Monthly Archives: March 2014

Посол Украины в Великобритании: В 1954 году Украина спасла Крым, экономика которого была уничтожена войной

Посол Украины в Великобритании: В 1954 году Украина спасла Крым, экономика которого была уничтожена войной

Посол Украины в Великобритании заявляет, что некоторые люди до сих пор верят в миф о Крыме, как «подароке», который сделал Никита Хрущев Киеву в 1954 году. На самом деле, Украина по просьбе Кремля спасла Крым, экономика которого была уничтожена войной, а коренное население депортированы Сталиным.

Об этом говорится в комментарии Владимира Хандогия, обнародованном в газете Times, сообщили УНИАН в Посольстве Украины в Великобритании.

По словам дипломата, такая просьба Кремля была обусловлена чисто экономическими проблемами.

«В конце 1953 года в Крыму было только три хлебных магазины, 18 мясных, восемь молочных и только две лавки, где продавали текстиль. Даже сейчас Крымский полуостров, как и ранее, в значительной степени субсидируется Украиной. С континентальной Украины поступает 85 процентов пресной воды, 80 процентов электроэнергии, и 65 процентов газа для нужд населения и предприятий полуострова. Около 70 процентов туристов, посещающих Крым – украинцы», – отметил посол.

Хандогий подчеркнул, что с юридической точки зрения передача Крыма и Севастополя в составе Советского Союза была выполнена безупречно в традициях советского партийного руководства.

«Не существует ни одного документального подтверждения того, что Никита Хрущев играл важную личную роль в этом процессе. «Крымский вопрос» прошла все необходимые этапы и было единогласно одобрено Указом Президиума Верховного Совета СССР от 19 февраля 1954 года. Передача Крыма и Севастополя Украине окончательно была закреплена в соответствующем Законе от 24 апреля 1954 года верховный Совет Советского Союза – единственным органом, уполномоченным принимать такие решения», – говорится в письме посла в редакции газеты.

Как сообщал УНИАН, 18 мартапрезидент России Владимир Путин заявил, что когда после развала СССР Крым оказался в Украине, в РФ поняли, что ее ограбили. Об этом Путин сказал в ходе обращения к Федеральному собранию относительно незаконного присоединения Крыма к РФ.

По словам Путина, первый секретарь ЦК КПСС Никита Хрущев передал Украине Крым с «нарушениями действующих даже тогда конституционных норм».

«После революции большевики из разных соображений, пусть Бог им будет судья, включили в состав Украинской союзной республики значительные территории исторического юга России. Это было сделано без учета национального состава жителей, и сегодня это современный юго-восток Украины. А в 1954 году вышло решение о передаче в ее состав Крымской области, заодно передали и Севастополь, хотя он был тогда союзного подчинения. Инициатором был лично председатель Коммунистической партии Советского Союза Хрущев. Что им двигало – стремление заручиться поддержкой украинской номенклатуры или загладить свою вину за организацию массовых репрессий в Украине в 30-е годы – пусть с этим разбираются историки», – сказал Путин.

«Для нас важно другое: это решение было принято с очевидными нарушениями действующих даже тогда конституционных норм. Вопрос кулуарно решили, междусобойчиком…», – сказал Путин.

Disinformation: Ukraine will soon be the playground for all of Europe’s Nazis.

Disinformation: Ukraine will soon be the playground for all of Europe’s Nazis.

Fact 1: The Euro-Asian Jewish Congress recently reported on their websites on funeral proceedings for “the Jewish division” of the heavenly hundred (Maidan self-defense forces) noting that Ukrainians Joseph Shiling (Lviv), Alexander Scherbanyuk (Chernivtsi), and Yevgeniy Kotlyar (Kharkiv) were all killed by sniper fire on the Maidan. The EAJC notes that at Sherbanyuk was buried with a Rabbi’s prayer and wearing veshevanka (a traditional Ukrainian shirt) and a military band. Comrades from Pravy Sektor and local police, among the thousands to come to his burial, fired a gun salute in his honor.

Fact 2: Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, a chief Rabbi of Ukraine and Vice President of the World Jewish Congress, accused Russia of staging anti-Semitic provocations in Crimea, comparing Russia’s behavior to that of the Nazi’s prior to the Anschluss invasion of Austria in 1938. Bleich has also stated that he has received assurances from top government leaders that their safety will be protected.

