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Current location: Kiev, Ukraine
Member since: Wed Oct 25, 2006, 02:04 PM
Number of posts: 1,852
Current location: Kiev, Ukraine
Member since: Wed Oct 25, 2006, 02:04 PM
Number of posts: 1,852
A group of Defense Militia members at EuroMaidan. On the left one gives a Nazi salute.
Sascha, Andrei, and Mira are members of AntiFascist Union Ukraine, a group that monitors and fights fascism in Ukraine. We sat down to talk about the influence of fascism in EuroMaidan, this is what they told me:
Sascha: There are lots of Nationalists here, including Nazis. They came from all over Ukraine, and they make up about 30% of protesters.
Mira: The two biggest groups are Svoboda and Pravy Sektor (Right Sector). The defense forces aren’t 100% Pravy but a large percentage is.
S: Svoboda is more legal as a group, but they also have an illegal militant faction. Pravy Sektor is more illegal, but they want to usurp Svoboda.
M: There’s a lot of infighting between Pravy and Svoboda. They worked together during the violence but now everything is calm so there’s time to focus on each other. Pravy and Svoboda both take donations and they have lots of money. Recently Pravy has all these new uniforms, military fatigues.
One of the worst things is that Pravy has this official structure. They are coordinated. You need passes to go certain places. They have the power to give or not give people permission to be active. We’re trying to be active but we have to avoid Nazis, and I’m not going to ask a Nazi for permission!
S: A group of 100 anarchists tried to arrange their own self-defense group, different Anarchist groups came together for a meeting on the Maidan. While they were meeting a group of Nazis came in a larger group, they had axes and baseball bats and sticks, helmets, they said it was their territory. They called the Anarchists things like Jews, blacks, Communists. There weren’t even any Communists, that was just an insult. The Anarchists weren’t expecting this and they left. People with other political views can’t stay in certain places, they aren’t tolerated.
Posted by MattSh | Thu Mar 6, 2014, 01:21 PM (2 replies)
Just hours after last weekend’s ouster of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, one of Pierre Omidyar’s newest hires at national security blog “The Intercept,” was already digging for the truth.
Marcy Wheeler, who is the new site’s “senior policy analyst,” speculated that the Ukraine revolution was likely a “coup” engineered by “deep” forces on behalf of “Pax Americana”:
Wheeler is partly correct. Pando has confirmed that the American government – in the form of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) – played a major role in funding opposition groups prior to the revolution. Moreover, a large percentage of the rest of the funding to those same groups came from a US billionaire who has previously worked closely with US government agencies to further his own business interests. This was by no means a US-backed “coup,” but clear evidence shows that US investment was a force multiplier for many of the groups involved in overthrowing Yanukovych.
But that’s not the shocking part.
What’s shocking is the name of the billionaire who co-invested with the US government (or as Wheeler put it: the “dark deep force” acting on behalf of “Pax Americana”).
Yes, in the annals of independent media, this might be the strangest twist ever: According to financial disclosures and reports seen by Pando, the founder and publisher of Glenn Greenwald’s government-bashing blog,“The Intercept,” co-invested with the US government to help fund regime change in Ukraine.
Step out of the shadows…. Wheeler’s boss, Pierre Omidyar.
Posted by MattSh | Mon Mar 3, 2014, 07:07 AM (16 replies)
Posted by MattSh | Sun Mar 2, 2014, 12:18 PM (5 replies)
Bank Run Full Frontal: Ukrainians Withdrew 7% Of All Deposits In Two Days
Well that escalated quickly. It seems the ouster of Yanukovych, heralded by so many in the West as a positive, has done nothing to quell the fear of further economic collapse in Ukraine:
• *UKRAINIANS WITHDREW AS MUCH AS 7% OF DEPOSITS FEB. 18-20: KUBIV
• *DEPOSIT WITHDRAWALS STILL HIGH IN THE EAST, KUBIV SAYS
Ukraine's bonds resume fall; hryvnia hits record low
The hryvnia fell more than 6 percent on the day to 9.80 per dollar, on track for its biggest one-day loss since February 2009.
Ishitaa Sharma, a strategist at Citi said the hryvnia's slide was likely to add to jitters among the population, with many people left holding a depreciating currency.
"They are all looking for hard currency. There is no buyer out there for the hryvnia," Sharma said.
UPDATE: Current rate today is 10.15.
My Commentary on the above…
Okay, so in practical terms, what does this mean? Well first, this 7% number I find a bit astounding. Why? Because in the euro zone, it’s a general requirement that 1% be held in reserve. And while in the USA there is a 10% requirement, that only applies to checking accounts. So in all practicality, that number is a whole lot lower. So a 7% withdrawal rate would eliminate all cash reserves in most banks in the USA and in the Eurozone.
But let's look at this even closer. It's not likely at all that major corporations with operations in Ukraine are holding anything beyond a couple weeks operating expenses in Ukrainian banks. They’re not considered to be all that reliable. So the 7% number has nothing to do with a couple of major corporations moving money out of the country. They never had that money there in the first place.
Of course, this is not surprising. Especially among the older population, there's a strong memory of the collapse of the USSR and the ensuing collapse of the banks. Those who remember those times understand full well that you should have minimal trust in banks and that once things appear to be going downhill, you get your money out quickly.
So now, what are the practical effects of the second story? What do these numbers mean? For the last few years, the Ukrainian currency has generally been in a fairly stable range when compared to the US dollar at about an 8 to 1 ratio. Now the number is about 9.7 and I have already predicted the ratio hitting 12 to 1 before the May elections. Although now it appears even I may have been a bit optimistic about that. Time will tell.
At the 12 to 1 ratio, the practical effect of this is that any imported goods will see a 50% price increase as soon as it crosses the border. After that, there will likely be additional increases tacked on because the cost of transportation will also have increased. So, this must be good for domestic industries, correct?
Sadly, that is not correct. One of the biggest costs of any manufacturing operation is energy. Energy to run the factory, energy to build product, energy to extract resources, and energy to transport resources, both to and from a factory. Since energy is also an import, energy costs will rise 50% at least. I say at least because a recent agreement with Russia led to a 33% cut in the cost of Russian gas. Since it is not likely that Ukraine will uphold their end of that agreement, it's very likely that Russia will see no need to uphold their part of the agreement. And often, goods produced domestically have some imported content. That imported content will also cost more.
So, is this as bad as it gets? Sadly, the answer again is no. Everything that has happened up to this point has not yet taken into account austerity measures that will be imposed by any IMF agreement. Pensions and salaries at a minimum will be frozen; or worse, they may be cut. And on top of that, tax increases and new taxes will likely be introduced. The IMF will be paid back, one way or another.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union the population of Ukraine has already dropped about 10%. The current troubles will likely lead to a further drop, some to emigration and some to putting off having children. Those in the west of Ukraine will likely try to flee toward Europe, and can expect not to be welcomed. Those in the East would tend to head east toward Russia, an area they are more likely to get a warm welcome.
And I can tell you with absolute certainty that except maybe for the top 1%, nobody will be seeing raises this year anywhere close to 50%.
Posted by MattSh | Wed Feb 26, 2014, 10:21 AM (7 replies)
This article was likely written on Friday and posted on Saturday, so there are sections that are outdated already. Yet I found it to be a good read. Note that this is opinion of two people and not a hard news story.
And a link for the artist: http://goo.gl/yVdhjq
Posted by MattSh | Sun Feb 23, 2014, 08:56 AM (1 replies)
As an 8+ year resident of Kiev and living about 1.5 miles from the main EuroMaidan protests, I've seen a lot the last few months that I had never expected to see. A lot of what I'm going to say here is going to be controversial, precisely because of the pseudo-coverage these events received in the USA.
In general, I've always had this idea that if people are out in the streets protesting in large numbers, they have a very good reason to do so. But when these protests started, I was having trouble finding exactly what that very good reason was. I mean, come on, you're protesting the failure to accept a trade agreement that would impose Greek style austerity and devastate numerous domestic industries in the process? Seeing that wasn't all that appealing to many, it morphed into a protest against corruption, which is obvious and rampant here and much more appealing to the general population. But many could not overlook a couple of things. One is the fascists leanings of one of the main groups behind the protests, and that the protests were incredibly well organized and well funded and claiming it all came from ordinary Ukrainians didn't compute. I smelled a rat early on, and so have in general been against these protests, though there have been occasions where they almost won me over, to be followed a day or two later by the street doing something so stupid that I could no longer be on their side.
Let me just link to a couple of articles that I believe describes the complexity of the situation the last few months in Kiev.
Debate: Is Ukraine's Opposition a Democratic Movement or a Force of Right-Wing Extremism?
Now, what was that agreement? It would have been an economic catastrophe for Ukraine. I'm not talking about the intellectuals or the people who are well placed, about ordinary Ukrainians. The Ukrainian economy is on the brink of a meltdown. It needed billions of dollars. What did the European Union offer them? The same austerity policies that are ravaging Europe, and nothing more. $600 million. It needed billions and billions.
There's one other thing. If you read the protocols of the European offer to Ukraine, which has been interpreted in the West as just about civilizational change, escaping Russia, economics, democracy, there is a big clause on military cooperation. In effect, by signing this, Ukraine would have had to abide by NATO's military policies. What would that mean? That would mean drawing a new Cold War line, which used to be in Berlin, right through the heart of Slavic civilization, on Russia's borders. So that's where we're at to now.
