Lib Dem candidate’s ‘lunatic fringe’ comment politically illiterate

Posted by John Eden
From: Dr. Peter Latham

Sent: Monday, April 07, 2014 5:12 AM

To: newsdesk@croydonadvertiser.co.uk

Subject: Lib Dem candidate’s ‘lunatic fringe’ comment politically illiterate

Dear Editor,

Please consider my letter below for publication in next Friday’s issue of the paper.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Latham

Lib Dem candidate’s ‘lunatic fringe’ comment politically illiterate

Lib Dem local election candidate John Jenkins, according to your report on 4 April, was furious that he would be speaking at Croydon Radio’s hustings programme on 6 April alongside Communist and National Front candidates he describes as the “lunatic fringe”.

In fact Ben Stevenson, Croydon Communist candidate for Bensham Manor ward, dropped out of the show immediately we learnt that a National Front candidate would be appearing. This follows our ‘no platform to racists or fascists’ policy, which is a matter of principle held not only by communists but also by trade unions and vast sections of the labour and progressive movement. We therefore applaud the decision by Andrew Pelling – who is also a Labour local election candidate – to resign from Croydon Radio because the NF were given a platform at the station’s hustings programme on 6 April.

John Jenkins is also politically illiterate when he equates communists with fascists because fascism is the last resort of a capitalist state in crisis. Moreover, the very first people Hitler sent to the gas chambers were the German communists as shown by Pastor Martin Niemoller’s famous poem: ‘First they came for the communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist… Then they came for the Socialists…the trade unionists…the Jews… Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me’.

Capitalism is again in crisis today and this is why the Communist Party of Britain is part of the No2EU alliance (set up by the late Bob Crow) whose manifesto will go to all households urging voters on 22 May to support a non-racist socialist exit from the European Union with its austerity policies.

Similarly, Ben Stevenson, John Eden in Selhurst and Peter Latham in Broad Green are standing as Communist candidates in the local elections to show that there is an alternative to the austerity policies of the three main parties both nationally and locally. For, as noted in my forthcoming book on The imminent demise of local government, all of the cuts in welfare, health, education, housing and local authority services can be reversed and services massively increased by:

· a two per cent wealth tax on the richest 10 per cent of households who own an estimated 44 per cent of Britain’s wealth (revenue £90 billion a year)

· a 10 per cent ‘Robin Hood’ tax on City transac­tions (revenue £112 billion a year)

· ending tax dodging by the super-rich and big business (revenue £70 billion a year).

(Dr.) Peter Latham, Flat 8 Scoresdale, 13 Beulah Hill, London SE19 3LH

Lord Myners, the banks and the Co-op

It is reported this week that if the Co-op Board does not accept the proposals from Lord Myners to ‘reform’ their structure to make it look more acceptable to ‘the City’, the Co-op’s principal lenders, Barclays, Lloyds Bank and Royal Bank of Scotland will flex their muscles and insist on the ‘reforms’ or call in their debts.

Hang on a moment. Barclays? Lloyds? RBS? Lord Myners??? Has the world gone completely mad?

The capitalist world is, of course, full of such contradictions, but in this case the lunatics appear to have taken over the asylum! Lord Myners originally attracted modest public attention as a financial journalist on the Daily Torygraph before rising to prominence as the Chairman of Marks and Spencer, where his ‘reforms’ clearly failed to reverse the painful, protracted decline of this once dominant and celebrated high street retailer. In 2008, he was appointed by Gordon Brown Financial Secretary to the Treasury where he oversaw the shawing up of …Barclays, Lloyds and RBS. The consequences of these bailouts resulted in the recession and the coalition government’s continuing efforts, with Labour’s endorsement, to make ordinary working people pay for the resulting economic crisis. The once in a lifetime opportunity to rein in the banks and make them serve the interests of their customers (rather than fleecing them) and the nation (by financing real businesses, not speculators) was thrown away. In the specific case of RBS, Myner’s judgment has proved particularly deficient. The parliamentary Treasury Committee reported in 2009 that “The RBS Board had shown itself to be incompetent in the management of the bank, steering it towards catastrophe… We suspect that Lord Myners’ City background, and naiveté as to the public perception of these matters, may have led him to place too much trust in an RBS Board that he himself described to us as “distinguished”.

Such are the individuals and businesses that now seek to dilute the democratic structures of the Co-op. The Communist Party in Croydon wishes the Co-op well in its struggle to keep its independence and we give our full support to our elected representatives from Croydon in this fight.

Martin Graham

May 2014 Local Elections – No Platform for Racists and Fascists

Press Release

There have been reports that Ben Stevenson, Croydon Communist candidate for Bensham Manor in the May 2014 local elections would be appearing on today’s Croydon Radio ‘In The Loop’ Election Special.

We were pleased to accept the original invitation but dropped out of the show immediately we learnt that a National Front (NF) candidate would be appearing. This follows our ‘no platform to racists or fascists’ policy, which is a matter of principle held not only by communists but also by trade unions and vast sections of the labour and progressive movement. In Croydon and the rest of the country we have and will continue to work with legitimate political parties, groups and individuals on any issue of common concern – including anti-racist work- but groups like the NF, BNP, the EDL and other offshoots have nothing to offer the people of Croydon other than hatred, vitriol and bile. Their goal is to divide people and communities to such an extent that they can incite a race war.

