Fascist Fest Convention in St Petersburg (Russia Fighting Neo-Nazis You Say?)

Conference attendee in some sort of uniform

Conference attendee in some sort of uniform

Sunday, 22 March, the International Russian Conservative Forum was held in St Petersburg (in a Holiday Inn, of all places), which brought together a motley group of mainly European far rightwing extremists, Holocaust deniers, white supremacists, and outright neo-Nazis from some 15 countries. Hosted by the Kremlin-linked Rodina Party which was founded by ultra-nationalist Dmitriy Rogozin, former Russian ambassador to NATO, virulent American and Europe hater, and not Russian Deputy Prime Minister in charge of armaments and Moldovan separatism, the event was little more than, as expected, US, Ukraine, and Europe bashing, with a lot of Putin lauding.

Italian Forza Nuova

Italian Forza Nuova

Participants included Jared Taylor, an American white supremacist, Nicholas Griffin, head of the British National Party and a prominent Holocaust denier, Roberto Fiore, head of the Italy’s New Force (Forza Nuova) party which is unabashedly fascist, Udo Voigt, former head of the right-wing extremist National Democratic Party of Germany known for his anti-Semitic and xenophobic views, Georgios Epitidios from Greece’s Golden Dawn party which is neo-fascist and neo-Nazi and whose party’s emblem is a stylized swastika, Stefan Jakobsen, the head of the Party of Swedes and who is widely considered a neo-Nazi, Daniel Karlsen, the head of the Party of Danes and one of the founding members of the National Socialist Movement of Denmark who loves to pose in front of Nazi flags, Gonsalo Martin Garcia, a leader of the ultra-right Spanish National Democracy Party, and Horatio Maria Guerre, president of the European Communist Party Millennium which seeks the dissolution of NATO (showing again that ultra left and right are pretty much the same). Of course it would not have been complete without some fringe wacko representative of a group advocating secession of Texas from the US. There were numerous Russian right extremists and ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ representatives. One Russian attendee Alexey Milchakov, who has fought in Ukraine, is a young neo-Nazi from St. Petersburg who heads a rebel storm unit of fellow skinheads who deny Christianity as a ‘Jewish religion’ and adhere to the pagan beliefs of the ancient Slavs. He gained notoriety in 2012 after publishing photos that show him decapitating a puppy.

Daniel Carlson of Denmark's National Socialist Party--one of the speakers

Daniel Carlson of Denmark’s National Socialist Party–one of the speakers

The resolution of the conference was a masterpiece of Soviet Orwellian Doublespeak that must have been drafted by some ancient USSR propagandist longing for his old job at the Soviet Foreign Ministry. The wording, with the exception of some ultra-nationalistic words about Christian values and references to Ukraine and US sanctions, would have been written in the 70s or 80s. Some nuggets (from their own imperfect official English translation, kept in its original form):

Spanish National Democratic Party

Spanish National Democracy Party

‘We demand the World Community to stop the “Cold War” concerning Russian Federation, the cancellation of all political and economic sanctions…’ (So apparently sanctions are biting if they want them taken away so badly.)

‘We declare that friendly and partner relationships with Russia is the most important condition of strong world and dynamic development of all the countries.’ (Russia, the cornerstone of peace and world development.)

Regarding NATO, ‘We will make all necessary efforts to eliminate the military-political pressure instrument to Europe and free European nations. We will achieve the fastest withdrawal of expeditionary cases of USA army from Europe, and eliminating prospecting potential USA on the territory of EU.’ (Could have been right out of a 1982 Soviet slogan book.)

There are numerous references in the document, of course, to the ‘peaceful policies of the Russian Federation (word for word from the past if you swapped Russia for Soviet Union).

‘We ask USA and its allies to stop the vicious practice of intervention in internal affairs of sovereign countries, to stop the export of “color revolutions” and to stop the creation puppet antinational regimes in independent countries.’ (Actually, as usual, they accuse the West of doing precisely what Russia is doing.)

‘The conflict in Ukraine is recognized us an internal affair of the country. But undoubtedly, this conflict concerns Russia more than the other countries: the biggest part of Ukraine consists of territories, that belonged earlier to Russia and were occupied by Russians. These territories were attached to Ukraine by forcible decision of totalitarian Bolshevist leaders. Nobody asked the opinion of people who lived there. Many years Russians were exposed to violent “Ukrainisation”.’ (This is almost word for word from some of Putin’s statements which cast doubt the existence of Ukraine and laying Russian claims to virtually all of it.)

Greek Golden Dawn

Greek Golden Dawn

Some of the main participants are listed here in the schedule (again, their English translation):

PLANAR MEETING – THE SCHEDULE CAN UNDERGO CHANGES

Speakers, Organization, Time

Lyubomirsky Yury, Organizator, 10:00-10:05

Alexander Sotnichenko, Host, 10:05-10:10

Igor Morozov, Federation Council, 10:10-10:20

Alexey Zhuravlyov, Party “Rodina”, 10:20-10:35

Roberto Fiore, Chairman of the APF, Italy, 10:35-10:50

Udo Voigt, Chairman of the NPD, Member of the European Parliament, Germany, 10:50-11:05

Mikhail Remizov, “Institute of National Strategy” (Russia), 11:05-11:20

General Eleftherios Synadinos, Member of the European Parliament, Greece, 11:20-11:35

General Georgios Epitideios, Member of the European Parliament, Greece, 11:35-11:50

Jim Dowson, LifeLeague – anti-abortion campaign, Northern-Ireland, 11:50-12:05

Nadezhda Shalimova, Expert (Russia), 12:05-12:20

Egor Kholmogorov, Expert (Russia), 12:20-12:30

LUNCH — 12:30-13:30

Stefan Jacobsson, Svenskarnars Parti (Chairman of the SvP), Sweden, 13:30-13:45

Daniel Carlsen, Danskernes Parti (Chairman of the DP), Denmark, 13:45-14-:00

Pavel Svyatenkov, Expert (Russia), 14:00-14:15

Сris Roman, Euro Russia (Belgium), 14:15-14:30

Alexander Ionov, Expert (Russia), 14:30-14:45

Gonzalo Martin Garcia, Democracia Nacional (responsible for foreign relations of the DN), Spain, 14:45-15:00

Luka Bertoni, League of Lombardy (Italy), 15:00-15:15

Irina Osipova, League of Lombardy (Italy), 15:15-15:30

Stanislav Vorobyyov, Russian Imperial Movement, 15:30-15:45

Yukka Davidson, National Party (Finland), 15:45-16:00

Olivier Wyssa, Lawyer and Member of the Rhone-Alpes Regional Parliament, France, 16:00-16:15

Sam Dickson, Expert (USA), 16:15-16:30

Jared Taylor, Expert (USA), 16:30-16:45

Alexander Sotnichenko, Expert (Russia), 16:45-17:00

Alexander Cofman, MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF DNR, 17:00-17:15

Nathan Smith, TEXNAT (USA), 17:15-17:30

Orazio Maria Gnerre, Millennium (Italy), 17:30-17:45

Nick Griffin British unity, former Member of the European Parliament, United Kingdom, 17:45-18:00

Vadim Zazimko, Expert (Russia), 18:00-18:15

Termination. Signing of the Resolution — 18:15-19:00

British National Party

National Democratic Party of Germany

Conference Website

Russian language article on the conference

In a way this is a continuation of Putin’s track record. He has been funding both extreme leftist and rightist parties in Europe, and the Kremlin hand-picked odd mixes of European Communists and ultra-nationalists/neo-Nazis to be the ‘impartial’ observers at his bogus referendums in Crimea and Donbas. He has also made use of the most neo-Nazi groups in Russia to do some of his dirty work in Ukraine and elsewhere (along with the Chechens, whose Islamic revolution he co-opted and turned via local dictator Kadyrov into a potent support and dirty deeds fighting force to do the bidding of the Russian Orthodox-fascist Kremlin). Interesting bedfellows.

But the conference was a fascistic success.

 

Crimea Annexation Celebrations, Tskhinvali Annexation Inked, Paid Attendance, and Russian Arrogance

Large Moscow crowd 18 March at Nemtsov murder bridge

Large Moscow crowd 18 March at Nemtsov murder bridge

Putin officially celebrated the first anniversary of his illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula today with a concert on the Kremlin wall attended by about 100,000. Given the cynicism of his comments and of the entire event, it was cynically fitting that it was held on the corner of the Kremlin right at the end of the bridge where his top foe Boris Nemtsov was murdered nearly three weeks ago.

 

Putin addresses crowd 18 Mar 15

Putin addresses crowd 18 Mar 15

Attendance was probably largely regular brainwashed Russian nationalists reveling in the annexation of part of another country against international law commitments and human decency. However there were websites meant to boost attendance in the event that not enough showed up, promising participants 350 Rubles (about EUR 5). Not a few obviously non-Russians were seen attending, including Central Asian migrants.

 

Central Asian 'RUssian nationalists' at Moscow rally 18 Mar supporting Putin and Crimea annexation

Central Asian ‘Russian nationalists’ at Moscow rally 18 Mar supporting Putin and Crimea annexation

Website advertising money for attendance at rally

Putin did his usual, in the wake of the over two and a half hour special a few days earlier called ‘Crimea—Path to the Motherland’, in which Putin was extensively interviewed and even said he was prepared to use all means including nuclear weapons if anyone tried to stop his planned takeover of Crimea. Today he again said that Ukrainians are Russians and should get used to it (basically denying the existence of a Ukraine or Ukrainian people—the ones he and most Russians despise so much and are busy murdering), saying ‘Friends, we in Russia always saw the Russians and Ukrainians as a single people. I still think this way now. Radical nationalism is always harmful and dangerous of course. I am sure that the Ukrainian people will yet come to an objective and worthy appraisal of those who brought their country to the state in which it is in today.’ Indeed, the Ukrainian people are objectively assessing how the country got in the rough destroyed state it is in now, but it is because of Russia’s invasions. Putin cynically continued, ‘For our part, we will do everything we can to help Ukraine get through this difficult period in its development as soon as possible and establish normal interstate ties.’ This means that Ukraine must reconcile itself to being a vassal buffer state with no will of its own—full stop.

