS “Gali­cia” Divi­sion.

The neo-Nazi Right Sek­tor, which spear­headed the vio­lent later stages of the Maidan rev­o­lu­tion, sees itself as the UPA’s con­tem­po­rary suc­ces­sors; Right Sektor’s leader, Dmitry Yarosh, believes that any “eth­nic minor­ity that pre­vents us from being mas­ters in our own land” is an “enemy.” Yarosh was just elected to the new parliament. This week, Omidyar Network’s “investment lead” for Ukraine, Stephen King, accepted an award for Omidyar Network’s role in a major new USAID-backed project, Global Impact Investing Network. . . .

1d. “What Pierre Did Next” by Mark Ames; Pando Daily; 7/31/2015.

The Guardian reported on Tues­day that the National Endow­ment for Democ­racy has just been banned from Rus­sia, under strict new laws reg­u­lat­ing NGOs act­ing as for­eign agents. In that story, the Guardian cited the fact that Inter­cept pub­lisher Pierre Omid­yar co-funded Ukraine rev­o­lu­tion groups with USAID and the National Endow­ment for Democ­racy (NED). If the Omid­yar con­nec­tion sounds famil­iar, that’s because it was Pando that first broke the story in Feb­ru­ary 2014 (the Guardian linked to our orig­i­nal scoop in its coverage.)

In the 18 months since we broke the story, Ukraine has col­lapsed into war and despair, with up to 10,000 peo­ple killed and one and a half mil­lion internally-displaced refugees — and top US brass talk openly of a new Cold War with nuclear-armed Rus­sia, while US mil­i­tary advi­sors train and arm Ukraini­ans to wage war on Russian-backed separatists. Svit­lana Zal­ishchuk, one of the lead­ers of the Omidyar-funded NGO that helped orga­nize last year’s rev­o­lu­tion in Kiev, is now in power as an MP in Ukraine’s par­lia­ment, a mem­ber of the new, pro-NATO president’s party bloc.

She’s gone from plucky Omidyar-funded adver­sar­ial activist, to head­ing a par­lia­men­tary sub­com­mit­tee tasked with inte­grat­ing Ukraine into NATO. I can’t think of another media tycoon who co-funded a pro-US regime change with Amer­i­can intel­li­gence cutouts like USAID and the National Endow­ment for Democ­racy.

That Putin tar­geted the NED does not mean it’s either heroic or evil—the NED’s story speaks for itself: The brain­child of Reagan’s CIA direc­tor Bill Casey, the National Endow­ment for Democ­racy was set up as an intel­li­gence cutout to sup­port US geopo­lit­i­cal power and under­mine unfriendly regimes. One of the NED co-founders, Allen Wein­stein, explained its pur­pose to the Wash­ing­ton Post:

“A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”

Through­out its 30-year his­tory it’s been mired in very typ­i­cal CIA con­tro­ver­sies: In the 80s, the NED was caught fund­ing an out­lawed extreme-right French para­mil­i­tary gang dur­ing Social­ist pres­i­dent Mitterand’s rule; fund­ing a mil­i­tary leader’s vic­to­ri­ous elec­tion in Panama against a more mod­er­ate civil­ian can­di­date; and financ­ing rightwing oppo­nents of Costa Rica’s democratically-elected Nobel Peace Prize-winning pres­i­dent, whose sin was oppos­ing Reagan’s deadly, dirty war in Nicaragua.

More recently, the NED was caught fund­ing groups that orga­nized the 2002 coup against Venezuela’s democratically-elected pres­i­dent Hugo Chavez; plant­ing a “free-lance jour­nal­ist” in the AP and New York Times to report on Haiti while the NED was simul­ta­ne­ously fund­ing rightwing groups to under­mine Haiti’s rul­ing party; and co-funding Ukraine regime-change groups with Pierre Omidyar.

This week, Omid­yar Net­work announced yet another part­ner­ship with the National Endow­ment for Democ­racy and the Poyn­ter Insti­tute to cre­ate an inter­na­tional online fact-checking hub. Given the power that a monop­oly on “objec­tive” fact-checking offers, the tie-up with the NED takes the Omid­yar alliance with the US empire and media to newer, creepier lev­els.

 In yet another Omidyar-as-private-arm invest­ment, Omid­yar invested in the slick new Ukrain­ian media, Hromadske.tv, which was set up on the eve of the Maidan rev­o­lu­tion with ini­tial seed fund­ing com­ing from the US Embassy in Kiev. Omidyar’s involve­ment in Ukraine media and “fact-checking” is all the more seri­ous given that now Wash­ing­ton and NATO talk about “coun­ter­ing” Russia’s over­hyped “infor­ma­tion war” on the West and on Ukraine—this “infor­ma­tion war” which I cov­ered a bit in my piece on Peter Pomer­ant­sev, is con­sid­ered a top and urgent geostrate­gic pri­or­ity for NATO and the West. . . .

2. In ‘Hindutva or Hind Swaraj’ a Warning Against Hindu Nationalism” by Vaibhav Sharma; The New York Times; 7/18/2016.

The last months of U. R. Ananthamurthy’s life were tumultuous. One of India’s foremost novelists and political commentators, Mr. Ananthamurthy, who died in August 2014 at 81, had threatened to leave the country if Narendra Modi, then leading the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, won the vote in the national election. Mr. Ananthamurthy’s remarks drew vitriol, abuse and death threats from Mr. Modi’s supporters, and he remained under round-the-clock police protection for months. In June, a political tract Mr. Ananthamurthy wrote during the final stage of his life, the parting shot of a writer who devoted substantial time to warning of the dangers of Hindu nationalism, was published to widespread acclaim. More than two years after Mr. Modi’s election as prime minister, even as many continue to fear that India’s founding values of secularism and diversity are under threat, Mr. Ananthamurthy’s voice has served as an urgent reminder of the perils of majoritarianism and hyper-nationalism. . . .

. . . . Drawing on a formidable range of intellectual references, from Dostoyevsky to the epics of Hindu mythology, Mr. Ananthamurthy’s “Hindutva or Hind Swaraj” examines the two rival ideas that have shaped modern India: the plural nationalism originating from the struggle against British colonialism, led by Mohandas K. Gandhi; and the muscular, majoritarian nationalism favored by Mr. Modi and his supporters. Mr. Ananthamurthy compares the key texts of these dominant political strains: Mr. Gandhi’s “Hind Swaraj,” a riposte to British colonialism completed in 10 days, during a ship journey in 1909, and published a year later; and “Hindutva,” the 1923 founding text of Hindu nationalism, written by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, a rightwing activist imprisoned by the British for his role in India’s freedom movement. “He felt the choice was really between these two ideologies,” Vivek Shanbhag, a prominent novelist and Mr. Ananthamurthy’s son-in-law, said of Mr. Ananthamurthy. “He was saying that it’s time that we, as a nation, stop now and take a look before we blindly move forward.” . . . .

. . . . “People like Modi,” Mr. Ananthamurthy writes, “live in a gumbaz, a dome that echoes what they say to themselves over and over again.” Mr. Modi’s election as prime minister has been followed by, as many feared, a climate of hostility toward minorities and renewed assaults on civil society and free expression. . . .

3. “In India, Another Government Critic Is Silenced by Bullets” by Jeffrey Gettleman and Hari Kumar; The New York Times; 9/6/2017.

Gauri Lankesh, one of India’s most outspoken journalists, was walking into her house on Tuesday night. It was around 8. The night was warm. She was alone. As she stepped through her gate, just feet from her front door, several gunshots rang out.

She was killed instantly in what political opposition officials say appears to be yet another assassination of an intellectual who publicly criticized India’s governing party and the Hindu agenda it has pursued. In recent years, at least three other antiestablishment activists have been silenced by bullets.

Ms. Lankesh’s death, which monopolized television news coverage on Wednesday, set off protests across India, a country increasingly polarized by supporters of the Hindu nationalist governing party and its detractors. Some of Mrs. Lankesh’s friends say they have no idea who killed her. But among government opponents, the circumstances of the shooting fueled suspicions that governing party backers, emboldened by their leaders to wipe out their enemies, were behind it.

“Anybody who speaks against the RSS/BJP is attacked & even killed,’’ Rahul Gandhi, an opposition leader, said in a Twitter message. (R.S.S. is a Hindu organization that is closely connected to India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party.) “They want to impose only one ideology which is against the nature of India.” . . .

. . . . The three other activists killed in a somewhat similar manner in the past four years had also opposed the rise of hard-line Hinduism. . . .

. . . . Leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party had been annoyed with Ms. Lankesh for years and sued her for defamation. The first court to hear the case convicted her and sentenced her to six months in prison last year, but she was granted bail while the case was on appeal. S. N. Sinha, president of India’s 28,000-member journalist union and a member of a news oversight council, said the council had gotten many complaints about Ms. Lankesh.

“She used to write very strongly,” Mr. Sinha said. “We warned her she has to be a little careful in her writing. It wasn’t the content; it was her language.” On Monday, the day before she was killed, she shared a post on her Facebook page that was written by someone else. “The RSS is the terrorist organization,” it read. . . .

 

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