Дезинформация: Украина станет полигоном для нацистов всей Европы

Дезинформация: Украина станет полигоном для нацистов всей Европы.

Факт 1: Евро-Азиатский Еврейский Конгресс (ЕАЕК) сообщил на своем сайте о похоронных приготовлениях для «еврейской части» небесной сотни (силы самообороны Майдана), отмечая, что украинцы Йозеф Шилинг (Львов), Александр Щербанюк (Черновцы) и Евгений Котляр (Харьков) погибли от пуль снайперов на Майдане. ЕАЕК отмечает, что Щербанюк был похоронен с молитвой раввина, был одет в вышиванку (традиционная Украинская рубашка) и под звуки военного оркестра. Среди тысяч пришедших на прощание были товарищи из «Правого сектора» и местной милиции, которые дали армейский салют в его честь.

Факты 2: Раввин Яков Дов Блайх, главный раввин Украины и вице-президент Всемирного Еврейского Конгресса, обвинил Россию в организации анти-семитских провокаций в Крыму, сравнив действия России с нацистами перед аншлюсом Австрии в 1938 году. Блайх также заявил, что он получил гарантии от высоких официальных лиц, что их безопасность будет гарантирована.

Дезінформація: Україна скоро буде майданчиком всіх нацистів Європи.

Дезінформація: Україна скоро буде майданчиком всіх нацистів Європи.

Факт 1: Євро – Азійський Єврейський Конгрес нещодавно повідомив на своїх сайтах про поховання «єврейського підрозділу” небесної сотні (сили Самооборони Майдану), зазначивши, що українці Йосип Шилінг (Львів), Олександр Щербанюк (Чернівці) та Євген Котляр (Харків) були вбиті від кулі снайпера на Майдані. ЄАЄК зазначає, що Щербанюк був похований у вишиванці (традиційна українська сорочка) під звуки військового оркестру і участю равина. Колеги з Правого Сектора та місцевої поліції, які, як і тисячі людей прийшли на поховання, зробили військовий салют на його честь.

Факт 2: Яків Дов Блайх, головний равин України і віце-президент Всесвітнього єврейського конгресу, звинуватив Росію у постановці антисемітських провокацій в Криму, порівнюючи поведінку Росії з поведінкою нацистів перед вторгненням і аншлюсом Австрії у 1938 році. Блайх також заявив, що він отримав запевнення від вищих керівників держави щодо їхньої безпеки і захисту.

Today, Sunday, I went to Maidan.

Today, Sunday, I went to Maidan. Several hundred thousand Kyiv residents went there also. We came together to commiserate; to pay our respects to those who died last week as Kyiv rid itself of a tyrant; to deal with our shock at having our country attacked by another. As I sit here writing these words my eyes fill with tears If the Kremlin has its way, half of the people I stood with today will be dead soon.

I am not an expert on geopolitics, and so feel distinctly uncomfortable providing academic commentary on the current situation. When the Ukrainian revolution was a local affair, I felt confident in my analysis, and indeed in my predictions as to the course of events. As a sociologist, I understand (and feel) the social mood of Ukrainians both the countrys leaders and its citizens. But in todays circumstances, the course of events no longer depends on the Ukrainian people or its leaders now we are pawns in a global game. Under the circumstances, seeing the forest for the trees is increasingly difficult because the forest (context) seems to have gotten much bigger.

From what Ive been able to gather from watching the mainstream western news reports (CNN, BBC, Euronews), there seems to be a very serious disconnect between the western worlds understanding of the Putin context and the understanding of the mind of the Russian President prevalent on the streets of Kyiv. As far as I can tell, most western analysis of the motivations behind Putins military excursion into the Crimea (and his massive buildup of personnel and equipment on Ukraines eastern border) can be classified into two camps:

1) Putin is a real-politik imperialist who is trying to recreate the Soviet Union (commentators who subscribe to this theory like to repeat the Russian Presidents 2012 statement that the collapse of the USSR was the greatest calamity of the 20th century). Putins planned Eurasian Union, that was to include Ukraine until Yanukovychs ouster, was to be Russias primary tool for reinstutionalizing itself as a global power the centerpiece of a political-economic space stretching from the Baltic and Black Seas to the Pacific. In this context, the Kremlins current military intervention in Crimea is seen to be a logical (although extreme) continuation of the policy of strong-arming Ukraine away from the EU i.e. as a declaration (to the West) of Russias sphere of influence.

