Ukrainians should be grateful for the Olympics in Sochi. The security concerns around the games have kept Putin very busy, and this benefitted the Euromaidan.
In a way, the winner of the Sochi Olympics was Ukraine.
In the rare moments when he could have a glimpse to TV reports from Kyiv, Putin may have been thinking whether he should send the tanks to restore “order”. But more probably, he thought about the chances of such a scenario developing in Moscow. Without any doubt, the image of the Red Square as a Maidan will be haunting Putin.
The images of Yanukovich’s house and the riches of other high officials of his regime speak for themselves. These people were plundering their country and probably thought they could not be removed from their positions, just as Louis XVI may have imagined.
In Turkey too, when the Prime Minister Erdogan is entangled in a major eavesdropping scandal, many opposition-minded Turks are looking at the Euromaidan protests as a model for bringing down his autocratic regime.
So there may be new Maidans soon. What is Maidan? I like best the description made by Anna Yavorska:
“People who are physically on Maidan today are delegates, each one representing hundreds of others ready to join their brothers and sisters on Maidan when the call goes out. Even if Maidan is cleared by force, it will remain in the hearts of the people. Maidan is not just a place, it is a state of mind. It is a phenomenon that is evolving day upon day, giving people the opportunity to meet, communicate and exchange ideas with every passing hour, to develop strategies, hold meetings and implement their plans. Maidan is alive, it thinks, reflects and takes action, it deals with regular attacks and sheer physical exhaustion, it rises to the occasion every single time. Maidan is the place where Ukrainians forge and formulate their own values and build the ideal model for the country I want to live in.”
Will we see soon how Putin’s private residences look like? Will we see Erdogan’s?
Ukrainians should be grateful for the Olympics in Sochi. The security concerns around the games have kept Putin very busy, and this benefitted the Euromaidan.
Putin is Russia’s President and strongman, but also he is the chairman of United Russia, a political force that describes itself as conservative. In the past Soviet Russia was opposed to the West on the basis of ideology. But isn’t a new ideology beginning to replace old political divisions?
The negative attitude vis-à-vis gay marriage in conservative EU and the anti-gay policies of Putin have a lot in common. Putin is seeking to grab as much influence on the basis of traditional Orthodox anti-gay sentiments in several countries of Russia’s “near neighbourhood”, from Belgrade and Athens to Tbilissi and Yerevan. This photo with the kid was taken in Belgrade.
In Western Europe we see that the only subject matter capable of mobilising tens of thousand of people to take the streets is rejection of gay marriage, France being a good example.
Suddenly this has become the main dividing line between the European centre-left and centre-left, and the issue may be indeed a hot topic in the coming European elections.
Putin has everything to gain if the European society gets further polarized on the gay rights issue. This will legitimize his home policies and help strengthen his grip on the “near neighbourhood countries”, as the Eurasian union he tries to build will obviously be based on these values.
The internet community in Bulgaria tells me that tons of internet posts are being erased, in an attempt to defuse publications exposing major manipulation efforts of the public opinion by the company Leadway Media Solutions with the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) being the client. [more]
(Trolls are people hired by PR companies to post laudatory comments for the client, or to blackmouth the client’s rivals. Troll business is big business in Bulgaria) But the internet community is mobilized and has made tons of screenshots which are likely to embarrass BSP even further.
Before I conclude this short blogpost, I would like to say that I’m ashamed of BSP, for whom I have voted in the past.
For the progressive-minded millions of Europeans, politics is not lying-cheating. Sergei Stanishev, leader of BSP and President of the Party of European Socialists, needs to step down from both posts. Fast.
I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it.
Speaking in the talks show “Mots croisés” on French public TV France2 on 4 February, the leader of the far-right party Front National Marine Le Pen attacked French minister of economy Pierre Moscovici, a socialist, for tolerance vis-à-vis what she called “the real extreme right”.
Replying to Moscovici, who accused Le Pen of destroying France by fraternising with nationalist, xenophobic or separatist forces such as Italy’s Northern Ligue, the Dutch Party of Freedom (PVV) of Geert Wilders and the Flemish Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest, VB), Moscovici got a rebuke he apparently didn’t expect.
Le Pen hit back mentioning Ataka, the extremist party in Bulgaria thanks to which the Socialist-led minority government in Bulgaria survives. Sergei Stanishev, leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, is also leader of PES.
This is the transcript, but better watch the video from minute 1 hour,17 minutes and 20 seconds. It lasts 46 seconds.