One other point: These right-wing people, whom Anton thinks are not significant, all reports, and I don't know when he was in Ukraine, maybe it was long ago and things have gone, but the reports that are coming out of Ukraine are the following. One, the moderates, that's the former heavyweight champion boxer, Vitali Klitschko, and others, have lost control of the street. They've asked the people who have been attacking the police with Molotov cocktails, and to vacate the buildings they've occupied, to stop. And the street will not stop, partly because, I'd say largely because, the street in Kiev is now controlled by these right-wing extremists. And that extremism has spread to western Ukraine, where these people are occupying government buildings. So, in fact, you have a political civil war underway.
Ukraine and the Rebirth of Fascism in Europe
For its part, the United States has strongly come down on the side of the opposition, regardless of its political character. In early December, members of the US ruling establishment such as John McCain and Victoria Nuland were seen at Maidan lending their support to the protesters. However, as the character of the opposition has become apparent in recent days, the US and Western ruling class and its media machine have done little to condemn the fascist upsurge. Instead, their representatives have met with representatives of Right Sector and deemed them to be "no threat." In other words, the US and its allies have given their tacit approval for the continuation and proliferation of the violence in the name of their ultimate goal: regime change.
In an attempt to pry Ukraine out of the Russian sphere of influence, the US-EU-NATO alliance has, not for the first time, allied itself with fascists. Of course, for decades, millions in Latin America were disappeared or murdered by fascist paramilitary forces armed and supported by the United States. The mujahideen of Afghanistan, which later transmogrified into Al Qaeda, also extreme ideological reactionaries, were created and financed by the United States for the purposes of destabilizing Russia. And of course, there is the painful reality of Libya and, most recently Syria, where the United States and its allies finance and support extremist jihadis against a government that has refused to align with the US and Israel. There is a disturbing pattern here that has never been lost on keen political observers: the United States always makes common cause with right wing extremists and fascists for geopolitical gain.
Ukrainian Left-Wing Activists' Appeal to UN, EU, and USA: Don't Back Civil War & Fascist Coup in Ukraine!
1. The pretext for organizing the Euromaidan in Kiev was the refusal of the Government and the President of Ukraine to sign an Association Agreement with the EU. We draw your attention to the content of this document, for the sake of which the Parliamentary opposition led people to the Maidan. The heart of the Agreement is the complete loss of Ukraine's sovereignty through the transfer to supranational agencies (the Council of Association and the Committee on Trade) of decision-making authority, placing them juridically above the Constitution and laws of Ukraine. It has been unconditionally proven that this contradicts the Declaration on the National Sovereignty of Ukraine, the Constitution of Ukraine, and decisions of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine. It also contradicts the expression of the will of the people of Ukraine in the referenda of March 17 and December 1, 1991.
Implementation of the Association Agreement with the EU would indisputably lead to the destruction of the country's economy, industry, agriculture, service sector, and science.
Russia Under Attack
In a number of my articles I have explained that the Soviet Union served as a constraint on US power. The Soviet collapse unleashed the neoconservative drive for US world hegemony. Russia under Putin, China, and Iran are the only constraints on the neoconservative agenda.
Russia’s nuclear missiles and military technology make Russia the strongest military obstacle to US hegemony. To neutralize Russia, Washington broke the Reagan-Gorbachev agreements and expanded NATO into former constituent parts of the Soviet Empire and now intends to bring former constituent parts of Russia herself–Georgia and Ukraine–into NATO. Washington withdrew from the treaty that banned anti-ballistic missiles and has established anti-ballistic missile bases on Russia’s frontier. Washington changed its nuclear war doctrine to permit nuclear first strike.
All of this is aimed at degrading Russia’s deterrent, thereby reducing the ability of Russia to resist Washington’s will.
The Russian government (and also the government of Ukraine) foolishly permitted large numbers of US funded NGOs to operate as Washington’s agents under cover of “human rights organizations,” “building democracy,” etc. The “pussy riot” event was an operation designed to put Putin and Russia in a bad light. (The women were useful dupes.) The Western media attacks on the Sochi Olympics are part of the ridiculing and demonizing of Putin and Russia. Washington is determined that Putin and Russia will not be permitted any appearance of success in any area, whether diplomacy, sports, or human rights.
Posted by MattSh | Wed Feb 19, 2014, 08:30 AM (84 replies)
Less than a mile away.
Posted by MattSh | Tue Feb 18, 2014, 07:41 AM (17 replies)
Sochi on my mind: It is hard to think of an issue more politicized in Western media than the topic of Russia. It is commonplace to hear, read, and watch media reports claiming the worst possible things about Russia and Russians.
Criticisms are magnified even more when the subject is Vladimir Putin. While Russia does have a long list of issues to grapple with (like just about every other country in the world), the kind of media coverage it receives in turn engenders a serious security threat to the international system. Russia bashing is dangerous for us all.
Whether one likes it or not, Russia is an important power in the world. Having a seat on the UN Security Council confirms its voice will be heard. In fact, Russia often represents the concerns of most of the globe on the Security Council, although this is hardly ever pointed out by the western powers on the Council, particularly the United States. Russia is not a spoiler; rather it holds back the unilateral tendencies held by those in Western capitals. It is almost unthinkable that anyone in the mainstream would ever inform audiences of this reality.
The level of journalistic malpractice committed against Russia blinds Western electorates, poisons public opinion, and emboldens the reckless political class. The denigration of the Sochi Games was to be expected. Cheap shots, lazy reporting and maniacal commentary are a form of entertainment served up by Western mainstream media. The Games have come and will soon pass into history. But their impact will be felt long after.
Posted by MattSh | Fri Feb 14, 2014, 09:06 AM (12 replies)
From the Office of the Military-Industrial-Security Council
You've probably noticed lately that Americans are tiring of the War on Terror. And you've also noticed that after Syria and Iran, where else is there to profit in the Middle East in the War on Terror? I'll tell you. Absolutely nowhere. So we've got to keep focused five or ten years into the future to figure out where our next revenue stream will come from once the War on Terror runs its course. More on that later. Our immediate concerns now is with Syria.
We've got our boots on the ground with the rebel forces in Syria, working on another atrocity that we can pin on Assad and his forces. Did I just say another? You bet. As you know, that chemical attack was the work of "our" rebels, who would not even exist if it wasn't for USA involvement and funding. But our control of the story and the media, along with thousands of sock-puppet accounts on political sites both on the left and the right assured that the rebel's involvement would be overwhelmed by our control of the message.
Sock-puppets. I love that term. It makes what we do sound rather innocent, doesn't it?
Mark my word, this Syria setback for us is only temporary. My moles in State and Defense assure me that Obama had nothing to do with this current setback. It was that bumbling fool Kerry and that Putin who screwed us up. But don't worry. We're already at work making sure Kerry stays on message the next time, and we're taking steps to neutralize Mr. Putin's involvement. No, not in that manner. Too bad I never had an opportunity to go hunting with Vlad. I think we both would have had a blast!
Now don't get me wrong. Vlad is serving a very useful purpose. To us. Once a country's WMD's are secured and we know they can't be used against our troops, putting our troops on the ground is so much easier and politically feasible, with a whole lot less possibility for blow-back. Our quisling political "leaders" want to cover their asses, so this gives them that cover. And it ensures that those troops will stay longer and will bomb more frequently and indiscriminately, ensuring profits for us and our shareholders for the next couple of years. So thanks for your help Vlad!
So back to that future revenue stream. Where's it going to come from?
Americans are becoming tired of "Boots on the Ground" wars. So that's what we've got to focus on. And you all know what's the best model of a war with a ton of military spending and very few people getting killed. And that model is the Cold War. And if we play it right, Cold War II could be more profitable than both the original Cold War and the War on Terror. Combined. Now I know a few of you wanted to make China the target of Cold War II. But face it. A ton of our military components and replacement parts are sourced there, plus it's where all those electronic doodads that keep Americans so distracted come from. And a distracted American is a loyal American. So the Council nixed that idea.
No, the target of Cold War II will once again be Russia. They were such a good enemy before, and people still believe all that propaganda we fed them, even now, 30 and 40 and 50 years later. They still haven't figured out we made a lot of that shit up. So the first part is already in place. Plus, they've got oil. Plenty of it. They have a very visible public figure running that place, and a central target to demonize makes military spending so much easier to swallow. I mean, who the hell runs China anyway? And while our online sock-puppets are focused on more short-term issues, especially Syria, there's a lot of Russia hate already being whipped up on websites on both the left and the right. By their own members. (Suckers.) We've got the demonization of the Russian people and their religious beliefs and their leadership coming on strong. And when the left and right start demonizing the same country and the same people, you'll understand that Russia is the correct enemy.
Now, the left demonizing a whole group of people might surprise some, but not me. A lot of them like to fool themselves into believing that they stand for peace and love and tolerance and all that nonsense, but I've always called bullshit on that. You give them the right target and the right propaganda, and their militaristic side comes blasting through like a Tomahawk missile. Our monitors say its better than we would have hoped for at this point. Believe me, we'll soon have a strategy in place to keep this momentum going. What good is all this hate if we're not positioned to use it to our advantage?
There will be much, much more on this in an upcoming dispatch. In the meantime...
To a glorious and militaristic future...
The Military-Industrial-Security Council
Posted by MattSh | Mon Sep 16, 2013, 11:08 AM (4 replies)
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