Israel Shamir — CounterPunch Feb 24, 2014
I am a great fan of Kiev, an affable city of pleasing bourgeois character, with its plentiful small restaurants, clean tree-lined streets, and bonhomie of its beer gardens. A hundred years ago Kiev was predominantly a Russian resort, and some central areas have retained this flavour. Now Kiev is patrolled by armed thugs from the Western Ukraine, by fighters from the neo-Nazi -Right Sector, descendants of Stepan Bandera, the Ukrainian Quisling’s troopers, and by their local comrades-in-arms of nationalist persuasion.
After a month of confrontation, President Viktor Yanukovych gave in, signed the EC-prepared surrender and escaped their rough revolutionary justice by the skin of his teeth. The ruling party MPs were beaten and dispersed, the communists almost lynched, the opposition have the parliament all to themselves, and they’ve appointed new ministers and taken over the Ukraine. The Brown Revolution has won in the Ukraine. This big East European country of fifty million inhabitants has gone the way of Libya. The US and the EU won this round, and pushed Russia back eastwards, just as they intended.
It remains to be seen whether the neo-Nazi thugs who won the battle will agree to surrender the sweet fruits of victory to politicians, who are, God knows, nasty enough. And more importantly, it remains to be seen whether the Russian-speaking East and South East of the country will accept the Brown rule of Kiev, or split off and go their own way, as the people of Israel (so relates the Bible) after King Solomon’s death rebelled against his heir saying “To your tents, o Israel!” and proclaimed independence of their fief (I Kings 12:16). Meanwhile it seems that the Easterners’ desire to preserve Ukrainian state integrity is stronger than their dislike for the victorious Browns. Though they assembled their representatives for what could be a declaration of independence, they did not dare to claim power. These peaceful people have little stamina for strife.
Their great neighbour, Russia, does not appear overtly concerned with this ominous development. Both Russian news agencies, TASS and RIA, didn’t even place the dire Ukrainian news at the top, as Reuters and BBC did: for them, the Olympics and the biathlon were of greater importance, as you can see on these print screens:
This “ostrich” attitude is quite typical of the Russian media: whenever they find themselves in an embarrassing position, they escape into showing the Swan Lake ballet on TV. That’s what they did when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. This time it was the Olympics instead of the ballet.
Anti-Putin opposition in Russia heartily approved of the Ukrainian coup. Yesterday Kiev, tomorrow Moscow, they chanted. Maidan (the main square of Kiev, the site of anti-government demos) equals Bolotnaya (a square in Moscow, the site of anti-government protests in December 2012) is another popular slogan.
The majority of Russians were upset but not surprised. Russia decided to minimise its involvement in the Ukraine some weeks ago as if they wished to demonstrate to the world their non-interference. Their behaviour bordered on recklessness. While foreign ministers of EC countries and their allies crowded Kiev, Putin sent Vladimir Lukin, a human rights emissary, an elder low-level politician of very little clout, to deal with the Ukrainian crisis. The Russian Ambassador Mr Zurabov, another non-entity, completely disappeared from public view. (Now he was recalled to Moscow). Putin made not a single public statement on the Ukraine, treating it as though it were Libya or Mali, not a neighbouring country quite close to the Russian hinterland.
This hands-off approach could have been expected: Russia did not interfere in the disastrous Ukrainian elections 2004, or in the Georgian elections that produced extremely anti-Russian governments. Russia gets involved only if there is a real battle on the ground, and a legitimate government asks for help, as in Ossetia in 2008 or in Syria in 2011. Russia supports those who fight for their cause, otherwise Russia, somewhat disappointingly, stands aside.
The West has no such inhibitions and its representatives were extremely active: the US State Department representative Victoria “Fuck EC’’ Nuland had spent days and weeks in Kiev, feeding the insurgents with cookies, delivering millions of smuggled greenbacks to them, meeting with their leaders, planning and plotting the coup. Kiev is awash with the newest US dollars fresh from its mint (of a kind yet unseen in Moscow, I’ve been told by Russian friends). The US embassy spread money around like a tipsy Texan in a night club. Every able-bodied young man willing to fight received five hundred dollar a week, a qualified fighter – up to a thousand, a platoon commander had two thousand dollars – good money by Ukrainian standards.
