sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

October 29, 2014

How Did Ukraine Do at The Polls Last Sunday?

Ukraine held emergency Parliamentary elections last Sunday.  How did Ukrainians do?

1. Nazis parties defeated, annihilated each other or outlived their usefulness?

I recently posted about Ukrainian Nazizoid Iryna Farion quoting Hitler and calling for war with Russia.  Neither Farion nor her party, Svoboda, did well at the polls.  They were a fixture of Ukrainian politics for over a decade, with Svoboda as a dominant party in the historic Galicia region two years ago, but this time  they didn’t make the 5% mark to be represented in Rada, or the Ukrainian parliament.

The case of Farion is particularly instructive — in her electoral district she lost to both Lvov mayor’s Self-Help Party and the Radical Party.  Self-Help advocates, among other things, NATO membership, and so do the Prime Minister Yatsenyuk and the president Poroshenko.  So, for those interested in being in opposition to Russia, there are politicians who can stand for it, and do so without the baggage of all these disparaging things said about American actresses.  Besides, Ukrainians can hardly handle the war in Donbass, so the talk about them turning Russia into dust can be a bit overwhelming.  Let the US figure it out.

World War 2 revisionism, the staples of Svoboda ideology, are perfectly mainstream politics in this country of 45 million. Take for instance, the proclamation issued by president Poroshenko a few days ago on the occasion of liberation of Ukraine from Nazis:

The destiny of the world was decided here, on our soil.  Nearly half of strategic defensive and offensive operations were conducted at the hight of global confrontation were conducted on Ukrainian territory.  Over 60% of Wehrmacht land forces were defeated here.  More than 9 million Ukrainian-born soldiers stood up to fight the enemy in the ranks of the Red Army.  Millions more fought the Nazis and their allies in the ranks of UPA, the ranks of Soviet partisan formations, Polish Army, American, Australian, British, Canadian armies and as French, Yugoslavian and Slovenian resistance. (Emphasis mine, — EoTS)

One problem: UPA and its parent Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, OUN, *were* Nazi allies.  OUN stages pogroms in Lviv and surrounding areas on the eve of the Nazi advent.  True, OUN and Hitler had a little falling out when their leader Stepan Bandera declared himself Ukraine’s dictator, but Germany wanted to rule the country without his help.  The Germans had Bandera arrested and confined in a VIP concentration camp, releasing the Ukrainian fascist only at the end of the war, to fight the advancing Red Army.

In the meantime the members of Bandera’s organization joined the ranks of the SS, served in the Nazis’ deadly police forces, served as concentration camp guards, murdered at Babiy Yar, etc.  After German defeat in Stalingrad they went underground and declared themselves to be against Hitler.  This was a part of their reasonably successful effort to sell themselves to the Allies as a national-liberation movement.  During their UPA underground period, Ukrainian Nazis continued haunting down surviving Jews and used Jewish slaver labor in their own concentration camps.  UPA also slaughtered hundreds of thousands ethnic Poles in Volynya and Galicia. A few dozen Germans were killed by friendly fire.

Post-USSR, Ukrainians try to find something both positive and non-Soviet around which to imagine their country.  Some think of Hitler as a liberator, but that’s a hard sell outside the extreme west.  So the fairytale about Ukrainians fighting both Hitler and Stalin had to be invented.  Trouble is, in WW2 Ukrainians fought for either the Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, and any attempt to imagine their nation based on transparent lies will backfire — I hope.

The new session of Rada will likely be opened by Yuri Shukhevich, the son of UPA commander Roman Shukhevich.  This is not going to go well in Poland, for instance.  Shuhkevich, who was elected on the ticket of Oleh Lyashko’s Radical Party, already opined that Ukraine has to stretch into the Caucuses.  Lyashko commanded over 8% of the vote in this spring’s Presidential election, and Radical Party commanded 7.4% a half a year later.  At the same time Svoboda gathered 4.7% of the vote, and Pravy Sektor, which is not much of a political party — 1.8%.  All three parties add up to more than 10%.

