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FTR#1241 and FTR#1242: How Many Lies Before You Belong to The Lies?, Parts 14 and 15

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“Polit­i­cal language…is designed to make lies sound truth­ful and mur­der respectable, and to give an appear­ance of solid­i­ty to pure wind.”

— George Orwell, 1946

EVERYTHING MR. EMORY HAS BEEN SAYING ABOUT THE UKRAINE WAR IS ENCAPSULATED IN THIS VIDEO FROM UKRAINE 24

Mr. Emory has launched a new Patre­on site. Vis­it at: Patreon.com/DaveEmory

­­­FTR#1241 This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

­­­FTR#1242 This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

Zelen­sky “nor­mal­izes” Stephan Ban­dera

Intro­duc­tion: Con­tin­u­ing our cov­er­age of the Ukraine War, we note Gen­nadiy Druzenko–the head of Ukraine’s Mil­i­tary Med­ical Ser­vice– and his order to cas­trate all Russ­ian POW’s.

Can you imag­ine the media uproar if the head of Rus­si­a’s mil­i­tary med­ical branch gave an order to cas­trate all Ukrain­ian POW’s?

Note, also this video clip: The SBU “detain­ing sus­pect­ed trai­tors.”

The pro­gram begins with a syn­op­tic, tele­scoped view of the OUN/B, a key com­po­nent of the Gehlen “Org,” itself a front for the Odessa–the Nazi SS post­war oper­a­tional under­ground.

The pro­gram begins with a syn­op­tic, tele­scoped view of the OUN/B, a key com­po­nent of the Gehlen “Org,” itself a front for the Odessa–the Nazi SS post­war oper­a­tional under­ground.

” . . . . His [Gehlen’s] FHO was con­nect­ed in this role with a num­ber of secret fas­cist orga­ni­za­tions in the coun­tries to Ger­many’s east. These includ­ed Stepan Ban­der­a’s ‘B Fac­tion’ of the Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists (OUN/B),15Roma­ni­a’s Iron Guard,16 the Ustachis of Yugoslavia,17 the Vanagis of Latvia. . . .  The mil­i­tary intel­li­gence his­to­ri­an Colonel William Cor­son put it most suc­cinct­ly, ‘Gehlen’s orga­ni­za­tion was designed to pro­tect the Odessa Nazis. It amounts to an excep­tion­al­ly well-orches­trat­ed diver­sion.’. . .”

The dis­cus­sion access­es a post Mr. Emory craft­ed in Novem­ber of 2015.

Pravy Sek­tor asso­ciate Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko had been the head of the SBU (Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence ser­vice) since the Maid­an Coup, up until his ouster in June of 2015. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, he had oper­at­ed the orga­ni­za­tion along the lines of the OUN/B.

Pre­vi­ous­ly, he had served in that same capac­i­ty under Vik­tor Yuschenko, see­ing the out­fit as a vehi­cle for rewrit­ing Ukraine’s his­to­ry in accor­dance with the his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ism favored by the OUN/B.

Very close to Pravy Sek­tor head Dymitro Yarosh, Naly­vaichenko employed Yarosh while serv­ing in the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment.  Yarosh claims that the two col­lab­o­rat­ed on “anti-ter­ror­ist” oper­a­tions con­duct­ed against eth­nic Rus­sians.

Bear in mind that the SBU has been the “cog­ni­tive win­dow” through which the events in Ukraine have been processed.

Key Ele­ments of Zelen­sky’s “Demo­ca­cy”:

  • ” . . . . The Ukrain­ian SBU secu­ri­ty ser­vices has served as the enforce­ment arm of the offi­cial­ly autho­rized cam­paign of repres­sion. With train­ing from the CIA and close coor­di­na­tion with Ukraine’s state-backed neo-Nazi para­mil­i­taries, the SBU has spent the past weeks fill­ing its vast arch­i­pel­ago of tor­ture dun­geons with polit­i­cal dis­si­dents. . . .”
  • ” . . . . Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko, the first head of the SBU after the Euro­maid­an regime change oper­a­tion of 2013–14, nur­tured close ties to Wash­ing­ton when he served as gen­er­al con­sul to the Ukrain­ian embassy to the US dur­ing the George W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion. Dur­ing that time, Naly­vaichenko was recruit­ed by the CIA, accord­ing to his pre­de­ces­sor at the SBU, Alexan­der Yaki­menko . . . .

  • ” . . . . In 2021, Zelen­sky appoint­ed one of Ukraine’s most noto­ri­ous intel­li­gence fig­ures, Olek­sander Pok­lad, to lead SBU’s coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence divi­sion. Pok­lad is nick­named “The Stran­gler,” a ref­er­ence to his rep­u­ta­tion for using tor­ture and assort­ed dirty tricks to set-up his boss­es’ polit­i­cal rivals on trea­son charges. . . .”

The “ser­i­al,” cas­cad­ing amal­ga­ma­tion of Ukrain­ian fas­cist nation­al secu­ri­ty ele­ments is exem­pli­fied by Anton Geraschenko, the spelling of whose name varies. A key oper­a­tive of the Azov milieu, he not only shep­herd­ed “Pro­fex­er,” the alleged mas­ter­mind of the DNC “hack,” but may well have been a prin­ci­pal behind the “Pro­pOrNot” list of jour­nal­ists who were “unac­cept­able” to the estab­lish­ment in Ukraine (see below.)

Of para­mount impor­tance as well is the role of the SBU, net­work­ing with the var­i­ous OUN/B suc­ces­sor orga­ni­za­tions in per­pe­trat­ing ter­ror against the Ukrain­ian pop­u­la­tion.

Do not fail to note for­mer SBU direc­tor Naly­vaichenko’s links to the CIA and to the U.S., via the George W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion.

Lviv, Ukaine, Sum­mer of 2018. Cel­e­bra­tion of the 75th anniver­sary of the 14th Waf­fen SS Divi­sion (Gali­cian). Note the Ukrain­ian hon­or guard in the back­ground.

The fawn­ing West­ern cov­er­age of the Ukraine War may be seen through the lens of Zelen­sky’s “Total War” dec­la­ra­tion: ” . . . . While West­ern media homes in on Russ­ian human rights vio­la­tions at home and inside Ukraine, the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment has autho­rized a pro­pa­gan­da cam­paign known as ‘Total War’ that includes the plant­i­ng of bogus images and false sto­ries to fur­ther impli­cate Rus­sia. . . .”

The OUN/B milieu in the U.S. has appar­ent­ly been instru­men­tal in gen­er­at­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion vis a vis alleged “Russ­ian” dis­in­for­ma­tion in U.S. media.

Note that the Pro­pOrNot group may well be an exten­sion of Anton Geraschenko’s Myrotvotets hacker/journalist intim­i­da­tion group.

” . . . One Pro­pOrNot tweet, dat­ed Novem­ber 17, invokes a 1940s Ukrain­ian fas­cist salute “Hero­iam Sla­va!!”[17] to cheer a news item on Ukrain­ian hack­ers fight­ing Rus­sians. The phrase means ‘Glo­ry to the heroes’ and it was for­mal­ly intro­duced by the fas­cist Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists (OUN) at their March-April 1941 con­gress in Nazi occu­pied Cra­cow, as they pre­pared to serve as Nazi aux­il­iaries in Oper­a­tion Bar­barossa. . . . ‘the OUN‑B intro­duced anoth­er Ukrain­ian fas­cist salute at the Sec­ond Great Con­gress of the Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists in Cra­cow in March and April 1941. This was the most pop­u­lar Ukrain­ian fas­cist salute and had to be per­formed accord­ing to the instruc­tions of the OUN‑B lead­er­ship by rais­ing the right arm ‘slight­ly to the right, slight­ly above the peak of the head’ while call­ing ‘Glo­ry to Ukraine!’ (Sla­va Ukraїni!) and respond­ing ‘Glo­ry to the Heroes!’ (Hero­iam Sla­va!). . . .”

Was “Team Geraschenko” involved in the smear­ing of Robert Par­ry, who was defamed by the Pro­pOrNot group?

” . . . . The web­site, ‘Myrotvorets’ [43] or ‘Peacemaker’—was set up by Ukrain­ian hack­ers work­ing with state intel­li­gence and police, all of which tend to share the same ultra­na­tion­al­ist ide­olo­gies as Paru­biy and the new­ly-appoint­ed neo-Nazi chief of the Nation­al Police. . . . The web­site is designed to fright­en and muz­zle jour­nal­ists from report­ing any­thing but the pro-nation­al­ist par­ty line, and it has the back­ing of gov­ern­ment offi­cials, spies and police—including the SBU (Ukraine’s suc­ces­sor to the KGB), the pow­er­ful Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Avakov and his noto­ri­ous far-right deputy, Anton Geraschenko [close­ly asso­ci­at­ed with the Azov Bat­tal­ion].

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

Par­ry sub­se­quent­ly died of a fast-act­ing case of can­cer.

Anton Geraschenko was also involved in han­dling “Profexer”–the dubi­ous alleged crafter of the [out­dat­ed] soft­ware alleged­ly used in the alleged “hack” of the DNC.

1a. The pro­gram begins with a syn­op­tic, tele­scoped view of the OUN/B, a key com­po­nent of the Gehlen “Org,” itself a front for the Odessa–the Nazi SS post­war oper­a­tional under­ground.

“The Secret Treaty of Fort Hunt” by Carl Ogles­by; Covert Action Infor­ma­tion Bul­letin; Fall/1990.

” . . . . His [Gehlen’s] FHO was con­nect­ed in this role with a num­ber of secret fas­cist orga­ni­za­tions in the coun­tries to Ger­many’s east. These includ­ed Stepan Ban­der­a’s ‘B Fac­tion’ of the Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists (OUN/B),15Roma­ni­a’s Iron Guard,16 the Ustachis of Yugoslavia,17 the Vanagis of Latvia. . . .  The mil­i­tary intel­li­gence his­to­ri­an Colonel William Cor­son put it most suc­cinct­ly, ‘Gehlen’s orga­ni­za­tion was designed to pro­tect the Odessa Nazis. It amounts to an excep­tion­al­ly well-orches­trat­ed diver­sion.’. . .”

 1b. Char­ac­ter­is­tic of the cringe­wor­thy por­tray­als of Zelen­sky is a New York Times op-ed piece.

“Why We Admire Zelen­sky” by Bret Stephens; The New York Times; 4/20/2022; p. A22 [West­ern Print Edi­tion].

. . . . Ukraine’s pres­i­dent shows that democ­ra­cies can still pro­duce great lead­ers. . . .

2a. The dis­cus­sion access­es a post Mr. Emory craft­ed in Novem­ber of 2015.

Pravy Sek­tor asso­ciate Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko had been the head of the SBU (Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence ser­vice) since the Maid­an Coup, up until his ouster in June of 2015. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, he had oper­at­ed the orga­ni­za­tion along the lines of the OUN/B.

Pre­vi­ous­ly, he had served in that same capac­i­ty under Vik­tor Yuschenko, see­ing the out­fit as a vehi­cle for rewrit­ing Ukraine’s his­to­ry in accor­dance with the his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ism favored by the OUN/B.

Very close to Pravy Sek­tor head Dymitro Yarosh, Naly­vaichenko employed Yarosh while serv­ing in the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment.  Yarosh claims that the two col­lab­o­rat­ed on “anti-ter­ror­ist” oper­a­tions con­duct­ed against eth­nic Rus­sians.

Bear in mind that the SBU has been the “cog­ni­tive win­dow” through which the events in Ukraine have been processed.

As of 11/11/2015, Mr. Emory not­ed the pro­grams doc­u­ment­ing Ukrain­ian fas­cism:   (It is impos­si­ble with­in the scope of this post to cov­er our volu­mi­nous cov­er­age of the Ukraine cri­sis. Pre­vi­ous pro­grams on the sub­ject are: FTR #‘s 777778779780781782783784794, 800803804, 808811817818824826829832833837849850853857, 860Listeners/readers are encour­aged to exam­ine these pro­grams and/or their descrip­tions in detail, in order to flesh out their under­stand­ing.)

“The Return of the Ukrain­ian Far Right: The Case of VO Svo­bo­da,” by Per Anders Rudling;  Ana­lyz­ing Fas­cist Dis­course: Euro­pean Fas­cism in Talk and Text edit­ed by Ruth Wodak and John E. Richard­son;  Rout­ledge [Lon­don and New York] 2013; pp. 228–255, more.

. . . A recon­struct­ed his­tor­i­cal mem­o­ry is cre­at­ed as ‘true mem­o­ry’ and then con­trast­ed with ‘false Sovi­et his­to­ry’ ”(Jilge, 2007:104–105). Thus, Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko, SBU direc­tor under Yushchenko, described the task of his agency as being to dis­sem­i­nate “the his­tor­i­cal truth of the past of the Ukrain­ian peo­ple,” to “lib­er­ate Ukrain­ian his­to­ry from lies and fal­sifi­ca­tions and to work with truth­ful doc­u­ments only” (Jilge, 2008:179). Ignor­ing the OUN’s anti­semitism, deny­ing its par­tic­i­pa­tion in anti- Jew­ish vio­lence, and over­look­ing its fas­cist ide­ol­o­gy, Naly­vaichenko and his agency pre­sent­ed the OUN as democ­rats, plu­ral­ists, even right­eous res­cuers of Jews dur­ing the Holo­caust. . . .

2b.  “Poland Stretch­es Out Its Hands to the Free­dom Fight­ers” by Rob Slane; The Blog­mire; 4/11/2015.

. . . . Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the Ukrain­ian author­i­ties show no signs what­so­ev­er that they are about to aban­don their admi­ra­tion of those respon­si­ble for these hor­rif­ic crimes. To the con­trary, they seem to be intent on admir­ing them all the more, as the SBU head Valen­tyn Nalyvaichenko’s recent words indi­cate: “SBU does not need to invent any­thing extra — it is impor­tant to build on the tra­di­tions and approach­es of the OUN-UPA secu­ri­ty ser­vice. It [the OUN-UPA secu­ri­ty ser­vice] worked against the aggres­sor dur­ing the tem­po­rary occu­pa­tion of the ter­ri­to­ry, it had a patri­ot­ic upbring­ing, used a coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence unit, and had relied on the peace­ful Ukrain­ian pop­u­la­tion using its sup­port.” . . . .

2c. “Yarosh Com­ments on Dis­missal of His ‘Friend’ Naly­vaichenko;” EurA­sia Dai­ly; 6/25/2015. 

The leader of the Right Sec­tor extrem­ist group Dmytro Yarosh believes that the dis­missal of Chief of the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko was illog­i­cal and untime­ly. He writes in Face­book that Naly­vaichenko is his friend, who has raised the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice from zero and has neu­tral­ized lots of ter­ror­ist threats all over the coun­try. “I know what I am talk­ing about as my Right Sec­tor was involved in many of his spe­cial oper­a­tions against Russ­ian ter­ror­ists,” Yarosh said. . . . . . In the past Yarosh was Nalyvaichenko’s advi­sor.

2d. “Switch­ing Spy­mas­ters Amid War Is Risky” by Bri­an Mef­ford; Atlantic Coun­cil; 6/18/2015.

Valentin Naly­vaichenko, head of the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine (SBU), is in trou­ble again. On June 15, Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko said he was “unsat­is­fied” with Naly­vaichenko’s work. Three days lat­er, Ukraine’s par­lia­ment dis­missed him. . . . . . . . Poroshenko Bloc MP Ser­hiy Leshchenko released a doc­u­ment con­firm­ing old rumors that Right Sec­tor’s Dmitro Yarosh worked for Naly­vaichenko when he was a mem­ber of par­lia­ment from 2012 to 2014. While the con­nec­tion between the two rais­es some ques­tions about the events of Euro­maid­an and the ori­gins of Right Sec­tor, this attack alone was­n’t enough to dis­cred­it Nalyvy­chenko. Yarosh is now a mem­ber of par­lia­ment and an advi­sor to the chief of gen­er­al staff of the Ukrain­ian army. In oth­er words, Yarosh has been legit­imized by the polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment. . . .

3. The “ser­i­al,” cas­cad­ing amal­ga­ma­tion of Ukrain­ian fas­cist nation­al secu­ri­ty ele­ments is exem­pli­fied by Anton Geraschenko, the spelling of whose name varies. A key oper­a­tive of the Azov milieu, he not only shep­herd­ed “Pro­fex­er,” the alleged mas­ter­mind of the DNC “hack,” but may well have been a prin­ci­pal behind the “Pro­pOrNot” list of jour­nal­ists who were “unac­cept­able” to the estab­lish­ment in Ukraine (see below.)

Of para­mount impor­tance as well is the role of the SBU, net­work­ing with the var­i­ous OUN/B suc­ces­sor orga­ni­za­tions in per­pe­trat­ing ter­ror against the Ukrain­ian pop­u­la­tion.

Do not fail to note for­mer SBU direc­tor Naly­vaichenko’s links to the CIA and to the U.S., via the George W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion.

The fawn­ing West­ern cov­er­age of the Ukraine War may be seen through the lens of Zelen­sky’s “Total War” dec­la­ra­tion: ” . . . . While West­ern media homes in on Russ­ian human rights vio­la­tions at home and inside Ukraine, the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment has autho­rized a pro­pa­gan­da cam­paign known as ‘Total War’ that includes the plant­i­ng of bogus images and false sto­ries to fur­ther impli­cate Rus­sia. . . .”

“‘One less trai­tor’: Zelen­sky over­sees cam­paign of assas­si­na­tion, kid­nap­ping and tor­ture of polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion” by Max Blu­men­thal and Esha Krish­naswamy; The Gray Zone; 4/17/2022.

While claim­ing to defend democ­ra­cy, Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelen­sky has out­lawed his oppo­si­tion, ordered his rivals’ arrest, and presided over the dis­ap­pear­ance and assas­si­na­tion of dis­si­dents across the coun­try.

Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelen­sky has framed his country’s war against Rus­sia as a bat­tle for democ­ra­cy itself. In a care­ful­ly chore­o­graphed address to US Con­gress on March 16, Zelen­sky stat­ed, “Right now, the des­tiny of our coun­try is being decid­ed. The des­tiny of our peo­ple, whether Ukraini­ans will be free, whether they will be able to pre­serve their democ­ra­cy.”

US cor­po­rate media has respond­ed by show­er­ing Zelen­sky with fawn­ing press, dri­ving a cam­paign for his nom­i­na­tion for the Nobel Peace Prize and inspir­ing a flam­boy­ant musi­cal trib­ute to him­self and the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary dur­ing the 2022 Gram­my awards cer­e­mo­ny on April 3.

West­ern media has looked the oth­er way, how­ev­er, as Zelen­sky and top offi­cials in his admin­is­tra­tion have sanc­tioned a cam­paign of kid­nap­ping, tor­ture, and assas­si­na­tion of local Ukrain­ian law­mak­ers accused of col­lab­o­rat­ing with Rus­sia. Sev­er­al may­ors and oth­er Ukrain­ian offi­cials have been killed since the out­break of war, many report­ed­ly by Ukrain­ian state agents after engag­ing in de-esca­la­tion talks with Rus­sia.

“There is one less trai­tor in Ukraine,” Inter­nal Affairs Min­istry advi­sor Anton Geraschenko stat­ed in endorse­ment of the mur­der of a Ukrain­ian may­or accused of col­lab­o­rat­ing with Rus­sia.

Zelen­sky has fur­ther exploit­ed the atmos­phere of war to out­law an array of oppo­si­tion par­ties and order the arrest of his lead­ing rivals. His author­i­tar­i­an decrees have trig­gered the dis­ap­pear­ance, tor­ture and even mur­der of an array of human rights activists, com­mu­nist and left­ist orga­niz­ers, jour­nal­ists and gov­ern­ment offi­cials accused of “pro-Russ­ian” sym­pa­thies.

The Ukrain­ian SBU secu­ri­ty ser­vices has served as the enforce­ment arm of the offi­cial­ly autho­rized cam­paign of repres­sion. With train­ing from the CIA and close coor­di­na­tion with Ukraine’s state-backed neo-Nazi para­mil­i­taries, the SBU has spent the past weeks fill­ing its vast arch­i­pel­ago of tor­ture dun­geons with polit­i­cal dis­si­dents.

On the bat­tle­field, mean­while, the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary has engaged in a series of atroc­i­ties against cap­tured Russ­ian troops and proud­ly exhib­it­ed its sadis­tic acts on social media. Here too, the per­pe­tra­tors of human rights abus­es appear to have received approval from the upper ech­e­lons of Ukrain­ian lead­er­ship.

While Zelen­sky spouts bro­mides about the defense of democ­ra­cy before wor­ship­ful West­ern audi­ences, he is using the war as a the­ater for enact­ing a blood-drenched purge of polit­i­cal rivals, dis­si­dents and crit­ics.

“The war is being used to kid­nap, imprison and even kill oppo­si­tion mem­bers who express them­selves crit­i­cal of the gov­ern­ment,” a left-wing activist beat­en and per­se­cut­ed by Ukraine’s secu­ri­ty ser­vices com­ment­ed this April. “We must all fear for our free­dom and our lives.”

Tor­ture and enforced dis­ap­pear­ances “com­mon prac­tices” of Ukraine’s SBU

When a US-backed gov­ern­ment seized pow­er in Kiev fol­low­ing the Euro­maid­an regime change oper­a­tion of 2013–14, Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment embarked on a nation­wide purge of polit­i­cal ele­ments deemed pro-Russ­ian or insuf­fi­cient­ly nation­al­is­tic. The pas­sage of “decom­mu­niza­tion” laws by the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment fur­ther eased the per­se­cu­tion of left­ist ele­ments and the pros­e­cu­tion of activists for polit­i­cal speech.

The post-Maid­an regime has focused its wrath on Ukraini­ans who have advo­cat­ed a peace set­tle­ment with pro-Russ­ian sep­a­ratists in the country’s east, those who have doc­u­ment­ed human rights abus­es by the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary, and mem­bers of com­mu­nist orga­ni­za­tions. Dis­si­dent ele­ments have faced the con­stant threat of ultra-nation­al­ist vio­lence, impris­on­ment, and even mur­der.

The Ukrain­ian secu­ri­ty ser­vice known as the SBU has served as the main enforcer of the post-Maid­an government’s cam­paign of domes­tic polit­i­cal repres­sion. Pro-West­ern mon­i­tors includ­ing the Unit­ed Nations Office of the High Com­mis­sion (UN OHCR) and Human Rights Watch have accused the SBU of sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly tor­tur­ing polit­i­cal oppo­nents and Ukrain­ian dis­si­dents with near-total impuni­ty.

The UN OHCR found in 2016 that “arbi­trary deten­tion, enforced dis­ap­pear­ances, tor­ture and ill-treat­ment of such con­flict-relat­ed detainees were com­mon prac­tice of SBU… A for­mer Kharkiv SBU offi­cer explained, ‘For the SBU, the law vir­tu­al­ly does not exist as every­thing that is ille­gal can be either clas­si­fied or explained by refer­ring to state neces­si­ty.”

Yevhen Karas, the founder of the infa­mous neo-Nazi C14 unit, has detailed the close rela­tion­ship his gang and oth­er extreme right fac­tions have enjoyed with the SBU. The SBU “informs not only us, but also Azov, the Right Sec­tor, and so on,” Karas boast­ed in a 2017 inter­view. Kiev offi­cial­ly endors­es assas­si­nat­ing Ukrain­ian may­ors for nego­ti­at­ing with Rus­sia.

Since Rus­sia launched its mil­i­tary oper­a­tion inside Ukraine, the SBU has hunt­ed down local offi­cials that decid­ed to accept human­i­tar­i­an sup­plies from Rus­sia or nego­ti­at­ed with Russ­ian forces to arrange cor­ri­dors for civil­ian evac­u­a­tions.

On March 1, for exam­ple, Volodymyr Strok, the may­or of the east­ern city of Kreminna in the Ukrain­ian-con­trolled side of Lugan­sk, was kid­napped by men in mil­i­tary uni­form, accord­ing to his wife, and shot in the heart.

On March 3, pic­tures of Strok’s vis­i­bly tor­tured body appeared. A day before his mur­der, Struk had report­ed­ly urged his Ukrain­ian col­leagues to nego­ti­ate with pro-Russ­ian offi­cials.

Anton Gerashchenko, an advi­sor to the Ukrain­ian Min­istry of Inter­nal Affairs, cel­e­brat­ed the mayor’s mur­der, declar­ing on his Telegram page (see below): “There is one less trai­tor in Ukraine. The may­or of Kreminna in Luhan­sk region, for­mer deputy of Luhan­sk par­lia­ment was found killed.” 

Accord­ing to Geraschenko, Strok had been judged by the “court of the people’s tri­bunal.”

The Ukrain­ian offi­cial there­fore deliv­ered a chill­ing mes­sage to any­one choos­ing to seek coop­er­a­tion with Rus­sia: do so and lose your life.  