Money is not all. People are also needed for a successful coup. There was an opposition to Yanukovych who won democratic elections, and accordingly, three parties lost elections. Supporters of the three parties could field a lot of people for a peaceful demonstration, or for a sit-in. But would they fight when push comes to shove? Probably not. Ditto the recipients of generous US and EC grants (Nuland estimated the total sum of American investment in “democracy building” at five billion dollars). They could be called to come to the main square for a demo. However, the NGO beneficiaries are timid folk, not likely to risk their well-being. And the US needed a better fighting stock to remove the democratically elected president from power.
In the Western Ukraine, the serpent eggs hatched: children of Nazi collaborators who had imbibed hatred towards the Russians with their mothers’ milk. Their fathers had formed a network under Reinhard Gehlen, the German spymaster. In 1945, as Germany was defeated, Gehlen swore allegiance to the US and delivered his networks to the CIA. They continued their guerrilla war against the Soviets until 1956. Their cruelty was legendary, for they aimed to terrify the population into full compliance to their command. Notoriously, they strangulated the Ukrainians suspected of being friendly to Russians with their bare hands.
A horrifying confession of a participant tells of their activities in Volyn: “One night, we strangulated 84 men. We strangulated adults, as for little kids, we held their legs, swung and broke their heads at a doorpost. …Two nice kids, Stepa and Olya, 12 and 14 years old… we tore the younger one into two parts, and there was no need to strangulate her mother Julia, she died of a heart attack” and so on and so on. They slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Poles and Jews; even the dreadful Baby Yar massacre was done by them, with German connivance, somewhat similar to Israeli connivance in the Sabra and Chatila massacres of Palestinians by the Lebanese fascists of the Phalange.
The children of these Bandera murderers were brought up to hate Communism, Soviets and Russians, and in adoration of their fathers’ deeds. They formed the spearhead of the pro-US anti-government rebels in the Ukraine, the Right Sector led by out-and-out fascist Dmytro Yarosh. They were ready to fight, to die and kill. Such units attract potential rebels of differing backgrounds: their spokesman is young Russian -turned -Ukrainian -nationalist Artem Skoropadsky, a journalist with the mainstream oligarch-owned Kommersant-UA daily. There are similar young Russians who join Salafi networks and become suicide-bombers in the Caucasus mountains – young people whose desire for action and sacrifice could not be satisfied in the consumer society. This is a Slav al-Qaeda — real neo-Nazi storm troopers, a natural ally of the US.
And they did not fight only for association with EC and against joining a Russia-led TC. Their enemies were also the Russians in the Ukraine, and Russian-speaking ethnic Ukrainians. The difference between the twain is moot. Before independence in 1991, some three quarters of the population preferred to speak Russian. Since then, successive governments have tried to force people to use Ukrainian. For the Ukrainian neo-Nazis, anyone who speaks Russian is an enemy. You can compare this with Scotland, where people speak English, and nationalists would like to force them to speak the language of Burns.
Behind the spearhead of the Right Sector, with its fervent anti-communist and anti-Russian fighters, a larger organisation could be counted on: the neo-Nazi Freedom (Svoboda), of Tyagnibok. Some years ago Tyagnibok called for a fight against Russians and Jews, now he has become more cautious regarding the Jews. He is still as anti-Russian as John Foster Dulles. Tyagnibok was tolerated or even encouraged by Yanukovych, who wanted to take a leaf from the French president Jacques Chirac’s book. Chirac won the second round of elections against nationalist Le Pen, while probably he would have lost against any other opponent. In the same wise, Yanukovych wished Tyagnibok to become his defeatable opponent at the second round of presidential elections.
The parliamentary parties (the biggest one is the party of Julia Timoshenko with 25% of seats, the smaller one was the party of Klitschko the boxer with 15%) would support the turmoil as a way to gain power they lost at the elections.
Union of nationalists and liberals
Thus, a union of nationalists and liberals was formed. This union is the trademark of a new US policy in the Eastern Europe. It was tried in Russia two years ago, where enemies of Putin comprise of these two forces, of pro-Western liberals and of their new allies, Russian ethnic nationalists, soft and hard neo-Nazis. The liberals won’t fight, they are unpopular with the masses; they include an above-average percentage of Jews, gays, millionaires and liberal columnists; the nationalists can incite the great unwashed masses almost as well as the Bolsheviks, and will fight. This is the anti-Putin cocktail preferred by the US. This alliance actually took over 20% of vote in Moscow city elections, after their attempt to seize power by coup was beaten off by Putin. The Ukraine is their second, successful joint action.
Bear in mind: liberals do not have to support democracy. They do so only if they are certain democracy will deliver what they want. Otherwise, they can join forces with al Qaeda as now in Syria, with Islamic extremists as in Libya, with the Army as in Egypt, or with neo-Nazis, as now in Russia and the Ukraine. Historically, the liberal–Nazi alliance did not work because the old Nazis were enemies of bankers and financial capital, and therefore anti-Jewish. This hitch could be avoided: Mussolini was friendly to Jews and had a few Jewish ministers in his government; he objected to Hitler’s anti-Jewish attitude saying that “Jews are useful and friendly”. Hitler replied that if he were to allow that, thousands of Jews would join his party. Nowadays, this problem has vanished: modern neo-Nazis are friendly towards Jews, bankers and gays. The Norwegian killer Breivik is an exemplary sample of a Jew-friendly neo-Nazi. So are the Ukrainian and Russian neo-Nazis.
While the original Bandera thugs killed every Jew (and Pole) that came their way, their modern heirs receive some valuable Jewish support. The oligarchs of Jewish origin (Kolomoysky, Pinchuk and Poroshenko) financed them, while a prominent Jewish leader, Chairman of the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of the Ukraine, Josef Zissels, supported them and justified them. There are many supporters of Bandera in Israel; they usually claim that Bandera was not an anti-Semite, as he had a Jewish doctor. (So did Hitler.) Jews do not mind Nazis who do not target them. The Russian neo-Nazis target Tajik gastarbeiters, and the Ukrainian neo-Nazis target Russian-speakers.
Revolution: the Outline
The revolution deserves to be described in a few lines: Yanukovych was not too bad a president, prudent though weak. Still the Ukraine came to the edge of financial abyss. (You can read more about it in my previous piece) He tried to save the situation by allying with the EC, but the EC had no money to spare. Then he tried to make a deal with Russia, and Putin offered him a way out, without even demanding from him that the Ukraine join the Russian-led TC. This triggered the violent response of the EC and the US, as they were worried it would strengthen Russia.
Yanuk, as people call him for short, had few friends. Powerful Ukrainian oligarchs weren’t enamoured with him. Besides the usual reasons, they did not like the raider habits of Yanuk’s son, who would steal other men’s businesses. Here they may have had a point, for the leader of Belarus, the doughty Lukashenko, said that Yanuk’s son’s unorthodox ways of acquiring businesses brought disaster.
Yanuk’s electorate, the Russian-speaking people of the Ukraine (and they are a majority in the land, like English-speaking Scots are majority in Scotland) were disappointed with him because he did not give them the right to speak Russian and teach their children in Russian. The followers of Julia Timoshenko disliked him for jailing their leader. (She richly deserved it: she hired assassins, stole billions of Ukrainian state money in cahoots with a former prime minister, made a crooked deal with Gazprom at the expense of Ukrainian consumers, and what not.) Extreme nationalists hated him for not eradicating the Russian language.
The US-orchestrated attack on the elected President followed Gene Sharp’s instructions to a tee, namely: (1) seize a central square and organise a mass peaceful sit-in, (2) speak endlessly of danger of violent dispersal, (3) if the authorities do nothing, provoke bloodshed, (4) yell bloody murder, (5) the authority is horrified and stupefied and (6) removed and (7) new powers take over.
The most important element of the scheme has never been voiced by the cunning Sharp, and that is why the Occupy Wall Street movement (who thumbed through the book) failed to achieve the desired result. You have to have the Masters of Discourse™ i.e., Western mainstream media, on your side. Otherwise, the government will squash you as they did with the Occupy and many other similar movements. But here, the Western media was fully on the rebels’ side, for the events were organised by the US embassy.
At first, they gathered for a sit-in on the Independence Square (aka “Maidan Square”) some people they knew: recipients of USAID grants via the NGO network, wrote a Ukrainian expert Andrey Vajra, networks of fugitive oligarch Khoroshkovski, neo-Nazis of the Right Sector and radicals of the Common Cause. The peaceful assembly was lavishly entertained by artists; food and drink were served for free, free sex was encouraged – it was a carnival in the centre of the capital, and it began to attract the masses, as would happen in every city in the known universe. This carnival was paid for by the oligarchs and by the US embassy.
But the carnival could not last forever. As per (2), rumours of violent dispersal were spread. People became scared and drifted away. Only a small crowd of activists remained on the square. Provocation as per (3) was supplied by a Western agent within the administration, Mr Sergey Levochkin. He wrote his resignation letter, posted it and ordered police to violently disperse the sit-in. Police moved in and dispersed the activists. Nobody was killed, nobody was seriously wounded, – today, after a hundredfold dead, it is ridiculous even to mention this thrashing, – but the opposition yelled bloody murder at the time. The world media, this powerful tool in the hands of Masters of Discourse, decried “Yanukovych massacred children”. The EC and the US slapped on sanctions, foreign diplomats moved in, all claiming they want to protect peaceful demonstrators, while at the same time beefing up the Maidan crowd with armed gunmen and Right Sector fighters.
We referred to Gene Sharp, but the Maidan had an additional influence, that of Guy Debord and his concept of Society of Spectacle. It was not a real thing, but a well-done make-believe, as was its predecessor, the August 1991 Moscow “coup”. Yanukovych did everything to build up the Maidan resistance: he would send his riot police to disperse the crowd, and after they did only half of the job, he would call them back, and he did this every day. After such treatment, even a very placid dog would bite.
The Spectacle-like unreal quality of Kiev events was emphasized by arrival of the imperial warmonger, the neocon philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy. He came to Maidan like he came to Libya and Bosnia, claiming human rights and threatening sanctions and bombing. Whenever he comes, war is following. I hope I shall be away from every country he plans to visit.
First victims of the Brown Revolution were the monuments – those of Lenin, for they do hate communism in every form, and those of the world war, because the revolutionaries solidarise with the lost side, with the German Nazis.
History will tell us to what extent Yanuk and his advisors understood what they were doing. Anyway, he encouraged the fire of Maidan by his inefficient raids by a weaponless police force. The neo-Nazis of Maidan used snipers against the police force, dozens of people were killed, but President Obama called upon Yanuk to desist, and he desisted. After renewed shooting, he would send the police in again. An EC diplomat would threaten him with the Hague tribunal dock, and he would call his police back. No government could function in such circumstances.
Eventually he collapsed, signed on the dotted line and departed for unknown destination. The rebels seized power, forbade the Russian language and began sacking Kiev and Lvov. Now the life of the placid people of Kiev has been turned into a living hell: daily robberies, beating, murder abound. The victors are preparing a military operation against the Russian-speaking areas in the South East of Ukraine. The spectacle of the revolution can yet turn really bloody.
Some Ukrainians hope that Julia Timoshenko, freshly released from jail, will be able to rein the rebels in. Others hope that President Putin will pay heed to the Ukrainian events, now that his Olympic games are, mercifully, finished. The spectacle is not over until the fat lady sings, but sing she will – her song still remains to be seen and heard.
English language editing by Ken Freeland