Archive | April 5th, 2014

Ukrainian warships voluntarily leave Sevastopol: sources

NOVANEWS

 

Ukrainian frigate The Hetman Sagaidachny, left, in the formation of Russian Black Sea Fleet ships at a parade on Russian Navy Day in Sevastopol. (RIA Novosti/Alexey Kudenko)

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About 10 Ukrainian Black Sea Fleet ships have left the naval base in Sevastopol, with several vessels now heading to Odessa, administrative sources have said. The ships left the base voluntarily but some of them broke down and returned, they claimed.

Facts  you need to know about Crimea and why it is in turmoil

Over the last 24 hours, “about 10 [war]ships and vessels of  the Ukrainian Black Sea Fleet have left the Sevastopol  base,” a source in the government of the Autonomous Republic  of Crimea told Interfax on Sunday.
“Naturally, no one has compelled them to do so,” the  government source added.
The administration of the Crimean autonomy has nothing to do with  the moves of the Ukrainian ships, an administrative source also  told RIA Novosti.
Several vessels have since returned to the base in Sevastopol  “because of malfunctions,” the source said.
Meanwhile, former Ukrainian troops were due to swear allegiance  to the Crimean authorities in Sevastopol at 5pm local time (15:00  GMT). An unnamed official source earlier told RIA Novosti that  “the majority of the Ukrainian armed forces deployed in  Crimea” have passed to the side of the region. The transition was  made “without a single shot fired,” the source said.
Ukrainian state agencies have been categorically denying both the  claims of Ukrainian soldiers switching sides en masse and,  earlier, reports of warships leaving Sevastopol.
However, the governor of southern Ukrainian Odessa Region told  local media that several Ukrainian ships are sailing to the city  of Odessa and it is being decided where they will dock.
A Russian media report on Saturday claimed that Ukraine’s Navy flagship, the Hetman  Sahaidachny frigate has refused to follow orders from Kiev, came  over to Russia’s side and was returning home from the Gulf of  Aden flying the Russian naval flag. Various Ukrainian media  denied the report as “false” and “propaganda,”but gave only a Facebook statement of a former Navy officer  turned journalist in support of the rebuttal.

This comes as the newly appointed Navy Chief rear admiral Denis  Berezovsky has sworn allegiance to the people of Crimea, according  to RIA Novosti.

“I, Berezovsky Denis, swear allegiance to the Crimean people  and pledge to protect it, as required by the [army]  regulations,” Berezovsky said.

Hours after the announcement, the self-proclaimed government in  Kiev dismissed the Navy Chief and launched a treason case against  him.

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The Media’s Disinformation Campaign on Ukraine: “There are No neo-Nazis in the Interim Government”

NOVANEWS
Global Research

 

Since the overthrow of the Yanukovych government in Ukraine at the end of February 2014, the mainstream media en masse has attempted to whitewash the nature of the current Ukrainian government. This has occurred even in some progressive publications and websites, e.g., a recent two-part series in Rabble.ca.

As soon as this government took over, the New York Times referred to it as a new wave of democracy, and this then set the tone for the media in the West. Although here and there it’s sometimes mentioned that Svoboda, a member of the coalition government, “once had some quasi-fascist inclinations,” that’s as far as it goes. All else about Svoboda and the paramilitary Right Sector has been effectively swept off into Orwell’s memory hole.

This is not to say that no one on the Internet has commented on the true nature of Svoboda. To their credit a number of well qualified observers have had no problem spelling out that Svoboda has a solid neo-nazi fascist basis, and not just “inclinations” towards these beliefs. For example, consider the views of Max BlumenthalProfessor Stephen F. CohenProfessor Francis Boyle,Professor Michel Chossudovsky,Dr. Inna RogatchiDavid SpeedieDr. Paul Craig RobertsOleg ShynkarenkoAndrew Foxall and Oren Kessler.

Rather than simply plead ignorance about the depth of fascist-racist beliefs in the Svoboda membership, the least the mainstream media could have done was to mention that the European Parliament took the unusual step in December of 2012 to pass a resolution of concern about the unsavory nature of Svoboda.The Parliament’s resolution #8 states as follows:

[The European Parliament] is concerned about the rising nationalistic sentiment in Ukraine, expressed in support for the Svoboda Party, which, as a result, is one of the two new parties to enter the Verkhovna Rada; recalls that racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views go against the EU’s fundamental values and principles and therefore appeals to pro-democratic parties in the Verkhovna Rada not to associate with, endorse or form coalitions with this party.

Svoboda was founded in 1991 as the Social National Party of Ukraine – its name unmistakably being an intentional reference to Adolph Hitler’s National Socialist party and it used the Nazi Wolfsangel logo which closely resembles a swastika. In 2004, with the arrival of OlehTyahnybok as leader, the party changed its name to Svoboda to somewhat moderate its image while nevertheless retaining its neo-Nazi core. Also to soften its image it changed its Nazi logo to a stylized three-finger salute.

From its very beginnings as the Social National Party, Svoboda has idolized Stepan Bandera, a Nazi collaborator who formed the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and organized the Ukrainian Waffen SS Galician Division – from 82,000 initial Ukrainian volunteers, the Nazis trained only 13,000 for battle. The division was then sent to fight the Russian and Ukrainian Soviet army, but this unit was decimated at the 1944 Battle of Brody, leaving only 3,000 who went on to form the nucleus of a further rebuilt SS division, later to become the core of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA).

Aside from fighting the Soviet army, Bandera’s forces assisted the Nazis by willingly killing off tens of thousands of Poles and Jews, and actively took part in the BabiYar massacre and the Holocaust in general. Although Bandera had some disagreements with the Nazis and was imprisoned for a while, he and his followers never disagreed with the Nazi Jewish policy in Ukraine, which eventually killed over 1.5 million Ukrainian Jews.

Bandera had the delusional idea that if Ukrainians helped the Nazis to fight the Soviet forces and that if the Nazis won the war and conquered the USSR, Bandera would somehow manage to establish a “free Ukraine,” independent from the Nazi regime. This was an utter delusion which disregarded Hitler’s Lebensraum objective and the fact that the Nazis considered all Slavs to be sub-humans (untermenschen).

Despite all this, Svoboda’s current leader Oleh Tyahnybok remains totally unrepentant. In 2004, in a speech at the grave-site of a commander of the UPA, he urged Ukrainians to fight against the “Muscovite-Jewish mafia” and lauded the World War II Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists for having fought “Muscovites, Germans, Jews and other scum who wanted to take away our Ukrainian state.”Tyahnybok’s deputy, Yuri Mikhalchishin,a Svoboda ideologist, has founded a think tank called the Joseph Goebbels Political Research Centre. He has also translated and published articles of Hitler regime “classics” and has named the Holocaust as a “bright period” in European history.

It is worthy of note that what separates Germany from the Bandera Nationalists in Ukraine is that Germany has taken responsibility for the atrocities they committed. Contrast this to Lviv, Ukraine, where surviving members of the WW2 Galician SS, willing participants in genocide, still parade on holidays, proudly displaying medals given them by the German Third Reich. In July of 2013 the Svoboda party organized a rally to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the 14thWaffen SS Division. And on January 1, 2014, to commemorate Bandera’s 105th birthday, about 15,000 Svoboda supporters marched through Kyiv, some wearing Nazi SS Waffen army uniforms.

It is because of these incontestable facts that the European Parliament took the unusual step to pass a resolution of concern about the alarming nature of Svoboda. Recently, an American mainstream publication, Foreign Policy, stated:

“The uncomfortable truth is that a sizeable portion of Kiev’s current government –and the protesters who brought it to power – are, indeed, fascists. . . . Party leader OlehTyahnybok is on record complaining that his country is controlled by a ‘Muscovite-Jewish mafia,’ while his deputy derided the Ukrainian-born film star Mila Kunis as a dirty Jewess.’ In Svoboda’s eyes, gays are perverts and black people unfit to represent the nation at Eurovision, lest viewers come away thinking Ukraine is somewhere besides Uganda.” Yuri Syrotyuk, speaking on behalf of Svoboda, made a further racist comment: “Millions of people who will be watching will see that Ukraine is represented by a person who does not belong to our race.”

Not only does the mainstream media fail to deal with the underlying fascist beliefs of Svoboda, most extend the cover-up by glibly pointing out that right-wing parties exist in several European countries, so this is no big deal. In saying this, they studiously avoid disclosing that in all these countries the right-wing parties are totally excluded from any role in government, but this is not the case now in Ukraine. For the first time since the Nazi era, a basically fascist movement has entered a European government and holds key positions of power. Interestingly, so far there hasn’t been a peep about this from the European Parliament who very recently (as cited above) urged the Ukrainian Rada“not to associate with, endorse or form coalitions with this party.”

Dmitry Yaroch (centre), leader of Right Sector

Although many in the media dismiss the Right Sector (Pravy Sektor) as insignificant, this body was formed in 2013 as an umbrella organization that included several paramilitary groups, including the Ukrainian National Assembly-Ukrainian National Self Defense (UNA-UNSO) whose members dress in uniforms modelled on Hitler’s Waffen SS and have been fighting Russia for years, including in Chechnya.