On March 7, the may­or of Gos­tomel, Yuri Prylip­ko, was found mur­dered. Prylip­ko had report­ed­ly entered into nego­ti­a­tions with the Russ­ian mil­i­tary to orga­nize a human­i­tar­i­an cor­ri­dor for the evac­u­a­tion of his city’s res­i­dents – a red line for Ukrain­ian ultra-nation­al­ists who had long been in con­flict with the mayor’s office.

Next, on March 24, Gen­nady Mat­sego­ra, the may­or of Kupyan­sk in north­east­ern Ukraine, released a video (below) appeal­ing to Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelen­sky and his admin­is­tra­tion for the release of his daugh­ter, who had been held hostage by agents of the Ukrain­ian SBU intel­li­gence agency.  

Then there was the mur­der of Denis Kireev, a top mem­ber of the Ukrain­ian nego­ti­at­ing team, who was killed in broad day­light in Kiev after the first round of talks with Rus­sia. Kireev was sub­se­quent­ly accused in local Ukrain­ian media of “trea­son.”

Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelensky’s state­ment that “there would be con­se­quences for col­lab­o­ra­tors” indi­cates that these atroc­i­ties have been sanc­tioned by the high­est lev­els of gov­ern­ment.

As of today, eleven may­ors from var­i­ous towns in Ukraine are miss­ing. West­ern media out­lets have been fol­low­ing the Kiev line with­out excep­tion, claim­ing that all may­ors been arrest­ed by the Russ­ian mil­i­tary. The Russ­ian Min­istry of Defense has denied the charge, how­ev­er, and lit­tle evi­dence exists to cor­rob­o­rate Kiev’s line about the miss­ing may­ors.  

Zelen­sky out­laws polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion, autho­rizes arrest of rivals and war pro­pa­gan­da blitz

When war erupt­ed with Rus­sia this Feb­ru­ary, Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelen­sky issued a series of decrees for­mal­iz­ing Kiev’s cam­paign against polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion and dis­si­dent speech.

In a March 19 exec­u­tive order, Zelen­sky invoked mar­tial law to ban 11 oppo­si­tion par­ties. The out­lawed par­ties con­sist­ed of the entire left-wing, social­ist or anti-NATO spec­trum in Ukraine. They includ­ed the For Life Par­ty, the Left Oppo­si­tion, the Pro­gres­sive Social­ist Par­ty of Ukraine, the Social­ist Par­ty of Ukraine, Union of Left Forces, Social­ists, the Par­ty of Shariy, Ours, State, Oppo­si­tion Bloc and the Volodymyr Sal­do Bloc.

Open­ly fas­cist and pro-Nazi par­ties like the Azov Nation­al Corps were left untouched by the pres­i­den­tial decree, how­ev­er.

“The activ­i­ties of those politi­cians aimed at divi­sion or col­lu­sion will not suc­ceed, but will receive a harsh response,” Pres­i­dent Zelen­sky stat­ed.

As he wiped out his oppo­si­tion, Zelen­sky ordered an unprece­dent­ed domes­tic pro­pa­gan­da ini­tia­tive to nation­al­ize all tele­vi­sion news broad­cast­ing and com­bine all chan­nels into a sin­gle 24 hour chan­nel called “Unit­ed News” to “tell the truth about war.”

Next, on April 12, Zelen­sky announced the arrest of his prin­ci­pal polit­i­cal rival, Vik­tor Medved­chuk, by Ukraine’s SBU secu­ri­ty ser­vices.

The founder of the sec­ond largest par­ty in Ukraine, the now-ille­gal Patri­ots for Life, Medved­chuk is the de fac­to rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the country’s eth­nic Russ­ian pop­u­la­tion. Though Patri­ots for Life is regard­ed as “pro-Rus­sia,” in part because of his close rela­tions with Vladimir Putin, the new chair­man of the par­ty has con­demned Russia’s “aggres­sion” against Ukraine.

Mem­bers of the state-spon­sored neo-Nazi Azov Battalion’s Nation­al Corps attacked Medvedchuk’s home in March 2019, accus­ing him of trea­son and demand­ing his arrest.

In August 2020, Azov’s Nation­al Corps opened fire on a bus car­ry­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Medvedchuk’s par­ty, wound­ing sev­er­al with rub­ber-coat­ed steel bul­lets.

Zelensky’s admin­is­tra­tion esca­lat­ed the assault on his top oppo­nent in Feb­ru­ary 2021 when he shut­tered sev­er­al media out­lets con­trolled by Medved­chuk. The US State Depart­ment open­ly endorsed the president’s move, declar­ing that the Unit­ed States “sup­ports Ukrain­ian efforts to counter Russia’s malign influ­ence…”

Three months lat­er, Kiev jailed Medved­chuk and charged him with trea­son. Zelen­sky jus­ti­fied lock­ing away his lead­ing rival on the grounds that he need­ed to “fight against the dan­ger of Russ­ian aggres­sion in the infor­ma­tion are­na.”

Medved­chuk escaped house arrest at the onset of the war between Rus­sia and Ukraine, but is a cap­tive once again, and may be used as col­lat­er­al for a post-war pris­on­er swap with Rus­sia.

Under Zelensky’s watch, “the war is being used to kid­nap, imprison and even kill oppo­si­tion mem­bers”

Since Russ­ian troops entered Ukraine on Feb­ru­ary 24, Ukraine’s SBU secu­ri­ty ser­vice had been on a ram­page against any and all iter­a­tions of inter­nal polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion. Left­ist Ukrain­ian activists have faced par­tic­u­lar­ly harsh treat­ment, includ­ing kid­nap­ping and tor­ture.

This March 3 in the city of Dnipro, SBU offi­cers accom­pa­nied by Azov ultra-nation­al­ists raid­ed the home of activists with the Liviz­ja (Left) orga­ni­za­tion, which has orga­nized against social spend­ing cuts and right-wing media pro­pa­gan­da. While one activist said the Azov mem­ber “cut my hair off with a knife,” the state secu­ri­ty agents pro­ceed­ed to tor­ture her hus­band, Alexan­der Matjuschenko, press­ing a gun bar­rel to his head and forc­ing him to repeat­ed­ly belt out the nation­al­ist salute, “Sla­va Ukrai­ni!”

“Then they put bags over our heads, tied our hands with tape and took us to the SBU build­ing in a car. There they con­tin­ued to inter­ro­gate us and threat­ened to cut off our ears,” Matjuschenko’s wife told the left­ist Ger­man pub­li­ca­tion Junge Welt.

The Azov mem­bers and SBU agents record­ed the tor­ture ses­sion and pub­lished images of Matjuschenko’s blood­ied face online.

The tor­ture of left-wing activist Alexan­der Matjuschenko on March 3 in Dnipro, record­ed by Azov mem­bers and post­ed on Telegram by the city of Dnipro

Matjuschenko was jailed on the grounds that he was “con­duct­ing an aggres­sive war or mil­i­tary oper­a­tion,” and now faces 10 to 15 years in prison. Despite endur­ing sev­er­al bro­ken ribs from the beat­ing by state-backed ultra-nation­al­ists, he has been denied bail. Mean­while, dozens of oth­er left­ists have been jailed on sim­i­lar charges in Dnipro.

Among those tar­get­ed by the SBU were Mikhail and Alek­sander Kononovich, mem­bers of the out­lawed Lenin­ist Com­mu­nist Youth Union of Ukraine. Both were arrest­ed and jailed on March 6 and accused of “spread­ing pro-Russ­ian and pro-Belaru­sian views.”

In the fol­low­ing days, the SBU arrest­ed broad­cast jour­nal­ist Yan Taksyur and charged him with trea­son; human rights activist Ele­na Berezh­naya; Ele­na Viach­eslavo­va, a human rights advo­cate whose father, Mikhail, was burned to death dur­ing the May 2, 2014 ultra-nation­al­ist mob attack on anti-Maid­an pro­test­ers out­side the Odessa House of Trade Unions; inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ist Yuri Tkachev, who was charged with trea­son, and an untold num­ber of oth­ers; dis­abled rights activist Oleg Novikov, who was jailed for three years this April on the grounds that he sup­port­ed “sep­a­ratism.”

The list of those impris­oned by Ukraine’s secu­ri­ty ser­vices since the out­break of war grows by the day, and is too exten­sive to repro­duce here.

Per­haps the most ghast­ly inci­dent of repres­sion took place when neo-Nazis backed by the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment kid­napped Max­im Ryn­dovskiy, a pro­fes­sion­al MMA fight­er, and bru­tal­ly tor­tured him for the crime of train­ing with Russ­ian fight­ers at a gym in Chech­nya. Ryn­dovskiy also hap­pened to be Jew­ish, with a Star of David tat­tooed on his leg, and had spo­ken out on social media against the war in east­ern Ukraine.

Ukraine’s SBU has even hunt­ed oppo­si­tion fig­ures out­side the country’s bor­ders. As jour­nal­ist Dan Cohen report­ed, Ana­toly Shariy of the recent­ly banned Par­ty of Shariy said he was the tar­get of a recent SBU assas­si­na­tion attempt. Shariy has been an out­spo­ken oppo­nent of the US-backed Maid­an regime, and has been forced to flee into exile after endur­ing years of harass­ment from nation­al­ists.

This March, the lib­er­tar­i­an politi­cian and online pun­dit received an email from a friend, “Igor,” seek­ing to arrange a meet­ing. He sub­se­quent­ly learned that Igor was held by the SBU at the time and being used to bait Shariy into dis­clos­ing his loca­tion.

For his part, Shariy has been placed on the noto­ri­ous Myrotvorets pub­lic black­list of “ene­mies of the state” found­ed by Anton Geraschenko – the Min­istry of Inter­nal Affairs advi­sor who endorsed the assas­si­na­tion of Ukrain­ian law­mak­ers accused of Russ­ian sym­pa­thies. Sev­er­al jour­nal­ists and Ukrain­ian dis­si­dents, includ­ing the promi­nent colum­nist Oles Buz­i­na, were mur­dered by state-backed death squads after their names appeared on the list.

Com­mon Ukrain­ian cit­i­zens have also been sub­ject­ed to tor­ture since the start of the war this Feb­ru­ary. Seem­ing­ly count­less videos have appeared on social media show­ing civil­ians tied to lamp posts, often with their gen­i­tals exposed or their faces paint­ed green. Car­ried out by Ter­ri­to­r­i­al Defense vol­un­teers tasked with enforc­ing law and order dur­ing wartime, these acts of humil­i­a­tion and tor­ture have tar­get­ed every­one from accused Russ­ian sym­pa­thiz­ers to Roma peo­ple to alleged thieves.

Ukraine’s SBU stud­ies tor­ture and assas­si­na­tion from the CIA

Vass­i­ly Pro­zorov, a for­mer SBU offi­cer who defect­ed to Rus­sia fol­low­ing the Euro­maid­an coup, detailed the post-Maid­an secu­ri­ty ser­vices’ sys­temic reliance on tor­ture to crush polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion and intim­i­date cit­i­zens accused of Russ­ian sym­pa­thies. 

Accord­ing to Pro­zorov, the ex-SBU offi­cer, the Ukrain­ian secu­ri­ty ser­vices have been direct­ly advised by the CIA since 2014. “CIA employ­ees have been present in Kiev since 2014. They are resid­ing in clan­des­tine apart­ments and sub­ur­ban hous­es,” he said. “How­ev­er, they fre­quent­ly come to the SBU’s cen­tral office for hold­ing, for exam­ple, spe­cif­ic meet­ings or plot­ting secret oper­a­tions.”

Below, Russia’s RIA Novosti pro­filed Pro­zorov and cov­ered his dis­clo­sures in a 2019 spe­cial.

Jour­nal­ist Dan Cohen inter­viewed a Ukrain­ian busi­ness­man named Igor who was arrest­ed by the SBU for his finan­cial ties with Russ­ian com­pa­nies and detained this March in the secu­ri­ty service’s noto­ri­ous head­quar­ters in down­town Kiev. Igor said he over­heard Russ­ian POWs being beat­en with pipes by Ter­ri­to­r­i­al Defense vol­un­teers being coached by SBU offi­cers. Pum­meled to the sound of the Ukrain­ian nation­al anthem, the Russ­ian pris­on­ers were bru­tal­ized until they con­fessed their hatred for Putin.

Then came Igor’s turn. “They used a lighter to heat up a nee­dle, then put it under my fin­ger­nails,” he told Cohen. “The worst was when they put a plas­tic bag over my head and suf­fo­cat­ed me and when they held the muz­zle of a Kalash­nikov rifle to my head and forced me to answer their ques­tions.”

Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko, the first head of the SBU after the Euro­maid­an regime change oper­a­tion of 2013–14, nur­tured close ties to Wash­ing­ton when he served as gen­er­al con­sul to the Ukrain­ian embassy to the US dur­ing the George W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion. Dur­ing that time, Naly­vaichenko was recruit­ed by the CIA, accord­ing to his pre­de­ces­sor at the SBU, Alexan­der Yaki­menko, who served under the Russ­ian-ori­ent­ed gov­ern­ment of deposed Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych.

In 2021, Zelen­sky appoint­ed one of Ukraine’s most noto­ri­ous intel­li­gence fig­ures, Olek­sander Pok­lad, to lead SBU’s coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence divi­sion. Pok­lad is nick­named “The Stran­gler,” a ref­er­ence to his rep­u­ta­tion for using tor­ture and assort­ed dirty tricks to set-up his boss­es’ polit­i­cal rivals on trea­son charges.

This April, a vivid illus­tra­tion of the SBU’s bru­tal­i­ty emerged in the form of video (below) show­ing its agents pum­mel­ing a group of men accused of Russ­ian sym­pa­thies in the city of Dnipro.

“We will nev­er take Russ­ian sol­diers pris­on­er”: Ukraine’s mil­i­tary flaunts its war crimes

While the West­ern media has focused square­ly on alleged Russ­ian human rights abus­es since the out­break of war, Ukrain­ian sol­diers and pro-Ukrain­ian social media accounts have proud­ly exhib­it­ed sadis­tic war crimes, from field exe­cu­tions to the tor­ture of cap­tive sol­diers.

This March, a pro-Ukrain­ian Telegram chan­nel called White Lives Mat­ter released a video of a Ukrain­ian sol­dier call­ing the fiancee of a Russ­ian pris­on­er of war, seen below, and taunt­ing her with promis­es to cas­trate the cap­tive.

Ukrain­ian sol­diers’ use of the cell­phones of dead Russ­ian sol­diers to mock and hec­tor their rel­a­tives appears to be a com­mon prac­tice. In fact, the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment has begun using noto­ri­ous­ly inva­sive facial recog­ni­tion tech­nol­o­gy from Clearview AI, a US tech com­pa­ny, to iden­ti­fy Russ­ian casu­al­ties and taunt their rel­a­tives on social media.

This April, a pro-Ukrain­ian Telegram chan­nel called fckrussia2022 post­ed a video depict­ing a Russ­ian sol­dier with one of his eyes ban­daged, sug­gest­ing it had been gouged dur­ing tor­ture, and mocked him as a “one-eyed” pig. 

Per­haps the most grue­some image to have appeared on social media in recent weeks is the pho­to of a tor­tured Russ­ian sol­dier who had one of his eyes gouged before he was killed. The accom­pa­ny­ing post was cap­tioned, “look­ing for Nazis.”

Pho­tos dis­trib­uted by pro-Ukraine Telegram chan­nels show­ing cap­tured, tor­tured and exe­cut­ed Russ­ian sol­diers

Video has also emerged this April show­ing Ukrain­ian sol­diers shoot­ing defense­less Russ­ian POWs in the legs out­side the city of Kharkov. A sep­a­rate video pub­lished by Ukrain­ian and US-backed Geor­gian Legion sol­diers showed the fight­ers car­ry­ing out field exe­cu­tions of wound­ed Russ­ian cap­tives near a vil­lage out­side Kiev.

It is like­ly that these sol­diers had been embold­ened by their supe­ri­ors’ bless­ings. Mamu­la Mamu­lashvili, the com­man­der of the Geor­gian Legion, which par­tic­i­pat­ed in the field exe­cu­tions of wound­ed Russ­ian POW’s, boast­ed this April that his unit freely engages in war crimes: “Yes, we tie their hands and feet some­times. I speak for the Geor­gian Legion, we will nev­er take Russ­ian sol­diers pris­on­er. Not a sin­gle one of them will be tak­en pris­on­er.” 

Sim­i­lar­ly, Gen­nadiy Druzenko, the head of the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary med­ical ser­vice, stat­ed in an inter­view with Ukraine 24 that he “issued an order to cas­trate all Russ­ian men because they were sub­hu­man and worse than cock­roach­es.” 

Ukrain­ian offi­cials present woman tor­tured and killed by Azov as vic­tim of Rus­sia

While West­ern media homes in on Russ­ian human rights vio­la­tions at home and inside Ukraine, the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment has autho­rized a pro­pa­gan­da cam­paign known as “Total War” that includes the plant­i­ng of bogus images and false sto­ries to fur­ther impli­cate Rus­sia.

In one espe­cial­ly cyn­i­cal exam­ple of the strat­e­gy, Ukraine 24 –  a TV chan­nel where guests have called for the geno­ci­dal exter­mi­na­tion of Russ­ian chil­dren – pub­lished a pho­to this April depict­ing a female corpse brand­ed with a bloody swasti­ka on her stom­ach. Ukraine 24 claimed that it found this woman in Gos­tumel, one of the regions in the Kiev Oblast that the Rus­sians vacat­ed on March 29.  

Lesia Vasylenko, a Ukrain­ian mem­ber of par­lia­ment, and Olek­siy Arestovych, the top advi­sor to Pres­i­dent Zelen­sky, pub­lished the pho­to of the defiled female corpse on social media. While Vasylenko left the pho­to online, Arestovych delet­ed it eight hours after post­ing when con­front­ed with the fact that he had pub­lished a fake.

In fact, the image was pulled from footage orig­i­nal­ly record­ed by Patrick Lan­cast­er, a Donet­sk-based US jour­nal­ist who had filmed the corpse of a woman tor­tured and mur­dered by mem­bers of the Ukrain­ian Azov Bat­tal­ion in a Mar­i­upol school base­ment they had con­vert­ed into a base. 

At 2:31 in Lancaster’s video, the woman’s corpse can be seen clear­ly.

As weapons pour into Ukraine from NATO states and the war inten­si­fies, the atroc­i­ties are almost cer­tain to pile up – and with the bless­ing of lead­er­ship in Kiev. As Zelen­sky pro­claimed dur­ing a vis­it to the city of Bucha this April, “if we do not find a civ­i­lized way out, you know our peo­ple – they will find an unciv­i­lized way out.”

4. Geraschenko/Heraschenko’s cel­e­bra­to­ry mur­der­ous­ness gives us rea­son to doubt his descrip­tion of the deaths of the Sukhenko fam­i­ly.

“Ukrain­ian vil­lage leader and fam­i­ly found buried in shal­low grave” by Marko Djuri­ca [Reuters]; Yahoo News; 4/4/2022.

The head of the vil­lage of Motyzhyn, her hus­band and son were shot and buried in a shal­low grave, an advis­er to the Ukrain­ian inte­ri­or min­istry said on Mon­day, show­ing their par­tial­ly cov­ered bod­ies in the sand. . . .

. . . . “There have been Russ­ian occu­piers here. They tor­tured and mur­dered the whole fam­i­ly of the vil­lage head,” said Anton Herashchenko, nam­ing those killed as Olha Sukhenko, her hus­band Ihor Sukhenko and their 25-year old son, Olek­san­dr. . . .

5. Sin­gled out for crit­i­cism as a Russ­ian “dupe” by the Pro­pOrNot group, Robert Par­ry passed of a fast-act­ing case of can­cer in ear­ly 2018.

Can­cer is a favorite way for this coun­try’s intel­li­gence ser­vices to dis­pose of peo­ple.

“Wash­ing­ton Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt” by Robert Par­ry [Con­sor­tium News]; Com­mon Dreams; 11/28/2016.

The “fake news” theme has cap­ti­vat­ed The Wash­ing­ton Post and the main­stream U.S. media so much that it is stoop­ing to McCarthy­is­tic smears against news out­lets that don’t toe the State Department’s pro­pa­gan­da line

The main­stream U.S. media’s hys­te­ria over “fake news” has reached its log­i­cal (or illog­i­cal) zenith, a McCarthy­is­tic black-list­ing of hon­est jour­nal­ism that sim­ply shows pro­fes­sion­al skep­ti­cism toward Offi­cial­dom, includ­ing what’s said by U.S. gov­ern­ment offi­cials and what’s writ­ten in The Wash­ing­ton Post and New York Times.

Appar­ent­ly, to show skep­ti­cism now opens you to accu­sa­tions of dis­sem­i­nat­ing “Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da” or being a “use­ful idiot” or some sim­i­lar ugly smear rem­i­nis­cent of the old Cold War. Now that we have entered a New Cold War, I sup­pose it makes sense that we should expect a New McCarthy­ism.

After return­ing from a Thanks­giv­ing trip to Philadel­phia on Sat­ur­day, I received word that Consortiumnews.com, the 21-year-old inves­tiga­tive news site that has chal­lenged mis­guid­ed “group thinks” whether from Repub­li­cans, Democ­rats or any­one else over those two-plus decades, was includ­ed among some 200 Inter­net sites spread­ing what some anony­mous Web site, Pro­pOrNot, deems “Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da.”

I would nor­mal­ly ignore such non­sense but it was ele­vat­ed by The Wash­ing­ton Post, which treat­ed these unnamed “inde­pen­dent researchers” as sophis­ti­cat­ed experts who “tracked” the Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da oper­a­tion and assem­bled the black list.

And I’m not jok­ing when I say that these neo-McCarthyites go unnamed. The Post’s arti­cle by Craig Tim­berg on Thurs­day described Pro­pOrNot sim­ply as “a non­par­ti­san col­lec­tion of researchers with for­eign pol­i­cy, mil­i­tary and tech­nol­o­gy back­grounds [who] planned to release its own find­ings Fri­day show­ing the star­tling reach and effec­tive­ness of Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da cam­paigns.” . . . .

6. The OUN/B milieu in the U.S. has appar­ent­ly been instru­men­tal in gen­er­at­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion vis a vis alleged “Russ­ian” dis­in­for­ma­tion in U.S. media.

Note that the Pro­pOrNot group may well be an exten­sion of Anton Geraschenko’s Myrotvotets hacker/journalist intim­i­da­tion group.

Was “Team Geraschenko” involved in the smear­ing of Robert Par­ry?

In the Alternet.org arti­cle, Mark Ames high­lights sev­er­al points:

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

  • The “Pro­pOrNot” group quot­ed in a Wash­ing­ton Post sto­ry tag­ging media out­lets, web­sites and blogs as “Russian/Kremlin stooges/propaganda tools/agents” is linked to the OUN/B heirs now in pow­er in Ukraine. ” . . . One Pro­pOrNot tweet, dat­ed Novem­ber 17, invokes a 1940s Ukrain­ian fas­cist salute “Hero­iam Sla­va!!”[17] to cheer a news item on Ukrain­ian hack­ers fight­ing Rus­sians. The phrase means ‘Glo­ry to the heroes’ and it was for­mal­ly intro­duced by the fas­cist Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists (OUN) at their March-April 1941 con­gress in Nazi occu­pied Cra­cow, as they pre­pared to serve as Nazi aux­il­iaries in Oper­a­tion Bar­barossa. . . . ‘the OUN‑B intro­duced anoth­er Ukrain­ian fas­cist salute at the Sec­ond Great Con­gress of the Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists in Cra­cow in March and April 1941. This was the most pop­u­lar Ukrain­ian fas­cist salute and had to be per­formed accord­ing to the instruc­tions of the OUN‑B lead­er­ship by rais­ing the right arm ‘slight­ly to the right, slight­ly above the peak of the head’ while call­ing ‘Glo­ry to Ukraine!’ (Sla­va Ukraїni!) and respond­ing ‘Glo­ry to the Heroes!’ (Hero­iam Sla­va!). . . .”
  • The OUN/B heirs rul­ing Ukraine com­piled a list of jour­nal­ists who were “Russian/Kremlin stooges/propaganda tools/agents,” includ­ing per­son­al data and con­tact infor­ma­tion (like that made pub­lic in the Wik­iLeaks data dump of DNC e‑mails). This list was com­piled by the Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence ser­vice, inte­ri­or min­istry and–ahem–hackers: “. . . . One of the more fright­en­ing poli­cies enact­ed by the cur­rent oli­garch-nation­al­ist regime in Kiev is an online black­list [42] of jour­nal­ists accused of col­lab­o­rat­ing with pro-Russ­ian ‘ter­ror­ists.’ [43]  The web­site, ‘Myrotvorets’ [43] or ‘Peacemaker’—was set up by Ukrain­ian hack­ers work­ing with state intel­li­gence and police, all of which tend to share the same ultra­na­tion­al­ist ide­olo­gies as Paru­biy and the new­ly-appoint­ed neo-Nazi chief of the Nation­al Police. . . . The web­site is designed to fright­en and muz­zle jour­nal­ists from report­ing any­thing but the pro-nation­al­ist par­ty line, and it has the back­ing of gov­ern­ment offi­cials, spies and police—including the SBU (Ukraine’s suc­ces­sor to the KGB), the pow­er­ful Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Avakov and his noto­ri­ous far-right deputy, Anton Geraschenko [close­ly asso­ci­at­ed with the Azov Bat­tal­ion]. Ukraine’s jour­nal­ist black­list website—operated by Ukrain­ian hack­ers work­ing with state intelligence—led to a rash of death threats against the doxxed jour­nal­ists, whose email address­es, phone num­bers and oth­er pri­vate infor­ma­tion was post­ed anony­mous­ly to the web­site. Many of these threats came with the wartime Ukrain­ian fas­cist salute: ‘Sla­va Ukrai­ni!’ [Glo­ry to Ukraine!] So when PropOrNot’s anony­mous ‘researchers’ reveal only their Ukrainian(s) iden­ti­ty, it’s hard not to think about the spy-linked hack­ers who post­ed the dead­ly ‘Myrotvorets’ black­list of ‘trea­so­nous’ jour­nal­ists. . . .”

