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Ukrainian Crisis

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sputnikipogrom-crimea-banner

We all know what the US State Department and its PR lackeys (the Western media) thought about it.

How about everyone else?

What Crimeans thought about it:

crimea-polls

What the Crimean Tatars thought about it:

vciom-poll-crimean-tatars-referendum-2014

poll-crimean-tatars-support-joining-russia

What the Euromaidanists thought about it:

crimea-recognition-ternopil-prosecutor

What normal people thought about it:

crimea-poll-poklonskaya-tsundere

 
• Category: Humor • Tags: Crimea, Ukrainian Crisis 
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anton-geraschenko-friend-of-isis

In recent days, the Ukrainian “Peacekeeper” (Mirotvorets) website has started posting the personal data of Russian fighter pilots fighting terrorsts in Syria.

For those not in the know, “Peacekeeper” is a website that collects profiles on the enemies of the Ukrainian junta. Ranging from “terrorists” to dastardly “supporters of federalization,” this includes people from Putin to opposition journalists such as Oles Buzina, who was coincidentally assassinated shortly after his appearance there.

They started doing this – also surely coincidentally – immediately after a senior Maidan politician Anton Gerashchenko, and a top advisor to the Interior Ministry, published a Facebook post in which he recounted how a friend suggested to him to “help ISIS take revenge on Russia by the canons of sharia,” and Gerashchenko decided it would be a great idea.

I invite everyone who has information about Russian citizens taking part in Russia’s undeclared war against the Syrian people to report them to the Peacekeeper website, where a separate section on Putin’s crimes in Syria and the Middle East will soon be created.

This is not in the least surprising from a regime that welcomes Islamic radicals to come in and fight against those Ukrainians seeking to escape the Banderite madhouse, as even the NYT has been forced to acknowledge.

That Facebook post is still up, incidentally. It’s not as if a prominent pro-Western politician calling for helping ISIS is equivalent to Germans complaining about mass immigration, even if he did miss Washington’s memo to start calling them “moderate rebels.”

Gerashchenko is presumably still as free as ever to travel to the EU, as he and other Ukrainian Nazis do regularly, while artists who as much as voice support for the Donbass resistance find themselves either sanctioned (if they’re foreigners like Kobzon) or get their concerts cancelled (like Val Lisitsa).

It also demonstrates the sort of bottom feeders who have been appointed to rule Maidanist Ukraine – a cargo cult that in its essence begins with primitive village-like hatred of neighboring peoples, and will surely end like this:

geraschenko-isis

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Islamic State, Svidomy, Ukrainian Crisis 
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I have always loved falsifiable predictions. Let’s look at some that Ukrainian policians have made for Ukraine.

President Leonid Kravchuk, 1991: In 10 years, we will become the richest country in Europe. We will be a second France!

President Viktor Yushchenko, 2004: In 10 years, we will live like Poland!

Leader of the Opposition and Mayor of Kiev Vitaly Klitschko, 2013: In a year you won’t recognze Ukraine!

Ex-Head of Foreign Ministry Vladimir Ogryzko, 2013: “In 22 years Ukraine will be one of the leading countries of the civilized North Atlantic community. And in Europe there will be a Paris-Berlin-Warsaw-Kiev axis that will determine the fates of all other countries.”

Former Georgian President (wanted for crimes in Georgia) and Governor of Odessa Mikheil Saakashvili, June 2015: Ukraine is poorer than Moldova, previously the poorest country in Europe, is poreer than Armenia, Albania, Kosovo…

Former Georgian President (wanted for crimes in Georgia) and Governor of Odessa Mikheil Saakashvili, June 2015: In 20 years, we will return to Yanukovych-era living standards.

Ukraine’s Finance Minister and US Citizen Natalie Jaresko, August 2015: In 25 years, Ukraine’s GDP might reach Switzerland’s level.

Former Georgian President (wanted for crimes in Georgia) and Governor of Odessa Mikheil Saakashvili, September 2015: “Ukraine’s GDP has fallen from $184 billion to $115 billion, that is we have fallen close to Gabon’s level. With all due respect to Africa, Ukraine is Gabon.”

gabon-mask Forget about Khrantsiya. Forget even about Polan stronk. Ukraine is now Gabon with permafrost!

And I do apologize for my calumny against Gabon. As a cursory glance at IMF statistics shows, its GDP per capita is actually now about 3 times that of Ukraine.

And poor, unfortunate Switzerland – what an economic catastrophe Jaresko is forecasting for you! Are we really looking at a full Africanization of the Helvetic highlands as soon as 2040?? Even I’m not that pessimistic on the longterm effects of the current refugee crisis, but apparently Ukraine’s American Finance Minister is!

Though by then, even Africa might well be an improvement. As befits an oligarchic regime relying on Euro-Atlantic cargo cultists and iodine-deficient inbred stormfags for its support, it isn’t all that surprising to see Ukraine registerering as many polio cases as all of continental Africa combined in 2015.

