UKRAINE CRISIS – Important INFORMATION – WICHTIGE INFORMATION!

“Despite far-right parties ultimately losing seats in Parliament, ultranationalist movements successfully shifted the country’s politics to the extreme right, with Poroshenko and other centrists backing measures to marginalize the speaking of Russian and glorify Nazi collaborators. Even so, far-right candidates have entered Parliament on non-far-right tickets, and extremists like former Azov commander Andriy Biletsky have taken high-ranking law enforcement positions. While far-right vigilantism spread through the country, Poroshenko himself granted citizenship to a Belarusian neo-Nazi and engaged in some borderline anti-Semitism of his own.”

A US-Backed, Far Right–Led Revolution in Ukraine Helped Bring Us to the Brink of War

By Branko Marcetic

In 2014 Ukraine, great power gamesmanship, righteous anger at a corrupt status quo, and opportunistic far-right extremists toppled the government in the Maidan Revolution. Today’s crisis in Ukraine can’t be understood without understanding Maidan.

t’s January. A defiant crowd of protesters, a jumble of bodies where far-right extremists rub shoulders with everyday people, wants the head of the elected president. They chant anti-government slogans, occupy government buildings, and carry arms — some of them makeshift melee weapons, some of them hunting rifles and Kalashnikovs. By the time it’s all said and done, the demonstrations will lead to the death and hospitalization of both protesters and police.

It’s not the Capitol riot in Washington that so horrified Americans and foreign observers in 2021. This was the Ukrainian Maidan Revolution (or Euromaidan), which right around this time eight years ago actually succeeded in toppling the country’s elected government, sending then president Viktor Yanukovych fleeing for his life to neighboring Russia.

Nearly a decade on, the 2014 Revolution of Dignity, as it’s known in Ukraine, remains one of the more widely misunderstood episodes of recent history. Yet understanding it is critical to understanding the ongoing standoff over Ukraine, which can largely be traced back to this polarizing event — depending on who you ask, an inspiring liberal revolution or a far-right coup d’état.

Great Power Groundwork for Rebellion

Like today’s Russia-NATO tensions more broadly, at the heart of the Maidan protests was the push by some Western governments, especially the United States, to isolate Russia by supporting the integration of peripheral parts of the former Soviet Union into European and Atlantic institutions — and Moscow’s pushback against what it saw as an encroachment on its sphere of influence.

In 2014, the man forced to navigate these tensions, Viktor Yanukovych, was taking his second crack at the Ukrainian presidency. He had first been ousted after the 2004 Orange Revolution that followed widespread charges of vote-rigging in the election that brought him to power. Before running again six years later, Yanukovych had worked to rebuild his reputation, becoming the country’s most trusted politician.

By 2010, international monitors had declared the most recent election free and fair, an “impressive display” of democracy, even. But once in power, Yanukovych’s rule was again marred by widespread corruption, authoritarianism, and, for some, an uncomfortable friendliness to Moscow, which had made no secret of its backing him in the previous election. The fact that Ukraine was starkly divided between a more Europe-friendly West and Center and a more pro-Russia East — the same lines that largely determined the election — only added to the complication.

Yanukovych was in a tricky spot. Ukraine relied on cheap gas from Russia, but a plurality of the country — not, crucially, an absolute majority — still wanted European integration. His political career was caught in the same bind: with his party formally allied to Vladimir Putin’s own United Russia party, his pro-Russia base wanted to see closer relations with its neighbor; but the oligarchs who were the real reason he had gotten anywhere near the presidency were financially entangled with the West, and they feared competition to their grip on the country from across the Russian border. All the while, two geopolitical powers in the form of Washington and Moscow hoped to use these cleavages to draw the country into their respective orbits.Nearly a decade on, the Maidan Revolution remains one of the more widely misunderstood episodes of recent history.

So, for four years, Yanukovych toed a fine line. He pleased his base with symbolic and cultural measures, like talk of unity or cooperation with Moscow in key industries — even if much of it went nowhere — along with more serious steps like making Russian an official language, rejecting NATO membership, and reversing his pro-Western predecessor’s move to glorify Nazi collaborators as national heroes in school curricula.

His biggest sop to Moscow, though, came early in his term, when he struck a deal letting the Russian Black Sea Fleet use Crimea as a base until 2042, in exchange for discounted Russian gas. Its hurried passage was marked by fistfights and smoke bombs in the Ukrainian parliament.

For all the charges then and since that he was a Kremlin puppet, though, there was a hard ceiling to Yanukovych’s eastward turn. His noncommittal stance on joining a Russian-led customs union of former Soviet republics, even when Putin dangled the prospect of even cheaper gas prices, frustrated Moscow. So did his outright rejection of Putin’s proposal to merge the two nations’ respective state-owned gas giants, effectively handing Moscow control of the Ukrainian pipelines it used to ferry almost all of its gas exports to Europe. In turn, Moscow refused to renegotiate the hated and one-sided 2009 gas contract between the two that had been struck by the last Ukrainian government. https://0ff1271af0861306b6666574a8a6e38e.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Meanwhile, Yanukovych worked with and publicly encouraged Western involvement in updating Ukraine’s natural gas infrastructure and insisted again and again that “European integration is the key priority of our foreign policy.” He kept working toward European Union membership, and to that end pursued a free trade agreement with the EU as well as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan the West urged him to take.

That financial lifeline came with a heavy price familiar to the many poor countries that have turned to the West for bailouts: the elimination of tariffs, a wage and pension freeze, spending cuts, and the end of gas subsidies to Ukrainian households. The grim potential of such Western-imposed austerity, on display for all to see in Greece at the time, was presumably worth it to Yanukovych if it kept Moscow’s nose out of his business.

It was all this that led the liberal Brookings Institution to describe Yanukovych’s foreign policy as “more nuanced” than his pro-Russian leanings had first suggested. It was also what wound up sealing his fate.

To halt this drift to the West, Putin performed a one-man good-cop, bad-cop routine, offering Yanukovych a no-strings-attached loan the same size as the IMF’s, while squeezing him with what amounted to a mini–trade blockade. With the EU failing to offer anything that would match the catastrophic loss of trade with Russia that Ukraine was looking at, Yanukovych made the calculated choice to go with Moscow’s offer. In November, he abruptly reneged on the EU deal, sparking the protests that would topple him from power.

Axis of Convenience

While the deal’s rejection was the spark — with protesters crying “treason” and chanting “Ukraine is Europe” — the protests were about much more. As one Kyiv resident told the press, “If the deal is signed now, I won’t leave the protest.”

Demonstrators were fed up with the nepotism and corruption that pervaded Ukrainian society — one of Yanukovych’s sons is a dentist who somehow ended up among the country’s wealthiest men, another was an MP — as well as the increasingly authoritarian nature of Yanukovych’s rule. In fact, the other major sticking point for the deal was Europe’s demand that Yanukovych’s leading rival be released from prison over trumped-up charges, which he resisted.

