Friday, February 28, 2014

Crimea - Yanuk's last throw of the dice?

Russian political analyst and seasoned Ukraine-watcher, Stanislav Byelkovsky considers the crisis in Crimea may well blow over in a few days time.

In several television interviews he explains the three of the main players in the peninsula are:

The old Crimean elites who have been around almost since Ukraine's declaration of independence, and who until recently have been relatively content with their lot;

New arrivals/Donetsk bandits appointed by Yanukovych that have secured a strong grip in Crimea, grabbing property and businesses, at the expense of the old elites;

and old pro-Russia conservatives, who have always played a relatively significant role there.

Indigenous Tartars, loyal to Kyiv, also play a role.

Yanukovych has appealed to the Donetsk bandits,  whose only hope now is to remain loyal to him, to save him by engineering a crisis in Crimea.

His pal from the old days,  chairman of Crimea’s Council of Ministers, Anatoliy Mohilyov,  today claimed a large group of "unknown" men took control of the government offices. He said no one has been harmed and that all government work had been suspended until the matter is resolved. Byelkovsky quite reasonably suggests these were Mohilyov's own guys acting under their bosses instructions..

Party of Regions have already denounced Yanukovych's "escape, cowardice...betrayal." So, in truth, Yanukovych is almost a political corpse who now has to be totally subservient to mischief-maker Putin in order to survive for any length of time.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Encouraging opinion poll

Interesting poll on the website.

Site visitors were given several possible alternatives to the question:

There has been a change of power in Ukraine. What will now happen in the Donbas region?

State officials and businessmen will redivide spheres of influence, but for ordinary people nothing will change - 32.2% (1323 people).

Under the new regime there will be no corruption, kickbacks and rake-offs, which means that for all Ukrainians, regardless of region, life will become better. 34.7% (1423 people).

The new authorities will take revenge for Yanukovch  and repressions will begin - 15.9% (653 people).

The region will be mired in a protracted confrontation - 12.2% (501 people).

I'm not from the Donbas, and I do not care what will happen there - 4.9% (203 people).

Total voted [to date]: 4103 people.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

British forensic ballistics specialists on Maidan [update]

BBC2  'Newsnight' programme reports British ballistics experts were working on Maidan today gathering forensic evidence for any possible future trials. More footage of marksmen with sniper rifles was shown, and locations from where the snipers shot was determined.

Gabriel Gatehouse interviewed these experts, [their faces were concealed], and also interviewed Hennadiy Moskal about whom I have previously blogged... More here

Now on YouTube here 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Yanukovych's properties...

Lots more photos of Yanukovych's pad in the Carpathian mountains here

And a video of Yanukovch's huge hunting grounds and residences here 

And there are several other in Crimea...and in Donbas....and several whose construction is being completed....MEGALOMANIA or what?

A man who has always just worked in public service...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pshonka's sickening palace [Updated]

If you thought Yanukovych's Mezhyhirya was Micheal Jackson's Neverland on-Dnipro...

check out Former Prosecutor-General of Ukraine, Viktor Pshonka's  palace here 

Update:  check out video here [Essential viewing]

And also here with Pshonka dressed as a Roman emperor....

This is a man...a disgusting filthy pig of a man... [sorry, but it has to be said] has only ever worked as a prosecutor... throughout his career.

Pshonka was allegedly involved in the murder in 2001 of journalist Igor Aleksandrov in Slovyansk
who was investigating Pshonka's links to local organised crime gangs.

A vagrant who was allegedly being set up to 'take the rap' for the murder, himself died, probably murdered, later, in suspicious circumstances to wipe the slate clean.

Pshonka most likely covered up many of the dozens of murders that took place in Donbas in the early and mid nineties. The rewards for his dirty deeds can be seen inside his house.

Pshonka, is one of the most repugnant long-time confidants of Yanukovych. He would, you can be sure, have provided legal cover to any killing of protesters by snipers,,

ps. What is it with these guys..the gut-wrenchingly appalling kitsch bad taste...the fetish with religious artifacts...bathrooms...with self obsession [see photos below]- it says "The law, honour, dignity"...?

All of the crap in the house should be sold, if a buyer can be found for this trash, to provide some help to the dozens of bereaved families left after the events of the last few days...The house should be bulldozed....

p.p.s. Maidan should now be insisting: Let us examine the interiors of the properties of all current ministers and officials....the Hermans, the Oliynyks, the Rybaks, the Yefremovs, the Chechetovs, the Tabachnyks Yushchenkos etc. etc. etc. and also those of any newly appointed cabinet.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Yanuk doing a runner? [Updated]

Rumours that Yanukovych, together with Kluyev and Rybak have allegedly packed their belongings into the presidential Airbus...and are flying to Kharkiv? Sochi? or somewhere else.