"I am Crimea" and ... (true)

“I am Crimea” and … (true)

Putin was joined by his favourite entertainers and of course by the Head of Crimea, Sergey Aksenov (who found it better to be in Moscow than in his own fiefdom). This is the guy Moscow installed as Prime Minister after Russian Spetsnaz took over the Crimean Rada and forced deputies to vote for him at gunpoint—the same guy whose pro-anschluss Russian Unity Party got a whole 4% of the vote in Crimea’s 2010 election. Truly representative government. Notably, the celebrations were on the same day as the signing in the Kremlin of a treaty with Georgia’s breakaway Russian-occupied Tskhinvali region (South Ossetia) which gives Russia full control over the region’s defence and security and removes customs and border controls, being just a step away from outright annexation. The symbology of the signing on Crimea annexation day is not accident.

Thin older crowd at Sevastopol celebration rally and concert, 18 Mar 2015

Thin older crowd at Sevastopol celebration rally and concert, 18 Mar 2015

Memorial guards in Sevastopol 16 March with presents of bread (how Soviet)

Memorial guards in Sevastopol 16 March with presents of bread (how Soviet)

'Tell me who Crimea belongs to and I will tell you who you are'

‘Tell me who Crimea belongs to and I will tell you who you are’

As for the actual celebrations in Crimea, they were about on par with those Russian TV showed in other parts of Russia, where a few thousand turned out. The crowds at the celebrations and free concert in Sevastopol were thin and overwhelmingly made up of pensioners longing for the old days (not a few Soviet flags were in evidence), and the military parade through the city was barely attended. But this is much like the official Russian TV footage of the annexation celebration free concert in Simferopol Crimea a year ago, where despite their best attempts at creative camera angles, it was apparent only a few thousand showed up. This, two days after 97% allegedly voted to joining Russia in the world’s fastest referendum (duly observed by a Kremlin hand-picked collection of European Commies and neo-Nazi party members).

 

Sevastopol 16 Mar 2015

Sevastopol 16 Mar 2015

Mil parad in Sevastopol with animated Russian state reporter and nobody on sidelines watching

Mil parad in Sevastopol with animated Russian state reporter and nobody on sidelines watching

Thin crowd 18 Mar 15 at Simferopol Lenin statue

Thin crowd 18 Mar 15 at Simferopol Lenin statue

'Crimea is saved!'

‘Crimea is saved!’

Medal for return of Crimea with starting date of operation 20 Feb 2014--when Yanukovych was still in power and his forces were gunning down protesters on Maidan

Medal for return of Crimea with starting date of operation 20 Feb 2014–when Yanukovych was still in power and his forces were gunning down protesters on Maidan

 

RT Continues Clutching Straw of Su-25 Shootdown of MH-17

MH-17 crash on largely overcast day

MH-17 crash on largely overcast day

How utterly moronic. Russian disinformation network RT, which first made up the story in July about how Malaysian flight MH-17 was supposedly shot down by Ukrainian Su-25 FROGFOOT ground attack aircraft, continues putting out new versions featuring the increasingly versatile Su-25. The latest comes after the chief constructor who designed the plane, a certain Vladimir Babak (who RT naturally point out was born in Kyiv—supposedly to cheapen his information), noted that the Su-25 can only fly up to 5,000 metres with weapons loaded, so could not have shot down an airliner flying at double that altitude. He noted an Su-25 could have attacked it up to about 4,000 metres but no higher, and that even if an air-to-air IR-homing missile were used to somehow bring down the 777, it would have only caused damage but not destroyed a plane of that size. This perfectly matched the sales literature from Sukhoi, which built the plane and markets it, which shows it can reach 5K with stores (weapons) and 7K clean. And sales literature normally tries to embellish capabilities for prospective buyers, if anything. Now that the constructor also weighed in, it should be a non issue, right? Wrong. RT brought in its own ‘experts’ to show how the designer of the plane knows nothing about it.

RT story 12 March on amazing Su-25 capabilities

 

Su-25 tech specs--from the manufacturer's website

Su-25 tech specs–from the manufacturer’s website

RT quoted various former Russian air force pilots, including former former commander of an aviation division, Major General Sergey Borysyuk, who noted that the jet would have had the capability to ‘maneuver comfortably’ even at such a high altitude. LIE (ask the plane’s designer and manufacturer!) He said ‘I personally flew, and not once, at an altitude of 12,000 metre….My colleagues have risen to an altitude of 14,000 meters.’ The former commander of Russia’s Air Force, Vladimir Mikhailov, also said he flew the Su-25, reaching an altitude of 14,000 metres.

But it gets better. RT brought in regular contributor and Veterans Today senior editor Gordon Duff who idiotically said ‘The claimed service ceiling is based on the oxygen supply in the aircraft.’ WHAT? So Su-25 pilots, who wear oxygen masks, wear some that only are good to 5,000 metres? And this somehow, if remotely true, would restrict the flying capabilities of the aircraft? In his end analysis, he claimed the Su-25 can reach 52,000 feet (nearly 16,000 feet). So much for the designer. Surely the next claims will be that the Su-25 has successfully made suborbital space flights.

 

But it gets even better. He said one cannot be entirely sure the detected fighter jet was an Su-25 at all, as modern radar spoofing counter-measures – such as those designed by BAE Systems and employed by NATO – are able to mask any other aircraft, be it an Su-27 or F-15, as another plane. ECM pods that change the plane type on radar? This is pure nonsense (otherwise known as BS). His allegation of course is meant to leave dangling the possibility that not only might the ‘evil’ US have given some most modern (so modern that they don’t exist) ECM pods to the Ukrainians for part of their evil plan to shoot down an airliner and blame it on poor Russia, but that the US might have done it with one if its planes instead. This is pure garbage.

He says any launch of a missile with a huge contrail would have been filmed by ‘thousands’. Fact is, the 777 was brought down by a Russian Army-crewed SA-11 Buk from the 53rd ZRBr out of Kursk, which is well documented (by Russians posting video and stills) moving from there to the Ukrainian border area, and the identical vehicle seen in Torez on a HET just before the shootdown, and then scooting through there later that day on the HET minus one missile. As for the lack of photos or video of the launch or contrail, there have been a couple, but in any case, this was a war zone with the Russians there popping off AD missiles and countless MRL and arty barrages daily, so another stupid launch and contrail is not something most locals would be concerned with. Also, the damage to the aircraft was caused by the Buk warhead detonating to the right front of the aircraft (consistent with a launch from Torez), with the worst damage seen in the cockpit. The massive damage to the left cockpit panel was made by fragments of sizes ranging from a centimetre to about 20 cm–not uniform 30mm rounds as bogus RT and Kremlin propagandist Kiselev kept putting out. The blast to the right front blew all these ‘high-speed’ pieces easily through the cockpit and out the left side, which is why as per the black boxes, there was no indication of what hit the plane and nothing on the voice recorder, since the crew was blown away in a millisecond.

Duff said he also discussed the possibility of the MH-17 flight having been shot by a surface-to-air missile with some of his imaginary experts from the Federal Aviation Administration, the FBI, the Air Line Pilots Association, as well as air traffic and air operational officers – and they all agreed that no proof of anti-aircraft missile use has been provided to the public. Point is, Duff just invents stuff and has no ‘sources’, because he is not a top acknowledged intelligence expert like he claims to be.

Duff’s ridiculous Veterans Today conspiracy disinformation website

Robert Duff of Veterans Today--supreme bullshitter and RT 'expert'

Gordon Duff of Veterans Today–supreme bullshitter and RT ‘expert’

So who is thie Duff that is one of RT’s ‘expert’ consultants? Gordon Duff runs the sickly named website Veterans Today, which is nothing but a Russian disinformation front and an insult to American veterans. Duff’s bio has him as a former Marine from Vietnam, a former accredited diplomat (for Russia maybe, but no record of him having been one for the US), and one of the world’s foremost recognized intelligence analysts. (Given the fact that he apparently has never been one, unlike many of us, this is just another lie of his.) He also consults with governments facing security risks and appears regularly in international media (meaning most likely Russia’s RT and Iran’s PressTV, which he regularly contributes to). But then again, he is a major conspiracy theorist and a major anti-Semite. His top claims are that US government mini nukes are what destroyed the WTC on 9/11 (though in other articles he claims the ‘Truthers’ assertion that some fantastical version of thermite melted the towers), and these nukes were even were part of the London terror attacks in 2005 (since apparently it is impossible to destroy a metro carriage or a bus with conventional explosives. He also has written that the Paris Charlie Hebdo slaughter was a ‘false flag’ (of course—everything is) and that that Sandy Hook school murders and Boston Marathon bombing were government staged events and nobody was even hurt, much less killed in them. This guy is a pure sicko, knows NOTHING about aircraft or weaponry or Russia (except maybe that he gets a paycheck from someone there perhaps), and is, of course, a top ‘expert’ for RT.

Duff and RT have reached rock bottom and continue digging.

 

Pozner Live—NATO Enemy at the Gates, and Ukraina Nash!

Vladimir Pozner

Vladimir Pozner

Feel like our minds were just assaulted for 80 minutes. Went to Cambridge University on the 9th of March to hear Vladimir Pozner speak. The lecture hall was packed with probably over 300, largely students, and mostly sympathetic Russian ones, whose ultranationalistic way of thinking came through quite clearly.

His slick talk boiled down to: Russia is encircled and threatened and Ukraine is ours.

For those who don’t know of him, he is 80 years old, and has been a major Soviet and Russian TV and journalism personality for many decades. He has long lived in the US, whee he first moved with his parents until his father was deported due to being a Soviet NKVD (predecessor of the KGB) agent. After stints in East Berlin, young Pozner went to work in the USSR as a journalist in a department of disinformation under the KGB (though he claims he didn’t know it was KGB) and spent a long time as a broadcaster for Radio Moscow World Service. He was one of those working in the 80s to get the US and USSR to understand each other, co-hosting the Spacebridge programmes with Phil Donahue (another KGB-inspired effort). More recently he has done travel shows about the US and France and has his own Larry King-style show now on Russian First Channel. But on to his presentation.