Two children in southwestern Ukraine have been paralyzed by polio, the first outbreak of the disease in Europe since 2010, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, in a setback for a global eradication campaign.

The WHO said Ukraine had been at particular risk of an outbreak because of inadequate vaccination coverage. In 2014, only 50 percent of children were fully immunized against polio and other preventable diseases, it said.

The risk of further spread within the country is high, although the threat to nearby Romania, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia is low, a WHO statement said.

Note that this is happening in the svidomy south-west of the country that is completely untouched by the war. The only region of the world where there are more polio cases is the tribal areas of Pakistan/Afghanistan swarming with mujadeen fighters. So it is not that surprising to also the natural sense of brotherhood tying svidomy Azov fanatics to the Mohammedan invaders who are fighting to drag Novorossiya back into the Banderastan lunatic asylum, and whose presence even the NYT has by now been forced to acknowledege.

And why is Novorossiya fighting? So as not to have to listen to:

High Gauleiter of Galicia–Volhynia Dmytro Yarosh, 2020: We are now back in our golden age when the Proto-Ukrs dug out the Black Sea. We have arrived at our destination and we intend to stay here forever!

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Prediction, Svidomy, Ukrainian Crisis 
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For those who missed this affair, the aptly urled Russian website bs-life.ru (Business Life) published a secret Kremlin directive to compensate the relatives of 2,000 Russian military KIA and 3,200 WIA .

Alarm bells should have rung from the start.

Looks like the very epitome of a serious professional website dedicated to investigative journalism.

Looks like the very epitome of a serious professional website dedicated to investigative journalism.

Start with the website. The design runs on a free, mass-use Joomla magazine template. I daresay most functional one-author blogs look nicer. WHOIS lists no contacts, the owner being identified as a “private person.” Until it became “famous” in the past few days, it did not register in Alexa’s top 100,000 global websites (for comparison, Unz.com is 53,764 on the list, and Russia Insider, launched less than a year ago, is at 27,585). That a site built in one day for $10 sometime in 2011 would be the one to acquire a leak of such seminal importance seems unlikely to say the least.

The figures also don’t pass the face validity test. Both UAF and NAF casualties are estimated around 2,500 to date, though they are likely substantial underestimates. Even so this would imply that the actual Russian Army accounted for a substantal portion, perhaps the majority, of the Novorossiyan military deaths. Considering its massive preponderance in training and equipment over Ukraine such ratios would be implausible even if it was doing the regular fighting. In actuality, the only time that we can be reasonably sure it got involved was in the Ilovaysk battle, in which the Ukrainian forces suffered a crushing defeat. The 2:3 ratio of killed to wounded is also utterly implausible for any modern army. That’s the kind of ratios you had in pre-antibiotics wars. In WW2, the ratio was 1:3. In modern wars, it’s at least 1:5.

These are some basic investigative and logical questions that any journalist writing about this should have been asking.

In their defense, though, Novy Region, the Ukrainian news site that first republished the story, is engaged in a propaganda war against Russia, as is 90%+ of the Ukrainian media. That is understandable.

And in their defense, neither Paul Goble nor Paul Roderick Gregory, the two Anglosphere pundits who did most to “break” this story in the West, can be considered legitimate journalists. Both are glorified bloggers, much like myself.

Goble’s primary schtick consists in recycling stories from marginal anti-Kremlin commentators and “laundering” them for mass citation in the Western MSM. This is a role for which he is eminently qualified by his long years of service in the CIA, RFERL, the State Department, and various democracy promoting NGOs (quadruple-sic!). As I wrote in an expose on him five years ago: “If one fine day some random Tatar blogger on LiveJournal decides to restore the Qasim Khanate, we’ll certainly hear about it on his blog… and guess what, we do!” His piece “uncovering” Russia’s military casualties for Euromaidan Press, his latest gig, is just his latest and unusually successful laundry day.

I don’t really know much about Gregory, apart from him being an economist who loves the 1%, blogs for Forbes, and really, really dislikes Putin and Russia (including up to and beyond the point of conspiracy theories). I suspect he got the story from Paul Goble since his post was published 11 hours after Goble’s and it is unlikely that they were both monitoring Novy Region, let alone BS-Life.

The real question is how come a whole range of Western media outlets reprinted these claims more or less unquestioningly, including: NBC, The Times, The Independent, IB Times.

Incidentally, The Independent is (was?) considered to be a pro-Russian paper, on account of it being owned by a Russian oligarch (as if Russian oligarchs ever cared about anything beyond their wallets). It’s coverage was singularly incompetent (see bolded), not a surprise perhaps considering the author also writes for VICE and BuzzFeed. And for some reason the Indy expects people to pay for its wisdom.

Whilst Russia continues to deny that its troops are fighting in the ongoing Ukrainian conflict, a respected news site in Russia seemingly inadvertently published secret figures that detail deaths and causalities of forces on the ground.

