The Spate of Mysterious Deaths Continues
We have previously reported on a series of mysterious “suicides” of former members of Viktor Yanukovich’s Party of the Regions in Ukraine (see “Mysterious Deaths in Ukraine” for details and the list of the dear departed as of March 26). At the time it wasn’t quite clear whether this was a falling out among thieves, or what seemed more likely, a politically motivated series of murders which the government duly neglected to investigate by declaring even quite obviously suspicious deaths suicides. After we posted the article, yet another former Party of the Regions politician died of a gunshot wound – Oleg Kalashnikov (aptly named for the occasion). Spinning this one as a suicide was difficult, but the authorities were nevertheless curiously reluctant to call it a murder, preferring to simply say nothing instead.
The late Oles Buzyna: a critic of the government who didn’t want Ukraine to join the EU, misidentified as therefore “pro-Russian” in the Western mainstream press. He was gunned down in Kiev in such a manner that a suicide could definitely be ruled out.
Photo credit: Sergei Vaganov / AP
However, when a government-critical journalist, Oles Buzyna was recently murdered by two sharp shooters while jogging near his home, it became altogether impossible to call it a suicide again. A few hours later, yet another journalist critical of the government, Sergey Sukhobok, was killed in Kiev. Sukhobok was born in Donetsk and vehemently opposed to the government’s use of force in Eastern Ukraine. Buzyna, while a severe critic of extremist nationalists and the government, was not simply “pro Russian” either, as Justin Raimondo notes here. Rather, he was in favor of Ukrainian independence, without wanting the country to be subsumed in the EU’s superstate monstrosity.
Raimondo also points to a number of other things the government in Kiev has done in recent months that are not exactly compatible with the fairy tale of Ukraine’s new leadership representing converts to “Western values”:
Legislation recently passed outlaws all “Communist” propaganda and symbolism, as well as Nazi emblems – but hails the OUN, the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, which fought alongside the German SS during World War II.
However, the list of bans doesn’t stop there: it includes all inter-bank transactions over $10,000 and all gold transactions over $125. And to top it off, they’ve also banned Bitcoins – in the name of “protecting consumers’ rights”!
Between being drafted for fighting in an internecine war and all the bans listed above, we are wondering how well Ukrainians like their newly-won “freedoms” these days. In this context, one fact remains that no amount of propaganda can disguise: almost a million Ukrainian citizens have fled the country since the coup. Often military conscription agents will find entire villages deserted. What is however most noteworthy about this is not just that so many have fled, but their destination: almost to a man, they have fled to Russia. Surely this is a case of res ipsa loquitur.
New Information Surfaces
Recently new information about the murders has come to light. Over the weekend there were appeals in the European press to the government in Kiev to finally do something about the wave of sudden deaths. As one article noted (we are paraphrasing – Google offers a reasonably good translation for those who want to read the original): One cannot point fingers at the Kremlin when Boris Nemzov is killed, and not point fingers at Kiev when prominent government critics and opposition figures are murdered by the dozen in Ukraine.
One day later, a nationalist group calling itself the “Ukrainian Insurgent Army”, after the UPA of the 1940s (the best known leaders of which were Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych) took responsibility for the murders of the journalists and several others. It also sent e-mails to the parliamentary opposition (such as it is: since the civil war started, the opposition in parliament has been decimated due to the lustration law, the ban of the communist party, bans on numerous other opposition candidates, as well as the impossibility to vote in the regions in which voters are most strenuously opposed to the current government).
Flag of the original UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army), which fought the Soviets in WW2.
These e-mails threatened further assassinations, giving all “anti-Ukrainian persons” 72 hours to leave the country. It pompously announced that “the time of the people’s wrath is here”. While a spokesman for Ukraine’s ministry of the interior referred to the senders of the email as “psychopaths”, the government at the same time absurdly accused Moscow to have murdered the journalists. This is akin to accusing Ted Cruz of having concocted Obamacare.
A stamp showing a picture of one of the leaders of the real UPA: Roman Shukhevych
So this is the current state of affairs. Whether this nationalist group that has taken responsibility for the murders really exists or has been inserted as a front for someone else cannot be determined (at least not yet), but the fact remains that the only people who have died were all opposed to the government. In that sense, it all feels like a very convenient political cleansing operation, a bit like a small-scale purge a la Stalin. What is alarming is the obvious reluctance of the government to take steps to properly investigate the deaths.
Similarly, there have never been proper investigations into the shootings on Maidan Square (which had all the hallmarks of a “false flag” operation, as even a cursory examination by journalists immediately revealed. More and more doubts are surfacing in the meantime) or the burning of “pro Russian” protesters in Odessa’s trade union building. Not only is the government not investigating these events properly, it is actually actively hindering attempts to conduct a thorough investigation.
This remind us that although nowadays everybody in the West just “knows” that MH-17 was brought down either by the separatists or the Russians (“Putin did it” is engraved in many a mind), we have still not even heard word one about the investigation. Kiev still refuses to release the air traffic controller tapes, the ballistic examinations remain under wraps, the black boxes remain black. We have always assumed that an inadvertent shot by the separatists was a highly likely explanation, but the secretiveness surrounding the investigation, the long time that has passed without any tangible information being released once again is strange, to say the least.
Politics in Ukraine continues to be characterized by the East/West divide that was so clearly visible in maps of Ukrainian elections and the distribution of the Ukrainian and Russian language (see “Mapping the Conflict in Ukraine” for details on this). While the new government wants to be seen as embodying Western values in contrast to the kleptocracies that previously governed the country, both its actions and omissions very often seem at odds with this aspiration, to say the least.
For more than two decades after independence, ethnic Russians and ethnic Ukrainians managed to live in peace, in spite of always present underlying tensions (these tensions occasionally surfaced in the form of fist fights in the Rada). Governments, corrupt though they were, quite often consisted of coalitions between Western and Eastern Ukrainian politicians. The coup that violently deposed the undoubtedly also quite corrupt president Yanukovich a mere day after he had signed every demand the opposition had made of him, is widely considered a righteous attempt to achieve “democratic improvement”. And yet, the events surrounding that day remain as murky as ever, and since then a civil war is raging and political opposition is dealt with by means of bans and murder. Somehow we don’t think this is what most of the protesters in Maidan Square really had in mind.