Yanukovych’s response to the movement only further doomed him, first with a brutal crackdown in November that saw riot police violently disperse protesters from Kyiv’s Maidan (or Independence Square, in Ukrainian), then ramming through a set of oppressive anti-protest laws in January. Both moves only drew more people to take part, with state violence against the protesters and their release from prison becoming, respectively, the leading motivator and demand of participants by December.

But righteous though their cause may have been, the movement’s critics had a point, too. For one thing, the Maidan protests didn’t have majority support, with the Ukrainian public split along the regional and sociocultural lines that have long defined so many of the country’s political difficulties. While the western regions — where most of the protesters came from, and which had historically been ruled by other countries, some as late as 1939 — backed the protests, the Russian-speaking East, ruled by Russia since the seventeenth century, were alienated by their explicit anti-Russian nationalism, especially only one year out from the chance to vote Yanukovych out.Demonstrators were fed up with the nepotism and corruption that pervaded Ukrainian society.

And they were resorting to force. Whatever one thinks of the Maidan protests, the increasing violence of those involved was key to their ultimate victory. In response to a brutal police crackdown, protesters began fighting with chains, sticks, stones, petrol bombs, even a bulldozer — and, eventually, firearms, all culminating in what was effectively an armed battle in February, which left thirteen police officers and nearly fifty protesters dead. The police “could no longer defend themselves’ from protesters’ attacks,” writes political scientist Sergiy Kudelia, causing them to retreat, and precipitating Yanukovych’s exit.

The driver of this violence was largely the Ukrainian far right, which, while a minority of the protesters, served as a kind of revolutionary vanguard. Looking outside Kyiv, a systematic analysis of more than 3,000 Maidan protests found that members of the far-right Svoboda party — whose leader once complained Ukraine was run by a “Muscovite-Jewish mafia” and which includes a politician who admires Joseph Goebbels — were the most active agents in the protests. They were also more likely to take part in violent actions than any group but one: Right Sector, a collection of far-right activists that traces its lineage to genocidal Nazi collaborators.

Svoboda used its considerable resources, which included thousands of ideologically committed activists, party coffers, and the power and prominence afforded to it as a parliamentary party, to mobilize and keep the protests alive, while eventually leading the occupation of key government buildings in both Kyiv and the western regions. This was particularly the case in the western city of Lviv, where protesters took over a regional administration building that soon came to be partially controlled and guarded by far-right paramilitaries. There, they declared a “people’s council” that “proclaimed Svoboda-dominated local councils and their executive committees the only legitimate bodies in the region,” writes Volodymyr Ishchenko, fueling the crisis of legitimacy that ended in Yanukovych’s ouster.

But this was by no means limited to Ukraine’s West. Right Sector led the January 19 attacks on police in Kyiv that even opposition leaders criticized, with one protester saying the far-right bloc had “breathed new life into these protests.” Andriy Parubiy, the unofficial “commander of Maidan,” founded the Social-National Party of Ukraine — a barely even winking allusion to Nazism — that later became Svoboda. By January 2014, even NBC was admitting that “right-wing militia-type toughs are now one of the strongest factions leading Ukraine’s protests.” What was meant to be a revolution for democracy and liberal values ended up featuring ultranationalist chants from the 1930s and prominent displays of fascist and white supremacist symbols, including the American Confederate flag.

January 6 in February

The far right, of course, cared nothing for democracy, nor did it have any love for the EU. Instead, the popular uprising was an opportunity. Dmytro Yarosh, the Right Sector leader, had urged his compatriots in 2009 to “start an armed struggle against the regime of internal occupation and Moscow’s empire” if pro-Russian forces took control. As early as March 2013, Tryzub, one of the organizations that formed Right Sector, had called for the Ukrainian opposition to move “from a peaceful demonstration to a street-revolutionary plane.”

They may also have played an even more sinister role in the events that unfolded. One enduring mystery of the Maidan Revolution is who was behind the February 20 sniper killings that set off the final, most bloody stage of protests, with accusations against everyone from government forces and the Kremlin to US-backed mercenaries. Without precluding these possibilities, there’s now considerable evidence that the same far-right forces who piggybacked on the protesters’ cause were also at least among the forces firing that night.

At the time, men resembling protesters had been witnessed shooting from protester-controlled buildings in the capital, and multiple Maidan medics had said the bullet wounds in police and protesters looked to have come from the same weapon. A Maidan protester later admitted to killing two officers and wounding others on the day, and crates of empty Kalashnikov bullets were found in the protester-occupied Ukraina Hotel, the same place a decorated military pilot and anti-Russian resistance hero later said she had seen an opposition MP leading snipers to. The government’s investigation, meanwhile, which focused only on the protester murders, started out filled with serious flaws and irregularities.

The University of Ottowa’s Ivan Katchanovski has analyzed evidence that’s come out in the course of the investigation and trial into the murders. According to Katchanovski, a majority of wounded protesters testified they either saw snipers in protester-controlled buildings or were shot by bullets coming from their direction, testimony backed by forensic examinations. Closure on the matter is unlikely, though, since the post-Yanukovych interim government, in which leading far-right figures took prominent positions, swiftly passed a law giving Maidan participants immunity for any violence.The far right cared nothing for democracy, nor did it have any love for the EU. Instead, the popular uprising was an opportunity.

For a brief period, it looked like the spiraling crisis might actually be resolved peacefully, when Yanukovych and opposition parties signed a Europe-brokered deal the next day on February 21, agreeing to scale back the president’s powers and hold new elections that December. But the deal was met with outrage from the increasingly militant street movement.

Thousands stayed in Maidan demanding Yanukovych’s exit, booing the now apologetic opposition leaders for signing the agreement. Protesters decried the deal as not enough, some gathering near Parliament, and demanded Yanukovych’s resignation and prosecution. They cheered as an ultranationalist threatened an armed overthrow if Yanukovych wasn’t gone by morning. (That speaker was later elected an MP, where he joined a far-right party and made a habit of physically assaulting his opponents).

“If I was [President Yanukovych], I would try and flee the country,” said one protester in Lviv, where hundreds had gathered in the wake of the deal’s signing. “Otherwise, he’ll end up like [Muammar] Gaddafi or with a life sentence or the electric chair. He will not leave the country alive.”

Panic gripped the capital. Rumors swirled that the hundreds of firearms seized days earlier by protesters raiding police stations in Lviv were on their way to Kyiv for a final, bloody stage to the insurrection. When Yanukovych’s own party voted to order troops and police to their barracks, both security forces and, subsequently, Yanukovych flew the city, expecting bloodshed.

The day after the deal was signed, Parliament ratified what was effectively an insurrection, voting to strip the presidency from Yanukovych, to the praise of the US ambassador. Protesters stood outside Parliament and attacked an MP from Yanukovych’s party, before overrunning the presidential palace. A prominent rabbi urged Jews to leave the city and even the country, while the Israeli embassy advised them to stay inside their homes.

Free Market Democracy Promotion

There’s one more critical piece to the Euromaidan puzzle: the role of Western governments.