Marine Le Pen: I am not destroying France through Europe as you do. I defend France.
Pierre Moscovici: You do it, with your friends from the North Ligue, with Geerd Wilders, you do it with do it with people from Vlaams Beland…
Marine Le Pen: How about Ataka? What do you think, Mr Moscovici? Mr. Calvi (the journalist moderator), do you know that the PES President, the Party of European Socialists who is Bulgarian, governs with the extreme right, the real extreme right, Ataka? You better sweep in front of your door and we can discuss. Sweep inside the PES! Sweep inside the PES! Sweep inside the PES!
My friend and colleague Dan Luca, who is chairman of the Romanian socialists in Brussels and MEP candidate, recently published a book of reflections on how Romania should improve communication in Brussels. I was honoured to attend the book launch in the European Parliament in the presence of MEPs Hannes Swoboda and Ivailo Kalfin and made this video.
Even more recently Dan spoke to Romanian news agency Agerpres on the same issue. He argues that the restrictions to the labor market in Belgium (which were lifted only on 1 January 2014, seven years after Bulgaria and Romania’s EU accession) prevented the nationals of those countries to take their rightful place in the Brussels galaxy of federations, associations, consultations, law and lobbying firms, media etc. that together shape European policies along with EU institutions.
Indeed, EU institutions have a quota for Bulgarian and Bulgarian nationals, but outside the public sector nobody keeps places for those nationals. To obtain a working permit was a major obstacle, as many employers massively rejected candidates from Bulgaria and Romania, fearing burdensome administrative hassle.
Dan Luca says that for the voice of Romania in the EU in the EU to be heard, the presence of 5,000 Romanians in Brussels is needed, while their present number is only 2500.
Only now, seven years after Romania and Bulgaria were admitted to the EU, these countries at last get equal opportunities with other member states for access to the European capital, says my colleague.
Romanians are actually very well organized in Brussels have a website and published a guide with advice to newcomers – how to prepare for municipal formalities, what they need to know about Belgian law, how to apply for work, how to contact the Romanian representations, associations and churches (eleven in Belgium), what to do to sign up their children to school or kindergarten – more than 200 pages of tips.
In Romania’s Permanent Representation to the EU works diplomat whose job it is to make sure that more Romanians to get high positions in European institutions. This year for the first time, Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta invites all senior Romanians in European institutions to Bucharest, where he will brief them with the priorities of his government, but also to listen and establish a personal contact. Large countries like France, Germany organize similar meetings ago.
Bulgarians in Brussels are not so well organized, I must confess. Inspired from Dan, I wrote an article for the Bulgarian readers. I agree with him that seven years after joining the EU, Bulgaria and Romania are still not equal to the others, because they are subjected to humiliating monitoring, which themselves the accepted. Are also because they are not sufficiently represented, and do not act as a national team.
The European elections are a good occasion for the governments in Sofia and Bucharest to reflect on these issues. Romanians are better prepared, be it only for the fact that they have such a strong candidate as Dan Luca. I hope his party gives him on the list the place he deserves.
On 1 January Bulgaria has marked its first seven years of EU membership. There is a saying in Bulgarian about the first seven years of a human being: “either you have them or you don’t”. Either during your first seven years you have learned something that will make a man out of you, or you will be a burden to society.
This text is a translation I made myself from my article in Bulgarian published days ago by the bi-monthly magazine L’Europeo. I only added a few hyperlinks and made the text more understandable to non-Bulgarians. If someone decides to re-publish or quote from this text, a written agreement from L’Europeo is required. I can help facilitate this (see my contact details).
Bulgaria’s EU membership was conceived in sin. Tony Blair decided to reward Bulgaria and Romania for their help during the 1999 NATO air strikes against the former Yugoslavia. A huge majority of Bulgarians were against this war, but now it looks that this support mostly contributed to the entry of the two countries into the prestigious clubs of NATO and the EU.
The first decisive episode took place in March 1999. Bulgaria’s Prime Minister at that time Ivan Kostov was lying to his nationals, telling them that Bulgaria had not offered its airspace to NATO. But I was accidentally at NATO and ingenuously asked their spokesman Jamie Shea: Did Bulgaria give you its airspace? “Many thanks to Bulgaria,” said Jamie. We were on CNN, so the next day all Bulgarian newspapers came out with huge titles: “NATO thanked us for the airspace”. There was a lot of internal confusion, but it’s fair to say that Sofia’s gesture was highly appreciated.