Mr Stevenson said, “Providing a platform for racists and fascists does nothing but further legitimise them. You can’t drown them in the oxygen of publicity. The only reason why these groups have not been consigned to the dustbin of history, where they belong, is the daily dose of anti-immigration hysteria presented in right wing tabloid newspaper and tacitly encouraged by mainstream political parties as an easy vote winner in the short term.”

We understand the NF was subsequently removed from the show but received confirmation of the position too late to change our decision.

Croydon Communists continue to look forward to the election campaign, where we are fielding three candidates. Mr Stevenson said, “Croydon residents need a genuine alternative to the relentless austerity, public service cuts and total lack of accountability offered by the Tories. They also need more than the platitudes presented by Labour about more transparency in council meetings, more effective working with the voluntary sector and cleaner streets in Croydon. This election is an opportunity to take the fight to the Tories and explain to local people that there is a future worth fighting for based on a socialist political and economic strategy.”

Notes to editors:
1. For enquiries phone 0208 686 1659 or e-mail croydon@communist-party.org.uk
2. Ben Stevenson is 29 years old and National Secretary of the Communist Party. Since moving to Croydon from his native Birmingham in 2005, he has been heavily involved in local labour movement politics through the Croydon Save Our Schools Campaign, the campaign against the Beddington Lane Incinerator and the Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee. He stood as a Communist Party candidate in the 2012 Croydon North by-election.
3. John Eden is the Communist Party candidate for Selhurst. He is 64 years old and a carpenter and joiner. He is a member of Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee and has lived in Selhurst for 27 years.
4. Dr Peter Latham is the Communist Party candidate for Broad Green. A former lecturer, he has lived in the area for many years. He is the author of ‘The State and Local Government: Towards a new basis for local democracy and the defeat of big business control’ and a longstanding member of Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee.
5. The Communist Party’s longstanding No Platform policy asserts that no person or organisation holding racist or fascist beliefs should be given a platform to speak at a party-organised event, nor should an officer of the party share a platform with them. Reflecting the development of web-based communications and social media and the significant shift in the way information is promoted or made accessible, No Platform also means that we deny fascists and racists the freedom to spread their poison within communities unchallenged.
6. Croydon Communists recently published a well-received pamphlet on housing issues in the borough, ‘Decent Homes for All – End Croydon’s Housing Crisis Now’, which is available on the website or by contacting us direct.
7. The Communist Party was founded in 1920 and is part of an international movement involving millions of people in more than 100 countries across the globe.

END THE ASSULT ON WELFARE

The government’s cruel and unnecessary cap on social security spending sailed through Parliament towards the end of last month.

Croydon Communists set out five reasons why the cap is wrong.
• It subjects vulnerable people’s needs to an arbitrary spending limit
• It perpetuates the myth that social security spending has got “out of control”
• It does nothing to address key underlying reasons for the welfare budget
• It will fuel the demonization of people on benefits
• It will do nothing to help those in real need

Only 13 Labour MPs voted against it. A few more would have done, but were legitimately absent.

Nevertheless, the vote was disappointing. It shows that the Labour Party leadership, the only ones who for all practical purposes, can form an alternative government to the hated con/dems after the general election in 2015 have little concern for the most vulnerable.

The vote came on the day HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said it is shedding 17% of jobs from its specialist tax division – the staff who deal with higher rate taxpayers and more
complex cases.

The reason, cited by a senior manager, was that they “are being challenged to deliver more with less” and is part of a wider plan by HMRC to axe thousands more posts in the coming months and years.

Just one week ago, chancellor George Osborne claimed in his budget speech: “I am increasing HMRC’s budget to tackle non-compliance.”

What complete tosh!

Mark Serwotka General Secretary of the mighty PCS civil service union, who organise both social security and tax office staff said: “The welfare cap is not a solution to anything, it is a gimmick, and a very nasty and dangerous one that will cruelly punish vulnerable people whose lives depend on the support benefits and tax credits provide.

“With tens of billions of pounds lost every year through corporate tax avoidance, MPs should hang their heads in shame that they are voting for a cap that risks driving more people into poverty and putting more families on the streets.”

How true. All the more reason for Croydonians to vote Communist if possible at the local elections on 22 May. Croydon’s Communists oppose and will continue to oppose, every assault on Britain’s welfare state, which came about under a Labour government in 1945.

Nigel Green

ELECTIONS AND THE FUTURE OF THE LABOUR PARTY

Two developments concerning the future of the Labour Party and its relationship with progressive forces outside that party, including the Communist Party, have been reported this week. First, at the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD) AGM there was a motion, remitted to the EC, calling for the establishment of a new party affiliated to the Labour Party, much as is the Co-operative Party, to represent the left within the party. The second development was that Len McCluskey, General Secretary of the Unite union, speaking to parliamentary journalists this week, suggested that if Labour lost the next general election on a programme of cuts, a new workers party might gain his union’s support.

The CLPD pretty well represents the last vestige of socialist organisation within the Labour Party. There are, of course, still a few individual socialists in the Labour Party and there exists the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) which aims to build support across the left inside and outside the Labour Party. The effectiveness of these efforts is, however, hampered by Labour’s prohibition on organising a party within the party and on members who are also members of a party that stands candidates against Labour. The Communist Party has always taken a principled stand on this. We stand in elections, where we can, not because we have any realistic prospect of being elected under first past the post elections dominated by a capitalist mass media, but because we think a truly democratic party, which we are, should be prepared to put its views before the electorate where it can. We also recognise that Labour’s prohibition on membership of parties that stand against it was and is directly targeted at the Communist Party. Unlike many other parties on the left, we refuse to bow our knee over this. Entryism may appeal to some on the left but it is not our style of working.

It is difficult to see how we might gain from the CPLD’s idea for a new, tame party affiliated to Labour even if the Labour Party were to approve such an affiliation, which seems most unlikely.
Whether there might be an opportunity for the Communist Party in the new workers party envisaged by Mr McCluskey remains to be seen.

Elections are expensive. That is why the Communist Party does not currently stand in as many as we would like. We will, however, by standing in three wards in Croydon at the local government elections on 22 May: Broad Green, Selhurst and Bensham Manor. Support, financial and physical, would be very welcome.

Martin Graham
Election Agent for the Communist Party in Croydon

Croydon Communist Party Launches Campaign for May 2014 Local Elections

Media Release

Croydon’s Communist Party announced today that it will be fielding three candidates in the May 2014 local elections.

Launching the campaign, Ben Stevenson, Communist Party National Secretary and prospective local election candidate for Bensham Manor, said, “Croydon residents need a genuine alternative to the relentless austerity, public service cuts and total lack of accountability offered by the Tories. They also need more than the platitudes presented by Labour about more transparency in council meetings, more effective working with the voluntary sector and cleaner streets in Croydon. Frankly, the blather expressed recently by Tony Newman about these issues is a smokescreen. Of course, we support giving back as much influence as possible to local people and communities. But Labour in Croydon are offering the same cuts in services as the Tories, with a bit of window dressing to obscure their impact. For a start, if they were serious about restoring democracy in Croydon Council they would abolish cabinet government, which is anything but democratic, and re-empower councillors. And they would fight for properly funded public services provided directly by the council.”

Labour’s talk of ‘difficult choices’, ‘priorities’ and providing public services ‘differently’ misses the point. The dangers of going down the ‘cooperative council’ route pursued by Lambeth and other councils are well known. Residents are faced with an impossible choice. Either support the provision of vital local services such as children’s and youth facilities and libraries by volunteers, with all the impact that has on the quality of service delivery and the jobs of the staff themselves, or see them disappear.

Ben Stevenson said, “Croydon clearly needs decent local services which reflect local needs. We mustn’t fall into the trap of thinking we need offer a balanced budget within centrally determined funding constraints. The Con-Dem Government has made a political decision to use a crisis of capitalism as cover for permanent austerity and a wide-range assault on the welfare state and all the social gains made since 1945. Local government as we know it is set to disappear as totally unnecessary funding cuts result in the termination of discretionary services and even statutory services face a ‘death of the thousand cuts’. Why not consider the positive role of a ‘needs budget’ to resist Tory austerity politics. And simply say ‘no’ to the forced implementation of the cuts?”

John Eden, prospective local election candidate for Selhurst said, “Croydon Labour Party’s manifesto for the May 2014 elections provides a clear illustration of their failure to offer a vision for Croydon which presents a genuine alternative to endless austerity. Our community faces job losses, inadequate housing and all-out assault on local services. I look forward to the challenge presented by this election, taking the fight to the Tories and explaining to local people that there’s a future worth fighting for based on a socialist political and economic strategy.”

Notes to editors:
1. For enquiries phone 0208 686 1659 or e-mail croydon@communist-party.org.uk
2. Ben Stevenson is 29 years old and National Secretary of the Communist Party. Since moving to Croydon from his native Birmingham in 2005, he has been heavily involved in local labour movement politics through the Croydon Save Our Schools Campaign, the campaign against the Beddington Lane Incinerator and the Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee. He stood as a Communist Party candidate in the 2012 Croydon North by-election.
3. John Eden is 64 years old and a carpenter and joiner. He is a member of Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee and has lived in Selhurst for 27 years.
4. Dr Peter Latham is the prospective candidate for Broad Green. A former lecturer, he has lived in the area for many years. He is the author of ‘The State and Local Government: Towards a new basis for local democracy and the defeat of big business control’ and a longstanding member of Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee.
5. Croydon Communists recently published a well-received pamphlet on housing issues in the borough, ‘Decent Homes for All – End Croydon’s Housing Crisis Now’, which is available on the website or by contacting us direct.
6. The Communist Party was founded in 1920 and is part of an international movement involving millions of people in more than 100 countries across the globe.

“Anti- Semitism” in Kiev

John Eden 1st March,
The below is from BBC website and is from an Israeli newspaper “Haaretz” Whatever the political line of this paper it shows that some Ukrainian Jews were fighting to overthrow the corrupt regime of Yanukovyich.
The ex-Israeli soldier who led a Kiev fighting unit

‘Delta’ has headed ‘the Blue Helmets of Maidan’ of 40 men and women – including several IDF veterans – in violent clashes with government forces.

                        Delta, the nom de guerre of the Jewish commander of a Ukrainian street-fighting unit, is pictured in Kiev earlier this month.Photo by Courtesy

He calls his troops “the Blue Helmets of Maidan,” but brown is the color of the headgear worn by Delta — the nom de guerre of the commander of a Jewish-led militia force that participated in the Ukrainian revolution. Under his helmet, he also wears a kippah.

Delta, a Ukraine-born former soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, spoke to JTA Thursday on condition of anonymity. He explained how he came to use combat skills he acquired in the Shu’alei Shimshon reconnaissance battalion of the Givati infantry brigade to rise through the ranks of Kiev’s street fighters. He has headed a force of 40 men and women — including several fellow IDF veterans — in violent clashes with government forces.

Several Ukrainian Jews, including Rabbi Moshe Azman, one of the country’s claimants to the title of chief rabbi, confirmed Delta’s identity and role in the still-unfinished revolution.

The “Blue Helmets” nickname, a reference to the UN peacekeeping force, stuck after Delta’s unit last month prevented a mob from torching a building occupied by Ukrainian police, he said. “There were dozens of officers inside, surrounded by 1,200 demonstrators who wanted to burn them alive,” he recalled. “We intervened and negotiated their safe passage.”

The problem, he said, was that the officers would not leave without their guns, citing orders. Delta told JTA his unit reasoned with the mob to allow the officers to leave with their guns. “It would have been a massacre, and that was not an option,” he said.

The Blue Helmets comprise 35 men and women who are not Jewish, and who are led by five ex-IDF soldiers, says Delta, an Orthodox Jew in his late 30s who regularly prays at Azman’s Brodsky Synagogue. He declined to speak about his private life.

Delta, who immigrated to Israel in the 1990s, moved back to Ukraine several years ago and has worked as a businessman. He says he joined the protest movement as a volunteer on November 30, after witnessing violence by government forces against student protesters

“I saw unarmed civilians with no military background being ground by a well-oiled military machine, and it made my blood boil,” Delta told JTA in Hebrew laced with military jargon. “I joined them then and there, and I started fighting back the way I learned how, through urban warfare maneuvers. People followed, and I found myself heading a platoon of young men. Kids, really.”

The other ex-IDF infantrymen joined the Blue Helmets later after hearing it was led by a fellow vet, Delta said.

As platoon leader, Delta says he takes orders from activists connected to Svoboda, an ultra-nationalist party that has been frequently accused of anti-Semitism and whose members have been said to have had key positions in organizing the opposition protests.

“I don’t belong [to Svoboda], but I take orders from their team. They know I’m Israeli, Jewish and an ex-IDF soldier. They call me ‘brother,’” he said. “What they’re saying about Svoboda is exaggerated, I know this for a fact. I don’t like them because they’re inconsistent, not because of [any] anti-Semitism issue.”

The commanding position of Svoboda in the revolution is no secret, according to Ariel Cohen, a senior research fellow at the Washington D.C.-based Heritage Foundation think tank.

“The driving force among the so-called white sector in the Maidan are the nationalists, who went against the SWAT teams and snipers who were shooting at them,” Cohen told JTA.

Volodymyr Groysman, a former mayor of the city of Vinnytsia and the newly appointed deputy prime minister for regional policy, is a Jew, Rabbi Azman said.

“There are no signs for concern yet,” said Cohen, “but the West needs to make it clear to Ukraine that how it is seen depends on how minorities are treated.”

On Wednesday, Russian State Duma Chairman Sergey Naryshkin said Moscow was concerned about anti-Semitic declarations by radical groups in Ukraine.

But Delta says the Kremlin is using the anti-Semitism card falsely to delegitimize the Ukrainian revolution, which is distancing Ukraine from Russia’s sphere of influence.

“It’s bullshit. I never saw any expression of anti-Semitism during the protests, and the claims to the contrary were part of the reason I joined the movement. We’re trying to show that Jews care,” he said.

Still, Delta’s reasons for not revealing his name betray his sense of feeling like an outsider. “If I were Ukrainian, I would have been a hero. But for me it’s better to not reveal my name if I want to keep living here in peace and quiet,” he said.

Fellow Jews have criticized him for working with Svoboda. “Some asked me if instead of ‘Shalom’ they should now greet me with a ‘Sieg heil.’ I simply find it laughable,” he said. But he does have frustrations related to being an outsider. “Sometimes I tell myself, ‘What are you doing? This is not your army. This isn’t even your country.’”

He recalls feeling this way during one of the fiercest battles he experienced, which took place last week at Institutskaya Street and left 12 protesters dead. “The snipers began firing rubber bullets at us. I fired back from my rubber-bullet rifle,” Delta said.

“Then they opened live rounds, and my friend caught a bullet in his leg. They shot at us like at a firing range. I wasn’t ready for a last stand. I carried my friend and ordered my troops to fall back. They’re scared kids. I gave them some cash for phone calls and told them to take off their uniform and run away until further instructions. I didn’t want to see anyone else die that day.”

Currently, the Blue Helmets are carrying out police work that include patrols and preventing looting and vandalism in a city of 3 million struggling to climb out of the chaos that engulfed it for the past three months.

But Delta has another, more ambitious, project: He and Azman are organizing the airborne evacuation of seriously wounded protesters — none of them Jewish — for critical operations in Israel. One of the patients, a 19-year-old woman, was wounded at Institutskaya by a bullet that penetrated her eye and is lodged inside her brain, according to Delta. Azman says he hopes the plane of 17 patients will take off next week, with funding from private donors and with help from Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel.

