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

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FTR #993 Update on Ukraine (Preparations for WWIII?)

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

Com­bat hel­mets of the Azov Bat­tal­ion, which John Cony­ers opposed.

Intro­duc­tion: High­light­ing recent, alarm­ing aspects of the Ukraine cri­sis, the broad­cast under­scores how past and present may sig­nal the begin­ning of World War III in a man­ner not unlike how frac­tious events in the Balka­ns trig­gered the First World War.

With Ukraine now receiv­ing U.S. arms, includ­ing mod­i­fied stinger anti-air­craft mis­siles, the Nazi “pun­ish­er” bat­tal­ions in that coun­try’s East may be in a posi­tion to trig­ger one or more provo­ca­tions that could lead to con­flict between nuclear-armed Rus­sia, NATO and the U.S.

Nazi ele­ments active in the Maid­an coup spawned the Azov and oth­er “pun­ish­er” units. With more infor­ma­tion sur­fac­ing that indi­cates that the Maid­an sniper shoot­ings were a provo­ca­tion-derived event, the pos­si­bil­i­ty that Svo­bo­da and Pravy Sek­tor-linked ele­ments could dri­ve devel­op­ments in the Don­bass toward World War III is one that deserves more atten­tion than it will receive.

Since the Don­bass mili­tias have no air force, the stingers would appear to be deployed in the event of a wider, Ukraine/Russia war.

A fright­en­ing devel­op­ment, vir­tu­al­ly unre­port­ed in the U.S., con­cerns uni­lat­er­al moves by the Poroshenko gov­ern­ment to move away from the Min­sk peace plan and to rebrand the con­flict in East­ern Ukraine as “occu­pa­tion” by an “aggres­sor” Rus­sia.

This appears to pave the way for a wider, deep­er con­flict which could, ulti­mate­ly, draw in the U.S. and NATO: ” . . . . Accord­ing to [Dmitri] Kise­ly­ov, the new law, which awaits Poroshenko’s sig­na­ture, makes prepa­ra­tions for war and includes lan­guage indi­cat­ing a bel­li­cose new approach to the con­flict. The mis­sion in Don­bass is no longer described as an ‘anti-ter­ror­ist oper­a­tion.’ Rather, the mis­sion now is to send armed forces against ‘mil­i­tary for­ma­tions of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion’ in Don­bass.

Mil­i­tary head­quar­ters are estab­lished to coor­di­nate the oper­a­tion to be waged in Don­bass. While up until now the self-declared republics of Donet­sk and Lugan­sk were con­sid­ered under the Min­sk Accords as nego­ti­at­ing par­ties, now there are only ‘occu­pa­tion admin­is­tra­tions’ of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion on these ter­ri­to­ries, with Rus­sia iden­ti­fied as an ‘aggres­sor.’ . . . .”

The dan­ger of Poroshenko seek­ing to play the “war card” to dis­tract from Urkaine’s dire eco­nom­ic cir­cum­stances and his own failed gov­ern­ment are real. Con­flict with Rus­sia could also deflect from Trump’s and the GOP’s fail­ures at home: ” . . . . On the eco­nom­ic front, the Euro­pean Union has refused to extend 600 mil­lion euros of cred­it to Ukraine due to cor­rup­tion. The Inter­na­tion­al Mon­e­tary Fund recent­ly refused a tranche of $800 mil­lion over fail­ure to intro­duce reforms. Mean­while, in 2019 Ukraine is due to start repay­ing ear­li­er loans. This will come to $14 bil­lion a year, which amounts to half the state bud­get of Ukraine.

Due to dire eco­nom­ic con­di­tions, Poroshenko and oth­er gov­ern­ment offi­cials in Kiev have become deeply unpop­u­lar, and with dimin­ished chances for elec­toral suc­cess may see war as polit­i­cal­ly advan­ta­geous. . . .”

The Trump admin­is­tra­tion just approved the sale of sniper rifles and, more sig­nif­i­cant­ly, anti-tank Javelin mis­siles to Ukraine. This should be eval­u­at­ed against the back­ground of the recent moves by Kiev (increas­ing the dan­ger for an esca­lat­ed con­flict) as well as  the activ­i­ties of Kurt Volk­er, the “ex”-CIA offi­cer, NATO func­tionary, George W. Bush State Depart­ment offi­cial and Atlantic Coun­ci­cl Senior advi­sor serv­ing as the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s point-man in Ukraine.

Might anti-air­craft mis­siles be next? As the arti­cle below notes, the Don­bass sep­a­ratists don’t actu­al­ly have an air force, so it would be a curi­ous deci­sion to start send­ing them anti-air­craft weapons. ” . . . . The pro­posed trans­fer — which also would include anti­air­craft arms that would be defined as defen­sive weapon­ry — comes as fight­ing between Ukrain­ian troops and Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists. . . . The util­i­ty of anti­air­craft weapon­ry, for exam­ple, is unclear, as the Russ­ian-backed rebel army has no air force. The war is fought along a line of trench­es that has not moved much since Feb­ru­ary 2015. . . .”

Accord­ing to a report back in June, the Pen­ta­gon recent­ly mod­i­fied shoul­der-fired stinger mis­siles to shoot small down drones that are dif­fi­cult for reg­u­lar Stinger mis­siles to hit. It’s not at all incon­ceiv­able that the anti-air­craft weapons the Pen­ta­gon and State Depart­ment have in mind are those Stinger mis­siles, mod­i­fied for the pur­pose of shoot­ing down sep­a­ratist drones.

Also keep in mind that the shoul­der-launched stringer mis­siles are among the weapons that ter­ror­ists would love to obtain and the Ukrain­ian troops get­ting trained on these sys­tems may include the neo-Nazis fight­ing in Ukraine’s army get­ting trained by US mil­i­tary advi­sors like the Azov batal­lion” . . . . The Amer­i­can train­ing at the Yavoriv base in west­ern Ukraine is focused on forg­ing a dis­ci­plined, pro­fes­sion­al mil­i­tary from the mix of vol­un­teer groups that first fought the Russ­ian incur­sion, rather than plac­ing bets on any high-tech weapons sys­tems. . . .”

When you read that, remem­ber that the “mix of vol­un­teers groups” includes neo-Nazis, includ­ing the Azov Bat­tal­ion.

In oth­er words, if Stinger mis­siles real­ly are part of the mil­i­tary pack­age, and just not yet announced, those lit­tle night­mares could eas­i­ly end up in neo-Nazi hands and the US mil­i­tary could even be the ones train­ing them on how to use them. We’ll see if that’s how it plays out, but we can’t rule it out.

The arms sales described above are being real­ized under the super­vi­sion of Trump’s new point man for Ukraine, “ex”-CIA, State Depart­ment and NATO func­tionary Kurt Volk­er. From Volk­er’s Wikipedia entry: ” . . . . Volk­er began his career in for­eign affairs as an ana­lyst at the Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency in 1986. . . . In July 2005, Volk­er became the Deputy Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for Euro­pean and Eurasian Affairs, serv­ing in that posi­tion until he was appoint­ed Unit­ed States Per­ma­nent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive to NATO in July 2008 by Pres­i­dent George W. Bush. . . . and a Senior Advi­sor at the Atlantic Coun­cil since Octo­ber 2009. . . . .”

We note that the arms sales to Ukraine effect­ed on Volk­er’s watch come after the removal of John Cony­ers (D‑MI), one of the most vocif­er­ous Con­gres­sion­al oppo­nents of arm­ing and train­ing the Azov Bat­tal­ion and sim­i­lar Nazi units.

Next, we take stock of how Cony­ers, “The Krem­lin’s Man in Con­gress,” was removed fol­low­ing a gam­bit by “Alt-Right” blog­ger, Trump ally and misog­y­nist Mike Cer­novich to finance the solic­i­ta­tion of pro­fes­sion­al­ly dam­ag­ing infor­ma­tion about polit­i­cal oppo­nents. “. . . . In Novem­ber, the Trump-back­ing social media agi­ta­tor Mike Cer­novich offered to pay $10,000.00 for details of any con­gres­sion­al sex­u­al harass­ment set­tle­ments, and said on Twit­ter that he would cov­er the expens­es of ‘any VICTIM of a Con­gress­man who wants to come for­ward to tell her sto­ry.’ Short­ly before post­ing that offer, a source pro­vid­ed Mr. Cer­novich with a copy of a sex­u­al harass­ment set­tle­ment that led in Decem­ber to the res­ig­na­tion of Rep­re­sen­ta­tive John Cony­ers Jr., Demo­c­rat of Michi­gan, until then the longest-serv­ing mem­ber of the House. . . .”

In FTR #981, we exam­ined the Ukrain­ian fas­cist foun­da­tion of much of the “Rus­sia-Gate” psy-op,” fol­low­ing that with detailed exam­i­na­tion of the pos­si­bil­i­ty that Paul Man­afort may have actu­al­ly been work­ing as a U.S./Western intel­li­gence asset or agent, delib­er­ate­ly pre­cip­i­tat­ing the Maid­an sniper fire that sound­ed the death knell for the Yanukovich regime.

This pro­gram updates the boil­ing sew­er that is Ukraine, uti­liz­ing infor­ma­tion from Ger­man For­eign Pol­i­cy (which feeds along the low­er right-hand page of this web­site.) We take note of sev­er­al key points:

  1. Cor­rup­tion in Ukraine remains ram­pant and “rule by oli­garch” con­tin­ues unabat­ed under Poroshenko, an oli­garch him­self and the for­mer finance min­is­ter for Yanukovich.
  2. Sup­port­ers of Maid­an have been high­ly crit­i­cal of the con­tin­u­a­tion of this grotesque sta­tus quo.
  3. Among the per­pe­tra­tors of ongo­ing, insti­tu­tion­al­ized cor­rup­tion in Ukraine has been the son of Arsen Avakov, the inte­ri­or min­is­ter and a patron of the Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion. ” . . . . Cor­rup­tion con­tin­ues at high lev­els. For exam­ple, the case of Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov’s son, who sold back­packs to the army at six times their nor­mal price, alleged­ly caus­ing dam­age in the six-dig­it euros. . . .”
  4. Inves­ti­ga­tion of Avakov, jr’s activ­i­ties has been [pre­dictably] inter­dict­ed. ” . . . .When the Nation­al Anti-Cor­rup­tion Bureau searched the man’s house, the Nation­al Guard, under the respon­si­bil­i­ty of the inte­ri­or min­is­ter inter­vened and halt­ed the search — under the pre­text of hav­ing to vacate the build­ing because of a bomb threat. . . .”
  5. The two arti­cle series sets forth greater detail on the sniper shoot­ings at the Maid­an, which look more and more to be a provo­ca­tion. ” . . . . In Feb­ru­ary 2016, Maid­an activist Ivan Bubenchik con­fessed that in the course of the mas­sacre, he had shot Ukrain­ian police offi­cers. Bubenchik con­firmed this in a film that had attract­ed inter­na­tion­al attention.[10] . . . .”
  6. An Ital­ian TV doc­u­men­tary alleges that eth­nic Geor­gian snipers were involved in the Maid­an shoot­ings, fur­ther indi­cat­ing that the Maid­an sniper shoot­ings were a pos­si­ble provo­ca­tion. (The doc­u­men­tary does come from a Berlus­coni-con­trolled out­let, how­ev­er it dove­tails cred­i­bly with oth­er avail­able infor­ma­tion. UNA-UNSO, the lat­est iter­a­tion of the UPA was very active in the cau­ca­sus and Chechens have been work­ing with Pravy Sek­tor and ele­ments asso­ci­at­ed with the Azov Bat­tal­ion. As dis­cussed in FTR #850, for­mer Geor­gian pres­i­dent Mikhail Saakashvili became the gov­er­nor of Odessa province and is very close to Ihor Kolo­moisky, anoth­er patron of the Azov Bat­tal­ion.) In an Ital­ian TV doc­u­men­tary on the Feb­ru­ary 20, 2014 Maid­an mas­sacre, seri­ous accu­sa­tions were made against sev­er­al politi­cians in Ukraine. . . .  In the doc­u­men­tary, three Geor­gians, incrim­i­nat­ing them­selves for their own par­tic­i­pa­tion, report that some of the lead­ers of the protests, who are today mem­bers of Kiev’s par­lia­ment, had sup­plied weapons to the snipers, who, at the time, indis­crim­i­nate­ly killed police­men and demon­stra­tors. Offi­cial­ly, this mas­sacre is still being attrib­uted to Ukrain­ian repres­sive organs or to unspec­i­fied Rus­sians. The Geor­gians also report that the cur­rent speak­er of the par­lia­ment, Andriy Paru­biy, was often seen in the hotel, from where the snipers were fir­ing that day. As ‘Maid­an Commander,‘Parubiy had been in charge of con­trol­ling armed gangs on that square. The man, whose real role at the time remains unclear, was a guest at a con­fer­ence held by the Kon­rad Ade­nauer Foun­da­tion and a speak­er at NATO events. . . .”
  7. Paru­biy was one of the main orga­niz­ers of the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion, which brought Vik­tor Yuschenko to pow­er and installed OUN/B deriv­a­tive orga­ni­za­tions in pow­er in Ukraine, sort of a “pre-Maid­an” Maid­an.” . . . .  Fol­low­ing his retire­ment from the par­ty, this expe­ri­enced protest activist became one of the main orga­niz­ers of the 2004 ‘Orange Rev­o­lu­tion.’  . . .”
  8. Andriy Paru­biy was the first defense min­is­ter of the Ukraine inter­im gov­ern­ment and a mem­ber of the OUN/B‑redux Svo­bo­da Par­ty. His role in the events dove­tails with the pos­si­ble par­tic­i­pa­tion of fas­cist and Nazi snipers who were to par­tic­i­pate in the Azov Bat­tal­ion. “. . . . The Geor­gians’ accu­sa­tions also impli­cate, at least indi­rect­ly, the ‘Com­man­der of the Maid­an,’ Andriy Paru­biy. Paru­biy comes from the Ukrain­ian fas­cist scene. In the ear­ly 1990s he was one of the founders of the extreme right-wing Social Nation­al Par­ty of Ukraine. Since 1996, he was the leader of its mil­i­tarist street fight­ing sub­sidiary ‘Patri­ot of Ukraine.’ Fol­low­ing his retire­ment from the par­ty, this expe­ri­enced protest activist became one of the main orga­niz­ers of the 2004 ‘Orange Rev­o­lu­tion.’ In 2013, he assumed the same func­tion at the Maid­an, where he was respon­si­ble for none oth­er than secu­ri­ty and the ‘self-defense units,’ which were often made up of heav­i­ly armed thugs. In the Ital­ian TV doc­u­men­tary, it was report­ed that Paru­biy was going in and out of Hotel Ukraina, from where numer­ous dead­ly shots were being fired. Paru­biy, claims that the hotel from which these shots were being fired — which was firm­ly under the Maid­an demon­stra­tors’ con­trol — had been tak­en over ‘by snipers who arrived from Rus­sia and who were con­trolled by Rus­sia.’ . . .”

We con­clude with anoth­er exam­ple of just what the con­tem­po­rary Ukrain­ian polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment is man­i­fest­ing. Ukraine’s offi­cial under­stand­ing of its own WWII his­to­ry and the Holo­caust had anoth­er man­i­fes­ta­tion of Orwellian his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ism. This time it was by Poroshenko rein­forc­ing the Orwellian revi­sion. ” . . . . As we report­ed back in Octo­ber, Ukrain­ian media out­let Radio Svo­bo­da — the Ukrain­ian arm of the US Gov­ern­ment-fund­ed arm of RFERL — post­ed a pic­ture from the US Holo­caust Muse­um. It is an image of Pol­ish Jews being deport­ed to a death camp. There was just one prob­lem. Radio Svo­bo­da claimed the pic­ture was from 1949 of Ukraini­ans being deport­ed to Siberia. In fact, so effec­tive was Radio Svoboda’s forgery that Pres­i­dent Poroshenko him­self tweet­ed it claim­ing it showed Ukraini­ans being deport­ed. . . . Today it emerged that a major Ukrain­ian media out­let has struck again. In a Decem­ber 20th arti­cle about the hor­rors of the NKVD (Sovi­et fore­run­ner of the KGB), media out­let “Ukrin­form” also bor­rowed a pic­ture from the US Holo­caust Muse­um, this time of Ukrain­ian Aux­il­iary Police­men shoot­ing a Jew­ish child and moth­er — and fraud­u­lent­ly claimed it was actu­al­ly of the NKVD shoot­ing peo­ple. The cap­tion reads in trans­la­tion: ‘Atroc­i­ties of the Chekhists: the exe­cu­tion of a moth­er and child by the NKVD’. . . .”

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

  1. Review of the pos­si­ble role of Nazi hack­er, Glenn Green­wald asso­ciate and Ukraine res­i­dent Andrew “Weev” Aueren­heimer in the high-pro­file hacks: ” . . . . [Peter W.] Smith also reached out to ‘Guc­cifer 2.0’—an alias the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty has linked to Russ­ian state hackers—and was advised to seek the help of a white nation­al­ist hack­er who lives in Ukraine. . . . [Pax] John­son said he also sug­gest­ed that Smith get in touch with Andrew Auern­heimer, a hack­er who goes by the alias “Weev” and has col­lab­o­rat­ed with John­son in the past. . . .” We note that Charles C. John­son, an asso­ciate of Mike Cer­novich, was involved with this maneu­ver.
  2. Review of Atlantic Coun­cil fel­low Dmitri Alper­ovitch (co-founder and chief tech­nol­o­gy offi­cer of Crowd­strike, the cyber-secu­ri­ty firm that led the charge to attribute the high-pro­file hacks to Rus­sia. Kurt Volk­er is also close­ly affil­i­at­ed with the Atlantic Coun­cil. ” . . . . Dmitri Alper­ovitch is also a senior fel­low at the Atlantic Coun­cil. . . . The con­nec­tion between [Crowd­strike co-founder and chief tech­nol­o­gy offi­cer Dmitri] Alper­ovitch and the Atlantic Coun­cil has gone large­ly unre­marked upon, but it is rel­e­vant giv­en that the Atlantic Coun­cil—which is is fund­ed in part by the US State Depart­ment, NATO, the gov­ern­ments of Latvia and Lithua­nia, the Ukrain­ian World Con­gress, and the Ukrain­ian oli­garch Vic­tor Pinchuk—has been among the loud­est voic­es call­ing for a new Cold War with Rus­sia. As I point­ed out in the pages of The Nation in Novem­ber, the Atlantic Coun­cil has spent the past sev­er­al years pro­duc­ing some of the most vir­u­lent spec­i­mens of the new Cold War pro­pa­gan­da. . . .

1. A fright­en­ing devel­op­ment, vir­tu­al­ly unre­port­ed in the U.S., con­cerns uni­lat­er­al moves by the Poroshenko gov­ern­ment to move away from the Min­sk peace plan and to rebrand the con­flict in East­ern Ukraine as “occu­pa­tion” by an “aggres­sor” Rus­sia.

This appears to pave the way for a wider, deep­er con­flict which could, ulti­mate­ly, draw in the U.S. and NATO: ” . . . . Accord­ing to [Dmitri] Kise­ly­ov, the new law, which awaits Poroshenko’s sig­na­ture, makes prepa­ra­tions for war and includes lan­guage indi­cat­ing a bel­li­cose new approach to the con­flict. The mis­sion in Don­bass is no longer described as an ‘anti-ter­ror­ist oper­a­tion.’ Rather, the mis­sion now is to send armed forces against ‘mil­i­tary for­ma­tions of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion’ in Don­bass.

Mil­i­tary head­quar­ters are estab­lished to coor­di­nate the oper­a­tion to be waged in Don­bass. While up until now the self-declared republics of Donet­sk and Lugan­sk were con­sid­ered under the Min­sk Accords as nego­ti­at­ing par­ties, now there are only ‘occu­pa­tion admin­is­tra­tions’ of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion on these ter­ri­to­ries, with Rus­sia iden­ti­fied as an ‘aggres­sor.’ . . . .”

The dan­ger of Poroshenko seek­ing to play the “war card” to dis­tract from Urkaine’s dire eco­nom­ic cir­cum­stances and his own failed gov­ern­ment are real. Con­flict with Rus­sia could also deflect from Trump’s and the GOP’s fail­ures at home: ” . . . . On the eco­nom­ic front, the Euro­pean Union has refused to extend 600 mil­lion euros of cred­it to Ukraine due to cor­rup­tion. The Inter­na­tion­al Mon­e­tary Fund recent­ly refused a tranche of $800 mil­lion over fail­ure to intro­duce reforms. Mean­while, in 2019 Ukraine is due to start repay­ing ear­li­er loans. This will come to $14 bil­lion a year, which amounts to half the state bud­get of Ukraine.

Due to dire eco­nom­ic con­di­tions, Poroshenko and oth­er gov­ern­ment offi­cials in Kiev have become deeply unpop­u­lar, and with dimin­ished chances for elec­toral suc­cess may see war as polit­i­cal­ly advan­ta­geous. . . .”

“A Com­ing Rus­sia-Ukraine War?” by Gilbert Doc­torow; Consortiumnews.com; 1/21/2018.

A new draft law adopt­ed by the Ukrain­ian Par­lia­ment and await­ing Petro Poroshenko’s sig­na­ture threat­ens to esca­late the Ukrain­ian con­flict into a full-blown war, pit­ting nuclear-armed Rus­sia against the Unit­ed States and NATO, reports Gilbert Doc­torow.

While much of America’s – and the world’s – atten­tion focused this week­end reflect­ing on Don­ald Trump’s first year in the Oval Office, hold­ing one-year anniver­sary events for the his­toric Women’s March and draw­ing up bal­ance sheets of his promis­es and achieve­ments, Rus­sia has had a rather dif­fer­ent issue on the front-burn­er: a pos­si­ble war with Ukraine.

The sit­u­a­tion in the Don­bass region of south-east­ern Ukraine has been a fea­ture of Russia’s polit­i­cal talk shows for the past cou­ple years, along with the mil­i­tary cam­paign in Syr­ia and more recent­ly the stages in the prepa­ra­tion for pres­i­den­tial elec­tions on March 18.

Focus on the Don­bass con­flict increased in the clos­ing weeks of 2017 as mil­i­tary action on the front lines sep­a­rat­ing the forces of the self-pro­claimed republics of Donet­sk and Lugan­sk enjoy­ing Russ­ian sup­port from Ukrain­ian mili­tias and armed forces reached an inten­si­ty not seen for more than a year. This is despite the her­ald­ed exchange of mil­i­tary pris­on­ers by both sides before New Year’s under talks super­vised by the Patri­arch of the Russ­ian Ortho­dox Church Kir­ill.

Then, this past Thurs­day came a whol­ly new devel­op­ment – a draft law passed by the Ukrain­ian Par­lia­ment that could effec­tive­ly end Kiev’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the con­flict res­o­lu­tion process known as the Min­sk Accords. Although observers in the Unit­ed States and West­ern Europe may have missed it, many Rus­sians believe this devel­op­ment amounts to a dec­la­ra­tion of war.

Dmitri Kise­ly­ov, head of all Russ­ian tele­vi­sion and radio news ser­vices, offered a sober analy­sis of the emo­tion­al­ly charged devel­op­ment on his Sun­day evening news wrap-up today.

Accord­ing to Kise­ly­ov, the new law, which awaits Poroshenko’s sig­na­ture, makes prepa­ra­tions for war and includes lan­guage indi­cat­ing a bel­li­cose new approach to the con­flict. The mis­sion in Don­bass is no longer described as an “anti-ter­ror­ist oper­a­tion.” Rather, the mis­sion now is to send armed forces against “mil­i­tary for­ma­tions of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion” in Don­bass.

Mil­i­tary head­quar­ters are estab­lished to coor­di­nate the oper­a­tion to be waged in Don­bass. While up until now the self-declared republics of Donet­sk and Lugan­sk were con­sid­ered under the Min­sk Accords as nego­ti­at­ing par­ties, now there are only “occu­pa­tion admin­is­tra­tions” of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion on these ter­ri­to­ries, with Rus­sia iden­ti­fied as an “aggres­sor.”

“This makes it all the more con­ve­nient for Ukraine to start a war,” Kise­ly­ov says, not­ing that it could have the added ben­e­fit of enabling Ukraine not to pay its for­eign debts and to ensure Poroshenko’s con­tin­ued grip on pow­er.

A Vesti reporter on the ground in Donet­sk con­firmed with local res­i­dents their view that the law means war. They see the cur­rent moment on the front line as “the calm before the storm.” Donet­sk sol­diers at their trench­es say they are ful­ly ready to engage with the ene­my.

While Kise­ly­ov acknowl­edges that the draft law might not ulti­mate­ly be imple­ment­ed, it nev­er­the­less reveals a grow­ing mood in the Ukrain­ian cap­i­tal in favor of esca­la­tion. The facts speak for them­selves, Kise­ly­ov says, with Poroshenko fail­ing to adhere to the Min­sk Accords – for exam­ple by orga­niz­ing local elec­tions in Don­bass – or to observe cease­fires along the lines of con­tact. There are attacks and deaths every day and only counter force have pushed back recent Ukrain­ian attempts to gain ter­ri­to­ry.

Kiev has seem­ing­ly writ­ten off the pop­u­la­tion of the two self-pro­claimed republics – cut­ting off all trans­port and tele­coms links and fail­ing to pay pen­sions and assis­tance to the needy. It closed the bank­ing sys­tem and there are no com­mer­cial ties. For Kiev the two provinces are mere­ly ter­ri­to­ry to take back from the occu­piers, with the well­be­ing of the local pop­u­la­tions at best a sec­ondary con­cern.

On the eco­nom­ic front, the Euro­pean Union has refused to extend 600 mil­lion euros of cred­it to Ukraine due to cor­rup­tion. The Inter­na­tion­al Mon­e­tary Fund recent­ly refused a tranche of $800 mil­lion over fail­ure to intro­duce reforms. Mean­while, in 2019 Ukraine is due to start repay­ing ear­li­er loans. This will come to $14 bil­lion a year, which amounts to half the state bud­get of Ukraine.

Due to dire eco­nom­ic con­di­tions, Poroshenko and oth­er gov­ern­ment offi­cials in Kiev have become deeply unpop­u­lar, and with dimin­ished chances for elec­toral suc­cess may see war as polit­i­cal­ly advan­ta­geous.

And although there are indi­ca­tions that some West­ern lead­ers are fed up with Kiev, the Unit­ed States has dou­bled down in its sup­port for a mil­i­tary solu­tion to the con­flict. With mil­i­tary train­ers now on the ground and the U.S. bud­get­ing $350 mil­lion for secu­ri­ty assis­tance to Ukraine, Wash­ing­ton has also recent­ly start­ed deliv­er­ing lethal weapons includ­ing the Javelin anti-tank mis­sile sys­tem free of charge to Kiev.

In con­trast to the image of Trump admin­is­tra­tion poli­cies being dic­tat­ed by Moscow, as por­trayed by pro­po­nents of Rus­sia-gate con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, the Unit­ed States is instead mov­ing towards deep­er con­fronta­tion with the Krem­lin in the geopo­lit­i­cal hotspot of Ukraine.

For its part, the Krem­lin has very lit­tle to gain and a great deal to lose eco­nom­i­cal­ly and diplo­mat­i­cal­ly from a cam­paign now against Kiev. If suc­cess­ful, as like­ly would be the case giv­en the vast dis­par­i­ty in mil­i­tary poten­tial of the two sides, it could eas­i­ly become a Pyrrhic vic­to­ry.

But notwith­stand­ing Kiselyov’s reas­sur­ing words on his Sun­day evening news wrap-up, it may well be the case that Moscow feels it has no choice. Moves by Kiev to exac­er­bate the con­flict must be quick­ly coun­tered to pre­vent deep­er inter­ven­tion by the Unit­ed States and its NATO allies and pre­vent the con­di­tions for WWIII from tak­ing hold.

2a. The Trump admin­is­tra­tion just approved the sale of sniper rifles and, more sig­nif­i­cant­ly, anti-tank Javelin mis­siles to Ukraine. This should be eval­u­at­ed against the back­ground of recent moves by Kiev which increase the dan­ger for an esca­lat­ed con­flict, as well as  the activ­i­ties of Kurt Volk­er, the “ex”-CIA offi­cer, NATO func­tionary, George W. Bush State Depart­ment offi­cial and Atlantic Coun­ci­cl Senior advi­sor serv­ing as the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s point-man in Ukraine.

“Trump Sends Tank-Killing Mis­sile To Fight Rus­sia in Ukraine, But What Can It Do?” by John Halti­wanger; Newsweek; 12/26/2017

The Trump admin­is­tra­tion approved the sale of anti-tank mis­siles to Ukraine on Fri­day as it con­tin­ues to fight pro-Russ­ian forces in the east­ern part of the coun­try, a move that has angered the Krem­lin and sig­ni­fies the U.S. government’s esca­lat­ing involve­ment in the con­flict.The deci­sion to sell the Javelin mis­siles also comes not long after the Trump admin­is­tra­tion approved a lim­it­ed weapons sale between Amer­i­can man­u­fac­tur­ers and Ukraine of Mod­el M107A1 sniper sys­tems, ammu­ni­tion and asso­ci­at­ed equip­ment.

“The Unit­ed States has decid­ed to pro­vide Ukraine enhanced defen­sive capa­bil­i­ties as part of our effort to help Ukraine build its long-term defense capac­i­ty, to defend its sov­er­eign­ty and ter­ri­to­r­i­al integri­ty, and to deter fur­ther aggres­sion,” U.S. State Depart­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert told The Wall Street Jour­nal on Fri­day.

The price of the sale was not revealed.

The Ukraine con­flict has tak­en some­what of a back­seat to oth­er glob­al issues in 2017, but it still rages on in a stale­mate. Since it began in 2014, the com­bat in Ukraine has claimed more than 10,000 lives and dis­placed more than 1.6 mil­lion peo­ple, accord­ing to the Unit­ed Nations. There are rough­ly 40 armed clash­es per day as a sup­posed cease­fire is habit­u­al­ly vio­lat­ed in a con­flict that has stretched more than three years. Rus­sia has faced tough eco­nom­ic sanc­tions over its activ­i­ties in Ukraine, such as the annex­a­tion of Crimea, but this has had lit­tle impact on its mil­i­tary actions.

John Herb­st, who served as U.S. ambas­sador to Ukraine from 2003 to 2006, recent­ly told Newsweek that pro­vid­ing Javelin anti-tank mis­siles to Kiev could sig­nif­i­cant­ly improve the sit­u­a­tion for Ukraine, which had pre­vi­ous­ly sought the weapons. “The Rus­sians have used tanks effec­tive­ly to take Ukrain­ian ter­ri­to­ry and kill Ukraini­ans,” Herb­st said. “Javelin anti-tank mis­siles would make it much more dan­ger­ous and dif­fi­cult to do that.”

The mis­siles are light­weight, pow­er­ful, expen­sive, and high­ly reg­u­lat­ed due to their reli­a­bil­i­ty in hit­ting tar­gets, accord­ing The Nation­al Inter­est. The U.S.-made mis­sile, which first entered ser­vice in 1996, has proven itself reli­able across mul­ti­ple bat­tle­fields, includ­ing Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s fired from the shoul­der and tracks tar­gets via infrared (heat sig­na­ture). Instead of tar­get­ing the front or sides of tanks, which are thick with armor, the mis­sile flies in an arc and hits the top of tank where the armor is weak (see video below for a demon­stra­tion).

The State Depart­ment approved the sale of Javelin mis­siles in Novem­ber to Geor­gia, which waged a war with Rus­sia in 2008 and con­tin­ues to fight with its north­ern neigh­bor over South Osse­tia and Abk­hazia. The sale, worth $75 mil­lion, includ­ed 410 Javelin Mis­siles and 72 Javelin launch units.

In the wake of the announce­ment of the new arms sale to Ukraine, Rus­sia sug­gest­ed it would exac­er­bate the con­flict and serve as an imped­i­ment to any peace­keep­ing efforts, The New York Times report­ed. But Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko defend­ed the move in a Face­book post, thank­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump for his sup­port.

2b. Might anti-air­craft mis­siles be next? As the arti­cle below notes, the Don­bass sep­a­ratists don’t actu­al­ly have an air force, so it would be a curi­ous deci­sion to start send­ing them anti-air­craft weapons. ” . . . . The pro­posed trans­fer — which also would include anti­air­craft arms that would be defined as defen­sive weapon­ry — comes as fight­ing between Ukrain­ian troops and Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists. . . . The util­i­ty of anti­air­craft weapon­ry, for exam­ple, is unclear, as the Russ­ian-backed rebel army has no air force. The war is fought along a line of trench­es that has not moved much since Feb­ru­ary 2015. . . .”

Accord­ing to a report back in June, the Pen­ta­gon recent­ly mod­i­fied shoul­der-fired stinger mis­siles to shoot small down drones that are dif­fi­cult for reg­u­lar Stinger mis­siles to hit. It’s not at all incon­ceiv­able that the anti-air­craft weapons the Pen­ta­gon and State Depart­ment have in mind are those Stinger mis­siles, mod­i­fied for the pur­pose of shoot­ing down sep­a­ratist drones.

Also keep in mind that the shoul­der-launched stringer mis­siles are among the weapons that ter­ror­ists would love to obtain and the Ukrain­ian troops get­ting trained on these sys­tems may include the neo-Nazis fight­ing in Ukraine’s army get­ting trained by US mil­i­tary advi­sors like the Azov batal­lion” . . . . The Amer­i­can train­ing at the Yavoriv base in west­ern Ukraine is focused on forg­ing a dis­ci­plined, pro­fes­sion­al mil­i­tary from the mix of vol­un­teer groups that first fought the Russ­ian incur­sion, rather than plac­ing bets on any high-tech weapons sys­tems. . . .”

When you read that, remem­ber that the “mix of vol­un­teers groups” includes neo-Nazis, includ­ing the Azov Bat­tal­ion.

In oth­er words, if Stinger mis­siles real­ly are part of the mil­i­tary pack­age, and just not yet announced, those lit­tle night­mares could eas­i­ly end up in neo-Nazi hands and the US mil­i­tary could even be the ones train­ing them on how to use them. We’ll see if that’s how it plays out, but we can’t rule it out.

“Pen­ta­gon and State Depart­ment Said to Pro­pose Arm­ing Ukraine” by Eric Schmitt and Andrew E. Kramer; The New York Times; 08/01/2017

 The Pen­ta­gon and State Depart­ment have pro­posed to the White House a plan to sup­ply Ukraine with anti-tank mis­siles and oth­er arms, accord­ing to Defense Depart­ment offi­cials.

The pro­posed trans­fer — which also would include anti­air­craft arms that would be defined as defen­sive weapon­ry — comes as fight­ing between Ukrain­ian troops and Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists has increased in recent days, and the Unit­ed States is tak­ing steps to deter aggres­sive mil­i­tary actions by Moscow.

The plan by the Pen­ta­gon and State Depart­ment has been pre­sent­ed to the White House, but no deci­sion has been made, said a Defense Depart­ment offi­cial, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to dis­cuss a pro­pos­al still under review. It was not clear if Pres­i­dent Trump had been briefed on the pro­pos­al.

Whether to pro­vide more sub­stan­tial weapon­ry to Kiev’s belea­guered forces has embroiled Amer­i­can pol­i­cy mak­ers for sev­er­al years.

Two years ago, eight for­mer senior Amer­i­can offi­cials urged the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion to send $3 bil­lion in defen­sive arms and equip­ment to Ukraine, includ­ing anti-armor mis­siles, recon­nais­sance drones, armored Humvees and radars that can deter­mine the loca­tion of ene­my rock­et and artillery fire.

Pres­i­dent Oba­ma ulti­mate­ly decid­ed against pro­vid­ing such lethal assis­tance, despite a series of strik­ing rever­sals that Ukraine’s forces suf­fered on the bat­tle­field.

Fear­ing that the pro­vi­sion of defen­sive weapons might tempt Pres­i­dent Vladimir V. Putin of Rus­sia to raise the stakes, the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion lim­it­ed Amer­i­can aid to “non­lethal” items, includ­ing body armor, night-vision gog­gles, first aid kits and engi­neer­ing equip­ment.

But the issue was rekin­dled when Mr. Trump took office.

Under the new pro­pos­al, which was report­ed ear­li­er by The Wall Street Jour­nal, the admin­is­tra­tion would pro­vide anti-tank weapons, most like­ly Javelin mis­siles, as well as pos­si­bly anti­air­craft weapons, in addi­tion to oth­er arms. Ukraine has long sought Javelins to counter Russ­ian-made armored vehi­cles in rebel-held areas.

“They are mak­ing the same pro­pos­al to the White House as we did, but tak­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ty posed by Russia’s retal­i­a­tion and, unfor­tu­nate­ly, I sus­pect, some move­ment on the ground in Ukraine,” said Eve­lyn Farkas, the Pentagon’s top Rus­sia pol­i­cy offi­cial at the end of the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion. “We should have our eyes on that.”

While it has not sup­plied anti-tank mis­siles thus far, the Amer­i­can mil­i­tary has been assist­ing the Ukrain­ian army by train­ing sol­diers in meth­ods to halt armored vehi­cles with­out mis­siles, such as by lay­ing traps of wire that coil into the treads of tracked vehi­cles.

The Amer­i­can train­ing at the Yavoriv base in west­ern Ukraine is focused on forg­ing a dis­ci­plined, pro­fes­sion­al mil­i­tary from the mix of vol­un­teer groups that first fought the Russ­ian incur­sion, rather than plac­ing bets on any high-tech weapons sys­tems.

The util­i­ty of anti­air­craft weapon­ry, for exam­ple, is unclear, as the Russ­ian-backed rebel army has no air force. The war is fought along a line of trench­es that has not moved much since Feb­ru­ary 2015. . . .

3a. The arms sales described above are being real­ized under the super­vi­sion of Trump’s new point man for Ukraine, “ex”-CIA, State Depart­ment and NATO func­tionary Kurt Volk­er.

“Can Kurt Volk­er Solve the Ukraine Cri­sis?” by Curt Mills; The Nation­al Inter­est; 7/10/2017.

As Don­ald Trump spoke with Russ­ian pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin in Ham­burg late last week, his State Depart­ment announced the appoint­ment of a tough-mind­ed for­mer NATO ambas­sador to serve as Washington’s new point man on Ukraine. His man­date is to help imple­ment the Min­sk agree­ments. Kurt Volk­er is wide­ly respect­ed as an accom­plished diplo­mat, but in Ukraine he con­fronts his great­est chal­lenge yet.