Aircraft tracking sites indicate he may be flying to one of the Gulf States....

His plane, Reg no. AOJ92C, is currently over Iran...

He knows he is no longer safe in Kyiv.

Today the presidential admin building was crawling with armed spetsnaz personnel..Video here

If, a big if, he has indeed fled, what wonderful news this would be..

*Doing a runner = fleeing [English slang]

Update: Journalists are freely wandering inside Yanukovych's private palace of Mezhyhirya - Yanukovych's dearest possession...The presidential admin building is deserted...

How quickly things change...until yesterday hundreds of armed security personnel patrolled the perimeters...any intruders would most likely be shot...

The journalists who colluded with Yanukovych over the years covering up what a crook the president was... that Mezhyhirya did not exist, did not belong to him...hang your heads in shame...

The game is up...

p.s.Journalists have taken their golf clubs and are playing on the greens of Yanukovych's personal course..everyone having a great time!


Friday, February 21, 2014


There are people who want to comment here justifying or whitewashing or minimizing what happened yesterday. Close to a hundred unarmed people gunned down in the streets of Kiev by snipers.

Take your comments somewhere else. There are lots of other places on the web where people are relishing what happened yesterday. They'll happily welcome you.

Not here. I won't let comments like that through. Not anymore. I have had it with the people who have supported and justified this regime in its corruption and now in the slaughter of innocent people. I'm not going to let that be perpetuated in this blog.

Killers come to president to wipe their bloody hands on his jacket

Snipers were seen entering the president's administration building early this morning through the front door.

Photo here

How can you trust a man who lets killers that cold-bloodedly shot dozens of innocent protesters the day before into his workplace?

They were surely acting on his direct orders...The only guys to whom he can now trust his safety are those who did the killing on his behalf...How revealing..

Their identity and their chain of command is known. 

The vote in parliament today has chopped off Yanukovych's *****
Maidan will still want to see his proper head chopped off...and put on a stick..

Sooner or later Yanukovych will be held to account..

Cold blooded murder

Again, Levko has done yeoman's work here and I thank him for that. I would just add that there should be no mistake about what happened down near Maidan. It was cold blooded murder. These people were unarmed who were shot.

Some are going to say that it was the right wing Pravy Sector getting what was coming to them but it is a lie. These were unarmed people.

And that is not to mention the funding of these banditti titushky who are beating and torturing people.
The government of Ukraine has declared war on its people. And any government that deals with them is complicit in this.

There should be no negotiating with this government. It is lawless. It should be considered a pariah by all governments everywhere for what it has done here.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cabinet of ministers, maybe president, behind today's mass killing

The most disturbing news I have read on this appalling day, 20th February, when up to 100 demonstrators were shot dead by snipers of Ukrainian 'Alpha' anti-terrorist forces, were credible reports in the reputable 'Dzerkalo Tyzhnya'  that the dozen or so killers had been stationed inside the yard of the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers building.

They had been observed loading and unloading rifles and other equipment into two 4X4 vehicles on several occasions since they arrived there at the beginning of the month, and were again seen 'loading up' this morning.

It is therefore clear - their bloody killing spree was sanctioned by one or more ministers...It is almost inconceivable that the president himself was not aware of this...he must have given his approval too.

[I seem to recall there have been rather vague rumours in the last few weeks that similar 'Alpha' personnel had been stationed in the presidential administration building.]

In days and months to come the legality of the actions of the 'Alpha' troops and the order for them to be utilised in this way - the gravest crime committed against Ukrainians since independence, will come under the closest scrutiny.

More here

There are eye witness reports that a number of Regionaly and their families are getting out while the going is good. Rows of expensive vehicles were seen driving up to the small Zhulany airport near Kyiv, escorted by armoured security vehicles from which many suitcases and strong boxes werebeing transferred under the supervision of expensively fur-coated 'fancy women' and armed security staff. Rats fleeing from the burning ship? Are some of those fleeing responsible for the events above?

Parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Rybak, and his deputy Ihor Kaletnyk and their families are allegedly amongst the rats fleeing....Minister of Revenues Klimenko may have flown out from Donetsk....Rybak's refusal to permit voting in parliament on Tuesday sparked the appalling violence that day.  How disgusting is this...Do they not have a sense of responsibility to do their utmost at their countries moment of greatest need?