For decades, Washington and allied governments have pursued their strategic and economic interests under the cover of promoting democracy and liberal values abroad. Sometimes that’s meant funneling money to violent reactionaries like the Nicaraguan contras, and sometimes it’s meant supporting benign pro-democracy movements like those in Ukraine.

“External actors have always played an important role in shaping and supporting civil society in Ukraine,” Ukrainian scholar Iryna Solonenko wrote in 2015, pointing to the EU and the United States, through agencies like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and US Agency for International Development (USAID), whose Kyiv headquarters were in the same compound as the US embassy. “One can argue that without this external support, which has been the major source of funding for Ukrainian civil society since independence, Ukrainian civil society would not have become what it now is.”

This was the case in the 2004–5 Orange Revolution, where foreign NGOs changed little about Ukraine’s corruption and authoritarianism, but achieved the crucial goal of nudging Ukraine’s foreign policy westward. As the liberal Center for American Progress put it that year:

Did Americans meddle in the internal affairs of Ukraine? Yes. The American agents of influence would prefer different language to describe their activities — democratic assistance, democracy promotion, civil society support, etc. — but their work, however labeled, seeks to influence political change in Ukraine.

US officials, unhappy with the scuttled EU deal, saw a similar chance in the Maidan protests. Just two months before they broke out, the NED’s then president, pointing to Yanukovych’s European outreach, wrote that “the opportunities are considerable, and there are important ways Washington could help.” In practice, this meant funding groups like New Citizen, which the Financial Times reported “played a big role in getting the protest up and running,” led by a pro-EU opposition figure. Journalist Mark Ames discovered the organization had received hundreds of thousands of dollars from US democracy promotion initiatives.

While it may be a long time before we know its full extent, Washington took an even more direct role once the turmoil started. Senators John McCain and Chris Murphy met with Svoboda’s fascist leader, standing shoulder to shoulder with him as they announced their support to the protesters, while US assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland handed out sandwiches to them. To understand the provocative nature of such moves, you only need to remember the establishment outrage over the mere idea Moscow had used troll farms to voice support for Black Lives Matter protests.

Later, a leaked phone call showed Nuland and the US ambassador to Ukraine maneuvering to shape the post-Maidan government. “Fuck the EU,” Nuland told him, over its less aggressive intervention into the country. “Yats is the guy who’s got the economic experience,” she said, referring to opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who backed the devastating neoliberal policies demanded by the West. You can probably guess who became prime minister in the post-Maidan interim government.

It’s an overstatement to say, as some critics have charged, that Washington orchestrated the Maidan uprising. But there’s no doubt US officials backed and exploited it for their own ends.

Revolution Unfulfilled

Much as in 2004, the outcome of the Maidan Revolution, through no fault of the majority of well-meaning, frustrated Ukrainians who had helped drive Yanukovych out, was neither peace and stability, nor a move toward liberal values and democracy. In fact, almost all of the protesters’ demands have gone unfulfilled.

The same far right that had led the charge in toppling Yanukovych, including Parubiy, found themselves with plum roles in the interim government that followed, while the winner of the 2014 snap presidential election — Ukraine’s seventh-richest man, Petro Poroshenko — had a history of corruption. His interior minister soon incorporated the Azov Regiment, a neo-Nazi militia, into Ukraine’s National Guard, with the country now a Mecca for far-right extremists around the world, who come to learn and get training from Azov — including, ironically, Russian white supremacists who were hounded from their country by Putin.

Despite far-right parties ultimately losing seats in Parliament, ultranationalist movements successfully shifted the country’s politics to the extreme right, with Poroshenko and other centrists backing measures to marginalize the speaking of Russian and glorify Nazi collaborators. Even so, far-right candidates have entered Parliament on non-far-right tickets, and extremists like former Azov commander Andriy Biletsky have taken high-ranking law enforcement positions. While far-right vigilantism spread through the country, Poroshenko himself granted citizenship to a Belarusian neo-Nazi and engaged in some borderline anti-Semitism of his own.There’s no doubt US officials backed and exploited Euromaidan for their own ends.

Little to nothing has changed about Ukrainian corruption or authoritarianism, under either Poroshenko or current president Volodymyr Zelensky, elected in 2019 as an outsider change agent. Each has governed like an autocrat, using their powers to go after political opponents and weaken dissent, and have been embroiled in personal enrichment scandals that remain endemic to the Ukrainian political class.

Not that it stopped either from being feted by Washington and flooded with American support. In fact, this new imperial patron has only added to these problems, with the current US president’s family being personally embroiled in one of the country’s major corruption scandals, before using his position to install a markedly corrupt prosecutor general.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s been embroiled in a mini–civil war since Maidan. After Putin moved to secure the Crimean naval base from NATO control, using the Russian military presence and a dubious referendum to illegally annex the majority-Russian region shortly after Yanukovych’s exit, pro-Russian separatists began mobilizing in the country’s east, first into protest, then into armed groups. After the interim government sent armed forces to put down the rebellion, Moscow sent its own troops in, and the entire region has been a deadly powder keg ever since.

But one crucial thing did change. With Yanukovych out, the interim government and Washington’s handpicked prime minister signed the EU deal whose rejection had started it all, solidifying Ukraine’s move to the West, and ushering in the brutal austerity measures demanded by the IMF. Over the years, Yanukovych’s successor signed off on a round of privatization, raised the pension age, and slashed gas subsidies, urged on by then vice president Joe Biden. Unsurprisingly, angry Ukrainians both voted with their feet and threw him out in a landslide.

Shadows and Lies

The 2014 revolution in Ukraine was an enormously complicated affair. Yet for most Western observers, many of its basic, well-documented facts have been either excised to push a simplistic, black-and-white narrative, or cast as misinformation and propaganda, like the crucial role of the far right in the revolution.

In truth, the Maidan Revolution remains a messy event that isn’t easy to categorize but is far from what Western audiences have been led to believe. It’s a story of liberal, pro-Western protesters, driven by legitimate grievances but largely drawn from only one-half of a polarized country, entering a temporary marriage of convenience with the far right to carry out an insurrection against a corrupt, authoritarian president. The tragedy is that it served largely to empower literal neo-Nazis while enacting only the goals of the Western powers that opportunistically lent their support — among which was the geopolitical equivalent of a predatory payday loan.

It’s a story tragically common in post–Cold War Europe, of a country maimed and torn apart when its political and social divisions were used and wrenched further apart in the tussle of great power rivalry. And the Western failure to understand it has led us to a point where Washington continues to recklessly involve itself in a place full of shadowy motives, shifting allegiances, and where little is what it seems on the surface.

Western involvement helped bring the country to this crisis. There’s little reason to think it’ll now get it out.

t’s January. A defiant crowd of protesters, a jumble of bodies where far-right extremists rub shoulders with everyday people, wants the head of the elected president. They chant anti-government slogans, occupy government buildings, and carry arms — some of them makeshift melee weapons, some of them hunting rifles and Kalashnikovs. By the time it’s all said and done, the demonstrations will lead to the death and hospitalization of both protesters and police.

