Streetwise Professor

January 25, 2014

Putin’s Dilemma, or, Using Judo on VVP

Filed under: History,Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 10:06 pm

Today was a fraught day in Ukraine. The day started with Yanukovych’s offer to the opposition: Fatherland Party head Yatsenyuk as PM, Klitschko as Vice PM, amnesty for Maidan arrestees, a reconsideration of the anti-protest laws.

This was an anti-Godfather offer.  Rather than making an offer Yatsunyuk could not refuse, Yanukovich made him an offer he had to refuse.  The Maidan would have totally rejected Yatsunyuk and Klitschko had they accepted.  If they had gone ahead regardless, they would have been complicit in what has happened and what would happen.

Yanukovych-and Putin-knew this.  And it suits them just fine.  Now they can portray the opposition as obdurate, radical and unwilling to compromise. This allows them to rationalize a crackdown.  Indeed, the Interior Minister foreshadowed this theme:

The interior minister said the opposition was no longer able to control “radical forces” and was putting civilians in danger.

“The events of the last days in the Ukrainian capital have shown that our attempts to solve the conflict peacefully, without recourse to a confrontation of force, remain futile,” Mr Zakharchenko said in a statement on Saturday

If negotiation is futile, the only alternative is force, right?

But this was not the most important event of the day.  That occurred at Ukraine House.  A group of troops (presumably Internal Troops, or VV) secreted themselves in the House, apparently in preparation of attacking the rear of the barricades on Grushevsky Street.  Their presence was discovered (How? An informant?) and opposition members rushed to the House and surrounded it.  They broke windows, fired fireworks into the building, and set tires alight in the lobby.

The potential for disaster here was extreme.  What could have happened?  Some possibilities, all of them ugly.  First, the troops (referred to as “cadets” and “conscripts” on Twitter, suggesting they were hardly hardened shock troops) could have been incinerated or died of smoke inhalation.  The deaths of so many troopers would have provided the perfect rationale for the government to go medieval on the protests, on mass scale. (They have gone medieval on a small scale, killing and torturing some opposition members.)  Second, the government could have launched a rescue mission that would have resulted in a bloody clash.  This too would have greatly escalated the conflict, and likely resulted in a full-blown revolution and civil war.

But after a while, the fires went out.  Someone apparently convinced those at the building to cool it, and not risk bringing to pass the foregoing scenarios.  Things devolved into a standoff.  The oppositionists surrounding the building left a path open for those inside to leave, and shouted for them to surrender.  Sometime during this period, Klitschko negotiated the peaceful withdrawal of the troops inside.  The situation subsided 4.5 hours after it began.

This is an important victory for the opposition generally, and Klitschko personally.  It is also a humiliating defeat for the government and the security forces.

And therein lay the future danger.  A humiliation of the regime–which comes after other humiliations in which protestors seized government buildings throughout western Ukraine–can lead to its collapse.  The humiliations embolden the opposition, who will be more willing to risk confrontation because they perceive the security forces will back down.  If they turn out to be right, the humiliations snowball and before long the government collapses.

Or it can lead the government to decide that the time for half-measures is over.  In which case, the blood will flow in earnest.

Perhaps more to the point, it can lead Putin to decide that the time for half-measures is over.  He may push the government for a more aggressive response, or go around the government and push the security forces to attack.  (NB: as elmer notes in his comment, many Ukrainians are already convinced that Russian units are already present in Kiev.)  Or he may decide that the current leadership in Ukraine is too pusillanimous, and decide on the Kabul Option, and order spetsnaz units, and FSB Alpha and Vimpel troops, supported by paratroopers, into Kiev to carry out a putsch, and install a more reliable regime that will crush the opposition.

The wildcard in all this is Sochi–as I mentioned some time back.  If Putin waits to act until after the Olympics are over, things could spin out of his control, and by March his dreams of subordinating Ukraine could become the nightmare of the Orange Revolution on steroids. But if he decides that a whiff of grapeshot is necessary and tries to play the role of Nicholas I (“the policeman of Europe”) and crush the rebellion before or during Sochi, his $50 billion triumph will turn into a fiasco.

