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Streetwise Professor

January 19, 2014

Taking it to the Streets: Battling Putin’s Puppet

Filed under: History,Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 8:46 pm

After a quiescent period over the holidays, Ukraine-or more specifically, Kiev-erupted into protest today.  The provocation for the renewed protests was the hurried passage of a set of laws to to crack down on the opposition.  Blockading public buildings, wearing helmets, driving in a line of cars more than five vehicles wide, or engaging in “extremist” activity are now banned.  No setting up tents or sound stages without permission. NGOs that receive any funding from abroad must register as “foreign agents.”  (Sound familiar?)   All this was stitched together in a highly irregular procedure organized by Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.

Today’s protests–mainly not in Maidan, but near government buildings some blocks away–resulted in clashes between the Berkut (Ukraine’s interior ministry forces) and the protesters.  Klitschko tried to cool things down, and blamed the clashes on provocateurs. As day dragged into night, a stalemate developed.  The protestors created a barricade of buses and security force vehicles.  The protestors were on one side, the police sheltering on the other.  The protestors lobbed rocks at the police.  (If you look at the live stream now, 20:05 CST, you’ll see the ground littered with stones.)  The police fired back with gas and flash grenades.  Whenever the protestors would approach the buses in large numbers, the security forces would unleash a barrage of grenades and drive back the protestors.  Things see-sawed back and forth for hours.  Eventually the protestors set several vehicles alight with Molotov cocktails.  After some feeble attempts by the police to douse the flames with hoses, eventually a water cannon vehicle was deployed to put out the fire.  The battle ebbed with the flames.  The police withdrew, and the protestors thinned out, with just a few now milling around.

Yanukovych’s move was at the very least inspired by Putin, and plausibly ordered by him.  All of the laws passed are quite similar to those that Putin has put in place in Russia.

Although today’s conflict could have escalated, the security forces did not press the issue.  They did not mount an assault, but contented themselves with lobbing grenades and crouching under their shields close to the bus barricade.

Yanukovych’s middle choice is not sustainable.  It was sufficiently violent to outrage and galvanize the opposition, and will reinvigorate it.  But it was not violent enough to crush it.  Something will have to give.

Ukraine is a divided country.  The eastern part would be quite content if the government cracked now helmet-less heads.  The western part would likely respond by going into outright revolt. Forced to rely on his eastern, ethnic Russian base, and pushed by Putin, on balance it would seem that Yanukovych will escalate the crackdown.  There seemed to be hesitancy today, but perhaps that reflects surprise at the intensity of the protest.  The element of surprise is now gone.  The government is now on notice.   Putin will demand results. The die has been cast.

For better or for worse, this will be decided in the streets.

I wonder how the Olympics will play into this.  The events in Kiev put Putin in something of a dilemma.  He doesn’t want events in Kiev, with which he and Russian are unmistakably implicated, to spin out of control while during the Olympics on which he has staked so much.  But he doesn’t want the the opposition to grow, and become emboldened by government hesitancy, and live on into the spring when better weather can only increase its numbers.

In other words, Putin and his puppet are in something of a delicate situation.   Given this  delicacy, and the fact that things can develop spontaneously due to the actions of individuals in the streets-protestors, provocateurs, or militiamen-it is hard to predict what will happen.  My guess is that sooner or later it will come to a violent climax.

Aside: Watching the live streams, I wondered what similar coverage would have looked like in St. Petersburg in 1905 or Petrograd in 1917.

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15 Comments »

  1. Re: 1905, lotsa dead bodies.

    Re:October1917, pretty much a non-event. Kerensky was so universally recognized as useless that he fell without a sound, and no one lifted a finger to help him.

    He should have made peace in March 1917.

    Comment by PailiP — January 20, 2014 @ 9:19 am

  2. SWP, you have made a mistake made by many others.

    It is not “east v west” in Ukraine. Even in Eastern Ukraine, events have shown that people are fed up with yanusvoloch and his thugocracy, his sovok mafia state.

    Yanusvoloch lives in an armed fortress mansion of about 400 acres which he stole from the country.

    He walled the mansion, and installed armaments a while back.

    In his mansion estate, which is outrageously lavish, he has a gold toilet.

    This is about the protection of that gold toilet, and the sovok mafia state, versus people who have been literally brutalized for years by the sovok mafiosi, which includes oligarchs, who have lavish mansions in London.

    An intrepid female invesigative journalist, Tetyana Chornovil, was recently rammed by a Porche Cayenne and another expensive SUV, hauled out of her car, and severely beaten. Who does that? She had been reporting on yanusvoloch’s boundless corruption.