He began by trying to establish his neutral credentials, though rapidly this went out the window. First he said he would not be like RT, which is nothing but government propaganda according to him. Then he said that although he holds three citizenships—US, French, and Russian—he does not take any particular side. This would soon be shown to be a lie.

He used an alleged quote by Harry Truman to show how the West despises Russia, with the quote saying how Truman would support Russia or Nazi Germany to keep the other from becoming too strong, and so they would all kill each other. This quote is indeed easy to find on the internet, but not from any primary source, and cannot be found on the site of the Truman Presidential Library, so is most likely an internet proliferation. In any case, it was allegedly said when the US was already supplying the Soviet Union under Lend-Lease and is at odds with what Truman said later in the war when he lauded Generalissimo Stalin and the Soviet effort. But it fits in with the old Soviet line that the US and UK just wanted the Nazis and Soviets to kill each other off.

He said there is no desire in the West to understand Russia. Pozner pointed to a Time magazine cover from August 2014 which was all in red, with a small Putin in the right bottom corner, casting a large shadow of an airliner—obviously MH-17. Pozner pointed to this as a lack of wanting to understand Russia and just the US sensationalizing everything to do with Putin or Russia. During the evening this was his only oblique reference to MH-17, which was shot down by a Russian SA-11 Buk crew from the 53rd Air Defence Missile Brigade of the Russian military. It was obvious from the outset that this plane was shot down by the Russians, given the immediate claims by Russian fighters in eastern Ukraine on social media (before they realized it was an airliner instead of a Ukrainian transport plane) and the videos of an SA-11 coming to the area of the shooting and departing minus one missile later that same day. But to Pozner this was ‘bad journalism’ and a sign that the US was just looking for enemies in the Russians. Truth hurts apparently.

time-putin

The Western criticism of Russia’s anti-gay legislation is unfair, because nobody is arrested or killed in Russia for homosexual propaganda, unlike countries like India where it is illegal and you can go to jail, but nobody criticizes India. The difference, which he fails to point out, is that in places like India, as bad as it is, it is a standalone issue, whereas in Russia it is a part of an integrated government control effort. He noted that the problem, apparently, is that Russian look like Westerners, so the West expects them to act the part. This is not really true though, since the West (which is generally understood to include countries like Japan and South Korea) also expects any other country to act according to commonly-accepted 21st century rules of behaviour, albeit with regional peculiarities. Also, for someone who lived so long in the US, he must have missed the fact that Americans (a land of immigrants from everywhere) don’t all look like Russians, including the current American President.

He went into a short selective history of the USSR to show how rough times were then, noting that people sacrificed in the hopes that future generations would live better. Also made a few Soviet jokes at their expense to establish his credentials.

He upfront made it clear that the US did not like the USSR or Russia, noting how US school kids practiced ducking under their desks in the event of a Soviet nuclear attack, and how the US treated them as the enemy. Of course unstated was that the Soviets did precisely the same thing at that time and even had dedicated political training.

Pozner mentioned that today the way of thinking about Russia in the UK is much like in earlier times when a certain Fletcher had written about the often bad peculiarities of Russia. He went on to say that it seemed that they today believed it to be much the same as what Fletcher wrote, as an example of how the West do not care to understand Russia. The person he was referring to was Giles Fletcher, who was the British envoy to the Russian court in 1588, and who returned having written a critical book about the Tsar, the aristocracy there, and the average Russian. In actuality many of his observations were spot on, and are still absolutely relevant today.

Importantly, he said that in 1962 the USSR and Cuba made an agreement that was fully legal under international law to install Soviet missiles in Cuba, but the US used illegal means to prevent their emplacement. He said to remember this point, since it would be important later in the talk (about Ukraine). (Actually it can be argued that Cuba was nothing more than a Soviet satellite, so not really a sovereign country in any agreement.)

His first major lie was the typical Russian one used again and again. He noted that when Gorbachev agreed to reunification of Germany after the Berlin Wall fell, that the US agreed that there would be no eastward expansion of NATO. He said that after 1991 the West rationalized the expansion (which didn’t start till 1997) by saying the agreement was with the USSR, which no longer existed. This is patently false. Numerous participants of the talks note that the only agreement was that NATO would not post any non-NATO troops in the former East Germany. I was privy to some of the negotiation information at the time and that is indeed true. In fact, given that the Warsaw Pact still existed then as well as the USSR, nobody could have envisioned a case where NATO would advance to the east, which was all still under Soviet control. Gorbachev himself said in an October 2014 Russian interview, when asked about this alleged agreement, that ‘The topic of “NATO expansion” was not discussed at all, and it wasn’t brought up in those years. I say this with full responsibility. Not a singe Eastern European country raised the issue, not even after the Warsaw Pact ceased to exist in 1991. Western leaders didn’t bring it up, either. Another issue we brought up was discussed: making sure that NATO’s military structures would not advance and that additional armed forces from the alliance would not be deployed on the territory of the then-GDR after German reunification. Baker’s statement, mentioned in your question, was made in that context.’ So the only agreement was to not station non-German troops in the former GDR. Nothing about not expanding NATO, which in any case was done at the behest of the countries that had been under the Soviets for decades, and did not want to be in that position again. The US and NATO for years tried to hold them at arms’ length and offer things like the Partnership for Peace Programme instead, though they clammored for the real deal. But in any case, this disingenuous Russian disinformation invention is still getting mileage today.

He notes Russia is fearful of NATO expansion. As for installing missiles in eastern Europe, who is NATO trying to protect from—North Korea, or Iran, or Kosovo? (Actually the interceptors in question are anti-missile missiles—not offensive—and have only a range of a few hundred miles so cannot remotely come close to Russian ICBMs launched on a polar trajectory.)

He noted that Russia will not allow NATO into Ukraine (or Ukraine to be in NATO), even if Ukraine wants that. Therefore, Pozner was openly saying that Russia does not care what a sovereign country wants. It is not allowed to decide what it wants. (But in any case, there has been no serious talk of Ukraine being in NATO—at least not in the next decades.)

He said Russia had mentioned in the 1990s that there should be a new security organization to replace NATO but that the US refused the offer. I never heard of this, though in the 90s NATO did mention a few times maybe that Russia should think about joining NATO, but Moscow always refused. In this context, he said it was odd that NATO rejected Russian membership, and then in a sarcastic voice said that NATO did accept countries like Poland, Romania, and a host of other eastern European countries he named, which got hearty laughter from the mainly nationalistic young Russian audience, showing their true colours of thinking that these former eastern European satellite states are some kind of pathetic trash. Untermenschen. Very telling, and disturbing, giving that they are supposed to be getting an education at one of the top universities in the world known for free thought (vice blind nationalism and belittling ‘inferior’ nations).

He continued that Russia believes it is a great power with a mission, but was treated as a third-rate country after the fall of the USSR, while the US went about doing things unilaterally, such as bombing Serbia and carving out Kosovo, which he contends is no different thant Crimea or Abkhazia. These are blatant lies, as in the 90s the US and West were looking for a partner in Russia, and more recently with Obama’s ‘reset’, which Moscow took to be a sign of weakness so worthy of despising). The actions in the former Yugoslavia were taken with UNSC resolutions which largely (but not totally) covered the actions, which were not vetoed by Russia, which easily could have. They are also totally different than the cases of Crimea and Abkhazia, as the Serbs, backed by Russia, had an establiehed track record of being the worst in an area of bad actors, who had committed mass murders in Croatia and Bosnia, and were moving on to Kosovo. Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Crimea were not under threat from anyone, and Russia’s actions there were fully unilateral, and rammed through at world-record speed.

He continued from the fall of the USSR and the dismal 1990s to the rise of Putin, who created the power vertical, got the oligarchs under control (except for Khodorkovsky, who he claimed refused to get out of politics—not quite, since his ‘crime’ was actually calling out some shady Rosneft takeover deals he did not realise Putin was involved in), and rebuilt the country. This led to Putin’s (in)famous Munich conference speech in 2007 when he proclaimed Russia’s greatness and set up the break from the West.

On this point, Pozner noted that Russians do not need things like democracy, liberal thought, or concepts like freedom of speech and even foreign travel—all they need is the greatness and stability and protection Putin provides. His inference is that Russians are not as shallow as Westerners who need these comforts and vague concepts. He claimed that there was no grassroots anti-US/anti-Western feeling in the Soviet Union, but there is a lot of it now in Russia (and of course it is the West’s fault).

Moving to current times, he wondered what the use of sanctions was, since they do not hurt Putin and the top people—only regular Russians, who see them as unjust (though he later contradicted himself saying sanctions are not effective). He claimed they only make Putin stronger and increase his support. He said sanctions are an ‘ill-advised policy that will lead to the opposite’ (like what? Russia invading Ukraine or hating the US? It already has and does).

On the subject of Ukraine, he claimed Ukraine is part of Russia and has been since the 1600s (off and on parts were, but this was territorial land-grabbing, and Ukraine was part of Poland for centuries previously and parts were historically under Greek control longer than any other), and that the Ukrainian language is nearly the same as Russian (which it is not, since Ukrainian has as much in common with Polish as it does with Russian, and most Russians have a hard time deciphering a lot of Ukrainian text).

He then used a bizarre example to show what Russia is feeling. Imagine, he said, if there was a revolution in Mexico, and afterwards it was feeling worried about the US, so let troops from a foreign country take up positions on the Mexican-US border. This ridiculous example has nothing to do with reality. The Maidan revolution got rid of a murderous kleptocrat and his government, who happened to be in Russia’s pocket. There was no talk of Ukraine joining NATO, or foreign troops being permanently based in Ukraine. In fact, the Yanukovych opposition had long contended that his 2010 agreement with Russia on extending the Black Sea Fleet’s basing in Crimea for decades was a violation of the Ukrainian Constitution, which forbids permanent basing of foreign troops in Ukraine.

