Tumult in Ukraine

Edward Chow, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, and Taras Kuzio, a senior fellow for Ukrainian studies at the University of Toronto, writing in the Moscow Times:

President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Ukraine this week is a continuation of the weekly meetings between the Russian government and the new leadership in Kiev at either a presidential or prime ministerial level since Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s election in February. The series of high-level meetings don’t appear to confirm Ukraine’s initial intent to establish a balanced foreign policy between Russia and the West.

After years of political crises and instability in Ukraine, the West greeted Yanukovych with a strong desire to believe his promise of bringing stability and reforms. Ukraine fatigue was replaced by wishful thinking.

Less than 100 days later, though, it should now be abundantly clear to Western governments and international organizations such as NATO and the European Union that neither stability nor reforms are in the cards for Ukraine, and there are five reasons for this:

1. The hope that Ukraine’s oligarchs, who bankrolled Yanukovych’s election campaign, now seek legitimacy as born-again businessmen and are keen to clean up their acts is a myth. Business and politics were tightly linked during Viktor Yushchenko’s presidency, despite his pledge to massive Orange Revolution crowds in 2004, and the umbilical cord between oligarchs and the state has become even closer following Yanukovych’s election. The oligarchs represent a dangerous threat to Ukraine’s young and fragile democracy as seen in growing protests by journalists who are threatened with the return of censorship under oligarch ownership of the media. A free and competitive media was the most important remaining legacy from Ukraine’s democratic breakthrough six years ago.

2. The West and Yanukovych understand stability in different ways. The West sees stability as the desire to reduce political conflict by pursuing national integration and consensus politics, while Yanukovych defines stability as monopolizing political and economic power. An acquiescent press, moot civil society and loyal political opposition represent stability to current Ukrainian leaders.

3. The gas lobby has regained its powerful position in government. Billions of dollars were earned by Ukraine’s gas lobby when the opaque gas intermediary RosUkrEnergo was operating between 2004 and 2008. Corruption in the energy sector has reduced popular trust in Ukraine’s state institutions and undermined the country’s democracy. Politicians tainted by corruption have little popular legitimacy.

4. The Yanukovych administration is seeking to undo the national consensus on a Ukrainian and European identity fashioned by the three previous presidents after independence into something resembling the Eurasianism that has emerged in Russia during the last decade under Vladimir Putin. This radical rewrite of Ukrainian identity will unleash what increasingly could become a violent reaction especially from pro-European young Ukrainians who have never known the Soviet Union.

One mimic of Russia is to rehabilitate Stalin and downplay his crimes against humanity. Yanukovych’s de facto denial of the 1933 famine in Ukraine in a speech to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on the same day that Ukraine ratified the treaty that extended the lease to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol poured oil onto a fire. Imagine an Israeli leader denying the Holocaust, and you can understand the reaction from patriotic Ukrainians.

5. Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov’s government has no plans to institute painful but highly necessary reforms in Ukraine. The government is a collection of yesterday’s bureaucrats from the corrupt and neo-Soviet era of former President Leonid Kuchma who will be quick to derail IMF-backed economic reforms.

In the three months since Yanukovych’s inauguration, the Kremlin has tried to cut as many deals as it can with the new Ukrainian government. The new Black Sea Fleet lease and the offer for Gazprom to absorb the Ukrainian state energy monopoly Naftogaz are just the beginning of its list of targeted takeovers as we see from the latest announcements.

Western preoccupation with priorities elsewhere in the world encourages Russia to test the limits of national and international tolerance. Russia knows exactly what it wants from Ukraine, but it seems that the West has failed to develop a clear strategy for partnership with Ukraine.

A nation of 46 million people at the heart of Europe has been left adrift to fend for itself. The Orange Revolution was a huge missed opportunity for both Ukrainians and the West to expand democracy and markets to the eastern fringe of Europe. By all indications, Russia is making sure that it doesn’t miss the next opportunity in Ukraine.

17 responses to “Tumult in Ukraine

  1. lol, “Yanukovych’s de facto denial of the 1933 famine in Ukraine in a speech to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg”. The reality is Yanukovych’s statement is de facto acceptance of the famine. What he denies is it that it was genocide. So much democracy and freedom of speech in that of the Ukraine in the old pro western government that made it illegal to make such statements. I am surprised anyone could write such a sloppy article, though nothing surprises me from a 20 year Chevron Corporation veteran. Chow’s recent attacks on the new Ukraine/Russian partnerships are more to do with who controls Ukraine’s largest assets its oil transport and storage facilities. In regards to Chows Cheveron chums the main point of concern is the use of the Odesa-Brody pipeline as storage and a route to Europe from the congested routes through Turkey and also cutting out Russian competition. Chows recent spate of attacks all come down to this Ukrainian oil infrastructure. What he fails to recognise is many Ukrainians are pro Russian and have spoken at the last election. If the west believes in democracy then it must accept this and accept Ukraine’s move back towards Russia. Ukraine is in an extremely strong position playing Russia against the west for a better deal. But make no bones about it Cheveron and its western cronies are looking to exploit Ukraine in exactly the same manner as the Russians.