    Just yesterday, 2 prominent activists were kidnapped – right out of a hospital! One of them has now been found after a brutal ordeal in a forest. The other is yet to be found.

    http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/activist-lutsenko-alive-describes-kidnapping-other-activist-still-missing-335362.html

    The selective attacks by government hired thugs continues.

    The army has now been called out from various regions of the country, which is the size of Texas.

    But they are being blocked by the people, and are reluctant to proceed against their own people.

    It is not east v west.

    It is the people versus a brutal sovok mafia thug regime.

    http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/blog/alexander-j-motyl/standoff-ukraine-mafia-regime-vs-mobilized-citizens

    PS The water cannons?

    They were bought for Euro 2012, the soccer tournament hosted by Ukraine and Poland. In typical corrupt fashion, they were inferior and overpriced.

    They didn’t work very well.

    Comment by elmer — January 21, 2014 @ 10:16 pm

  3. Berkut (“golden eagles”) are special forces, not interior ministry forces.

    Yanukonvikt the thug has been trying to build them up for his own protection. They number about 3,000.

    One of the people who was just killed at EuroMaidan was actually from Eastern Ukraine – Dnipropetrovsk.

    The US has now canceled visas of several officials involved in the brutal and violent suppression of the EuroMaidan protests.

    The sovok mafia thug Bolshevik Regionnaires invent all sorts of rationalizations for their sovok mafia thug state, including that they are “just like Austria, just like Spain, just like England,” and that their sovok mafia regime and the laws that they have passed are “just like European laws.”

    http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/us-revokes-visas-of-ukrainian-officials-more-sanctions-expected-from-west-335377.html

    “Meanwhile, Western diplomats expressed their indignation at being called to a meeting of top Ukrainian officials this morning as the police assault was taking place.

    Officials present said that the Ukrainian officials, including Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara and Justice Minister Olena Lukash, tried to persuade them that draconian anti-free speech and anti-demonstration laws that went into effect today are in line with democratic standards.

    One of the diplomats said that they presented an hour-long lecture with illustrations from European law where similar legislation exists, according to Ukraine’s officials. Diplomats were not given any opportunity to respond.

    “We sat there for more than 1 hour, and then Kozhara said they had to close the meeting, and go to a Cabinet meeting,” one diplomat says.

    Several ambassadors stood up and attempted to respond and express their indignation, saying that having no chance to respond “was unacceptable.”

    The diplomat said the Ukrainian interpretation of the laws was “completely non-credible.”

    But there is no legal system in Ukraine. Even if there is lack of any evidence that a person was present at protests, they nevertheless get convicted and sentenced, in some cases, up to 15 years.

    People have been getting SMS messsages on their cell phones:

    “you have been identified as taking part in mass protests”

    Ви замічені в участі в масових акціях

    This is per emails from Ukraine and news stories in Ukraine.

    the sovok mafia claim that a gathering of more than 5 persons is illegal.

    The sovok mafia regime and the cell phone providers, such as Kyivstar, claim that they know nothing about it.

    All to protect the golden toilet of Kim Il Yanukonvikt and a sovok mafia thug regime.

    Comment by elmer — January 22, 2014 @ 10:04 am

  4. @elmer-no doubt many in E. Ukraine are disgusted with Yanukovich and the rest of the family and Sovok hangers-on. But polling information does suggest a considerable divide in opinion, with large numbers in the east supporting the government, including considerable support for cracking down on the protestors.

    This article paints a somewhat more complex picture than I did, but it is similar in the essentials. I agree that a civil war is a real possibility, especially now several have been killed, including activist Yuriy Verbytskiy, who was found in the woods, shot through the head-both the location and nature of the execution of course very Soviet.

    Your take on the article would be of interest.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 22, 2014 @ 2:04 pm

  5. from Ukraine

    Looks like Berkut may attempt to storm the maidan sometime this evening. Tanks, armoured personel carriers and water cannon have been spotted moving into the downtown area. After a day of back and forth clashes on Hrushevsky street it was just announced that businesses, govt offices and Derzh Radio on Khreshchatyk have received instructions from the police to shut down by 4 pm and send their staff home.

    Meanwhile the maidan has announced a general mobilization and has called for all of Kyiv to come help defend the square. A similar mobilization calling for people around the country to come to Kyiv has also been annnounced. A more ominous announcement asks all ex-military who have hunting rifles and other firearms to bring them and ammunition to the maidan as well. Meanwhile a court in Kyiv has announced arrest warrants for numerous activists including the head of the maidan and the head of the auto-maidan.