Let me open a parenthesis. Britain was indeed the country who most wanted the membership of Bulgaria and Romania. Not because they like us a lot, but because the Brits have always wanted to water down the EU into a loose federation of heterogeneous states, thus torpedoing plans for greater European integration. They may be on track to achieve its goal. But in any case, UK doesn’t ask for more EU expansion.
The second episode was the closure of four units of Kozlodui nuclear power plant, especially the 4th and 5th unit. On 1 October 2002 was incidentally in Brussels and spoke with officials from the European Commission. They were so happy that they greeted me (me, the journalist who defended Kozlodui, for the “courageous decision” of the cabinet of the then Prime Minister Simeon Saxe Cobourg-Gotha to close those two nuclear reactors. The then foreign minister Solomon Passy had signed the decision the night before. I called my colleagues in Sofia, where nobody knew about such a decision.
I wrote all this in the newspaper Sega where I worked then, it became the front page headline. The then President Georgi Parvanov arrived in Brussels the next day, on 2 October, to meet with the then European Commission President Romano Prodi. When he saw me in the lobby of his hotel Parvanov told me – “I saw what you wrote”. He had learned from my newspaper that the blocks are to be closed down. The government had not informed him. An hour later Prodi thanked Parvanov for this “courageous decision” in front of many astonished journalists.
Irony and politics go hand in hand. Parvanov was against the Iraq war, although as President he was commander in chief. And it was him who represented the country at the ceremony of the country’s NATO accession at the November 2002 Prague summit. Parvanov was a defender of the units at Kozloduy, but accepted the thanks for closing them down. But who cares today?
This is how Bulgaria crawled until 2006, when it’s EU accession was hanging in the balance. Olli Rehn, the Enlargement Commissioner at that time, knew perfectly well that neither Bulgaria nor Romania were ready for EU membership in the classic sense. So he thought of some sort of us semi-membership – that the countries would be admitted as members, if they agreed to a “Cooperation and Verification mechanism” (CVM), that is, to monitoring, comparable only to the one to which candidate countries are subjected. This was a unique experiment that Brussels is determined not to repeat.
Bulgaria agreed. Romania tried to resist, but my country screwed them, it put them with a fait accompli. Imagine the humiliation for them if Bulgaria was admitted to the EU and Romania was postponed? Willy-nilly Bucharest swallowed the bitter pill. Bulgarian spineless policy obviously worked. It even made a EU member out of Romania.
Some time elapsed, our integration stalled, a series of scandals unfolded, the so-called SAPARD case, a powerful minister had to be evicted, and in June 2009 a new government led by Boyko Borissov took power. He came to Brussels and said he was at war with the mafia Octopus. Barroso gave him his trust. On credit course, but he gave it.
Borissov was asked then, in 2009, what will be the European priorities of his cabinet. I even helped him, by suggesting in my question “joining the eurozone and the Schengen space?” The answer was, “Absolutely.” When I asked him if the exit from the Cooperation and verification mechanism was a priority as well, he answered “This is very important,” but he did not mean it. He added ” Our objective to join Schengen remains 2011″.
Neither Borissov nor his successor Plamen Oresharsky adopted as a priority the obvious: the need for Bulgaria to get out of CVM, so that the country would finally become a full member and would no longer be summoned by Barroso. The Commission doesn’t use tough language against any member state, except Bulgaria and Romania, because they have accepted it. And because both countries did nothing in the meantime to change the situation.
So Borissov made Schengen his battlefield, unaware that it was a bad choice and that he would fail. In 2009 he said that all that was needed for Bulgaria to join Schengen was “plastering a building”. This sentence made big headlines. But old member states will not allow Bulgaria in Schengen until their business complains of corruption and outrages by Bulgarian courts. By not allowing Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen these countries tells Sofia and Bucharest every day: yes, you’re sitting at our table, but please shut up.
But let me go back to the beginning of the mandate of Borissov. There was a nightmarish period when every time an important EU official set foot in Sofia exploded a bomb. It sure was a heavy blow for Borissov, the “last action hero” in Bulgarian politics. The message of the mafia was – don’t believe this tough guy Borissov: as you can see, crime and even terrorism flourish under his rule…
In the same logic, a series of eavesdropping tapes were leaked to Bulgarian media, with allegation of the President and the Bulgarian EU commissioner being tapped. The Commission didn’t say much. Media indicated scandalous misuse of EU funds. Can a Twitter account be worth €50,000, paid with EU money? In Bulgaria this is possible, and the female public relations aides of Borissov’ agricultural minister could be asked about details.