I'd bet most of the flights out are west or those dreadful Europeans who are supporting the 'terrorists on Maidan who are causing all of the trouble'.

Also Verhkovna Rada have just voted for special forces to withdraw from the area around Maidan...The newly formed parliamentary majority will grow in days to come...and maybe even bring to account those responsible for the dreadful murder of up to a hundred young men and women...Yanukovch now is up against the wall...either clear Maidan tonight to show the PoR waverers he is still the boss, or back down, because tomorrow even more PoR waverers will be emboldened to vote with the opposition. I guess it was today's horrors that convinced them to switch..

p.s As I write, hundreds and hundreds of well organised people of all ages, men, women, are on Khreschatyk lifting the small paving blocks from the sidewalks and stacking them in neat stacks about a metre hight...hundreds of such stacks by the side of the road.. Others are methodically constructing fresh army of worker bees...Are they terrorists? No...just brave, idealistic patriots who want a future free of rotten corrupt government, kleptocratic thugs and state officials...A future based on a European model..

A few fear amongst protesters in face of terror

Some random notes from various commentators including the experienced Hennadiy Moskal -

Yanuk was warned, even by Russian FSB specialists, the operation against Maidan would not only be v. bloody but ultimately unsuccessful. Clearing 10's of thousands from a city square, esp. with lots of barricades and obstacles in no simple matter. But president Yanukovych convinced himself Maidan would be cleared in a matter of minutes rather than hours.

Ukrainian army is three times smaller in total than internal army and Berkut and other security forces together. The army has no place in tackling internal conflicts.

No-one at all on the Maidan will listen to pleas from any of the opposition leaders to pack up and go home, as proposed by Yanukovych. Opposition leaders do not control Maidan...or their actions.

Only Minister of the Interior Zakarchenko had authority to launch the operation to clear Maidan which was called 'Khvylya'. Moskal names those who organised the operation, but M.of I. has to carry the can for the bloody mess.

Paramilitary titushky are brazenly working 'hand in glove' with police across Ukraine - similar to Latin America in the '60's. They are systematically committing crimes, robberies, muggings etc. across the country with impunity. The police are only concerned with challenging opposition protesters, not solving any other crimes against the public. An absolute disgrace - in your blogger's opinion the use of these thugs under the aegis of Zakharchenko is the worst aspect of the current troubles.

Professional officers in Internal Army and Berkut have all been replaced by incompetent Donetski...hence idealistic, well-motivated protesters will ultimately win through in the end against this banda. Body language of Berkut indicates v. low morale..just 'want out'...but cannot leave because no other jobs available. No bad soldiers..only bad officers. Illegal, modified weaponry is being used against demonstrators because Berkut troops are out of control. They have been given the signal that 'anything goes'..Official documentation reveals illegal grenades are being used against civilian protesters.

Terrible stories of torture of prisoners. Many injured are being stolen from hospitals and clinics immediately after receiving treatment. Many brave Kyivans are taking seriously injured to their homes after being treated, for safety. Ukrainian doctors and other medical personnel, frequently maligned in the past, are providing magnificent service in improvised field hospitals, in churches etc.

Some, probably many titushky are hardened criminals, rather than sportsmen hired to disrupt political meetings and hassle opposition activists... Titushky are now working in tandem with police patrolling streets in Kyiv...just as in Nazi Germany. Even many PoR sympathisers are outraged and terrified by the appearance of titushky.

Road control police [DAI] stationed on street corners and on many road blocks have been armed. They brandish their weapons with no regard to the terror this strikes. Public transport is not running. A de-facto state of emergency exists. So who are the fascists? Demonstrators, or law enforcement agencies?

Tonight maybe 50 thousand fearless, well motivated protesters on Maidan ...  has this convinced Yanukovych to tell Yatsenyuk Maidan will not be stormed tonight...can this be true? But Maidan is surrounded by thousands of v. mean Berkut storm troopers, internal troops with their heavy equipment, and titushky..

The only people who can seriously influence Yanukovych right now are Putin, Obama, Biden, and Ukrainian oligarchs. If all these apply pressure, then there is chance he will go., otherwise no way..

The totemic, almost mystical significance of Maidan should not be underestimated. That it still stands is incredibly important to protesters..Its defence last night against incredible odds will be long remembered as a landmark in Ukraine's history...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The march to disaster [II]

Today [Tuesday] is by far the worst day in Ukraine's short history as an independent state.

Events took their predictable course with both radical, organised protesters and Berkut forces both shaping up for a battle.

