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Three Ukrainian lessons for the United States

Three Ukrainian lessons for the United States

The United States is not Ukraine, so, I hope, we don’t find ourselves living in interesting times.

1.  Somewhat educated young people with no opportunities are a revolutionary class.  Between 1990 and 2006, as Ukraine’s population declined, the number of students entering colleges shot up an unbelievable 60%.  According to another source, ” The number of students enrolled in Ukrainian universities grew from 1.5 million in 2001, to 2.5 million in 2009-2011.”  Towards the end of this period the student population consisted primarily of those born in the 1990’s when fertility went through the floor.

At the same time, the quality of education continued to decline.  Ukrainian universities are not highly ranked, and that grades and diplomas are bought and sold is an open secret.  In 2006, 32% of recent college graduates were unemployed.  Overall youth unemployment (ages 15-24) is 18.6%.  That the students and young people in general and are very active in protests is not surprising, but it helps to know their circumstances.

(Ever wonder why Ukrainian women are so eager to bare their chests for the joy of media outlets across the world? Femen protest against sexual harassment in universities.)

 2. Bilingual nations are inherently unstable.  From its inception in 1991, Ukraine has been bilingual.  Roughly speaking, those in the south and east of the country speak Russian and cherish cultural continuity and economic ties with their eastern neighbor.  They pride themselves on being Slavic people who heroically fought Nazism in World War II.  The west speaks Ukrainian and is fiercely nationalistic.  They remember Holodomor and the three Western-most regions, historically called eastern Galicia, build monuments to Nazi collaborationist Stepan Bandera.

The South-east, with its agriculture, industry, mining and ports is the economic engine of the country — such as it is.  The west struggles with unemployment; with radical politics now resurgent in Galicia.  In the 2012 elections, chauvinistic Svoboda (“Freedom”) party received over 30% of votes in these three regions.

Note the strong showing of Svoboda in the expat vote (world map on the upper right) and in the capital of Kyiv (the 17.33 dot on top)

The west rebelled in response to the pro-Russian policies of Yanukovich who was elected by a slim majority.  That the restive west and the center toppled corrupt local governments is just as important as the demonstrations in Kyiv.  Activists are attempting to spread the revolution to the south-east, but the locals are prone to see them as invaders.  The English-speaking public got the impression that Maidan is a popular uprising, but half of the country doesn’t support it.  The South-east is generally passive, but a modest amount of political activity is registered there, too.  In the southern port city of Odessa, Russian nationalists took credit for running Ukrainian nationalists out of town, cars with western license plates are torched in Kyiv and the east and maidan offices are bombed in Kharkiv.

While the western press marveled at the “stunning” fireworks of molotov cocktails in Kyiv, I heard a different sentiment from eastern Ukraine.  They see boys from Lviv who, once infected with revolutionary fever, refuse to go home to their miserly jobs.  Sample this comment from a Kharkiv portal of the Russian social site Odnoklassniki, where pictures of babies and animals doing things are increasingly frequently sprinkled with Soviet nostalgia videos and political talk:

They bombed out downtown Kiev like fascists.  Shcherbitsky [Soviet-era Premier of Ukrainian   SSR — ed.], god bless his memory, truly loved Kiev and after the war raised that city out of ruins.  Today neo-fascists are destroying, annihilating the city. I don’t understand, why can’t they stage “maidan” in the west? If they want destruction, let them destroy Lvov, Rovno, Ternopol.  Go at it.  Why do they need to go elsewhere?  Go to a city square BAZAR — and burn tires, no need to board a train. Kiev — it’s Kievan RUS.  Kiev was never a capital of Western Ukraine.  Don’t like it, for god’s sake, demand separation.  But they don’t like that solution because pensions and subsidies come from the east, from people who work instead of striking and pay taxes that are equally distributed between the regions. We break our backs, but  these scumbacks kill innocent Berkut boys who with their bodies protect ordinary people in Kiev. […]  Berkut guys are set on fire, but they are forbidden from using arms because it will displease America that will bomb us like Yugoslavia, Syria, Lebanon and so forth and will install “Democracy” here.  We have to stomp out fascism in embryo, otherwise it will be 1933 all over again.