As of March 22, 2014, all these individual groups have coalesced into the Right Sector and have declared themselves to be an official political party, with Dmytro Yarosh as their presidential candidate in the coming election. In the meantime, Russia has put Yarosh on an international wanted list and charged him with inciting terrorism after he urged Chechen terrorist leader Doku Umarov to launch attacks on Russia over the Ukrainian conflict. Yaroshhas also threatened to destroy Russian pipelines on Ukrainian territory.

In trying to downplay the significance and role of Svoboda and the Right Sector, the media usually point out that Svoboda has only 8 percent of the seats in the Rada and that the Right Sector doesn’t have any elected members, thus making it appear that these parties are of little consequence. The startling fact not revealed is that Svoboda has seven members within the government’s 21-member cabinet, so they compose one-third of the cabinet – all in the most key and powerful positions. Moreover, the Right Sector has a role in government as well; its leader DmytroYarosh is in charge of the police as the Deputy Secretary to the Minister of National Security.

As such, these two neo-Nazi parties have been entrusted with key positions which grant them de facto control over the Armed Forces, Police and National Security. Certainly this information is of the utmost importance – but it is practically never mentioned in the media. Why is this? Essentially, reporting of this type puts forth a very favourable propaganda image of the provisional government. In reality, in putting forth propaganda, what is not said is often every bit as important as what is said. At the very least this is damaging misinformation.

Because the issue of the role of Svoboda in Ukraine’s government is so fundamentally important, let’s take a look at the cabinet membership.

Oleksandr Sych– Deputy Prime Minister, a Svoboda parliamentarian, the party’s chief ideologist, and a virulent anti-abortion activist

IhorTenyukh – Minister of Defence, member of Svoboda’s political council, and formerly commander of Ukraine’s navybut was dismissed from his post when he tried to help Georgia following its military attack on South Ossetia which Russia quickly rebuffed.

AndriyParubiy– Secretary of the National Security and National Defense Committee (RNBOU), co-founder of the Social-National Party of Ukraine (Svoboda). This is a key position which oversees the Ministry of Defense, the Armed Forces, Law Enforcement, National Security and Intelligence. The RNBOU is central decision-making body. While it is formally headed by the president, it is run by the Secretariat with a staff of 180 people including defense, intelligence and national security experts. Parubiy was the head “kommandant” of the MaidanRight Sector forces and directed the masked armed men who battled the police.

OlehMakhnitsky – Prosecutor-general, Svoboda member of parliament. With this appointment Svoboda will control the judicial process.

IhorShvaika – Minister of Agriculture, an agro-oligarch and a member of Svoboda. As one of the richest men in the country, his massive investments in agriculture would seem to indicate a slight conflict of interest.

AndriyMoknyk – Minister of Ecology, Deputy Chairman of the Svoboda party and a member of their Political Council, and has been Svoboda’s envoy to other European fascist parties.

SerhiyKvit –Minister of Education, a leading member of Svoboda, noted for his efforts to glorify those who inspiredthe Bandera fascists in World War II.

DmytroYarosh – Deputy head of the National Security Council, to be in charge of the police. Yarosh is the founder-leader of the paramilitary “Right Sector,” and together with Parubiy they directed the demonstrations at Maiden.Years back, Yorash fought alongside Chechen Islamists, and proudly claims that he personally killed a large number of Russian soldiers.

So although Svoboda has only 8 percent of the members in the Ukrainian parliament, they, along with the Right Sector, compose more than a third of the government’s cabinet, including some of the key positions. Hence they have a totally disproportionate share of power, and to compound the problem, Svoboda have no elected members from the entire southeastern part of Ukraine, which has more than half of Ukraine’s population.

A further problem is that it appears there are few, if any members, from southeastern Ukraine in the entire cabinet. As such, over half the country’s population has little or no representation in the interim government’s cabinet, so on this basis alone it lacks legitimacy.

As an indication of how this fascist-inspired government would function, the day after it came into power its very first action was to pass a bill to revoke Ukraine’s very tolerant multicultural language law. In effect the bill banned the use of Russian, Hungarian, Moldovan and Romanian in any official capacity. The bill also includes a provision to ban all Russian language media in Ukraine. Immediately afterwards the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on Ukraine’s new regime to respect the rights (and languages) of its minority population. Following this outcry and condemnation, Interim President OleksandrTurchynov vetoed bill and asked that it be rewritten to be more acceptable.

But the damage was done and this mean-spirited action alerted all minority groups to what the future would hold, especially since some Svoboda members have threatened to ban the Russian language completely and even strip the Ukrainian citizenship of the nation’s Russian speakers. Moreover, a further bill has been advanced that would overturn a law that forbids “denying or excusing the crimes of fascism”. All this is surely asign of possible future discrimination against minority groups.

To put this issue in perspective for Canadians, just imagine if a newly installed government in Ottawa would suddenly ban the use of French as an official language in Canada. How long would it take for Quebec to call for a referendum and then proceed to secede from Canada? In actuality, this is exactly what happened in Crimea, where the bulk of the people speak Russian. They called for a referendum and on March 16, with a turnout of over 80 percent, there was a 97 percent vote to secede from Ukraine. Since ethnic Russians form only 58 percent of the population, it means that the bulk of Ukrainians and Tatars in Crimea also voted to secede from Ukraine.

In Ukraine about 8.3 million people, almost one-fifth of the population, described themselves in the country’s last census as ethnic Russians. However, the Russian language is spoken by at least one quarter of the population and perhaps by as much as 40 percent. Russian speakers are especially concentrated in the southern and eastern parts of Ukraine. With respect to the prevalence of Russian language, Dr. VitalyChernetsky, a Slavic languages professor at the University of Kansas, has noted if one looks at an average Ukrainian newsstand, one will find that about 90 percent of the publications are in Russian, even in areas where the majority of the population speaks Ukrainian. “The Russian language also dominates the radio,” he said. “The only segment of the media where the Ukrainian language predominates is the national-level television channels.” Hence for this new government to put drastic restrictions on Russian media and the language is a fanatical bizarre course of action.

Going back to how this new government was formed, it is invariably made to appear that there had been a legitimate transfer of power at the end of February. It is usually pointed out that Victor Yanukovych was impeached by a unanimous vote of 328-0, or by 73 per cent of the deputies of the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada. What is seldom revealed is that Ukraine’s constitution stipulates that it requires a 75 percent vote of the members of the Rada to legitimately impeach a president. Given this, although Yanukovych was removed from office, it was done in violation of Ukraine’s constitution, and as such this was not a legal impeachment – it was plainly and simply a coup d’état. Furthermore, what preceded this vote was a semi-riot in the Rada brought on by an invasion of armedRight Sector protestors. It is because of this that more than a quarter of the members of the Rada fled, in fear of their lives – hence the insufficient number for the impeachment vote.

A matter that is seldom mentioned is the February 21 agreement, brokered by Germany, France and Poland, between the Yanukovych government and the protestors to end the three-month long confrontation. The agreement was signed by President Yanukovych and the three opposition party leaders Arseny Yatsenyuk, Vitalty Klitchko, and Oleh Tyahnybok. The agreement called for early parliamentary and presidential elections, the return of the 2004 constitution and the formation of a temporary government of national unity. If an early election were held it was certain that the Yanukovych government would have been defeated.

When the agreement was announced to the protestors in Maiden Square, the leaders of the armed paramilitary Right Sector immediately rejected a peaceful settlement, and were determined to carry on with their armed protest. Despite this, the blundering Yanukovych inexplicably ordered the police to withdraw from guarding the parliament and government buildings, and he himself flew to a prearranged meeting in the city of Kharkov. As such the compromise agreement for a peaceful settlement did not last a single day – on February 22 the Right Sector armed mobs stormed the government buildings and staged a coup in the parliament. And the rest is history as they say.

Strangely, there were no protests from the governments of Germany, France and Poland on behalf of their emissaries who had arranged for a peaceful transition of power in Ukraine. Instead, the obvious coup d’état was never acknowledged and the coup government has been accepted as legal, and the inclusion of fascist elements in a European government for the first time since Hitler left the scene is seemingly no cause for alarm. So much for the warnings from the European Parliament “not to associate with, endorse or form coalitions with this party (Svoboda).” And it seems that even the Right Sector . . . is all right.

True to form, many in the media ridicule the idea that the USA had any role in helping to foment the demonstrations which resulted in the overthrow of a corrupt but nevertheless legally elected government. As Diana Johnstone in a recent article has stated:

“The U.S. Undersecretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, Victoria Nuland, has openly boasted that the United States has spent five billion dollars to gain influence in Ukraine – in reality, in order to draw Ukraine away from Russia and into the U.S. military alliance.”

Indeed, the mainstream media has been so effective that as Ms Johnstone puts it

“much of public opinion seems to accept the notion that the villain of this story is the Russian president, who is accused of engaging in unprovoked aggression against Crimea – even though he was responding to one of the most blatant provocations in history.”

At the time of the dissolution of the USSR, the USA assured Gorbachev that NATO would never extend into any of the buffer states bordering Russia. This promise was violated almost immediately and NATO has expanded into all these bordering states, except so far into Ukraine.