    • Francis Smyth-Beresford

      Sing it loud, brother.

      “The hope that Ukraine’s oligarchs, who bankrolled Yanukovych’s election campaign, now seek legitimacy as born-again businessmen and are keen to clean up their acts is a myth.”

      Something that’s always made me curious; why is it that crooked businessmen with slimy ties to government figures are consistently referred to as “oligarchs”, and we are given to believe they are dirty scum, provided they do the bulk of their business in a former communist country – yet the same people in the U.S.A. are referred to as “business elites”?

      Consider Washington-Mutual CEO Alan Fishman. Brought in as a “hired gun” to try to save the company as things started to slide sideways in 2008, Fishman and WaMu were praying for a bailout after Lehmann Bros. had already been allowed to collapse. It didn’t happen; WaMu folded and was snapped up by JP Morgan Chase, the largest bank failure in history. After just 18 days in his new job, Fishman was entitled to $18 Million in bonuses, salary and severance.


      AIG’s CEO Martin Sullivan walked away with $47 Million in compensation after augering the company into the ground on full afterburner.


      “Stanley O’Neal walked away from Merrill Lynch with a package now worth about $66 million. Less than a year later, the storied investment house was forced into a takeover by Bank of America. Ken Thompson was ousted from Wachovia in June with a “golden parachute” now worth more than $5 million, and Chuck Prince was forced out at Citigroup with a parting gift now valued at $16 million.”

      When Kenneth “Kenny-Boy” Lay and Jeffrey Skilling blew Enron to pieces, $60 billion in market value vanished, $2.1 Billion in retirement savings was wiped out, and 5,600 people lost their jobs.


      Most of these men are still respected businessmen today, and many companies would hire them if the opportunity presented itself – with the exceptions of Skilling, who is in jail and Lay, who is allegedly dead.

  2. its true the so called oligarchs are no different that the neocons who bankrolled the orange revolution in the first place.

    The problem Ukraine has is its most prized asset is also its poisoned chalice, its oil infrastructure and geographical position. The Orange revolution was a chance for an independent democratic Ukraine taking its place democratically in unique position to trade with Russia and the west to the benefit for all none so more than its own citizens. Though that was not good enough for the neocons they greedily eyed up the gas and oil network and instead bankrolled a corrupt presidential candidate who divided the country. In one of his last acts of president already eliminated in the first round of elections with a tiny 5% of the vote he officially rehabilitated Stepan Bandera a racist fascist much to the anger of his own citizens but also most of Eastern Europe. The result is now the complete failure of the orange revolution with the then oust pro Russian leader Yanukovych now elected as president.

    It doesn’t get much better for the citizens of Ukraine corrupt politicians heavily influenced by the Russians and neocons who greedily try to steal or exploit their prized assets. Its time for Ukraine to truly revolt and elect a government who seeks the best for the citizens of Ukraine not the west or east.

    • Francis Smyth-Beresford

      A friend whose opinions I greatly valued once told me he reckoned as much as 70% of politicians went into the job more or less honest, meaning to represent their constituents fairly and to avoid corruption. According to his theory, they learned quickly that if you won’t participate in deal-making and tradeoffs, the rest of politics will split around you like a stream around a rock, and you’ll be left out of the action, isolated and ineffective. At that point, he suggested, they either decided to become part of the system, or left politics.

      Being part of the system, again according to him, might start out as simply as agreeing to vote for a colleague’s bill in exchange for his guarantee to vote for yours; something you really thought meant something, and deserved to become law. Before you know it, you’re making deals that your constituents would never approve of, and are just as dirty and corrupt as the rest.

      It’s sad if that’s the way it really is, but only a fool tries to deal with the world as he wishes it was. Ukraine’s eventual leader might be the very best politician the country can produce, upright and scrupulously honest, but if he or she is not prepared to compromise, the country will either be left out of the loop or he or she will be undermined in favour of a rat who will negotiate.

    • Neocons? Do you mean democrts have no “friendly business elites”?

  3. This is so funny. Three useful idiots having a chat and using disinformation. :)

  4. This may be long to read, but it was written UKRAINIAN INTELLIGENSIA and found in comments on another web site, AND NOT IN A NEWS ARTICLE.

