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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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EXPLOSIVE: Michael Cohen sentencing memo exposes serial liar with nothing to offer Mueller (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 38.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at the Michael Cohen sentencing memo which paints the picture of a man who was not as close to Trump as he made it out to be…a serial liar and cheat who leveraged his thin connections to the Trump organization for money and fame.

It was Cohen himself who proudly labelled himself as Trump’s “fixer”. The sentencing memo hints at the fact that even Mueller finds no value to Cohen in relation to the ongoing Trump-Russia witch hunt investigation.

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Via Axios

Special counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors in New York have each submitted sentencing memos for President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, after Cohen pleaded guilty in two different cases related to his work for Trump and the Trump Organization.

The big picture: The Southern District of New York recommended Cohen serve a range of 51 to 63 months for four crimes — “willful tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution, illegal campaign contributions, and making false statements to Congress.” Mueller, meanwhile, did not take a position on the length of Cohen’s statement, but said he has made substantial efforts to assist the investigation.

Southern District of New York

Mueller investigation

Michael J. Stern, a federal prosecutor with the Justice Department for 25 years in Detroit and Los Angeles noted via USA Today

In support of their request that he serve no time in prison, Cohen’s attorneys offered a series of testimonials from friends who described the private Michael Cohen as a “truly caring” man with a “huge heart” who is not only “an upstanding, honorable, salt of the earth man” but also a “selfless caretaker.”

The choirboy portrayed by Cohen’s lawyers stands in sharp opposition to Cohen’s public persona as Trump’s legal bulldog, who once threatened a reporter with: “What I’m going to do to you is going to be f—ing disgusting. Do you understand me?”

Prosecutors focused their sentencing memo on Cohen as Mr. Hyde. Not only did they detail Cohen’s illegal activities, which include millions of dollars of fraud, they also recognized the public damage that stemmed from his political crimes — describing Cohen as “a man who knowingly sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy.”

Rebuffing efforts by Cohen’s attorneys to recast him as a good guy who made a few small mistakes, prosecutors cited texts, statements of witnesses, recordings, documents and other evidence that proved Cohen got ahead by employing a “pattern of deception that permeated his professional life.” The prosecutors attributed Cohen’s crimes to “personal greed,” an effort to “increase his power and influence,” and a desire to maintain his “opulent lifestyle.”

Perhaps the most damning reveal in the U.S. Attorney’s sentencing memo is that Cohen refused to fully cooperate. That’s despite his public relations campaign to convince us that he is a new man who will cooperate with any law enforcement authority, at any time, at any place.

As a former federal prosecutor who handled hundreds of plea deals like Cohen’s, I can say it is extremely rare for any credit to be recommended when a defendant decides not to sign a full cooperation deal. The only reason for a refusal would be to hide information. The prosecutors said as much in their sentencing memo: Cohen refused “to be debriefed on other uncharged criminal conduct, if any, in his past,” and “further declined” to discuss “other areas of investigative interest.”

 

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Canada to Pay Heavy Price for Trudeau’s Groupie Role in US Banditry Against China

Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Huawei CFO Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


You do have to wonder about the political savvy of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government. The furious fallout from China over the arrest of a senior telecoms executive is going to do severe damage to Canadian national interests.

Trudeau’s fawning over American demands is already rebounding very badly for Canada’s economy and its international image.

The Canadian arrest – on behalf of Washington – of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, seems a blatant case of the Americans acting politically and vindictively. If the Americans are seen to be acting like bandits, then the Canadians are their flunkies.

Wanzhou was detained on December 1 by Canadian federal police as she was boarding a commercial airliner in Vancouver. She was reportedly handcuffed and led away in a humiliating manner which has shocked the Chinese government, media and public.

The business executive has since been released on a $7.4 million bail bond, pending further legal proceedings. She is effectively being kept under house arrest in Canada with electronic ankle tagging.

To add insult to injury, it is not even clear what Wanzhou is being prosecuted for. The US authorities have claimed that she is guilty of breaching American sanctions against Iran by conducting telecoms business with Tehran. It is presumed that the Canadians arrested Wanzhou at the request of the Americans. But so far a US extradition warrant has not been filed. That could take months. In the meantime, the Chinese businesswoman will be living under curfew, her freedom denied.

