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COMMENT: With things heating up in the Ukraine, we note two important developments that may not have received the attention they are due.
“Vanfield” informs us that 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 . (Yuschenko’s wife–the former Ykaterina Chumachenko–was Ronald Reagan’s deputy director of Presidential liaison and the head of the top OUN/B front organization in the United States. After assuming power in the Ukraine , Yuschenko named both OUN/B leader Stephan Bandera  and Roman Shukhevych as heroes of the Ukraine. The latter headed up the OUN/B’s military wing, that staffed the Einsatzgruppe “Nightingale.” Sukhevych’s son Yuriy is a key leader of the Ukrainian forces that assumed power in the coup.)
“Pterrafractyl” informs us that Swedish and other neo-Nazis  from other parts of Europe are streaming into the Ukraine to join with the Swoboda and Pravy Sektor fascists. The Swedish fascists are part of the same milieu as Carl Lundstrom, the financial angel of the PRQ server on which WikiLeaks was hosted.
EXCERPT: On February 28, 2014 Just hours after last weekend’s ouster  of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, one of Pierre Omidyar’s newest hires at national security blog “The Intercept ,” was already digging for the truth. Marcy Wheeler, who is the new site’s “senior policy analyst,” speculated  that the Ukraine revolution was likely a “coup” engineered by “deep forces” on behalf of “Pax Americana” :
“There’s quite a bit of evidence of coup-ness. Q is how many levels deep interference from both sides is.”
These are serious claims. So serious that I decided to investigate them. And what I found was shocking. Wheeler is partly correct. 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. This was by no means a US-backed “coup,” but clear evidence shows that US investment was a force multiplier for many of the groups involved in overthrowing Yanukovych. But that’s not the shocking part. What’s shocking is the name of the billionaire who co-invested with the US government (or as Wheeler put it: the “dark force” acting on behalf of “Pax Americana”). Step out of the shadows…. Wheeler’s boss, Pierre Omidyar. Yes, in the annals of independent media, this might be the strangest twist ever: 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 Department , DC neocons , EU , 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.” New Citizen , along with the rest of Rybachuk’s interlocking network of western-backed  NGOs and campaigns— “Center UA”  (also spelled “Centre UA”), “Chesno,”  and “Stop Censorship” to name a few — grew their power by targeting pro-Yanukovych politicians with a well-coordinated anti-corruption campaign that built its strength in Ukraine’s regions, before massing in Kiev last autumn. The efforts of the NGOs were so successful that the Ukraine government was accused of employing dirty tricks to shut them down. In early February, the groups were the subject of a massive money laundering investigation  by the economics division of Ukraine’s Interior Ministry in what many denounced as a politically motivated move. Fortunately the groups had the strength – which is to say, money – to survive those attacks and continue pushing for regime change in Ukraine. The source of that money? According to the Kyiv Post , Pierrie Omidyar’s Omidyar Network (part of the Omidyar Group which owns First Look Media and the Intercept) provided 36% of “Center UA”’s $500,000 budget in 2012— nearly $200,000. USAID provided 54% of “Center UA”’s budget for 2012. Other funders included the US government-backed National Endowment for Democracy. In 2011, Omidyar Network gave $335,000  to “New Citizen,” one of the anti-Yanukovych “projects” managed through the Rybachuk-chaired NGO “Center UA.” At the time, Omidyar Network boasted that its investment in “New Citizen” would help “shape public policy” in Ukraine:
“Using technology and media, New Citizen coordinates the efforts of concerned members of society, reinforcing their ability to shape public policy. “… With support from Omidyar Network, New Citizen will strengthen its advocacy efforts in order to drive greater transparency and engage citizens on issues of importance to them.”
“People are not afraid. We now have 150 NGOs in all the major cities in our ‘clean up Parliament campaign’ to elect and find better parliamentarians….The Orange Revolution was a miracle, a massive peaceful protest that worked. We want to do that again and we think we will.”
Detailed financial records  reviewed by Pando (and embedded below) also show Omidyar Network covered costs for the expansion of Rybachuk’s anti-Yanukovych campaign, “Chesno” (“Honestly”), into regional cities including Poltava, Vinnytsia, Zhytomyr, Ternopil, Sumy, and elsewhere, mostly in the Ukrainian-speaking west and center. * * * * To understand what it means for Omidyar to fund Oleh Rybachuk, some brief history is necessary. Rybachuk’s background follows a familiar pattern in post-Soviet opportunism: From well-connected KGB intelligence ties, to post-Soviet neoliberal networker. In the Soviet era, Rybachuk studied in a military languages program half of whose graduates went on to work for the KGB . Rybachuk’s murky overseas posting in India in the late Soviet era further strengthens many suspicions about his Soviet intelligence ties; whatever the case, by Rybachuk’s own account, his close ties  to top intelligence figures in the Ukrainian SBU  served him well during the Orange Revolution of 2004, when the SBU passed along secret information about vote fraud and assassination plots.