It’s not the Capitol riot in Washington that so horrified Americans and foreign observers in 2021. This was the Ukrainian Maidan Revolution (or Euromaidan), which right around this time eight years ago actually succeeded in toppling the country’s elected government, sending then president Viktor Yanukovych fleeing for his life to neighboring Russia.

Nearly a decade on, the 2014 Revolution of Dignity, as it’s known in Ukraine, remains one of the more widely misunderstood episodes of recent history. Yet understanding it is critical to understanding the ongoing standoff over Ukraine, which can largely be traced back to this polarizing event — depending on who you ask, an inspiring liberal revolution or a far-right coup d’état.

Great Power Groundwork for Rebellion

Like today’s Russia-NATO tensions more broadly, at the heart of the Maidan protests was the push by some Western governments, especially the United States, to isolate Russia by supporting the integration of peripheral parts of the former Soviet Union into European and Atlantic institutions — and Moscow’s pushback against what it saw as an encroachment on its sphere of influence.

In 2014, the man forced to navigate these tensions, Viktor Yanukovych, was taking his second crack at the Ukrainian presidency. He had first been ousted after the 2004 Orange Revolution that followed widespread charges of vote-rigging in the election that brought him to power. Before running again six years later, Yanukovych had worked to rebuild his reputation, becoming the country’s most trusted politician.

By 2010, international monitors had declared the most recent election free and fair, an “impressive display” of democracy, even. But once in power, Yanukovych’s rule was again marred by widespread corruption, authoritarianism, and, for some, an uncomfortable friendliness to Moscow, which had made no secret of its backing him in the previous election. The fact that Ukraine was starkly divided between a more Europe-friendly West and Center and a more pro-Russia East — the same lines that largely determined the election — only added to the complication.

Yanukovych was in a tricky spot. Ukraine relied on cheap gas from Russia, but a plurality of the country — not, crucially, an absolute majority — still wanted European integration. His political career was caught in the same bind: with his party formally allied to Vladimir Putin’s own United Russia party, his pro-Russia base wanted to see closer relations with its neighbor; but the oligarchs who were the real reason he had gotten anywhere near the presidency were financially entangled with the West, and they feared competition to their grip on the country from across the Russian border. All the while, two geopolitical powers in the form of Washington and Moscow hoped to use these cleavages to draw the country into their respective orbits.Nearly a decade on, the Maidan Revolution remains one of the more widely misunderstood episodes of recent history.

So, for four years, Yanukovych toed a fine line. He pleased his base with symbolic and cultural measures, like talk of unity or cooperation with Moscow in key industries — even if much of it went nowhere — along with more serious steps like making Russian an official language, rejecting NATO membership, and reversing his pro-Western predecessor’s move to glorify Nazi collaborators as national heroes in school curricula.

His biggest sop to Moscow, though, came early in his term, when he struck a deal letting the Russian Black Sea Fleet use Crimea as a base until 2042, in exchange for discounted Russian gas. Its hurried passage was marked by fistfights and smoke bombs in the Ukrainian parliament.

For all the charges then and since that he was a Kremlin puppet, though, there was a hard ceiling to Yanukovych’s eastward turn. His noncommittal stance on joining a Russian-led customs union of former Soviet republics, even when Putin dangled the prospect of even cheaper gas prices, frustrated Moscow. So did his outright rejection of Putin’s proposal to merge the two nations’ respective state-owned gas giants, effectively handing Moscow control of the Ukrainian pipelines it used to ferry almost all of its gas exports to Europe. In turn, Moscow refused to renegotiate the hated and one-sided 2009 gas contract between the two that had been struck by the last Ukrainian government. https://0ff1271af0861306b6666574a8a6e38e.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Meanwhile, Yanukovych worked with and publicly encouraged Western involvement in updating Ukraine’s natural gas infrastructure and insisted again and again that “European integration is the key priority of our foreign policy.” He kept working toward European Union membership, and to that end pursued a free trade agreement with the EU as well as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan the West urged him to take.

That financial lifeline came with a heavy price familiar to the many poor countries that have turned to the West for bailouts: the elimination of tariffs, a wage and pension freeze, spending cuts, and the end of gas subsidies to Ukrainian households. The grim potential of such Western-imposed austerity, on display for all to see in Greece at the time, was presumably worth it to Yanukovych if it kept Moscow’s nose out of his business.

It was all this that led the liberal Brookings Institution to describe Yanukovych’s foreign policy as “more nuanced” than his pro-Russian leanings had first suggested. It was also what wound up sealing his fate.

To halt this drift to the West, Putin performed a one-man good-cop, bad-cop routine, offering Yanukovych a no-strings-attached loan the same size as the IMF’s, while squeezing him with what amounted to a mini–trade blockade. With the EU failing to offer anything that would match the catastrophic loss of trade with Russia that Ukraine was looking at, Yanukovych made the calculated choice to go with Moscow’s offer. In November, he abruptly reneged on the EU deal, sparking the protests that would topple him from power.

Axis of Convenience

While the deal’s rejection was the spark — with protesters crying “treason” and chanting “Ukraine is Europe” — the protests were about much more. As one Kyiv resident told the press, “If the deal is signed now, I won’t leave the protest.”

Demonstrators were fed up with the nepotism and corruption that pervaded Ukrainian society — one of Yanukovych’s sons is a dentist who somehow ended up among the country’s wealthiest men, another was an MP — as well as the increasingly authoritarian nature of Yanukovych’s rule. In fact, the other major sticking point for the deal was Europe’s demand that Yanukovych’s leading rival be released from prison over trumped-up charges, which he resisted.

Yanukovych’s response to the movement only further doomed him, first with a brutal crackdown in November that saw riot police violently disperse protesters from Kyiv’s Maidan (or Independence Square, in Ukrainian), then ramming through a set of oppressive anti-protest laws in January. Both moves only drew more people to take part, with state violence against the protesters and their release from prison becoming, respectively, the leading motivator and demand of participants by December.

But righteous though their cause may have been, the movement’s critics had a point, too. For one thing, the Maidan protests didn’t have majority support, with the Ukrainian public split along the regional and sociocultural lines that have long defined so many of the country’s political difficulties. While the western regions — where most of the protesters came from, and which had historically been ruled by other countries, some as late as 1939 — backed the protests, the Russian-speaking East, ruled by Russia since the seventeenth century, were alienated by their explicit anti-Russian nationalism, especially only one year out from the chance to vote Yanukovych out.Demonstrators were fed up with the nepotism and corruption that pervaded Ukrainian society.

And they were resorting to force. Whatever one thinks of the Maidan protests, the increasing violence of those involved was key to their ultimate victory. In response to a brutal police crackdown, protesters began fighting with chains, sticks, stones, petrol bombs, even a bulldozer — and, eventually, firearms, all culminating in what was effectively an armed battle in February, which left thirteen police officers and nearly fifty protesters dead. The police “could no longer defend themselves’ from protesters’ attacks,” writes political scientist Sergiy Kudelia, causing them to retreat, and precipitating Yanukovych’s exit.