In one of the leaked tapes the Sofia prosecutor Nikolai Kokinov, a gentleman who resigned since, gives advice to Naydenov how to “fix” these ladies, which can be understood in every way. This of course is only a small tip of a large iceberg of scams and intrigues to the attention of EU officials who are watching Bulgaria.
The Bulgarian diplomacy in this period had only one task – to make sure the CVM report contains at least one sentence which Borissov could proudly quote. The most famous such sentence was that “the [Borissov] government has the political will.” The report basically says implicitly that the Prime Minister is no good, but at least he is trying.
EU summits bored Borissov to death. I have often seen him playing with his cell phone, either because he was annoyed, or because he didn’t have enough words in English for small talk. Once I took a whole series of photos. At a meeting of the European People’s Party , where he was seated next to the then newly elected Prime Minister of Portugal, Pedro Passos Coelho, Borissov was concentrated on his touchscreen and never talked with his new buddy . I have on photo the face of Coelho staring sadly at this unsociable neighbor.
Having said this, Borissov knows how to talk to counterparts from football superpowers. I’m sure he didn’t know that Coelho is from the country of Cristiano Ronaldo. While Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was still Prime Minister of Spain, Borissov used to powerfully tap him on the back, shouting “Messi, Messi”. Indeed, Borisov has secured an image among his EU counterparts of a man capable of great sacrifice, missing football derbies and attending instead boring summits.
During the 28 June 2012 summit, the Euro in Poland and Ukraine was ongoing and Germany played Italy on this very day. Borissov was convinced that the leaders will arrange the program so as to watch the match. But it didn’t happen that way. Probably better, because Borissov’s forecast proved to be wrong and he missed the chance to kiss Merkel, as Germany’s team lost.
Bulgaria indirectly suffered bad press with the disastrous hearing of candidate commissioner Rumiana Jeleva. Her replacement Kristalina Georgieva was an excellent, but alas belated move. Many in the EU got the impression that the Bulgarians were able to do the best and worst. Electing Sergei Stanishev as leader of the Party of European Socialists (PES) was very good news, his choice of Delian Peevski, a controversial media mogul, to be the boss of of the country’s State Agency for National Security (DANS) was very bad news, including for him.
The fall of the Borissov government last January, because of the high electric bills, surprised many in Brussels. The poverty levels in Bulgaria are difficult to be understood. I once had lunch in the Commission’s Berlaymont restaurant, sitting at the same table with a former employee of that institution. Journalists and retired employees have access to this restaurant. We introduced ourselves, discussed incomes. I mentioned that the minimum pension in Bulgaria is 70 euros. The lady did not understand me. You mean seventy euros per day, she asked. The average pension of Commission employees is € 4,300. As I explained that 70 euros was the income of retired people for a full month, the lady didn’t touch her meal further.
Lately Bulgaria has shocked the Commission with the rise of nationalist and extremist formations, amid a wave of refugees that should not be a problem for a normal state. There were a lot wrong moves. Deputy Prime Minister Tsvetlin Iovchev advocated closed refugee centres and of refugee push-backs from the border. Such things are not only unacceptable under European law, but also under international law. The cabinet tried to correct its fire, but the bad impression remained. Unfortunately, latent xenophobia in Bulgaria is widespread, as was the collective madness that had infected the National Assembly over the vote of a moratorium to sell land to foreigners.
In Bulgaria it is fashionable to say – why should WE pay for refugees? But why should the EU be obliged to give Bulgaria billions? Another issue is that Bulgaria is the only country of the fifth EU enlargement where the situation now is not better than before the accession. In Bulgaria, too much pubic wealth gets stolen.
The same profiteering attitude became obvious over the South Stream latest developments. On 4 December, I was the only journalist to report that the Commission said that all bilateral gas pipeline between Russia on the one hand, and Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Greece, Slovenia, Croatia and Austria on the other, violate EU law and should be denounced and renegotiated from scratch.
As it turned out, on 18 August, the Commission had officially informed Bulgaria that South Stream cannot be built unless they be renegotiated, which would take at least two years. But this did not impede the government to stage on 4 November a “first welding” ceremony. Or to drill in the sea near Varna. The question is: who is Bulgaria trying to cheat?
Bulgaria puts its EU membership at risk, as recently wrote in his my blog my distinguished colleague Veselin Zhelev, whom his daily newspaper Trud fired from his post of Brussels correspondent. In Bulgaria, good work is never appreciated. I have nothing to add to his analysis. If nationalism and profiteering prevail, the EU will find a way first first to close the tap, and then show Bulgaria the door. After seven years in the EU, my country so far qualifies for the office dealing with juniors in distress.
