Kiev promoting Well-beign of neo-Nazism in Ukraine

January 1, 2016

The headline of an article of The Jerusalem Post is quite descriptive: “Local Jews in shock after Ukrainian city of Konotop elects neo-Nazi mayor”. The story is about the behavior of newly chosen Mayor Artem Semenikhin of the neo-Nazi Svoboda party.


According to reports, Semenikhin drives around in a car bearing the number 14/88, a numerological reference to the phrases “we must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children” and “Heil Hitler”; replaced the picture of President Petro Poroshenko in his office with a portrait of Ukrainian national leader and Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera; and refused to fly the city’s official flag at the opening meeting of the city council because he objected to the star of David emblazoned on it.

The Jerusalem Post reports:

“The reaction of [the] community is shock. People are shocked it could happen in [a] city and nobody believed it could happen here but it happened somehow,” community activist Igor Nechayev told The Jerusalem Post. For the most part, relations between the Jewish community and their non-Jewish neighbors are cordial, he said. However, while the mayor attempts to make sure his statements never cross over into outright anti-Semitism, many things he says can be interpreted in such a way, he continued. As an example, he referred to a recent statement by Semenikhin in which the mayor refused to apologize for anti-Jewish actions taken by far-right nationalists in World War II, intimating that it was because those responsible for the Holodomor famine of the 1930s were largely Jewish.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

The case of neo-Nazism in Konotop is only one example about right-wing activism in Ukraine. Here some other examples from December 2015:

  • Members of the Ukrainian neo-Nazi Azov volunteer battalion and their ultranationalist civilian sympathizers have conducted a torchlit procession in the center of the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, held under the slogan “coming after you!” According to its organizers, up to 5,000 ultranationalist activists marched through the central avenue of the city alongside the Azov fighters carrying burning torches and Azov flags with the battalion’s insignia – “Wolfsangel” or wolf hook, which was used during WWII by two of Nazi Germany’s SS divisions. Source: RT 
  • An anti-communist hysteria is prevailing in Kiev. After banning Soviet symbols earlier this year, a court has now outlawed the Communist party of Ukraine, preventing it from organising and taking part in elections. The ban has been criticised by civil liberties campaigners, who say it contravenes the European Convention of Human Rights, to which Ukraine is a signatory. Source: The Guardian


  • Ukrainian nationalists are cooperating with the so-called ‘militant’ arm of the Islamic State. Currently, some of them are even being transferred from Syria to Ukraine. Nine thousand Ukrainian passports were sent to ISIS. Source: New Eastern Outlook


  • The Russian Foreign Ministry has called the seizure of an Orthodox church near Rivne by Ukrainian radical nationalists a flagrant violation of the right to freedom of conscience and religion…The ministry noted that the situation near Rivne was a continuation of a series of similar seizures of churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. According to it, ten cathedrals have been fully destroyed, 77 others severely damaged and at least three Orthodox priests have been killed. “Several churches have been seized because of inactivity and sometimes direct involvement of Ukraine’s law enforcement agencies,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “Many priests fled to Russia trying to save themselves from threats by extremists.” Source: TASS


Fortunately in Russia some opposite actions are taking place:

Putin Against Anti-Semitism


Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center/Moscow

Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center/Moscow


Jeremy Corbyn on NATO & Ukraine

September 10, 2015

Getting Russia right by Jonathan Power

August 8, 2015

430466_10150626190689386_872037105_nGetting Russia right by Jonathan Power

Lund, Sweden, August 7, 2015

Even today in many different ways the US and Russia remain close.

There is cooperation in space, not least the International Space Station. The US regularly hires Russian rockets to launch its crews to the Station and to launch satellites. Russia sells advanced rocket engines to the US. Russia allows war material en route to Afghanistan to pass through its territory on Russian trains.
Russia worked hand in glove with the US to successfully remove the large stocks of chemical weapons possessed by Syria. It shares intelligence on Muslim extremists including ISIS. Conceivably it could enter the battle against ISIS.
It has encouraged Western investment including joint oil exploration of the Artic. Recently it stood side by side with the US and the EU as they forged an agreement with Iran on its nuclear industry.

At the UN Security Council Russia and the US voted together for a resolution approving the agreement.

President Barack Obama phoned President Vladimir Putin to thank him.
US diplomats are now conceding that Russia’s claim that the neo-fascist so-called “Right Sector” in Ukraine is wrecking havoc is true.

The Right Sector in the eyes of many was a key – and violent – element in the success of last year’s Maidan demonstrations that toppled President Viktor Yanukovich.
When the Russian, French and German foreign ministers hammered out an agreement with the support of Ukraine’s parliamentary opposition for Yanukovich to step down at the next election the West totally “forgot” about it in the next few days as the Maidan demonstators drove Yanukovich into exile.

Washington and other Western capitals supported the “democratic revolution” rather than demanding the fulfillment of the agreement. No wonder Putin was livid.
What is now needed in Western capitals is an acknowledgement that they have not always got Russia and Putin right.
For example in the Ossetian war/Georgian war in 2008 Russia was accused of starting it.

