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PostLanguage Laws in Ukraine, and the "Red Lines" Paper (Cameron Sawyer, USA, 04/14/22 5:15 am)
Michael Frank wrote on April 13th:
"Cameron, can you provide some corroboration that 'US-funded NGOs' promoted the language law in Ukraine? I can find no such reference. Is it the same story with the language laws in Moldova?"
In response to certain questions posed here, I am preparing a more detailed piece on the role of US-funded NGOs in Ukraine (I know zero about Moldova), but to briefly answer this narrow question, yes, the language law has been part of the US-funded "civil society" platform for years.
This platform is outlined in the astonishing "Red Lines" paper handed to incoming President Zelensky by a list of so-called "civil society" NGOs, most of them funded by the US, in May 2019. This paper is extremely useful to form a picture of who calls the shots in Ukrainian politics and the extent to which the US is involved. The full text is available in different resources, for example here:
"Ukrainian Civil Society Outlines Red Lines President Zelensky Can't Cross."
Euromaidan Press, incidentally, is funded by George Soros and NED. NED, which was explicitly set up in the 1980s to continue propaganda and subversion work previously done by the CIA (more about that in my upcoming paper), is funded by US taxpayers.
The signatories express "deep concern" about different decisions made by Zelensky, which they, with astonishing arrogance, "demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of the threats and challenges facing our country" on the part of Zelensky. They go on to presume to dictate a long list of "red lines" to Zelensky, just a few of which I'm citing here:
"As civil society activists, we present a list of ‘red lines not to be crossed.' Should the President cross these red lines, such actions will inevitably lead to political instability in our country and the deterioration of international relations:
"1. Holding a referendum on the format of the negotiations to be used with the Russian Federation and on the principles for a peaceful settlement
"2. Conducting separate negotiations--without the participation of Ukraine's Western partners--with the Russian Federation, members of the occupation authorities and their armed groups and gangs in the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, Crimea and Sevastopol . . . "
In other words, don't dare, President Zelensky, consider holding a referendum to ask Ukrainian citizens what they themselves think about terms or even format of a possible settlement with Russia. Amazing. And notwithstanding your democratic mandate, don't you dare negotiate with the Russians without the permission of "our Western partners"--from this it is very clear who is calling the shots here; naturally, who is funding all these groups--he who pays the piper. Read these two together--the Ukrainian people, who elected you, have no voice, but "Western partners," do. This is what we have been crafting in Ukraine--it's neither democracy, nor is it independence.
"National Identity: Language, Education, Culture
"1. attempting to review the language law
"2. attempting to review the law on education"
In other words, President Zelensky, although you are a Russian speaker from the East who was elected with more than 70% of the vote of the whole Ukrainian people on a platform of reform and moderation, and on a platform of taking a step back from the divisive, radical nationalist program of the previous, US-backed administration, don't you dare even "review" either the divisive language law, or the education law (which abolishes most education in Russian), two laws you criticized during your campaign. Even "review"! Don't even look at these laws! The arrogance is astonishing, and can only come from a position of overwhelming strength, in other words, a wall of funding from the US. Just imagine, if you will, that incoming President Biden had gotten a multipage list of "red lines," covering a huge array of different policy issues, signed by a bunch of foreign-funded NGOs.
". . . launching politically motivated persecution of members of the previous government."
The US-backed Poroshenko government was even more corrupt (if one can even imagine that) than the overthrown Yanukovych government. So "civil society" does not want the crimes of the US-backed Poroshenko government to be investigated (particularly, one presumes, the ones which lead to Hunter Biden). Interesting. Zelensky fortunately ignored this demand and did prosecute Poroshenko, for treason no less, and fired most of the US-backed Poroshenko ministers. He has prudently left Hunter Biden alone. So far.
"rehabilitating/encouraging the return to politics of members of former President Viktor Yanukovych's regime and individuals that supported the ‘dictatorial laws' of January 16, 2014. . . "
Zelensky also ignored this. He ran on a platform of reform and reconciliation, and did bring back a number of former Yanukovych officials to add balance to his government, over the protests of nationalists and "civil society."
" . . . enabling the Servant of the People Party [Zelensky's party] to form a coalition with politicians that were founding members of the Party of Regions and the Opposition Bloc in the new parliament and/or any other parties that promote reconciliation with Russia by way of surrender or concessions of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity . . . "
The signatories of the "Red Lines" paper claim to be "politically neutral," but obviously they are the very opposite of politically neutral. And they claim the authority to stop Zelensky from forming coalitions with certain parties--some kind of democracy, eh? Ironically, Zelensky ended up not forming coalitions with these parties, but banning them. But that's another story.
". . . ignoring dialogue with civil society. . . "
I.e., ignore who your real masters are. "Civil society" is the list of US-funded NGOs which signed the "Red Lines" paper.
I trust this gives a taste? These are just a few of the "red lines" dictates; by all means read the whole of the linked paper. More in my longer piece about NGOs in Ukraine, which I will try to finish in the next couple of days. It's a tedious process because I am thoroughly checking every fact in the hopes that I can produce something fairly authoritative.