2) Putin is a Russian nationalist (some would say fascist) who is genuinely concerned about the fate of Russian-speakers and ethnic Russians living in former-Soviet countries on the borders of the Russian Federation. Of course this theory does not contradict the previous one, according to which the Kremlins actions are seen as a desire to recreate the USSRs grandeur. However, whereas the global power approach means that the West may be able to negotiate with Putin (i.e. to accept that Ukraine in whole or in part – falls into a Russian sphere of influence), the Russian nationalist approach posits Putin as a reincarnated Hitler with whom the West should (probably) not be negotiating at all.

Listening to the rhetoric emanating from Moscow, there is certainly ample evidence in support for the Putin-as-nationalist explanation for Russias invasion of Crimea. The fact that there was/is no credible threat to the Russian language in Crimea, or more broadly, to the wellbeing of ethnic Russians in Ukraine is clearly irrelevant to the Kremlin: ethnic nationalism is always based on imagined constructs that rarely reflect reality. Mr. Hitler skillfully used such imaginary constructs to justify the annexation first of Austria and then of Silesia (Sudetenland) prior to the start of WWII.

The key twist in logic used by Russia to seemingly generate a legal justification for its actions in the near-abroad involves conflation of citizenship with ethnicity. For example, last night, when the chairwoman of Russias Federation Council, Valentyna Matvienko, announced the bodys approval of President Putins request for permission to deploy Russian troops on the territory of Ukraine until the socio-political situation is stabilized, she referenced numerous cases in the past when only a single American or Israeli citizen was threatened, and this resulted in the entire machine of these states being mobilized. In her words, in this case we have a situation with 60% of Crimeans being Russians (Russkiye)! Of course we are obligated to protect them.

The need to protect ethnic Russians argument is repeated by the Russian political elite with impunity. According to the Kremlins website, the phrase to protect Russian citizens and compatriots was used by Putin in last nights telephone conversations with both Presidents Hollande and Obama as the primary and sufficient reason for sending Russian forces to Crimea. I have no idea whether western leaders are accepting this ethnic nationalist argument as a legitimate justification for invasion, but certainly the mainstream international press seems to see it as a convenient aspect of the story that is worth repeating: according to some reports, one gets the impression that Crimeans are welcoming Russian troops (much like some Austrians welcomed the Wehrmacht in 1938?).

However, Crimea is far from being a mono-ethnic territory, and this fact seems to be poorly understood by the western media. Approximately 250 000 residents of the autonomous republic are Crimean Tatars a people that was deported from the Crimea by Stalin after WWII, and only allowed to return after Ukraines independence in 1991. One of the leaders of this ethnic group spoke at the demonstration on Independence Square in Kyiv today, and his message to President Putin was absolutely clear: if a single drop of Muslim Tatar blood is spilt in Crimea, Red Square in Moscow will become true to its name. By starting a war in Crimea, Mr. Putin, you are starting a war against all Muslims in your own country. It will be your end. Crimean Tatars are not fundamentalists, but the Islamic faith promotes significant solidarity among its believers a factor that makes Mr. Putins gamble particularly dangerous. The Kremlins ethnic nationalist argument for intrusion into a sovereign country could just as easily be turned against the Russians, and used to legitimize urban terrorism by Muslims in Moscow.

The risks of Putin’s operation are unbelievably high, and it is nave to believe that the Kremlin is unaware of these risks. It is for this reason that I am skeptical of the veracity of the protect ethnic Russians argument for invasion. Furthermore, if Putins real motivation were political-economic expansion (as the Russia defending its sphere of influence paradigm would have us believe), risking international isolation immediately after the Sochi Olympics would likely have been enough to dissuade any hawks within the Kremlin from resorting to overt military action on the sovereign territory of Russias southeastern neighbor. I would argue that the real motivations for Putins actions in Ukraine are much more superficial, less strategic, and far less etatist. In other words, this fight is about Putin personally staying in power. The Russian President needs to remove a very direct perceived threat to his authoritarian rule of Russia, and he needs to do this graphically, publicly, and quickly.

