Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ukraine Crisis; It's the Oligarchs, stupid!

Anyone who regularly reads only Western media accounts about the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine well knows the genesis of these troubles; Putin's aggression.

Yes, Putin must be stopped, blah blah blah...

But reading between the lines there is quite another theme that comes up again and again; the extent to which over the twenty-plus years of independence, a small clique of insiders has taken over the ship of state, driven the country deep into debt, and vastly enriched themselves.

These men (and one woman) have demonstrated ever-shifting loyalties between parties, and to lesser or greater allegiances to the pro-European camp. When no extant political parties are pliable enough for their tastes, they start their own. Their ultimate loyalties lie with their own self-interest.

The rise of the oligarchs since 1991 has coincided precisely with the decline in the standard of living among the working population. Ukrainians have seen their conditions steadily fall behind neighbouring countries. The Poles are far ahead now, to say nothing of the Western European countries. Even Russian workers now enjoy a higher living standard.

At the same time, the entirety of what was once the state's resources ended up in the hands of a few billionaires. But thanks to the relentless proselytizing of myriad Western-sponsored "democracy promotion" groups, a large percentage of the population see the oligarchs as patriots and instead blame Putin for their impoverishment.

A billionaire of any nation has more in common with other billionaires, be they Russian, American, Hungarian, or whatever, than with the students, workers, pensioners, and unemployed of his own country. Loading up the government with oligarchs and their flunkies at this time is guaranteed to turn out well for the oligarchs.

For the people? Not so much.

Hundreds of articles have been written about the role of the oligarchs in the present crisis. Here are links to a few recent ones:

In March The Guardian provided a handy guide to who's who in the world of Ukrainian oligarchy. While they are in every case portrayed as "self-made" men, it is interesting to note that most state assets have ended up in their pockets. While they were making themselves, something was being un-made.

In April, the Financial Times noted that the emerging billionaire super-patriots had a history of cosy relations with "the enemy."

In May, the LA Times finds oligarchs, having made a call on which way the winds are blowing, speaking out against Russia.

In June, the Wall Street Journal features an oligarch who is not only "Ukraine's Secret Weapon", but is "feisty" to boot.

Three days ago, Al Jazeera tips their cap to the oligarchs, but hints there may be shady games afoot. Well no wonder, the writer is Alexander Nekrassov, a former Kremlin adviser.

And today we get the good news that oligarch Yury Kosyuk has been named uber-minister for defence, where he promises to rid the military of thieves and fraudsters. Presumably he knows fraud and thievery when he sees it.

What these stories together indicate is that the oligarchs of Ukraine have established a choke-hold over the political process. Loudly aided and abetted by foreign "democracy promotion" NGOs and political meddlers like Victoria Nuland, John Baird, and Stephen Harper, they now hold the reins of what was supposedly a popular uprising.

We can rest assured that they will do everything in their power to consolidate and advance the interests of every Ukrainian oligarch.

As to the rest of the population; good luck!

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