President Petro Poroshenko and other top officials have desperately tried to delay and emasculate electronic property and asset declarations for officials since the law on them was adopted in October 2014.

The latest sabotage attempt came earlier this month, when a state agency controlled by Poroshenko and Oleksandr Tuchynov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, refused to certify the declaration system. Another state agency, also controlled by Poroshenko and Turchynov, launched the uncertified system, making sure that officials stay unpunished.

The Yevropeiska Pravda newspaper on Aug. 15 published an editorial urging the West not to cancel visas and not to disburse aid until the authorities properly launch the declarations. A troll army soon embarked on a witch hunt against the newspaper. We stand with Yevropeiska Pravda, which has proven to be right. On Aug. 17, Poroshenko bowed to Western pressure and ordered his subordinates to certify and properly launch the declaration system by Sept. 1.

Yet there is no guarantee that Poroshenko and Turchynov will not derail the launch again. They are afraid that the declarations will expose their corrupt cronies.

Poroshenko and Interior Minister Arsen Avakov have also deceived the West by blocking prosecutorial and police reform.

Poroshenko’s loyal Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko has proved to be a disaster and is perpetuating corrupt schemes. He failed to fire controversial protégés of the president’s grey cardinals, Ihor Kononenko and Oleksandr Hranovsky, even after evidence emerged that the protégés tortured employees of the anti-graft bureau.

Kononenko and Hranovsky are boosting their clout and taking over the court system under the guise of judicial reform.

The president has also failed to fire State Fiscal Service head Roman Nasirov, whom critics — including subordinates — see as a symbol of Ukrainian corruption.

The West should not believe in Poroshenko’s empty promises. Rather than punish multibillion-dollar corruption and those responsible, the Poroshenko administration is still trying to fool the West into thinking he’s a reformer. Rather than dismantle crony capitalism, he is reinforcing it by ensuring that no strong law enforcement agencies emerge to compete with existing corrupt ones.

The West, fortunately, looks to have caught on. The International Monetary Fund rightly refuses to keep lending to undeserved recipients.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: It’s Poroshenko’s refusal to tackle corruption that is weakening the state, not the attempts by journalists, civil society activists and others to expose this corruption.

Two years too late, Lutsenko releases audio of Russian plan that Ukrainians already suspected

On Aug. 22, Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko presented what he says is proof of Russian participation in organization of Crimea annexation and the pro-Russian civil unrest in Donbas, Kharkiv and Odesa in spring 2014.

However, the evidence that potentially could have led to an international scandal remains largely unnoticed by the Western media and politician because of the questionable timing and manner in which Lutsenko presented it.

Prosecutors published an audio of phone conversations of the Russian President Vladimir Putin adviser Sergei Glazyev giving the orders to Kremlin-backed Crimean leader Sergei Aksyonov on how to conduct the sham independence referendum in March 2014. Glazyev also advises Russian protest leaders on how to act during the violent protests and seizures of the administrative buildings in Odesa and Kharkiv. Glazyev also discussed payments to the protest leaders with Konstantin Zatulin, the Russian Duma lawmaker.

Ukrainian prosecutors declared 18 political and army officials of Russia as suspects in committing grave crimes against national security and the territorial integrity of Ukraine, said Lutsenko.

“Among the suspects there are the adviser (Sergei Glazyev) of Russian president, Russian Defense Minister (Sergei Shoigu) with his two deputies and 10 Russian Army generals,” said Lutsenko.

All the Russians,mentioned by Lutsenko denied the accusations.

“I won’t comment the delirium of the Nazi criminals,” said Sergei Glazyev to Russian RBC news agency.

The published tape that proves the actual participation of Russian officials in warmongering in Ukraine, actually an international scandal, surprisingly didn’t get any major reaction of Ukraine’s international partners from Europe and U.S, possibly due to the lack of independent verification of the source.

A major problem of the Lutsenko-provided tapes, according to Andreas Umland, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation in Kyiv, is that they have been carefully cut and framed by the prosecutor while the original tapes remain unpublished.

Force them to ask Russia for help!

The audio consists of phone conversations dated Feb. 27, Feb. 28, March 1 and March 6, 2014 – the days, when the pro-Russian protests and violent seizures of administrative buildings had started in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

The participants of the conversations were Glazyev, Zatulin, Aksyonov, as well as the protest leaders from Kharkiv, Zaporizhia and Odesa identified only by their first names.

According the the tapes, on March 6, 2014, 10 days before the so-called independence referendum in Crimea, Glazyev called to Sergei Aksyonov and gave him an advice on how to properly conduct the referendum.

“The questions on referendum ballot are formed inefficiently. Many people just wouldn’t vote for words “to remain the part of Ukraine,” said Glazyev to Aksyonov.

Aksyonov responded that nobody on the peninsula expected that some Crimeans would vote to remain in Ukraine.

During the phone chat on Feb 28, 2014 while self-proclaimed new Crimean authorities declared the post-EuroMaidan Revolution Ukrainian government illegitimate and asked Russia to send Russian troops in Crimea, and the pro-Russian protests continued in Donbas, Glazyev and Zatulin discussed financial issues.

“We financed Odesa and Kharkiv but didn’t decide yet how to be with other regions. I paid the money to the Cossacks (Russian). Ten people promised them to pay, but nobody did except me. Now I am on my own against these people and their appetites are growing,” said Zatulin to Glazyev.

Zatulin complained that he paid average Hr 2,000- Hr 3,000 (then $200-$300) to the pro-Russian protest leaders, but they were not satisfied. Glazyev asked him to develop the budget and send it to him.

On March 1, 2014, when the so-called Russian Spring (violent pro-Russian protests and clashes) started in Donetsk, Luhansk, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv and Odesa oblasts, Glazyev discussed his further invasion plans with the man, identified by the name Anatoliy.

“Why Zaporozhye (Zaporizhzhya) is so silent? Where are they? There was supposed to be 1,500 men? You need to force the locals to stand up and demand Russia to protect them from banderovtsy,” said Glazyev.

Putin’s advisor explained to Anatoliy that Ukrainians must “knock banderovtsy out the local councils”, take the control over local police and create the new pro-Russian authority.

“I have the direct order from above to get people to rebel everywhere we can. Because we use the force only to support the locals’ protests. If there are no locals, there will be no support,” said Glazyev.