    FSB making SBU act like KGB

    Memorandum Regarding the
    Visit to UCU of a representative of the
    Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) (former KGB)
    (responsible for contacts with Churches)

    18 May 2010, office of the rector, 9:50-10:34

    At 9:27 in the morning Fr. Borys Gudziak received a call on his private mobile phone from a representative of the Security Service of Ukraine requesting a meeting. The meeting was scheduled for 20 minutes later at the rectorate of UCU. This official had had contacts with the UCU rectorate a year ago at the time of the visit to the university of the then President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko. He had made a visit to the rectorate in the late afternoon on May 11 with regard to a request of the Ecumenical and Church History Institutes to sign an agreement to use the SBU archives. At that time members of the rectorate were away from the office. He had, what Dr. Antoine Arjakovsky, director of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies, called a “very good meeting.”

    Upon arrival on May 18 in a polite manner the agent related that certain political parties are planning protests and demonstrations regarding the controversial (and in some cases inflammatory) policies of the new Ukrainian authorities. Students are to be engaged in these protests. There is a danger that some of these manifestations may be marred by provocations. He stated that, of course, students are allowed to protest but that they should be warned by the university administration that those involved in any illegal activities will be prosecuted. Illegal activities include not only violent acts but also, for example, pickets blocking access to the work place of government officials (or any protests that are not sanctioned by authorities).

    After his oral presentation the agent put on the table between us an unfolded one-page letter that was addressed to me. He asked me to read the letter and then acknowledge with a signature my familiarity with its contents. He stated that after I had read and signed the letter it would be necessary for him to take the letter back. Since I could see that the document was properly addressed to me as rector (I also noticed that it had two signatures giving it a particularly official character) I replied calmly that any letter addressed to me becomes my property and should stay with me — at least in copy form.

    Only under these conditions could I agree to even read the letter (much less sign).

    The agent was evidently taken back by my response. It seemed that the situation for him was without precedent because in my presence using his mobile phone he called his (local) superiors to ask for instructions on how to proceed. The superior refused permission to leave me either the original letter or a copy, saying that the SBU fears I “might publish it in the internet.” I questioned this entire procedure and the need for secrecy and refused to look at the letter and read its contents. The young official was disappointed and somewhat confused but did not exert additional pressure and did not dispute my argumentation.

    Our conversation also had a pastoral moment. I cautioned the agent of the fact that the SBU as the former KGB, with many employees remaining from the Soviet times, has a heavy legacy of breaking and crippling people physically and morally and that he as a young married person should be careful not to fall into any actions that would cause lasting damage to his own identity and shame his children and grandchildren. I sought to express this pastorally as a priest. To his credit he both acknowledged the past and declared his desire to serve the needs of Ukrainian citizens. He also asked that I indicate to him if I feel that he is exercising improper pressure.

    Finally, I expressed my and the general population’s profound disappointment that the work of the SBU is so uneven, that security and police officers live lavishly on low salaries because they are involved in corrupt activities, and that the legal rights of citizens and equal application of the law are severely neglected. I gave the recent example of my cousin, Teodor Gudziak mayor of Vynnyky, who in February 2010 (three days after the election of the new president) was arrested in a fabricated case of bribery that was set up by a notoriously corrupt political rival and former policemen through the regional and city police. Despite the fact that two weeks before the fabricated affair the mayor, based on a vote of the town council, had given the SBU a video of plainclothes policemen breaking into his office and safe in city hall in the middle of the night and using town seals on various documents the SBU took no action. (The leadership of the Church, specifically Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, fears that by manipulated association this case may be used as a devise to compromise the rector of UCU and the whole institution which has a unique reputation of being free from corruption.) I also related that I had reliable testimony and audible evidence that my phone is tapped and has been for many months.

    The population of Ukraine continues to fear and distrust both state security and police personnel because of the woeful track record of law enforcement and because of the diffuse practice of police intimidation of honest politicians, journalist, common citizens and the wonton extortion practiced by security institutions and police with respect to middle and small business.

    I asked the young agent to convey these concerns to his superiors. I had the impression that personally he is open to moral argument but that he also was simply doing his job. It was clear to me that he was dutifully “following orders.”

