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  • Dispatch from the Road Pt 2
    The first business is a dance school with a proper ballet floor that also offers morning yoga classes. Other businesses include an art gallery, a workshop with rotating artists, a video and animation studio, research and design for Shuflia Leather Manufacturing, a business to test robots, a large We Work-style area where startups can rent space, the IT company Lotatech, Metalab workshop to address community needs, and importantly, the investment department of Ivano-Frankivsk city administration.

    Fylyuk is quick to point out that what he has in mind is not just an office center. He wants ethical sustainable businesses in the old factory. This is also the first physical space in Ukraine where businesses, nongovernmental organizations, and representatives from city government have all worked alongside each other.

    Fylyuk explains his five-year plan for Promprylad. So far, he has raised $1.2 million. He needs to raise another $25 million. Half of the space will be commercial and half will be set aside for nonprofits. Seventy percent of the occupants will pay market rates, while 30 percent will be subsidized for education and art.

    As we sit and sip coffee, it takes effort not to gasp or alternatively tell Fylyuk that hes crazy as he shows me the blueprints for the master plan. It includes a state-of-the-art concert hall for 3,000 people, as well as a hotel, gym, food court, brewery, art center, childrens center, and R&D center.

    I begin to see just how revolutionary Fylyuk is.

    If this works out, the entire former Soviet Union looks like this, Hlibovytsky said. Hes right, of coursebut he may not be thinking big enough. If Fylyuk succeeds, the model might be copied in rust-belt cities across the United States as well.

    In its heyday, the factory made gas meters and sold them in sixty-four countries. With Fylyuks business smarts, Ivano-Frankivsks new transport links, and the citys growing reputation, transforming the old factoryand the citymay be doable.

    The next item on his to-do list is to buy the building for $4.5 million, and Fylyuk is anything but stressed.

    Hlibovytsky, who sits on the supervisory board of Teple Misto (Warm City), the NGO that oversees both Promprylad and Urban Space 100, says hes impressed by Fylyuk. He thinks that Ukraines future political leaders will emerge from business. Fylyuk is a new kind of accountable leader who listens to counsel and is receptive to critical feedback, a refreshing contrast to the autocratic Soviet school of leadership. The board put the brakes on Fylyuks expansion plans three times, and he listened.

    Fylyuk grew up in Transnistria, the no-mans land between Ukraine and Moldova, and moved to Ivano-Frankivsk when he was thirteen. As a university student, he was actively involved in student politics and served as a regional director of a major student organization in eastern Ukraine. With his low-key manner, service ethos, and shy smile, Fylyuk is incredibly likable and likely to appeal to a wide swath of Ukrainians. Hes worldly but not pretentious, speaks fluent English, and knows how to lead teams.

    I ask Fylyuk if he wants to go into national politics, but he says hes not interested now. Hes too busy trying to start a middle-class revolution in Ukraine.

    æ, !

    Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


    • Ukraines 2019 Elections May Be Completely Unpredictable but Five Things Are Certain
      ATLANTIC COUNCIL Brian Mefford January 9, 2019

      2019 is election year in Ukraine. Ukrainians will select a new president this spring and a new parliament in the fall. Even though the outcome of the presidential race is unpredictable, there are five things about this political cycle that are not.

      First, no openly pro-Russian candidate can win and this is a major change from the past. In every Ukrainian election from independence until 2012, the pro-Russian electorate played a significant role. This bloc consisted of almost a quarter of voters and pro-Russian candidates won in 1994 and 2010. However, the irony for Vladimir Putin is that by annexing Crimea and occupying part of the Donbas he eliminated the most pro-Russian segment of the Ukrainian electorate. Now the ethnic Russian population of Ukraines electorate is approximately ten to twelve percent. Consequentially, the leading pro-Russian candidate, Yuriy Boyko, is averaging just 10.5 percent in polls and running fourth. Thus, pro-Russian candidates in Ukraine are destined to play the role of permanent opposition and perennial losers.

      Second, the polls will prove to be very wrong. Ukrainian media publishes almost daily polls, all of which show Tymoshenko leading, a relatively new face in a distant second place, and the president in third. However, if most US polls in 2016 wrongly predicted a Hillary Clinton victory, how much more can Ukrainian polling be off the mark? Ukrainian pollsters often skew results according to who pays for the poll. More reputable polling firms adjust the numbers by up to 3 percent, while more questionable ones adjust by at least 5-7 percent. Polls are no longer objective indicators of public sentiment, but rather tools for influencing public opinion and creating specific narratives. For example, the public is being told that Tymoshenko is destined for victory because she is in first place, but this narrative fails to point out that 80 percent of Ukrainians prefer a different candidate. When four out of five prefer someone else, that is not destiny but deception.

      Third, the majority of presidential candidates are actually campaigning for parliament. Six candidates currently average 10 percent in the presidential pollsPoroshenko, Tymoshenko, comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy, former defense minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko, Radical Party Leader Oleh Lyashko, and Opposition Bloc leader Yuriy Boykobut Tymoshenko and Poroshenko are the ones to watch. The other four are campaigning for seats in the parliamentary elections, and standing in the presidential election is merely a method to raise their visibility beforehand. Since parliament elects the prime minister, having a large parliamentary faction is the goal. Thus, while Zelensky enjoys the benefit of being the protest vote of the month, Ukrainians voters have historically rejected such candidates. As Zelenskiy is eventually defined as oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyis stealth candidate, his rating will rapidly drop. Hrytsenko and Lyashko have made political splashes in the past, but faded on election day. Boyko, without Crimea and the occupied Donbas, is already maxed out.

      Fourth, Tymoshenko and Poroshenko will battle again in the runoff. The two squared off in the 2014 presidential election, with Poroshenko winning easily by 39 points. Now the 2019 election is shaping up as a rematch, with polls giving Tymoshenko an average of a seven-point edge. However, Poroshenkos rating was rising prior to securing independence for Ukraines Church, and the powers of incumbency are always strong, so expect a close runoff between the two candidates.

      Fifth, the winner of the presidential election will have momentum going into the parliamentary elections. Polls show that eight to ten parties would get enough votes to enter parliament but none would hold a dominant position. Therefore, any parliamentary majority would need to include a multi-party coalition. However, the polls reflect only half the picture since half of the MPs will be elected from districts (majoritarians) and are left out of the current polling. In 2014, Poroshenko received 53 percent of the vote in the May presidential and 22 percent in Octobers parliamentary elections. After the election, he more than doubled his faction size by adding majoritarians. Expect a similar situation this year. Typically majoritarians are business owners who want friendly relations with the government. Whoever wins the presidential election will find scores of majoritarians ready to make deals to protect their businesses. Attempts to change the election law to abolish majoritarian districts have met with lukewarm support from parliament.

      Some will complain that these elections will be similar to previous ones with the same old faces returning to power. To some degree, those criticisms are right. However, the paradigm has shifted with Ukraines European civilization choice. The public demands higher standards, more transparency, and is no longer content to accept statements from their leaders at face value. Ukrainians are now empowered, and an empowered citizenry is what will lead Ukraine forward, long after the old political faces fade.

      æ, !

      Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


      • From unstoppable immigrant flood to female Santa Claus: Christmas-time propaganda
        EUROMAIDAN PRESS EUs East StratCom Task Force 2019/01/12 - 02:53

        As usual, the Russian disinformation during the Christmas holidays showed migrants as bogeymen, Ukraine as an aggressor state, and the West as morally decadent. However, there was a new element in the decadent-West narrative: Russian propaganda stated that a quarter of Americans support transforming Santa Claus into a female or gender-neutral character.
        New Year is a time for resolutions, but can also be a time of uncertainty. What better moment to play on the fear of the unknown and to dig out old, well-known deterrents?

        This time, pro-Kremlin disinformation put migrants in the bogeymen role. Migrants flooding Georgia were supposed to be the consequence of the UN Global Migration Compact; the West would allegedly force Georgia to accept immigrants without the countrys control. However, the publicly available Migration Compact does not talk about forcing anybody to do anything.

        Migrants were also portrayed as people who cause significant increases in public disorder, robberies, and rapes in Germany, as well as turning Europe into an Islamic region, a narrative we are well familiar with. These claims might well play on real concerns but they distort and exacerbate feelings and are not supported by any statistics or reliable evidence.
        Illegal immigrants were also presented as a problem which would allegedly cause the suspension of the EU visa-free regime for Ukraine. Wide cover
        age of the matter made references to the report of the European Commission on the visa liberalization in 26 countries. The fact that this report
        does not mention any intention to suspend the arrangement with Ukraine apparently did not deter the disinforming sources.

        Ukraine shown as an aggressor over and over again

        The pro-Kremlin media continued its well-known information attacks on Ukraine: the country was presented as the provocateur in the Kerch Strait. At the same time, the disinforming outlets claimed that tensions in Ukraine will be used for religious persecution by the countrys president, Petro Poroshenko, and by NATO.

        On a more peaceful note did you know that the West allegedly has a pro-LGBT motive in backing the Ukrainian Orthodox Church? And the situation in Ukraine will continue to deteriorate, we were told, but not as a result of the Russian occupation of eastern Ukraine. Instead, it is the fault of moral decay a diagnosis often used for incriminating Western countries.

        As elections are nearing in Ukraine, the authorities in Kyiv were accused of rendering them illegitimate because of the decision to close polling stations in Russia. On the other hand the pro-Kremlin media told us that the outcome of the Ukrainian election will be decided in Washington, and the US invested in the Euromaidan protests and is now waiting for the dividend. How the two disinfo narratives combine, is impossible to assess.

        Female Santa and decadent West

        Staying in the spirit of Christmas, heres another disinfo example: 27% of Americans are in favor of transforming Santa Claus into a woman or a gender-neutral character. What the disinforming outlets forgot to mention that this number came out of an online survey by a graphic design company, conducted for entertainment purposes, with responses from 514 Americans.

        And all this to portray the EU, NATO and the West as morally decadent, full of chaos and crime, on the brink of demise, and forcing other countries to act against their sovereign will. We have seen it all before, and we will see it again, as this is one of the numerous ways that pro-Kremlin disinformation is trying to convince the audience that there can only be one result of East-West cooperation a negative one.
        As you can see, moving into 2019 Russian doctrine is as serious as ever about taking advantage of the word, camera, photo and internet as another type of weapon.

        æ, !

        Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


        • Ukraine remained under information fire from Russia in 2018
          EUROMAIDAN PRESS EUs East StratCom Task Force 2019/01/12 - 03:52

          Almost five years into the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the Kremlins use of the information weapon against Ukraine has not decreased; Ukraine still stands out as the most misrepresented country in pro-Kremlin media.

          2018: Assessing the damage
          Ukraine tops the EUvsDisinfo database as the most frequent target with 461 references among a total of 1,000 disinformation cases reported in the course of 2018.

          Out of the 212 reports appearing in the anti-fake section of the independent Russian outlet The Insider in 2018, 60 were about Ukraine (including Crimea). In its latest publications before the holidays, The Insiders fact-checkers found problems e.g. in Russian state medias reporting about Ukraines foreign debts, about the Ukrainian army, and about the countrys president.

          The Kyiv-based online outlet StopFake, which monitors the way pro-Kremlin media portray Ukraine, recently presented a Top 10 of disinformation targeting Ukraine in 2018. StopFakes list includes reports claiming that Ukrainian children are forced to play with stuffed Adolf Hitler dolls; that Ukrainian students are forced to reject relatives living in Russia and that Ukraines national church is becoming the Christian version of ISIS.

          Dehumanize, demoralize, make Ukraine the guilty party
          Pro-Kremlin disinformation about Ukraine targets audiences in Russia, in Ukraine and in third countries, including the West.

          Domestic audiences in Russia are e.g. faced with narratives which dehumanize Ukrainians and show the authorities in Kyiv as a cynical modern heir to 20th century Nazism. Such a strategy can turn Ukraine into an acceptable target of the Kremlins military aggression.

          Ukrainian audiences are likely to know their own country better than to believe the above examples; but they can perhaps be affected by the attempts to belittle the countrys military capabilities as a way of targeting Ukrainian morale in the conflict with Russia.

          Western and other audiences in the international community are the obvious targets when pro-Kremlin media try to present Ukraine as the guilty party in the ongoing conflict with Russia. Casting doubt on Russias responsibility was clearly the aim of the long-term disinformation campaign leading up to the recent escalation of the conflict in the Azov Sea. A similar strategy has also been central in the attempts to sow doubt about Russias role in the downing of Flight MH17.

          Presenting political change as a failure
          A separate cluster of messages aims at showing Ukraines Euromaidan Revolution and the changes it brought about in Ukrainian society as a failure.

          A vivid example of this was the recent interview with an alleged disappointed Ukrainian, broadcast by Russian state TV, where the interviewee turned out to be a Belarusian actor.

          This kind of reporting addresses those Russian audiences who could potentially want to see similar change coming to their country, as well as audiences in other countries neighboring Russia, which could also look to Ukraine for inspiration.

          Finally, if Western audiences can be led to believe this kind of message, on top of the claims that Ukraine is not a real state and that Ukrainians and Russians are one people, the Kremlin can hope that political sentiments in the West will be tempted to see support and solidarity with Ukraine as not worth the while. The Kremlin can perhaps dream that it will eventually lead Ukraines partners to swallow the pill of accepting the country as in the Kremlins sphere of interest.

          æ, !

          Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


          • Russian analyst: Two simple reflexes explain Putins decisions
            EUROMAIDAN PRESS Paul Goble 2019/01/12 - 12:32

            Vladimir Putin at a meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2013 (Image: Alexander Petrosyan)

            As the gap between what Vladimir Putin says and does and what Russians see around them widens, ever more analysts offer convoluted explanations for what is going on, but Aleksey Shaburov argues that much of this is unnecessary over-interpretation and that the Kremlin leaders actions are driven not by clever plans but by two simple reflexes.

            The editor of Yekaterinburgs Politsovet portal says that the first of these reflexes is to take as much as one can, to gain profits and resources from any possibility of that which opens even if in the longer term, this could turn out to be disastrous.

            Among examples of this are last years pension reform and tax increases, steps taken not because of some grand plan, Shaburov says, but rather reflexively as a result of declines in income from other sources such as the sale of oil and gas abroad or smaller tax receipts because of declines in economic activity.

