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Merkel, Hollande push for Ukraine sanctions

Europe
Merkel, Hollande push for Ukraine sanctions
sanction1

Paris and Berlin have agreed on possible sanctions after at least 25 people died in violent clashes in Kyiv. The EU is preparing to push through emergency measures following the bloodshed on Tuesday.
Merkel und Hollande PK 19.02.2014 Paris

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande called for targeted sanctions against Ukraine’s leadership at a joint press conference in Paris on Wednesday.

The two said the measures were part of an approach to promote a compromise leading to constitutional reform and elections.

“What is happening in Ukraine is unspeakable, unacceptable, intolerable,” said Hollande.

Merkel also said sanctions against Ukraine’s leadership would show the EU was serious in pressing for a political solution. She told waiting reporters that they were talking to all sides in the crisis, including Russia.

Meanwhile, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron called on Kyiv to pull back security forces surrounding protesters in the capital.

In a statement released by Downing Street on Wednesday, Cameron said “I am deeply concerned by the scenes we are witnessing in Ukraine.”

“President [Viktor] Yanukovich should be under no doubt that the world is watching his actions and that those responsible for violence will be held accountable,” Cameron continued.

In a further development on Wednesday evening, the president replaced the chief of Ukraine’s armed forces.

The move was announced in a presidential decree and came as the acting defense minister said the army could take part in a nationwide anti-terrorist operation to restore order.

Foreign ministers head to Ukraine

Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will be joined by his French and Polish counterparts in Kyiv on Thursday.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius confirmed they would go to Ukraine ahead of talks in Brussels.

“With my Polish and German colleagues we have decided to go to Kyiv tomorrow morning … to gather the latest information before the meeting in Brussels,” Fabius said alongside US Secretary of State John Kerry, who was on an official trip to Paris.

Kerry also said the US was working closely with the EU on the Ukraine crisis.

“We are talking about the possibility of sanctions or other steps with our friends in Europe and elsewhere in order to try to create the environment for compromise,” he said.

Emergency EU talks

Speaking from Brussels, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy confirmed that “our ministers in the Foreign Affairs Council will at their meeting tomorrow (Thursday) examine targeted measures, such as financial sanctions and visa restrictions against those responsible for violence and use of excessive force.”

EU diplomats are reported to be already in the process of drafting sanctions against those behind fresh violence and continued use of excessive force in Ukraine.

Last week, Europe’s foreign ministers promised they would “respond quickly to any deterioration on the ground,” but the implementation of sanctions needs the unanimous backing of all 28 member states.

President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso said, “It was with shock and utter dismay that we have been watching developments over the last 24 hours in Ukraine.”

“There are no circumstances that can legitimize or justify such scenes,” he added.

Barroso echoed the international community’s reaction to the deaths of at least 25 people, including nine police officers, in violent clashes on Independence Square – also known as Maidan – in Kyiv on Tuesday. Hundreds were reported to have been injured.

Meanwhile, the European Investment Bank (EIB) said it had frozen its activities in Ukraine due to the recent violence.

Three months of unrest

In November, initial peaceful protests were held in Kyiv after Yanukovych rejected an EU deal in favor of strengthening ties with Russia.

In mid-December, the president had struck a multi-billion dollar bailout agreement with Moscow to a backdrop of increasing unrest.

By then, a reported 300,000 people had joined the demonstrations in the capital – police brutality and use of excessive force became the main media focus in the biggest rallies since the Orange revolution in 2004.

lw/dr (dpa, Reuters, AP)

Europe its time to act. Will the duo of Merkel and Hollande stand-up to Putin. Europe show your resolve for freedom and democracy -SANCTIONS NOW!

Blood and Berkut Sniper Bullets on the President’s Hands

Blood and Berkut Sniper Bullets on the President’s Hands
18.02.14 | Halya Coynash

Two of those whom the authorities call "extremists"

Two of those whom the authorities call “extremists”


The first reports that Berkut riot police were positioned on roofs and aiming rubber bullets and grenades at protesters came early on Tuesday. They almost certainly preceded the later disturbances and the two women who received wounds were very clearly peaceful protesters.

This soon changed, and the conflict became ugly. As of 1 a.m. on Wednesday, at least 20 people are reported dead and the centre of Kyiv is burning.

It is those later images that have been published in the world media and that have prompted European and North Atlantic countries to issue statements condemning the violence and calling for “both sides” to renounce force and sit down at the negotiating table. Ukrainian oligarchs have also grabbed the opportunity and called for “an end to violence”.

Some western commentators are refreshingly blunt. David Kramer from Freedom House has stated that “legitimate democratic leaders do not order riot police to attack protesters asking for a more open government, Yanukovych has forfeited his legitimacy and needs to step down”.

The following are just a few of the day’s events that strip any regime of its legitimacy. More will become clearer over the coming days and weeks. Time however is not on Ukrainians’ side now that the president, Viktor Yanukovych, doubtless buoyed – or bound – by yesterday’s 2 billion loan from Russia has chosen bloodshed.

The reports from Tuesday morning showed ordinary protesters preparing for a march on parliament. The pro-presidential Party of the Regions was blocking attempts to even table a draft law proposing changes to the Constitution. Berkut riot police blocked the streets to prevent the protesters even approaching parliament. Judging by those early reports, and confirmed by photos, Berkut snipers began shooting (then only rubber bullets) and hurling grenades very early on.

This is indeed not the behaviour of a legitimate democratic government, but there is more. There have been reports from morning of large number of titushki or hired thugs in the centre. They were seen provoking conflict, looting and some reports suggest that they may have shot at Berkut officers. There is also a video clip which appears to show a protester injured, perhaps killed, by fire from titushki.