Difficult dilemma for our VVP.

It seems to me that he has fallen victim to the typical autocrat’s conceit, believing that he can control events.  But revolutionary situations are never-ever-subject to the control of any will.  The spontaneous events at Ukraine House came within a trice of catastrophe.  But who is to say that it will be so the next time?

And there will be a next time.  If you have followed events, you will note a pattern.  An intensification of conflict, but a pullback by one side or the other or both before full-blown warfare erupts.  But each subsequent peak is higher, more intense than the one before.  And it only takes an accidental shot to cause things to spin out of control.

I don’t know where things are going.  Revolutionary situations are radically unpredictable.  No one controls events, and a sort of spontaneous disorder exists.  The independent actions of many people can lead to a shot that his heard ’round the world.

But if you can’t reliably predict the expected outcome, you can reliably predict that the variance becomes extreme.  Anything is possible, even probable, and many of them are quite horrific.

The dynamic, and the choices inherent in it, are pretty clear though. If the government continues to avoid a brutal crackdown, the dynamic favors the opposition: they will become emboldened, and success will produce more success.  That very fact shapes the thinking of the government, andcracking down to stop the opposition’s momentum becomes more and more sensible as an option, even knowing that it will make the regime a pariah, both domestically and abroad. Better to be a live pariah than dead or imprisoned.

Putin knows that autocracies fall not because they are too brutal, but because they are not brutal enough.  He must have absorbed that lesson watching the collapse of the USSR.  I fear he may be intent on not repeating the experience.

For this reason, Sochi may be a godsend. At the very least, it puts Putin on the horns of a dilemma: no Sochi, and his choice would be quite simple. With Sochi, not so simple.

This may provide the US and the EU with the only leverage it really has.  Both should make plain that unless the regime in Kiev capitulates, and forms a national unity government, that they will boycott Sochi.  They should make it plain that they view Yanukovych’s government to be Putin’s puppet, and that he is responsible for what goes on there.

And irony of ironies: Putin’s triumphalism after browbeating Ukraine into turning its back on the EU and accepting Russia’s loving embrace makes it plain that he is the puppet master. By using his triumphalism against him, judo-like, the US and the EU may take him to the mat.

Alas, I doubt either has the stones to do it.  But they should.  It is the best way  to give Ukraine a chance.

Update: A timeline in the Kyiv Post (which is now offline, which could be ominous, or it could be nothing) contradicts part of the Ukraine House story that I told above.  According to the KP piece, troops had been stationed in Ukraine House since November, and this was known.  Perhaps there were rumors that the troops that were there were about to launch an attack, and that’s what precipitated the storming of the place by protestors.  Or maybe the more confrontational elements in the movement initiated the clash.  Or perhaps provocateurs did.  But it apparently is not correct that the presence of the troops was just discovered and that led the protestors to fear an impending assault on their rear.  Either there developed in the crowd a belief that the posture of the troops was about to change from passive/defensive to aggressive/offensive.  Or perhaps elements in the opposition were looking to precipitate a clash: spreading rumors of an impending attack would be a way of doing that.  All in all, the situation looks more ambiguous to me than it did initially.

But this doesn’t change my judgment about the ultimate outcome.  Whatever precipitated the assault, the retreat of the government forces in the building was a humiliating blow to the government. I have the same opinions about the implications of that humiliation.  Similarly, I still believe that the clash is symptomatic of increasing tensions and escalating violence.

Today’s Twitter stream from Ukraine contained several warnings (including one with a video) claiming that busloads of Berkut had departed from Donets and Odessa, headed for Kiev.  Nine was the number of buses attributed to Donets, 10 in Odessa.

There  are only 3500-4000 Berkut troops in the entire country, so perhaps these were not Berkut.  And whether the rumors are true or not will not be known for some time.  Whoever is on those buses is not going to debark and immediately begin an assault.  Some planning and familiarization with the new surroundings would be required first.  One possibility is that they are to be ready for action by Tuesday, when the Rada meets, and when-according to yet more rumors-Yanukovych may declare a state of emergency.  (The head of the Justice Ministry demanded such a declaration if the protestors do not evacuate her ministry building, which they occupied today.)

Even if that’s all true, it indicates a certain desperation by the regime (and Putin), and also an element of futility.  Protests have spread around the country, and government buildings have been occupied in several towns.  The country is in ferment-not just Kiev.  Reinforcing Kiev makes the rest of the country more vulnerable to protestors seizing government buildings and ousting regime loyalists.  A bloody crackdown in Kiev would likely ignite greater efforts in areas denuded of troops.

I just don’t think the regime has enough reliable manpower to be able to maintain control everywhere. Yes, the capital is the center of gravity and its security is paramount to the regime: holding it is necessary to ensure the regime’s survival.  But holding the capital is not sufficient to quash a rebellion that breaks out in multiple areas of a large country.

Dawn is about to break there now, and things seem quiet.  But things can change rapidly, and Tuesday could be another important day.  The fluidity of the situation, and the lack of reliable information makes prognostication a mug’s game.

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25 Comments »

  1. the reverse godfather offer doesn’t matter – they sovok mafia thugs have used this type of ploy for years, and people see right through it

    it is done for consumption in the West, to try to fool the West into believing that the sovok mafia thugs are not sovok mafia thugs

    we are way past that

    where are things going?

    Here is an update of the regional administration buildings that have been taken over in the oblasts (analogous to Canadian provinces, except that Canada is far larger than Ukraine, which is about the size of Texas of France)

    http://odessablog.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/oblast-update.jpg

    the tide keeps rolling

    people are really, really fed up, and they are of all ages

    Comment by elmer — January 25, 2014 @ 10:27 pm

  2. > Alas, I doubt either has the stones to do it. But they should.

    Alas, I doubt not that they won’t. And given how brilliantly they have helped the Syrian people, I don’t think they should, either. It’s better if Ukrainians stay realistic about how much to expect from the West (bupkus), rather than make miscalculations based on futile hopes for support from the morons and in some cases Putin’s whores in Washington or Berlin. Ukraine’s best chance, if not very high, lies within Ukraine.

    Comment by Ivan — January 26, 2014 @ 1:27 am

  3. let us be more precise here

    yanukonvikt offered the PM post and the other post to the opposition knowing full well that under the changes that were made to Ukraine’s constitution under his mafiadom, the president hires and fires cabinet ministers.

    yanukonvikt and his banda are sovoks – their motto is “think one thing, say another, do a third”

    their goal is to keep themselves in power – period

    Kyiv has no mayor – the Party of Regions left the post vacant, and has refused to hold elections for mayor for quite a long time now

    Instead, they appointed their own guy, Popov, as the head of the city administration. Now, yanukonvikt has got rid of Popov and appointed a new one.

    Still no mayor, and no elections, because yanukonvikt and his banda view mayoral elections as a harbinger of presidential elections

    The term of the city council in Kyiv has expired – again, the sovok mafiosi Bolshevik Regionnaires have blocked elections

    There is a wild card here – yanukonvikt now has to negotiate not only with opposition leaders, but also with EuroMaidan.

    The opposition leaders are not leading EuroMaidan. EuroMaidan popped into place despite opposition leaders.

    yanukonvikt could have defused this whole situation a while back very, very easily.

    but he is boundlessly stupid and illiterate, and he is surrounded by sovok mafiosi who have known only one thing – brute force

    The protesters are asking for all the help that is possible to overturn a brutal stinking corrupt sovok mafia regime

    The EU Association Agreement was seen as a step towards full democracy, in the absence of political will by the gangster regime

    Now the Ukrainian people are relying on each other and on themselves

    Obummer gave a “re-set” button to the Rasha

    And he took selfies of himself and a blonde at Mandela’s funeral in South Africa, till Michelle made him change seats

    Obummer is a commie at heart – what else could one expect?