On 1 January all remaining restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian workers to the EU will be lifted. Seven years after the accession of these countries to the Union, the last remaining older EU states that have not yet lifted these restrictions, including France, Belgium and Great Britain, are under legal obligation to do so.
What will happen? Mayhem? Apocalypsis? In any case this is what UK Prime Minister David Cameron expects, if you believe his words. He recently announced that Romanians and Bulgarians would not be entitled to the same social benefits as other Europeans in Britain.
Others believe that Cameron knows perfectly well that the problem will not arise. But he will continue to make noises, hoping to make sure that the populist radicals, such as the Independence Party (UKIP), would not enjoy exclusive rights in exploiting the issue in the wake of European elections in May 2014 and the UK general elections a year later. And Cameron probably wants to make sure UKIP would not blame him for being a wimp.
The British tabloid press has exacerbated the fears of an influx of Bulgarian and Romanian nationals after 1 January. For me, in my capacity of Bulgarian journalist, this is a déjà vu. In 2006, on the eve of the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU, almost exactly the same UK media phenomenon happened.
At that time, Britain was one of the few EU countries to still maintain visas for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals, and had to abandon visa restrictions from the date of accession on 1 January 2007. The tabloids had imagined hordes of hungry thieves and prostitutes rushing to Albion, to set the islands on fire.
Already at that time, immigration experts predicted that nothing spectacular would happen, as Bulgarian and Romanian had the opportunity since 2001 to travel in the EU borderless Schengen area without visas. As Sofia and Bucharest keep saying since then – those who wanted to go have already left. There will be no new wave, or at least the phenomenon would not be worth mentioning.
But at the time there was no UKIP and the tone was more moderate. This time around, the British press and politicians surpassed themselves and their hostile and xenophobic language aroused astonishment and bitterness in Bulgaria and Romania, as the many articles of the UK tabloids get translated and make big headlines in these countries.
In the country I know best, 18,000 British have settled, they purchased villas, enjoying cheap prices in an almost Mediterranean climate. There is no animosity between British and Bulgarian to my knowledge, except in the virtual space of the hostile tabloids articles and the comments they generate.
Paradoxically, it is in Britain that Bulgaria and Romania should thank for their accession to the EU and NATO. Historically, it was Tony Blair who fought for these two countries to join the EU, to reward their support to the NATO intervention in 1999, which aimed to stop the atrocities of the regime of Slobodan Milsoevic in Kosovo.
At that time, the governments of Bulgaria and Romania had offered their airspace to NATO fighter planes, although public opinion was strongly opposed to this undeclared war. Isn’t it ironic? This decision of the elite in power, perceived as an outrage by many, has actually opened the door of the coveted clubs: NATO and the EU.
But why did Blair fight for the accession of Bulgaria and Romania? Actually, it’s constant of British politics, beyond party lines, that enlargement should dilute the Union into a loose confederation of heterogeneous states. So the Brits got what they wanted, didn’t they?
Hence my conclusion: Bulgarian and Romanian do not have much to worry about Cameron’s rhetoric, let him practice gutter communication, if he thinks this could do him any good. Although to my mind, he is losing the European elections. But for many reasons Bulgarian and Romanian do have a bad image in the EU, which they should repair, the faster, the better.
I received this excellent text from Vadym Omelchenko from the Gorshenin institute. I want to share it with all interested immediately, and I basically made no edits:
“In the tensed situation in Ukraine today, the Gorshenin Institute experts analyse both the essential senses and the resources used in the political battle occurring today in Ukraine. We are often asked today what the likely developments are and how far the confrontation could go. The answer to this question depends on many factors. Here I want to touch upon a major aspect. One of the main resources in such situations is obviously the mass media. Here is a snapshot of the Ukrainian media just before the protests occurred. All the central TV stations in Ukraine were controlled by the power and oligarchs. It was the same for the nation-wide printed media. It is worth mentioning here that shortly before the events, the largest Ukrainian media group – UMH – was sold to the emerging Ukrainian oligarch Sergiy Kurchenko who is considered by Ukrainian experts to be linked to the closest entourage of President Yanukovych. This group comprises more than 90 media, including top-ranked Forbes Ukraine and Korrespondent. Obviously, all the aforementioned media were loyal to the power, and their information policy was accorded with the strategies of Yanukovych at a given moment. Thus, for example, at the stage of the preparations for the signature of the agreement with the EU, these media actively promoted the idea of the European integration, and after the failure to sign, as actively they were explaining the reasons for the re-orientation towards Russia. A few top internet sites were remaining an island of freedom, including Ukrainska Pravda, lb.ua, censor.net.ua and some other.
