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. Moscow Exile says:

    Ukraine’s former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko to run for president

    I must stand for president because I am the only person who has realistically shown how to end corruption in all spheres“- Timoshenko.

    Ukraine seeks ‘Tymoshenko’ funds

  2. Moscow Exile says:

    В Канаде украинцы добиваются запрета российского ТВ

    Конгресс украинцев Канады готовит петицию в Канадскую комиссию по радио и телевидению. Местная диаспора украинцев намерена потребовать запретить на территории страны вещание RT, Первого канала и НТВ. Украиноязычные канадцы считают, что СМИ РФ освещают происходящее в мире необъективно.

    [The Canadian Congress of Ukrainians is preparing a petition to the Canadian Radio Commission. The local Ukrainian diaspora is going to demand that on Canadian territory transmissions of RT, Channel 1 and NTV be banned. Ukrainian-speaking Canadians believe that Russian mass media does not treat world events objectively.]

    You know, I don’t like stereotyping, but I am becoming more and more convinced that salo and gorilka lead to congenital idiocy.

    • kirill says:

      No it’s the iodine deficiency in western Ukrainian soil. Apparently the offspring of the Nazi collaborator Ukrainians who fled to Canada after WWII don’t consume iodized salt to this day.

      It amuses me how the west bleats about freedom of thought and speech but once things get tense we have loud calls for the “banning of enemy propaganda”. Right. Apparently propaganda includes telling people that the International Court at the Hague ruled that unilateral secession does not violate international law. Anything that is not spouted by western politicians and the lapdog western media is automatically “propaganda”. This looks an awful lot like totalitarianism to me. Even in the USSR you did not get this sort of bootlick conformity.

      • Jen says:

        I believe some of the symptoms of chronic iodine deficiency include low height, weight gain, low body temperature and lots of flappy skin around the neck due to disrupted thyroid activity as well as the cretinism. No wonder all those Banderovtsy look like mini-haystacks and overgrown garden gnomes.

    • marknesop says:

      Just as they say “There are none so Scots as the Scots abroad”, it is consistently the diaspora which is the guardian of old-country values, not to mention having the most fuzzy memories of the country they left. But I suppose if we must eliminate coverage from television channels which do not treat world events objectively – such as those which insert footage of riots in Athens complete with Greek signage and attempt to pass it off as rioting in Russia – we must. This will be good for the wool industry, because a lot of people are going to be taking up knitting to pass the time.

      I say this petition will go nowhere.

      • cartman says:

        More Irish than the Irish themselves.

        I have heard that about the Scots-Irish and the IRA-supporting diaspora in the US. Can I remind everyone that John McCain is Scots-Irish – son of these invaders lording it over and oppressing the true Irish people?

      • Jen says:

        Much the same can be said of diaspora communities in Australia with Croatians consistently right-wing in their views to the extent that during the 1990s Franjo Tudjman while he was President used to exploit diaspora Croatian votes by holding elections during the Christmas season. A university lecturer whose background is Hungarian and who I once listened to during a talk a couple of decades ago expressed fairly extreme views against the Australian Labor Party.

        Greeks in Australia on the other hand traditionally vote for the ALP because they’re descended from republicans and their supporters who fought in the Greek civil war in the late 1940s against the army and monarchists. When the republican side lost, thousands of people fled the country and went to North America and Australia to avoid imprisonment and torture.

        Diaspora communities not only retain old political allegiances and grievances but also traditions, customs and languages and dialects which the mother countries sometimes forget so being the guardians of old-country values isn’t always a bad thing unless it’s something like child marriage.

  3. Moscow Exile says:

    Obama says “there are no easy answers” to the Ukraine crisis, as though he, tortured soul, is faced with problems not of noble, altruistic United States making; it is all the Evil One’s doing, but America won’t wage war on the Evil Empire, a peaceful solution through sanctions will be found…

    So how did this crisis really come about?
    Meet the Americans Who Put Together the Coup in Kiev

    • Ilya says:

      Has anyone noticed Nuland’s permanently arched right eyebrow? Talk about being a born malefactor….

    • Jen says:

      Proof if needed that the US State Department – and remember, this is the department that in the recent past was headed by Killary Klinton, Condosleazebucket Rice, Madeline Albright (was she really all that bright? … shudder) and Colin Powell – is a rogue government unto itself within a rogue government.

      Geoff Pyatt should remember what happened to Chris Stevens in Benghazi if he’s nurturing dreams of being a kingmaker.

  4. kirill says:

    http://www.interfax.ru/russia/366821

    The Sochi Olympics made a $50 million profit on total costs of $7 billion (less than have from government funds). But now we have Crimea to keep all the sheeple distracted so all the anti-Russian spew about Sochi costing $50 billion will never be corrected.

  5. Jason says:

    Pravvy Sektor is now at the steps of Parliament and they are pissed at Sashko Bily getting offed.

    I suppose this is the new more “democratic” way to change governments in Kiev.

    • yalensis says:

      A continuation of Jason’s story:

      In order to placate “Right Sektor” mob and stop them from storming Parliament, Parliament promised the mob that they would set up commission to investigate Sahko’s death.
      After which Right Sektor leader Oleg Odnorozhenko announced that the mob would temporarily halt their storming of Parliament until Friday.
      However, another Right Sektor leader, Andrei Bondarenko, insisted that they would continue to demand the resignation of Arsen Avakov, Minister of Internal Affairs and Sashko chief nemesis.

