Sowing Chaos (I)

KIEV/BERLIN | | ukraine

KIEV/BERLIN (Own report) - Fours years after the beginning of the Maidan protests, serious accusations are being leveled against leading activists of the pro-western opponents of the reigning government, at the time. Three Georgians, who incriminate themselves for their own participation, have told the Italian media that the snipers, who had unleashed the February 20, 2013 Maidan massacre, had allegedly been acting under orders - and with the practical support - of the opposition. Their statements confirm the confessions made earlier - some even in publicly - by other snipers. There has been no reaction from Ukrainian authorities. While Kiev is marking the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the protests this week, more than three-fourths of the population sees their country as plunged into ruin and chaos, according to a poll. The power of the Ukrainian oligarchs is still intact and corruption is becoming rampant. Only anti-Russian measures are being successfully executed including those massively limiting freedom of the press.

The Power of the Oligarchs

Four years after the beginning of the Maidan protests on November 21, 2013, the abuses, which also had provoked the demonstrations, are still prevalent throughout the country, which is now oriented on the West. The power of the oligarchs is still intact. Already one year ago, experts noted that even though there have been some reshuffles amongst divers fractions of the oligarchs, (german-foreign-policy.com reported [1]) it does not change the fact that they are still largely controlling Kiev's politics. This has been confirmed by recent studies. The last two decades have shown "that the periodical changes of political regime in Ukraine have had merely a limited effect on the oligarchic system," according to the authors of an analysis by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). Even after the February 2014 putsch, oligarchs are still in control of "strategic branches of the economy" - for example, around 80% of the Ukrainian television market.[2] "There has not been much change," notes the Brussels think tank Bruegel, "the political influence of some oligarchs increased even further."[3] In fact, since 2014, an oligarch is officially leading the country - President Petro Poroshenko.

Corruption and Fake News

Corruption continues at high levels. For example, the case of Interior Minister Arsen Avakov's son, who sold backpacks to the army at six times their normal price, allegedly, causing damage in the six-digit euros. When the National Anti-Corruption Bureau searched the man's house, the National Guard, under the responsibility of the interior minister intervened and halted the search - under the pretext of having to vacate the building because of a bomb threat.[4] This is but a minor case, when compared to others. Serhiy Leshchenko, a staunch supporter of the putsch, who has worked as an investigative reporter for the pro-western daily Ukrainska Prawda, before he was elected to the Ukrainian parliament and became a member of the its Anti-Corruption Committee, is regularly voicing sharp criticism. In the parliament, Leshchenko reports, "corruption is in the air," which is particularly evident when the budget has to be passed. The respective parliamentary sessions last "until five in the morning, because the corrupt interests of all the politically influential centers must be satisfied."[5] According to Leshchenko, the President not only personally controls the state attorney's office, but even the secret service that has "civil society activists, independent journalists and politicians of the opposition" under surveillance and intervenes "in the settlement of business conflicts." To discredit the critics, a "Ukrainian troll factory" has been established - "a center to produce fictitious internet users and fake news for information attacks on regime opponents."

Decay and Chaos

Oligarchic rule and corruption in a persisting disastrous social and economic situation is now having an effect on the mood of the Ukrainian population. For example, only 17 percent of the Ukrainians have the feeling that a "consolidation" - by whatever definition - is taking place in the country; 75 percent describe the current development as "decay," 85 percent call it simply "chaos," and 69 percent are convinced that it is easily conceivable that demonstrations against the pro-western government could take place throughout the country.[6] President Poroshenko's popularity rating has plunged dramatically - according to varying opinion polls - to between two to six percent.[7]

Freedom of the Press under Attack

Not just the Ukrainian government's corruption but even some of its exorbitant Russophobia has provoked criticism from some of the foreign Maidan sympathizers. For example, President Poroshenko's decision last May, not only to annul the Russian television's Ukrainian license, but also to shut down the popular Russian social network "VKontakte" ("In Contact") and "Odnoklassnike" ("Classmates") as well as the "mail.ru" email provider has provoked angry protests. Human Rights Watch criticized these measures as "cynical, politically calculated attacks on millions of Ukrainians' right to information." Reporters Without Borders complained that this amounts to an "unacceptable assault on freedom of expression and the press."[8] Kiev also recently passed a new language law, which severely restricts the use of the country's minority languages. This affects, above all the Russian-speaking minority, which, even after the secession of Crimea and parts of Eastern Ukraine, is still quite large. However, because these measures also affect Ukraine's Hungarian-speaking minority, the Hungarian government has announced that it would block Kiev's rapprochement efforts toward the EU and NATO until this law is repealed.

On Orders of Pro-Western Forces

Whereas the political leaders of the pro-western Ukraine festively celebrate the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the Maidan demonstrations, new reports have become available indicating that the February 20, 2014 bloodbath in Kiev - which gave the last incitement to escalation of protests, leading to the overthrow of the Yanukovych government - had been triggered by snipers, working on orders of government opponents. One of the snipers had already admitted to this back in February 2015, thereby confirming what had become common knowledge just a few days after the bloodbath in Kiev. In a secretly recorded telephone call, the Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet had reported to the EU*s head of Foreign Policy, Catherine Ashton, in early March 2014, that there was widespread suspicion that "someone from the new coalition" in the Ukrainian capital may have ordered the sniper murders. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[9]) In February 2016, Maidan activist Ivan Bubenchik confessed that in the course of the massacre, he had shot Ukrainian police officers. Bubenchik confirmed this in a film that had attracted international attention.[10]

"Shooting Indiscriminately"

Last week, the Italian daily "Il Giornale," as well as the "Canale 5" television channel published a report revealing more details. Three Georgians reported that on the day of the shooting, they too had been employed by the opponents of the government at the time as snipers. They say that they had been explicitly ordered to shoot at both policemen and demonstrators - to "sow chaos."[11] If this is true, the official narrative, also propagated by the government in Berlin - that the Ukrainian government's repressive forces had deliberately committed the February 20 massacre - caves in. Equally grave is the fact that the three Georgians are not only heavily implicating themselves, but their testimonies substantiate grave suspicions around some of the influential politicians in the current pro-western Ukraine. german-foreign-policy.com will report more soon.

 

[1] See also Zauberlehrlinge (III).

[2] Wojciech Konończuk, Denis Cenușa, Kornely Kakachia: Oligarchs in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia as key obstacles to reforms. Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency 24.05.2017.

[3] Marek Dabrowski: Ukraine's oligarchs are bad for democracy and economic reform. bruegel.org 03.10.2017.

[4] Reinhard Lauterbach: Solide zerstritten. junge Welt 04.11.2017.

[5] Sergej Leschtschenko: Markenzeichen Korruption. zeit.de 05.05.2017. See also Das korrupteste Land in Europa.

[6] Umfragen zur Entwicklung der sozialen Lage und zur Proteststimmung in der Bevölkerung. In: Ukraine-Analysen Nr. 191, 15.11.2017.

[7] Reinhard Lauterbach: Solide zerstritten. junge Welt 04.11.2017.

[8] Zitiert nach: Steffen Halling: Kritiklos heraus aus dem Netz des Feindes? In: Ukraine-Analysen Nr. 186, 14.06.2017. S. 2f.

[9] See also The Kiev Escalation Strategy and From Račak to Maidan.

[10] Katya Gorchinskaya: He Killed for the Maidan. foreignpolicy.com 26.02.2016.

[11] Gian Micalessin: La versione dei cecchini sulla strage di Kiev: "Ordini dall'opposizione". ilgiornale.it 15.11.2017.