It would be naive in the extreme to assume that the Orange Revolution of 2004 and the recent U.S. gambit led by Victoria Nuland was not aimed at bringing Ukraine, including the main Russian naval base at Sebastopol, into the NATO orbit. This is in spite of the fact that polls in Ukraine as a whole show that about70 percent of the population is against joining NATO. The strategic function of placing missiles in Ukraine would be to provide the United States with a hypothetical nuclear first strike capacity against Russia. Putin is no fool and that is why he took advantage of the overwhelming desire of thepeople of Crimea to secede from Ukraine.

The issue of the sniper killings in Maidan Square has been downplayed by the media – with the exception The Guardian and the RT television channel there was initially no mention of the intercepted phone conversation between the Estonian foreign minister and the EU foreign affairs chief. The Estonian foreign minister related that he had been told that the snipers responsible for killing police and civilians in Kiev last month were protest movement provocateurs rather than supporters of then-president Viktor Yanukovych. This is vitally important information but somehow this was ignored by the entire American media. It was only after Russia made appeals to the European Union to investigate who was responsible for the killings (which included police and protestors) that the new Ukrainian government made a move to start an investigation. So far nothing has come of this except for the original account that this had been ordered by Yanukovych, with the most recent suggestion that this was the work of Russian agents.

This matter raises the question cui bono? The killings occurred on February 21, the very day that the European emissaries were trying to work out a peaceful resolution to the three-month protest movement. Why would Yanukovych or Russia want to scuttle the possibility of a peaceful resolution? On the other hand, the last thing the heavily armed hardcore fascist Right Sector paramilitary mob wanted was a peaceful solution – they kept demanding the overthrow of the government. Moreover, these were the people who brandished assault rifles and they occupied and controlled most of the tall buildings surrounding the square – buildings from which the shots were fired. How could it be possible for Yanukovych’s police or Russian agents, armed with assault rifles, to pass unnoticed through the crowds of protestors and enter buildings occupied by the protestors?

The sniper killings changed the entire tone of the protest movement. If the protests had been violent before, after the sniper killings the violence escalated. It was at this point that the parliamentary leaders announced to the enraged mob that they had reached an agreement with the government to have an early election and that the protest should end. These leaders were booed and DmytroYarosh, the head of the Right Sector, vowed to carry on until the government was defeated. The next day, with the police no longer on the scene, the armed mob took over all government buildings and the parliament. And the rest we know – a legally elected government (no matter that it was corrupt) was deposed by means of a coup d’état. But the word “coup d’état”is verboten in all of our media, with the sole exception of RT, which is prepared to call a spade a spade.

As for the investigation about the sniper killings, ironically, Dmytro Yarosh, the leader and founder of the Right Sector is now a deputy minister . . . in charge of the police!AndriyParubiy was the official“kommandant” of the Right Sector forces and the person in charge of all the occupied tall buildings surrounding the Maidan Square . . . but he is now the headNational Security and Law Enforcement. But of course there will be a thorough investigation into the sniper killings . . .

With Ukraine now having Europe’s first government since Hitler’s time to include fascists in high profile cabinet positions, one might wonder how their presence affects the operation of the government. On the very first day when this government“impeached” Yanukovych (legally invalid because the Rada lacked the proper quorum to do so), this video shows the rowdiness and intimidation that occurred in Ukraine’s parliament at that time. A further video shows the decorum and behaviour of this new element in the operations of the government. In an unnamed regional parliament a Right Sector “enforcer” came in with a Kalashnikov and lectured the members, saying,“Who wants to take away my machine gun, my pistol, my knives?” The scene was filmed and the video went viral, racking up more than 50,000 views in the first three days.

Another Right Sector video shows one of their members, Olexandr Muzychko, as he barged into a prosecutor’s office in the Rovno Oblast and proceeded to threaten and rough up the official, much in the line of Hitler’s brownshirts in a different era.

A prominent figure in Svoboda,Muzychko has publicly vowed to fight “against Jews, communists, and Russian scum” for as long as he lives. And finally, and equally ominous, on March 18 several Svoboda members of Parliament, including the deputy head of Ukraine’s committee on freedom of speech, stormed their way into the offices of the president of the National Television Company of Ukraine and after beating up the official they forced him to resign.

They were furious and called it treasonous that the national TV companyshowed Russian President Putin signing a bill to make Crimea part of Russia. This would be the equivalent of Canadian MPs forcing the president of the CBC to resign. Instead of protesting this fascist behaviour, Canada’s Prime Minister Harper visited Kiev recently to offer Canada’s full support for a regime that includes neo-nazis.

There are many other significant matters that the mainstream media has ignored. To put these issues in better perspective, here are a few salient points from Katrina vandenHeuvel, editor of The Nation:

“Yanukovych’s decision to postpone the EU’s association agreement was not irrational. It would have forced Ukraine to decide between Russia and the EU, flatly rejecting Putin’s offer of a tripartite arrangement that would allow the country to sustain its ties with Russia. Quite apart from Putin’s December offer of financial rescue, Ukraine is heavily dependent economically on Russia, which supplies and subsidizes much of its energy and is its largest trading partner. The EU and the United States, for all their bluster, are not about to replace that deep connection with Western aid and trade . . . . Even as it seeks closer ties with Europe, Ukraine can’t afford to turn its back on its huge eastern neighbor. For starters, it gets more than half its natural gas from Russia. The EU couldn’t help much if Moscow turned off the tap—though it’s unlikely to do so, since Russia ships gas to Western Europe via Ukrainian pipelines. Nor can the EU suddenly absorb the $15 billion in iron, steel, grain, and other products that Ukraine annually sells Russia, its biggest trade partner. And for all the anti-Moscow rhetoric heard during the recent protests, the two countries have deep historical and cultural ties.”

It is important to note that some of the interim government’s top ministers were also ministers in previous governments and were participants in policies that created the country’s current economic basket case. During all these years they had failed to curb rampant corruption or tackle economic inefficiency. In fact, the EU has provided Ukraine with $19.1 billion in grants and loans since 1991, and together with IMF and other aid it pushes the total well over $30 billion. And despite Ukraine’s current antagonistic rhetoric, the country has received massive aid from Russia in the form of discounted natural gas—a subsidy totaling $200 billion to $300 billion since 1991. So where has all this money gone? “Into the pockets of an incredibly corrupt political elite and oligarchs,” says Emily Holland, a specialist on energy policy at the European Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin.And with all the brouhaha about corruption by the protest movement, the new fascist-tainted regime has appointed some of the worst oligarchs to key regional government posts in eastern Ukraine. So what are the realistic prospects for this essentially failed state?

At the basis of the continuing political turmoil in the country is the fact that Ukraine consists of two fundamentally different regions – its eastern part and its western part. A possible solution would be the creation of a loose confederation with two autonomous regions. One autonomous region would be free to become more economically connected with the European Union while the other with Russia. In addition to other proponents for such a sensible solution, ironically, this proposal has been put forth byRussian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who on March 20 said:

“. . .a constitutional reform should be held, so that interests of all Ukrainian citizens and regions are respected. This is the only basis for forming legitimate authorities, legislative and executive, central and regional . . . we are convinced that thesituation in the country can be stabilized only through making Ukraine a federal state.”

An apropos concluding comment on this complex matter are the words of Katrina vandenHeuvel:

“The [US] president would be well advised to investigate whether the European Union, Russia and the United States can join together to preserve Ukraine’s territorial unity; to support new and free elections; and to agree to allow Ukraine to be part of both the European Union and Russian customs union, while reaffirming the pledge that NATO will not extend itself into Ukraine. It is time to reduce tensions and create possibility, not flex rhetorical muscles and fan the flames of folly.”

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WAKE UP AMERICA: Justice for Manuel Diaz denied in federal civil rights case

NOVANEWS

Manuel’s family vows to continue the struggle

Manuel Diaz

After deliberating for approximately two hours yesterday, the jury in a federal civil rights case against Anaheim Police Department and Officer Nick Bennallack came to a “not guilty” verdict. The jury determined that no excessive force was used when Bennallack shot unarmed Manuel Diaz in the back despite having committed no crime.

The execution-style murder of Diaz was witnessed by numerous neighbors who then gathered on the street to demand answers from the police. The police response to the community was broadcast across the nation when rubber bullets were fired at small children and a police dog was unleashed on the community, mauling a young father whose newborn baby was nearly bitten. Several arrests of bystanders were made at the scene.

The following day a mass protest took over the Anaheim police headquarters for several hours demanding justice. That night Anaheim PD murdered Joey Acevedo and the community of Anaheim and their allies took to the streets for several days of intense demonstrations that were violently suppressed by Anaheim PD and other surrounding police agencies.

One year later Manuel Diaz’s mother, Genevieve Huizar, alongside Joey Acevedo’s mother, called on all people of conscience and all families who suffer from police violence to converge in Anaheim to demand justice for all. Nearly two thousand people descended upon Anaheim and over fifty families affected by police violence, marking the first major action taken by a growing statewide, coordinated movement.

Vile defense exposes the police

The defense put forth the most vile assertions and character assassination as their general strategy. The closing argument of the lead defense attorney, Steven Rothans, representing Officer Bennallack and Anaheim PD, relied upon the racist preconceived notions of jurors while ignoring the facts of the shooting.

The assertions of Rothans only served to expose the role of police in society. He repeatedly reminded the jury that Diaz “wasn’t shot in Downtown Disney,” and that he was “dressed like a gang member,” when he was found in “a gang neighborhood.”