The driver of this violence was largely the Ukrainian far right, which, while a minority of the protesters, served as a kind of revolutionary vanguard. Looking outside Kyiv, a systematic analysis of more than 3,000 Maidan protests found that members of the far-right Svoboda party — whose leader once complained Ukraine was run by a “Muscovite-Jewish mafia” and which includes a politician who admires Joseph Goebbels — were the most active agents in the protests. They were also more likely to take part in violent actions than any group but one: Right Sector, a collection of far-right activists that traces its lineage to genocidal Nazi collaborators.

Svoboda used its considerable resources, which included thousands of ideologically committed activists, party coffers, and the power and prominence afforded to it as a parliamentary party, to mobilize and keep the protests alive, while eventually leading the occupation of key government buildings in both Kyiv and the western regions. This was particularly the case in the western city of Lviv, where protesters took over a regional administration building that soon came to be partially controlled and guarded by far-right paramilitaries. There, they declared a “people’s council” that “proclaimed Svoboda-dominated local councils and their executive committees the only legitimate bodies in the region,” writes Volodymyr Ishchenko, fueling the crisis of legitimacy that ended in Yanukovych’s ouster.

But this was by no means limited to Ukraine’s West. Right Sector led the January 19 attacks on police in Kyiv that even opposition leaders criticized, with one protester saying the far-right bloc had “breathed new life into these protests.” Andriy Parubiy, the unofficial “commander of Maidan,” founded the Social-National Party of Ukraine — a barely even winking allusion to Nazism — that later became Svoboda. By January 2014, even NBC was admitting that “right-wing militia-type toughs are now one of the strongest factions leading Ukraine’s protests.” What was meant to be a revolution for democracy and liberal values ended up featuring ultranationalist chants from the 1930s and prominent displays of fascist and white supremacist symbols, including the American Confederate flag.

January 6 in February

The far right, of course, cared nothing for democracy, nor did it have any love for the EU. Instead, the popular uprising was an opportunity. Dmytro Yarosh, the Right Sector leader, had urged his compatriots in 2009 to “start an armed struggle against the regime of internal occupation and Moscow’s empire” if pro-Russian forces took control. As early as March 2013, Tryzub, one of the organizations that formed Right Sector, had called for the Ukrainian opposition to move “from a peaceful demonstration to a street-revolutionary plane.”

They may also have played an even more sinister role in the events that unfolded. One enduring mystery of the Maidan Revolution is who was behind the February 20 sniper killings that set off the final, most bloody stage of protests, with accusations against everyone from government forces and the Kremlin to US-backed mercenaries. Without precluding these possibilities, there’s now considerable evidence that the same far-right forces who piggybacked on the protesters’ cause were also at least among the forces firing that night.

At the time, men resembling protesters had been witnessed shooting from protester-controlled buildings in the capital, and multiple Maidan medics had said the bullet wounds in police and protesters looked to have come from the same weapon. A Maidan protester later admitted to killing two officers and wounding others on the day, and crates of empty Kalashnikov bullets were found in the protester-occupied Ukraina Hotel, the same place a decorated military pilot and anti-Russian resistance hero later said she had seen an opposition MP leading snipers to. The government’s investigation, meanwhile, which focused only on the protester murders, started out filled with serious flaws and irregularities.

The University of Ottowa’s Ivan Katchanovski has analyzed evidence that’s come out in the course of the investigation and trial into the murders. According to Katchanovski, a majority of wounded protesters testified they either saw snipers in protester-controlled buildings or were shot by bullets coming from their direction, testimony backed by forensic examinations. Closure on the matter is unlikely, though, since the post-Yanukovych interim government, in which leading far-right figures took prominent positions, swiftly passed a law giving Maidan participants immunity for any violence.The far right cared nothing for democracy, nor did it have any love for the EU. Instead, the popular uprising was an opportunity.

For a brief period, it looked like the spiraling crisis might actually be resolved peacefully, when Yanukovych and opposition parties signed a Europe-brokered deal the next day on February 21, agreeing to scale back the president’s powers and hold new elections that December. But the deal was met with outrage from the increasingly militant street movement.

Thousands stayed in Maidan demanding Yanukovych’s exit, booing the now apologetic opposition leaders for signing the agreement. Protesters decried the deal as not enough, some gathering near Parliament, and demanded Yanukovych’s resignation and prosecution. They cheered as an ultranationalist threatened an armed overthrow if Yanukovych wasn’t gone by morning. (That speaker was later elected an MP, where he joined a far-right party and made a habit of physically assaulting his opponents).

“If I was [President Yanukovych], I would try and flee the country,” said one protester in Lviv, where hundreds had gathered in the wake of the deal’s signing. “Otherwise, he’ll end up like [Muammar] Gaddafi or with a life sentence or the electric chair. He will not leave the country alive.”

Panic gripped the capital. Rumors swirled that the hundreds of firearms seized days earlier by protesters raiding police stations in Lviv were on their way to Kyiv for a final, bloody stage to the insurrection. When Yanukovych’s own party voted to order troops and police to their barracks, both security forces and, subsequently, Yanukovych flew the city, expecting bloodshed.

The day after the deal was signed, Parliament ratified what was effectively an insurrection, voting to strip the presidency from Yanukovych, to the praise of the US ambassador. Protesters stood outside Parliament and attacked an MP from Yanukovych’s party, before overrunning the presidential palace. A prominent rabbi urged Jews to leave the city and even the country, while the Israeli embassy advised them to stay inside their homes.

Free Market Democracy Promotion

There’s one more critical piece to the Euromaidan puzzle: the role of Western governments.

For decades, Washington and allied governments have pursued their strategic and economic interests under the cover of promoting democracy and liberal values abroad. Sometimes that’s meant funneling money to violent reactionaries like the Nicaraguan contras, and sometimes it’s meant supporting benign pro-democracy movements like those in Ukraine.

“External actors have always played an important role in shaping and supporting civil society in Ukraine,” Ukrainian scholar Iryna Solonenko wrote in 2015, pointing to the EU and the United States, through agencies like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and US Agency for International Development (USAID), whose Kyiv headquarters were in the same compound as the US embassy. “One can argue that without this external support, which has been the major source of funding for Ukrainian civil society since independence, Ukrainian civil society would not have become what it now is.”

This was the case in the 2004–5 Orange Revolution, where foreign NGOs changed little about Ukraine’s corruption and authoritarianism, but achieved the crucial goal of nudging Ukraine’s foreign policy westward. As the liberal Center for American Progress put it that year:

Did Americans meddle in the internal affairs of Ukraine? Yes. The American agents of influence would prefer different language to describe their activities — democratic assistance, democracy promotion, civil society support, etc. — but their work, however labeled, seeks to influence political change in Ukraine.

US officials, unhappy with the scuttled EU deal, saw a similar chance in the Maidan protests. Just two months before they broke out, the NED’s then president, pointing to Yanukovych’s European outreach, wrote that “the opportunities are considerable, and there are important ways Washington could help.” In practice, this meant funding groups like New Citizen, which the Financial Times reported “played a big role in getting the protest up and running,” led by a pro-EU opposition figure. Journalist Mark Ames discovered the organization had received hundreds of thousands of dollars from US democracy promotion initiatives.

