11 June 2015
MH17 and the impeachment of Moscow’s credibility
The Russian government continues to deny that Russian proxy forces were responsible for the downing of the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 over eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014, maintaining the line that the Ukrainian armed forces were responsible. First, the Kremlin alleged that a Ukrainian fighter jet had downed the passenger airliner. Now, the Putin regime is disseminating a version of events whereby Flight MH17 was shot down by a ground-to-air missile fired by a Buk rocket launcher conrolled by the Ukrainian armed forces. Lost in all this is the fact that, not long before the catastrophe, numerous Russian media outlets reported (some boasting) that such a launcher had been stolen by the pro-Russian separatist rebels.
A journalist for the Ekho Moskvy (‘Echo of Moscow’) newspaper, Serguei Parkhomenko, published a reminder of this on his blog page on 3 June 2015, soon after official Moscow responded to Western media reports to the effect that the missile came from Russian-controlled territory. The Kremlin’s new version holds that, although the plane was downed by a Buk missile, it was fired by the Ukrainians from territory they controlled. Gone now is the Russian allegation that a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter shot down the Boeing, and the dispute now centers over whence the missile was fired. If it was fired from a village close to the city of Snizhne, as reported in Western media citing eyewitness accounts, then pro-Russian forces were responsible. If fired from Zaroshchenskoe, as Moscow claims, then the matter turns on whether that area was under the control of the Ukrainians or the Russians at the time.
Before the links to the Russian media reports are possibly terminated – or their content is altered – they are reproduced below in English. Should readers later find that the links to be dead, hopefully the link to this post will still be alive. Again, what is important to remember is that Russian media and other online sources ackowledged that the rebels had stolen a Buk launcher prior to the disaster, and had announced their intention to use this equipment to protect Donetsk from Ukrainian air strikes. Since the rebels had no aircraft, the Ukrainian armed forces would have had no reason to be firing anti-aircraft missiles into the sky above Donetsk. Blaming the Ukrainians for the downing of Flight MH17 thus requires a suspension of disbelief – and adoption of the Kremlin-disseminated conspiracy theory that the Ukrainian authorities ordered the destruction of the plane so that they could then blame Russia and its proxy forces in eastern Ukraine.
‘Somehow all this is totally forgotten now,’ says Parkhomenko of the Russian reports from 2014. Following are translations of these reports, to which Parkhomenko provides links and screenshots in his article (together with the links themselves):
(This link still works: http://tаss.ru/mezhdunаrоdnаyа-pаnоrаmа/1287030)
29 June 2014, 18:50 GMT+3 ~ Quantity and technical condition of the systems now in the hands of the militants is unknown.
Donetsk, 29 June. /ITAR-TASS/. Representatives of the rebels of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic took control of Military Unit No. A-1402 of the Air Defense Forces with a Buk anti-aircraft missile complex. This information was confirmed for ITAR-TASS by the press service of the DNR.
The number and technical condition of the systems now in the control of the militia remain unknown. The DNR’s press service refused to provide any information on this.
Buk is a self-propelled anti-aircraft system designed to combat maneuvering aerodynamic targets at low and medium altitudes under conditions of intense radio-electronic countermeasures.
(The link is still alive: http://ria.ru/world/20140629/1014048721.html)
Special operation in eastern Ukraine (1558) / Ukraine: chronicle of events
17:37 – 29.06.2014 (updated: 6:08 PM, 06.29.2014 ) 2572915815
In recent days two military units have been seized by rebels in the east of Ukraine. The militia of the Donetsk People’s Republic has taken under its control part of the air defense forces, on whose territory are located Buk self-propelled anti-aircraft missile complexes.
Donetsk, June 29 – RIA Novosti. The Donetsk militia has taken control of an air defense unit, the local militia reported to RIA-Novosti on Sunday.
‘The militia of the DNR has taken Military Unit A-1402 under its control,’ a source reported to the agency.
In his words, it is part of the surface-to-air missile forces , which are armed with the Buk self-propelled anti-aircraft missile system.
Over the past few days in eastern Ukraine the militia has taken control of two military units. One of them surrendered without resistance, another after a few hours of fighting.
In Ukraine on 22 February there was a state coup, but some southeastern regions have not recognized the legitimacy of the authorities. Rallies began there in support of independence, against which the Kiev authorities launched a special military operation using aviation, armor and heavy artillery.
The president elected in May, Petro Poroshenko, declared his intention to complete the special operation quickly and presented his plan for a peaceful settlement.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier that Moscow welcomed the truce, but it should not become a suspension of the ultimatum.
What is happening in Ukraine and Novorossiya
Mass anti-government demonstrations began in the south-eastern areas of Ukraine at the end of February 2014. They were a response by local residents to the violent overthrow of the government in the country, and disappointment at the attempt by the Verkhovna Rada to cancel the law granting Russian the status of a regional language. The Donbas has become the center of confrontation with the Kiev authorities. For more on how the conflict in Ukraine’s southeast has developed, read in the RIA-Novosti Chronicle.