In fairness, some journalists were properly skeptical of this from the start, such as Leonid Bershidsky, who is likely the best (i.e. least ideological, most fact based) anti-Putin journalist writing at a high profile venue today.

A couple days later, this rumor was taken apart by RT, by revealing the elementary fact that there was no such publication as Business Life. Then the whole affair was comprehensively debunked by Ruslan Leviev (in Russian and translation), a liberal Russian journalist who has actively hunted for traces of Russian military involvement in Donbass. He uncovered that the site was a simple phone number phishing website whose owner went so far as to use stolen identities to keep the scam going.

And some Western journalists such as the AFP’s Dmitry Zaks were very, very sad to see the truth come out.

I said they needn’t worry too much. As is all too typical in this conflict, it is the sensationalist, headlines-generating news items that make the biggest impact. Reddit is probably the single biggest political discussion forum in the West, where upvotes are directly linked to visibility.

Let’s do a quick quantification using the number of upvotes at /r/WorldNews as a proxy:

BS + Reality +
Paul Goble 1129 RT 2
Forbes 374 Ruslan Leviev 0
NBC 219
Independent 28
TOTAL 1750 TOTAL 2

What can one say?

Well, first… Kremlin bots! Olgino trolls! Where the hell are you?!?

Second – the rather mundane observation the vast majority of people who only read the articles on /r/WorldNews – without delving into the comments, which at least in this case strip away the BS quite effectively – would come away reinforced in their impression that Russia is directly involved militarily in Ukraine on a large scale, is getting its ass kicked, and that popular opinion will turn against Putin sooner or later at which point the usual color revolution textbook would be pulled out. This is not an isolated case. It’s just the banal reality of information war. The people who “ordered” this story and then laundered it into the MSM don’t care that it was quickly exposed and that it thus has a short shelf life. It still dominated the Ukraine headlines for a couple of days, so it’s mission accomplished so far as they’re concerned. Only a tiny percentage will maintain interest long enough to see it debunked. So far as the rest are concerned the only effect is to reinforce the dominant narrative and the audience for that is primarily Western.

This is all rather obvious, of course, but even – especially – obvious truths still have to be repeated every so often.

 
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vsevolod-ivanov-man-and-bear

Artwork by Vsevolod Ivanov.

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of participating in an “Ascending the Tower” podcast produced by neoreactionary luminaries Surviving Babel and Nick B. Steves.

We talked about foreign policy, especially as it pertains to Russia, modern European and American history, the rise of Western universalism, neocons, and the Ukrainian Conflict in the context of neoreactionary geopolitical theory. Despite the length of time it took to get this podcast organized, the discussion in it has lost none of its relevancy.

Below are the links to the podcasts – due to their length, Surviving Babel split them in two – together with a copy of their “table of contents” and show-related hyperlinks.

***

Episode VII, Part 1: “This Kaleidoscope Of Truths”

Notes:
4:44 – Introducing Anatoly Karlin
7:17 – Putin and his perception in the West
16:26 – Gradual erosion of Russian respect for the US
22:10 – Russia Today vs. Western media outlets
28:05 – Brief thoughts on Alexandr Dugin
32:05 – Mid-19th c. burgeoning Cathedral foreign policy

Related show links:
Opening Music (excerpt): “Thirst For Truth” by Sons of Northern Mist
https://www.jamendo.com/en/track/1174735/thirst-for-truth

Closing Music (excerpt): “You is Light” by KORDYUKOV
https://www.jamendo.com/en/track/1207353/you-is-light

Anatoly Karlin’s Blog
http://www.unz.com/akarlin/

Discussion of 19th c. Russian liberal-conservatism
http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/putins-philosophy/

More on Russian attitudes towards the US
http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/07/14/chapter-1-the-american-brand/

Ofcom and Russia Today
http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/mar/02/russia-today-anti-western-ukraine-crosstalk-kremlin

Gregory Hood on Dugin
http://www.radixjournal.com/journal/2014/6/23/why-the-conservative-movement-needs-dugin

Russian involvement in US Civil War
http://www.voltairenet.org/article169488.html

***

Episode VII, Pt. 2 – “The Worship of the West”

Notes:
1:03 – Woodrow Wilson, progenitor of the Cathedral
5:46 – Family structure and its influence on political ideology
11:30 – The failure of the League of Nations
15:13 – The post-WWII East-West polarization
19:58 – Competing visions of the nature of Ukraine
29:32 – Euromaidan and the Russian reaction
38:41 – Forecasting the near future of Ukraine
44:04 – Out of Left Field — Impact of the EAEU

Related show links:

Opening Music – “Opening Game” by aktarum
https://www.jamendo.com/en/track/1134793/opening-game

Closing Music – “The Gardener” by Mister_Even_Steven
https://www.jamendo.com/en/track/1245965/the-gardener

Anatoly Karlin’s blog
http://www.unz.com/akarlin/

Anatoly discusses Apollo’s Ascent
http://akarlin.com/2015/01/blogging-at-unz-review/

Woodrow Wilson and the League of Nations (warning: Cathedral source)
https://history.state.gov/milestones/1914-1920/fourteen-points
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/leagcov.asp

hbdchick’s posts on Emmanuel Todd’s family formation theory
https://hbdchick.wordpress.com/tag/todds-family-systems/

Eurasian Economic Union (officially EAEU in English)
http://www.eaeunion.org/?lang=en

Sponsorship:

If you are interested in sponsoring Ascending the Tower, e-mail me at Surviving Babel at gmail dot com. Sponsorships start at $10 an episode, and all proceeds will either go back into the podcast or provide some compensation for your most grateful host. You can purchase a mention or short message, or you can choose to sponsor the Out of Left Field question or even an entire episode.