    During our conversation the agent asked me about the imminent (May 20-22) General Assembly of the Federation of European Catholic Universities (FUCE) that will be hosted by UCU in Lviv. He characterized it as an important event (it has received considerable publicity) and asked about the program and whether it is open to the public. It was clear that he would have been interested in participating in the proceedings. I said that the main theme, “Humanization of society through the work of Catholic universities,” was announced in a press release as will be the outcome of the deliberations. The working sessions of the university rectors, however, are not open to the public. I explained that the 211 members of the International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU) and the 45 members of FUCE follow closely the development of the only Catholic university in the former Soviet Union. They will be monitoring the welfare of UCU, especially since in Japan in March at the annual meeting of the Board of Consultors of IFCU I had the opportunity to describe some of our socio-political concerns and the threats to the freedom of intellectual discourse (imposition of Soviet historical views, rehabilitation of Stalin and Stalinism, to whom a new monument was unveiled in Zaporizhzhia 5 May 2010) and new censorship of the press and television that are incompatible with normal university life.

    Subsequently, as had been arranged at the beginning of the meeting, I called in the UCU Senior Vice Rector Dr. Taras Dobko to whom the official repeated the SBU’s concerns.

    Besides noting the SBU’s solicitude for stability in Ukrainian society there are a few conclusions to be drawn from the encounter and the proposals that were expressed:

    1. Signing a document such as the letter that was presented for signature to me is tantamount to agreeing to cooperate (collaborate) with the SBU. The person signing in effect agrees with the contents of the letter and their implication.

    In KGB practice getting a signature on a document that was drafted and kept by the KGB was a primary method of recruiting secret collaborators.

    2. Such methods have no known (to me) precedent in independent Ukraine in the experience of UCU and of the Lviv National University whose longtime rector (and former Minister of Education, 2008–10) Ivan Vakarchuk I consulted immediately after the meeting. These methods were well known in the Soviet times.

    3. The confiscation of the letter after signature makes the letter and signature instruments to be used at the complete discretion of the SBU

    4. The possible scenarios for the exploitation of such a document include the following:

    a.) In case of the arrest of a student the SBU could confront the rectorate and charge that the university was informed of the danger to students and did not take necessary measures to protect them from violence or legal harm. In this case the university administration could be charged with both moral and legal responsibility. A charge with legal ramifications could become an instrument to try to force the university to compromise on some important principle (freedom of expression, forms of social engagement and critique, even religious practice, all of which have precedent in recent history). Furthermore, the authorities could use such a pretext to exert a high degree of pressure on the university to curb any and all protest by students.

    b.) After a hypothetical arrest of a student or students the students and their parents as well as other members of the university community could be shown the document with which the administration was warned and counseled to curb student activities. Since the administration did not stop the students from the activities that became the pretext for the arrest, parents or others could draw the conclusion that the university does not have adequate concern for the welfare of its students. This would be a most effective way of dividing the university community and undermining the university’s reputation among its most important constituents–students.

    5. The apparent genuine surprise of the agent at my refusal to do as requested could mean that he is not used to such a reaction. He had explained to me that he works with clergy on a regular basis. It could be assumed that other clergy (who work with youth, students, etc.) have been approached and that they have not refused to sign such documents.

    6. Measures of this nature create apprehension and unease. They are meant to intimidate university administrations and students. They are part of a whole pattern of practice that is well known to the Ukrainian population. The revival of such practices is a conscious attempt to revive the methods of the Soviet totalitarian past and to re-instill fear in a society that was only beginning to feel its freedom.

    7. Since only two of the approximately 170 universities of Ukraine have been voicing there protest regarding recent political and educational developments and many rectors have been marshaled/pressured to express their support regarding the turn of events, it is clear that in recent months fear and accommodation are returning to higher education at a rapid pace. It can be expected that UCU will be subject to particular attention and possible pressure in the coming months. The solidarity of the international community, especially the academic world, will be important in helping UCU maintain a position of principle regarding intellectual and social freedom.

    8. Speaking and writing openly about these issues is the most peaceful and effective manner of counteracting efforts to secretly control and intimidate students and citizens. As was apparent during this incident, state authorities are particularly sensitive about publicity regarding their activity. Information can have a preemptory, corrective and curing role when it comes to planned actions to circumscribe civic freedom, democracy, and the basic dignity of human beings.

    It should be noted that on 11 May 2010, when Ukrainian students were organizing protest activity in Lviv as well as Kyiv, a representative of the office of Ihor Derzhko, the Deputy Head of the Lviv Regional Administration responsible for humanitarian affairs called the rectorate and asked for statistics on the number of students participating in the demonstrations. UCU’s response was that the uniersity does not know how to count in that way.

    Please keep UCU and all the students and citizens of Ukraine in your thoughts and prayers.

    Fr. Borys Gudziak
    Rector, Ukrainian Catholic University
    19 May 2010

  5. Kyiv (AsiaNews) – Russia and Ukraine may no longer be at loggerheads over trade, energy or military bases, but Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s first official visit to Kyiv (today and tomorrow) for the official inauguration of the new Ukrainian administration of President Victor Yanukovich has not started without controversy, especially among Ukrainian nationalists, because of the presence in the Russian delegation of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov.