On March 1 Glazyev also spoke to the leaders of the street protest in Odesa, explaining them that they should keep people on the square and seized the Odesa Oblast council as soon as possible.

“The local council members must take the responsibility, gather for session and vote to declare Kyiv government illegitimate and ask Russia for help. If some lawmaker doesn’t want to vote, drag him to the council and force to vote,” said Glazyev to some activist, identified only by the name Denis.

Hapless spin doctors

When asked to respond to the prosecutors’ accusations, Zatulin said to RBC news agency, that he indeed was in Crimea in Feb. 2014 but he was helping the local activists to create and organization “We all are Berkut” ( the name of the special police squads, who killed activists during EuroMaidan), that was supposed to help “the victims of Kyiv authorities”.

Zatulin alleged that U.S intelligence helped Ukrainian prosecutors to get the recordings as a gratitude for Ukrainians helped them to prove Paul Manafort’s connections with the ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.

The footage, published by prosecutors consists of the audio conversations mixed with footage of what was happening in the same time in Ukraine. Some frames, such as the scene of the dozen pro-Russian activists, arrested by Ukrainian law enforcers, lying on the ground near the Kharkiv city council, are juxtaposed with Glazyev’s words about the success in Kharkiv, looked complimentary for Ukraine’s authorities.

Such footage is not what journalists are looking for, said Umland.

“Serious investigators want original documents or tapes, and not some prepared documentary. Western reporters do not like being the extended arm of the Ukrainian Prosecutors’ or Kyiv government,” added Umland.

Although all the voices on the tape are pretty recognizable, the expert said there is a lot of suspicion that these tapes were tampered with.

Western journalists’ cautiousness is a direct result of the prosecutor’s office attempt to engage in information war, rather than transparent communication.

“Ukrainians cannot expect Western journalists to blindly pick up whatever Ukraine’s leadership likes to feed into the international news cycle. As so often during the last 25 years, Ukrainian dilettantism defeats Ukrainian patriotism,” said Umland.

In turn, Sergii Leshchenko, Bloc of Petro Poroshenko lawmaker and a former investigative journalist explained the lack of reaction from the foreign media and politicians by saying that the direct involvement of Russia in Crimea annexation and the pro-Russian civil unrest in Donbas is not news for the world anymore.

Taras Berezovets, a political analyst is less skeptical about the recordings, presented by Lutsenko.

“The goal of Ukrainian prosecutors was not to create the international scandal, but to create the juridical ground that will help to put Russian authorities to justice someday. I don’t believe that will happen sooner that in 15 years,” he said.

From –

Novaya Gazeta’s ‘Kremlin Papers’ article: Full text in English

Novaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper part-owned by Kremlin critic Alexander Lebedev, on February 24 published an article on an alleged Kremlin policy paper it said had come into its possession. The policy paper, which the Novaya Gazeta said was written and circulating within the Kremlin for perhaps more than two weeks before the ouster of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, details a response plan for Russia in the event of Yanukovych’s fall. As Novya Gazeta points out, the plan outlined bears a striking resemblance to the actions undertaken by Russia after Yanukovych left power. Moreover, if genuine, the paper gives insight into the shortcomings of Russian intelligence about the Maidan in Ukraine and the Kremlin’s lack of understanding of Ukrainian national feeling in eastern parts of the country, as well as the strength of influence of Ukrainian oligarchs on political events. The tone throughout is also one of strained, imperialistic paranoia, which is again striking in its similarity to the attitudes expressed by the Kremlin and in Russian society at large since the events of the Maidan, and which may lend credence to its authenticity. This translation from Russian was done by UNIAN staff. Editing comments are enclosed in square brackets.

“It is considered appropriate to initiate the accession of Ukraine’s eastern regions to Russia”

“Novaya Gazeta” is publishing Russia’s plan for the annexation of a number of territories of Ukraine, which were drawn up when Yanukovych was still president of this country.

The document that has come into the possession of Novaya was presumably “brought in” to the Presidential Administration in the period between February 4 and February 12, 2014.

According to the available evidence and the assessments of experts to whom we have submitted this analytical report for analysis, Konstantin Malofeev, an “Orthodox businessman” could presumably have participated in drafting it (see memo [on Malofeev] at the end of the editor’s comments).

However, the businessman’s press service denied this claim point-blank after a teaser to this article was aired on the Echo of Moscow radio station, and said that Mr. Malofeev intended to sue. The document we are publishing is interesting due to the fact that at the early stages of the Ukrainian political crisis – that is, before Yanukovych fled from Kyiv and the “Bandera Junta” came to power – [it appears] a rationale, as well as the political and PR logistics of Russia’s interference in Ukrainian affairs and the annexation of Crimea and Ukraine’s eastern regions had [already] been planned in detail, step by step. Although the actual scenario of Ukrainian drama has changed things a bit, this draft plan is still closely in line with the subsequent actions by Russia’s government, which is striking.

The text is being published with small redactions. The original spelling and punctuation have mostly been retained.


1. The assessment of the political situation in Ukraine should be primarily based on recognizing the bankruptcy of [Ukraine’s] President Viktor Yanukovych and his ruling “family”, which is rapidly losing control of the political process;

secondly, the paralysis of the central government and lack of a distinctive political body which the Russian Federation could negotiate with;

thirdly, the low probability of such an acceptable body emerging after the snap parliamentary and presidential elections announced by Viktor Yanukovych on February, 4.

If the Russian oligarchy is balanced by a powerful class of government officials, the Ukrainian state machinery is obviously weaker than the oligopolies; it is controlled by the oligarchs, just like public policy. It is the oligarchs (R. Akhmetov, D. Firtash, I. Kolomoisky and others) who reign over Kyiv’s political community, including the Verkhovna Rada and the systemic opposition. The non-systemic opposition (the so-called Maidan) remains beyond the control of the leaders of the systemic opposition, as the “warlords” (mostly, football fans and people from the world of organized crime) set the tone there, while not having electoral influence, and apparently, controlled not so much by the oligarchic groups, but largely by the Polish and British intelligence services. At the same time, many oligarchic groups are funding Maidan, so as “not to put all one’s eggs in one basket.”

