The past several weeks have seen eerily familiar sights return to the infamous Maidan in central Kiev. However, while in the winter of 2013/2014, international camera crews descended on Kiev to video and photograph the violence, today, there are more angry demonstrators and camped out agitators than international journalists.
However, an anonymous journalist working with famed independent journalist Graham Phillips, who most prominently brought intentional audiences front-line footage from the war on Donbass, has filmed the following reportage documenting what can only be called Maidan 2.0.
The phrase, “the more things change–the more they stay the same”, very much comes to mind.
Miadan 2.0 is similar to the events in 2013/2014 in the following ways
1. Meet the new-neo-Nazis…same as the old neo-Nazis
Many if not most Maidanists are perpetually angry members of far-right and neo-Nazi groups who proudly display the red and black flag of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, a Nazi collaborationist group which committed acts of genocide during the 1940s.
New and old Maidanists are protesting a government they view as corrupt and unresponsive to their needs and desires
3. The Maidan camping experience
Maidanists have set up camp with elaborate tends, food preparation facilities and have come prepared with their own riot shields and other utensils of urban warfare.
4. It’s growing–not shrinking
It does not look like the new Maidanists are prepared to leave, even if asked by the authorities, until various, however vague demands are met.
However, the differences between the 2013/2014 Maidan riots and the events today are more notable for their differences
1. There’s no Yanukovych to blame
In 2013/2014, Maidanists were protesting a government which took an open position towards both the EU and Russia. Far from being ‘pro-Russian’, the government of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych attempted to initiate discussions with the EU about a trade association agreement and visa-free regime, only to put the brakes on at the last moment when he realised that such an agreement was not going to be economically viable.
Viktor Yanukovych is more of a Pontius Pilate character than anything else, a totally uninspiring figure torn between wanting to preserve crucial economic and security ties with Russia, while also wanting to take advantage of alleged opportunities from Brussels. Ironically, disgraced former Trump campaign associate Paul Manafort helped encourage Yanukovych to move closer to Europe, a decision which proved politically fatal.
Ultimately, Yanukovych was ousted in a neo-fascist coup backed by the US and most of the EU. He responded by running away, thus abandoning his country to utter chaos and bloodshed.
2. Disgruntled military and true believers
In the Poroshenko regime, one might think that on the surface, the far-right and neo-Nazi protesters got what they wanted. Poroshenko has destroyed relations with Russia, he continues to wage a savage war of aggression on the Donbass republics and has signed a visa-free agreement with the EU.
However, Poroshenko has destroyed Ukraine’s economy, crime is up, corruption which was always endemic in Ukraine, is now at levels which are setting world records and the safety situation is rapidly deteriorating in regime controlled areas.
While many of the most extreme Maidanists are upset that Poroshenko isn’t waging an even more aggressive war against the Donbass Republics, many of the new protesters are ex-Ukrainian soldiers who have become distraught at their lack of pay, in spite of having to fight an aggressive war with seemingly no forthcoming resolution.
Morale among Ukrainian troops is at an all time low, with non-battlefield casualties since the fascist regime came to power hitting 10,103. Over 3,000 troops have been killed away from the war-front with mental illness and desperate acts of internal violence fuelled by alcohol and drugs, being primary causes.
Demoralised troops may end up playing a large part in Maidan 2.0, an element that didn’t factor into the initial riots of the 2013/2014 Maidan.
3. Ukraine’s deathbed economy
Economic realities are also a motivating factor. Many have taken to the Maidan because the idea of a Ukraine that had the living standards of the average EU country, with the added ‘benefit’ of cutting all links with Russia, hasn’t worked out.
Ukraine remains largely dependant on Russian investment and the more the Kiev regime cuts this investment off (which it is indeed doing), the less likely it is that anyone will fill the void. There is increasingly little money to be made in Ukraine and even pro-regime actors in Europe and the wider west, are all too aware of this.
When it comes to the economic angle, the EU and US have largely given up on ‘project Maidan’. These ‘partners’ of the regime are keen to provoke Russia, but apparently less keen on giving the people of Ukraine any real economic opportunities. Many are already venting their frustrations about this on the Maidan.
4. No cookies from the west
The 2013/2014 Maidan was something of a ‘who’s who’ of the western neo-liberal/neo-con/anti-Russian movement. From John McCain giving rousing speeches against Russia to Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland famously handing out cookies on the Maidan before secretly being recorded saying “fuck the EU”, should Europe try to take a more moderate approach to US regime change, events were something of a neo-con carnival in the midst of a violent freaks-show.
Today’s Maidan is less of a ‘who’s who’ of the neo-con elite than a ‘who’s he?’ of the Ukrainian far-right. If anything, today’s Maidan is more authentic than the first, as the US has no interests in funding and promoting a group of anti-Russian agitators who want to overthrow an equally anti-Russian regime. For the west, it is mission accomplished, all other matters are now largely domestic in nature and therefore, largely irrelevant in Washington and Brussels.
5. The Saakashvili factor
Mikheil Saakashvili, the disgraced former Georgian president who was once appointed the governor of the historically multi-ethnic Russian city of Odessa by Poroshenko, has now been stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship and is on a mission to not only get it back, but to lead Ukraine.
Saakashvili is currently doing the rounds with various disgruntled mobs throughout the country, trying to increase support for his bid to oust Poroshenko and take charge.
In 2013/2014, Saakashvili was hardly talked about in Ukraine, but now, because Poroshenko made him a kind of political martyr (by Ukrainian standards), he is in the midst of attempting to cultivate a personality cult and propel himself to power. Again, because if anything Saakashvili is even more connected to western elites than Poroshenko, no one in Washington or Brussels is particularly alarmed nor existed by Saakashvili’s self-proclaimed ‘march on Kiev’. The attitude is essentially: ‘if he takes over, we have a new puppet, if he doesn’t, nothing has changed’.
However, because Saakashvili’s record is more tainted in Georgia than Ukraine, by post-Maidan standards, Saakashvili is something of a ‘last man standing’ who could emerge as a possible successor to Poroshenko, something that seemed unthinkable not so long ago.
Ataturk infamously stated “they go as they come” and this will likely be the case with the Poroshenko regime, one way or another.
However, this will provide little meaningful change in Ukraine and will do equally little to end the war of aggression on the Donbass republics.
What is needed is a kind of caretaker government to stop the war and allow the Donbass republics to function in the framework of a frozen conflict that ultimately, Russia and other international partners will have to solve. If the circumstances were right, Russia could even work with an increasingly humbled German state to bring about a resolution based perhaps partly on the Minsk agreements which are violated by Kiev on an almost daily basis.
That being said, Donbass is almost certainly never going to give up its independence and the sooner Kiev and the rest of the world, including the Moscow elite realise that, the better it will be. An independent Donbass is the new reality and it will be more productive for the world to accept this rather than trying to ignore or change it.
Such a caretaker government in Kiev would ideally also work with others, including Russia, Belarus and the EU to fix the broken economy.
The problem is that, there are virtually no such candidates in Ukraine. The political landscape is so barren of any common sense, pragmatism or compassion, that the choices are generally between bad and worse.
At some point, it really does not matter who is in charge of Kiev, so long as the hateful, regressive and incompetent attitudes of its political class remain the same.
In this sense, the new Maidan is an expression of continued frustration, but this time without foreign aid, without the false optimism of the last Maidan and without any hope for change. Ukraine is about to hit rock bottom and from where things stand, getting a little bit worse will scarcely be noticeable in the immediate future. This is a reflection of just how bad things have become.