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The Ukraine crisis and recent Russophobia

Antony Penaud

rst version: 21 May 2014

this version: 27 May 2014
In the last few years, the author noticed unfair reporting on dierent
Russia related issues: Pussy Riot, Anti propaganda law...
The Ukraine crisis and its quasi-uniform reporting in the West has led
him to write this essay.
1 Regime change
Political and identical map In January 2010, Yanukovich (Party of Re-
gions, 35.32%) and Tymoshenko (Fatherland, 25.02%) came top of the 1st
round of the Ukrainian presidential elections. Some of the other candidates
were Yatsenyuk
(6.96%), and Tyanhibok (Svaboda
, 1.96%). On 7 February
2010 and with 51.84%
Yanukovich beat Tymoshenko in the 2nd round and
became Ukraines president for what was thought to be 6 yrs.
The electoral map of these elections
shows a clear and strong separation:
in the South and the East (where there are more russophones and people who
want closer ties with Russia), Yanukovich had more votes in every region. In
particular, in the Donbass (Lugansk region and Donetsk region) Yanukovich
had more than 80%, and in some parts more than 90%. On the other hand, Ty-
moshenko had her best scores (near 90%) in the West of Ukraine, in particular
in the Lviv region. This region (Eastern Galicea) only became part of the USSR
after WW2. Before it was part of Poland, and before WW1 part of the Aus-
tro Hungarian Empire. Unlike the rest of Ukraine, it is not Orthodox. Also, in
the rst round of the elections, Svabodas score was 2030% in Eastern Galicea.
He was part of the Tymoshenko government before the 2010 elections. After the 2010
elections he became one of the leaders of the Fatherland party.
See Appendix.
To put into prespective, Hollande beat Sarkozy with 51.62% in 2012.
It is available on Wikipedia.
Ukraine choose an economic treaty with Russia At the end of 2013,
Yanukovich had to choose between a commercial treaty with the EU, or a com-
mercial treaty with Russia
. The EU option oered Ukraine a USD 838m loan
and (together with the IMF) asked the Ukrainian government to increase gas
bills by 40% and make big budget cuts (austerity). The Russia option oered
Ukraine a loan 18 times that size (USD 15bn) plus 33% discounts on gas prices
Given the better Russia oer, and that Yanukovich had been elected as a pro-
Russia candidate
, it is not surprising that he decided, in November 2013, for
the Russia option
The protests, NATO, the far right Then started protests in Kiev
, and
foreign meddling in Ukrainian aairs. US and European leaders supported the
protesters, they went to Kiev, to the streets and participated in the protests.
On 15 December, John McCain hold the stage and told the protesters the US
support your just cause, and warned the Ukrainian government it would face
sanctions if it went ahead with the trade union with Russia and not with the
EU. That day McCain was on stage with Tyahnibok, the leader of Svaboda
(Svaboda were very present in the protests).
5bn dollars In December 2013, during a conference about Ukraine in Washing-
ton, Victoria Nuland (Assistant Secretary of State) said Since the declaration
of Ukrainian independence in 1991, the United States supported the Ukraini-
ans in the development of democratic institutions and skills in promoting civil
society and a good form of government - all that is necessary to achieve the
objectives of Ukraines European. We have invested more than 5 billion dollars
to help Ukraine to achieve these and other goals.
We can wonder why Ukraine had to make such a binary choice. During the negociation
process, Yanukovich was talking to both organisations (EU and the Russia union). Jose-
Manuel Barroso said in February 2013: one country cannot at the same time be a member of
a customs union and be in a deep common free-trade area with the EuropeanUnion. However,
others, like Jean-Pierre Chev`enement (and de Gaulle in his days), had been promoting a
Europe from Brest [in Brittany, France] to Vladivostok. Vladimir Putin too, in a 2010
Spiegel editorial, proposed a Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Finally, former Secretary
of State Henry Kissinger argued in 2014 that Ukraine shouldnt have had to choose between
East an West, and should be a bridge. Mearscheimer (more about him later) said in 2014:
Ukraine should remain neutral between East and West..
Ukraine imports gas from Russia.
We say pro-Russia to be quick. His party claims to defend the rights of ethnic Russians
and speakers of the Russian language in Ukraine.
Belarus and Kazakhstan are part of the free trade zone too.
Many people were also fed up with the corruption. Note however that corruption had
been a problem in Ukraine for a long time, and the way Tymoshenko became one of the
richest people in Ukraine before entering politics raised many questions. As for the economic
situation in Ukraine and other post Soviet republics, and the responsibilities of the IMF and
Washington, we refer to Globalisation and its discontents by Nobel prize winner Joseph
Two months later, with US support, a democraticallyelected government was overthrown.
But this was not the rst time that the US got involved in Ukrainian aairs, and indeed Nu-
lands quotation species since 1991: according to The Guardians Ian Traynor, activists in
the Orange Revolution (winter 2004-2005) were funded by the US State Department, USAID,
Fuck the EU The interesting part of this leaked conversation
between Nu-
land and Georey Patt (US amabassador in Ukraine) was not the swearing.
Rather, as the BBC commented, it was that this transcript suggests that the
US has very clear ideas about what the outcome should be and is striving to
achieve these goals..
Right Sector In the second part of January, things turned more violent, with
barricades being erected in the streets of Kiev. The paramilitary organisation
Right Sector (it had been founded in November 2013 as a coalition of dierent
far right groups) was one of the main actors of these violent stages. Many peo-
ple had come to Kiev from the Lviv region (and other regions, mainly from the
West) in December or January.
Snipers On 18-20 February, snipers shot at people in the streets of Kiev.
In a leaked conversation
between Catherine Ashton (Vice-President of the EU
and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Aairs and Security Policy
for the EU) and Urmas Paet
(Minister of Foreign Aairs for Estonia), Paet
said And second, what was quite disturbing, this same Olga [Bogomolets, a
doctor who helped the wounded] told as well that all the evidence shows that
the people who were killed by snipers from both sides, among policemen and
then people from the streets, that they were the same snipers killing people
from both sides (...) And its really disturbing that the new coalition they dont
want to investigate what exactly happened, so that there is now stronger and
stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovich, but it
was somebody from the new coalition..