Others weighed in with comments like “Where is Stalin when you need him?” or “I know Russia is not perfect, but I prefer it to what’s going on here.” or “I’d rather to live next to monument to grandpa Lenin than fascist Bandera.”  1933, you say?

Right now Putin is dormant, his hands are tied with the Olympics.  A reliable, conservative way to peel away the eastern part of the country is to create a Ukrainian federation.

3. It’s easier to lose freedom than to gain it.  Prior to the 1775 destruction of Zaporozhian Sich, Cossacks had an autonomous, republican government.  Today Ukraine is a post-colony ruled by wave after wave of crooks.  In 2004, Ukraine went through a stage of mass delusion when citizens believed that a glorious future awaits them if only they support their honestly elected Yushchenko.  Today they are disappointed and apolitical.  Another lady on Odnoclassniki opined:

There are masochists out there aching to go onward, to Maidan, for those craving money and   power!

According to one poll, only 51% of Ukrainians say that they want democracy, 20.5% prefer an authoritarian form of government, and the later number is significantly higher in the east.  This is now, but what kind of results can we expect if the protests linger?

I’m not convinced of the democratic tendencies of the west either.  Svoboda, for instance, proposes ban on anti-Ukrainian sentiment  and return of the Soviet practice of including ethnic origin in passports. Its economic program is approved by The Nation.  Svoboda is only the dominant party in three western regions of the country, but in as much as it provides much of the cannon fodder for Maidan (along with Fatherland volunteers, including the ultra-nationalist Pravyy Sektor), it wields outsize influence.  They, too, will probably like the idea of federalizing Ukraine.

Ukrainians say that they want transparency, but they are kind of cheating at their own revolution.  Yes, many protesters are sincere, but Russian channel 24 filmed a short documentary exposing mercenary protesters organized in groups of 5 and paid by the day. This fact is a common knowledge among Russians and Ukrainians, including the Maidan supporters.

Russian-speaking pro-regime politicians are a little slow on the uptake, but they organized their own mercenary protests.  According to our friends in Kharkiv, such events were part Soviet-style, with government-employees rounded up for the occasion, part new model, with students and pensioners paid for attendance.  Plus, the authorities bused in people from Donetsk.  Our friend joked that in the morning the out-of-towners attended the anti-Maidan meeting, but in the evening cashed in on the pro-Maidan one.  Or maybe she was serious.

The United States has a long and proud tradition of self-rule and free market economy.  We didn’t fight we didn’t live through Stalinism and Nazi occupation.  But we are pumping money into dubious college degrees and are on the verge of passing amnesty.  Our bureaucracy is expanding and crony capitalism is on the march.  We might find ourselves living in interesting times.

A bonus lesson for Russian liberals: Don’t ally yourselves with Nazis.  Moderate pro-EU Fatherland and Udar parties entered alliance with Svoboda when two years ago it showed that it was able to turn out 10% of the population.  They allowed Svoboda and their Banderista signage in their protests, which antagonized half the country.  Likewise Russia’s liberals are allied with the radical nationalists, and it’s probably not going to end well.  Easy for me to dispense this advise, sitting here in the US.



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So who really cares about the Ukraine? They add nothing to civilization now and only added rampaging Cossacks,pogroms and wild drunkenness in the past. Oh, yes, I nearly forgot: they also welcomed the Wehrmacht with bread and salt.

The Ukrainians, owners of the richest farmland in the world, have never amounted to anything. And never will. They have never shed their serf mentalities and are content to pull each other into the muck of the rich Ukrainian soil. Only Ukrainian-born people who escaped the Ukraine have ever impacted society. And, oddly enough, they were all born Jews. Who were never considered Ukrainian.

    Valerie in reply to mackykam. | February 19, 2014 at 10:01 am

    I am sure that sharing a border with Russia has nothing to do with it.

      BannedbytheGuardian in reply to Valerie. | February 19, 2014 at 4:42 pm

      As do Finland , China & Japan & USA among others.

      riddick in reply to Valerie. | February 19, 2014 at 8:23 pm

      Amazing how posters here express their “thoughts” on subject they have absolutely no idea about. Can anyone remind me what is it that Ukraine BEGGED Russians to do back in 17th Century? Anyone know who Mazepa was and what followed? How do you SELL you lands and country, in exchange for protection, and then simply forget about it a while later? What cost do you put on MILLIONS UPON MILLIONS of RUSSIAN LIVES protecting these lands since?

