Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Ukraine is SO screwed

The situation in the Ukraine is so messed up, it is enough to reduce a grown man to tears of rage and frustration.  Anyone who merely imagines a normal life with a job, family, and a decent roof over his head is already in the category of a hopeless dreamer.  Anyone who can is probably plotting to get out.  The only problem is, the same forces that destroyed Ukraine have already worked their savage destruction in many other places.  So going somewhere else isn't really a viable option.

Some of this damage the Ukrainians inflicted on themselves.  I saw someone from Ukraine commenting that IMF reforms were welcome because the country really needed reform.  Such delusions are usually self-inflicted.  But MOST of the damage came from without.  Victoria Nuland was caught bragging that USA spent $5 billions to destroy her fledgeling democracy.  The neoliberals who have looted Russia since 1991 have also been stealing full-time in Ukraine.  And this corruption has resulted in massive and unpayable debts.  So in the midst of a putsch, Ukraine has been throw to the tender mercies of the IMF.

It is almost too ghastly to watch.  But Andre Vltchek put up a photo essay on the aftermath of the USA / EU - sponsored coup.  I could have included the pictures but they can be viewed at the link at the end.  And Robert Parry's description of the economic torture the IMF intends to inflict is both graphic and accurate.

The good people on earth wish the Ukrainians a better future than they have in store for them.  Unfortunately, the bad guys really are in control these days.

A Photo Essay

Ukraine, a Fascist Coup?

by ANDRE VLTCHEK  APRIL 6, 2014

Ukraine is burning, it is going to the dogs; it has been taken over by an illegitimate government engorged with fascists, neo-Nazis and simple pro-Western opportunists, as well as countless EU and US-sponsored members of various NGO’s.

The West has destabilized an entire nation, supporting right-wingers and fascists. Then it began spreading anti-Russian propaganda, even before Crimea had voted to join its historic homeland.

Everything was well planned, with Machiavellian precision. The EU was hoping to get its hands on the abundant natural resources, heavy industry and a well-educated and cheap labor force. In exchange, it was willing to give… nothing. No sane government would be willing to accept such a deal. Therefore, the only way to push through its agenda, the West began supporting violence and terror, as well as the fascist, neo-Nazi groups. A similar approach is being used by the US and EU in Venezuela, Syria and even Thailand.

Just a few days ago, I concluded my 2,000-kilometer drive, from Kiev to Odessa, and then to the border with Transnistria and Kharkov. I visited destroyed and abandoned villages – a result of the ‘collapse of the Soviet Union’ and Ukrainian flirtation with the market economy, its obedience to the IMF and World Bank. I spoke to workers at an enormous steel plant in Krivoi Rog, located in the country’s industrial heartland. I met several leading intellectuals at the university city of Kharkiv, and I stood on the Ukrainian-Russian border, observing and photographing several Ukrainian tanks and armored vehicles.

All that I witnessed will be included in my in-depth report, which will be published, next week, in CounterPunch.

But right now, I would like to share some images with our readers. Those that I took, and those taken by two brave Ukrainian reporters: Andriy Manchuk and Andrey Nedzelnitsky.

I took the photographs very recently, this week and last week, while both Manchuk and Nedzelnitsky worked in Kiev in January and February 2014.

Andriy Manchuk wrote for this photo essay:
The photos were taken by me, and by the Kiev-based activist Andrey Nedzelnitsky, between January & March 2014, during the armed political confrontations in the center of the capital. I took some photos on 19th January, and 18th-20th February, in the periods when the intensification of events were at their peak. During those days, supporters of the opposition backed by the EU and US turned to violence, with the EU and US directing attempts to seize power. The result of these actions was the establishment of a new government – a coalition of neoliberals and ultra-right politicians, as well as the unleashing of a rightwing terror campaign – unseen in the history of independent Ukraine.

You can see in the photo series, the most significant moments of the last three months in Ukraine: the violent clashes between units of rightwing football fans and far-right militants and the police; burning barricades, marches by far-right paramilitaries with Nazi symbols, the moments of the demolition of the monuments to communists, and participants of the workers uprising of 1918, the public desecration of the communist red flag seized by the neo-Nazis in the offices of the Communists Party of Ukraine. You can also see the moment of the brutal assault and beating up of the anti-Maidan supporters – it took place on the Maidan itself and as a result of my work, the right-wing fighters grabbed my camera. There is also one photo of Arseniy Yatsenyuk – the current acting PM of Ukraine – who recently met with President Obama in Washington, and negotiated the possibility of obtaining loans while agreeing to implement brutal anti-social, neoliberal reforms that will affect millions of Ukrainian citizens. This was the very price of the victory of the rightwing and neoliberal politicians that organized and controlled the Euro-Maidan movement.”
The photos of my Ukrainian comrades were mainly taken by their mobile phones, as cameras were often destroyed or ‘confiscated’ by those self-proclaimed and later glorified by Western media, pro-European ‘democrats’.