Can such reports be treated as standard attempts to blame the other side for any escalation? There is ample evidence of such use of titushki over recent months, as was noted by the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner during his visit to Ukraine. The assertion by the police that 7 officers have been shot and killed seems at least strange since none of the western or Ukrainian media reports speak of protesters using firearms.

The government has tried to present the protesters as “extremists”, and has called the use of force to clear the EuroMaidan demonstrators on Maidan Nezalezhnosti “an anti-terrorist” action. Despite the violence and the number of deaths, the numbers on Maidan have not abated. Some thirty thousand people simply by virtue of their numbers can hardly be called “terrorists”. They do not fit the description in any other way either. Through the evening, they have been singing the Ukrainian national anthem, taking part in public prayer and listening to addresses, including one from Mustafa Jemilev, veteran defender of the rights of the Crimean Tatars and Soviet political prisoner, who expressed pride in his fellow Ukrainians.

These “terrorists” are being treated, when injured, by a medical service made up solely of volunteers, some of whom have themselves come under attack. The EuroMaidan Civic Sector reports that with Berkut setting protesters’ tents and some buildings on fire, the medical unit has been forced to move to the Myhailivsky [St Michael’s] Cathedral. A large number of people have been detained, with lawyers not allowed to see those held at 5 police stations

During meetings with EU and Council of Europe representatives at the end of January, EuroMaidan and human rights activists spoke of credible rumours that a crackdown would be attempted after the middle of February. The timing was linked with the fact that the Sochi Olympics would then be drawing to an end, and Russia would not need to fear any boycott of its games. Over the weekend that danger seemed to have abated with Maidan and opposition negotiators showing readiness to comply with the notorious “hostage law” by vacating government buildings, clearing part of the road, etc, in order to get the charges against a huge number of protesters waived.

The announcement on Monday that Yanukovych had agreed another loan of 2 billion from Russia led to considerable speculation as to what the agreement had entailed.

Tuesday began with Ukrainians of different ages, professions, ethnic origin and faiths endeavouring to present demands which are legitimate in any democratic country. The descent into violence and bloodshed is indeed a cause of deep concern. It is surely time, however, for that concern to be translated into action by those who hold democratic values dear.

khpg.org/index.php?id=1392772605

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,

The power, and the glory,

For ever and ever.

Amen.

We need a Marshall Plan to fix Ukraine

UKRAINE_DANIEL BILAK
We need a Marshall Plan to fix Ukraine

DANIEL BILAK

Contributed to The Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, Feb. 13 2014, 10:07 AM EST

The turmoil in Ukraine, now in its third month, will be not be resolved without robust intervention on the part of its key western partners, the European Union, the United States and Canada
. The crisis began when Ukrainians swept into the streets to protest President Yanukovych’s abrupt refusal to sign an association agreement with the European Union. Explaining that Ukraine was bankrupt and required an immediate cash injection that the EU was unprepared to provide, the president gratefully accepted a $15-billion bailout from an obliging President Vladimir Putin of Russia.

While the protests have morphed into a countrywide revolt against cronyism and corruption, a political resolution is currently deadlocked, while Ukraine’s beleaguered currency remains in freefall and its bankrupted economy faces imminent collapse. A bellicose Mr. Putin is using the unfolding drama to suborn Ukraine economically and politically, in much the same way that Stalin attempted to leverage the devastation in Europe to advance communism after the Second World War.

These circumstances pose a clear geo-strategic choice to the EU, U.S. and Canada: can the West afford a poor, politically unstable, autocratic, economically derelict nation of 46 million potential refugees on Europe’s eastern border tethered to a poor, but aggressive Russia; or is it in the West’s collective interests to embrace a prosperous, democratically confident and economically stable Ukraine firmly integrated into Europe?

Indeed, as pithily explained by geo-strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski, the ultimate prize for the West is not even a stable Ukraine, but a democratic Russia; a peaceful, prosperous European Ukraine destroys Mr. Putin’s residual imperial ambitions and provides Russia with an opportunity to eventually transform into a democratic, responsible and peaceful partner, sharing common values.

This outcome requires the development of a comprehensive assistance plan for Ukraine modelled on the post-war European Recovery Program, better known as the Marshall Plan. In 1948, facing the dual threats of Soviet expansionism and the total collapse of Europe’s economies, the United States pumped $15-billion (roughly $148-billion in today’s terms) into modernizing and integrating Europe’s economies. This far-sighted strategic decision resulted in the total political reconstruction of Western Europe, leading to decades of unprecedented growth and prosperity on the continent.

The recovery plan for Ukraine (let’s call it the Ukraine Recovery Program, or URP) should take this same bold, strategic approach. It should be based on the following framework: in return for starting to implement pre-agreed structural reforms (and only then), a new reform-oriented Ukrainian government demonstrably committed to (and capable of) implementing reforms should be offered a substantial three-to-four-year aid package that 1) facilitates the democratic transformation of Ukraine’s governing institutions; 2) stimulates the modernization and competitiveness of the Ukrainian economy; and 3) by offsetting the adverse socio-economic consequences of Russian economic retaliation, provides a social cohesion cushion in three key sectors: energy, state-owned enterprises, and the pension system. Social cohesion assistance in the following areas would cost between $21-25-billion, comprised of stand-by money to be used to backstop the plan agreed with the government to modernize the economy.

