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News :: Human Rights
US Turns Blind Eye to Lugansk Massacre - Written by Daniel McAdams
09 Jun 2014
The US backs Nazi fascists in Ukraine.
On June 2, a missile screamed through downtown Lugansk, in eastern Ukraine, leaving a trail of craters in a city park before slamming into a regional administration building. At least eight people were killed in the blast, as it struck in a busy pedestrian area. Blood and body parts were strewn throughout the blast zone.

Eyewitnesses said the missile was fired from one of the military jet fighters that had been circling the area. Security camera footage from nearby seemed to confirm this. The jets had been sent in from Kiev to put down an autonomy movement in eastern Ukraine that followed a US-backed coup in Kiev in February.

An Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) monitoring team on the ground in Lugansk concurred with other eyewitnesses:

"On 2 June, shortly after 15:00 hrs, rockets hit the occupied regional administration building. Based on the SMM’s limited observation these strikes were the result of non-guided rockets shot from an aircraft. "

The US-backed government in Kiev, however, denied firing on civilians and blamed the blast on the anti-Kiev self-defense forces. The self-defense units, Kiev claimed, had blown up the administration building themselves with a heat-seeking missile that went awry.

The US mainstream media dutifully reported the Kiev government line as fact. The anti-Kiev forces had blown up their own headquarters, they wrote. Just as several weeks ago they wrote that the anti-Kiev forces in Odessa had set themselves on fire.

Dozens of videos on social media clearly showed Kiev-sent aircraft firing into cities and civilian centers in eastern Ukraine. The US mainstream media ignored this evidence and continued to repeat the Kiev line that the pro-autonomy forces had again massacred themselves.

The US government has said little about the attack. In a June 3 media briefing, a State Department spokesperson claimed to know nothing about the OSCE confirmation of an air strike on downtown Lugansk. Claiming that there were "conflicting reports," the spokesperson said the US "welcome[s] the restraint the Government of Ukraine has shown..."

Finally, alone among US mainstream media sources, CNN reported on June 3, that based on its sources on the ground in Lugansk it determined that the administration building was indeed hit by a missile fired from the air:

The tops of trees were splintered, and a series of small craters -- about a dozen -- had been blasted in a straight line, starting in the park and reaching the walls of the building, blowing out many of its windows and spraying the area with jagged shrapnel. That's what appears to have killed most of the victims and injured 20 more.

The craters in the park across the street from the building were likely caused by a Sukoi Su-25 fighter strafing the area with 30-millimeter ordnance, the CNN report continued.

It is clear that the Kiev government lied about the attack on Lugansk and that those lies were accepted as fact by the US government and the vast majority of the US mainstream media.

There has been no US government condemnation of the use of the Ukrainian military against Ukraine's own population in crowded civilian city centers. In fact the US State Department has actually encouraged the post-coup government in Ukraine to use force against civilians. State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said of the violence that the authorities in Kiev "have every right" to maintain "order and stability in their own country."

What would the US response have been had then-president Yanukovich used fighter jets to attack Maidan protesters in February? At the time, the US threatened the Yanukovich government for simply attempting to remove protesters from public buildings. But now it says nothing as the post-coup government actually calls in air strikes against civilians!

The administrative building in Lugansk is not the only target of the Kiev military in eastern Ukraine. Kiev forces have bombed hospitals, kindergartens, residential areas, and so on. Still not a word from President Obama or Secretary of State Kerry.

It seems that the US government actually approves of this use of force against civilian populations in eastern Ukraine. Two days after the air attack on downtown Lugansk, the Obama administration announced a significant US military support package for Ukraine. The aid will include, "A new tranche of $5 million for the provision of body armor, night vision goggles, and additional communications equipment."

Americans should understand that they are being forced by their government to finance the military slaughter of civilians in Ukraine. Horrific videos (extreme warning!) make the slaughter very clear and undeniable -- even to a State Department spokesperson were he or she to bother to look.
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Re: US Turns Blind Eye to Lugansk Massacre - Written by Daniel McAdams
09 Jun 2014
Newly installed President Poroshenko pledges to militarise Ukraine and crush rebellion in the east

By Mike Head 9 June 2014

With US Vice President Joseph Biden in the audience, Petro Poroshenko, a billionaire confectioner, was formally sworn in Saturday as president of Ukraine. Delivering a bellicose speech, he pledged to confront Russia, suppress the separatists in Ukraine’s east and fully militarise the country. At the same time, he alluded to his plans to impose brutal austerity measures on the Ukrainian working class.

Poroshenko began by paying homage to the fascistic forces that spearheaded his installation, via a US- and European Union-backed putsch in February followed by an election held May 25 amid a reign of terror and military violence in eastern Ukraine. He enthused over the “victorious revolution” by “Ukrainian patriots” and “warriors.”

