I just had what might be a good idea – you tell me!

I just had what might be a good idea – you tell me!

July 17, 2021

Dear friends,

To my surprise many (most?) of the comments I got yesterday were related to my question about whether to write about the history of the Russian Orthodox Church in the 20th century or not.  Thanks to all those who replied!  And the various comments have given me an idea which I want to run by you:

What if, instead of writing a 10’000 words essay (I am only slightly exaggerating!) about the history of the Russian Orthodox Church in the past 100 years (or more!) I did something much, much simpler?  Here is my idea:

It is my claim that 95% or more of so-called “Christian denominations” are Christian only in name and that this is empirically and logically provable! The *only* element required to be able to do so is a correct understanding of what the original Christians (at the time of Christ, His Apostles and the Fathers) adopted as their “criteria of truth”!  Once you (really) “get” “just” that it becomes comically simple to prove that modern “Christianity” has almost nothing in common with the original Christianity of Christ and the Church He Founded.

This is as true for the Latins, as it is for the MP or for the innumerable sects resulting from the Reformation.  Furthermore, I also note with horror that 95% or more of the people who sincerely think of themselves as “Christians” don’t even know the very basics of what Christianity is.  So the real problem is not that this or that off-shot of Christianity sincerely, but mistakenly, thinks of itself as “Christian”, the problem is that the overwhelming majority of those who seek to truly follow the commandments and teachings of Christ do not have the means to find out what these commandments and teachings are!

Yeah, yeah, I know, solo scriptura and all that!  Sounds good in theory, but in practice this is literally a chain-reaction like phenomenon in which the more the slogan solo scriptura is chanted, the more denominations result from this.  Not exactly what Saint Paul intended when wrote “One Lord, one faith, one baptism“…

So rather than dealing with lofty and subtle issues of Patristic teachings on ecclesiology or dogmatic anthropology, which would be a waste of time in our post-Christian societies, why don’t I “go minimal“?  What I am thinking is to start a series of short “Christian vignettes” dealing with basic but important issues: what is the purpose of our life? what is our nature? what is a “saint”? what is the “Church”?  What did Christ teach about His Church?  How did the Fathers deal with heresies and schisms?  What is the “symphony of power” and how is it different from the “caesaropapism” invented by western “theologians”? How did the Fathers deal with all the innumerable crises (persecutions, heresies, schisms, infiltrations by enemies. etc.) the Church of Christ faced in its history (especially since “there is nothing new under the sun” and we have no commandment to reinvent the wheel over and over and over again!)? etc. etc. etc.  Yes, one could write several PhD theses on any of those deceptively “simple” questions, but my goal would be to write a short vignette and maybe add a few useful links to some relevant text.

Again, I won’t be “going after” the Latins, the Sergianists or anybody else.  I will just present what I believe is the “real thing” and you can them compare and contrast it with whatever putatively “Christian” denomination at your own leisure (or not).

Believe me, when, for example, the Latins and the Orthodox use the exact same words (Virgin Mary, Church, grace, sin, redemption, tradition, authority, obedience, etc.) they appear to be using the same categories.  In reality they never do, because the meaning they give to these concepts are radically different.  So I would probably start with simply worded Orthodox definitions (understanding) of some basic concepts.

Here is my underlying view of the original of the Church: Christ very much came into the world to create an “organized religion”, in fact I would even describe it as *highly* organized (at least in theory, on the day to day parish life, not so much, alas!).  He created His Church.  Over the centuries, the external power, influence and authority of this Church in the world went through many ups and downs, and the fall of the entire West into schism and heresy resulted in the post-Christian society we live in today.  That original Church of Christ still exists today, but it is small, almost tiny.  But compared to the times of, Saint Maximos the Confessor, the Church of Christ is booming and doing great!  In fact, any QUANTITATIVE argument in defense of any faith is a logical and spiritual fallacy and was, therefore, never used by the Fathers.  It so happens that my life has lead me to this tiny “spiritual island” (the traditional image would be one of a vessel with Christ at its helm) which is in the world, but not of the world, and which truly (in its essence) is still the same, a-temporal, Church Christ founded 2000 years ago.  I want to share what I found there, if only to convincingly prove that that which is nowadays is commonly referred to as “Christianity” has nothing in common with the real thing.  What I propose to do is to begin my demonstration with the very basics.

My suggestion for a first such vignette?  The question of “how much is enough”, i.e. how big (# of followers or # of bishops) or small can the Church of Christ be to still qualify as the original Church of Christ?  Would one true Christian (however you defined this concept) on a desert island still be “The Church”?  How about 10 Christians and I will even toss in 4 deacons, 2 priests and even one bishop!  So “Church” or “no-Church”?  True, I did hint at the correct answer above, but I did not explain it.  So – interested or not?

Let me repeat here: the original Church, as created by Christ and His Apostles still exists today, this Church has lived through very different historical periods and it has therefore appeared to be externally changing.  And sometimes this Church did change.  Externally.  But in its essence, we know two things: that the Church of Christ is the Pillar and Foundation of Truth which will never and, in fact, cannot “change”, if only because “change” is something which happens over time, whereas the (real) Church is “outside time”.

The Latins call themselves “The Church” and even lapsed-Latins STILL call the Latin Church “The Church”.  Why?  Well, because of the Pope, of course!  What other religion can claim to be headed by this putatively “infallible” superstar with his Papamobiles and an opinion about everything, especially secular matters?! (note for non-Latins: Latins do NOT claim that the Pope is always right, but only when he speaks “officially”, in his quality of Pope, and on issues of faith and morality.  But still, this is a crazy notion, especially if one accepts the Augustinian/Thomistic views on original sin and salvation!).

“Infallibility” is another perfect example!  The original Christians have always believed that the True One Church of Christ is infallible in its essence being the Theandric Body of Christ filled with the Holy Spirit.  But while the ENTIRE CHURCH is infallible, no single individual, not even a saint, is infallible.  The Latins trasferred that which was always considered an attribute of the entire Conciliar Church into one man.  Do yes, both Christians and Latins speak of “infallibility” – but what we mean by that are diametrically opposed concepts!

The truth is that real Christianity is completely in-compatible with not only modern “values”, it is in direct contradiction with the vast majority of the tenets/beliefs/certitudes of our post-Christian world.  So all the forms of “Christianity” which “go with the times” and innovate are, by definition, axiomatically NOT Christian.  Again, that could be the topic of a short “vignette” which can demonstrate that in 2, max 3, paragraphs.

So I want to set the record strait: I only propose to restate present what I believe is a truly Christian understanding of issue/concept “X” and I leave you, the reader, the freedom to choose to accept or reject what I submit (like in an AA meeting!).  I could start with a vignette entitled “a Christian view of pragmatism” or “why are there so many religions?” or even “what is progress” or can dogmas change and, if yes, which ones?”.  I am really talking about the basic “building blocks” of the original Christianity.

So, rather than dealing with the Papacy, the MP or the innumerable Evangelical sects, I will simply present you with a short summary how of original Christianity was different.  Then, at least, you will be equipped to try to ascertain the degree of actual Christianity in your own denomination (or in the denominations you criticize if you are an agnostic/atheist).

Finally, I will place these “vignettes” in my “sandbox” for two reasons: first, this is probably not a topic most readers will be interested in; second these will be short, quickly written, items (“vignettes”) which do not fit into any other category (and I sure am not creating a new, separate, category for that).

So, good idea or goody idea?

Kindest regards to all,

The Saker

PS: one more idea I just had: I could ask a person (I trust does know real, Patristic, Christianity) for his/her “vignette” on this or that topic.  That would make this all much more interesting since different persons would present their understanding of these issue, not just one guy!

IMPORTANT PPS: speaking of “just one guy”.  Yes, I do have a formal (academic) education in Patristics (aka Traditional Orthodox Theology), but that still leaves me “just a guy”!  I have NO clerical title, NO blessing from anybody to teach (though, technically speaking, by Licentiate does give me that right, at least in a seminary) and I claim NO original insights whatsoever, nevermind anything even remotely resembling any “authority” of any kind.  I have received absolutely NO charisma whatsoever besides my baptism!   I am but a sinful layman, please never forget that, and never let me forget that either!

Article by Vladimir Putin ”On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians“

July 13, 2021

Article by Vladimir Putin ”On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians“

http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/66181

July 12, 2021

During the recent Direct Line, when I was asked about Russian-Ukrainian relations, I said that Russians and Ukrainians were one people – a single whole. These words were not driven by some short-term considerations or prompted by the current political context. It is what I have said on numerous occasions and what I firmly believe. I therefore feel it necessary to explain my position in detail and share my assessments of today’s situation.

First of all, I would like to emphasize that the wall that has emerged in recent years between Russia and Ukraine, between the parts of what is essentially the same historical and spiritual space, to my mind is our great common misfortune and tragedy. These are, first and foremost, the consequences of our own mistakes made at different periods of time. But these are also the result of deliberate efforts by those forces that have always sought to undermine our unity. The formula they apply has been known from time immemorial – divide and rule. There is nothing new here. Hence the attempts to play on the ”national question“ and sow discord among people, the overarching goal being to divide and then to pit the parts of a single people against one another.

To have a better understanding of the present and look into the future, we need to turn to history. Certainly, it is impossible to cover in this article all the developments that have taken place over more than a thousand years. But I will focus on the key, pivotal moments that are important for us to remember, both in Russia and Ukraine.

Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians are all descendants of Ancient Rus, which was the largest state in Europe. Slavic and other tribes across the vast territory – from Ladoga, Novgorod, and Pskov to Kiev and Chernigov – were bound together by one language (which we now refer to as Old Russian), economic ties, the rule of the princes of the Rurik dynasty, and – after the baptism of Rus – the Orthodox faith. The spiritual choice made by St. Vladimir, who was both Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Kiev, still largely determines our affinity today.

The throne of Kiev held a dominant position in Ancient Rus. This had been the custom since the late 9th century. The Tale of Bygone Years captured for posterity the words of Oleg the Prophet about Kiev, ”Let it be the mother of all Russian cities.“

Later, like other European states of that time, Ancient Rus faced a decline of central rule and fragmentation. At the same time, both the nobility and the common people perceived Rus as a common territory, as their homeland.

The fragmentation intensified after Batu Khan’s devastating invasion, which ravaged many cities, including Kiev. The northeastern part of Rus fell under the control of the Golden Horde but retained limited sovereignty. The southern and western Russian lands largely became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which – most significantly – was referred to in historical records as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Russia.

Members of the princely and ”boyar“ clans would change service from one prince to another, feuding with each other but also making friendships and alliances. Voivode Bobrok of Volyn and the sons of Grand Duke of Lithuania Algirdas – Andrey of Polotsk and Dmitry of Bryansk – fought next to Grand Duke Dmitry Ivanovich of Moscow on the Kulikovo field. At the same time, Grand Duke of Lithuania Jogaila – son of the Princess of Tver – led his troops to join with Mamai. These are all pages of our shared history, reflecting its complex and multi-dimensional nature.

Most importantly, people both in the western and eastern Russian lands spoke the same language. Their faith was Orthodox. Up to the middle of the 15th century, the unified church government remained in place.

At a new stage of historical development, both Lithuanian Rus and Moscow Rus could have become the points of attraction and consolidation of the territories of Ancient Rus. It so happened that Moscow became the center of reunification, continuing the tradition of ancient Russian statehood. Moscow princes – the descendants of Prince Alexander Nevsky – cast off the foreign yoke and began gathering the Russian lands.

In the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, other processes were unfolding. In the 14th century, Lithuania’s ruling elite converted to Catholicism. In the 16th century, it signed the Union of Lublin with the Kingdom of Poland to form the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Polish Catholic nobility received considerable land holdings and privileges in the territory of Rus. In accordance with the 1596 Union of Brest, part of the western Russian Orthodox clergy submitted to the authority of the Pope. The process of Polonization and Latinization began, ousting Orthodoxy.

As a consequence, in the 16–17th centuries, the liberation movement of the Orthodox population was gaining strength in the Dnieper region. The events during the times of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky became a turning point. His supporters struggled for autonomy from the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

In its 1649 appeal to the king of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Zaporizhian Host demanded that the rights of the Russian Orthodox population be respected, that the voivode of Kiev be Russian and of Greek faith, and that the persecution of the churches of God be stopped. But the Cossacks were not heard.

Bohdan Khmelnytsky then made appeals to Moscow, which were considered by the Zemsky Sobor. On 1 October 1653, members of the supreme representative body of the Russian state decided to support their brothers in faith and take them under patronage. In January 1654, the Pereyaslav Council confirmed that decision. Subsequently, the ambassadors of Bohdan Khmelnytsky and Moscow visited dozens of cities, including Kiev, whose populations swore allegiance to the Russian tsar. Incidentally, nothing of the kind happened at the conclusion of the Union of Lublin.

In a letter to Moscow in 1654, Bohdan Khmelnytsky thanked Tsar Aleksey Mikhaylovich for taking ”the whole Zaporizhian Host and the whole Russian Orthodox world under the strong and high hand of the Tsar“. It means that, in their appeals to both the Polish king and the Russian tsar, the Cossacks referred to and defined themselves as Russian Orthodox people.

Over the course of the protracted war between the Russian state and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, some of the hetmans, successors of Bohdan Khmelnytsky, would ”detach themselves“ from Moscow or seek support from Sweden, Poland, or Turkey. But, again, for the people, that was a war of liberation. It ended with the Truce of Andrusovo in 1667. The final outcome was sealed by the Treaty of Perpetual Peace in 1686. The Russian state incorporated the city of Kiev and the lands on the left bank of the Dnieper River, including Poltava region, Chernigov region, and Zaporozhye. Their inhabitants were reunited with the main part of the Russian Orthodox people. These territories were referred to as ”Malorossia“ (Little Russia).

The name ”Ukraine“ was used more often in the meaning of the Old Russian word ”okraina“ (periphery), which is found in written sources from the 12th century, referring to various border territories. And the word ”Ukrainian“, judging by archival documents, originally referred to frontier guards who protected the external borders.

On the right bank, which remained under the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the old orders were restored, and social and religious oppression intensified. On the contrary, the lands on the left bank, taken under the protection of the unified state, saw rapid development. People from the other bank of the Dnieper moved here en masse. They sought support from people who spoke the same language and had the same faith.

During the Great Northern War with Sweden, the people in Malorossia were not faced with a choice of whom to side with. Only a small portion of the Cossacks supported Mazepa’s rebellion. People of all orders and degrees considered themselves Russian and Orthodox.

Cossack senior officers belonging to the nobility would reach the heights of political, diplomatic, and military careers in Russia. Graduates of Kiev-Mohyla Academy played a leading role in church life. This was also the case during the Hetmanate – an essentially autonomous state formation with a special internal structure – and later in the Russian Empire. Malorussians in many ways helped build a big common country – its statehood, culture, and science. They participated in the exploration and development of the Urals, Siberia, the Caucasus, and the Far East. Incidentally, during the Soviet period, natives of Ukraine held major, including the highest, posts in the leadership of the unified state. Suffice it to say that Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev, whose party biography was most closely associated with Ukraine, led the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) for almost 30 years.

In the second half of the 18th century, following the wars with the Ottoman Empire, Russia incorporated Crimea and the lands of the Black Sea region, which became known as Novorossiya. They were populated by people from all of the Russian provinces. After the partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Russian Empire regained the western Old Russian lands, with the exception of Galicia and Transcarpathia, which became part of the Austrian – and later Austro-Hungarian – Empire.

The incorporation of the western Russian lands into the single state was not merely the result of political and diplomatic decisions. It was underlain by the common faith, shared cultural traditions, and – I would like to emphasize it once again – language similarity. Thus, as early as the beginning of the 17th century, one of the hierarchs of the Uniate Church, Joseph Rutsky, communicated to Rome that people in Moscovia called Russians from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth their brothers, that their written language was absolutely identical, and differences in the vernacular were insignificant. He drew an analogy with the residents of Rome and Bergamo. These are, as we know, the center and the north of modern Italy.

Many centuries of fragmentation and living within different states naturally brought about regional language peculiarities, resulting in the emergence of dialects. The vernacular enriched the literary language. Ivan Kotlyarevsky, Grigory Skovoroda, and Taras Shevchenko played a huge role here. Their works are our common literary and cultural heritage. Taras Shevchenko wrote poetry in the Ukrainian language, and prose mainly in Russian. The books of Nikolay Gogol, a Russian patriot and native of Poltavshchyna, are written in Russian, bristling with Malorussian folk sayings and motifs. How can this heritage be divided between Russia and Ukraine? And why do it?

The south-western lands of the Russian Empire, Malorussia and Novorossiya, and the Crimea developed as ethnically and religiously diverse entities. Crimean Tatars, Armenians, Greeks, Jews, Karaites, Krymchaks, Bulgarians, Poles, Serbs, Germans, and other peoples lived here. They all preserved their faith, traditions, and customs.

I am not going to idealise anything. We do know there were the Valuev Circular of 1863 an then the Ems Ukaz of 1876, which restricted the publication and importation of religious and socio-political literature in the Ukrainian language. But it is important to be mindful of the historical context. These decisions were taken against the backdrop of dramatic events in Poland and the desire of the leaders of the Polish national movement to exploit the ”Ukrainian issue“ to their own advantage. I should add that works of fiction, books of Ukrainian poetry and folk songs continued to be published. There is objective evidence that the Russian Empire was witnessing an active process of development of the Malorussian cultural identity within the greater Russian nation, which united the Velikorussians, the Malorussians and the Belorussians.

At the same time, the idea of Ukrainian people as a nation separate from the Russians started to form and gain ground among the Polish elite and a part of the Malorussian intelligentsia. Since there was no historical basis – and could not have been any, conclusions were substantiated by all sorts of concoctions, which went as far as to claim that the Ukrainians are the true Slavs and the Russians, the Muscovites, are not. Such ”hypotheses“ became increasingly used for political purposes as a tool of rivalry between European states.

Since the late 19th century, the Austro-Hungarian authorities had latched onto this narrative, using it as a counterbalance to the Polish national movement and pro-Muscovite sentiments in Galicia. During World War I, Vienna played a role in the formation of the so-called Legion of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen. Galicians suspected of sympathies with Orthodox Christianity and Russia were subjected to brutal repression and thrown into the concentration camps of Thalerhof and Terezin.

Further developments had to do with the collapse of European empires, the fierce civil war that broke out across the vast territory of the former Russian Empire, and foreign intervention.

After the February Revolution, in March 1917, the Central Rada was established in Kiev, intended to become the organ of supreme power. In November 1917, in its Third Universal, it declared the creation of the Ukrainian People’s Republic (UPR) as part of Russia.

In December 1917, UPR representatives arrived in Brest-Litovsk, where Soviet Russia was negotiating with Germany and its allies. At a meeting on 10 January 1918, the head of the Ukrainian delegation read out a note proclaiming the independence of Ukraine. Subsequently, the Central Rada proclaimed Ukraine independent in its Fourth Universal.

The declared sovereignty did not last long. Just a few weeks later, Rada delegates signed a separate treaty with the German bloc countries. Germany and Austria-Hungary were at the time in a dire situation and needed Ukrainian bread and raw materials. In order to secure large-scale supplies, they obtained consent for sending their troops and technical staff to the UPR. In fact, this was used as a pretext for occupation.

For those who have today given up the full control of Ukraine to external forces, it would be instructive to remember that, back in 1918, such a decision proved fatal for the ruling regime in Kiev. With the direct involvement of the occupying forces, the Central Rada was overthrown and Hetman Pavlo Skoropadskyi was brought to power, proclaiming instead of the UPR the Ukrainian State, which was essentially under German protectorate.

In November 1918 – following the revolutionary events in Germany and Austria-Hungary – Pavlo Skoropadskyi, who had lost the support of German bayonets, took a different course, declaring that ”Ukraine is to take the lead in the formation of an All-Russian Federation“. However, the regime was soon changed again. It was now the time of the so-called Directorate.

In autumn 1918, Ukrainian nationalists proclaimed the West Ukrainian People’s Republic (WUPR) and, in January 1919, announced its unification with the Ukrainian People’s Republic. In July 1919, Ukrainian forces were crushed by Polish troops, and the territory of the former WUPR came under the Polish rule.

In April 1920, Symon Petliura (portrayed as one of the ”heroes“ in today’s Ukraine) concluded secret conventions on behalf of the UPR Directorate, giving up – in exchange for military support – Galicia and Western Volhynia lands to Poland. In May 1920, Petliurites entered Kiev in a convoy of Polish military units. But not for long. As early as November 1920, following a truce between Poland and Soviet Russia, the remnants of Petliura’s forces surrendered to those same Poles.

The example of the UPR shows that different kinds of quasi-state formations that emerged across the former Russian Empire at the time of the Civil War and turbulence were inherently unstable. Nationalists sought to create their own independent states, while leaders of the White movement advocated indivisible Russia. Many of the republics established by the Bolsheviks’ supporters did not see themselves outside Russia either. Nevertheless, Bolshevik Party leaders sometimes basically drove them out of Soviet Russia for various reasons.

Thus, in early 1918, the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic was proclaimed and asked Moscow to incorporate it into Soviet Russia. This was met with a refusal. During a meeting with the republic’s leaders, Vladimir Lenin insisted that they act as part of Soviet Ukraine. On 15 March 1918, the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) directly ordered that delegates be sent to the Ukrainian Congress of Soviets, including from the Donetsk Basin, and that ”one government for all of Ukraine“ be created at the congress. The territories of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic later formed most of the regions of south-eastern Ukraine.

Under the 1921 Treaty of Riga, concluded between the Russian SFSR, the Ukrainian SSR and Poland, the western lands of the former Russian Empire were ceded to Poland. In the interwar period, the Polish government pursued an active resettlement policy, seeking to change the ethnic composition of the Eastern Borderlands – the Polish name for what is now Western Ukraine, Western Belarus and parts of Lithuania. The areas were subjected to harsh Polonisation, local culture and traditions suppressed. Later, during World War II, radical groups of Ukrainian nationalists used this as a pretext for terror not only against Polish, but also against Jewish and Russian populations.

In 1922, when the USSR was created, with the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic becoming one of its founders, a rather fierce debate among the Bolshevik leaders resulted in the implementation of Lenin’s plan to form a union state as a federation of equal republics. The right for the republics to freely secede from the Union was included in the text of the Declaration on the Creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and, subsequently, in the 1924 USSR Constitution. By doing so, the authors planted in the foundation of our statehood the most dangerous time bomb, which exploded the moment the safety mechanism provided by the leading role of the CPSU was gone, the party itself collapsing from within. A ”parade of sovereignties“ followed. On 8 December 1991, the so-called Belovezh Agreement on the Creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States was signed, stating that ”the USSR as a subject of international law and a geopolitical reality no longer existed.“ By the way, Ukraine never signed or ratified the CIS Charter adopted back in 1993.

In the 1920’s-1930’s, the Bolsheviks actively promoted the ”localization policy“, which took the form of Ukrainization in the Ukrainian SSR. Symbolically, as part of this policy and with consent of the Soviet authorities, Mikhail Grushevskiy, former chairman of Central Rada, one of the ideologists of Ukrainian nationalism, who at a certain period of time had been supported by Austria-Hungary, was returned to the USSR and was elected member of the Academy of Sciences.

The localization policy undoubtedly played a major role in the development and consolidation of the Ukrainian culture, language and identity. At the same time, under the guise of combating the so-called Russian great-power chauvinism, Ukrainization was often imposed on those who did not see themselves as Ukrainians. This Soviet national policy secured at the state level the provision on three separate Slavic peoples: Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian, instead of the large Russian nation, a triune people comprising Velikorussians, Malorussians and Belorussians.

In 1939, the USSR regained the lands earlier seized by Poland. A major portion of these became part of the Soviet Ukraine. In 1940, the Ukrainian SSR incorporated part of Bessarabia, which had been occupied by Romania since 1918, as well as Northern Bukovina. In 1948, Zmeyiniy Island (Snake Island) in the Black Sea became part of Ukraine. In 1954, the Crimean Region of the RSFSR was given to the Ukrainian SSR, in gross violation of legal norms that were in force at the time.

I would like to dwell on the destiny of Carpathian Ruthenia, which became part of Czechoslovakia following the breakup of Austria-Hungary. Rusins made up a considerable share of local population. While this is hardly mentioned any longer, after the liberation of Transcarpathia by Soviet troops the congress of the Orthodox population of the region voted for the inclusion of Carpathian Ruthenia in the RSFSR or, as a separate Carpathian republic, in the USSR proper. Yet the choice of people was ignored. In summer 1945, the historical act of the reunification of Carpathian Ukraine ”with its ancient motherland, Ukraine“ – as The Pravda newspaper put it – was announced.

Therefore, modern Ukraine is entirely the product of the Soviet era. We know and remember well that it was shaped – for a significant part – on the lands of historical Russia. To make sure of that, it is enough to look at the boundaries of the lands reunited with the Russian state in the 17th century and the territory of the Ukrainian SSR when it left the Soviet Union.

The Bolsheviks treated the Russian people as inexhaustible material for their social experiments. They dreamt of a world revolution that would wipe out national states. That is why they were so generous in drawing borders and bestowing territorial gifts. It is no longer important what exactly the idea of the Bolshevik leaders who were chopping the country into pieces was. We can disagree about minor details, background and logics behind certain decisions. One fact is crystal clear: Russia was robbed, indeed.

When working on this article, I relied on open-source documents that contain well-known facts rather than on some secret records. The leaders of modern Ukraine and their external ”patrons“ prefer to overlook these facts. They do not miss a chance, however, both inside the country and abroad, to condemn ”the crimes of the Soviet regime,“ listing among them events with which neither the CPSU, nor the USSR, let alone modern Russia, have anything to do. At the same time, the Bolsheviks’ efforts to detach from Russia its historical territories are not considered a crime. And we know why: if they brought about the weakening of Russia, our ill-wishes are happy with that.

Of course, inside the USSR, borders between republics were never seen as state borders; they were nominal within a single country, which, while featuring all the attributes of a federation, was highly centralized – this, again, was secured by the CPSU’s leading role. But in 1991, all those territories, and, which is more important, people, found themselves abroad overnight, taken away, this time indeed, from their historical motherland.

What can be said to this? Things change: countries and communities are no exception. Of course, some part of a people in the process of its development, influenced by a number of reasons and historical circumstances, can become aware of itself as a separate nation at a certain moment. How should we treat that? There is only one answer: with respect!

You want to establish a state of your own: you are welcome! But what are the terms? I will recall the assessment given by one of the most prominent political figures of new Russia, first mayor of Saint Petersburg Anatoly Sobchak. As a legal expert who believed that every decision must be legitimate, in 1992, he shared the following opinion: the republics that were founders of the Union, having denounced the 1922 Union Treaty, must return to the boundaries they had had before joining the Soviet Union. All other territorial acquisitions are subject to discussion, negotiations, given that the ground has been revoked.

In other words, when you leave, take what you brought with you. This logic is hard to refute. I will just say that the Bolsheviks had embarked on reshaping boundaries even before the Soviet Union, manipulating with territories to their liking, in disregard of people’s views.

The Russian Federation recognized the new geopolitical realities: and not only recognized, but, indeed, did a lot for Ukraine to establish itself as an independent country. Throughout the difficult 1990’s and in the new millennium, we have provided considerable support to Ukraine. Whatever ”political arithmetic“ of its own Kiev may wish to apply, in 1991–2013, Ukraine’s budget savings amounted to more than USD 82 billion, while today, it holds on to the mere USD 1.5 billion of Russian payments for gas transit to Europe. If economic ties between our countries had been retained, Ukraine would enjoy the benefit of tens of billions of dollars.

Ukraine and Russia have developed as a single economic system over decades and centuries. The profound cooperation we had 30 years ago is an example for the European Union to look up to. We are natural complementary economic partners. Such a close relationship can strengthen competitive advantages, increasing the potential of both countries.

Ukraine used to possess great potential, which included powerful infrastructure, gas transportation system, advanced shipbuilding, aviation, rocket and instrument engineering industries, as well as world-class scientific, design and engineering schools. Taking over this legacy and declaring independence, Ukrainian leaders promised that the Ukrainian economy would be one of the leading ones and the standard of living would be among the best in Europe.

Today, high-tech industrial giants that were once the pride of Ukraine and the entire Union, are sinking. Engineering output has dropped by 42 per cent over ten years. The scale of deindustrialization and overall economic degradation is visible in Ukraine’s electricity production, which has seen a nearly two-time decrease in 30 years. Finally, according to IMF reports, in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, Ukraine’s GDP per capita had been below USD 4 thousand. This is less than in the Republic of Albania, the Republic of Moldova, or unrecognized Kosovo. Nowadays, Ukraine is Europe’s poorest country.

Who is to blame for this? Is it the people of Ukraine’s fault? Certainly not. It was the Ukrainian authorities who waisted and frittered away the achievements of many generations. We know how hardworking and talented the people of Ukraine are. They can achieve success and outstanding results with perseverance and determination. And these qualities, as well as their openness, innate optimism and hospitality have not gone. The feelings of millions of people who treat Russia not just well but with great affection, just as we feel about Ukraine, remain the same.

Until 2014, hundreds of agreements and joint projects were aimed at developing our economies, business and cultural ties, strengthening security, and solving common social and environmental problems. They brought tangible benefits to people – both in Russia and Ukraine. This is what we believed to be most important. And that is why we had a fruitful interaction with all, I emphasize, with all the leaders of Ukraine.

Even after the events in Kiev of 2014, I charged the Russian government to elaborate options for preserving and maintaining our economic ties within relevant ministries and agencies. However, there was and is still no mutual will to do the same. Nevertheless, Russia is still one of Ukraine’s top three trading partners, and hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians are coming to us to work, and they find a welcome reception and support. So that what the ”aggressor state“ is.

When the USSR collapsed, many people in Russia and Ukraine sincerely believed and assumed that our close cultural, spiritual and economic ties would certainly last, as would the commonality of our people, who had always had a sense of unity at their core. However, events – at first gradually, and then more rapidly – started to move in a different direction.

In essence, Ukraine’s ruling circles decided to justify their country’s independence through the denial of its past, however, except for border issues. They began to mythologize and rewrite history, edit out everything that united us, and refer to the period when Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union as an occupation. The common tragedy of collectivization and famine of the early 1930s was portrayed as the genocide of the Ukrainian people.

Radicals and neo-Nazis were open and more and more insolent about their ambitions. They were indulged by both the official authorities and local oligarchs, who robbed the people of Ukraine and kept their stolen money in Western banks, ready to sell their motherland for the sake of preserving their capital. To this should be added the persistent weakness of state institutions and the position of a willing hostage to someone else’s geopolitical will.

I recall that long ago, well before 2014, the U.S. and EU countries systematically and consistently pushed Ukraine to curtail and limit economic cooperation with Russia. We, as the largest trade and economic partner of Ukraine, suggested discussing the emerging problems in the Ukraine-Russia-EU format. But every time we were told that Russia had nothing to do with it and that the issue concerned only the EU and Ukraine. De facto Western countries rejected Russia’s repeated calls for dialogue.

Step by step, Ukraine was dragged into a dangerous geopolitical game aimed at turning Ukraine into a barrier between Europe and Russia, a springboard against Russia. Inevitably, there came a time when the concept of ”Ukraine is not Russia“ was no longer an option. There was a need for the ”anti-Russia“ concept which we will never accept.

The owners of this project took as a basis the old groundwork of the Polish-Austrian ideologists to create an ”anti-Moscow Russia“. And there is no need to deceive anyone that this is being done in the interests of the people of Ukraine. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth never needed Ukrainian culture, much less Cossack autonomy. In Austria-Hungary, historical Russian lands were mercilessly exploited and remained the poorest. The Nazis, abetted by collaborators from the OUN-UPA, did not need Ukraine, but a living space and slaves for Aryan overlords.

Nor were the interests of the Ukrainian people thought of in February 2014. The legitimate public discontent, caused by acute socio-economic problems, mistakes, and inconsistent actions of the authorities of the time, was simply cynically exploited. Western countries directly interfered in Ukraine’s internal affairs and supported the coup. Radical nationalist groups served as its battering ram. Their slogans, ideology, and blatant aggressive Russophobia have to a large extent become defining elements of state policy in Ukraine.

All the things that united us and bring us together so far came under attack. First and foremost, the Russian language. Let me remind you that the new ”Maidan“ authorities first tried to repeal the law on state language policy. Then there was the law on the ”purification of power“, the law on education that virtually cut the Russian language out of the educational process.

Lastly, as early as May of this year, the current president introduced a bill on ”indigenous peoples“ to the Rada. Only those who constitute an ethnic minority and do not have their own state entity outside Ukraine are recognized as indigenous. The law has been passed. New seeds of discord have been sown. And this is happening in a country, as I have already noted, that is very complex in terms of its territorial, national and linguistic composition, and its history of formation.

There may be an argument: if you are talking about a single large nation, a triune nation, then what difference does it make who people consider themselves to be – Russians, Ukrainians, or Belarusians. I completely agree with this. Especially since the determination of nationality, particularly in mixed families, is the right of every individual, free to make his or her own choice.

But the fact is that the situation in Ukraine today is completely different because it involves a forced change of identity. And the most despicable thing is that the Russians in Ukraine are being forced not only to deny their roots, generations of their ancestors but also to believe that Russia is their enemy. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the path of forced assimilation, the formation of an ethnically pure Ukrainian state, aggressive towards Russia, is comparable in its consequences to the use of weapons of mass destruction against us. As a result of such a harsh and artificial division of Russians and Ukrainians, the Russian people in all may decrease by hundreds of thousands or even millions.

Our spiritual unity has also been attacked. As in the days of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a new ecclesiastical has been initiated. The secular authorities, making no secret of their political aims, have blatantly interfered in church life and brought things to a split, to the seizure of churches, the beating of priests and monks. Even extensive autonomy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church while maintaining spiritual unity with the Moscow Patriarchate strongly displeases them. They have to destroy this prominent and centuries-old symbol of our kinship at all costs.

I think it is also natural that the representatives of Ukraine over and over again vote against the UN General Assembly resolution condemning the glorification of Nazism. Marches and torchlit processions in honor of remaining war criminals from the SS units take place under the protection of the official authorities. Mazepa, who betrayed everyone, Petliura, who paid for Polish patronage with Ukrainian lands, and Bandera, who collaborated with the Nazis, are ranked as national heroes. Everything is being done to erase from the memory of young generations the names of genuine patriots and victors, who have always been the pride of Ukraine.

For the Ukrainians who fought in the Red Army, in partisan units, the Great Patriotic War was indeed a patriotic war because they were defending their home, their great common Motherland. Over two thousand soldiers became Heroes of the Soviet Union. Among them are legendary pilot Ivan Kozhedub, fearless sniper, defender of Odessa and Sevastopol Lyudmila Pavlichenko, valiant guerrilla commander Sidor Kovpak. This indomitable generation fought, those people gave their lives for our future, for us. To forget their feat is to betray our grandfathers, mothers and fathers.

The anti-Russia project has been rejected by millions of Ukrainians. The people of Crimea and residents of Sevastopol made their historic choice. And people in the southeast peacefully tried to defend their stance. Yet, all of them, including children, were labeled as separatists and terrorists. They were threatened with ethnic cleansing and the use of military force. And the residents of Donetsk and Lugansk took up arms to defend their home, their language and their lives. Were they left any other choice after the riots that swept through the cities of Ukraine, after the horror and tragedy of 2 May 2014 in Odessa where Ukrainian neo-Nazis burned people alive making a new Khatyn out of it? The same massacre was ready to be carried out by the followers of Bandera in Crimea, Sevastopol, Donetsk and Lugansk. Even now they do not abandon such plans. They are biding their time. But their time will not come.

The coup d’état and the subsequent actions of the Kiev authorities inevitably provoked confrontation and civil war. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates that the total number of victims in the conflict in Donbas has exceeded 13,000. Among them are the elderly and children. These are terrible, irreparable losses.

Russia has done everything to stop fratricide. The Minsk agreements aimed at a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Donbas have been concluded. I am convinced that they still have no alternative. In any case, no one has withdrawn their signatures from the Minsk Package of Measures or from the relevant statements by the leaders of the Normandy format countries. No one has initiated a review of the United Nations Security Council resolution of 17 February 2015.

During official negotiations, especially after being reined in by Western partners, Ukraine’s representatives regularly declare their ”full adherence“ to the Minsk agreements, but are in fact guided by a position of ”unacceptability“. They do not intend to seriously discuss either the special status of Donbas or safeguards for the people living there. They prefer to exploit the image of the ”victim of external aggression“ and peddle Russophobia. They arrange bloody provocations in Donbas. In short, they attract the attention of external patrons and masters by all means.

Apparently, and I am becoming more and more convinced of this: Kiev simply does not need Donbas. Why? Because, firstly, the inhabitants of these regions will never accept the order that they have tried and are trying to impose by force, blockade and threats. And secondly, the outcome of both Minsk‑1 and Minsk‑2 which give a real chance to peacefully restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine by coming to an agreement directly with the DPR and LPR with Russia, Germany and France as mediators, contradicts the entire logic of the anti-Russia project. And it can only be sustained by the constant cultivation of the image of an internal and external enemy. And I would add – under the protection and control of the Western powers.

