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Monday, March 31, 2014

Russia alcoholic wife beater, not big brother

One of themes Russian propaganda is employing in its bid to take over Ukraine is that Russia is the “big brother” in the Slavic familial scheme of things and should be allowed to rule the roost.
They’re baiting the West into believing that Russia must be part of the solution because Moscow knows how to deal with this accidental-nation-failed-state-younger-brother-fascist Ukrainians. Bollocks!
Instead of “big brother” try this relationship:
Putin's Mr. Russia is the abusive, alcoholic husband, with a long history of beating up his wife, Ms. Ukraine, who has wanted out of the marriage pretty well since Day One.
After years of fighting, she was formally granted a divorce, but the Police and Judges looked the other way as the drunk husband dragged her back into his house. Mr. Russia repeatedly raped Ms. Ukraine, abused her physically and psychologically. He nearly starved her to death. He called her a fascist whore until some of her children actually started to believe it.
Finally, the Police and Judges agreed to let Ms. Ukraine move out, but only if all the children agreed.
The Police and Judges told Ms. Ukraine that she should really love Mr. Russia, that she would really be better off with him, that she wouldn't be where she is today, if it wasn't for Mr. Russia.
Recently, on a drunken spree, Mr. Russia stormed into Ms. Ukraine’s home and snatched away one of her daughters, Crimea. The Police and Judges looked the other way, saying “He is the father, after all.” They cut off Mr. Russia’s line of credit at the liquor store, he had a basement full of booze, so didn't really care.
Mr. Russia is currently spending time with one of the other children, the son called Donetsk, getting him drunk and urging him to move in with him too. Donetsk finds Mr. Russia’s lifestyle appealing.
Mr. Russia has almost convinced the Police and Judges that Ms. Ukraine is in fact a fascist whore, and that all of her children would be better off with him.
Now, Ms. Ukraine wanted to get a gun to defend herself against Mr. Russia. But the Police and Judges have told her to not even think about it, they will not accept the Battered Woman’s Defense from a fascist whore.
“It was her own fault, in the first place. Slut,” they said.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Maidan versus Militia: war crimes video evidence

2 videos, POV of “death squad” and POV of protesters. Both were shot on Institutska Street near the upper entrance to Khreshchatyk Metro. Cannot confirm they’re both from the exact same time, but they do show: a) how well the Militsia snipers was armed (high-powered rifles, scopes, live rounds), b) unarmed protesters being killed.

The death squad video is 13 minutes, and looks like it was shot by Telekanal Ukraina crew (microphone sock): – the date is not specified, but poster indicates either Feb 20 or 21

The Protesters POV is 41 minutes, from Feb. 20, and the person who posted it (Eldar Nagorniy?) provided a shot list in Russian, translated here (TV journos and editors really like shot lists):

2:55 Kalashnikov fire
12:30 Unarmed people being shot
14:00 People trying to carry dead and injured being fired at
16:48 Protester in green jacket shot
17:08 Mound of corpses
18:00 Dragging body away
19:35 Off-camera Russian TV reporter "Good day colleagues! We are located at the extremists most sharpest attack” – “extremists” are dead or injured
22:00 Unarmed people, clearly not advancing, being shot
29:00 Maidan counterattack. Note: not a single shot is fired by the protesters
31:15 Man clearly retreating from the front line is 30 m away when he is shot
31:50 Protesters with flag on his back. Sign on the flag: “Dnipropetrovsk. Banderite-fascist-Westerner.”
37:00 Medic raises hands “Let us carry the injured!” and goes forward
37:45 Priest with shield and helmet
37:55 Medic lead away, appears to be injured in neck
40:00 Protesters hide behind smoke from burning tyres
40:55 Protesters gain ground. But at what price!

And let’s not forget that all of this was made possible by the Kremlin’s $2 billion bailout of the Yanukovch government and those in West twiddling their fingers about sanctions.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Ukrainian Jewish leader on Svoboda

Far too many Western journalists are getting it wrong when it comes to VO Svoboda (aka Freedom or Liberty Party). I'm not a huge fan (being too "liberal" for some of its members), but the Kremlin-inspired propaganda surrounding Ukrainian anti-Semitism is getting to be too much. 