While the Western media portrayed it as a powerful performance, the speech only underscored the fact that Poroshenko is nothing but a front man for German and particularly American imperialism, and is entirely dependent on them. Adopting a provocative stance toward Russia, he declared he would never accept Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and vowed to repudiate the Budapest Agreement that restricts the deployment of Western military forces within former Soviet states.

“Russia occupied Crimea, which was, is and will be Ukrainian soil,” Poroshenko insisted. Referring to a brief meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the D-Day commemoration in France, he said: “Yesterday, in the course of the meeting in Normandy, I told this to President Putin: Crimea is Ukraine soil. Period. There can be no compromise on the issues of Crimea, European choice and state structure.”

Fresh from talks in France with US President Barack Obama, Poroshenko rejected any negotiations with pro-Russian separatist forces in Ukraine’s east. He vowed instead to swiftly put an end to the resistance to February’s pro-Western, fascist-led coup in Kiev.

He depicted those holding control in dozens of eastern cities and towns as “bandits,” “criminals,” “terrorists” and “Russian mercenaries,” foreshadowing a renewed offensive by the Ukrainian military and allied right-wing militias.

Even as Poroshenko spoke, there was an assassination attempt on Denis Pushilin, a pro-Russian leader in Donetsk, resulting in the shooting death of an assistant, Maksym Petruhin. Photographs on Ukrainian news sites showed Petruhin, wearing a business suit, lying face down on a street alongside a parked car with at least seven bullet holes in the rear door panel.

“For peace to become lasting, we must get used to living in constant combat readiness,” the tycoon known as Ukraine’s “chocolate king” declared. “We have to keep the gunpowder dry. The army and its re-equipment by means of national military-industrial complex is our top priority… Our army must become a true elite of the Ukrainian community.”

Insisting that “great sacrifices” would have to be made by the Ukrainian population, Poroshenko stated: “Those who grudge money for the armed forces feed the foreign army… Our most reliable allies and the best guarantors of peace are our army, fleet, the National Guard and professional special forces.”

At a meeting with Poroshenko, Biden reiterated American support for his regime. “America’s with you,” Biden said. “That is not hyperbole.”

In conjunction with Biden’s visit, the White House announced $48 million in new aid to Ukraine, as well as $8 million for Moldova and $5 million for Georgia, both of which are also expected to sign agreements with the EU this month.

According to the White House statement, the aid would help the Ukrainian government “conduct key reforms, build law enforcement capacity, and strengthen national unity.” It specifically committed the US to supporting Ukraine’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity” and “economic development,” including “the reforms needed to make its IMF and World Bank programs.”

Poroshenko promised to move swiftly to an economic agreement with the EU from which Ukraine’s former government backed away last November, fearing the social unrest that would be triggered by the austerity dictates of the EU and the International Monetary Fund. “My pen is in my hands,” he said, pointing out that the EU association agreement was but the first step “towards fully-fledged membership of Ukraine in the European Union.”

The unelected interim government installed in February has already begun to implement the austerity measures demanded by the EU and IMF, including scrapping domestic energy subsidies and allowing the currency, the hryvnia, to depreciate about 30 percent against the US dollar. Average gas prices for Ukrainian households began rising by more than 50 percent in May, and heating prices are expected to climb by about 40 percent, starting in July.

Far harsher measures are still to come, including a freeze on public-sector wages, mass redundancies of government workers, the cancellation of scheduled pension increases and a range of social spending cuts.

The Wall Street Journal reported concerns about Poroshenko’s capacity to deliver. “It looks like people are ready to accept this decline in living standards,” Vitaliy Vavryshchuk, head of research at Kiev-based investment house SP Advisors, told the newspaper, but Ukrainians expected economic improvement. “Patience is not unlimited,” he warned.

For all the efforts of the Western powers and the compliant media to dress up Poroshenko as a popular and democratic figure, he is a particularly venal representative of the corrupt Ukrainian elites that enriched themselves by looting the assets of the former Soviet Union. He held senior cabinet posts under both the pro-Western government of President Viktor Yushchenko that followed the US- and EU-backed 2004 “Orange Revolution” and, after Yushchenko’s disgrace, the Moscow-aligned leadership of recently ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.

Having served as Yushchenko’s foreign minister and Yanukovych’s trade minister, Poroshenko is well-known in the Western corridors of power as a pliable instrument for promoting their interests.

Russian President Vladimir Putin who, like Poroshenko, represents the oligarchy that arose from the liquidation of the Soviet Union, is desperately trying to reach an accommodation with the Kiev regime and Washington. At a press conference, after meeting with Poroshenko for about 15 minutes in France, he declared: “I liked his attitude,” adding: “I cannot but welcome the position of Poroshenko on the necessity to end the bloodletting immediately in the east of Ukraine.”