    In a recent interview, the Chechen leader, a close Kremlin ally, said, “Georgia, South Ossetia, Ukraine—all this will go on and on. This is a private disease in Russia. Why do we must always suffer if we can eliminate this problem? We are a great country; we have it all, military technology. We must attack.”

    Words aside, it is clear that the victory of pro-Russia Yanukovich is seen by many as a move towards Ukraine’s subordination to the Russian Federation. This is especially the case among Ukrainian nationalists and the country’s political opposition who are clearly irritated by the presence of a hawk like Kadyrov.


    • Can’t say Ukrainian nationalists evoke much interest nowdays, judging by th number of comments.

      PS. yes, I didn’t bother to read your above post.

      • Voice of Reason

        Ukrainian nationalists are unique in the modern World in that they openly worship Nazi criminals responsible for the Holocaust against Jews, Poles and Belorusans in WWII: Bendera and Shukhevych.

        • They not only openly support criminals, they also adhere to the same “values” now.

        • Most people do not realize that NAZI =

          same BS as the uncivilized pagan barbarians in the kremlin!

          Nazis believed in government control over just about everything. They promised to “take care” of the people. They directed the economy. They changed laws to meet their agenda, and the people’s rights were subordinate to the government.

          The Nazis, Socialists and Communist were and are leftist. The principle difference was that the Communists wanted to take ownership control of the means of production. The more Fascist Nazis and Socialists just wanted to control the means for production because they were already very aware of the disastrous failure of the Soviet Communist takeover of private enterprise.

          Nazis looked at the Communist (KPD) and Socialist (SPD) as their main obstacles to consolidating power, since they all expressed varying degrees of leftist socialist ideology.

          That is why the Nazis imprisoned their competitors for power.

          Conservatives, that is self-reliant free enterprise oriented people, loathed the Nazis. Nazi philosophy was not conservative, i.e., they did not believe in individual liberty or that individual rights came from God rather than the government. Actually they tried to replace religion with the Fuehrer.

          One of the invited speakers to this ICL class, B.F. Malac, a Czech survivor of both the World War II Nazi forced labor camps and the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia after WWII, was asked, “What were the differences between Nazis and Communists?” He succinctly relied, “There wasn’t a spits worth of difference between the two.”


        • VoR,

          I will repeat:

          Your repeated posting of this DISINFORMATION is intentional evil.

          11 November 2008

          On 11 November a meeting took place in the Moscow synagogue located in Mariina Roshcha between the chief rabbi of Russia, Berl Lazar, and the head of the main administration of the International “Eurasian Movement,” Pavel Zarifullin.

          During the talks Rabbi Lazar expressed his profound concern in connection with the revival of Nazism in Ukraine and the Baltic republics. He discussed the awarding of the title of “Hero of Ukraine” to the SS executioner Shukhevych. Russia’s chief rabbi emphasized that Ukraine’s accession to the EU and other international organizations should be prevented, and he appealed to the guests to use their connections and reputations in the struggle against the restoration of Nazism.

          On 17 September 2008 the well-known Russian journalist Aleksandr Prokhanov and editor of the newspaper Zavtra (Tomorrow)—of whom it is said, “What Putin has on his mind, Prokhanov has on his tongue”—the same Prokhanov who openly calls himself an imperialist—was interviewed by the Ekho Moskvy radio station: “Stalin is becoming the face of Russia…Russia is a potential superpower. Otherwise, it will fall apart.” He went on to declare: “We have achieved this very crisis in Ukraine.” In reply to the female journalist’s question, “What must be done right now?” he said: “Yushchenko must be neutralized.”

          High-ranking Russian politicians, particularly the mayor of Moscow, are publicly issuing claims to Ukrainian territory. Cultivated and welcomed by the Russian leadership, provocateurs are plundering national Ukrainian hallowed sites on Mt. Hoverla, and shredding and trampling the Ukrainian flag near the Ukrainian Embassy in Israel. During a press conference held on 28 October 2008 Vitaly Churkin, the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation at the UN, made the following comment about the Holodomor, the Great Famine of 1932-33 in Ukraine: “…the Ukrainian government is using this question in order to create mischief between our two fraternal nations and sow discord between our peoples…No matter what repressions or actions were carried out by the Stalinist regime, it cannot be called the primary cause of the Famine…And it is wrong to say that the Stalinist regime was against the Ukrainian people.”

