Streetwise Professor

January 23, 2014

The Die Is Cast in Kiev: Who Cast It? I Say: Putin.

Filed under: History,Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 8:45 pm

The situation in Ukraine has escalated significantly in the last few days, with the deaths of five protestors, two killed by gunshots allegedly fired by Ukrainian security forces (sometimes said to be “snipers”), and one being tortured and left to die in the woods.  An opposition aid station was attacked, and its patients taken away, by security forces.  The security forces are also going through hospitals looking for injured protestors.

A line has been crossed.  The beatings that had occurred periodically before were bad, but the deliberate murder of protestors who did not pose a direct threat to the police is a Rubicon.  Opposition leaders including Klitschko have been trying to negotiate with Yanukovych, but this has only angered the Maidan movement rank-and-file., who now see that compromise with murderers is pointless-and wrong.  Throughout western Ukraine government buildings are being seized, and Yanukovych appointed officials (such as the governor of Lviv) forced to resign.  The country is on the brink of civil war.  The killings have made civil war all the more likely.

The shootings were not something analogous to Kent State: panicked weekend warriors opening fire on rioters/protestors.  They were, apparently, carried out with malice aforethought.

Which raises the question: who decided to pull the trigger?  Who authorized the premeditated use of deadly violence?

The protestors blame Yanukovych, and yes, he is ultimately responsible, in the sense that his intransigence, and his forcing through draconian laws outlawing protest, are a necessary condition for the escalation that culminated in five deaths.

But I have my doubts that he authorized such action.  He seems to me to be an indecisive, temporizing figure.  He does not want to back down, because he knows that if he cedes power he will likely end up in prison, and will lose all of the corrupt spoils that he has gained.  But he seems reluctant to order a full-scale repression.

Which no doubt angers hardliners.  I surmise that those hardliners, disgusted with Yanukovych’s vacillation, ordered the killing of a few protestors to bring the pre-revolutionary situation to a climax, and to eliminate the possibility of any compromise.

The hardliners’ determination to force the issue would no doubt be intensified by dissension within the ranks of the military and the security forces.  There are reports that some officers have refused orders to attack the barricades on Hrushevskovo Street.  This would make it all the more imperative to hardliners to escalate the confrontation.

Which raises the question: who are the hardliners?  Angry colonels?  (I think of the Serbian army officers who supported the Black Hand, and Princeps, in the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand.)  Or perhaps angry colonels acting under the direction of Russia/Putin/the FSB? Or angry colonels acting under the direction of a Ukrainian agent of the Kremlin?

I think this is the most likely alternative.  Moreover, I think it quite likely that the authorization-or orders-originated with the Ukrainian prime minister, Mykola Azarov.  He is not Ukrainian: he is of Russian extraction, born in Kaluga, and has been called “the most Russophile member of the new cabinet.”  He is a latter-day Ukrainian, only moving there in the 1980s.  If he is anything, he is an old school Sovok, and no doubt an eager supporter of Putin’s drive to restore at least a simulacrum of the USSR.  He has employed brutal rhetoric, praising the Berkut for its patriotism.  He is quite the favorite of Putin: a perusal of some of the images of when they are together suggests more than the forced comradery between officials of different nations: there seems to be a real rapport (h/t @libertylynx).  Have you ever seen Putin look that way at Medvedev, let alone Merkel-or Obama?

I think Azarov is Putin’s man in Ukraine.  The one who is there to ensure that no Second Orange Revolution occurs.  The First Orange Revolution was a stunning defeat for Putin, and you know that it left a mark: that the hatred and resentment still burns.  Never Again.  He wants any protest movement crushed, but he wants to hide his hand.  Azarov is the natural man to do the dirty work.  A few provocative killings are precisely what is required to ensure that Yanukovych (a venal man, obviously, but one who doesn’t strike me as a hard man like Putin or Azarov–hence the problem for them, and why he must be denied an out) cannot go back.  The orders go from Russia to their creatures in Ukraine.  People die.  The battle lines harden.  Things escalate, and eventually the crackdown happens.

Maybe Azarov is not in the chain.  No doubt the Russians have direct contacts with angry colonels.  But regardless, I strongly suspect the ultimate source of the decision to kill is in Moscow.