The ever-increasing radicalisation of protesters and tacit indifference or approval to it by opposition leaders has been apparent for many weeks because Yanukovych has been been totally impervious to any request for reasonable compromise over this period. In truth the opposition leaders' influence on the radicals has been insignificant in any case. Any innovative, peaceful protests such as AvtoMaidan have been ruthlessly targeted by the authorities. Berkut forces have continually behaved in a lawless manner with absolute impunity since the start of the troubles.

Calls for a 'peaceful advance' onto the Verkhovna Rada this morning inevitably lead to the bloody events that took place. Some PoR deputies, according to rumour, were willing to vote with opposition deputies to change the Constitution; it was absolutely, critically essential some progress be made today [Tuesday] in parliament. But speaker Rybak, under strict orders from Yanukovych, stubbornly stalled the registration of any new bills... and Berkut forces outside did the rest.

Berkut forces were well prepared and knew in advance these events would give them and the authorities a plausible excuse to clear the Maidan and introduce a 'de facto' state of emergency. They have been assisted by hundreds of mercenary titushky in their work.

Because protests on the Maidan were always peaceful in nature its clearance by force and the inevitable deaths and horrific serious casualties that inevitably result will prompt a most serious reaction from the US administration and from the EU. A whole range of nasty weaponry is allegedly being utilised to clear Maidan. Hospitals and clinics are making desperate appeals for additional staff while I write. There are reports of many hundreds of injured.

Yanukovych does not intend to talk to opposition leaders until protests are quelled, but I cannot imagine what will he then be able to offer them.

From now on it is a case of 'every oblast for itself' as central government loses control of portions of the country. Ministry of the Interior buildings in western Ukraine are being trashed as I write..

Tomorrow mass arrests are inevitable...those detained can expect to be brutally treated if law enforcement officials continue to behave as they have until now.

Putin's scenario for Ukraine is now under way..As one British journalist declared: The Berlin Wall has moved hundreds of kilometres eastward to the Dnipro river.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What to expect from Yanukovych

Seasoned commentator, Vadym Denysenko, now at, provides some good analysis on the currennt sitation in Ukraine. Below is a summary:

Yanukovych believes that after the clearance of some administration buildings and the release from detention of protesters according to a hastily cobbled together hybrid law, the situation is the country has been now reset from scratch. It is as if the events of the last three months simply did not take place.

Moreover, Yanukovych is certain Putin will provide more money and everything will now be just fine. [As I write it seems Russia intends to purchase another $2Bn worth of Ukrainian bonds]

Yanukovych is convinced that appointment of a new PM will strengthen the Party of Regions, because each of the disgruntled groups inside PoR that could raise the head above the parapet, can be bought out with the appropriate cabinet office. Conversations are being held with individual deputies and aid is being promised to help solve issues in their individual constituencies.

Thus Yanukovych believes he can bring his party members under control. However, at the same time there are more complex problems. Changes can be clearly seen Akhmetov's group in which a sub-group of MPs loyal to Boris Kolesnikov is drifting toward the [pro-Kremlin] Medvedchukivtsi.

Those of Akhmetov's group orientated toward Deputy Prime Minister Vilkul are also at a crossroads and are ready at any moment to try and start their own game. In Odesa, the Maidan was scattered by  titushky from Vilkul's home town of Kryvyi Rih. And attempts to throw iodine dye at Klitschko, and other politicians  suggest that Vilkul is ready to take a more radical position (similar to Dobkin and Kernes in Kharkiv) if this allows him to climb the career ladder.

It is important to note that the head of "Shakhtar Donetsk" Palkin unexpectedly declared an anathema on those fans who support the Maidan. This statement can be considered a veiled message to Yanukovych: Akhmetov is not going to go the way of Maidan.

In general, we can be almost certain that the authorities will manage to restore full control over the Party of Regions' faction. But having sorted out his parliamentary faction, Yanukovych has solved problems for only a couple of months because many will still be dissatisfied by the 'sweeteners' they receive from the ruling authorities. Moreover, the economic situation will require drastic urgent changes, and no one will be prepared to carry them out.

It should also be noted that tomorrow [Tuesday] PoR will not vote for any proposals to immediately change the Constitution. In the coming days the government will try force through the vote for a new prime minister, whose work will considered semi-legitimate not only in the eyes of half of the population, but also in the eyes of half the world.

Denyskenko writes: it should be noted that Yanukovych will not do anything about the federalists inside PoR who want the country to split into loosely connected regions. He will use the traditional tactic of 'wait and see' so it seems that he really does not understand the threats posed by these federalists.