      Why is one of the “protesting groups” a Nazi one? Why is another group led by the “patriot” who has been begging Germans to grant him citizenship so that he could better manage his vast holdings there? Why are cops told to use traumatic guns firing rubber bullets while “protesters” are firing live ammo? Why is that “peaceful protesters” are attacking every blogger and reporter/journalist and killing one yesterday?

      You guys are simply repeating utter BS propagated by Western media who seem to be as clueless as you are. mackykam is ABSOLUTELY correct. On every point. Take it from someone born in Lvov (really pisses me off to hear as LvIv now since Lvov was NEVER Ukrainian city to begin with) and who knows these Nazis way more than all of you here combined. They are just one or two generations removed from their ascendants who HAPPILY greeted Nazis in WWI, then HAPPILY VOLUNTEERED for police duty to terrorize locals and then HAPPILY VOLUNTEERED as prison guards in concentration camps. And now their “peaceful” descendents are leading the charge yet again, With OUR TAX DOLLARS to boot, via McCane’s visit last month.

      Can someone please point out what is it that Ukraine will gain via EU entry? Do you understand economics and numbers? Do you read? Can you point out how joining EU has benefited Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal? Or any other country, to be exact? What do you really know about Ukraine? Can you tell me how they will sustain their economy when Russia starts charging them real market prices for gas and oil? And then stops buying whatever it is they do as charity to Ukraine? Will EU support Ukraine’s economy then” Or will you?

      Talk about clueless…

        Kozak in reply to riddick. | February 20, 2014 at 1:20 pm

        Безглуздий українофоб. In 1654 they thought they were concluding an alliance with Moscow. When that turned into the embrace of the anaconda, Mazepa attempted to reestablish Ukrainian independence, unfortunately unsuccessfully. The Russians then spent the next 280 years trying to destroy the Ukrainian culture and language. The only Russian lives spent defending Ukraine were in WWII, when those same Russians threw unarmed Ukrainian men into the front lines. Thanks.
        And Lviv was founded by a Ukrainian king almost 800 years ago.
        But then again, why take seriously a guy who calls an entire popular movement “Nazis”.

          riddick in reply to Kozak. | February 20, 2014 at 1:53 pm

          Nice revisionist history, but what would one expect from a native Ukrainian.

          I asked a simple question before and I will ask it again. Name one nationality in USSR who openly welcomed advancing Nazi armies and then volunteered for polizei duty and as concentration camp guards.

          Still being hunted and prosecuted to this day.

          SO, yes, name one other nationality save for Ukrainians who openly greeted Nazis. Just one. Take your time.

          Wnen I call all of you Nazis there is a reason for it. Look up “Правый Сектор” (“Right Sector”) before you open your mouth and spout utter nonsense again. Guess who is driving all the murders in Kiev right now? Against cops only armed with rubber bullets, such heroes fighting barely armed cops with live ammo. Thank god the government has finally come to its senses and armed cops with live ammo as of this morning, hopefully all the Nazi trash will be swept out as they should have done from Day 1.

          Lvov, actually LEMBERG as it is and has been known all over Europe TO THIS DAY, was NOT founded by ANY Ukrainian. But why am I arguing with someone so clueless on history. When Germans re-captured it, after centuries after THEY HAVE FOUNDED IT, they made it their command center during WWII and as opposed to other cities in then USSR, did not leave a even a scratch on it upon leaving. You know why? BECAUSE ITS CALLED LEMBERG. L E M B E R G !!!

          Learn FACTUAL HISTORY, kid, before arguing.

          Kozak in reply to Kozak. | February 21, 2014 at 2:06 pm

          Oh, Riddick. I am not a native Ukrainian, but a Texan. Lviv was founded by King Danylo Romanovych around 1240. The Ukrainians were not welcoming “Nazis”, but Germans, who shared a culture with the respected Austrians, and who had protected Ukraine from the Russians in 1918. The fact that some people attacked the riot police does not make everyone there “Nazis”, although it’s convenient to call them that.