This is what is actually happening. First of all, we are facing the creation of a climate of fear in Ukrainian society, aggressive rhetoric, indulging neo-Nazis and militarising the country. Along with that we are witnessing not just complete dependence but direct external control, including the supervision of the Ukrainian authorities, security services and armed forces by foreign advisers, military ”development“ of the territory of Ukraine and deployment of NATO infrastructure. It is no coincidence that the aforementioned flagrant law on ”indigenous peoples“ was adopted under the cover of large-scale NATO exercises in Ukraine.

This is also a disguise for the takeover of the rest of the Ukrainian economy and the exploitation of its natural resources. The sale of agricultural land is not far off, and it is obvious who will buy it up. From time to time, Ukraine is indeed given financial resources and loans, but under their own conditions and pursuing their own interests, with preferences and benefits for Western companies. By the way, who will pay these debts back? Apparently, it is assumed that this will have to be done not only by today’s generation of Ukrainians but also by their children, grandchildren and probably great-grandchildren.

The Western authors of the anti-Russia project set up the Ukrainian political system in such a way that presidents, members of parliament and ministers would change but the attitude of separation from and enmity with Russia would remain. Reaching peace was the main election slogan of the incumbent president. He came to power with this. The promises turned out to be lies. Nothing has changed. And in some ways the situation in Ukraine and around Donbas has even degenerated.

In the anti-Russia project, there is no place either for a sovereign Ukraine or for the political forces that are trying to defend its real independence. Those who talk about reconciliation in Ukrainian society, about dialogue, about finding a way out of the current impasse are labelled as ”pro-Russian“ agents.

Again, for many people in Ukraine, the anti-Russia project is simply unacceptable. And there are millions of such people. But they are not allowed to raise their heads. They have had their legal opportunity to defend their point of view in fact taken away from them. They are intimidated, driven underground. Not only are they persecuted for their convictions, for the spoken word, for the open expression of their position, but they are also killed. Murderers, as a rule, go unpunished.

Today, the ”right“ patriot of Ukraine is only the one who hates Russia. Moreover, the entire Ukrainian statehood, as we understand it, is proposed to be further built exclusively on this idea. Hate and anger, as world history has repeatedly proved this, are a very shaky foundation for sovereignty, fraught with many serious risks and dire consequences.

All the subterfuges associated with the anti-Russia project are clear to us. And we will never allow our historical territories and people close to us living there to be used against Russia. And to those who will undertake such an attempt, I would like to say that this way they will destroy their own country.

The incumbent authorities in Ukraine like to refer to Western experience, seeing it as a model to follow. Just have a look at how Austria and Germany, the USA and Canada live next to each other. Close in ethnic composition, culture, in fact sharing one language, they remain sovereign states with their own interests, with their own foreign policy. But this does not prevent them from the closest integration or allied relations. They have very conditional, transparent borders. And when crossing them the citizens feel at home. They create families, study, work, do business. Incidentally, so do millions of those born in Ukraine who now live in Russia. We see them as our own close people.

Russia is open to dialogue with Ukraine and ready to discuss the most complex issues. But it is important for us to understand that our partner is defending its national interests but not serving someone else’s, and is not a tool in someone else’s hands to fight against us.

We respect the Ukrainian language and traditions. We respect Ukrainians’ desire to see their country free, safe and prosperous.

I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia. Our spiritual, human and civilizational ties formed for centuries and have their origins in the same sources, they have been hardened by common trials, achievements and victories. Our kinship has been transmitted from generation to generation. It is in the hearts and the memory of people living in modern Russia and Ukraine, in the blood ties that unite millions of our families. Together we have always been and will be many times stronger and more successful. For we are one people.

Today, these words may be perceived by some people with hostility. They can be interpreted in many possible ways. Yet, many people will hear me. And I will say one thing – Russia has never been and will never be ”anti-Ukraine“. And what Ukraine will be – it is up to its citizens to decide.

Negative impact of NATO on Serbia & Montenegro and on the world

July 12, 2021

Negative impact of NATO on Serbia & Montenegro and on the world

by Batko Milacic – Independent analyst – for The Saker Blog

After Yugoslavia’s (Serbia) President Slobodan Milosevic refused to accept the so-called Rambouillet Agreement in 1999, which in reality was NATO ultimatum that demanded from Serbia and Montenegro to allow NATO troops to occupy the province of Kosovo as well as that NATO can build bases in Serbia, and that all NATO personnel have diplomatic immunity, which means that they could not be held criminally responsible in Serbia and Montenegro, NATO aggression was launched without any authorization from the United Nations. The intervention was called humanitarian under the pretext of stopping the persecution of Albanians. Western media machine led against Serbs constantly negative media campaign. In media presentations by CNN and the BBC, the Serbs were the modern Nazis and Albanians the Jews. After they successfully presented the Serbs as the bad guys, NATO had a free hand to open aggression and excessive force. Western claims about tens of thousands of killed Albanians later turned out to be completely false. The real death toll in Kosovo before NATO aggression was revealed after the war and it was around 2,000 with the majority of the killings committed by the armed terrorist-separatist group, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The KLA, previously classified by Washington as a terrorist organization, was elevated in the run-up to the war as the sole legitimate representative of Kosovo’s Albanian population. The KLA, working in close collaboration with US sponsors, sought to create as much violence and death as possible in order to pave the way to Western intervention.

The war against Serbia and Montenego lasted for 78 days. Hospitals, factories and schools were destroyed, along with bridges, roads and military infrastructure. The airstrikes killed around 2,500 people and wounded another 12,500. The bombing destroyed and damaged 25,000 housing units, 470 km of roads and 595 kilometers of railroad were disabled. 14 airports, 19 hospitals, 20 health centers, 18 kindergartens, 69 schools, 176 cultural monuments and 44 bridges were damaged while 38 were destroyed, according to Serbian estimates.(1) During the bombing, 2, 300 air strikes were carried out on the 995 facilities across the country. NATO launched 1,300 cruise missiles, bombed Serbia and Montenegro with 37,000 “cluster bombs”, using prohibited ammunition with depleted uranium. The decision to bomb Serbia and Montenegro was made for the first time in history, without the approval of the UN Security Council. One of the NATO airstrikes used laser-guided bombs to take out railway bridge in southern Serbia, killing at least 10 people on a passenger train. A deliberate attack on the Serbian TV broadcaster RTS in Belgrade took lives of 16 civilian workers. This was the first case that the media house was declared a legitimate military goal. In one of the most provocative acts of the war, NATO carried out a strike on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, killing three men. Washington claimed that the bombing was an “accident”.(2) The “humanitarian” intervention to halt “ethnic cleansing” has resulted in massive ethnic cleansing. After NATO arrived, 250,000 Serbs were expelled from Kosovo. (3)

Also, the 2004 unrest in Kosovo is the worst ethnic violence case in Kosovo since the end of the 1998–99 conflict. The violence erupted in the partitioned town of Mitrovica, leaving hundreds wounded and at least 14 people dead. The unrest was precipitated by misleading reports in the Kosovo Albanian media which falsely claimed that three Kosovo Albanian boys had drowned after being chased into the Ibar River by a group of Kosovo Serbs. That is why Albanians are embarking on a coordinated action against Serbs, in which they have committed numerous crimes. Given the magnitude of the action, it is clear that this ethnic cleansing was planned and not spontaneous. Here, too, the question must be asked whether it is possible that NATO intelligence services did not have operational information that Albanians were preparing attacks on Serbs, with the aim of ethnic cleansing of Kosovo. The answer is obvious, especially if we keep in mind that NATO forces have peacefully observed the ethnic cleansing of Serbs, even if their primary task in Kosovo is to maintain peace and order.

Years later, International courts in Pristina have prosecuted several people who attacked several Serbian Orthodox churches, handing down jail sentences ranging from 21 months to 16 years. However, these are extremely small numbers of people and with small penalties. The absolute majority of criminals were not punished. A part of the destroyed churches have since been rebuilt by the Government of Serbia and in cooperation with the Serbian Orthodox Church and the UN mission in Kosovo. However, almost none of the exiled Serbs returned to Kosovo. It is important to note that NATO forces have peacefully observed the ethnic cleansing of Serbs, even if their primary task in Kosovo is to maintain peace and order.

It is clear to every objective analyst that NATO carried out aggression in 1999 against Serbia and Montenegro. Everything that happened after 1999 proved that NATO’s primary goal was not the protection of human rights, but the abuse of this idea for classical geopolitical possession of strategic space, in this case, the southern Serbian province of Kosovo. The Serbian army fought heroically in Kosovo and it was not defeated on the battlefield. The withdrawal of the Serbian army from Kosovo was caused by an open threat from the West that it will exert over Serbia humanitarian destruction of the whole country. When the destruction of infrastructure did not gave results, NATO began hitting hospitals, trains full of passengers and throwing away so-called graphite bombs that destroyed the electrical network and left entire cities without electricity. Cluster bombs were thrown in the cities, and bombardment of depleted uranium kills Serbs even today.

NATO forces continued aggression on the rest of Serbia, by other means. Immediately after the bombing the regime change operation was supported, after which embassies of Western countries and international organizations that the West controlled began to “reform Serbia”. Shortly after the arrival of pro-Western authorities in Serbia, in October 2000, “the reform of the Serbian army” began. The majority of proven war officers were retired, while the number of soldiers was so low, to the level, at which the security of the country was seriously threatened. Through its agents of influence, the West played a major role in separating Montenegro from Serbia. High and primary education were, and still are literally destroyed, media has been dominated by foreign corporations. Yet again, two decades later, despite its propaganda and corruption of the elite, NATO is still undesirable among the ordinary people. Montenegro became a member of NATO by political violence, against the will of the citizens. Serbia and Republic of Srpska continue to resist. You can see more about NATO’s activities in the world in an excellent documentary

Ukraine: Fascism’s toe-hold in Europe

Ukraine: Fascism’s toe-hold in Europe

April 21, 2021

The tacit support given by the centre-left to the installation of the regime in Kiev should give them cause for concern

By Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

Politics in the Ukraine can only be understood by reference to its history and ethnic and cultural make-up – a make-up criss-crossed by lasting and entrenched ethnic, cultural and political differences. The country has long been split into the northern and western Ukraine, where Ukrainian is the official and everyday lingua franca, and the more industrialised regions of the east and south where a mixture of Russian speaking Ukrainians and ethnic Russians reside. Additionally, there has long been Hungarian and Romanian settlement in the west of the country, and a particularly important Polish presence, whose unofficial capital, Lviv, was once the Polish city of Lwow. The Russian Orthodox Church is the predominant form of Christianity in the East, whilst in the west the Christian tradition tends towards Roman Catholicism.

Politically the Eastern and Southern Oblasts (Regions) which includes the cities and centres of heavy industry, Kharkov, Lugansk, Donetsk, Zaporozhe, Nikolayev, Kherson, Simferopol and Odessa, have tended to tilt towards Russia whilst the western regions have had a more western orientation. This has traditionally been reflected in the electoral division of the country. There is no party which can be considered ‘national’ in this respect, except ironically, the old Communist party, which of course is now banned. The major regional parties have been the Fatherland party of Yulia Tymoshenko (since renamed) and the former head of government, Arseniy Yatsenyuk as well as the ultra-nationalists predominantly in the west of the country, and the deposed Victor Yanukovich’s Party of the Regions in the East (now defunct) along with its junior partner in the coalition, the Ukrainian Communist Party.

However, what is new since the coup in February 2014 there has been the emergence from the shadows of ultra-nationalist (fascist) parties and movements, with both parliamentary and extra-parliamentary (i.e.,military) wings. In the main ‘Svoboda’ or Freedom Party, and the paramilitaries of ‘Right Sector’ (Fuhrer: Dimitry Yarosh) who spearheaded the coup in Kiev; these have been joined or changed their names to inter alia the Radical Party, and Patriots of the Ukraine; this in addition to the punitive right-wing militias, such as the Azov Regiment responsible for numerous atrocities in the Don Bas.

Suffice it to say, however, that these political movements and parties did not emerge from nowhere.

This far-right tradition has been historically very strong in the western Ukraine. The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) was first established in 1929 and brought together, war veterans, student fraternities, far-right groups and various other disoriented socially and political flotsam and jetsam under its banner. The OUN took its ideological position from the writings of one, Dymtro Dontsov, who, like Mussolini had been a socialist, and who was instrumental in creating an indigenous Ukrainian fascism based upon the usual mish-mash of writings and theories including Friedrich Nietzsche, Georges Sorel, and Charles Maurras. Dontsov also translated the works of Hitler and Mussolini into Ukrainian.

The OUN was committed to ethnic purity, and relied on violence, assassination and terrorism, not least against other Ukrainians, to achieve its goal of a totalitarian and homogeneous nation-state. Assorted enemies and impediments to this goal were Communists, Russians, Poles, and of course – Jews. Strongly oriented toward the Axis powers OUN founder Evhen Konovalets (1891-1938) stated that his movement was ‘’waging war against mixed marriages’’, with Poles, Russians and Jews, the latter which he described as ‘’foes of our national rebirth’’. Indeed, rabid anti-Semitism has been a leitmotif in the history of Ukrainian fascism, which we will return to below.

Konovelts himself was assassinated by a KGB hit-man in 1938 after which the movement split into two wings: (OUN-m) under Andrii Melnyk and, more importantly for our purposes (OUN-b) under Stepan Bandera. Both wings committed to a new fascist Europe. Upon the German invasion in June 1941, the OUN-b attempted to establish a Ukrainian satellite state loyal to Nazi Germany. Stepan Lenkavs’kyi the then chief propagandist of the OUN-b ‘government’ advocated the physical destruction of Ukrainian Jewry. OUN-b’s ‘Prime Minister’ Yaroslav Stets’ko, and deputy to Bandera supported, ‘’the destruction of the Jews and the expedience of bringing German methods of exterminating Jewry to Ukraine, barring their assimilation and the like.’’

During the early days of the rapid German advance into the Soviet Union there were some 140 pogroms in the western Ukraine claiming the lives of between 13000-35000 people (Untermensch, in fascist terminology). In 1943-1944 OUN-b and its armed wing the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (Ukrainska povstanska armia – UPA) carried out large scale ethnic cleansing resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands; this was a particularly gruesome affair in Volhynia where some 90000 Poles and thousands of Jews were murdered. The campaign of the UPA continued well into the 1950s until it was virtually wiped out by the Soviet forces.

It should be said that during this early period Bandera himself had been incarcerated by the German authorities up until his release in 1944, since unlike Bandera they were not enamoured of an independent Ukrainian state but wanted total control. Bandera was only released at this late date since the German high command was endeavouring to build up a pro-German Ukrainian quisling military force to hold up the remorseless advance of the Red Army. Also pursuant to this it is also worth noting that during this period the 14th Galizian Waffen SS Division, a military Ukrainian collaborationist formation established by Heinrich Himmler, was formed to fight the Soviet forces, and yet another being the Nachtingal brigade; (1) this unit was integrated into the 14th Galizian in due course. It is also interesting to note, that every year, and up to 2014 commemoration ceremony including veterans of this unit takes place with a march through Lviv in an evening torchlight parade – genuine Nazi pastiche. The flag of this unit is not dissimilar to the Peugeot logo, the standing lion, and can be seen at ultra-nationalist rallies as well as football matches involving Lviv Karparti FC. There are also numerous statues of Bandera across Ukraine, and since the 2014 coup even street names bearing the same name. Significantly the UPA have now received political rehabilitation from the Kiev Junta, with Bandera declared a hero of the Ukraine and the UPA rebranded as ‘freedom fighters.’ One particularly splendid statue of Bandera stands proudly in Lviv and is usually adorned with flowers.

Other novel attractions the capital of Banderestan include ‘Jewish themed restaurants’ one such is Kryivka (Hideout or Lurking Hole) where guests have a choice of dishes and whose dinning walls are decorated with larger than life portraits of Bandera, the toilet with Russian and Jewish anecdotes. At another Jewish themed restaurant guests are offered black hats of the sort worn by Hasidim. The menu lists no prices for the dishes; instead, one is required to haggle over highly inflated prices ‘’in the Jewish fashion’’. Yes, it’s all good clean fun in Lviv. Anti-Semitism also sells. Out of 19 book vendors on the streets of central Lviv, 16 were openly selling anti-Semitic literature. About 70% of the anti-Semitic publications in Ukraine are being published by and educational institution called MUAP (The Inter-Regional Academy of Personnel Management). MAUP is a large, well-connected and increasingly powerful organization funded from outside anti-Semite sources, and also connected to White Supremacist groups in the USA and to the David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

(It is one of the ironies of history that if the Zionists in AIPAC and the Washington neo-con think tanks, and the Labour Party Friends of Israel, were so concerned about anti-Semitism, they might try looking for it in Lviv. They wouldn’t have to search very far.)

Present day neo-Nazi groupings in Ukraine – Svoboda (Freedom) party and Right Sector – have been the direct descendants from the prior ideological cesspool. Heading Svoboda is Oleh Tyahnybok. Although these are separate organizations Tyahnybok’s deputy Yuriy Mykhalchyshyn is the main link between Svoboda’s official wing and neo-Nazi militias like Right Sector. The Social-Nationalist party as it was formerly known chose as its logo an amended version of the Wolfsangel, a symbol used by many SS divisions on the Eastern front during the war who in 2004 a celebration of the OUN-UPA, stated in 2004, that ‘’they fought against the Muscovite, Germans, Jews and other scum who wanted to take away our Ukrainian state.’’ And further that ‘’Ukraine was ruled by a Muscovite-Jewish mafia.’’ Tyahnybok came under pressure from the then President, Yuschenko, to retract his inflammatory statements, which he did, but he then retracted the retraction!

Given the fact that Svoboda was, apart from its stamping grounds in the west, making little national electoral headway, it was essential to clean up its image and deny its Nazi past. But this was always going to be difficult since the members of such groups cannot help the unscripted outbursts and faux pas which they tend to make and which reveals their true colours. For example, following the conviction and sentencing of John Demjanjuk to five years in jail for his role as an accessory to the murder of 27,900 people at the Sobibor death camp, Tyahnybok travelled to Germany and met up with Demjanjuk’s lawyer, presenting the death camp guard as a hero, a victim of persecution ‘’who is fighting for truth’’.

And so it goes on. We can therefore infer that this organization is inveterate fascist. More disturbing Svoboda has links with the so-called Alliance of National European Movements, which includes: Nationaldemokraterna of Sweden, Front Nationale of France, Fiamma Tricolore in Italy, the Hungarian Jobbik and the Belgian National Front. More importantly Svoboda held several ministerial portfolios in the Kiev administration, and Right Sector swaggers around Kiev streets with impunity, and/or are being drafted into a National Guard to deal with the separatist movements in the east, or to beat down anyone who doesn’t conform to their Ayran racial and political ideals.

One would have thought that this mutating revolution in the Ukraine would have drawn attention of the centre-left to the fact that fascism had gained a vital beachhead in Europe, and that the danger signals should be flashing. But not a bit of it; a perusal of the Guardian newspaper quickly reveals that their chief concern has been with a non-existent ‘Russian threat’. One of their reporters – or old friend, Luke Harding -described Right Sector as an ‘’eccentric group of people with unpleasant right-wing views.’’ Priceless! This must rank as the political understatement of the century. In fact, the Guardian was simply reiterating the US-imposed neo-conservative foreign policy. But naturally, this is par for the course.

  1. The Nachtingal brigade, which was later incorporated into the SS Galizien, took part in a three-day massacre of the Jewish population of Lvov (now Lviv) from 30 June 1941. Roman Shukhevych was the commander of the Nachtingal and later, in 1943, became commander of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (the “Banderivtsy”, or UPA/UIA[5] ), armed henchmen of the fascist Stepan Bandera, who after the war pretended that they had fought both Nazis and Communists. Members of the division are also accused of having murdered some 800 residents of the Polish village of Huta Pieniacka and 44 civilians in the village of Chłaniów.
Bandera statue.

Stepan Bandera statue in Lviv

Constantinople & the world – the real story

Constantinople & the world – the real story

October 16, 2020

by Giorgi Nektarios Selimos for the Saker Blog

Please read my words & think about what has happened.
Normal people are not to blame here it is the sin of Greed & Lust for money & power that is responsible. If you truly believe in Christ nothing is lost. But after you read this you must decide what to do as you will know the Truth & God will not hold you blameless.

The Throne of the Pope is an interesting case as there is no evidence in the Bible or any Historical religious texts there was ever 1 single Bishop that should or did preside over all other churches in Christianity.
The Word Pope in the context as the Universal leader is never mentioned by any of the Apostles in the Bible or any Bishops from the 5 churches of the Apostles during the Time of Christ on the Earth.

The 1st Bishop of the church in Rome was Pius 1 (142-155) & he never mentioned the Word Pope or ever referred to being the Universal leader of Christians during his service to the Lord & the people of Rome.

For the 1st 1000 years after Christ the Church was essentially one body that had 5 Historical Patriarchal Centres in Strategic locations as advised to by Christ himself & the Mutual agreement of all of the 12 apostles.
As seen in the Bible the Apostles worked as a team with their churches & consulted each other on troubling issues from time to time & were always in full communion with each other.

This is not to say that there was no differences as is clearly exhibited in the Bible when Apostle Paul argues with Peter for not wanting to except ALL people into the Church as Christians. Paul argued with Peter that Jewish laws & customs should NOT be applied to non Jews in order for them to be accepted in the Church. Peter thought that EVERYONE HAD to follow Jewish Laws & customs to be accepted by Christ.

In the end the Apostles agreed with Paul & Peter accepted the decision & so Christianity was able to be spread to the whole world. This documented event in the Bible clearly shows that NO ONE Apostle was the Supreme leader, and that all Apostles worked together in their faith to spread the Words of Christ.

From the Original Christian churches in Jerusalem, Antioch(Syria), Rome(Italy), Alexandria(Egypt), & Constantinople(Greece) the Apostles Spread the word of God. But were persecuted & tortured & murdered by Romans & non Believers .

In 306 Constantine the Roman Emperor had fought his way to power in Rome & had managed to become Emperor for all the Roman Empire. Early on his reign Constantine was a beneficiary of a miracle of Christ
( Battle of the Milvian Bridge) & became a firm believer in Christ & Christ’s teachings & ended the persecution of all Christians.

In Honour of his new found faith in Christ, Constantine decided to built a new Capital for the Roman Empire in the Eastern predominately Christian Greek area of the Roman Empire. He would name this new spectacular city Constantinople & build the Worlds Grandest Church there ” The Church of the Apostles” or “Ayia Sophia’ it was laden with Gold, Marble, jewels, & the finest materials in all mankind it was spectacular in appearance & magnificent in stature. The Russian Royal Delegation would later describe it to Prince Vladimir of Russia as: “When we entered this place of worship we did not know if we were in Heaven or on Earth”

Emperor Constantine would seek to Unite his empire in Christian faith under this Orthodox Church.
In fact Constantine was incredibly successful & Christianity flourished under his rule.
In 325 Constantine established the Council of Nicea , where all Religious matters of the 5 original Apostolic Churches were to be worked out together . Emperor Constantine set up a system where all the Bishops of each church would work together under the Orthodox Church & have full communion with each other.

It was a good democratic system where no one Bishop or Politician could rule alone & where the Emperor would still retain authority of the whole Roman Empire.

Constantine wisely understood that in order for the Roman Empire to remain Strong he needed to keep the Church strong unlike politics this was the one way he could unite the citizens of the Empire in a good manner. To be certain, differences did occur in some religious matters from time to time but ultimately were resolved or not allowed to interfere with the continuation of the Church. Such was a dispute with the Nicene creed, the Roman church Bishop had disagreed with the Orthodox church Bishops of the East on this. The Roman Bishop refused to agree with any of the other Bishops on this issue. So they just defered the matter & nothing was officially changed until the Great Schism of the Roman church.

During his reign, Emperor Constantine built St Peters Basilica in Rome directly over the Apostle Peter’s Tomb. This was done so as to greatly honour the Apostle Peter who had spent much of his time Preaching in Rome .
It took 30 years to build starting in 326. It was a grand Church but not close in stature to the Headquarters Church Constantine had built in the Eastern part of the empire in his new capital of Constantinople.

After Emperor Constantine’s death his successor’s would succumb to political pressure from the Rich & Old Guard Romans who wanted to shift government power back to Rome.
The Political Elite had seen how Constantine had managed to gain peace, great power & riches through the Unification of the empire under one church & most certainly were thinking of a way that they too could emulate his success. But they did not want to operate from this new Roman Empire Capital of Constantinople.

They were desperate to find a way to make Rome the power centre once again. The Great Orthodox Church that Constantine had built & united his empire in Christianity with, was caught in the middle of this political struggle with Western Roman elites & a lot of power & money was at stake. Not to mention many Roman politicians still found it difficult not worshipping the Old Roman Idols from previous Emperors & retaining the mentality of worshiping any Idol they believed would make them rich & powerful.
They were not too concerned about true salvation, much like many of today’s politicians who clearly pretend to be whatever they need to be in order to get elected. They were more interested in Power & money & sex. At the same time the Church in Rome also got caught up in this political power struggle.

Between religious disagreement with the four original eastern orthodox churches & the political pressure to undo Constantinople as the Roman capital, The Roman Church & Bishops were greatly effected & started to break away from the other 4 remaining Patriarchs of the Original church.

During this time the Roman Church bishops suddenly & mysteriously produced
“The Donation of Constantine Decree” a brilliantly forged Imperial Decree in which the now dead Emperor Constantine transfers authority over Rome & all the Western part of the Empire to the Pope .

In this fake decree Constantine purportedly agreed his throne would only retain Imperial Authority in the Eastern part of the Roman empire & rule only from his new imperial capital of Constantinople & was also agreed the Pope of the Roman Church could have control of the rest of the Empire.
The Forged Imperial Decree claimed it was a gift to Pope Sylvester 1 for teaching Emperor Constantine about Christianity , baptizing him, & curing him of Leprosy.
This Forged Decree continued to be of great use to the Roman Church & was used by successive Popes to solidify power acquire more territory & gain more converts.
This document was also used in the Roman Empire as a Propaganda tool for the Roman Church to claim Universal Supremacy over the remaining 4 unified apostolic orthodox churches.

The 1st Pope who had the audacity to use this Forged document in an official act against all the other churches was Pope Leo IX who in an officially recorded letter to the Patriarch of Constantinople in 1054 declared to the remaining 4 Churches of the Apostles that Indeed it was the Roman Church who clearly had Universal Supremacy over all Christians as was the proof under the seal of the Emperor Constantine as well as under a loosely translated reference (Matthew:16:18 ) made in the Bible. The Roman Church then demanded that everyone bow down to them & except this for fact.

When the Orthodox Patriarchs refused, the Roman Pope split away & officially created the Roman Catholic Church independent of the Orthodox churches, thus creating new religious decrees such as celibacy for clergy, no divorce, & the new revelation that the Pope was the infallible Vicar of Christ as well as numerous other new rules that were never part of the original church.

This was the year 1054 & the Roman Church had now officially split with the remaining 4 Original Apostolic Orthodox churches.
It was to be known as the great Schism.
The Roman Church was now officially alone & the 1st church in History of Christianity to split from the remaining Apostolic Orthodox churches.

It was now the 4 Original Orthodox Patriarchal Churches remaining as one, just as they still remain almost 1,000 years later today. The 4 remaining church’s managed to come to an agreement together & agreed not to bow down to the self proclaimed Universal Supremacy of the Roman Pope & all his new rules. It was only due to Christ’s miraculous enlightenment that the Orthodox Bishops did not believe the lies of the Pope & his forged decree.
The Original Apostolic Churches were not lost.

Eventually Pope Pius in 1453 admitted that the decree was a forgery & just as it had suddenly appeared, it was suddenly never seen again & nor ever mentioned or used again by the Roman Church & Pope.
By this time though the Muslim Armies of the East had gained horrific strength & were ravaging the Eastern Parts of the Roman Empire. This area was precisely where the majority of Christians still lived & was the heart of the remaining Apostolic Orthodox Churches.

In 1421 the Officials in Constantinople sent word to the Rome that they needed more help from the Roman Soldiers stationed in the West as the Muslims were barbarically slaughtering people & forcing them to refute Christianity & convert to Islam under the sharp blades of Muslim swords.
Constantinople was clearly still part of the Roman Empire but over the years had developed strained relations with the Roman Government & the Roman Church. The Orthodox Church in Constantinople had become a sore spot for many Roman political & Church leaders. The request for military assistance reached Rome but It was decided by the Roman Government & Pope not to send help to the East & let the current army reserves there try & fend for themselves.

The Emperor & the Pope sensing political opportunity to be finally rid of Constantinople & have Rome return to its rightful position of glory decided to fortify the Western empire & protect it at all costs , the Muslims were never able to get through to Rome & the Popes Roman Church was unscathed.

In Constantinople & the Eastern part of the Empire this resulted in the Unholy Slaughter & Barbaric killings of Bishops, Priests & Christian men of all ages, Women were raped & brutally murdered, children taken into slavery & Christian Churches destroyed or turned into Muslim Mosques including the Grand Church Constantine had built “the Ayia Sophia” which now has once again has been converted from museum to a mosque in 2020 .

The previous Pope John Paul was the 1st & only Pope to acknowledge this great sin against humanity & ask forgiveness from the Orthodox believers in Christ for what the Roman Church did to their ancestors.

This Mass slaughter of the Eastern Roman Empire had now resulted in the Roman Church being the only functioning church left in the Empire. With the Muslims effectively killing all Orthodox Bishops & priests & not allowing any remaining survivors freedom of religion the Roman Catholic church was poised to become the #1 Church in the world.

From this point on the Roman Catholic church did not look back & eventually embarked on the infamous Catholic Crusades & Witch Burnings. The Pope was finally free to spread the Roman brand of religion to the world unopposed.
Catholicism became the #1 Church & religion in the World & The Pope’s Dream of undisputed power in all matters was now realized, all thanks to the mass slaughter of the Orthodox Christians by the Muslims.

It was the Russians & Ukrainians during this bleak time for the Orthodox church that were able to keep the 4 Original Apostolic Churches memory & Traditions alive & in fact rebuild many exact replicas of these great churches in their countries including the Ayia Sophia which was rebuilt in Kiev, Ukraine & still stands to this day as an Orthodox church.

The Muslims were never successful in Conquering Russia & the Orthodox Church flourished in Russia. Attaining still to this day the highest number of churches per capita in the world. Even during the times of communism this fact did not change.
That is how strong the Orthodox faith was & is today. The Orthodox Church of Constantinople where Constantine had ended Christian persecutions & started the flourishing of the Christianity movement was gone…..

But the faith remained.

The Roman Church had now decided it was time to make St Peters Basilica the New centre of Christianity. Pope Julius II embarked on a grand reconstruction plan. Pope Julius II began by destroying Constantine’s original Church of St Peter & rebuilding one on top of the original Vatican grave yard .
Pope Julius also had All the original Orthodox Crosses from St Peter’s Church removed & replaced with new Latin crosses. The Pope then gloriously installed the famous Heliopolis Obelisk courtesy of the evil & debaucherous Roman Emperor Caligula.

This became a Grand church and was thereafter widely publicized as the Greatest Church on earth & the new centre of Christianity.
Later on in the mid 1930’s the Dictator & Ally of Adolf Hitler, Mussolini would add a Grand Monumental Avenue leading to the Piazza. Only the Pope is allowed to celebrate Catholic Mass on this Alter & no one else.

I want to make it absolutely clear that the Roman Catholic believers are not at fault for this lust for power & money in the history of the Roman Catholic Church. Most Catholic believers don’t know any of this.

The Roman Catholic worshipers clearly believe in Christ, but unfortunately have been deceived by there church leaders & Roman politicians over the centuries. All in a lustful quest for power & money.
I believe that it is possible some Popes wanted to stop, but the deceit had gone too far & rather than expose it & risk dangerous consequences they probably asked Christ for forgiveness & just carried on the lies.

Other Popes mysteriously died or were removed .
I truly do admire the previous Pope John Paul for his courage to acknowledge the great Schism & ask for forgiveness. I think he was a good man & the only Pope who came close to reconciling with the Original Church. But Tragically by the time he had gotten to this point he died.

I am worried that many Catholics are starting to lose their faith in Christ because of all the repeated sexual scandals & of their clergy & the court ordered payouts forcing many churches into bankruptcy as well as many of the negative movies being made about their church.
The Catholic believers must understand that this has nothing to do with Christ & it is all the doings of their Leaders.
I want them to know that they were once part of the Orthodox Church & they should consider coming back rather than giving up.

The Pendulum Swings Again: the Desecration of Hagia Sophia

Source

The Pendulum Swings Again: the Desecration of Hagia Sophia ...

Stephen Karganovic

July 18, 2020

The Turkish President should have consulted the prophecies of St. Paisius of the Holy Mountain rather than whatever kitaps he was reading before embarking on his risky provocation. In plain Greek, several decades ago St. Paisius was educating Turkish leaders about the sequence of events that the reconversion of Hagia Sophia would set in motion: “When the cathedral of Hagia Sophia is turned into a mosque, Turkey will disintegrate”. He also added reassuringly, for the benefit of his audience, that “I will not see that happen, but you will.” The saint left us for better pastures in 1994. As a footnote to his vision, he also noted that in the ensuing turmoil Constantinople would remain under Russian control for some time before again being returned to Greece. When and if that happens, it does not exactly sound from the tenor of his prophesy that it will revert to just being a museum.

If Mr Erdogan was so keen on tinkering with the status of this major Orthodox holy place, instead of pursuing short-sighted electoral advantage in a state presumably without a future, he should have done better had he chosen – as Americans are fond of saying –to be on the right side of history. He could have done that simply by returning the temple to the religious community which erected it and to which it rightfully belongs.

But, of course, it would be fatuous to expect from a mere politician with declining ratings a gesture of such dazzling magnanimity.

Hagia Sophia was built and consecrated as an Orthodox place of worship in the 6th century by the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I. It is a structure of great architectural beauty and even greater symbolic value for world Orthodoxy, as its prime cathedral. Upon the conquest of Constantinople and demise of the Byzantine empire in 1453, it was turned into a mosque by the commander of the conquering army, sultan Mehmed II, and functioned in that capacity until 1934, when the reformist President of the Turkish Republic, Kemal Ataturk, made it a museum. The magnificent structure is under the protection of UNESCO (for whatever that is worth) and is the most visited historical site in Turkey.

What is the significance of the second forced reconversion of the Orthodox cathedral of Hagia Sophia into a mosque? It has to do entirely with internal Turkish politics. It is part of a larger design of the current rulers to reconfigure Turkey back from a secular republic to a resurgent neo-Ottoman state, reinforced with a strong religious identity. Given that the local economy is in poor shape and that the government’s foreign policy initiatives have been generally unsuccessful across the board, descending to religious demagoguery is a more or less natural and predictable recourse. For Orthodox Christians and, hopefully, civilized people of all backgrounds this crude reassertion of the right of conquest, targeting not material goods suitable for pillage, but the spiritual patrimony of one of the great world religious traditions, is nothing short of an act which constitutes the fusion of vandalism and blasphemy.

Of course, it could also be said with some justice, this issue is larger than Erdogan and will outlive him. It is clothed in the garb of a regular court order invalidating Ataturk’s earlier decree, and it was confirmed by a cabinet decision after a meeting lasting all of 17 minutes. As far as provocations go, it could also be argued that in terms of bellicosity it is far less dangerous than shooting down a Russian fighter jet in Syria. Also, as worldly logic might have it, the Hagia Sophia ceased to function as a consecrated church and has not served as consecrated Orthodox Cathedral for more than 550 years. Even before the Ottomans arrived it was ransacked and desecrated during the Western Fourth Crusade, and was then turned into a Roman Catholic cathedral during the Latin occupation of the city. Its history has been long and harsh. A friend of mine has argued that “frankly at least as a mosque it will serve as place of worship and fulfil a spiritual and religious function and not be a tourist attraction, which is a greater desecration, literally speaking.”

“Buildings are buildings,” he has asserted, “they are monuments to faith but no substitute for living faith or a living church which is the Body of Christ. [In the large sense, he does have a point there.] This will only happen when Hagia Sophia is reconsecrated, Orthodox Liturgy is held, the sacred mysteries enacted, and of course when the Eucharist is served once again.”

All these, arguably, are good points. But they miss the emotions this symbolically charged act (going to its core, beyond short-term and short-sighted electoral consideration) evokes among the Balkan Orthodox who still have vivid collective memories of Ottomanism (never mind its neo- variety that is being reinvented today). Nor do they fully take into account the emotions of the Russian Orthodox believers whose faith goes back, in a direct historical line, to that very spot in Constantinople where Vladimir’s bedazzled emissaries, while observing the religious services and magnificent decorations, wondered whether they were on earth or in heaven.

So besides the purely practical and realpolitik aspects to this, there is also a much deeper dimension that challenges Orthodoxy to its core. Its chief representative in Constantinople, the “Ecumenical Patriarch” with a plethora of impressive titles but hardly any flock, a man who few would be so naïve as to regard as a designated vessel of the Holy Spirit, but who certainly is an agent and close collaborator of Western intelligence services to whom he owes his precarious position in an increasingly hostile environment, has been resoundingly silent. Shockingly, Patriarch Bartholomew has been hiding in his Fanar rabbit hole while controversy over what should be his main cathedral has been raging all around him. He is more concerned, one imagines, about avoiding a potential indictment for involvement in the Turkish coup attempt several years ago than in reclaiming the jewel of his ecclesiastical heritage or at least protesting for the record its renewed desecration. The setting up of a false and heretical “church” in the Ukraine under his patronage was apparently a matter he thought more pressing and deserving of his public attention that an outrage to his communion being perpetrated literally in his back yard.

رسائل «الفتح الثاني»: آيا صوفيا بوابة إردوغان إلى «العالميّة»

رسائل «الفتح الثاني»: آيا صوفيا بوابة إردوغان إلى «العالميّة»
ما يحاوله إردوغان هو الانتقاص من هالة مصطفى كمال أتاتورك شخصيّاً (أ ف ب )

الأخبار

محمد نور الدين 

الإثنين 13 تموز 2020

لا تشبه «لحظة آيا صوفيا» أي حادثة أخرى في تاريخ سلطة حزب «العدالة والتنمية». كانت لحظة تحمل ذهنية قومية – دينية بامتياز، اختزلها إردوغان، بخطبته العثمانية، مساء السبت. وإذا كانت عمليات «صغيرة»، مثل «درع الفرات» أو عفرين أو «نبع السلام» أو إدلب، أو حتى ليبيا، بابَ إردوغان إلى العرب، فإن آيا صوفيا كانت بوابته إلى العالمبالتأكيد، كان الرئيس التركي رجب طيب إردوغان يعرف مسبقاً بقرار مجلس الشورى. فكل الأعضاء يدورون في فلك حزب «العدالة والتنمية»، لذا جاء القرار بالإجماع. وبناءً على ذلك، أصدر إردوغان فوراً مرسوم تحويل متحف آيا صوفيا إلى جامع. وبعد ساعات قليلة، كان يوجّه «خطبة الفتح الثانية للقسطنطينية» للأتراك والعالمين المسيحي والمسلم. خطبة ما كانت لتُستولد كما جاءت عليه لولا أيام وأسابيع من الغوص في التاريخ جهد خلالها كاتبوها لإقناع الجمهور بـ«الشرعية» التاريخية والفقهية لقرار اعتبار آيا صوفيا مسجداً.

بخطوة إلغاء وضع آيا صوفيا متحفاً وتحويله إلى جامع، يتحدى إردوغان الجميع.

على الصعيد الداخلي:

1-

هي خطوة ضمن مسار بدأ مع إردوغان من أجل تعزيز الطابع الديني للدولة والمجتمع، والذي كان التعليم أحد مجالاته الأساسية. وهو مسار متدرج لن يتأخر كثيراً في الإعلان عن بلوغه خط النهاية في وقت ليس ببعيد. وقد طفق الكتّاب المتدينون يقومون بحملة واسعة دفاعاً عن الخطوة، معتبرين القرار كسراً للأغلال التي كبّلوا بها تركيا منذ مئة عام، فيما أوعزت رئاسة الشؤون الدينية إلى كل الجوامع في تركيا لإقامة صلاة الشكر على استعادة جامع آيا صوفيا. كذلك تجرى الاستعدادات لتغيير معالم آيا صوفيا من الداخل وطمس الأيقونات والرسوم وغير ذلك من رموز دينية مسيحية (عبر تكنولوجيا ضوئية) ليكون المكان ذا مظهر ديني إسلامي صرف.

2-

هي ضربة أخرى لمسار العلمنة الذي أرساه مصطفى كمال أتاتورك. وكل خطوة تضيف إلى خطة التديين هي خطوة تنقص تلقائياً من العلمانية. وما يحاوله إردوغان خصوصاً هو الانتقاص من هالة مصطفى كمال أتاتورك شخصياً و«شيطنته» في مختلف المجالات باعتباره رمزاً للعلمنة في تركيا كما في العالم الإسلامي. وقد انتقد عدد كبير من المؤرخين والحقوقيين قرار مجلس الشورى. ورأى المؤرخ حقي أويار أن القرار هو ضربة لـ«القيم المؤسّسة للجمهورية»، ولا يحل مشكلة بل يفاقم مما هو قائم ولا يخدم سوى التلاعب بمصير البلاد.

هي خطوة ضمن مسار من أجل تعزيز الطابع الديني للدولة والمجتمع


3-

لا تبعد خطوة إعادة آيا صوفيا جامعاً عن حسابات داخلية يتقن إردوغان حبك خيوطها. فإردوغان، وقد أصبح ذلك معروفاً، يعزف على الأوتار القومية والدينية والمذهبية عشية كل استحقاق انتخابي. ومع أن الانتخابات الرئاسية المقبلة ستكون بعد 3 أعوام، إلا أن احتمال إجرائها في وقت أبكر ليس مستبعداً. وكما أضاف إردوغان إلى جعبته «إنجاز ليبيا» (حتى الآن على الأقل) معززاً قاعدته القومية، ها هو يضيف «إنجاز آيا صوفيا» معززاً قاعدته الدينية وممسكاً بورقتين مهمتين.

4-

تقع الخطوة في إطار حرف الأنظار عن المشكلات الاقتصادية التي تواجهها تركيا، ولا سيما بعد أزمة «كورونا». وتقول الكاتبة في صحيفة «جمهورييت» ألتشين بويراز، إن إردوغان تجاهل الأوضاع الصعبة وتراجع النمو وكبت الحريات وازدياد البطالة والجريمة وهرب إلى خطوة مثيرة لإلهاء الناس عن مشكلات البلاد الحقيقية.

بالطبع، هاتان الورقتان وحدهما غير كافيتين لفوز إردوغان بالرئاسة من جديد، فهناك الورقة الاقتصادية الأهم، لكنهما تشكلان إضافة قد تكون مؤثرة على نتائج الانتخابات الرئاسية.


أمّا على الصعيد الخارجي:

1-

منذ تحويل قضية آيا صوفيا إلى جامع، إلى مجلس الشورى، توالت ردود الفعل الخارجية، المسيحية تحديداً. وجاءت المناشدات مجمعة على ضرورة عدم اتخاذ مثل هذه الخطوة التي تزيد من تأجيج الحساسيات الدينية بين تركيا والغرب وبين المسلمين والمسيحيين. وجاءت المناشدات والتحذيرات من الأرثوذكس كما من الكاثوليك. مع ذلك، لم يعر إردوغان أذناً صاغية لكل النداءات. وقد انتقد زعيم حزب «الديموقراطية والتقدم» الخطوة قائلاً إن آيا صوفيا ميراث ثقافي مشترك لكل العالم، معتبراً أن تركيا تمر اليوم في «نفق مظلم».

خرج إردوغان في لحظة انتشائه باللحظة الليبية، الموجهة ليس فقط إلى مصر والخليج بل إلى اليونان وقبرص اليونانية وفرنسا وروسيا، ليضع نفسه لاعباً إقليمياً ودولياً مؤثراً. لكنه، بخطوة تمسّ رمزاً دينياً وحضارياً عالمياً مثل آيا صوفيا، تطلّع إردوغان ليضع نفسه في موقع الزعيم العالمي.

2-

ليست مصادفة أن يحدد إردوغان يوم الجمعة في 24 تموز/ يوليو موعداً لافتتاح الصلاة في «الجامع الجديد». فهو كان سيحدد هذا التاريخ لهذا الموعد سواء كان نهار جمعة أو أحد. ففي هذا التاريخ في عام 1923 وُقّعت معاهدة لوزان بين تركيا والقوى الكبرى، والتي رسمت الحدود الجغرافية والحضارية والاجتماعية لتركيا الجديدة. وقد أراد إردوغان من إعادة آيا صوفيا جامعاً رسالة، إلى القوى الكبرى، بأنّ العد العكسي لإلغاء المعاهدة، التي اعتبرها إردوغان في صيف 2016 هزيمة، بدأ.

Clash of civilizations, revisited

Clash of civilizations, revisited

July 17, 2020

By Pepe Escobar – republished from Asia Times by permission of author

Late afternoon in May 29, 1453, Sultan Mehmet, the third son of Murad, born of a slave-girl – probably Christian – in the harem, fluent in Turkish, Arabic, Greek, Latin, Persian and Hebrew, followed by his top ministers, his imams and his bodyguard of Janissaries, rides slowly towards the Great Church of St Sophia in Constantinople.

It’s unlikely that Sultan Mehmet would be sparing a thought for Emperor Justinian, the last of quite a breed: a true Roman Emperor in the throne of Byzantium, a speaker of “barbarous” Greek (he was born in Macedonia) but with a Latin mind.

Much like Sultan Mehmet, Justinian was quite the geopolitician. Byzantium trade was geared towards Cathay and the Indies: silk, spices, precious stones. Yet Persia controlled all the caravan routes on the Ancient Silk Road. The sea route was also a problem; all cargo had to depart from the Persian Gulf.

So Justinian had to bypass Persia.

He came up with a two-pronged strategy: a new northern route via Crimea and the Caucasus, and a new southern route via the Red Sea, bypassing the Persian Gulf.

The first was a relative success; the second a mess. But Justinian finally got his break when a bunch of Orthodox monks offered him to bring back from Asia some precious few silkworm eggs. Soon there were factories not only in Constantinople but in Antioch, Tyre and Beirut. The imperial silk industry – a state monopoly, of course – was up and running.

A fantastic mosaic in Ravenna from the year 546 depicts a Justinian much younger than 64, his age at the time. He was a prodigy of energy – and embellished Constantinople non-stop. The apex was the Church of St. Sophia – the largest building in the world for centuries.

So here we have Sultan Mehmet silently proceeding with his slow ride all the way to the central bronze doors of St Sophia.

He dismounts and picks up a handful of dust and in a gesture of humility, sprinkles it over his turban.

Then he enters the Great Church. He walks towards the altar.

A barely perceptible command leads his top imam to escalate the pulpit and proclaim in the name of Allah, the All Merciful and Compassionate, there is no God but God and Muhammad is his Prophet.

The Sultan then touches the ground with his turbaned head – in a silent prayer. St Sophia was now a mosque.

Sultan Mehmet leaves the mosque and crosses the square to the old Palace of the Emperors, in ruins, founded by Constantine The Great 11 and ½ centuries before. He slowly wanders the ancient halls, his fine velvet slippers brushing the dust from the fabulous pebbled floor mosaics.

Then he murmurs two verses of a Persian poet:

“As the spider weaves the curtain over the palace of the Roman Caesars

The owl sings the time of the house of Afrasiab”

The Byzantine empire, founded by Constantine The Great on Monday, May 11, 330, was over on a Tuesday, May 29, 1453.

Sultan Mehmet is now the Lord of Constantinople and the Lord of the Ottoman Empire. He’s only 21 years old.

Back to the Magic Mountain

Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan re-christened Hagia Sophia from a museum back into a mosque. He may have done it because his popularity is waning; his proxy wars are a disaster; his AKP party is shattered; and the economy is bleeding badly.

But what’s striking is that right at the beginning of his official televised speech, Erdogan quoted exactly the same verses by the Persian poet murmured by Sultan Mehmet in that fateful afternoon in 1453.

Erdogan’s latest move – which is part of his perennial master plan to claim leadership of global Islam over the decrepit House of Saud – was widely interpreted in myriad latitudes as yet another instance of clash of civilizations: not only Orthodox Christianity vs. Islam but once again East vs. West.

That reminded me of another East vs. West recent derivation: a revival of the Settembrini vs. Naphta debate in Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, promoted by a Dutch think tank, the Nexus Institute, which aims to “keep the spirit of European humanism alive”. The debate pitted Aleksander Dugin against Bernard-Henri Levy (widely known in France as BHL). The full transcript of the debate is here.

Dugin is a leading Eurasianist and the conceptualizer of the – largely banned in the West – Fourth Political Theory . As a philosopher and political theorist, Dugin is cartoonishly demonized across the West as “Putin’s brain”, a closet fascist and “the most dangerous philosopher in the world”.

BHL, hailed as “one of the West’s leading intellectuals”, is a vain poseur who emerged as a “nouveau philosophe” in the mid-1970s and ritually regurgitates the usual Atlanticist mantras enveloped in flowery quotes. He managed, among other feats, to write a book about Pakistan without knowing anything whatsoever about Pakistan, as I thrashed it on Asia Times back in 2002.

Here are a few interesting talking points throughout the debate.

Dugin stresses the end of Western hegemony and global liberalism. He asks BHL, directly, how, “interestingly, in your book, you define the American empire or the global liberal system as a system of nihilism, based on nothing.” Dugin does define himself as a nihilist “in the sense that I refuse the universality of modern Western values (…) I just challenge that the only way to interpret democracy is as the rule of minorities against the majority, that the only way to interpret freedom is as individual freedom, and that the only way to interpret human rights is by projecting a modern, Western, individualistic version of what it means to be human on other cultures.”

BHL, which seems not to have read his own, dreary, book – this is something Dugin told me in person last year in Beirut, after the debate – prefers to resort to proverbial, infantile Putin bashing, picked up over and over again, stressing “there is a bad, dark wind of nihilism in its proper sense, which is a Nazi and a fascist sense, which is blowing in the great Russia.”

Later on in the debate, BHL adds, “I really believe that there is a link between, on the one side, your and Huntington’s way of thinking; and, on the other side, the occupation of Crimea, the 30,000 deaths in Ukraine and the war in Syria with its bloodbath, tragic and horrible.”

On racism, Dugin is adamant: he does not defend it. For him, “Racism is an Anglo-Saxon liberal construction based on a hierarchy between peoples. I think this is criminal.” Then he defines “a new Manichean division, a new racism. Those who are in favor of Western values, they are good. Everybody who challenges that, in the Islamic tradition, in the Russian tradition, in the Chinese tradition, in the Indian tradition, everywhere, they are populists, and they are classified as fascism. I think that is a new kind of racism.”

BHL prefers to concentrate on “the civilization of human rights, freedom, individual dignity, and so on. This deserves to be universalized. This should be conceived, except if you are a racist, as profitable for the entire humanity.” And then it’s Anti-Semitism all over again: “All the men who you quoted and from whom you draw your inspiration – Spengler, Heidegger, who is also a great philosopher of course, and others – are contaminated, corrupted, infected by this plague which is antisemitism. And alas – you too.”

In Paris circles, the joke is that the only thing BHL cares about is the promotion of BHL. And everyone who does not agree with one of the “leading Western intellectuals” is Anti-Semitic.

BHL insists he’s interested in building bridges. But it’s Dugin who frames the real heart of the matter: “When we try to build bridges too early, without knowing the structure of the Other – the problem is the Other. The West doesn’t understand the Other as something positive. It is all the same, and we immediately try to find bridges – they are illusions, and not bridges, because we are projecting ourselves. The Other is the same, the ideology of the same. We first need to understand otherness.”

BHL totally ignores Levi-Strauss. It’s Dugin who refers to Levi-Strauss when talking about The Other, describing him as one of his teachers:

“This anthropological pluralism, I agree, is precisely the American and French tradition. But it is not reflected in politics, or it is reflected in a very perverted way. So I think there is a big contradiction between this anthropological thought in American universities and French universities, and a kind of very aggressive colonial neo-imperialist form to promote American interests on the world scale with weapons.”

BHL is left with – what else – Putin demonization: “The real imperialism, the real one who is interfering and sowing disorder and interfering in the affairs of others, alas, is Putin. And I need not speak of America, where it is now proved that there has been a huge, crude, and evident Russian intervention in the electoral process of the last election.” BHL, who does not even qualify as a neophyte in geopolitics, is oblivious to the absolute debunking of Russiagate.

BHL is adamant “there is today a real clash of civilizations. But not the one you mention in your books, between the north and the east and the west and the south and all of that; there is a clash of civilizations all over the planet between those who believe in human rights, in liberty, in the right for a body not to be tortured and martyred, and those who are happy with illiberalism and the revival of authoritarianism and slavery.”

Dugin’s challenge for years has been to try to conceptualize what may come next, after the failure of Marxism, fascism and liberal democracy. As much as he thinks Eurasian, he’s inclusive – incorporating “Euro” with “Asia”. BHL for his part simplistically reduces every “evil” to “illiberalism”, where Russia, China, Iran and Turkey – no nuances – are thrown in the same dustbin alongside the vacuous and actually murderous House of Saud.

Mao returns

Now let’s attempt a light-hearted ending to our mini-triptych on the clash of civilizations. Inevitably, that has to do with the ongoing US-China Hybrid War.

Around two years ago, the following dialogue was a smash hit on Chinese Weibo. The Great Helmsman Mao Zedong – or his ghost – was back in town, and he wanted to know about everything that was goin’ on. Call it a – revisionist? – realpolitik version of the clash of civilizations.

Mao: “Can the people eat their fill?”

Answer: “There’s so much to eat they’re dieting.”

Mao: “Are there still any capitalists?”

Answer: “They’re all doing business overseas now!”

Mao: “Do we produce more steel than England?”

Answer: “Tangshan alone produces more than America.”

Mao: “Did we beat social imperialism (as in the former USSR)?”

Answer: “They dissolved it themselves!”

Mao: “Did we smash imperialism?”

Answer: “We’re the imperialists now!”

Mao: “And what about my Cultural Revolution?”

Answer: “It’s in America now!”

US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION AND PROSPECTS OF KIEV ADVANCE IN EASTERN UKRAINE

South Front

Written and produced by SF Team: J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson

For the past several years, the war between Ukraine and the breakaway and still-unrecognized Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic has settled into a tense routine of attritional trench warfare, punctuated by sniping, clashes between patrols, small-scale raids, offensive minelaying, and ambushes using anti-tank guided missiles. There have been few operations by units larger than company. The front line has remained almost entirely unchanged. At the same time, both sides have been preparing for the possible next round of high-intensity warfare. What would happen if the fighting were to break out again?

That particular prediction is made more difficult by the very fact of the long lull in high-intensity fighting during which both sides have undergone a certain degree of transformation which remains relatively unknown to the other party. Both sides have seen certain material improvements, though apparently nothing dramatic. Ukraine’s armored vehicle fleet still relies on the same, but now even more worn out vehicles it went to war with in 2014. The planned re-equipment with the Oplot MBT never took place, and even the upgraded T-64BU Bulat was found to be flawed. Therefore the elderly T-64BV remains the main tank of Ukraine’s forces. Light armored vehicle fleet has seen some improvement thanks to domestic production and deliveries from former Warsaw Pact member states. If there is one area where Ukraine’s military may have made a major step forward, it is the artillery, using the large store of inactive weapons for Soviet-era reserve forces. However, artillery munition production continues to be a problem. While the number of Ukraine’s brigades has grown, the military experiences major problems with recruitment and retention, meaning that many of these brigades have the strength of a reinforced combined arms battalion.

On Novorossia’s side the situation is hardly different. DPR and LPR units continue to use the same types of equipment they used during the campaigns of five years ago. The numeric strength does not appear to have changed much, either, and here too recruitment and retention remains a problem.

The other factor making predictions difficult is the level of morale of these two forces that have been bogged down in an apparently endless war that is beyond their power to finish. The combination of trench warfare boredom and terror means it is debilitating to the units’ morale and proficiency if they are forced to remain in the trenches for too long. While the most offensive-capable forces are kept out of the trenches as mobile reserves, they too can only maintain their state of alert for so long before losing their edge.

Paradoxically, this state of affairs give an advantage to the side that intends to go on the offensive, because the preparations for the attack and associated training would imbue the troops with the hope that, after the next big push, the war will finally be over. At the same time, both sides know such an offensive would be an exceedingly risky proposition, because if it fails, it will grind down the attacking side’s most effective units and render the army vulnerable to a counteroffensive to which it would not be able to respond.

Therefore the likelihood of renewed fighting also heavily depends on who actually makes the decision. While local leaders may be cautious enough, foreign ones in distant capitals may have different considerations in mind.

A big unknown hanging over the future of the Donbass is the position of Joe Biden, the Democratic Party nominee and the potential winner of the November elections. Biden has already played a highly destructive role in the politics of Ukraine and the US-Russia relations. It is Biden that blackmailed Poroshenko into firing the Chief Prosecutor Shokin due to his interest in the corrupt dealings of the Burisma energy company which infamously had Joe’s son Hunter on its board of directors. It is also Biden who held a lengthy, 30-45 minute telephone conversation with Poroshenko on the day MH17 was shot down and promptly came out blaming Russia for it, even as the wreckage was still smoking where it fell. Biden identified himself as a Russia foe much earlier, during the 2012 vice-presidential debates where he positioned himself as being “hard on Putin”, which in retrospect proved to be an early indicator of where the second-term Obama administration foreign policy would go. It also goes without saying Biden is an ardent promoter of the “RussiaGate” effort to paint Donald Trump as a Russian agent/stooge/fellow traveler/useful idiot.

At the same time, Biden’s line against China has hardened as well, which may have implications for US-Russia relations during the probable Biden presidency. As late as May 2019, Biden would describe People’s Republic of China as “they are not bad folks”, adding that “they are not competition to us”, comments that may yet come to haunt him on the campaign trail. However, once the COVID-19 broke out of control in the United States, Biden sought to out-do Trump in his accusations the high US death toll was due to China misleading the United States on the nature of the virus and not allowing US public health officials access to Wuhan and China’s epidemiology labs. Even before that, Hunter Biden resigned from boards of directors of China-based firms. While that might have been motivated by his, and his dad’s, desire to keep a low profile due to the scrutiny Hunter’s business dealings have attracted during Donald Trump’s impeachment proceedings, it may also have been preparation for Joe Biden’s anti-China pivot.

The emergence of PRC as Biden’s perceived number one international adversary may mean a desire to improve relations with Russia in the way that Trump, compromised from the start by RussiaGate and without a history of own anti-Russia rhetoric to fall back on, could never deliver. Biden, however, is in the same position as Nixon was in the late 1960s. His earlier anti-Russian rhetoric and actions now make him nearly immune from the same sort of accusations which, even though false, nevertheless effectively stuck to Trump. Nixon’s own enthusiastic participation in McCarthyite witch hunts made it possible for him to do what his Democratic Party predecessor Lyndon Johnson could not: end Vietnam War, engage in arms control treaties with USSR and “go to China” in order to exploit the growing divide between the two main Communist powers. Biden has the political capital necessary to repeat the process: end the war in Afghanistan (something he had proposed already as vice president), enter into arms control treaties with China and…go to Moscow, which is currently seen in Washington in the same way that Beijing was in the 1970s, namely the secondary challenger which needs to be peeled away from the primary one. Moreover, just as in the early 1970s, United States of the 2020s is wracked by a massive internal crisis requiring international retrenchment in order to focus on internal reforms.

But that optimistic scenario remains less likely than the prospect of renewed escalation. Nixon-era United States was not suffering from the hubris of American Exceptionalism. On the contrary, it was a country full of self-doubt and under no illusion concerning the limits of its power. It entered into arms control treaties because it did not feel it could win them. Disasters abroad and at home notwithstanding, the US elite still has not been shaken out of its complacency, and it does appear to sincerely believe it can win a strategic and conventional arms race against both China and Russia. We have not seen any indications so far that Biden intends any moderation in the area of foreign policy or returning to a policy of cooperation with Russia. One should expect that, in the event of Biden victory, Ukraine will launch an offensive against the Donbass shortly after the inauguration, in other words, in February or March of 2020. This offensive would accomplish two objectives for Biden. One, it would establish his hawkish, “patriotic” bona fides, make him look “presidential” in the eyes of the mainstream media and the national security establishment. Secondly, it would allow the US to exert even more pressure on Germany and other EU member states concerning North Stream and other areas of cooperation with Russia.

In order to achieve these goals, particularly the second one, the offensive would not need to overrun the Donbass, in fact, that would not be the aim at all. Rather, the goal would be to force Russian forces to intervene directly in support of the Lugansk and Donetsk republics to justify depicting Russia as the aggressor in the matter. And even if the republics’ militaries can cope with the UAF assault on their own, the sheer level of violence will still make enough headlines to satisfy Biden’s requirements. Whether Zelensky wants that kind of escalation for his country is almost irrelevant. Both he and Biden know very well what the balance of power in that relationship is. Ukraine is a failing state seriously dependent on foreign financial assistance in the form of continual IMF loans, debt rescheduling, favorable trade deals, etc. Biden knew how to use these levers to achieve an important change in Ukraine’s politics that benefited him personally, he will not hesitate to use them again.

Moreover, even if Biden were driven by the Nixonian motives described above, it’s doubtful the foreign policy Deep State would allow him to do that. Biden’s own conversations with Poroshenko no doubt contain great many embarrassing moments whose release would instantly embroil him in a massive scandal. The fact that Donald Trump was impeached solely due to the desire of national security apparatchiks to continue their pet war in Ukraine is indicative of their power to make foreign policy quite independently of their supposed civilian bosses.

The situation is further complicated by the widening rift between the Western neo-liberal world and conservative societies of eastern European countries. This includes a large part of the Ukrainian population which is committed to traditional values. The rapidly deteriorating social and economic situation in Ukraine contributes to a further antagonism of this part of the society towards the forcefully imposed Western ideology and its local agents. Another point of tensions is the existing contradictions between the Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchy) and the artificially assembled pseudo-church organizations in Ukraine. The Moscow Patriarchy is returning to its former position among the Ukrainian faithful. In the event of a further dissatisfaction of the society by the declared pseudo-Western way of development, positions of Russia and the Moscow Patriarchy will strengthen even more.

While a Ukrainian offensive is relatively unlikely in 2020, its probability increases considerably in 2021, particularly in the event of a Biden victory. The conflict in Ukraine has lasted this long mainly because Ukraine’s current sponsors in the West are not interested in ending it, irrespective of what the will of the Ukrainian people might be. The situation will get even worse should the US presidency be taken over by someone with a well-established hostility toward Russia who believes his aims would be better served by another bloody campaign on the Donbass.

The next US administration will employ every option that it has in order to prevent the return of Russian influence in the country. Besides furthering the conflict in eastern Ukraine, it will expand efforts against it in the ideological sphere as well, likely including direct provocations.

Vladimir Putin Interview With Oliver Stone

Vladimir Putin Interview With Oliver Stone

South Front

22.07.2019

Vladimir Putin answered questions from American film director, screenwriter and producer Oliver Stone. The interview was recorded on June 19, 2019 in the Kremlin (source):

Oliver Stone: So, I interviewed Mr Medvedchuk. It was in Monte Carlo. He gave us a very interesting interview. He gave us his view of the Ukraine. I gather that you’re close with him.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: I would not say that we are very close but we know each other well. He was President Kuchma’s Chief of Staff, and it was in this capacity at the time that he asked me to take part in the christening of his daughter. According to Russian Orthodox tradition, you can’t refuse such a request.

Oliver Stone: Oh, you cannot refuse it?

I thought it was a big honour for you to be the godfather of his daughter.

Vladimir Putin: It is always a great honour to be a godfather.

Oliver Stone: Well, how many children are you godfather to?

Vladimir Putin: I will not give a number but several people.

Oliver Stone: Wow. Is it like a hundred or three hundred?

Vladimir Putin: No, no, are you serious? Certainly not. Just a few.

Oliver Stone: Otherwise I would ask you to be the godfather for my daughter.

Vladimir Putin: Does she want to become an Orthodox Christian?

Vladimir Putin Interview With Oliver Stone

Oliver Stone: Ok, we’ll make her that.

Vladimir Putin: You have to ask her.

Oliver Stone: As long as she stands in church, right?

Vladimir Putin: Of course. How old is she?

Oliver Stone: She is 22 now.

Vladimir Putin: Is she a believer?

Oliver Stone: Yes, she is a believer. She is raised Christian.

Vladimir Putin: I see.

Oliver Stone: You know, young people in America sometimes, they are different.

Vladimir Putin: Young people are different everywhere.

Oliver Stone: They are spoiled to some degree in the western world.

Vladimir Putin: It depends. The older generation always says that about the younger generation.

Oliver Stone: Yeah, I know, I know. That’s true. But I don’t know what is going on with the American culture. It’s very strange right now.

Vladimir Putin: Is there an American culture?

Oliver Stone: As you know, I’ve been very rebel all my life. Still am. And I have to tell you, I’m shocked by some of the behaviours and the thinking of the new generation. It takes so much for granted. And so much of the argument, so much of the thinking, so much of the newspaper, television commentaries about gender, people identify themselves, and social media, this and that, I’m male, I’m female, I’m transgender, I’m cisgender. It goes on forever, and there is a big fight about who is who. It seems like we miss the bigger point.

Vladimir Putin: They live too well. They have nothing to think about.

Oliver Stone: Yeah, but it’s not a healthy culture.

Vladimir Putin: Well, yes.

Oliver Stone: Years ago when we were talking about homosexuality, you said that in Russia we don’t propagate it.

Vladimir Putin: Not exactly. We have a law banning propaganda among minors.

Oliver Stone: Yes, that’s the one I’m talking about. It seems like maybe that’s a sensible law.

Vladimir Putin: It is aimed at allowing people to reach maturity and then decide who they are and how they want to live. There are no restrictions at all after this.

Oliver Stone: Ok. Mr Medvedchuk proposed recently, you know, a plan for solving the tensions in Ukraine between east and west. You know about this?

Vladimir Putin: To be honest, we do not talk so often. He has more free time than I do. But we meet from time to time, especially in connection with his efforts to get detainees released. He devotes much time to this.

He also told me something about his plans on Donbass but I do not know the details. At any rate, I consider it absolutely correct that he calls for direct dialogue with the people who live in Donbass. There is not a single example in recent history when a crisis was settled without direct contact between the sides to the conflict.

He says he thinks it is necessary to fully implement the Minsk agreements and I cannot help but agree with this as well. So, I know the elements of his proposals. He speaks about them in public and I agree.

Oliver Stone: Ok. They have a new president now. Has anything changed in Ukraine? Or still the same?

Vladimir Putin: Not yet. After all, the recent election was clearly a protest vote. A fairly large number of people supported the newly-elect President in central Ukraine, in the east and the south. And these are all people who sincerely seek a settlement in any event. During his election campaign President Zelensky continuously spoke about his readiness to do everything to solve this crisis. And then literally just yesterday, while in Paris, I think, he said suddenly he does not believe it is possible to hold talks with what he called separatists. This is clearly at odds with what he said during his election campaign.

Oliver Stone: So no change?

Vladimir Putin: Unfortunately, none for the time being.

Oliver Stone: Do you think there’s any revulsion? I mean, you were telling me about Ukraine and Russia. Do you think there is any reason for this hatred of Russia in Ukraine?

Vladimir Putin: You know, our relationship is not easy at the moment. This is the result of the grievous events linked with the coup d’état. The other part of this story is propaganda by the current government in Ukraine, which blames Russia for all the tragic events that ensued.

Oliver Stone: Well, historically, do you see these two countries coming together again?

Vladimir Putin: I think this is inevitable. At any rate, the cultivation of normal, friendly and, even more than friendly, allied relations is inevitable.

Oliver Stone: Yeah. Mr Medvedchuk would be a good liaison.

Vladimir Putin: I believe so. But our positions, our points of view, differ on many things. Mr Medvedchuk was born in the family of a man that was said to be convicted during the Soviet times for nationalist activities. He was born in Siberia, where his family and his father virtually lived in exile.

Oliver Stone: What’s the connection?

Vladimir Putin: Connection between what?

Oliver Stone: All this story to my question?

Vladimir Putin: The connection is that he has his own ideas about Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. For example, I believe that Russians and Ukrainians are actually one people.

Oliver Stone: One people, two nations?

Vladimir Putin: One nation, in fact.

Oliver Stone: You think it is one nation?

Vladimir Putin Interview With Oliver Stone

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Vladimir Putin: Of course. Look, when these lands that are now the core of Ukraine, joined Russia, there were just three regions – Kiev, the Kiev region, northern and southern regions – nobody thought themselves to be anything but Russians, because it was all based on religious affiliation. They were all Orthodox and they considered themselves Russians. They did not want to be part of the Catholic world, where Poland was dragging them.

I understand very well that over the time the identity of this part of Russia crystallized, and people have the right to determine their identity. But later this factor was used to throw into imbalance the Russian Empire. But in fact, this is the same world sharing the same history, same religion, traditions, and a wide range of ties, close family ties among them.

At the same time, if a significant part of people who live in Ukraine today believe that they should emphasise their identity and fight for it, no one in Russia would be against this, including me. But, bearing in mind that we have many things in common, we can use this as our competitive advantage during some form of integration; it is obvious. However, the current government clearly doesn’t want this. I believe that in the end common sense will prevail, and we will finally arrive at the conclusion I have mentioned: rapprochement is inevitable.

Oliver Stone: I don’t think Mr Medvedchuk would agree. He would say: two nations, similar people. That what he would say, take a strong line on that.

Vladimir Putin: He doesn’t. That is what I am saying.

Oliver Stone: That’s what I’m saying. He does not agree.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, of course. This is what I am saying: our positions on some things, important ones, are different. But at the same time, he speaks in favour of establishing good relations with Russia in order to use these competitive advantages in the economy. He shows how today the Ukrainian economy is completely destroyed because it has lost the Russian market and, most importantly, cooperation in industry. Nobody needs Ukrainian industrial goods on Western markets, and that goes for agriculture too: very few goods are purchased. Round timber is in demand, but soon there will be no timber in Ukraine at all. It’s not like the vast expanses of Siberia.

For example, Europe often takes some steps towards Ukraine – or did so until recently – with, say, permitting purchases of round timber. And this is just one example. In fact, there are many more.

Oliver Stone: Well, someone told me today that Mr Medvedchuk’s party, For Life Party, is up 12 percent in the polls. So he is building a party that has a following, it seems to me.

Vladimir Putin: If so, that is good. To be honest, I don’t know. But if kit is true, that is good.

If so, we can only welcome this because he and his partners in the party stand for restoring relations with Russia. How could we not welcome that? Of course, we welcome it. I have known him for a long time. He keeps his word. If he says something, he does it.

Oliver Stone: So, he is a very courageous man, I think. His villa was bombed, his offices were bombed. He is under threat all the time. He is hanging in there, staying in his country.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, this is true because he has convictions. I mentioned that his father was a Ukrainian nationalist and was convicted by a Soviet court for this. Strange as it may seem but the founders, many founders of Ukrainian nationalism advocated good relations with Russia. They said good relations were necessary for the development of Ukraine itself.

Oliver Stone: When was that?

Vladimir Putin: This was in the 19th century. They came out for Ukraine’s independence but said that Ukraine must preserve good, friendly relations with Russia. Mr Medvedchuk adheres to similar ideas. This is why he has convictions. I may not agree with his position on something but I always respect it.

Oliver Stone: Yeah, two nations he says. When I hear the words “Ukrainian nationalism,” I get worried, because I think of Stepan Bandera and people who have convictions too.

Vladimir Putin: Me, too.

Oliver Stone: Ukrainian nationalism is dangerous too.

Vladimir Putin: In general nationalism is a sign of narrow-mindedness but I do not want to offend Mr Medvedchuk.

Oliver Stone: It’s words.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, but in any event, he is in the category of people who advocate independence, the consolidation of an independent Ukraine, but at the same time believe that it is easier to achieve this by pursuing cooperation with Russia. And I think he is largely right.

Oliver Stone: You’re very clear.

You talked about the coup d’état. Just want to revisit that because there has been a lot more research done. It seems that research has revealed that there were shooters, snipers at the Maidan. The forensics with the angle of shooting, bodies of the police and the protestors. It was all very badly investigated. Not at all really. But what evidence we have seems to point to there being, they say, Georgian shooters, people from Georgia. And I’ve heard that. Have you heard anything more on the Russian front?

Vladimir Putin: No but I know what you are talking about. I know that the authorities headed by President Yanukovych at that time did not use the army and were not interested in giving any excuse to the opposition to use force. And, as Mr Yanukovych told me repeatedly, it did not even occur to him to use force and the military against civilians, even against those who had already taken up arms. I completely rule out that he could have done this, but those who were looking for a pretext to stage a coup could have well done it, of course.

Oliver Stone: I remember you were telling me about the Obama phone call, Obama and you had an agreement that there would be no firing on the last day. And he gave you a promise that he would…

Vladimir Putin: You know, while Obama is no longer President, there are certain things we do not discuss in public. At any rate, I can say that the US did not follow through on the agreements that we reached during this phone call. I will stop there without going into detail.

Oliver Stone: Yes. So recently, you know Russia has been obviously accused and accused over and over again of interference in the 2016 election. As far as I know there is no proof, it has not turned up. But now in the US there has been an investigation going on about Ukraine’s interference in the election. It seems that it was a very confusing situation, and Poroshenko seems to have been very strongly pro-Clinton, anti-Trump.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, this is no secret.

Oliver Stone: Do you think there was interference?

Vladimir Putin: I do not think that this could be interpreted as interference by Ukraine. But it is perfectly obvious that Ukrainian oligarchs gave money to Trump’s opponents. I do not know whether they did this by themselves or with the knowledge of the authorities.