    Channel 5 is still broadcasting live and it was interesting a few moments ago to hear an impassioned plea from a woman imploring all Churches to stand by the people and to begin ringing their church bells warning of impending “tryvoha”. Will they hear her???

    Comment by elmer — January 22, 2014 @ 2:46 pm

  6. Here is my take on the article.

    The east-west thing is really out the window.

    When Yurij (George) Lutsenko started up his National Self-Defense Organization, as an “Orange” activist, he went straight into the lion’s den- eastern Ukraine. This was a few years ago. He would attract rallies of at least 5,000 or more people. In order to try to undermine him the Bolshevik Regionnaires (the sovok mafia Party of Regions now in power) would stage their usual rent-a-crowd rallies at the same time – but would manage to attract far fewer numbers, only about 1,000.

    Today, the Bolshevik Regionnaires still use rent-a-crowds and also rent-a-thugs. They advertise over the Internet, and give young poverty stricken men from towns outside of Kyiv $26 plus hammers to see if they can do any damage to the protesters.

    In eastern Ukraine, there is a very massive company town syndrome, where people are still afraid to speak out against the sovok mafia thugs – but privately they are fed up, because their lives are shit.

    One of the men just killed at EuroMaidan was from Dnipropetrovsk – eastern Ukraine.

    The Donetski sovok mafia thugs, with their oligarchs are in power, and everyone has seen what they are about – preserving a brutal corrupt kleptocratic sovok mafia thug regime – and the people really don’t like it.

    Russian language versus Ukrainian language – today, people speak freely back and forth using both languages, but even Russian speakers view themselves as Ukrainians.

    The east-west reports in the media focus on peripheral issues, and that is exactly what the sovok mafia has relied on since sovok times to try to divide and cow people into submission – “Bandera was a nazi fascist, Ukraine is anti-semitic”

    That is sovok propaganda. Feldman, one of the oligarchs, just posted yet another article in Kyiv Post with that same garbage.

    Those issues are peripheral. The people are, for the most part, united in their disgust of a brutal sovok mafia regime.

    Crimea – the article is somewhat wrong.

    Crimea was allied with the Orange Revolution, in large measure because people still remember the brutal forced re-settlement of the entire population during sovok times.

    True, there is still the little Black Sea pocket of Sevastopol.

    The shooting of protesters is a shock to most people in Ukraine, even those that might still support the sovok mafia.

    Almost analogous to the shooting of a bobbie in England when it first happened.

    To show you the type of “people” we are dealing with, take Volodymyr Oliynik, one of the chief apologists for the sovok mafia regime. He claims to be a “jurist” – a “lawyer” (there is no legal system in Ukraine).

    In 2004, he wore an Orange scarf, and is seen on video shouting “convict out, convict out” – meaning Yanusvoloch, who at the time had falsified election results for the presidential election, which resulted in a repeat election.

    He, in keeping with the sovok mafia custom in Ukraine, switched sides, and is seen almost every day spouting all sorts of bogus rationalizations to try to justify the sovok mafia thuggery.

    But the younger people, and many of the older people, never fell for the sovok mentality. They still have brains, they have consciences, bravery, hearts and souls.

    Unlike Oliynik and his fellow thugs.

    The issue is a brutal sovok mafia regime benefiting only a few people versus a chance for a decent life for millions of people.

    Most people want a chance for a decent life instead of a golden toilet for Yanukonvikt and his select few.

    Comment by elmer — January 22, 2014 @ 3:15 pm

  7. One of the men who was just kidnapped out of a hospital, Ihor Lutsenko, a prominent EuroMaidan activist, was beaten and then released in a forest.

    He and a friend were abducted by 10 men out of a hospital.

    Lutsenko gave an interview after his return.

    He said that the 10 men questioned him about “who was paying him and how much money he was receiving” – his impression was that at first they really believed that he was a paid protester. Behind all of this is the sovok style propaganda that you can still see today – “foreign agents” are throwing money at protesters in order to “stir up” trouble for the incumbent regime and ——- Roosha.

    He said that after he talked with them a while, most of them finally realized that he was not a paid protester.

    However, there were some who were more than happy to engage in sadistic behavior. The abductors had beat him in the head, on the legs, on the feet.

    And this is exactly the type upon whom the sovoks relied – thugs who were happy to engage in sadism.

    The technique is nothing new, and is being used today by the Yanukonvikt regime.

    These are called “titushki”. Why? Well, because one rent-a-thug was caught – his last name was Titushko. The “plural” of Titushko is “titushko” (pronounced “tee-toosh-ki”).

    So Ukrainians very cleverly began calling the rent-a-thugs “titushki.”

