Fear and Loathing Behind the Faith

Uncle Volodya says, "It is better to be a failure at something you love than a success at something you hate."

Uncle Volodya says, “Animals don’t hate, and we’re supposed to be better than them.”

If there’s a rule in international relations (and there isn’t, I’m just saying if there were), it would be, as soon as somebody starts sermonizing about how all-good they are and how all-wicked someone else is, buy defense stocks. Relentless demonization of The Other is a pillar of regime-change efforts and, basically, any occasion upon which persuasion and threats have not worked and a country or group of countries has elected to escalate to force.

This has now become so de rigueur in the business of image management – “catapulting the propaganda”, as George W. Bush once said in an unusually candid moment – that many of us have learned to look for it as an early sign of destabilization efforts that might lead to war. That’s because when governments develop a trick which is astonishingly successful (as many are the first time they are used), they tend to do it exactly the same way until it is a disastrous failure. A few people noticing it is a trick is considered just the cost of doing business, so long as the majority falls for it.

An early example, and the blueprint for colour revolutions to follow, was the ramp-up to the Kosovo War in the late 90’s. Slobodan Milosevic was made to appear the embodiment of earthly evil, the kind of Beelzebub used to frighten bad children who would not go to sleep. As western journalists have learned to do much more skillfully since, owing to practice, atrocities were projected onto Milosevic that he had not in fact done at all, but which had been done by the western-backed KLA (originally listed as a terrorist organization by the USA, then de-listed without explanation). I well remember the daily outpouring of contempt and loathing for Milosevic, and I was right there with them, because I believed every bit of it. It’s a terrible thing to be a fool, but it’s far worse to be a fool all your life, and I hope I’m less one now than I was then.

I’d like to think the public as a whole is getting harder to fool. But an overlooked element in the miscasting of enemies as savage, cruel and fully deserving of being cut down by the forces of enlightenment…is religion.

For many, the alacrity with which the Pussy Riot affair was seized upon by the west as an opportunity to bash the Orthodox Church as intolerant, stuffy and backward was a revelation. I mean, isn’t Christianity…Christianity? Apparently not. Despite very little difference in overall philosophies, the Catholic Church broadly does not recognize the Orthodox as being the same religion. Neither recognizes Islam, although of the two, Orthodoxy gives it more of a break in the belief that Islam (and Baha’i) are wrong because they deify men who claim to be greater than Christ. Catholicism regards Islam as a “false religion” and does not hold the Quran to be true.

To what extent does demonization of the opponents’ religion contribute to the overall impression of him as brutish, cruel and incapable of higher emotion, and consequently deserving of conquest? That varies, of course, with the religiosity of the society, but it seems possible if not probable that a core of belief lies within us all, requiring only the proper appeal to it in order to harness it for the part it can play in manipulating what we think and why we think it.

I’m a little out of my depth with both theology (being about as non-practicing a Christian as you are likely to find) and Serbia, as the latter was a conflict which took place during my blinkered unquestioning NATO booster stage of development. So I asked reader Patient Observer to write up a discussion of the part religion plays in modern conflict. He in turn subcontracted the effort out further, and I hope you will be as delighted with the result as I was – take it away, boys.

The Orthodox Other

By Gray Falcon, Patient Observer and Anonymous

November 2013

“It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation… We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.” – V.V. Putin, The New York Times, 9/11/2013

With a few exceptions, analysis critical of U.S. foreign policy since the end of the Cold War skirts around the Balkans. Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya – all these adventures are fair game. But on the former Yugoslavia, there is only silence. This phenomenon was first observed back in 2005, but has persisted to the present day.

Supporters of “humanitarian” imperialism (aka “weaponized human rights“) don’t have that hang-up: they mention the Balkans frequently, citing it as a major success story of their “liberal” interventionist agenda. But places like Bosnia and Kosovo are only “successful” on a relativistic scale calibrated around Iraq and Afghanistan.

The reason that Washington’s efforts against the Serbs in Yugoslavia were not a military disaster (though they were far from a triumph) is that the Serbs – accused of being Nazis reborn, brutal, savage and ruthless – did not respond to NATO occupation with IEDs, suicide bombings and terrorism. Instead, they resorted to politics and non-violent protests. Considering the demonization, international isolation, two campaigns of aerial terror, and pogroms, this can only be described as remarkable restraint.

Why such hostility towards the Serbs, then? One compelling argument is that in the early 1990s, in search of a new purpose after the Cold War, both the West and militant Islam desperately needed a villain – and the Serbs became available. For a variety of actors – American imperialists, European revisionists, Muslim fanatics – the Serbs made the perfect Other. Moreover, the attack on Yugoslavia dovetailed nicely into the ongoing demolition of Russia well underway at the time.

To those nostalgic for the Islamic Caliphate, the Serbs are vile infidels who started the chain reaction against the Ottoman Empire, culminating with its expulsion from the Balkans in 1912. To the Germans, they are the obstinate obstacle to victory in two world wars; the first trophy Hitler claimed after conquering Yugoslavia in 1941 was the plaque honoring Gavrilo Princip, the 1914 assassin of Sarajevo. To the British Empire and its modern American heir, they are the surrogate Russians, a people too difficult to control and disruptive to interests of London’s (and later Washington’s) Hapsburg and Turkish allies.

This has quite a bit to do with the West’s relationship to Orthodox Christianity, which can be traced to the schism between the Church and the Bishops of Rome, over a thousand years ago. The supposedly influential Christian Right in America has hardly made a peep about the horrific persecution of Christian communities – Orthodox Serbs and Antiochians (Syria), Chaldeans (in Iraq), Copts (in Egypt) – by US-backed Muslim regimes or rebels. Few, if any, voices were raised against the systematic destruction of Orthodox shrines in occupied Kosovo, Iraq and by the rebels in Syria.

Simply put, Catholicism and its spin-offs in the West do not consider the Orthodox properly Christian. Hence the American evangelical missionaries going to “build the Church” in places like Decani – where an Orthodox monastery was established in 1327, long before America was discovered by Europeans.

Western Europeans – Catholics, Protestants or secularized descendants of both – have always seemed to harbor a common attitude towards the Orthodox Europeans (Serbs, Russians, Romanians, Greeks, and even Bulgarians). Even while fighting the Muslims – from the Seljuks, Arabs and Mamelukes of the Crusades, to the Ottomans later – the West continued trying to crush the Orthodox, sometimes even prioritizing it (e.g. 1204).

The philosophical underpinnings of Catholicism and its derivatives are fundamentally at odds with Orthodox Christian values. Catholicism owes much of its worldview to the Roman Empire, even having a semi-divine ruler (a.k.a Pope). The Catholic religion and its derivatives worship a God more interested in punishment than in love and forgiveness, reflected in the high importance of the Old Testament in Catholic dogma. The importance of this difference cannot be overstated to those who plan and promote empire.

After the Serbs had fought to a bloody draw with the Turks in 1389 – with both rulers dead and the Turks abandoning the field – attacks from the Catholic kingdom of Hungary forced them to bend the knee to the sultan. Hungarian hostility also doomed the resistance of Serbia in the 1450s, and Vlad Tepes of Wallachia in the 1460s.

After the 1683 siege of Vienna was broken, Catholic armies surged east, but were ultimately defeated by the Turks in Kosovo. A number of Serbs, who had counted on Austrians as liberators, retreated with the Imperial army (the first “Great Migration”) to avoid Turkish reprisals. They were settled along the Military Frontier (Vojna Krajina). But even as Emperor Leopold I guaranteed them freedom of religion in exchange for military service, as soon as the Turkish danger would recede, Catholic pressure would reappear.

“Just as those who embraced Islam made for the cruelest oppressors of their remaining Christian kin (with a handful of very notable exceptions), so did the Catholics converted through Austro-Hungarian pressure turn to hatred against their Orthodox roots. In the 19th century in particular, once the Principality of Serbia successfully wrested a modicum of liberty from the Sultans, Vienna encouraged an anti-Serb, Catholic identity amongst its southern Slavs. After going through Illyrian and Yugoslav phases, this identity was eventually shaped by by Ante Starcevic, a vicious anti-Serb and anti-Semite, and labeled “Croatian.” (source)

But while the Catholic Czechs were unwilling to fight for Austria-Hungary, the Croats led the way in atrocities against Serbian civilians during the 1914-15 campaign and the subsequent occupation.

Serb leaders involved in the creation of Yugoslavia in 1918 did not understand that those who identified as Croats and Muslims did not consider the Serbs their kin, but rather their inferiors. Becoming Catholic (in Austrian-held lands) or Muslim (in Turkish-held lands) meant escaping the life of oppression and contempt in which the Orthodox Serbs were held by both empires.

From the day it was created, the kingdom of Yugoslavia faced constant hostility from the Croats, backed by the Catholic Church. No amount of appeasement by Serbian officials helped. When the Axis forces invaded, in April 1941, Croats set up their own “Independent State” and proceeded to mount an organized campaign of mass murder against the Serb and Jews (in that order). Croatia had an operational death camp complex a full year before the Nazis decided to embark on the “final solution” at the Wannsee conference. Catholic clergy, from individual friars to the Archbishop of Zagreb, Aloysius Stepinac, openly backed the Nazi Croatian state. Over 1,000 Catholic clergy committed mass murder with their own hands.

Yet almost all of this first chapter of the Holocaust was covered up in 1945, to enable the creation of the second Yugoslavia, under the Communist Croat Josip Broz Tito. While Tito’s regime did persecute some Nazi Croatians (aka Ustasha), his principal obsession was containing, dividing and weakening the Serbs. Tito’s cover up of the Serbian Holocaust explains why this event, though 10 times the magnitude of the Spanish Inquisition, remains virtually unknown outside of Serbia.

Adopting the Austrian talking points, the Yugoslav Communist Party came out against the “greater Serbian bourgeois oppressors” as early as 1928, and upon seizing control of Yugoslavia in 1944 – with British and Soviet backing – proceeded to make the Nazi carve-up of the country their own. Close to a million Serbs were murdered by the Ustasha during WW2, but Tito decreed moral equivalence between the genocidal Croat regime and the royalist resistance of General Mihailovich, declaring them both “traitors and collaborators”. This even though Mihailovich remained steadfastly loyal to the Allied cause even after his abandonment by the British, while the Ustasha were loyal to Hitler from day one.

Many Nazi and Ustasha murderers were rescued by the West using the “ratlines” operated by the Vatican. Covering up the Catholic Croat genocide of Serbs served to bolster the credibility of the Catholic Church as a pillar of Western moral superiority during the Cold War. Saving the Catholic Church for the Cold War actually explains the otherwise seemingly baffling British decision to back Tito and betray the Serbs (or rather, the royal Yugoslav government). Used to wielding hard power, Stalin did not understand “soft power”, and underestimated the Catholic Church (“How many divisions does the Pope have?”). So he was caught off-guard when in 1948, Tito broke off from the Comintern and positioned Yugoslavia as officially neutral, but friendly to the West. Unwilling to antagonize Tito, Washington even kept secret the Legion of Merit (posthumously) awarded to General Mihailovich for his efforts in rescuing over 500 Allied airmen. The rescue, Operation Halyard, was likewise classified. When Slobodan Milosevic brought up the suppression of the Serbian Holocaust, and amended Serbia’s constitution to make it equal with other parts of Yugoslavia, he was attacked by both the revenant Croat nationalists, and the West. Once again, the Vatican – under the Polish-born Pope John Paul II – led the way in backing Croatian separatists and calling for war on the Serbs. In 1995, a US-backed Croatian regime finished what the Ustasha started in 1941, expelling almost all the Serbs from territories claimed by the Croatian state.

The NATO and Albanian occupation of Kosovo (1999-present) is also linked to the suppression and denial of the Serbian Holocaust. WW2 Albania had a similar position to Croatia among the Axis satellites, and the Albanians persecuted and murdered the Serbs of Kosovo with impunity. After the war, Tito not only suppressed the facts about this persecution, he banned the Serbs forced out of the province to return, and confiscated their property.

The West’s insistence on separating Kosovo from Serbia has less to do with ethnic Albanians laying claim to the province, than with the understanding of Kosovo’s importance to the Serbs. Accepting the “reality” of an independent, Albanian Kosovo has the same objective as denying the million victims of the WW2 Serbian Holocaust: submission, control, and abandonment of the Orthodox faith, Serbian identity, and ultimately Serbian independence.

Thus we arrive at the present, and the approaching centenary of the Great War. Historians in the Anglosphere now seek to project the blame for the war on the Serbs and the Russians, so the former foes in London, Paris, Washington, Berlin, Vienna and Ankara can all reconcile against the true Other. Already, Western Europe no longer celebrates the defeat of Hitler, preferring to call it “Europe Day” and extol the virtues of a German-led EU instead.

And while the EU is insisting on Serbia unconditionally surrendering and recognizing the Albanian-occupied Kosovo as an independent state, it does nothing to stop the ongoing persecution of the remaining Serbs in Croatia – left over from the US-backed campaign of ethnic cleansing in 1995. Clearly, “European values” apply to some – e.g. Catholics, Protestants, atheists and Muslims – but never to the Orthodox Other.

The 1999 attack on Serbia, however, had one major unintended consequence. Russian outrage over NATO’s aggression, combined with a remarkable resistance by Serbia, brought about the end of the Yeltsin regime and the ascendency of Russian patriots led by Vladimir Putin. Within a few years, what seemed like a terminal decline of Russia was stopped, then reversed. Meanwhile, Western triumphalism got mired in the sands of Afghanistan and Iraq. Two months ago, when Russia and China successfully stopped the attempt to invade Syria, it was a true turning point in international relations.

Judging by the comments on Vladimir Putin’s 9/11 op-ed in the New York Times, Americans have seen past their politicians posturing, and heard Putin’s essential admonishment: it is vice, not virtue, to demand everyone else to obey the rules, while considering oneself exempt from them.

Yet the struggle against this tyrannical “exemptionalism” cannot truly succeed until its forgotten chapter – the genocidal crusade(s) against the Serbs – is addressed, and set right.

Editor’s Note: The following material was added as a sort of “Part II”, on the same subject, because the authors felt it would clarify some issues under discussion. It might also be described as footnotes.

The West’s 70 year long war against Serbia began as the winners and losers of World War II became obvious by late 1942 – early 1943, when the British realized that a Soviet victory was a certainty and that the post war political landscape of Europe would see the Red Army occupying much of Catholic Europe. Thus began the largest covert intelligence operation in WW II history – destroy an entire nation of innocent witnesses to history greatest crime. Because of the crime’s magnitude and the ultimate guilty party, the Roman Catholic Church, deception became the strategy for the cover up. Make the actual guilty (fanatic Catholics and Muslims) nameless, make the real victims (Serb Orthodox) guilty.

“It is an irony of history that Tito should have been the creation of the capitalist democracies of Great Britain and the United States. His movement, even at its height, was a minority that had won itself the active hostility of the mass of Serbs, Croats, and Slovene peoples. By arming the movement, by providing it with the services of the BBC and American radio, by converting the democratic press into a propaganda agent for it, by sending Allied officers into Yugoslavia to be used as propaganda exhibits in its recruiting efforts, and finally cloaking it in their own enormous moral authority, Great Britain and the United States made themselves directly responsible for Tito’s rise to power”. From the “Web of Disinformation, Churchill’s Yugoslav Blunder” by David Martin.

Yes, the decisive role of the UK/US in bringing Tito to power in Yugoslavia is universally acknowledged, but was British and American support for Tito a blunder or a mistake as David Martin and many Serbs believe or was it the oldest strategy of warfare – the enemy of my enemy is my friend?

Military deception was as old as warfare itself, but it is doubtful whether any military command ever employed deception as a fundamental tool of strategic planning as completely and rigorously as did the British did during World War II”. General Eisenhower aptly concluded, “they (the British) resorted to every type of subterfuge”.

From Deceiving the Deceivers by Samuel J. Hamrick

It was Gen. Eisenhower who insisted that Draza Mihailovic receive America’s Legion of Merit, its highest foreign recipient military award.

In A Genius for Deception, Rankin offers a lively and comprehensive history of how Britain bluffed, tricked, and spied its way to victory in two world wars. As he shows, a coherent program of strategic deception emerged in World War I, resting on the pillars of camouflage, propaganda, secret intelligence, and Special Forces. All forms of deception found an avid sponsor in Winston Churchill, who carried his enthusiasm for deceiving the enemy into World War II . From A Genius for Deception: How Cunning Helped the British Win Two World Wars by Nicholas Rankin

[President] Roosevelt asked him [Yugoslav Ambassador to the US Fotic] on December 20, 1941 “How, after such horrible crimes we could expect (the Serbs) to live in the same state with the Croats”. And on an earlier occasion he [Roosevelt] had said, “it would be for the Serbs to decide what sort of community they intended to retain with the Croats after the war”.

 Hamilton Fish Armstrong told me [Ambassador Fotic], “We never understood his [Churchill’s] enthusiasm for Tito and his conviction he could get Tito away from the Russians”. From the “Fall of Yugoslavia” by Ilija Jukic

As US Army Colonel Robert McDowell pointed out, Stalin tried several times from 1942 until early 1944 to have the British send a Soviet mission to Mihailovich and help prevent the war between Chetniks and Paritasns. Molotov told Eden (British Foreign Minister), in November 1943 at the end of the Tehran Conference “I would rather send our mission to Mihailovich than Tito to find out more information on events there”.

 In January 1944 General Kornevv who was sent as Chief of Soviet mission to Tito, asked Bill Deakin who was sent in May 1943 as the first British mission with Tito, why were the British helping Tito when the Soviets had no confidence in the military worth of the Partisans and consider Mihailovich resistance as the only group of some significance … at the time, Deakin said “I thought Korneev must have believed that we were helping Tito because of some secret political motive”. From a speech by Nikola R. Pasic May 15, 1993

 “According to Edvard Kardelj, prime minister of Yugoslavia under Tito, Stalin exerted pressure on the Partisans “to reach an understanding with the Cetniks at all cost and set up a joint army under the command of Mihailovic”.

In mid 1942, however something strange happened to change Soviet policy towards Yugoslavia. In one way or another the supercautious Stalin must have received intelligence that it has become safe to break with Mihailovic without endangering the relationship with Churchill. Indeed, the abrupt and dramatic manner in which the change occurred strongly suggest that the Soviet government must have possessed intelligence leading it to believe, even at that early date, that Churchill could be persuaded on his own, to backing Tito. Certainly Stalin was in no position and would be in no position before the Red Army entered in Yugoslavia, to assist Tito materially.

It can be taken for granted that one of the factors of Stalin’s decision was the almost irresistible prospect of brining Soviet power to the shores of the Adriatic, thus achieving the age old Russian dream of access to war water seas. One would have imagined that an old war horse like Winston Churchill, no admirer of Bolshevism and accustomed to think in strategic terms, would have understood the basic implication of this switch in Soviet policy. But he did not. – from The Web of Disinformation; Churchill’s Yugoslav Blunder by David Martin

Poor David Martin and Stalin, they both took the British bait that Churchill supported Tito because his forces were killing more Germans. And who was the source of the phony intelligence that changed Stalin’s mind from supporting Mihailovic to Tito? Why, none other than the British themselves. And poor David also wants us to believe that Churchill couldn’t see that he was handing Yugoslavia to the communist. David, that’sexactly what Churchill wanted to do with Yugoslavia – hand it to the communists.

 Churchill said to Maclean,” do you intend to live in Yugoslavia after the war, Maclean answered, “No”, Churchill replied, “ neither do I, the less you and I worry about the form of Government they set up, the better.” From “Eastern Approaches” by Fitzroy Maclean.

It was a win – win for the British. If Tito did as the British expected and let “Brotherhood and Unity” cover up the Serbian Holocaust, then that’s a win. On the other hand, if Tito acted as a true communist, then the British would propagandize that “look, Tito is a communist attacking the Catholic Church, therefore it’s all just communist propaganda and not to be believed”, another win. However, given Serbia’s WWI contributions to the Allied victory and its WW II, March 27th revolution that stunned the world, and Mihailovic’s early war fame, its world wide acclamation and reservoir of good will would give any Serb charges against the Catholic Church enormous credibility. So, the British needed to prevent a Serbian Orthodox victory at any cost by destroying Mihailovic’s credibility. What really concerned the British, as we will see, was the world to come after the war. A Serbian pawn would be sacrificed to save the Roman Catholic Queen for the coming chess game of the Cold War.

The British were in a position along with the Americans (but not the Soviets)to know all of the facts on the ground concerning the Serbian Holocaust and the role of the Catholic Church right up to Pope Pius XII. They also realized after Kursk there would be a divided Europe and a long ideological struggle with communism and that propaganda and claims to moral superiority (given the experiences of capitalism producing two world wars and the Great Depression in the first half of the twentieth century) would be crucial for victory. Simply put, the British and Americans feared a Serbian Orthodox victory in Yugoslavia would lead to Serb retribution and justice which would very likely lead to the downfall of the Papacy and perhaps the entire Roman Catholic Church at a time when the Soviet Union enjoyed immense prestige for its role in defeating Nazi Germany, and at a time when the masses of Europe where shifting radically to the left.

In other words if the Vatican was exposed as complicit in mass murder, if Pius XII was in the defendant box at Nuremberg, most of Western Europe may have gone communist by free elections. The cover up of the Serbian Holocaust by Tito and the West was precisely the “secret motive” that the Soviets couldn’t figure out.


In defense of my loyalty to you, I am hopeful that I may deviate from strict military protocol so that justice might prevail, and for this reason I hasten to write about an incident which I personally went to inspect which happened three weeks ago. Upon visiting the District of Stolac, Chapljina and Ljubinje I was informed by one of our intelligence officers that Pavelic’s Ustashi, on a previous day, had inflicted some sort of crimes in the village of Periodic (a Serbian village in Bosnia) and that if it became public, the local Serbs would anew become disturbed and agitated.

I lack the words with which to write about what I had discovered there in a large classroom. I discovered the massacre of a teacher and 120 of her students. Not one of the students was older than twelve years. It was a crime, an improper and indecent word that surpasses all insanity. Many of them were decapitated and their heads lined up on the student benches. The intestines were pulled from the slashed stomachs by the Ustashi and like New Year’s streamers stretched across the ceiling and nailed to the walls. …

The criminals first all took turns in raping the teacher and later killed her in front of the children. During this time a gypsy orchestra was forcibly brought in and was forced to sing loudly songs and beat upon the stings of the guitars… To the eternal shame of our Roman Catholic Church – one man of God – a parish priest participating in all of this.

The massacre of Serbians has reached such proportions that many sources of water supplies have been polluted. I can personally vouch for this because I have seen a well in Popovo Polje, not far form the pit where 4,000 Serbs were disposed of, that due to that, a well is discharging crimson water because of this pollution.

An indelible stain will fall upon the culture and consciousness of Italy, if we do not while there is still time, distance ourselves from the Ustashi and prevent that it could be written that we supported this madness” Italian Army General Alexander Luzana in a letter to Mussolini (from the Military Archives of the Second Occupation Army).

So, what to do, if you are the British and Americans? Like General Luzana, the British came to the same conclusion, but went Luzana one step further. They must prevent not only that it could be written that the Catholic Church was involved in the Serbian Holocaust, but that it didn’t happen. At stake was the very survival of the Roman Catholic Church. An instrument the British knew was absolutely vital to the Cold War. The Catholic priest who participated in the mass murder described by Luazna was not an isolated individual, but rather all too common in the Independent State of Croatia. The late Serbian Holocaust research Dr. Milan Buljaic has meticulously documented the name of over one thousand Catholic priest, monks, and seminarians that committed mass murder. So what options do the British have? Really they have only one. You create in the form of Tito, a force that is: one, anti Serb and two, entirely dependent on the West for its survival. And this is the reality behind Anglo American policy in World War II Yugoslavia. They supported Tito not because his forces were killing Germans, they supported Tito because the British knew Tito’s partisans were killing the Serbian Orthodox resistance. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, the oldest strategy in warfare and for the British, looking ahead to the Cold War, see the Serbian Orthodox resistance movement of Draza Mihailovic as their real enemy.

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1,350 Responses to Fear and Loathing Behind the Faith

  1. Misha says:

    With a respectful difference of opinion on the crowd figure stated in the first sentence, this article is intellectually superior to Anna Arutunyan’s JRL promoted piece:


    RIAN isn’t the only place where positive change will improve things.

  2. kirill says:


    This is outright meddling. The internal legal process should and must govern Ukraine’s politics and not whims of foreign interests. These interests pose like they are humanitarians but clearly they are not. And spare us the crap about the “crisis” in Ukraine. Some militant minority parading on the streets does not establish any justification for extra-legal government makeovers. Each one of these western countries refuses such extra-legal action and has laws designed to suppress sedition.