***

A Gentle Introduction to NRx

Kickstarted by the Jewish Silicon Valley-based programmer Mencius Moldbug in the late 2000s, neoreaction – or NRx, as it is commonly abbreviated – is a radically new look at our social and political systems through the prism of Human Biodiversity, the theory of private government, and the writings of dead white male reactionaries such as Thomas Carlyle and Julius Evola. This set of theories and ways of thinking has been termed the “Dark Enlightenment” by the British philosopher Nick Land. Since the days of Moldbug, NRx has branched off into three distinct directions: The (original) elitist, philo-Semitic, technophilic, and cognitively elitist wing, basically disillusioned libertarians who realized that the average person is a 100 IQ idiot who shouldn’t be trusted with democracy; the more populistic, Semitic-neutral traditionalists, ethnonationalists, thede-preservers, and old-school Christian conservatives who will never have any truck with gay marriage (I believe my interlocutors in this podcast largely belong to this category); and the wave of nationalists, Internet trolls, anti-Semites, and overt Nazis who have been making their way into the movement in more recent months. The entrance of the latter has been especially traumatic, producing a lot of drama and hysterics. Many of the Nazis wanted to overthrow NRx outright – some of them call it JRx, you can guess what that stands for – and sweep up the fragments into White Nationalism. But they haven’t met with success, since by and large the NRx OG’s – the techno-commercialists and the traditionalists – have resisted the assaults of the stormfags. And despite the recent political jitters, a lot of quality work continues to be written under the NRx umbrella.

This is a barebones summary. I will probably write more about neoreaction in the future, but for now, readers who want to find out more about this movement are directed to the following articles.

Personally, I agree with maybe 60% of the NRx platform – heck, check my blog name – but I should stress that I do not identify as NRx. Not out of any misplaced concern for respectability and employability; that ship has long sailed. Just that some of their ideas I disagree with, and quite cardinally so – for instance, the viability and desirability of private government. I don’t really adhere to any ideology but I do generally sympathize with Left positions economically. Like virtually any other ideology, they prefer narratives over facts. Their narrative (I think) happens to be closer to reality than the mainstream SWPL Liberal or Cuckservative narratives, but it contains predictable blindspots like rejection of climate science and statistically questionable claims denying the longterm decline in violence. Plus, they have a solid stance against entryism. That is their right and I will respect it.

PS. Administrative note -

As you may have noticed, my blog has been reduced from three slots to one slot on the front page. This is temporary, and was done by my own request. Basically, for various personal-related reasons, I will be very busy until about mid-August. Hence, my blogging will likely be very infrequent during this period. I will get much more free time come late August and September, when I will return to my regular blogging schedule and the old front page arrangement.

 
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In the latest news from the ongoing comedy skit that is Ukrainian politics, we learn that Mikheil Saakashvili has been appointed governor of Odessa oblast.

Who is Saakashvili?

The son of Soviet apparatchiks with ties to the diplomatic service, which was dominated by Georgians in the late USSR, this onetime university dropout enjoyed a great deal of success in the 1990s, picking up various fellowships, grants, stipends, awards, etc. from respectable European and American institutions. Invited back into Georgia by his friend Zurab Zhvania, he soon went into opposition to Gorby’s Foreign Minister turned Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze. Eventually, this culminated in Shevardnadze’s overthrow in the Rose Revolution of 2003. From then on, it was a familiar story.

Saakashvili was, back then, one of the beacons of pro-Western liberalism and reform in the former Soviet world, the object of regular paeons in the MSM. Some of the lustre has since come off, following his idiotic attack on Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia that resulted in military defeat in 2008, and his own ignominious political end in Georgia itself following revelations of mass abuse in the prison system – under his Presidency, the incarceration rate tripled to become Europe’s highest per capita – relevations that were carefully coordinated by his political opponents. He is now wanted in his native land, which he fled even before his Presidential term came to a formal end, on an array of charges related to corruption as well as possible involvement in various suspicious deaths (including that of Zhvania kek) and murders. Nonetheless, for all his democratic and human rights failings, which all but the most hardcore neocons by now acknowledge, there is still a very widespread impression that he is at least someone who can get the job done – that is, improve living standards, strengthen the country, and root out corruption. After all, did he not liquidate the everyday bribery that is a depressing feature common to the entire post-Soviet world? Did he not make Georgia one of the world’s most attractive places for business? Did he not lay the foundations of, in his own word s, “a future Georgian Switzerland, the future Georgian Singapore, the future Georgian Dubai, the Georgian Hong Kong, and of the greatest Georgia of all times”? And would not Odessa benefit from his impeccable credentials and expertise?

