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Feb 22 2014

Fascinating developments in the Ukraine

After prolonged unrest and violence in the streets, the Ukrainian parliament voted to oust President Yanukovych — which Yanukovych called a “fascist coup” while trying to flee the country. Meanwhile, as the corruption of his regime dissolves away, peaceful protestors march on the presidential compound. What do they find? Impressive opulence and that the president had his very own private zoo.

A peaceful transition that kicks out the rich exploiters and opens the doors to the public? Yes, please. Can we have one of those, too?

151 comments

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  1. 1
    Travis

    While I cannot say I am exactly hopeful about the changes occurring in the Ukraine, I can say that I am glad the previous bunch seems to have melted away. The moment I saw that compound I was disgusted by the opulence and excess on display.

  2. 2
    Geral

    Amazing how quickly this transpired. The protestors were occupying the square for a few months until the police tried to remove them a few days ago. It quickly escalated into horrific slaughters of civilians but the people did not give up and the government folded. Notice the similarity to Egypt with Mubarak except the military did not intervene (thankfully).

    This seems like less of a big revolution however. The opposition seems satisfied with the government system, they want a new president and parliamentary elections. I hope they do better than what they had. It’ll be interesting to see if Ukraine can stay united. It’s torn strongly between East-West. It always has been so we’ll see if it can stay united.

  3. 3
    chimera

    You can watch live what’s going on in Kiev, Maidan Square, on Espreso TV on Youtube. As I write they are holding Mass, “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, Save Ukraine !” You don’t have to speak the language to follow, or, in any case to get a lot of what is going on. There are tons of words that are the same in every language, like “disinformation” or “microphone” and names of people and places that you can recognize.

    For a different point of view from what you can get in Western European or American news reports, try The Caspian Report, also on Youtube. Their latest video is “Ukraine’s Strategic Importance”.

  4. 4
    Bart B. Van Bockstaele

    Not wanting to put too fine a point on it, but American leaders of all stripes are not exactly living in self-paid sobriety either, nor are the leaders in my native Belgium and adopted Canada (where they still have kings and queens, people who are allowed to live in tax-payer paid opulence for no other reason than being born).

  5. 5
    robro

    A peaceful transition…

    Something about 100 dead and 1500 injured doesn’t spell “peaceful” to me, but sure…we could use a peaceful transition, and I would bet the Ukrainians would say the same.

    The scary thought is that ousting Yanukovych threatens Russian hegemony. Hopefully they will stay out of it.

  6. 6
    Bart B. Van Bockstaele

    I agree, Robro, but I think we should also agree that – in relative terms, i.e. looking at most all other transitions of this type – this was indeed a rather peaceful transition.

  7. 7
    Sili

    So that’s two revolutions for Ukraine, but Belarus is still the same?

  8. 8
    kraut

    Simplistic as usual when it comes to pharyngulian politics.

    A bit more nuance here – and mnot from the USA propaganda press:

    “The main Ukrainian politicians:

    Well, in theory, Yanukovich, Timoshenko, Klitchko and Iatseniuk all want different things, but in reality they all have exactly the same agenda: to please their puppet-masters while making a career in politics. The case of Tiagnibok might be a little different. He has some very real chances of becoming a really powerful figure in the western Ukraine. He is smart enough to realize that neither the USA nor the EU really want him around, but that he commands a much more powerful force (both politically and in terms of violent power) than any other Ukrainian politician. Regardless, the leaders of the opposition or the pro-regime politicians are all puppets in the hands of much more powerful forces and if Tiagnibok is an exception to this rule, then he does not matter much either since his true ambitions are really local, limited to the western Ukraine.

    Having rapidly looked at the locals, let us now turn to the folks that do matter:

    The Ukrainian oligarchs:

    Most of them believe that as long as the Ukraine maintains an anti-Russian stance the EU will let them do whatever the hell they want inside the Ukraine. They are correct. For them, signing an otherwise meaningless agreement with the EU is basically accepting the following deal: they become the faithful servants of their EU overlords in exchange for what the EU overlords will let them continue to pillage the Ukraine in pretty much any way they want.

    There is a smaller group of oligarchs who still stands to lose more than win if the Russian-Ukrainian relations sour and if Russia introduces barriers to trade with the Ukraine (which Russia would have to do if the Ukraine signs an free trade agreement with the EU). These oligarchs believe that more money can be made from Russia than form the EU and they are the folks who convinced Yanukovich to make his infamous “zag” from the EU towards Russia. Thus, there is a split inside the Ukrainian oligarchy whose representatives can be found on both sides of the current struggle.

    Continue reading there:
    http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.ca/

  9. 9
    Olav

    PZ:

    A peaceful transition that kicks out the rich exploiters and opens the doors to the public? Yes, please.

    The transition is not yet complete and that it was not very peaceful has already been said. Also the rich have not exactly been kicked out, it looks more like some of the rich have changed sides.

    Now Yulia Tymoshenko has been freed from prison. Which is good and I don’t deny that it appears she was in there only for political reasons. But if she claims her place in politics again, she will be another billionaire in power.

    It remains to be seen whether Ukraine can remain a unified country.

  10. 10
    raven

    It remains to be seen whether Ukraine can remain a unified country.

    I’m not sure it matters.

    Czechoslavakia split into Czech and Slovakia and it hasn’t been a big deal. For that matter the old USSR fragmented and it didn’t matter too much. As long as they don’t do a Yugoslavia, USA, or Vietnam.

    I’ve been following this not very closely. AFAICT, the Eastern Ukrainians are Russians and/or Russian speakers, the Western Ukrainians are Ukrainian speakers. If they don’t like each other and have different loyalties, why make them live together?

  11. 11
    imthegenieicandoanything

    #8 kraut

    That’s some site you link to! Maybe someone with a few more Bible quotes can be found!

    The people who comment here are a varied lot, so it’s simple to call bullshit on your initial insult, while the rest of your comment is tainted by having settled on the brilliant clarity you believe your own opinion has.

    You’re not harming anyone, so far as can be told, so enjoy this fantasy.

    That pro-Russian, now-deposed President is, by considerable evidence as well as temperament, corrupt, egotistic, and willing to see everyone else’s blood spilled to keep himself comfortable and important. Good riddance to very bad rubbish.
    The now-released Yulia Tymoshenko also has many questions around her, but she didn’t set snipers on unarmed demonstrators to see if that might work.

    PZ’s comment was over-simplified, and I as an outsider cannot trust much of what I read, save by smell, but -not that you care, perhaps about anything or anyone else – your comment deserves no respect.

  12. 12
    atterdag

    Professor of Russian studies and politics, Stephen Cohen, provides some illumination on the situation:

    http://www.democracynow.org/2014/2/20/a_new_cold_war_ukraine_violence

  13. 13
    anteprepro

    Simplistic as usual when it comes to pharyngulian politics.

    Yeah, whenever we hear something like that, we gotta know that the person spouting that has, just, the most superb, nuanced political views. Like, extremely. The best political opinions in the fucking world. Not just a glib wingnut taking the piss, nosireebob.

  14. 14
    Gregory Greenwood

    A peaceful transition that kicks out the rich exploiters and opens the doors to the public? Yes, please. Can we have one of those, too?

    As noted by others, it has only been ‘peaceful’ in relative terms, but it was certainly much less violent than it might have been, assuming that all the violence is now finished, that is.

    With a clearly corrupt leadership ousted, I hope things improve in the Ukraine, but the cynic in me cannot help but wonder whether the transition thus far has been as releatively smooth as it is because various powerful interests wanted it to be – it may all trace back to the ongoing power struggles over ex-Soviet bloc countries between the current Russian government and the emergent EU interests in the region.

    Where you have a situation where a powerful, wealthy group benefits from your revolution, and can use it to install those favourably disposed toward their agenda in the newly available positions of power opened up by political upheaval, then it is much easier to get momentum up behind the change, since it only really shifts the privilege and advantage from one unaccountable elite group to another. Attempting to restructure a society to be genuinely fairer and more cosmopolitan – to legitimately tackle social injustice by placing power and wealth into the hands of the people at large rather than any of the possible minority elites – is a somewhat different proposition.

    The kind of revolution where none of the powerbrokers win, where nobody with an existing stake in the game of power politics comes out ahead, but rather all the would be Olympians lose out to mere mortals, is rare indeed because it makes the powerful abroad feel insecure in their own unearned privilege. There is no way to know what character any new Ukranian government may show, but I havn’t forgotten people hailing the Egyptian change of government that heralded the Arab Spring as being a bright new beginning, and how that has actually played out.

    A corrupt, kleptocratic regime has fallen, but that is all we can say at the moment. Whether the events in Ukraine should be hailed as a model for any other society to follow is yet to be determined.

  15. 15
    poolboy

    Very sloppy and short sighted propaganda PZ.

    1. Peaceful transition? Do you know how many people have been killed, and injured?
    2. You had rioters try to burn to death police, and shoot them.
    3. You had violent rioters occupy and storm a parliament and pushed laws passed under threats of violence and death.
    4. Do you have any evidence that the President STOLE or EMBEZZLED money public money in a large scale?

    Can you IMAGINE if the republicans, tea parties, and corporate democrats stormed Washington, shot and burned opposition, put in their own congressmen and push laws – while being financed and promised support from Russia or China?

  16. 16
    OldEd

    The key idea is indeed “the Ukraines strategic location” – it is located on the Black Sea. It was bad enough when both Greece and Turkey became members of NATO – thus affording NATO the ability to block the Soviet navy from using the Black Sea in any meaningful way when it came to warships. (This is one reason, and I think the overwhelming reason, that Russia is so interested in what is going on in Syria.) A government in Kiev friendly to NATO would pose the risk of the Ukraine allowing “friendly port calls” by American warships. The Russians have good reason to not want the U. S. Navy in the Black Sea, but they have far more to worry about if we had friendly bases there…

    Thus the downfall of a pro Russia government is going to cause a strong reaction in Moscow. Remember that approximately 45% of the Ukrainian population is Russian-speaking. There were always some there – the border was constantly in a state of flux, and historically the two states were close allies. With the rise of the Soviet Empire more Russians moved, or were moved, into the Ukraine.

    I anticipate that Putin will (a) use his embassy as a base for infiltrating trouble-makers (a la the KGB) (remember that Putin is, himself, ex-KGB, if there is such a bird as an EX-KGB). The second asset that Putin has is the large Russian-speaking population in the Eastern part of the Ukraine, where 5 oblasts (provinces) are majority Russian-speaking. It is the western part of the country that has an overwhelming majority of non-Russian-speakers, and which is in favor of improving relations with the West.

    A second reason for Putin to wish to retain dominance in the Ukraine is the historical interest by the Russians to hold and maintain buffer states against the West. This urge long preceeds the Soviet empire – the Czars were afflicted with this as well, which accounts for the measures the Czars took to expand the Russian empire into areas which have been a headache ever since – witness the current flap over Muslim terrorists and terrorism during the Sochi Games.

    We’ll just have to sit back and watch. We cannot afford to anger the Russians – remember they still have nukes, just as we do, and the last thing we need an “exchange”.