On financial support Denysenko writes: Yanukovych still does not fully understand that for both Putin and the West he has ceased to exist  as a subject with which they can negotiate. Even if a few billion are allocated, it does not mean that Putin is ready to continue to actively support Yanukovych. The Kremlin has already begun consultations over who could be agreeable both to Putin and the West during a period of transition. The format of tripartite consultations on Ukraine on which Yanukovych recently strongly insisted could now play a trick on him and backfire.  He is no longer needed by anyone in this format.

Immediately after the Olympics, Putin will demand payment of the gas debt which will be about $ 4 billion. Yanukovych will be forced to offer 51% of the gas transportation system. As a result, the Russians will buy Ukraine's gas transport system for 7-8 billion. But for Yanukovych, getting his hands on 3- 4 billion will provide respite for just one and a half or two months.

Denysenko thinks the authorities will put into place phony provocateurs from within the ranks of law enforcement officers, and concludes: Yanukovych still has not understood that the country has changed, people have changed and their opinions have changed. The president's entourage live in a rigid state of inertia. The dominant motivation throughout the Party of Regions whatever they do, is fear and greed. Maidan has not yet taught them anything.

p.s. Yanukovych is scraping the bottom of the barrel in his choices for PM. Yuriy Boyko is a discredited crook - stole hundreds of millions on offshore gas drilling platforms. No-one is going to lend him serious money..Arbuzov? Very dodgy when it comes to numbers...has not made much of an impression at all with the IMF...bit of a mummy's boy...she has a very shady background and got him his first job in Yanukovych Jr's bank.
67-year old VR Speaker Volodymyr Rybak  could be pulled out of his coffin in the best traditions of the late Soviet era, and may also in the running as Yanukovych's glove-puppet..

Former catering college student Olena Lukash? Plus points?...good at making pyrogies?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Fateful week awaits

Yesterday Ukrainian prosecutor general Pshonka claimed all activists who have been detained during the current troubles have been released from custody [but, most importantly, charges against about 2000 of them have not been dropped].

Opposition leaders tonight have declared that Hrushevky Street will be cleared, the Kyiv city hall  will be cleared, and also several governor's administative building across Ukraine.

It would seem therefore, that some kind of conflict resolution process, perhaps overseen by foreign intermediaries, has commenced.

On Monday Yatsenyuk and Klychko are to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mirosław Czech in the Polish 'Gazeta Wyborcza' considers this may be a watershed event, and that Yanukovych may be softening his stance.

Czech claims the Germans have now weighed in, and have decided to ignore pleas from Russia to keep their noses out of Ukraine.

He writes: Mere hints of threat of sanctions made by German officials have badly shaken members of Ukraine's elites because the money of many Ukrainian oligarchs, including that of Yanukovych's son, flows through German banks

At Sunday's rally in Kyiv the opposition intends to ask protesters if they support the formation of a "Maidan government ". The answer will undoubtedly be positive, so Yatsenyuk and Klychko will go to Germany with a strong mandate for talks. In Berlin They will ask whether the new Ukrainian authorities can rely on financial assistance from Germany and the EU. Such guarantees are essential because Russia will not stand idly by and let Ukraine slip from its sphere of influence. Russia will close off gas supplies and financial support to Ukraine.

There are many unknowns in this kind of speculation. Leaders of the three main opposition parties are not fully trusted either by the 'hard cases' who have been manning barricades for nearly three months whose mates have had to endure great physical hardship in criminal isolation units, or by many the hundreds of thousands who have attended protest meetings. [Incidentally, most of those who have just been released from detention say they are quite prepared to go back to prison if necessary, and are disturbed the opposition are giving so much ground vacating streets and admin buildings.]

All of them want a complete reset of state/society social contract - the signing of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU would have been the start of this process. They will not be satisfied with any new cabinet unless their dreams of a reset can be rekindled. Anything less will be a waste of time.

Yanukovych and a large chunk of his electorate will be horrified ..but disillusionment with him is growing too. Ukrainian have yet to see any signs of a better tomorrow - in reality the country's economic crisis is at a critical level and getting worse.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Kluyev tries to trade in Tymoshenko to save his skin?

This week Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, Stefan Fule, have had a couple of meetings to discuss the settlement of the current deep political crisis. Today Fule was interviewed by the excellent  Natalia Humenyuk on Hromadske Radio.

One of his main messages was: "[European] foreign ministers [at the Council of Europe] made it clear that the EU is ready to react rapidly on any eventual deterioration of the situation on the ground."

