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Maidan 2.0: The slow moving and more authentic Ukrainian uprising

Kiev’s Maidan is once again filled with camping protesters, but this time the west looks the other way.

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In 2014 when an odd coalition of neo-Nazis, ideologically vague members of the Ukrainian far-right, liberal extremists and random discontented Europeanists took to the streets of Kiev to overthrow the legitimate Ukrainian President and government, the writing was on the wall that such a coup would eventually come to eat the monster it made.

While the western backers of the coup were successful in otherthrowing the government, they were less successful in terms of being prepared to competently govern.

The result is that just as in December of 2013, the tents, protesters and marchers are back on Kiev’s Maidan (central square) only this time, the western mainstream media cameras are noticeably absent.

The reasons for this are clear enough. The western powers never intended to build Ukraine back up after breaking it down. Tt was enough to dislodge a geo-politically neutral and personally weak President in the form of Viktor Yanukovych and replace him with a disparate group of pro-western figures who included neo-Nazis, Russophobes, racists, mafiosos and thugs turned self-styled political reactionaries.

The fact that such people cannot run a country that even under moderates was dysfunctional due to having no historical basis, should not come as a surprise to anyone. Furthermore anyone in the west with even a rudimentary knowledge of history would have known this prior to 2014. Like George W. Bush in Iraq, “mission accomplished”, for Yanukovych’s  western opponents did not mean creating a new country–it simply meant destroying the old one.

Today however, there is broad discontent within all levels of society. Among the neo-Nazis, there is dissatisfaction that Kiev’s western backed war of aggression against Donbass has failed to destroy the Donestk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Among most other Ukrainians of all political bends and none, there is a palpable dissatisfaction with the fact that the economy is in ruins, public services are in a shambolic state, the reality that new incompetent oligarchs have replaced old semi-competent oligarchs and the fact that corruption is at levels that is frankly, obscene.

For months, the crowds on Maidan have continued to swell and recently, they have been led and encouraged by the ultra-pro western, former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

On the face of it, Mikheil Saakashvili is an unlikely leader a Maidan 2.0, but given the absurdity of the political realities in Kiev, in many ways, it makes too much sense.

As I previously wrote,

“If the Ukrainian regime was not engaged in a war of aggression that has included the use of chemical weapons against civilians , there would in fact be much to laugh at in respect of the situation in the country. Instead, the regime is a human tragedy but one that is solidly built atop a shaky farce. One of the more farsical elements of the Ukrainian regime has been the fact that its leader Petro Poroshenko recently stripped former Georgian President turned former Odessa Governor of his recently acquired Ukrainian citizenship.

In may of 2015, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko appointed disgraced former Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili Governor of Odessa Obslat. The appointment was immediately viewed as an insult to the people of the multi-cultural though overall historically and spiritually Russian city and region of Odessa, not least because this was the place where on 2 May 2014, young people were massacred by an armed mod while peacefully demonstrating against fascism.

READ MORE: Remembering The Odessa Massacre: 2 May 2014

It was doubly an insult because Saakashvili was a foreigner with no connection to the region. Finally, the fact that Saakashvili is wanted in Georgia on  charges of high corruption including embezzlement, actions he was alleged to have committed after he started a war of aggression against the people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, ought to make Saakashvili disqualified for any political position, anywhere.

When it comes to war criminality and domestic corruption, Poroshenko and Saakashvilli would both be competing for the gold if such things were Olympic events. That hasn’t stopped both men from accusing one another of being corrupt, a rare instance of both being correct, albeit it for the wrong reasons.

But one should not rely on habitual liars like  Saakashvili and Poroshenko as reliable sources for the true nature of events. For this one is best understood by the fact that Poroshenko recently visited Georgia while Saakashvili would likely be arrested the minute he set foot in Georgia again.

On the 17th of July Poroshenko visited Georgia for talks with the country’s current political leaders. Georgia is currently governed by the Georgian Dream party, a kind of catch-all political movement that has somewhat toned down the Russophobic fanaticism of the Saakashvilli years while still marching the country in a direction that sees it striving to join both NATO and the EU, in spite of being located closer to Iran than to the EU.

Poroshanko was clearly looking for an ally in Tbilisi, but as Georgia under its current leadership can barely save itself, he largely came back with nothing tangible. That being said, as Saakashvilli already resigned from his position in Odessa in November of 2016, stripping a wanted man in Georgia of Ukrainian citizenship, thus technically leaving him stateless, can be seen as a concession to the current Georgian authorities. Prior to this Georgia viewed Poroshenko as the Ecuador to the would-be Assange that was Saakashvilli, only whereas Assange filled the world with much needed truth,  Saakashvilli filled his pockets with much sought after state cash.