    In the case of Ukraine you have a western media circus where every little thing is blown up into an epic event. There were protests in Spain recently where there were 600,000 people on the streets. This beats anything in Ukraine hands down but was basically ignored by most of the western media and specifically the anglophone media. Somehow the will of protesters is only important in places like Ukraine, Russia and elsewhere the meddlers don’t like or want to control. It does not matter how many protesters there or that they do not speak for the majority.

    • marknesop says:

      Unbelievable. More than outright meddling, the European Parliament is basically telegraphing the script to the Ukrainian opposition, and telling them what to shout for in the streets – new elections. They know quite well that if a snap election were held now, Klitschko might win if the opposition could unite behind him. They must be talking about Presidential elections, because the Parliamentary elections are the further away of the two and the Party of Regions would likely weather a snap parliamentary election held now.

      What in the fuck does the European Parliament have to do with Ukrainian elections, besides to announce its opinion after the fact whether or not it will recognize their legitimacy? Nothing, that’s what, but it is signalling the opposition that if it calls for new elections, Europe will back its demands with the usual media campaign. I imagine they’re gathering together their election monitors as we speak. If Yanukovytch refuses – and he will – Europe will portray him as afraid of the power of the people, and do whatever it can to keep them stirred up. It makes me grit my teeth to see them call for calm on the one hand, and to whip the protesters into a froth with its baiting and interference on the other. What a disgrace, what an utter mockery of sovereignty and the democratic process.

      I’m sure Yanukovych will not fall for it, but then again, I was sure he would not be such a fool as to allow the construction of a tent city on the Maidan again either, after he had quite a good opportunity to remark its effectiveness last time during the Orange Revolution. But, amazingly, he did, and now he is paying for it; one night in the cold without tents, and the people would have all gone home to mutter and grumble.

      He would be a complete idiot to agree to an election on Europe’s timetable, and the attempt to start a colour revolution in Belarus showed that the president must never give up the privilege of calling an early election to suit his own purposes – Lukashenko wrong-footed the colour revolutionaries by calling the election early, before they were ready, because he saw the signs. Yanukovych would of course be foolish to call elections now, but he might do it late next year if economic conditions improve. If he allows Europe to decide when elections will be held in Ukraine, he might as well establish a visa office especially for colour revolutionaries and foreign meddlers, because he will have ceded the initiative to them.

      If I were Yanukovych, I would take the fight to them; I would say, if you really want to help Ukraine, forgive our debts. Remember how the USA sent James Baker on a global mission to give Iraq a fighting chance at becoming a prosperous, western-oriented market democracy (I could say that phrase in my sleep now, and perhaps I do, I’ve heard it so many times; every time they get out the colour-revolution tickle trunk), and countries agreed to forgive Iraq nearly $120 Billion worth of debt ($12 Billion from Russia alone, a higher amount than any other G8 country and more than 3 times what the USA absolved) so it could start with a clean slate? Do the same for Ukraine. Russia would take a big hit again, but it’s money they are unlikely to get under the current circumstances anyway, and the IMF would blanch with terror at the notion of not getting their money back that was blown by Yushchenko. Yanukovych should propose it – keep your loan, we’ll manage somehow without it, but if you would just wipe out our debt, it’d be a big help, what do you say? You know the EU would not agree.

  3. Misha says:

    Vintage Coalson:


    Al Jazeera has also been big on saying that Yanukovych has moved closer to Moscow. Talk about zero sum game thinking. In the past, Russia has indicated a full and no partial acceptance of Ukraine into the Customs Union. Yanukovych hasn’t ruled out the EU AA, while not committing to the Customs Union. His faults aside, it’s not sheer PoR propaganda to suggest that he has put his country’s best interests at heart.

    The EU appears to have back pedaled as recently noted in this thread.


    On the subject of Russian-Ukrainian ties:


    Some here might get a chuckle out of this reply in the comments section:

    “Isn’t it amazing how fast the documents for an agreement with Russia can be approved but they could not complete the Association agreement with the EU on time!”


    Another gem from RFE/RL:


    I’m certainly against making RIAN into something which doesn’t fully address what the likes of Coalson, Sindelar and other RFE/RL staff people prefer.

    Not recognizing the otherwise evident biases at RIAN in its current state isn’t a fair and balanced overview. Then again, what can be reasonably expected of RFE/RL, given the slants it has shown over the course of time?


    Overly tilted, with A. Cohen saying the West is playing softball to Russia’s hardball on Ukraine:



    In contrast, this isn’t bad, especially when considering the venue:



    Re: http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21591589-viktor-yanukovych-has-made-his-choice-his-country-has-chosen-otherwise-goodbye-putin

    How about a goodbye to Mr. Lucas and an acknowledgement of thug like elements among the protestors?

  4. marknesop says:

    I literally could not believe this press release; I was speechless when I read it. Didn’t matter, there was nobody else in the room, but still.

    “The Ukrainian people have chosen Europe and not Moscow and while Russia may have legitimate concerns about the trade agreements of its neighbours – sabotage and blackmail is not acceptable. The Russian interests end where the Ukrainian people’s sovereignty over the choice of their own future begins.”

    Sabotage and blackmail is not acceptable? By Russia????What???!!! Has he not noticed the droves of western reporters and the actual no-shit EU and American political figures in his city? Has he not registered the intense EU lobbying to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat? Someone bring some warm water; this guy’s eyes are frozen shut.

    I see I am going to have to do a post on this, even though a great deal of excellent discussion has already taken place on it here, because the comments load is simply getting too big and the actions of the brigands in the EU are making me so angreeeee…

  5. Moscow Exile says:

    Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly

    Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly [video with synchronous English translation]

    Так говорил лукавый.

    Но избави нас от лукавого!

    Это все коммунистическая пропаганда!


    • yalensis says:

      Ukraine retaliates by putting Boris Nemtsov on a no-entry list.
      Poor Boris not even allowed off the plane in Borispol Airport.

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, that gesture won the USA worldwide respect and immediately brought the brutal Putin regime to heel, and now relations between the two countries are better than ever. Europe is certainly hoisting in all the right lessons.

      Except that Russia does not supply more than half the USA’s gas needs, going into winter. If Russia responds with a ban of EU officials, that’s going to make things uncomfortable. Good one, Bill (Browder).

    • cartman says:

      The original Magnitsky List is blatantly unconstitutional. The reason it hasn’t been challenged is probably because the people on the list do not visit the United States. The people who wrote the bill will claim that foreigners do not have rights under the US Constitution, yet they are claiming this is the jurisdiction of the US Constitution (it takes a lot of gymnastics to reach this non-logic). The same argument is used to keep prisoners in remand indefinitely in Guantanamo Bay.

      I wish someone on the list did challenge it because they could also kick the feet out from under this illegal prison.

      • marknesop says:

        Not to mention that it apportions guilt without the benefit of due process, and bans family members although they had nothing whatsoever to do with the death of Sergei Magnitsky and probably did not even know who he was. Yes, there’s a law that corrupt lawmakers everywhere can envy. What a great example of the rule of law, for those who are always squalling that other countries need it.

  6. AKarlin says:

    Victoria Nuland might have made the PoR oligarchs an offer they couldn’t refuse.


    Or maybe its a Kremlin and/or anti-Euromaidan provocation, so drastic and over the top its terms seem to be. But I really have no idea.

    Apparently, the PoR oligarchs’ (first and foremost, Akhmetov’s) assets abroad will be subjected to very close scrutiny unless they convince Yanukovych to:

    1) Announce early Presidential and Rada elections
    2) Free Tymoshenko
    3) Open criminal cases against Interior Ministry/Berkut officers who had participated in breaking up peaceful protests.

    Censor.net is a pro-Western Ukrainian Internet resource, the apparent source is someone “close to diplomatic circles.”

    • marknesop says:

      I can’t imagine any senior politician would fall for such a sucker play, since if they cooperate and bring, say for the sake of argument, a Klitschko government to power, the first thing it is likely to do is commence a round of anti-corruption investigations against those same politicians, since Nuland & Co. would tell them they are vulnerable and that it would make a fine bread-and-circuses show for the new electorate. The smart thing for anyone who has such vulnerable assets to do would be go to the phone immediately, and move them out of reach or liquidate them.

      • AP says:

        Or, Klitschko would go after other targets (there are many of them) such as the ones surrounding Yanukovich’s family and treat these ones like Putin treats Abramovich..

      • yalensis says:

        Nuland is a typical American politician: She is an uneducated ignorant ass, operating on cartoon stereotypes, rather than facts or subtleties.

        Somebody obviously told her that Yanukovych and his entourage are simply gangsters, like Don Corleone. Hence, she feels she can talk to them as if they were nothing more than Hollywood thugs: “So, we’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse, you slimey dagos… And if you don’t agree to snap elections, then Say hello to my little friend…” (rat-a-tat-tat = machine gun fire)

        I have no doubt that these Ukrainian politicians and oligarchs from Donetsk are quite corrupt and know how to feather their own nests while performing their official functions; but that’s not exactly the same thing as being simplistic gangsters or characters from Grand Theft Auto video game..

  7. peter says:

  8. Dear AP,

    Apologies again for my delay in reverting to you but I have given much thought to your points.

    1. Firstly, there is something I want to say, which I have previously discussed on this blog. This is that I am in favour of an association agreement between the EU and the Ukraine. I said this some months ago, well before Yanukovitch and Azarov pulled the plug on the signing of the association agreement currently on offer. The reason I think there should be an association agreement between the EU and the Ukraine is because so many people in the Ukraine obviously want it and there is no legitimate reason why they should not have it.

    2. However, I made that observation before I had actually read the association agreement that Yanukovitch was about to sign. Having read the association agreement, I feel strongly that it must be comprehensively renegotiated. The reason for this is that the association agreement is not a free trade agreement between the EU and the Ukraine as other association agreements the EU has with other countries (which I have also read) are. Rather the association agreement makes the Ukraine a member of the European Single Market notwithstanding that the Ukraine is not a member of the EU. The association agreement legally obliges the Ukraine to implement all EU regulations and directives past and future as interpreted by the European Court of Justice notwithstanding that as the Ukraine is not a member of the EU it has no say in the making of the EU’s regulations and directives. At the same time as the Ukraine must convert the whole of its economy to these EU regulations and directives all trade barriers having gone its economy will be open to all forms of economic competition from the EU. The resulting transition shock if this is ever implemented is going to be enormous, comparable to anything that happened in eastern Europe in the 1990s. Moreover the EU has made it clear that it is not prepared to provide transitional funding to smooth the process (such as Poland for example received through debt write offs and the EU structural funds). Furthermore and in contrast to Poland the Ukraine would have to go through this transition shock without the prospect of eventually joining the EU. The European Commission expressly ruled out that possibility on Wednesday.

    3. The blame for this with Yanukovitch. Let me make it clear that I have no more time for Yanukovitch than do you. He committed himself to the association agreement as part of the various deals he did to secure his election in 2010. He told the Ukrainian people that the association agreement is vital to the Ukraine’s future. However he obviously did not take personal charge of negotiating it and restricted information about the association agreement to a tight ring of people (the text of the association agreement only became accessible to researchers because of a debate in the European Parliament in May). Nor does he seem to have supervised his negotiators properly or even at all. Characteristically today he is blaming the negotiators for the mess he has himself created and is saying that he is going to have them all sacked. Yanukovitch then suddenly pulled out of the association agreement just a week before he was due to sign it (allegedly because Ukrainian industrialists told him how disastrous the association agreement would be) leaving it to Azarov to explain to the people why. He has remained largely silent since. He has delivered no public address to the people, given no press conference, has toured no part of Kiev or any one of the provinces and he has not addressed the Rada. When his riot police tried to clear Maidan Square on 30th November 2013 (which is no more than their job) he blamed his own police chief for the resulting trouble. He has since uttered barely a word of support for Azarov whom he has left to take the flak.

    4. Whatever this is, it is not leadership. It is little short of astonishing that in spite of this craven behaviour there have so far been few defections from his party and none from his government. If many are disgusted with him I can fully understand why.

    5. The trouble is that the opposition is failing in its basic duty to offer an alternative. It has still to unite behind a candidate for the Presidency though the obvious person is Klitschko. Worse it has made the serious mistake of embracing a revolutionary strategy for which there is little support in the country outside Galicia and for which there is no need anyway since the Presidential election is only 15 months away. Not only is a revolutionary strategy in such circumstances a bad idea in itself – threatening to pit the west of the country against the east – but it runs the very serious risk of putting jeopardy what ought to be the political strategy the opposition ought to follow, which is to close ranks and win the election in 15 months time. In saying this I should make it clear that I am not someone who rules out revolutionary acts in any circumstances. If in 15 months time Yanukovitch were to try to rig the election in his favour a protest of the sort we are seeing now would be justified. However to protest now when Yanukovitch has actually done the right thing by postponed the signing of the association agreement – something which he is fully entitled to do and which according to the opinion a bare plurality of Ukrainians think he had reason to do – is unreasonable and is already consolidating support for Yanukovitch in the east and south. It is striking if we go back to the opinion poll that though only 36% say they want to join the Customs Union, the number instantly jumps to 45% when people are asked whether they oppose EuroMaidan.

    6. Obviously if the revolution were to succeed the opposition would win an election held now. With every passing day without a breakthrough that is looking less likely. It is still not entirely impossible that such a breakthrough may happen. Nuland’s supposed threat to the oligarchs may push them to go against Yanukovitch, though I suspect their influence is exaggerated. There may be a major escalation in violence causing the security forces to split or lose control or the government itself may fall apart. Nothing like this has happened so far and gambling that it will happen is unwise to say the least. Besides gaining power through revolutionary methods creates medium to long term risks given how strongly that is likely to be resented in the eastern and southern Ukraine, which will see the President it elected deposed in what to many people will look like an undemocratic and unconstitutional coup. Given that elections are only 15 months away as I have said already these risks are disproportionate to any possible gain.

    7. Now just a few further points:

    8. I accept what you say about the flawed composition of the Rada, which we have discussed on Da Russophile. It remains however the country’s parliament. Ignoring the Rada is to embrace the revolutionary strategy, which is counterproductive and not working for the reasons I have discussed.

    9. The Ukraine was in no position to engage in a trade war with the Russians this autumn. The country is facing a growing payments crisis. In the event of a trade war default would have been inevitable leading to a gas cut off during the winter at a time when gas reserves have fallen to dangerously low levels. The economic crisis (for which Yanukovitch shares responsibility with Tymoshenko who utterly mishandled the 2009 negotiations with the Russians over the gas price formula) is continuing to mature. Dealing with that crisis is now the overriding priority and that unavoidably requires cutting some sort of deal with the Russians and doing so fast.

    10. It follows from this that in my opinion the following things now need to happen:

    (1) The association agreement must be urgently renegotiated. This time this must be done in an open and transparent way and the more moderate members of the opposition (Klitschko and Yatsenyuk) should be kept properly informed and be involved in what is going on;

    (2) There must also be negotiations with the Russians to ensure that their economic and political interests in the Ukraine (which are fully legitimate) and those of the Ukrainians are protected and are not put in jeopardy when the association agreement is signed. That may include some sort of connection to the Customs Union, which is by no means incompatible with the sort of association agreement the EU has negotiated with other countries and which it could agree with the Ukraine. This makes complete economic sense and is what a significant proportion of the people in the eastern and southern Ukraine want. The opposition (Klitschko and Yatsenyuk) should again be involved. The fundamental mistake Yushchenko made in 2004 and thereafter was that he did not come to a modus vivendi with the Russians. The Russians are the Ukraine’s most important creditor, energy provider and importer of its manufactured goods. It makes no sense to needlessly antagonise them especially when they have made it perfectly clear that they are fully open to discussion. Klitschko if he is to lead the Ukraine successfully must not make the mistake Yushchenko made.

    11. (1) and (2) are not incompatible. The problem with the present association agreement is that by making the Ukraine a member of the European Single Market it jeopardises the existing free trade arrangements the Ukraine has with Russia, the two being incompatible. A more balanced and realistic association agreement by avoiding or postponing the Ukraine’s entry into the European Single Market ought not to put the Ukraine free trade arrangements with Russia in jeopardy.

    12. There are the first possible glimmers of hope that some such way forward may be found. Klitschko and Yatsenyuk finally attended the round table today. Though nothing was agreed at least the two sides are now in contact with each other. Yesterday the EU backed off from its previous bone headed insistence that the Ukraine simply sign the association agreement without further discussion or alternation and agreed to discuss a road map instead. It is early days and things have not been helped by many of the things that have been said or the absolutist positions some people have been taking and the risks of things going wrong remain high. However if people start to behave rationally (good will being sadly absent) it should be possible to find a way out of this trap.

    • AKarlin says:

      Just wanted to say this is a very cogent and comprehensive summary, Alexander.

    • kirill says:

      Seconded on the quality of the analysis.

      Regarding point 9: beggars can’t be choosers. Ukraine’s 40% minority who want to stick it to the Russians (Moskali) at every opportunity also want cheap Russian gas. Ludicrous. I don’t see what is fundamentally wrong with the 2009 agreement. It gives Ukraine many breaks. Russia could just demand the full market rate with no bonuses. Of course, then Ukraine would try to jack up the gas transit fees to the EU via its territory. This may seem fair to the deluded but the issue is not transit but the actual cost of the natural gas. You don’t get it for free just because you have legacy Soviet gas pipelines on your territory; trying to get it for free is tantamount to highway robbery.

      Ukraine has been an epic disappointment for me. Instead of constructively engaging with Russia and developing its economy and recovering at the same time as Russia, it plays politics of the stick it to the Russians variety so much beloved by NATO. This indicates to me that Ukraine’s politics is driven by NATO meddling and not true internal interests. I do not believe that some impoverished region like western Ukraine can dominate the country’s political course. That would be like Appalachia determining the course of America, simply nonsensical even to consider.

    • AP says:

      Thank you for the thoughtful and very informative response. It is always a pleasure reading such posts by you. I actually do agree with most of what you write. A few points:

      ” The resulting transition shock if this is ever implemented is going to be enormous, comparable to anything that happened in eastern Europe in the 1990s. Moreover the EU has made it clear that it is not prepared to provide transitional funding to smooth the process (such as Poland for example received through debt write offs and the EU structural funds).

      Most Ukrainians – pro AA agreement Ukrainians – are aware of this. Poland did go through a shock in the early 90s (I remember poor Poles coming to Ukraine to make money). Ukraine didn’t, and it now is the poorest country in its neighborhood other than Moldova.

      “Worse it has made the serious mistake of embracing a revolutionary strategy for which there is little support in the country outside Galicia and for which there is no need anyway since the Presidential election is only 15 months away. Not only is a revolutionary strategy in such circumstances a bad idea in itself – threatening to pit the west of the country against the east – but it runs the very serious risk of putting jeopardy what ought to be the political strategy the opposition ought to follow, which is to close ranks and win the election in 15 months time.

      I agree that the demand for Yanukovich’s resignation and immediate presidential elections is excessive. He was elected freely and fairly and there is no doubt that his victory did represent the will of the electorate at that time (although, recall, it was a slight mandate, with less than 50% of the vote in a 2-person race). Moreover new elections are only 15 months away. So, although he is deeply unpopular and would almost certainly lose an election if it were held today, I don’t see calls for a new election to be very reasonable. I can only assume that it’s part of an initial bargaining position in the hope of a more reasonable solution, such as new parliamentary elections. Which brings me to a point of disagreement with you:

      “I accept what you say about the flawed composition of the Rada, which we have discussed on Da Russophile. It remains however the country’s parliament. Ignoring the Rada is to embrace the revolutionary strategy, which is counterproductive and not working for the reasons I have discussed.

      You seem to oppose new parliamentary elections. I do not, and here is why:

      The Rada elections were free and legal, but due to opposition stupidity/Party of Regions effectively playing the system, the party that got a minority of the votes ended up in very secure control of the Rada.* As a result, the parties who actually represented the wishes of the majority of the voters, have been shut out of the government completely. This is an inherently unstable situation and the ultimate underlying cause of Ukraine’s mess.

      If the elections actually represented the will of the people, the result would be an Opposition parliament and therefore a divided government. Instead, we have total control by a coalition involving a deeply unpopular president and parliament ruled by the losing (in terms of popular vote) parties. The next parliamentary elections aren’t until 2017. New parliamentary elections would solve this problem. It would give the currently powerless majority of the country a voice in government and, moreover, give the opposition ownership over the AA agreement that they want signed.

      It should also be pointed out that a possible scenario with the current parliament would be, if the 2015 elections seem lost, to transform Ukraine into a parliamentary republic, transforming the president into a figurehead, essentially cancelling out the opposition victory in the presidential race and extending the rule of the unpopular Party or Regions for another few years. There is actually a pattern of such actions.

      *An explanation for readers unfamiliar with the situation in the Ukrainian parliament: Fearing, correctly, its pending loss in the coming elections, the Party of Regions majority in the previous parliament implemented reforms that made the elections half proportional and half first-past-the-post. The opposition agreed to this, falsely assuming it would be united, although in their defense they acquiesced prior to the rise of Svoboda and Klitschko. In the elections, the opposition parties won the party-list vote healthily (49.97% to 43.18% – numbers don’t add up to 100% due to small parties such as Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine that didn’t clear the barrier)) but failed to take control over parliament because in the individual mandate elections which were first-past-the-post they each ran candidates that split the opposition vote. For example, a district in which the Party of Regions candidate won 30% of the vote but Klitschko, Yatsenyuk and Svoboda received 25%, 25% and 20% respectively is represented by the Party of Regions in the parliament, despite the opposition collectively winning in a landslide. This scene repeated across the country is why Yanukovuch has an allied parliament under his secure control. Was it opposition stupidity? Absolutely. Was it legal? Yes. But it is also not democratic and inherently unstable. Through gerrymandering the Republicans control the American House of Representatives despite losing the popular vote, but the House is at least limited by a Democratic Senate and President; it doesn’t have total control of the country to pursue its agenda.

  9. marknesop says:

    I’m picking up here because the thread above ran out of comment space – just a review, for those who may be unfamiliar with the format, comments are “nested” 8 deep. Therefore, if yours is the 8th comment in a thread, there will be no “reply” option attached to it.

    Anyway, picking up on Patient Observer’s comment regarding the unlikelihood that an EU-oriented leadership change would buff Ukraine’s moral compass and stamp out corruption. Is there any particular reason to think this might occur? Why? Has Europe enjoyed tremendous success stamping out corruption on its home ground? Not so you’d notice.


    That’s according to Transparency International, which as I mentioned is as pro-western an outfit as you are likely to find, considering it is funded by western industry and staffed with western think-tank denizens, so it must have hurt them greatly to have to stipulate to western corruption. At that, they only beat up on the traditional European whipping-boys – Portugal, Greece, Italy and Spain. It is generally thought impolite to point out that EU poster-child Germany, funder of huge swatches of Euros which are used to mop up the messes of other EU leaders, is one of only two countries which has yet to ratify (and thenceforth agree to be bound by) the United Nations Convention on Corruption (the other is the Czech Republic).


    Germany also was ground zero for a €2.5 Billion fine – a new record – awarded to German company Siemens for bribery and falsification of corporate records.


    Former French President Nikolas Sarkozy was implicated in a scandal which reported Sarkozy received campaign cash directly – as in hand-to-hand – from France’s richest woman, L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, at her home.


    Transparency International’s UK study, published earlier this year, revealed that 67% of those surveyed believed British political parties are corrupt, an incredible 90% believe the government is run by a few big entities acting in their own interest and 62% think government efforts to tackle corruption are ineffective. You can take those results with a grain of salt, because as I have often mentioned, Transparency International makes up its rankings based on “perceptions”, but this reflects the results of an actual survey, so complacency would not seem to be called for.


    Ukraine does not appear to be doing that much worse – the per-capita GDP has risen steadily since the global financial crash in 2009. That’s not the best measure, since it reflects total GDP divided by population and of course some are obscenely wealthy while many are dirt poor. Median GDP would be a better measure, but I could not find it for Ukraine. That notwithstanding, I think it is evident that the EU does not have a stake in cleaning up corruption in Ukraine.

    There was discussion earlier that EU association would see EU investment in Ukraine which would help Ukraine reform its business practices, that western business interests would spring up – bringing jobs for Ukrainians – and that new domestic ventures would take wing, benefiting from EU business know-how. That might actually happen, but it would require that Ukrainians be even more ruthless than EU businessmen.

    I hate to be a cynic, but here’s what I see as a far more likely scenario. The EU has been looking for some time for a way to grow its manufacturing base, in the face of murderous competition from China. China’s principle advantage, the one that allowed it to become the dominant manufacturing force on the planet, is its enormous pool of low-wage labour. What I think would be most likely to happen in Ukraine is that big western manufacturing concerns would move in, so there would be lots of jobs, but they would be almost all low-wage positions, and Ukrainians would find themselves working for foreign companies which would pocket significant profits in their home country, while domestic industry was crushed and wiped out. Since the profit margin would be directly dependent on wages paid out, there would be no incentive to raise them and it is preposterous to think big manufacturers will move in to Ukraine and then pay the same wages they would pay a European. They are looking to be competitive with China, and Europeans won’t work for Chinese wages.

    • patient observer says:

      Yeah, the EU wants to run out the Kwame Kilpatricks type of low life and replace with a much better breed of swindler.

      That is a good point about using Ukraine as a source of cheap but educated labor to exploit. Ukraine would be a throwaway country once it was wrung dry; when subsequent generations will not have that good education nor hope for a better life. The best and brightest (modern day Janissaries) would depart leaving a wrecked nation behind, sort of a scorched earth in reverse aimed against Russia. Or at least that is one possibility but hopefully not the likeliest.

    • AP says:

      “The EU has been looking for some time for a way to grow its manufacturing base, in the face of murderous competition from China. China’s principle advantage, the one that allowed it to become the dominant manufacturing force on the planet, is its enormous pool of low-wage labour. What I think would be most likely to happen in Ukraine is that big western manufacturing concerns would move in, so there would be lots of jobs, but they would be almost all low-wage positions, and Ukrainians would find themselves working for foreign companies which would pocket significant profits in their home country, while domestic industry was crushed and wiped out.

      This is, actually, pretty much how things started in Poland. Fortunately they didn’t end there. I don’t think they would end there in Ukraine, either.

      “Since the profit margin would be directly dependent on wages paid out, there would be no incentive to raise them and it is preposterous to think big manufacturers will move in to Ukraine and then pay the same wages they would pay a European.

      You are correct – they wouldn’t pay German or Italian salaries or whatever. But those companies could pay better than what Ukrainians make now and they would still do quite well for themselves. Again, this has already happened in Poland. Just look at FIAT, which despite a desperate struggle form Italian unions is shifting its production to Poland. :


      Polish workers make much less than what (northern) Italian workers make, but they make a lot more than they did prior to the Italians moving into Poland and a lot more than Ukrainians make. Polish workers retooled for working in Western companies at western standards, western companies moved in, Polish salaries rose alongside their skill level (while still much being lower than in the West, although cost of living is also lower), pool of skilled workers led to more investment, from this scene local industry capable of competing with the Western companies developed, etc. Poland did not get stuck in a permanent “dead end” of being merely eternal cheap labor for foreign companies. Why would Ukraine, whose population is no less educated or hardworking?

      Silesia is Poland’s Donetsk (both are industrialized areas with coal mines and factories and some of the highest incomes in the country outside the capital). In 2013 Donetsk’s average monthly salary was $472, in Silesia in 2012 it was $1,470. I suppose the industrial Urals might be a comparison-point – in 2013 in Yekaterinburg the average salary was $992 per month. If you were a worker in Ukraine, would you want to end up like someone in Silesia or someone in the Urals?

      I am not an economist – perhaps I am wrong – but I have seen what has been going on in Poland and it’s been good.

      • marknesop says:

        I am not an economist, either, and your points are sensible; I enjoy discussing them from a critical-thinking standpoint, and am taking the opposite viewpoint not because I think you are wrong about anything, but to see which argument can be better substantiated. Again, my interest is in seeing whatever is best for Ukrainians – I just happen to think the EU is not it.

        To that end, I notice the following according to guidance provided by the U.S. State Department: (1) Poland still rates below Russia as a country of interest for Foreign Direct Investment, despite all the caterwauling about Russia’s hideous human-rights record and its despotic leader and its deplorable treatment of gays, while Poland has bent over backwards to attract foreign investment, and treats foreign investors as nationals in all but a few fields which rate as national security issues; (2) foreign ownership of Poland’s banking sector is at over 70%, to the extent that some Poles are getting uneasy.

        As well they might, since here the Wall Street Journal is openly cocky about the fact that Poland now is unable to take back its banking sector, because to do so would risk government cash outlay which might inspire the dreaded “A” word – Austerity. Yes, Poles are making good coin in wages, but they essentially own little in their own country any more and they have ceded sovereignty to a multinational cartel which now effectively controls decision-making in the country.

        • yalensis says:

          When a nation loses its own banking sector, it loses its sovereignty.
          Also puts its entire population at risk of financial collapse.
          Suppose some Bernie Madoff type in some other country which doesn’t regulate financial sector – suppose he gambled a big chunk of Poland’s money on some crazy scheme that collapsed? Then Poland would be left without money.
          I think this is a real worry.
          One good thing in Poland’s favor: Their gold reserves are at the highest ever , with 103 tons as of 2010 (and presumably still there). This is a good thing. Poland should make sure that EU doesn’t get their grubby thieving hands on their gold. Remember how EU stole Libya’s $50 billion of gold, which disappeared without a trace into somebody’s coffers. (Probably Goldman Sachs.)

      • Jen says:

        Dear AP: The issue is not just about the possibility of the EU offshoring manufacturing jobs to Ukraine to take advantage of a cheaper labour pool that happens to be educated and possesses technical and engineering skills. The issue includes the fact that the association agreement that Yanukovych has balked at signing involves Ukraine agreeing to change some 20,000 standards governing details of its infrastructure including among other things changing its railway gauges (which would also require the complete replacement of all its locomotives and rail carriages and necessitate retraining all the country’s railway employees).

        Here’s part of a section on Ukraine-EU transport co-operation from the Mission of Ukraine to the European Union website

        “Since 1998 the Ukraine – EU transport cooperation is being regulated by the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) and is focused on restructuring, modernizing transport systems and networks in Ukraine, developing and ensuring compatibility of transportation systems with a view to achieving a more global transport system.

        In particular, according to the PCA the cooperation includes:

        – modernization of management and operations of road transport, railways, ports and airports;
        – modernization and development of railways, waterways, roads, ports, airports and air navigation infrastructure including the modernization of major [routes] of common interest and the trans-European links for the above modes;
        – promotion and development of multi-modal transport.

        One of the major [spheres] of cooperation is adaptation of national legislation to the EU norms and standards, in particular through the accession to the transport international conventions.

        A significant contribution to the abovementioned sphere of cooperation as well as to the upgrading of Ukraine – EU transport cooperation will be made as soon as the Ukraine – EU Association Agreement enters into force.”

        The EU-Ukraine Association Agenda also refers to a railway restructuring program
        on page 18 (http://eeas.europa.eu/ukraine/docs/eu_ukr_ass_agenda_24jun2013.pdf).

        Elsewhere on this comments forum, Alexander Mercouris has referred to the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement as requiring Ukraine to change or modify its standards to match those of the EU. Cost estimates of having to overhaul the technical and other standards are in the realm of 160 billion euros (US$219 billion) to 2017. Neither the EU nor Ukraine has this money even if only a drip-feed of 20 billion a year were required. In addition there are new rules governing sanitary procedures, customs, intellectual property rights and international cooperation in many spheres including the military sphere that Ukraine would be expected to meet and those also cost money.

    • kirill says:

      I do not think that the EU would actually invest in production based in Ukraine. I don’t think Ukrainians are prepared to work for a dollar a day. Also, they can be politically agitated once such a regime is established. So there is no stability for any such 3rd word industrial enterprise.

      The most likely case is that this is classic mercantilism. Ukraine is a market for value added goods and an exporter of resources. Resources are food, soil and whatever else the developed countries need. Mercantilism never went away.

      • marknesop says:

        That’s true, but in order to be consumers of EU goods the people must have jobs.

        • kirill says:

          But they do not have to have developed level wages. It’s a net gain for the mercantilists whether Ukraine retains some industry or loses it all. There will be some fraction of the population that will be able to afford EU products. Traditionally, the targets of mercantilism have been poor countries and colonies.

          • marknesop says:

            Precisely. Which is why I see large-scale manufacturing moving into Ukraine, employing Ukrainians at low wages but still better than they were making before, to provide the salaries which will allow them to buy better-quality EU goods, which will force domestic industries out of business – especially if the internationals get control of Ukraine’s banking sector as they have in Poland and seize control of fiscal policy. At the same time, low-cost Ukrainian labour is producing EU manufactured goods for global sales, at a profit increased by reduced labour costs, which is China’s current advantage.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              I remember how during the so-called “Celtic Boom” there was massive investment in the Irish Republic. Amongst the investors was Hewlett-Packard, who set up shop in the city of Limerick in the far west of Ireland.

              The good times rolled in – and then the bubble burst. HP got ready to pack its bags and leave.

              The mayor of Limerick and that city’s population and the Irish government petitioned HP to stay, offering the firm the usual incentives, but all to no avail.

              HP moved to Poland.

              Next stop for HP the Ukraine?

            • kirill says:

              As long as China retains its cheap labour there will be no chance for Ukraine to fill the role of sweatshop. It’s an economic non-starter. For example, take Mexico, there was a surge of plants opening up after the free trade deals of the late 80s early 90s. Things were going great in northern Mexico. What do you have today? More poverty and drug wars and the maquiladoras went to China. Sorry, but I cannot see Ukraine being a choice vs. China. Ukraine has the wrong type of corruption and its “lazy Ivan” workers will not put out like the Chinese workers. Ukrainian workers have expectations for wages and working conditions which make them totally uncompetitive with Chinese workers if your company is out to exploit cheap labour. This is a legacy of the USSR which was quite developed in spite of western propaganda blather.

              Moscow Exile mentions HP. There simply no possibility for any electronics production in Ukraine by western transnationals. There may be some boutique technology research lab or some indigenous technology niche that will be bought out and operated by western corporations and likely moved offshore later if the market for it grows.

                • patient observer says:

                  Did you read the article? Seems more of a consolidation to save a struggling facility and NOT a sign at all of a superior economic environment. Regarding Polish employment levels:
                  25+% youth environment (and growing) is another worrisome sign. Since Romania has snapped up most of the waiter jobs and strawberry pickers (and worse) Polish youth seem to have few options.

                  If this is the best the EU can do for its favored nation, Ukraine’s prospects are indeed bleak if the EU has its way.

                • AP says:

                  No, it was expansion. The Fiat plant in Poland was more productive and cheaper, with higher quality product, than the one in Italy, but Italian unions pressured the Italian government to pressure Fiat, so Fiat had to cut down a little in Poland for the sake of Italy (these actions in Italy may, btw, lead Fiat to relocate to Detroit). But Fiat has moved its Mexican work to Poland.

                  Of course, VW, GM, Volvo, Toyota also work in Poland.

            • AP says:

              As part of this cycle however, many of the domestic industries which would run out of business would become the producers of the higher quality EU goods that Ukrainians, with more income, would be buying. The cycle is not a negative one. Also, it is not as if the current arrangement benefits the Ukrainian people – the locally (oligarch-owned) industries aren’t exactly spreading the wealth around. From the perspective of a Ukrainian worker, money going to corporate offices in Stuttgart or Turin isn’t worse than money going to some oligarch’s account in Vienna or Cyprus, especially if the bottom line for the workers means more work and more pay.

              • marknesop says:

                This assumes that foreign industry will, out of a sense of paternalistic duty, build up its competitors and help them flourish. Where have they ever done that? Where has Wal-Mart ever nurtured smaller local stores and attempted to teach them the intricacies of bulk retail? I’m curious, because I have always seen them crush the Mom-and-Pop businesses in their area of blight.

                • AP says:

                  No, but if there is a large pool of skilled educated workers in a particular field, other employers, including eventually emergent locals ones, can draw from that pool. It’s how Detroit is full of auto manufacturers and countless parts manufacturers who contract to the big three, it’s the case with Silicon Valley, etc.

                • marknesop says:

                  I started a comprehensive reply, but I am a sloppy typist (2 fingers, like The Demigod Navalny) and I frequently smash the wrong combination of keys and delete my own comment, as I did in this instance; I was responding to your comment about Fiat moving to Poland. So I say again; so what? Is Fiat a Polish national company, despite its being referred to as “Fiat Poland”? No, it isn’t. Do the profits realized contribute in any meaningful way to the Polish economy, aside from salaries? No, they don’t. Wait – they might. Fiat might have to pay something in the way of taxes to the government, I’m afraid I don’t know.

                  Poland has no national car industry; granted, it would have to be a popular brand to make money, and having Fiat there is better than nothing, but essentially the Poles are working for the profit of Italy. I know something about this, because we also have no national car industry, despite having a well-educated workforce and a high percentage of auto use due to distances; to the best of my understanding, the only truly Canadian car was the short-lived Bricklin, of which just under 3000 were ever made, and even that was the dream-project of an American millionaire who was the founder of Subaru America. Instead, we make American cars like Ford and General Motors, and Japanese cars like Toyota and Honda, and lots and lots of parts for all of them. I don’t doubt it’s an advantageous arrangement that is a big employer – but we are helping American and Japanese brands to strangle the life out of competitors, not Canadian brands.

                  It’s probably unrealistic anyway to imagine Poland could start up any domestic industries that would dominate global trade, or Ukraine either, but I’m just saying that letting in foreign companies instead of developing your own industry is not the be-all and end-all you seem to think it is. It brings limited prosperity to the host country because profits depend on cheap labour – as cheap as they can get it – and as your own article suggests, they will move at the whim of the head office in the home country rather than being directed by the needs of the locals, as Fiat did when it dumped its Panda plant in Poland to move it to Italy to protect Italian jobs. What did Poland do in that event? Did local companies step in to take up the slack? Hardly; there were none. So Poland probably rejoices that the foreigners are coming back, but that sector of the economy relies on pleasing the foreigners and satisfying their requirements. You can’t hold them to ransom for higher wages or better working conditions like you can with domestic industries, through union lobbying and general strikes, because they will simply fold their tents and go somewhere else where workers will do the job for whatever they’re paying.

                • AP says:

                  Mark, I agree with you. Ukraine, like Poland or Canada, is going to be a place for other countries’ industries in the near and medium-term future. And I think this EU/CU conflict to a large extent is about whether Ukraine wants to get plugged into the Western world like Poland or Slovakia, or the ex-Soviet world like Belarus and Kazakhstan (as Canada is plugged into the American world).

                  My closest friend, from university, is from a Polish political family. I know the dreams of the Polish political elite is to one day have a Polish-Ukrainian partnership (no you cynics – not an exploitative 18th century Commonwealth), comparable to a Franco-German one, which would support an independent trajectory for both of these medium-sized eastern European countries, as neither could do alone. But that would be a long ways away, Ukraine is still far from getting on its feet.

              • marknesop says:

                Well, that’s a good point; enriching the oligarchs is not in any way an improvement. Perhaps if the oligarchs were to be given a “Russian choice” – stay here, and pay your taxes and contribute to national industry (and stay out of politics), or get out. I believe the oligarchs are firmly on the side of association with the EU because they know regulation of their behavior is unlikely to be forthcoming, while their opportunities to make money will increase, and see themselves as a rising economic force in a new expanded Europe. I don’t know what the solution is, but I still am firmly opposed to Ukraine signing the EU association agreement as it is because all the risk is on Ukraine while all the advantage goes to the EU, and it has never shown itself to be particularly altruistic. I imagine Alexander’s proposal – a renegotiated association agreement with conditions favourable to Ukraine – is the best solution, but I am skeptical that the EU would go along with it as it is plainly maneuvering for advantage rather than democratic values.

            • cartman says:

              Low wage labor is not in short supply anywhere, and Ukraine is more difficult than places like Indonesia. The country used to have a highly skilled workforce, but that was the previous generation, which has mostly gone away. All of these “youth protesters” come from universities where they cheat rampantly and earn degrees that other countries have chosen not to recognize.

              As for Fiat 500 in Poland – that closure in Mexico is probably unrelated restructuring of the company because no one in North America wants to drive that dinky little car. They needed to pick one of their European plants, and they had plans to lay off 1/3 of their workforce at their biggest plant in Poland. It probably made sense to reduce the number of jobs lost where people are willing to work for the lowest wages.

              • patient observer says:

                Furthermore, it takes far more than a cheap labor force even with reasonable education levels to be competitive. For starters, a manufacturing operation (ignoring things like marketing, sales channels, distributors, repair centers for its products, etc. presumably provided by their EU benefactors) needs machine tool and production equipment suppliers and related support, foundries (sand, investment, die) with capabilities to pour a wide variety of alloys, software (ideally a fully integrated ERP) for efficient operations, HR for recruiting, training and workforce development, financial institutions attuned to manufacturing to fund capital purchases, inventory, etc. So, cheap labor even with some education is only a tiny piece of what is needed for a thriving industrial economy. It will many years to develop a “manufacturing ecology” that can be competitive on a world level and that assumes no major economic calamities. Of course, the EU is one huge economic calamity at the moment.

          • AP says:

            Did this happen in Poland? No.

            Ukraine, like Poland, is not Africa.

            Ukrainians in manufacturing currently make something like $2 an hour (and I may be inflating this figure). In Poland it’s a little over $8 per hour. So if Ukrainians double their salaries they will still be competitive vs. Poland – and never mind Italy or Germany.

            Poland lost its native auto company (ironically, the plant is owned by a Kiev-based firm that builds Daewoo cars, I believe) but now exports more Fiats and other western brands around the world from its plants than it had once produced Polish cars. I think they prefer such an arrangement to keeping their local industry and selling only to Russia or Ukraine.

            • Jen says:

              There are some issues that have not been factored into the discussion about car manufacturing in Poland: in most countries that have a car manufacturing industry, whether the brands are locally owned or foreign-owned, governments usually subsidise the manufacturers to the tune of several hundred million dollars a year with generous rebates, all paid for by taxpayers.

              Just this week General Motors Holden announced that it would shut down its last manufacturing plant in Australia in 2017 after the Abbott government decided it would not continue giving the company more assistance. This leaves Toyota as the only car manufacturer left in Australia and that company is also mulling over whether to stay or leave. Usually every year the car makers perform their Oliver Twist begging routines for more money and the Federal and State governments (South Australia, Victoria) have been happy to oblige because they fear being turfed out at the next elections for losing manufacturing jobs. Car-making was a cornerstone of the development of manufacturing in Australia since the 1940s when originally Holden was a local family-owned business that needed money to expand its operations (and hence went into partnership with GM which eventually took it over) so it is a matter of deep pride for Australia to hang onto car manufacturing even though the costs involved far outweigh the economic benefit for the country and the companies involved, and have done so for years if not decades.

              The other issue is that since the late 1980s, car makers no longer make cars to fit local driving and weather conditions. SAAB never sold well in Australia even though everyone agreed it was way cooler than Volvo because its cars were just not built for hot climates. The trend is for generalist “one size fits all” cars that can be sold anywhere, and not necessarily in the country of manufacture (even for foreign-owned subsidiaries). The result is that for particular models a factory in Poland can make the chassis, a factory in Mexico can make the engines (designed perhaps by someone in Canada), another factory somewhere else can make the windows and all the components can be shipped or flown to a fourth place to be put together. This can all be coordinated using just-in-time inventory systems on company project management databases. The final product can either stay in the country of final manufacture or shipped to other countries. So foreign takeovers of car plants in Poland is no longer a guarantee that local car-making skills, design and knowledge will either be retained or improved.

              It’s not unusual for car-makers to enter into partnership deals in which one company may supply the other company with, say, ready-made engines. The car industry in South Korea built itself up through joint ventures between local and foreign manufacturers in which the foreigners shared information with the local company or the local company’s employees taught themselves through reverse engineering of the foreigners’ products. The car industry in China is likely doing the same. Whether Ukrainian car companies can follow the same path with EU partners is another matter. The EU may be concerned that Ukrainian car-makers could pass on information to Russian car-makers and that may be a reason the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement has included a section requiring Ukraine to meet EU standards on intellectual property and copyright.

              The real money to be made is probably in technological design and innovation in hybrid cars, electrical cars and cars made from materials that do not require so much water or certain other inputs in their manufacture due to pollution or peak oil issues.

              • Misha says:

                Ukraine doesn’t need an EU AA to have Western based car plants. Russia has them. In addition, other countries have plants for Western based companies.

  10. marknesop says:

    “And a lot of people from bad backgrounds do not resort to assault and robbery. Yanukovich wasn’t 14 when he committed his crimes, he was a 20 year old when last arrested.”

    Vitali Klitschko is 42, and he beats the shit out of people for a living. He has never been arrested for it, because it’s his job. He’s far from stupid, but his PHD is in Sports Science. I’m damned if I can see how that background makes him an ideal president. Additionally, he is politically associated with Pora, the astroturf youth movement grown to implement the Orange Revolution, and was a staunch supporter of it.

    Yanukovych majored in mechanical engineering, but has held several director and management positions in addition to his later political experience. I realize everyone has to start somewhere, but the eye of a political and economic crisis is not the best atmosphere for grooming your political chops, as Klitschko would be doing. He would, however, be an ideal candidate from an EU viewpoint, because he knows nothing about running a country and would be looking to the EU for advice.

    • Jen says:

      Yanukovych’s Wikipedia entry states that at his first trial in 1967 for participating in robbery and assault, he pled guilty and did not appeal his sentence even when he had the opportunity to do so. At his second trial in 1970 for assault, he again did not appeal his sentence. Since then he’s had plenty of time to mature and the fact that he never got in trouble again for violence – though he may have been involved in other dodgy activities of a white-collar sort but those may go with the territory and culture that are Ukrainian politics – suggests he has mended his ways in that respect.

      I should think it’s far more serious when leaders broker deals with foreign energy companies to supply gas while ignoring required procedures in doing so, then failing to gain approval from their cabinet, and threatening to sack the head of their country’s energy supplier for refusing to comply with the deal even though it drains the country’s budget and has the potential to damage the country’s economy for years while the deal lasts.

      • marknesop says:

        Well said, as usual.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Although the two men occupy different positions of power in different countries, on the one hand Yanukovich is generally viewed extremely negatively by the Western media as a Putin supporter with a criminal record, whereas on the other hand the mayor of Yekaterinburg, Yevgeny Roizman, who as a 20-year-old was sentenced to a two-year prison term in 1981 on charges of theft and fraud, is generally viewed in a positive light by that self-same media.

        Roizman, of course, is also regarded in the West as anti-Putin and a reformed character who helps junkies, although it is constantly suggested that he still maintains strong links with a notorious gangster outfit that controlled Yekaterinburg and perhaps still does.

        As regards this matter, it is interesting to take a look at the Wikipedia entry on Roizman, wherein immediately following the statements: “He was sentenced to a two-year prison term in 1981 on charges of theft and fraud. In 1999, Roizman cofounded the project City Without Drugs program. He operates a drug rehab center in Yekaterinburg, and has been accused by the city’s officials of kidnapping drug-addicts and imprisoning patients and using violence as part of therapy, and was accused during the Yekaterinenburg [sic] 2013 mayoral race of entertaining strong ties with local mafia bosses. In September 9, 2013 he was elected as Mayor of Yekaterinburg” there follows in block capitals the outraged statement: “THESE ACCUSATIONS ARE NOT TRUE. HOW DARE YOU”.

        (Will this angered riposte ever be removed, I wonder?)

        Reminds me of Zigfield’s trick of posting “YOU. ARE. A. LIAR.”, which style, I must say, is far more eloquent than that of a woman Bandera supporter whom I occasionally came across on a Canadian-Ukrainian website, whose sole response to arguments that she disagreed with was “LIAR!” and whose many postings simply consisted of that one word.

  11. yalensis says:

    This is a continuation of my above comment regarding journalistic NON-integriry, namely, the German video expose of supposed staging of confrontation between Opps and Berkut (on Maidan) to create a dramatic TV moment.

    There are 2 different points of view here:
    (1) This piece from 2 days ago (December 11) clarifies the Dramatis Personae of the alleged incident: Klichko, his second-in-command Artur Palatnyi; and some un-named Berkut Commander.

    Palatnyi supposedly bargains with Berkut guy to do something dramatic for TV cameras:
    “We’ll attempt to break through your chain.”
    Berkut guy: “Just so long as nobody throws anything or starts throwing punches…”
    Patlatnyi and Klicho (together in harmony): “Don’t worry, nobody will throw anything!”
    Berkut: “In that case, let’s do it…”

    (2) Vitaly Klichko totally denies that he was there or had anything to do with this.
    He says it wasn’t him, it was his BROTHER!

    Vitaly Klichoko: “I wasn’t there. For starters. I saw this video — that’s my brother.”

    You know what? I believe him. I re-watched video, and it is pretty clear that this is not Vitaly, it’s his brother. I’m not kidding. They look sort of alike, but there is still a difference in their facial features.

    This is not a soap opera. There really are 2 Klichko’s. And they are both boxers too.
    Realtiy stranger than fiction.

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, Klitschko really is a highly-rated heavyweight, one of the best in the world, and his younger brother Wladimir is also a fighter although so far he lacks the finesse and the ability to concentrate all the force in his body in a single fist that his brother has. However, the drama over who-is-who-is-who should not obscure the fact that the opposition were trying to negotiate a provocation with the Berkut that would create a certain impression for the television cameras, and maybe spark off the revolution. This suggests they are the same old spin-heavy regime change crowd and are following a playbook rather than acting out of genuine emotion. It also suggests the younger Klitschko feels he has decision-making status in the nascent revolution.

      It also, unfortunately, suggests the security forces are not completely loyal and might agree to be part of a dog-and-pony show for the western cameras which could be portrayed as the beloved “watershed moment”. I wish a little more footage was available so we could see what the Berkut was offered to get his cooperation. Maybe he is just an altruistic Orange sympathizer, but I doubt it.

      • yalensis says:

        I couldn’t find any info on identity of the Berkut commander. Unknown if he acted based on ideological sympathy or financial incentive. Since he was captured on tape doing something counter to his job description (not to mention unethical in general), then I would presume that he was made redundant.

        As for the other figurant in the matter, Artur Palatnyi, who seems to have been in charge of this bit of street theater, I found this expose claiming that he finances Udar Party via a bordello. According to this, Artur, an official deputy of Udar Party in parliament, is the Consiglieri behind the scenes, and handles the Klichko Brothers.

        (Artur is the one overheard saying: “Okay, here’s the deal… We pretend to break through your chain…”)

        Vasily Stoyakin, a political analyst and marketing specialist, is the source of this expose against Palatnyi and the Klichko Brothers. The Klichkos have a political brand, not just as Udar Party leaders, but also boxers, athletes, and businessmen, who have their own brand of beer.
        However, recent exposes in Ukrainian media have revealed that they are connected to a strip-tease club in Kyiv, called “Rio”, which is owned by a consortium including Palatnyi.
        The Russian newspaper “Vzgliad” sent one of their reporters (Natalia Litvinova) to work undercover as a stripper at Rio. She published this expose about how the strippers are forced to perform acts of prostitution for the clients.
        The strip club Rio is located at 30 Khmelnitsky Street. Vasily Klichko lives in the flat below the club. Before the establishment was a strip club, there used to be a deli, whose manager was … (wait for it)… Leonid Palatnyi, father of Artur, and also Godfather of both Klichko brothers.

        The deli during in Soviet times was state-owned. In 1996 the building was privatized and sold to Mr. Leonid Palatnyi. He got rid of the deli and used the space for other enterprises. Eventually it became a strip club which is also, apparently a whorehouse.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Untrustworthy source!

          It’s written in Russian.


          • yalensis says:

            Not a problem. I put it through “Google translate” and turned it into English (sort of):

            The correspondent of ” View ” Natalia Litvinov month worked as a stripper in an expensive club “Rio” in the center of Kiev , which is rumored to be part of the business empire of the Klitschko brothers . These girls take to the streets , learn to dance , and then forced into prostitution . Exactly how it happens – in the investigation, which we are starting to publish in this issue.

            Lap dance and pip- show

            ” Men’s Club is hiring dancers : Female from 18 to 30 years , with experience and without , with nice appearance, outgoing , willing to work and earn good money ” – this announcement puts “Rio” on websites . Looks tempting , especially when you consider that the employer promises free training technique strip-dance and housing for nonresidents.

            “Look ,” the club chooses to conduct a journalistic investigation for two reasons. First , as people write various online forums – it is easy to “remove” a girl for sex . And the second : popular rumor connects club “Rio” with the Klitschko brothers . Supposedly they – advocates a healthy lifestyle and family values ​​- are the actual owners of the business that many voters Vitali Klitschko would be called immoral.

            Chip strip club “Rio” , and not only him – a lap dance . The client can “order” favorite stripper : in a booth at a fairly close distance she completely undresses . The cost of private dance ranges from 600 to 800 UAH girl usually dances to the tunes 2 : at first she strips down to her panties , the second – dancing without them . Lap dance – it is an occasion to provide sexual services : woman on their own can leave with the client from the club to earn an extra fee, which it owes to share with employers. In “Rio” you can also see pip- show – frank dance behind glass : first girl sexy dancing , and then begins to fondle himself .

            Profession stripper movie thanks shrouded romantic flair : beautiful body in the spotlight , desire and inaccessibility fairies at breakneck heels, rich men in the audience , among which may well be the groom . But all these illusions are scattered even during rehearsals , long before she will be released in the first room. In this profession , at least in Kiev reality , there is nothing but fatigue , humiliation and anger. However, first things first .

            ” Easy money ” instead of the promised 10 000 UAH

            At the entrance to the club I was greeted by the receptionist – a young dyed brunette 24-25 years. Glancing meticulously from head to toe , she frowns , ” Coats and leave the bag in the wardrobe , give your phone a security guard ,” – she said in a hoarse , croaking voice, and argue it would not be desirable .

            Then we go in the dark on some corridor and find ourselves in a “show -hall” – dimly lit , eerie room , through a smoky , with worn , creaky chairs. I am not alone : 4-5 girls in short shorts and t-shirts hard rock press , lying on the floor . They looks coach – middle-aged woman , thin and angular, like a crow . Soon, a director – I immediately drew attention to his pale face : the impression that he is ill or something “sitting” . “Alexander” – he seems subdued and looks at me questioningly .

            – I need money for a trip to Venice – I begin my story harvested in advance . – There lives my childhood friend , I really have not seen her, she ‘s getting married and invited to the wedding. The ad says that a dancer can make good money , and therefore come …

            – What are you doing ? Learn ?

            – Worked as a copywriter , not yet got laid off, – explain to him .

            – Well, if you’re ready for a three-hour daily training – welcome – says Alexander, and I think, this is the interview? He did not even ask if I have a strip- dance experience ! He’s not interested , I was engaged before even dancing at school … Do not care who to take? Instead of all this blurt out :

            – And how long do I need to do, to get on the stage ?

            – Who has a good stretch – three weeks , someone needs more than a month , someone in general may not be possible – Head is responsible .

            – A will pay at least 10,000 ? – I ask , because the ad is written, at least 10,000 .

            My companion suddenly lowers his eyes and mutters through his teeth :

            – More on this later … Look, in this business for easy money …

            What do you mean easy money , do not dare ask .

            By sex, ready !

            “Girls ! Imagine that pylon – a man and you have to initiate it ! Three of his popochkoy ! Cant ! Sisechki get up and not hump “- it began rehearsals and coach admonishes Light , or rather shouts every minute .

            I got into a group of girls who train already half weeks . The youngest – 19 -year-old Julia 2 days to go to work , she already issued sandals 18 -cm glass -heeled them she proudly struts around the pylon. Julia immediately said that I have ” smart figure ” and ” have something to show .”

            Choreographer Light coached us , not rising from his chair , still manages flipping magazine. And then releases the slippery jokes against those who do not grasp the movement on the fly. Light twice their jokes drove me to tears. Once I broke down and said that I was leaving . “You give up so quickly ? Well, it’s your choice ! “- She shouted after me.

            But the next day I came again , and the light shone . It was nice . It turns out , may forgive some weaknesses .

            Once I was talking with Oksana , who is studying striptease more than two weeks , but the scene looks pretty ridiculous : moves angularly swathes hip cellophane hoping to remove cellulite . I asked her what made ​​her come here . “I think – it’s mine” – after a pause , said 25 -year-old Oksana and reached into his pocket for a cigarette .

            Oksana no higher education , single mother with a son. It is the constant lack of money forced the mother to come alone to a strip club . Oksana says that after a course of training the girls certainly take an exam for a private dance. ” By sex, forcing you here , no one will – is optional ,” – she says, and admits that she ” this ” is ready .

            Week three-hour workouts at the strip club “Rio” has not passed in vain : I learned all the dance combinations that coach taught me the Light and became more relaxed feel on the podium at the pylon. Amused me the word co-worker with whom I trained , ” Natasha, you previously worked strip of plastic , admit it ? ”

            Is that more acceptable? Admittedly, everything sounds classier in English.
            Yeah, Natasha, you previously worked strip of plastic, admit it!
            Sisechki, get up and not hump!

            • Moscow Exile says:

              Nah! What I was getting at was why was it not written in Ukrainian. I mean, that’s the language of that country. The Ukraine is not bi-lingual, is it? – not officially, anyway.

              There’s only one official language in the Ukraine, isn’t there? So the article must have been written by those Finno-Ugric-Tatar Moskaly for Moskaly; ergo: unreliable source.


              • yalensis says:

                Dear Moscow Exile:
                There is simply no pleasing you!
                Okay, so I took the English translation and fed it back into Google to get the Ukrainian version. I’m sure it is completely accurate, every know that computer translation works even better, the more iterations you put it through:

                Кореспондент ” Вид ” Наталія Литвинова місяць працював як стриптизерки в дорогому клубі ” Ріо” в центрі Києва , який , за чутками , щоб бути частиною бізнес -імперії братів Кличків. Ці дівчата виходять на вулиці , навчитися танцювати , а потім примушували займатися проституцією. Точно , як це відбувається – у розслідуванні , яке ми починаємо публікувати в цьому питанні.

                Приватний танець і піп-шоу

                “Чоловічий клуб наймає танцюристів : жінка від 18 до 30 років , з досвідом роботи та без , з гарним зовнішнім виглядом , вихідні, готові працювати і заробляти хороші гроші” – це заява ставить “Ріо” на веб -сайтах. Виглядає заманливо , особливо якщо врахувати , що роботодавець обіцяє безкоштовно Методика навчання стрип -танець і житло для нерезидентів.

                “Подивіться , ” клуб вибирає провести журналістське розслідування з двох причин. По-перше , як люди пишуть різні інтернет -форуми – це просто « прибрати » дівчину для сексу. І другий: народна чутка пов’язує клуб ” Rio ” з братами Кличками. Імовірно , вони – прихильники здорового значення способу життя та сімейних – фактичні власники бізнесу , що багато виборців Віталій Кличко буде називатися аморально.

                Чіп стриптиз -клуб ” Ріо” , і не тільки його – приватний танець . Клієнт може ” замовити ” улюблений стриптизерку : в ​​кіоску на досить близькій відстані вона повністю роздягається . Вартість приватних діапазонів танцювальних від 600 до 800 грн дівчини , як правило , танцює під музику 2 : спочатку вона роздягає вниз , щоб її трусики , другий – танець без них. Приватний танець – це привід для надання сексуальних послуг: жінка самостійно можете залишити з клієнтом з клубу , щоб заробити додатковий внесок , який він зобов’язаний поділитися з роботодавцями . В ” Ріо” ви також можете побачити піп-шоу – відвертий танець за склом : спочатку дівчина сексуальні танці , а потім починає пестити себе .

                Професія стриптизерка фільм завдяки оповита романтичним флером : красиві тіла в центрі уваги , бажання і недоступності фей на запаморочливих підборах , багатих чоловіків в аудиторії , серед яких також можуть бути наречений. Але всі ці ілюзії розсіюються навіть під час репетицій , перш, ніж вона буде випущена в першій кімнаті . У цій професії , принаймні , в Києві дійсності , немає нічого , але втома , приниження і гніву. Проте про все по порядку.

                “Легкі гроші ” замість обіцяного 10 000 грн

                Біля входу в клуб я вітав реєстратор – молодий пофарбовані брюнетка 24-25 років. Поглянувши ретельно з ніг до голови , вона хмуриться , ” Пальто і залишити сумку в шафу , дати телефон охоронця ” , – сказала вона хрипким , квакання голос , і стверджують , що це не хочеться.

                Тоді ми йдемо в темряві на деякій коридорі і потрапляємо в “шоу- холі” – тьмяно освітленої , моторошної кімнаті , через димний , зі зношеними , скрипучих стільців. Я не один : 4-5 дівчини в коротких шортах і футболках хард -рок прес , лежачи на підлозі. Вони виглядають тренер – жінка середніх років , худий і незграбний , як ворона. Незабаром , директор – я відразу ж звернув увагу на його бліде обличчя : враження , що він хворий або щось “сидячи” . “Олександр ” – він , здається , тихо і дивиться на мене запитально .

                – Мені потрібні гроші для поїздки до Венеції – я починаю мою розповідь збирають заздалегідь. – Там живе мій друг дитинства , я дійсно не бачив її , вона знаходиться одружуються і запросили на весілля. Оголошення каже , що танцюрист може робити хороші гроші, і тому прийшов …

                – Що ти робиш? Дізнайтеся , ?

                – Працював копірайтером , не звільнили , – пояснити йому .

                – Ну , якщо ви готові до тригодинної щоденного тренування – ласкаво просимо – говорить Олександр , і я думаю , це інтерв’ю ? Він навіть не запитав , чи є у мене стрип- танцю досвід! Він не зацікавлений , я займався ще до того , танці в школі … Не важливо , хто займе? Замість того , щоб все це ляпнути :

                – І як довго мені потрібно зробити , щоб потрапити на сцену?

                – Хто має хорошу розтяжку – три тижні , хтось повинен більше місяця , хтось взагалі може виявитися неможливим – начальник несе відповідальність.

                – Будуть платити принаймні 10 000 ? – Питаю я , тому що оголошення написано , принаймні , 10 000.

                Мій супутник раптом опускає очі і бурмоче крізь зуби:

                – Детальніше про це пізніше … Подивіться , в цьому бізнесі для легкої наживи …

                Що ви маєте на увазі легкі гроші, не вирішуються запитати .

                За статтю , готовий!

                ” Дівчата ! Уявіть собі , що пілон – людина , і ви повинні почати це! Три його попочкой ! Не можу ! Сісечкі встати і не горб ” – він почав репетиції і тренер перестерігає світло, або , вірніше , кричить кожну хвилину .

                Я потрапив у групі дівчат , які тренуються вже півтора тижні . Наймолодший – 19 -річна Юлія 2 днів, щоб йти на роботу , вона вже видано сандалі 18 см скло каблуці їх вона з гордістю розпірки навколо пілона . Юлія відразу сказав , що у мене є “розумний цифру” і “є , що показати. ”

                Хореограф Світло тренував нас , не встаючи зі стільця , все ще вдається гортати журнал . І потім звільняє слизькі жарти проти тих , хто не розуміють рух на льоту. Легкі два рази їх жарти відвіз мене до сліз. Одного разу я не витримала і сказала , що я виїжджав. “Ви здаватися так швидко? Ну , це ваш вибір ! ” – Вона кричала мені вслід .

                Але наступного дня я прийшов знову, і світло сяяло . Було приємно. Виявляється , може пробачити деякі недоліки.

                Після того , як я говорив з Оксаною , яка навчається стриптиз більше двох тижнів , але сцена виглядає досить смішно : рухається під кутом обмотує хіп целофан сподіваючись прибрати целюліт. Я запитав її , що змусило її прийти сюди . “Я думаю , – це моє ” – після паузи , сказав 25 -річний Оксана і поліз у кишеню за цигаркою .

                Оксана не вища освіта , мати- одиначка з сином. Це постійна нестача грошей змусила мати приходить одна в стрип -клуб. Оксана каже , що після курсу навчання дівчаток , звичайно , скласти іспит для приватного танцю . ” За статтю , змушуючи вас тут ніхто не буде – не є обов’язковим” , – говорить вона , і визнає , що вона ” це” буде готовий.

                Тиждень тригодинних тренувань у клубі смуги “Ріо” не пройшов дарма: я дізнався всі комбінації танцювальні , що тренер навчив мене світло і стало більш пом’якшене почуття на подіумі в пілона . Забавляло мене слово співробітник , з яким я тренувався , “Наташа , ти раніше працював смужку пластику , визнати це ? ”

                Actually, Ukrainian version is surprisingly cogent (and I don’t even read Ukrainian, but I can more or less read this!), and I suddenly understood what English version meant by “pip-show”. I was scratching my head, thinking “pip” was maybe a slang for “nipple”. But no, Peep-show, of course. Duh!

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Yeah, I know what you mean. These direct transliterations from English into Cyrillic often baffle me, until suddenly it dawns on me that I’m reading an English word in Cyrillic.

                  I remember how I was once scratching my head for some while when I first saw ТАУНХАУСЫ, until it suddenly dawned on me that it was TOWNHOUSE with the Russian hard vowel ending masculine noun nominative plural -Ы, hence the word meant “town houses”.

                  The most horrendous of such transliterations that I have ever seen though was in the vacancy columns of a newspaper: ДЖОБСИКЕРC.

                  Have you cracked it?

                  “Job Seekers” for God’s sake!

                  Sounds distinctly obscene to Russian ears, I’m sure.

                  You’ve got to be careful with some sounds when talking to members of another linguistic group. It was some while before I caught on to why some here looked a little shocked whenever I said something was “easy-peasy”.

                  One of the funniest things I heard in this respect, though, occurred many years ago in the city centre on Tverskaya, when I heard one of a group of US tourists cry out: “Hey, there’s a pectopah! Let’s go eat!”

                  The “pectopah” was, of course, a “ресторан”.

                  I think the tourists were from the Ozarks or West Virginia or somewhere similar.


        • AP says:

          I hope there is not a double standard of disputing the Spiegel article about Yanukovich but automatically believing this one. If true, this is quite disturbing although it seems to be about candidate-Klitschko’s brother.

          • yalensis says:

            Never fear, I don’t necessarily believe any one source, unless there is some verification.
            Real journalists should follow that rule too!

        • marknesop says:

          Well, well. I see elsewhere in the comments the mention that Vitali Klitschko used steroids, and am inclined to give him a pass on that as it may have been accidental; incurious athletes have frequently taken various supplements that promise to increase their bulk and muscle mass without their steroid content being revealed, and young people on the way up make mistakes. I could cite the example of Silken Laumann, a former professional athlete who lives here and whom I see fairly regularly by chance, who tested positive for an illegal stimulant which was a component of a popular over-the-counter cold medicine. I’m willing to allow there was no ulterior motive on Klitschko’s part, as he readily admitted it and there were no further such instances, while his professional performance showed he could succeed quite well in his profession without them.

          This, though – of which he could hardly remain ignorant if he spends much time in that flat, which he may not – as well as his foreign residency, puts things in an entirely different light. It doesn’t necessarily make him a serious bad guy or a crook, but it does suggest his motivation is what is best for Vitali Klitschko rather than what is best for Ukraine. And the latter is the kind of leader Ukraine needs.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        “Highly-rated heavyweight” though he may be, the favourite son of the German Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands (CDU) political party, German resident and taxpayer Vitalii Klitschko, tested positive for steroids as an amateur in 1996 and was subsequently chucked out of the Ukrainian boxing team for the Atlanta Olympics.

        See: Boxing: Klitschko admits steroid abuse

        “”You are a drugs cheat” said BBC “hard-hitting”, said (19:19) interviewer Stephen Sackur to Klitschko in the BBC “Hard Talk” programme.

        Sackur also said: “Frankly, your record as a politician is that of a loser”.

        He also posed the following questions:

        “How can you represent the people of Ukraine when you spend most of your time abroad?”

        “Your party claims to be against corruption. How can you say that when you’re a drugs cheat?”

        As regards Klitschko’s tax returns, the following dialogue took place:

        Sackur: “The numbers don’t add up, where’s all your money gone?”
        Klitschko: ” I buy real estate.”
        Sackur: “How many properties do you own?”
        Klitschko: “Not so many, I buy many properties in Germany and Ukraine.”


        The Great White Hope for the Ukraine?

        The CDU seems to think so.

        • yalensis says:

          I will give him a pass on the steroids. I honestly could give a shit what athletes put into their bodies; as far as I’m concerned, let them inject gorilla DNA if that would help their performance. Who cares?

          • yalensis says:

            P.S. Klichko has an ugly schnozz.

          • marknesop says:

            Well, let’s not get carried away. The sports world does not need a runner who can outdistance all others because he takes some sort of chemical cocktail, because then he is in a sense not human, not bound by human restraints; what’s the sense of training to the peak of human physical perfection if you can be soundly trounced by the geek from the photocopier section when he is wired on some drug that makes him impervious to pain?

            Athletic competitions are a little like stock-car racing; the vehicles raced all have to conform to very strict restrictions, and unfair advantages are not allowed. Steroids allow you to accumulate muscle mass without training, so that’s cheating. But Klitschko could well have taken some protein supplement without being aware it contained an anabolic steroid.

        • Misha says:

          Sackur has done some good hard hitting pieces that exemplify quality journalism, unlike the roapy, soapy dopey stuff that gets kudos in some circles across the geopolitical spectrum. I recall him even going after the BBC.

          I’m all for constructively substantive loose cannon input, that goes beyond the kind of ass kissing BS that’s out there.

  12. Misha says:

    No surprise on this news item, recently mentioned a bit further above this thread:


    All things considered, the Russian government is handling this situation well. The protestors and Western officials in Ukraine have a theatrical aspect.


    The kind of White Russian view that will be accepted for a regular high profile Western mass media gig:


    I understand he has had a bit of a metamorphosis over the course of time.

    So there’s no misunderstanding, the goal shouldn’t be to see a heavy handed bastion of one-sided pro-Russian government opinion that overlooks and or misrepresents the position of its detractors.

    The mainstream Russian position will do well with competent advocates going head on with their opposites. There’s no need to play unfair. For quality control purposes, beware of crony promoting, that doesn’t take the best go to options.

    On the subject of White Russians:



    Russian related armament news:






  13. peter says:

    • marknesop says:

      Michael Weiss thinks anyone who speaks Russian is a crazy fool. You included, unless you showed willingness to cover yourself in sackcloth and ashes and wail about how unfair it was that God made you Russian rather than American or European.

  14. yalensis says:

    Party of Regions bringing in their own supporters , looks like with free beer. (Will there be porto-potties? just askin’…)

    Pro-government activists arriving in Kyiv by bus from Odessa, Dnepro-Petrovsk, Lugansk, and Crimea. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander…

    Most accounts give the number of 10,000 pro-gov demonstrators. Police are separating them from the anti-gov Maidan, which numbers fewer right now, but Opps are calling for their usual million people to show up over the weekend, they are promising a free concert (paid for by American state dept, it goes without saying), so we have to wait and see what their numbers will peak at.

    Of the 3 Opps leaders, Yatsenuk has made a lot of conciliatory statements and tried to defuse any possible confrontations between the two groups of people.

  15. yalensis says:

    Prime Minster Azarov speaking to pro-government activists :

    “What do we want to achieve? We want to achieve a strong position for Ukraine in our negotiations, both with the EU and with Russia. Only with a strong position will we be respected.”
    “Ukraine must become a full partner of Europe, and not just her vassal.”
    “When we took the decision to freeze the Association Agreement (with Europe), we were thinking about you [the Ukrainian people]. We understood that signing the agreement would bankrupt us. We need to restore trade relations with the Russian Federation. And finally, after lengthy negotiations, we agreed to remove contradictions with Russia (barriers to economic agreements?). On Monday we will complete these negotiations (with Russia), and as a result of the agreements reached, we will sign a packet of deals which will provide jobs to our enterprises.”
    “The (proposed) association deal with the EU did not provide anything like a visa-free regime. Nothing of the sort. And prior to this, Ukraine was supposed to legalize same-sex marriages. Do you support that?” [boos and hisses from the crowd].

    • yalensis says:

      Different numbers on anti-Maidan activists. This piece gives a number as high as 100K. And keep in mind that GAZETA tilts to the pro-Orange, pro-Bolotnaya point of view, so that number might actually be correct.
      (Also forgot to mention a contingent of around 1000 pro-gov activists from Sevastopol, beefing up the anti-Maidan forces.)

      And this is after the 3 pro-Maidan leaders attended “round table” with Yanukovych/Azarov government. Opps pounded their little fists on the table and demanded snap elections and resignation of government.
      Yanukovych/Azarov responded, basically, with “kiss my ass”.

      In addition, Azarov made a veiled threat to Yatsenuk, that he (Yats) would be held personally accountable for anything that happened on the Maidan in the next few days.
      Opp leaders, probably with more gray hairs on their head, returned empty-handed to report back to their troops.

      Looks like Yanukovych govt is starting to play hardball.
      Which also shows ineffectiveness of American tactic, which was to threaten Ukrainian oligarchs with freezing their accounts in U.S.
      Which proves that either (1) Ukrainian government is not quite as directly oligarch-run as Americans seem to believe; maybe Americans tend to believe their own cartoon stereotypes (about “oligarchs”, “clans”, “gangster governments”, etc.) a bit too much; or (2) maybe Uke government IS run by oligarchs, but those oligarchs were smart enough to move their money to safer banks long before the shit hit the fan.

    • kirill says:

      It is thanks to western propaganda that the notion has been implanted in people’s heads that trade with Russia is equivalent to Russian subjugation. By this standard Canada is basically a US colony. I don’t think most Canadians feel this to be the case.

      All of the mushy “human rights” and “European standards of law” drivel is orthogonal to the trade aspect. Nobody is forcing Ukraine to deviate from the values it aspires to. When it has developed to the level where it can tell Russia to kiss off, it can freely join the EU. Seriously, trade with Russia is not some sort of slavery.

    • Misha says:

      Regarding the EU AA with Ukraine, it’d interesting to see a detailed comparative breakdown on how that accord differs with those given to some other countries. They aren’t the same.

  16. AKarlin says:

  17. peter says:

  18. AKarlin says:

  19. AKarlin says:

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Here Comes Freedom! John McCain Visits Ukraine


      “It is appalling that Ukrainian authorities have chosen to use violence and oppression against peaceful demonstrators in Maidan Square in Kiev. Such despicable conduct violates the most basic universal rights – especially the freedom to speak and associate – that are owed to all people.

      “If Ukraine’s government thinks that brute force and the politics of fear can see it through the current crisis, it is woefully mistaken. More and more Ukrainians are showing that they are no longer afraid. Those brave men and women should know that they are not alone. Their friends across the world stand in solidarity with them. We will keep the world’s attention on Ukraine’s struggle for freedom, justice, and opportunity, and we will demand consequences for any crimes perpetrated against Ukrainians who are peacefully exercising their fundamental human rights.”

      How an EC member country police force deals with peaceful protesters: Spain , September 2012:

      When’s McCain going to visit Spain?

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Here’s Walker in this morning’s Observer (15th December 2013) on the situation in the Ukraine: “Ukraine: tale of two nations for country locked in struggle over whether to face east or west”, together with a very misleading map showing the delineation of this divide.

        Some interesting comments, noticeably, in my opinion, this one from a certain “DonJuan”:

        “These are some picture galleries of tonight in Madrid:



        Rodea el Congreso #14D

        Catherine Ashton hasn’t shown up, and nobody expects her to.

        Signing a trade agreement with the EU will not solve Ukraine’s problems in the long term. On the contrary, European big business will ensure that any future protests are silenced in the international press if their interests are at a stake.”

        Wonder if Gramps McCain will call on the Spanish protesters on his way back to the US of A?

        And there’s this comment from “giltedged”:

        “Basically the industrialised East which also includes the seaside resorts is subsidising Lviva. People in the East work whilst students in Kiev pout to American and other foreign media folk practising their English and the tough Svoboda organisers dream that a Fascist Ukraine will join the EU. The Svoboda people are the spiritual inheritors of the Bandera fascists who massacred Poles, Russians,Jews, Lvivians and Ukrainians
        Czech and Slovaks split when they pretty much no reason to. The two nations in Ukraine should do so for every reason.”

        As regards the divide, “Nobul” comments:

        “To be precise, the divide in the Ukraine is ethno-religious rather than ethno-linguistic as that map suggests. The “West Ukraine” represents roughly the catholic portion of the country around Liviv, numerically less than 10% of the Ukrainian population and less than 1/3 in geographical area. The hard core “nationalists” are the progenies of the murderous Bandera UPA and Nazi camp guards. Those “west Ukrainians” have a history rebellion against whoever is ruling them and of alliance of conveniences which they inevitably betray – against the Poles, Lithuanians, Ottomans, Tartars, Russians, the Germans, their Jewish and Orthodox brethrens. They are now working on their next project, the EU, which they would eventually find “repressive” and not “generous” enough to start another whining rebellion. The Ukraine should just cut them loose and let the Poles deal with their doppelgängers.”

        These “West Ukrainians” that “have a history of rebellion against whoever is ruling them” often remind me of those folk who were called the “Scots-Irish” in the USA.

        The Scots-Irish were originally dour, 17th century, land hungry, lowland Calvinist/Presbyterian Scots that were encouraged with land grants off the British government to settle in the Northern Irish province of Ulster, which for generations had been the seat of rebellion against British rule in Ireland.

        They gladly left Scotland because they hated their Scots landlords as well as the English. In Ulster, they hated (and killed) the natives (Roman Catholics) – and it goes without saying that they continued to reserve an especially venomous dislike for “the English”, namely the British government in London.

        So, ever more land hungry, many of these now Scots-Irish, upped sticks for British North America, where they continued to hate members of the established ruling classes that came from, for example, the Virginian tidewater families such as those of George Washington and their ilk, who had the manners and mores of the English gentry – and “the English” in the UK of course – and pressed ever westwards through the Cumberland Gap or along the Ohio River, grabbing land and killing “injuns” on their way.

        And being Presbyterian, they were not over enamoured with the established Church of England (too Catholic), which became after US independence the Episcopal Church of America, which they also disliked (too English).

        At they same time, they were also regularly engaged in killing each other, feuding being one of their main leisure activities, which feuds often lasted for generations. It was mostly the Scots-Irish who became known later as “Hillbillies”.

        It was also the Scots-Irish who were at the fore in the rebellion against their legal government known as the “American Revolution” (one of the often overlooked grudges that the rebellious subjects of King George III bore against their monarch was his government’s attempted prohibition against further western expansion of British North America; His Majesty’s government wasn’t too keen on triggering off another French-Indian war in North America: King George’s rootin’- tootin’ Scots-Irish subjects would have none of this, however) and it was the Scots-Irish who frequently became presidents after Washington.

        Typical of the Scots-Irish in the USA was “old Hickory”, Andrew Jackson, who hated the English, the Indians, the gentry – most everyone, it seems.

        • Hunter says:

          Hey all, long time.

          So interesting times ahead for Ukraine I see. However this bit that Moscow Exile quoted had me thinking about a stereotype I saw referenced back during the Orange Revolution which hasn’t really been given a lot of coverage or follow up:

          “Basically the industrialised East which also includes the seaside resorts is subsidising Lviva. People in the East work whilst students in Kiev pout to American and other foreign media folk practising their English and the tough Svoboda organisers dream that a Fascist Ukraine will join the EU”

          I recall during the Orange Revolution that there were a few articles in the western media which got the views of the eastern and southern Ukrainians which in some cases amounted to ‘those protesters need to go do some work!’

          So I did a bit of checking around and it seems that in fact the south and east of Ukraine is actually more productive generally than the rest of Ukraine. There is a study done on regional productivity in Ukraine taking data from 2001-2003: http://kse.org.ua/uploads/file/library/2006/shkurpat.pdf

          Of the 9 southern and eastern oblasts that generally vote for the more Russian-leaning candidate in presidential elections (Sevastopol wasn’t included and Kiev city was included in 2002 and 2003 but not in 2001, Kiev oblast being featured in the data for 2001) about 7 of them consistently ranked in the top 12 out of 25 across the 3 years studied (with Kherson being notable for being a low productivity oblast). And that excepting for Lviv and Volyn, all eight of the other western Ukrainian oblasts from Zhytomyr and Vinnytsia westward (including Ternopil, Zakarpattia, Ivano-Frankish, Chernivitsi, Rivne and Khemlnytsky) appeared in the bottom half of the table in all 3 years with 7 of them making the bottom 5 at least once.

          Among the studies conclusions were:

          “The data on labor productivity across Ukrainian regions presented in the introduction section reveals considerable differences in productivity levels within the borders of Ukraine. The results of this research based on the shift-share analysis disclose the sources of such labor productivity inequalities across Ukraine. Moreover, we show the statistical evidence of the presence of regional clustering with respect to the labor productivity levels.

          So first of all we may outline that the labor productivity disparities are mainly attributable to the uniform productivity differences across regions and to the smaller extent they can be ascribed to the differences in types of economic activities prevailing in creation of value added across Ukrainian regions (industry-mix). These findings are basically consistent with the similar researches undertaken mostly for regions of European Union. However, what was not typical for European regions is that in Ukraine productivity disparities can also be attributed to the industry-mix in each region.

          The second important conclusion is the presence of two productivity clusters in Ukraine. Three western regions Rivnenska, Ternopilska, and Vinytska form the low productive cluster and three eastern regions Donetska, Kharkivska and Zaporizhska form the high productive one. We also find that Volynska oblast fall into the atypical category of spatial association (region with high labor productivity surrounded by regions with low productivity).”

          I have no idea how labour productivity has changed since then, but if average monthly salaries can be taken as a proxy for such labour productivity it would seem not much had changed by 2008: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ukrainian_salary_map.png

          I would imagine that the 2004 Orange Revolution and the 2013 demonstrations would have done or do little to increase productivity in the parts of Ukraine that are generally poorer by monthly salary and less productive.

          So it seems there would be some truth to the meme of the productive south and east subsidizing the less productive west and centre. What is strange (and lucky) for Ukraine is that this hasn’t resulted in a notable secession movement in the more productive region as has happened in Belgium (with the Flemish Region), Spain (in Catalonia) and Italy (with the Lega Nord in the 1990s). Though if labour productivity disparities were to increase (and therefore subsidies from the south and east to the west and centre increase) then that could well change.

          • kirill says:

            The lack of secessionism in the south and east underscores that the “Russified” parts are not the evil they are being made out to be by the Banderovtsi bums in the west. So the proklati moskali are actually subsidizing the freeloading haters in the west. I would tell those fuckers to bugger off and establish their moskali-frei utopia. Perhaps they can put up some monuments to their WWII “heroes”.

          • AP says:

            The problem is that for the more productive South and East to subsidize the less productive West, the South and East would have to have taxes collected from them to the extent that corresponds to their greater productivity,a nd to receive less money from the center than they put in. In reality, however, much of the fruits of that labor ends up in the oligarchs’ hands (there are basically no Galician Ukrainian oligarchs) – the oligarchs being well-connected in Kiev – so it escapes taxation. And because the government is in the hands of the southerners and easterners, they send plenty of money back home. As a result, the southern and eastern provinces get back more from Kiev than they put in. It is a myth that they are feeding other parts of the country. A useful myth, for the oligarchs and their politicians to tell the southern and eastern Ukrainian people why they are so poor. Blame the westerners.

            • Hunter says:


              Do you realize what you are saying?

              Okay, let’s go through this step by step. According to the study done between 2001 and 2003 the south and east of Ukraine generally was more productive than the the west and centre of Ukraine (again, generally as there are some exceptions). And according to map on the average monthly salary by oblast from 2008 (whose information is drawn from The State Statistics Committee of Ukraine) generally speaking all oblasts (I am including Crimea, Sevastopol and Kiev City as units of primary administrative divisions like the oblasts, so I use “oblast” here to refer to those three as well) in the west and centre of Ukraine (except for Poltava, Kiev oblast and Kiev city) had monthly salaries of less than ₴ 1,375. That’s 14 oblasts/primary administrative divisions out of 17. In the south and east there was one oblast (Kherson) with a monthly salary of less than ₴ 1,375. That’s one out of 10 primary administrative divisions. The map also showed that one oblast in the west and centre (Poltava) had an average salary of less than ₴ 1,500 but more than ₴ 1,375. In the south and east the comparable figure was 3 oblasts/primary administrative divisions (Odessa, Mykolaiv and Crimea). Finally the map showed 2 oblasts/primary administrative divisions in the west and centre (Kiev oblast and Kiev city) with average monthly salaries above ₴ 1,500 with the comparable figure for the south and east being 5 oblasts/primary administrative divisions.

              Now like most countries, Ukraine has an income tax (see: http://www.worldwide-tax.com/ukraine/ukraine_taxes.asp). And as in most countries this income tax is a percentage of income (with the percentage increasing above a specific threshold; which according to this site: http://www.wageindicator.org/main/salary/minimum-wage/ukraine was ₴ 1,147 per month up to November 2013 and is now ₴ 1,218). At that threshold even the oblast with the lowest average 2008 monthly wage would find that the average wage earner would probably paying some amount of income tax (even if it is on only a few hryvni). The thing is that higher income tax revenues would be derived from areas with higher incomes (that’s only natural as if the government charges you 15% of your taxable income and you make ₴ 1,230 then the tax would be: 15 % of (₴ 1,230 – ₴ 1,218) = 15% of ₴ 12 = ₴ 1.8; and if you make ₴ 1,550 then the tax would be 15% of (₴ 1,550 – ₴ 1,218) = 15% of ₴ 332 = ₴ 49.8). So oblasts or primary administrative divisions with higher salaries do pay more income tax generally. And the the oblasts with higher salaries (as we have seen) tend to be higher in productivity (which is not surprising, around the world the general trend is for increased productivity to lead to increased wages). So the government would be collecting taxes collected from the south and east to the extent that corresponds to their greater productivity.

              Now Income taxes tend to go to the central government for spending. Like most countries, Ukraine’s government generally spends tax money in areas where this tax money is needed (once of course, corruption has siphoned off some or even a large portion of it). So let’s be generous and assume that only 20% of the tax money collected actually isn’t lost to corrupt oligarchs and politicians. This 20% would be spent in areas that actually need the tax money for such things as infrastructure and government services. Generally speaking such areas will tend to be the ones which have lower taxation revenue in the first place, which as one can see from the above would tend to be the areas of lower wages and lower productivity. This is how it works in pretty much all countries whether they are federal (like the USA, Canada, Australia or Germany) or centralized (like France). Now perhaps you were unaware of it, but even a quick search on google turns up the fact that Ukraine’s government has “a fiscal equalisation system to correct the effects of varying levels of income amongst local governments” (this is from a paper published on the EU Committee of Regions website though not necessarily representing the views of the Committee of Regions: http://cor.europa.eu/en/documentation/studies/Documents/local-regional-government-ukraine.pdf). While local governments don’t generate a lot of local revenue for their budgets, any amount they generate locally would generally be proportional to the amount of money actually available to be paid to local authorities. According to the budget law of Ukraine as found on the World Bank website ( http://www1.worldbank.org/publicsector/pe/BudgetLaws/Ukraine%20Budget%20Code%20_2001_.pdf) the equalisation system consists of inter-governmental transfers which in turn are made up of 1) equalization grants; 2) subventions; 3) transfers from the State budget and local budgets to other local budgets; and 4) other grants. The equalization grants are determined as the difference “between the amount of expenditures specified in Article 89 of
              this Code (for the budgets of Kyiv and Sevastopol – Articles 88 through 90 of this Code) [which amounts to expenditures on state administration, education, healthcare, etc]
              calculated with the application of financial standards of budget sufficiency and
              adjustment coefficients and…[other amounts calculated]”. Intergovernmental transfers meanwhile are allocated based on a formula which takes into account “1) financial standards of budget sufficiency and adjustment coefficients thereto;
              2) the population and number of recipients of social services in question;
              3) the relative fiscal capacity index of the city or rayon in question; and
              4) the projected index of the basket of local self-government revenues (for the
              budgets of Kyiv and Sevastopol, cities of Republican (in the Autonomous
              Republic of Crimea) and oblast significance) and the projected amount of
              revenues defined by Section 2 of Article 66 of this Code (for rayon budgets); and
              5) the coefficient of equalization”.

              Now let’s look at factor 2 used by the formula: “the population and the number of recipients of social services in question”. The larger the population the more people who are likely to use social services. The poorer a population the more likely people are to actually need to resort to social services (because they can’t afford the services unless the government provides the services and subsidizes said service. From over at AK’s site we had a discussion on the populations in the various regions of Ukraine and I posted the 2010 figures for the south and east; west; centre and transcarpathia separately. Combining the figures for the west, centre and transcarpathia to show the population of the West and Centre of Ukraine which generally has lower wages (excepting for Poltava, Kiev oblast, Kiev city and Rivne along with about 4 other scattered oblasts) we get a 2010 figure of 24,187,223 people. For the south and east the population figure is 21,663,695 people. We also estimated the likely figures by 2015 to be 21,363,695 for the south and east and 24,134,905 for the west and centre. So there are more people in the west and centre than in the south and east, but the south and east is generally richer (see this map of the GDP per capita (I believe) of the Ukrainian oblasts: http://s017.radikal.ru/i423/1306/08/5b0b618317f5.png, note that whereas 7 of the 10 south and east oblasts/divisions had a per capita GDP above 3,000 only 3 of the 17 oblasts/divisions in the west and centre had a per capita GDP above 3,000). If one works out the GDP for each division/oblast based on the GDP per capita map and the 2010 population figures for each division/oblast then the total GDP for the south and east would be 80.8395 billion and for the west and centre it would be 83.2732 billion. However as the west and centre have a larger population than the south and east the GDP per capita figures for the the two broad regions is reversed: It would 3,731.566 for the south and east (above the average 3583 for Ukraine as a whole) and 3442.857 for the west and centre (below the average of 3,583 for Ukraine as a whole). GDP per capita is a well known proxy for general levels of wealth, so it would quite correct to say that the south and east of Ukraine is wealthier than the west and centre of Ukraine.

              Now remember, the more people there are generally the more people that will utilize social services and the poorer people are the more likely they are to use social services (or they are more likely to use social services more frequently). Hence logically, the transfer formula would have to take into account that there are more people in the west and central oblasts of Ukraine and quite likely more recipients of social services who are likely using these social services more often in the western and central oblasts of Ukraine.

              Next we can look at the fifth factor of the transfer formula which is the coefficient of equalization. This is defined in the Ukrainian Budget Code as “Coefficient of Equalization – a coefficient which is used for determining the amount of an equalization grant and transfers to the State budget of Ukraine from local budgets in order to increase the revenue capacity of respective budgets; ”

              Now unless equalization has an entirely different meaning in Ukrainian, the very concept of equalization means that there is a transfer from an area of surplus to an area of deficit as defined by some standard. This standard is normally an average or fixed amount. In countries, this would probably be the cost of government services. As countries tend to subscribe to the notion of equal treatment for all citizens (exceptions included South Africa from the 1940s until 1994 under apartheid) then it means all citizens should have access to an equal quality and quantity of government services. In order to achieve this, areas of the country that produce more and therefore generate more tax revenue in effect subsidize areas that produce less and generate less tax revenue.

              So unless Ukraine’s government follows the theory of unequal treatment for citizens then areas of high tax revenue (the south and east) will generally get back less tax receipts in the form of funding for government services than areas of lower tax revenue (the west and centre). In order for this not to be so, then it means that despite Ukraine’s own budget laws saying otherwise, schools and hospitals in the south and east would get more funding per institution and per teacher and per doctor etc generally than similar institutions in the west and centre. Is this so? Do you have proof of this that you can share? Or is it that most schools and hospitals across Ukraine tend to be poorly funded in general with no discernible bias in the level of funding to the broad regions?

              Remember, if oblast A has 10 schools and 1 hospital and oblast B has 10 hospitals and 1 school and oblast C has 10 schools and 10 hospitals then oblast C is likely to receive the most funding (most institutions) while oblast B might receive more than oblast A or vice versa depending on the average cost to run a school (teacher salaries, school supplies) versus running a hospital (doctors and nurses salaries, medicine (which tends to be expensive), and other supplies, etc).

              Also the idea that a lot of the money ends up in the hands of southern and eastern oligarchs and because the government is in the hands of southern and eastern ukrainians that this means they send a lot of the money back home (through the oligarchs) is far too simplistic for the level of analysis you should be able to provide. After all, any primary school student should be able to realize that just because money ends up in the hands of rich, corrupt oligarchs who live in a certain area doesn’t mean that the money in question ends up being spent on government services for the people in the area (otherwise what was the point of the oligarch getting that money if he is going to turn around and give it to the government for services rather than stashing it away in some offshore account? Are the oligarchs really that altruistic? If so, why are they then described as corrupt?). And as I demonstrated in my above analysis, even if we look at the money that does not end up being transferred corruptly to oligarchs/politicians then what is left by law is spent in areas that are more likely to need it, which as a general economic principle should be those areas which have lower revenue but still have a lot of people they need to spend money on. Unless it is that you are contending that absolutely none of the money derived from the taxation of the average worker and consumer (in the form of consumption taxes) anywhere in Ukraine actually ends up being spent on any government services in the country whatsoever. Which would be remarkable and surely be a unique situation in the world.

              If as you say it is “a myth” then you should have no trouble providing information proving that:

              – Ukraine’s budget law doesn’t actually mandate transfers from the state budget (which is derived from income taxes and other taxes) to local budgets based on population, social service recipients and local budgets and expenditures

              – Ukraine’s tax receipts all end up in oligarchs pockets with practically none of it being used on government services

              – the south and east of Ukraine get more spending on government services such as schools and hospitals on a weighted basis and nominal basis than the west and centre of Ukraine.

              – the southern and eastern residents of Ukraine really are so poor as you say given that I’ve found at least 3 different and independent sources which would indicate that the south and east of Ukraine is generally richer than the average for Ukraine and for the most part richer than the western and central parts of Ukraine.

              I look forward to such an analysis with referenced sources. If you can’t provide sources (even in Ukrainian for which we here on the site can use google translate to help us read it if need be) then it would be advisable not to bother in the interest of other persons’ time as we would then be totally unable to independently confirm whether what you say is actually accurate or not.

          • marknesop says:

            Hey, Hunter; great to see you back, I have missed your take on things!

        • AP says:

          Congratulations on finding some ignorant internet commentators (“giltedged” and “nobul”). Galicians were, of course, so loyal to Austria that they were nicknamed the “Tyroleans of the East.” They were “disloyal” to Poland and the USSR, and to Germany for the same reasons that the Irish were “disloyal” to the English or the Poles were to the Austrians, Germans, and Russians, or the Finns were to the Russians, Serbs were to the Ottomans and Austrians, etc.

      • Jen says:

        Plain-speaking McCain the hero of the Kyiv domain in Ukraine will visit when the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain and not on the northern coast in the Cantabrian mountain areas.

    • marknesop says:

      I love Max Seddon’s comment – “The eagle has landed”. More like The Beagle.

  20. peter says:

  21. Misha says:

    Re: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/15/world/europe/struggle-in-ukraine-reflects-a-larger-battle-between-europe-and-russia.html?_r=0

    This one ends with a reasoned note.

    As presented, Akhmetov’s comments perhaps need a bit more clarification. Support for the protest movement can be taken to mean supporting their right to protest, without necessarily being in complete agreement. In any event, the PoR finds itself in the position of dealing with the varied Ukrainian views, along with the contrasting preferences of the EU and Russia.

  22. KenM says:

    Hi Mark,
    Glad to hear you are dedicating a post to the whole Ukraine fiasco.
    A few things I would be interested in is – what the EU/West would really gain, ie. what is genuinely worthwhile economically for them in this?

    From what I can see, the major gains would be in gaining depth for the big western agribusiness firms. While their own countries are heavily regulated & farmers protected by large subsidies, this would be a massive opportunity to expand in the export market as well as provide real depth for pricing/shortages/etc. If Ukraine continues it’s steady descent they should be able to gain complete control of large swathes of prime land for next to nothing and turn it into a major part of their export portfolio, with little in the way of local opposition from what will be left of the massively indebted Ukrainian government.
    The other of course is control of the gas pipeline, which again they should be to pick up for a fraction of it’s worth – cut out Ukraine as the problematic middleman & look to deal directly with Russia from a more favourable position.

    The turning of the East into a cheap manufacturing hub outsourcing for EU firms wanting to compete directly against China is I feel a chimera – it will simply cost way too much to transition major UA firms into part of western supply chains & China/Asia are simply much better at low priced manufacturing anyway.
    Some groups might be selling the idea, but the West has simply lost too much of it’s ability to create genuine quality infrastructure at a reasonable price – due mostly to the ascendance of neo-liberalism as state religion. The best I see for Eastern Ukraine if they join is a few of their high value specialist firms becoming minor cogs in western majors, mostly in the space/aeronautics field.

    Another gain is in the propping up the major EU banks who are in desperate need of infusions of real capital in order to keep the whole circus of dubious financial products spinning. As Ukraine falls apart, the oligarchs will desperately be looking to pour their money somewhere ‘respectable’, & the major EU banks would seem to be the obvious choice.

    • Misha says:

      Some sense touching on why the oligarchs have a look West attitude. For spin control, there’s the sugary image that under EU terms, they will have to be more legit. We see how the EU establishment downplays the questionable manner of Tymoshenko. Look at how Kosovo is covered versus Pridnestrovie.

    • marknesop says:

      As to agricultural land leasing, China looks to be ahead of the west there, having signed an $8 Billion deal with Ukraine to grow food in Ukraine for the Chinese market.

      • KenM says:

        Good point! What the west seems to be forgetting with the whole disaster capitalism scenario for Ukraine is that this is not a zero sum game between the West & Russia – The likely winner in all of this is China (as it has been a number of times in similar western engineered situations) – quietly picking up the choice deals with its vast pocketbook that opens without the strings attached western deals.

        Bad miscalculation on the part of the west, & one they persist in making over & over again.

        • kirill says:

          I actually trust the Chinese more to do proper business and not colonial rape like the “civilized” west. So if China wins out it will be a blessing in the face of Ukraine’s misery.