After admitting that the officers never saw anything in the hands of Diaz that looked like a gun, Rothans made the ludicrous statement that “concealed hands equal concealed weapons,” repeating it ad nauseum.

After admitting that Diaz had not committed any crime, he stated, “The entire situation changed when Manuel made the decision to run.” But of course, this statement contradicts California law, which states that any person who runs when confronted by police is subject to being detained—not executed, a fact presented by the prosecuting attorney, Dale Galipo.

Rothans continued, “A police officer in the state of California does not need to see a weapon to shoot someone.”

And when addressing damages, the amount to be paid for the loss of Manuel’s life, Rothans cynically referenced Diaz’s struggle with methamphetamine as a measure of his value. Rothans even asserted that Galipo’s request for damages for Diaz’s pain should be rejected by the jury because he died quickly and therefore experienced no pain. Apparently Steven Rothans, an attorney who has built a multi-million dollar career from defending killer cops and their corrupt departments, believes being shot to death is painless.

Rothans attacked Galipo’s attempt to show Manuel Diaz’s loving, and family-oriented nature by saying that none of this was part of Officer Bennallack’s knowledge at the time of the incident and is therefore irrelevant. But of course, U.S. District Court Judge James Selna allowed evidence that Rothans used to demonize Diaz—evidence that Bennallack had no knowledge of at the time of the incident. This evidence included photos taken from his cell phone after he died of Diaz holding a gun  as well as a report that alleged Diaz had methamphetamine in his system the day he was murdered. Rothans also attempted to use Diaz’s tattoos to characterize him as a criminal.

But Bennallack had no knowledge of Diaz’s use or lack of use of drugs and could not see any of his tattoos from his initial encounter. Bennallack certainly couldn’t see any photos on a cell phone. But Rothans, who claimed only the facts that were present to Bennallack should be considered, relied upon repeatedly showing photos of Diaz holding a gun. This characterization and its affect on the jury highlight a deeply racist view of gun ownership. A tattooed white male posing with his guns is a champion of the Second Amendment and a conservative hero resisting the attempts of the government to allegedly disarm the people. But a tattooed Latino male posing with his guns is a street criminal who should be executed on sight by cops regardless of any factual circumstances at the time of the incident.

The sum of the facts make it simple: Manuel Diaz had not been witnessed committing a crime; no officer saw any weapons or objects in his hands that looked like weapons, the encounter lasted about 20 seconds including the foot pursuit; Diaz was shot twice with the bullet trajectory passing from the back to the front proving that he had not turned around or made any threatening gesture to cops. Bennallack gave no warning that he would fire and had countless other non-lethal options.
What the jury did by finding Bennallack “not guilty’”was state very clearly that any person who dresses a particular way and is standing in a poor neighborhood can be shot regardless of whether or not they committed a crime or possess a weapon. This was the admission of Rothans himself when he told the jurors that they needed to consider that Diaz was wearing a baggy shirt and was in a neighborhood where gangs existed. When he referenced Disneyland he admitted quite openly that the police in Anaheim should kill people in working class and poor neighborhoods but shake hands at wealthy tourist attractions.

Often when activists in the police brutality movement argue that police act as an occupying force, shooting people on sight in poor neighborhoods with impunity, they are attacked as being “delusional” or “radical”. But this very line of argument was the defense that got Bennallack off. Rothans said that this is precisely the role that police officers play in society and it should be considered completely justifiable.

After being asked regarding their two hours of deliberation one juror expressed that their decision was based on the fact that Diaz was in a gang neighborhood and was dressed like a gang member, showing that Rothans’ goal of demonizing Diaz and avoiding the facts worked.

Four of the jurors were white, three Latino, and one Asian. The average age of the jurors was roughly 40 years old. When this is coupled with the fact that most working class people can not afford to spend a week in a jury box and that any person that speaks badly of the police from their experiences is typically excluded from any jury it becomes quite clear that this was not a trial by a jury of Manual Diaz’s peers as promised in the U.S. Constitution. 

This jury did not have very much personal experience with so-called gang neighborhoods and their fear and vilification of these neighborhoods on the basis of media coverage informed their ultimate decision.

Media lies

The very first article out came from the OC Register’s Claudia Koerner, who lied about the incidents in 2012 when she wrote, “The killing led to a disturbance when a crowd swarmed police headquarters.” Actually, a disturbance occurred when police shot rounds at children and unleashed a vicious attack dog on the community.

Amy Taxin wrote an equally disgusting piece for the Associated Press that was widely reposted. She also attempted to characterize the community as violent rioters while saying nothing about the police attack on innocent bystanders that immediately followed the execution of Manuel Diaz in front of the community.

The Los Angeles Times article written by Adolfo Flores summarizes all the lies of Bennallack without sharing any of the damning evidence against his account. For instance, Flores included Bennallack’s claim that Manuel was turning around when shot but failed to include Bennallack’s sworn testimony stating that he could only see Diaz’s back when he fired the two shots that killed him – meaning Diaz had never turned around. Flores also failed to report the testimony of other key witnesses who stated that Diaz did not toss any objects as he was running.

CBS Los Angeles claimed that Manuel had reached in his waistband but the evidence at trial clearly indicated that no officer could see his hands as he ran away, so how exactly could they see that he had reached in his waistband? They described justifiable protests at well documented police brutality against the community as merely, “anti-police.” NBC and KTLA used similar reporting strategies. 

In short, this denial of justice was used by the mass media as another opportunity to carry out public relations on behalf of Anaheim PD and another opportunity to vilify the oppressed communities of Anaheim.

The struggle continues

Huizar told reporters, “Justice was not served today, not for my son and not for Orange County. I’m disappointed but I’m not broken. We are going to appeal.”

After protesting outside the federal court in Santa Ana, Huizar walked down the street to a local barber in order to shave her head in honor of her son. She has vowed to continue to struggle not only for her son’s justice but for the justice of all victims of police brutality and is a shining example of leadership in that struggle. Not long after this verdict she stood shoulder to shoulder with the family of Martin Hernandez, who was killed on March 6, 2012 by Anaheim police officer Dan Hurtado.

Posted in USA, Human RightsComments Off on WAKE UP AMERICA: Justice for Manuel Diaz denied in federal civil rights case

Russia, Georgia, and independence in the age of imperialism

NOVANEWS

The real story of the 2008 conflict

In their current campaign to dominate Ukraine and contain Russia, the spokespeople of U.S. imperialism constantly reference the 2008 war in South Ossetia as proof of Russia’s supposed pattern of aggression. However, the truth shows just the opposite. Liberation News is reprinting the following article from August 2008 that explains the dynamics of this conflict.

The U.S. government and media have portrayed the latest conflict between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia and Abkhazia as a resumption of Russia’s Soviet-era “domination” over the smaller, beleaguered country of Georgia.

But in fact, on Aug. 8, the Georgian government initiated a sudden bombing and artillery attack on South Ossetia’s capital city Tskhinvali. The Georgian military hoped to reclaim the small region of 1,505 square miles, which has tried to exercise its proclaimed independence since 1990. Georgian forces bombed and fired missiles against South Ossetia’s civilian population, but were quickly driven out by Russian troops.

Georgia’s swift defeat has come as a shock to Washington, which had poured vast resources into the country’s military. As of Aug. 14, U.S. troops have been sent into Georgia with the alleged humanitarian mission of providing food and other supplies to the country’s population.

President George Bush, and presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and John McCain have denounced Russia in press statements and releases. The three express sorrow and outrage for Georgia, in a scenario they paint as big, imperial Russia against small, democratic and independent Georgia.

George W. Bush, speaking at an Aug. 13 press conference, said: “The United States stands with the democratically-elected government of Georgia. We insist that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia be respected.”

This straight-faced statement comes from the head of state that has presided over the criminal invasion of Iraq and the ongoing U.S. occupation that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced more than four million others.

John McCain, not to be outdone by a sitting president, said in an Aug. 11 press release: “In the face of Russian aggression, the very existence of independent Georgia—and the survival of its democratically-elected government—are at stake.” McCain was a bomber pilot in the U.S. imperialist war that sought to deny the Vietnamese nation its independence and reunification.

Barack Obama also issued a statement on Aug. 11, writing, “[T]he U.N. must stand up for the sovereignty of its members, and peace in the world.” Obama has pledged to continue the U.S. blockade of Cuba in spite of decades of U.N. General Assembly votes that overwhelmingly demand an end to the illegal blockade imposed by the United States.

These capitalist politicians feign concern for the Georgian people and are outraged at Russia’s actions. However, their real fear is that the Russian military victory represents a setback for U.S. geostrategic designs for the region.

Overthrow of USSR paves the way for imperialist penetration

The recent actions by Georgia’s government were not those of an independent nation but those of a close U.S. ally. President Mikheil Saakashvili was elected in 2004 following the U.S.-engineered “Rose Revolution.” Since then, Saakashvili has moved quickly to fashion the country’s domestic and foreign policy in line with Washington in the hopes of joining the imperialist NATO military alliance.

On Aug. 7, the day before Georgian troops attacked South Ossetia, Immediate Response 2008—a joint U.S.-Georgian military exercise involving more than 1,000 U.S. Army, Marine and National Guard troops—was concluded. The Pentagon also flew Georgia’s 2,000 troops fighting in Iraq, the third largest contingent of the occupation forces, back to their home country to bolster Washington’s proxy forces.