The situation started changing rapidly with the burst of protests. These were the internet sites that were the first to undergo attacks. According to IT-specialists, the denial-of-service( DDos) attacks that have been practiced for already one month continuously, 24h round, are unprecedented for their intensity and technical support in the history of the Ukrainian Internet. In terms of technology and intensity, specialists compare those to the attacks on the web site of the Russian opposition publication “Novaya Gazeta”.
As result, all these sites have experienced full cuts several times, or operated with irregularities. We have an extended technical understanding about the types of the DDos attacks applied, but experts draw our attention to another point. These attacks are targeted not at just one publication, but at all the top-ranked internet media. The largest Ukrainian internet portal ukr.net suffered as result of the attack. i.e., the intensity of the attack is such that even providers are not able to withstand the load.
And this has occurred despite the fact that all the Ukrainian top sites are operating based on remote servers located in Europe or in the USA. However, the specialists have coped to mobilize and find technical solutions allowing for a relatively seamless operation of the sites and online coverage of all the events happening in the country. However, everybody understands that the attacks continue, the aggressor tests the sites protection, and the likelihood of a simultaneous cut of all the internet resources in Ukraine is not excluded. The pressure on the internet media went beyond just Ddos attacks, culminating in the Berkut special police detachment breaking into the office of cenzor.net publication on 9 December and destroying the servers.
As curious is the situation in the televised and printed media after the start of the protests. Top-ranked Ukrainian TV stations owned by Ukrainian oligarchs and covering the whole territory of Ukraine have manifested and continue keeping an objective attitude. TV channels Inter owned by oligarch Dmytro Firtash, 1+1 owned by Igor Kolomoyskiy and Privat Group, EastOne founder Victor Pinchuk’s media holding comprising channels ICTV, STB and Novy, and even Ukraina TV and radio company belonging to Rinat Akhmetov, regularly provide objective information about the events in Ukraine in their news. They present both the chronicles of protest and the reaction of the Ukrainian and international politicians, their local correspondents provide immediate information from all Ukrainian regions. The news reports are balanced, and do not have the manipulative or partial character typical for Ukrainian media. There is no censorship either.
One may have a feeling that the journalist teams have an emotional sympathy for the protesters. And if with regard to the Ukrainian politicians, the attitude is cautiously neutral, the TV stations have a strongly critical attitude as for the representatives of the law enforcement bodies involved in the crackdowns and in the beating of the protesters.
At the same time, it is important to note that none of the central TV channels switches on a continuous live streaming at even the most emotionally tensed moments. Even the 5th channel owned by Petro Poroshenko does not provide a continuous live streaming from Maidan. It is amusing to see how, at the moment when there is a one-million people march on the streets of Kyiv and activists are speaking from the stage of Maidan, the channel plays commercials for fitness machines. I.e. everything is reduced to rather regular news editions.
We read this as a the revolutionism or revolution turnaround missing in the Ukrainian media’s attitude. Which is rather reflective of the state of things in the society. Our monitoring of the printed media shows that the media controlled by Kurchenko and VETEK media holding present more the position of the President, and criticize the opposition. Furthermore, they stress on the success of the leadership in the foreign policy, including the European direction. The civil strength of the protest is hushed to a certain extent. According to these media, the protest is organized by the opposition leaders whose popularity is dubious. These media also speculate on the advantages and disadvantages of Ukraine’s European and Russian vectors. At the same time, the largest daily newspapers Fakty (Pinchuk) and Segodnia (Akhmetov) present an objective image. Moreover, positive coverage of the rallies and protests and criticism prevail in Fakty. Zerkalo Nedeli (Mirror Weekly), an independent Ukrainian media, traditionally reflects the position of the civil society in a fair manner.
It is to mention that the local media in the East of Ukraine are under control of the central and local administrations, at the same time as in the West of Ukraine, the media are independent. The inhabitants of the eastern regions get also information from the Russian TV channels, although their audience, according to the measurements made by the Gorshenin Institute, tend to shrink from year to year. Thus, today, one may say that the position of the central Ukrainian media is a major resource for the civil society. It is via the position of the Ukrainian media that the citizens of Ukraine join the protests rather than vice versa. This is another important element differentiating Ukraine from other post-Soviet states.”