Something else struck me.  When watching via the Espresso TV live feed the brief assault of the police/Berkut on Tuesday, when they stormed the barricades and tore them down, and then retreated, I noticed one of the Berkut/police picking up a Ukrainian flag a protestor had dropped.  He carried it back as a trophy, but not with respect.  He dragged it behind him.  Then there is this video of a Berkut/policeman disdainfully hacking down a Ukrainian flag from a vehicle (another @libertylynx h/t).  These are not the actions of Ukrainian patriots.  Most likely they are ethnically Russian Ukrainians, perhaps Crimeans (who @libertylynx says strive to be more Russian-y than Russians), or Russian speakers from eastern Ukraine.  They no doubt would be quite happy with Ukraine being re-united with Russia, or at least its vassal: the good little brother.  Men like these would be more than willing to kill protestors in order to advance that cause.

The die has been cast in Kiev.  The most reasonable explanation is that Putin is the die-maker.  He wants to bring Ukraine to heel, and to someone of his bloody-minded outlook, foreclosing any compromise and forcing a confrontation is the best way to do that.  And murdering a few protestors is perfectly suited to accomplishing that end.

Sadly, there are many in Ukraine who would provide willing hands to do the the dirty work.  Those desecrating the Ukrainian flags are emblematic of that.  But those who pulled the triggers in Kiev (and those who gave the orders) are the real Orcs, doing Sauron’s/Putin’s bidding.

Update: Just saw Edward Lucas’s column from yesterday, in which he states that a source told him last year that Putin had ordered Yanukovych to “dip his hands in blood.” Says Lucas: “Only by forcing an irreversible breach with Europe and America could the Kremlin be sure that its Ukrainian satrap would behave.”  That’s similar to my conjecture: that the killings were intended to foreclose any possibility of political compromise or settlement, though I think this was intended primarily to affect the situation within Ukraine, rather than to affect American or European actions.  The long lag between the alleged order and the actual shootings suggests, moreover, that Yanukovych resisted.  Maybe he eventually capitulated, but I think it is more plausible that the Russians worked through members of the Ukrainian government, or directly with their connections in the security forces.  Putin/the Russians were tired of waiting, in other words, and forced the issue.  From their perspective, it doesn’t matter.  In the popular Ukrainian mind, Yanukovych is responsible, and the any political compromise between Yanukovych and the opposition that would inevitably reduce Russian influence (a la the Orange Revolution) has been fatally damaged.  Yanukovych now realizes he can’t negotiate his way out, and is thus more likely to escalate, seeing that as the only way he can survive. Which is fine with Putin.  Indeed, it makes the Ukrainian government all the more dependent on Putin and Russia.

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  1. @Professor It is very plausible that the orders and scenarios come from one center. In recent years tricks from the same playbook of reprisal of mass protests have been used in other post-Soviet republics as well.

    Comment by MJ — January 23, 2014 @ 11:46 pm

  2. I think you have hit pretty close to the truth, a truth that is hard to find anywhere else other than Ukrainian non-censored media. My gut tells me that not not only Azarov, but more importantly Kliuev and Medvedchuk are pulling the strings.

    Comment by Gordon — January 24, 2014 @ 8:29 am

  3. Another point along these lines:

    Comment by MJ — January 24, 2014 @ 8:37 am

  4. I think Gordon is right.

    It is most certainly more than just Azarov, and there is most certainly Russian influence and direction- after all, the most recent laws that were passed were from Russia.

    Over the years, Ukrainian Pravda has posted articles about Russian personnel in Ukraine’s administration, but they way things work in Ukraine in line with sovok methods, even those outside of the regime have tremendous influence through “understandings.”

    The fact that more than just Azarov is involved makes sense, since the Bolshevik Regionnaires have very deliberately and carefully designed their entire system to benefit about 10 families, and some adherents.

    One more thing – to paint the brainless illiterate thug Yanusvoloch as some sort of a softie or innocent bystander in all this is a mistake.

    He was one of those advocating use of force, including tanks, during the Orange Revolution.

    Here is Putler refusing candy from Yanusvoloch in 2004, 12 seconds into the video

    Comment by elmer — January 24, 2014 @ 9:07 am

  5. @Elmer Very funny. I doubt that a person with KGB training would take a candy offered to him. Even on an instinctive level he would know all well what that candy might represent.