In fact, as is now widely accepted in the West, it was Georgia’s bombing of the South Ossetian capital that triggered the war.
Today many Western observers believe that the degree of Russia’s intervention in the Donbass in eastern Ukraine is grossly overstated.

Not long ago the American commanding general in NATO warned that Russia was about to invade, an ill-informed or deceitful (depending on one’s perspective) viewpoint that was quickly shot down by the head of French intelligence.
Back in 1999 NATO’s bombing of Belgrade which led to an independent Kosovo went against international law – the illegality of invasion when the invaders were not themselves under threat.

Russia at the UN voted against this campaign, arguing that changing a country’s boundaries by force was illegal.

If the West had not waged its Kosovo campaign it is probable that Russia would never have taken over Crimea.
Russian paranoia was understandable when the second Russian-Chechen war broke out.

Many powerful Washington insiders ignored the jihadi nature of the Chechen invasion of neighbouring Dagestan, focusing only on Russian violations of human rights.

Yet today emirs, controlling perhaps as much as 80% of the Caucasus Emirate mujahedin, have declared their loyalty to ISIS.
In 2011 Russia abstained on a resolution at the UN Security Council which authorized a Western initiative to use its air forces to attack those pro the regime of Muammar al-Qaddafi in order to save civilians from being massacred.

In fact the Western powers went far beyond their UN mandate and fought to bring down Qaddafi.

This led to the present chaos in Libya which is reducing the new “free” state to anarchy and seems to have no end in sight.

Russia felt it had been double-crossed which, indeed, it had.

Gordan Hahn, the Russian watcher, who once was a Senior Associate of Washington’s prestigious Center for Strategic and International Studies, writes: “All this demonstrates again the utter futility in expanding NATO into Russia’s fear of influence (breaking a solemn agreement made with Russia).

It undermines Western security in two respects. It has alienated Russia and transformed it into the West’s “greatest geo-political foe” that the Republican presidential candidates misconceptualize. Second, it runs directly contrary to the requirements of an effective global fight in the war against jihadism, which must include all major powers in a robustly institutionalized alliance.”
Of course Putin on occasion is boorish and heavy-handed but it is no surprise that Putin has overwhelming support in his confrontation with the West.

I believe the opinion polls which show him in the high 80% of approval.

In the last 9 months I have walked the streets of Russia on three visits doing my own amateur poll.
Russia responds to the policies and actions of the West.

It is always the West that makes the first move on the chessboard.

Russia has developed, writes Hahn, “carefully thought out plans designed to defeat the West, regardless of what the West may or may not do”.
© Jonathan Power

[ 820 words ]

Permanent link to this article

See also Jonathan Power’s review of Richard Sakwa’s pathbreaking analysis “Frontline Ukraine. Crisis in the Borderlands” –  Appallingly, we in the West have been more misled than the Russians.

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Willy Brandt followers call for a new European approach to the crisis in Ukraine

August 6, 2015

portait_02Hereby an exclusive English translation By OrientalReview of  an Open Letter of a group of influential German figures, the members of Willy Brandt Circle, to SPD (German Social-Democrats) Bundestag delegates and cabinet ministers urging them to abandon the confrontational course in relations with Russia. The authors reviewed the degrading EU-Russia ties in the context of Ukraine’s crisis which was the direct result of mutual misunderstandings and controversies.


Europe is experiencing the worst crisis since the end of the East-West conflict. Not only dealing with Greece and the thousands of refugees heighten tenses across the continent, but also the ceasefire negotiation process in Ukraine remains fragile. As long as the conflict over the future of Ukraine is unsolved, the real danger of escalation is on the table.

A comprehensive peace treaty for Europe, envisioned by the Charter of Paris 1990, is still needed. Europe has no interest in aggravating old controversy between the United States and the USSR, bringing Russia to its knees. There is a difference between the European and the American interests: pan-European problems cannot be solved without Russia or even against Russia. Recent history shows: Russia and the peoples of the Soviet Union contributed more than anyone to the liberation of Europe from fascism and later to the unification of Germany. Therefore, Germany has a special responsibility to win Russia as a negotiating partner in the European peace order.

In 1990 it seemed that the answer to these questions is found once and for all: Russia became a co-architect of the European integration. Russia, alongside with the USA, would naturally become an anchor and an equal partner. Since then Russia’s expectations have been deeply disappointed: EU and, what’s more important, NATO enlargement policy totally excluded the possibility of Russia’s membership. It was too difficult, as the country was too big. Moreover, some Eastern European states claimed that their quick accession to NATO membership was a military precaution against Russia. Having no perspective to join NATO itself, more and more patriotic Russia sees the expansion of the structures of the Western alliance as a threat. NATO expansion nourished Russia’s old fear of being surrounded and it was gradually forced to thinking in geopolitical categories and zones of influence.

The Ukrainian crisis is a reflection of a major conflict between Russia and the Euro-Atlantic structures. It may lead to a catastrophe if the ongoing arms race, military provocations and confrontational rhetoric is not stopped. We strongly appeal to all responsible politicians and peace-loving citizens but first and foremost directly to the SPD:

In this situation bold political initiative is needed comparable to the initiatives that helped to stop the conflict spiral during Berlin Wall and Cuban Missile Crisis. It was German social democracy that paved the way to the new Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik and the détente. In 2015 we require such courage and political wisdom to counter the threat of renewed confrontation and division of Europe. We call to stop the confrontation and restart our relations with Russia before it is too late for all of us.

  • The Ukraine crisis cannot be solved by political sanctions against Russia. The underlying causes of the Russian-European alienation should be discussed at EU-Russia summit talks. Lasting reconciliation of interests can only be achieved through dialogue and negotiation. The economic sanctions undermine the development of Europe as a common economic area. Cooperation is an engine of confidence building. Energy infrastructure that has already been affected by the current sharpening of contradictions is a vital part of our mutual interests and bilateral trade.
  • The European Union that is partially responsible for the roots of the crisis must contribute to its solution on the basis of consensus. The interaction of Germany, France and Poland with Ukraine and Russia in Minsk II Agreement is an innovative approach. Implementation of Minsk II may bridge the credibility gap. A wider European integration is needed. Germany must throw into the say its position as a future OSCE president and act in the spirit of dialogue.
  • The United States as the most important partner of the new Ukrainian government has also high responsibility to find a solution to the crisis. All available international fora should be used to bring Russia and the US together. In times of crisis we need to maintain close ties in order to communicate effectively. Therefore, G7 should involve Russia and the work of the NATO-Russia Council should continue as soon as possible. Essential ways to negotiate in crisis should not be limited but broadened.
  • The incorporation of the Crimea into Russia is a violation of international agreements. At the same time it is a political reality that cannot be undone against the will of the majority of Crimea’s voters. The status quo must not undermine the constructive cooperation with stakeholders of the common European interest.
  • Ukrainian crisis is also the result of a weak federal structure in a relatively new state. Only through a strong federal system the country can protect itself from ethnic strife and the threat of secession. The experience of other European countries with federal structure should be offered to Ukraine if needed.
  • NATO membership for Ukraine will not enhance Alliance’s security. It will fuel the flame of Russia’s fears about NATO objectives and increase the risks of unwanted military confrontation. The framework of the OSCE and the “Vienna Document” 2011 is vital in times of crisis and should be implemented to bring together political and military bodies of all European states.
  • The Ukraine crisis threatens the European arms control. Arms race, transfer of lethal military equipment and new troop deployments on both sides of the Russian border undermine the existing system of arms control treaties. The participation of German troops in the military training of the “intervention force” can trigger on the Russian side memories of the German invasion and aggravate tension, which is unnecessary. Disengagement of troops, non-proliferation and arms curbs are goals to be achieved as soon as possible.
  • During the Ukraine crisis we saw alarming rise of nuclear intent once again. There is a risk of rearming with medium range nuclear missiles in Europe as it happened in the 1980-es. Nuclear weapons must be finally outlawed. A matter of principle weapons of total annihilation should not be part of employable forces.
  • European peace order is not only an order of states. It is based on strong civil societies and, among other, international cooperation in the field of culture, media, sports and science. Restart of European youth exchange programs with Russia and Ukraine may help to overcome stereotyping and encourage better understanding of each other and, consequently, build better relations.

Europe needs Russia and Russia needs Europe. We stand at a tipping point. Either we enter a more or less Cold war with dim future or pave the way together the new common European peace order.

Now is the time to act!

Berlin, July, 21, 2015

Egon Bahr and Willy Brandt


Prof. Egon Bahr was the creator of the “Ostpolitik” promoted by West German Chancellor Willy Brandt, for whom he served as Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office from 1969 until 1972. Between 1972 and 1990 he was an MP in the Bundestag.

Prof. Dr. Walther Stützle was the Deputy Minister of Defense in 1998-2002.

Dr. Christoph Zöpel is the SPD politician, Foreign Minister in 1999-2002.

Prof. Dr. Ingomar Hauchler, Bundestag MP (SPD) from 1983 to 1998.

Dr. Edelbert Richter is a Member of the European Parliament in 1991-1994, German Bundestag MP in 1994-2002, member of the Federation of German Scientists.

Dr. Hans Misselwitz is a functionary of the SPD and a founding member of the Institute Solidarity modernity.

Prof. Dr. Götz Neuneck is the Deputy Director of the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH) and Director of the Interdisciplinary Research Group Arms Control and Disarmament (IFAR).

Antje Vollmer, is a member of the German Green Party. From 1994 to 2005, she was one of the vice presidents of the Bundestag.

Wolfgang Schmidt is the Hamburg Commissioner to the Federal Government, the European Union and of Foreign Affairs; Member of the Committee of the Regions.

Prof. Dr. Dieter Klein is the Head of the Commission on the Future of the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation and a member of its Board.

Prof. Dr. Gustav Horn is the Professor of Economics at the University of Flensburg, Scientific Director of the Institute of Macroeconomic Research in the Hans Böckler Foundation.

Dr. Rainer Land is the German social scientist and economist.

Axel Schmidt-Gödelitz is the Chairman of the East-West Forum.

Prof. Dr. Rolf Reissig is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation.

Prof. Dr. Elmar Brähler, was the Professor of Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology at the University of Leipzig.

Prof. Dr. Peter Brandt is the German historian and retired Professor for Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Hagen.

Prof. Dr. Michael Schneider is the German political journalist and literary critic.

Prof. Klaus Staeck is a German lawyer and publisher.

Dr. Friedrich Dieckmann is the author of essays, reviews, stories and radio features.

Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Gießmann is the Executive Director of Berghof Foundation.

Prof. Dr. Lutz Götze, Professor Emeritus of the University of Saarland.

Dr. Enrico Heitzer, Researcher of the Brandenburg Memorials Foundation.

Gunter Hofmann is the German journalist working for Die Zeit.

Dr. Irina Mohr is the leader of Forum Berlin of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

Dr. Friedrich Schorlemmer, is a German Protestant theologian, civil rights activist and member of the SPD.

Volker Braun is the prominent German writer living in Berlin.

Daniela Dahn is the writer, journalist and essayist.

Ingo Schulze is a German writer from Dresden.

Ukraine: Not so quiet on the Western front

July 29, 2015

Ukraine: Not so quiet on the Western front

Written by Peter Mikhailenko Wednesday, 29 July 2015 [Reprint from In Defence of Marxism]

In the Western Ukrainian region of Zakarpattia, Far-right Right Sector have clashed violently with police, resulting in two militants dead and several bystanders injured. What does this mean for the stability of post-Euromaidan alliance?

right-sector-demoWhat can be described as a “vigilante” operation gone awry, has ended in a bloody clash with police, leaving two fascists dead, several bystanders, police and militants injured. Right Sector – a far right Ukrainian paramilitary organisation claiming the legacy of the Nazi-collaborating Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) – targeted a Ukrainian MP Mykhailo Lanio (formerly Party of Regions) on July 13th in his home region in Zakarpattia. Despite being heavily armed, they were met at the location by the MP’s guards along with local police, foiling their attempt to presumably kidnap the MP for what Right Sector claimed was the MP’s smuggling operation in the border region. This had put both the leaders in Kiev and Right Sector in uncomfortable positions.

For the oligarchs in Kiev, this was an embarrassing demonstration of the lawlessness that has followed the events of Euromaidan. Since those events, the primary objective of those in power had been to profit as much from the civil war while gaining loans from Western governments and the IMF. In their eyes, the legitimacy of the Kiev government lies in their ability to stabilize the situation in Ukraine for the business interests of foreign capital.

Ukraine’s total debt is estimated at a staggering 158% of its GDP and growing. Despite harsh IMF backed austerity measures being introduced by the government – including the cutting of pensions, social services and sacking of hundreds of thousands of public employees – the debt is continuing to spiral out of control. This is largely due to the enormous amount of spending going towards the war with the Donbas rebels along with the general militarization of the country. This of course is very convenient for the pro-Maidan oligarchs, as they are making billions of dollars off all of the business around supplying the army. Lenin, when he was told that “war is terrible” replied “yes, terribly profitable”.

The profit making of the oligarchs does not stop at the war effort as many have used the increased lawlessness to expand their business empires. This has nevertheless caused friction between some pro-Maidan oligarchs, most notably president Petro Poroshenko and the former governor of the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Ihor Kolomoiskiy. This was brought to the open when last March, Kolomoiskiy and his thugs physically seized the headquarters of the state oil company UkrNafta last March, where Kolomoiskiy already owned a 42% stake. This type of takeover – although not entirely rare in Ukrainian business practices – was too high-profile and embarrassing for a corrupt Kiev president trying to present himself as a champion of “anti-corruption”. Shortly after, two minor government officials were arrested as a show of action, while Kolomoiskiy himself was only forced to resign from his position as Dnipropetrovsk governor after a face to face meeting with the president.

These types of manoeuvres are nothing new for the Ukrainian oligarchy. What has been a new occurrence is the reliance on militias – many with openly fascist and neo-Nazi ideologies – in their war against the rebels in the East and in quelling dissent in the rest of the country. Heavily implicated in the Euromaidan and the overthrow of Yanukovich in February 2014, they formed the basis for the National Guard battalions sent to combat the rebellion in Donbas. The battalions proved more willing than the regular Ukrainian army in combatting the rebels and so were useful.

While the Western media has often portrayed these battalions as “fighters for democracy”, often uncritically parroting the story’s from Kiev information ministries about Russian divisions crossing the border into Donbas. More and more, this façade is beginning to crumble.

The Western media has reluctantly been obliged to cover the far-right presence among the Ukrainian army. When the United States army began openly training the battalions earlier this year – notably the neo-Nazi Azov battalion – a bill was proposed by US congressman John Conyers to prevent the training of far-right elements, as if they could simply be sieved out of the National Guard ranks. Adding to this was the shocking revelations about the torture, rape and murder of civilians in the Lughansk region by members of the “Tornado” battalion, many of whom were violent criminals recruited from the Ukrainian prison system to fill the ranks of the battalion.

The dog lashes out against the master

In many ways, Right Sector became the symbol of the brute force at Euromaidan. Their ranks and influence swelled from a marginal group with few hundred members to a well-armed paramilitary organisation with thousands of members, and Members of Parliament. Their leader Dmitry Yarosh frequently appears on television, including the popular talk show Shuster Live.