Hi, I found this excellent piece in FB written by “Victoria Bandida” (Viktoria Taranenko), published on 5 December, and decided to re-publish it without much edits. There is also an original version in Russian.
I think this is the photo of Viktoria: And this is what she wrote:
“When I read articles in the foreign press, listening to statements such as “why do you Ukrainians need this EU???? We have problems here… “, I came to the conclusion that you do not understand what is happening in Ukraine.
Let me try to explain. It is not about the EU. It’s not about your Schengen zone, not about your values, standards of living, culture and so on.
Our “president” was twice imprisoned for robbery in his youth. Our “prime-minister” does not speak Ukrainian. None of them speaks English. All our courts are corrupted and work for the interests of the Mafia family of Yanukovych. The raiding in our country thrives.
Our police rapes women, kill people and avoids prisons http://news.yahoo.com/ukraine-rape-draws…
Sons of our MPs and the MPs themselves kill people by driving drunk. And they are never imprisoned http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/…
ALL our road police takes bribes. They don’t issue fine tickets, they just take bribes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ul_yDZgFE…
In Scandinavia the king is going to the office by bus, your ministers are riding bikes. And that’s our president and prime minister going to work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eoa_6L-Os… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftnX_yN8S…
All roads on the cortege route are shut for 20-40 minutes when our leaders pass. The cars of common people are pressed to sidewalks or simply wait in a traffic jams. When they cannot block traffic, the guards of our Prime Minister swear on drivers and beat their cars: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtJGUkg0-…
What do Ukrainians do? They pump the horn of their cars , at least to protest somehow: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94xXhGO7v…
You say that Ukraine is heavily dependent on Russian gas and Russia . Let’s analyse.
Ukraine produces about 21 billion cubic meters of gas per annum. For comparison, Poland consumes less than 15 billion cubic meters of gas per annum. Ukrainian gas should be enough for Ukraine. Why do we buy every year more than 30 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia and where it’s all going? I don’t know. Perhaps it should be ask in the monopolistic company “Naftogaz Ukraine”.
You say Ukraine depends on exports to Russia. It’s true. 1/4 of all Ukrainian exports go to Russia. Do you know where is 1/4 of Ukrainian exports? It goes to you. To the EU countries. We can cope with the loss of trade relations with Russia. Especially taking into consideration that the agreement with the EU implies the expansion of trade with Europe. Poland coped with similar difficulties very quickly.
Let’s compare the prices in Europe and Ukraine.
Dress in Berlin – 50 euros - http://www.zara.com/de/en/woman/dresses/…
The same dress in Kiev – 65 euros - http://www.zara.com/ua/en/woman/dresses/….
France – 2 euro - http://www.auchandirect.fr/produits-lait…
Ukraine – 7 euros -http://megamarket.ua/catalog/search.php?s=President&a
Poland – 0.70 euro – - http://www.fudi.pl/index.php?ktg=67&…;…
Ukraine – 1.1 euros - http://megamarket.ua/catalog/search.php?……
Should I continue? Now let’s compare the level of salaries:
The average salary in Ukraine for surgeon is less than 300 euros per month. And how much do your surgeons earn? http://en.for-ua.com/news/2013/04/16/161…
An average salary in Ukraine is 320 euros, and what is your salary? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Ukr…
Where do you think goes the money of the country where people work so hard?
Check out: a vast array of real estate of our president Yanukovych: – a new house near Kiev. Several pools, lake, golf course. Area – 1.8 hectares: http://mignews.com.ua/ru/articles/106801… + 30 hectares of forests. There is a separate traffic lane on the road which leads from his residence to Kiev.
And this is a summer house of Yanukovych in the Crimea: http://gazeta.ua/ru/articles/politics/_y… Our president has bought more than 3 hectare of national park “Cape Aya” for only $ 800 000. Let’s neglect the fact that conservancy areas are not allowed to sell at all! But why is it so cheap? (100 sqm apartment nearby Sebastopol costs an average of $ 70 000) Probably because he is the “president”.
This is only a partial list of possessions of the successful family of Yanukovych. I will not mention how Yanukovych clan eliminates its rivals and former friends. Look in Internet – Yevgeny Shcherban Yevgeny Kushnarev , Georgy Kirpa , Zino Kulik (Евгений Щербань, Евгений Кушнарев, Георгий Кирпа, Зиновий Кулик). Look how they died! Nobody cannot prove anything, but I do not insist.