JE comments: How much funding of Euromaidan Press comes from Soros? From what I've dug up in a quick Google, a grant came from Soros's International Renaissance Foundation, but I have not been able to determine the amount. See this Reuters piece:
The Euromaidan "Red Lines" paper is arrogant to be sure, but does it have teeth? It seems to have influenced Zelensky far less than it did Putin--giving him an excuse to invade. And nearly two years later, at that.
Cameron, several times you've written that Poroshenko (our bastard) was more corrupt than Yanukovych (their bastard). Could you elaborate? When we hear of palaces and gold toilets, it's about Yanukovych.
(Cameron Sawyer, USA
04/17/22 7:03 AM)
JE wrote: "Cameron, several times you've written that Poroshenko (our bastard) was more corrupt than Yanukovych (their bastard). Could you elaborate? When we hear of palaces and gold toilets, it's about Yanukovych."
Of course we hear about Yanukovych, because our propaganda tries extra hard to blacken those who are in the other camp ("their bastard").
You have to dig through the propaganda to the real facts to find out about Poroshenko. Fortunately we live in relatively free countries where, despite the propaganda, we do have access to real facts--in this we are better off than Russians.
The best and clearest picture of the Poroshenko regime and the whole system of corruption for people who haven't lived or worked in Ukraine can be gotten, actually, from fiction, namely Zelensky's Sluga Naroda. Poroshenko is very accurately, if mercilessly portrayed, as the ex-president "Sergei Pavlovich," and has a prominent role in Zelensky's work.
Poroshenko was indicted for high treason and fled the country, returning to Ukraine just months before the Russian invasion. The case was based on an unfortunately typically Ukrainian story--Ukraine lost its coal fields after the Russian-backed secession of Donbas, and started buying coal from South Africa to replace the lost Donbas coal. Poroshenko is alleged (credibly, in my view) to have conspired with the Putin-associated oligarch Medvedchuk to have falsified reports that the South African coal was inferior in quality in order to get the state-owned power utility Tsentroenergo to acquire the coal from rebel-held parts of Donbas. Since payment for the coal couldn't be made through banks in the rebel-held parts of Donbas (against Ukrainian law), Poroshenko and Medvedchuk--and you can't make this stuff up--allegedly had the money withdrawn in suitcases of cash which were driven across the line of contact into the rebel republics, where it was divided up between the rebels, Medvedchuk, and Poroshenko. The treason in the accusations is the alleged corrupt collusion with the enemy.
Zelensky is accused of politically motivated persecution of Poroshenko, and that could be true--they are arch-rivals, and that's just the way they do it in Ukraine. Yanukovsky imprisoned Timoshenko in a similar case, and Poroshenko himself prosecuted his ex-friend and ex-president of Georgia, Mikhael Saakashvili, whom he had previously made governor of Odessa, stripped him of his Ukrainian citizenship, and deported him back to Georgia, after Saakashvili turned on Poroshenko, accusing Poroshenko of--you guessed it--corruption. In the "you can't make this stuff up" category, Saakashvili, deported from Ukraine back to Georgia, was immediately arrested by the Georgians, for--yes, you can guess yourself. Not just an accusation of corruption, but a conviction with a three-year prison sentence. It's hilarious actually. But maybe not so surprising--all these corrupt politicians accuse each other, arrest each other, when they fall out. No honor among thieves, right? Whoever is up just as a matter of course prosecutes whoever is down.
N.B.: the fact that the prosecutions may be politically motivated doesn't make them groundless. Saakashvili, another darling of our NGOs and one-time darling of US media and recipient of millions of dollars of US funding to "promote democracy," is just as bad as any of them, and is now deeply reviled in Georgia. Your tax dollars at work!
So even if the case against Poroshenko is politically motivated, it doesn't exclude the truth of the accusations. And having done business in Ukraine for decades, I can tell WAISers that the story about the coal contracts, fake quality certificates, and suitcases full of cash is absolutely believable; it's an absolutely typical way for Ukrainian politicians to enrich themselves. See: https://kyivindependent.com/national/explainer-is-poroshenko-treason-case-justice-or-political-persecution/?__cf_chl_tk=q7i1vi5xLKjuviuHkdPxDCkAAA9KIAn4sRQigSMCjLU-1649942212-0-gaNycGzNCH0
Poroshenko is the subject of about 20 other criminal cases in Ukraine, and numerous journalistic investigations have turned up massive evidence of corruption. Of course prosecuting anyone in Ukraine for corruption is like trying to hand out speeding tickets at the Indianapolis 500 (to paraphrase Apocalypse Now), but if anyone has a chance to actually do something about it, especially now after all the political capital he has earned as a war leader, it is Zelensky. Zelensky is the first ever president of Ukraine who did not come out of the political-oligarchic symbiosis which has run and robbed Ukraine blind since independence. Zelensky, unlike Poroshenko (and unlike Trump for that matter) is an actual businessman who built a real business from the ground up on the basis of hard work and ingenuity, struggling with, rather than benefiting from, corruption.