    Here is information on how Yanusvoloch and his son accumulated million in wealth.

    http://yanukovich.info/

    They “stole it fair and square.”

    And they, along with thug oligarchs, want to preserve the system whereby government=”beezniss”

    Comment by elmer — January 22, 2014 @ 3:52 pm

  8. at last – some backbone from the West

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/miriamelder/world-economic-forum-drops-ukrainian-prime-minister-as-prote

    Updated 12:26 p.m. ET

    DAVOS, Switzerland —The World Economic Forum in Davos has withdrawn an invitation to the Ukrainian prime minister to address a session on Friday afternoon or attend the forum entirely, two sources said, amid spiraling violence in Kiev that has killed at least three protesters, two of them shot dead.

    The move against Prime Minister Mykola Azarov points to the growing isolation of the government of President Viktor Yanukovych, which has refused to take responsibility for the deaths of anti-government protesters, at least two of whom were shot dead by snipers. Azarov — who one source said is “already in town” — earlier blamed the deaths on the opposition.

    A spokesman for the forum at Davos declined to comment.

    Another representative of the Yanukovych government, Deputy Prime Minister Yuriy Boyko, has come under siege from concerned Western officials at Davos. An off-the-record session framed as a discussion of Ukraine’s economic future turned into an emotional dissection of Ukraine’s political crisis beginning with a moment of silence for the slain protesters.

    Comment by elmer — January 22, 2014 @ 7:10 pm

  9. In Ukraine, it is common practice among the sovok mafia to use nominee arrangements, in addition to various offshore corporations, trusts, partnerships, etc. to hide their assets.

    Tetyana Chornovil, an intrepid investigative journalist, reports on this, among other things, and was brutally attacked – see above.

    Yanusvoloch, the sovok mafia “president” of Ukraine, is building a third mansion estate. His first one, Mezhihirya (“Between the Hills) is a 400-acre expanse surrounded by walls and armaments.

    Here is his third one, and Ms. Chornovil is sure that this is one of the reasons that she was brutally attacked.

    Here are the pictures – it’s still under construction:

    http://blogs.pravda.com.ua/authors/chornovol/52df9f4f7a319/

    Comment by elmer — January 22, 2014 @ 7:24 pm

  10. the press is being specifically targeted with bullets and beatings by the sovok mafia regime forces

    typically, journalists have been wearing prominent overlay signs with bright colors signifying press

    they have discovered that this makes them, including foreign press, a target, so they have started taking the signs off

    this is the way the sovok mafiosi work

    http://tsn.ua/kyiv/reporteri-v-centri-kiyeva-maskuyutsya-pid-prostih-demonstrantiv-zadlya-vlasnoyi-bezpeki-330788.html

    Comment by elmer — January 22, 2014 @ 8:05 pm

  11. I must admit that Yanukovych’s actions are surprising to me, and I think my earlier optimism was wrong. It really does look like civil war could result. The major reason I doubted Yanukovych from really taking steps to consolidate power is because it would split the country, and he can’t be really be the ruler of Ukraine if he loses half the country including Kiev. Of course, he might be thinking that if it comes to blows that his institutional authority will keep the armed forces loyal to him and suppress any rebellion. But that is taking a lot of risk, and Yanukovych does not appear to be a gambler.

    I wonder if Putin has convinced himself and Yanukovych that he can risk escalating violence because the West will not interfere given its stance on Syria and the Iranian reactor. If so, Obama’s blunders in the Middle East could have more devastating consequences than anyone predicted.

    I think the US and EU really need to have a lot of behind the scenes conversations with key decision makers to let them know that if this degenerates into a civil war, that they won’t stand idly by and that it is imperative some kind of compromise is made to preserve the country.

    Wars begin because people miscalculate what the other side intends to do. In September 1939, Hitler thought he was still dealing with the British and French of September 1938, not realizing his own actions had subsequently changed their analysis and stance. There are many other historical examples. I hope Putin and Yanukovych do not make the same error in judgment. I am not saying the US and NATO would intervene in an Ukrainian civil conflict, but they will react far differently than they did in Syria.

    Comment by Chris — January 22, 2014 @ 8:42 pm

  12. @elmer-Thanks. I appreciate your take on these issues, and the information/links you provide. Lutsenko’s friend, Yuriy Verbytskiy, has been found shot dead in the forest.

    @Chris-I think Yanukovych has been vacillating, and that Putin is pushing him to take more aggressive actions. I think you are right that he is risk averse, and has been trying to figure out the least risky course. But Putin is pushing him, and you are right, probably trying to convince him he can do so without serious consequence because the West generally, and Obama in particular, are paper tigers.