Georgia, a former full republic of the Soviet Union, declared itself a separate country in April 1991, in the midst of the Soviet Union’s unraveling as a socialist state. The USSR formally ended in late Dec. 1991.

As part of a long-term strategy, U.S. imperialism has steadily established control over the newly “independent” country of Georgia. In addition to currently training the Georgian army, from 1991 to 2001 the U.S. provided over $1 billion in aid and was the largest contributor of foreign direct investments. (Power and Interest News Report, Nov. 5, 2002)

Over the last 17 years, Russia has seen country after country at its border become captive nations of U.S. imperialism. Through direct and indirect means, Washington fostered pro-capitalist forces in the Baltic, Caspian and other regions of the former Soviet Union. Starting in 1990, these bourgeois forces appealed to reactionary narrow nationalism to establish countries “independent” of Russia—which emerged as the strongest capitalist country from the dissolution of the USSR.

The present conflict is the latest U.S. move to increase its military presence in an area that Russia views as critical to its territorial integrity.

South Ossetia’s recent history

During the Soviet era, South Ossetia was formally known as the South Ossetia Autonomous Oblast inside the Georgian Soviet Republic.

In the months before Georgia declared its independence, the government began to exert Georgian nationalism over the territory, to the exclusion of other nationalities. In late 1990, it dissolved South Ossetia’s autonomous status, and made Georgian the official language.

Rebellions began to break out in South Ossetia. It is estimated that more than 1,000 South Ossetians were killed by the Georgian military and heavy refugee casualties were created between both nationalities.

South Ossetia declared its independence from Georgia. In the most recent referendum, on Nov. 12, 2006, 98 percent of the voters reaffirmed their independence.

A similar situation exists in Abkhazia, located in northwestern Georgia. Since 1992, Russian troops have been in South Ossetia and Abkhazia as a peacekeeping force, and as a measure against what it sees as a U.S. and Georgian encroachment.

Revolutionary and anti-imperialist voices have spoken out against the U.S.-Georgia offensive and the U.S. and European presence in the region.

Gloria La Riva, the presidential candidate for the Party for Socialism and Liberation, spoke with Russia Today Television about the PSL campaign and the importance of a socialist voice that challenges the two-party electoral system in the United States. La Riva addressed the situation in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the war between Georgia and Russia, and the role of U.S. imperialism.

“The U.S. is not satisfied to see any other country especially Russia be an economic or political power in the world,” La Riva said. “Russia has a right to defend itself and a right to be concerned about encroachment by the United States in the former Soviet republics. To be a member of NATO is to be a part of the U.S. imperialist alliance and a threat to world peace.”

From within Georgia, anti-colonial forces see a pliant Georgian regime doing the bidding of U.S. imperialism. The Tbilisi-based Peace Committee of Georgia issued a declaration that opposed the Georgian government’s actions. The unofficial English translation reads in part:

“The bombings killed Ossetian civilians, our brothers and sisters, children, women and elderly people. … There also died hundreds of civilians of Georgian nationality, both in the conflict zone as well as on the entire territory of Georgia. … The Georgian Peace Committee … is going to struggle so that the organizers of this monstrous genocide have a severe and legitimate punishment.” (MRZine, Aug. 12)

Cuban leader Fidel Castro clarified the relationship between the Georgian and U.S. governments: “[Bush] committed to support President Saakashvili for Georgia’s admission to NATO; that is like plunging a sharpened dagger deep into Russia’s heart. … Saakashvili, on his own, would never have jumped to the adventure of sending the Georgian army into South Ossetia. … A nuclear war is not something to fool around with; and providing cannon fodder to the market cannot be rewarded.” (Prensa Latina, Aug. 12)

The 1992 Defense Policy Guidance paper, authored by Paul Wolfowitz and Lewis Libby, explicitly explained that the dominant consideration for U.S. strategy in the region was to prevent the reemergence of a new rival. The outlined policy explicitly includes “pre-emptive war” and the use of nuclear weapons.

This policy objective should be recounted to those who may be taken in by the feigned concern of U.S. imperialism, its representatives and media for the Ossetian, Abkhazian, Georgian and Russian peoples. What is needed during this crisis is an anti-imperialist perspective that demands “U.S. imperialism out of the Caucasus” and “No NATO intervention!”

Posted in RussiaComments Off on Russia, Georgia, and independence in the age of imperialism

Analysis: Understanding the crisis in Ukraine

NOVANEWS

Background on the growing conflict

People in Crimea march holding Russian flag, March 1

Everyone who is watching the news in the United States about the crisis in the Ukraine is getting the same story. On one side there is Russia, an evil autocracy that has launched an aggressive and illegal takeover of the Crimea to defend a corrupt regime against the wishes of the Ukrainian people. On the other side there are the Western governments, led by the United States, who are standing up for democracy, supporting a people’s revolution and defending Ukraine’s self-determination.

It is a false picture. What we are witnessing instead are the world’s leading imperialist powers—the former colonizers of Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America—attempting to take over Ukraine in an alliance with that country’s billionaire oligarchs and fascist parties. It is part of a long-term geostrategic plan to economically and militarily dominate the former Soviet republics and Eastern Europe, and to encircle Russia.

Ukraine’s coup government has received the full backing of the biggest Western banks, and in exchange is preparing to enact economic policies that will devastate poor and working-class Ukrainians, regardless of their political affiliations or ethnic background. The West has funneled resources to the most reactionary and neo-Nazi parties whose ascendancy to power has pushed the country to the brink of civil war and secession. While claiming they are reacting to Russia, the Western imperialist powers have in fact launched an offensive against the working classes and peoples of Eastern Europe.

Events are moving quickly and all the major powers of the West have set themselves in confrontation with Russia. They are demanding immediate withdrawal of pro-Russian troops, threatening sanctions and working hard to consolidate the coup government in Kiev. Ukraine stands at the brink of major war—both between Kiev and Russia, and potential civil war.

What are the roots of the crisis? What is the make-up of the current government in Kiev and who supports it? What is motivating Russia and those in Ukraine rallying behind its troops? What is the United States after?

Orange roots

The current crisis has short-term roots in the “Orange Revolution” of 2004, one of a series of color-coded mass protest movements in former Soviet republics that took place over a decade ago. In these “color revolutions,” Western-oriented forces sought to shift the direction of their countries away from Russia into alliances with the European Union and United States. They evoked mass support from people who were fed up with corruption, oligarchy and stagnant standards of living, and those who desired greater independence from Russia.

The program and leadership of these movements was directed, however, towards integration with the European Union and the West. Regardless of people’s desires and motivations on the streets, these were in fact neoliberal counter-revolution dressed up as “revolution.”

In Ukraine, the basic lines among the political parties that exist today were visible in 2004. Yanukovych and his Party of Regions received significant support in the East and South, and a collection of parties attached to EU neoliberalism maintained a stronger base in the Western part of the country.

Both sides represented elements of the Ukrainian capitalist elite. The majority of “oligarchs,” the major capitalists who monopolize and control entire industries, are based in the East and supported Yanukovych in his last term. In the face of the Orange Revolution, Yanukovych lost the 2004 presidential election but then returned to defeat the same constellation of political forces in 2010. His opponent, natural-gas tycoon and former Orange Revolution leader Yulia Tymoshenko was subsequently imprisoned for corruption.

The political split in the country clearly possessed grave geopolitical implications, and after his 2010 election Yanukovych tried to walk a tightrope. He sought closer relations with the EU and declared EU “integration” a key goal. At the same time, he maintained fairly strong relations with Russia, giving political support to it on occasions and extending the Russian lease on naval facilities in the Crimea. Yanukovych refused to pursue membership in NATO, which he knew would lead to sharp confrontation with Russia.

The EU did not agree to Ukraine’s “full integration,” however, offering only a free-trade Association Agreement that would open up the country’s economy in several sectors and relax some visa requirements. But it also imposed political “reforms” and demanded the release from prison of western-oriented politicians like Tymoshenko. Their vision for Ukraine is not as a full member of the European Union but a sort of free-trade zone and neo-colony attached to it.

Similarly, IMF loans for Ukraine were put on hold in late 2013 because of Ukraine’s “non-compliance” with its “economic policy conditions”—in particular, it had not devalued its currency as instructed or eliminated state subsidies to domestic gas supplies. Yanukovych tried to attract more favorable terms by offering EU access to Ukrainian markets and cheap labor—but to little avail.

In sum, leading Western institutions like the EU and IMF demanded from Yanukovych a heavy price for Ukraine’s partial integration while strengthening the hand of his political opponents.

Facing potential bankruptcy and default on its bonds, in November 2013 Yanukovych rejected the EU’s Association Agreement and instead accepted an economic package offered by Russia. The Russian deal offered far more in aid, discounted natural gas and appeared to come with none of the major economic adjustments demanded by the EU.

This was the immediate spark for the EuroMaidan protests and the current crisis, which recalls the same basic divide as 2004. While there were considerable popular grievances against the corrupt Yanukovych government, it was the rejection of the EU Agreement that gave the opposition an opening to challenge him with the backing of the EU and U.S. government.

