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Are the Kiev insurgents neo-nazis?

What if the scrappy demonstrators now drawing fire from government security forces are, in fact, neo-nazis and their allies?  It looks that way to many.

Read the full article at

Well, let's start with this: I never shared the admiration for scrappy street fighting as accomplishing much good since I tried it once as a youth. But I've got to admit the iconography of this one really does rival some of the great romantic revolution narratives. And the extra passion necessary to get that result most often comes from nationalism. Something I think you know I agree with you about somewhat.

That said, if they were all so fascistic, why doesn't Putin like them and why do they want to join the E.U.? I dunno why, maybe it's just me, but joining the E.U. just doesn't seem an extremely nationalist goal.

I do know that we cannot fathom the depth of hatred and/or mistrust of Russians in the general vicinity, going back many generations. My Galacian Polish grandpa used to spit after any mention of the Russians of the early 20th century. To him, the Soviets were a teeny bit better, at least human (if producing a cruel life for his relatives back in the old country,) in that they thought everyone should learn to read and write. Before that, if you weren't Russian, you were basically slave material, apparently. Think not just simple ethnic prejudice, but a little more nuanced along these lines: Native American views of "the white man." Centuries of oppression and being treated as a lesser entity can take their toll.


if they were all so fascistic, why doesn't Putin like them

Well, there are National Socialist Fascists, and KGB fascists...maybe Putin doesn't like them cause "Klitsch" looks better than he does without a shirt...

I, of course, unlike you, have not outgrown the appeal of the memories of Paris in "68

Putin likes whomever wants to move closer to Russia and away from the West, regardless of ideology.

It's just like with the opposition: Many incompatible ideologists are united in their opposition to Y which gives them a weight they wouldn't have separately.

Thanks for the link very informative. After viewing it, I wonder what would you propose, in how to solve the crisis ? 

I can see why the protesters are upset because the President unilaterally made decisions against the peoples Constitution? Trying to go back to a dictatorship.   

The latest news is that the crisis is over...we'll see



An agreement on resolving the crisis in Ukraine was reached at all-night talks involving President Viktor Yanukovich, the opposition and three European Union ministers, the presidential press service has said. Read more:




but Russia declined to endorse the accord and many protesters want Mr. Yanukovych out- -Accord Is Signed in Ukraine but Doubts Are Strong, New York Times, Feb. 21, 2014

Meanwhile, in the Ukrainian parliament:

In a further sign of President Viktor F. Yanukovych’s diminished influence, the Ukrainian Parliament voted to allow the release of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who has been imprisoned for more than two years. In a 310-54 vote, lawmakers decriminalized the count for which she was incarcerated.

It was not immediately clear when Ms. Tymoshenko might be released from a penitentiary in the eastern city of Kharkiv where she has been serving her sentence. But she is still considered one of Mr. Yanukovych’s most potent adversaries.

The vote aimed at releasing her came hours after word of the political deal reached between Mr. Yanukovych and the main opposition leader

Yulia (wikipedia) is not easy to forget once you've seen a picture of her:

The Wikipedia entry makes clear that Putin liked working with Yulia.

NYT report from Kiev in today's print basically describes same: initial protestors of right wing national groups joined by left/liberals and unhappy unemployed youth, etc., as the government reacted: Converts Join With Militants in Kiev Clash

There's a clear problem going forward in that the representatives of the "opposition" involved in any truces or talks are still those right wingers alone. There is no representation of the others. This makes for a result like Egypt--strange bedfellows do not  make for a lasting marriage.

BTW the article has parts that describe precisely why I am no fan of "street fighting" and also what I see in the imagery from the conflict:

“What have humanism and pacifism ever brought to any nation?” he asked, clutching a battered metal shield and a metal rod, his soot-blackened face covered by a brown balaclava. “Revolutions are violent.”

I can't fathom how someone who says they are anti-war can romanticize violent street protests. At their heart, the latter are exactly the same thing as war. Anyone who does it or lionizes it is not truly anti-war. It's just that plain and simple to me. These people are the ones who are truly "anti-war":

Many Ukrainians, who doggedly oppose the government, look with horror at the use of firebombs, rocks and, on occasion, guns to oust the president, who was democratically elected in 2010 and whose future is scheduled to be decided at the ballot box in 2015.

Revulsion is particularly strong in the east of the country, where Mr. Yanukovych first made his career in politics, where most people speak Russian rather than Ukrainian, and where Ukrainian nationalist heroes like Stepan Bandera are viewed as fascist traitors.

“We have a genetic memory of fascism here,” said Anatoly Skripnik, a businessman in the eastern city of Dnepropetrovsk.

I see a very strong equivalence here with violent anti-Vietnam war protests which turned off enough people that could have been with the movement. There did not have to be a "silent majority" supporting continuation of the war. The violent protests helped make them a majority.

The gnarly thing is: Egypt revolution Part I did this part right. And it still didn't work out. But again, violence was part of that problem, turning people (hence the "terrorist" label.) Threatening people's security is threatening civilization, always comes back atcha. Only if police cross a line where they are causing more deterioration of civilization than strengthening it will a majority turn on them. Street fighting isn't just as ugly as war, it's usually even more stupid than most wars.

Well, quiet as it is kept my Vietnam episode was with the Committee for Non-Violent Action out of Voluntown, Connecticut silently picketing the Electric Boat Company in Groton, so my street fighting man cred is thin enough to read through...and, if anything, since that time (as more or less liberally sprinkled through the posts here) I've come closer to Gandhi.  


Indeed, once you have made the strategic decision that armed struggle is simply not on the table, violence as a street tactic is stoopid.


I just like to talk big. (But you knew that already...)


Edit to add:"We'll always have Paris..."

Fascism, Russia, and Ukraine
By Timothy Snyder, New York Review of Books, just put online now & March 20 issue

Contradicts the suggestions of Luhn's piece in The Nation and very much elucidates my query about about Putin. (It's his rival Eurasian Union idea, stupids.) If you really want to understand the situation, highly recommended.

Here is an early graph I feel it is important to quote, countering a lot of what we have been reading, including in Luhr's piece:

The protesters represent every group of Ukrainian citizens: Russian speakers and Ukrainian speakers (although most Ukrainians are bilingual), people from the cities and the countryside, people from all regions of the country, members of all political parties, the young and the old, Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Every major Christian denomination is represented by believers and most of them by clergy. The Crimean Tatars march in impressive numbers, and Jewish leaders have made a point of supporting the movement. The diversity of the Maidan is impressive: the group that monitors hospitals so that the regime cannot kidnap the wounded is run by young feminists. An important hotline that protesters call when they need help is staffed by LGBT activists.

The author's bio. quip would suggest he is not one to glide over any Neo Nazism:

Timothy Snyder is Housum Professor of History at Yale and the author of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. This month, he is to deliver a Philippe Roman Lecture on the origins of the Holocaust at the London School of Economics. (March 2014)

Synder also wrote on topic for the Feb. 20 issue; non-subscribers can access the first five paragraphs, here is the first one along with the photo illustration:

Ukraine: The New Dictatorship

On paper, Ukraine is now a dictatorship. President Viktor Yanukovych, in having the deputies of his Party of Regions endorse an extraordinary packet of legislation, has arrogated decisive political power to himself. After hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians spent weeks in the cold demonstrating for basic human rights and a stronger association with Europe, the president has responded with a violation of human rights and a rather sad imitation of Russia [....]

As we're giving Putin a PR coup in Sochi, he's pulling the strings in Ukraine. He's been pushing hard against Ukraine's drift towards the EU for a decade now.

This really is excellent. It unravels much of the misleading use of labels and explains apparent contradictions. Being nationalist AND wanting to be part of the EU are not contradictory because only a country that is a country can join and prosper in the EU. The original members of the EU have hardly lost their national identities, even if when they share a currency and easy trade relations.

Today, IMO, the labels "communist" and "fascist" hardly mean anything. Better labels might be "democracy" and "dictatorship." The key point is how power is wielded. Putin, as far as I can see, is a fascistic communist, but more accurately, he's a dictator whose primary goal is exercising and holding onto power.

The demagoguery against Jews and LGBTers is also ideologically content-less. That is, the regime leaders don't really hate these people per se. They simply use these archaic passions to control people and hold on to power. It's a similar dynamic, in a way, to the one that holds together the strange set of bedfellows in the Maidan: There's nothing like a common enemy, the more evil and insidious the better, to bring people together and get them moving in the same direction (under your command).

Once you have peace or you've achieved your initial goal, e.g., toppling a regime or stamping out homosexuality, then the cracks in the coalition appear and folks begin wandering off in their own directions and a new enemy must be found to bring everyone back together.


That is an excellent primer.

I think this part deserves repeating:

What does it mean when the wolf cries wolf? Most obviously, propagandists in Moscow and Kiev take us for fools—which by many indications is quite justified.

More subtly, what this campaign does is attempt to reduce the social tensions in a complex country to a battle of symbols about the past. /.../ If people in the West become caught up in the question of whether they are largely Nazis or not, then they may miss the central issues in the present crisis.

Ukrainians are in a struggle against both the concentration of wealth and the concentration of armed force in the hands of Viktor Yanukovych and his close allies. The protesters might be seen as setting an example of courage for Americans of both the left and the right. Ukrainians make real sacrifices for the hope of joining the European Union. Might there be something to be learned from that among Euroskeptics in London or elsewhere? This is a dialogue that is not taking place.

The history of the Holocaust is part of our own public discourse, our agora, or maidan. The current Russian attempt to manipulate the memory of the Holocaust is so blatant and cynical that those who are so foolish to fall for it will one day have to ask themselves just how, and in the service of what, they have been taken in. If fascists take over the mantle of antifascism, the memory of the Holocaust will itself be altered. It will be more difficult in the future to refer to the Holocaust in the service of any good cause, be it the particular one of Jewish history or the general one of human rights.

What I think it means when the wolf cries wolf is that the wolf has gotten much, much better at PR.


I like your point and your choice of clip.

Thinking about it is giving me a headache, though. Along the lines of: in a new globalized world, when some powers-that-be of places with certain ideological divides, or with just certain practical goals, know so much about different, foreign ideological divides, that they can manipulate them to their advantage. Without the fooled knowing any better, because they imagine the ideological divides are the same everywhere as their own.

BTW, and maybe related, I just recalled that I had seen Ta Nehisi Coates @ The Atlantic discuss Synder's book Bloodlands in several very striking blog posts, where he wrote while reading it, as if many things in were hitting him like a bolt of lighting. Including how it was challenging his Afro-Amerocentric education, expanding his thought processes. I found the posts very fascinating reading. I did a quick google to find links to four of those posts if anyone else is interested: here, here, here and here, though I don't know if that is all of them.

Guess it's time for me to stop reading others' interpretations of Bloodlands and read the book myself...I shouldn't be presuming it wouldn't challenge my own education/knowledge on topic...blush

  I prefer the progressive opposition, but even rightist nationalists can have legitimate beefs. The Nation article seems to disapprove of "anti-Russian" sentiment, but doesn't talk about  the reasons Ukrainians don't like Russia.

See Synder's NYRB piece which I posted above your comment, just seconds before you commented. I for one was convinced by it that Luhr has drawn a simplistic and very incorrect picture.

Well, that article certainly complicates things.


Now what?


Edit to add: do we go back to rooting for the scrappy insurgents?  This is very confusing, just when you had me backed into a corner with my buddy Mohandas here...

We root for the Ukrainian people to achieve democracy.

Why should they get it before we do?



Why not?

Enough of American exceptionalism.

Because the world needs it more in the USA-with or without democracy, Ukraine has not been a problem for the world since the fall of Lord Novgorod the Great (ed note, Lord Novgorod is a city, not a person...carry on...)

I was in Novgorod. It has a Kremlin and was a former capital of Russia.

Keeerect, (step aside as the duck descends with your $50.00)

As a bonus,Alexander Nevsky


Edit to add: Mel Gibson, eat you cheesy heart out...

I've been to the Prospekt, too.

I was studying Russian in high school back in the late 60s, and our teacher arranged a trip to the USSR. Brezhnev's time. We were located in this resort on the Finnish Gulf outside of the Leningrad and took side trips to Novgorod, Moscow, and our choice of Georgia or Tashkent/Samarkand, which is what I took.

A few weird was all amazing to my young eyes.

A couple of maps illustrating the Ukranian divide:

Ukraine's protests and the 2010 election results. Click to enlarge. (Max Fisher/Washington Post)

Ukraine's protests and linguistic breakdown. Click to enlarge. (Max Fisher/Washington Post)

The Parliament has apparently taken its own power back (and perhaps grabbed more than it had before it caved?):

Ukraine parliament removes Yanukovich, who flees Kiev in 'coup'
By Timothy Heritage and Pavel Polityuk in KIEV, Sat Feb 22, 2014 10:54am EST

Ukraine's parliament voted on Saturday to remove President Viktor Yanukovich from office, hours after he abandoned his Kiev office to protesters and denounced what he described as a coup.

The apparent toppling of the pro-Russian leader looks likely to dramatically alter the future of the former Soviet republic of 46 million people, pulling it closer to Europe and away from Moscow's orbit.

It is also a stark reversal for Russian President Vladimir Putin's dream of recreating as much as possible of the Soviet Union in a new Eurasian Union, in which Moscow had counted on Yanukovich to deliver Ukraine as a central member [....]


"The cabinet of ministers and ministry of finance are working normally," the cabinet said in a statement. "The current government will provide a fully responsible transfer of power under the constitution and legislation."

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, who had negotiated concessions from Yanukovich with other European foreign ministers in a deal on Friday, tweeted: "No coup in Kiev. Gov. buildings got abandoned. Speaker of Rada (parliament) elected legally." [....]

importantly, the military is supportive:

Military and police leaders said they would not get involved in any internal conflict. The interior ministry responsible for the police said it served "exclusively the Ukrainian people and fully shares their strong desire for speedy change".

"The organs of the Interior Ministry have crossed to the side of the protesters, the side of the people," new Interior Minister Arsen Avakov told Ukraine's Channel 5 TV.

Simon Shuster of Time has an interesting twitter feed as regards counter-revolution support in Russia, like this



Wary Stance From Obama on Ukraine
By Peter Baker, New York Times, Feb. 24/25, 2014

While George W. Bush was inspired by Ukraine’s 2004 revolution, Barack Obama has approached the unrest of 2014 with a more clinical detachment aimed at avoiding instability.

I did not have an advance copy of this article when I made similar comments upthread, I swear.wink

From that NYTs article:

On the ground has been Victoria Nuland, an assistant secretary of state who previously worked for Mr. Bush’s administration and is passionate about anchoring Ukraine in the West. A leaked recording of a conversation she had during the height of the events showed her discussing ways to bring the opposition into the government.

Maybe everything she discussed was just of a theoretical nature. Maybe, but how did they spend that five billion dollars 'promoting democracy in Ukraine" and was it all for high minded reasons? Has that been our consistent way of affecting governments in the past? All do-goodery?

 The one thing I am convinced of is that lots of reporters, pundits, and all propagandists portray such stories as being simply of one side versus one other and then for the justification for taking sides they paint one side as good and the other as evil-bad. I think there is more than one string being pulled and the resulting puppet dance is hard to interpret. 

Here is what Max Blumenthal says.

I was not in any way purporting the Obama administration are major isolationists, they are not like "if they really want a relationship, we will still ignore them". Here's a great example no one is paying attention to:

Obama, Biden Meet with Georgian PM, Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 25 Feb.'14 /

but note, from the article, they do not get into trumpeting anything that might stoke neo-conservative dreams of democracy promotion:

Meeting with the U.S. President was not announced beforehand; Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze said that the meeting was pre-planned but not made public in advance upon request from the White House.  “Of course we knew it in advance, but it was a request from the White House not to pre-announce details of scheduled meetings,” she said

I think you imagine too much power being given to a multi-administration career civil service officer like Nuland to execute her own rogue private policy decisions rather than gather and report her knowledge of her area of designation. When she started out working under Strobe Talbott during the Clinton administration and was placed in current position by Hillary Clinton, not exactly the neo-con faithful. The Obama administration is not Bush, and I fully believe they would not let her "do Bush," as the NYT article says

Turned off by what he saw as Mr. Bush’s crusading streak and seared by the dashed hopes of the Arab Spring, Mr. Obama, aides said, was wary of being proactive in trying to change other societies, convinced that being too public would make the United States the issue and risk provoking a backlash. The difference, aides said, was not the goal but the methods of achieving it.

“These democratic movements will be more sustainable if they are seen as not an extension of America or any other country, but coming from within these societies,”

Did you also notice from the NYT article:

One of the strongest advocates for democracy promotion in Mr. Obama’s circle has been Michael A. McFaul, first the president’s Russia adviser and then ambassador to Moscow. But Mr. McFaul is stepping down. Mr. Obama’s nominee for the assistant secretary of state who oversees democracy programs, Tom Malinowski, has been languishing since July waiting for Senate confirmation.

If you want to really understand wassup, I would suggest you should be more concerned with Malinowski than Nuland.

I just do not buy that things are always going to be as simple as "another Cheney conspiracy" forever in eternity, sorry. I really think it leads to misunderstanding by even approaching things that way.

If you're going to talk about biased journalism, then I will give my opinion that I think a lot of the sources you seem to like to frequent as "alternative" sources to MSM are actually driven by a desire to not let go of Bush derangement syndrome, since it was the source of their claim to fame while Bush was around, which got them their readers, and they just can't let go, can't widen their vision to see a different picture and paradigm, bypassing new and different threats which might also alarm them if they weren't so fixated on old narratives. Like, a meeting with the Georgian government that was actually held and where actual real policies and initiatives were discussed, not some supposed conspiracy with an Asst. Sec. of State with neo-con sympathies going rogue. Always hunting for conspiracies while ignoring reality is not a smart modus operandi, mho, you've got to get a handle on realities first to even be able to understand a conspiracy if there was one.

I think you imagine too much power being given to a multi-administration career civil service officer like Nuland to execute her own rogue private policy decisions rather than gather and report her knowledge of her area of designation. When she started out working under Strobe Talbott during the Clinton administration and was placed in current position by Hillary Clinton, not exactly the neo-con faithful.

So, after Nuland reports back does she return and give the message she is told to deliver? And, regarding Clinton, there are a lot of folks who suggest she is quite a bit neocon-y

The Obama administration is not Bush, and I fully believe they would not let her "do Bush," as the NYT article says.

Maybe correct but your faith in the New York times is a bit stronger than mine.

If you want to really understand wassup, I would suggest you should be more concerned with Malinowski than Nuland.

 I really do want to understand wassup. Could you explain why I should pay more attention to the guy not yet on the job than to the person actually carrying out the diplomacy?

I just do not buy that things are always going to be as simple as "another Cheney conspiracy" forever in eternity, sorry.

I said above, "The one thing I am convinced of is that lots of reporters, pundits, and all propagandists portray such stories as being simply of one side versus one other and then ..."  That was an apparently failed intention to say that I do not think anything about the opposing sides is simple.

... mho, you've got to get a handle on realities first to even be able to understand a conspiracy if there was one.

 I try, oh my God how I try, but




You may or may not enjoy this take on that article:

Steve Sailer: iSteve: Violent overthrow of elected government = "Democracy"


Always guaranteed to put an unusual spin on anything....wink

Pretty well tips me over to believing Synder's version is far more accurate than Luhn's

Especially given that Angry Arab is a proud extreme socialist (hence he often uses "comrade") and would not normally repost something that dissed the World Socialist website unless he believed it.

That said, the far right groups that were involved in the protests are going to cause trouble now, no doubt about it.

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