  17. 17
    Olav

    Me #9:

    It remains to be seen whether Ukraine can remain a unified country.

    Raven #9:

    I’m not sure it matters.

    Depends on whether the separation can be done on in a peaceful, civilised and well-handled manner. A disintegrating state is never a pretty sight to see.

    Czechoslavakia split into Czech and Slovakia and it hasn’t been a big deal.

    Perhaps because they had already been two distinct countries before being joined in the Czechoslovakian federation. Also, not a single shot was fired when the union was dissolved. Which is already more than can be said of Ukraine.

    I’ve been following this not very closely. AFAICT, the Eastern Ukrainians are Russians and/or Russian speakers, the Western Ukrainians are Ukrainian speakers. If they don’t like each other and have different loyalties, why make them live together?

    But they are not just divided East vs. West. There is some complicated history there. There are Russian speakers everywhere in the country, it is the result of centuries of Russian dominance and interference (it did not just start with the Soviet Union).

  18. 18
    Jeremy Claywell

    Besides what all these people have already said, it seems a large portion (about 1/5th) of the protesters are National Socialists aka Nazis. Although there have been a great many number of deaths on both sides I don’t feel too happy with a Nazi group attempting to revolt as violently as these did. Hopefully cooler heads prevail.

  19. 19
    anabasis
  20. 20
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Which does not work out well for the Omegas. Evolution is mean and based in inequality, which is Natural.

    It is between the Alphas and the Betas that Nature’s Artificial Law applies.

    Citation needed as there is no such thing as Natural Law….

  21. 21
    anabasis
  22. 22
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    anabasis

    You may not have noticed this, but Darwin was not a sociologist. Nor was a he political theorist of note.

  23. 23
    anabasis
  24. 24
    Akira MacKenzie

    anabasis @ 23

    Darwin was a scientist.

    And…?

  25. 25
    timgueguen

    Jeremy Claywell, a source for your claim of Nazi involvement would be appreciated.

    anabasis, your talk of Alphas, Betas, and Omegas makes me think of this http://fanlore.org/wiki/Alpha/Beta/Omega

  26. 26
    kreativekaos

    A peaceful transition that kicks out the rich exploiters and opens the doors to the public? Yes, please. Can we have one of those, too?

    Yes, can we? One can only dream,…. only dream.

  27. 27
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    anabasis #23

    Darwin was a scientist.

    Tune in next week, when we will show how Bernoulli’s principle works, when applied to fiscal policy…

  28. 28
    anabasis
  29. 29
    anteprepro

    Somebody mentions Nazis and the very next comment is a social darwinist. What foul magic is this?

  30. 30
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Anteprepro, I blame Big Guvmint. They put Darwinium-di-Wallacite in the water, you know.

  31. 31
    chigau (違う)

    Carrots are roots.
    Potatoes are tubers.
    My cat is neither.
    私も。

  32. 32
    Akira MacKenzie

    And we’ve got non sequitur word salad!

    What dressing do you serve with that?

  33. 33
    chigau (違う)

    味噌.

  34. 34
    jorba

    25. Nazi involvement – Here’s what the Guardian said …

    You’d never know from most of the reporting that far-right nationalists and fascists have been at the heart of the protests and attacks on government buildings. One of the three main opposition parties heading the campaign is the hard-right antisemitic Svoboda, whose leader Oleh Tyahnybok claims that a “Moscow-Jewish mafia” controls Ukraine. But US senator John McCain was happy to share a platform with him in Kiev last month. The party, now running the city of Lviv, led a 15,000-strong torchlit march earlier this month in memory of the Ukrainian fascist leader Stepan Bandera, whose forces fought with the Nazis in the second world war and took part in massacres of Jews.
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/29/ukraine-fascists-oligarchs-eu-nato-expansion

  35. 35
    yubal

    @ PZ

    Don’t be naive.

    A peaceful transition that kicks out the rich exploiters and opens the doors to the public?

    The transition wasn’t anything like but “peaceful” and the public will be exploited again next time there will be a new ruler. Or briefly after that.

  36. 36
    robro

    re “Nazis”…according to this International Business Times story a few days ago, the protests “include a smorgasbord of opposition groups and dissenters who strongly object to the rule of President Viktor Yanukovych and the purported influence of Russian leader Vladimir Putin on the nation’s affairs.”

    One of the main groups behind Euromaidan is the political party called Svoboda, which holds 36 seats in the parliament. Svoboda is described as an “extreme right-wing” party and “nationalist.” It is a member of the Alliance of European National Movements, which includes nationalists parties in the UK and one in Hungary described as a “neo-fascist, anti-Semitic and anti-Roma party.” Amusingly, Wikipedia says “Svoboda’s socioeconomic platform has been described as similar to that of the Republican Party for the United States…”

    However, as IBT suggests, there’s more involved here than just Svoboda or other right wing organizations, so describing the whole movement as “fascist” is perhaps a stretch. There is also deep EU involvement. It’s interesting that the protests started, at least in part, over Ukraine’s EU membership prospects, which would seem hardly in a arch-nationalist party’s interest.

    Of course, Svoboda and other right-wing groups involvement is probably the queue for the “fascist” propaganda coming from Yanukovych and the Russians.

    According to this Bloomberg story, Yanukovych was stopped at the border and not allowed to leave the country.

    I don’t think that the biggest concern is Ukrainian nationalists involved in Euromaidan, but Russia. From the Bloomberg story:

    The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed his “gravest concern.” The opposition “was following the lead of ‘‘armed extremists and thugs whose actions pose a direct threat to the sovereignty and constitutional order in Ukraine,’’ Lavrov said, according to a statement.

    It’s not far from this to Russian intervention to assure “sovereignty and constitutional order in Ukraine.” That’s exactly what the US would do if say this trouble was going on in Mexico or Puerto Rico. The US is even moving closer to open involvement with the ongoing turmoil in Venezuela. (I’m confident the US government has been covertly involved there for some time.)

  37. 37
    rq

    Again, it’s the ‘Well, there were some deaths, so it’s not great, but it’s not as bad as it could have been, so let’s just call it peaceful’ out in force. I’m sure those who have been beaten, arrested and/or killed will agree with you, because it sure as hell doesn’t look like they’re willing to settle for ‘peaceful’.
    Outside of Ukraine, it may look to be a peaceful transition. It’s not so peaceful on the inside, with months of tension and violence, in the coldest months of the year.
    And yes, they ousted Janukovic, but there’s no way to know (yet) what will happen next – who will be in power, and with so many pulling in their own directions, the violence may yet escalate. Getting rid of one dictator is not an end, it’s only the beginning of a long and painful process.

  38. 38
    poolboy

    MPs from a far right party, that were part of the coup, suggested banning certain political parties, and now suggesting banning certain media for not reporting “accurately”.
    These up coming “elections” don’t look all too encouraging. IMF looks to be stepping in, sure to bankroll their candidates (puppets >_>).

  39. 39
    otranreg

    A peaceful transition that kicks out the rich exploiters and opens the doors to the public?

    Yeah, a ‘peaceful’ transition that delivers even more power to the already-armed ultra-right-wingers, whose ideology is based on profound xenophobia (ethnic Russians and Jews being the main enemy, of course) and on the glorification of the early 1940′s when their criminal predecessors served the Nazis and had good old massacre time.

  40. 40
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Yeah, peaceful definitely isn’t a word I would use in relation to what has been happening in Ukraine.

    Nazis being involved in the overthrowing of the government is very worrying. Nationalists are already gaining ground all across Europe.
    Whenever there is destruction and violence, you can find those groups but if they are well organized… that’s dangerous. I hope they manage to take as little as possible influential positions in the new Ukrainian government. But they sure are in a great place.
    The former government, they, pro-Russion scum have ruined the country, who do people want now? Look at us the real Ukrainian people.

  41. 41
    anuran

    1) The winter Olympic end Sunday. What do you want to bet Pooty-Poot offers “fraternal assistance” in the form of “anti-terrorist actions” on Monday?

    2) Thank Cthulhu the Army decided to sit this out.

    3) Great moment in the live stream where a BBC reporter was asked by a protester to please stay off the grass at the Presidential Palace. They were worried about damage to the lawn. Also reports of another protester replacing the plastic bags at the grounds’ garbage bins.

  42. 42
    rq

    Whatever happens in Ukraine resonates in the entire region, especially with the Hand of Putin so close and so involved. I, for one, do not feel particularly peaceful. Not exactly panicking, a bit anxious, somewhat worried and apprehensive, but most certainly not peaceful…

    I hope they manage to take as little as possible influential positions in the new Ukrainian government. But they sure are in a great place.

    Yes. It has me worried, both as a fact in itself, and as a potential precedent.

    anuran

    They were worried about damage to the lawn. Also reports of another protester replacing the plastic bags at the grounds’ garbage bins.

    They’ll be doing the cleaning up and the living afterward… It makes sense to worry about these things. They’re not out to destroy the city/infrastructure, they want to change the government.
    Also, there’s no guarantee the Army will sit it out. Although, yes, for now, it looks like it might.

  43. 43
    Nick Gotts

    One of the main groups behind Euromaidan is the political party called Svoboda, which holds 36 seats in the parliament. Svoboda is described as an “extreme right-wing” party and “nationalist.” It is a member of the Alliance of European National Movements, which includes nationalists parties in the UK and one in Hungary described as a “neo-fascist, anti-Semitic and anti-Roma party.” – robro

    Svoboda is actually an “observer party” of the , alliance of European National movements members of which include the British National Party – which is and always has been led by convinced Nazis, although it is not openly Nazi, Hungary’s Jobbik, which makes a practice of violence against Jews and Roma, and Italy’s Tricolor flame, which openly bases itself on Mussolini’s fascism. Its leader regularly inveighed against Jews and the “Moscow-Jewish mafia” until he quietened down for political advantage. Svoboda is now considered too “moderate” by many of the “peaceful demonstrators” (wearing helmets and face masks and carrying clubs if they don’t have guns), who support the Right Sector.

    I don’t think that the biggest concern is Ukrainian nationalists involved in Euromaidan, but Russia. From the Bloomberg story:

    The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed his “gravest concern.” The opposition “was following the lead of ‘‘armed extremists and thugs whose actions pose a direct threat to the sovereignty and constitutional order in Ukraine,’’ Lavrov said, according to a statement.

    In what respect was Lavrov wrong? The fact that both Yanokovich and Putin are scumbags should not blind us to the nature of those involved in overthrowing the former – who was elected, in 2010, with OSCE observers broadly approving the process. Even apart from the fascists, there are corrupt oligarchs on both sides (the sainted Julia Tymoshenko made a fortune during the privatisation of the petrochemical industry, and has several times been accused of corruption, although she insists the charges have always been political), and both the EU and USA have been heavily involved with the opposition – see the interview with Stephen Cohen linked by atterdag@12.

    Really, PZ, you do show considerable naivete sometimes when you comment on European politics.

  44. 44
    markd555

    Very sloppy and short sighted propaganda PZ.

    1. Peaceful transition? Do you know how many people have been killed, and injured?
    2. You had rioters try to burn to death police, and shoot them.
    3. You had violent rioters occupy and storm a parliament and pushed laws passed under threats of violence and death.
    4. Do you have any evidence that the President STOLE or EMBEZZLED money public money in a large scale?