Moreover, a detailed outline of the URP, beyond vague promises, should be announced immediately. The impact of the EU, U.S. and Canada demonstrating their willingness to stand behind Ukraine with a massive program of assistance will help break the political logjam and provide a framework for the outcome of the current negotiations. It will 1) reassure Ukrainians of the West’s seriousness in helping Ukraine integrate into Europe; 2) build support among Ukrainians for a European future; 3) assuage the fears, stoked by the governing party and Russia, among Ukrainians (especially in the densely populated and heavily industrialized eastern part of Ukraine) of losing their jobs and pensions during the integration process; and 4) undermine the specious arguments that Ukraine’s only hope of economic salvation lies with Russia.

With this plan the West reaffirms its position as an honest broker to the current dispute, as the URP would be politically neutral and addresses the concerns of all sides.

Notwithstanding the hobbling economic problems in the West, the URP is worth the investment; the cost of containing the long-term fallout from economic collapse in Ukraine will be significantly higher. For the West, Ukraine is too big to fail. Moldova and Georgia may also lay claims for massive assistance, but their own viability as independent states may depend on whether or not Ukraine falls back into Russia’s orbit. Only Ukraine has the heft to block Russia’s imperial aspirations.

Ultimately, the URP will reassure the Ukrainian people that they can enter through Europe’s “open door” not as paupers, but as proud partners.

Finally, the EU, backed by the U.S. and Canada, should take the long overdue, and now obvious step of explicitly promising to open talks with Ukraine on EU accession following implementation of the reforms.

Ukrainians have shown the world that they are prepared to die for the values behind the original Marshall Plan – they have certainly earned the right to be integrated back into Europe.

Daniel Bilak is an international lawyer based in Kiev and a former UNDP senior governance advisor to the government of Ukraine.

www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/we-need-a-marshall-plan-to-fix-ukraine/article16849121/

It is important for the Western World to act decisively and support the evolution of a prosperous, democratically confident and economically stable Ukraine firmly integrated into Europe!

I Am a Ukrainian

The people demand change.

They recognize that something is wrong in their country

Media Overblowing Extreme Right’s Role in Ukraine’s #Euromaidan Protests

> Media Overblowing Extreme Right’s Role in Ukraine’s #Euromaidan Protests

Posted 9 February 2014 23:40 GMT

Euromaidan protesters sing songs as they warm by the fire barrels near the barricades on Hrushevskoho Street in Kiev, Ukraine on 2 February, 2014. Copyright Demotix

Euromaidan protesters sing songs as they warm by the fire barrels near the barricades on Hrushevskoho Street in Kiev, Ukraine on 2 February, 2014. Copyright Demotix

This post is part of our Special Coverage Ukraine’s #Euromaidan Protests.

A group of domestic and international scholars of Ukrainian nationalism have warned that an increasing number of media reports are misrepresenting the role of Ukraine’s far right within the anti-government protest movement Euromaidan.

Ukraine has been rocked by the massive demonstrations for more than two months now, with thousands of Ukrainians from all over the country maintaining a camp in the capital Kyiv and many others joining on weeknights and weekends. The movement began as peaceful, but the short-lived passage of laws limiting the right to protest sparked violent clashes between demonstrators and police.

The movement is highly diverse, with Euromaidan protesters representing a wide range of ages, income, education and abilities.

The scholars’ assessment was part of a collective statement released on change.org titled “On the role of far-right groups in Ukraine’s protest movement, and a warning about the Russian imperialism-serving effects of some supposedly anti-fascist media reports from Kyiv”. To counter these misconceptions of protesters’ political affiliations, they stated:

Both the violent and non-violent resistance in Kyiv includes representatives from all political camps as well as non-ideological persons who may have problems locating themselves politically. Not only the peaceful protesters, but also those using sticks, stones and even Molotov Cocktails, in their physical confrontation with police special units and government-directed thugs, constitute a broad movement that is not centralized. Most protesters only turned violent in response to increasing police ferocity and the radicalization of Yanukovych’s regime. The demonstrators include liberals and conservatives, socialists and libertarians, nationalists and cosmopolitans, Christians, non-Christians and atheists.

Anton Shekhovtsov, a blogger and a researcher of far-right movements in Europe, published an extensive investigation into what he alleges is an organized effort to defame Ukrainian Euromaidan protests in the West. He wrote:

Every single mass political mobilisation in Ukraine has been accompanied by the attempts to compromise the popular uprisings by associating them with the extreme right. And not only uprisings or protests, but big events too. For example, a few weeks before the start of the Euro-2012 football championship, British media hysterically accused Ukrainians of racism and xenophobia, and warned that any non-White person going to see football matches in Ukraine would definitely and immediately be killed. After the championship was over, no British media outlet apologised to the Ukrainian people when it turned out that not one racist incident involving Ukraine fans had been reported during the tournament.

The current campaign to defame the Euromaidan protests is so far the strongest attack on the Ukrainian civil society and democratic politics. Similar attacks took place in the past too [ru], although their intensity never reached today’s level. During the “Orange revolution“, the Ukrainian semi-authoritarian regime under President Leonid Kuchma was also trying to defile democratic presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko by associating him with the extreme right.

According to the author, the ongoing defamation campaign involves a number of individuals and groups that form a wide network aimed at promoting anti-Western, pro-Russian and pro-Eurasianist ideas in the EU, Canada and the US. He noticed that several individuals involved in the effort are regular commentators of Kremlin-sponsored Russia Today and Voice of Russia.

Shekhovtsov concluded by demonstrating how the tone of the Euromaidan defamation effort aligns with the official rhetoric of the Russian government:

The large network consisting of pro-Russian authors and institutions is a hard/extreme right breeding-ground of all kinds of conspiracy theories, Euroscepticism, racism and anti-democratic theories. Today, this is also one of the main sources of the articles, op-eds and statements that are one way or another trying to discredit the Euromaidan protests by associating them either with neo-Nazism or with the alleged US expansionism. The rhetoric of these authors fully conforms to the remarks made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov who has recently slammed Western support for Euromaidan and declared: “What does incitement of increasingly violent street protests have to do with promoting democracy? Why don’t we hear condemnations of those who seize and hold government buildings, burn, torch the police, use racist and anti-Semitic and Nazi slogans?”.