Yanukovych is not the KGB, he is not Lukashenko, not Putin or Ceausescu . He is a criminal. Behind him is his mafia family – Yanukovych Jr., Rinat Akhmetov, Sergei Lyovochkin, Dimitriy Firtash etc. All of them steal from the Ukrainian budget billions of euros annually. All of them have business in Ukraine, and lead the country to default. They are not interested in the European market. Therefore, they do not deal with geopolitics, they do not make a choice – either Russia or EU. The isolation of Ukraine is their benefit. Because in the isolated country they can do whatever they want. Now Yanukovych actually set up Ukraine for auction – who is the highest bidder: Russia or Europe. Urging the EU to negotiate a trilateral – the EU , Russia, Ukraine, he actually admitted that Ukraine is not a sovereign state, it belongs to Russia, which must agree with the EU “will we sell?” and “how much”. Because for Yanukovych and his gang, Ukraine – is not a country. This is a business project, this is a pump, transferring the money into their pockets.
Now you are probably asking yourself how we live. As you can see, we are fighting. We are educated, we are able to work, and it is important that we are not going to betray ourcountry. Because for us, Ukraine – not a business project, this is our Motherland.
So we protest for many long days and cold nights. White House Petition for U.S. government to arrest the accounts of Yanukovych scored 100,000 signatures in less than 4 days - https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petitio….
On Sunday 24 November there were more than 100 000 people on the main square http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thKaZSxmd…
And our government brought police and several thousand sports marginals – “titushki-provocators”. Each of them received between 20 and 100 euro. And the task of each one of them was to provoke a fight or just beat the people. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lw60LDMk5…
During the last few days, they beat a lot of us, including several journalists (even foreign), and even two police officers who were trying to protect press correspondents. And no punishment is expected for this criminal army, formed over 4 years by Yanukovych. This morning the power broke up a peaceful rally by using force, for which in Europe every policeman would go to jail - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcACUfVzA… http://ru.tsn.ua/video/video-novini/berk…
This is the country where I live. This is my Motherland. Where 45 million people cannot get rid of a bunch of 10 criminals, conquered the power in the country. Our “president”, knowing that he would never win the election in 2015, now is struggling to usurp the power. Become the second Lukashenko. But neither Yanukovych nor Putin understand one simple thing, the Ukrainians are not Russians, they are not Belarusians. As we don’t have dystopian fatalism, as in Russia. We don’t have excessive tolerance, as in Belarus. But, unlike Russia and Belarus, we found out what is real freedom, we managed to win power in 2004, and now we will not give up so easily.
Now tell me, are Ukrainian protests caused by the desire to be in EU?
No, my dear ones. We are well aware of all the difficulties in your countries. We know very well how hard it will be on a way of European integration. But for us, the agreement with the EU, it is not a visa-free regime, not high wages, not good medicine and education. For us, the agreement with the EU would be a sign that the criminal system is destroyed. And first of all – that the gang power will be under the control of European politicians. This is what our president is so afraid of. And that’s exactly what we want so much.”
The outcome of the Vilnius Summit is regrettable, as apparently Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich showed the EU the middle finger, and his country missed a historic opportunity to anchor itself to the West.
But isn’t this a simplistic, an easy analysis?
Let’s imagine Yanukovich would have signed the Association Agreement in Vilnius, following EU pressure. Does anybody believe, in his wildest dreams, that he would implement it?
And wouldn’t such scenario give to Yanukovich an alibi to play on both fronts – conduct a policy that would satisfy Russia until the 2015 presidential elections, and defuse and weaken the opposition, as he could claim to be as pro-European as they are?
And wouldn’t the EU be embarrassed by providing to Yanukovich this alibi? Wouldn’t the opposition feel betrayed?
Now things look more straightforward. The opposition is indeed the real pro-European force, and Yanukovich is the pro-Russian guy, or the guy who thinks only for himself, and not for the country. Simple as that.
Isn’t it better this way? Hopefully, in 2015 the opposition will win the elections and sign the AA with a strong mandate and legitimacy.
I don’t want to miss Russia in the big picture. Russia will spend a lot to make sure Ukraine stays in its orbit. The EU has to invest a lot as well to give to Ukrainians the possibility to make a real choice. So Mr. Barroso, if you are rethinking your Eastern policies, give support to the Ukrainians, not to Yanukovich.
And you can start by giving Ukrainians visa free travel, by keeping visas for the holders of diplomatic passports. How about that?
P.S. And this is a sort of French version