It is telling that Ashton did not seem too concerned about what Paet had just
told her. She in fact said If the Rada doesnt function then youll have complete
chaos. So, if you thought being an activist and a doctor is very, very impor-
tant but youre not a politician and somehow theyve got to come to a kind of
accommodation for the next few weeks., i.e. Ashton said that Olga is just a
doctor and should not question the politics behind all this!
Both Paet and Ashton conrmed the authenticity of the conversation, but tried
to undermine its signicance. Hours after the leak, the Daily Telegraph reported
Olga saying that one could not conclude that it was the coalition, and therefore
implicitely accused the Estonia Foreign Aairs of having made up the whole
the National Democratic Insititute of Foreign Aairs, the International Republican Institute,
the NGO Freedom House, and George Soross Open Society Institute. In 2004, Russophobia
(see Appendix) didnt blind Guardian journalists.
See for the transcript. It was leaked
around 6 February. The exact date of the conversation is unclear.
The conversation was leaked on 6 March. It can be found on youtube.
Both Ashton and Paet went to Kiev to support the protests.
Western media coverage of this made good reading. Some, unsurprisingly, ignored the
story. Others, like Greg Mitchell in the Nation, called conspiracy fans, pro-Putin agitators
and faux journos those who promoted it (in other words he called conspiracy fans, pro-
Putin agitators and faux journos those who reported an information (without discrediting it)
On 10 April, a German TV channel (ARD) screened their independent investi-
gation about what happened that day and their conclusion was in line with the
leaked conversation.
The new NATO backed government Lets move on to the coalition gov-
ernment, after Yanukovich ed Kiev. The new government was composed of:
5 members of Svaboda.
7 members of the Tymoshenko party
1 (Serhiy Kvit, Minister of Education and Science) member of the far-right
Ukrainian paramilitary organisation the Stepan Bandera Tryzub (this organi-
sation is one of the founding organisations of Right Sector).
4 people from Lviv
with unclear aliation (the Minister of Foreign Aairs,
Finance, Health, Economy).
2 Euromaiden activists (the Euromaiden podium presenter became Minister
of Culture, another one became Minister of Youth and Sports)
1 former minister under the former Timoshenko government (before 2010).
The new government had no representant of the Party of Regions, it was a
coalition Tymoshenko party+fascists+people from Lviv+Euromaiden activists.
There was no representent from the East of Ukraine.
On 23 February 2014, only the day after Yanukovich ed Kiev, with no debate,
the parliament voted to remove Russian as a second ocial language.
On destabilisation It is worth pausing and reect at this stage (because
later, NATO countries and the new coalition accused Russia of being the cause
of Ukraines destabilisation): a democratically elected government had been
toppled with the help of the US.
Russia had not done anything.
Destabilisation is in fact a weak word for the toppling of a democratically elected
government: History tells us that often such revolutions bring chaos
We repeat: a revolution (or a coup) is a major factor of destabilisation, and
chaos often follows, for years.
that was damaging for the coalition. The obvious explanation, according to him, was that
Paet had completely misunderstood what Olga had told him.
Including the PM, Yatseniuk.
The main city in Eastern Galicea, where Svaboda are the most popular.
The Russian and the French revolutions are the most famous examples (note that, contrary
to Yanukovich, Nicholas II and Louis XVI had not been elected). But more recently, the 2011
topplings of Gadha and Mubarak (Yanukovich had more democratic credentials than these
two too) were followed by years of chaos. In fact, Egypt and Libya have not stabilised yet. In
Egypt, a military coup toppled Mosri in 2013, one year after he had been elected. Massacres
followed, thousands of people died. In Libya, there has been unrest and murders since the end
of the civil war (the US ambassador was murdered in 2012). Just in 2014, there has been two
coups attempts so far. Mali got destabilised too because of the events in Libya: weapons from
Libya reached Islamist ghters in Northern Mali, and France launched Operation Serval to
help the Mali government.
Typically one group takes power, another group is not represented in the new
government, and reacts. This is exactly what happened in Ukraine. The East
was not represented in the new government. What made it worse, was that it
was a democratically elected government that had been toppled.
2 The aftermath
The very day after the new authorities took power in Kiev and voted to remove
Russian as an ocial language
, protests started in Crimea.
In the next sections, we are going to see what happened in two regions (rst
Crimea, then East and South of Ukraine).
Violence As in the previous part, we are not going to catalogue all the vio-
lence that happened. It should be said though, that the most violent phase has
been the South
and East of Ukraine after the toppling of Yanukovich.
The Kiev Maiden events (before the Yanukovich toppling) were less violent.
Crimea, were Russia intervened, was almost non-violent.
Western and Central Ukraine Finally, we have not written a special sec-
tion for Western and Central Ukraine after the toppling Yanukovich. Events
there have not been much reported in the Western media. One could have
thought that, after Yanukovich, all became ne and peaceful. Below are just a
few of the events that happened after Yanukovich:
On 11 March, all cable regulators ordered to stop transmitting a number of
russian channels
On 19 March, a Svaboda assaulted the head of national TV and forced him to
resign (see Appendix).
The director of the CIA, John Brennan, spent the weekend of 12 April
, in
On 28 February (1 March?), the new Ukrainian president vetoed the law against the
Russian language: he probably realised (or was advised) that it was bad PR. But it was too
late, the true colors of the new people in power had been made clear for everyone to see.
The Odessa re has been the most violent event so far (over 40 victims). What exactly
happened is still unclear, and it doesnt look like it will be claried. Most victims were
anti-Kiev: most died due to re, but some were shot. At rst Ukrainian media (and some
Western media) said most victims were from Russia or Transnistria. In fact all victims were
from Odessa (see
odessa-deaths-346817.html ).
Latvia and Lithuania followed.
On 4 May, an AFP news read: Citing unnamed German security sources, Bild am
Sonntag said the CIA and FBI agents were helping Kiev end the rebellion in the east of
Ukraine and set up a functioning security structure., see
On 29 April, masked far right paramilitary groups with torches clashed with
other pro-Maiden self defense units in the streets of Kiev: as far as we know,
only the BBC
and the ibtimes
reported on it.
On 12 May, it was announced that the son of Joe Biden (the Vice President of
the US) was the new head of the legal department of Burisma, the biggest gas
producer in Ukraine. Weeks before that, Devon Archer had been appointed to
the Board of Burisma. Archer was an adviser to John Kerry
s campaign in
2.1 In Crimea
Summary of events On 23 February, tens of thousands protested against
the new authorities in Sevastopol and voted for the establishment of a new ad-
In the next few days, pro-Russian (mainly Russian) forces took control of
On 28 Februray, the Supreme Council of Crimea voted to replace Mohyliov by
Aksyonov in a move that was a mirror image to what had just happened in
A referendum was held on 16 March, and 96.7% voted in favor of rejoining Rus-
, turnout was 83.1%.
Background on Crimea Until the 13th century and the Mongol invasions,
Crimea had been occupied by dierent groups (including Romans, Goths, Huns,
Kievan Rus....). From the 13th century to the 18th century Crimea was con-
trolled by the Crimean Khanite
and was a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire.
The caption was wrong on the website though. People who didnt click to watch the video
were led to think the Kiev clashes were in fact events in the East of Ukraine.
John Kerry ran for US president in 2004. He is currently Secretary of State.
Willy Wimmer, former vice president of the OSCE, said: The US have organised the
events that are happening today in Ukraine, as Victoria Nulands declarations about the USD
5bn they have invested. Today, they want to get the benets of those investments. [he was
not talking specically about this Burisma story when he said that].
It is unclear at what stage Russian troops were involved, and what was the exact propor-
tion of Russian troops involved. It seems that the majority was Russian troops and they were
involved early.
While this percentage does seem very high, Western journalists present in Crimea the
day of the referendum struggled to nd people who were against rejoining Russia. A poll
conducted by the GfK (German) group just days before the referendum gave the following
results: participation 94.6%, 74% in favour of rejoining Russia. Exit polls gave 93% for rejoin-
ing Russia. The BBC commented many Crimeans loyal to Kiev boycotted the referendum:
given that the actual participation rate was lower than the GfK participation rate and that
the actual NO was lower than the GfK NO, the BBC explanation might be correct. The
BBCs Ben Brown, commenting from Simferopol celebrations, said There is a sea of Russian
Descendants of Gengis Khan.
It was conquered by Catherine the Great in 1783
In 1954, as part of the celebration of the 300 years of Ukraine and Russia
together, Kruchtchev transferred Crimea from the Russian Republic to the
Ukrainian Republic. This decision, maybe another symptom of the exuber-
ance of the Soviet leader, didnt change anything: the USSR was one country,
and the power was in Moscow. This gift was just symbolic, maybe a proof of
love for Ukraine that Khruchtchev wanted to show, maybe a political move,
others say it was to simplify administration work for the construction of the
North-Crimean canal
But, in 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, Crimea found itself part of
the newly created Ukrainian country. Ethnic Russians in Crimea (65% of the
Crimean population at the time) woke up one day in a foreign country.
Crimea was also special in Russia (and later in the Soviet Union) for its cli-
Sevastopol But Crimea was also the home of Russia (and later the Soviet
Union) most cherished and important (only warm water port) naval base: Sev-
astopol. After the 1991 USSR collapse, it was agreed that Russia and Ukraine
would share the port. In 2010, Ukraine (with Yanukovich) and Russia signed
a deal to extend the lease until 2042 in return for cheap gas
. One cannot
emphasise enough that Sevastopol is considered vital for Russia (see the coming
quotes of Mearscheimer a bit further down). In July 2013, Yatseniuk said In
Sevastopol there must be solely the Ukrainian Navy, and that the 2010 deal
contradicts the Constitution, it is against the state, Ukraine
. The position
of Svaboda on this issue should be clear to the reader. For Russia, the Russian
navy presence in Sevastopol was also the insurance that Ukraine was not joining
To put into perspective, in that year the US was a 7 years old country made of what is now
the West of the US. While talking about Crimean Tatars, we should also mention Mustafa
Dzhensilev, described in the Western media as the leader of the Crimean Tatars, and hailed
for his heroic opposition to Russia. In fact Dzhensilev had only one ocial position: he was
an MP in the Tymoshenko party. Western media also kept reminded us of the displacements
of the Crimean Tatars during WW2. At the same time in the US, 110,000 people of Japanese
heritage were interned in war relocation camps. Furthermore, the romantic portrayal of a
peaceful people that was conquered by evil Russians in the 18th century is not correct: until
that time it was the area of the great slave raids (from the Crimean Khanite into Russia
and Ukraine).
See Khrushtchevs son article on
I went to Crimea once, in 2008. I could see for myself the number of people who identied
themselves as Russians. Also, in conversations with Russians, when I would praise the courage
of Khruchtchev for his secret speech at the 20th congress, or for his allowing the publication
of A journey in the life of Ivan Denissovich, I would often get reminded of his stupidity of
1954. And when I would talk to Russians about my trip in Crimea in Ukraine, they would
tell me that Crimea is Russia.
Anton Chekhov had a dacha in Crimea, and many writers and artists used to visit him
there (Leo Tolstoy, Maxim Gorky and Fyodor Shalyapin to name just a few). Later, it became
a prime holiday destination for Soviet citizens.
The debate in the Ukrainian parliament included a brawl.
From jail, Tymoshenko voice the same opinion.
NATO, since NATO members dont allow non-NATO military presence in their
countries. With the revolution and the new coalition coming to power, the 2010
Sevastopol deal was in jeopardy, and the threat of Ukraine joining NATO was
NATO moving eastwards In May 1990, Gorbachev agreed for a unied
Germany to join NATO. In previous negociations, the US Secretary of State
James Baker had agreed that no extension of NATOs jurisdiction for forces
of NATO one inch to the East. In 1999, the Czech Republic, Poland and
Hungary joined NATO. In 2004, it was the turn Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Ro-
mania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia and Albania. One could have thought that
after the dissolution of the Warsaw pact, NATO had lost its reason to exist. Not
only it kept existing but the number of NATO countries increased from 16 to 28.