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/02/09/media-overblowing-extreme-rights-role-in-ukraines-euromaidan-protests/:antim

At Ukrainskyi Dim [an expo center seized by the protesters] extremists have attacked the floor – with mops. Minister of Interior is concerned. #euromaidan #євромайдан

This post is part of our Special Coverage Ukraine’s #Euromaidan Protests.
Creative Commons License
bohdWritten byTetyana Bohdanova

globalvoicesonline.org/2014/02/09/media-overblowing-extreme-rights-role-in-ukraines-euromaidan-protests/

It’s time for the world order to accept the evolution of a “New” Ukraine a free, democratic, tolerant society with European values in their hearts and souls. The Kremlin ideologies must be quashed. They are Old World ,imperialistic, divisive, and most of all Ukrainophobic. Ukraine has the right exist as does the New Europe post World War 2 and after the fall of the Iron Curtain. The majority of Ukrainians have had enough of Kremlin’s anti-Semintic and Nazi provocations against the evolution of a “New” Ukraine. The West must support this Revolution of Dignity to overcome Kremlin’s strangulation of Ukraine as occurred with the fall of the Iron Curtain in Berlin

Who are the protesters in Ukraine?

Who are the protesters in Ukraine?

By Keith Darden and Lucan Way
February 12 at 3:28 pm

Ukraine Protests

Joshua Tucker: The following is a guest post from political scientists Keith Darden (American University) and Lucan Way (University of Toronto) addressing the question of who is protesting in Ukraine, and how much support do the protesters actually have. Their conclusion: Ukraine’s protests may not be driven by the far right, but they are not supported by a clear majority of Ukrainians … and neither is a turn toward Europe. You can find links to previous posts from The Monkey Cage on the ongoing political turmoil in Ukraine at the end of the post.

*****

For over two months, anti-government protesters have camped out in the center of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. Coverage in the media has presented vastly different images of who these protesters are and what they represent. Recently, some commentators have depicted the protests as emblematic of a Europe-wide resurgence of chauvinistic nationalism. They point to the presence of the Right Wing among the protest movement and the prominence of “ultra-nationalist” groups in the recent violence.

In stark contrast, others have seen the protesters as fighters for democracy expressing the views and interests of the broad Ukrainian public to join Europe and rid themselves of Russian subjugation. Along these lines, the conflict in Ukraine has been viewed from a geopolitical perspective as a battle for and against efforts by the Kremlin to seize Ukraine, with critics of the protests seen as abetting such efforts or potentially even being on the Russian payroll. Asserting that “the movement as a whole merely reflects the entire Ukrainian population, young and old,” influential supporters of the Maidan in the academy have concluded that nationalist forces represent a “minor segment” of the protests and therefore a focus on such radicals is “unwarranted and misleading.”

What then do the protesters represent? What is the role of the far right in the protests in Ukraine? To what extent does the movement “reflect the entire Ukrainian population,” and how would we know?

Available research on the protesters and public opinion data from Ukraine suggest a reality that is more complicated than either of these competing narratives. First, there is no evidence that the majority of protesters over the past two months have been motivated primarily by radical nationalism or chauvinism. Surveys of the protest participants conducted in early December and again at the end of January suggest that the main driver of the protests has been anger at President Viktor Yanukovych as well as a desire for Ukraine to enter the European Union (see also Olga Onuch’s prior post on The Monkey Cage). Notably, the most unifying factor seems to be opposition to Yanukovych’s efforts to crack down on protesters. This is consistent with the ebb and flow in the size of the protest movement over the past months. Initially quite small, the protests exploded after a violent crackdown on them at the end of November and then again in mid January after Yanukovych pushed through a series of draconian laws to limit protest and dissent. None of the protest demands reflect an obvious chauvinist or nationalist agenda.

Yet, in Ukraine today, it is equally misleading to state that the nationalist right represents a “minor segment” of the current protests. The protest leadership (to the extent that it exists) consists of three opposition parties in parliament – one of which, the Svoboda party, is clearly on the far right. Svoboda, which captured 38 seats and 10 percent of the vote in the last parliamentary elections, until 2004 called itself the Social Nationalist Party of Ukraine and employed neo-Nazi and SS symbols. While the party changed its name and symbols in 2004, Svoboda’s leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, continued to argue that the opposition should fight the “Muscovite-Jewish mafia running Ukraine” and praised the Ukrainian Insurgency Army (UPA) in World War II for fighting “against the Moskali [Muscovites], Germans, Zhydy [Jews] and other scum, who wanted to take away our Ukrainian state.” The party does not hide its glorification of the interwar fascist movement, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). In December they held a torchlight rally on the Maidan to honor the OUN leader, Stepan Bandera, and they regularly fly the red and black flag of the OUN, which has been banned as a racist symbol at soccer matches by FIFA.

The explicit harkening back to the songs, slogans, and symbols of the nationalist movement of the 1930s and 1940s — with its aspiration to achieve an ethnically pure Ukrainian nation-state free of Russians, Jews, and Poles — has been one of the most significant differences between these protests and the Orange Revolution of 2004. The right-wing groups have been particularly active among the organization of the protest movement on the ground, particularly as the number of protesters has dwindled over time and revealed a resilient right-wing core. Svoboda’s deputies control the opposition-occupied Kiev city administration building, its flag is widely visible and a portrait of Bandera hangs in the central hall.