    Browndog in reply to mackykam. | February 19, 2014 at 10:28 am


    Everyone is entitled to their thoughts and opinions, and their ability to express them.

    However, as a descendant of non-Jewish Ukrainians, to characterize your post as “appalling” would be an understatement.

      As another descendent of Ukrainians, I agree with you.

      All are entitled to their personal opinions, but painting everyone with the same broad brush and making sweeping statements is a bit beyond the pale. I guess mackykam has never heard that there are at least 2 sides to every story, and sometimes more.

      Oh, and please stop referring to the country as “the” Ukraine (hies back to the USSR). It’s still free and goes by the name of Ukraine.

        MAB in reply to MAB. | February 19, 2014 at 11:24 am

        P.S. That should read non-Jewish. So I guess there are two of us that may possibly have shed that “serf mentality.”

        riddick in reply to MAB. | February 19, 2014 at 8:34 pm

        Oh, you mean everyone should hear only YOUR side of the story? Do you understand what you just posted? The guy was absolutely right on every point. Ukrainians are only second to Muslims (from anywhere) when it comes to trust and honesty. IMO of course, I am sure your thoughts do not match mine. Nor your experience since you’re one of them. DOH!

        How can anyone trust a nation that SOLD its lands AND FREEDOM to Russians and then promptly forgot about it at the earliest convenience. Not that you guys differ from Georgia and Finland who followed in your footsteps and just as promptly had amnesia when it benefited them. Nothing but liars and cheats. With rare exceptions.

        Remind me, please, what nationality, next to Germans, is still being prosecuted for war crimes in concentration camps? Volunteers at that. Can you name another one?

          Kozak in reply to riddick. | February 20, 2014 at 1:22 pm

          Of course Ukrainians are being prosecuted for “war crimes” – that’s what the Soviets, their agents, and their fellow travellers wanted. Like the pathetic Demjanjuk, they are hounded until they die.
          As for “selling” their freedom, we’re veering into delusion here.

Great article.

Lots of facts to bolster a specific viewpoint.

However, I could do without the voyeuristic pic that headlines the article. It doesn’t fit the Legal Insurrection brand…in my opinion.

It is hard for us in the U.S. to imagine allying with Nazis, but for Eastern Europeans the choice was Nazism or Stalinism and they saw Stalin as even worse than Hitler.

    This is what is often left out of the equation. When confronting two evils, which do you choose?

    Ukrainian collaborationists were well organized and allied with Hitler not just against Stalin, but also against Poland and Jews, and they slaughtered Poles and Jews mercilessly. The reason why the issue of collaboration keeps coming up today is because nationalist extreme makes heroes out of them.

      Ah, yes, the Soviet version of history. How come you always forget that UPA fought the Nazis, too? That large swaths of Western Ukraine were no-go zones for German civilian authorities? And, as mentioned above, the only choices were collaboration with Hitler, collaboration with Stalin, or getting stomped on by both in turn?

        BannedbytheGuardian in reply to Kozak. | February 19, 2014 at 4:52 pm

        There iwas no German civilian authority in a occupied Ukraine .

        It was lebensraum plain & simple,with e aim of wiping out locals as soon as convenient.

        Andy in reply to Kozak. | February 19, 2014 at 5:17 pm

        The Ukranians were putting a lot of Jews in the ovens and the Nazis weren’t holding a gun to their head to do it.

          BannedbytheGuardian in reply to Andy. | February 19, 2014 at 7:05 pm

          Then they got ovened themselves. There are no figures for the dead in the fire bombings of Eastern German cities eg Dresden because they were Fulll of refugees.

          This is one of the reasons the west Germans put massive amounts of money into ‘rebuilding’ these cities whereas the easterners left ithem as a reminder.

          Too many memories too many records.

    riddick in reply to mariner. | February 19, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    Ridiculous assertion, to be mild. Can you name any other nationality, save for Georgians, all from that same Stalinist Soviet Union, who happily greeted Nazis and then happily VOLUNTEERED as polizei and camp guards? Not even Baltics, who hated Stalin more than anyone else at the time, did not happily accept Germans nor volunteered for camp duty.