Mearscheimer John Mearscheimer (professor of political science and author
of The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, in a piece published on 13 March in
the New York Times, said The White House view, widely shared by Beltway
insiders, is that the United States bears no responsibility for causing the current
crisis. In their eyes, its all President Vladimir V. Putins fault and his motives
are illegitimate. This is wrong. Washington played a key role in precipitating
this dangerous situation, and Mr. Putins behavior is motivated by the same
geopolitical considerations that inuence all great powers, including the United
The taproot of the current crisis is NATO expansion and Washingtons com-
mitment to move Ukraine out of Moscows orbit and integrate it into the West.
The Russians have intensely disliked but tolerated substantial NATO expansion,
including the accession of Poland and the Baltic countries. But when NATO
announced in 2008 that Georgia
and Ukraine will become members of NATO,
Russia drew a line in the sand. Georgia and Ukraine are not just states in Rus-
sias neighborhood; they are on its doorstep. Indeed, Russias forceful response
in its August 2008 war with Georgia was driven in large part by Moscows desire
to prevent Georgia from joining NATO and integrating into the West.
Fast forward to last November, when it seemed that President Viktor F. Yanukovych
would sign an agreement with the European Union that was designed to deepen
Ukraines integration with the West and greatly reduce Moscows inuence
there. Mr. Putin oered Ukraine a better deal in response, which Mr. Yanukovych
accepted. That decision led to protests in Western Ukraine, where there is strong
pro-Western sentiment and much hostility to Moscow.
The Obama administration then made a fatal mistake by backing the protesters,
which helped escalate the crisis and eventually led to the toppling of Mr. Yanukovych.
A pro-Western government then took over in Kiev. The United States ambas-
Contrary to what some say these days, it is actually Georgia who started this war by
launching a military oensive on the night of 7 August 2008.
sador to Ukraine, who had been encouraging the protesters, proclaimed it a
day for the history books.
Mr. Putin, of course, didnt see things that way. He viewed these developments
as a direct threat to Russias core strategic interests.
Who can blame him? After all, the United States, which has been unable to
leave the Cold War behind, has treated Russia as a potential threat since the
early 1990s and ignored its protests about NATOs expansion and its objections
to Americas plan to build missile defense systems in Eastern Europe.(...)
But even if the West could impose signicant costs on Russia, Mr. Putin is un-
likely to back down. When vital interests are at stake, countries are invariably
willing to suer great pain to ensure their security. There is no reason to think
Russia, given its history
, is an exception.(...)
To achieve those goals, the United States should emphasize that Georgia and
Ukraine will not become NATO members. It should make clear that America
will not interfere in future Ukrainian elections or be sympathetic to a virulently
anti-Russian government in Kiev. And it should demand that future Ukrainian
governments respect minority rights, especially regarding the status of Russian
as an ocial language. In short, Ukraine should remain neutral between East
and West..
Decision And so, with the US backed revolution, the situation changed from
[historical mistake
+ most people are Russians] to [historical mistake + most
people are Russians + NATO closing in + threat of losing Sevastopol + need
to react to NATO aggression].
In 1961, the prospect of Soviet missiles in Cuba was enough for the US to want
to start a war. Khrushchev removed the missiles, and avoided war
. As seen
in the above formula, it was many reasons that, when added together
, led to
Russias decision
which then did dierent things at the same time: react to the
NATO led aggression, safeguard Sevastopol, correct a historical mistake and,
A reference to Russias incredible sacrice in WW2.
The way Crimea found itself part of Ukraine is - to our knowledge - unique, and therefore
cannot be compared to other situations. Usually territories become part of a new country
as the result of a war (eg part of the Austro Hungarian Empire became Czechoslovakia after
WW1). In the modern world, boundaries are more stable than in the past: it is more con-
venient to topple a regime and replace it with a friendly regime. The most infamous of such
a regime change is Iran 1953 (the US and the UK toppled the democratically elected regime
because it wanted to nationalise oil, which was bad news for US and UK oil companies). This
was conrmed by CIA documents declassied in 2013. A list of US regime interventions since
1945 can be found on Interventions WBlumZ.html.
But these regime changes dont stop the US (and its allies) doing wars too. A recent example
is the Iraq war, which was based on lies and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands
people (most US and UK media backed the war at the time). We are not aware of any
sanctions against the UK or the US because of this.
A very good account of the Cuba crisis can be found in Michael Taubmans Pulitzer prize
winning biography Khrushchev: the man and his area.
For instance Russia was happy with the situation before Euromaiden. Yet the situation
was [historical mistake + most people are Russians].
The 18 March address by the Russian president is compulsory reading for those willing
to understand Russias decision. It is available on
last but not least, allowed the people of Crimea to choose what they wanted.
Gorbachev, the Wests favourite Soviet leader, said: While Crimea had previ-
ously been joined to Ukraine based on the Soviet laws, which means [Communist]
party laws, without asking the people, now the people themselves have decided
to correct that mistake
Criticism What happened in Crimea has been criticised by the new coalition
government and NATO countries
. One criticism was that the referendum was
held under the barrel of a Russian gun (WilliamHague, UK foreign minister).
Did Hague watch the celebrations in Crimea following the results? Did he also
think the crowds were celebrating under the barrel of a Russian gun? He
must have known what journalists and others were witnessing in Crimea: that
a vast majority of people wanted to be part of Russia again. At the very same
time, Hague saw the new coalition as legitimate - a non elected coalition that
took power after the overthrowing of a democratically elected government.
Furthermore, shortly afterwards, the new coalition and NATO countries had the
opportunity to be consistent in their unfair criticism: they could have accepted
the request for a Ukrainian organised referendum in the Donbass. The reply of
the new coalition to the referendum request was to send the army.
The commissar vs the people If Khrushchev had not woken up one day
of 1954 and decided to transfer Crimea to Ukraine, all this wouldt have hap-
pened. This is indisputable. Crimea, like the other regions of Russia, would
have remained part of Russia.
So, when Western democratic leaders describe the referendum as a sham of
democracy, they are eectively saying that a capric of a former Stalin protege
has more democratic credential than the will of the people.
2.2 In the South and in the East
Maybe this section should be called In the Donbass. It is in the Donbass
that the anti-Kiev reaction was the strongest
Anti-Kiev Protesters in the East (and the South) have been described as
pro-Russian. This appellation is misleading. As we have already explained,
The UN Security Council voted a draft resolution condemning the referendum. All NATO
countries voted against. But many other countries abstained, including China, India, Israel,
Brazil and Argentina. In total there was 100 against the referendum, 11 for, and 58 absten-
Donesk and Lugansk regions.