    Comment by MJ — January 24, 2014 @ 9:31 am

  6. MJ, it’s not about the KGB training – these sovoks all know each other very well, they were all a part of the same corporation.

    It’s like right after the break-up of AT&T – people at the Baby Bells and AT&T all knew each other and still thought they worked for the same system.

    Here is Yanukovych emphasizing the “lawfulness” of the acts of the regime against protesters, and claiming that the regime is “forced” to react the way it did and does because of a few “radical” citizens.

    All done on Interfax TV, which is owned by none other than sovok mafia oligarch Firtash, who once called himself the “savior of Ukraine.” Firtash is, of course, the corrupt jerk who was involved in RosUkrEnergo in a brutally corrupt gas purchase arrangement with Gazprom/Russia.

    Comment by elmer — January 24, 2014 @ 11:56 am

  7. MJ – I forgot to say, it’s not about KGB training, it’s about Putler’ contempt for Yanukonvikt.

    Nevertheless, Putler wants Yanukonvikt and Ukraine under Russia’s boot.

    Comment by elmer — January 24, 2014 @ 11:58 am

  8. Here is another name – Kluyev.

    He has just been appointed as head of the “president’s” administration.

    He is an old hand from the sovok mafia Party of Regions, and not a new face.

    Lyovochkin “resigned” but has been retained as an “adviser.”

    Yanukonvikt has publicly postured that he would “shuffle his administration in response to demands of protesters.”

    This is part of the shuffle – another mafioso comes in. But Kluyev had been operating in another position all along. He’s part of the same cabal.

    Comment by elmer — January 24, 2014 @ 12:07 pm

  9. how do you solve the problem of unruly people no longer wanting a brutal sovok mafia regime?

    why – shut down media critical of the regime, of course!

    Life in Ukraine – I will never forget the video I saw not too long ago.

    People come to self-made “flea markets” to sell things.

    In this case, an older woman had a basket of tomatoes and other baskets of other vegetables for sale.

    Along comes a thug in a black jacket and smashed the basked of tomatoes with his boots.

    She apparently had not paid enough of a bribe to be allowed, on a subsistence living, to sell tomatoes.

    If I can find the link again, I will post it.

    That does not include all the mazhory “big shots” and “big shot kids” who get away with murder, rape and other crimes.

    You can ask Oksana Makar, who was raped by 3 “big shot kids”, strangled, stripped naked, set on fire, and left for dead in a ditch.

    Except she survived for a while, and identified her attackers.

    They were going to get off scot-free until the people massed together in protests.

    That’s not the only instance of how the sovok mafia regime has operated over the past 20 years.

    That’s why people are so pissed, together with all sorts of other reasons.

    Yanukonvikt is turning himself into Yanuchesceu pretty rapidly.

    Comment by elmer — January 24, 2014 @ 12:24 pm

  10. Life in Ukraine – “if yanukonvikt tell me to hang myself, I will hang myself.”

    The “oblasts” are regions in Ukraine, which might be thought of as analogous to Canadian provinces.

    The oblast governors are not elected, they are appointed, which is part of the brutally corrupt patronage regime/system in Ukraine.

    There are such regions where the administration buildings have been taken over, and where the “governors” have been asked to resign.

    In Ternopil, the “governor,” Valentyn Khoptan, has refused to resign but he has not shown up for work, claiming “high blood pressure.”

    When asked if he would resign, he categorically said he would do this only by command of Yanukonvikt.

    When asked if he would hang himself if Yanukonvikt told him to do so, he said that he would.

    PS – Going to the hospital or claiming sickness is a routine tactic of sovoks when facing a difficult situation, and they want to disappear due to “sickness.”

    Comment by elmer — January 24, 2014 @ 12:36 pm

  11. The city of Khmelnytsky is one of the regional “oblast” centers where people have taken over the administration building.

    This short video shows, first, the people chanting “the militia is with the nation” – and you can see that.

    They then sing the national anthem of Ukraine.

    There are reports of Berkut forces in various cities going over to the Maidan protester side – they really don’t want to be killing fellow citizens, just go protect yanukonvikt’s golden toilet and Firtash and a bunch of other sovok mafiosi and their billions of dollars in ill-gotten wealth.