President V. Yanukovych is a man of low morals and willpower – he is afraid to give up the presidency and yet at the same time he is ready to “give up” on the security forces in exchange for a guarantee of him remaining president and having immunity after leaving office. Meanwhile, parts of the Berkut [special task forces of Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs], which are used to quell the unrest in Kyiv, mostly consist of natives of Crimea and of the eastern regions. According to local observers, any attempt of Yanukovych’s successor to organize repression against the Ministry of Internal Affairs or the Security Service of Ukraine as punishment for the suppression of the Maidan will inevitably face harsh, forceful response. The position of Ukraine’s army is even more ambiguous. According to an employee of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, the army is “locked in barracks while the officers guard the weapons depots so that, God forbid, they do not fall into the hands of contract soldiers, who in this case would start shooting at each other.”

Snap parliamentary and presidential elections could become the trigger for a new round of protest- and assault-like civil war, the deepening of the “east-west” electoral division and ultimately accelerate Ukraine’s disintegration.

The course and the outcome of the Munich Conference (a regular conference on security issues which was held in Munich on January, 31 – February, 1 2014) provide a reasonable basis to believe that the European Union and the United States allow for the country’s disintegration, and not even consider such developments extraordinary. The concept of “piecemeal” absorption of a large Eastern European country by the EU is not only publicly voiced by a number of official EU speakers, but also finds supporters in the ranks of the Ukrainian elite.

(Highlighted by editors hereinafter).

Will Russia take part in this geopolitical intrigue?

2. Russia’s policy toward Ukraine must finally become pragmatic. First, the regime of Viktor Yanukovych has gone totally bankrupt. Its political, diplomatic, financial, and information support from the Russian Federation is no longer meaningful.

Second, as a sporadic civil war in the form of urban guerrilla of the so-called “supporters of the Maidan” against the leadership of a number of the country’s eastern regions has become a fact, while the disintegration of the Ukrainian state along the line of geographical demarcation of regional alliances – “western regions plus Kyiv” and “eastern regions plus Crimea” – has become part of the political agenda, [and] in these circumstances, Russia should in no way limit its policy toward Ukraine only to attempts to influence the political situation in Kyiv and the relationship of a systemic opposition (A. Yatsenyuk, V. Klitschko, O. Tyagnybok, P . Poroshenko, etc.) with the European Commission.

Third, in an almost complete paralysis of the central government, unable to form a responsible government even facing threats of default and of Naftogaz lacking funds to pay for Russian gas, Russia is simply obliged to get involved in the geopolitical intrigue of the European Community directed against the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

First of all, this is because otherwise our country risks losing not only the Ukrainian energy market, but also indirect control over Ukraine’s gas transportation system, which is much more dangerous. This will endanger the position of Gazprom in Central and Southern Europe, causing huge damage to our country’s economy.

3. The Constitution of Ukraine is in no case able to provide for a mechanism that could legitimately initiate the integration of Ukraine’s eastern territories and Crimea into the state-legal framework of the Russian Federation.

As stated in Article 71 of the Ukrainian Constitution, the issue of changing the country’s territory is decided exclusively in a nationwide referendum. Meanwhile, in accordance with the Article 72 of the Constitution, a referendum is called by popular initiative at the request of at least three million Ukrainian citizens eligible to vote, provided that the signatures are collected in no less than two-thirds of Ukraine’s regions, with no less than one hundred thousand signatures in each region.

However, a paradoxical as it sounds, a framework for the Russian-Ukrainian integration process has already been set up – the system of Russian-Ukrainian Euroregions, members of the Association of European Border Regions (which, in turn, is a member of the Assembly of European Regions). For example, the Donbass Euroregion includes the Donetsk, Luhansk, Rostov and Voronezh regions, the Slobozhanshchina Euroregion includes the Kharkiv and Belgorod regions, the Dnepr Euroregion includes the Bryansk and Chernihiv regions, and so on.

Using the legal instruments of the Euroregions, legitimate from the EU’s perspective, Russia should press for signing agreements on cross-border and trans-border cooperation, and then establish direct public-contractual relations with those Ukrainian territories where a pro-Russia electoral mood is prevalent. First of all, [this is] with the Republic of Crimea, and Kharkiv, Luhansk, Zaporizhia, Mykolaiv, Dnipropetrovsk and to a lesser extent Kherson and Odesa regions. (Sumy region and the Donetsk region are deliberately – and rather arbitrary – removed from this list. The first – due to the very high electoral influence of the Batkivschina party, the second – due to close business and political ties between the local business elite, led by R. Akhmetov, with a number of representatives of the opposition oligarchic alliance with its extensive interests here.)

Local elites are motivated more than ever before to move toward Russia’s new integration initiatives. Before the crisis, the elites of the Eastern Ukraine preferred “weak Kyiv” over “strong Moscow”, but now, facing a threat of losing “everything”, they are not going to wait meekly for the massive raids (including those based on compromising materials of a commercial nature gathered in the center [Kyiv]), which will inevitably be executed by the central government no matter what political forces are part of the “new consensus in Kyiv” after Yanukovych leaves office as Ukraine’s president. In these circumstances, they are ready to sacrifice their “independence.”

Current events in Kyiv convincingly show that the Yanukovych’s time in power could end at any moment. Thus, there is less and less time for an appropriate Russian response. The number of dead in riots in the capital of Ukraine is direct evidence of the inevitability of civil war and the impossibility of reaching consensus if Yanukovych remains president. In these circumstances, it seems appropriate to play along the centrifugal aspirations of the various regions of the country, with a view to initiate the accession of its eastern regions to Russia, in one form or another. Crimea and Kharkiv region should become the dominant regions for making such efforts, as there already exist reasonably large groups there that support the idea of maximum integration with Russia.

4. Of course, taking the burden of supporting Crimea and several eastern territories, Russia will be forced to take on budget expenses, which would be cumbersome in the country’s present position.

Undoubtedly, this will affect macroeconomic stability and the prospects for [Russia’s] economic growth. However, geopolitically, the prize will be invaluable: our country will gain access to new demographic resources, [and] highly qualified industry and transport personnel will be at its disposal. In addition, it can count on the emergence of new eastward Slavic migration flows – as opposed to the Central Asian migration trends. The industrial potential of the Eastern Ukraine, including the military-industrial sector, once included in the Russian military-industrial complex, will allow for the faster and more successful implementation of the program of rearmament of Russia’s military forces.