    Don’t forget those unarmed medics that manage to shoot themselves in the neck with a government sniper rifle at a distance of 200 yards, sneaky protestors.

    Nope we don’t know if and how much money he embezzled and how much he got from Putin, but they haven’t searched his personal SPANISH GALLEON yet.

  45. 45
    Weedless Monkey

    In a furore to blame nazi provocateurs, don’t forget the police snipers who murdered tens of protesters are president Janukovytš’s men.

  46. 46
    rq

    Nick
    1) Just because Janukovic was elected in supposedly fair elections (it was quite a bit in the news when it happened, with the usual accusations of all kinds flying about, but yes, they were approved), doesn’t mean he’s been doing a particularly good job since, and backing out of agreements in November was seen as a pro-Russian move, which brings me to…
    2) Lavrov may be right, but that doesn’t mean that the fascists and nazis are the biggest concern to Ukraine right now. I would agree that their biggest (or at least, a bigger) concern is increased Russian influence, whatever shape or form it may take, and that if the fascists and nazis do manage to take power, the threat of Russian ummm ‘friendly intervention’ will actually increase, rather than decrease.

    Yes, there are terrible people on all sides, and it seems no one will let the Ukrainians decide on their own (with influence from the US, the EU, Russia…). Corruption and oligarchy are difficult to eradicate, harder still when some are supported by a neighbouring (or not-so-neighbouring, for that matter) power with great military strength. So which ones do you choose?

  47. 47
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    In a furore to blame nazi provocateurs, don’t forget the police snipers who murdered tens of protesters are president Janukovytš’s men.

    It’s possible to divide the world in more than just the good guys and the bad guys.
    Just because some of us worry about nationalists using this opportunity to slide their slimy tentacles firmly around Ukraine, doesn’t mean the government that was overthrown wasn’t corrupt and violent, or that their victims mean any less. There were more than 80 dead and hundreds of wounded in the protests, from both all sides.

    I can see the correlation between this and protests in Bosnia. In both, there are peaceful protesters, and then there are violent groups with agendas of their own burning down buildings. The second are piggybacking on the rightful dissatisfaction and despair of the first group.

    Overthrow opens up spots to fill. Whether those spots get filled with Putin-approved oligarchs or nationalists-approved oligarchs… Ukrainian people are going to suffer. And the consequences of course will be felt in other countries too, be it by Russia or (far) right getting bolder.

    /pessimist

  48. 48
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    rq,

    if the fascists and nazis do manage to take power, the threat of Russian ummm ‘friendly intervention’ will actually increase, rather than decrease.

    Good point. It’s scary, especially with Putin already having made promises of intervening in Crimea “if needed”. I won’t even hesitate a guess on his interpretation of “needed” there.

    So which ones do you choose?

    *sigh*
    /gets more pessimistic

  49. 49
    rq

    In both, there are peaceful protesters, and then there are violent groups with agendas of their own burning down buildings. The second are piggybacking on the rightful dissatisfaction and despair of the first group.

    Well said.
    And the second groups gaining ground is frightening, especially since ‘assistance’ to one part of the region can easily be extended to other parts, under minimal provocation.

    So which ones do you choose?

    [elaboration] I suppose I ask more because, when it comes to elections and the democratic process, it’s awfully difficult to vote for the Good Candidate if the Good Candidate isn’t running. It seems to be a pattern here that the Good Candidates are never actually candidates, and so we’re left with a selection of variously-backed oligarchs / privatized interests, which is often a choice between lesser and greater evils – not Which one is independent? but Which one is potentially more independent?.
    A better question might be: How do you get the right kind of people involved? Especially if, once the seemingly right kind of people get involved, they get run out of government for various reasons? (This is not a commentary on Janukovic’s government, rather a situation that developed here, in another part of the region encompassing Russia’s neighbours.) [/elaboration]

  50. 50
    Nick Gotts

    rq@46,

    Just because Janukovic was elected in supposedly fair elections (it was quite a bit in the news when it happened, with the usual accusations of all kinds flying about, but yes, they were approved), doesn’t mean he’s been doing a particularly good job since

    Since I’ve described Yanukovich as a scumbag, and noted that there are corrupt oligarchs on both sides, what makes you think I think he’s been doing a particularly good job? Does an elected leader not “doing a particularly good job” justify a coup against them? (Which is what has happened: the Parliamentary opposition leaders agreed a compromise with Yanukovich, including early Presidential elections, which was then repudiated by the street protestors, among whom fascists are prominent.)

    Lavrov may be right, but that doesn’t mean that the fascists and nazis are the biggest concern to Ukraine right now.

    “Ukraine” is not a person, nor an entity unified enough to have “concerns”. If I was a member of one of the minorities, who make up over 20% of the population, and partcularly if I was a Ukrainian Jew or Roma or Crimean Tartar, or known antifascist, I think the prominent role of fascists in overthrowing Yanukovich, and the admission by the Parliamentary opposition leaders that they have lost control (see the link @12), would be my biggest concern.

  51. 51
    rq

    the Parliamentary opposition leaders agreed a compromise with Yanukovich, including early Presidential elections, which was then repudiated by the street protestors, among whom fascists are prominent

    Mmhm *nods sagely* because leaders deciding something should automatically be accepted by everyone, because obviously they made the right choices that satisfy everyone. Maybe it was too little too late – maybe there was additional provocation meant to maintain unrest no matter what decisions were reached…
    And yes, I think, if an elected leader is doing a crappy job of being a leader, the people have a right to demand change, without waiting for elections, should those be too far off. After all, it all started peacefully enough, but the government refused to budge, so – the people are just supposed to throw their hands up, walk away, and patiently wait out the next elections?
    I don’t know, maybe. Maybe the government mistakenly thought they could wait the original protesters out, it being winter and all. Maybe the protesters just had enough (all parties involved, should you think I’m lumping them all into one entity). Maybe some party took advantage of the situation. Maybe…?

    re: minorities
    I don’t see how a Russian-friendly/controlled government would be any better for them, not in the long run, at any rate.

    Anyway, I’m not disagreeing with you on the larger points (bad choices on all sides), I’m saying I think you’re a bit too quick to dismiss the effects of Russian influence (calling everyone a ‘scumbag’ doesn’t necessarily address the issue). But then, this just may be a matter of our differing perspectives or what lies closer to our own interests in this case.
    Also, I’m not entirely sure the opposition leaders were ever in control (as such), it all felt very tentative and careful from over here. Which, of course, doesn’t change the fact that that is also not a good thing. So.

  52. 52
    Nick Gotts

    Mmhm *nods sagely* because leaders deciding something should automatically be accepted by everyone, because obviously they made the right choices that satisfy everyone.

    I see what you mean, *node sagely*, and armed fascists always have the best interests of the people at heart.

    And yes, I think, if an elected leader is doing a crappy job of being a leader, the people have a right to demand change, without waiting for elections, should those be too far off.

    And how do we decide what “the people” are demanding? There are these things called “elections” and “referendums” – you may possibly have heard of them – which constitute an institutionalised way of determining this. Not perfect, admittedly, but possibly better for that purpose than seeing who can get more masked and helmeted men out on the streets.

    In Egypt last year, there were far larger demonstrations than any in Ukraine against an elected President, who was probably doing as bad a job as Yanukovich. They managed to get rid of him – and restore army rule, with mass arrests and many more killings than in Ukraine. In Thailand, the governing party keeps winning elections – I think it’s now six in a row. The opposition have been trying to get them out for months, calling for the government to be replaced by an unelected “People’s Council”, and doing their utmost to sabotage the most recent elections, because they knew they would lose them.

  53. 53
    Terska

    By the way, the name of the country is Ukraine. It is not “The Ukraine”. The latter is a reminder of occupation and the country being part of the USSR. Ukrainian history during WWII is much more complicated than just saying Bandera was a Nazi. He probably wasn’t. There certainly were Ukrainian SS volunteers just as there were in every Nazi occupied country. Every country has its own Nazis. At first the Germans were viewed as liberators but the Nazi’s soon implemented their genocidal policies and ended the honeymoon. The western border area of Ukraine fought a long and unknown civil war during after after WWII. The Ukrainian Insurgent Army fought against both the Nazis and the Soviets.

    Bandera fought against the Nazis. Nuremberg documents revealed he was to be arrested and all his followers “liquidated” The order was placed in 1941.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian_Insurgent_Army
    http://www.kyivpost.com/opinion/op-ed/ukrainian-insurgent-army-myths-and-facts-314313.html

  54. 54
    rq

    Nick
    Yes, elections and referendums are better and more peaceful. But other people may not agree, as those processes may seem too slow or too corrupt for some. Considering the possibility of rigged elections, people may not trust them enough to resort to them and the lengthy processes they may involve, for one reason or another (past experience, suspicion of foreign financing, etc.). Does this make armed violence in the streets a better way? No. But it may seem like the only way at the moment.

    I’m afraid I don’t quite see your point with Egypt and Thailand, except that one seems to have done worse and the other… the opposition keeps sabotaging the institutionalized methods that are supposed to work (and seem to be working), because the governing party is doing well enough for the people to keep electing them? How does that compare to Ukraine? I’m confused.

    And finally, the “armed fascists” aren’t the only ones on the streets, they are not the only option. Not by a long shot, and it’s not even clear that they’re necessarily the dominating portion – I don’t deny that they are many, but it is not clear that they are the majority, or that they are even in charge (at least not in all areas), or will be. Stop lumping all the protesters together.
    Is that where I’ve been misunderstanding you?? Every time I say ‘protester’, you’ve been assuming I mean ‘fascist’? If so, then I don’t feel comfortable continuing this discussion, because I feel like you’ve been deliberately misreading what I write.

  55. 55
    anabasis
  56. 56
    zenlike

    Shut the fuck up anabasis, you are too dumb to even engage.

  57. 57
    timgueguen

    anabasis, what kind of dimensional crossing device did you use? It sounds like the politics in the spacetime you come from have some interesting differences from ours.

  58. 58
    opposablethumbs

    Judging by #55, anabasis is too dumb to breathe without instructions.

  59. 59
    anabasis
  60. 60
    anteprepro

    By my logic, a nationalist would seek to advance the interests of his nation and those who live in it while a ‘far right’ person would seek to increase his own wealth.

    Aside from the fact that these two aren’t logically inconsistent with one another, where the fuck are you getting this definition?

  61. 61
    otranreg

    @53

    What, is this the copypasta you pull each time someone says ‘Ukraine’?

    Just the tastiest: It is not “The Ukraine”. The latter is a reminder of occupation and the country being part of the USSR.

    Yeah, even though if it hadn’t been for the Russian revolutions of 1917 there wouldn’t be such thing as ‘Ukraine’ with the article or without. And the ‘occupation’ somehow involved quite substantial territorial gains for the Ukrainian SSR, which modern Ukraine is surprisingly reluctant to relinquish.

    Every country has its own Nazis. At first the Germans were viewed as liberators but the Nazi’s soon implemented their genocidal policies and ended the honeymoon.