The only problem is that his legend is lies, lurid and false; a con for the ages.

The Economy

The economy did grow under Saakashvili. And across a range of institutional indices like the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business, Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, and various economic freedom indices it did radically improve its position.

georgia-gdp-history

The only problem was that it was doing so from an exceedingly low base, and even today, total GDP per capita (in constant dollars) is still considerably lower than it was in 1990. That’s 25 years and counting! Moreover, the growth rate was virtually the same under the “reformist” Saakashvili as it was under the “Soviet fossil” Shevardnadze. Nor was it any better than that of Georgia’s neighbors. To the contrary, it was far worse than in Azerbaijan, which yes you could ascribe to oil, but was also far worse than in neighboring Armenia and in Belarus. Both Armenia and Belarus are located in geopolitical straits just as trying as Georgia’s – Armenia is blockaded on two sides by Turkey and Azerbaijan, while Belarus is known as “Europe’s last dictatorship” and is under longstanding Western sanctions. Georgia’s performance, including under Saakashvili, only looks adequate in comparison to the total disaster zones that are Ukraine and Moldova. Productivity in the agricultural sector – where around half the Georgian population still works – has remained completely static since the early 1990s, whereas it more than trebled in neighboring Armenia.

Amazing as it might sound, but fanatically-pursued libertarian reforms, US military aid, and a couple of hotels erected by Trump to service gushing Westerners seeking photo-ops with Saakashvili on G.W. Bush Boulevard do not a strong economy make.

Corruption

One of the things that virtually everyone agrees on, even his critics, is that under Saakashvili, Georgia “solved” its corruption problem. If so, this would make it a somewhat unique achievement for the ex-Soviet world, bar only Estonia, and worthy of praise.

Now what does the data say? Certainly Georgia greatly improved its positions on surveys that elites pay a lot of attention to, such as Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, where Georgia increased its rating from an abysmal 18/100 in 2003 to a respectable, Baltic-level 49/100 by 2013. But according to ratings that measure corruption realities as opposed to the perceptions of anonymous “experts” who can be unduly influenced by PR agencies – the likes of Aspect Consulting, Orion Strategies, Public Strategies, and the Glover Park Group, which received millions of dollars under Saakashvili to burnish his reformist image – the improvement on the ground was far more modest. 6% of Georgians reported paying a bribe in the past year in 2004, the first year of Saakashvili’s Presidency, and before his reforms could reasonably be expected to have taken effect; in 2013, the last year of his President, it was 4%. An improvement, sure, but not a particularly radical one. Actual opinion polls by Transparency International suggest that lowlevel corruption was not a big problem in Georgia pre-Saakashvili, and its reduction under him could just as easily have been a simple matter of the general withering away of the state’s regulatory agencies under his libertarian reforms. For instance, the near wholesale removal of university tuition subsidies – essential for democratic access to higher education in a country as poor as Georgia – led to a plunge in tertiary enrollment by almost a third relative to the early-to-mid-2000s. Fewer students automatically translates to fewer bribes for grades. These examples can be extended indefinitely: Less contact with the state automatically leads to “lower” corruption. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s “good” in all cases.

open-budget-index-georgia-russia

What about institutions? According to the Open Budget Index, an organization that asseses the transparency of state accounts according to objective criteria (as opposed to perceptions), Georgia did improve, but has always lagged Putin’s “mafia state.” Now, true, a low score in the OBI doesn’t necessarily imply institutions are more corrupt; they could be both secretive and honest. But in the virtual absence of objective, quantitative measures of institutional quality – of which corruption perceptions by a bunch of anonymous and unaccountable “experts” are most definitely not – it’s the best we have, at least as a rough proxy of states’ eagerness to tackle corruption and willingness to be forthright with their citizens.

Then, in addition to lowlevel and institutional corruption, we also have highlevel corruption. This is the hardest to gauge of them all, even just by definition (how many American bank bailouts are equivalent to how many Chinese or Russian offshore accounts?). That said, this is the one aspect of corruption in Georgia that many people acknowledge is unlikely to have improved and might have even become worse relative to Shevardnadze’s period. To the contrary, all accounts indicate that Saakashvili merely centralized highlevel corruption around his own figure – allegations that have now been given form by concrete criminal charges against him in Georgia.

Added all up, we likely see real but modest improvements in lowlevel and institutional corruption under Saakashvili, which is of course “good” but doesn’t come anywhere near to justifying the panegyrics addressed towards him by Western elites and their lackeys in Ukraine when we consider that these improvements were seen in most of the rest of the ex-Soviet world in the 2000s as well, including in the dark lands themselves, Putin’s Russia. As for highlevel corruption all that happened was that the pig put on lipstick.