Furthermore, shortly after leaving his post in Odessa, Saakashvilli registered a new party in Ukraine. While it is difficult to see how such a party could be a real political threat to Poroshenko’s power base which is already under threat from Ukrainian parties with an even more far-right ideology than Poroshenko’s, it seemed that Poroshenko did not want to take any chances. Thus, Poroshenko stripped Saakashvilli of his Ukrainian citizenship shortly after returning from Saakashvilli’s native country.

In short, Saakashvilli is a corrupt opportunist who ran to the power base of a second corrupt opportunist, Poroshenko. Then that second corrupt opportunist fired and deprived citizenship of the first corrupt opportunist under the guise that the first corrupt opportunist was a corrupt opportunist, who then took to calling the second corrupt opportunist a corrupt opportunist.

This literally is the farce that is post-coup Ukrainian politics”.

Here’s the real reason Poroshenko stripped Saakashvili of Ukrainian citizenship

I further stated,

“Saakashvili is keen to paint himself as a heroic freedom fighter, perhaps even a ‘democracy activist’ who has been on the receiving end of an unjust and possibly illegal deal by a corrupt regime (that part is objectively true) which has made an individual stateless through a wanton action (something which many experts claim is illegal).

Beyond this, the arch-opportunist and former Kiev Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has endeared herself to Saakashvili’s cause. Tymoshenko is widely perceived, even among her comrades on the extreme-right, as someone who will say and do anything to get closer to power. The fact that she has thus far played no role in the Poroshenko regime, has made her feel shafted and she’s now betting on Saakashvili helping to whisk her back to the limelight which she so clearly craves.

With police in western Ukraine now claiming that they have opened criminal proceedings against Saakashvili for his border stunt, it is becoming ever more likely that a man who was largely forgotten and ignored, might be an unlikely candidate to shed light on the corrupt and habitually duplicitous nature of the Kiev regime, even though Saakashvili’s differences with Kiev are largely cosmetic and personal. In terms of policy, both Poroshenko and Saakashvili have a history of committing war-crimes, destroying economic relations with Russia, overseeing largely ineffective regimes whose popularity wanes rapidly and stealing state-treasure for personal gain. That being said, if one was forced to choose, it must be said that between Poroshenko and Saakashvili, the latter is more of a smooth political operator than the former. That being said, the bar has been set incredibly low.

In this sense, Poroshenko in depriving Saakashvili of citizenship, has created a headache for himself.

In a just world, those opposed to war, racism, political censorship, economic collapse, corruption and state depravity would be the ones to bring down the Poroshenko regime. But in the real world, as Ataturk once said, “They go as they come”.

There would be no more fitting end to the Poroshenko regime than for Saakashvili to rally support against it. Meet the new boos, same as the old boss–in more ways than one”.

The inept Kiev regime turns shamed Saakashvili into self-made political martyr

Because the Maidan 2.0 is a battle between various pro-NATO stooges, all with dubious track records, the west can sit back and relax, happy in the fact that Kiev will remain a headache for Moscow and an aggressor towards Donbass, while remaining totally complacent in the fact that such a regime will likely be just as much of a letdown for the innocent civilians of Kiev controlled regions, as was the original post-Maidan regime.

In spite of this, there is a genuine nature to Maidan 2.0 that was missing from its recent ancestor. Today, the Maidanists are largely operating of their own accord and this time, they have very real worries that in spite of promises from the west of a ‘better future’, the economic statistics dictate that today’s Ukraine is far worse than that of 2013 and early 2014. The fact that this Maidan has moved at a more gradual pace is proof positive that the movement does not have the international backing and exuberant western mainstream media cheerleaders that the initial blitzkrieg coup had.

People in Ukraine are “mad as hell” and they’re “not going to take it anymore”. The problem is that while this time, the anger is that much more authentic, slow burning and legitimate–the solutions are as unrealistic as they were in 2014 and if anything, the leading figures of the “movement” are even more incompetent.

Since 2014, Ukraine has gone from a farcical tragedy, to a tragic farce.

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Russia ranks HIGHER than Switzerland in these areas of doing business

Some curious things happened with several businesspeople who attended World Cup events in Russia.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin

One of them was a distinctly renewed interest in doing business inside the country, and another was the realization to what extent perceptions have been tainted by media and political rhetoric directed against any real or imagined nastiness attributed to Russia these days.

These past few weeks have been invaluable, at the very least by affording a clear picture of Russia through which almost all anxiety-ridden preconceptions were illuminated and dispelled. More disturbing was the fact that the several businesspeople I was dealing with were furious. They were livid for being played for fools, and felt victimized by the dismally untrue picture painted about Russia and Russians in their home countries, both by their own politicians and the press.