Translating this from diplo-speak: If Yanukovych uses violent means to scatter the EuroMaidan sanctions against leading Ukrainian ministers will immediately kick in.

Fule called videos such as this one  explaining reasons for sanctions under existing legislation 'best sellers', [ presumably in the circles in which he mixes...]

One of Yanukovych's closest advisers, head of the president's administration Andriy Kluyev, who has many business interests in Austria, would be one of the first in the firing line. Former PM Mykola Azarov, who flew to Austria to join his family who live there immediately after being sacked a couple of weeks ago, has now returned back to Ukraine....

There are credible reports that during the last few days of January Kluyev had secret meeting with Yulia Tymoshenko. She has been incarcerated in a Kharkiv clinic for many months and is currently serving a seven year stretch for 'abuse of power'. [At a press conference today following a visit to her by Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Oleksandr Turchynov,  the latter, when asked, did not deny his leader may have indeed met Kluyev].

Among other things, at his meeting with Tymoshenko, Andriy Klyuyev allegedly proposed to the ex-premier in exchange for her support for Arseniy Yatsenyuk's appointment as PM she would be freed to fly to  Germany for treatment. Kluyev also promised all activists detained for their links to the current crisis would be freed, and a commission to work on the drafting of a new Constitution would be formed.

Tymoshenko told Kluyev to piss off.

All this is quite revealing.

As I have mentioned many times previously, Tymoshenko was arrested, tried and sentenced in order to be used as a bargaining chip when the time was right. It seems the moment has come.

Kluyev and his pals now know - if serious violence is used against protesters they will be stuck in Ukraine [or Russia] for good. Sure, they have property and assets in Ukraine, but the bulk is most likely stashed away in offshore bank accounts and will not be much good if they are banned from travelling to Europe and North America. No happy retirement when they get old. Sanctions against them is a big weapon..

These people also know that without a swift injection of several billion dollars Ukraine's economy will quickly "go down the tubes". Putin will demand  that in order any further funds be disbursed only someone trusted by him must become Ukraine's PM. Failing this, the EU could step in..but there will be serious strings attached and major economic pain linked to their proposals. They, like the Americans, would like to see someone like Yatsenyuk head the cabinet of ministers.

Party of Regions' will try to nominate one of their bandits, for PM, There are rumours that the 37 year-old former catering college student, now acting minister of justice, Olena Lukash, may even be nominated as a compromise...

Run for the hills boys...

p.s. There is mounting circumstantial evidence that off-duty Berkut personnel are responsible for the torching of dozens and dozens of activists' vehicles in Kyiv and elsewhere. Also very many of the detained activists who are currently being released, or are now on house arrest, are claiming they were horribly maltreated, particularly by Berkut goons. Berkut and other riot control forces are stoking up protesters' anger and are a serious impediment to a successful resolution of the current crisis.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Legalised hostage-taking

On January 29th a law was passed in the Verkhovna Rada on providing an amnesty to protesters arrested during the current troubles. Several days later the new law was signed off by the president.

[In legal terms an amnesty is an official pardon for persons who have been convicted of an offence. An amnesty means any sentence passed by a court is quashed. ]

However, if by February 17th protesters do not vacate local authority buildings currently being occupied in many cities throughout the country and do not unblock streets in central Kyiv, this idiotic law will expire.

It means, for example, protesters in one city, who are currently being detained or are under house arrest but have not faced any legal procedure and are hence totally innocent, will continue to be detained unless protesters in another city, perhaps hundreds of kilometres away to which they are not connected in any way, vacate occupied buildings.

This law is legalised hostage-taking...there can be no other way to describe it.

This law is also totally unworkable - some demonstrators are still being arrested [e.g. four former Afgan vets from Maidan were arrested yesterday when they handed over a pickpocket to the police] whilst at the same time others are being released on bail, or are being placed under house arrest. There also continue to be many creditable reports of maltreatment of activists in isolation units.

For protesters release of their colleagues is number one priority. Everyone knows no buildings will be vacated until prisoners are all freed. Opposition party leaders have no power to influence protesters holding these buildings and manning barricades - Yanukovych and his PoR deputies are well aware of this too.

All of this provides further confirmation of the Kafkaesque nature of Ukraine's legal system and the arbitrary, almost random manner in which it is applied.

Lots of groups, many not really associated with one another, [see list below] are participating in protest actions, but Maidan Self-Defence have declared government buildings will be emptied if all detainees are released.