But don't take my word for it. Consider this excerpt from an interview last month with Joseph Zissels, Jewish community leader in Ukraine, dissident during Soviet times and today a leader of the #EuroMaidan: calling Svoboda and Tiahnybok as "hard-right antisemitic" is inaccurate and is a 

Q: Doesn't it bother you that there are open anti-Semites among your allies? For example, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, lists Svoboda's leaders among the top ten anti-Semites in the world.

A: I am very familiar with the activities of the Wiesenthal Centre and I know the head of the Jerusalem branch of that organization, Efraim Zuroff, who put the names Oleh#Tyahnybok and Ihor Myroshnychenko into “the top ten.” Efraim Zuroff spent a lot of time in Moscow in the past few decades and I don’t consider the portrait he has drawn to be an objective one. I think that, throughout the world, there are plenty of people who are more anti-Semitic than #Tiahnybok and parties that are far more anti-Semitic than Svoboda. I deal with this issue professionally; I was commissioned to conduct a large sociological study of this topic. In reality, there are anti-Semitic elements in Svoboda, and we have been tracking them for more than 20 years, from the time when the party was still called the Social-national Party of Ukraine. There is less and less anti-Semitic rhetoric. For example, of the 37 Svoboda party member of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, only six or seven have ever uttered anti-Semitic statement in the last 20 years. There is nothing directly anti-Semitic in Svoboda’s [party] program, neither anything directly xenophobic, although the seeds of xenophobic elements are there. Unlike members of parliament from the Jobbik party in Hungary and Ataka party in Bulgaria, MPs from Svoboda have not uttered anything anti-Semitic from the parliamentary podium. Not a single statement.

In the interview, Zissels calls Svoboda a "radical nationalist party."

Read Russian language original in its entirety here:

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Ukraine's 324,000-strong militia earning a pittance

Given all the attention Ukraine’s “police” force – the Soviet-era “militsiya” – is getting these days for their role in things like raping women, raiding property, torturing, beating the crap out of and killing people, a few numbers from Dzerkalo Tyzhnia’s Serhiy Rakhmanin in his July 19 article “Viyna Svitiv” (War of the Worlds):

Ukraine’s militsiya counts 324,000 people: 183,000 in uniform, 171,000 with “atestats” (professional certificates), 12,000 cadets and 33,000 internal troops.

A Colonel earns 6,000 to 10,000 hryvnia – a thousand bucks a month is he’s lucky. A Sergeant earns four times less: from 1,500 to 2,500 hryvnia “and goes off to earn independently,” comments Rakhmanin.

Over 300,000 internal police… and the Ukrainian people have started to push back against the militia state. See this July 20 report from Press TV:

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Revenge of the Himkas

Jews and Ukrainians honour the memories of those killed 
at Lonsky Street Prison, October, 2012. (

John-Paul Himka is at it again. This time he's obfuscating the present AND the past.

In his latest assault, launched at the Harriman Institute in New York on April 22, Himka has taken aim at the Lonsky Street Museum in Lviv.

During his talk "The Lontsky Street Prison Memorial Museum. An Example of Postcommunist Holocaust Negationism," Himka charged that the museum is engaged in Holocaust denial and suffers from a case of “deflective negationism.”

Is Himka, who claims expertise in history and facial recognition, now a psychologist? No, “deflective negationism” is a term widely, and almost exclusively, used to help categorize the deniers, diminishers and distorters of the mass murder of millions of Jews in Europe during WW2. 

In his talk, Himka charged that the Lonsky Street Museum is a hotbed of Holocaust negation. But it appears that he hasn’t actually been there: the slide show accompanying his talk pictured a neighbouring building as the site of the prison. Close, but wrong.

