Tuesday 29 April 2014

Ukraine update - 04/28/2014

I respect Vineyard Saker as a reliable daily commentator on Ukrainian events. He needs, like everyone, to be read with an appreciation of his assumptions and biases - which I presume to be right-wing orthodox and nationalist.  

Ukraine SITREP-update April 28, 1447 UTC/Zulu

28 April, 2014

The city hall and the city council buildings of the eastern city of Konstantinovka have been taken under control of Russian-speaking insurgents who say that they are here to protect the local authorities (who are opposed to the revolutionary regime in Kiev) from any attack by the junta.

Probably lured by the oligarch-galore in the Ukraine, the Jewish oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky has showed up in the Dontesk region to show is support for the new regime. According to him, “Donetsk is far from being as pro-Russian as it could be".

The Mayor of Kharkov, Gennadi Kermes, has been shot in the back and critically wounded by an unknown gunman who used a rifle from long range. The bullet passed through Kermes' body, damaging several internal organs.

Six more Right Sector gunmen have been arrested over the week-end when they attempted to penetrate the Donetsk area under cover.

According to The Guardian, the Jews of the Ukraine do not fear the neo-Nazi Banderists, but Putin, Russia and Russian propaganda.

Obama is about to announce new sanctions against Russia.

The EU is about to announce new sanctions against Russia.

On Sunday, pro-regime soccer hooligans clashed with pro-federation Russian-speakers. There were injuries, but not fatalities.

A number of fake snuff-videos purportedly made by the Right Sector which show policemen being killed have emerged on the Internet. They are almost certainly fake, but nobody knows who is behind this action.

A very interesting trend is beginning to emerge: the deepening of the rift between the, shall we say, "official" leaders of the eastern Ukraine and their own electorate. I am talking about folks like Mikhail Dobkin, Gennadi Kermes (the one shot today) or the various representatives of the Party of Regions in what is left of the Ukrainian Parliament. The folks leading the anti-regime insurgency are adamant that the Party of Regions and all its members have already betrayed them many times and that the idea of participating in the Presidential elections organized by the junta in Kiev is yet another betrayal. Yesterday, in one of the most popular talkshows on Russian TV ("Sunday Evening With Vladimir Soloviev") one of the supposedly "pro-Russian" representatives of the Party of regions ended up having an ugly shouting match with about half of the guests on the show, including three representatives of the pro-Russian insurgency in the eastern Ukraine, and several well-known Russian analysts. At this point the "least disliked" "official" political figure in the eastern Ukraine might be Oleg Tsarev who was expelled from the Party of Regions and who initially announced that he was running for President, but who dropped out of the race when confronted about that by the local people in Donetsk. He is also the politician who was invited to the Ukie TV show "freedom of speech", who was guaranteed protection and then who ended up several beaten and partially stripped of his clothes by neo-Nazi thugs outside the TV station.

Speaking of TV stations, following the ban on the re-broadcast of Russian TV in the Ukraine, a number of TV stations have been stormed and taken under control of local insurgents who, interestingly, did restore the broadcast of Russian TV stations alongside Kiev controlled TV station. They did not get the Ukrainian stations off the air.

For the time being the twice announced operation to put down the Russian-speaking East has achieved nothing besides getting a few people killed and radicalizing the local population. The current strategy of laying siege to the rebellious cities is bound to fail as time is most definitely not on the junta's side. Again, to me, the eastern Ukraine has reached an escape velocity, a point of no return, and I simply do not see any figure who could make the idea of a federalized Ukraine work. I am not even sure if Putin could do that.

Finally, there are pretty good signs that somebody is definitely trying to make things worse by, for example, filming the fake snuff-video I mentioned. Or the shooting of Kermes for that matter. The irony is that the Right Sector and the Russian-speakers are both opposed to a negotiated settlement and both equally hate the junta in power. The shot which wounded Kermes today could have been fired by either side.

Note about terminology:

I employ a lot of expressions which I consider value-neutral. I there speak of the "insurgents" in the East just as I spoke of the "insurgents" on the Maidan. To me somebody who takes arms against a regime is an insurgent, that does not imply that I condone or condemn what he/she is doing. Same thing for the expression "revolutionary regime". To me a revolutionary regime is one which brings about a radical change, a change in order, in regime. That can be good or that can be bad. Ditto for "rebels" who are, in my opinion, those who openly disobey the orders of an authority. Again, I don't believe that these expression imply anything other than a factual situation.

Stay tuned, kind regards,

The Saker

I have personaly found Stephen Cohen, as professor emeritus of Russian history and biographer of Nikolai Bukharin one of the best American commentators on Russia.

CrossTalk: Containment 2.0? (ft. Stephen Cohen & John Mearsheimer)

What does Washington's "containment" policy mean? What threats does it pose? Will it work against today's Russia? And does this mean Washington has declared a new Cold War? CrossTalking with Stephen Cohen and John Mearsheimer.

Blasts, fierce fighting in Donetsk between pro- and anti-Kiev demos

28 April, 2014

There's gunfire, explosions and brutal clashes in the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine as fighting erupted between pro- and anti-govt protesters, RT’s stringer reports from the scene.

GrahamWPhillips @GrahamWP_UK
Video in a minute, pro-Russia and pro-Ukraine demos have met, and it's ugly. #Donetsk 

14 people have asked for medical assistance, with several hospitalized, after clashes in Donetsk, the regional administration told Interfax-Ukraine news agency.

According to Novosti Donbassa (Donbas News), eight people have been taken to the city’s Kalinin hospital after violence broke out.

The website also reports of a policeman being shell-shocked due to handmade grenade exploding near him.

Pro- and-anti-Kiev protest rallies took place simultaneously in the city.

According to RT’s stringer Graham Phillips, there were plenty of masked young men on both sides, and they were clearly looking for a fight.

The police failed to contain the crowd as protesters clashed with each other, using firecrackers, smoke grenades, baseball bats and sticks.

A group of about 1,000 “neo-Nazi thugs” has come to Donetsk from Dnepropetrovsk on Monday to cause provocations, the press-service of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk told RT.

We were expecting an attack. We had objective information. Really, the guys arrived with baseball bats, sticks and rods. Those were the ultras from Dnepropetrovsk, FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk supporters. According to our info, there were also people from FC Dynamo Kyiv fan base. I have no information of any Right Sector involvement,” Vitaly Ivanov, a press-service member, who was at the scene, stressed.

Initially, there were about 200 local anti-Kiev activists, who went out “to meet them halfway in order to regain the initiative”, he said.

More and more people joined us at an incredible pace as we made our way… When we reached them [pro-Kiev radicals], there were around 1,000 of us,” Ivanov said.

According to him, the ultras were “surrounded by the police, which was brought, especially, for the occasion” as the officers on the scene were from Kirovograd region, but not from the Donetsk force.

We were received with aggression. Smoke grenades were thrown at us. Several people got injured. Then there were a couple of small scuffles with the ultras. And then they just dispersed. They didn’t expect such a rebuff; that there’ll be so many of us,” he said.

There were around 2,000 pro-Kiev demonstrators, who were marching on one of the main streets of the city, RT’s Paula Slier reports from Donetsk.

When they crossed paths with a smaller rally of anti-government protesters, violent clashes erupted, she said.

I was among the group that is anti-Kiev. What I saw was both sides with their faces covered. There were Molotov cocktails and stones being thrown... Among the anti-Kiev crowd people were shouting: ‘Crimea! Donbass! Russia!” Slier reported.

There are injuries, and scenes of absolute brutality as both sides clash with each other here in #Donetsk 

Moscow slams Kiev over 'political repressions'
Moscow is “extremely concerned” by the Kiev regime’s “political repression and persecution” against those who dare express opposition, the Russian Foreign Ministry said calling for the release all political prisoners.

28 April, 2014

Mass media reports give us reason to speak of the start of a ‘witch hunt’, mass prosecution of dissidents and political repressions and persecutions against those who dare disagree with the Maidan [coup-imposed] authorities,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

It particularly recalled the case of recently arrested “people’s governor” of Donetsk, Pavel Gubarev.

We are seriously concerned about the condition of Pavel Gubarev elected ‘a people’s governor’ of Donetsk,” the ministry said, adding that he was abducted, charged with organizing mass unrests and attempting to divide Ukraine, and tortured. He went on hunger strike against Kiev’s crackdown on protesters in Slavyansk, eastern Ukraine.

According to the Ministry, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Red Cross, managed to get access to Gubarev and visit him in prison on April 26, following “insistent calls” by Russia. The organizations confirmed the abovementioned situation.

Pavel Gubarev is not the only political prisoner of the Kiev regime,” the statement stressed.

Citing local mass media, the Ministry also said that Moscow is seriously worried by reports about the construction of large temporary detention centers for thousands of people in Ukraine, allegedly for illegal migrants.

There is no such large number of illegal migrants in Ukraine, and buildings that are being erected, according to media reports, are very reminiscent of Nazi concentration camps. The question arises, whether the Kiev regime plans to drive together dissenting citizens there from the South-Eastern regions of the country,” the ministry said.

If true, all that “does not accord” with the norms of the OSCE and the European Council as well as obligations to amnesty political prisoners and participants in the protests, which Kiev agreed to during the four-party talks on Ukraine in Geneva on April 17.

Russia calls for the immediate release of [Donetsk Region people’s governor] Pavel Gubarev and other political prisoners of the Kiev regime,” the Ministry said.

It has urged the European Council, OSCE and international rights organizations to condemn in the strongest possible terms the violations of human rights in Ukraine and to press for an end to political repressions in the country.

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