Having gained their reputation as a combative force, they have focused their actions in military combat in Donbas, the kidnaping and torture of people suspected of “separatism” along with operations against drug rings. Local police are often less armed than the militias and are usually powerless and afraid to stop them, especially given the way Euromaidan transpired.

In Zakarpattia, they bit off more than they could chew in going after an oligarch MP well installed in the region. While the SBU tried to imply that the incident was the work of “Russian agents”, Poroshenko stated his intention to disarm Right Sector. Nevertheless, Right Sector was able to organize an armed rally numbering 3000-5000 outside the presidential office in Kiev, calling on the resignation of the president. In order to organise it they have also partially retreated from the front line.

Despite their anti-oligarch rhetoric, National Guard battalions and far-right groups in Ukraine are tied to oligarchs in terms of receiving funding and equipment. While Kiev is happy to have these groups fighting rebels, repressing opposition to the government and breaking up trade union actions, it is not out of the question that they could pit these groups against each other should they feel threatened as occurred last summer in Kiev.However, the show of strength of the Right Sector is a warning to what any Ukrainian government might face if it decides to finally settle the matter of the rebel republics.

The oligarchs and Western Imperialism

US imperialism historically has shown no hesitation in supporting brutal regimes, but prefer if these things stay hidden. As Ukraine’s economy veers closer and closer to default, it is more and more dependent on foreign aid, and thus, is in the process of transforming into a client state for foreign interests. This puts Ukrainian oligarchs in a contradiction however, as they have historically maintained a certain independence from both Western and Russian capital. Last June, Poroshenko dismissing Valentyn Nalyvaichenko – who is considered close to US interests – as the chief of the interior security agency, SBU.

Just how far Washington will tolerate the current Kiev regime remains to be seen. As of now, the US imperialism aims in the Ukrainian conflict are:

  1. The expansion of their influence at the expense of a rival power in Russia,
  2. The increasing of tensions between Russia and the EU (particularly Germany), that forces the EU industry to seek most expensive alternatives to Russian gas, reducing its competitively versus US industry,
  3. The opening of new markets for US multinationals, not only in Ukraine, but also the possibility of selling US gas to the EU.

Neither the Ukrainian oligarchs nor US imperialism has an interest in ending the conflict because it is simply too profitable. The conflict is equally advantageous for various speculators holding Ukraine’s debt, who can make profits speculating on the debt, despite Ukraine not likely to ever be able to repay.

While the far-right poses a threat to any Ukrainian opposing the current order they are too tied to the oligarchs and the government themselves to pose a real threat to their power. Support from the US will go to the section of the oligarchy most willing to continue the transformation of the country into a client state for the interest of their multinationals. Another overthrow of the president is certainly not out of the question. These kinds of changes will only lead to the further destabilisation of the country, and drive Ukrainians further into poverty and war.

Many people who passively or actively supported the overthrow of Yanukovich did so with the idea that “things could not get any worse”. The events of the past year have shown them that there is no end in sight in the race to the bottom. Even the newly appointed governor of the Odessa region, Mikhail Saakashvilli, the former Georgian president who is sought in his country on corruption charges, has stated that it will take 20 years of stability to bring the economy back to the level it was under Yanukovich. We would add that there is no bottom for capitalism in crisis, which applies not just for Ukraine, but essentially everywhere in the world at the moment.

27 July 2015

FWD: Kiev ramps up repression by Ben Gliniecki

May 13, 2015

Kiev ramps up repression

The last few weeks have seen a wave of political killings in Ukraine. All the deaths have been of high profile figures associated with opposition to the current Kiev government. The two most recent killings, one of a former Party of Regions MP and the other of a journalist and author, coincided with the victims’ details being published on a website called The Peacekeeper shortly before their deaths.

Andrey BilestkyThis website, which has the support of Anton Geraschenko, a top advisor to Ukraine’s interior minister who encouraged his Facebook followers to send in information about “suspected terrorists and separatists” to the site, claims to be a database with information on “pro-Russian terrorists, separatists, mercenaries, war criminals, and murderers”.

Within hours of each other on 16 and 17 April, Oleg Kalashnikov, a former MP with ties to Yanukovich, and Oles Buzyna, a journalist who had appeared on Russian talk shows recently, were murdered. According to political expert Volodomyr Fesenko, a group claiming to be the Ukrainian Insurgent Army sent him an email addressed to the Opposition Bloc, claiming responsibility for the murders. Fesenko quoted the letter as saying “We are unleashing a ruthless insurgency against the anti-Ukrainian regime of traitors and Moscow’s lackeys. From now on, we will only speak to them using the language of weapons, all the way to their elimination.”

This claim by the neo-nazi Ukrainian Insurgent Army comes shortly after they have been legitimised by the Ukrainian parliament, in the same breath as banning all Communist symbols and propaganda and glorifying the nazi collaborators in WWII. Far right elements in Ukraine have also recently received a boost from the appointment of Dimitry Yarosh, leader of the fascist Right Sector, to Advisor to the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces in Ukraine. President Poroshenko’s reliance on fascist elements to silence opposition to his regime is increasing.