    Comment by elmer — January 24, 2014 @ 12:44 pm

  12. I understand your points well, Elmer. It is a recurring theme in the post-Soviet domain, short of Baltics perhaps, and with some idiosyncratic differences in Georgia. The rest of the former Soviet Republics have pretty much used the same playbook.

    As to the “candy” episode, while you may be right about the contempt, I would expect our “hero” to be paranoiac as, allegedly, Stalin was in his later day. Never the less there are testimonies that he was food poisioned [allegedly by Beria].

    Comment by MJ — January 24, 2014 @ 12:45 pm

  13. Life in Ukraine via Instagram

    Pictures from Kyiv

    The sign in the yellow square says:

    “We are changing the country –
    sorry for any inconvenience”

    Comment by elmer — January 24, 2014 @ 1:27 pm

  14. > Sadly, there are many in Ukraine who would provide willing hands to do the the dirty work. Those desecrating the Ukrainian flags are emblematic of that.

    There are indeed many of those “in Ukraine” right now, as opposed to “from Ukraine”. The FSB proper, that is, Russian expats “on business”. Do you think it is a coincidence that the first guy they murdered was of Armedian ethnicity (read “looked like a Chechen”)?

    Comment by Ivan — January 24, 2014 @ 1:30 pm

  15. I stand corrected. Allegedly, Stalin was murdered by a substitute doctor who got just one opportunity to replace his regular one.

    Comment by MJ — January 24, 2014 @ 1:33 pm

  16. Don’t know about a civil war, but I do wonder if Ukraine May one day find itself fighting a low-level war along the lines of the British in Northern Ireland.

    Comment by Tim Newman — January 25, 2014 @ 4:19 am

  17. No questions that Rashan FSB troops were/are at EuroMaidan.

    They shot a Ukrainian who looked, in their eyes, like a Chechnyan, because they can’t stand Chechnyans.

    From Ukraine——————–

    I forgot to tell everyone (or maybe I did, so I apologize for the repeat) that I spoke with a lot of people on Hrushevskyi street, regulars, commanders, and trauma surgeons.

    There is a logic here that at first I thought was odd, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense.

    The people I’ve spoken with are convinced that the Berkut that were active in the shootings were members of an FSB team that had experience in Chechnya. And here’s their logic:

    Up until Wednesday morning, the only weapons that were being used by the VVshnyky and Berkut were rubber bullets and those flash-bang gernades. They were tossing a few Molotov-Cocktails, but they were horribly inaccurate and to me it looked like they were lobbing them at the buses or just over the buses. They couldn’t get any where near the protestors and seemed to use it as a scare tactic more than anything.

    Then on Wednesday morning a new rotation arrived. The Berkut there do not understand Ukrainian at all. Nothing. Even the most Russified Berkut from Luhansk will understand Ukrainian. He’ll not speak it, but he’ll understand it. These guys just don’t understand Ukie at all.

    Serihiy Nihyan who was shot point blank in the heart was an ethnic Armenian, but born in Dnipropetrovsk–a Ukrainian. He had black hair, dark complexion, thick black eyebrows. He looked “Chechen” and the FSB hate Chechens. The other one that was shot was a member of UNSO and was wearing his UNSO symbol on his uniform. He too was shot in the chest. UNSO fought in Chechnya against the Russians.

    The Ukrainian VVshnyky who were watching the Berkut degenerates humiliate the Kozak were telling them stop but they continued and even chopped off his oseledets. On the video there is a VVshnyk that slaps him in his head and then kicks him, but the Berkut were the ones taking photos, the same way they took photos of their “spoils” in Chechnya.

    The conclusion they draw from the above is that they were straight-up FSB Russians. So from now on, there is no reason to suspect the presence of FSB units in Kyiv. Based on their behavior, it’s been established.

    The truce has held for over a day now. I suspect that unit has left. There remain a s*it load of VVshnyky but I can not see any Berkut behind the buses and I’ve been right up to the front line. Doesn’t mean they’re not there of course and it is difficult to see, but from what I witnessed today, I haven’t seen the Berkut there. Again, I’d think they are still there, but they were pretty obvious and today, not so much.

