Monthly Archives: February 2015

“Land grabbing” Putin calls for a united Ukraine!

Let me start with a value judgment: Vladimir Putin is not that kind of leader I would like to see in my country, Sweden. From the image of him one gets through media he seems to have some typical Russian streaks that wouldn’t fit here. That said, the picture painted of him in Swedish media is ridiculously distorted. By persistently focusing on every minor detail with a negative connotation, and meticulously censoring everything else, our media is almost at a point where they have made Putin look like some new kind of Stalin.

To continue with personal values though: if Sweden had gone through the same total melt-down as Russia did during the 1990s, I would have preferred a leader like Putin to rectify the society. The almost unmatched social catastrophe directly resulting from the capitalist Harmagedon that was forced upon Russia was never mentioned in our media, and is completely wiped out of history. It’s just that 10 million people died, mostly younger men (and much in the same way as the Native Americans: by being deprived of their means of existence). (I wrote about this in March 2014.)

Putin put an end to this genocide and cleaned up most of the mess caused mainly by western economists, and got the society passably working, so much so that some kind of development could be initiated. It naturally took harsh measures, first of all to reclaim some of the country’s wealth stolen by oligarchs in the turmoil of the 90s. This is obviously considered by western rulers and oligarchs as Putin’s deadly sin, an important basis for the hatred against him and marked by our consistent support for Russian billionaires in the Diaspora.

Today’s topic is the evacuation of Debaltseve in Ukraine. My paper DN naturally described this as Putin’s “land grabbing”, just another sign of that man’s diabolic nature. It’s probably supposed to be a token of DNs benevolence that they kept secret a certain text contradicting its thesis. I’m referring to a resolution put forward by Russia to the UN Security Council urging all parties to adhere to the Minsk agreement.

This resolution calls for a “total ceasefire” and a “political solution” that respects the “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine”. To be noted: this is the wording chosen by Russia! Donbas is consequently an indivisible part of Ukraine, clearly stated by Vladimir Putin (that land grabbing thug). What has to be solved is some kind of autonomy within the Ukrainian state for the Donbas region.

The fact that Kiev is sending artillery to kill its own civil citizens must be interpreted as Kiev’s refusal to accept any kind of autonomy for any region. This is a recipe for disaster. A Kiev army manned by conscripted and reluctant soldiers stands no chance against motivated fighters defending their native soil. The violent path chosen by Kiev will lead to a total confrontation taking the word closer to a new global war than ever. The simple way to solve the problem is for Poroshenko to meet with leaders from Donbas and settle the whole thing according to the Minsk agreement. Can’t anyone with his or her head screwed on point this out for Poroshenko or whoever is steering this wreck. Or is it Obama that has to clear his mind and realize what’s obvious?

Will this ceasefire make the real problems obvious?

Ceasefire in Ukraine and Putin seems to accept it, and more than that, even push for it. Strange, since the Prime minister of Ukraine, Arseniy Yatsenjuk, from the very beginning insured us that Putin’s Russia wanted to conquer the entire Ukraine. And this PM should be a most credible man, appointed by a high US official as he is, and fully endorsed all the way by our main paper, Dagens Nyheter (DN).

Well, Yatsenjuk has made a lot of statements, most of them uncritically echoed by western media without any demands for proof. Most every week he has reported on thousands of Russian troops and hundreds of tanks entering his country, probably in total adding up to a full mechanized division by now (if anyone bothered with a calculator). DN has broken a fundamental journalistic rule by simply conveying these obviously propagandistic fabrications, no questions asked.

Indeed, some of Yats’ statements have remained concealed, such as the one he delivered during a visit to Angela Merkel, where he certified that it was Russia that had attacked Germany in WWII, something “that would not be allowed to happen again”. Likewise hidden from public eyes by DN was the infamous claim by a Ukrainian Defense minister that Luhansk had been lost due to the Russians using nuclear weapons. What mainstream media yet not fully realize is that conspiratory and manipulating journalism in a longer run inexorably backfires in a world where more and more people will pick up the missing information on the Internet.