            The regimes reform of trash collection is the same: as a result of changes, Russians have to pay and the state receives several times more money than it did before. Paid parking in the major cities also takes more money from the citizenry and gives it to those in the Putin elite.

            One hardly needs to be a profound analyst to understand: such actions inevitably lead to the increase in anger in society. Last year, the ratings of the powers that be crashed after the pension reform and six months later havent recovered. Sociologists, even those close to the authorities find a growth in dissatisfaction. But the powers arent changing their behavior.

            Shaburov says that it sometimes seems that this is being done specially, that someone intentionally wants to anger Russians in order to achieve some political goal. But most likely this isnt the case. This is simply a reflex action.

            According to the Yekaterinburg commentator, the second reflex is to put pressure on everyone one can put pressure on. The regime has always been repressive, but in the past, it focused such actions on only a narrow group of opposition activists. But now, it is becoming more repressive and moving against broad strata of the society both above and below.

            The latest manifestation of this, Shaburov continues, is the package of draft laws proposed by Senator Andrey Klishas, which include introducing administrative responsibility up to arrest for a demonstration on the Internet of an obvious lack of respect for the organs of power. The bills provision in regard to that is so broad that anyone could fall afoul of such a law should the authorities want to bring charges.

            But there are also signs that the Kremlin may even arrest those close to it. Several Telegram channels are reporting that about 20 governors may be arrested, and observers say that the regime plans to give the siloviki ever more powers in politics, with more prohibitions and arrests thus likely.

            The desire to put pressure on everyone who moves and thus may present some even minimal threat is a reflex not a policy, Shaburov continues.

            No thought or strategy stands behind it because any rational reflection would suggest that it will not bring any positive results for the society and the economy in the long term.

            Shifting ones analytic perspective to reflexes explains a lot, he says. Reflexes in life forms work even when the brain and the central nervous system are no longer functioning. Applied to politics, this can mean that there is no plan or strategy in fact, even when leaders suggest there is. After all, they say that because they have to say something.

            But on the other hand, reflexes are not senseless: their task is to help one survive. And in Russia today, self-preservation may be considered the most important and even the only task of the powers that be. They arent making plans beyond trying to do what will keep them in power as long as possible, and the two reflexes help them do so.

            Relying on them alone, Shaburov says, will allow the authorities to hold on for a certain time, but not forever, a task that reflexes alone cannot solve.

            æ, !

            Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


            • Stalins NKVD and Hitlers Gestapo cooperated closely even before Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
              EUROMAIDAN PRESS Paul Goble 2019/01/13 - 12:42

              Perhaps the only thing that outrages Russian defenders of Stalin more than the obvious parallels between his regime and Hitlers is any reference to the alliance the two dictators formed in 1939 with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, one that opened the way to war in Europe and lasted until Hitler turned on his former ally in June 1941.

              But now there may be something even more offensive to such defenders of Stalin and his system: the discovery of documents which confirm that Stalins NKVD cooperated closely with the Gestapo well before the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was signed and that may have paved the way to its signature.

              Dmitry Volchek of Radio Svoboda reports that documents recently released from the archives of the KGB offices in Ukraine show that the NKVD handed over to the Gestapo refugees from Germany who had hoped to find in the USSR salvation from Hitler.

              Beginning well before 1939 and continuing right up to the German invasion, the Soviet secret police sent hundreds of refugees to their imprisonment, torture and in many cases death at the hands of the Gestapo. At first, it involved mostly German citizens; but later, this cooperation expanded to include others as well.

              German historian Wilhelm Mensing has set up a website, The NKVD and the Gestapo at, devoted to the fate of those who fled Hitlers Germany only to be arrested in the USSR, sent to the GULAG or handed back to the Nazis. [Mensing is also the author of Von der Ruhr in den GULAG (2001) among other books.]

              The documents from Ukraine are especially important for two reasons:

              In East Germany, any reference to this practice was prohibited; and there are few documents about it in Stasi files, Mensing says;
              And in Russia, the secret police files that presumably do contain documents about it remain classified and thus inaccessible to researchers.

              Volchek asked Mensing about similarities between the NKVD and the Gestapo. The German historian answered that they shared the specific qualities of the secret police. The Gestapo exterminated the Jewish population in occupied countries: this was its unique feature. On the other hand, the number of victims of the NKVD was apparently larger.

              The numbers varied, but the pitilessness was the same, he continued. Both the Gestapo and the NKVD were instruments in the hands of criminal rulers and despotic tyrants.


              æ, !

              Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


              • Fifty shades of Ukrainian populism: Tymoshenko, Zelenskyi, and the Chiaroscuro principle
                EUROMAIDAN PRESS Bohdan Ben 2019/01/15 - 21:46

                Charlie Chaplin hides in a house of mirrors in "The Circus." Not dramatically different than Ukrainian voters hiding from populists.

                Its populism time in Ukraine. The 2019 elections have Ukrainian politicians competing with each other for the most populist promise, and Ukrainians are happy to believe them. Some authors warn that populism is a threat to society but if we look at it through the lens of the Chiaroscuro principle, we will find out how populism can help democracy. As well as face the ghost of the Soviet past coming to haunt Ukraine.

                The three-month campaign leading up to the spring presidential elections officially started on 31 December 2018. According to current polls, no single candidate stands out. Among leading candidates, however, most can be classified as Populists according to the messages they espouse messages that at best can be called misleading and at worst mendacious. To gain popularity, they put forward short-lived solutions for day-to-day problems such as low income and high prices. A long-term strategy for substantive reform is absent.

                One of these leading candidates, Yulia Tymoshenko, has gained 17% of support, as noted in a recent poll. At the same time, she is one of the top-three most misleading Populist politicians, according to VoxCheck.

                VoxCheck is a project of VoxUkraine, an independent analytical platform founded in 2014 after the Revolution of Dignity. VoxChecks mandate is to monitor speeches of politicians, rate their degree of misrepresentation and publish them. VoxCheck also monitors public discourse.

                A recent Tymoshenkos statement at national forum illustrates her underlying hypocrisy: Populism originates from the Latin word populus and means nothing else than serving to people. Her forum slogan indeed reflects a desire to serve, New social doctrine: new possibilities for everyone. No one can argue with such a stance, but does it hold any credence? Not when behind it are such contrary goals as low prices for natural gas, achieving peace with Russia, and creating a strong independent state and to achieve all of this without incurring additional public debt with the IMF.

                A two-fold role of populism: approaching Ukrainian populism in cold blood

                Populist political views are determined by peoples immediate needs and wants. They are subjective and offer a quick resolution, but rarely take into account the objective realities of the world around them. Populists usually appeal to short-, not long-term goals. Their speeches typically exploit these vital needs and wants, simultaneously pointing the finger of blame at the official government which has failed to solve these problems hence, the widely-held scientific assertion that Populists strongly oppose corrupt elites in favor of honest hardworking people.

                However, it would be misleading to portray Populists only in the negative a threat to democracy as some authors tend to do.
                Actually, populism has an important role to play in preserving democracy. It is, in effect, a symptom showing that current mainstream politics dont address the real issues confronting people when there is a lack of dialogue between elites and citizens.

                ontrary to Populists, professional technocrat governments abide by a theory of governing from a purely rational or practical stanceat times disregarding and even opposing public concerns. The gap between this approach and public concerns is successfully occupied by Populists. They essentially reflect back what was already known to be needed thus, gaining support through mirroring the qualms of the populace. In that way, Populism pacifies the populace, makes it vocal, and serves to soften potential troubles, protests, and revolutions.

                Ukrainian political scientist Ivan Gomza describes a dual role of populism using two metaphors in his article Light and shadow of populism.

                The first metaphor is that of a Doppelgnger, a German term that comes to us from the literature of Romanticism. A Doppelgnger is defined as an ominous twin that embodies danger.

                The second metaphor is Chiaroscuro, an Italian term referring to a technique of painting, where part of a picture is shadowed in order to accentuate the part which is light.

                Doppelgnger. Source: article Light and shadow of populism

                Using the Doppelgnger metaphor, populism aims to exaggerate the democratic power of people to its radical and dangerous extreme. Populism elevates the will of the people to the level where it becomes the end itself it needs to be fulfilled irrespective of reality, such as financial means or available resources. In practice, this naive approach to governing either cannot be implemented or, if implemented, ruins the state. In both scenarios, society becomes disillusioned and democratic stability is threatened. As society matures and people understand the limits of state capacity and accept the reality of long-term realization of policy goals, they become better equipped to make more mature decisions, and ultimately to elect better politicians and create a more effective government.

                Chiaroscuro technique used in the painting Narcissus (Caravaggio). Source: article Light and shadow of populism

                As to the Chiaroscuro metaphor, populism in truth reveals those questions or grievances that otherwise would not be visible. By voting for Populists, people are saying that mainstream politics has ignored them and their appeals. Populism should be viewed as a warning to professional elites there is a good reason for them to consider peoples needs. Thus populism promotes the restoration of dialog and linkage between people and elites.

                In terms of these two metaphors, the words of Tymoshenko about populism can be refined: populists indeed serve to people by listening to them and repeating publicly their needs but it is an empty pledge because the possibility of implementation is not there. By listening to populists, one can learn a lot about populace concerns and thoughts, but very little about the real situation in the state.

                By examining Ukrainian populism, we would like to define the main social grievances they play upon. For this purpose, we have defined five populist narratives, as supported by VoxCheck data.

                æ, !

                Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                • Shades of Populism Pt 2
                  Lower prices and cheaper public services
                  The graph below depicts the main personal grievances of Ukrainians. Growth of prices holds the first position, with a strong lead over all the others, even Military Conflict in the Donbas. Though state cant control prices directly and depends on the market, cost and price grievances are the most manipulated by Populists. The price of natural gas, in particular, and the cost of specialized, as well as non-urgent medical treatment, are the most commonly referenced this year. Healthcare, also ranking high on the graph, was a central issue discussed in the previous year as part of medical reform. The problem of delayed pension payments, which was too was discussed the previous year as part of pension reform, was also of concern.

                  Public opinion survey of residents of Ukraine. Source: Center for insights in survey research

                  2. Corrupt elites should be punished in favor of poor Ukrainians
                  Not only is the variance between prices and salaries an issue no less important is the inequality of income distribution among Ukrainians. When comparing the average income of the richest 10% of the Ukrainian population to the poorest known as the 90/10 index there is a difference of 16 times. According to the research of Anatoliy Protsenko, the index in EU countries ranges from 5 to 10 times. The Ukrainian result is the same as that of the USA the highest among the most developed countries. (As a point of interest, in Botswana the difference is 145 times.)

                  Inequality in Ukraine: colors depict ten fractions of Ukrainian society divided from the poorest 10% to the richest 10%. Source: Global Consumption and Income project, from the article

                  Having experienced a drastic shift from socialism to wild capitalism in 1991, Ukrainians remain cynical about fairness in the economic system. Even though 25 years have passed from the era of unlawful privatization, they are gripped by issues of inequality, unlawfully obtained property, and corrupt politicians and oligarchs. The fact that there are many more fair entrepreneurs contributing to the economy today has made little difference in their outlook.
                  The process of nationwide rapid privatization in Ukraine was badly damaged by Parliaments ill-conceived intervention and poorly implemented algorithm of privatization, particularly in 1994. Many purchases were artificially postponed. Investors were not able to become real owners of high-quality state-owned enterprises. The majority of them simply sold their vouchers for whatever value of products they could obtain. As a result, the voucher practice cemented the position of many existing red directors and rendered them the economic power to personally acquire state-owned enterprises. In other words, these events created fertile ground for the emergence of an oligarchy.

                  Populists use common unfavorable treatment of the extremely rich and appeal to the poor part of the Ukrainian population. They blame the governments lack of outreach to common people and their willful ignorance of the poverty-stricken. The implication is that if the government had turned to these segments of society then all would have gone well. This tactic is especially visible in the messages of Oleh Liashko and Yuliya Tymoshenko. Tymoshenko is especially misleading. As an example, during the televised presentation of her platform named New Direction, she attempted to liken herself to Franklin D. Roosevelt one of Americas greatest presidents and to his historic New Deal which helped to end the worst economic crisis in the US.

                  The comparison is more than pretentious. Tymoshenko merely exaggerated the facts. She wrongly stated that all Ukrainians are extremely poor and that conditions are dire: People leave Ukraine massively the authorities have created an extremely aggressive environment for every Ukrainianraider attacks, injusticeand even the roads, or rather their complete absence

                  Saying a complete absence of roads is one of the most extreme examples of Tymoshenkos hype. In fact, 3800 km of roads were created in 2018 and more are planned for 2019, with funding already in place according to the Minister of Infrastructure Volodymyr Omelian.

                  Yulia Tymoshenko presenting her New direction. Source: Apostrof

                  3. Ukrainian gas is ours and should be sold to Ukrainians at its base cost

                  On the other hand, many Ukrainians are truly poor and vote solely based on the promise of cheap tariffs. Populists are accusing the government of a Tariff Genocide, because of the recent increase in gas prices to market value. This is the mantra that all stripes of Populists repeat in unison: Yulia Tymoshenko, Oleh Liashko, O. Vilkul, Y. Boiko, V. Rabinovich.

                  Their argument is two-part: first, Ukraine produces enough gas for domestic household consumption; second, the base cost of gas in Ukraine is $100 while it is sold to Ukrainians at $300, three times the cost should be lowered.

                  However, these representations do not take into account that only 75% of gas provided to households is mined by state-owned companies and, further, that some of this gas is also subject to technical loss. Essentially, only Ukrainian gas cant cover all the needs of Ukrainians.

                  Regarding the price of gas, Populists fail to account for the cost of transfer, amortization of enterprises, taxes, or development of new mines and focus solely on extraction from already performing mines. The true base price of gas is actually quite close to that which citizens only began to pay in November as a result of conditions the IMF put forward for the transfer of the next tranche of their loan. If the gas price is lowered any further, it will cause hard-hitting pressures on the state budget and could lead to a financial crisis a fact Populists omit. There are many other examples of talking points regarding prices, tariffs, pensions, and salaries which are distorted by Populists.

                  4. Instead of a member of corrupt elites, a leader from the people is needed to establish fair order

                  This section needs to be seen within the context of two concept-models left over from the Soviet era: state paternalism and the cult of the strong leader. Both manipulate the people by presuming their naivety and need for supervision.

                  Among Populist parties, there are none that can be described as ideologically distinct with a platform based on principled tenets and consistent policies. In contrast, Populist parties are predominantly personalized, often branded with the name of their leader.

                  The notion of a strong leader, one who springs from the people, is paramount. Populists make this point frequently in their speeches. A prominent example is Oleh Liashko leader of the Ukrainian Radical Party. As depicted in the photo below, he wears a traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirt (vyshyvana sorochka) and brandishes a pitchfork. The pitchfork is a symbol of peasant upheavals against their landlords during the serfdom of the XVI-XVIII centuries. It is also a sign of the fervor of the radical party and of its leader who stands at-the-ready to defend his people. It is the most common iconography of the Ukrainian village, the selo, and is associated with the hardships of villagers Lyashkos main target group.

                  Oleh Lyashko with his pitchfork. Source: iPress

                  Yuliya Tymoshenko also uses the narrative of a strong leader, though more nuanced to appeal to a better-educated audience. However, her proposed plan for a new constitution and parliamentary republic includes the creation of a chancelor. Tymoshenko proposes that the chancellor be both head of the party and head of the state a super-presidentialism granting near unlimited power.

                  Tymoshenko points to the German and British parliamentary systems as examples. However, her proposal does not include the strong mechanisms of checks and balances built into the governments of these other countries which have come about over a period of centuries. Moreover, Ukraine is not a federation it does not have two chambers in the parliament, and it certainly does not have a well established two-party system as in the United Kingdom. Her proposed model would function much differently in Ukraine and quite possibly not in favor of the countrys interests.
                  In addition to the myth of the strong leader, the reliance on state paternalism is largely embedded in Ukrainian society. Merely one example is peoples forthright expectation of social support from the state. The outcry for gas subsidies, which are provided to poor families, already cost billions of hryvnias.

                  Last edited by Hannia; 16th January 2019, 06:01.

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                  • Shades of Populism Pt 3
                    Sadly, people tend to vote for Populists even when they are aware that they are being lied to. However, when the Populist vows to solve the voters most painful problems, while government elites simply ignore them, it follows that the choice is clear.

                    Ukrainians cynical attitude to politics is evident in the hit TV-series Sluga Naroda [Servant of the people]. Starring the comedian Volodymyr Zelenskyi as the central character, the film lampoons the typical Ukrainian politicians serving to oligarchs. Zelenskyi plays an ordinary teacher who suddenly and unexpectedly becomes president and tries to fight the corrupt system of oligarchs and build a self-sufficient Ukrainian state.

                    Read also: Showbiz vs Reality: comedian runs for Ukrainian presidency, and hes in the top three

                    Zelenskyis popularity demonstrates the publics desire for a peoples hero and underscores their disappointment in other candidates as well as in politics generally
                    The series has garnished very high ratings (second- or third-place depending on the sociological poll) and Zelenskyi has announced he is indeed running for the presidency. Performing on the 1+1 TV channel, Volodymyr Zelenskyi depends on the oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi, the channels owner. His popularity demonstrates the publics desire for a peoples hero and underscores their disappointment in other candidates as well as in politics generally.

                    The series has jumped off the TV screen and landed in what has become Zelenskyis grassroots campaign. His posters and billboards are seemingly everywhere. They read The public servant soon and nothing else. The irony is that many people werent clear whether the poster is an advertisement for the release of Zelenskyis new season, or if they are a promotion for his genuine run for the presidency. The mystery was only solved at
                    midnight on New Years Eve when he announced his decision to participate in the elections.

                    A screenshot from the Film Servant of the people with Volodymyr Zelenskiy as the protagonist, open sources.

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                    Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                    • Shades of Populism Pt 4

                      5. Peace should be established at any cost
                      The final and most controversial narrative of Ukrainian populism is the narrative for peace, mainly used by parties targeting eastern Ukraine. This form of populism takes advantage of peoples despair. It uses their poor living conditions and deprivations arising from the ongoing 5-year war for independent integrity with almost daily deaths and injuries. By making populists dangle the promise of peace without any substantive program to achieve peace.

                      These parties are best described in an article by Ukrainian intellectual and PhD in Cultural studies Ihor Losiev. Losiev writes (emphasis is ours):

                      O. Vilkul, Y. Boiko, V. Rabinovich, and their associates have adopted the idea of peace at any cost. They pledge that they will immediately establish peace in Ukraine when they come to power. But they do not express any strategy for doing so. The questions of by what means? what kind of peace? what conditions of peace? are not broached. In truth, peace can only be reached as a result of victory or as a result of defeat and surrender. There is no easy solution. However, the persons mentioned above refer to other Populist parties as being a party of war and name themselves a party of peace.

                      Sadly, their declarations are hollow merely a means of gaining popularity with no measure of accountability.
                      Ukrainian populism left-wing and paternalistic

                      Among candidates of the 2019 presidential ratings with support rates above 5%, Tymoshenko, Zelenskyi, and Boiko can be considered populists. Survey conducted by the Centre for Applied Studies on 1-12 October 2018. Photo:

                      After this brief description of the Ukrainian Populist narratives, its hard not to notice that, regrettably, they still share many traits from the Soviet past. Even people from western Ukraine (who are usually radically opposed to anything Soviet), when it comes to gas prices, more often than not believe the state should cover a large part of their personal expenses. It would appear people dont see the toxic legacy that still influences their thinkingin effect, it takes some generations to overcome.

                      Ukrainian populism is generally grouped into a left-wing category, not only because of the resonance of the Soviet past but also due to the consequences of wild capitalism. Its no secret that personal income in Ukraine is low. As of 2018, Ukraine has the lowest personal
                      income and the second lowest GDP per capita in Europe. The average monthly salary is UAH 8,500 (approximately $315). The income rate is made relatively more tolerable because of the shadow economy and low prices that result in an actual, higher overall income. However, when that number is compared to the EU, it is nowhere near equal. This is the fundamental grievance from which the five Populist narratives derive their authority.

                      The fact is that all Ukrainian politicians with public support belong to the same quarter on the chart of ideologies depicted below.

                      It is divided into four quarters of ideologies. Where the economic left (communism, socialism, social democracy) is measured against the economic right (capitalism, wild capitalism, plutocracy), Ukrainians are clearly located to the left. Where the priority of collective values (nation, state, community) is measured against individual values (personal liberties, self-expression, erasure of borders and cosmopolitism), Ukrainians support collectivity.

                      Ukrainian politicians on the chart of Ideologies. Source: Novoe Vremia, based on data by VoxCheck. Edited and translated by Euromaidanpress

                      Ukrainian populism is totally different from European populism. As political scientist Catherine E. De Vries argues, current European political tensions are located on the axes between the individual and the collective or, in other words, between the cosmopolitan and the locally-rooted. The division between the economic left and right is not as evident.
                      Ukrainian populism, on the other hand, is clearly located on the axes of the economy clearly tied to the role of the state in providing services and goods, while identity and globalization issues are less vocal.

                      The upcoming elections will reveal more than ever before the wisdom or naivety of post-revolutionary Ukrainian society. The voting will be even more complicated because, for now, there is no candidate with a strong alternative to populist left-wing paternalistic policy.

                      Although the real choice is only between more moderate populists or full-on populists, it is nevertheless the choice Ukrainians will have to make. The influence of intellectuals, civil society, media, and foreign supporters will be substantive especially since almost one-quarter of Ukrainians havent yet chosen for whom will they vote.

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                      Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                      • Steps against online manipulation taken by 43 countries in two recent years
                        EUROMAIDAN PRESS EUs East StratCom Task Force 2019/01/16 - 02:50

                        Since 2016, at least 43 countries have proposed or implemented measures aimed at combating influence campaigns on social media.

                        This is according to a study by the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence, whose authors note that new approaches to tackling disinformation are flourishing as online efforts to manipulate public opinion become an increasingly pressing policy concern.

                        The study, titled Government Responses to Malicious Use of Social Media, breaks down the new regulations into 10 categories: content takedowns by social media platforms, transparency of online ads, data protection, criminalization of disinformation, expanding the definition of illegal content, media literacy and watchdogs, journalistic controls, parliamentary inquiries, creation of cybersecurity units, and monitoring initiatives.

                        Ireland, Italy, and Australia, for instance, are among the countries that introduced criminal penalties for producing or sharing disinformation, or for organizing a bot campaign targeting a political issue.

                        Among other measures, Croatia recently funded a new media literacy initiative, the U.S. Congress is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and G7 countries are developing a Rapid Response Mechanism to fight disinformation and foreign interference in elections.

                        The authors, however, caution that the countermeasures adopted over the past two years are often fragmentary, heavy-handed, and ill-equipped to curb harmful content online.

                        They point out that most of the government initiatives so far have focused chiefly on regulating free speech on social media rather than on addressing the deeper systemic problems that lie beneath attempts to influence public opinion online.

                        Some authoritarian governments, they say, have also co-opted the fight against disinformation to introduce legislation aimed at tightening their grip on the digital sphere and legitimizing censorship online.

                        Instead, the report urges policymakers to demand greater accountability and cooperation from social media platforms.

                        A core issue is a lack of willingness of the social media platforms to engage in constructive dialogue as technology becomes more complex, the authors note.

                        The report encourages governments to shift away from the measures aimed at controlling online content and work together to develop global standards and best practices for data protection, algorithmic transparency, and ethic product design.

                        The European Union has stepped up its own efforts to counter disinformation and in December presented an Action Plan aimed at tackling online disinformation in EU countries and beyond.

                        The Action Plan will also ensure that tech companies comply with the European Commissions Code of Practice, a document that commits online platforms to increase transparency for political advertising and to reduce the number of fake accounts.

                        The platforms are required to report to the Commission on a monthly basis ahead of the European elections in May and face regulatory action if they fail to meet their commitments.

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                        Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                        • 12 facts about the Donbas that you should know
                          EUROMAIDAN PRESS RFE/RL Olha Stryzhova 2019/01/16 - 14:17

                          The Donbas has never been Ukrainian!, Eastern Ukraine always bowed down low before the Soviet authorities!, Russian ideology continues to thrive in Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts!

                          Fact 1. Strikes and protests against Soviet authorities in Donetsk Oblast
                          How many other stereotypes have we heard about these eastern regions of Ukraine?! This vision of the Donbas has been imposed throughout the country for years on end. Few people know that the OUN, the UNR army and local guerrilla groups opposed the Soviet regime and fought for the independence of Ukraine, that the Donbas rose up against collectivization, and dozens of Donbas farmers were labeled as kulaks and had their property confiscated.

                          An active anti-Soviet underground flourished in the Donbas. For example, the regional KGB was constantly on the look-out for anti-Soviet elements and activities, mentioned at secret meetings of the Donetsk regional committee of the communist party. In 1957, a miner was killed at a komsomol construction site in Khrestivka (now occupied by Russian-backed mercenaries, it used to be called Kirovske from 1956-2016, enemy militants still use this name). Soviet special services threw his unwashed body into a coffin that was too much too small and buried him hastily. As the mine administration had squandered the money for burial on liquor, so the miners revolted and called on the town inhabitants to protest. To suppress the strike and protests, Soviet troops were quickly deployed to the town and its surroundings.

                          Fact 2. Home of the Sixtiers (Shistdesiatnyky)*, dissidents and founders of UNSO
                          ¦ , ¦ (Love Ukraine, like the sun do love her). The poem was written by Volodymyr Sosiura, who was born in Debaltseve, Donetsk Oblast. Sosiura was forced to undergo reeducation at a factory in 1930-1931 and after WW2 he was labeled a nationalist and an enemy banderite. Many of Sosiuras poems were not published.

                          *(The Shistdesiatnyky (Sixties) movement was a literary generation that began publishing in the second half of the 1950s, and played an important role in popularizing samvydav (samizdat) literature and, most of all, in strengthening the opposition movement against Russian state chauvinism and Russification. The members were completely silenced by mass arrests from 196572, and the movement died out at the beginning of the 1970s.-Ed.)

                          Mykola Rudenko, co-founder of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, was arrested twice for his dissident activities. Author of the poem called æ צ (The immortality of the nation lies in the Word), Rudenko was originally from Luhansk Oblast.

                          Dissident Anatoliy Lupynis was born in Novooleksandrivka, Donetsk Oblast and spent his entire childhood in the region. He helped found the Ukrainian Human Rights Group Memorial and the Ukrainian Interparliamentary Assembly (UMA), which eventually became the Ukrainian National Assembly and the Ukrainian National Self-Defense Organization (UNSO).

                          Vasyl Stus, Ukrainian poet, translator, literary critic, journalist, and active member of the Ukrainian dissident movement, spent most of his life in Donetsk. He refused Soviet citizenship because he did not want to be a slave, twice received harsh sentences for anti-Soviet propaganda, and died after a hunger strike on September 4, 1985 in a Soviet forced labour camp for political prisoners Perm-36.

                          Contemporary blue-and-yellow Donbas has found its place in poetry, in the unforgettable verses of Serhiy Zhadan (born in Starobilsk, Luhansk Oblast), Oleksiy Chupa (born in Makiyivka, Donetsk Oblast) and Liubov Yakymchuk (born in Pervomaysk, Luhansk Oblast.

                          Fact 3. Donbas women did not wear Russian-style sarafans (jumper dresses) and kokoshniki (head-dresses)

                          Young ladies in national costumes in Luhansk Oblast, 1900

                          Today, Russian mercenaries occupying some territories of the Donbas continue saying that the region is basically Russian, referring even to traditional costumes and claiming that sarafans and kokoshniki have always been part of the Donetsk and Luhansk landscape.

                          Definitely not! Donbas women used to wear different head-dresses such as headbands, ribbons, wreaths and scarves; they dressed in uniquely patterned embroidered shirts and dresses. Many photos from the beginning of the 20th century, and even several Soviet films testify to the fact that traditional Ukrainian costumes were widely popular in Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts.

                          Fact 4. Despite the tsars decree, Khrystyna Alchevska taught Ukrainian to other women
                          The standard axiom a womens place is in the home was not accepted by wealthy Khrystyna Alchevska, who became one of the first women to challenge this system in the Russian Empire. In 1862, she founded and maintained the first Kharkiv Womens Sunday School (officially accredited in 1870), where ladies could study law, physics, chemistry, geography, the history of Ukraine, writing and mathematics. She taught classes in Ukrainian until forced by the government to switch to Russian. Khrystyna Alchevska taught more than 17, 000 women in Eastern Ukraine.

                          Fact 5. The UNR Army liberated the Donbas from the Russian Bolshevik Army
                          One hundred years ago, Donbas was one of the first Ukrainian regions to be invaded by the Bolsheviks. The occupation of UNR territories was conducted in conjunction with widespread propaganda among the workers, farmers and miners, who eventually joined the Bolshevik regiments.

                          However, many Donbas inhabitants regarded the Bolsheviks with great suspicion and preferred to join the partisan movement that helped the UNR army liberate the Donbas. The UNR Army fought for the territories inhabited by ethnic Ukrainians, namely, the Katerynoslav and Kharkiv Governorates.

                          Fact 6. Renowned film actor and director Bykov loved to sing in Ukrainian
                          Leonid Bykov was born in Cherkaske and raised in Kramatorsk, Donetsk Oblast. The legendary Maestro, the tramp Maksym Perepelytsia, the romantic hero Alioshka, the motivated Lev Zaichyk, and the courageous Swat although the protagonists portray a stereotypical Soviet Ukrainian, they all love to sing Ukrainian songs, tell about Ukrainian traditions and their native land.

                          In the film ¦ Ҧ(Only old guys go to war), Bykov plays Commander Maestro Tytarenko, who speaks poetically about his country: Here the sky is bluer and the grass is greener Tytarenko sings one of Bykovs favourite songs (it also happens to be the official song of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen) , ڦ (In the meadow, a red kalyna), which Soviet censorship seems to have missed.


                          Fact 7. The Ukrainian language dictionary was compiled by a teacher from Luhansk Oblast
                          Borys Hrinchenko was invited by Khrystyna Alchevska to teach in Luhansk Oblast. He was also an editor of various Ukrainian periodicals and author of one of the first textbooks in the Ukrainian language, particularly Native Word, a reading manual for schools. He compiled the four-volume ϧ (Ukrainian Dictionary, 19071909), which was the most complete and lexically the most perfect Ukrainian dictionary at that time.

                          Fact 8. Contemporary fol song of Luhansk and Donetsk: (The wide steppe)
                          The Ukrainian-Canadian group Balaklava Blues combines electronic music and folk songs, reproducing sounds and vibrations heard daily in the conflict zone. The band uses folk songs gathered from different villages of Luhansk and Donetsk, underlining that in these texts you will not hear a mixture of different surzhyks (mix of Ukrainian and Russian-Ed), but only literary Ukrainian.

                          The musicians say that songs from Ukraines steppe regions sound deeper and broader in melody, the compositions are longer, unlike the songs of Western Ukraine, where you feel every mound and hill of the Carpathians.


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                          Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                          • Fact 9. The Renaissance in the East
                            Participants of a patriotic rally celebrating the 3rd anniversary of the liberation of Kramatorsk from Russian hybrid forces, Kramatorsk, Donetsk Oblast, July 5, 2017

                            According to volunteer and singer Anzhelika Rudnitska, the government-controlled territory of the Donbas is one of the most exciting places in Ukraine today, booming with an incredible number of new projects, theatres, folk arts, exhibitions, concerts and music festivals.

                            Something tells me that eastern Ukraine is more patriotic than the rest of the country because they are bleeding and hurting, they are in tears and in pain. It seems to me that total Ukrainization will begin in the east. says Anzhelika.

                            Fact 10. The UPA/OUN in the Donbas
                            Caricature found in OUN archives. It depicts Stalin in the form of a devil. Caption Fed says to Bohdan: Our leaders very worried because his fishing for members to incorporate into the party of slaves isnt going well!

                            Over the years, residents of eastern Ukraine have been fed many myths and stories about the OUN and UPA, namely that nothing ever happened in the Donbas, that it was a guerrilla movement localized to western Ukraine. In fact, a powerful network of pro-Ukrainian movements emerged in the Donbas in the 1940s. More information here:

                            Fact 11. Literary revival in Luhansk surprises western Ukraine

                            Students of the Taras Shevchenko Luhansk National University, which moved to Starobilsk, Luhansk Oblast, have developed an interactive project called Literary Map of Luhansk Oblast. It shows writers and poets from Ukraines eastern regions, but presents them through little-known facts. For example, Petro Shevchenko, a journalist at Kievski Vedomosti, wrote poems under the pseudonym of Petro Bilyvoda, something even his friends did not know.

                            The project has been enthusiastically applauded in Lutsk and Lviv, and students from Western Ukraine called the lecture and map mind-blowing!

                            Fact 12. Ukrainian songs in occupied Donetsk
                            A Ukrainian music evening was recently organized in occupied Donetsk, with the likes of Ukrainian songs from such bands as (One in a canoe), (SKAY), Ҧ (Second River) and Okean Elzy all in Ukrainian!


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                            Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                            • China reopens Siberian river diversion debate that divided Soviet society before 1991
                              EUROMAIDAN PRESS Paul Goble 2019/01/17 - 12:02

                              Beijings proposal for the diversion of part of the flow of rivers from the Altai inside the borders of the Russian Federation to China is sparking a stormy discussion in Russia, Kseniya Smolyakova says, because both experts and ordinary Russians remember the debates that killed Siberian river diversion at the end of Soviet times.

                              China may have the money to build such a system, the Sibreal journalist says; but the threats to the environment and even the survival of the peoples living along any such shift in the flow of river waters have not changed. And Russians say the Chinese cant overcome them. Consequently, resistance will continue to grow.

                              The Chinese proposals are daunting in size, cost, and impact.
                              The first stage calls for the construction of a canal system of some 1500 kilometers from Russia through Kazakhstan to China by 2026 that will carry 600 to 700 million cubic waters to Chinese industries and consumers.

                              A second stage, to be completed by 2040, would expand the capacity of this system to 1.8 to 2.4 billion cubic meters of water, less than some of the more grandiose Siberian river diversion plans offered first in the imperial period and then both in Stalins times and in the 1970s, but still enormous.

                              But there is one element in common between the current Chinese plans and earlier ideas: They are being opposed by ecologists on environmental grounds and by the broader Russian community on ethnic ones. In the 1970s, Russians objected to river diversion because it would kill off Russian villages in order to save the growing Central Asian populations.

                              Now, Russians are objecting to this idea because they view it, in Smolyakovas words, as only one of the elements of a broad and varied program by China to acquire the natural resources of Siberia at the expense of people there.
                              Moscow may be willing to make a deal; they are not; and this anger could help power regional protests just as it did 50 years ago.

                              What is striking about the current case is just how closely it parallels the initial stages of the discussion about Siberian river diversion in the 1960s and 1970s. Then, Moscow officials viewed it as something that could be built if the money could be found, regardless of the consequences for Russian villages.

                              Now, with China taking the issue of price off the table Beijing can and would fund it if Russia agrees to the project many in the Putin regime in Moscow are ready to go forward full steam ahead.

                              But both a half century ago and now, the people who would be most directly affected are opposed and angry at Moscow as well as at China.

                              Films and novels about what Siberian river diversion would mean not only agitated Soviet society at a time when few issues were allowed to percolate in the public media: they helped power the so-called Russian party within the Soviet government, helped divide it, and opened the way for environmental movements in the republics to become national ones.

                              Siberian river diversion thus became a major cause behind the demise of the USSR even if it was not as dramatic as the more proximate ones of a failed war in Afghanistan, an arms race Moscow couldnt afford, and on-again, off-again attempts at reform. If Moscow and China go ahead, it could have an analogous effect on the Russian Federation.

                              And to the extent that is possible, it will be the irony of ironies: an alliance with China that Moscow thinks will save it may end by having exactly the opposite effect.

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                              Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                              • Russian attack on the Integrity Initiative: what makes the Mafia different from the police
                                EUROMAIDAN PRESS Kseniya Kirillova 2019/01/17 - 20:24

                                In late November, a scandal erupted in the largest Russian media. Propaganda publications told us about the British anti-Russian program, The Integrity Initiative, which, according to RIA Novosti, was used to interfere in the internal affairs of European countries and for the information war against Russia.

                                The Russians refer to internal documents of the British project, saying that the hacker group Anonymous claimed responsibility for obtaining them. At the same time, even the Russian media dont deny that the goal of the Integrity Initiative was not creating propaganda but fighting against it.

                                The stated goal of the Integrity Initiative project is to fight against Russian propaganda and information attacks. The way to do it is to form a network of knowledgeable people from the political, military, academic, and expert areas, RIA Novosti quotes the British project in one of their articles (as of now, this website contains over 30 publications about the Integrity Initiative).

                                Nevertheless, Moscow is trying to prove with all its might that the goal of the project is to deliberately denigrate Russia and interfere in the affairs of other countries. Through the mouths of hackers, Russia states: Hiding behind noble intentions, Britain actually created a large information secret service in Europe, the USA and Canada As part of the project, Britain has repeatedly interfered in the internal affairs of independent European states.

                                At the same time, Russian propagandists claim that the project is nothing but a brainchild of British intelligence services and is closely connected with British intelligence.

                                The scandal has grown so large that members of the Russian State Duma have already stated their willingness to conduct an investigation into the Russians cooperating with the project, and the Russian embassy asked the British Foreign Ministry for clarification about the authenticity of the published documents on the activities of the Integrity Initiative, as well as the information about all the projects on Russia funded by the Ministry.

                                What are the Russians accusing The Integrity Initiative of?

                                Lets try to figure out what the Russians base their accusations on, and what makes the British project the main evidence of malicious purposes? Focusing on publications in the main Russian propaganda media devoted to the analysis of the published documents, one can single out the main complaints presented by the Russian authorities.

                                1. Effective organization of activities in different countries, built through a system of clusters.
                                2. Coordination and interaction between clusters, which is carried out both electronically and, sometimes, through British embassies.
                                3. Great analytical work on Russian propaganda in each region, conducting seminars and studies.
                                4. Promotion of the results of this work in social networks, the use of information platforms to counter Russian active measures.
                                5. Partial financing of the project by the British government and NATO, the participation of Western security experts in the project.

                                The Russian authorities were particularly insulted by the project documents mentioning of one of the people most hated by Vladimir Putin financier and lobbyist of the Magnitsky Act William Browder, as well as Vladimir Ashurkov, an associate of corruption fighter Alexei Navalny, and the Russian scientist Igor Sutyagin, convicted in the past for spying.

                                It is important to bear in mind the documents laid out by hackers may partially be faked. However, the projects management does not deny that the program dedicated to fighting against disinformation in Europe really does have to spend most of its time studying the activities of Russia, including those carried out through intelligence services. The Integrity Initiative considers the hacker attack carried out under the name Anonymous itself as one of the Kremlins propaganda operations.

                                Thus, both parties recognize as generally truthful information about the structure, scale of activities and contacts of the project. The fundamental difference between what Russian propagandists say and the real work of the Integrity Initiative is primarily in the goals and methods of the British organization. In order to understand which of the parties is right, it is important to answer the main question: does the fight against Russian propaganda really require such complex organization, coordination, and funding as is being used in the British project?

                                How does Russian propaganda work?

                                Over the past years, many experts have described the strategies and tactics of Russian propaganda and information operations, which are part of the active measures of the special services. However, the most accurate information about these tactics can be obtained from legal documents. In particular, the indictment by US special counsel Robert Mueller against 13 Russians accused of interfering in the elections in the United States, describes some of them in detail.
                                According to the document, the accused conducted campaigns in support of Donald Trump and undermined the image of the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton on social networks and beyond, used the stolen personal data of American citizens to create accounts and profiles on Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and Facebook, and also infiltrated the US under false pretense. The Internet Research Agency based in St. Petersburg, led by Yevgeniy Prigozhin and partly funded by two of his other companies, Concord Management and Concord Catering, conducted this work. The monthly budget of the troll factory, as the Internet Research Agency is often called, was about 73 million rubles as of September 2016 (more than $1.25 mn). Concord, among other things, acted as a contractor in several government contracts. Then it was transformed into a new project called Lakhta.

                                The employees of the troll factory worked day and night in two shifts for many months and created hundreds of social media profiles using the names of the Americans. Since 2014, they have created the web pages of organizations fighting for immigration, the importance of the lives of African Americans (Blacktivists), Muslim and Christian groups, etc., which then pitted the Americans against each other. In 2015, Lakhta employees have started buying advertising on social networks and have become more active on Twitter. Their work and the main topics of agitation in the meantime were carefully supervised from Moscow.

                                Lakhta also acquired servers in the United States and created virtual private networks, trying to disguise themselves as a domestic American network. E-mail addresses for non-existent Americans were also created. With their help, they communicated with other activists and circulated appeals to local media for the purpose of promotion of their events.

                                In 2016, Lakhta employees began using real social security numbers and genuine birth dates of actual Americans without their knowledge. With the help of this information, wallets were created in the PayPal payment system, drivers licenses were obtained, and then pages of organizations controlled by Lakhta were created under the names of the victims of theft, and advertising on social networks was bought.

                                Starting in February 2016, Lakhta began to use any opportunity to criticize Hillary Clinton and support Trump, including organizing rallies in his support. Rallies in support of the Democrats were also held but were actually aimed at discrediting them (for example, their organizers called for the introduction of Sharia law in the USA). Lakhta also called on the Democrats potential electorate not to vote.

                                After the elections, the Russians did not stop interfering in the affairs of the United States. In particular, they conducted campaigns to undermine American security, discredit law enforcement agencies and ongoing investigations.

                                A vivid example of the flow of Russian slander into American mass media is a smear against James Comey published in an English-language source, but using the Russian word pravda (truth), written in Latin letters.

                                Separately, its worth mentioning the activity of Russian trolls that preceded the release of the Nunes Memorandum, in which the FBI and the Department of Justice were accused of bias against President Donald Trump. The Twitter hashtag #ReleaseTheMemo was originally published by several Republican senators on 18 January 2018, and on the same day, it was picked up by Wikileaks.

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                                Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp