Guest Blog: Occupy Ukraine?

Today’s guest blogging post (and open thread) is by our friend, TerrytheTurtle.

What is happening in Ukraine is awful, bloody, murderously awful. Depending on where you come from in your world view, there are at least three ways of looking at what is happening:

1. If you follow the Western media, it is about Ukraine wishing to “join the EU” (quotes because there are many sources of this over-simplification) and the coverage is dumbed down to this one point time and again. But the EU trade agreement Yanukovych refused to sign after promising to in his manifesto, is only the catalyst, the problems lie much deeper than that.

2. This is part of the Neo-Cold War, pitting American power against the Czar of All the Russias and his part-dictatorship, part-kleptocracy. If you read the full transcript of the intercepted Nuland phone call two weeks ago, there is no question the US is picking sides, and picking which opposition horse to back, the whole point of which seems to be, to use the violence in Ukraine to win ground in a wider struggle. And for his part, Putin, by blaming ‘entirely, the terrorists and radicals’ for the violence, is shamelessly backing his client, Yanukovych, just like he has backed Syria’s Assad. It seems the US and Putin are both ‘playing cards’ and the people of Kiev are doing the dying.

3. The third thesis is that what we are watching is the Occupy movement of Ukraine. Ukraine’s government is controlled by a very small number of hyper-rich Ukrainians who owe their riches to a perpetuation of the same style of oligarchy and kleptocracy that Vladimir Putin sits atop in neighbouring Russia. They want the massive income inequality and lack of social justice to continue – its good for business. But you won’t hear this in the Western media. That kind of discussion is too close to home and would remind people of what Occupy Wall Street was all about. When Yanukovych returned to power, in 2010, as president (in an election the EU certified as fair), mainly because the Orange Revolution had stalled in the world depression after the financial crisis, he changed the constitution away from the 2004 constitution: more power to him and his cronies. Corruption blossomed again. You know the formula: billionaires, owning politicians for favours, closing and selling off factories, looting the old industries where ordinary people made a living and punishing dissent. The Kochs and Waltons would love these people.

What do Ukrainians think about some of this? The most recent poll I could find (Feb 5th) said:

Showing divisions between Ukrainians on foreign policy, 48% said Ukraine should reconsider its rejection of an EU partnership, but 40.3% said it should not.

Asked if the protests should continue, 48% said yes and 45.1% said no.

These divisions have an ethnic and geographic element to them – west is more likely to be ethnic Ukrainian and east and south more Russian. But like the American south, the Russian-leaning part is voting for more income inequality, more Russian-style “democracy”. But Ukrainians seem to distrust the EU only a little less than Russia, especially when it comes to helping them now. It seems to me they feel like they are on their own.

OK, so all this geopolitics aside, you just have to look at the faces of the people in the streets and in the makeshift hospitals to get an idea of which of these theses is closest to the truth and it is complicated, even if I am getting some coaching.  🙂  That ordinary Ukrainians just want the freedom to have their government represent them and protect their freedoms from foreign powers (all of them!) and from their own “entitled” citizens and corporations.  Just spend some time on the blogs (helpfully translated on request and forwarded to people like me by friends). You will see what I am seeing and hearing directly.

Yes, there are protesters with guns now and policemen have died, but today’s toll of death was far unbalanced to the 10s of thousands of mostly unarmed protesters, shot in the square, or beaten by police or paid thugs, the “tituski”, in the side streets as they try to leave to take care of families or escape the bloodshed. Or as volunteers try to treat them in makeshift hospitals while the police try to arrest them from the bloody floor where they lie.

Take a look at two of Putin's "radicals and terrorists."

Take a look at two of Putin’s “radicals and terrorists.”

Finally, and I wish it was finally, this article I was sent today goes roughly like this: A former policeman has come to Kiev to find his 19-year-old son, a student in Kiev. Like all fathers he wished his son did not go to the protests, but as a Ukrainian he was proud of his son to go. He holds in his hand the helmet he wore, covered in blood, a single sniper bullet hole in the helmet where his forehead was. Facebook posts are full of pictures of young people like this….

And yes, like Zooey said Thursday, this could be us too, someday soon.

54 thoughts on “Guest Blog: Occupy Ukraine?

  1. Cold blooded murder – the ‘brave’ armed police shooting down unarmed or sparsely armed protesters.
    Those videos are very powerful, provoking tears, wishing there were truly something we the U.S. and the E.U. would do right now to mitigate the misery.

    TtT thank you, very much, for imparting all of this information!

    • If they had any sense it would be a mini-Marshall plan, but I suspect that a grey-suited man with an IMF business card is on the plane already. 😦

  2. I was watching the last repeat of All In, this morning, and in a clip of Chris Christie, he says something that I knew was entirely wrong. Starting at 3:45 of the clip, Hurricane Sandy victim speaks out to All In.

    Hayes: ‘…and so, here we are again, with Christie, once again, trying to blame the Obama Administration, for the second time, in less than a month.’

    Christie: ‘The entire flood insurance business in this country, has been taken over by the federal government. It’s called the National Flood Insurance Plan, which all of you painfully now know. NFIP.’

    Wait a minute. The government didn’t ‘take over’ flood insurance. The private sector abandoned it entirely, when they figured out floods and storm surges from hurricanes cause massive losses to their companies on a per-event basis. They wrote that coverage out of the policies for property insurance, putting mortgage holders at risk of catastrophic losses. Without insurance for all possible damage, mortgage companies would have demanded their loans be closed out. New loans would have been impossible to obtain. in those areas. Either the government stepped in, or large parts of Florida, Louisiana, and Texas would have had to be left uninhabited, by anyone wanting to live in a permanent structure, unless they could afford to self-insure, or own the property outright.