“The doctor told me that another millimeter to either direction and she would be dead,” Delta said. “And I told him it was the work of Hakadosh Baruch Hu

Anti-Semitic Card being played in Ukraine.

John Eden. 1st March 2014.

Below is an article from Ukraine. In my opinion they are correct in what they say, but I leave it up to you the reader.

Права Людини в Україні
Інформаційний портал Харківської правозахисної групи

Anti-Semitic card and other provocation in time of siege

                       

Yanukovych spoke of “self-defence units”. Most observers call them Russian tanks

Clear attempts over the last two days to provoke violent confrontation in the Crimea, as well as the worst act of anti-Semitic vandalism in 20 years seem to confirm the warnings from authoritative Russian analyst Andrei Illarionov that Putin wants to provoke civil war in Ukraine

Gross anti-Semitic graffiti has appeared in Simferopol on the second day of the effective siege of the city by armed Russian-speakers in uniforms without any identifying marks.

The Ner Tamid Synagogue belonging to the Progressive Judaism Community had a foul piece of graffiti daubed on its outer wall. The words “Death to Jews”, with an offensive word used; are surrounded by a swastika, Celtic wolf’s hook and Wolfsangel.

The Euro-Asian Jewish Congress points out that the Wolfsangel painted is, in fact, a back-to-front image of the symbol normally used by Ukrainian radical nationalists.

Viacheslav Likhachev, an analyst who has long monitored anti-Semitism and xenophobia in Ukraine notes drily that this vandalism has suddenly appeared in a city under the control of unidentified pro-Russian separatists. He cannot recall anything of the kind during the three months of EuroMaidan protests in Lviv, Chernivtsi or Kyiv under Maidan Self-Defence units.

As reported, both the Yanukovych regime and Russian propaganda have tried very hard to present the Maidan movement as “fascist”, “anti-Semitic”, xenophobic and anti-Russian. They have run up against a number of major difficulties, not least the active involvement in the Maidan protests of people who would logically have most to fear if the propaganda hype were true. This includes Jewish people, Crimean Tatars, people from other ethnic minorities. Two of the people who died defending Maidan – Serhiy Nihoyan and Georgy Aratunyan – were of Armenian origin.

This line was attempted by Viktor Yanukovych at a press conference given to Russian journalists in Rostov on the Don on Feb 28. He claimed that “Crimeans don’t want to obey nationalists and Bandera-supporters. This is the wish of simple people, Crimeans to self-organization, creation of self-defence units which are currently being formed in the Crimea.” Yanukovych did not explain how these “self-defence units” have come by large amounts of Russian tanks and other military equipment, not to mention huge amounts of arms.

Putin’s silence which Yanukovych purportedly found baffling is nothing of the kind, of course, if one considers the clear synchronization of events. Within hours of these supposedly mysterious gunmen who do not seem to have recognized the Crimean prime minister, Anatoly Mohylyov, seizing the Crimean parliament, deputies were allowed in. The latter obligingly voted for a government under Russian Unity Party politician Sergei Aksyonov. His “election” more or less coincided with news that Viktor Yanukovych had emerged with a statement and promised press conference, Despite the former Ukrainian president having been in hiding since abandoning his residence and presidential administration on the evening of Feb 21, Yanukovych has claimed that he remains president and Asyonov that he answers to Yanukovych. Putin is keeping his distance but has refused to accept the new government in Kyiv, recognized by the West. Askyonov is now reported by the Russian Interfax agency as having appealed to Putin “for assistance”. Brotherly, of course…

None of this is presented to Russian television viewers who are constantly fed stories about how the Maidan movement and those now in government are “banderovtsi” [supporters of the controversial nationalist figure Stepan Bandera], fascists etc. This propaganda is widely spread in the Crimea as well. While there are serious grounds for believing Russia to be playing a direct role in the latest conflict, it is true that some ethnic Russian residents in the Crimea have been duped by an endless stream of horror stories about “fascists” and “extremists”. It must also be said that the new government could have been considerably more sensitive over the language issue, given the fact that most residents of the Crimea are Russian-speakers. Instead it immediately revoked the 2012 language law which heightened the role of the Russian language. The law was highly controversial and entirely unconstitutional, but the haste could only antagonize and worry people who were already anxious about the change in leadership.

Returning to the anti-Semitic vandalism, Anatoly Gendin, head of the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of the Crimea, called it the first such case in twenty years. He believes provocateurs are trying to set ordinary citizens against others, inciting them to look for scapegoats for the problems in the country.

The attempt on Thursday night to seize the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, and now this attack, seem very clearly aimed at provoking trouble.

For these and a number of other reasons, while Barak Obama’s clear statement on Friday night about the inadmissibility of military interference in Ukraine is welcome, one can only hope that the US president is being fully briefed on the assessment of important analysts. Once again it is well worth noting the comments of Russian economist and once presidential adviser, Andrei Illarionov. In a blog entitled “Putin’s terrible vengeance against Ukraine”, he writes:

Those who say that Putin wants to fight are not quite right

Putin doesn’t want to fight at the moment.

At the moment he wants fighting in Ukraine.

He wants Ukrainians, Russians and Crimean Tatars to fight

He wants a fully-fledged civil war in Ukraine.

He suggests that all the military maneuvers; seizure of government buildings and airports; the appointment of a new prime minister whose party gained all of 3% of the votes at the last elections; etc; as well as Russia’s protection of “criminal Yanukovych” and more are aimed at starting civil war in Ukraine.

Many of these acts of provocation deliberately and demonstrably insult the Ukrainian state, Ukrainian national symbols, Ukrainian national consciousness – aiming at the inevitable reaction. “

Illarionov warns that a “fifth column of provocateurs” have already become involved, demanding that the new government use force against “the bandits and terrorists”.

The new government must be forced to react, with the aim being any casualties, due to confrontations, and the authorities’ action. Casualties from all sides, all parts of the country; all faiths.

As always, it will be “very good” if there are attacks on Jews and synagogues

The aim is chaos, bloodshed, confirmation of Putin’s words back in April 2008, that Ukraine was not a fully-fledged country, and the bliss of seeing Ukrainians pleading on their knees for Russia to save the day, impose strict order.

This would be Vladimir Putin’s terrible vengeance “against free Ukrainians daring for the second time over the last decade to not only not heed the orders of the Kremlin boss, … but to begin showing the whole world both the riches they’ve plundered, and the tools, mechanisms and techniques for maintaining just such a criminal regime”.

For Ukrainians, he stresses, the main task now is to not let themselves be provoked “into mass suicide”.

The words are very strong but then the stakes could not be higher.

Events Friday night in Kiev

//  

In Ukraine turbulence, a lad from Lviv becomes the toast of Kiev

By Richard Balmforth

KIEV Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:38am GMT

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Anti-presidential protester Volodymyr Parasiuk addresses the crowd as opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko (L) looks on during a rally in Kiev February 21, 2014. When the history of the bloody turbulence in Ukraine is written, 26-year-old Parasiuk who learned combat skills in the army cadets may be recorded as the man who made up Viktor Yanukovich’s mind to cut and run. To match Insight UKRAINE-CRISIS/HERO Picture taken February 21, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Vitaliy Nosach

// // // // KIEV (Reuters) – When the history of the bloody turbulence in Ukraine is written, a 26-year-old who learned combat skills in the army cadets may be recorded as the man who made up Viktor Yanukovich’s mind to cut and run.

Cars toot a welcome and passers-by press the hand of Volodymyr Parasiuk, a boyish-looking individual who finds it embarrassing to be called a hero.

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He reserves that title for his comrades and other protesters among the 80 or so people killed on the capital’s streets last week in three days of fighting against Yanukovich’s police.

But after opposition leaders had signed an EU-brokered deal with President Yanukovich to end the conflict, it was Parasiuk who commandeered the microphone on Friday night to turn the crowd against it.

With former boxing champion and opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko looking on stony-faced, Parasiuk, from the western city of Lviv, made an electrifying impromptu speech denouncing the opposition for “shaking hands with this killer”.

No-one was going to wait for an election later in the year, he said. Yanukovich had to get out of town by the following morning or face the consequences.

To the dismay of opposition leaders, Parasiuk’s emotional address – he broke down on several occasions as he remembered dead comrades – touched a chord deep within the thousands on Independence Square who roared their approval.

The opposition had failed to sell their achievements to the ‘Maidan’, the name for both the square and the protest movement.

An agreement, painstakingly negotiated with EU foreign ministers over a sleepless night, was effectively dead.

The writing was on the wall for Yanukovich.

He flew out of Kiev by helicopter that night, Ukraine’s acting interior minister said, and on Tuesday was on the run somewhere in Ukraine, being sought for “mass murder”.

“Opposition leaders said they had agreed that there would be early elections in December. This was the Ukrainian people’s last drop of patience,” Parasiuk told Reuters in an interview.

“Emotions were overflowing because we had lost a great number of people. Suddenly these politicians come and say ‘Yanukovich will stay as president and there will be elections.’ I have a clear position. Yanukovich is a terrorist, ‘Terrorist Number One’ for Ukraine,” Parasiuk said.

FLIGHT OF YANUKOVICH

That Friday night, Yanukovich set off on a zig-zag by helicopter and car across eastern and southern Ukraine, looking either for a safe haven or a flight out of the country.

Some believe he may have already decided he was going to flee even before the ‘Maidan’ gave thumbs-down to the agreement.

Ukraine’s opposition, buoyed by the direct intervention of three EU ministers from Germany, Poland and France, had signed an agreement that seemed to meet many of their demands.

It provided for early elections, a national unity government and return to a previous constitution that would take away from Yanukovich control over the appointment of the prime minister and make-up of the government, and return it to parliament.

Almost immediately, the parliament, where Yanukovich’s grip had been weakened by desertions by deputies from his Party of Regions, began voting many of these proposals into law.

Those who saw Yanukovich sign the deal saw an unsmiling figure unhappy about what he was giving away, and aware of the risk he ran in a rapidly-unfolding drama.

“It was as if he knew more about the dire straits he was in. He did not seem as invincible and aloof as he did before. He didn’t look scared but he did not look so sure,” said one witness to the signing.

KLITSCHKO APOLOGY

Either way, when opposition leaders took the deal to the Maidan for definitive approval on Friday night, it blew up in their faces – thanks to Parasiuk’s emotional intervention.

Klitschko and other opposition leaders had already spoken of their achievements in putting a deal together.

But there was a mixed reception from the Maidan. Booing, whistling and cat-calls gave Parasiuk his cue.

As the crowds carried open coffins of victims to the stage where he and opposition leaders stood, Parasiuk, his voice breaking, jumped to the microphone.

“We ordinary people are saying this to the politicians who stand behind us: ‘No Yanukovich is going to be a president for a whole year’, he said to roars of support from the crowd.

“Our kinsmen have been shot and our leaders shake hands with this killer. This is shame. Tomorrow, by 10 o’clock, he has to be gone,” Parasiuk declared.

Yanukovich was, in fact, gone long before that, flying out of Kiev by helicopter that Friday night to the eastern city of Kharkiv, according to acting interior minister Arsen Avakov.

Diplomatic insiders say Yanukovich may already have had doubts about whether the agreement could hold. Benefiting from intelligence on the streets, he knew how the wind was blowing.

Two of the three main opposition leaders – former economy minister Arseny Yatsenyuk and far-right nationalist Oleg Tyahnibok – left the stage quickly after Parasiuk’s speech.

Klitschko returned and apologized for shaking hands with Yanukovich.

ON THE RUN

Though ousted by the fledgling new parliament, Yanukovich, appearing in the town of Kharkiv on Saturday, issued a televised statement saying he was still president. But the new authorities on Monday said he was now wanted for “mass murder”.

Some reports have him hiding in a monastery in Donetsk, though Reuters reporters on Monday saw no sign of unusual activity there. He might be in Crimea. Given Russia‘s Black Sea fleet has a base in Sevastopol, he might even be on a Russian ship, some people theorise.

If Parasiuk had not made the intervention he did, someone else would have, one diplomat opined.

Looking back on that heady Friday night, Parasiuk, who headed a “self-defense” unit with a membership of between 40 and 130 fighters, defended his sharp criticism of Klitschko and the other opposition leaders.

“Everything that had been achieved had been by the people of the Maidan. But they had achieved nothing,” he said in an interview in a restaurant in downtown Kiev.

Parasiuk, a single man with a disarming smile whose girlfriend, Iryna, sat with him, said he had participated “actively” in clashes with police though he declined to say what weapons he had used.

He defended the power of the ‘Maidan’ with the passion of an 18th century French revolutionary.

Asked when Kiev’s barricades would come down, he replied: “If the Maidan disperses, politicians will stop being afraid. We are not going away. We will not allow a repeat of what happened in 2004,” he said.

He was referring to the Orange Revolution of 2004-5 which stopped Yanukovich’s first bid for the presidency but produced governments that collapsed amid in-fighting and allowed him to come to power in 2010.

He spelled out a message that Ukraine’s emerging leadership may have to heed carefully as it strives to make a peaceful transition to a post-Yanukovich order.

The new authorities, he said, must understand that the Maidan is the real power, not the 450 parliamentary deputies.

“My declaration from the stage had one aim: to tell the opposition: ‘Understand this. That if you do not fulfill our conditions then things will be as we decide, not as you decide’.”

“We simply told them: ‘Lads, act decisively because if you don’t, we will’,” Parasiuk said.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Writing By Richard Balmforth; Editing by Giles Elgood)

 
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      Russia Urges Dialogue on Ukraine Amid Military Fears   

26 February 2014 | Issue 5318
A protester in Kiev holding the Ukrainian flag Tuesday.
Marko Drobnjakovic / AP

A protester in Kiev holding the Ukrainian flag Tuesday.

 

As uncertainty about Ukraine’s future grew on Tuesday and fears of separatism in Crimea increased, President Vladimir Putin remained silent — fueling speculation about what Russia’s next move could be to recoup potential losses from the ouster of Kremlin-backed Viktor Yanukovych.

While the European Union and the U.S. have acknowledged Ukraine’s change in leadership, Russia has staunchly refused to do so, instead calling Yanukovych’s impeachment “armed mutiny” and expressing doubts about the legitimacy of the new leaders.

The crisis in Ukraine has put Putin in a particularly uncomfortable situation just days after praise for the Winter Olympics in Sochi seemed to give the country a welcomed image boost after months of criticism leading up to the Games. Losing Ukraine would put a dent in Putin’s ambitious plans for the Eurasian Union and likely damage his reputation at home.

The predicament has many asking how far Russia will go to preserve influence in Ukraine, with journalists and lawmakers speculating about whether Russia would handle the situation miltarily or diplomatically.

Putin met with permanent members of Russia’s Security Council on Tuesday to discuss the latest developments in Ukraine, but no information was available on the specifics of that meeting.

Observers have said that Russian military intervention may be necessary to save Crimea, where Russian naval bases are located and many citizens are ethnically Russian.

But Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shot down such speculation Tuesday, saying that Russia had no intention of intervening in Ukraine and that other nations should steer clear of the former Soviet republic’s domestic affairs.

At a news conference in Moscow following bilateral talks with the Foreign Minister of Luxembourg, Jean Asselborn, Lavrov said it was “dangerous and counterproductive” to give Ukraine the choice of being either “with us or against us.”

