June 27, 2015
By Rostislav Ishchenko
Translated from Russian by J.Hawk
Some of the people observing the unfolding situation in Ukraine supports the protesters. Not that they actively express solidarity with them, but the information about these protests gets widespread news and blog coverage. Some believe the protests are a provocation, and that they might even be inspired by the US Embassy in order to replace Poroshenko with Tatyana Montian.
There’s room for a conspiracy theory. They help the unknown become understandable and part of a logically consistent scheme. The only problem is that the theorists are reduced to claiming that the all-powerful global force (Masons, Rockefellers, liberals, etc.) are spending massive amounts of money and exerting unbelievable efforts in order to, as part of their plan to rule the world they control, they are attempting to destroy that which they have just created.
Therefore, in order to avoid spreading nonsense, I would like to separate the unknowables from knowables, and to draw conclusions solely on the basis of the latter and not the former. So what do we have?
1. Somebody is organizing small but noticeable Kiev demonstrations against the government.
2. The organizers lack effective speakers, so that even sympathetic media can’t report anything other than the general picture.
3. The authorities don’t like the demonstrations, but aren’t over-reacting. At first, the demonstrations took place without any interference. Later the police scattered them. Then they started to interdict them. Then we’ve seen the first arrests, but so far no abuse of prisoners. Given that we have seen cases of regime opponents die in mysterious circumstances (some died from torture after arrests, others simply vanished–official statistics suggest 22 thousand missing persons in the last 18 months–yet others were imprisoned), the government is acting with restraint.
In principle that’s all we know for a fact. Now let’s ask ourselves the question whether such actions may be organized by the US or at their behest in order to promote a new force in Kiev. I rule out that possibility. First of all, no Kiev moderates are getting PR off these demonstrations. And these are people who are happy to show up at someone else’s demonstration to get some public exposure. Therefore they either know or at least suspect these actions are not merely foreign to them, but are actually organized by hostile forces. Secondly, the experience of the two Maidans and the inter-Maidan period indicates that when it comes to organizing mass demonstrations and ensuring best possible media exposure, the eurointegrators have nothing left to learn. They could have turned out 500 people, and the journalists would have claimed it was 10 thousand.
Might the opposition block be responsible for them? Theoretically, yes. The level of organization suggests former Party of Regions officials. The Kiev government, which didn’t know what to do with the protesters but at the same time was not afraid of them, leads us to assume that both the SBU and the MVD knew it’s not the militia, not pro-Moscow radicals, and that there’s no revolution in the offing. It’s just an information preparation for something.
Nevertheless, I don’t think it’s the Opposition Block, but their former Party of Regions colleagues who emigrated or went underground and haven’t made themselves heard for a long time.
First of all, as I already said, it’s typically Regions level of organization. No speaker, no clearly defined leader, just some people with various demands which change from event to event, or who simply walk around the city with slogans (or don’t walk, if they are blocked).
Secondly, we can see which media is reporting on them. Those aren’t the media who are under Opposition Block control. It’s not the media which unconditionally support the Kiev government. It’s not Russian state or militia media. For the most part it’s the media assets which are still under the control, direct or otherwise, of Regions leaders who emigrated. Therefore it’s only natural that the heaviest repressive measure against the protesters was the cancellation of TV Channel 112 license. It’s fine if the information about the protests is spread through blogs and internet–then the government can simply ignore the protests. Therefore by cutting off TV coverage, Kiev greatly reduces the effect of the protests, much more successfully than it it shot them down with automatic weapons.
Thirdly, the Kiev stirrings coincided with the Regions emigres bold attempts to reactivate their political careers in Moscow. These attempts, in turn began in early summer when rumors spread that the Kiev government might be finished off by military means, irrespective of what the US and EU wants. Since the growth of tensions both on the Donbass and in the Moscow-Washington relationship was becoming evident, the rumor may have seemed plausible. Because not only the Regionals, but also Russian radical patriots became more active and started to remind of their unswerving role in achieving victory.
Therefore the Kiev marches strikingly resemble an attempt to advertise the potential to organize resistance on territories occupied by the Nazis. The choice of Kiev also points at the Regions as the organizing force. They might as well not show their face on the Donbass. There are long established underground organizations in Kharkov, Odessa, and Zaporozhye which simply would not allow others to intrude in their space, especially when such intrusions provoke the authorities to raise the level of vigilance and repressive measures. Moreover, the authorities don’t like additional ferment in Novorossia. Western Ukraine is not pining for the former Regionals. But the capital retains a high level of dissatisfaction with the coup. But nobody ever organized these people (apart from the Regionals themselves) and they might be attracted to anyone. If the activists don’t show up, there’s experience since the Yanukovych era of swelling the numbers of participants simply by hiring them. And, finally, Kiev is where there still exist offices, media, and other assets still under emigre Regional control, which means the city represents an operating base.
The last question that we have to answer is this: is it good or bad that such demonstrations are being organized in Kiev. From the point of view of the objectives which their organizers are pursuing, the answer is no. If I am correct in thinking that the meetings are organized by emigre Regionals who want to remind Moscow of their existence as potential future rulers of liberated Ukraine, they are missing their target. Kremlin knows very well who has what capabilities and who will be followed by the masses, as opposed to who is better not shown to the public at all.
From the point of view of the demonstrators, while the danger of violent repression is still low, it will increase.
From the point of view of struggle against the Nazi Kiev regime, these measures should not be considered useless. What is more, the fact they don’t pose a direct threat to the regime makes them a rather effective means of struggle (not the main, but one of many).
What assets do we have at our disposal?
1. The people are demonstrating with economic and pacifist demands. That approach is shared by the majority of Ukrainian citizens.
2. After Kiev voiced enthusiastic support for the Yerevan protests, it’s now more difficult similar protests in Kiev are a “Kremlin 5th Column”.
3. The relatively low size of the demonstrations and their peaceful nature (plus their economic demands) make their suppression a losing proposition from the PR point of view. The junta has strong internal divisions and, just as the fuel facility fire was used to settle scores between Poroshenko and Nalivaychenko, a “barbaric suppression” of protesters would likewise receive appropriate media treatment.
4. If the demonstrations are not suppressed they will sooner or later be joined by other dissatisfied parties (the situation is that bad), spinning out of the organizers’ control and losing their peaceful character, by which point the junta would be hard-pressed to contain them even by flooding Kiev with blood.
These protests are gradually rocking the Kiev junta’s boat by placing it in a situation where, like Yanukovych in his time, it is forced to undertake harsh measures and attract accusations of barbarism from their own base of support, or to sit and wait until the people see that it is safe to come out and then come out in their tens of thousands, by which point it will be too late to do anything.
Considering the nature of regime’s reactions in recent months, I think that a violent suppression (in order to discourage others) will occur relatively shortly. After all, in contrast with Yanukovych, the regime leaders have nothing to lose (they remain alive only by staying in power) therefore they will not be overly choosy when it comes to suppressing these demonstrations.