Oliver Stone: Where they giving information to the Clinton campaign?

Vladimir Putin: I do not know. I am being honest. I will not speak about what I do not know. I have enough problems of my own. They assumed Mrs Clinton would win and did everything to show loyalty to the future US administration. That is nothing special. They wanted the future President to have a good opinion of them. This is why they allowed themselves to make unflattering statements about Trump and supported the Democrats in every possible way. This is no secret at all. They acted almost in public.

Oliver Stone: You do not want to go any further on that because you do not have any information?

Vladimir Putin: You know, this would be inappropriate on my part. If I said something more specific, I would have to put some documents, some papers on the table.

Oliver Stone: You understand that it has huge implications because Mr Trump would be very grateful?

Vladimir Putin: I did not interfere then, I do not want to interfere now, and I am not going to interfere in the future.

Oliver Stone: But that is a noble motive. Unfortunately, the world has degenerated in these two years, with all this backbiting and accusations, dirty fighting. Anyway…

Vladimir Putin: There are no rules at all. It is no holds barred.

Oliver Stone: Well, you have rules. You say no interference.

Vladimir Putin: I have principles.

Oliver Stone: Ok. But you seem to have rules based on those principles.

Vladimir Putin: Well, yes.

Oliver Stone: Ok. Well, you are fighting with one hand tied behind your back.

Vladimir Putin: Why? You mean, because of these principles?

Oliver Stone: Yes. If you knew something about the election, it would tilt the balance in a very weird way.

Vladimir Putin: I think this is simply unrealistic. I have said so many times.

Oliver Stone: What is unrealistic?

Vladimir Putin: To change anything. If you want to return to US elections again – look, it is a huge country, a huge nation with its own problems, with its own views on what is good and what is bad, and with an understanding that in the past few years, say ten years, nothing has changed for the better for the middle class despite the enormous growth of prosperity for the ruling class and the wealthy. This is a fact that Trump’s election team understood. He understood this himself and made the most of it.

No matter what our bloggers – or whoever’s job it is to comment on the internet – might say about the situation in the US, this could not have played a decisive role. It is sheer nonsense. But our sympathies were with him because he said he wanted to restore normal relations with Russia. What is bad about that? Of course, we can only welcome this position.

Oliver Stone: Apparently, it excited the Clinton people a lot. The Clinton campaign accumulated the “Steele dossier.” They paid for it. It came from strange sources, the whole “Steele dossier” issue. Some of it comes from Ukraine. They also went out of their way, it seems to me, with the CIA, with Mr Brennan, John Brennan, and with Clapper, James Clapper, and Comey of the FBI. They all seem to have gotten involved, all intelligence agencies, in an anti-Trump way.

Vladimir Putin: They had levers inside the government, but there is nothing like that here. They applied administrative pressure. It always gives an advantage in countries such as the USA, some countries of Western Europe, about 2 percent on average, at a minimum.

Oliver Stone: Two percent? What are you talking about?

Vladimir Putin: Yes. According to experts, those with administrative pressure they can apply always have a 2 percent edge. You can look at it differently. Some experts believe that in different countries, it can vary, but in countries such as the United States, some European countries, the advantage is 2 percent. This is what experts say, they can be wrong.

Oliver Stone: I do not know. I heard of the one percent, but it seems to get more like 12 percent.

Vladimir Putin: That is possible, depending on how it is used.

Oliver Stone: Well, you are not disagreeing. You are saying that it was quite possible that there was an attempt to prevent Donald Trump from coming into office with a soft, I will call it a soft coup d’état?

Vladimir Putin: In the USA?

Oliver Stone: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: It is still going on.

Oliver Stone: A coup d’état is planned by people who have power inside.

Vladimir Putin: No, I do not mean that. I mean lack of respect for the will of the voters. I think it was unprecedented in the history of the United States.

Oliver Stone: What was unprecedented?

Vladimir Putin: It was the first time the losing side does not want to admit defeat and does not respect the will of the voters.

Oliver Stone: I would disagree. I would say it happened in 2000, that the Republicans lost the popular vote, they lost Florida, and they did not accept that, and they had a coup d’état in their way, a soft coup d’état also. And they put Bush in.

Vladimir Putin: But this was a court decision, as far as I remember.

Oliver Stone: Yeah, in a way, but the court decision was blocked. There was a vote going on. And if you remember the Brooks brothers’ riot, all those Republicans rushed to electoral offices in Miami, and they prevented the vote from going through in a county, in one of those major counties. It was a key factor. It was not like the Russian revolution. It was a minor event, but it was big. It shifted the momentum, totally. I remember that night. Then they referred it to the Supreme Court. Also, and the same thing in January 2017, when the intelligence assessment was released, what was it, January 7th,, a few days before Trump was to be inaugurated, the intelligence assessment actually said that the intelligence agencies suspected Trump would have been colluding with Russia. That is even bigger. That is an attempt at a coup d’état, because the electors in America still had the right to overturn the election vote.

Vladimir Putin: This is what they call unscrupulous application of administrative pressure.

Oliver Stone: Ok, ok, ok. Well, listen, it seems to be going on a lot more than we know. Talking about America and Russia, I have not seen you since the Kerch Strait. Any comments on that?

Vladimir Putin: No, I do not, as we have repeatedly said. The former President, Mr Poroshenko, staged this provocation intentionally during the election campaign. He was aware that people in the country’s east and south would not vote for him, and he used this provocation to escalate the situation and then declare a state of emergency there. I have reason to believe that he was going to declare a state of emergency in the entire country, and possibly to postpone the election as a result. Generally speaking, he was trying to hold on to power at all costs, and he was seeking any means to execute this plan. This was the regime’s death throes.

As far as I remember, recently the newly appointed Chief of the Ukrainian army’s General Staff has made a statement that offers roughly the same interpretation of events but perhaps using milder language.

Oliver Stone: Who gave that interpretation?

Vladimir Putin: Chief of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Oliver Stone: Ok, but beyond Poroshenko, the United States has a shadow here. The United States knows what he is doing, and supported it.

Vladimir Putin: Absolutely.

Oliver Stone: It is the creation of a strategy of tension that worries me enormously. I have seen this happen in so many places now. I think I read on Monday, the Russian bombers, the Russian SU-57 escorted, what was it, the B-52 bomber, a nuclear bomber, US bomber, close to the Russian borders.

Vladimir Putin Interview With Oliver Stone

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Vladimir Putin: The Su-57 aircraft are just entering service. This is a fifth-generation jet fighter. It was the Su-27 that was mentioned.

Oliver Stone: Do you think that is normal?

Vladimir Putin: Actually, it is sad, probably, but this is common practice. US aircraft did not enter our airspace, and our aircraft did not conduct any high-risk maneuvers.

But generally speaking, this is not great. Just look where the Baltic or Black seas are located, and where the USA is. It was not us who approached US borders, but US aircraft that approached ours. Such practices had better stop.

Oliver Stone: In this continuing strategy of tension, there was a report in The New York Times last week that the Obama Administration, before they left office, put in what they call a cyber warfare device. It was inserted in Russian infrastructure in January 2017.

Vladimir Putin: This is being discussed almost openly. It was said Russia would be punished for interfering in the election campaign. We do not see anything extraordinary or unexpected here. This should be followed closely. That is the first thing.

The second is I believe that we only need to negotiate how we are to live in this high-tech world and develop uniform rules and means of monitoring each other’s actions. We have repeatedly proposed holding talks on this subject to come to some binding agreement.

Oliver Stone: Continuing that theme of strategy of tension, how is Russia affected by the US-Iranian confrontation?

Vladimir Putin: This worries us because this is happening near our borders. This may destabilize the situation around Iran, affect some countries with which we have very close relations, causing additional refugee flows on a large scale plus substantially damage the world economy as well as the global energy sector. All this is extremely disturbing. Therefore we would welcome any improvement when it comes to relations between the US and Iran. A simple escalation of tension will not be advantageous for anyone. It seems to me that this is also the case with the US. One might think that there are only benefits here, but there will be setbacks as well. The positive and negative factors have to be calculated.

Oliver Stone: Yeah. Scary.

Vladimir Putin: No, this is not scary.

Oliver Stone: You sound very depressed, much more depressed than last time.

Vladimir Putin: Last time the situation concerning Iran was not like this. Last time nobody said anything about getting into our energy and other networks. Last time the developments were more positive.

Oliver Stone: The situation is worse now?

Vladimir Putin: Take North Korea, they have also rolled back a bit. Trade wars are unfolding.

Oliver Stone: Venezuela.

Vladimir Putin: Venezuela as well. In other words, regrettably, the situation has not improved, so there is nothing special to be happy about. On the other hand, we feel confident. We have no problems.

Oliver Stone: Well, you are an optimist, and always have been?

Vladimir Putin: Exactly.

Oliver Stone: You are a peacemaker.

Vladimir Putin: Absolutely spot on.

Oliver Stone: So obviously, you have to get together with the Americans, and the Chinese, and the Iranians. I know.

Vladimir Putin: Just do not put the blame on us. Lately no matter what is happening, we always get the blame.

Oliver Stone: Well, the irony is that Mr Trump came to office promising that he was not going to interfere in other countries. He made this overall strategy, he was against the wars that we have started, and ever since he has been in office, it has got worse. Why, one wonders? Is he in charge, or are other people pushing these agendas?

Vladimir Putin: I think he is against this now, too. But life is complicated and diverse. To make the right decision it is necessary to fight for what you believe in.

Oliver Stone: Yeah, conviction.

It is your fourth term, are you getting tired?

Vladimir Putin: No, if I had been tired, I would not have run for the fourth term.

Oliver Stone: Ok. Listen, can I find out something? Let’s take a pause. I just want to ask my director if he wants to ask any more things about Ukraine. Five minutes?

Vladimir Putin: The director always has the final word; after all, he is the one calling the shots.

Oliver Stone: Thank you.

I think we are fine.

Vladimir Putin: Very well. Are we done?

Thank you so much.

Oliver Stone: Thank you, sir.

Vladimir Putin: Are you going back to the States?

Oliver Stone: I am very worried about you.

Vladimir Putin: Why?

Oliver Stone:I can see there are so many problems. It weighs you down. It is sad to see. It is a tough situation.

Vladimir Putin: It is all right. We have seen worse.

Oliver Stone: Russian bombes in Syria. What has happened to Skripal? Where is he?

Vladimir Putin: I have no idea. He is a spy, after all. He is always in hiding.

Oliver Stone: They say he was going to come back to Russia. He had some information.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, I have been told that he wants to make a written request to come back.

Oliver Stone: He knew still and he wanted to come back. He had information that he could give to the world press here in Russia.

Vladimir Putin: I doubt it. He has broken the ranks already. What kind of information can he possess?

Oliver Stone: Who poisoned him? They say English secret services did not want Sergei Skripal to come back to Russia?

Vladimir Putin: To be honest, I do not quite believe this. I do not believe this is the case.

Oliver Stone: Makes sense. You do not agree with me?

Vladimir Putin: If they had wanted to poison him, they would have done so.

Oliver Stone: Ok, that makes sense. I don’t know. Who did then?

Vladimir Putin: After all, this is not a hard thing to do in today’s world. In fact, a fraction of a milligram would have been enough to do the job. And if they had him in their hands, there was nothing complicated about it. No, this does not make sense. Maybe they just wanted to provoke a scandal.

Oliver Stone: I think it is more complicated. You know, you think I am much too much of a conspiracy guy.

Vladimir Putin: I do not believe this.

Oliver Stone: I have seen things. I do.

Vladimir Putin: You should not. Take care of yourself.

Oliver Stone: Can we get a picture?

Remark: This is a great honour for us. Can we take a picture with you?

Vladimir Putin: With pleasure.

Anti-Russian ‘Protests’ in Georgia: Inexcusable, but Supported by the West

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Anti-Russian ‘Protests’ in Georgia: Inexcusable, but Supported by the West

Dmitry Babich July 21, 2019

The recent wave of anti-Russian actions in the former Soviet republic of Georgia became an embarrassment even for the notoriously pro-Georgian Russian liberals, of whom there have always been plenty in Moscow. This time the supporters of the exiled former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili (a flamboyant Russophobe admired by the West, but wanted in his own native Georgia for corruption and for starting the war of 2008) disappointed even their ideological “claque” in Moscow.

“The fans of Georgia in Moscow were literally disarmed and made silent by none other than the Georgian TV anchor Giorgy Gabunia, who publicly insulted Vladimir Putin’s late mother on Georgian television, using unprintable words,” admitted Vladimir Vorsobin, a liberal Russian journalist, who spent the last two weeks in Georgia, trying to show the readers of Komsomolskaya Pravda (Russia’s largest newspaper by print circulation) by his example that this small post-Soviet country on the Black Sea coast was “safe for Russian tourists.”

Gabunia’s indecent stunt followed two weeks of ugly anti-Russian demonstrations, with lots of racist slogans, denouncing Russia, “the Russian Ivan,” calling Russians occupiers, etc. So, even the Russians’ patience started to wear thin, especially since these pogrom-like protests were not provoked by any new developments on the Russian side.

Indeed, on earlier occasions the organizers of Russophobic actions at least waited for some pretext. (For example, the brief five days’ war in August 2008, when Russia interfered after Saakashvili’s attack against South Ossetia, saving the small people of that former Georgian autonomy from ethnic cleansing by Saakashvili and Georgian nationalists.) This time, there was literally nothing from the Russian side: no new statements, laws or, heaven forbid, military actions. Nothing. What happened was that on June 20, 2019, a group of Russian parliamentarians came to the Georgian capital Tbilisi in order to attend the Interparliamentary Assembly of Orthodox Christianity (MAP). The rotating presidency of this group, which unites the parliamentarians of various Orthodox Christian countries (both Russia and Georgia belong to this Eastern branch of European Christianity), this year went to Russia. And it was Tbilisi’s turn to be the city host. So, the leader of the Russian parliamentarian delegation, a State Duma member Sergei Gavrilov, was invited by the hosts to take the chairman’s seat in the session hall of the Georgian parliament.

After Gavrilov took his seat, a real hell broke loose in the center of Tbilisi, leading to 240 injured (two people became one-eyed as a result of violence). The supporters of the ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, representing the largest opposition party United National Movement (UNM), violently removed Gavrilov from his seat and called on citizens to start a protest action. The sound of Russian language and the presence of a Russian deputy in a speaker’s seat were the only officially announced reasons.

“I killed Russians, I am killing them and I will kill them!” yelled one of the leaders of UNM, Akaky Bobikhidze from the tribune of the parliament after removing the “occupier” from there. His behavior was recorded for a YouTube video by the Georgian service of Radio Free Europe.

As a result of several hours of violent protests, the Georgian parliament was stormed by a pro-Saakashvili mob. When riot police defended the building, two hundred and forty people were injured (including many policemen) and more than 300 arrested. Gavrilov and members of his delegation, having suffered minor injuries, but a lot of verbal abuse, had to leave Georgia, with which Russia does not have diplomatic relations since 2008.

The other disconcerting element of this shameful situation was the fact that neither the Georgian government nor the Western media had the courage to condemn the obvious and unprovoked violence from the side of Saakashvili’s supporters. Bidzina Ivanishvili, the leader of the ruling party Georgian Dream, as well as former president Giorgy Margvelashvili solidarized themselves with the “protest action” which looked more like a pogrom because of the crude racist tone of its slogans (anti-Russian demonstrations on a smaller scale continued even after the violent stage of 20-21 July). Margvelashvili even said it was “the right way to oppose Russia’s soft power” and called on the West to imitate Georgia in its fight with Russia during his speech to the protesters. The current president of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili, who served as the foreign minister under Saakashvili before defecting to the Georgian Dream, called Russia an “enemy,” but expressed her expectation that Russian tourists would return to Georgia, since they are contributing a substantial share of the country’s GDP. (According to World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism contributed 33.7 percent of Georgia’s total GDP.)

The Western press not only solidarized itself with the anti-Russian actions in Tbilisi, it also blamed the casualties on its favorite scapegoat – the Christian Orthodox church in Russia and Georgia. Correspondent Amy MacKinnon of The Foreign Policy (a major US media outlet) traced the origins of the protest to the very idea of holding the assembly of countries with predominantly Christian Orthodox population: “The Russian Orthodox Church has long served as a conduit for Russia’s influence in Eastern Europe and has a potent influence in highly religious Georgia,” McKinnon wrote in her article, where a hope is expressed that the Georgian government will treat Orthodox church with the same suspicion as the Western press does.

The headline chosen by The Daily Beast was even more aggressive and hateful:

“Amid Russian and Orthodox Provocations, Riots in Tbilisi Threaten Pride Parade.”

Upon reading the article, it becomes clear that the gay parade, which had been scheduled to take place in Tbilisi next day after the ugly anti-Russian riot, did not receive any threats from Russians or, heaven forbid, from the Christian Orthodox believers. The organizers were just afraid to do out when the anti-Russian government (represented by Georgian police) and the anti-Russian protesters (represented by Saakashvili’s supporters) were fighting each other with rubber bullets, truncheons and stones on the streets of Tbilisi.

It is enough to quote one paragraph from that article in order to see how “tolerant” The Daily Beast was to anyone in that story who was not gay, anti-Russian or at least anti-Christian:

“After the brutal events of early Friday morning, the organizers of the Pride Parade postponed the march for several days saying, “We could not permit ourselves to contribute to further escalation of tensions in the country. We will not allow pro-Russian, Neo-Nazi groups to weaken Georgia’s statehood.” Now it is not clear when or even if the parade will take place.

According to the local news site civil.ge, the organizers of Pride feel that the Georgian government “has no desire to protect the LGBTQ community against radical groups financed from Russia.”

This shameless torrent of lies blaming the victims (because the only people threatened in those days on the streets of Tbilisi were Russians or the supporters of the Georgian Orthodox church) is indicative of the degradation of Western attitudes to Georgia.

“We should not forget that the civil wars in Georgia started in 1991, when the Georgian nationalist thugs attacked the local autonomies of Abkhazia and South Ossetia at the order of the first president of independent post-Soviet Georgia, who was then Zviad Gamsakhurdia,” remembers Dmitry Kulikov, a prominent commentator on post-Soviet space at the Moscow-based Vesti FM radio. “They were defeated and now even Georgian officials recognize that these were awful crimes committed by Gamsakhurdia under the flag of Georgian nationalism. So, why does anyone expect the people with the same ideology around Saakashvili and Zurabishvili to be any better?”

At the time, in 1991-1992 the Western press had the objectivity to call Zviad Gamsakhurdia a madman and a criminal. The Western governments did not protest in any way, when Gamsakhurdia’s government was toppled by the internal Georgian opposition in an armed uprising which many said had the backing of Moscow.