7. We are being told that a Ukrain­ian hack­er, nick­named “The Pro­fex­er” was the cre­ator of the mal­ware alleged­ly used in the high-pro­file hacks.

The asser­tion that the Pro­fex­er was paid by Russ­ian hack­ers to write cus­tom mal­ware comes from Anton Gerashchenko, a far-right mem­ber of Ukraine’s Par­lia­ment with close ties to the secu­ri­ty ser­vices and an open apol­o­gist for the Azov Bat­tal­ion.

And accord­ing to Mr. Gerashchenko, the inter­ac­tion the Prefex­or had with the ‘Russ­ian hack­ers’ was online or by phone and that the Ukrain­ian pro­gram­mer had been paid to write cus­tomized mal­ware with­out know­ing its pur­pose.

As the arti­cle also notes, how­ev­er, “It is not clear whether the spe­cif­ic mal­ware the pro­gram­mer cre­at­ed was used to hack the D.N.C. servers, but it was iden­ti­fied in oth­er Russ­ian hack­ing efforts in the Unit­ed States.”

The cen­tral point here involves Pro­fex­er’s claims to have writ­ten soft­ware for the Russ­ian hack­ers who “hacked” the DNC.

Aside from the fact that the DNC may not have been “hacked” at all, the P.A.S. web shell tool the Pro­fex­er wrote that was cit­ed in the “Griz­zly Steppe” report  was an out­dat­ed ver­sion of P.A.S. web shell.

Unless there’s more infor­ma­tion yet to come along this line of inquiry, it appears that the pri­ma­ry crim­i­nal activ­i­ty that the Pro­fex­er wit­nessed was his own qua­si-crime of cre­at­ing “cus­tomized mal­ware” for an anony­mous group that may or may not have been used in the DNC hacks. Based on this com­pelling evi­dence it appears we can nar­row the cul­prits down to…pretty much any hack­er. Huz­zah!

It’s clear that the P.A.S. web shell mal­ware that was used in the DNC hacks wasn’t cus­tomized. Because it was already an out­dat­ed ver­sion of P.A.S. web shell.

“In Ukraine, a Mal­ware Expert Who Could Blow the Whis­tle on Russ­ian Hack­ing” by Andrew E. Kramer and Andrew Hig­gins; The New York Times; 08/16/2017

. . . . There is no evi­dence that Pro­fex­er worked, at least know­ing­ly, for Russia’s intel­li­gence ser­vices, but his mal­ware appar­ent­ly did. . . .

 . . . . “There is not now and nev­er has been a sin­gle piece of tech­ni­cal evi­dence pro­duced that con­nects the mal­ware used in the D.N.C. attack to the G.R.U., F.S.B. or any agency of the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment,” said Jef­frey Carr, the author of a book on cyber­war­fare. The G.R.U. is Russia’s mil­i­tary intel­li­gence agency, and the F.S.B. its fed­er­al secu­ri­ty ser­vice. . . .

. . . . Secu­ri­ty experts were ini­tial­ly left scratch­ing their heads when the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty on Dec. 29 released tech­ni­cal evi­dence of Russ­ian hack­ing that seemed to point not to Rus­sia, but rather to Ukraine. . . .

. . . . A mem­ber of Ukraine’s Par­lia­ment with close ties to the secu­ri­ty ser­vices, Anton Gerashchenko, said that the inter­ac­tion was online or by phone and that the Ukrain­ian pro­gram­mer had been paid to write cus­tomized mal­ware with­out know­ing its pur­pose, only lat­er learn­ing it was used in Russ­ian hack­ing.

Mr. Gerashchenko described the author only in broad strokes, to pro­tect his safe­ty, as a young man from a provin­cial Ukrain­ian city. He con­firmed that the author turned him­self in to the police and was coop­er­at­ing as a wit­ness in the D.N.C. inves­ti­ga­tion. . . .

. . . . It is not clear whether the spe­cif­ic mal­ware the pro­gram­mer cre­at­ed was used to hack the D.N.C. servers. . . .

 

Discussion

5 comments for “FTR#1241 and FTR#1242: How Many Lies Before You Belong to The Lies?, Parts 14 and 15”

  1. We got anoth­er update on Canada’s ongo­ing mil­i­tary train­ing of Ukrain­ian extrem­ists asso­ci­at­ed with the Azov Bat­tal­ion. First, recall the reports about a far right umbrel­la group, the Cen­tu­ra group, open­ly brag­ging on social media about how they were being trained by the Cana­di­an mil­i­tary in Cana­da. Those reports led to review by the Cana­di­an mil­i­tary which revealed that Canada’s mil­i­tary was ful­ly aware of the extrem­ist nature of these trainees and was large­ly only con­cerned about pub­lic expo­sure of this train­ing.

    That review led to pledges by the Cana­di­an mil­i­tary that it has not and will not ever train sol­diers affil­i­at­ed with Azov. Well, there’s a new round of reports con­tra­dict­ing those pledges. A recent report by Radio Cana­da found evi­dence that sol­diers from the Azov reg­i­ment, iden­ti­fied by patch­es on their cloth­ing and oth­er insignias, have par­tic­i­pat­ed in train­ing with Canada’s armed forces recent­ly as 2020. But this train­ing was­n’t in Cana­da. It was in the west­ern-backed Zolochiv train­ing cen­ter in West­ern Ukraine. Inter­est­ing­ly, a spokesper­son for the Azov reg­i­ment cur­rent­ly fight­ing in Mar­i­upol told reporters that they were exclud­ed as a group from train­ing with Cana­di­an instruc­tors but that they “wrote a pro­gram” for their own cours­es and “were instruc­tors in all dis­ci­plines in the Nation­al Guard of Ukraine train­ing cen­tre.” In oth­er words, Canada’s mil­i­tary found a kind of train­ing loop­hole for Azov. They won’t direct­ly train Azov. But they’re train troops at the same train­ing cen­ters where Azov is also train­ing and instruct­ing. A loop­hole that we can rea­son­ably assume remains open at this point.

    So it does­n’t appear any­thing has real­ly changed regard­ing the Cana­di­an mil­i­tary’s ties to Ukrain­ian extrem­ists. But some­thing has obvi­ous­ly changed in a very big way: those trained units are now fight­ing in a hot war, mak­ing it exact­ly the kind of sit­u­a­tion where we should expect war crimes to be com­mit­ted by these units. War crimes against sol­diers and civil­ians. And poten­tial­ly the kind of war crimes that could even­tu­al­ly lead to inter­na­tion­al inves­ti­ga­tions and calls for pun­ish­ing those respon­si­ble.

    And that brings us to the oth­er Azov-relat­ed top­ic in the fol­low­ing CTV News arti­cle: Canada’s poten­tial cul­pa­bil­i­ty in war crimes com­mit­ted by the Azov bat­tal­ion now that Canada’s mil­i­tary has been repeat­ed­ly caught train­ing and equip­ping these units. Will Cana­da poten­tial­ly be found liable for acts of ter­ror and vio­lence exe­cut­ed by these units? Espe­cial­ly now that much heav­ier weapons are being shipped into Ukraine and pre­sum­ably used by these units? Well, it sounds like the evi­den­tiary require­ments would be pret­ty high in order to hold Cana­da liable. Evi­dence that Cana­da knew the peo­ple it was train­ing and arm­ing real­ly did pose are real threat of vio­lat­ing human rights.

    But, of course, that’s exact­ly the kind of evi­dence we keep see­ing report­ed. Evi­dence that Canada’s mil­i­tary knew full well they were train­ing extrem­ists and took steps as a result to hide from the pub­lic what it was doing. And right now those extrem­ist units are in the mid­dle of war zone with very cred­i­ble accu­sa­tions of human rights abus­es that have already been report­ed. So as we’re read­ing about these calls in Cana­da to hold the gov­ern­ment account­able for the its secret train­ing of Ukrain­ian extrem­ists, it’s impor­tant keep­ing in mind that a big part of the rea­son Canada’s gov­ern­ment has been hid­ing this assis­tance in the first place is because it knew it was train­ing dan­ger­ous extrem­ists with a his­to­ry of human rights vio­la­tions and now these trained units are out there in the bat­tle­field doing what they do best

    CTV News

    Mount­ing evi­dence Cana­da trained Ukrain­ian extrem­ists, gov­’t needs to be held to account: experts

    Christy Somos
    CTV Nation­al News Asso­ciate Pro­duc­er

    Updat­ed April 28, 2022 7:02 a.m. CDT
    Pub­lished April 28, 2022 6:00 a.m. CDT

    With mount­ing evi­dence point­ing to the Cana­di­an Armed Forces hav­ing trained mem­bers of Ukraine’s mil­i­tary who are also report­ed to be part of extrem­ist groups, experts say Ottawa needs to strong­ly bol­ster its inves­ti­ga­tion and vet­ting of the sol­diers it trains and arms in the embat­tled coun­try.

    The Depart­ment of Nation­al Defence promised a thor­ough review of Canada’s mis­sion in Ukraine after CTVNews.ca approached them for com­ment in Octo­ber 2021, regard­ing a report from George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty that found extrem­ists in the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary were brag­ging about being trained by Cana­di­ans as part of Oper­a­tion UNIFIER.

    The group in ques­tion – which calls itself Mil­i­tary Order Cen­turia, or sim­ply Cen­turia, has links to the far-right Azov move­ment.

    The Cana­di­an mil­i­tary said they were alarmed by the report and denied any knowl­edge that extrem­ists had tak­en part in train­ing, adding that it does not have the man­date to screen the sol­diers they train from oth­er coun­tries.

    In the month that fol­lowed, an inves­ti­ga­tion by the Ottawa Cit­i­zen found that not only did Cana­di­an offi­cials meet and get briefed by lead­ers from the Azov Bat­tal­ion in 2018, they did not denounce the unit’s neo-Nazi beliefs – despite being warned about their views by their col­leagues– and their main con­cern was that media would expose that the meet­ing had tak­en place. Offi­cers and diplo­mats allowed them­selves to be pho­tographed with bat­tal­ion offi­cials which was then used online by Azov as pro­pa­gan­da.

    The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, which has spent more than $890 mil­lion train­ing Ukrain­ian forces through Oper­a­tion UNIFIER, has repeat­ed­ly stressed that it has not and will not ever train sol­diers affil­i­at­ed with Azov.

    How­ev­er, a recent inves­ti­ga­tion by Radio Cana­da into doc­u­ments relat­ed to Canada’s mis­sion in Ukraine found evi­dence that sol­diers from the Azov reg­i­ment, iden­ti­fied by patch­es on their cloth­ing and oth­er insignias, have par­tic­i­pat­ed in train­ing with the Cana­di­an Armed Forces (CAF) as recent­ly as 2020 at the west­ern-backed Zolochiv train­ing cen­tre in West­ern Ukraine.

    In a series of mes­sages to CTVNews.ca, a spokesper­son for the Azov reg­i­ment cur­rent­ly fight­ing in Mar­i­upol, Ukraine said they were exclud­ed as a group from train­ing with Cana­di­an instruc­tors in Op. UNIFIER but that they “wrote a pro­gram” for their own cours­es and “were instruc­tors in all dis­ci­plines in the Nation­al Guard of Ukraine train­ing cen­tre,” con­firm­ing Radio Canada’s pre­vi­ous report­ing.

    The spokesper­son did not address ques­tions relat­ed to indi­vid­ual Azov reg­i­ment mem­bers receiv­ing train­ing through Op. UNIFIER.

    How­ev­er CTVNews.ca was able to find evi­dence on the social media account of Azov reg­i­ment leader Kyry­lo Berkal, call sign “Kirt,” of mem­bers train­ing with Cana­di­an instruc­tors, where they refer to “coop­er­a­tion” with Op. UNIFIER in 2019. Berkal’s social media fea­tures Nazi sym­bols and oth­er extrem­ist views.

    CTVNews.ca asked the gov­ern­ment whether it would re-eval­u­ate its spe­cial rela­tion­ship with Ukraine, its train­ing man­dates for Op. UNIFIER or review the lethal aid being sent to Ukraine in light of the recent reports. A spokesper­son for the Cana­di­an Joint Oper­a­tions Com­mand of the CAFs said in a state­ment emailed to CTVNews.ca ear­li­er this month that “all mem­bers deploy­ing on Oper­a­tion UNIFIER are briefed to help them rec­og­nize patch­es and insignia asso­ci­at­ed with right-wing extrem­ism.”

    The state­ment said that if Cana­di­an sol­diers “sus­pect” their Ukrain­ian peers or coun­ter­parts hold racist views or belong to right-wing extrem­ist ele­ments they “are removed imme­di­ate­ly.”

    How­ev­er the state­ment reit­er­at­ed that when it comes to vet­ting for­eign sol­diers; “there is no bur­den of proof on the CAF to demon­strate this beyond a rea­son­able doubt.”

    The CAF said it takes “every rea­son­able mea­sure” to ensure no train­ing is pro­vid­ed to extrem­ists, but the state­ment said “Ukraine is a sov­er­eign coun­try” respon­si­ble for recruit­ing and vet­ting its own secu­ri­ty forces.

    Address­ing con­cerns that extrem­ist ele­ments in the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary now have access to much dead­lier fire­pow­er because of coun­tries like Cana­da arm­ing Ukraine since the Russ­ian inva­sion, the CAF said that dona­tions of mil­i­tary aid are pro­vid­ed “exclu­sive­ly” to the Min­istry of Defence of Ukraine and that those dona­tions are “con­trolled with end users cer­tifi­cates pro­vid­ed by the MoD of Ukraine.”

    Chris­t­ian Leuprecht, secu­ri­ty ana­lyst and pro­fes­sor at the Roy­al Mil­i­tary Col­lege and Queen’s Uni­ver­si­ty, said “Cana­di­ans don’t get to pick who they do and don’t train” on advise and assist mis­sions like the one in Ukraine.

    “Any­time you have a nation­al­ist type con­flict, you’re going to have extrem­ists. You’re going to have peo­ple who hold extrem­ist views engaged in the fight,” Leuprecht said in a tele­phone inter­view with CTVNews.ca. “So that’s not par­tic­u­lar to Ukraine, and I think the prob­lem that Cana­di­ans have is in that mis­sion don’t have the lux­u­ry to pick and choose…. either you’re in the mis­sion or you’re not.”

    Leuprecht said Canada’s mil­i­tary resources are too stretched to set up a vet­ting mech­a­nism in Ukraine, and that the gov­ern­ment would have had to weigh the risks of oper­at­ing a train­ing mis­sion.

    “In terms of the grand trade-off, it is nev­er accept­able to have extrem­ists in our midst,” he said. “At the same time, when you’re train­ing hun­dreds or thou­sands of peo­ple over six-and-a-half years in an east­ern Euro­pean coun­try, it is unavoid­able that you’re going to get some folks who are xeno­pho­bic or extrem­ists.”

    How­ev­er, Leuprecht said when the mil­i­tary resumes Op. UNIFIER, there should be seri­ous con­ver­sa­tions about how to deal with the Azov move­ment and oth­er far-right bat­tal­ions being lion­ized as defend­ers of Ukraine after the war, swelling their ranks.

    “We’ve obvi­ous­ly learnt some hard lessons here that make us all uncom­fort­able as Canadians…if or when we re-engage with Ukraine on the advise and assist mis­sion, how is it not going to enable this bat­tal­ion in par­tic­u­lar or peo­ple who are affil­i­at­ed with it,” he said. “It will be an impor­tant ques­tion going for­ward pre­cise­ly of the hero­ic sta­tus that the bat­tal­ion will have tak­en on.”

    WHAT IS THE AZOV MOVEMENT ABOUT?

    The Azov move­ment was cre­at­ed in 2014 in response to Russia’s annex­a­tion of Crimea and was pre­dom­i­nant­ly a para­mil­i­tary unit of rad­i­cal nation­al­ists, which – includ­ing its founder and leader Andriy Biletsky—openly espoused anti-Semit­ic and oth­er far-right ide­ol­o­gy. The move­ment has attacked anti-fas­cist demon­stra­tions, city coun­cil meet­ings, media out­lets, art exhi­bi­tions, for­eign stu­dents, the LGBTQ2S+ com­mu­ni­ty and Roma peo­ple.

    A 2016 report issued by the Office of the UN’s High Com­mis­sion­er for Human Rights details accu­sa­tions against the Azov movement’s mili­tia known as the “Azov Bat­tal­ion” of tor­ture and oth­er war crimes in the ensu­ing con­flict in 2014. The Ukrain­ian Nation­al Guard lat­er took the Azov Bat­tal­ion into its ranks – where it is now more com­mon­ly known as the Azov Reg­i­ment.

    More recent efforts to dis­tance the cur­rent iter­a­tion of the Azov reg­i­ment by politi­cians and aca­d­e­mics from its infa­mous roots and cur­rent ties to the far-right “are in con­trast to impor­tant facts,” accord­ing to inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist and the orig­i­nal author of the report into Cen­turia, Olek­siy Kuz­menko in a series of emails sent to CTVNews.ca.

    “The Azov Reg­i­ment is clear­ly a high­ly capa­ble unit of the Nation­al Guard of Ukraine. In my opin­ion it’s a high­ly pro­fes­sion­al­ized wing of the Azov move­ment incor­po­rat­ed into the Nation­al Guard of Ukraine, but it’s not depoliti­cized, nor is it just a reg­u­lar unit as some claim,” he said.

    Kuz­menko said the unit proud­ly car­ries rec­og­niz­able far right sym­bols on its insignia and con­tin­ues to be close­ly tied to the larg­er, inter­na­tion­al­ly active far-right Azov move­ment and its polit­i­cal wing the Nation­al Corps par­ty. He also said he was not aware of the Ukrain­ian army doing any vet­ting for extrem­ism in its ranks.

    The Nation­al Corps par­ty is “open­ly hos­tile to lib­er­al democ­ra­cy, uni­ver­sal vot­ing rights [and] minor­i­ty rights,” Kuz­menko said. “The par­ty isn’t explic­it­ly neo-Nazi but the Azov move­ment includes explic­it­ly neo-Nazi ele­ments. To be clear, the Nation­al Corps par­ty has near­ly neg­li­gi­ble elec­toral sup­port but at the same time it has long enjoyed impuni­ty for vio­lence.

    Kuz­menko said that those who push for “abso­lu­tion” of the Reg­i­ment from its far-right her­itage and links “seem­ing­ly want the pub­lic to believe that its evi­dent ties to the Azov move­ment, its use of far-right, white nation­al­ist sym­bols etc. don’t mean any­thing,” he said. “If you buy that, I have a bridge to sell you.”

    How­ev­er, Kuz­menko said it was impor­tant to note that many Ukraini­ans who do not sup­port far-right ide­ol­o­gy had joined up with units bear­ing vari­a­tions of the Azov name since Rus­sia invad­ed, want­i­ng to defend their coun­try – but the Nation­al Corps par­ty is mak­ing efforts to edu­cate new­com­ers in its ide­ol­o­gy.

    “I believe that cur­rent claims…that the [Azov] Reg­i­ment isn’t far-right….are meant to make sup­port for these fight­ers more palat­able to the West,” Kuz­menko said. “And to bury the fact that the gov­ern­ment of Ukraine has long embraced a far-right mil­i­tary unit as part of the Nation­al Guard of Ukraine.”

    How­ev­er, Kuz­menko said he does not think there is any rea­son “why it should be hard to open­ly admit that these forces… [are] very much far-right and that they (the Azov move­ment) are also valiant­ly fight­ing Rus­sia whose bru­tal­i­ty [and] crimes dwarf …the dan­ger the far-right pose to Ukraine.”

    Russia’s rea­sons for invad­ing Ukraine includ­ed ref­er­ences to “de-Naz­i­fy” the coun­try, with Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin tar­get­ing the Azov move­ment in his remarks. This has made crit­i­cism of the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary, Op. UNIFIER and even the Azov Reg­i­ment a fraught sub­ject.

    In a state­ment emailed to CTVNews.ca, the Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Cana­di­an Anti-Hate Net­work Evan Bal­go­rd said the orga­ni­za­tion did not want to con­tribute to “the Russ­ian nar­ra­tive that Ukraine or the Ukrain­ian army are Nazis…Azov does not rep­re­sent Ukraine.”

    How­ev­er, Bal­go­rd said “it should be the stand­ing pol­i­cy of the CAF to inves­ti­gate any mili­tias they intend to train and arm so that they nev­er train or arm neo-Nazis or their equiv­a­lents. They should nev­er have trained and armed Azov. The peo­ple in the CAF who decid­ed to meet with them and lend them aid, know­ing they were neo-Nazis, should face dis­ci­pline.”

    ...

    IS CANADA LIABLE IF SOLDIERS IT TRAINED OR ARMED IN UKRAINE COMMIT CRIMES?

    As Cana­da and its allies con­tin­ue to fun­nel weapons and aid to Ukraine, the ques­tion of lia­bil­i­ty hangs in the air. If a mem­ber of the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary who has extrem­ist views or is part of a group like Cen­turia or the Azov Reg­i­ment – com­mits a crime with train­ing or weapons pro­vid­ed by Cana­da, where does the blame lie?

    The answer is com­pli­cat­ed and has sev­er­al lev­els, accord­ing to Pro­fes­sor of Con­sti­tu­tion­al and Inter­na­tion­al Law at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ottawa, Errol Mendes.

    Start­ing at the inter­na­tion­al lev­el, Mendes used the exam­ple of Cana­da sell­ing arms to Sau­di Ara­bia, for which he not­ed Cana­da has been accused by human rights orga­ni­za­tions in the past of vio­lat­ing the Arms Trade Treaty, by pro­vid­ing weapons to a gov­ern­ment that has a known his­to­ry for human rights vio­la­tions.

    “How does this then apply to Ukraine if some of the weapons that have been sent end up with the Azov Reg­i­ment or any group that may come under scruti­ny for alle­ga­tions of war crimes?” he said in a tele­phone inter­view with CTVNews.ca. “The dif­fer­ence is that the arms were sent to Sau­di Ara­bia under the aus­pices of the Sau­di gov­ern­ment which is well known to have been involved in human rights vio­la­tions – could one say the same thing about Ukraine?”

    A step down from the inter­na­tion­al lev­el, Mendes says, is to deter­mine how sig­nif­i­cant was the gov­ern­ment of Ukraine and Canada’s involve­ment in the train­ing and the sales of the weapons.

    “How much com­mand respon­si­bil­i­ty do they have for any of the vio­la­tions under the Gene­va Con­ven­tions and under inter­na­tion­al human­i­tar­i­an law in gen­er­al? Com­mand Respon­si­bil­i­ty is where you have to prove, if this ever end­ed up in a court of law, and assess what are the respon­si­bil­i­ties of the mil­i­tary lead­ers in Ukraine and then the polit­i­cal lead­ers they report to?” he said. “Did they know? Did they do any­thing to stop the acts from being com­mit­ted? It real­ly boils down to the lev­el of knowl­edge that the appro­pri­ate com­man­ders and those they report to at the polit­i­cal lev­el.”

    Mendes said it would be a tough sell legal­ly to prove that Cana­da is liable for actions per­formed by Ukrain­ian sol­diers they trained or armed.

    “In that sit­u­a­tion you have to fig­ure out not only those who have actu­al com­mand respon­si­bil­i­ty, but whether any­body else were poten­tial­ly aid­ing them… and could one then make the argu­ment that if Cana­da knew [about the extrem­ists], could they be seen as aid­ing in that sense, that would be sub­ject to obvi­ous­ly a lot of evi­den­tiary require­ments to be proved,” Mendes said.

    Mendes said Cana­da should focus on sup­port­ing the Ukrain­ian pros­e­cu­tion office and over­sight mech­a­nisms to “help the mil­i­tary com­mand deal with the neg­a­tive far-right forces in the army.”