Poroshenko, on the other hand, is a charter member of the Ukrainian oligarchy--a billionaire who made his initial fortune in the same way as other 1990s Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs, by smash-and-grab privatization of state-owned enterprises, initially confectionary enterprises, then car and bus factories, the type of privatization which was done in collusion with politicians and usually with organized crime. The oligarchy and the political establishment in Ukraine are one organic whole (as depicted very accurately in Sluga Naroda), so Poroshenko's transition to president was easy and natural.
Privatization of state-owned enterprises in the former Soviet Union of the 1990s was a hard, rough game played by hard, rough men. If you Google "Poroshenko," you will find article after article in the Western press lamenting that Poroshenko, once we helped him to become president of Ukraine, somehow failed to deal with corruption and the oligarchy (see for example https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/ukrainealert/why-poroshenko-doesn-t-deserve-a-second-term/ ). That's rich! You make an actual oligarch president, and you think he's going to lift a finger to change the system which made him into a billionaire and keeps him there, a system which he helped create and of which he is an integral part, a founding member, as it were? That's like appointing a wolf to oversee a program to convert a society to vegetarianism. The naivete of our journalists is breathtaking.
Of course we were never really much interested in whether the government we "midwifed" (Victoria Nuland's phrase) would actually do anything about corruption or not; on the contrary, the leading US politician dealing with Ukraine at the time and Nuland's boss just merrily hooked his own son right into the gravy train. The purpose of our "midwifery" had nothing to do with Ukraine altogether; it was part of a bigger game which is revealed honestly in the writings of the midwife's own husband and co-author, a leading neo-Con theorist (the very same "give war a chance" Robert Kagan, one of the leading theorists of our violent invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and our destabilization of Libya and other regime-change misadventures). More about that anon.
JE comments: Our bastard indeed. Perhaps we can focus on the positive, namely, the figure of Zelensky. If one good thing can emerge from this terrible war, it could be Zelensky's chance to radically reform the "business as usual" kleptocracy in Ukraine. At least for the present, he has the political capital to achieve it.
One question I've never been able to resolve: Why are some societies corrupt and others not? As a general rule, poorer nations tend to be more corrupt. But is corruption a result of the poverty...or its cause?
- Language Laws in Ukraine: Theory and Practice (from Michael Frank) (John Eipper, USA 04/18/22 8:30 AM)
Michael Frank writes:
In reply to my query about Ukrainian language law being a response to NGO interference, Cameron Sawyer (April 14th) provided a link to an article in Euromaidanpress. The article covers a lot of ground, but barely touches on language law. Regardless of the origin or tone, it's not clear that the article or its publishers had any direct effect on any of the subjects it addressed. I'm still trying to get my head around the Euromaidan movement, its influencers, and how it has interacted with other political currents both inside and outside Ukraine. Trying to catch up with old news in the fast-moving context of war may be a fraught exercise.
The choice of language has been a political issue in Ukraine for generations, going back to Soviet-era laws excluding Yiddish from court proceedings. Ukrainian was adopted as the official national language in the 1980s, before the Soviet Union broke apart. Ad hoc exceptions were carved out for local use of Russian and other languages where there was a localized community of interest. This set of rules was preserved in independent Ukraine's constitution in the 1990s, in spirit if not to the letter.
In 2012, the Kolesnychenko-Kivalov language bill granted formal recognition of minority languages anywhere that 10% or more of the local population spoke something other than Ukrainian. Effectively, it made half of Ukraine officially Russian-speaking (a few areas became Moldovan- or Hungarian-speaking.) Putin awarded Ukrainian legislators Kolesnychenko and Kivalov the Medal of Pushkin for their work in preserving Russian culture. Clearly, this law did not benefit Ukraine. If not the direct result of outside influence, it had benefits for Ukraine's immediate neighbors, especially Russia. An attempt to repeal the law in 2014 was (perhaps) a provocation for the annexation of Crimea. The law was never repealed, but it was ultimately found unconstitutional in 2018, a year before the Euromaidan article. Subsequent legislation, passed immediately before Zelensky entered office, reestablished Ukrainian as the sole official state language.
More recently, laws regarding government procedure, media and education have increasingly favored Ukrainian over Russian. It would seem that this has been a provocation to Putin, and there seem to be plenty of outside hands, both seen and unseen, pushing this issue one way or the other. But it's not clear to me that the core idea isn't indigenous, as a natural product of Ukrainian nationalism. Language has been weaponized in Ukraine. That parallel efforts at language standardization were concurrently occurring in neighboring Moldova seems more than a historical coincidence. But I wonder the degree to which any of these laws have affected life on the ground. I'd bet that Ukrainians have gone about their lives speaking whatever works for them, without much thought to which language is official.
JE comments: How do you preserve an at-risk language without mandating or even "weaponizing" it? (Not to suggest that Ukrainian was at risk.)
The US model of no official language is the ideal, but English needs no legal support to ensure its vitality. As for Ukraine, can anyone tell us if the language was actually in decline compared to Russian in the years prior to the controversial law? Russian is the first language of approximately 30% of the population. With the war changing everything, one wonders what this will look like in a generation's time.
- Language Laws in Ukraine: Theory and Practice (from Michael Frank) (John Eipper, USA 04/18/22 8:30 AM)