Canadian legal expert Christopher Black says there is no juridical case for Wanzhou’s detention. The issue of US sanctions on Iran is irrelevant and has no grounds in international law. It is simply the Americans applying their questionable national laws on a third party. Black contends that Canada has therefore no obligation whatsoever to impose those US laws regarding Iran in its territory, especially given that Ottawa and Beijing have their own separate bilateral diplomatic relations.

In any case, what the real issue is about is the Americans using legal mechanisms to intimidate and beat up commercial rivals. For months now, Washington has made it clear that it is targeting Chinese telecoms rivals as commercial competitors in a strategic sector. US claims about China using telecoms for “spying” and “infiltrating” American national security are bogus propaganda ruses to undermine these commercial rivals through foul means.

It also seems clear from US President Donald Trump’s unsubtle comments this week to Reuters, saying he would “personally intervene” in the Meng case “if it helped trade talks with China”, that the Huawei executive is being dangled like a bargaining chip. It was a tacit admission by Trump that the Americans really don’t have a legal case against her.

Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland bounced into damage limitation mode following Trump’s thuggish comments. She said that the case should not be “politicized” and that the legal proceedings should not be tampered with. How ironic is that?

The whole affair has been politicized from the very beginning. Meng’s arrest, or as Christopher Black calls it “hostage-taking”, is driven by Washington’s agenda of harassment against China for commercial reasons, under a legal pretext purportedly about Iranian sanctions.

When Trump revealed the cynical expediency of him “helping to free Wanzhou”, then the Canadians realized they were also being exposed for the flunkies that they are for American banditry. That’s why Freeland was obliged to quickly adopt the fastidious pretense of legal probity.

Canadian premier Justin Trudeau has claimed that he wasn’t aware of the American request for Wanzhou’s detention. Trudeau is being pseudo. For such a high-profile infringement against a senior Chinese business leader, Ottawa must have been fully briefed by the Americans. Christopher Black, the legal expert, believes that Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

What Trudeau and his government intended to get out of performing this sordid role for American thuggery is far from clear. Maybe after being verbally mauled by Trump as “weak and dishonest” at the G7 summit earlier this year, in June, Trudeau decided it was best to roll over and be a good little puppy for the Americans in their dirty deed against China.

But already it has since emerged that Canada is going to pay a very heavy price indeed for such dubious service to Washington. Beijing has warned that it will take retaliation against both Washington and Ottawa. And it is Ottawa that is more vulnerable to severe repercussions.

This week saw two Canadian citizens, one a former diplomat, detained in China on spying charges.

Canadian business analysts are also warning that Beijing can inflict harsh economic penalties on Ottawa. An incensed Chinese public have begun boycotting Canadian exports and sensitive Canadian investments in China are now at risk from being blocked by Beijing. A proposed free trade deal that was being negotiated between Ottawa and Beijing now looks dead in the water.

And if Trudeau’s government caves in to the excruciating economic pressure brought to bear by Beijing and then abides by China’s demand to immediately release Meng Wanzhou, Ottawa will look like a pathetic, gutless lackey to Washington. Canada’s reputation of being a liberal, independent state will be shredded. Even then the Chinese are unlikely to forget Trudeau’s treachery.

With comic irony, there’s a cringemaking personal dimension to this unseemly saga.

During the 197os when Trudeau’s mother Margaret was a thirty-something socialite heading for divorce from his father, then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, she was often in the gossip media for indiscretions at nightclubs. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards claims in his autobiography that Margaret Trudeau was a groupie for the band, having flings with Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood. Her racy escapades and louche lifestyle brought shame to many Canadians.

Poor Margaret Trudeau later wound up divorced, disgraced, financially broke and scraping a living from scribbling tell-all books.

Justin, her eldest son, is finding out that being a groupie for Washington’s banditry is also bringing disrepute for him and his country.

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US Commits To “Indefinite” Occupation Of Syria; Controls Region The Size Of Croatia

Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005.

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Via Zerohedge


“We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation” — a Syrian resident in US-controlled Raqqa told Stars and Stripes military newspaper. This as the Washington Post noted this week that “U.S. troops will now stay in Syria indefinitely, controlling a third of the country and facing peril on many fronts.”

Like the “forever war” in Afghanistan, will we be having the same discussion over the indefinite occupation of Syria stretching two decades from now? A new unusually frank assessment in Stars and Stripes bluntly lays out the basic facts concerning the White House decision to “stay the course” until the war’s close:

That decision puts U.S. troops in overall control, perhaps indefinitely, of an area comprising nearly a third of Syria, a vast expanse of mostly desert terrain roughly the size of Louisiana.

The Pentagon does not say how many troops are there. Officially, they number 503, but earlier this year an official let slip that the true number may be closer to 4,000

A prior New Yorker piece described the US-occupied area east of the Euphrates as “an area about the size of Croatia.” With no Congressional vote, no public debate, and not even so much as an official presidential address to the nation, the United States is settling in for another endless occupation of sovereign foreign soil while relying on the now very familiar post-911 AUMF fig leaf of “legality”.

Like the American public and even some Pentagon officials of late have been pointing out for years regarding Afghanistan, do US forces on the ground even know what the mission is? The mission may be undefined and remain ambiguously to “counter Iran”, yet the dangers and potential for major loss in blood and treasure loom larger than ever.

According to Stars and Stripes the dangerous cross-section of powder keg conflicts and geopolitical players means “a new war” is on the horizon:

The new mission raises new questions, about the role they will play and whether their presence will risk becoming a magnet for regional conflict and insurgency.

The area is surrounded by powers hostile both to the U.S. presence and the aspirations of the Kurds, who are governing the majority-Arab area in pursuit of a leftist ideology formulated by an imprisoned Turkish Kurdish leader. Signs that the Islamic State is starting to regroup and rumblings of discontent within the Arab community point to the threat of an insurgency.

Without the presence of U.S. troops, these dangers would almost certainly ignite a new war right away, said Ilham Ahmed, a senior official with the Self-Administration of North and East Syria, as the self-styled government of the area is called.

“They have to stay. If they leave and there isn’t a solution for Syria, it will be catastrophic,” she said.

But staying also heralds risk, and already the challenges are starting to mount.
So a US-backed local politician says the US can’t leave or there will be war, while American defense officials simultaneously recognize they are occupying the very center of an impending insurgency from hell — all of which fits the textbook definition of quagmire perfectly.

The New Yorker: “The United States has built a dozen or more bases from Manbij to Al-Hasakah, including four airfields, and American-backed forces now control all of Syria east of the Euphrates, an area about the size of Croatia.”

But in September the White House announced a realignment of its official priorities in Syria, namely to act “as a bulwark against Iran’s expanding influence.” This means the continued potential and likelihood of war with Syria, Iran, and Russia in the region is ever present, per Stripes:

Syrian government troops and Iranian proxy fighters are to the south and west. They have threatened to take the area back by force, in pursuit of President Bashar Assad’s pledge to bring all of Syria under government control.

Already signs of an Iraq-style insurgency targeting US forces in eastern Syria are beginning to emerge.

In Raqqa, the largest Syrian city at the heart of US occupation and reconstruction efforts, the Stripes report finds the following:

The anger on the streets is palpable. Some residents are openly hostile to foreign visitors, which is rare in other towns and cities freed from Islamic State control in Syria and Iraq. Even those who support the presence of the U.S. military and the SDF say they are resentful that the United States and its partners in the anti-ISIS coalition that bombed the city aren’t helping to rebuild.

And many appear not to support their new rulers.

We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation,” said one man, a tailor, who didn’t want to give his name because he feared the consequences of speaking his mind. “I don’t know why they had to use such a huge number of weapons and destroy the city. Yes, ISIS was here, but we paid the price. They have a responsibility.”

Recent reports out of the Pentagon suggests defense officials simply want to throw more money into US efforts in Syria, which are further focused on training and supplying the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (or Kurdish/YPG-dominated SDF), which threatens confrontation with Turkey as its forces continue making preparations for a planned attack on Kurdish enclaves in Syria this week.

Meanwhile, Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005:

Everyone says the streets are not safe now. Recent months have seen an uptick in assassinations and kidnappings, mostly targeting members of the security forces or people who work with the local council. But some critics of the authorities have been gunned down, too, and at night there are abductions and robberies.

As America settles in for yet another endless and “indefinite” occupation of a Middle East country, perhaps all that remains is for the president to land on an aircraft carrier with “Mission Accomplished” banners flying overhead?

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