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Most felt that they have been personally sanctioned by their own countries, betrayed through lack of clear unbiased information enabling them to participate and profit from Russia opportunities these past three growth years in spite of “sanctions”.

The door to doing good business in Russia has been and is open, and has been opening wider year after year. That is not just “highly likely”, but fact. Consistently improving structures, means and methods to conduct business in Russia sustainably, transparently and profitably are now part of the country’s DNA. It is a process, which has been worked on in the west for more than a century, and one, which Russia has only started these past 18 years.

True, there are sanctions, counter-sanctions, and regulations governing them that must be studied carefully. However if you are not a bank or doing business with those persons deemed worthy of being blacklisted by some countries “sanctions list”, in reality there are no obstacles that cannot be positively addressed and legally overcome despite the choir of political nay-sayers.

READ MORE: Russia just dumped $80 BILLION in US debt

The days of quickly turning over Russia opportunities into short-term cash are rapidly fading, they are a throwback to the 1990’s. Today the major and open opportunities are in the areas for Foreign Direct Investments. The nature of FDI is long term to make regularly recurring sustainable returns on investment.

Long term, Russia always was and increasingly confirms that it is a vibrant and attractive market. There is a significant consumer market with spending power, a well-educated workforce, a wealth of resources and the list goes on. The economic obstacles encountered have largely been imposed from without, and not from the dynamics and energies of the Russian economy itself.

Eventually sanctions will end, although the timeline is anyone’s guess. Meanwhile business continues, and any long-term engagement within Russia by establishing a working presence will yield both short and long-term investment rewards. These will only be amplified when the sanctions regimes are removed. In any event, these aspects are long-term investment decisions and one of the criteria in any risk assessment.

For some added perspective, Russia is ranked by the Financial Times as the No.2 country in Europe in terms of capital investments into Europe. It has a 2017 market share of 9% (US$ 15.9 billion) and includes 203 business projects. This is 2% higher than 2016 and better that 2014/2015 when sanctions were imposed.

Another item of perspective is the Country Risk Premium. All investors consider this when calculating the scope for long-term return on investments. What may surprise some is that Russia is no longer ranked as a very high-risk country. For comparisons sake: The risk premium for Germany is zero (no extra risk), the risk premium for Italy is 2.19%, and for Russia, it is 2.54%. When compared to politically popular investment destinations like Ukraine the risk premium is 10.4%  – food for thought. Bottom line is that the risks of investing in Russia are a smidge higher than investing in Italy.

Russia is ranked 35 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings. The ranking of Russia improved to 35 in 2017 from 40 in 2016 and from 124 in 2010. It may also surprise some to learn that as concerns protecting the rights of minority investors, paying taxes, registering property and some other aspects of the World Bank comparisons, Russia comes out better than Switzerland (See: Rankings).

From operational standpoints, establishing an invested presence in Russia does not mean one must adopt Russian managerial methods or practices. The advantages for established foreign companies is that their management culture is readily applied and absorbed by a smart and willing workforce, enabling a seamless integration given the right training and tools.

The trend towards the ultimate globalization of business despite trade wars, tariffs, sanctions and counter-sanctions is clear. The internet of the planet, the blockchain and speed of information exchange makes it so whether we wish it or not. Personally, I hope that political globalization remains stillborn as geopolitics has a historical mandate to tinker with and play havoc with international trade.

Russia occupies a key strategic position between Europe and Asia. The “west” (US/Europe) have long had at times rather turbulent relationships with China. At the same time the Chinese are quite active investors in both the US and Europe, and western companies are often struggling to understand how to deal with China.

The answer to this conundrum is Russia: this is where East and West will ultimately come together with Russia playing a pivotal role in the relations between the west and China. At the end of the day, and taking the strategic long-term economic view, is what both Chinese and Western companies are investing in when they open their activities in Russia.

If long-term commitment and investment in Russia were simply a matter of transferring funds then I would not be bothering with this opinion article. Without a doubt, there are structural issues with investing in Russia. A still evolving and sometimes unclear rule of law, difficulties obtaining finance for investments directed towards Russia, the unique language and culture of business in the country. Nevertheless, companies that have an understanding and vision of global strategy will manage with these issues and have the means to mitigate them.

Money and other invested resources do not and should not play politics; any investment case when evaluated on objective financial criteria will reveal its fit, or lack of, within a company’s global strategic business objectives. The objective criteria for Russia over any long term horizon is both convincing and strong. This has been repeated by all of the businesspeople I have met with these past few weeks. Without doubt we shall see some new companies coming into the Russian market and objectively exploring the gains their playing fair business football here will yield.

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Media meltdown hits stupid levels as Trump and Putin hold first summit (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 58.

