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BBC News – Ukraine justice minister in state of emergency warning – 1/27/2014; In Pictures: Ukraine unrest continues – In Pictures – Al Jazeera English – 1/27/2014; EU steeled for bruising encounter with Putin over Ukraine – FT.com – 1/27/2014:

“This is not a ‘business as usual’ summit,” said one EU ambassador. “It is time to take stock of where we are in relations with Russia. We will not be discussing any of the nuts-and-bolts issues.”

▶ Angry Riots: Ukrainians set up catapult to fire at police – YouTube – 1/27/2014.

Kiev may represent the edge of Putin’s reinvigorating of the Russian state as an entity made larger than itself with a ring of buffering client states.

At 5:19 in the above clip, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt notes, “We have European values, we have European principles, we have European rights, that we must uphold in each and every European country.”

President Putin’s sumo wrestling on behalf of the future of resurgent Russian empire runs into numerous modern issues, starting with the neglect of the Russians themselves outside of the circles of immediate cooperation, influence, and power, which, of course, is part of what makes an autocracy what it is.  In earlier days — the good old days! — tanks may have handily quelled the rioting in Kiev; today, those tanks may turn against the imposition of a new Ukrainian-Russian cooperative in the absence of a genuinely transformed Moscow.

However, as one friend has reminded me several times this winter, Russia (Putin) owns the cash and gas supplies and has used them for political leverage.  Kiev’s own heavy-handed laws (who taught them how to be so tough and stupid?) have mightily encouraged the hard line in the state’s opposition:

“Everyone here’s looking at a 10-year jail sentence — the laws are in place,” said Vladimir, a 53-year-old entrepreneur from Kiev who’s been at the camp from the start and declined to give his last name for fear of reprisal. “We’ll be here until we win, otherwise our fate is sealed. There’s no third option.”

Ukrainian Violence Raises Stakes at Kiev Protest Camp – Businessweek – 1/26/2014.

The conversion of Ukraine’s discomfort into stark black-and-white terms devolves directly to the government, which by imposing draconian measures eliminated the Ukrainian people’s post-Soviet customary sense of freedom of speech.

The new law, which bans all forms of protests, was published in the official Golos Ukrainy, or Voice of Ukraine, newspaper, raising fears that the government would use excessive force to quell dissent.

The opposition and the West have condemned the bill, demanding that it be reversed, but the Interior Ministry said at least 32 protesters had been arrested in the most recent round of demonstrations.

Violence as Ukraine anti-protest law enacted – Europe – Al Jazeera English – 1/21/2014.

An older Moscow would have rolled in the tanks and troops, but that was then.  This is now, and President Viktor Yanukovych, which I would gamble the opposition sees as a Putin puppet and protege, has instead of repealing a brutal set of protest laws offered his opposition a token place at his table.  (Reference:Ukraine president says he’ll name rival as prime minister, but opposition demands more – The Washington Post – 1/25/2014; Ukraine President Offers Prime Minister Post to Opposition Leader – WSJ.com – 1/25/2014).

As he has with Syria, Putin has handily kept himself out of the spotlight.  Of course, RT’s in no position to pursue this line of analysis, and then too . . . what’s he done but helped Ukraine with money and kept the gas supply moving?

From the Brookings Institution:

Putin’s Russia Goes Rogue – YouTube – 1/23/2014

In an open letter to President Obama, the two featured in the video, Fiona Hill and Steven Pifer, stated the following:

Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine look to the United States, not just the European Union, for support. A joint U.S.-EU stance has the greatest prospect of countering Russian actions. We recommend that you instruct the State Department to coordinate policy steps with the European Union and key members, including France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, to bolster the “targeted” states and assist them as Russia increases its economic and political pressures.

Putin’s Russia Goes Rogue | Brookings Institution – 1/23/2014.


What you need to know about the protests in Kiev, Ukraine | News.com.au – 1/23/2014.  At the end of the clip up top, a protester says to the camera: “What is wrong in Ukraine?  We want a revolution.  What is wrong in Ukraine?  This is what is wrong.  The government is against people.”

Batkivshchyna – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: “The party wants to prosecute “Law enforcement involved in political repression”[79] and to impeach current Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his “anti-people regime” to “return Ukraine to the path of European integration”.

There’s a mighty page ahead of the statement quoted.

My impression is that the Soviet Era really is just ending and it has brought Ukraine — as it has Syria — to a crossroads.  Ukraine’s position is much easier than Syria’s, of course, but The Bear isn’t going away either although by way of Putin the leadership has taken a detour (the big one step backwards) into the 19th Century, God bless him, and that leaves Russia’s future — the two steps forward! — quite open as regards its becoming a responsible state genuinely devoted to internal pan-Slavic interests.

Svoboda (political party) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

According to party leader Oleh Tyahnybok, Svoboda is not an ‘extremist’ party; he said that “depicting nationalism as extremism is a cliché rooted in Soviet and modern globalist propaganda”.[46] He also stated that “countries like” Japan and Israel are fully nationalistic states, “but nobody accuses the Japanese of being extremists”.[46] According to Tyahnybok, the party’s view of nationalism “shouldn’t be mixed with chauvinism or fascism, which means superiority of one nation over another”, and that its platform is called “Our Own Authorities, Our Own Property, Our Own Dignity, on Our Own God-Given Land”.


When I sat down post on BackChannels this morning, I thought I would wrap up global turmoil in a page, starting with Ukraine but moving swiftly to Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and so on, and one might do that from journalism’s “second row seat to history”, which is the World Wide Web, but in depth and expanse, even the smallest conflict in the world turns out incredibly rich, and what the reader-writer is going to get is a snapshot, a glimpse along the surface of political reality.

In schematic, to say Putin –> Ukraine : Ukraine <–> Europe might prove out and be all one needs, but oh the devils in the details!  Nonetheless, I believe it has fallen to Vladimir Putin to return Russia to Russian glory in a Russian manner — and we’re going to see that extraordinary effort and expense in some Bond movie glamour at Winter Olympics in Sochi very soon (not “hot off the press” these days, but one-hour cool on the web: Welcome to Sochi, the security Games – CNN.com – 1/27/2014) — and to question the democratic socialist values of the west with an assertion about feudal power and aristocracy.

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