    Comment by elmer — January 25, 2014 @ 11:08 am

  18. revolutionary walk in Poltava in Eastern Ukraine Jan 24 2014

    stalin, “our father, our teacher, our leader, our lover of children, our grandpa, Papa Joe,” tried to obliterate Poltava

    Comment by elmer — January 25, 2014 @ 11:33 am

  19. people of Ukraine ask the world for support

    and ask for sanctions against the sovok mafia regime

    Comment by elmer — January 25, 2014 @ 12:41 pm

  20. […] […]

    Pingback by Putin's quislings frustrate Ukrainian people's EU hopes - Page 120 — January 25, 2014 @ 12:45 pm

  21. @elmer-Thanks for passing on the report in comment #17. Very informative. Please pass on additional information as it comes available.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 25, 2014 @ 12:53 pm

  22. the oligarchs have decided to take matters into their own hands

    Meeting of oligarchs to take place on Saturday, January 25, 2014 with

    Rinat Akhmetov, a Tatar, who is at the top of the list in wealth with SCM – System Capital Management, and is owner of the most expensive apartment in Londongrad

    Dmytro Firtash, a Jew, who was involved in RosUkrEnergo (and who put Yulia Tymonshenko in jail for kicking him out as middleman in the gas trade), owner of Inter, a TV channel, Pravex Bank, and numerous other “beeznissez”; he referred to himself as the “savior of Ukraine”

    These 2 are pictured in the link below

    Also scheduled to meet are

    Igor Kolomoisky, another Jewish oligarch, who has mansions in Switzerland and elsewhere

    Petro (“Peter”) Poroshenko, the Ukrainian “chocolate king”, owner of Channel 5 ( is the web site), and an active and fervent supporter of democracy

    In the background you can see Yuriy (George) Boyko, another Jewish oligarch, who has held Minister of Energy and other positions, who was involved in a corrupt offshore drilling rig purchase, among other corruption, and who was also involved in putting Yulia Tymoshenko in jail

    All except Poroshenko are in the Party of Regions, the Bolshevik Regionnaires, or support the Bolshevik Regionnaires and the kleptocrat oligarch sovok mafia system

    Poroshenko’s business, Roshen, was recently targeted by Putler’s trade war against Ukraine. Roshen chocolates were banned in the Rasha, because they were found to be “unhealthy” and “detrimental to the health of the Rasha citizens”

    Comment by elmer — January 25, 2014 @ 1:20 pm


    In a letter leaked via Facebook dated December 12th of last year, lieutenant-general Stanislav Shuliak, commander of Ukraine’s Internal Military requested military equipment be transferred from Ukraine’s Defense Military to its Internal Military, notably four-million cartridges of live ammunition and 100,000 grenades.

    The date of this letter, more than one month prior to coordinated offensive action on the part of Ukraine’s Internal Military against protestors, suggests to some that recent actions in Kyiv amounting to more than five deaths were planned by the government in advance of protest escalations.

    According to an article by Ukrainian news outlet The Insider published the same day this letter was sent and only two days following the militia’s last major attempt to disburse protestors, Ukraine’s Internal Military had been consulting with the Russian Federation’s Federal Security Service regarding effective methods to clearing out protest grounds. This has stirred rumors that Russia’s Federal Security Service is also somehow tactically supporting Ukraine’s Special Forces in their clashes with protestors in Kyiv.

    Comment by elmer — January 25, 2014 @ 1:29 pm

  24. According to “Minister of Justice” Olena (Helen) Lukash, the “president” has proposed that Areniy (Arsenio) Yatseniuk take over as Prime Minister, and Klitchko take over as vice-premier of humanitarian affairs.

    They are, of course, 2 of the 3 political opposition leaders

    That means that Azarov would be gone

    However, that doesn’t take care of the problem of the Bolshevik Regionnaires still having a majority in Parliament.

    It also confirms that the “president” and his inside circle view Parliament as irrelevant, which was the goal of recent legislation.