He claimed we all get our ideas from TV and media, which is largely true, especially in a place like Russia where there is no real non-state version of ‘reality’ in the media.

During his actual talk, he did not touch at all on the Russian annexation of Crimea, invasion of Ukraine, or even the fact that this was the basis of the current sanctions. He just left most things in a vacuum, with no context, which is the regular Russian disinformation method. When question time came, he just got some benign queries from mostly Russian students wanting to know things like whether it was worth going back to Russia after graduation (to which he said of course it should be considered, since no matter how well you speak English you will not be accepted as British).

During one question on patriotism, he compared the Russian variant (which he admitted was based on negatives, such as everyone is ganging up on poor Russia) with that in the US. He mentioned how over the years he noticed that at all professional sports events in the US, they are preceded by the singing of the national anthem with everyone standing and ‘putting their hand over where their heart is supposed to be.’ This again drew big nationalistic laughter from the room (the heartless Americans apparently). This was so cheap and Soviet in a way, but normal for Putin’s Russia. But it was right in a way, since the US version of patriotism is shallow, because we just don’t do the aggressive nationalism thing the way the Russians do.

On the Nemtsov murder, he called it a tragedy (as does everyone), but the question is ‘why’. He said that Putin had nothing to gain since Nemtsov had a tiny following like the rest of the opposition, so it would make no sense. He said Putin is calculating, so why would he decide to kill him. But he suggested a nebulous ‘party of war’ might want to, whoever that might be. This was straight from the Kremlin playbook and could have been said word for word by Putin’s spokesman Peskov. It also ignores the fact that Putin is vindictive and seemingly does things merely to get back at his enemies, big and small. After all, he had people like Litvinenko and Politkovskaya (and many others—mainly journalists) murdered, even though they were just minor irritants, and invaded Ukraine leading to the devastation of the Russian economy. So yes, the question is ‘why’, but there is no good answer when dealing with a fascist sociopath like Putin.

One question was on whether Russia should fear NATO or economic collapse more. Naturally, per Pozner, Russians will put up with any economic woes, the US is responsible for inflation in Russia, people don’t care about imported goods (since most he said are not privileged and hence do not buy all these imported things), and ‘Russia says go to Hell’. It will never give Ukraine or Crimea back, so he said, and NATO is the worse threat. He noted that NATO is already on the borders with Russia in Estonia and Lithuania, ignoring the fact that for the entire Cold War the US, in the form of Alaska, Norway, and Turkey were on the USSR’s borders, and also apparently forgetting that Poland—another of his despised former satellite shit countries—also borders Kaliningrad.

He claimed things are better in Russia now under Putin and that citizens do not care about criticizing the government. They don’t care about such rights or freedom of speech.

In sum, for a guy who said he would not represent any viewpoint in particular, he represented Putin’s entirely, though far smoother than someone like chief Kremlin TV propagandist Kiselev who is a blatant liar and does not pretend to build any credentials to show how ‘neutral’ he is. Though Pozner noted at the start that he had three citizenships (US, French, and Russian), he represented only one and constantly referred to ‘we’ and ‘us’, as in threats to ‘us’. It was clear where he stood and for whom.

His talk in a few sentences: Russia is being encircled, NATO is on its borders with its missiles and whatnot, and Russians will sacrifice what they have to in order to keep this enemy at bay. This mentality is so 19th century, but so Russian. It has to have an enemy on its doorstep, because for some odd reason it seems that everyone wants Russia. Oh, and Ukraine is Russia and must do what Russia tells it to do.

 

‘That was a fine tank, a great tank. It’s burnt now.’ — Recollections of a Russian Soldier from the 5th Tank Brigade Fighting in Ukraine

Batomkunuev in hospital and talk about him on the 5th Tank Brigade's VKontakte page

Batomkunuev in hospital and talk about him on the 5th Tank Brigade’s VKontakte page

Novaya Gazeta, one of the last independent news outlets in Russia, posted an article of a long interview in a Donetsk hospital with 20-year-old Russian ARMY soldier Dorzhi Batomkunuev, who was severely burnt on 19 February while fighting near Debaltseve Ukraine. He was from the 5th Independent Tank Brigade (V/Ch 46108) from Ulan-Ude in the Far East, and like most in his unit, a local Buddhist Buryat.

This will be news to the trolls, clueless, and delusional who do not believe Russian military forces have been fighting a war in Ukraine, but not to those who have seen any of the mountains of evidence available to date.

Originally a conscript, he signed a three-year contract in 2014 and ended up in the 2nd Tank Battalion, which added extra contract troops and was notified in late 2014 that it was going for the now infamous maneuvers near Rostov, though he claims all knew it meant going to Ukraine. The full story is in the linked articles (the original in Russian and the second a generally good English translation). The interview also sheds some light on the mindset of the Russian troops fighting there and how totally brainwashed they are from Russian state media.

In addition to his very technically accurate descriptions of his unit moving into Ukraine, the specifics of his T-72B tank (a missile-firing variant the Ukrainian military has never possessed), and the conduct of the tank battles, there are some interesting points he made:

His unit in Ukraine was a standard 31-tank battalion, but made into a battalion task force with the addition of infantry and a larger logistics tail.

He also mentions how they trained for a full three months near Rostov, along with a number of other regular Russian military units.

The unit political officer (a throwback to Soviet times, which after a short disappearance in the 90s, has made a comeback) helped prepare them for their mission psychologically, though does not seem to have had to resort to hardcore political indoctrination–the troops seem to have already been brainwashed.

He mentions how back in Ulan-Ude they regularly watched TV and saw how horrible the Ukrainians were–according to the official Russian state version. They seem to have unquestioningly eaten it all up.

While in eastern Ukraine, one of the battalion brass told them to be careful since 70% of the people there did not support Russia. This figure is perhaps a bit low, but is close to the percentage of people in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions who are ethnically Ukrainian (though polling a year ago also showed most ethnic Russians there did not support separatism or joining Russia). Yet amazingly, he ignores those numbers and tells the interviewer that they have to beat the Ukrainians (using various pejorative terms for them in his conversation), because the locals had voted to be independent. An unbelievable case of brainwashing having worked.

As part of his brainwashing, he claims there were foreigners fighting there. Chechens (yes there are some fighting for the Ukrainians but more Kadyrovites fighting for the Russian side), and Poles, though when question he said he did not see any. On the subject of Ukrainian troops, he seems to have filled in some blanks from his state brainwashing, by saying he had heard some Ukrainian prisoners saying they had indeed killed civilians, and that they had to go to the army or else the Ukrainian government would kill their parents and family (major lies). This is most likely more of the Kremlin line (it is word for word) coming through.

On the other hand, when recounting various battles, it was always the Ukrainians targeting Russian military forces–either by mortars or other tanks–not civilians, though he does mention how they sometimes fired on cars.

A lot of Russian tanks were destroyed there, including the commander’s.

The local separatist militia appears to have been (as we have long said on these pages) in a minor supporting role, and his assessment was that they were a bunch of guys with guns who fired recklessly and then left, as though it were a job.

After his severe burning and movement to the hospital in Donetsk, the ward was visited by Russian singer Josef Kobzon (a Putin favourite and all-round Mafia boss), who spoke with him for some time, and was later broadcast on Russian TV (video link in the English-language interview article).

His greatest brainwashing nuggets were at the end, when he, apparently a bit confused, said “If Ukraine joins the EU, the UN, then the UN may deploy their rockets here, their weapons, they could do it. And then this will be pointed at us. They will be a lot closer to us, not beyond the oceans. Right at out land border….But if they take Donbas and deploy the rockets, then they can reach Russia if it comes to that.” Horrible United Nations and its missiles.

Original Russian Novaya Gazeta Article

English Translation of Novaya Gazeta Article

 

Another Russian Fake

Green Group sigs same

The list of Russian disinformation fakes is getting ridiculously longer, but this is a good one. The online group calling itself Cyberberkut (named after Yanukovych’s murderous special police) which claims to excel at cyber attacks and liberating e-mails like some kind of WikiLeaks to show US/Ukrainian/NATO wrongdoing published some supposed documents a few days ago showing that the US was using a private security company to send weapons and fighters to Ukraine. Actually it would be great if the US was actually doing that and finally countering Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but this is sadly not the case. As usual, some simple mistakes show the fakery of it all.

Disinformation–Cyberberkut page on alleged US Defence contractor in Ukraine

The intercepted documents have to do with an alleged visit to Kyiv by private defence contractor Green Group LLC, though it is unclear why the group would poorly scan and fax printed and signed proposals in any case (instead of sending just a regular e-mail, or having the delegation, whose names are on another un-scanned document, just hand carry them).

All of the documents are form Green Group but are in Ukrainian. We are not fluent enough in Ukrainian to determine whether they are all correctly written, but the fact is, US companies and the US government do not put such lengthy documents into the language of the recipient. Americans are lazy with languages, and all of these countries like Ukraine have adequate numbers of fairly fluent English speakers who can deal with English. Much more, the company is headquartered in Oklahoma, where some might say English is not even a strong suit, much less Ukrainian.

The list of Green Group reps who allegedly visited Kyiv have their names rendered in Ukrainian as well as English. One, a certain Juan Duran, has his name in Ukrainian written as ‘zhu-an’, which of course could be a mistake a foreigner seeing the ‘J’ might make, if they did not know the Spanish pronunciation is not like a ‘J’.

On the side of each document there are the US and European addresses, with the European one stating ‘The city of Tbilisi, Georgia’. Having spent lot of time in Georgia, we never recall anyone writing ‘The city of Tbilisi’. It is just Tbilisi. Sometimes one might want to specify that they are referring to the country of Georgia, vice the US state of the same name, but Tbilisi never gets confused with anything else.

But the most glaring errors are on the signature blocks for the CEO of Green Group, Greg Holmes. Amazingly for a company that allegedly put so much into crafting these personal proposal letters to the Chief of the Ukrainian General Staff, all translated improbably into Ukrainian, the signature blocks, signature of the CEO, and the Green Group overstamp are all perfectly identical. Absolutely identical. Not any slight deviation in the signature, which intersects the letters of the signature block in identical spots, and the overstamp is in precisely the same spot on each of the three letters.

Another disinformation fake. But on the bright side, at least Russian disinformation has moved on from its bogus infatuation with the no longer extant Blackwater which they earlier claimed were everywhere in eastern Ukraine.

 

Excellent ‘Ukraine@war’ Video Analysis of Kremlin’s Nemtsov Murder

CCTV cameras on lamp post behind Nemtsov murder scene

CCTV cameras on lamp post behind Nemtsov murder scene

Ukraine@war excellent analysis of Nemtsov murder

This repost of Ukraine@war with analysis of the Nemtsov murder video closely follows what we have been saying here, but takes the analysis to an excellent higher level. The street cleaning truck/garbage truck was most definitely part of the plan. Also note that it took a full 13 minutes for the first police to arrive–right in front of the Kremlin!

CCTV cameras on lamp post in front of Nemtsov murder scene

CCTV cameras on lamp post in front of Nemtsov murder scene

Today Interior Ministry officials said all the CCTV cameras on the bridge and in the area were either under maintenance or turned off Friday night. Even the ones on the lamp posts right behind and in front of the kill spot. How convenient  for Putin, who had the sole motive and was definitely behind it (though his spokesman Peskov right away said it was 100% a provocation, either by Islamists, Ukrainians, opposition, or presumably space aliens).

 

Big Turnout in Moscow for Nemtsov March While Kremlin Unabashedly Blames US State Department for Murder

Moscow 1 Mar 8

Surprisingly, Russians found some voice today with a large turnout for the long-planned anti-regime Spring march, which after the murder of opposition leader Nemtsov just before midnight 27-28 February was changed to a memorial march to the spot where he was murdered on Moskvoretskiy Bridge (initially reported as the Bolshoy Kamenniy Bridge 250 metres away on the other side of the Kremlin). Police reported 21,000, though other sources and photographic evidence would suggest something more like 70,000, which is not bad for Russian opposition events.

Moscow 1 Mar bridgejpg

There were some problems with people having banners confiscated at the metal detectors operated by police at the starting point of the march–banners with negative things to say about Putin, but that is unfortunately normal in a Fascist state. Additionally, Ukrainian Rada deputy (who is also a deputy in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe) Aleksey Goncharenko was arrested and is being held in a Moscow jail on unspecified charges. He was not carrying any banners or flags, but was wearing a shirt with Nemtsov’s picture and the worlds ‘Heroes don’t die’ written in Ukrainian.

Moscow 1 Mar 9

Quadcopter view of the embankment portion of the march

Banners were mostly related to Nemtsov’s murder, though some groups marched with banners calling for the release of Nadya Savchenko form Russian jail. She is the Ukrainian pilot who was fighting with a volunteer battalion near Luhansk and was captures, interrogated on Komsomolskaya Pravda TV in Ukraine, and then taken across the border to Russia to be put on trial for allegedly directing mortar fire on a Russian fighter’s blockpost which killed a Russian journalist who happened to be there. They have since acknowledged that her phone record indicate she was captured before that incident (which in any case was not illegal since it was artillery on a military target), and she was nowhere near that spot, but are still charging her with illegally crossing the border (which she was taken across while kidnapped). Other posters said ‘we are not afraid’ or had the name Boris with an added soft sign, which transforms it in Russian into ‘fight’.

 

Boris turned into word 'fight'

Boris turned into word ‘fight’

Other marches drawing thousands were held in St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg among others. There, protesters carried more Ukrainian flags than were seen in Moscow (which were nearly all Russian flags), and in Yekaterinburg there was one interesting sign playing on Putin’s popularity figures, stating ‘Putin 86%, Hitler 87%, Qadhafi 99%’.

 

Free Savchenko portion of march

Free Savchenko portion of march

Nadya (Savchenko) Jean d'Arc

Nadya (Savchenko) Jean d’Arc

It remains to be seen whether this march transforms into any kind of a sustained movement. Historically that has not happened, but this could be different.

Moscow 1 Mar 2

As for the murder, naturally Russian officials and moronic RT put out the versions that it could have been Islamic terrorists, Ukrainian extremists, a mafia contract killing, the CIA, Gosdep (US State Department), or anything but the Kremlin. Putin’s spokesman Peskov said it was ’100% a provocation.’ So they already have made their conclusions and deflected attention from the only person with a motive and who has a proven track record of having his opponents murdered. The sole poor quality video of the murder from a CCTV camera across the river shows Nemtsov and the visiting Ukrainian woman (still in police custody as an apparent witness–in Russia apparently witnesses are kept in jail) walking up the bridge from Red Square , as a street cleaning machine moves slowly behind them (some say snow plow, but it has no plow and moves at a snail’s pace with flashing lights), the murderer apparently came from the street cleaner, as nobody can be seen coming from the nearby stairs behind them, then the shooter runs to a following stopped car and it speeds off. The street cleaning truck appears to have been what the killer came out of, as it also conveniently blocked the CCTV view of the killing, but it is obviously not a quick vehicle to be used for a getaway, hence the following car.

 

Scene of murder on the bridge

Scene of murder on the bridge

CCTV camera view of murder

Nemtsov cctv still

Amazingly, given that there are always OMON present on this bridge and just below the stairs, nobody saw the murder, and it took police 10 minutes to get there. Contrast with August 2014 on the nearby Kremlin Kamenniy Bridge when some activists tried to unfurl a large Ukrainian flag over the side. Video showed the police being on them in 15 seconds and arresting them and pulling up the flag. In a most high security location, nobody saw anything and police were nowhere in sight?

 

Ukrainian MP Goncharenko in Moscow jail

Ukrainian MP Goncharenko in Moscow jail

Aug 2014 Ukrainian flag unfurling and rapid police response near Kremlin

The FSB has searched Nemtsov’s apartment and taken all papers and computers to look for ‘evidence’ related to the murder, though obviously the reason is to find and destroy the report he was preparing to release (much like the many corruption exposes he published such as those related to Putin’s enrichment from the Sochi Olympics),on Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine. This is something the Kremlin certainly would not want to see published, as Nemtsov in the past had meticulously documented his allegations against the Kremlin.

 

Bullets for all of us

Bullets for all of us

Then, Putin, being the cynical scum he is, threw salt in the wound by calling Nemtsov’s mother and offering his condolences. Like Hitler calling Von Stauffenberg’s widow.

Google Streetview showing OMON at normal station one lamppost from murder scene (above embankment street). Must have been off duty Friday night.

Google Streetview showing OMON at normal station one lamppost from murder scene (above embankment street). Must have been off duty Friday night.

Putin Blatantly Celebrates Murder and Annexation of other Countries

 

Yesterday, 27 February, Putin declared by presidential decree as ‘Day of Special Operations Forces’, making it a new professional holiday in Russia. The occasion, as he stated, was the first anniversary of Russian Spetsnaz taking over the Crimean parliament in Simferopol. The same action he denied for months and said was just the will of the Crimean people that was implemented by local separatists. He lied then and lies now about his invasion of eastern Ukraine (which his Spetsnaz serf Girkin has even admitted was planned and carried out by Spetsnaz).

Russian Spetsnaz taking over Crimean Rada on 27 Feb 2014, seen from security cameras

Russian Spetsnaz taking over Crimean Rada on 27 Feb 2014, seen from security cameras

Rossiyskaya Gazeta article on Putin decree of Special Operations Day

Of course, his professional holiday would not have been complete without other special operations forces murdering a top opponent, Boris Nemtsov, in the shadow of the Kremlin. His goal was to not only cow the marginal Russian opposition and dampen their upcoming demonstration on 1 March (which is already scaled back to a memorial march to the murder scene, which Moscow City instantly authorized, probably to rub in the fact that opponents–even those who used to be Russian Deputy Prime Ministers–can and will be murdered, so nobody is exempt), but to clearly demonstrate that he is the unquestionable power supported by the power apparatus.

Nemtsov murder scene on bridge by Red Square, 27 Feb 2014. Special operation.

Nemtsov murder scene on bridge by Red Square, 27 Feb 2014. Special operation.

Interestingly, 27 February was also the 82nd anniversary of the Reichstag fire in Berlin, which was probably done by the Nazis to pin the blame on the Communists, allowing the new Nazi government to cement its absolute authority, much as Putin came into power by murdering nearly 300 Russians by having the FSB bomb apartment buildings throughout Russia to blame the Chechens, cementing his authority and war credentials.

The decree announcement in the official government paper Rossiyskaya Gazeta noted that the ‘polite people’ now have their professional holiday (the name given to the ‘polite green men’ in Crimea–Russian forces that Putin initially denied were taking over the region. They ended with С праздником, самые вежливые люди России! (Congratulations on your holiday, to the most polite people of Russia!). Polite fascist invaders, occupiers, and lowlife murdering thugs.

Security camera video of Russian Spetsnaz taking Crimean Rada at 4 AM, 27 Feb 2014–Denied then, and now a Russian holiday

Putin Murders Critic Nemtsov Near the Kremlin

Nemtsov murder location on bridge near Kremlin and Red Square

Nemtsov murder location on bridge near Kremlin and Red Square

Putin murders another critic. Boris Nemtsov, a former Deputy Prime Minister under Yeltsin and outspoken critic of the Putin regime, was gunned down at 2340 tonight Moscow time on the Bolshoy Kamenniy Bridge (right next to the Kremlin), when a white car stopped, shooters got out, and opened fire hitting him four times. Of course the government says it has started an investigation. Should be easy since they obviously did it, once again.

Nemtsov had recently said he expected the regime would try to kill him.

It did.