Very wrong, according to Ukrainian historian Volodymyr Viatrovych, one of the museum’s founders. The Lonsky Street Museum has hosted a number of events and exhibits devoted to the Holocaust. A quick search of the museum’s website shows a number of them, including:
There are others, and more are planned to take place at the museum that has only been opened for three years.

There is only one permanent exhibit currently functioning at the young museum covering the Soviet NKVD executions that occurred in the prison and courtyard in June, 1941. Towards the end of the exhibit, the names of each of the 700+ victims are written out: Ukrainians, Poles, Jews, Russians, and other nationalities.

Meanwhile, back in New York, Viatrovych, who was present at the Himka presentation, dared challenge the University of Alberta professor, but he was cut off by one of Himka’s protégés, Per Anders Rudling, one of the workshop’s organizers.

Rudling has his own bone to pick with the museum. When it was announced that the director of Lonsky Street Museum was coming to Canada on a lecture tour last year, Rudling attempted to discredit his “astonishingly modest [academic] credentials... only a master's degree” and wrote that “Jewish suffering is omitted” by the museum -- an outright lie.

A little more poking around the website, and you’ll find the possible and probable cause of why Himka is taking aim at the Lonsky Street Memorial Museum: posted is a damning 19,000-word review of Himka’s 2011 submission to the Canadian Slavonic Papers called  “The Lviv Pogrom of 1941: The Germans, Ukrainian Nationalists, and the Carnival Crowd.” 

Himka's issue with the museum appears to be that it dares to look at Ukraine’s nationalists as something other than “Jew-killers” and “Hitler-lovers” – monikers once assigned by Soviet propaganda and parroted by many in academia.

The history of the matter is that The Lonsky Street Museum is based around a prison that was used by Poles (1918-1939), Soviets (1939-1941), Nazis (1941-1944) and the Soviets again (1944-1991), and was closed in the mid-1990s.

And Ukrainian nationalists were prisoners there all those years, under all those regimes. The museum is doing nothing more, nothing less than telling the prison's history. But that's not enough for Himka et al.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tabalov Tushki Tabachnyk

Tabalov Tushki Tabachnyk

A picture to go with the photos in Katia Gorchinskaya's Fear and loathing at the Kyiv Post. Warning it has  bare-breasted Femen women braving the cold to make their political point on the first day of the new Ukrainian parliament. The Tabalovs are listed as members of the Rada on the website under the "Ts".

The two Tabalov tushki are followed by  former education minister Dmytro Tabachnyk in alphabetical order.

"Oleksandr Tabalov and his son, Andriy, were both elected as Batkivshchyna party representatives, but refused to join the party's faction the day before the parliament was due to convene. The opposition interpreted as treason and demanded that they renounce their seats. Oleksandr Tabalov told reporters that he and his son “are not going [to join] any faction.” Andriy Tabalov, in one of his interviews to the Ukrainian media, said they were “pressured” by the government.

There is no legal mechanism to force the two tushkis – the nickname for those who desert their party and join someone else’s -- to give up their seats, though. So the opposition decided to apply psychological pressure, pinning their portraits to the podium, with the word “traitors” spelled out underneath. Iryna Herashchenko, a member of Vitali Klitschko's Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms faction, said the duo will be prevented from entering the session hall for all five years by the opposition.

Oleh Tiahnybok, leader of the Svoboda party, called the incident “a blow not only to Batkivshchyna, but to all of the opposition.” Perhaps, to compensate for the blow, his brother Andriy and several accomplices used one of the many breaks in sessions to cut down a metal fence surrounding the Rada. Then they broke a door to get back into the building because it was blocked by a special police unit."

Full article:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Unnatural selection of crimes

National memory debate distorted 
by extrusive approach 
to 20th century crimes and criminals

Graph: Years in action (1900-1999)

University of Alberta’s John Paul Himka recently invoked Oxana Shevel’s tripartite framework for dividing up the various sides in the debate over national memory, as follows:

"a) those who focus on Soviet crimes and downplay the crimes of the “national socialists and the nationalists”;*

b) those who focus on the crimes of the “national socialists and nationalists” and downplay the crimes of the Soviets; and

c) those who attempt to treat all such crimes evenhandedly, using the same criteria and practices of investigation and interpretation. "

Himka claims that he represents the c) position (one he claims to share with historiography’s latest darling Timothy Snyder). 

Even a cursory review of the titles of the 22 papers Himka has posted on suggest they all fall into the b) category. (The dozen papers I have actually read through are far from being evenhanded.)
Let’s first take a look at the framework reportedly proposed by Shevel at the 2011 convention of the Association for the Study of Nationalities. Don't take my word for it: judge for yourself.

Upon quick review, Shevel’s approach (as described by Himka) appears somewhat reasonable. Presented in such a way, the third way seems the most rational -- even elegant -- and one to which any sober-minded historic investigator would subscribe to.

But the Shevel-Himka approach* is fundamentally flawed in grouping all the crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine into two groups, namely crimes committed by: 

a)   Soviets, and 
b)   Nazis and nationalists. 

(Unfortunately, Himka does not specify the time period covered by the proposed framework, so let’s assume Shevel meant the years the Soviet, Nazis and Ukrainian nationalists were active in the last century. See Graph above.)

The flaws lie in oversimplification and arbitrary assignment of allegiances: Why are the crimes of the national socialists and nationalists grouped into one category? Why not separate the crimes into multiple separate categories according to perpetrators, and talk about the crimes committed by:

a) Soviets
b) Nazis, and
c) Nationalists

That’s because there was overlap between categories b) and c), a Himka might say. But was there not overlap between a) and b) as well? What about a) and c)? In other words, why aren’t the following categories valid?

d) Crimes perpetrated by the Soviets and Nazis
e) Crimes perpetrated by the Soviets and nationalists

While the latter category seems improbable, it certainly deserves investigation, for the purity of the scientific approach. The former category, however, deserves greater scrutiny, given what we now know about the causes, effects and details of the 1939-1941 Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact and accompanying agreements that allowed Hitler to get started in the first place. Talk about something that's been downplayed!

What about the crimes Hitler and Stalin committed together? Does John Demjanjuk fall into this category? He was sent to war by Stalin and ended it, supposedly, doing Hitler's dirty work.

In terms of investigating the “who is downplaying what” component, it gets even more complicated. But there are those in who focus, for example, on nationalist crimes and downplay Soviet and Nazi crimes – a category omitted in the Shevel-Himka framework – particularly when it comes to events that transpired between Ukrainians and Poles in Volyn during the Second World War. 

Oh yeah, then there is the issue of Polish crimes omitted from the proposed framework. So what about Soviet-Polish crimes? Polish-Nazi crimes? Polish-Ukrainian nationalist crimes?

The other important piece of information omitted from the Shevel-Himka framework is the identification of victims. Presumably they are referring to crimes against humanity in general terms, but the wording of the suggested framework betrays a bias towards a focus on the Holodomor and Holocaust only, i.e. they’re talking about Soviet crimes against Ukrainians, and the Nazi crimes against Jews.

What about Soviet crimes against Jews? What about Jewish involvement in Soviet crimes? (Delve into that topic and earn yourself the unshakable labels of “anti-Semite,” “fascist,” “Nazi,” which, thanks to the sustained efforts of the likes of Himka, our family is stuck with. And he’s kvetching about getting nasty emails!)

Himka claims he is for “complicated, messy, honest history” and that “ever since the time of the scientific revolution, it has been a principle of science and scholarship that arguments, not authorities, are required to settle disputes.” It seems to me that if you’re going to be scientific about history then all the “complicated” and “messy” permutations deserve investigation and argumentation. Honestly.

* Himka capitalizes the word “Soviets” yet writes “national socialist” in lower case.
** I’m taking Himka’s word that Shevel said what she said at the 2011 Association for the Studies of Nationalities convention, but adding the “Himka-“ qualifier just in case the proffessor got it wrong (mistakes do happen).