    Comment by elmer — January 26, 2014 @ 9:52 am

  4. wikileaks cable from 2007

    an oligarch provides his views to Ambassador William Taylor

    http://www.wikileaks.org/cable/2007/09/07KYIV2286.html

    1. (C) Summary. In a marathon three-hour meeting, reclusive
    Industrial Union Donbas (IUD) owner Serhiy Taruta and his
    more politically-active partner Vitaliy Haiduk gave the
    Ambassador their views on the elections, Regions party
    leaders, and the current gas deal with Russia, especially
    their concerns over shady middleman RosUkrEnergo.

    7(C) In contrast, Azarov is from the generation of
    soviet-era administrators and red directors, like Kuchma.
    Taruta said that Azarov and his generation don’t know how to
    formulate economic policies that are different from what they
    grew up with. They want to concentrate resources and divide
    them up among themselves. Yanukovych is also from this
    latter system – a Communist Party apparatchik who prefers
    centralized authority. He knows if he gives a little here,
    he can take a little there. Azarov fulfills important
    functions well — he knows how to create an effective
    government machine, first the State Tax Authority, and now
    the general fiscal system. How he uses his government
    machine is another question, but he gets the job done. In
    summing up, Taruta dismissed the whole Donetsk-Regions group,
    saying “they’re all looters.”

    Comment by elmer — January 26, 2014 @ 10:39 am

  5. a little more to the story about Ukrainian Home

    protesters include Afghan veterans

    They went to the roof and found bullets for Kalashnikovs and/or Simonov carabines

    Here is a video showing a vet pointing out sniper locations, and finding bullets

    http://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2014/01/26/7011368/

    Comment by elmer — January 26, 2014 @ 12:07 pm

  6. another email from Ukraine

    I have previously posted a map of the regional oblast (province) administration buildings being taken over.

    Note that the “ultras”, or football hooligans, have sided with the EuroMaidan protesters, including Eastern Ukraine.

    The building of the Ministry of Justice has been taken over. The Minister of Justice is Olena Lukash, the one who announced the “reverse-godfather” offer dreamed up by yanusvoloch and his thugs.

    http://thetrialofwhiteybulger.com/an-update-on-the-ukrainian-situation-obama-remains-in-hiding-71430/

    “There is a little doubt here is that what we have here is a part of the Russian scenario to destabilize Ukraine. It is clear who is responsible for the implementation of this scenario: Kluev and Medvedchuk. They are pro-Russian hawks. Kluev has been appointed recently by Yanukovych as the head of presidential administration, and Medvedchuk is a good old friend of Putin (Putin is a godfather of Medvedchuk’s daughter – in you do understand that is countries like ours such token of close relations means a lot). K and M ousted from power a softer and pro-European wing presented by Leviochkin (this was him whom M.r replaced) and Firtash.

    What made Yanukovych to accept the Russian scenario remains unclear-there is no doubt that he is afraid of Russia and he hates Putin, as Putin hates him. Most likely, Russia is his last resource once he exhausted all other opportunities and brought Ukraine to a brink of default. If so, then the Yanukovych position is not to envy.

    The situation here is changing every hour, from bad to worse and then to back to just bad again. Chances and effects of the Russian scenario are undermined so far by two factors: 1) it has been designed by Russian experts who themselves do have neither an adequate understanding nor knowledge of the Ukrainian understanding: they believe that Maidan is represented by the Western Ukraine only and supported by Brussels and Washington and b) because of the Sochi Olimpiade, attention of Kremlin and FSB is diverted to the North Caucasus till the end of February.

    The opposition leaders (°trio°) are very weak, both as the leaders of the mass movement and as negotiators. Yanukovych outsmarts them and they are ridiculed by the Maidan. There are calls for a new leader. Klychko could have good chances if he would start act independently and to distant himself from two others. This is exactly what he is trying to do now. He keeps appearing in most dangerous places and situations to persuade people to avoid violence keep their protests peaceful. Another potential leader is Poroshenko. He is a very good as a negotiator, and his popularity is on the raise. People on Majdan now are talking more and more about a possible duet of Klychko-Poroshenko that should replace the Triad.

    The Maidan is disoriented but determined. It expects attacks at any moment, and is preparing seriously to defend itself. Apart of the Maidan, there are right-wing extremists who are insisting on attacks, and this them who provoke skirmishes all the time. Till now, however, the Maidan and the extremists are not conflicting – they do understand that they are sitting in the same boat.

    Yanukovych’s resource are very limited: the real number he could rely upon is 2000-3000 soldier of special trained forces. They are really killing machines. But since they are not that numerous, it provokes some leaders on Maidan to attack them imminently and to finish with them.

    A significant part of party of power and oligarchs are willing to yield if their business and personal security would be guaranteed. So far the Triad failed to make them any meaningful offer. The situation is further complicated that any yesterday°s offer is becoming outdated today: this is a revolution after all!

    Two further developments that have changed dramatically the balance: 1) takeover of regional administrations throughout Ukraine -till recently, it was limited to the Orange territory, since yesterday there have been attempts to seize power in Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk; 2) °ultras° (football hooligans) all over Ukraine, including in Donetsk, joint to opposition and started to protect local Majdan and protesters. In the situation when Yanukovych calls more and more police and special task forces to Kyiv, and thus undermines his position in cities like Kharkiv, this might bring to victory of local Maidans.

    To conclude: as I said before, this is a revolution after all, and since the revolution is build on a confluence of many factors, nobody can make any meaningful predictions.

    Still, the weak factor (or link, if you wish) is unwillingness of the West to play a stronger part, to counterbalance the Russian factor. Therefore do anything you can to influence public opinion in the North America and Europe –esp. do undermine attempts to represent the Ukrainian situation as a conflict between two kind of extremists (yanukovych vs nationalist) or between West and East, with an implication that Ukraine is nothing else but another Yugoslavia reincarnated.

    Ukraine has not been Yugoslavia, is not, and, I hope very much, will never be”

    Comment by elmer — January 26, 2014 @ 9:28 pm

  7. the asshole “government” in Dnipropetrovsk in eastern Ukraine decided to use a fire hose on protesters

    short video

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tRdRxbH7R4

    Comment by elmer — January 26, 2014 @ 9:59 pm

  8. Interesting. I’m watching this very closely, too. Ukraine is the modern fault line between democratic and authoritarian civilization. It’s a much more important conflict than most people realize. Luckily, your worries about Russians parachuting into Kiev are a weird deluded fantasy. There is some risk of civil war, but don’t overestimate Yanukovich’s support in the east and south. It has fallen a lot since 2004. His support is being tested and is being found thin. He may well not last another month.

    Comment by Tom — January 27, 2014 @ 4:17 am

  9. I agree with Ivan. We live in a time when politicians ever rely on the promise of a free lunch, the electorate is ever seeking the free lunch, and reality is making it ever more difficult to create even the illusion of the free lunch. It is a three vehicle collision slowly unfolding (I think I may be becoming a Malthusian of sorts with the critical catastrophic shortage being unskilled jobs thanks to globalization and China et al).

    I want nothing but the best for Ukraine but if the opposition is successful and Ukraine goes into the EU this same thing is likely happening in another three years. Even without Putin it would be very difficult if not impossible for the Ukrainian government to adopt policies that would satisfy a majority of the electorate over the medium term but with the influence of the pernicious one it will certainly be impossible.

    Comment by pahoben — January 27, 2014 @ 7:25 am

  10. commentary from the blog at Ukrainian Pravda newspaper of one of the opposition leaders, Yurij (George) Lutsenko, who was one of those former ministers subjected to stalinist show trials along with Mrs. Tymoshenko

    rough translation:

    Fascism is already here! It’s on the streets of Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia

    Not able to provide an explanation for the malignant “improvement” of people’s lives, the Party of Regions like to frighten the electorate with the specter of “fascists” raising their heads in Ukraine. Moldy Soviet myths about OUN-UPA (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists -Ukrainian Insurgent Army) get mixed-up in the minds of Easterners with lies about UNA-UNSO (Ukrainian National Assembly-Ukrainian People’s Self-Defense) and horror stories about Svoboda.

    Chants of “Fascism will not come!” echo through pro-government rallies.

    THAT’S A LIE! FASCISM IS ALREADY HERE!

    IT IS HERE ON THE STREETS OF KHARKIV, DNIPROPETROVSK, ZAPORIZHIA.

    Recent events in Eastern Ukraine have proven that, regardless of where we were born, the language we use, or the religion we follow, the government has declared a criminal war on all of us.

    When people are humiliated, forced into poverty and lawlessness—that is fascism.

    When the uniformed police act in concert with armed criminal thugs—that is fascism.

    When criminals—from the lookouts to the gang leaders—merge and blend into government authorities—that is fascism.

    When people are hunted and beaten merely because of their views and for protesting—that is fascism.

    The Party of Regions want to continue stealing. They are ready to use any and all means to protect their criminal power.

    And you, who have been robbed and plundered residing in East Ukraine, what are you ready to do?

    http://blogs.pravda.com.ua/authors/lucenko/52e5e3a5495ca/

    Comment by elmer — January 27, 2014 @ 11:10 am

  11. very strange – Channel 5, http://www.5.ua, seems to have gone off-Internet for some reason.

    It is owned by Petro (Petro) Poroshenko, whose chocolate candy company was subjected to a trade war ban by Putler.

    For anyone wanting alternate live access

    http://www.onlinesat-tv.com/online.php?tv=5_Kanal&id=896

    Comment by elmer — January 27, 2014 @ 2:07 pm

  12. Channel 5 was subjected to a DDos hacker attack

    It’s back on now

    There’s supposed to be a Parliament session tomorrow, called by Yanukonvikt, but the whole thing stinks to high heaven.

    In Canada – absolutely excellent interview providing and excellent overview of the situation in Ukraine

    There were demonstrations in support of EuroMaidan all over the US, Canada and Europe

    http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/World/ID/2432727391/

    There was also a Twitter storm, which garnered top spot

    https://twitter.com/search?q=digitalmaidan&src=typd

    Comment by elmer — January 27, 2014 @ 5:04 pm

  13. Comments on the Yanukonvikt “negotiation” ploys – she is absolutely right, and she was beaten herself

    http://projectmaidan.com/post/74682798644/parliamentarian-orobets-comments-on-negotiations-with

    “Whatever noises Yanukovych made during the negotiations, the obvious purpose of these discussions appear to be:

    1. Gaining time (“releasing all arrested individuals over three days:((( Why not by morning? The courts and prosecutors are completely independent!!!). The fact that oblast administrations have been taken over was possible in part precisely because the most aggressive dogs had all been moved to Kyiv. The Maidan in Kyiv is mobilized to such a degree that even Yanukovych and Zakharchenko are not prepared to attack it now, despite all of Putin’s efforts through Medvedchuk and Kluyev. So, they need a few more days. They say: three. Plus the emergency session of the Verkhovna Rada on January 28.

    2. Establishing a cease-fire in Kyiv, setting up a decorative “border” of internal forces in Kyiv, who are draftees. So all the bleeding heart folks can cheer themselves that these are only boys.

    3. Moving all the combat-ready berkut [Special Forces] to the cities that have been mobilized, violently suppressing the local residents and taking back the administrations. Once again, shooting with shotguns and brass bullets, brutal beatings and torture, taking people away to a field rather than to a court, stripping people in the snow, using knives in the anus—all those things that began to happen in Kyiv since January 19. Grabbing and torturing injured people in hospitals. The boys have been tested and their methods too.

    4. Continuing to have disguised cops and mafia underlings burning cars, grabbing and absconding with people to unknown destinations every night. Expanding this progressive practice to all the cities that are up in arms.

    5. Stirring a break-up between the opposition leaders and the people, who want radical action. Making the opposition leaders look weak and indecisive.

    6. Stirring a split between more moderate protesters and more radical ones; murdering the more radical elements during the cease-fire, while the moderates relax and slowly drift back home. If they get lucky and few people are left, knocking down the Maidan with APCs and construction equipment (we all saw the preparations for storming and only a full mobilization of Kyivans repelled it).

    7. Having crushed the people in cities that were up in arms and weakened Kyiv as much as possible, returning the mad dogs.

    8. Counting the arms and legs of a few dozen MPs, on January 28 approving the state of emergency already declared by Yanukovych. Setting aside the rosy glasses, the last two days the crazy PR majorities in oblast councils will approve an appeal “for stabilization.” Making determined efforts to organize pogroms in Kyiv (and, I suspect, they will likely try these in other cities, too) —based on the same slogan of “preventing destabilization.” The hand of the FSB? Indubitably! But they’re doing it!!!

    In short, a three-day “ceasefire” will cost us hundreds more abducted and crippled, dozens more killed, and a growing number trashed cars. By January 28, when the Rada [Parliament] is supposed to convene, these numbers will double.

    Comment by elmer — January 27, 2014 @ 8:33 pm

  14. re: comment #6 above. Some good points, in that regard, here:

    http://foreignnotes.blogspot.ca/2014/01/klychko-looks-winner.html

    The last part about the security forces being demoralized is an angle I really haven’t heard yet (demoralized to that degree anyway). The logic makes sense to me. Hope it’s true.

    Comment by Gordon — January 27, 2014 @ 8:52 pm

  15. I invite you to look at yet another factor that has popped into the mix – the “ultras”

    http://www.rferl.org/content/ukraine-protests-sports-fans-euromaidan/25244357.html

    In invite you also to look at this brief interview with Mrs. Lesya Orobets, a member of Parliament, on CNN

    http://amanpour.blogs.cnn.com/2014/01/28/ukraine-under-siege/?iref=allsearch

    PM Azarov has resigned, which means the entire cabinet of ministers is now gone.

    There is an interim acting cabinet until a new one is formed.

    Also, the “anti-helmet” group of laws has been repealed.

    The problem is that the system of government is still screwed up.

    The “president” still gets to fire and hire ministers, which places all power in the president, and none in parliament.

    Other problems also exist in the current system. A huge one is the total lack of a bona fide legal system.

    Comment by elmer — January 28, 2014 @ 11:05 am

  16. What putler wants in Ukraine – Weigel knows whereof he speaks

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/369711/what-putin-wants-ukraine-george-weigel

    the sovok mafia mindset – it is absolutely insanely schizoid

    http://www.kyivpost.com/opinion/op-ed/katya-gorchinskaya-the-ruling-partys-view-of-euromaidan-335812.html

    Comment by elmer — January 29, 2014 @ 2:31 pm

  17. @elmer-Thanks. I had read both articles earlier today. The Weigel one is particularly good. Thanks for sharing them with SWP and its/my readers.

    Looks like the “amnesty” vote, and the bill itself, is another sovok clusterf*ck.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 29, 2014 @ 3:49 pm

  18. I think you got it right, SWP

    I don’t think people in the West understand that “government” in Ukraine is basically a gang, and they expect you to stand still while they pound you in the face and legs and rape your wife and steal your business, because, after all, “it’s all legal.”

    You are not allowed to defend yourself, because that turns you into a “hooligan” – a nice sovok word.

    An essay by Ukrainian writer Yuri Andrukhovych:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/30/opinion/love-and-hatred-in-kiev.html?hpw&rref=opinion&_r=0

    Quote: “It is precisely for their rights and freedoms — long and brazenly violated by the Yanukovych regime — that the Ukrainian people are now fighting. They have been given no other choice. Our national anthem says, “We will lay down our body and soul for our freedom.” On Jan. 19, the protests turned violent. But if no one resists the riot police, the thinking goes, Ukraine will be turned into one large prison in a matter of weeks.

    This is why an acquaintance of mine, a translator of Kierkegaard and Ibsen, now spends her time making Molotov cocktails, and her young sons, classics majors, aged 17 and 19, throw their mother’s products in the direction of the wall of smoke on Hrushevsky Street, which runs past major government buildings.

    This is why an 80-year-old Kiev grandmother brought her knitting needles to the protest headquarters and gave them to the first protester she saw with the words, “Take them, son. If you don’t kill the monster, maybe you’ll at least stop it.”

    This is why even the Hare Krishnas in Kiev now carry baseball bats”.

    Comment by elmer — January 29, 2014 @ 8:33 pm

  19. The Rasha is conducting a massive campaign against Ukraine and against the West – including a bit of a cyberwar —-

    SUCCESS!!!!!!

    ——THE DIGITALMAIDAN WEBSITE IS BEING MERCILOUSLY ATTACKED FROM RUSSIA – IT IS HURTING THEIR PROPAGANDA EFFORTS SEVERELY

    ———-THE SITE IS BEING INTERMITTENTLY BLOCKED TO RUSSIA AND UKRAINE

    —————–THIS WILL NOT AFFECT ABILITY TO TWITTER YOUR MESSAGE

    ———————— IF HAVING PROBLEMS WITH WEBSITE, USE THE DROPBOX LINKS AS BACKUP

    New Twitter Storm in One Hour

    JOIN ‪#‎DIGITALMAIDAN‬ and ‪#‎UKRAINE‬ NOW:

    *NOTE: Tweets will shorten when entered into your preferred method. Buttons will be posted within the hour on each page. (A lot of technical work is required). Thank you!!!!

    ENGLISH: http://digitalmaidan.com/pre-made-tweets/ OR https://www.dropbox.com/s/xo4xs3xgekl4wpt/ENGLISH-digitalmaidan-instructions.doc

    UKRAINIAN: http://digitalmaidan.com/instructions-ukrainian/ OR https://www.dropbox.com/s/ywso6531fm5lpkb/UKRAINIAN-digitalmaidan-instructions.doc

    RUSSIAN: http://digitalmaidan.com/pre-made-tweets-in-russian/ OR https://www.dropbox.com/s/5q0i3zug0m0a7dp/RUSSIAN-digitalmaidan-instructions.doc

    Comment by elmer — January 30, 2014 @ 9:22 am

  20. here’s one for you SWP

    Putler to use Sochi as cover for invading Ukraine – through intermediaries

    http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2014/01/window-on-eurasia-putin-to-use-sochi.html

    Comment by elmer — January 30, 2014 @ 9:34 am

  21. Thanks, @elmer. I laughed (a bitter laugh, but a laugh) this morning when I read this article stating that the Russian military will have cyberwar units by 2017. It is pretty clear-and has been since Estonia in 2006 (or 2007-can’t remember exactly) and Georgia (in 2008) that the Russians already have a well-developed cyberwar capability. Perhaps it is made up of irregulars, and perhaps it is currently primarily an FSB responsibility, but the idea that Russia is only now developing a cyberwar capability is a huge joke.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 30, 2014 @ 11:34 am

  22. 35-year old Ukrainian activist Bulatov was held, beaten, cut, and his ear cut off

    http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/automaidan-leader-bulatov-found-alive-after-eight-days-of-disappearance-335912.html

    http://tvi.ua/new/2014/01/30/hrycenko_pidtverdzhuye_bulatova_znayshly_zhyvym_foto

    Comment by elmer — January 30, 2014 @ 4:00 pm

  23. @elmer. Bulatov’s attackers also went out of their way to let him know they were Russian.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 30, 2014 @ 6:52 pm

  24. this is the video of where he was found and it shows him on video – a bloody mess

    he walked up to a house and knocked on the door, and the kind people helped him

    http://5.ua/euromaidan/70691-ZNYKLYI-LIDER-AVTOMAIDANU-ZNAISHOVSIA-YOHO-KATUVALY

    Comment by elmer — January 30, 2014 @ 7:49 pm

  25. @elmer-The militia visited Bulatov’s hospital room. Initial rumors were that they were there to arrest him, but it seems they’ve backed off and are now just “investigating.” But arrest warrants have supposedly been issued for two other Automaidan leaders.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 31, 2014 @ 10:33 am

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