For a year now DN has fed its readers with an almost daily flow of these ill-founded, propagandistic and sometimes simply mendacious articles with the single aim to defame Russia and Putin. It has been an exhibition of low journalistic standards opposing the prime values that proper professional schools on the subject teach.

In this very moment a news flash reveals that Ukrainian forces are leaving Debaltseve (a city in trouble, obviously ignored by Poroshenko during the Minsk talks). Spokesmen for the “pro-Russian separatists” say – according to DN – that hundreds of government troops have surrendered to the rebels, “information not independently confirmed” (information from the other side never requires this reservation by DN).

Still there is a new tone in DN’s reporting just recently, illustrated by another article in today’s paper. Putin’s visit to Hungary was described in a short article without the usual demonizing distortion of facts. And maybe it generalizes.

New York Times has an informative article also today about the really catastrophic abyss in which Ukraine’s economy has fallen. The author points at some crucial sectors where Ukraine’s dependence of Russia for a long times has been decisive, and shows the devastating effects the breakup with Russia have had. After reading this text one is totally puzzled by the naivety the pro-western Ukrainians have shown in believing that western countries would even have the resources to compensate for this huge Russian economic dependency, let alone the political will to do it.

Maybe the naivety of western leaders when searching an easy propaganda victory by punching Putin in the face will rebound too. Hopefully we will see more sobriety in the days to come.

(If the simplest of solutions wasn’t self-evident: autonomy in any form for Donbas, Ukraine a neutral state, no NATO, no EU.)

Not just Auschwitz but Holocaust in its entirety mainly ended by the Russians

27 January, the day in 1945 when Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz, is also instituted by the United Nations as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The fact that Vladimir Putin wasn’t invited to the 70 year commemoration of the liberation has attracted some attention, as we saw. But no greater interest in main media has been shown for the Soviet (mainly Russian) role in terminating the Nazi Holocaust altogether.

More important than discovering Auschwitz was to stop the Nazi murder machine that otherwise could have exterminated millions more. For this the Soviet Union had the overwhelmingly most important role by grinding down the up till then strongest military machinery in history, thus sacrificing around 25 million of its people, in addition to unbelievable destruction of half the country.

It would have been most appropriate to give Russia some recognition on a day like that. Not so in Sweden, although the day was commemorated with a prestigious ceremony in Stockholm’s largest synagogue in the presence of the Swedish King and Queen, the Prime minister, the US ambassador and a number of other dignitaries. Russia is expelled from the “international community” for reacting logical to a Nazi infected coup d’état in a neighboring country, while an ambassador representing a power responsible for major war crimes, the last ones most recently, is treated with outmost respect. Well, Jonathan Smith, you know how it is!

When Dagens Nyheter’s editor in chief Peter Wolodarski acknowledged this Stockholm ceremony in a lead article he did it with dedication and compassion. He described the anti-Semitism of today, and concluded: “The mechanisms of Holocaust must be recognized as latent dangers in all civilized societies. They require perpetual vigilance and resistance”. It’s all admirable, except that his statement challenges his own position on the contemporary Ukraine issue.

Wolodarski’s newspaper is blatantly propagandistic, blaming Russia for every evil event and for being the aggressor (no proof given), while keeping almost totally silent about everything that could cast a shadow on the Ukrainian actions. Among the neglected topics is the key role that Nazism plays in that country’s present and history, a main reason for the revolt in Donbas, where people know what it’s all about, many having lost parents and other relatives murdered by Nazis.

Wolodarski describes how ordinary people in the Holocaust era could be transformed into rapists and murderers, “prepared to shove the city’s Jewish citizens into a barn and set it on fire”. The military historian Anthony Beevor describes in fact this method as a Ukrainian specialty in his book on WWII, adding that Ukraine stood out as the country in which people most willingly and in largest numbers assisted the German Nazis in exterminating Jews, Communists, Poles and other unwanted creatures.