(It hangs here as if nothing has happened: http://www.ntv.ru/novosti/1084556/?fb#ixzz3bzBHZiR0)
Today, Military Unit A-1402 in Donetsk fell under the control of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR).
As reported to Interfax by representatives of the DNR, today the militia took military unit A-1402 on Stratonaftov Streetunder its control. Details were not provided for clarification by the DNR representatives.
Unit A-1402 is an anti-aircraft rocket regiment of the Air Defense Forces, among the armaments of which is the Buk self-propelled missile system.
Recall that on 26 June the militia took control of Military Unit No. 3004. Just beforehand, a military unit on the outskirts of Donetsk voluntarily went over to the side of the Donbass self-defense forces.
And so on, and so on, and so on. In the very first paragraphs of texts, the ‘Buki’ [Buk launchers – Ed.] are referred to with great pride. In any case, I include screenshots. And there is little evidence as to whether or not…
Who continues to want to declare this ‘ukrop propaganda’ and ‘pindos disinformation’?
[Note: ‘ukrop’ is a derogatory word used by Russians to describe pro-independence Ukrainians that literally translates as ‘dill,’ and which many Ukrainians have adopted with pride; ‘pindos’ is a Russian slur for Americans that is of uncertain derivation. – Ed.]
P.S. Not much?
Check out Komsomolskaya Pravda: http://www.kp.ru/оnline/news/1777045/
Still need more? Well, Google it yourselves…
Ukrainian Crisis ~ Nadezhda BAS (29 June 2014, 19:34)
Their quantity and technical condition are so far unknown
The self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk was able on Sunday, June 29, to take control of Military Unit No. A-1402 of the Air Defense Forces (PVO) with Buk anti-aircraft missile complex.
As stated by the press service of the DNR, the number and technical condition of the systems, now in the hands of the self-defense units, remains unknown, reports ITAR-TASS.
Previously the DNR militia had established control over a Donetsk chemical goods factory, where they are planning to begin production of fragmentation hand grenades.
‘KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA’ DIRECTORY:
Buk is a self-propelled anti-aircraft system designed to combat maneuvering aerodynamic targets at low and medium altitudes under conditions of intense radio-electronic countermeasures.
Notes fom the Refugee Camp
Our photo-correspondent Nikolai Khizhniak stayed for a few days in a locality near the border, where he found Ukrainians seeking refuge from the civil war.
Since 24 June, Nikolai has been working in a refugee camp in Donetsk – in a Russian town on the border between Rostov region and Ukraine. He has already taken hundreds of pictures, the best of which you have seen on our website kp.ru.
Parallel with that, he is maintaining records, part of which we offer to you (read more).
29 June 2014, 17:45
‘Today the militia of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) has subordinated to itself Military Unit A-1402,’ said the militia, noting that it is one of the units of the Air Defense Forces that has the Buk self-propelled anti-aircraft rocket system,’ reports RIA Novosti.
Over the past few days in the east of Ukraine the militia has taken control of two military units. One of them surrendered without resistance, another afer a few hours of fighting.
As reported by the deputy commander of the People’s Militia of the Donbass Igor Strelkov, and retired Air Defense Forces officer and science-fiction writer Fyodor Berezin, the outcome of the confrontation is that the Ukrainian National Guard troops have run out of ammunition.
However, since the middle of April the Kiev authorities have carried out a ‘special operation’ in the east of Ukraine to suppress the protest movement in Ukraine. The military and security forces have been actively using heavy artillery and combat aircraft. Many victims among the civilian population and destruction of homes and infrastructure have been reported.
Last week Mr. Poroshenko ordered all armed units taking part in the operation in eastern Ukraine to implement a ceasefire. On Friday the truce was extended for a further 72 hours. In spite of this, the active fighting in the region has not stopped.
29 June 2014 ~ 23:06
Moscow / 29 June 2014. Interfax.ru – Armed people are trying to take control of a military unit in Donetsk, an Interfax correspondent reported Sunday.
MVD (internal afairs) military unit No. 3036, which is located on the territory of a military academy, is being shelled. You can hear explosions, a fire has started inside, and residents in the vicinity have taken refuge in basements.
Earlier on Sunday, Military Unit No. A-1402 in Donetsk fell under the control of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR).
‘Today the rebels subordinated to themselves Military Unit No. A-1402 on Stratonaftov Street,’ said the representatives of the DNR’s press service, offering no details.
Military Unit No. A-1402 is an anti-aicraft rocket regiment of the Air Defense Forces, which is armed with the Buk self-propelled anti-aircraft missile system.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov has reported on his facebook page that the personnel of Military Unit No. 3037 passed through a rebel roadblock and joined up with participants in the military operations.