So, why is the West backing the same Russophobic Georgian nationalists who are now acting together with exiled Mikheil Saakashvili, a psychological and ideological double of Gamsakhurdia?

This is a question which historians will have a hard time answering. It was not Georgian nationalism that changed (it stayed largely the same – violent, noisy, anti-Russian and always eager to get Western backing). It was the West (namely, the US, the EU and their allies) that changed for worse.

The Saker interviews Stephen Karganovic

The Saker

The Saker interviews Stephen Karganovic

June 30, 2019

The Saker: Please introduce yourself and your past and present political activities.

Karganovic: My name is Stephen Karganovic. My background is Serbian, Russian, and Polish. On my father’s side I have been able to trace family roots to the town of Khmelita, Smolensk district. In the first half of the 19th century Yuri Karganovich held the by then probably obsolete office of стольник (stolnik) in the regional town of Iskorosten. Perhaps because of my ethnically ecumenical background, I prefer to identify myself simply as an Orthodox Christian. I am a law school graduate, also with a degree in philosophy. I have never engaged in political activities as such. What interests me are issues with a moral dimension, and if they also happen to impinge upon politics, so be it.

The Saker: You are one of the best “Srebrenica specialists” out there. So, could you please in your own words describe, step by step, what actually took place in Srebrenica from the moment the Bosnian-Muslims raided the Serbian villages around Srebrenica to the moment the grand “genocide” strategic psy-op was launched.

Karganovic: I became interested in what happened in Srebrenica in July of 1995, during the Bosnian war, when in 2001 at the Hague I became involved in the defense of a Bosnian Serb officer accused of war crimes before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. I was in America, of course, while the war was going on and knew nothing of Srebrenica at that time. Neither did I have any axe to grind in the controversies that sparked that conflict. I was raised and educated in the United States, had a very vague concept of my ethnic background(s), and neither I nor my family had suffered any detriment at the hands of the other contending parties, so I had no motive to favor one side or disfavor another. As we sifted through the evidence in order to construct a defense, I noticed that the prosecution’s case consisted of broad allegations and was bereft of specific facts to support the grave charges laid against the defendant, which included genocide, an accusation that takes much highly technical evidence to prove. As I witnessed firsthand the unconventional legal procedures of the Hague Tribunal, which is a polite way of saying its complete alienation from the traditions of civilized jurisprudence, I became shocked. There did not seem to be much substance to the charge sheets. The remark once made by a hubristic US judge that “we can convict a ham sandwich,” which sounded flippant to me when I read it many years ago, ultimately received its full embodiment in the operation of the Hague Tribunal, and I had a ring-side seat to watch that professionally unedifying show.

I went on to work in several other defense teams at the Hague in cases that were not related to Srebrenica. But to make the long story short, I quickly realized that Srebrenica was the mainstay of the Hague Tribunal, or ICTY, and that officially confirming the “genocide” and “8,000 men and boys” version of the narrative was its principal mission. I was bothered to see defendants convicted to decades-long imprisonment on the most heinous of charges and flimsiest proof, and a nation tarred with the most serious crime under international law, based on improvised and fabricated “evidence” that would not stand up in any non-political domestic court. So, I began to pay special attention to Srebrenica and to use the resources available to me at the Hague Tribunal to collect all the data I could lay my hands on about what happened there.

In 2008 at the Hague, under the laws of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, I founded a non-government organization “Srebrenica Historical Project,” dedicated to a contextual, multi-disciplinary study of this issue. Our goal is to get to the bottom of what happened, and how and why. Our colleagues, whose research articles you can read on our website, are of diverse ethnic backgrounds and professional profiles. Almost none are Serbian. They have in common a critical approach and a desire to factually deconstruct what the late Prof. Edward Herman aptly called “the greatest triumph of propaganda at the close of the twentieth century.” He was referring to Srebrenica, of course.

Instead of my presenting a possibly subjective account of what happened in Srebrenica, I recommend visiting our website. Our many authors give, I think, persuasive and factual answers to most Srebrenica questions.

The Saker: What has the impact of Srebrenica been on the Serbian people and the Serbian state? Who has benefited most from this?

Karganovic: Srebrenica’s impact has been to bewilder the Serbian people, who are under the firm impression that they are victims, not perpetrators, of genocide. After bewilderment came indignant rejection of the Srebrenica smear. Western governments and the Soros organization have invested huge sums in Serbia into propping up a bevy of phony “NGOs” with the principal task of indoctrinating the public in the Srebrenica genocide guilt complex. Their efforts have been a dismal failure, notwithstanding the country’s demoralized state and the covert support of Serbia’s quisling governments. The goal, of course, is to further morally break down and emasculate the Serbian nation, to lay on them a paralyzing guilt trip and to render them submissive and obedient, apologizing and atoning forever for acts of moral turpitude that, unlike the Germans, they did not commit. So far, that particular “use of Srebrenica,” as Diana Johnstone would put it, has been a resounding flop.

But another, and very lethal, use of Srebrenica has been a huge success. The Srebrenica narrative is the foundation stone and chief rationale of the “right to protect” (R2P) doctrine of cynical, predatory imperialist interventions that have destroyed and devastated a dozen mostly Muslim countries and claimed several million innocent Muslim lives. R2P’s phony rationale is the supposed failure in July of 1995 of Western countries and NATO to act robustly to prevent the “Srebrenica genocide.” Srebrenica as a metaphor for unbridled imperialist aggression has indeed been a slaughterhouse for Muslims, but not in Bosnia in 1995.

The Saker: Can you outline what is currently happening in Serbia? We hear of a possible conflict with the US-backed Kosovo Albanians, of a possible EU and/or NATO membership? What is really taking place?

Karganovic: In response to your question about what is happening in Serbia (I am in America right now) I will quote from an email that I received today from a friend who teaches at a university abroad but is currently on holiday in Serbia: “There are heavy rains and floods here – Belgrade has been flooded twice – with torrents sweeping away cars as if they were mere toys. There is general chaos in the entire country, and everything is falling apart. But the gang in charge are celebrating themselves as saints and saviors, and there seems to be nothing of greater importance to Serbs than to put on the shackles of the European Union!”

That is admittedly a pessimistic assessment, but I believe it to be close to the truth. Slavic nations generally are not politically sophisticated and can easily be fooled and manipulated by savvy conmen. The Ukraine is a notorious example. Serbs are not far behind; they have the political acumen of seven-year-olds. I read somewhere that young Germans nowadays watch Hitler’s histrionics and wonder how their parents and grandparents could have been so simpleminded as to put their faith in that buffoon and accept his leadership. Future generations of Serbs will undoubtedly be reviewing the performance of the loathsome character who is running their country into the ground today and will wonder how their parents and grandparents could possibly have tolerated his obnoxious misrule.

As for the news of conflict with US-backed Albanians in Kosovo, on the part of the quisling regime there is neither the will nor the means to enter into such a confrontation. The regime was installed in order arrange for Serbia’s legal renunciation of Kosovo and its capos are well aware that reneging on that commitment will have for them most unpleasant consequences. As for actually opposing anything, Serbia no longer has an army worthy of the name, hence no means with which to effectively assert or defend its interests. It is at the mercy of foreign imperialists and their bought and blackmailed local agents. NATO membership seems definitely on the horizon because incorporation in today’s Axis is an essential component of the planned Ostfront war, as much today as it was in 1941.

The Saker: What about Montenegro? Has the Empire been successful in breaking off Montenegro from Serbia and is what is happening nowadays with Montenegro similar to what the Empire did in the Ukraine? I hear that an “independent Montenegrin Orthodox Church” is being prepared, is that true? How toxic/important is this development (assuming it is true)?

Karganovic: The only reason that Montenegro is not labeled “Europe’s last dictatorship,” but Byelorussia is, is that unlike Lukashenko its blackmailed dictator Djukanovic is a servile Western lapdog. With many criminal indictments in Italy waiting to be activated against him at the slightest hint of disobedience, for drug, cigarette, and human trafficking, he has no choice but to be one.

The similarities between the “nation-building” procedures in the Ukraine and Montenegro are striking. What this refers to is the artificial insemination of the target population with a phony, completely fabricated identity entirely at odds with their genuine history and culture, all to their detriment and in the service of their geopolitical manipulators’ and enemies’ agenda. We already know the Ukrainian story and need not repeat it here. The Montenegrin story is precisely analogous. Since subservient local chieftains receive memos telling them what they are expected to do, one may safely assume that in one of those memos delivered to Djukanovic he was instructed to initiate the setting up of a non-Serbian Montenegrin identity in order to fragment and undermine Serbian ethnic and cultural space even further. He obeyed.

The result today are regime-sponsored and condoned anti-Serbian excesses that closely compete with those of the Ukrainian looneys and often boggle the imagination. A recent example is an Instagram message by a certain Mirna Nikcevic, a counselor at the Montenegrin embassy in Ankara, where she wrote contemptuously of the crowd of Montenegrin Serbs that gathered around the cathedral of Christ the Savior in Podgorica to protest the regime’s plan to take over the temples of the canonical Orthodox church and hand them over to a schismatic pseudo church it had set up, that she would “cram the assembled cattle [meaning Montenegrins asserting their Serbian heritage – S. K.] into the church and set it on fire.” That most undiplomatic remark was mildly reproved by Djukanovic’s foreign ministry, but it accurately reflects the dementia of his partisans.

An “independent” Montenegrin church, as a fitting complement to the country’s statehood and alleged ethnic specificity, was in fact created a few years ago in a way that even the Ukrainian lunatics, who serve as the model for Djukanovic and his crew, would have difficulty topping. This “church” founded by atheists (which is what former Communist youth leader Djukanovic admittedly is) was set up as an NGO and registered as such in a Montenegrin police station. Recognizing the autocephaly of the Ukrainian pseudo-church was a piece of cake for the corrupt ecumenical patriarch in Constantinople compared to his forthcoming task of legitimizing the Montenegrin sect. He will have to figure out how to do it when he gets the memo from NATO that this is the next thing that is expected of him. (It is true that the ecumenical Patriarch informed Djukanovic a few days ago that Montenegro never had an autocephalous church and never will have one. But the fickleness of the Patriarchate is legendary. With a little pressure here, and some financial inducement there, the latter having worked miracles in the Ukrainian affair, a canonical rationale for a flip flop can surely be found.) Toxic is one word for the phenomenon of using Orthodox church institutions for the self-destruction of Orthodoxy. Ominous is another word for it and, as sheikh Imran Hosein would say, it is a reliable sign of akhir al-zamaan.

The Saker: Who won the Yugoslav civil war, if anybody? Here forget about Slovenia – please focus on Croatia and Bosnia.

Karganovic: The war was won, in a manner of speaking, by the globalist power centers which engineered the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia. They got what they wanted, feeble and dependent statelets run by their hired hands instead of a unified country with weight in world affairs, which at home did not even perform badly. The losers were all the citizens of the former Yugoslavia without exception, not only those who perished in senseless mayhem instigated by foreign agents and executed by domestic fools, but also the miserable survivors who must now live in the resulting neo-liberal hellholes.

The Saker: Are there any Serbs left in the former UN Protected Areas in what is Croatia nowadays and, if yes, how do they live?

Karganovic: Yes, there is a very small number of Serbs left in present-day Croatia, their share in the total population hovering around the 3% mark, drastically down from a quarter of the population before the slaughter in the Nazi-satellite “Independent State of Croatia” during World War II. They are mostly elderly, waiting to die hopefully natural deaths, if permitted by their Croatian fellow citizens.

The Saker: Are there any Serbs left in the Muslim-controlled areas of Bosnia today?

Karganovic: Yes, they are a whopping and largely disenfranchised 5% of the population of that section of the country. For purposes of comparison, in the capital of Sarajevo, where before the outbreak of the hostilities in 1992 there were about 150,000 Serbs, there are now only a few thousand left.

The Saker: How much autonomy does the Republika Srpska have today? Focus on this: are the Serbs in Bosnia safe or at they at risk?

Karganovic: The Republika Srpska, which is the Serb-run entity within Bosnia and Hercegovina under the Dayton Agreement signed to end the war in 1995, is continually struggling to preserve the autonomy guaranteed to it under international law. Above the local authorities, there is a “High Representative” of the “international community” who is really the official in charge in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has arrogated to himself vast arbitrary powers to interpret laws, set up institutions, and dismiss democratically elected officials he deems unsuitable. It is a replication of the British colonial system. The Srebrenica genocide matter is being used as a pretext to dispute Republika Srpska’s legal and moral right to exist. No one is entirely safe in present-day Bosnia and Hercegovina.

The Saker: How do you see the future of Kosovo in general and of the Serbian minority in Kosovo specifically?

Karganovic: Until the results of NATO aggression in 1999 are annulled Kosovo will have no future, except as a narco and human organ trafficking pseudo state. Albanians are fleeing en masse the utterly incompetent and corrupt terror regime that was installed by NATO occupiers twenty years ago. The land is saturated with the depleted uranium munitions left over from the three-month NATO bombing campaign and is scarcely fit for human habitation. If you go to Kosovo, I would recommend you make your visit brief and bring your own canned food, avoiding contaminated local ingredients. Babies and animals are being born with hideous defects. Few people are aware of this, but Kosovo was targeted with the highest concentration of depleted uranium and other toxic substances during NATO’s 1999 “liberation war.” Being the majority of the population, Albanians are now paying a heavy price for NATO’s generous favors. Meanwhile, since Kosovo is a pot of gold in terms of its mineral and other resources, the chief liberators Wesley Clark and Madeleine Albright have made a financial killing by awarding themselves juicy business opportunities, while the “philanthropist” George Soros has his eye set on the enormously valuable Trepča mining complex. International corporations will get their choice pickings. Meanwhile, Albanians are dying of cancer and desperately moving out. There is a small remnant of Serbs still living in Kosovo which is spiritually and culturally their Holy Land. The future of that scene of ghastly crimes against humanity is in God’s hands.

The Saker: How many Serbs were displaced in total by the war and where do they reside nowadays?

Karganovic: Estimates are not reliable, but about a quarter of a million are thought to have been displaced from Croatia and as many from Kosovo. A further unknown number sought in Serbia safety from the war in Bosnia. We cannot be sure of the numbers, but we do have striking pictures which portray an exodus of biblical proportions.

The Saker: Are the Serbian refugees from Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo a major factor in Serbian politics? If yes, how, if not, why?

Karganovic: They are not a factor at all. They are not allowed to interfere with the policies pursued by the Western-installed Serbian political elite.

The Saker: Do you think that the US and/or NATO have the stomach to use force against Serbia if the Serbs move to protect the Serbian minority in Kosovo?

Karganovic: It is a moot question because the hypothetical situation envisaged by the question is unlikely to occur.

The Saker: What happened to Bishop Artemie and why did the Serbian Orthodox Church yield to the Empire’s pressure and took away his diocese of Kosovo? How is he now and how can the readers find out more about him?

Karganovic: In essence, the American ambassador in Belgrade told the Serbian Patriarch that Bishop Artemie was an obstacle to “normalization” in Kosovo and that it was highly desirable for him to be removed. Within four days, Bishop Artemie was dismissed on trumped-up financial malfeasance charges which after a decade have not been proved in a court of law. His ouster seems to have been a blessing in disguise. He is now leading a thriving “diocese in exile,” where he is joined by most of his Kosovo clergy and monastics. Catacomb parishes, as he aptly calls them, of the exiled diocese are springing up all over Serbia and countries with a Serbian diaspora. The diocese that was contemptuously cast away by the servile, ecumenist leadership of the Serbian Church has now become its salt, providing much needed spiritual nourishment to Orthodox believers. It is living proof of God’s ability to confound the adversary’s most carefully laid plans and to transform them for the good.

The Saker: What should Russia do to help Serbia? What is, in your opinion, the “solution” to the Serbian drama in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo?

Karganovic: That is an overtly political question and as I said, I don’t do politics. I will just say that what Russia can and should do is to never abandon Serbia. That will at the same time be the solution to the drama that you mention. But none of that will be purely the work of human hands.

 

Bamiyan, Babylon, Palmyra, Notre-Dame

April 16, 2019

Bamiyan, Babylon, Palmyra, Notre-Dame

by Pepe Escobar for The Saker Blog

The Bamiyan Buddhas were destroyed by an intolerant sect pretending to follow Islam. Buddhism all across Asia grieved. The West hardly paid attention.

The remaining ruins of Babylon, and the attached museum, were occupied, plundered and vandalized by a US Marine base during Shock and Awe in 2003. The West paid no attention.

Vast tracts of Palmyra – a legendary Silk Road oasis – were destroyed by another intolerant sect pretending to follow Islam with their backs covered by layers of Western “intelligence”. The West paid no attention.

Scores of Catholic and Orthodox churches in Syria were burnt to the ground by the same intolerant sect pretending to follow Islam with their backs sponsored and weaponized, among others, by the US, Britain and France. The West paid no attention whatsoever.

Notre-Dame, which in many ways can be construed as the Matrix of the West, is partially consumed by a theoretically blind fire.

Especially the roof; hundreds of oak beams, some dating back to the 13th century. Metaphorically, this could be interpreted as the burning of the roof over the West’s collective heads.

Bad karma? Finally?

*

Now back to the nitty-gritty.

Notre-Dame belongs to the French state, which had been paying little to no attention to a gothic jewel that traversed eight centuries.

Fragments of arcades, chimeras, reliefs, gargoyles were always falling to the ground and kept in an improvised deposit in the back of the cathedral.

Only last year Notre-Dame got a check for 2 million euros to restore the spire – which burned to the ground yesterday.

To restore the whole cathedral would have cost 150 million euros, according to the top world expert on Notre-Dame, who happens to be an American, Andrew Tallon.

Recently, the custodians of the cathedral and the French state were actually at war.

The French state was making at least 4 million euros a year, charging tourists to enter the Twin (Bell) Towers but putting back only 2 million euros for the maintenance of Notre-Dame.

The rector of Notre-Dame refused to charge for a ticket to enter the cathedral – as it happens, for example, at the Duomo in Milan.

Notre-Dame basically survives on donations – which pay the salaries of only 70 employees who need not only to supervise the masses of tourists but also to organize eight masses a day.

The French state’s proposal to minimize the ordeal; organize a beneficent lottery. That is; privatize what is a state commitment and obligation.

So yes: Sarkozy and Macron, their whole administrations, are directly and indirectly responsible for the fire.

Now comes the Notre-Dame of Billionaires.

Pinault (Gucci, St. Laurent) pledged 100 million euros from his personal fortune for the restoration. Arnault (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) doubled down, pledging 200 million euros.

So why not privatize this damn fine piece of real estate – disaster capitalism-style? Welcome to Notre-Dame luxury condo, hotel and attached mall.

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