This “Ukrainian specialty” was duplicated in Odessa in 2014, where a group of pro-Russian Odessa inhabitants were captured in a building which was set on fire by pro-Nazi elements that then killed some who tried to flee. This mass murder of more than 40 people took place without DN paying any attention to the historical parallel which could be called ironic had it not been so outrageous. Instead Wolodarski naively writes about the same method of extermination months later, ignorant of its horrible implications.

Ukrainian Nazism has a long and ugly history, dating back to at least the 1930s when the so called Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) “began a campaign of assassinating and otherwise terrorizing people who didn’t agree with them”, according to Russ Bellant, interviewed in The Nation, March 2014. In his book Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party Bellant reveals astonishing facts about the collaboration between revered politicians and pure Nazi elements in USA.

At the end of WWII Eastern Europe was swarming with Nazi collaborators guilty of all kinds of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Looking forward to hard punishment by the Soviet justice system, not known for its humanity, their best option was to flee westwards, and many of them ended up in USA and Canada. There they were kindly taken care of and soon reached some prominence as anti-Soviets. Bellant deals in detail with their connections with the Republican Party and some of the Presidents from that party. His findings are too many to fit in this short blog post, but are very much worth reading (thenation.com).

My country had the “honor” of receiving a number of war criminals from the Baltic States, perpetrators guilty of killing Jews and other “unworthy” humans. They mixed with entirely decent refugees and were never hunted down by Swedish police. For this Sweden has received harsh criticism from the Simon Wiesenthal Center (so much for that civilized country).

The Ukrainian connection is interestingly reflected in a recent vote in the UN General Assembly on a resolution that condemned the glorification of Nazism, brought by Russia, undeniably in response to the raise of neofascism in Ukraine. Three countries voted against the resolution: USA, Canada and Ukraine! 155 voted for and 55 abstained, among them the European countries. A fact to consider: Israel voted for the resolution.

A column like this has no punch line, these battlefields will no doubt be revisited.

Syriza and Podemos – steps on the road

First Syriza in Greece and now Podemos in Spain. Citizens take to the streets for serious efforts to exchange the neoliberal political paradigm for a policy obviously aimed at relieving ordinary people’s grievances. The only thing one likes to ask is: what took them so long?

The answer is not too far fetched. It’s obvious that austerity measures can be pushed quite extensively in time and in suffering before people walk out in protest. Bourgeoisie politics protecting the banks and supporting the rich relies on a middle class, also hurt but not as bad as those below them, but nonetheless defending what they got by sticking to those above. And the enormous propaganda machine to beat is overwhelming.

For us who were young in the 1960s the developments in Greece and Spain evoke memories, and thus also hope for a change of direction. We know from experience that a lot can be achieved. During the 60s the traditional masters of mankind where on the defensive. In Sweden the basis was laid and laws enacted for much improved workers rights, for publicly driven child care to facilitate women’s liberation, for upgrading workers protection, for strengthening job security and for many other progressive measures. NGOs engaged in numerous different topics were growing like mushrooms and it was a vibrant atmosphere of freedom and hope for the future.

Well, the real masters didn’t wear their swords in vain. They made use of their economic power and stroke back, successfully. The period of remarkable liberation was cut rather short. As a Swedish poet and newspaper man said when the defeat seemed inevitable: now it all depends on how the left deals with its disappointment.

Well, the left didn’t deal with anything; they were overpowered by neoliberal forces mobilized among politicians, economic “scientists”, journalists and other pillars of society prepared to fight for the only ones that really profited from it all: the minuscule percentage of the rich that really owned a lot, and ended up owning almost everything. But: not all the gains were lost, the ground level was raised.

Setbacks also this time shouldn’t discourage anyone. The underlying progression is there; the human brain will in the long run prohibit unreasonable developments. We need only to look back and compare our time with any other human era to find evidence for such a trend. But with every battle new territory is gained, and the important thing is to not lose all of it in the next counterattack.

There Is No Alternative: reason will prevail!