There is every indication that Putin is prepared to give Poroshenko a free hand to crush the resistance in eastern Ukraine. The Wall Street Journal reported that for weeks, “Mr Putin has been sending back-channel messages to the West trying to distance the Kremlin from the actions of the rebels and suggesting it was prepared to support efforts to de-escalate violence in eastern Ukraine.”

Moscow returned its ambassador, Mikhail Zurabov, to Kiev to attend the inaugural festivities, and Russian news agencies reported that Putin had ordered tighter controls on the border to prevent people from crossing to fight against the regime in Kiev.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande reportedly arranged the French meeting between Putin and Poroshenko, seeking to facilitate a settlement. German and French imperialism, while fully backing the Kiev coup, have close economic and energy ties with Russia, as well as their own historic aspirations to dominate Ukraine and Russia. Washington, however, has made it clear that it intends to fully pursue its underlying agenda: to exploit the Ukrainian crisis in order to subjugate Russia and transform it into a US semi-colony.
Re: US Turns Blind Eye to Lugansk Massacre - Written by Daniel McAdams
09 Jun 2014
Workers Vanguard No. 1047 30 May 2014

On Khmelnitsky, Ukrainian Nationalist Icon (Letters)

6 April 2014

Dear Comrades,

In the excerpt of his 1920 Baku Congress speech printed in “Soviet Power and the Liberation of Ukraine” (WV No. 1042, 21 March), Bolshevik Party member Mikhail Pavlovich stated: “All the Cossack revolts, the whole struggle of the Zaporozhian Camp, of Bogdan Khmelnitsky, were fundamentally a fight of the Ukrainian peasants against the yoke of the Polish landowners, against the Polonizers, the enemies of the Ukrainian national language and Ukrainian culture.” A Cossack nobleman, Khmelnitsky led the Ukrainian uprising of 1648, uniting Tatar cavalry regiments, Cossacks, peasants and burghers against Polish domination. However, he has also gone down in history as the commander of forces that carried out ghastly anti-Jewish pogroms that have come to be known as the Khmelnitsky massacre.

Following the defeat of Cossack and peasant rebels in 1638, the Polish lords had begun to intensify their exploitation and oppression of the peasant masses, instituting a system of serfdom that would subjugate formerly unburdened peasants. As a result, peasants were compelled to provide their lords with three or four days of work every week, perform personal services for the landowners and pay a tax to the royal treasury on their homes and farm animals.

Meanwhile, the Polish szlachta (feudal nobility) had resorted to the hated practice of arenda, a leasing arrangement by which the arendar (leaseholder) could profit from deepening the exploitation of the peasants. Since many arendars were Jewish and over half the crown lands in Ukraine had been leased out to Jewish entrepreneurs by the early decades of the 17th century, the peasants considered the Jews their mortal enemies. Moreover, Jews often held leases on the production and sale of alcohol and tobacco, further inflaming tensions. Thus, the stage was set for the horrible pogroms to follow.

A people-class in medieval and early modern Europe with a distinct culture and religion, the Jews performed a range of occupations that often forced them to act as middlemen between the ruling feudal lords and the oppressed peasant masses. Within this economic division of labor, Jews frequently filled such positions as merchant, moneylender, royal treasurer, peddler, tax collector and arendar. This situation served the rulers’ political interests by enabling them to deflect plebeian anger from themselves onto the “outsider”—an oft-repeated stratagem in the history of class societies.

In Ukraine: A History (2009), historian Orest Subtelny explained that many peasants and Cossacks used the opportunity of the Ukrainian uprising to vent pent-up hatred against those whom they saw as their oppressors—not least the Jews: “Within a few months, almost all Polish nobles, officials, and priests had been wiped out or driven from Ukraine. Jewish losses were especially heavy because they were the most numerous and accessible representatives of the szlachta regime. Between 1648 and 1656, tens of thousands of Jews—given the lack of reliable data, it is impossible to establish more accurate figures—were killed by the rebels, and to this day the Khmelnytsky uprising is considered by Jews to be one of the most traumatic events in their history.”

In the introduction to Pavlovich’s report, WV mentions the notorious anti-Jewish massacres committed over 250 years later by Simon Petlyura’s Ukrainian peasant forces, which were at war with the Soviet power issuing from the October 1917 proletarian revolution in Russia. A member of the Jewish Bund in Ukraine expressed the sentiments of the Jewish masses at the time: “The armed carriers of socialism, the Bolsheviks, are the only force which can oppose the pogroms.... For us there is no other way” (see “Revolution, Counterrevolution and the Jewish Question,” Spartacist [English edition] No. 49-50, Winter 1993-94). As that article noted: “In its struggle to defend and consolidate the new proletarian state power against the White counterrevolutionaries, the Red Army necessarily had to sweep away the pogromist old order.”

Comradely, Bert Mason