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Tommy_Carcetti

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Member since: Tue Jul 10, 2007, 03:49 PM
Number of posts: 20,979

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Why President Yanukovych fled Ukraine--by Ukrainian journalist JV Koshiw

An excellent blog piece by Ukrainian journalist JV Koshiw giving a blow-by-blow analysis on former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukoych's last days in power in Ukraine in February 2014. This pretty much throws cold water on a lot of the conspiracy theories out there claiming that Yanukovych was deposed by a US backed "coup" and that the West is somehow to blame for the current crisis in Ukraine. A very good read.

__________________________________________________________________________________

http://www.jvkoshiw.com/#!Why-President-Yanukovych-fled-Ukraine/ck8a/F4D49016-F69F-45D6-AE4A-027C10E02B79


Why President Yanukovych fled Ukraine

April 23, 2014

On February 22, 2014, President Viktor Yanukovych left the president’s post vacant. But why? Wasn’t his presidency safe? The day before he had signed an agreement with the opposition, witnessed by three EU foreign ministers, that would have kept him as president until December 2014.

This analysis argues that Yanukovych decided to flee from the capital three days earlier, on February 19, after failing to wipe out the opposition with the "Operation Boomerang" police action. On that day he ordered his staff to begin packing his valuables. For the next three days, his property was placed into removal vans; once the process was over, early in the morning of February 22, he left.

Other explanations of why he abandoned his post do not reflect what actually happened. For example, Christian Neef in Yanukovych's Fall: The Power of Ukraine's Billionaires, Der Spiegel, February 25, 2014, credits the oligarchs Rinat Akhmetov and Dmytro Firtash with causing Yanukovych’s downfall, arguing that their supporters in parliament, 60 and 30 MPs respectively, voted with the opposition on February 20 to topple Yanukovych by removing his ability to use “anti-terrorist” actions against the protesters.

However, voting figures from that day show that very few of Akhmetov’s or Firtash’s MPs were present. As a matter of fact only 35 out of 205 MPs from the Party of Regions were in parliament to vote against Yanukovych.

Neither can the official opposition or Western diplomats be seen as the reason behind his departure, given that both sides had signed a document ensuring that he would remain president until the next election.

The facts on the ground also belie the repeated claims by President Putin and his minions that Yanukovych was toppled by a coup.

What happened was that Yanukovych removed himself from the president’s office after failing to exterminate the opposition with force. He literally gave up.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Much more at link.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Tue Sep 9, 2014, 12:52 PM (8 replies)

Even when Parry's not completely wrong, he still comes off as the huge hypocrite that he is.

He focuses strictly on the Azov battalion--one of several private militias currently operating in Ukraine independently of the command of Ukraine's army and national guard. And indeed there does seem to be a strong neo-Nazi ideology amongst members of this group. It is undoubtedly disturbing.

However, Parry being Parry, he makes several mistakes fatal to whatever he wants his ultimate point to be. First, he conflates the actions of private militias with those of the Ukrainian government. These are not Ukrainian government troops, period. That they may be conducting their own operations in the same theater does not mean they should be considered one and the same. Secondly, he seems to assume all the private militias are comprised with people with the same neo-Nazi type sentiments as you might find in Azov. You can't just assume--as Parry does--that all these militias are fighting under this mindset. And Azov's a relatively small force--only a few hundred fighters or so, many of whom aren't trained or equipped nearly as well as the regular army, so whatever ultimate impact they may have on the battlefield isn't exactly very clear.

Essentially, Asov's taken the bogeyman role on the pro-Russian side that Right Sector and Svoboda used to have before the presidential election revealed them to have very little public support amongst Ukrainians. The pro-Russian side (and Parry is, without a doubt, very pro-Russian) needs someone to point to so they can mark the Ukrainians and their government as neo-Nazi, or fascist, so to give a clear narrative that the people fighting them are fighting against fascism.

And that's where Parry's gross hypocrisy in this piece comes into play. He criticizes the "western media" for creating a "white hat vs. black hat" narrative with the Ukrainians and their government as the good guys and the separatists and the Russian government as the bad guys.

But that's exactly what he's been doing all along, since February, except in reverse. He's always painted the Ukrainian government in the most unflattering of tones. See how he's insisted--without any evidence whatsoever--that what happened in February was a "coup", and a U.S. backed one at that. He framed the May 2nd mob violence in Odessa as some sort of modern day pogrom massacre of pro-Russian "anti-fascists" by Ukrainian "neo-Nazis" even though even a cursory look at the days events reveal it to be a much more complicated situation than that with both sides at fault.

He's never said a good thing about the Ukrainian government, and hasn't seemed to say anything bad about the separatists or the Russian government, which makes his agenda very questionable.

The truth is, yes, there are neo-Nazis living in Ukraine. There are also neo-Nazis and fascists living in Russia (see Aleksandr Dugin) and neo-Nazis and fascists fighting amongst the seperatists, but Parry won't have any of that. The sad thing is, neo-Nazis are just an unfortunate fact of life just about everywhere.

Parry's supporters insist he is still the principled "investigative journalist" of decades back, but the cold, hard truth is he researches little and reports nothing beyond what his agenda supports. For example, someone so seemingly obsessed with neo-Nazis and fascists in Ukraine would probably take note of the fact that Pavel Gubarev, the "people's governor" of Donetsk, was a proud member of Russian National Unity, a fascist/neo-Nazi paramilitary organization, and Gubarev to this date appears to be very proud of the association. But that runs contrary to Parry's own narrative. So the only mention Parry has ever made of Gubarev merely makes him out to have been some sort of political prisoner of the Ukrainian government:

http://consortiumnews.com/2014/04/04/the-age-of-the-oligarchs/

For the people who just looooove to quote Robert Parry because of what he did 30 years ago:

Robert Parry is not being honest with you. Robert Parry is a disingenuous, hypocritical hack. Still.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Mon Sep 8, 2014, 11:54 AM (0 replies)

Regarding all the claims that the West is to blame for the current situation in Ukraine:

(Note: I posted this in response to another thread, but given that there are several threads currently on DU all claiming the same premise--that Russia is not to blame for the current crisis in Ukraine, I figure it's best just to post a thread of my own)

So Maidan happens. We all see it on television. It's massively huge, clearly far more than just a few western agent provocateurs out there. And we know they have a legitimate gripe about Yanukovych's corruption. And we also know that many of them are not to pleased about Yanukovych cuddling up to a man who's gone on record as claiming that Ukraine doesn't exist as a country. So there's real--not imaginary--anger there.

Laws are enacted against protests. Protests don't stop. Protesters get beaten. Protests don't stop. Protesters get shot. Protests don't stop.

Finally, Yanukovych realizes he's not a very popular man, but he's still a very wealthy man, and he can still live a very comfortable life somewhere else (such as Russia). So he sends moving trucks to his house, gathers up all the antique vases and oil paintings he can possibly fit, and choppers out of Ukraine in his fleet of helicopters and into Russia.

Yankovych out, interim government in, elections scheduled for May. Boom. Regime change.

At this point, Putin's still been pretty much a side player throughout it all. Nothing more than a few phone calls with Yanukovych, probably just offering him the sanctuary in Russia that he ultimately accepted.

Putin's got a choice to make. He could recognize that Ukraine is its own country, that Ukraine is not part of Russia, that he cannot control what happens in Ukraine, and no matter how much he wants Ukraine to be part of a Russian trade partnership, the Ukrainians just don't want that to happen.

He could:

A: Dust off his hands and walk away at this point. In that case, Ukrainian elections are held in May. The entire country gets to vote. There's probably some residual grumbling between east and west, but the country likely slowly begins to heal and try and get back to normal. Maybe it joins the EU. Maybe it doesn't. Maybe Crimea holds a real legitimate vote as had been scheduled and decides it wants to be independent. Maybe it wants to remain part of Ukraine. And that's pretty much it.

OR.....

B: Putin can realize how weak the Ukrainian government is just having gone through a revolution, how weak the Ukrainian military is after decades of waste and corruption, and then size up Ukraine and all the parts of it he's long seen as being "historically Russian." Starting with Crimea. Which already has Russian troops stationed at the naval bases there, meaning it's an easy in against token opposition.

Guess what choice Putin makes?

Yup. Choice B. He sends his men into Crimea sans insignia, hastily schedules a sham plebiscite asking Crimeans to be annexed into Russia, announces a laughably unbelievable yes result, and takes in Crimea. And then announces retroactively that he's invaded Crimea.

But wait, there's more.

He then sends in FSB guys like Girkin and Borodai into Luhansk and Donetsk, where they meet up with local nutcases like Gubarev and Pushilin. Government buildings in various towns are seized by armed force, checkpoints are erected around the cities, there's all sorts of kidnapping and murdering and mayhem. "Volunteers" come across the Russian border. Weaponry--lots and lots and lots of it--comes across the Russian border. An even more laughably sham plebecite with an even more laughably unbelievable yes result is undertaken. Meanwhile, these separatists prevent any citizens under their control from voting in the May presidential elections.

The Ukrainian government waits about a month to see if these separatists will simply walk away. Of course, they don't. The government launches an operation to uproot them. It's not the prettiest or most well-thought out of operations. Still, by July the Ukrainians have gained the upper hand. Then MH17 is shot out of the sky, all logical signs point to the separatists as the culprits, and whatever remaining public support for the separatists that had remains all but vanishes. So it looks like Ukraine may finally be on the way to stability and some semblance of normality might be around the corner.

But wait, there's more.

In about a two week time period, the situation in Eastern Ukraine does a near 180. Towns and areas retaken by the Ukrainian government fall back into separatist hands. All of this so coincidentally happens when there's a huge spike in reports of border crossings by the Russian military. And you now have reports of the Ukrainian army facing off against Crimea-ish insignia-less troops, extremely well armed and extremely well-trained, far more than what they had seen before. All the while, Putin's talking about how Ukrainians and Russians are the same people, about statehood for "Novorossiya", about how he could take Kyiv in two weeks if he wanted, really inflammatory stuff.

All of this--I mean, all of this--is Putin's handiwork. All of this rests on Putin's shoulders. Whatever talk there was about Nuland's cookies or her phone calls is so far removed from the current situation, and so incredibly insignificant to the situation that we are faced with today. To argue anything else would be to insult the intelligence of thinking people everywhere.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Thu Sep 4, 2014, 03:03 PM (15 replies)

After reading Parry's piece again, I'm even more astonished how idiotic it is.

So Maidan happens. We all see it on television. It's massively huge, clearly far more than just a few western agent provocateurs out there. And we know they have a legitimate gripe about Yanukovych's corruption. And we also know that many of them are not to pleased about Yanukovych cuddling up to a man who's gone on record as claiming that Ukraine doesn't exist as a country. So there's real--not imaginary--anger there.

Protesters get beaten. Protests don't stop. Protesters get shot. Protests don't stop.

Finally, Yanukovych realizes he's not a very popular man, but he's still a very wealthy man, and he can still live a very comfortable life somewhere else (such as Russia). So he sends moving trucks to his house, gathers up all the antique vases and oil paintings he can possibly fit, and choppers out of Ukraine in his fleet of helicopters and into Russia.

Yankovych out, interim government in, elections scheduled for May. Boom. Regime change.

At this point, Putin's still been pretty much a side player throughout it all. Nothing more than a few phone calls with Yanukovych, probably just offering him the sanctuary in Russia that he ultimately accepted.

Putin's got a choice to make. He could recognize that Ukraine is its own country, that Ukraine is not part of Russia, that he cannot control what happens in Ukraine, and no matter how much he wants Ukraine to be part of a Russian trade partnership, the Ukrainians just don't want that to happen.

He could:

A: Dust off his hands and walk away at this point. In that case, Ukrainian elections are held in May. The entire country gets to vote. There's probably some residual grumbling between east and west, but the country likely slowly begins to heal and try and get back to normal. Maybe it joins the EU. Maybe it doesn't. Maybe Crimea holds a real legitimate vote as had been scheduled and decides it wants to be independent. Maybe it wants to remain part of Ukraine. And that's pretty much it.

OR.....

B: Putin can realize how weak the Ukrainian government is just having gone through a revolution, how weak the Ukrainian military is after decades of waste and corruption, and then size up Ukraine and all the parts of it he's long seen as being "historically Russian." Starting with Crimea. Which already has Russian troops stationed at the naval bases there, meaning it's an easy in against token opposition.

Guess what choice Putin makes?

Yup. Choice B. He sends his men into Crimea sans insignia, hastily schedules a sham plebiscite asking Crimeans to be annexed into Russia, announces a laughably unbelievable yes result, and takes in Russia. And then announces retroactively that he's invaded Crimea.

But wait, there's more.

He then sends in FSB guys like Girkin and Borodai into Luhansk and Donetsk, where they meet up with local nutcases like Gubarev and Pushilin. Government buildings in various towns are seized by armed force, checkpoints are erected around the cities, there's all sorts of kidnapping and murdering and mayhem. "Volunteers" come across the Russian border. Weaponry--lots and lots and lots of it--comes across the Russian border. An even more laughably sham plebecite with an even more laughably unbelievable yes result is undertaken. Meanwhile, these separatists prevent any citizens under their control from voting in the May presidential elections.

The Ukrainian government waits about a month to see if these separatists will simply walk away. Of course, they don't. The government launches an operation to uproot them. It's not the prettiest or most well-thought out of operations. Still, by July the Ukrainians have gained the upper hand. Then MH17 is shot out of the sky, all logical signs point to the separatists as the culprits, and whatever remaining public support for the separatists that had remains all but vanishes. So it looks like Ukraine may finally be on the way to stability and some semblance of normality might be around the corner.

But wait, there's more.

In about a two week time period, the situation in Eastern Ukraine does a near 180. Towns and areas retaken by the Ukrainian government fall back into separatist hands. All of this so coincidentally happens when there's a huge spike in reports of border crossings by the Russian military. And you now have reports of the Ukrainian army facing off against Crimea-ish insignia-less troops, extremely well armed and extremely well-trained, far more than what they had seen before. All the while, Putin's talking about how Ukrainians and Russians are the same people, about statehood for "Novorossiya", about how he could take Kyiv in two weeks if he wanted, really inflammatory stuff.

All of this--I mean, all of this--is Putin's handiwork. All of this rests on Putin's shoulders. Whatever talk there was about Nuland's cookies or her phone calls is so far removed from the current situation, and so incredibly insignificant to the situation that we are faced with today. To argue anything else would be to insult the intelligence of thinking people everywhere.

But that is just what Parry has chosen to do here.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Wed Sep 3, 2014, 12:24 PM (2 replies)

Catherina sure as hell doesn't care much for the likes of us. She's quite a piece of work.

According to her, us American liberals are nothing but "unprincipled fucktard liberals". Her words via Twitter, not mine:

https://twitter.com/pmsxa/status/462356204287950848

She's used terms regarding President Obama that are much stronger than other long time DUers have used that have gotten them in hot water. For example, calling him a "butchering hypocrite":

https://twitter.com/Catherina_News/status/471661414772654081

Or retweeting this vile picture of the First Lady calling the president a Nazi:

https://twitter.com/GabyVerdier/status/473390857056702464

Or stating, "Obama, what an asshole":

https://twitter.com/Catherina_News/status/476726362313859072

Or stating, "Fuck Obama, what a war criminal":

https://twitter.com/Catherina_News/status/481151844220403713

And she doesn't seem to care much about those in the feminist and gay rights movement, claiming they only seek to build up "Jihadists and Nazis":

https://twitter.com/Catherina_News/status/468900201802264576

And this is just a small sampling of her screeds she produces on a daily basis. I'm not even touching her disturbing Putin fangirl behavior (and yes, it really does reach that level).

Listen, I'm not going to pretend I know the woman on a personal basis because I don't, but everything about her online persona makes her look like an extremely hateful, angry, bigoted and disturbed individual. She's best keeping her garbage on Twitter and not staining DU with that sort of trash.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Thu Aug 28, 2014, 09:44 AM (1 replies)

There actually *are* real neo-Nazi putschists in charge in Ukraine. (But it's not who you think.)

For months now, the narrative pushed heavily by Russian state media--and then parroted ad naseum by western conspiracy theory minded individuals--was that the events leading up to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych fleeing the country (oil painting and antique collection in hand) constituted a "coup" and/or a "putsch." Specifically, that various figures from the U.S. State Department and other western interests allegedly colluded with Ukrainian ultranationalists to forcibly remove Yanukovych from power and replace them with patsies of their own to serve their own corporate interests.

Never mind the presence of enormous protests of thousands of ordinary Ukrainians who had legitimate concerns about Yanukovych's corruption and willingness to cozy up with a country that subtly denies Ukraine's very existence. Never mind that no one--and I mean no one--has been able to describe exactly how this supposed "coup" took place, and that video evidence of Yanukovych casually having his mansion packed up over the course of three days before flying away in his personal fleet of helicopters belies the idea that an actual coup occurred. To these people, there was a "coup" and apparently there's no dissuading them against it.

Also central to the narrative is that subsequent to the change in power, the Ukrainian government has fallen into the clutches of violent fascist neo-Nazis who have engaged in a reign of terror over the country who are now "massacring" peaceful pro-Russian "protesters" and "activists." They have pointed to events such as deadly mob riots between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian demonstrators in the city of Odessa back in May, transforming that unfortunate event where both sides were arguably to blame for the violence into a unilateral slaughter of "anti-fascists" by "neo-Nazis" with references aplenty to pogroms of years ago. For the narrative pushers, there has been an entire cottage industry of World War II era references and continuous name-dropping of the long-dead and highly controversial and extremely polarizing Ukrainian nationalist figure Stephen Bandera from that time period.

Key to the "neo-Nazi" and "fascist" narrative is the Ukrainian political party Svoboda, super all-powerful non-holders of 17 of 20 seats in Ukrainian's cabinet and 414 of 449 seats in its parliament and whose candidate, together with that of fellow ultranationalist party Right Sector--gathered a whopping 2% of the popular vote in the May 25th presidential elections.

Interestingly enough, there is at least one neo-Nazi putschist in a position of high power inside the borders of Ukraine. But it isn't who you think.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Pavel Gubarev, the self-proclaimed "People's Governor of Donetsk" who is one of the top figures leading armed separatists in their fight for that region to leave Ukraine and unite with Russia:







(And yes, the new flag of "Novorossiya" is directly patterned after the US Confederate Battle Flag. Because heritage, not hate. )

Before Gubarev's rise to "People's Governor", Gubarev was a visible member of the Russian National Unity party, a Russian based neo-Nazi movement which supports a policy of expelling ethnic minorities from Russia and the fostering of ethnic Russian "compatriots" living outside of Russian borders. A quick read up on Russian National Unity:

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

In early March 2014, following Yanukovych's departure, Gubarev lead a group of separatists to the Donetsk Regional State Administration building, where the group lay siege to the building and ultimately took it over. There, the separatists declared Gubarev the "People's Governor". Gubarev was briefly detained by Ukrainian authorities who temporarily retook the building (before it fell back into the hands of armed separatists), but was subsequently exchanged for captured Ukrainian military officers and currently remains one of the top officials in the pro-Russian insurgency movement in Ukraine's east.