What is equally important, Russia’s constructive, “smoothing” participation in the highly probable disintegration of the Ukrainian state will not only give new impetus to the Kremlin’s integration project, but will also allow our country to retain control over Ukraine’s gas transportation system, as mentioned above. And at the same time, it will allow there to be significant changes in the geopolitical situation in Central and Eastern Europe, allowing Russia to regain its major role there.

5. To start the process of a “pro-Russian drift” of Crimea and eastern Ukrainian territories, [certain] events should be created beforehand that can support this process with political legitimacy and moral justification; also a PR-strategy should be built that draws attention to the forced, reactive nature of the actions of Russia and the pro-Russian political elites of southern and eastern Ukraine.

Recent developments in Western Ukraine (the Lviv, Volyn, Ivano-Frankivsk regions), where the opposition declared its independence from the authorities in Kyiv, also give grounds for the eastern regions to declare their sovereignty, with their subsequent re-orientation toward the Russian Federation.

6. Response actions in Eastern Ukrainian regions should have a two-part structure and a two-part scenario:

Protesters should demand that the Verkhovna Rada expand the format of the constitutional reform discussed by the Ukrainian parliament, including the simplification of the procedure for organizing a nationwide referendum:

“We can’t be held hostage to the Maidan. Ukraine’s unitary state system, which allows a violent nationalist minority of the population to impose its choice throughout the country, should be reconsidered. Russia is a federal state, and such a thing is unthinkable there. Strengthening the state-legal ties with Russia, we will strengthen the integrity of the Ukrainian state.”

Initially, the protesters should articulate their unwillingness to be “hostages of the Maidan,” of its attempts to usurp the right of other regions and the majority of the country’s population to its own civilizational and political choice; and the rejection of the “ideology of the civil war and splitting the country,” which is professed by political representatives of Western Ukrainian elites.

Speaking under Russian flags, protesters should not insist on changing the constitutional order. They should impute strong condemnation of “Western separatists, jeopardizing the country’s territorial integrity at the will of their foreign masters,” as well as the demands for the swift development of “associative relations between the eastern regions of Ukraine and the Russian Federation”: “We are with Russia. No to civil war.”

Fair reluctance “to support with taxes the pro-fascist forces” from Western Ukraine and a government dependent on them, and guided by the requirements of the European Union rather than the needs of its citizens – these should become slogans for the moment.

It is advisable to consistently voice these three slogans, which stem from one another:

– A demand for “federalization” (or confederation) as a guarantee for these regions against the pro-Western and nationalist forces interfering in their internal affairs;

– The eastern and south-eastern areas joining the Customs Union at the regional level independently from Kyiv, which will provide for the necessary conditions for their industry’s normal operation and development;

– Direct sovereignty, followed by accession to Russia – the only guarantor of sustainable economic development and social stability.

We think that political movement for a pro-Russian choice and associative relations between the eastern and southern Ukrainian territories and the Russian Federation needs to be insitutionalized and legally registered. To do this, the grounds to hold referendums in Crimea and in the Kharkiv region (and then in other regions) should be created, so as to decide on the issue of self-determination and further possibility of joining the Russian Federation.

It is important to organize informal meetings of the leaders or representatives of the eastern regions of Ukraine in Moscow, where they would be supported and given political guarantees (at least, verbal) by an official with sufficient powers. Such representatives of eastern Ukrainian elite are, for example, N. Dobkin (Mayor of Kharkiv), V. Konstantinov (Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Crimea), S. Aksyonov (chairman of the Russian Unity party) …

It is of extreme importance for the “world community” to have little to no reason to doubt the legitimacy and fairness of these referendums.

To do this, it seems appropriate to ensure the referendum process with modern means of verification (webcams and online coverage). A preliminary plan of such operations has already been developed and can be implemented within two weeks.

7. It is necessary to accompany these events with a PR-campaign in the Russian and Ukrainian media.

This includes developing and giving out to the media concept documents, a kind of manifesto of the eastern Ukrainian and western Ukrainian separatism. The general public in Russia should speak up in support of the accession of the eastern regions of Ukraine to Russia (a possible slogan “Putin 2.0 – we want a Treaty of Pereyaslav 2.0”).


From the Euroregions to annexation. Editor’s comment of Novaya Gazeta

This policy paper has some specific features.

1. As we have already mentioned, it was created before Yanukovych fled [Kyiv] and a provisional government consisting of the “systemic opposition” came to power. That is, even before the moment described by Moscow as a “coup d’etat” – which was the main justification for its subsequent actions.

2. The report has a pejorative assessment of Yanukovych, who later and for a long time was portrayed by Russia as a victim of the coup and Ukraine’s only legitimate leader.

3. The report is drafted in a pragmatic, almost cynical style. It has no “spiritual-historical” justification for Russian interference in Ukraine. No arguments about Novorossiya, the protection of the Russian-speaking population, the ‘Russian World’ and the upcoming ‘Russian Spring. There is only geopolitics and cold expediency.

4. The authors of the document are concerned with “legitimizing” the inclusion of Ukrainian territories into a Russian “state-legal framework”. In particular, they believe that there is a legal basis for the first step –mixed Russian-Ukrainian Euroregions (e.g., the “Donbas” Euroregion including Donetsk, Luhansk, Rostov and Voronezh regions), which are part of the Association of European Border Regions. The authors believe that using this legal instrument, it is possible to draw Ukrainian regions with “stable pro-Russian sympathies” into direct public-contractual relationships. And then there would be “legitimate” referendums on self-determination.

5. The report provides for some gross distortion of reality aimed to show the “reactive,” forced nature of Russia’s actions (the Maidan leaders are recruited football fans and criminals, they are controlled by Polish and British intelligence, the United States and the European Union allow for the disintegration of Ukraine, the EU started a geopolitical intrigue to split Ukraine, and the like). All these arguments were later actively used by Russian propaganda.