    ———–

    “Mount­ing evi­dence Cana­da trained Ukrain­ian extrem­ists, gov­’t needs to be held to account: experts” by Christy Somos; CTV News; 04/28/2022

    “Address­ing con­cerns that extrem­ist ele­ments in the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary now have access to much dead­lier fire­pow­er because of coun­tries like Cana­da arm­ing Ukraine since the Russ­ian inva­sion, the CAF said that dona­tions of mil­i­tary aid are pro­vid­ed “exclu­sive­ly” to the Min­istry of Defence of Ukraine and that those dona­tions are “con­trolled with end users cer­tifi­cates pro­vid­ed by the MoD of Ukraine.”

    “Don’t blame us!” That appears to be the Cana­di­an mil­i­tary’s stance regard­ing its poten­tial lia­bil­i­ty should the Azov Bat­tal­ion or oth­er extrem­ist units that received Cana­di­an train­ing be found guilty of war crimes using the heavy weapon­ry that Cana­da is now deliv­er­ing to Ukraine’s armed forces. Don’t blame Cana­da because it will be exclu­sive­ly up to Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment how those weapons are ulti­mate­ly used.

    But as the arti­cle describes, the “don’t blame us! We have no con­trol over how our aid is used!” excuse isn’t just going to be applied to any war crimes com­mit­ted using the heavy weapons Cana­da is giv­ing to Ukraine. That same basic excuse is also appar­ent­ly going to be applied to any war crimes com­mit­ted by the mem­bers of the Azov Bat­tal­ion or oth­er extrem­ists who were direct­ly trained by Cana­da as part of Canada’s Oper­a­tion UNIFIER. AS the CAF spokesper­son put it, “Ukraine is a sov­er­eign coun­try” respon­si­ble for recruit­ing and vet­ting its own secu­ri­ty forces. In oth­er words, “don’t blame us if we acci­den­tal­ly train Ukrain­ian extrem­ists who go on to com­mit war crimes. Blame Ukraine!”:

    ...
    The state­ment said that if Cana­di­an sol­diers “sus­pect” their Ukrain­ian peers or coun­ter­parts hold racist views or belong to right-wing extrem­ist ele­ments they “are removed imme­di­ate­ly.”

    How­ev­er the state­ment reit­er­at­ed that when it comes to vet­ting for­eign sol­diers; “there is no bur­den of proof on the CAF to demon­strate this beyond a rea­son­able doubt.”

    The CAF said it takes “every rea­son­able mea­sure” to ensure no train­ing is pro­vid­ed to extrem­ists, but the state­ment said “Ukraine is a sov­er­eign coun­try” respon­si­ble for recruit­ing and vet­ting its own secu­ri­ty forces.
    ...

    At the same time, notice how pos­si­ble inter­na­tion­al war crimes charges that could be lev­eled against Cana­da for know­ing­ly pro­vid­ing weapons to extrem­ist groups could poten­tial­ly be deflect­ed by mak­ing the case that Ukraine is not known to be a gov­ern­ment that engages in human rights vio­la­tions. Yes, weapons deliv­er­ies to Ukraine could be por­trayed as being in a very dif­fer­ent cat­e­go­ry as, say, weapons deliv­er­ies to Sau­di Ara­bia which has a track record of human rights vio­la­tions. In oth­er words, “don’t blame us if we acci­den­tal­ly train Ukrain­ian extrem­ists who go on to com­mit war crimes. We had no idea this could hap­pen based on Ukraine’s won­der­ful human rights record!”:

    ...
    As Cana­da and its allies con­tin­ue to fun­nel weapons and aid to Ukraine, the ques­tion of lia­bil­i­ty hangs in the air. If a mem­ber of the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary who has extrem­ist views or is part of a group like Cen­turia or the Azov Reg­i­ment – com­mits a crime with train­ing or weapons pro­vid­ed by Cana­da, where does the blame lie?

    The answer is com­pli­cat­ed and has sev­er­al lev­els, accord­ing to Pro­fes­sor of Con­sti­tu­tion­al and Inter­na­tion­al Law at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ottawa, Errol Mendes.

    Start­ing at the inter­na­tion­al lev­el, Mendes used the exam­ple of Cana­da sell­ing arms to Sau­di Ara­bia, for which he not­ed Cana­da has been accused by human rights orga­ni­za­tions in the past of vio­lat­ing the Arms Trade Treaty, by pro­vid­ing weapons to a gov­ern­ment that has a known his­to­ry for human rights vio­la­tions.

    “How does this then apply to Ukraine if some of the weapons that have been sent end up with the Azov Reg­i­ment or any group that may come under scruti­ny for alle­ga­tions of war crimes?” he said in a tele­phone inter­view with CTVNews.ca. “The dif­fer­ence is that the arms were sent to Sau­di Ara­bia under the aus­pices of the Sau­di gov­ern­ment which is well known to have been involved in human rights vio­la­tions – could one say the same thing about Ukraine?”

    ...

    But even if Cana­da did end up get­ting inves­ti­gat­ed over its poten­tial role in fuel­ing war crimes com­mit­ted by Ukrain­ian extrem­ists it trained and armed, the evi­den­tiary require­ments would be sig­nif­i­cant and require prov­ing that Cana­da knew it was train­ing dan­ger­ous extrem­ists capa­ble of such acts:

    ...

    A step down from the inter­na­tion­al lev­el, Mendes says, is to deter­mine how sig­nif­i­cant was the gov­ern­ment of Ukraine and Canada’s involve­ment in the train­ing and the sales of the weapons.

    “How much com­mand respon­si­bil­i­ty do they have for any of the vio­la­tions under the Gene­va Con­ven­tions and under inter­na­tion­al human­i­tar­i­an law in gen­er­al? Com­mand Respon­si­bil­i­ty is where you have to prove, if this ever end­ed up in a court of law, and assess what are the respon­si­bil­i­ties of the mil­i­tary lead­ers in Ukraine and then the polit­i­cal lead­ers they report to?” he said. “Did they know? Did they do any­thing to stop the acts from being com­mit­ted? It real­ly boils down to the lev­el of knowl­edge that the appro­pri­ate com­man­ders and those they report to at the polit­i­cal lev­el.”

    Mendes said it would be a tough sell legal­ly to prove that Cana­da is liable for actions per­formed by Ukrain­ian sol­diers they trained or armed.

    “In that sit­u­a­tion you have to fig­ure out not only those who have actu­al com­mand respon­si­bil­i­ty, but whether any­body else were poten­tial­ly aid­ing them… and could one then make the argu­ment that if Cana­da knew [about the extrem­ists], could they be seen as aid­ing in that sense, that would be sub­ject to obvi­ous­ly a lot of evi­den­tiary require­ments to be proved,” Mendes said.

    Mendes said Cana­da should focus on sup­port­ing the Ukrain­ian pros­e­cu­tion office and over­sight mech­a­nisms to “help the mil­i­tary com­mand deal with the neg­a­tive far-right forces in the army.”
    ...

    Of course, as we’ve repeat­ed­ly seen, evi­dence exists that Canada’s mil­i­tary was not only ful­ly aware that it was train­ing Ukrain­ian extrem­ists but active­ly took steps to cov­er this up and pre­vent jour­nal­ists from learn­ing about it. It’s basi­cal­ly been the extrem­ists them­selves post­ing about their train­ing on social media that’s been tip­ping off jour­nal­ists about these train­ing oper­a­tions. That’s part of what makes these ques­tions about the poten­tial cul­pa­bil­i­ty of Canada’s mil­i­tary in war crimes com­mit­ted by these extrem­ist units so impor­tant. By train­ing units like Azov, Cana­da has placed itself in a poten­tial­ly legal­ly pre­car­i­ous sit­u­a­tion. It’s the kind of sit­u­a­tion that not only incen­tivizes the cov­er­ing up of any poten­tial war crimes by these units but also cov­er­ing up the grow­ing risk of extrem­ism in Ukraine more gen­er­al­ly. The real­i­ty that these move­ments have been allowed to engaged in acts of vio­lence and ter­ror­ism with impuni­ty has to be sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly cov­ered up and ignored as a kind of legal shield against future war crimes inves­ti­ga­tions:

    ...
    The Depart­ment of Nation­al Defence promised a thor­ough review of Canada’s mis­sion in Ukraine after CTVNews.ca approached them for com­ment in Octo­ber 2021, regard­ing a report from George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty that found extrem­ists in the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary were brag­ging about being trained by Cana­di­ans as part of Oper­a­tion UNIFIER.

    The group in ques­tion – which calls itself Mil­i­tary Order Cen­turia, or sim­ply Cen­turia, has links to the far-right Azov move­ment.

    The Cana­di­an mil­i­tary said they were alarmed by the report and denied any knowl­edge that extrem­ists had tak­en part in train­ing, adding that it does not have the man­date to screen the sol­diers they train from oth­er coun­tries.

    In the month that fol­lowed, an inves­ti­ga­tion by the Ottawa Cit­i­zen found that not only did Cana­di­an offi­cials meet and get briefed by lead­ers from the Azov Bat­tal­ion in 2018, they did not denounce the unit’s neo-Nazi beliefs – despite being warned about their views by their col­leagues– and their main con­cern was that media would expose that the meet­ing had tak­en place. Offi­cers and diplo­mats allowed them­selves to be pho­tographed with bat­tal­ion offi­cials which was then used online by Azov as pro­pa­gan­da.

    The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, which has spent more than $890 mil­lion train­ing Ukrain­ian forces through Oper­a­tion UNIFIER, has repeat­ed­ly stressed that it has not and will not ever train sol­diers affil­i­at­ed with Azov.

    How­ev­er, a recent inves­ti­ga­tion by Radio Cana­da into doc­u­ments relat­ed to Canada’s mis­sion in Ukraine found evi­dence that sol­diers from the Azov reg­i­ment, iden­ti­fied by patch­es on their cloth­ing and oth­er insignias, have par­tic­i­pat­ed in train­ing with the Cana­di­an Armed Forces (CAF) as recent­ly as 2020 at the west­ern-backed Zolochiv train­ing cen­tre in West­ern Ukraine.

    In a series of mes­sages to CTVNews.ca, a spokesper­son for the Azov reg­i­ment cur­rent­ly fight­ing in Mar­i­upol, Ukraine said they were exclud­ed as a group from train­ing with Cana­di­an instruc­tors in Op. UNIFIER but that they “wrote a pro­gram” for their own cours­es and “were instruc­tors in all dis­ci­plines in the Nation­al Guard of Ukraine train­ing cen­tre,” con­firm­ing Radio Canada’s pre­vi­ous report­ing.

    The spokesper­son did not address ques­tions relat­ed to indi­vid­ual Azov reg­i­ment mem­bers receiv­ing train­ing through Op. UNIFIER.
    ...

    Have any Cana­di­an sol­diers oper­at­ing in Ukraine been injured dur­ing the Russ­ian inva­sion so far? We haven’t had any reports on that yet. Then again, if this train­ing pro­gram inside Ukraine is still going on we pre­sum­ably aren’t going to be hear­ing about it. For rea­sons hav­ing to do with oper­a­tional secu­ri­ty on Canada’s mil­i­tary mis­sion in Ukraine, no doubt. But as the ongo­ing Cana­di­an coverup of its Azov spon­sor­ship makes clear, Cana­da has no short­age of rea­sons to keep qui­et about the exact nature of its ongo­ing mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship with Ukraine. A mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship poised to only get deep­er as this con­flict drags on. Deep­er and far more scan­dalous.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 28, 2022, 4:31 pm
  2. Posted by Hugh Sharpe | May 1, 2022, 8:14 pm
  3. The rad­i­cal­iza­tion of Ukrain­ian soci­ety in response to the Russ­ian inva­sion is obvi­ous­ly an urgent issue. There’s not short­age of rad­i­cal­iz­ing dri­vers with the grow­ing influ­ence of Ukraine’s Nazis and the inher­ent­ly rad­i­cal­iz­ing effects of liv­ing through war and dis­place­ment. But as Ukrain­ian aca­d­e­m­ic Olga Baysha, author of Democ­ra­cy, Pop­ulism, and Neolib­er­al­ism in Ukraine: On the Fringes of the Vir­tu­al and the Real, points out in the fol­low­ing inter­view, there’s anoth­er pre­vail­ing fac­tor at work that we should expect to be impact­ing how Ukraine is trans­formed by this con­flict: the grow­ing sense of betray­al Ukraini­ans felt towards the gov­ern­ment of Volodymyr Zelen­sky over his push for West­ern-backed neolib­er­al ‘reforms’ almost imme­di­ate­ly after get­ting elect­ed. As Baysha points out, Zelen­sky was indeed elect­ed on a plat­form of reform. But it was­n’t the kind of aus­ter­i­ty-induced eco­nom­ic reforms Zelen­sky end­ed up imple­ment­ing. Instead, Zelen­sky was large­ly elect­ed on a plat­form of gener­ic ‘mod­ern­iza­tion’ and anti-oli­garch cor­rup­tion, as depict­ed in Zelen­sky’s tele­vi­sion show. Zelen­sky won over­whelm­ing in 2019 on a pop­ulist plat­form of mak­ing Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment actu­al­ly work for the peo­ple. And they he got elect­ed and start­ed push­ing West­ern-backed mass pri­va­ti­za­tions and oth­er neolib­er­al reforms. This was­n’t pop­u­lar, as his plum­met­ing approval rat­ings made clear.

    Baysha also address the sit­u­a­tion fac­ing Ukraine’s eth­nic Russ­ian pop­u­la­tion, which had long felt betrayed by the anti-Russ­ian fer­vor of the Maid­an rev­o­lu­tion but is now feel­ing betrayed by Rus­si­a’s actu­al phys­i­cal inva­sion. What’s going to hap­pen to this part of Ukrain­ian soci­ety as this con­flict plays out? What sort of rad­i­cal­iza­tion can we expect for that demo­graph­ic? Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism is going to be of lim­it­ed appeal giv­en its vir­u­lent Rus­so­pho­bia. How is a Russ­ian inva­sion and poten­tial occu­pa­tion of the eth­nic-Russ­ian speak­ing areas of Ukraine that did­n’t hate Russ­ian but also did­n’t want to be invad­ed going to shape this part of Ukrain­ian soci­ety? It’s quite an iden­ti­ty cri­sis.

    Final­ly, as Baysha points out, this sense of betray­al in Ukrain­ian soci­ety is noth­ing new. Much of Ukraine’s West­ward push in the 90s is now asso­ci­at­ed with a sense of betray­al over the improved econ­o­my that nev­er hap­pened. And now Ukraine is set to become even more close­ly aligned with the West, mean­ing even more neolib­er­al ‘reforms’ are very like­ly in store for Ukraine’s future. Neolib­er­al reforms that are going to be car­ried out in a war torn already dev­as­tat­ed coun­try. Don’t for­get how Vik­tor Yanukovy­ch’s gov­ern­ment turned out the EU’s Trade Asso­ci­a­tion offer in 2013 — after months of secret­ly lob­by­ing through the ‘Haps­burg Group’ to make the agree­ment hap­pen — pri­mar­i­ly because of all the aus­ter­i­ty the EU was demand­ing. Years of aus­ter­i­ty, which Russ­ian was­n’t demand­ing in its own counter-offer. That’s why Yanukovych ulti­mate­ly nixed the deal. The aus­ter­i­ty was too much for him to stom­ach. All of that aus­ter­i­ty is now once against slat­ed for Ukraine’s future now. That’s part of why the warn­ings Baysha has in this inter­view are are prob­a­bly going to become even more rel­e­vant after the con­flict in Ukraine is final­ly over and Ukraine moves on to the post-con­flict rebuild­ing phase of its West­ward push:

    The Gray­zone

    The real Zelen­sky: from celebri­ty pop­ulist to unpop­u­lar Pinochet-style neolib­er­al

    Natylie Bald­win
    April 28, 2022

    Ukrain­ian aca­d­e­m­ic Olga Baysha details Volodymyr Zelensky’s embrace of wide­ly loathed neolib­er­al poli­cies, his repres­sion of rivals, and how his actions fueled the cur­rent war with Rus­sia.

    A comedic actor who rose to the country’s high­est office in 2019, Volodymyr Zelen­sky was vir­tu­al­ly unknown to the aver­age Amer­i­can, except per­haps as a bit play­er in the Trump impeach­ment the­ater. But when Rus­sia attacked Ukraine on Feb­ru­ary 24, 2022, Zelen­sky was sud­den­ly trans­formed to an A‑list celebri­ty in US media. Amer­i­can news con­sumers were bom­bard­ed with images of a man who appeared over­come by the trag­ic events, pos­si­bly in over his head, but ulti­mate­ly sym­pa­thet­ic. It didn’t take long for that image to evolve into the kha­ki-clad, tire­less hero gov­ern­ing over a scrap­py lit­tle democ­ra­cy and sin­gle-hand­ed­ly staving off the bar­bar­ians of autoc­ra­cy from the east.

    But beyond that care­ful­ly craft­ed West­ern media image is some­thing much more com­pli­cat­ed and less flat­ter­ing. Zelen­sky was elect­ed by 73 per­cent of the vote on a promise to pur­sue peace while the rest of his plat­form was vague. On the eve of the inva­sion, how­ev­er, his approval rat­ing had sunk to 31 per­cent due to the pur­suit of deeply unpop­u­lar poli­cies.

    Ukrain­ian aca­d­e­m­ic, Olga Baysha, author of Democ­ra­cy, Pop­ulism, and Neolib­er­al­ism in Ukraine: On the Fringes of the Vir­tu­al and the Real, has stud­ied Zelensky’s rise to pow­er and how he has wield­ed that pow­er since becom­ing pres­i­dent. In the inter­view below, Baysha dis­cuss­es Zelensky’s embrace of neolib­er­al­ism and increas­ing author­i­tar­i­an­ism, how his actions con­tributed to the cur­rent war; his coun­ter­pro­duc­tive and self-absorbed lead­er­ship through­out the war, the com­plex cul­tur­al and polit­i­cal views and iden­ti­ties of Ukraini­ans, the part­ner­ship between neolib­er­als and the rad­i­cal right dur­ing and after Maid­an, and whether a Russ­ian takeover of the entire Don­bass region might be less pop­u­lar among the local pop­u­la­tion than it would have been in 2014.

    Tell us a bit about your back­ground. Where are you from and how did you become inter­est­ed in your cur­rent area of study?

    I am an eth­nic Ukrain­ian born in Kharkov, a Ukrain­ian city on the bor­der­line with Rus­sia, where my dad and oth­er rel­a­tives are still liv­ing. Before the cur­rent war, Kharkov was one of Ukraine’s lead­ing edu­ca­tion­al and sci­en­tif­ic cen­ters. The city’s res­i­dents pride them­selves on liv­ing in the “intel­lec­tu­al cap­i­tal” of Ukraine. In 1990, the first tele­vi­sion com­pa­ny free from par­ty con­trol was estab­lished there; soon, its first news pro­gram went on air. By that time, I had already grad­u­at­ed from Kharkov Uni­ver­si­ty, and one day, I was invit­ed to work as a jour­nal­ist in this pro­gram by a uni­ver­si­ty friend. Next day, with­out pri­or expe­ri­ence, I start­ed report­ing. In a cou­ple of months, I was a news pre­sen­ter. My mete­oric career was not an excep­tion.

    New uncon­trolled media, the num­ber of which was increas­ing at a huge rate dai­ly, demand­ed more and more media work­ers. In the over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of cas­es, they were young ambi­tious peo­ple with­out any jour­nal­is­tic edu­ca­tion or life expe­ri­ence. What unit­ed us was the desire to west­ern­ize, a lack of under­stand­ing of soci­etal con­tra­dic­tions char­ac­ter­iz­ing the post-Sovi­et tran­si­tion, and deaf­ness to the con­cerns of work­ing peo­ple who opposed reforms. In our eyes, the lat­ter were “ret­ro­grade”: they did not under­stand what civ­i­liza­tion was about. We saw [our]selves as a rev­o­lu­tion­ary van­guard and cho­sen pro­gres­sive reform­ers. It is we—media workers—who cre­at­ed a favor­able envi­ron­ment for Ukraine’s neolib­er­al­iza­tion, pre­sent­ed as west­ern­iza­tion and civ­i­liza­tion, with all dis­as­trous con­se­quences for soci­ety they brought. Only years after, I real­ized this.

    Lat­er, while super­vis­ing the pro­duc­tion of his­tor­i­cal doc­u­men­taries in a Kiev tele­vi­sion com­pa­ny, I rec­og­nized that the mythol­o­gy of uni­di­rec­tion­al his­tor­i­cal progress and inevitabil­i­ty of west­ern­iza­tion for “bar­bar­ians” pro­vid­ed an ide­o­log­i­cal ground for neolib­er­al exper­i­ments not only in the for­mer Sovi­et states but around the globe. It is this inter­est in the glob­al hege­mo­ny of the ide­ol­o­gy of west­ern­iza­tion that led me first to the doc­tor­al pro­gram in crit­i­cal media stud­ies at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Col­orado at Boul­der and then to the research I am doing now.

    Accord­ing to the aca­d­e­m­ic work of some Ukrain­ian soci­ol­o­gists, polling showed in the recent past that most Ukraini­ans were not very inter­est­ed in the issue of iden­ti­ty but were more con­cerned with issues like jobs, wages, and prices. Your work focus­es a lot on the Neolib­er­al reforms that were enact­ed in Ukraine since 2019 – against the pop­u­lar sen­ti­ment. Can you talk about what the view is on eco­nom­ic issues for most Ukraini­ans and why?

    In the social milieus [in which] I lived — the east of Ukraine, Crimea, and Kiev — there were very few peo­ple con­cerned with the issue of eth­nic iden­ti­ty. I do not in vain empha­size “my social milieus.” Ukraine is a com­plex and divid­ed coun­try with its far east and far west hold­ing dia­met­ri­cal­ly dif­fer­ent views on all social­ly sig­nif­i­cant issues. Since the dec­la­ra­tion of Ukraine’s inde­pen­dence in 1991, two ideas of nation­al iden­ti­ty have been com­pet­ing in Ukraine: “eth­nic Ukrain­ian” ver­sus “east­ern Slav­ic.” The eth­nic Ukrain­ian nation­al idea, based on the notion that Ukrain­ian cul­ture, lan­guage, and eth­nic­i­ty-cen­tered his­to­ry should be the dom­i­nant inte­grat­ing forces in the Ukrain­ian nation-state, has been much more pop­u­lar in the west of Ukraine. The east­ern Slav­ic idea, which envis­ages the Ukrain­ian nation as found­ed on two pri­ma­ry eth­nic groups, lan­guages, and cul­tures — Ukrain­ian and Russ­ian — has been accept­ed as nor­mal in the Ukrain­ian south­east. How­ev­er, in gen­er­al, I can agree that most Ukraini­ans are much more con­cerned with eco­nom­ic issues, which has always been the case.

    As a mat­ter of fact, Ukraine’s inde­pen­dence of 1991 was to a big extent also a mat­ter of eco­nom­ic con­cerns. Many Ukraini­ans sup­port­ed the idea of polit­i­cal divorce from Rus­sia because of an expec­ta­tion that Ukraine would be bet­ter off eco­nom­i­cal­ly — this is what pro­pa­gan­dis­tic leaflets promised us. This eco­nom­ic hope was not real­ized. In many ways, the col­lapse of the Sovi­et Union rad­i­cal­ly changed people’s lives for the worse because of Ukraine’s neolib­er­al­iza­tion — the mar­ke­ti­za­tion of the social sphere and ruina­tion of the Sovi­et wel­fare state.

    What about neolib­er­al reforms ini­ti­at­ed by Zelen­sky? You can judge on their pop­u­lar­i­ty by opin­ion polls – up to 72% of Ukraini­ans did not sup­port his land reform, the flag­ship of Zelensky’s neolib­er­al pro­gram. After his par­ty approved it despite people’s indig­na­tion, Zelensky’s rat­ing fell from 73 per­cent in Spring 2019 to 23 per­cent in Jan­u­ary 2022. The rea­son is sim­ple: a deep sense of betray­al. In his unof­fi­cial elec­tion plat­form — the show “Ser­vant of the Peo­ple” — Zelesnky-Holoborod­ko [Holoborod­ko was Zelensky’s char­ac­ter in the tele­vi­sion show – NB] promised that if he could rule the coun­try for just one week, he would “make the teacher live as the pres­i­dent, and the pres­i­dent live as the teacher.” To put it mild­ly, this promise was not ful­filled. Peo­ple real­ized that they were duped once again—the reforms have been car­ried out in the inter­ests of not Ukraini­ans but glob­al cap­i­tal.

    To what extent do you think that pri­or­i­tiz­ing of eco­nom­ic secu­ri­ty ver­sus iden­ti­ty issues has changed with the Russ­ian inva­sion? How do you think that will work out for the polit­i­cal for­tunes of the nationalists/ultranationalists ver­sus mod­er­ates or left­ists?