The final interview given by Buzyna before his murder is revealing. In it he says “I support the idea that relations between Russia and the Ukraine should become most comfortable and friendly [because] the ‘real’ Ukraine is in large measure dependent on economic ties with Russia”. He goes on to say “There was a coup d’état. After that, it was legalized, they did everything, anything they wanted, to make it look decent…The fact that there was a coup is hugely the fault of Yanukovich, who failed to perform his duties as President”. He also describes the country as being “governed by thieves from within” and concludes by saying that the government is “shelling civilians in towns instead of fighting terrorists… That’s the thing. My position is inconvenient to the current authorities in Ukraine”. One week after criticising the government in this way, Buzyna was dead.

These two most recent murders have been preceded by a spate of so-called suicides, all involving opposition figures. On February 28, Mikhail Chechetov, a former MP for the Party of Regions, reportedly jumped from the window of his 17th-floor apartment in Kiev. On March 9, Stanislav Melnik, also a former member of parliament with the Party of Regions and the manager of several businesses in Donetsk, was found dead in his apartment near Kiev. And finally, on March 12, Oleksandr Peklushenko, another former MP, was found in his house in Zaporizhzhya, in southeastern Ukraine, dead of a gunshot wound.

The Kiev authorities have claimed that many of these deaths are suicides. Regarding Buzyna and Kalashnikov the government has suggested that this could be the work of Moscow attempting a provocation by killing off opposition figures. This seems far-fetched to say the least, as Buzyna said in his final interview: “When the country is governed by thieves from within, it is very easy to blame Putin. Whatever happens—Putin is to blame.” In the context of a consolidation of fascist positions in the government and in law, as well as the breathing space afforded by the fragile ceasefire agreement, it appears that Kiev is making the most of this opportunity to unleash its far right thugs against its opponents.

Meanwhile US troops have begun training soldiers of the Ukrainian National Guard, while the US state department has hypocritically claimed that Russia is violating the terms of the Minsk agreement by massing weapons in prohibited zones and carrying out training exercises with rebel forces. Although the ceasefire appears to be holding in the main, there has been fighting breaking out at certain flashpoints, particularly near the key port of Mariupol.

Poroshenko, under pressure from the far right Ukrainian nationalists, will not be able to reconcile fascist support for his government with a separatist state in the east of the country. This will put the ceasefire under more and more pressure the longer it continues, but Poroshenko recognises the potential for general discontent, caused by continued war in the east, to spread widely among ordinary western Ukrainians. Thus he is cementing his position by eliminating figures around which opposition to his regime could coalesce, thereby paving the way for a renewed assault on the eastern republics.

EU and Russia: No option but peace and coexistence | The BRICS Post

February 18, 2015

EU and Russia: No option but peace and coexistence | The BRICS Post.

‘Minsk deal’, point by point

February 13, 2015


‘Minsk deal’, point by point

 1. A comprehensive ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. Comes into force at 00.00 (Kiev time) on February 15.

2. A pullout of heavy weapons. The parties agreed to a compromise disengagement line. Kiev is to pull artillery and other hardware from the current frontline while the rebels would do it from the frontline as it was in September, before they gained ground in a January counter-offensive. The OSCE-monitored safety zone would be 50 km to 150 km wide for weapons, depending on their range. The pullout is to be completed by March 1.

3. The OSCE will use its drone fleet and monitors on the ground, as well as satellite images and radar data to ensure that both parties stick to the deal.

4. Kiev and the rebels will negotiate the terms for future local elections in the rebel-held areas, which would bring them back into Ukraine’s legal framework. Kiev would adopt legislation on self-governance that would be acceptable for the self-proclaimed republics.

5. Kiev will declare a general amnesty for the rebels.

6. An exchange of all prisoners must be completed by the fifth day after full disengagement. That’s in 19 days, if the weapons pullback takes the full time provided for by the deal.

7. Humanitarian aid convoys will be allowed full access to the needy in the war-affected areas. An international monitoring mechanism will be provided.

8. Kiev will restore economic ties, social payments and banking services in the dissenting areas, which it cut earlier in response to the elections held by the self-proclaimed republics. Their respective governments will resume taxation and payment for utilities. This provision is subject for further negotiation.

9. After the local elections are held in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, Kiev is to restore control over their borders with Russia. The transition may take time, which would be needed for a comprehensive constitutional reform in Ukraine.

10. All foreign troops, heavy weapons and mercenaries are to be withdrawn from Ukraine. Illegal armed groups would be disarmed, but local authorities in Donetsk and Lugansk would be allowed to have legal militia units.

11. Keiv will implement comprehensive constitutional reform by the end of the year, which would decentralize the Ukrainian political system and give privileges to Donetsk and Lugansk. The privileges include language self-determination, the freedom to appoint prosecutors and judges, and to establish economic ties with Russia.

12. The OSCE’s election monitors are to see that local elections in the self-proclaimed republics are up to international standards. The exact procedure for the elections is subject to further negotiations.

13. Talks between the “contact group” will be intensified in various ways.


Is South Stream Pipeline Transforming Itself To “Turk Stream”?