Volk­er was last seen in gov­ern­ment in the ear­ly days of the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion, a holdover at NATO installed by Pres­i­dent George W. Bush. Volk­er had tak­en office a month before Rus­sia invad­ed Geor­gia in August 2008. Whether such tim­ing shaped Volker’s views on the Krem­lin, or mere­ly cement­ed them, is unclear. But it is large­ly undis­put­ed, in both Wash­ing­ton and Moscow, that in choos­ing Volk­er, Rex Tiller­son has opt­ed to appoint a Rus­sia hawk who also believes in diplo­ma­cy. This mix­ture may allow him to tack­le suc­cess­ful­ly a divid­ing point between East and West that has thwart­ed pre­vi­ous efforts to resolve it. Accord­ing to Paul Saun­ders, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Cen­ter for the Nation­al Inter­est and a for­mer George W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial, “Kurt Volk­er is an expe­ri­enced and tough-mind­ed diplo­mat who knows how to com­bine prin­ci­ples and prag­ma­tism into pol­i­cy. He is wide­ly respect­ed across the polit­i­cal spec­trum.”

“Although he may be seen as hawk­ish by the Russ­ian side, he will cer­tain­ly be tak­en seri­ous­ly,” says Matthew Rojan­sky, direc­tor of the Ken­nan Insti­tute at the Woodrow Wil­son Cen­ter, of the new spe­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Ukraine nego­ti­a­tions, whose vaunt­ed resume also includes stints at the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil, CIA and For­eign Ser­vice. “Volker’s appoint­ment will be wel­comed by our Euro­pean allies and by the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment.” Tiller­son, who trav­elled to the G‑20 with Trump last week, called Volk­er “unique­ly qual­i­fied” to move the Ukrain­ian con­flict “in the direc­tion of peace,” in a state­ment announc­ing the appoint­ment. . . .

3b.  More about Kurt Volk­er’s back­ground from is Wikipedia entry: ” . . . . Volk­er began his career in for­eign affairs as an ana­lyst at the Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency in 1986. . . . In July 2005, Volk­er became the Deputy Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for Euro­pean and Eurasian Affairs, serv­ing in that posi­tion until he was appoint­ed Unit­ed States Per­ma­nent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive to NATO in July 2008 by Pres­i­dent George W. Bush. . . . and a Senior Advi­sor at the Atlantic Coun­cil since Octo­ber 2009. . . . .”

“Kurt Volk­er;” Wikipedia.com.

Volk­er began his career in for­eign affairs as an ana­lyst at the Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency in 1986.[1]

In 1988, he joined the Unit­ed States Depart­ment of State as a For­eign Ser­vice Offi­cer in the Unit­ed States For­eign Ser­vice.[1] While in the For­eign Ser­vice, he served in var­i­ous assign­ments over­seas includ­ing Lon­don and Brus­sels, and the US Embassy in Budapest (1994–1997). Volk­er was spe­cial assis­tant to the Unit­ed States spe­cial envoy for Bosnia nego­ti­a­tions, Richard Hol­brooke.

Volk­er served as a leg­isla­tive fel­low on the staff of Sen­a­tor John McCain from 1997 to 1998. In 1998, he became first sec­re­tary of the US mis­sion to NATO, and in 1999 he was sent to Deputy Direc­tor of NATO Sec­re­tary-Gen­er­al George Robert­son’s pri­vate office, serv­ing in that posi­tion until 2001.[4]

He then became act­ing direc­tor for Euro­pean and Eurasian Affairs for the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil, in that capac­i­ty he was in charge of US prepa­ra­tions for 2004 Istan­bul sum­mit of NATO mem­bers and the 2002 Prague sum­mit. In July 2005, Volk­er became the Deputy Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for Euro­pean and Eurasian Affairs, serv­ing in that posi­tion until he was appoint­ed Unit­ed States Per­ma­nent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive to NATO in July 2008 by Pres­i­dent George W. Bush.[4]Volk­er served in that posi­tion from July 2, 2008 to May 15, 2009.[4]

Volk­er went into the pri­vate sec­tor in 2009, becom­ing an inde­pen­dent direc­tor at The Wall Street Fund Inc[5], where he worked until 2012. He was a mem­ber of the board of direc­tors at Cap­i­tal Guardian Funds Trust[6]begin­ning in 2013[7]. Volk­er was also an inde­pen­dent direc­tor at Ever­core Wealth Man­age­ment Macro Oppor­tu­ni­ty Fund until 2012[8].

Volk­er served as a senior advi­sor at McLar­ty Asso­ciates, a glob­al con­sult­ing firm from 2010 – 2011.

In 2011, he joined BGR Group, a Wash­ing­ton-based lob­by­ing firm and invest­ment bank, where he cur­rent­ly serves as a man­ag­ing direc­tor in the fir­m’s inter­na­tion­al group.[9]

He then became exec­u­tive direc­tor of Ari­zona State Uni­ver­si­ty’s McCain Insti­tute for Inter­na­tion­al Lead­er­ship[10]when it was launched[11] in 2012.

He has been a Senior Fel­low at the Cen­ter for Transat­lantic Rela­tions, Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­si­ty School of Advanced Inter­na­tion­al Stud­ies since Sep­tem­ber 2009, and a Senior Advi­sor at the Atlantic Coun­cil since Octo­ber 2009. . . . .

3c. The sto­ry we review next points out that Crowd­strike is head­ed by Dmitri Alper­ovitch a senior fel­low at the Atlantic Coun­cil, which is fund­ed, in part, by the State Depart­ment, NATO, Lithua­nia, Latvia, the Ukrain­ian World Con­gress and Ukrain­ian oli­garch Vic­tor Pinchuk!

” . . . . Yet despite the scores of breath­less media pieces that assert that Russia’s inter­fer­ence in the elec­tion is ‘case closed,‘might some skep­ti­cism be in order? Some cyber experts say ‘yes.’ . . . Cyber-secu­ri­ty experts have also weighed in. The secu­ri­ty edi­tor at Ars Tech­ni­ca observed that ‘Instead of pro­vid­ing smok­ing guns that the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment was behind spe­cif­ic hacks,’ the gov­ern­ment report ‘large­ly restates pre­vi­ous pri­vate sec­tor claims with­out pro­vid­ing any sup­port for their valid­i­ty.’ Robert M. Lee of the cyber-secu­ri­ty com­pa­ny Dra­gos not­ed that the report ‘reads like a poor­ly done ven­dor intel­li­gence report string­ing togeth­er var­i­ous aspects of attri­bu­tion with­out evi­dence.’ Cyber­se­cu­ri­ty con­sul­tant Jef­frey Carr not­ed that the report ‘mere­ly list­ed every threat group ever report­ed on by a com­mer­cial cyber­se­cu­ri­ty com­pa­ny that is sus­pect­ed of being Russ­ian-made and lumped them under the head­ing of Russ­ian Intel­li­gence Ser­vices (RIS) with­out pro­vid­ing any sup­port­ing evi­dence that such a con­nec­tion exists.’ . . .”

“In this respect, it is worth not­ing that one of the com­mer­cial cyber­se­cu­ri­ty com­pa­nies the gov­ern­ment has relied on is Crowd­strike, which was one of the com­pa­nies ini­tial­ly brought in by the DNC to inves­ti­gate the alleged hacks.”

” . . . . Dmitri Alper­ovitch is also a senior fel­low at the Atlantic Coun­cil. . . . The con­nec­tion between [Crowd­strike co-founder and chief tech­nol­o­gy offi­cer Dmitri] Alper­ovitch and the Atlantic Coun­cil has gone large­ly unre­marked upon, but it is rel­e­vant giv­en that the Atlantic Coun­cil—which is is fund­ed in part by the US State Depart­ment, NATO, the gov­ern­ments of Latvia and Lithua­nia, the Ukrain­ian World Con­gress, and the Ukrain­ian oli­garch Vic­tor Pinchuk—has been among the loud­est voic­es call­ing for a new Cold War with Rus­sia. As I point­ed out in the pages of The Nation in Novem­ber, the Atlantic Coun­cil has spent the past sev­er­al years pro­duc­ing some of the most vir­u­lent spec­i­mens of the new Cold War pro­pa­gan­da. . . .

 “Is Skep­ti­cism Trea­son?” by James Car­den; The Nation; 1/3/2017.

Despite the scores of media pieces which assert that Russia’s inter­fer­ence in the elec­tion is “case closed,” some cyber experts say skep­ti­cism is still in order.

The final days of 2016 were filled with more developments—some real, some not—in the ongo­ing sto­ry of Russia’s alleged inter­fer­ence in the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. On Decem­ber 29, the FBI and the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty released a joint report that pro­vid­ed “tech­ni­cal details regard­ing the tools and infra­struc­ture used by the Russ­ian civil­ian and mil­i­tary intel­li­gence Ser­vices (RIS) to com­pro­mise and exploit net­works and end­points asso­ci­at­ed with the U.S. elec­tion.”

In retal­i­a­tion, the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion announced that it was expelling 35 Russ­ian diplo­mats, clos­ing 2 diplo­mat­ic com­pounds in Mary­land and New York, and apply­ing sanc­tions on Russia’s intel­li­gence ser­vice. A day lat­er, Decem­ber 30, The Wash­ing­ton Post report­ed that an elec­tri­cal util­i­ty in Ver­mont had been infil­trat­ed by the same Russ­ian mal­ware that used to hack the DNC.

Tak­en togeth­er, these events set off a wave of media con­dem­na­tion not just of the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment, but of Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald J. Trump for what is wide­ly believed to be his over­ly accom­moda­tive pos­ture toward Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

Yet despite the scores of breath­less media pieces that assert that Russia’s inter­fer­ence in the elec­tion is “case closed,” might some skep­ti­cism be in order? Some cyber experts say “yes.”

As was quick­ly point­ed out by the Burling­ton Free Press, The Wash­ing­ton Post’s sto­ry on the Ver­mont pow­er grid was inac­cu­rate. The mal­ware was detect­ed on a lap­top that belonged to the util­i­ty but was not con­nect­ed to the pow­er plant. “The grid is not in dan­ger,” said a spokesman for the Burling­ton util­i­ty. The Post has since amend­ed its sto­ry with an editor’s note (as it did when its Novem­ber 24 sto­ry on Russ­ian “fake news” by reporter Craig Tim­berg was wide­ly refut­ed) dial­ing back its orig­i­nal claims of Russ­ian infil­tra­tion.

Cyber-secu­ri­ty experts have also weighed in. The secu­ri­ty edi­tor at Ars Tech­ni­ca observed that “Instead of pro­vid­ing smok­ing guns that the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment was behind spe­cif­ic hacks,” the gov­ern­ment report “large­ly restates pre­vi­ous pri­vate sec­tor claims with­out pro­vid­ing any sup­port for their valid­i­ty.” Robert M. Lee of the cyber-secu­ri­ty com­pa­ny Dra­gos not­ed that the report “reads like a poor­ly done ven­dor intel­li­gence report string­ing togeth­er var­i­ous aspects of attri­bu­tion with­out evi­dence.” Cyber­se­cu­ri­ty con­sul­tant Jef­frey Carr not­ed that the report “mere­ly list­ed every threat group ever report­ed on by a com­mer­cial cyber­se­cu­ri­ty com­pa­ny that is sus­pect­ed of being Russ­ian-made and lumped them under the head­ing of Russ­ian Intel­li­gence Ser­vices (RIS) with­out pro­vid­ing any sup­port­ing evi­dence that such a con­nec­tion exists.”

In this respect, it is worth not­ing that one of the com­mer­cial cyber­se­cu­ri­ty com­pa­nies the gov­ern­ment has relied on is Crowd­strike, which was one of the com­pa­nies ini­tial­ly brought in by the DNC to inves­ti­gate the alleged hacks.

In late Decem­ber, Crowd­strike released a large­ly debunked report claim­ing that the same Russ­ian mal­ware that was used to hack the DNC has been used by Russ­ian intel­li­gence to tar­get Ukrain­ian artillery posi­tions. Crowdstrike’s co-founder and chief tech­nol­o­gy offi­cer, Dmitri Alper­ovitch, told PBS, “Ukraine’s artillery men were tar­get­ed by the same hackers…that tar­get­ed DNC, but this time they were tar­get­ing cell­phones [belong­ing to the Ukrain­ian artillery men] to try to under­stand their loca­tion so that the Russ­ian artillery forces can actu­al­ly tar­get them in the open bat­tle.”

Dmitri Alper­ovitch is also a senior fel­low at the Atlantic Coun­cil.

The con­nec­tion between Alper­ovitch and the Atlantic Coun­cil has gone large­ly unre­marked upon, but it is rel­e­vant giv­en that the Atlantic Council—which is is fund­ed in part by the US State Depart­ment, NATO, the gov­ern­ments of Latvia and Lithua­nia, the Ukrain­ian World Con­gress, and the Ukrain­ian oli­garch Vic­tor Pinchuk—has been among the loud­est voic­es call­ing for a new Cold War with Rus­sia. As I point­ed out in the pages of The Nation in Novem­ber, the Atlantic Coun­cil has spent the past sev­er­al years pro­duc­ing some of the most vir­u­lent spec­i­mens of the new Cold War pro­pa­gan­da.

It would seem then that a healthy amount of skep­ti­cism toward a gov­ern­ment report that relied, in part, on the find­ings of pri­vate-sec­tor cyber secu­ri­ty com­pa­nies like Crowd­strike might be in order. And yet skep­tics have found them­selves in the unen­vi­able posi­tion of being accused of being Krem­lin apol­o­gists, or worse.

3d. It is not sur­pris­ing that Kristofer Har­ri­son (the author of an apolo­gia for the Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion in Ukraine) is a for­mer Defense Depart­ment and State Depart­ment advi­sor to George W. Bush (and from the same polit­i­cal milieu of Kurt Volk­er. 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 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.

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

. . . .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 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 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 titled “Fears that Cana­di­an Mis­sion in Ukraine May Unin­ten­tion­al­ly Help Neon­azi Groups.”. . . .

San­ta’s Lit­tle Helper: Lee Ann Twee­den’s Play­boy Cov­er

3e. Next, we take stock of how Cony­ers, “The Krem­lin’s Man in Con­gress,” was removed fol­low­ing a gam­bit by “Alt-Right” blog­ger, Trump ally and misog­y­nist Mike Cer­novich to finance the solic­i­ta­tion of pro­fes­sion­al­ly dam­ag­ing infor­ma­tion about polit­i­cal oppo­nents. “. . . . In Novem­ber, the Trump-back­ing social media agi­ta­tor Mike Cer­novich offered to pay $10,000.00 for details of any con­gres­sion­al sex­u­al harass­ment set­tle­ments, and said on Twit­ter that he would cov­er the expens­es of “any VICTIM of a Con­gress­man who wants to come for­ward to tell her sto­ry.” Short­ly before post­ing that offer, a source pro­vid­ed Mr. Cer­novich with a copy of a sex­u­al harass­ment set­tle­ment that led in Decem­ber to the res­ig­na­tion of Rep­re­sen­ta­tive John Cony­ers Jr., Demo­c­rat of Michi­gan, until then the longest-serv­ing mem­ber of the House. . . .”

In a “Food For Thought” post, we not­ed the right-wing back­ground of Al Franken accuser and Fox News per­son­al­i­ty Leann Twee­den, a sit­u­a­tion bear­ing some sim­i­lar­i­ty to Cony­ers’ exit.

“Par­ti­sans, Wield­ing Mon­ey, Begin Seek­ing to Exploit Harass­ment Claims” by Ken­neth P. Vogel; The New York Times; 12/31/2017.

. . . . In Novem­ber, the Trump-back­ing social media agi­ta­tor Mike Cer­novich offered to pay $10,000.00 for details of any con­gres­sion­al sex­u­al harass­ment set­tle­ments, and said on Twit­ter that he would cov­er the expens­es of “any VICTIM of a Con­gress­man who wants to come for­ward to tell her sto­ry.” Short­ly before post­ing that offer, a source pro­vid­ed Mr. Cer­novich with a copy of a sex­u­al harass­ment set­tle­ment that led in Decem­ber to the res­ig­na­tion of Rep­re­sen­ta­tive John Cony­ers Jr., Demo­c­rat of Michi­gan, until then the longest-serv­ing mem­ber of the House. . . .

. . . . “You got to sweet­en the pot a lit­tle bit,” Mr. Cer­novich said. A lawyer by train­ing, he said he was shocked that the per­son who gave him the Cony­ers doc­u­ments declined his offer to pay for them.

But, he said, “if some­body had a set­tle­ment like Cony­ers, I would glad­ly, glad­ly pay for that.” . . . .

. . . . Mr. Cer­novich and the far-right activist Charles C. John­son, had to back away from claims that they pos­sessed a sex­u­al harass­ment set­tle­ment that would bring down a lead­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor when it became appar­ent that the document–which tar­get­ed the Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York–was a forgery, lift­ing pas­sages ver­ba­tim from the Cony­ers com­plaint unearthed by Mr. Cer­novich. Mr. Schumer referred the mat­ter to the Capi­tol Hill police for a crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion.

. . . . “I like to hype things in advance, and this looked pret­ty good,” Mr. Cer­novich said. “I def­i­nite­ly learned my les­son there.”

Mr. Cer­novich is an unlike­ly cham­pi­on for sex­u­al harass­ment vic­tims, giv­en his pre­vi­ous career as an anti-fem­i­nist blog­ger who cast doubt on date-rape alle­ga­tions and wrote posts with head­lines like “Misog­y­ny Gets You Laid.” . . . .

4a. In FTR #981, we exam­ined the Ukrain­ian fas­cist foun­da­tion of much of the “Rus­sia-Gate” psy-op,” fol­low­ing that with detailed exam­i­na­tion of the pos­si­bil­i­ty that Paul Man­afort may have actu­al­ly been work­ing as a U.S./Western intel­li­gence asset or agent, delib­er­ate­ly pre­cip­i­tat­ing the Maid­an sniper fire that sound­ed the death knell for the Yanukovich regime.