    Except that that country’s homebrew Nazis (those ‘volunteers’) perpetrated most of those crimes in their own country at the behest of their German spouse (and, quite often, not surprisingly, on their own initiative).

  62. 62
    zenlike

    Apparently anabasis has missed World War 2 and the Nazi’s, which were both far right-wing and nationalistic.

  63. 63
    Travis

    You’d never know from most of the reporting that far-right nationalists and fascists have been at the heart of the protests and attacks on government buildings. One of the three main opposition parties heading the campaign is the hard-right antisemitic Svoboda

    Maybe I simply read a lot of news, but I have seen a large number of stories written specifically about Svoboda, for quite a long time actually, long before the current unrest. Their far-right nationalist line and history has been part of multiple articles I have read over the last few months. I find it hard to believe anyone that is paying any attention does not know about them by now. It certainly worries me that they have the power they do, it is one of the many reasons I do not exactly hold out hope for real change here, but that in no way makes me unhappy to see Yanukovych gone.

  64. 64
    alexanderz

    Beatrice

    Are you from Ukraine? East or west? What is the general mood in your part?

    I’ve talked to friends and relatives, all in the east. Many are really optimistic. Even people in Odessa are against both Yanukovych’s cronies and any Russian intervention.
    Things may not be as bad as they seem, cheer up!

    P.S.
    And PZ screws up again with his political “analysis” on every (not a peaceful revolution) single (rich exploiters are still in power) point (fascist/Nazis really do have some control in some areas). Hey PZ, have you considered that just like non-biologist should talk about biology, people who are completely ignorant about politics and international affairs should be a bit more humble in their statements?!

  65. 65
    anabasis
  66. 66
    zenlike

    anabasis, the Nazi’s were funded by German industrialists, and they imprisoned socialist and union members. They were not for redistribution of wealth. You really are too dumb.

  67. 67
    anabasis
  68. 68
    Travis

    the Nazis were a working class, socialist political association. They were not a ‘right-wing’ movement.

    The Nazis were a lot of things. Making such simple statements shows a very superficial understanding of the party and its history. Using the name “national socialism” to justify this is even weaker. The party always had a left wing movement within it. Otto and Gregor Strasser were leading members of this part of the movement, and Joseph Goebbels was a part of this. Hitler, however, eventually pushed this part of the party out as he did not really support those goals and their platform worried middle class and nationalist supporters. At the Bamberg Conference in 1926 the party line fell in behind Hitler and his concept of him as leader, that the party would be built around him and not the program. By the 1930s they were largely pushed out of the party. Otto was expelled in 1930, Gregor left the party in 1932. In June/July 1934 much of the left-wing of the party was killed, including Gregor Strasser. The socialist line was indeed popular among many of the membership but this viewpoint was all but squeezed out by the mid-1930s.

  69. 69
    zenlike

    67 anabasis

    The German industrialists read the tea leaves zenlike, having previously supported the German aristocracy.

    Most of the German industrialist were aristocracy.

    National socialism imprisoned political communists, not political socialists.

    Wrong.

    The Nazis were different, and clearly distinct, from anything that could be termed ‘far-right’ today.

    Now I see, you just want to distinguish between your right-wing politics and the Nazi’s. Nice try. So, those extremist right-wing types who self-identify with Nazism, are they also different then the Nazis? Or are they ‘not true far right-wingers’?
    The rest of your screed is nothing more then non-sequiturs .

    Congratulations, you truly are a magnificent example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

  70. 70
    anabasis
  71. 71
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    alexanderz,

    No, I’m not from Ukraine. I’m sorry if I gave that impression.

  72. 72
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Apropos of nothing much: [Link]

  73. 73
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    anabasis,

    You are confusing the common folk identifying with the nationalist movement and the politicians. Just because nationalism caters to the lower classes in some areas, doesn’t mean they aren’t screwing them over in others, or using the standard political move of empty promises.

  74. 74
    Nick Gotts

    Terska@53,

    From your own link about the Ukranian Insurgent Army (emphasis added):

    The group was the military wing of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists — Bandera faction (the OUN-B), originally formed in Volyn (northwestern Ukraine) in the spring and summer of 1943. Its official date of creation is 14 October 1942, day of Intercession of the Theotokos feast.

    The OUN’s stated immediate goal was the re-establishment of a united, independent national state on Ukrainian ethnic territory. Violence was accepted as a political tool against foreign as well as domestic enemies of their cause, which was to be achieved by a national revolution led by a dictatorship

    and further on:

    Beginning in 1943, the UPA adopted a policy of massacring and expelling the Polish population of Volhynia and Eastern Galicia. The ethnic cleansing operation against the ethnic Polish population began on a large scale in late February of that year and lasted until the end of 1944. In Volhynia deadly acts of aggression, including the mass murder of Poles, occurred throughout 1943 before spreading to eastern Galicia in early 1944. In June 1943, Dmytro Klyachkivsky head-commander of UPA-North made a general decision to exterminate all male Poles living in Volhynia. July 11, 1943, was one of the bloodiest days of the massacres, with UPA units marching from village to village, killing Polish civilians. On that day UPA units surrounded and attacked 99 of Polish villages and settlements in three counties – Kowel, Horochow, and Włodzimierz Wołyński. On the following day fifty additional villages were attacked.

    Between August 21 and 25, 1943, during the Third Convention of the OUN, Roman Shukhevych accepted the “Volhynia stategy,” an operation which aimed at Poles and had been conducted by Dmytro Klyachkivsky.

    The methods used by the Ukrainian nationalists in both Galicia and Volhynia consisted of killing all Poles in the villages, then pillaging the villages and burning them to the ground. Victims, regardless of age or gender, were routinely tortured to death.

    Nice people, eh?

    How can a ‘nationalist’ be ‘far right’? – anabasis@59

    Easily. The distinction between left and right is the attitude to socio-economic equality: the left favours it, the right opposes it. Not all nationalists are far-right, but belief in the intrinsic superiority of their “race” or “nation” andor expulsion/segregation of those who they consider do not beling to it – classic traits shared by Nazis, other fascists, and many conservatives – are in fact exactly what is referred to as “far right” in political discourse. You don’t get to redefine political terminology to suit yourself.

    anabasis@65, 67,
    Of course the Nazis were not socialist, as is obvious from the facts that they attracted so much financial support from big business, that they suppressed trades unions and murdered their leaders as well as leaders and numerous members of the Social Democratic and Communist parties; that their supporters abroad were almost exclusively drawn from the conservative right. The fact that they included “socialist” in their name no more makes them socialist than the fact that north Korea calls itself a “Democratic People’s Republic” means it is democratic.

    National socialism imprisoned political communists, not political socialists.

    That’s a barefaced, brazen, outright lie. The Social Democratic Party was the only party to vote against the Enabling Act which established Hitler’s dictatorship (the Communists having already been expelled from the Reichstag). The party was banned in 1933 and many of its members killed or imprisoned. The party continued its existence in exile (successivley in Czechoslovakia, France and Britain), and many of its members fought against the Nazi-backed Franco forces in Spain.

    They abolished the bicycle taxes in the Netherlands after moving in, allowing people who pedaled to work to keep more of their earnings.

    Are you fucking serious? Is this supposed to establish their left-wing credentials?

  75. 75
    Nick Gotts

    I’ll try and explain the ways of the world zenlike. – anabasis@70

    You’d need to take your head out of your arse and look at it first.

    The communists are another story entirely and were expunged for reasons rooted in ethical considerations. They are essentially extreme right-wingers

    Ah, so everyone except you is using the terms”left” and “right” wrongly. No, as I said, you don’t get to redefine political terminology to suit your own fuckwitted ideas – if they can even be described as such.

    The experiment in Germany leads us to believe that IQ and military prowess are interrelated.

    WTF is this even supposed to mean?

  76. 76
    Al Dente

    Daz @72

    The late Gerard Hoffnung had a comedy routine about being a tourist guide in Britain. One of the lines in it was “When driving in traffic ignore all left and right signs, these are merely political slogans.”

  77. 77
    zenlike

    anabasis, and? What the fuck has that do do with anything said before? You are a fucking moron, a condescending asshole who has zero reason to be condescending because you have no fucking clue or non-idiotic thought in your head.

  78. 78
    Nick Gotts

    rq@54,

    I’m afraid I don’t quite see your point with Egypt and Thailand, except that one seems to have done worse and the other… the opposition keeps sabotaging the institutionalized methods that are supposed to work (and seem to be working), because the governing party is doing well enough for the people to keep electing them? How does that compare to Ukraine? I’m confused.

    What’s to be confused about? In all cases, you have attempts to overthrow an elected leader by street protests sufficiently large andor violent to make normal life impossible, rather than trying to gain a majority at elections. I’m not saying there are no cases where this is justified – if it’s clear elections won’t happen or will be rigged, for example – but the fact that there are large street protests does not guarantee either that they represent the “demands” of “the people”, or that democracy is likely to follow a successful toppling of the leader – apart from anything else, they establish a precedent.

    And finally, the “armed fascists” aren’t the only ones on the streets, they are not the only option. Not by a long shot, and it’s not even clear that they’re necessarily the dominating portion – I don’t deny that they are many, but it is not clear that they are the majority, or that they are even in charge (at least not in all areas), or will be. Stop lumping all the protesters together.

    I’m not accusing you of supporting fascists, but I do think you are being extremely naive. I’ve seen no efforts by the non-fascists to distance themselves from the fascists, so they are lumping themselves together. I’m not going to support anyone willing to collaborate with fascists; and fascists never collaborate honestly with anyone.

    Moreover, opinion polls in western Ukraine show strong approval for Stefan Bandera, who declared an independent Ukrainian state at the start of the Nazi invasion of the USSR. The declaration said that the new state:

    will work closely with the National-Socialist Greater Germany, under the leadership of its leader Adolf Hitler which is forming a new order in Europe and the world and is helping the Ukrainian People to free itself from Moscovite occupation.

    In May 1941, shortly before the invasion, Bandera’s organization, the OUN-B, ordered the removal of hostile Poles, Jews, and Russians via deportation and the destruction of their respective intelligentsias, stating further that the “so-called Polish peasants must be assimilated” and to “destroy their leaders.” In short, Ukranian nationalism is deeply infected with racist, fascist and antisemitic ideas.

  79. 79
    anabasis
  80. 80
    timgueguen

    I see red in anabasis`s future.

  81. 81
    Rey Fox

    It is between the Alphas and the Betas that Nature’s Artificial Law applies.

    Fluid dynamics is a consequence, not a root. The root is biological.

    The experiment in Germany leads us to believe that IQ and military prowess are interrelated.

    I love Non Sequitur Sunday.

  82. 82
    rq

    The root is biological.

    Beets or parsnips?

