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The political conflicts in Ukraine are not something new. They didn't come up on the radar of American media until they reached a serious level of violence. However, the political dynamics of a tug of war between East and West have been going on since the Orange Revolution of 2004. There are indications that one factor of increasing significance in the escalating violence is the organizing influence of far right militants.

Converts Join With Militants in Kiev Clash

The Ukrainian authorities and their allies in the Kremlin identify the source of the increase in violence as extremists and terrorists, the young militants of sometimes sinister, far-right political affiliations with ideologies formed in the struggle against Polish and Soviet domination. They have provided much of the front-line muscle in increasingly bloody clashes with the police.

But there are thousands of other protesters who, like Mr. Chontorog, are late converts to militancy, who say they believe that the government has left them with no other choice by deploying so much lethal violence itself. On Thursday, a few antigovernment protesters could be seen carrying weapons. But with reports that the police have killed more than 70 demonstrators, most of the gunfire clearly came from the other side of the barricades. The interior minister reported that 29 police officers had been taken to the hospital and 67 had been captured by the protesters.

Nonetheless, the murky nature of the opposition gathered in Independence Square, at least on its fringes, is causing problems for the United States and the European Union, which would prefer a neat apposition of peaceful, pro-democracy demonstrators versus the thuggish kleptocracy of President Viktor F. Yanukovych. But that line of thinking often blurs in the streets.

Revolutions are not logical, orderly and stable processes. History has many instances of movements which began with democratic aspirations being taken over by authoritarian radicals. The most famous instance being the takeover of the Russian revolution by the Bolsheviks. More recently we saw something similar in Eygpt. The movement to oust Mubarak seemed to be initiated by western oriented secularists. Yet the Muslim Brotherhood was able to gain control of the new government and it all fell apart.

Putin has been actively meddling in Ukraine politics for the past 10 years. The present crisis was triggered by his attempt to disrupt an affiliation with the EU. The nations of the EU and the US have made their attempts to influence internal political events. It is a situation that has been messy for a long time. It is not a nice made for TV easy plot.

As of today there is a new deal between the protesters and the existing government with a promise of early presidential elections. There was also a deal earlier this week which fell apart. There are definite indications that the violence is not being initiated solely by government security forces. Will the new deal hold? That remains to be seen. Ukraine has made repeated attempts to create a stable elected government. It hasn't worked so far.

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Comment Preferences

  •  does the geo-political devide (3+ / 0-)

    support a two nation solution?

    •  That is at least a theoretical possibility. (4+ / 0-)

      Eastern Ukraine is historically culturally and economically oriented toward Russia. There has been a geographic element in the political battles. They way things have been headed, the practical politics for it don't look especially bright.

      •  False (0+ / 0-)

        The allegiance run both ways throughout the country with different regions having different majority views. There is an even greater divide in the "Russian" areas between the older residents who long for the certainties of the Soviet Union and the young who are more western orientated having grown up in an independent country.

        Putin is desperate to keep Ukraine in Russia's thrall for many reasons. It is the last of two remaining buffer states to the West - repression in Belarus is such that nobody has yet dared to make the sort of challenge we see in Ukraine. The country is also vital for his plans to revive Comecon  as his huge bribe to join his free trade area shows. (Part of the reason dates back to the Soviet era where the different republics specialized on certain products. .e.g the USSR exported 35mm SLR cameras made just outside Moscow and in Belarus. Larger format cameras were made in Kiev in Ukraine.)

        Putin also realizes that Russia has perhaps a 25-30 year window of influence over the EU and its European client states as their dependence on Russian oil and gas is replaced by renewables and new nuclear (whether tritium based fission or fusion).

        "Come to Sochi, visit the gay clubs and play with the bears" - NOT a Russian advertising slogan.

        by Lib Dem FoP on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 08:50:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I said (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ezekiel in Exile, Wreck Smurfy

          Historically. This is your usual EU spin machine.

          •  As opposed to (0+ / 0-)

            your spin machine that relied on bribes from the Ukrainian oligarchs paying off right wing "commentators" to repeat their talking points including that the former President is imprisoned for a sweetheart deal with Putin over gas (an imprisonment widely condemned by Human Rights organizations). Yet we find the same thing happening with the Russian danegelt in the form of loans doled out in dribs and drabs to keep the vassel in line.