While it may be a long time before we know its full extent, Washington took an even more direct role once the turmoil started. Senators John McCain and Chris Murphy met with Svoboda’s fascist leader, standing shoulder to shoulder with him as they announced their support to the protesters, while US assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland handed out sandwiches to them. To understand the provocative nature of such moves, you only need to remember the establishment outrage over the mere idea Moscow had used troll farms to voice support for Black Lives Matter protests.

Later, a leaked phone call showed Nuland and the US ambassador to Ukraine maneuvering to shape the post-Maidan government. “Fuck the EU,” Nuland told him, over its less aggressive intervention into the country. “Yats is the guy who’s got the economic experience,” she said, referring to opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who backed the devastating neoliberal policies demanded by the West. You can probably guess who became prime minister in the post-Maidan interim government.

It’s an overstatement to say, as some critics have charged, that Washington orchestrated the Maidan uprising. But there’s no doubt US officials backed and exploited it for their own ends.

Revolution Unfulfilled

Much as in 2004, the outcome of the Maidan Revolution, through no fault of the majority of well-meaning, frustrated Ukrainians who had helped drive Yanukovych out, was neither peace and stability, nor a move toward liberal values and democracy. In fact, almost all of the protesters’ demands have gone unfulfilled.

The same far right that had led the charge in toppling Yanukovych, including Parubiy, found themselves with plum roles in the interim government that followed, while the winner of the 2014 snap presidential election — Ukraine’s seventh-richest man, Petro Poroshenko — had a history of corruption. His interior minister soon incorporated the Azov Regiment, a neo-Nazi militia, into Ukraine’s National Guard, with the country now a Mecca for far-right extremists around the world, who come to learn and get training from Azov — including, ironically, Russian white supremacists who were hounded from their country by Putin.

Despite far-right parties ultimately losing seats in Parliament, ultranationalist movements successfully shifted the country’s politics to the extreme right, with Poroshenko and other centrists backing measures to marginalize the speaking of Russian and glorify Nazi collaborators. Even so, far-right candidates have entered Parliament on non-far-right tickets, and extremists like former Azov commander Andriy Biletsky have taken high-ranking law enforcement positions. While far-right vigilantism spread through the country, Poroshenko himself granted citizenship to a Belarusian neo-Nazi and engaged in some borderline anti-Semitism of his own.There’s no doubt US officials backed and exploited Euromaidan for their own ends.

Little to nothing has changed about Ukrainian corruption or authoritarianism, under either Poroshenko or current president Volodymyr Zelensky, elected in 2019 as an outsider change agent. Each has governed like an autocrat, using their powers to go after political opponents and weaken dissent, and have been embroiled in personal enrichment scandals that remain endemic to the Ukrainian political class.

Not that it stopped either from being feted by Washington and flooded with American support. In fact, this new imperial patron has only added to these problems, with the current US president’s family being personally embroiled in one of the country’s major corruption scandals, before using his position to install a markedly corrupt prosecutor general.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s been embroiled in a mini–civil war since Maidan. After Putin moved to secure the Crimean naval base from NATO control, using the Russian military presence and a dubious referendum to illegally annex the majority-Russian region shortly after Yanukovych’s exit, pro-Russian separatists began mobilizing in the country’s east, first into protest, then into armed groups. After the interim government sent armed forces to put down the rebellion, Moscow sent its own troops in, and the entire region has been a deadly powder keg ever since.

But one crucial thing did change. With Yanukovych out, the interim government and Washington’s handpicked prime minister signed the EU deal whose rejection had started it all, solidifying Ukraine’s move to the West, and ushering in the brutal austerity measures demanded by the IMF. Over the years, Yanukovych’s successor signed off on a round of privatization, raised the pension age, and slashed gas subsidies, urged on by then vice president Joe Biden. Unsurprisingly, angry Ukrainians both voted with their feet and threw him out in a landslide.

Shadows and Lies

The 2014 revolution in Ukraine was an enormously complicated affair. Yet for most Western observers, many of its basic, well-documented facts have been either excised to push a simplistic, black-and-white narrative, or cast as misinformation and propaganda, like the crucial role of the far right in the revolution.

In truth, the Maidan Revolution remains a messy event that isn’t easy to categorize but is far from what Western audiences have been led to believe. It’s a story of liberal, pro-Western protesters, driven by legitimate grievances but largely drawn from only one-half of a polarized country, entering a temporary marriage of convenience with the far right to carry out an insurrection against a corrupt, authoritarian president. The tragedy is that it served largely to empower literal neo-Nazis while enacting only the goals of the Western powers that opportunistically lent their support — among which was the geopolitical equivalent of a predatory payday loan.

It’s a story tragically common in post–Cold War Europe, of a country maimed and torn apart when its political and social divisions were used and wrenched further apart in the tussle of great power rivalry. And the Western failure to understand it has led us to a point where Washington continues to recklessly involve itself in a place full of shadowy motives, shifting allegiances, and where little is what it seems on the surface.

Western involvement helped bring the country to this crisis. There’s little reason to think it’ll now get it out.

A Ukrainian Sociologist Explains Why Everything You Know About Ukraine Is Probably Wrong

An interview with Volodymyr Ishchenko

The Ukraine crisis is extremely complex and little understood. Sociologist Volodymyr Ishchenko explains the crisis’s origins, the fictions that surround it, and why war is still far from inevitable.

If you’ve relied on establishment media to follow the events in Ukraine these past eight years, then chances are what you know is wrong. Despite — or, more likely, because — the tumult in Ukraine has reared its head prominently in both US foreign policy and its domestic politics these past few years, the country’s history and its ongoing internal conflicts have been some of the most propagandized for Western audiences.

Dr Volodymyr Ishchenko, a sociologist and research associate at the Institute for East European Studies, has spent years writing about Ukrainian politics, the country’s 2014 Euromaidan Revolution, and the messy intersection of protests, social movements, revolution, and nationalism. He recently spoke with Jacobin’s Branko Marcetic about what Western audiences need to understand about Ukraine and the ongoing international standoff over it.


BM

Why are Ukrainian officials and European governments taking such different stances on the question of the prospects for a Russian invasion than the United States and the UK? VI

Russian coercive diplomacy and the military buildups are just one part of this, because there are also parallel diplomatic actions. Another part is this media campaign about the imminent invasion, which has its own autonomous logic, is driven by different interests, and should not be taken as an objective reflection of Russian actions. It also has this reinforcing, escalating character. The primary target of this campaign is probably not even Russia or Ukraine, but Germany, which is supposed to be closer to its NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] allies.

Ukraine at first didn’t even notice this campaign in the Western media. It then tried to exploit the campaign by requesting more weapons and calling for preventive sanctions against Russia. It was only about two or three weeks ago that the Ukrainian government started to make very explicit statements that invasion is not really imminent, that we have been under Russian threat since 2014 and we’re used to this, and that according to their intelligence, this threat isn’t greater than it was in spring last year (during the earlier stage of the Russian buildup, which was done very publicly with very clear intentions).