      [yalensis: have the fascist mob considered the possibility that their leader was killed accidentally, when one of the hookers clipped him too hard in the snout during an S&M session??]

      • marknesop says:

        Once again, too many conflicting stories. He and a couple of companions – probably the ones who wear the black balaclavas and supply the copious clouds of menacing breath steam during his outdoor speeches – were supposedly braced in a public restaurant, and Sashko himself supposedly went down in a hail of police bullets after he opened fire on them with his trusty AK. Then he was shot while trying to escape out a window, perhaps to explain the pictures of him outside on the ground instead of on the floor amongst broken furniture and plates. Hookers kicking him in the face and stomping on his balls would have kind of stood out in either of those scenarios.

        What happened to the others? Why isn’t Right Sector yelling to get them out of the slammer? Isn’t anyone allowed to visit and get the eyewitness story from people who were actually there when he was killed? The police and interior ministry are just being allowed to sing whatever song they want to.

        • Jen says:

          No, no, no, he was defenestrated by the sheer hail of gunfire needed to bring him down. The bullets would register as pin-pricks against his considerable bulk and could be mistaken for stiletto marks inflicted by sadistic “Ilsa the She Wolf” dominatrices in Nazi leather uniforms, biker caps and fake peroxide blonde wigs with two braids. So more firepower was needed to the point where a normal person would have been shredded beyond fishing-net appearance.

          Question is how big enough was he that his body fat could have deflected most bullets.

          That’s the heroic Banderite propaganda we’re supposed to be hearing, at least until the Banderovtsy can get it straight 20 years after they’ve been put on trial and jailed for his murder.

      • yalensis says:

        This youtube video shows the Right Sektor mob (temporarily) leaving Parliament, but promising to return on Friday to storm it some more. (Like Salome, they demand Avakov’s head on a platter.)

        Check it out at :13 seconds in, it’s none other than Simon Ostrovsky from Vice News, strolling down the boulevard with his neo-Nazi pals.

    • marknesop says:

      Mmmmm…They just can’t get enough revolution over there, can they? I see they showed up with plenty of their favourite fuel – tires – they must be planning a barbecue to celebrate Halloween coming 8 months early.

      What’s the guy in the military camos got on his shoulder badge, around 12 to 15 seconds in from the start? It’s really hard to read, but it almost looks like it says “Sector” (CEKTOP) in yellow. They don’t actually have military-style uniforms already, do they? They have their own insignia, but it’s black and red with white lettering.

      Thanks for posting this; I doubt you’ll ever see it in any mainstream media outlet. It would be distracting from the narrative of this…what did Anders Aslund call it, in The Moscow Times? Oh, yeah – a “democratic breakthrough”.

  6. apc27 says:

    Definitive confirmation of what, I think, we have all predicted: Putin’s job approval ratings break the 80% barrier.

    http://wciom.ru/index.php?id=459&uid=114759

    http://www.levada.ru/26-03-2014/martovskie-reitingi-odobreniya-i-doveriya

    Numbers that put to rest some of the crap peddled by so many in the West, including even semi-sensible people like Mark Adomanis:

    1. Putin’s support base is not “soft”. 60% of Russians have been solidly behind him through all of the economic and political troubles of the past few years. If anything it is the opposition to his rule that is soft, as according to GfK and Assosiated Press poll his negatives in 2012, 13 years after coming to power stood at measly 14%:

    http://inosmi.ru/infographic/20120704/194484600.html

    Allowing the other 86% to easily consolidate behind Putin when he is obviously in the right, something we are seeing now.

    2. His fall in popularity did not come as a result of the “creative class” abandoning him. That same group of people disliked the Olympics and disagrees with his actions in Crimea and thus they cannot be the source of his rising popularity now, just as they could not be the source of his falling popularity then. There are just too few of them. Far more likely that its the people who consider Putin too soft, that abandoned him then, but who back him now, in other words, exactly the group whose actions the West should definitely NOT cheer along.

  7. Kulobi says:

    The ‘government’ in Kiev is either afflicted by acute schizophrenia, or riven by factionalism to the point of utter dysfunction.
    Parubiy keeps saying that “every night, every hour, an attack on the territory of mainland Ukraine may take place”. http://www.unian.net/politics/901401-parubiy-kajdyiy-chas-mojet-proizoyti-ataka-na-territoriyu-materikovoy-ukrainyi.html
    Sergei Pashinskii, acting head of Turchynov’s administration, ventriloquises that “reports of the imminent aggression and possible attack in the coming days constitute an ‘information attack'”. http://lb.ua/news/2014/03/27/261041_blizhayshie_dni_vtorzhenie_ukraine.html . The situation on the border is stable, and everyone who disseminates panicky rumours is an ‘agent of influence’ of the Russian Federation.
    There appear to be quite a few of such agents on the Capitol Hill and in the White House at the moment.
    As Mark suggests above, the revolution continues to unfold, and the democratic breakthrough is getting deeper and deeper.