See also the sections called Political and identical map (election results) and Referen-
dum on secession (detailed polls).
the prime motivation of the protests is against the new coalition. A more exact
appellation would be anti new coalition. Some media have used the shorter
anti-Kiev appellation
Interestingly, the new coalition called them terrorists. The very same people
who rose against a democratically elected government (and saw themselves as
), called terrorists people who rose against a non-elected govern-
The rst anti-terrorist operation On 6 April, the leaders of the sepa-
ratist group in the Donetsk announced that a referendum would take place no
later than 11 May.
In response, the Kiev government launched an anti-terrorist operation on 16
April. Western media and the Ukrainian government said the pro-Russians
were in fact Russian special forces
. Alec Luhn wrote in the Guardian
Ukrainian troops and their hardware are blocked by angry residents, who stop
them in their tracks and convince them to turn round or even withdraw.(...)some
of the Ukrainian troops reportedly defected to the pro-Russian side.(...) One
soldier siding with the separatists in Slavyansk told a Reuters reporter that he
and others in his group were part of a Ukrainian paratroop unit who could not
shoot our own people. These Ukrainian troops, after having surrended or
given many of their weapons to the rebels, retired. They would be replaced
later by other Ukrainian troops, this time carefully chosen so they would have
no moral issue shooting at their own people.
An interview with a Donetsk policeman In an interview published on
11 April in Le Courrier de Russie
, a Donetsk policeman explained why the
police did not act against the pro Russian activists: These are our people!
Why would you want to arrest them? This group you are talking about, these
are normal people.(...) Here in the Donbass, we have nothing in common with
Lviv - the only thing that still unites us, is the country. It was Vatunin [Soviet
general in WW2] who liberated my city. And six months later, he was assas-
sinated by the soldiers of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. Over there, in Lviv,
It is possible that Western media use the pro-Russian appellation because it contains
the word Russian, and therefore this appellation creates an association between the rebels
and Russia, which is good if one wants people to believe that it is Russia that is controlling
the whole thing.
And were called heroes by many in the West
What we are going to show is that most rebels are Ukrainians, locals. However, there
are certainly Russians too (some sent by the governement, some not sent by the government),
how many is unclear. There has been many articles on a man named Igor Strelkov. According
to the French government, over 200 French citizens have joined the djihad in Syria (and Syria
and France do not share a border!). This doesnt mean that France is the mastermind of the
Syrian civil war.
It is the French equivalent of the Moscow Times: a free French publication one can nd
in Moscow cafes.
their heroes are the people from the Ukrainian Insurgent Army; but for me, it
is Vatunin the hero. That man who led the Red Army and who freed my city
from the fascists. What do we have in common with Lviv people? We have a
dierent History and a dierent culture.
(...). They are taking our language.
It is mainly because of that that people protest. When the new government
announced they wanted to remove Russian as an ocial language, people got
scared. Here, most people cant speak Ukrainian(...) There is no Ukrainian
people. I dont understand what it is. Maybe you mean citizens of Ukraine ?
Because Transcarparthia, for example, is inhabited by Hungarians and Slovaks.
Lviv was always part of Poland. Then the Soviet Union conquered them and
they became part of Ukraine. Before the war, the majority of Lviv inhabitants
were Jews
A report from NYT reporters on the ground In an article published
in the New York Times on 3 May
, Shivers and Sneider wrote Western o-
cials and the Ukrainian government insist that Russians have led, organized and
equipped the ghters. A deeper look at the 12th Company during more than
a week of visiting its checkpoints, interviewing its ghters and observing them
in action against a Ukrainian military advance here on Friday shows that in
its case neither portrayal captures the full story. The rebels of the 12th Com-
pany appear to be Ukrainians but, like many in the region, have deep ties to
and anity for Russia. They are veterans of the Soviet, Ukrainian or Russian
Armies, and some have families on the other side of the border. Theirs is a
tangled mix of identities and loyalties..
In a Guardian piece dated 10 March, Marina Lewycka, the author of A short history
of tractors in Ukraine voiced the same opinion: The second world war has left its gory
mark on this part of Ukraine in another way, too. Galicia was home to the notorious pro-
Nazi Ukrainian Insurgent Army, whose leader, Stepan Bandera, was viewed as a hero by some
Ukrainian nationalists (including my maternal grandfather), but a fascist antisemite by others
(including my paternal aunt).
Speaking about the Jewish community, Alec Luhn wrote on 18 April in the Guardian
about a hoax in Donetsk. Flyers had been distributed to worshippers outside the synagogue,
asking Jewish citizens to register with the Donetsk Republic commisar for national aairs
and pay a USD50 fee, given that the leaders of the Jewish community of Ukraine support the
Banderite junta in Kiev and are hostile to the Orthodox Donetsk Republic and its citizens.
Incredibly, John Kerry believed this story (or did he use it as useful PR?), and said during a
press conference in Geneva: Just in the last couple of days, notices were sent to Jews in one
city indicating that they have to identify themselves as Jews. In the year 2014, after all of the
miles traveled and all of the journey of history, this is not just intolerable its grotesque. It
is beyond unacceptable.. Alec Luhn wrote that when the Guardian saw the leaets, several
aspects of the document immediately called into question its legitimacy, and his articles
headline was Citys chief rabbi states pamphlet is fake, claiming it is meant to discredit
pro-Russian protesters or Jewish community.
NATO, Ukrainian government, Western media What was happening in
the East of Ukraine was classic. A coup/revolution happened. The result was
that a democratically elected president had been replaced by a particular group
(there was no representent of Eastern Ukraine in the new government) hostile
to another group (Eastern Ukraine). So, this group reacted. This predictable
storyline was the logical consequence of the US backed coup/revolution in Kiev.
These rebellion in the East of Ukraine was a mirror image of the Kiev rebellion
that had happened before. With the dierence that the Kiev protests (Euro-
maiden) were against a democratically elected president. And that they had
happened rst.
And when the new non elected government sent the army against its own peo-
ple in the East, all could be heard from NATO leaders and media was: Putin!