            There was a diary on here last night regarding these bribes or rather the "pay to repeat our talking points" payments made to "promote" the country.

            "Come to Sochi, visit the gay clubs and play with the bears" - NOT a Russian advertising slogan.

            by Lib Dem FoP on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 09:56:05 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  And the more countries along the pipelines (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Richard Lyon, limpidglass

          the more money Russia has to pay to get their natural gas to market in the EU. I'm reminded of the twenty something castles up and down the Rhine. Each one gets their cut of the trade and supports a state.

          If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

          by AoT on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 09:00:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  why does South Sudan even exist, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AoT

            if not because of petro-politics?

            I've often wondered how much the Scottish separatist movement owes to the support of fossil fuel companies. Surely the ability for oil and NG companies to completely bypass British environmental and financial laws and write their own under an independent Scottish government is a powerful attraction. I have no doubt the companies would get much more favorable terms in an independent Scotland than in the UK.

            "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

            by limpidglass on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 11:42:06 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  The media keep calling the opposition (6+ / 0-)

    protesters, I'm not sure that's the right word. Protesters aren't armed. I don't remember any guns at Occupy. I think insurgents is probably a better term.

    The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

    by Azazello on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 08:12:02 AM PST

  •  Revolutions are always a mess. (7+ / 0-)

    And usually, don't turn out good for the initial revolutionaries. It takes two or three (or more) waves of revolution once the original government has been toppled, often more than 20 years and quite a bit of bloodshed.
    And even then there's no guarantee that the eventual new regime will be better than the old one.
    This is what I wish our local "revolutionaries" would learn. Revolution is a last resort of desperate people and is not a cure for what ails us.
    As long as there are other means available, use them. Use them up, before setting yourself up to violently oppose the Government.
    And don't kid yourself that you can have a non-violent revolution, the people in power, the ones that control the guns, don't want to be displaced and when it gets to a point where it looks like their precious chair is threatened, they WILL deploy that firepower. You may be non-violent, but they aren't.

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 08:19:26 AM PST

    •  We should be looking to Tunisia. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marsanges

      They seem to have gotten this whole thing down much better than the rest of us.

      •  Not without major bumps in the road (3+ / 0-)

        and still a work in progress.
        We haven't seen that play out fully yet because it will take a couple decades to stabilize. The Islamist movement was installed in the first wave of democracy and has now been tempered by a powersharing arrangement (that is increasingly shaky).
        So far, they have done better than the rest of the Arab Spring revolutions but the fat lady aint sung yet.

        If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

        by CwV on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 08:57:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  That is why (7+ / 0-)

      there will never be a revolution in this country. The 1% who rule us will never let it happen. If occupy had done this the National Guard would have come in and violently crushed them in a heartbeat. New York City or Oakland anyone. You know the cops were just itching for someone to open fire on them so that they could really kick ass. I know a cop who was there and that's what he was hoping for. Read some of JayRays diaries about how the guard was used to kill union strikers. Or MacArthur and Eisenhower using the US Army to crush veteran protesters. As it was the local cops didn't need their help to beat the shit out of them.Even peaceful demonstrators get the crap beat out of them in the good old US of A. We have the largest percentage of our population held prisoner in the world. We also have the most total prisoners. With 5% of the worlds population, we have 25% of the worlds prisoners. We love descent when it happens somewhere else. Not so much when it happens here. Land of the free. Think again.

    •  Not necessarily. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CwV, FG

      I knew the situation in Ukraine was different when the protesters were not routed from Independence Square in Kiev.  Totally different situation than Syria, where you are more than absolutely correct that extreme and even self-destructive violence will be deployed against protesters rather than ceding power.

      "So listen, oh, Don't wait." Vampire Weekend.

      by Publius2008 on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 09:16:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Each situation is different in the details. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT, Publius2008, Involuntary Exile

        This is the second (or third) wave in Ukraine's revolution (remember that peaceful Orange revolution?) and it seems that there are major divisions on the public side of the barricades with Far Right parties doing a lot of the shooting.