  8. astabada says:

    I don’t speak Turkish, neither I am able to tell whether the voice of Davutoglu sounds believable.
    Therefore I submit you the links:

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-03-27/here-youtube-false-flag-attack-syria-clip-erdogan-wanted-banned

    http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1s15hj6

    Allegedly Davutoglu has been caught conspiring a false flag attack to justify a war againts Syria.

    That would be the reason why Erdogan has recently banned Twitter and Youtube in Turkey

    If you read the article to the end (or just read the end of the article) you’ll find that Erdogan has allegedly confirmed the leak, calling it “immoral”.

    • yalensis says:

      Wow! This is huge!
      I don’t know anything about Turkish politics, could this be the end of Erdogan’s career? I hope so!

      • yalensis says:

        May I just add one ironic musing:
        When youtube/Twitter etc. came into being, Americans crowed that all this new technology would benefit them and their “pro-democracy” friends. For example, colour revolutonaries using Twitter to organize events that would bring a pro-American puppet government into power. Americans just assumed that the new technology and the hip “youth” would always be on their side.

        What they ignored is the other side of the equation, which is that once any weapon, or tool, is invented, then it can be used by the other side as well.

        So, here we have an example of youtube and Twitter being used to propagate unpleasant truths about the odious American puppet, Erdogan.

      • astabada says:

        I would not be so sure: after all free journalism is not among the top ten reasons why to visit Istambul. Erdogan has a tight grip on the country press, I am sure he will survive this too – much like he survived the al-Qaeda-banker scandal.

        What is surprising instead is that he did not deny the authenticity of the tape. As a sea-dog of politics, I would expect that Erdogan denied any evidence: after all, the more compelling the evidence, the stronger the denial has to be…

        His previous cracking on the military might have something to do with this beatiful leak.

        My take is that if Turkey goes to war againts Syria alone, they will take a beating they’ll remember for a long time. Including re-ingniting turmoil in Kurdistan, probably for good.

      • marknesop says:

        Erdogan’s one saving grace is that Turkey’s economy has done very well under his rule; I researched it once because I wanted to say the economy was terrible under Erdogan but that’s not the case. However, his rule has been extremely oppressive and he does not want to talk about human rights or freedoms, he doesn’t have time for that stuff and believes what the public needs in a leader is a decisive strongman. An authoritarian, not to put too fine a point on it, and western democracies looking for bad copy on what a scurvy dog he is would be confronted with an embarrassment of riches. They’re not, of course, because Turkey is a compliant ally when they are looking for someplace to stage an attack out of and need basing rights, and is in an obvious strategic hotspot on the Bosphorus.

        The mainstream media will have to cover this to some extent, they can’t just ignore it, but they will probably try to soft-pedal it in a way that is supposed to make you feel sorry for Erdogan, that he’s just basically a good guy who made one tiny mistake. They wouldn’t contribute to taking him down unless they had another even more venal and bigheaded successor waiting in the wings. Incidentally, who is his strongest challenger for the leadership?

        • Jen says:

          Initially Erdogan’s leadership was good and he seemed to be a genuine democrat in spite of misgivings some people had about his AK Party’s agenda. He resolved the conflict with the Kurds in SE Turkey and allowed them to use Kurdish in public and media broadcasting. He also made some noises about acknowledging the 1915 Ottoman Turkish mass killings of Armenians. But some of the political and economic reforms he made early on might have been done merely to satisfy the conditions the EU insisted he meet for full EU membership which in the end never materialised. Once Erdogan realised the EU had no intention of admitting Turkey as a member, his political reforms stopped.

          Turkey’s economic growth under Erdogan has been hailed by the IMF but most of that growth seems to have come from construction projects. It’s no coincidence either that Erdogan’s son-in-law is head of Çalık Holding A.Ş which owns companies in construction, textiles manufacturing, energy, finance and the media across Turkey and Albania. In fact the leaked phone calls that have highlighted corruption in the Erdogan government involved the son-in-law.

          http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-01-05/erdogan-eye-on-crazy-projects-links-turkey-scandal-to-builders

          Last year’s demonstrations which spread across Turkey were originally sparked off by a public protest in Taksin square in Istanbul against a planned shopping mall and a museum made up to resemble an Ottoman army barracks to be built in a neighbouring park. People were protesting against over-construction in Istanbul at the expense of green space and the park was the last major area of green space left in Istanbul. No idea though if the son’in-law’s company would have had anything to do with the project that people were demonstrating against.

  9. yalensis says:

    Here is Gazeta story on Right Sektor storm of Rada building yesterday.
    Recall that a mob of around 1000 neo-nazis broke some windows and tried to bust down doors. Chanting “Revolution”, they demanded the dismissal of self-proclaimed “Interior Minister” Arsen Avakov, whom they accuse of whacking their hero, Sashko Biliy.

    First self-proclaimed President Turchynov went out to talk to the radicals, he told them they should disperse and go home. They responded to hm by chanting “Ganba!” (Ukrainian for “Shame!”)
    So, Turchynov went back into the building.

    Next the self-proclaimed “Deputy Speaker” of Parliament, Ruslan Koshulinsky, went out to reason with the mob. They didn’t listen to him either, and Koshulinsky remarked that Avakov was still performing his duties and had no intention of going anywhere.