    Learn a bit about FACTUAL HISTORY, it’ll hopefully make you a better human being and won’t let you defend Nazi sympathizers in the future.

As for the USA – the working and middle class are being pushed down by Washington DC. Eventually they will reach a point where they will no longer yield.

Then things will get messy.

Victoria Nuland is a neocon, literally still fighting the Stalin vs. Trotsky fight. Why does the USA find this fight even relevant (OFC, if Romney were in charge, her husband would be holding her job, so no difference).

Trying to use the Olympics and the fact that Russia isn’t going to do anything during the Olympics to humiliate Russia and destroy Russian power with a proxy fight in the Ukraine.

Russia is building Billion dollar ski resorts, not tanks. Why pick on Russia? A: Nuland is picking on Russia precisely because Russia is building ski resorts not tanks.

Just as the USA has no business going to war with Russia over Russia’s gay rights decisions. Sensible rules like to not let gay marchers parade through Muslim neighborhoods. And, the USA equally has no business trying to install a puppet government in the Ukraine. This is the stuff that, handled badly, turns into WW3.

PS. FEMEN is a group of whores. They get paid and even have a pimp. Stop giving them credibility.

I R A Darth Aggie | February 19, 2014 at 11:04 am

Don’t like it, for god’s sake, demand separation.

Yes, but will you let them go? perhaps this individual would say yes, but the government? I’m thinking the answer is “no”.

So, it will be civil war? in which case, buring Kiev makes sense: you don’t set fire to your own homes.

I can’t help but to be reminded of this blast from the past:

This is not a joke. Within hours of a cease-fire having been declared in Georgia, Democrats raced to get on TV and claim that Senator Obama was the one person responsible for peace because he had asked for it (apparently similar calls from President Bush, Senator McCain, France, Germany, the EU and the UN were all sideshows-what mattered was what The One said).

THEN-when it came out that the Russians never really stopped their invasion, but merely paused to consolidate positions and logistics-Obama’s foreign policy advisor (Susan Rice) used her MSNBC propaganda outlet to claim that Senator McCain was responsible for fighting in Georgia.

Meanwhile, the DNC’s platform echoes the Bush Administration almost identically, and faux-anti-war groups are showing their true colors by blaming Georgia for the invasion of Georgia rather than the invader: Russia.

VIDEO: Obama brings peace to Caucuses using Jedi mind tricks to cause a cease-fire

Brilliant article.

Gentle reminder: North Americans live in a small slice of geography and history where people are not hacking each other to bits.

Don’t know how long that will last, but have no illusion that it will be forever.

    Browndog in reply to Andy. | February 19, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Libs would argue that from Christopher Columbus to Gen. Custer to Jim Crow it has been nothing but a blood bath.

    The same ones that now argue, and is the official position of this government, that having a job is slavery.

1)That survey firm is run by a Russian from Donetsk who is associated with Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. Take their results with a shaker of salt.
2)In general, Edge (may I call you Edge?), as an expat with primarily eastern Ukrainian sources, I am not at all sure your perspective is balanced.
3)Your website doesn’t have an e-mail address. So here’s a link to an interesting counterpoint. I assume you read Ukrainian well enough to understand it.

    My email is under “about” on my blog.
    I’m not sure which poll you have in mind, but there are several surveys and they all are within 5% of each other.
    I make no secret of my background and where my personal experiences my take me, so you can make your own conclusions. However, it seems to me that you are suggesting that cities like Kharkiv, Odessa and Dnepropetrovsk are not real Ukraine. Polls or no polls, they are Ukraine (at least to this day), and they are pro-Russian. And they are the most important part of Ukraine, geo-politically.
    That essay by Nakhmanovich is available in English, if anyone is interested:
    “Lithuania and Poland, Turkey and Russia, Austria, Hungary, Romania and Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union and the Third Reich – empires and republics, monarchies and tyrannies, they all had at least one thing in common – the people of this land had to remain silent and submissive. And as we are motivated by the natural sense of self-preservation, always tried to be on the side of the stronger ones, on the side of the authorities, and therefore not on the side of Ukrainians.”
    The general idea that for minorities to survive, we need to pull resources and work within the existent power structure. There is a lot of oversimplifications in this paragraph. Also, Jews did try to negotiate with Petlura, and what good did that do? It’s the pogroms that lead Jews to side with the Bolsheviks, for instance. And it’s strange to see the Third Reich on this list.
    Most importantly, I don’t believe the people of Ukraine are united behind the Maidan. So who do you want me to support there and what, as a Jew, do I stand to gain from taking sides in Ukrainian civil war?