December 3, 2014

We believe that in the current conditions Russia cannot continue with the realisation of this project [South Stream].” (Vladimir Putin)

russia vs euRussia’s $40 billion South Stream gas pipeline project came to reach a standstill on Monday 1st Dec 2014 when, as the WSJ reports, Russian President Vladimir Putin said: “We couldn’t get necessary permissions from Bulgaria, so we cannot continue with the project. We can’t make all the investment just to be stopped at the Bulgarian border.

The main reasons for halting the South Stream are plunging energy prices, stalling European demand, interpretation of the European Commission that all bilateral agreements (IGAs) for the construction of South Stream are all in breach of EU law and mostly the political standoff between the European Union and Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine.

The announcement on scrapping South Stream came during a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Gazprom chief executive, Alexei Miller, to Turkey, during which Putin proposed building it to Turkey instead, offering its gas at a discount.

South Stream

South Stream is a Russian sponsored natural gas pipeline. As planned, the pipeline would run under the Black Sea to Bulgaria, and continue through Serbia with two branches to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to Croatia. From Serbia the pipelines crosses Hungary and Slovenia before reaching Italy. Its planned capacity is 63 billion cubic metres per year (bcm/y).

The key partner for Russia’s Gazprom in the South Stream project is Italy’s largest energy company, ENI.

Russia signed intergovernmental agreements with:

  • Bulgaria – January 18, 2008;
  • Serbia – January 25, 2008;
  • Hungary – February 28, 2008;
  • Greece – April 29, 2008;
  • Slovenia – November 14, 2009;
  • Croatia – March 2, 2010;
  • Austria – April 24, 2010.

The construction of South Stream started on December 7, 2012 is scheduled to be completed by 2015. The offshore section of the pipeline, which will run in part along the seabed and reach the maximum depth of 2,200 m, will be 931 km long. Each of the four parallel strings of the pipeline will consist of 75,000 pipes, each 12 m long, 81 cm in diameter, 39 mm thick and weighing 9 tonnes.

South Stream and partners

South Stream and partners

Last December (2013), the European Commission said that all bilateral agreements (IGAs) for the construction of South Stream are all in breach of EU law and need to be renegotiated from scratch (Source: Euractiv ).

Field status” as solution

The European Commission threatened to launch legal action on grounds that South Stream violates EU anti-monopoly laws, with Bulgaria halting construction in August 2014. There are two main requirements for the eligibility of major new gas infrastructure projects like South Stream to be developed in the EU in compliance with the European Commission Directive 2009/73/EC concerning common rules for the internal market in natural gas. The first one relates to the unbundling between the suppliers and the owners of infrastructure, while the second one relates to the granting of third party access to the transmission and distribution systems. This is a formality – the real cause to block South Stream from EU side is of course political confrontation due Ukraine.

Bulgaria and Russia have been discussing the possibility of reclassifying the Bulgarian section of the South Stream gas pipeline into a field pipe to exempt it from EU restrictions. Indeed “the field status” could solve all the problems on restrictions related to the EU third energy package.

In the case of the South Stream Russia’s Gazprom cannot be engaged in production, transportation, and sales of natural gas at the same time. But the pipes carrying gas from EU’s sea shelf fields have a special field status, which exempts them from the restrictions of the legislation.Under EU legislation, pipelines carrying gas from the sea shelf wells of EU countries, particularly Germany, France and Belgium, have a ‘field pipeline’ status that exempts them from the requirement for mandatory granting of access of third parties to the pipeline.Austria’s OMV, Gazprom’s partner in the Austrian section of South Stream, produces gas on the Bulgarian Black Sea shelf, and a pipeline built by OMV to carry gas from the shelf can be later included in the project by reassignment of rights. (Source and more at Novinite: Bulgaria, Russia Discuss Exempting South Stream from EU Restrictions )


The main loser of possible cancellation of South Stream project will be Bulgaria. The direct budget revenues that Bulgaria would have had from [gas] transit were at least €400 million a year. The share in the country’s €40 billion GDP to come from South Stream was expected to be 1.5 percent, according to Bulgarian Economic Ministry. Direct investment was supposed to be around €3 billion creating around 2,500 new jobs. The Northern parts of the country, through which the main pipeline route would be laid, were expected to have significantly improved social infrastructure and become more attractive to investment.

Besides Bulgaria also Serbia, Austria and Italy would have made big time revenue, and employed lots of people in need of jobs, by being links in the South Stream chain. Now they will have to pay the Turk Stream toll booth to secure their energy needs.

For Serbia it [South Stream] has been the cornerstone of our industrial strategy for the next 10 years so the situation is worrying us,” Vuk Jeremic, former foreign minister of Serbia, told New Europe on the sidelines of the Athens Forum 2014 on September 15. Right now the bets are off. But I’m hopeful that there will be progress in the future. But it would have to be part of a wider development of normalisation of relations between Russia and the West which currently does not seem to be in the making,” he said. Reminding that Gazprom is one of the biggest foreign investors in Serbia, Jeremic stressed that such a project would be of immense importance for his country’s economy so there are reasons for Belgrade to be worried.”