‘More than 300 national guardsmen in armed formations under the command of Colonel Borteyev have boken through a terrorist roadblock and, under Ukrainian flags, have united with the forces of the ATO [Anti-Terrorist Operation] Sector D,’ sressed the minister.
He said that representatives of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk (DNR) had put forward an ultimatum to the soldiers, demanding that they lay down their arms and transfer the warehouse of weapons located on the territory of the unit to the jurisdiction of the DNR.
Avakov said that the ammunition depot on the territory of the military unit had been mined and blown up on his orders. ‘I gave the order, to prevent any remaining weapons and ammunition falling into the hands of the terrorists,’ he said.
On 26 June the militia took control of Military Unit No. 3004.
P.P.S. And now we can see the bandits beginning to abandon their pride not long after the plane crash.
The prominent blogger el-murid writes:
‘ … About the rebels’ access to serviceable ‘Buki,’ all the information is based on the words of Kurginian that the militia has these systems in its arsenal and that the rebels have been able to capture a few non-functioning systems. The only one who had argued that the rebels had ‘Buki’ and were ready to take control of the sky over Donetsk was once again a well-known political scientist, in his ‘Statement’ on July 13th.’
P. P.P.S. And like the icing on the cake:
Miss Poklonskaya rejoices at the ‘cookies for the Ukrainian armed forces’ that are now in the hands of the rebels. The date is the same: 29 June 2014.
[Natalia Poklonskaya is the ‘prosecutor-general’ of separatist Crimea. A woman in her early thirties’, she was apparently appointed to the position for her ‘blonde appeal,’ as her professional qualifications for such a high-level post are negligible. Much like pretty blonde Russian tennis pro Maria Sharapova, Poklonskaya has proven very popular among males in Japan, as the first comment under her Twitter post might suggest. ~ Ed.]
9 June 2015
The Last Hetman of Ukraine
Few historians are talented enough to portray the period of Ukraine’s pre-Soviet independence as a time of joy. From its inception in 1917 until its demise in 1921, the nascent Ukrainian democracy was wracked by war, terror, famine, subversion, invasion and other ills that made the consolidation of a functioning state impossible. Yet it has to be said that, in 1917, the young republic’s new leaders proved remarkably naïve about the nature and intentions of the Bolshevik regime that had seized power in Russia. The Ukrainian socialists afforded Lenin and his followers every benefit of the doubt as being leaders of a genuine, social-democratic government who sincerely sought peace, prosperity and fraternal co-existence. Initially, the new Ukrainian leaders did not even declare independence, seeking only greater autonomy within a loose federation. They disbanded their most capable armed units and dismissed the most talented military leaders, evidently believing they were unnecessary in a true, socialist democracy. They proved sorely deluded.
The war and terror unleashed on Ukraine from all sides quickly destabilized the socialist government until, for roughly seven months in 1918, Ukraine became a monarchy. It was called the Hetmanate, and was headed by the Ukrainian Cossack General Pavlo Skoropadsky – a direct descendant of 18th-century Ukrainian Hetman Ivan Skoropadsky and a general of the former Russian imperial army. He had fought in both World War One and the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05, and was a highly decorated, able commander. Ukraine’s socialist government had dissolved the army corps under Skoropadsky’s command along with most other military units, but it soon became obvious to almost everyone that a radical change was necessary. A Congress of Agrarians elected Skoropadsky Hetman of Ukraine in April 1918. He dissolved the fractious and inefficient Ukrainian legislature, the Tsentralna Rada (Central Council), and established the Derzhavna Varta (State Guard) as the chief instrument of government.
Some historians dismiss Skoropadsky as no more than a puppet of the German Reich, installed to create an ally for the Kaiser and a breadbasket for the Imperial German Army in its continuing war against the Allies after Soviet Russia’s withdrawal from hostilities in WWI. But Skoropadsky had a vision for Ukraine, and it is fair to say that, had this vision been realized, Ukraine today would be a very different – and probably much better – place. During his very brief reign, Skoropadsky threw the full weight of his state apparatus behind the development of Ukrainian national culture. He established no fewer than two universities, about 150 lyceums (secondary schools organized and administered along the lines of the ‘gymnasiums’ in Germany), and the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences.
Unfortunately, the socialists whom the Hetman had ousted in April 1918 maintained a visceral hatred for him, viewing him as a German lackey and conspiring to overthrow him. Many Ukrainian nationalists resented him for his proposed ‘federation’ with Russia, branding it a sell-out. Yet Skoropadsky not only had no intention of uniting with Soviet Russia, but even suppressed public demonstrations of Russian tsarist sympathy on Ukrainian territory. The nationalists eventually worked in concert with the socialists, who made little effort to conceal that they were receiving financial support from Lenin’s regime in Moscow. They happily declared neutrality toward Soviet Russia and hostility toward the Hetmanate.
In retrospect, the Hetmanate appears as a failed experiment in modern Ukrainian monarchism at a time when socialism was ‘all the rage’ in Europe, and the true nature of the Soviet regime was still largely unknown to the outside world. The Hetmanate of 1918 is a tale of ‘what might have been,’ as Ukraine’s subsequent horrors are now infamous in modern history. Skoropadsky died in exile in Germany in 1945, having refused to cooperate with the Nazis. A Ukrainian monarchist movement survived until the 1980s, based mostly in Canada. Skoropadsky’s daughter and closest living heir – Olena Skoropadska-Ott – died in 2014.
Following is an English version of an article by a Ukrainian author clarifying some key misunderstandings about the Hetmanate of 1918.
Dmytro Kalynchuk ~ Tyzhden.ua
Perhaps no leader in the history of Ukraine has been subjected to as much slander and humiliation as the Hetman of the Ukrainian State, Pavlo Skoropadsky. In what is – probably – a unique case, Hetman Pavlo was hated by almost all of his contemporaries.
For the socialists, he was the tsar’s general and ‘squire.’ For fans of the Russian Empire, he was a traitor and separatist. For the Bolsheviks, he was the general who stopped the Reds’ advance into Kyiv in November 1917 – and a class enemy. And most tragic of all, for Ukrainian patriots, he was a German puppet and White Guard sycophant. However, a detailed study of the period of the Hetmanate leads to very different conclusions.
The Hetman was criticized for having surrounded himself exclusively with supporters of the ‘single-indivisible’ Russia. This is not true. The Hetman’s administration included such well-known Ukrainian patriots as Vyacheslav Lypynsky, Sergey Shelukhyn, Dmytro Doroshenko, Mikhaylo Chubynsky (son of the author of the national anthem, ‘Ukraine Has Not Yet Perished’), the future ideologue of Ukrainian nationalism Dmytro Dontsov, and many others.
Mykola Mykhnovsky was invited to become a personal adviser to the Hetman, but the ideologist of Ukrainian independence would not accept a post lower than minister. Naturally, many former tsarist officials worked in the Ukrainian state apparatus, just as in the days of the Directorate.[i] Generals Galkin, Grekov, Sinkler and Yunakov were former tsarist generals: they did not speak the Ukrainian language, but this did not stop them from holding senior positions in the army of the UNR.[ii]
The Hetman was also criticized for the fact that, under his power, local authorities accepted many people who were openly hostile to Ukrainian identity. This certainly was the case. Distinguishing themselves as particularly odious were Kyiv Province Mayor Chartoryzhsky and Kharkiv Province Mayor Zalessky, who referred to Ukrainians as ‘Mazepites’[iii] and the Ukrainian language an ‘unnecessary innovation.’ Yet it was not the Directorate of the UNR that dismissed these characters from their posts. It was the administration of the Hetmanate – and precisely for ‘Ukrainophobia.’
The same goes for the death squads created by landowners to terrorize the peasants, and facilitated by the German command. These units were eliminated not by the rebels of the Atamans Angel or Green,[iv] but by the security centurions of the Derzhavna Varta (State Guard), by order of the Hetmanate’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Ihor Kistiakovsky.
Nor is it true that the period of the Hetmanate represented the continuous robbery of Ukraine by German troops. ‘Life in Yekaterinoslav was in full swing… After the Soviet famine, there was a sharp drop in prices for food, and there were huge quantities of food products at the markets,’ recalled Professor G. Igrenev.
The Hetmanate’s tenure in power actually represented a period of revival of Ukrainian industry after the devastating Bolshevik invasion. The production of one coal mine alone grew 1.5 times (from 30 to 50 million poods[v] per month) during the time of the Central Rada. Ukraine traded sugar, canned meat, butter, sunflower oil, etc., with Germany and Austria. Accusing the Hetman of all kinds of mortal sins, the Directorate of the UNR actually took full advantage of the Hetmanate’s economic achievements. ‘The impression was created of a dozen hands grasping at the Hetmanate’s treasures,’ recalled a staff officer of the Zaporizhia Army Corps of the UNR, the centurion Avramenko, during the first days of the Directory’s rule.
There is one charge that won’t wash off though, and that is the ‘Charter on the Federation of Ukraine with Russia.’ With this document, Hetman Skoropadsky – it seems – forever renounced the idea of the independence of Ukraine and demonstrated his commitment to the ‘single-indivisible.’[vi] But not everything was so simple.
The Verdict of the Entente
Critics of Pavlo Skoropadsky usually sidestep the fact that the Entente was making demands on the Hetmanate to unify Ukraine with Russia. After Germany lost WWI, the Entente became master of the situation. For the Entente, Ukraine was nothing but a German puppet regime. The countries of the Entente had a number of agreements with the government of Tsarist Russia. Acting on its behalf in the fall of 1918 was the Volunteer Army of General Anton Denikin, for whom ‘there is not, never has been, and never will be’ any Ukraine. The Entente countries did not want to support separatist movements that had arisen on the territory of its ally state – under any circumstances.
It is thus possible to consider Ukrainian diplomacy a success for the fact that the Entente’s representatives generally held talks with the envoys of the Hetmanate (they ignored the Directorate). However, they were prepared to recognize Ukraine only as a part of Russia. In any other circumstance, Ukraine would become for the Western states an ally of Germany, against which they would have waged war in alliance with the Volunteer Army. And Ukraine could not oppose them, as it had not yet managed to create its own army.
The Bolshevik threat also demanded agreement with the Allies. At the 6th Congress of Soviets, Leon Trotsky openly declared his intention to seize Ukraine the moment German troops left its territory. One very pragmatic factor convinced the Bolsheviks to carry out the seizure of Ukrainian lands: Ukraine had the harvest of 1918 in its hands, and Red Russia was dying of hunger. Only the forces of the Entente could give Ukraine time to deploy its own army.
But the Allies did not intend to restore the Russian Empire within its former borders either. That is why they did not demand that the Hetman eliminate Ukraine as a state entity, only that it unify with Russia to one degree or another. In fact, the Allies demanded that Ukraine revert to the state of affairs at the time of Hetman [Bohdan] Khmelnytsky, when Ukraine entered into the body of Russia, with its own government, army and judicial system.[vii] No one was offering Hetman Skoropadsky any other choice.
Federation with the Martians
Another fact that persistently evades critics of the Hetmanate is that the Hetman announced the Charter of Federation with a state that did not exist at the time. The only country going by the name ‘Russia’ in November 1918 was the Bolshevik republic, and Hetman Skoropadsky was – naturally – not going to unite with that. In November 1918, there were the self-declared states of the Ufa Directorate, the Great Army of the Don and the People’s Republic of the Kuban on the territory of the former Russian Empire. None of them were Russia. Hetman Skoropadsky could have proclaimed a union with Mars or Venus with the same degree of success.
The 35,000-strong Volunteer Army of General Denikin did not control a single territory at that time, and was located on the territory of the Don by agreement with the Don government. That is why the ‘Charter of Federation’ contains these words regarding Ukraine: ‘She is the first to appear in the matter of the All-Russian Federation, the ultimate goal of which will be the restoration of Great Russia.’
The man whom the ‘Charter of Federation’ had the power to make insanely angry was Gen. Anton Denikin. ‘Never, of course, will any kind of Russia – reactionary or democratic, republican or authoritarian – fail to repudiate Ukraine.’ Thus he expressed his attitude to the Ukrainian question clearly and succinctly. In the constitution of the Russian Empire, Ukraine had no autonomy. The command of the Volunteer Army saw no reason to somehow change this state of affairs in the future.
At the same time, nowhere in the ‘Charter of Federation’ is there any mention of the Hetman’s renunciation of power, or of the liquidation of Ukraine as a state entity. ‘The Hetman issued a message under the auspices of Russia on federative principles, by which Ukraine retains her sovereignty,’ wrote the ambassador of Ukraine in Berlin, Baron Fedir Shteingel, to former Foreign Minister Dmytro Doroshenko.
Because of the ‘Instrument of Federation,’ the command of the Volunteer Army found itself in a very interesting position. On the one hand, the Volunteers themselves were barefoot, hungry and too weak to resist the Bolsheviks. What awaited them was a long and exhausting war with a force that controlled the entire central part of Russia, followed by the no-less-arduous process of raising the country out of the ruins. They could not imagine how Russia’s political future would look. It had to be decided by the Constituent Assembly, the delegates of which had yet to be elected in a country where large numbers of people were under the rule of the Reds.
However, with the proclamation of the ‘Charter of Federation,’ Gen. Denikin was forced to put up with Ukraine as a reality. Ukraine became legitimate in the eyes of the Entente, and, moreover, the Hetman already controlled territory on which no civil war was going on, where industry worked and a sovereign foreign policy existed. The Volunteers had yet to create all this. Even with Don and Kuban, they had still to explain themselves somehow. In these circumstances, the likelihood that Ukraine would really become an enslaved part of Russia was almost zero.
The Hetman’s Multivector
The situation inside the country negated the foreign policy successes of the Hetmanate. The diary of Dmytro Dontsov describes repeated criticisms of the Hetman for the fact that he was forced to build Ukraine ‘in spite of the Ukrainians.’ Almost from the first day of his power, the Hetman had to overcome the resistance of Ukrainian society. The socialists of the Central Rada hated the Hetman and flatly refused to cooperate with him.
‘Svetozar Drahomanov (a bureaucrat in one of the ministries of the Central Rada) came to my chief, Vice-Minister of Internal Affairs Vyshnevsky, to announce his resignation, not wanting to remain in the “anti-Ukrainian government of the Hetman.” At this stage, Vyshnevsky spoke in Ukrainian, and Drahomanov in Russian,’ recalled Dontsov.
Refusing to work in the government, the socialists were actively subverting the state, not disdaining cooperation even with the Bolsheviks. Vynnychenko did not conceal the fact that even Red Moscow had allocated money to the socialists to overthrow the Hetman.
‘Negotiations with Manuilsky were based on the following: to achieve the neutrality of the Bolsheviks in our war against the Hetmanate. We had absolutely no hostile intent toward Soviet Russia,’ admitted Ukrainian National Union Chairman Mikita Shapoval. This was after the Battle of Kruty and the Kyiv massacre… [see Russian Brutality in Independent Ukraine ~ January 1918 – Ed.]
The Derzhavna Varta (State Guard, Police ‘A’) and the Special Department of the Staff of the Hetman (political intelligence) were aware of these activities and prevented them by all means. As a result, the Derzhavna Varta arrested many of the socialist leaders. Without batting an eyelid, the socialists portrayed these facts as repression against politically conscious Ukrainians.
On the one hand, the Hetman was under the pressure of the socialists’ destructive activity; on the other, he needed a lot of experienced managers. He had to choose people from among the many tsarist officials in the country. Plus, a huge number of businessmen, entrepreneurs and military personnel had fled from Bolshevism-plagued Russia. Even though all these people were very skeptical about the very existence of Ukraine, the Hetman nevertheless decided to use their talents as long as cadres of experienced managers and entrepreneurs had not yet emerged from among native Ukrainians. Naturally, for this Pavlo Skoropadsky had to make concessions on the cultural question – to de facto recognize the equal legal status of the Russian and Ukrainian languages.
The issue of school education, for example, was entrusted to local government bodies – the zemstvos. Hence, where most of the population (and thus – most of the zemstvo deputies) consisted of Russians (and this was all the major cities), the Ukrainianization of education almost did not happen. As a consequence, accusations were directed at the Hetman such as: ‘He brought the “single-indivisibles” to power,’ and ‘They are building Russia in Ukraine.’ These accusations were groundless. It was precisely under Hetman Skoropadsky that two Ukrainian universities appeared (in Kyiv and in Kamianets-Podilsky), about 150 lyceums were established, and the Academy of Sciences was created. Accusations of electoral repression against Ukrainians were also unfounded.
The right-wing pro-Russian organizations were harassed under the Hetmanate at least as much as the Ukrainian socialists were. On July 7th, 1918, the Derzhavna Varta dispersed a monarchist demonstration in Kyiv. Noteworthy is also the decree of the Hetmanate’s Ministry of Internal Affairs: ‘At the request of visitors, orchestras are playing monarchist Russian songs… while this is happening, those in attendance are listening and standing to salute… I decree: 1. Arrest the participants in these demonstrations and send them to Russia, so that they can salute officially there and not display their devotion to their cherished political ideas in restaurants and on promenades.’
Hetman Skoropadsky did try to talk to the Ukrainian socialists. On October 17th, 1918, when it became clear that Germany’s defeat in the war was only a matter of time, the Hetman declared a charter in which he expressed his intention to ‘stand on the soil of an independent Ukrainian state.’ On October 25th, five ministers were accepted into the government – Ukrainian National Union representatives Andriy Vyazlov, Olexander Lototsky, Petro Stebnytsky, Mykola Slavynsky (all from the Party of Socialists-Federalists) and Volodymyr Leontovych (non-partisan).
At the same time, Hetman Skoropadsky made an unprecedented compromise: the hated Ukrainian National Assembly power-ministers Ihor Kistyakovsky (Internal Affairs) and Borys Stelletsky (chief of the Hetman’s staff, which in particular controlled the Special Department) were fired. Both were extremely talented organizers, and removing them from their positions of course affected the quality of information that the Hetman received.
Yet the leaders of the socialists did not want mutual understanding. Already in September 1918 they were preparing an uprising against the Hetman. The latter was implemented as an initiative of the National Union, but in fact, behind it stood exclusively the leaders of the socialists and the command of military units of the Hetman’s army: Sich Riflemen, Black Sea Kosha, Zaporizhia divisions, the Railway Corps and the Podolsky Corps. ‘The National Union is not thinking about an armed struggle at all,’ lamented Mikita Shapoval.
Nevertheless, on behalf of the National Union was proclaimed the intention to gather the National Congress on November 17th in order to determine the future system of government in Ukraine. In fact, Vynnychenko and Shapoval were preparing a cancellation of the Hetmanate by the Congress. How did the Hetman view the prospect of his personal participation in this Congress? ‘Or to be at the head of the Ukrainian movement, trying to seize everything in my hands. Application was drawn up in such a way that I myself was ordering the Congress, by which I changed the membership myself, adding to it with members of not a single left-wing party,’ recounted Pavlo Skoropadsky.
However, on November 13th officers of the Special Department of the Staff of the Hetman arrested his chief of security, Colonel Arkas. Counter-intelligence agents learned from him that the rebels were already prepared to revolt, and that it was going to happen regardless of the decisions of the Congress. The same day, the leaders of the socialists and the rebel generals formed the Directorate and decided to begin the uprising. At that moment, there was still no ‘Instrument of Federation.’
Pavlo Skoropadsky was in a desperate situation. Going with the flow meant giving power to the socialists – i.e., to the people who had already brought Bolshevik occupation to the country. The Hetman was convinced that in the event of the socialists coming to power, the Bolsheviks would quickly gain control of Kyiv – and he was not mistaken. It was as though, to save Ukraine from enemy invasion, he had to go against the will of the Ukrainian people. And to the Hetman this was not the first time for building Ukraine ‘in spite of the Ukrainians.’
The Hetman’s officials decided to go for broke and rely on the ‘Special Corps’ – a military unit made up of pro-Russian officers, who in the future would have to be transferred to the front to Denikin (thus ridding Ukraine of these odious cadres). Unfortunately, in order to rely on the pro-Russian forces, it was necessary to declare the restoration of the ‘single-indivisible.’ It was then, on November 14th, that the ‘Charter of Federation’ appeared, a document that had been pressed on the Hetman by the Allies. ‘In Ukraine, the federation will take one of the first places because from it stems the order and legality of the territory,’ noted the Charter.
The Hetman grossly miscalculated in assessing the balance of power. After the Charter, even the Ukrainian parties that were his allies – agrarian-democrats and socialist-federalists – turned their backs on him. For the whole country, Pavlo Skoropadsky became a traitor. The Hetmanate’s officials still hoped that the rebels and ‘single-indivisibles’ would exhaust each other, and that the Hetman could emerge above the fray (actually, because of this the Hetman did not lead the army to suppress the rebels himself). Yet these hopes were not realized.
At the critical moment, partisans of the single-indivisible – previously very noisy at rallies and in newspaper columns – avoided en masse the mobilization to officer formations. General Keller, appointed commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, was such a fierce Ukrainophobe that even the Hetman’s Cossacks and ideological Hetmanate officers started going over to the side of the Directorate.
Hope for support from the Entente turned out to be in vain as well. The German units that were still stationed in Ukraine at the time carried out all the orders of ‘the countries of the agreement.’ The arrival in Kyiv of representatives of France (who were already in Odessa) would have been enough for the Germans to cease all negotiations with the Directorate and force the rebels to sit at the negotiating table with the Hetman. But the representatives of the Entente did not arrive in Kyiv. The Hetman had lost, and was forced to abdicate.
We should not exaggerate the role of the Hetman in all these events. Already within six months, Chief Ataman Petliura had presented the White Army command with the draft bill on Ukraine’s entry into Russia on a federative basis. But the conditions in which Petliura found himself then could not be compared with those of the Hetman. The Entente did not recognize the UNR and refused to speak with the representatives of the Directorate.
Denikin had not the slightest desire to go to any negotiations with the ‘separatist Petliura.’ The Ukrainian army was doomed to war on three fronts and further internment. The Bolsheviks implemented the final plan on the autonomous status of Ukraine as a constituent part of the renewed Empire. Ukraine paid for such autonomy with the Holodomor [the state-imposed famine in Ukraine from 1932-33 – Ed.] and the delights of Stalin’s GULAG.
‘The Charter of the Federation of Ukraine and Russia’ was evaluated differently even by its contemporaries. The head of the Ukrainian Hetmanate’s telegraph agency, Dmytro Dontsov, considered it a betrayal: ‘That the Charter proclaimed a federation with a defunct Russia does not justify it. Questions of state independence are not a matter of tactics, but principles.’
At the same time, the former chairman of the Sich Riflemen, Osyp Nazaruk, who had personally put a reference to the ‘Federative Charter’ in the declaration of the Directorate, as an émigré sincerely repented his participation in the rebellion against the Hetman. He did not consider the ‘Charter of Federation’ to be a betrayal ‘because Skoropadsky accustomed Moscow to Ukraine, not Ukraine in Moscow.’
By Dmytro Kalynchuk, first published in Tyzhden ~ 15 November 2012
Russian Translation: Argument
[i] The Ukrainian social-democratic government led by Volodymyr Vynnychenko and Symon Petliura
[ii] Ukrainian People’s Republic – the social-democratic republic that existed before and after the Hetmanate
[iii] Followers of 18th-century Ukrainian Hetman Ivan Mazepa, who betrayed Peter the Great by allying with Sweden against Russia
[iv] The Atamans – or ‘Commanders’ – Yevhen Angel and Danylo Terpylo (widely known as the ‘Green Ataman’), led rebellions against the Bolsheviks and on the territory of the former Russian Empire in 1918-19.
[v] A pood is a unit of weight measurement equal to about 1.38 kg.
[vi] Adherents to the Russian imperialist concept of a ‘single and indivisible’ Russian Empire
[vii] Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky was Hetman of the Zaporizhian Host of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. He led an uprising against the Polish Crown in 1648 and created a Ukrainian Cossack state. In 1654, having considered an alliance with the Ottoman Empire, Khmelnytsky entered into a treaty with Moscow to secure the protection of the Russian Tsar for his Orthodox Christian state. There followed a period in Ukrainian history known as ‘The Ruin,’ when Ukraine was torn apart by war, internal political rivalries, and Russian subversion.
8 June 2015
Ukrainian journalist: Large-scale ethnic cleansing in Crimea and Donbas
Outsiders have difficulty ascertaining precisely what is happening militarily in the separatist regions of Ukraine. This is no less true for demographics. Unquestionably, hundreds of thousands of the residents of the separatist territories of eastern Ukraine have been internally displaced – accommodated somewhere further West within the country. Anecdotal tales of families from the Donbas and Crimea resettled in Kyiv, the Carpathians and other areas have been common for over a year. What is less clear is the degree to which – on the eastern (Russian) side – displacement and resettlement are part of a more systematic, deliberate demographic policy. It has to be remembered that the question of ethnicity in Ukraine is opaque: many identifying themselves as ethnic Ukrainians are lifelong Russian-speakers. Among these, many residents of eastern Ukraine sympathized more with Moscow as their ‘center’ of cultural and civilizational identity than with Kyiv. Unfortunately, given Moscow’s history of moving indigenous populations, cultural sympathy does not guarantee one’s place of residence forever. Ethnic Ukrainian Russian-speakers in the separatist ‘people’s republics’ could easily find themselves deported into the vast Russian heartland as the Kremlin ‘Russifies’ those regions already under de facto Russian control.
This scenario is implied unambiguously by a Ukrainian journalist and blogger named Pyotr Oleshchuk on his facebook page, and reposted on the Politolog.net site of activist Sergey Naumovich. It bears reading and pondering for what it implies about the extent to which Russia has progressed in terms of its treatment of ethnic minorities since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
8 June 2015 ~ Politolog.net
What do you think is happening right now in Crimea and the Donbas, if you discard all the tinsel?
What’s happening is the biggest ethnic cleansing of the 21st century – comparable to the cleansings of the past. We are talking here about millions of displaced persons! It is ethnic cleansing: the destruction of the whole Ukrainian (and, in this case, also the Crimean Tatar) population. And this is in the heart of Europe…
I often encounter the opinion that, after all, the USSR collapsed. The Russians simply picked up and left Eastern Europe. The United States did not recognize the accession of the Baltic countries [to the Soviet Union], and they became independent. And all of this is extrapolated to Crimea. They’re moving away from there too.
But there is one problem. They did not leave Lithuania or Latvia because the States demanded that they do so. Rather, it was because a fairly strong nation remained there. And the nation fought for itself – and won.
But the Russians are still in Königsberg. Why is that? Because there are no native people left there. They were all eliminated or deported.
Kaliningrad will never again be Königsberg, no matter how many centuries it existed as a German city in the past. If Russians have learned one thing, it is that the most reliable method of building an empire is by ethnic cleansing. Destroy an ethnos, and no one will ever bring a claim against you for having taken something from them. ‘The dead don’t bite.’
All the geopolitical ‘successes’ of Russia over the last century have been built on ethnic cleansing. What made ‘independent Abkhazia’ possible? Correct: the elimination and deportation all local Georgians.
And this is nothing new. Have you ever wondered who populated Siberia and the Volga region before the Russians? After all, this area wasn’t a desert, was it? Where have all the different nationalities gone? Oh yes, there they went. Some (such as the ‘Volga Finns’ of ancient lore) assimilated. Others were destroyed. There are no princely descendants of tribal chiefs. Siberia would become inherently Russian.
And in the Donbas and Crimea it is simply necessary to deepen the process that which was not fully completed under Stalin.
Destroy everything that is ethnically native. Move there. Build a military outpost.
They always operate this way. They destroy and expel as soon as they enter onto someone else’s land.
It is enough to destroy 10 per cent, and the other 90 will flee by themselves. The objective has been achieved. You can move there.
And then – liberate, or don’t liberate…