And Svoboda is just one of many signs of a strong far right presence in the organization and mobilization of the Maidan. Andriy Parubiy, the “commandant” of the Maidan and the leader of the “self-defense” forces that guard the protest camp in the center of Kiev, was a co-founder of the Social Nationalist Party with Oleh Tyahnybok. In recent weeks, the coalition of smaller right-wing organizations called “Right Sector” spearheaded the violent turn in the protests – using stones, Molotov cocktails, pipes, and siege weaponry against police. While this group has not been welcomed into the protest leadership, it is clearly an important player on the ground and has reportedly been arming itself in the event that talks fail to achieve Yanukovych’s resignation. More generally, nationalist activists from Svoboda and these other groups have provided the opposition with its most “fearsome demonstrators” who according to the New York Times “led some of the more provocative efforts to occupy buildings and block government offices.”

Despite the strong right-wing presence, are the protests nonetheless pro-democracy? The answer to this might seem obviously yes – given that they are directed against authoritarian behavior and an autocratic president. Yet recent work on mass mobilization has suggested that we need to be careful about assuming that politicians’ and analysts’ master narratives about “democratic revolutions” reflect the actual motivations of those on the street. Princeton University Professor Mark Beissinger has shown that Ukrainian protesters in late 2004 had a “weak commitment to democratic ends” – despite the fact that the protests were sparked by electoral fraud. More recently, a December survey of the current protesters in Ukraine cited above shows that less than 20 percent were driven to protest by “violations of democracy or the threat of dictatorship.” More broadly, it is important not to assume that opposition to a non-democratic regime is the same as support for democracy. History is littered with examples of opposition movements that governed in an authoritarian manner after they took power – from the opponents of the Shah in Iran in 1978/1979 to the anti-Soviet nationalist movement in Armenia, which harassed opposition, and engaged in serious electoral fraud after taking power in 1990-1991; to the dictator Alexander Lukashenko, who started off as an opposition parliamentarian in Belarus in the early 1990s.

Moreover, the protests themselves are not particularly representative of the views of a broader Ukrainian polity. The claims that “the movement as a whole merely reflects the entire Ukrainian population, young and old,” find very little support. In this, as in virtually every area of political opinion, Ukrainians are pretty clearly divided. Surveys taken in the past two months in the country as a whole range both in quality and in results, but none show a significant majority of the population supporting the protest movement and several show a majority opposed. Recent surveys provide suggestive findings that quite large majorities oppose the takeover of regional governments by the opposition. The most reliable and most recent survey shows the population almost perfectly divided in its support for the protest: 48 percent in favor, 46 percent opposed.

The protesters’ inability to garner greater support is surprising given the fact that Yanukovych’s popularity is far below 50 percent (although he is still apparently the most popular political figure in the country). One reason for this failure is that anti-Russian rhetoric and the iconography of western Ukrainian nationalism does not play well among the Ukrainian majority. Almost half of Ukraine’s population resides in the South and East of the country, what was once called “New Russia” when it was settled in the 19th century by a very diverse population of migrants from within the Russian empire. It is an area that has, for over 200 years, identified strongly with Russia, and nearly all of these Ukrainian citizens are alienated by anti-Russian rhetoric and symbols. The anti-Russian forms of Ukrainian nationalism expressed on the Maidan are certainly not representative of the general view of Ukrainians. Electoral support for these views and for the political parties who espouse them has always been limited. Their presence and influence in the protest movement far outstrip their role in Ukrainian politics and their support barely extends geographically beyond a few Western provinces.

Relatedly, there is little evidence that a clear majority of Ukrainians support integration into the European Union — despite the fact that the turn away from the European Union sparked the initial protests. While different polls show varying levels of support for European integration (e.g. this recent one from SOCIS), most show around 40-45 percent support for European integration as compared to about 30 to 40 percent support for the Customs Union – a plurality for Europe but hardly a clear mandate.

In conclusion, we should always be very wary of claims that protests speak “for the people.” We should be particularly wary when “the people” referred to are the people of Ukraine. If 20 years of scholarship and surveys teach us one thing, it is that Ukraine is a country that is deeply divided on virtually every issue pertaining to relations with Russia or the West, with very deep historic divisions that continue to bear on contemporary politics.

Ukrainians are, however, quite unified in the desire to be governed better than they have been for the past 20 years. The mass protests were primarily a response to efforts by President Yanukovych to impose a more repressive regime. Those on the square are not, on the whole, motivated by an affiliation for the far right or its agenda for Ukraine. Yet the heavy symbolic and organizational presence of the far right in the protests has surely limited the extent to which the protests can find majority support in the country and undermined their effectiveness in producing a better government for Ukraine’s citizens. A clear majority of Ukrainians could certainly be persuaded to abandon support for Yanukovych in an election, but the lack of majority support for the protests suggest that they might not take that option if it is presented to them wrapped in the violent anti-Russian rhetoric of the nationalist right.

www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/02/12/who-are-the-protesters-in-ukraine/

CapnTrips13
10:01 PM EST
Posting this on behalf of Mychailo Wynnyckyj Ph.D.
Kyiv-Mohyla Academy
“Who are the protesters in Ukraine?” – a response from someone who has actually been (t)here.
Part 1 of 5