Since the 2004 Orange Revolution, according to advisors who were once close to Putin (e.g. Andrey Ilarionov), the Russian President has been fixated on the very real threat of a domino effect of revolutions in post-Soviet states particularly in Ukraine. After the very public ousting of Yanukovych from power in Kyiv last week, a very real threat to the inviolability of authoritarian rule in the entire Soviet region has appeared. Throughout the events of Ukraines revolution in Kyiv, the Russian media was fixated on discrediting the Maidan, but Russian intellectuals became increasingly vocal in their support. Immediately after the fall of Yanukovych, friends of mine from Russian intelligentsia circles in St. Petersburg and Moscow began asking “if the “Khakhly (derogatory term for Ukrainians) could do it, why can’t we?” The risk of a domino effect has become very real, and eminently threatening to Putin.

The world’s eyes are on Ukraine – and with good reason. If the Russian invasion of this country is not stopped, we will have a blood bath in the center of Europe in the “greatest” traditions of this continent (WWI, WWII…). Indeed, a blood bath seems to be exactly what the Kremilin wants/needs in order to discredit the Ukrainian revolution in the eyes of the Russian public. That is what really frightens many Ukrainians tonight.

Yesterday, the Russian consulate in Simferopol publicly presented 9 Berkut soldiers from the unit that was most active on the streets of Kyiv during the violent days of Ukraines revolution, with Russian passports. Officially they are now not only compatriots, but citizens of the Russian Federation, and apparently they are in desperate need of the Kremlins protection.

A photo from the recent pro-Russian demonstration in Kharkiv is instructive for understanding what is really going on in the east of Ukraine i.e. the extent to which the supposedly grass roots pro-Russian demonstrations outside of Crimea are actually orchestrated by Russia. Much has been made of the fact that yesterday, protesters in Ukraines second largest city, who denounced the nascent post-revolutionary government in Kyiv as illegitimate, apparently raised the Russian flag on the Kharkiv oblast administration building. As was revealed later by Ukrayinska Pravda journalists monitoring social media, the flag was in fact raised by Mika Ronkainen a resident of Moscow who came to Kharkiv to visit the city and support the fight against the Banderites.

In an apparently brilliant move aimed at diffusing any rising regional separatist tendencies that may have gained local support in the eastern regions of Ukraine, the newly formed Kyiv government today announced the appointment of local oligarchs to key executive positions in these regions. In Dnipropetrovsk, Ihor Kolomoysky, the co-owner of the Pryvat business group (which includes Ukraines largest bank) was appointed head of the oblast administration. Incidentally, Kolomoysky is the President of the All Ukrainian Union of Jewish Public Organizations (a fact that refutes the Kremlins claim that the revolutionaries in Kyiv are anti-Semitic nationalists), and one of Ukraines richest oligarchs. Under peaceful circumstances, appointing one of Ukraines top oligarchs to the governorship of the countrys second most economically important region would have been controversial, but at a time when the ability to mobilize local resources is key, such an appointment is commendable. In Donetsk oblast, the regional administrator is now Serhiy Taruta, owner of the Industrial Union of Donbas, whose net worth according to Forbes.ua is just under $600 million. As with Kolomoysky, Taruta could, in case of Russian intrusion, easily raise a local paramilitary army using his own private resources. And next to Rinat Akhmetov (Ukraines richest oligarch, former supporter of Yanukovych, and now on record as supporting the territorial integrity of Ukraine), Taruta is probably the most respected member of the Donetsk local elite.

The nascent post-revolutionary government in Kyiv seems to understand the real motivations behind the Kremlins military escapades in Ukraine. Its response to Russia’s invasion of its sovereign territory has been quietly strategic and surprisingly muted with respect to the prospect of an armed response. Although it may be argued that key Ministers (e.g. Defense and Interior) may have been caught off guard by Putin’s sudden actions, it would seem that Kyiv restraint has been well coordinated and deliberate. Although mobilization of reservists has been ordered, and Russias invasion has been publicly condemned at all levels, Prime Minister Yatseniuk and Acting President Turchynov were both careful today to state that Ukraine is on the verge of war rather than actually at war. This may be interpreted as reflecting a sober evaluation of Ukraines military capability (clearly insufficient in an open war against Russia), but more likely, it reflects a desire to avoid any uncontrolled escalation that might result if Russian troops were to be visibly provoked by their Ukrainian hosts.

Provocation seems to be in Putins interests: if Ukraine descends into a form of anarchy (or at least if images of mass violence and chaos can be transmitted from Ukraines regions to Russian television viewers), the Kremlin could credibly argue to its own people that revolutions bring no good.

But Ukrainians seem to have answered Putins aggression with something he clearly did not expect: peaceful protest! After 3 months of very real social activism, and commendable individual initiative, sacrifice and conscientious citizenship, today Ukrainians are feeling helpless and lost. Their collective achievement overthrowing Yanukovych, and driving out his closest henchmen is now in danger of being negated by an aggressive Putin. Amazingly, even in this context, they are not vengeful! Todays Maidan spoke Ukrainian and Russian interchangeably. Ironically Ukrainian Presidential candidate Klitschko spoke Russian, and former Georgian President Saakashvili spoke Ukrainian. The running joke from the stage seemed to be: Look at all of us extremist fascists! All 200 thousand of us! And to the credit of those on stage, even though the crowd gathered on Independence Square today was clearly angry at the Kremlin, they heard no specific call to arms, and speaker after speaker stressed that it is Putin who is the enemy, not the Russian people. Ukraines leaders seem to be desperately trying to avoid the trap of violent reaction, and this restraint is not just commendable, it is amazing!

The remarkable extent of Ukrainians restraint under extreme duress needs to be recognized (and rewarded) by Ukraines friends in the West. Eventually, it will be the US and its NATO allies who will be called upon to negotiate a resolution to the current crisis in Ukraine. If they approach these negotiations believing that Russia should be guaranteed a particular sphere of influence, they will have betrayed the Ukrainian people. If they approach the negotiations believing that Putin truly wants to protect the interests of Russians in the near-abroad, they will have been duped by Kremlin propaganda. If, however, they recognize that Putins time in office is limited, and that he simply needs to be controlled so that the scourge of democratic revolution can spread from Kyiv to Moscow and St. Petersburg, they will have saved many thousands of Ukrainian lives, and simultaneously contributed to the belated transformation of Russia into a country whose people enjoy the same freedoms as are cherished throughout the western world.

The risks in this game are extremely high. On the one hand, if the West allows Putin to violate the territorial integrity of Ukraine with impunity, the international community risks its credibility with respect to such problematic states as Iran and North Korea. In the early 1990’s Ukraine voluntarily gave up its nuclear arsenal (the world’s third largest at the time) in exchange for security guarantees from Russia, the US and the UK. These were fixed in the so-called Budapest Memorandum in 1994, and then re-confirmed by the US in 2008. Now, one of the supposed “guarantors” of Ukraine’s territorial integrity has itself violated this country’s borders with its own military! What sort of precedent does this create for nascent nuclear powers that are being encouraged to follow Ukraines footsteps? Iran and North Korea (and others) will now correctly (!) argue that any international agreements that they may be encouraged to sign are, in fact, worthless: if they give up their nuclear arsenals, they will be putting themselves at increased risk of attack in the future.

The risks for Putin are even higher. If he does nothing to discredit Ukraine, he risks a copy-cat revolution at home. If he invades Crimea (as he has), and stays for too long, he risks political isolation (e.g. exclusion from the G8) and economic sanctions. If he invades beyond Crimea, into areas where ethnic Ukrainians constitute the majority of the population (i.e. any region of Ukraine except Crimea), he risks both stronger responses from the West, and an insurgency in Ukraine that could potentially spread beyond Ukraines borders back into Russia, from where its root cause clearly originates.

Unfortunately I am convinced that Putin is now a rat that has backed himself into a corner. He has no choice but to destabilize the post-revolutionary Kyiv government. If he doesnt, he risks suffering the same fate as Yanukovych. During the coming days and weeks Putin will try to destabilize Ukraines eastern regions with hired thugs and paramilitaries. And he may yet impose his will on these regions with a formal invasion. At the very least, the restraint of Ukrainians will be tested. I fear that the Heavens Hundred, whose memory is honored in Kyivs city center, will be joined soon by many more.

God help us!

Mychailo Wynnyckyj PhD
Kyiv-Mohyla Academy

On the second front of this war – information war

On the second front of this war –
There are ample indications that the Kremlin is winning this information war. While international media coverage of Ukraine’s Euromaidan protests initially focused on protester demands for European integration, as the protests took on a more militant tone the role of nationalist groups began to receive greater prominence in the international media.