This Western media campaign has had very material and negative consequences for the Ukrainian economy. The Ukrainian currency has started to be devalued, investors have started to leave — particularly in the Ukrainian real estate market — and the government has been quite scared that even without an actual invasion, the Ukrainian economy may get into quite serious trouble from this. But I wouldn’t take it as simply strategic deception. BM

Why is Ukraine such an important country, both to Russia, and to the West and the United States? VI

Economically, Ukraine is actually a big failure. If you look at the economic indicators, Ukraine is probably one of the very, very few countries in the world that has not reached its 1990 level of GDP per capita. There was a huge economic decline in the ’90s, and then Ukraine failed to grow like its Eastern European neighbors. We don’t live better than at the end of the Soviet Union, unlike Poland, for example, or even Russia or Belarus.

For Russia and for the United States, it’s a place through which natural gas is transported. There were some initiatives to have a three-party consortium: Russia as a supplier of gas, the European Union as consumer, and Ukraine as a transitory territory. These were torpedoed in the ’90s and 2000s, particularly by the Ukrainian side, and the result was that Russia just built several pipelines around Ukraine. The Nord Stream 2 is perhaps the most dangerous for Ukraine now, because it may make Ukrainian pipelines obsolete.

From a military point of view, Russia says that Ukraine may be important because if NATO starts to deploy offensive weapons, there are rockets that can reach Moscow in five minutes from Ukrainian territory. The Russian defensive strategy for centuries was expansion, in order to push its border as far west as possible, creating strategic depth, which led Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler’s invasions to fail — though contemporary wars are not waged in the same way as they were a half-century or two centuries ago.

For the United States, Ukraine is a potential hot spot against Russia. If Ukraine is creating tensions with Russia, it might weaken Russia and may deflect its resources, for example, in case of a Chinese escalation. Some people comment now quite cynically, “Why not let the Russians invade Ukraine, and let’s make Ukraine another Afghanistan for Russia?” Russia would spend a lot of resources, it would be hit with sanctions — probably Nord Stream would also be under sanctions — and it’s not that clear for how long Russia would survive a major escalation in Ukraine. That might be a reason why this war [in the Donbass region] has been going on for such a long time: there’s no actual interest in stopping it. There were several opportunities to do so in 2019 and 2015, and the US government didn’t do as much as they could. BM

What is the relationship between Ukraine and Russia, since the countries’ long and complicated history shapes so many of the political and cultural divisions of modern Ukraine? https://68b8e089632a682f746262bf9d6df165.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html VI

There’s nothing close to a consensus on this issue. Some people on the Left, such as some Ukrainian Marxists in the twentieth century, made the case that Ukraine was a Russian colony, and at least in the Russian Empire, it was exploited economically. That was a different story under the Soviet Union, when Ukraine was actually developed very quickly and ended up being one of the most developed parts of the country — one of the reasons why the post-Soviet crisis was so severe. Others would say that Ukraine was more like Scotland to England, and not even close to relations between Western metropoles and their colonies in Africa or Asia, or even between Russia and Central Asia, or Russia and Siberia.

For many Russians, Ukraine is part of their perception of the Russian nation. They simply could not imagine Russia without Ukraine. In the Russian Empire, there was this idea that Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians were three parts of the same people. And this narrative was recently reiterated by Vladimir Putin, in his article where he claimed Ukrainians and Russians are just one people, artificially divided.

This narrative has a long history in Russian imperial thought. From this perspective, you’d see relations between Ukraine and Russia as a competition of at least two nation-building projects. One would say Ukraine is not a part of Russia; Ukrainians are a separate people. This narrative is the most dominant in Ukraine right now. However, this nation-building project has not succeeded fully — despite three revolutions that had very strong nation-building content, which happened in 1990, 2004, and 2014. Another narrative would claim that Ukrainians are actually part of some bigger Eastern Slavic unity and this nation-building project wasn’t realized because of the weakness of modernization in the Russian Empire.

However, this discussion occupies just a small part of Ukrainian society, intellectuals especially. For regular Ukrainians, it’s not the salient question. According to polls conducted for the thirty years since Soviet independence, the questions of jobs, wages, and prices have been at the top, while identity, language, geopolitical relations, the EU, Russia, and NATO were always down the list of Ukrainian priorities. BM

Some commentators say that because the far right hasn’t been very successful in post-Maidan elections, its role in the country is negligible. How true is this? VI

The role of radical nationalists in Ukrainian politics is significant, via direct pressure on the government and dissemination of narratives. If you look at the actual policies that were taken by the post-Maidan government, you’ll see the program of radical nationalist parties, particularly decommunization, banning the Communist Party of Ukraine, and Ukrainianization, which means pushing the Russian language out of the Ukrainian public sphere. Many things that the far right campaigned on before Maidan were implemented by nominally non-far-right politicians.

Nationalist radicalization is very good compensation for the lack of any revolutionary changes after the revolution. If you start, for example, to change something in the ideological sphere — renaming streets, taking away any Soviet symbols from the country, removing Vladimir Lenin’s statues that were standing in many Ukrainian cities — you create an illusion of change without actually changing in the direction of the people’s aspirations.

Most of the relevant parties are actually electoral machines for specific patron-clientelistic networks. Ideologies are usually totally irrelevant. It’s not difficult to find politicians who have switched between completely opposite camps in Ukrainian politics several times during their careers.

The radical nationalist parties, by contrast, have ideology, they have motivated activists, and at this moment, they are probably the only parties in the real sense of the word “party.” They are the most organized, the most mobilized parts of the civil society, with the strongest street mobilization. After 2014, they also got the resources for violence: they got the opportunities to create affiliated armed units and a broad network of training centers, summer camps, sympathetic cafés, and magazines. This infrastructure perhaps doesn’t exist in any other European country. It looks more like 1930s far-right politics in Europe than contemporary European far-right politics — which doesn’t rely so much on paramilitary violence but is instead capable of winning quite a broad part of the electorate. BM

What are some of the misunderstood or unknown aspects of the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution that Western audiences may not be aware of? VI

In the West, what has become dominant is the narrative of professional NGOs, which were an important part of the uprising in 2014. But they definitely did not represent the whole diversity of this uprising and represented even less the diversity of this big country. In their narratives, this was a democratic, peaceful revolution against an authoritarian government led by Viktor Yanukovych, who is probably one of the very few rulers in the world to have been toppled by two revolutions.

This narrative of the professional NGOs and national-liberal intellectuals was taken up by the Western media and Western officials, partially because it’s what they wanted to hear. And Western officials supported the Maidan Revolution quite openly. For the EU at that moment, it was quite inspiring, because while the people in Greece were burning EU flags, people in Ukraine were waving them.

