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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.
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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)
LikeReply
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
LikeReply
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.
LikeReply
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.
LikeReply
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:
LikeReply
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…..

JEWISH MAIDAN SELF-DEFENSE LEADER

Michael Gold (exclusively for “Hadashot”)
February, 2014 Vaadua.org
Translated by Olia Knight
Edited by Isis Wisdom
Source: vaadua.org/news/stoilo-zhit-v-etoy-strane-chtoby-dozhit-do-maydana

JEWISH MAIDAN SELF-DEFENSE LEADER: At the end of the day, living in this country has been worth it – because we’ve lived to see the Maidan.

Maidan Self-Defense

Maidan Self-Defense

A cap instead of the kippah covering his head, a typical Jewish appearance – this young man could pass for a Yeshiva professor. However, he is one of the leading people in the complicated system of Maidan self-defense units and barricades on Hrushevsky Street [Hrushevskoho].

He requested to keep his name private, for obvious reasons, but proved to be pretty frank for the rest of our conversation.

– How did you end up THERE? What did Maidan mean to you, and to you as a Jew?

– Like the majority of people, I came to Maidan not “for” something, but “against” something – in general, the society is easier consolidated around protesting slogans. I never supported Ukrainian public authority, but the people’s deaths became a rubicon [point of no return]. That was the moment I realized that … I had to join people on Hrushevskoho. What I saw underwhelmed me at first – everything was so disorganized – lack of leaders, a definitive strategy, etc. Then, suddenly for myself, I started to lead the activities of the standoff, even though I did not consider it “my war” from the beginning. I organized the self-defense, the building of barricades, and later became a leader of a self-defeunit.nse

– So, you came to Hrushevskoho without going to Maidan?

– I visited Maidan a couple of times, I listened to the incoherent speeches of politicians, irresponsible announcements from opposition leaders, and knew full well that people could do more harm than good under such circumstances. And this is what happened when three opposition leaders came up to the stage after 7-hour negotiations with our president, and started sounding out the possibilities for a compromise. People sent them packing and started moving towards Hrushevskoho, ready for assault, without any military knowledge. I served in the Israeli army, and have a clear understanding of counterterrorist operations, I took part in some of them, and I realized that a lot of blood would be shed then. I counted the people on the barricades and made sure that the balance of forces was absolutely unacceptable for offensive action, and instead I offered to take a defensive position and reinforce the redoubt. Today, these barricades look like they should look.

I was completely convinced that I was where I was supposed to be after the attack on Ukrainian House [the international exhibition and convention center on Maidan], where I, in the words of “Pirkei Avot” tried to be a man in a place where there are no people. 1,500 people tried to take seize the building with 200 interior forces soldiers inside, predominantly cadets, and if protesters attacked these young men – the blood would be shed on the other side. We started negotiations that resulted in the release of Ukrainian House without a single shot and without wounded.

– Besides you, are there other Jews in Maidan Self-Defense?

There are four Israelis with combat experience just in my subdivision. Like me, they came to Maidan to help prevent any unneeded casualties. I would call our group “blue helmets” as an analogy to UN peacekeepers. The situation on Maidan is rather nerve-racking, many people want to revenge the victims, and even more people are tired of opposition inaction – all these hotheads full of illusions of real fights and therefore unable to imagine possible consequences. They also do not stop to think that there are people on the other side of the barricades, and that our actions should not defame Maidan’s “human face.”

– Have you every encountered any, not even anti-Semitism, but a condescending attitude that “he’s a Jew and he is still here with us”? I’m talking about a certain dichotomy – there is a “we” – the Ukrainians, and “they” – the Jews, some of whom are our companions and even friends. Because our Ukrainian neighbors keep asking the “Is it any of the Jews’ business?” question.

– There was not even a hint of such attitudes. I have been in contact with activists from “Pravy Sector” [Right Sector, a far-right militant group], UNA-UNSO [Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian People’s Self-Defense, a far-right political organization] – with all the people I would probably not see eye-to-eye with during peaceful times. However, I present myself solely as a Jew, and a religious one at that. I have tens of resistance guards – Georgians, Azerbaijani, Armenians, and Russians who do not even attempt to speak Ukrainian – we have never been intolerant to each other. They all are quite respectful to my faith – they already know what I can and cannot eat, etc. and this does not cause any hostility.

– How do you and your Jewish friends view Maidan, as the cultural revolution of Ukraine? There are no doubts about the fact that it is a national revolution – “Glory to Ukraine – Glory to its Heroes!” is constantly chanted, protesters sing the national anthem every thirty minutes…

Both flag and anthem are national, not party symbols – and reverence for them is absolutely necessary. People in the United States stand at the sound of their anthem, and no one would treat its words as a nationalist appeal.

I do no idealize the protest movement, nor do I know if a new civil nation is currently being born on Maidan, but I am very impressed with a number of processes. For over 20 years, Ukraine was viewed as a relatively artificial formation with all superficial attributes of statehood – people did not feel proud for their country. The old stereotype “it is none of my business” has been cultivated, Ukrainians were viewed as people who lived without a care in the world. Nobody expected that after nine years since the Orange Revolution, after a full disappointment, people would find the strength to rise again. During the march of millions, where I participated – tens of Jews walked alongside Svboda supporters who shouted slogans I found little pleasure in… There is little doubt that the spirit of freedom and unity is concentrated on Maidan in abundance. Just go around the barricades – it has been a long time since we saw such responsibility; I remember how people would walk by a person that fell on the street in the past. And suddenly, a civil self-conscience appeared – people who work all day stay on Maidan all night, carving out a couple of hours for sleep.

– How diverse is Maidan? How do “Pravy Sector” and liberals, “Spilna Sprava” and “Svoboda”, and others coexist? Have they lost their control levers? Or is it a self-developing organism over which both the government and opposition have almost no influence?

– All these factions are not dominant, they represent about 40 per cent of all protesters, they are in the minority. And the trend toward non-factionalism keeps growing since people keep coming because they feel a duty to protest. In this, Maidan is quite a manageable body; there is a Headquarters of [National] Resistance whose decisions are carried out by all factions. Other than an incident between “Svodoba” and “Spilna Sprava” (we call them “SS”), a status quo is maintained.

– SS? It’s just an acronym, nothing else?

– Nothing else. Neither of Maidan’s factions uses Nazi symbols.

– Many of my Jewish acquaintances argue to “let the revolution win”, and that thereafter everything will normalize – democrats will push extremists to the peripheries of the political process. Don’t you think it is a simplified approach? Usually, the opposite is true – a radical, well-organized and disciplined minority dictates rules of the game to “soft liberals”.

Well-organized extremists are a myth. People under my command are organized much better than radicals. We react much faster and more effectively. I am directly in charge of 30 people, but I can mobilize up to 300. Neither OUN [Organization of Ukrainian nationalists], nor “Pravy Sector” can afford such luxuries.

– Can you sketch in broad strokes a social portrait of an average Maidan “self-defense” guard?

– This is a motley crowd – from Azerbaijani salespeople out of Privoz [a large marketplace in Odessa, a city in southern Ukraine] – to residents of Kyiv – middle managers. Average age – men between 27 and 30 years of age. People from Western Ukraine, Central and Eastern regions are divided roughly equally. Most are without express political sympathies. The inhabitants from western regions have greater reverence for the Ukrainian national liberation movement – it’s a family tradition. However, none of the radicals are associated with these people with model behavior. Tyagnybok and “Svoboda”, for example, are not very popular in their base region.

One way or another, I don’t see them [protesters] leaning right. Right-wing populist slogans have become completely replaced by moderate calls for consolidation and taking responsibility for what happens. To prevent atrocities, establish self-government, and not to give reason to be called vandals.

– This is all very commendable, but who threw Molotov cocktails then?

– Practically everyone did – people could not react to bullets and flash grenades in any other way. I am more than confident that any forceful acts by the government would not have caused such reaction had they not resulted in a loss of human life. Molotov cocktails, this is the easiest thing that could happen there.

– Do Maidan protesters realize that without support from the southeast of Ukraine, real victory is impossible? Or who is not with us, is against us?

Despite the complexity of the situation, people do not want the division of Ukraine. Peaceful independence for two months, did not lead to real change, and only the events on Hrushevskoho with throwing Molotov cocktails and burning tires caused the government to react. Therefore, we continue our resistance, to force the president to make concessions. In other words, we are holding the government by its throat with an understanding that negotiations are necessary.

– I’m talking not about the government toward whom few people today feel sympathy, but about people. Ordinary people on the other side of the barricades.

The government launched the mechanism of intimidation, fear, in the east of Ukraine, and exploited people’s fear of “Banderivshchyna” [followers of a Ukrainian revolutionary and a leader of Ukrainian national movement Stepan Bandera], they played the nationalist, including Jewish, card. Everybody probably forgot about the anti-Semitism of Berkut police force’s website, but the government continues to create a negative image of Maidan, accusing it of fascism and other sins.

(The conversation is interrupted by a phone call from an owner of a fashionable boutique in downtown Kyiv thanking my interviewee for dismantling the barricades in front of the store – otherwise, the business would come to a complete halt).

I want to see Maidan “with a human face” that is acceptable to its opponents and I do not intend to burn any bridges. We’re definitely in need of consolidation and understanding that things are not for political games, but for a more successful future for Ukraine as a whole.

– Are you offended that the majority of the Jewish community treats Maidan if not with hostility, then with skepticism? Ukrainophobia has nothing to do with such an attitude – 80 per cent of Jewish population lives in regions where Maidan is, to put it mildly, unpopular. Don’t you want to bring differing points of view together, start a dialogue – not with the government or the majority of the population – but within your community?

– It’s a shame, unbearable. They’ve already urge me on to say a “Heil!” salute. This is a complete misunderstanding of a civil position. I consider the presence of Jews on Maidan not just the sanctification of the name of our Creator – it is the dialogue of Jewish people with the future government. This is what would help Jews live and work in this country. And it is a significant counterweight to those who shout about it being “a non-Jewish cause”. With God’s help, when I can show my face then nobody will say that the Jews holed up.

I see miracles from the Almighty every day on Maidan. One night, we detained a muscular man saying he was searching for a pharmacy. We thought he was a titushka, a provocateur. I came over to him and asked what was the matter. He complained of severe cramps (kidney stones), and that he needed an injection right away. I accompanied him personally to a makeshift hospital at Ukrainian House where they gave him a shot and the man started feeling better.

But there are real provocations – like in the case of the “Dnipro” hotel arson. I was lucky to stop the fire fast with snow bags – the Ministry of Emergencies of Ukraine emergency workers arrived 50 minutes later, when the fire was already put down.

– Have you discovered anything new about yourself, other people, and your country after two months of Maidan?

– I was a bit scared in my ability in emergency situations to guide hundreds of people; in civilian life I have never had such an experience.

As for the atmosphere – I remember how on my first day on Hrushevskoho I approached a barricade and a complete stranger suddenly gives me something saying: “It’s for your throat.” I look at it – it is a cough drop.

Another time, I was standing by Ukrainian House when I saw a strange group of people – I approached them and asked where they were from. One of them says, forgive us, we are praying here – for the people, for peace…

It is wonderful. At the end of the day, living in this country has been worth it – because we’ve lived to see the Maidan. It amazes me, the absence of barbaric behavior, since 12,000 interior troops that stand guard on Maidan and Hrushevskoho could turn everything within a 10 km radius [6 miles] to dust. A lost soccer match brings a lot of damage to a European city. There are no aspirations toward the vandalism and destruction of shops, it is a sign of a healthy nation, that it is not so hopeless as it looked six months ago. This responsibility is very well worth it, at any point on the globe such events would cause tragic consequences – look at Bosnia. And if after all these events people have not lose their human face, then we have matured and we have a future.

The Maidan in the heart of the Ukrainian capitol of Kiev/Kyiv is like a little country within a turbulent Ukraine with people living in tolerance and respect for each other with the common cause of standing up against corruption, greed and discrimination. With the help of the Maidan’s Self-Defence team the future of Ukraine is bright – a beacon of hope for all of humanity especially for the many blinded by dirty and blood money. This is a fight for Human values and Ukrainians of all backgrounds shall overcome!

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

Ukraine’s Other Revolution

other rev
Ukraine’s Other Revolution

Posted by: Judy Dempsey Thursday, February 6, 2014

It took some time for EU leaders to grasp the significance of the events engulfing Ukraine.

What they have seen since November is the violence. What they have read are the reports of police brutality, of activists being abducted, of journalists being beaten up, of public buildings being occupied.

During all this, the protesters have refused to leave the streets. Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, first pushed through a package of laws to suppress civil liberties and then rescinded it. But neither response led to an end of the demonstrations. Yanukovych has miscalculated.

The reason is that an invisible and powerful revolution is taking place in Ukraine. It is about values and it will continue. History has shown this before. Time runs in favor of both the demonstrations—and Europe—and against Russia’s authoritarian influence. That is why, in the long term, Russia’s offer of cheap loans and cheap gas to Yanukovych as a means to prop up Ukraine’s ailing economy is not sustainable.

During last weekend’s Munich Security Conference, Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, held a chat on the podium with the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo about the recent EU-brokered deal on normalizing relations between the two Balkan neighbors.

Who would have expected this conversation after so many years of bloodshed and mistrust between ethnic Albanians and Serbs? It was that invisible revolution of values—that lure of Europe—that brought the two leaders to the negotiating table.

Ukraine is going through an invisible revolution, too. It is an immensely difficult and different process, not just because of the geographical division of the country between West and East and the power of the oligarchs. There is also the Russian factor.

Russian President Vladimir Putin knows the importance of Ukraine for his country’s own political future. If Ukraine opts for the European path, the contagion of Western values, sooner or later, will reach Russia.

That is why Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, believes that time is on the EU’s side. This may seem strange given the fragility of Ukraine, the unpredictability of Yanukovych, and the uncertainty over what Putin may do once his Olympic Games are over. It may even seem naive.

“Some people think Europeans are naive, that we prefer carrots to sticks,” Van Rompuy said at the Munich Security Conference.

“Now, I am not saying that we cannot sometimes play our hand more strongly,” he said. “But surely it is a bad idea to let foul play undercut the very values that constitute our power of attraction in the first place—a power of attraction that brought down the Berlin Wall,” Van Rompuy added. “Our biggest carrot is our way of life; our biggest stick: a closed door.”

Despite the dangerous standoff in Ukraine between Yanukovych and the opposition, the clock cannot be turned back. Events unfolding in the country have woken the EU up to what it can offer to help this invisible revolution succeed.

Materially, Europe cannot match Putin’s offer of cheap loans and cheap gas. But the EU, the United States, and the International Monetary Fund may be able to put together a short lifeline for the economy. Any aid will be conditional on the introduction of reforms.

It is difficult, however, to see Ukraine’s opposition leaders accepting such aid as long as Yanukovych is in power. His resignation is one of their main demands. It is also hard to see how Yanukovych could even begin to introduce reforms based on transparency and accountability. They would undermine his power base.

It is the political offer that matters. The EU needs to take the invisible revolution into account, which is about making values a reality. What this means is that at some stage, the EU will have to confront the issue of offering Ukraine membership.

The effects of this invisible revolution will take time to materialize, just as the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 only happened after many years of pressure on the communist regimes by dissident movements.

“Sometimes in the heat of events, in the stream of declarations and tweets, we lose sight of the time factor. We frantically look at hours and days, forgetting the years and decades,” Van Rompuy told the audience in Munich. “We lose sight of slow evolutions, of subtle trends. Subtler than the ‘decline of the West’ or the ‘rise of the Rest.’” So it is with Ukraine.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin knows the importance of Ukraine for his country’s own political future. If Ukraine opts for the European path, the contagion of Western values, sooner or later, will reach Russia”.
“The revolution in Ukraine is not about money. It is about values, and that is why time plays in favor of Europe“.
Ukraine is Europe. Ukrainians shall overcome too. Ukrainians are spiritually strong AND tolerant people.
carnegieeurope.eu/strategiceurope/?fa=54449&fb_action_ids=10201387182741921&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=[706307279413439]&action_type_map=[%22og.recommends%22]&action_ref_map=[]

Euro – Asian Jewish Congress | Open Address to Jews of the World

Open Address to the Jews of the World

03.02.2014, Xenophobia and anti-Semitism

Vitaliy Nakhmanovich (photo by DJC.com.ua)

Vitaliy Nakhmanovich (photo by DJC.com.ua)

Over the last month there had been a total of three attacks on worshippers attending a Podil synagogue in Kyiv. Two were unsuccessful, one left its victim, a yeshiva student, wounded. The modus operandi and the circumstances leave us no doubt as to who is the culprit. It is certainly not a spontaneous upsurge of aggression from “Maidan’s anti-Semites,” as there is a far closer synagogue in the very center of Kyiv. Besides, only a madman could try to plan something like this consciously in the middle of Maidan today, as this would mean throwing away any hope for help from the West with their own hands. But the other side… First of all, the act has an air of cheek and complete impunity about it. The worshippers themselves caught an “observer” who had been drawing the routes of yeshiva students to and from the synagogue; he went to the police quite calmly and was never seen or heard from again. Second, the police itself, which hasn’t found anyone – and seems to not have even started looking. It’s a familiar scene for Kyiv today: hired thugs protected by the “agents of law enforcement” burn cars, attack passersby, and disappear into the night. Their expectations are simple: either the Jews believe that they have become victims of the “Bandera followers” and call for a stop to the Maidan “outrage,” or the Jews understand that they were chosen by the government for a scare and… call for a stop even louder, afraid of things becoming worse.
We have long lived on this land. The Jewish communities of Crimea have existed for over 2000 years. Kyiv was first mentioned in a letter written in Hebrew. But our modern history in Ukrainian lands began only 500 years ago. It had been a very diverse history: great and insignificant, happy and frightening. The “Golden Age” and Hasidic Judaism; Zionism and Haskalah; pogroms and the Holocaust; Communism and the “fight against cosmopolites” – this is all part of our history here. And it always happened that we have always lived side by side with the Ukrainians but very rarely with them. This was due to their land belonging to anyone but them. Lithuania and Poland, Austria and Hungary, Romania and Czechoslovakia, the USSR and the Third Reich – empires and republics, monarchies and tyrannies, they had all been united in one thing: that the people of this land must remain silent and obedient. And we had followed our natural instinct of self-preservation and tried to always be on the side of the strong, on the side of the government, and that meant – never on the side of the Ukrainians. However, that also meant that whenever they attempted to finally break free of the foreign yoke, we became one of the first channels for instinctual hatred or targeted propaganda. Then we once again asked for help and protection from the current government, and the cycle repeated itself. Perhaps if at least one Ukrainian attempt to achieve independence turned out differently, we would have had a different relationship.
The last attempt, made a little over twenty years ago, has seemingly succeeded. The last empire of Europe broke into pieces, and on its remnants arose or were restored new independent states, including Ukraine. This entire time the young country sought its own way and its own place in the family of free peoples, and it has been a difficult search. The Baltic peoples were lucky: they had been accepted into the European family right away. Civil wars were imposed upon the Moldavians and the Georgians, and their countries broke apart. The Ukrainians demonstrated miracles of composure and stamina, solving ever more political crises with no blood spilled. But today the time of reckoning has come. The forces of imperial recoup outside and inside Ukraine have openly placed their stakes into the hands of the most odious politician of the pro-Soviet camp, who combines a petty criminal past, a lack of schooling, and a provincial outlook. Over less than three years of his rule he managed to become insanely rich and make a host of enemies, all while destroying Ukraine’s national economy and its hope for integrating into Europe.
Two months ago, the citizens of Ukraine, who have snatched a few breaths of the air of freedom over the last twenty years, went out to a square with one demand: to stop the country from becoming a dictatorship and to return hope for a brighter future to its people. Since then they have been standing at Kyiv’s Maidan and many other squares all over the country. It is not just Ukrainians who are making the stand, but also Russians, Armenians, Belarusians, Crimean Tatars. And the Jews are standing as well. The government threw special police forces and the internal military at them, hired thugs and frightened government employees – all those who still carry within them the Soviet-bred indifference to their own future and a fear to lose the piece of stale bread that they are fed with by the almighty bureaucrat.
Today our word means much for these people and for the entire world. We received the privilege to speak out and be heard through the blood and ashes of the Holocaust. Unfortunately, today many of us are once again trying to either seize profit for themselves from the situation or to simply wait it out. That has already happened more than once in our history. But today it is time to remember that our people received their right to immortality three and a half thousand years ago not just by promising to fulfill G-d’s commandments but to bring knowledge of Him to all peoples. Today 45 million people from a country that had been watered with our blood, too, ask only for Justice and Mercy. They ask for two things which G-d grounded this world upon. Do we truly have the right to deny them that?

Vitaliy Nakhmanovich, historian; Kyiv.

eajc.org/page34/news43050.html

The Jews have suffered immensely from the Biblical times through to the Holocaust and now annihilation threats from the Arab and Muslim world. The Ukrainians too have suffered in their own way from occupations, suffering the wrath of the Russian empire as slaves, khakhols, and little Russians. Experimented on by communism, fascism and nazism. Millions of Ukrainians exterminated by Stalin’s Holodomor. Denigrated for their language, religion, culture and traditions by Kremlin as inferior to Russian. Manipulated by Kremlin’s Ukrainophobic propaganda as neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic labeling Ukrainians as villains denying them the human right of dignity.
Ukraine’s existence as a free, democratic and sovereign nation is under threat by Putin’s New Russia in his quest for a Eurasian empire. Putin wants to wipe out Ukrainians from the face of this world. We ask for sympathy and empathy from all Jewish people as they look up to Israel as their free and strong country and support Ukraine’s aspiration to be free among all nations of Europe. Please support the EuroMaidan and Ukraine’s revolution of dignity against Putin and Yanukovych and the evil they represent
.

In Honor of all Ukrainian Heroes:

“Tire Afire – Горіла Шина | YouTube (3:28)

TIRE AFIRE – Many of the photos from the current unrest in Kyiv have been backlit by large piles of burning tires. This inspired a pulsating new Ukrainian rock song called “Horyt’ shyna,” or “Tire Afire.” It condemns security police who have fired on demonstrators in Kyiv, thugs hired to bash heads, and the corrupt leaders who have bankrupted Ukraine and its people. President Yanukovych is the leader of the Regions Party, whose members, according to the song, will all face a tribunal. The lyrics match the still photos, which end with a Ukrainian standard bearer and shot of vehicles on the road leading to President Yanukovych’s outlandishly expensive residence at Mezhyhirya, a former Ukrainian Orthodox monastery that was appropriated by the Bolsheviks and never returned. The video begins with a dedication to the heroes of Ukraine.