          I don’t know if Churkin the diplomat has ever read Forever Flowing, a book about the Holodomor that was written by the famous Russian writer Vasily Grossman. I don’t know if Mr. Churkin reads anything besides “instructions from the Center.” But his statement is nothing but shameless profanity. The other comments that he made during that press conference at the UN headquarters are also nothing but shameless profanity and arrogant lies. I quote: “…The second question…which, in my opinion, has a definite, logical connection with the first, is the question of the heroization of Nazism…In his edict bestowing an award on one of the odious members of the Ukrainian Nazi movement, the President of Ukraine called Mr. Shukhevych, who was a Nazi, a hero…Do you remember that thousands of Jews were killed on the territory of Kyiv? The majority of the people who were killing Jews in Babyn Yar were Ukrainian Nazis.”

          “Ukrainian Nazis”? In other words, some Ukrainians who were supposedly members of Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers Party, the NSDAP, were shooting Jews in Babyn Yar, and not Germans from the Einsatzkommando? “Shukhevych, who was a Nazi”? In other words, Shukhevych, who was supposedly a member of the Nazi Party yet was based in Galicia, was in some fashion involved in the shootings in Babyn Yar? Anyone who says this is either an ignoramus or a disinformation specialist. I hope that Mr. Churkin is at least not an ignoramus.

          I would like to remind Mr. Churkin that from 1939 to 1941 the USSR, whose successor today is the Russian Federation, was an ally of Nazi Germany. How can one forget all those movie reels showing the joint Soviet-German military parades? I would also like to remind him of the way the special disinformation operation targeting Roman Shukhevych, the Commander in Chief of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), is being conducted today. Initially, a story was planted in the mass media, claiming that Shukhevych was an “SS captain.” The rebuttal to the disinformation specialists was that there was never any such rank. Then the disinformation specialists transformed Shukhevych into some sort of Obersturmfuehrer. It was explained to them that in order for an individual to become a member of the SS, he had to expend a lot of effort on proving his Aryan origins, which Shukhevych naturally did not have.

          Then the disinformation specialists planted another story in the mass media, this one claiming that Shukhevych had received a military decoration from Hitler himself. They were reminded that the only person had ever received a military decoration from Hitler was Himmler. According to documents stored in Germany’s Military Archive in Freiburg, the Commander in Chief of the UPA was never awarded any German decoration.

          But the disinformation specialists desperately need to discredit not only General Shukhevych and the UPA but the entire Ukrainian national liberation movement, as well as the president of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko.

          So they have resorted to an old Soviet secret police provocation by playing the “Jewish card”: they accuse some Ukrainians of destroying Jews, and others of turning into heroes those whom they were allegedly destroying. This is a well-known device: turn the Jews away from the Ukrainian renaissance, turn the Jews and the entire civilized world away from those who seek to restore a genuine Ukrainian Ukraine—Ukrainian in spirit, language, and remembrance of its geniuses and heroes—a Ukrainian Ukraine for all those who live in that country today, regardless of ethnic origins.

          In 1942-43 Natalia Shukhevych, the wife of UPA Commander in Chief Roman Shukhevych, hid a young Jewish girl named Ira Reichenberg in her home. General Shukhevych prepared a fake passport for the girl in the name of Iryna Ryzhko. When the Gestapo arrested Mrs. Shukhevych, the little girl was brought to an orphanage based at a convent located in the village of Kulykiv in the Lviv region. There the little girl survived the German occupation and the war. In 2007 Iryna Ryzhko died in Kyiv, where her son Volodymyr lives.

          I recounted all this during my briefing at Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 3 November 2008.

          President Victor Yushchenko has instituted state recognition of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. The mass media in Russia and beyond its borders, which are manipulated by Russia’s special services, have unfolded a frantic smear campaign against the UPA, which is accused of complicity in the destruction of the Jews. On 14 October 2008, the Feast of the Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary—the day set aside to pay homage to UPA soldiers—I gave an interview to the BBC. Here is a fragment:

          The claim that “the UPA engaged in anti-Jewish actions” is a provocation engineered by Moscow. It is a provocation. It is a lie that the UPA destroyed Jews. Tell me: how could the UPA have destroyed Jews when Jews were serving members of the UPA? I knew a Jew who served in the UPA. I also knew Dr. Abraham Shtertser, who settled in Israel after the war. There was Samuel Noiman whose [UPA] codename was Maksymovych. There was Shai Varma (codename Skrypal/Violinist). There was Roman Vynnytsky whose codename was Sam.