2. The dormant South-East.

This map of the turn out in the last week’s election corresponds perfectly with the ethno-linguistic maps of Ukraine and the maps of the previous elections results. And that’s after #euromaidan, Crimea annexation, the Lenin downs and considering that Ukraine is a country of joiners — but that’s a different topic

The overall turnout in the election was 52%, meeting the 50% benchmark necessary for the election to be valid.  However, across the South-East it was more than 1o points lower than average and sometimes half of the vote in the western regions.  Even then, Opposition Party, the renamed and embattled Party of Regions, earned nearly 10% of popular vote, remaining the dominant party in the east.  In Kharkov, where Opposition won every party ticket, an elderly lady was seen kissing the hand of the city’s Party of Regions mayor.  One can see how by slightly depressing the overall turn out or encouraging the South-East to turn out en mass, very different election results (or non-results) can be achieved.

Tzar, the little farther, who, for some inexplicable reason is Jewish

3. On the nepotism front, Poroshenko’s 29-year-old son was elected to Rada.

In other words, Ukraine is still Ukraine… minus Crimea… minus gas… and plus the coming default.


October 21, 2014

When Hitler and Stalin Meet in Kiev

Filed under: politics, Ukraine — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 10:05 pm

Last week I posted about a Nazi march that took place in my native city of Kharkov, Ukraine. What I didn’t discuss is that similar marches were staged across Ukraine with the goal of forcing a legislature that would recognize the genocidal World War Two-era Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) as national heroes.  That day’s main rally was held in the capital of Kiev, where protesters armed with bats and chains clashed with police and 36 were detained — just like the good old days of Euromaidan.

One of the speakers was Svoboda’s Deputee and once Communist Iryna Farion. Here is part of a recording of her speech:

Greatness of nation and the strength of the state are built with arts and war.  This was was absolutely unavoidable and totally logical.  Excuse me, I don’t really want to quote Hitler here

Said the reluctant student of German dictator

[B]ut he was right when he said ‘Wars are won before they begin’. […]  There was no Ukrainian language, Ukrainian music, Ukrainian Idea in [Crimea, Lugansk and Donetsk]. That is why Putin is there now [whistle].  That’s why everything in our life begins with how we think, which goal we set for ourselves and how much Ukrainian we have in our soul.  Be vigilant before those who now put on vyshivankis [Ukrainian peasant shirts], because it’s possible that behind those vyshivankis they are hiding the absence of their Ukrainian souls.

This could well be a quote from Stalin, the man who starved 10% or so of Ukrainian population successfully Sovietizing them.

We have not just the external front, the absolutely unavoidable front of Putin.  We have one road — to destroy Moscow.  This is why we live, that’s why we live in this world, to destroy Moscow [applause].  Not just to destroy Moscals [derogatory for Russians] on our soil, but to destroy Moscow, that black hole of European security.

Ukrainians of Svoboda/Pravy Sektor/Radical Party bent have been trying to sell themselves, not unsuccessfully, as new Americans.  They are defending Europe from Putin, you see.  It’s worth noting that Putin’s strategy appears to be the destabilization of Ukraine, a goal which he shares with Svoboda, who are on record being in favor of civil war which they would seize as an opportunity to Ukrainianize the population to their liking.

This graphic is done in the colors of Ukrainian flag and, unfortunately, featuring the NATO symbol along with the Eastern Slavic colovrat in the sun disk (the symbol frequently adopted by Eastern European Nazis). It reads “We are born to turn Russia into dust”, a play on a line from a famous Soviet song. The graphic came to my attention via an American libertarian blogger who found it hilarious.

While Communists were forever on the lookout for the insufficiently committed to the to the struggle of world proletariat, Ukrainian Nazis are interested in weeding out the true Ukrainians.  And so, a man in Nikolaev is facing 4 years of prison and two years probation for putting a flag of Novorossia on social media.  And in Kharkov an elderly man from Donbass is sentenced to 5 years in prison for distributing separatist leaflets.

Earlier this year Turchinov vetoed a language law that banned Russian as an official language, but to fight a Russian book infestation, a struggle which is, by no means a new phenomenon, Ukraine now has a regulation banning periodicals with the word “Russian” in their title.  “Russian Culture of Ukraine” and “Russian Rock” are no longer licensed for publication in Ukraine.

But wait, you say, aren’t there Nazis in Russia.  Precisely.  This blog, however, doesn’t buy into the argument that because there are Nazis in Russia, we should give a free reign to Ukrainian ones.  This blog is of the belief that Ukraine is spinning out of control, and that Ukrainian Nazis, albeit not Ukrianian Nazis alone, have everything to do with it.

Ukrainians — and other Europeans — will be fortunate if it all ends there.

October 14, 2014

Another Nazi March in Kharkov, Ukraine

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 12:35 pm

Kharkov, my birthplace and formerly the most tolerant city of Russian Empire, had witnessed another Nazi march.  After successfully dismantling a giant Lenin statue a few weeks ago, Nazis are now staging a torch march in honor of Ukrainian Insurgent Army, a spawn of Nazi-aligned Organization of Ukrainian Nationalist.  Together with OUN, the UPA is responsible for staging pogroms, serving in SS, slaughtering up to 100,000 Poles, burning Belorussian villages and their inhabitants and participated in the Holocaust.  In the post-Soviet period revisionist history of OUN-UPA became increasingly popular, particularly in the eastern Galicia region in the extreme west of the country from which the Nazi variety of Ukrainian nationalism originated.

Co-founder of Ukraine’s pro-Euromaidan Hromadske TV has the pictures from Kharkov:

The march appears to be staged at the Freedom Square, the former cite of the Lenin monument.

Eristavi reports that a similar march was staged in Kiev.  Ukraine’s capital saw many previous Nazi events, but this is a new development in Kharkov, a quiet Russian-speaking eastern city with little interest in anything Ukrainian, let alone Ukrainian Nazism.  This is not to say that the city is entirely pro-Russian since, not unlike Moscowites, many residents would very much like to be in Europe.

Judging by the pictures, the participants of the parade were mostly young men, but the very helpful “All Kharkov” news channel assured its readers that families with children attended as well.  I don’t doubt that some did: Nazis have a habit of bringing children to their happenings.

For instance, this is Ukrainian children marching next to portrait of Ukrainian Nazi Stepan Bandera. The procession took place in Kiev earlier this year

All Kharkov reports that the participants were asked to leave home partisan banners, so only the flags of Ukraine, the UPA and Azov Battalion were flown this time.  Azov Battalion is the notorious Ukrainian National Guard unit that fights under a Nazi banner and attracts Nazi volunteers from around Europe. Still, most Azov volunteers were drawn from the Euromaidan “self-defense” units.

All Kharkov explained that “The people came out to support the fighters serving in the zone of anti-terrorist operation” or the war-torn area of Donbass and that more than 2,000 participated.  I say the great majority of them are from out of town.

Ukraine will be lucky if it all ends there.

October 10, 2014

Euromaidan’s Legacy and Walesa’s

Filed under: politics, Ukraine — Tags: , , , , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 1:59 pm

Lech Walesa, who really is the Nobel Prise-winning leader of Polish Solidarity movement, back in 199o assured his country that he’s a “100% Pole”.  He recently awarded his eponymous medal to Euromaidan social movement for “the consistency and determination of the thousands living in Ukraine, who, despite the risks, expressed their pro-European and pro-democratic dreams.” Individuals selected to receive the award were:

Olga Bogomolets, Ukrainian singer and doctor, organizer of Euromaidan medical services; currently President Poroshenko’s advisor; Dmytro Bulatov, one of the leaders of the AutoMaidan; currently Minister of Youth and Sports in the Yatsenyuk Government; Tetiana Chornovol, an investigative reporter; currently advisor to Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs;member of the voluntary Azov battalion; Dmytro Gnap, a correspondent reporting to Ukrainians and the world about the events at the Euromaidan; one of the founders of Hromadske TV; Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a politician, currently Ukraine’ s Prime Minister; Vitali Klitschko, a boxer, politician, currently Mayor of Kiev; Ruslana Lyzhychko, a Ukrainian singer and star, politician, Euromaidan participant since the outbreak of protests; Yevhen Nyshchuk, master of ceremonies during the 2004 Maidan Orange Revolution and Euromaidan, currently Minister of Culture in the Yatsenyuk Government; Andriy Parubiy, coordinator of the Euromaidan self-defense, former Secretary of National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine; Oleh Tyahnybok, a politician, leader of the Svoboda Party.

Although both Chornovol and Bulatov are rumored to have Nazi connections with UNA-UNSO, I’m not about to put my honest moniker behind this gossip.  But, I’ll tell you what, Chornovol really is an investigative reporter with an illustrious history of fighting corruption.  Unfortunately, she is also a widow of a volunteer for Azov battalion, the notorious National Guard unit where Ukraine quarantines Nazis.

And here is Dmytro Bulatov, who really was kidnapped and savagely beaten during the winter’s protests.  He is wearing black and red, the colors favored by UNA-UNSO

Parubiy really was a “coordinator of the Euromaidan self-defense”; he is also an alumni of Social-National Party of Ukraine, later renamed Svoboda.  And to think that this men was a Secretary of Defense!

Under the Nazi banners: A younger Parubiy (third from the left) listens as the younger Tyahnybok

Klitschko really was one of the leaders of Euromaidan.  He is also the not too bright mayor of Kiev; ask anyone who speaks Russian or Ukrainian to estimate his intelligence.  Ukrainian politics are a sad scene… Anywho, Klitschko, in his new capacity of mayor of Kiev, cleaned up the camp outs on Independence Square this summer.

Walesa hands over the award to Klitschko. Svoboda’s Tyahnybok, appropriately or not, is on extreme right

Tyahnybok , the co-founder of the above-mentioned Social-National Party of Ukraine, is easily the most repulsive of all characters.  As late as mid-2013 it was perfectly acceptable to accuse Svoboda of fueling anti-Semitism in Ukraine.  Or to point to anti-Semitism in Lviv, Svoboda’s hotbed.  Now this kind of rhetoric will get one accused of being on Putin’s payroll.  Yet nothing  changed about Svoboda, who were always anti-Russian in addition to anti-Semitic — if anything murderous Russophobia was always on the forefront of their agenda.  Of course: Jews (and Poles) are all but gone now.

Speaking of Poles.  Svoboda, Pravy Sektor and their likes celebrate the Hitler-allied Organization of Ukrainian Nationalist and its spawn Ukrainian Insurgent Army.  The latter is responsible for Massacres of Volynya and Galicia in which up to 100K ethnic Poles were murdered.

Polish flag (left) flying in the vicinity of the red and black UPA flag at a January protest near Ukrainian Embassy in London. Now I’ve seen everything

I’m not sure what’s going on in Polish politics right now; I can see why they are a bit insecure about resurgent Russia.  And yet, at this stage of his life Walesa should be more concerned about his legacy than politics, and should know better than to give legitimacy to assorted Nazis.

October 2, 2014

Another Lenin Down in Ukraine: Hardly a Cause for Celebration

Filed under: politics, Ukraine — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 9:23 am

A Lenin down is a kind of Eastern European happening that’s sure to catch the fancy of political types across the ocean, and there was one last weekend in Kharkov. Kharkov is interesting because it’s the second largest Ukrainian city, wholly Russian-speaking and a Party of Regions stronghold. So, it’s a popular uprising for freedom, right? A sign that Ukraine is becoming a modern, democratic, civilized, European and prosperous. So prosperous.

Hold your horses — this is more in the vein of the age-old Nazi-commie rivalry. When former president Viktor Yanukovich was deposed, and Russia was massing troops on Ukrainian border, Kharkovites were readying themselves for a quick takeover. But Russians didn’t come, some of the separatist leadership was arrested, the mayor survived an assassination attempt and refugees poured in from nearby Donetsk and Lugansk.  Donetsk and Lugansk regions are traditionally known as Donbass, but, given the war and destruction, Ukrainian started referring to it as Luganda. Nobody wants to be the next Luganda, so Kharkov quieted down.

Kharkov generally errs on the quiet side.  A pacific town, it over the centuries gave refuge to runaway serves from Poland, those escaping Khmelnitsky uprising and, finally, the pogroms in Western Ukraine Belarus.  3/4 of my great-grand-parents fled to Kharkov in the late 19th-early 20th century.  On the eve of WW2, Kharkov was 1/3 Jewish.  This is not to say that the metropolis was some sort of philosemitic neverland, I myself have some stories about growing up there.  And yet, after Ukraine declared independence, it elected Jewish mayors.

Anywho, as Ukrainian soldiers and military equipment for war in neighboring regions rolled this spring and summer, the Ukrainian side of Kharkov perked up. Some individuals partook in running around the city, painting it blue and yellow, the colors of Ukrainian flag. A few dozens (perhaps even a hundred or so) attended various patriotic events, organized regularly around various downtown landmarks, usually the Holodomor-era monument to Ukrainian national poet Taras Shevchenko.

This picture of the August 23 “One Ukraine” rally in Kharkov was taken by an attendee and featured on social media. Do they look like they are about to topple a 20-meter monument?

This weekend’s rally, on the other hand, was attended by thousands.  Here’s how Chabad describes it:

Possibly in response to the city’s perceived lack of Ukrainian patriotism and openness to Russia, Sunday saw a gathering of about 8,000 pro-Ukrainian protesters in central Kharkov. At the end of the protest, the crowd marched towards Freedom Square’s 20-meter-high statue of Bolshevik Revolution leader Vladimir Lenin; once there, protesters wearing masks and Ukrainian colors began sawing at the massive monument’s feet. Although pro-Russians vigorously defended the statue from attack in February, on Sunday evening, after hours of work that went unimpeded by police, Lenin came tumbling down.

Some of the attendees of the were immediately identified on twitter as Svoboda leadership. Svoboda, formerly the Social-Nationalist Party, has its stronghold is western Ukraine.

Whether or not these two are the leadership of this Nazi organization , they are seen proudly flashing the Svoboda 3-finger salute

Protesters took trophy pictures on the podium, many bearing Nazi flags and engraving Nazi symbols into the podium.

A collection of pictures from the rally. The engraving in the top left picture reads “Glory to Ukraine” and features the Nazi Wolfsangel symbol. The symbol is prominently displayed on the yellow flag

I, for one, would like to ask Nazis, Ukrainian, Russian, Estonian, English — and all other kinds — to get out of the anti-communism business. So kind of you to offer help, but we got it all covered and, really, you don’t have the moral high ground.  For the record: I’m not shedding any tears for Lenin, but I no longer live in Kharkov and I am not, to say the least, a fan of rag-tag Nazi formations.

On related note, I was opposed to what Russia did in Grozny either, but I don’t side with Chechen terrorists.

The engravings in this side of the Lenin podium include the Ukrainian trident, Nazi-era salutation “Glory to Ukraine! — Glory to heroes!” and”Bandera-papa” or “daddy Bandera” in reference to Stepan Bandera, Ukrainian fascist collaborationist leader whose followers staged pogroms before the German Nazis came, happily joined SS Galicia, exterminated Jews, Poles, Belorussians and others and ran their own concentration camps for Jewish professionals — you get the idea. And, oh, if Bandera is the papa, do these bastards have a mama? Ukraine? Anarchiya?

So Nazis tore down a commie, so what?  Well:

1. War in Donbass is coming to a close. In the late summer separatists went on offensive, retaking some of their strongholds. Ukrainian armed forces ran out of resources and Kiev surrendered Donbass. Is Ukraine now defending Kharkov? Is toppling statues the best Ukrainian nationalism can come up with in its fight against Russia?

The flag in the center on top of the podium is that of the notorious Azov Battalion of Ukrainian National Guard in which Nazi volunteers from around Europe had been reported to serve. What is the flag doing in Kharkov? My guess is that a national guardsman is on leave from nearby Donbass city of Mariupol where the unit is stationed

2. The Lenin down was not approved by the locals who, after hearing the news, showed up in large numbers on local social media and expressed opinions that were overwhelmingly negative.  Strangely, nobody called for reconstruction of gulags.  Here is a representative sample:

“Nobody did more for Ukraine than Lenin, read history carefully. Who was first to unite and give the notion of country Ukraine?”

“Let’s fight for UKRAINE But history and monuments shell be history for our children let them stay in place”

“Why are they dividing our city?”

“They will do the same onto us. They don’t see the difference between a monument and a human being. And now everyone put on your vyshivanki [Ukrainian peasant shirts, — ed.] and be happy that history is being rolled in mud.”

The last one is a reference to Mariupol which was taken over by Azov Battalion in the summer.  In preparation to the separatists’ counteroffensive, locals were photographed attending pro-Ukraine rallies in peasant shirts. The custom of wearing peasant shirts did not exist in the area prior to the entrance of Azov.

The following day the locals went to clean up the podium, removing all Ukrainian flags, and mayor Gennady Kernes promised to restore the monument, although it’s not clear how the city can afford it.  Kharkov was one of the few fiscally solvent Ukrainian regions, but it’s heavily dependent on trade with Russia which is now dwindling.

3. What does this mean for Ukraine’s politics? Locally this development might signal a confrontation between the democratically elected pro-Russian traingulater Kernes and Kiev-appointed governor Ihor Baluta of centrist nationalist Fatherland. Baluta ordered police to stand down, but “vandalism” is now investigated. Interestingly, former Kharkov governor MIkhail Dobkin was arrested on separatism charges earlier this week. But I doubt this is merely a centrist-nationalist/pro-Russian confrontation.

This guy, a resident of Lviv, showed up with a NATO flag, unfortunately. Ukraine lost Donbass but toppled Lenins, should US now guarantee their independence from a country on which they are dependent economically, socially and culturally?

In the capital of Kiev, Maidan is back, protesting against the “special status” of Donbass and for lustration of Communists and, especially, Party of Regions. Protesters burnt a few tires, threw a few political opponents in trash, forcing the passage of a lustraion law, and causing Poroshenko to backtrack on special status of rebel-controlled Donbas areas. Nationalist extremists, defined as Svoboda, Pravy Sektor and Radical Party, constitute just over 10% the electorate, but they are a power to contend with because few outside Luganda dare to oppose them. This is how BBC described the events in Kharkov:

On Sunday night, when nationalist protesters had already gathered around the statue for a “Kharkiv is Ukraine” rally, the governor of Kharkiv region, Ihor Baluta, signed an order to dismantle the statue.

Some correspondents say the order was probably a last-minute face-saving move.

This Lenin down was certainly no controlled demolition.  Kharkov authorities were concerned that the gargantuan statue can fall through the ground and into the subway station. No cops were present and sole defender of Ilich was beaten and made kneel “before the people” (wait, isn’t that against Geneva Conventions?).  One of the protesters lost an eye.  On the other hand, the events had to be coordinated by someone.

While removing statues of Lenin, Ukrainians erected this guillotine monument in Dnepropetrovsk. Maybe the problem they have with Russian revolutionary terror is that it wan’t done right. Try itr again, Ukraine!

To sum up, last weekend eight thousand Nazis, possibly from all over Europe, but majority are likely to be from Western Ukraine, descended on the most tolerant city in the country and destroyed a monument that the locals didn’t mind keeping around.  Ukrainians will be lucky if this is the end of it.

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: