Separatists vs. leftists (& an oligarch)

20 05 2014

Developments in eastern Ukraine have been taking some interesting turns.

Among the themes I’ve been seeing in the coverage are more detailed profiles of the pro-Russian separatists, who are looking ever more like a motley bunch. As noted on this blog before, many have links to far-right groups in Russia. (Some of those groups — like Russkaia Pravda, with its bizarre conspiracy tales of how the Jewish-Masonic “Kiev junta” is planning to massively resettle Hasidic Jews from Manhattan into eastern Ukraine — are pretty outlandish.)

University of Manitoba historian Myroslav Shkandrij‘s account of the Russian mercenearies in Donbas details the criminal and/or neo-Nazi backgrounds of about a dozen of the most prominent pro-Russian separatist figures, including Strelkov/Girkin, “Babai”/Mozhaev, “Dingo”/Ponomarev, and several others. Collectively, their prospects seem to be declining.

Another theme is that left-wing eastern Ukrainians — from coal miners and steel workers to national-communists and anarcho-syndicalists — have either begun to clearly distance themselves from the separatists, or have been doing that all along (if less noticeably).

An example is this interview with Mykola Tsikhno, co-ordinator of the National Communist Front, which models itself on the national communists who were prominent in Ukraine in the 1920s (before getting squashed by Stalinism). Another is this interview with Mykola Volynko, head of the Trade Union of Donbas Miners.

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Neef: Akhmetov, Firtash, & the revolution

3 04 2014

While Christian Neef’s article “Yanukovych’s Fall: The Power of Ukraine’s Billionaires” was published over a month ago, I had neglected to mention it at the time.

The article provides useful context for understanding the role of two of the most powerful oligarchic backers of the Yanukovych regime, Rinat Akhmetov and Dmitry Firtash, in the fall of Yanukovych and the transition to the current interim government.

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