Ukrainian and Western refusal to answer Moscow’s hard questions explains Russia’s tough stance on the crisis in Kiev.
Ignoring Russian concerns is a western habit adopted after the Soviet Union’s collapse; when NATO bombed Yugoslavia; during the recognition of Kosovo as an independent state, and the US push to install an anti-missile shield over Europe that can target Russia.
It also happened recently when western diplomats flocked to Ukraine to smile and wave and lobby their interests in a future Ukrainian government, while accusing Russia of meddling in Ukrainian affairs.
But it seems that in Ukraine lies Russia’s red line and Moscow no longer takes “don’t know, don’t care” for an answer.
Here’s the questions.
1. Why did the opposition oust Yanukovich after he conceded to their demands?
On February 21st Yanukovich and the three Ukrainian parliamentary faction leaders signed a reconciliation deal co-signed by Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and Poland. A gesture that their countries would serve as agreement guarantors.
The agreement provides a de-escalation roadmap of constitutional reform, a national unity government, early presidential election and disbandment of Maidan fighter groups.
Hours after it was signed Right Sector radicals, key to the violence unleashed in Kiev which left a hundred people dead, gave Yanukovich an ultimatum – resign or face a siege of his residence.
Against Moscow’s advice, Yanukovich fled.
Vladimir Putin’s comments illuminate the Russian position here: “He [Yanukovich] had in fact given up his power already, and as I believe, as I told him, he had no chance of being re-elected.. What was the purpose of all those illegal, unconstitutional actions, why did they have to create this chaos in the country? Armed and masked militants are still roaming the streets of Kiev. This is a question to which there is no answer.”
Russia says the 21st Feb agreement must be implemented. The opposition signed it yet allows an uncontrolled militia of violent armed radicals send fear and loathing across a large swath of Ukraine.
The US says the agreement no longer matters – because Yanukovich fled. The EU signatories don’t seem to be bothered about it either.
2. Why is the coup-appointed govt replacing oligarchs linked to Yanukovich with… oligarchs?
Popular resentment of Yanukovich blossomed over corruption. Protesters pointed to power abuse, theft and allowing linked-oligarchs raid businesses of other clans. Evidence came readily after they fled – photos of their homes’ sumptuous interiors.
But the new self-appointed govt is replacing Yanukovich’s oligarchs with their own. Kiev just appointed billionaires as governors of Donetsk and Dnepropetrovsk respectively, a move that also drew Putin’s ire: “Mr Kolomoisky was appointed Governor of Dnepropetrovsk. This is a unique crook. He even managed to cheat our oligarch Roman Abramovich two or three years ago. Scammed him..’”
Both hold major assets in their respective regions and thousands depend on them for work. Both appointments are meant to stabilize a volatile society and ensure loyalty to the capital but critics say Kiev is reinventing fiefdoms to nobility in exchange for servitude. For Putin, who famously excluded oligarchs from politics, the move is an anathema.
3. Why did the post-coup Parliament strip Russian language of its regional status?
A bill repealing a law on regional languages was among dozens rubber-stamped by a chaotic Ukrainian parliament in the first post-coup days. It allowed the Ukrainian nationalist and anti-Russian Svoboda party put a feather in its cap. Yet it sent a ripple of hostility south and east from Kiev, where Russian-speakers are a large minority or even majority.
Kiev pledged to restore the status of Russian but now says the acting Ukrainian president won’t sign such a bill into law.
4. Why did Kiev attack the Constitutional court?
Several Constitutional court judges were accused of violating their oath and abruptly fired amid coup govt orders they be prosecuted. The judges branded this as an attack on the principle of separation of powers. Putin called it ‘monkey business’.
As Yanukovich was not procedurally impeached but through a simple show of hands the legality of his impeachment is open to challenges taken by several Ukrainian regions and, diplomatically, by Russia. The Ukrainian Constitutional Court is the proper authority to rule on the issue yet the new Kiev admin is mooting totally disbanding it and giving its functions to the Supreme Court.
5. Why would the West support the coup in Ukraine?
From the Russian perspective, the West fueled the fires of protest and ensured the Ukrainian government was toppled. Now it is attempting to legitimize its factious replacement. What Russia calls an unconstitutional coup the west is branding a public revolution. It is possible it is both.
Moscow does not challenge the reality. It doesn’t seek a Yanukovich return to power. It would work with the people who ousted him, as it did with the Yuschenko presidency. But Moscow demands the Kiev coup govt carries a national mandate to govern, in both east and west . Without it, any government is unsustainable.
Putin’s position is that it now maybe too late, despite his repeated warnings Ukraine would polarize. “Did our partners in the West and those who call themselves the government in Kiev now not foresee that events would take this turn? I said to them over and over: Why are you whipping the country into a frenzy like this?”
A stable Ukraine is essential for Russia for many reasons, humanitarian being just few of them. Of course Russia wants ethnic Russians in Ukraine to be safe from potential violence and persecution. But there are also more pragmatic considerations as well.
There’s the Black Sea Fleet, strong economic interdependence and there is gas. Ukraine transits Russian natural gas to Europe and is thus essential to the Russian and European economies. Yet now a desperate Kiev mulls privatizing its gas pipelines to fill its empty coffers, while Moscow’s questions remain unheard.
Rep. Mark Meadows, a Republican member of the House Oversight Committee, described a “growing crescendo” to hold disgraced IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress after she again refused to testify Wednesday morning.
The North Carolina congressman spoke with Fox News’ Alisyn Camerota about today’s contentious hearing on alleged IRS’ Tea Party targeting, which saw an angry exchange between Chairman Darrell Issa and Democratic ranking member Elijah Cummings after Lerner pled the Fifth (RELATED: Darrell Issa angrily adjourns Oversight hearing after Lois Lerner pleads the Fifth).
Meadows explained that Issa’s questions for Lerner should’ve been easy to answer. “The bottom line message is there were emails that could’ve been responded to and a truth that could’ve been told to the American people,” he said. “And yet we continue to see stonewalling and the Fifth Amendment exercise. And really all the American people want is the truth so they can once again trust their government.”
The congressman claimed it would be difficult, if not impossible, to learn the truth of the IRS’ targeting of Tea Party groups without hearing from Lerner. But immunity from prosecution is a bridge too far, at least for Meadows.
“The American people not only want to get to the bottom, but they want to hold those people accountable,” he said. “And to carte blanche give immunity is not something that they’re looking for.”
Contempt of Congress, however, is another matter. “It’s too early to tell,” he began, “but I can tell you that there is a growing crescendo that they should hold her in contempt of Congress and make sure that the American people get what they deserve.”
“She has a duty to the American people,” he said. “We’ve paid her a salary — and bonuses, I might add — for many years, and so it’s time that she confesses and allows the American people to get to the bottom of it.”
“And by confesses, you mean testify?” Camerota asked.
“Well, it’s not just the testifying,” Meadows said. “When we start to see the plethora of information that is coming out, all fingers continue to point not only to her agency, but to her and those above her — that they knew about it going back all the way to 2010.”
And the next step for the oversight committee? “I think we are going back to see what our options are,” he explained. “Like I say, there are a number of us who say she needs to be held in contempt.” But he noted that she could escape that fate if she “brings forth something that will highlight and allow the DOJ to do their work, and perhaps get to the bottom of it.”
The GOP-led House famously held Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt over the failure to release documents related to the Fast and Furious scandal in 2012.
Bloomberg group to push gun control through Facebook, which is now restricting pro-gun free speech
March 5, 2014
Through sweeping policy changes, Facebook is now treating gun-related content as pornography on its social media site, including restrictions on users under 18 from seeing firearm-related content and the forced indoctrination of gun control propaganda targeted at users interested in firearms.
Facebook’s new policies, which apply to both its namesake site and its photo-sharing subsidiary Instagram, were announced today in conjunction with the gun control group Moms Demand Action, which spent the past month pressuring Facebook to restrict free speech on firearm-related topics.
Additionally, in a huge push to brainwash the public, Facebook will also provide free ad space to Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns for gun control propaganda targeted at gun owners and other users interested in gun-related content.
The new policies include, but are not limited to, the following:
– Users under 18 will be banned from viewing Facebook pages where guns are advertised, which will likely include brick-and-mortar gun shops
– Moderators of gun-related pages will be forced to announce gun laws at the top of their page
– Users will be forced to “acknowledge” gun laws when prompted, even if the laws do not apply to them
– Facebook will delete posts that indicate a seller is willing to sell across state lines, which likely also includes legal FTF transfers between gun shops, meaning that a gun store won’t be able to announce that it is willing to legally ship a firearm to an out-of-state buyer
– Facebook will recommend that gun owners undergo background checks when purchasing firearms even if they are not legally required to do so
Moms Demand Action pushed for the new policies under the guise of preventing “illegal gun sales” despite the fact that Facebook does not actually sell firearms or provide payment transfers between third-parties.
“You cannot sell firearms on Facebook and Instagram,” Bob Owens, the editor of Bearing Arms, wrote. “There are no shopping carts and no e-commerce applications on either site for the sale of any item, of any kind.”
Owens also pointed out that both Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which are spearheaded by the anti-gun former mayor Michael Bloomberg, object to gun owners talking about firearms on social media sites.
“Some of those discussions do involved conversations on buying, selling, or trading firearms, [and] some of these conversations are used to set up physical meetings, in which actual transfers can take place, offline,” he added. “But what these prohibitionist cults desire is nothing more than the censorship of free speech.”
Not only that, but these two groups are also working with Facebook to brainwash the public into accepting gun control.