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. Other donors include the International Renaissance Foundation, whose key funder is billionaire George Soros, and National Endowment for Democracy, funded largely by the U.S. Congress.”
* * * * What all this adds up to is a journalistic conflict-of-interest of the worst kind: Omidyar working hand-in-glove with US foreign policy agencies to interfere in foreign governments, co-financing regime change with well-known arms of the American empire — while at the same time hiring a growing team of soi-disant ”independent journalists” which vows to investigate the behavior of the US government at home and overseas, and boasts of its uniquely “adversarial”  relationship towards these government institutions. As First Look staffer Jeremy Scahill told the Daily Beast …
We had a long discussion about this internally; about what our position would be if the White House asked us to not publish something…. With us, because we want to be adversarial, they won’t know what bat phone to call. They know who to call at The Times, they know who to call at The Post. With us, who are they going to call? Pierre? Glenn?
Of the many problems that poses, none is more serious than the fact that Omidyar now has the only two people with exclusive access to the complete Snowden NSA cache , Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras. Somehow, the same billionaire who co-financed the “coup” in Ukraine with USAID, also has exclusive access to the NSA secrets—and very few in the independent media dare voice a skeptical word about it. In the larger sense, this is a problem of 21st century American inequality, of life in a billionaire-dominated era. It is a problem we all have to contend with—PandoDaily’s 18-plus investors include a gaggle of Silicon Valley billionaires like Marc Andreessen (who serves on the board of eBay, chaired by Pierre Omidyar) and Peter Thiel (whose politics I’ve investigated,  and described as repugnant.) But what is more immediately alarming is what makes Omidyar different. Unlike other billionaires, Omidyar has garnered nothing but uncritical, fawning  press coverage, particularly from those he has hired . By acquiring a “dream team” of what remains of independent media — Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, Wheeler, my former partner  Matt Taibbi — not to mention press “critics” like Jay Rosen  — he buys both silence and fawning press. Both are incredibly useful: Silence, an absence of journalistic curiosity about Omidyar’s activities overseas and at home, has been purchased for the price of whatever his current all-star indie cast currently costs him. As an added bonus, that same investment buys silence from exponentially larger numbers of desperately underpaid independent journalists hoping to someday be on his payroll, and the underfunded media watchdogs  that survive on Omidyar Network grants. And it also buys laughable fluff from the likes of Scahill who also boasted to the Daily Beast  of his boss’ close involvement in the day to day running of First Look.
“[Omidyar] strikes me as always sort of political, but I think that the NSA story and the expanding wars put politics for him into a much more prominent place in his existence. This is not a side project that he is doing. Pierre writes more on our internal messaging than anyone else. And he is not micromanaging. This guy has a vision. And his vision is to confront what he sees as an assault on the privacy of Americans.”
Now Wheeler has her answer — that, yes, the revolutionary groups were part-funded by Uncle Sam, but also by her boss — one assumes awkward follow up questions will be asked on that First Look internal messaging system. Whether Wheeler, Scahill and their colleagues go on to share their concerns publicly will speak volumes about First Look’s much-trumpeted independence, both from Omidyar’s other business interests and from Omidyar’s co-investors in Ukraine: the US government.
EXCERPT: In early February, Fredrik Hagberg stood at the rostrum in Kiev’s City Hall, offering fraternal and comradely greetings from Sweden to the sweaty, bruised, and exhausted Ukrainian insurrectionists scattered throughout. The place was festooned with flags—some celtic crosses, a stray Confederate banner, a standard for the political party Svoboda, whose members essentially controlled the building—reflecting the dubious politics of its occupiers.
Revolutionary tourists, thrill seekers, and parachute journalists suffused Kiev. Sen. John McCain, actress Hayden Panettiere, and French intellectual Bernard Henri-Levy roused massive crowds with paeans to freedom and national sovereignty, while offering moral support to the opposition forces led by former boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko.
But Hagberg, a square-jawed and baby-faced member of the Swedish armed forces, had a darker message.
“I stand before your forces of revolution to tell you about what your future might be if you fail your glorious endeavour,” he said in fluid-but-clipped English. “I stand here as a Swede. However where I come from is no longer Sweden.” Hagberg warned Ukrainians that a successful revolution must chart a path that carefully avoided the evils of abortion and ethnic mongrelization, one that harshly punished welfare abuse and rejected the normalization of homosexuality. “Officials in Sweden like to calls us the most modern country in the world. I say to you, brothers, this is what awaits you if you choose to follow our example. You now have the opportunity to choose and create your own future. Do not accept the trap of choosing either the West or Russia.”
It’s unclear who, if anyone, invited him, but Hagberg was speaking as a representative of Nordisk Ungdom (Nordic Youth), a Swedish neo-Nazi group that celebrates “a traditional ideal of a better man, striving for something greater and more noble than his own personal benefit; an idealistic man who fights for Europe’s freedom.” Visitors to the group’s English-language website are met with with a Barbara Kruger-like advertisement beseeching visitors to “help us to help the revolution! Support a free Ukraine! Donate Now...” Because Hagberg is trying to provoke his fellow neo-Nazis into travelling to Kiev to help shape a new, fascist-friendly Ukraine.
Amongst the fascists, ultra-nationalists, and racists in Europe, there has been much griping that the revolt in Ukraine has been overtaken, if not controlled from the outset, by “CIA/ZOG [Zionist Occupied Government]/Soros-sponsored” forces. The Euroscepticism of the continent’s far-right movements has produced a skepticism of the uprising’s much-discussed Europhile mainstream.
But Pro-Yanukovych forces and the former president’s Kremlin allies have heavily promoted an alternative narrative—one that Hagberg and his allies happily embrace—suggesting that the protest movement is in fact honeycombed with dangerous neo-Nazis affiliated with the extremist Ukrainian political parties Svoboda and Right Sector. Therefore, Western supporters of the protests, like John Mccain, are agitating on behalf of violent Ukrainian fascism.
It’s a modified version of the Kremlin’s argument against Western support for Syrian rebel groups, which it says has amounted to material support for al-Qaeda-sponsered terrorism. And like with Syria—and the Spanish Civil War before it—sympathetic European extremists are travelling to provide support to their ideological brethren.
“We just got boots on the ground and are discussing with Svoboda representatives and other nationalists what we can assist with,” Magnus Söderman, the neo-Nazi organizer of the Swedish Ukraine Volunteers (Svenska Ukrainafrivilliga), told me. “Our message to them is that we will assist with whatever; clearing the streets, security, making food.”
On the group’s website, stuffed with hackneyed neo-Nazi propaganda, potential volunteers are told that “we do not organize any paramilitary force because our involvement is of a civil nature, as aid workers. Of course, should violence break out we will make use of our right of self-defense.” (The site advises recruits to “improve your physical fitness” before travelling to Kiev.) Ukraine, the group says, is facing an existential threat and “we must secure the existence of our people and the future of our white children!”
According to the group’s newly constituted Facebook page, a representative of the Swedish Ukraine Volunteers recently “visited the parliament and established ??important contacts” amongst local politicians, presumably those affiliated with ultra-nationalist parties Svoboda and Right Sector. The idea of foreign volunteers is “a good initiative,” said one member of a fascist message board in Sweden, “and I give my full support to Mikael Skillt and other party comrades who are travelling down to help our brothers in the east.”
Mikael Skillt is well-known in Swedish neo-Nazi circles. A spokesman for the vigilante group Stop the Pedophiles and a veteran of various now-defunct fascist organizations, Skillt is currently affiliated with the Party of the Swedes (SvP), a neo-Nazi group founded by members of the less camera-friendly National Socialist Front. According to its website, SvP “has good contact with [Svoboda] who were guests at our conference Vision Europe just under a year ago.”
When I contacted Skillt he was in Moscow, on his way to agitating in Kiev. So why does Ukraine need a fascist international brigade? “We are scanning the needs of the Ukrainians, but we will be offering [them] our help in whatever they need,” he told me. “We have members with experience in most fields, ranging from military to truck drivers to journalists.”
When I asked if he had canvassed the opinions of Russian neo-Nazi groups while in Moscow, Skillt told me, with predictable obliqueness, that he had “heard some [Russian] nationalists who have spoken of a revolution inspired by Ukraine.”
So how large is the international brigade of ultra-nationalists? A European journalist who follows the movement of European jihadists to Syria—and now fascists migrating towards Kiev—told me that there was indeed scattered evidence that neo-Nazi groups outside Sweden were making pilgrimages to Ukraine. When I asked Magnus Söderman if there was a network of other Nazis on the ground, he told me that “comrades from other European countries are also preparing to assist if it is needed.”