“Bike Show” agitprop

13 08 2014

An Olympics-scale performance staged on August 9 in the Crimean military port of Sevastopol depicted the official Russian version of Ukraine’s Maidan revolution — complete with huge dancing human swastikas, lynchings, burnings, firings of Kalashnikovs, and symbols depicting the US (dollar signs, eagles, the Eye of Providence), the Right Sector, and the Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics.”

Ostensibly organized by Russian biker club “Night Wolves” (Ночные волки) but clearly with a massive budget, the performance was broadcast nationally on the Rossiya-2 (Russia 2) state television network. Rather like Cirque du Soleil staging some Al-Qaedaesque millenarian nightmare, and bringing to mind Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, it is a disturbing example of what happens when cultural institutions are harnessed in the name of wartime propaganda.

Mat Babiak, editor of the Euromaidan Press web site, provides a detailed analysis (with numerous still photos) here. The original show in its entirety can be viewed on Rossiya-2. The web site for the “Triumphant Bike Show,” which began in Moscow and ended in Sevastopol, is here. For some images of the bikers themselves, see Google’s image database.

While the comments on the Euromaidan site reflect the shock, dismay, and befuddlement of Ukrainian viewers, those on the Russian Twitter feed express the delight of many Russian “patriotic” viewers.

Street: on the Yalta declaration

23 07 2014

In “A Popular Front for Russian Nationalism,” Dale Street of the British socialist Workers Liberty web site provides a thorough analysis (and deconstruction) of the so-called Yalta Declaration. It includes a detailed assessment of who the Ukrainians, Russians, and westerners were who attended the Crimean conference that resulted in this (one-sided) statement.

Snyder on Crimea

7 03 2014

Timothy Snyder continues his series on Russia and Ukraine for the New York Review of Books.

A few excerpts:

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Comment on Crimea & the political spectrum

4 03 2014

This blog makes no claims toward featuring a representative sample of views on the continuing crisis in Ukraine. Such a sample would be impossible to achieve, as there are few reliable standards for determining objectivity in such an open situation.

It has recently featured voices from Ukraine’s Left, in part to make up for an absence of those voices in international coverage. That said, “Right” and “Left” are difficult to parse in today’s Ukraine. I’ve made some attempt to do that previously (e.g., here and here), but semi-authoritarian “oligarchic democracies” like that of post-Soviet Ukraine rarely allow for political positions to render themselves very transparent. Perhaps that will occur in the aftermath of the Maidan; perhaps not.

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AWU statement on Russian intervention

3 03 2014

From the Autonomous Workers Union’s statement on Russian intervention:

“The war can be averted only if proletarians of all countries, first and foremost Ukrainian and Russian, together make a stand against the criminal regime of Putin.

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