This post updates the boil­ing sew­er that is Ukraine, uti­liz­ing infor­ma­tion from Ger­man For­eign Pol­i­cy (which feeds along the low­er right-hand page of this web­site.) We take note of sev­er­al key points:

  1. Cor­rup­tion in Ukraine remains ram­pant and “rule by oli­garch” con­tin­ues unabat­ed under Poroshenko, an oli­garch him­self and the for­mer finance min­is­ter for Yanukovich.
  2. Sup­port­ers of Maid­an have been high­ly crit­i­cal of the con­tin­u­a­tion of this grotesque sta­tus quo.
  3. Among the per­pe­tra­tors of ongo­ing, insti­tu­tion­al­ized cor­rup­tion in Ukraine has been the son of Arsen Avakov, the inte­ri­or min­is­ter and a patron of the Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion. ” . . . . Cor­rup­tion con­tin­ues at high lev­els. For exam­ple, the case of Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov’s son, who sold back­packs to the army at six times their nor­mal price, alleged­ly caus­ing dam­age in the six-dig­it euros. . . .”
  4. Inves­ti­ga­tion of Avakov, jr’s activ­i­ties has been [pre­dictably] inter­dict­ed. ” . . . .When the Nation­al Anti-Cor­rup­tion Bureau searched the man’s house, the Nation­al Guard, under the respon­si­bil­i­ty of the inte­ri­or min­is­ter inter­vened and halt­ed the search — under the pre­text of hav­ing to vacate the build­ing because of a bomb threat. . . .”
  5. The two arti­cle series sets forth greater detail on the sniper shoot­ings at the Maid­an, which look more and more to be a provo­ca­tion. ” . . . . In Feb­ru­ary 2016, Maid­an activist Ivan Bubenchik con­fessed that in the course of the mas­sacre, he had shot Ukrain­ian police offi­cers. Bubenchik con­firmed this in a film that had attract­ed inter­na­tion­al attention.[10] . . . .”
  6. An Ital­ian TV doc­u­men­tary alleges that eth­nic Geor­gian snipers were involved in the Maid­an shoot­ings, fur­ther indi­cat­ing that the Maid­an sniper shoot­ings were a pos­si­ble provo­ca­tion. (The doc­u­men­tary does come from a Berlus­coni-con­trolled out­let, how­ev­er it dove­tails cred­i­bly with oth­er avail­able infor­ma­tion. UNA-UNSO, the lat­est iter­a­tion of the UPA was very active in the cau­ca­sus and Chechens have been work­ing with Pravy Sek­tor and ele­ments asso­ci­at­ed with the Azov Bat­tal­ion. As dis­cussed in FTR #850, for­mer Geor­gian pres­i­dent Mikhail Saakashvili became the gov­er­nor of Odessa province and is very close to Ihor Kolo­moisky, anoth­er patron of the Azov Bat­tal­ion.) In an Ital­ian TV doc­u­men­tary on the Feb­ru­ary 20, 2014 Maid­an mas­sacre, seri­ous accu­sa­tions were made against sev­er­al politi­cians in Ukraine. . . .  In the doc­u­men­tary, three Geor­gians, incrim­i­nat­ing them­selves for their own par­tic­i­pa­tion, report that some of the lead­ers of the protests, who are today mem­bers of Kiev’s par­lia­ment, had sup­plied weapons to the snipers, who, at the time, indis­crim­i­nate­ly killed police­men and demon­stra­tors. Offi­cial­ly, this mas­sacre is still being attrib­uted to Ukrain­ian repres­sive organs or to unspec­i­fied Rus­sians. The Geor­gians also report that the cur­rent speak­er of the par­lia­ment, Andriy Paru­biy, was often seen in the hotel, from where the snipers were fir­ing that day. As ‘Maid­an Commander,‘Parubiy had been in charge of con­trol­ling armed gangs on that square. The man, whose real role at the time remains unclear, was a guest at a con­fer­ence held by the Kon­rad Ade­nauer Foun­da­tion and a speak­er at NATO events. . . .”
  7. Paru­biy was one of the main orga­niz­ers of the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion, which brought Vik­tor Yuschenko to pow­er and installed OUN/B deriv­a­tive orga­ni­za­tions in pow­er in Ukraine, sort of a “pre-Maid­an” Maid­an.” . . . .  Fol­low­ing his retire­ment from the par­ty, this expe­ri­enced protest activist became one of the main orga­niz­ers of the 2004 ‘Orange Rev­o­lu­tion.’  . . .”
  8. Andriy Paru­biy was the first defense min­is­ter of the Ukraine inter­im gov­ern­ment and a mem­ber of the OUN/B‑redux Svo­bo­da Par­ty. His role in the events dove­tails with the pos­si­ble par­tic­i­pa­tion of fas­cist and Nazi snipers who were to par­tic­i­pate in the Azov Bat­tal­ion. “. . . . The Geor­gians’ accu­sa­tions also impli­cate, at least indi­rect­ly, the ‘Com­man­der of the Maid­an,’ Andriy Paru­biy. Paru­biy comes from the Ukrain­ian fas­cist scene. In the ear­ly 1990s he was one of the founders of the extreme right-wing Social Nation­al Par­ty of Ukraine. Since 1996, he was the leader of its mil­i­tarist street fight­ing sub­sidiary ‘Patri­ot of Ukraine.’ Fol­low­ing his retire­ment from the par­ty, this expe­ri­enced protest activist became one of the main orga­niz­ers of the 2004 ‘Orange Rev­o­lu­tion.’ In 2013, he assumed the same func­tion at the Maid­an, where he was respon­si­ble for none oth­er than secu­ri­ty and the ‘self-defense units,’ which were often made up of heav­i­ly armed thugs. In the Ital­ian TV doc­u­men­tary, it was report­ed that Paru­biy was going in and out of Hotel Ukraina, from where numer­ous dead­ly shots were being fired. Paru­biy, claims that the hotel from which these shots were being fired — which was firm­ly under the Maid­an demon­stra­tors’ con­trol — had been tak­en over ‘by snipers who arrived from Rus­sia and who were con­trolled by Rus­sia.’ . . .”

 “Sow­ing Chaos (I)”; german-foreign-policy.com/11/24/2017.

Four years after the begin­ning of the Maid­an protests, seri­ous accu­sa­tions are being lev­eled against lead­ing activists of the pro-west­ern oppo­nents of the reign­ing gov­ern­ment, at the time. Three Geor­gians, who incrim­i­nate them­selves for their own par­tic­i­pa­tion, have told the Ital­ian media that the snipers, who had unleashed the Feb­ru­ary 20, 2013 Maid­an mas­sacre, had alleged­ly been act­ing under orders — and with the prac­ti­cal sup­port — of the oppo­si­tion. Their state­ments con­firm the con­fes­sions made ear­li­er — some even in pub­licly — by oth­er snipers. There has been no reac­tion from Ukrain­ian author­i­ties. While Kiev is mark­ing the fourth anniver­sary of the begin­ning of the protests this week, more than three-fourths of the pop­u­la­tion sees their coun­try as plunged into ruin and chaos, accord­ing to a poll. The pow­er of the Ukrain­ian oli­garchs is still intact and cor­rup­tion is becom­ing ram­pant. Only anti-Russ­ian mea­sures are being suc­cess­ful­ly exe­cut­ed includ­ing those mas­sive­ly lim­it­ing free­dom of the press.

The Pow­er of the Oli­garchs

Four years after the begin­ning of the Maid­an protests on Novem­ber 21, 2013, the abus­es, which also had pro­voked the demon­stra­tions, are still preva­lent through­out the coun­try, which is now ori­ent­ed on the West. The pow­er of the oli­garchs is still intact. Already one year ago, experts not­ed that even though there have been some reshuf­fles amongst divers frac­tions of the oli­garchs, (german-foreign-policy.com report­ed [1]) it does not change the fact that they are still large­ly con­trol­ling Kiev’s pol­i­tics. This has been con­firmed by recent stud­ies. The last two decades have shown “that the peri­od­i­cal changes of polit­i­cal regime in Ukraine have had mere­ly a lim­it­ed effect on the oli­garchic sys­tem,” accord­ing to the authors of an analy­sis by the Swedish Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment Coop­er­a­tion Agency (SIDA). Even after the Feb­ru­ary 2014 putsch, oli­garchs are still in con­trol of “strate­gic branch­es of the econ­o­my” — for exam­ple, around 80% of the Ukrain­ian tele­vi­sion market.[2] “There has not been much change,” notes the Brus­sels think tank Bruegel, “the polit­i­cal influ­ence of some oli­garchs increased even further.”[3] In fact, since 2014, an oli­garch is offi­cial­ly lead­ing the coun­try — Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko.

Cor­rup­tion and Fake News

Cor­rup­tion con­tin­ues at high lev­els. For exam­ple, the case of Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov’s son, who sold back­packs to the army at six times their nor­mal price, alleged­ly caus­ing dam­age in the six-dig­it euros. When the Nation­al Anti-Cor­rup­tion Bureau searched the man’s house, the Nation­al Guard, under the respon­si­bil­i­ty of the inte­ri­or min­is­ter inter­vened and halt­ed the search — under the pre­text of hav­ing to vacate the build­ing because of a bomb threat.[4] This is but a minor case, when com­pared to oth­ers. Ser­hiy Leshchenko, a staunch sup­port­er of the putsch, who has worked as an inves­tiga­tive reporter for the pro-west­ern dai­ly Ukrain­s­ka Praw­da, before he was elect­ed to the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment and became a mem­ber of the its Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mit­tee, is reg­u­lar­ly voic­ing sharp crit­i­cism. In the par­lia­ment, Leshchenko reports, “cor­rup­tion is in the air,” which is par­tic­u­lar­ly evi­dent when the bud­get has to be passed. The respec­tive par­lia­men­tary ses­sions last “until five in the morn­ing, because the cor­rupt inter­ests of all the polit­i­cal­ly influ­en­tial cen­ters must be satisfied.”[5] Accord­ing to Leshchenko, the Pres­i­dent not only per­son­al­ly con­trols the state attor­ney’s office, but even the secret ser­vice that has “civ­il soci­ety activists, inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ists and politi­cians of the oppo­si­tion” under sur­veil­lance and inter­venes “in the set­tle­ment of busi­ness con­flicts.” To dis­cred­it the crit­ics, a “Ukrain­ian troll fac­to­ry” has been estab­lished — “a cen­ter to pro­duce fic­ti­tious inter­net users and fake news for infor­ma­tion attacks on regime oppo­nents.”

Decay and Chaos

Oli­garchic rule and cor­rup­tion in a per­sist­ing dis­as­trous social and eco­nom­ic sit­u­a­tion is now hav­ing an effect on the mood of the Ukrain­ian pop­u­la­tion. For exam­ple, only 17 per­cent of the Ukraini­ans have the feel­ing that a “con­sol­i­da­tion” — by what­ev­er def­i­n­i­tion — is tak­ing place in the coun­try; 75 per­cent describe the cur­rent devel­op­ment as “decay,” 85 per­cent call it sim­ply “chaos,” and 69 per­cent are con­vinced that it is eas­i­ly con­ceiv­able that demon­stra­tions against the pro-west­ern gov­ern­ment could take place through­out the country.[6] Pres­i­dent Poroshenko’s pop­u­lar­i­ty rat­ing has plunged dra­mat­i­cal­ly — accord­ing to vary­ing opin­ion polls — to between two to six percent.[7]

Free­dom of the Press under Attack

Not just the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­men­t’s cor­rup­tion but even some of its exor­bi­tant Rus­so­pho­bia has pro­voked crit­i­cism from some of the for­eign Maid­an sym­pa­thiz­ers. For exam­ple, Pres­i­dent Poroshenko’s deci­sion last May, not only to annul the Russ­ian tele­vi­sion’s Ukrain­ian license, but also to shut down the pop­u­lar Russ­ian social net­work “VKon­tak­te” (“In Con­tact”) and “Odnok­lass­nike” (“Class­mates”) as well as the “mail.ru” email provider has pro­voked angry protests. Human Rights Watch crit­i­cized these mea­sures as “cyn­i­cal, polit­i­cal­ly cal­cu­lat­ed attacks on mil­lions of Ukraini­ans’ right to infor­ma­tion.” Reporters With­out Bor­ders com­plained that this amounts to an “unac­cept­able assault on free­dom of expres­sion and the press.”[8] Kiev also recent­ly passed a new lan­guage law, which severe­ly restricts the use of the coun­try’s minor­i­ty lan­guages. This affects, above all the Russ­ian-speak­ing minor­i­ty, which, even after the seces­sion of Crimea and parts of East­ern Ukraine, is still quite large. How­ev­er, because these mea­sures also affect Ukraine’s Hun­gar­i­an-speak­ing minor­i­ty, the Hun­gar­i­an gov­ern­ment has announced that it would block Kiev’s rap­proche­ment efforts toward the EU and NATO until this law is repealed.

On Orders of Pro-West­ern Forces

Where­as the polit­i­cal lead­ers of the pro-west­ern Ukraine fes­tive­ly cel­e­brate the fourth anniver­sary of the begin­ning of the Maid­an demon­stra­tions, new reports have become avail­able indi­cat­ing that the Feb­ru­ary 20, 2014 blood­bath in Kiev — which gave the last incite­ment to esca­la­tion of protests, lead­ing to the over­throw of the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment — had been trig­gered by snipers, work­ing on orders of gov­ern­ment oppo­nents. One of the snipers had already admit­ted to this back in Feb­ru­ary 2015, there­by con­firm­ing what had become com­mon knowl­edge just a few days after the blood­bath in Kiev. In a secret­ly record­ed tele­phone call, the Eston­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Urmas Paet had report­ed to the EU*s head of For­eign Pol­i­cy, Cather­ine Ash­ton, in ear­ly March 2014, that there was wide­spread sus­pi­cion that “some­one from the new coali­tion” in the Ukrain­ian cap­i­tal may have ordered the sniper mur­ders. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[9]) In Feb­ru­ary 2016, Maid­an activist Ivan Bubenchik con­fessed that in the course of the mas­sacre, he had shot Ukrain­ian police offi­cers. Bubenchik con­firmed this in a film that had attract­ed inter­na­tion­al attention.[10]

“Shoot­ing Indis­crim­i­nate­ly’

Last week, the Ital­ian dai­ly “Il Gior­nale,” as well as the “Canale 5” tele­vi­sion chan­nel pub­lished a report reveal­ing more details. Three Geor­gians report­ed that on the day of the shoot­ing, they too had been employed by the oppo­nents of the gov­ern­ment at the time as snipers. They say that they had been explic­it­ly ordered to shoot at both police­men and demon­stra­tors — to “sow chaos.”[11] If this is true, the offi­cial nar­ra­tive, also prop­a­gat­ed by the gov­ern­ment in Berlin — that the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­men­t’s repres­sive forces had delib­er­ate­ly com­mit­ted the Feb­ru­ary 20 mas­sacre — caves in. Equal­ly grave is the fact that the three Geor­gians are not only heav­i­ly impli­cat­ing them­selves, but their tes­ti­monies sub­stan­ti­ate grave sus­pi­cions around some of the influ­en­tial politi­cians in the cur­rent pro-west­ern Ukraine. german-foreign-policy.com will report more soon.

[1] See also Zauber­lehrlinge (III).

[2] Woj­ciech Konończuk, Denis Cenușa, Kor­ne­ly Kakachia: Oli­garchs in Ukraine, Moldo­va and Geor­gia as key obsta­cles to reforms. Swedish Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment Coop­er­a­tion Agency 24.05.2017.

[3] Marek Dabrows­ki: Ukraine’s oli­garchs are bad for democ­ra­cy and eco­nom­ic reform. bruegel.org 03.10.2017.

[4] Rein­hard Lauter­bach: Solide zer­strit­ten. junge Welt 04.11.2017.

[5] Sergej Leschtschenko: Marken­ze­ichen Kor­rup­tion. zeit.de 05.05.2017. See also Das kor­rupteste Land in Europa.

[6] Umfra­gen zur Entwick­lung der sozialen Lage und zur Protest­stim­mung in der Bevölkerung. In: Ukraine-Analy­sen Nr. 191, 15.11.2017.

[7] Rein­hard Lauter­bach: Solide zer­strit­ten. junge Welt 04.11.2017.

[8] Zitiert nach: Stef­fen Halling: Kri­tik­los her­aus aus dem Netz des Fein­des? In: Ukraine-Analy­sen Nr. 186, 14.06.2017. S. 2f.

[9] See also The Kiev Esca­la­tion Strat­e­gy and From Račak to Maid­an.

[10] Katya Gorchin­skaya: He Killed for the Maid­an. foreignpolicy.com 26.02.2016.

[11] Gian Mica­lessin: La ver­sione dei cec­chi­ni sul­la strage di Kiev: “Ordi­ni dal­l’op­po­sizione”. ilgiornale.it 15.11.2017.

4b. More about the Maid­an sniper/Georgia link:

“Sow­ing Chaos (II);” german-foreign-policy.com; 11/27/2017.

In an Ital­ian TV doc­u­men­tary on the Feb­ru­ary 20, 2014 Maid­an mas­sacre, seri­ous accu­sa­tions were made against sev­er­al politi­cians in Ukraine, includ­ing influ­en­tial politi­cians, who are Ger­many’s coop­er­a­tion part­ners. In the doc­u­men­tary, three Geor­gians, incrim­i­nat­ing them­selves for their own par­tic­i­pa­tion, report that some of the lead­ers of the protests, who are today mem­bers of Kiev’s par­lia­ment, had sup­plied weapons to the snipers, who, at the time, indis­crim­i­nate­ly killed police­men and demon­stra­tors. Offi­cial­ly, this mas­sacre is still being attrib­uted to Ukrain­ian repres­sive organs or to unspec­i­fied Rus­sians. The Geor­gians also report that the cur­rent speak­er of the par­lia­ment, Andriy Paru­biy, was often seen in the hotel, from where the snipers were fir­ing that day. As “Maid­an Com­man­der,” Paru­biy had been in charge of con­trol­ling armed gangs on that square. The man, whose real role at the time remains unclear, was a guest at a con­fer­ence held by the Kon­rad Ade­nauer Foun­da­tion and a speak­er at NATO events.

Esca­la­tion Strat­e­gy

The Ital­ian Canale 5 TV chan­nel recent­ly aired a doc­u­men­tary on the Feb­ru­ary 20, 2014 Maid­an mas­sacre [1] that focus­es on the tes­ti­monies of three Geor­gians report­ing on the Maid­an protests and the esca­la­tion of vio­lence in Feb­ru­ary. The three Geor­gians, who had had mil­i­tary train­ing — and no per­son­al rela­tion­ship to the demon­stra­tors in Kiev — were recruit­ed in the Geor­gian cap­i­tal Tbil­isi in mid-Jan­u­ary 2014 and flown to Ukraine. One of the Geor­gians explains that he had been cho­sen because of his sniper skills. Accord­ing to the reports, their main job was to pro­voke the Ukrain­ian repres­sive forces into bru­tal­ly crack­ing down on the demon­stra­tors. The three Geor­gians had their role to play in the strat­e­gy of esca­la­tion, pre­vi­ous­ly agreed upon by the lead­ers of the protest — includ­ing Vitali Klitschko, the pro­tégé of Germany’s for­eign policy,[2] and today’s may­or of Kiev. “I think we have paved the road for a more rad­i­cal esca­la­tion of the sit­u­a­tion,” one can read in an email dat­ed Jan­u­ary 9, 2014, which lat­er cir­cu­lat­ed online and is attrib­uted to Klitschko. “Is it not high time to con­tin­ue with more res­olute actions?” the author of the email asks.[3]

Fur­nished Weapons

In the doc­u­men­tary, the three Geor­gians describe how they had been posi­tioned on the morn­ing of Feb­ru­ary 20, 2014 — one in the Con­ser­va­to­ry, two in the Ukraina Hotel, both build­ings adja­cent to the Maid­an. The first shots that day were fired from the Con­ser­va­to­ry killing police­men. Lat­er that day, snipers in the Ukraina Hotel delib­er­ate­ly killed demon­stra­tors. With their reports, the Geor­gians con­firm what has been known for years from two oth­er snipers, who had also incrim­i­nat­ed them­selves for their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the mas­sacre. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[4]) The snipers had act­ed on orders of gov­ern­ment oppo­nents with the aim of sow­ing chaos and thus ini­ti­at­ing Pres­i­dent Yanukovych’s over­throw. Accord­ing to the three Geor­gians, Ser­hiy Pashyn­sky, at that time mem­ber of the par­lia­men­tary oppo­si­tion, was play­ing a key role. He had fur­nished the snipers in the Con­ser­va­to­ry and in the Ukraina Hotel with the nec­es­sary weapons. This tes­ti­mo­ny is con­firmed by doc­u­men­tary video footage show­ing Pashyn­sky shield­ing the trans­port of a sniper rifle through the mid­dle of the demon­stra­tion dur­ing the esca­la­tion of vio­lence. Fol­low­ing the putsch in late Feb­ru­ary 2014, Pashyn­sky became the head of Kiev’s Pres­i­den­tial Admin­is­tra­tion and, as mem­ber of the gov­ern­ing People’s Front Par­ty, is today pre­sid­ing over the Rada Com­mit­tee on Nation­al Secu­ri­ty and Defense.

On the Maid­an Stage

Accord­ing to the three Geor­gians, Volodymyr Parasyuk was also involved in deliv­er­ing weapons. Parasyuk had been the leader of one of the fas­cist com­bat units on the Maid­an. Fol­low­ing the putsch, he had first par­tic­i­pat­ed in one of the ultra rightwing irreg­u­lar mili­tias (the Bat­tal­ion Dnipro) in the East Ukraine civ­il war, before he was elect­ed to par­lia­ment in Octo­ber 2014. On the evening of Feb­ru­ary 21, 2014 — the day fol­low­ing the mas­sacre — it was Parasyuk, who, from the stage at the Maid­an, called out for Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych to step down imme­di­ate­ly or he would be over­thrown at gun­point. Parasyuk made a name for him­self with this threat. Videos depict him stand­ing right beside Vitali Klitschko on the stage. Berlin had main­tained reg­u­lar con­tact to Klitschko at the time. Yanukovych — ful­ly aware of the mas­sacre — prob­a­bly took Parasyuk’s threat seri­ous­ly and imme­di­ate­ly fled Kiev.

Nation­al Hero of Ukraine

Their tes­ti­monies are prob­a­bly most incrim­i­nat­ing for the fourth Geor­gian, Mamu­ka Mamu­lashvili, who, they say, had recruit­ed the three Geor­gians in Tbil­isi, and — togeth­er with a US sol­dier under the assumed name of Bri­an Christo­pher Boyenger — brought them to Kiev. Mamu­lashvili had been a mil­i­tary advi­sor to the long-time Geor­gian Pres­i­dent Mikheil Saakashvili, from whose entourage the three snipers had been recruit­ed for the Kiev mis­sion. Fol­low­ing the putsch, Mamu­lashvili fought with the “Geor­gian Legion” in the East Ukrain­ian civ­il war, for which he was offi­cial­ly award­ed the hon­orary title of “Nation­al Hero of Ukraine.” Saakashvili, on the oth­er hand, who fled to the Unit­ed States after his pres­i­den­cy in 2013 to avoid stand­ing tri­al in Geor­gia, had always sup­port­ed the Maid­an protests and in 2015, began his new polit­i­cal career in the now pro-west­ern Ukraine — first as pres­i­den­tial advi­sor, then as Gov­er­nor of Odessa and — since his rift with Pres­i­dent Poroshenko — as an oppo­si­tion politi­cian seek­ing the over­throw the gov­ern­ment. In late 2003, Saakashvili had also come to pow­er in Geor­gia through a putsch, which, in turn, had served as a mod­el for the Maid­an.

The Com­man­der of the Maid­an

The Geor­gians’ accu­sa­tions also impli­cate, at least indi­rect­ly, the “Com­man­der of the Maid­an,” Andriy Paru­biy. Paru­biy comes from the Ukrain­ian fas­cist scene. In the ear­ly 1990s he was one of the founders of the extreme right-wing SocialNation­al Par­ty of Ukraine. Since 1996, he was the leader of its mil­i­tarist street fight­ing sub­sidiary “Patri­ot of Ukraine.” Fol­low­ing his retire­ment from the par­ty, this expe­ri­enced protest activist became one of the main orga­niz­ers of the 2004 “Orange Rev­o­lu­tion.” In 2013, he assumed the same func­tion at the Maid­an, where he was respon­si­ble for none oth­er than secu­ri­ty and the “self-defense units,” which were often made up of heav­i­ly armed thugs. In the Ital­ian TV doc­u­men­tary, it was report­ed that Paru­biy was going in and out of Hotel Ukraina, from where numer­ous dead­ly shots were being fired. Paru­biy, claims that the hotel from which these shots were being fired — which was firm­ly under the Maid­an demon­stra­tors’ con­trol — had been tak­en over “by snipers who arrived from Rus­sia and who were con­trolled by Russia.”[5] Paru­biy, who, accord­ing to for­mer US Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden, was con­fer­ring with the US Ambas­sador to Ukraine, Geof­frey Pyatt through­out the upheavals almost on an hourly basis, has nev­er real­ly had his role in the putsch explained. Fol­low­ing the putsch, he was first appoint­ed to the post of head of the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty and Defense Coun­cil. Since April 14, 2016 he has been serv­ing as Pres­i­dent of Ukraine’s Par­lia­ment.

Berlin’s Coop­er­a­tion Part­ner

Thanks to this posi­tion, Paru­biy can now serve as a coop­er­a­tion part­ner for Ger­man for­eign pol­i­cy. He has head­ed, for exam­ple, a del­e­ga­tion of Ukrain­ian par­lia­men­tar­i­ans, who, from May 22 — 25, 2016 were in Caden­ab­bia, Italy with CDU/CSU par­lia­men­tar­i­ans at the CDU-affil­i­at­ed Kon­rad Ade­nauer Foun­da­tion’s Edu­ca­tion­al Cen­ter. A fel­low at the Ger­man Insti­tute for Inter­na­tion­al and Secu­ri­ty Affairs (SWP) and Matthias Lüt­ten­berg, Head of the Rus­sia and Ukraine Depart­ment of the Ger­man Chan­cellery made pre­sen­ta­tions. At this meet­ing, it was agreed that Paru­biy would vis­it the Bun­destag in the sum­mer of 2016.[6] As the then Ger­man Pres­i­dent Joachim Gauck par­tic­i­pat­ed at the Ukrain­ian state cer­e­mo­ny in mem­o­ry of the mas­sacre of near­ly 34,000 Jews in Babi Yar, on Sep­tem­ber 29, 2016, he was com­mem­o­rat­ing — at the side of Paru­biy — the vic­tims of the Ger­man war crim­i­nals and their Ukrain­ian col­lab­o­ra­tors.In late May 2017, Paru­biy gave a talk at the spring ses­sion of NATO’s Par­lia­men­tary Assem­bly in Tbil­isi, where Ger­man par­lia­men­tar­i­ans were also par­tic­i­pat­ing. When NATO’s Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Jens Stoltenberg addressed the Ukrain­ian Par­lia­ment on July 10, 2017, he dis­cussed with the Maid­an’s for­mer arms sup­pli­er, Ser­hiy Pashyn­sky — and then met with the for­mer Maid­an Com­man­der Paru­biy for a pri­vate con­ver­sa­tion. What they talked about is not known.

For more infor­ma­tion in this sub­ject see: Sow­ing Chaos (I).

[1] Ucraina, le ver­ità nascoste. Canale 5, 15.11.2017. Gian Mica­lessin: La ver­sione dei cec­chi­ni sul­la strage di Kiev: “Ordi­ni dal­l’op­po­sizione”. ilgiornale.it 15.11.2017. Ste­fan Korinth: Maid­an­morde: Drei Beteiligte geste­hen. heise.de 19.11.2017.

[2] See also Our Man in Kiev.

[3] See also The Kiev Esca­la­tion Strat­e­gy.

[4] See also From Račak to Maid­an and Sow­ing Chaos (I).

[5] Gabriel Gate­house: The untold sto­ry of the Maid­an mas­sacre. bbc.co.uk 12.02.2015.

[6] Deutsch-ukrainis­che par­la­men­tarische Zusam­me­nar­beit. kas.de 22.05.2016.

5.  Omid­yar jour­nal­is­tic pro­tege Glenn Green­wald had Andrew “Weev” Aueren­heimer at his par­ty cel­e­brat­ing Green­wald and Lau­ra Poitras’s receipt of the pres­ti­gious Polk Award. Wee­v’s name has been bandied about in con­nec­tion with the [alleged] hack­ing of DNC e‑mails. We note that Weev is appar­ent­ly res­i­dent in Ukraine.

Andrew Aueren­heimer: Guest at Glenn Green­wald’s par­ty; appar­ent res­i­dent of Ukraine.

“GOP Researcher Who Sought Clin­ton Emails Had Alt-Right Help” by Ben Schreckinger; Politi­co; 07/11/2017.

The saga of Peter Smith’s quest to obtain 33,000 emails delet­ed by Hillary Clinton—an effort now at the cen­ter of intrigue swirling around the Don­ald Trump campaign’s ties to Russia—keeps get­ting weird­er.

In his Hail Mary bid to tip the elec­tion to Trump, the Repub­li­can pri­vate equi­ty exec­u­tive enlist­ed two con­tro­ver­sial alt-right activists to help him under­stand the work­ings of the inter­net and make con­tacts in Trump’s orbit, accord­ing to inter­views with those involved and emails obtained by Politi­co.

The activists, the jour­nal­ist-turned-entre­pre­neur Charles John­son and his for­mer busi­ness part­ner Pax Dick­in­son, agreed to help Smith’s quixot­ic mis­sion, which failed to track down copies of Clinton’s emails. John­son is a polar­iz­ing fig­ure who was banned from Twit­ter in 2015 after pro­mot­ing an effort to “take out” a Black Lives Mat­ter activist but main­tains ties to White House offi­cials. Smith also reached out to “Guc­cifer 2.0”—an alias the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty has linked to Russ­ian state hackers—and was advised to seek the help of a white nation­al­ist hack­er who lives in Ukraine. . . .

. . . . John­son said he also sug­gest­ed that Smith get in touch with Andrew Auern­heimer, a hack­er who goes by the alias “Weev” and has col­lab­o­rat­ed with John­son in the past. . . .

6. Ukraine’s offi­cial under­stand­ing of its own WWII his­to­ry and the Holo­caust had anoth­er flir­ta­tion with Orwellian his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ism. This time it was by Poroshenko rein­forc­ing the Orwellian revi­sion. ” . . . . As we report­ed back in Octo­ber, Ukrain­ian media out­let Radio Svo­bo­da — the Ukrain­ian arm of the US Gov­ern­ment-fund­ed arm of RFERL — post­ed a pic­ture from the US Holo­caust Muse­um. It is an image of Pol­ish Jews being deport­ed to a death camp. There was just one prob­lem. Radio Svo­bo­da claimed the pic­ture was from 1949 of Ukraini­ans being deport­ed to Siberia. In fact, so effec­tive was Radio Svoboda’s forgery that Pres­i­dent Poroshenko him­self tweet­ed it claim­ing it showed Ukraini­ans being deport­ed. . . . Today it emerged that a major Ukrain­ian media out­let has struck again. In a Decem­ber 20th arti­cle about the hor­rors of the NKVD (Sovi­et fore­run­ner of the KGB), media out­let “Ukrin­form” also bor­rowed a pic­ture from the US Holo­caust Muse­um, this time of Ukrain­ian Aux­il­iary Police­men shoot­ing a Jew­ish child and moth­er — and fraud­u­lent­ly claimed it was actu­al­ly of the NKVD shoot­ing peo­ple. The cap­tion reads in trans­la­tion: ‘Atroc­i­ties of the Chekhists: the exe­cu­tion of a moth­er and child by the NKVD’. . . .”

“More Fake News, Again from Ukraine and Once More — About the Holo­caust”; Defend­ing His­to­ry; 01/11/2018

While much is said in some Amer­i­can media out­lets about “fake news” in the US, the small­ness of the mat­ters being dis­cussed might come into focus when com­pared with Ukraine, which is of late pro­duc­ing rather much fake news about the Holo­caust and ele­men­tary points in World War II his­to­ry.

As we report­ed back in Octo­ber, Ukrain­ian media out­let Radio Svo­bo­da — the Ukrain­ian arm of the US Gov­ern­ment-fund­ed arm of RFERL — post­ed a pic­ture from the US Holo­caust Muse­um. It is an image of Pol­ish Jews being deport­ed to a death camp. There was just one prob­lem. Radio Svo­bo­da claimed the pic­ture was from 1949 of Ukraini­ans being deport­ed to Siberia. In fact, so effec­tive was Radio Svoboda’s forgery that Pres­i­dent Poroshenko him­self tweet­ed it claim­ing it showed Ukraini­ans being deport­ed. To Poroshenko’s cred­it, his office took it down almost imme­di­ate­ly after we point­ed this out.

Today it emerged that a major Ukrain­ian media out­let has struck again. In a Decem­ber 20th arti­cle about the hor­rors of the NKVD (Sovi­et fore­run­ner of the KGB), media out­let “Ukrin­form” also bor­rowed a pic­ture from the US Holo­caust Muse­um, this time of Ukrain­ian Aux­il­iary Police­men shoot­ing a Jew­ish child and moth­er — and fraud­u­lent­ly claimed it was actu­al­ly of the NKVD shoot­ing peo­ple. The cap­tion reads in trans­la­tion: “Atroc­i­ties of the Chekhists: the exe­cu­tion of a moth­er and child by the NKVD”.

Ukrin­form got away with it for three weeks until Ukrain­ian Jew­ish activist Eduard Dolin­sky called them out. And once again, poof, Ukrin­form took down the Holo­caust Muse­um pic­ture, nat­u­ral­ly with no apol­o­gy, com­ment or cor­rec­tion note.

Ukrin­form for­got about one thing though: Noth­ing ever com­plete­ly dis­ap­pears from the inter­net, and so now there is, for the record, the cached ver­sion of the orig­i­nal arti­cle show­cas­ing Ukrinform’s abom­inable forgery. Com­pare the orig­i­nal Ukrin­form arti­cle from Decem­ber (pic­ture is toward the bot­tom; as PDF) with the actu­al image from the US Holo­caust Muse­um here and below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discussion

10 comments for “FTR #993 Update on Ukraine (Preparations for WWIII?)”

  1. It looks like there’s a new wing of the ‘Azov Move­ment’: neo-Nazi street mili­tias that will patrols the streets of Kyiv:

    Radio Free Europe/Radio Liber­gy

    In Ukraine, Ultra­na­tion­al­ist Mili­tia Strikes Fear In Some Quar­ters

    Christo­pher Miller
    Jan­u­ary 30, 2018 17:11 GMT

    KYIV — The gath­er­ing was large and for­mi­da­ble, with hun­dreds of most­ly young men in fatigues keep­ing tight ranks on Kyiv’s cen­tral Inde­pen­dence Square before march­ing in for­ma­tion to a torch-lit fortress on a hill­side in the Ukrain­ian cap­i­tal.

    There, in the Jan­u­ary 28 spec­ta­cle, 600 of them swore an oath to clean the streets of ille­gal alco­hol, drug traf­fick­ers, and ille­gal gam­bling estab­lish­ments.

    Their mis­sion would seem right­eous enough. And it was fea­tured in a slick­ly pro­duced video with aer­i­al drone footage, sweep­ing edits, and men­ac­ing music that caught the atten­tion of many on social media.

    But Ukraine observers and rights groups are sound­ing the alarm, because this was not a typ­i­cal com­mence­ment, and the men are not police offi­cers. They are far-right ultra­na­tion­al­ists from the Azov move­ment, a con­tro­ver­sial group with a mil­i­tary wing that has open­ly accept­ed self-avowed neo-Nazis, and a civ­il and polit­i­cal fac­tion that has demon­strat­ed intol­er­ance toward minor­i­ty groups.

    “We will not hes­i­tate to use force to estab­lish order that will bring pros­per­i­ty to every Ukrain­ian fam­i­ly!” reads a mes­sage along­side the video, pub­lished on the Face­book page of the new­ly formed group, called the Nation­al Mili­tia. In the clip, they vow also to pro­tect the nation “when gov­ern­ment organs can’t or won’t help Ukrain­ian soci­ety.”

    That approach could con­cern West­ern back­ers in Kyiv’s cam­paign against armed Rus­sia-backed sep­a­ratists in the east­ern part of the coun­try, where a con­flict that has last­ed near­ly four years has killed at least 10,300 peo­ple.

    “Ukraine would be vio­lat­ing its inter­na­tion­al oblig­a­tions under human rights law if author­i­ties either tol­er­ate abu­sive mili­tia who under­mine [the] pop­u­la­tion’s lib­er­ty, secu­ri­ty, free­doms or pro­vide an abu­sive mili­tia with the col­or of law but [do] not impose on them exact­ing stan­dards on use of force,” Tanya Coop­er, Human Rights Watch (HRW)‘s Ukraine researcher in Kyiv, told RFE/RL in e‑mailed com­ments as media buzzed over the appear­ance of the Nation­al Mili­tia.

    ...

    Nation­al­is­tic Agen­da

    Found­ed in 2014 as a vol­un­teer bat­tal­ion to help an over­matched Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary fight off the threat in its east, the Azov move­ment uses fas­cist sym­bols and has been accused by inter­na­tion­al human­i­tar­i­an orga­ni­za­tions of human rights abus­es in the con­flict zone.

    The Nation­al Mili­tia is an inde­pen­dent group that is mere­ly the lat­est com­po­nent of Azov’s civil­ian and polit­i­cal wing, known as the Nation­al Cor­pus. It is led by law­mak­er and for­mer Azov Bat­tal­ion com­man­der Andriy Bilet­sky, once the head of Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Social-Nation­al Par­ty, who attend­ed the cer­e­mo­ny.

    Azov offi­cial­ly found­ed the Nation­al Cor­pus in Octo­ber 2016, incor­po­rat­ing two oth­er nation­al­ist groups, includ­ing Patri­ot Of Ukraine, which accord­ing to Halya Coy­nash of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group “espoused xeno­pho­bic and neo-Nazi ideas and was engaged in vio­lent attacks against migrants, for­eign stu­dents in Kharkiv, and those oppos­ing its views.”

    That inau­gur­al cer­e­mo­ny arguably had pomp more rem­i­nis­cent of 1930s Ger­many than of post­war democ­ra­cy. It includ­ed nation­al­ist chants, raised fists, and a torch­light march through cen­tral Kyiv.

    Nation­al Cor­pus’s polit­i­cal aims at the time of its cre­ation includ­ed the restora­tion of Ukraine’s nuclear-pow­er sta­tus, which was aban­doned in a major boost to non­pro­lif­er­a­tion soon after the breakup of the Sovi­et Union; the nation­al­iza­tion of com­pa­nies that were owned by the gov­ern­ment when Ukraine gained inde­pen­dence in 1991; and the legal­iza­tion of firearms for per­son­al pro­tec­tion.

    Its for­eign pol­i­cy sought to cut cul­tur­al, diplo­mat­ic, and trade ties with Rus­sia, and urged a pub­lic dis­cus­sion about restor­ing the death penal­ty in Ukraine for crimes such as trea­son and embez­zle­ment of gov­ern­ment funds.

    While the Nation­al Cor­pus appears to draw lim­it­ed sup­port from Ukraine’s elec­torate — polls show it under the 5 per­cent thresh­old to enter par­lia­ment — its pub­lic pres­ence has grown, wor­ry­ing inter­na­tion­al observers and mak­ing it a favorite tar­get for Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da. Russ­ian state news agen­cies and politi­cians sug­gest the gov­ern­ment in Kyiv’s per­ceived tol­er­ance for the far-right move­ment makes it fas­cist. The Ukrain­ian gov­ern­men­t’s fail­ure to aggres­sive­ly chal­lenge the group has done lit­tle to calm its crit­ics.

    Police, Or Not Police

    So it came as some­thing of a sur­prise on Jan­u­ary 30 when Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov, who has enjoyed a close rela­tion­ship with the Azov move­ment in the past, appeared to dis­tance him­self from the group, say­ing in a state­ment post­ed to the min­istry’s web­site that “in Ukraine, there is only one monop­oly on the use of force — the state: the Nation­al Guard, the Nation­al Police, and the Armed Forces.”

    He added, “All oth­er para­mil­i­tary enti­ties that try to posi­tion them­selves on the streets of cities are not legal.”

    Ivan Varchenko, an Avakov advis­er, told Hro­madske Radio that Ukrain­ian law pro­vides for reg­is­tra­tion of civic orga­ni­za­tions that assist law enforce­ment agen­cies.

    Roman Chernyshov of the Nation­al Corps also tried to calm con­cerns, telling Hro­madske Radio that its mem­bers do not bear arms.

    Armed or not, as news of the Nation­al Mili­tia spread across Ukrain­ian media, crit­ics raised seri­ous con­cerns about the type of order the unit may enforce on the streets of Kyiv.

    “It’s the police respon­si­bil­i­ty to enforce the law on the street and hold peo­ple account­able for crimes they’ve com­mit­ted,” Free­dom House­’s Schaaf said. “When there are groups that are roam­ing the streets in units like this, with slo­gans like this, it def­i­nite­ly rais­es con­cerns about what are their inten­tions, how they will they be imple­ment­ing their visions, what rules they are try­ing to enforce.”

    HRW’s Coop­er said one of her pri­ma­ry con­cerns was who would be tar­get­ed by the group. “Mem­bers of this polit­i­cal par­ty espouse intol­er­ance towards eth­nic minori­ties and LGBT peo­ple, so it seems com­plete­ly absurd that these peo­ple would be able [and will­ing] to pro­tect every­one,” she said of the Azovs.

    She added, “The bot­tom line is that if these units are going to be car­ry­ing out any kind of polic­ing duty, they have to be held to the exact same human rights stan­dards as reg­u­lar police: on use of force, pow­ers of deten­tion, nondis­crim­i­na­tion, etc., and they have to be trained and held account­able just like reg­u­lar police are.”

    Per­haps in an attempt to alle­vi­ate pub­lic con­cerns, Avakov insist­ed, “I, as a min­is­ter, will not allow for par­al­lel struc­tures that try to behave as alter­na­tive mil­i­tary for­ma­tions on the streets.”

    ———-

    “In Ukraine, Ultra­na­tion­al­ist Mili­tia Strikes Fear In Some Quar­ters” by Christo­pher Miller; Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty; 01/30/2018

    “There, in the Jan­u­ary 28 spec­ta­cle, 600 of them swore an oath to clean the streets of ille­gal alco­hol, drug traf­fick­ers, and ille­gal gam­bling estab­lish­ments.”

    600 most­ly young men in fatigues march­ing in for­ma­tion to a torch-lit fortress on a hill­side swear­ing an oath to ‘clean the streets’. Yeah, that’s gen­er­al­ly not a good sign. But it’s an even worse sign when it turns out these are mem­bers of the Azov move­ment. A move­ment that is now much more than just the Azov Bat­tal­ion and now includes “the Nation­al Mili­tia”:

    ...
    Their mis­sion would seem right­eous enough. And it was fea­tured in a slick­ly pro­duced video with aer­i­al drone footage, sweep­ing edits, and men­ac­ing music that caught the atten­tion of many on social media.

    But Ukraine observers and rights groups are sound­ing the alarm, because this was not a typ­i­cal com­mence­ment, and the men are not police offi­cers. They are far-right ultra­na­tion­al­ists from the Azov move­ment, a con­tro­ver­sial group with a mil­i­tary wing that has open­ly accept­ed self-avowed neo-Nazis, and a civ­il and polit­i­cal fac­tion that has demon­strat­ed intol­er­ance toward minor­i­ty groups.

    “We will not hes­i­tate to use force to estab­lish order that will bring pros­per­i­ty to every Ukrain­ian fam­i­ly!” reads a mes­sage along­side the video, pub­lished on the Face­book page of the new­ly formed group, called the Nation­al Mili­tia. In the clip, they vow also to pro­tect the nation “when gov­ern­ment organs can’t or won’t help Ukrain­ian soci­ety.”
    ...

    So the Nation­al Cor­pus, Azov’s civil­ian and polit­i­cal wing, now has a street mili­tia.

    And note who attend­ed this cer­e­mo­ny: for­mer Azov Bat­tal­ion com­man­der Andriy Bilet­sky, the for­mer head of Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Social-Nation­al Par­ty and a cur­rent mem­ber of the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment. Of course:

    ...
    The Nation­al Mili­tia is an inde­pen­dent group that is mere­ly the lat­est com­po­nent of Azov’s civil­ian and polit­i­cal wing, known as the Nation­al Cor­pus. It is led by law­mak­er and for­mer Azov Bat­tal­ion com­man­der Andriy Bilet­sky, once the head of Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Social-Nation­al Par­ty, who attend­ed the cer­e­mo­ny.

    Azov offi­cial­ly found­ed the Nation­al Cor­pus in Octo­ber 2016, incor­po­rat­ing two oth­er nation­al­ist groups, includ­ing Patri­ot Of Ukraine, which accord­ing to Halya Coy­nash of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group “espoused xeno­pho­bic and neo-Nazi ideas and was engaged in vio­lent attacks against migrants, for­eign stu­dents in Kharkiv, and those oppos­ing its views.”

    That inau­gur­al cer­e­mo­ny arguably had pomp more rem­i­nis­cent of 1930s Ger­many than of post­war democ­ra­cy. It includ­ed nation­al­ist chants, raised fists, and a torch­light march through cen­tral Kyiv.

    Nation­al Cor­pus’s polit­i­cal aims at the time of its cre­ation includ­ed the restora­tion of Ukraine’s nuclear-pow­er sta­tus, which was aban­doned in a major boost to non­pro­lif­er­a­tion soon after the breakup of the Sovi­et Union; the nation­al­iza­tion of com­pa­nies that were owned by the gov­ern­ment when Ukraine gained inde­pen­dence in 1991; and the legal­iza­tion of firearms for per­son­al pro­tec­tion.
    ...

    So what do the police have to say about a neo-Nazi street mili­tia? Well, while Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov — who, along with the neo-Nazi Par­lia­ment speak­er Andriy Paru­biy, is one of the top gov­ern­ment offi­cials to open­ly sup­port Azov Bat­tal­ion — dis­tanced him­self from the whole thing, one of Avakov’s advi­sors did acknowl­edge that Ukrain­ian law pro­vides for reg­is­tra­tion of civic orga­ni­za­tions that assist law enforce­ment agen­cies. In oth­er words, there real­ly might be a Nation­al Mili­tia legal loop­hole:

    ...
    Police, Or Not Police

    So it came as some­thing of a sur­prise on Jan­u­ary 30 when Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov, who has enjoyed a close rela­tion­ship with the Azov move­ment in the past, appeared to dis­tance him­self from the group, say­ing in a state­ment post­ed to the min­istry’s web­site that “in Ukraine, there is only one monop­oly on the use of force — the state: the Nation­al Guard, the Nation­al Police, and the Armed Forces.”

    He added, “All oth­er para­mil­i­tary enti­ties that try to posi­tion them­selves on the streets of cities are not legal.”

    Ivan Varchenko, an Avakov advis­er, told Hro­madske Radio that Ukrain­ian law pro­vides for reg­is­tra­tion of civic orga­ni­za­tions that assist law enforce­ment agen­cies.
    ...

    So should we expect a for­mal embrace by Ukraine’s police of this new neo-Nazi street mili­tia move­ment at some point? Well, as this report from the Kharkiv Human Rights Group points out, yes, we should prob­a­bly expect Ukraine’s police to tol­er­ate and even accept the ‘help’ of the Azov’s ‘Nation­al Guard’ because of the long track record of this already hap­pen­ing. Plus, accord­ing to “Nation­al Corps” (Azov’s polit­i­cal wing), these street patrol has been going on for year already. They just had­n’t done an offi­cial pub­lic swear­ing in cer­e­mo­ny until now:

    Kharkiv Human Rights Group

    Far-right vig­i­lantes impos­ing ‘Ukrain­ian order’ are strange part­ners for Ukraine’s Nation­al Police

    30.01.2018 | Halya Coy­nash

    600 young mem­bers of the far-right Nation­al Corps par­ty swore ‘an oath of loy­al­ty to Ukraini­ans’ on Jan­u­ary 28 in the cen­tre of Kyiv. The so-called ‘Nation­al Mili­tia Units’ [??????????? ???????] plan to demon­strate their loy­al­ty by “estab­lish­ing Ukrain­ian order” on the streets of Kyiv, seem­ing­ly in coop­er­a­tion with Ukraine’s Nation­al Police. The expla­na­tion pro­vid­ed by an Inte­ri­or Min­istry spokesper­son can­not allay con­cerns about police col­lab­o­ra­tion with an orga­ni­za­tion which has on many occa­sions demon­strat­ed intol­er­ance towards eth­nic minori­ties, as well as to peo­ple whose sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion, polit­i­cal or oth­er beliefs they view with antag­o­nism.

    The ‘Nation­al Mili­tia’ will be part of a ‘civic for­ma­tion’ envis­aged by Ukraine’s Law ‘On the par­tic­i­pa­tion of cit­i­zens in pro­tec­tion of pub­lic order and the state bor­der’ Their declared aim is to patrol the streets and counter drug and alco­hol dens.

    Roman Chernyshov, from Nation­al Corps, told Hro­madske Radio, that these for­ma­tions have been active for a year already, but that this is the first such swear­ing-in of mem­bers. He called the for­ma­tion a “part of the Azov move­ment” which will help “where the author­i­ties either can’t or do not want to help the Ukrain­ian com­mu­ni­ty”. He added that they do not bear arms and are not a police or mil­i­tary for­ma­tion, “how­ev­er they coop­er­ate with the police”.

    The event on Jan­u­ary 28, as well as the video pro­duced on social media, can­not be said to inspire con­fi­dence, espe­cial­ly not the state­ment under the video, read­ing: “There are many of us. We are not afraid to use Force to estab­lish Ukrain­ian Order on the streets!”.

    Chal­lenged to explain whether these for­ma­tions are legal, Ivan Varchenko from the Inte­ri­or Min­istry explained that leg­is­la­tion does allow for civic orga­ni­za­tions to assist law enforce­ment bod­ies in pro­tect­ing pub­lic order, but stressed that the mem­bers of such orga­ni­za­tions must work “togeth­er with offi­cers of the Nation­al Police or Nation­al Guard”. While assert­ing that the appear­ance of such orga­ni­za­tions was “absolute­ly law­ful”, he did stip­u­late that they must agree with the law enforce­ment bod­ies how and where they will work.

    ...

    Nation­al Corps [???????????? ??????]

    This is a polit­i­cal par­ty found­ed on 14 Octo­ber 2016, through the merg­ing of a recent­ly formed civic move­ment called ‘Hon­est Mat­ters’ [«????? ??????»] and the much old­er ‘Patri­ot of Ukraine’. The lat­ter Kharkiv-based para­mil­i­tary orga­ni­za­tion was found­ed in 2006 by Andriy Bilet­sky and oth­er mem­bers of the neo-Nazi Social-Nation­al Par­ty who were dis­grun­tled with the more mod­er­ate VO Svo­bo­da Par­ty. ‘Patri­ot of Ukraine’ espoused xeno­pho­bic and neo-Nazi ideas, and was engaged in vio­lent attacks against migrants, for­eign stu­dents in Kharkiv and those oppos­ing its views. Bilet­sky and some oth­er mem­bers were sus­pect­ed of vio­lent seizures of news­pa­per kiosks and sim­i­lar crim­i­nal activ­i­ties. Bilet­sky him­self was in deten­tion and one of the more con­tro­ver­sial fig­ures to have been released after Maid­an.

    There were, in short, grounds for con­cern over Biletsky’s role as com­man­der of the con­tro­ver­sial Azov Vol­un­teer Bat­tal­ion in the first months of the mil­i­tary con­flict in Don­bas, and his sub­se­quent elec­tion to par­lia­ment as a non-affil­i­at­ed MP in Octo­ber 2016.

    Doubts were even more pro­nounced over the appoint­ment of the for­mer deputy com­man­der of the Azov Bat­tal­ion Vadim Troy­an as head of the Kyiv Region­al Police Force (and lat­er posi­tion as First Deputy Head of the Nation­al Police from March 2016) . Although attempts were made to min­i­mize Troyan’s involve­ment, he had also been a mem­ber of the racist and xeno­pho­bic ‘Patri­ot of Ukraine’.

    The far-right, even neo-Nazi views of at very least some of the mem­bers of the Azov Bat­tal­ion aroused con­tro­ver­sy from the out­set, and the con­cerns were large­ly the same with regard to the relat­ed Azov Civic Corps. It is they who joined the Nation­al Corps in 2016, and are now plan­ning to patrol the streets.

    Mem­bers of the Azov Civic Corps are already known to have worked in coop­er­a­tion with the police in the Kyiv oblast. In Feb­ru­ary 2016, the Diver­si­ty Ini­tia­tive and many civic activists demand­ed reac­tion from the Head of the Nation­al Police (then Kha­tia Dekanoidze) to appar­ent col­lab­o­ra­tion on eth­nic pro­fil­ing. The video post­ed on Jan 25 (here also) claimed to be “a raid to uncov­er ille­gal indi­vid­u­als” in Bila Tskerk­va [Kyiv oblast], It called this a joint project between the Kyiv Oblast Nation­al Police and the Azov Civic Corps to iden­ti­fy for­eign nation­als infring­ing leg­is­la­tion on being in Ukraine. There were fair­ly good grounds for assum­ing that the men were tar­get­ed for a ‘check’ sole­ly because of the colour of their skin.

    This was only one of sev­er­al devel­op­ments in ear­ly 2016 which make doubts about the involve­ment of the Azov Civic Corps in any such ‘patrol groups’ seem war­rant­ed.

    While Nation­al Corps say that the men will not car­ry arms, the impres­sion giv­en by the cer­e­mo­ny on Jan­u­ary 28 was very firm­ly of a para­mil­i­tary orga­ni­za­tion, and the latter’s own video boasts of will­ing­ness to “use Force”. The men were all wear­ing the same gear, and the orga­ni­za­tion clear­ly has plen­ty of mon­ey avail­able, which it claims is com­ing from ‘busi­ness­peo­ple’.

    The con­cerns about these ‘nation­al mili­tia’ are only exac­er­bat­ed by the behav­iour of the Kyiv police dur­ing an attempt to hold a gath­er­ing in remem­brance of slain lawyer Stas Markelov and jour­nal­ist Anas­ta­sia Baburo­va on Jan­u­ary 19. Mem­bers of the neo-Nazi C14 group turned up, report­ed­ly flanked by some Russ­ian and Belaru­sian neo-Nazis, and began so open­ly threat­en­ing those who had come for the remem­brance gath­er­ing that the lat­ter aban­doned their attempt.

    The police had not just failed to pro­tect one group of cit­i­zens exer­cis­ing their right to peace­ful assem­bly. Before the gath­er­ing was even sched­uled to begin, the police detained eight activists. They lat­er tried to claim that there had been no deten­tion, and that the activists had been ‘invit­ed’ to the police sta­tion.

    What fol­lowed was even more sin­is­ter. The detained activists report­ed lat­er that they had been ‘hunt­ed down’ by the far-right thugs after leav­ing the police sta­tion. A mem­ber of the Human Rights Infor­ma­tion Cen­tre who spoke with them believes that the thugs could have only dis­cov­ered which sta­tion the activists were being held in from the police them­selves.

    The admin­is­tra­tion of at least one dis­trict in Kyiv is known to have signed a mem­o­ran­dum of coop­er­a­tion with the police and a civic orga­ni­za­tion («???????????? ?????») which is head­ed by a mem­ber of C14.

    This is not a ques­tion of mere­ly dis­lik­ing cer­tain groups’ views, though it would be inter­est­ing to see whether the police would so will­ing­ly coop­er­ate with, say, anar­chist or left-wing groups wish­ing to exer­cise their right to cre­ate a civic for­ma­tion to pro­tect pub­lic order.

    C14 has been involved in var­i­ous acts of vio­lence, and there are indeed reports that they attacked mem­bers of anoth­er local group on 13 Decem­ber 2017, with two peo­ple from that group end­ing up hos­pi­tal­ized with gun wounds. It seems like­ly that the con­flict was about estab­lish­ing their pow­er over a par­tic­u­lar area.

    If the expe­ri­ence of ‘Patri­ot of Ukraine’ is any­thing to go by, mem­bers of orga­ni­za­tions that gain the right to ‘patrol’ an area could become involved in crim­i­nal activ­i­ties, for which Ukraine’s law enforce­ment bod­ies must not become a cov­er.

    ———-

    “Far-right vig­i­lantes impos­ing ‘Ukrain­ian order’ are strange part­ners for Ukraine’s Nation­al Police” by Halya Coy­nash; Kharkiv Human Rights Group; 01/30/2018

    “Roman Chernyshov, from Nation­al Corps, told Hro­madske Radio, that these for­ma­tions have been active for a year already, but that this is the first such swear­ing-in of mem­bers. He called the for­ma­tion a “part of the Azov move­ment” which will help “where the author­i­ties either can’t or do not want to help the Ukrain­ian com­mu­ni­ty”. He added that they do not bear arms and are not a police or mil­i­tary for­ma­tion, “how­ev­er they coop­er­ate with the police”.”

    So accord­ing to the Azov move­ment, these street for­ma­tions have been active for a year already. Pre­sum­ably doing things “the author­i­ties either can’t or do not” want to do.

    And accord­ing to the Inte­ri­or Min­istry, these street mili­tias are indeed legal, but only if they are work­ing with the police. So if reports of these street mili­tias con­tin­ue, it’s only rea­son­able to assume they’re work­ing with the police because that’s the gov­ern­men­t’s pol­i­cy:

    ...
    Chal­lenged to explain whether these for­ma­tions are legal, Ivan Varchenko from the Inte­ri­or Min­istry explained that leg­is­la­tion does allow for civic orga­ni­za­tions to assist law enforce­ment bod­ies in pro­tect­ing pub­lic order, but stressed that the mem­bers of such orga­ni­za­tions must work “togeth­er with offi­cers of the Nation­al Police or Nation­al Guard”. While assert­ing that the appear­ance of such orga­ni­za­tions was “absolute­ly law­ful”, he did stip­u­late that they must agree with the law enforce­ment bod­ies how and where they will work.
    ...

    So what should we expect as this policy/street mili­tia coop­er­a­tion unfolds. Well, as the fol­low­ing inci­dents sug­gests, we should prob­a­bly expect things like eth­nic pro­fil­ing and vio­lent attacks on the kind of peo­ple neo-Nazis like to attack:

    ...
    Mem­bers of the Azov Civic Corps are already known to have worked in coop­er­a­tion with the police in the Kyiv oblast. In Feb­ru­ary 2016, the Diver­si­ty Ini­tia­tive and many civic activists demand­ed reac­tion from the Head of the Nation­al Police (then Kha­tia Dekanoidze) to appar­ent col­lab­o­ra­tion on eth­nic pro­fil­ing. The video post­ed on Jan 25 (here also) claimed to be “a raid to uncov­er ille­gal indi­vid­u­als” in Bila Tskerk­va [Kyiv oblast], It called this a joint project between the Kyiv Oblast Nation­al Police and the Azov Civic Corps to iden­ti­fy for­eign nation­als infring­ing leg­is­la­tion on being in Ukraine. There were fair­ly good grounds for assum­ing that the men were tar­get­ed for a ‘check’ sole­ly because of the colour of their skin.

    This was only one of sev­er­al devel­op­ments in ear­ly 2016 which make doubts about the involve­ment of the Azov Civic Corps in any such ‘patrol groups’ seem war­rant­ed.

    ...

    The con­cerns about these ‘nation­al mili­tia’ are only exac­er­bat­ed by the behav­iour of the Kyiv police dur­ing an attempt to hold a gath­er­ing in remem­brance of slain lawyer Stas Markelov and jour­nal­ist Anas­ta­sia Baburo­va on Jan­u­ary 19. Mem­bers of the neo-Nazi C14 group turned up, report­ed­ly flanked by some Russ­ian and Belaru­sian neo-Nazis, and began so open­ly threat­en­ing those who had come for the remem­brance gath­er­ing that the lat­ter aban­doned their attempt.

    The police had not just failed to pro­tect one group of cit­i­zens exer­cis­ing their right to peace­ful assem­bly. Before the gath­er­ing was even sched­uled to begin, the police detained eight activists. They lat­er tried to claim that there had been no deten­tion, and that the activists had been ‘invit­ed’ to the police sta­tion.

    What fol­lowed was even more sin­is­ter. The detained activists report­ed lat­er that they had been ‘hunt­ed down’ by the far-right thugs after leav­ing the police sta­tion. A mem­ber of the Human Rights Infor­ma­tion Cen­tre who spoke with them believes that the thugs could have only dis­cov­ered which sta­tion the activists were being held in from the police them­selves.

    The admin­is­tra­tion of at least one dis­trict in Kyiv is known to have signed a mem­o­ran­dum of coop­er­a­tion with the police and a civic orga­ni­za­tion («???????????? ?????») which is head­ed by a mem­ber of C14.
    ...

    “The admin­is­tra­tion of at least one dis­trict in Kyiv is known to have signed a mem­o­ran­dum of coop­er­a­tion with the police and a civic orga­ni­za­tion («???????????? ?????») which is head­ed by a mem­ber of C14.”

    Don’t for­get that “C14” stands for David Lane’s ’14 words’ neo-Nazi slo­gan.

    And then there was the appoint­ment of Azov Bat­tal­ion deputy com­man­der Vadim Troy­an as head of the Kyiv Region­al Police Force in 2014 and his appoint­ment as First Deputy Head of the Nation­al Police in 2016:

    ...
    Doubts were even more pro­nounced over the appoint­ment of the for­mer deputy com­man­der of the Azov Bat­tal­ion Vadim Troy­an as head of the Kyiv Region­al Police Force (and lat­er posi­tion as First Deputy Head of the Nation­al Police from March 2016) . Although attempts were made to min­i­mize Troyan’s involve­ment, he had also been a mem­ber of the racist and xeno­pho­bic ‘Patri­ot of Ukraine’.
    ...

    Troy­an was also made the Deputy Min­is­ter of Inter­nal Affairs of Ukraine in 2017.

    So as we can see, there is plen­ty of rea­son to be con­cerned about Ukraine’s police effec­tive­ly dep­u­tiz­ing these neo-Nazi street mili­tias because there’s plen­ty of evi­dence that this has already been going on for years.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 31, 2018, 3:10 pm
  2. Mr Emory, you may want to glean a bit of info from this trans­la­tion from a Ukrain­ian news arti­cle about the oli­garch Akhme­tov. By the way, Ollie Richard­son of the ‘Stalk­er­zone” is a British ex-pat & is not Russ­ian. He has been devot­ed to issues sur­round­ing the US-occu­pa­tion of Ukraine & con­se­quent affairs. Ollie is rabid­ly antifas­cist. http://www.stalkerzone.org/ukrainian-media-akhmetov-finances-ukrainian-nationalists/

    Posted by Sue Shpak | February 3, 2018, 8:32 pm
  3. Thanks for pro­vid­ing your insight­ful & well researched inves­ti­ga­tion over these recent events in Ukraine. This past week, for­mer Pres­i­dent Kuch­ma even announced that “Ukraine is falling apart”. Its doubt­ful that ‘Hump­ty Dump­sky’ can ever be put back togeth­er again.

    Posted by Sue Shpak | February 3, 2018, 8:36 pm
  4. Posted by Sue Shpak | February 4, 2018, 6:34 pm
  5. More details con­cern­ing Teth­er’s ven­ture. Clear­ly this is the step toward launch­ing Ukraine into a US/NATO mil­i­tary plat­form. Ukraine cre­ates UkrARPA — agency respon­si­ble for the devel­op­ment of emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies for use by the mil­i­tary https://www.1492news.com/news/37770_1481912582

    Posted by Sue Shpak | February 4, 2018, 7:09 pm
  6. @Sue Shpak–

    Thanks so much!

    The “Teth­er­ing” of Ukroboron­prom should be weighed against Ukraine’s suc­cess­ful test­ing of a pre­ci­sion-guid­ed cruise mis­sile, as report­ed by the “Kyiv Post”.

    There has been spec­u­la­tion as to how they came up with that tech­nol­o­gy.

    I have a hunch how it might have hap­pened.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | February 5, 2018, 3:16 pm
  7. Schol­ar­ly review of Prof Ivan Katchanovs­ki Univ of Ottawa: Tes­ti­monies of wit­nessnes sur­round­ing snipers on Maid­an. https://www.academia.edu/35853718/Video_Appendix_B_Testimonies_of_60_Witnesses_Concerning_Snipers_in_Maidan-Controlled_Buildings_and_Areas

    Posted by Susan Shpak | February 13, 2018, 6:44 pm
  8. Update on the alleged ‘Geor­gian snipers’, via Prof Katchanovs­ki, Univ of Ottawa.
    Rev­e­la­tions from Nadiya Savchenko’s tes­ti­mo­ni­al — note: this was the con­vict­ed mur­der­er & fas­cist whose sen­tence was com­mut­ed due to a Russia/Ukraine pris­on­er swap. Inci­dent­ly, Savchenko recent­ly announced her bid for run­ning for Ukraine’s 2019 Pres­i­den­cy. Boy, they can real­ly pick mega-losers!
    https://twitter.com/I_Katchanovski/status/974306688881733632

    Posted by Susan Shpak | March 15, 2018, 4:47 pm
  9. Here’s anoth­er exam­ple of how the neo-Nazi mili­tias in Ukraine are main­stream them­selves: First, they use the par­al­lel mes­sages of “we aren’t Nazis” com­bined with “but if we were Nazis, that would­n’t real­ly be so bad.” Sec­ond, they are assum­ing police-like pow­ers. So we have sit­u­a­tion where the neo-Nazi mili­tias are assum­ing police-like pow­er while assur­ing every­one not to wor­ry because they aren’t actu­al­ly Nazis (but if they were neo-Nazis there would still be noth­ing to wor­ry about):

    The Guardian

    Ukraine’s Nation­al Mili­tia: ‘We’re not neo-Nazis, we just want to make our coun­try bet­ter’

    Ultra­na­tion­al­ist group with neo-Nazi links says it has been dri­ven to action by ‘impo­tent’ police

    Marc Ben­netts in Kiev

    Tue 13 Mar 2018 01.00 EDT

    Just past mid­night in a snow-cov­ered for­est near Kiev, four men dressed in black with trun­cheons strapped to their waists lis­ten care­ful­ly for the tell­tale buzzing of chain­saws that belong to ille­gal log­gers. “The police in our coun­try are inef­fec­tive, cor­rupt or drunk,” says Zhenya, one of the men. “That’s why we have to deal with this prob­lem our­selves.”

    These wood­land vig­i­lantes, all in their ear­ly to mid-twen­ties, are not your typ­i­cal envi­ron­men­tal activists. They are mem­bers of the Nation­al Mili­tia, an ultra­na­tion­al­ist organ­i­sa­tion close­ly linked to Ukraine’s Azov move­ment, a far-right group with a mil­i­tary wing that con­tains open­ly neo-Nazi mem­bers, and its polit­i­cal spin-off, the Nation­al Cor­pus par­ty.

    “There’s noth­ing inher­ent­ly wrong with nation­al social­ism as a polit­i­cal idea,” says Alex­ei, anoth­er mili­tia mem­ber, as the men move stealth­ily through moon­lit trees frost­ed with ice. “I don’t know why every­one always asso­ciates it imme­di­ate­ly with con­cen­tra­tion camps.”

    Besides ille­gal log­ging, the Nation­al Mili­tia says it aims to crack down on street crime, drug deal­ing and pub­lic alco­holism. “There are many of us. We are not scared to use force to estab­lish a Ukrain­ian order,” it said in a recent state­ment.

    On 29 Jan­u­ary, hood­ed mili­tia mem­bers turned up at a munic­i­pal coun­cil meet­ing in Cherkasy, in cen­tral Ukraine, and report­ed­ly refused to let offi­cials leave the build­ing until they had approved the city’s long-delayed bud­get.

    The Nation­al Mili­tia says its mem­bers are all vol­un­teers, and that expens­es are cov­ered by busi­ness­es and indi­vid­u­als sym­pa­thet­ic to its activ­i­ties.

    Nation­al Mili­tia mem­bers include vet­er­ans of Ukraine’s four-year war against Russ­ian-led sep­a­ratists, as well as for­mer foot­ball hooli­gans who took part in Ukraine’s 2013–14 rev­o­lu­tion. Some are “straight edge” fit­ness fanat­ics who nei­ther drink nor smoke. Many have no mem­o­ry of life in the Sovi­et Union, hav­ing grown up in inde­pen­dent Ukraine, where trust in law enforce­ment agen­cies remains low despite recent police reforms.

    “The police reforms were like pour­ing choco­late on shit,” said Alex­ei, after he and his fel­low mili­tia mem­bers had aban­doned their unsuc­cess­ful search for ille­gal log­gers. “It’s still shit, you know?”

    Although the Nation­al Mili­tia has been oper­at­ing for a year, even con­duct­ing street patrols in towns and cities under Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment con­trol, the group entered the spot­light late last month when about 600 of its mem­bers marched through cen­tral Kiev. Some wore cam­ou­flage gear, while oth­ers dressed in black with bal­a­clavas cov­er­ing their faces. This provoca­tive show of strength cul­mi­nat­ed at a torch-illu­mi­nat­ed fortress, where mili­tia mem­bers swore oaths of alle­giance to Andriy Bilet­sky, an ultra­na­tion­al­ist MP who heads the Nation­al Cor­pus par­ty.

    “When the author­i­ties are impo­tent and can­not solve issues of vital impor­tance for soci­ety, then sim­ple, ordi­nary peo­ple are forced to take respon­si­bil­i­ty upon them­selves,” Bilet­sky told Ukrain­ian media.

    Bilet­sky has toned down his rhetoric in recent years, but the for­mer Azov bat­tal­ion com­man­der declared in 2010 that the Ukrain­ian nation’s mis­sion was to “lead the white races of the world in a final cru­sade … against Semi­te-led Unter­men­schen [sub­hu­mans]”.

    While Ukrain­ian law allows unarmed civil­ian organ­i­sa­tions to assist law enforce­ment agen­cies, for many observers the cer­e­mo­ny in Kiev was rem­i­nis­cent of 1930s Ger­many and kin­dled fears that Ukraine’s shaky democ­ra­cy was in dan­ger of being hijacked by an increas­ing­ly con­fi­dent far right. Nation­al Cor­pus and oth­er far-right par­ties are polling at less than 5%, but ana­lysts say they could exploit Ukraine’s eco­nom­ic and social insta­bil­i­ty to boost their elec­toral chances.

    ...

    Nation­al Mili­tia offi­cials says the con­cerns are unwar­rant­ed. “If the world is wor­ried about the threat of Ukrain­ian neo-Nazism, I can assure you we are not neo-Nazis; we are sim­ply peo­ple who want to change our coun­try for the bet­ter,” said Ihor Vdovin, a spokesman for the Nation­al Mili­tia. “We don’t want to estab­lish some kind of white order.”

    Vdovin said, how­ev­er, that he could not answer for mem­bers of the mili­tia who espouse white suprema­cist or neo-Nazis views.

    “Peo­ple got fright­ened when they saw how organ­ised and dis­ci­plined the march in Kiev was,” said Stepan Holovko, a high-rank­ing mem­ber of Nation­al Cor­pus. “But why should we apol­o­gise for the fact that our peo­ple can car­ry out the tasks they’ve been set?”

    Azov and Nation­al Cor­pus have been linked to Arsen Avakov, the Ukrain­ian inte­ri­or min­is­ter who is seen as a pos­si­ble suc­ces­sor to Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s unpop­u­lar pres­i­dent. Avakov has quelled spec­u­la­tion that the Nation­al Mili­tia is his own pri­vate army, say­ing he would not allow “par­al­lel struc­tures” to chal­lenge the author­i­ty of the police.

    Vyach­eslav Likhachev, head of the Nation­al Minor­i­ty Rights Mon­i­tor­ing Group, sug­gest­ed that the militia’s activ­i­ties were aimed at mak­ing Nation­al Cor­pus stand out from rival ultra­na­tion­al­ist par­ties ahead of next year’s par­lia­men­tary elec­tions. “They are try­ing to prove that they have more hard­core activists they can mobilise on a street lev­el.”

    ———-

    “Ukraine’s Nation­al Mili­tia: ‘We’re not neo-Nazis, we just want to make our coun­try bet­ter’ ” by Marc Ben­netts; The Guardian; 03/13/2018

    There’s noth­ing inher­ent­ly wrong with nation­al social­ism as a polit­i­cal idea...I don’t know why every­one always asso­ciates it imme­di­ate­ly with con­cen­tra­tion camps.”

    Yes, who knows why peo­ple always imme­di­ate­ly asso­ciate Nazism with con­cen­tra­tion camps?! It’s such a mys­tery.

    And this mili­tia vol­un­teer who can’t under­stand why peo­ple think there’s some­thing wrong with nation­al social­ism is part of a vig­i­lante group patrolling the forests look for ille­gal log­gers. Or crack­ing down on street crime, drug deal­ing and pub­lic alco­holism. In oth­er words, they’re try­ing to become the new police, with their expens­es cov­ered by busi­ness­es and sym­pa­thet­ic indi­vid­u­als:

    ...
    Just past mid­night in a snow-cov­ered for­est near Kiev, four men dressed in black with trun­cheons strapped to their waists lis­ten care­ful­ly for the tell­tale buzzing of chain­saws that belong to ille­gal log­gers. “The police in our coun­try are inef­fec­tive, cor­rupt or drunk,” says Zhenya, one of the men. “That’s why we have to deal with this prob­lem our­selves.”

    These wood­land vig­i­lantes, all in their ear­ly to mid-twen­ties, are not your typ­i­cal envi­ron­men­tal activists. They are mem­bers of the Nation­al Mili­tia, an ultra­na­tion­al­ist organ­i­sa­tion close­ly linked to Ukraine’s Azov move­ment, a far-right group with a mil­i­tary wing that con­tains open­ly neo-Nazi mem­bers, and its polit­i­cal spin-off, the Nation­al Cor­pus par­ty.

    ...

    Besides ille­gal log­ging, the Nation­al Mili­tia says it aims to crack down on street crime, drug deal­ing and pub­lic alco­holism. “There are many of us. We are not scared to use force to estab­lish a Ukrain­ian order,” it said in a recent state­ment.

    On 29 Jan­u­ary, hood­ed mili­tia mem­bers turned up at a munic­i­pal coun­cil meet­ing in Cherkasy, in cen­tral Ukraine, and report­ed­ly refused to let offi­cials leave the build­ing until they had approved the city’s long-delayed bud­get.

    The Nation­al Mili­tia says its mem­bers are all vol­un­teers, and that expens­es are cov­ered by busi­ness­es and indi­vid­u­als sym­pa­thet­ic to its activ­i­ties.
    ...

    And just last month 600 mem­bers of the neo-Nazi Nation­al Mili­tia marched through cen­tral Kiev in a torch-light parade as a show of force, cul­mi­nat­ing in oaths of alle­giance to Andrey Bilet­sky, a guy who declared that Ukrain­ian nation’s mis­sion was to “lead the white races of the world in a final cru­sade … against Semi­te-led Unter­men­schen [sub­hu­mans]” back in 2010:

    ...
    Although the Nation­al Mili­tia has been oper­at­ing for a year, even con­duct­ing street patrols in towns and cities under Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment con­trol, the group entered the spot­light late last month when about 600 of its mem­bers marched through cen­tral Kiev. Some wore cam­ou­flage gear, while oth­ers dressed in black with bal­a­clavas cov­er­ing their faces. This provoca­tive show of strength cul­mi­nat­ed at a torch-illu­mi­nat­ed fortress, where mili­tia mem­bers swore oaths of alle­giance to Andriy Bilet­sky, an ultra­na­tion­al­ist MP who heads the Nation­al Cor­pus par­ty.

    “When the author­i­ties are impo­tent and can­not solve issues of vital impor­tance for soci­ety, then sim­ple, ordi­nary peo­ple are forced to take respon­si­bil­i­ty upon them­selves,” Bilet­sky told Ukrain­ian media.

    Bilet­sky has toned down his rhetoric in recent years, but the for­mer Azov bat­tal­ion com­man­der declared in 2010 that the Ukrain­ian nation’s mis­sion was to “lead the white races of the world in a final cru­sade … against Semi­te-led Unter­men­schen [sub­hu­mans]”.
    ...

    But a spokesman for the Nation­al Mili­tia, Ihor Vdovin, assures us that there’s noth­ing to wor­ry about and they aren’t real­ly try­ing to “estab­lish some kind of white order”. Although Vdovin admits that he can’t speak for the mem­bers of the mili­tia who espouse white suprema­cist or neo-Nazis views:

    ...
    While Ukrain­ian law allows unarmed civil­ian organ­i­sa­tions to assist law enforce­ment agen­cies, for many observers the cer­e­mo­ny in Kiev was rem­i­nis­cent of 1930s Ger­many and kin­dled fears that Ukraine’s shaky democ­ra­cy was in dan­ger of being hijacked by an increas­ing­ly con­fi­dent far right. Nation­al Cor­pus and oth­er far-right par­ties are polling at less than 5%, but ana­lysts say they could exploit Ukraine’s eco­nom­ic and social insta­bil­i­ty to boost their elec­toral chances.

    “We are con­cerned about ris­ing nation­al­ism in Ukraine and the government’s seem­ing unwill­ing­ness to rein it in. Ukraine’s inter­na­tion­al donors and sup­port­ers should be very wor­ried,” said Tanya Coop­er, Ukraine researcher for Human Rights Watch.

    Nation­al Mili­tia offi­cials says the con­cerns are unwar­rant­ed. “If the world is wor­ried about the threat of Ukrain­ian neo-Nazism, I can assure you we are not neo-Nazis; we are sim­ply peo­ple who want to change our coun­try for the bet­ter,” said Ihor Vdovin, a spokesman for the Nation­al Mili­tia. “We don’t want to estab­lish some kind of white order.”

    Vdovin said, how­ev­er, that he could not answer for mem­bers of the mili­tia who espouse white suprema­cist or neo-Nazis views.
    ...

    “Vdovin said, how­ev­er, that he could not answer for mem­bers of the mili­tia who espouse white suprema­cist or neo-Nazis views.”

    And there we have it: there’s no need to wor­ry about these neo-Nazi mili­tias assum­ing police pow­ers because...

    1. They aren’t actu­al­ly Nazis try­ing to “estab­lish some kind of white order.” They real­ly just want to “change our coun­try for the bet­ter.”

    2. But if they were Nazis that would be fine because Nazism is per­fect­ly accept­able.

    3. Ok, there may be Nazis in the group who might actu­al­ly be try­ing to estab­lish some kind of white order. But why is every­one assum­ing this will imme­di­ate­ly lead to con­cen­tra­tion camps?! There’s noth­ing to wor­ry about!

    It’s the goose-step two-step and the neo-Nazis are march­ing it on their way to real pow­er in Ukraine.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 19, 2018, 11:56 am
  10. Here’s anoth­er piece by Josh Cohen — a for­mer USAID project offi­cer for the for­mer Sovi­et Union who does a decent job of call­ing out the neo-Nazi threat to Ukraine — on the grow­ing ‘law enforce­ment’ role the neo-Nazi mili­tias are assum­ing. Often with approval of the police and local gov­ern­ment. For instance, the Kiev city gov­ern­ment recent­ly signed an agree­ment giv­ing C14 — the mili­tia lit­er­al­ly named after the white suprema­cist ’14 words’ slo­gan — the right to estab­lish a “munic­i­pal guard” to patrol the streets there.

    But as Cohen also notes, this type of neo-Nazi mili­tia-enforced ‘law enforce­ment’ isn’t just inter­est­ed in crack­ing down on things like pub­lic drunk­en­ness or oth­er ‘vices’. They’re also crack­ing down on left-wing activism. Like LGBT and anti-war activism. As a result, left-wing activists describe a grow­ing cli­mate of fear in the coun­try.

    And as the arti­cle also notes, while the far-right may not be win­ning at the bal­lot box, they still pow­er­ful polit­i­cal pro­tec­tion, large­ly due to the close rela­tion­ship between Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov and fig­ures like Azov leader Andriy Bilet­sk and Sergei Korotkykh, an Azov vet­er­an who is now a high-rank­ing police offi­cial. And Avakov’s Peo­ples’ Par­ty is the main part­ner in the par­lia­men­tary coali­tion led by Poroshenko’s Bloc. So if Petro Poroshenko decid­ed to chal­lenge Avakov and chal­lenge the grow­ing role of these neo-Nazi mili­tias, his gov­ern­ing coali­tion would prob­a­bly col­lapse. And that’s all part of why Ukraine’s neo-Nazi prob­lem isn’t just a prob­lem of pop­u­lar sup­port for the neo-Nazi mili­tias, although the lev­el of pop­u­lar sup­port they enjoy is still dis­turbing­ly high. It’s also a prob­lem these neo-Nazi mili­tias retain­ing real ties to sig­nif­i­cant polit­i­cal pow­er that they’re using to seize even more pow­er whether or not there’s wide­spread pop­u­lar sup­port for this:

    Reuters

    Com­men­tary: Ukraine’s neo-Nazi prob­lem

    Josh Cohen
    March 19, 2018 / 5:00 PM / Updat­ed

    As Ukraine’s strug­gle against Rus­sia and its prox­ies con­tin­ues, Kiev must also con­tend with a grow­ing prob­lem behind the front lines: far-right vig­i­lantes who are will­ing to use intim­i­da­tion and even vio­lence to advance their agen­das, and who often do so with the tac­it approval of law enforce­ment agen­cies.

    A Jan­u­ary 28 demon­stra­tion, in Kiev, by 600 mem­bers of the so-called “Nation­al Mili­tia,” a new­ly-formed ultra­na­tion­al­ist group that vows “to use force to estab­lish order,” illus­trates this threat. While the group’s Kiev launch was peace­ful, Nation­al Mili­tia mem­bers in bal­a­clavas stormed a city coun­cil meet­ing in the cen­tral Ukrain­ian town of Cherkasy the fol­low­ing day, skir­mish­ing with deputies and forc­ing them to pass a new bud­get.

    Many of the Nation­al Mili­ti­a’s mem­bers come from the Azov move­ment, one of the 30-odd pri­vate­ly-fund­ed “vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions” that, in the ear­ly days of the war, helped the reg­u­lar army to defend Ukrain­ian ter­ri­to­ry against Rus­si­a’s sep­a­ratist prox­ies. Although Azov uses Nazi-era sym­bol­ism and recruits neo-Nazis into its ranks, a recent arti­cle in For­eign Affairs down­played any risks the group might pose, point­ing out that, like oth­er vol­un­teer mili­tias, Azov has been “reined in” through its inte­gra­tion into Ukraine’s armed forces. While it’s true that pri­vate mili­tias no longer rule the bat­tle­front, it’s the home front that Kiev needs to wor­ry about now.

    When Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s seizure of Crimea four years ago first exposed the decrepit con­di­tion of Ukraine’s armed forces, right-wing mili­tias such as Azov and Right Sec­tor stepped into the breach, fend­ing off the Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists while Ukraine’s reg­u­lar mil­i­tary regrouped. Though, as a result, many Ukraini­ans con­tin­ue to regard the mili­tias with grat­i­tude and admi­ra­tion, the more extreme among these groups pro­mote an intol­er­ant and illib­er­al ide­ol­o­gy that will endan­ger Ukraine in the long term. Since the Crimean cri­sis, the mili­tias have been for­mal­ly inte­grat­ed into Ukraine’s armed forces, but some have resist­ed full inte­gra­tion: Azov, for exam­ple, runs its own children’s train­ing camp, and the careers sec­tion instructs recruits who wish to trans­fer to Azov from a reg­u­lar mil­i­tary unit.

    Accord­ing to Free­dom House’s Ukraine project direc­tor Matthew Schaaf, “numer­ous orga­nized rad­i­cal right-wing groups exist in Ukraine, and while the vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions may have been offi­cial­ly inte­grat­ed into state struc­tures, some of them have since spun off polit­i­cal and non-prof­it struc­tures to imple­ment their vision.” Schaaf not­ed that “an increase in patri­ot­ic dis­course sup­port­ing Ukraine in its con­flict with Rus­sia has coin­cid­ed with an appar­ent increase in both pub­lic hate speech, some­times by pub­lic offi­cials and mag­ni­fied by the media, as well as vio­lence towards vul­ner­a­ble groups such as the LGBT com­mu­ni­ty,” an obser­va­tion that is sup­port­ed by a recent Coun­cil of Europe study.

    In recent months, Ukraine has expe­ri­enced a wave of unchecked vig­i­lan­tism. Insti­tute Respub­li­ca, a local pro-democ­ra­cy NGO, report­ed that activists are fre­quent­ly harassed by vig­i­lantes when hold­ing legal meet­ings or ral­lies relat­ed to polit­i­cal­ly-con­tro­ver­sial posi­tions, such as the pro­mo­tion of LGBT rights or oppo­si­tion to the war. Azov and oth­er mili­tias have attacked anti-fas­cist demon­stra­tions, city coun­cil meet­ings, media out­lets, art exhi­bi­tions, for­eign stu­dents and Roma. Pro­gres­sive activists describe a new cli­mate of fear that they say has been inten­si­fy­ing ever since last year’s near-fatal stab­bing of anti-war activist Stas Ser­hiyenko, which is believed to have been per­pe­trat­ed by an extrem­ist group named C14 (the name refers to a 14-word slo­gan pop­u­lar among white suprema­cists). Bru­tal attacks this month on Inter­na­tion­al Women’s Day march­es in sev­er­al Ukrain­ian cities prompt­ed an unusu­al­ly force­ful state­ment from Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al, which warned that “the Ukrain­ian state is rapid­ly los­ing its monop­oly on vio­lence.”

    Ukraine is not the only coun­try that must con­tend with a resur­gent far right. But Kiev’s recent efforts to incor­po­rate inde­pen­dent armed groups into its reg­u­lar armed forces, as well as a con­tin­u­ing nation­al sense of indebt­ed­ness to the mili­tias for their defense of the home­land, make address­ing the ultra­na­tion­al­ist threat con­sid­er­ably more com­pli­cat­ed than it is else­where. Accord­ing to Schaaf and the Insti­tute Respub­li­ca, Ukrain­ian extrem­ists are rarely pun­ished for acts of vio­lence. In some cas­es — such as C14’s Jan­u­ary attack on a remem­brance gath­er­ing for two mur­dered jour­nal­ists — police actu­al­ly detain peace­ful demon­stra­tors instead.

    To be clear, the Kremlin’s claims that Ukraine is a hor­nets’ nest of fas­cists are false: far-right par­ties per­formed poor­ly in Ukraine’s last par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, and Ukraini­ans react­ed with alarm to the Nation­al Militia’s demon­stra­tion in Kiev. But con­nec­tions between law enforce­ment agen­cies and extrem­ists give Ukraine’s West­ern allies ample rea­son for con­cern. C14 and Kiev’s city gov­ern­ment recent­ly signed an agree­ment allow­ing C14 to estab­lish a “munic­i­pal guard” to patrol the streets; three such mili­tia-run guard forces are already reg­is­tered in Kiev, and at least 21 oper­ate in oth­er cities.

    In an ide­al world, Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko would purge the police and the inte­ri­or min­istry of far-right sym­pa­thiz­ers, includ­ing Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov, who has close ties to Azov leader Andriy Bilet­sky, as well as Sergei Korotkykh, an Azov vet­er­an who is now a high-rank­ing police offi­cial. But Poroshenko would risk major reper­cus­sions if he did so; Avakov is his chief polit­i­cal rival, and the min­istry he runs con­trols the police, the Nation­al Guard and sev­er­al for­mer mili­tias.

    As one Ukrain­ian ana­lyst not­ed in Decem­ber, con­trol of these forces make Avakov extreme­ly pow­er­ful and Poroshenko’s pres­i­den­cy might not be strong enough to with­stand the kind of direct con­fronta­tion with Avakov that an attempt to oust him or to strike at his pow­er base could well pro­duce. Poroshenko has endured fre­quent ver­bal threats, includ­ing calls for rev­o­lu­tion, from ultra­na­tion­al­ist groups, so he may believe that he needs Avakov to keep them in check.

    Avakov’s Peo­ples’ Par­ty sta­tus as the main part­ner in Ukraine’s par­lia­men­tary coali­tion increas­es Avakov’s lever­age over Poroshenko’s Bloc. An attempt to fire Avakov could imper­il Poroshenko’s slim leg­isla­tive major­i­ty, and lead to ear­ly par­lia­men­tary elec­tions. Giv­en Poroshenko’s cur­rent unpop­u­lar­i­ty, this is a sce­nario he will like­ly try to avoid.

    Despite his weak posi­tion, Poroshenko still has some options for reduc­ing the threat from the far right. Though Avakov con­trols the Ukraine’s police and Nation­al Guard, Poroshenko still com­mands Ukraine’s secu­ri­ty and intel­li­gence ser­vices, the SBU, and could instruct the agency to cut its ties with C14 and oth­er extrem­ist groups. Poroshenko should also express pub­lic sup­port for mar­gin­al­ized groups like the Roma and LGBT com­mu­ni­ties, and affirm his com­mit­ment to pro­tect­ing their rights.

    West­ern diplo­mats and human rights orga­ni­za­tions must urge Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment to uphold the rule of law and to stop allow­ing the far right to act with impuni­ty. Inter­na­tion­al donors can help by fund­ing more ini­tia­tives like the Unit­ed States Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Development’s projects sup­port­ing train­ing for Ukrain­ian lawyers and human rights defend­ers, and improv­ing equi­table access to the judi­cial sys­tem for mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties.

    ...

    (Josh Cohen is a for­mer USAID project offi­cer involved in man­ag­ing eco­nom­ic reform projects in the for­mer Sovi­et Union.)

    ———-

    “Com­men­tary: Ukraine’s neo-Nazi prob­lem” by Josh Cohen; Reuters; 03/19/2018

    “As Ukraine’s strug­gle against Rus­sia and its prox­ies con­tin­ues, Kiev must also con­tend with a grow­ing prob­lem behind the front lines: far-right vig­i­lantes who are will­ing to use intim­i­da­tion and even vio­lence to advance their agen­das, and who often do so with the tac­it approval of law enforce­ment agen­cies.

    Vig­i­lante neo-Nazi mili­tias oper­at­ing with the tac­it approval of law enforce­ment agen­cies. It’s pret­ty much a night­mare sce­nario. And this vig­i­lante activ­i­ty is increas­ing­ly tar­get­ing left-wing activism. Or, in the case of the C14 attack on a remem­brance gath­er­ing for two mur­dered jour­nal­ist, this neo-Nazi vig­i­lan­tism is tar­get­ing the peo­ple mourn­ing their pri­or neo-Nazi attacks:

    ...
    Accord­ing to Free­dom House’s Ukraine project direc­tor Matthew Schaaf, “numer­ous orga­nized rad­i­cal right-wing groups exist in Ukraine, and while the vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions may have been offi­cial­ly inte­grat­ed into state struc­tures, some of them have since spun off polit­i­cal and non-prof­it struc­tures to imple­ment their vision.” Schaaf not­ed that “an increase in patri­ot­ic dis­course sup­port­ing Ukraine in its con­flict with Rus­sia has coin­cid­ed with an appar­ent increase in both pub­lic hate speech, some­times by pub­lic offi­cials and mag­ni­fied by the media, as well as vio­lence towards vul­ner­a­ble groups such as the LGBT com­mu­ni­ty,” an obser­va­tion that is sup­port­ed by a recent Coun­cil of Europe study.

    In recent months, Ukraine has expe­ri­enced a wave of unchecked vig­i­lan­tism. Insti­tute Respub­li­ca, a local pro-democ­ra­cy NGO, report­ed that activists are fre­quent­ly harassed by vig­i­lantes when hold­ing legal meet­ings or ral­lies relat­ed to polit­i­cal­ly-con­tro­ver­sial posi­tions, such as the pro­mo­tion of LGBT rights or oppo­si­tion to the war. Azov and oth­er mili­tias have attacked anti-fas­cist demon­stra­tions, city coun­cil meet­ings, media out­lets, art exhi­bi­tions, for­eign stu­dents and Roma. Pro­gres­sive activists describe a new cli­mate of fear that they say has been inten­si­fy­ing ever since last year’s near-fatal stab­bing of anti-war activist Stas Ser­hiyenko, which is believed to have been per­pe­trat­ed by an extrem­ist group named C14 (the name refers to a 14-word slo­gan pop­u­lar among white suprema­cists). Bru­tal attacks this month on Inter­na­tion­al Women’s Day march­es in sev­er­al Ukrain­ian cities prompt­ed an unusu­al­ly force­ful state­ment from Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al, which warned that “the Ukrain­ian state is rapid­ly los­ing its monop­oly on vio­lence.”

    Ukraine is not the only coun­try that must con­tend with a resur­gent far right. But Kiev’s recent efforts to incor­po­rate inde­pen­dent armed groups into its reg­u­lar armed forces, as well as a con­tin­u­ing nation­al sense of indebt­ed­ness to the mili­tias for their defense of the home­land, make address­ing the ultra­na­tion­al­ist threat con­sid­er­ably more com­pli­cat­ed than it is else­where. Accord­ing to Schaaf and the Insti­tute Respub­li­ca, Ukrain­ian extrem­ists are rarely pun­ished for acts of vio­lence. In some cas­es — such as C14’s Jan­u­ary attack on a remem­brance gath­er­ing for two mur­dered jour­nal­ists — police actu­al­ly detain peace­ful demon­stra­tors instead.
    ...

    And, of course, C14 received approval by the Kiev city gov­ern­ment to estab­lish a “munic­i­pal guard” to patrol the streets:

    ...
    To be clear, the Kremlin’s claims that Ukraine is a hor­nets’ nest of fas­cists are false: far-right par­ties per­formed poor­ly in Ukraine’s last par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, and Ukraini­ans react­ed with alarm to the Nation­al Militia’s demon­stra­tion in Kiev. But con­nec­tions between law enforce­ment agen­cies and extrem­ists give Ukraine’s West­ern allies ample rea­son for con­cern. C14 and Kiev’s city gov­ern­ment recent­ly signed an agree­ment allow­ing C14 to estab­lish a “munic­i­pal guard” to patrol the streets; three such mili­tia-run guard forces are already reg­is­tered in Kiev, and at least 21 oper­ate in oth­er cities.
    ...

    And as Cohen points out, in an ide­al world, Pres­i­dent Poroshenko would purge the police and the inte­ri­or min­istry of far-right sym­pa­thiz­ers, includ­ing Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov. But he can’t. Because Avakov’s sup­port is too impor­tant for Poroshenko’s coali­tion:

    ...
    In an ide­al world, Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko would purge the police and the inte­ri­or min­istry of far-right sym­pa­thiz­ers, includ­ing Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov, who has close ties to Azov leader Andriy Bilet­sky, as well as Sergei Korotkykh, an Azov vet­er­an who is now a high-rank­ing police offi­cial. But Poroshenko would risk major reper­cus­sions if he did so; Avakov is his chief polit­i­cal rival, and the min­istry he runs con­trols the police, the Nation­al Guard and sev­er­al for­mer mili­tias.

    As one Ukrain­ian ana­lyst not­ed in Decem­ber, con­trol of these forces make Avakov extreme­ly pow­er­ful and Poroshenko’s pres­i­den­cy might not be strong enough to with­stand the kind of direct con­fronta­tion with Avakov that an attempt to oust him or to strike at his pow­er base could well pro­duce. Poroshenko has endured fre­quent ver­bal threats, includ­ing calls for rev­o­lu­tion, from ultra­na­tion­al­ist groups, so he may believe that he needs Avakov to keep them in check.

    Avakov’s Peo­ples’ Par­ty sta­tus as the main part­ner in Ukraine’s par­lia­men­tary coali­tion increas­es Avakov’s lever­age over Poroshenko’s Bloc. An attempt to fire Avakov could imper­il Poroshenko’s slim leg­isla­tive major­i­ty, and lead to ear­ly par­lia­men­tary elec­tions. Giv­en Poroshenko’s cur­rent unpop­u­lar­i­ty, this is a sce­nario he will like­ly try to avoid.
    ...

    So, as we can see, the neo-Nazi mili­tias in Ukraine are increas­ing­ly becom­ing the neo-Nazi police force. And this is hap­pen­ing with the tac­it approval of the actu­al police and gov­ern­ment.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 20, 2018, 3:44 pm

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