Nazi Ukraine? Time to STOP Drinking the Kremlin Kool-Aid…

By Peter Dickinson
March 1, 2014 Business Ukraine magazine
Source: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10151915737385764&id=318925220763

Ever since anti-government protests first broke out in Ukraine late last year, the Kremlin has adopted a policy of labeling all Ukrainian protesters as fascists. These fascism claims are now being used to justify the military invasion and occupation of Ukraine. What began as a fairly run-of-the-mill Kremlin slur has now taken on the gravest possible historical importance as a justification for war.
In parallel to the military invasion of Crimea, an information war is currently being fought to discourage the international community from going to the aid of Ukraine by portraying events in Kyiv as a fascist coup. The objective is turn Western public opinion against intervention and allow Putin free reign to punish Ukraine for the country’s latest escape attempt.

There are ample indications that the Kremlin is winning this information war. While international media coverage of Ukraine’s Euromaidan protests initially focused on protester demands for European integration, as the protests took on a more militant tone the role of nationalist groups began to receive greater prominence in the international media. This ‘fascist Ukraine’ narrative has led to a heated debate over the morality of supporting Ukraine’s revolution. While the whole world – more or less – cheered Ukraine’s peaceful 2004 Orange Revolution, on this occasion the presence of nationalist paramilitaries in the front ranks of the protests has led to a considerably more circumspect international response and much outright opposition. The Kremlin has skillfully fanned these flames, repeatedly calling on Western governments to denounce the Ukrainian protesters as fascists, Nazis and extremists.

There can be no question that nationalist groups have played a prominent role in Ukraine’s Euromaidan revolution, but there remains much misunderstanding over both the nature and importance of these groups. First and foremost, it is crucial to grasp what nationalism means in the Ukrainian context, and how this differs from traditional Western perceptions. In almost all Western societies, our understanding of nationalism has become intrinsically linked to notions of racism, to the extent that the two are often regarded as virtually indistinguishable. This race-based definition of nationalism is simply not relevant to Ukraine, where the non-white ethnic minority population is negligible. Nevertheless, international attitudes towards Ukraine’s revolution have undeniably been colored by inaccurate associations with what is probably the most widely disliked and discredited political philosophy in modern Western society.

Nationalism in Ukraine is actually rooted in a narrative of national struggle through the centuries. The Ukrainian nationalist mythology is one of oppression and defiance, not superiority and hate. In their own terms, most Ukrainian nationalists tend to see themselves as much closer to the freedom fighters of a liberation movement than to the racial warriors of traditional Western nationalism. Certainly many can be found who hold and espouse racist opinions, but this is a regrettable feature in many non-Western societies. The simple fact remains that in political terms, race is a non-issue for Ukrainian nationalists. This matters because nationalism has become a dirty word in Western society, partly due to its overt associations with racism. Applying this thinking to the contemporary Ukrainian context inevitably leads to distortions which hamper understanding of the political forces at work in the country.

How much influence have these nationalist groups actually had on events in Ukraine? Nationalist shock troops have formed the core of Euromaidan resistance ever since the first Berkut riot police attack of 30 November. They have been in the front lines during every clash, and as the conflict escalated, have become increasingly run along paramilitary lines. However, organized nationalist groups were never the only ones doing the fighting. In fact, a great many of those who volunteered for people’s defense units or joined the fray in other ways were not aligned to any nationalist group. It is impossible to know the individual motivation of each protester, but the goal which I personally heard voiced most often was the simple wish ‘to live in a normal country, with human rights, laws and justice’.

Whatever their individual motivations, the hardcore of fighters was always a tiny minority compared to the numbers who took part in regular rallies in Kyiv and beyond. At its peak, the number of battle-ready youths on Maidan probably never topped 5,000. In contrast, the largest protest rally crowd has been estimated at well over half a million. Hundreds of thousands flooded onto Independence Square on numerous occasions, despite temperatures well below freezing. Every day, hundreds of volunteers manned protest camp kitchens, medical points and occupied state buildings. Few had any political affiliations, nationalist or otherwise. Then there were the AutoMaidan activists who took the protest movement to the roads of Ukraine’s cities, and the Euromaidan protesters in cities across the country. Those who protested in the regime heartlands of East and South Ukraine took enormous risks were subjected to attacks and intimidation, but they still refused to be cowed. Are we to believe that these millions of ordinary Ukrainians were all pawns in a fascist coup?

One of the cornerstones of the fascist coup narrative is the allegation of a surge in anti-Semitism as a result of the protests. However, these claims fail to stand up to close scrutiny. Reports in the international press of rising anti-Semitism have largely been dismissed by local Jewish groups as deliberate misinformation, while a small number of suspected anti-Semitic incidents have since been labeled as likely Russian provocations. As if to underline the point, anti-Semitic graffiti was conveniently discovered on a Simferopol Synagogue as Russian troops invaded Crimea. In reality, numerous Ukrainian Jewish groups have appeared – and been warmly welcomed – on the Euromaidan stage to demonstrate their solidarity and support for the protests. Thousands ofUkrainian Jews have also participated individually in the protests, attending rallies, volunteering to help out at protest camps and posting online to debunk the Kremlin’s anti-Semitic slurs. A former Israeli army officer even led a battalion of fighters on Maidan – some of them fellow Jews – and has since proudly recounted his experience to the Israeli media. Members of Ukraine’s Jewish community were also among those killed in the government crackdown. Needless to say, none of these Jewish Euromaidan participants believes that a fascist coup is underway in Ukraine.

While the evidence of widespread Jewish support for Ukraine’s revolution should be enough in itself to discredit the Kremlin’s ‘fascist coup’ narrative, the last word in the debate should probably go to the residents of Kyiv. After all, they have been the eye-witnesses to the unfolding drama and should know better than anyone what has really been going on in the Ukrainian capital.

Kyiv residents backed Euromaidan from the very outset, and this support was only galvanized by repeated police crackdowns and escalations. It is no exaggeration to say that without this resounding support, the protests would simply not have been possible. Kyivites provided the food, fuel, clothing and medicines to sustain a vast army of protesters spread out across numerous buildings and encampments. They volunteered in their thousands, and also offered up their homes to allow the constant stream of protesters arriving in the capital a place to take a hot shower and some warmth. Support in the Ukrainian capital reached a crescendo on 20 February when thousands of ordinary Kyivites responded to news of the massacre on Maidan by flocking to the square with whatever food and medical supplies they could muster. It was a staggering display of bravery and defiance which was very much in keeping with the manner in which local residents had supported the protest movement. Is Kyiv a fascist stronghold? Of course not. Today’s Kyiv is a Russian-speaking city with a population of close to four million drawn from every corner of the country. It is Ukraine’s most diverse city. The fact that it is also a resoundingly pro-European, pro-democracy city speaks volumes for the poverty of the nationalist/fascist narrative.

Events in Ukraine raise a wide range of legitimate concerns – not least over the use of violence against state security forces and the questionable constitutional legitimacy of the new government. However, the charge of fascism simply does not tally with the first-hand experiences of those who took part in the protests. It is a deliberate distortion of events which serves Russian interests by playing on understandable Western sensitivity to the horrors of WWII-era fascism, while grossly exaggerating the importance of extremist elements within a multi-million strong mass protest movement. Russia urgently needs to be told that the international community does not accept its fascist coup narrative and regards its invasion of Ukraine as a clear act of military aggression. With the existence of a sovereign European country now under direct threat, the time has come to stop drinking the Kremlin Kool-Aid.

Russia’s Internet monitoring agency has blocked 13 Internet pages linked to the Ukraine protest movement

Russia’s Internet monitoring agency has blocked 13 Internet pages linked to the Ukraine protest movement that helped oust the country’s Russia-leaning president last week.

Roskomnadzor said in a statement published online Monday that it had been ordered by the general prosecutor’s office to shut down the pages on Russia’s leading social media website, VKontakte. The agency said the groups “propagandized the activity of Ukrainian nationalist groups,” and accused them of encouraging “terrorist activity” and “participation in unsanctioned mass actions.”

The largest pro-demonstration group, which has more than 500,000 members, was not accessible to users on Russian territory on Monday.

While much of Russian media is state-controlled, the Internet has so far remained largely free from censorship and has provided an active forum for anti-government criticism.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/03/russia-ukraine-protests-websites-internet-104171.html#ixzz2uwCOECtR