Alex Christoforou

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It was, and still remains a media meltdown of epic proportions as that dastardly ‘traitor’ US President Donald Trump decided to meet with that ‘thug’ Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Of course these are the simplistic and moronic epitaphs that are now universally being thrown around on everything from Morning Joe to Fox and Friends.

Mainstream media shills, and even intelligent alternative news political commentators, are all towing the same line, “thug” and “traitor”, while no one has given much thought to the policy and geo-political realities that have brought these two leaders together in Helsinki.

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou provide some real news analysis of the historic Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, without the stupid ‘thug’ and ‘traitor’ monikers carelessly being thrown around by the tools that occupy much of the mainstream media. Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

And if you though that one summit between Putin and Trump was more than enough to send the media into code level red meltdown, POTUS Trump is now hinting (maybe trolling) at a second Putin summit.

Via Zerohedge

And cue another ‘meltdown’ in 3…2…1…

While arguments continue over whether the Helsinki Summit was a success (end of Cold War 2.0) or not (most treasonous president ever), President Trump is convinced “The Summit was a great success,” and hints that there will be a second summit soon, where they will address: “stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more.”

However, we suspect what will ‘trigger’ the liberal media to melt down is his use of the Stalin-esque term “enemy of the people” to describe the Fake News Media once again…

 

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While US seeks to up the ante on pressure on the DPRK, Russia proposes easing sanctions

These proposals show the dichotomy between the philosophy of US and Russian foreign policy

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The United States last week accused the DPRK of violating refined petroleum caps imposed as a part of UN nuclear sanctions dating back to 2006, and is therefore submitting a proposal to cut all petroleum product sales to North Korea.

The Trump administration is keen on not only preserving pressure on North Korea over its nuclear arms development, but in increasing that pressure even as DPRK Chairman, Kim Jong-Un, is serially meeting with world leaders in a bid to secure North Korea’s security and potential nuclear disarmament, a major move that could deescalate tensions in the region, end the war with the South, and ease global apprehensions about the North’s nuclear arsenal.

Meanwhile, Russia is proposing to the UNSC sanctions relief in some form due to the North’s expressed commitment to nuclear disarmament in the light of recent developments.

Reuters reports:

MOSCOW/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Russia’s envoy to North Korea said on Wednesday it would be logical to raise the question of easing sanctions on North Korea with the United Nations Security Council, as the United States pushes for a halt to refined petroleum exports to Pyongyang.

“The positive change on the Korean peninsula is now obvious,” said the ambassador, Alexander Matsegora, according to the RIA news agency, adding that Russia was ready to help modernize North Korea’s energy system if sanctions were lifted and if Pyongyang can find funding for the modernization.

The U.N. Security Council has unanimously boosted sanctions on North Korea since 2006 in a bid to choke off funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, banning exports including coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, and capping imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.

China tried late last month to get the Security Council to issue a statement praising the June 12 Singapore meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and expressing its “willingness to adjust the measures on the DPRK in light of the DPRK’s compliance with the resolutions.”

North Korea’s official name is Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

But the United States blocked the statement on June 28 given “ongoing and very sensitive talks between the United States and the DPRK at this time,” diplomats said. The same day, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi about the importance of sanctions enforcement.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to informally brief U.N. Security Council envoys along with South Korea and Japan on Friday.

Diplomats say they expect Pompeo to stress the need to maintain pressure on North Korea during his briefing on Friday.

In a tweet on Wednesday Trump said he elicited a promise from Russian President Vladimir Putin to help negotiate with North Korea but did not say how. He also said: “There is no rush, the sanctions remain!”

The United States accused North Korea last week of breaching a U.N. sanctions cap on refined petroleum by making illicit transfers between ships at sea and demanded an immediate end to all sales of the fuel.

The United States submitted the complaint to the U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee, which is due to decide by Thursday whether it will tell all U.N. member states to halt all transfers of refined petroleum to Pyongyang.

Such decisions are made by consensus and some diplomats said they expected China or Russia to delay or block the move.

When asked on June 13 about whether sanctions should be loosened, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said: “We should be thinking about steps in that direction because inevitably there is progress on the track that should be reciprocal, that should be a two-way street. The other side should see encouragement to go forward.”

The proposals of both the United States and Russia are likely to be vetoed by each other, resulting no real changes, but what it displays is the foreign policy positions of both nuclear powers towards the relative position of the DPRK and its rhetorical move towards denuclearization. The US demonstrates that its campaign of increased pressure on the North is necessary to accomplishing the goal of a denuclearized Korean peninsula, while Russia’s philosophy on the matter is to show a mutual willingness to follow through on verbal commitment with a real show of action towards an improved relationship, mirroring on the ground what is happening in politics.

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