        If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

        by CwV on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 09:20:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The title of this diary (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Azazello, Lib Dem FoP, jan4insight, IM

    is not supported by its contents.  As the article you quote clearly states, the notion that right-wingers are playing a "leading" or "organizing" role in the protests is propaganda coming from Moscow.  

    While there is a right-wing element in Ukraine, it is not as large as in France, the Netherlands, or Austria, and I am yet to see any actual EVIDENCE that it is a large factor in the current uprising in Ukraine.

    On the contrary, the actual evidence in the article that you quote indicates that Ukrainians are joining the protest out of outrage against Yanukovych, not right-wing ideology.

    Why does it seem that so many Americans are willing to latch onto this notion that right-wingers are behind the protests -- is it an insistence on casting everything in terms of left vs. right?

    •  I disagree (8+ / 0-)

      If you read the entire article it paints a picture of right wing militants recruiting people who started out as non-violent protesters to enlist in a militarized structure of discipline. It is not necessary for well organized and committed revolutionaries to have numerical majority in order to exert leverage. That was the point of referencing the Bolsheviks.

      I have no idea whether people will gain ultimate control of a revolutionary movement. The point of the NYT article and other sources is that they are making a concerted effort to do so. They are not simply an invention of Putin's political spin.  

      •  usual confusion (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Richard Lyon, amyzex, AoT, Azazello

        a similar role (luckily on several notches lowe rin calamity) was played by the Black Block in the civil disobedience movements of the 70s to 80s in western Europe. When violent battles were playing out over nuke sites in Germany and France, It was true to say that the anarchists were crucial organizers of that. But that didnt mean that the anarchists had the movement in hand. The relation between the violent and the nonviolent protesters was not simple then and it wouldnt be simpler today. The violent fraction has an important role to play in giving such a movement resilience (to deny that would be unrealistic) and that is what as far as I can see the violent right wingers did in the Ukraine now too. Yet they thereby do not get to determine who the movement is and what it stands for. That is politics. If they provided the nucleus alongside which the populace of Kiev could stand to repulse the brunt of repression, that doesnt mean that the whole populace of Kiev supports the ultra´s agenda.

        •  If you were in Kiev (0+ / 0-)

          which side would you be on?  Or would you seek that special corner of hell devoted to neutrals?

          When the United States becomes a low wage country, only bobbleheads shall go forth from American soil.

          by amyzex on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 09:02:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  when Yanuyovich is gone and it comes time (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wreck Smurfy

          to decide the future of Ukraine, the armed protesters willing to crack skulls and shed blood are going to have a distinct advantage over the ones who believe in peaceful protest. The former are going to have a fanatical unity of purpose. The others are going to be divided and confused, and it will take time for them to agree--assuming they agree on anything at all besides getting rid of Yanuyovich.

          Also, the EU and the US are likely to back whatever leaders are likely to deliver on their goals, which have to do with geopolitics, cheap labor, and opening new markets, not political and economic freedoms for Ukrainians. Chances are high that they will at least tacitly back the right-wing thugs because right-wing thugs can usually be entrusted to deliver on corporate interests, unlike other brands of nationalists who usually have demands about political sovereignty and distribution of national resources that don't comport well with corporate demands.

          Really they would probably prefer a Western-educated, media-savvy free-market type who could put at least a thin veneer of democratic process on the whole thing, but maybe those are in short supply. I mean, the EU is trying to push an ex-kickboxer as the new hope of Ukrainian politics. There doesn't appear to be much for them to choose from.

          What happens if the new government turns out to be worse than the old? My guess is, we won't hear a peep about it. Our media is the most tightly-controlled in the world. All we'll hear is how Ukraine is now a free-market paradise under modern European-style "democratic" rule, etc.

          The West doesn't really have a problem with oppression; it has a problem with oppression when their plutocrats are cut out from profiting from the deal.

          "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

          by limpidglass on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 11:27:23 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  As of right now it seems questionable (0+ / 0-)

            as to whether the opposition that signed the deal with the government will be able to deliver on the truce. Activist in the square are threatening that unless Yichencko resigns tonight there will be more violence tomorrow.