    That is an inter­est­ing ques­tion. On the one hand, people’s pri­or­i­ty now is to sur­vive, which makes secu­ri­ty their pri­ma­ry con­cern. To save their lives, mil­lions of Ukraini­ans, includ­ing my mom and my sis­ter with chil­dren, have left Ukraine for Europe. Many of them are ready to stay there for­ev­er, to learn for­eign lan­guages, and to adopt to a for­eign way of life—all these devel­op­ments can hard­ly pri­or­i­tize iden­ti­ty con­cerns. On the oth­er hand, how­ev­er, the inten­si­fi­ca­tion of eth­nic sen­ti­ments and the con­sol­i­da­tion of the nation in the face of the inva­sion is also evi­dent. I can judge on this from pub­lic dis­cus­sions in social media—some Kharkovites whom I know per­son­al­ly even start­ed mak­ing posts in Ukrain­ian [lan­guage], which they had nev­er used before, to high­light their nation­al iden­ti­ty and sig­nal that they are against any for­eign inva­sion.

    This is anoth­er trag­ic aspect of this war. The Maid­an rev­o­lu­tion of 2014, which many peo­ple in the south­east did not sup­port, trans­formed these peo­ple into “slaves,” “sov­ki” and “vatniki”—derogatory terms to denote their back­ward­ness and bar­barism. This is how Maid­an rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies, who con­sid­ered them­selves the pro­gres­sive force of his­to­ry, saw anti-Maid­an “oth­ers” because of their adher­ence to Russ­ian lan­guage and cul­ture. Nev­er ever could this pro-Russ­ian pop­u­la­tion imag­ine Rus­sia to shell their cities and ruin their lives. The tragedy of these peo­ple is twofold: first, their world was ruined sym­bol­i­cal­ly by the Maid­an, now, it is being destroyed phys­i­cal­ly by Rus­sia.

    The out­comes of these devel­op­ments are unclear so far as it is unclear how the war will end. If the south­east­ern regions remain in Ukraine, the ruina­tion of every­thing resist­ing aggres­sive nation­al­ism will most like­ly be com­plet­ed. This will be prob­a­bly the end of this unique bor­der­line cul­ture that has nev­er want­ed to be either com­plete­ly Ukrainized or Rus­si­fied. If Rus­sia estab­lish­es con­trol over these regions, as it boasts now, I can hard­ly pre­dict how it will be deal­ing with mass resentment—at least, in the cities that are dam­aged sig­nif­i­cant­ly, as in Kharkov.

    Mov­ing to Zelen­sky specif­i­cal­ly – one thing you point out in your book is how Zelen­sky served as this sort of Pied Piper fig­ure in that he used his celebri­ty and act­ing skills to get peo­ple to sup­port him on behalf of this vague, feel-good agen­da (peace, democ­ra­cy, progress, anti­cor­rup­tion) but that real­ly obscured anoth­er agen­da that would not have been pop­u­lar, specif­i­cal­ly a Neolib­er­al eco­nom­ic agen­da. Can you talk about how he did that – how did he run his cam­paign and what were his pri­or­i­ties after he got into office?

    The basic argu­ment pre­sent­ed in my recent book is that the aston­ish­ing vic­to­ry of Zelen­sky and his par­ty, lat­er trans­formed into a par­lia­men­tary machine to churn out and rub­ber-stamp neolib­er­al reforms (in a “tur­bo regime,” as they called it), can­not be explained apart from the suc­cess of his tele­vi­sion series, which, as many observers believe, served as Zelensky’s infor­mal elec­tion plat­form. Unlike his offi­cial plat­form, which ran only 1,601 words in length and con­tained few pol­i­cy specifics, the 51 half-hour episodes of his show pro­vid­ed Ukraini­ans with a detailed vision of what should be done so that Ukraine could progress.

    The mes­sage deliv­ered by Zelen­sky to Ukraini­ans through his show is clear­ly pop­ulist. The peo­ple of Ukraine are por­trayed in it as an unprob­lem­at­ic total­i­ty devoid of inter­nal splits, from which only oli­garchs and cor­rupt­ed politicians/officials are exclud­ed. The coun­try becomes healthy only after get­ting rid of both oli­garchs and their pup­pets. Some of them are impris­oned or flee the coun­try; their prop­er­ty is con­fis­cat­ed with­out any regard to legal­i­ty. Lat­er, Zelen­sky-the-pres­i­dent will do the same towards his polit­i­cal rivals.

    Inter­est­ing­ly, the show ignores the theme of the Don­bass war, which erupt­ed in 2014, a year before the series start­ed being broad­cast. As the Maid­an and Rus­sia-Ukraine rela­tions are very divi­sive issues in Ukrain­ian soci­ety, Zelen­sky ignored them so as not to jeop­ar­dize the uni­ty of his vir­tu­al nation, his view­ers, and ulti­mate­ly his vot­ers.

    Zelensky’s elec­tion promis­es, made on the fringes of the vir­tu­al and the real, were pre­dom­i­nant­ly about Ukraine’s “progress,” under­stood as “mod­ern­iza­tion,” “West­ern­iza­tion,” “civ­i­liza­tion,” and “nor­mal­iza­tion.” It is this pro­gres­sive mod­ern­iz­ing dis­course that allowed Zelen­sky to cam­ou­flage his plans for neolib­er­al reforms, launched just three days after the new gov­ern­ment came to pow­er. Through­out the cam­paign, the idea of “progress” high­light­ed by Zelen­sky was nev­er linked to pri­va­ti­za­tion, land sales, bud­get cuts, etc. Only after Zelen­sky had con­sol­i­dat­ed his pres­i­den­tial pow­er by estab­lish­ing full con­trol over the leg­isla­tive and exec­u­tive branch­es of pow­er did he make it clear that the “nor­mal­iza­tion” and “civ­i­liza­tion” of Ukraine meant the pri­va­ti­za­tion of land and state/public prop­er­ty, the dereg­u­la­tion of labor rela­tions, a reduc­tion of pow­er for trade unions, an increase in util­i­ty tar­iffs, and so on.

    You’ve point­ed out that many for­eign­ers were appoint­ed to impor­tant eco­nom­ic and social posts after the 2014 coup and before Zelensky’s term. Sim­i­lar­ly, many of Zelensky’s offi­cials have close ties to glob­al neolib­er­al insti­tu­tions and you’ve sug­gest­ed there is evi­dence that they manip­u­late Zelen­sky who has an unso­phis­ti­cat­ed under­stand­ing of economics/finance. Can you dis­cuss that aspect of the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of the pro-West­ern change of gov­ern­ment in 2014? What are the larg­er inter­ests at play here and do they have the inter­ests of the gen­er­al Ukrain­ian pop­u­la­tion in mind at all?

    Yes, the Maid­an change of pow­er in 2014 marked the begin­ning of a com­plete­ly new era in the his­to­ry of Ukraine in terms of West­ern influ­ence on its sov­er­eign deci­sions. To be sure, since Ukraine declared its inde­pen­dence in 1991, this influ­ence has always exist­ed. Amer­i­can Cham­ber of Com­merce, Cen­ter for US-Ukraine rela­tions, US-Ukraine Busi­ness Coun­cil, Euro­pean Busi­ness Asso­ci­a­tion, IMF, EBDR, WTO, the EU—all these lob­by­ing and reg­u­lat­ing insti­tu­tions have been sig­nif­i­cant­ly affect[ing] Ukrain­ian polit­i­cal deci­sions.

    How­ev­er, nev­er in the pre-Maid­an his­to­ry of Ukraine had the coun­try appoint­ed for­eign cit­i­zens to top min­is­te­r­i­al posts—this became pos­si­ble only after the Maid­an. In 2014, Natal­ie Jaresko—a cit­i­zen of the US—was appoint­ed Ukraine’s Min­is­ter of Finance, Aivaras Abromavicius—a cit­i­zen of Lithuania—became Ukraine’s Min­is­ter of Econ­o­my and Trade, Alexan­der Kvitashvili—a cit­i­zen of Georgia—the Min­is­ter of Health­care. In 2016, Ulana Suprun—a cit­i­zen of the US—was appoint­ed the act­ing Min­is­ter of Health­care. Oth­er for­eign­ers assumed offices of low­er ranks. Need­less to say, all these appoint­ments result­ed not from the will of Ukraini­ans but from the rec­om­men­da­tions of the glob­al neolib­er­al insti­tu­tions, which is not sur­pris­ing giv­en that the Maid­an itself was not sup­port­ed by half of Ukraine’s pop­u­la­tion.

    As already men­tioned, the major­i­ty of these anti-Maid­an “oth­ers” reside in the south­east­ern regions. The far­ther east one looked, the stronger and more uni­fied a rejec­tion of the Maid­an with its Euro­pean agen­da one would find. More than 75 per­cent of those liv­ing in the Donet­sk and Luhan­sk oblasts (two east­ern regions of Ukraine pre­dom­i­nant­ly pop­u­lat­ed by Russ­ian-speak­ers) did not sup­port the Maid­an, while only 20 per­cent of peo­ple liv­ing in Crimea sup­port­ed it.

    These sta­tis­ti­cal fig­ures, pro­vid­ed by Kiev Insti­tute of Soci­ol­o­gy in April 2014, did not pre­vent West­ern insti­tu­tions of pow­er from argu­ing that the Maid­an was the upris­ing of “Ukrain­ian peo­ple” pre­sent­ed as an unprob­lem­at­ic totality—a very pow­er­ful ide­o­log­i­cal trick. When vis­it­ing the Maid­an Square and encour­ag­ing its rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies to protest, mem­bers of the “inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty” dis­re­spect­ed mil­lions of Ukraini­ans who held anti-Maid­an views, thus con­tribut­ing to the esca­la­tion of the civ­il con­flict, which at the end of the day led to the dis­as­ter that we are help­less­ly observ­ing today.

    What about for­eign inter­ests invest­ed in Ukraine’s neolib­er­al­iza­tion, car­ried out in the name of the Ukrain­ian peo­ple? [T]hey are diverse, but behind the land reform, which I have been ana­lyz­ing care­ful­ly, there were finan­cial lob­bies in the West. West­ern pen­sion funds and invest­ment funds want­ed to invest mon­ey that was depre­ci­at­ing. Look­ing for assets to invest in, they enlist­ed sup­port of the IMF, the World Bank, EBRD, and var­i­ous lob­by­ing groups to pro­mote their inter­ests and lay out all nec­es­sary ground­work. This has noth­ing to do with the inter­ests of Ukraini­ans, of course.

    How has Zelensky’s record been on democ­ra­cy – free­dom of speech and press, polit­i­cal plu­ral­ism and treat­ment of dif­fer­ent polit­i­cal par­ties? How does it com­pare to past pres­i­dents of post-Sovi­et Ukraine?

    I agree with Jodi Dean who argues that democ­ra­cy is a neolib­er­al fan­ta­sy in a sense that it can­not exist in neolib­er­al sys­tems of gov­ern­ment con­trolled not by peo­ple but by supra­na­tion­al insti­tu­tions. As men­tioned ear­li­er, this became espe­cial­ly evi­dent after the Maid­an when for­eign min­is­ters were appoint­ed by these insti­tu­tions to present their inter­ests in Ukraine. How­ev­er, in his reform­ing zeal, Zelen­sky went fur­ther. In ear­ly Feb­ru­ary 2021, first three oppo­si­tion­al tele­vi­sion chan­nels—New­sOne, Zik, and 112 Ukraine—were shut down. Anoth­er oppo­si­tion­al chan­nel Nash was banned in the begin­ning of 2022, before the begin­ning of the war. After the war broke out, in March, dozens of inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ists, blog­gers, and ana­lysts were arrest­ed; most of them are of left­ist views. In April, tele­vi­sion chan­nels of right-wing lean­ing—Chan­nel 5 and Pryamiy—were shut down as well. More­over, Zelen­sky signed a decree oblig­ing all Ukrain­ian chan­nels to broad­cast a sin­gle telethon, pre­sent­ing only one pro-gov­ern­men­tal view on the war.

    All these devel­op­ments are unprece­dent­ed for the his­to­ry of inde­pen­dent Ukraine. Zelensky’s pro­po­nents argue that all the arrests and media bans should be writ­ten off for mil­i­tary expe­di­en­cy, ignor­ing the fact that the first media clo­sures hap­pened one year before the Russ­ian inva­sion. As for me, Zelen­sky only uses this war to strength­en dic­ta­to­r­i­al ten­den­cies with­in his regime of gov­ern­ment, which start­ed being formed right after Zelen­sky came to power—when he cre­at­ed a par­ty machine to con­trol the par­lia­ment and rub­ber-stamp neolib­er­al reforms with­out regard to pub­lic mood.

    The Nation­al Secu­ri­ty and Defense Coun­cil (NSDC) was used by Zelen­sky in 2021 to sanc­tion cer­tain peo­ple – most­ly polit­i­cal rivals. Can you explain what the NSDC is and why Zelen­sky was doing it and whether it was legal or not.

    After his pop­u­lar sup­port plum­met­ed in 2021, Zelen­sky launched the uncon­sti­tu­tion­al process of extra­ju­di­cial sanc­tions against his polit­i­cal oppo­nents, imposed by Nation­al Secu­ri­ty and Defense Coun­cil (NSDC). These sanc­tions involved the extra­ju­di­cial seizure of prop­er­ty with­out any evi­dence of ille­gal activ­i­ties of the rel­e­vant indi­vid­u­als and legal enti­ties. Among the first to be sanc­tioned by the NSDC were two par­lia­men­tary deputies from the Oppo­si­tion Plat­form “For Life” (OPZZh)—Victor Medved­chuk (lat­er arrest­ed and shown on TV with his face beat­en up after inter­ro­ga­tion) and Taras Kozak (man­aged to escape from Ukraine), as well as mem­bers of their fam­i­lies. This hap­pened in Feb­ru­ary 2021; in March 2022, 11 oppo­si­tion­al par­ties were banned. The deci­sions to ban oppo­si­tion­al par­ties and sanc­tion oppo­si­tion­al lead­ers were tak­en by NSDC; they were put into effect by pres­i­den­tial decrees.

    The Con­sti­tu­tion of Ukraine states that The Coun­cil of Nation­al Secu­ri­ty and Defense is a coor­di­nat­ing body: it “co-ordi­nates and con­trols the activ­i­ty of bod­ies of exec­u­tive pow­er in the sphere of nation­al secu­ri­ty and defense.” This has noth­ing to do with pros­e­cut­ing polit­i­cal oppo­nents and con­fis­cat­ing their property—something NSDC has been doing since 2021. It goes with­out say­ing that this know-how of Zelensky’s regime is unconstitutional—only courts may decide on who is guilty or not and con­fis­cate prop­er­ty. But the prob­lem is that Ukrain­ian courts turned out to be unpre­pared to serve as Zelensky’s pup­pets. After the head of Ukraine’s Con­sti­tu­tion­al Court Olek­san­dr Tupyt­skyi called Zelensky’s uncon­sti­tu­tion­al reforms a “coup,” Zelen­sky had noth­ing to do but to rely on NSDC to push for­ward his unpop­u­lar poli­cies. What about the “dis­si­dent” Tupyt­skyi? On March 27, 2021—also in vio­la­tion of the Ukrain­ian Constitution—Zelensky signed a decree can­cel­ing his appoint­ment as a judge of the court.

    Under Stalin’s rule, the People’s Com­mis­sari­at of Inter­nal Affairs (NKVD) cre­at­ed “troikas” to issue sen­tences to peo­ple after sim­pli­fied, speedy inves­ti­ga­tions and with­out a pub­lic and fair tri­al. What we observe in the case of NSDC is a very sim­i­lar devel­op­ment, only NSDC uncon­sti­tu­tion­al tri­als have a big­ger num­ber of participants—all the key fig­ures of the state, includ­ing the pres­i­dent, the prime min­is­ter, the head of Ukrain­ian secu­ri­ty ser­vice, pros­e­cu­tor gen­er­al of Ukraine, etc. One NSDC meet­ing can decide des­tinies of hun­dreds of peo­ple. In June 2021 alone, Zelen­sky put into effect a NSDC deci­sion to impose sanc­tions against 538 indi­vid­u­als and 540 com­pa­nies.

    I’d like to ask you about the “Peace­mak­er” (Myrotvorets) list that is report­ed­ly affil­i­at­ed with the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment and SBU intel­li­gence ser­vice. My under­stand­ing is that this is a list of “ene­mies of the state” and pub­lish­es said ene­mies’ per­son­al infor­ma­tion. Sev­er­al of those who appeared on it have been sub­se­quent­ly mur­dered. Can you talk about this list, how do peo­ple end up on it, and how does it fit into a gov­ern­ment that we’ve been told is demo­c­ra­t­ic?

    The nation­al­is­tic Myrotvorets web­site was launched in 2015 “by a people’s deputy hold­ing a posi­tion of advis­er to the Min­istry of Inte­ri­or of Ukraine”—this is how the UN report describes this. The name of this people’s deputy is Anton Gerashchenko, a for­mer advi­sor to the for­mer Min­is­ter of Inter­nal Affairs Arsen Avakov. It is under Avakov’s patron­age in 2014 [that] nation­al­is­tic puni­tive bat­tal­ions were cre­at­ed to be sent to Don­bass for sup­press­ing people’s resis­tance against the Maid­an. Myrotvorets has been part of the gen­er­al strat­e­gy of intim­i­dat­ing the oppo­nents of the coup. Any “ene­my of the people”—anybody who dares to express pub­licly anti-Maid­an views or chal­lenge Ukraine’s nation­al­is­tic agenda—may occur on this web­site. The address­es of Oles Buz­i­na, a famous pub­li­cist [jour­nal­ist], shot dead by nation­al­ists near his apart­ment build­ing in Kyiv, and Oleg Kalash­nikov, an oppo­si­tion­al deputy killed by nation­al­ists in his house, were also on Myrotvorets, which helped the killers to find their vic­tims. The names of the mur­der­ers are well known; how­ev­er, they are not impris­oned because in con­tem­po­rary Ukraine, whose polit­i­cal life is con­trolled by rad­i­cals, they are con­sid­ered heroes.

    The site was not shut down even after an inter­na­tion­al scan­dal when Myrotvorets pub­lished the per­son­al data of well-known for­eign politi­cians, includ­ing the for­mer Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Ger­hard Schröder. But, in con­trast to Mr. Schröder resid­ing in Ger­many, thou­sands of Ukraini­ans whose data are on Myrotvorets, can­not feel safe. All those arrest­ed in March 2022 had been on Myrotvorets as well. Some of them I know per­son­al­ly – Yuri Tkachev, the edi­tor of Odessa news­pa­per Timer and Dmit­ry Dzhangirov, the edi­tor of Cap­i­tal, a YouTube chan­nel.

    Many of those whose names are on Myrotvorets, man­aged to flee Ukraine after the Maid­an; some were able to do it after mass arrests this March. One of them is Tarik Neza­lezhko, Dzhangirov’s col­league. On April 12, 2022, already being safe out­side of Ukraine, he made a post on YouTube, call­ing Ukraine’s Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice “Gestapo” and giv­ing advice to his view­ers on how to avoid being cap­tured by its agents.

    That said, Ukraine is not a demo­c­ra­t­ic coun­try. The more I observe what is going on there, the more I think about the mod­ern­iza­tion path of Augus­to Pinochet, who, as a mat­ter of fact, is admired by our neolib­er­als. For a long peri­od of time, the crimes of Pinochet’s regime had not been inves­ti­gat­ed. But in the end, human­i­ty dis­cov­ered the truth. I only hope that in Ukraine this will hap­pen ear­li­er.

    Ukrain­ian aca­d­e­m­ic Volodymyr Ishchenko said in a recent inter­view with NLR that, unlike in West­ern Europe, there is more of a part­ner­ship between nation­al­ism and Neolib­er­al­ism in post-Sovi­et East­ern Europe. This was even observed in the Don­bass among the more afflu­ent. Do you agree with that? If so, can you explain how that com­bi­na­tion evolved?

    I agree with Volodymyr. What we observe in Ukraine is an alliance of nation­al­ists and lib­er­als based on their com­mon intol­er­ance to Rus­sia and, respec­tive­ly, to all who advo­cate for coop­er­a­tion with it. It the light of the cur­rent war, this uni­ty of lib­er­als and nation­al­ists may appear as jus­ti­fied. How­ev­er, the alliance was cre­at­ed long before this war—in 2013, dur­ing the for­ma­tion of the Maid­an move­ment. By lib­er­als, the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment with the Euro­pean Union, advo­cat­ed by the Maid­an, was seen pre­dom­i­nant­ly in terms of democ­ra­ti­za­tion, mod­ern­iza­tion, and civilization—it was imag­ined as a means of bring­ing Ukraine up to Euro­pean stan­dards of gov­ern­ment. In con­trast, the Eurasian Eco­nom­ic Union, led by Rus­sia, was asso­ci­at­ed with civ­i­liza­tion­al regres­sion to Sovi­et sta­tism and Asian despo­tism. It is here that the posi­tions of lib­er­als and nation­al­ists con­verged: The lat­ter active­ly sup­port­ed the Maid­an not because of democ­ra­ti­za­tion, but due to its clear anti-Rus­sia stance.

    From the first days of the protests, rad­i­cal nation­al­ists were the most active Maid­an fight­ers. The uni­ty between lib­er­als asso­ci­at­ing the Euro­maid­an with progress, mod­ern­iza­tion, human rights, etc., and rad­i­cals co-opt­ing the move­ment for their nation­al­is­tic agen­da was an impor­tant pre­req­ui­site for the trans­for­ma­tion of the civic protest into an armed strug­gle result­ing in an uncon­sti­tu­tion­al over­turn­ing of pow­er. The deci­sive role of rad­i­cals in the rev­o­lu­tion also became a cru­cial fac­tor in the for­ma­tion of a mass anti-Maid­an move­ment in the east of Ukraine against the “coup d’etat,” as the hege­mon­ic anti-Maid­an dis­course dubbed the change of pow­er in Kyiv. At least part­ly, what we observe today, is a trag­ic out­come of this short­sight­ed and unfor­tu­nate alliance, formed dur­ing the Maid­an.

    Can you explain what Zelensky’s rela­tion­ship has been with the far-right in Ukraine?

    Zelen­sky him­self has nev­er expressed far-right views. In his series “Ser­vant of the Peo­ple,” which was used as an unof­fi­cial elec­tion plat­form, Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists are por­trayed neg­a­tive­ly: they appear as noth­ing else but stu­pid oli­garchs’ mar­i­onettes. As a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Zelen­sky crit­i­cized the lan­guage law signed by his pre­de­ces­sor Poroshenko, which made the knowl­edge of Ukrain­ian lan­guage a manda­to­ry require­ment for civ­il ser­vants, sol­diers, doc­tors, and teach­ers. “We must ini­ti­ate and adopt laws and deci­sions that con­sol­i­date soci­ety, and not vice ver­sa,” Zelen­sky-the-can­di­date claimed in 2019.

    How­ev­er, after assum­ing the pres­i­den­tial office, Zelen­sky turned to the nation­al­is­tic agen­da of his pre­de­ces­sor. On May 19, 2021, his gov­ern­ment approved an action plan for the pro­mo­tion of the Ukrain­ian lan­guage in all spheres of pub­lic life strict­ly in line with Poroshenko’s lan­guage law, to the delight of nation­al­ists and dis­may of Rus­so­phones. Zelen­sky has done noth­ing to pros­e­cute rad­i­cals for all their crimes against polit­i­cal oppo­nents and the peo­ple of Don­bass. The sym­bol of Zelensky’s right-wing trans­for­ma­tion was his endorse­ment by nation­al­ist Medvedko—one of those accused of mur­der­ing Buzina—who pub­licly approved Zelensky’s ban of Russ­ian-lan­guage oppo­si­tion­al chan­nels in 2021.

    The ques­tion is why? Why did Zelen­sky make a U‑turn to nation­al­ism despite people’s hopes that he would pur­sue the pol­i­tics of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion? As many analy­sists believe, this is because rad­i­cals, although rep­re­sent­ing the minor­i­ty of the Ukrain­ian pop­u­la­tion, do not hes­i­tate to use force against politi­cians, courts, law enforce­ment agen­cies, media work­ers, and so forth—in oth­er words, they are sim­ply good at intim­i­dat­ing soci­ety, includ­ing all the branch­es of pow­er. Pro­pa­gan­dists may repeat the mantra “Zelen­sky is a Jew, so he can­not be a Nazi” as often as they want, but the truth is that rad­i­cals con­trol the polit­i­cal process in Ukraine through vio­lence against those who dare con­front their nation­al­is­tic and suprema­cist agen­das. The case of Ana­toliy Shariy — one of the most pop­u­lar blog­gers in Ukraine liv­ing in exile—is a good exam­ple to illus­trate this point. Not only does he, along with his fam­i­ly mem­bers, per­ma­nent­ly receive death threats, rad­i­cals con­stant­ly intim­i­date the activists of his par­ty (banned by Zelen­sky in March 2022), beat­ing and humil­i­at­ing them. This is what Ukrain­ian rad­i­cals call “polit­i­cal safari.”

    Right now, Zelen­sky is the most influ­en­tial fig­ure on the world stage with respect to a con­flict that has grave impli­ca­tions if it esca­lates. I’m con­cerned that he’s using those same manip­u­la­tive show biz skills to ral­ly sup­port behind this image of some per­son­al incar­na­tion of democ­ra­cy and right­eous­ness against the forces of evil and autoc­ra­cy. It’s like a movie based on a Mar­vel com­ic book world. It’s pre­cise­ly the kind of fram­ing that seems anti­thet­i­cal to diplo­ma­cy. Do you think Zelen­sky is play­ing a con­struc­tive role as the wartime leader of Ukraine or not?

    I fol­low Zelen­sky’ war speech­es on a reg­u­lar basis, and I can con­fi­dent­ly say that the way he frames the con­flict can hard­ly lead to any diplo­mat­ic res­o­lu­tion as he per­ma­nent­ly repeats that the forces of good are attacked by the forces of evil. Clear­ly, there can be no polit­i­cal solu­tion for such an Armaged­don. What falls out of this myth­i­cal frame of ref­er­ence for the war is the broad­er con­text of the sit­u­a­tion: the fact that for years Ukraine has been refus­ing to imple­ment the Min­sk peace agree­ments, which were signed in 2015 after the defeat of the Ukrain­ian army in the Don­bass war. Accord­ing to these agree­ments, Don­bass had to receive a polit­i­cal auton­o­my with­in Ukraine—a point incon­ceiv­able and unac­cept­able for rad­i­cals. Instead of imple­ment­ing the doc­u­ment, which was rat­i­fied by the UN, Kiev has been fight­ing with Don­bass along the line of demar­ca­tion for eight long years. The life of Ukraini­ans liv­ing in these ter­ri­to­ries has been trans­formed into a night­mare. For rad­i­cals, whose bat­tal­ions have been fight­ing there, Don­bass people—imagined as sov­ki and vat­ni­ki—do not deserve mer­cy and indul­gence.

    The cur­rent war is a pro­lon­ga­tion of the war of 2014, which start­ed when Kiev sent troops to Don­bass to sup­press anti-Maid­an rebel­lion under the premise of the so-called “anti-ter­ror­ist oper­a­tion.” The acknowl­edge­ment of this broad­er con­text does not pre­sup­pose the approval of Russia’s “mil­i­tary oper­a­tion,” but it implies the acknowl­edge­ment that Ukraine is also respon­si­ble for what is going on. Fram­ing the issue of the cur­rent war in terms of a fight of civ­i­liza­tion against bar­barism or democ­ra­cy against autoc­ra­cy is noth­ing else but manip­u­la­tion, and this is essen­tial for under­stand­ing the sit­u­a­tion. Bush’s for­mu­la “you are either with us or with ter­ror­ists,” prop­a­gat­ed by Zelen­sky in his appeals to the “civ­i­lized world,” has turned out to be very con­ve­nient in terms of avoid­ing per­son­al respon­si­bil­i­ty for the ongo­ing dis­as­ter.

    ...

    Alexan­der Gabuev has sug­gest­ed that the Russ­ian lead­er­ship has a lack of exper­tise about the coun­try that was a con­tribut­ing fac­tor to this con­flict. I have also heard Russ­ian com­men­ta­tors sug­gest that Ukraine has a supe­ri­or atti­tude with regard to being pro-West­ern ver­sus pro-Russ­ian. Do you think this is a sig­nif­i­cant con­tribut­ing fac­tor for either side?

    I am inclined to agree with the claim regard­ing the lack of an ade­quate under­stand­ing on the part of Russ­ian lead­er­ship of social process­es that have been going on in Ukraine since the Maid­an. Indeed, half of Ukraine’s pop­u­la­tion did not wel­come it, and mil­lions liv­ing in the south­east want­ed Rus­sia to inter­vene. I know this for sure as all my rel­a­tives and old friends reside in these ter­ri­to­ries. How­ev­er, what was true in 2014 may not be nec­es­sar­i­ly the case now. Eight years have passed; a new gen­er­a­tion of young peo­ple, raised with­in a new social envi­ron­ment, has grown; and many peo­ple sim­ply accus­tomed them­selves to new real­i­ties. Final­ly, even if most of them despise rad­i­cals and the pol­i­tics of Ukrainiza­tion, they hate the war even more. The real­i­ty on the ground has turned out to be more com­plex than deci­sion-mak­ers expect­ed.

    What about the sense of supe­ri­or­i­ty among those Ukraini­ans who iden­ti­fy them­selves with West­ern­ers rather than with Rus­sians?

    This is true, and, as for me, this is the most trag­ic part of the whole post-Maid­an sto­ry, because it is exact­ly this sense of supe­ri­or­i­ty that pre­vent­ed the “pro­gres­sive” pro-Maid­an forces from find­ing com­mon lan­guage with their “back­ward” pro-Russ­ian com­pa­tri­ots. This led to the Don­bass upris­ing, the “anti-ter­ror­ist oper­a­tion” of the Ukrain­ian army against Don­bass, Russia’s inter­ven­tion, Min­sk peace agree­ments, their non-ful­fill­ment, and, final­ly, the cur­rent war.

    ———

    “The real Zelen­sky: from celebri­ty pop­ulist to unpop­u­lar Pinochet-style neolib­er­al” by Natylie Bald­win; The Gray­zone; 04/28/2022

    “Zelensky’s elec­tion promis­es, made on the fringes of the vir­tu­al and the real, were pre­dom­i­nant­ly about Ukraine’s “progress,” under­stood as “mod­ern­iza­tion,” “West­ern­iza­tion,” “civ­i­liza­tion,” and “nor­mal­iza­tion.” It is this pro­gres­sive mod­ern­iz­ing dis­course that allowed Zelen­sky to cam­ou­flage his plans for neolib­er­al reforms, launched just three days after the new gov­ern­ment came to pow­er. Through­out the cam­paign, the idea of “progress” high­light­ed by Zelen­sky was nev­er linked to pri­va­ti­za­tion, land sales, bud­get cuts, etc. Only after Zelen­sky had con­sol­i­dat­ed his pres­i­den­tial pow­er by estab­lish­ing full con­trol over the leg­isla­tive and exec­u­tive branch­es of pow­er did he make it clear that the “nor­mal­iza­tion” and “civ­i­liza­tion” of Ukraine meant the pri­va­ti­za­tion of land and state/public prop­er­ty, the dereg­u­la­tion of labor rela­tions, a reduc­tion of pow­er for trade unions, an increase in util­i­ty tar­iffs, and so on.”

    Volodymyr Zelen­sky did­n’t cam­paign as a neolib­er­al reformer. He cam­paigned as a “mod­ern­iz­er” who was going to repli­cate the kind of anti-cor­rup­tion agen­da por­trayed on his tele­vi­sion show. But three days after get­ting elect­ed the actu­al agen­da was revealed: mas­sive pri­va­ti­za­tion and oth­er neolib­er­al ‘reforms’ backed large­ly be West­ern inter­ests. Flash for­ward to Zelen­sky’s plum­met­ing poll rat­ings as a result of this switcha­roo and we find his admin­is­tra­tion turn­ing to extra­ju­di­cial crack­downs on polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion through the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty and Defense Coun­cil. Sim­i­lar­ly, while Zelen­sky did­n’t cam­paign as an ally of the far right, that’s effec­tive­ly what he became. As Olga Baysha puts in in the inter­view, it does­n’t appear that Zelen­sky was secret­ly har­bor­ing far right sym­pa­thies all along. Instead, it’s just a reflec­tion of the fact that Ukraine’s Nazis have suc­cess­ful­ly threat­ened their way into a sta­tus of vir­tu­al impuni­ty. The pres­i­dent was intim­i­dat­ed into coop­er­a­tion. That’s the real­i­ty that can­not be acknowl­edged in the West medi­a’s cov­er­age of Ukraine: the far right real­ly does exert an effec­tive veto over Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment and Zelen­sky’s admin­is­tra­tion has been exhib­it A for that real­i­ty. It’s this arc and — from a pop­ulist reformer elect­ed on a vague plat­form of ‘mod­ern­iza­tion’ to neolib­er­al ‘reformer’ and ally of far right — that con­sti­tutes some of the key con­text for what was hap­pen­ing inside Ukraine in the years lead­ing up to the Russ­ian inva­sion. A deep col­lec­tive sense of pop­u­lar betray­al. And that sen­ti­ment is part of what is now being trans­mor­phed into vir­u­lent nation­al­ism in response to the Russ­ian inva­sion:

    ...
    Mov­ing to Zelen­sky specif­i­cal­ly – one thing you point out in your book is how Zelen­sky served as this sort of Pied Piper fig­ure in that he used his celebri­ty and act­ing skills to get peo­ple to sup­port him on behalf of this vague, feel-good agen­da (peace, democ­ra­cy, progress, anti­cor­rup­tion) but that real­ly obscured anoth­er agen­da that would not have been pop­u­lar, specif­i­cal­ly a Neolib­er­al eco­nom­ic agen­da. Can you talk about how he did that – how did he run his cam­paign and what were his pri­or­i­ties after he got into office?

    The basic argu­ment pre­sent­ed in my recent book is that the aston­ish­ing vic­to­ry of Zelen­sky and his par­ty, lat­er trans­formed into a par­lia­men­tary machine to churn out and rub­ber-stamp neolib­er­al reforms (in a “tur­bo regime,” as they called it), can­not be explained apart from the suc­cess of his tele­vi­sion series, which, as many observers believe, served as Zelensky’s infor­mal elec­tion plat­form. Unlike his offi­cial plat­form, which ran only 1,601 words in length and con­tained few pol­i­cy specifics, the 51 half-hour episodes of his show pro­vid­ed Ukraini­ans with a detailed vision of what should be done so that Ukraine could progress.

    The mes­sage deliv­ered by Zelen­sky to Ukraini­ans through his show is clear­ly pop­ulist. The peo­ple of Ukraine are por­trayed in it as an unprob­lem­at­ic total­i­ty devoid of inter­nal splits, from which only oli­garchs and cor­rupt­ed politicians/officials are exclud­ed. The coun­try becomes healthy only after get­ting rid of both oli­garchs and their pup­pets. Some of them are impris­oned or flee the coun­try; their prop­er­ty is con­fis­cat­ed with­out any regard to legal­i­ty. Lat­er, Zelen­sky-the-pres­i­dent will do the same towards his polit­i­cal rivals.

    Inter­est­ing­ly, the show ignores the theme of the Don­bass war, which erupt­ed in 2014, a year before the series start­ed being broad­cast. As the Maid­an and Rus­sia-Ukraine rela­tions are very divi­sive issues in Ukrain­ian soci­ety, Zelen­sky ignored them so as not to jeop­ar­dize the uni­ty of his vir­tu­al nation, his view­ers, and ulti­mate­ly his vot­ers.

    ...

    What about for­eign inter­ests invest­ed in Ukraine’s neolib­er­al­iza­tion, car­ried out in the name of the Ukrain­ian peo­ple? [T]hey are diverse, but behind the land reform, which I have been ana­lyz­ing care­ful­ly, there were finan­cial lob­bies in the West. West­ern pen­sion funds and invest­ment funds want­ed to invest mon­ey that was depre­ci­at­ing. Look­ing for assets to invest in, they enlist­ed sup­port of the IMF, the World Bank, EBRD, and var­i­ous lob­by­ing groups to pro­mote their inter­ests and lay out all nec­es­sary ground­work. This has noth­ing to do with the inter­ests of Ukraini­ans, of course.

    ...

    After his pop­u­lar sup­port plum­met­ed in 2021, Zelen­sky launched the uncon­sti­tu­tion­al process of extra­ju­di­cial sanc­tions against his polit­i­cal oppo­nents, imposed by Nation­al Secu­ri­ty and Defense Coun­cil (NSDC). These sanc­tions involved the extra­ju­di­cial seizure of prop­er­ty with­out any evi­dence of ille­gal activ­i­ties of the rel­e­vant indi­vid­u­als and legal enti­ties. Among the first to be sanc­tioned by the NSDC were two par­lia­men­tary deputies from the Oppo­si­tion Plat­form “For Life” (OPZZh)—Victor Medved­chuk (lat­er arrest­ed and shown on TV with his face beat­en up after inter­ro­ga­tion) and Taras Kozak (man­aged to escape from Ukraine), as well as mem­bers of their fam­i­lies. This hap­pened in Feb­ru­ary 2021; in March 2022, 11 oppo­si­tion­al par­ties were banned. The deci­sions to ban oppo­si­tion­al par­ties and sanc­tion oppo­si­tion­al lead­ers were tak­en by NSDC; they were put into effect by pres­i­den­tial decrees.

    ...

    Zelen­sky him­self has nev­er expressed far-right views. In his series “Ser­vant of the Peo­ple,” which was used as an unof­fi­cial elec­tion plat­form, Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists are por­trayed neg­a­tive­ly: they appear as noth­ing else but stu­pid oli­garchs’ mar­i­onettes. As a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Zelen­sky crit­i­cized the lan­guage law signed by his pre­de­ces­sor Poroshenko, which made the knowl­edge of Ukrain­ian lan­guage a manda­to­ry require­ment for civ­il ser­vants, sol­diers, doc­tors, and teach­ers. “We must ini­ti­ate and adopt laws and deci­sions that con­sol­i­date soci­ety, and not vice ver­sa,” Zelen­sky-the-can­di­date claimed in 2019.

    How­ev­er, after assum­ing the pres­i­den­tial office, Zelen­sky turned to the nation­al­is­tic agen­da of his pre­de­ces­sor. On May 19, 2021, his gov­ern­ment approved an action plan for the pro­mo­tion of the Ukrain­ian lan­guage in all spheres of pub­lic life strict­ly in line with Poroshenko’s lan­guage law, to the delight of nation­al­ists and dis­may of Rus­so­phones. Zelen­sky has done noth­ing to pros­e­cute rad­i­cals for all their crimes against polit­i­cal oppo­nents and the peo­ple of Don­bass. The sym­bol of Zelensky’s right-wing trans­for­ma­tion was his endorse­ment by nation­al­ist Medvedko—one of those accused of mur­der­ing Buzina—who pub­licly approved Zelensky’s ban of Russ­ian-lan­guage oppo­si­tion­al chan­nels in 2021.

    The ques­tion is why? Why did Zelen­sky make a U‑turn to nation­al­ism despite people’s hopes that he would pur­sue the pol­i­tics of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion? As many analy­sists believe, this is because rad­i­cals, although rep­re­sent­ing the minor­i­ty of the Ukrain­ian pop­u­la­tion, do not hes­i­tate to use force against politi­cians, courts, law enforce­ment agen­cies, media work­ers, and so forth—in oth­er words, they are sim­ply good at intim­i­dat­ing soci­ety, includ­ing all the branch­es of pow­er. Pro­pa­gan­dists may repeat the mantra “Zelen­sky is a Jew, so he can­not be a Nazi” as often as they want, but the truth is that rad­i­cals con­trol the polit­i­cal process in Ukraine through vio­lence against those who dare con­front their nation­al­is­tic and suprema­cist agen­das. The case of Ana­toliy Shariy — one of the most pop­u­lar blog­gers in Ukraine liv­ing in exile—is a good exam­ple to illus­trate this point. Not only does he, along with his fam­i­ly mem­bers, per­ma­nent­ly receive death threats, rad­i­cals con­stant­ly intim­i­date the activists of his par­ty (banned by Zelen­sky in March 2022), beat­ing and humil­i­at­ing them. This is what Ukrain­ian rad­i­cals call “polit­i­cal safari.”
    ...

    But as Baysha also describes, it’s not like there has ever been a wide­ly held gen­er­al pub­lic sen­ti­ment in Ukraine in terms of how the coun­try needs to reform itself, in large part because the Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism that has been ele­vat­ed as the offi­cial nation­al cul­ture since 2014 simul­ta­ne­ous­ly views the eth­nic Russ­ian half of the pop­u­la­tion as unciv­i­lized bar­bar­ians. It under­scores how the tragedy of the Russ­ian inva­sion of Ukraine includes the trag­ic real­i­ty that the eth­nic Russ­ian pop­u­la­tion of Ukraine has been attack sym­bol­i­cal­ly by its own gov­ern­ment and soci­ety for years now and is now being phys­i­cal­ly destroyed in this con­flict. What does that fore­tell in terms of the ongo­ing rad­i­cal­iza­tion of Ukrain­ian soci­ety in the East­ern half of the coun­try? What forms of extrem­ism can take root in this kind of envi­ron­ment?

    ...
    This is anoth­er trag­ic aspect of this war. The Maid­an rev­o­lu­tion of 2014, which many peo­ple in the south­east did not sup­port, trans­formed these peo­ple into “slaves,” “sov­ki” and “vatniki”—derogatory terms to denote their back­ward­ness and bar­barism. This is how Maid­an rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies, who con­sid­ered them­selves the pro­gres­sive force of his­to­ry, saw anti-Maid­an “oth­ers” because of their adher­ence to Russ­ian lan­guage and cul­ture. Nev­er ever could this pro-Russ­ian pop­u­la­tion imag­ine Rus­sia to shell their cities and ruin their lives. The tragedy of these peo­ple is twofold: first, their world was ruined sym­bol­i­cal­ly by the Maid­an, now, it is being destroyed phys­i­cal­ly by Rus­sia.

    The out­comes of these devel­op­ments are unclear so far as it is unclear how the war will end. If the south­east­ern regions remain in Ukraine, the ruina­tion of every­thing resist­ing aggres­sive nation­al­ism will most like­ly be com­plet­ed. This will be prob­a­bly the end of this unique bor­der­line cul­ture that has nev­er want­ed to be either com­plete­ly Ukrainized or Rus­si­fied. If Rus­sia estab­lish­es con­trol over these regions, as it boasts now, I can hard­ly pre­dict how it will be deal­ing with mass resentment—at least, in the cities that are dam­aged sig­nif­i­cant­ly, as in Kharkov.

    ...

    What about the sense of supe­ri­or­i­ty among those Ukraini­ans who iden­ti­fy them­selves with West­ern­ers rather than with Rus­sians?

    This is true, and, as for me, this is the most trag­ic part of the whole post-Maid­an sto­ry, because it is exact­ly this sense of supe­ri­or­i­ty that pre­vent­ed the “pro­gres­sive” pro-Maid­an forces from find­ing com­mon lan­guage with their “back­ward” pro-Russ­ian com­pa­tri­ots. This led to the Don­bass upris­ing, the “anti-ter­ror­ist oper­a­tion” of the Ukrain­ian army against Don­bass, Russia’s inter­ven­tion, Min­sk peace agree­ments, their non-ful­fill­ment, and, final­ly, the cur­rent war.
    ...

    Final­ly, as Baysha reminds us, this sense of betray­al is deeply inter­twined with the hopes Ukraini­ans have had for a bet­ter life through an embrace of the the West for decades, going back to the 90s. And those hope have been con­sis­tent­ly betrayed the entire time. Instead of a bet­ter life, Ukraini­ans embraced West­ern ‘reforms’ and got the aus­ter­i­ty night­mare of the 90s that cre­at­ed the oli­garchy cur­rent run­ning the coun­try. So when Zelen­sky sud­den­ly imposed a new wave of West­ern-backed neolib­er­al reforms short­ly after being elect­ed, it’s not like Ukraini­ans had to wait and see if the reforms were going to make their lives bet­ter. They’ve been down this awful road before:

    ...
    In the social milieus [in which] I lived — the east of Ukraine, Crimea, and Kiev — there were very few peo­ple con­cerned with the issue of eth­nic iden­ti­ty. I do not in vain empha­size “my social milieus.” Ukraine is a com­plex and divid­ed coun­try with its far east and far west hold­ing dia­met­ri­cal­ly dif­fer­ent views on all social­ly sig­nif­i­cant issues. Since the dec­la­ra­tion of Ukraine’s inde­pen­dence in 1991, two ideas of nation­al iden­ti­ty have been com­pet­ing in Ukraine: “eth­nic Ukrain­ian” ver­sus “east­ern Slav­ic.” The eth­nic Ukrain­ian nation­al idea, based on the notion that Ukrain­ian cul­ture, lan­guage, and eth­nic­i­ty-cen­tered his­to­ry should be the dom­i­nant inte­grat­ing forces in the Ukrain­ian nation-state, has been much more pop­u­lar in the west of Ukraine. The east­ern Slav­ic idea, which envis­ages the Ukrain­ian nation as found­ed on two pri­ma­ry eth­nic groups, lan­guages, and cul­tures — Ukrain­ian and Russ­ian — has been accept­ed as nor­mal in the Ukrain­ian south­east. How­ev­er, in gen­er­al, I can agree that most Ukraini­ans are much more con­cerned with eco­nom­ic issues, which has always been the case.

    As a mat­ter of fact, Ukraine’s inde­pen­dence of 1991 was to a big extent also a mat­ter of eco­nom­ic con­cerns. Many Ukraini­ans sup­port­ed the idea of polit­i­cal divorce from Rus­sia because of an expec­ta­tion that Ukraine would be bet­ter off eco­nom­i­cal­ly — this is what pro­pa­gan­dis­tic leaflets promised us. This eco­nom­ic hope was not real­ized. In many ways, the col­lapse of the Sovi­et Union rad­i­cal­ly changed people’s lives for the worse because of Ukraine’s neolib­er­al­iza­tion — the mar­ke­ti­za­tion of the social sphere and ruina­tion of the Sovi­et wel­fare state.

    What about neolib­er­al reforms ini­ti­at­ed by Zelen­sky? You can judge on their pop­u­lar­i­ty by opin­ion polls – up to 72% of Ukraini­ans did not sup­port his land reform, the flag­ship of Zelensky’s neolib­er­al pro­gram. After his par­ty approved it despite people’s indig­na­tion, Zelensky’s rat­ing fell from 73 per­cent in Spring 2019 to 23 per­cent in Jan­u­ary 2022. The rea­son is sim­ple: a deep sense of betray­al. In his unof­fi­cial elec­tion plat­form — the show “Ser­vant of the Peo­ple” — Zelesnky-Holoborod­ko [Holoborod­ko was Zelensky’s char­ac­ter in the tele­vi­sion show – NB] promised that if he could rule the coun­try for just one week, he would “make the teacher live as the pres­i­dent, and the pres­i­dent live as the teacher.” To put it mild­ly, this promise was not ful­filled. Peo­ple real­ized that they were duped once again—the reforms have been car­ried out in the inter­ests of not Ukraini­ans but glob­al cap­i­tal.
    ...

    How will Ukraini­ans respond to unyield­ing calls from its West­ern ‘part­ners’ for one aus­ter­i­ty ‘reform’ after anoth­er? We’ll find out. It’s easy to imag­ine the anti-EU allure of the far right becom­ing even more allur­ing for West­ern Ukraini­ans. It’s a lot hard­er to imag­ine how the eth­nic Rus­sians of Ukraine are going to react. But it’s pret­ty obvi­ous that Ukraini­ans across the polit­i­cal and demo­graph­ic divides are unit­ed by a strong desire not to reex­pe­ri­ence the kind of ‘reforms’ that only seem to ben­e­fit for­eign investors. And yet that ‘reform’ agen­da is the Zelen­sky agen­da. Or at least it was before the war and it’s hard hard to see why that won’t be the exact same agen­da after the war as Ukraine is even more ful­ly invest­ed in its West­ward shift. The same agen­da, but pre­sum­ably with a lot more aus­ter­i­ty giv­en how much weak­er Ukraine’s econ­o­my is now. And that’s why one of the biggest ques­tions loom­ing over the future of Ukraine and this con­flict is the ques­tion of how the pop­u­la­tion is going to respond when a dev­as­tat­ed Ukraine final­ly wins the con­flict thanks to unprece­dent­ed mil­i­tary help from the West, ‘offi­cial’ joins the ‘club’ of West­ern nations, and is sud­den­ly asked to endure more aus­ter­i­ty than ever before, indef­i­nite­ly, to return the favor.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 2, 2022, 4:29 pm
  4. Here’s a set of arti­cles relat­ed to both the events in Ukraine but also how the events in Ukraine are report­ed on and the con­se­quences for the report­ing. Con­se­quences that appear to include get­ting cut off from ser­vices like Pay­Pal for devi­at­ing too much from the offi­cial nar­ra­tives about what’s hap­pen­ing in Ukraine and why. At least that’s what just hap­pened to Con­sor­tium News, which received noti­fi­ca­tion this week that it was per­ma­nent­ly cut off from Pay­Pal. On what grounds? Well, Pay­Pal could­n’t say. Their rep­re­sen­ta­tive just told Con­sor­tium News that there was a the “poten­tial risk” detect­ed but that it was “not exact­ly spec­i­fied by the back office.” The agent said, “It has some­thing to do with the his­to­ry of this account.” And that’s it. That’s the basis for cut­ting Con­sor­tium News off of Pay­Pal’s ser­vices per­ma­nent­ly.

    It’s worth recall­ing at this point that Pay­Pal’s for­mer own­er — and still a major share­hold­er — is none oth­er than eBay founder Pierre Omid­yar, a fig­ure with deep ties to the US Nation­al Secu­ri­ty state. Was cut­ting off Con­sor­tium News thanks, in part, to Omid­yar wear­ing his ‘spy’ hat? We don’t know, but the fact that Pay­Pal is cut­ting off media out­lets with a his­to­ry of chal­lenge the nation­al secu­ri­ty state’s nar­ra­tives on a range of top­ics and can’t even cite a rea­son for this cut­off cer­tain­ly sug­gests the rea­sons are ones Pay­Pal does­n’t want to pub­licly admit.

    At the same time, it’s hard to shake the feel­ing that the bla­tant nature of this action against Con­sor­tium News was done pre­cise­ly to send a mes­sage to oth­er out­lets. It’s part of what made it seem like such a sleazy move.

    The next two arti­cles cov­er the kind of sto­ry that prob­a­bly got Con­sor­tium News in trou­ble in the first place. The 8‑year anniver­sary of the Odessa mas­sacre just hap­pened. This would be the burn­ing down of the labor union build­ing where eth­nic Russ­ian pro­tes­tors were burnt alive in an arson attack by far right groups asso­ci­at­ed with Right Sec­tor. In years past, observers have showed up on May 2 at the Odessa labor union build­ing to mourn the vic­tims, only to be once again attacked by far right pro­tes­tors in full view of the police who do noth­ing. The Odessa author­i­ties have appar­ent­ly decid­ed this would be a bad year to allow a repeat. A city-wide cur­few was announced for May 1–3 and no one is allowed to leave their homes dur­ing this peri­od.

    As Con­sor­tium News reports, not only has that attack nev­er been ade­quate inves­ti­gat­ed but the there’s lit­er­al­ly video show­ing the far right pro­tes­tors set­ting fire to the build­ing. It’s an open cov­er up. The kind of open cov­er up that is all the more sen­si­tive now that Ukraine is plead­ing for glob­al assis­tance.

    We can then con­trast that Con­sor­tium News report on the cur­few with a report by NBC News that more or less regur­gi­tates the Odessa author­i­ties’ expla­na­tion for the cur­few. So why did they announce the cur­few, accord­ing to that report? To pre­vent Russ­ian sabo­teurs. Yep. It does­n’t sounds like there’s any evi­dence of spe­cif­ic plots. Just a gen­er­al sense that Russ­ian sabo­teurs might hit the city on May 2. Hence a three day city-wide cur­few. There is, of course, no men­tion at all about the far right’s role in car­ry­ing out the attack or the annu­al attacks on the observers mourn­ing the vic­tims.

    We have to ask: if Con­sor­tium News’s was the kind of out­let that basi­cal­ly just par­rot­ed the Ukrain­ian author­i­ties, would it have had its Pay­Pal ser­vices cut off? The answer is obvi­ous, even if Pay­Pal refus­es to give it

    Con­sor­tium News

    Pay­Pal Can­cels CN Account; May Seize Bal­ance

    May 1, 2022

    The online pay­ment sys­tem gave no warn­ing or rea­son why Con­sor­tium News‘ account has been “per­ma­nent­ly lim­it­ed.” Pay­Pal indi­cat­ed that only if “applic­a­ble” will the bal­ance be returned.

    By Joe Lau­ria
    Spe­cial to Con­sor­tium News

    Pay­Pal has can­celed Con­sor­tium News‘ account with­out any pri­or notice or due process and with vir­tu­al­ly no expla­na­tion.

    As Con­sor­tium News is today launch­ing its Spring Fund Dri­ve, it has lost one of its most impor­tant ways for its view­ers and read­ers to show their sup­port through dona­tions. Click­ing on the yel­low Pay­Pal donate but­ton on our home page now yields this mes­sage:
    [see image]

    Pay­Pal has sent an email to CN that says:

    “you can’t use pay­pal any­more. … we noticed activ­i­ty in your account that’s incon­sis­tent with our user agree­ment and we no longer offer you pay­pal ser­vices. … because of poten­tial risk expo­sure, we’ve per­ma­nent­ly lim­it­ed your account. you’ll no longer be able to use the account for any trans­ac­tions.”

    ...

    No Pri­or Notice or Expla­na­tion

    There was no pri­or notice sent nor was Con­sor­tium News afford­ed any due process. A Pay­Pal cus­tomer ser­vice agent con­firmed in a tele­phone call on Sun­day that the “back office” gave no spe­cif­ic rea­son for “per­ma­nent­ly lim­it­ing” CN‘s account oth­er than that an “inves­ti­ga­tion and review” of CN‘s “his­to­ry found some poten­tial risk asso­ci­at­ed with this account.”

    She said the “poten­tial risk” from CN is “not exact­ly spec­i­fied by the back office.” The agent said, “It has some­thing to do with the his­to­ry of this account.” Asked whether any agency, gov­ern­ment or pri­vate, or any indi­vid­ual had com­plained to Pay­Pal about CN, the cus­tomer ser­vice agent replied, “I don’t see any exist­ing case.”

    The agent could not explain why Con­sor­tium News was giv­en no notice or any due process, but promised to ask the “back office” to con­tact CN to explain.

    Regard­ing the $9,348.14 bal­ance in CN‘s Pay­Pal account, the agent said that after a 180-day review Pay­Pal would decide whether to return it. “If there was a vio­la­tion,” she said “it is pos­si­ble” the mon­ey could be kept as “dam­ages” to Pay­Pal. Vio­la­tions under the Restrict­ed Activ­i­ties of the User Agree­ment include pro­vid­ing “false, inac­cu­rate or mis­lead­ing infor­ma­tion” to Pay­Pal, oth­er Pay­Pal cus­tomers “or third par­ties.”

    Giv­en the cur­rent polit­i­cal cli­mate it is more than con­ceiv­able that Pay­Pal is react­ing to Con­sor­tium News’ cov­er­age of the war in Ukraine, which is not in line with the dom­i­nant nar­ra­tive that is being increas­ing­ly enforced. Last week Pay­Pal also froze the account of the alter­na­tive news site Mint­Press­News.

    Pay­Pal was sued in Cal­i­for­nia in Jan­u­ary in a class action for sim­i­lar­ly shut­ting down accounts.

    ———-

    “Pay­Pal Can­cels CN Account; May Seize Bal­ance” by Joe Lau­ria; Con­sor­tium News; 05/01/2022

    “There was no pri­or notice sent nor was Con­sor­tium News afford­ed any due process. A Pay­Pal cus­tomer ser­vice agent con­firmed in a tele­phone call on Sun­day that the “back office” gave no spe­cif­ic rea­son for “per­ma­nent­ly lim­it­ing” CN‘s account oth­er than that an “inves­ti­ga­tion and review” of CN‘s “his­to­ry found some poten­tial risk asso­ci­at­ed with this account.” ”

    No pri­or notice or warn­ings at all. Just a sud­den per­ma­nent ban issued right in the mid­dle of Con­sor­tium News’s fundrais­ing dri­ve.

    But it’s not just that this action was done with­out warn­ing. Pay­Pal could­n’t even give a rea­son or cite a com­plaint. Yet, Con­sor­tium News was just per­ma­nent­ly banned from Pay­Pal for no rea­son. Or at least not a rea­son they’re will­ing to admit:

    ...
    She said the “poten­tial risk” from CN is “not exact­ly spec­i­fied by the back office.” The agent said, “It has some­thing to do with the his­to­ry of this account.” Asked whether any agency, gov­ern­ment or pri­vate, or any indi­vid­ual had com­plained to Pay­Pal about CN, the cus­tomer ser­vice agent replied, “I don’t see any exist­ing case.”

    The agent could not explain why Con­sor­tium News was giv­en no notice or any due process, but promised to ask the “back office” to con­tact CN to explain.
    ...

    But Pay­Pal did­n’t just cut off access to its ser­vice for no rea­son. It also threat­ened to keep Con­sor­tium News’s $9,348.14 left in its bal­ance:

    ...
    Regard­ing the $9,348.14 bal­ance in CN‘s Pay­Pal account, the agent said that after a 180-day review Pay­Pal would decide whether to return it. “If there was a vio­la­tion,” she said “it is pos­si­ble” the mon­ey could be kept as “dam­ages” to Pay­Pal. Vio­la­tions under the Restrict­ed Activ­i­ties of the User Agree­ment include pro­vid­ing “false, inac­cu­rate or mis­lead­ing infor­ma­tion” to Pay­Pal, oth­er Pay­Pal cus­tomers “or third par­ties.”
    ...

    The com­pa­ny obvi­ous­ly does­n’t like the kind of con­tent Con­sor­tium News is gen­er­at­ing. And yet, true to form, it can’t actu­al­ly point out the prob­lem­at­ic dan­ger­ous con­tent. It would be easy to cite one exam­ple after anoth­er if Con­sor­tium News was just pump­ing out fake news with no basis behind its report­ing. But we’re not get­ting a litany of vio­la­tions. Instead, we’re get­ting non-answers from Pay­Pal when direct­ly pressed for any expla­na­tion at all. It’s a big clue as to what is going on here. When Pay­Pal announced last month that it was cut­ting off access to Rus­sia, the com­pa­ny appar­ent­ly had much big­ger plans in mind. Media out­lets that devi­ate from the offi­cial nar­ra­tives around the Russ­ian inva­sion of Ukraine get cut­off too.

    On one lev­el it’s more or less what we should prob­a­bly have expect­ed from Pay­Pal. After all, while Pierre Omid­yar may not be the largest share­hold­er in the com­pa­ny after Pay­Pal was spun out from eBay, Omid­yar still holds a sub­stan­tial stake. It’s not hard to imag­ine Omid­yar play­ing the role of Pay­Pal’s Nation­al Secu­ri­ty State rep­re­sen­ta­tive. Still, when the behav­ior or major cor­po­ra­tions gets this bla­tant­ly shady tar­get­ing enti­ties that are sim­ply report­ing unpop­u­lar news, it rais­es the ques­tion of what exact­ly has Con­sor­tium News been report­ing that would trig­ger this kind of response. So here’s an exam­ple of a Con­sor­tium News piece that prob­a­bly piss­es off a lot of Omid­yar’s friend’s in the CIA and State Depart­ment: today is the final day for a cur­few imposed on the city of Odessa from May 1–3. May 2 just hap­pens to be the 8 year anniver­sary of the Odessa Trade House mas­sacre. And as Ukrain­ian left­ists groups point out to Con­sor­tium News in the fol­low­ing report, May 2 has becom­ing an impor­tant day in Odessa. Every year, peo­ple come to the site of the mas­sacre to com­mem­o­rate the vic­tims and every year far right groups come out to beat up those peo­ple while the police stand by and allow it. Odessa author­i­ties have decid­ed those events can’t hap­pen this year, pre­sum­ably due to the height­ened con­cerns over anoth­er far right mas­sacre, and those con­cerns are so high that they’re impos­ing a cur­few on the entire city for three days. Try to find report­ing on this cur­few in the west­ern press. There’s almost noth­ing on it and the report­ing we can find por­trays the entire cur­few as nec­es­sary to stop Russ­ian sabo­teurs. Yep. If you’re a west­ern media out, the mes­sage is clear: if you write sto­ries about how Ukrain­ian author­i­ties con­tin­ue to cov­er for the far right there will be con­se­quences:

    Con­sor­tium News

    Cur­few for Anniver­sary of Odessa Mas­sacre That Sparked Rebel­lion

    April 30, 2022

    Odessa has imposed a two-day cur­few on the anniver­sary of the burn­ing alive of anti-Maid­an pro­tes­tors on May 2, 2014, reports Joe Lau­ria.

    By Joe Lau­ria
    Spe­cial to Con­sor­tium News

    Author­i­ties in the Ukrain­ian port city of Odessa have set a 24-hour cur­few from May 1–3 to pre­vent protests com­mem­o­rat­ing the burn­ing alive on May 2, 2014 of 48 peo­ple who had reject­ed the U.S.-backed coup in Kiev ear­li­er that year.

    The city, which is “(under the con­trol of Ukrain­ian troops) announced the intro­duc­tion of a ‘cur­few’ in the city from 22–00 on May 1 to 5–00 on May 3. For the dura­tion of the ‘cur­few’ Odessans are not allowed to leave their homes,” said the group Repres­sion of the Left and Dis­senters in Ukraine in a Telegram post. “Obvi­ous­ly, this deci­sion of the author­i­ties is due to the fact that May 2 is a very impor­tant date for the inhab­i­tants of Odessa.”

    On that day eight years ago hooli­gans and far-right groups delib­er­ate­ly set fire to a labor union build­ing where pro­tes­tors against the coup had tak­en refuge. Police did not inter­vene. Video footage shows at least one police offi­cer and oth­ers fir­ing their guns into the build­ing. The crowd is cheer­ing as many of the peo­ple trapped inside jumped to their deaths.

    The events of that day “have not yet been inves­ti­gat­ed by law enforce­ment agen­cies of Ukraine,” the group said. Pleas at the time from the Unit­ed Nations and the Euro­pean Union for Ukraine to inves­ti­gate were ignored. Three Ukrain­ian local gov­ern­ment probes were stymied by the with­hold­ing of secret doc­u­ments.

    A report on the inci­dent from the Euro­pean Coun­cil (EC) at the time makes clear it did not con­duct its own inves­ti­ga­tion but relied on local probes, espe­cial­ly by the Verk­hov­na Rada’s Tem­po­rary Inves­ti­ga­tion Com­mis­sion. The EC com­plains in its reports that it too was barred from view­ing clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion. Rely­ing on the local inquiries, the EC reports that pro-Russ­ian, or pro-fed­er­al­ist, pro­tes­tors attacked a pro-uni­ty march in the after­noon, prompt­ing street bat­tles. Then:

    “At around 6.50 p.m. pro-fed­er­al­ists broke down the door [of the trade union build­ing] and brought inside var­i­ous mate­ri­als, includ­ing box­es con­tain­ing Molo­tov cock­tails and the prod­ucts need­ed to make them. Using wood­en pal­lets which had sup­port­ed tents in the square, they blocked the entrances to the build­ing from the inside and erect­ed bar­ri­cades. When they arrived at the square at around 7.20 p.m., the pro-uni­ty pro­test­ers destroyed and set fire to the tents of the Anti-Maid­an camp. The remain­ing pro-fed­er­al­ism pro­test­ers entered the Trade Union Build­ing, from where they exchanged shots and Molo­tov cock­tails with their oppo­nents out­side. …

    At about 7.45 p.m. a fire broke out in the Trade Union Build­ing. Foren­sic exam­i­na­tions sub­se­quent­ly indi­cat­ed that the fire had start­ed in five places, name­ly the lob­by, on the stair­cas­es to the left and right of the build­ing between the ground and first floors, in a room on the first floor and on the land­ing between the sec­ond and third floors. Oth­er than the fire in the lob­by, the fires could only have been start­ed by the acts of those inside the build­ing. The foren­sic reports did not find any evi­dence to sug­gest that the fire had been pre­planned. The closed doors and the chim­ney effect caused by the stair­well result­ed in the fire’s rapid spread to the upper floors and a fast and extreme rise in the tem­per­a­ture inside the build­ing.”

    The local inves­ti­ga­tion thus blamed the anti-Maid­an pro­tes­tors for start­ing the fire through­out the build­ing. But this video, which shows events on that day lead­ing to the fire, depicts the main blaze in the lob­by. It shows Right Sec­tor extrem­ists lob­bing Molo­tov cock­tails into the build­ing and a police­man fir­ing his gun at it. It does not show any cock­tails thrown from the build­ing. It doesn’t show clash­es ear­li­er in the day, though one pro-uni­ty pro­tes­tor says they were attacked at Cathe­dral Square and they’ve come to burn the anti-Maid­an pro­tes­tors in the build­ing for revenge:

    [see video]

    The New York Times buried the first news of the mas­sacre in a May 2, 2014 sto­ry, say­ing “dozens of peo­ple died in a fire relat­ed to clash­es that broke out between pro­test­ers hold­ing a march for Ukrain­ian uni­ty and pro-Russ­ian activists.” York Times buried the first news of the mas­sacre in a May 2, 2014 sto­ry, say­ing “dozens of peo­ple died in a fire relat­ed to clash­es that broke out between pro­test­ers hold­ing a march for Ukrain­ian uni­ty and pro-Russ­ian activists.”

    The Times then pub­lished a video report that said dozens were killed in a fire, “and oth­ers were shot dead when fight­ing between pro- and anti-Russ­ian groups broke out on the streets of Odessa.” The video nar­ra­tor says “crowds did their best to save lives.” It quotes Ukrain­ian police say­ing a “pro-Kiev march was ambushed … petrol bombs were thrown” and gun bat­tles erupt­ed on the streets.

    The late Robert Par­ry, who found­ed Con­sor­tium News, report­ed on Aug. 10, 2014:

    “The bru­tal­i­ty of these neo-Nazis sur­faced again on May 2 when right-wing toughs in Odessa attacked an encamp­ment of eth­nic Russ­ian pro­test­ers dri­ving them into a trade union build­ing which was then set on fire with Molo­tov cock­tails. As the build­ing was engulfed in flames, some peo­ple who tried to flee were chased and beat­en, while those trapped inside heard the Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists liken them to black-and-red-striped pota­to bee­tles called Col­orados, because those col­ors are used in pro-Russ­ian rib­bons.

    ‘Burn, Col­orado, burn’ went the chant.

    As the fire wors­ened, those dying inside were ser­e­nad­ed with the taunt­ing singing of the Ukrain­ian nation­al anthem. The build­ing also was spray-paint­ed with Swasti­ka-like sym­bols and graf­fi­ti read­ing ‘Gali­cian SS,’ a ref­er­ence to the Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist army that fought along­side the Ger­man Nazi SS in World War II, killing Rus­sians on the east­ern front.”

    “Every year on May 2, res­i­dents of Odessa come to the House of Trade Unions, where the tragedy occurred, to hon­or the mem­o­ry of the vic­tims,” the Ukrain­ian left­ist group said. “But also every year on this day they are attacked by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of ultra-right groups with the inac­tion of the police.”

    “This year,” the group said, “the author­i­ties decid­ed to pre­vent any gath­er­ing on May 2nd. Every­one who leaves their home on May 2 will be detained under the terms of the ‘cur­few.’”

    Sparked Don­bass Rebel­lion

    “This event became the trig­ger for the upris­ing in the Don­bass,” Repres­sion of the Left and Dis­senters in Ukraine said. Eight days after the Odessa mas­sacre, coup resisters in the far east­ern provinces of Donet­sk and Lugan­sk, bor­der­ing on Rus­sia, vot­ed in a ref­er­en­dum to become inde­pen­dent from Ukraine.

    The U.S.-backed coup gov­ern­ment then launched a mil­i­tary attack against the break­away provinces, which con­tin­ued for near­ly eight years, killing thou­sands of peo­ple before prompt­ing Russ­ian inter­ven­tion in the civ­il con­flict. Rus­sia says it has proof that the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary, which had amassed 60,000 of its troops at the line of con­tact, were on the verge of an offen­sive to retake the provinces. OSCE maps showed a dra­mat­ic increase of shelling from the gov­ern­ment side into the rebel areas in the last week of Feb­ru­ary.

    On Feb. 24 Rus­sia invad­ed Ukraine with the stat­ed pur­pose of “de-Naz­i­fy­ing” and “de-mil­i­ta­riz­ing” Ukraine to pro­tect Russ­ian-speak­ers and the peo­ple of Don­bass. In a tele­vised address three days before the inva­sion, Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin men­tioned the events of May 2, 2014 in Odessa.

    “One shud­ders at the mem­o­ries of the ter­ri­ble tragedy in Odessa, where peace­ful pro­test­ers were bru­tal­ly mur­dered, burned alive in the House of Trade Unions,” he said. “The crim­i­nals who com­mit­ted that atroc­i­ty have nev­er been pun­ished, and no one is even look­ing for them. But we know their names and we will do every­thing to pun­ish them, find them and bring them to jus­tice.”

    ...

    ———-

    “Cur­few for Anniver­sary of Odessa Mas­sacre That Sparked Rebel­lion” by Joe Lau­ria; Con­sor­tium News; 04/30/2022

    “The city, which is “(under the con­trol of Ukrain­ian troops) announced the intro­duc­tion of a ‘cur­few’ in the city from 22–00 on May 1 to 5–00 on May 3. For the dura­tion of the ‘cur­few’ Odessans are not allowed to leave their homes,” said the group Repres­sion of the Left and Dis­senters in Ukraine in a Telegram post. “Obvi­ous­ly, this deci­sion of the author­i­ties is due to the fact that May 2 is a very impor­tant date for the inhab­i­tants of Odessa.”

    It’s not a mys­tery. The cur­few that just hap­pens to over­lap with the May 2 anniver­sary of the Odessa attacks was obvi­ous­ly imposed to avoid a repeat of what has become an annu­al rit­u­al in Odessa: Every year on May 2, res­i­dents of Odessa come to the House of Trade Unions to hon­or the mem­o­ry of the vic­tims of that attack. And ever year, far right groups attack them as the police stand by:

    ...
    A report on the inci­dent from the Euro­pean Coun­cil (EC) at the time makes clear it did not con­duct its own inves­ti­ga­tion but relied on local probes, espe­cial­ly by the Verk­hov­na Rada’s Tem­po­rary Inves­ti­ga­tion Com­mis­sion. The EC com­plains in its reports that it too was barred from view­ing clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion. Rely­ing on the local inquiries, the EC reports that pro-Russ­ian, or pro-fed­er­al­ist, pro­tes­tors attacked a pro-uni­ty march in the after­noon, prompt­ing street bat­tles. Then:

    “At around 6.50 p.m. pro-fed­er­al­ists broke down the door [of the trade union build­ing] and brought inside var­i­ous mate­ri­als, includ­ing box­es con­tain­ing Molo­tov cock­tails and the prod­ucts need­ed to make them. Using wood­en pal­lets which had sup­port­ed tents in the square, they blocked the entrances to the build­ing from the inside and erect­ed bar­ri­cades. When they arrived at the square at around 7.20 p.m., the pro-uni­ty pro­test­ers destroyed and set fire to the tents of the Anti-Maid­an camp. The remain­ing pro-fed­er­al­ism pro­test­ers entered the Trade Union Build­ing, from where they exchanged shots and Molo­tov cock­tails with their oppo­nents out­side. …

    At about 7.45 p.m. a fire broke out in the Trade Union Build­ing. Foren­sic exam­i­na­tions sub­se­quent­ly indi­cat­ed that the fire had start­ed in five places, name­ly the lob­by, on the stair­cas­es to the left and right of the build­ing between the ground and first floors, in a room on the first floor and on the land­ing between the sec­ond and third floors. Oth­er than the fire in the lob­by, the fires could only have been start­ed by the acts of those inside the build­ing. The foren­sic reports did not find any evi­dence to sug­gest that the fire had been pre­planned. The closed doors and the chim­ney effect caused by the stair­well result­ed in the fire’s rapid spread to the upper floors and a fast and extreme rise in the tem­per­a­ture inside the build­ing.”

    The local inves­ti­ga­tion thus blamed the anti-Maid­an pro­tes­tors for start­ing the fire through­out the build­ing. But this video, which shows events on that day lead­ing to the fire, depicts the main blaze in the lob­by. It shows Right Sec­tor extrem­ists lob­bing Molo­tov cock­tails into the build­ing and a police­man fir­ing his gun at it. It does not show any cock­tails thrown from the build­ing. It doesn’t show clash­es ear­li­er in the day, though one pro-uni­ty pro­tes­tor says they were attacked at Cathe­dral Square and they’ve come to burn the anti-Maid­an pro­tes­tors in the build­ing for revenge:

    [see video]

    ...

    “Every year on May 2, res­i­dents of Odessa come to the House of Trade Unions, where the tragedy occurred, to hon­or the mem­o­ry of the vic­tims,” the Ukrain­ian left­ist group said. “But also every year on this day they are attacked by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of ultra-right groups with the inac­tion of the police.”

    “This year,” the group said, “the author­i­ties decid­ed to pre­vent any gath­er­ing on May 2nd. Every­one who leaves their home on May 2 will be detained under the terms of the ‘cur­few.’”
    ...

    But not this year. The annu­al far right attacks on observers of the Odessa mas­sacre was­n’t allowed to hap­pen. Why? Well, accord­ing to the fol­low­ing NBC New report, the Odessa author­i­ties ordered the cur­few due to con­cerns about Russ­ian sabo­teurs. Yep, that’s the rea­sons the entire city was put under cur­few. Russ­ian sabo­teurs. They can’t actu­al­ly cite spe­cif­ic threats, but they’re pret­ty sure Russ­ian sabo­teurs are get­ting ready to wreck hav­oc and there­fore declare the cur­few:

    NBC News

    Ode­sa locks down over fears of Putin’s sabo­teurs on painful anniver­sary
    Mon­day marks the anniver­sary of a dead­ly clash between pro-Russ­ian and pro-Euro­pean activists in the city that killed 48 peo­ple and injured dozens more in 2014.