    Nick
    It’s rather amusing, because I keep thinking you’re being naive in the other direction. *sigh* I just don’t think we’ll agree on this.
    Yes, “Ukrainian nationalism is deeply infected with racist, fascist and antisemitic ideas.” It’s the same with the nationalistic parties here, and unfortunately, they get enough of a portion of the vote that they have to be dealt with politically. They’ll have to be dealt with politically in Ukraine, too, without question, because (again) unfortunately, there are people who will vote for them.
    It’s practically impossible not to have to deal with them. Should the non-fascist protesters distance themselves from them? Without a doubt. Hopefully things will settle a bit and let them look forward, and they will do so. They’ve been rather busy lately. :)

    (Also, street protests may establish precedent – and they may not. Recalling the barricades of ’91 in Riga, that’s been pretty much the only public protest-in-the-streets that has occurred here – besides some minor rioting in January 2009 – and I don’t think that sort of public apathy has done well for the country. Sadly.)

  83. 83
    Mobius

    This is good news. Things were looking dicey in the Ukraine for a while, as recently as last Friday.

    As for “fascist”. I do not think that word means what he thinks it means.

  84. 84
    ledasmom

    #59 (anabasis):

    By my logic, a nationalist would seek to advance the interests of his nation and those who live in it while a ‘far right’ person would seek to increase his own wealth

    If we look at the first three words of this quote, we may be able to tease out where anabasis has gone wrong.

  85. 85
    Rob Grigjanis

    Anabasis is Greek for ‘ascent’. Nice, but katabasis might be more accurate.

  86. 86
    Terska

    I know the Ukrainian Insurgent Army massacred Poles. Someone above was claiming Bandera was a Nazi. I don’t believe Bandera was a follower of Adolph Hitler. A collaborator at times for sure but then an enemy of Germany. I was trying to convey the complicated nature of this messed up part of the world. The Finns collaborated with Germany out of self interest but there were not very many Nazi’s in Finland and with only a few exceptions Jews were left alone. The Finns eventually fought a short war with Germany to throw them out. The Germans leveled Lapland on their retreat out through the Arctic into occupied Norway.

    This part of history was largely unknown until the collapse of the USSR. WWII in this part of Ukraine was largely a three way war. Germany vs the USSR vs Ukrainian guerrillas that fought against both of them and then against the Soviets for many years after the war ended. All side were responsible for atrocities.

  87. 87
    anuran

    Lately I’ve been hearing a steady drone of “CIA”, “Fascists” and “George Soros”.

    To anyone familiar with the the region these are dog-whistle words on a par with “International Bankers”, “Urban thugs” or “Welfare Queens” in America. It’s the old Soviet and Russian paranoid style. For foreign cameras you blame the Fascists and the Americans. It gets the whole Great Patriotic War and Cold War reflexes going without Godwinating out the gate. Of course, after a couple days feel free to call them Nazis (as many pundits do).

    For private consumption it has to be The Jew. Hence all the propaganda sound bites about how they’re being paid by “George Soros” in particular or “Foreign bankers”. It’s hard for an outsider to realize how deep the hatred of Jews runs in Central and Eastern Europe from the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion to pogroms to today where oppression of Jews is integral to the platforms of respectable Parties during election time.

  88. 88
    David Marjanović

    It’ll be interesting to see if Ukraine can stay united. It’s torn strongly between East-West. It always has been

    Well, yeah, but this time the political division doesn’t like up very well with the east/west divide. Yanukovych is fluent in Ukrainian, Klichko is not… the Right Sector doesn’t care about the language divide…

    4. Do you have any evidence that the President STOLE or EMBEZZLED money public money in a large scale?

    As the video says, there’s no fucking way his salary could have paid for that kind of castle + park + private zoo. The rest of the money must have come from some kind of corruption. Embezzled Ukrainian tax money? Bribes from Putin? Profit from trade in something illegal? I have no idea, PZ hasn’t claimed to have any idea; we’ll see, I hope.

    The key idea is indeed “the Ukraines strategic location” – it is located on the Black Sea. It was bad enough when both Greece and Turkey became members of NATO – thus affording NATO the ability to block the Soviet navy from using the Black Sea in any meaningful way when it came to warships. (This is one reason, and I think the overwhelming reason, that Russia is so interested in what is going on in Syria.) A government in Kiev friendly to NATO would pose the risk of the Ukraine allowing “friendly port calls” by American warships. The Russians have good reason to not want the U. S. Navy in the Black Sea, but they have far more to worry about if we had friendly bases there…

    Makes sense.

    and historically the two states were close allies

    *snortle* Historically, the Ukraine was not a state. :-D First it all belonged to the Kievan Rus’, then the western half belonged to Poland-Lithuania, then the western end belonged to Austria-Hungary and the rest to Russia…

    Czechoslavakia split into Czech and Slovakia and it hasn’t been a big deal.

    Perhaps because they had already been two distinct countries before being joined in the Czechoslovakian federation.

    Only during WWII, when “Bohemia and Moravia” was a German “protectorate” while Slovakia had its own fascist puppet dictator.

    Amusingly, Wikipedia says “Svoboda’s socioeconomic platform has been described as similar to that of the Republican Party for the United States…”

    *snortle*

    It’s scary, especially with Putin already having made promises of intervening in Crimea “if needed”.

    I didn’t know he had done that. That is scary.

    By the way, the name of the country is Ukraine. It is not “The Ukraine”. The latter is a reminder of occupation and the country being part of the USSR.

    …What sense does that make? Neither Ukrainian nor Russian have articles in their grammars.

    I’ve seen no efforts by the non-fascists to distance themselves from the fascists, so they are lumping themselves together.

    True.

    and fascists never collaborate honestly with anyone.

    Also true – even with each other, fascist organizations have never collaborated honestly.

  89. 89
    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    By the way, the name of the country is Ukraine. It is not “The Ukraine”. The latter is a reminder of occupation and the country being part of the USSR.

    …What sense does that make? Neither Ukrainian nor Russian have articles in their grammars.

    That really jumped out at me, too. I’ve been “fatigued into compliance”, I suppose, in dropping the articles from the Lebanon, and the Labrador, and the Gambia, and even the calculus (grr…), but the Sudan and the Ukraine are the hills I’ve chosen to die on.

  90. 90
    Terska

    Commenters here are usually quite sensitive to what groups of people prefer to be called. The Ukraine implies it is merely a province under Russian rule. One can understand why this might make Ukrainians irritated considering 1/4 of their population was deliberately starved to death in the 1930′s in a man made famine by implemented by Moscow. One can also understand why the Germans were considered liberators when they invaded in 1941.

    I know a German apologist that excuses the invasion of Poland because they were not a real country without real borders. Putin feels the same contempt for Ukrainian independence that you do and would likely win Russian support a Russian take over of Ukraine. Ukraine is a mess and Russian and German interference made it so. It never recovered from WWII and it has yet to recover from Soviet occupation. Perhaps it never will. There are plenty of bad players in this new revolution to screw things up again.


    *snortle* Historically, the Ukraine was not a state. :-D First it all belonged to the Kievan Rus’, then the western half belonged to Poland-Lithuania, then the western end belonged to Austria-Hungary and the rest to Russia…

  91. 91
    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge

    The Ukraine implies it is merely a province under Russian rule.

    It doesn’t imply any such thing. It’s just a name, of which the article is a part. It was the Ukraine before it was ruled by Russia, when it was making a living raiding the Crimean Tartars. There’s no insult involved in the use of the article. Are the people of the Hague in the Netherlands, being insulted?

  92. 92
    Terska


    It doesn’t imply any such thing. It’s just a name, of which the article is a part. It was the Ukraine before it was ruled by Russia, when it was making a living raiding the Crimean Tartars. There’s no insult involved in the use of the article. Are the people of the Hague in the Netherlands, being insulted? ,

    I know someone that says the same thing about the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians. Let Ukrainians decide the name of their country. Putting the article in front of the country name is a relic of colonialism and occupation.

    http://www.infoukes.com/faq/the_ukraine/

  93. 93
    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge

    Putting the article in front of the country name is a relic of colonialism and occupation.

    Absolute fucking bullshit. It’s just necessary to not sound like an illiterate. And what in the name of all that’s holy, does the Washington Redskins, etc., have to do with anything?

  94. 94
    Terska

    An important quote in the link above “A few neanderthal writers in the past have even promoted “the Ukraine” to reflect the original meaning “the borderland” in order to diminish the international political stature of Ukraine. They betrayed their ignorance of Ukraine, or their bias against it, with this usage. See for example, the view of Robert 0. Grover in the U.S. News & World Report (Dec. 9, 1991).”

    It’s insulting if Ukrainians think it is insulting.

  95. 95
    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge

    Terska, repeating this crap doesn’t make it true. Believe me, nobody here wants to diminish or insult the Ukraine. If the fact that their name means “the borderland” is felt as a snub, why don’t they come up with a new name?

    The only point I’m trying to make is that when the language gradually decays by having all these fine points (where to use an article, for example) worn off, something is lost, if only elegance.

    Let’s take the Labrador. The first Portuguese sailor to spot it from one of the Corte Real’s ships was a lowly labrador—not a marineiro, a trained seaman, but a simple untrained body swept up off the dock to fill the ship’s roster. The captain twitted his seamen and officers for being so upstaged by naming the country Terra do Labrador—Land of the Laborer. When the article finally disappears from the name the last remembrance of this anonymous hero is gone. And that’s a little sad.

  96. 96
    chigau (違う)

    Where is ‘the Labrador’?

  97. 97
    Rob Grigjanis

    TVRBoK: Is joke, yes?.

    1498: Sighted by João Fernandes Lavrador, who gave “Labrador” its name

  98. 98
    chigau (違う)

    Most authorities credit the origin of the name Labrador to João Fernandes, a Portuguese explorer and llavrador, ‘land holder’, from the Azores. At first, the name Labrador was applied to what was then thought to be a continous mainland from Greenland to Newfoundland. Later, when it became clear that Greenland was separated from the North American coast by Baffin Bay and Davis Strait, the name Labrador ‘shifted’ to indicate the neighbouring mainland coast.

    Source: Hamilton, William B. (1996): Place Names of Atlantic Canada, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, pp. 224, 6.

    from

    https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/earth-sciences/geography/place-names/education-resources/9198

  99. 99
    timgueguen

    The only time I’ve ever heard anyone say “the Labrador” has been when they’re talking about the dog breed.

  100. 100
    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge

    The story I related I got fro Samuel Eliot Morison, so if he was wrong, that’s too bad…takes a little romance out of the whole thing.

    If you watch Canadian TV, quite often they’ll say “The New Found Land”, too—just like that, equal stress on all four syllables.

    The bottom line in this whole discussion, which I shouldn’t have sidetracked, is that I don’t really need usage notes on the definite article in English from speakers of a language without one. There is no conceivable insult involved in its use. Let them go pick on French speakers—they use the definite article a lot more heavily than we do!

  101. 101
    anteprepro

    This is what I suspected. From the Pfft:

    The form “the Ukraine” was once usual in English.[19] Since the Declaration of Independence of Ukraine, the English-speaking world has largely stopped using the article.[20][21][22]

    Linked articles:

    First:

    The “the” is gone. As of December 3, [1991] the Associated Press changed its style, alerting its editors, reporters and all who use the news service to the fact that the name of the Ukrainian republic would henceforth be written as simply “Ukraine.”….

    “The AP will also drop the article ‘the’ that has preceded the word “Ukraine.” This is in line with the English-language usage preferred by Ukraine’s government.

