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The Maidan Retroactively Criminalizes Itself
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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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  1. “Initiates events in which people call for overthrow of the government and mass riots. <— Priceless.

  2. You’re probably sick of people suggesting blog post topics to you, so I’ll understand completely if you ignore this, but:

    I’m curious about how you think this war will end. And when. No one believes that the current cease fire will hold, but eventually the war has got to end. Some sort of a new equilibrium will be reached. How will it look? How big will Novorossia end up being, what will be its formal relationship to Russia, etc.

    AK Edit: I plan to have a series of Ukraine posts in the following week, which does include making some predictions (well, guesses) at the end.

  3. I guess if the eastern separatists succeed, either with significant autonomy within the Ukraine, or outright secession, it will at least be a polity more representative of and responsive to local interests. That’s not nothing, but will it be materially better, in terms of being more democratic, accountable and less financially corrupt? Post revolution scenarios always have a lot of baggage inherited from the damage of armed violence to be overcome before things can actually get better.

  4. This is a sampling of residents Slavyansk of being interviewed by Ukrainian stat TV:

    [eng subs] UA Hromadske.tv: Slavyansk residents trust Putin more than Poroshenko, March 2015

    The situation reminds me of Northern Ireland in the late 1960s or early ’70s. This is another disaster waiting to happen. I only have to wonder how many people are being rounded up and “disappeared” already in these ethnic Russian regions.

  5. Novorossiya now has it’s own national anthem, available on Youtube. Possibly that means they’re not contemplating coming back into the fold. Making it official might be a long time in the making as there’ll probably be resistance to giving it international recognition as a separate country, the US and Britain using their clout to prevent that. It doesn’t seem as if Humpty Dumpty can be put back together again so it’s more realistic to think in terms of what the separation will look like.
    It appears the Kiev government isn’t getting the enthusiasm for war that it would like, the general population sensing that it’s being exploited and thus reacting by dragging it’s feet and being inefficient, a form of passive resistance. The leaflet looks to me to be just another Made in USA piece of psy-op just like all that’s gone into the various color revolutions and subversions everywhere. The CIA and various government officials have visited there so they’ve made a commitment. Expect full-spectrum lying, propaganda and war incitement 24/7 from them.

  6. I don’t know enough to buy any of the various assertions and interpretations but, sadly, I have come to believe that, despite Angela Merkel’s best efforts Western, especially American, diplomacy, black ops, neglect, negligence and general incompetent scheming could allow a situation to develop where most Ukrainians were sufficiently impoverished and so disillusioned that they blamed the West and Western oriented leaders for their plight and looked to a great reunion (though still as the Ukraine) with their Russian brothers, sisters and cousins.

    What are the odds over the next 5 to 10 years? Any counterbid to 4 to 1 against?

    • Replies: @Glossy
    @Wizard of Oz

    I don't think impoverishment ever topples regimes by itself. If a regime has firm control over the media, it always succeds at blaming any impoverishment on its enemies, which in the junta's case is Russia. The mass of the population everywhere in the world always buys the local media's message.

    If more of the Ukraine comes back to the fold, it would be through war. I'm not for more war. I'm just stating an obvious fact about propaganda. In the Crimea and the Donbass republics the junta's media message has been replaced with the Russian message. Literally Ukro TV has been replaced with Russian TV.

    The people of the Donbass and to a larger extend the Crimeans remained relatively hostile to the Ukrainian project in the 1991-2014 period in spite of living in the Ukro media's space. But the info war has become much more severe recently. Control has been tightened up. Russian TV channels and series have been banned in the Ukraine. I wouldn't be surprised if a Ukrainian version of the Great Firewall of China eventually follows.

  7. @Wizard of Oz
    I don't know enough to buy any of the various assertions and interpretations but, sadly, I have come to believe that, despite Angela Merkel's best efforts Western, especially American, diplomacy, black ops, neglect, negligence and general incompetent scheming could allow a situation to develop where most Ukrainians were sufficiently impoverished and so disillusioned that they blamed the West and Western oriented leaders for their plight and looked to a great reunion (though still as the Ukraine) with their Russian brothers, sisters and cousins.