Demography

Surely the ultimate litmus test of a political leader’s performance is in whether people want to live in his realm or not. For a long time, for all his foreign policy failings and overblown economic and institutional achievements, it appeared that in this at least Saakashvili had succeeded, with Georgia’s demographic decline stabilizing at around four and half million people after 2002 due to declining emigration and a rebound in the fertility rate from 1.4 children per woman in the early 2000s to 1.8 today.

Then came the 2014 Census, and it emerged that Georgia’s population decline had if anything accelerated under Saakashvili, with the population hitting 3.7 million relative to 4.4 million in 2002 and 4.9 million in 1989 (all figures are minus Abkhazia and South Ossetia).

georgia-population-trends-1959-2014

Where did all the Georgians go? Most went to Russia: Of the $1.26 billion Georgia received in remittances in 2011 (almost 10% of Georgia’s GDP), more than half – $655 million – came from Russia. Surely quite an embarassment that the economy of “Switzerland in the Caucasus” and “oldest Colchis Europe, the most ancient civilization” was essentially held afloat by Georgian Gasterbaiters in a “barbarian” country with “mongoloid brutality and ideology,” as Saakashvili himself put it.

But even as Saakashvili ranted and raved about Russia’s Asiatic barbarity, using vocabulary that had disappeared off respectable European tongues since 1968, it appears that Georgians continued to vote with their feet and emigrate to Russia in ridiculously large numbers. For comparison, Georgia’s population loss over the past decade is equivalent to what saw in Latvia or Lithuania after their accession to the EU. I imagine it is considerably easier for a Balt to move to Ireland than it is for a Georgian to move to Moscow.

Mishiko in Odessa

Now that the myth has been swept away, we have just the man before us, whose essence boils down to an idiosyncratic combination of iconoclasm, vindictive incompetence, and Western cargo cultism.

Perhaps the best real life metaphor for this was the demolition of a Soviet-era monument to victory in the Great Patriotic War in Kutaisi, in which 200,000 Georgians died. Not a monument to Stalin, or anything like that – though it should be noted that Georgians are far more partial towards Stalin than are Russians – but just a simple victory monument. But they couldn’t even get that right. When it was blown up, two people – a mother and her eight year old daughter – were killed by the flying concrete, and four others were seriously injured. This was noticed, even in the West. As a Western cargo cultist in a position of power you really have to fuck up pretty good to even get American state media like RFERL to criticize you.

It takes true skillz to make all three of these people laugh at you.

It takes true skillz to make all three of these people laugh at you.

On getting appointed to head Odessa oblast, despite having at most just ever visited it as a tourist, Saakashvili smarmily proclaimed “I ❤ Odessa.” A whole range of other people were not that happy. Kolomoysky, the oligarch-lord of Dnepropetrovsk, whose protege Igor Palitsa had previously ruled Odessa and who is locked in a simmering conflict with Poroshenko, said that Saakashvili would betray Odessa to the Russians at the first opportunity: “By the way, how many citizenships does Saakashvili have? Would probably beat even me. American, Georgian, Dutch, and now Ukrainian” (Kolomoysky, for the record, has three. When a journalist told him that double citizenship is illegal in Ukraine, Kolomoysky remarked that while that is true, there’s nothing illegal about triple citizenship on the lawbooks. A bona fide Odessan retort if there ever was one). Lyashko, a caricature of a nationalist politician who is also widely regarded as a faggot amongst all Ukrainians, including even his supporters (much more so for his hystrionic grandstanding and violent denials than for the actual details of his sexual orientation), and is also deeply at odds with Kolomoysky, was also against the appointment: “Of all Ukraine’s 45 million citizens, not a single one could be found to head Odessa oblast? … [Poroshenko] admitted before the whole world that Ukrainians are unable to govern themselves. Maybe we should get a President from abroad too?” Sure… why not. Finally, Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s PM and President at the time of the South Ossetian War, undiplomatically remarked: “The comedy show continues. Unhappy Ukraine…”

When you have someone who simultaneously infuriates and/or amuses such an amazingly wide and conflicting range of political forces, you know that the whole thing is a pathetic farce.

Both Western and Russian analysts have linked Saakashvili’s appointment to the mounting blockade of Transnistria, the breakaway Russo-Ukrainian population Moldovan province. With Ukraine now on board as well as Moldova, its position has become very precarious. Short of Russia establishing an air corridor, the garrison within Transnistria is no longer able to resupply. It is not an exaggeration to say that it is now an additional potential flashpoint to an outbreak of overt hostilities between Russia and Ukraine. In this sense, bearing in mind Odessa’s position right next to Transnistria, Saakashvili’s resume is exceptional.

But in reality things are probably somewhat simpler. Odessa is the most unstable province in terms of separatist sentiment along with Kharkov, due to both demographics and memories of the massacre of anti-junta activists in May 2, 2014. Poroshenko needs someone who is able to crack heads if need be, someone who is unrelated to Kolomoysky, his prime rival in Ukraine’s game of thrones, and preferably also someone who as an outsider would be unable to establish his own independent powerbase. Finally, it is a solid “fuck you” to Russia, and fuck what Georgia – one of Ukraine’s putative allies – makes of that. This might not sound very rational to Western ears, but reason and moderation has always been foreign to the Maidan ideologues. That is why they have unleashed a civil war in place of dialog in the first place. That is why they have claimed the not inconsiderable achievement of alienating major figures in the Polish security establishment – traditionally, and understandably, highly anti-Russian – by their maniac worship of Stepan Bandera and his murderous goons.

So in this sense Saakashvili’s appointment is perfectly understandable.

On another level, however, it is also rather sad, and not just in the way it blithely ignores Odessan opinions and lays bare the failure of Ukrainian statecraft. Saakashvili might have been a cargo cultist, obsessed with making the correct gestures – G.W. Bush Boulevards, being the third largest contributor in terms of troop quantity in the occupation of Iraq – to get cargo from the West and even half-succeeding at it – Trump Towers in Tblisi, a few five star hotels in Batumi, copious US military aid, etc. None of that cargo made a difference when Saakashvili’s forces murdered Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia in the expectation that the US would openly intervene on his side, only to face complete military defeat and the permanent reversal of the Stalinist-era borders that gave ethnically distinct Abkhazia and South Ossetia to Georgia in the first place.

But at least, in his defense, so far as cargo cults go, Saakashvili was the real deal. How much more pathetic is it that Poroshenko’s Ukraine is making a cargo cult of a cargo cultist?

 
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She was a member of Aidar, which is known for its brutality and ill-discipline even relative to the other Ukrainian Neo-Nazi volunteer batallions.

vita-zaverukha

Though she wasn’t seen much at the front, as there were more important matters to be seen to in the rest of Ukraine, such as corporate raids on “separatist” companies in her native Vinnitsya.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaJwx9Jhi1k

She might have participated in the incineration of the Odessa Trade Unions House, and certainly celebrated its anniversary in style.

zaverukha-happy-about-odessa

EDIT: Glossy adds some background/translations.

In general, her VK profile (Russia’s Facebook) is… interesting. Chockablock with Nazi slogans and hatemongering of all sorts. You might want to check it out soon, since it’s like to be closed any hour now in light of recent events.

zaverukha-jews-control-ukraine

In her postings, she evidences a latent obsession with virile Russian men (see left), and the political and financial power of the Jews (see right):

The evil Jews rule us! But we’re even worse than them… we sold our grandfathers’ glory, and Jews tied us to their yoke! – Taras Shevchenko.

None of this was much of a hindrance to her getting featured on the front cover of Elle magazine (right EDIT: they even managed to mix this up, left).

elle-021

And today, we come to the last of her adventures for what will hopefully be a long time.

On May 4th, two masked gunmen robbed a gas station, making away with 800 grivnas (40 US dollars). They shot the gas station attendant in the arm, threatened to kill him if he called the police, and made a getaway with a couple of other accomplices. He called the police anyway and they set off in pursuit. Their task was presumably made easier by the ПТН-ПНХ (“Putin go fuck yourself”) sticker attached to their vehicle, but this turned out badly for them, as the band took out automatic weapons and made cheddar cheese of the pursuing police jeep, killing one of them and putting the other three into a critical condition (one of whom later died). Both of the killed police officers happened to be former Berkut members, and one figured in a list of people who had allegedly persecuted Maidan activists. Life for people on such lists is dangerous in modern day Ukraine.

But back to the chase. Reinforcements were called up, cameras fixed their escape, and soon they were surrounded in their apartment hideout. One was killed in a standoff back by the vehicle, while the other three surrendered. After their arrests it soon became clear that they were also implicated in an earlier armed attack on a traffic police outpost on May 2nd that had not resulted in any casualties.

It soon emerged that the conspiracy stretched deeper, involving several other people including Vita Zaverukha, who has since been taken into custody as well.

The far right band had initially planned a terrorist attack on the May 1st parade in Kiev, but for whatever reason failed to carry through with it. The attack on the traffic police station was an attempt to acquire more weaponry. Vita Zaverukha was “tightly linked” with the three men suspected in the killings of the police officers, and participated directly in the May 2nd attack on the traffic police station. After that they upgraded their plans to a terrorist attack on Communists and World War 2 veterans in Kiev on Victory Day on May 9th. In a confession by one of the men posted to YouTube by the Ukrainian police, one “Vita” was supposed to have “covered” the gang while “Morgan” would fire at the veterans.

Only their puzzling but ultimate fortuitous turn towards pure banditry on May 4th saved potentially dozens of World War 2 veterans from cold-blooded murder at the hands of fascists 70 years after they had crushed their ideological forebears in open combat.

The modern Ukrainian state gives its pet Nazis a lot of leeway. For instance, in this video from late March – well after the Minsk II ceasefire – our heroine was filmed firing a grenade launcher on a civilian village. The video was soon scrubbed off YouTube, it being a war crime and all, but not before it was downloaded and reposted by Novorossiya supporters.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOH-LO5skvQ

Nothing was done about this. But not even the Poroshenko regime can allow these Nazis to openly kill state officials and so blatantly undermine their putative monopoly on violence. She will now likely be going away to prison. As she herself pointed out, “the less time an action takes, the longer lasts its effect.”

zaverukha-victory

Victory can only be achieved through radical action – agitation and murder. Meetings, pickets, and other shows will achieve nothing. Action should always be decisive. The less time an action takes, the longer lasts its effect.

Hopefully the effect lasts for a long time.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Junta, Nazism, Ukrainian Crisis 
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The following leaflets are being spread in Slavyansk, a once focal point of the Donbass resistance that was recaptured by Ukrainian forces in July last year:

are-you-a-separatist

Translation:

How to recognize your typical separatist?

  • Calls for the entry of Russian troops or suggests surrendering to Russia.
  • Propagandizes Russian symbols and spreads the idea of the “Russian world.”
  • Denigrates the values of the Ukrainian people, expresses doubts about the fact of the existence of the Ukrainian nation, Ukrainian language, etc.
  • Spreads rumors about the non-existent threats to the Russian language or Russian speakers in Ukraine.
  • Denigrates Ukrainian state symbols – the flag, national anthem, coat of arms, etc.
  • Praises the so-called DNR and LNR.
  • Portests against military mobilization.
  • Initiates events in which people call for overthrow of the government and mass riots.
  • Spreads lies and inflames interethnic hatred (racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism).
  • Promotes fear, panic, and defeatist attitudes.

A SEPARATIST IS EVEN SOMEONE WHO AGITATES AGAINST MOBILIZATION OR AWAITS PUTIN’S ARRIVAL! Punishment: 7-12 years imprisonment (Article 110 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code).

If you have encountered a case of separatism, please call the SBU or the government hotline and record the evidence on your phone, video recorder, photo camera.

0 800 507 309 – Government hotline

0 800 501 482 – SBU hotline

Toll free from landline phones.

Useless to argue the morals of this; it is justified or not depending on your particular partisan sympathies and the consistency of any convictions you might have on free speech, etc. So I won’t bother.

I will however make a few wider points:

1) The utter hypocrisy (and hardheaded practicality) of a regime that came to power through an illegal coup on a wave of mass riots now banning the same thing that got them into power in the first place. And of course the incredibly hardline restrictions on free speech implicit in all this, which are and will continue to be abused (Your neighbor’s dog is too loud? Maybe he’s a separatist!).

Lest one think this all just talk, consider the case of Ruslan Kotsaba, a (West Ukrainian!) journalist arrested for making a video in which he came out against mobilization, which is strictly speaking without legal basis during a time in which war has not been declared, i.e. up till now. He faces up to 15 years in prison. This is just what is probably the most visible case; there have been sackings, denunciations, business shakedowns, arrests, and imprisonments for non violent expressions of different opinion (or allegations of such) on a scale that would have saved Yanukovych’s “bloody regime” had he been even a tenth as ruthless.

 

2) A corrolary is that the results of opinion polls, which generally show drastic declines in attitudes towards Russia, while certainly real at some level, surely overstate the level of the decline. If you live in Kharkov and some unknown person phoned you and asked you for your opinions on Crimea then you’d have to be fairly brave or at least confident that you are dealing with an ethical pollster before voicing any opinion that goes against the Maidan party line.

3) As the Ukrainian economy plummets into the abyss with a helping hand from the IMF, the incidence of repressions (of which witchhunts for separatists is but a part) is ratcheting up and this process will continue further because after all they will have all been organized by Russia. After all, what possible valid reason could a pensioner with skyrocketing heating bills and devalued savings living on $50 a month have for opposing the oligarchs who rule Ukraine? And with the regime having promoted plenty of Neo-Nazis to positions of power, who’ll be happy enough to crack heads while the money continues flowing.

The fact that the regime is driven to such repressive measures is an indication that it does not enjoy firm and overwhelming support from the population. With things likely to get much worse before they get better, it is only a matter of time before the regime will have to drop what remains of its liberal democracy European values facade.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Junta, Ukraine, Ukrainian Crisis 
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Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

I am a blogger, thinker, and businessman in the SF Bay Area. I’m originally from Russia, spent many years in Britain, and studied at U.C. Berkeley.

One of my tenets is that ideologies tend to suck. As such, I hesitate about attaching labels to myself. That said, if it’s really necessary, I suppose “liberal-conservative neoreactionary” would be close enough.

Though I consider myself part of the Orthodox Church, my philosophy and spiritual views are more influenced by digital physics, Gnosticism, and Russian cosmism than anything specifically Judeo-Christian.