          • marknesop says:

            I don’t know if I’d go that far. They might be a threat to Europe in the form of buying up all its gas for Chinese use and leaving them to exploit other sources as they may, but I would not necessarily like to see China smash America into the dirt. A little competition is healthy, but the U.S. economy is too important to our own and I do not see the Chinese taking up the slack in that event. I’m sure they’d be interested in our energy – already are, and heavily invested in it – but they would be just as likely to make a feeder colony of Canada as the EU is of Ukraine if it gets its way, and the American economy’s strength is important to our strength.

            • kirill says:

              The Chinese do not appear to have some other agenda when dealing with the world. Ukraine is a project designed to damage Russia and Lavrov is right, the EU commissars are hysterical. This layer of malice is not good for Ukraine since most Ukrainians are the same Orthodox Slavs as the evil Russians. Most Americans can’t even tell the difference.

              • marknesop says:

                Yes, I suppose that’s accurate – as long as you enter into an agreement with your eyes open and an understanding that the Chinese are interested in exploiting your resources exclusively for the benefit of China and the Chinese and that they do not care a fig about sustainability or renewability of your resources, then you are right that they will pay a fair price. And I suppose it’s accurate that nobody else is much different, really. So if you don’t insist on conditions up front that protect your own resources, that’s your fault.

                • Jen says:

                  The Chinese companies that have been investing in Africa and Papua New Guinea to some extent have helped local communities by building roads and assisting with some infrastructure development but only so far as the companies themselves draw benefits. So they’ll build roads from mines to factories to ports but not help local people build houses and necessary facilities like schools, clinics and hospitals near the mines and factories. Plus the companies bring all their own labour, even unskilled labour, to do the actual factory work so the only jobs the locals get are jobs like cleaning, cooking, driving trucks and security.

        • marknesop says:

          Yes, I’m afraid so; some time back in a piece I did here on Skolkovo, an American “security expert” was quoted as implying the Russians were “wiring all the buildings” in Skolkovo for electronic snooping, which is an absolutely comical idea since it would leave no end of evidence when there are many ways of conducting surveillance without any traces. He was also quite ready to agree Russia was behind all manner of hacking and so forth. But when he was asked about China, he had nothing but good things to say; they’re just protecting their own interests, same as we would do, nothing to see here. China is in fact behind some of the most innovative and cost-effective computer snooping conducted in the world, and recruits its operatives for peanuts from government-sponsored hacker competitions.

  23. KenM says:

    Another thing worth looking at more deeply I feel is the success of the whole array of colour revolutionists/lobbyists/’NGO’/think-tank industry in this – & no matter how it ends up this has been a major success for them.
    The country is fractured, any chance for Ukraine becoming a major part of the resurgent Eurasian Union has been destroyed, & from what I am gathering, most Russians now regard Ukrainians with something approaching disgust. Any kind of real partnership now looks completely out of the question.

    The initial election of Yanukovych held out the promise of Ukraine’s manufacturing resurgence as it partnered up with Russian/CIS firms within the expanding CIS market, providing growth for Ukraine & increased depth for Russian firms – and this vision appears to be completely destroyed for the forseeable future. EU firms have severely lessened the chance of major potential rivals growing out of the Eurasian Union in the export manufacturing markets that they have come to dominate in the last 25 years (although it will not help them much with China).
    While this couldn’t of been done without the help & vast incompetence of Yanukovych himself, the whole western ‘NGO’, etc. industry has capitalised very effectively in expanding existing faultlines into what looks at this point to be unbreachable walls of distrust. They have it seems divided a major part of the slavic/orthodox world, just as they did in Yugoslavia & Georgia.

    • kirill says:

      The west is hoping that Russia will be a big loser from this. It will Ukraine that will be the big loser. And in the long run the colony game played by the EU will fail. When Ukrainian industry goes to Hell in handbasket, the eastern part will secede. I am sure that NATO will try to “preserve Ukrainian territorial integrity” by military means, but this ain’t Bosnia i Herzegovina. Hyperpower US cannot even handle Iraq and Afghanistan.

  24. Moscow Exile says:

    Breaking news:

    EU puts Ukraine integration deal on hold – EU enlargement chief


    Who’s kidding whom here?

    • kirill says:

      The claim that the association agreement was a gift for the Ukraine takes the cake for the most obnoxious, self-absorbed arrogant BS. How is forcing Ukraine to change its railway gauge a “gift”? That in itself is in the tens of billions of dollars of expense and for some spurious reason instead of actual economic necessity.

      But the whole free trade part of it is the real monster, which would basically turn Ukraine into a EU colony. No Ukrainian company can compete with EU companies doing the same thing. The end result is that Ukrainian companies would be bought out or go bankrupt. Ukraine does not have an indigenous industry that can weather this storm. Russia has and had military hardware exports, space launching, developed transport hardware manufacturing and fossil fuel exports. Also, Russia’s internal demand is, adjusting for wage levels, around 5 times higher than in Ukraine. All that EU companies, including resellers and suppliers, have to do is sell at some discount for about one year and nothing will be left of Ukraine’s original economy.

      Some “gift”. Of course, the real question is: “gift for whom?”.

      • peter says:

        How is forcing Ukraine to change its railway gauge a “gift”?


      • patient observer says:

        If it is inevitable, Ukraine should relax and enjoy it. Unfortunately there is no morning-after pill for what is on the mind of the EU(sarcasm mode ON)

      • yalensis says:

        Be careful, kirill!

        Every time somebody utters the words “railway gauge”, peter has a schizophrenic attack; her head spins around 360 degrees, and she spews green bile.

        • marknesop says:

          There is no doubt the issue of the differing gauges has been a contentious one in transport for some time. Advantages, however, of broad-gauge railways such as are used primarily for goods transport in Russia and its satellites include “the ability to handle heavier goods on each axle and heavier trainloads than narrower gauges, leading to cost savings and more efficient transport”. Therefore it is only EU pig-headedness that causes them to insist on the narrower standard gauge, since it is less efficient and more expensive to maintain. Ukraine should insist that if the EU really wants it onside, all of the EU should convert to broad gauge.

    • marknesop says:

      No, you can’t break up with me, because I already dumped you.

  25. Moscow Exile says:

    I mean, why are those stupid Russians so PARANOID?

    Typical propaganda from the Kremlin controlled NTV that the Evil One and his regime pumps into the heads of the bydlo!

    I mean, that’s not really Albats speaking, is it?

    It’s all one big hoax like that other one that NTV did with that Georgian and that oppositionist, now what was his name?

    Anyway, as I was saying, it’s all clearly propaganda from the regime, anyone can see that.

    I was just saying this the other day in a café to a student artist friend of mine who took part in the walkabout along the Garden Ring this summer……

    And did you not detect the underlying antisemitism in the programme?

    Those Russians! They are all such pathetic xenophobes, homophobes, antsemites etc.

    They’re sooooo paranoid!

    I mean, nobody wants to split up the Soviet – I mean the Russian Federation – do they?

    And in any case, that Putin is clearly yearning to rebuild the USSR.

    Anyone with half a brain can see that…can’t they?

  26. yalensis says:

    Busy looking for tape of Grampy McCain’s big speech to the Oranges on the Maidan.
    Can you believe you have to PAY 50 Euros to see the full video? No way!
    All you get for free is this short 20-second snippet.

    And by the way, I have definitive proof now that THERE IS NO GOD.
    Because I was praying the whole time: “Please God, if you exist, then you MUST strike Grampy down with a bolt of lightning!”

    But no lightning on the Maidan. Which proves there is no God. QED.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      One Ukrainian commented to the above:

      – Старый пердун!!! убирай свою жопу и своих лицемерных западных реформаторов с нашей земли!!!

      [Old fart!!! Take your arse and your two-faced reformers away from our land!!!]

      To which another commenter then replies:

      – Твоя земля в Монголии.

      [Your land is in Mongolia.]

      No prizes for guessing which commenter is a Moskal and which is a Khokhol.

    • marknesop says:

      Take comfort from the fact that Grampy McCain is Undead, so lightning probably would not kill him anyway; it might just scorch his Weejuns a little, or his Prada slip-ons or whatever expensive leather he is covering his cloven hooves with these days.

      • Jen says:

        Lightning would actually bring McCain to life in which case he would appear as dead and over time the natural process of decomposition would start. (OK that’s rubbing it in thickly.)

  27. Moscow Exile says:

    This is the only clip that I can find of the old fart speaking on the Maidan. Interesting headgear worn by one protester at 30 secs into the very short clip:

    And when he stops, the crowd chants: “Thenk you! Thenk you! Thenk you!”

    And there were no biscuits handed out.

    Tight arse!

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Interestingly, the demonstrator seen at 30 secs. who is wearing a WWII German style “coal-scuttle” helmet emblazoned with SS insignia wouldn’t know what had hit him if he tried to don such gear in Germany, where the wearing of any fascist regalia or uniform is “streng verboten”: he would get bounced by the police and bundled off into a “Green Minnie” in short shrift and whacked with a hefty fine or a custodial sentence if he appeared like that in public in das Vaterland.

      Which just goes to show you that in this respect, the Ukraine is “freer” than Frau Kanzler Merkel’s patch.

      • marknesop says:

        I suspect he has at least a little apprehension that what he is wearing is controversial – that’s why he is wearing a full-head mask so that he cannot be identified. A crime in Canada, I might add (wearing a mask at an unlawful demonstration) punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

    • marknesop says:

      Remind me, again, what gives Grampy McCain the fiat to commit American support to Ukraine’s “protest movement”? Because he’s an American? Can any American do it? If that’s the case, I propose we pass the hat for RC’s plane fare so he can go to Maidan and say, “America says, EU get stuffed, and protesters get a job!!”

  28. yalensis says:

    According to this piece , there is evidence that some Orange demonstrators are pretending to be from Odessa and Sevastopol. In order to give the appearance of national unity behind the Maidan. Apparently, some Orange leaders, notably Klichko (who has announced his run for President of Ukraine in 2015) are sensitive to the charges that they are busting up Ukrainian “unity”. Hence, they seek to portray as if EVERYBODY is behind them, even the East, and even the ethnic Russians.

    В Киеве уже появилась традиция из серии «каждое воскресенье мы с друзьями ходим на Майдан». Массовое сборище называют «народным вече». Ну не то, чтобы они там особо совещались. Чаще штурмуют Кабмин или сносят Ленина, как было в минувшие выходные. То есть играют мускулами – и власть вроде как должна трепетать. Показательное выступление. Эти выходные не стали исключением. Суббота – день репетиций. Народу – тьма. Главный акцент показухи решили сделать на объединение Запада и Востока. И действительно среди толпы появились парни с яркими шарфами «Одесса». Этих парней, кажется много: и волонтеры, и митингующие. Но говор….не одесский.

    – Извините, а где тут альфатер? – подхожу к одному из парней, что разворачивает стяг.

    – Что – что? – удивился мужик.

    Вы бы тоже удивились. Вот откуда вам знать, что одесситы не употребляют слово «мусорный бак», для них это всегда альфатер (по названию фирмы – монополиста, которая убирает мусор в Южной Пальмире). Еще парочка тестов – и все провалены. Слово за слово. Выяснилось, что «коренные одесситы» прикатили из соседней Умани. Мой коллега из Москвы тем временем побежал брататься с митингующими, что держат табличку «Севастополь».

    – Я им тоже про улицы, про флот. И знаешь что? – сообщает, вернувшись из гущи событий.

    – Что? – жду ответа с замиранием сердца.

    – Они говорят на суржике.

    Да, это приговор. Сама из Крыма – суржика там нет. В Севастополе – точно. Насчет «единения» грубо сработали. Впрочем, представители от русскоговорящих регионов на Майдане все же были. Но на так называемом «анти – Майдане», который разместился по соседству (без палаток, зато с лозунгами из разряда «Янукович – лучший!»). И вот оттуда могли заглянуть вполне реальные шахтеры. Но им не рады, зачем дублировать ряженных? Так вход в оккупированную мэрию всегда был открыт. Для всех желающих. А тут бац: предъявите паспорт. Проверяют прописку. Если «восточная» или «крымская» – вход заказан.


    In Kyiv there is now this tradition of “every Sunday we and our friends go to the Maidan. This mass gathering is called “the people’s assembly”. (…) Today is no exception (…), today they decided to place the emphasis on the unity of West and East. And so among the crowd there appeared young men wearing bright scarves with the insignia “Odessa”. There are quite a lot of these young men: both volunteers and demonstrators. But their dialect is NOT Odessan.

    “Excuse me, where is the alfater?”, I ask one of the youths (….)
    “The what?”
    Naturally, how could he know that Odessans don’t use the word “garbage bin”, they use the word “alfater” (which is a brand name of the monopoly company that collects garbage in Souther Palmira).

    A couple more utterances, and the masquerade is over. [These are not true Odessans.] Turns out they are from neighboring Umana.

    At the same time my Moscow colleagues wanders off to converse with some demonstrators who are holding a sign reading “Sevastopol”.

    “I engaged them about (Sevastopol) street names, about the fleet, etc. And you know what?” he tells me, returning from the fray.

    “What?” I ask with baited breath.
    “They are speaking in Surzhyk!” [yalensis: real Sevastopolians would speak in standard Russian dialect, not in Surzhyk dialect]

    Yep, that’s definitive. I myself [journalist Evegenia Suprycheva speaking in the first person] am from the Crimea. Nobody there speaks Surzhyk. Especiallly not in Sevastopol. They are clearly faking this “unity” thing. Not that Russian-language speakers are not at the Maidan – they’re over there at the anti-Maidan. Without tents, and with the (dubious) slogan “Yanukovych: the lesser of two evils!”



    • Moscow Exile says:

      I have it on very good authority from an extremely loquacious Odessan taxi driver, whom I had paid to drive my wife and me around on a sightseeing tour of the city centre, that in that rather delightful place one only speaks Russian and Odessian. And in the Crimea I once feared that another taxi driver, this time in Evpatoria, was going to have a seizure after I inadvertently stated to him that the Crimea was in the Ukraine. He became so irate, in fact, that he even stopped the car in order to hammer his point home to me – in Russian, of course – that he was Russian as was the Crimea.

    • marknesop says:

      There arises another very commonly-abused term; “baited breath”. I am glad to see it was the mistake of the original author and not your own, as the meaning has clearly been lost. The correct term is “bated”, as in a shortened form of “abated”, meaning held back, conveying the sense that one so stricken is unable to breathe for suspense or wonder. “Baited” breath would be breath containing or redolent of bait, which is just disgusting.

      Another that receives a regular beating from the press is to “toe the line”, which simply means to bring one’s toes to the line, as in stepping up to the mark, although it is often used to mean one who conforms to an expected standard of behavior – when boxers or fighters were no longer able to “toe the line”, it was because they were beaten. The common abuse of this term is “tow the line”, because the press is lazy and unconcerned that the term does not make sense to them, they assume it makes sense to the readers.

  29. patient observer says:

    AP – Thank you for your passionate defense of all things EU. Since the topic de jour is the clash of the Anglo Roman civilization (my term) and the Orthodox East, with spice from the unfolding drama in Ukraine, this is a serendipitous opportunity to better understand the differences and hopefully, similarities between the two civilizations.

    My first comment regards the intent of EU business in Ukraine. Trust me on this one, they have absolute zero interest in “helping” the people. These folks will be exploited to the greatest possible extent and only to the degree that they can organize themselves or barter with other powers will they have any upside. That is just the way it is.

    Second, the Anglo Romans seem to love having an underclass. In the US, its cheap (and very hard working) Mexican labor. In the EU it would seem to be Eastern Europeans, especially of the Orthodox variety. These are throwaway people in their eyes. Why do I say this? Having business contacts in the region and being married to a Romanian (and beautiful in every way) woman, it is simply an inescapable conclusion from observation. And until they can find another underclass, the Eastern Europeans are stuck. I will say that within the underclass the Catholics will be better positioned than the Orthodox. So, the preferred source of waiters, strawberry pickers (and worse) will be Eastern Europe – hardworking and desperate, just what every EU company, hotel, resort and bordello would love.

    Lets get to the “Elephant in the Living Room”. The Anglo Roman empire is simply murderous and have zero qualms regarding inflicting genocide; be it racially, religious or economically driven.

    Perhaps I missed it, but you had few if any responses to the various comments made in that regard. This is one of the central nubs in the conflict of civilizations – just where do we draw the line in “taking” from the weak to enrich ourselves?

    Correct me if I am wrong regarding your position but it seems rather exploitative and free of compassion for those not in the fold. Does the unpunished murderers of hundreds of thousands of Serb Orthodox in living memory give you pause? Or the tens of millions of Russian murdered by invading Western entities (many still very much in power today)? Or the hundreds of thousands of Japanese vaporized or poisoned by nuclear attack? Or, the tens of millions of indigenous peoples killed by the crusading Catholic church? Or, perhaps all that matters is the hourly wage the EU may bring to a worker in Poland?

    Does the unprecedented massive spying by the Anglo Roman empire on its own people bother you? I assume that I am on someone’s list. But do you believe that you are secure by your fealty to those who rule? I do not mean to be presumptuous but it seems to be that way.

    I love my country but it has gone off the rails when it joined the Anglo Roman empire in heart and soul. And in my younger days, I was a Teenage Republican and proud of it. Time, experience and having a family can open anyone’s eyes including my own. I will leave you with a quote from a recent speech made by Vladimir Putin (from Saker’s blog); a message that an increasing number of Americans can relate:

    “We have always been proud of our country. But we don’t have superpower aspirations; we don’t want global or regional domination, we don’t interfere with anyone’s interests, trying to play a patron, we are not going to lecture others. But we will strive to be leaders by defending international law, making sure that national sovereignty, independence and identity are respected. This is a natural approach for a country like Russia with its great history and culture, its vast experience in the area of different ethnicities living in harmony, side by side, in one state. This is different from the so-called tolerance, which is gender-free and futile.

    Today many countries revisit their moral standards, erasing national traditions and boundaries between different ethnicities and cultures. Society is asked to respect every person’s right to freedom of thought, political views and private life, which are good values.

    But now people also have to treat evil and good equally, which is strange, because these are opposite things. Not only does such destruction of traditional values have negative effects on societies, but it is also anti-democratic to the core, because these are abstract ideas applied to real life despite of what the majority of people think. Most people don’t accept such changes and suggested revisions.

    And we know that more and more people in the world support our approach of protecting traditional values, which have been a spiritual and moral foundation of our civilization and every nation. We value traditional family and genuine human life, including a person’s religious life; not just material, but also spiritual values of humanism and the world’s diversity.”

    • AP says:

      I didn’t respond to your other posts because they seemed to be more ideologically-driven than fact-based. When I stated that the West provides a more normal way of life, you brought in the Iraq invasion, Serbia, perhaps Vietnam, etc. Evil things, that I also oppose, but what does it have to do with someone’s way of life? So Ukraine shouldn’t want to joint he West becauae of Iraq?I wasn’t interested in engaging in polemics.

      In terms of facts – well, let’s stick to Ukraine and its neighborhood, not Iraq invasions or Syrian meddling (let me be clear that I am totally with Russia, with respect to Syria).
      I’m sorry, but Galicia was better off as part of Austria than the rest of Ukraine was, as part of the Russian Empire, when considering education, income, participation in democracy, etc. It was not perfect, but better. And as bad as the Polish interwar government was, it was superior to the Stalinist nightmare across the border. Yes, Hitler was even worse than Stalin (at least, outside Galicia).but this was an exceptional case.

      As for civilization, East vs. West, Orthodox vs. Catholic – it’s not so simple as some Russians or Ukrainians claim it to be. Orthodox Ukraine was an integral part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and actually developed as a nation during this time. The commander of Polish-Lithuanian forces against Muscovy in one of the many wars between the two states was an Orthodox prince, descendant of Rurik, Konstanty Ostrogski:


      Did a Ukrainian (or Little Russian) ever command the Russian army during one of its wars?

      Another Rurik prince from Ukraine, Michał Wiśniowiecki (his ancestor founded the Zaporozhian Sich), sat on the Polish throne. Did a Ukrainian ever rule the Russian Empire?

      The Kiev Academy was the premier Orthodox center of higher education; it was Orthodox but thoroughly run on a Jesuit model, with even Latin as the language of instruction (the Ukrainian language still is peppered with a few Latin-based words, such as raptom – quickly). Khmelnytsky and his cossacks rebelled against the Commonwealth (specifically: against Rus magnates who had grabbed too much power at the expense of lesser Rus nobles such as Khmelnytsky – not the Crown), but used the Polish language as the language of their command and acted like the Polish nobles they were. During the Pereyaslav negotiations the Muscovite envoy’s words had to be translated into Latin, for Khmelnytsky to understand them. Differing assumptions (such as the meaning of vassalage) probably explain the problems with integration, Mazeppa, etc. And of course constant mixing – Gogol was 1/4 Polish and fluent in that language; this was typical of the eastern and central Ukrainian gentry. Etc. etc. – I hope you have a picture.

      These are facts that Ukrainian nationalists often ignore in their narrative – as do Russian ones, who prefer a West vs. East dichotomy. And such facts point to the fact that Ukraine’s relationship to the West is deeper and more complicated than the Russian side presents it as.

      • patient observer says:

        “I didn’t respond to your other posts because they seemed to be more ideologically-driven than fact-based.” Care to enlighten me which genocides were not fact-based? I have more if you would like to deny those as well. Sorry, but your answer was remarkably offensive.

        People in our church lost relatives to your “polemics”.

        “Evil things, that I also oppose, but what does it have to do with someone’s way of life?” Who cares where the “prosperity” comes from? Who cares what was done so I can enjoy some trinket? I know nothing!!

        Note that the topic of this blog is the role of the Catholic religion in driving the attacks on Russia and the Orthodox world. Your tried to use an X-acto knife to cut out all of the evil from the Anglo Roman empire by redefining the scope of the debate and gerrymandering the facts to support your otherwise indefensible position regarding the moral superiority of “normal” countries of the EU.

        • AP says:

          So a guy in Finland lives a normal life because the Americans bombed Serbia? Really?

          I wrote about many Ukrainians wanting to live like Poles and rather than engage in a discussion about this you chose to bring up some evil wars, as if such wars explain prosperity and normalcy in Western countries, or that Westerners are somehow collectively guilty of these crimes or benefiting from them. And this is offensive. So, sorry – not interested in engaging in such a debate with you.

          • AP says:

            Just to add to my comment – imagine in this debate if someone arguing against the Customs Union had just gone into gulags, famines, millions killed, etc. You have would dismissed their argument, and would have been right in doing so.

            • patient observer says:

              Still don’t get it? The debate here is not what a civilization does to its own people (US Civil War and racism, Europe’s periodic bloodbaths, etc.) but what it does to the Other – those people not part of its civilization.

              You are consuming a lot of bandwidth of some very intelligent participants in this blog. It must be quite a ego-boost but at the end of the day, you are a pretender with no real experience, just a purveyor of Wall Street Journal “analyses” from what I can see. It is not my place to judge – this is simply my observation.

              I certainly have no issues with your ongoing blogging (and its not my right to express any other opinion). I do hope that you will set aside some very deep seated ideologies to hear what the Other may be saying.

      • Misha says:

        You’ve your own myth making as well.

        The part Polish makeup of Gogol’s background and his pro-Russian preference contradicts what Polish nationalists prefer.

        Ivan the Terrible was of the Riurik stock which governed Rus. Michael Romanov had Riurik familial links.

        For good historical and cultural reasoning, Poland doesn’t feel part of Rus unlike Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Poland came in later as a foreign occupier.

        The last decades of Imperial Russia saw considerable economic advances with greater potential to boot. Max Hastings is on record for noting a different WW II outcome likely benefiting Russia had that war started in 1916.

        During the Russian Civil War, the Galician Ukrainians showed a preference for non-Communist Russian advocates over Poland. Between the two world wars, Galician Ukrainian opposition to Poland became such that the Soviet option was explored. Thereafter, the anti-Soviet attitude among that group didn’t bring about an alliance with the Poles. The Galician Ukrainians had some bitter battles with Poles during WW II and for a brief period thereafter.

        • Misha says:

          Along with Ottoman Turkey, “advanced” Austria-Hungary didn’t do well against Russia in WW I. Earlier, the Austrian Habsburgs relied on Russian assistance in putting down a rebellion in Hungary – something that Russia shouldn’t have done. While en route to Hungary, Russian forces were warmly greeted by the population in what’s now the western part of Ukraine. Thereafter, the Habsburgs had a policy of suppressing Russophile elements in their empire while encouraging separatism in the Russian Empire part of what was to become popularly known as Ukraine.

        • AP says:

          Nothing you wrote contradicts my earlier post.

          • Misha says:

            It sure does and then some. Moreover, NOTHING in your comments successfully refutes what I said.

            I’m reminded of how Lucas backs off from direct interaction which he can’t apparently refute in a relatively well moderated one on one.