The maliciousness and brutality of the Empire, the propaganda and lies that the mass media are spreading, are reaching top gear. They are increasingly determined, but also progressively primitive and desperate. It must be obvious even to a child that the Emperor is naked!

Photos: Andre Vltchek, Andriy Manchuk and Andrey Nedzelnitsky: more

Ukrainians Get IMF's Bitter Medicine

by Robert Parry | April 3, 2014

It’s a safe bet that most of the Ukrainians who flooded Maidan Square in Kiev in February did not do so because they wanted the International Monetary Fund to make their lives even more miserable by slashing subsidies for heat, gutting pensions and devaluing the currency to make everyday goods more expensive.

But thanks to the U.S.-backed coup that ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych and replaced him with a regime including far-right parties, super-rich ”oligarchs” and technocrats with little sympathy for the suffering of average people, that’s exactly what happened. Although lacking legitimacy that would come from national elections, the coup regime pushed through the demands of the Washington-based IMF.

The process began just 10 days after the violent Feb. 22 coup that forced Yanukovych to flee for his life. IMF officials landed in Kiev on March 4 to hammer out a deal that acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, himself a chilly bank technocrat, has acknowledged is “very unpopular, very difficult, very tough.”

What is also striking about the IMF plan is that it puts virtually all the pain on average Ukrainians. There is nothing in the economic “reform” package that extracts some of the ill-gotten gains from Ukraine’s ten or so “oligarchs,” the multimillionaires and even billionaires who largely plundered Ukraine’s wealth after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

There is no plan for demanding that these “oligarchs” kick in some percentage of their net worth to help their own country. Instead, hard-pressed citizens of the United States and Europe are expected to carry the financial load.

The U.S. Congress voted by large bipartisan majorities to have the American taxpayers provide $1 billion in aid to Ukraine’s coup regime. Further, the IMF predicts that its $18 billion in loan guarantees could generate up to $27 billion from the international community over the next two years.

Though the IMF plan includes some promises about fighting corruption, there is no requirement that the West’s billions of dollars will go toward government programs that might actually strengthen Ukraine and help the average Ukrainian by putting the jobless to work. Nothing about upgrading the infrastructure or providing improved educational opportunities, better health care and other programs that might reduce some of Ukraine’s social pressures and make it a more viable nation.

For instance, investing in roads and rail could make Ukraine a more attractive investment opportunity for agricultural corporations eying the country’s rich soil which historically has made it the breadbasket for much of Central and Eastern Europe.

Cookie-Cutter Approach

Instead, the IMF has applied its usual cookie-cutter approach toward a troubled nation: reduce public spending, slash social programs, eliminate energy subsidies, devalue the currency, raise taxes, impose triggers for more austerity if inflation rises, etc.

Some economists project that the cumulative impact of the IMF “reforms” could result in a 3 percent contraction of Ukraine’s already depressed economy, which fell into a severe recession after the Wall Street crash of 2008 and has been inching along at almost zero growth the past two years. But Yatsenyuk warned parliament that the drop in the GDP could be more like 10 percent if corrective actions were not taken.

But those actions will inflict more hardship on the Ukrainian people — their “99 percent” — while giving Ukraine’s “1 percent” pretty much a pass. Yet, beyond fairness, there’s also the question of the legitimacy of the coup regime taking on new debt obligations without the consent of the Ukrainian people.

After the violent ouster of elected President Yanukovych on Feb. 22 — after he rejected the IMF’s terms – the post-coup parliament cobbled together a new government which involved handing out four ministries to far-right parties whose armed neo-Nazi militias had spearheaded the coup.

Yatsenyuk was the personal choice of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland to lead the new regime. Weeks before the coup, Nuland was caught discussing with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt who should serve in a new government. Nuland said in a phone call to Pyatt that was intercepted and posted online that “Yats is the guy” — and he was installed as prime minister once Yanukovych was gone. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “What Neocons Want from Ukraine Crisis.”]

Ukraine’s parliament has set a presidential election for May 25, and protesters in the Maidan also sought quick parliamentary elections. But Western diplomats have been urging a delay in the parliamentary balloting as well as postponement of the most onerous IMF provisions until after the May 25 vote. That way the election will have come and gone before the beleaguered Ukrainians truly understand how painful the IMF austerity will be.

As the New York Times reported, “Senior Western officials said on [March 26] that the loans from the United States and from the I.M.F. would be structured to get the government through its first few months without undue political upheaval, putting off some of the more difficult changes until after the May election. The West has also chosen not to press for early parliamentary elections, one senior official said, because ‘the priority now is stabilization in Kiev and de-escalation with Moscow.’”

Given such bleak economic prospects — and evidence of Western manipulation of the political process – is it any wonder that more than 90 percent of the voters in Crimea opted to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia? more

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