A tire was afire, blazing,
A tire was afire, blazing,
There stood a barricade,
There stood a barricade.

There stood a barricade,
There stood a barricade.
It would not let the wild dogs pass,
It would not let the wild dogs pass.

A tire was a fire, so was gasoline,
A tire was a fire, so was gasoline,
Firing from a distance was an SOB,
Firing from a distance was an SOB.

A tire was afire, a satchel also burned,
A tire was afire, a satchel also burned.
Oh, they’ve brought us thugs aplenty,
Oh, they’ve brought us thugs aplenty.

O my villains, o my cons,
O my villains, o my cons,
You’ve served me long enough.
You’ve served me long enough.

No longer will you serve me,
No longer will you serve me,
You’ll face a people’s court,
You’ll face a people’s court.

A tribunal will await,
A tribunal will await,
Each and every Regionaire,
Each and every Regionaire.

A tire was afire, blazing,
A tire was afire, blazing,
There stood a barricade,
There stood a barricade.

Music – by the People of Ukraine
Lyrics – by the People of Ukraine
Performed by Klofelin
Recorded & Mixed by Bodiax
Translated by Peter Fedynsky

www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVEUVgF1eUI&feature=youtu.be

​Bonus:

Ukrainian Music ​Fresh From the Maidan | courtesy of Ukrainian Roots Radio in Vancouver

Don’t Underestimate Ukraine!

Don’t Underestimate Ukraine!
James Brooke
Posted January 29th, 2014

the late 1940s, the mortality rate for Soviet troops fighting Ukrainian insurgents in Western Ukraine was higher than the mortality rate for Soviet troops fighting in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

This little known fact, long suppressed by Soviet censors, helps to explain why, after two months of harsh winter weather, Ukrainians are still manning barricades against their government.

Beneath the amiable, and sometimes jovial, exterior of many Ukrainians is a hidden self-discipline, nerves of steel, and an impressive ability to cooperate under duress for a common cause.

Many Westerners, myself included, assumed that the pro-Europe protests of late November would blow over after a week or two. Protesters would fold their tents and redirect their political energies toward the March 2015 Presidential election.

Two months later, in face of riot police clubbings, sniper fire from rooftops, and drenchings by fire hoses in Arctic weather, Ukrainians still stand tall.With nighttime temperatures falling to -20C, wood fires provide some warmth for protesters. VOA Photo: James Brookejamesjames1

Yanukovych, a 63-year-old Soviet man, faces a new, post-Soviet generation of Ukrainians. They think of themselves as Europeans. And, little understood outside of Ukraine, much of this generation grew up worshipping the feats of the UPA, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. Study photos of the demonstrations: increasingly, you will see the red and black flag of the UPA. Listen for the ritual chant: “Glory to Ukraine – Glory to her Heroes.” That is the old UPA greeting from the 1940s.

What also drives the protesters? Sharp knowledge of the neighborhood.

To the North is Belarus, and to the East is Russia. Belarus is run by a healthy 59-year-old dictator, Alexander Lukashenko. Russia is run by a healthy, 61-year-old, authoritarian, Vladimir Putin. It may only be biology that will stop these two men from running their countries for another 15 years. With both countries locked in the political deep freeze, Ukrainians can clearly see their future in this Slavic troika — and they don’t want it.

In the Kremlin’s worldview, Ukrainians are falling victim to the eternal anti-Russian alliance of Poland-Lithuania-Sweden. Once again, these historic enemies of Russia are thrusting down where they do not belong, threatening Russia’s Black Sea underbelly.
On a tent in Kyiv’s Maidan Square, the symbol, alluding to Moscow, reads: “Stop Slavery.” VOA Photo: James Brooke

On a tent in Kyiv’s Maidan Square, the symbol, alluding to Moscow, reads: “Stop Slavery.” A favorite chant on the Maidan is: “No to Moscow Imperialism.” VOA Photo: James Brookejames2

Putin’s attempt to export his economic and political model to Ukraine seems doomed to failure.

Russia, the Saudi Arabia of the North, floats on a sea of oil and gas. Putin can spend $50 billion on the Sochi Olympics, allow half of the money to be stolen, and no one will raise a peep. Why? Because there is money left over to pay salaries and pensions on time.

But Ukraine is a normal country. Like France or Brazil, it is forced to make products other people want to buy and to live largely within its means. The Russian model does not work in Ukraine which exports corn and steel.

In a tight economy, unchecked corruption is a driver of protest. On the Maidan protest square, there is a widespread conviction that one of the President’s sons Oleksandr, a trained dentist, has worked hard during his father’s first 1,000 days in office. His business empire is believed to be now worth nearly half a billion dollars.