      The poll I was referring to was the one linked in your post. I would love to see links to other polls. Your Kharkiv background and connections come into play when you sound like Soviet TV, referring to the Maidanivtsi in overwhelmingly negative tones, as if they were a tiny minority of Nazi provocateurs. The eastern Ukrainian press is so full of such stuff that opposition to the Maidan there is in one sense unsurprising: if this is all you read and hear, of course you’ll not support Nazis. But it’s not informed opinion.
      Nakhmanovych’s main point is that Jews have consistently sided with the oppressors of Ukrainians against Ukrainians, and this time should be different. Yanukovych is against the Ukrainian language, against Ukrainian history, and against the Ukrainian nation as such, just as his Soviet predecessors were. Those who support him are on the side of Russia and its version of history. And I would argue that no one in Ukraine is neutral (you can be, because you’re not there). If you don’t support the Maidan, you support Yanukovych.
      It is inaccurate to suggest that Jews supported Bolsheviks because of pogroms in 1918. Educated Jews were strong supporters of the Bolsheviks already, and 7/21 of the first Central Committee were Jews, including Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev. And Petlura may not have been able to prevent pogroms, but he certainly did not instigate them.

      Oops. Also, 23 years after Ukrainian independence, how many Jews there speak Ukrainian on a daily basis? How many have even learned it? Many Jews are active supporters of the elevation of the Russian language. Why?? And what effect does this have on Ukrainian-Jewish relations?

BannedbytheGuardian | February 19, 2014 at 5:13 pm

Every nation has riot police . They are perfectly accepted . Why the surprise when they are used?

Behind that there are many other forces that can be brought in if the situation escalates. For instance who was not taken back at the hardware & manpower that appeared in Boston for one person.? Who knew they had this stuff on hand?

In the USA the next level is to bring out the National Guard who are there for internal threats ( & handy coffin fillers for overseas wars ) .

Then there are the Homeland Security ‘workforce’ . No idea who / what they do or their charter.

Then there are the specialist military units trained both in war & internal attacks eg chemical weapons.

If nations did not think these events are always on the cards then why have all these state aggressive / protective capabilities.

What did Lincoln do faced with the simple ‘ let us just split’ ? He suspended large parts of the constitution & attacked . At times the ‘enemyy ‘ almost hit Washington.

Ukraine is doing nothing we would not do.

    Yep, that’s why we have riot police.
    If kids in Zuccotti were running around waiving Nazi flags and attacking policemen, I don’t think there would be a person on this board not screaming for their heads.
    Ukrainians themselves are saying that they are using violent tactics because it’s a revolution… in which case they should anticipate a violent response. There are victims on both sides, by the way.

I submit there is a fourth lesson, at least.

Per capita gun ownership in Ukraine …. per Wiki …


Compared to 89.0 in the USA, 31.2 in France, 30.8 in Canada; 30.3 in Germany, 21.7 Croatia, 11.9 in Italy ….

Seems Ukraine is a tad on the low side. Perhaps they should have read Solzhenitsyn more carefully. Or Judge Kozinski.

Battling stereotypes. Written in broken English, but from the heart.

Videos from a local in Kiev, watch carefully to see that cops and military units are NOT ARMED and told to just absorb attacks on them. They do have fire extinguishers to deal with Molotov cocktails thrown at them. So far, as of this morning, almost 70 of them were taken hostages by “peaceful protesters”, close to 30 were shot by LIVE AMMO.

Report I read this morning stated that cops and military will now be armed and ordered to act. As it was put: “No government in the world would allow their militia and military to sustain such losses and attacks and we have been more than tolerant to this point”.