6. The report also has many arguments of a geopolitical and economic nature that were aimed to convince the leadership of the need for immediate intervention in Ukraine and thus a strengthening of Russia’s position not only in Ukraine, but also in Central and Eastern Europe, retaining control over the gas transportation network, passing through Ukraine, getting control of Ukraine’s military-industrial complex, located in the east of the country (for faster rearmament), and even replacing the “Central Asian” migrant flow with a “Slavic” or “Western” one

In general, it can be seen that the authors’ recommendations for Russia’s phased interference in Ukrainian affairs, with the ultimate aim of capturing a number of Ukrainian territories were mostly realized in Moscow’s actual actions:

– The organization of protests against the Kyiv regime in the regions with a pro-Russian bent;

– “Politically legitimizing” and “morally justifying” this process;

– The protesters’ demands for the simplification of carrying out Ukrainian referendums;

– Following demands for “federalization” or even a “confederation”;

– The demands for Crimea and the south-eastern regions to join the Customs Union independently from Kyiv;

– Carrying out “legitimate” and “honest” referendums on self-determination and unification with Russia;

– Active PR-support of these processes in the Russian and Ukrainian media.

The document’s authors made a significant error in determining the territories most ready to unite with the Russian regions: they name Crimea and Kharkiv region, considering Donetsk region, “Akhmetov’s empire”, less promising. Reality has altered these calculations. But in general, the scheme was implemented.

Andrei Lipsky,
Political Editor
Novaya Gazeta
Brief memo by Novaya Gazeta

Billionaire Konstantin Malofeev is a founder and “managing partner” of the Marshall Capital Partners investment fund, the largest minority shareholder of Rostelecom (about 10% of the shares), a member of the board of trustees of the Safe Internet League (he is believed to be the initiator of blacklisting Web sites), and chairman of the St. Basil the Great Charitable Foundation. Also, this man is known for his active support of the separatists in Crimea and eastern Ukraine – with the ideas, money and human resources (in particular, both Girkin (aka Strelkov) and Boroday used to work for his companies). In fact, Malofeev has served the Kremlin greatly: his PR-managers and “historic re-enactors” have hyped the conflict in Crimea and the Donbas, passing the baton to the volunteers-mercenaries and so-called “troops on leave,” allowing Russia to avoid been branded a “conflict party,” at least formally.

But Malofeev is known not only for that. He was involved in a series of high profile scandals that have become the subject of the judiciary investigations. Here are the most prominent ones. In late 2012 – early 2013, Russian police raided the house of Konstantin Malofeev and the offices of Marshall Capital in connection with a criminal case opened by the Investigation Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs under Art. 159 p. 4 (Fraud) into the theft of more than $200 million from VTB bank. VTB accused Malofeev of not returning a credit provided to Russagroprom for the purchase of Nutritec in 2007 (Marshall was its largest shareholder at the time). Prior to that, in 2009, VTB Capital plc filed a lawsuit in London against Malofeev as a former co-owner of Nutritec, believing that it was the victim of fraud. In August 2011, the High Court in London decided to freeze Malofeev’s assets. Later, the parties entered into a settlement agreement. As a result, the VTB’s request to the Ministry of Internal Affairs [to open a criminal case] was withdrawn.

Right before the raids, Malofeev was ejected from the elections of deputies of the village council in Znamenka, in Smolensk region, by the Vyazemsk district court. Through these elections, he was planning to become a senator, but the court ruled that he had bribed voters.


The original version of this article, in Russian HERE

How To Manufacture A War

Before the guns of April, came the protests of February and March.

Before the armed conflict, came the unarmed uprisings.

Before there was a war in the Donbas, there was the so-called Russian Spring.

There has long been scant doubt about the Kremlin’s deep involvement in — and instigation of — the war in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts that began in April 2014.

But the mass antigovernment demonstrations that erupted in Russophone cities in eastern and southern Ukraine in the months prior — dubbed the Russian Spring by the pro-Kremlin media — were always much more ambiguous.

In the hypercharged and chaotic environment after pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted by the Euromaidan uprising in Kyiv, it was entirely plausible that the Russian Spring was an organic local grassroots phenomenon that the Kremlin merely exploited and piggybacked on.

But that seems a lot less plausible now.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office this week released what it says are recordings of intercepted telephone conversations between Kremlin aide Sergei Glazyev and proxies in Ukraine, in which he gives them specific instructions about instigating unrest in Donetsk, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhya, and Odesa as early as February 2014 — before Russia had even annexed Crimea.

The intercepts suggest not only that the Russian Spring was instigated, organized, and financed by Moscow, but also that the Kremlin planned to annex large swaths of eastern Ukraine if the uprisings proved successful.

But in order to do this, they needed a “massive local insurgency, Anton Shekhovtsov of the Vienna-based Institute of Human Studies noted.

It didn’t matter “whether those locals would be ideologically mobilized or bought, Moscow needed them to present a picture of a native uprising and justify the military invasion “in defence of the people,” Shekhovtsov wrote on Facebook.

As it turned out, Russia only managed to stir up sufficient unrest to intervene militarily in Donetsk and Luhansk. They failed in Kharkiv, Odesa, Zaporizhzhya, and elsewhere.

But it apparently wasn’t for a lack of trying.

In one intercept, dated February 28, 2014, Glazyev discussed financing uprisings in Kharkiv and Odesa with Konstantin Zatulin, a former State Duma deputy and now an official in Russian-annexed Crimea.

In another, dated March 1, he berates a man identified only as Anatoly Petrovich, about the lack of crowds on the streets of Zaporizhzhya and instructing him to organize people to take over the Oblast Council building.

“Why is Zaporizhzhya silent?” Glazyev said, adding that he has “direct orders from the top to get people on the streets in Ukraine.”

Glazyev stressed that there could only be Russian armed support if the antigovernment protests were sufficiently large and there was the impression of local support. “If there’s no people, what kind of help can there be?” he says, adding that if enough people get on the streets Russia can intervene, as in Crimea.

Glazyev also instructed a man from Odesa, identified as Denis, that demonstrators must take over the Oblast Council, declare the authorities in Kyiv illegitimate, and make an appeal to Putin for help. He also appeared to suggest that Russia was prepared to intervene militarily.

Both Glazyev and Zatulin have denied the authenticity of the recordings. But they are consistent with a Kremlin strategy memo that was leaked last year to the liberal newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

The memo was reportedly drafted under the supervision of Kremlin-connected oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev and discussed by top officials in February 2014 — at the height of the Euromaidan uprising and before Yanukovych was toppled.

The document advocated the incorporation of Crimea and large parts of eastern Ukraine, particularly Kharkiv Oblast, into Russia.

“Russia’s participation in the highly likely disintegration of the Ukrainian state will not only give new impetus to the Kremlin’s integration projects but will also enable our country to preserve, as mentioned earlier, control over the gas-transport system of Ukraine,” according to the document.

“At the same time, it will fundamentally change the geopolitical layout of central and eastern Europe, returning to Russia one of its main roles.”

On one hand, this all just reinforces what many have suspected from the start.

But nevertheless, taken together, the Malofeyev strategy memo and the Glazyev telephone intercepts have gone a long way toward filling in the blanks in the historical record about the origins of the war in the Donbas.

“They imply that not only the so-called ‘civil war’ in Ukraine was triggered by Russia,” writes Andreas Umland of the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Сooperation in Kyiv.

“The social conflict that preceded the use of guns had also already been secretly orchestrated, guided and financed from Moscow.”

From –

Behind The Scenes In Ukraine, Ties To Putin Help Power Broker Pull Strings

KYIV — More than a decade ago, Viktor Medvedchuk became known as the “Gray Cardinal” because his low profile masked unparalleled clout in the halls of power in Ukraine.

These days, detractors have another nickname for the millionaire tycoon and backroom politician with close personal ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin: they call him the Prince of Darkness.

A behind-the-scenes force in Ukrainian politics ever since Leonid Kuchma’s presidency, when he served as chief of staff from 2002 to 2005, Medvedchuk holds no prominent post today — and he says he doesn’t want one. In a recent interview, he told RFE/RL he feels more “free” and effective without the confines of political office.

But his outsize influence has been thrown into relief again by the upheaval that has hit Ukraine since protesters drove a Moscow-friendly president from power in February 2014. Russia responded by seizing Crimea and fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine, setting off a war between Kyiv and Russia-backed separatists that has killed more than 9,500 people.

With ties in tatters, Ukraine’s new, pro-Western leadership appointed Medvedchuk that June to act as a lead arbiter in dealings with Russia. The hope was that the Kremlin connections of a man who has Putin as the godfather of his daughter would be helpful — particularly in negotiating prisoner exchanges.

But Medvedchuk’s Kremlin connections meant that, while the appointment was celebrated in Moscow, it was met with widespread concern and suspicion by the Ukrainian public.

More than two years later, that wariness has not gone away. Several Ukrainians who were jailed in Russia have returned home in swap deals, including the prominent former helicopter navigator Nadia Savchenko, but many others remain behind bars.

Meanwhile, the peace deal Medvedchuk helped forge for eastern Ukraine is in danger of falling apart. The cease-fire is in tatters, with increased fighting this summer stoking fears of a return to full-scale war. And political aspects of the Minsk accords, which were supposed to reintegrate separatist-held territory into Ukraine and restore Kyiv’s control over its border with Russia by the end of 2015, have gone largely unfulfilled.

For many in Ukraine, questions about the motives of Medvedchuk have only been amplified.

Medvedchuk is “Putin’s personal representative in Ukraine,” said Taras Berezovets, director of the Kyiv-based political consultancy firm Berta Communications.

‘Just Jealous’

Medvedchuk has said it is a “great honor” to be counted among Putin’s friends. The Russian president reportedly baptized Medvedchuk’s daughter in St. Petersburg in 2004, and cameras have repeatedly captured him at Putin’s side — whether it’s at a Formula One race in Sochi, Russia, at a sambo martial arts meet, or with wife and kids in tow at a lavish Crimean villa.

In the interview with RFE/RL, Medvedchuk made no apology for his closeness with Putin. On the contrary.

“You know, those who talk about it, it seems to me they’re just jealous of me. They are just jealous of me, and that’s it,” he said, adding that he has nothing to hide: “I don’t even want to make other comments on this subject, because my work is transparent.”

Medvedchuk spoke to RFE/RL in a boardroom at his office, behind heavy doors flanked by beefy security guards in an unassuming building off Kyiv’s Leo Tolstoy Square.

He wore well-shined loafers, pressed slacks, musky cologne, and a tight-fitting white shirt that set off a fresh suntan he acquired in what might seem like the last place a Ukrainian politician would go for a summer vacation these days: Crimea.

“It was perfect — a warm sea, nice temperature, great location,” said Medvedchuk, whose practiced, pearly smile seemed to project a confidence grounded in careful preparation. “I first vacationed in Crimea sometime in the early 1990s and I’ve continued that tradition since.”

But this is not the early 1990s. Today, Crimea is at the heart of a rift between Moscow and Kyiv that may never heal: Ukraine says it will never give up the peninsula, while Moscow says it will never give back what Putin has called Russia’s holy land. Kyiv, rights groups, and Western governments say Russia has abused and oppressed Tatars and other Crimeans who opposed the annexation in March 2014, and visitors from other parts of Ukraine have been intimidated and threatened with imprisonment by the Moscow-imposed authorities.

Medvedchuk said that he understood their frustration and stressed that legally, Crimea is part of Ukraine. That is the position of Kyiv and most of the world.

“But de facto, unfortunately, it belongs to Russia,” he said. And don’t expect it be returned to Ukraine, he added, accusing the central government of pushing the peninsula away, alienating its residents, and prompting them to accept Russian control.

“If the authorities in Ukraine would like Crimea returned, they would not cut the electricity [from the mainland to the peninsula], not cut the water and declare an economic blockade,” Medvedchuk said. “It would not have stopped rail transport, both freight and passenger. It would not have stopped trucking.”

Medvedchuk is in lockstep with the Kremlin, or close, on other key issues.

While much of the world accuses Moscow of igniting the war in eastern Ukraine, Medvedchuk puts most of the blame on the Ukrainian government. He contended that Kyiv is wrong when it says that elections in the separatist-held territories, a key step on the path to peace set out in the Minsk deal, are possible only after Ukrainian control over the border with Russia in those regions is restored.

The accord called for an immediate and full bilateral cease-fire, followed by the withdrawal of all heavy weapons by both sides and the establishment of an effective monitoring regime before local elections should be held. Kyiv must also adopt a law governing the elections and pass legislation providing amnesty to separatists who have not committed heinous crimes, something that has become a contentious political issue in Kyiv and is yet to be done.

“Without these political changes…the Minsk deal won’t budge an inch,” Medvedchuk said, suggesting the onus is on Ukraine.

Echoing Moscow’s line, he said Kyiv must reach a consensus directly with the separatist leadership, “because there is no other way to bring these territories back [to Ukraine].”

“Well, there is one more way, but it is unrealistic,” he continued. “The Ukrainian army must go on the offensive and seize these territories by force. But neither Washington nor Brussels will let Ukraine do that.”

In contrast with Medvedchuk and the Kremlin, Kyiv and the West have stressed the need for Russia to fulfill its obligations under the Minsk deal, which requires the withdrawal of “all foreign armed formations, military equipment, as well as mercenaries” from Ukraine.

Swap Deals

In addition to being an architect of the Minsk deal, Medvedchuk has become a key go-between for Kyiv and Moscow in arranging prisoner exchanges — most notably the swap of Savchenko, on May 25, for two Russians Kyiv says were military intelligence officers. In all, he claims to have facilitated the release of 402 illegally held persons since December 2014.

In this area, he is quick to tout his importance.

“I am the only person conducting negotiations with the administrations of the self-proclaimed LNR and DNR [and] with the administration of the Russian Federation,” he said, grasping his chest with his hands and leaning over the table. LNR and DNR are acronyms of the names the Russia-backed separatists use for the territory they control.

Three weeks after Savchenko came home, Medvedchuk was able to get Russia to release and return Ukrainians Hennadiy Afanasyev and Yuriy Soloshenko, in exchange for two Ukrainian citizens charged with promoting separatism in Odesa.

Since then, though, the swaps have stalled, and each side still holds many dozens of people in custody. Among the Ukrainians held by Russia are Oleh Sentsov — a filmmaker who was detained in Crimea in May 2014 and sentenced to 20 years in prison in August 2015 on a terror plot conviction that supporters say is a travesty of justice — and Oleksandr Kolchenko, who was detained at the same time and sentenced to 10 years.

The U.S. State Department has called the charges against Sentsov and Kolchenko “groundless” and said they “were taken hostage on Ukrainian territory.”

There have been rumors in recent months of negotiations to free them, but no deal has materialized. According to Medvedchuk, that’s because the men are in a different category than those detained on the battlefields of the Donbas.

“There are people who [were detained] in Donetsk and Luhansk…in connection with events that occurred on the territory of the ‘antiterrorist operation,'” Medvedchuk said, using Kyiv’s term for its military operation in eastern Ukraine. He said Savchenko is the best example.

In Russia’s view, he said, the cases of Sentsov, Kolchenko and some others are different because “they were convicted of an offense committed on the territory of Crimea, which de jure is perceived by Russia as its territory.”

According to Medvedchuk, more than 600 people whose release is sought by the separatists are being held on Kyiv-controlled territory. He said that’s about equal to the number of those held by the DNR, LNR, and Russia combined.

From Kyiv to Washington, many have long viewed Medvedchuk as a Russian stooge, an accusation he vehemently denies.

When Russia seized control of Crimea, the United States imposed sanctions on Medvedchuk for “threatening the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine, and for undermining Ukraine’s democratic institutions and processes.”

A White House statement also said that Medvedchuk had “provided financial, material, or technological support” to Viktor Yanukovych, the president who was pushed from power and fled to Russia after setting Ukraine’s upheaval in motion by scrapping plans for a far-reaching Association Agreement with the European Union and seeking closer ties with Russia.

That decision was in line with policies advocated by Medvedchuk, who had been criticizing the EU for years.

In 2012, his nonprofit political group Ukrainian Choice pushed for a referendum on Ukraine’s accession to the Moscow-led Customs Union — one of the groupings of former Soviet republics that Putin seems to see as a counterbalance to the European Union and to Western influence in the region.

Ukrainian Choice also played a role in stirring up anti-EU sentiment ahead of the November 2013 summit in Vilnius during which Yanukovych had been set to sign the Association Agreement. In a nationwide campaign, it put up billboards showing same-sex stick-figure couples holding hands and the words: “Association with the EU means same-sex marriage.”

Born in Siberia to a father who was deported there from western Ukraine after suffering political repression for participating in national movements, Medvedchuk was not always such a critic of the West.

East And West

While a deputy in Ukraine’s parliament between 1997 and 2002, he often spoke well of Europe and especially Poland, where he enjoyed close working relationships with government officials. Those who know him say they noticed a shift to pro-Russian views when he worked as Kuchma’s chief of staff from 2002 to 2005.

Since then, Medvedchuk has helped shape political and economic policies in a way that detractors say plays directly into Putin’s hands.

They point to his involvement in drafting a contentious 2010 gas agreement signed by Putin, then prime minister, and his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Tymoshenko, as an example of him brokering a deal that favored Moscow.

More recently, he has said that Ukraine must be “federalized” if it is to be stable, meaning that that regional authorities including the separatists in the east should be granted more power at the expense of the central government — an idea that has also been promoted by Moscow.

“Medvedchuk is a political genius,” said Berezovets. “But his efforts are directed at Putin’s success, not Ukraine.”

Turning to the third person to refer to himself, Medvedchuk denied that in the interview.

“Mr. Medvedchuk lives here in Ukraine,” he told RFE/RL. “He studied here, worked here, continues to work here. It is home to his family; his children are studying here.”

“I’m not going to go anywhere. I wish happiness and prosperity for the country and will do everything to ensure that this country finds peace,” Medvedchuk continued. “My relationship with the president of Russia, I believe, helps me to help [Ukraine’s] interests. I use it wherever possible.”]

‘Real Peace’

Right now, Medvedchuk said, he is using it to seek an end to the war in Donbas. It is coincidence, he says, that his position on this issue — that Donbas is part of Ukraine — is shared by Putin.

“[Putin says] that there should be peace in Donbas. He also recognized and continually said that the Donbas is the territory of Ukraine,” Medvedchuk said. “Putin, however, also repeatedly said that he thinks about the safety of the Russian-speaking population in the Donbas…as outlined in the Minsk agreements.”

Two days after interviewing Medvedchuk, RFE/RL visited the front-line positions of a Ukrainian battalion in Maryinka, a town 28 kilometers from the center of the separatist stronghold of Donetsk. There was no cease-fire.

On the night of July 27, tanks unleashed a barrage of shells on the battalion’s positions from the separatist-held side about 100 meters away, setting off blasts that rocked the town and set one home ablaze. There was nobody inside; many have fled Maryinka since the start of the war.

It’s a conflict that many of those fighting want to end. Asked about the Minsk deal and Medvedchuk’s role as an arbiter between Kyiv, Moscow, and the separatists, battalion commander Vyacheslav Vlasenko echoed what has become a widespread sentiment in war-torn eastern Ukraine: “I don’t care.”

“It could be the devil or Adolf Hitler himself,” Vlasenko told RFE/RL at the battalion’s Maryinka headquarters. “If this person brings real peace, then I don’t care who he is.”

From –

The Independence Day 2016 celebration in Ukraine

ery soon the vibrant blue and yellow colors of Ukrainian flag will adorn the streets of every city; shopkeepers will clear their counters for little two-colour flags and patriotic merchandise. TV channels will start airing documentaries, movies and talk shows to commemorate the important national event of our Ukrainian Independence Day.

All region capitals will celebrate this event. Meanwhile, Kyiv had begun preparing for this day a couple of weeks in advance.

Independence Day in Kyiv

Kyiv, the Capital of Ukraine, is where the most important events of Independence Day take place. While other regions do have similar events, it is Kyiv that has more importance when it comes to celebrating this day for both cultural and historical reasons.

Parade. Spectacular military parade is one of the significant traditions that have been observed on August 24th every year. This part of the celebration turned out to be rather controversial in a light of recent events in Eastern Ukraine. Many Ukrainians consider a parade in a time of active military conflict somewhat inappropriate, however, official Kyiv says that a parade is a good way to show respect and gratitude to all the soldiers and their families.

All the disputes aside, one of the most spectacular military parade in independent Ukraine’s history will start on Wednesday morning, August 24th at Khreshchatyk street. It will count over 4 thousand participants and will showcase 200 units of military machinery. The President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko will be also attending the parade on the Independence Day 2016 of Ukraine.

Fairs. On August 24th, The Independence Day of Ukraine, one will have a chance to attend numerous art fairs. Ivan Mazepy street, located in Kyiv downtown, will turn into huge Pechersk fair field. Starting from noon and till the late evening Pechersk Fair will offer retro cars exhibition, local artists’ exhibitions and patriotically themed fun flash-mobs to all eager visitors.

Andriyivsky (Andrew’s) Uzviz will host Ukrainian crafts and arts fairs on August 24th. On the Independence Day of Ukraine guests will have a chance to buy unique artisan souvenirs from different regions of Ukraine.

Race in ‘Vyshyvankas’. On Independence Day of Ukraine (August 24, 2016), the traditional Race in ‘Vyshyvankas’ (embroidered shirts) will take place in the capital of Ukraine. This is a charitable event aiming to collect funds for the purchase of track and field kits for students of five schools in Kyiv. The big Independence race will start with at Rusanivska waterfront on August 24, 2016 in Kyiv. However, the festive race will last until August 27, 2016 in other cities. Both adults and children can step into the fight for the Independence Cup. Everyone will be able to contribute to the charity and to test their strength at different distances: children up to 10 years will run 100 meters; under 15 – 500 meters; and adults will compete in the races of 500 meters, 5 and 10 kilometers distances.

Independence Fest hosted by Parkovka art-platform invites all the guests to reveal Ukrainian within themselves (that is a festival motto) and listen to some good Ukrainian bands. The line-up will include such hipster bands as “Odyn v Canoe” (Single in Canoe), Vivienne Mort, Gapochka, Zapaska, Dj Mary Jane and many others. Food Court at the festival will be catered by Master Chef (popular culinary tv show) participants. Location of the Independence Fest in Kyiv is Izumskaya street, 7, Demiyivska metro station.

Historical reenactment festival will take place in Kyiv Rus Theme Park near Kyiv. Travel back in time and feel an intriguing and breathtaking ambiance of the ancient Ukraine on its Independence Day. The spectacular show will start at 10 AM and will last until 4 PM. The Kyiv Rus theme park is located in Kopachiv village, 45 minutes car ride away from Kyiv via Obukhiv highway.

Shifting away from Kyiv, other Ukrainian cities offer plenty fun and patriotically themed activities to celebrate the Independence Day.

Independence Day in Lviv
Lviv will be hosting annual «Etnovyr» Festival on August 24th. This is one of the most spectacular festivals of Western Ukraine. Folklore of different countries as well as different retrospectives of Ukrainian folk culture will be showcased to all the guests in forms of dance, theater, cinema, fine art and literature. This spectacular event drives thousands of attendees from different countries to Lviv in order to create a unique multicultural atmosphere. «Etnovyr» will be happening on numerous locations all over town. We suggest you check the detailed information on its schedule on-line. The majority of events during the festival are fee.

Independence Day in Odessa

«Okean Elzy» concert will be the highlight of Independence Day 2016 of Ukraine celebration in Odessa. This is without any doubt the most popular Ukrainian band, the symbol of Ukrainian pop-rock contemporary music. The band is well known not only in Ukraine, but in many other countries worldwide. Each concert of «Okean Elzy» gathers thousands of fans and creates unforgettable atmosphere. The Independence Day concert will take place at «Chernomorets» stadium, on August 24th at 8 PM.

Independence Day in Dnipro
«Vil’ne Nebo» («Free Sky») air show will soar over city of Dnipro (former Dnipropetrovsk) on August 24th , 2016 featuring Ukraine’s most modern aircrafts. «Vil’ne Nebo» will be an awe-inspiring show featuring thrilling performances by the best Ukrainian pilots. The show starts at noon and will last for the whole day until 10 PM at Mayskiy Airfield.

The days leading up to the Independence Day will see increased security covering of important places to ensure smooth functioning. With Ukrainian national flags adoring every building, the cities of Ukraine get ready for the busy day of festivities.

Celebrating the Independence Day 2016 in Ukraine is one of the best parts about summer. You get a chance to spend a wonderful day with your family, watch fireworks, go to a parade or attend various concerts and fairs— the options are endless and extremely exciting.