    Comment by elmer — January 25, 2014 @ 2:04 pm

  25. @elmer-As I said on Twitter, that was a reverse Godfather move. Yanik made an offer that the opposition leadership *must* refuse. The street would never stand for it. Now Yanik will say “I tried to be reasonable, but the opposition wouldn’t compromise, so I have no choice but to attack.” The Interior Minister created the foundation for this argument by saying that the protestors were radical and unreasonable, and that force was the only option.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 25, 2014 @ 5:05 pm


    A popular blogger, Ilya Varlamov (zyalt), has translated his Kiev reports into English. Very informative: he does a very good job trying not to take sides, which helps.

    Comment by LL — January 25, 2014 @ 9:31 pm

  27. SWP, it doesn’t matter – people see right through it.

    The game is for consumption by the West, to try to portray the sovok mafia thugs as reasonable.

    The EuroMaidan has resurrected an ancient Ukrainian custom – the віче, pronounced veecheh, or town meeting.

    The opposition leaders have quite a few times now taken propositions back to EuroMaidan and subjected them to the vote of the “town meeting.”

    After over 20 years of brutal sovok mafia life, the people of all ages are really, really fed up.

    There has been absolutely no trust of “government” for quite some time, for very good reasons.

    Meanwhile, additional regional centers have been taken over by the people.

    Comment by elmer — January 25, 2014 @ 9:43 pm

  28. Life in Ukraine

    A standard technique of sovoks is to go after people – and their attorneys.

    Thus, in the case of Yulia Tymoshenko, the sovok mafia has gone after her lawyer, Serge Vlasenko.

    How? Well, they got his ex-wife to bring up allegations of “beatings” and assorted other ills, and his ex-wife has even coached the kids to say the “right things.” The kids have been duly paraded in front of Ukrainian media.

    The allegations against Vlasenko by his ex-wife relate to alleged events that took place over 7 years ago!!!!! Those were kicked out of court, but they promptly brought new allegations by the ex-wife against Tymoshenko’s lawyer.

    There are several other criminal charges against Mrs. Tymoshenko, trumped up of course.

    And there has been a long-standing game of when court appearances will resume.

    Now, when Mrs. Tymoshenko is scheduled to appear in court, the judge has “suddenly become sick.” This necessitates canceling the court session of course.

    Why? Well, the sovok mafia has forbidden any journalist contact recently with Mrs. Tymoshenko.

    A court appearance runs the risk of communications with journalists.

    By the way, the sovok mafia thugs previously stripped Mr. Vlasenko of his parliamentary seat. Why? Because he was holding an “outside job.”

    This, of course, ignores all of the sovok mafia who hold outside positions in assorted beeznissez, which has never been addressed.

    In this case, the sudden sickness is being used to avoid press contact with Mrs. Tymoshenko.

    In other cases, sudden sickness was a standard technique for officials who wanted to avoid making a tough decision, or to avoid jail.

    Comment by elmer — January 25, 2014 @ 10:07 pm

  29. Another report from Zyalt in English – from the other side, so to speak.

    Comment by LL — January 26, 2014 @ 6:09 pm

  30. No, you’re quite deluded and greatly exaggerating Putin’s role.

    Surely Putin has been leaning on Yanukovich to crack down. That’s implied in practically every sentence of Russian news broadcasts on the story. But other than perhaps helping to persuade Yanukovich to push through the anti-protest law, Putin wasn’t involved in Yanukovich’s decision to escalate the violence.

    What you’re seeing is Yanukovich and his circle doing things the way they have always done them. The key figures are Yanukovich, Kluyev and Zakharchenko. Azarov is not an important figure at all and had nothing to do with the escalation, though he’s the kind of guy who would support it.

    The real escalation from Yanukovich’s side was the frequent kidnappings of protesters. Many are missing, two have been found dead. There was also apparently a sniper at work during the peak of the protests, who shot dead two protesters. The riot police battling protesters also targeted protesters and journalists in the eye with rubber bullets. Before the escalation there was a brutal beating of journalist Tetyana Chornovol, carried out by gang members. None of this is really new or unexpected from Yanukovich, who is well known to have strongly supported using live bullets during the 2004 protests.

    Comment by Tom — January 27, 2014 @ 5:29 am

  31. Tom, it appears you didn’t read the post or the comments. You simply showed up to troll and to show your ass. Congratulations.

    Comment by L2 — January 27, 2014 @ 9:19 pm

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