    Next, Vitaly Klichko (aka “Klich”) came out to talk to the mob. Apparently he (or somebody) promised them that the Rada would take up the investigation of Sashko’s untimely death.

    The mob eventually went home, but promised to return the next day (Friday, which is today).
    However, as soon as they left, the Rada went into extended session to debate whether or not to outright ban the Right Sektor party. Most people leaned towards doing this, but Tahnybok (leader of “Svoboda” party) couldn’t make up his mind. Self-proclaimed Chief of Security Andrei Parubiy came out in support of Avakov. Avakov himself, whose head the radicals want to see on a platter, issued the following stern warning:

    “To those who find a pretext to fight with weapons in the center of the capital, who are not wearing the uniform of Ukrainian soldiers who are at their posts fighting against the separatists; those types need to understand that the correct name for them is: Traitors.”

    • yalensis says:

      But wait, there’s more!

      Turns out it wasn’t “Right Sektor” neo-nazis who attempted to storm Rada yesterday.
      It was actually crafty Titushki hired by the Kremlin!

      At least, that’s what self-proclaimed Ukrainian President Turchynov says, so it must be true.

      Another version is given by Igor Mazur, leader of the Kiev cell of “Right Sektor”. He says the Rada was stormed by a rogue Right Sektor faction which had already been expelled from the party. By the time Igor and his comrades got there, the windows to the building had already been broken, and he had nothing to do with that.

      Igor adds primly that he condemns such violent actions as storming buildings and breaking windows.
      Such things are not done in civilized nations.

    • astabada says:

      Right Sector (ops, I meant Sektor – I too prefer masculine, martial k‘s over rounded, effeminate c‘s) does not seem to understand the situation. This time around, they have no big friend watching over their shoulder. They have been indeed useful to overthrow Yanukovich, which the Ukrainian people (slava b.u.t.) could not have achieved on their own.

      However they have ceased to be useful, because armed thugs are useless if they have their ideas. I bet that this time around, the police (should I use quotation marks around police?) will enforce the rule of law (again, quotation marks?). After all, the Night of the Long Knives is the fate of every aKtivist.

      On a more serious note: have you read the latest joke from the Saker’s blog? Here it is:

      Putin is watching TV. Calls up his Chief of Intelligence: “Give Tyagnibok a medal for banning the use of Russian in Ukraine. What do you mean he isn’t one of ours? Ok, give Yarosh a medal for the idea of blowing up Ukrainian gas transit lines. What do you mean, that’s his own doing? How about that cretin Lyashko? How about those cretins from Svoboda—Miroshnichenko and others? So, DO WE HAVE ANY AGENTS ON THE GROUND IN UKRAINE AT ALL?! Where the hell are they? What the hell do you mean they bought a dump-truck of pop-corn and a tanker truck beer and are watching it like a movie?!!!” Hangs up in disgust. Calls again: “How could you let Muzychko get killed?”

      It is a really meaningful joke, and certainly explains the present situation.

      • yalensis says:

        Ha ha! great joke!
        but more seriously, is Saker implying that the astronauts were NOT raped by Martian maniacs? I thought that bit was true!

      • yalensis says:

        And on the issue of Right Sektor outliving their usefulness to the crooked leaders of the Maidan, here again is that appropriate Russian proverb:

        Мавр сделал свое дело, мавр может уходить.

        “The Moor has done what he was supposed to do, now the Moor must leave.”

        Turns out it’s NOT a Russian proverb, as I said above, sorry (so, it is a LITERARY ALLUSION), it comes from a play called Die Verschwörung des Fiesco zu Genua by Friedrich Schiller.
        The play (which I haven’t read, sorry) is about a guy named Fieschi who conspires to overthrow another guy named Andrea Doria, in the Italian city of Genoa.

        Apparently, there is a Moor involved, who is NOT Othello.

        So, apparently, this Moor is just being used as a tool by the other conspirators, a means to an end, and as soon as he does what he is hired to do, they expect him to just go away.

        • marknesop says:

          The Italians used to have a warship – a cruiser, a real beauty, the Italians know how to build beautiful ships – called the ANDREA DORIA. She was one of two; the other was the VITTORIO VENETO.

          • kirill says:

            Italians have very fine taste. Their car designs (Lamborghini, Ferrari) and their classical architecture are amongst the best.

            • marknesop says:

              Not to mention their clothes and shoes. I’ve mentioned before the Italian ground-attack fighter pilot I was on course with in the UK, Ciro Tuffo, (if I recall rightly, a discussion on that occasion established that “Ciro” was the Italian equivalent of “Kirill”) and the time some of the class went out for a pub crawl in Pompey. Ciro showed up in a suit and shoes that, while understatedly elegant, clearly cost more than most of us made in a month, and made the best-dressed of us look like farmers out for a night on the town in their work clothes, with straw in their hair. He was a handsome young man anyway, with the kind of wide-shouldered, narrow-hipped build that suits tailor-made clothing, but still – clothes make the man.

              The Italians are artists in many things, although their beautiful cars are second mechanically to German engineering, and their watches and cameras leave something to be desired.

    • marknesop says:

      Ha, ha! No way to get the genie back in the bottle now, boys! And if the army is all away at the border going eye-to-eye with the red horde, then who’s to fear if they disregard what the kangaroo government says about not carrying weapons any more and doing what they are told? I’m sure one group which is raising an eyebrow at this is the businessmen in Kiev who volunteered to donate money to clean the capital up after the shitheap the Maidanites left it in, once they saw the mob last night dragging out more car tires.

