Ukraine (OpenDemocracy) – Everybody wants better relations between Russia and the west. But leaders in Moscow and DC could throw Ukraine under the bus to get them. Last week, as I traveled around Ukraine’s eastern front, I found myself talking to…
The New York Times’s hiding — for nearly three years after this massively important historical event — the U.S.-imposed bloody coup that occurred in Ukraine during February 2014, makes the Times’s hiding of it from the public, become by now no longer merely egregious ‘news’-reporting, but finally lying about history: it’s an egregious lie about a major event of recent world history — a worse lie as each year passes without the Times’s acknowledgment that they had been hiding it from their readers, all along; hiding the news, until it became history — a lie which is harder to extricate themselves from, as each year passes and as this event becomes more and more important, because it accumulates more and more consequences, all of which are bad.
So: when will the NYT finally come out publicly acknowledging that the coup existed — that it was a «coup», and no ‘revolution’ (such as they’ve falsely claimed it to have been, and still refer to it)? Will it remain unstated (to have been a coup), until decades later?
In Ukraine, revolution and reform has given way to reaction, with vested interests entrenching themselves even further.
Last week, as the world prepared for the Christmas holidays, Ukrainian MPs gathered in parliament at 10am, and departed 20 hours later. This legislative marathon happens every year, when, in a regime of secrecy and sleeplessness, Ukraine’s parliamentarians pass the budget for Europe’s biggest country. After all, when else can you carve up assets in a country that has seen the overthrow of an authoritarian president, a revolution and occupation by Russian forces?
For the past three years, parliamentary deputies, unashamed of television cameras, surround the country’s prime minister in the chamber as they trade for benefits and state contracts. Take Oleh Lyashko’s Radical Party. Since 2014, this party, known for its populist rhetoric, has managed to triple the level of state support for a company that builds fire engines. In 2017, direct state financing of the company in question (which, of course, belongs to members of Lyashko’s party) will reach $25m. The Radical Party, meanwhile, positions itself as an opposition platform, yet still votes for the state budget from year to year.
New Year’s Eve passed off peacefully enough in war-torn Ukraine — until a senior lawmaker shot a man in the leg during a testosterone-charged road rage incident.
Ukrainians bored by a relative lack of news over the holiday period have been gripped by accounts of the fight between the man and the senior politician that also involved an assault with a bottle.
Local media interviewed the gunshot victim Vyacheslav Khimikus from his hospital bed. He admitted that he had attacked the MP with a bottle before being shot.
In Ukraine, the state apparatus, far-right movements and patriotic citizens are working together to shut down debate and silence criticism.
Under Ukraine’s pre-Maidan criminal regime, any pressure on journalists used to provoke a wave of indignation. This indignation, which came from journalists, human rights defenders and civic activists themselves, even became a precursor to the first Maidan in independent Ukraine — the protests under the banner of “Ukraine without Kuchma”.
Information about temnyky, the authorities’ secret instructions to the press about what they should and should not report, and the murders of critics of the regime invariably provoked protests. The arrest of a journalist solely for expressing his opinion in print could raise a wave, even a tsunami, of public outrage. Indeed, in 2004, putting an end to temnyky was one of the slogans behind the Orange protest.
On Tuesday, the Ukrainian hacking collective “Kiberkhunta” (CyberJunta) leaked more than 2,000 e-mails from the inbox of Vladislav Surkov, an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin who is often cited as a key advisor on the Kremlin’s Ukraine policy. The leaked e-mails, which are dated between September 24, 2013, and November 25, 2014, suggest an unprecedented hack into a top Kremlin official’s private accounts.
The leak follows Monday’s leak of two documents allegedly sent to Surkov that describe a Kremlin initiative to destabilize Ukraine between November 2016 and March 2017. The documents, also released by Kiberkhunta, include an e-mail to Surkov on August 26, 2016, from his assistant, Pavel Karpov (who Kiberkhunta says signed documents under the name “Nikolai Nikolaievich Pavlov”) titled “Priority Action Plan to Destabilize the Social-Political Situation in Ukraine,” and “Concrete Action Plan on the Promotion of the Federal Status of Zakarpattia Oblast.”
The International Monetary Fund was perched on a precarious branch that has now been cut down out from under them. The IMF Executive Board met in Washington on the evening of Sept. 14. The biggest issue on their agenda was whether to approve a $1 billion loan disbursement to Ukraine. And they did. Except for the director representing Russia on that board, who voted against the payout.
This was no ordinary event, but one that will have an impact, first and foremost, on the fate of the International Monetary Fund.
The inaction of Ukraine’s law-enforcement institutions and unrestricted hate speech by top officials is enabling further violence against the country’s journalists.
Watching a video of journalists running for their lives amid choking smoke in a building set ablaze in Kyiv is horrifying. It is even more chilling to realise that some of these people are colleagues and close friends you have known for years.
We would disagree on many political issues, but it is still shocking to see where the exercise of freedom of speech in post-revolutionary Ukraine can lead you. At the same time, the increasing violence against Ukraine’s journalists brings powerful voices at home and abroad together in the expanding uprising against Soviet mentality, which has plagued the country for the last 25 years.
On 28 June 2016, ten days before the start of the NATO Summit in Warsaw, hackers from an international collective known as Anonymous published a photocopy of a confidential report by Ukraine’s First Deputy Defence Minister, Ivan Rusnak, entitled «On the implementation of information and psychological operations in 2015». The document, which is addressed to the Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, Alexander Turchinov, contains, among other things, data on information warfare operations carried out by the Ukrainian military against a number of European countries (including those with which Ukraine is bound by the terms of the EU Association Agreement).
The document is written in Ukrainian, so European audiences are largely unaware of it, although it deserves the utmost attention. According to the document, targets of the information and psychological warfare being conducted by the Ukrainian military in Europe include «the Republic of Belarus, the Republic of Poland, Romania, Hungary, the Federal Republic of Germany, and the Kingdom of the Netherlands».
Recent unconstitutional legislation is smoothing the way for direct rule in Ukraine — and repeating past mistakes.
Petro Poroshenko was elected to Ukraine’s highest office in May 2014. Today, there are indications that Ukraine’s presidential institution is winning the fight against both the parliament and the government again, while continuing to consolidate power. What makes Ukrainian presidents expend significant resources to subjugate other branches of power? Does the establishment of personalistic rule pose a threat to Ukraine?
It is easy to be pessimistic when looking at the history of independent Ukraine. In the 25 years since the collapse of the USSR, Ukraine has had 17 governments and several significant political crises, while its economy has mostly failed to grow. Moreover, Ukraine has lost part of its territory following Russian invasion and a separatist revolt in 2014, and is currently fighting a war with both.
Although Chernobyl is actually in northern Ukraine, neighbouring Belarus is the country that has suffered most from the disaster. After all, Svetlana Aleksievich’s Chernobyl Prayer was known around the world long before its author received the 2015 Nobel Prize for Literature.
Today, Belarus’s official attitude to the legacy of Chernobyl is rather ambiguous. On the one hand, it recognises its persistence and allocates funding to continuing clean-up operations, but on the other it withholds information from the public, encourages people to return to contaminated areas and is building a new nuclear power plant in the area.