In addition with Turk Stream a reality, Ukraine has lost its strategic energy significance. The project operator South Stream Transport estimates that European companies will lose at least 2.5 billion euros because of the abandoned project. Japanese companies who were participating in the project will lose some 320 million euros – a Japanese consortium made up of Marubeni-Itochu and Sumitomo had received a pipe supply order worth that amount. (Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines )

If Gazprom decides to choose Turkey and Greece for the South Stream route, the pipeline project would largely resemble the TANAP-TAP project to bring Azeri gas to Italy through the territories of the same countries. The Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline (TANAP) is a proposed natural gas pipeline from Azerbaijan running through Turkey. The approximately 870 km long TAP pipeline connects with TANAP, and will cross Greece and Albania before reaching Italy through an offshore section. It is to be built by a consortium led by BP, Norway’s Statoil and Azerbaijan’s SOCAR. TAP is in an advanced stage of preparation and the start of its construction is planned in 2016.

Gazprom had spent 487.5 billion rubles ($9.4 billion) in the last three years on South Stream and upgrading the Russian pipelines that would have supplied it. Some of that work can be used for a separate link to Turkey. Supply contracts and intergovernmental agreements surrounding the project remain in force. The infrastructure built in preparation for South Stream will be used for “Turk Stream”.

“Turk Stream” instead?

Related to implementation of South Stream Russia agreed on 6th August 2009 with Turkey about energy cooperation with South Stream and also development of Blue Stream pipeline between Russia and Turkey under Black Sea so South Stream has secured also an alternative route. While EU started to create obstacles to project and in case Bulgaria continues to obstruct the construction of the South Stream pipeline this cooperation made base for Gazprom’s “Plan B”. Also on 24 May 2014 Russian President Vladimir Putin already hinted at another route for South Stream, during his meeting with leaders of world media.

Ankara would allow South Stream to reach Turkey under the Black Sea instead of Bulgaria, as originally planned. Russia would prefer not to opt for a plan B, but if the Commission doesn’t stop pressuring Bulgaria to freeze the construction of the pipeline, this alternative appears to be a viable option.

While announcing about South Stream hold off the Russian leader said he will add an extra branch to his existing Blue Stream gas pipeline to Turkey and build a new storage and trading “hub” on the Turkish-Greek border. The pipeline will have an annual capacity of 63 billion cubic meters. A total of 14 bcm will be delivered to Turkey, which is Gazprom’s second biggest customer in the region after Germany. The rest can be shipped through Turkey’s pipeline network to the Balkans.

On the left, the planned South Stream route, to the right, the Blue Stream pipeline to Turkey. Image from

On the left, the planned South Stream route, to the right, the Blue Stream pipeline to Turkey. Image from

Russia’s energy minister Aleksandr Novak said that the new project will include a specially-constructed hub on the Turkish-Greek border for customers in southern Europe. Novak later confirmed that Vladimir Putin personally ordered for the South Stream project to be mothballed, and its existing facilities to be repurposed for the new Turkish pipeline. (Source: RT )

The clear winner of new plans is Turkey – the in-between partner and energy hub – who will take gas from Iran and Russia to Europe. In addition Russia and Turkey also noted that plans for Russian firm Rosatom to build a $20 billion nuclear power plant in Turkey are proceeding full speed ahead.

The bottom line

South Stream exposed cracks in EU strategy as Hungary, Austria, Serbia and Bulgaria among others saw it as a solution to the risk of supply disruptions via Ukraine, which have occurred three times during the last decade. Brussels, on the other hand, saw it as entrenching Moscow’s energy stranglehold on Europe. It remains to see whether Russia’s decision was final or a political ploy – a tactical step – to gain more favorable terms.

From my point of view the original South Stream is the better alternative than “Turk Stream” as it is the direct option to EU/Europe and avoid a transit risk related to Ukraine or Turkey so in my opinion the best follow-up would be attempt to solve Russia-EU differences and run pipeline directly to Europe as initially planned.


Turkey, the country that bridges Europe with Asia is merely the latest expansion of Putin’s anti-dollar alliance as Turkey and Russia agree to use local currencies in trade. Wider perspective about this issue can be read from my article ¥uan and Waterloo of Petro$

Update 05/12/2014:

The South Stream pipeline crossing southeastern Europe could still be completed, despite the stated intention of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to abandon the project, according to Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission.  The comments by Mr. Juncker, at a news conference here on Thursday, indicated that the bloc was intent on keeping at least the idea of the South Stream project alive — despite the European Union’s sanctions against Russia over the crisis in Ukraine, and despite the Europeans’ longstanding skepticism about a pipeline that could extend the region’s heavy reliance on Russian energy.

“South Stream can be built,” Mr. Juncker said. But, he added, “the ball is in the court of Russia.” Mr. Juncker’s comments — as surprising in some respects as Mr. Putin’s sudden decision to reroute the pipeline — were the latest twist in a project that has became a geopolitical tug of war between Brussels and Moscow. (Source: NYT )

pipelines From Russia to EU

Video – Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine meeting in London

November 19, 2014

London meeting hears eyewitness account of Odessa massacre.

Click picture down to see video.

Some background also in my earlier article
Seeking For The Ukrainian Left