    That same day, The New York Times for the first time carried a dateline of “Kiev, Ukraine,” in its news stories and used the name “Ukraine” without the preceding definite article.

    Second:

    “Ukraine is both the conventional short and long name of the country,” she says. “This name is stated in the Ukrainian Declaration of Independence and Constitution.”

    The use of the article relates to the time before independence in 1991, when Ukraine was a republic of the Soviet Union known as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, she says. Since then, it should be merely Ukraine.

    There is no definite article in the Ukrainian or Russian languages and there is another theory why it crept into the English language.

    Those who called it “the Ukraine” in English must have known that the word meant “borderland”, says Anatoly Liberman, a professor at the University of Minnesota with a specialism in etymology. So they referred to it as “the borderland”.

    “After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukrainians probably decided that the article denigrated their country [by identifying it as a part of Russia] and abolished ‘the’ while speaking English, so now it is simply Ukraine.

    “That’s why the Ukraine suddenly lost its article in the last 20 years, it’s a sort of linguistic independence in Europe, it’s hugely symbolic.”

    Third:

    Both of these possibilities are united by one thing — a sense of being on the periphery of power. While the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was one of the founding members of the U.S.S.R., it was politically dominated by its bigger, brawnier neighbor — Russia — and many Ukrainians remember this well: In particular, Joseph Stalin’s aggressive agricultural policies are believed to have led to millions of Ukrainians dying from famine. Even before the U.S.S.R. was formed, most of Ukraine was part of the Russian empire by the 18th century, during which time it was referred to as “Little Russia.”

  102. 102
    chigau (違う)

    I am Canadian and have been watching Canadian TV for almost 60 years and I have never heard Newfoundland referred to as The Newfoundland.

  103. 103
    Rob Grigjanis

    Seconding chigau, although I’ve only been watching Canadian telly, and talking to the occasional Newfoundlander, for 45 years. Maybe we can ask Rex Murphy to address this. And the pronunciation is, more or less, ‘noo-f’n-land’

  104. 104
    anteprepro

    Here in New England, also never The Newfoundland, and pronounced like New Finland. Which should totally be a thing.

  105. 105
    alexanderz

    David Marjanović #88:

    It’s scary, especially with Putin already having made promises of intervening in Crimea “if needed”.

    I didn’t know he had done that. That is scary.

    It’s even worse when you consider that Russia already has a large military base in Crimea. All the have to do is give one command to the Black Sea fleet and Sevastopol is theirs.

    The only good thing in that scenario is that an occupation of Crimea will likely unify Ukrainians. The bad thing is that it may unify them under the ultra-nationalists’ rule.

    Beatrice #71:
    My mistake. When you said “Look at us the real Ukrainian people.” I took it literally.

  106. 106
    Tom J

    “Can we have one of these here too?”

    You mean – can we kick out Obama and his band of crony capitalists trying to exploit the working poor and enrich their friends? Yes…if we vote something other than Democrat in the next election…

  107. 107
    chigau (違う)

    Tom J
    Who gave you permission to post outside the McNutt thread?

  108. 108
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Yes…if we vote something other than Democrat in the next election…

    Since the only other viable (electable) party is the rethuglicans, I’m going to put your suggestion in the toilet, where it belongs.

  109. 109
    Travis

    You mean – can we kick out Obama and his band of crony capitalists trying to exploit the working poor and enrich their friends? Yes…if we vote something other than Democrat in the next election…

    I really think that Americans that want to support third parties have to stop obsessing over the Presidential election. It is just not going to happen at this time. Until a third party has some real support elsewhere it is rather pointless. Start by getting third party support in local elections, get them elected to state legislatures, congress and the senate. Your Presidential elections are a winner take all affair whereas having a significant block of third party members in congress could actually gain concessions and be pivotal by holding the balance of power. Until they start to become a viable option elsewhere the Presidential elections are just going to be a vanity project.

  110. 110
    anteprepro

    You mean – can we kick out Obama and his band of crony capitalists trying to exploit the working poor and enrich their friends? Yes…if we vote something other than Democrat in the next election…

    Democrats are to blame for crony capitalists, exploiting the poor, and enriching the rich? This problem will be solved by voting Republican? Wow. Are right-wingers ever not wrong? About anything?

  111. 111
    David Marjanović

    I know a German apologist that excuses the invasion of Poland because they were not a real country without real borders.

    What. That’s a wrong conclusion that doesn’t even follow from its wrong premise.

    Putin feels the same contempt for Ukrainian independence that you do

    Please tell me who in this thread feels any contempt for Ukrainian independence.

    Ukraine is a mess and Russian and German interference made it so. It never recovered from WWII and it has yet to recover from Soviet occupation. [...] There are plenty of bad players in this new revolution to screw things up again.

    I agree.

    *snortle* Historically, the Ukraine was not a state. :-D First it all belonged to the Kievan Rus’, then the western half belonged to Poland-Lithuania, then the western end belonged to Austria-Hungary and the rest to Russia…

    Why do you quote this response to the silly statement that “historically the two states [Russia, Ukraine] were close allies” without any comment?

    The only time I’ve ever heard anyone say “the Labrador” has been when they’re talking about the dog breed.

    Same for me, even in German.

    The form “the Ukraine” was once usual in English.[19] Since the Declaration of Independence of Ukraine, the English-speaking world has largely stopped using the article.[20][21][22]

    Ah, that’s an argument.

    Even before the U.S.S.R. was formed, most of Ukraine was part of the Russian empire by the 18th century, during which time it was referred to as “Little Russia.”

    Worse. Well into the 20th century, prehistorians referred to “the southern Russian steppe”, most of which is Ukrainian.

    It’s even worse when you consider that Russia already has a large military base in Crimea. All the have to do is give one command to the Black Sea fleet and Sevastopol is theirs.

    Argh.

  112. 112
    David Marjanović

    Same for me, even in German.

    …which is relevant because of a fact I deleted before I submitted that comment: German uses articles with more countries than English. Turkey, Mongolia, Iran and Iraq are examples.

  113. 113
    ck

    Rob Grigjanis wrote:

    And the pronunciation is, more or less, ‘noo-f’n-land’

    I’ve never heard to it as the Newfoundland either. The only time I’ve seen the English definite article adjacent to the province name is when it was referring to something from the province, like the Newfoundland Premier, for instance.

    Re: pronunciation: Just about everyone drops the middle ‘d’ in the name, although out west, I do hear the name pronounced as three words occasionally. In the maritimes, I’ve heard the ‘a’ in ‘land’ mutate into a short ‘u’-sound instead, too.

  114. 114
    chigau (違う)

    There are no “d”s in Newfoundland
    noofnlaen

  115. 115
    Nick Gotts

    More fascistinating fascinating developments in Ukraine!

    Particularly fascinating members of the new government:

    Oleksandr Sych

    Oleksandr Sych, 49, was appointed deputy prime minister. This Svoboda Party member from Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast had a swift rise since his party made it to parliament. He has made some highly controversial moves in parliament since his election.

    One of his legal initiatives was an attempt to ban all abortions, even for pregnancies that occurred during rape, an idea that caused a massive outcry among human rights groups. He also famously recommended women to “lead the kind of lifestyle to avoid the risk of rape, including one from drinking alcohol and being in controversial company.” It’s not clear what area of the economy he will supervise as deputy prime minister.

    [Reminder: the Svoboda Party is a political ally of the Nazi-led UK's British National Party, and the antisemitic and anti-Roma thugs of Hungary's Jobbik.]

    Yuriy Prodan

    Russian-born Yuriy Prodan, 55, had already been in this job under President Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in 2007-2010. He had previously worked in Kyivenergo, the capital’s energy monopoly supplier, and played a central role in creation of the National Energy Market. Despite its name, it has become a poorly controlled state monopoly for sale of electricity. Prodan has been described by the Ukrainian media as a person close to Privat Group of controversial billionaire Igor Kolomoisky.

    Oleksandr Shlapak

    The Finance Ministry was taken over by Russian-born, Lviv-educated Oleksandr Shlapak. A former deputy head of PrivatBank, he is also a representative of the Kolomoisky group in the new Cabinet. In his previous government incarnations, he has served as President Leonid Kuchma’s economy minister and deputy head of the President Yushchenko’s secretariat, among other. Shlapak was one of the witnesses for prosecution during the Tymoshenko trial, which sent her to jail for seven years.

    Serhiy Kvit

    New Education Minister Serhiy Kvit, 48, has worked as President of Kyiv-Mohyla University since 2007. The school is considered one of the best in Ukraine, but has not developed much in 2007. Kvit has been a member of right-wing organizations in Ukraine, and an ardent enemy of previous Education Minister Dmytro Tabachnyk.

    Lyudmyla Denysova

    New Minister for Social Issues Lyudmyla Denysova has been in governments before, and is no stranger to controversies. She served in the same job under Prime Minister Tymoshenko in 2007-2010, and has been a parliament deputy of three convocations. Chesno, a pro-transparency non-government campaign, said in 2012 that there is a “high probability” that Denysova was involved in nepotism and abused power. In particular, the State Security Service discovered Hr 60 million worth of embezzlement in her ministry, but no criminal case was ever started.

    Andriy Mokhnyk

    Two Svoboda party members took over the ecology ministry and the agriculture ministry. Andriy Mokhnyk, 42-year-old deputy head of Svoboda with three higher educations (none ecology-related), took over the ecology ministry. This may be bad news for international companies that have signed agreements with Ukraine to develop alternative energy sources because the party had organized fierce resistance campaigns across the nation.

    Oleksandr Myrnyi

    Oleksandr Myrnyi, 53, the new Agriculture Minister, is the only government member with no higher education. Despite that, he features in top 5 Svoboda’s higest earners, according to Forbes, after declaring an income of close to Hr 17 million in 2012. He business interests are concentrated in agriculture, which represents a conflict of interests in his current position.

    Arsen Avakov

    Arsen Avakov, 50, was confirmed as Interior Minister. A former head of the Kharkiv regional council and former head of Yushchenko’s presidential campaign in Kharkiv, he was accused of illegal privatization of land and abuse of power and was under criminal investigation by the previous government, which forced him to flee to Italy. His fellow party members said the case was politically motivated. Avakov has also founded and run a big business and a bank. He is one of the most authoritative members of Batkivshchyna at the moment, who emerged during the revolution.

    Another member of the fascist Svoboda Party, Oleh Makhnitskyy, has been appointed acting chief prosecutor. There were calls from demonstrators on the Maidan for Dmytro Yarosh, Fuehrer leader of the paramilitary “Right Sector”, which advocates a “National revolution” and considers Svoboda “too liberal”, to be given a security-related post. Watch this space.

    Glory to Ukraine!

  116. 116
    Nick Gotts

    To anyone familiar with the the region these are dog-whistle words on a par with “International Bankers”, “Urban thugs” or “Welfare Queens” in America. It’s the old Soviet and Russian paranoid style. For foreign cameras you blame the Fascists and the Americans. It gets the whole Great Patriotic War and Cold War reflexes going without Godwinating out the gate. Of course, after a couple days feel free to call them Nazis (as many pundits do). – anuran@87

    So, exactly how did Russia force Svoboda (see Svoboda members of the new Ukraine cabinet listed @115 along with the crooks and oligarch stooges) to ally itself with the BNP, Jobbik, and the fascists of Italy, Spain, Portugal, Sweden and Bulgaria? How did it force Svoboda’s leader to denounce the “Moscow-Jewish mafia”? How did it force Oleksandr Sych, now a deputy prime minister, to introduce legislation banning abortion even in cases of rape, and blaming rape on its victims?

    *crickets*

  117. 117
    Nick Gotts

    Someone above was claiming Bandera was a Nazi. I don’t believe Bandera was a follower of Adolph Hitler. – Terska@86

    Nope, no-one did. You should check before you make such claims – it’s easy enough. I and a couple of others noted that the Bandera’s political organisation, the OUN-B, and its military wing, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, were vicious racist thugs who were quite prepared to collaborate with the Nazis (but the Nazis wanted Ukraine as part of their Lebensraum). I also noted (#74, #78) a couple of points from their programme, which make it quite clear that if they weren’t Nazis, they had remarkably similar ideas.

    The Finns eventually fought a short war with Germany to throw them out.

    Once it was absolutely clear the Germans had lost the war. No cookie for the Finns.

  118. 118
    David Wilford

    I don’t know why someone didn’t post a link to this article by Timothy Snyder from the New York Review of Books, as it’s a much needed antidote to all the assumptions being made about the situation in the Ukraine currently, in particular with respect to the neo-Nazi claims being made:

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/mar/20/fascism-russia-and-ukraine/

    It’s not at all surprising that Russian thugs in the Crimea are now imitating the protestors in Kiev and that Yanukovych is now calling for help from Moscow. Putin wants the Ukraine in the Russian sphere of influence control and this is a very dangerous time for the new government, as Putin is of course seeking to undermine its legitimacy.

  119. 119
    Nick Gotts

    Look, Wilford@118, you tedious fuckwit, why don’t you tell us why Svoboda, which has several members in the new cabinet, chooses to ally itself with fascist parties if it’s not fascist, why its leader denounces the “Russian-Jewish mafia”if it’s not antisemitic, why polls show strong approval in western Ukraine for the racist and fascistic thug Stefan Bandera, why there were calls from the Maidan demonstrators for the leader of the “Right Sector”, who regards Svoboda as too liberal, to be given a government post? Just because Putin and his minions call people fascists, it doesn’t mean those people are not fascists.

  120. 120
    David Wilford

    Nick, just read Snyder’s piece. He’s a far better authority on the subject of fascism and the history of the region that you might suppose:

    http://www.amazon.com/Bloodlands-Europe-Between-Hitler-Stalin/dp/0465031471

    FYI, here’s another essay by Snyder about the history that needs to be remembered in the current political struggle for Ukraine:

    http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2010/sep/21/whos-afraid-ukrainian-history/

  121. 121
    David Wilford

    FYI Nick, here’s some background about Stefan Bandera in the context of Ukrainian nationalism that’s worth taking the time to read:

    http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2010/feb/24/a-fascist-hero-in-democratic-kiev/

  122. 122
    Terska

    #34 linked to an article in the Guradian that claimed Bandera fought with the Nazi’s and participated in the slaughter of Jews. Bandera was in a German concentration camp within a few days of the German invasion. Bandera’s group was more interested in removing Poles and Russians from Ukraine. As I said, all sides participated in slaughter of innocent people in the part of the world. There were no good guys. I’m glad Germany lost but they weren’t the only murderers.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stepan_Bandera

    “The intermittently close relationship between Bandera, the OUN and Nazi Germany have been described by historians such as David Marples as “ambivalent”, tactical and opportunistic, with both sides trying to exploit the other unsuccessfully.[23]”

    “Ukrainian nationalism did not include antisemitism as a core aspect of its program and saw Russians as well as Poles as the chief enemy with Jews playing a secondary role.[37] Nevertheless, Ukrainian nationalism was not immune to the influence of the antisemitic climate in the Eastern and Central Europe,[37] had already become highly racialized in the late 19th century, and had developed an elaborate anti-Jewish discourse.[38] However, Ukrainian nationalistic Jews were welcome in the Banderivtsy, provided their adoption of the identity of the Galician Karaites, who were regarded as loyal compatriots.[39]”

    ….”Bandera was thus not directly involved in those massacres, ( of Poles) although it cannot be ruled out that they would have occurred had he been present.[35]”

    …In 1942 German intelligence concluded that Ukrainian nationalists were indifferent to the plight of the Jews and were willing to either kill them or help them, depending on what better served their cause. Several Jews took part in Bandera’s underground movement,[49] including one of Bandera’s close associates Richard Yary who was also married to a Jewish woman. Another notable Jewish UPA member was Leyba-Itzik “Valeriy” Dombrovsky. According to a report to the Chief of the Security Police in Berlin dated March 30, 1942, “…it has been clearly established that the Bandera movement provided forged passports not only for its own members, but also for Jews.”.[50] The false papers were most likely supplied to Jewish doctors or skilled workers who could be useful for the movement.[51]
    When Bandera was in conflict with the Germans, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army under his authority sheltered many Jews.[52] and included Jewish fighters and medical personnel.[53][54] In the official organ of the OUN-B’s leadership, instructions to OUN groups urged those groups to “liquidate the manifestations of harmful foreign influence, particularly the German racist concepts and practices.” [55] In summary, Bandera’s movement sometimes harmed and sometimes helped Jews depending on particular circumstances and on Bandera’s relationship with Germany.”

  123. 123
    Nick Gotts

    wilford,

    I have read Snyder’s piece, you numpty. It’s just a load of dishonest obfuscation of the fact that fascists are prominent in what is now the ruling elite of the Ukraine – alongside crooks and the minions of crooks – so I’m not in the least surprised you are recommending it. I notice you have no response to my questions@119.

  124. 124
    Nick Gotts

    Terska@122,

    Oh, well, if Bandera and his followers concentrated on murdering Russians and Poles, and only slaughtered Jews when it was advantageous to do so, clearly there’s no problem in him being regarded as a national hero.

    \snark

  125. 125
    David Wilford

    Nick, if you’re unable to figure out why someone like Bandera is held up as a hero by Ukrainians despite his fascist past (as Snyder does in the essay linked to @ 121), there’s not much point in taking you seriously on the subject because guilt by association is just a mug’s game. No, I don’t think it was smart to characterize Bandera as an official Hero but it is understandable given the recent past when Ukrainians suffered greatly under Soviet rule.

    The crisis in the Ukraine isn’t between two corrupt political parties, it’s between Ukrainian independence and Russian domination. I know which one of these is preferable and which is detestable. Do you?

  126. 126
    Nick Gotts

    David Wilford,
    Of course I can “figure out why” Bandera is held up as a hero – that doesn’t make it anything other than vile and disgusting.

    The crisis in the Ukraine isn’t between two corrupt political parties, it’s between Ukrainian independence and Russian domination. I know which one of these is preferable and which is detestable. Do you?

    I know you’re supporting fascists and thieves, but you’re too much of a moral coward to admit it even to yourself. I’m not going to take sides between two vile groups of racist, antisemitic, homophobic, misogynist, anti-democratic kleptocrats. What alarms me almost as much as the prospect of a war in Ukraine is the fact that the influence of fascists and criminals in the Ukranian opposition is systematically downplayed – in the news which most of the public will see, completely ignored – in the western media.

  127. 127
    Nick Gotts

    Incidentally, the “interim President”, Oleksander Turchynov, like his party leader Yulia Tymoshenko, was a close associate of Pavlo Lazarenko, former Ukranian prime minister – and former inmate of the US correctional system, having been convicted of money laundering, wire fraud and extortion. The indictment specifically mentions corrupt payments from Tymoshenko.

  128. 128
    Nick Gotts

    @126,

    “Ukranian opposition” should of course be “new Ukranian governing elite”.

  129. 129
    David Wilford

    Nick Gotts,

    That corruption has been endemic in the Ukraine is a fact, obviously. If that puts you off enough so you don’t think it matters if Putin manages to either make the Ukraine a client state again or if a civil war occurs incorporate a huge part of it as part of Russia proper, that’s your call. I’d rather support the side that, however corrupt, at least doesn’t represent a return to the Russian Empire.

  130. 130
    David Wilford

    Nick Gotts @ 128,

    I don’t think the protestors in Kiev were fighting and dying over which elite would be ruling them.

  131. 131
    Nick Gotts

    I’d rather support the side that, however corrupt, at least doesn’t represent a return to the Russian Empire. – David Wilford@129

    I apologise: you do admit your support for fascists and thieves.

    I don’t think the protestors in Kiev were fighting and dying over which elite would be ruling them.

    Many of the protestors are fascists, as is made quite clear by the prominence of the “Right Sector”, and calls in the Maidan for its leader to be given a security post in the new government. The rest have, at the least, collaborated with fascists. According to reports, the corrupt oligarch Tymoshenko received a mixed reception. How many of them actually want a tolerant democracy I have no idea, and nor do you; we certainly can’t trust western media to give an honest account.

  132. 132
    David Wilford

    Nick Gotts @ 131:

    Unless you know of a magic sparkle pony opposition party in the Ukraine, you can pick which alternative you prefer: an independent Ukraine or a satellite state of Russia. Those really are the stakes.

  133. 133
    Terska

    Ukraine is a text book incubator of extreme nationalism. Years of disgusting oppression by Germany and Russia, horrible atrocities and some of the most extreme poverty one could ever imagine.
    Sure there are Fascists in the Ukrainian independence movement but there are plenty of democrats. Urban democrats are in the majority. There is a coalition of various interests but younger people have one thing in common.. moving away from Russian control and corruption towards aligning with the EU. Russians will smear all Ukrainians with the fascist label as an excuse to protect their interests in Ukraine. Russia has plenty of their own fascists to worry about. Ukrainians see successes in Poland and want that for themselves.
    Western Ukraine largely subsistence farmers living off the land. There are no jobs. They eat what they grow. In the Soviet days a farmer could work construction jobs all winter in Siberia and come home for the summer with enough money to have a decent life. When the USSR dissolved all the jobs disappeared. These villages have no health care. No water or sewers. There is electricity for lighting, refrigeration and TV. Most of the roads are unpaved mud tracks through farm fields. The life expectancy is horrible. Death from alcoholism is common. Among the few old people alive there is a longing for the Soviet Union and Gorbachev is despised because they had jobs and interesting perks like cheap vacations that even a farmer could afford. The Germans are still despised. Young people either have to leave the farm and move to the city or die in poverty.

  134. 134
    Nick Gotts

    Sure there are Fascists in the Ukrainian independence movement but there are plenty of democrats. Urban democrats are in the majority. – Terska@133

    Then they should distance themselves from the present-day fascists, and genocidal scumbags like Bandera. Until they do that, their supposed democratic values are highly suspect. Are they really anything more than wanting more material goods? That’s an entirely understandable desire, but not evidence of commitment to democracy. I’ve seen no sign of any such distancing, either among the elite or among the Maidan crowds – rather the opposite. If you have evidence to the contrary, provide it.

  135. 135
    Nick Gotts

    David Wilford@132,

    No, I am under no obligation whatsoever to pick sides. Nor are you, but you choose to support fascists and thieves. What, by the way, do you actually propose should be done? Send in NATO forces? Threaten to nuke Moscow if Putin intervenes? Putin doesn’t have to send in troops to throttle Ukraine – just cut off gas supplies.

  136. 136
    David Wilford

    Nick Gotts @ 135:

    Here’s what being done as of today:

    IMF ‘Ready to Respond’ to Ukraine Aid Bid

    The International Monetary Fund will answer Ukraine’s call for financial help “at this critical moment in its history,” fund chief Christine Lagarde said Thursday.

    In the IMF’s first official statement on Ukraine since the country’s political crisis intensified last week, Lagarde said a fact-finding team will go to Kiev in the coming days to assess the financial needs.

    “We are ready to respond,” she said.

    The mission will help the IMF understand the economic situation and its officials will start discussing with Ukrainian authorities what reforms would be required in exchange for emergency loans, she added.

    Ukraine’s finance ministry has said it needs $35 billion for this year and next to avoid default. The political turmoil since the end of last year has roiled the economy, depleted the central bank’s reserves and sent its currency tumbling.

    Any financial help from the IMF for the country of 46 million is likely to come with tough conditions, including demands for budget cuts, structural reforms and a devaluation of the currency to make the economy more competitive. The IMF would also likely demand a sharp increase in the price of natural gas, which the country heavily subsidizes. …

    As for the use of force, it’s already been made clear that Russia’s 1994 Budapest agreement to honor the territorial integrity of the Ukraine is still in effect, and that includes supporting separatists who might try to secede in the east. I do not expect any sort of actual attack by Russia, not just because the political fallout would be considerable, but because attacking the Ukraine is a much bigger task than say attacking Georgia. Putin is certainly trying to leverage as much influence as he can by playing a game of nerves, and obviously it’s wise for the new government in Kiev to take Russian interests into account.

  137. 137
    Nick Gotts

    From Max Blumenthal:

    Oleh Tyahnybok, has called for the liberation of his country from the “Muscovite-Jewish mafia.” After the 2010 conviction of the Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk for his supporting role in the death of nearly 30,000 people at the Sobibor camp, Tyahnybok rushed to Germany to declare him a hero who was “fighting for truth.” In the Ukrainian parliament, where Svoboda holds an unprecedented 37 seats, Tyahnybok’s deputy Yuriy Mykhalchyshyn is fond of quoting Joseph Goebbels – he has even founded a think tank originally called “the Joseph Goebbels Political Research Center.” According to Per Anders Rudling, a leading academic expert on European neo-fascism, the self-described “socialist nationalist” Mykhalchyshyn is the main link between Svoboda’s official wing and neo-Nazi militias like Right Sector.

    Right Sector is a shadowy syndicate of self-described “autonomous nationalists” identified by their skinhead style of dress, ascetic lifestyle, and fascination with street violence. Armed with riot shields and clubs, the group’s cadres have manned the front lines of the Euromaidan battles this month, filling the air with their signature chant: “Ukraine above all!” In a recent Right Sector propaganda video [embedded at the bottom of this article], the group promised to fight “against degeneration and totalitarian liberalism, for traditional national morality and family values.”

    No doubt you’ll be contributing to the Joseph Goebbels Political Research Center, David Wilford. After all, you’ve chosen your side, it’s no use getting squeamish now.

  138. 138
    Nick Gotts

    David Wilford@136,

    So, the IMF will “help” if the new regime imposes further suffering on the already poverty-stricken Ukranian people. A better way of helping the fascists to gain complete power could hardly be devised. But I must have missed your explanation of how they will supply the gas when Russia cuts off the flow.

  139. 139
    David Wilford

    I’ll be charitable Nick and assume you’re really just being ignorant and taking the piss. Here’s why:

    After Yanukovych, Maidan’s Next Fight Will Be To Preserve a Ukraine Safe for Minorities

    Russia has likened the protests to pogroms, but Jews have joined the movement because what’s at stake is an independent future

    I’m sure there are anti-Semites among the protestors, but there are also Jews. I hope that doesn’t confuse you too much.

  140. 140
    David Wilford

    Nick Gotts @ 138:

    You’ve got to be kidding. Putin’s not going to turn off any gas supplies because his Gazprom supporters wouldn’t like not making money. As it is, Ukraine’s funds are running short so it’s rather a moot point. One of the reasons why is that gas has been heavily subsidized, which is something that can’t go on for much longer anyway given the dire financial situation.

  141. 141
    Nick Gotts

    Wilford@139,

    I’ve provided ample evidence of the key influence of fascists and antisemites in the new regime – they are in the cabinet. Whether there are Jews among the protestors (which I’m well aware is the case) is neither here nor there, nor is Russian antisemitism – the point is, you – along with the western establishment – are supporting fascists, antisemites and thieves.

    The article you link to is as thoroughly dishonest as you are in its almost complete omission of any reference to the role of fascists, which it sums up as:

    some nationalists have been involved in the current revolution

    Once again: fascists are in the cabinet, and running the prosecutor’s office. Fascist streetfighters have played a key role in the demonstrations, and fascist symbols have been prominently displayed.

    Putin’s not going to turn off any gas supplies because his Gazprom supporters wouldn’t like not making money.

    Since he’s done so in the past that statement is just a further revelation of your ignorance and stupidity.

  142. 142
    David Wilford

    Oh, I remember the past disputes over stealing gas well enough. In any case, things have now taking a dramatic turn for the worse in the Crimea as mysterious armed forces have taken control of two airports and Russian marines have surrounded a Ukrainian coast guard base.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/ukraine-armed-men-seize-airports-in-crimea-1.2554798

    http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ukraine-crisis/russian-forces-surround-coast-guard-base-ukraines-crimea-n40991

    I don’t think Russia can pull an Abkhazia on the Crimea, but…

  143. 143
    Terska

    A friend in Kiev sent me this translation of a popular meme on Facebook.

    If Russian loves Russia – he is a patriot
    If Ukrainian loves Ukraine – he is “Benderovskiy” nationalist (on the name of Stepan Bendera) (used in negative meaning)

    If Russian says “hohol” – he speaks ironically about fraternal nation in a kind way
    If Ukrainian says “moskal” – he presents his nationalist anti Russian nature

    If Russian doing protest rally – he is standing for his interests
    If Ukrainian protests – he is working for American money paid to him to support anti Russian policy

    If Russian president communicates with American president – he is promoting cooperation and relation between two countries
    If Ukrainian president communicates with American President – both of them make anti Russian plot

    If Russian speaks in Russian – he is just Russian
    If Ukrainian speaks in Ukrainian – he is “Petlyura nedobytyi” (Petlyura that should be killed but was not yet) – it’s very national Petlyura – one of the Ukrainian nationalists in the past

    If Russian President declare pro Russian slogans – he is normal president
    If Ukrainian President declare pro Ukrainian slogans – he is pro American and anti Russian president

    If Russian government does not agree with Ukrainian government – its stend for national interests
    If Ukrainian government does not agree with Russian government – “they are impudent” (slang version)

  144. 144
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Looks like Russia is using the opportunity to start a war in Ukraine.

  145. 145
    David Wilford

    It certainly does. I was wrong about such a blatant use of force by Putin.

  146. 146
    alexanderz

    I overestimate Putin every time. He really is a stupid thug.

    The main thing to remember is that no matter how bad things may seem, they can always get worse. For one thing, the Crimean Tatars aren’t thrilled about Russia’s return and many have claimed that they’ll start an insurgency if need be. For another, any change to the status quo in Crimea is sure to alarm Turkey, and if the Tatars are mistreated than it may feel itself forced to act in some way, perhaps even covertly providing weapons to secessionists.

  147. 147
    Nick Gotts

    Terska@143,

    And this “meme on Facebook” establishes what, exactly? I’d say Russian and Ukranian chauvinism, racism, antisemitism and fascism – widespread but of course by no means universal in both countries – are pretty much indistinguishable.

    David Wilford@145,
    Putin’s use of force is both wicked and dangerous, but hardly surprising after the example of Georgia. It was extremely foolish of the new regime in Kiev to give him excuses by breaking the EU-negotiated agreement (which would have boxed Yanukovych in and seen him out of the presidency by the end of the year), by appointing a government with almost no representation from eastern Ukraine and including several fascists*, and by downgrading the status of the Russian language – a signal to all ethnic Russians in Ukraine of what they could expect; but of course none of that justifies Putin’s flagrant breach of international law.

    *Since my last post, I’ve discovered that Andriy Parubiy, the new regime’s head of security, was a founder member of the openly neo-Nazi “Social-National Party of Ukraine” in 1991, along with the current leader of its successor, Svoboda, Oleh Tyahnybok. Parubiy is now supposedly an ex-Nazi, and is a member of the Batkivshchyna (“Fatherland”) Party of Yulia Tymoshenko, Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Oleksandr Turchynov – but would any responsible politician put even an ex-Nazi in charge of national security? I’ve also seen reports that Dmytro Yarosh, Fuehrer of “Right Sector”, (a) is now Parubiy’s deputy – see the linked article on Parubiy as well as the one on Yarosh – and (b) has called on the al-Qaeda linked Chechen militant Dokka Umarov to help Ukraine by resuming the fight against Russia (see the Yarosh link). However, it’s possible these reports are falsehoods planted by Putin’s minions.

  148. 148
    alexanderz

    Nick Gotts #147:

    and by downgrading the status of the Russian language

    That law has been vetoed. Obviously it would have been better had never been proposed, but so far Ukraine is acting with admirable restraint compared to Georgia which was aiming for war and did attempt forceful actions against its autonomous regions.

  149. 149
    Nick Gotts

    alexanderz@148,

    That veto is certainly welcome if it’s confirmed – so far I can only find a tweet, and an article in poor English from a site called Russian News. But I’ve now seen from additional sources that Dmytro Yarosh, the leader of the neo-Nazi Right Sector, has been appointed deputy to the supposedly ex-Nazi Andriy Parubiy, head of national security.

    so far Ukraine is acting with admirable restraint

    Well you could say that. If (for example) Vitali Klitschko was poking me in the chest and calling me names, I’d probably act with “admirable restraint” too! Particularly if my “friends” were telling me they were willing to click their tongues, wag their fingers and refuse to drink with him, but weren’t actually going to get involved if it came to a punch-up, as I imagine (and, let me say, hope) the new regime’s western backers have.

  150. 150
    Nick Gotts

    From BBC’s live thread on Ukraine crisis:

    China has voiced concern over the continuing crisis in Ukraine and urged talks to resolve it. Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said China sticks to the principle of non-interference in any country’s internal affairs and respects Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity, official Xinhua news agency reports – via BBC Monitoring.

    That just might give Putin pause: a potential US-China-EU lineup against him.

  151. 151
    Terska

    http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2014/mar/01/ukraine-haze-propaganda/

    A very interesting perspective on who makes up the protestors and the actions of the regime that led to the financial crisis.

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