      Are we on the verge of civil war in Kiev as the illegitimate government tries to gather the shreds of its legitimacy around itself and purge its ranks of the bully-boys who brought it to power? If they believe they must strike now because Right Sektor is weak for the present with Sashko Biliy gone, they reckon without Yarosh.

  10. astabada says:

    Another unrelated article, which touches en passant the Ukrainian golpe.

    It tells the story of a bloodless golpe in Ausralia, which reminds me of the financial golpe in Italy, which led to the demise of Berlusconi. I should probably mention the the author of the article is the revereed John Pilger – probaly one of the greatest journalists living.

  11. yalensis says:

    In his press conference, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych lays it out the way it was, here is rough translation of that part of Yanuk’s speech:

    “Everybody knows that the future of Ukraine was decided far away from her borders and most definitely not by democratic methods. The overthrow of the legitimate government was planned in the West as an action well beyond the bounds of international law; and Ukraine is not even the first example of such scenarios.
    “The leaders of the Maidan came to power on the shoulders of Nazi thugs. Thousands of bully-boys armed with sticks, getting a taste of power and blood, then began to spread out into all the regions of Ukraine, attempting to establish their ‘new order’, via robberies, murders, looting, gangsterism, and by so doing fulfilling the orders of the competing clans within the top echelons of the Maidan.
    “Action of these armed ‘centuries’ combined with incompetent government [of the new power] instantly evoked a reaction within the people – and Crimea was lost.”

    In his press conference, Yanuk also called for referendums throughout the regions of Ukraine.
    Yanuk is apparently still clinging to the notion that Ukraine can be salvaged (as a sovereign state) via referendums and federalization. [probably too late for that, sadly...]

    • marknesop says:

      Yanukovich cannot lose by hammering on the point that incompetence on the part of the present unelected government lost Crimea to Ukraine, because that is just a fact and no amount of barking on the part of the Anglospheric press or airy-fairy speeches about freedom and democracy from Barack Obama can disguise it.

  12. Fern says:

    A glimmer of good news – Rads is out! The next Secretary-General of NATO is tipped to be Jens Stollenberg, the former Norwegian PM.

    http://voiceofrussia.com/2014_03_28/NATO-countries-reaches-agreement-on-Stoltenberg-as-next-secretary-general-2797/

    And of all the Putin jokes doing the rounds, I think my favourite is ‘Putin on the Ritz”

    http://cluborlov.blogspot.co.uk

    • marknesop says:

      That’s huge – the Americans and British thought Sikorski was a shoo-in. We’ll have to wait for the actual announcement, of course, but Cristina Odone will be so disappointed. Whoever Stollenberg is, he can’t possibly be such a thigh-tingler as Radek in his motorcycle leathers.

      Speaking of Cristina Odone, here’s a photo of her when she was younger. Not that much younger; it came from an article she wrote called “How to Meet and Marry a Man After 40″, but I have apparently reached my quota of free articles this month and am not allowed to see it, or I would have linked it. Anyway, I included it just to illustrate that even when he was relatively young, Lucas was as weedy-looking and dissipated, the picture of someone who grew up next door to a nuclear reactor, as he is now. Odone, on the other hand, was quite pretty.

      • Al says:

        I seem to recall that Stoltenberg (Stollen is a german cake I think) is a semi-decent bloke who might have worked for the UN during the Balkan crisis and had more than a modicum of credibility.

        Was Radek ‘vertical take off and landing’ Sikorsky really such a shoe in? I would guess that politically his huffing and puffing over the Ukraine had put him on the outside track, especially if NATO’s new policy is not to deliberately p*ss off Russia in future and appear more conciliatory. I think Putin’s comments about NATO expansion may have finally hit home. Anders F**k Rasmussen not exactly Mr. Diplomat and very much an on message ‘American man’. The bigwigs want a steady hand and I think Stoltenberg (and the german cake) are very steady.

        Just my 2 cents worth.

        • marknesop says:

          I thought Sikorski was on his way not so much because Odone swooned so over him, but because he has been positioning himself for this appointment for at least the latter quarter of his political career, and seemed to have attained the requisite endorsements from world leaders. His wife has been energetically lobbying for him in Washington since, well, forever, and he appeared to want it more than, say, the presidency of his own country.

  13. Al says:

    Unlikely bedfellows:

    The EU IS to blame for Ukraine crisis, says Farage as he accuses Lib Dem MEPs of extremism
    UKIP leader Nigel Farage today claimed today the Liberal Democrats are part of an “extreme” group determined to expand the borders of the European Union at any cost.

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/467404/The-EU-IS-to-blame-for-Ukraine-crisis-says-Farage-as-he-accuses-Lib-Dem-MEPs-of-extremism

    “…He said: “I don’t support Putin. I don’t like what he’s done, but I do understand if you provoke him, he will behave like that.

    He stated: “Now what we see in Ukraine is the result of an absolutely stupid, almost imperialist EU policy, that says like all empires it wants to expand and expand and expand.

    “It’s given false hope to all those predominantly Catholic western Ukrainians, leading them to rise up, topple their own democratically-elected leader.

    “If you poke the Russian bear with a stick, he will react.” …”

    It’s a strange day when nutty right wingers are calling it right and the mainstream politicians are so totally off the mark. Sure the DE is a right wing rag, but its relevance is that the right wing is doing rather well across Europe. As pointed out in comments earlier by someone else, such views are widely reflected in the comments in papers such as the Daily Fail and elsewhere.

    There is a substantial public feeling that Europe & the US picked this fight and it is now crying because it didn’t pull it off. Despite what the PPNN (Pork Pie News Network) of cooperative ‘free’ media running on all the large, established channels say, skepticism is at an all time high. People simply do not automatically believe the bs they are being told.

    • astabada says:

      It’s a strange day when nutty right wingers are calling it right and the mainstream politicians are so totally off the mark. Sure the DE is a right wing rag, but its relevance is that the right wing is doing rather well across Europe.

      Brace yourselvels guys, because right wing parties are about to raise everywhere in Europe. Socialdemocrats have bought entirely the EU ideology, and will have a hard time explaining their supporters future cuts in jobs, pensions, services – pretty much everything. Liberasts, whose electoral base partly supports the EU austherity measures, have no solution to exit the economic crisis.
      The far right in contrast, is full of radical ideas that will appeal the people (regardless of their effectiveness): tariffs, immigration, state subsidies, …

      In the near future, the people that voted for the centre-left will opt for more radical left-wing parties, like Syriza in Greece. I don’t need to tell you that they will be disappointed again, after which some of them will jump over the centre and land outright on the other side. Others will stop casting their vote.

      • Al says:

        Yes, we are in for even more ‘interesting times’, the upcoming European Parliament elections and probably a consolidated left right split and whatever reforms for the EU that will be foisted upon european citizens probably without their say. Again.

      • marknesop says:

        Hopefully, Ukrainians will remember when reality starts to bite that Putin promised $15 Billion without strings attached so far as I am aware (although it is possible the pipeline network would have acted as security in the event Ukraine could not pay the money back) and had already delivered the first $3 Billion within days, which the triumphant unelected kangaroo government promptly blew and now Ukraine is dead broke. All the shiny promises from the EU have failed to translate into any money at all yet, and when and if they do the country will be held to a hard line of austerity which will mean the average person’s life is not going to get any easier and likely a good deal harder.

  14. Al says:

    Hilariously, Obama now demands that Russia must pull back troops from the Ukraine border! (BBC)

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26787051

    Sabre rattling by Obama because nothing else makes any sense. Even if it presages a new tactic by the US (supported by Europe?) to seize the initiative and win some face by forcing a fake crises to get Russia to pull back from its own borders face some sort of action (more sanctions?), it would be a very weak one to sell or even believe – that Russia should follow US demands on where it can station its own military forces in its own country.

    OTOH, the West is desperate for any kind of quick victory and are clearly off balance (which is exactly what the Kremlin wants). What’s happened to his propaganda department that is has got this bad? Have they lost the will to live?

    Meanwhile he continues with his comedy gold:

    “I think there’s a strong sense of Russian nationalism and a sense that somehow the West has taken advantage of Russia in the past, ” Mr Obama said. “What I have repeatedly said is that he may be entirely misreading the West. He’s certainly misreading American foreign policy.”

    Mr Obama said the US has “no interest in circling Russia” and “no interest in Ukraine beyond letting Ukrainian people make their own decisions about their own lives”.

    That’s exactly what the West & the US has done. He makes the same claims about not containing China but has the Asia Pivot. It is literally unbelievable that he can say any of these things with a straight face unless he has been kidnapped by aliens and replaced with a programed clone or is trying to take over the late Steve Jobs’ Reality Distortion Field and using it in his own favor. He has more chance of finding trilithium crystals for his warp reactor.

    Everyone knows that Western ‘promises’ mean nothing*

    *Only ‘Trust and Verify, Biyatch!’

    • Al says:

      He should write a book. He probably will. It will be in good company with the many other shite ones on the bookshelf about Russia. It’s good to vent when you are powerless wooly liberal who wants Russia to be a nice cuddly bear that you can kick, poke and gouge at will without the risk of being swiped by the bear’s paw. He’s got Caucasus Stockholm syndrome along with quite a few others!

      Funny to read that his “most recent book is The Last Man in Russia, detailing the demographic decline of the Russian nation” is entirely based on an imaginary projection and Russia’s demography has in fact stabilized – even off his rocker Adomanis thinks so!

      And you did note that he is ‘Caucasus editor at the Institute of War and Peace Reporting’. Guess where IWPR came from?

  15. Al says:

    Business makes its case:

    BloombergBusinessweek: Growth at Risk as Ukraine Adds to Fears; Economist Puts Global Recession at 10%

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-03-28/global-growth-at-risk-as-ukraine-strains-add-to-known-unknowns


    In short, there are multiple factors that individually pose not much risk, but combined, possibly due to a actions triggered off in the Ukraine, would cause all sorts of problems for the West.