Boris Nemtsov murdered by Putin

Boris Nemtsov murdered by Putin

AntiMaidan in Moscow—Idiots on Parade

We are not MaiDownies

We are not MaiDownies

 

Putinism forever

Putinism forever

On Saturday, a day after Kyiv remembered the Heavenly Hundred murdered by the Yanukovych regime a year earlier, Russian authorities organized a mass rally in Moscow from the new ‘Antimaidan’ movement. As usual, it is not a grassroots spontaneous movement like Maidan was, but is organized from the top and at least partially paid. The main organizer is Putin’s FSB biker biddy Aleksandr Zaldostanov (‘Surgeon’), who marched at the front with Ukrainian turncoat and ‘Novorossiya’ advocate Oleg Tsarev. The march, estimated by police at 40,000, though probably about half that according to most estimates, was the usual odd mix of Soviet pensioners, ultranationalists, government employees who had to attend, and paid participants (queues of people getting 300 Rubles—about $5—were filmed), and scores of buses brought people in from outside the capital to increase numbers.

 

Surgeon and Tsarev

Surgeon and Tsarev

Main stage

Main stage

From the main stage, speeches with lines like ‘Maidan is a festival of death;, ‘Maidan is the smile of the American ambassador who, sitting in his penthouse, is happy to see how brother is killing brother’, ‘Maidan is the concentration of everything anti-Russian’, ‘Maidan is the embryo of Goebbels’ were met with a general lack of enthusiasm.

 

Save Russian kids from American slavery!

Save Russian kids from American slavery!

 

Bogus ICRC women

Bogus ICRC women

A number of women were marching wearing International Committee of the Red Cross shirts and carrying a form of Red Cross flags, though this was obviously not an ICRC-authorised event, as they do not participate in political marches—particularly those supporting invasion of other countries.

Mosco antimaidan us flag

Mosco antimaidan spontaneous

More notable were the ridiculous banners being carried. Of course, many were mass produced, as were the flags and jackets worn by some groups with patriotic emblems and the omnipresent St George’s ribbon—an old WW-II victory symbol now tainted by association with an imperialist invasion of another country. Groups of Chechens wearing jackets and flags bearing the face of Akhmad Kadyrov, father of current Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov, marched with signs saying ‘Putin and Kadyrov will not allow Maidan’.

 

Putin loves everyone

Putin loves everyone

Putin is better than Hitler

Putin is better than Hitler

Other notable and stupid banners:

‘We are not MaiDown’ (a typically Russian insensitive use of the word for Down Syndrome

‘We don’t need Western ideology and gay parades’

‘Organiser of Maidan’ (mass-produced placards of rock singer Makarevich who has come out against Putin’s invasion)

‘Killed 50,000 people—Poroshenko, why?’ (showing crying Ukrainian President Poroshenko)

‘Save Russian kids from American Slavery!’ (Yeah, because the US really enslaved the kids in Germany, France, Italy, the UK, Japan…)

‘Putin loves everybody’

‘Putinism forever’

‘Arkhangelsk Clinical Psychological Hospital Helps Putin’ (can’t argue with this one)

And the all-time favourite: ‘Putin is better than Hitler’

 

Parade of idiots…

 

Buses for protesters

Buses for protesters

Party is over

Party is over

Putin and Kadyrov will not allow Maidan

Putin and Kadyrov will not allow Maidan

 

We don't need Western ideology and gay parades (Chechens)

We don’t need Western ideology and gay parades (Chechens)

Makarevich, organizer of Maidan

Makarevich, organizer of Maidan

 

50,000 killed

50,000 killed

Year on: Russian Disinformation and Useful Idiots Continue BS Campaign about Maidan Murders

A Maidan shooter with an un-marksmanlike stance 20 Feb

A Maidan shooter with an un-marksmanlike stance 20 Feb

Friday marks the first anniversary of the Nebesna Sotnya—the Heavenly Hundred murdered on Maidan and nearby Institutska (though the term includes those murdered previously, mainly on 18 February on Institutska and during the assault o nthe burning barricades. But there continues to be uncertainty about who did the shooting, though in reality it is clearly the regime that was behind it. The deliberate clouding of the events began almost immediately after the mass murder when Russian disinformation outlet RT began putting out its ‘versions’ of what happened according to their ‘experts’. This continues and has picked up intensity as the anniversary approached.

 

Regime sniper 20 Feb

Regime sniper 20 Feb

In a bizarre twist that gets unfortunately too much credit on the Internet, former SBU State Security of Ukraine chief Oleksandr Yakymenko (a regular for some time in early 2014 on Russia’s RT) blamed Ukraine’s interim post-Maidan government for the shootings from 18-20 February, claiming it hired snipers. As the regime was killing its people on the 20th, the Presidential Administration said the protesters were ‘…working in organised groups. They are using firearms, including sniper rifles. They are shooting to kill.’ The truth was precisely the opposite.

As the first anniversary of the shootings approached, the Russian disinformation apparatus went again into full speed to try to show that it was anybody but the regime that was responsible. They got some probably unwitting help from BBC, of all things, with a story filed on 12 February 2015 by one of their reporters who sometimes covers Ukraine, but mostly deals with North Africa. He got the ‘untold story’ from an unnamed person who somebody put in contact with him, who said he was a sniper in the service of Maidan on the 20th. This source claimed he had been recruited by somebody on Maidan he did not know weeks earlier, and a day before the shootings had been given the bizarre choice of using either a shotgun or a Saiga. He chose the latter, though it is not clear which Saiga model, since there are many ranging from shotguns to hunting versions of the Kalashnikov. Bizarre choice though, since he allegedly was given a spot on the roof of the Conservatory along with another unknown sniper and was either told or allowed to shoot at Berkut on top of the semi-circular roof of the Globus shopping mall below the Ukrainia Hotel, and at Berkut on the hill by the October Palace (which since the 18th housed police). These are long shots of 150 metres or so, though not super long range, but certainly not something that could have been accomplished with a shotgun, so that supposed choice of weapon was rather odd.

BBC item on mystery shooter

He claimed he started shooting at about 7 AM, but only shot at their feet since he did not want to kill anyone. But the ‘confirmation’ to the story was supplied by then opposition Rada Member Andriy Shevchenko, part of the Maidan movement, who said he received a phone call from the head of Berkut on Maidan, who told him that somebody was shooting at his guys from the Conservatory. Shevchenko had Maidan ‘Commandant’ Andriy Parubiy check it out, which he did supposedly with some of his men, who he claims found nothing. Shevchenko said he got more panicked phone calls from the Berkut chief who said that he had three or five wounded and one dead and that he was ‘pulling out’, advising that ‘I do not know what will be next’. The other ‘confirmation’ came from Ukrainian photographer Evgeniy Maloletka who had taken two photos in the Conservatory of one guy on one of the lower pillars aiming toward the October Palace direction with a simple rifle that looked like either a scopeless small caliber hunting gun or, as had often been seen since a month earlier, a pellet gun. His firing stance, like other pictures taken on Maidan on the 20th showing protesters with simple hunting rifles, indicated he was certainly not a professional marksman. Another seen inside the building seemed to have a very small bore broken-down shotgun in his hands. The phantom shooter, in any case, after having been allowed to ‘work’ for 20 minutes or so, was allegedly then stopped by some unidentified men (more of these), told he was finished, and then had his weapon taken away and was driven somewhere outside of Kyiv and unceremoniously dropped off in order to try to find his way back home. So he was allegedly recruited, armed (with something), set up (though apparently not instructed to shoot at anything in particular), stopped, and driven to nowhere by some different bunches of anonymous people. The BBC piece then indicated correctly that the regime began firing in earnest later, but sowed the seeds of doubt as to who might have started the whole thing. Naturally, Russian disinformation outlet RT picked up this story and ran with it before the day was out to ‘prove’ their assertion from nearly a year earlier that Maidan shot itself.

Disinformation academic article on Maidan shooting itself

As the anniversary approached, countless leftist and rightist and generally pro-Russian blogs began re-publishing bits from an academic paper published back in October 2014 by Professor Ivan Katchanovski from the University of Ottawa in Canada. Now, he hails originally from Ukraine, but like people such as Yanukovych and Zakharchenko, can hardly be considered a real Ukrainian given his obvious loyalties. And those loyalties were quite clear in his paper The “Snipers’ Massacre” on the Maidan in Ukraine. Though some of his information is factual, he twists a lot of it to fit his theory that it was Maidan snipers who were firing from the top of the Hotel Ukraina, working in the fact that as of about 0900 on the 20th, the hotel was in the hands of Maidan and that only those with a key were allowed in. Obviously, in his world, this meant Maidan had full control of it and had nothing better to do than use all its security manpower to immediately sweep all 373 rooms of this vast towering hotel just in case snipers would be shooting from it (which had not yet started in any case, so was initally not an issue). The key assertion is also ridiculous, since once shooting began, the lobby—which was really the only part under actual Maidan control—quickly became a busy place turned into a morgue and medical centre. The hotel was also home to countless journalists, including a number from Russia’s disinformation outlet RT and its Ruptly video service.

Indeed, one of the great propaganda pieces was done there by RT, which filmed some alleged Maidan self-defence toughs in one room (masked of course), with one in an old Soviet army helmet (as used by some on Maidan) holding a fairly small-calibre rifle of some sort without scope, who casually walked to the window and fired off a shot from a standing position. Given that those shot and killed on the actual square were mostly hit with shots to the head, neck, or heart from skilled marksmen, the random standing small-calibre shot was clearly a made-for-TV propaganda item as usual. Not to mention, why would it be that some Praviy Sektor or other Ukrainian nationalist fighters shooting people would allow a Russian state TV crew to film them doing so. This was fake, but as usual, far too many are willing to believe the RT fantasy. In all likelihood it was simply staged using some of RT’s own people on the scene or some fellow travellers. The other one they believe is the stories in general, and from his hotel room on the 20th, of RT correspondent Aleksey Yaroshevsky. He did a dramatic report in front of his Maidan-facing upper floor room windows, showing where a shot from Maidan had just earlier allegedly hit one of the windows, though he stood at the open window for some time doing the report, seemingly oblivious to the mortal threat. Amazingly a number of more respectable news outlets often referred to him as a native Ukrainian doing a normal reporter’s job, without mentioning he represented one of Putin’s main disinformation mechanisms. However, it has to be noted that some footage Ruptly shot from the upper floors clearly showing Berkut firing automatic weapons at unarmed protesters was of value in showing who indeed was responsible for the massacre.