Hitler! Sanctions!. While they were supporting the bloody repression of East-
ern Ukrainians by the new government, all they could talk about was Russia
and all they did was put in place economic sanctions against Russia. Maybe
that was a PR tactic to shift the discussion away from the situation in Ukraine.
By talking about Russia and Putin instead of talking about the real situation
in Ukraine, they wanted to create an association between the two.
Referendum on secession Western media and politicians kept citing a poll
from the Pew Research Centre (5-23 April), in which 18% of Eastern Ukrainians
were in favour of secession, as proof that the Donbass referendum was awed.
But the Donbass is only a small part of Eastern Ukraine. And, as was shown in
the more detailed poll released by the Kiev Institute of Sociology, the variations
were great between dierent regions of the East, and the Donbass regions were
by far the most anti-Kiev regions. That Kiev poll was done in a similar
period (8-16 April) and said 41.1% wanted decentralisation and 27.5% wanted
secession. More importantly, these polls were done before the army was sent to
the Donbass and blood started being shed.
A correspondent of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and of the Washington
Post took an opinion poll on the day of the referendum and on the day after:
the result of the poll was 94.8% for independence.
Appendix A: Svaboda
Svaboda was founded in 1991 in Lviv as the Social-National Party of Ukraine.
Its symbol was a slightly modied version of a nazi logo (the Wolfsangel). It
established in 1999 a paramilitary organisation called Patriot of Ukraine.
It changed name to Svaboda in 2004 and dropped the Wolfsangel logo. Tyahni-
bok, who had been expelled from another political party for calling Ukrainians
to ght against Muscovite-Jewish maa, and celebrated the Organisation of
Ukrainian Nationalists for having fought Moscovites, Germans, Jews and other
scum who wanted to take away our Ukrainian state., became Svabodas leader.
In the 2012 elections, Svaboda did 38.01% in Eastern Galicia. Its lowest scores
were in Crimea (1.05%), and in the Donbass (around 1.25%).
In terms of policies, Svaboda opposes abortion and gay rights
, keeping and
bearing arms should be allowed, Ukrainian children should not be adopted by
non-Ukrainians, ethnic origins should be specied on passports.
Svaboda has organise commemorations of Stepan Bandera and of the Ukrainian
Insurgent Army
. They have organised marches (in Lviv) to celebrate the
Waen SS Galicia division.
Unsurprisingly, in 2013 the World Jewish Congress labelled the party as neo-
The EU U-turn on Svaboda On 13 December 2012 the European Par-
liament adopted a text in which one paragraph read Parliament goes on to
express concern about the rising nationalistic sentiment in Ukraine, expressed
in support for the Svoboda Party, which, as a result, is one of the two new
parties to enter the Verkhovna Rada
. It recalls that racist, anti-Semitic and
xenophobic views go against the EUs fundamental values and principles and
therefore appeals to pro-democratic parties in the Verkhovna Rada not to asso-
ciate with, endorse or form coalitions with this party..
Just over a year later, the EU associated with Svaboda in the toppling of the
democraticaly elected government, and then backed the new coalition, of which
To say the least: the Kievpost dated 11 December 2011 reads The ultra-nationalist Svo-
boda Party has admitted that their activists attacked gay community and human rights
activists who were holding a protest in central Kyiv on Dec. 8 to commemorate inter-
national Human Rights Day., see
This army was founded during WW2. It played a large role in the ethnic cleansing of
Poles in Eastern Galicea.
This did not stop many in Western media compare Putin to Hitler. This is what Brezinski
(former inuential national security adviser and current US ambassador in Sweden) did in his
Washington Post article. Brezinski, is known for his belief of the importance of Ukraine in
geopolitics (see his book The grand chessboard.). Furthermore, he sees Ukraine as a pivot,
and if NATO shut down Ukraine to Russia, Russia then turns to the East. (Brezinski is also
well known for supporting the providing of weapons to Mujaheddin during the Soviet-Afghan
war, from which Al-Qaeda emerged).
The Ukrainian parliament.
Svaboda was the second most important political party
Svaboda and freedom of speech Svaboda MP Igor Miroshenko is Deputy
Head of the Parliamentary Committee on Freedom of Speech and Information.
He had made news in the West in 2012 by calling Ukrainian actress Mila Kunis
a dirty jewess.
On 19 March 2014 he made news again by storming with four others the oce of
the head of National TV, Oleksandr Panteleymonov
. They assaulted Pante-
leymonov, forced him to sign a resignation letter, and abducted him for several
hours. Astonishingly, Miroshenko then posted online the video of the assault.
The message he wanted to send was clear. We do not know what happened
after this assault. On Panteleymonov wikipedia page, it says Acting CEO of
National Television Company of Ukraine from 20 February 2013 to 25 March
See paragraphabout the NATO backed coalition in the rst part. Note that their presence
in the EU process is obviously tactical, they are not pro-EU.
Apparently, following a mistake by a releasing editor, the Crimea Red Square concert had
been broadcasted during 5 minutes, see
On 28 April 2014, the mayor of Kharkov Gennady Kernes was shot while cycling. The
Guardians Luke Harding wrote Kharkiv journalist Zurab Alasania blamed Russia for Mon-
days shooting. He noted in a Facebook post that the mayor had not changed his routine of
going for a morning lake swim, despite the deteriorating security situation in the East. The
Russian Federation is identifying and liquidating key centres of resistance, Alasania said..
The reader was led to think that Zurab Alasania was an independent local journalist. In fact
he was the pro-Maiden journalist who replaced Panteleymonov as head of National Television.
Appendix B: Russophobia in the media
Pussy Riot
The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow is the tallest orthodox church
in the world. It is situated in the city centre, on the North bank of the Moskva
river. Alexander I decided to build it after the victory over Napoleon. In 1931,
Stalin razed
it as part of the antireligious campaign. It was rebuilt after the
fall of communism.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is a young Russian woman, member of the art group
Pussy Riot. This group is itself is a faction of another group called Voina, of
which Tolokonnikova was also a member. Art activities of this group included
things like: girl goes to supermarket, steals a chicken, puts it inside her vagina,
and lets it out. Tolokonnikova was not part of that particular art performance,
but took part in the Moscow biology museum orgy. She was only weeks away
of delivering a baby when she acted in that art performance
A punk prayer
On 21 February 2012, with four women colleagues, Tolokon-
nikova entered the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. They took o their winter
jackets and got on stage to mime a song (they shouted sran gospodnya but
apparently most of the performance was silent). The music (with words judged
to be insulting for the Orthodox church) was added later to the video. She was
sentenced to 2 years, but was released in December 2013.
London riots In August 2011, there were riots in London. It started in Tot-
tenham after police shot Mark Duggan. The riots spread (rst to the rest of
London, then to other UK cities) and developed into a gigantic shoplifting event.
During the riots, it was interesting to observe liberals (so keen on revolutions
when they happen abroad, so critical on repression in foreign countries) call for
the army to step in.
The army didnt get involved, but the courts did: 1,292 oenders got jailed, and
the average sentence was 16.8 months. Lets give a couple of examples of such
- Nicolas Robinson, 23, no previous conviction, from London was jailed for 6
months: he had stolen a bottle of water in a Lidl supermarket.
- Jordan Blackshaw, 20 and Perry Sutclie-Keenan, 22 (both from Cheshire),
no previous conviction, posted a message on facebook in order to organise a
riot. No one turned up at the meeting point apart from the police. Each of
He dynamited it.
Most of their performances are supposed to have an anti-government meaning.
The goal of the art peformance was to denounce the proximity between the Chruch and
the government. In fact this proximity dates from the days of Peter the Great, the Wests
favourite tsar (see Massies Pulitzer prize winning biography of Peter the Great).
them received a 4 years prison sentence.
Double standard We are not sure what is the right sentence for a given il-
legal act. But we can compare illegal acts and compare the given punishments.
Such comparison is in fact the foundation of English Law. The Guardian is a
British paper
(and therefore is supposed to be a little bit more concerned with
disruptions of public order in Britain than public order disruptions that hap-
pen in some foreign country). Yet it gave non-stop coverage to the Pussy Riot
story, while the facebook English men only got articles when they got their
sentence (16-17 August 2011). A google search of Nicolas Robinson gives
10,400 results. A google search for Jordan Blackshaw gives 14,500 results.
A google search for Nadezhda Tolokonniviva
gives 3,380,000 results, more
than Francois Hollande (2,520,000)
Some journalists (like Simon Jenkins in the Guardian
) understood what was
going, and denounced those double standards. But they were only a few amid
an ocean of hypocrisy.
Free speech This campaign of Western media, Western politicians and artists
reached a summit of ridicule when the debate was described as being about free-
dom of speech.
Valery Gergiev (more about him later) just stated the obvious when he said:
I dont think this is anything to do with artistic freedom....Why go to the
Cathedral of Christ to make a political statement? Why with screaming and
dancing? You dont need to go to a place that is considered sacred by many
people.. Indeed, even in our liberal Western countries, people dont go to a
church, a synagogue or a mosque to protest
On 9 March, Gerrard Schroeder said the European Commission in Brussels
hadnt understood in the least ... that it is a culturally divided country and
that one cannot deal with such a country in this way.(...) I ask myself if it was
correct to force a culturally divided country like Ukraine to choose between two
alternatives - an association agreement with the EU or a customs agreement
with Russia.. Four days later, at the European Parliament, a resolution was
put forward to forbid Schroeder to make public statement about Russia. Ac-
It just won the Pulitzer prize for Public Service for the Snowden les story. Without
Russia, Edward Snowden would today be in an American jail alongside Bradely Manning.
Interestingly, we only need to type nadez for google to suggest nadezhda tolokonnikova
hot. Would we have even heard of Pussy Riot, had the people entering the Moscow cathedral
been men? Or if Nadezhda had not been hot ? But this is another discussion.
And sadly, more than Leo Tolstoy (2,320,000) who seems to top by far the number of
results for Russian writers. A search restricted to the Guardian would have been interesting,
but I havent gured out how to do it.
Even less to the tallest church, the tallest synagogue or the tallest mosque. Would they
have talked about free speech if of a bunch of local youth had been doing the punk prayer
thing in a Jerusalem Synagogue, or in the Mosque of a Muslim city?
cording to the Spiegel, it was (at least partly) thanks to Schroeders friends in
the European Parliament that the resolution was narrowly defeated
Anti propaganda law
Not so long ago, homosexuality was illegal in countries that are today very
liberal. A good example is the United Kingdom. In London at the turn of
the 20th century, Oscar Wilde was jailed for being homosexual. In 1953, Alan
Turing, the father of computer science, the inventor of the Enigma machine
which helped break Nazi codes in WW2, was forced to choose between jail and
medical treatment because he was gay. This drove him to his death (by suicide)
two years later.
Homosexual acts became legal in 1967 in England and Wales, in 1981 in Scot-
land, and in 1982 in Northern Ireland.
Section 28 However, in 1988 a law (known as section 28) was passed
prohibit the promotion of homosexuality by any local authority and the
teaching in any law maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality
as a pretended family relationship. This anti gay proganda law was passed
under Margaret Thatcher. It was removed in 2003 by Tony Blair. In 2000,
David Cameron repeatedly attacked Tony Blair over his plans to abolish Sec-
tion 28, accusing him of the promotion of homosexuality in schools and of being
. A fuller quote from Cameron in 2000: The Blair government
continues to be obsessed with their fringe agenda, including deeply unpopular
moves like repealing Section 28 and allowing the promotion of homosexuality in
The Russian law in question In Russia, in 2010, a law was passed. It had
nothing to do with homosexuality (yet), and was called On protecting children
from information harmful to their health and development. In short, the object
of the law was to protect children of violence, self-harm, drug abuse etc... It was
later amended in 2012 for glorication of suicide, drugs and child pornography.
And it was amended again in 2013 for propaganda of non-traditional sexual
And so, that Russian anti gay propaganda law, is basically the same as a law
that existed in the UK between 1988 and 2003, and that was supported by the
It was defeatedin a 208:167 vote. See
71 show/4424394.stm
Another (non ocial?) rationale for the law is actually that gay street parades would put
participants in danger of attacks from thugs. In Ukraine, the problem is similar, where thugs
like Svaboda activists attack gays (see Appendix on Svaboda).
current British PM.
In the world Lets take a quick look at legislation in the world. In many
countries, homosexuality is illegal. Homosexuality is a criminal activity punish-
able of emprisonment in most African countries, in most Muslim countries and
in a few other countries (including India). In a few of these countries (including
US ally South Arabia), homosexuality is punishable by death.
On 8 April 2014, it was reported that in Egypt four men had been jailed for up
to 8 years for gay acts. I tried to google in order to nd outcry from Western
intellectuals, or artists. All I found was a Stephen Fry video called Putin
treats homosexuals like Hitler treated Jews.
Why so much hate? It is strange that a person who cares about gay rights
and want to make an impact, doesnt talk much about those countries were gays
are put in jail, and instead spends a lot of time comparing to Nazi Germany a
country where homosexuality is legal
It seems to us, that this is because they have assimilated that they would have
more media coverage if they go after Russia, that they have understood that
going after Russia is accepted, that they in fact will look like the good guy if
they go after Russia, if they compare Russia to Nazi Germany
We ask ourselves why it is that the West calls artist a 8 months pregnant
woman who participates in an orgy in a public museum, makes a world star out
of her, and insults one of the best conductors in the world
. Given what we
know of the capacity of judgment of these Western journalists and celebrities,
it is tempting to think that these judgments are purely esthetic.
But the deep
answer is political: one is against the Russian government, and
should be supported (we should make her a star, in order to give ideas to other
In a letter sent to - of all people - David Cameron(!), Stephen Fry compared the Sochi
Olympics to the Berlin 1936 Olympics. We dont remember Stephen Fry comparing the
Euro96 football tournament (it took place in England while Section 28 was on) to the Berlin
1936 Olympics. Nor do we remember him comparing Thatcher to Hitler.
The last on the list is Prince Charles, today [21 May] in a visit in Canada. It is of course
ironic for a prince (whose great uncle Edward VIII supported the Nazis and whose son once
dressed up as a Nazi at a party) to lecture on democracy. Talking about Nazis, we want to
make 3 comments: i) The NATO backed coalition is made of people who celebrate every year
a Waen SS division. ii) If a comparison to this period could be made, it is that when a
society (media, politicians, leaders) show support for open xenophobia, then more and more
people join in. iii) The Soviet Union saved the world of Nazis in WW2. They did so at a price
of 25 millions casualties. To put into perspective, the total number US+UK of casualties is
600,000, which is less than the number of casualties in just one Russian city (Leningrad, one
million casualties during the blockade).
Gergiev is the general director and artistic of the Mariinsky (Kirov) in St Petersburg, and
currently the principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra. Some of his NYC and
London concerts got interrupted.
As said before, many go after Russia simply because of herd behaviour: they join the
party. Another recent of such behaviour was the booing at the Eurovision contest.
young Russians). And the other one has been supportive of his government
Sochi 2014
Until the 2014 Winter Olympics, Western media coverage of Russia had only
been about Pussy Riot and the anti propaganda law (to such a point that
when one said the word Russia people couldnt help thinking about Pussy
Riots and the propaganda law and inevitably the conversation would move into
that direction). To Western journalists (including correspondents in Moscow)
nothing else happened in Russia, but Pussy riots and the 2013 amendment.
But then the Winter Olympics in the South of Russia approached, and the
chance for journalists to criticise Russia on another topic.
According to Western journalists, Russia was spending too much, some terrorism
was bound to happen during the games. According to a hoax there was even a
wolves wandering in hotels. Everything was talked down, and the day after the
beautiful opening ceremony, the Guardian made its front page with the picture
of an Olympic ring that didnt light up properly.
It is an understatement to say that Putins image is bad in the West. By comparison,
Yelstin and especially Gorbachev had a much better image. i) Joel Ostrow (a Putin critic)
wrote: I was ecstatic when communism collapsed(...) But this is not the point(...) Everything
Gorbachev did, he thought he was doing not merely to save but strengthen his country. Yet
everything he did sped the country to its destruction, brought consequences diametrically
opposite to those he intended and expected. He was a leader lacking a vision for his countrys
feature, lacking a strategy to move the country forward, lacking a basic understanding of the
nature of his countrys political system, political dynamics, and political culture, and lacking
the ability to make authoritative decisions on policy matters of the greatest importance and to
stick with them. Such qualities are the denition of political ineptitude and leadership failure,
and history should, on this basis, judge Gorbachevs leadership as a spectacular failure.. ii)
Yelstin listened to IMF and Washington advice (the shock therapy) which that led to the
Russian default in 1998: by then poverty had increased from 2% to 40% (during that same
time Yelstins associates became billionaires), GDP was 30% below what it was in 1990. iii)
In the rst 10 years under Putin, average GDP yearly increase was 7%. One wonders what
are the criteria of Western commentators when they rate Russian presidents.
The Beijing Olympic games were also heavily criticised by Western media. In fact, Chinas
portrayal in the Western media could also be the object of a short study similar to the one we
are doing here with Russia. In London 2012, British media often suspected Chinese swimmers
of doping, and the expelled badminton players were were the object of a lot of criticism
(see Simon Jenkins in
Appendix C: Section 28
Below is the full text of section 28.
Prohibition on promoting homosexuality by teaching or by pub-
lishing material.
(1) The following section shall be inserted after section 2 of the Local Gov-
ernment Act 1986 (prohibition of political publicity)
2A Prohibition on promoting homosexuality by teaching or by
publishing material.
(1) A local authority shall not
(a) intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material
with the intention of promoting homosexuality;
(b) promote the teaching in any maintained school of the
acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.
(2) Nothing in subsection (1) above shall be taken to prohibit the
doing of anything for the purpose of treating or preventing the spread of disease.
(3) In any proceedings in connection with the application of this
section a court shall draw such inferences as to the intention of the local au-
thority as may reasonably be drawn from the evidence before it.
(4) In subsection (1)(b) above maintained school means,
(a) in England and Wales, a county school, voluntary school,
nursery school or special school, within the meaning of the Education Act 1944;
(b) in Scotland, a public school, nursery school or special
school, within the meaning of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980.
(2) This section shall come into force at the end of the period of two months
beginning with the day on which this Act is passed]