Fear of radical nationalists inspired the anti-Maidan protests in the southeastern parts of Ukraine. Russia decided to supply and, in a crucial moment, intervene and prevent the defeat of separatist rebels in the region. The result is that a part of Donbass, an eastern Ukrainian, heavily industrialized and urbanized region, is now under the control of so-called people’s republics that should be seen more or less as Russian puppet states. BM

What are your hopes for how this crisis might be resolved? VI

My hope is there will be a peaceful resolution to the crisis. We all need to hope that the Russians will not start a stupid invasion and they will not start to escalate, not only in Donbass but even further.

Any progress in the implementation of the Minsk accords — which are about how to integrate the pro-Russian separatist territories back into Ukraine — would certainly be helpful for de-escalation. Even though most Ukrainians are not happy about the Minsk accords — mostly because they have proven ineffective since 2015 and haven’t brought peace to Donbass, not that most Ukrainians find them inherently unacceptable — the actual protests against the Minsk accords were quite small and not really supported by the majority of Ukrainians.

But so far, Ukraine doesn’t want to accept Minsk. It finds different excuses not to do what it agreed to do together with France, Germany, and Russia. One of the reasons is the very explicit violent threats from nationalist civil society in Ukraine, which perceive Minsk as a capitulation for Ukraine. For the nationalists, Minsk means recognizing Ukraine’s political diversity — that dissenting Ukrainians are not simply zombified by Russian propaganda, and they are not national traitors; that they have very rational reasons not to agree with the nationalist narrative and have an alternative perception of Ukraine.

If the Ukrainian government were serious about implementing the accords, and not finding excuses by pointing to threats from the nationalists, they might ask for help from the West — for a very consolidated position from the United States and the EU in the accords’ quick implementation. It would certainly be helpful for the Ukrainian government and demotivate the nationalist part of civil society, especially those parts that are directly dependent on financial aid from the West.

Particle der Woche #004 – Security & Privacy

Maybe some of you have followed the news on cyber attacks and breaches during the past months. It is becoming more and more obvious that we have entered an area in which internet security and cyber warfare are a daily reality. Still a lot of virtual citizens and internet user seem not to care that much about there security and the right to keep their lives private. States and private organizations seem to have lost their ethical compasses and instead of an exception it has become the new norm to intrude on peoples privacy. Advocates of digital liberty and self-sovereignty like Eduard Snowden have warned about theses developments. Since nation states have become under huge pressure due to the pandemic and rising global tensions between the U.S, China and Russia it seems justifiable that free citizens become more and more the victim of private and state-run mass-surveillance. Even though the free-software movement tries to gain back some privacy and liberty in the virtual world and in the cyberspace the problem run much deeper.

The vast majority of vulnerabilities that are later discovered and exploited by the Insecurity Industry are introduced, for technical reasons related to how a computer keeps track of what it’s supposed to be doing, at the exact time the code is written, which makes choosing a safer language a crucial protection… and yet it’s one that few ever undertake.” The Insecurity Industry – Eduard Snowden

https://edwardsnowden.substack.com/p/ns-oh-god-how-is-this-legal

Eduard Snowden points out that on the most fundamental layer, the code language vulnerabilities are inherent. Even software engineers of Google acknowledge the fact that more works on the kernel of Linux is necessary to compensate for the vulnerabilities of the coding language.

With Linux written in C, it will continue to have a long tail of associated problems. Linux must be designed to take proactive steps to defend itself from its own risks. Cars have seat belts not because we want to crash, but because it is guaranteed to happen sometimes.” Linux Kernel Security Done Right – Kees Cook

https://security.googleblog.com/2021/08/linux-kernel-security-done-right.html

This shows how fragile the internet and the infrastructure actually is. Even though most user experience the internet still as a bit bumpy sometimes, the general impression most often is, that if adequate security measures are in place the whole things is supposed to work properly. But taking the arguments of Eduard Snowden and Kees Cook into account, the opposite seems to be true.

As security and privacy are absolutely crucial to the evolution of a society, we will explore this topic in more depth.

What solutions are available to improve your privacy and internet security? What projects and communities try to improve the status quo? …. to be continued….

Particle der Woche #003 – Some roots of Electro, Techno & Hip-Hop

Today we’ll have a look at some of the most influential driving forces behind #Electro, #Techno & #Hip-Hop. Those genres are certainly among the most popular genres throughout the western world. However, this means, not in every part of the world these genres are as popular as they might be in western countries. That is why we’ll continue our journey through music history in succeeding episodes to dig out great influences of contemporary music in other parts of the world.

#Electro

Delia Ann Derbyshire was certainly one of the most important pioneers of music generated with transistors, tubes, resistors, condensers, capacitor and the like, why she deserves the title “Grandma of #Electro” more than anybody else.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delia_Derbyshire

1963 She brought “Doctor Who” – the BBC television series – to live by creating theme and its signature sound effects that are still present in the current versions of the theme.

A decade later some German guys form North Rhine-Westphalia should achieve that a wider audience around the globe wourld appreciate the new possibilities and experiments of #Electro music productions.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kraftwerk

Kraftwerk was even the first European band that would reach the top ten of the American charts with their tune “Autobahn” (1974).

Some might argue Giovanni Giorgio Moroder ‘s work was more manistream in the sense, that he deliberately chose to composed music for the masses, nevertheless his creations were cutting edge and far ahead of its time.

His work with Donna Summer (1977) “I feel love” wasn’t only the start of a new disco era and inspired David Bowie and the like, it was also a brilliant reinterpretation of an Ostinato

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ostinato

#Hip-Hop

A few years later (1982) Afrika Bambaata provided a condensed vision of new electronic music in the form of “Planet Rock”. Although his personal live is highly controversial until today, his marks in music history are undeniable.

#Techno

Afrika Bambaata is not only one of the greatest inspirations for #Hip-Hop and its advocates and protagonists. He also inspired the early producers of electronic music like Juan Atkins (aka. Model 500) and Derrick May which later would label their style of music #Techno – what was the birth of #Detroit Techno.

Particle der Woche #001

Starting with a Megatuna by Deena Abdelwhed! A Tunisian producer and DJ speaking with her on voice fusing the contemporary with tradition.

Check also !

,Klar

“An Ihre Stelle sollten die treten, die den Hauch des göttlichen Geistes verspürt und infolge davon eine Botschaft von höchstem Wert und größter Wichtigkeit zu verkündigen haben und die eben deshalb diese Botschaft mit solcher Schönheit und so hinreißender Kraft aussprechen können, dass sie alle Seelen gewinnen.”

Welt Retten


“Wenn wir die große Wahrheit ganz erkennen, dass Übel, Irrtum und Sünde mit all den Leiden, die Sie im Gefolge haben nur aus der Unwissenheit entspringen, dann werden wir jedem, der unter ihnen leidet, mit dem rechten Sinn gegenübertreten, nämlich mit einem Herzen voll Mitgefühl und Mitleid.”

In Harmonie mit dem Unendlichen – Ralph Waldo Trine.

We are comrades – Part I

A fiction of the present.

Have you asked yourself what is necessary to transform capitalism?

Do you know what probably Karl Marx’s most valuable contribution to the understanding of economics and the behavior of human networks was?

What does infrastructure matter?
Join us on a fictional journey to explore these questions.