The Grating Over The Memory Hole: The Toppling of Viktor Yanukovich

Uncle Volodya says, "When one with honeyed words but evil mind persuades the mob, great woes befall the state. "

Uncle Volodya says, “When one with honeyed words but evil mind persuades the mob, great woes befall the state. “

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.  The redirection of Ukraine is not going at all well; in fact, it probably now occurs to the architects of the bring-Ukraine-into-the-western-fold-and-snatch-it-from-Putin plan that it could hardly have gone worse. The country is stony broke and groaning under a mountain of debt, the government is broadly perceived as illegitimate and self-appointed despite the west’s loud shouting that it was established in the finest traditions of democratic struggle, an early and blindingly stupid decision to pander to the west-Ukraine base by altering the status of languages in Ukraine aroused fury across the Southeast, and so incensed the mostly-Russian Crimea that it threw down its hat on the floor and slammed out of the building forever; gonzo, off to join the Russian Federation by popular acclaim. Another earlier terrible decision – to recognize Kosovo – kicked the legs out from under western arguments that a unilateral declaration of independence is against international law. Now Ukraine has lost a good-sized chunk of its seacoast, not to mention its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), along with significant deposits of oil and gas, some of which already had exploration deals signed with the United States and Italy, now null and void. Routing the South Stream pipeline along a shallow shelf rather than through the deepest part of the Black Sea – as would have had to be done to avoid Ukrainian territorial waters which now belong to an independent Crimea – will save Gazprom $10 Billion right off the top. Sometimes the only thing that will make you feel better is to go off and have a good cry.

But how did we get here? Did events have to unfold the way they did? They certainly did not, but I’m glad you asked. Because modern man has a short memory, and things move so fast in our world that peddling an alternate narrative even a short time later is relatively easy. What really happens often goes down The Memory Hole. But I like to think of bloggers, along with being the last shred of journalism’s conscience, as a kind of grating over the memory hole, that prevent big stories from falling through and disappearing. Here to refresh everyone’s memory on events so recently transpired, is hoct. Those letters are short for Hero Of Crappy Town, from a quote by Firefly’s Hoban Washburne; “Let’s go to the crappy town where I’m a hero”. Advertising himself as “Anti-state, anti-empire, pro freedom”, hoct is comin’ at you live from Ljubljana, the capital of beautiful Slovenia. Take it away, hoct!

The Toppling of Viktor Yanukovich: Points to Remember

Few Ukrainians Will Mourn Yanukovich’s Departure

Polling from February 2014 indicated only 23% of Ukrainians supported the government of Yanukovich against the opposition and the protesters. The West-Center of Ukraine resented him his corruption, his authoritarianism and his failure to definitely orient economically towards Brussels and sided decisively against him. But equally so the South-East of Ukraine failed to rally behind him, in the way that West-Center had rallied behind the opposition. Indeed why would it have?

From the point of view of many in the South-East Yanukovich was corrupt, indecisive and had lied to them about where he was planning to take the country. For example, after Yanukovich was elected head of state in 2010, largely on the votes of the Russian-speaking South-East Ukraine, he and the people around him wasted no times in initiating trade talks with the European Union that led to the 2013 EU Association Agreement proposal, but only came around to making Russian a regional state language in 2012. That is, fully two years after taking power, but just in time for his party to receive a boost for the 2012 parliamentary elections.

As a consequence of his cynicism in ignoring the aspirations of the South-East, except immediately before elections, the segments of the population that had propelled him to power in 2010 withdrew support and he was left to fend for himself.

The Protest Movement That Brought Him down and the Opposition That Replaced Him Are Not Massively Popular

The same polls that put Yanukovich at 23% placed the support for the protesters squared against him at 40% — hardly numbers to write home about. Far from rallying the country behind them, the Euromaidan rallies against Yanukovich proved highly divisive. If on the one hand 80% of the public was behind them in Western Ukraine, they failed to secure any traction in the East where just 7% reported having a positive view of it.

The South-East refused to rally for the floundering Yanukovich, but nonetheless watched the forces in revolt against him with apprehension. It recognized their posture as aggressive and their demands unreasonable and the main causes of escalation of crisis and chaos in the country. According to vast segments of the population in the South-East Yanukovich was rotten, but the opposition and the protesters may be rottener still, and dangerous to boot.

Western Interference with the Crisis in Ukraine Was Crucial in Toppling Yanukovich

The standoff on the ground in Ukraine was not played out between parties of great strength, but on the contrary between parties of exceeding weakness. Neither the government nor the opposition succeeded in making much of a connection with the people. In the case of Yanukovich, his own base grew ambivalent about him, and he spent the entire crisis offering ever wider concessions to his opponents. On the opposition side, the initially truly massive anti-government

rallies of November 2013 quickly devolved into smallish camps that on most days comprised no more than tens of thousands of highly-motivated, street-fighting protesters, often of a radical right-wing persuasion, who were more anti-Yanukovich than they were pro-opposition.

If Yanukovich had been stronger he would have been impervious to attempts at unseating him coming from such a weekly-supported opposition whether it had Western backing or not. Likewise if the opposition had been actually able to draw the Ukrainian masses to its side it could have toppled such a weak president on its own. As it was, it was instead Western backing that bolstered the anemic opposition so it was just strong enough to prevail against the frail Yanukovich.

The key element of Western support for the opposition was not logistical. It will almost certainly be revealed the US in particular disseminated funds and training to opposition activists and groups, but this was nowhere as important as was the moral support the opposition was offered by the West. As soon as the political crisis in Ukraine had started the governments of Western powers adopted the highly unusual posture as if the opposition and the protesters were the democratically elected government of Ukraine and the actual, sitting government was a usurper of state authority.

One by one various Western officials made pilgrimages to the protesters in Kyiv to proclaim they “stood with the people of Ukraine” (and presumably against Yanukovich). Similarly, when 18th February brought about a sharp escalation of violence in Kyiv with 26 people killed, the West denounced the violence from the state that had resulted in deaths of fourteen protesters, but not the violence from the protesters that had resulted in the deaths of ten policemen.

It is highly unlikely the protests would have persisted for as long without such Western encouragement, and totally inconceivable that without it they would have succeeded in toppling Yanukovich after they had dwindled in size to just tens of thousands, and had lost the (slight) majority support of the Ukrainian public that they initially had. As it was Yanukovich was eventually worn down by the odd combination of a small number of highly-combative protesters (some of whom were anti-EU), the pro-opposition public sentiment of West-Central Ukraine, and the Western declarations undermining the legitimacy of a leader they had been negotiating with to bring Ukraine into their orbit just a few months prior.

Up until 19th February the Violent Protests in Kyiv Were Policed with Relative Restraint

Right until the end of the standoff in Ukraine official Washington kept talking about mythical “peaceful protesters” in the capital. This was absurd, as for the most part the protest movement was not a peaceful one. As the anti-Yanukovich protests in the capital dragged on its size shrunk and its character changed. As less dedicated participants gradually opted to stay at home, the protests became dominated by those more dedicated and often perfectly willing to try to topple Yanukovich with force. Rather than spend all of their days chanting and marching, the protesters after November demonstrated a preference for storming government buildings and roughing up state officials. When Yanukovich tolerated the occupation of a key part of Kyiv by the protesters for three consecutive months, he was acting in a way that is highly uncharacteristic for a head of state.

The lack of actions in his case, however, is easily explained. Yanukovich rightfully felt himself weak and preferred to try to wait out the protesters rather than take them on and order the police to retake the Independence Square. More remarkable was the posture of the police itself. Perhaps counter-intuitively, the violence of February 18th is a case in point. On that day the protesters burned down the Party of Regions headquarters in Kyiv, killing an office worker inside and presumably caused the deaths of 10 policemen who suffered fatal wounds on that day. For their part fourteen protesters were reported dead that day, presumably as a result of actions of the police.

It is hard to imagine a police force anywhere in the world that would in the same (extreme) circumstances show this amount of stoicism. This is not to say the posture of the Ukrainian police in Kyiv was praiseworthy, or that they were any better than the protesters. But it is to say that they for a long time conducted themselves with restraint totally uncharacteristic of police forces and only employed violence roughly proportional to that which the protesters were dishing out themselves against the police and other government-affiliated targets of the Euromaidan rioters.

When Will We Know for Sure What Happened on the 20th February?

If the Ukrainian police on 18th February was still a picture of relative restraint, the picture was seemingly entirely different on the 20th when more than seventy protesters were reported killed without the loss of a single policeman. It is true that as late as 18th February the policemen were complaining they did not have authorization to defend themselves with firearms. By 20th February such permission had been given to them.

It is perfectly plausible the Ukrainian policeman in Kyiv now flaunting firearms and still enraged by the loss of ten of their colleagues two days prior took the opportunity to exact random vengeance against the protesters. It would not be the first instance of policemen doing so. An example from 1993 where a similar number of people (76) were killed in a punitive FBI raid in Waco, Texas against the Branch Dravidians to avenge the prior loss of four ATF agents comes to mind.

However, there is also another possibility. In a leaked recording of a telephone conversation with Catherine Ashton, the Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet raised the possibility that at least some of the fatal shootings were carried out by a third party working on the orders from someone within the opposition. The allegation seems quite far-fetched initially; however, what may give it some credence is that Paet also reports visible reluctance on the part of the new authorities in Kyiv to investigate the shootings.

Indeed, days after Paet-Ashton conversation was leaked, the new government in Kyiv accused Russia of being behind the massacre on the 20th February. This is highly unlikely since with Yanukovich still in power rising tensions in Kyiv clearly went against Russian interests. What to really take from the allegation is that the new government in Kyiv itself now claims the Ukrainian police was not solely responsible. And in the case the police really did not shoot all of those killed on the 20th as the former oppositionists and protesters now claim, then who did?

Yanukovich Was Overthrown after He Had Already Agreed to Hand Over Power

What most everyone but Moscow has forgotten is that before Yanukovich was overthrown on the 22nd, he had already agreed on the 21st to constitutional reform, power-sharing with the opposition in a national unity government, as well as calling early presidential elections that he was certain to lose.

The challenge to Yanukovich in the crisis in Ukraine did not come so much from the uninspiring and partly already discredited political opposition, but instead from the Euromaidan protest movement. Yet the way Yanukovich went about trying to preserve his position was by offering concessions to the political opposition. This was never going to work, because the opposition correctly understood it was being presented with such offers only because it had succeeded in attaching itself to the protest movement. It felt it could not accept a deal with Yanukovich that was going to be rejected by the radical protesters whose demands always went considerably beyond what Yanukovich could offer.

As it was the opposition finally signed a deal with the Yanukovich presidency on February 21st, when the latter – prodded by France, Germany and Poland – offered the opposition a deal simply too good to refuse. Essentially, it was a delayed capitulation. In three months time Yanukovich would be gone, and the opposition would have everything it ever wanted. Predictably, even such terms were not good enough for the protesters, who instead of disbanding, redoubled their efforts and the next day expelled lame duck Yanukovich to Kharkiv.

The New Government in Kyiv Is No More Legitimate than the Old

During the crisis in Ukraine the public support for Yanukovich shrank to a pitiful 23% and he was near-universally loathed in West-Central Ukraine. Albeit the technically legitimate head of state having been lawfully elected president in 2010 he had clearly lost popular mandate. In this sense it is easy to agree his government ceased to be legitimate, particularly as it pertains to Western Ukraine, as it claimed authority over a people that had rejected it.

For its part, the new government is scarcely more popular and is just as beholden to Ukrainian oligarchs, but has the added legitimacy problem in having risen to power in a technically unlawful manner. The new powers in Kyiv took power from Yanukovich with a vote in the legislature that theoretically has the power to unseat the president, but did so without following proper procedure or securing the three-quarters majority required by the Constitution. It is easy to see how Ukrainian citizens who dislike the new Batkivshchyna-Svoboda government would see them as having taken power in an unconstitutional coup d’état.

Indeed the new powers are facing a notable challenge to their authority in the streets of eastern Ukraine as well as in the country’s courts. There is a lawsuit before the Supreme Administrative Court of Ukraine contesting the legality of the parliament appointing its speaker the Acting President of the country with decision expected on March 19th. The same court has also yet to rule on the legality of the parliament in sacking five judges of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine on February 24th.

The Policies of the New Government Are Far More Divisive than Those of Yanukovich Ever Were

Being a politician against whose rule seemingly half of the country mobilized against, first in the 2004 Orange Revolution and the second time in 2013-14, Yanukovich will hardly be remembered as someone who helped introduce tranquility to Ukraine. At the same time, however, it can not be said the course he charted for Ukraine was ever a radical one. His rule may have been marred by immense corruption, indecision and incompetence, but not by radicalism. A native Russian-speaker from Donetsk he, but for stinginess from Brussels when the deal was within their grasp, negotiated and nearly signed the EU Association Agreement for Ukraine. In a highly polarized and divisive world of Ukrainian culture wars Yanukovich did not dwell on the extremes, but on the contrary charted a relatively moderate, measured and low-risk course.

Contrast this with the boldness of the new authorities in Kyiv. After toppling Yanukovich the very first move of the legislature was to vote to repeal a law that had permitted Russian-speaking regions to elevate the status of Russian in their jurisdictions. The new authorities followed it up by ordering television providers to drop Russian channels popular in the East and announcing the formation of a new paramilitary force for internal use that will recruit from the militant Maidan groups and is to be overseen by the national security chief from the far right Svoboda party and his deputy from the neo-Banderite Praviy Sektor.

Despite its shaky position the new government in Kyiv is not balking from radical moves that may serve to rally its base, but which are also guaranteed to polarize the Ukrainian public and aggravate the East further. Including because of the rashness of the new transitional rulers in Kyiv the political and societal upheaval taking place in Ukraine does not look likely to wind down just yet.

If you liked this post by hoct, read more of his material here.

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824 Responses to The Grating Over The Memory Hole: The Toppling of Viktor Yanukovich

  1. reggietcs says:

    “During the crisis in Ukraine the public support for Yanukovich shrank to a pitiful 23% and he was near-universally loathed in West-Central Ukraine. Albeit the technically legitimate head of state having been lawfully elected president in 2010 he had clearly lost popular mandate. In this sense it is easy to agree his government ceased to be legitimate, particularly as it pertains to Western Ukraine, as it claimed authority over a people that had rejected it.”

    This may be TRUE, but they still could’ve and should’ve waited until the election to depose him LEGALLY. My trouble with this line of thinking is that it assumes that any president with a sub-par approval rating can be removed by a mob. Hollande’s approval rating is (believe it or not) lower than Yanukovich’s (so is that of the US Congress for that matter!), but I don’t see a mob attempting to violently overthrow him, and more importantly, NOR WOULD THE WEST WELCOME SUCH A MOVE. I think the best way to have insured Yak’s lost of “legitimacy” would’ve been to have voted him out democratically, the same way he came to power, not by proclaiming him illegitimate and plunging the country into anarchy and financial & moral collapse.

    • hoct says:

      You are right from your position and I am right from mine. As an anarchist I do not need much to agree a government is illegitimate, this being pretty much my default position. Frankly I do not mind anyone attempting to bring down any government set above them, regardless how popular or unpopular this government. It is the part where the former insurgents try to impose their own (often even more illiberal) government on other unwilling people that I oppose and disapprove of.

      But I agree that the situation in Ukraine being what it is any Ukrainian patriots concerned with the unity, the strength and the independence of their country should have probably waited Yanukovich out, instead of joining forces with Oranges and neo-Banderites to topple him from the street and in the process predictably alienate the East. Anyone who wishes for Ukraine to be a strong and therefore truly independent country (and I do) must be mindful of its pronounced regional divisions and should do everything to avoid inflaming its divisive culture war further.

      Being in favor of strong Ukraine but rioting in the street for the benefit of an EU Association Agreement, John McCain, Yuliya Timoshenko or Stephan Banderra is a major fail in my book.

  2. kirill says:

    Good summary. But something is missing from the picture. The SBU flipped sides in the final days and Yanukovich did not deploy the army and could not even secure the Rada thereby allowing thugs to take it over and expel MPs. It appears Yanukovich had no command over the power structures. I just don’t buy the notion that even a few thousand Right Sector militants could stage a coup. It’s just silly, what could they do from their barricades aside from throwing rocks, molotovs and shooting at cops? Loyalty from the army, SBU and police could not have flipped so easily just due to some shooting of militants (or protestors as the west mislabels them). Someone paved the way for them to seize key government buildings in true banana republic putsch style.

    I think that the Yuschenko-Timosheno regime from 2004-2010 did the basic groundwork for this coup. They decimated the Ukrainian army by cutting its funding to the bone. Yanukovich tripled the funds but it was too little, too late. I am quite sure that the SBU and army were also purged and re-staffed with Orange loyalists during this period. These Orange stooges did their job of paralyzing action at a critical moment. They also did their job of preventing Yanukovich from unseating them, i.e. there was no purge after 2010 that I can dig up. Svoboda and Right Sector are allies of the Batkivshina Party (Fatherland Party) and Batkivshina MPs were out distributing guns to the militants (there is a video of one of them caught in the act, and I am sure there are others actively supporting the neo-nazis).

    The whole “people power” revolution is a ridiculous act. Have about 100,000 demonstrators occupy the Maidan for a couple of months and then have the militants move in and pretend it is the same original demonstrators. The real coup is happening in the background as the key elements of the government desert the elected officials. Clearly Batkivshina was not sure it would win the election and decided to grab power by force.

    A nitpick I have is the use of the term authoritarian to describe Yanukovich. The label authoritarian is so grossly misused these days that it has lost its meaning. Yanukovich did not have any state power levers to be authoritarian. Was his style authoritarian? In this case the label fits Canada’s Harper to a tee, but he never, ever gets called authoritarian.

    • Hunter says:

      I dunno kirill,

      From this blog: http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2014/03/is-anyone-really-in-control-in-ukraine.html#more

      We get this:

      This information comes from a well-positioned source. There is a Spanish-speaking air traffic controller working at the Borispol International Airport in Kiev, who has been tweetting in Spanish and giving a blow-by-blow account of the goings on in the air and on the ground, along with some useful commentary. What follows is a summary of some of the recent tweets. Many thanks to Francisco for putting it together…..

      The Ukrainian military are by and large refusing to follow orders from he government. Many if not the majority of them are incredibly angry. Some generals have openly declared that they will not follow orders from some foreign-imposed government. The chief of the Air Force is a major problem for the government: so far he has flatly refused to fly any missions at all, and has grounded all the planes. He says that he will not follow orders except from a freely elected governent. Until such a time, he will follow only his own orders.

      And checking out that Spaniard’s twitter account: https://twitter.com/spainbuca

      I see where it was stated (at least according to google’s automatic translation, anyone who speaks Spanish can verify if this was indeed so) that the Ukrainian military ordered two NATO surveillance planes to leave Ukrainian airspace and that indeed some sort of military commander grounded some planes and said he would act on his own orders until there was a freely elected government. I also see some rather garbled translations which seemed to indicate that the Ukrainian military wants to inspect all incoming cargo due for the newly formed National Guard and that the military doesn’t seem to like or trust the new National Guard.

      So the military may not have facilitated the violent protesters overthrowing Yanukovych so much as, like his support base in the south and east, simply abandoned him while not actually supporting the protesters either.

      • yalensis says:

        The Spaniard’s tweets really seem to match the reality of various other sources I have read; namely that the Ukrainian military on the whole is standing back and not taking the side of the putsch government

        In Crimea itself, 70% of the soldiers in the (formerly) Ukrainian army stated that they will re-do their oaths and declare loyalty to Russia. The other 30% will continue to serve in the Ukrainian military.

        In the rest of Ukraine, one would expect an ideological split in the military. I would not even hazard to estimate, how many soldiers support friendship with Russia, and how many have been affected by the Banderite virus. In any case, it is telling that the putsch government does not trust its “own” army and is frantically trying to put together this ersatz “national guard”, consisting of ideologically-motivated Russia-haters and neo-nazis. Also understandable how the regular military will resent these “commissars” and refuse to follow the orders of these thugs, especially when such orders only further the destruction of Ukrainian army itself.

        • kirill says:

          The paralysis of the army is a contributing factor to the putsch. The army should have been deployed to clear the streets of armed militants. The SBU and Berkut were not up to the job. Berkut was even denied the use of proper firearms until everything started to fall apart around February 20.

          Perhaps the army will “wake up” and not obey the Kiev regime. But so far I can see Ukrainian army units moving east. This is after key officers were removed from their posts by the regime. An army without a functioning command structure, or one imposed on it by the regime is not going to put up much resistance to the regime.

          • Mills says:

            To deploy the army a state of emergency needs to be called or am I incorrect. If this is the case the constitution would be frozen as would be the European bank accounts of Yanukovich as a EU reprisal.

            • kirill says:

              If you read the previous threads on this board you will see that everyone agrees that Yanuk was corrupt. But a level of corruption where the head of state cannot even defend the government because he worries about some frozen bank accounts is a bit too much to believe. He would have to be a total moron to not see that his life was in danger if he capitulated to the paramilitaries. One would assume he is sane enough to value his life over some bank account.

              • Mills says:

                The US is currently using this as a tool of persuasion, audaciously against Russians now because it will serve as an example in future for those with less clout.

                Oligarchs and leaders who play ball get to keep their loot and live comfortably watching their soccer teams in Europe’s cosmopolitan cities, those who don’t, well don’t. The former US ambassador as others, did warn Yanukovich of risks being as it was put “islolated” by the EU and West if he cracks down on protesters. No doubt that played on his mind.

                I don’t think the paramilitaries would risk murdering him as that would derail the mainstream protest they hijacked, cause a state emergency and place the protest’s Western backers in a public relations nightmare. Certainly threats of murdering him on the other hand might have been welcome use in their coercive tactics.

                Yanukovich also knew with the scandals soon to be exposed he was cooked, whether he called the army or not, what was left to be saved for him? With the example of Timoshenko’s demise, his party realizing he was now unelectable, what was left for him but to appease the west and try immunity in exchange for quisling behavior and getting out?

                • marknesop says:

                  They will still have to come up with an explanation for doing it other than “sanctions against those who contributed to the impeding of democracy in Ukraine”, because the Russian oligarchy had nothing to do with that, and to some extent the Ukrainian oligarchy did not, either. It is merely a pressure tool that says, “play ball with us or we will steal the money from your rich friends”. To me, it is no different and indeed no more classy than saying “step down in favour of our chosen political bobblehead or we will rape your daughter, who attends university here”. It’s suggesting that we have access to something that means something to you or to people close to you, and if you don’t do as we say we will take it away from you. You can call it whatever you like, but what it is is blackmail, something modern democratic countries regard as a crime.

      • Jen says:

        If one of the roles of the President of Ukraine is commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, then the behaviour of the armed forces immediately before and then after Yanukovych’s forced flight is not contradictory. I’d say Yanukovych was under pressure from the EU not to send police or any paramilitary or military units onto the Maidan even when the demonstrations were usurped by Pravy Sektor, UNA-UNSO and other right-wing forces who then continued to escalate the violence. The military were probably still under orders not to retaliate against the protesters with force even as Yanukovych was deposed. The military clearly regard Turchynov’s assumption of the Presidency as well as the post of Speaker as illegal and undemocratic, this is why it’s only now that sections of the Ukrainian military seem to have suddenly decided to stay loyal to Yanukovych and to take matters in their own hands.

        The idea of restraining the police even while the Maidanites were throwing their weight around might have been copied from the actions of Stockholm police who stood by during the riots in Rinkeby in 2013.

        • kirill says:

          Yanukovich would have had good intel that the “rioters” were organized paramilitaries who were seizing government buildings. I somehow doubt that the rioters in Stockholm were trying to take over the legislature. The mere fact that there was no security deployed to guard key government buildings says a lot. This is not bending over backwards to please the west, this is the rug being pulled out from under one’s feet.

          Note that Yanuk could have deployed the military to control the key infrastructure without engaging the militants in a sweep operation. If the militants attacked the army positions, then it would have the right to shoot back in self defense. A good collection of camera crews would have ensured that any claims about “military slaughter of protestors” would be debunked.

    • hoct says:

      a.) I don’t know about a defection by the SBU, but I know the defection of the oligarch sponsors (who were far from reliable from the start) played an important role in flipping the parliament.

      b.) I don’t know about Canada’s Harper, but I would say that Barrack Obama is guilty of authoritarianism. He presides over a federal government that has been in breech of the US Constitution for centuries now and claims some powers Yanukovich could only dream about.

      • kirill says:

        a) The state of Ukraine is indeed sad of oligarchs control the major parties.

        b) I guess Yanuk was expressing the oligarch authoritarianism. It seems they were and still are all puppets in Ukraine.

  3. Kulobi says:

    Great trip down the memory lane. Regarding Yanukovich’s loss of support in the South-East, there was a survey by IFES done in Sep 2012 which exposed his usual sins of corruption, economic mismanagement and lack of welfare consciousness:

    http://www.ifes.org/Content/Publications/Survey/2012/~/media/Files/Publications/Survey/2013/Ukraine%202012%20Survey%20Report%202013_Final3.pdf

    What’s fascinating though is the growing disapprobation of his policy towards Moscow – the level of satisfaction with Yanukovich’s handling of relations with Russia fell from 66% in 2010, to 44% in 2011, to 28% in 2012. The gentle folks in Donetsk and Kharkov must have been gradually losing patience with the two-timing bastard.

    • marknesop says:

      I’m afraid nobody liked him much, which was unfortunate, because I honestly don’t think he was any more venal than any other politician. Big fancy house with all the trimmings, yes, yes, but check out the rockpile that Tony Blair and Cherie live in sometime, where they made parents bus their children to their son’s grad party – at a cost of 10 quid per – because they didn’t want cars outside their door; terror threat, you know. The numbers suggest Ukraine’s steady progress down the Corruption Perceptions Index stopped when Yanukovich took over, which does not mean corruption stopped, but since the CPI is a western-compiled index anyway which mostly reflects western whim and favouritism, it suggests they could find nothing but rumor and innuendo to bitch about. GDP per capita increased steadily although Yanukovich was paying off Yushchenko’s loans at the same time. The Batkivschyna Party loathed him from the outset, because Tymoshenko couldn’t stand him, fantastic rumours surfaced of him and his cronies owning/controlling 80%-85% of the businesses in Kiev (for which, frankly, I never ever saw any substantiation although everyone who recited it to me did so as if it were indisputable truth). It was Yanukovich’s great misfortune to arouse negative emotions, but the numbers say he was a better President to Ukraine than Yushchenko by far, since Yushchenko was practically wallowing in IMF money and still blew it all with no discernible progress made, while sliding steadily down the Corruption Perceptions Index.

  4. Reblogged this on EU: Ramshackle Empire and commented:
    I am leading of on my new blog with this post. Brilliant stuff!

  5. Hunter says:

    An excellent guest post by hoct

    One thing I would have loved to see hoct address is the claim that Yanukovych is the one who began usurping the constitution from 2010 and the implicit assumption that this is the moral high ground on which the protesters gained some kind of right to violently overthrow him.

    AP (posting over at Da Russophile) makes this claim thus:

    I agree with Rudolph Pitman here: “Since when is a country’s constitution ‘null and void’ when a party violates it? To believe so is absurd — whenever any party is deemed (by a foreign power, mind you) to have acted unconstitutionally, everyone can act unconstitutionally?….Further, Ukraine has its own courts to decide if the president was unconstitutionally ousted (after resigning), and Russia has no right under Ukraine’s constitution, or int’l law, to invade and take control.” To add to what he said, violating Ukraine’s constitution began not with the mobs in Kiev’s streets but right after Yanukovich took power, in 2010. At the time when he was elected, there was an elected Orange parliament. Yanukovich flipped the elected Orange parliament unconstitutionally, giving himself total (unelected) power over all branches of Ukraine’s government.* His subsequent actions and subsequent events in Ukraine were products of this violation of Ukraine’s Constitution. The recent violation of Ukraine’s constitution by the opposition-now-government (with the support of the Ukrainian people) was a reaction to the violation of the constitution by the President. Ignoring the whole story and just focusing on the events of early 2014 creates a false impression. This was not simply a legitimately elected president driven form power by a mob. It was a legitimately elected president with limited powers, furthermore limited by an opposition parliament, who unconstitutionally amassed total power over the country, who was eventually driven from power by forces supported by more of the people than those who supported him.

    * Going back to 2010. In the parliamentary elections the people voted strictly for parties, not for individuals. The results were Party of Regions, Communists, and Lytvyn’s bloc had a combined 222 votes, Tymoshenko plus Our Ukraine had 227 votes. Soon after coming to power, Yanukovich (who has control over the courts and prosecutor’s office) managed to get over 250 votes for his side, to depose Tymoshenko from the post of PM, and to ram through a bunch of laws opposed by the parties who had actually won the last parliamentary election such as ratifying the Black Sea fleet extension, the language laws, granting itself an additional year in office, etc. This was unconstitutional – the unelected MPs were bound to represent the parties whom the people voted for, and not to vote against those parties.

    Article 81 of Ukraine’s Constitution stated:

    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Ukraine#Article_81

    The authority of a People’s Deputy of Ukraine shall terminate prior to the expiration of his or her term in office in the event of:

    6.his or her failure, as having been elected from a political party (an electoral bloc of political parties), to join the parliamentary faction representing the same political party (the same electoral bloc of political parties) or his or her exit from such a faction.

    Where a People’s Deputy of Ukraine, as having been elected from a political party (an electoral bloc of political parties), fails to join the parliamentary faction representing the same political party (the same electoral bloc of political parties) or exits from such a faction, the highest steering body of the respective political party (electoral bloc of political parties) shall decide to terminate early his or her authority on the basis of a law, with the termination taking effect on the date of such a decision.

    So tossing aside the Constitution was something Yanukovich started.

    What nobody seems willing to address is the fact that the article AP is referring to (Article 81) was an Article in the 2004 Constitution which was then thrown out by the Constitutional Court in October 2010 on the procedural grounds. Hence legally, that article was not in effect when deputies began joining other factions, blocs or parties. So it’s rather odd that Yanukovych could have “unconstitutionally” flipped a majority Orange parliament if the constitution under which such a move would have been considered “unconstitutional” was found to have been unconstitutionally introduced and thrown out by the constitutional court before any such flipping occured…

    Now did Yanukovych violate the spirit of the 2004 and/or 1996 constitution by putting undue pressure on the Constitutional Court judges leading four of them to resign? Quite possibly. I’m not in any position to say “yea or nay” to such allegations.

    However does the resignation of four Constitutional Court judges in the lead up to the court’s ruling which declared that the 2004 Constitution (in reality a a wholesale amendment of large chunks of the 1996 Constitution) unconstitutionally adopted actually affect the factual basis for the Court’s judgement? I have a hard time believing so because the summary of the Court’s judgement (http://www.ccu.gov.ua/doccatalog/document?id=122826) seems to be fairly straightforward in claiming that the draft law (No. 4180) amending large sections of the Constitution was originally submitted to the Constitutional Court for an obligatory opinion on its contents (such opinion was provided in December 2003) and then the draft law as amended on June 23, 2004 and the amended draft again submitted to the Constitutional Court (which again provided an opinion, this time on October 12, 2004). Apparently after this draft law No. 4180 was again amended but instead of being submitted to the constitutional court again was instead reviewed and adopted in December 2004 as Law No. 2222.

    Now what happened between the last opinion of the court (October 12, 2004) and the law being adopted (December 8, 2004) that could have possibly caused the Rada to forget to submit the draft law again to the Constitutional Court for it’s supposed obligatory opinion when the Rada had done so twice before? Well there was that disputed election and a lot of (actual) peaceful protesting and some revolution of a sort which brought about a sense of urgency I would imagine….

    Here is what Wikipedia documents as having happened:

    On 3 December 2004, Ukraine’s Supreme Court finally broke the political deadlock. The court decided that due to the scale of the electoral fraud it became impossible to establish the election results. Therefore, it invalidated the official results that would have given Yanukovych the presidency. As a resolution, the court ordered a revote of the run-off to be held on 26 December 2004.[23] This decision was seen as a victory for the Yushchenko camp while Yanukovych and his supporters favoured a rerun of the entire election rather than just the run-off, as a second-best option if Yanukovych was not awarded the presidency. On 8 December 2004 the parliament amended laws to provide a legal framework for the new round of elections. The parliament also approved the changes to the Constitution, implementing a political reform backed by outgoing President Kuchma as a part of a political compromise between the acting authorities and opposition.

    So in the heady atmosphere of the Supreme Court ordering a re-run for the second round of the election it seems the Rada got carried away and attempted to kill two birds with one stone; passing laws to provide a legal framework for a new round of elections AND approving the newly amended draft law No. 4180.

    Now the Constitutional Court only ruled on the adoption of draft law No. 4180 as Law No. 2222 (since that is what 252 deputies apparently petitioned the court on), but even my cursory reading of the English translation of the 1996 Constitution has me just how the Rada managed to draft or amend laws to provide a legal framework for a new round of elections when Article 156 of the 1996 Constitution states:
    A draft law on introducing amendments to Chapter I – “General Principles,” Chapter III – “Elections. Referendum,” and Chapter XIII – “Introducing Amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine,” is submitted to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine by the President of Ukraine, or by no less than two-thirds of the constitutional composition of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, and on the condition that it is adopted by no less than two-thirds of the constitutional composition of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, and is approved by an All-Ukrainian referendum designated by the President of Ukraine.

    I would imagine any amendment to any law to provide a legal framework for a new round of Presidential elections would have amended Chapter III of the Ukrainian constitution and would thus have required the approval of such amendments in an “All-Ukrainian referendum”…a referendum which never occurred to the best of my knowledge. Now what would have been the effect if some deputies had petitioned the court on the procedure of the adoption of the laws enabling a new round of presidential elections? The Constitutional Court might well have invalidated those laws on procedural grounds as well and ipso facto invalidated everything done since 2004 and left Ukraine in a legal nightmare of limbo.

    As it is, unless someone can tell me if in fact the last amendments to draft law No. 4180 were in fact submitted to the Constitutional Court and the Court provided an opinion on that OR that such a submission to the Court and an opinion by the court are actually not constitutionally necessary for the adoption of amendments to the constitution, then it would seem in fact that the Constitutional Court was right in sawing that the 2004 Constitution was unconstitutionally adopted and thus inoperative and invalid.

    Here though is where things get interesting – because Yanukovych and the Rada could have simply resubmitted the draft law No. 4180 as it was amended before becoming Law No. 2222 to the Constitutional Court and then readopted it in late 2010. That would have been the decent and upstanding thing to do. And it is what is usually done in the event that a law has been thrown out on procedural grounds in other countries. But neither Yanukovych nor the Rada were obliged to re-adopt the 2004 series of Constitutional amendments in the procedurally correct manner once it was thrown out. Yanukovych is a politician and all politicians will attempt to do what they believe is in their best interest and the best interest of the people they represent. Clearly following the political deadlock and meltdown of 2004-2009, Yanukovych was never very likely to push for the readoption of the Constitution which had caused Yushchenko such grief in being able to garner the kind of majority in parliament he could possibly work with and which removed many of the powers previously held by the President. Of course, the trick here is that it was up to the Orange parties to push for the readoption of those Constitutional amendments seeing as they 227 members (a majority) as AP said at the time. Surely the Orange parties should have been pushing the other parties to ensure that the necessary two-thirds majority (300 deputies) voted for the readoption of the Constitution.

    But by then Tymoshenko’s bloc and Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine were Orange parties but not Orange allies. So for them to cooperate on readopting the 2004 Constitution following all the bad blood in the meltdown of the Orange Revolution between 2004 and 2010 was probably wishful thinking. Much less for them to get the communists, Lytvyn bloc and Party of Regions to agree to that measure (and by now the Socialists were out of parliament anyway having lost all 33 of their seats).

    So Yanukovych apparently started “violating” the Constitution when he allegedly pressured four judges to resign so that the Constitutional Court could have found that the 2004 Constitution wasn’t adopted in the right way because the Rada adopted the Constitution in a revolutionary atmosphere and apparently totally forgot the Constitutional Court even existed and needed to be a part of the final process and thus throw out said Constitution so that Yanukovych could in turn violate a provision of the now thrown out Constitution (but a provision which was apparently not in the 1996 Constitution) by wooing deputies over to support his Party of Regions and thus gain control of the legislature.

    Never mind that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe had from 2007 been stating that the amended Article 81 of the Constitution of Ukraine concerning “the recall of people’s representatives by the political parties (“imperative mandate”) is unacceptable in a democratic state.

    It would seem that Ukraine should indeed be compared to Africa in that from December 2004 it has effectively been unable to follow it’s own laws and constitution. If this was some country in Africa, it would long ago have been called for what it is; a banana republic. Most of the problems Ukraine has been undergoing since 2004 could apparently have been avoided if the Rada had just done a third time what it had done twice before and submitted draft law No. 4180 to the Constitutional Court as is apparently required by the Constitution. Such a simple thing to have done really. But instead, that was not done and when the move had been challenged (albeit six years later) and the amendments thrown out we have one side complaining foul and agitating against the President and later supporting his violent overthrow and later attempting to impeach him without following proper Constitutional procedure and apparently without the required majority (falling 10 votes short it seems) and also re-adopting the said same 2004 series of constitutional amendments but without the President having signed them into law and in any case with that same person having been run out of the country as they attempted to depose him by cutting corners on procedure.

    Ukraine is likely to be in a legal mess for quite some time as it now seems that it is becoming a habit to actually ignore the proper procedure as provided for in law. When that happens the rule of law (one of those “European values” the Euromaidan protesters were originally campaigning for) is a fantasy.

    • Hunter says:

      Oops! I had sections in italics which weren’t supposed to be.

      This is how it should have looked:

      …….The parliament also approved the changes to the Constitution, implementing a political reform backed by outgoing President Kuchma as a part of a political compromise between the acting authorities and opposition.

      So in the heady atmosphere of the Supreme Court ordering a re-run for the second round of the election it seems the Rada got carried away and attempted to kill two birds with one stone; passing laws to provide a legal framework for a new round of elections AND approving the newly amended draft law No. 4180.

      Now the Constitutional Court only ruled on the adoption of draft law No. 4180 as Law No. 2222 (since that is what 252 deputies apparently petitioned the court on), but even my cursory reading of the English translation of the 1996 Constitution has me just how the Rada managed to draft or amend laws to provide a legal framework for a new round of elections when Article 156 of the 1996 Constitution states:
      A draft law on introducing amendments to Chapter I – “General Principles,” Chapter III – “Elections. Referendum,” and …

      Any chance you can change the relevant section and then delete this post mark?

      • marknesop says:

        I tried, but I can’t alter incorrectly-positioned italics, I’m afraid. I copied the relevant section from your re-do, pasted it into the comment and deleted what you already had there, but it made no difference and the whole section is still italicized. It’s a common mistake but I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do to fix it as it is embedded coding.

        • Hunter says:

          No problem mark. I even noticed two more errors. I had “as” instead of “was” here (with the “was” now in bold):

          “seems to be fairly straightforward in claiming that the draft law (No. 4180) amending large sections of the Constitution was originally submitted to the Constitutional Court for an obligatory opinion on its contents (such opinion was provided in December 2003) and then the draft law was amended on June 23, 2004 and the amended draft again submitted to the Constitutional Court (which again provided an opinion, this time on October 12, 2004). Apparently”

          and this seciton: “Now the Constitutional Court only ruled on the adoption of draft law No. 4180 as Law No. 2222″

          should have read (with missing word in bold):

          Now the Constitutional Court only ruled on the adoption of draft law No. 4180 as Law No. 2222 (since that is what 252 deputies apparently petitioned the court on), but even my cursory reading of the English translation of the 1996 Constitution has me wondering just how the Rada managed to draft or amend laws to provide a legal framework for a new round of elections when Article 156 of the 1996 Constitution states:

        • Hunter says:

          And another missing word:

          “Of course, the trick here is that it was up to the Orange parties to push for the re-adoption of those Constitutional amendments seeing as they had 227 members (a majority) as AP”

    • yalensis says:

      Excellent comment, Hunter.
      This is is extremely interesting legal research.

    • hoct says:

      Valuable stuff, this really serves to shed more light on everything. A key thing to take from it may be that both factions claim their rivals pushed through their favored version of the Constitution in an irregular manner. As you note, in 2010 the Constitutional Court threw out the 2004 Constitution on procedural grounds. Meanwhile last month the Rada sacked five judges of the Constitutional Court claiming they acted unconstitutionally when they had done so in 2010.

      It is possible this explains both the bitterness of AP (and possibly other opposition supporters) about MP defections in 2012, as well as the apparent guile of Yanukovich in accepting the extended presidential powers in 2010 without a repeat election.

      If you agree with the present Rada that the Constitutional Court itself acted unconstitutionally when it reverted to the 1996 Constitution in 2010, then to my mind it follows that the 2004 Constitution remained in place past this time and the MPs did not have the privilege to defect from their parliamentary faction. (Albeit I do not know if the new powers in Kyiv accept this implication. Does Turchynov according to them, at this time have the extended powers of the 1996 Constitution or the more limited powers of the 2004 version?)

      Meanwhile when Yanukovich was elected president in 2010 it was seemingly for a more limited presidency under the 2004 Constitution, so it is easy to see AP’s point that when the 1996 Constitution was reintroduced he should have subjected himself to another vote to confirm the people wanted him as a president with more extended powers under this Constitution. However, if the Constitutional Court declared the procedure that introduced the 2004 Constitution irregular, then it was never valid and the 1996 Constitution remained in place the whole time and he technically did not need to do that. Albeit again, I don’t know if that was the actual stated reasoning of the Yanukovich camp.

      It really goes to show the depth of the divide where people from the two camps can disagree even on what Constitution was lawful for the past 10 years. And you’re right, you have to go all the way back to 2004 (!) to untangle this. Just goes to show what a number the West has done on this country and society by mindlessly dragging it towards itself and in the process ripping it apart.

      • kirill says:

        Let’s not forget that the Constitutional Court was experienced a purge after 2004 when Yuschenko came to power. So it was Orange approved judges that threw out the 2004 constitution.

      • Hunter says:

        I think to delve further into this one would need to research the 2010 judgment and who the judges were and what the kind of support the decision had (out of the 16 or 18 judges of the Constitutional Court) and whether the resignation of four judges (allegedly under pressure from Yanukovych) would have actually had any impact on the voting for the decision among the judges.

        I attempted to research the composition of the court at the time of the judgement based on the court’s own website (http://www.ccu.gov.ua/uk/publish/category/7480) but when I attempted to look at the retired judges it shows there are 36 such retired judges and one would have to go through each entry to reconstruct who was around in october 2010 and who may have resigned in the lead up to the that decision in late september/early october 2010. As I am not a native speaker of an East Slavic language (or any Slavic language for that matter) I have to rely on google translations, so perhaps yalensis or kirill or hoct could go through that and reconstruct who was around in the court throughout all of 2010 (as well as in late 2007 to June 2008 (when the constitutional court made two other rulings of interest, one in February 2008 on the same appeal as the 2010 judgement but this time by 102 depuities wherein it declared that the constitutional court could not rule on the appeal because Law No. 2222 had already come into effect and its provisions became integral parts of the Ukrainian Constitution and the Law itself lost legal force (thus necessitating the rejection of the appeal by the 102 deputies) and one in June 2008 wherein it declared as unconstitutional a law by the Rada introduced in 2006 which specifically excluded from the jurisdiction of the constitutional court were “laws of Ukraine on introducing amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine that entered into force”). See this link for more on that: http://www.en.pravo.org.ua/files/Constitutional%20issues/CDL-AD2010044.pdf

        I already have a partial list of who was around at the time of the 2010 judgement (and who may have been around at the time of the February and June 2008 judgements). Out of the 16 current judges listed on the website we would have had:

        Baulin, Yuri (currently chairman/president of the court) – appointed by the President of Ukraine in February 2008, oath taken 3 June 2008

        Bryntsev, Vasily – appointed by the Congress of judges in 2005

        Vdovychenko, Sergey – appointed by the President of Ukraine in May 2008, oath taken 3 June 2008

        Gultay, Mikhail – appointed by the Congress of judges in September 2010

        Zaporozhets, Mikhail – appointed by the Congress of Judges in September 2010

        Sergeichuk, Oleg – appointed in September 2010 (not sure by whom; it could be the President of Ukraine, the Rada or the Congress of Judges)

        Stetsyuk, Pyotr – appointed in August 2006 by the Rada

        Shishkin, Viktor – appointed in November 2005 by the President of Ukraine

        So that’s 8 who were definitely around for the 2010 judgement and 3 who were definitely around for both 2008 judgments and 4 who may have been around for the February 2008 judgement and 5 who may have been around for the June 2008 judgement.

        Now note that it seems for the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, there are 3 bodies who can appoint judges to the Court; the President of Ukraine; the Rada and a Congress of Judges.

        It’s fairly reasonable to assume that any appointments made between December 2004 and January 2010 were done by either a possibly neutral Congress of Judges or an Orange dominated Rada/Presidency. Appointments made between January 2010 and October 2010 would have been made through a possibly neutral Congress of Judges, an Orange majority Rada or a Blue/POR Presidency. Also noteworthy to keep in mind is that the Judges are generally appointed for a term of 9 years but obliged to resign at the age of 65.

        Now from the Wikipedia article on the Constitutional Court of Ukraine we have an outdated list of judges which includes a list of Judges appointed by the President:

        Volodymyr Kampo (Володимир Михайлович Кампо) since August 4, 2006
        Dmytro Lylak (Дмитро Дмитрович Лилак) since August 4, 2006
        Viktor Shyshkin (Віктор Іванович Шишкін) since August 4, 2006
        Yurij Baulin (Юрій Васильович Баулін) since June 3, 2007
        Sergij Vdovichenko (Вдовіченко Сергій Леонідович) since June 3, 2007
        Yurij Nikitin (Юрій Іванович Нікітін) since June 3, 2007

        and a list of judges appointed by the Congress of Judges:

        Vasyl Bryntsev (Василь Дмитрович Бринцев) since August 4, 2006
        Vyacheslav Dzhun’ (В’ячеслав Васильович Джунь) since August 4, 2006
        Anatoliy Didkivskyy (Анатолій Олександрович Дідківський) since August 4, 2006
        Ivan Dombrovskyy (Іван Петрович Домбровський) since August 4, 2006;
        Yaroslava Machuzhak (Ярослава Василівна Мачужак) since August 4, 2006
        Andriy Stryzhak (Андрій Андрійович Стрижак) since August 4, 2006 (appointed to the court in 2004, but not sworn in until 2006[7])

        But with the list of judges appointed by the Rada missing.

        If this outdated and incomplete list is fairly accurate then it would add 3 more judges appointed by the President (Yushchenko) who should have been around for all 3 judgments (namely Kampo, Lylak and Nikitin) and 5 judges appointed by the Congress of Judges who were around for all 3 judgments (namely Dzhun, Didkivskiy, Dombrovskiy, Machuzhak and Stryzhak).

        this would bring the total possible number of known judges (and their possible external influences) to:

        For February 2008 judgement – 11-12 out of 16 or 18 (1 by an Orange Rada, 6 by Congress of Judges and 4 or 5 by an Orange President)

        For June 2008 judgement – 12-13 out of 16 or 18 (1 by an Orange Rada, 6 by Congress of Judges and 5 or 6 by an Orange President)

        For October 2010 judgement – 14-16 out of 16 or 18 (1 appointed by somebody but no info on who; 1 by an Orange Rada, 4-6 by an Orange President and 6-8 by the Congress of Judges).

        Now here’s the bit where it gets tricky. There were 3 judges appointed in September 2010 and presumably they replaced 3 of the 4 judges who were allegedly pressured to resign in the lead up to the 2010 judgement. However 2 of them were definitely appointed by the Congress of Judges and it seems that the Constitutional Court is composed of judges appointed in equal number from the 3 appointing bodies or persons (6 by the Rada, 6 by the President and 6 by the Congress of Judges). So it seems likely that rather than there being 8 judges having been appointed by the Congress of Judges at the time of the 2010 ruling, instead it was 6 of whom at least 2 but possibly 3 were appointed by the Congress of Judges in September 2010.

        What I don’t understand is why Yanukovych would have pressured 4 judges to resign including 2 (or posibly 3) who would apparently have to be replaced not by himself but by the Congress of Judges, while apparently leaving 6 judges previously appointed by the Orange Revolutionary President, Yushchenko, to sit pretty on their chairs. Surely it would have made more sense for him to pressure all 6 judges who were appointed by Yushchenko to resign so he could directly replace them with his own appointees. After all that way he is extremely sure to get 6 judges who would reflect his wishes. Something that seems very uncertain if he had to get 4 new judges amenable to his position via the Congress of Judges. And even then if there were only 16 or 18 judges at the time including 6 appointed by Yushchenko and 1 appointed by an Orange dominated Rada (and presumably the rest of the Rada’s quota of judges (4 or 6) having been appointed by an Orange majority Rada), simple mathemetics would indicate that at least 7 of the judges were appointed by Orange dominated institutions and possibly 10-12 appointed by Orange dominated institutions while only 4 judges would have been newly appointed through some convoluted corrupt process wherein the Blue Reactionary President Yanukovych got them appointed via an institution that he has no actual control over and could only possibly bribe to get his way (even then how he could be sure they wouldn’t simply take his bribe money and appoint independent judges anyway? What would he do then? Call them out for not fulfilling a corrupt deal and in the process openly admit to his own corruption?). So in theory anywhere between 7 to 12 or even 14 of the judges would not have been Yanukovych influenced from the start and on the balance of probability would have been neutral or indeed Orange-leaning in outlook. So indeed it would seem that unless the vote was extremely tight (assuming the judges of the constitutional court are not required to come a unanimous decision on any judgement) then as kirill alleges it would seem that Orange-approved threw out the Orange Revolution Constitution.

        Now why did they throw it out in 2010 after declaring in 2008 that they couldn’t hear appeals on the procedural flaws of its adoption? Well I would imagine it had something to do with that 2006 law which attempted to exclude from the jurisdiction of the constitutional court “laws of Ukraine on introducing amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine that entered into force”. As this law (an amendment to the law on the constitutional court) would have been in effect from 2006 to June 2008 it would mean that in February 2008 the judges were obliged to abide by that law.

        When the judges themselves (at the time they would likely have been a majority of Orange approved judges) reviewed that 2006 law they found it unconstitutional (possibly because it would have been seen as a constitutional amendment and quite possibly may never have been brought before the Constitutional Court in the first place as required by Article 159 of the Ukrainian Constitution (both the 1996 and 2004 Constitutions) for the allegedly obligatory opinion of the Constitutional Court – that is another area that would need to be researched). Hence when the law itself was tossed aside in June 2008 it would have meant that the Constitutional Court did indeed have jurisdiction over the review of the procedural irregularities in the adoption of the 2004 Constitution and so in reviewing the renewed appeal in 2010 were able to conclude that 2004 Constitution was adopted irregularly and thus null and void.

        And indeed coming from a Common Law background (just about all English-speaking jurisdictions have a Common Law basis) it would seem to me that the February 2008 judgement was very strange in that it basically said that once a law was adopted, even incorrectly, it was out of the hands of review by a body that is mandated to review and make judgments on laws themselves. If that 2006 law was upheld it would mean that once any law entered into force the Constitutional Court could never review it and that the Rada would in essence make the Constitutional Court toothless and irrelevant of the very Constitution which it was tasked with protecting the integrity of. It would mean that the Rada could pass a new constitution which completely trampled on human rights and removed the need for referenda for certain constitutional amendments and indeed could pass a new constitution which abolished the Constitutional Court itself without ANY court being able to declare such a law unconstitutional on the grounds that it had already entered into force and was thus out of the hands of the judiciary. It’s hard for me to imagine any country with such a legal tradition which wouldn’t over time find itself shifting from democracy and respect for human rights to dictatorship and corruption since it would mean no constitutionally guaranteed human rights were actually protected once the Rada and President could push through a law quickly enough to have it enter into force before the Constitutional Court could review it and after which no Court could presumably be able to review it but would simply be forced to abide by it.

        • yalensis says:

          Dear Hunter:
          Your research is important, and I would be happy to help with translations.
          Not sure where to start, though…
          If you post a link, I will translate for you…

          • Hunter says:

            Thanks yalensis,

            What would need to be done in order to ascertain how likely it is that Yanukovych had actually packed the court with his supporters is to determine which judges who are now retired were:

            1. Appointed to the Constitutional Court and still on the Court by the time of the September 30/October 1 2010 ruling throwing out the 2004 Constitution

            2. Appointed to the Constitutional Court but allegedly pressured to resign in the lead up to the October 2010 ruling (thus any judges who retired between January 1 2010 and October 1 2010)

            Additionally to gain a clearer picture of just how the legal understanding has evolved it would also be necessary to determine:

            3. Which judges were appointed to the Constitutional Court and were still on the Court by the time of the February 2008 rejection of the appeal to consider the adoption of the 2004 Constitution as unconstitutional

            4. Which judges were appointed to the Constitutional Court and were still on the Court by the time of the June 2008 ruling which overturned and declared as unconstitutional the 2006 law which attempted to prevent the Constitutional Court from being able to review laws which were already entered into force.

            The link to use is: http://www.ccu.gov.ua/uk/publish/category/8301;jsessionid=E1758490FF874EE761819E03A1F99B9B

            There are 4 pages with 36 judges in there.

            Possible names to look out for and confirm are:

            judges appointed by the President
            Volodymyr Kampo (Володимир Михайлович Кампо) since August 4, 2006
            Dmytro Lylak (Дмитро Дмитрович Лилак) since August 4, 2006
            Yurij Nikitin (Юрій Іванович Нікітін) since June 3, 2007

            judges appointed by the Congress of Judges:

            Vyacheslav Dzhun’ (В’ячеслав Васильович Джунь) since August 4, 2006
            Anatoliy Didkivskyy (Анатолій Олександрович Дідківський) since August 4, 2006
            Ivan Dombrovskyy (Іван Петрович Домбровський) since August 4, 2006;
            Yaroslava Machuzhak (Ярослава Василівна Мачужак) since August 4, 2006
            Andriy Stryzhak (Андрій Андрійович Стрижак) since August 4, 2006 (appointed to the court in 2004, but not sworn in until 2006[7])

            But there should be anywhere between 4 to 17 other judges who would fall within the 4 categories outlined above.

            Since there are 4 pages of 36 judges, maybe if 4 of us went through each page we could more quickly determine which judges fell into the 4 categories outlined above…..

            • yalensis says:

              Dear Hunter:
              Sounds like a plan.
              I hope this is your going to be your dissertation, because it sounds like a great topic for thesis!

              Anyhow, I don’t have time right at this minute, but later tonight I have start. I’ll start with Page 1 and commit to pages 1-4, for now. See how far I get in the next couple of days. (wish I could stay home, but I’m very busy at work, too.)

              Just to clarify what we’re looking for:
              For example, the very first judge on page 1 is Serhiy Markiyanovich Vinokurov. Like all the others on this tab, he is noted as “Суддя Конституційного Суду України у відставці” = Judge of Ukraine’s Constitutional Court in Retirement.
              Clicking on Vinokurov, we get this brief biography.
              Appointed to Constitutional Court 16-JUNE-2010.
              Seems to have been fired from the Court on 19-NOV-2013.

              (The stock phrase is припинив повноваження судді , I think that means “was relieved of his duties as Judge…” but not 100% sure, as I don’t really know Ukrainian that well.)

              Anyhow, does this seem like what you are looking for?

              Here, by the way, are the names of the Ukrainian months for anybody helping to translate:

              Січень = January
              Лютий = February
              Березень = March
              Квітень = April
              Травень = May
              Червень = June
              Липень = July
              Серпень = August
              Вересень = September
              Жовтень = October
              Листопад = November
              Грудень = December

              Aside from the months, the rest should be easy to translate, even for people not knowing Ukrainian, since the blurbs all seem to follow the same format and use the same stock phrases.

              So, in summary, I will start with Page 1, later tonight, and see how far I can get.

              • Hunter says:

                Yes exactly. He would have been around for the October 2010 ruling.

                What is also important though is to find out how the judge was appointed (it seems he was appointed by Yanukovych). Some entries say appointed by the President, some say appointed by the Rada and some say appointed by the Congress of Judges.

                in any case Vinokurov was apparently not fired but obliged to resign since he left the court one day after turning 65.

          • Hunter says:

            Yalensis!

            I feel sheepish. I looked around on the Constitutional Court of Ukraine’s website again and noticed up in the corner: UKR | RUS | ENG

            So it seems they have the website in English as well.

            So I just ran through all the retired judges as well and was able to find some more judges who were around at the time of the 3 relevant decisions. There were others though who MAY have been around but I’m not sure since the date they resigned or were fired from the Court is not given.

            First the ones who we now know for sure were around (those in bold are still in the Court; those in italics were fired or resigned before the October 2010 ruling; those with an asterisk beside their name were appointed before the October 2010 ruling but after the 2008 rulings, those with a hash-tag/number sign beside their name were possibly around for at least one of the 2008 rulings but not the other):

            # Yuri Baulin – appointed February 2008 (oath taken 3 June 2008) by the President. Born: Donetsk. Possibly around for the June 2008 ruling but not the February 2008 ruling.

            Vasily Bryntsev – appointed in November 2005 by the Congress of Judges. Born: Kharkiv

            # Sergei Vdovychenko – appointed May 2008 (oath taken 3 June 2008) by the President. Born: Donetsk. Possibly around for the June 2008 ruling but not the February 2008 ruling.

            * Mikhail Hultai (Gultay) – appointed September 2010 by the Congress of Judges. Born: Ivano-Frankivsk

            * Mikahail Zaporezhets – appointed September 2010 by the Congress of Judges. Born: Kyiv region

            * Oleg Sergeichuk – appointed September 2010 by Congress of Judges. Born: Sevastopol

            Pyotr Stetsyuk – appointed August 2006 by the Rada. Born: Ivano-Frankivsk

            * Natalia Shaptala – appointed September 2010 by the Congress of Judges. Born: Donetsk

            Viktor Shishkin – apppointed November 2005 by the President. Born: Tyraspol, Moldavian SSR

            Anatoli Holovin – appointed August 2006 (oath taken 4 Aug 2006) by the Rada. Fired by the Rada on 24 February 2014. Born: Donetsk

            Volodymyr Kampo – appointed November 2005 (oath taken 4 Aug 2006) by the President. Retired 17 September 2013 aged 65. Born: Transcarpathia

            Mykhailo Kolos – appointed August 2006 (oath taken 4 Aug 2006) by the Rada. Fired by the Rada on 24 February 2014. Born: Khmelnytsky

            Dmytro Lylak – appointed November 2005 (oath taken 4 Aug 2006) by the President. Resigned 25 April 2013. Born: Ivano-Frankivsk

            Maria Markush – appointed August 2006 (oath taken 4 Aug 2006) by the Rada. Fired by the Rada on 24 February 2014. Born: Transcarpathia

            # Yuri Nikitin – appointed April 2008 (oath taken 3 Jun 2008) by the President. Resigned or fired 15 June 2010. Born: Lviv. Possibly around for the June 2008 ruling but not the February 2008 ruling.

            Viacheslav Ovcharenko – appointed August 2006 (oath taken 4 Aug 2006) by the Rada. Fired by the Rada on 24 February 2014. Born: Donetsk

            Pavlo Tkachuk – appointed July 2002 (oath taken 10 September 2002) by the Rada. 22 December 2010 – elected deputy chairman of the court. Resigned or fired: unknown, but after 22 December 2010 so he was around for all 3 rulings. Born: Zhytomyr

            * Sergei Vynokurov – appointed June 2010 (oath taken 16 June 2010) by the President. Retired 19 November 2013 aged 65. Born: Odessa

            Suzanna Stanik – appointed 25 March 2004 by the President. Resigned (or fired?) April 2010. Born: Lviv

            Andrii Stryzhak – appointed December 2004 (oath taken 4 August 2006) by Congress of Judges. Retired 22 February 2013 aged 65. Born: Transcarpathia.

            So 20 judges overall whose career dates are relevant and known.

            Of the 20 we have:

            – 18 who were known to be around for the October 2010 ruling. Of which:
            – 5 were appointed after the 2008 rulings but before the October 2010 ruling. Of which:
            – only one was appointed by Yanukovych himself.
            – four were appointed by the Congress of Judges
            – 5 were appointed by Yushchenko between 2005 and 2008
            – 5 were appointed by the Rada after the March 26, 2006 elections in which the Orange Revolution parties (Tymoshenko bloc, socialists and Our Ukraine) had a majority of 243 in the Rada
            – 1 was appointed by the Rada before the Orange Revolution but NOT under the Yanukovych government of November 2002 until 2004, but by under then Kinakh government which retained most of the ministers of the previous Yushchenko government
            – 2 were appointed by the Congress of Judges after the Orange Revolution and before Yanukovych’s comeback in early 2010
            – 4 were appointed by the Congress of Judges shortly before the October 2010 ruling and after Yanukovych’s electoral comeback in 2010.

            Thus by the time of the October 2010 ruling we had 10 judges who were appointed either by Yushchenko or an Orange Revolution dominated Rada, a further 2 judges appointed by the Congress of Judges within 1 year of the Orange Revolution, 4 judges appointed by the Congress of Judges shortly before the ruling, 1 judge appointed by Yanukovych himself and 1 judge appointed by the Rada before the Orange Revolution but under a government that maintained most of the ministers from pre-Orange Revolution Orange Revolutionary Mr. Yushchenko..

            So at least 10 judges out of the 18 were basically appointed by Orange Revolution actors. And the court managed to rule that the 2004 Constitution was adopted unconstitutionally.

            That doesn’t sound very convincing to me that Yanukovych had stuffed the court with his supporters unless the implication is that the entire Ukrainian judicial system is so rotten to the core that any judges appointed by Orange Revolution politicians would support Yanukovych’s goals. Or the implication is that the Orange Revolution politicians managed to actually pick judges who leaned more towards the views and goals of Yanukovych…..

            • Hunter says:

              Hmmm….actually the 5 appointed by the Rada in 2006 would have been appointed just one month after the collapse of the Orange alliance among the socialists, our ukraine and tymoshenko’s bloc when our ukraine and tymoshenko’s factions began fighting and the socialists (and initially our ukraine) joined with the party of regions and communists in an alliance of national unity government.

              So in fact they might have been appointed by a Rada in which Yanukovych held sway with his alliance of national unity.

              So the breakdown might have been:

              5 Orange Revolutionary appointed

              6 Yanukovych appointed (directly as president or through Rada)

              2 Congress of Judges appointed within 1 year of the orange revolution

              4 Congress of Judges appointed shortly before the October 2010 ruling

              1 appointed by the Rada before the Orange Revolution

            • yalensis says:

              Hi, Hunter,
              Great job!
              I didn’t notice the English tag either. It’s great that everything is available in several languages.
              Just as well, since those Ukrainian month names are a bit unorthodox.
              I like them, though, they are very poetic sounding.

              Anyhow, sounds like you have a solid argument against the likes of AP who insist that Yanukovych stacked the court, and therefore everything all means were permitted in overthrowing him. There is nothing like solid facts and number to refute empty B.S.
              I hope you are going to publish this somewhere. (Or maybe it is your dissertation thesis?)

              • marknesop says:

                I agree; this is pretty much the “Ukrainian Judges Omnibus”. A mammoth piece of work and quite a detailed piece of research in only a matter of a day or two; very well done and a useful piece of work for purposes of refutation as well as just general research. Very well done.

                • Hunter says:

                  Thanks yalensis and mark,

                  another benefit of pulling together this information is that it also allows us to reveal the potential for bias in another Constitutional Court ruling which seems to have been ultimately important to giving the protesters and Orange supporters and opposition a reason in their minds for claiming that Yanukovych had been illegally accumulating power; apparently in March 2010 there was a Constitutional Court ruling which declared as legal (under the terms of the 2004 constitution incidentally which had still not yet been declared unconstitutionally adopted) the formation of a coalition consisting of the party of regions, communists and individuals from other parliamentary factions including the Tymoshenko Bloc. This coalition’s formation had been challenged by the opposition, in particular the Fatherland party on the grounds that the constitution only allowed for coalitions to be formed from parliamentary factions in their entirety.

                  I believe that this ruling more than any other might be why AP and other Orange supporters contend that Yanukovych acquired more power illegally. But now with the info on the judges who were around at the time it should be possible to see how the Constitutional Court may have been influenced by the composition of the Court itself and who appointed the various judges.

                  Of course there always remains the possibility that the Constitutional court judges were actually bribed into giving a favourable ruling but unless there is actually any evidence of such an occurrence then judging the judges as guilty of bribery is disavow the principle that everyone is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.

                  What this all seems to point to though is that Orange parties, having undermined themselves through infighting between 2004 and 2006 and their refusal to actively cooperate in elections in 2012 (where they could have gained a majority in parliament if they decided to agree to field only a single candidate and back that candidate in the first-past-the-post seats*) have been unable to accept that they had been outmanouvred legitimately by Yanukovych and his Party of Regions between 2006 and 2013

                  * note that the parliamentary election system in 2012 which allowed the party of regions to gain a plurality of the seats and make it easier to form a coalition of its own making was put in place apparently by the Party of Regions and Fatherland party agreeing on the measure during the life of the 2007-2012 parliament; without the support of some members from at least some of the Orange parties there is no way that such changes would have gained the majority necessary for it become law

                • marknesop says:

                  To all appearances you are correct in your assumptions, and again, nice work. In many cases the Orange argument that Yanukovych illegally seized disproportionate powers is based solely upon emotion and hearsay, and this provides a powerful body of evidence to refute it.

          • Hunter says:

            Now for the other judges who may have been around for at least one of the 2008 cases:

            Anatoli Didikivski – appointed November 2005 (oath taken 4 Aug 2006) by Congress of Judges. Retirement/Resignation unknown. Would be 65 in 2015. Born: Zhytomyr

            Ivan Dombrovski – appointed November 2005 (oath taken 4 Aug 2006) by Congress of Judges. Retirement/Resignation unknown. Was 65 in 2012. Born: Odessa

            Viacheslav Dzhun – appointed November 2005 (oath taken 4 Aug 2006) by Congress of Judges. Retirement/Resignation unknown. Would be 65 in 2017. Born: Dnipropetrovsk

            Volodymyr Ivaschenko – appointed March 2001 by the President. Retirement/Resignation unknown. Was 65 in 2013. Born: Kyiv

            Yaroslava Machuzhak – appointed November 2005 (oath taken 4 Aug 2006) by Congress of Judges. Retirement/Resignation unknown. Would be 65 in 2021. Born: Lviv

          • Hunter says:

            From the list of 20 judges whose terms are known we also find that in the case of the 2008 rulings we have:

            – 6 who were definitely around for both 2008 rulings and who were appointed by the Rada

            – 2 who were appointed by the Congress of Judges and would have been around for both rulings

            – 3 who were definitely around for both 2008 rulings and who were appointed by the President

            – 1 who may have been around for both 2008 rulings and who were appointed by the President

            – 2 who were around for the June 2008 ruling but not the February 2008 ruling and who were appointed by the President.

            Overall:

            – 11 definitely known to have been around for the February 2008 ruling and possibly 12

            – 14 definitely known to have been around for the June 2008 ruling

            – 1 around for both rulings but not around for the October 2010 ruling (appointed by President Kuchma)

            – 1 around for the June 2008 ruling but not the October 2010 ruling (appointed by President Yushchenko)

            -10 (possibly 11) around for the February 2008 ruling, the June 2008 ruling and the October 2010 ruling

            – 12 around for the June 2008 ruling and the October 2010 ruling.

            Hence a majority of the judges were around at the time that the 2007/February 2008 challenge over the constitutionality of the 2004 amendments was thrown out and at the time that the 2006 amendment attempting to restrict the Constitutional Court to laws not yet in effect was deemed unconstitutional and at the time that the constitutionality of the 2004 amendments was again challenged (this time successfully) and the court ruled on a law that was already in effect.

      • Hunter says:

        Also, it would seem to me that unless one wants to only selectively follow what a court rules upon then what has been happening is that indeed the 2004 Constitution was improperly adopted and thus never actually valid but that AP and other Orange supporters have been equating what is morally correct or ethically correct with what is legal and constitutional. The same thing happens a lot in other countries, because people seem to have trouble separating law (which is based off morals and ethics but which MUST follow logic in order for society to function) from morals and ethics (which are on a different kind of plane than law in that moral arguments and ethically arguments don’t require for logical steps to be followed in order to be valid. They are themselves valid regardless of logic).

        Morally and ethically Yanukovych probably should have resigned in 2010 and put himself before the electorate again in a new set of Presidential elections following the October 2010 court ruling. But it wasn’t unconstitutional or illegal for for him not to do so if the Constitutional Court in its recommendations of the October 2010 judgement didn’t actually require him to do so. And indeed it would be a rare politician who probably would have done that

  6. Hunter says:

    I would love to see someone pull together the observations and analysis of hoct, AK, Patrick Armstrong, mark, alexander mercouris, moon of alabama, paul vickers (of http://uauk.wordpress.com/), odessablogger, cluborlov (http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/), graham w phillips (brit in ukraine blog) and Carlos (spainbuca; the spaniard working at the airport in Kiev).

  7. yalensis says:

    Here is some interesting info on Crimean pension situation.

    Kiev regime Minister of Labour Ludmila Denisova, accounced yesterday that Ukraine will continue to pay the pensions of Crimean residents, as before the referendum.
    Denisova stated that she does not recognize the results of the referendum. As far as she is concerned, Crimea is still a province of Ukraine, and she will continue to pay the people their pensions. In hryvnas, not rubles.

    This was a reversal of a hasty measure from earlier; Ukrainian officials, in full snit, cut off the bank accounts that process the Crimean pensions. So, those accounts were blocked by Kiev, but then they thought better of their hasty decision, and the blocks were removed on those bank accounts.

    Denisova said that she used to put the checks in the mail, but she can’t do that any more, because of the situation, the way things are now, and the postal service stopped working. Instead, Crimean people will have to switch to direct deposit or debit cards, if they want to receive ther pensions.

    Russia has also promised to start paying Crimean citizens their pensions, effective immediately, and switch them over to the Russian pension system.

    Conclusion: Elderly residents of Crimea, you are in for a treat! TWO PENSION CHECKS instead of one! But be sure to rush and fill out the paperwork, you need to switch to direct deposit ASAP.

    • kirill says:

      These idiots always close the barn doors after the horses have fled. Watch for them to start re-introducing Russian language rights when it becomes clear to them that they cannot control eastern Ukraine.

  8. yalensis says:

    More economic developments :
    Yesterday the Parliament of the Crimean Autonomy adopted a bill that nationalizes two public entities, “ChernomorNefteGaz” (Black Sea Oil and Gas) and “UkrTransGaz” (also a gas company).

    Crimean Parliament says these nationalizations are done to ensure the energy independence and security of the Crimean peninsula.

    Also nationalized was a Theodosia Petroleum company.

  9. yalensis says:

    Meanwhile, everybody is worried that Ukrainian junta will try to get even with Crimea, by cutting off their water, electricity, and gas.

    This analysis by Viktor Yadukha is interesting. According to Yadukha, Crimea’s gas supply is insured for the future, and Crimea can build all the electric power stations she needs. So, the future looks rosy. The problem, however, is with the immediate present. Like, the next couple of months or so.

    Here is the situation with electricity: During peak hours Crimea uses 1.4GW. [does that mean giga-watts?]
    The 4 local power stations between them produce only .2GW. The remaining 1.2GW must be received from Ukrainian mainland.

    One should expect that Ukraine will cut off Crimea’s electricity, in order to get even, for the referendum.

    To alleviate that risk, diesen generators are being rushed over from Sochi, via the Kerchensk Straight. These are the very same generators that were used for Sochi Olympics. 900 generators are on the way; between them, they provide an additional .2GW. That still leaves one whole Gigawatt that needs to be found somehow, to keep everything blasting along during peak hours.
    Not to mention the fact that these generators don’t come cheap.

    To make up the difference, there must be done some feverish construction to lay down cable in the Kerchensk Straight, to supply Crimea with gas directly from Russia; plus, there are also plans to feverishly build 2 electrical generating stations.

    Yadukha goes on to say that most of Crimean electrical energy grid belongs to the Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov. Akhmetov opposed the Referendum and is considered to be somewhat unfriendly to Russia. However, Crimean P.M. Aksonov, has assured Rinat and other oligarchs, that their private property will not be touched; so we have to just wait and see how they react.

    Aside from electricity, Crimea’s most urgent problem is FRESH WATER. Crimea is 85% dependent on water on the Dnipr River, which belongs to Ukraine. The fresh water is delivered from the river to Crimea via the North-Crimea Canal, which was built 56 years ago, in Soviet times. (actually in Khrushchev times – see, Nikita might have actually had some logical administrative reasons to switch Crimea over to Ukrainian jurisdiction, aside from any ethnic leanings).

    The canal starts at the Kakhovsky Reservoir and ends in the outskirts of Kerch. The canal is 402.6 kilometers long. The canal supplies fresh water to Theodosia, Kerch, Sudak, and many other towns and villagers in the Simferopol region.

    Vasily Stashuk, who is charge of Ukraine’s water resources, announced a couple of days ago that he did not intend to cut off the canal to Crimea. In any case, the canal isn’t even running right now, it is seasonal, and they shut it down between November and March. According to the schedule, the canal is supposed to be switched back on March 19 (=tomorrow!)

    But what will happen if the Ukrainians DON’T switch the canal on, in order to punish Crimea?
    According to Yadukha, this will harm the local agriculture, and many Crimean towns will be left without a water supply. There ARE other reservoirs of water, like, from the Caucasus mountain streams and so on, but this is not enough to supply the entire peninsula.

    Hence, if the Ukrainians were to shut off the canal, then they could truly harm Crimea.
    On the other hand, Yadukha points out that if they did that, they would also harm themselves, because if they dammed up the water, then it would flood their own shores. If they closed the sluices, then all Ukrainian towns on Dnipr River downstream of the sluices, would be flooded.

    These are the practical things to take into account, and to watch for.

    • Al says:

      “…but could not agree on sanctioning all 130 Russian officials on their list of targets…”

      Rogozin tweeted: ‘Comrade Obama, what should those who have neither accounts nor property abroad do? Have you not thought about it?’

  10. Al says:

    A great post by hoct. Fascinating post by hunter and good suggestion (looks like a lot of work).

    I would like to request Mark to to big up his guest posters much more prominently, maybe modify (or place prominently at the beginning) the headline to mention that it includes a guest post from hoct (plus link to site etc.), emphasize his raison-d’etre and mention him again under the heading at the start of his post. The Kremlin Stooge feat. special guest hoct. (like any great chat show host, music artist or roundtable)! Some sort of timeline would be nice for events (and stuff that the MSM ignores), too, though that might be too much to ask…

    • hoct says:

      Chat shows however feature superstars which I am not. Perhaps it is better to leave introductory bigging up of the author at the side and let the text speak for itself. Thanks for the thought mate, but personally I don’t see it. But I’m glad you liked the post.

      • Al says:

        Not so much super stars (there are plenty of crap superstars), but people with interesting things to say that are worth hearing/reading, regardless of agreeing, something in the middle, or not.

        I’m not slighting Mark in anyway, but I think it would simply be nice to highlight guest posts (especially when someone has gone to a lot of effort to produce it), even if it only says ‘with extra guest post included’ or something in the title. It would also be a good way promote the Kremlin Stooge and stand out more.

        I think it great that Mark actively encourages his passionate commenters to contribute more substantially if they wish. I think that most of us have our heads screwed on quite well and all have good points to contribute but for most it is quite a big step to do a biggie. It doesn’t come naturally to many of us for various reasons.

  11. yalensis says:

    Extry! Extry!

    EU sanctions against Ukrainian businessmen who don’t agree with their opinions !

    One of them is Ukrainian oligarch Serhiy Kurchenko, who used to own the Ukrainian version of Forbes Magazine. Along with 17 other businessmen/oligarchs (call them what you will, depending on your political slant), Kurchenko had his assets frozen by vengeful EU officials.
    In addition to owning Forbes Ukraine (which he purchased after they ran an article criticizing him), Kurchenko also owns a football club in Kharkiv, and also some gas holdings.

    “Kurchenko is believed to have fled to Belarus. The EU has frozen his cash, cheques facilities, bank deposits, stocks and shares while he is under investigation in Ukraine over the misappropriation of state funds and their illegal transfer abroad.”

    Yats blames Kurchenko for looting Ukrainian treasury of $70 billion.
    Yats was so upset about this, that he had to ship all 40 tonnes of Ukrainian gold bars to American Fort Knox, for safe keeping. (no doubt, to prevent Kurchenko for getting his hands on the gold… ?)

  12. Al says:

    Klitschko is such a riot!

    http://www.euronews.com/2014/03/17/ukraine-crisis-klitschko-warns-of-humanitarian-disaster-in-crimea/

    “Crimea is today on the brink of a humanitarian disaster. The Ukrainian citizens there are left at the mercy of foreign occupiers and local criminals. There is also a risk of ethnic cleansing. Crimean Tatars, ethnic Ukrainians and all patriots of Ukraine are threatened,” Klitschko said.

    I guess he is calling for ‘humanitarian intervention’ then?

    Does he also do weddings, funerals, baptisms and bar/bat mitzvahs?

    • kirill says:

      He is just a pathetic quisling who thinks that the power of the US and NATO is infinite. He is about to learn that his NATO masters are not all that he thought they were. A lesson that should be learned by various 5th columnist maggots around the world, including those in Russia.

  13. Warren says:

    Published on 17 Mar 2014
    Professors Nicolai Petro & Tarik Cyril Amar give their reactions to Crimea voting overwhelmingly to join the Russian federation

    ___________________________________________________________________________

    Two biased anti-Russian academics, though one was much worse than the other.

  14. Al says:

    Off topic, but sometimes the answers to complex questions can turn out to be much more straightforward (woods for the trees and all that).

    Wired: A Startlingly Simple Theory About the Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet
    By Chris Goodfellow

    http://www.wired.com/autopia/2014/03/mh370-electrical-fire/

  15. Warren says:

    Published on 18 Mar 2014
    Prof. Tarik Cyril Amar and Prof. Nicolai Petro say while the legalities of the Crimea referendum are dubious, the only way out of this crisis to accept its results

  16. Moscow Exile says:

    The Sevastopol Waltz

    Moscow, Red Square, Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

    Крым в моем сердце!

    The Crimea is in my heart!

  17. Moscow Exile says:

    The Ukrainian prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, has accused Russia of a war crime, after shots were fired at a military base in Simferopol, Crimea, Reuters is reporting. He is quoted as saying:

    Today Russian soldiers began shooting at Ukrainian serviceman. This is a war crime.

    He reportedly also said the conflict had moved from the political to the military stage.

    Source: Grauniad.

  18. Moscow Exile says:

    New York Times: Ukrainian Officer Wounded in Crimea Shooting: Military Spokesman

    NBC’s Ed Flanagan, who was one of the first on the scene of the shooting in Simferopol, says that other Ukrainian troops had their weapons taken away and were arrested.

    Ukrainian military spokesman also says all men on base arrested and their weapons taken and wounded captain taken to hospital for treatment.

    Source: Guardian

    My opinion:

    Obama’s hot air threats mean nothing.

    This is the real deal: provocations to lead to a shooting war.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Guardian Summary:
      • A Ukrainian serviceman has died after being shot dead in the storming of a Ukrainian military base in Simferopol, Crimea, according to a military spokesman. He said a captain was also injured and taken to hospital and other Ukrainian servicemen were arrested.

      • The Ukrainian military spokesman described the attackers as “unknown forces, fully equipped”. Russia reportedly said that Crimean self-defence fighters were shot by a sniper.

      • Following the shooting, the Ukrainian prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, accused Russia of a “war crime”. He also said the conflict had moved from the political to the military stage.

      Well he would, wouldn’t he?

      • marknesop says:

        Call me picky, but I think it was spurious to amplify that the man had died after having been shot dead – most of us are capable of following the event to its logical conclusion. But that’ s The Grauniad for you; never leave anything to chance when you are hammering on a potential game-changing event.

        Better mobilize your military, Yats. Oh, wait – you already did that. Never mind.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Note how the Guardian referred to Reuters.

        Reuters in its turn referred to Interfax.

        The Grauniad clearly didn’t check the sources (or maybe it did?).

        Reuters referred to Interfax – so Guardian should have checked what is stated there ….

        March 18, 2014
        20:20 Self-defense fighter killed in Simferopol – Interior Ministry source

        And immediately that hired shit Yatsenyuk shouts “war crime!” – which the Grauniad gleefully reports.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          The Independent banner headline:

          Crimea crisis: Shots fired and one killed as ‘Russian troops’ storm Ukrainian military base in Simferopol

          “[Ukrainian military spokesperson Vladislav] Seleznyov said it was unclear who had staged the assault, but described the attackers, as ‘unknown forces, fully equipped and their faces covered’.

          So Seleznyov is unclear about who the attackers were, whereas the headline categorically states that Russian troops have stormed a Ukrainian military base in Simferopol.

          Meanwhile, RT reports:

          The Kryminform news agency, citing an unnamed local police source, reports shooting came from a house under construction opposite the center and targeted Crimean self-defense units as well the military center itself.

          ‘Earlier today self-defense units were informed that a group of armed men had been discovered in a partially inhabited building’, a source from the ministry said. ‘As they were taking measures to check, self-defense units came under fire. One man was killed, one wounded’, the source explained, adding that shooting came ‘in two directions from one spot’.

          “War crime!” shrieks the Kiev Yatsenyuk.

          (By the way, saw a good play on that little rat’s name the other day: Яйценюх [Yaitsyenyukh], which kind of translates as “balls-sniffer”.)

          • marknesop says:

            The Telegraph says “It appears the attack was not carried out by Russian soldiers, but by armed men sympathetic to Moscow. ”

            http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ukraine/10704798/Ukraine-crisis-live.html

            But of course nothing will satisfy but war with Russia. I saw another story earlier, can’t remember where, which stated Putin had “finally acknowledged” that 25,000 troops in Crimea wearing no insignia were his. What happened to the Army of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, 50,000 strong including reserves? Did they play no part in this at all?

            Also from that Telegraph piece, enjoy this hilarious quote from John Kerry: “John Kerry has said that any Russian incursion beyond Crimea would “as egregious as any step I can think of that could be taken by a country in today’s world”.

            “Today is egregious enough,” he said. “When you raise this nationalistic fervor which would in fact infect in ways that could be very, very dangerous. All you have to do is go back and read in history about the lead up to World War II and the passions that were released with that kind of nationalistic fervor.”

            In the initial statement, he plainly likes the word “egregious”, and his statement comically suggests, “Okay, so you can have Crimea, I guess, but just don’t dare to take a single inch beyond that, or we will just be so outraged. Well, I mean, I’m already outraged, just don’t push me any more, if you’re wise”.

            In the second paragraph…does anyone know what the fuck he is saying? Is he aware that nationalists took Kiev?

        • kirill says:

          Same rotten logic as in “Yanukovich ordered snipers to kill Maidan protesters”. No motive, but no problem cause bad people do bad things. And the western media consumer lemmings lap this crap up like it was cotton candy. Really now, after taking control of Crimea Russia would start killing Ukrainian soldiers which it did not touch before? The only way any of this makes sense is if someone was given an eviction notice and decided to ignore it. Then when they were being physically ejected decided to start shooting.

  19. Al says:

    AP: Putin comments help markets stage turnaround

    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/putin-comments-help-markets-stage-turnaround-123129207–finance.html#gyLxumS

    “…Those sanctions met with relief across financial markets as they failed to touch on Russia’s vital economic interests. Putin’s speech, at first glance, helped stocks eke out further gains as investors hope it’s the start of a de-escalation of tensions.

    “One thing Putin’s comments do suggest is that the odds of this escalating further have been slashed,” said Craig Erlam, market analyst at Alpari. “The West may make another attempt at sanctions but based on its first efforts, it’s clearly too afraid to be overly aggressive and provoke a retaliation.”..”

    And thus spake the markets!

    Somebody’s made a lot of profit out of this for sure.

  20. Moscow Exile says:

    Wake Up America! Alaska Will Be Next.

    The Pindosi are getting suspicious of something or other.

    And after Alaska…. British Columbia!!!

    And ever onwards!

    Why do you think Agent Karlin has been hanging around the Bay Area all these years?
    :-)

  21. Al says:

    So much for Fukuyama’s ‘End of History’ (already debunked). He’s gone Fukushima!

    From Ari Rusila’s blog where he hosts a piece by Jan Oberg of TFF (who’s been very good on Yugo over the years):

    Crimea: The referendum, the mote and the beam, by Jan Oberg

    http://arirusila.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/crimea-the-referendum-the-mote-and-the-beam-by-jan-oberg/

    Of course it is illegal and of course it will be rigged, that referendum in Crimea today. And of course it is a ploy and comes only in the wake of Russia’s (read Putin’s) unprovoked aggression, used as a pretext to build a new Greater Russia.

    That is, if you browse the mainstream Western media the last week and on this Sunday morning…
    —-

    Or maybe Mark could ask Jan’s permission to reproduce this piece on this blog?

  22. Warren says:

    Why don’t Russia take a leaf out of the US playbook and target anti-Russian oligarch? Russia should impose travel/visa ban and freeze assets of Ukrainian oligarchs that are hostile towards Russia? Petro Poroshenko should be the first to incur such sanctions!

  23. Hunter says:

    Overall the picture I’m getting is that Ukraine is likely to sink further in trouble. Odessblogger is noting that Tymoshenko seems to be placing loyalists in positions of power in the oblasts (10 for now but likely to be 12 after Yats goes). This almost seems like her own insurance policy should she not win the upcoming Presidential elections (which in any case are less meaningful under the 2004 Constitution). It’s not hard to imagine a repeat of the Orange Years of 2004-2010 on steroids if what happens is that Poroshenko wins a weakened Presidency (as an independent oligarch) while Tymoshenko’s Fatherland party has at least 12 governors in the remaining 25 oblasts/cities/autonomous regions and the Fatherland party has some kind of plurality in the Rada with a sometimes rival/sometimes ally in Klitschko’s UDAR and Svoboda (with Right Sector and more generally the far-right in Svoboda unlikely to have much of an impact/official presence in the Rada as s they seemingly have much less of a presence outside the regional capitals and Kiev as Paul Vickers notes in his uauk Lecturer in Western Ukraine blog and with increasing political apathy as Graham W Phillips noted). Plus add in the Svoboda and Right Sector paramilitary element in the National Guard coupled with the IMF recommendations likely to be approved by the interim government/junta and rising gas and electricity prices (as covered by Graham W Phillips) and all I can possibly see coming out of this is further instability and possibly chaos.

    Civil war may be avoided for now, but within a year or two I would not be surprised if there was more (and more widespread and larger) violence and at least another Revolution attempted.

    What could even happen and might be surprising for Western observers is that some of the oblasts which have traditionally voted majority Orange in recent elections might end up switching to the communists and or Party of Regions or some other party which draws its traditional support from the south and east and is generally more pro-Russian than the Orange parties. The oblasts I’m thinking of would be Poltava, Transcarpathia and Sumy and possibly even Zhytomyr, Kirovohrad, and Chernihiv (just look at how the various districts in them and the oblasts overall voted in the 2004 and 2010 presidential elections and the 2002, 2006, 2007 and 2012 parliamentary elections – in many the Orange vote is not nearly as overwhelming as in the Galician oblasts and places like Rivne and Cherkasy). This might end up happening if the traditional Orange supporters in these oblasts become disillusioned with the Orange parties as a result of the painful reform measures under an IMF deal and expectations (unrealistically high) that were not met as a result of the EU Association Agreement. In so doing they may end up staying at home (though a few may switch voting preferences), while the Blue/Red (Purple?) traditional voters in these oblasts might be more angry at the conditions resulting from the EU and IMF deals and continue voting for their favourite parties. So the Orange supported candidate in a second round of presidential elections might end up winning with a 53-55% voter share in 2014/2015 (as Crimea and Sevastopol will no longer return votes in support of the anti-Orange supported candidate) but over time if conditions don’t get better and if governance doesn’t improve and more voters become apathetic such as 3-6 oblasts get flipped we could see the next elections with the Orange supported candidates or candidate collecting only roughly) 43.6% of the vote (if Poltava, Transcarpathia and Sumy switch) or just 35.7% of the vote (roughly) if in addition to those 3 oblasts we also see Zhytomyr, Kirovohrad and Chernihiv switch.

    • marknesop says:

      I’m inclined to agree. The EU and IMF are going to be less enthusiastic about rescuing a Ukraine which is unlikely to be the host of a NATO base, and which will moreover have a big honking Russian naval base right beside it, a Ukraine which looks increasingly like it will be federalized with a considerable degree of autonomy to its component parts. I’m sure I don’t have to point out that such a division would also lead straight into the state-in-being scenario with its own local government and institutions that satisfied Radislaw Sikorski as the practical definition of an independent state when he was drafting Poland’s opinion on Kosovo. That would lay the groundwork for the eventual declaration of independence by the Southeast if it remains dissatisfied with Ukraine’s federal leadership. All of this assumes that somebody is going to give or lend Ukraine some money so that it does not simply collapse, but I note that the rush to be first has fallen off a little in that department as it becomes clear that it will be a gift rather than an investment. Note also that South Stream will soon be complete, with no particular requirement to use Ukraine’s pipeline network at all, while the significant gas and oil resources that might have helped to rebuild Ukraine’s shattered finances will now belong to Russia.

      I’m trying to visualize how the self-appointed government of Kiev could have performed more poorly, but frankly, I can’t. There doesn’t seem to me to be a “Stupid” button that they failed to push.

      • Hunter says:

        Well Ukraine seems to be hurtling towards state failure. The problem for Ukraine is that even mono-ethnic states can find themselves being shattered into competing statelets and facing secession when they fail (the best example is Somalia where practically all of the population is ethnic Somali AND Muslim but Somalia itself has found that Somaliland outright seceded and other statelets have formed such as Puntland which are committed to a united Somalia but which are loth to give up their own autonomy.

        And unlike Somalia, Ukraine is not mono-ethnic, mono-linguistic or mono-religious. Within Ukraine you have Ukrainians, Russians, Bulgarians, Romanians/Moldovans, Hungarians, Rusyns and other ethnic minorities. Linguistically you have Ukrainian, Surzhyk, Russian, Romanian/Moldovan, Hungarian, Bulgarian and Ruthenian. Religiously you have mainly the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which is divided between those who follow the Moscow Patriarchate and those who follow the Kiev Patriarchate and after that you have the Ukrainian Greek Catholic (Uniate) Church found mainly in the three Galician oblasts and particularly in Lviv.

        In this regard it becomes a lot easier to define Ukraine based on ethno-liguistic-religious regions. There is:

        1. Galicia (Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Ternopil) – predominantly ethnic Ukrainian; Ukrainian speaking with comparatively little Russian or Surzhyk spoken and with Ukrainian Greek Catholics and Ukrainian Orthodox followers.

        2. Transcarpathia (Transcarpathian Ruthenia) – predominantly ethnic Rusyns and Ukrainians with Hungarians as well; Ukrainian and Ruthenian speaking with some Hungarian spoken. Religion is mainly Ukrainian Orthodox with some Uniate followers

        3. Northwestern Ukraine (Volyn and Rivne) or Volhynia – predominantly ethnic Ukrainian; Ukrainian speaking with comparatively little Russian or Surzhyk spoken. Mainly Ukrainian Orthodox with some Uniate followers

        4. Chernivitsi (North Bukovina-Bessarabia-Moldavia) – predominantly ethnic Ukrainian with ethnic Romanians/Moldovans as well; Ukrainian and Romanian/Moldovan speaking. Mainly Ukrainian Orthodox

        5. Central Ukraine/Western Little Russia (Zhytomyr, Kiev oblast, Kiev city, Vinnytsia, Cherkasy, Kirovohrad, and Khmelnytsky oblasts)/Right-bank Ukraine – predominantly ethnic Ukrainian with few ethnic minorities; Ukrainian mainly spoken but Russian and Surzhyk spoken fairly frequently in everyday life even if not the predominant languages/dialects. Ukrainian Orthodox followers.

        6. Northwestern Ukraine/Eastern Little Russia (Chernihiv, Sumy and Poltava)/Left-bank Ukraine – predominantly ethnic Ukrainian with some ethnic Russians; No majority language with Russian the plurality language and Ukrainian and Surzhyk being significant and also widely spoken. Ukrainian Orthodox followers.

        7. Southern Ukraine/Western New Russia and Bessarabia and Budzhak (Odessa, Kherson, Zaporizhia and Mykolaiv) – predominantly ethnic Ukrainian with a significant ethnic Russian minority as well as some Romanians/Moldovans, Gagauz and Bulgarians in Budzhak. Russian is predominantly spoken with relatively little Ukrainian and Surzhyk. Also spoken are Romanian/Moldovan, Gagauz and Bulgarian. Ukrainian Orthodox followers.

        8. Eastern Ukraine/Eastern New Russia and Donbas (Kharkiv, Lugansk, Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk) – ethnic Ukrainian majority with very significant ethnic Russian minority and few other ethnic minorities. Russian is predominantly spoken (especially in urban areas) with relatively little Ukrainian and Surzhyk. Ukrainian Orthodox followers.

        9. Crimea (Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol) – formerly of Ukraine, now of Russia. ethnic Russian majority with significant Ukrainian minority and Tatar minority. Russian very predominantly spoken with little Ukrainian and some Tatar spoken. Mainly Ukrainian or Russian Orthodox followers with some Muslims.

        Crimea has left Ukraine, leaving 8 regions which down the road might form the core areas of statelets (which may or may not correspond in number to these regions) if Ukraine collapses completely much as Somalia did. That is something which should terrify Western and Russian policy makers and which should give them pause in their actions on how they deal with Ukraine’s government and opposition and Ukrainian society.

    • yalensis says:

      ‘Tis a good analysis, but assumes there will be elections.
      I am dubious that the current junta has any plans to permit elections!
      Ukraine might well become a dictatorship for many years to come.

  24. marknesop says:

    And that’s it, that’s all, folks; Putin signs the treaty accepting Crimea into the Russian Federation.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/vladimir-putin/10705678/Vladimir-Putin-signs-treaty-to-incorporate-Crimea-into-Russia.html

    Impossible not to feel a little tingle at the majesty of the ceremony, brief though it is, and the enthusiasm of the crowd.

  25. marknesop says:

    The UK offers Typhoon fighters to NATO to “patrol the Russian border with the Baltics”. Golly, everyone seems to be getting nervous all of a sudden, singing dem ol’ please-don’t-annex-me-Massa-Putin blues. Comically, Captain Blusterpants – AKA William “I can sink more pints than you” Hague blusters that Putin will face “long term costs and consequences if he tries to annex Crimea”. Done, Willie – game, set and match. Whatcha got?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ukraine/10704567/Crimea-crisis-Britain-offers-jets-to-patrol-Russia-border-as-tensions-grow.html

  26. Warren says:

    photo/1

    Is that igor Miroshnichenko with the ponytail and grey suit?

  27. Warren says:

    Here is the video of the incident!

    • marknesop says:

      But, but….never mind that!!! A pro-Russian man pushed an old lady down in Crimea!! Over here!! Look over here!!!

      http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/youtube-video-shows-pro-russian-self-defense-men-push-elderly-woman-to-ground-in-crimea-339893.html

    • yalensis says:

      Scootaloo’s comment over pic of ponytail guy says: “Ladies! He is single!”
      Many ladies will be so happy to know that this guy with the awesome ponytail is still available.

      Meanwhile, to my surprise, I see that Western MSM is following this story too (of Ponytail roughing up TV exec. So, it’s not just us armchair analysts who read blogs.

      MSM ignored months of you-tube videos of neo-nazis setting police on fire. Those were just the “growing pains” of a “fledgling democracy”.
      And yet something in above tickled their fragile conscience? And they started calliing this video “disturbing?” After we watched many much more disturbing videos and horrific violence over the last couple of months??
      Maybe because the victim is in the CEO of a TV station, and they themselves (the MSM) can relate to him, in a way they couldn’t relate to cops?

      No, that can’t be it, the rougher-up is a loyal Ukrainian patriot, and the roughee is a pro-Moscow hack, so by that token they should figure he got what he deserved…

      Anyhow, for whatever reason, word got out from the powers-that-be to the Western lame-stream media that above story is something important and should be covered as “disturbing”. Maybe media is trying to find a way to detach themselves from Ukrainian junta now that they can’t hide any more that these guys are “nationalists”, in their words.

    • Warren says:

      As I expected they removed the video! Embarrassed at all the attention it has now received!

    • Warren says:

      Same video uploaded by Assir Don.

  28. Warren says:

    Published on 18 Mar 2014
    The people of Crimea have retuned to Russia. Their right of self-determination has been honored. What’s next?
    CrossTalking with Manuel Ochsenreiter, Marcus Papadopoulos and Mark Sleboda.

  29. Al says:

    I was just watching euronudes. Judy Dempsey (EU office of the Carnegie Endowment) was being interviewed. She made a very bold claim that this will fundamentally change the relationship between Germany and Russia. She argued that cancelling gas contracts would be tricky but would deny Putin cash to support the subsidization of domestic gas prices which would then hurt the Russian middle class who would then turn on Putin. Well, I guess working for Carnegie is better than having a real job that actually produces something of worth beyond hot air. To give her credit, she really was convinced of her own argument. I suppose if you are paying somebody to peddle one-sided trash you would expect them to be convincing especially when they are on tv.

    • Kulobi says:

      Carnegie experts are a curious bunch, aren’t they? Martha Brill Olcott (an old Central Asia hand at the Moscow Office) provided insights into Putin’s vision (it features “some form of a greater Russia either territorially or extraterritorially constituted” – a gem of analytical precision!) and claimed that Kazakhstan would be the next item on Moscow’s imperialist agenda. Naturally, she cites ZHIRINOVSKY by way of evidence. Her only hope are the “increasingly patriotic” Kazakhs, who “like the people in much of Ukraine would not want to submit quietly”. http://carnegieendowment.org/2014/03/05/after-crimea-will-kazakhstan-be-next-in-putin-s-reintegration-project/h2ia . Inshallah.

      • marknesop says:

        It has to make you wonder about the selection process – how are these think-tankers chosen? In the case of the Carnegie crowd, it must be virulent hatred of Putin, no other qualifications required. I could easily see Yulia Latynina making it into the Carnegie Moscow Center, because she makes the same cockamamie predictions regarding Russia’s glowering martial intentions, although she does it from the cheap and dirty field of tabloid journalism rather than the supposedly rarefied ambiance of analysis. But like western economists – almost all economists, really, – the “Russia experts” paw through the chicken entrails and make dire predictions of what brutish rampage Russia will embark upon next, but despite being wrong over and over and over, there’s always an eager audience for their next bushel of bullshit, and their expert credentials are always good.

        • Al says:

          Here’s the video (see from 1:00)

          The ties that bind: the economics of the EU-Russia relationship

          http://euronews.com/2014/03/18/the-ties-that-bind-the-economics-of-the-eu-russia-relationship/

          • marknesop says:

            Dear God. She and Euro leaders can blather on all they like about “concentrating minds, once and for all, on the political role of energy”, but if you haven’t got it and you need it all the concentrating in the world will bring you no closer to a solution which works to your advantage; it’s like concentrating your mind on the political role of gold. All very well if you’ve got lots of it – depressing evidence of your impotence if you haven’t. I just hope they are not going to start up all that clatter again about fracking and shale oil and gas abundance, because it’s tiresome and the group it is fooling gets smaller all the time. Yes, the EU could find its energy elsewhere, probably not all, but energy discipline at the same time might bring them close to the target. As cheaply as they currently get it by pipeline? Nope. Show me how choosing to pay more just so you can put your nose in the air is being politically mature and responsible.

            • Al says:

              Amnesty and HRW are piling in too. It’s funny to see how the dogma continues unchanged despite what is happening in the real world. The shrill tone verges on despair, like the old days of ‘Do Something’ in the 1990s and early 2000’s when the West had no effective opposition to their crazyness. These people simply have no other idea or option to offer. They are stuck in the past. It’s one thing I can say for Greenpeace – quite a few significant members now admit, after years of denial, that nuclear power is an essential part of the energy mix. It’s a small step, but it put them ahead of AI, HRW and other ‘ank tankers.

            • Al says:

              Reuters is putting in extra time on the tough Germans quoting unnamed official sources. They even get a quote in from, guess who? The Carnegie Endowment europe, Ulricht Speck: “Confronting Russia would be a bold step and until now she has done everything to avoid it,” he said. “But she could take that step….”Confronting Russia would be a bold step and until now she has done everything to avoid it,” he said. “But she could take that step.”

              Germany’s Russian rethink: How Merkel lost faith in Putin

              uk.reuters.com/article/2014/03/20/uk-germany-russia-crisis-insight-idUKBREA2J15220140320

              Looks like a full scale propaganda campaign is now being fought out through reliable channels to try and frighten off Putin! They over did it with the I like the SPD touch! Gasping through straws.

  30. marknesop says:

    Oh, here you go, Russians – dare to dream you will one day be as free as Russians are in Ukraine. Look over from your grim, grey lands where your television is state-controlled, your every thought is monitored and you dare not express yourselves for fear of a well-placed barabulka from a state slab-faced goon. So Timothy Snyder sees the ecstatic state of freedom in Kiev for Russians, where people sometimes just shout out “Glory to Russia!!” in Russian spontaneously because they just feel so good about their freedom and how they are encouraged to enjoy speaking their language in a free country that encourages it.

    http://www.standard.co.uk/comment/timothy-snyder-freedom-in-russian-exists-only-in-ukraine-9196833.html

    I’m not sure he’s using the best example, since he seems to be suggesting your freedom to speak Russian in Russia is restricted. If so, time to get out the canvas I-love-me jacket. But no, of course his purpose is clear – to squash the silly rumour that the speaking of Russian is unpopular in regions of Ukraine that do not enjoy a significantly hefty Russian minority. Nothing could be further from the truth, says Timothy – Russians are loved in Kiev. If you doubt it, just shout “Glory to a free Crimea!” in Russian on the Maidan. Oh, also according to Timothy Snyder, aspiring Porky-Pie-er, the Crimean Tatars are fleeing the peninsula in droves, headed back to the sheltering arms of mother Ukraine. Has anyone seen any mention at all of this exodus? Other than here, I mean.

    Seriously, this is so far from the truth that it is getting awfully close to propaganda.

  31. Jen says:

    I know this is off-topic but I think we Kremlin Stooges will be interested to hear this news as it does have some bearing on recent terrorist incidents in Volgograd and on the situation generally in the Russian Caucasus and southern Russia: Doku Umarov has been reported dead by his own organisation.

    http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/03/19/chechen-warlord-reported-dead

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26634403

    Though it’s possible Umarov keeps a cattery somewhere so he can continue sucking more lives out of the animals, Syrian-rebel style.

    • marknesop says:

      I’ll pick up the beer on my way home, if you’d like to get the party hats and noisemakers.

    • Al says:

      Umarov…cattery…lives….”

      Sublime! :)

    • patient observer says:

      If true, another bad day for the West. That, and the lack of a terror attack anywhere in Russia during the Olympics shows just how depleted the terror network is. Looks like Pussy Riot will need to do the heavy lifting.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Something that made me wonder the other day, when I saw Pizda Riot duo Tolokonnikova and Alekhina marching with liberast 5th columnists on an anti-government/Putin demonstration in which many were carrying slogans castigating Putin, including Tolokonnikova, who said “Putin , go away!” from the podium, is this: Tolokonnikova and Alekhina are always saying that there’s no free speech in Russia and the Western presstitutes always write that they were imprisoned for criticizing Putin.

        So what were they and an alleged 50,000 doing last Saturday in Moscow, pop. 13 million plus?

  32. kirill says:

    http://economics.unian.net/finance/897673-yatsenyuk-obyyasnil-pochemu-otlojili-podpisanie-ekonomicheskoy-chasti-soglasheniya-s-es.html

    Yats has postponed signing of the association agreement indefinitely! It may have negative impacts on Ukrainian manufacturing. Who knew!?

    • marknesop says:

      Ha, ha!!! You just have to laugh, because if you didn’t, you’d scream. Postponed indefinitely, just like the elections. Ukraine, drifting, rudderless. Nice going, Noodles.

    • Hunter says:

      Reading it he says they have postponed signing the economic component of the Association Agreement but will sign the political component.

      Funny that the EU seems to have no problem with that and didn’t offer Yanukovych that option in November…..

      Does it say that the economic part of the association agreement (the “Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement” or DCFTA) was postponed indefinitely or just “postponed”?

      • kirill says:

        It’s conditional postponement. Since no timeline is given it is tantamount to indefinite. Of course it could be signed tomorrow after Obama gives Yats a call to whip him into line.

      • marknesop says:

        I got that they would put off signing the political component until they could sign the trade component at the same time, but that he could not give a date for that because concerns prevailed over the negative effects it could have on the industrial areas in the East. Therefore the whole thing is on hold, but the EU was going to unilaterally open up its markets to Ukrainian goods. I’ll just bet.

        Oh, look!! It’s Heidi Newfield to sing her big hit, “Can’t Let Go” for us, while Yats accompanies her on the balalaika and sings backup! Take it away, Yats!!

        They won’t take me back when I come around,
        say they’re sorry, then they put me out;
        Got a big chain, around my neck
        and I’m broken down like a train wreck:
        It’s over, I know it but I can’t let go.

        • Hunter says:

          According to this source: http://news.yahoo.com/ukraine-sign-political-aspects-eu-pact-friday-165605035.html

          It seems Ukraine will sign the political component of the Association Agreement on March 21 (Friday) but that the economic component (DCFTA) will be postponed until after the May 25 presidential elections.

          So for now it seems that both components will be signed. We will just have to wait to see:

          – if the elections scheduled for May 25 do happen

          – if the government that is formed after May 25 (if elections do happen) will actually sign

  33. Warren says:

    ‘Russia could turn USA into radioactive ashes’
    Russia TV host Dmitry Kiselyov makes inflammatory comment about the USA

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ukraine/10702459/Russia-could-turn-USA-into-radioactive-ashes.html

    Kiselyov is merely stating facts.

    • kirill says:

      All the coverage of this statement is a parade of cheeseball propaganda. In its full context it was a simple statement of fact, that Obama has to deal with the reality of Russia’s nuclear power and cannot act as freely to punish Russia as would in the case of Syria or some other weak country. Kiselyov did not get up on a podium and scream that Russia would nuke the USA or that it could so the USA “better watch out”.

  34. Warren says:
  35. Warren says:
  36. Jen says:

    Looks like Russia is going to hit the jackpot soon:

    http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ukraine-crisis/3-billion-ukraine-aid-would-go-russia-n52056

    “As Western leaders prepare a bailout package for embattled Ukraine, they face a startling irony: Thanks to the almost bizarre structure of a bond deal between Ukraine and Russia, billions of those dollars are almost certain to go directly into the coffers of the Putin government.

    As CNBC has reported, some aid money is bound to go into Russia as a result of energy trade and other economic factors. But the situation is actually much more acute than just that: An existing agreement between the two countries makes an immediate, direct transfer from Ukraine to Russia legally enforceable.

    In December, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to lend Ukraine $15 billion. Few details were released at the time, except that Ukraine would issue bonds and Russia would buy them in installments through 2014.

    The first and only installment occurred in late December, while then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was still in charge in Kiev. The second installment was slated to happen in late February, but it never occurred, because the pro-Russian president had fled Ukraine and a new government was in place.

    That first installment was $3 billion — in U.S. dollars, as dictated by the terms of the deal — issued on Dec. 24. It carries a lenient interest rate considering the shattered state of Ukraine’s economy: a coupon of only 5 percent, payable semiannually on June 20 and Dec. 20. It is short-term debt, maturing on Dec. 20, 2015.

    Startlingly, the notes are governed by U.K. law and subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of British courts. And most crucially, there is an odd clause in the bonds that has a direct impact on European and American taxpayers, as CNBC learned through a review of the bond agreement:

    Paragraph 3 (b) under Covenants:

    (b) Debt Ratio So long as the Notes remain outstanding the Issuer shall ensure that the volume of the total state debt and state guaranteed debt should not at any time exceed an amount equal to 60 percent of the annual nominal gross domestic product of Ukraine.

    The implications of that clause are that the minute the West or the International Monetary Fund extends a large loan to Ukraine, that country will almost certainly have a debt-to-GDP that exceeds 60 percent, immediately putting the Russian loan into default. That gives Russia the right to demand immediate repayment. And because the bonds are governed by British courts — which, presumably, neither Ukraine nor Russia can manipulate — it would be extremely difficult for Ukraine to avoid making the payment, using its new bailout money.

    The country and legal system where a bond is governed is of increasing interest to fixed-income investors and lenders around the world, a lesson learned during the Greek debt crisis. When a bond is issued under a country’s local laws, the country’s leadership can change the laws anytime. New laws can even be imposed retroactively. That’s precisely what happened to the holders of Greek-law bonds during the debt crisis there. In the end, holders of Greek debt took a massive financial hit.

    However, holders of the few Greek bonds that were governed under British law were and still are being paid back in full. They’ve made very healthy profits …”

    So the moment the IMF lends a bailout to Ukraine, Russia is entitled to that money almost straightaway.
    :-)

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, provided that’s the way the IMF does it. But, as I commented earlier, the IMF may be looking at a debt-restructuring “bail-in” similar to what was done in Cyprus, where depositors took a “haircut” to bail out the banks. The overriding reason to do it this way despite the objections of Britain and Germany appears to be the IMF looking for a way to bring financial assistance (and austerity, of course) to Ukraine while avoiding paying Russia back.

      • Hunter says:

        Which would be throwing Ukraine even further out at sea without a lifesaver.

        Consider that the one of the “paragons” of the Western print media came out with pronouncement that one year on the “bail-in” for Cyprus isn’t working but the “bail-out” is:

        http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:sJADdWz5piUJ:www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21598649-bail-out-working-bail-isnt-injured-island+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=jm (original address: http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21598649-bail-out-working-bail-isnt-injured-island)

        When The Economist is admitting that the bail-in has been rough on Cyprus then this must be the equivalent of the Gospel being spoken by a Disciple……

        Once again it seems Ukrainians are in for a rough future.

        And according to Peter Turchin, they can look forward to more revolutions in the future:

        http://socialevolutionforum.com/2014/03/11/wealth-and-democracy-in-ukraine/

        http://socialevolutionforum.com/2014/03/18/wealth-and-democracy-in-ukraine-ii/

      • yalensis says:

        I still don’t get the difference between a “bail-out” and a “bail-in”, other than the latter permits the IMF to lend $$$ to Ukraine without having to pay off debt to Russia.

        Can somebody please explain again, in simplest possible language?

        • marknesop says:

          I’m probably not the best choice, because I have only the roughest understanding of it myself, but it is essentially a confiscation of a percentage of uninsured deposits over a certain amount, for the purpose of recapitalizing the bank or the state or whatever. If you have over, say, $100,000.00 in Wells Fargo Bank, which fails, you and all depositors who have uninsured holdings in that bank of over $100,000.00 will have – again, say – 10% of all monies over and above that figure appropriated by the bank as its own funds for recapitalization to recover its losses incurred from bad investments.

          Here’s how The Economist explains it.

          • yalensis says:

            Thanks, that is helpful.
            So, it seems, Russia is a creditor of Ukraine, because of all the $$$ Russia loaned to Ukraine.

            So, with a bail-in, Russia, as a creditor (a bond-holder), can only expect to recoup a certain fraction of what they are owed. (Because the bond was uninsured?)

            Which raises the logical question, was the bond insured? or not?

            If not, maybe Russia, in retrospect, should have taken out an insurance policy with Lloyd’s of London.
            They could have taken out an insurance policy whereby if Ukraine can’t pay off the debt, then Lloyd’s would assume the liability.

            • Hunter says:

              No

              A bail out is where other countries provide external loans to help a country struggling with its finances. A bail in is where the struggling country basically appropriates money from its own citizens’ bank deposits.

              Russia as a creditor will be unaffected by a bail in. The US$3 billion in bonds Russia bought will still have to be paid back by Ukraine in the future. The issue at stake was that if Ukraine’s debt to GDP ratio went above 60% (right now it is at 47% apparently) then according to the terms of the bond agreement, the $3 billion Russia loaned Ukraine could be called in immediately instead of at the agreed time of future repayment.

            • marknesop says:

              Not so much the fact that Russia is a creditor as the fact that the method of raising the funds – seizing a percentage of uninsured deposits over a certain amount – is not a loan and consequently the rule that any substantial loan triggers repayment to Russia does not apply. The IMF is looking for an alternative which will allow it to dodge repaying Russia’s $3 Billion. Not forever, necessarily – they just don’t like the cleverness of insuring the loan under British law, and want to show Putin that he is not as clever as he thinks he is. Perhaps he is – we will see.

              • yalensis says:

                Okay, I think I get it now.
                Either way, Russia will never see that $$$ again!

                • marknesop says:

                  Well, that’s not necessarily so; it may well (I would lean toward probably) prove impossible to recapitalize Ukraine simply by giving depositors big haircuts; I would venture to guess there is not the amount of money Ukraine needs in all the banks in Ukraine total right now, never mind just in uninsured deposits lying around waiting to be snapped up – remember, Cyprus was a tax haven, while Ukraine is all the way across town from a tax haven. I say the IMF is just indulging in a little bit of daydreaming, and the idea of refinancing Ukraine without a massive loan – and thereby breaking the tripwire that will obligate them to pay Russia back its money – is just a fantasy. They’d like to do it, no question, but the numbers suggest it just is not possible. There are bright financial people in Russia who are watching carefully, and if it’s not getting by us it certainly isn’t getting by them.

            • Jen says:

              The bail-in is most likely to affect Ukrainian oligarchs who have funds invested in EU banks.

              • marknesop says:

                I could be wrong, but I think in the case of a bail-in it is recapitalization of the affected country’s banks using deposits in those banks; therefore only deposits in Ukrainian banks would be affected. If they started going after accounts held in EU banks by Ukrainian oligarchs, that would be something else altogether, because those are private funds and the owners indicated no commitment to Ukrainian banks by depositing those funds there. At what point can the USA and the EU just come to your house and take your money out of your mattress, and say they are confiscating it to recapitalize a bank in the country you used to be from? If it begins to look like there is that level of uncertainty, wealthy people will not put any assets in western banks and will not purchase expensive property in western countries.

                • Jen says:

                  Yes just after posting my original comment, I realised I might be wrong, that in a bail-in it’s only usually large deposits in the affected country’s banks that are targeted. I was thinking of how last year there was that bail-in in Cyprus with Russian deposits being targeted. But the fall-out from that fell on small individual depositors mainly in Cyprus but in other parts of the world who had large deposits in certain Cyprus banks.

                  It might be possible that in the case of Ukrainian banks having branches outside Ukraine, say in other nearby EU countries like Romania or Bulgaria, large deposits made by Ukrainian oligarchs or other private individuals could also be subject to a bail-in.

                  The other possibility is that the Kyiv cabal could target large deposits made by depositors linked to Yanukovych or the Party of Regions (because they made donations to the party – as if such custom of donating to all political parties just to be on their good side is unique only to Ukraine) made in Ukrainian-based banks or their branches in other countries.

                  Also the news just out is that Ukraine has pledged to honour the debts on those $3 billion Eurobonds. It seems that Crimea’s reunification has started tipping Ukraine towards the 60% debt-2-GDP danger zone.

                  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-19/ukraine-to-honor-russian-eurobond-payments-amid-crimea-dispute.html

                • marknesop says:

                  Yes, I hadn’t thought of that possibility; it’s true that if Ukraine’s banks maintain international branches in the EU, those branches might be targeted. I recall that was a slip-up that wound up in the EU’s “Lessons Learned” database after the Cyprus fiasco, because when they put the big freeze on accounts in Laiki Bank and Bank of Cyprus, some depositors just withdrew everything from another branch. They slapped a freeze on those in a day or two, but were too late to catch the quick-thinking.

                • yalensis says:

                  Dear Jen;
                  Thanks for posting Bloomberg piece, it is illuminating, and a good economics lesson for me.
                  Below that is another blurb about the ratio of debt to GDP.
                  If I am understanding this correctly: Suppose I look about all me and inventory everything that I have and own, and it comes to a whopping $100.
                  Unfortunately, I owe my downstairs neighboour $50.
                  Hence, my debt to GDP ratio is 50%. Right?

                  Now, based on that, Russia loaned Ukraine $3 billion. They can either wait patiently and get paid back in dribs and drabs on a payment plan.
                  OR, they can call in the IOU and make them pay back in full the moment Ukraine’s debt/GDP ration reaches 60%. (which seems kind of counterintuive to me: the worst a person’s financial situation becomes, the more you expect them to scrape up some money and pay you back?)

                  So, anyhow, Ukraine’s ration used to be 40%. But after the events of last week, with Russia taking away a chunk of Ukraine’s GDP (=Crimea), then, as her GDP goes down by 3.7, the debt/GDP ratio was go up a bit, and if it goes up any further, then Russia can call in the loan.

                  Kind of ironic, no?

                • Jen says:

                  @ yalensis: A better personal comparison to a country’s debt-2-GDP ratio is when you take out a large loan or a mortgage and your ability to pay it off is assessed by your bank against the value of your property (equivalent to a country’s territory, natural and human resources), any other assets you have that can be converted into cash quickly (like shares, gold bars or stamp collections), your ability to earn income and whether your income is protected if somehow you’re unable to work. You could have a lot of debt relative to the value of your assets but you’d be allowed to accumulate even more debt if your bank was confident that you can pay it off over time.

                  Some countries have much greater debt / GDP ratios than Ukraine does:

                • Fern says:

                  I’m interested in this point too. I have no sympathy whatsoever for oligarchs of any nationality – most are thieves – but this proposed seizure of the assets of private individuals convicted of no crime for which asset forfeiture is the penalty, ought to worry more people than it seems to. We’re back in the age of robber barons when the state can simply grab assets in this way. I really hope that some of these spectacularly wealthy individuals mount a legal challenge to what’s being proposed.

                • marknesop says:

                  The best challenge they could mount would be to hold no assets in the USA or EU countries, or own property in those countries where there is a proven risk of confiscation. Confiscation for evident wrongdoing is always a risk, and should be; but freezing a person’s assets just to put pressure on the leader of his country in a political pissing contest should result in a fiscal exodus from the country where it occurs. There are plenty of tax havens and moneymaking opportunities in the world, and some of the richest individuals point to opportunities in China – I should think it would be pretty safe from confiscation there. The USA is a great place to make money and also a great place to own property, but you might be better off making investments in someplace not as nice that is less risky of losing everything. Either that or – as discussed – arrive upon a similar scheme for seizing or wrecking the assets of wealthy Americans abroad. They need not be in Russia – it could be done through surrogates.

  37. marknesop says:

    The Ukrainian military raises $1 Million by begging for donations from the citizenry via text message. That’s about a fourth the cost of a new Oplot T-84 Main Battle Tank. Well, the Thais paid $200 Million for 49 of them, but maybe Ukraine gets a local discount for saving on shipping. Nonetheless, that’s pretty sad. And I don’t say that to make fun of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, because like every other military, they just make the best of the money they are given, and for a long time they have been given almost nothing. I say it to make fun of the Kiev government, which was so out of touch with the country that it seized control of via coup d’etat that it made all sorts of bellicose statements about Ukraine being ready to defend itself, and mobilizing the army and all that. In reality, the Ukrainian military would probably have to take out a loan to be able to surrender.

  38. Fern says:

    hoct, thanks for a very interesting analysis. Your point about the impact of western ‘moral’ (for want of a better word) support for the Maidan protestors has a particular resonance in the light of the acting Ukrainian President’s announcement that demonstrations and mass rallies are now ‘crimes against the state’. An announcement that’s been met with total silence from western capitals. And yet if we look back over the events of the last couple of months, everybody who is anybody in Europe and the US was instructing Yanulovich that obstructing or in any way interfering with the right to peaceful protest was a heinous human rights’ violation punishable by sanctions. Words like ‘hypocrisy’ and ‘double standards’ don’t really cover it.

    I think Yanukovich’s fatal weakness, which is the same for probably all Ukrainian leaders and potential leaders, is oligarch dependency. I suspect the US/EU said very clearly to oligarchs known or suspected to be in Yanukovich’s camp, “look, if you don’t support our attempts to remove this individual and his government from power and get behind our choice of his successor, we will legally steal your probably ill-gotten gains which you have been so foolish as to deposit in our banks”.

    On the EU Association Agreement and the signing of the political component while deferring signing the economic one, I think there’s a complication best described as the EU having been hoisted by the Russian petard. At the EU/Russia summit held at the end of January, Putin got the EU to acquiesce to bilateral expert negotiations on these types of agreements:-

    “Despite of this heavy political brinkmanship, both Putin and his hosts alluded only to the economic dimension of EU’s integration policies. Van Rompuy spoke of the need to overcome “different interpretations and misunderstandings” on the AAs.  
    “We both agreed to pursue bilateral consultations at expert level on the Eastern Partnership Association Agreements and on economic consequences on both sides,” Van Rompuy said.”

    http://www.euractiv.com/global-europe/spirit-detente-prevails-eu-russi-news-533090

    Since Russia does not recognise the current governing authorities in Kiev, it’s hard to see how any such ‘consultations’ can be held.

    I’m also sceptical about the likelihood of elections being held in Ukraine anytime soon. What’s the point of a putsch if the results can be overturned the next time the nation goes to the polls? Why a coup when the brokered agreement of 21st February provided for early elections? Why bother with a coup in February, if its results can be reversed by elections in May? There’s no sense to it. Surely, it’s only worthwhile if it produces changes which cannot be reversed through normal democratic processes?

    • Hunter says:

      in the light of the acting Ukrainian President’s announcement that demonstrations and mass rallies are now ‘crimes against the state’

      Do you have a link for this announcement Fern? I hadn’t heard of this before…..

  39. Al says:

    Just spotted a post by Eric Kraus on his Truth & Beauty blog

    Ukraine: Truth – the First Casualty:

    http://www.truthandbeauty.ru/eternal-russia/ukraine-truth-%E2%80%93-the-first-casualty/

    • yalensis says:

      I like the characterization of the Orange putsch as a massive “own-goal” by incompetent Western powers.

    • marknesop says:

      That’s a good piece, isn’t it? In fact, combined with hoct’s post here on the toppling of Yanukovich, it forms a pretty good actual history of events which would make a handy reference against the inevitable spin as a great western victory. Exemplary is the western contention that Russia is “isolated against the world”. It has the implicit backing of what will soon be the world’s most powerful economy, and the tacit approval of large swaths of western populations – just not that of their official voices in government, all of which willingly subordinate themselves to Washington and Brussels.

  40. Moscow Exile says:

    From RT:

    Published on 19 Mar 2014

    Pony-tailed Xenophobic Ukrainian Svoboda MP Igor Miroshninchenko with the help of party ideologist Andrey Ilyenko yelled, abused and beat interim head of Ukraine’s National TV Alexandr Pantelimonov, accusing the channel of being ‘anti-Ukrainian’ and bullying the executive – whose ‘I’m Ukrainian!’ claims were met with ‘You are sh*t!’ – into writing a resignation letter. The MP claims to represent the new Freedom and Information committee of Ukraine.

    READ MORE: http://on.rt.com/b3y4ax

    • Southerncross says:

      What kind of Nazi wears a ponytail?

      • Moscow Exile says:

        “What kind of Nazi wears a ponytail?”

        Horse Wesel?
        :-)

        • yalensis says:

          Ouch!!!!! You just killed me…

          • yalensis says:

            P.S. this Horse Wessel guy is the one I was alluding to my comment, above.

            You posted the RT video for our edification, but my point, made above, is that WESTERN MSM has picked up this story and showing it too, not just RT. For some reasons, this act of non-lethal thuggery against a media tycoon touched their collective “democratic” conscience, in a way that Berkuts being burned alive did not.

            Go figure…
            (I can never figure out Western MSM. What they ignore, and what they obsess about.
            They are still obsessing about that missing plane, and it’s not even their plane…)

        • marknesop says:

          Hahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!

  41. yalensis says:

    More on the Horse Wessel story from GAZETA .
    Even Yats had to come out and denounce Ponytail Guy (=Igor Miroshnichenko, a Parliamentary deputy from the Svoboda Party – remember, Ladies, this guy is single, so snap him up now!) for beating up media tycoon Alexander Panteleimonon. I suppose the problem wasn’t so much that Igor beats up Alex, but he (Igor) filmed the beating live and posted on youtube.

    Yats reacted as follows (this is an actual quote): “We don’t do things that way. A nation striving to join the European Union will preach and follow the basic principles and values of the European community.” Yats added that the work of the head of the state-run TV channel is supposed to be evaluated by the cabinet of ministers, in accordance with the law.

    In other words, Panteleimonov is a state employee, and he is supposed to get a regular annual performance evaluation of the quality of his work.
    Hence, Igor was wrong to take matters into his hands and give Alex an impromptu Performance Evaluation:
    “Me no like your work! Me beat you over head!”

    Current management practices frown on this type of Performance Evaluation. Instead of encouraging the employee, gently correcting his faults, and making him feel like a valuable part of the team, this type of old-school evaluation only serves to discourage the worker. He feels like his work is not appreciated by his management. He becomes discouraged and de-motivated. Employee retention measures go down. Morale is low.

  42. Fern says:

    John Bolton has entered the fray with a particularly apposite sound bite “sending John Kerry to negotiate with Sergey Lavrov is like sending a cup-cake to negotiate with a steak-knife”.

  43. Moscow Exile says:

    Only a few hours ago: Attempted murder of the head of the People’s Council of Myrhorod, a city in the Poltava Region of central Ukraine.

    Note:
    The People’s Council of Ukraine was created to ensure the organization and convening of the Constituent Assembly as a public body to draft a new Constitution of Ukraine, which is to restore law and order, the balance between the branches of government, their independence from each other and the introduction of real local self-government in Ukraine.

    Fascists?

    What fascists?

    • yalensis says:

      It takes just over 4 minutes for the ambulance to arrive.
      Not bad response time, in the scheme of things.
      Very hard to watch. Looks like the attackers stabbed him with a knife, in the thigh.
      EMT’s appear to be doing good job.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        One of the attackers shot him with a rifle, didn’t he? He walks round the car to the left and points the gun – might be an air gun – at him.

        Video taken down already as it violates YouTube’s “policy on shocking and disgusting content”.

        You can still watch that disgusting hag on YouTube, though, cackling: “We came; we saw; he died!”

  44. Al says:

    An interesting story:

    This is how Britain does annexations

    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/comment/talking-politics/britain-does-annexations-120327402.html

    Russia is relying on a dodgy referendum to grab Crimea from the Ukraine. When Britain decides to grab some territory, it has much less subtle means of taking what it wants.

    The last time this happened was in 1955, when the nation’s new Queen authorised a Royal Navy officer called Lieutenant-Commander Desmond Scott to sail into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and stick a flag on Britain’s new acquisition.

    …But what followed the annexation in 1955 is not devoid of controversy. Britain has grown increasingly muscular in its assertion of sovereignty. It claims not just Rockall but a circle stretching 12 nautical miles around it. Its claim is contested by Ireland, Iceland and Denmark…

  45. marknesop says:

    According to the world-weary wisdom of Oksana Grytsenko – who looks about 23 – Crimea has turned into a peninsula of violence and fear under Russian occupation. Already about 500 people have left; I wonder if that’s the huge exodus of Tatars Timothy Snyder described yesterday. This climate of terror is reminiscent to her of the kidnappings and abuse of activists during the Euromaidan, during which peaceful protesters were repeatedly assaulted by government shock troops and an army of titushki, many of them from the Crimea. The euphoria of Crimeans will not last long, Simferopol psychologist Iryna Brunova-Kalisetska tells our intrepid reporter, because plenty of people would protest, but right now they are too frightened. The lack of protest merely indicates overwhelming suppressed protest.

    http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/crimea-typically-a-popular-tourist-spot-turns-into-peninsula-of-violence-fear-339950.html

  46. marknesop says:

    BMW’s CEO Norbert Reithofer (I bet he got beat up for his lunch money every day between Grade 6 and Grade 11) believes there must be a diplomatic solution to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. He obviously does not want economic sanctions, and with good reason – BMW sales in Russia jumped almost double their global increase (12% against 6.4% globally) in 2013.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-19/bmw-ceo-calls-for-diplomatic-solution-to-crimea-dispute.html

    I wonder where those poor oppressed souls who toil in the salt mines of grim Mordor found the money to buy BMW’s, 44,871 of them (including the Mini brand)? Maybe they had to sell some of their organs. Or maybe it was Putin who bought them all.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Well the 14 million that use the Moscow metro every day most likely have no BMW – nor a Lada for that matter. I certainly have no smart car.

      I came over here to steal their jobs and women, which, though I say it myself, I did pretty successfully, but I have never earned enough to buy a motor vehicle of any shape or form.

      They must be exploiting me.
      :-(

      • Jen says:

        Your father-in-law would say that your masters in MI6 don’t pay you well enough so that you could afford a Lada at least.

        You only stole one woman but if you had been a Muslim, you could have stolen up to four (if MI6 paid you enough). :-)

    • Al says:

      It’s easy to get BMW’s out of Kaliningrad.

      It’s quite difficult for anyone else to get in (over the land border). As has been mentioned elsewhere on the interwebs (unfortunately I don’t quite remember where), the EU basks in removing borders and constraints of its citizens, but has a nice iron border with Kaliningrad – another example of doing the opposite that Brussels preaches and have steadfastly refused to address over the last 25 years with Russia (like visas etc.). Craphounds.

  47. Moscow Exile says:

    The Ukraine has asked UN to make the Crimea a de-militarized zone.

    Yeah, Sevastopol can become a yachting marina.

  48. Moscow Exile says:

    Navalny rumbled:

    Secret meetings with people who call themselves fighters against corruption have hit the camera lens. Alexei Navalny and his closest aide Vladimir Ashurkov, as it happens, regularly communicate with so-called sponsors – major foreign businessmen and representatives of special services.

  49. Al says:

    Here’s some nice hardcore Russian nuclear ICBM et al related news and analysis. I had to cross my legs a few times on reading. Or was that the double expresso coffee?

    Aviation Week & Space Technology (AW&ST)

    Bill Sweetman: Russia Develops Multiple Nuclear Systems

    http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/AW_11_11_2013_p48-632594.xml

    The last two paragraphs are particularly interesting:

    “…The “de-escalatory” doctrine emerged after the 1999 Kosovo war as an equalizer in the case of threatened conventional defeat. “It’s a concept that appears to be quite popular in Russia these days, “Podvig says. “Apparently, the thinking is that if Russia uses nuclear weapons in a conflict, everybody would just stop to avoid further escalation.”

    The doctrine attracted more attention in September 2009, when the joint Russian-Belarus Zapad exercise included a simulated nuclear attack on Warsaw, Poland. The concern is that the combination of low-yield weapons and “de-escalatory” strikes could lower nuclear thresholds to a dangerous level. ..”

  50. Moscow Exile says:

    Praise the Lord!

    A miracle!

    Timoshenko cured!!!

    Тимошенко закончила лечение в Германии и вылетает в Киев

    [Timoshenko has finished her course of treatment and is flying to Kiev]

    Экс-премьера Украины Юлию Тимошенко выписали из берлинской клиники Charité . В среду, 19 марта, она должна вернуться в Киев.

    На протяжении последних двух дней ей вводили инъекционно медицинские препараты и сделали компьютерно – томографический контроль позвоночника. В результате применения препаратов у пациентки существенно снизились боли в спине и улучшились функции правой ноги, уточнили в клинике, передает ‘Немецкая волна’.

    [Former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko was discharged from the Berlin clinic Charité. On Wednesday, March 19, she is to return to Kiev.

    The clinic has informed "Deutsche Welle" that over the past two days and with the help of computer-generated images she has been injected with medication. As a result of the use of drugs the patient's back pain has significantly decreased and the functioning of her right leg has improved.]

    By the looks of her, I reckon she had a full facial done by a skilled cosmetician and a visit from a hairdresser as well.

  51. Al says:

    Dod’s EU EP News site TheParliament.com

    PM Blog: Martin Banks: Crimean referendum

    http://www.theparliament.com/latest-news/article/newsarticle/pm-blog-martin-banks-crimean-referendum/

    “…But this region has a lot of natural resources and a willing and hardworking labour force. It just needs proper investment to enable us to become self-sufficient. Crimeans like me currently give millions in taxes to Kyiv each year and get little or nothing in return.”…

    …Contrary to many media stories, there was little or no evidence of Russian military personnel during our travels around Crimea and life seemed to be progressing perfectly normally, with children playing in the street while some made their way to work…”

    • Fern says:

      Judging by the tone of some of the comments, TGA’s regurgitation of western propaganda isn’t going down as easily as it used to.

  52. Warren says:

    Angela Merkel: Russia Will Stay G8 Member

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Russia will continue to be a member of the G8, denying media reports that the country was booted out of the group after it signed a treaty to annex the breakaway region of Crimea.

    Merkel noted that there are only plans to suspend the G8 summit in Russia’s Sochi. She was speaking at a joint press conference with visiting Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho.

    “Apart from that, no decisions have been taken,” she added.

    Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini noted that the G8 format still remains the same.

    “In recent days, partners from the big seven already took the decision on suspending participation in preparing the G8 summit in Sochi. However, this refers to suspending work in the big eight format, but not to the abolishment of the format itself,” Mogherini said.

    Earlier, French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius said that western states agreed to suspend Russia’s participation in G8.

    “As for G8, we decided to suspend Russia’s membership,” Fabius said live on radio station Europe-1.

    “All seven leading world powers, except Russia, are expected to meet,” he added.

    The G8 consists of eight industrialised nations in the world including Russia, the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Britain.

    Earlier the member countries, the European Council and the European Commission issued a joint statement that they are suspending preparations for a summit scheduled for June in the Russian resort city of Sochi. They said the decision was due to Russia’s stance on Ukraine, supporting the pro-Russia movement in Crimea.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin previously signed a treaty formally adding the Crimean peninsula to Russian territory. Subsequently, the US and European Union announced sanctions on Russia.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has earlier warned the West it will face consequences over the “absolutely unacceptable” sanctions imposed on Moscow following its Crimea annexation.

    “The sanctions introduced by the United States and the European Union are absolutely unacceptable and will not be left without consequences,” Lavrov said.

    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/angela-merkel-russia-will-stay-g8-member-1440902

  53. Moscow Exile says:

    As well as the incessant “boots on the ground” expression, has anyone noticed how every soldier armed with a rifle is called a “sniper”?

    Here’s Walker in today’s Grauniad:

    The base is surrounded by Russian troops, and through the wire fence it is possible to see the Ukrainian troops moving around. A sniper sits calmly on top of a garage watching the men below.

    I thought snipers were supposed to be sneaky and you couldn’t see them and they hid for ages until they got their man in the crosshairs.

    But a “sniper” sitting on a garage roof?

    • Al says:

      Maybe ‘slippers’ would be better as that would more reflect the crappy pedestrian arm chair general ‘expertise’ and the ease with which they slip tired old cliches in to their reporting… It doesn’t count if the editor at PPNN base office butchered their piece though.

  54. Moscow Exile says:

    March 4 2014

    Banderovtsy (“nationalists” in Western media) attack a Russian Otrhodox church.

    They shout:

    “Glory to the nation!” “Death to our enemies!” “Knife Russians!” “Make Russians swing!”

    I think the date is wrong. The attack took place in winter. There has been an early thaw this year, though it’s snowing here in Moscow again, I shouldn’t think it was snowing in Western ukraine 2 weeks ago.

  55. Drutten says:

    Listening to the ongoing UNSC meeting. The Australian ambassador said that the Russian minority had no legitimate concerns in current Ukraine, dismissing the numerous reports on violence and discrimination as dodgy and few and far between. This while stressing that one instance of a tatar being beat up in Crimea was a grave violation of minority rights and a clear indicator of the awful situation that Russia is causing. Or something.

    I am in disbelief. He also cited the sniper news from yesterday as an apparent example of gross Russian violations, omitting the fact that both Ukrainians and Russian Crimeans were targeted (and omitting the fact that one of the suspected snipers was a Lviv resident and Praviy Sektor crook)…

    What is wrong with this planet?

    In other news, Maidan 2.0 is building up and a bunch of police officers were beaten down by street mobs today in Kiev. Oh, and did you guys now that the Alliance of European National Movements (a far right/semi-nazi alliance of European extreme nationalist parties) last year decided not to accept Svobodas application because they were too extreme for membership? Funny how it goes.

    Again, what’s wrong with this planet?

    • Kulobi says:

      Dear Drutten, the planet seems OK. The same cannot be said about the quality of policy debate in Australia, as you witnessed. The fundamental principle of the “lucky country”‘s diplomacy was formulated by Harold Holt before he went a-swimming: ‘All the way with LBJ’. FM Julie Bishop’s statement on sanctions against Russia is an awkward paraphrase of Obama’s announcement. She’s probably been briefed by officials recently that “the people of Ukraine have risen up and rejected Putin’s puppet ruler, the president, Viktor Yanukovych”, as an editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald suggested.

  56. Hunter says:

    So apparently Ukraine is going to withdraw from the CIS:

    http://www.unian.net/politics/898412-ukraina-vyihodit-iz-sng.html

    and it is going to impose a visa regime on Russian nationals:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/03/russia-ukraine-yanukovych_n_4892417.html#791_ukraines-visa-regime-could-slow-remittances

    It will be interesting to see if in the future these moves are reversed if the Orange-supported candidates and neo-fascists face voter anger and outright apathy as a result of the IMF and EU imposed removal of gas subsidies.

    With Yats postponing the signing of the DCFTA component of the EU Association Agreement one almost gets the sense that the current people in charge of Ukraine and indeed many western Ukrainians are attempting to have their cake and eat it too (having a unified Ukraine and drawing closer to Europe and America and away from Russia) and at the same time fighting against the tide (trying to push for such closer ties with the West when realistically the current proposals for such closer association would wreck Ukraine’s eastern industries (resulting in job losses) and raise the cost of living for all Ukrainians significantly).

    There really was no reason why Ukraine could not have joined the Eurasian Union and the Customs Union and still had an Association Agreement with the EU. After all the EU has an association agreement with South Africa (the EU-South Africa Trade, Development and Co-operation Agreement) in 2004 but South Africa has been a part of the Southern African Customs Union with Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland since 1910 (well with Namibia since 1915 effectively when it was conquered from the Germans).

    And free trade agreements have been signed and are being ratified with Colombia and Peru, both members of the Andean Customs Union alongside Ecuador and Bolivia but the free trade agreements with Bolivia and Ecuador are only currently in the negotiation stage.

    Even more remarkably the EU participates in the European Economic Area (EEA) with Liechtenstein since 1995 (thus Liechtenstein participates in the EU’s Internal Market) and has had a Customs Union with Switzerland since 1924 by allowing Liechtenstein to carry out “dual marketability” or “parallel marketability”. It’s not inconceivable that something similar could have been worked out for Ukraine.

    • Fern says:

      I think it was the EU itself that said Ukraine could not have both the Association Agreement and be a member of the proposed Customs Union. It did, however, say that the signing of the Association Agreement did not prevent Ukraine from entering into free-trade arrangements with other non-EU countries – I’m not sure of the difference(s) between a ‘customs union’ and a ‘free trade agreement’. Possibly technical to do with WTO rules? The most sensible approach to all of this was the one suggested by Putin – tripartite talks to agree on a way forward that benefitted Ukraine, the EU and Russia – and which seemed, initially at least, to be favoured by Merkel. If that sensible option had been taken up by the EU, then it’s likely that much of what has followed could have been avoided.

      • Jen says:

        A customs union is usually a group of countries that agree to constitute a free trade area among themselves but apply external tariffs on non-union countries.

      • marknesop says:

        In fact, at varying points in the international conversation, both said that it would be possible for Ukraine to be a member of both organizations. Yanukovych desperately proposed trilateral talks, with Ukraine, Russia and the EU at the table, and Putin supported him – this was just days before Yanukovych blew off the EU, and that was likely in large part because the proposal was refused, and that in turn was likely because the EU smelled Yanukovych’s desperation, but misread Putin’s support for fear of being humiliated. They should have taken their cue on the issue of Putin’s seriousness and relative pragmatism from his careless statement, “Do we have to strangle whole industries in our economy just to make them like us?” But as usual, the EU got the signal entirely wrong and assumed Putin was floundering, on the ropes. Won’t be the last time, I’m sure.

        However, in January this year, EC President Van Rompuy conceded that “Trade agreements can interact constructively with the customs union as long as WTO rules are applied and free-decision making guaranteed”. But statements were also attributed to both Russia and the EU that Ukraine would have to choose, and other EU bigmouth bystanders like the quiveringly Russophobic Dalia Grybauskaite were unequivocal; Ukraine must choose, and could not have both. This is not the first time Grybauskaite’s mouth has gotten her face in trouble, and I doubt it will be the last – she’s like that drunk who always starts a fight in the bar that drags your whole group into it, just because he was with you, and it’s worth remembering that she skipped attending the Sochi games due to her high-minded pro-gay feelings, while her Parliament was debating the same laws as obtain in Russia.

        But in the end, the west’s furious reaction was inspired as much by this as anything else. Vladimir Putin had just had one foreign-policy triumph too many.

    • Jen says:

      I believe the issue was that Ukraine was supposed to have signed the Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement at the same time. The DCFTA would have compelled Ukraine to open all its markets to EU goods. If Ukraine was also part of the Eurasian and Customs Unions at the same time, then EU goods entering Ukraine could pass into Russia and other members of those unions. But I’m guessing none of these countries have free trade or similar agreements with the EU. Russia had to warn Ukraine that Russian and other Eurasian Union markets for Ukrainian goods had to close if Ukraine signed the DCFTA as there would have been the possibility of EU products entering Ukraine and then entering Russia or other Eurasian Union member countries by being sold on directly or repackaged as Ukrainian products and then sold on.

    • Kulobi says:

      Re. Huff’s comment: remittances ($0.9bn in the first nine months of 2013) are just a tip of the iceberg. Russian FMS chief talked about 2.9 mn Ukrainian nationals earning approx. $30bn on the territory of RF in 2013 http://www.vladtime.ru/econom/362529-trudovye-migranty-iz-ukrainy-za-2013-god-zarabotali-v-rf-okolo-30-mlrd-dollarov.html . Bon chance with the visa regime and that.

  57. Al says:

    Reuters: NATO chief says Russia may not stop at Crimea

    http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine-abroad/reuters-nato-chief-says-russia-may-not-stop-at-crimea-340072.html

    TiMH (Tabloid in My Head) says:
    NATO chief Rasmussen to add ‘Donate’ button to NATO Facebook page.
    Partner countries requested to give generously for the Needy.

    This bloody man wouldn’t last 5 minutes on civvy street*

    *Terms and Conditions apply.
    i) does not include working as a danish porn star.
    ii) any fast food outlet
    iii) selling the Big Issue

    • marknesop says:

      Just wait until red-hot Radek the motorcycle dreamboat gets to NATO. He loves him some Russia, as the Southerners say. I can imagine the policy toward Russia will get reasonable in a heartbeat, with Annie Applebum whispering advice into his ear. Rasmussen’s maudlin maunderings should therefore be viewed in the context of nostalgia happening right now, because a day will come in the not-too-distant soon-to-be when we will wish we had “Reasonable Rasmussen” back.

      If the EU does not get its act together pretty quickly, there might not be too many worries about NATO troublemaking about the world, since they can’t afford to go anywhere they can’t reach by bus unless some sugar daddy bankrolls them. Hey, remember when the Saudis actually tried to hire NATO (mostly just the United States, really) to bomb Assad flat, by offering to put up the folding green for the operation if the USA would bring the grunt and bang? Good times; I swear my jaw almost hit the floor. Sometimes we can be truly thankful that John Kerry’s brain runs about 4200 rpm slower than his mouth, because I can’t believe he actually said that out loud. And was still in the same job the next day, I mean. There was a time, which is probably still now in some political administrations, where he would just have been taken round the back on some pretext, and shot. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen in the Yew Ess of Aye, because we might otherwise be denied our near-daily dose of comedy from a man whose performance as SecState is a virtual slow-motion train wreck. I would have been willing to swear on a stack of Heavy Metal magazines that there could not in the world of the living be a worse SecState than Hillary Clinton, but by God, there is. Janis Joplin would have done a better job on her worst day, God rest her soul.

      • Hunter says:

        The problem is of course that the Secretary of State position is now being given to career politicians instead of career diplomats. So the highest diplomatic position in the US is being occupied by politicians. Hence the decline in diplomatic skill.

    • yalensis says:

      The Kyiv Post is a Banderite yellow tabloid.
      Every word they print is a lie, including the words “the” and “a”.

      [old joke - I am obviously referring to the English-language version! of the tabloid, since Ukrainian doesn't have... oh, never mind...]

  58. Kulobi says:

    In the meantime, in a land far far away, Nuland’s underling fulfils her sudden urge for Wanderlust. http://www.akipress.com/news:537460/ .
    Nobody knows what ‘Big Fatema’ Sumar has been doing in Uzbekistan for two days, apart from congratulating Islam Karimov on his achievement in the field of democratic excellence. She may have beaten the dead donkey of the ‘New Silk Road’, or perhaps pondered wistfully as she gazed across the mystic Oxus into Afghanistan. Not a dog barked in the Uzbek media anyway.
    By contrast, Uzbekistan’s neighbours are getting excited. In Kyrgyzstan, speculation is afoot that Sumar’s visit, sudden government reshuffle, and continuing prevarication over the Customs Union are connected. ‘Kyrgyzstan will become the Yanks’ revenge for Crimea’, as one tabloid put it, adding that a frontrunner for the PM position is the ‘chief suckling [выкормыш - colourful expression!] of the USAID, this official branch of the CIA’. http://www.paruskg.info/2014/03/19/96549#more-96549
    In Tajikistan, general approval of Putin’s stance on Ukraine has acquired a fascinating twist: ‘just as Crimea is an ancient part of Russia, Samarkand and Bukhara belong to us’.

    http://millat.tj/siyosat/4083-putin-durust-mekunad.html

    Things may get interesting in this part of the world, particularly after NATO completes its withdrawal from Afghanistan (to Uzbekistan?).

    • marknesop says:

      Very nice prose – I could see you doing a guest post, too, any time you are interested – you can obviously write.

      • Kulobi says:

        Ta! Your site is inspirational, an oasis of sanity amidst endless studies of hopeless misery masquerading as expert Russia-watching.

        • marknesop says:

          The thing is, if you go to Russia for the purpose of finding an interview subject who will say – truthfully, according to their own experience – that Russia is a country of missed opportunities and hopeless misery and alcoholism and antisocial behaviour, you will be able to find that person. I daresay you could find him in the USA as well, or Auckland or Namibia. You can always find someone who is bitterly dissatisfied with his lot in life, feels he is entitled to more and blames the country or the government or both. However, most journalists would quickly stipulate that such was not typical for the United States or Britain or Germany or wherever from among their list of allies. Not so Russia – every complainer is the spokesman for an otherwise silent army of malcontents.

    • Al says:

      Could be related: Dostum has been doing a tour of the stans recently

      Jamestown Foundation – Will ‘Dostumistan’ Be Established Near Afghanistan’s Border With Uzbekistan?

      http://www.jamestown.org/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=42075&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=7&cHash=e60eb2e72d131431ebcca8b79e6a3dc0#.Ux6Pac7ImSo

      • Kulobi says:

        Rotar’ article doesn’t say much, really. Dostum visited Tashkent and Astana; so what? They are not big players in Afghanistan, and are incapable of projecting power on their own. What we DO know is that Dostum has been groomed by the US as a VP for Ashraf Ghani. Once Karzai steps down (the ungrateful sod did not even impose sanctions on Putin nor denounced the invasion of Ukraine!), Ghani, a US citizen, is supposed to take over after April 5 ‘elections’. The creation of ‘Dostumistan’ would be a desperate fall-back position for the US if things don’t go according to plan. We’re talking about a double-proxy scenario: US – Uzbekistan (Sumar came days after Congress sanctioned arms shipments for Karimov) – Dostum’s Uzbek princedom.

        • Al says:

          Sure, it’s a lot of conjecture but I think everyone wants some kind of buffer against the Taliban. Remember that Massoud’s forces were built up in Uz with Russian weapons and American money and then used as the ground force for the removal of the Taliban, and was quite successful until he was blown up by a fake journalist/cameraman during an interview. I think they are preparing for a repeat using, yet again and ethnic Uzbek because they appear to be more cohesive as a group (and militarily), unlike the more unreliable Pashtuns who resented Massoud’s effectiveness that undermined the ousting of the Taliban. Stage one would be effective unofficial buffer state armed to the teeth, stage two would be trying to repeat massoud’s triumph and holding ground. I don’t see much sense otherwise.

          • Kulobi says:

            I agree, with one caveat – unlike 1996, there cannot be a unified Northern Alliance any more given the visceral hatred between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. if there’s an anti-Taliban buffer zone north of the Hindukush, it’ll comprise Dostumistan (linked to US-supported Uzbekistan) and Massoudistan (linked to Russia-supported Tajikistan). Massoud’s brother spends more time in Dushanbe these days than in Faizabad, and not just for R&R I imagine.

  59. Moscow Exile says:

    Сразу главное: Алексея Навального и его куратора Ашуркова “спалили” на тайной встрече c европейскими политиками в Москве для решения финансовых вопросов. На этой встрече он проговорился, что еще и летал в США для общения с представителями ЦРУ.

    The important thing first: Alexei Navalny and his bagman’s secret meeting with European politicians in Moscow to deal with financial issues revealed. At this meeting, he blurted out that he has even flown to the United States to communicate with representatives of the CIA.

    See: http://bloodance.livejournal.com/46632.html

    • yalensis says:

      Well, I always used to speculate that Navalny’s CIA handler was some Spanish-speaking American dude, like maybe a Latino-American. Because it seemed suspicious to me that Navalny’s “family vacations” often involved travel to Spanish-speaking countries. Like Spain or Phillipines. Not that those countries are not nice places to visit.

      That was just speculation, though. I can’t believe Navalny was stupid enough to actually blurt out that he is CIA. What a blabbermouth! And, like NTV says, just how much $$$ have the Americans wasted on this fool? Spies are just not what they used to be. Philby and Burgess were able to keep their secrets for entire decades.

      • yalensis says:

        P.S. has anyone else noticed that Navalny’s Belgium handler, Guy Verhofstadt looks sort of like Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery?

        So shagadelic! Ladies, is he single?

        • yalensis says:

          And speaking of shagadelic, at exactly 1:36 video shows a clip of my own adorable heartthrob, Judge Sergei Blinov. The context is that Navalny met with these international men of mystery in between sessions of his KirovLes trial.

          If only Blinov had known that his accused was rushing out of the Viatka courtroom to meet with Belgian spies!

      • Sam says:

        To further bury himself, he just wrote an op-ed on the NYT where he shares his own sanction list to punish Russia for Crimea. It the current political context, that’s the stupidest thing he could have done.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/20/opinion/how-to-punish-putin.html

        To address some points in his opinion piece, I absolutely love how he says where he’s been arrested at, but not why he’s been arrested, because it sounds much better to say ” I was detained AT a rally in support of anti-Putin protesters ” then to say ” I was arrested FOR violating the terms of a suspended sentence from a theft/bribery case”.

        You also have to give him credit for the “my blog has been blocked as “extremist” after I called for friendly ties with Ukraine and compliance with international law”, instead of ” my blog has been blocked as “extremist” after I cheered on judges getting killed in Ukraine and called on the same to happen in Russia”. Potayto potahto, he’s just channeling his inner writer by exercising poetic license.

        Another one: “There is a common delusion among the international community that although Mr. Putin is corrupt, his leadership is necessary because his regime subdues the dark, nationalist forces that otherwise would seize power in Russia. ” Is he speaking about himself?!

        And last but not least: “The antiwar protest held in Moscow over the weekend was the largest in two years, and it exceeded any counter-demonstration mustered by pro-Kremlin movements.” HAHAHAHAHA!

      • marknesop says:

        Probably for a hell of a lot less money, too.

    • yalensis says:

      Here is the exact Navalny quote from around 2:20 minutes in the video; it goes without saying that the meeting was bugged by FSB, so this is a recording from the wiretap, and they provide a written transcript, which is handy, because Navalny is speaking quickly and drunkenly slurring his words so otherwise it would be hard to follow him:

      “Когда мне сказали, что нужно ехать в Америку и фотографироваться, я им сказал — вы что, больные? Причем, как-то получалось так, я говорю, давайте подгадаем с моей поездкой в ЦРУ, сделаем все одновременно. Подгадывали, и у них не получилось. А получилось так, что я ездил. Был там неделю, потом вернулся и через два дня улетел снова”

      TRANSLATION
      When they told me that I had to go to America for a photo-shoot, I told them, “What, are you crazy? And yet, somehow it turned out that way, so I say to them, I say, let’s figure out how to combine this with my trip to the CIA, we’ll do everything all at once. So we figured it out, and I went there for a week, then I returned, and then after a couple of days, I went back again. [everyone laughs]
      END OF TRANSLATION

      Okay, now I am going to play the devil’s advocate for a second.
      I consider myself to be something of a Navalny expert, and here are my thoughts:

      If you listen to his voice, he is talking while eating. (Which is disgusting in and of itself.)
      He is eating and probably drinking at the same time. He sounds animated, he is probably drunk as a skunk.
      In other words, the whole thing about the CIA could just be a bad joke, told with Navalny’s usual inappropriate adolescent humor, and with an alcohol boost. Remember, on his blog Navaly always used to crack inappropriate jokes about being a CIA agent too. Blurting out inappropriate things (like a 4-year-old) is part of his shtick.

      Not that he isn’t a CIA agent. I still think he is. But at the same time, he has a split personality, and in his own mind, he is joking ironically about something that is actually true, but he thinks by joking about it, it will make people think he is being ironic. Get it?

      It’s a complicated psychology, worthy of Dostoevsky. But basically, the example I would give is: imagine that you are an actual murderer, you actually strangled someone and got away with it, and then somebody accuses you, and you joke back: “What! You think I actually strangled him with my own hands?” (and you actually did, but you think it’s a joke, and the other person is supposed to think that it’s a joke…)

  60. Hunter says:

    Indeed the new powers are facing a notable challenge to their authority in the streets of eastern Ukraine as well as in the country’s courts. There is a lawsuit before the Supreme Administrative Court of Ukraine contesting the legality of the parliament appointing its speaker the Acting President of the country with decision expected on March 19th. The same court has also yet to rule on the legality of the parliament in sacking five judges of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine on February 24th.

    Well the court case has apparently been closed:

    http://rapsinews.com/judicial_news/20140319/270967624.html

    “Judges reasoned that the case should be reviewed by the Constitutional Court”

    I wonder what will happen to that legal challenge now….

  61. Fern says:

    Russia has alerted the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to its fears about the potential for a humanitarian crisis in Ukraine:-
    “Russia has “shared [its] fears” about the humanitarian situation in Ukraine with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the head of the Russian Federal Migration Service said on Wednesday.
    “I won’t keep it secret that we have shared our fears with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Our fears were understood to a certain extent, and a certain form of interaction with that organization has begun,” Konstantin Romodanovsky told reporters in Moscow.
    “I think that by combined efforts we will minimize the problems that the unstable situation in Ukraine may cause us,” he said.”

    http://www.interfax.com/newsinf.asp?id=490053

    And as evidence that the situation in Ukraine is perhaps not as tickety-boo as western MSM likes to report, on 7th March, the UNHCR instructed its member states to remove Ukraine from the ‘safe country of origin’ list. This is defined as:-

    “”A country where, on the basis of the legal situation, the application of the law within a democratic system and the general political circumstances, it can be shown that there is generally and consistently no persecution as defined in Article 9 of Directive 2004/83/EC, no torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and no threat by reason of indiscriminate violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict. In making this assessment, account is taken, inter alia, of the extent to which protection is provided against persecution or mistreatment by:
    (a) the relevant laws and regulations of the country and the manner in which they are applied;
    (b) observance of the rights and freedoms laid down in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and/or the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights and/or the Convention against Torture, in particular the rights from which derogation cannot be made under Article 15(2) of the said European Convention;
    (c) respect of the non-refoulement principle according to the Geneva Convention;
    (d) provision for a system of effective remedies against violations of these rights and freedoms.”

    Those Russian propagandists eh?

  62. Warren says:

    Jobbik: Crimea referendum is exemplary

    Márton Gyöngyösi had a press conference on Sunday’s Crimean referendum and he pointed out that Jobbik considered the Crimean vote as the triumph of a community’s self-determination. The Hungarian patriotic party says that the referendum was legitimate and valid, even though both the Ukrainian government and Russia exercised some pressure on the voting.

    The MP stated that numbers spoke for themselves: nearly all local citizens want to belong to Russia. Márton Gyöngyösi pointed out that Russia was helping her own ethnic minority since the Crimean peninsula is predominantly populated by Russians.

    The politician added that the West only stands for the self-determination of a community if it is the interest of the West: the same happened in Kosovo where they supported secession. If it is another minority, whose secession they are not interested in, they don’t support it.

    Márton Gyöngyösi says the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs should be ashamed to keep repeating the opinions of the EU and the United States instead of forming their own, even though they would have plenty of examples to draw from Hungarian history. He reminded the press that the City of Sopron had a referendum in December 1921 and the people decided to belong to Hungary instead of Austria.

    The MP also mentioned that Russia is fighting for the rights of ethnic minorities living in Ukraine, so they also keep the rights of the Hungarian minority of the Lower Carpathians on the agenda, which Hungary, shamefully enough, fails to do. He pointed out that the Hungarian foreign ministry was quite wrong to believe that the EU would help to ensure minority rights, as ethnic Hungarians suffer a major deprivation in Slovakia and Romania alike.

    Márton Gyöngyösi declared that if Jobbik got into government, they would balance the harmfully unilateral Euro-Atlantic connections, protect Hungarian minorities and advocate their rights in international forums.

    http://www.jobbik.com/jobbik_crimea_referendum_exemplary

    ____________________________________________________________________________

    This is a very interesting and positive development, it shows that Russia’s stance is supported by other ethnic and linguistic minorities. Jobbik has been angered by the chauvinism and bigotry of Svoboda and other Banderites towards the Magyar community in the Lower Transcarpathia region.

    • marknesop says:

      The trouble with that is, unless I am greatly misjudging them, Jobbik is a far-right extremist party which is not greatly different from Svoboda and Right Sector. At least, so the popular press describes them, and maybe all that means is that they have not yet had occasion to use them as heroes; I freely admit I know little about them but what is printed in the popular press. Therefore their claim to be protecting minorities sounds a little odd.

      • Hunter says:

        They probably like the idea of protecting minorities provided:

        – those minorities are not in Hungary

        – especially if those minorities are Hungarians outside of Hungary

        So Jobbik would have zero problem with Putin’s approach to Ukraine I imagine if they really are a far-right extremist party.

        But then again even Svoboda was rejected from an alliance of european far-right parties for being too extremist so……

        • Warren says:

          Jobbik excluded Svoboda from the Alliance of European Far-Right Parties because of their anti-Magyar polices and rhetoric, Svoboda and other Banderites organised a march in Lower Transcarpathia, which the local Magyar population and Jobbik considered provocative and intimidating.

          It important to remember that Lower Transcarpathia region was part of Hungary until the Treaty of Trianon 1919. Then it became part of Czechoslovakia until 1938, when the Germans and Poles invaded the country. Carpatho-Ukraine declared independence from Slovakia, however the Hungarians invaded the same day and annexed the land. The after the WW2, the territory became part of the Ukrainian SSR.

          • cartman says:

            The Banderites recently burned a Hungarian monument down in the Carpathians.

            Marine Le Pen recently said the Crimean vote was legitimate. I wonder how that affects her chances against Flamby and whoever comes from Sarkozy’s side. She has successfully transitioned the party from a fringe right-wing party to a more populist nationalist one, with a grudge against the globalists.

      • Warren says:

        Jobbik is only interested and understandably so, in the rights and interests of Hungarians who now find themselves under Ukrainian rule. Who else will look out for them?

        Jobbik bizarrely I have good relations with Turkish nationalists and Turanian ideologues, the Jobbik leader has collaborated and exchanged views with Alexander Dugin.

        Jobbik is a very dynamic and complicated group. Yes they dislike Roma gypsies, and non-Hungarian immigrants. However their stance against Svoboda and the Banderites must be commended!

    • hoct says:

      The proverbial broken clock that is right twice a day.

  63. yalensis says:

    And speaking of Navalny, here is his op-ed in New York Times , advising American government how to punish Putin

    Comments to Navalny’s op-ed show an interesting mix, ranging from insipid type of Bravo Navalny, you are a martyr, our hearts are with you type to more intelligent analysis.
    This one from a “David” in Brisbane, Australia (is Brisbane some kind of haven of rational thinking?):

    David
    Brisbane, Australia 50 minutes ago
    There is a Russian saying that roughly translates as: Whoever speaks of whatever but a lice-infested one always of a bath. So is it for Mr. Navalny – everything is about “punishing” his nemesis Putin. He has been “telling journalists” for years that Putin’s approval rating “would soon peak and then tumble”. For years, I am telling you, and we are still waiting for that prediction to come true. If you believe Mr. Navalny, the sole purpose of this Putin’s Crimean adventure was to make him look bad as a prognosticator. Just when Mr. Navalny’s predictions were about to come true and the Russian people were about to “weary of the president’s empty promises”, that wily Putin invades Crimea and gets a cheap ratings boost. Imagine how frustrating it must be for Mr. Navalny, a one-trick pony whose sole raison d’etre is to accuse Putin of all possible sins and to keep predicting his imminent downfall. No wonder Mr. Navalny is getting delusional with desperation. Restoration of Crimea to Russia has unprecedented popular support among both Russians and Crimeans, not only among “Putin’s hard-core base” as Navalny implies (unless he means that this hard-core base includes 95% of Russia’s population). Mr. Navalny did have some following among Russian people fed up with government corruption and graft. But he made a mistake of opposing the annexation of Crimea and is now desperately sticking to his guns as his popularity nose-dives. He won’t win many new follower with this Op-Ed.

    • yalensis says:

      And “David” is obviously right about one thing: Putin’s sole motive in invading Crimea was to make Navalny look like a poor prognosticator! What a spiteful little Putler…

      • Southerncross says:

        Did his American handlers insist he stick to the American line, even at the risk of destroying his ultra-nationalist cred? Idiots. He’d have been better advised to take the opposite tack – excoriating Putin’s weakness and screaming that he should have responded to the Ukraine situation more quickly and more violently.

        The CIA should find another Russian Nazi to serve as their instrument of destablisation. Aleksandr Barkashov’s still alive isn’t he? Maybe he can sober up long enough to have another go at fighting for Russian purity.

        • yalensis says:

          That is Navalny’s main contradiction: His American handlers make him toe the party line down to the smallest bullet point. Hence, his support for Syrian rebs, and then his sudden pacifism when Russia “invaded” Crimea. (Oddly enough, in 2008 Navalny’s initial basic instinct was to support Russia, but that could just be because of his racist attitude against Gruzians and other Caucasians.)

          So, Navalny tried to sit on 2 stools for many years, being the leader of the “liberals” and also the “nationalists”. But there are contradictions between the 2 groups. The liberals are pro-American, they follow American foreign policy down to the tee; whereas the nationalists are pro-Russian (in the sense of “Russkiy” not “Rossiyanin”).

          Hence, Navalny has alienated his “Russian nationalist” base. Some of them are confused: “Hey, I thought we WANTED Crimea back!”
          In actuality, Navalny was just faking some of his Russian nationalism. That is to say, he IS a kind-of, sort-of Russian neo-Nazi. However, at the deepest ethnic level, his loyalties are more to Ukraine than to Russia. (There is some Banderism in his family tree.)

          In summaryt, Navalny is a confused mess. He is a character out of Dostoevsky novel. He is like Stavrogin, only without the paedophilia.

      • Kulobi says:

        David from Brisbane is a rare bird – an albatross in the ocean of gung-ho stars-n-stripes commentariat down under. Take this pearl of wisdom from Lowy Institute: http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2014/03/20/Russia-Ukraine-silence-of-the-left.aspx
        Lowy positions itself to as the country’s leading think tank …

        • yalensis says:

          Thanks for link, Kulobi.
          One take-away for me was this link , showing that Julian Assange took Russia’s side in Crimean situation.

          Assange seemed to accept and even endorse the incursion. “Geopolitically, it is utterly intolerable for Sevastopol to fall into the hands of NATO,” he declared. Such an occurrence would be “an existential threat to Russia.”

          “Russia will reclaim Crimea,” Assange stated flatly. “And the United States will prop up the rest of Ukraine.”

          I hadn’t read about Julian’s reaction yet, so it is good info. Julian used to be more of a Western liberal type, so seems like he has evolved politically in the last couple of years. (Also got really grey and grown a grizzly beard…)

  64. yalensis says:

    Meanwhile, Horse Wessel gets to tell his side of the story:

    Igor says he was just kicking back watching some tube, and they were talking about how the first Ukrainian soldier was killed in Crimea, supposedly by Russian forces. And then he picked up his remote and switched over to Panteleimonov’s channel, and they were showing Putin’s triumphal signing of the bill attaching Crimea to Russia.

    At that point, Igor just lost it, and went postal “My cup of patience overflowed,” he admits.
    He couldn’t help himself: he rushed down to Panteleimonov’s TV station, taking some neo-nazi friends with him, and they just couldn’t help themselves from beating up Pantel and forcing him to sign a letter of resignation. Making sure to videotape everything so they would watch it later, in case there was nothing good on TV.

    Meanwhile, Klichko came out in firm opposition to what Igor had done. Klichko’s position on this event coincides perfectly with the position of the European Union. I bet even the bloody-handed Lady Mac-Scottish-Person recoiled in horror when she saw such uncouth violence taking place on youtube.

    European people are simply HORRIFIED that such an act of thuggery take place in the new, “fledgling” democracy of Ukraine. This was precisely the reason why they overthrew that old government, because such ghastly things were happening there under the slab-faced goon regime of Yanukovych; and the last thing they want to see this sort of thing happening again…. And so the pony-tailed democracy-loving Igor better apologize for losing his temper like that. Brute…!

    • marknesop says:

      And unfortunately, that’s all he’ll have to do to keep his job; act all rueful, I admit it, I was weak, I gave in to my emotions. And they’ll finger-wag at him and tell him he was naughty, and down the Memory Hole it goes.

  65. Hunter says:

    And now others have caught on to the fact that Crimea’s accession, if recognized would come with a relatively large exclusive economic zone:

    http://whotalking.com/%23Crimea

    http://inagist.com/all/445569588898439169/

    http://www.globalnewspointer.net/ukraine-4/

    photo/1

  66. Al says:

    Merkel – G8 suspended indefinitely until Ukraine situation resolved.

    So she’s doing the strict minimum. Threats of stage 3 I assume depend on whether Russia pops in to eastern Ukraine, which I think it has absolutely no intention of doing.

    No doubt she’ll be condemned by the Balts, Poland etc. for being too soft, and condemned by German business leaders for going to fast, though they might be a little relieved that it has not gone much further.

    Hopefully Putin will ‘tat’ the ‘tits’, just to keep the pressure on. Still blah blah then.

    • marknesop says:

      When Merkel had her back up against the wall, she was forced to admit Russia had not been kicked out of the G8, only that the G8 summit was off and the other members would hold a group hug somewhere else. Whoopty-doo. It was Laurent “Tete de Fuque” Fabius who slobbered that business about the G8 expelling Russia, not to mention that France might cancel the contract for the Mistrals. It’s exactly as Hunter suggests – diplomacy done by career politicians rather than diplomats is like needlepoint done by career sumo wrestlers. Fabius’s staff was quick to correct their impetuous boss, no doubt after he got the willow cane across his buttocks in the woodshed and a stern lecture on the somewhat parlous state of France’s economy from either the French Finance Minister or someone higher. There will be no return to the Cold War, because that’s just not the way the world works nowadays, but it won’t be for want of trying on Washington’s part, and I believe Russia is all done trying to get along with the west. I like to think of it as the Dick Cheney doctrine: go fuck yourself.

      http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_03_18/Russia-remains-G8-member-German-chancellor-Merkel-5897/

      The west cannot seem to get over the idea that what it is doing is not hurting Russia. Or that hurting Russia without hurting itself is going to be very, very difficult.

  67. Al says:

    Follow up on Dopey Wahl who quit from RT on Slate (my apologies):

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2014/03/19/an_afternoon_with_liz_wahl_the_reporter_who_quit_rt_and_hasn_t_heard_the.html

    And the Truthdig.com article referenced above:

    How Cold War-Hungry Neocons Stage Managed RT Anchor Liz Wahl’s Resignation

    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/how_cold_war-hungry_neocons_stage_managed_liz_wahls_resignation_20140319/

    • Kulobi says:

      Awww, she’s such a brave little battler she is. One wishes her well, especially in her endeavour to study law. Will she major in International Law perchance, the one that Evil Putin violates fifteen times a day?

  68. Moscow Exile says:

    Tin-Tin at his most magnificent:

    Ukraine nationalist attacks on Russia supporters – fact or Kremlin fairytale?

    He’s getting hammered by commentors but I’m sure such critical comments will soon vanish without trace as it is CiF policy not allow comments about Guardian employees.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      And since I last visited the Grauniad last night, the comments to Tin-Tin’s nauseous article have been well and truly purged, including mine, which has not only been purged, but also vanished down the memory hole.

      That comment of mine countered one off a Russophobe who countered the Paet/Ashton tape by saying that Dr. Olga (now described by some as the “Mother Teresa of the Maidan”) has stated that she only treated “peaceful protesters”. My comment included a CNN interview with Dr. Olga, in which she states she treated everyone, including “military and Berkut”. (I pointed out that her reference to “military” probably was in error and by :military” she was probably thinking of “militsia”, the Ukrainian for “police”.)

      Whatever. Down the hole it went.

      • marknesop says:

        Mine is still there (7:17 PM) and has received a surprising 40 likes; I notice that while opinions defensive of Tin-Tin’s position are not uncommon, they do not meet with much in the way of general approval. But going back again I notice a lot have been taken out that I remember reading, and there was nothing wrong with them; they simply disagreed with Harding. “Didn’t abide by our community standards”, indeed. It’s fairly clear what those community standards entail. I’m a bit miffed now that mine was not taken down – perhaps I was not edgy enough.

  69. marknesop says:

    While Washington pumps up the volume and the fist-waving about its commitment to protecting democracy in Ukraine, the Pentagon quietly proposes to cut the budget of the Warsaw Initiative – a program which funds the military modernization of Ukraine – by a third.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/nation/2014/03/20/program-boosting-ukraine-facing-cuts-warsaw-initiative/6601059/

    The cold warriors are doing all the chinning, but the budget warriors are speaking the language that drives reality.

    • yalensis says:

      Yats will be devastated.

      • marknesop says:

        Ha, ha! I’m sure he is. But he might be taking out an insurance policy. This just in!! “Former Putin Advisor” Andrei Illarionov, now with the CATO Institute, returns fresh from meetings in Kiev with Yats, and is as full of news as a nut is full of meat.

        According to him, Russia is preparing to expand the aggression, not necesarily by annexing more of Ukraine, but by using special provocations to stir up the citizens and poison their minds against the central government that loves them so much. But that’s just the usual bla-bla, nobody really takes it very seriously. Nope, all the buzz in Kiev is that Putin is manipulating the electorate to ensure a Russia-friendly President is elected, and that candidate is…Yulia Tymoshenko!! Apparently he confided to a Russian journalist that he had enjoyed working with her in the past, and hoped to have a chance to work with her again in future. There you have it!! Yulia is a Kremlin stooge!!

        http://news.ca.msn.com/canada/video/?videoid=cbcc2014-2003-1348-0055-244332965600

        He also cites as evidence the obvious fact that Ukraine’s new “interim government” did basically nothing to resist the Russian advance. But hey presto! Yulia returns from Berlin, and suddenly there is a blizzard of activity!! He doesn’t explain why Putin would want to see the election of sombody who is actually effective at opposing him, but maybe he just figured we wouldn’t understand.

        Anyway, what I get out of that is that Kiev – and more to the point, Yats – who we recently saw crooning “Yoolia!! Yoooooolia!!!” into his cell phone with the enraptured look of a poleaxed steer on his ferrety face – wants the world to know that Yulia Tymoshenko (Yoooooooolia!!) is the Kremlin’s pawn. The interviewer was obviously skeptical about her popularity and ranked her a has-been, but somebody in Kiev equally obviously thinks she is a threat. Could Poroshenko and Yats have been getting cozy?

        • Jen says:

          This must have been what Yatseniuk must have been singing about Tymoshenko at the time:

          ” … And I can’t live without your love
          And I can’t live without your love
          Well I can’t live without you Julia”.

          Not sure how he managed the falsetto parts though.

    • Al says:

      There is one thing simply missing from this whole story. A soundtrack!

      May I offer into consideration M-A-R-S’s ‘Pump Up the Volume’ as the track relating to the propaganda war?

    • Jen says:

      The new Ukrainian National Guard or whatever will pass for a Ukrainian army will need to pump some iron :-) at their local gyms to operate more catapults and trebuchets should Ukraine be menaced by more Russian peacekeepers.

      While firing stones and rocks at their enemy (who’ll be dying in their hundreds if not their thousands from burst blood vessels in the brain brought on by laughing too hard), the Orangestanis need to be outfitted in the latest DIY armour:

      http://www.badassoftheweek.com/nedkelly.html

  70. cartman says:

    Let’s go back to 2009, when we could first hold the Obama regime (imagine that word italicized) accountable for the US’s actions around the globe. That is when he an Hillary overthrew the government of Honduras and selected a new one (the State Department was known as the power broker, post-Zelaya). One of the first things the new Honduran government did was recognize the independence of Kosovo, as one of the few Latin American countries to do so:

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

    The whole point was to roll back Bolivarianism, and also make the new rulers toe the line with the US. Why is it then, at least 89 LGBT activists have been murdered by the new government? Hillary recently declared herself the protector of gays around the world, brought out Lady Gaga out to sign off on it, and proceeded to shame Russia over the issue. What is happening in Honduras is several orders of magnitude worse than in Russia and it was all carried out by Lady MacClinton, who has a huge following among gays and liberals because this story remains completely ignored.

  71. yalensis says:

    Ethnic Czechs in Volnhyia feel like they are being threatened by Banderites , and want to escape back to Czech Republic.


    When we arrived three years ago in the Czech Malin (a city in Zhytomyr region) […] suddenly the police arrived and said that supporters of Bandera were preparing to take action. We just had to go away and our buses were accompanied by armored police cars,” Holec wrote, as cited by the Idnez newspaper.

    He recounts that after the Czech people first left the Volyn region, “Ukrainians liquidated everything that was Czech, including cemeteries.”

    “When we arrived eight years ago in our native village in the Black Forest (Volyn region), there stood our house and our mill. Last year we found neither our house and nor the mill. They were gutted,” said Holec.

    Those Czechs are silly millies, Banderites never hurt anybody.. They are just building a fledgling democracy.
    .

  72. yalensis says:

    72 military garrisons in Crimea, formerly belonging to Ukraine, have switched sides, and re-pledged their oath to Russian Federation.
    This includes 25 boats of the Ukrainian fleet, and 6 military vessels.

    The boats and garrisons in question conducted a ceremony of induction in which the Russian flag was raised, and everybody sang Russian national anthem.

    Which goes something like this:

  73. yalensis says:

    Meanwhile, Andrei Parubiy, Defense Minister of the illegal putsch government in Kiev, is really mad at Yats, and even threatens to drag the little weasel out onto Maidan to ‘splain himself to the angry mob.

    What really ticked Parubij off is that Yats said he was going to cancel, effective immediately, Ukraine’s visa regime with Russia. And then, after consulting with his European puppet-masters, Yats did a backspin (followed by a flying camel) and quickly dropped that idea. He (and frightened Europeans) realized that this measure would harm the numerous Ukrainians who live and work in Russia on work visas; and also harm Ukrainian economy, since those guest workers send much needed $$$ back to Ukraine.

    So, Yats suddenly cooled down, and admitted, in the words of an old Russian proverb, that it was better to “measure 7 times and cut the cloth once”. In other words, don’t do anything hasty that you will regret later.

    Now Parubiy is furious, because he wants to immediately cut off visa regime with Russia.
    As for the Ukrainian workers living in Russia? Parubij doesn’t care about them. He says fuck ‘em, they’re traitors.
    Те, кто работает в России, все равно не будут нашими союзниками, поэтому нам наплевать на их интересы”.

    “Those [Ukrainians] who work in Russia, the are not and will not be, our allies, therefore I spit on them…”

    “Phphxxxtooooo!” [spitting sound-effect]

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Sackofshitvili had the same opinion about the million plus Georgian nationals living in Russia, whom he unequivocally labelled as traitors.

      • marknesop says:

        So much so that he introduced as many complications as he could to prevent them from voting in the last Georgian election, the one in which Ivanishvili handed him his ass.

    • Al says:

      Yats did a backspin (followed by a flying camel) ”

      So Ukraine will be in the medals for the next Olympics! Will it be a new sport or just in gymnastics & ice skating???

      • yalensis says:

        If they have a new Olympic event called “How to be weaselly yet still flexible while being pulled in many different directions”.

        • Jen says:

          The new sport in which Ukraine sweeps all the medals and sets new world records involves pigs performing ski jumps and going airborne for the longest time possible before they hit the mud baths.

  74. Fern says:

    Came across this youtube clip showing a bear cub’s encounter with, I think, a mountain lion who forgot the golden rule when dealing with cubs – momma’s around somewhere. Some people may see a political analogy here – large bears and small bears – but I just think you can never have too many clips of baby bears.

    There’s also this interesting article on yet another problem with Ukraine’s Constitutional Court and its decision on the Crimean referendum:-
    “How five judges were dismissed, four judges appointed, and the rest of the bench threatened with criminal indictment 36 hours before the Crimean referendum.
    What happens if a government or a legislature, acting beyond its authority, gets a court to rule in violation of its constitution? That isn’t a legal vacuum. It is double-barreled unlawfulness or illegality. But since the fingers on the trigger didn’t have the authority to pull, the outcome is what the lawyers call a legal nullity. It doesn’t require challenge or appeal. It is void from the start.”

    http://rt.com/op-edge/ukraine-constitutional-court-legal-vacuum-117/

    On the sanctions front, I really wish Russia hadn’t decided to tit for tat. I think it would have been much better if they’d have said nothing, not retaliated but quietly got on with steps to protect their economy and then take action with no warning.

    • yalensis says:

      Dear Fern:

      What a great video! Is this for real, or did they basiscally stage this confrontation with animal actors? How do they even film animals like this?

      Anyhow, wonderful video, and I think the analogy is crystal clear:
      Baby bear = Crimea, Cat = Banderites, Momma Bear = you-know-who…

      Although I think the cub was okay so long as he stayed in the water.
      Cats simply detest being in the water. I don’t know why, because they can swim perfectly well, if you throw them in. Don’t ask me how I know that.

      • astabada says:

        Hi yalensis,

        the video is certainly “acted”, which you can see from the dozens of changes of view: the scenery would have been literally covered in cameras otherwise.

        Also, beware that certain big cats famously love water. Honestly I don’t think the following is going to help you (unlikely situation, and you would die anyways): but if a tiger is planning to have you for dinner, avoid water.

        • yalensis says:

          Hi astabada,
          Thanks for the good advice!

          If a tiger plans to have me for dinner, then my solution will be to have a friend with me, preferably a delicious friend who runs slower than me!

        • marknesop says:

          A few months ago I read “The Tiger” by John Vaillant, a somewhat-romanticized true account of a group of Primorye conservationists and their hunt for a tiger which had become a man-eater in the huge wildlife preserve. Although it has been repeatedly wounded, in its final charge the tiger has 3 men all shooting at it as fast as they can pull the trigger, and still hits the central character in the story and knocks him down. When they get the tiger (dead) off him, he cannot find his rifle. It is in the tiger’s mouth, with the barrel down its throat, only the stock protruding.

          • Fern says:

            Have you ever read Jim Corbett’s ‘Man-eaters of Kumaon’? Corbett was a hunter/naturalist in India in the early years of the 20th century who specialised in tracking and killing tigers and leopards who’d turned man-eater. I haven’t read the book since I was a child but can vividly remember what smart and formidable opponents the big cats were.

            • marknesop says:

              No, I haven’t, but I’ll look for it; it sounds interesting. I read David Walker’s “Harry Black” when I was young (it was made into a film, but the producers apparently did not think anyone would come to see a film just called “Harry Black” and so turned it into “Harry Black and the Tiger”); it was about an Englishman who specialized in hunting man-eaters, and I got exactly the same impression from it even though it was complete fiction; that tigers have an incredible sense of how people think and where you will not be looking or how they might otherwise inject the unexpected into your pursuit.

              In the case of the tiger in the Vaillant story, it had killed a young man from the village after it had disposed of the man who originally injured it by shooting it through a window or through a thin door, with a load of birdshot which did nothing but pain it without really impeding its function in any significant way, It dragged a mattress from his cabin and lay upon it under a pine tree in the middle of a cleared area, perhaps reasoning anyone following it would have their attention fixed on the cabin. When the young man came by it only had to cover about 30 yards to be upon him, which was the work of only seconds. The conservationists assessed that the young man had actually been able to react quickly enough even in the face of such terror to trigger his weapon, but it had misfired, and then the tiger was upon him. What was left of him after would fit in a pocket. The Vaillant story also conveys a frightening picture of these animals’ power and speed.

      • Fern says:

        Some domestic cats do like water – the Turkish Van breed, for example, is very fond of a dip. Cats generally, both big and small, don’t like to get their ears wet – I think it’s something to do with water droplets on the fine hairs in the ear causing problems with balance and coordination. And yes, I’m sure the clip is a studio-produced compilation – there’s a lot of ground covered in the chase that would require vehicles, different camera teams and so on and the presence of humans in large numbers would change the behaviours of the animals. But a nice video nevertheless – these Kremlin propagandists are good nowadays.

        • yalensis says:

          They should have an Academy Awards category for animals, because these animals in the video are terrific actors.

          Director: Tiger, show emotion! I want to see anger! Narrow those eyes.
          Tiger: Roll ‘em, I’m ready for my close-up!

          BTW, my cat hated his bath, it would take 2 of us, one to hold him down in the sink, the other to wash him. And yes, he especially hated when his face got wet. And afterwards we would all be traumatized and the two humans scarred with scratch marks. But it was worth it, because he felt so much better when he was clean and fluffy!

    • yalensis says:

      P.S. on Russian tit-for-tat, I kind of agree with you, but you have to understand that “tit for tat” is the Russian way. It is as Russian as [insert some object or food item that is quintessentially Russian].
      This method was perfected during the Cold War. For example, if Americans discovered a KGB spy among the diplomatic core and expelled him; then Russia had to follow soon after by expelling a similar-ranking American diplomat, even if they didn’t think he was a spy.

      Russians feel that “tit for tat” methodology provides a certain degree of predictability in an otherwise unpredictable world!

      • Sam says:

        Well, apparently Putin agrees with both of you. At today’s Security Council meeting, Lavrov pointed out that they were readying a tit-for-tat response to the new US sanctions list, but Putin told him there was no need for Russia to further retaliate for now. That not only de-escalates the situation, but shows the US sanctions for what they are: petty, childish and unworthy of a response.

  75. Kulobi says:

    Australian FM Julie Bishop does not exclude the possibility of thinking about giving some consideration to perhaps denying Putin visa to a G20 jamboree in Brisbane

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-19/government-mulls-sanctions-on-russia-in-relation-to-g20/5332760

    Will this courageous gesture be properly appreciated by the Big Bro in ANZUS?

    http://www.themercury.com.au/american-news-networks-screw-up-their-geography-and-call-tony-abbott-prime-minister-john-abbot/story-fnj3twbb-1226861047746

    • marknesop says:

      That’s so cute, how countries will line up to duplicate counterproductive actions and try to outdo one another in pettiness in the name of “showing solidarity”. I’m sure you remember what your Mum said in response to your pleas that you did something foolish just because you were following someone else’s example: “If Johnny jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too”? It’s also illustrative of how much it stung for Russia to laugh at the American sanctions. The west likes to know that when they stamp their foot, the earth trembles.

  76. Al says:

    So ‘Standard & Poor’ has downrated Russian stocks, now followed by a warning from Fitch that they may well follow suit. Curious, no? As if on cue? The piper calls the tune… It’s not really unexpected that the US would go for such low hanging fruit, but it will only further undermine the credibility of the American rating agencies that have already had question marks about their impartiality exposed by onset of the 2008 economic crisis. Hopefully this will spur further cooperation with China and India and BRICS not only for an alternative to the IMF & WB, but a reserve currency formula.

    • Al says:

      VISA & Mastercard block payment by sanctioned banks?

      http://en.ria.ru/business/20140321/188628529/Visa-Mastercard-Freeze-Customer-Cards-at-Russian-Bank.html

      IIRC, wasn’t it only in the last few years that both were allowed to operate in Russia?

      The old wikileaks story from 2010
      US lobbied for Visa & Mastercard in Russia, leaks reveal

      http://www.information-age.com/technology/security/1305388/us-lobbied-for-visa-%26-mastercard-in-russia-leaks-reveal

      “… Newly leaked cables reveal that the US government lobbied aginst Russian plans to launch its own credit card and payments service, the Daily Telegraph reports today. If successful, the service would have cost Visa and Mastercard billions of dollars in lost revenue.

      It was believed that the Russian government wanted to set up the system because it suspected Visa and Mastercard of passing details of payments to the US government, the cables reportedly reveal. ..”

      Both VISA & Mastercard are American companies. Should Russia resist, or is it too obvious?

      • marknesop says:

        Now that could translate into big money, if another credit provider quickly stepped into the breach. Credit-card transactions are billions of dollars a year, and once confidence in a company’s operations is lost, customers seldom come back. This is a perfect example of long-term loss for short-term satisfaction.

    • marknesop says:

      Agreed, and I expect precisely those actions to occur. A showdown with the dollar has been building for a long time, and it will likely never be weaker than it is right now. Downrating by the rating agencies means exactly bupkes to the people who actually play the market in a big way, because they are confident enough in their own understanding of patterns and flows and the movement of worth. Down-ratings are for the boobs on the street, who read it in the paper and understand that country is experiencing an economic catastrophe, which is what they are meant to think.

    • Warren says:

      Jeffrey Sommers near the end explains the potential negative consequences for the US drive to export LNG to Europe. He explains how the price market for LNG and natural gas via pipelines are fundamentally different, and how the increase consumption from EU consumers will inevitably raise prices for gas in the US to the disadvantage of US manufacturing. No to mention will encourage even more Shale Gas exploitation which is already controversial. To be honest I never considered these potential negative aspects of US LNG exports.

      .

  77. yalensis says:

    In tough times, international leaders resort to stand-up shtick.
    First, after John McCain is put on Russian sanctions list (he will not be allowed to fly to Russia) he cracks a lame joke, something like, “Aw shucks, I have to cancel my spring break in Siberia.”
    [not a very good joke - "Siberia" meme is over-used and very stale]

    Next, Rogozin responds to McCain by telling “oldie but goodie” from Great Patriotic War.
    Joke goes something like this:
    Soviet partisan is captured by Nazis, they set him up before firing squad and ask him what is his last wish. He replies: “My last wish is a kick in the ass.”
    A Nazi soldier obliges by coming up behind him to kick him in the ass. Partisan takes opportunity to grab soldier’s gun, and mows down all the Nazis.
    Rogozin concludes, while addressing McCain: “It’s our national tradition. We are not capable of doing anything until we get that final kick in the ass.”

    Even the humorless Communist Party chief Zuganov gets in the act , he cannot resist telling his own joke, in the Duma, while signing ratification to take Crmea back. Here is translation of Zuganov’s joke. [warning: it is not as good as Rogozin's joke]:

    Obama says to his wife, “What a nightmare! I’m getting sick of those Russians. Putin and his Crimea. I would love to just cut out the legs from under all of them.”
    Obama’s wife replies: “Didn’t you watch the Para-Olympics, honey? Even without legs, they won all the gold medals!”

    • Moscow Exile says:

      And from NYT:

      London’s Laundry Business

      It boils down to this: Britain is ready to betray the United States to protect the City of London’s hold on dirty Russian money. And forget about Ukraine.

      I believe one is supposed to print ROFL after statements such as the one above.

      • marknesop says:

        The USA in general and Ben Judah in particular are at their worst when they strike a moralizing tone. Judah writes of Britain’s bright young things becoming valets and lackeys to oligarchs – how soon he has apparently forgotten the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Campaign Finance ruling, which found that corporations were “persons” and therefore existing campaign finance laws which restricted the amount of their contributions to political candidates’ campaigns “a form of censorship that has had a substantial nationwide chilling effect on political speech”. In a ruling which democracy advocacy groups called the worst decision since the Dred Scott justification of slavery, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of corporations in the United States to spend unlimited amounts of money to elect and defeat candidates.

        http://www.democracynow.org/2010/1/22/in_landmark_campaign_finance_ruling_supreme

        If a corporation has the right to spend unlimited funds from its deep pockets to get candidates elected who will be sympathetic to the corporation’s interests and help it strike down laws which fetter its growth and capture of more market share, how is a corporation different from an oligarch?

        The spiteful bitterness at Britain because it will not immolate itself in an American-led attempt to take down Russia once and for all sounds particularly mealy-mouthed considering New York is home to more wealthy fat-cats than is London. But I guess it’s where they are from that counts. To Judah, anyway. And likely to Washington as well.

        http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/may/08/cities-top-millionaires-billionaires

  78. hoct says:

    LOL, what silliness over at PONARS:

    “The Rada did not follow, or claim to follow, the impeachment route. They passed a resolution that established that Yanukovych had removed himself from fulfilling his constitutional duties. The resolution stated that due to the fact that Yanukovych had unconstitutionally stopped fulfilling his presidential duties, the Rada was calling early presidential elections as is their right under Article 85/7. It seems that nothing in the constitution prohibits parliament from passing such a resolution, which has the full legal force of a law, according to Article 91. The speaker of the Rada signed the resolution, again in accordance with the constitution (Article 88/3).

    Why didn’t the Rada impeach Yanukovych?

    The impeachment process, as outlined by the Ukrainian Constitution, was not the most obvious constitutional option in the situation that existed on February 21-22. The impeachment process is a drawn-out procedure that is reserved for cases when the president has committed treason or other crimes. The immediate problem on the evening of February 21 was that the Yanukovych regime had dissolved and Yanukovych had left the capital, apparently not intending to return for a while. The dissolution of his regime was evidenced by the Interior Minister and the Speaker of Parliament also leaving the country, the departure of several important Party of Regions MPs, and, furthermore, the chief of the army resigned.

    While we cannot know Yanukovych’s intentions for certain, the dumping of his documents in the lake at his fancy Mezhigorie residence and the traces of hectic packing suggest that the president was indeed fleeing rather than just going to a meeting in Kharkiv, as he later claimed. His midnight disappearing act left the country effectively without a president and a government.”

    So, as long as the president has been first run out of town by violent mobs, the parliament may call an early Presidential election and appoint an Acting President from its midst for the interim. Who knew. Somehow after the president has been chased out of town for fear of death the law changes. Mystical forces are at work here.

    • Hunter says:

      But that explanation doesn’t really hold water. If one reads the constitutional articles quoted in the 2004 constitution (because that must clearly be the constitution the Rada is working from even if it wasn’t properly adopted) it says that the Rada has the authority of “calling elections of the President of Ukraine within the terms specified in this Constitution.”

      But article 108 gives only 4 very cases in which the authority of the President may be terminated before his/her term expires:

      1. resignation;
      2. inability to exercise his or her powers for reasons of health;
      3. removal from office by the procedure of impeachment;
      4. death.

      And then article 109 outlines how the resignation is to be done, saying that:
      “The resignation of the President of Ukraine enters into force from the moment he or she personally announces the statement of resignation at a meeting of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.”

      So unless Yanukovych actually personally announced his statement at a meeting of the Rada, it would seem his resignation would not have entered into force to enable the Rada to call early presidential elections.

      More strangely still the vote in question came about within a few hours of Yanukovych giving a televised address denying rumours of his resignation and declaring that he would not resign.

      Even the reported quotes on the events from persons such as Turchynov don’t mesh with what this story is trying to say (unless of course something was very badly mistranslated):

      http://tryfon-topalidis.tumblr.com/post/77516483114/ukraines-parliament-removes-yanukovych-schedules-new

      The Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s parliament) voted unanimously on Saturday afternoon to impeach Yanukovych as Ukraine’s fourth president and scheduled early presidential elections for May 25, 2014. “Given that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has restrained himself from performing his constitutional duties, which threatens the governance of the state, the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, large-scale violation of human rights and freedoms of citizens, and based on the circumstances of extreme urgency, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, by way of expressing the sovereign will of the Ukrainian people, has decided to remove Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych from office for neglecting his constitutional duties and scheduled an early presidential election in Ukraine for May 25, 2014,” newly appointed as parliament speaker and acting prime minister Oleksandr Turchynov read out the text of the resolution.

      The parliament resolution dismissing President Viktor Yanukovych were supported by 328 MPs, as reports surfaced that Yanukovych had resigned and even pre-recorded his resignation statement, but then changed his mind and issued a defiant video promising not leave Ukraine or resign. Indeed, in an interview with UBR TV Channel a legally elected President Yanukovych says that all the recent decisions taken by the Verkhovna Rada are unlawful and he won’t sign them into law. “The decisions they are now taking [in parliament] are unlawful. I won’t sign anything,” he said, adding that “these are not opposition-minded people, these are gangsters, (…) Lawmakers are beaten, stoned, intimidated at the parliament building’s exit.”

  79. Al says:

    Is the US Europe’s Jumpin’ Jack Flash?

    Eurot Tribune: Can US Fracked Gas Save Europe?

    http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2014/3/18/35636/8272

    “…Cue the talking heads parroting the meme that the Obama administration is aiding and abetting our once, and again, Soviet Russian nemesis by keeping all that sweet fracked gas trapped in North America. Just one problem. Even a cursory examination of the facts reveals that the scenario envisioned by Boehner et al, the US replacing EU imports of Russian gas, isn’t even a remote possibility. Let’s lay out the facts of the case…”

    • Fern says:

      Al, that’s a very good article. A concise, readable summary of the situation, thanks for posting it.

      • marknesop says:

        Yes, my, my: that does lay it all out, doesn’t it? Just like it says. And a far more comprehensive summary than any other I’ve seen, as well, in that it brings in the fertilizer angle and the possibility of having to buy from Russia to offset outgoing gas that is being sold at break-even in order to cut out Russia, which will sell theirs to Asia instead. What a comedy.

  80. Al says:

    The US’s policy to keep Russia in a corner needing to put its hand up in class to ask a question from the big boys is over – containment and selective engagement with Russia are dead, dead, dead.

    What does this mean? The US will have to improve contacts with Russia regardless of political circumstance. For ‘Europe’ the same is true and they will have set up a proper Russia working group (I guess they might have one at the Council of Minsters level) but also something for the European Parliament which gets significantly more powerful after the elections this year and full implementation of the Lisbon reforms.

    This means more engagement and discussion which is good for everyone.

    It is funny to see the spin that EU failure to take Russia in to account over the Ukraine was due to leaving the agreement to the technocrats at the European Commission. That is a complete lie. They simply dismissed Russia’s warnings and words year after year, dragging on visa talks and a more comprehensive trade agreement because they believed that Russia was desperate and that the EU holds all the cards.

    If Brussels (EU leaders) wants stability in Europe (and the US out), the best thing it could do is sign a comprehensive economic agreement and resolve visa issues in a fair way with Russia and cooperate on a range of other issues. Then there will be no need to boost defense spending and give the US extra leverage on the continent. It would be a win win for Europe. This also means that the Commission needs to stop its threats against Gazprom and get down to business in a straightforward and equitable fashion. Business is after all, business. Unless Europe wants to live in self-imposed paranoia and accept modern US nukes on it soil and depend on them forever for their own security.

    If anything, Russia is doing the EU a major favor as it has singularly exposed its major failings that EU leaders have still refused to address (since when does anything get done apart from in reaction to a crisis or disaster?). There are opportunities to be grasped here for Europe and if they are sensible and brave enough (and ignore the US), then it could all turn out well. Then again…

    • Fern says:

      I can’t help wondering whether the apparent willingness of EU politicians to behave in ways that seem irrational and are, in fact, highly detrimental to the interests of their own countries, is due to NSA facilitated blackmail. All that spying and eavesdropping must have garnered quite a bit of material that would end careers if it saw the light of day.

      It should be obvious, even to the Ray Charles vision-alikes in the US/EU/NATO that if any attempt to stabilise Ukraine is to have even the slimmest chance of success, Russia has to be involved. So dire are the diplomatic capabilities of the western political elite that they have painted themselves into a corner with their absurd rhetoric, threats and now sanctions. They keep demanding that Russia ‘deescalates’ but they never take any step to do the same – Russia is effectively charged with not only finding a diplomatic solution to a crisis it didn’t create but doing so in such a way that the US & EU don’t lose face. Kinda mission impossible.

      • Al says:

        Words not followed by actions are only words. The ‘West’s response looks very carefully calibrated to go only so far but can be sold as punishing. They’ve certainly taken their time in actually doing something rather than roaring ahead and acting which is exactly what they would do if they were in a position of dominance or great superiority.

        They’re certainly not stupid and at the moment it is about not loosing any more face or shutting any doors. A hint of this is found in Merkel’s comments which balance out against the British threats. Good cop bad cop routine. Reality in the middle somewhere.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Merkel and her government got lambasted again by Gysi yesterday in the Bundestag.

          I was very disappointed with the Chancellor’s behaviour. She chatted away and read documents whilst Gysi was waxing in eloquent. That’s what that ignorant bum Obama likes doing. She must think it’s the done thing.

          Here’s the speech. No translation of yet, but just look at Merkel’s pig ignorant behaviour and bask in the dulcet tones of Goethe’s tongue if you can’t understand German:

          Bundestag (20.03.2014) Gysi redet über die Ukraine / Atomwaffen / Putin / Völkerrecht / Swoboda

          [Bundestag (20.03.2014) Gysi speaks about the Ukraine/Atomic Weapons/Putin/Human Rights/Svoboda]

          Amongst other things, Gysi says sooner or later everyone will accept the fact that the Crimea is part of Russia, that sanctions are a load of bollocks and that when Turkey occupied part of Cyprus illegally, nobody said sweet FA about it – because Turkey is a NATO member.

  81. marknesop says:

    Maybe save a file copy of Yats’s impromptu press conference after he signed the political association accord with the EU.

    http://news.ca.msn.com/world/ukraine-signs-deal-to-align-itself-with-europe

    He goes on about how the most important aspect of it is “security and defense cooperation”,while warships maneuver menacingly in the background. Van Rompuy mentioned nothing about that, just the expected approbation for wise Ukrainians who had chosen to ally themselves with a country which is governed by democracy and the rule of law. All citizens, he said, would have a say in national prosperity. Ha. ha; I’m sure.

    This will have the effect of increasing the Southeast’s apprehension, while at the same time increasing the Oranges’ expectations for being just like Poland. We will see who is clapping in a year or two.

  82. Warren says:

    Low-key ceremony marks signing of Ukraine’s EU association

    Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk and EU leaders signed today (21 March) the “political chapters” of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement (AA), in a low-key ceremony, orchestrated by Council President Herman Van Rompuy, intended to downplay the importance Kyiv attaches to the pact.

    http://www.euractiv.com/global-europe/low-key-ceremony-marks-signature-news-534312

    • marknesop says:

      Ha, ha!!! But as I pointed out just above, Yats immediately gave a sidewalk press conference outside in which his theme was “My new friends are so coming for your ass, so you better watch out”. It is clear the most attractive part of the political association for him is the impression that it commits the EU to defending Ukraine with military force. Maybe he’s thinking of NATO, which – while I wouldn’t want to say “never” – is highly unlikely to ever welcome Ukraine as a member. Can’t, in fact, so long as it has unresolved border disputes, so a must-do for NATO membership would be either taking back the Crimean Peninsula, or recognizing it as part of Russia.

      Yats seems to recognize this signing ceremony as an event of great moment, which I personally think is a mistake as it will encourage expectations that are most unlikely to be fulfilled.

      • yalensis says:

        Yats is so excited, he thinks this signing is the beginning of the Age of Utopia!

        Europeans not so much, and kind of yawning:

        “Contrary to convention, the signing ceremony was not broadcast live. Nor was the “doorstep statement” by Yatsenyuk to journalists afterwards. Despite huge media interest, a proper press conference was not organized, and journalists were squeezed in a small space, trying to hear Yatsenyuk, who was not given a microphone and had to shout to make himself heard.”

        Yats reminds me of a girl who got invited out on one date, and even though the dreamboat never called her back, she is already sewing herself a wedding dress and ordering her bouquet.

  83. Al says:

    Crimea: Putin Orders Fireworks in Moscow to Celebrate Annexation Treaty

    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/crimea-putin-orders-fireworks-moscow-celebrate-annexation-treaty-1441293

    Soundrack?

    There’s a party goin’ on right here,
    A celebration to last throughout the years,
    So bring your good times,
    And your laughter too,
    We gonna celebrate your party with you,

  84. Warren says:

    Ukraine urges Armenia to review stance on Crimea, recalls envoy

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine is urging Armenia to reconsider its position on Crimea and the referendum held there on March 16, Deputy Foreign Minister said.

    “We are disappointed with reports on Armenia’s position regarding the issue. We have already invited the Armenian ambassador to express our concerns and gave certain instructions to our envoy in Yerevan. We also sent a note requesting explanation on Armenia’s position,” Danilo Lubkivski said, when asked whether Kyiv can sever diplomatic relations with Yerevan.

    “Now we are waiting for the answer,” he said, adding that Armenia’s “unfriendly position may have undesirable consequences for bilateral relations.

    Meanwhile, head of the MFA division for information policy Evgeny Perebiynis said the Ukrainian ambassador to Armenia, Ivan Kuhta, was recalled for consultations.

    Kuhta, himself, told a news conference in Yerevan that the embassy informed the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry about Armenia’s position on the recent developments that was voiced during a phone conversation between the Presidents of Armenia and Russia. “I can’t provide comments, but can say that each country has the right to have its stance,” he said.

    http://www.panarmenian.net/eng/news/177128/

    • marknesop says:

      Ukraine’s new government obviously longs to bully other nations, precisely as it gratuitously accuses Russia of doing. And this is why Yats and his happy band of brothers want EU and general western association – for muscle. And that in its turn is why the west is happy with Yats; because he speaks their language.

    • Jen says:

      Armenia is an easy target for Ukraine to bully because it’s a small nation with a small population, it has no sea coast and it’s surrounded almost completely by Georgia, Turkey and Azerbaijan, all three of whom Armenia has various issues with, some of them quite trivial (like, vis-a-vis Georgia, who was the first to make Christianity a state religion and who has the older and more unique alphabet), and others major (like the Nagorno-Karabakh problem with Azerbaijan). The country can be cut off by Turkey or Azerbaijan if either country wishes and I believe Turkey has imposed blockades in the past.

  85. Drutten says:

    Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt says that Putin wants to invade all of Ukraine and raise a Russian tricolor on Maidan square, or something. He calls Crimea a mere opening move… Jesus, and we have this buffoon in charge of our foreign policy (oh, there is much more, I have written lengthy pieces on him and his dubious career before).

    http://sverigesradio.se/sida/gruppsida.aspx?programid=3304&grupp=6243&artikel=5815876

  86. Al says:

    Putin on his way to Crimea? Apparently flights were delayed for his jet to leave…

  87. Al says:

    BBC World News anchor Zeinab Badawi trying to grill Alexander Nekrassov who more than holds his own against the loaded questions. He’s good.

  88. Moscow Exile says:

    Kiev 2012

    Fascists?

    Where?

    I see no fascists!

  89. Warren says:

    Visa and MasterCard block Russian bank customers

    Visa and MasterCard have blocked credit card services to some Russian bank customers as a result of US sanctions.

    Four banks are so far affected, all of which have links to Russians blacklisted by the US.

    Visa and MasterCard, both US-based companies, are forbidden from having any dealings with those targeted by the sanctions.

    The banks, which said card services stopped without warning, have described the move as unlawful.

    ‘Frozen out’
    One of the banks affected, Bank Rossiya, is described by the US as Russia’s 15th largest, with assets of $12bn (£7.27bn).

    The St Petersburg-based bank has been singled out by Washington as the personal bank for senior Russian officials. US officials said it would be “frozen out” from the dollar.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin said Bank Rossiya had nothing to do with events in Crimea and promised to transfer his wages there.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-26678145

    ____________________________________________________________________________

    When will people and countries learn? Seriously has everyone forgotten how Visa, MasterCard and PayPal behaved toward Wikileaks and Julian Assange? How can anyone or any country for that matter that value its independence allow themselves to be dependent or rely on these American and Western financial companies? Time and time again, VISA and MasterCard have deprived people & countries access to their OWN money! IE engage and facilitate expropriation of private property!

    Russia, China and rest of the world that does not want to live under US hegemony must develop their own financial transaction system. Look at what happened to Iran, when the SWIFT payment scheme was prohibited to them.

    The BRICs and others need to use their own non-US controlled version of VISA, MasterCard and SWIFT! The US can what ridiculous pretext can rob anyone or country of their money, by denying access to their accounts! This is an outrageous state of affairs which the BRICs must address.

    .

    • yalensis says:

      The accompanying video is interesting, which shows the ceremonial lowering of the Ukrainian flag, and the raising of the Russian one, at the Nakhimov Naval School.

      I had read in other sources that the Russian military gave out orders to all their units in Crimea to not act like dicks when transferring authority. In other words, the Ukrainian flag was to be treated with respect, folded properly, and shipped back to Kiev, not trompled on, etc.

      They wanted to avoid people just ripping things down, like happens in the heat of the moment, and to do it prperly the military way, with dignity and respect.

      I have a feeling that if things had happened the other way around, the Banderites would not have behaved with as much decorum towards the losing side.

      .

      • marknesop says:

        You’re probably right, but in this instance it is Ukrainians handling the Ukrainian flag, not Russians. I’m sure all at the Command level were briefed that if they caused any incident which gave the Ukrainian kangaroo government an excuse to cry about the Russia barbarians degrading or besmirching Ukraine’s proud heritage, they would piss when they couldn’t whistle.

        That’s an old saying which refers to your being hung, by the way. Of course you will piss, if there’s any left in you, and you cannot whistle for obvious reasons.

  90. Warren says:

    Published on 21 Mar 2014
    The Telegraph’s columnist Liam Halligan talks about the issue of Ukraine / Crimea versus Russia versus the EU versus America.

    Recorded from BBC1 HD, This Week, 20 March 2014.

    ___________________________________________________________________________

    Liam Halligan is one of a handful of Western journalists that I have any respect for, I amazed he still employed by the Telegraph.

    • marknesop says:

      Better him than me. I don’t know how he can just sit there and argue against people who just keep smugly asserting the same old talking points, especially since they can cite any number of popular media outlets which will substantiate their arguments; Russia has no independent media, all television is controlled by the state and upstarts are ruthlessly crushed. If you started up a television station in the USA that featured nothing but talking vegetables – all the same format as a regular channel, sports, news, entertainment, but all the characters were talking vegetables – and it failed and went under, would it be because Americans were powerless to save spirited vegetables who just wanted to speak their mind, and the ruthless state ground them down? Of course not – it would be because the format was unable to attract a sufficient audience to make it profitable, and the corporations are the state and they ruled it had to be discontinued – it really would have nothing to do with vegetables at all except that they were a bad choice.

      Did Dozhd go under because the state could not abide its free-spirited independence, or because it could not attract enough of an audience to make it a going concern? If FOX News started up a Russian service, in Russia, do you think it would catch on? Why not? Not likely because the state could not tolerate its exposure of its autocratic nature, and far more likely because nobody would be interested in watching it.

      Novaya Gazeta has been publishing for years now, calling Putin a craven, lying piece of shit from sunup to sundown, day in and day out, advancing the craziest conspiracy theories and featuring the most wild-eyed pundits imaginable, Yulia Latynina being one. Their market share has not grown substantially, although the attention paid them by the west is high because the west likes the cut of their jib. But generally speaking, Russians do not, and its circulation is tiny. If it were a television station, with pricey anchors and loads of technicians and cameramen, it would have shut down long ago because it would be a huge money-loser.

      It now looks like the west has escalated things to the economic realm, with the credit-card provocation. We are rapidly approaching the point at which things will take on a momentum of their own and will be beyond the power of single actors to retract. There is still a major opportunity for the EU to step up and take market share from the Americans by offering alternatives to Visa and Mastercard, but if the EU goes along with it and major European and American businesses begin to be booted out of Russia, the unraveling will rapidly get out of hand and the global economy will feel it.

    • Kulobi says:

      Warren, thanks for posting this, very useful. I wish such debate were possible in Australia.
      Speaking of British columnists, who’s Richard Boyse at the Times? This genius apparently proposed that the West unleash its most potent weapon short of nukes against Putin – the Right Hon Tony Blair. I can’t access the original, but Kazakh papers report Boyse’s plan of young Tony exercising his considerable personal charm and the awesome power of normative suasion to wean Nazarbaev away from the Imperialist Eurasian Union.
      Yes, I can visualise Blair standing tall and gaunt and staring the Kazakh president down into a quivering mess of moral compliance. After seeing the light, Nazarbaev will beg Blair to stay as a paid consultant and promise to double his paltry annual retainer of GBP8 mn.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2238071/Kazakhstan-dictator-axes-paper-critical-Blairs-8million-job-adviser.html

      • marknesop says:

        Blair is such a shit. There ought to be some kind of law that says you can’t scorn anyone as a dictator while you’re rubbing up against another one like you’re trying to start a fire or something.

        On the plus side, that site features a lovely photo of Helen Mirren, still a dish at 68. She was a heartbreaker for sure when she was young, but there’s still something about her; truly a timeless beauty.

    • Al says:

      The most important point was what Dianne Abbot, the back bench labor MP said That most of the MPs from tories do not see why exactly the UK should be so involved and what is the point of threats if you are unable to follow up on them? (see video at 10:56). This is a very important point. For all the screaming herodian behavior from the PM and poodles, there seems to be significant unhappiness in his own party about all this belligerence. This is simply not reflected, i.e. ignored by the British mass media who don’t seem interested in doing their job properly.

      At the end Portillo also made a telling point that when he was SecDef the policy was deliberately to keep away from the UK and not to P-off the Russians and why now has this caution been thrown to the wind? (see video at 12:06)

  91. yalensis says:

    In figure skating news, American figure skater Johnny Weir has broken up with his same-sex husband , who is a Russian laywer named Viktor Voronov. The couple was together for 2 years. Johnny announced the sad news on his Facebook page, he says he is sad, but he wishes Viktor well, and he doesn’t regret their love. ‘Tis better to have loved and lost, then never to have loved.

    It doesn’t say which state of the union they were married in, or they are getting an official divorce. Also doesn’t say if there are going to be alimony or property issues. I don’t know how much money Weir earned from his figure skating, maybe he was rich, maybe not. Or maybe Viktor is the one with the money, who knows?
    I have been warning gay couples for years that they need to make sure there is the possibility of legal divorce available before they rush into something like formal marriage, which is quite a commitment and involves property contracts. Never enter into something, unless you have an exit strategy, that would be my advice. Also, you must be sure to have a prenuptial contract, and that goes for any marriage, gay or straight.

  92. marknesop says:

    Uh oh. The USA went there. Despite the fact that the source for Putin’s supposed under-the-radar ownership in Gunvor was fat lying shitbag Stas Belkovsky and that The Economist – acting on his information – had to back down and publish an embarrassing retraction after Timoshenko threatened to sue their asses off, the U.S. is pretending to have inside information that Putin has significant ownership in Gunvor, and went after Timoshenko on this information. That’s a big plus for Putin; now they have pissed off Timoshenko and his Gunvor billions. He just sold his share to his partner, too, who now owns something like 87%.

    • reggietcs says:

      Incredible. This shows just how clueless the US is when it comes to Putin and Russian.

      Sanctioning a major world power and its leader over unsubstantiated gossip????

      It’s really quite unbelievable.

      • marknesop says:

        It’s like I said before – the USA is like a kid with a new toy, and thinks it has discovered a new path to regime change – lean on the rich, whether they had anything to do with the current situation or not. When they see the possibility of their lovely money flying away, they will murmur to their minions, and presto! the leader will step down or flee for his life. It worked with Yanukovych, but Yanukovych is not Putin and clearly showed he had no idea how to cope with a crisis. But the USA thinks it has discovered a brilliant new template and will want to apply it again without modifications, to see if it will work. That is an extremely dangerous game, because Ukraine was economically on the ropes and broke, and could not hurt anyone. Russia is the world’s fifth-largest economy.

        • cartman says:

          That was Brzezinski’s plan, as an old, tunnel-visioned Pole. “We have their (the oligarchs’) money” to paraphrase. Ukrainians are blinded to the fact that they are being robbed by the West with lots of propaganda about their potential to live like the French if they “joined” the West.

          Brzezinski was an adviser (architect) to Clinton just like he is to Obama. He’s not ready to go back to Hell.

    • yalensis says:

      Mark: you’ve got Yulia Tymoshenko on the brain!
      The Gunvor guy is actually Gennady TIMCHENKO.

      • marknesop says:

        Yeah, that’s who I meant. I always mess his name up, because I think their names are the same except his is spelt with an “i” where hers is spelt with a “y”.

  93. reggietcs says:

    “ahem” and on a lighter note: It seems the new prosecutor-general of Crimea, Natalia Poklonskaya, is creating quite a sensation on Facebook and even has had fan-art and even sonnets dedicated to her likeness:

    http://sohryu-l.livejournal.com/314911.html

    She’s reportedly 34 but looks at least ten years younger…………

  94. reggietcs says:

    BTW,

    I’ve decided to make my trip to Russia as originally intended. Screw the political atmosphere.

    I will be in Moscow from May 3rd thru the 11th.

    I will be staying at The National Hotel not far from Red Square.

    I’m taking Aeroflot there and back from Los Angeles to Moscow – a straight 12.5 hour flight each way. The exchange rate is good now, so May was the time to go. Delaying the trip to August would’ve cost an extra $1,200 USD – no kidding – so May it is.

    • marknesop says:

      Just don’t forget about the credit-card thing: Visa and Mastercard don’t work. Check with your hotel over what arrangements can be made and do the research before you go, so you don’t get stuck with no access to your cash. I’m pretty sure they said you could still withdraw cash at the bank with your card, you just couldn’t make purchases with it, but be sure you are satisfied you know the score before you leave. My wife and daughter and mother-in-law will be in Russia in May as well, some of that time in Moscow. They’re only staying for something like 10 days, though, and arriving there the 9th so they will probably just miss you.

      Bravo for your initiative and confidence. I think you’ll have a great time!

      • reggietcs says:

        Mark,

        I thought this only applied to Visa/MasterCard issued by certain Russian banks to a select group of individuals?

        I could be wrong.

        • cartman says:

          Only certain banks, but it should go without saying that Russia should bring back its original plan to ban them. Might as well admit that all credit card companies work for governments.

        • marknesop says:

          No, I think you’re right. Just be sure you know before you leave; your bank should be able to give you the latest info, or perhaps Moscow Exile can find out for you. The whole credit-card thing might have blown over by then, although I agree the U.S. government has violated at least an implied agreement not to use them as a weapon, and Russia should dump them altogether.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            My kids are still downloading apps on their iPads using my Visa/MasterCard issued by VTB/ВТБ bank.

            • yalensis says:

              I don’t think the Visa/MasterCard ban has kicked in yet, in Russia.
              I saw yesterday that Putin said he and other government officials are transferring their own paycheck direct deposits into Rossiya bank. Then Rossiya Bank might start issuing its own credit/debit cards. Also, a Chinese bank is expressing interest in scopping up the credit card services in Russia.
              American banks will take a hit, because the finance fees and interest charges they get from credit card holders is an important part of their bottom line.

              Maybe this is just as well. Before all this happened, I had read somewhere that Russian consumers were starting to get a tad too much in debt to their plastic cards, and that’s never a healthy thing for a macro economy. It’s not good to buy things that you can’t afford. Maybe every now and then, just as an exception, if something is really important, but not just using the plastic instead of cash as an everyday occurrence.

              • Jen says:

                My folks often wish that stores should still use lay-by for people who want or need to buy things their weekly or fortnightly pay can’t cover. You just pay for an item in installments throughout the month or year before you actually take possession of it. There would be no need to pay any interest and you might only pay a small charge on top to cover the stores’ costs of administering lay-by. In this day of online payment, lay-by should be easier to reintroduce as an alternative to the use of credit: the person could direct the payroll officer at work to skim off an agreed percentage of his/her salary to pay off purchases of a car or a fridge to the store’s lay-by account. Among other things, this practice encouraged thrift, instilled financial discipline and delayed immediate gratification.

                • marknesop says:

                  Yes, we called it “lay-away”, but it was essentially the same thing; some also called it “hire purchase”, although that involved getting the item up front if I understood it correctly, but it still involved the customer negotiation directly with the manufacturer rather than financing the purchase through the bank.

              • marknesop says:

                Many, perhaps most credit cards offer a “cash back” benefit to get you to use your credit card for everything; every month they give you back 2% of what you spent, or something like that. Or you accumulate points which you can exchange for valuable gifts – I just read in the paper today that a couple had been caught running a scam in which they were counterfeiting cards (mostly Royal Bank of Canada, because RBC does not require a PIN number for redeeming points) in order to steal customers’ points for redemption, and not even all of them because customers would be more likely to notice if their points balance was zero, and what they had stolen ran into hundreds of thousands of dollars. So you can make a pretty good score off that scam without ever touching the customer’s bank balance, which is a plus because if they do not notice the disappearing points they will not cancel the card and will go on earning more for you. Anyway, the bank encourages you with incentives to use your credit card for everyday purchases, and that’s OK as long as you pay it off in full every month. But few have that kind of discipline, and slowly but surely a balance begins to accumulate.

                But you’re right that it would give American banks a kick in the teeth if Russia dumped Visa and Mastercard altogether. However, they are popular in Russia for the same reason they are popular everywhere – they are accepted worldwide. And therein lies their most likely fallback position; if Russia dumped Visa and Mastercard, American banks would instigate a campaign against acceptance among its allies of whatever card replaced them. If a card could not get wide acceptance it would be a non-starter.

  95. marknesop says:

    Hey, remember the photo Al linked some time ago, of Putin riding the galloping bear and carrying the Russian flag? Do you remember the caption?

    Oh, it’s on, bitches.

    As the article correctly points out, the Chinese will now be in a position to drive a hard bargain, and although they are interested in striking a gas deal, they don’t want to pay European rates. But the prospect of smashing the hold the USA has over the UNSC might be worth it, and volume might make up for a slightly lower price. Whatever the case, I’m betting Putin comes back in May with a deal, and if he does, Europe’s position will get mighty precarious overnight. They may yet come to bitterly rue the price they will have to pay for Ukraine.

    • cartman says:

      What are the differences in rates between China and the rest of Europe? I heard that Japan is paying much higher prices than Europe.

      • marknesop says:

        Yes, I read that as well, and Russia is also courting Japan with a view to taking the teat away from Europe. Unknown what the Chinese are willing to pay, as they’re still in negotiations, only that the Chinese do not want to pay as much as Europe. But it would have to be better than Ukraine, which agrees to a price and then doesn’t pay anything.

  96. Moscow Exile says:

    Just been looking at RT and saw this item:

    Russia’s UN envoy Churkin replies to CNN anchor Amanpour

    I’m not well informed about this woman Amanpour apart from the fact that she hosts a CNN news show and is of British/Iranian descent. I take it that she’s rather an unpleasant person.

    I never watch CNN or FOX News. Anyone willing to enlighten me?

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Found this story on Amanpour, which has wised me up somewhat as regards the linked above story:

      CNN’s Amanpour, State Dept. and good old double standards

      • yalensis says:

        As just another example of journalistic double standards: Zbig Brzezinski’s daughter Mika is a news anchor on MSNBC station in America. She frequently interviews her own father on the air.
        Both father and daughter are frothing Russophobes, Mika doesn’t pretend to objectivity and doesn’t even bother to hide her disdain for Russia.

    • marknesop says:

      I used to like her when she started out, back when I had CNN running in the background all my waking hours and before I pretty much stopped watching TV altogether. But that was also back when I still pretty much believed in America The Good, which I did up until the Bush The Younger presidency. Iraq tore it for me; any fool could see Iraq was invaded because the American political establishment wanted to hit it, not because there was any compelling reason to do it. Back then, she was more junior in the organization and pretty much stuck to telling the audience what she believed was happening based on what she could see and what witnesses were telling her in trouble spots to which she was sent because she speaks Arabic. As she became more senior in the outfit, her personal political philosophy began to assert itself, and I believe CNN is grooming her for even higher office in the organization, because she swings the right way politically, which is to say she is a shill for government policies – except perhaps for women’s issues, on which I believe she speaks her own mind.

      And wow. What a spanking he gave her. Churkin is a diplomat, not a politician, and he can talk the talk.

    • yalensis says:

      Ai yai yai!
      Churkin really zinged Amanpour!

      3 major zings:
      (1) “I used to respect you profesionally…”
      (2) “You attacked my daughter, a younger colleague of yours…” [ouch!]

      (and best zing of all):
      (3) “Incidentally, I recall you married the State Department Spokesman. How was your professional credibility in the course of your courtship?”

    • kirill says:

      Christianne “Amount Poor” is a propaganda maggot. I learned to loathe her during the 1999 bombing campaign against Serbia. She was and and still is a brazen agitprop agent. Back then she was pretending to be a regular reporter and not the host of a yap show, but nothing she did was journalism. It was all theater of hate.

      CNN (not her specifically) managed to compare Kosovo Albanians leaving the war zone into FYROM on passenger trains to Jews being shipped in cattle cars to death camps. That was not just jumping the shark, it was leaving planetary orbit. Her coverage from the borders of Serbia was along this line of insane hyperbole.

  97. marknesop says:

    A bit of a flaky site sometimes, but it’s hard to argue with the author’s substantiation as he puts a spike through the heart of the meme that 123% voted in Sevastopol. As he says, it probably won’t matter because the talking point is out there and being hyped and guffawed about, but facts are facts, right?

    • kirill says:

      Nice find. But most people are afraid of numbers. I blame the media since I routinely see articles discussing subjects requiring extensive quotation of figures where there are almost none. The media dumbs down the population much like using an oxygen mask leads to weakening of the lungs. Life is about effort and that includes thinking and learning. It is not about having everything delivered on a platter in a fun or easily digestible package.

  98. Moscow Exile says:

    The same old same-old off the British Conservatives:

    Charles Walker, a senior official in the Tory backbench 1922 committee, said: ‘Russia is not the power that it once was. It is riddled with corruption, and with a population of only 143 million, it has a failing demographic. Male life expectancy there is barely 60. Russia is not the great bear that it pretends to be’.

    See: Crimea crisis: David Cameron dares to poke the Russian bear

    Walker should check up his data:

    male life expectancy in Russia is 64 years of age;

    Britain has a drinking problem, and it needs help

    Corruption across EU ‘breathtaking’ – EU Commission

    The UK’s population problem:

    UK population growth is environmentally unsustainable, from a national and
    international point of view, and if it is environmentally unsustainable it is also
    economically unsustainable, for without ecologically healthy land our economy
    will not be able to support its own people without causing damage to the
    environment of other nations.

    • Kulobi says:

      Hear, hear! It’s astonishing how resilient the ‘Russia-is-dying’ trope is. Demoscope published a comprehensive report on 2013 recently which sets male life expectancy in Russia even higher at 65.2 years. Infant mortality is down, cardiovascular diseases are down, even accident-related deaths are down http://demoscope.ru/weekly/2014/0589/barom02.php Has anybody told Ed Lucas? Isn’t he the chief purveyor of grim truths about moribund Russia to British public, MPs including?

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I died about 5 years ago – according to Russian statistics bandied about in the West – but then: I’m not Russian.

        However, if I had continued living and working at my old job in my old town in England – according to statistics and from my own experience (my father died when he was 52, my grandfather when he was 60) – I very well might have died over 10 years ago: I didn’t work with many men who were over 55 years of age, and many of those who were over 55 were coughing and wheezing like a pair of old bellows, as was my grandfather when he was dying, not to mention smoking and drinking heavily (although neither my father and grandfather were boozers or heavy smokers).

        Bear in mind, that’s an England (and parts of Scotland and Wales as well) about which Walker and many of his party colleagues are blissfully unaware of, I’m sure.

      • kirill says:

        The life expectancy for males is the highest it has been since 1961 and for females this increase over the post WWII Soviet era is even more pronounced. I don’t recall life expectancy being a major talking point during the Cold War. But back then the statistics for the west were comparable.

        Who needs facts when lies will suffice? The western media is now a total propaganda joke. There is no actual journalism, just politically motivated advocacy. For example, most Americans believe that there is no scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming. This is due to the fact that the media reports equally on the opinions of scientists and various “skeptics” (shills like Fred Singer who also whored for the tobacco industry to deny the lung cancer link). A proper journalist would have identified the fact that 98% of the reputable sources are clear about the origin of global warming (in fact the other 2% is not actually an opposed view but one which appeals to uncertainty) and reported based on this. It may be excluding minority/shill opinion, but I don’t see much “balance” applied to coverage of assorted other topics including Russia.

  99. Jen says:

    The Krazy Kyiv Kleptokrats have only been in power for a month and already they’re planning to turn children’s holiday camps into training centres for the Ukrainian National Guard.

    http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_03_22/Kiev-authorities-giving-school-camps-to-neo-Nazis-for-military-training-5367/

    If true, that’s going to mean a lot of Russian (and Ukrainian) families stampeding over the border into Russia or more Russian-speaking communities appealing to Moscow for annexation.

    • yalensis says:

      Ukrainian schoolchildren are already being groomed for neo-nazism in the classroom. So, sending them to neo-nazi summer camp is just the next logical step.
      Here are Kiev schoolchildren being taught to chant: “Hang the Russian!”
      They use the word “Moskayalka”, something like “Muscovite”.

      As people have noted, the Svoboda/Banderite type neo-nazis in Ukraine don’t make any pretense of (unlike, say, the Europeans): “Oh, we love the Russian people, we just dislike their government.” No, not at all. The Banderites are refreshingly open about wanting to KILL all ethnic Russians per se, regardless of their political views or any other feature they might possess:

    • Al says:

      I seem to recall tat General Tie Eater Extrodinaire, Sukaashvli did something similar, using summer camps to train young people how to handle weapons.

    • marknesop says:

      But this will be interpreted by the west as “shrill hysteria” in the Russian media which is “feeding misunderstanding and trying to demonize” Ukraine because Russia is “jealous of its freedoms”.

  100. Moscow Exile says:

    From the Grauniad: European Union prepares for trade war with Russia over Crimea

    A sham and illegal referendum has taken place at the barrel of a Kalashnikov. Russia has sought to annex Crimea, a flagrant breach of international law and something we will never recognise” – David Cameron.

    We are being reassured that the British government wants to maintain normal diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation. If that is the wish of our British partners, then this relationship has got to be normal and diplomatic including at the level of rhetoric. Good relations ought to be valued. The British side should mind its language. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with the British Embassy in Moscow. It seems that the harsh rhetoric, quite beyond the pale, is meant to cover up the gross inaptitude of the Brussels bureaucracy and its zero-sum motive to engineer a cold war-type geopolitical grab on Russia’s borders” – Russian Foreign Ministry.

    “Cameron pointed out that while the EU depended on Russia for a quarter of its gas supplies, the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom relied on Europe for half of its exports. ‘Russia needs Europe more than Europe needs Russia‘, he said.”

    Spot the the possible flaw in Just-Call-Me-Dave’s argument.

    Clue: Petrodollar Alert: Putin Prepares To Announce “Holy Grail” Gas Deal With China

    In other words: As regards Dave’s assertion that Gazprom relies on Europe for half of its exports, Europe might soon have to get ready to kiss Gazprom’s arse goodbye and frack off!

  101. Moscow Exile says:

    What a foul lump of festering lard!

    Novodvorskaya, “oppositionist” and traitor in the extreme, addresses the Right Sector and other Maidanist extremists.

    MK article: Новодворская призвала Правый сектор спровоцировать войну с Россией

    [Novodvorskaya calls upon Right Sector to provoke a war with Russia]

    Part Translation

    Calling herself a human rights activist, Novodvorskaya has recorded a video message addressed at Right Sector activists, encouraging them to exert influence on the new Ukrainian government to confront Russia.

    Dear Maidanites, Heroes of Ukraine, dear Right Sector, Pan [“mister” in Polish – ME] Dmitry Jaros! – So begins Novodvorskaya ‘s address. On her face there wanders a victorious smile and signs of madness.

    In the Ukraine you have successfully fulfilled a democratic revolution that is of immense value. If the Maidan had been unarmed, if it had not been for those stones and burning tyres and “Molotov Cocktails”; if you had been without weapons, unprotected and just standing there, I’m sure that “Berkut” would have smashed you all and this revolution would have ended! You have taken a considerable number of weapons from military depots. You must take them up against your government: do not allow them to accept the occupation; do not to let him give away the Crimea; do not stay in the CIS and maintain diplomatic relations with Russia; do not pay the price of national humiliation for a couple of weeks in order to win, because if you do this you will no longer win! – declares Novodvorskaya.

    She then shows a surprising “awareness” about the future plans of the Kremlin.

    Putin is set to hold a referendum throughout Eastern Ukraine. I assure you that they will be as illegitimate as they are in the Crimea, and that by means of bandits in camouflage to help Russian troops in the Crimea, they are giving the green light to everything. Everything now depends on your fearlessness! – Novodvorskaya lectures the Maidanites.

    She confesses that she would certainly have long ago enrolled in the Ukrainian militia if “I could still bear arms and walk”.

    At this point there is clearly no doubt at all that if Novodvorskaya had the physical ability to pick up trees or heavy rocks, she would love to break the heads of those who resisted these wanton Ukrainian bandits. In any case, she adds that by even saying such words she is putting herself at risk and may suffer for what she has said. But are such small details really of any value now…?

    Putin and the Russian generals, who have long had a line drawn on their maps showing the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine cut off from the rest, have to see that there are those who will resist. They do not believe that the Ukrainian government would dare to do so, for if the Ukrainian government dared to resist, then NATO would have grounds to intervene! – is the main conclusion that this “peace activist” arrives at.

    That is to say, Novodvorskaya believes it clearly inadequate that Right Sector activists burst into the offices of Ukrainian officials and prosecutors almost every day, demanding that they take the necessary decisions. Apparently, at the end of the day what she wants is activists to break into Premier Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s office and spread his ugly mug all over his desk so that he can …well, make himself more determined and, in so doing, start the bloodshed again. And Novodvorskaya is sure that Russia would not tolerate that. But then … look! NATO has come to help us!

    So to sum up: Glory to the Ukraine! Glory to the Heroes! Unfortunately, defending your independence won’t come cheap – and having slowly breathed out, Novodvorskaya reaches for a glass of water.

    End of Translation

    Why is such a piece of traitorous shit tolerated in Russia?

    In most other countries she would be arrested or at the very least receive public censure.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      From the fantasy world of Timoshenko, propagandized by the Western Mass Media (here, by Huff Post), aided and abetted by that fat toad Novodvorskaya:

      Crimea will always be Ukrainian, despite all the attempts of Russian occupants. This is our land and we won’t give it away to anyone!

      [Point of information for Timoshenko: the Crimea was "Ukrainian" from 1954 until 2014. The legality of its becoming "Ukrainian" 60 years ago is moot.]

      Last Saturday Valeriya Novodvorskaya said democratic Russia is waiting for the Ukrainian army to liberate it. This is obviously a metaphor, but it does contain a grain of reality.

      We won’t be visiting anyone with tanks and machine guns, but we have a different army. It is an army that cannot be stopped by borders, trenches, anti-tank fortifications or minefields. It is our Ukrainian army of freedom, democracy, human dignity and spirit. And it is already on the march. Ukraine is fulfilling its mission, which includes the liberation of Russia.

      • Southerncross says:

        What was it Yushchenko said about Saint Yulia of the braids?

        “Giving her power twice was my worst mistake” and “Every political force that united with Tymoshenko ended badly”. When she got out of prison the gentlemen from Pravy Sektor suggested that she should take five years off from politics – they might as well have added “We are asking politely. We only do this once”.

        One hopes to God that the rumours she intends to re-align herself to Russia are untrue.

        • marknesop says:

          “One hopes to God that the rumours she intends to re-align herself to Russia are untrue.”

          I suspect that seed was planted in order to torpedo her campaign in advance, but it was surprising to see it apparently come from Yats. Nonetheless, although it may account for Tymoshenko’s coming out strongly with her Ukrainians-will-liberate-Russia campaign, I maintain that she knows very well she can still win in Ukraine even if most of her electorate is unexcited about her as a candidate, so long as she secures the backing of western leaders. That may be why she’s coming out anti-Moskali.

          • Southerncross says:

            Seems there’s been open friction between Timoshenko and Yatsenyuk at least since mid-February: Roman Zabzalyuk thinks Yats doesn’t properly interpret Yulia’s instructions.

            These people are unbelievable – betrayal is as natural to them as breathing. Perhaps that’s what comes of venerating people like Mazepa and Vyhovsky as heroes. Sure, the rumours are probably misinformation, but who can be sure? Politically speaking Timoshenko has proven that she can not only turn on a dime, but go back and pick it up.

            But this isn’t 1999. Will American and European backing be enough this time? There are new players in the game, inclined perhaps to make their own miracles. Timoshenko may be out of her depth this time. She really should reflect on the fate of Benazir Bhutto.

      • marknesop says:

        Oh, dear God. Freedom is on the march. Well, I guess the Bush administration is probably finished trying to squeeze more juice out of that chestnut anyway.

        It’s curious that Crimea only became the holy grail to the Ukrainian Army Of Freedom since it appealed to Russia for inclusion, and if it had been the cosseted pet of the Ukrainian Army Of Freedom all along I doubt very much it would have been such a willing co-conspirator. That demonstrably was not the case, nor would the adoration of Crimea last more than a week if Ukraine was able to get it back. Yulia is just grandstanding for the inevitable western backing of her political campaign for the leadership, because it does not matter to her that many of her own electorate does not want her – she is more aware than most that if the west backs you as leader, miracles are suspiciously commonplace. That bit about the liberation of Russia is just bait for the west in an expression of her loyalty and willingness to sacrifice Ukrainians in a long, grinding proxy war with Russia. I heartily approve of her campaign, because so long as Ukraine is willing to fight for Crimea – which it will never get back – there is no danger of NATO membership for Ukraine. A clever Ukrainian leader would moan about Crimea being stolen from them, play the grieving victim and then grudgingly recognize it as the stolen property of the Russian Federation. No more border dispute, an open pathway to NATO membership (I imagine the west would disregard any agreement in which it promised Ukraine would never be in NATO, on the grounds that can never be held to any bargain you make with uncivilized heathen), and if NATO were able to subdue Russia and wrest Crimea away from it, Ukraine would probably get it back anyway at no personal cost to itself. Mouth it up some more, Yooooolia.

    • I think people like her actually improve Putin’s popularity. If she is considered as a part of the opposition who would want to vote for them?

    • marknesop says:

      On the contrary, I think the Ukrainian militia (I assume she means the Ukrainian National Guard, AKA the Brownshirts, supplemented by YaroshJugend) should name a brigade after her, the Novodvorskaya Brigade, grant her the honorary rank of Colonel, have a uniform and jackboots specially tailored for her baggy ass and throw together a sedan chair to be carried by four of the most deserving as she accompanies her troops on the march. As I’ve mentioned before, Putin is not Yanukovych, and agitators with weapons would only get to come up against Russian riot police once. The west could paint it as a bloody and one-sided confrontation as much as it liked, because it would be. Putin would not let one of Russia’s major cities be taken by storm by a bunch of armed thugs in skateboard and hockey gear. And hopefully one of the first casualties would be a fat and wrinkled one in a custom-made uniform.

      I think the Russian government allows such nutball dissenters to speak their minds because it is like money in the bank two ways – one, as you suggest, the west would have the security services watching her if she so much as crossed her legs, and two, because the support for the Ukrainian Brownshirts by so obviously crazy a basketweaver-in-waiting as Novodvorskaya is a huge embarrassment for the Kiev kangaroo government. How would it look if Canada’s craziest dissident – I can’t even think who that would be – went public with a campaign to have the KKK come over here and overthrow the Canadian government? Who would that embarrass? Not the Canadian government. Nuts like Novodvorskaya are pearls beyond price.

      • KenM says:

        Isn’t Novodvorskaya one of the Atlantis conspiracy nuts? (ie’ believes in the great ‘pure’ civilisation of Atantis taken down by evil forces, or something like that…)

        • marknesop says:

          I hadn’t heard that, I don’t really know very much about her except for her crazy offbeat attention-getting device of regularly siding with Russia’s enemies. And that’s good because she’s so crazy she makes the cause of the enemy seem crazy by association.

  102. yalensis says:

    Correction to a comment I made above:
    Apparently the banking sanctions against Russia DID go into effect 2 days ago (Thursday).
    Seven Russian banks have already started experiencing difficulties servicing credit cards of Visa/Mastercard type. These include the following banks:
    Rossiya, SMP, InvestKapitalBank, SobinBank, and Finservis.

    People who find their cards not working any more to make purchases can still use them to get cash out of ATM’s, or at other bank branches.

    Russian officials said they will pursue material sanctions against Visa/Mastercard, in order to get even with them.

    P.S. as to Reggie’s situation: I am reading from this, that if his Visa card is based on an American bank, for example, Bank of America, or something like that, then he will not be affected by these sanctions. But he should still check in advance, before travelling to Moscow. I would advise him to take lots of cash and travellers checks, just in case.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      And plenty of beads and trinkets for the natives.
      :-)

    • marknesop says:

      Well, carrying lots of cash is never a good idea – advertising that you are is an even worse idea. Just so long as he satisfies himself with his bank that he will be able to access his accounts, he should be fine, although traveler’s checks are usually OK.

  103. yalensis says:

    Yats is bragging about the shiny new money that EU has promised him.

    Yats says EU says they will give Ukraine 1.6 billion Euros before the end of May.
    [gift or loan??]

    Yats also bragged that the deal he just signed with EU will immediately open up the entire European market to Ukrainian goods. Ukraine is now in a “free-trade” zone with Europe. All tarrifs have been removed. Ukrainian agricultural and manufactured products will flow freely into Europe.

    Yats says this will bring in at least 500 million Euros into Ukrainian economy.
    [monthly? annually?]

    • kirill says:

      Feeding the lemmings koolaid. I thought Ukrainians had more collective IQ than to listen to such BS. Ukraine cannot get to the benefits without first going through a lot of pain. I bet Yats can’t even list off the products that Ukraine has to offer for export that will benefit from this “deal”.

      The 1.6 billon euro in over two months is not going to be enough to keep the regime afloat. I see that the west is still expecting Russia to provide welfare to keep Ukraine going like it has been doing since the 1990s. Here is where Russia needs to be clear and decisive and give the middle finger.

    • Hunter says:

      I thought after Yanukovych was run out of town the new authorities said Ukraine would need US$35 billion over the next two years to avoid default?

      Even 500 million euros coming into the economy per month would be about US$8.4 billion a year. So US$16.8 billion per year (assuming that Ukraine’s exporting industries aren’t hurt by any IMF program and competition from EU companies once Ukraine signs the DCFTA and enters into full free trade instead of the current one-way free trade of Ukrainian goods into the EU) plus the US$2.2 billion from the EU before the end of May is still only US$19 billion.

      In early March the EU pledged to provide US$15 billion in aid: http://news.yahoo.com/eu-ukraine-aid-worth-15-billion-113426372–finance.html

      Of this there would be “1.6 billion euros in loans (that must be the 1.6 billion before the end of May); 1.4 billion euros in grants; up to 8 billion euros fresh credit from the EU’s financial institutions, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. In addition, another 3.5 billion euros could “potentially” come from the bloc’s assistance to neighboring countries through 2020, the European Commission said”

      “The United States announced a $1 billion aid package in energy subsidies Tuesday”

      When you add up the US aid package, the EU aid package and the estimation of billions flowing into the Ukrainian economy you can get around US$32.8 billion. But of that US$32.8 billion you have $4.9 billion “potentially” coming from EU money earmarked for assistance to neighbouring countries and $16.8 billion estimated to come from trade.

      So that’s really a certain US$11.1 billion and a potential US$21.7 billion in addition to any IMF money.

      • marknesop says:

        I frankly do not see how anything like that is going to happen, because to see a profit, to actually be able to put money back into the Ukrainian usurper government’s pocket, the EU would have to give up its trade surplus with Ukraine. I honestly don’t think it could afford to do that on a steady basis.

        Let’s look at the numbers. If we look at “Key Figures”, top of page 2, we see that the EU ran a trade surplus with Ukraine in 2012 of € 9.2 Billion, exporting to Ukraine more than a third greater the value in goods than it bought from it. Unfortunately, trade statistics often lag by about a year and a half, so I don’t know if we can see how the trend is going in 2014, but in the second quarter of 2013 the EU sold Ukraine €5.81 Billion worth of goods, and bought only €3.26 Billion from it, a deficit – for Ukraine – of €2.55 Billion.

        Now, if we could move to the graph of trade flows between the EU and Ukraine at the top of page 3, bearing in mind that in this document “exports” means what the EU sells to Ukraine and not the other way round, we see that the EU ran a trade surplus with Ukraine every year between 2003 and 2012; the smallest in 2004 and the largest in 2008, but the general trend getting larger and larger.

        If you pull up the stats for trade between Ukraine and Russia, you will see the trade balance ran the other way; Ukraine regularly sold a little more to Russian than it bought from Russia, so Ukraine pocketed a small trade surplus. But if Ukraine loses its Russian markets, there is no possible way in God’s green earth that even a Billion Euros a month is going to make the balance sheet go positive so long as the EU is still selling Ukraine more than it buys from it, while the compensatory factor of the trade surplus with Russia is gone.

        I’m beginning to wonder what kind of odd specialty Yats is eventually going to announce, because so far as Prime Minister he sucks like a black hole at adding, military strategy and balance-of-forces appraisal, geography and history. Did he get to where he is on an expertise in stamp collecting, or his ability to recite the Los Angeles Rams cheerleaders lineup between 1946 and 1979 from memory, something like that?

        • Hunter says:

          Well Ukraine doesn’t need to see a profit for it to happen. It only needs for it to see a reduction in the trade deficit with the EU as that would mean more money was coming into Ukraine from the EU than was leaving Ukraine for the EU as compared to the year before.

          Interestingly the link does show a trade surplus with Russia for 2012, but other links have detailed trade deficits with Russia (for Ukraine) from at least 2007 to 2011, so I don’t know whether or not Ukraine is actually set to maintain a trade surplus with Russia whether or not it joins on to the DCFTA or not.

          Concerning trade surpluses and deficits though these two links provide some interesting context:

          1. http://wiiw.ac.at/the-ukrainian-economy-between-russia-and-the-enlarged-eu-consequences-for-trade-and-investment-p-15.html – this is from 2006, but an interesting quote from the page:

          Ukraine’s foreign trade developments over the past few years have been generally characterized by a re-orientation of trade flows towards the non-CIS markets. This has been particularly the case with exports, while the re-orientation of imports has been kept within limits by the country’s high dependence on imports of energy from Russia. The latter also explains Ukraine’s persistently high trade deficit with Russia (although the trade deficit with the EU has been rising as well). Our findings suggest that in trade with the ‘old’ EU and the new member states (NMS), Ukraine is specializing in a relatively narrow range of not very sophisticated products: notably metals, chemicals, and mineral fuels. However, in its trade with Russia (and to some extent with the Baltic states), Ukraine has strong positions in a number of more sophisticated items such as transport vehicles and machinery and equipment. In accordance with the above findings, the extent of intra-industry trade is low in Ukraine’s trade with the EU-15 and most NMS, but it is more pronounced in trade with Russia and some less advanced NMS, in particular Poland.

          2. http://www.ukrexport.gov.ua/eng/economy/trade/ukr/4943.html – this provides info on Ukrainian trade stats between 2009 and 2012 from the Ukrainian government. What is interesting for this site is that it gives trade info for Ukraines regions (oblasts, cities and autonomous republic). The info excludes imports of natural gas and crude oil (which from calculations would appear to account for a US$15.4 billion discrepancy between Ukraine’s total trade deficit and that of the sum of the trade balance for the regions), but having done an analysis (more on that later) it seems that Ukraine’s eastern oblasts generally have a collective trade surplus (of US$15.0 billion) even IF you were to accord to them most of the imports of natural gas and oil (which is not likely since oil and natural gas is used throughout Ukraine). Overall, it would seem that collectively the regions that voted in the majority for the Party of Regions in 2004-2010 would have accounted for a US$8 billion surplus and those that voted in the majority against the Party of Regions during that time would have accounted for a US$24 billion deficit.

          No wonder the idea is easily spread that western Ukrainians are living off the more productive eastern Ukrainians.

          • marknesop says:

            Good info! Yes, that’s true – whether you call it a profit or simply a reduction in the trade deficit, it amounts to the same thing – stopping the hemorrhaging of money out of the country, in favour of money coming into the country. However, I maintain that is easier said than done. The EU remains in a poor position to start trading heavily, at a loss to itself, with Ukraine. Ukraine has next to no reserves left, and is basically insolvent as it cannot even afford to pay wages. Russia’s $3 Billion must have been used up long since. The IMF appears reluctant to commit to heavy lending even if serious reforms are promised, and there’s a good reason for that – despite promises to prop up Ukraine, and sanctions against Russia which are meant to attack its economy, there remain no resemblances between the countries’ economies.

            http://qz.com/191885/looking-for-signs-of-life-in-ukraines-shell-shocked-financial-markets/#

            The ruble is off a bit, but Russia has the reserves to strengthen it and cushion the blow. The hryvnia is in free-fall. Analysts speculate Ukraine’s GDP will fall between 2% and 5% in 2014, and it was already one of the poorest countries in the region, while the risk of a complete financial meltdown remains significant.

            Given those conditions, I predict the EU will not be able to arrest the slide, and that it will have to swallow its pride and approach Russia for help.

    • Jen says:

      Yatseniuk obviously didn’t read that part of the European Union’s Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement where it says that Ukraine has to change over all its standards and regulations including the railway gauge over several years at a cost of several billion euros.

      Idiot :-) ‘cos I mentioned the railway gauge.

    • marknesop says:

      Yats is deluding himself. That’s fine, just so long as he does not attempt to delude all of his people at the same time. i’m sure the East knows it is not going to get any of that money. That will all go to placating Kiev.

  104. Al says:

    I have a question about the Prime Minister of Canada, Harper. Does he have any brothers called Chico, Groucho, Gummo & Zeppo?

    On a more serious note, he is banging his own sanctions drum but it could well cost Canada at least 3.5billion:

    Russia sanctions put Canadian aircraft sales in doubt

    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/russia-sanctions-put-canadian-aircraft-213200714.html

    Rostec wants to buy 100 Bombardier Q400s and set up a production line in Russia (the rival European ATR 72s are selling much, much better) and Bombardier is looking to sell its brand new C Series passenger jets. Not to mention that Russia has several very large transportation infrastructure projects (Moscow – Kazan high speed line).

    Hopefully both China and India will be telling the West behind closed doors to lay off.

    • kirill says:

      Harper is the worst Canadian Prime Minister ever. And I thought this way for the last 8 years and not just because of the Ukraine mess. This zealot has killed atmospheric science research in Canada by letting CFCAS run out of money and giving NSERC directives constricting research funding. In the USA they have a vastly better funding system and NSF is not prone to outright political interference from the leader of the country. I know that not all research work into climate is gone but it has been downsized dramatically. Harper is a neocon who thinks global warming is a leftist hoax.

      Harper also has introduced a whole slew of reforms in the government sector to muzzle scientists. No government scientist can speak to the media directly as they could before 2006. Any journalist who wants to interview a government researcher needs to put in a request which takes months to be responded to. This is a Kafkaesque trick to kill off access to researchers since no journalist will spend months trying to get pre-digested information on some science topic. They will go elsewhere. Recently, the PMO (in Canada we have a banana republic style of governance where the Prime Minister’s Office micromanages daily life) blocked a fisheries researcher from presenting her work on pollution at a conference. This may not sound like much, but basically any environmentally relevant research inside and outside of government is being squeezed to fit the petty agenda of Harper and his Reform Party goons (they just appropriated the Conservative Party label when they merged with the remains of the old party).

      There is also the proroguing of Parliament twice for petty political reasons. What is galling is that Harper is getting a free ride from the Canadian media. I remember how vicious this media was with Trudeau. It is now a lapdog goosestepping to Harper’s agenda. The current chorus on Crimea proves my point.

      • Ilya says:

        I couldn’t agree more. In my opinion, Harper is, frankly, a bag of shit. While I would generally consider myself conservative in outlook, I have never nor will I ever vote Conservative (yes, that makes it difficult being an Albertan).

        The crass muzzling and defunding of scientists; sending the ape-faced Oliver out pandering in order to get Keystone approved while mouthing Palin-esque climate change denial; Wallin-Brazeau-Duffy-calibre judgement; deliberately undercutting Canadians with risible policies for temporary foreign workers, and so on.

        No concern for the national interest, or even decency, whatsoever. With a leader like this, who needs enemies?

        • KenM says:

          This might be a good kick for domestic airlines to start finally buying Russian aircraft again in numbers if the government gets behind it.
          I was looking into the performance of Russian civil aircraft the other week, thinking that due to poor sales that many must be still inferior in some way – got a bit of a shock.
          The Tu-204 and the Il-96 actually stack up extremely well against the competition in costs & flying characteristics and have performed extremely well in service.
          It has simply been the unwillingness of local airlines to get behind them along with manufacturing delays early in their careers that have held them back.
          Now is a good time for some big orders of these to be backed by the government.

          • Al says:

            They’ve essentially been ‘sunsetted’ and will only be produced for special mission version. The Sukhoi Superjet is doing well (pilots say it flies like a fighter) but has a lot of western content, and the MC-21 (MS-21) mainliner which has much more Russian content is in development. The coolest of all, but not in development is the Frigate Ecojet (Фрегат Экоджет), which has an elliptical fuselage.

    • Al says:

      FYI

      BBC: Brazil launches price-fixing probe into 18 companies

      http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-26676382

      “Brazil has said it is investigating corruption and price-fixing allegations against 18 companies, including Siemens of Germany and Alstom of France.

      Brazil’s antitrust agency accused the firms of being part of a cartel to fix prices for the construction and upkeep of metro and train networks, including in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo….

      …Cade has also named companies from Spain, Canada, South Korea and the United States, among other countries….

      So let’s get this straight. 1) these are western companies fixing prices and gouging a developing country (India has busted AugustaWestland for paying bribes to win a VIP helicopter deal too), 2) it is not a case of a corrupt country demanding bribes…

      Yet, why are these corporations doing this? Because the big bucks are in countries either building modern infrastructure for the first time or upgrading ancient infrastructure and they all happen to be in the developing world or in Russia who have the moolah to pay for it. The money is not to be at home.

      I think in the UK London has this Cross-rail thing, i.e. a proper rail capacity boost for the capital. Bombardier has a factory up north somewhere and lost the contract to Hitachi which is a death blow to the factory. Then the government backtracked and offered a separate contract (or was it a split contract) for rolling stock to keep the factory going.

      And France, Canada, UK & Germany still want to threaten Russia with sanctions which would seriously f94k their major manufacturers who now depend much more so on exports? It’s just been announced that Hitachi is moving its global rail business from Japan to the UK. That is how desperate these companies are for the business.

      Now either these politicians are insane or they are bsing.

  105. Moscow Exile says:

    Yooooolia!!! Yoooooolia!!! Take a look at this!

    Фашисты из Правого сектора избивают людей на Крещатике

    [Right Sector Fascists Assault People on the Kreshchatyk]

    Fascists?

    Where?

    I see no fascists.

  106. According to this South Stream is now “dead”: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/10715577/Europe-scrambles-to-break-gas-dependence-on-Russia-offers-Ukraine-military-tie.html

    “The South Stream pipeline intended to link the EU to Russia through the Black Sea by 2018 is now “dead”, according to sources in Brussels, hitting contractors close to Mr Putin. EU staff are to come up with plans to shield Europe from energy blackmail by Russia within 90 days, finding ways to prevent frontline states being picked off one by one. Ukraine’s premier, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, said in Brussels that the West must stop Russia deploying energy as a “new nuclear weapon”.

    The radical shift in EU energy policy comes as Russia feels the chill of US sanctions imposed on Thursday. The share prices of companies linked to oligarchs on the US blacklist plummeted on the Moscow bourse. ”

    “German Chancellor Angela Merkel – emerging as Europe’s dominant figure in the crisis – said there had been an “unbelievable loss of trust in Russia” since the seizure of Crimea. She called for measures to ensure that gas flows can be reversed to supply the most exposed states in eastern Europe. “

    • This is what I have been thinking since the beginning. EU will not allow EU countries to buy gas from South Stream.
      In a way this makes sense if you try to pull Ukraine out of Russia’s influence. South Stream is TERRIBLE for Ukraine, because it will seriously weaken Ukraine’s position as a transit country and give Russia a much stronger position against Ukraine. Russia could demand any price from Ukraine without Ukraine being able to disrupt the gas flow to Europe. This is a big no no.
      Enabling Ukraine to blackmail Russia over gas supplies to Europe seems to be the preferred choice for EU bureaucrats, even if it means that the Russian gas is more costly for European customers.

    • Fern says:

      This seems to be a perfect example of what psychologists call ‘projection’. It is the West and not Russia that talks endlessly about the gas ‘weapon’. It is the West and not Russia that has sought to turn the buying and selling of a commodity into a geopolitical tool. Ukraine’s non-payment of Gazprom’s bills has bled Russia to the tune of billions and as long as gas destined for Europe has to transit through Ukraine, there’s very little Russia can do – the West knows this and clearly wants the situation to continue indefinitely. How else to explain the hostility to South Stream? Russia obviously needs to find another customer to replace those European countries that would have received supplies through South Stream – hard for the countries involved because most are not amongst Europe’s wealthiest and getting a replacement for Russian gas is likely to come with high costs.

      • kirill says:

        Russia should also dial back the exports of its fossil fuels. They are running out fast enough to matter. I think Russia should take a temporary haircut and cease its exports via Ukraine. Although this act could kill the South Stream project since it would force the EU to find alternative sources and cut its own consumption. But Russia needs to start doing the same thing: learning to live without the gas exports. So perhaps a gradual ramp down of exports by 6% per year would be best.

        • ” But Russia needs to start doing the same thing: learning to live without the gas exports. So perhaps a gradual ramp down of exports by 6% per year would be best.”

          I agree Russia should do this. Gas and oil are not indefinite and eventually they will run out. Currently Russia is basically wasting its natural resources by letting Ukraine to steal Russian gas without payment. That gas can never be gotten back, its forever gone.

          Dependency of gas and oil sales is an internal weakness for Russia that should be removed. It is better to start doing something now rather than continue wasting Russian resources like this. Russia will also run out of oil and gas some day. The faster Russia pumps oil and gas the sooner that day will become.

    • Al says:

      BS and wishful thinking, especially cherry picked by the Telegraph. Most of the states involved with Southstream have a 49% stake, not to mention loss of transit fees. It would be a spectacular own goal if Brussels tries this. More likely they will try and force Russia to build in a reverse flow tech into the pipeline or threaten to block it. Russia should call their bluff and keep building.

      • kirill says:

        Indeed. Russia should also give the EU parasites an ultimatum. No South Stream, no gas through Ukraine. These idiots need to be slapped upside the head. They are so high on their hate and delusions that they have lost touch with reality.

      • There are forces inside EU who want to stop South Stream.
        Germany wants to stop it. The Germans already got their Nord Stream and have no stake in South Stream.
        Finns and Swedes probably will also want to stop South Stream.
        Baltic countries and Poland certainly want to stop South Stream.
        UK has no stake in South Stream so they will probably also want to stop it.

        Who is there to back it? I suppose the Balkan countries, Austria and Italy who have stakes in South Stream. But I suppose they are much a weaker bloc inside of EU compared to the other block who wants to stop the project.

        • cartman says:

          All the more reason for Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Serbia, etc. to get away from that union, which is increasingly ruled by diktat from the North.

      • marknesop says:

        Or stop, and announce it will throw no more good money after bad and is putting the funds into a second Chinese pipeline. That would send a shiver of fear through Europe. Probably not a good idea as it would also frighten the co-investors in the pipeline that you have mentioned. But it does not need to be true, and if efforts quickly got underway to reopen negotiations on South Stream, Russia would know it was holding a pretty good hand.

        However, aside from the high prices they are willing to pay Europe is really not the great customer capitalists make it out to be, and is always talking about how it must free itself from the yoke of Russian gas as if that meant it would then be free to hate Russia unreservedly. Ha, ha – as if that were restricting it now!! If they didn’t need Russia as an energy supplier, what would Europe do then; attack? Dream on: after Russia had struck an alliance with China, the world’s second-largest power and economy? Whose energy security Europe was making noises about attacking? A nuclear power, to boot? Never happen. If Europe insists on cutting off its nose to spite its face, let it, say I.

    • marknesop says:

      “She called for measures to ensure that gas flows can be reversed to supply the most exposed states in eastern Europe.”

      Yes, that would be smart, wouldn’t it? A very costly and likely impossible effort to reverse what was designed purposefully to be one-way, for the short-term draining of stored gas. And what then, clever clogs? Russia will pump some more for you, through your pipelines designed to now operate in the opposite direction, transiting through Ukraine which owes a year in unpaid bills? And that results in an “incredible loss of trust in Russia”? I’m sensing this is a plan that relies on an incredible amount of stupidity.

      This more likely is an effort by Merkel’s enemies to push her into the front ranks of a destructive trade war which will result in hardship for Germans and her removal as a result from German politics.

      • cartman says:

        I was thinking – come negotiation time – that Russia should forcefully stipulate that gas can only be resold to Southern Europe by countries served by North Stream at a discount. There won’t be any howl from Hungary (which is already tired of German companies refusing to pay taxes) over this proposal. If it is too risky to allow Russia leverage over the energy supply, then it is too risky to allow Germany control of these countries’ energy supply AND their finances.

  107. Fern says:

    I came across this interesting article from Robert Preston, the BBC’s Business Editor. He’s recently been involved in a documentary on China’s economic situation in the course of which he interviewed Hank Paulson who told him the following story – which didn’t make it into the documentary. During the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac crisis, Paulson spent a fair amount of time reassuring China that its substantial investments in these institutions were safe to stop them dumping their holdings onto the market which would precipitate a much worse crash. He claims a Chinese official told him that China had been approached by Russia with a proposal that they should do exactly that:

    “Here I’m not going to name the senior person, but I was meeting with someone… This person told me that the Chinese had received a message from the Russians which was, ‘Hey let’s join together and sell Fannie and Freddie securities on the market.’ The Chinese weren’t going to do that but again, it just, it just drove home to me how vulnerable I felt until we had put Fannie and Freddie into conservatorship [the rescue plan for them, that was eventually put in place].”
    For me (the ‘me’ here is Robert Preston, not me, Fern) this is pretty jaw-dropping stuff – the Chinese told Hank Paulson that the Russians were suggesting a joint pact with China to drive down the price of the debt of Fannie and Freddie, and maximize the turmoil on Wall Street – presumably with a view to maximizing the cost of the rescue for Washington and further damaging its financial health.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-26609548

    Pity the Chinese didn’t go for it.

    If Russians had any doubts about the need to develop an economy which is, as far as is humanly possible, independent of the west, then the actions of the last few days must have swept them away. The credit card freeze is just pure viciousness because it so obviously targets ordinary people – if you’re on holiday or travelling abroad on business, your card not working is a really big deal. Just pure nastiness. And bearing in mind that the US appears to have assured Russia that it should go with Visa/Mastercard rather than develop its own systems because the western systems would never be used politically against Russia – well, just despicable really.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Wonder how many ties he’s chewed through already?

    • Fern says:

      The libertarian writer Daniel McAdams had a good piece the other day talking about the madness of NATO’s strategy in trying to incorporate countries like Georgia and Moldova into NATO. He calls them – and this is a memorable phrase – ‘chihuahua nations’. It’s a bit unfair on chihuahuas who are actually very lionhearted little dogs – genuinely feisty – and are not tie-eaters in self-inflicted crises.

      “Most significantly, McCain’s plan is to bring into NATO as many countries as possible as quickly as possible so that the possibility that the US will not go to war at the behest of Georgia or some other chihuahua nation in the region will be legally impossible. Every little corner of the former Soviet world who pokes Russia should have the instant backing of the entire US nuclear arsenal.”

      https://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/03/daniel-mcadams/mccains-11-point-plan-for-war%E2%80%A8/

      • marknesop says:

        Why is anyone talking seriously of “McCain’s plan” when he is a dotty old fool who was roundly defeated as a presidential candidate? Is there any quality about him to recommend him as an American sage? Hardly – his knowledge of geography is sad, he is constantly mixing up which country borders on what and which is the dominant ethnic group. His messing about with Twitter is just embarrassing as he tries to come across as hip and up-to-date with the latest technology – he probably dictates them and has an aide send them. The only thread he still has to pull is his time spent as a prisoner of war, and he pulled on that one so many times during his failed election campaign that it is just about frayed out. The only thing McCain has going for him – two things, actually – are his willingness to whore on talk shows every weekend, and his freedom to just drop everything and fly to the latest crisis spot so he can shout “The United States stands with you” to the radical group du jour.

    • marknesop says:

      Now, see, there’s a leader. Bidzina Ivanishvili, I mean. You don’t see Saakashvili being yanked back (figuratively speaking, I’m sure he will refuse to return to Georgia, and will instead fluff up his feathers and crow “politically-motivated charges”) to answer for his disgraceful campaign behaviour against Ivanishvili, trying to revoke his citizenship and jail him and a variety of more petty inconveniences to prevent him from winning the election. Instead, these are serious charges relating to his leadership of Georgia and his betrayal of its electorate. Not like that rabbit Obama, who strutted and pontificated about making the Bush administration answer for its crimes, then gave it a pass “for the good of the country”, because actually holding it to account would have meant he would have to let go of so many lovely presidential tools that Bush left for him.

  108. Another Donetsk pro-Russian activist detained by Kiev regime: http://lenta.ru/news/2014/03/22/chumach/

  109. Fern says:

    Here’s another chapter in that huge volume entitled “Western Hypocrisy” – US support for Morocco’s annexation of Western Sahara. This is one of the longest running and least well-known of the world’s conflicts. Morocco annexed Western Sahara back in 1975 and a low grade conflict rumbled on for years. In the early 1990’s, the UN brokered a peace deal that provided for a referendum to determine its future – this has never been held. I occasionally dip in and out of the issues surrounding Western Sahara and I think that Morocco has been in violation of the same number of UN Resolutions as Israel. Back in 2010, the Huffington Post reported on US support for Morocco’s position”-

    “In yet another assault on fundamental principles of international law, a bipartisan majority of the Senate has gone on record calling on the United States to endorse Morocco’s illegal annexation of Western Sahara, the former Spanish colony invaded by Moroccan forces in 1975 on the verge of its independence.  In doing so, the Senate is pressuring the Obama administration to go against a series of UN Security Council resolutions, a landmark decision of the International Court of Justice, and the position of the African Union and most of the United States’ closest European allies.
    More disturbingly, this effort appears to have the support of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), head of the Senate Intelligence Committee and principal author of the recent Senate letter supporting Moroccan aggrandizement, claims that the two “are on the same wavelength” on the issue.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-zunes/us-lawmakers-support-ille_b_525401.html

    More grist for Vitaly Churkin’s mill.

    • kirill says:

      Great find. The western political establishment (and hence media establishment) hypocrisy is institutional grade. The west is obsessed by Russia. For a supposedly Upper Volta with nukes there is way too much attention. China and Pakistan have nukes too and they are not the focus of such phobia. I see people routinely laughing about “Russia trying to act as if it was still a superpower”. Well, it is a superpower and the western behaviour is essentially a confirmation of this fact. Russia today is better off than it was during the 1980s in a slew of indicators. This includes military technology. The only thing it “lacks” is some ideology to foist on the planet. I think this just makes it stronger. The so-called colonies of the USSR were drains on its economy unlike for the west whose colonies serve to prop it up.

  110. “The life expectancy for males is the highest it has been since 1961″

    What caused the life expectancy to fall in the 1970’s? I understand that the 1970’s was not a bad time economically for the Soviet Union.

    • kirill says:

      Booze and poor Soviet diet. Heart disease is the primary reason for the short lifespan and just eating meat and potatoes without enough fruit and vegetables will cut your lifespan noticeably.

      During the 1970s you had cases where whole trainloads of fruit would be “lost” at marshaling yards and rot. The Brezhnev stagnation was partly due to social stagnation. The system was showing its pathological problems centered around the “tragedy of the commons” where people start not caring about what they do not own. Today you will not have trainloads of produce allowed to rot since there will be big costs and the owners of the produce will actually care about getting it to market.

      The consumption of alcohol has dropped to lower than the minimum under Gorbachov’s draconian anti-vodka campaign. It has dropped naturally and without any state coercion and even price pressure (people’s increasing incomes allow them to buy a lot of vodka so any taxes would be offset by purchasing power increases). Vodka consumption during the USSR period was excessive. This was due to lack of responsibility. You could show up to work drunk or not even to show up at all (e.g. leave a coat on a chair). Today you have to be sober to earn money to feed yourself. In this regard, things were easier during the USSR era.

      • So in retrospect Lenin and Trotsky were the two most ruinous personalities in Russian history? It is amazing why the Soviets stubbornly tried to make the system work for decades when it was clear that it was not working. The ideology was more important than people.
        If the Soviets had made sensible reforms in the 1960’s and 1970’s Russia and Ukraine would still be the same country.

        • Jen says:

          I wouldn’t go so far to say that Lenin and Trotsky were the ones responsible for Soviet decay during the 1960s – 1980s. Lenin died in early 1924 and by 1930 Trotsky had been hounded out of the Soviet Union.

          During the 1920s, Lenin had reformed his ideas of running the Soviet economy by reintroducing aspects of capitalism. This was done to help the country recover after World War I and the civil war that immediately followed after.

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

          Trotsky did indeed have ideas about centralising all economic decision-making in the government and running a strictly centralised economy but his ideas were based on the assumption that the government would be a democratic one, not one directed and controlled by an elite group. It was Stalin who adopted Trotsky’s ideas of centralised economic decision-making but in a way Trotsky probably hadn’t foreseen.

          There were many reasons for the later stagnation, some of them internal and others external. Ideology probably plays a part but isn’t the only factor. Arguably during the 1980s the Soviets were spending far more on the military than they should have done, due in part to the decade-long war they were fighting in Afghanistan: a war that was initiated by the US government by the way when it started funding warlords in that country in mid-1979. (Brzezinski was US National Security Advisor at the time and it was his idea to seed the conflict that would force the Soviets to invade the country in December 1979.) The fact that the Soviets had a very real problem with interference from the US and Saudi Arabia during that war (the Saudis were funding the mujaheddin there through Osama bin Laden) probably limited their ability to change their ways of thinking, planning and making decisions and policies.

          Other countries like South Korea (1961 – 1990s?) used 4-year or 5-year plans to bring their economies from nothing, in South Korea’s case, almost literally since in 1961 it was still recovering from the Korean War. For a good part of its recent history (1961 – early 1990s), South Korea was ruled by an authoritarian military government. The South Koreans abandoned economic planning some time in the 1990s, probably after the 1997 financial crisis in Asia and Russia.

          China and Vietnam are still governed by Communists and their economies are basically forms of state capitalism. Vietnam has one of the fastest growing economies in SE Asia.

          • robert says:

            Another take on the ever popular communism – capitalism debate

            http://www.pieria.co.uk/articles/unlearning_the_history_of_capitalism

            For what it’s worth my view is that the current model of capitalism is very likely doomed because of resource depletion, above all Peak Oil. Climate change also poses a massive challenge even if the more apocalyptic predictions may have been exaggerated. Bottom line is that you cannot have infinite growth on a finite planet.

            I suspect history may record that the West did not win the Cold War but rather the internal contradictions of communism caught up with the Soviets before the internal contradictions of our system will prove terminal.

          • Jen says:

            “Other countries like South Korea (1961 – 1990s?) used 4-year or 5-year plans to bring their economies from nothing, in South Korea’s case, almost literally since in 1961 it was still recovering from the Korean War. ”

            This should have read:

            “Other countries like South Korea (1961 – 1990s?) used 4-year or 5-year plans to bring their economies from nothing, in South Korea’s case, almost literally since in 1961 it was still recovering from the Korean War, to a level where they can be considered highly developed technological economies.”

            Plus China and Vietnam still use 5-year plans to map out their economic direction. There may of course be differences between how the Chinese and Vietnamese structure and use planning and how the Soviets did it: the Chinese and Vietnamese plans may be far less prescriptive than the Soviet plans were.

        • Jen says:

          The problem with alcohol too is that because of the way alcohol affects brain functions, it affects judgement and so it is a factor behind violence and accidents such as car and pedestrian accidents (which can be exacerbated by weather and road conditions: picture someone drunk who tries to go home at night, slips on ice and breaks a leg, and suffers hypothermia leading to death when the temperature drops) and accidents at work, as when someone drunk tries to operate heavy machinery. It is not just simply people drinking themselves into oblivion. Alcohol-related death statistics and country comparisons have to be interpreted very carefully as a result.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Some surprises in this film about vodka and Russians. Firstly, Russians weren’t always the archetypal piss-heads that they are perennially portrayed as in the West. Vodka – all hard drinks in fact – came to Russia quite late in the day. Aleksander Nevsky, for example, probably never touched the stuff by virtue of the fact that there was none in the Novgorod of his day.. Mead was the traditional drink in Ancient Rus’. And consumption of hard liquor in Russia only really sky-rocketed in Soviet times. I often surprise Russians when I tell them that the biggest boozers in Europe are the French. And alcoholism has long been a social probem in France. Emile Zola and many others in the French canon of literature used often to go on about the debilitating effect of booze amongst the exploited masses in the 19th century.

        Anyway, this Russian documentary might be an eye-opener for some – if you speak some Russian, that is. I’ve been thinking of translating it – just as an exercise.

  111. cartman says:

    Obama to Putin: Do as I Say Not as I Do by Ralph Nader

    I am glad he spoiled Al Gore and Joe Lieberman’s chances at the White House, because there is a lesson that Democrat’s supporters haven’t learned about their true disingenuousness.

  112. yalensis says:

    More on the new Crimean sensation, Natalia Poklonsaya.

    (Whom as we know now, the Magic Mirror on the Wall declared the fairest of them all…)

    From the photo, it is clear why Natasha is considered an “Anime” heroine: she has that look that Japanese teenagers seem to adore: the big round blue eyes, the pale, clear skin, the softly parted hair.

    However, the “anime” version of Natasha portrays her as an insipid super-feminine, with a heart-shaped face, no chin, and a head-to-body ratio of a lollipop. The real Nataha has a face that is much more interesting than that. If she were perfect, she would be boring. But there is that slight imperfection of the nose, and the intriguing hint of hardness around her mouth and chin.

    (…)

    Anyway, KP interviewed her over the phone and asked her a few interesting questions about her life.
    Natalia was born in Crimea, where her parents and the rest of her family still live.
    Both of her grandfathers died in the Great Patriotic War, fighting against Nazis.
    Her grandmother told young Natasha about the brutality of the Nazis and the Ukrainian “Politsai” collaborators, how they tortured people and mocked their victims.

    Natasha studied at the Eupatoria filial of Kharkiv University, receiving her degree in criminal studies.
    She worked in Kiev for 12 years, in the General Prosecutor’s office.
    She rose to the rank of “Councillor of Justice”, which is the equivalent of a Lieutenant Colonel. Due to her youthful years and her good looks, her promotion led to the usual speculations.
    However, it can be explained by the fact that Natasha had seniority of 12 years in the capital city, and also helped prosecute a couple of high-profile crimes.

    Natasha submitted her letter of resignation on 25 February, after the Maidan putsch, because she couldn’t stand to live in a regime that revered Nazis. Her manager told her not to do something in the heat of the moment, she should take a few weeks off and think about it.
    So she left Kiev and went to visit her mother, who lives in Simferopol..
    She thought about getting a job there, and it just so happened that they were looking for a new prosecutor; so she got the job. It all happened quickly, and almost like it was karma.

    Natasha turned 34 years old on March 18, the same day that Putin appeared before the Federal Assembly and called for bringing Crimea into Russian Federation.

    After Natasha took the job in Crimea, the putsh regime in Kiev went beserk and announced a criminal case against her.

    In her personal life, Natasha has one child, a daughter. She is unmarried/divorced.
    It was from her little girl that Natasha learned, to her surprise, that she had become an “Anime” character!

    • marknesop says:

      She is a beauty, especially in her casual shots. I find her a little thin-lipped, but as I mentioned before, a little lipstick would take care of that, and as you say, her face is interesting rather than conventionally perfect. She certainly has beautiful skin for 34, especially around the eyes.

  113. Moscow Exile says:

    BBC unbiased reporting:

    Russian troops storm Ukraine airbase in Crimea

    At 00:38:

    “The situation is slowly calming down here, but what is happening is that the Ukrainian troops, who’ve been in this tense stand-off for the last few days waiting for orders from Kiev, have been lined up by the Russian forces, who really, it’s sad to say, have taken control of this day.”

    I suppose for the correspondent who said those words it’s also sad to say that a majority of Crimean citizens voted that the Crimea no longer be governed from Kiev and want the Ukrainian military to leave.

    And if there had been a fire fight between the Russian and Ukrainian troops resulting in victory for the latter, would the “neutral” BBC man in the Crimea have said: “I am pleased to say that the forces of the Evil Empire have been defeated”?

    • yalensis says:

      I believe Belbek was the place where the Ukrainian troops were holding hostage that Soviet-era flag from the WWII Yalta conference. This was their big trophy. I hope the Russian troops got it back intact.

    • Kulobi says:

      Oh, please be gentle and understanding. The hard-working correspondent may have just experienced a bout of inarticulate sadness associated with the heavy atmosphere of ennui and depression that envelopes every civilised Brit once he turns his elevated mind to barbaric Russia. Cf. Messrs Fry and Laurie.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Perhaps the depressed BBC corespondent was troubled by thoughts of the possible fate that awaited the homosexual members of the surrendered Ukrainian personnel, of which, statistically speaking, their number would have amounted to about 4% of the Ukrainians, and who would surely have been in for a good beating off those slab-faced Russian brutes whose endemic homophobia is encouraged by the Beast of the Kremlin.

        • yalensis says:

          In the scheme of things, compared to other wars, this was a “gentle” take-over. In the end, Ukrainian soldiers packed up their stuff, took selfies next to their old flag, and then sadly marched off into the sunset.
          They now either become civilians, or transfer to a post in Kiev.

          Note: the officers on the base did the right thing when they ordered all the weapons on the base to be safely secured in the locker, before they left. Nobody wants to see a lot of weapons flowing out into the regular population.

  114. yalensis says:

    On a sadder note, the Ukrainian museum of antiquities on Kreshchatik has been looted .

    The museum contained many exhibits of the ancient Slavs, Kievans, and also Scythian pottery, etc. There were works of copper and bronze, also silver and gold, ancient furniture, works of art, and ikons. In all, this outstanding museum contained 250,000 exhibits.

    During the Maidan phase, Berkut had occupied the building of the museum, and the curators were not allowed in for almost 2 months. After Berkut left, the curators went in, and checked, and found, to their relief, that all the exhibits were still intact.

    But then, Orange Maidanites took over the building. These barbarians broke all the doors and looted most of the exhibits.

    • Jen says:

      This sounds like a replay of what happened in Baghdad after the US-led coalition invaded Iraq in 2003. The National Library was burnt down and a number of museums specialising in ancient history and archaeology were looted. This was even after a group of American archaeologists had met with Bush government officials and implored them to ensure that soldiers would protect valuable cultural institutions during the invasion. Most looted objects were recovered but some may have ended up on the black market for antiquities.

  115. Moscow Exile says:

    BBC double standards.

    Russia takes over the Crimea Novofedorivka base

    (Note: not Crimean citizens.)

    At 00:10

    They headed for the last building occupied by Ukrainian troops resisting the Russian onslaught. And then the storming began … this was a take over by mob rule.”

    And the change of government in Kiev was, of course, peaceful, democratic and followed due process of law.

    • Warren says:

      The BBC is a state propaganda organ, it serves the British state. You should of realised that by now! The BBC and the rest of UK media follows the UK Gov foreign policy line.

      The difference between Russia and the UK, with regards to “media freedom”, is that the UK are far far better at propaganda than Russia. The UK media can criticise and have different opinions with regards domestic policies and politics. But when it comes major foreign policies, the entire UK media works in unison and adheres to the UK government line.

      Selling War: The British Propaganda Campaign Against American Neutrality in World War II

  116. apc27 says:

    Here is a recording of an Ukrainian TV programme that shows a video conference between the interim defense minister and the deputy commander of the Ukrainian Kerch marines battalion:

    Completely agree with Crimean reunification with Russia, but this video is just tremendously sad, a clear window in time bringing one back to 90s Russia and all the betrayals Russian soldiers suffered in those years. Thank God (or Putin) we are no longer there.

    For those who do not speak Russian the conversation goes as follows, and I am generalizing here:

    Marine: Comrade Admiral, the Russian flag is flying over my base, their personnel carriers are parked on my lawn, 20 men under my command are so disgusted they wish to resign, 49 are prepared to continue serving Ukraine elsewhere, the rest are queuing to sign up for service in Russian Armed Forces (and you can see that it hurts him to see his men do this). What do we do?

    Minister: Don’t tell me about giving up, you lot are a bunch of cowards who do not follow orders and its all your fault anyway.

    Marine: What orders? In 21 days neither you nor anyone from high-command had been in contact with us, unlike Russians, whose generals by now are more familiar to me than my own. For 21 days we have been taking this shit, 50 of us are still prepared to take this shit, all we ask is where and how, but given that response I doubt that any of these men would still be willing to serve (stands up and walks away)

    Let me just repeat this once more: Thank God Russia is no longer like that.

    • yalensis says:

      In the video, the Ukrainian marine reports that a Russian soldier, who he says was from Dagestan, tore down the Ukrainian coat of arms and messed it up.
      That wasn’t supposed to happen. Both Putin and the Russian senior officers had issued orders to take down Ukrainian emblems with respect and not damage them. They were supposed to be taken down and shipped back to Kiev intact, and not trompled on.

      In others words, some stuff is happening a bit chaotic, that is not supposed to go down that way.

      Like you say, this is all very sad. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.

      • yalensis says:

        P.S.
        and I hope that Banderite piece of shit Tenukh, who calls himself a “Defense Minister” gets fragged by his own men. He deserves it, after the way he abandoned them.

        • apc27 says:

          It just drags me back to those awful days 2 decades ago. This marine and his men gave an oath and they are staying true to their understanding of it (wrong in my opinion), throughout some truly challenging time.

          Hundreds of much better armed Russian soldiers are against them, most of their comrades are against them, most of the civilians whom they meet are against them, the whole region is against them, their chain of command is in chaos and high-command has abandoned them.

          And when one of them finally reaches that high-command, they spit in their face… I remember the time in Russia when I was both excruciatingly proud to share my Russian heritage with loyal honorable men such as these, while at the same time also feeling incredible shame that this is what the country of my parents and grandparents, my country, has come to. And now millions of people like me, who are of both Russian and Ukrainian descent, will see this terrible nightmare once more.

          As for what these Banderite bastards deserve… there is simply no punishment great enough for such betrayals and for such shame.

          • yalensis says:

            Dear apc:

            I agree with every word, and totally understand your emotions. This is very sad to watch, and very reminding of Russia’s humiliation and trauma, in her worst moment of Time of Troubles and the rule of Boris the Drunk. It is something I would not wish any other nation to ever have to endure, it is just too painful to suffer such a defeat. And it’s not like Ukraine is an evil entity that has to be destroyed, like, say, Nazi Germany. It’s just a country and an ethnic group that wants to have their own country. Nothing terrible about that, and completely understandable why a chunk of the population wants to have their own independent country. (Whether or not they can have this is another matter, giving Ukraine’s geo-political location and situation.)

            Anyhow, the Kerchensk marine shown in the video, Oleksiy Nikiforov, is an honorable man and a Ukrainian hero. He took his oath, and he decided which side he is on. It might not be the same side I would have chosen, in his situation. But in situations like that, where you are placed with such a choice, the honorable man will take the choice decided by his own conscience, and not by what is convenient. If the choice of conscience also happens to correspond with the winning side, then there would be a sense of glorious relief, and joy.
            .
            However, if the choice of conscience happens to correspond with the losing side, then there is pain and defeat, but at least preserving that one shred of honor.

            Then, for Oleksiy to go through all this psychological process, and to see how his sacrifice is summarily dissed by that Banderite piece of shit, Tenukh. To be betrayed by one’s own commanders. It must have been more pain and disappointment than any loyal man should be forced to endure.

            On the positive side, at least everybody watching Ukrainian TV could see with their own eyes what a load of fascist excrement they have in their new so-called “government”. All those guys care about is getting NATO in there as quickly as possible. In a heartbeat they would replace loyal soldiers like Nikiforov with NATO mercenaries.

          • Kulobi says:

            Dear apc,
            I’m sure your sentiment is shared by many servicemen, former and current, including boots on the ground in Crimea. There was an article about Ukrainian border guards who were left to their own devices just like the marine commander in the video http://www.unian.net/politics/899435-pogranichnoe-sostoyanie.html :
            “Ukrainian border guards are also saying that the Russians [soldiers] were genuinely perplexed seeing the conditions in which our soldiers have to serve. Some of them tried to joke about this, but the eyes of the majority of them were full of pity.”
            The report goes on to say that Russian troops are apparently under orders NOT TO ‘shoot to kill’. In any event, soldiers on both sides exhibit understanding if not good will towards each other despite the conflict.

  117. yalensis says:

    In Russian media news, my golly, what ever happened to GAZETA ? They used to be a Bolotnaya white-ribbon paper who thought that Navalny’s shit smelled like roses.

    Then in the last 3 weeks they suddenly became a Kremlin mouthpiece.
    (Did somebody buy them out, or were they infected with the Patriot bug?)

    Look at it, they show wholesome photographs of Russian troops in Simferopol.
    Check it out: In Photo #1, troops are rescuing cats for adorable little boys, in #2 they are making party balloons for the people, in #4 a mom with infant is happily offering them some cookies, in #5 pretty girls are happy to see them patrolling the streets, in #8 they are schmoozing with the local population — hey, wait just one minute! That the same orange cat they rescued in #1, only now the cat is hanging out with the militia!

  118. Jen says:

    Hello, hello, there’s been an online poll in Veneto, a province in northern Italy, to gauge support for a bill calling for a referendum on whether Veneto should break away from Rome and re-establish the Republic of Venice.

    http://globalnews.ca/news/1213680/europes-other-referendum-italys-veneto-region-has-its-own-independence-vote/

    http://rt.com/news/venice-independence-referendum-italy-154/

    Now news about this “referendum” and whether it’s legal or not hasn’t been slathered all over mainstream news outlets.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      It’s labelled as an “unofficial” referendum in RT. In some British newspapers the legality of the referendum is not mentioned, just the fact that it took part in the same week as the Crimea one did.

      And try as I might, I have yet to find a report of the Venice referendum in the Guardian.

    • yalensis says:

      I support the right of the Venetian people to self-determination.
      I support their right to break away and form their own republic!
      Viva Veneto!

      (just taking a principled stance) :)

      • Jen says:

        If the Venetians did decide to split from Rome, that could tip the Friulian region (the area around Udine and Trieste) into breaking away as well because that part of Italy has long had a pro-independence movement. Slovenia might be tempted to form a new country with both Friulians and Venetians if only to save its economy. How a new country formed from that combination will govern itself would be fascinating to observe because to my knowledge Italians and Slovenes have not had a great deal to do with one another apart from cultural influences (mostly one way from the Italian side).

        • KenM says:

          An amusing side to affairs:
          “…Afghanistan this weekend joined Syria and Venezuela and became the newest member of a select club of nations: those that have publicly backed the Russian annexation of Crimea.

          Citing “the free will of the Crimean people,” the office of President Hamid Karzai said, “we respect the decision the people of Crimea took through a recent referendum that considers Crimea as part of the Russian Federation.”

          http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/24/world/asia/breaking-with-the-west-afghan-leader-supports-russias-annexation-of-crimea.html

          Suspect there is some real screaming going on in the US beltway – ‘Why won’t those damn puppet governments we install learn to keep their mouths shut & follow orders!’

          • yalensis says:

            “Then [...] the discussion turned to matters of “regional importance,” including Crimea. It said that Afghanistan respected the referendum and Crimea’s decision to rejoin Russia. It made no mention of what, if anything, the Americans had said.”

            I think I can use my imagination, what Americans said!

            P.S. Numbers of American casualties fighting to prop up (ungrateful) Karzai government in Afghanistan:

            2175 military death plus an additional 1173 civilian contractor fatalities; plus
            17,790 injured [a more important number, IMHO]

            • Moscow Exile says:

              “Blood Debt” is a turn of phrase that comes to mind.

              I’ve heard often heard it bandied it about as regards the “Second Front” in Normandy, 1944, and how that debt is owed by Europe, and the UK in particular, to the USA and that if so much US blood had not been let flow, we’d all be speaking German or whatever, ungrateful wretches we Europeans are.

  119. Moscow Exile says:

    I’ve noticed over the past three days that the Grauniad’s articles on the “Ukraine Crisis” have not been lead stories and that the ability for readers to comment on them has stopped.

    Today’s front page of Grauniad online

    I get the general feeling that more comments in the Guardian are critical of the West than supportive, and of those supportive ones, many are one-liners in bad English (from Ukrainians, Poles etc. I should imagine) or, judging by their English, from US citizens who seem to be drooling over thoughts of a showdown with the Evil Empire.

    This closing down of the comments section at the foot of “Ukraine crisis” articles also came after Tin-Tin threw in his two penn’orth and promptly got hauled over the coals in the comments, though I’m not suggesting pro hoc ergo propter hoc, even if the Grauniad is clearly sensitive about Harding’s plagiarism.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Comments back on now. They must close them down at night. However, beneath each article subheading on the front page, they usually state the number of comments. That doesn’t seem to happen now with “Ukraine crisis” stories.

      • yalensis says:

        There are comments under each individual story. For example, Tin-Tin’s latest ouevre, from yesterday.

        Sample Tin-Tin:

        On Saturday a peaceful crowd of 5,000 took part in a pro-Yanukovych, anti-Kiev rally. The participants were locals united by a feeling that life had gone downhill since the demise of the USSR.

        They marched to the regional administrative building – guarded by riot police – but didn’t try to storm it. “Yanukovych may have been a crook, but he was our legitimate president,” one protester said.

        [yalensis: I reckon that's a good example of the proverbl "damning with faint praise..."]

        Tin-Tin goes on to state that Putin and the Russian spy agencies are inciting the unrest in East Ukrainie. Pro-Russian rioters are paid 400 hryvna per day to do their dirty deeds. Yanukovych’s billionaire son, Oleksandr, is funding these malcontents.

        Tin-Tin’s “reporting by assertion” fitting in with his overall hypothesis about the “Mafia State”, yada yada…

        Comments to the piece are the usual mixture.

  120. Kulobi says:

    WAR! WAR!
    Ukraine’s glorious armoured corps takes first casualties: 2 MBTs destroyed, 3 damaged.

    http://www.unian.net/society/899061-v-minoboronyi-soobschili-iz-za-chego-zagorelis-tanki-v-krivom-roge.html

    This is really pathetic. A linie switches on the radio, and the entire tank park goes up in flames. Mind boggles at the age of the T-64s involved: R-123 transceiver is a piece of junk that was already obsolete in the 1970s.

  121. Warren says:

    Published on 16 Mar 2014
    http://usawatchdog.com/putin-has-nucl… Gold expert Jim Sinclair is issuing a warning of a massive downside risk to U.S. sanctions against Russia. Sinclair says watch the “struggling dollar” and Russia accepting any currency for oil and natural gas. Sinclair explains, “It’s struggling . . . because it smells the real teeth of retaliation for sanctions being in the simple acceptance of any currency whatsoever for payment for gas to Europe. Believe me, they will settle in other currencies. . . . It makes energy cheaper. Why in the world would anyone want to pay in dollars if they can pay in their own currency? Russia could retaliate in a way that would have phenomenal impact on the U.S. dollar. . . . Russia has the upper hand. They have it in their ability to turn the U.S. economy upside down and into collapse. There is no question whatsoever. Putin doesn’t need a nuclear bomb. He has a nuclear economic bomb that he can set off at any time.”

    What would the price of gold be this year? Sinclair predicts, “Gold has $2,000 an ounce in its sites in 2014.” On silver, Sinclair says, “Silver is gold on steroids. When gold takes off, silver goes up faster. . . . So, the idea you are going to get an old high on silver or better is a given.”

    Join greg Hunter of USAWatchdog.com as he goes One-on-One with Jim Sinclair of JSMineset.com

    • yalensis says:

      This Jim Sinclair guys sounds extremely intelligent and practical-minded. Why isn’t Obama listening to him, instead of to the syphilitic crew of low-IQ idiots with whom he has surrounded himself?

      Anyhow, one really good point Sinclair makes: Obama thinks he is so clever to cut Russia out of the SWIFT system of international banking. I had to google this to figure out what he is talking about. So, basically, the SWIFT system is an international coding standard used in the U.S. and Europe to wire-transfer money between banks.
      So, basically, it’s just a code, like [greatly simplifying the example] my bank is randomly designated “123456” and your bank is randomly designated “654321”, etc. As Sinclair points out, anybody can make up a code, and if Russia is excluded from using the already-existing SWIFT codes, then they will just make up their own. Or, as Sinclair points out, they and the rest of the BRICs are already working to come up with a new coding system that they can use among themselves when wiring money.

      Having said that, it totally makes sense for people, and emerging nations, to use existing codes and standards when they are good. For example, in my field (computer technology) we use international standards, like ANSI, these are voluntary yet internationally recognized standards that regulate everything from ASCII codes to the rules of database management, etc., not to mention standard formats for transferring data of all shapes and sizes. It totally makes sense to use already-accepted international standards, especially when they are well designed and effective. Why re-invent the wheel? (/the exception is that NOBODY should use any encryption standards designed in America, because they were pre-built so that NSA has a backdoor and can decrypt any message.)

      Having said that, if there is a decent coding standard that everybody is using, but then an entity is explicitly excluded from using this standard, due to political shenanigans, then they are left with no choice except to invent their own.

      For example: You say that my bank is #123456, well now I say that it’s #666666.
      And if, in the end, money DOES need to be transferred from your bank to my bank, well then we will have to build an additional THIRD coding system, which is a mapping between the two other systems. Extra work, but so be it, if that’s the way it has to be.

      • marknesop says:

        To the best of my knowledge, Russia has not been cut out of SWIFT, and I don’t think it will be. We have still not reached the point of no return at which a massive economic and trade war is unavoidable. Thus far all the tit-for-tat exploratory actions are like the push-push leading up to a playground fight before one or the other takes the first swing. The overall effect, though, is to cause countries to examine their associations with others and gauge how vulnerable they are to financial coercion. This is wise, and Russia would be wise to examine alternatives to using American systems. If alternatives become commonplace, the USA has only itself to blame, because it originally pioneered and offered those systems to all specifically to increase its soft-power influence and global reach. If it now wants to throw those away over Ukraine, that is certainly its privilege.

    • yalensis says:

      Sinclair’s main point:
      U.S. President Nixon took America off gold standard, and put it on oil standard.
      The birth of the “petro-dollar”.
      All nations in the world were obliged to trade oil for dollars.
      If they wanted to buy oil (not necessarily from the U.S.), they still had to go to U.S. to buy some dollars, so that they could in turn use those dollars to buy oil from, say, a third party.

      Now that system is being threatened.
      Russia has a huge possibility of a painful retaliation.
      Sinclair says: All Russia has to do to destroy U.S. economy is turn to every country in the world and say: “We will accept any currency whatsoever, in return for oil. It doesn’t have to be the dollar. It could be gold, it could be the yuan, the ruble, anything.”

      Sinclair says: The petro-dollar is the most important factor in the world today. And Russia has this factor by the balls grasped right in her hand. [kind of bad metaphor].
      He says Russia can collapse the U.S. economy at a moment’s notice by using above mechanism. This would drive up inflation and interest rates,among other things, which would also collapse the ancillary derivative market, which is based on interest rates. [yalensis: I don't understand that bit, but this guy sounds like he knows what he's talking about.]

      Sinclair goes on to say that it is a mistake to push Putin too hard, Putin is that tough proud KGB Colonel [ouch - has he been reading La Russophobe blog?] who would put his own mother in the microwave if she crossed him. [ouch - poor Putin's mom!]

      Sinclair: “What Putin has now is a tool so powerful… Putin doesn’t need a nuclear bomb. He has a nuclear economic bomb.”

      • marknesop says:

        Of course Sinclair is completely wrong, although extremely amusing. Mark Adomanis says so. In so many words. In fact, if I recall correctly, to a suggestion (from me) that Russia might take down the U.S. dollar, he replied “Hahahahahahahahahahaha thanks for the laugh, that’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard”. You have nothing to worry about, America. Mark Adomanis has your back.

        • KenM says:

          Two of the big problems with Russia setting up alternative payment systems & banking solutions has been the influence of Kudrin along with the mass of the Moscow economic schools, which are strongly neo-liberal.
          A look at the partnerships of these places tells the story:
          “…The core of NES is the resident faculty of 22 young Russian economists with PhDs in economics and finance from the leading universities, including Harvard, MIT, London Business School, the University of Michigan, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison…”

          “…Among partners of Higher School of Economics in double-degree programmes include: London School of Economics and Political Science, GB (in the ICEF project); Manchester university, GB ; George Mason University, USA ; European school of management ESAP-EAP, France ; ESSEC, France ; INHOLLAND University, Netherlands ; etc…”

          The Kremlin may have to look to the Far Eastern & Southern universities to put a solid team together and get Sergey Glazyev to organise the project in order to get something that will focus genuinely on Russian priorities.

          • marknesop says:

            There would be nothing wrong with obtaining a good business education in the west if they could only educate without politics and the insistence upon imparting western values, which have nothing to do with numbers and little to do with economics. Too, western economics relies heavily on corporatism and the so-called “free market”, which in theory are both apolitical and munificent but in reality depend on predatory practices such as monopolization and price-fixing, while business leaders regularly favour business-friendly political candidates regardless what other attributes they display. In the USA this support can make all the difference, since corporations are recognized under the law as persons and consequently have no limits on the amounts they can donate to political campaigns.

            • KenM says:

              Agreed. The problem previously, especially when running these training programs with people from the so-called developing markets, is that they can’t help doubling down on the political bullsh*t.
              Now it might of reached the point that much of the western business & economic world might simply be incapable of running good fundamental management/economics programs – they’ve been drinking from their own kool-aid for way too long.

              I recently read a long article of someone trying to communicate concepts to a wide range of business people outside the regular echo chamber, & he found it just couldn’t be done.
              This echoes my own experience – the major focus has been networking & group think (ie. ‘playing for the team’) for the last several decades, & any form of critical thinking seems to have been almost completely eridicated.

              • KenM says:

                PS. I believe many Russians, & Putin in particular, have a great deal of respect for the kind of management/economics training that was happening in Germany/EU in the 70’s & 80’s, and they have tended to see the west through that prism.
                It has taken a long time for prevalent reality of what the west is now to sink in. This fiasco over Ukraine is likely to be the final straw for most Russians on the question of Westernisation…

                RE: the payment systems/banking story – a couple of articles worth noting:

                Russia may launch national payment system in 6 months — Sberbank CEO

                http://en.itar-tass.com/economy/725086

                This needs to happen…

                And this: Russian Bank Impacted By US Sanctions Hit By Mini Bank Run Over The Weekend

                http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-03-24/russian-bank-impacted-us-sanctions-hit-mini-bank-run-over-weekend

                Looks like this might of been the intention – wave the big stick around to show how much the US can still impact markets with a wave of deranged threats & sanctions.
                Should backfire quite nicely, as this will force the Russian business players to get behind the crafting of a safe banking solution…

  122. Moscow Exile says:

    Historical Revisionism in Western Ukraine

    Teaching Western Ukrainian schoolchildren about Bandera’s heroic struggle against the Moskaly.

    Veterans of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army giving talks to schoolchildren in the Lviv region.

    Historically revised school history books published.

    “Historical” re-enactions of Banderites fighting heroically against Soviet occupiers.

    I shouldn’t imagine that the “hero” veterans talk to the children about what happened in the Voivodship of Volhynia,
    about the atrocities of the Banderites .

    • Moscow Exile says:

      As a matter of fact, I should think there are few veterans of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army about now: if any are, they’d be in their 80s at the youngest.

      The elderly Bandera adulator who in the above clip is lecturing children in a classroom must have been a small child in the early ’50s when the Ukrainian “freedom fighters” were still taking pot-shots in the forests at the “Soviet invaders”.

  123. Moscow Exile says:

    Russian troops may be massing to invade Ukraine, says White House

    And “Yes We Can” Obama arrives in Europe soon – to rally the troops?

    • Fern says:

      This ‘Russia may…’ line is quite a good game isn’t it? Russia may start barbecuing Ukrainian babies soon, Russia may start a white-slave trade, Russia may seize all able-bodied males over the age of 18 and ship them off to a life of servitude in the salt mines, Russia may force all single Ukrainians to marry an ethnic Russian. How do you get a job in the White House anyway?
      What’s happened to Mark? He’s keeping a low profile round here.

      • marknesop says:

        Sorry, I had to work this weekend; I was asked to be a judge in the Regional Seamanship Competition, held in Esquimalt for naval cadets from British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Although it was just a volunteer position, it absorbed all of my Saturday and up until lunchtime of today. For anyone interested, RCSCC AMPHION (Fear None!!!! I love their motto) won for British Columbia.

        • yalensis says:

          Was that one of those sailor beauty contests, where they dress up like women and parade in front of the judges?

          • marknesop says:

            No, nothing like that; a seamanship competition tests skills that have been required of seagoing personnel for centuries; knots and ropework, splicing and whipping (not the kind you are thinking of, naughty boy; whipping consists of fastening a wrap of thin line at the end of a larger braided or multi-strand line to prevent it coming apart or “unlaying”), flaghoist signals and semaphore, rigging of sheer legs (once used to hoist the ship’s cannons up a cliff face to mount them for a shore battery, now used to transfer heavy loads between small boats that do not have embarked cranes or lifting appliances), routine pipes using the bos’n call (a kind of whistle) and naval trivia. The Canadian Navy borrows heavily from the Royal Navy for its customs and traditions, and contains many words not used in any other environment. “Dhobey”, for example, both noun and verb, is the word used to indicate washing, either oneself or one’s laundry. The Royal Navy borrowed it from India, when it was a British colony. “Duff” is the general term for dessert in the navy, and it refers to a type of steamed pudding although it now means anything that is served for dessert. A fried-egg sandwich is an “Egg Banjo”. Hot chocolate, once made by grating a block of hard high-cocoa chocolate into boiling water or milk, is “kye”.

            We don’t have sailor beauty contests any more, because we have plenty of real women in the Navy.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              My father was in the 4th Indian Division during WWII. (He wasn’t Indian, by the way: Indian divisions consisted of brigades having British and Indian regiments in the ratio of 1:2.) Anyway, he used a lot of Hindi words that had become slang in the British Indian army and some even British society in general.

              “Bungalow”, for example is from Hindi, as is “pyjamas”. He used to say “tiffin” for a snack as well.

              A dhobi-wallah was a washerman: he washed soldiers shirts etc. in the Indian barracks. He got paid of course. There were dhobi-wallahs for each hut in the barracks.

              There were also punkah-wallahs who operated a big swishing ventilator, a contraption like a curtain that hung down from the ceiling and which was swished to and fro by a length of yarn pulled by the punkah-wallah.

              “Dhobi” comes from the Hindi “to launder”.

              Forty years ago I used to use and here the term “dhobi rash”, meaning a sweat rash around your crotch (to be polite, but your balls really – I think Americans say “jock itch”) caused by the dhobi-wallahs’ detergent or “dhobi-dust”.

              Oh yes, and there was a “bhishti” as well – a water carrier such as Gunga-Din in Kiplings eponymous poem.

              I should add that my father had the greatest respect for Indian soldiers, saying that all of them were volunteers. He used to have particular admiration for Sikhs because, as he used to tell me, they used to go into action without a “tin hat”.

              • marknesop says:

                The round, flat adjustable ventilators that hang down from the vent trunking in a warship are still called “punka louvers” as well. And the main passage deck in a warship, which usually runs more or less uninterrupted from bow to stern and onto which many of the messdecks (living spaces) open is traditionally called “Burma Road”.

              • Jen says:

                I used to know of an Indian family living in northern Sydney whose surname was Canteenwalla. No idea though if they were Parsi Indians. Some but not all Parsi surnames are occupational-based surnames with the “walla(h)” ending (meaning “expert”, thus dhobiwallah or “laundry expert”) which itself can be optional.

                There is a district in Singapore called Dhoby Ghaut where historically washing used to be done and then laid out to dry on the maidan. These days it’s part of the Orchard Road shopping strip.

    • Fern says:

      Moscow Exile, I hope you don’t mind my asking a personal question – approximately how long did it take for you to become fluent in Russian?

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I don’t know, really: about 3-4 years I guess. I still make mistakes, mind you: Russian, as you might already know, is an inflected language and has a complex grammar that includes a verbal system very different to that of English; the lexis is also problematical for English speakers as is the variable stress in the pronunciation. However, even though I still make mistakes to a greater or lesser degree, those grammatical errors that I now still make are not such as to cause incomprehensibility amongst my interlocutors.

        I should add, however, that I had studied Russian (and German as well) to degree level before I settled in the Evil Empire. That was a 4-year slog, one of which academic years I had to spend in the Soviet Union – at Voronezh State University as it turned out. And then, two years after I had graduated and had been studying as an undergraduate, I decided to drop anchor here. At that time, I was really labouring when conversing in Russian and its from that time that I estimate it took me 3 more years or so to achieve fluency.

        But all the time I am continuously acquiring new vocabulary, idioms, and nuances of the Russian tongue – a never ending labour which is greatly eased, of course, by the fact that I am totally immersed in living Russian: I don’t have to sit up all night burning the midnight oil whilst learning vocabulary lists. However, I don’t speak Russian all the time here: I do try to speak English with my children as much as possible, though. Nevertheless, our flat must sometimes sound like a madhouse because we often switch from one language to another. My two eldest do this most of all, often causing raised eyebrows amongst fellow passengers on the metro, when they, after having chatted to me for a while in Russian, suddenly, for some reason known only to them, change to English, only to return to Russian and then back to English once again.

  124. Moscow Exile says:

    Lawlessness: Zaporozhye fascist attack on ‘South-Eastern Front’ colleagues from Melitopol

    The date on the screen must be wrong. It reads 2013/03/23.

    I don’t think this happened last year. Furthermore, the sunny weather and blue skies are what it was like yesterday over much of European Russia and Eastern Ukraine.

    I simply think that the dashcam timer has not been set correctly, just as I think Chornovol’s wasn’t.

  125. Moscow Exile says:

    Russia ready to annex Moldova region, Nato commander claims by Luke Harding.

    Note:

    “Russia ready to invade…” (the Grauniad)

    and:

    “There is absolutely sufficient force postured on the eastern border of Ukraine to run to Trans-Dniester if the decision was made to do that. That is very worrisome.” (the general)

    Note:

    “…if the decision was made to do that …”

    That’s a conditional clause in a conditional statement. The verb “was” is in the subjunctive mood. (It should be “were” but no matter.) The subjunctive mood (here “subjunctive II”) is used to express hypothesis, unreality, events that are contrary to fact.

    What the general said could be rephrased thus: Russia, were it to wish to do so, has sufficient force ready at hand to reach Trans-Dniester.

    That does not mean that Russia intends to do this, but it could if it wanted to.

    Tin-Tin reports the general’s hypothesis as though it were a fact, that Russia intends to invade, which is, after all, part of what Harding’s paid to do.

    • Al says:

      A note to all the lurkers out there (and this has been mentioned before on other threads). Why all this focus on the Guardian’s sh*tty, russophobic reporting? Because it is the most read news website in the world (OK, the Daily Mail gets more but that is because of its celeb news). It may produce huge quantities of fetid, steaming piles of horse and sheep manure reporting, particularly about Russia, but every now and then someone writes something normal. Otherwise, no-one would bother with it in the slightest. FYI.

      • Fern says:

        The front page of Friday’s ‘Guardian’ included a supposed quote from an unnamed (aren’t they all?) White House source repeating the story that was doing the rounds a week or so ago – that the houses of Crimean Tatars were being marked with symbols, usually crosses. This was part and parcel of the very ‘concerning’ reports the White House was receiving on the human rights situation in Crimea. On the front page. If you were to write and ask the editor why he permits this rubbish to appear, he’d reply that they are merely reporting what a White House spokesperson said. Personally, I think it’s an act of criminal irresponsibility – it’s not like we don’t have a problem in the UK with jihadi wannabes. I wonder how long it will be before this story starts to act as the foundation stone for the next jihadi ‘liberation’ movement, financed by KSA & Qatar and facilitated by friend and NATO ally Turkey?

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, Tin-Tin would love nothing more than an all-out war between Russia and NATO – that’s how war correspondents are made, after all – and so his leading insinuations are particularly hyperbolic. But even the comparatively sober Beeb cannot resist the urge to speculate. Does Russia intend to invade Ukraine? You and I would say no, but apparently the goalposts now are “Could he?” If the answer is yes, he has sufficient forces assembled to do the job, the logistics support that would resupply it and if Ukraine’s assembled forces would not be enough to arrest such a drive, then he would. Capability has morphed to intention, which is the opposite of tactical thinking and largely an academic exercise anyway since there is little NATO can do about it.

      But come with me as I paw through the amusements on offer. “The problem is with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is that he doesn’t want to talk to – not only to the Ukrainian government – but also to the Western leaders,” Mr Deshchytsia told the BBC. That so? I remember not so long ago when Moscow offered to talk and was refused. Oh, until Russia “engages with U.S. proposals on Ukraine’s crisis”. So talks are good so long as Russia indicates in advance it accepts the U.S. way things are gonna be – otherwise, forget it.

      Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia warned that the risk of war with Russia was growing.” Based on Russian forces near the border. Is that going to mean the risk of war goes up every time it happens? Is there an acceptable buffer zone within which the Russian forces are permitted to operate without being close enough that they alarm the appointed Ukrainian Foreign Minister? Say, only within 100 km of Moscow?

      “Also on Sunday, Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council chief Andriy Parubiy told a big rally in Kiev: “The aim of [President Vladimir] Putin is not Crimea, but all of Ukraine… His troops massed at the border are ready to attack at any moment.” When are military forces deployed in the field not “ready to attack at any moment”? W