An interesting read on the Gubarev dilemma:

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/04/east-ukraine-crisis-fascist-ma-2014416145823826439.html

So let's see:

Fascist neo-Nazi? Check.
Unelected "leader"? Check.
Seized power by use of force? Check.

It looks like the pro-Russians' guy here is everything they accuse the Ukrainian government of being. So if they claim that they are fighting a "neo-Nazi junta" from Kiev and yet they are the ones being led in part by an actual neo-Nazi who actually did seize power illegitimately by force, it makes you wonder: Why are they actually fighting?

Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Tue Jun 10, 2014, 10:31 AM (7 replies)

This, my friends, is an *actual* coup.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-27517591

Thailand coup d'etat as military seizes power

Thailand's military has announced it is taking control of the government and has suspended the constitution.

****

On Tuesday the army imposed martial law. Talks were then held between the main political factions, but the army announced the coup on Thursday.

Political party leaders, including opposition leader Suthep Thaugsuban, were taken away from the talks venue after troops sealed off the area.

Troops have reportedly fired into the air to disperse groups of rival supporters.

The broadcast media have been told to suspend all normal programming.

____________________________________________________________________________________

No vague non sequiturs of cookies or phone calls. No President taking three days to pack up his valuable oil painting collection and then flying away in his own fleet of helicopters. No votes by the legislative body to remove the abdicating president. No immediate scheduling of new elections to replace said abdicating president.

Nope, just a real, live, actual coup d'état. Army comes in, forcibly removes the people in power against their will, suspends the constitution and declares themselves in charge.

Words matter.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Thu May 22, 2014, 09:54 AM (56 replies)

Wanted: Proof that what happened in Ukraine actually constituted a "western sponsored coup."

(Or even just a coup in general.)

Over the past couple of weeks, a fair handful of people here have insisted that the recent regime change in Ukraine was in fact a "coup." Most of those people have gone further and have claimed western--and even US--interests were the ones who were behind the coup. When I have pressed them for evidence, I have repeatedly heard about State Department official Victoria Nuland handing out cookies to Maidan protesters, about $5 billion in US aid to Ukraine (neglecting to mention that the figure covers a 20 year period), about Nuland discussing who she preferred to be in charge in Ukraine, about a website belonging to current Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenuk's organization listing several western partnerships, and a few other tidbits here and there.

While these indeed provide sufficient fodder for the conspiracy minded crowd, none of them--and I mean none of them--thus far actually show that what happened in February 2014 when Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovych fled the country and was replaced by an interim government until elections could be held later this month was actually a "coup" under the proper definition of the word.

So the question I posed to these people--and to which any have yet to answer me--is proof that what actually happened in Ukraine was a "coup", and specifically one that was sponsored by the West. If one considers the situation in February 2014, the flash point of the change in power appears to be the moment Yanukovych choose to flee Kyiv on February 21st. So we have to consider under what circumstances did Yanukovych leave that evening? Was he forced out at gun point? Was he kidnapped against his will?

Because if you look at Webster's definition of "Coup d'état", it clearly reads:

: a sudden decisive exercise of force in politics; especially : the violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government by a small group

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/coup%20d'%C3%A9tat

First of all, no one can claim the Maidan protests were "a small group".



There were hundreds of thousands of them on the square. So whatever motivation those protests may have given Yanukovych to say, "Screw you guys, I'm going home," right then and there the definition of "coup" is inapplicable.

Secondly, one has to consider violence in the change of power. So was Yanukovych kidnapped, thrown in a sack, and taken away that night? Did someone stick a gun to his head and pull him away? The fact of the matter is, video from the Yanukovych residence doesn't seem to support that. In it, you can see members of Yanukovych's entourage casually packing up his valuable possessions and two helicopters flying away without any sort of opposition or sense of immediate urgency.