Protesters say the politically connected steal businesses. Entrepreneurs are wary of starting new companies. In this environment, the best option for young people is to emigrate to Western Europe to work as second class citizens.
james3“Revolutsiya 2014″ — complete with mask and Molotov cocktail — reads fresh graffiti near the Maidan. In 1939, Finnish soldiers named their gasoline bottle bombs after Vyacheslav Molotov, the Soviet foreign minister who signed a secret protocol with the Nazis to allow a Soviet attack on Finland. VOA Photo: James Brooke

“Revolutsiya 2014″ — complete with mask and Molotov cocktail — reads fresh graffiti near the Maidan. In 1939, Finnish soldiers named their gasoline bottle bombs after Vyacheslav Molotov, the Soviet foreign minister who signed a secret protocol with the Nazis to allow a Soviet attack on Finland. VOA Photo: James Brooke

This explains why Ukrainian protesters say they fight for “European values.” This is shorthand for courts, judges and prosecutors that crack-down on corruption and the theft of businesses by powerful politicians. This is the crucial software of a modern market economy.

Modern Russia lacks the above. As a result, Putin has lost Ukrainians’ hearts and minds. And $15 billion in Russian credits are not turning Ukrainians around.

Further driving the protests is President Yanukovych’s surprisingly inept handling of the demonstrations.

He played the geopolitical game well, walking the European Union to the altar last November, and putting Putin into fits. By doing this fake move to the west, Yanukovych was able to shake the Kremlin down for the $15 billion in aid.

But on the domestic front, time and time again, his security forces overreacted. Each time the protest spirit was lagging, a smart phone video would capture his riot police committing a new atrocity. In response, the EuroMaidan protest square would pop back up again, from 2,000 people to 200,000.

In the latest video to go viral, riot police can be seen stripping a man of his traditional Cossack uniform, then making him stand naked in the snow while policemen kick and taunt him.

Patriarch Filaret, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, has said this Cossack symbolizes Ukraine: naked, tortured but holding his head high and not surrendering to brutal force.
Soot from burning tires mixes with water from riot police fire hoses to create a front line landscape of black ice. VOA Photo: James Brooke

Soot from burning tires mixes with water from riot police fire hoses to create a front line landscape of black ice. VOA Photo: James Brooke
The quality and proximity of the naked Cossack video suggests that it was taken by a policeman, then leaked to the public.

Indeed, some people think Yanukovych is dealing with the opposition because his government is running out of bodyguards. Hundreds of riot policemen have been injured, and several units in the western part of the country have switched sides. The Ukrainian Army leadership has made it clear that it will not move out of the barracks in this political battle. Equally important, Yanukovych’s oligarch supporters may be calculating that it is best to reform now than to face a revolutionary government that might nationalize their assets.

The emergence of a pro-European, anti-corruption government in Ukraine could prove to be an existential challenge to Putin. With pro-Russian groups in Crimea toying with secession, Russia’s President might be tempted to send Russian “peacekeepers” to Ukraine, a la Prague 1968. But he will have to wait one month. Acting now would spoil his long awaited $50 billion coming out party for “The New Russia” — the Sochi Winter Olympics, just across the Black Sea from Ukraine.

So, for now, the red and black UPA flags proliferate at demonstrations, waving over the coffins of martyred protesters. The flags signal no compromise, no retreat. The colors stand for “Ukrainian red blood spilled on Ukrainian black earth.” As it looks now, the only thing that will melt the snow and ice barricades in Kyiv may be general elections in May.

For Ukraine to be finally free from Russian imperialism, these patriotic and heroic men and women need the help of long awaited help from the West! Alone it will a spirited and desperate fight that will lead to both a civil war and war with Russia. God help us all on this planet!
blogs.voanews.com/russia-watch/2014/01/29/dont-underestimate-ukraine/

James Brooke
james4James Brooke is the Russia/CIS bureau chief for Voice of America. A lifelong journalist, he covered West Africa, Brazil, the American Rocky Mountain States, Canada, and Japan/Korea for The New York Times. A resident of Moscow since 2006, he was first Bloomberg bureau chief for the region. In 2010, he joined VOA. In addition to writing Russia Watch, his weekly blog, he also does video, radio and web reports from Russia and the former USSR.

How To Help Save Ukraine’s Revolution

Special Report
How To Help Save Ukraine’s Revolution

But it will mean a defeat for heavyhanded Moscow.

By Stephen Blank – 2.1.14
spect


An authentic revolution is now occurring in Ukraine, with uprisings in the capital city of Kyiv (Kiev) and throughout both Western and Eastern Ukraine
. This groundswell of popular unrest underscores not only the loss of legitimacy suffered by Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, but also the danger of the country’s potential disintegration if a resolution is not reached soon.