Just as I was beginning to believe that the western press may have finally understood that Ukraine’s current street protests have little to do with so-called “radical-right-nationalism”, on 12 Feb. 2014, the Washington Post published an “authoritative” answer to the question “Who are the protesters in Ukraine” by two North American academics, Keith Darden and Lucan Way (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp… Not surprisingly, given that their standpoint is 5000 miles away from Kyiv, the answer Darden and Way give to their own question is (mostly) wrong. The authors are careful to veil their skepticism of the real democratic substance of Ukraine’s protest movement with academically appropriate genuflects towards those who present evidence that contradicts their conclusions, but they nevertheless advance the following highly controversial points:

a) Right-wing politicians are (apparently) disproportionately represented in the Ukrainian protest movement’s leadership. Specifically, the authors note the prominence of the Svoboda party on Maidan, and cite its use of (apparently) xenophobic and racist symbolism as reflecting the party’s (supposed) aspiration to achieve an ethnically pure Ukrainian state.

b) It is unclear (in fact, doubtful, according to the authors) whether the EuroMaidan movement truly represents the democratic aspirations of the Ukrainian people, and whether average Ukrainians really support the protest movement. The fact that the “radical right” is apparently now leading the protest movement is cause for concern (for the authors) because history is littered with examples of revolutions whose leaders become dictators after gaining power, having previously called for greater democratization.

(continued)
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Mychailo Wynnyckyj
9:43 PM EST
Several observers have wondered if a targeted campaign aimed at discrediting the EuroMaidan movement may not be afoot, but more likely, the propagation of disinformation is not purposeful. In an effort to fit the uniqueness that is the EuroMaidan into inadequate accepted social science paradigms, and at the same time to remain nominally impartial, both academics and western journalists have grasped on the “nationalist” stereotype as one that is easily understood by uninformed readers.

A similar phenomenon occurred during the Cold War when left-wing sympathizers and apologists of the Soviet regime in the West came to be referred to as “useful idiots” by opponents of state socialism. Although this term was often (incorrectly) attributed to V. Lenin, its sense seems to provide a particularly salient description of proponents of the “nationalism-on-Maidan” hype: “useful idiot is a term for people perceived as propagandists for a cause whose goals they are not fully aware of, and who are used cynically by the leaders of the cause.” (Wikipedia)

Mychailo Wynnyckyj Ph.D.
Kyiv-Mohyla Academy
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Mychailo Wynnyckyj
9:42 PM EST
If the leadership of the protest movement is in fact xenophobic, and the demonstrators are in fact proponents of an exclusively ethnic conception of Ukraine, it is unclear why there are as many Russian speakers in evidence on Kyiv’s Independence Square as Ukrainian speakers (personal observation, supported by survey data). Furthermore, the ecumenical service held every Sunday on the stage of EuroMaidan during the mass rally (viche) regularly includes both Muslim and Jewish clerics. The Euro-Asian Jewish Congress has repeatedly denounced false reports of anti-Semitism supposedly emanating from the EuroMaidan movement, instead blaming the Yanukovych regime for inflaming inter-confessional tensions – including staged attacks on synagogues by government-sponsored thugs. The Maidan Self-Defense force recently announced the formation of a Jewish Regiment in addition to the already existent Crimean Tatar (Muslim) regiment; their participants stand side-by-side with Right Sector fighters on the barricades. All of this seems to bely the portrayal of the Maidan as promoting an integral nationalist/extremist program for post-revolutionary Ukraine.

However, the fact that Ukraine’s protesters demonstrate tolerance and inclusiveness now, may not reflect their true intentions. According to Darden and Way, history is riddled with examples of movements that are supposedly built on a democratic foundation, that then resort to authoritarianism after they succeed in gaining power. Such corrosion of revolutionary principles is usually triggered by the need to consolidate power, and suppress any potential counter-revolution. In Ukraine’s case, inherent regional, confessional, linguistic, and economic cleavages, increase the risk of such a degenerative non-democratic scenario. Certainly, the promise of European integration is insufficient as an incentive to maintain inclusive democracy given the inadequate level of support for Ukraine’s eventual EU membership currently in evidence.
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Mychailo Wynnyckyj
9:42 PM EST
If the leadership of the protest movement is in fact xenophobic, and the demonstrators are in fact proponents of an exclusively ethnic conception of Ukraine, it is unclear why there are as many Russian speakers in evidence on Kyiv’s Independence Square as Ukrainian speakers (personal observation, supported by survey data). Furthermore, the ecumenical service held every Sunday on the stage of EuroMaidan during the mass rally (viche) regularly includes both Muslim and Jewish clerics. The Euro-Asian Jewish Congress has repeatedly denounced false reports of anti-Semitism supposedly emanating from the EuroMaidan movement, instead blaming the Yanukovych regime for inflaming inter-confessional tensions – including staged attacks on synagogues by government-sponsored thugs. The Maidan Self-Defense force recently announced the formation of a Jewish Regiment in addition to the already existent Crimean Tatar (Muslim) regiment; their participants stand side-by-side with Right Sector fighters on the barricades. All of this seems to bely the portrayal of the Maidan as promoting an integral nationalist/extremist program for post-revolutionary Ukraine.

However, the fact that Ukraine’s protesters demonstrate tolerance and inclusiveness now, may not reflect their true intentions. According to Darden and Way, history is riddled with examples of movements that are supposedly built on a democratic foundation, that then resort to authoritarianism after they succeed in gaining power. Such corrosion of revolutionary principles is usually triggered by the need to consolidate power, and suppress any potential counter-revolution. In Ukraine’s case, inherent regional, confessional, linguistic, and economic cleavages, increase the risk of such a degenerative non-democratic scenario. Certainly, the promise of European integration is insufficient as an incentive to maintain inclusive democracy given the inadequate level of support for Ukraine’s eventual EU membership currently in evidence.
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Mychailo Wynnyckyj
9:40 PM EST
c) It is unclear (again, for the authors – doubtful) that a majority of Ukrainians support integration with the European Union – particularly in the southern and eastern regions of the country where affinity with Russia has strong historical roots. According to the authors, Ukraine’s social cleavages are so deep that unified protest, even against a thoroughly corrupt, and incompetent authoritarian regime, such as that of Yanukovych, could not possibly coalesce: Maidan therefore represents only the western and central EU-supporting regions of the country. By implication, such a regionally skewed movement does not deserve the support of western governments.

The above theses certainly lend support to the portrayal of those who are protesting in Ukraine as radical right extremists. As a sociologist who spends much of his time speaking to demonstrators in Kyiv’s city center, I can say with some authority: Darden and Way’s portrayal of Ukraine’s protesters is wrong. It is certainly true that Svoboda party supporters are active on the Maidan, and that nationalists/patriots (what one calls them immediately indicates one’s political preferences – such is reality in a revolutionary situation) were, and continue to be active, among those who condone the use of violence against the Yanukovych regime. Furthermore, it is a fact that the original name of Svoboda was the “Social Nationalist Party of Ukraine”, but Darden and Way’s sweeping claims that this political movement “employed neo-Nazi and SS symbols” and that “the party does not hide its glorification of the interwar fascist movement” ought to have been corroborated with at least some evidence.

Given that the Darden and Way article appeared as a blog on the Washington Post website, I feel it may be appropriate to frame my rebuttal in terms an American reader will readily understand. The authors have assumed that anyone ascribing to the following phrase should be unequivocally branded an extremist:
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Mychailo Wynnyckyj
9:39 PM EST
Just as I was beginning to believe that the western press may have finally understood that Ukraine’s current street protests have little to do with so-called “radical-right-nationalism”, on 12 Feb. 2014, the Washington Post published an “authoritative” answer to the question “Who are the protesters in Ukraine” by two North American academics, Keith Darden and Lucan Way. Not surprisingly, given that their standpoint is 5000 miles away from Kyiv, the answer Darden and Way give to their own question is (mostly) wrong. The authors are careful to veil their skepticism of the real democratic substance of Ukraine’s protest movement with academically appropriate genuflects towards those who present evidence that contradicts their conclusions, but they nevertheless advance the following highly controversial points:

a) Right-wing politicians are (apparently) disproportionately represented in the Ukrainian protest movement’s leadership. Specifically, the authors note the prominence of the Svoboda party on Maidan, and cite its use of (apparently) xenophobic and racist symbolism as reflecting the party’s (supposed) aspiration to achieve an ethnically pure Ukrainian state.

b) It is unclear (in fact, doubtful, according to the authors) whether the EuroMaidan movement truly represents the democratic aspirations of the Ukrainian people, and whether average Ukrainians really support the protest movement. The fact that the “radical right” is apparently now leading the protest movement is cause for concern (for the authors) because history is littered with examples of revolutions whose leaders become dictators after gaining power, having previously called for greater democratization.

I agree 100% with Professor Mychailo Wynnyckyj’s comprehensive response. This article is an example of Ukrainophobic and Russophile reporting instep with Kremlin ideology to taint the truth and deceive…..

As Ukraine Burns, 2 Washington Lobbying Firms Are Cashing In

Tess VandenDolder InTheCapital

Tess VandenDolder
InTheCapital

As Ukraine Burns, 2 Washington Lobbying Firms Are Cashing In

lob
Washington’s most prominent lobbying firms have a long history of working for some less than savory characters. The world’s dictators need some attention from Washington too, and they have the money to spend on it. That’s why it should come as no surprise that two of D.C. biggest lobbying firms have been helping to represent Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and his ruling Party of Regions.

A couple of years ago, three party leaders who support Yanukovych founded the European Center for a Modern Ukraine, an NGO based in Brussels. According to Ukrainian journalist Sergiy Leschenko, who has been investigating Yanukovych’s relationship to the United States, “the cover story for the ECFMU is to prepare newsletters for Western audiences promoting the party line of the Regions. Moreover, to avoid being suspected of relation to the power party in Ukraine, the version of events is laid out carefully, betraying the real agenda only through avoidance of certain facts.”

Since 2012, the ECFMU has paid $560,000 to Mercury/Clark & Weinstock and another $900,000 to the Podesta Group, two of Washington’s largest lobbying firms. Last year, high ranking Party of Regions member Serhiy Klyuyev visted D.C. twice to visit with Mercury/Clark & Weinstock’s managing director Ed Kutler. And just this past December Robert Van de Vater, the husband of the president of ECFMU came to Washington to sit on a panel at the “Ukraine in Congress” symposium to talk about “Keeping Ukraine’s Legacy of Peaceful Solutions.”

Since November, Ukraine has been enveloped in increasingly violent protest. Dubbed the Euromaidan, the initial spark for these demonstrations was President Yanukovych’s refusal to sign an association agreement with the European Union. The protests escalated to call for the resignation of Yanukovych and for his Party of Regions to relinquish power. They have also become increasingly violent since Yanukovych’s government instated Anti-Protest laws in mid-January. So far over five deaths and hundreds of injuries have occurred due to this government crackdown.

Now, thanks to increased scrutiny on the Party of Regions international propaganda efforts, these demonstrations have spread to Washington. Last week nearly a hundred Ukrainian protesters gathered on K Street holding signs saying, “Podesta Group Takes Blood Money,” “Return Blood Money,” and ‘Mercury, Stop Supporting The Bloody Regime In Ukraine.”

Looks like even in the 21st Century, money still takes precedent over world peace in Washington.

Greedy for money and power in America

inthecapital.streetwise.co/2014/02/11/as-ukraine-consumed-by-protests-2-washington-lobbying-firms-are-cashing-in/

Yanukovych’s Friends On The Hill

Photo by AFP/Getty

Photo by AFP/Getty


World News
02.10.14
Yanukovych’s Friends On The Hill
As Kiev burns, associates of the Ukrainian president have paid large sums of money to two prominent American lobbying firms.

Around 60 Ukrainian protesters from across the United States gathered on February 5th to protest outside the Podesta Group and Mercury/Clark & Weinstock, which are among the largest PR and lobbying firms in America. They sang the Ukrainian national anthem, chanted “Slava Ukraini” (Glory to Ukraine) and held up placards saying, “Podesta Group Takes Blood Money,” “Return Blood Money,” and ‘Mercury, Stop Supporting The Bloody Regime In Ukraine.”

The two PR firms have been the subject of an extensive investigation by Ukrainian journalist Sergiy Leschenko, who has accused them of acting on behalf of president Viktor Yanukovych and Ukraine’s ruling Party of Regions to advance the government’s interests on the Hill. Leschenko’s reporting echoes a recent investigation by Reuters that found Yanukovych supporters had paid substantial amounts of money to the two firms.

Back home, the peaceful protests in Ukraine’s Euromaidan have unraveled into a violent standoff with police, with stories circulating of alleged kidnappings, torture and disappearances orchestrated by the authorities—including the apparent torture of Automaidan activist Dmytro Bulatov, who says he was forced to into falsely confessing to being an American spy and to receiving money from the U.S. ambassador in Kyiv. Meanwhile, even as the capital burns, MPs from the Party of Regions and government officials have apparently been trying to curry favor in the U.S. Congress.

According to Leschenko and to Reuters, the European Center for a Modern Ukraine (ECFMU), a Brussels-based organization, was founded almost two years ago by three MPs from the Party of Regions. The founders enjoy significant appointments in the Ukrainian government—Leonid Kozhara is the current Foreign Minister; Ievgenii Hiellier is the current head of the parliament’s Budget Committee; and Vitaliy Kahlyushnyy is the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Verkhovna Rada. Kahlyushnyy had also been appointed a Treasurer of the ECFMU, despite the fact that MPs are prohibited by from holding leadership positions in outside institutions. When the website Ukrainska Pravda got wind about this violation, the ECFMU removed the names of the three MPS from their registry of founders.

“The cover story for the ECFMU is to prepare newsletters for Western audiences promoting the party line of the Regions,” Leschenko says. “Moreover, to avoid being suspected of relation[s] to the power party in Ukraine, the version of events is laid out carefully, betraying the real agenda only through avoidance of certain facts.” According to the European Commission, the ECFMU’s budget is only €10,000, or around $14,000. And yet the NGO has paid American lobbyists more than $1.5 million since 2012—according to Reuters, it paid $560,000 to Mercury and another $900,000 to the Podesta Group over the past two years, for a total of $1.46 million.

The ECFMU’s chairman, Inna Kirsch, declined to reveal where the $1.46 million came from.

The latter group was founded by Anthony Podesta and his brother John, who joined the Obama administration in December 2013 as a senior advisor. Anthony Podesta told Reuters that he did not discuss events in Ukraine with his brother. In his investigation, Leschenko published what he said was a report by the Podesta Group to the Senate, noting that it had received $120,000 from the Brussels middlemen during the fourth quarter of 2013.

The second company hired by the ECFMU, according to Reuters—Mercury/Clark & Weinstock—lists as a partner former Republican Congressman John Vincent “Vin” Weber, who served as a senior advisor to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Weber’s firm has declined to publicly comment on its reputed ties to the Ukrainian government.

The ECFMU’s chairman, Inna Kirsch, declined to reveal where the $1.46 million came from. She said that “the Center is funded by donations from individuals and private companies. Some of these sponsors have committed to funding the activities of PR firms in support of the Center.” She said that the NGO’s activities in the United States were absolutely not connected with the ruling Party of Regions. Kirsch added that the center has “nothing to do, directly or indirectly” with another Ukrainian foundation, the Klyuyev foundation, funded by brothers Serhiy and Andriy Klyuyev, who are both influential Party of Regions members. (Andryi is now the head of Yanukovych’s new administration, and has been accused of being behind the violent crackdown on protesters.) Kirsch’s husband, Robert Van de Vater, is a Deputy Board Chairman for the Klyuyev foundation. In December 2013, according to Ukrainska Pravda, Van de Vater appeared at a “Ukraine in Congress” symposium (tagline: “Keeping Ukraine’s Legacy of Peaceful Political Solutions”). Last year, Serhiy Klyuyev visited Washington D.C. on two separate occasions, accompanied by Ed Kutler, the managing director of Mercury/Clark & Weinstock, according to Ukrainska Pravda. When the newspaper asked Kutler about the trip with Klyuyev, he referred the questions to the ECFMU, noting, “we work for them.”

The Podesta Group and Mercury are not alone in lobbying on behalf of Yanukovych associates in D.C. Billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, a prominent Yanukovych backer who controls 50 MPs in the Ukrainian parliament (so called “Akhmetov’s group”) through intermediaries. His politicians fully supported the draconian anti-protest laws voted in on January 16th. In 2007, a Wall Street Journal article detailed how two former Dole strategists and fund-raisers received fees and donations from Akhmetov and facilitated his trip to Washington.

As protesters on the streets of Kyiv continue their struggle, Yanukovych’s associates can rest easy knowing that their interests are well looked after in the capital of American democracy.


Rotten values every where- Podesta Group and Mercury/Clark & Weinstock making mockery of American democratic values of respect for human dignity

www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/02/10/yanukovych-s-friends-on-the-hill.html