            It’s a myth to suggest that Poland is somehow more on par with Russia in Ukraine when it comes to overall history, culture and influence.

            Before the last Ukrainian presidential election, a poll found Putin would win that vote against all the Ukrainian candidates as well as any other world leader. Things haven’t changed so dramatically since then. I understand the attraction to the EU, as well as how it could wane. There’s also the reality of the overall Ukrainian mood on that score.

            Polish politicos like Kwasniewski and Sikorski take the cake when they comment on how Russia views Ukraine.

            • kirill says:

              The attraction to the EU is based on the myth of “joining the club”. That somehow magically all of Ukraine’s problems will go away by signing meaningless association agreements. In this case the believers are suckers on an epic scale. There is nothing about this free trade deal + 20,000 regulation and standards changes (e.g. railway gauges) that will boost Ukraine’s economy and the standard of living of its people. As for the dialogue about civilization and Poland being some sort of model. LOL.

              • Misha says:

                An excellent debunking minus the crony applause.

              • marknesop says:

                This is the biggest part of my argument – I certainly don’t disagree it is the right of Ukrainians to try and find a better living standard, and it is also their right to try and find it where they think it is most likely to be. I just disagree that the EU is the path to prosperity, at least on the terms of the association as it is presently drafted. It is a valid point that joining the customs union, while it might rescue the struggling economy for now, might in the end never be much better than a break-even deal. Perhaps Ukraine can continue to keep observer status for now, while it negotiates a better agreement with the EU, but it should not let itself be suckered by the EU’s snooty pretense that it is doing Ukraine a favour – it is obvious from the furious butthurt on show that the EU badly wanted Ukraine. Unfortunately, at least some of that pique is because the EU relished the opportunity to spite Russia, which is acting far more maturely than any other participant. But the EU also wanted the market, and liberalizing reforms that would go beyond what is already possible through the WTO. I believe the EU never intended for Ukraine to get out of debtor status, and furthermore, to hold that over its head as a way to keep it in line. Maybe it’s not even possible for Ukraine to get out of debt, because it is in so deep and the economy is such a wreck. But again, why is the west not negotiating for debt forgiveness, the way it did for Iraq?

                It is childish to pretend Russia should not be involved, because Russia has legitimate business interests, or to imply Russia is bullying Ukraine because the EU is desperately starting to start a revolution right in its heart. I think the best solution would be tri-power talks between Russia, Ukraine and the EU in which hardheaded analysts – rather than posturing political popinjays with their own agendas – would hammer out exactly what Ukraine needs in the way of funding and economic restructuring in order to get back on its feet and being its own boss again. Yanukovych should go, but not in some coup that would bring those boobs in the opposition to power. There must be somebody in Ukraine who is capable of the huge responsibility of president, but is not as crooked as a dog’s hind leg. Maybe Bidzina Ivanishvili could be induced to parachute in as caretaker president until the country got its shit together. He’s not Ukrainian, but he understands corruption and fighting it and is the most recent success story in getting rid of a corrupt leader; he also (and this is rare in politics) appears to keep his promises – he was a modest leader when he held power, and he stepped aside just like he said he would. Kiev could do worse.

                • AP says:

                  I completely agree with your comments about Russia and Yanukovich. My thoughts about EU motivation are different than yours, however. The country pulling most strongly for Ukraine in the EU is not a place like Germany which might pursue a colonial strategy, but Poland. Poland is pursuing a strategy of building up a central-eastern European space Poland to counterbalance both Russia and Germany, Poland’s historical rivals. Poland alone, is medium-sized country condemned to eternal status as someone else’s Canada. Accordingly, Poland wants Ukraine to be eventually a strong partner and ally (once its problems get fixed) within the EU. It does not want Ukraine to be a weak, dependent and impoverished colony because such a Ukraine would be useless for Poland’s strategic goals. Whether this is possible is another matter; you and Alex made some excellent points about the problems with the AA. But that is the underlying motivation behind Poland, the driving force within the EU for Ukraine’s eventual inclusion.

              • peter says:

                (e.g. railway gauges)


            • AP says:

              “I’m reminded of how Lucas backs off from direct interaction which he can’t apparently refute in a relatively well moderated one on one.”

              Yet, you have repeatedly backed off on our historical interactions on Leos’ blogs.

              “It’s a myth to suggest that Poland is somehow more on par with Russia in Ukraine when it comes to overall history, culture and influence.

              Correct. Russia has been less of an influence on Ukraine’s historical development than was Poland. This is not true of recent times.

              “Before the last Ukrainian presidential election, a poll found Putin would win that vote against all the Ukrainian candidates as well as any other world leader. ”

              And you interpreted that to mean that most Ukrainians want Putin to rule over them?

              Perhaps reviewing polls about how many Ukrainians would want to unify with Russia into one country can help you interpret that poll more correctly?

              • Misha says:

                I suspect that Leos would get a chuckle at your put mildly ridiculous claim. Your other raised point is another absurdity. Poland/Poles are nowhere near as popular/influential in Ukraine as Russia/Russians. Keep dreaming to the contrary. Reminded yet again of how Pilsudski sought a puppet “independent” Ukrainian state consisting only of former Russian Empire territory with all of Galicia going to Poland.

                In historical terms, Poland wasn’t as good at muliethnic nation building as Russia.

                You didn’t successfully refute the point on the poll regarding Putin.

                • AP says:

                  So – no facts to back up what you try to say. Only empty opinions. When you were defeated, as you always were, you wrote something like: “Once again, I’ll trust Leos to inform me of any substantively new developments at this thread (not to be confused with rehashed BS).”

                  “Poland/Poles are nowhere near as popular/influential in Ukraine as Russia/Russians.”

                  Currently? No. I never claimed they were, currently. Although this may be changing.

                  Leos didn’t contradict what I wrote, or defend you. Why is that?

                  Review the polls regarding how many Ukrainians want Ukraine and Russia to unite into one country, and then think about the meaning of Ukrainians wanting Putin as president (hint: they like how he treats corrupt oligarchs, contrasting him with their own leaders).

                  “I’m reminded of how Lucas backs off from direct interaction which he can’t apparently refute in a relatively well moderated one on one.”

                  Well, you never answered this on Leos’ blog. You kept backing off from direct interaction. It’s a minor point, but it demonstrates your general or global approach to facts. Let’s try again, shall we?

                  You wrote: ” Once settled in Rus, the Riuriks pretty much cut ties to Scandinavia.”

                  In 977 Vladimir fled to his kinsman Haakon Sigurdsson, ruler of Norway, collecting as many Norse warriors as he could to assist him to recover Novgorod.

                  A son of the Varangian (Viking)[2][3] Grand Prince Vladimir the Great, he was vice-regent of Novgorod at the time of his father’s death in 1015. Subsequently, his eldest surviving brother, Svyatopolk the Accursed, killed three of his other brothers and seized power in Kiev. Yaroslav, with the active support of the Novgorodians and the help of Varangian mercenaries,[4] defeated Svyatopolk and became the Grand Prince of Kiev in 1019.

                  In 1019, Yaroslav married Ingegerd Olofsdotter, daughter of the king of Sweden, and gave Ladoga to her as a marriage gift.

                  So, clearly you were wrong. Very wrong, about rather well-known facts. But could you admit it? No. So we know: Misha is a guy who can be very wrong about obvious things, and will not admit it.

                  Everything else you claim should be viewed with this in mind.

                • Misha says:

                  You’re being quite dishonest in your brashly stated and bogus claims, which serve as a diversionary tactic, from your clear failures here. Among them was your BS about Mihailovic discussed at length further up this thread.

                  You’re also quite the hypocrite in situations like dismissing analogies which are better premised than your own.

                  You appear obsessed with race/ethnicity much unlike yours truly and many others. What you bring up from Leos’ thread doesn’t refute my stated positions there. Such is your seemingly desperate attempt at legitimacy. Proponents of the Norman theory readily accept that the the Riuriks in Rus became more entrenched in that territory’s interests over the course of time. Using mercenaries is something not relegated to the Riuriks.

                  Leos never supported any of your points running counter to my own. Without meaning to divulge personal info., Leos has been quite up front in contesting points I’ve made.

                  Your shilling for Poland is clear to all here. When Napoleon attacked Russia in 1812, he was joined by close to 100,000 Poles. In contrast, the people in the Russian Empire part of what’s now modern Ukraine were overwhelmingly loyal to Russia. Moreover, this was evident in the Habsburg part of what became modern day Ukraine.

                  When the Soviets attacked Poland’s then eastern frontier in 1939, they didn’t meet as much resistance as the Nazis, who attacked from the west. In the latter situation, there were more ethnic Poles willing to fight for Poland.

                  As for the present, a some (not all) Poles (especially among some officialdom) seem to have a romanticized view of their country’s past, which carries over to Ukraine.

                • Misha says:

                  BTW, in reply to your twisted logic, I don’t respond to much of Leos’ back and forth (at his venue with) the troll Hack. That non-participation on my part doesn’t mean that I agree with the latter. In terms of this venue, such matter is a diversion. I prefer to stay more on topic. You’re of course free to spin your warped diversionary perceptions. Just don’t expect others to readily accept them.

                • AP says:

                  Well Misha, here you are once again backing off from direct interaction. It is a fact that you stated “Once settled in Rus, the Riuriks pretty much cut ties to Scandinavia.”

                  It is also facts that, in contrast to your stated (historically ignorant) claim above:

                  In 977 Vladimir fled to his kinsman Haakon Sigurdsson, ruler of Norway, collecting as many Norse warriors as he could to assist him to recover Novgorod.


                  Yaroslav’s eldest surviving brother, Svyatopolk the Accursed, killed three of his other brothers and seized power in Kiev. Yaroslav, with the active support of the Novgorodians and the help of Varangian mercenaries,[4] defeated Svyatopolk and became the Grand Prince of Kiev in 1019.

                  In 1019, Yaroslav married Ingegerd Olofsdotter, daughter of the king of Sweden, and gave Ladoga to her as a marriage gift.

                  Moving to Norway, collecting Norwegian warriors is not cutting ties to Scandinavia. Seizing power with Varangian mercenaries and marrying the daughter of the Swedish king is not cutting ties to Scandinavia.

                  How can anyone be expected to take you seriously when you say things about Rus, or Poland, given that we now see just how little you know about Rus history, shown by you making the ignorant claim that “Once settled in Rus, the Riuriks pretty much cut ties to Scandinavia.” And then you refuse to admit your mistake, which means either you are incapable or unwilling to ever learn or correct yourself, or are simply arguing in bad faith. Either way, you have very little credibility here.

                • Misha says:

                  This seems to be your one trump card and a very weak one at that – once again noting how you divert attention away from your fault ridden comments at this thread, which have been factually debunked.

                  So what if mercenaries were used. They were used by both sides during the American Revolution.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                “Poland is pursuing a strategy of building up a central-eastern European space Poland to counterbalance both Russia and Germany, Poland’s historical rivals.”

                Rzeczpospolita Obojga Narodow?

                The Commonwealth of Poland?

                From sea to shining sea?

                Sounds like it to me, but this time Poland will be Mr. Nice Guy.

                • yalensis says:

                  Aha! So now we know what the Poles are up to… AP blurted out their secret strategy!

                  Seriously, I think this gives us the start for a grand agreement to settle this. Something along the lines of the Molotov-Ribbentrop deal, but this time for the purpose of dividing Ukraine.

                  So here’s my plan: We convene a grand international conference consisting of all the players: Ukraine, EU, Russia, China (as a creditor country), and also UN representatives.
                  NOT America, though. PIndosi just troublemakers, who love to stir the pot, they have nothing to offer here.

                  Results of the deal, to be ratified by referendums:
                  Russia gets all of Crimea back, including Odessa, thus nullifying Khrushchev’s illegal “gift” to the Ukraine.
                  A good chunk, maybe even most of Ukraine, (including Kyiv) gets handed over to the EU, to do with as they please. (Ratified by referendum.)

                  After which, a sonorous “Vivat!” to the new Rzeczpospolita of Poland-Ukraine-Sweden-Livonia.

                  Individual referendums in the eastern regions determine which region goes with EU and which with Russia (or stays independent), with the proviso that the resulting chunk of East/South Ukraine needs to be geographically continguous and have enough geography (e.g., rivers, railroads, etc.) to be viable as an autonomy.

                  File all this under “national right to self-determination” and allude to Leninist nationalities strategy, all these methods were worked out right after WWI, and they work, mostly, provided the lines are drawn correctly.

                  And close with a little [fictional] speech of King Sigismund II of Poland:
                  “Litovia, Poland and Livonia are destined by God Himself
                  to become Europe’s stronghold,
                  thus excluding this Moscow barbarian
                  from the family of enlightened western nations.”

                  Prince Kurbsky: “Vivat!”

                • marknesop says:

                  Poland offers a mixed picture for dreamy empire-builders. Government debt is more than half of GDP, although it eased off slightly from a record high last year. It has a good export-import balance and recorded a small trade surplus (53 Million EUR) in October. However, its interest rate is artificially low and suggests a profile we have come to view as characteristic of trying to stimulate the economy; a near-zero inflation rate mirrors that as well. Its external debt is pretty high, a great deal higher than it was in, say, 2008 and trending steadily up.

                  I can only afford a quick look at the moment, but that suggests the strongest factor arguing against being able to keep America out of any partition negotiations for Ukraine is that Poland does not own its banking sector. The latter would most certainly be involved in any partition negotiations, and foreign-owned banks would simply decline to participate – on orders from their governments – if they did not like the terms.

                • AP says:


                  The Polish elite are fairly open about this – it is not a secret I have revealed. They acknowledge the mistakes their people have made in the past with regards to Ukraine, and see Ukraine as an essential future partner – not a colony. They want Ukraine to become France to their Germany. An updated version of Pilsudski’s idea. The elite even try to minimize the slaughter of 60,000-100,00 of their own civilians by UPA during World War II while pursuing rapprochement.

                  Your solution involving territorial readjustment is quite just in principal. Though Ukraine a pure blue/orange division would result in a weirdly shaped country surrounded on three side by Russia and Belarus. Perhaps a voluntary population exchange – pro-EU people from other “blue” oblasts (there are many such people, even though they are a minority) can move in, while anti can take their places. The other factor to consider is that the youth in the “blue” parts of Ukraine prefer the EU (I haven’t seen data for Odessa but I have for Donetsk – and if more Donetsk youth prefer the EU over the CU, then this is probably true of Odessa also). As the old pro-CU people die out, you may have, in 20 years, former Ukrainian oblasts now in Russia clamoring to undo their parents’ decision and to link up with Ukraine next door. Such a situation would be a source of instability.

                  If adjustments were to be made, I would give Crimea and the Donbas up, leaving a geographically compact entity. Give the southern oblasts still in Ukraine cultural autonomy, as the Sudatenland enjoyed in prewar Czechoslovakia.

                  None of this would happen, of course – international borders are seen as sacred. If the utterly ridiculous entity of Bosnia-Herzogovina is kept intact, Ukraine will be also.

                • Misha says:

                  The older population dying out theory downplays how the young might later change their minds over time, upon seeing EU limits.

                  Younger folks are known to be a bit more naive. It’s not impracical to believe that EU enthusiasm might wane.

                • yalensis says:

                  Dear AP:
                  I was just joking about you “giving away a secret”. I’m sure it wasn’t a secret, although you articulated this Polish strategy/POV better than anyone I’ve seen.
                  Anyhow, I forgot to mention a crucial part of any partition scheme, which is that the new EU-based Ukraine could never (by international treaty) be allowed to join NATO, since that is far too big a military threat to Russia.

                  Having said all that, I agree that this peaceful partition plan is a pipe dream, because there is no international mechanism to do it. And Americans will never settle for half a pie, they want to take the Black Sea for NATO, hence there will probably be a war.

                  “Half a league, half a league, half a league onward…” etc

  30. peter says:

  31. Misha says:

    This has an anti-Russian leaning sovok tilt:


    Note the comments on the Lenin statue being taken down in Kiev.

    Being against chauvinism doesn’t necessarily include betraying your country to its enemies, which is what Lenin (in the opinion of some) did on several occasions. On this point, some in contemporary Russian officialdom have leaned towards this view. Lenin conveniently ignored the anti-Russian motivated chauvinism of others.

    Someone out there told me what I already knew about Keith’s sis. I try to judge folks on an individual basis.

    Doesn’t surprise that Svoboda were apparently behind the taking down of the Lenin statue. They’ve a Captive Nations Committee mindset of negatively linking Soviet and Russian as one. On the other hand, there’re those who aren’t as fond of the Soviet period, while not disliking Russia/Russians. Hence, taking down a Lenin statue isn’t necessarily anti-Russian, along the lines of hypothetically defaming monuments honoring the likes of Suvorov, Pushkin, Catherine the Great, as well as Khmelnitsky and Gogol. Among a noticeable number of svidomites, the last two get more of a pass on account of their origin on what’s now internationally known as Ukraine, in conjunction with the pride they exhibited regarding their place of birth. (In Gogol’s case, there has been some modern day myth making previously discussed at this venue.)

    This morning’s CNN aired Fareed Zakari GPS had this short bit on Ukraine:


    Overly broad and inaccurate comments on the Lenin statue’s takedown, as well as Ukraine’s past, present and future options.

  32. peter says:

  33. peter says:

  34. kirill says:

    Thanks to all the stupid links to twitter and other offsite links this page is barely loadable. And I have a fast internet connection and powerful computer. Perhaps a certain one not Johnny clown who refuses to even post sentences should be banned from linking to other sites. Either post content or GTFO.

    • Misha says:

      Some of the posted Tweets by the **** have value.

    • marknesop says:

      Links to offsite content are not what is slowing the page down; it’s the large number of comments, and most especially all the embedded YouTube clips. I have started a post on the Ukrainian fracas, so save some of your commentary for it so that we will not have talked the issue to death before it is even posted.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Yeah, same’s happening here and I was wondering at first whether my internet provider was at fault, but it’s these soft-arse twitter “tweets” having to load that seem to be what is causing this really long loading time.

      I still for the life of me can’t understand this obsession with tweeting every damn second about one’s precious life.

      I by chance read one of Shaun Walker’s the other day, where he “tweeted” that although it was advantageous having a hotel room facing onto the Maidan, the downside was the endless noise on the square day and night.

      Poor soul! The price one has to pay for having to report one of the turning points in the history of man’s struggle for freedom.

      • astabada says:

        Moscow Exile wrote:

        “[…] to report one of the turning points in […] history”

        You’re a fool not to recognize the modern John Reed

      • marknesop says:

        I don’t get it. I’m certainly not defending the value of posting Tweets – except where they verify what a person actually said, much as a short email would – since I agree with you the medium is a low-value communication which encourages users to record every mundane moment of their zero-drama lives to a similar degree that Facebook does. But how does posting such links – even a lot of them – slow down page loading? Embedded video clips do, because they are bandwidth soaks. But posting a link to a 5 Mb PDF file does not absorb as much computer power as posting the entire document would.

        We used to experience slow page loading here when the comments got much above 500, and this was especially notable when the comments contained embedded video, before Tweets became much of the rage they seem to be now. Whatever the case, I’m working on the new post. Meanwhile, slow page loading seems to be a minor problem for me and I am on a wireless connection, which is slower than direct.

        • kirill says:

          Every little photo in those twitter links is served by some machine and it takes time to process the requests even if the total size of these thumbnails is small. It is quite easy to verify that it is these photos and the youtube videos that are slowing this page down. Just kill the page in the shortly after it starts to download and you will see all the text in every post (including the twitter links) and what is missing are those thumbnails and the youtube videos. Since there are a lot of these idiotic spam twitter “posts” there is a significant time penalty for loading this page. There are much fewer youtube links.

          • peter says:

            There are much fewer youtube links.

            The number of youtube and twitter links on this page as of now is 40 and 49, respectively. The rest of your theory is bollocks, too.

            • marknesop says:

              Here’s an interesting website that identifies many of the pitfalls, although it’s mostly Greek to me because I am not a techie or a programmer. A repeat offender is multiple javascripts, although I think they’re talking more about a static website and its content rather than a comment forum which gets slower with the accumulation of comments.

              It occurs to me also that I do not have the same problem because I am viewing the comments in the “Comments” pane of WordPress rather than on the site itself, and when I do have to go to the post itself for some reason, it does load very slowly.

              • patient observer says:

                It takes about 50 seconds at the moment to load on my Macbook Air. The DSL connection is nothing to write home about, about 4.8 Mbps download speeds. Once its loaded, navigation is smooth and fast.

        • AKarlin says:

          I partially disagree with peter. I do think Tweets substantially slow down website loading, though not as much as YouTube videos. I once made a post with ~20 embedded tweets and it took an ass-long time to load, even relative to much longer posts with many images.

          That said, I disagree with peter’s critics as to the utility of tweets. They are very succinct (you have to be, if you only have 140 characters to make your point, so it militates against verbose waffling) and create a snapshot of history as it unfolds. They can contain a lot of information for their length, and take literally a second to paste in. As such, they are a very effective tool for commenting, especially when comment threads get very big and it becomes hard to justify very long comments which are as like as not to be lost in the sea of other comments.

          However, the fundamental issue here is the number of comments. Once they go above 500, loading becomes much slower. That is why I rarely comment once threads get that long – it’s simply too much bother to load the page and keep track of all the different discussions.

          It is good to hear that Mark is working on a new post. There are a couple of suggestions I can make that will resolve this issue:

          1) The use of “Open Threads.” Aka threads without content, which are purely placeholders for discussion. They can be renewed easily and quickly once they hold 300-500 comments.

          2) If Mark were to move to self-hosted, he can download the bbPress plugin which addends a forum to a WordPress blog.


          This is especially pertinent in light of The Russia Debate closing down.

          • marknesop says:

            I’m sorry to hear that – I liked The Russia Debate, and I thought it was a very good forum in an easily-understandable and manageable format. But there’s still hope; I see you have offered to let someone else run it. Patrick Armstrong was quite passionate about it, perhaps he will do it. Or maybe Moscow Exile; I have been thinking he was ready to take up a project of his own. That’s not meant to discourage you from commenting here, Dennis, I prize your input. But you would be quite capable of running a site like that as well.

            • Misha says:

              Better yet, is to see valid and underrepresented sources in more high profile situations.

              I’m not interested in folks who issue behind the scene insults against valid and underrepresented talent, while being more civil in the open.

              Shifting gears a bit, on tonight’s Al Jazeera America, Joie Chen had a Mr. Sakiw from a NY based Ukrainian-American org on. I don’t have a link, as it doesn’t seem available right now.

              If I’m not mistaken, that segment shows McCain telling Yanukovych face to face not to buckle down to Russia. Imagine the outcry if Putin were to do that from Russia’s perspective. Sakiw went onto saying how Ukraine had a 1000 year history with the West. No follow-up on how if true, that applies to Russia. People like McCain have contributed greatly to this zero sum game either-or scenario, which in actuality is the kind of old school thinking that Russia is ironically accused of in some circles.

              Sakiw talked about a broad and ill defined Russian pressure. No mention of specifics and laws violated of course.

              • Misha says:

                On that comparative example, scratch Putin, who is in a way more responsible position than the anti-Serb/anti-Russian leaning ignoramus McCain.

                We see how Russian official Sergey Glazyev (Ukrainian born at that) was recently spun in The Economist. as well as a National Interest article by John Schindler. Matter previously brought up by yours truly.

                I note that Sakiw has previous contacts with Chuck Schumer. No surprise there.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              Natalya Vladimirovna would not entertain such a thought that I spend time running a site: she has long taken to calling my PC “твоя подруга”.


            • Misha says:

              Via RFE/RL, I saw an Edward Lucas Tweet, saying that this article by Orlando Figes might be the worst article on Ukraine, which he has seen:


              Note the tabloid title “There is No Ukraine” from the venue in question. Did that that title come from Dr. Figes or the editor?

              The opening is pretty basic stuff. The comments section includes Adrian Karatnycky, among other nay sayers.

              I didn’t login to read the whole article. Is it really worse than Robert Coalson’s not too distant piece on Ukraine’s past?


              The above linked article by Coalson is discussed in this piece:





              If Figes’ piece is that bad, two possible aspects might be at play, having to do with some poor selection judgment among high profile venues and perhaps (without meaning to get overly conspiratorial) a setup job of sorts against those with valid disagreement about articles like the one by Coalson. On that last thought, Edward Lucas is adept at pouncing on cherry picked points which don’t go along with his preference.