    What are the odds over the next 5 to 10 years? Any counterbid to 4 to 1 against?

    Replies: @Glossy

    I don’t think impoverishment ever topples regimes by itself. If a regime has firm control over the media, it always succeds at blaming any impoverishment on its enemies, which in the junta’s case is Russia. The mass of the population everywhere in the world always buys the local media’s message.

    If more of the Ukraine comes back to the fold, it would be through war. I’m not for more war. I’m just stating an obvious fact about propaganda. In the Crimea and the Donbass republics the junta’s media message has been replaced with the Russian message. Literally Ukro TV has been replaced with Russian TV.

    The people of the Donbass and to a larger extend the Crimeans remained relatively hostile to the Ukrainian project in the 1991-2014 period in spite of living in the Ukro media’s space. But the info war has become much more severe recently. Control has been tightened up. Russian TV channels and series have been banned in the Ukraine. I wouldn’t be surprised if a Ukrainian version of the Great Firewall of China eventually follows.

  8. In Ukraine, they’ve voted to open KGB files to the public.

    http://www.ibtimes.com/ukraines-parliament-votes-open-soviet-era-kgb-archives-public-1876756

    In Russia, they’ve outlawed internet celebrity memes.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2015/04/10/russia-just-made-a-ton-of-internet-memes-illegal/

    Who are the nazis again?

    If you posted this in a blog, would you be a criminal in Russia?

    • Replies: @Glossy
    @Cliff Arroyo

    In Ukraine, they’ve voted to open KGB files to the public.

    The SBU (the Ukrainian secret police) is a lot scarier than the KGB ever was. Remember, the KGB was the tame, post-WWII Soviet intelligence service. Its pre-WWII predecessors had different names. The Kiev junta is more like the pre-war Old Bolsheviks than like the stable, bureaucratic post-war USSR. The junta's blue-and-yellow terror is modeled on Red Terror.

    If you posted this in a blog, would you be a criminal in Russia?

    Unlike you I read Russian blogs all the time. The answer is no. However, this man is now in prison in the Ukraine for tearing a picture of Poroshenko, the junta's leader:

    http://vesti-ukr.com/strana/94792-za-razorvannyj-portret-poroshenko-dajut-8-let-tjurmy

    You can use Google Translate if you're curious about the details. The man is facing an 8-year sentence.

  9. @Cliff Arroyo
    In Ukraine, they've voted to open KGB files to the public.

    http://www.ibtimes.com/ukraines-parliament-votes-open-soviet-era-kgb-archives-public-1876756

    In Russia, they've outlawed internet celebrity memes.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2015/04/10/russia-just-made-a-ton-of-internet-memes-illegal/

    Who are the nazis again?

    If you posted this in a blog, would you be a criminal in Russia?

    http://bayardandholmes.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Putin-meme-not-ukraine-mykraine1.jpg

    Replies: @Glossy

    In Ukraine, they’ve voted to open KGB files to the public.

    The SBU (the Ukrainian secret police) is a lot scarier than the KGB ever was. Remember, the KGB was the tame, post-WWII Soviet intelligence service. Its pre-WWII predecessors had different names. The Kiev junta is more like the pre-war Old Bolsheviks than like the stable, bureaucratic post-war USSR. The junta’s blue-and-yellow terror is modeled on Red Terror.

    If you posted this in a blog, would you be a criminal in Russia?

    Unlike you I read Russian blogs all the time. The answer is no. However, this man is now in prison in the Ukraine for tearing a picture of Poroshenko, the junta’s leader:

    http://vesti-ukr.com/strana/94792-za-razorvannyj-portret-poroshenko-dajut-8-let-tjurmy

    You can use Google Translate if you’re curious about the details. The man is facing an 8-year sentence.

  10. Memes are about as banned in Russia as the Bhagavad Gita and driving licenses for gays.

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