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FTR #916 Update on Fascism in Ukraine

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This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment [6].

Symon Petliura [7]

Symon Petliu­ra

Intro­duc­tion: Con­tin­u­ing cov­er­age of the re-emer­gence of fas­cism in Ukraine, this pro­gram high­lights the Orwellian aspects of gov­er­nance in Ukraine and the cov­er­age of events there by the world’s media. Ukraine recent­ly held a nation-wide minute of silence [8] for Symon Petliu­ra (as with oth­er Ukrain­ian names, the spelling of his name is sub­ject to vary­ing translit­er­a­tion.) In the imme­di­ate post-World War I peri­od, Petli­u­ra’s armies butchered some 50,000 Jews.

Also stun­ning, though pre­dictable under the cir­cum­stances, is the Poroshenko gov­ern­men­t’s renam­ing of streets for Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors Stephan Ban­dera and Roman Shukhevych. This has received scant, and alto­geth­er slant­ed cov­er­age in the West, with Ban­der­a’s well-doc­u­ment­ed alliance with Hitler being nuanced as “Krem­lin pro­pa­gan­da.” [9]

Loom­ing large in the back­ground of the whole­sale revi­sion­ism going on in Ukraine are the activ­i­ties of Volodomyr Via­tro­vych [10] and his “Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­o­ry.”

One of the per­ceived jour­nal­is­tic counter-weights to the ram­pant anti-Semit­ic and pro-Nazi revi­sion­ism dom­i­nat­ing Ukraine is the Jew­ish her­itage of the new prime min­is­ter Volodymir Groys­man. We note that Groys­man­’s law degree [11] was from MAUP uni­ver­si­ty, the well­spring [12] of Ukrain­ian anti-Semi­tism and an insti­tu­tion that fea­tured David Duke as a fac­ul­ty mem­ber.

Next, we exam­ine some of the “shared val­ues” that the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment has with the West. Much has been made of this illu­so­ry res­o­nance in the wake of the Maid­an coup.

In addi­tion to bar­ring U.N. observers [13] from inves­ti­gat­ing tor­ture that was appar­ent­ly com­mit­ted in Ukraine’s civ­il war, a web­site close­ly con­nect­ed to the gov­ern­ment has pub­lished the names and address­es [14] of jour­nal­ists who report­ed from the eth­nic-Russ­ian rebel-held East. Those jour­nal­ists were brand­ed as “ter­ror­ists,” a label that should be alarm­ing in light of the mur­der of a jour­nal­ist who had been sym­pa­thet­ic to the cause of the rebels.

Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, recently-resigned head of Ukrainian intelligence under Yuschenko and Poroshenko [15]

Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko, recent­ly-resigned head of Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence under Yuschenko and Poroshenko

Turn­ing to the sub­ject of the down­ing of Malaysian Air­lines Flight MH-17, we note that observers are view­ing much of the evi­dence [16] in the case with a jaun­diced eye, because of the fact that the SBU (Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence) was run by Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko, close­ly allied with Pravy Sek­tor (Right Sec­tor), one of the OUN/B heirs that assumed pow­er after the Maid­an coup. This taints the inves­ti­ga­tion, in the eyes of many.

The New York Times con­tin­ues its grotesque­ly slant­ed [17] cov­er­age of the down­ing of MH-17, pub­lish­ing an appar­ent­ly fraud­u­lent sto­ry about alleged Russ­ian fal­si­fi­ca­tion of Buk mis­sile launch­ers in Ukraine. The Dutch intel­li­gence ser­vice not­ed that only the Ukrain­ian military–not the eth­nic Russ­ian rebels in the East–possessed mis­siles capa­ble of shoot­ing down the plane.

The pro­gram con­cludes with updates on the pun­ish­er bat­tal­ions. These fas­cist fight­ing for­ma­tions are actu­al­ly used by the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment to cir­cum­vent the Min­sk II accords [18].

We end the pro­gram with a very reveal­ing sto­ry. Claim­ing that Con­gress­man John Con­vers (D‑MI) is a “Krem­lin dupe” for por­tray­ing the open­ly Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion as fas­cist, we note that the offi­cial spokesman [19] for the Azov Bat­tal­ion is Roman Zvarych. Zvarych was the per­son­al sec­re­tary for Jaroslav Stet­sko in the ear­ly 1980s. Stet­sko was the head of Ukraine’s World War II col­lab­o­ra­tionist gov­ern­ment and the archi­tect of bloody Nazi-style eth­nic cleans­ing pro­grams in Ukraine.

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

1. Ukraine observed a minute of silence in hon­or of Symon Petliu­ra, whose troops killed 50,00 Jews in the imme­di­ate post World War I peri­od.

“Ukraine Hon­ors Nation­al­ist whose Troops Killed 50,000 Jews” [Jew­ish Tele­graph­ic Agency]; Times of Israel; [8] 5/31/2016. [8]

Coun­try for the first time observes a minute of silence in mem­ory of Symon Petliu­ra, a 1920s states­man killed by a Rus­sia-born Jew

Amid a divi­sive debate in Ukraine on state hon­ors for nation­al­ists viewed as respon­si­ble for anti-Semit­ic pogroms, the coun­try for the first time observed a minute of silence in mem­ory of Symon Petliu­ra, a 1920s states­man blamed for the mur­der of 50,000 Jew­ish com­pa­tri­ots. 

The minute was observed on May 25, the 90th anniver­sary of Petliura’s assas­si­na­tion in Paris. Nation­al tele­vi­sion chan­nels inter­rupted their pro­grams and broad­cast the image of a burn­ing can­dle for 60 sec­onds, Ukraine’s Fed­eral News Agency report­ed.

A French court acquit­ted Sholom Schwartzbard, a Rus­sia-born Jew, of the mur­der even though he admit­ted to it after the court found that Petliu­ra had been involved in, or knew of, pogroms by mem­bers of his mili­tia fight­ing for Ukrain­ian inde­pen­dence from Rus­sia in the years 1917–1921. Fif­teen of Schwartzbard’s rel­a­tives per­ished in the pogroms.

Sep­a­rately, the direc­tor of Ukraine’s Insti­tute of Nation­al Remem­brance, Vladimir Vya­tro­vich, said in a state­ment on Mon­day that Kiev will soon name a street for two oth­er Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists — Stepan Ban­dera and Roman Shukhevych — who are wide­ly believed to be respon­si­ble for lethal vio­lence against Jews. . . .


2a. Notice the word­ing of this arti­cle about the renam­ing of a street in hon­or of Stephan Ban­dera. The sto­ry presents Ban­der­a’s well-doc­u­ment­ed col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Third Reich is an oblique, almost spec­u­la­tive con­text!

“Kiev Renames Moscow Avenue after Russ­ian Hate Fig­ure” by Dmit­ry Zaks [Agence France Presse]; Yahoo News; 7/07/2016. [9]

Ukraine’s cap­i­tal Kiev on Thurs­day renamed its Sovi­et-era Moscow Avenue after a Russ­ian hate fig­ure accused by the Krem­lin of sid­ing with the Nazis dur­ing World War II.

Kiev’s local coun­cil decid­ed that one of the bustling city’s main north­ern arter­ies will now hon­our Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist Stepan Ban­dera. . . .

. . . . Moscow accus­es Ban­dera and his OUN fight­ers of sid­ing with the Nazis once they invad­ed the Sovi­et Union in 1941.

His­to­ri­ans think Ban­dera believed that Hitler would grant Ukraine inde­pen­dence or at least par­tial auton­o­my once the Nazis con­quered Moscow.

Ban­dera declared inde­pen­dence days after the Nazis moved into Ukraine — a deci­sion that proved near­ly fatal because the Ger­man Gestapo almost imme­di­ate­ly detained him and put him in a con­cen­tra­tion camp.

He was released once it became clear that the Nazi were going to lose World War II. . . .

2b. Inter­na­tion­al out­cry has rolled back plans to skew the his­to­ry of the Babi Yar mas­sacre dur­ing World War II. A famous Holo­caust mass killing, the Babi Yar mas­sacre was to be mis-rep­re­sent­ed

“Ukraine Back­tracks on Babi Yar Plans Amid Plans of Holo­caust Revi­sion­ism” by Sam Sokol; The Jerusalem Post; 02/08/2016. [21]

The Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment is fac­ing alle­ga­tions of his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ism after announc­ing plans to revamp the Babi Yar mas­sacre site to turn it into a gener­ic sym­bol of human suf­fer­ing rather than a quin­tes­sen­tial emblem of the Holo­caust.

In prepa­ra­tion for September’s 75th anniver­sary of the mas­sacre at the ravine in Kiev where more than 33,000 Jews were mur­dered in a two-day peri­od in 1941, a gov­ern­ment- backed design com­pe­ti­tion invit­ed archi­tec­tur­al pro­pos­als to resolve what it sees as a “prob­lem” of a “dis­crep­an­cy between the world’s view and Jewry’s exclu­sive view of Babi Yar as a sym­bol of the Holo­caust.” . . .


3. A degree of offi­cial “celebration/relief” has been expressed over the nam­ing of Petro Poroshenko’s pro­tege Volodymir Groys­man as Prime Min­is­ter of Ukraine. Part of the offi­cial sigh of relief con­cerns the fact that Groys­man is Jew­ish, as is Poroshenko.

Poroshenko’s  Jew­ish affil­i­a­tion has done noth­ing [22] to atten­u­ate his col­lab­o­ra­tion with the OUN/B heirs who came to pow­er in Ukraine.

In addi­tion to being a crony of Poroshenko, Groys­man has a “law degree” from MAUP. In addi­tion to being a diplo­ma mill, of sorts, MAUP is the point of ori­gin of the bulk of anti-Semit­ic lit­er­a­ture in Ukraine. Among its fac­ul­ty mem­bers is David Duke. For­mer pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yuschenko [23] was on its board of direc­tors.

“New Wun­derkind Ukrain­ian PM Has Some Skele­tons in His Clos­et” by Mikhail Klikushin; The Observ­er; 4/21/2016. [11]

Last week’s res­ig­na­tion of Ukrain­ian Prime Min­is­ter Arse­ny Yat­senyuk and seem­ing­ly unex­pect­ed pro­mo­tion of the Speak­er of the Par­lia­ment Volodymir Groys­man to lead the Cab­i­net puz­zled only those who do not close­ly fol­low Ukrain­ian pol­i­tics.

Right after his can­di­da­cy was announced, the per­sona of Mr. Groysman—who is vir­tu­al­ly unknown out­side of Ukraine—got under the mag­ni­fy­ing glass the country’s friends and foes. And the more observers dug into his past, the less hope­ful they were about “the path of change” that the Maid­an rev­o­lu­tion had tried to put the coun­try on.

In May of 2014, right before the first post-Maid­an pres­i­den­tial elec­tions in Ukraine, Germany’s DerSpiegel mag­a­zine wrote [24] that those want­i­ng to under­stand Petro Poroshenko should vis­it Vin­nit­sa, a provin­cial cap­i­tal of 370,000 inhab­i­tants, 124 miles from Kiev.

Vin­nit­sa is a hub of the choco­late busi­ness of the Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent, and he used to rep­re­sent the town in the Supreme Rada, the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment. Here, the Ukrain­ian bil­lion­aire pres­i­dent has two ROSHEN can­dy fac­to­ries, the back-bone of his choco­late empire. Vin­nit­sa is his home turf.

Mr. Groys­man, 38, was born and raised in Vin­nit­sa. Fif­teen years ago, he was tak­en under Mr. Poroshenko’s pro­tec­tive wing, and on mul­ti­ple occa­sions proved him­self the loy­al vicegerent of the pow­er­ful oli­garch. They’ve had a long his­to­ry together—and shared polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic inter­ests in their shared home­town of Vin­nit­sa. . . .

. . . . In 2003, a cov­et­ed diplo­ma of a lawyer from the so-called Inter-Region­al Acad­e­my of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment (MAUP) appeared in the port­fo­lio of the ambi­tious Vin­nit­sa politi­cian.  After Mr. Groysman’s recent appoint­ment to the posi­tion of the Prime Min­is­ter, Vitaly Kupriy, the Ukrain­ian Par­lia­ment deputy, accused him of buy­ing his lawyer’s diplo­ma for “lard.” (The expres­sion comes from a Ukrain­ian vil­lage folk char­ac­ter com­ing to Kiev with his back­pack full of home-salt­ed lard hop­ing with this sim­ple-mind­ed bribe to get accept­ed into the uni­ver­si­ty.)

“Judg­ing by the doc­u­ments, Groys­man stud­ied at the Acad­e­my only for 1.5 years [instead of usu­al 4–5]. This doesn’t look right. It looks like [his diplo­ma] was bought for ‘lard’,” he said.

As far as his for­mal edu­ca­tion is concerned—it doesn’t real­ly mat­ter if Mr. Groys­man ever stepped into the doors of this “Acad­e­my” with or with­out lard—the institution’s rep­u­ta­tion is high­ly bizarre. In 2005, for exam­ple, MAUP became world-famous for invit­ing Amer­i­can Ku Klux Klans­man David Duke to give lec­tures there; Mr. Duke lat­er received [25] his PhD degree in his­to­ry from this “Acad­e­my.” . . . .

. . . . Since 2011, the biggest danc­ing waters show in Europe, with installed foun­tains that shoot water 229 feet into the air, is in Vin­nit­sa. It is called Foun­tain Roshen on Roshen quay, named after Petro Poroshenko’s can­dy con­glom­er­ate. The arti­fi­cial water gey­sers are accom­pa­nied by a music-and-laser show that resem­ble the Bel­la­gio in Las Vegas. Tourists from all over Ukraine come to see what is con­sid­ered one of the 10 most impres­sive water shows in the world. It was built by a Ger­man com­pa­ny and cost 1.5 mil­lion euros, which was was donat­ed by Petro Poroshenko.

4. Note that Groys­man­’s appar­ent­ly bogus law degree came from MAUP Uni­ver­si­ty, an epi­cen­ter of Ukrain­ian anti-Semi­tism. Note, also, that the above-men­tioned Vik­tor Yuschenko was on its board of direc­tors

Orga­nized Anti-Semi­tism in Con­tem­po­rary Ukraine: Struc­ture, Influ­ence and Ide­ol­o­gy” by Pers Anders Rudling; Cana­di­an Slavon­ic Papers; Vol. 48, No. 1/2 (March-June 2006): pp. 81–118. [12]

ABSTRACT: In the wake of the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion, Ukraine has wit­nessed a sub­stan­tial growth in orga­nized anti-Semi­tism. Cen­tral to this devel­op­ment is an orga­ni­za­tion, known as the Inter­re­gion­al Acad­e­my of Human Resources, bet­ter known by its Ukrain­ian acronym MAUP. It oper­ates a well-con­nect­ed polit­i­cal net­work that reach­es the very top of the Ukrain­ian soci­ety. MAUP is the largest pri­vate uni­ver­si­ty in Ukraine, with 57,000 stu­dents at 24 region­al cam­pus­es. MAUP is con­nect­ed to the KKK; David Duke is teach­ing cours­es in his­to­ry and inter­na­tion­al rela­tions at the uni­ver­si­ty. Fund­ed by Sau­di Ara­bia, Libya and Iran, MAUP’s print­ing house pub­lish­es about 85% of the anti-Semit­ic lit­er­a­ture in Ukraine. Until very recent­ly, Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Yushchenko and For­eign Min­is­ter Tara­siuk served on its board; for­mer Pres­i­dent Kravchuk still does. This paper is a study of anti-Semi­tism in Ukraine, of its intel­lec­tu­al roots, influ­ence and strength. It traces the Sovi­et, Chris­t­ian, Ger­man and racist polit­i­cal tra­di­tions and out­lines the polit­i­cal ambi­tions of orga­nized anti-Semi­tism in post-Orange Rev­o­lu­tion Ukraine.

5. Where there’s smoke, there’s prob­a­bly fire.  Or maybe tor­ture [13]:

“UN Tor­ture Pre­ven­tion Body Sus­pends Ukraine Vis­it Cit­ing Obstruc­tion;” ohchr.org; 5/25/2016. [13]

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

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

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

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

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

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


6a. Valen­tyn Nalyvaichenko–the Pravy Sek­tor-linked for­mer chief of the Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence service–appears to have skewed the evi­dence in the shoot-down of Malaysian Air­lines Flight MH17. Not sur­pris­ing­ly,  Naly­vaichenko has been impli­cat­ed in the smug­gling of antiq­ui­ties.

“Dutch News­pa­per: Cor­rup­tion in Ukrain­ian Secret Ser­vice Taints MH17 Inves­ti­ga­tion”  by Jolande van der Graaf [De Tel­graaf]; The New Cold War: Ukraine and Beyond; 12/15/2015. [16]

The reli­a­bil­i­ty of evi­dence in the inves­ti­ga­tion of the crash last year of Malaysian Air­lines Flight 17 in east­ern Ukraine is at issue because of the sin­is­ter role of the Ukrain­ian secret ser­vice SBU in cor­rup­tion and crime scan­dals.

Crim­i­nal law experts pre­dict prob­lems for crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings against the mur­der­ers of the pas­sen­gers who died in the crash of Malaysian Air­lines Flight 17 now that it appears that every­thing is false with the intel­li­gence work that deliv­ered all kinds of mate­r­i­al evi­dence. The Chris­t­ian Demo­c­ra­t­ic Appeal (CDA) is set to ask ques­tions about this in today’s par­lia­men­tary ses­sion.

“The ‘noise’ is guar­an­teed to play a role in any legal case,” said law pro­fes­sor Theo de Roos. “That goes for the defense but also for the judges who will exam­ine evi­dence very crit­i­cal­ly. The pub­lic pros­e­cu­tion depart­ment should be look­ing now rather than lat­er at the integri­ty of the evi­dence.”

It was the SBU that pro­vid­ed the wire­tapped tele­phone con­ver­sa­tions between pro-Russ­ian [sic] rebels in the war zone just before and after the Malaysian Air­lines Boe­ing was shot down from the sky. The Ukrain­ian secu­ri­ty forces had also a big role in secur­ing human remains, debris and rock­et parts in the dis­as­ter area.

But the same SBU also appears in numer­ous crim­i­nal affairs. Sev­er­al infor­mants in the scan­dal of the paint­ings stolen from the West Frisian Muse­um in Hoorn, Hol­land in 2005 indi­cate for­mer SBU head Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko of this year is a mas­ter­mind in the stolen art trade. Naly­vaichenko was fired in June of this year.

Last year, the name of the for­mer SBU chief was linked to large-scale smug­gling of antiques dis­cov­ered by Finnish police.

The ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion into cor­rupt Lim­burg police­man Mark M is also linked to Ukraine. A jus­tice in Bra­bant recent­ly request­ed assis­tance from Kiev. Accord­ing to inves­ti­ga­tion sources, Mark M. kept a net­work in Ukraine of ‘gang­sters and mem­bers of the secret ser­vice’. This past sum­mer alone, 22 mem­bers of the SBU dis­ap­peared behind bars because of cor­rup­tion and crim­i­nal prac­tices.

Great risks

The CDA calls the SBU scan­dals a great risk for the crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion into the MH17 case and wants doc­u­ments and expla­na­tions from Jus­tice Min­is­ter Ard van der Steur.

“There is lit­tle actu­al evi­dence [in the inves­ti­ga­tion],” says Chris­t­ian Demo­c­rat par­lia­men­tar­i­an Pieter Omtzigt. “What there is may have been com­pro­mised to some extent. The evi­dence was col­lect­ed way too late at the scene of the crash and now appears to have been col­lect­ed by dis­hon­est peo­ple.”

The CDA wants to know why satel­lite and radar data of Ukraini­ans, Rus­sians and Amer­i­cans is lack­ing from the report of the Dutch Safe­ty Board into the crash of the MH17. “It appears this has still not been dis­cussed with Ukrain­ian air traf­fic con­trol.”

Dutch police say coop­er­a­tion with Ukrain­ian researchers is “good” and all the sub­mit­ted evi­dence “has been crit­i­cal­ly exam­ined”. Pro­fes­sor of inter­na­tion­al law Geert-Jan Knoops, how­ev­er, feels that more research into the reli­a­bil­i­ty of evi­dence is need­ed.

“The pros­e­cu­tion has the duty to exclude any evi­dence in a sce­nario where evi­dence has been tam­pered with. That means, for exam­ple, it must close­ly exam­ine how the SBU select­ed wir4tapped phone calls and who was involved in that selec­tion.”

6b. In a sto­ry on his Con­sor­tium News web­site, Robert Par­ry has not­ed that The New York Times pub­lished a bla­tant forgery pur­port­ing to demon­strate that Rus­sia had altered a pho­to­graph show­ing Ukrain­ian dis­po­si­tion of BUK mis­sile bat­ter­ies. The same arti­cle notes that the Dutch intel­li­gence ser­vice stat­ed that the only anti-air­craft mis­siles capa­ble of bring­ing down MH-17 belonged to the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment.

” ‘Fraud’ Alleged in NYT’s MH-17 Report” by Robert Par­ry; Con­sor­tium News; 7/19/2016. [17]

Foren­sic experts are chal­leng­ing an ama­teur report – tout­ed in The New York Times – that claimed Rus­sia faked satel­lite imagery of Ukrain­ian anti-air­craft mis­sile bat­ter­ies in east­ern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, the day that Malaysia Air­lines Flight 17 was shot out of the sky killing 298 peo­ple.

In a Twit­ter exchange [26], Dr. Neal Krawetz, founder of the Foto­Foren­sics dig­i­tal image ana­lyt­i­cal tool, wrote: “‘Bad analy­sis’ is an under­state­ment. This ‘report’ is out­right fraud.”

Anoth­er com­put­er imag­ing expert, Masa­mi Kuramo­to, wrote, “This is either ama­teur hour or sup­posed to deceive audi­ences with­out tech back­ground,” to which Krawetz respond­ed: “Why ‘or’? Ama­teur hour AND decep­tive.”

On Sat­ur­day, The New York Times, which usu­al­ly dis­dains Inter­net reports even from qual­i­fied experts, chose to high­light the report [27] by arms con­trol researchers at armscontrolwonk.com who appear to have lit­tle exper­tise in the field of foren­sic pho­to­graph­ic analy­sis.

The Times arti­cle [28] sug­gest­ed that the Rus­sians were false­ly claim­ing that the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary had Buk mis­sile sys­tems in east­ern Ukraine on the day that MH-17 was shot down. But the pres­ence of Ukrain­ian anti-air­craft mis­sile bat­ter­ies in the area has been con­firmed by West­ern intel­li­gence, includ­ing a report issued last Octo­ber on the find­ings of the Dutch intel­li­gence agency which had access to NATO’s satel­lite and oth­er data col­lec­tion.

Indeed, the Nether­lands’ Mil­i­tary Intel­li­gence and Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice (MIVD) con­clud­ed that the only anti-air­craft weapons in east­ern Ukraine capa­ble of bring­ing down MH-17 at 33,000 feet belonged to the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment, not the eth­nic Russ­ian rebels. MIVD made that assess­ment in the con­text of explain­ing why com­mer­cial air­craft con­tin­ued to fly over the east­ern Ukrain­ian bat­tle zone in sum­mer 2014. (The MH-17 flight had orig­i­nat­ed in Ams­ter­dam and car­ried many Dutch cit­i­zens, explain­ing why the Nether­lands took the lead in the inves­ti­ga­tion.)

MIVD said that based on “state secret” infor­ma­tion, it was known that Ukraine pos­sessed some old­er but “pow­er­ful anti-air­craft sys­tems” and “a num­ber of these sys­tems were locat­ed in the east­ern part of the coun­try.” MIVD added that the rebels lacked that capac­i­ty:

“Pri­or to the crash, the MIVD knew that, in addi­tion to light air­craft artillery, the Sep­a­ratists also pos­sessed short-range portable air defence sys­tems (man-portable air-defence sys­tems; MANPADS) and that they pos­si­bly pos­sessed short-range vehi­cle-borne air-defence sys­tems. Both types of sys­tems are con­sid­ered sur­face-to-air mis­siles (SAMs). Due to their lim­it­ed range they do not con­sti­tute a dan­ger to civ­il avi­a­tion at cruis­ing alti­tude.”

I know that I have cit­ed this sec­tion of the Dutch report before but I repeat it because The New York Times, The Wash­ing­ton Post and oth­er lead­ing U.S. news orga­ni­za­tions have ignored these find­ings, pre­sum­ably because they don’t advance the desired pro­pa­gan­da theme blam­ing the Rus­sians for the tragedy. . . . .

7. New York Times jour­nal­ist Andrew E. Kramer was list­ed as a “ter­ror­ist” jour­nal­ist by the gov­ern­ment of Ukraine, pre­sum­ably for report­ing on the civ­il war in Ukraine, pre­sum­ably for report­ing on events in the Russ­ian sep­a­ratist areas.

“Brand­ed a ‘Ter­ror­ist’ for Report­ing Two Sides of Ukraine’s War” by Andrew E. Kramer; The New York Times; 6/05/2016. [14]

I have had guns point­ed at me, slept in a ship­ping con­tain­er and walked past the corpses of shelling vic­tims since the sep­a­ratist insur­gency in east­ern Ukraine [29] began two years ago. But I had nev­er been black­list­ed as a ter­ror­ist before.

So when my name recent­ly appeared on a “ter­ror­ist” list of jour­nal­ists pub­lished by a web­site with close ties to the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment, I viewed it with a mix of trep­i­da­tion and sar­casm.

Trep­i­da­tion because it sug­gest­ed pow­er­ful peo­ple in Ukraine, a democ­ra­cy that aspires to the free flow of infor­ma­tion, were going after me and oth­ers on the list for sim­ply doing our jobs: report­ing both sides of the war, includ­ing the pro-Russ­ian rebel side.

And sar­casm because, this being Ukraine, the list was not like­ly to have much cred­i­bil­i­ty else­where. I have not, for exam­ple, had any trou­ble fly­ing after appear­ing on what may be the world’s first list of ter­ror­ist jour­nal­ists.

It is also not a secret that I and oth­er reporters have report­ed from rebel ter­ri­to­ry; our pub­li­ca­tions and broad­cast out­lets reg­u­lar­ly use our names and note where we are.

The list, pub­lished by a Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist web­site called Myrotvorets, or the Peace­mak­er, appeared to have been born out of a sim­mer­ing frus­tra­tion.

Hard-lin­ers in Ukraine have been furi­ous at the for­eign press for some time now, argu­ing that any cov­er­age of the rebels from their home base in the east played into Rus­sia [30]’s pow­er­ful pro­pa­gan­da machine. Rus­sia has por­trayed res­i­dents in the break­away regions as vic­tims of an unjus­ti­fied Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary assault by a West­ern-backed “fas­cist” gov­ern­ment in Kiev.

The list is a com­pi­la­tion of reporters and oth­ers who applied for press pass­es to work in ter­ri­to­ry con­trolled by the Donet­sk People’s Repub­lic, Ukraine’s main ene­my in the two-year-old war in the east. Apply­ing for accred­i­ta­tion from Russ­ian-backed rebels, accord­ing to the web­site, was enough to be brand­ed a “ter­ror­ist accom­plice.” . . . .

. . . . Groups sup­port­ing jour­nal­ists quick­ly con­demned the pub­li­ca­tion of the names — and in some cas­es home address­es — for seem­ing to invite vio­lence against reporters.

A pro-Russ­ian com­men­ta­tor liv­ing in Kiev, Oles Buz­i­na, whose home address was pub­li­cized in a Myrotvorets post last year, was shot and killed on a street not far from his home days lat­er.

But this time, the site was pub­lish­ing names and con­tact details for 5,412 jour­nal­ists, dri­vers, fix­ers, sound­men and trans­la­tors. Not all of us can be rubbed out. . . .

8a. Vice News has a new piece of report­ing from Donet­sk about the expe­ri­ences of some of the for­eign mer­ce­nar­ies who have joined up with a Right Sec­tor bat­tal­ion. As the arti­cle makes clear, one of the aspects of Right Sec­tor that the Kiev gov­ern­ment finds most use­ful in the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion where the Min­sk II agree­ment is sup­posed to min­i­mize hos­til­i­tiesw is that the “out of con­trol” vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions like Right Sec­tor are basi­cal­ly allowed to vio­late the Min­sk II agree­ment as much as they want. The gov­ern­ment just has to make sure the bat­tal­ions are able to ille­gal­ly acquire weapons and oper­ate with impuni­ty.

Anoth­er thing the arti­cle makes clear is that, like most arti­cles that talk about Right Sector’s ide­ol­o­gy and ambi­tions, once Right Sec­tor is done fight­ing in the Don­bas, they’re still plan­ning on march­ing on Kiev [18]:

“Why Amer­i­can Right-Wingers Are Going to War in Ukraine” [18] by Alexan­der Clapp; Vice News; 6/20/2016. [18]

When Ben Fis­ch­er stepped out of his jeep at the bar­racks of the Volove­ka Tac­ti­cal Group, in Donet­sk, Ukraine, last May, he was a mer­ce­nary arriv­ing to work on his third con­ti­nent in as many years. The scene at the head­quar­ters of a rogue unit with­in the rogue Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist group known as Right Sec­tor wavered between utter chaos and man­ic dis­ci­pline. Stray dogs pow­dered with anthracitic dust ambled around anti-tank obsta­cles. Anti-air­craft artillery bris­tled from the beds of rust­ed-out pick­up trucks. Some groups of Ukraini­ans were clean­ing weapon­ry. Oth­ers were chop­ping wood. Oth­ers were doing push-ups. Many were drunk. A great red ban­ner hung along the side of the bar­racks fac­ing east: DEATH TO YOU KREMLIN INVADERS.

In a bar­ren plain of coal pits and black sludge, Fis­ch­er found what he had come for: an expe­ri­ence full of vio­lence and adven­ture. What the Islam­ic State is for dis­en­chant­ed young West­ern­ers of an Islamist bent, Right Sec­tor has become for young Euro­peans and Amer­i­can right-wingers with an antique pas­sion for nationalism—any nation­al­ism except for Russia’s, that is. Right Sec­tor is com­mit­ted to eject­ing Russ­ian sep­a­ratists from Ukrain­ian soil. Only three months before Fis­ch­er arrived at the Volove­ka bar­racks, Ukraine, Rus­sia, and West­ern lead­ers had signed a cease­fire agree­ment known as Min­sk II. Major engage­ments had become rare. Euro­pean offi­cials had begun mak­ing rou­tine inspec­tions of front­line equip­ment. But a shad­ow con­flict still churned onward in the East, one that Kiev covert­ly out­sourced to the very nation­al­ist groups it once pub­licly dis­avowed. The Volove­ka, a Right Sec­tor con­tin­gent con­sist­ing of 27 men, had estab­lished a for­ward base six miles from the bor­der of the self-pro­claimed Donet­sk People’s Repub­lic. By the time Fis­ch­er arrived, it had become an anar­chic force that answered to no author­i­ty but itself.

Fis­ch­er has a wiry black beard he twirls with cal­loused fin­ger­tips. Two swords tat­tooed on his right shoul­der con­verge at a bat­tle hel­met. MOLON LABE—ancient Greek for “Come and take them,” King Leonidas’s reply to the Per­sian demand for the Spar­tan weapons at Thermopylae—is embla­zoned on his right fore­arm. His moth­er, a Tunisian, emi­grat­ed to Aus­tria 30 years ago, where she met his father, an engi­neer, in a ski­ing vil­lage out­side Inns­bruck. Fis­ch­er was sent off to a voca­tion­al school in Bre­genz at 14. His junior year, he forged his par­ents’ sig­na­tures in order to enlist ear­ly in the Aus­tri­an Armed Forces. “Aus­tri­ans lead indoor lives,” he told me. “It’s the indoor life of the post­man, or the may­or, or the teacher. Argu­ments are indoors. Feel­ings are indoors. And the one thing I knew, from very ear­ly on, was that I couldn’t be indoors.” The Aus­tri­an army did not give Fis­ch­er his inter­est­ing life. For six months, he drove a van around Prishti­na, where his com­rades gave out food pack­ages and taught Koso­vars how to hold guns. Fis­ch­er decid­ed to take an indef­i­nite sick leave; six months lat­er, he was on the Red Sea, where he’d found work run­ning secu­ri­ty detail on a con­tain­er ship. On his first stop in Mogadishu, port author­i­ties dis­band­ed his unli­censed crew. With a small lay­off pay­ment, he bought a tick­et to Mar­seille, where the French For­eign Legion turned him down. The next months, he worked as a bounc­er in Vien­na.

In Sep­tem­ber 2014, Fis­ch­er took the train from Vien­na to Kiev, where the Ukrain­ian army was lead­ing major offen­sives to reclaim the Don­bas. At Maid­an Square, he found a recruiter for Azov, a white-suprema­cist bat­tal­ion and one of the few vol­un­teer mili­tias then accept­ing for­eign vol­un­teers. Almost as soon as he entered, an Azov com­man­der who thought he looked too Arab threw him out. Fis­ch­er trans­ferred to the Don­bas Battalion—”a bunch of alco­holics and PTSDs”—but saw lit­tle fight­ing when he bussed out to Donet­sk; the first Min­sk Pro­to­col, which bro­kered a cease­fire, was signed just two days after he arrived.

Look­ing for his next move, Fis­ch­er used Face­book to con­tact an Amer­i­can who had joined the Kur­dish People’s Pro­tec­tion Units, in Sulay­maniyah, Iraq. A Dutch-Kur­dish motor­cy­cle gang even­tu­al­ly brought the two to the front lines near Kirkuk, where they saw spurts of action against ISIS. “I liked the Kurds and respect their fight, but those peo­ple have a prob­lem: They’re con­vinced every­one is out to betray them,” he said. The Kurds did every­thing they could to break up groups of for­eign fight­ers, to get non-prac­tic­ing Mus­lims to pray with them, to pry for­eign vol­un­teers away from their smart­phones. Fischer’s com­man­der was “brain­washed.” An inter­view he gave to a local news chan­nel made its way to Aus­tri­an tele­vi­sion, and his par­ents sent him alarmed emails, which he ignored. One night, in an encamp­ment near Mosul, an Amer­i­can Black Hawk heli­copter land­ed. A sol­dier emerged and told the Kurds to dis­band for­eign­ers from their ranks or risk los­ing Amer­i­can coop­er­a­tion. Com­pared with the oth­ers, the for­eign­ers were much more active on social media. They risked spilling oper­a­tional secrets and increas­ing ten­sions with Turkey.

Back in Aus­tria, Fis­ch­er learned that he had been put on a ter­ror watch list for hav­ing fought with Kur­dish guer­ril­las asso­ci­at­ed with the PKK. The gov­ern­ment told him to stay in the coun­try, but he left for Tunisia, where his mother’s fam­i­ly still lived. “There’s no war in Tunisia,” he said. “Nobody fu cks with you. You can relax.” In Sousse, he received a Face­book mes­sage from Alex Kirschbaum, an Aus­tri­an army com­rade he hadn’t seen since Koso­vo. “Alex wrote me say­ing that he’d just desert­ed the army,” Fis­ch­er said. “He couldn’t stand Aus­tria any­more. He was going to Ukraine.” The next day, Fis­ch­er began mak­ing his way back to Kiev. “You start out on this life out of a kind of pride, refus­ing to be like your peers,” he told me. “But you stick with it because there comes a time when you can’t turn back and accept that the only pos­si­ble exis­tence is a civil­ian one.”

Kirschbaum greet­ed Fis­ch­er when he arrived at the bar­racks. “Sure, we’d been friends in Aus­tria, had gone for beers togeth­er, but to see him out here, in the mid­dle of fu cking Donetsk—wow,” Kirschbaum said. Kirschbaum has a slim build and a scrag­gy black beard. His eyes are dark brown chest­nuts that glow­er pas­sion­ate­ly when­ev­er he dis­cuss­es weapon­ry. For Kirschbaum and Fis­ch­er both, Ukraine became an out­let for nation­al­ism that they con­sid­er in des­per­ate­ly short sup­ply else­where in Europe. “In Aus­tria, our coun­ter­fas­cism units are larg­er than our coun­tert­er­ror­ism ones,” Kirschbaum told me. Aus­tria, he said, was a “neutered” nation. The only nation­al­ists it pro­duced were soc­cer hooli­gans and Euro­vi­sion fanat­ics. But the Right Sec­torites didn’t watch soc­cer or Euro­vi­sion. In that con­ve­nient for­mu­la­tion of gen­uine patri­ots and nation­al­ist extrem­ists, they claimed to despise their gov­ern­ment but love their coun­try. Nei­ther Fis­ch­er nor Kirschbaum remarked how strange it was that they had effec­tive­ly trans­ferred their nation­al pas­sion from one nation to anoth­er.

Accord­ing to Right Sec­tor, the Maid­an rev­o­lu­tion remains unfin­ished. It’s ille­gal for the group to use guns, but the Volove­ka and units like it will not lay them down until Ukraine is a sov­er­eign state. By this, the men mean a Ukraine that’s com­plete­ly inde­pen­dent from both Russia—a “Putin­ist empire”—and the Euro­pean Union—land of “lib­er­al homo-dic­ta­tor­ships.” “The world must know that Ukraine is not its to use,” Prut, a Right Sec­tor com­man­der in Mukache­vo, told me. (The Ukrain­ian fight­ers in the Volove­ka are known exclu­sive­ly by their noms de guerre.) For their mod­el Ukraine, some Right Sec­torites point to the cen­turies of rugged Cos­sack rule. Oth­ers cite the West Ukrain­ian People’s Repub­lic carved out by Stepan Ban­dera, the hero of the Ukrain­ian resis­tance against the Sovi­ets. Bandera’s brief col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Nazis has led some mem­bers of Right Sec­tor to meld their nation­al­ism with a thin under­stand­ing of Nazism. Sev­er­al I met did the Sieg Heil and praised Hitler. A few admit­ted that they did this because they knew Putin hat­ed it, and they were will­ing to go to any length to aggra­vate him.

The Right Sec­torites claim to be fight­ing on behalf of a vast and igno­rant Ukrain­ian pop­u­la­tion that will wel­come lib­er­a­tion when it comes but who lack the courage to achieve it. The orga­ni­za­tion coa­lesced in ear­ly 2014 out of a hand­ful of far-right polit­i­cal par­ties and Maid­an self-defense units. It claims to be nei­ther racist nor xeno­pho­bic because it under­stands Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism in “civic, not eth­nic terms.” Gov­ern­ment insti­tu­tions should be strong. Nation­al bor­ders must be upheld. Those who think in like-mind­ed ways, even if not Ukrain­ian, are encour­aged to join. Dmit­ry Yarosh, Right Sector’s founder, is a for­mer for­eign-lan­guage teacher from cen­tral Ukraine. Near­ly half of all mem­bers iden­ti­fy as Russ­ian speak­ers.

Right Sec­tor is a ram­shackle orga­ni­za­tion. None of its more than 10,000 mem­bers car­ries a par­ty ID, attends reg­u­lar meet­ings, or recruits in any sys­tem­at­ic way. Right Sector’s polit­i­cal­ly mind­ed mem­bers strain to con­trol its mil­i­tary branch of per­haps 3,000 fight­ers. Most have spent weeks train­ing at Right Sec­tor camps, where they are taught the rudi­ments of street fight­ing and get bused to demon­stra­tions against the Kiev gov­ern­ment, Russ­ian nation­al hol­i­days, and gays. Right Sec­tor fight­ers fall into 26 divi­sions. One is assigned to each Ukrain­ian oblast or province; two addi­tion­al bat­tal­ions stand guard on the front lines. None takes orders from a cen­tral­ized com­mand. They rarely exchange weapon­ry or gov­ern­ment con­tacts.

Two years of infight­ing and gov­ern­ment crack­down have frag­ment­ed Right Sec­tor fur­ther into dozens of small units, most of which oper­ate with lit­tle aware­ness of one anoth­er. The Volove­ka Tac­ti­cal Group—named after a Right Sec­torite who was killed by a land mine in Donetsk—was one of these. At war with east­ern Ukraine, Kiev, and a half of Right Sec­tor that sub­mit­ted to gov­ern­ment over­sight last Novem­ber, its fight­ers lived in a cement-block build­ing that had housed coal min­ers before the war. The men of the Volove­ka arrived one day last autumn and evict­ed them at gun­point. They dug a moat around the building’s perime­ter and a pit for hold­ing cap­tives. They erect­ed a barbed-wire fence. They laid land mines and anti-tank obsta­cles in the veg­etable gar­dens. On the roof, they mount­ed black and red flags, the sym­bol of Ukrain­ian resis­tance under Ger­man occu­pa­tion, and upside-down Ukrain­ian flags, the stan­dard sym­bol of the briefly real­ized 1918 Inde­pen­dent Repub­lic of Ukraine. At one point, they con­fis­cat­ed a yel­low bus from the local ele­men­tary school to make week­ly trips to the front lines, where the Right Sec­torites spent sev­er­al days fir­ing RPGs at the sep­a­ratist-held Donet­sk air­port. On the small dirt road lead­ing to the bar­racks were two wood­en guard tow­ers. A guard was kept at all hours. The res­i­dents of Novogrodov­ka, the clos­est vil­lage, were known to be in reg­u­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tion with bat­tal­ions in the Don­bas. An attack could be expect­ed any­time.

Com­mand of the Volove­ka fell to Sime­on, the first civil­ian to steal a machine gun from a police offi­cer at the Maid­an and fire back. He was a house­hold name in Ukraine and a leg­end with­in Right Sec­tor. After Maid­an, he’d sur­vived the dis­as­trous encir­clement of the Ukrain­ian army at Ilo­vaisk. He’d been among the kyborgs, the vast­ly out­num­bered Ukrain­ian sol­diers and vol­un­teers, includ­ing Right Sec­tor mem­bers, who defend­ed Donet­sk air­port from rebel besiegers in the days before Min­sk II was signed. Sime­on was an artist with a weapon called the TOW, a mis­sile latched to a two-mile-long wire that he guid­ed into ene­my ter­ri­to­ry with a pair of small steer­ing wheels. In late 2015, the Ukrain­ian state declared him a ter­ror­ist. His face was put on notice boards through­out Kiev. The Right Sec­torites had con­vert­ed his home in Ivano-Frankivsk into an armory. They placed Clay­more mines on the under­side of his porch, and they instruct­ed his teenage son to acti­vate the devices if the police arrived.

Simeon’s pres­ence in the bar­racks was out­sized. His drink­ing ses­sions began short­ly after he emerged each morn­ing from his drab cement room, dec­o­rat­ed with a few fam­i­ly pho­tos and sev­er­al Russ­ian army hel­mets on the walls. “Broth­ers!” he would cry in a faux-Amer­i­can accent. He pos­sessed no civil­ian clothes; his fatigues had become so mat­ted with dried mud and engine grease they had hard­ened into the con­sis­ten­cy of card­board. For Sime­on, the war in Donet­sk was less about fight­ing the Rus­sians than it was about prov­ing some­thing to Ukraini­ans back in Kiev. “Six­ty per­cent of Ukraine wants to join Europe,” he told me one night while he was on guard duty. The occa­sion­al crack of artillery came from the east. “Their biggest con­cern is whether or not their WiFi works. Anoth­er twen­ty per­cent, well, these are pro-Russ­ian trash. To them, the Sovi­et Union was a good thing. These types aren’t as big a prob­lem as you might think. They can be killed. We in Right Sec­tor are part of that remain­ing twen­ty per­cent that believes we have to take mat­ters into our own hands in Ukraine. We can only fix our coun­try when we fix our­selves indi­vid­u­al­ly.”

Despite Simeon’s admon­ish­ment of the lack of com­mit­ment among his coun­try­men to the cause of their nation, most Ukraini­ans in the Volove­ka did not have a strong grasp of Right Sector’s pol­i­tics. Many had been declared ter­ror­ists by the state and stayed in the Volove­ka bar­racks most­ly out of a refusal to face tri­al in Kiev. Col­i­b­ian, the assis­tant com­man­der, was the only Ukrain­ian mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant sac­ri­fices to be in Novogrodov­ka; in Kiev, he owned a car deal­er­ship.

Lunch in the Volove­ka usu­al­ly con­sist­ed of fist-size chunks of raw pig fat. Pota­toes were served for din­ner; body bags of them lay in a heap below a stair­well. Every provision—coats, gauze, jugs of water—came from vol­un­teers in Kiev or was “req­ui­si­tioned” from locals. Stolen coal and wood were mixed with trash in a fur­nace that spewed thick clouds of poi­so­nous exhaust. It set­tled on the skin in mole-like clumps. The Volove­ka paid for its cig­a­rettes and inter­net by bak­ing this coal-trash con­coc­tion into bricks and sell­ing them through­out the rest of Ukraine.

Every human impulse was exag­ger­at­ed in the Volove­ka. When keys were mis­placed, doors were blown in with TNT. Wal­nuts were cracked open with grenades. Stray cats chased one anoth­er down the hall­ways of the bar­racks, most of which were lined with 60-pound bombs typ­i­cal­ly used for destroy­ing bridges. The Right Sec­torites liked to evict the cats by throw­ing them from the sec­ond-floor bal­cony with the motion of a shot-put­ter. They fell to the earth with a ter­ri­fy­ing cry. A few weeks before I’d arrived, a Ukrain­ian named Geron­i­mo behead­ed a cat after he caught it pee­ing on his bed. Fear­ing a PTSD out­break, Sime­on attempted—unsuccessfully—to take away everyone’s guns. The Volove­ka also had a dog, Fly, whose orig­i­nal own­er had died from the blast of a land mine. Fly trem­bled in strange, berserk motions every time a sol­dier cocked a gun.

The mem­bers of the Volove­ka fre­quent­ly boast­ed that they pos­sessed enough explo­sives to erad­i­cate a small Ukrain­ian oblast. The bat­tal­ion had smug­gled in all of it—the six armor-plat­ed trucks, the hel­mets and med­ical kits, the hun­dreds of box­es of ammunition—tirelessly, ille­gal­ly, from every reach of Ukraine. The men used dona­tions from the Ukrain­ian dias­po­ra in Cana­da “for med­ical sup­plies” to pur­chase Kalash­nikovs off Chechen arms deal­ers in Vien­na, which were smug­gled through the Carpathi­an Moun­tains by mem­bers of the Volove­ka who car­a­vanned out to west­ern Ukraine every few months in bat­tal­ion pick­up trucks. They also claimed many guns off dead sep­a­ratists. One after­noon, Fis­ch­er took me to the com­pa­ny armory—six win­dow­less nooks on the sec­ond floor. The air was heavy with the waft of cat urine. Anti-air­craft mis­siles and RPGs lay hap­haz­ard­ly stacked every­where like planks of wood. Fis­ch­er grabbed two rusty black mor­tars out of a moldy card­board box. “A war muse­um in Lviv gave these to us,” he said, flip­ping them light­ly between his palms. “Red Army issues from the Sec­ond World War. A lot of Ukrain­ian bat­tle­field reen­ac­tors admire the work we’re doing out here. They send us these antiques all the time,” he said, toss­ing them back into the box. “The only prob­lem with them is that they can eas­i­ly det­o­nate if you dri­ve over a bump too quick­ly in the bus.”

At any moment the SBU—the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine—could have come and arrest­ed every mem­ber of the Volove­ka, whose pres­ence on the front lines was ille­gal. But the Right Sec­torites assured me this would nev­er hap­pen. When they need­ed help pur­su­ing trucks they sus­pect­ed of smug­gling sup­plies into Donet­sk, the SBU called the bar­racks for rein­force­ments. Most of the oblast was pro-Russ­ian, so to help give the impres­sion of occu­pa­tion, local author­i­ties encour­aged Right Sec­tor to dri­ve its vehi­cles slow­ly through near­by vil­lages and walk their streets with glocks in hand. (Though the res­i­dents of Novogrodov­ka despised Right Sec­tor, they weren’t too proud to come to the bar­racks at night beg­ging for food, which was always giv­en. The drunk ones often fell into the moat.)

The Ukrain­ian army was also tech­ni­cal­ly oblig­ed to arrest Right Sec­tor mem­bers on sight at the front lines, but it didn’t. Dur­ing the night, offi­cers sym­pa­thet­ic to Right Sector’s cause filled the Voloveka’s school bus with rock­ets and oth­er large-cal­iber guns for­bid­den by Euro­pean mon­i­tors. Right Sec­tor was the Ukrain­ian army’s way of get­ting around Min­sk II while still hit­ting back at sep­a­ratists who refused to allow inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions any­where near their trench­es: Right Sec­tor, Ukraine told inspec­tors, was out of its con­trol. The local police also wouldn’t arrest any mem­bers of the Volove­ka, to whom they out­sourced their ter­ror­ism. Of course, when asked about their con­nec­tion with Right Sec­tor, Ukraine’s SBU, army, and police vig­or­ous­ly dis­avow it. But what I saw on the front lines was noth­ing short of active coop­er­a­tion. The fight­ers of the Volove­ka, for their part, were con­temp­tu­ous of any coop­er­a­tion with Kiev. But the fight could only turn against Ukraine once the more imme­di­ate threat in the Don­bas had been destroyed.

Sev­er­al weeks before I vis­it­ed the Volove­ka, a man had been picked up wan­der­ing the streets of Novogrodov­ka at night, drunk. Police con­fis­cat­ed his phone and found pho­tos of him pos­ing in front of Donet­sk tanks on VK, a pop­u­lar social net­work among Russ­ian speak­ers. They brought him to the Right Sec­torites, who locked him in a stand­ing-room-only show­er stall. The lights stayed on for a week. They beat him with a sock stuffed with sharp­ened rocks. They stripped him of his clothes and made him clean the bar­racks on his knees. An inter­ro­ga­tion ses­sion involv­ing repeat­ed threats of depor­ta­tion to Guan­tá­namo Bay revealed only that the man came from a local vil­lage and appar­ent­ly knew noth­ing about rebel troop move­ments. After a week, the police picked him back up and brought him to Kiev—presumably for a jail sen­tence, though no one could tell me what actu­al­ly hap­pened to him. “It is a pity to have to beat these peo­ple,” Kirschbaum said. “But I’d have more sym­pa­thy for them if we got any sort of sim­i­lar treat­ment in Donet­sk. Right Sec­tor mem­bers cap­tured there get their noses and ears cut off.”

A loud noise shook the front entrance of the bar­racks one night. It was fol­lowed by a string of mur­der­ous groans. “Sep­a­ratists!” some­one screamed. Fis­ch­er extin­guished a cig­a­rette, then whipped an RPG off the wall and slung it on his right shoul­der in a sin­gle unin­ter­rupt­ed motion. Lang burst out of the room with a pair of grenades cocked in his hands. Out in the hall­way, a dozen star­tled Ukraini­ans stood in a heav­i­ly armed throng. One was peer­ing through a sniper scope.

At the door­way, as a haze of grenade smoke slow­ly dis­si­pat­ed away, we saw Sime­on lying in a lake of bub­bling blood. Pur­ple-black strings—his intestines—were on the walls. A de-fin­gered palm of a left hand teetered off a near­by pile of tires. Exit­ing the bar­racks for Novogrodov­ka, where he planned to toss a few grenades in the town square to cel­e­brate the two-year anniver­sary of his entry in the war, Sime­on had slipped on the stair­case and acci­dent­ly det­o­nat­ed him­self. Turn­ing his head toward us, he let out a few last breaths, then died.

The next night, we held a funer­al for Sime­on. His moth­er, son, and wife arrived by car from Ivano-Frankivsk. Two Right Sec­torites briskly escort­ed them to a side door, away from the entrance­way in which Sime­on had been dema­te­ri­al­ized. “Two land mines explod­ed under Sime­on as he charged toward the Donet­sk air­port,” Col­i­b­ian, who had been declared the Voloveka’s new com­man­der that morn­ing, told Simeon’s fam­i­ly. They cried. “After this, it took machine-gun fire to bring him down. We recov­ered him, brought him back to our trench. He was still breath­ing. He refused to die.” Col­i­b­ian placed his right hand on the shoul­der of Simeon’s moth­er. Most of the onlook­ing Right Sec­torites were drunk. What remained of Simeon’s trunk of vod­ka had been fin­ished off that after­noon.

8b. It is not sur­pris­ing that Kristofer Har­ri­son (the author of an apolo­gia for the Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion [31] in Ukraine) is a for­mer Defense Depart­ment and State Depart­ment advi­sor to George W. Bush. Note­wor­thy in his pro­pa­gan­da piece dis­miss­ing Rep­re­sen­ta­tive John Cony­ers (D‑MI) as “the Krem­lin’s Man in Con­gress” and dis­count­ing any­one else dis­cussing the ascen­sion of the OUN/B fas­cists in Ukraine in a sim­i­lar vein is the iden­ti­ty of his source for assur­ances that Azov is not a Nazi unit.The Azov’s spokesman is Roman Zvarych, the per­son­al sec­re­tary [32] to Jaroslav Stet­sko in the 1980’s. Stet­sko was the head of the World War II OUN/B gov­ern­ment that col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Nazis!

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

(It is impos­si­ble with­in the scope of this post to cov­er our volu­mi­nous cov­er­age of the Ukraine cri­sis. Pre­vi­ous pro­grams on the sub­ject include: FTR #‘s 777 [33]778 [34]779 [35]780 [36]781 [23]782 [37]783 [38]784 [39]794 [40], 800 [20]803 [41]804 [42], 808 [43]811 [44]817 [45]818 [46]824 [47]826 [48]

829 [49]832 [50]833 [51]837 [52]849 [53]850 [54]853 [55]857 [56]860 [57]872 [58]875 [59]876 [60]877 [61]893 [62]907, [63] 911 [64]Listeners/readers are encour­aged to exam­ine these pro­grams and/or their descrip­tions in detail, in order to flesh out their under­stand­ing.)

“Putin’s Man in Con­gress” by Kristofer Har­ri­son; The Huff­in­g­ton Post; 8/7/2015. [19]

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

. . . . Rep. Cony­ers played an impor­tant role in help­ing the Russ­ian Nazi meme evolve from the stuff of con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists, kooks and fel­low-trav­el­ers into some­thing the main­stream press hap­pi­ly prints. Rep. Cony­ers took to the floor of the House to sub­mit his amend­ment and label the unit, “The repul­sive Neo-Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion.” From there, the Dai­ly Beast ran a sto­ry [65] titled “Is Amer­i­ca Train­ing Neon­azis in Ukraine?” using Cony­ers’ bill as fac­tu­al sup­port. The day after the amendment’s pas­sage, Leonoid Bershid­sky ran a Bloomberg View arti­cle [66] titled “Ukraine’s Neo-Nazis Won’t Get U.S. Mon­ey.” Even the Cana­di­ans have been affect­ed. On June 16th, the Nation­al Post ran a sto­ry [67] titled “Fears that Cana­di­an Mis­sion in Ukraine May Unin­ten­tion­al­ly Help Neon­azi Groups.”. . . .