    Obama is also very risk averse, and in particular conflict averse. Moreover, his main objective is his grand bargain with Iran, and Putin’s assistance could be helpful in that regard. But perhaps most importantly, I am sure he doesn’t give a sh*t about Ukraine. So the Ukrainian people can’t look to us for help. As for the Euros–they’re Euros, and essentially useless. Divided. Militarily powerless. Distracted by their own economic problems. So the Europeans will be of little help either.

    And as you note, this is exactly the kind of thing that can lead to miscalculation. Putin and Yanukovych are no doubt contemptuous of the Americans and Europeans, and will feel emboldened to act: as you note, this is in part a consequence of Obama’s fecklessness and blunders. I don’t think that their calculations regarding the US and the EU are wrong, but I do think that if they do that they will be miscalculating about the reactions of the Ukrainian people. This is why I think that the risk of civil war is high.

    Ukraine has always been divided. During the Civil War of 1918-1920, there was a three-way conflict between the Reds, Whites, and Greens that was truly horrific. Even during WWII Ukraine was divided, with many supporting the Nazis.

    I am not predicting a reprise of the Civil War or the return of partisan bands, but it could get very, very ugly.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 22, 2014 @ 9:14 pm

  13. goddamn it, SWP, you have fallen for the goddamn sovok propaganda – “many Ukrainians supporting the Nazis”

    THAT IS NOT TRUE! I don’t know where you got that bullshit, except from sovok propaganda mythology.

    At any rate, I don’t know why the hell you brought up that crap.

    Living in World War II on a daily basis, with all the propaganda about how the commies gained a glorious people’s victory over the fascists is exactly what the sovoks, and the sovok mafia, have been living off of for years. It was drummed into people’s heads, and many of them got brainwashed with it.

    Today, we are well past that, but there is still no sense in spreading false sovok history – not even from you.

    I have 2 uncles, now deceased, who were “guests” in sovok labor camps for fighting against the commies during WWII.

    They in no way “supported the Nazis,” goddamn it.

    They fought for a free and independent Ukraine, and they were stuck between fascists on one side, and fascists on the other.

    My father’s house was blown up during WWII – the Nazis came during the day, the commies came at night.

    My mother lost an older sister during WWII.

    They wanted a free and independent Ukraine. They did not “support the Nazis” and you should not be spreading sovok crap.

    Comment by elmer — January 22, 2014 @ 9:52 pm

  14. not ukraine, but interesting stratfor analysis on regions “directly” under Putin’s control. http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/russias-growing-regional-debts-threaten-stability

    Comment by scott — January 23, 2014 @ 5:26 am

  15. Chris, there is no question that yanukonvikt and his Bolshevik Regionnaires, the Party of Regions, have now tried to implement Vlad Dracul Putler’s “managed democracy” model – which means an authoritarian state.

    In Rasha, the president of Rasha is nominated by the president of Rasha and elected by the president of Rasha.

    But, as Vitaly Portnikov (the most brilliant analyst in Ukraine) has pointed out, there are differences. In Rasha, Putler spread around some oil money in a “bargain with the people” – I get to steal all I want, and so do my cronies, and you get some oil money. Yanukonvikt does not have that kind of money.

    Second, in Rasha, Putler implemented the whole thing through “creeping authoritarianism” over a period of years.

    Yanukonvikt and his banda of thugs tried to do this overnight, in a country which had a taste of free air.

    Now, Yanukonvikt and his banda are trying to ram this through by force.

    Here is a video of how they operate – Berkut (the “Golden Eagles”) stripped a guy naked, made him stand in the freezing cold, and video-ed him, while at the same time grabbing and shoving.

    Here is the video.

    http://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2014/01/23/7010998/

    As far as civil war, I don’t see it. Right now, it’s the “government” against protesters. There is no legitimate government in Ukraine, and there is no bona fide legal system in Ukraine.

    The “government” recently hired so-called “titushky” to stand at the US Embassy in Kyiv, for some reason – I guess it’s all the “foreign intervention.”

    Guess what? The poor guys – and they are poor – got screwed. They weren’t paid.

    http://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2014/01/23/7010876/

    so they blocked the car of one of the “coordinators”

    Vitaly Portnikov has left the country, due to threats against his life.

    Berkut has also been attacking medical personnel, and his instructed hospitals not to treat protesters. They have been grabbing injured protesters out of hospitals.

    They even attacked the Red Cross:

    http://euromaidanpr.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/berkut-riot-police-beats-up-20-medical-volunteers-helping-the-wounded/

    Comment by elmer — January 23, 2014 @ 10:07 am

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