(The first video is rather long, but Yanukovych himself is seen at 13:45 in the video)

So if a characteristic of "coup" is that they are typically characterized by force, then no, again the situation does not fall into the proper usage of that word.

Who knows, maybe there are facts that I'm missing or that I'm not aware of that are a game changer. Maybe there is something one can point to that show definitively that Yanukovych did not voluntarily leave on his accord and willpower but was kidnapped and removed against his will. And maybe there's some evidence that shows that western agents were the ones doing the kidnapping.

And if someone can actually point me to this evidence, I will be the man and admit that that person is right and I was wrong.

But so far there's been nothing. Nada. Nilch.

(And the mere repetition of the word "coup" as it relates to what happened in Ukraine is not proof that a coup actually took place, contrary to what some might thing.)

So if I'm wrong, show me I'm wrong with real evidence from a reputable source (please, no Alex Jones type stuff). I'm waiting.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Wed May 14, 2014, 10:08 AM (138 replies)

Cognitive Dissonance is Cognitivey: Ukraine Edition (Stalin, Bandera, Maidan and Russian separatism)



Ever since the height of the Euromaidan protests, skeptics and opponents of that movement and the interim Ukrainian government that resulted from that movement have feverishly attempted to paint supporters as "ultranationalists", "fascists" and even "neo-Nazi", with the argument for the latter category dating back to historical events from World War II.

The main basis for such claims lies in the fact that a couple of ultranationalist parties--Svoboda and Right Sector--were participants in the Euromaidan protests, and Svoboda is a minority party within the governing coalition and has three of its members currently sitting in the 21-seat Ukrainian cabinet. Despite the clear minority status of these organizations, opponents of the interim government have clearly attempted to paint Svoboda and Right Sector the face of the events in Ukraine this year, from the Euromaidan protests that ultimately resulted in former President Victor Yanukovych leaving the country and a new interim government taking control until scheduled elections at the end of this month, to the annexation of the Crimean territory by Russia after a questionable plebiscite, to the Ukrainian military's crackdown on armed pro-Russian militants in the Eastern portion of the country, to deadly riots in cities such as Odessa.

One of the most repeated talking points of those taking the "fascist"/"neo-Nazi" position is the fact that there has been the use of the image of controversial World War II-era political figure Stepan Bandera, mainly by those in the far-right parties like Svoboda and Right Sector. And there is no doubt that Bandera is a highly polarizing figure. Proponents paint him as someone who was first and foremost a Ukrainian nationalist who antagonized and irritated both the Soviets and Nazi Germans alike. On the other hand, opponents believe Bandara was in part complicit for Nazi atrocities committed on Ukrainian soil. Whether or not Bandera was personally responsible for brutal ethnic violence between Ukrainians and Poles during World War II is still a highly charged topic of debate by those in the region. Despite the unsettled view on Bandera's ultimate legacy, there is no doubt he is a lightning rod and extremely divisive figure.

That all being said, for all those critics of Maidan and the interim government who have expressed such righteous indignation over the use of Bandera's visage and other items perceived to be "fascist" or "neo-Nazi", there is a complete silence towards opponents of the interim government who have chosen to glorify symbols of the defunct Soviet Union and Soviet figures such as Lenin and even Stalin. It is high time that such cognitive dissonance be addressed.

Let us be blunt: the Soviet Union was a horrifically brutal, authoritarian, oppressive and imperialistic bastard of a nation pretty much from its inception. There was nothing ever good about it. I understand that for some western adherents to Marxist economic theory, there is a hesitancy to criticize the Soviet Union because it claimed to be a socialist, communist and Marxist society.(I myself have nothing against Marxist economic theory in general; while I'm not a subscriber myself, I do value its ability to identify very real problems of economic disparities and exploitation of the working class.)

But let's not kid ourselves: in the end, the Soviet Union was never really about Marxism, Communism or Socialism. It was really nothing more than an attempt to reboot the rapidly dying Russian Empire and desperately hold onto land seized by Moscow over the centuries. The divine right of the Tsar was no longer cutting it; those in power in Moscow needed a new populist vehicle to use as wrapping paper over the same old package of shit that was Russian Imperialism, and communism fit the bill perfectly. And the new Soviet bosses were just as brutal as the old Tsarist ones: severely restricting basic civil liberties and persecuting, deporting and murdering millions of its own people.

That is why people should be shocked and highly disturbed when they see pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine flying the Hammer and Sickle and parading around pictures of Josef Stalin, one of the most brutal despots ever to hold power in any nation. The gut reaction that many Ukrainians have to the Hammer and Sickle is very similar to how African-Americans view the Confederate Battle Flag. It is a symbol of oppression. Soviet police wearing Hammer and Sickle pins routinely harassed both my grandmother and grandfather until it caused them to flee their homeland in fear of their lives. My aunts and uncles were herded onto trains under the Soviet flag and shipped off to Siberia. And Stalin himself is held responsible for enacting pure terror on the Ukrainian people, including manufacturing a famine that killed millions.

And yet those who express outrage at the ultranationalists who parade around with pictures of Bandera are woefully silent when people to which they lend moral support fly the Hammer and Sickle, march with large pictures of Stalin, and decry the removal of statutes and monuments of Soviet and Russian historical figures. This cognitive dissonance is glaring, the hypocrisy ever so apparent.

There is no doubt that Ukraine during the 1930s and 1940s was a brutal, barbaric place where atrocities from all sides abounded. In a very sad way, this was not unexpected. When you have both Adolph Hitler and Josef Stalin--the two most brutal and horrific men of modern times--fighting over the same patch of land, bloodshed and pure madness were pretty much an inevitable result. The bigger question today, however, is why people from all sides insist on glorifying such a horrible era of human history.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Mon May 12, 2014, 11:05 AM (3 replies)

You have to understand the President has an extremely fine line to walk regarding Russia.

On the one hand, knowing the nuclear armament of his adversary, he cannot use language that is too militaristic or hawkish unless he actually wants to back up his words with actions. Which could very well be catastrophic.

On the other hand, he knows he cannot appear to be too weak in the face of clear aggression and blatant violation of neighboring countries' sovereignty, actions which knowingly violate prior treaties to which both the US and Russia are a party.

Of course in the latter argument, it ultimately begs the whole "But....Iraq!" argument. Which appears to be a logical question on its face but puts the President in one hell of a conundrum given the fine line he has to walk. And you do have to understand while we here stateside are able to differentiate between the United States under Bush and the United States under Obama, that nuance loses a bit of its luster beyond our borders. So we will forever be stuck with the albatross of the prior administration's misdeeds around our neck, no matter how much we wish to shake it loose.

And so, yes, like that embarrassing family member for which we feel obligated to make excuses strictly out of a shared last name, our President is forced into the unenviable position of picking out the ever-so-slight silver linings of US debacles past just so he can remain balanced on the dental floss thin tightrope he needs to walk when it comes to Russia's actions towards Ukraine.

As many of you might be aware, over the past couple of weeks I have been very vocal and outspoken as it relates to what has been going on in Ukraine and Russia's actions towards that country (admittedly in part due to my own Ukrainian heritage). I also understand fully that in terms of a US response, military intervention simply is not an option but a forceful non-military approach is essential.

The President has had to walk that tightrope between aggression and complacency and my personal opinion is that he has done so remarkably well. I am not going to rake him over the coals making minor distinctions between our own prior misdeeds (to which he had no control over) and Russia's current misdeeds.

Nor am I going to claim he lacks the moral authority to hold Moscow to task. To the contrary, it is most imperative that the entire world hold Russia to task, no matter our sordid pasts.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Thu Mar 27, 2014, 12:22 PM (55 replies)
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