          There was another distinguished figure in the UPA, a woman by the name of Stella Krenzbach, who later wrote her memoirs. She was born in Bolekhiv, in the Lviv region. She was the daughter of a rabbi, she was a Zionist, and in Bolekhiv she was friends with Olia, the daughter of a [Ukrainian] Greek-Catholic priest. In 1939 Stella Krenzbach graduated from Lviv University’s Faculty of Philosophy. From 1943 she served in the UPA as a nurse and intelligence agent. In the spring of 1945 she was captured by the NKVD while meeting a courier in Rozhniativ. She was imprisoned, tortured, and sentenced to death. Later, this Jewish woman was sprung from prison by UPA soldiers. In the summer of 1945 she crossed into the Carpathian Mountains together with a group of Ukrainian insurgents, and on 1 October 1946 she reached the British Zone of Occupation in Austria. Eventually, she reached Israel. In her memoirs Stella Krenzbach writes:

          “I attribute the fact that I am alive today and devoting all the strength of my thirty-eight years to a free Israel only to God and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. I became a member of the heroic UPA on 7 November 1943. In our group I counted twelve Jews, eight of whom were doctors.”

          I trust that the Ukrainian state will name all of these individuals. The Ukrainian state will proclaim as heroes these people who, although they were not ethnic Ukrainians, fought for Ukraine’s independence. To me personally, the UPA is sacred. In my opinion, the UPA is sacred to all individuals who, regardless of their ethnic backgrounds, have a bit of Ukraine in their souls.

          Russia’s special services are seeking to destabilize the situation in Ukraine, undermine its sovereignty and independence, create a negative image of this country, block its integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures, and turn Ukraine into a dependent and manipulated satellite. In their special operations against Ukraine they attribute exceptional importance to the “Jewish card.”

          They want to set the Ukrainians and Jews against each other by means of the well known method of “Divide and conquer.” They will not succeed in either dividing us or ruling over us.

          Moses Fishbein is a distinguished Ukrainian poet and translator, winner of the Vasyl Stus Prize, and a member of the Ukrainian Center of the International PEN Club and the National Union of Writers of Ukraine. This is a paper delivered at the 26th Conference on Ukrainian Subjects at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, on June24-27, 2009.

  6. Russian Ambassador: Russians, Ukrainians ‘not simply fraternal peoples but a single people’


    Paul Goble

    Russia’s ambassador in Kyiv says Russians and Ukrainians “are not simply fraternal peoples – [they] are a single people. With their own nuances, with their own special features but a single people,” a statement that reflects both Moscow’s happiness with the new Ukrainian leadership and longstanding Russian views on Slavic ethnogenesis.

    In an interview in “Izvestiya v Ukraine” yesterday, Ambassador Mikhail Zurabov said that he has reached that conclusion on the basis of a long study of the demographic problems of Russia and particularly the famine in the early 1930s which resulted in the deaths of so many Russians and Ukrainians ( izvestia.com.ua/?/articles/2010/06/14/163217-19 ).

    Asked whether the election of Viktor Yanukovich had put an end to “discussions on historical questions,” Zurabov said that “everything that concerns the assessment of historical events which took place in our recent past is an internal affair of Ukraine.” But Moscow greets Yanukovich’s statement that the famine was “a common tragedy” of Russia and Ukraine.

    “I have spent a great deal of time on the demographic problems of Russia and well know that the policy which was conducted in those years of course cannot be called humane,” Zurabov continued. All the transformation measures of that period carried out “in the interests of a particular model of social development” resulted in “enormous human losses.”

    Zurabov said that “Russia also suffered terribly from this,” and consequently, he said, he “does not consider that this tragedy was exclusively a Ukrainian one. It is a common tragedy.” “And we always have supported this point of view” because “famine was not a selective policy.” It was directed “not selectively” but at the entire people.

    And that conclusion led the Russian representative to Ukraine to say that in his view, Russians and Ukrainians “are not simply fraternal peoples – we are a single people. With their own nuances and with their own special features, but a single people [‘narod’],” one of the strongest statements yet by a Russian official on the links between Ukraine and Russia.

    On the one hand, this represents little more than an indication of Moscow’s pleasure with Kyiv’s new approach. But on the other, and despite the fact that Zurabov was careful to use the Russian word “narod” rather than “natsiya,” much as the Soviets did with “Sovetsky narod,” Zurabov’s comments highlight Moscow’s views on the origins of the Slavic nations.

    While Western specialists on the ethnogenesis of the Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians generally argue that the three emerged at roughly the same time from East Slavic tribes but consolidated differently because of the very different history of statehood in the three, many Russian writers take a different view.

    Arguing that Kyiv is “the mother of Russian cities” because it was there that Vladimir accepted Orthodoxy, these Russian writers have argued that there was Russian ethnogenesis was the mainstream and that the Ukrainian and Belarusian nations were byproducts of this development rather than having independent roots.

