COVID 19 disaster in Ukraine


This Associated Press video says about itself:

(18 May 2020) Doctors in Ukraine are struggling against the coronavirus in deplorable conditions, working with substandard equipment that breaks down frequently, lacking drugs to treat patients, and all the while being paid low wages.

A corruption-plagued economy, weakened by civil war, has brought the country’s health care system to the point of meltdown – and it’s now being overwhelmed by the pandemic.

Svetlana Padynich works 12-hour shifts as a medic in an ambulance crew that takes COVID-19 patients to hospital in Chernivtsi in western Ukraine.

She’s concerned at the number of workers at her ambulance station who have fallen ill recently.

A week ago, one of her colleagues died of pneumonia caused by the virus. Another four have also come down with pneumonia but are in a stable condition.

Padynich wears an FFP2 mask, which offers only limited protection, and she wears another medical mask underneath it.

Protective gear is in short supply, with most of it coming from private donors, and deliveries have been irregular.

Because of that, the 42-year-old medic says she has not seen her mother since the start of the outbreak.

Medical workers account for about a fifth of all Ukraine’s coronavirus cases, with more than 50 getting infected daily.

Overall, the country has recorded more than 18,000 cases, with over 500 deaths.

The city of Chernivtsi and the surrounding region has been a hot spot of contagion, with 2,647 confirmed cases.

The outbreak in Ukraine has been exacerbated by the thousands of citizens who had temporary jobs in Italy, Spain and other European countries.

Many of them returned home, and some brought the infection with them.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s administration inherited an underfunded health care system that was further crippled by a reform launched by his predecessor that drastically cut state subsidies.

The subsidies previously covered wages for health care workers and hospital utility bills.

Under a new stage of the medical reforms that began last month, however, those funds have been sharply reduced, putting many clinics on the verge of closure.

Zelenskiy has acted to soften the impact, offering new subsidies to COVID-19 medics that quadruple their monthly wage.

Meanwhile, further challenges could lie ahead.

Under pressure from business leaders and farmers, the government last week relaxed the lockdown it imposed two months ago, and gave the green light for some stores, beauty parlours and other ventures to reopen.

Doctors fear this could trigger a new wave of contagion.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

With 1,847 new infections, Ukraine has set a new daily record. This brings the total number of registered infections in Ukraine to 90,000. More than 2000 people died from the consequences of the coronavirus. According to the Reuters news agency, the increase in the number of infections is due to too rapid relaxation of measures. …

In principle, all schools in Ukraine would reopen on September 1. But in areas labeled red zones, schools will remain closed.

Things may yet get much worse in Ukraine, where the pandemic started relatively late. As the Ukrainian healthcare system has been ravaged by privatisation.

Anti-Semitic police in Ukraine


This 8 May 2020 Radio Free Europe video says about itself:

Not Tested, Not Protected, Badly Paid: Ukraine’s Medics Speak Out

The Ukrainian government promised that all medical personnel would be tested for COVID-19 once every five days, but doctors have told RFE/RL that has not happened. Medics also said that there were shortages of protective gear and that government promises of increased pay have not been met.

And big health care problems are unfortunately not the only problems in Ukraine.

This 27 April 2014 video says about itself:

USA: American Jews rally against anti-Semitism in Ukraine

W/S Jews stand behind barrier while police watches

M/S Memorial outside of Ukrainian embassy

C/U Ukrainian embassy sign

SOT Dov Hikind, New York Assemblyman (English): “And one of the things when I think about the Ukraine, and I’m sure there are a lot of wonderful people there, but let me tell you what my mother used to say, that the Ukrainians who worked with the Nazis were worse than the Nazis. That’s what my mother always told us in our home, in terms of brutality and so on.”

M/S Memorial outside of Ukrainian Embassy

C/U Ukrainian Holocaust survivors light memorial candles

SOT Ukrainian holocaust survivor, Vladimir Ripa (English): “My parents, my brother, are not coming today, because they are not alive today. I tell you, no holocaust, no, never again.”

C/U Cantor sings a prayer

M/S Ukrainian Jews sing prayer …

Members of the Jewish community, including Ukrainian holocaust survivors and US state politicians, protested outside of the Ukrainian and Iranian embassies Sunday morning, to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who has been a leading figure in the lobby for deporting former Nazi citizens, warned attendees about “Ukrainians who worked with the Nazis“, saying they were “worse than the Nazis.”

Ukrainian holocaust survivor and president of the Holocaust Survivors Charity, Vladimir Ripa, lit candles during a solemn prayer that was accompanied by rabbinical prayers, and spoke about his brother and parents who were victims of the holocaust.

By Steve Sweeney, 13 May 2020:

Ukrainian Jewish groups warn of ‘open anti-semitism’ after police demand list of Jews in organised-crime probe

UKRAINIAN police have been accused of “open anti-semitism” after a high-ranking official demanded a list of all Jews in the western city of Kolomyya as part of investigations into organised crime.

The chilling request was made in February, according to a copy of the document posted on Twitter on Sunday by Ukrainian Jewish Committee director Eduard Dolinsky.

“Please provide us the following information regarding the Orthodox Jewish religious community of Kolomyya, namely: The organisation’s charter; list of members of the Jewish religious community, with indication of data, mobile phones and their places of residence,” the letter stated.

It was signed by Myhaylo Bank, a high-ranking official in Ukraine’s national police force with responsibility for organised crime, who did not explain why officers are interested in the city’s Jewish community.

Spokesman for the Ukrainian Jewish Committee Jacob Zalichker refused to supply the information requested by Mr Bank and said the community would only responded if presented with a court order.

“It’s a total disgrace and open anti-semitism,” Mr Dolinsky told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

“It’s especially dangerous when it comes from a law-enforcement agency that we have to fight the very thing it is perpetrating.”

The city of Kolomyya lies around 250 miles south-west of the Ukrainian capital Kiev and has a sizeable Jewish community.

The scourge of anti-semitism is on the rise in Ukraine. Shocking incidents and attacks on Jews led by far-right nationalist groups and politicians were revealed last year in a 23-page document published by the United Jewish Community of Ukraine.

It coincides with a rehabilitation of Nazis, including legislation making it a criminal offence to criticise World War II collaborator Stepan Bandera.

Earlier this year, Kiev city council announced a programme for a year of celebrations of the birthdays of individuals the Communist Party of Ukraine has described as “Nazi killers, thugs, executioners and anti-semites.”

This includes the centenary of the birth of Nazi collaborator and war criminal Vasyl Levkovych, who, as head of the Ukrainian auxiliary police in Dubno, organised anti-semitic pogroms and the murder of 5,000 Jews and thousands of Poles.

Also included in the celebrations is the 115th birthday of notorious anti-semite Ulas Samchuk, a member of the extremist Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists, who described the murder of the Jews of Kiev, including thousands of children, as “a great day.”

US Ukraine war fighters indicted for murder


This 28 December 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

In the spring of 2015, former U.S. soldier Craig Lang traveled to Ukraine and joined a paramilitary group

Four years later, Lang is under house arrest in Ukraine. … Lang is facing charges in the U.S. for allegedly killing a Florida couple during a stint back home last year. …

But unlike most European nations, Ukraine has no extradition treaty with the U.S. …

U.S. law enforcement officials describe Lang as an “absolutely heartless” criminal who, along with another ex-U.S. soldier, robbed and fatally shot a middle-age couple 18 times in April 2018. He has spent the past five years as a mercenary globetrotting among armed conflicts in Africa, South America and Europe. And in addition to the double murder, he has been charged with passport fraud and named in federal court documents as a mentor to​ an Army soldier​ arrested for allegedly plotting to bomb U.S. news stations. …

An Army soldier turned international fugitive

A native of North Carolina, Lang joined the Army at 18, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army discharged him six and a half years later, after he went AWOL and drove from Texas to North Carolina with his military equipment, telling people he wanted to murder his wife, the Ayden police chief told local news outlets.

“I told my commanders repeatedly that I was going to murder her,” Lang would later tell VICE in Ukraine. “The motherf—— thought I was bluffing.”

The following spring, he flew to Ukraine to join a paramilitary militia called the Right Sector, according to his testimony in Ukrainian court.

He’s not the only U.S. citizen drawn to Ukraine’s war. Ultranationalist battalions like the Right Sector​ have become a destination for other former American soldiers with far-right political leanings​.

In Ukraine, Lang would link up with Alex Zwiefelhofer, then a 19-year-old from Wisconsin who had deserted the U.S. Army to become a foreign fighter, first in France and then in Ukraine. Zwiefelhofer is now implicated in the Florida killings alongside Lang, according to U.S. law enforcement. …

Lang and Zwiefelhofer left the Right Sector together for South Sudan in 2017, in hopes of fighting al-Shabbab, a Qaeda affiliate based in East Africa, court documents say. But Sudanese officials denied them entry and sent them back to Kenya to obtain the proper visas.

They were deported from Kenya shortly afterward. Lang’s passport was canceled, due to unpaid child support, prosecutors say. Zwiefelhofer was booked into jail for sexual exploitation of a minor almost immediately after landing in the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, after airport Customs officers found incriminating videos on his cellphone, according to the complaint. He was released on bond and then left the state.

In February and March 2018, Lang and Zwiefelhofer chatted online about Venezuela — specifically, about their intentions to join military-like raids, fight against the Venezuelan government and “kill people.”

By Jacob Crosse in the USA:

US military veterans who fought as mercenaries for Ukrainian fascists indicted on double murder charges

31 March 2020

After serving US imperialism first in the US military, then as volunteer mercenaries in the Ukrainian neo-fascist paramilitary organization Right Sector, Alex Zwiefelhofer, 22, and Craig Lang, 29, are awaiting trial, and in Lang’s case extradition from Ukraine back to the US, for the 2018 double murder and robbery of Florida couple Deana, 51, and Serafin “Danny” Lorenzo, 53. If found guilty the two could face the death penalty under federal law.

Testimony obtained from Zwiefelhofer during an FBI investigation into the murders reveals that Zwiefelhofer and Lang orchestrated the robbery in order to fund a trip to Venezuela. Upon entering the country, the pair planned to join a right-wing anti-communist death squad with the explicit aim of overthrowing the … government of Nicolás Maduro and to kill “communists”, This is just the latest example of US imperialism fostering fascistic and racist elements in order to carry out its strategic geopolitical aims.

Lang has also been named as a “mentor” in a criminal case involving US Army soldier Jarret William Smith, 24. Smith pleaded guilty this past February to two counts of “distributing information related to explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction.” Smith, a self-described “anti-kosmick Satanist”, joined the US army as an infantryman in June 2017. After completing basic training, Smith was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, where he was arrested in September 2018 after communicating instructions on how to make “improvised explosive devices” to an undercover FBI agent. Smith is currently scheduled to be sentenced on May 18, where he faces the possibility of up to 20 years in federal prison.

According to the plea agreement, Smith had provided a list of potential targets to the agent through the messaging app Telegram. Lang allegedly recommended former Democratic congressman and one-time presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke and a “major American news network”, as well as the address of an alleged member of “antifa” in Michigan, as desirable targets for a right-wing terrorist bombing.

Prior to joining the US military in 2016, Smith had communicated with Lang over Facebook. At the time, Lang was in Ukraine, fighting in the Donbas with Zwiefelhofer. Both had joined the neo-fascist Right Sector, a far-right nationalist paramilitary organization with close ties to the current Ukrainian security state. Right Sector was instrumental in the 2014 right-wing NATO-backed putsch that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych and installed the US-friendly Petro Poroshenko.

Through Poroshenko, US imperialism funneled billions of dollars in military arms to organizations such as Right Sector and the Azov Battalion. Poroshenko was replaced by former comedian Volodymr Zelensky last year, who has continued to appeal to the far-right after failing to reach a cease-fire with Russian-backed separatists in east Ukraine.

Through Facebook, Lang assured Smith that if he wanted to fight in Ukraine, including with the fascist Azov Battalion, he could get him in contact with a screener for the organization. Lang warned Smith, however, “if you come to this unit and the government comes to shut down the unit, you will be asked to fight. You may also be asked to kill certain people who become on the bad graces of certain people.” Lang and Smith continued to communicate over social media up until Smith’s arrest last year.

Zwiefelhofer, a Wisconsin native, is currently awaiting trial in a Fort Myers, Florida, prison while Lang, of Ayden, North Carolina, is currently being held on a US extradition request in the city of Vinnytsya, Ukraine. Lang’s lawyers have argued against his extradition back to the US as he is being charged with double murder which carries the possibility of a death sentence in the US under federal law.

In contrast to award-winning WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, who has been denied bail even as the deadly coronavirus spreads throughout Belmarsh prison, Lang has been granted “house arrest” while he awaits further extradition hearings, which according to his lawyers could take “years” to resolve. In light of this, Lang’s lawyers plan on submitting a request to reduce his current house arrest status to the more lenient “night-time house arrest” later this month.

In contrast to Judge Vanessa Barrister’s courtroom, which is lined with US lawyers and attorneys, keeping an ever-watchful eye over the proceedings, the US embassy in Kiev couldn’t be bothered to write out the extradition request for Lang in Cyrillic, prompting a delay that allowed Lang to be released for more than two weeks before he was rearrested in October of last year. For the US ruling class, the exposure of their war crimes is a much greater evil compared to wanton murder, in which they regularly indulge.

Zwiefelhofer joined the military in 2015 and was discharged in 2018 after going absent without leave from Fort Bragg shortly after completing basic and air assault training. Zwiefelhofer proceeded to fly to Europe where he planned on joining the French Foreign Legion. However, after he was denied entry into the Legion, he ventured to Ukraine where he joined Lang in the Right Sector. Together, the two became comrades in arms where, according to Zwiefelhofer’s Instagram account, they committed “war crimes” resulting in a “price on my head in 7 countries.”

By the time Lang was 22 years old he had already served two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He joined the military in 2008 when he was 17 years old, according to a 2016 interview with Vice magazine, to escape a dysfunctional home. When Lang was 12 years old, his father attempted to murder his stepmother, resulting in his father going to jail and Lang living with his stepmother.

During his last tour in Afghanistan in 2012, Lang’s Humvee was struck with an improvised explosive device. The resulting explosion and traumatic brain injury left Lang deaf in one ear and severed several of the nerves connecting his irises to his brain, leaving him partially blind. Following the explosion, Lang was stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. While there, Lang’s pregnant wife sent him videos of her sleeping with other men. The enraged Lang loaded his vehicle with military equipment including assault rifles, landmines and body armor and proceeded to drive non-stop to North Carolina, where he set up a perimeter of land mines around his wife’s condominium and threatened to murder her.

Lang was eventually detained by SWAT and dishonorably discharged from the military. He spent less than six months in jail, in part because he says of his documented history of post-traumatic stress disorder as well as the fact that he warned his chain-of-command of his impending actions. Lang told Vice, “I told my commanders repeatedly that I was going to murder her. The motherfuckers thought I was bluffing.” Lang lost all disability payments and military benefits as well as his home and vehicle following his incarceration and subsequent divorce, leaving him six figures in debt.

Unable to find and keep steady work, including a short-lived stint in the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota in 2015, Lang returned to the only job he had ever held for more than six months his whole life. After being rejected by Blackwater, Lang found a welcome home with the Right Sector. Writing in a June 2016 Facebook post, Lang looked forward to fighting in Ukraine so that “my children…may they be able to walk in the streets of Kyiv having known what their father defended and the struggle of our second home” and to fight “the communist Putin.”

After a year of fighting together in the Donbas, which Lang described in a British documentary as mundane “trench warfare”, Zwiefelhofer and Lang flew to Kenya, where they planned on sneaking into South Sudan to allegedly fight the al-Shabaab terrorist network. They were both apprehended by Kenyan authorities at the border and deported back to the United States.

On August 1, 2017, upon arriving in Charlotte, North Carolina, after being deported, Zwiefelhofer was interviewed by Customs and Border Protection and an FBI agent. They searched his phone and allegedly found child porn, which resulted in Zwiefelhofer spending three months in jail before he bonded out, returning to Wisconsin to live with his father.

He proceeded to skip out on his bail hearing, which resulted in an arrest warrant being issued in April 2018. A cursory search of Zwiefelhofer’s public Instagram page, which he’s had since at least April 2016, reveals his intimate ties to Right Sector; there are several photos of Zwiefelhofer brandishing machine guns alongside fellow fascists in Right Sector.

Despite being out on bail, Zwiefelhofer was able to board a Greyhound bus from Minneapolis to South Florida, where he reunited with Lang at a La Quinta hotel in Miami on April 5, 2018. It was during this time, according to documents submitted by the government, that the two planned their robbery to fund their paramilitary excursion to Venezuela.

An FBI review of Zwieflhofer’s cell phone revealed “multiple searches of videos to include a particular scene from a movie in which subjects were shown inside a vehicle and then ambushed by multiple shooters,” as well as the query on “how to smuggle yourself into South America.”

On April 7, 2018, Zwiefelhofer listed several pistols and AR-15 components for sale on the website Armslist. The next day, Danny Lorenzo texted Zwiefelhofer in regard to the weapons, and a $3,000 sale price was agreed upon. Lorenzo withdrew $3,000 from his bank account the same day and shortly after 7:00 p.m., the Lorenzos left their home outside of Tampa, Florida, to meet Zwiefelhofer and Lang at the agreed-upon rendezvous point—a church parking lot south of Fort Myers, roughly two hours away.

Cell phone tracking data obtained by the FBI shows Zwiefelhofer’s cell phone messages correspond to “Jeremy” the seller listed on Armslist whom Danny thought he was talking to. At 10:37 p.m., Danny texted “Jeremy” advising that he had arrived at the church; 18 minutes later, emergency services received multiple calls of gunfire in the parking lot.

Sheriff’s deputies located the Lorenzos’ vehicle along with 63 shell casings in the church parking lot. Danny was shot seven times, while his wife Deanna, who had never left the passenger seat, was shot 11 times, a majority in the face, neck and chest. According to ballistic evidence gathered by the state, there were two shooters firing different weapons of different calibers at the same time.

According to the FBI affidavit, Zwiefelfhofer and Lang fled the state after the murder/robbery, but not to Venezuela. Instead, Zwiefelhofer returned to Wisconsin, where he was arrested almost a year later for attempting to purchase a weapon without a license. Eventually, investigators linked his cell phone footage to the murders, and he was formally charged in September 2019 along with Lang with robbery and the double murder of Serafin and Deana Lorenzo.

An April 8, 2019, Instagram photo features Zwiefelhofer with a Adolf Hitler mustache, one year after the alleged shooting took place, along with an April 14, 2019, self-portrait of Zwiefelhofer, pistol in hand, with the caption, “Feeling cute, might join and [sic] ultra nationalist militia or make the army times later, idk.”

Instead of returning to North Carolina or proceeding to Venezuela, Lang was able to travel to the Pacific Northwest where he sold some of his guns at a pawn shop before fleeing the country, first to Colombia and then back to Ukraine to join up with the Right Sector again, demonstrating the ease with which fascists can travel around the world under the watchful eye of the US intelligence agencies. While in the Ukraine, he managed to get married and, according to his lawyer, Lang “has found a new life, a new love, a new family.”

It isn’t surprising that the US and Ukrainian governments have been slow to process Lang’s extradition. The ultra-nationalist government in Kiev, with the full backing of US, German and French imperialism, has welcomed the return of fascism to prepare for war with Russia. The government of President Zelensky has remained silent even as associates of the Right Sector are implicated in political murders across the country, including the gunning down of children and acid attacks on politicians. As long as Lang, and any other fascists are willing to fight for Washington’s imperialist interests, their heinous crimes will be ignored or downplayed to facilitate their quick return to the front lines.

Ukrainian neo-nazis murder three-year-old child


Three-year-old Oleksandr Sobolev, son of politician Vyacheslav Sobolev, shot to death in Kyiv on December 1, 2019 [Source: Facebook, Inna Soboleva]

This photo shows three-year-old Ukrainian boy Oleksandr Sobolev, murdered by ‘Right Sector’ neo-nazis in Kyiv on December 1, 2019.

By Jason Melanovski:

Ukraine: Three-year-old boy killed in attempted political assassination by the far right

6 December 2019

A botched assassination attempt against Ukrainian politician and businessman Vyacheslav Sobolev has resulted in the death of his three-year-old son, Alexander.

While Sobolev and his wife were leaving his high-end restaurant “Mario” in Kiev this past Sunday, right-wing thugs opened fire on Sobolev’s Range Rover, missing him but hitting his son who was seated in the back of the vehicle. The three-year-old died on the way to the hospital.

Police later apprehended two men who had fled the scene in a black Lexus sedan, Oleksiy Semenov, 19, and Andrei Lavrega, 20. Both are veterans of the war in Donbass in eastern Ukraine where they served as members of the fascist Right Sector’s paramilitary formation until June of this year.

The Right Sector was instrumental in the US- and EU-backed, fascist-led coup in February 2014 that toppled the Yanukovitch government and replaced it with a pro-Western and anti-Russian regime. Since then, the Right Sector has been among the far-right forces that have been heavily involved in the war against Russian-backed separatists in East Ukraine.

As is usual when members of neo-Nazi groups carry out political attacks, the Right Sector and their former battalion commander fraudulently attempted to distance themselves from Lavrega and Semenov, claiming they had lost contact with them since they left Ukraine’s armed forces in June. These claims are not credible.

Lavrega, who has been identified as the principal shooter in the killing, has been a member of the Right Sector for at least half a decade. He had participated in the Maidan movement of 2014 as a member of the Right Sector and perfected his shooting skills as a sniper killing separatist soldiers in eastern Ukraine. According to his Right Sector battalion commander, Andrei Herhert, Lavrega—also known as “Quiet”—was “one of the best snipers in the war” and “very ideological”.

As a thanks for his service to the right-wing Kiev government, Lavrega received a military decoration from former President Petro Poroshenko for “courage” just last year, in October of 2018.

It is yet unclear exactly why Sobolev—who currently serves as a deputy in Kiev’s Regional Council as a member of Poroshenko’s political party—was targeted for assassination by these fascist thugs, but Sobolev’s business ties to separatist-controlled regions of eastern Ukraine may have run afoul of right-wing forces within the Ukrainian state.

In 1997, Sobolev founded a popular supermarket called “Obzhora” in Donetsk, now the capital of the separatist-controlled Donetsk People’s Republic, and subsequently became wealthy. From 2010 to 2011, Sobolev served as an executive of Ukraine’s state energy company Naftogaz, which is rife with corruption and currently embroiled in the Trump impeachment scandal in Washington.

When the war broke out between the US-installed Kiev government and regions of eastern Ukraine in 2014, several of Sobolev’s supermarket stores found themselves operating under separatist control. In 2016, Ukrainian prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into ties between Sobolev’s supermarket chain and separatist forces. Sobolev maintained that he had sold his share in 2007 and no longer owned stake in the company.

Other reports have suggested that the assassination attempt on Sobolev may have come from rival Donetsk businessman and a former judge of the Ukrainian Economic Supreme Court Arthur Emelyanov. Following the death of his son, Sobolev called for both Emelyanov and another oligarch and associate of former President Poroshenko, Alexander Granovsky, to take lie detector tests along with six other individuals.

Whoever is ultimately responsible for ordering this political assassination and the murder of the three-year-old boy, it is clear that the same far-right forces that were instrumental in the coup in February 2014 and the civil war are now being employed to carry out political assassinations by the Ukrainian oligarchy.

Since the 2014 coup, the number of targeted political assassinations by right-wing neo-Nazi groups like C14 and the Right Sector has skyrocketed. At least 15 people have been murdered in such hit jobs by the far right since 2014. Among them was the well-known Belarusian journalist Pavel Sheremet and the politician Kateryna Handziuk, who was killed in a horrific acid attack by right-wing thugs last year.

In virtually all these cases, the perpetrators have been protected from serious legal prosecution. One of the murderers of Handziuk received a barely three-year prison sentence. A critical role in shielding the neo-Nazis is played by Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs’ Arsen Avakov, who controls the country’s police force and possesses well-known ties to Ukraine’s most notorious fascist militia, the Azov Battalion.

Avakov is one of the few members of the previous Poroshenko government that have remained in the current Cabinet of Ministers under President Volodmyr Zelensky. He was recently praised by former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch while testifying before the House of Representatives regarding the Trump impeachment investigation (see also: “The impeachment crisis and American imperialism”).

President Zelensky, who was elected in April this year on the basis of promises that he would bring an end to the widely despised civil war in eastern Ukraine that has claimed the lives of over 13,000 people, has maintained a conspicuous silence on this latest political assassination attempt by the far right. Instead, the day after the murder, he posted a message on Facebook to honor two Ukrainian soldiers who were killed while fighting in eastern Ukraine this past weekend.

Ukrainian nazi vandalism against Jewish author’s statue


A monument to Yiddish author Sholem Aleichem is seen vandalized with swastikas in Kiev, Ukraine

From CNN in the USA, 25 November 2019:

Ukrainian police are investigating a case of anti-Semitic vandalism after a monument to a prominent Jewish writer was vandalized with swastikas. …

Images on Ukrainian social media showed the monument, located across from the Brodsky Synagogue in central Kiev …

Ukraine has a large and thriving Jewish community, but community activists also report frequent cases of anti-Semitic vandalism. …

Born in 1859 in Russia, Sholem Aleichem was a Yiddish author and playwright known in the United States as the “Yiddish Mark Twain“, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Americans would know his writing best from the musical “Fiddler on the Roof”. His works were adapted into the script surrounding the musical numbers.

Several of his other works were adapted and instrumental in the founding of the Yiddish Art Theatre in New York City.

Before his death in 1916, Aleichem published more than 40 novels, stories, and plays in Yiddish.

Last November, a man caused a commotion in a Baltimore theater last week by yelling “Heil Hitler! Heil Trump!” during a “Fiddler on the Roof” performance.

UKRAINIAN courts were today condemned for upholding a ban on the only newspaper opposing the country’s “oligarch-nazi regime.” Founded in 1897, Rabochaya Gazeta was banned earlier this year under Ukraine’s reactionary anti-communist laws after it published articles quoting Karl Marx: here.

Racism in Ukrainian football, victim punished


This 13 June 2019 video about a Brazilian footballer, now playing in Ukraine, is called Taison Freda 2019 ● Ultimate Playmaking, Passes, Skills & Goals.

There is quite often bigotry and violence in Ukraine. Against Jews, against Roma, against LGBTQ people … And quite often, perpetrators are not punished, but get taxpayer-paid cushy jobs, like special adviser to the Minister of War ‘Defence’.

Now, it is against African Brazilian football players.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Soccer player of Shakhtar Donetsk stands up against racism and gets red card

A week after the racist incident against Mario Balotelli in Italy, the football grounds were hit again this weekend. This time in Ukraine. After the top match between Shakhtar Donetsk and Dinamo Kyiv (1-0), it was not about the match at all, but about the bizarre scenes in the last fifteen minutes.

Extreme right Dinamo Kyiv hooligans are nationalist, bringing Ukrainian flags to games. They participated in 2014 in setting a trade union building in Odessa on fire, killing 42 people inside.

The 31-year-old Taison Barcellos Freda, a player of Shakhtar, was bullied racistically by the supporters of the away team during the important game and had completely enough of that in the final phase.

Out of frustration, he raised his middle finger and kicked the ball towards the Dinamo supporters. To his own disbelief, Taison then saw the referee draw the red card for that action.

The Brazilian midfielder left the field in tears and his teammate Dentinho couldn’t stop himself from crying either. “My tears were of indignation, rejection, and helplessness,” Taison said on his Instagram account after the game. “I will continue to fight and keep my head up. Football needs more respect.”

Shakhtar Donetsk’s Portuguese trainer, Luis Castro, skipped the traditional press conference after the game, but made a statement about the issue shortly thereafter. “Expressions of racism are unacceptable. It is a shame for everyone, we have to fight against racism every day, every minute and every second.”

It is not the first time that Dinamo Kyiv has been discredited due to racism. In 2015, four black Dinamo fans were attacked by their own fellow supporters.

This was followed by a campaign by the club to combat racism. The sponsor name disappeared from the shirt and the text “Together against racism” was added instead. They played with that until the end of 2015.

But the campaign seems to have paid off. In fact, Dinamo supporters last Sunday mocked the campaign of their own club. Stickers appeared in the stadium with the text ‘Like to racism’. …

On Twitter, the world football federation FIFA and the European football federation UEFA are called upon to make themselves heard, but so far the football associations have been silent.

Meanwhile, the social media are also full of support for Taison. His compatriots Vinícius Junior and Neymar support the Brazilian and ask for respect in football.

In Italian football, racism on the fields has been a major problem for a long time. Apart from Balotelli, who wanted to leave the field last week after jungle noises from the stands in the duel with Hellas Verona, Romelu Lukaku also had to deal with racist acts by supporters.

See also here.

Trump’s violence threats, Biden and Ukrainian gas


This 14 March 2016 video from the USA, from when Donald’s Trump’s presidential campaign had only started recently, sats about itself:

All the Times Trump Has Called for Violence at His Rallies

After he canceled a rally at a Chicago university Friday night due to safety concerns, Donald Trump told CNN’s Don Lemon “I certainly don’t incite violence.”

Trump, however, has a history of calling for violent acts against those who protest at his events that goes back until at least August of last year.

TRUMP SUGGESTED SHOOTING MIGRANTS IN THE LEGS Trump in March reportedly suggested soldiers shoot migrants in the legs in order to prevent them from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a new book, an excerpt of which The New York Times published. [HuffPost]

FAKE PRESIDENT SHOOTS MEDIA IN VIDEO AT PRO-TRUMP EVENT A graphic video featuring a fake President Donald Trump stabbing members of the news media and lighting the head of a political rival on fire was played at a conference for his supporters at a Trump resort over the weekend, according to a report in The New York Times. [HuffPost]

A conference of ultra-right supporters of President Trump, held at the Trump National Doral resort in Miami, with his son Don Jr. as featured speaker, included the showing of a gruesome video that portrays Trump slaughtering his critics in the media and the Democratic (and Republican) parties with an assortment of weapons: here.

By Andre Damon in the USA:

Trump threatens “civil war” as Democrats escalate impeachment campaign

1 October 2019

President Donald Trump, in an implicit threat of violence against his political opponents, suggested late Sunday that the Democrats’ efforts to remove him from office could precipitate a “civil war”. This came as the Democrats escalated their impeachment drive, issuing a subpoena to Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, and lining up a series of administration officials for questioning by the House Intelligence Committee.

In a tweet, Trump quoted the statement of televangelist Robert Jeffress that “If the Democrats are successful in removing the president from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War-like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.”

On Monday morning, Trump broached arresting Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and charging him with treason.

“Rep. Adam Schiff illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement, pretended it to be mine as the most important part of my call to the Ukrainian President, and read it aloud to Congress and the American people,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call. Arrest for Treason?”

By threatening a civil war, Trump is sending a clear message. He may not relinquish his office voluntarily if he is impeached by the Democratic-controlled House and convicted by the Republican-controlled Senate. The billionaire New York real estate speculator and reality TV personality is doing what he has always done when faced with a crisis, whether bankruptcy or political ruin—he is upping the ante.

Trump’s incendiary statements on Sunday and Monday followed his denunciation Saturday of four congresswomen from minority backgroundsAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley—and two Jewish House committee chairs—Schiff and Jerrold Nadler—as “savages”. On Friday, Trump met with Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive of the National Rifle Association. According to the New York Times, Trump asked the far-right head of the NRA if he “could provide support for the president as he faces impeachment.”

The previous week, Trump gave a fascistic speech to the United Nations General Assembly, warning that “globalists” wanted to “replace” national identity and libeling “socialism and communism” for supposedly killing more than 100 million people.

The Democrats, for their part, intensified their efforts to bring the White House to heel.

On Monday, congressional Democrats issued a subpoena demanding that Rudolph Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, and three of his associates produce communications and other records related to Ukraine.

The major US newspapers published new disclosures from unnamed sources within the administration. The Wall Street Journal reported that “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was among the administration officials who listened in on the July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukraine’s president.”

The New York Times reported, based on the statements of unnamed officials, that “President Trump pushed the Australian prime minister during a recent telephone call to help Attorney General William P. Barr gather information for a Justice Department inquiry that Mr. Trump hopes will discredit the Mueller investigation.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed Monday that the Senate will hold a trial, as required under the Constitution, should the House vote to impeach Trump, a distinct possibility.

“I would have no choice but to take it up,” he told CNBC, adding, “How long you are on it is a different matter, but I would have no choice but to take it up based on a Senate rule on impeachment.”

Trump’s invocation of “civil war” and increasingly open appeals for violence testify to the breakdown of democratic forms of rule in the United States. Under the pressure of soaring social inequality, decades of war, and enormous growth of the “national security” state, the political order created to mediate social conflicts in the United States through the constitutional order is coming apart at the seams.

In the conflict between Trump and his ruling class critics, there is no progressive or democratic side. The divisions within the state are motivated above all by foreign policy. In particular, dominant sections of the state, including Republicans as well as Democrats, are concerned that Trump has failed to take a sufficiently confrontational approach to Russia and that his nationalist geopolitics and personal political interests are cutting across the long-term interests of US imperialism.

The campaign of the Democrats is led by powerful sections of the intelligence agencies. It was instigated by a leak from a CIA agent in the White House. The move by Democratic Party leadership toward impeachment only came after Democratic representatives with military and intelligence backgrounds declared their support for such an action.

The impeachment drive also followed the ouster of Trump’s national security advisor, an arch-warmonger who had come into conflict with Giuliani. On Monday, the Hill reported that Bolton had opposed Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president.

While Trump threatens a “civil war” in which his fascistic supporters might be mobilized against his opponents within the state, what all factions of the ruling class fear above all is any genuine mobilization of the working population against Trump and the capitalist system of which he is a product.

It is for this reason that the Democrats have ruled out basing their impeachment inquiry on anything but Trump’s efforts to solicit “foreign interference”. The New York Times, outlining the scope of the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, declared Trump had the “absolute right” to pursue his chosen policies on “the environment, immigration, taxes, trade and other matters.”

Having suggested that his impeachment could provoke “civil war” and threatened to arrest the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee on treason charges, President Donald Trump on Tuesday tweeted a map of the 2016 election results with the words “Try to impeach this” written across it. The map, a county-by-county presentation of the presidential election results, shows a solid mass of Republican red, with isolated blue (Democratic) patches on the west and east coasts. Trump won 2,626 counties to Hillary Clinton’s 487, according to the Associated Press, covering the vast bulk of the country’s territory. However, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2.8 million ballots, as her support was concentrated in heavily-populated urban areas while Trump’s was based largely in sparsely populated rural and semi-rural regions. The tweet was yet another implied threat by Trump to resist by extra-constitutional means any attempt to remove him from office, aimed at inciting the far-right and fascist elements in his political base: here.

Trump’s Push For Ukraine To Probe CrowdStrike Is Rooted In Wild Conspiracy Theories As President Donald Trump prodded his Ukraine counterpart to investigate his potential 2020 Democratic rival, Joe Biden, he also made another request, one that stems from outlandish conspiracy notions that Trump has embraced and emboldened in recent years.

This 1 October 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Host Smacks Down Democrat Defending Biden Corruption.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

Hunter Biden made $850,000 on board of Ukraine gas company

1 October 2019

The son of Vice President Joe Biden, a lawyer-lobbyist with no known expertise in the production, transport, or distribution of natural gas, or in the complex financial operations of such a business, was placed on the board of the largest gas company in Ukraine in April 2014 and remained there until spring of this year, netting some $850,000 in payments.

The Hunter Biden-Ukraine connection has become the trigger for the opening of impeachment proceedings against President Trump, but the connection itself is worth examining in its own right. The younger Biden’s career sheds light on the decay of American democracy and the vast social gulf that has opened up between the ruling elite and the vast majority of the population, struggling to survive from paycheck to paycheck, and, as a recent survey found, unable to afford paying an unexpected bill of $400.

Hunter Biden, now aged 49, is the former vice president’s younger son, and the sole survivor among his children. Naomi, then a year old, was killed in the 1972 car crash that also took the life of Biden’s first wife. Beau Biden, the older son by one year, died of brain cancer in 2015.

The younger Biden has always been the black sheep of the family, even according to various sympathetic accounts, most of them appearing in publications—The New Yorker, the New York Times, the Washington Post—favorable to the Democrats.

The New Yorker piece, at more than 10,000 words by far the longest, published in July, was obviously planted by the Biden campaign for the purpose of venting all the bad news about Hunter Biden as a preemptive measure against anticipated stink bombs from the Trump campaign.

It was prepared through lengthy interviews by reporter Adam Entous with Hunter Biden. And it delivers a lot of bad news about a career devoted apparently to influence-peddling and drug abuse, both on a scale that matches or exceeds that of any dubious relative of any previous president, at least until Donald Trump.

Hunter Biden was hired by MBNA bank in Delaware, fresh out of Yale Law School, and paid a six-figure salary at the age of 26 because his father was a senator from that state and a fervent defender of the bank and credit card industries. MBNA was then the largest US issuer of credit cards.

He then moved to Washington to take a position in the last years of the Clinton administration. Once the Republicans came to power with the George W. Bush administration, in 2001, he became a lobbyist, helping Jesuit Catholic colleges insert earmarks into congressional appropriations bills.

When earmarks became more difficult to obtain, and after losing money in a speculative venture on the eve of the 2007-2008 financial crash, Biden formed a “consulting” group with Christopher Heinz, stepson of Senator John Kerry and an heir to the Heinz fortune, and a Yale friend of Heinz’s, Devon Archer.

Inevitably, after his father’s election as vice president, given a prominent international role in the Obama-Biden administration, Hunter Biden’s consulting firm branched out into global deal-making, focusing on countries where influence-peddling would be most lucrative and actual business credentials least necessary, among others, China and Ukraine.

In China, the younger Biden traveled on Air Force Two in 2013 with his father, who was making an official trip to Beijing. In the course of this, Hunter Biden introduced a Chinese business partner, Jonathan Li, to the vice president. He left China with promises of future investments, although not with the $1.5 billion that Trump now falsely claims. According to Hunter Biden’s attorney, no money has yet flowed from that particular connection.

Another Chinese business prospect gave Hunter Biden a diamond worth either $80,000 (according to his ex-wife’s divorce suit) or $10,000, according to Biden’s response to the suit, but in any case, much beyond the normal range of business gratuities.

But Ukraine is where Hunter Biden has apparently cashed in most extensively, trading on his father’s name and position. In 2013-2014, a right-wing … movement backed by the CIA and the German government gained the upper hand in an internal power struggle within the Ukraine capitalist class.

The Maidan “revolution” was actually a right-wing coup, spearheaded by outright fascist forces, some of whom marched under Nazi insignias, against the elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, who was aligned with the Russian government of Vladimir Putin.

Ukraine has been a “wild west” for the operations of foreign intelligence services and capitalist oligarchs at least since the so-called Orange Revolution of 2004, the first successful effort by Washington to bring to power a US-backed regime in one of the major countries emerging from the breakup of the Soviet Union.

An election victory claimed then by Yanukovych was overturned on grounds of fraud, Yanukovych lost the rerun election in early 2005, and a succession of right-wing leaders headed pro-US governments until 2010. In that year Yanukovych made a successful political comeback, winning the presidential election with the advice and assistance of a number of American political operatives, including Paul Manafort, later campaign manager for Donald Trump. (Others who “meddled” in Ukrainian politics included Democrats like David Axelrod, Obama’s top political counselor, and Tad Devine … .)

The Maidan protests drove Yanukovych into exile in February 2014, and the faction of capitalist oligarchs aligned with him had to find new political instruments and allies. This included Mykola Zlochevsky, the cofounder of Burisma, Ukraine’s largest natural gas producers. Zlochevsky had served as ecology minister under Yanukovych and previously, as energy minister under President Leonid Kuchma (1994-2004), pushed through measures that saw him emerge as one of the richest energy capitalists in the country.

In the search for board members with the right contacts, Zlochevsky recruited Devon Archer, Biden’s business partner, the former president of Poland and ex-Stalinist Aleksander Kwaśniewski, and then Hunter Biden himself. Biden was brought on nominally to provide advice on corporate governance, although he never performed any actual legal work for the company

At the time, Joe Biden was the Obama administration point man on Ukraine, and had emphasized in public statements the importance of Ukraine building up its own gas production facilities to ease its dependence on Russian supplies—a perspective that dovetailed perfectly with Burisma, Ukraine’s largest producer of locally sourced natural gas.

The State Department declared at the time that Hunter Biden was a “private citizen”, and that his role in Ukraine had nothing to do with his father’s area of responsibility. According to the friendly account in The New Yorker, the two Bidens discussed Burisma only once, when his father told him, in December 2015, “I hope you know what you are doing”, and the son replied, “I do.”

This account is not very credible, but there does not as yet appear to be any substance to the charges by Trump & Co. that the vice president intervened to block the prosecution of his son’s company in 2016. While Burisma Holdings was nominally under investigation by the state prosecutor, the investigation did not concern Hunter Biden’s role, focusing on how Zlochevsky accumulated his fortune in the mid-2000s, and it was not active.

One telling fact is that after Shokin was fired, under US and EU pressure—with Joe Biden delivering the message to the Kyiv regime—Zlochevsky went into exile in Dubai for a number of years. He evidently was in greater fear of prosecution under Shokin’s successor, installed at Joe Biden’s insistence.

None of these facts alter the devastating political implications of the Ukraine exposure for the Biden 2020 presidential campaign.

Hunter Biden’s income from Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian company, in a five-year period, is more than an autoworker or schoolteacher in the United States makes in 15 years. It is more than a minimum-wage worker makes in a lifetime. And it is only one income stream for Biden’s son, who profits from “consulting” deals in China and in the United States as well.

So much for Joe Biden’s efforts to promote himself as “middle-class Joe” and to pretend that he has some sort of intrinsic connection to the industrial working class because he was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania and grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, where his father managed a car dealership.

Concealed behind the mutual mudslinging between the Biden and Trump camps, and now by the media frenzy over impeachment, the truth is that Hunter Biden was a child of privilege, son of a US senator, a “fortunate one” as the rock song has it. He has cashed in on that status, both financially, and, in his case, staying out of jail despite a drug abuse problem that would have sent a working-class youth to prison for life.

BIDEN ‘HASN’T ASKED’ WHAT HUNTER DID IN UKRAINE Former Vice President Joe Biden said he doesn’t know what work his son Hunter Biden did in Ukraine while serving on the board of an energy company there for five years, but noted that it didn’t matter “because I trust my son.” [HuffPost]

German warfare in the Middle East


This 27 January 2019 video is called German weapons sold to Saudi Arabia and UAE used in Yemen war | DW News.

A 6 July 2019 Deutsche Welle TV video from Germany used to say about itself:

Germany’s secret service in the arms trade | DW Documentary

Germany’s secret service, the BND, is heavily involved in the delivery of weapons to crisis areas of the world. As this documentary shows, it has – among other things – played along with arms deals made by German shipping companies.

Top secret operations are carried out silently, bypassing the federal authorities by exploiting a blind spot between the Foreign Trade and the War Weapons Control Acts. The weapons are not shipped from Germany, but via a secret port in Ukraine that does not appear on any map. The trail leads to Kyiv, where a former Ukrainian president confirms the existence of the port and the “delicate” arms deals.

For the first time, the chief of the country’s secret service acknowledges that German companies are involved in the shipping of military weapons via the Ukraine, and provides the film team with the first and only television pictures of the secret port. Research in the USA throws up more alarming indications. American satellite images show the port where heavy-lift carriers load tanks, howitzers and other military equipment. At least two German shipping companies are involved in the operation.

The plethora of secret documents points in particular to a former world market leader in the heavy-lift cargo business, the Bremen-based Beluga shipping company, which has since ceased trading. Four of its ships are explicitly named. Loading and stowage lists show that the shipping company repeatedly planned and shipped armaments – and one man, a BND officer with the code name “Klaus Hollmann”, was always involved. The German parliament only found out about the BND’s involvement in the arms deliveries through the makers of this film and is now trying to get to the bottom of the affair. Intelligence experts see this as an important step in averting further damage to German democracy.

By Johannes Stern in Germany:

Germany’s Grand Coalition intensifies war policy in the Middle East

12 July 2019

The German government intends to continue the war mission of the Bundeswehr (Germany‘s Armed Forces) in Syria and deploy the Air Force in the entire region beyond October 31, contrary to the provisions of its current parliamentary mandate. This was announced by government spokesman Steffen Seibert at a press conference in Berlin earlier this week.

For years, Germany has made “a considerable and internationally recognized contribution to the anti-IS [ISIS] coalition”, explained Seibert. The Bundeswehr was “active in aerial reconnaissance, in aerial refuelling and also in the training of Iraqi units.” Now the German government “together with our allies, with the American side, is talking about how the engagement in the region should develop further.”

The deployment of German ground troops, as formally requested by the US government and its special envoy for Syria, James Jeffrey, for the training of Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, is allegedly not planned, according to Seibert. At the same time, he made it clear that the German government was preparing to expand its involvement in the US-led anti-IS coalition behind the back of the population.

This would involve “a whole series of both military and civilian components that could be suitable for achieving stabilization on the ground in the region.” The German approach was that “we want to continue our previous measures as far as possible.” For one thing is clear: “The challenge posed by the so-called Islamic State has by no means disappeared. The coalition has succeeded in taking over areas that ISIS previously held in Syria and Iraq. But the danger of the Islamic State continues.”

That’s the familiar propaganda. In reality, the main concern of the imperialist powers is not the struggle against ISIS, which itself is a product of the brutal war for regime change in Syria, which cost 400,000 lives and destroyed large parts of the country. The actual war aim was and is the overthrow of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the installation of a pro-Western puppet regime in Damascus.

In contrast to the attack on Iraq in 2003 and the Libyan war in 2011, Germany participated in the Syrian intervention from the very beginning. As early as 2012, the Federal Foreign Office, together with the government-linked think tank Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) and part of the Syrian opposition, launched the project “The Day after” and published a “Vision for a Post-Assad Order.”

Now that Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies are nearing a military victory and the United States is escalating its war preparations against Iran, the European powers are increasing their own military presence in the region to assert their economic and geostrategic interests.

According to media reports, France and Great Britain have responded to the US government’s request and agreed to send additional soldiers to Syria. Paris and London would increase their troops by 10 to 15 percent, a US government representative told Foreign Policy magazine on Wednesday. Italy is also on the verge of sending additional armed forces. Similarly, a number of Balkan and Baltic states are “almost certain” to send soldiers to replace US troops, the magazine writes, citing another source.

In Germany, too, leading politicians of the governing parties are pleading for the deployment of ground troops to Syria. CDU chairman Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said in an interview that German ground troops in Syria were “a big leap for us”. But one must “always be aware: it is also a matter of our own security in Germany, not just what the United States wants.”

The deputy chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, Johann Wadephul, told representatives of the German Press Agency that the request from Washington should not be “reflexively rejected”. After all, “this region is about our security and not American security.”

The CDU defence expert and chairman of the Bundestag’s reservist working group RAG, Patrick Sensburg, emphasized in an interview with Focus that the US demand for ground troops was by no means off the table. It was also “our obligation to ensure peace in the region” and “to assume greater responsibility.” After all, “the fight against the IS is far away from the USA and close to Europe … You can’t always say, ‘Let the Americans do it’.”

Leading social democrats, who had already strongly condemned US plans to withdraw from Syria last December, have also made it clear that they essentially support Washington’s request.

The USA had “moved away from its withdrawal plans because of international criticism, among other things. Because the IS is still a real danger in the region,” said Fritz Felgentreu, defence policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group in the Bundestag. “Now the U.S. expects support from the same countries. That’s understandable.” One should “therefore evaluate with the other countries of the anti-IS coalition what is still necessary now and which country can take over which task.”

Even the opposition parties in the Bundestag are not fundamentally opposed to an expansion of the mission and the deployment of ground troops. However, they stress that it must serve German and European interests in the region to a greater extent.

Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, deputy leader of the FDP parliamentary group, told the German daily Die Welt: “As long as there is no political solution for Syria, we don’t need to talk about German ground troops.” The US inquiry, however, showed that it would not work in the medium term without a European contribution. “The condition for this must be that Europe be equally involved in the development of a new political order in Syria. It can’t continue with the previous approach.”

Tobias Lindner, the Greens‘ spokesman on defence policy, made similar remarks according to Die Welt. “German ground troops in Syria would only be conceivable at all if there were a mandate from the UN Security Council and a credible peace perspective” ,he said.

… Dietmar Bartsch, leader of the parliamentary group of the Left Party in the Bundestag, demanded that Germany should not be a “recipient of orders from the United States.” Tobias Pflüger, the Left Party’s spokesman on defence policy, warned that the US administration was “concerned only with replacing its soldiers, so that they also have a free hand in other fields.” Germany should “not allow itself to be drawn further into the Syrian war.”

In fact, German-European military planning is not limited to Syria. On Thursday, the Süddeutsche Zeitung published a comment calling upon the German and European powers to join the anti-Iranian military coalition to secure the Strait of Hormuz that US President Donald Trump is seeking to establish. “Freedom of navigation is a great good, especially for a nation as dependent on exports as Germany. It must also be defended in crisis regions such as the Persian Gulf.”

The newspaper’s proposal: “Warships from Europe or Asia” should “secure the bottleneck from the Gulf of Oman to the Persian Gulf”, through which “40 percent of the world’s oil exports” passes, and the Bab el-Mandab Strait, the entrance from the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea.

European ships “would be less provocative for Iran than American or Saudi patrol boats” and at the same time “a further signal to Tehran that Europe wants to maintain the nuclear agreement but does not accept the aggressive regional policy of the Islamic Republic unopposed.”

The Süddeutsche Zeitung claim that another armada of warships in the powder keg of the Middle East would be “a contribution to crisis prevention” is obviously absurd. It would rather increase the danger of a direct military confrontation with Iran, which could quickly ignite the entire region and lead to a possible confrontation with the nuclear powers Russia and China and thus to a third world war.

One week after the president of Germany’s parliament, Wolfgang Schäuble, appealed for an expansion of foreign military interventions, Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has followed suit: here.

Ukrainian government bans newspaper for quoting Marx


European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (right) receives a medal from Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko

On this photo, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (right) receives a medal from Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko.

By Steve Sweeney in Britain:

Friday, May 17, 2019

Ukrainian newspaper faces ban – for quoting Marx

UKRAINIAN journalists have called for international solidarity as press freedom comes under attack, with workers’ newspaper Rabochaya Gazeta facing closure under reactionary anti-communist laws.

The newspaper’s editor Anatoly Krivolapov appealed to progressives across the world to protest against the attacks on freedom of speech and the legal measures being used against media organisations critical of the Ukrainian government.

“Your principled position and support will contribute not only to the preservation of our publication, but also to enhance the role of other media in the achievement of rule of law, social justice, public order and peace in our long-suffering country,” he said.

Rabochaya Gazeta was first published in August 1897 and aims “to honestly and fully disclose the real situation in Ukraine” including exposing the activities of government bodies and a critique of state policies.

However, authorities are seeking to ban the newspaper using a law that outlaws the use and display of communist symbols. The Ministry of Justice cited articles in Rabochaya Gazeta quoting Lenin and Marx, along with commentary praising the achievements of Ukraine during the Soviet period.

Ukraine has previously been warned by the Council of Europe over the introduction of the legislation. The council said that it must protect freedom of expression and comply with international laws.

The Vienna Convention said the law, On Condemnation of the Communist and National Socialist (Nazi) Totalitarian Regimes in Ukraine and the Prohibition of the Promotion of Their Symbols

This law has a hypocritical name. On the one hand, what happens to an Ukrainian singing the Internationale; the song not just of communist, but also social democrat parties all over the world? That Ukrainian gets a two year prison term if singing it alone. Fife years imprisonment for singing it in a choir.

On the other hand, Ukrainian officers of Adolf Hitler’s SS get honoured with governmental monuments. And it is illegal to criticize World War II nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera and similar politicians.

As for symbols: see the logo of today’s Ukrainian Azov battalion.

Azov battalion symbol

This picture (also reproduced on the Facebook page of the Dutch NVU nazi party) shows the symbol of the Ukrainian Kiev government’s Azov battalion; source: here. It is the wolfsangel, or wolf’s hook. Which used to be a symbol in Adolf Hitler’s Waffen SS. It was also the symbol of the Dutch nazi party NSB in the 1930s and 1940s.

The Azov battalion logo has, behind its black wolfsangel, also another nazi SS symbol, depicted in white: the ‘schwarze Sonne‘ or black sun; ‘taken from the pattern on the floor of the northern tower of Wewelsburg castle, which Heinrich Himmler had rebuilt. It looks like a combination of a spider web and a swastika.’

– was a breach of human rights, in particular the right to freedom of expression, freedom of association and assembly, and voting rights.

However, Mr Krivolapov warned that under the regime of former president Poroshenko, “totalitarian methods of government were introduced…an open struggle was started against dissent and freedom of speech, journalists were persecuted and killed.”

“Our publication criticised the national oligarchic group headed by president Poroshenko for total corruption…unemployment and the sharp impoverishment of the majority of the population…the war in the Donbass, the propaganda of fascism”, he said.

He said the attack on Rabochaya Gazeta was also a threat to “other newspapers, magazines and TV channels attacked by the regime” and the basic principles of press freedom.

“We call for authoritative international organisations and colleagues abroad to express their protest against the legal arbitrariness against the media, and to stand for the protection of freedom of speech in Ukraine.”

On January 1, 2020, far-right elements and government officials participated in processions in the major Ukrainian cities Kiev, Odessa, L’viv, and Dnipro, to honor the Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera’s 111th birthday. As head of the far-right Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and its military formation the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), Bandera was responsible for the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Jews and Poles during World War II: here.

Babi Yar, Shostakovich’s anti-fascist symphony, performed


This video from the USA says about itself:

Preview for Shostakovich‘s Babi Yar Remembering the Holocaust | April 27 & 28, 2019

In a powerful performance not to be missed, MSU [Michigan State University] Symphony Orchestra, Choirs, soloist Mark Rucker, baritone, and a trio of expert scholars present Shostakovich 13, Babi Yar, with selections from Davidson’s I Never Saw Another Butterfly.

By Nancy Hanover in the USA:

Michigan State University performs stirring rendition of Babi Yar, Dmitri Shostakovich’s anti-fascist symphony

1 May 2019

I am
each old man
here shot dead.

I am
every child
here shot dead.

Nothing in me
shall ever forget!

The ‘Internationale’,
let it thunder
when the last anti-Semite on earth
is buried forever.

In my blood there is no Jewish blood.
In their callous rage,
all anti-Semites
must hate me now as a Jew.

For that reason
I am a true Russian!
[From “Babi Yar” by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, translation: George Reavey]

After nearly two years of preparation, the Michigan State University (MSU) Orchestra and Choral Ensembles performed Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13 in B-flat minor, based on Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s poem “Babi Yar” (1961), last Saturday in East Lansing, Michigan, and Sunday at Detroit’s Orchestra Hall. It featured well-known baritone Mark Rucker, who also serves as professor of voice in the MSU College of Music.

Yevtushenko’s “Babi Yar” is a poem that memorializes the Nazi massacre of 34,000 Jews at Babi Yar, just outside Kiev, Ukraine, on September 29-30, 1941, one of the single largest instances of mass murder carried out during the Holocaust. It took place soon after the invasion of the Soviet Union.

The rapidly intensifying political atmosphere today—including the rise of anti-Semitism and authoritarianism nationally and internationally—heightened the emotional and artistic significance for musicians and listeners alike. One of the most enduring and powerful musical protests against fascism and anti-Semitism, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13 was performed in Detroit one day after another brutal anti-Semitic murder at Chabad of Poway, just north of San Diego, on the final day of Passover. The killer issued a statement that denounced Jews “for their role in Marxism and communism.”

The contemporary resonance of MSU’s production “Babi Yar, Remembering the Holocaust” was noted by several speakers who introduced Shostakovich’s work. They referenced the fascist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, the terror bombing in Sri Lanka and the slaughter of 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last October. Concert-goers included more than a dozen Holocaust survivors and a busload of older members of the Jewish Community Center, as well as many young musicians.

Socialist Equality Party campaigners distributed materials on the rise of the fascist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and the fight against the extreme right and were warmly received by many. “It’s not just in Germany, it’s here—it’s here”, one older concert-goer repeated, with unmistakable alarm.

The concert began with Charles Davidson’s “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” (1968), in slightly abbreviated form. The piece is written for orchestra and treble choir and based on poems by Jewish children who perished in the Holocaust. The children were among the 150,000 Jews imprisoned in the Terezin concentration camp (also known as Theresienstadt). After the occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, the Nazis converted the Czech town of Terezin into a Jewish prison. It was not an extermination camp, but about 33,000 would die of hunger and disease there. The Soviet army liberated the camp in 1945.

The evocative poetic lines of the children were displayed above the orchestra and chorus. “The heaviest wheel rolls across our foreheads, To bury itself deep somewhere in our memories. We’ve suffered here more than enough, Here in this clot of grief and shame” begins the poem “Terezin.”

The piece is alternatively haunting and mournful and lively and hopeful, as the powerful choirs give voice to the children’s contradictory feelings. Davidson, trained as a cantor and with a doctorate in sacred music, has created an ethereal and entrancing melodic sound in this now widely performed piece.

Sophia Franklin

Sophia Franklin, a Music Education and Physics major at MSU, who sang alto in the 100-plus member chorus, later told a reporter from the World Socialist Web Site, “Our piece was about Terezin. It was a concentration camp, but designed by the Nazis to be the public ‘face’ of the camps for visits by the Red Cross. It looked like a nice camp, but really it was just as bad. People were disappearing. They [the Jews] knew there was something very wrong even though the murders weren’t happening there. They were living in constant fear.”

Echoing the thoughts of many of those in the hall, Sophia said, “I have learned about the history of the Holocaust in middle and high school. This has happened before. Can’t we learn from that?”

In one of the concert’s introductory lectures, MSU Assistant Professor Dr. Amy Simon explained that the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, in Operation Barbarossa, beginning a war of annihilation. Recognizing the genocidal implications, Simon said, approximately 100,000 Jews fled Kiev before the fascist occupation. Those who remained were the sick, the elderly and many children. These Jews were forced to walk to a ravine on the outskirts, now called Babi Yar, lined up in groups and systematically machine-gunned to death.

After the wholesale slaughter of the Jews, who constituted the largest proportion of the dead, the killing would continue for months abetted by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). Tens of thousands of Communist Party members, Soviet prisoners of war, Roma and other anti-Nazis also perished there. It is estimated that the total number of dead thrown into the pit at Babi Yar would grow to more than 100,000 during the years of German occupation. Of the 6 million Jews who were exterminated by the Nazis, more than 2 million died in the Soviet Union as a result of mass executions similar to that at Babi Yar.

Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s famous poem “Babi Yar” was written in protest. It begins, “No monument stands over Babi Yar. A steep cliff only, like the rudest headstone. I am afraid. Today, I am as old, As the entire Jewish race itself.”

The poem is a brilliant and defiant attack on both anti-Semitism and the Stalinist bureaucracy. The nationalist bureaucracy pandered to anti-Semitism and was hostile to its exposure; it opposed any remembrance of the genocidal treatment of the Jews, insisting there be no special mention of the Nazis’ determination to eradicate Jewry. Yevtushenko’s poem laments, “O, Russia of my heart, I know that you, Are international, by inner nature. But often those whose hands are steeped in filth, Abused your purest name, in name of hatred.” Unsurprisingly, the poem was officially denounced by Premier Nikita Khrushchev.

Kevin Bartig, MSU associate professor of music, who also spoke before the production, related the extraordinary first exchange between the poet and composer. Shostakovich, he explained, approached Yevtushenko for permission to set “Babi Yar” to music. The poet immediately agreed, and Shostakovich, relieved, then told him the piece was already composed.

Bartig recounted Yevtushenko’s words when he first heard the composition, “Some of my poems were set before, but the music hardly ever coincided with the melody I heard in my inner ear when writing my poem. I hope it doesn’t sound like conceit, but if I were able to write music, I would have written exactly the way Shostakovich did. By some magic, telepathic insight he seems to have pulled the melody out of me and recorded it in musical notation.”

Wonderful and apt words! Sitting in the audience of this concert, one felt an emotional and seamless unity between the music and words—each heightening the power of the other.

Bartig noted that there were attempts to prevent the premiere of the 13th Symphony in 1962, but “it was a sign of the times, that the idea of censoring a performance—as would certainly have been the case a decade earlier [prior to Stalin’s death]—would have been more of a provocation or scandal than allowing it to go on.” This was during the period of the so-called Thaw in the USSR.

The music scholar noted, “The work is a meditation on repression, from anti-Semitism to the take-down of self-interested bureaucrats in the final movement. It was a risky project in the USSR. Even a few years earlier, Shostakovich might not have risked it. …

“Stylistically, Shostakovich is himself as ever here using a tonal idiom, dressed up with the things that make his voice so distinctive: creating dissonances, exaggerated contrasts, and sarcasm.” He concluded by noting, “The themes we confront in the 13th, which sadly remain relevant in 2019, make the work one of the most unsettling and powerful in the symphonic repertoire.”

Explaining his decision to create the work, Shostakovich said, “I was overjoyed when I read Yevtushenko’s ‘Babi Yar’; the poem astounded me. It astounded thousands of people. Many had heard about Babi Yar, but it took Yevtushenko’s poem to make them aware of it. They tried to destroy the memory of Babi Yar, first the Germans and then the Ukrainian government. But after Yevtushenko’s poem, it became clear that it would never be forgotten. That is the power of art.”

The piece is not easily classified. Requiring a bass soloist, men’s chorus and large orchestra, it has five movements. Babi Yar has been variously described as a choral symphony, a song cycle or a giant cantata. The first section, “Babi Yar”, the Adagio, is a funereal elegy, opening with a solemn chime, dramatically invoking the Dreyfus affair in France (1894-1906), the savage Bialystok pogrom of 1906 and the story of Anne Frank. The emotional music moves from the spiritual to the literal, in the breaking down of Anne Frank’s door. The use of the bass soloist, the impressive Mark Rucker in this case, a male chorus and the frequent effective use of chimes and bells is widely attributed to the influence of 19th century Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky.

The second movement, “Humour”, is a livelier piece, but its message is just as pointed: oppression cannot silence the masses and their mocking of authority. It ends, “three cheers for humour—he’s a brave fellow.” The third (“In the Store”) is an ode to Soviet women, endlessly forced to line up to secure provisions for their families, ending with a quasi-religious motif. The fourth movement (“Fears”) evokes the menacing atmosphere under Stalinism, opening with a highly chromatic tuba solo that anticipates the composer’s later experiments with twelve-tone dissonance. “Career”, the final movement, condemns censorship and the ever-present Stalinist toadies with a lopsided opening waltz and beautiful woodwind solos, ending with a chilling final strike of the chime. It makes a bitter analogy to the Catholic Church’s trial and imprisonment of Galileo.

Attending the Orchestra Hall event, Joseph Jankowski, a student at the Detroit Institute for Musical Education, told us, “I knew this would be powerful. But when the conductor lowered the baton, no one clapped. Then everyone started clapping and didn’t want to stop—that was amazing.

“It was a beautiful portrayal and 100 percent relevant. Humanity-wise we face a serious issue today in this country and around the world. Events like this are extremely important because they should serve as a reminder that not all is as it should be. Large events like the Holocaust—even smaller events like Sandy Hook—we’ve allowed them to happen. We forget.”

“It was amazing, absolutely amazing,” said Edie, another audience member, “A person just feels more emotional about it all [in the setting of] such impressive music.”

International Youth and Students for Socialist Equality (IYSSE) member James said he was deeply moved by both the music and poems: “In Charles Davidson’s piece, the first poem, ‘I’d Like to Go Away Alone’, began with heavenly violin strings that captured the feeling of hope. But when the alto choir sang ‘Somewhere into the far unknown there, where no one kills another’, the vocals were a musical suggestion of such an un-worldly place.”

He continued, “The lyrics captured the feelings of children who had to watch this tragedy as it happened. … The gong and flute were used a lot to symbolize the blows that Nazi soldiers used against the Jewish prisoners of war. The orchestra members walked off in a single file line to symbolize what the Jewish people experienced at that time in these concentration camps.”

James also noted, “The [Shostakovich] music really felt uneasy, as the poem portrays things. The baritone singing, ‘Let the Internationale thunder as the last anti-Semites on earth are buried’ had me in tears. I hope the working class has more access to cultural events like this one in the future. This was a great experience for me.”

“The greatness of Shostakovich,” Fred Mazelis notes in his WSWS article on the composer’s legacy, was “to reflect the great struggles of his time, to find the musical language, in abstract, personal and emotional terms, through which to express not only his personal travail, but that of many millions of others.”

Many of those of us who attended the soul-stirring MSU performance would strongly concur. Indeed, the struggles of his time remain the struggles of our own.

The author also recommends:

The Soviet poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1933-2017) and the fate of the ‘60s generation
[3 May 2017]

Berlin exhibition—“Mass Shootings: The Holocaust from the Baltic to the Black Sea 1941-1944”
[28 October 2016]

The legacy of Dmitri Shostakovich
[7 April 2000]