Professor Katchanovski takes extreme liberties with the truth, such as claiming the Maidan protesters shot on Institutska were not hit from Berkut positions up the street, but shot from the hotel roof—obviously by some kind of Maidan snipers. This, however, is not borne out by clear video evidence which shows them being hit from the Berkut barricades, and his photographic evidence in fact showing a tree full of bullet holes and his claims that this was indicative of (Maidan) shooting from the direction of October Palace is blatantly false. I know this tree quite well in fact, having documented the spray of 5.45mm AK-74 fire in it when I was on Maidan again in May 2014, and it was clearly a shot group originating up the hill by the Berkut barricade, as were all of the many bullet holes I documented there. Yet his ‘academic’ study has gained a lot of proponents who keep proliferating it.

10 Apr 2014 German ARD Monitor conspiratorial programme on shootings

But the ‘truther’ collection has been growing almost from right after the battle, with a 10 April 2014 report form the German ARD TV Monitor programme trying to show much the same—that the people on Institutska were shot from Maidan snipers on the upper floors of the hotel—that is, from the rear. Their sole evidence is a supposed eyewitness, some slow-motion video of shooting victims (they could apparently not get over the fact that they had incredibly been shot through the metal shields they were holding, not realising that the thin former police shields used would not stop anything but the smallest pistol bullets), and some supposedly intercepted Berkut communications indicating the police snipers were surprised by the presence of other snipers on certain rooftops. This latter point was also used by Katchanovski, though if the communications are in fact true, they just show that there were indeed various groups of snipers at work, including probably some with the express goal of inflicting losses on both sides, and from various agencies (it is known that Alfa, Omega, and Berkut employed snipers, and possibly some Russian FSB imports who may have been added to the mix). Plus in such a situation, chaos is a major element. One last point is that Monitor has for decades been an unabashedly extreme left-wing German programme noted for trying to spread dirt on the US, NATO, the German government, and anybody except Russia (or the Soviet Union back in the day). Hardly serious in anything it has done, and I have watched its weekly fabrications for many decades.

And let’s not forget the intercepted phonecall from Estonian Foreign Minister Paet and the EU’s Catherine Ashton on 26 February which RT and Russian channels widely used. The conversation took place on 26 February after Paet returned to Estonia from a trip to Kyiv. Paet, for whom English is very obviously a second language, was talking with Ashton, telling her what a doctor named Olga told him in a Kyiv hospital. He said she told him that the demonstrators shot their own people as well as some police, and said the wounds were all from the same caliber weapons and bullets, and that the new government did not want to investigate the sniping because they knew they were behind it.

However, the version that RT put out, which has been rebroadcast and amplified all over the anti-Western blogosphere already as though it is the truth, was, as usual, taken totally out of context. They only ran a portion of the conversation, where he was in the middle of saying what this Olga had told him, and was isolated enough as to make it sound like these were his own thoughts. This has been rejected by the Estonian Foreign Ministry, which while admitting the conversation was real, notes that this was just what he had been told by this person. The Ministry also voiced its disgust that its Minister’s conversations had not only been intercepted, but made public. RT, for its part, said the call was intercepted by some Ukrainian SBU security service officers loyal to Yanukovych and uploaded, though this is another lie, as the conversation did not take place in Kyiv, but after Paet had returned to Tallinn. It almost certainly was the work of the Russian FSB.

It turns out that the Olga here was a doctor treating many of the wounded in the hotel—one Olga Bogomolets—who said she had not told Paet that policemen and protesters had been killed in the same manner, since she had no access to the police. ‘I was a doctor helping to save people on the square. There were 15 people killed on the first day by snipers. They were shot directly to the heart, brain and arteries. There were more than 40 the next day, 12 of them died in my arms. Our nation has to ask the question who were the killers, who asked them to come to Ukraine.’ Paet’s assertion that an opposition figure was behind the Maidan massacre was not one she agreed with by any means, and in any case, his remarks were taken out of context by the FSB recorders and RT, as usual

In sum, the reports of Maidan sniping itself to give a reason for overthrowing the government in a ‘coup’ is nonsense first promulgated by and constantly reinforced by RT, one of Moscow’s top disinformation channels. While there certainly were a few armed people on Maidan on the 20th, which was in response to the shootings the regime had inflicted on the 18th, all evidence to date shows a few people with pistols and some small-calibre hunting rifles (usually without scopes), and none seen firing could be remotely described as having been a trained marksman. Surely some of these did inflict some wounds on the police and probably a few fatalities, but there is no evidence of Maidan having had special trained snipers at work shooting either Berkut or the protesters themselves. None whatsoever.

 

Regime troop with SVD sniper rifle on Institutska 20 Feb

Regime troop with SVD sniper rifle on Institutska 20 Feb

But early on the morning of the 20th of February, regime snipers did began firing on Maidan from at least three elevated positions. The main site was the upper floors of the towering Soviet-construct Hotel Ukraina overlooking the square, but in the direction of Maidan (not up Institutska). Another site was on the west, from positions atop the westernmost wing of the building attached to the burned-out Trade Unions building, and a third was from the roof of the building at the extreme westernmost apex of Maidan, housing a hostel among other things. From these elevated sites, snipers could cover virtually all of Maidan. They began to methodically pick off individuals, usually hitting them with head or heart shots. The main medical clinic to deal with the wounded and to sometimes collect the dead was ironically (given the snipers in the upper floors of that building) in the lobby area of the Hotel Ukraina, which was staffed by volunteer medical and other personnel who were genuinely taking care of war casualties. The regime had succeeded in spreading real fear throughout the square, since nobody could know who might be the next victim, or from which direction the deadly shots might come. Still spirits remained high, anger increased, and numbers continued to swell.

My Russian journalist friend who I again met up with on Maidan in May gave an emotional account then of his day in hell there on the 20th of February, pointing out where the snipers were firing from, and noting that there was really only one place on Maidan where you would have cover from all three directions—that being the front of the central post office with its heavy stone colonnades. He and many others spent a lot of time there that day listening to the shots and watching select people die, noting he has never felt fear and helplessness like that in his life.

On the ground though, Maidaners marched on police with shields and Molotov cocktails, and forced them to retreat up Institutska, though Ruptly and other videos clearly show Berkut in front of the October Palace firing with AK-74s directly at clearly unarmed protesters. In the evening, Radio Free Europe published videos of police shooting protesters with Kalashnikovs and sniper rifles, adding to the mountain of fast-moving evidence on social media that this was indeed the case.

 

My photo of planter at Institutska metro station

My photo of planter at Institutska metro station

Dead and wounded at planter on Institutska

Dead and wounded at planter on Institutska

Yet some of the bloodiest battles would take place once again just up the hill on Institutska, as Maidan managed to push the police back and regain the ground lost on the 18th. This appears to have been done deliberately to entice the demonstrators into a killing zone, and happened up the street before the junction with Bankova, where over the previous day the regime forces had brought in some heavy concrete barriers to construct a massive barricade. The government forces were set up initially just west of the intersection of Institutska and Bankova, the scene of the violent 1 December clashes. From these barricades, Berkut and other unidentified uniformed forces were firing at targets down the hill on that street, in the direction of the Khreshchtyk metro station and Hotel Ukraina.

Multiple outlets reported that police were armed with AK-74 assault rifles, and published photographs of that objective fact. Former Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Hennadiy Moskal speculated that the troops wielding AK-74′s could be Alfa Group units. Berkut veteran organization head Vladimir Krashevsky said that the armed police in black with yellow armbands were a unit of Berkut, and had been deployed to help evacuate the interior troops.

The truth was very different, as shown by the videos of the day, especially those taken over more than a half hour behind the regime lines by Ukraina TV. These showed groups of Berkut and other uniformed personnel repeatedly moving up to the heavy cement barricades and carefully taking aim with AK-74s, sometimes with the assistance of another person pointing out targets to the other, and firing off several aimed shots. Unlike the panicked tone the Berkut commander had reportedly told opposition Rada member Shevchenko an hour or so earlier, where he said his men were under fire and they were having to retreat, the police in this video were all rather cool and collected, even to the point of joking around, and seemed to have only one thing on their mind as they took turns moving around the corder to the massive barricade—killing and maiming protesters coming up the hill.

Video from Regime side of Institutska shooting

Other personnel moved up to firing positions carrying SVD and the new TS-308 M .308 calibre sniper rifle, which is a copy of the Swiss B&T APR rifle produced by Ukrainian company Tactical Systems and has thus far been provided only to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry per the manufacturer—specifically for security at the UEFA-2012 football event. These were seen being carried by troops wearing unique woodland camouflage, though accompanied by police in riot gear carrying AK-74s and bearing the Militsiya (Police) logo. This is interesting for a couple of reasons. Berkut had been the main riot control and assault force to date, and they were well represented there with AKs. Normal police (Militsiya) do not typically have a special weapons mandate and mission, though some are seen here with AK-74s, SVD sniper rifles, and this new TS-308 M sniper rifle. There is also the fact that the reporter tried to engage a couple of times in conversation with the Berkut and police, though was usually pushed aside with few comments except that the other side was shooting at them with ‘bullets’. During these ‘interviews’ and during the overheard conversations of the troops there, the thing that was noticeable is that all were speaking in Russian, and mostly non-accented, though some could have been from the North Caucasus.