The new government of billionaires and far-rightists that deposed Yanukovych immediately declared its intention to resume discussions with the EU and IMF. The new Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk promised, “we will fulfill all the conditions—I repeat, all the conditions.”

The present situation

The high political stakes of Ukraine’s internal crisis explain why this situation spiraled so quickly from a protest of a few thousand people in the direction of international war. While the West and Russia have had disagreements on other issues, few are of such central importance to Russia as the orientation of Ukraine and continued military access to the Crimea.

Russia’s interests extend beyond the profit motive or expansionist aims of different sectors of Russia’s capitalist elite; Ukraine and the Crimea have been considered foundational national interests—vital for the country’s self-defense and influence in the region—from the era of tsarism through the Soviet Union and the modern-day Russian Federation.

The EU-U.S. capitalists have continuously extended the military reach of NATO eastward and pursued various plans for “missile defense” aimed at containing Russian influence. Using this combination of economic and military pressure, they have been gradually moving Eastern European and Central Asian countries away from various Russian regional initiatives. The “Eastern Partnership” in which the EU had intended to integrate Ukraine is a major component of the West’s drive.

Their overall strategy is obvious: to prevent Russia from establishing an independent regional bloc that would at least bear a passing resemblance to the Soviet Union and potentially set-up a more serious counter-hegemonic threat to Western imperialism.

For Russia’s leaders, the country’s re-emergence on the world stage has been a core objective for years, closely associated with Vladimir Putin’s rise to power. The fall of the Soviet Union greatly weakened the country, as it gave way to rapid privatization sprees, extreme inequality and the looting of the state sector. For a period the West had a virtual puppet in the person of Boris Yeltsin, but this arrangement could not last. Given Russia’s size, military and economic capacity, newly assertive and nationalist trends were bound to find expression among Russia’s consolidated capitalist class.

The West’s moves in Eastern Europe are understood in Russia as an attempt to ring-fence their own ambitions, to block it from expanding back into its historic sphere of influence. The West’s initiative in Ukraine, and potential encroachment on the Crimea, is therefore seen as a very serious and provocative move — an attempt to give Russia a knock-out punch just as it is putting itself back on its feet.

Russian troops in the Crimea and other moves are essentially defensive. Russia is attempting to send a message that they will not allow a parliamentary coup to disrupt the status quo and forever alter the region’s political and military alignments. While Russia claims Yanukovych is at present the only legal leader of the country, because he was deposed by a coup, they are not attached to him. Rather they are pointing to the international agreement, which the EU itself engineered, for new Ukrainian elections in December.

What now?

The EuroMaidan protests were large but not broadly representative of Ukraine as a whole. The new government is led by pro-Western politicians, far-right parties that established leadership in the streets, and a few other opposition figures from EuroMaidan. This coalition has combined reactionary and fascistic nationalism—withdrawing language rights for Russian speakers and other national minorities, for instance—with a clear economic strategy to “Go West.”

They are making moves to suppress opponents and drafted a ban on the Communist Party of Ukraine. This has been accompanied with a brutal street campaign attacking communists, anarchists and anti-fascists, including burning down the headquarters of the Communist Party and attacking the buildings of other radical groups.

The Kiev government is receiving unconditional support from the West and has heavily integrated fascist shock troops into its coalition. It is not clear how much control the neoliberals have over the fascists in the Svoboda Party and Right Sector. Anti-fascists in Ukraine have pointed out that roughly 30 percent of the protestors at the Maidan were fascists. Clearly they are able to exert tremendous influence on the coalition. Six cabinet posts went to the Svoboda party along with a range of other ultra-right forces.

This has sparked a counter-movement amongst many regions where people are protesting against the Kiev government. Many are expressing support for Russia as a counter-balancing or protective force. Russia has withheld further incursions beyond Crimea but other eastern cities are speaking of disaffiliation. Some of these regional governments do not accept leadership from Kiev. In Crimea, a vote for independence has been scheduled for March 16.

The long-standing ethnic and regional divisions within Ukraine, which for a period had been submerged and eased, were reignited by the country’s elites and now become mass politics threatening to rip the country apart.

Elections scheduled for May 25 are meant to give legitimacy to this new ruling coalition. Whatever the exact outcome, the character of the Kiev government supported by the United States is clear.

The United States is now exploring a range of sanctions and financial support for Ukraine. It is insisting that Russia accept the new Ukrainian government as legitimate— which is very unlikely. Furthermore, the United States and Europe have declared they will not accept any sort of Crimean independence even if the people on the Crimea vote for it. Other regions may follow suit. Ethnic divisions within the regions may be unleashed, as national minorities like Crimean Tatars are likely to oppose affiliation with Russia.

The clouds of war are clearly gathering

The West may try to wage a serious economic war on Russia, perhaps even seizing Russian assets abroad. Russia could shut off natural gas to the EU in retaliation. The stakes are extremely high and the deployment of EU nations’ troops could threaten regional conflict.

The Russian military and other local self-defense militias are at present the only check to curtail the authority of the far-right, pro-Western Kiev government over Ukraine’s entire national territory. What appears superficially as the “peaceful” scenario—immediate Russian withdrawal, which is the main objective of Western governments—would at present embolden fascist forces and undoubtedly accelerate NATO militarism in the region.

Military escalation, on the other hand, would likely stimulate ultra-nationalist sentiments in both Ukraine and Russia, threatening national minorities, Jews, Tatars and others.

For progressive people and anti-imperialists, the current situation underlines the central importance of the leadership of mass movements. In our current era, with the weakness of the left, the far-right has reaped the fruits of populist uprisings. Revolutionary organizations—built on broad class solidarity and internationalism, not reactionary forms of nationalism— must be built.

We must emphasize that the Kiev government is not a “popular” or representative government born of progressive protest, but a lash-up between pro-Western forces and fascists attempting to impose punishing economic policies on the Ukrainian people.

In the current era of imperialism, dominated by a small club of Western powers, they stage interventions and support regime change operations the moment a government asserts an independent orientation or a more compliant regime can be found. They care nothing about popular legitimacy or self-determination, using any opportunity to encircle and undermine those they do not physically crush.

It is folly for anti-imperialists to join in the chorus of condemnation against the Russian military so long as they are obstructing the EU-NATO-fascist takeover of all of Ukraine. During this rapidly changing situation, as the U.S. capitalist media howls and misleads, we must remain vigilant and precise in our message. The poor and working people of the United States and of the world have no interest in another regime change operation or imperialist war. All anti-fascist activity in the Ukraine, of which there is a militant historical tradition, must be whole-heartedly supported.

Posted in UkraineComments Off on Analysis: Understanding the crisis in Ukraine

COME AND WATCH:THE TRUTH ON THE CREATION OF “ISRAEL”;THE EXODUS OF THE PALESTINIANS

NOVANEWS

1948

The creation of the state of “Israel”. The story of the exodus of the Palestinians. The story of how about 711,000 people were expelled from their homes.

In order to understand the Nakba please follow Adam Ibrahem on his mission to expose the Zionist lies and propaganda about the Palestinian history.

Come and watch:

Adam Ibrahem shows his film on the creation of “Israel”. 

Saturday 12th April

2pm-6pm

27 Broad Street, Bristol, BSI 2HG

Untitled

Posted in Palestine Affairs, UKComments Off on COME AND WATCH:THE TRUTH ON THE CREATION OF “ISRAEL”;THE EXODUS OF THE PALESTINIANS

‘US, EU staged classic regime change in Ukraine’

NOVANEWS
RT interview with Brian Becker

The following interview of ANSWER Coalition National Coordinator Brian Becker was conducted by RT

The EU and US have carried out a classic coup d’état in Ukraine using ultra-right forces as human material, anti-war activist Brian Becker told RT. And cementing that victory with an IMF aid package would place Ukraine on a Greek path into Europe.

RT: The US and the EU are considering providing Ukraine with billions of dollars of financial aid. Do you think this will be effective considering the current climate in the country?

Brian Becker: Well the aid package comes because the United States and the EU have staged what is really a classic coup d’état ousting the elected government in Ukraine and carrying out the regime change which we felt was their agenda from the beginning ever since November when the EU gave Ukraine an ultimatum: “Are you with the EU, are you going to integrate into the EU – which of course eventually means integration into NATO – or are you with Russia?”

They were the ones who provoked this crisis, the protests started afterwards. A classic coup d’état has taken place. A rump session of parliament has ousted the existing, constitutionally-elected president. And now there is a reign of terror by semi-fascist and ultra-right groups against others.

So the aid package has to be seen in that context. Behind the aid package, which is designed to stabilize Ukraine as it integrates into the planned integration into the EU, is austerity measures that are really going to hurt the Ukrainian people, especially working people and the poor. That is the real path into the EU. It’s not going to be the German path. It will be the Greek path for Ukraine.

RT: Catherine Ashton is in Kiev right now and a number of US top officials are set to visit the country in the coming days. What does Brussels and the US hope to achieve during those visits?

BB: Well they are basically taking over. The human material has been far-right parties. Of course many citizens have legitimate grievances against the Yanukovich government, there is an intertanglement of all that, but the main vanguard of this movement was the ultra-right, semi-fascist, and hard right but they have had wind in their cells because of the intervention of the EU and the European governments and the US.

Anti-government protesters hold shields as they guard the Ukrainian Parliament building in Kiev February 22, 2014. (Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko)

And of course they are there now to show the new government, the coup d’état, that “we the West with all of our vast power, our banks, our military, our intelligence agencies, we are with you.” This is designed to shore up those that have taken the power in Ukraine against what may be the next stage of the struggle against those who wanted to go on a different path, who had historically closer relations to Russia or who don’t want just to be minions of the EU and the imperialist powers of the West.

RT: If you look at the beginning of all this, this has kind of started as Ukraine and their relationship with the EU, Brussels now says it will not be signing a trade agreement with Ukraine for now and will wait for the outcome of May’s elections. What are the chances of the deal being sealed then?

BB: The EU is playing with carrots and sticks. There is economic integration, which is going to mean that big parts of Ukraine’s working population will see a deterioration in their living style. The fantasy about entering Europe, with streets being lined with gold, that is a fantasy because the real project is the IMF-based austerity program. They can’t fully implement that program right at the moment because it will be a stark reminder of or a confrontation with the reality that integration into the EU will be a bad deal for many, many Ukrainians, millions of them.

So they may want to hold off for a few months in order to try and stabilize the situation politically. Now that they ousted the existing government, carried out the regime change in this important country in that it’s historically tied to Russia – 46 million people, the second-biggest military in Europe – they want to hold off because that economic program has a lot of sticks, not just carrots, mostly sticks for the poor and working people of Ukraine.

Posted in USA, UkraineComments Off on ‘US, EU staged classic regime change in Ukraine’

How and why the U.S. government aided a coup led by neo-Nazis in Ukraine

NOVANEWS
Why U.S. imperialism continues to target Russia

Oleh Tyahnybok, leader of the Neo-Nazi Svoboda party. Fascists now control key posts in the government, including over the armed forces

Sen. John McCain in Kyiv, Ukraine, alongside neo-Nazi leader Tyahnybok, declares his support for the Maidan movement

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, a neoconservative, smiles with Ukrainian fascist leaders

A statement of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (U.S.)

The people of the United States are being deliberately misled and misinformed about the leading role played by the U.S. State Department, intelligence agencies and neoconservative leaders in bringing neo-Nazis to power in Ukraine.

The same neoconservative politicians and strategists that drove the country to war against Iraq in 2003, against Libya in 2011 and nearly against Syria in 2013 have been neck-deep in a protracted regime change effort in Ukraine as part of a larger geo-strategic struggle against Russia. The fact that they have worked hand in glove with armed neo-Nazis in Ukraine—with Sen. John McCain and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland literally joining the protests—speaks volumes about the political nature of the events.

The Maidan protest movement was launched in Kiev in November 2013 when Ukrainian President Yanukovych rejected a European Union economic plan that would have imposed a harsh austerity regime on Ukraine as the price for admission into the economic sphere dominated by German banks. The U.S. and E.U.-backed street protests, supported most fervently by neoconservative elements inside and outside the Obama administration, began when Yanukovych instead accepted a $15 billion loan from Russia and an economic plan that did not require austerity measures but did include discounted prices for Russian natural gas.

Another case of imperialist-backed regime change – this time with neo-Nazis

The U.S. government has engineered, financed and fully supported a classic coup d’état that overthrew a corrupt but democratically elected government in Ukraine. Joining in the destabilization of the Ukrainian government were Germany, France, Britain and other NATO powers.

The U.S. State Department funds an international network of non-governmental organizations and media outlets that are used to create political opposition and conduct regime change against targeted countries from Venezuela to Bolivia to Syria to Ukraine and other countries. A principal vehicle for these U.S. operations is the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

A recent article by Robert Parry reports: “NED, a $100 million-a-year agency created by the Reagan administration in 1983 to promote political action and psychological warfare against targeted states, lists 65 projects that it supports financially inside Ukraine, including training activists, supporting ‘journalists’ and promoting business groups, effectively creating a full-service structure primed and ready to destabilize a government in the name of promoting ‘democracy.’”

The new coup-led government was selected by a rump session of the parliament when many elected members could not show up to vote for fear of physical attack. It is filled with fascist and semi-fascist forces, as well as powerful billionaire oligarchs. The fascist forces promote hatred toward Russians, Jews, Poles and other minorities.

During the past year these forces have been vandalizing the anti-fascist monuments and memorials that honor the Ukrainian and other Soviet military veterans who gave their lives to defeat Nazism in World War II. The new coup government immediately initiated laws to ban the Communist Party of Ukraine as many of its offices were torched around the country. The new government also banned the use of Russian, Hungarian, Romanian, Greek, Tatar and others as officially recognized minority languages.

The Maidan movement took shape in the form of street protests in November 2013 demanding that the now toppled government of Yanukovych sign onto an agreement that would “integrate” Ukraine into the economic sphere of influence of Germany and the other E.U. countries.

The Maidan movement started as a broad-based politically eclectic mix of fascist, centrist and some leftist organizations. The fascist and semi-fascist organizations, specifically the armed wings of the Svoboda Party and Right Sector, became the dominant political force as the protest movement was sustained over several months. Both Svoboda and Right Sector use the iconography of the pro-Nazi Ukrainians who fought with Hitler’s divisions in the invasion of the Soviet Union and carried out massacres of Jews, Poles and communists. After the ouster of Yanukovych, Svoboda Party  leaders were   appointed to the deputy prime minister position — now held by a notorious anti-woman bigot — and  four other ministries. A founder of the Social-National Party, which became Svoboda, is now Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, which controls Ukraine’s armed forces, and his top deputy is from the Right Sector.

Imperialist Strategy toward the former Soviet Republics

The right-wing coup government in Ukraine is trying to integrate the country into an E.U./IMF-sponsored austerity regime that will lead to the deep impoverishment of the Ukrainian working classes. The tremendous resources of Ukraine are seen as a huge prize for the enrichment of the biggest banks and corporations in Western Europe and the United States. These resources include major deposits of coal, iron ore, manganese, nickel and uranium. It holds the largest sulfur and second-largest mercury reserves in the world, and vast, rich agricultural lands and forests.  In addition, Ukraine has large-scale heavy industry, particularly in the eastern part of the country.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union most of the former socialist bloc countries of Central and Eastern Europe have been integrated into a NATO and E.U. sphere of influence. Of the 28 member nations of the E.U., 22 so far have been incorporated into NATO.

Western imperialism has targeted all the countries in Eastern Europe and the other non-Russian former Soviet republics, including Ukraine, for incorporation into a U.S. and NATO-led sphere of influence. Their strategy is to exploit the land, labor and resources of the targeted countries, while containing and weakening Russia economically and militarily.

The Crimea and Russia

The Crimean Peninsula was historically an important part of Russia. In 1954, Crimea was transferred as an administrative unit in the Soviet Union from the Russian Republic to Ukraine but both were part of one country – the Soviet Union. The administrative transfer of the Crimea had little significance and no geo-strategic significance until the counter-revolutionary overthrow of the Soviet Union in 1991. Then, all of Ukraine and the Crimea became a primary target for absorption by the U.S. and NATO powers into their sphere of influence. This was a great threat to Russia. The Crimea was the headquarters for the Soviet Black Sea Naval Base which became the Russian Black Sea Naval base after 1991.

The imperialist governments of the world have united to denounce and condemn the Russian Federation’s decision to send military forces into the Crimea in the aftermath of the semi-fascist coup that threatens millions of ethnic Russians living in Ukraine and threatens to turn all of Ukraine into a NATO staging ground against Russia. Russia denies that the forces deployed in the Crimea are Russian special forces, suggesting that they are Russian-trained local defense forces working in tandem with Crimea’s established security personnel. Crimea’s governor says he is coordinating with the Russian troops at the Sevastopol base on security matters.

Russia today no longer has a socialist government, nor does it operate according to a socialist planned economy based on publicly-owned property. The Russian capitalist class has its own narrow economic interests and the Russian government protects those interests.

But Russia is not part of the small club of imperialist countries — the former colonizers of Asia, Africa and Latin America who continue to control the world financial system, hold a preponderance of military and political power in global affairs, and stage interventions and regime change efforts as they please.

In fact, Russia is routinely targeted by this Western imperialist club because it functions, due to its size and military power, as an obstacle to their complete hegemonic control over the former Soviet Republics. It also presents itself as a military, economic and diplomatic counter-weight in other critical areas, especially in the Middle East and Asia, not to mention at the United Nations where it maintains a veto within the Security Council.

It is completely understandable that Russia would project a show of force in Crimea, not as a premeditated plan of aggression but rather as a defensive counter-move to the dynamic offensive of Western imperialism and the pro-Western, fascist gang that seized the state power in Ukraine.

The pro-Russian military presence has been welcomed by huge numbers of people in Ukraine, both in the south and eastern regions of the country, where the coup government lacks legitimacy and is seen as a grave danger. Ukrainian civilians in these areas have been forming their own security blockades defending government buildings and anti-fascist monuments from being attacked by ultra-right nationalists. The presence of the pro-Russian military forces has been a relief to many targeted by the ascending fascist forces.

War-mongers like John Kerry and John McCain condemn Russia for “aggression” when it defensively acts to blunt the NATO offensive against Ukraine and Russia. Yet these very figures, and others of their ilk,  provoked this crisis. They worked closely with the most disgusting neo-Nazi forces in toppling a democratically-elected government in a large country that exists on Russia’s border. The hypocrisy of their rhetoric is hard to match. These were the cheerleaders for the massive bombing of Libya in 2011, the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and the massive aerial bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999. Yet, today, they feign concern over Ukraine’s sovereignty. No one should be deceived.

As for German imperialism, this constitutes the third attempt to forcibly swallow up Ukraine into their sphere of influence. The German army annexed Ukraine from Russia in 1918. Ukraine only regained its sovereignty when the German war effort collapsed in 1918. But 23 years later, Nazi Germany invaded again. Twenty-seven million Soviet citizens died, including millions in Ukraine. Hitler and the German ruling class wanted Ukraine to be transformed into a slave society and colony. Because of Russian, Ukrainian and Soviet heroism, the plans of German imperialism were thwarted. But the prize of incorporating Ukraine into a zone for super-profits for German, U.S. and other imperialist bankers and industrialists has always remained a fixed objective.

Washington and its allies have thus far threatened Russia with “sanctions” and “costs.” But economic sanctions are in fact warfare. There is a very real danger that the current crisis could escalate into a military war—a war with unforeseeable consequences—were there to be a U.S.-NATO military intervention.  The anti-war movement and all progressive people should stand against any U.S. intervention in Ukraine, refuse to join the U.S.-NATO distortion and propaganda campaign, and demand an immediate end to U.S.-EU support for fascist forces in Ukraine.

Posted in USA, UkraineComments Off on How and why the U.S. government aided a coup led by neo-Nazis in Ukraine

Bills introduced in Congress target Venezuela and Cuba

NOVANEWS

Oppose sanctions against the Bolivarian Revolution!

Bills were introduced in the U.S. Congress March 13 to impose sanctions on Venezuela. In the Senate, Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced S.2142 “to impose targeted sanctions on persons responsible for violations of human rights of anti-government protesters in Venezuela, to strengthen civil society in Venezuela, and for other purposes.” Rabidly right-wing Cuban-American Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) introduced H.R.4229 in the House with similar wording.

According to an article by Marc Caputo posted on the Miami Herald’s website March 14, “A measure to impose individual sanctions on Venezuelan apparatchiks was introduced last week in the U.S. Senate by Republican Marco Rubio and co-sponsored by Florida’s other senator, Democrat Bill Nelson.”

Caputo also revealed that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla), Democratic National Committee chairwoman, had told him on March 10 that the Obama administration is considering imposing sanctions on Venezuelan officials “culpable in that nation’s repression and who travel to and hold bank accounts in the United States.”

These moves are in response to, and in support of, the recent anti-government protests of the Venezuelan right wing. According to the Justice Department, the Venezuelan government is suppressing peaceful protesters and committing human rights abuses. The corporate media have published images falsely attributed to Venezuelan police repression. These claims, backed by an avalanche of media propaganda, contradict the true situation in Venezuela and represent the interests of multinational corporations and Wall Street.

Sanctions also aimed at Cuba

The moves to impose sanctions on Venezuela are also aimed at Cuba. According to William LeoGrande, professor of Latin American politics at American University, “The goal is to break up Venezuela’s close alliance with Cuba and end the flow of cheap oil the Venezuelan government provides to Castro’s communist regime.” (voanews.com, March 14)

From the outset of the protests, the Venezuelan right wing has taken to the streets violently demonstrating and attacking supporters of the democratically elected government and innocent bystanders. The protesters are actually violent gangs and supporters of the right-wing Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) party, whose leader, Leopoldo López, openly calls for President Nicolás Maduro’s overthrow. These groups are the true enemy of the Venezuelan working class.

The authors of these bills and the U.S. government support the violent right wing because they oppose the Venezuelan Bolivarian Revolution. They oppose a people’s movement that aims to improve the lot of the most oppressed and develop the economy on an independent basis in opposition to U.S. imperialist interests. These bills are one more plot in the long war against the working class and popular movements of Latin America. We must oppose these bills and any attempts to destabilize Venezuela!

Posted in USA, VenezuelaComments Off on Bills introduced in Congress target Venezuela and Cuba

Top officers sexually assault their troops—and are supported by Congress

NOVANEWS
No justice from the officer corps
Lt. Col. Joseph Morse – Top Army sexual assault prosecutor court martialed for sexual assault
Brig. General Jeffrey Sinclair – Served as commander in Afghanistan, pled guilty to sexual assault

From the website of March Forward!

By Ryan Endicott

The author is a U.S. Marine Corps and Iraq war veteran. 

Just days after a Military Sexual Assault bill that would take prosecution powers away from top officers was shut down in the Senate by a 55 to 45 vote, the Army’s top sexual assault prosecutor, Lt. Col. Joseph Morse, was accused of sexually assaulting a soldier under his command.

Just days after that, Army Brig. General Jeffrey Sinclair, one of the top commanders in Afghanistan, pled guilty to “forced sodomy” in a court martial.

As more female veterans raise their voices about the realities of sexism and rape culture in the military, it has become clear that the command structure, from the military to the U.S. government, is incapable and unwilling when it comes to protecting women soldiers from sexual violence and responding when they demand justice after being raped, let alone creating an environment of equality within the military.

The bill would have completely transformed the Uniform Code of Military Justice relating to sexual assault, taking away the power of officers and high-ranking command to decide which cases of sexual assault reported within their command would be prosecuted and which would be ignored.

If women in uniform are reporting en masse that a top barrier to sexual assaults being reported, investigated and prosecuted is that it is the sole decision of a commanding officer—and acknowledging that many times the commanding officer is the attacker—then upholding that barrier only sends a message of support to the officers standing in the way.

Things must change

The entire process would have been outsourced to a separate chain of command. This is an absolutely vital step towards taking power out of the hands of local commanders who many times are the perpetrators themselves, as with the example of Lt. Col. Joseph “Jay” Morse.

Morse was the supervisor of almost two dozen special victim prosecutors who handled charges of sexual assault, domestic abuse and child abuse. Yet it was recently reported that Morse sexually assaulted a lawyer in his command at a hotel room while attending a sexual assault legal conference in 2011. This scandal came in the wake of a recent Army statement made in late February that the Army had “suspended 588 troops and employees in ‘positions of trust.’”

Click here to read ’10 Quick Facts’ about Military Sexual Trauma

According to a 2012 study by the California Research Bureau, nearly two-thirds of female Global War on Terror veterans have reported being sexually harassed, and over one-third reported experiencing sexual assault. In addition, in 2012 as many as 22,000 cases of sexual assault went unreported.  Furthermore, 2012 represented a 6 percent increase in reported cases of sexual assault. However, including the unreported cases, the overall increase in sexual assault against women was nearly 35 percent. The Navy alone reported a 32 percent increase in reported cases from 2011-2012.

Additionally, according to a 2012 report published by the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, 47 percent of unreported cases of sexual assault went unreported due to “fear of retaliation or reprisal.” This makes sense, given that, “62 percent of victims who reported a sexual assault indicated they experienced professional, social, or administrative retaliation,” and 43 percent had heard about the negative experiences of other victims.

However, this is only half of the systemic rape culture of the U.S. military. Not only do vast numbers of women experience sexual assault, not only are they systematically stopped from having a safe and effective channel to report abuse, but, even when they do report abuse, almost none of them see justice with a conviction against their abuser. In fact, 74 percent of women who brought their abuse to trial reported at least one barrier to the process of reporting their abuse. Further, even after these barriers have been jumped by victims of sexual assault, the conviction rate in sexual assault cases dropped from 2011-2012 from 1 percent to 0.9 percent.

Given these grim and horrendous facts, it is clear that Military Sexual Trauma is an epidemic that is spreading and attacking our sisters in the military in a systemic way.

When asked why the Military Sexual Assault Bill failed to pass the Senate, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Michigan) responded, “The evidence shows that removing this authority from our commanders would weaken not strengthen our response to this urgent problem.”

This begs the question: if tens of thousands of soldiers are being raped and intimidated into not reporting their assaults, if women who do report assaults see fewer than 1 percent of their abusers convicted while 99 percent of abusers continue to maintain command over them, exactly what “critical principal of command authority” is he referring to?

The critical principal of command authority referred to by the Democrat from Michigan is the principal of imperialism: complete control over enlisted soldiers, who have no power or say in what happened to their lives, and their subsequent use as cannon fodder in wars that only benefit Wall Street.

While the officer corps and Pentagon brass come from the richer and more privileged sectors of U.S. society, the enlisted women and men come from working-class communities and are sent around the world to fight and die. While the unelected officers and Pentagon brass build their careers on our backs and take huge kickbacks from weapons contractors, oil tycoons and Wall St. bankers, they don’t want sexual assault cases of enlisted soldiers in their units getting in the way of their promotions.

The epidemic of Military Sexual Trauma is not a problem resulting from putting male and female soldiers together; it is the result of a command structure that undemocratically puts the rich and privileged in unquestionable authority over the enlisted, a system that would give perpetrators of sexual violence against women the full authority to prosecute themselves.

It is our duty as active duty service members and veterans to be the loudest voices for justice for our sisters in uniform and to organize against the rotten officer corps.

 

Posted in USAComments Off on Top officers sexually assault their troops—and are supported by Congress

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