The wide range of groups present on the Maidan defies accurate description. Their number can be estimated at several dozen; many of them were created during the protests, many have no organisational structure, and it is difficult to determine the number of their members, the names of their leaders, or their socio-political programmes.
A list of the most influential organisations and groups present on the Maidan:
1. Activists from the UDARBatkivshchyna, and Svoboda opposition parties, both from Kyiv and other regions of Ukraine.
2. The Maidan Self-Defence, numbering up to 10,000 people (in 35 ‘hundreds’). They perform the functions of keeping order and maintaining defence, and are located at each of the 10 barricades set at the access points to the Maidan and at subway stations. Its members include veterans of both the special forces and of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (who mainly function as instructors), as well as students and young professionals from different regions of Ukraine. They take orders from Andriy Parubiy, the Maidan’s commandant, who is a parliamentary deputy forBatkivshchyna.
3. The Right Sector, a league of marginal nationalist organisations such as the Tryzub[Trident] paramilitary organisation, Ukrainian National Self-Defence, Ukrainian Patriot, White Hammer, et al. The group’s leader is Dmytro Yarosh, the leader ofTryzub. There are about 500 members of these organisations on the Maidan, and across Ukraine they may have mobilised around four to five thousand people. Some members of the Right Sector belong to the Maidan Self-Defence. They are extremely wary of the leaders of the opposition parties, and who have also been expressing their own political ambitions.
4. Common Cause, a little-known radical organisation, numbering up to several hundred members, and who can mobilise more supporters if necessary. Their initiatives have included the occupation of the ministries of agriculture, energy and justice. Like the Right Sector they are distrustful of politicians, and have called for their participation in negotiations between the leaders of the opposition and President Yanukovych. Their leader is Oleksandr Danyluk, who has left Ukraine and is now resident in London.
5. The Automaidan, a group of activists numbering up to 1000 people who protest by driving long columns of vehicles. They take part in protest actions, but do not have a permanent base on the Maidan. The vehicles block streets or picket the residences of Ukrainian officials; they have also organised raids on the so-called titushki. Their leader is Dmytro Bulatov, who was tortured by unknown assailants, and is now in Vilnius for health reasons. The Automaidan supports Vitaly Klitschko.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

[Updated] The march to disaster

Straight- talking wise old bird Oleh Soskin was interviewed on Friday.

[Update: View the 45 minute Hromadske TV clip, in Ukrainian, here]

Here are some points he made:

Since becoming president and enlarging presidential powers, Yanukovych has created an efficient nationwide structure that is sucking money out of Ukraine's economy on an industrial scale. The beneficiaries of the scheme are primarily 'The Family' and their appointees.

Ukraine's economy is on the brink of economic default, and no more loans will be forthcoming from Putin. The Ukrainian treasury will very soon not be able to pay state employees, teachers, doctors, police, civil servants etc. or the 7 million or more pensioners who have to exist on a little more than $100 per per month. Such people have virtually no financial reserves and will be driven to penury in days rather than weeks. The hrynia's current devaluation will cause prices in the shops to dramatically increase.

EuroMaidan until now has been primarily driven by the petite bourgeoisie fed up with being squeezed by the taxman and corrupt state officials. The late pull-out from the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU and the hope that it would bring a better tomorrow, then the imposition of authoritarian and repressive laws [later sort of annulled/or not] were the last straw.

If/when EuroMaidan protesters are joined by lower strata of society who will have nothing to eat, a Bosnian Spring scenario is most probable. On Friday government buildings in several towns were set alight there as protests rapidly grew in intensity.

In Ukraine it will be 'every oblast for itself' as central government loses control of the country. Everyone is aware in which direction the wrath of the mob will be directed - against the authorities.

There remain only a few days to prevent the unfolding of such events. Ominously, Ukraine's leaders fail to recognise reality. And also "only 27 percent of people polled in January by Democratic Initiatives expressed hope for a political solution" to the current crisis.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Azarov's Austrian visa mystery

Two days ago German Green MEP Rebecca Harms  supposedly alleged acting PM Serhiy Arbuzov, Head of Yanukovych's presidential administration Klyuyev, and recently-sacked PM Azarov, all possess Austrian passports. The Austrians quickly discounted these claims, and Harms later admitted her declaration was mistranslated and that she had been misunderstood.

Oleh Voloshyn, a former highly placed ministry of foreign affair official explained on tonight that Azarov left for Austria immediately after losing his job. As PM he would have had the benefit of a diplomatic passport so no visa would have been required in order for him to travel abroad in Europe - but this diplomatic passport would have had to be surrendered together with the keys to the PM's office and desk.