    •  Would this count as actual evidence ? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Richard Lyon

           Globe and Mail

      The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

      by Azazello on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 08:44:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Is this the best you've got? (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        amyzex, AoT, marsanges, Azazello, IM
        The great majority of the hundreds of thousands of “EuroMaidan” protesters – who have rallied against Mr. Yanukovych’s rejection of a European Union treaty and his moves toward a deal with Russia – appear to be either supporters of conventional, centrist or liberal opposition political parties, or pro-European citizens without much interest in party politics at all.
        There is a paradox here, Mr. Skoropadsky acknowledges. The EuroMaidan (literally “Euro Square”) protests began as, and continue to be dominated by, a call for closer relations with the EU Union, yet Pravy Sektor’s members are opposed to foreign influence and, like many on the far right, distrust Brussels.
        Most political experts do not believe Pravy Sektor’s popularity would translate into seats in Ukraine, a country that has not traditionally had strong support for the far right.
        “Their popularity has been rising only due to public attention,” says Volodymyr Fesenko, head of Kiev’s Centre for Political Studies. “People support it not because they share its far-right ideology, but because they view it as the opposition’s army. Will Pravy Sektor gain if it goes into politics? I don’t think so, I even believe that they wouldn’t get into parliament.”
        The great success of Pravy Sektor thus far has been in getting attention and notoriety -- and in the process, "giving the pro-European movement a bad name."  While it is important to be aware of the various elements and forces at work in this protest movement, blaming the entire movement on them only gives them the unwarranted attention and notoriety they crave.
        •  The diary is about them organizing violence (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Richard Lyon, Publius2008, Azazello, FG

          How much they may gain if this is resolved by a vote is beside the point. If they're organizing the violence then that translates to some power down the line if violence is seen as being an important part of why the protests worked. It's concerning on a number of levels, although it does not paint the entire opposition with the same brush. Just because one side has it's problems doesn't mean everyone involved with that side is somehow horrible.

          If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

          by AoT on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 09:17:44 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Look, if you want to believe some fairy tale (5+ / 0-)

          about peaceful, pro-democracy "protesters" being abused by an awful, albeit elected, government, go ahead. That's the approved narrative, after all, and the corporate media won't do anything to spoil it for you. What I'm saying is: 1) It ain't that simple, and 2) Protesters don't have guns, insurgents do.
          Peace.

          The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

          by Azazello on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 09:38:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Do you listen to Democracy Now? (8+ / 0-)

    According to a commentator they feature, Stephen Cohen, the E.U. precipitated this crisis by telling the Ukrainian government they would only help them if they cut all ties to Russia.

    If that's true, sounds to me like the E.U. caused this crisis, not Putin.

    •  There was a diary about that last night. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AoT, whizdom, allergywoman, marsanges, Azazello

      I am not inclined to see this as something that can be totally blamed on any one party. The simplistic narrative of good guys vs bad guys just doesn't hold up to reality.

      •  I'm not pretending I know as much as Cohen (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Richard Lyon, Azazello

        or anyone who's actually studied this Ukrainian situation. I will say that no one but Democracy Now, far as I'm aware, has brought forth this detail. If it's true, at best media coverage of this is inadequate IMO. At worst, media in this country are deliberately using this incident to paint a one-sided picture of Putin as the bad guy and the E.U. as all good.

        Glad to know you're aware of it. Boy, I don't know how this all gets resolved...

    •  I listened to that and was not sure (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Richard Lyon, marsanges, AoT, jan4insight, FG

      it was the truth.  It struck me as an anti-American screed that was ideological and not necessarily accurate to the facts.  I think the diarist is more correct and accurate about how movements work and not.  

      This is actually an insightful diary about the complexity of movements.  

      "So listen, oh, Don't wait." Vampire Weekend.

      by Publius2008 on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 09:20:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't know if it is, either. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT

        I didn't even hear about this situation until about a week ago, and I'm no expert on what's going on there now. I would like to know if this is true, however, because if it is, our media is doing an even more biased and bad job than normal.

  •  Whatever else (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon

    the things that have happened in Egypt and Ukraine and elsewhere are teachable moments on how change does and does not occur.  They may provide some answers to questions the Occupy movement raised but could not answer.  

    See also, this:  http://thebaffler.com/...

    "So listen, oh, Don't wait." Vampire Weekend.

    by Publius2008 on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 09:13:24 AM PST

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