Tuesday, April 25, 2023

More Ukrainian stuff, related to the War or not, with a side of Russian things.....

About eleven months ago we did a post on the Russian-Ukrainian war, pointing out the amounts of outright censorship and throttling of outlets online. Things have gotten a lot more bizarre since then.


Part of the absolute reduction of Twitter from "that site the journos and comedians hang out at" to "Elon's Rightwing Funhouse" has been the rise of the North Atlantic Fellas Organization, this bizarro quasi-parody of NATO, operator culture, and Internet memes. All of the members get little Shiba Inu person avatars (a reference to Dogecoin), and they have made "saints" out of anti-tank/short-range anti-aircraft missiles, such as "Saint Javelin", a name they reused for their sticker and merchandise store.

Above: a pretty conservative-looking "Shibe" avatar; many are depicted carrying weapons in full combat gear. Most of them have the same stance, a feature probably taken from the computer-generated style of NFT "art" collections.
Below: Saint Javelin painted on the side of a building in Kyiv. I have seen pro-Russian bloggers call this art blasphemous.

The criticism of NAFO has been there early on, because anybody can join (ex-Congressman Adam Kinzinger is a "fella") and this has not just meant the normal Twitter horde but a bunch of government figures, mercenaries, political operators, and hangers-on as Moss Robeson and The Greyzone point out. Paul Massaro ("senior policy advisor to the U.S. Helsinki Commission" - Robeson), his online girlfriend Alona Shevchenko (involved in cryptocurrency and now Ukrainian nationalism), Matthew VanDyke (founder of the Sons of Liberty International mercenary group, and a former fighter in the Syrian civil war), Benjamin Wittes (Brookings Institute, married to an ex-State Department official), the Kyiv Post newspaper (very pro-Azov Battalion, paper mostly staffed by imported rightwingers after most of the Ukrainians were fired), John Sipher (ex-CIA media commentator), and many others are joining/backing NAFO. . . . .which means their money is going to back the Georgian Legion of Mamuka Mamulashvili (founded 2014), which seems to be what Kamil Dyszewski and Matt Moores (the mostly-unspoken founders of NAFO) were aiming to do, and everything else is a bonus. No word if Saint Javelin creator Christian Borys (Canadian freelance journalist) is unhappy with that choice. The Georgian Legion (now full of non-Georgian foreign volunteers) has gotten in hot water in the past for killing disarmed Russian soldiers on camera, no less. Mamulashvili has said his group does not tolerate neo-Nazis and ethnic nationalists, and yet men like Ethan Tiling (Australian, now claims to being an ex-neo-Nazi), Norweigan Joachim Furholm (another neo-Nazi), and Craig Lang (ex-US Army, did time with Right Sektor and the Georgian Legion, on the run for two murders in the US) were involved, mostly in the run-up to the Russian invasion when the Georgian Legion was fighting in the Donbass and Luhansk.

It should be said that much of the above were taken from news reports written within the last five years, but NAFO keeps on giving to this day, such as when "fella" Pekka Kallionniemi, a research fellow at Tampere University in Finland started ripping Kim Dotcom in a Twitter thread.  Dotcom responded and one of his rebuttals involved Seth Rich, that he was unwilling to handle the information (the Hillary Clinton emails and DNC leak material) Rich had, so Dotcom put him in contact with Wikileaks and things moved from there. In one swoop a NAFOite was able to sink the "Russian hackers" story, all by accident, if you believe Kim Dotcom's claims.

A View from the Underground

Some quotes:

. . . . .Ukraine’s new authorities actually made every concession to neo-Nazi militants because they themselves feared the monster they had armed to keep them in power. However, nationalist and neo-Nazi groups were systematically made mainstream by all Ukrainian governments after the collapse of the Soviet Union; they were needed to reverse the mass nostalgia for the late-Soviet welfare state with free healthcare, education, free apartments for workers, free trips to resorts and vacation homes with very low prices for food, gas, electricity and public transport.

Now people get prison sentences for even wearing a Soviet badge, listening to Communist songs, or wearing a T-shirt with a hammer and sickle. Most of the communists left for the rebellious republics of Donbass (where their own communist party operates), some went to Russia, and some stayed to work underground in Ukraine.

Even recently, in March 2023, the Ukrainian security services reported the detention in western Ukraine, in the city of Lviv, of a cell of the illegal Communist Party of the Soviet Union, numbering 45 people. Judging by their description, they were mostly elderly people. . . . .

....Even before 2022, Ukraine went through a stage of deindustrialization, when most of the country’s enterprises were shut down. This was one of the consequences of the trade association with the European Union, which caused the Euromaidan in 2014. Millions of Ukrainians were already working on construction sites in Russia or in the fields in Poland, as nurses in Italy, or in shopping malls in Turkey. By that time, a whole class of people had formed in Ukraine, living on their relatives’ salaries, which they transferred to them from abroad.

As a consequence, Ukraine is experiencing a shortage of workers, even to maintain infrastructure. A Ukrainian worker receives an average of $200-250 per month, but this is usually enough for a couple of weeks. The fact is that in 2014 Ukraine began to take mass loans from the IMF, the World Bank and Western countries. The condition for the loans was a sharp increase in tariffs for gas, light, and gasoline, so that the debtor could pay back later. Since 2014, the prices of heating, water, transport, and electricity in Ukraine have increased five to six times, while in Donbass they remained almost at the same level. For this reason, Ukrainian workers prefer to work abroad and spend their earnings at home..... 


The Russo-Ukrainian Dilemma

Not enough has been written about the probable collapse of the Russo-Ukrainian identity, which was fragile at the best of times. Unfortunately at the time of this edit of this post (11-09-23) the string of online articles we were hoping to unearth on that subject did not materialize. We will do more work, and will come back to this subject in the near future.

The "side of Russian things"......

Above: One of the 2020 social media ads made by a news website (not the infamous "troll factory") in St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad) with ties to the now-deceased Yevgeny Prigozhin (he was on their board of trustees) that pushed for a Russian federal amendment to the Russian constitution making it mandatory that households who adopt children be cisgender, i.e. a man and woman in a family unit. The ad itself is set in 2035, features a gay couple adopting a Russian orphan boy, with all the nasty undertones of pederasty implied in this sort of "think of the children" propaganda. This video is from The Moscow Times, but my link to it is The Russian Reader blog

Russian Dissent Substack: The Revolution That Wasn't  (June 28, 2023)  A piece on the Wagner Group revolt before Prigozhin's demise.

Below: Video from Vestnik Buri on the history of Yevgeny Prigozhin up to roughly January of this year. A very critical view of the man. Remember to turn on the subtitles in the settings.

Below: The film that embodies what has been going on in Russia since the war started, a return to the military-criminal mess of the 1990s, Brat (Brother) from 1997, made right after the First Chechen War ended in 1996. This version has hard-coded subtitles (laserdisc dub?), and is broken into eight pieces. They have the film in HD, but subtitle-less and I presume my audience does not speak the language. Here is part one: