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

For The Record  

FTR #1024 Ukrainian Fascism, Maidan Snipers and Implications for the Syrian War, Part 2

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

Intro­duc­tion: On the 17th anniver­sary of the Sep­tem­ber 11th attacks, we con­tin­ue with analy­sis of the Maid­an shootings–an appar­ent “false flag” operation–and muse about the impli­ca­tions of that for the con­flict in Syr­ia, as well as Russ­ian and Amer­i­can polit­i­cal life.

In the first part of the pro­gram, we fin­ish read­ing the poster pre­sen­ta­tion that pro­fes­sor Ivan Katchanovs­ki, PhD of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ottawa pre­sent­ed at The 2018 Con­fer­ence of Amer­i­can Polit­i­cal Sci­ence Asso­ciates.

Katchanovs­ki has done a deep, detailed foren­sic study of the evi­dence in the Maid­an sniper attacks. He has a rig­or­ous, suc­cinct dig­i­tal mul­ti­me­dia ‘poster’ (an ‘iPoster’) for his find­ing that the Maid­an sniper attacks were a false flag oper­a­tion. That poster was pre­sent­ed dur­ing the 2018 Amer­i­can Polit­i­cal Sci­ence Asso­ci­a­tion con­fer­ence in Boston. It gives a high lev­el overview of his research and is heav­i­ly embed­ded with sub­stan­tive, doc­u­men­tary videos. Here are the con­tents of the poster. Be sure to check out the numer­ous images and videos includ­ed in the actu­al iPoster online.

He con­cludes his pre­sen­ta­tion with: “ . . . . The puz­zling mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the Maid­an mas­sacre, its inves­ti­ga­tion, and the tri­al by West­ern media and gov­ern­ments require fur­ther research con­cern­ing rea­sons for such mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion . . . . ”

In addi­tion to the sys­tem­at­ic manip­u­la­tion of evi­dence to sup­port the “Berkut/Yanukovych did it” hypoth­e­sis, the cov­er-up of con­trary find­ings and the West­ern media silence about the real­i­ties of the Maid­an killings are sig­nif­i­cant.

Note: Since FTR #1023 was record­ed pro­fes­sor Katchanovs­ki has post­ed a 59-minute-long video of the Maid­an shoot­ings. The video fea­tures TV footage from that day, with many clips clear­ly show­ing snipers oper­at­ing from Maid­an-con­trolled build­ings. It also includes Eng­lish sub­ti­tles and foren­sic descrip­tions of scenes. The footage includes a num­ber of peo­ple being shot and killed–a griz­zly 59-min­utes, but absolute­ly invalu­able in terms of estab­lish­ing what actu­al­ly hap­pened.

The pre­sen­ta­tion of pro­fes­sor Katchanovski’s research in this pro­gram begins with the sec­tion titled “Cov­er-Up and Stonewalling.”

Addi­tion­al per­spec­tive on the appar­ent non-inves­ti­ga­tion of the Maid­an sniper shoot­ings is pro­vid­ed by Ana­toliy Matios, Ukraine’s Deputy Pros­e­cu­tor and Chief Mil­i­tary Pros­e­cu­tor:

Matios, Ukraine’s chief mil­i­tary pros­e­cu­tor, gave an exten­sive inter­view where he said that Jews are behind all wars and want to “drown eth­nic Slavs in blood.”

Also recall the cryp­tic state­ment Matios made back in 2016 about the iden­ti­ty of the peo­ple involved with the 2014 sniper attacks: “When pub­lic learns who is involved in this, peo­ple will be very sur­prised.” In FTR #‘s 982993,  1004, 1023we exam­ined evi­dence that Ukrain­ian fas­cists may well have exe­cut­ed those sniper attacks. It is omi­nous that the chief mil­i­tary pros­e­cu­tor who is involved in that inves­ti­ga­tion is a neo-Nazi. ” . . . . In an exten­sive inter­view with the Ukrain­ian news out­let Insid­er, Ana­toliy Matios, Ukraine’s chief mil­i­tary pros­e­cu­tor, espoused anti-Semit­ic con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries in which he implied that Jews want to drown eth­nic Slavs in blood. . . .”

Return­ing to pro­fes­sor Katchanovski’s thought-pro­vok­ing con­clu­sion to his online poster: “ . . . . The puz­zling mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the Maid­an mas­sacre, its inves­ti­ga­tion, and the tri­al by West­ern media and gov­ern­ments require fur­ther research con­cern­ing rea­sons for such mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion . . . . ”

With the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment appar­ent­ly com­menc­ing an offen­sive to van­quish Al-Qae­da jihadis in Idlib province (with Russ­ian mil­i­tary sup­port), the stage is set for a pos­si­ble Russian‑U.S./Western mil­i­tary con­flict.

Against the back­ground of the Maid­an snip­ing as a prob­a­ble false flag provo­ca­tion, the impend­ing Syr­i­an offen­sive to re-cap­ture the last ter­ri­to­r­i­al enclave of the Islamists in Syr­ia should be viewed with appre­hen­sion. As not­ed in the arti­cle we present, the so-called “rebels” are Al-Qae­da off­shoots. Omi­nous­ly, they have appar­ent­ly suc­cess­ful­ly exe­cut­ed false-flag chem­i­cal weapons attacks before, includ­ing in Idlib province.

Rus­sia has warned that such a provo­ca­tion is in the wings–an unre­mark­able deduc­tion in light of past his­to­ry. In turn, the West has warned of retal­ia­to­ry action if such actions are under­tak­en.

The stage appears set for an Islamist/Al-Qae­da chem­i­cal weapons false flag/provocation, upon which U.S., British and French mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion will be pred­i­cat­ed.

In this con­text, one should not lose sight of the fact that Chech­nyan Islamist vet­er­ans of the Syr­i­an war have already made their appear­ance in the com­bat in East­ern Ukraine, part­ner­ing with Pravy Sek­tor in their deploy­ments. (The Chechen/Right Sector/Islamist link is dis­cussed in FTR #‘s 857, 862, 863, 872, 878, 893, 911.)

We note pos­si­ble out­comes of U.S./Western Russ­ian com­bat:

  1. If the Western/U.S. forces are vic­to­ri­ous, this will cov­er Trump’s rump  with regard to the “Rus­sia-Gate” so-called inves­ti­ga­tion and bol­ster the GOP’s posi­tion in upcom­ing 2018 midterm elec­tions.
  2. If the Western/U.S. forces pre­vail, it will weak­en Putin polit­i­cal­ly, which is a goal of the West.

The last part of the pro­gram con­sists of a par­tial read­ing of an arti­cle by CFR mem­ber Bruce Hoff­man. Not­ing Al Qaeda’s resur­gence and Al Qaeda’s empha­sis on the Syr­i­an con­flict, Hoff­man cites the so-called “Arab Spring” as the key event in Al Qaeda’s resur­gence. ” . . . . The thou­sands of hard­ened al-Qae­da fight­ers freed from Egypt­ian pris­ons in 2012–2013 by Pres­i­dent Mohammed Mor­si gal­va­nized the move­ment at a crit­i­cal moment, when insta­bil­i­ty reigned and a hand­ful of men well-versed in ter­ror­ism and sub­ver­sion could plunge a coun­try or a region into chaos. Whether in Libya, Turkey, Syr­ia, or Yemen, their arrival was prov­i­den­tial in terms of advanc­ing al-Qaeda’s inter­ests or increas­ing its influ­ence. . . . It was Syr­ia where al-Qaeda’s inter­ven­tion proved most con­se­quen­tial. One of Zawahiri’s first offi­cial acts after suc­ceed­ing bin Laden as emir was to order a Syr­i­an vet­er­an of the Iraqi insur­gency named Abu Moham­mad al-Julani to return home and estab­lish the al-Qae­da fran­chise that would even­tu­al­ly become Jab­hat al-Nus­ra. . . .”

In FTR #‘s 733 through 739, we pre­sent­ed our view that the so-called Arab Spring was a U.S. intel­li­gence oper­a­tion, aimed at plac­ing the Broth­er­hood in pow­er in Mus­lim coun­tries dom­i­nat­ed either by a sec­u­lar dic­ta­tor or absolute monar­chy.

Ibn Khal­dun: Mus­lim Broth­er­hood eco­nom­ics role mod­el, regard­ed by the IMF as the first advo­cate of pri­va­ti­za­tion

It is our view that the Broth­er­hood was seen as use­ful because of its mil­i­tary off­shoots (Al-Qae­da in par­tic­u­lar) were use­ful proxy war­riors in places like the Cau­ca­sus and the Balka­ns and because the Broth­er­hood’s cor­po­ratist, neo-lib­er­al eco­nom­ic doc­trine was in keep­ing with the desires and goals of the trans-nation­al cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ty.

In FTR #787, we solid­i­fied our analy­sis with defin­i­tive con­fir­ma­tion of our work­ing hypoth­e­sis pre­sent­ed years ear­li­er.

About the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood’s eco­nom­ic doc­trine” . . . . The Mus­lim Broth­er­hood hails 14th cen­tury philoso­pher Ibn Khal­dun as its eco­nomic guide. Antic­i­pat­ing sup­ply-side eco­nom­ics, Khal­dun argued that cut­ting tax­es rais­es pro­duc­tion and tax rev­enues, and that state con­trol should be lim­ited to pro­vid­ing water, fire and free graz­ing land, the util­i­ties of the ancient world. The World Bank has called Ibn Khal­dun the first advo­cate of pri­va­ti­za­tion. [Empha­sis added.] His found­ing influ­ence is a sign of mod­er­a­tion. If Islamists in pow­er ever do clash with the West, it won’t be over com­merce. . . .”

Stephen Glain’s cita­tion of Ibn Khal­dun res­onates with Ronald Rea­gan’s pre­sen­ta­tion of “sup­ply-side eco­nom­ics.” ” . . . . Respond­ing to a ques­tion about the effects of tax and spend­ing cuts that began tak­ing effect yes­ter­day, Mr. Rea­gan said the sup­ply-side prin­ci­ple dat­ed at least as far back as Ibn Khal­dun, who is gen­er­al­ly regard­ed as the great­est Arab his­to­ri­an to emerge from the high­ly devel­oped Ara­bic cul­ture of the Mid­dle Ages. . . .”

1. Cana­di­an aca­d­e­m­ic Ivan Katchanovs­ki has done a deep, detailed foren­sic study of the evi­dence in the Maid­an sniper attacks. He has a rig­or­ous, suc­cinct dig­i­tal mul­ti­me­dia ‘poster’ (an ‘iPoster’) for his find­ing that the Maid­an sniper attacks were a false flag oper­a­tion. That poster was pre­sent­ed dur­ing the 2018 Amer­i­can Polit­i­cal Sci­ence Asso­ci­a­tion con­fer­ence in Boston. It gives a high lev­el overview of his research and is heav­i­ly embed­ded with sub­stan­tive, doc­u­men­tary videos. Here are the con­tents of the poster. Be sure to check out the numer­ous images and videos includ­ed in the actu­al iPoster online.

“ . . . . Maid­an mas­sacre tri­al and inves­ti­ga­tion evi­dence have revealed var­i­ous evi­dence that at least the absolute major­i­ty of 49 killed and 157 wound­ed Maid­an pro­test­ers on Feb­ru­ary 20, 2014 were mas­sa­cred by snipers in Maid­an-con­trolled build­ings. Such evi­dence includes tes­ti­monies of the major­i­ty of wound­ed pro­test­ers and many wit­ness­es, foren­sic med­ical and bal­lisitic exam­i­na­tions, and inves­ti­ga­tion own find­ing that about half of Maid­an pro­test­ers were wound­ed from oth­er loca­tions than the Berkut police. Var­i­ous indi­ca­tions of stonewalling of the Maid­an mas­sacre inves­ti­ga­tions and the tri­als by the Maid­an gov­ern­ment offi­cials and by far right orga­ni­za­tions. Var­i­ous indi­ca­tions of the cov­er-up of much of the key evi­dence of the mas­sacre. Such rev­e­la­tions from the Maid­an mas­sacre tri­als and inves­ti­ga­tions cor­rob­o­rate pre­vi­ous stud­ies find­ings that this mas­sacre was a false flag mass killing with involve­ment of ele­ments of Maid­an lead­er­ship and the far right and that it includ­ed the mas­sacre of the police. The puz­zling mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the Maid­an mas­sacre, its inves­ti­ga­tion, and the tri­al by West­ern media and gov­ern­ments require fur­ther research con­cern­ing rea­sons for such mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion . . . . ”

Note: Since FTR #1023 was record­ed pro­fes­sor Katchanovs­ki has post­ed a 59-minute-long video of the Maid­an shoot­ings. The video fea­tures TV footage from that day, with many clips clear­ly show­ing snipers oper­at­ing from Maid­an-con­trolled build­ings. It also includes Eng­lish sub­ti­tles and foren­sic descrip­tions of scenes. The footage includes a num­ber of peo­ple being shot and killed–a griz­zly 59-min­utes, but absolute­ly invalu­able in terms of estab­lish­ing what actu­al­ly hap­pened.

The pre­sen­ta­tion of pro­fes­sor Katchanovski’s research in this pro­gram begins with the sec­tion titled “Cov­er-Up and Stonewalling.”

“Ivan Katchanovs­ki, PhD. The Maid­an Mas­sacre in Ukraine: Rev­e­la­tions from Tri­als and Inves­ti­ga­tions.” Poster pre­sent­ed at: 2018 Con­fer­ence of the Amer­i­can Polit­i­cal Stud­ies Asso­ciates; 2018 Aug 30-Sept 1; Boston, MA

Pre­vi­ous Stud­ies

The Maid­an mas­sacre in Ukraine in Feb­ru­ary 2014 led to or con­tributed to

* Vio­lent over­throw of the semi-demo­c­ra­t­ic pro-Russ­ian gov­ern­ment
* Russ­ian annex­a­tion of Crimea
* Civ­il war in Don­bas
* Russ­ian covert mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion in Don­bas in sup­port of sep­a­ratists
* Con­flict between the West and Rus­sia

(See Black and Johns, 2016; Hahn, 2017; Katchanovs­ki, 2015a, 2015b, 2016a, 2016b, 2017; Kudelia, 2016, 2018)

Only a few pre­vi­ous schol­ar­ly stud­ies of this cru­cial case of polit­i­cal vio­lence

* All by polit­i­cal sci­en­tists

Most pre­vi­ous stud­ies find that this was a false flag mass killing involv­ing sec­tions of Maid­an lead­er­ship and far right and involved the mas­sacre of the police (Hahn, 2017; Katchanovs­ki, 2015, 2016)

Kudelia (2018) argues that the vio­lence was ini­ti­at­ed by the Maid­an pro­test­ers, who killed and wound­ed many police­men and that the Berkut police then mas­sa­cred unarmed pro­test­ers in turn

* But the pre­vi­ous stud­ies did not exam­ine sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly evi­dence revealed by Maid­an mas­sacre tri­als and inves­ti­ga­tions
* Many schol­ars uncrit­i­cal­ly cit­ed Maid­an politi­cians, gov­ern­ment offi­cials, and the media con­cern­ing this mas­sacre with­out exam­in­ing evi­dence, includ­ing from tri­al and inves­ti­ga­tions, for exam­ple, mis­at­tribut­ing the mas­sacre to gov­ern­ment snipers (See, for exam­ple, Marples and Mills, 2015; Wil­son, 2014).

Ukrain­ian and West­ern gov­ern­ments and media dom­i­nant nar­ra­tives

* Gov­ern­ment snipers and/or a Berkut anti-riot police unit mas­sa­cred peace­ful Maid­an pro­test­ers on a Yanukovych order
* Killed pro­test­ers com­mem­o­rat­ed by the gov­ern­ment and media in Ukraine as nation­al heroes
* Lim­it­ed media report­ing and offi­cial state­ments about the Maid­an mas­sacre tri­al even though this is the tri­al of the cen­tu­ry in Ukraine
* Charges against Yanukovych, his inter­nal affairs and secu­ri­ty min­is­ters, and a spe­cial Berkut unit are gen­er­al­ly tak­en at face val­ue
* With some lim­it­ed excep­tions, no media report­ing or offi­cials state­ments about rev­e­la­tions of evi­dence at the tri­al regard­ing snipers in Maid­an-con­trolled loca­tions or such evi­dence is dis­missed as a con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry or fake

Research Ques­tion & Data

Research Ques­tion

* What does evi­dence made pub­lic by the Maid­an mas­sacre tri­als and Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment inves­ti­ga­tions reveal about which of the par­ties of the con­flict was involved in this mass killing?

Data and Method­ol­o­gy

* Sev­er­al hun­dred hours of online video record­ings of Maid­an mas­sacre tri­als
* Over 2,000 court deci­sions con­cern­ing inves­ti­ga­tion of the mas­sacre from the offi­cial court deci­sions data­base in Ukraine
* Focus on the Maid­an mas­sacre tri­al of 5 Berkut police­men charged with the mas­sacre on Feb­ru­ary 20, 2014

Qual­i­ta­tive and quan­ti­ta­tive inter­views analy­sis

* Exam­ines tri­al and inves­ti­ga­tion tes­ti­monies of more than 100 wound­ed pro­test­ers and rel­a­tives of the killed pro­test­ers, Yanukovych, and his Inter­nal Troops com­man­der
* Tes­ti­monies by wit­ness­es at the tri­al, inves­ti­ga­tion, media, and social media

Con­tent analy­sis

* Analy­sis and syn­chro­niza­tion of videos, audio record­ings, and pho­tos of the Maid­an mas­sacre shown dur­ing the tri­al, in the media, and social media
* Com­par­isons of the tri­al and inves­ti­ga­tion data with oth­er evi­dence, such as syn­chro­nised videos of the mas­sacre and tes­ti­monies of wit­ness­es in the media and social media
* Com­par­i­son with results of foren­sic bal­lis­tic and med­ical exam­i­na­tions and inves­tiga­tive exper­i­ments made pub­lic at the tri­al
* Online video appen­dix­es with Eng­lish-lan­guage sub­ti­tles con­tain rel­e­vant video seg­ments from the Maid­an mas­sacre tri­al, the media, and social media for analy­sis and repli­ca­tion pur­pos­es

Rev­e­la­tions about Snipers
The Maid­an mas­sacre tri­al & inves­ti­ga­tion revealed var­i­ous evi­dence that Maid­an pro­test­ers on Feb­ru­ary 20 were mas­sa­cred by snipers in Maid­an-con­trolled build­ings

* At least 25 out of 66 wound­ed Maid­an pro­test­ers, with whose shoot­ing Berkut police­men are charged, tes­ti­fied at the tri­al & inves­ti­ga­tion that they were shot from Maid­an-con­trolled buildings/ areas & 29 tes­ti­fied that they wit­nessed snipers there or were told about them by oth­er pro­test­ers (See Video Appen­dix D)
[see video]
* Many wit­ness tes­ti­monies at the tri­al & inves­ti­ga­tion about snipers in Maid­an-con­trolled build­ings (Video Appen­dix E)
[see video]

Such tes­ti­monies are con­sis­tent with some 200 wit­ness tes­ti­monies in media and social media about snipers in Maid­an areas, includ­ing over 70 video tes­ti­monies.

* Six Maid­an politi­cians and activists pub­licly tes­ti­fied that they wit­nessed involve­ment of spe­cif­ic top Maid­an lead­ers in the mas­sacre, such as their deploy­ment of snipers and evac­u­a­tion of snipers who were cap­tured by Maid­an-pro­test­ers
* An ex-spon­sor of the Right Sec­tor to tes­ti­fy at the tri­al

(See Video Appen­dix B).
[see video]

They are also gen­er­al­ly con­sis­tent with tes­ti­monies of 5 Geor­gian ex-mil­i­tary in Ital­ian, Israeli, Mace­don­ian, & Russ­ian media and their depo­si­tions pro­vid­ed to Berkut lawyers for the tri­al. They tes­ti­fied that their groups received weapons, pay­ments, & orders to mas­sacre both police and pro­test­ers from spe­cif­ic Maid­an and Geor­gian politi­cians & instruc­tions from a far-right linked ex-US Army sniper and then saw Geor­gian, Baltic States, and spe­cif­ic far right Right Sec­tor-linked Ukrain­ian snipers shoot­ing from spe­cif­ic Maid­an-con­trolled build­ings (see Ital­ian & Israeli TV doc­u­men­taries (Eng­lish lan­guage ver­sions))
[see video]
[see video]
[see video]

These Geor­gians revealed in the media their names, pass­port num­bers & bor­der stamps, copies of plane tick­ets, videos and pho­tos in Ukraine or Geor­gian mil­i­tary, and oth­er evi­dence in sup­port of their tes­ti­monies

* Iden­ti­ties, pres­ence in Ukraine, and Geor­gian mil­i­tary ser­vice of some of them cor­rob­o­rat­ed by evi­dence & oth­er sources
* Maid­an mas­sacre tri­al deci­sion autho­rised two of them tes­ti­fy at the tri­al via video link from Arme­nia

The Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al Office inves­ti­ga­tion revealed in Octo­ber 2016 that one of the lead­ers of far right Svo­bo­da and its mem­ber of the par­lia­ment occu­pied a Hotel Ukraina room from which a sniper in report­ed Maid­an style green hel­met was filmed shoot­ing by BBC and ICTV in the direc­tion of the Maid­an pro­test­ers and the BBC jour­nal­ists. (See Video Appen­dix A)

Three Maid­an snipers admit­ted in BBC and Ukrain­ian media inter­views that the mas­sacre on Feb­ru­ary 20 start­ed with them and oth­er Maid­an snipers shoot­ing at the police from the Music Con­ser­va­to­ry and forc­ing the police units to flee the Maid­an square which they besieged (see BBC report and Katchanovs­ki, 2015b)
[see video]

* Inves­ti­ga­tion deter­mined that one of them killed two police­men dur­ing the mas­sacre from a hunt­ing ver­sion of Kalash­nikov assault rifle
* Kyiv court deci­sions revealed that the Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al Office of Ukraine inves­ti­gat­ed lead­ers and mem­bers of the far right Right Sec­tor, neo-Nazi “War­riors of Nar­nia,” Sok­il, a youth affil­i­ate of far right Svo­bo­da par­ty, far right Brat­st­vo and oth­er uniden­ti­fied Maid­an activists for their sus­pect­ed involve­ment in the killing and wound­ing of the Inte­ri­or Troops ser­vice­men and the Berkut police on Feb­ru­ary 18–20 (see, for exam­ple, Ukhvala, 2016a).
* Right Sec­tor mem­bers match killers of two Inte­ri­or Troops mem­bers on Feb­ru­ary 18

The Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al Office of Ukraine inves­ti­ga­tion deter­mined based on their tes­ti­monies and inves­tiga­tive exper­i­ments that almost half of pro­test­ers (77 out of 157) were wound­ed on Feb­ru­ary 20 from oth­er sec­tors than the Berkut police and did not charge Berkut with their shoot­ing

* Since the inves­ti­ga­tion deter­mined that gov­ern­ment snipers did not mas­sacre the Maid­an pro­test­ers this sug­gests that these pro­test­ers were wound­ed from the Maid­an-con­trolled buildings/areas
* E,g., a female #Maid­an medic, whose wound­ing on Maid­an was wide­ly blamed by West­ern & Ukrain­ian media and politi­cians on gov­ern­ment snipers
[see video]

No such tes­ti­monies admit­ting involve­ment in the mas­sacre or knowl­edge of such involve­ment by the Berkut police­men, ex-police and secu­ri­ty ser­vices com­man­ders, and ex-Yanukovych gov­ern­ment offi­cials

* This includes both those charged with the mas­sacre and those not charged and serv­ing the new Maid­an gov­ern­ment or remain­ing in Ukraine
* Charged Berkut police­men denied that they mas­sa­cred pro­test­ers
Their lawyers argue at the tri­al that both pro­test­ers and police were mas­sa­cred by snipers in Maid­an-con­trolled build­ings
* Yanukovych and his com­man­der of Inter­nal Troops tes­ti­fied at the tri­al as wit­ness­es via video link from Rus­sia the same and that they did not give orders to mas­sacre pro­test­ers.
* They were only charged in 2017 in absen­tia with order­ing the mas­sacre
* Such tes­ti­monies of police­men and senior ex-gov­ern­ment offi­cials pub­licly accused or charged with the mass killing are in line with their per­son­al, polit­i­cal, and mon­e­tary incen­tives but they are gen­er­al­ly con­sis­tent with var­i­ous oth­er evi­dence

No spe­cif­ic evi­dence of orders by then pres­i­dent Yanukovych, his inter­nal affairs and secu­ri­ty ser­vice min­is­ters, or police and secu­ri­ty ser­vice com­man­ders to mas­sacre unarmed pro­test­ers has been revealed at the tri­als or made pub­lic by the pros­e­cu­tion or oth­er sources

A minor­i­ty of wound­ed pro­test­ers tes­ti­fied at the tri­al and inves­ti­ga­tion that they were shot by gov­ern­ment snipers or Berkut police

* Most of these tes­ti­monies are not con­sis­tent with foren­sic med­ical exam­i­na­tions, in par­tic­u­lar, about their steep/slope wound direc­tions and their posi­tions in videos, inves­ti­ga­tion find­ing that pro­test­ers were not mas­sa­cred by gov­ern­ment snipers
* There is lack of such foren­sic exam­i­na­tions, videos, and wit­ness tes­ti­monies is a many of these cas­es or the evi­dence is con­tra­dic­to­ry
* Such tes­ti­monies by wound­ed Maid­an pro­test­ers are much more like­ly to be biased because of per­son­al, mon­e­tary and polit­i­cal incen­tives to cor­rob­o­rate the dom­i­nant gov­ern­ment, media and pros­e­cu­tion nar­ra­tive of the mas­sacre com­pared to oppo­site incen­tive of tes­ti­monies by wound­ed Maid­an pro­test­ers about snipers in Maid­an-con­trolled build­ings and areas

Inves­ti­ga­tion by the Mil­i­tary Pros­e­cu­tor Office in Lviv found that the Maid­an pro­test­ers in Khmel­nyt­skyi were killed and wound­ed by uniden­ti­fied Maid­an shoot­er from the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine region­al head­quar­ters porch that was occu­pied by Maid­an pro­test­ers. This is con­sis­tent with the con­tent analy­sis of videos of this mas­sacre (see Video Appen­dix C).

Foren­sic Exam­i­na­tions

Offi­cial foren­sic med­ical exam­i­na­tions

* Absolute major­i­ty of pro­test­ers shot on Feb­ru­ary 20 from side & back direc­tions
* 40 out of 48 killed pro­test­ers, with whose mur­der Berkut police­men are charged, had slope wounds & 1 even
* 36 with slope wounds were killed when police was on sim­i­lar lev­el on the ground
* E.g. 3 pro­test­ers in US archi­tec­ture com­pa­ny 3‑D mod­el for Maid­an lawyers but their wounds made near­ly straight

Loca­tions & direc­tions of Dmytriv wounds in foren­sic med­ical reports (Report, 2015a) & Krovavyi (2014) & Tri­al (2016) videos & their & bul­let direc­tion mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions by SITU (2018), New York Times (2018), BBC (2014) & pros­e­cu­tion
[see image]
They are con­sis­tent with bul­let tra­jec­to­ries in videos & pho­tos (see Video Appen­dix C)
[see video]

Foren­sic exam­i­na­tions and a video of his shoot­ing sug­gest that one pro­test­er shot in his side at near­ly even lev­el was killed from a Maid­an direc­tion

Out of 7 killed pro­test­ers with no foren­sic infor­ma­tion about their wounds direc­tion made pub­lic:

* Three were shot by hunt­ing pel­lets before the Berkut spe­cial com­pa­ny appeared in the Maid­an area
* One was shot by an expand­ing hunt­ing bul­let of a US cal­iber which does not match cal­iber of gov­ern­ment units firearms
* One was killed, inter alia, by a hand­gun bul­let behind a wall that made it phys­i­cal­ly impos­si­ble to shoot him from Berkut posi­tions
* Two oth­er were killed at the same time and place as the many oth­er pro­test­ers

(See Video Appen­dix A)

Sim­i­lar­ly, 48 out of 51 wound­ed pro­test­ers, whose wound direc­tions were revealed at the tri­al and with whose shoot­ing on Feb­ru­ary 20th Berkut police­men were charged, had wounds at sig­nif­i­cant slopes.

* Com­mon sense and foren­sic text­books sug­gest that this is con­sis­tent with shoot­ing by snipers in/on build­ings.

Side­ways and back loca­tions and direc­tions of their wounds in the absolute major­i­ty of cas­es also point to shoot­ing from Maid­an-con­trolled build­ings locat­ed on both sides and in the back of advanc­ing pro­test­ers and not from their front by the Berkut police (see Map).

* One does not need to be a foren­sic expert to deter­mine whether over­all loca­tions and direc­tions of wounds at the times and spots iden­ti­fied at the tri­al and in syn­chro­nized videos of the mas­sacre point to the Berkut posi­tions on the ground in front of the pro­test­ers or to Maid­an-con­trolled build­ings on the pro­test­ers’ left and right sides and in the back of the pro­test­ers

Foren­sic bal­lis­tic exam­i­na­tions

* Report­ed that 19 pro­test­ers were killed on Feb­ru­ary 20 by 7.62x39mm cal­iber bul­lets
* Stat­ed that they could not deter­mine if the bul­lets were fired from Kalash­nikov assault rifles of this cal­iber, hunt­ing ver­sions of Kalash­nikov assault rifles, or oth­er weapons of this cal­iber, such as Simonov car­bine (SKS)
* They indi­cat­ed that one pro­test­er was killed from Vepr car­bine, a hunt­ing ver­sion of Kalash­nikov machine gun
* Three oth­er pro­test­ers were killed by pel­lets used in hunt­ing.
* Two pro­test­ers were killed by expand­ing hunt­ing bul­lets. Their cal­iber did not match cal­ibers of weapons used by the spe­cial Berkut com­pa­ny, whose mem­bers were charged with killing them.
* A foren­sic bal­lis­tic exam­i­na­tion con­duct­ed by gov­ern­ment insti­tute experts on the pros­e­cu­tion request with use of an auto­mat­ic com­put­er based IBIS-TAIS sys­tem in Jan­u­ary 2015 found that bul­lets extract­ed from killed pro­test­ers, trees, and the Hotel Ukraina rooms did not match police data­base of bul­let sam­ples from any 7.62×39 cal­iber Kalash­nikov assault rifles of mem­bers of the entire Kyiv Berkut reg­i­ment, includ­ing the spe­cial Berkut com­pa­ny charged with the mas­sacre of the pro­test­ers
* Find­ings of this com­put­er-based bal­lis­tic exam­i­na­tion and results of some 40 oth­er bal­lis­tic exam­i­na­tions were reversed in a cou­ple of bal­lis­tic exam­i­na­tions con­duct­ed man­u­al­ly in the very end of the inves­ti­ga­tion
* This sug­gests that these rever­sals are unre­li­able, and bal­lis­tic experts could not explain them at the tri­al

Foren­sic exam­i­na­tions along with tes­ti­monies of wound­ed pro­test­ers & wit­ness­es, loca­tions & posi­tions of the killed & wound­ed pro­test­ers in videos & pho­tos, & Google Earth map of the mas­sacre site sug­gest that at least absolute major­i­ty of pro­test­ers, includ­ing Dmytriv, were shot by snipers in the Maid­an-con­trolled build­ings (See map and Video Appen­dix A)

[see Map of the Maid­an mas­sacre on Feb­ru­ary 20]

Killing and wound­ing of a small minor­i­ty of pro­test­ers by the Berkut police, in par­tic­u­lar, by ric­o­chets or in cross-fire with snipers in the Maid­an-con­trolled build­ings, can­not be exclud­ed because of lack of data or con­tra­dic­to­ry data

* But their killing and wound­ing in the same loca­tions and at the same time as oth­er pro­test­ers sug­gest that most of them were also like­ly shot by the Maid­an snipers.

Gov­ern­ment inves­ti­ga­tion deter­mined that most of pro­test­ers killed on Feb­ru­ary 18–19 were shot with hunt­ing pel­lets and smooth­bore rifles used in hunt­ing

The gov­ern­ment inves­ti­ga­tion revealed that the absolute major­i­ty of 11 police­men killed on Feb­ru­ary 18–19, and all 4 police­men killed on Feb­ru­ary 20 were shot from sim­i­lar types and cal­ibers of hunt­ing pel­lets and bul­lets, hand­gun bul­lets, and 7,62×39 bul­lets as the pro­test­ers

Court rul­ings revealed that the weapons used by two wound­ed Right Sec­tor activists in a sep­a­ratist check­point attack in April 2014 were the same weapons from which two Inter­nal Troops ser­vice­men were killed and three oth­er police­men wound­ed on the Maid­an on Feb­ru­ary 18 (Ukhvala, 2016b).

Cov­er-up & Stonewalling NB–We began this week’s pre­sen­ta­tion with a read­ing of Pro­fes­sor Katchanovski’s pre­sen­ta­tion from this point.

* Inves­ti­ga­tion denies that there were snipers in Maid­an-con­trolled build­ings & not inves­ti­gates them in spite of over­whelm­ing evi­dence revealed by inves­ti­ga­tion & tri­al & pub­licly avail­able evi­dence, such as tes­ti­monies by over 100 wound­ed pro­test­ers & over 200 wit­ness­es, & videos, pho­tos & audio of snipers in/on these build­ings, includ­ing their shoot­ing at pro­test­ers & police (Video Appen­dix A).
[see video]

The Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al of Ukraine, who was one of the top Maid­an politi­cians, declared that the inves­ti­ga­tion of the Maid­an mas­sacre is de fac­to com­plet­ed

* Pub­lic state­ments by 6 Maid­an politi­cians and activists and 5 Geor­gians about involve­ment of snipers and Maid­an lead­ers in the mas­sacre and its cov­er-up have not been inves­ti­gat­ed
* Ex-pres­i­dent of Geor­gia hasti­ly detained and expelled from Ukraine a day before his tes­ti­mo­ny con­cern­ing “Geor­gian snipers” at the Maid­an mas­sacre tri­al
* Sim­i­lar­ly, a pub­lic state­ment by a Maid­an mem­ber of the par­lia­ment that one of titusky lead­ers, who was involved in killing of a jour­nal­ist on Feb­ru­ary 19, worked for a busi­ness of lead­ing Maid­an activists and that they knew about the mas­sacar in advance also has not been inves­ti­gat­ed

Fail­ure by the inves­ti­ga­tion to deter­mine bul­let tra­jec­to­ries with help of foren­sic bal­lis­tic experts even after the Maid­an mas­sacre tri­al ordered such exam­i­na­tions, specif­i­cal­ly to deter­mine if these tra­jec­to­ries were from the Maid­an-con­trolled build­ings

* The inves­ti­ga­tion instead of bal­lis­tic experts used com­plex foren­sic exam­i­na­tions by medics to deter­mine sec­tors of fire with­out on-site vis­its and any mea­sure­ments and expla­na­tions pro­vid­ed
* At least sev­er­al dozens of such exam­i­na­tions were con­duct­ed by the same three med­ical experts dur­ing the last weeks of the inves­ti­ga­tion
* Not bal­lis­tic experts but archi­tects from a US archi­tec­ture com­pa­ny were hired by Maid­an vic­tims lawyers with involve­ment of the pros­e­cu­tion to deter­mine bul­let tra­jec­to­ries of 3 select­ed killed pro­test­ers out of 49 killed and 157 wound­ed pro­test­ers for the tri­al con­cern­ing Feb­ru­ary 20th Maid­an mas­sacre
* Both these com­plex med­ical exam­i­na­tions and the 3‑D mod­el by New York archi­tec­ture com­pa­ny pro­vid­ed prac­ti­cal­ly iden­ti­cal bul­let trajectories/sectors of fire from Berkut bar­ri­cades on the ground in cas­es of these 3 killed pro­test­ers.
* But wounds loca­tions and steep slopes of the entry and exit wounds in foren­sic med­ical exam­i­na­tions used both by the med­ical and archi­tec­tur­al experts in deter­min­ing these bal­lis­tic tra­jec­to­ries dif­fer sig­nif­i­cant­ly from their loca­tions and near­ly hor­i­zon­tal lev­els in the 3‑D mod­el by SITU Research
* This con­cerns not only Dmytriv wounds but also Dyh­dalovych and Parashchuk wounds
(See images con­cern­ing Dmyriv above and Dyh­dalovych below, Report (2015a, 2015b); SITU (2018)).
[see image of Dyh­dalovych wounds loca­tions and direc­tions and their mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion in SITU mod­el]

Bul­let wounds loca­tions and their steep slopes along with bul­let holes appear­ing in shields right after their killings in the same spot with­in 2 min­utes and a tes­ti­mo­ny of a pro­test­er who was in the same spot that he saw Dyh­dalovych shot by a sniper on the Bank Arka­da point to the top of this build­ing as a loca­tion of snipers who killed both Dyh­dalovych and Dmytriv.

(See Map, Video Appen­dix A).

* These bul­let holes and the tes­ti­monies of two pro­test­ers, who wit­nessed their killings, about snipers in Maid­an-con­trolled build­ings shoot­ing Dyh­dalovych and Dmytriv were not men­tioned at the tri­al
* Similarly,videos and audio record­ings of snipers in Maid­an-con­trolled build­ings and pub­licly avail­able tes­ti­monies of numer­ous oth­er Maid­an pro­test­ers about such snipers were not men­tioned by the inves­ti­ga­tion and at the Maid­an mas­sacre tri­al

The land­scape, the street, & trees on the site of the mas­sacre would be almost com­plete­ly changed into a park and a new Maid­an mas­sacre muse­um by Feb­ru­ary 2019 and it would be phys­i­cal­ly impos­si­ble to con­duct on-site inves­tiga­tive exper­i­ments to deter­mine bul­let tra­jec­to­ries.

A new bal­lis­tic expert exam­i­na­tions of bul­lets that was ordered by the Maid­an mas­sacre tri­al has not start­ed for more than 1 year after the court deci­sion.

No foren­sic video and audio exam­i­na­tions were con­duct­ed by the inves­ti­ga­tion.

The Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al Office reversed with­out any expla­na­tions their own pre­vi­ous inves­ti­ga­tion find­ings.

* Admis­sions that pro­test­ers were mas­sa­cred by snipers from the Hotel Ukraina from SKS car­bines and that at least 3 pro­test­ers were killed from this hotel and 10 oth­ers were also killed from sig­nif­i­cant heights
* Inves­ti­ga­tions of the mas­sacres of the police and the pro­test­ers were sep­a­rat­ed even though they hap­pened on the same days and in the same places
* No foren­sic exam­i­na­tions com­par­isons of bul­lets extract­ed from bod­ies of the police and the pro­test­ers in spite of var­i­ous evi­dence that they were shot by same groups of snipers
* Sim­i­lar unex­plained rever­sals of foren­sic exam­i­na­tions of bul­lets and direc­tions of wounds of pro­test­ers a few weeks before the inves­ti­ga­tion sub­mit­ted the case to a court for tri­al
* Sim­i­lar unex­plained rever­sals at the tri­al tes­ti­monies of many wound­ed pro­test­ers pre­vi­ous­ly pro­vid­ed to the inves­ti­ga­tion

The Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al Office has been head­ed by Maid­an politi­cians or close allies of the cur­rent pres­i­dent of Ukraine and the inves­ti­ga­tion of the mas­sacre has been under con­trol of Maid­an gov­ern­ment lead­ers from the start.

Two fac­tions of main rul­ing Maid­an par­ties blocked cre­ation of a par­lia­men­tary com­mis­sion con­cern­ing Maid­an mas­sacre inves­ti­ga­tion.

Key pieces of foren­sic evi­dence of the mas­sacre on Feb­ru­ary 20 dis­ap­peared when it was under the Maid­an oppo­si­tion or Maid­an gov­ern­ment con­trol or when it was in the pos­ses­sion of the Maid­an gov­ern­ment inves­ti­ga­tion with­out any­one respon­si­ble iden­ti­fied and pros­e­cut­ed.

* Almost all shields and hel­mets of killed and wound­ed pro­test­ers since bul­let holes in them or their absence could iden­ti­fy loca­tions of the shoot­ers
* Many bul­lets extract­ed from bod­ies of the pro­test­ers and the police, trees, soil, a flower box, and the Maid­an build­ings
* Some trees with bul­lets and/or bul­let holes were cut soon after the mas­sacre, and the pros­e­cu­tion admit­ted this three years after­wards
* Record­ings of live online streams and oth­er videos from the time of shoot­ing at the police from the Maid­an-con­trolled build­ings in the ear­ly morn­ing of Feb­ru­ary 20
* Secu­ri­ty cam­eras record­ings from the Hotel Ukraina, the Bank Arka­da, and oth­er Maid­an-con­trolled build­ings at the time when snipers were locat­ed there
* Bul­lets extract­ed from bod­ies of pro­test­ers in Khmel­nyt­skyi
* A leader of a Maid­an orga­ni­za­tion and its mem­bers were revealed and inves­ti­gat­ed by the Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al Office for evac­u­at­ing and hid­ing firearms of the spe­cial Berkut com­pa­ny charged with the mas­sacre of the pro­test­ers on Feb­ru­ary 20

No one was charged with killing and wound­ing the major­i­ty of Maid­an pro­test­ers on Feb­ru­ary 18–19.

* Berkut police­men charged with killing the first 3 pro­test­ers and wound­ing 33 pro­test­ers on Feb­ru­ary 18 were released by the courts and allowed by the law enforce­ment to flee Ukraine
* The same con­cerns a Berkut com­man­der whose com­pa­ny was charged with killing of 48 pro­test­ers on Feb­ru­ary 20
* Foren­sic evi­dence in killings pro­test­ers and the police on Feb­ru­ary 18–19 has not been made pub­lic
* A pro­test­er who killed anoth­er pro­test­er by dri­ving him over in a seized truck and was tried was released under an amnesty law for crimes com­mit­ted by Maid­an pro­test­ers dur­ing the “Euro­maid­an”

Nobody is charged with killing of a Geor­gian pro­test­er on Feb­ru­ary 20 and cir­cum­stances of his killing and its inves­ti­ga­tion are not made pub­lic.

Nobody is charged and tried for killing and wound­ing police­men on Feb­ru­ary 18–20.

* Charges of killing two police­men against one Maid­an sniper who pub­licly admit­ted in the Ukrain­ian media this were dropped and replaced by milder charges by the Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al of Ukraine

The Maid­an mas­sacre tri­al was restart­ed from the begin­ning, has not com­plet­ed tes­ti­monies of rel­a­tives of killed and wound­ed pro­test­ers, and it would not pro­duce a ver­dict before the 2019 pres­i­den­tial elec­tions

Sev­er­al attacks by the neo-Nazi C14 and oth­er far right groups dis­rupt­ed and threat­ened the tri­al.

* C14 took refuge in the Cana­di­an Embassy short­ly before the Maid­an mas­sacre, and one of its ex-lead­ers stat­ed that the C14 knew about the mas­sacre in advance.

No such evi­dence of sys­tem­at­ic cov­er-up by the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment lead­ers and Berkut mem­bers.

* Yanukovych trea­son tri­al revealed var­i­ous evi­dence that he fled Ukraine fol­low­ing sev­er­al assas­si­na­tion attempts by Maid­an forces, includ­ing far right.
* He, his min­is­ters and Inter­nal Troops ex-com­man­der vol­un­teered to tes­ti­fy via video links about the mas­sacre at the tri­als.
* Absolute major­i­ty of Berkut mem­bers, who were charged with the mas­sacre did not flee Ukraine until they were to be charged with the mas­sacre or after they were charged.

Not a sin­gle per­son is con­vict­ed for killing and wound­ing some 100 pro­test­ers and the police on Feb­ru­ary 18–20, 2014.

Con­clu­sion

Maid­an mas­sacre tri­al and inves­ti­ga­tion evi­dence have revealed var­i­ous evi­dence that at least the absolute major­i­ty of 49 killed and 157 wound­ed Maid­an pro­test­ers on Feb­ru­ary 20, 2014 were mas­sa­cred by snipers in Maid­an-con­trolled build­ings.

* Such evi­dence includes tes­ti­monies of the major­i­ty of wound­ed pro­test­ers and many wit­ness­es, foren­sic med­ical and bal­lisitic exam­i­na­tions, and inves­ti­ga­tion own find­ing that about half of Maid­an pro­test­ers were wound­ed from oth­er loca­tions than the Berkut police.

Var­i­ous indi­ca­tions of stonewalling of the Maid­an mas­sacre inves­ti­ga­tions and the tri­als by the Maid­an gov­ern­ment offi­cials and by far right orga­ni­za­tions.

Var­i­ous indi­ca­tions of the cov­er-up of much of the key evi­dence of the mas­sacre.

Such rev­e­la­tions from the Maid­an mas­sacre tri­als and inves­ti­ga­tions cor­rob­o­rate pre­vi­ous stud­ies find­ings that this mas­sacre was a false flag mass killing with involve­ment of ele­ments of Maid­an lead­er­ship and the far right and that it includ­ed the mas­sacre of the police.

The puz­zling mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the Maid­an mas­sacre, its inves­ti­ga­tion, and the tri­al by West­ern media and gov­ern­ments require fur­ther research con­cern­ing rea­sons for such mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

2a. Of sig­nif­i­cance for our pur­pos­es is the cryp­tic state­ment of Chief Mil­i­tary Pro­s­ec­tu­tor Ana­toliy Matios: ” . . . . Ear­li­er, Deputy Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al of Ukraine, Chief Mil­i­tary Pros­e­cu­tor Ana­toliy Matios said: ‘When pub­lic learns who is involved in this, peo­ple will be very sur­prised.’ Accord­ing to him, infor­ma­tion to be pub­lished may cause rejec­tion, ‘but the truth is the truth.” . . . .

“Pros­e­cu­tors say pub­lic to face unpleas­ant sur­prise in Maid­an killings probe”; Unian.info; 07/24/2016

Ukraine’s Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al Yuriy Lut­senko says that the man who helped so-called “black hun­dred” of police task force Berkut, who had been shoot­ing at pro­test­ers dur­ing the Rev­o­lu­tion of Dig­ni­ty, flee Kyiv and delib­er­ate­ly drowned their weapons to con­ceal evi­dence, was him­self one of the par­tic­i­pants of the Maid­an protests.

“With the help of mil­i­tary coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence, we have found weapons of the “black hun­dred,” includ­ing a sniper rifle, which the entire coun­try saw on footage show­ing the shoot­ing at the pro­test­ers from out­side the Octo­ber Palace,” he told the 112 Ukraine TV chan­nel.

“We found it with a large num­ber of auto­mat­ic rifles on the bot­tom of one of Kiev’s lakes. They were cut and drowned in one batch by a sin­gle group, whose leader is one of the tar­gets of our inves­ti­ga­tion. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this man who, accord­ing to our ver­sion, upon the orders of [for­mer Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Vitaliy] Zakharchenko helped the “black hun­dred” flee Kyiv, destroyed and drowned their weapons, he, him­self, was with us on the Maid­an,” Lut­senko said.

As UNIAN report­ed ear­li­er, the Pros­e­cu­tor General’s Office July 14 con­duct­ed search­es at the hous­es of per­sons involved in assist­ing the troops from Berkut police spe­cial forces’ “black hun­dred” in flee­ing Kyiv after the bloody killings of the Maid­an activists and sub­se­quent destruc­tion of their weapons.

Ear­li­er, Deputy Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al of Ukraine, Chief Mil­i­tary Pros­e­cu­tor Ana­toliy Matios said: “When pub­lic learns who is involved in this, peo­ple will be very sur­prised.” Accord­ing to him, infor­ma­tion to be pub­lished may cause rejec­tion, “but the truth is the truth.” . . . .

2b. Ana­toliy Matios, Ukraine’s chief mil­i­tary pros­e­cu­tor, gave an exten­sive inter­view where he said that Jews are behind all wars and want to “drown eth­nic Slavs in blood.”

Also recall the cryp­tic state­ment Matios made back in 2016 about the iden­ti­ty of the peo­ple involved with the 2014 sniper attacks: “When pub­lic learns who is involved in this, peo­ple will be very sur­prised.” In FTR #‘s 982993, 10041023we exam­ined evi­dence that Ukrain­ian fas­cists may well have exe­cut­ed those sniper attacks. It is omi­nous that the chief mil­i­tary pros­e­cu­tor who is involved in that inves­ti­ga­tion is a neo-Nazi.

“Jews Want to Drown Ukraine in Blood, Ukraine’s Mil­i­tary Pros­e­cu­tor Says Amid Wave of Racist and Anti-Semit­ic Attacks” by Cristi­na Maza; Newsweek; 06/27/2018

In an exten­sive inter­view with the Ukrain­ian news out­let Insid­er, Ana­toliy Matios, Ukraine’s chief mil­i­tary pros­e­cu­tor, espoused anti-Semit­ic con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries in which he implied that Jews want to drown eth­nic Slavs in blood.

Refer­ring to Alexan­der Parvus, a Belaruss­ian-born Marx­ist the­o­reti­cian who was active in Germany’s Social Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty in the late 19th cen­tu­ry, and who also hap­pened to be Jew­ish, Matios claimed that Jews can be found financ­ing all great con­flicts.

“In each war, there is always a Parvus, who brought Lenin mon­ey for a rev­o­lu­tion which flood­ed Slavs with blood for decades. Parvus was also Jew­ish. In this case, they want to do the same to Ukraine,” Matios told the Insid­er. . . .

3. Note that the Azov’s num­ber two man–Ihor Mosiychuk–was sen­tenced to prison for a planned bomb­ing in Jan­u­ary 2014. His sup­port­ers demon­strat­ed on his behalf on the Maid­an, help­ing to cre­ate the tur­moil that led to Yanukovich’s over­throw.

” . . . [On] Jan­u­ary 10, 2014, Mosiy­chuk and two oth­er fas­cists had been found guilty and sen­tenced to sev­er­al years in prison for a planned August 2011 bomb­ing attack. On the evening of Jan­u­ary 10, ultra-right-wingers staged demon­stra­tions protest­ing the sen­tence. The demon­stra­tions degen­er­at­ed into vio­lent con­fronta­tions with the police. These con­fronta­tions, in turn, were then used by Berlin, Brus­sels and Wash­ing­ton to accuse Yanukovych of exces­sive use of force on the ‘move­ment fight­ing for democ­ra­cy.’ . . .”  

“Ukrain­ian Patri­ots”; german-foreign-policy.com; 7/30/2014.

. . . .He [Oleh Lyashko] is also co-founder and sup­port­er of the Azov Bat­tal­ion, a mili­tia of over one hun­dred — main­ly fas­cist — com­bat­ants, includ­ing a Swedish Neo-Nazi sniper. He has report­ed that oth­er snipers had already been in action for the oppo­si­tion dur­ing the Maid­an protests.It has nev­er been revealed, who fired the fatal shots on Feb­ru­ary 20. In this high­ly charged atmos­phere, the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment is tak­ing steps that indi­cate a polit­i­cal cul­tur­al devel­op­ment even fur­ther to the right. It is plan­ning to cen­sure films and books from Rus­sia or to restrict their sales. . . .

. . . .  The Swedish neo-Nazi Mikael Skillt is a mem­ber of the Azov Bat­tal­ion. Skillt, a mem­ber of the fas­cist Sven­skar­nas Par­ti (Par­ty of the Swedes), says that he has “at least” three pur­pos­es in the unit: com­man­der of “a small recon­nais­sance unit,” a “sniper” and some­times he works “as a spe­cial coor­di­na­tor for clear­ing hous­es and going into civil­ian areas.” The per­son, who is rumored to have been cap­tured by East Ukrain­ian insur­gents, had been a sniper for six years in the Swedish mil­i­tary. He says, he has only been engaged in the Ukrain­ian con­flict since March. He admits, how­ev­er, to hav­ing spo­ken to at least two snipers, who, dur­ing the Maid­an protests had shot at police from the Trade Union House in Kiev — at the time, the head­quar­ters of the pro­tes­tors. “Their mis­sion was to take out Berkut’s snipers,” explained Skillt.[7] The dead­ly shots from the Maid­an, which in West­ern pro­pa­gan­da had been used to legit­imize the over­throw of Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, have nev­er been inves­ti­gat­ed by the putsch regime, and Berlin has nev­er applied pres­sure for an inves­ti­ga­tion.

Polit­i­cal Pris­on­ers

The Azov Bat­tal­ion has close ties to Oleh Lyashko, whose “Rad­i­cal Par­ty,” would cur­rent­ly be able to poll a fourth of the votes if elec­tions were held. Lyashko is con­sid­ered to be one of the Azov’s founders. For inter­net videos, he allows him­self to be filmed at joint actions with Asov com­bat­ants. The Azov Bat­tal­ion’s sec­ond in com­mand, Ihor Mosiy­chuk, had been elect­ed to Kiev’s Munic­i­pal Coun­cil on the elec­toral list of Lyashko’s Rad­i­cal Par­ty. This was not the first time Lyashko had inter­vened on his behalf. Jan­u­ary 10, 2014, Mosiy­chuk and two oth­er fas­cists had been found guilty and sen­tenced to sev­er­al years in prison for a planned August 2011 bomb­ing attack. On the evening of Jan­u­ary 10, ultra-right-wingers staged demon­stra­tions protest­ing the sen­tence. The demon­stra­tions degen­er­at­ed into vio­lent con­fronta­tions with the police. These con­fronta­tions, in turn, were then used by Berlin, Brus­sels and Wash­ing­ton to accuse Yanukovych of exces­sive use of force on the “move­ment fight­ing for democ­ra­cy.” The protests were unsuc­cess­ful. How­ev­er, imme­di­ate­ly after the Kiev coup, Mosiy­chuk and his accom­plices prof­it­ed from the amnesty, the pro-west­ern Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment grant­ed on Feb­ru­ary 24, 2014 to “polit­i­cal pris­on­ers”. Due to Lyashko’s deci­sive engage­ment, Mosiy­chuk prof­it­ed from the amnesty, was lib­er­at­ed from prison and could par­tic­i­pate in the orga­ni­za­tion the Azov Bat­tal­ion. . . .

. . . . . [1] Jakov Dev­cic: Jazen­juks Rück­trittsver­such. www.kas.de 29.07.2014.
[2] Ukraine will rus­sis­che Kul­tur zurück­drän­gen. www.n‑tv.de 29.07.2014.
[3] S. dazu Ter­min beim Botschafter.
[4] Dina New­man: Ukraine con­flict: “White pow­er” war­rior from Swe­den. www.bbc.co.uk 16.07.2014.
[5] Daniel McLaugh­lin: For­eign­ers join far-right mili­tias in Ukraine’s fight against rebels. www.irishtimes.com 17.07.2014.
[6] Hal Fos­ter: A spe­cial-forces unit, start­ed from scratch, wins a key bat­tle in Ukraine. en.tengrinews.kz 21.06.2014.

[7] Swede Patrols Ukraine’s Streets with Right-wing Para­mil­i­taries. www.friatider.se 26.03.2014.

4. Against the back­ground of the Maid­an snip­ing as a prob­a­ble false flag provo­ca­tion, the impend­ing Syr­i­an offen­sive to re-cap­ture the last ter­ri­to­r­i­al enclave of the Islamists in Syr­ia should be viewed with appre­hen­sion. As not­ed in the arti­cle below, the so-called “rebels” are Al-Qae­da off­shoots. Omi­nous­ly, they have appar­ent­ly suc­cess­ful­ly exe­cut­ed false-flag chem­i­cal weapons attacks before, includ­ing in Idlib province.

Rus­sia has warned that such a provo­ca­tion is in the wings–an unre­mark­able deduc­tion in light of past his­to­ry. In turn, the West has warned of retal­ia­to­ry action if such actions are under­tak­en.

The stage appears set for an Islamist/Al-Qae­da chem­i­cal weapons false flag/provocation, upon which U.S., British and French mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion will be pred­i­cat­ed.

In this con­text, one should not lose sight of the fact that Chech­nyan Islamist vet­er­ans of the Syr­i­an war have already made their appear­ance in the com­bat in East­ern Ukraine, part­ner­ing with Pravy Sek­tor in their deploy­ments. (The Chechen/Right Sector/Islamist link is dis­cussed in FTR #‘s 857, 862, 863, 872, 878, 893, 911.)

“Rebels;” Ger­man For­eign Pol­i­cy; 9/03/2018.

Berlin and the EU are inten­si­fy­ing pres­sure on Dam­as­cus in view of the Syr­i­an troops’ pre­sumed immi­nent offen­sive in Idlib against the jiha­di mili­tias, includ­ing al-Qaeda’s Syr­i­an off­shoot. Accord­ing to a Ger­man gov­ern­ment spokesper­son, it is “antic­i­pat­ed” that the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment will “restrain the Syr­i­an regime’s esca­la­tion.” Wash­ing­ton is threat­en­ing with an unspec­i­fied inter­ven­tion, should chem­i­cals weapons be used. Syr­i­an jihadists have used chem­i­cal weapons in the past, and would be in a posi­tion to pro­voke this US inter­ven­tion. Since last sum­mer, the Syr­i­an al-Qae­da off­shoot Hay­at Tahrir al-Sham is in con­trol of Idlib Province, with some 30,000 com­bat­ants. Addi­tion­al small­er, most­ly salafist jiha­di mili­tias are also ready to bat­tle the Syr­i­an army. By refer­ring to them as “rebels,” politi­cians and media are down­play­ing the jihadists — includ­ing al-Qae­da — as the 17th Anniver­sary of the 9/11 attacks approach­es.

The Jiha­di Emi­rate Idlib

Already in the sum­mer of 2017, the Syr­i­an off­shoot of al-Qae­da, Hay­at Tahrir al-Sham (for­mer­ly al-Nus­ra) had pre­vailed over rival insur­gent mili­tias in fierce bat­tles in Idlib Province. Hay­at Tahrir al-Sham was tol­er­at­ing some oth­er armed cliques — as long as they were essen­tial­ly sub­mit­ting to its rule. “But there is no longer any ques­tion, who is ulti­mate­ly in charge” in Idlib Province, the Syr­i­an expert Aron Lund wrote in August 2017, call­ing Idlib a de fac­to “jiha­di emirate.”[1] At the time experts on the region assessed that the west­ern pow­ers could have no inter­est in defend­ing the al-Qae­da regime. Al-Qae­da is tem­porar­i­ly refrain­ing from large-scale ter­ror­ism in the West, because it pri­or­i­tizes the sta­bi­liza­tion of its struc­tures, the US Amer­i­can Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions wrote in March. The ter­ror attack against the French satir­i­cal mag­a­zine Char­lie Heb­do and the St. Peters­burg Metro bomb­ing — both being ascribed to al-Qae­da — prove that the orga­ni­za­tion has not giv­en up its old strategy.[2] The Syr­i­an expert Sam Heller, who, today, is work­ing for the Inter­na­tion­al Cri­sis Group, spec­u­lat­ed in Mai 2017 that “some­one” will most like­ly put an end to those activ­i­ties in Idlib soon. It could be either the West or the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment with sup­port from Moscow because for both “a big jihadist safe haven is intolerable.”[3]

Under al-Qae­da Con­trol

Slight­ly more than a year lat­er, it is unclear whether this assess­ment still holds true. The sit­u­a­tion in Idlib has not fun­da­men­tal­ly changed, in spite of some shifts in pow­er while the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment is prepar­ing to recap­ture the province, with Russ­ian sup­port. The al-Qae­da off­shoot Hay­at Tahrir al-Sham suf­fered minor set­backs for two rea­sons. On the one hand, small frac­tions have split off because of inter­nal dis­sention. After invad­ing parts of Idlib, Ankara, on the oth­er hand, has begun to strength­en mili­tias, which had been mar­gin­al­ized by Hay­at Tahrir al-Sham and merge them into a new alliance. Its mem­bers are, to a large part — such as Ahrar al-Sham or Jaysh al Ahrar — salafist jiha­di ori­ent­ed like the Hay­at Tahrir al-Sham’s split-offs. Mili­tias who are ori­ent­ed oth­er­wise — such as those close to the Mus­lim Broth­ers — are in the minority.[4] Experts report that the al-Qae­da off­shoot now con­trols near­ly 60 per­cent of Idlib province and con­sists of about 30,000 fight­ers, accord­ing to the Lon­don based Syr­i­an Obser­va­to­ry for Human Rights , which west­ern media and gov­ern­ment agen­cies often quote as their source of infor­ma­tion on Syria.[5] Thus, al-Qae­da has about one per­cent of Idlib’s cur­rent pop­u­la­tion under arms — short­ly before the 17th anniver­sary of the attacks on Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001.

“Very Wor­ried”

And yet, cur­rent­ly west­ern politi­cians and media are against Syr­ia and Rus­sia much more than al-Qae­da. Thus, al-Qae­da-pre­dom­i­nat­ed jiha­di mili­tias in Idlib are reg­u­lar­ly euphem­ized as “rebels,” and the province, itself, as a “rebel strong­hold.” If one goes along with this ter­mi­nol­o­gy — which comes quite close to the way the jihadis see them­selves — then al-Qae­da leader Ayman al Zawahiri and his pre­de­ces­sor Osama bin Laden must be “rebel lead­ers,” and the ter­ror­ists of Paris and St. Peters­burg would have been act­ing in the name of a “rebel orga­ni­za­tion.” Oth­er­wise, this pat­tern of argu­men­ta­tion resem­bles that dur­ing the com­bat waged by the Syr­i­an army against Salafist and jihadis for East Allep­po, for East Ghou­ta and more recent­ly for Daraa. Warn­ings of mas­sacres at the hands of Syr­i­an troops and the sup­port­ing Russ­ian mil­i­tary are already being prop­a­gat­ed in advance. Accord­ing to a Ger­man gov­ern­ment spokesper­son, who expressed that the gov­ern­ment is “very wor­ried about the esca­la­tion of the sit­u­a­tion in north­west Syr­ia” and “antic­i­pates” that Moscow “will restrain the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment from an esca­la­tion there­by avert­ing a human­i­tar­i­an catastrophe.”[6] “We must pre­vent mil­i­tary engage­ments in Idlib that could lead to a human­i­tar­i­an cat­a­stro­phe,” announced Fed­er­i­ca Mogheri­ni, EU High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for For­eign Affairs and Secu­ri­ty.

“Worse than Auschwitz”

Fur­ther esca­la­tion of this argu­men­ta­tion is eas­i­ly pos­si­ble. For exam­ple, in Ger­man media, it was claimed dur­ing the bat­tle over East Alep­po that the Syr­i­an mil­i­tary was com­mit­ting “geno­cide” in the city. What was hap­pen­ing there was “worse than Auschwitz.” (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[7]) On the oth­er hand, Ger­man politi­cians and media, have had no crit­i­cism of the bloody bat­tles waged for Fal­lu­ja, Mossul, and Raqqa, which had been car­ried out by west­ern mil­i­tary forces. Aside from regrets at the loss of civil­ian lives, these bat­tles are still today being cel­e­brat­ed as hero­ic vic­to­ries over jihadis. But in fact, the bat­tles waged by the West have dif­fered lit­tle from those waged by Syr­ia and Rus­sia, in terms of the num­ber of deaths and the extent of destruc­tion. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[8]) A team of the UN High Com­mis­sion for Refugees (UNHCR) even declared in the spring, that the extent of destruc­tion in Raqqa had “exceed­ed any­thing” they had “ever seen before.”[9] Raqqa had not been dev­as­tat­ed by Syr­i­ans and Rus­sians in the course of the war against the IS but rather by west­ern air strikes using recon­nais­sance data pro­vid­ed by the Bun­deswehr in col­lab­o­ra­tion with pro-west­ern troops on the ground.

Ready for Inter­ven­tion

Whether this will sim­ply remain a case of neg­a­tive cov­er­age of the upcom­ing bat­tle for Idlib or whether indi­vid­ual west­ern pow­ers will inter­vene, remains uncer­tain. A few days ago, the USA, Great Britain and France pub­lished a state­ment, where­in they expressed their “seri­ous con­cern over reports,” accord­ing to which, “the Syr­i­an regime is prepar­ing a mil­i­tary offen­sive against civil­ians and the civil­ian infra­struc­ture in Idlib.” They are also “wor­ried” that the Syr­i­an mil­i­tary forces will prob­a­bly use chem­i­cal weapons. If this hap­pens, the three coun­tries are “deter­mined to take action.”[10] Sub­se­quent­ly, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advi­sor, John Bolton affirmed that the USA would react “very strong­ly” should there be a chem­i­cal weapons attack.[11] In fact, the west­ern pow­ers are giv­ing jiha­di mili­tias in Idlib an option: should they not be able to van­quish the Syr­i­an mil­i­tary, they can feign a chem­i­cal weapons attack and the West will inter­vene on their side. That Syr­i­an jihadis have already used chem­i­cal weapons and, there­fore, know how to do it, is well known. A west­ern attack against Syr­i­an forces in or around Idlib would, in the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, help the Syr­i­an off­shoot of al-Qae­da.

[1] Aron Lund: New order on the bor­der: Can for­eign aid get past Syr­i­a’s jihadis? irinnews.org 15.08.2018.

[2] Bruce Hoff­man: Al Qaeda’s Res­ur­rec­tion. cfr.org 06.03.2018.

[3] twitter.com/AbuJamajem/status/864575114511253504

[4] Bruce Hoff­man: Al Qaeda’s Res­ur­rec­tion. cfr.org 06.03.2018.

[5] Hay­at Tahrir al-Sham: Syr­ia Regime’s Tough­est Foe in Idlib. military.com 01.09.2018.

[6] EU warnt vor Katas­tro­phe in Idlib. handelsblatt.com 31.08.2018.

[7] See also Die Schlacht um Mossul (IV).

[8] See also Dou­ble Stan­dards and Die präzisen Luftan­griffe des West­ens.

[9] Zitiert nach: Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al: “War of Anni­hi­la­tion”. Dev­as­tat­ing Toll on Civil­ians, Raqqa — Syr­ia. Lon­don 2018.

[10] US, UK, France state­ment on the chem­i­cal weapons attack in Syr­ia. reliefweb.int 21.08.2018.

[11] Som­mer Brokaw: Bolton: U.S. will act ‘strong­ly’ if Syr­ia uses chem­i­cal weapons again. upi.com 22.08.2018.

5. The last part of the pro­gram con­sists of a par­tial read­ing of an arti­cle by CFR mem­ber Bruce Hoff­man. Not­ing Al Qaeda’s resur­gence and Al Qaeda’s empha­sis on the Syr­i­an con­flict, Hoff­man cites the so-called “Arab Spring” as the key event in Al Qaeda’s resur­gence. ” . . . . The thou­sands of hard­ened al-Qae­da fight­ers freed from Egypt­ian pris­ons in 2012–2013 by Pres­i­dent Mohammed Mor­si gal­va­nized the move­ment at a crit­i­cal moment, when insta­bil­i­ty reigned and a hand­ful of men well-versed in ter­ror­ism and sub­ver­sion could plunge a coun­try or a region into chaos. Whether in Libya, Turkey, Syr­ia, or Yemen, their arrival was prov­i­den­tial in terms of advanc­ing al-Qaeda’s inter­ests or increas­ing its influ­ence. . . . It was Syr­ia where al-Qaeda’s inter­ven­tion proved most con­se­quen­tial. One of Zawahiri’s first offi­cial acts after suc­ceed­ing bin Laden as emir was to order a Syr­i­an vet­er­an of the Iraqi insur­gency named Abu Moham­mad al-Julani to return home and estab­lish the al-Qae­da fran­chise that would even­tu­al­ly become Jab­hat al-Nus­ra. . . .”

In FTR #‘s 733 through 739, we pre­sent­ed our view that the so-called Arab Spring was a U.S. intel­li­gence oper­a­tion, aimed at plac­ing the Broth­er­hood in pow­er in Mus­lim coun­tries dom­i­nat­ed either by a sec­u­lar dic­ta­tor or absolute monar­chy.

It is our view that the Broth­er­hood was seen as use­ful because of its mil­i­tary off­shoots (Al-Qae­da in par­tic­u­lar) were use­ful proxy war­riors in places like the Cau­ca­sus and the Balka­ns and because the Broth­er­hood’s cor­po­ratist, neo-lib­er­al eco­nom­ic doc­trine was in keep­ing with the desires and goals of the trans-nation­al cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ty.

In FTR #787, we solid­i­fied our analy­sis with defin­i­tive con­fir­ma­tion of our work­ing hypoth­e­sis pre­sent­ed years ear­li­er.

“Al Qaeda’s Res­ur­rec­tion” by Bruce Hoff­man; Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions; 3/6/2018.

While the self-pro­claimed Islam­ic State has dom­i­nat­ed the head­lines and pre­oc­cu­pied nation­al secu­ri­ty offi­cials for the past four years, al-Qae­da has been qui­et­ly rebuild­ing. Its announce­ment last sum­mer of anoth­er affiliate—this one ded­i­cat­ed to the lib­er­a­tion of Kashmir—coupled with the res­ur­rec­tion of its pres­ence in Afghanistan and the solid­i­fi­ca­tion of its influ­ence in Syr­ia, Yemen, and Soma­lia, under­scores the resilien­cy and con­tin­ued vital­i­ty of the Unit­ed States’ pre­em­i­nent ter­ror­ist ene­my.

Although al-Qaeda’s rebuild­ing and reor­ga­ni­za­tion pre­dates the 2011 Arab Spring, the upheaval that fol­lowed helped the move­ment revive itself. At the time, an unbri­dled opti­mism among local and region­al rights activists and West­ern gov­ern­ments held that a com­bi­na­tion of pop­u­lar protest, civ­il dis­obe­di­ence, and social media had ren­dered ter­ror­ism an irrel­e­vant anachro­nism. The long­ing for democ­ra­cy and eco­nom­ic reform, it was argued, had deci­sive­ly trumped repres­sion and vio­lence. How­ev­er, where the opti­mists saw irre­versible pos­i­tive change, al-Qae­da dis­cerned new and invit­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties.

The suc­ces­sive killings in 2011 and 2012 of Osama bin Laden; Anwar al-Awla­ki, the movement’s chief pro­pa­gan­dist; and Abu Yahya al-Libi, its sec­ond-in-com­mand, lent new weight to the opti­mists’ pre­dic­tions that al-Qae­da was a spent force. In ret­ro­spect, how­ev­er, it appears that al-Qae­da was among the region­al forces that ben­e­fit­ed most from the Arab Spring’s tumult. Sev­en years lat­er, Ayman al-Zawahiri has emerged as a pow­er­ful leader, with a strate­gic vision that he has sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly imple­ment­ed. Forces loy­al to al-Qae­da and its affil­i­ates now num­ber in the tens of thou­sands, with a capac­i­ty to dis­rupt local and region­al sta­bil­i­ty, as well as launch attacks against their declared ene­mies in the Mid­dle East, Africa, South Asia, South­east Asia, Europe, and Rus­sia. Indeed, from north­west­ern Africa to South Asia, al-Qae­da has knit togeth­er a glob­al move­ment of more than two dozen fran­chis­es.* In Syr­ia alone, al-Qae­da now has upwards of twen­ty thou­sand men under arms, and it has per­haps anoth­er four thou­sand in Yemen and about sev­en thou­sand in Soma­lia.

The Arab Spring’s Big Win­ner

The thou­sands of hard­ened al-Qae­da fight­ers freed from Egypt­ian pris­ons in 2012–2013 by Pres­i­dent Mohammed Mor­si gal­va­nized the move­ment at a crit­i­cal moment, when insta­bil­i­ty reigned and a hand­ful of men well-versed in ter­ror­ism and sub­ver­sion could plunge a coun­try or a region into chaos. Whether in Libya, Turkey, Syr­ia, or Yemen, their arrival was prov­i­den­tial in terms of advanc­ing al-Qaeda’s inter­ests or increas­ing its influ­ence. The mil­i­tary coup that sub­se­quent­ly top­pled Mor­si val­i­dat­ed Zawahiri’s repeat­ed warn­ings not to believe West­ern promis­es about either the fruits of democ­ra­cy or the sanc­ti­ty of free and fair elec­tions.

It was Syr­ia where al-Qaeda’s inter­ven­tion proved most con­se­quen­tial. One of Zawahiri’s first offi­cial acts after suc­ceed­ing bin Laden as emir was to order a Syr­i­an vet­er­an of the Iraqi insur­gency named Abu Moham­mad al-Julani to return home and estab­lish the al-Qae­da fran­chise that would even­tu­al­ly become Jab­hat al-Nus­ra.

Al-Qaeda’s bla­tant­ly sec­tar­i­an mes­sag­ing over social media fur­ther sharp­ened the his­tor­i­cal fric­tions between Sun­nis and Shias and gave the move­ment the entrée into inter­nal Syr­i­an pol­i­tics that it need­ed to solid­i­fy its pres­ence in that coun­try. Al-Qaeda’s cho­sen instru­ment was Jab­hat al-Nus­ra, the prod­uct of a joint ini­tia­tive with al-Qaeda’s Iraqi branch, which had rebrand­ed itself as the Islam­ic State of Iraq (ISI). But as Nus­ra grew in both strength and impact, a dis­pute erupt­ed between ISI and al-Qae­da over con­trol of the group. In a bold pow­er grab, ISI’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Bagh­da­di, announced the forcible amal­ga­ma­tion of al-Nus­ra with ISI in a new orga­ni­za­tion to be called the Islam­ic State of Iraq and Syr­ia (ISIS). Julani refused to accede to the uni­lat­er­al merg­er and appealed to Zawahiri. The quar­rel inten­si­fied, and after Zawahiri’s attempts to medi­ate it col­lapsed, he expelled ISIS from the al-Qae­da net­work.

Although ISIS—which has since rebrand­ed itself the Islam­ic State—has com­mand­ed the world’s atten­tion since then, al-Qae­da has been qui­et­ly rebuild­ing and for­ti­fy­ing its var­i­ous branch­es. Al-Qae­da has sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly imple­ment­ed an ambi­tious strat­e­gy designed to pro­tect its remain­ing senior lead­er­ship and dis­creet­ly con­sol­i­date its influ­ence wher­ev­er the move­ment has a sig­nif­i­cant pres­ence. Accord­ing­ly, its lead­ers have been dis­persed to Syr­ia, Iran, Turkey, Libya, and Yemen, with only a hard-core rem­nant of top com­man­ders still in Afghanistan and Pak­istan. Advances in com­mer­cial dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tion tools, along­side suc­ces­sive pub­lic rev­e­la­tions of U.S. and allied intel­li­gence ser­vices’ eaves­drop­ping capa­bil­i­ties, have enabled al-Qaeda’s lead­ers and com­man­ders to main­tain con­tact via secure end-to-end encryp­tion tech­nol­o­gy.

The Importance of Syria

The num­ber of top al-Qae­da lead­ers sent to Syr­ia over the past half-dozen years under­scores the high pri­or­i­ty that the move­ment attach­es to that coun­try. Among them was Muhsin al-Fadhli, a bin Laden inti­mate who, until his death in a 2015 U.S. air strike, com­mand­ed the movement’s elite for­ward-based oper­a­tional arm in that coun­try, known as the Kho­rasan Group. He also func­tioned as Zawahiri’s local emis­sary, charged with attempt­ing to heal the rift between al-Qae­da and ISIS. Hay­dar Kirkan, a Turk­ish nation­al and long-stand­ing senior oper­a­tive, was sent by bin Laden him­self to Turkey in 2010 to lay the ground­work for the movement’s expan­sion into the Lev­ant, before the Arab Spring cre­at­ed pre­cise­ly that oppor­tu­ni­ty. Kirkan was also respon­si­ble for facil­i­tat­ing the move­ment of oth­er senior al-Qae­da per­son­nel from Pak­istan to Syr­ia to escape the esca­lat­ing drone strike cam­paign ordered by Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma. He was killed in 2016 in a U.S. bomb­ing raid.

The pre­vi­ous fall marked the arrival of Saif al-Adl, who is arguably the move­men­t’s most bat­tle-hard­ened com­man­der. Adl is a for­mer Egypt­ian Army com­man­do whose ter­ror­ist pedi­gree, dat­ing to the late 1970s, includes assas­si­na­tion plots against Egypt­ian Pres­i­dent Anwar al-Sadat, the 1998 bomb­ings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tan­za­nia, and al-Qaeda’s post‑9/11 ter­ror­ist cam­paigns in Sau­di Ara­bia and South Asia. He also served as men­tor to bin Laden’s pre­sump­tive heir, his son Hamza, after both Adl and the boy sought sanc­tu­ary in Iran fol­low­ing the com­mence­ment of U.S. and coali­tion mil­i­tary oper­a­tions in Afghanistan  in late 2001. The younger bin Laden’s own report­ed appear­ance in Syr­ia this past sum­mer pro­vides fresh evi­dence of the movement’s fix­a­tion with a coun­try that has become the most pop­u­lar venue to wage holy war since the sem­i­nal Afghan jihad of the 1980s.

Indeed, al-Qaeda’s pres­ence in Syr­ia is far more per­ni­cious than that of ISIS. Hay­at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the lat­est name adopt­ed by al-Qaeda’s local affil­i­ate, is now the largest rebel group in the coun­try, hav­ing extend­ed its con­trol last year over all of Idlib Province, along the Syr­i­an-Turk­ish bor­der. This is the cul­mi­na­tion of a process al-Qae­da began more than three years ago to anni­hi­late the Free Syr­i­an Army and any oth­er group that chal­lenges al-Qaeda’s region­al aspi­ra­tions.

Filling the ISIS Vacuum

ISIS can no longer com­pete with al-Qae­da in terms of influ­ence, reach, man­pow­er, or cohe­sion. In only two domains is ISIS cur­rent­ly stronger than its rival: the pow­er of its brand and its pre­sumed abil­i­ty to mount spec­tac­u­lar ter­ror­ist strikes in Europe. But the lat­ter is a prod­uct of Zawahiri’s strate­gic deci­sion to pro­hib­it exter­nal oper­a­tions in the West so that al-Qaeda’s rebuild­ing can con­tin­ue with­out inter­fer­ence. The hand­ful of excep­tions to this policy—such as the 2015 Char­lie Heb­do attacks in Paris and the 2017 St. Peters­burg Metro bomb­ing in Russia—provide com­pelling evi­dence that al-Qaeda’s exter­nal oper­a­tions capa­bil­i­ties can eas­i­ly be rean­i­mat­ed. Yemen-based al-Qae­da in the Ara­bi­an Peninsula’s capac­i­ty to com­mit acts of inter­na­tion­al terrorism—especially the tar­get­ing of com­mer­cial aviation—was recent­ly the sub­ject of a reveal­ing New York Times sto­ry.

Al-Qaeda’s suc­cess in res­ur­rect­ing its glob­al net­work is the result of three strate­gic moves made by Zawahiri. The first was to strength­en the decen­tral­ized fran­chise approach that has facil­i­tat­ed the movement’s sur­vival. Over the years, the lead­ers and deputies of al-Qaeda’s far-flung fran­chis­es have been inte­grat­ed into the movement’s delib­er­a­tive and con­sul­ta­tive process­es. Today, al-Qae­da is tru­ly “glo­cal,” hav­ing effec­tive­ly incor­po­rat­ed local griev­ances and con­cerns into a glob­al nar­ra­tive that forms the foun­da­tion of an all-encom­pass­ing grand strat­e­gy.

The sec­ond major move was the order issued by Zawahiri in 2013 to avoid mass casu­al­ty oper­a­tions, espe­cial­ly those that might kill Mus­lim civil­ians. Al-Qae­da has thus been able to present itself through social media, para­dox­i­cal­ly, as “mod­er­ate extrem­ists,” osten­si­bly more palat­able than ISIS.

This devel­op­ment reflects Zawahiri’s third strate­gic deci­sion, let­ting ISIS absorb all the blows from the coali­tion arrayed against it while al-Qae­da unob­tru­sive­ly rebuilds its mil­i­tary strength. Any­one inclined to be tak­en in by this ruse would do well to heed the admo­ni­tion of Theo Pad­nos (née Peter Theo Cur­tis), the Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist who spent two years in Syr­ia as a Nus­ra hostage. Pad­nos relat­ed in 2014 how the group’s senior com­man­ders “were invit­ing West­ern­ers to the jihad in Syr­ia not so much because they need­ed more foot soldiers—they didn’t—but because they want to teach the West­ern­ers to take the strug­gle into every neigh­bor­hood and sub­way sta­tion back home.”

A par­al­lel thus exists between the U.S. direc­tor of nation­al intelligence’s depic­tion of the al-Qae­da threat today [PDF] as main­ly lim­it­ed to its affil­i­ates and the so-called Phoney War in west­ern Europe between Sep­tem­ber 1939 and May 1940, when there was a strange lull in seri­ous fight­ing fol­low­ing the Ger­man inva­sion of Poland and the British and French dec­la­ra­tions of war against Ger­many. Prime Min­is­ter Neville Cham­ber­lain vis­it­ed British forces arrayed along the Fran­co-Bel­gian bor­der that Christ­mas. “I don’t think the Ger­mans have any inten­tion of attack­ing us, do you?” he asked Lieu­tenant Gen­er­al Bernard Law Mont­gomery, the com­man­der of an infantry divi­sion defend­ing the front. The Ger­mans would attack when it suit­ed them, Mont­gomery brusque­ly replied. It is a point worth keep­ing in mind as al-Qae­da busi­ly rebuilds and mar­shals its forces to con­tin­ue the war against the Unit­ed States it declared twen­ty-two years ago.

6. About the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood’s eco­nom­ic doc­trine:

“Islam in Office” by Stephen Glain; Newsweek; 7/3–10/2006.

Judeo-Chris­t­ian scrip­ture offers lit­tle eco­nomic instruc­tion. The Book of Deuteron­omy, for exam­ple, is loaded with edicts on how the faith­ful should pray, eat, bequeath, keep the holy fes­ti­vals and treat slaves and spous­es, but it is silent on trade and com­merce. In Matthew, when Christ admon­ishes his fol­low­ers to ‘give to the emper­or the things that are the emperor’s,’ he is effec­tively con­ced­ing fis­cal and mon­e­tary author­ity to pagan Rome. Islam is dif­fer­ent. The prophet Muhammad—himself a trader—preached mer­chant hon­or, the only reg­u­la­tion that the bor­der­less Lev­an­tine mar­ket knew. . . .

. . . In Mus­lim litur­gy, the deals cut in the souk become a metaphor for the con­tract between God and the faith­ful. And the busi­ness mod­el Muham­mad pre­scribed, accord­ing to Mus­lim schol­ars and econ­o­mists, is very much in the lais­sez-faire tra­di­tion lat­er embraced by the West. Prices were to be set by God alone—anticipating by more than a mil­len­nium Adam Smith’s ref­er­ence to the ‘invis­i­ble hand’ of mar­ket-based pric­ing. Mer­chants were not to cut deals out­side the souk, an ear­ly attempt to thwart insid­er trad­ing. . . . In the days of the caliphate, Islam devel­oped the most sophis­ti­cated mon­e­tary sys­tem the world had yet known. Today, some econ­o­mists cite Islam­ic bank­ing as fur­ther evi­dence of an intrin­sic Islam­ic prag­ma­tism. Though still guid­ed by a Qur’anic ban on riba, or inter­est, Islam­ic bank­ing has adapt­ed to the needs of a boom­ing oil region for liq­uid­ity. In recent years, some 500 Islam­ic banks and invest­ment firms hold­ing $2 tril­lion in assets have emerged in the Gulf States, with more in Islam­ic com­mu­ni­ties of the West.

British Chan­cel­lor of the Exche­quer Gor­don Brown wants to make Lon­don a glob­al cen­ter for Islam­ic finance—and elic­its no howl of protest from fun­da­men­tal­ists. How Islamists might run a cen­tral bank is more prob­lem­atic: schol­ars say they would manip­u­late cur­rency reserves, not inter­est rates.

The Mus­lim Broth­er­hood hails 14th cen­tury philoso­pher Ibn Khal­dun as its eco­nomic guide. Antic­i­pat­ing sup­ply-side eco­nom­ics, Khal­dun argued that cut­ting tax­es rais­es pro­duc­tion and tax rev­enues, and that state con­trol should be lim­ited to pro­vid­ing water, fire and free graz­ing land, the util­i­ties of the ancient world. The World Bank has called Ibn Khal­dun the first advo­cate of pri­va­ti­za­tion. [Empha­sis added.] His found­ing influ­ence is a sign of mod­er­a­tion. If Islamists in pow­er ever do clash with the West, it won’t be over com­merce. . . .

7. Stephen Glain’s cita­tion of Ibn Khal­dun res­onates with Ronald Rea­gan’s pre­sen­ta­tion of “sup­ply-side eco­nom­ics.” ” . . . . Respond­ing to a ques­tion about the effects of tax and spend­ing cuts that began tak­ing effect yes­ter­day, Mr. Rea­gan said the sup­ply-side prin­ci­ple dat­ed at least as far back as Ibn Khal­dun, who is gen­er­al­ly regard­ed as the great­est Arab his­to­ri­an to emerge from the high­ly devel­oped Ara­bic cul­ture of the Mid­dle Ages. . . .”

“Rea­gan Cites Islam­ic Schol­ar” by Robert D. McFad­den; The New York Times; 10/02/1981

Pres­i­dent Rea­gan, in his news con­fer­ence yes­ter­day, cit­ed a 14thcentury Islam­ic schol­ar as an ear­ly expo­nent of the ”sup­ply-side” eco­nom­ic the­o­ry on which his Admin­is­tra­tion bases many of its poli­cies. An author­i­ty on the schol­ar lat­er said that the ref­er­ence seemed accu­rate.

Sup­ply-side the­o­ry, among oth­er things, holds that a cut in tax rates will stim­u­late the econ­o­my and thus gen­er­ate even greater tax rev­enues.

Respond­ing to a ques­tion about the effects of tax and spend­ing cuts that began tak­ing effect yes­ter­day, Mr. Rea­gan said the sup­ply-side prin­ci­ple dat­ed at least as far back as Ibn Khal­dun, who is gen­er­al­ly regard­ed as the great­est Arab his­to­ri­an to emerge from the high­ly devel­oped Ara­bic cul­ture of the Mid­dle Ages. . . .

Discussion

11 comments for “FTR #1024 Ukrainian Fascism, Maidan Snipers and Implications for the Syrian War, Part 2”

  1. Here’s some­thing to keep in mind regard­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of staged chem­i­cal weapons attack by the rebels in Idlib and a much deep­er US involve­ment in Syr­ia: Accord­ing to the fol­low­ing Politi­co report, Pres­i­dent Trump has soured on Sec­re­tary of Defense James Mat­tis over the last few months and is look­ing to replace him after the mid-terms. Why? Because Trump has con­clud­ed that Mat­tis’s polit­i­cal views are too mod­er­ate. He’s even appar­ent­ly start­ed call­ing him “Mod­er­ate Mat­tis”, a play of Mat­tis’s “Mad Dog Mat­tis” nick­name. So as insane as this sounds, Mad Dog Mat­tis isn’t mad enough for Trump and he’s look­ing for a Mad­der Dog to replace him soon:

    Politi­co

    GOP sen­a­tors: No Ses­sions replace­ment could get con­firmed

    The pos­si­ble axing of Jeff Ses­sions is giv­ing Repub­li­can sen­a­tors a migraine.

    By BURGESS EVERETT and ELIANA JOHNSON

    09/12/2018 07:11 PM EDT

    Sen­ate Repub­li­cans are in a jam when it comes to Jeff Ses­sions.

    While resigned to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump fir­ing the attor­ney gen­er­al after the midterm elec­tions, they sus­pect that per­haps only a sit­ting sen­a­tor could win con­fir­ma­tion as Ses­sions’ suc­ces­sor — that is, some­one they could trust not to inter­fere with spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s inves­ti­ga­tion. But no one from their ranks seems to want the job.

    Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham (R‑S.C.) said any new nom­i­nee must pledge to pro­tect the Mueller inves­ti­ga­tion, and that it would help if that per­son were “some­body from the body or some­one who has had expe­ri­ence … or some­body you know per­son­al­ly, you know what you’re get­ting.” But he said it’s not going to be him, despite pri­vate belief among his col­leagues he’s eye­ing the job.

    “No. I like being a sen­a­tor. There are plen­ty of more qual­i­fied peo­ple than me. Bunch­es of them, thou­sands,” Gra­ham said Wednes­day.

    Asked about Major­i­ty Whip John Cornyn of Texas, a fel­low Sen­ate lawyer who was con­sid­ered as FBI direc­tor, Gra­ham said: “He’d be great if he want­ed to do it.”

    No dice, said Cornyn.

    “We already have an attor­ney gen­er­al,” said Cornyn, who some col­leagues think could be con­firmed to suc­ceed Ses­sions. “I love my job.”

    And Mike Lee (R‑Utah), who some Repub­li­cans think might be inter­est­ed in the job, is “very hap­py” in his cur­rent role as sen­a­tor, a spokesman said.

    With few obvi­ous poten­tial appli­cants for a job that seems to come with built-in clash­es with the pres­i­dent, some sen­a­tors even sug­gest Trump might have to nom­i­nate a Demo­c­rat to have any hope of get­ting a new attor­ney gen­er­al con­firmed.

    “Trump may very well want a change,” said retir­ing Sen. Orrin Hatch (R‑Utah). “If I was the pres­i­dent, I’d even con­sid­er pick­ing a Demo­c­rat if I thought I couldn’t get any­body else through.”

    The pres­i­dent, how­ev­er, is look­ing for a staunch defend­er like Eric Hold­er was to Barack Oba­ma, or a “guy look­ing out for his own inter­ests,” said a Repub­li­can close to the White House. This per­son said that per­haps a sen­a­tor could be per­suad­ed to take the job, but was unsure any­one could meet Trump’s cri­te­ria of loy­al­ty.

    “I’m not sure that there’s any­body in the Sen­ate besides maybe Lind­sey Gra­ham that Trump would want and even Lind­sey, he real­ly likes Lind­sey, but I don’t know if he trusts him,” this per­son said. “I don’t know that there’s any­body in the Sen­ate he feels that way about or that they feel that way about him.”

    One Repub­li­can sen­a­tor said a sen­a­tor nom­i­nat­ed as attor­ney gen­er­al would have to have a squeaky clean record of praise for Trump and esti­mat­ed that per­haps only four mem­bers of the Sen­ate would qual­i­fy, call­ing it a “pret­ty small uni­verse” of can­di­dates.

    The prob­lem is acute enough that Repub­li­cans are pes­simistic about a con­fir­ma­tion in the lame duck, when there will be lit­tle polit­i­cal imper­a­tive for red-state Democ­rats to go along with a new attor­ney gen­er­al. And if Repub­li­cans lose the Sen­ate major­i­ty, an attor­ney gen­er­al con­fir­ma­tion becomes even more dif­fi­cult, if not impos­si­ble.

    It’s a prob­lem com­pound­ed by the fact that some Repub­li­can sen­a­tors, like Ben Sasse of Nebras­ka, have already said it would be “real­ly dif­fi­cult” for them to sup­port a suc­ces­sor should Trump fire Ses­sions. Asked this month whether he was con­fi­dent he could con­firm a Ses­sions suc­ces­sor, Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Mitch McConnell instead defend­ed the attor­ney gen­er­al and said he hopes he sticks around.

    “Assum­ing that the Democ­rats vot­ed togeth­er against the nom­i­nee, I think you would have some Repub­li­cans who may well vote against the new nom­i­na­tion,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R‑La.).

    The most opti­mistic Repub­li­cans say that the cloud may lift after the elec­tion, espe­cial­ly if Mueller’s inves­ti­ga­tion con­cludes. Many Repub­li­cans are wor­ried about the pol­i­tics of con­firm­ing a new attor­ney gen­er­al amid the sen­si­tive probe.

    One out could be if Ses­sions leaves his job vol­un­tar­i­ly. Fir­ing Ses­sions seems to be a red line for some in the GOP.

    Sasse “finds it dif­fi­cult to envi­sion a cir­cum­stance where he would con­firm a suc­ces­sor to Attor­ney Gen­er­al Ses­sions if he is fired for faith­ful­ly exe­cut­ing his job. Attor­ney Gen­er­al Ses­sions has allowed Mr. Mueller to do his work, and Sen. Sasse believes that’s the way it should be,” said James Weg­mann, a Sasse spokesman.

    The prob­lem for the White House extends beyond fill­ing the top job at the Jus­tice Depart­ment. Trump has for months been mulling the prospect of replac­ing Defense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis, who is now expect­ed to be dis­missed or to resign after the midterm elec­tions, too. Once enam­ored of the retired Marine gen­er­al and his nick­name, “Mad Dog,” the pres­i­dent bragged to donors, “The guy nev­er los­es a bat­tle, nev­er los­es.” But Trump has slow­ly come to real­ize that Mat­tis’ polit­i­cal views are more mod­er­ate than his sobri­quet sug­gests, and the pres­i­dent has tak­en to refer­ring to him behind closed doors as “Mod­er­ate Dog.”

    The White House’s short-list of prospec­tive replace­ments for Mat­tis includes two Repub­li­can sen­a­tors who have sig­naled they aren’t inter­est­ed in the job, Tom Cot­ton of Arkansas and Gra­ham, both of whom are up for re-elec­tion in 2020, accord­ing to peo­ple famil­iar with the mat­ter. And Cot­ton has already announced his cam­paign for reelec­tion.

    Sen. Jim Inhofe (R‑Okla.), the new­ly installed Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee chair­man, said he’s advo­cat­ing for Mat­tis to stay and that whether he stays may “depend on whether I have any­thing or not to say about it.”

    “He does a great job,” said Sen. John Bar­ras­so (R‑Wyo.). Mat­tis should “absolute­ly” stay on, he said.

    ...

    ———-

    “GOP sen­a­tors: No Ses­sions replace­ment could get con­firmed” by BURGESS EVERETT and ELIANA JOHNSON; Politi­co; 09/12/2018

    “The prob­lem for the White House extends beyond fill­ing the top job at the Jus­tice Depart­ment. Trump has for months been mulling the prospect of replac­ing Defense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis, who is now expect­ed to be dis­missed or to resign after the midterm elec­tions, too. Once enam­ored of the retired Marine gen­er­al and his nick­name, “Mad Dog,” the pres­i­dent bragged to donors, “The guy nev­er los­es a bat­tle, nev­er los­es.” But Trump has slow­ly come to real­ize that Mat­tis’ polit­i­cal views are more mod­er­ate than his sobri­quet sug­gests, and the pres­i­dent has tak­en to refer­ring to him behind closed doors as “Mod­er­ate Dog.”

    Also note how there’s no obvi­ous replace­ment for Mat­tis that would fit the cri­te­ria of being ‘mad­der’ than Mat­tis but still able to get a Sen­ate con­fir­ma­tion. So who is replace­ment might be remains a large­ly a mys­tery. A very scary mys­tery:

    ...
    The White House’s short-list of prospec­tive replace­ments for Mat­tis includes two Repub­li­can sen­a­tors who have sig­naled they aren’t inter­est­ed in the job, Tom Cot­ton of Arkansas and Gra­ham, both of whom are up for re-elec­tion in 2020, accord­ing to peo­ple famil­iar with the mat­ter. And Cot­ton has already announced his cam­paign for reelec­tion.
    ...

    So Trump has appar­ent­ly been mulling replac­ing Mat­tis “for months”, which would sug­gest his change in atti­tude towards Mat­tis was­n’t just in response to the recent Bob Wood­ward book, Fear. We don’t know who that might be, we just know that it will be some­one who will pre­sum­ably be less inclined to act as a check on Trump’s cra­zier impuls­es. Impuls­es like assas­si­nat­ing Bashar al-Assad in response to the last alleged Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment chem­i­cal weapons attack:

    Vox

    5 stun­ning Trump for­eign pol­i­cy moments from Bob Woodward’s new book
    The book excerpts from Fear show Trump is not han­dling for­eign pol­i­cy all that well.

    By Alex Ward
    Updat­ed Sep 4, 2018, 6:35pm EDT

    Near­ly can­cel­ing America’s involve­ment in a cru­cial trade deal. Believ­ing diplo­ma­cy with North Korea comes down to his per­son­al rela­tion­ship with Kim Jong Un. Want­i­ng to kill a for­eign leader for using chem­i­cal weapons.

    Those are just some of the sur­pris­ing details about Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in Bob Woodward’s antic­i­pat­ed book Fear. Excerpts have start­ed to leak in mul­ti­ple out­lets, and they show how tumul­tuous — and poten­tial­ly dan­ger­ous — Trump’s for­eign pol­i­cy has been.

    The book comes out next week, which means the fol­low­ing accounts are still incom­plete and devoid of full con­text. Still, the excerpts show how US for­eign pol­i­cy under Trump’s has near­ly turned into a full-blown dis­as­ter on numer­ous occa­sions.

    Below are just some of the major for­eign pol­i­cy and nation­al secu­ri­ty tid­bits from the new­ly released excerpts of Woodward’s book.

    1) Trump want­ed to assas­si­nate Syr­i­an Pres­i­dent Bashar al-Assad

    In April 2017, the US launched a cruise mis­sile strike against a Syr­i­an regime air­base air­base — the first inten­tion­al US strike on Bashar al-Assad’s forces since the Syr­i­an war began in 2011. The strike was in direct response to a chem­i­cal weapon attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed at least 85 civil­ians.

    But Wood­ward reports that Trump want­ed the strikes to be a lot more puni­tive.

    “Let’s fuc king kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the fuc king lot of them,” Trump told Sec­re­tary of Defense Jim Mat­tis, refer­ring to Assad and his forces. After hang­ing up with Trump, accord­ing to Wood­ward, the sec­re­tary told one of his senior staffers: “We’re not going to do any of that. We’re going to be much more mea­sured.”

    Mattis’s more restrained response is what Trump ulti­mate­ly autho­rized. But it’s com­plete­ly pos­si­ble that with­out Mattis’s inter­ven­tion, the US would’ve launched a larg­er-scale strike to try to kill Assad. That would cer­tain­ly have angered Assad’s main backer, Rus­sia, and may have led to a broad­er Wash­ing­ton-Moscow con­fronta­tion.

    So Trump is appar­ent­ly fine with assas­si­nat­ing for­eign lead­ers — at least in the­o­ry. That’s quite an insight into how Trump wants to use his mil­i­tary.

    Per­haps that should be expect­ed: In 2011, Trump said that for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma should kill then-Libyan leader Muam­mar Qaddafi.

    “Now we should go in, we should stop this guy, which would be very easy and very quick,” Trump said in a video blog. “We should do on a human­i­tar­i­an basis, imme­di­ate­ly go into Libya, knock this guy out ... and save the lives.”

    ...

    3) Trump tried to with­draw the US from a trade deal with South Korea

    America’s strong rela­tion­ship with South Korea boils down to two main com­po­nents: defense and trade.

    The great­est exam­ple of that sec­ond com­po­nent is the US-Korea Free Trade Agree­ment, under which both coun­tries trade around $145 bil­lion in goods and ser­vices a year most­ly tar­iff-free. That deal helps the US keep its ally’s econ­o­my thriv­ing, and main­tains a key friend in the region — all while stim­u­lat­ing the US econ­o­my back home.

    Yet it appears Trump was very close to remov­ing the US from that agree­ment. Accord­ing to Wood­ward, Trump had a let­ter on his desk that — had he signed it — would’ve with­drawn the US from the free-trade deal. Trump has pre­vi­ous­ly expressed a desire to leave that accord.

    Gary Cohn, then Trump’s top eco­nom­ic advis­er, was so fear­ful Trump might sign it that he removed the let­ter from the pres­i­dent desk.

    “I stole it off his desk,” Cohn told some­one close to him. “I wouldn’t let him see it. He’s nev­er going to see that doc­u­ment. Got to pro­tect the coun­try.”

    Steal­ing doc­u­ments, Wood­ward notes, is some­thing Trump staffers repeat­ed­ly do to keep the pres­i­dent from harm­ing US nation­al secu­ri­ty. Wood­ward described the tac­tic as “no less than an admin­is­tra­tive coup d’état.”

    There may have been seri­ous reper­cus­sions had Trump signed the let­ter.

    For one, the US would’ve lost a staunch ally and an impor­tant part­ner in talks with North Korea. Sec­ond, Seoul may have kicked out America’s rough­ly 28,500 troops from the coun­try. And third, it like­ly may have hurt a secret US pro­gram to detect a North Kore­an mis­sile launch with­in sev­en sec­onds.

    Trump could still decide to with­draw from the deal in the future. If that’s the case, his staffers will sure­ly have to give him a let­ter to sign.

    ...

    5) Mat­tis thinks Trump acts like “a fifth- or sixth-grad­er”

    Mat­tis almost nev­er crit­i­cizes the pres­i­dent in pub­lic. In pri­vate, though, it seems to be a dif­fer­ent sto­ry.

    Wood­ward recounts that after a testy meet­ing on South Korea — in which Trump ques­tioned why the US backs it finan­cial­ly and mil­i­tar­i­ly — Mat­tis told asso­ciates that the pres­i­dent act­ed and under­stood things like “a fifth- or sixth-grad­er.”

    “Sec­re­taries of defense don’t always get to choose the pres­i­dent they work for,” Mat­tis report­ed­ly joked to friends in anoth­er instance.

    The Sec­re­tary denied mak­ing these state­ments. “The con­temp­tu­ous words about the Pres­i­dent attrib­uted to me in Woodward’s book were nev­er uttered by me or in my pres­ence,” Mat­tis said in a Tues­day state­ment.

    The sec­re­tary has so far avoid­ed Trump’s anger, in part because he keeps out of the spot­light by not mak­ing com­ments like that. But Woodward’s book threat­ens to put Mat­tis in Trump’s crosshairs — and there­fore pos­si­bly out of the Pen­ta­gon soon.

    ———-

    “5 stun­ning Trump for­eign pol­i­cy moments from Bob Woodward’s new book” by Alex Ward; Vox; 09/04/2018

    ““Let’s fuc king kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the fuc king lot of them,” Trump told Sec­re­tary of Defense Jim Mat­tis, refer­ring to Assad and his forces. After hang­ing up with Trump, accord­ing to Wood­ward, the sec­re­tary told one of his senior staffers: “We’re not going to do any of that. We’re going to be much more mea­sured.”

    So Trump told Mat­tis to assas­si­nate Assad, and Mat­tis basi­cal­ly just ignored him. Might that be one of the inci­dents that led Trump to con­clude that Mat­tis isn’t mad enough? It seems like a like­ly can­di­date.

    And, of course, after the pub­li­ca­tion of Wood­ward’s book Trump is prob­a­bly going to want to get rid of Mat­tis sim­ply as a response to Wood­ward’s claims that Mat­tis thinks Trump acts like “a fifth- or sixth-grad­er”:

    ...
    5) Mat­tis thinks Trump acts like “a fifth- or sixth-grad­er”

    Mat­tis almost nev­er crit­i­cizes the pres­i­dent in pub­lic. In pri­vate, though, it seems to be a dif­fer­ent sto­ry.

    Wood­ward recounts that after a testy meet­ing on South Korea — in which Trump ques­tioned why the US backs it finan­cial­ly and mil­i­tar­i­ly — Mat­tis told asso­ciates that the pres­i­dent act­ed and under­stood things like “a fifth- or sixth-grad­er.”

    “Sec­re­taries of defense don’t always get to choose the pres­i­dent they work for,” Mat­tis report­ed­ly joked to friends in anoth­er instance.

    The Sec­re­tary denied mak­ing these state­ments. “The con­temp­tu­ous words about the Pres­i­dent attrib­uted to me in Woodward’s book were nev­er uttered by me or in my pres­ence,” Mat­tis said in a Tues­day state­ment.

    The sec­re­tary has so far avoid­ed Trump’s anger, in part because he keeps out of the spot­light by not mak­ing com­ments like that. But Woodward’s book threat­ens to put Mat­tis in Trump’s crosshairs — and there­fore pos­si­bly out of the Pen­ta­gon soon.
    ...

    That’s all some­thing to fac­tor into the bat­tle over Idlib and the poten­tial for a staged chem­i­cal weapons attack by the al Qae­da or one of its affil­i­ates for the pur­pose of draw­ing the US into the war on their side. And you have to won­der if the rebels are fac­tor­ing this in too. Because if they are con­sid­er­ing stag­ing such an attack, doing it after Trump has replaced Mat­tis seems like the bet­ter tim­ing on their part. But they don’t know when, or if, Mat­tis’s replace­ment will actu­al­ly take place. It sounds like it could be a cou­ple months away if it does take place after the mid-terms, but who knows. Maybe it will take much longer to find a ‘mad­der’ replace­ment, the rebels may not have the lux­u­ry of wait­ing.

    So that’s one of more insane aspects of this incred­i­bly dan­ger­ous peri­od: it would prob­a­bly be a lot more insane by now if it was­n’t for the rel­a­tive san­i­ty of “Mad Dog” and from Trump’s per­spec­tive that’s a prob­lem that needs fix­ing.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 13, 2018, 1:34 pm
  2. Like a slow-motion hur­ri­cane, we have anoth­er twist in the #TrumpRus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion: Paul Man­afort flipped! Except maybe not very much. It’s unclear at this point.

    Yes, just days before his sec­ond tri­al was set to start, Man­afort stuck a plea deal with the Mueller team. So the tri­al of his role in for­eign lob­by­ing and the “Haps­burg Group” won’t actu­al­ly hap­pen, thus ensur­ing that the exten­sive evi­dence that Man­afort was work­ing to move Ukraine clos­er to the EU won’t be argued in court. That said, the Mueller team did just release a 76 page doc­u­ment detail­ing their charges regard­ing the Haps­burg Group and oth­er actions by Man­afort dur­ing his time con­sult­ing the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment. But any sort of court­room moments where Man­afort’s team point out they were try­ing to move Ukraine close to the EU aren’t going to hap­pen.

    The plea deal requires Man­afort’s coop­er­a­tion, but it’s ambigu­ous in terms of what kind of coop­er­a­tion will be required. The deal drops the 10 charges from Man­afort’s pre­vi­ous tri­al that the jury did­n’t con­vict him on (due to the one hold­out juror), but it says these charges will only be dropped after “suc­cess­ful coop­er­a­tion” with Mueller’s probe. And a source close to Man­afort’s defense team told Politi­co that “the coop­er­a­tion agree­ment does not involve the Trump cam­paign. ... There was no col­lu­sion with Rus­sia.”

    And while this might seem like bad news for Trump, the arti­cle also notes that this turn of events could even be like a last favor to Trump. Why? Because it’s going to avoid this messy tri­al right before the mid-terms less than two months away. Plus, the Trump team appears to have already voiced qua­si-approval of the move. Rudy Giu­liani told Politi­co, “We can see a rea­son why he might want to do that. What’s the need for anoth­er trial?...They’ve got enough to put him in jail. His lawyer is going to argue they shouldn’t. The judge should decide this. Not Mueller. I think it’s pret­ty clear if they were going to get any­thing from him, they’d have got­ten it already....From our per­spec­tive, we want him to do the right thing for him­self.” So Man­afort appears to have some­how pleased almost all sides with this move:

    Politi­co

    The Man­afort plea deal: Your ques­tions answered

    The pact has sur­prised some, giv­en Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s effu­sive praise of Manafort’s will­ing­ness to fight spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller in court.

    By JOSH GERSTEIN and DARREN SAMUELSOHN

    09/14/2018 10:11 AM EDT

    Updat­ed 09/14/2018 12:39 PM EDT

    Paul Man­afort, the for­mer Trump cam­paign chair­man, had struck a plea deal with spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller.

    The agree­ment comes just days before Man­afort is set to face for­eign-lob­by­ing and mon­ey-laun­der­ing charges in a Wash­ing­ton, D.C., court room. The pact has sur­prised some, giv­en Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s effu­sive praise of Manafort’s will­ing­ness to fight Mueller in court.

    Last month, Man­fort was found guilty in a Vir­ginia tri­al on eight counts of bank and tax fraud, while the judge declared a mis­tri­al on 10 oth­er charges after the jury couldn’t reach a unan­i­mous ver­dict.

    After the deci­sion, Trump called Man­afort “a brave man” on Twit­ter.

    Manafort’s charges came out of Mueller’s probe into Russ­ian inter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion and whether the Trump cam­paign coor­di­nat­ed with the Krem­lin on its efforts. Trump has reg­u­lar­ly decried the inves­ti­ga­tion as a “witch hunt.”

    ...

    What’s in Manafort’s poten­tial plea deal?

    The deal dis­miss­es dead­locked charges against Man­afort from an ear­li­er tri­al, but only after “suc­cess­ful coop­er­a­tion” with Mueller’s probe into Russ­ian elec­tion inter­fer­ence and whether the Trump cam­paign coor­di­nat­ed with Moscow on its efforts. Mueller pros­e­cu­tor Andrew Weiss­mann did not imme­di­ate­ly expand on what coop­er­a­tion is required under the deal.

    How­ev­er, a source close to the defense told POLITICO, “the coop­er­a­tion agree­ment does not involve the Trump cam­paign. ... There was no col­lu­sion with Rus­sia.”

    Sep­a­rate­ly, the agree­ment calls for a 10-year cap on how long Man­afort will be sent to prison, and for Man­afort to serve time from his sep­a­rate Vir­ginia and Wash­ing­ton cas­es con­cur­rent­ly. The deal also calls for Man­afort to for­feit four prop­er­ties.

    But it will not release Man­afort from jail, where he has been held since Mueller’s team added wit­ness tam­per­ing charges dur­ing the run-up to Man­afort’s tri­al.

    Why would Man­afort plead guilty?

    The out­come of the Vir­ginia case might have actu­al­ly made a plea deal for Man­afort more attrac­tive, since he already faces sub­stan­tial prison time — per­haps on the order of eight to 10 years — on his con­vic­tions there. That sen­tence could amount to life for a 69-year-old.

    And pri­or to any plea deal, lawyers said, Man­afort was exposed to anoth­er sen­tence of a decade or more if con­vict­ed on the Wash­ing­ton charges, which include con­spir­a­cy against the Unit­ed States, fail­ing to reg­is­ter as a for­eign agent, mon­ey laun­der­ing and wit­ness tam­per­ing. It would be up to the sec­ond judge who sen­tenced Man­afort to decide whether the sen­tences would run con­cur­rent­ly or con­sec­u­tive­ly.

    Also, a plea deal lim­its Man­afort’s legal bills.

    “Man­afort might be say­ing, ‘Enough is enough. I spent $1 mil­lion, or $500,000 on legal fees and got eight con­vic­tions,’ ” said Ford­ham law pro­fes­sor Jed Shuger­man. “This is some­one who seems to have cared a lot about mon­ey, and he may now be try­ing to shield some amount of mon­ey for his fam­i­ly.”

    If Man­afort pleads guilty, does that mean he will help Mueller?

    While the dis­missal of the ear­li­er charges against Man­afort is con­di­tion­al on his coop­er­a­tion with Mueller, it was unclear what that coop­er­a­tion would entail.

    Usu­al­ly, plea deals require a defen­dant to share infor­ma­tion use­ful to pros­e­cu­tors, but pros­e­cu­tors will typ­i­cal­ly give some con­ces­sions to some­one who won’t coop­er­ate but is will­ing to plead guilty to some of the charges they face.

    When Rick Gates, Manafort’s busi­ness part­ner and co-defen­dant, agreed in Feb­ru­ary to plead guilty to two felony charges and coop­er­ate with inves­ti­ga­tors, Man­afort pro­fessed to be mys­ti­fied by the devel­op­ment. Gates went on to serve as the star wit­ness at Manafort’s tri­al.

    “I con­tin­ue to main­tain my inno­cence,” Man­afort wrote. “I had hoped and expect­ed my busi­ness col­league would have had the strength to con­tin­ue the bat­tle to prove our inno­cence. For rea­sons yet to sur­face, he chose to do oth­er­wise. This does not alter my com­mit­ment to defend myself against the untrue piled up charges con­tained in the indict­ments against me.”

    Why would Mueller accept a plea deal if Man­afort does­n’t have use­ful infor­ma­tion?

    Mueller’s team has shown a desire to put its find­ings on the pub­lic record even if it has lit­tle or no chance of get­ting the defen­dants in a court­room. For instance, the spe­cial counsel’s team filed exhaus­tive indict­ments detail­ing Russia’s online dis­in­for­ma­tion and hack­ing schemes dur­ing the elec­tion, even though legal experts say the indi­vid­u­als named in the doc­u­ments will nev­er stand tri­al in the U.S.

    Giv­en that back­ground, it might seem con­fus­ing why Mueller would allow Man­afort to plead guilty if he’s not will­ing to offer worth­while infor­ma­tion in the spe­cial counsel’s Rus­sia probe.

    But legal experts note that the gov­ern­ment can ben­e­fit from avoid­ing the has­sle of Manafort’s Wash­ing­ton tri­al, espe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing it already obtained guilty pleas in the Vir­ginia case.

    “Even if there’s not a coop­er­a­tion agree­ment, it’s always to the gov­ern­men­t’s ben­e­fit to nego­ti­ate a plea to avoid the time and resources nec­es­sary to do a tri­al and to get the cer­tain­ty of a con­vic­tion. Every tri­al is to some extent a crap­shoot,” said for­mer fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor Ran­dall Elia­son. “I expect they would con­sid­er let­ting him plead guilty to some counts in exchange for drop­ping some charges.”

    Still, won’t this anger Trump?

    It could, but scut­tling Man­afort’s upcom­ing tri­al is also advan­ta­geous for Trump, lawyers close to the case say.

    Trump will avoid a dis­tract­ing, high-pro­file polit­i­cal spec­ta­cle just weeks before midterm elec­tions in which GOP loss­es could severe­ly crimp his pow­er and might lead to his impeach­ment.

    “It’s a big win for Trump to get this tri­al off the cal­en­dar in late Sep­tem­ber or ear­ly Octo­ber with­out coop­er­a­tion,” Jed Shuger­man said. “Man­afort might just be doing one last sol­id for Trump.”

    So what does the plea deal mean for Manafort’s chance at a pres­i­den­tial par­don?

    We’ll see. Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giu­liani has indi­cat­ed he under­stands Manafort’s impulse to plead guilty.

    “We can see a rea­son why he might want to do that. What’s the need for anoth­er tri­al?” he told POLITICO on Wednes­day. “They’ve got enough to put him in jail. His lawyer is going to argue they shouldn’t. The judge should decide this. Not Mueller. I think it’s pret­ty clear if they were going to get any­thing from him, they’d have got­ten it already.”

    Giu­liani added that, “From our per­spec­tive, we want him to do the right thing for him­self.”

    But after a plea deal, could Man­afort be forced to tes­ti­fy against the pres­i­dent?

    The for­mer Trump cam­paign chair­man might now be in a spot where he can more eas­i­ly be com­pelled to tes­ti­fy about the Trump cam­paign’s Rus­sia con­tacts, includ­ing the now infa­mous Trump Tow­er meet­ing with Rus­sians that Man­afort attend­ed in June 2016.

    Lawyers have said a deal could expose the for­mer Trump cam­paign chief to more ques­tion­ing, although the same issue could have come up even if Man­afort had been con­vict­ed at a sec­ond tri­al and Trump grant­ed a par­don. Mueller could grant Man­afort immu­ni­ty and force him in front of a grand jury.

    “A par­don would remove any Fifth Amend­ment priv­i­lege against self-incrim­i­na­tion,” said Phil Laco­vara, who served on the Water­gate Spe­cial Pros­e­cu­tion team. “Accord­ing­ly, Man­afort could be ordered to tes­ti­fy about what he knows con­cern­ing the president‘s knowl­edge of any active coop­er­a­tion between his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and Russ­ian agents. Any lies dur­ing that tes­ti­mo­ny would expose him to new pros­e­cu­tions for per­jury or mak­ing false state­ments.”

    ———-

    “The Man­afort plea deal: Your ques­tions answered” by JOSH GERSTEIN and DARREN SAMUELSOHN; Politi­co; 09/14/2018

    The agree­ment comes just days before Man­afort is set to face for­eign-lob­by­ing and mon­ey-laun­der­ing charges in a Wash­ing­ton, D.C., court room. The pact has sur­prised some, giv­en Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s effu­sive praise of Manafort’s will­ing­ness to fight Mueller in court.”

    Yes, one of the biggest ‘WTF’ aspects of this entire saga — Man­afort’s role in try­ing to move Ukraine close to the EU and away from Rus­sia — isn’t going to get the big court­room hear­ing that was sched­uled for just days from now. That’s undoubt­ed­ly going to please many sides.

    Mak­ing it all the more remark­able is that while Man­afort has to coop­er­ate in order to get the dead­locked charges from the pre­vi­ous tri­al dropped, it does­n’t sound like that coop­er­a­tion actu­al­ly involves the Trump cam­paign. As Man­afort’s side put it to Politi­co, “there was no col­lu­sion with Rus­sia”:

    ...
    What’s in Manafort’s poten­tial plea deal?

    The deal dis­miss­es dead­locked charges against Man­afort from an ear­li­er tri­al, but only after “suc­cess­ful coop­er­a­tion” with Mueller’s probe into Russ­ian elec­tion inter­fer­ence and whether the Trump cam­paign coor­di­nat­ed with Moscow on its efforts. Mueller pros­e­cu­tor Andrew Weiss­mann did not imme­di­ate­ly expand on what coop­er­a­tion is required under the deal.

    How­ev­er, a source close to the defense told POLITICO, “the coop­er­a­tion agree­ment does not involve the Trump cam­paign. ... There was no col­lu­sion with Rus­sia.”

    Sep­a­rate­ly, the agree­ment calls for a 10-year cap on how long Man­afort will be sent to prison, and for Man­afort to serve time from his sep­a­rate Vir­ginia and Wash­ing­ton cas­es con­cur­rent­ly. The deal also calls for Man­afort to for­feit four prop­er­ties.

    But it will not release Man­afort from jail, where he has been held since Mueller’s team added wit­ness tam­per­ing charges dur­ing the run-up to Man­afort’s tri­al.

    ...

    If Man­afort pleads guilty, does that mean he will help Mueller?

    While the dis­missal of the ear­li­er charges against Man­afort is con­di­tion­al on his coop­er­a­tion with Mueller, it was unclear what that coop­er­a­tion would entail.

    Usu­al­ly, plea deals require a defen­dant to share infor­ma­tion use­ful to pros­e­cu­tors, but pros­e­cu­tors will typ­i­cal­ly give some con­ces­sions to some­one who won’t coop­er­ate but is will­ing to plead guilty to some of the charges they face.

    When Rick Gates, Manafort’s busi­ness part­ner and co-defen­dant, agreed in Feb­ru­ary to plead guilty to two felony charges and coop­er­ate with inves­ti­ga­tors, Man­afort pro­fessed to be mys­ti­fied by the devel­op­ment. Gates went on to serve as the star wit­ness at Manafort’s tri­al.

    “I con­tin­ue to main­tain my inno­cence,” Man­afort wrote. “I had hoped and expect­ed my busi­ness col­league would have had the strength to con­tin­ue the bat­tle to prove our inno­cence. For rea­sons yet to sur­face, he chose to do oth­er­wise. This does not alter my com­mit­ment to defend myself against the untrue piled up charges con­tained in the indict­ments against me.”
    ...

    So why might Mueller accept a plea deal if Man­afort does­n’t have use­ful infor­ma­tion? The exam­ple rea­sons list­ed in the arti­cle is that it will free up resources. What isn’t list­ed in the obvi­ous ben­e­fit of not hav­ing the nature of that Haps­burg Group ini­tia­tive debat­ed in the court­room. What would pros­e­cu­tors have said if Man­afort’s defense team point­ed out that he was basi­cal­ly work­ing in US and EU inter­ests dur­ing that saga? We’ll nev­er know:

    ...
    Why would Mueller accept a plea deal if Man­afort does­n’t have use­ful infor­ma­tion?

    Mueller’s team has shown a desire to put its find­ings on the pub­lic record even if it has lit­tle or no chance of get­ting the defen­dants in a court­room. For instance, the spe­cial counsel’s team filed exhaus­tive indict­ments detail­ing Russia’s online dis­in­for­ma­tion and hack­ing schemes dur­ing the elec­tion, even though legal experts say the indi­vid­u­als named in the doc­u­ments will nev­er stand tri­al in the U.S.

    Giv­en that back­ground, it might seem con­fus­ing why Mueller would allow Man­afort to plead guilty if he’s not will­ing to offer worth­while infor­ma­tion in the spe­cial counsel’s Rus­sia probe.

    But legal experts note that the gov­ern­ment can ben­e­fit from avoid­ing the has­sle of Manafort’s Wash­ing­ton tri­al, espe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing it already obtained guilty pleas in the Vir­ginia case.

    “Even if there’s not a coop­er­a­tion agree­ment, it’s always to the gov­ern­men­t’s ben­e­fit to nego­ti­ate a plea to avoid the time and resources nec­es­sary to do a tri­al and to get the cer­tain­ty of a con­vic­tion. Every tri­al is to some extent a crap­shoot,” said for­mer fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor Ran­dall Elia­son. “I expect they would con­sid­er let­ting him plead guilty to some counts in exchange for drop­ping some charges.”
    ...

    And as was point out, this could end up help­ing Trump (and the rest of the GOP) too by get­ting this high-pro­file tri­al out of the head­lines. As one per­son put it, “Man­afort might just be doing one last sol­id for Trump.” And even Rudy Giu­liani, Trump’s lawyer, basi­cal­ly gave his bless­ing to Man­afort plead­ing guilty on Wednes­day. Now, it’s pos­si­ble that the Trump team was expect­ing a guilty plea but not an agree­ment to coop­er­ate and per­haps they’re stunned today with that coop­er­a­tion agree­ment. But as we saw, that coop­er­a­tion appar­ent­ly does­n’t involve the Trump cam­paign, so maybe the Trump team is quite pleased today:

    ...
    Still, won’t this anger Trump?

    It could, but scut­tling Man­afort’s upcom­ing tri­al is also advan­ta­geous for Trump, lawyers close to the case say.

    Trump will avoid a dis­tract­ing, high-pro­file polit­i­cal spec­ta­cle just weeks before midterm elec­tions in which GOP loss­es could severe­ly crimp his pow­er and might lead to his impeach­ment.

    “It’s a big win for Trump to get this tri­al off the cal­en­dar in late Sep­tem­ber or ear­ly Octo­ber with­out coop­er­a­tion,” Jed Shuger­man said. “Man­afort might just be doing one last sol­id for Trump.”

    So what does the plea deal mean for Manafort’s chance at a pres­i­den­tial par­don?

    We’ll see. Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giu­liani has indi­cat­ed he under­stands Manafort’s impulse to plead guilty.

    “We can see a rea­son why he might want to do that. What’s the need for anoth­er tri­al?” he told POLITICO on Wednes­day. “They’ve got enough to put him in jail. His lawyer is going to argue they shouldn’t. The judge should decide this. Not Mueller. I think it’s pret­ty clear if they were going to get any­thing from him, they’d have got­ten it already.”

    Giu­liani added that, “From our per­spec­tive, we want him to do the right thing for him­self.”
    ...

    At the same time, it sounds like this plea deal still means Man­afort could be forced to tes­ti­fy against Trump whether or not there’s an even­tu­al par­don:

    ...
    But after a plea deal, could Man­afort be forced to tes­ti­fy against the pres­i­dent?

    The for­mer Trump cam­paign chair­man might now be in a spot where he can more eas­i­ly be com­pelled to tes­ti­fy about the Trump cam­paign’s Rus­sia con­tacts, includ­ing the now infa­mous Trump Tow­er meet­ing with Rus­sians that Man­afort attend­ed in June 2016.

    Lawyers have said a deal could expose the for­mer Trump cam­paign chief to more ques­tion­ing, although the same issue could have come up even if Man­afort had been con­vict­ed at a sec­ond tri­al and Trump grant­ed a par­don. Mueller could grant Man­afort immu­ni­ty and force him in front of a grand jury.

    “A par­don would remove any Fifth Amend­ment priv­i­lege against self-incrim­i­na­tion,” said Phil Laco­vara, who served on the Water­gate Spe­cial Pros­e­cu­tion team. “Accord­ing­ly, Man­afort could be ordered to tes­ti­fy about what he knows con­cern­ing the president‘s knowl­edge of any active coop­er­a­tion between his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and Russ­ian agents. Any lies dur­ing that tes­ti­mo­ny would expose him to new pros­e­cu­tions for per­jury or mak­ing false state­ments.”
    ...

    So those are all some of the rea­sons Man­afort may have been will­ing to plead guilty and agree to coop­er­ate. It’s a move that poten­tial­ly pleas­es every­one, although it sounds like how much it pleas­es the inter­est­ed par­ties in the long-run will depend heav­i­ly on the nature of his coop­er­a­tion.

    And then there’s the fact that if Man­afort was indeed involved with orches­trat­ing the ini­tial crack­down on Maid­an pro­test­ers and/or the sub­se­quent sniper attacks, a legal strat­e­gy based on the argu­ment that he was actu­al­ly try­ing to move Ukraine out of Rus­si­a’s orbit and into the arms of the EU might have been rather risky.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 14, 2018, 1:32 pm
  3. @Pterrafractyl–

    Bear in mind that Man­afort, like the late Edwin Wil­son, is a spook, jailed by the author­i­ties for per­form­ing the task he was ordered to do.

    “Rolling over” on the part of Man­afort is to be expected–otherwise (if he is lucky and does­n’t die of “appar­ent­ly nat­ur­al caus­es” or a “prison suicide”)he fig­ures to spend the rest of his life in prison.

    In addi­tion, he has a fam­i­ly who might be endan­gered if he does not coop­er­ate.

    Last­ly, don’t for­get that Man­afort has the exam­ple of Lee Har­vey Oswald, anoth­er spook who was doing what he was ordered to do and was framed for a crime and jailed–ever so briefly–for it.

    At times, I actu­al­ly feel sor­ry for Man­afort. That most “spe­cial” of prosecutors–Robert “Pan Am 103, BCCI, Oper­a­tion Green Quest” Mueller has him by the short hairs.

    THAT is the ulti­mate “short leash.”

    Keep up the great work!

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | September 14, 2018, 2:51 pm
  4. @Dave: Note that it also sounds like the state­ments to Politi­co from a source close to Man­afort’s defense team that “the coop­er­a­tion agree­ment does not involve the Trump cam­paign. … There was no col­lu­sion with Rus­sia,” is just false. That same claim has been pushed by Rudy Giu­liani repeat­ed over the last day. Inter­est­ing­ly, just two days ago we got reports that Man­afort’s and Trump’s defense teams were coop­er­at­ing with each oth­er via a joint-defense agree­ment that allows them to share infor­ma­tion. So you have to won­der if that source to to Man­afort’s defense team was in fact a mem­ber of Trump’s defense team just putting a pos­i­tive spin on the sit­u­a­tion.

    If that was­n’t a Trump team per­son putting out that meme, it’s pret­ty remark­able that Man­afort’s defense team is con­tin­u­ing to send out ‘don’t wor­ry, Trump’ mes­sages even at that this point. As Josh Mar­shall not­ed, one of the most remark­able things about this plea agree­ment was that all of the news lead­ing up to actu­al announce­ment sug­gest­ed that it was going to be a plea agree­ment with­out coop­er­a­tion. So it’s almost as if Man­afort’s team was putting out dis­in­for­ma­tion tar­get­ing Trump in the days lead­ing up to the guilty plea. And that ‘don’t wor­ry, Trump’ mes­sag­ing is still ema­nat­ing from the some­one close to Man­afort’s defense team. It’s a con­fus­ing set of sig­nals.

    Giu­liani has actu­al­ly tak­en that mes­sage some­what fur­ther, telling reporters the Man­afort is only going to coop­er­ate in rela­tion to the issues involved in this indict­ment (i.e. Haps­burg Group stuff) and not about the Trump cam­paign or Trump. As Giu­liani told Busi­ness Insid­er below, “Paul Man­afort is not going to talk to [the spe­cial coun­sel] Robert Mueller about Trump or the Trump cam­paign...His coop­er­a­tion deal does not include an agree­ment to do that. He’s only coop­er­at­ing on mat­ters relat­ed to the two indict­ments against him and oth­ers named in those indict­ments.”

    But accord­ing to the legal experts in the fol­low­ing arti­cle, the actu­al lan­guage of the plea agree­ment in no way sug­gests that it does­n’t involve the Trump cam­paign. Accord­ing to Jef­frey Cramer, a for­mer fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor, while Giu­lian­i’s state­ment could the­o­ret­i­cal­ly be true, it’s unlike­ly that Mueller would agree to a coop­er­a­tion deal with Man­afort if it did­n’t “help him snag a big­ger fish”. Of course, not pub­licly inves­ti­gat­ing the pro-EU nature of the Haps­burg Group lob­by­ing effort could itself be a pret­ty big “fish to fry”. And that’s going to make it extra inter­est­ing if it turns out in the end that Man­afort does­n’t actu­al­ly give inves­ti­ga­tors any infor­ma­tion regard­ing Trump-Rus­sia col­lu­sion, or much of any­thing else that leads to a “big­ger fish” get­ting ensared.

    As the arti­cle also notes, there’s one oth­er area where Man­afort could pro­vide infor­ma­tion that ‘snags’ Trump that does­n’t haven’t to do with the Trump cam­paign activ­i­ty: infor­ma­tion about Trump dan­gling par­dons in front of Man­afort and Michael Fly­nn, which could be used for obstruc­tion of jus­tice charges against Trump. And there’s absolute­ly no rea­son to believe at this point that Trump did­n’t dan­gle par­dons to Man­afort and Fly­nn at this point. There are already reports about Trump talk­ing to his lawyers about par­don­ing Man­afort and Giu­liani him­self com­ment­ed, “The real con­cern, is whether Mueller would turn any par­don into an obstruc­tion charge.”

    Anoth­er fac­tor in all this is that Mueller’s team pre­sum­ably already knows what it was that Man­afort could tell them before they reached this coop­er­a­tion agree­ment. So we have a sit­u­a­tion where it’s pre­sumed that Mueller would only reach such an agree­ment with Man­afort if Man­afort did indeed have very use­ful infor­ma­tion. And while that’s being wide­ly inter­pret­ed as sug­gest­ing that Man­afort has lots of infor­ma­tion about Russ­ian col­lu­sion, it’s going to be worth keep­ing in mind that Man­afort is cur­rent­ly well posi­tioned to impli­cate Trump in poten­tial obstruc­tion of jus­tice charges with­out ver­i­fy­ing any­thing about Russ­ian col­lu­sion. And in that sense, it’s entire­ly pos­si­ble that the source close to Man­afort’s defense team, claim­ing the coop­er­a­tion isn’t going to involve the Trump cam­paign, is pos­si­ble if Man­afort has already agreed to impli­cate Trump on obstruc­tion of jus­tice but noth­ing else.

    And that rais­es an intrigu­ing pos­si­bil­i­ty: did Mueller’s team reach an agree­ment with Man­afort where Man­afort is going to coop­er­ate on obstruc­tion of jus­tice but not coop­er­a­tion on what tran­spired dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign? Because such an arrange­ment would still ‘snag’ Trump, just not for col­lu­sion. Would Mueller be will­ing to take such a deal? If so, that’s per­haps that one sce­nario might explain that odd mes­sage from the source close to Man­afort’s defense team that does­n’t assume it was just dis­in­for­ma­tion:

    Busi­ness Insid­er

    ‘It’s not even a close call’: Giu­liani is push­ing a dubi­ous the­o­ry about Paul Man­afort’s plea deal that experts say is bogus

    Son­am Sheth
    09/15/2018

    * Rudy Giu­liani told Busi­ness Insid­er that Paul Man­afort’s coop­er­a­tion deal with the spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller does not include an agree­ment to share infor­ma­tion about Pres­i­dent Trump or the Trump cam­paign.
    * Man­afort’s plea agree­ment does not include an excep­tion for top­ics relat­ed to Trump or his cam­paign.
    * A pros­e­cu­tor on Mueller’s team also told a fed­er­al judge that Man­afort will coop­er­ate “in any and all mat­ters as to which the gov­ern­ment deems the coop­er­a­tion rel­e­vant,” includ­ing “tes­ti­fy­ing ful­ly, com­plete­ly” before a grand jury.
    * Jus­tice Depart­ment vet­er­ans cast addi­tion­al doubt on Giu­lian­i’s claims, say­ing that Mueller would not have agreed to a coop­er­a­tion deal with the for­mer Trump cam­paign chair­man if he did­n’t think it could snag him a big­ger fish.

    Fol­low­ing news on Fri­day that Paul Man­afort had struck a plea deal with pros­e­cu­tors and agreed to coop­er­ate with the Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s per­son­al defense attor­ney said he was­n’t wor­ried about the pres­i­den­t’s poten­tial legal expo­sure.

    “Paul Man­afort is not going to talk to [the spe­cial coun­sel] Robert Mueller about Trump or the Trump cam­paign,” Rudy Giu­liani told Busi­ness Insid­er in a phone inter­view Fri­day evening. “His coop­er­a­tion deal does not include an agree­ment to do that. He’s only coop­er­at­ing on mat­ters relat­ed to the two indict­ments against him and oth­ers named in those indict­ments.”

    The New York­er’s Adam David­son point­ed out that Giu­liani and White House press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee Sanders made the same claim to NPR and Politi­co.

    Giu­liani dou­bled down on his state­ment Sat­ur­day morn­ing, tweet­ing, “Accord­ing to sources close to Man­afort defense: ‘The cooo­er­a­tion [sic] agree does not involve the Trump campaign....There was no col­lu­sion with Rus­sia.’ Anoth­er road trav­elled by Mueller. Same con­clu­sion: no evi­dence of col­lu­sion Pres­i­dent did noth­ing wrong.”

    Jef­frey Cramer, a long­time for­mer fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor who spent 12 years at the Jus­tice Depart­ment, said that while Giu­lian­i’s state­ment could the­o­ret­i­cal­ly be true, it’s unlike­ly that Mueller would agree to a coop­er­a­tion deal with the for­mer chair­man of the Trump cam­paign if it did­n’t help him snag a big­ger fish.

    “If you’re Mueller, the rea­son you pur­sue this against Man­afort, and appro­pri­ate­ly so, is to squeeze him,” Cramer said.

    Cru­cial­ly, Man­afort’s plea agree­ment with Mueller’s office does not include an excep­tion for infor­ma­tion relat­ed to his time on the Trump cam­paign.

    And Andrew Weiss­mann, a pros­e­cu­tor work­ing for Mueller, told US Dis­trict Judge Amy Berman Jack­son that Man­afort will coop­er­ate “in any and all mat­ters as to which the gov­ern­ment deems the coop­er­a­tion rel­e­vant,” includ­ing “tes­ti­fy­ing ful­ly, com­plete­ly” before a grand jury.

    “Take Weiss­man­n’s sen­tence and jux­ta­pose that with what Giu­liani said,” Cramer said. “As a gen­er­al rule, you go with the peo­ple argu­ing before a judge in court, and who have the evi­dence to back up their claims.”

    Weiss­mann head­ed up the Enron Task Force between 2002 and 2005, for which he over­saw the pros­e­cu­tions of 34 peo­ple con­nect­ed to the col­lapsed ener­gy com­pa­ny. He also spent 15 years as a fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor in the east­ern dis­trict of New York, where he spe­cial­ized in pros­e­cut­ing mafia mem­bers and boss­es from the Colom­bo, Gam­bi­no, and Gen­ovese fam­i­lies.

    “Weiss­mann is a respect­ed pros­e­cu­tor who has worked some mas­sive cas­es,” Cramer said. “And he’s not going to make a rep­re­sen­ta­tion in court if it’s isn’t 100 per­cent true. Between what he said and what Giu­liani said, it’s not even a close call.”

    ‘The way it works with fed­er­al coop­er­a­tion is it’s all or noth­ing’

    In addi­tion to giv­ing Mueller more infor­ma­tion about his own case, Man­afort could also help him con­nect the dots on sev­er­al piv­otal events that occurred while he was spear­head­ing the Trump cam­paign and even after.

    Those include Rus­si­a’s hack of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee; his offer of “pri­vate brief­in­gs” about the cam­paign to a Russ­ian oli­garch; and for­mer Trump lawyer John Dowd’s report­ed efforts to dan­gle par­dons for him and for­mer nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er Michael Fly­nn last sum­mer if they stayed mum dur­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Most impor­tant­ly, he can give Mueller a first­hand account of a June 2016 meet­ing at Trump Tow­er between top cam­paign offi­cials and two Russ­ian lob­by­ists.

    Man­afort attend­ed the meet­ing along with Don­ald Trump Jr. and senior advis­er Jared Kush­n­er. Trump Jr. ini­tial­ly released a state­ment say­ing the meet­ing was a non-event and unre­lat­ed to cam­paign busi­ness.

    He had to amend the state­ment sev­er­al times as new details about the meet­ing spilled out in pub­lic view. Even­tu­al­ly, it emerged that Trump Jr. agreed to the meet­ing after he was offered kom­pro­mat on Hillary Clin­ton as “part of Rus­sia and its gov­ern­men­t’s sup­port” for Trump’s can­di­da­cy.

    The pres­i­dent and his lawyers said at first that they had no knowl­edge of the meet­ing until The New York Times first report­ed it last July. But The Wash­ing­ton Post lat­er report­ed that Trump “dic­tat­ed” the ini­tial state­ment his son put out about the meet­ing.

    ...

    Elie Honig, a for­mer Jus­tice Depart­ment lawyer who pros­e­cut­ed hun­dreds of orga­nized crime cas­es, said there was no doubt that Man­afort would talk to Mueller about the cam­paign meet­ing.

    “The way it works with fed­er­al coop­er­a­tion is it’s all or noth­ing,” he said. “The coop­er­a­tor does­n’t just talk about select peo­ple or cat­e­gories. They have to talk about every­thing they’ve ever done, all the crim­i­nal activ­i­ty they knew about, every crime they’ve com­mit­ted.”

    Cir­cling back to Giu­lian­i’s claim, Cramer said, “One of two things is true here. Either Rudy is wrong, or Mueller does­n’t think the meet­ing with Rus­sians and Trump offi­cials dur­ing the cam­paign is rel­e­vant. I’m going with, Rudy is wrong.”

    ———-

    “ ‘It’s not even a close call’: Giu­liani is push­ing a dubi­ous the­o­ry about Paul Man­afort’s plea deal that experts say is bogus” by Son­am Sheth; Busi­ness Insid­er; 09/15/2018

    “Paul Man­afort is not going to talk to [the spe­cial coun­sel] Robert Mueller about Trump or the Trump campaign...His coop­er­a­tion deal does not include an agree­ment to do that. He’s only coop­er­at­ing on mat­ters relat­ed to the two indict­ments against him and oth­ers named in those indict­ments.”

    That was Rudy Giu­lian­i’s mes­sage and he’s appar­ent­ly stick­ing with it: the coop­er­a­tion deal does not include an agree­ment to talk about Trump or the Trump cam­paign at all. Which goes fur­ther than the state­ment to Politi­co made by the source close to Man­afort’s defense team, which sim­ply stat­ed “the coop­er­a­tion agree­ment does not involve the Trump cam­paign. … There was no col­lu­sion with Rus­sia.” Only the Trump cam­paign would be exclud­ed from the coop­er­a­tion agree­ment, not top­ics involv­ing Trump him­self, accord­ing the source close to Man­afort defense.

    So Giu­lian­i’s state­ment actu­al­ly goes much fur­ther than that defense team source. And it’s worth not­ing that Giu­liani just cit­ed that source in tweet, so he appears to have based his claims on that source’s claims, sug­gest­ing that Giu­lian­i’s state­ment was just an exag­ger­at­ed (and inac­cu­rate) ver­sion of that source’s state­ment:

    ...
    The New York­er’s Adam David­son point­ed out that Giu­liani and White House press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee Sanders made the same claim to NPR and Politi­co.

    Giu­liani dou­bled down on his state­ment Sat­ur­day morn­ing, tweet­ing, “Accord­ing to sources close to Man­afort defense: ‘The cooo­er­a­tion [sic] agree does not involve the Trump campaign....There was no col­lu­sion with Rus­sia.’ Anoth­er road trav­elled by Mueller. Same con­clu­sion: no evi­dence of col­lu­sion Pres­i­dent did noth­ing wrong.”
    ...

    And as for­mer fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor Jef­frey Cramer puts it, while it’s the­o­ret­i­cal­ly pos­si­ble that Giu­lian­i’s asser­tions are true, it’s high­ly unlike­ly that Mueller would agree to a coop­er­at­ing agree­ment if it does­n’t some­how help him ‘snag a big­ger fish’:

    ...
    Jef­frey Cramer, a long­time for­mer fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor who spent 12 years at the Jus­tice Depart­ment, said that while Giu­lian­i’s state­ment could the­o­ret­i­cal­ly be true, it’s unlike­ly that Mueller would agree to a coop­er­a­tion deal with the for­mer chair­man of the Trump cam­paign if it did­n’t help him snag a big­ger fish.

    “If you’re Mueller, the rea­son you pur­sue this against Man­afort, and appro­pri­ate­ly so, is to squeeze him,” Cramer said.
    ...

    As Cramer not­ed, the actu­al state­ments from the pros­e­cu­tors in court was that Man­afort for coop­er­ate “in any and all mat­ters as to which the gov­ern­ment deems the coop­er­a­tion rel­e­vant,” includ­ing “tes­ti­fy­ing ful­ly, com­plete­ly” before a grand jury:

    ...
    Cru­cial­ly, Man­afort’s plea agree­ment with Mueller’s office does not include an excep­tion for infor­ma­tion relat­ed to his time on the Trump cam­paign.

    And Andrew Weiss­mann, a pros­e­cu­tor work­ing for Mueller, told US Dis­trict Judge Amy Berman Jack­son that Man­afort will coop­er­ate “in any and all mat­ters as to which the gov­ern­ment deems the coop­er­a­tion rel­e­vant,” includ­ing “tes­ti­fy­ing ful­ly, com­plete­ly” before a grand jury.

    “Take Weiss­man­n’s sen­tence and jux­ta­pose that with what Giu­liani said,” Cramer said. “As a gen­er­al rule, you go with the peo­ple argu­ing before a judge in court, and who have the evi­dence to back up their claims.”

    Weiss­mann head­ed up the Enron Task Force between 2002 and 2005, for which he over­saw the pros­e­cu­tions of 34 peo­ple con­nect­ed to the col­lapsed ener­gy com­pa­ny. He also spent 15 years as a fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor in the east­ern dis­trict of New York, where he spe­cial­ized in pros­e­cut­ing mafia mem­bers and boss­es from the Colom­bo, Gam­bi­no, and Gen­ovese fam­i­lies.

    “Weiss­mann is a respect­ed pros­e­cu­tor who has worked some mas­sive cas­es,” Cramer said. “And he’s not going to make a rep­re­sen­ta­tion in court if it’s isn’t 100 per­cent true. Between what he said and what Giu­liani said, it’s not even a close call.”
    ...

    And while Man­afort could pos­si­bly pro­vide all sorts of tan­ta­liz­ing infor­ma­tion regard­ing top­ics like what tran­spired dur­ing the infa­mous June 9th, 2016, Trump Tow­er meet­ing, as the arti­cle also notes, there’s also the top­ic of Trump dan­gling par­dons to Man­afort and Michael Fly­nn, some­thing that hap­pened after the Trump cam­paign:

    ...
    ‘The way it works with fed­er­al coop­er­a­tion is it’s all or noth­ing’

    In addi­tion to giv­ing Mueller more infor­ma­tion about his own case, Man­afort could also help him con­nect the dots on sev­er­al piv­otal events that occurred while he was spear­head­ing the Trump cam­paign and even after.

    Those include Rus­si­a’s hack of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee; his offer of “pri­vate brief­in­gs” about the cam­paign to a Russ­ian oli­garch; and for­mer Trump lawyer John Dowd’s report­ed efforts to dan­gle par­dons for him and for­mer nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er Michael Fly­nn last sum­mer if they stayed mum dur­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Most impor­tant­ly, he can give Mueller a first­hand account of a June 2016 meet­ing at Trump Tow­er between top cam­paign offi­cials and two Russ­ian lob­by­ists.

    Man­afort attend­ed the meet­ing along with Don­ald Trump Jr. and senior advis­er Jared Kush­n­er. Trump Jr. ini­tial­ly released a state­ment say­ing the meet­ing was a non-event and unre­lat­ed to cam­paign busi­ness.
    ...

    And it’s that poten­tial for Man­afort to impli­cate Trump on obstruc­tion of jus­tice that took place after the cam­paign is per­haps the one sce­nario where that mys­te­ri­ous state­ment from the Man­afort defense source could turn out to be accu­rate.

    Also keep in mind that what­ev­er shenani­gans Trump’s cam­paign was involved in — whether it involved Russ­ian col­lu­sion, inde­pen­dent hack­ing-relat­ed efforts (like the Peter Smith team that includ­ed Fly­nn and Steve Ban­non), Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca dirty-tricks, or right-wing shenani­gans at the FBI (includ­ing Rudy Giu­lian­i’s claims of insid­er FBI knowl­edge) — those shenani­gans don’t just impli­cate Trump. We have no idea how deep this goes, but there have been plen­ty of hints that it goes well beyond the Trump cam­paign. Even if Rus­sia was inter­fer­ing in the US cam­paign there’s no rea­son to assume that did­n’t over­lap with plen­ty of oth­er GOP dirty-tricks that could come out. Or dirty tricks from oth­er actors, includ­ing oth­er for­eign coun­tries. Don’t for­get that Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca was orig­i­nal­ly work­ing for the Cruz cam­paign in 2016 and the Robert Mer­cer pro­mot­ing Repub­li­cans in the 2014 midterms. Then there’s the whole ‘Sey­chelles backchan­nel’ draw­ing in Eric Prince, the UAE, and the Saud­is. And the Ukrain­ian ‘peace plan’/nuclear-power gam­bit involv­ing Michael Cohen and Felix Sater. Let’s also not for­get about Michael Fly­n­n’s ‘Nuclear Mar­shall Plan for the Mid­dle East’ scheme. Or the UAE/Saudi/Israeli ear­ly August 2016 meet­ing in Tow­er Tow­er where the Trump team was offered for­eign assis­tance in some sort of social media cam­paign. All of these scan­dals could impli­cate peo­ple far beyond Trump and his inner cir­cle.

    And then there’s the whole ‘maybe Man­afort did actu­al­ly arrange for Maid­an sniper attacks/protester crack­downs’ issue that would obvi­ous­ly be high­ly explo­sive if true.

    So if Man­afort can effec­tive­ly give Mueller what he wants in a man­ner that does­n’t help Mueller explore all these var­i­ous oth­er threads, that might be a high­ly prefer­able sit­u­a­tion for a whole lot of pow­er­ful enti­ties, both with­in the US estab­lish­ment and in gov­ern­ments around the world.

    Let’s also keep in mind that, whether or not the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment was actu­al­ly active­ly col­lud­ing with the Trump team on things like the hacked doc­u­ments, it’s pret­ty unam­bigu­ous that the Trump team was will­ing to col­lude. At least Don Jr. cer­tain­ly sound­ed open to the idea based on the emails cor­re­spon­dences with Rob Gold­stone in the lead up to the Trump Tow­er meet­ing. In oth­er words, while Man­afort’s coop­er­a­tion could in the­o­ry be very use­ful for estab­lish­ing some sort of Russ­ian col­lu­sion, it’s not like his coop­er­a­tion is nec­es­sar­i­ly for the Mueller team to paint a pic­ture that makes it clear that the Trump cam­paign tried to col­lude. There’s plen­ty of cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence that could be be used to inti­mate there was col­lu­sion even if they don’t get actu­al evi­dence. And per­haps that cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence, com­bined with Man­afort’s and/or Fly­n­n’s coop­er­a­tion on obstruc­tion of jus­tice, will be seen as an ade­quate case. A case against Trump that would appear to con­clu­sive­ly back up the larg­er nar­ra­tive (mas­sive Russ­ian inter­fer­ence and Trump cam­paign col­lu­sion) with­out actu­al­ly detail­ing what went on with all of these oth­er threads that could impli­cate par­ties that go far beyond the Trump team.

    In oth­er words, as long as Trump at least gets con­clu­sive­ly nailed on obstruc­tion of jus­tice it’s pos­si­ble the broad­er Amer­i­can pub­lic will be sat­is­fied with that with­out ever real­ly learn­ing about all of these oth­er sub-plots. And Man­afort could the­o­ret­i­cal­ly pro­vide what is need­ed for Mueller pull that off with­out ever coop­er­at­ing on the Trump cam­paign activ­i­ties (or coop­er­at­ing but not giv­ing any sort of ‘smok­ing gun’ evi­dence).

    And that’s all why Don­ald Trump might want to be extra scared about Man­afort’s coop­er­a­tion: it’s not nec­es­sar­i­ly that Man­afort will blow the lid off of some sort of Russ­ian col­lu­sion. It’s also pos­si­ble that Man­afort will pro­vide Mueller with what he needs to keep the lid on what was actu­al­ly going on while still nail­ing Trump. We’ll see.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 15, 2018, 3:12 pm
  5. Posted by Susan Shpak | September 21, 2018, 10:06 pm
  6. Here’s a set of arti­cles hint­ing at a ramp­ing up of regime-change oper­a­tions against Iran worth keep­ing in mind in the con­text of the US poten­tial­ly get­ting drawn fur­ther into Syr­ia:
    First, it looks like there are a num­ber of prob­lems in the attempt by ISIS to claim respon­si­bil­i­ty for the recent ter­ror attack against a mil­i­tary parade in Iran. Anoth­er group, Ahvaz Nation­al Resis­tance which is believed to be financed by Iran’s Gulf rivals, also claimed respon­si­bil­i­ty, so at this point there’s still a big ques­tion over who car­ried out the attack:

    The Inde­pen­dent

    Iran mourns ter­ror attack vic­tims, as con­fu­sion swirls over Isis’s claim of respon­si­bil­i­ty

    The men in the Isis video, speak­ing Ara­bic and Per­sian, nev­er men­tion Isis or make a reli­gious­ly valid oath loy­al­ty to the group

    Bor­zou Dara­gahi Istan­bul
    Mon­day 24 Sep­tem­ber 2018 16:45

    Isis released a video pur­port­ing to show the mil­i­tants who staged the dead­ly 22 Sep­tem­ber attack on a mil­i­tary parade in the Iran­ian city of Ahvaz, adding to con­fu­sion about respon­si­bil­i­ty for an attack which left 29 peo­ple dead and 53 injured.

    Iran offi­cials have called for ret­ri­bu­tion for the attack, as its ram­i­fi­ca­tions rever­ber­at­ed through­out the coun­try and the region. “Revenge Time,” blared the head­line on the front page of the con­ser­v­a­tive dai­ly paper, Siyasat‑e Ruz.

    Iran’s state tele­vi­sion broad­cast footage of the vic­tims’ funer­als and declared Mon­day a nation­wide day of mourn­ing.

    “All peo­ple across the coun­try are upset and wor­ried about this attack,” Mah­di Khalil, a reformist politi­cian and ana­lyst based in Tehran, told The Inde­pen­dent.

    “The whole nation is in mourn­ing and con­demns this attack.”

    Iran’s pres­i­dent, Has­san Rouhani, en route to New York for the UN Gen­er­al Assem­bly gath­er­ing, was quot­ed as say­ing the attack was “Amer­i­cans’ work.” Oth­er Iran­ian polit­i­cal and mil­i­tary offi­cials blamed Sau­di Ara­bia and the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates.

    The Iran­ian for­eign min­istry sum­moned UAE diplo­mats to berate them over com­ments by a polit­i­cal schol­ar that appeared to jus­ti­fy the attack by insist­ing the tar­get was legit­i­mate. “An attack on a mil­i­tary tar­get is not a ter­ror­ist act,” wrote Abdul Khaleq Abdul­lah. “Mov­ing the bat­tle to deep inside Iran is an option that has been pub­licly declared and will increase in the com­ing phase.”

    An Arab Iran­ian sep­a­ratist group, Ahvaz Nation­al Resis­tance, believed to receive sup­port from Tehran’s Per­sian Gulf rivals, orig­i­nal­ly claimed to have been behind the attack.

    Among the vic­tims were chil­dren, a jour­nal­ist, and at least 10 mem­bers of Iran’s Islam­ic Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard Corps (IRGC), a par­al­lel branch of the armed forces.

    The three men in the Isis video, speak­ing Ara­bic and Per­sian, nev­er men­tion Isis or make a reli­gious­ly valid oath loy­al­ty to the group, which ter­ror­ism experts con­sid­er unusu­al.

    Though the video car­ried the impri­matur of Isis’s Amaq news plat­form and was dis­trib­uted through its nor­mal chan­nels on the Telegram mes­sag­ing app, some Ira­ni­ans on social media said pho­tos of the corpses did not match the fig­ures on the video.

    The attack was the most sig­nif­i­cant act of ter­ror inside the coun­try since last year, when Isis mil­i­tants killed 17 peo­ple at the par­lia­ment and at the shrine of Aya­tol­lah Ruhol­lah Khome­i­ni, founder of Iran’s Islam­ic sys­tem, in Tehran.

    Iran’s min­is­ter of intel­li­gence said Mon­day a num­ber of indi­vid­u­als tied to the attack had been round­ed up, while the per­pe­tra­tors were dead.

    ...

    Iran very like­ly will not direct­ly retal­i­ate for the attack. But the wide­spread per­cep­tion in Iran that the US and its allies were upping sup­port for mil­i­tant groups along its bor­ders adds to exist­ing pres­sure on Tehran to chal­lenge Washington’s aims in oth­er venues, includ­ing Iraq, Syr­ia, and Afghanistan.

    “Iran may now strength­en the Tal­iban, and con­se­quent­ly the war in Afghanistan will fur­ther inten­si­fy,” mil­i­tary expert Atiqol­lah Amarkhel, told the Sham­sad news chan­nel in Kab­ul on Sun­day.

    For now Mr Khalil said the Iran­ian lead­er­ship would pur­sue diplo­mat­ic means of pres­sure, with Mr Rouhani like­ly speak­ing about the attack at the Gen­er­al Assem­bly this week.

    The sec­re­tary of Iran’s pow­er­ful Expe­di­en­cy Coun­cil, Mohsen Reza­ee, called on Mr Rouhani’s gov­ern­ment to demand that Den­mark, Nether­lands and the UK hand over “ter­ror­ists” with­in their bor­ders affil­i­at­ed with the organ­i­sa­tion.

    The UK hosts a Per­sian-lan­guage Iran­ian exile satel­lite tele­vi­sion sta­tion that broad­cast an inter­view with a leader of the sep­a­ratist group short­ly fol­low­ing the attack.

    ———–

    “Iran mourns ter­ror attack vic­tims, as con­fu­sion swirls over Isis’s claim of respon­si­bil­i­ty” by Bor­zou Dara­gahi; The Inde­pen­dent; 09/24/2018

    “Iran’s pres­i­dent, Has­san Rouhani, en route to New York for the UN Gen­er­al Assem­bly gath­er­ing, was quot­ed as say­ing the attack was “Amer­i­cans’ work.” Oth­er Iran­ian polit­i­cal and mil­i­tary offi­cials blamed Sau­di Ara­bia and the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates.”

    So right off the bat we have Iran’s pres­i­dent exclaim­ing the attack was “Amer­i­cans’ work”, while oth­er Iran­ian offi­cials point­ed towards Sau­di Ara­bia and the UAE. And an Iran­ian sep­a­ratist group thought to receive sup­port from Iran’s Gulf adver­saries, Ahvaz Nation­al Resis­tance which based in the town where the attack took place, also claimed respon­si­bil­i­ty:

    ...
    An Arab Iran­ian sep­a­ratist group, Ahvaz Nation­al Resis­tance, believed to receive sup­port from Tehran’s Per­sian Gulf rivals, orig­i­nal­ly claimed to have been behind the attack.
    ...

    A UAE schol­ar also declares it not a ter­ror­ist attack at all but a legit­i­mate attack:

    ...
    The Iran­ian for­eign min­istry sum­moned UAE diplo­mats to berate them over com­ments by a polit­i­cal schol­ar that appeared to jus­ti­fy the attack by insist­ing the tar­get was legit­i­mate. “An attack on a mil­i­tary tar­get is not a ter­ror­ist act,” wrote Abdul Khaleq Abdul­lah. “Mov­ing the bat­tle to deep inside Iran is an option that has been pub­licly declared and will increase in the com­ing phase.”
    ...

    And then ISIS claims respon­si­bil­i­ty. But those claims have prob­lems:

    ...
    The three men in the Isis video, speak­ing Ara­bic and Per­sian, nev­er men­tion Isis or make a reli­gious­ly valid oath loy­al­ty to the group, which ter­ror­ism experts con­sid­er unusu­al.

    Though the video car­ried the impri­matur of Isis’s Amaq news plat­form and was dis­trib­uted through its nor­mal chan­nels on the Telegram mes­sag­ing app, some Ira­ni­ans on social media said pho­tos of the corpses did not match the fig­ures on the video.
    ...

    So at that point what we can say with con­fi­dence is that there’s no short­age of sus­pects for the attack.

    And then Rudolph Giu­liani, cur­rent Pres­i­dent Trump’s lawyer, gave a speech the next day to mem­bers and sup­port­ers of the Nation­al Coun­cil of Resis­tance of Iran, which is basi­cal­ly the polit­i­cal wing of the People’s Muja­hedin of Iran, or MEK. It was the kind of speech that isn’t going to do any­thing to dis­suade peo­ple from assum­ing the US played a role in the attack because Giu­liani basi­cal­ly declared that Iran was going to expe­ri­ence a rev­o­lu­tion soon, telling the group, “You are a threat. It is a real­i­ty. The protests are get­ting worse. I don’t know when we’re going to over­throw them. It could be in a few days, months, a cou­ple of years. But it’s going to hap­pen. They’re going to be over­thrown.”:

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    Trump attor­ney blasts Iran’s ‘out­laws and mur­der­ers,’ Promis­es Rev­o­lu­tion

    By VERENA DOBNIK
    Sep­tem­ber 23, 2018 9:25 am

    NEW YORK (AP) — Don­ald Trump’s attor­ney, Rudolph Giu­liani, told mem­bers of Iran’s self-declared gov­ern­ment in exile on Sat­ur­day that the U.S. sym­pa­thizes with their efforts to over­throw that country’s offi­cial gov­ern­ment.

    The for­mer New York may­or spoke to mem­bers and sup­port­ers of the Nation­al Coun­cil of Resis­tance of Iran, the biggest oppo­si­tion group to Iran’s Islam­ic regime. Two U.S.-based mem­bers who joined the gath­er­ing have been tar­get­ed for assas­si­na­tion by alleged Iran­ian agents named last month in crim­i­nal com­plaints issued by the U.S. Dis­trict Court for the Dis­trict of Colum­bia.

    “So I say to the Iran­ian gov­ern­ment, you must tru­ly be afraid of being over­thrown,” Giu­liani said. “We will not for­get that you want­ed to com­mit mur­der on our soil.”

    ...

    Giu­liani said the Paris-based oppo­si­tion orga­ni­za­tion is the demo­c­ra­t­ic answer to an Iran­ian regime he called “a group of out­laws and mur­der­ers and peo­ple who pre­tend to be reli­gious peo­ple and then have so much blood on their hands it’s almost unthink­able.”

    Instead, Giu­liani said, “Iran is enti­tled to free­dom and democ­ra­cy.”

    At one point in his remarks, Giu­liani told his audi­ence: “You are a threat. It is a real­i­ty. The protests are get­ting worse. I don’t know when we’re going to over­throw them. It could be in a few days, months, a cou­ple of years. But it’s going to hap­pen. They’re going to be over­thrown.”

    Sev­er­al months ago, Trump with­drew from a nuclear deal with Iran put in place by Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma and sanc­tions were rein­stat­ed.

    The Nation­al Coun­cil comes to New York annu­al­ly dur­ing the Unit­ed Nations Gen­er­al Assem­bly, stag­ing protests out­side the world body against Iran’s lead­ers who are in town.

    The U.S. gov­ern­ment con­sid­ered the People’s Muja­hedin of Iran, linked polit­i­cal­ly to the coun­cil, to be a ter­ror­ist group the U.S. State Depart­ment removed from its list of such orga­ni­za­tions in 2012.

    Since the begin­ning of the year, Ira­ni­ans have kept protest­ing and march­ing against the cler­i­cal regime, and the nation­al cur­ren­cy has lost about two-thirds of its val­ue, said Maryam Rajavi, leader of the People’s Muja­hedin of Iran, or MEK, and the declared pres­i­dent-elect in exile of the Nation­al Coun­cil of Resis­tance of Iran.

    Speak­ing via video, she said: “The regime is sur­round­ed, polit­i­cal­ly and inter­na­tion­al­ly, and in eco­nom­ic terms it is on the brink of col­lapse.”

    The new Iran, she said, would be based on free elec­tions result­ing in the sep­a­ra­tion of reli­gion and state, human rights includ­ing equal par­tic­i­pa­tion of women in pol­i­tics and the abo­li­tion of the death penal­ty.

    ———-

    “Trump attor­ney blasts Iran’s ‘out­laws and mur­der­ers’” by VERENA DOBNIK; Asso­ci­at­ed Press; 09/23/2018

    “At one point in his remarks, Giu­liani told his audi­ence: “You are a threat. It is a real­i­ty. The protests are get­ting worse. I don’t know when we’re going to over­throw them. It could be in a few days, months, a cou­ple of years. But it’s going to hap­pen. They’re going to be over­thrown.””

    That was Rudy’s mes­sage to the Nation­al Coun­cil of Resis­tance of Iran, the polit­i­cal wing of the MEK. And note how Maryam Rajavi, the leader of the MEK, is the Nation­al Coun­cil of Resis­tance of Iran’s declared pres­i­dent-elect in exile:

    ...
    The U.S. gov­ern­ment con­sid­ered the People’s Muja­hedin of Iran, linked polit­i­cal­ly to the coun­cil, to be a ter­ror­ist group the U.S. State Depart­ment removed from its list of such orga­ni­za­tions in 2012.

    Since the begin­ning of the year, Ira­ni­ans have kept protest­ing and march­ing against the cler­i­cal regime, and the nation­al cur­ren­cy has lost about two-thirds of its val­ue, said Maryam Rajavi, leader of the People’s Muja­hedin of Iran, or MEK, and the declared pres­i­dent-elect in exile of the Nation­al Coun­cil of Resis­tance of Iran.
    ...

    So a day after this ter­ror attack we have Giu­liani giv­ing a speech to the MEK’s polit­i­cal wing where he declares that this group is going to over­throw the Iran­ian gov­ern­ment “in a few days, months, a cou­ple of years.”

    And while state­ments from Giu­liani, cur­rent­ly act­ing as Trump’s lawyer, can’t nec­es­sar­i­ly be inter­pret­ed as the posi­tion of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, we have to keep in mind that every­thing Giu­liani expressed dur­ing that speech would prob­a­bly be echoed by Trump’s nation­al secu­ri­ty advi­sor John Bolton who is one of the biggest MEK-boost­ers in the world:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    John Bolton wants regime change in Iran, and so does the cult that paid him

    By Jason Reza­ian
    Glob­al Opin­ions writer
    March 24, 2018

    Pres­i­dent Trump’s appoint­ment of John Bolton as his new nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er has cre­at­ed a stir among for­eign pol­i­cy experts. He is known for express­ing extreme skep­ti­cism about inter­na­tion­al insti­tu­tions (includ­ing the Unit­ed Nations, where he served as U.S. ambas­sador in the George W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion). He has advo­cat­ed a pre­emp­tive strike against North Korea. And he has also repeat­ed­ly pro­posed “regime change” (mean­ing “war”) in Tehran.

    Since the lat­ter issue is one of the trick­i­est fac­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, it’s worth tak­ing a clos­er look.

    Bolton’s hawk­ish views on Iran mir­ror those of Israel, Sau­di Ara­bia and one of his key ide­o­log­i­cal part­ners, the Mujahideen‑e Khalq (MEK).

    Today the MEK bears lit­tle resem­blance to the high­ly orga­nized, influ­en­tial and mil­i­tant oppo­si­tion force that it was in Iran while seek­ing to top­ple the shah dur­ing the 1979 rev­o­lu­tion. Ini­tial­ly it worked in coop­er­a­tion with the cler­i­cal gov­ern­ment. In fact, chil­dren of sev­er­al top offi­cials in the Islam­ic Repub­lic joined the MEK.

    When it became clear that the MEK could no longer coex­ist with the rul­ing Islam­ic Repub­lic Par­ty, some MEK mem­bers with­drew from the group, while oth­ers were impris­oned. They either recant­ed and returned to soci­ety or were exe­cut­ed.

    Those who were left fled to Iraq, where Sad­dam Hus­sein, who invad­ed Iran in 1980, gave them a haven. Many took up arms and fought against their Iran­ian coun­try­men, earn­ing the group the unof­fi­cial nick­name mon­afegheen, or the “hyp­ocrites.” That title has stuck, and most Ira­ni­ans inside the coun­try, regard­less of their polit­i­cal ten­den­cies, refer to them as such.

    The group is loathed by most Ira­ni­ans, main­ly for the trai­tor­ous act of fight­ing along­side the ene­my.

    But it is the group’s activ­i­ties in the decades since that have cement­ed its rep­u­ta­tion as a deranged cult. For decades its com­mand cen­ter was a com­pound in Iraq’s Diyala province, where more than 3,000 mem­bers lived in vir­tu­al cap­tiv­i­ty. The few who were able to escape told of being cut off from their loved ones, forced into arranged mar­riages, brain­washed, sex­u­al­ly abused and tor­tured.

    All this was car­ried out under the super­vi­sion of the group’s lead­ers, Mas­soud and Maryam Rajavi, the hus­band and wife at the top of the organization’s pyra­mid. He has been miss­ing since the U.S. inva­sion in 2003 and is pre­sumed dead. She now runs the group and makes reg­u­lar pub­lic appear­ances with her pow­er­ful friends from the West — such as Bolton.

    The group was long a fix­ture on the State Department’s list of ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions for hav­ing killed Amer­i­can cit­i­zens. Bolton and oth­ers suc­cess­ful­ly lob­bied to have the des­ig­na­tion removed in 2012. That did lit­tle to change how aver­age Ira­ni­ans think of the orga­ni­za­tion.

    In the sev­en years I lived in Iran, many peo­ple expressed crit­i­cism of the rul­ing estab­lish­ment — at great poten­tial risk to them­selves. Some hoped for regime change by mil­i­tary force, oth­ers dreamed of a return of the monar­chy and many more want­ed to see a peace­ful tran­si­tion to a sec­u­lar alter­na­tive to cler­i­cal rule. In all that time, though, I nev­er met a per­son who thought the MEK should, or could, present a viable alter­na­tive.

    But appar­ent­ly that doesn’t mat­ter to its sup­port­ers in Wash­ing­ton.

    Of course they were paid for their loy­al­ty. “Very few for­mer U.S. gov­ern­ment offi­cials shilled pro bono for the MEK,” said a for­mer State Depart­ment offi­cial who worked on Iran. Among the long bipar­ti­san list of peo­ple who have tak­en mon­ey from the group in exchange for speak­ing at its events are for­mer New York may­or Rudy Giu­liani and for­mer Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee chair­man Howard Dean. Bolton, the for­mer offi­cial told me, was also paid.

    Their many efforts failed to the block the nuclear deal with Iran. Despite the long list of nefar­i­ous acts still car­ried out by Tehran, the biggest threat that Iran posed to inter­na­tion­al secu­ri­ty — the issue that our allies and oth­er world pow­ers all agreed need­ed to be resolved — has been resolved.

    Based on U.S. assess­ments and those of the Inter­na­tion­al Atom­ic Ener­gy Agency, Iran appears to be com­ply­ing with the nuclear deal.

    To those who claim that the nuclear deal isn’t work­ing, regime change remains the only solu­tion. For the MEK, and Bolton, if his words are to be tak­en at face val­ue, the only path to that could be war. The group has long been pre­pared to do what­ev­er it takes to see that hap­pen, includ­ing pre­sent­ing fake intel­li­gence about Iran’s nuclear pro­gram.

    ...

    The MEK is the type of fringe group that sets up camp across the street from 1600 Penn­syl­va­nia Avenue and hands out fliers filled with unsub­stan­ti­at­ed claims. This is Amer­i­ca — we let crazy peo­ple talk. That’s their right, and I would nev­er sug­gest that they be pro­hib­it­ed from doing that. But giv­ing the MEK a voice in the White House is a ter­ri­ble idea.

    In John Bolton they have some­one who will do it for them.

    ———-

    “John Bolton wants regime change in Iran, and so does the cult that paid him” by Jason Reza­ian; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 03/24/2018

    “Bolton’s hawk­ish views on Iran mir­ror those of Israel, Sau­di Ara­bia and one of his key ide­o­log­i­cal part­ners, the Mujahideen‑e Khalq (MEK).

    Yep, John Bolton isn’t just chan­nel­ing the desires of Sau­di Ara­bia and Israel when he advo­cates for regime change in Iran. He’s chan­nel­ing one of his key ide­o­log­i­cal part­ners, the MEK cult. A cult accused of forced arranged mar­riages, brain­wash­ing, sex­u­al abuse, and tor­ture. And it’s long been run by Maryam Rajavi — the cur­rent pres­i­dent in exile by this orga­ni­za­tion — after her hus­band dis­ap­peared in 2003:

    ...
    The group is loathed by most Ira­ni­ans, main­ly for the trai­tor­ous act of fight­ing along­side the ene­my.

    But it is the group’s activ­i­ties in the decades since that have cement­ed its rep­u­ta­tion as a deranged cult. For decades its com­mand cen­ter was a com­pound in Iraq’s Diyala province, where more than 3,000 mem­bers lived in vir­tu­al cap­tiv­i­ty. The few who were able to escape told of being cut off from their loved ones, forced into arranged mar­riages, brain­washed, sex­u­al­ly abused and tor­tured.

    All this was car­ried out under the super­vi­sion of the group’s lead­ers, Mas­soud and Maryam Rajavi, the hus­band and wife at the top of the organization’s pyra­mid. He has been miss­ing since the U.S. inva­sion in 2003 and is pre­sumed dead. She now runs the group and makes reg­u­lar pub­lic appear­ances with her pow­er­ful friends from the West — such as Bolton.

    The group was long a fix­ture on the State Department’s list of ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions for hav­ing killed Amer­i­can cit­i­zens. Bolton and oth­ers suc­cess­ful­ly lob­bied to have the des­ig­na­tion removed in 2012. That did lit­tle to change how aver­age Ira­ni­ans think of the orga­ni­za­tion.
    ...

    And now that the Iran nuclear deal has been shred­ded by the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, the only solu­tion left is regime change from the per­spec­tive of the MEK, a view Bolton appears to whole­heart­ed­ly agree with:

    ...
    To those who claim that the nuclear deal isn’t work­ing, regime change remains the only solu­tion. For the MEK, and Bolton, if his words are to be tak­en at face val­ue, the only path to that could be war. The group has long been pre­pared to do what­ev­er it takes to see that hap­pen, includ­ing pre­sent­ing fake intel­li­gence about Iran’s nuclear pro­gram.
    ...

    And that’s all part of the rea­son Iran­ian fin­gers almost imme­di­ate­ly start­ed point­ed into the US’s direc­tion fol­low­ing the ter­ror attacks. A crazy cult ded­i­cat­ed to over­throw­ing the Iran­ian gov­ern­ment hap­pens to have sub­stan­tial back­ing in the US at the high­est lev­els of gov­ern­ment.

    Still, for all we know this real­ly was an ISIS attack. Either way, if some sort of seri­ous regime change oper­a­tion that relies on mil­i­tary force does get under­way in Iran it seems like­ly that the US, and prob­a­bly much of the West­ern com­mu­ni­ty, will be push­ing for MEK to play a sig­nif­i­cant role in any sort of new gov­ern­ment, which seems like a gen­er­al strat­e­gy for send­ing the coun­try into a civ­il war giv­en how loathed the MEK appears to be by Ira­ni­ans.

    And the back­ing of a group like MEK — which might voice pro-democ­ra­cy slo­gans but in real­i­ty appears to be an author­i­tar­i­an cult — rais­es an inter­est­ing ques­tion: While it’s not incon­ceiv­able that the US or Israel would be fine with a gen­uine­ly demo­c­ra­t­ic rev­o­lu­tion in Iran, you have to won­der how author­i­tar­i­an theo­crat­ic monar­chies like Sau­di Ara­bia and the UAE would feel about such a turn of events if some sort of ‘Per­sian Spring’ real­ly too place. If Iran became a become of democ­ra­cy in the Mid­dle East, what would that do to the stand­ing of the Saud­is and their Gulf part­ners? Would­n’t that make them look much, much worse in com­par­i­son? Because right now we have the insane­ly bru­tal Sau­di theoc­ra­cy monar­chy jux­ta­posed to with an author­i­tar­i­an theo­crat­ic qua­si-democ­ra­cy in Iran. The Sau­di mod­el of gov­ern­ment looks some­what less bad as long as it’s in a neigh­bor­hood where author­i­tar­i­an mod­els are the norm. But what hap­pens to the per­ceived legit­i­ma­cy of that bru­tal Sau­di theoc­ra­cy if it sud­den­ly gets jux­ta­posed to a post-theo­crat­ic Iran­ian democ­ra­cy?

    It would obvi­ous­ly be great to see anoth­er author­i­tar­i­an theoc­ra­cy be replaced, but as is always the case with these kinds of sit­u­a­tions, the ques­tion of what it would be replaced with looms large and yet is rarely pub­licly dis­cussed until after some sort of con­flict is already under­way. But the gov­ern­ments of the regime advo­cat­ing regime change clear­ly have a pre­ferred type of replace­ment gov­ern­ment in mind. So we have to ask, just how much do the advo­cates of regime change want to ensure that there’s regime change in Iran but not the kind of regime change that results in a mod­ern sec­u­lar democ­ra­cy? Giv­en the out­ra­geous nature of groups like the MEK that seems like a ques­tion worth ask­ing. Espe­cial­ly now that it’s look­ing like some sort of regime change oper­a­tion could be get­ting under­way.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 25, 2018, 3:00 pm
  7. Here’s a chill­ing sto­ry from a cou­ple of days ago with strong echos of the Maid­an sniper attacks, espe­cial­ly the alle­ga­tions that a Geor­gian sniper team may have been involved:

    Six Ukraini­ans and one Geor­gian were just detained in Geor­gia for ille­gal pos­ses­sion and pro­cure­ment of arms, ammu­ni­tion and explo­sives. Even more chill­ing as that a sev­enth man got away. Semen Semenchenko, the Ukrain­ian MP who used to lead the Don­bas Vol­un­teer bat­tal­ion. Recall how Semenchenko jus­ti­fied civil­ian casu­al­ties back in 2014 when he was lead­ing the Don­bas vol­un­teer bat­tal­ion, claim­ing that unarmed peo­ple in the crowds were paid to be there as cov­er for the sep­a­ratists and call­ing them “pigs”. Also recall how Semenchenko had a role in lob­by­ing the US gov­ern­ment over the con­flict in Ukraine and was respon­si­ble for giv­ing US Sen­a­tors faked pho­tos that pur­port­ed­ly showed the Russ­ian mil­i­tary invad­ing Ukraine. The pho­tos were debunked. So Semenchenko has a track record of jus­ti­fy­ing the slaugh­ter of civil­ians and psy-op dirty tricks for geostrate­gic pur­pos­es, which has obvi­ous echos of the Maid­an sniper attacks that appear to have been a far right provo­ca­tion.

    And then there’s the evi­dence, as described by Pro­fes­sor Katchanovs­ki, of five Geor­gians who tes­ti­fied that they received weapons, pay­ments, and orders to mas­sacre both police and pro­test­ers. Those orders came from spe­cif­ic Maid­an and Geor­gian politi­cians and instruc­tions from a far-right linked ex-US Army sniper. They also tes­ti­fied that they Geor­gian, Baltic States, and Right Sec­tor-linked Ukrain­ian snipers shoot­ing from Maid­an-con­trolled build­ings.

    But it’s the con­text of this that makes it extra chill­ing: George just had elec­tions, the oppo­si­tion lost, and they are cry­ing foul and demand­ing the results be annulled. This is the oppo­si­tion led by for­mer Pres­i­dent Mikheil Saakashvili. The elec­tion was seen as a test of Geor­gia’s demo­c­ra­t­ic cre­den­tials as the coun­try tries to get admit­ted into the EU and NATO and inter­na­tion­al mon­i­tors have observed some irreg­u­lar­i­ties.

    So the sit­u­a­tion is look­ing A LOT like the sit­u­a­tion lead­ing up to the Maid­an sniper attacks. Saakashvili is even declar­ing that “Geor­gia’s future is being born on this square today.” Might Semenchenko’s armed squad have been attempt­ing some sort of Geor­gian ‘Maid­an’ attack designed to trig­ger pub­lic upheaval? It sure looks like it.

    First, here’s an arti­cle describ­ing how the coun­try of Geor­gia is in the mid­dle of pub­lic protests fol­low­ing the Novem­ber 28 elec­tion and charges of elec­tion fraud. Saakashvili is tak­ing part in the protests remote­ly from the Nether­lands, pledg­ing to ‘fight to the end end and remove the oli­garch from pow­er’:

    Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty

    Thou­sands In Geor­gia Protest Alleged Elec­tion Fraud

    Last Updat­ed: Decem­ber 02, 2018 18:04 GMT

    By RFE/RL’s Geor­gian Ser­vice

    TBILISI — Thou­sands of peo­ple have protest­ed in the Geor­gian cap­i­tal against the elec­tion of the rul­ing par­ty-backed can­di­date Salome Zura­bishvili to the pres­i­den­cy, claim­ing fraud in last week’s runoff vote.

    Hold­ing nation­al and EU flags, the pro­test­ers gath­ered on Decem­ber 2 in front of the par­lia­ment build­ing in the cen­ter of Tbil­isi, call­ing for ear­ly par­lia­men­tary elec­tions and a new elec­tion law.

    French-born Zura­bishvili, who had the back­ing of bil­lion­aire for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Bidz­i­na Ivanishvili’s rul­ing Geor­gian Dream par­ty, won 59.5 per­cent of the vote in the Novem­ber 28 runoff, accord­ing to elec­tion author­i­ties.

    Grigol Vashadze, the can­di­date of oppo­si­tion groups led by the Unit­ed Nation­al Move­ment, which was found­ed by for­mer Pres­i­dent Mikheil Saakashvili, had 40.5 per­cent.

    Vashadze told the pro­test­ers in Tbil­isi that the “stolen elec­tion” should be annulled and snap gen­er­al elec­tions held.

    “Our lawyers are prepar­ing a law­suit, which we will sub­mit to court. We will demand that the results of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion be annulled. Also, an inves­ti­ga­tion needs to be car­ried out,” he said.

    Vashadze also said that the author­i­ties had to over­haul Geor­gia’s elec­toral sys­tem and by Decem­ber 16 estab­lish a work­ing group to hold talks with the oppo­si­tion.

    Saakashvili Speaks

    Speak­ing to the crowd from the Nether­lands, where he lives in self-imposed exile, Saakashvili said that “Geor­gia’s future is being born on this square today.”

    “We will fight peace­ful­ly, but we will nev­er give up,” Saakashvili said via video link.

    “The fight will end with our vic­to­ry and remov­ing the oli­garch from pow­er,” he added.

    Both Zura­bishvili and Vashadze are for­mer for­eign min­is­ters of the South Cau­ca­sus coun­try, which has warm ties with the Unit­ed States and the Euro­pean Union.

    The pres­i­den­tial elec­tion was seen as a tri­al run for the con­test between Geor­gian Dream and the oppo­si­tion in par­lia­men­tary polls sched­uled for 2020, as well as a test of Geor­gia’s demo­c­ra­t­ic cre­den­tials as it seeks EU and NATO mem­ber­ship.

    A day after the runoff, inter­na­tion­al mon­i­tors said the vote was “com­pet­i­tive,” but Zura­bishvili “enjoyed an undue advan­tage,” cit­ing the mis­use of admin­is­tra­tive resources that “blurred the line between par­ty and state.”

    ...

    ———-

    “Thou­sands In Geor­gia Protest Alleged Elec­tion Fraud” by RFE/RL’s Geor­gian Ser­vice; Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty; 12/02/2018

    “The pres­i­den­tial elec­tion was seen as a tri­al run for the con­test between Geor­gian Dream and the oppo­si­tion in par­lia­men­tary polls sched­uled for 2020, as well as a test of Geor­gia’s demo­c­ra­t­ic cre­den­tials as it seeks EU and NATO mem­ber­ship.”

    An elec­tion seen as a test of the coun­try’s demo­c­ra­t­ic cre­den­tials as it seeks EU and NATO mem­ber­ship. Sound famil­iar?

    The los­ing oppo­si­tion can­di­date, Grigol Vashadze, is call­ing it an out­right “stolen elec­tion” that needs to be annulled. Inter­na­tion­al mon­i­tors are tak­ing far less strong lan­guage, say­ing the vote was “com­pet­i­tive, but the win­ning can­di­date “enjoyed an undue advan­tage,” cit­ing the mis­use of admin­is­tra­tive resources that “blurred the line between par­ty and state”:

    ...
    Vashadze told the pro­test­ers in Tbil­isi that the “stolen elec­tion” should be annulled and snap gen­er­al elec­tions held.

    “Our lawyers are prepar­ing a law­suit, which we will sub­mit to court. We will demand that the results of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion be annulled. Also, an inves­ti­ga­tion needs to be car­ried out,” he said.

    Vashadze also said that the author­i­ties had to over­haul Geor­gia’s elec­toral sys­tem and by Decem­ber 16 estab­lish a work­ing group to hold talks with the oppo­si­tion.

    ...

    A day after the runoff, inter­na­tion­al mon­i­tors said the vote was “com­pet­i­tive,” but Zura­bishvili “enjoyed an undue advan­tage,” cit­ing the mis­use of admin­is­tra­tive resources that “blurred the line between par­ty and state.”
    ...

    And Saakashvili is declar­ing that “Geor­gia’s future is being born on this square today” and they will ‘removed the oli­garch from pow­er’:

    ...
    Saakashvili Speaks

    Speak­ing to the crowd from the Nether­lands, where he lives in self-imposed exile, Saakashvili said that “Geor­gia’s future is being born on this square today.”

    “We will fight peace­ful­ly, but we will nev­er give up,” Saakashvili said via video link.

    “The fight will end with our vic­to­ry and remov­ing the oli­garch from pow­er,” he added.
    ...

    So that’s the con­text of the dis­cov­ery of this armed Ukrain­ian group. Now here’s an arti­cle talk­ing about the arrest of those six Ukraini­ans and one Geor­gian. Semenchenko was detained too but man­aged to flee using is diplo­mat­ic pass­port. Semenchenko calls the charges “fake”, but note that he con­firms that he was indeed in Tblisi on Novem­ber 28 as an elec­tion observ­er. He also acknowl­edges that the men were armed, but excus­es it by point­ing out that they were mem­bers of Ukraine’s vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions and that the one arrest­ed Geor­gian pre­vi­ous­ly fought with the vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions, sug­gest­ing that they mere­ly trav­eled to Geor­gia to meet their “fel­low­men”:

    Hro­madske Inter­na­tion­al

    6 Ukraini­ans Detained in Geor­gia for Ille­gal Arms Pos­ses­sion

    3 Decem­ber, 2018

    Six Ukraini­ans and one Geor­gian were arrest­ed in the Geor­gian cap­i­tal Tbil­isi on Decem­ber 2 fol­low­ing a spe­cial oper­a­tion con­duct­ed by the Geor­gian Inte­ri­or Min­istry, the Head of Ukrain­ian For­eign Ministry’s Depart­ment of Con­sular Sup­port Vasyl Kyry­lych con­firmed to Hro­madske. The sev­en men were detained for ille­gal pos­ses­sion and pro­cure­ment of arms, ammu­ni­tion and explo­sives.

    Accord­ing to the Tbil­isi police, the men have been appoint­ed lawyers and have not expe­ri­enced any rights vio­la­tions.

    The advi­sor to the Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent and Defense Min­istry Yuriy Biryukov ear­li­er alleged that Ukrain­ian MP from the Samopomich par­ty Semen Semenchenko was among the detainees but had man­aged to flee.

    “I have… dif­fer­ent kinds of con­tacts, they have con­firmed the infor­ma­tion that Sem­chenko is in Tbil­isi, that Sem­chenko has embroiled us in a diplo­mat­ic scan­dal, that Sem­chenko aban­doned ‘his’ peo­ple at the last moment and left,” Biryukov wrote on Face­book on Decem­ber 2.

    This was cor­rob­o­rat­ed by jour­nal­ist Andriy Dzindzia, who added that the Samopomich MP was able to evade deten­tion thanks to his diplo­mat­ic pass­port.

    “I have just received con­fir­ma­tion that the MP Semen Sem­chenko was among the Ukraini­ans detained in Geor­gia. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, he man­aged to evade deten­tion because he had his diplo­mat­ic pass­port with him. Sources in Geor­gia say that Semenchenko fled, leav­ing his asso­ciates behind,” he wrote.

    How­ev­er, Semenchenko denied both of these facts on Face­book call­ing them “fake.” Lat­er on Decem­ber 3, he also post­ed a video nam­ing the sev­en men and stat­ing that he arrived in Tbil­isi on Novem­ber 28 with his wife as an elec­tion observ­er and stayed in a hotel.

    Semenchenko – a for­mer com­man­der from the Don­bas vol­un­teer bat­tal­ion, which is now under the con­trol of the Ukrain­ian Inte­ri­or Min­istry – also states that some of the men arrest­ed for arms pos­ses­sion are “vol­un­teers from the Don­bas bat­tal­ion, some of them were Ukrain­ian cit­i­zens, some of them were Geor­gian cit­i­zens,” adding that they had trav­elled to Geor­gia to meet with their “fel­low­men.”

    The Geor­gian man detained along with the Ukraini­ans has been iden­ti­fied as Luka Chkhetia, who had also fought in the war in east­ern Ukraine with the Don­bas Bat­tal­ion.

    The arrests coin­cid­ed with mass protests orga­nized by the Geor­gian oppo­si­tion par­ty Unit­ed Nation­al Move­ment, which is led by for­mer Geor­gian Pres­i­dent and Gov­er­nor of Ukraine’s Ode­sa region Mikheil Saakashvili. The pro­test­ers were con­test­ing the results of the sec­ond round of the country’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tions which took place on Novem­ber 28 and saw in Georgia’s first female pres­i­dent Salome Zoura­bichvili. The pro­test­ers were demand­ing ear­ly par­lia­men­tary elec­tions.

    ...

    ———-

    “6 Ukraini­ans Detained in Geor­gia for Ille­gal Arms Pos­ses­sion”; Hro­madske Inter­na­tion­al; 12/03/2018

    “Six Ukraini­ans and one Geor­gian were arrest­ed in the Geor­gian cap­i­tal Tbil­isi on Decem­ber 2 fol­low­ing a spe­cial oper­a­tion con­duct­ed by the Geor­gian Inte­ri­or Min­istry, the Head of Ukrain­ian For­eign Ministry’s Depart­ment of Con­sular Sup­port Vasyl Kyry­lych con­firmed to Hro­madske. The sev­en men were detained for ille­gal pos­ses­sion and pro­cure­ment of arms, ammu­ni­tion and explo­sives.

    Ille­gal pos­ses­sion and pro­cure­ment of arms, ammu­ni­tion and explo­sives. That’s some pret­ty intense elec­tion observ­ing.

    And it’s none oth­er then Semen Semenchenko who was lead­ing this group. But he some­how got away using his diplo­mat­ic pass­port. That’s based on the advi­sor to the Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent and Defense Min­istry Yuriy Biryukov:

    ...
    Accord­ing to the Tbil­isi police, the men have been appoint­ed lawyers and have not expe­ri­enced any rights vio­la­tions.

    The advi­sor to the Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent and Defense Min­istry Yuriy Biryukov ear­li­er alleged that Ukrain­ian MP from the Samopomich par­ty Semen Semenchenko was among the detainees but had man­aged to flee.

    “I have… dif­fer­ent kinds of con­tacts, they have con­firmed the infor­ma­tion that Sem­chenko is in Tbil­isi, that Sem­chenko has embroiled us in a diplo­mat­ic scan­dal, that Sem­chenko aban­doned ‘his’ peo­ple at the last moment and left,” Biryukov wrote on Face­book on Decem­ber 2.

    This was cor­rob­o­rat­ed by jour­nal­ist Andriy Dzindzia, who added that the Samopomich MP was able to evade deten­tion thanks to his diplo­mat­ic pass­port.

    “I have just received con­fir­ma­tion that the MP Semen Sem­chenko was among the Ukraini­ans detained in Geor­gia. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, he man­aged to evade deten­tion because he had his diplo­mat­ic pass­port with him. Sources in Geor­gia say that Semenchenko fled, leav­ing his asso­ciates behind,” he wrote.
    ...

    “I have… dif­fer­ent kinds of con­tacts, they have con­firmed the infor­ma­tion that Sem­chenko is in Tbil­isi, that Sem­chenko has embroiled us in a diplo­mat­ic scan­dal, that Sem­chenko aban­doned ‘his’ peo­ple at the last moment and left,” Biryukov wrote on Face­book on Decem­ber 2.”

    So the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment appears to be more or less admit­ting that Semenchenko “embroiled us in a diplo­mat­ic scan­dal.”

    Semenchenko asserts that he was just there as an elec­tion observ­er. But note how he admits that some of these men were armed, excus­ing it by point­ing out that they were “vol­un­teers from the Don­bas bat­tal­ion, some of them were Ukrain­ian cit­i­zens, some of them were Geor­gian cit­i­zens.” The one arrest­ed Geor­gian fought with Semen­chanko’s Don­bas Bat­tal­ion:

    ...
    How­ev­er, Semenchenko denied both of these facts on Face­book call­ing them “fake.” Lat­er on Decem­ber 3, he also post­ed a video nam­ing the sev­en men and stat­ing that he arrived in Tbil­isi on Novem­ber 28 with his wife as an elec­tion observ­er and stayed in a hotel.

    Semenchenko – a for­mer com­man­der from the Don­bas vol­un­teer bat­tal­ion, which is now under the con­trol of the Ukrain­ian Inte­ri­or Min­istry – also states that some of the men arrest­ed for arms pos­ses­sion are “vol­un­teers from the Don­bas bat­tal­ion, some of them were Ukrain­ian cit­i­zens, some of them were Geor­gian cit­i­zens,” adding that they had trav­elled to Geor­gia to meet with their “fel­low­men.”

    The Geor­gian man detained along with the Ukraini­ans has been iden­ti­fied as Luka Chkhetia, who had also fought in the war in east­ern Ukraine with the Don­bas Bat­tal­ion.
    ...

    So there were arms and explo­sives found. It rais­es the ques­tion: were there any sniper rifles? Of course, if explo­sions were part of the plan snip­ing may not have been on the agen­da.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 5, 2018, 4:34 pm
  8. There’s been a string of news reports out of Ukraine regard­ing the still-unre­solved inves­ti­ga­tions in the Maid­an sniper mas­sacre of 2014. The sto­ries raise a lot of ques­tions, but also might pro­vide some sig­nif­i­cant answers about which par­tic­u­lar Maid­an lead­ers were involved with the sniper attacks.

    First, here’s a report from Feb­ru­ary 1, 2019, about Yuri Lut­senko announc­ing that the Pros­e­cu­tor General’s Office of Ukraine has com­plet­ed the pre-tri­al inves­ti­ga­tion of the Maid­an dead­ly shoot­ings of 2014 and is ready to take the case to court. Lut­senko went on to declare that, “we have all the evi­dence to take the case to court, includ­ing a sci­en­tif­ic inde­pen­dent exam­i­na­tion say­ing that the Yanukovych team, SBU head Yaky­menko, Min­is­ter of Inte­ri­or Zakharchenko, and their sub­or­di­nates’ actions led to the exe­cu­tion of civil­ians at the Maid­an.” So Lut­senko is mak­ing it clear that his office is going to find the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment respon­si­ble for the sniper attacks.

    Recall the 2016 report about Lut­senko warn­ing that the pub­lic was going to be in for an unpleas­ant sur­prise when the respon­si­ble par­ties are revealed. Specif­i­cal­ly, he warned, “We found it with a large num­ber of auto­mat­ic rifles on the bot­tom of one of Kiev’s lakes. They were cut and drowned in one batch by a sin­gle group, whose leader is one of the tar­gets of our inves­ti­ga­tion. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this man who, accord­ing to our ver­sion, upon the orders of [for­mer Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Vitaliy] Zakharchenko helped the “black hun­dred” flee Kyiv, destroyed and drowned their weapons, he, him­self, was with us on the Maid­an.”

    That’s what Lut­senko warned over two years ago. But based on his recent announce­ment about the end­ing of the inves­ti­ga­tion it remains very unclear as to whether or not Ukrain­ian pros­e­cu­tors are still plan­ning on reveal­ing that unpleas­ant sur­prise of the iden­ti­ty of the Maid­an leader who was involved with lead­ing the “black hun­dred” berkut out of Kiev and the destruc­tion of the weapons found at the bot­tom of Ukrain­ian lakes and sounds more like they’re going to focus exclu­sive­ly on the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment:

    Unian.info

    Ukraine pros­e­cu­tors com­plete inves­ti­ga­tion of Maid­an shoot­ings: sus­pects face life in prison

    Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al Yuriy Lut­senko said that the pros­e­cu­tor’s office is ready to take the case to court.

    23:15, 01 Feb­ru­ary 2019

    The Pros­e­cu­tor General’s Office of Ukraine has com­plet­ed the pre-tri­al inves­ti­ga­tion of the Maid­an dead­ly shoot­ings of 2014 and is ready to take the case to court, Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al Yuriy Lut­senko says.

    “We com­plet­ed a pre-tri­al inves­ti­ga­tion against those respon­si­ble for the exe­cu­tions at the Maid­an,” Lut­senko told Pryamyi TV chan­nel.

    “We have all the evi­dence to take the case to court, includ­ing a sci­en­tif­ic inde­pen­dent exam­i­na­tion say­ing that the Yanukovych team, SBU head Yaky­menko, Min­is­ter of Inte­ri­or Zakharchenko, and their sub­or­di­nates’ actions led to the exe­cu­tion of civil­ians at the Maid­an,” said Lut­senko.

    ...

    “In addi­tion to the 150 law enforcers now tried for vio­lence at the Maid­an, anoth­er fif­teen peo­ple will be tried in absen­tia – those led by and includ­ing Yanukovych – heads of secu­ri­ty forces who are respon­si­ble for giv­ing a crim­i­nal order,” explained Lut­senko.

    As UNIAN report­ed, Lut­senko said that the inves­ti­ga­tion and inde­pen­dent experts see the con­nec­tion between the actions of the run­away pres­i­dent Yanukovych, then Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Zakharchenko and “a num­ber of oth­er law enforce­ment offi­cials”, but it is dif­fi­cult to restore the full pic­ture.

    How­ev­er, the inves­ti­ga­tion gath­ered all the doc­u­ments that will help announce sus­pi­cion notices to those involved in the exe­cu­tions of peo­ple at the Maid­an in 2014.

    ———–

    “Ukraine pros­e­cu­tors com­plete inves­ti­ga­tion of Maid­an shoot­ings: sus­pects face life in prison”; Unian.info; 02/01/2019

    ““We have all the evi­dence to take the case to court, includ­ing a sci­en­tif­ic inde­pen­dent exam­i­na­tion say­ing that the Yanukovych team, SBU head Yaky­menko, Min­is­ter of Inte­ri­or Zakharchenko, and their sub­or­di­nates’ actions led to the exe­cu­tion of civil­ians at the Maid­an,” said Lut­senko.”

    So that’s what Lut­senko announced on Feb­ru­ary 1. But just two days lat­er, Ser­hiy Hor­batiuk, the Chief of the Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment of the Gen­er­al Pros­e­cu­tor’s Office (PGO) of Ukraine, pub­licly declared that Lut­senko was mis­tak­en and the inves­ti­ga­tion is not over. Accord­ing to Hor­batiuk, it is a pros­e­cu­tor who is con­duct­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion rather than the chief pros­e­cu­tor who should decide on the end of the inves­ti­ga­tion:

    Unian.info

    Spe­cial inves­ti­ga­tor Hor­batiuk says pre­tri­al probe into Maid­an killings not over
    Ear­li­er, Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al Yuriy Lut­senko said that the PGO had com­plet­ed the pre­tri­al inves­ti­ga­tion.

    20:59, 03 Feb­ru­ary 2019

    Chief of the Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment of the Gen­er­al Pros­e­cu­tor’s Office (PGO) of Ukraine Ser­hiy Hor­batiuk says a state­ment made by Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al Yuriy Lut­senko that a pre­tri­al inves­ti­ga­tion into killings on the Maid­an Neza­lezh­nos­ti in Kyiv dur­ing the Rev­o­lu­tion of Dig­ni­ty is untrue.

    “The inves­ti­ga­tion is not over,” he said, accord­ing to the Ukrain­ian news out­let Hro­madske.

    Accord­ing to him, it is a pros­e­cu­tor who is con­duct­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion rather than the chief pros­e­cu­tor who should decide on the end of the inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Ear­li­er, Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al Yuriy Lut­senko said that the PGO had com­plet­ed the pre­tri­al inves­ti­ga­tion against those respon­si­ble for killings on the Maid­an.

    ...

    ———-

    “Spe­cial inves­ti­ga­tor Hor­batiuk says pre­tri­al probe into Maid­an killings not over”; Unian.info; 02/03/2019

    “Accord­ing to him, it is a pros­e­cu­tor who is con­duct­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion rather than the chief pros­e­cu­tor who should decide on the end of the inves­ti­ga­tion.”

    We’ll see if this divide between Hor­batiuk and Lut­senko is sim­ply a divide in the prop­er process for end­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion or if it reflects a real divide in their con­clu­sions. So that was some of the news com­ing out of the offi­cial pros­e­cu­tors’ office.

    Then there’s the jour­nal­is­tic bomb­shell that just hit Ukrain­ian a few days ago. This was flagged by pro­fes­sor Ivan Katchanovs­ki, the Ukrain­ian-Can­da­di­an pro­fes­sor of polit­i­cal sci­ence who has done some of the only aca­d­e­m­ic analy­sis of the sniper mas­sacre and con­clud­ed that the bulk of the shots against both the police and pro­tes­tors were done by peo­ple in build­ings con­trolled by the pro­tes­tors. Note that Pro­fes­sor Katchanovsky recent­ly did a great inter­view on Radio War Nerd about his Maid­an mas­sacre analy­sis. You have to pay to access the inter­view but it’s well worth the price.

    The par­ti­cle arti­cle Katchanovs­ki flagged was an inves­ti­ga­tion by the Russ­ian lan­guage Ukrain­ian media out­let Vesti-Ukr. It’s worth not­ing that the Kiev offices of of Vesti-Ukr’s par­ent com­pa­ny was raid­ed by the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment a year ago after com­ing under scruti­ny by Ukrain­ian author­i­ties for tak­ing was they describe as a pro-Russ­ian edi­to­r­i­al line. So this is an out­let that the cur­rent gov­ern­ment in Kiev real­ly does­n’t like.

    The Vesti-Ukr report is an inves­ti­ga­tion into a large­ly ignored mur­der of two Ukrain­ian traf­fic police that took place on one of the nights of Maid­an vio­lence. A third traf­fic cop was shot but mirac­u­lous­ly sur­vived. He refus­es to talk to jour­nal­ists. Vesti-Ukr’s inves­ti­ga­tion dis­cov­ered that pros­e­cu­tors have evi­dence that the killers of these traf­fic police were among the Maid­an snipers and made a phone call with mem­bers of the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment that were part of the pro-Maid­an fac­tion.

    Here’s Pro­fes­sor Katchanovski’s tweets about it:

    Anoth­er #Maid­an mas­sacre bomb­shell in #Ukraine: #Ukrain­ian media reveals that Kyiv pros­e­cu­tors inves­ti­ga­tion found that killers of 2 traf­fic police­men were among Maid­an snipers & received phone calls from par­lia­ment deputies of Maid­an par­ty after killing https://t.co/gG4RgagrF7— Ivan Katchanovs­ki (@I_Katchanovski) Feb­ru­ary 11, 2019

    Next, Katchanovk­si notes that the inves­ti­ga­tion into these killings was trans­ferred to Ukrain­ian police con­trolled by the same par­ty as these Maid­an mem­bers who received the phone calls and the inves­ti­ga­tion just stalled at that point:

    The inves­ti­ga­tion of police killings after these find­ings was trans­ferred to Ukrain­ian police con­trolled by the same par­ty & com­plete­ly stalled. Two two killed police­men were includ­ed in ‘Heav­en­ly Hun­dred’ of killed Maid­an pro­test­ers & their killing was attrib­uted to ‘titush­ki.’— Ivan Katchanovs­ki (@I_Katchanovski) Feb­ru­ary 11, 2019

    Final­ly, Katchanovs­ki notes that a female Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment deputy descrip­tion (pre­sum­ably one of the peo­ple on the phone with the cop killers) mactes the descrip­tion of a for­mer far right activist who was cast as Maid­an hero and involved in dead­ly attack of Par­ty of Regions head­quar­ters. And her patron match­es the descrip­tion of the Maid­an leader who was filmed evac­u­at­ing peo­ple with rifles dur­ing mas­sacre, which sure sounds A LOT like what Yuri Lut­senko was warn­ing the pub­lic about in 2016 as the unpleas­ant sur­prise wait­ing for every­one in this inves­ti­ga­tion:

    Female par­lia­ment deputy descrip­tion match­es ex-far right activist, who was cast as Maid­an hero & vic­tim & was involved in dead­ly attack of Par­ty of Regions head­quar­ters. Her patron descrip­tion match­es Maid­an leader who was filmed evac­u­at­ing per­son with rifle dur­ing mas­sacre.— Ivan Katchanovs­ki (@I_Katchanovski) Feb­ru­ary 11, 2019

    Final­ly, here’s a Google trans­la­tion of the Vesti-Ukr report. It’s an auto-trans­la­tion so it’s kind of con­fus­ing at some points. For instance, at one point the trans­la­tion says, “As Vesti man­aged to find out, inves­ti­gat­ing an armed attack on the traf­fic police offi­cers, detec­tives of the Moscow pros­e­cu­tor’s office built a chain that could lead to a direct link between the killers and the orga­niz­ers of the protests on Euro­maid­an,” when this is cler­aly an arti­cle about the Kiev pros­e­cu­tor’s office, not the Moscow pros­e­cu­tor’s office. But despite these trans­la­tion issues, the auto-trans­lat­ed arti­cle does give us a much bet­ter idea of this Ukrain­ian bomb­shell that has yet to be report­ed in Eng­lish:

    vesti-ukr.com

    The fir­ing squad. How mur­ders in the days of Maid­an are con­nect­ed with peo­ple’s deputies

    Dmit­ry Egorov
    Feb­ru­ary 7, 2019, 07:15

    Feb­ru­ary 18–19 marks five years of the most sig­nif­i­cant moment of the Maid­an — its cli­max, mass exe­cu­tion on the Maid­an. How­ev­er, few peo­ple note that on the same night, unknown per­sons shot the traf­fic police on the Simirenko street. Five years lat­er, the killer of the police is still not installed. “Vesti” man­aged to get exclu­sive infor­ma­tion on the progress of the inves­ti­ga­tion of the crim­i­nal case and find out that the for­mer lead­ers of the Maid­an can cov­er the crim­i­nals.

    Why is the sur­vivor silent

    The night of Feb­ru­ary 18–19, 2014 was one of the hottest in the his­to­ry of Euro­maid­an. In the after­noon, the pro­test­ers seized the cen­tral office of the Par­ty of Regions on Lip­ki, and in the evening a fire broke out in the House of Trade Unions dur­ing an attempt to storm it.

    At this time, far from the main events, on the out­skirts of the cap­i­tal Borschagov­ka, a tragedy occurred: two unknown per­sons shot the crew of the traf­fic police. Ensign Peter Sav­it­sky and Senior Lieu­tenant Vladimir Yev­tushok died on the spot. The third patrol­man, ensign Roman Chep­ovsky, mirac­u­lous­ly sur­vived.

    Lat­er, the two dead police­men were called the vic­tims of the “titush­ki” and added to the lists of the Heav­en­ly Hun­dreds. Chep­ovsky left Kiev and cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly refus­es to talk with jour­nal­ists.

    Why is he silent? As Vesti man­aged to find out, inves­ti­gat­ing an armed attack on the traf­fic police offi­cers, detec­tives of the Moscow pros­e­cu­tor’s office built a chain that could lead to a direct link between the killers and the orga­niz­ers of the protests on Euro­maid­an. Today, these peo­ple are not with­out rea­son con­sid­ered the “pil­lars” of the new Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment, and it is pos­si­ble that they sim­ply try to hush up the inves­ti­ga­tion.

    ...

    Up to the out­skirts

    The shoot­ing of the crew in Svy­atoshin­sky dis­trict occurred far from the epi­cen­ter of the events of Feb­ru­ary 2014, but fits into the gen­er­al con­text of the events in Kiev. Feb­ru­ary 18, pro­test­ers of the Maid­an went on the next assault on gov­ern­ment agen­cies. At this point, the main stand­off for more than a month was con­cen­trat­ed at the entrance to the Dynamo sta­di­um on Gru­shevsko­go street. At the same time, the tac­tics of the oppo­si­tion­ists changed — they by all means tried to approach the walls of the Verk­hov­na Rada. Events took an uncon­trolled turn.

    On the same day, a large-scale mas­sacre took place in the Mari­in­sky Park with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of “Euro­maid­anovt­sy”, sup­port­ers of Anti-Maid­an and law enforce­ment offi­cers. As a result, the pro­test­ers seized the man­sion of the Par­ty of Regions. As a result of the bout, two peo­ple died, dozens were shot and wound­ed.

    The same evening, the secu­ri­ty forces received a com­mand to sweep the Maid­an: armored per­son­nel car­ri­ers appeared in the cen­ter of the city, the sub­way stopped work­ing. The impres­sion that the pro­test­ers are about to dozh­mut. But peo­ple in uni­form unex­pect­ed­ly retreat­ed to their for­mer posi­tions.

    Post fac­tum will be aware of the num­ber of vic­tims on both sides. Doc­tors have wit­nessed the death of two dozen peo­ple. Just at this moment, the crew of the Solomen­skiy traf­fic police, who was unsus­pect­ing about a grand bat­tle in the cen­ter of the cap­i­tal, took over duty. Star­ley Yev­tushok, and with him pra­por Stavit­sky and Chep­ovsky habit­u­al­ly got into the ser­vice Dae­woo Lanos.

    “Now we will kill you, bitch­es”

    Accord­ing to the offi­cial ver­sion of the devel­op­ment of events, already on Feb­ru­ary 19, at about 00:40 o’clock, on the Otrad­ny prospect of the cap­i­tal “Gayt­sy” noticed a Mit­subishi Pajero Wag­on with state num­ber AA 2291 IA. Fur­ther exam­i­na­tion will show that the num­bers on this machine were “left”. But the crew did not know about it and, rely­ing only on pro­fes­sion­al flair, asked the car to stop through the loud­speak­er.

    On the walkie-talkie, traf­fic cops report­ed that Mit­subishi had ignored their request. The pur­suit of a poten­tial intrud­er began, which last­ed about half an hour. The end occurred at 01:04 on Simirenko Street, where the SUV braked sharply. Twen­ty meters behind him, the traf­fic police stopped.

    Fur­ther events were cap­tured by the Dae­woo Lanos DVR. A man in a sheep­skin coat, who was in the rear pas­sen­ger seat, came out of Mit­subishi and fired in the direc­tion of the auto law enforce­ment offi­cers, more­over, apt­ly.

    The very first bul­let land­ed right in the head Yev­tush­ka, who a sec­ond before that jumped out of the cab­in. The attack­er made a series of new shots and struck down to death Sav­it­sky, who was sit­ting behind the wheel. Then the killer heads to the police car, where Chep­ovsky tried to avoid shots in the back­seat.

    The killer took away a stand­ing weapon from Chep­ovsky and sent a bar­rel to his head. Accord­ing to the inves­ti­ga­tion, the sur­vivor lat­er said that at that moment he heard someone’s com­mand: “Stop it!” And on the air through the includ­ed police radio from the street, anoth­er phrase slipped: “Now we will kill you, bitch!”

    At the moment of the shot, Chep­ovsky cov­ered his head with his arms crossed, which saved him. The bul­let stuck in the palms, but the killer in a hur­ry decid­ed that the ensign was shot, and ran away. After the inci­dent, the car Mit­subishi Pajero Wag­on left Kiev.

    Elite evi­dence

    The next day, the ori­en­ta­tion on the auto killers were in all the oper­a­tional reports of the coun­try’s pow­er struc­tures. But to find a for­eign car and its pas­sen­gers failed. And soon in Ukraine the pow­er was changed. The inves­ti­ga­tion into the killing of traf­fic cops ini­tial­ly stood at the fore­front of the pros­e­cu­tor’s office of the cap­i­tal, and detec­tives dug up a num­ber of icon­ic details.

    First, accord­ing to the source “Vesti” in the pros­e­cu­tor’s office in Kiev, they found out that the offend­er shot from a smooth-bore weapon. Despite the fact that in such cas­es it is almost impos­si­ble to estab­lish its exact char­ac­ter­is­tics, foren­sic experts have iden­ti­fied some of the ele­ments of the released ammu­ni­tion: a car­tridge case, a bul­let and a car­tridge.

    In par­tic­u­lar, we are talk­ing about the Ital­ian-made pool Gua­lan­di. This ammu­ni­tion is char­ac­ter­ized by increased accu­ra­cy and destruc­tive pow­er, is very expen­sive and is used only by wealthy own­ers of elite hunt­ing rifles. So it could hard­ly be used in protest actions by ordi­nary ral­ly par­tic­i­pants.

    By the way, accord­ing to Vesti, in oth­er cas­es of crimes on Euro­maid­an, inves­ti­ga­tors have nev­er encoun­tered the use of this bul­let — the demon­stra­tors were treat­ed with an ordi­nary can­is­ter.

    Sec­ond­ly, the inves­ti­ga­tors man­aged to swin­dle a mobile phone that “rolled” in a for­eign car of crim­i­nals. Thanks to what they found out: around mid­night on Feb­ru­ary 18, Mit­subishi left the ter­ri­to­ry of Maid­an Neza­lezh­nos­ti. And after the mas­sacre of the police he went to Odessa and Transnis­tria. More­over, a lit­tle lat­er, it became known about who the attack­ers who shot the patrol were talk­ing to.

    This prob­a­bly explains the fact that, despite the oppo­si­tion of the new gov­ern­ment with the secu­ri­ty forces on Euro Maid­an, the dead traf­fic cops became almost the only among law enforce­ment offi­cers who were giv­en a mem­o­rable sign in May 2014 as vic­tims of Maid­an and were posthu­mous­ly assigned new ranks. Rel­a­tives of the patrol offi­cers received finan­cial assis­tance. For exam­ple, the Rinat Akhme­tov Foun­da­tion paid the Sav­it­sky fam­i­ly a reward of 200 thou­sand UAH.

    Why did peo­ple who at that time were on guard of the “evil Vla­dy” deserve such hon­ors? Per­haps some­one thus con­vinced the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims and Roman Chep­ovsky to for­get about what had hap­pened, not to push for the end of the inves­ti­ga­tion and the pun­ish­ment of the guilty.

    Sub­scriber unavail­able

    Indi­rect­ly, this ver­sion is con­firmed by the decryp­tion of tele­phone con­ver­sa­tions, which were record­ed by the secu­ri­ty forces by billing the tube, which was locat­ed in the Mit­subishi salon. Accord­ing to this doc­u­ment, short­ly after the exe­cu­tion of the cops, this num­ber was dialed by at least two sig­nif­i­cant sub­scribers.

    At first, they talked about some­thing with a for­mer jour­nal­ist, and now an influ­en­tial peo­ple’s deputy from the Pop­u­lar Front. The sec­ond con­ver­sa­tion was with the par­lia­men­tar­i­an, who is con­sid­ered the patron of this jour­nal­ist in the “Pop­u­lar Front”. Imme­di­ate­ly after Euro­maid­an, he became one of the top offi­cials of the state, and today he heads a sta­tus par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee.

    Vesti does not give the names and sur­names of these peo­ple, because, despite numer­ous attempts, it was not pos­si­ble to get their com­ments to the pub­li­ca­tion. How­ev­er, in this sto­ry there is anoth­er influ­en­tial and not less sig­nif­i­cant fig­ure for the destruc­tive work — the ex-advis­er to the head of the Min­istry of Inter­nal Affairs, par­lia­men­tar­i­an from the Pop­u­lar Front, Anton Gerashchenko.

    The unspo­ken inves­tiga­tive actions, the nuances of which became known to Vesti, showed: after talk­ing with the Mit­subishi crim­i­nals, the “well-known sub­scribers” called Gerashchenko and asked for help to get out of the scan­dalous sto­ry. But Gerashchenko him­self does not con­firm this infor­ma­tion.

    “ I know about this case only from the media ‚” he told “Vesti.” — On Feb­ru­ary 19, 2014, I was not an advis­er to Arsen Avakov and could not be aware of the ques­tion. Let those who talk about this, at least call the num­ber that I used it then. It’s some kind of provo­ca­tion or a fake. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I don’t remem­ber all the crimes on Maid­an . ”

    Crime with­out pun­ish­ment

    Inves­ti­ga­tors of the pros­e­cu­tor’s office of Kiev, in whose hands until the spring of 2014 the case of the shoot­ing of the traf­fic police crew, argued: it was at that moment that they revealed the like­ly “spike” of the lead­ers of the Maid­an with the pas­sen­gers of the car, from which the traf­fic cops were shot, demand­ed by the high­er author­i­ties. His fate is a mys­tery.

    Vesti con­tact­ed the head of the Depart­ment of Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions of the GPU, Sergey Gor­batyuk, but he said: the case of the mur­der of Sav­it­sky and Yev­tushk had nev­er been sub­mit­ted to his unit.

    “ At first, we were solemn­ly tried to con­vince us that, in par­al­lel with this car, anoth­er per­son was alleged­ly being car­ried a wound­ed man from Maid­an, and there is noth­ing more than a coin­ci­dence in geolo­ca­tion ‚” a source in the cap­i­tal’s prosecutor’s office, famil­iar with the case mate­ri­als, tells “Vesti”. “This ver­sion is not con­firmed. At the same time, we had oper­a­tional infor­ma­tion that in fact on this Mit­subishi drove a brigade of killers from Maid­an. Those who, accord­ing to our data, par­tic­i­pat­ed in the clash­es dur­ing the storm­ing of the office of the Par­ty of Regions and in arson Hous­es trade unions. It is pos­si­ble that these crim­i­nals fled to Transnis­tria in the future. Since it was the city where the traf­fic cop killer went through Odessa. We tracked his move­ments. But, unfor­tu­nate­ly, we were not allowed to con­tin­ue inves­ti­gat­ing this case . ”

    Now the Nation­al Police is inves­ti­gat­ing the case of the police­men. The press ser­vice of this depart­ment on the request of “Vesti” to com­ment on the progress of the inves­ti­ga­tion answered very briefly: ” The inves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ues. Cur­rent­ly, any of the defen­dants on the sus­pi­cion was not announced .” The ques­tion of who of the defen­dants to whom and when he called remained unan­swered.

    In total, dur­ing the hottest phase of the Maid­an, from Jan­u­ary 24 to Feb­ru­ary 21, 2014, 16 law enforce­ment offi­cers were killed in Kiev dur­ing exe­cu­tion. In none of these cas­es, the per­pe­tra­tors of the death of the police were nev­er brought to jus­tice, experts under­line.

    On these inves­ti­ga­tions, the new lead­er­ship of the GPU and the Min­istry of Inter­nal Affairs delib­er­ate­ly placed a cross, accord­ing to for­mer high-rank­ing secu­ri­ty offi­cials polled by Vesti. For exam­ple, Max­im Mogilnit­sky, the for­mer deputy pros­e­cu­tor of Kiev, who held this post at the time of Euro­maid­an.

    ” I will not ana­lyze the numer­ous pre­ten­tious tirades of high-rank­ing talk­ers, for there is no truth, no more sin­cer­i­ty, and they can­not be sin­cere ‚” he sums up. ” I can only agree. If the mur­ders of pro­test­ers are inves­ti­gat­ed, let the results instead of answers, there are more and more new ques­tions, — there is no progress at all in inves­ti­ga­tions into the killings of police­men . ”

    ———–

    “The fir­ing squad. How mur­ders in the days of Maid­an are con­nect­ed with peo­ple’s deputies” by Dmit­ry Egorov; vesti-ukr.com; 02/07/2019

    “Feb­ru­ary 18–19 marks five years of the most sig­nif­i­cant moment of the Maid­an — its cli­max, mass exe­cu­tion on the Maid­an. How­ev­er, few peo­ple note that on the same night, unknown per­sons shot the traf­fic police on the Simirenko street. Five years lat­er, the killer of the police is still not installed. “Vesti” man­aged to get exclu­sive infor­ma­tion on the progress of the inves­ti­ga­tion of the crim­i­nal case and find out that the for­mer lead­ers of the Maid­an can cov­er the crim­i­nals.”

    Five years lat­er, and like so much of the events of that peri­od the inves­ti­ga­tion of the killing of the traf­fic police remains unre­solved. But it sounds like Vesti-Ukr has some exclu­sive inside infor­ma­tion on that inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Inter­est­ing­ly, the sole sur­viv­ing traf­fic police crew mem­ber, Roman Chep­ovsky, left Kiev and cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly refus­es to talk to jour­nal­ists:

    ...
    Why is the sur­vivor silent

    The night of Feb­ru­ary 18–19, 2014 was one of the hottest in the his­to­ry of Euro­maid­an. In the after­noon, the pro­test­ers seized the cen­tral office of the Par­ty of Regions on Lip­ki, and in the evening a fire broke out in the House of Trade Unions dur­ing an attempt to storm it.

    At this time, far from the main events, on the out­skirts of the cap­i­tal Borschagov­ka, a tragedy occurred: two unknown per­sons shot the crew of the traf­fic police. Ensign Peter Sav­it­sky and Senior Lieu­tenant Vladimir Yev­tushok died on the spot. The third patrol­man, ensign Roman Chep­ovsky, mirac­u­lous­ly sur­vived.

    Lat­er, the two dead police­men were called the vic­tims of the “titush­ki” and added to the lists of the Heav­en­ly Hun­dreds. Chep­ovsky left Kiev and cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly refus­es to talk with jour­nal­ists.

    Why is he silent? As Vesti man­aged to find out, inves­ti­gat­ing an armed attack on the traf­fic police offi­cers, detec­tives of the Moscow pros­e­cu­tor’s office built a chain that could lead to a direct link between the killers and the orga­niz­ers of the protests on Euro­maid­an. Today, these peo­ple are not with­out rea­son con­sid­ered the “pil­lars” of the new Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment, and it is pos­si­ble that they sim­ply try to hush up the inves­ti­ga­tion.
    ...

    And while the shoot­ing took place far from the Maid­an square, the tim­ing of the shoot­ing is quite sus­pi­cious in rela­tions to the evens that were tak­ing place dur­ing that time. ON Feb­ru­ary 18, in response to the sniper attacks against the pro­tes­tors, a group of pro­tes­tors seized the man­sion of the Par­ty of Regions, result­ing in mul­ti­ple shoot­ings and deaths. Recall Pro­fes­sor Katchanovski’s third tweet: “Female par­lia­ment deputy descrip­tion match­es ex-far right activist, who was cast as Maid­an hero & vic­tim & was involved in dead­ly attack of Par­ty of Regions head­quar­ters. Her patron descrip­tion match­es Maid­an leader who was filmed evac­u­at­ing per­son with rifle dur­ing mas­sacre.”:

    ...
    Up to the out­skirts

    The shoot­ing of the crew in Svy­atoshin­sky dis­trict occurred far from the epi­cen­ter of the events of Feb­ru­ary 2014, but fits into the gen­er­al con­text of the events in Kiev. Feb­ru­ary 18, pro­test­ers of the Maid­an went on the next assault on gov­ern­ment agen­cies. At this point, the main stand­off for more than a month was con­cen­trat­ed at the entrance to the Dynamo sta­di­um on Gru­shevsko­go street. At the same time, the tac­tics of the oppo­si­tion­ists changed — they by all means tried to approach the walls of the Verk­hov­na Rada. Events took an uncon­trolled turn.

    On the same day, a large-scale mas­sacre took place in the Mari­in­sky Park with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of “Euro­maid­anovt­sy”, sup­port­ers of Anti-Maid­an and law enforce­ment offi­cers. As a result, the pro­test­ers seized the man­sion of the Par­ty of Regions. As a result of the bout, two peo­ple died, dozens were shot and wound­ed.

    The same evening, the secu­ri­ty forces received a com­mand to sweep the Maid­an: armored per­son­nel car­ri­ers appeared in the cen­ter of the city, the sub­way stopped work­ing. The impres­sion that the pro­test­ers are about to dozh­mut. But peo­ple in uni­form unex­pect­ed­ly retreat­ed to their for­mer posi­tions.

    Post fac­tum will be aware of the num­ber of vic­tims on both sides. Doc­tors have wit­nessed the death of two dozen peo­ple. Just at this moment, the crew of the Solomen­skiy traf­fic police, who was unsus­pect­ing about a grand bat­tle in the cen­ter of the cap­i­tal, took over duty. Star­ley Yev­tushok, and with him pra­por Stavit­sky and Chep­ovsky habit­u­al­ly got into the ser­vice Dae­woo Lanos.
    ...

    So at about 12:40 am on Feb 19th, the three traf­fic police tried to pull over a Mit­subishi Pajero Wag­on. The Mit­subishi did­n’t stop and a chase ensued that last about half hour. Then the Mit­subishi sud­den­ly stops at 1:04 AM and the result­ing events are caught on the police car’s video record­ing. A man gets out of the Mit­subishi and shoots and kills two of the offi­cers. The shoot­er than dis­arms Chep­ovsky in the back of police car, Chep­ovsky cov­ers his head with his arms, and the shoot­er shoots him, hit­ting him in the palms, and leav­ing him for dead. But Chep­ovsky sur­vives:

    ...
    “Now we will kill you, bitch­es”

    Accord­ing to the offi­cial ver­sion of the devel­op­ment of events, already on Feb­ru­ary 19, at about 00:40 o’clock, on the Otrad­ny prospect of the cap­i­tal “Gayt­sy” noticed a Mit­subishi Pajero Wag­on with state num­ber AA 2291 IA. Fur­ther exam­i­na­tion will show that the num­bers on this machine were “left”. But the crew did not know about it and, rely­ing only on pro­fes­sion­al flair, asked the car to stop through the loud­speak­er.

    On the walkie-talkie, traf­fic cops report­ed that Mit­subishi had ignored their request. The pur­suit of a poten­tial intrud­er began, which last­ed about half an hour. The end occurred at 01:04 on Simirenko Street, where the SUV braked sharply. Twen­ty meters behind him, the traf­fic police stopped.

    Fur­ther events were cap­tured by the Dae­woo Lanos DVR. A man in a sheep­skin coat, who was in the rear pas­sen­ger seat, came out of Mit­subishi and fired in the direc­tion of the auto law enforce­ment offi­cers, more­over, apt­ly.

    The very first bul­let land­ed right in the head Yev­tush­ka, who a sec­ond before that jumped out of the cab­in. The attack­er made a series of new shots and struck down to death Sav­it­sky, who was sit­ting behind the wheel. Then the killer heads to the police car, where Chep­ovsky tried to avoid shots in the back­seat.

    The killer took away a stand­ing weapon from Chep­ovsky and sent a bar­rel to his head. Accord­ing to the inves­ti­ga­tion, the sur­vivor lat­er said that at that moment he heard someone’s com­mand: “Stop it!” And on the air through the includ­ed police radio from the street, anoth­er phrase slipped: “Now we will kill you, bitch!”

    At the moment of the shot, Chep­ovsky cov­ered his head with his arms crossed, which saved him. The bul­let stuck in the palms, but the killer in a hur­ry decid­ed that the ensign was shot, and ran away. After the inci­dent, the car Mit­subishi Pajero Wag­on left Kiev.
    ...

    Inter­est­ing­ly, evi­dence at the scene points towards the shoot­er using an Ital­ian-made rifle known for its accu­ra­cy and destruc­tive pow­er which is very expen­sive and used only be wealthy own­ers of elite hunt­ing rifles. In oth­er words, it sounds like a great rifle to use for a covert sniper attack:

    ...
    Elite evi­dence

    The next day, the ori­en­ta­tion on the auto killers were in all the oper­a­tional reports of the coun­try’s pow­er struc­tures. But to find a for­eign car and its pas­sen­gers failed. And soon in Ukraine the pow­er was changed. The inves­ti­ga­tion into the killing of traf­fic cops ini­tial­ly stood at the fore­front of the pros­e­cu­tor’s office of the cap­i­tal, and detec­tives dug up a num­ber of icon­ic details.

    First, accord­ing to the source “Vesti” in the pros­e­cu­tor’s office in Kiev, they found out that the offend­er shot from a smooth-bore weapon. Despite the fact that in such cas­es it is almost impos­si­ble to estab­lish its exact char­ac­ter­is­tics, foren­sic experts have iden­ti­fied some of the ele­ments of the released ammu­ni­tion: a car­tridge case, a bul­let and a car­tridge.

    In par­tic­u­lar, we are talk­ing about the Ital­ian-made pool Gua­lan­di. This ammu­ni­tion is char­ac­ter­ized by increased accu­ra­cy and destruc­tive pow­er, is very expen­sive and is used only by wealthy own­ers of elite hunt­ing rifles. So it could hard­ly be used in protest actions by ordi­nary ral­ly par­tic­i­pants.

    By the way, accord­ing to Vesti, in oth­er cas­es of crimes on Euro­maid­an, inves­ti­ga­tors have nev­er encoun­tered the use of this bul­let — the demon­stra­tors were treat­ed with an ordi­nary can­is­ter.
    ...

    Then there’s the evi­dence col­lect­ed based on cell­phone data. It’s unclear from the trans­la­tion how exact­ly this data was col­lect­ed, but it sounds like the data pro­vid­ed inves­ti­ga­tors with knowl­edge of who the attack­ers were talk­ing to on the phone. Short­ly after the killing of the police, the num­ber for the mobile phone that was iden­ti­fied as being in the Mit­subishi was dialed by two sig­nif­i­cant fig­ures with the Maid­an oppo­si­tion. And decrypt­ed record­ed con­ver­sa­tions indi­cate that they they talked about some­thing with a for­mer jour­nal­ist who is now an influ­en­tial peo­ple’s deputy from the Pop­u­lar Front par­ty:

    ...
    Sec­ond­ly, the inves­ti­ga­tors man­aged to swin­dle a mobile phone that “rolled” in a for­eign car of crim­i­nals. Thanks to what they found out: around mid­night on Feb­ru­ary 18, Mit­subishi left the ter­ri­to­ry of Maid­an Neza­lezh­nos­ti. And after the mas­sacre of the police he went to Odessa and Transnis­tria. More­over, a lit­tle lat­er, it became known about who the attack­ers who shot the patrol were talk­ing to.

    This prob­a­bly explains the fact that, despite the oppo­si­tion of the new gov­ern­ment with the secu­ri­ty forces on Euro Maid­an, the dead traf­fic cops became almost the only among law enforce­ment offi­cers who were giv­en a mem­o­rable sign in May 2014 as vic­tims of Maid­an and were posthu­mous­ly assigned new ranks. Rel­a­tives of the patrol offi­cers received finan­cial assis­tance. For exam­ple, the Rinat Akhme­tov Foun­da­tion paid the Sav­it­sky fam­i­ly a reward of 200 thou­sand UAH.

    Why did peo­ple who at that time were on guard of the “evil Vla­dy” deserve such hon­ors? Per­haps some­one thus con­vinced the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims and Roman Chep­ovsky to for­get about what had hap­pened, not to push for the end of the inves­ti­ga­tion and the pun­ish­ment of the guilty.

    Sub­scriber unavail­able

    Indi­rect­ly, this ver­sion is con­firmed by the decryp­tion of tele­phone con­ver­sa­tions, which were record­ed by the secu­ri­ty forces by billing the tube, which was locat­ed in the Mit­subishi salon. Accord­ing to this doc­u­ment, short­ly after the exe­cu­tion of the cops, this num­ber was dialed by at least two sig­nif­i­cant sub­scribers.

    At first, they talked about some­thing with a for­mer jour­nal­ist, and now an influ­en­tial peo­ple’s deputy from the Pop­u­lar Front. The sec­ond con­ver­sa­tion was with the par­lia­men­tar­i­an, who is con­sid­ered the patron of this jour­nal­ist in the “Pop­u­lar Front”. Imme­di­ate­ly after Euro­maid­an, he became one of the top offi­cials of the state, and today he heads a sta­tus par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee.
    ...

    Keep in mind that “Pop­u­lar Front” is like­ly a ref­er­ence to the Peo­ple’s Front par­ty, which had found­ing mem­bers that includ­ed a num­ber of far right fig­ures like Andriy Paru­biy and Arsen Avakov. And that makes the for­mer jour­nal­ist-turned par­lia­ment mem­ber like­ly Iry­na Herashchenko, who ran as a Peo­ple’s Front can­di­date in 2014. But that’s spec­u­la­tion at this point since Vesti-Ukr unfor­tu­nate­ly won’t give the names of the peo­ple they iden­ti­fied in their inves­ti­ga­tion because they could­n’t get these indi­vid­u­als to pro­vide a com­ment before pub­li­ca­tion. So hope­ful­ly there’s a fol­low report on that. But they did name far right par­lia­men­tar­i­an Anton Gerashchenko as some­one who the two “sig­nif­i­cant fig­ures” called ask­ing for help regard­ing to how to get out of this sit­u­a­tion with the killing of the traf­fic cops:

    ...
    Vesti does not give the names and sur­names of these peo­ple, because, despite numer­ous attempts, it was not pos­si­ble to get their com­ments to the pub­li­ca­tion. How­ev­er, in this sto­ry there is anoth­er influ­en­tial and not less sig­nif­i­cant fig­ure for the destruc­tive work — the ex-advis­er to the head of the Min­istry of Inter­nal Affairs, par­lia­men­tar­i­an from the Pop­u­lar Front, Anton Gerashchenko.

    The unspo­ken inves­tiga­tive actions, the nuances of which became known to Vesti, showed: after talk­ing with the Mit­subishi crim­i­nals, the “well-known sub­scribers” called Gerashchenko and asked for help to get out of the scan­dalous sto­ry. But Gerashchenko him­self does not con­firm this infor­ma­tion.

    “ I know about this case only from the media ‚” he told “Vesti.” — On Feb­ru­ary 19, 2014, I was not an advis­er to Arsen Avakov and could not be aware of the ques­tion. Let those who talk about this, at least call the num­ber that I used it then. It’s some kind of provo­ca­tion or a fake. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I don’t remem­ber all the crimes on Maid­an . ”
    ...

    Notably, accord­ing to a source in the Kiev pros­e­cu­tor’s office famil­iar with the case mate­ri­als, “we had oper­a­tional infor­ma­tion that in fact on this Mit­subishi drove a brigade of killers from Maid­an.” And they tied these fig­ures to the peo­ple involved in the ran­sack­ing of the Par­ty of Regions man­sion. But they were not allowed to con­tin­ue inves­ti­gat­ing the case:

    ...
    Crime with­out pun­ish­ment

    Inves­ti­ga­tors of the pros­e­cu­tor’s office of Kiev, in whose hands until the spring of 2014 the case of the shoot­ing of the traf­fic police crew, argued: it was at that moment that they revealed the like­ly “spike” of the lead­ers of the Maid­an with the pas­sen­gers of the car, from which the traf­fic cops were shot, demand­ed by the high­er author­i­ties. His fate is a mys­tery.

    Vesti con­tact­ed the head of the Depart­ment of Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions of the GPU, Sergey Gor­batyuk, but he said: the case of the mur­der of Sav­it­sky and Yev­tushk had nev­er been sub­mit­ted to his unit.

    “ At first, we were solemn­ly tried to con­vince us that, in par­al­lel with this car, anoth­er per­son was alleged­ly being car­ried a wound­ed man from Maid­an, and there is noth­ing more than a coin­ci­dence in geolo­ca­tion ‚” a source in the cap­i­tal’s prosecutor’s office, famil­iar with the case mate­ri­als, tells “Vesti”. “This ver­sion is not con­firmed. At the same time, we had oper­a­tional infor­ma­tion that in fact on this Mit­subishi drove a brigade of killers from Maid­an. Those who, accord­ing to our data, par­tic­i­pat­ed in the clash­es dur­ing the storm­ing of the office of the Par­ty of Regions and in arson Hous­es trade unions. It is pos­si­ble that these crim­i­nals fled to Transnis­tria in the future. Since it was the city where the traf­fic cop killer went through Odessa. We tracked his move­ments. But, unfor­tu­nate­ly, we were not allowed to con­tin­ue inves­ti­gat­ing this case . ”
    ...

    Instead, it’s the Nation­al Police who are inves­ti­gat­ing the case of the mur­dered traf­fic cops. Accord­ing to them, the inves­ti­gaiton con­tin­ues and no sus­pects have been announced. Recall that this was what Katchanovski’s sec­ond above tweet was describ­ing:

    ...
    Now the Nation­al Police is inves­ti­gat­ing the case of the police­men. The press ser­vice of this depart­ment on the request of “Vesti” to com­ment on the progress of the inves­ti­ga­tion answered very briefly: ” The inves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ues. Cur­rent­ly, any of the defen­dants on the sus­pi­cion was not announced .” The ques­tion of who of the defen­dants to whom and when he called remained unan­swered.
    ...

    So it sure sounds like some­one in the Kiev pros­e­cu­tor’s office want­ed to expose how the inves­ti­ga­tion of this case — which points towards lead­ers of the Maid­an being involved with the sniper attacks and being respon­si­ble for the bru­tal mur­der of two traf­fic cops and the attempt­ed mur­der of a third cop — is being sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly sup­pressed by inves­ti­ga­tors. And that’s all part of the con­text of the strange dec­la­ra­tion by Yuri Lut­senko about end­ing of offi­cial inves­ti­ga­tion which was con­tra­dict­ed only a cou­ple days lat­er by the Chief of the Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment. A con­text that hints at a num­ber of divi­sions with­in the pros­e­cu­tor’s office, which prob­a­bly isn’t very sur­pris­ing giv­en that the office appear to be about to pull off a mas­sive cov­er-up.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 12, 2019, 4:42 pm
  9. Here’s an inter­est­ing new detail relat­ed to the Maid­an protests that Andriy Paru­biy — co-founder of Ukraine’s Nazi par­ty who is now chair­man of the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment — revealed in an inter­view back in Octo­ber that should be kept in mind regard­ing the grow­ing evi­dence that the sniper attacks were exe­cut­ed by far right forces: Paru­biy, who led the Maid­an pro­test­ers’ armed forces, acknowl­edged that there was a “Plan B” if the Maid­an protests were suc­cess­ful­ly quelled: relo­cate to Lviv and set up a resis­tance head­quar­ters there. As Paru­biy put it, “Since all coun­cils and local admin­is­tra­tions in West­ern Ukraine were under our con­trol, we were to orga­nize resis­tance there, in Lviv.”

    So while the cur­rent out­break of sep­a­ratism and civ­il war in East­ern Ukraine was direct result of the col­lapse of the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment and its replace­ment with a vir­u­lent­ly anti-eth­nic Russ­ian gov­ern­ment, it sounds like there still would have been civ­il war if the Maid­an protests had­n’t suc­ceed­ed, but it would have been a Lviv-led sep­a­ratist state based in West­ern Ukraine:

    Unian.info

    Paru­biy reveals some Maid­an lead­ers had Plan B
    The back­up plan was to set up pop­u­lar resis­tance in West­ern Ukraine’s Lviv.

    15:00, 02 Octo­ber 2018

    Chair­man of the Verk­hov­na Rada Andriy Paru­biy, who at the time of the Euro­maid­an led the pro­test­ers’ self-defense forces, says the activists had a back­up plan in case they failed to hold their ground at Kyiv’s cen­tral square..

    “When the shoot­ing began, there were no dis­cus­sions any­more – there was fight­ing. The first deaths were some­thing incred­i­bly hard. Many wound­ed, many killed.... It was a great tragedy, but our goal was to hold our ground at the Maid­an. Nobody knows this but I’ll say this for the first time: there was a back­up plan – to move to West­ern Ukraine if the Maid­an fails to hold on,” Paru­biy said in an inter­view with Ukrayin­s­ka Prav­da.

    Accord­ing to the Rada Speak­er, the back­up plan was to set up pop­u­lar resis­tance in Lviv.

    “Since all coun­cils and local admin­is­tra­tions in West­ern Ukraine were under our con­trol, we were to orga­nize resis­tance there, in Lviv. When I was admit­ted to a hos­pi­tal after being wound­ed and gas-poi­soned late Feb­ru­ary 18, I received a mes­sage: ‘Andriy, don’t return to the Maid­an, imme­di­ate­ly head to Lviv and set up head­quar­ters there,’ ” Paru­biy said.

    He refused to tell the pub­li­ca­tion who was the one who wrote the mes­sage, only assur­ing that he decid­ed not to give up the fight in Kyiv.

    “I will not call out the name. I said: ‘This is my Maid­an, I won’t go any­where.’ I got off the drop­pers and returned to the Maid­an. All our efforts were aimed at hold­ing ground,” Paru­biy said.

    “The idea of mov­ing to Lviv was spun in a very nar­row cir­cle. And I don’t even know if I’m being polit­i­cal­ly cor­rect enough when I talk about this. Had we been crushed by tanks back then, we should have retreat­ed. But we could­n’t just go away,” he added.

    ...

    ———–

    “Paru­biy reveals some Maid­an lead­ers had Plan B”; Unian.info; 10/02/2018

    ““Since all coun­cils and local admin­is­tra­tions in West­ern Ukraine were under our con­trol, we were to orga­nize resis­tance there, in Lviv. When I was admit­ted to a hos­pi­tal after being wound­ed and gas-poi­soned late Feb­ru­ary 18, I received a mes­sage: ‘Andriy, don’t return to the Maid­an, imme­di­ate­ly head to Lviv and set up head­quar­ters there,’ ” Paru­biy said.”

    The back­up plan was to set up pop­u­lar resis­tance in Lviv. And giv­en that Paru­biy was the head of the armed resis­tance for the Maid­an pro­tes­tors it’s hard to imag­ine that the pop­u­lar resis­tance in Lviv woudl­n’t have been armed resis­tance.

    It’s also worth not­ing how Paru­biy’s account of being injured in the hos­pi­tal and gas-poi­soned in late Feb­ru­ary 18, 2014, and receiv­ing a mes­sage from an unnamed indi­vid­ual telling him to not return to the Maid­an and instead head to Lviv and set up a resis­tance head­quar­ters there might relate to the emerg­ing sto­ry from Vesti-Ukr about the killing of two traf­fic police just after mid­night on Feb­ru­ary 19th and how evi­dence sug­gests the killers were involved with the sniper attacks and in phone con­tact with two impor­tant Maid­an fig­ures.

    First, recall how Vesti-Ukr revealed that two phone num­bers called the cell­phone believed to be in the killer’s vehi­cle short­ly after the killing of the police. The con­ver­sa­tions includ­ed “a for­mer jour­nal­ist, and now an influ­en­tial people’s deputy from the Pop­u­lar Front,” and that appears to fit the descrip­tion of Iry­na Herashchenko.

    The sec­ond per­son who called the killer’s cell­phone was described as a “par­lia­men­tar­i­an, who is con­sid­ered the patron of this jour­nal­ist in the “Pop­u­lar Front”. Imme­di­ate­ly after Euro­maid­an, he became one of the top offi­cials of the state, and today he heads a sta­tus par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee.” And that sounds a lot like a descrip­tion of Paru­biy! Also note that Herashchenko is the first deputy chair­woman of the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment, so she pre­sum­ably works pret­ty close­ly with Paru­biy, the cur­rent chair­man.

    So that’s all some­thing to keep in mind regard­ing the Maid­an sniper attacks: based on the avail­able evi­dence, Paru­biy was like­ly in con­tact with the traf­fic cop killers and he already had a “Plan B” of turn­ing Lviv into a hub of resis­tance.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 13, 2019, 12:29 pm
  10. Petro Poroshenko was just sum­moned to the Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al’s Office in rela­tion to the ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion into the Maid­an sniper attacks. He is sup­posed to show up on May 7th, although it’s not known if Poroshenko will actu­al­ly show up. Inter­est­ing­ly, if he does show he’s not just going to be answer­ing ques­tions as a wit­ness to the attacks. He’s also going to be belat­ed­ly sign­ing the doc­u­ments from an inter­ro­ga­tion report that he gave in 2016 about the case. The Chief of the Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment of the Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al’s Office (PGO) of Ukraine, Ser­hiy Hor­batiuk, explains that Poroshenko’s 2016 inter­ro­ga­tion was record­ed on vieo, and lat­er tran­scribed, but inves­ti­ga­tors nev­er man­aged to sub­se­quent­ly meet with Poroshenko so he could sign the pro­to­col with the tran­scribed inter­view.

    Keep in mind this is all hap­pen­ing not long after Poroshenko lost the recent elec­tions in a land­slide, so there’s the ques­tion of whether or not there’s an attempt to com­plete this ques­tion­ing of Poroshenko while he’s still in office but also the ques­tion of whether or not this inves­ti­ga­tion is going to become part of some sort of pow­er strug­gle. After all, giv­en the explo­sive nature of this case it could be incred­i­bly use­ful for deal­ing with polit­i­cal oppo­nents if your oppo­nents hap­pen to have been impli­cat­ed in the sniper attacks. So this is going to be a case to watch, whether or not Poroshenko shows up for the actu­al ques­tion­ing:

    UNIAN

    Spe­cial inves­ti­ga­tor Hor­batiuk: Poroshenko sum­moned for inter­ro­ga­tion on May 7 16:07, 06 May 2019

    Poroshenko must come to the PGO’s Main Inves­ti­ga­tion Depart­ment on Borysohlib­s­ka Street in Kyiv at 10:00 on May 7.

    16:07, 06 May 2019

    Chief of the Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment of the Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al’s Office (PGO) of Ukraine Ser­hiy Hor­batiuk has said incum­bent Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko was sum­moned to the PGO for inter­ro­ga­tion as a wit­ness in the Maid­an case.

    Accord­ing to him, Poroshenko must come to the PGO’s Main Inves­ti­ga­tion Depart­ment on Borysohlib­s­ka Street in Kyiv at 10:00 on May 7.

    Poroshenko must sign an inter­ro­ga­tion report of 2016, as well as answer a num­ber of ques­tions relat­ing to the inves­ti­ga­tion of crim­i­nal cas­es about crimes against par­tic­i­pants in the Rev­o­lu­tion of Dig­ni­ty, Hor­batiuk said.

    Hor­batiuk explained why the inter­ro­ga­tion report of 2016 had not been signed yet. Accord­ing to him, the inter­ro­ga­tion was record­ed on video then, and lat­er it was tran­scribed, but since 2016, the inves­ti­ga­tors have not man­aged to meet with Poroshenko so that he could sign the pro­to­col with the tran­scribed inter­view.

    The pros­e­cu­tor also said he did not know whether Poroshenko would come tomor­row or not.

    ———-

    “Spe­cial inves­ti­ga­tor Hor­batiuk: Poroshenko sum­moned for inter­ro­ga­tion on May 7 16:07, 06 May 2019”; UNIAN; 05/06/2019

    “Chief of the Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment of the Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al’s Office (PGO) of Ukraine Ser­hiy Hor­batiuk has said incum­bent Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko was sum­moned to the PGO for inter­ro­ga­tion as a wit­ness in the Maid­an case.”

    Yep, Poroshenko is being sum­moned as a wit­ness. More than five years lat­er. But he’s also going to be sign­ing an ear­li­er inter­ro­ga­tion report from 2016 that was­n’t signed for some mys­te­ri­ous rea­son:

    ...
    Poroshenko must sign an inter­ro­ga­tion report of 2016, as well as answer a num­ber of ques­tions relat­ing to the inves­ti­ga­tion of crim­i­nal cas­es about crimes against par­tic­i­pants in the Rev­o­lu­tion of Dig­ni­ty, Hor­batiuk said.

    Hor­batiuk explained why the inter­ro­ga­tion report of 2016 had not been signed yet. Accord­ing to him, the inter­ro­ga­tion was record­ed on video then, and lat­er it was tran­scribed, but since 2016, the inves­ti­ga­tors have not man­aged to meet with Poroshenko so that he could sign the pro­to­col with the tran­scribed inter­view.
    ...

    And that’s pret­ty much every­thing we know at that point about Poroshenko get­ting sum­moned. The fact that the Maid­an sniper inves­ti­ga­tion is ongo­ing and has died a qui­et bureau­crat­ic death is, in itself, kind of big news giv­en how lit­tle we hear about it.

    But as pro­fes­sor Ivan Katchanovs­ki points out in tweet storm, there’s a lot more known about Poroshenko’s ties to the sniper attacks that has come out over the course of the inves­ti­ga­tion and the var­i­ous tes­ti­monies. Most of the sources he links to in his tweets are in Russ­ian or Ukrain­ian, but the tweets give us a gist of what’s been claimed. Here’s what Katchanovs­ki had to say on Twit­ter in response to the news of Poroshenko’s sum­mon­ing:

    Poroshenko is sum­moned by #Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al Office of #Ukraine to tes­ti­fy con­cern­ing #Maid­an mas­sacre. Sev­er­al #Maid­an activists stat­ed that he was involved in Maid­an mas­sacre, in par­tic­u­lar, evac­u­a­tion of some of snipers cap­tured by Maid­an pro­test­ers. https://t.co/UnOJfM5BIT— Ivan Katchanovs­ki (@I_Katchanovski) May 6, 2019

    Head of spe­cial divi­sion of Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al Office of #Ukraine reveals that Poroshenko refused to sign pro­to­col of his first inter­ro­ga­tion in 2016 con­cern­ing #Maid­an mas­sacre in spite of 7 requests. https://t.co/wnHjGfHq4x— Ivan Katchanovs­ki (@I_Katchanovski) May 6, 2019

    Ex leader of Right Sec­tor in Kyiv dis­trict pub­licly stat­ed that Right Sec­tor leader & Poroshenko evac­u­at­ed cap­tured snipers fol­low­ing #Maid­an mas­sacre. https://t.co/jgAuujYU3J (1:04:13)— Ivan Katchanovs­ki (@I_Katchanovski) May 6, 2019

    He said that his Zahra­va unit of the Right Sec­tor was giv­en an order to pro­tect the evac­u­at­ed snipers from the pro­test­ers. https://t.co/R7bfFD8VQE (8:45).— Ivan Katchanovs­ki (@I_Katchanovski) May 6, 2019

    Head of Patri­ot of Ukraine in Kyiv stat­ed on Face­book that snipers cap­tured by pro­test­ers, in par­tic­u­lar one cap­tured with his involve­ment in Svo­bo­da-booked room in Hotel Ukraina, were evac­u­at­ed by Poroshenko along with cap­tured Inter­nal Troops. (p. 57) https://t.co/4HVM9U1I1V— Ivan Katchanovs­ki (@I_Katchanovski) May 6, 2019

    A Maid­an Self-Defense activist stat­ed sep­a­rate­ly that he along with oth­er pro­test­ers con­front­ed Poroshenko and tried to stop this evac­u­a­tion of snipers who were cap­tured in the Hotel Ukraina and oth­er loca­tions. https://t.co/hZAb772ipM— Ivan Katchanovs­ki (@I_Katchanovski) May 6, 2019

    Videos show a con­fronta­tion between the pro­test­ers and the Maid­an lead­ers, such as Yarosh, Paru­biy, Svo­bo­da deputies, Poroshenko, Pashyn­sky, who pro­tect­ed and tried to evac­u­ate around 2:00 am on Feb­ru­ary 21, 2014 a few dozen of men. https://t.co/URzg7oYNja— Ivan Katchanovs­ki (@I_Katchanovski) May 6, 2019

    All of these evac­u­at­ed men, includ­ing cap­tured Inter­nal Troops sol­diers and offi­cers, were dressed in civil­ian clothes, and some of them had hair­cuts that were dif­fer­ent from mil­i­tary-style short hair­cuts of cap­tured Inter­nal Troops sol­diers and offi­cers. https://t.co/xWsyY3JSUu— Ivan Katchanovs­ki (@I_Katchanovski) May 6, 2019

    As of now, this pub­li­ca­tion by #Ukrain­ian news agency is the only Eng­lish-lan­guage media report on sum­mon­ing of Poroshenko to tes­ti­fy in the #Maid­an mas­sacre case by Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al Office of #Ukraine. https://t.co/54atFRtDak— Ivan Katchanovs­ki (@I_Katchanovski) May 6, 2019

    A Geor­gian ex-mil­i­tary tes­ti­fied in Israeli TV doc­u­men­tary that Poroshenko was sup­posed to pay him & oth­er Geor­gian snipers for the Maid­an mas­sacre in #Ukraine. https://t.co/Z5n7q6PK8y— Ivan Katchanovs­ki (@I_Katchanovski) May 6, 2019

    A Geor­gian ex-mil­i­tary tes­ti­fied in Israeli TV doc­u­men­tary that Poroshenko was sup­posed to pay him & oth­er Geor­gian snipers for the Maid­an mas­sacre in #Ukraine. https://t.co/Z5n7q6PK8y— Ivan Katchanovs­ki (@I_Katchanovski) May 6, 2019

    So based on Pro­fes­sor Katchanovski’s tweet storm, it sounds like there’s quite a bit under this rock. Like Poroshenko pay­ing off Geor­gian snipers and assist­ing in their evac­u­a­tions.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 6, 2019, 2:00 pm
  11. Here’s an update on the sum­mon­ing of Petro Poroshenko to the Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al’s Office for ques­tion­ing regard­ing the Maid­an sniper attacks: Poroshenko was a no show this morn­ing. And he has­n’t been in touch with inves­ti­ga­tors to either inform them that he would­n’t be com­ing or to resched­ule the ques­tion­ing. But as the head of the spe­cial inves­ti­ga­tions depart­ment, Ser­hiy Hor­batiuk, point­ed out, as long as Poroshenko is pres­i­dent he has no legal oblig­a­tion to respond to this sum­mon­ing. Once he’s out of office, how­ev­er, he can be com­pelled to do so. And that’s what the pros­e­cu­tors are plan­ning on doing at this point: wait­ing until Poroshenko is out of office and then apply to the court for com­pul­so­ry atten­dance:

    Inter­fax Ukraine

    Poroshenko fails to appear for ques­tion­ing in Maid­an case

    11:56 07.05.2019

    Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko has not appeared at the Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al’s Office (PGO) on Tues­day for ques­tion­ing in the Maid­an case, head of the PGO’s spe­cial inves­ti­ga­tions depart­ment Ser­hiy Hor­batiuk said.

    “Two weeks ago Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko was invit­ed for ques­tion­ing as a wit­ness at 10:00 today. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, as you see, he has not arrived for ques­tion­ing. No one was in touch with inves­ti­ga­tors to inform them he would not be com­ing or to ask to resched­ule ques­tion­ing,” Hor­batiuk said, not­ing that Poroshenko was sum­moned to the PGO in order for inves­ti­ga­tors to ask “addi­tion­al ques­tions about the events of Feb­ru­ary 18–19 [2014] and Decem­ber 1 [2013].”

    Hor­batiuk said in Novem­ber 2016 Poroshenko gave addi­tion­al evi­dence that he did not give dur­ing the first inter­ro­ga­tion.

    “For two years he did not sign the pro­to­col of the first inter­ro­ga­tion ... He was in a hur­ry and did not sign. He promised that he would sign the next day. We remind­ed him more than once, but he nev­er appeared. We will con­tin­ue sum­mon­ing him,” he said.

    Accord­ing to Hor­batiuk, they can­not make Poroshenko appear for sum­mon­ing because of pres­i­den­tial sta­tus.” If he repeat­ed­ly fails to appear, we’ll go to court to fine [him]. But until he has pres­i­den­tial sta­tus, com­pul­so­ry atten­dance is not applic­a­ble. When [his] pres­i­den­cy expires, we’ll apply to the court for com­pul­so­ry atten­dance,” he added.

    ...

    ———-

    “Poroshenko fails to appear for ques­tion­ing in Maid­an case”; Inter­fax Ukraine; 05/07/2019

    ““Two weeks ago Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko was invit­ed for ques­tion­ing as a wit­ness at 10:00 today. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, as you see, he has not arrived for ques­tion­ing. No one was in touch with inves­ti­ga­tors to inform them he would not be com­ing or to ask to resched­ule ques­tion­ing,” Hor­batiuk said, not­ing that Poroshenko was sum­moned to the PGO in order for inves­ti­ga­tors to ask “addi­tion­al ques­tions about the events of Feb­ru­ary 18–19 [2014] and Decem­ber 1 [2013].”

    It sure seems like Poroshenko is kind of a hos­tile wit­ness at this point. Is it that he does­n’t want to answer more ques­tions or does he real­ly not want to sign off on the answers he already gave in 2016? At this point we have no idea.

    And note how Poroshenko was going to be asked ques­tions about the events of Feb­ru­ary 18–19, 2014, and Decem­ber 1, 2013. That sug­gests inves­ti­ga­tors are still look­ing into the events that trig­gered the ini­tial Decem­ber 1 crack­down on pro­test­ers that trig­gered the larg­er protests. Recall how cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence points towards Paul Man­afort and Sergei Lovochkin play­ing a role in foment­ing and exploit­ing that crack­down, so it’s going to be inter­est­ing to see what addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion might come out about those events

    It’s also note­wor­thy that Poroshenko appar­ent­ly gave addi­tion­al evi­dence in 2016 that he did­n’t ini­tial­ly give. And it’s that 2016 inter­ro­ga­tion ses­sion that Poroshenko mys­te­ri­ous­ly has­n’t signed off on:

    ...
    Hor­batiuk said in Novem­ber 2016 Poroshenko gave addi­tion­al evi­dence that he did not give dur­ing the first inter­ro­ga­tion.

    “For two years he did not sign the pro­to­col of the first inter­ro­ga­tion ... He was in a hur­ry and did not sign. He promised that he would sign the next day. We remind­ed him more than once, but he nev­er appeared. We will con­tin­ue sum­mon­ing him,” he said.
    ...

    Adding to the intrigue is the fact that Poroshenko does­n’t have to actu­al­ly attend these inter­ro­ga­tions even when sum­moned, but only as long as he remains pres­i­dent. And pros­e­cu­tors are plan­ning on com­pelling his atten­dance once he’s no longer pres­i­dent. Keep in mind that Poroshenko’s term expires at the end of May:

    ...
    Accord­ing to Hor­batiuk, they can­not make Poroshenko appear for sum­mon­ing because of pres­i­den­tial sta­tus.” If he repeat­ed­ly fails to appear, we’ll go to court to fine [him]. But until he has pres­i­den­tial sta­tus, com­pul­so­ry atten­dance is not applic­a­ble. When [his] pres­i­den­cy expires, we’ll apply to the court for com­pul­so­ry atten­dance,” he added.
    ...

    That’s quite a show­down that we’re see­ing devel­op here.

    So it prob­a­bly should­n’t come as a sur­prise that, as hint­ed at in the fol­low­ing arti­cle from a few weeks ago, it turns out that Poroshenko does­n’t have a very good rela­tion­ship with head of the spe­cial inves­ti­ga­tions depart­ment Ser­hiy Hor­batiuk. Specif­i­cal­ly, Poroshenko was pub­licly blam­ing Hor­batiuk for the lack of progress on the inves­ti­ga­tion:

    UNIAN

    Poroshenko says progress in Maid­an killings probe dis­ap­point­ing

    In turn, chief of the inves­ti­ga­tion team Hor­batiuk said he had repeat­ed­ly stat­ed press­ing prob­lems in the case over the past years.

    12:20, 16 April 2019

    Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko says the rea­son for the delay in the probe into the killings of pro­test­ers at Kyiv’s Maid­an Neza­lezh­nos­ti Square dur­ing the Rev­o­lu­tion of Dig­ni­ty is the inef­fec­tive work of Chief of the Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment at the Gen­er­al Pros­e­cu­tor’s Office (PGO) of Ukraine, Ser­hiy Hor­batiuk.

    “I’m dis­sat­is­fied with the progress of the inves­ti­ga­tion into the death of the ‘Heav­en­ly Hun­dred’ heroes. I am empha­siz­ing this in pub­lic. And I know who is inves­ti­gat­ing [the case]. I am sure­ly dis­ap­point­ed in the qual­i­ty of the probe. And I empha­size the name of this pros­e­cu­tor, it’s Mr. Hor­batiuk,” he said on Ukraine’s ICTV chan­nel on April 15.

    In turn, Hor­batiuk told the Ukrain­ian news out­let Hro­madske that he had addressed the prob­lems in the inves­ti­ga­tion of the Maid­an cas­es over the past years.

    “I have been talk­ing about the prob­lems with the inves­ti­ga­tion for all these years, includ­ing about the respon­si­bil­i­ty of the head of state. And every­one whom I men­tioned had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to help in this process. But the pres­i­dent voiced the prob­lems and the per­sons respon­si­ble only dur­ing the elec­tion race. That’s the dif­fer­ence – who and when is con­cerned about the Maid­an case being inves­ti­gat­ed,” he said.

    Note­wor­thy, Hor­batiuk on Feb­ru­ary 19 said that the Gen­er­al Pros­e­cu­tor’s Office had report­ed sus­pi­cion notices to 66 per­sons accused of com­plic­i­ty in the Maid­an killings.

    ———-

    “Poroshenko says progress in Maid­an killings probe dis­ap­point­ing”; UNIAN; 04/16/2019

    “Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko says the rea­son for the delay in the probe into the killings of pro­test­ers at Kyiv’s Maid­an Neza­lezh­nos­ti Square dur­ing the Rev­o­lu­tion of Dig­ni­ty is the inef­fec­tive work of Chief of the Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment at the Gen­er­al Pros­e­cu­tor’s Office (PGO) of Ukraine, Ser­hiy Hor­batiuk.

    So Poroshenko placed the blame for the delay in the res­o­lu­tion of the inves­ti­ga­tion square­ly on Ser­hiy Hor­batiuk, and specif­i­cal­ly cit­ed the qual­i­ty of the probe for the delay. Then, about a week lat­er, Poroshenko gets sum­moned to the pros­e­cu­tors office in two weeks to answer more ques­tions and final­ly sign off on the inter­ro­ga­tion he gave in 2016. His sum­mon­ing is sched­uled for today but he’s a no show and does­n’t con­tact that pros­e­cu­tors office at all. Final­ly, we learn that pros­e­cu­tors are plan­ning on com­pelling him to show up and answer ques­tions once his term in office ends and that terms ends at the end of this month. Again, it’s quite a show­down devel­op­ing here. A show­down over the gath­er­ing evi­dence from one of the key wit­ness­es and key ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the vio­lence at the Maid­an.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 7, 2019, 2:27 pm

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