Reuters

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

 

“We hope that everyone will adhere to similar logic and use contacts within various Ukrainian political forces to calm the situation, and not try to gain some opportunistic, unilateral advantages at a stage when there needs to be national dialogue,” Lavrov said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin also raised the country’s concerns on the security of its compatriots in Ukraine at his meeting with Ukraine’s Ambassador to Russia, Volodymyr Yelchenko.

The Foreign Ministry expressed its dismay at Ukrainian authorities’ decision to repeal minority language rights — an initiative that affects Ukraine’s large Russian-speaking population, as well as its smaller Romanian and Hungarian-speaking minorities — and at the prospect of Russian media being banned in the country.

Fears that Russians’ security and rights are being threatened in Ukraine have emerged in Russia’s State Duma, with many lawmakers promoting measures to assist those in Ukraine who would prefer to keep stronger ties with Russia.

As one of those measures, Liberal Democratic Party deputy Ilya Drozdov presented a bill to the State Duma on Monday about fast-tracking Russian naturalization for citizens of Ukraine.

“Ukrainian authorities have not been able to ensure security for its citizens, including its Russian population,” the explanatory note to the bill said.

At the plenary session of the Duma on Tuesday, Sergei Mironov, the leader of A Just Russia, suggested that members of Ukraine’s special forces — many of whom were villainized at home for allegedly using disproportionate violence against protesters — should be employed by Russia’s Interior Ministry.

Ukrainian lawmakers had discussed disbanding these special police units Monday.

“Yanukovych betrayed his people,” Mironov said. “The president saw from the windows of his palace how unarmed Berkut were being killed and did nothing.”

Some political groups in Russia have taken it a step further and called for a military solution.

“Russia should announce that it is ready to send peacekeeping troops to Ukraine,” said Andrei Kovalenko, leader of the Eurasian Youth Alliance, a Russian group that supports bringing back the Russian Empire. He said that economic and diplomatic tools would not be sufficient.

Others dismissed talk of sending the army to Ukraine as ludicrous.

“The biggest threat is Russia’s imperialist intellectual elite, which is so colorfully depicting crazy scenarios,” said Sergei Utkin, a foreign policy expert at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Utkin said that such scenarios were often nothing more than wishful thinking that had little to do with reality, adding that he hoped more pragmatic considerations would prevail at the Kremlin.

“Much of the talk about this [military intervention] is based not on knowledge about Russian authorities’ actual intentions but on the stereotypes of the past century, including the Brezhnev Doctrine,” he said, referring to the Soviet Union’s policy of interfering in Eastern Bloc countries’ domestic affairs.

Much of the speculation about military intervention has focused on Crimea due to the peninsula’s large Russian population and naval base.

Alexei Druzhinin / RIA Novosti / AP

Putin heads a meeting to discuss the Ukraine crisis.

 

Sergei Tsekov, chairman of the Russian Community of Crimea and a co-chairman of the Russian Unity party, said that the Kremlin had previously paid little attention to the Crimea but Russian lawmakers had begun visiting more often since the Euromaidan protests started in November 2013.

Tsekov said Russia should help the Crimea by promoting social programs and using diplomatic and legal tools to support the region. For instance, it could influence the situation in Ukraine at the UN and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and make statements protecting Crimea’s autonomy, Tsekov said.

Another way for Russia to preserve its influence in the Crimea is to establish “special economic relations” with the republic and invest in its economy despite the risks involved, Tsekov said.

He said that Crimea’s secession from Ukraine, an idea backed by some Russian nationalists, was a real possibility if Ukraine’s central government antagonized Russian-speaking citizens and provoked clashes in Crimea.

“If shooting starts in Crimea, it will not be a part of Ukraine anymore,” Tsekov said.

But Andrei Klimenko, editor-in-chief of Crimea’s Black Sea News site, said the situation on the peninsula was calm despite recent pro-Russian rallies.

“Hysteria is being created around the Crimea, but everything is calm here,” Klimenko wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

“People are not taking to the streets. The local authorities and law enforcement agencies have yielded to the new government. Yanukovych’s portraits were removed from all government offices the day before yesterday,” he said.

He said that local cossacks and self-defense units created to oppose Euromaidan supporters had vanished from the scene once a prosecutor issued them a warning, and many people had been enjoying visits to Yanukovych’s former residences in Yalta and Laspi.

Kremlin-controlled television has painted a different picture, however, claiming that Ukraine’s southeastern regions were becoming increasingly unstable and implying that Russia should interfere in some way.

Former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said Russia would inevitably interfere regardless of whether or not the situation became unstable.

A staunch opponent of the Kremlin, Saakashvili predicted that Putin would try to get control of the Crimea by using the Russian Navy to block the Isthmus of Perekop. He compared the situation in Ukraine to that in Georgia’s pro-Russian breakaway republic of South Ossetia, Espresso.tv reported Tuesday. In 2008, Russia and Georgia waged a war over South Ossetia’s status, with both sides accusing each other of being the first to attack.

On Monday, Saakashvili spoke at the Maidan Nezalezhnosti protest camp in Kiev, saying that the Euromaidan movement had defeated the Kremlin and that Putin’s “Russian Empire” would collapse as a result.

“You managed to defeat an empire that deemed itself invincible,” he said. “It is important to make sure now that Putin does not take away your victory and doesn’t squeeze your politicians into a dark room to bribe them with his billions.”