    Even though the available ethnogenetic evidence points in a different direction, that view lies behind the interpretation of many Russian historians and also of many Western specialists who rely on them. More importantly, it helps to explain why so many Russians find it difficult to view Ukrainians and Belarusians as separate nations. Zurabov appears to be one of them.

    Meanwhile, a commentary in “Krymskoye vremya” yesterday both reflects and undercuts the argument that Zurabov made because it takes the existence of Russians and Ukrainians as separate nations seriously but then suggests that the way they are intertwined in Crimea particularly will either force the two states to cooperate — or Ukraine to collapse.

    In an essay provocatively entitled “Crimea as a Trojan Horse,” the newspaper’s commentator Aleksandr Mashchenko observes that both “Russian patriots” and “Ukrainian patriots” are wrong about Nikita Khrushchev’s decision to transfer Crimea from the RSFSR to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954 ( http://www.time4news.org/content/troyanskii-krym ).

    The “Russian” patriots, he points out, regularly denounced the Soviet leader for what they say was “an illegal, voluntarist decision” which since 1991 has left “hundreds of thousands of Crimeans” citizens of Ukraine, “a state which is often hostile to their historical motherland Russia.”

    “Ukrainian” patriots,” on the other hand, praise Khrushchev’s action as “a uniquely correct decision which in fact saved Crimea and the Crimeans” from disappearing as distinct entities, a fate that “Ukrainian patriots” are certain would have awaited all the residents of the peninsula.

    Both are wrong, Mashchenko argues, because each refuses to recognize some key facts of history and life. The latter do not see that Crimea is part of Ukraine only in the same way that some of its other oblasts are, and the former refuse to recognize that Khrushchev’s gift of Crimea to Ukraine was in fact “a Trojan horse” against the Ukrainians.

    “It is no secret for anyone,” he continues, “that Ukrainian independence was the result of a palace coup inside the Soviet political elite and that the contemporary Ukrainian state was created not as a result of an internal spiritual movement but as a result of an historical accident.” Moreover, he says, “its borders were defined by Stalin and regarding Crimea, by Khrushchev.”

    If Soviet leaders had not included within Ukraine the heavily Russian eastern district of Ukraine and Crimea, the “Krymskoye vremya” writer notes, “Ukraine would have a different president, a different prime minister, a different minister of education and so on and so forth.” Indeed, without its eastern parts, “Ukraine would have a principally different state policy.”

    That has led some commentators, including Igor Radziyevsky in his May 27 article in “Ukrainskaya Pravda,” to argue that the only likely outcomes for Ukrainian development are either fragmentation or continued instability generated by tensions between the two nations along with close ties to the Russian Federation.

    According to Radziyevsky, “the crisis [in this regard] will reach its apogee during the 2012 parliamentary elections” because “the opposition will not accept the official result and will accuse the powers that be of massive falsifications.” That will “paralyze” the country and Kyiv will be compelled to use force.

    “The only thing that can save Ukraine from a terrible civil war and absolute collapse,” Radziyevsky suggested in his article, is “a division” along national lines, the borders of which will be “the two-color map of the electoral division [of Ukraine] in the presidential elections of 2010.”

    If that were to happen, Mashchenko says, “Crimea as a Russian enclave would turn out to be a slow-acting mine placed under Ukrainian statehood by Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev.” Or, he writes, “using the ancient phraseology which is always justified in the Tauride, a Trojan horse, given by Russia to its ambitious south-eastern neighbor.”

    But even if Ukraine does not collapse, Khrushchev’s action in 1954 will play a role: “Having given Crimea, Khrushchev ‘tied’ Ukraine to Russia forever – or in any case as along as out peninsula will remain a part of Ukraine,” something he suggests “Russian patriots” should think about before they condemn the Soviet leader.

    Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia, he can be contacted directly at paul.goble@gmail.com. You can read all his blog entries at


  7. In honor of Ukraine’s Independence day, Jews sing the Ukrainian anthem in their language. :) Captions in English. :)

    Євреї співають гімн України :)

  8. BRAMA, August 27, 2010, 9:00 AM ET


    Independent Ukraine 2010
    By Bishop Paul Peter Jesep

    Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire, but with Ukraine suborned and then subordinated, Russia automatically becomes an empire,” wrote Polish-born Zbignew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter, over sixteen years ago in Foreign Affairs. This observation was as accurate then as it is in August 2010 when Ukraine celebrates nineteen years of independence from Muscovy.

    Sadly, the West still does not understand the nuances, complexities, and cultural-psychological dynamics between Ukraine and Russia. George W. Bush didn’t, nor does Barrack Obama. There are three areas that merit greater attention by the West for its own security, as Brzezinski identified, as well as its duty to affirm support for a free people.


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