Indeed, Russian media sources are openly speculating about the prospects of a civil war and, worse still, the possibility of a partition of Ukraine. Typically, Moscow now blames unnamed outside forces for both Ukraine’s original crisis and its latest, violent turn. Ironically, Russia is correct — because it is Moscow itself which deliberately has triggered this crisis.

Moscow threatened Ukraine (along with Moldova and Armenia) with economic war and catastrophe if they signed an Association Agreement with the European Union. Except for Moldova, the countries folded in the face of this brutal pressure.

In Ukraine, the results were immediately apparent. Russian pressure highlighted the fact that the Kremlin accepts neither Ukraine’s sovereignty nor its territorial integrity as fixed principles of international law (or that of other post-Soviet states, like Georgia or Moldova, for that matter). As well, since November, in return for cutting gas prices and underwriting Ukrainian state bonds, Moscow has extracted some key concessions from Ukraine, including the building of a bridge over the disputed Kerch Strait into the Sea of Azov — a transit route that furnishes Russia with an excellent highway for either seizing the Crimea or invading Ukraine, should it be of a mind to do either.

Ukraine likewise has been strong-armed into ceasing purchases of non-Russian gas, thereby deepening its addiction to Russian energy. And the Ukrainian government has taken steps to reorient Ukrainian civil and defense industry toward the Russian market, effectively turning away from Europe and creating even more points of leverage for Moscow within the Ukrainian economy and politics.

But this was not enough for Russia. Moscow has also likely told its man in Kyiv that he needs to squelch the country’s opposition protests. Predictably, laws passed by the Yanukovych government in January have effectively criminalized the Ukrainian people’s exercise of basic civil rights, representing an obvious attempt to replicate Putinism in Ukraine, ensure Yanukovych’s reelection in 2015, and silence the opposition. These laws are what triggered the latest bout of unrest, which began on January 16.

So the situation stands. The Yanukovych government, entrenched in Kyiv and bolstered by Russian backing and funds, is not eager to negotiate with its opponents — a dialogue that is likely to hinge upon the current president’s departure from the political scene. It is also quick to use violence to suppress the protests, and state security services are already responsible for the death of three protesters, one by torture. Meanwhile Russia’s clients in Kyiv are trying to entrench themselves and avert another revolution that could only end with their ouster.

To avert such extreme outcomes, Washington and its allies in Europe must grasp the strategic consequences of chaos or of a Russian takeover of Ukraine. Either option — revolution or overwhelming state force — would make adjoining countries (namely Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania) front-line states in every sense of the word. They would also bisect Europe into two hostile alliance systems. Moreover, either of those outcomes further undermines the principles enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act and the accords ratifying the post-1989-91 European settlement.Effectively, they would return Europe and Eurasia to the law of the jungle, where insecurity replaces peace and prosperity as the dominant fact of life in the region.

Therefore, Washington and the EU must act together to rescue Ukraine economically and politically from the Yanukovych family and entourage — and from Russia. They must also make clear to Russia that the West has a vital interest in defending Ukraine’s sovereignty and integrity, and that commitment will be backed by concrete political action.

This would entail quickly devising a large-scale, comprehensive program of economic relief for Ukraine, and announcing that if Ukraine is willing to resume negotiations with Brussels then over time it will qualify for EU membership. The message should be clear: if Kyiv undertakes the heavy lifting, Washington and Brussels will stand ready to substantially assist it in righting its ship of state.

Such change won’t happen with the current regime in place, however, so a prerequisite must be that the Yanukovych regime departs, to be replaced by a caretaker government that will implement immediate relief measures but also conduct a free and fair election. The government thereby elected can then continue implementing the relief and reform program outlined above.

Should Yanukovych resist, he must be put on notice that his family and entourage risk losing access to their stolen assets in the West, and face the prospect of criminal investigations at home. To deter Russian threats and pressure, meanwhile, Moscow should be referred to the WTO for its economic blackmail of Ukraine, as well as Armenia and Moldova.

Unfortunately, neither Brussels nor Washington has shown the strategic vision or imagination to formulate such a coordinated action program to date. But while it might not be too late to do so now, time is rapidly running out for a peaceful solution to Ukraine’s crisis. Business as usual simply won’t do; the United States and its allies must act vigorously together in order for Ukraine to have a chance to save itself.

The West including NATO, the EU, the US,the UN and the WTO must do everything possible to send Putin a unified and clear message “Hands off Ukraine!”
spectator.org/articles/57624/how-help-save-ukraine%E2%80%99s-revolution