    Chris Christie doesn’t want the private sector back into the flood insurance business, else that famous Jersey Shore would have to cease to be a tourism profit center for his state.

      • He dropped the ball on that one, that’s for sure. The NFIP was passed in the sixties, not under Obama.

        In the mid 2000s, IIRC, insurance companies started pulling out of Florida property insurance because they got burned by so many hurricanes.

  3. Ukraine President, Opposition Reach Deal To End Crisis

    Ukraine’s president and opposition have agreed to initial a deal to resolve their bloody standoff, the presidency announced on Friday after the deadliest day in a three-month crisis left more than 60 people dead.

    “The parties agreed on the initialling of an agreement to resolve the crisis,” the presidency said in a statement, adding that the sides were expected to sign the agreement at 1000 GMT.

    • Checking Pravda:

      “15.51 Right Sector leader dismisses agreement with Yanukovych.”

      That’s not good, nor entirely surprising – this is the possibly neo-Nazi right of the protest coalition, the most likely to be militant. If I were to stretch an analogy and I am only doing it to draw a comparison, in the late1960s Ulster civil rights movement – this is the IRA.

  4. I’ll assume the role of Captain Obvious today and ask:
    What’s the difference between Ukraine’s government, controlled by a very small number of hyper-rich Ukrainians who owe their riches to a perpetuation of the same style of oligarchy and kleptocracy and what we have today thanks to Ronnie Raygun and those who drank his Kool-Aid?

  5. I am going through a flurry of emails I got last night, hold on. Just to reiterate what I say about the thesis – it is about all foreign powers, but especially Russia. Of the 48% in the poll above, here’s what one of them left in my email box today:

    “people are now fighting against the government.
    not the for EU”

  6. When the forces that drive and allow the acquisition of money and power are nothing more than fear and irrational hatred, the odds in favor of a gentle resolution are scant at best. Unfortunately, THE major driver of human culture is just that: the quest to acquire money and power via the tools of fear and hatred. History. History tells the tale over and over and over again, although it’s probably safe to use a single word to summarize. Fascism.

    Great post, TtT. Thanks for the insider viewpoint.

  7. There seems to be a lot of discussion and disagreement with some aspects of the deal

    Tweets and posts coming in from the Maidan are people saying that if Yanukovych gets to stay until new elections, they don’t agree.

    Then the timing of elections “sometime before December” – since elections were due in 2015 anyway, this doesn’t seem to be enough.

    And then there was this, from a British reporter:

    Video: Polish minister warns protest leader 'you'll all be dead'— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) February 21, 2014

      • There’s still 50,000 + ordinary people in the square this evening commemorating the dead people and none of them seem to disagree with you Ebb. Many are very unhappy that the opposition spokesmen shook hands with Yanukovych and left him in his post. They do know that they were threatened with martial law like Poland 1980. Some are saying they will start the protests again at 10am if he has not resigned….. I don’t know what will happen next, no one seems to.

      •….. what is happening in the square is not looking good. The ‘Right Sector’ as I noted earlier has again stated they are not on board. The opposition is struggling to control the people at the Maidan.

  8. He’s merely pandering to the moderates.

    • When you factor in that the chief of the armed forces was dismissed earlier in the week by Yanukovych and you note that seemingly whenever a rumour of a call from the Czar of the Russias came in (and you know what his vote was going to be) Yanukovych reiterated his no-compromise stance……

      And then I heard a rumour last night (only a rumour as it was a Daily Mail commenter) that there was a column of tanks coming up from Odessa on the main road and that protestors west of Dnipropetrovsk were attempting to block the railway…… Poland 1980 was on the cards, and Sikorski would know. *But* , I think the military would split on this …. a recipe for civil war.

  9. There are still bright spots in the world. One Arizona business owner, in light of the GOoPers passing a pro discrimination law, has put up a sign saying that he will refuse service to members of the state legislature. This gave me an idea. How about bumper stickers that read “Republicans are against my religion”? While I realize that the target audience wouldn’t understand the joke it is a true and literal statement. As an atheist with no religion whatsoever I find the GOoPers to be more against my “religion” than any other.

  10. Totally nuts in Ukraine tonight – apparently Yanukovych fled the country, flew a plane to Iran, changed flights and is now on a flight to Dubai. Follow this ‘on the Tweeter’. They even have the flight tracked on this tracker – I am gobsmacked.

    Looks like yanokovich is headed to Abu Dhabi, Dubai airspace too crowded for landing. #Ukraine— English EuroMaidan (@EuroMaidanEN) February 22, 2014

  11. I just woke up, and turned the tv to my favorite vintage show channel. Alfred Hitchcock Presents was on, an episode called Dry Run, with Robert Vaughn and Walter Matthau.

    Next up is a couple of episodes of Burns and Allen, which is the reason I turned it over there.

    • Is that ‘MEtv’ ? We have it ‘over the air waves’. Jack Benny comes on after Burns and Allen.
      Twilight Zone and Perry Mason are on a different, over the air, channel.
      All the old time shows make me feel oooold!

      • ‘Antenna TV’. It’s WHNT-2 over the air. MEtv is affiliated with WZDX, our local Fox channel. I find shows on both that I used to watch in the old days of black and white tv.

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