Berkut in front of October Palace 20 Feb firing AK-74s

Berkut in front of October Palace 20 Feb firing AK-74s

Regime troops and sniper on Bankovoa and Institutska 20 Feb

Regime troops and sniper on Bankovoa and Institutska 20 Feb

Also of interest was the way the troops moved forward toward the barricade. They moved tactically, hiding for cover behind the large trees or other obstacles, as if they were being fired upon. This is possible, also in that the TS-308 M sniper from the corner of Bankova seemed to be looking over the barricade toward the Hotel Ukrainia, surveying for possible snipers there. However, this could have been just prudent overwatch, or looking for possible Maidan targets in the windows (the back of the hotel was, per reporters there, hit with quite a few rounds fired from up Institutska), or would have probably been the snipers in the employ of the regime, whose job according to Hennadiy Moskal, a former top SBU official, was to shoot at people from both sides to provide a pretext for heavyhanded police actions. This had been, according to him, part of long-prepared plans to stoke violent clasnes in these situations, and would also go along with some statements from doctors treating the wounded who said the wounds were caused seemingly by weapons of the same calibers (whereas all photos of the few Maidaners with rifles showed them to be .22 caliber or slightly larger, but not 7.62mm or .50 caliber). What is odd though is that while the police and Berkut were seen moving tactically, an apparent police photographer with them with his mobile phone was moving around nonchalantly as though there was no danger at all. Also some people coming up from the direction of Maidan were either walking in the open or moving at a jog pace, apparently not fearing for being shot from behind.

 

AK-74 burst in Institutska tree

AK-74 burst in Institutska tree

 

AK-74 rounds and one SVD round in Institutska lamppost

AK-74 rounds and one SVD round in Institutska lamppost

 

There was also a disturbing image on the video—a PKM 7.62mm belt-fed squad machinegun at the barricade, which is hardly a riot control device. Partway through the video a van pulled up (again oblivious to any potential gunfire from the hotel), and its drivers disgorged a couple of green metal ammo belt magazines for the PKM onto the pavement. The PKM was not seen in this particular video being put into action, though it was obviously there for a reason, and had hundreds of rounds of ammo available. At certain points a police BTR-80 was also seen, and this time with its heavy 14.5mm machinegun (not an antipersonnel or crowd control weapon by any means) mounted in the turret.

Carnage on Institutska

Match this to some of the videos taken a couple hundred metres down the hill by the Khreshchtyk metro station and it all fits nicely, albeit bloodily. This is the main spot where Maidaners were being mowed down in a horrific fashion. Some with shields were hit, since the thin wood or metal was not nearly sufficient to stop bullets. There were numerous head shots in the videos, indicating they were targets of snipers. There were also many AK-74 round impact points visible when I visited there in May. Interestingly, during the hours when I surveyed the signs of carnage there, it was apparent that all the rounds had been fired from up the hill—that is, from the government lines and barricade, and judging form the angles of some, from the roof of a light blue building near the barricade. This included a couple of obvious .50 calibre rounds. It may well be possible that the police lines had been shot at from snipers in the Ukraina Hotel, but this was not evident in the video or in damage to the trees, planters, and lamp posts as viewed a few months later.

 

TS-308M sniper rifle on corner of Institutska and Bankova 20 Feb

TS-308M sniper rifle on corner of Institutska and Bankova 20 Feb

Regime troops on Institutska barricade with AK-74s

Regime troops on Institutska barricade with AK-74s

The indications that Russian government-provided snipers were at work there are mostly circumstantial, but it seems possible. All the troops in the videos were speaking Russian, with most speaking standard Russian and not eastern Ukrainian accented Russian. Regular police (Militsiya) do not typically have a SWAT role—that is for Berkut and other special units like the SBU’s Alfa, but there were many Militsiya present with AK-74s and various sniper rifles. Perhaps they were Russian FSB operatives put into Militsiya uniforms for camouflage purposes? The jury is still out on their presence. Lastly, as noted and as seen in numerous photos, the Berkut and other troops were all wearing yellow armband ribbons or yellow shoulder squares for identification. But this was hardly a mission to ‘extract’ police under fire—it was a pure major operation against unarmed protesters.

Those murdered on Institutska and further down the hill on Maidan itself stood little chance. Once hit, those trying to come to their aid also often became gunshot victims themselves. Yet the medical crews performed admirably under these horrific conditions. As noted, many wounded and dead were brought into the lobby of the Hotel Ukraina, but from the other side of Maidan the victims were often brought up the hill to St Michaels Monastery and Cathedral, where the cathedral was once again turned into a busy operating theatre and place for some of Maidan’s Heavenly Hundred to depart this life. Central Kyiv was a war zone.

One of the semi-mysteries of the day is the involvement of the Russians in the whole affair. Certainly there had been reports over the previous month of FSB advisers arriving in Kyiv, or planes with riot kit landing to aid the Berkut forces. But in the evening on the 20th at 19:40 a fairly large Russian delegation landed at Boryspil airport outside Kyiv, headed by Vladislav Surkov. He was definitely a very major visitor, having been Putin’s Deputy Chief of Staff from 1999 to 2011, and was considered the ‘architect of the Ukraine scenario’ and was the architect of Putin’s ‘managed democracy’ and has been characterised as the engineer of ‘a system of make-believe’, ‘a land of imitation political parties, stage-managed media and fake social movements’. His role in Russian politics was to manage perceptions and sow confusion. He had been officially out of government for a couple of years, but had become the aide responsible for relations with Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions, and in mid 2013 had Ukraine added to his portfolio. The timing, when Putin and Yanukovych were preparing to turn their backs on Europe and increase their mutual ties, indicates Putin needed his main political BS frontman to stage-manage what was to come. Surkov is also, importantly, the master of the lie, even beginning with his own name, as he is actually a Chechen whose real name is Aslambek Andarbekovich Dudayev.

Surkov was officially there to attend a conference in Kharkiv on the 22nd which would bring together separatist-minded political and social movement personalities from Crimea and parts of eastern and southernUkraine. He did attend it and had his talks with those leaders of the upcoming ‘popular’ revolutions in thos areas, but he likely had other meetings with top officials in Kyiv, including naturally Yanukovych. Surkov was certainly no stranger to the city, having been there in early February and a couple other times after Maidan had begun. He was accompanied on the flight by some high-powered security people as well, the highest ranking being and FSB General-Colonel (3-star). Just in time to set in motion the next phase—the invasions of Crimea and eastern Ukraine. It is not clear whether it is their arrival on the 20th or the mass murder of Maidaners that was the reason, but the initial operation day on the Russian medal for ‘the return of Crimea’ is listed as 20 February.

 

Russian medal for return of Crimea, with starting date 20 Feb

Russian medal for return of Crimea, with starting date 20 Feb

The violence of the day on the 20th resulted in about 68 killed that day, mostly from sniper fire, as well as some 184 others shot, 17 of whom died over the following days from their wounds. (This, on top of the couple dozen murdered on the 18th.) Berkut and other police also were killed, though the details of the deaths have never been made clear, and some could have been fictional. Clearly on the 18th several probably died in the failed BTR attack on the barricades which ended in a mass assault by Molotov cocktails. Some may have been shot by Maidan shooters (the few who had hunting rifles), though given the firing stances seen in photos of the day, most of them would have been rather lucky to have hit anything with accuracy.

 

Regime troops on Institutska with TS-308M sniper rifle and AK-74s

Regime troops on Institutska with TS-308M sniper rifle and AK-74s

 

Political Prisoner/POW Nadiya Savchenko Speech Rattles Moscow Court

Savchenko 10 Feb

Great video of Nadiya Savchenko in a Moscow court yesterday, with English subtitles. she was a Ukrainian military Mi-24 helo navigator/weapons officer and a real gung-ho soldier, On 18 June near Luhansk when she was fighting for the Aidar battalion, their BTRs came under fire and she was captured. Next day she was interviewed (actually more like interrogated) by a Komsomolskaya Pravda ‘journalist’ in the place where she was being detained, and in the next few days the so-called authorities there said they moved her multiple times in eastern Ukraine. Then in July she showed up in Voronezh Russia charged with directing mortar fire that killed a couple of Russian journalists who were with Russian fighters at the time. Never mind that an artillery forward observer is a specialty she did not possess, and her mobile phone records show she was captured an hour before the attack in another area. But Russia never cared about basic facts.

Savchenko 10 Feb Moscow court speech with English subtitles

She has been elected in Ukraine to the Ukrainian Rada for the Batkivshchyna Party in the parliamentary election Russia recognized, meaning they are holding a recognized foreign parliamentarian. She was also sent in December officially as a Ukrainian delegate to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which announced she has international immunity and Russia must release her, though Moscow has a history of ignoring international law and obligations. On the other hand they play fast and loose with this immunity stuff, having had Andrey Lugovoy elected to the Russian Duma so he could not be extradited over murdering Aleksandr Litvinvnko in London in 2006 (which he indeed did).

She was also charged with illegally crossing the Russian border pretending to be a refugee, though it is not clear how she could do that while she was a prisoner. She was made to undergo Soviet-style psychiatric investigation and treatment, and a couple months ago she went on a hunger strike. Yesterday the Moscow kangaroo court extended her imprisonment until May.

I short, she is incredibly brave, even struck a conciliatory tone with many Russians, and is in danger. She even notes her guards keep telling her not to use that excuse for a language (Ukrainian), and threaten her with bodily harm, as do many idiotic Russians in social media.

She is nothing short of a war trophy for big bad Putin. Some have equated her to Jean d’Arc as a warrior imprisoned for political reasons–as a trophy.

Pantsyr-S1 of Russian Army in Luhansk on 8 Feb. Billboard has stupid 'Fascists will not pass' slogan

Pantsyr-S1 of Russian Army in Luhansk on 8 Feb. Billboard has stupid ‘Fascists will not pass’ slogan

Somebody got some good video on a main street in Luhansk on 8 February of a Russian Army Pantsyr-S1 combination air defence vehicle. This is a beefed-up version of the 2S6 Tunguska, having four rapid-fire 30mm cannons and six SA-22 air defence missiles.

Russian Army Pantsyr-S1 combination AD system in Luhansk 8 Feb

Once again, this was NOT something taken by local Billy-Bob separatists from the Ukrainians, because the Pantsyr has never been in the Ukrainian arsenal. It was developed n the late 90s and finally started to be fielded in the late 2000s in the Russian military. And this is in Luhansk, based on the adverts, and of course the catchy ‘Fascism will not pass’ billboards. Rah-Rah!