  16. Al says:

    Here’s a ‘Bugger me, it’s made it to the NYT’ article:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/27/opinion/a-tortured-policy-toward-russia.html

    A Tortured Policy Toward Russia
    By IAN BREMMER

    “…But Washington’s rhetoric is dangerously excessive, for three main reasons: Ukraine is far more important to Vladimir V. Putin than it is to America; it will be hard for the United States and Europe to make good on their threats of crippling sanctions; and other countries could ultimately defang them…”

    • marknesop says:

      He makes an excellent point in that article – that Russia has subsidized Ukraine to the tune of some $200 – $300 Billion since 1991 in gas deliveries, and that with a Russia-unfriendly government in Kiev, that burden will be lifted just as the west is trying to put the financial squeeze on Moscow.

      • kirill says:

        The deciders who run NATO probably think Russia will keep on subsidizing Ukraine. They may have some reason to believe this since Russia kept on subsidizing between 2004 and 2010. This is why Russia needs to be decisive and heartless in its actions. Any softness is automatically treated as weakness by the psychopaths running the show in the west.

  17. Al says:

    Hi Mark, what happened about your ping-pong (that went private) with that guy who about the position of gays in Russia and gay marriage? Any chance of a brief overview?

    I just though of it because I saw this which is very interesting:

    Brian Sewell: Why I will never be converted to gay marriage

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/10729717/Brian-Sewell-Why-I-will-never-be-converted-to-gay-marriage.html

    “…What is the marriage of two men or two women other than a public declaration of their partnership, a natural, secular and universal institution almost as old as civilisation? What then are the differences between marriage and a civil partnership? None, if they take place before a registrar in a registry or other authorised setting; only if Christianity is involved is there any distinction…”.

    He makes quite a few points other commenters here have made over various threads.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Judging by the absence of any LGBT comments concerning Banderastan, persons of “non-traditional sexual orientation” there must be living in a “gay” paradise – I don’t think.

      Why was there no Rainbow Flag on the Maidan?

      Why was there no “Gays Against Yanukovich” faction there?

      Are all Khokhly “straight”?

      Are all or most or some or no Khokhly “homophobes”

      These questions demand an answer NOW!

      EU dumps gays, says Ukraine can have visa-free travel without “non-negotiable” LGBT non-discrim guarantee

      Gay Guide to Banderastan

    • marknesop says:

      Nothing much came of that at all; he seemed a nice chap, well-educated and well-spoken, and we did exchange long and detailed messages privately, but I gave it up after his response to my rebuttal because I could see that seminal events reported in the world news did not have the same significance to us both at all. For everything I cited which I felt substantiated my viewpoint, he would respond that it “simply proved his point”. Since we were polar opposites – well, nearly; my position is that nobody cares unduly these days if you are homosexual provided you exercise the discretion which is expected also of heterosexuals when in a public setting, while his position appears to be that any restrictions placed on just spontaneously gaying out regardless the setting are an intolerable burden, and that if two men are not permitted to french-kiss one another in public then that society is repressive and not free – it is impossible we could have such dissimilar viewpoints but the same event could support both our beliefs. Pardon me if I appear to be putting words in his mouth, because to the best of my recollection he never put it exactly like that – that is just summarizing my impression of his beliefs from what he did say. I could see that we were never going to reach any significant common ground, and so I dropped the conversation.

      • Al says:

        Fanks for filling us in, so to speak! ;)

        Rhetorical question, but do maximalists ever accept that they they might not have the best answer?

  18. Moscow Exile says:

    And Kosovo only left Serbia after a referendum was organized not outside the boundaries of international law, but in careful cooperation with the United Nations with Kosovo’s neighbors. None of that even came close to happening in Crimea.

    Obama read these words of his tele-prompter at the EU/US Summit at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. The words were more than likely written by some person or persons the US State Department, which is pretty damning evidence of incompetence or ignorance or outright mendacity or all three:there was no</I Kosovo referendum.

    Dr. James Kerr-Lindsay, a Senior Research Fellow on the Politics of South East Europe at the London School of Economics gave his comment to Breitbart, London on Obama’s gaffe:

    I think one must assume that this was indeed an error. However, it really does seem to be an incredible mistake to have made. Surely there must have been someone at hand who would have known that there was no UN organised referendum in Kosovo. It really was not that long ago.

    See: Obama falsely claims Kosovo secession involved UN-backed referendum

    So Obama is a posturing, narcissistic bullshitter who hasn’t a clue about what he’s pontificating.

  19. marknesop says:

    Comically, after announcing what it was willing to pay for gas from Russia – which if I recall correctly was the new discounted price and no more – Ukraine now announces it intends to raise the rate Russia pays to transport gas to Europe through Ukraine’s pipelines. That’s when Ukraine is in arrears for payment on its own domestic supply of gas – from Russia – by at least a year.

    Plainly, the Kiev kangaroo government is daring Russia to shut the gas off, hoping thereby to ring in Europe’s support when they panic. Roll on the completion of South Stream, so Ukraine can be cut out of the distribution network altogether, and meanwhile Europe should be aware Ukraine is trying its utmost to drag it into war with Russia.

    • kirill says:

      Russia needs to declare force majeure on all gas contracts for gas shipped via Ukraine. Any cost imposed by the regime in Kiev needs to be instantly passed along to Ukraine and any other consumer. Considering that the gas pipeline infrastructure was built by the USSR and not Ukraine, all these ad hoc transit prices are just extortion. It does not take billions to operate the pipeline network and Ukraine isn’t exactly investing vast sums in upgrading the pipes and pumping stations.