              On another front, this panel could’ve been improved upon:


              • Hunter says:

                While it might be the worst article on Ukraine that Ed Lucas has ever seen, I can definitely say it is the worst article on Czechoslovakia. Ever. From the article itself:

                “Given how divided Ukraine is on these issues — and how incompatible Russia’s desires are with the European Union’s — Ukraine ought to consider applying a precedent from elsewhere in eastern Europe: deciding the country’s fate by referendum. The 1993 partition of Czechoslovakia, the so-called velvet divorce, was a mostly amicable division that was ratified, and thus legitimized, by the country’s own citizens. Ukrainian politicians could similarly allow the public to decide the basic course of the country’s foreign policy. It would be a messy process, and there would be many who argue reasonably that Ukrainian identity consists precisely in maintaining some link with both East and West. But foreign policy by referendum would be preferable to the permanent division of Ukraine, which is looking increasingly like a possibility. And given Ukraine’s tragic twentieth-century history, it would certainly be preferable to a solution imposed by an outside power. ”

                I don’t know which universe Orlando Figes is writing from, but in this universe there was no referendum on the dissolution of Czechoslovakia. There were elections for leaders who had varying demands ranging from tighter federation, to looser confederation to totally independent states. Heck, President Havel actually resigned rather than oversee the dissolution because he opposed it. And a poll shortly after the dissolution showed only 36-37% of Czechs and Slovaks actually favoured the dissolution. Had it actually been put to a referendum then Czechoslovakia might still be around today as the Slovak parties would have found themselves without the popular mandate to back the independence they desired, while the Czech parties would probably back away from the “tighter federation or full separation!” stance they took.

      • AKarlin says:

  35. Misha says:

    Oh shucks!


    **** ’em!

    Off the news feeds, Louganis wants US athletes to become activists in Sochi.

    • marknesop says:

      Suddenly the decision of anyone who normally does not attend the Olympics to not attend at the Olympics is weighted with deep symbolism. I’m sure this brave show of homosexual solidarity on the part of the French government will restore overnight its lost popularity with the French people. I will not be attending the Olympics, either, because I am protesting against France and Germany’s governments.

      • Misha says:

        Johnnie Weir is scheduled to be there.

        The French and German statements serve to encourage other Western countries to follow the same or similar pattern.

        As discussed at this thread, the Article 6.13.1 law in question was a mistake. At the same time, there’re people in Russia who’ve a I don’t give a **** what others think mindset.

  36. Moscow Exile says:

    The Guardian coverage of the Maidan protest, which article has over 600 comments in its wake.

    The Guardianistas bang on and on about “Kremlin bots” working overtime in the thread and it’s “Putin this…” and “Putin that…” off them all the time, and Russia has never acknowledged its guilt for “Holdomor” etc. …

    All this is spiced up with generally written in bad English comments from Ukrainians thanking the Guardianistas for their support, damning the Moskals, and, occasionally issuing out English lessons to some native English speakers for their use of the definite article in front of “Ukraine”, which I think is a bit bloody thick: I don’t tell Ukrainians how to speak their mother tongue, so why should they try to lay down their “rules” concerning English syntax?

    (As an à propos, mes amis, only the other day a Russian here had the temerity to pick me up for saying “on the Arbat”. He told me that “the rule is” no articles before street names. I pointed out to him that one also says “the Strand” and “the Mall” in English, and “the Champs-Élysées” as well – granted, this latter is just shorthand, as it were, for “Champs-Élysées Avenue” – but to no avail: in his smart-arse opinion, I was speaking my mother tongue wrongly.)

    Anyway, amidst this general clutter of Guardianista Angst concerning Putin, McCain, the Ukraine, Corruption and the lot of “gays” in Russia etc.- mustn’t forget them, must we? – there popped up these two comments, which for me, at least, have the smack of veracity, but then I’m a “Kremlin bot”, am I not?

    From a certain BarrieHebb, 16/12/2013, 12;15 pm:

    “I am on Maidan now – it does not appear to me to be the popular protest suggested in mass western media – the barricades look for show and people just pass through them like normal – people are lighting fires in basic garbage cans – and someone somewhere is financing (or groups) a lot of organized food provisions. This is not spontaneously possible. we all need to look deeper and critique what is happening – not all protests are equal – and my first impression of this one is a sham. Well, and a shame – the vast majority of people are not having their voices heard and the Parliament is not functioning as it should – this is where the focus ought to be so the various sides can actually iron out some form of compromise and strategy forward that suits as many of the people as possible – rather than pitting one small group against another.”

    And from fellow “bot” VoiceFromNowhere, 16/12/2013, 5:50 pm, there comes:

    “Do you really want to know what this riot in Kiev is now? According to locals, it’s unbearable stench of urine, hordes of rats, high crime rate in Kiev (because all police are concentrated near Independence Square), enraged locals, neo-Nazis running the show, etc. Is it the right way to fight for democracy? If it is, then the Ukrainians actually deserve something better than that.
    Ukrainians, forget the EU and join the Customs Union of Russia, Belorus and Kazakhstan where you rightly belong and where you will have equal rights with them. Europe will destroy you, finally and totally. Europe doesn’t need a strong Ukraine.”

    However, “alexfromKiev”, who is clearly not a native speaker of English, so lucidly reprimands such postings with:

    “What is truly funny is that kremlin bots provide here on UK resource misleading information about the events in Ukraine and convince each other that it is better to Ukraine to join Tayozhiy Soyuz (Putin’s block of post-USSR dictatorship states) than EU.

    Whom you convince guys here? British? :)))) Or post RIA-Novosti agency Putin have made into kremlin’s proraganda megaphone in the Western mass-media?”


    And no “the” in front of “Ukraine” as well!

    • marknesop says:

      I suppose Yanukovych’s reason for leaving the Maidan more or less undisturbed is so that the population will get a good long look at the protesters, shitting in alleyways and sleeping in cobbled-together constructions of broken boards, the stink and the rhetoric, and make up their own minds about who is pragmatic and who is acting like an idiot. As a strategy it’s not bad, because it will have the effect of not only sickening the population on this demonstration, but will undermine in advance support for the next.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Down in Kiev Doo-Doo Land.

        More pictures of the barricaded Maidan here.

        By the way, Western journalists are still going on about the determination of the mob being revealed by their willingness to camp out in sub-zero (centigrade) temperatures, braving the intense cold for the sake of freedom and democracy and mom’s apple pie etc.

        Well, the daytime temperatures in Kiev have not been sub-zero for several days now, though they did fall to minus 13C one night last week, and at night it has been of late only a degree or so celsius below zero. The temperature right now (20:30 Kiev time) is minus 1C and daytime temperatures there are forecast not to fall below zero centigrade for at least one week.

  37. yalensis says:

    According to this piece , both American and Israeli Jews are upset about McCain’s meeting in Kyiv with Oleg Tahnybok.
    Tahnybok is the leader of “Svoboda”, a Uktainian neo-Nazi party which traces its routes to the Banderovites and those Ukrainians who assisted the Nazis in killing Jews during WWII.
    McCain met with him and egged him on.

    Head of Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem Efraim Zuroff reminded people that Tahnybok won Wiesenthal award for “top 10 anti-Semites in the world” of 2010.
    Wiesenthal branch in Los Angeles recommended to U.S. State Dept that Tahnybok be denied entry to U.S.

  38. yalensis says:

    And file this one under OUCH!
    President of Polish Academy of Sciences Michał Kleiber advises Ukrainians to look into the mirror and just admit that they are not good enough to be members of European Union.

    Sorry old chaps, you just don’t cut the mustard when it comes to meeting European standards.

    • Misha says:

      In such an instance, I prefer putting in as “European”, to highlight how the EU and a good number of others have twisted the actual definition of European.

  39. astabada says:

    Has anyone been following recent developments in Afghanistan?

    The US pressure on Karzai has reached the level of open threaten of death. Either that, or Kerry is a complete idiot:

    “I believe that [Afghan President] Hamid Karzai — either he or his successor — will sign this.”

    (emphasis added)

    • marknesop says:

      I don’t think Kerry is threatening Karzai with physical death so much as he is political death; he seems to be suggesting if Karzai will not sign the SOF agreement, the USA will withdraw its support of him and throw its weight behind any candidate who will. Trouble is, those are a little thin on the ground in Afghanistan, and it was Karzai who prolonged the American presence when most Afghans wanted them out, as much for preservation of his own safety as anything else. I can’t imagine where the USA would find a pro-American candidate who could also win popular support.

      I believe the USA sees the end of the Karzai era coming, anyway. The article points out the presidential elections are in April, which is not far away, and Karzai is already winding up his final term. Western articles suggesting Karzai is planning something tricky to prolong his rule merely suggest the west is fed up with Karzai and wants him gone, or is prepared to burn him in order to ingratiate itself with his likely successor. The U.S. government plainly wants to stay on although it is not accomplishing much now, and domestic American support for extending the commitment is rock-bottom low. This suggests the U.S. government purpose is strategic rather than philanthropic, which should surprise nobody.

      • KenM says:

        The USA tried the political gambit the last time against Karzai, putting in a lot of ‘administrative resourses’ in backing their chosen successor Abdullah Abdullah – didn’t work out.
        Karzai may not have much real power in regards to how far his writ runs in the country, but he has proved himself to be a wily political player & deal-maker between local factions – too wily for the US when it comes down to local politics there.

        Meanwhile Karzai has released the text of the US-Afghan agreement as a countermove, & it’s about as bad as anyone following this would of expected :-
        The US is not putting in bases, it’s just putting in a large number of “facilities and areas”, which are provided for free by the Afghans (in perpetuity?); the Afghan military must operate/convert their equipment to NATO standards (!?); immunity for all US personnel & contractors; and the US can operate any kind of vehicle, plane, etc. free from any kind of local laws or control (ie. ultimately they will control the land & the airspace).

        MK Bhadrakumar has a good writeup of it here:

        • marknesop says:

          That is a good article; he covers all the bases. Oops; I mean “areas and facilities”. This sounds just like the agreement negotiated (read, “bullied through”) with Iraq, and there did not seem to be much enthusiasm for renewing that – on Iraq’s part, at least – when decision time came round.

          While this article did not go so far as to say the USA was threatening Karzai with death, it does report the USA threatened him with instigation of civil war. Considering it is only his considerable security detail and his reluctance to go beyond the limits of Kabul that keep him alive, this might amount to more or less the same thing.

  40. Moscow Exile says:

    Latest news:

    Ukraine scores $15 billion from Russia, 33% gas discount

    Raise that Europe/USA!

    What a crafty old artful dodger Yanukovich is!

    Does not the expression “being taken for a ride” seem appropriate here, although who exactly is being taken for said ride is not quite so apparent?

    • marknesop says:

      Ha, ha!! Not entirely unexpected, but we will have to see what Yanukovych gave away under the table. Russia’s main motivation for complaining about the unpaid gas bill Ukraine owed Moscow was because it feared the EU would persuade Ukraine to default on the debt, or that it otherwise would not ever see the money, which the western press tried to warp into a threatened “trade war” with Ukraine, but now all is sweetness and light and Yanukovych is back in The Circle Of Trust. Not because he’s actually trustworthy, obviously, so there must be a reason Russia feels this venture is safe.

      I wonder what effect this will have on the Maidan, not to mention Yanukovych’s re-election prospects (although it’s early days yet for that).

      I notice Yanukovych said that Russia and Ukraine would have to work closely together to “avoid mistakes” in future. I may be reading too much into it, but that suggests to me that Yanukovych now regards his overtures to the EU as a mistake, and one that will not be repeated. That will certainly harden the west against him, although that mortar was pretty much set anyway. But it will certainly intensify western efforts to undermine him and dislodge him from office. 2014 looks likely to be The Year Of The Protester in Ukraine. That and any political scandals which can be manufactured.

      • Hunter says:

        Hmm…well let’s see. A reduction for $400 per 1,000 cubic meters to $268 is reduction of 33%. However as the deal with Armenia shows (they will now pay $189 per 1,000 cubic meters down from $270 per 1,000 cubic meters before Armenia agreed to join the Customs Union) there would still be some amount of room for further negotiation…maybe down to or just under $200 per 1,000 cubic meters.

        And a 33% reduction in the price of electricity bills will probably go quite some way to helping Yanukovych regain favour with his electoral base going into 2015.

        A selective default by Ukraine in 2014 on some of the debt owed (possibly the non-CIS debt) might become more likely as Ukraine would now have nothing to lose with the EU and US hardening towards Yanukovych as a result of his move for better relations with Russia. Of course, while Ukraine’s international financial profile will take a beating, the fact a lot of people overlook is that other countries have defaulted on their debt in the past and recovered. Whether Ukraine would follow along the type of default Russia experienced in 1998 (defaulting on domestic debt and placing a moratorium on foreign debt repayment….which under some definitions would be considered a default on foreign debt) or more like Argentina in the 2000s remains to be seen (assuming there is some kind of default, maybe there won’t be).

        As the EU and IMF were only offering a combined $11.98 billion ($11.13 billion IMF loan and $830 million from the EU along with the IMF loan) but attaching unpalatable conditions with it, the EU/IMF will now have to come back with something in excess of US$15 billion AND without the conditions they were previously attaching to the IMF loan. As the IMF is not in the business of giving away money for long term objectives (remember the IMF is about giving out loans with a specified repayment period to be accompanied by measures that they believe will enable them to get back that money as quickly as possible; that is the primary objective no matter what they may say about developing a country) the IMF will probably balk at this, leaving the EU with the prospect of coughing up the cash on it’s own (unlikely; EU voters will probably rebel at the prospect of bailing out Ukraine in a similar manner to how Greece was bailed out but without the conditions…plus Spanish and Greek voters would probably riot at the news).

        If Yanukovych wins in 2015 on the back of cheaper gas and more financial breathing room thanks to Russia buying Ukrainian bonds, then after 2015 Yanukovych might move towards joining the Customs Union. After all it would be his final term under the Constitution and he would no longer have to worry about re-election. On the other hand he might want to wait until after the 2017 parliamentary elections during which time he would have 3 years until the next election in which he could hope for the Customs Union to benefit Ukraine enough that his successor-candidate in the PoR can hope to win a term and his colleagues in the PoR in parliament would then have another 5 years to hope the Customs Union benefits would come in time for their re-election in 2021.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Shit! This means that I, as a Russian taxpayer*, am helping to subsidizing those Khokhlyi.

      This calls for a protest!

      Aux barricades, mes enfants!

      *It seems that Klitchko and I are are polar opposites: that Ukrainian patriot has a permit for residence in Germany as a citizen of a foreign state and pays his taxes there, whereas I have a similar permit for residence in the Evil Empire, where I too pay my taxes.

      Bet he pays more taxes than I do though!

      Although…perhaps not?


  41. Sam says:

    I’m reading several reports on twitter that Gorbachev died, but there’s nothing in the news. True or fake?

    • Moscow Exile says:

      No news here of Gorbachev’s death; there were similar rumours of his demise last year as well.

      When he does pop his clogs, though, there’ll be affected grief in the West, but few here (Moskva) will shed a tear over his death.

      I have often experienced great amazement expressed by Westerners on their learning of Gorbachev’s unpopularity amongst his fellow countrymen.

      • marknesop says:

        I haven’t seen anything, either, although I didn’t really look into it too deeply and am not on Twitter. But I well remember Gorbachev’s heyday when it was ongoing, and a place certainly is reserved in advance in western memory for him as A Great Man.

        Russia likely is better off for his contribution to the destruction of the Soviet Union, but that owes much to political events which took place after his departure. About the kindest thing I can think of to say about him is that he was not as destructive as Yeltsin.

        • R.C. says:

          Yes Exile,

          I too experience western astonishment whenever I have to break the news on Gorby’s lack of popularity in Russia to them.

          Needless to say, if/when he does eventually go, it’ll give the west another opportunity to engage in another round of endless Putin bashing as we’ll be told (by western rags) how much Putin has “demolished” the democratic principles that Gorby set – though Gorby never won a democratic election in his life. His lack of popularity in Russia will either be ignored so a discussion of WHY that’s the case can avoid discussion. The few papers that do admit it will predictably blast the Russian public for not embracing the virtuous legacy of this great man.

          All pretty predictable stuff when it happens…….

    • peter says:

    • Jen says:

      Apparently in August this year some hackers broke into RIA Novosti’s Twitter account and planted news of Gorbachev’s death there.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Слухи о смерти Горбачёва — инцидент в Интернете, произошедший 22-23 мая 2012 года.


        22 мая 2012 года анонимом с IP-адреса британского Парламента в 19:29 по UTC была сделана правка в статье про экс-президента СССР Михаила Горбачёва в английской Википедии, где он написал приписал дату его якобы смерти. Спустя 7 минут правка была откачена, но вскоре слухи о «смерти» Горбачёва распространились в Твиттере.
        Позднее сам Горбачёв дал официальное опровержение слухам о своей смерти, заявив «Меня давно хоронят, а я жив и здоров». Новость получила широкую огласку в СМИ, в том числе и на телевидении.


        Rumours of Gorbachev’s death — an incident that occurred on the Internet on 22-23 May, 2012.


        On May 22, 2012 from an anonymous IP- addresses of the British Parliament, at 19:29 UTC an edit was made to the English language Wikipedia article about former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, in that the date of his alleged death was given. After 7 minutes the edit was rolled back, but rumours of Gorbachev’s “death” soon spread on Twitter.

        Gorbachev himself later gave a formal denial to rumours of his death, stating “I have long been buried, but I am alive and well”. The news received wide publicity in the media, including on television.]

        End of translation

        When a spoof clip of Gorbachev’s funeral was later posted on You Tube, someone commented:

        К сожалению это чмо ещё не померло.

        [It’s a pity he’s still not died.]

        A sentiment that I am certain would have been that of the majority of the ethnic Russian citizens of the former USSR, and not a few of those citizens of different ethnicities in former Soviet republics other than the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic as well, apart from those of the Baltic republics and the Republic of Chechnya, of course.

        It has not gone unnoticed amongst many Russian citizens that Gorbachev’s 80th birthday celebrations took place in London, where there was a held a massive gala at the Royal Albert Hall eulogizing “Gorby”, hailed there as “The Man Who Changed the World”.

        At the Kevin Spacy and Sharon Stone hosted “star-studded charity concert at the Royal Albert Hall” guests included Arnold Schwarzenegger and noted “homophobe” Lech Walesa.

        It amazed me at the time that few in the West queried why Gorbachev did not hold his 80th birthday thrash in Moskva.

        Perhaps the mindset of the Western bydlo “reasoned” that the Evil One would not have allowed such a celebration or that Russia was too piss-poor to organize such a bean feast.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Incidentally, as regards claims made by certain parties that Gorbachev is “The Man That Changed The World”, I have always maintained that the unsung hero of the August 1991 Moskva putsch that ousted the never once in his lifetime democratically elected former General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and from 1988 until 1991 the head of state of the USSR, was Major Sergei Evdokimov, chief of staff of a Motor Rifle Division of the Tamanskaya tank battalion, which division had been assigned to guard the White House.

          When the putschists’ so-called State Committee on the State of Emergency seized power, supported by paratroopers, armoured units of the Tamanskaya Division and the Kantemirovskaya tank division had rolled into Moskva.

          However, very quickly Evdokimov, declared his loyalty to the leadership of the Russian SFSR. (See: Путч. Хроника тревожных дней – “The Putsch: A Chronicle of Anxious Days”.) This declaration was followed by Yeltsin’s widely reported climbing onto one of the Tamanskaya battalion tanks guarding the White House in order to address the crowd. Somehow, this episode was included in the state media’s evening news, albeit that the putschists were supposedly in control of the media.

          I have been told on several occasions by Muscovites that after Evdokimov had made his statement of loyalty to the government, he ordered his troops not to open fire; his tanks, in case, were unarmed when they entered Moskva and that Yeltsin, always the opportunist, knew this when he, with Major Evdokimov’s permission, bravely clambered onto a tank deck to make his oration. (See: Act of Desperation – the 1991 Moscow „Putsch”.

          Although the Moscow District military commander had planned an assault against the defenders of the White House, it all came to nought, as Evdokimov’s declaration of loyalty to the government allowed Yeltsin to form a defence committee made up of retired senior military commanders and others under the leadership of General Konstantin Kobets, an elected Russian Federation Deputy.

          I maintain that Yeltsin’s stance and the formation of Yeltsin’s defence committee was only made possible following Evdokimov’s declaration of loyalty to the government.

        • Hunter says:

          They would probably latch onto both reasons most likely; the Evil One would not have allowed such a celebration AND even if he would have Russia was too piss-poor to organize it anyway.

  42. yalensis says:

    According to REGNUM , these are the 14 points that were agreed upon/signed to, at the Putin-Yanukovych summit:
    (1) Protocol of the 6th session of the Russia-Ukraine inter-governmental commission. (?)
    (2) A plan to jointly (Ukraine/Russia) celebrate the 200th birthday of [Ukrainian poet and painter] Taras Shevchenko in 2014.
    (3) A plan to regulate trade restrictions between Ukraine-Russia in 2013-2014.
    (4) Plan to jointly manufacture AN-124 type airplanes, with D-18T motors.
    (5) Protocol involving delivery of goods in 2014. (?)
    (6) Memorandum concerning intentions to build ships.
    (7) Something to do with building a bridge [?] over the Kerchensky Strait.
    (8) Joint action and exchange of information in the case of a nuclear/radiation accident. [yalensis: that’s scary]
    (9) Agreement for both sides to police the border area known as as “Kujbyshevo”.
    (10) Other miscellaneous controls over Russia-Ukraine border.
    (11) Coordination to control flow of illegal narcotics.
    (12) Joint action to prevent/deal with consequences of emergency situations and accidents, including industrial accidents, catastrophes, natural disasters, etc.
    (13) Working together in the field of rocket/space technology.
    (14) And last but not least …. [drumroll] …. Agreement between Gazprom and Naftogaz as per the price of gas through the year 2019! Yay!

    To thee and thine hereditary ever
    Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom;
    No less in space, validity, and pleasure,
    Than that conferr’d on Goneril. Now, our joy,
    Although the last, not least; to whose young love
    The vines of France and milk of Burgundy
    Strive to be interess’d; what can you say to draw
    A third more opulent than your sisters? Speak.

    Nothing, my lord.



  43. yalensis says:

    Corollary to Ukraine-Russia gas agreement: Ukraine turning away from shale-gas speculations with EU and freezing all fracking. Maybe Ukes finally realized this shale-gas thing was mostly a scam? The British-Dutch company Royal Dutch Shell was hoping to start blasting open Ukrainian portion of Earth’s crust in hope of extracting shale gas. Even Azarov in the past had expressed hope that the shale gas lurking beneath the Crust could power Ukraine for the next 150 years. Now Ukes are saying, “Fugeddaboutit” to fracking. Old-style gas is best gas!

    (Maybe that whole fracking thing was just a bluff, to get Russia to cut prices on real gas? If so, then well played, Ukes! Your little ruse worked, and you got a superb discount!)

  44. Moscow Exile says:

    Meanwhile, back on the homosexual front of the USA’s never ending campaign against the Russian Klingon state, the Guardian reports today that “Barack Obama is sending Russia a clear message about its treatment of gays and lesbians”.

    You see, they are so middle-ages there and they have “anti-gay” laws and there is no freedom and…

    Anyway, as I’m sure many Russians on hearing this news would say:

    Кто, черт возьми, Билли Джин Кинг?

  45. Moscow Exile says:

    One commenter to the above linked Guardian article states:

    “Another part of the problem is that the “average Russian” does not have English as a first, second or third language and will read only Russian language sites (this also applies to other states of the former Soviet Union).

    They are fed a diet of state controlled media with various token “independent” media outlets that must toe the government line or be closed down.”

    You see, the truth exists only in English.

    I get sick of these Anglophones that believe that the rest of the world talks shit.

    And they really do believe that “everyone speaks English”: if you don’t, well you’re “kinda dumb”. Telling these freaks that some people can’t speak English evokes the same reaction off them as when you tell them you can’t abide Coca-Cola and think that McDonald’s is shit.

    I’ve lived in Sweden, Belgium and Germany and, believe it or not, I’ve met quite a few there whose command of English is minimal. Then again, I’ve lived in the sticks in most places and have not visited “Gay Bars” there or places where they dance to “Acid House”, for example, or strip clubs or other venues beloved of the pampered bourgeois youth and their profligate parents.

    The same person whom I quote above also posted:

    “Much of the reason that “most” Russians (appear to) support this law is because of the conflation in Russia and some of her former states of homosexuality and paedophilia (an association, by and large debunked in the literature).”

    Again, the same bollocks!

    I have replied to that comment thus:

    “Paederasty, not paedophilia, of which paederasty is part, is what most Russians associate with male homosexuality.

    I am sure most Russians are well aware that male heterosexuals form the majority of paedophiles – men who desire sex with little girls.

    However, most Russians believe that the majority of men who desire sex with little boys, namely paederasts, are not heterosexual.

    In fact, in Russian the common term of abuse directed at male homosexuals is ‘pedo’, which is intended to be offensive, of course, because not all homosexual men are paederasts.”

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