    May 2, 2022, 10:33 AM CDT / Updat­ed May 3, 2022, 6:05 AM CDT
    By Phil McCaus­land

    ODESA, Ukraine — Only tense-look­ing sol­diers were allowed to leave their homes in Ode­sa on Mon­day, with the silence on the streets almost audi­ble in this city known for its vibran­cy.

    The first week of May typ­i­cal­ly brings tourists, bar­be­cues and bloom­ing flow­ers to Ode­sa, an inter­na­tion­al jew­el of cul­ture and com­merce on the Black Sea. This year, how­ev­er, it brought a day­long cur­few as author­i­ties feared the poten­tial pres­ence of Russ­ian agents aimed at dis­cord and destruc­tion.

    Mon­day marks the anniver­sary of a dead­ly clash between pro-Russ­ian and pro-Euro­pean activists in the city in 2014 that killed 48 peo­ple and injured dozens more. This year, fac­ing a war as well as the mem­o­ry of a trag­ic inci­dent often men­tioned by Moscow, many wor­ried they would have to fend off Krem­lin-backed sabo­teurs and Russ­ian rock­ets — rather than insis­tent tourists.

    Many believed Ode­sa, a key city in Ukraine’s south­west, would be a tar­get for Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s inva­sion. While Russ­ian forces have failed to pose a real threat, city lead­ers are nonethe­less wary.

    Ode­sa May­or Genadiy Trukhanov, sport­ing a navy blue track jack­et and New Bal­ance sneak­ers on Sun­day, declined to share any spe­cif­ic infor­ma­tion about the threat of sabo­teurs, but he said the cur­few was nec­es­sary “to ful­ly con­trol the city” and “ham­per the activ­i­ties of any sabo­teur-recon­nais­sance groups.”

    “We do under­stand that dur­ing the wartime, the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion may deploy their spe­cial agents and sabo­teur-recon­nais­sance groups, and pre­sum­ably there are already such peo­ple here, who were recruit­ed by Rus­sia — we can­not deny such pos­si­bil­i­ty,” Trukhanov said from inside his grand Ode­sa office that boast­ed crys­tal chan­de­liers, a plaque con­tain­ing St. Michael’s prayer and a large wall-hang­ing of the port city’s sym­bol, an anchor.

    “All such actions are like­ly coor­di­nat­ed, hence we will mon­i­tor and inves­ti­gate.”

    NBC News observed that secu­ri­ty had tight­ened through­out the city. The announced arrests of alleged Russ­ian prox­ies, a mis­sile strike on a key bridge near­by and the loud explo­sion of what Ukraine’s mil­i­tary said was a Russ­ian drone shot down by defense forces appeared to show author­i­ties had rea­son for con­cern.

    Anoth­er mis­sile strike report­ed­ly hit a mil­i­tary air­field Mon­day evening. While NBC News heard the explo­sion, it has not ver­i­fied the loca­tion.

    This comes days after a mis­sile strike on Odesa’s air­port and the recent arrests of oth­ers accused of plan­ning civ­il unrest in the city. It’s also only been one week since an attack on an apart­ment build­ing killed eight peo­ple, includ­ing a moth­er and her new­born.

    Odesa’s blur­ry iden­ti­ty, appear­ing to be stuck at times between Moscow and Kyiv, has long served as a painful point of con­tention, experts said.

    Vladislav David­zon, a fel­low at the Atlantic Coun­cil and author of “From Ode­sa With Love,” said the Bohemi­an city with a large Russ­ian-speak­ing pop­u­la­tion was key to Putin’s hope to rebuild the Russ­ian empire.

    “They’d made a deci­sion to destroy Mar­i­upol, but they real­ly want Ode­sa in one piece because it’s real­ly impor­tant to them psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly,” David­zon said in a hotel bar the night before he and his Ode­san father-in-law left Ukraine. “It’s a big piece of their nar­ra­tive and a jew­el in their crown.”

    The imme­di­ate threat of a Russ­ian naval land­ing seems to have passed, with Moscow’s forces unable to advance toward the city on the ground and its Black Sea fleet hit by the sink­ing of its flag­ship last month.

    But while many here cel­e­brat­ed the sink­ing of the Mosk­va and said it made them feel able to take a breath, the Russ­ian military’s stat­ed inten­tion of sweep­ing across Ukraine’s south to Moldo­va, where Russ­ian prox­ies are grow­ing ten­sions in Transnis­tria, has brought back a famil­iar anx­i­ety.

    That slate of con­di­tions caused some res­i­dents to see Mon­day as a day that could lead to a del­uge of attacks. Those who could, left the city for their dachas in sur­round­ing vil­lages just in case.

    “It def­i­nite­ly makes mil­i­tary sense to have a coor­di­nat­ed attack using both the rock­ets and per­haps the sabo­teur groups that could be oper­at­ing in the city to cause provo­ca­tion,”

    Trukhanov said Sun­day. “That’s why the city is brac­ing for a hybrid attack.”

    ...

    Oleg Kon­stan­ti­nov, the edi­tor of Ode­sa-based media com­pa­ny Dum­skaya, cov­ered the riot that day. While work­ing on the Russ­ian side of the clash, Kon­stan­ti­nov recalled how the sky was dark­ened by stones that the two sides threw at each oth­er and how the police faced off against the pro-Euro­pean group.

    “Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da still use May 2 all the time, and they try to fan the flames of hate and make it grow big­ger and big­ger by using the sym­bol of the fire,” said Kon­stan­ti­nov, who was shot in the leg, hand and back by an uniden­ti­fied per­son while cov­er­ing the riot.

    The clash­es in Ode­sa came in the wake of nation­wide upheaval as the coun­try con­tend­ed with whether to tie itself clos­er to Moscow or the West.

    The pro-West­ern Maid­an Rev­o­lu­tion drove the country’s Krem­lin-backed pres­i­dent, Vik­tor Yanukovych, out of office. He even­tu­al­ly fled to Rus­sia, which soon annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Penin­su­la and backed the sep­a­ratists in the east while foment­ing unrest else­where in the coun­try.

    That includ­ed Ode­sa, where author­i­ties and res­i­dents feared a repeat eight years on as Putin seeks to reverse that shift toward the West once and for all. As the world watch­es the bat­tle­fields in Donet­sk, Luhan­sk and the greater Don­bas region, many Ode­sa res­i­dents see a cause for relief — and a cau­tion­ary tale.

    “In Ukraine, in Ode­sa, on this day,” Kon­stan­ti­nov added, “we remind our­selves what could have hap­pened if things went dif­fer­ent­ly on May 2.”

    ———-

    “Ode­sa locks down over fears of Putin’s sabo­teurs on painful anniver­sary” By Phil McCaus­land; NBC News; 05/02/2022

    “The first week of May typ­i­cal­ly brings tourists, bar­be­cues and bloom­ing flow­ers to Ode­sa, an inter­na­tion­al jew­el of cul­ture and com­merce on the Black Sea. This year, how­ev­er, it brought a day­long cur­few as author­i­ties feared the poten­tial pres­ence of Russ­ian agents aimed at dis­cord and destruc­tion.”

    The cur­few was­n’t imposed to avoid a repeat of the annu­al May 2 far right beat down of the observers of the Odessa mas­sacre. Nope, it was done to pre­vent Russ­ian dis­cord and destruc­tion. That’s the offi­cial Ukrain­ian nar­ra­tive around this deci­sion:

    ...
    Mon­day marks the anniver­sary of a dead­ly clash between pro-Russ­ian and pro-Euro­pean activists in the city in 2014 that killed 48 peo­ple and injured dozens more. This year, fac­ing a war as well as the mem­o­ry of a trag­ic inci­dent often men­tioned by Moscow, many wor­ried they would have to fend off Krem­lin-backed sabo­teurs and Russ­ian rock­ets — rather than insis­tent tourists.

    Many believed Ode­sa, a key city in Ukraine’s south­west, would be a tar­get for Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s inva­sion. While Russ­ian forces have failed to pose a real threat, city lead­ers are nonethe­less wary.

    Ode­sa May­or Genadiy Trukhanov, sport­ing a navy blue track jack­et and New Bal­ance sneak­ers on Sun­day, declined to share any spe­cif­ic infor­ma­tion about the threat of sabo­teurs, but he said the cur­few was nec­es­sary “to ful­ly con­trol the city” and “ham­per the activ­i­ties of any sabo­teur-recon­nais­sance groups.”
    ...

    What kind of impact is the Pay­Pal cut­off ulti­mate­ly going to have on Con­sor­tium News? We’ll see. It’s obvi­ous­ly vul­ner­a­ble to finan­cial dis­tress. But whether or not this ends up being a crip­pling blow for the out, the mes­sage Pay­Pal sent is clear: if you’re oper­at­ing a small media out­let that’s depen­dent on online dona­tions to func­tion, there are lines you can­not cross. Unwrit­ten lines, yes. But they’re pret­ty easy to see. Just look at all the sto­ries and angles no one is cov­er­ing, and be sure to also not cov­er them. Do that and the spig­ot stays on.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 3, 2022, 4:54 pm
  5. Sto­ries about civil­ian deaths as a result of Russ­ian attacks on Ukrain­ian cities have been a reg­u­lar occur­rence since the out­break of the war in Ukraine. Less com­mon have been the reports point­ing out how those civil­ian deaths have been adja­cent to what appear to be legit­i­mate mil­i­tary tar­gets posi­tioned next to the civil­ians, the mis­sile attack next to a mall in Kre­menchuk. But we just got a major update on that top­ic: Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al just issued a report crit­i­ciz­ing the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment specif­i­cal­ly for posi­tion­ing mil­i­tary units in civil­ian areas.

    The report unsur­pris­ing­ly was met with angry denials by the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment, which insists that any civil­ian deaths are sole­ly the fault of Rus­sia. Inter­est­ing­ly, this assess­ment is shared by the Ukraine office of Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al, which report­ed­ly tried to block the report. We are told he report was made entire­ly with the input of for­eign observers and no input from the Ukraine office.

    The head of the Ukraine office, Oksana Pokalchuk, end­ed up quit­ting in protest the next day while insist­ing that the report was being used as “Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da”. Inter­est­ing­ly, it turns out that Pokalchuk was unable to avoid the ire of the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment despite her protests. The Myrotvorets web­site had already cre­at­ed a “black­list” page tar­get Pokalchuk. So we have to ask: how much of Pokalchuk’s vocif­er­ous oppo­si­tion to this report was dri­ven by a gen­uine dis­agree­ment on the report’s con­tent vs fear of being black­list­ed by her gov­ern­ment and made into an ‘offi­cial ene­my’ of Ukraine?

    It’s also worth not­ing that we aren’t explic­it­ly told that it was Myrotvorets that black­list­ed Pokalchuk in the fol­low­ing NPR arti­cle. Instead, the arti­cle describes it as fol­lows:

    ...
    A clue to that self-cen­sor­ship may lie in how Ukrain­ian pub­lic sen­ti­ment has coa­lesced against any crit­i­cism of the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary. Even despite Pokalchuk’s efforts to shut down the report, a Ukrain­ian web­site noto­ri­ous for leak­ing the per­son­al infor­ma­tion of Ukraine’s alleged “ene­mies” list­ed her as a “par­tic­i­pant in acts of human­i­tar­i­an aggres­sion in Ukraine” and “guilty of deny­ing Ukraine’s right to defend itself.” One of the web­site’s founders is a high-rank­ing offi­cial in Ukraine’s for­eign min­istry who man­ages rela­tion­ships with for­eign jour­nal­ists.
    ...

    For what­ev­er rea­son, this report refused to men­tion Anton Gerashenko by name or his role in cre­at­ing Myrotvorets to intim­i­date jour­nal­ists. Instead, he’s sim­ply described as that of “a high-rank­ing offi­cial in Ukraine’s for­eign min­istry who man­ages rela­tion­ships with for­eign jour­nal­ists”. In oth­er words, this NPR arti­cle effec­tive­ly self-cen­sored any direct men­tion of Myrotvorets and the gov­ern­ment offi­cials behind it. It’s the kind of obser­va­tion that under­scores the kind of per­son­al threats Pokalchuk was prob­a­bly expe­ri­enc­ing, direct­ly or indi­rect­ly, as a con­se­quence of this Amnesty report:

    Nation­al Pub­lic Radio

    Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al’s report crit­i­ciz­ing Ukraine is divid­ing the rights group

    Julian Hay­da
    Updat­ed August 5, 2022 10:21 AM ET

    Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al issued a report on Thurs­day accus­ing the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary of sta­tion­ing its troops and artillery near hos­pi­tals, schools and res­i­den­tial build­ings in ways that may amount to war crimes. The inter­na­tion­al human rights orga­ni­za­tion says it spent two months in Ukraine inter­view­ing locals and col­lect­ing phys­i­cal evi­dence to com­pile the report.

    “Viable alter­na­tives were avail­able that would not endan­ger civil­ians – such as mil­i­tary bases or dense­ly wood­ed areas near­by, or oth­er struc­tures fur­ther away from res­i­den­tial areas,” the report states.

    The report got harsh push­back from Ukrain­ian offi­cials and civ­il soci­ety lead­ers. Per­haps the most sur­pris­ing crit­i­cism came from Amnesty’s very own Ukraine oper­a­tion.

    “We did every­thing we could to pre­vent this report from going pub­lic,” wrote Oksana Pokalchuk, Amnesty Ukraine’s leader on Face­book. She and her team claim that there are sev­er­al dis­crep­an­cies in the report, which was com­piled by for­eign observers, with­out any assis­tance from local staff.

    Respond­ing to ques­tions about Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al’s find­ings, Ukraine’s deputy Defense Min­is­ter, Han­na Maliar, said that Ukraine “reg­u­lar­ly con­ducts evac­u­a­tions of civil­ians from con­flict areas.” Thou­sands can’t or won’t flee some of the towns along the front.

    But Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al says that Ukrain­ian troops shel­ter along­side civil­ians far from active con­flict zones, and that Russ­ian rock­et strikes on Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary posi­tions have left sev­er­al near­by civil­ians dead.

    Donatel­la Rovera, the report’s author, says that sit­u­a­tions like these arise on all sides of any war, and that it’s up to Ukraini­ans to address the con­cerns as soon as pos­si­ble.

    “I think the lev­el of self-cen­sor­ship on this issue has been pret­ty extra­or­di­nary,” said Rovera.

    A clue to that self-cen­sor­ship may lie in how Ukrain­ian pub­lic sen­ti­ment has coa­lesced against any crit­i­cism of the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary. Even despite Pokalchuk’s efforts to shut down the report, a Ukrain­ian web­site noto­ri­ous for leak­ing the per­son­al infor­ma­tion of Ukraine’s alleged “ene­mies” list­ed her as a “par­tic­i­pant in acts of human­i­tar­i­an aggres­sion in Ukraine” and “guilty of deny­ing Ukraine’s right to defend itself.” One of the web­site’s founders is a high-rank­ing offi­cial in Ukraine’s for­eign min­istry who man­ages rela­tion­ships with for­eign jour­nal­ists.

    Like Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al, NPR’s jour­nal­ists also have wit­nessed some evi­dence of mil­i­tary pres­ence near bombed civil­ian areas.

    Ukrain­ian offi­cials have claimed that their defen­sive pos­ture against Rus­sia jus­ti­fies all tac­tics used so far, and that the report unfair­ly impli­cates Ukraine in war crimes. One top advis­er to Ukraine’s pres­i­dent even accused the human rights group of being Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­dists fos­ter­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion.

    “Please stop cre­at­ing a false real­i­ty where every­body is equal­ly to blame [for the war]” said Dmytro Kule­ba, Ukraine’s for­eign min­is­ter, in a video broad­cast on tele­vi­sion. He joined a cho­rus of oth­ers in say­ing that for­eign observers should blame only Rus­sia for any threats against civil­ians.

    “Every sin­gle mem­ber of Amnesty’s Ukraine office knows that only the russ­ian fed­er­a­tion [cap­i­tal­iza­tion-sic] bears respon­si­bil­i­ty for the crime of aggres­sion against Ukraine, not the least of which because sev­er­al of our col­leagues had to leave every­thing behind to save them­selves and their fam­i­lies,” reads Amnesty Ukraine’s state­ment.

    Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al has pro­duced dozens of reports about Russ­ian war crimes. Rovera said she per­son­al­ly inves­ti­gat­ed when hun­dreds of tor­tured bod­ies turned up in sub­ur­ban Kyiv after Rus­sia retreat­ed from the area.

    ...

    The report notes that reports of Rus­si­a’s use of ille­gal weapons in civil­ian areas — includ­ing clus­ter muni­tions and anti-per­son­nel land­mines — should give Ukraine even more rea­son to keep its troops far away from civil­ians.

    Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al gave the Ukrain­ian Defense Min­istry six days to respond to spe­cif­ic evi­dence about Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary pres­ence in civil­ian areas. The rights group’s Ukraine office says that was­n’t enough time.

    Rovera says that she under­stands Ukraini­ans are, in many ways, out­gunned and out­matched, but that the cred­i­bil­i­ty of Ukraini­an’s moral high ground requires a total adher­ence to inter­na­tion­al law — even if it puts its mil­i­tary at a tac­ti­cal dis­ad­van­tage.

    As for Amnesty Ukraine, Pokalchuk writes, “we will con­tin­ue to fight in every way we can, no mat­ter the cost. My office and I believe in human rights, we believe in Ukraine’s vic­to­ry, and we believe that every per­son guilty of war crimes will be brought to Jus­tice.”

    ———–

    “Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al’s report crit­i­ciz­ing Ukraine is divid­ing the rights group” by Julian Hay­da; Nation­al Pub­lic Radio; 08/05/2022

    “Like Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al, NPR’s jour­nal­ists also have wit­nessed some evi­dence of mil­i­tary pres­ence near bombed civil­ian areas.”

    Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al’s report is mere­ly rehash­ing what has become increas­ing­ly clear in one sto­ry of civil­ian deaths after anoth­er. Even NPR is adding its own obser­va­tions ver­i­fy­ing the find­ing: these civil­ian deaths are being fueled by a deci­sion to have a mil­i­tary pres­ence in civil­ian areas. It’s the kind of report that should trig­ger a review of a num­ber of sto­ries of civil­ian deaths in this con­flict.

    Remark­ably, it sounds like the report was made with­out any input from the Ukraine office of Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al. Instead, that office did every­thing it could to block its release. It’s the kind of intra-agency con­flict that sug­gests the reports we’ve been get­ting out of the Ukraine office of Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al has been white­washed garbage:

    ...
    “We did every­thing we could to pre­vent this report from going pub­lic,” wrote Oksana Pokalchuk, Amnesty Ukraine’s leader on Face­book. She and her team claim that there are sev­er­al dis­crep­an­cies in the report, which was com­piled by for­eign observers, with­out any assis­tance from local staff.

    Respond­ing to ques­tions about Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al’s find­ings, Ukraine’s deputy Defense Min­is­ter, Han­na Maliar, said that Ukraine “reg­u­lar­ly con­ducts evac­u­a­tions of civil­ians from con­flict areas.” Thou­sands can’t or won’t flee some of the towns along the front.

    But Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al says that Ukrain­ian troops shel­ter along­side civil­ians far from active con­flict zones, and that Russ­ian rock­et strikes on Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary posi­tions have left sev­er­al near­by civil­ians dead.

    ...

    As for Amnesty Ukraine, Pokalchuk writes, “we will con­tin­ue to fight in every way we can, no mat­ter the cost. My office and I believe in human rights, we believe in Ukraine’s vic­to­ry, and we believe that every per­son guilty of war crimes will be brought to Jus­tice.”
    ...

    But per­haps the most notable aspect of this sto­ry is the appar­ent open gov­ern­ment intim­i­da­tion and cen­sor­ship on dis­play here. As the author the report, Donatel­la Rovera, describes it, “I think the lev­el of self-cen­sor­ship on this issue has been pret­ty extra­or­di­nary.” And yet we have to ask, is the appar­ent self-cen­sor­ship of the head of the Ukraine office Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al, Oksana Pokalchuk, dri­ven at all by the fact that she was her­self attacked by the gov­ern­ment-run Myrotvorets “black­list” web­site? Pokalchuk’s life was placed in imme­di­ate dan­ger the moment Myrotvorets put that page up. Might that have some­thing to do with Pokalchuk’s vocif­er­ous denials of the reports’ find­ings? Also note that we aren’t even told the name of the Nyrotvorets web­site in this NPR report. It’s mere­ly described as ‘a Ukrain­ian web­site noto­ri­ous for leak­ing the per­son­al infor­ma­tion of Ukraine’s alleged “ene­mies” list­ed her as a “par­tic­i­pant in acts of human­i­tar­i­an aggres­sion in Ukraine” and “guilty of deny­ing Ukraine’s right to defend itself.“ ’ So the name of Myrotvorets was effec­tive­ly self-cen­sored out of the part this NPR report describ­ing Rover­a’s obser­va­tion on self-cen­sor­ship in Ukraine. Take a moment and digest that:

    ...
    Donatel­la Rovera, the report’s author, says that sit­u­a­tions like these arise on all sides of any war, and that it’s up to Ukraini­ans to address the con­cerns as soon as pos­si­ble.

    “I think the lev­el of self-cen­sor­ship on this issue has been pret­ty extra­or­di­nary,” said Rovera.

    A clue to that self-cen­sor­ship may lie in how Ukrain­ian pub­lic sen­ti­ment has coa­lesced against any crit­i­cism of the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary. Even despite Pokalchuk’s efforts to shut down the report, a Ukrain­ian web­site noto­ri­ous for leak­ing the per­son­al infor­ma­tion of Ukraine’s alleged “ene­mies” list­ed her as a “par­tic­i­pant in acts of human­i­tar­i­an aggres­sion in Ukraine” and “guilty of deny­ing Ukraine’s right to defend itself.” One of the web­site’s founders is a high-rank­ing offi­cial in Ukraine’s for­eign min­istry who man­ages rela­tion­ships with for­eign jour­nal­ists.
    ...

    So how is the Ukraine office Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al going to han­dle its cov­er­age of the con­flict going for­ward now that there’s been a major split with its inter­na­tion­al par­ent orga­ni­za­tion? We’ll see, but what­ev­er the Ukraine office does it won’t be under the lead­er­ship of Pokalchuk, as we learned the day after this report was released:

    USA TODAY

    Ukraine: Head of Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al chap­ter quits; Rus­sia begins attack on east­ern Ukraine cities

    Ella Lee
    Pub­lished 9:40 am ET Aug. 6, 2022 | Updat­ed 12;19 pm ET Aug. 6, 2022

    The head of Ukraine’s Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al chap­ter quit Fri­day after the human rights orga­ni­za­tion released a report claim­ing Ukrain­ian forces put civil­ians in har­m’s way by bas­ing them­selves in pop­u­lat­ed areas.

    In a Face­book post Fri­day night, Oksana Pokalchuk accused Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al of fail­ing to rec­og­nize the real­i­ties of war in Ukraine and ignor­ing the advice of staff mem­bers, who urged the group to revise its report.

    “It is painful to admit, but I and the lead­er­ship of Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al have split over val­ues,” Pokalchuk wrote. “I believe that any work done for the good of soci­ety should take into account the local con­text, and think through con­se­quences.”

    ...

    “We have doc­u­ment­ed a pat­tern of Ukrain­ian forces putting civil­ians at risk and vio­lat­ing the laws of war when they oper­ate in pop­u­lat­ed areas,” Agnès Calla­mard, Amnesty International’s sec­re­tary gen­er­al, said in the report. “Being in a defen­sive posi­tion does not exempt the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary from respect­ing inter­na­tion­al human­i­tar­i­an law.”

    Pokalchuk claimed that because Ukraine’s Defense Min­istry was not giv­en ade­quate time to respond to the find­ings, the report became a “tool of Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da.” Russ­ian forces have defend­ed attacks in civil­ian areas by sug­gest­ing that Ukrain­ian fight­ers set up fir­ing posi­tions at the tar­get­ed loca­tions.

    ———-

    “Ukraine: Head of Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al chap­ter quits; Rus­sia begins attack on east­ern Ukraine cities” by Ella Lee; USA TODAY; 08/06/2022

    ““It is painful to admit, but I and the lead­er­ship of Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al have split over val­ues,” Pokalchuk wrote. “I believe that any work done for the good of soci­ety should take into account the local con­text, and think through con­se­quences.””

    A split over val­ues. That’s Pokalchuk’s stat­ed basis for quit­ting the group. What is unstat­ed is the threats she’s been inevitably receiv­ing as a con­se­quence of her Myrotvorets gov­ern­ment black­list­ing. We’ll see if quit­ting the group gets Pokalchuk removed from the black­list.

    So is Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al going to be allowed to con­tin­ue oper­at­ing in Ukraine? We’ll see. It’s on the ene­mies list now, so at a min­i­mum the Amnesty work­ers still oper­at­ing in Ukraine should prob­a­bly be watch­ing for any new Myotvorets black­list­ings of Amnesty’s employ­ees. And also be on a the look­out for any mil­i­tary instal­la­tions that sud­den­ly pop up next to their offices and res­i­dences.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 6, 2022, 3:55 pm

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