      There is a reason why natural gas is not sold for next to nothing. It is a finite resource and is running out. So any claim that the price Russia asks for its gas is ad hoc simply does not fly. Ukraine can check out the price charged by Norway if it wants to know what goes on in the real world and not in its welfare bum fantasy.

      • marknesop says:

        They are just trying to provoke Russia into some action which can be construed as being against Europe as well as Ukraine, because the illegitimate cabal in Kiev is desperate for support and their worst fear is that the appetite for sanctions – never more than equivocal – will fade away altogether and there will be acceptance that Crimea is a part of Russia. It is important for the Kiev phony government that Russia remains a common enemy, because that is its best chance to get money. And, as Ken’s post demonstrates, that could turn into wealth for the well-connected as well as a good investment for outside agents, although it’s doubtful that ordinary Ukrainians will see any benefit.

        • Fern says:

          And the Ukrainian provocations go on. Ukrainian energy minister Prodan has also written to the EU’s energy commissioner saying that if negotiations with Russia ‘go bad’, then that fairly large chunk of Europe not supplied by North Stream should prepare itself for Russia turning off the taps. Clearly he believes – and no doubt has been encouraged in this by western sponsors – that Ukraine can dictate the terms on which Russia supplies it with gas because Russia’s a bit stuffed since it can’t stop Ukraine’s supply without affecting its other customers. Did Ukraine’s new leaders have to fail an intelligence test in order to get appointed? How criminally stupid are these people to go out of their way to alienate Ukraine’s main trading partner that’s subsidised the country to the tune of billions?

          http://voiceofrussia.com/2014_03_29/Russia-is-not-interested-in-a-new-gas-war-with-Ukraine-analyst-1556/

  20. Fern says:

    Some tiny glimmers of sanity. Obama and Putin have spoken for about an hour on Ukraine with Putin suggesting ways the US/EU/Russia might cooperate to stabilise the situation:-
    “The Russian president held a phone conversation with Barack Obama to discuss possible scenarios of stabilizing the chaotic social and political situation in Ukraine. Putin once again highlighted the ongoing extremism rampant in Kiev as well as other regions.
    The leaders spoke for about an hour on Friday, discussing the situation in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin drew Obama’s attention to the continuing acts of intimidation against civilians as well as government and law enforcement agencies conducted by extremists in Ukraine, the Kremlin said in a statement.
    In this context, the Russian leader proposed to President Obama to consider possible steps that the international community can take to help stabilize the situation.”

    Meanwhile, Ambassador Churkin is also talking a lot of sense (why oh why are all the grown-ups on the Russian side?). Speaking to the press after a closed UNSC session;-
    ““Someone must seriously think through what they are doing and the consequences of certain actions they are advocating,” Churkin said. “Our international partners insist that the only way out is to have this presidential election on May 25. In a situation of political chaos in the country? What will be the effect of those elections if some of the regions do not participate or turnout is very low in the course of those elections?”
    Russia keeps insisting that Ukraine needs a constitutional reform before any elections could take place that would be both legitimate and relieve the chaotic situation in the country.
    “There is no political leader in sight who might be able to unite the country. All the politicians one can hear about are extremely divisive for the Ukrainian society,” Churkin explained. “The other thing that is going to come up in the next couple of months is most likely dramatic decline of the living standards of people, because of IMF package which now has been proposed to them.”

    http://rt.com/news/churkin-un-obama-putin-977/

    • marknesop says:

      It is remarkable, too, that the side talking about relief for ordinary Ukrainians and about their welfare is consistently the Russians. Obama and the EU leaders speak about concepts such as freedom and democracy as if they were some sort of mantra, but Ukraine was already free and democratic, and consequently these high-flown ideals do not mean much to those worried that they will have to tighten their belts and take a cut in lifestyle just when some were expecting bounty and prosperity.

      It’s positive, I suppose, that the USA realizes a solution for Ukraine is impossible without Russian involvement, and Obama can have his little victory in speaking to Putin of de-escalation, as if he were the first to have thought of it. If it suits him to play the peacemaker, God knows he needs a victory at home, because for the past weeks he has been flailing. It is only a matter of time before the EU follows suit, although it will be difficult for the pugnacious Cameron and his pint-swilling buffoon Hague to climb down after talking so tough, and doubtless Laurent Fabius will have some sort of seizure, but he mostly talks as if he is not right in the head anyway, so likely nobody will notice much of a difference.

  21. marknesop says:

    Oh, hey – remember those KamAZ trucks that were stolen in Ukraine? They were intercepted, in a convoy bound for Kazakhstan and in the temporary custody of Right Sektor, and recovered.

    • kirill says:

      Good piece by a real journalist. I saw a comment on some board listing the characteristics of psychopaths. The western elites act and talk like psychopaths.

    • kirill says:

      All the morality and concern for due process only applies to western bootlick regimes. Overthrowing democratic governments who do not have their lips welded to NATO’s ass is perfectly fine in the warped western mindspace. Just consider the overthrow of the democratic Iranian government in the 1950s. The USSR is gone, but the USA and its minions are still fighting the cold war.

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