However, Azarov presumably would also have been in possession of a normal Ukrainian passport too. In order to use it to enter Austria a visa would have had to have stamped in it ...unlikely in the very brief timespan between his unexpected sacking and his entry into Austria just a few hours later.

The true situation is rather more murky. Austria's track record, and that of other smaller EU countries on issuing passports to very wealthy, highly dubious foreign politicians is not that good.

"Although selling passports is frowned on within the EU, it is not technically illegal and Malta was recently in the spotlight for selling passports for 539,000 GBP (600,000 EUR).

In Austria people who invest in property or business are also eligible to receive passports. The investments are typically made at the regional level and then the local government fast tracks the application.

There is also the chance for anyone who comes into Austria with a significant amount of money of getting a residence permit, which can then later be changed to citizenship under the 'Privatierslösung'.

The applicants do not need to have any skills, but they need to have a provable income of more than €3,500 a month. That means that this money needs to be paid into a local bank or through the purchase of property.

And with Austria refusing to extradite its citizens to Russia and it's satellite states like the Ukraine and Kazakhstan, it explains why there has been a flood of applications from the region to gain Austrian citizenship."[Source]

It could be that the three 'heroes' mentioned by Harms possess Austrian residence permits....If these permits are available they most certainly would have been applied for. But  as their businesses in that country come under close scrutiny the threesome may decide to give Austria a miss for a while...

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Bohoslovska's predictions [Updated]

A most interesting interview with former PoR parliamentary deputy, Inna Bohoslovska, who recently left PoR to become an independent outspoken critic of the Ukrainian authorities, on a couple of hours ago. Bohoslovska is considered by some to be 'bullet-proof' and free to to criticise Yanukovych, under the 'krysha' of oligarch Viktor Pinchuk.

I hope it will soon be posted on YouTube.

Update: The imo important hour and one half interview can be seen on YouTube here. I believe she provides a true picture of the inside workings and current attitudes inside the PoR parliamentary fraction, particularly following Yanukovych's unprecedented visit to force his deputies to vote for a bill to provide amnesty to demonstrators conditional on the clearance of streets and buildings seized during protests.

Amongst her many revealing comments she claimed all that stands between a peaceful resolution to the current Ukrainian crisis and major bloodshed are 40-odd rebellious PoR parliamentary deputies. Even though they crumbled before Yanukovych a couple of days ago, they remain vital to any political resolution to the crisis.

Yanukovch is aware of this and will do his utmost to dissolve the Verkhovna Rada because, as Vitaliy Portnikov says, it offers an alternative platform for dialogue between EuroMaidan and the opposition.

Even though the president does not have the authority to dissolve parliament, current parliamentary speaker, and old-time Yanuk crony,  Volodymyr Rybak does not exclude such a possibility.

Bohoslovska claimed the EuroMaidan was to be cleared by force on the 28th, but statements by Rinat Akhmetov and others denouncing violence, and phone calls from US VP Joe Biden, saved the day.

Also Yanukovych does not have the 50% support of the electorate to become a tyrant.

Many PoR deputies were prepared to cast a blind eye on the massive corruption by 'The Family' in recent years because signing of the Association Agreement was so much more important.. When signing the AA in Vilnius fell through last November, the situation became a different ball game.

After the Sochi Olympics Bohoslovska suggested there will be an attempt by Russia to 'nibble off' portions of Ukraine, particularly Luhansk and Kharkiv oblasts, and maybe Crimea. Kharkiv would be a big problem because although the local strongmen, Mayor Gennady Kernes and Regional State Administration head Mykhaylo Dobkin would be co-operative if such a turn of events were to occur, the local population, in particular, young students could react unpredictably.  This scenario is being organised by Putin adviser Vladislav Surkov..

Bohoslovska suggested the recent sadistic kidnappings of EuroMaidan leaders, including Dmytro Bulatov, had the hallmarks of Kharkiv crime gangs on them, in particular of the  'Oplot' organisation.

She admitted that 90% of Ukraine's 11,000 judges were completely corrupt and should be replaced, and that this would be a good starting point in any major reform. She also admitted that although judge Kireyev who presided over the Tymoshenko trial was also 'bent', Tymoshenko was a crook in any case, and that had she been leading the opposition right now, there would have been a blood-bath.

p.s Germany's top-selling newspaper carries the story above: :Tortured with electric shocks...half his ear cut off, my friend [Dima Bulatov] was cruelly Vitaliy Klychko"

Berkut can act with impunity...not one of their ranks has had to face criminal charges since the troubles began despite dozens and dozens of recorded incidents of excessive use of violence..torture, maltreatment etc. etc.