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427The Yushchenko Mythos

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  • Greg Cannon
    Nov 29, 2004
      I'm not entirely convinced about everything in this
      article, but it does make a lot of good points. For a
      more pro-Yushchenko view, see
      http://www.brama.com/news which also has links to a
      lot of ukrainian news sites, some of which have
      English translations.

      November 29, 2004
      The Yushchenko Mythos
      Don't believe the U.S. government's fairy tale about
      what's happening in Ukraine
      by Justin Raimondo
      According to the U.S. government, and commentators on
      the left as well as the (neoconservative) right, the
      crisis in the Ukraine is a clear-cut case of
      "democracy" versus authoritarianism, "the people"
      versus "the oligarchs," and the forces of enlightened
      Europhilia up against the sinister specter of a
      resurgent Russia and a revivified KGB.

      The only problem with this narrative is that it is
      unmitigated bunk.

      Let's start with the central figures in this drama:
      the two Viktors � Yushchenko and Yanukovich. To begin
      with, you'll note that the former has a website in
      English, while the latter's site is only in the native
      Ukrainian and Russian. Yushchenko's audience is
      primarily the West, while Yanukovich is speaking to
      his own people. Right off the bat, the line of
      demarcation is drawn.

      According to the conventional wisdom, Yanukovich is a
      dark demonic figure, a Soviet-type bureaucrat whose
      ties to Russia and the eastern power base of the
      ruling elite, automatically make him the bad guy.
      Besides that, we are told, Yanukovich is a man with a
      "criminal record," who served two jail terms. What
      they don't tell you is that Yanukovich was jailed by
      the Soviet regime on charges of robbery and assault.
      As the Los Angeles Times noted:

      "A biography distributed on behalf of Yanukovich says
      that 'having suffered through a very tragic and tough
      childhood . . . the prime minister acknowledges
      regrettable youthful indiscretions, resulting in
      criminal charges that were eventually overturned by a
      Ukrainian court.'"

      On the other hand, Yushchenko's indiscretions � which
      are not being reported in the Western media at all �
      were neither youthful nor the occasion for his public
      repentance. And if a youthful Yanukovich held up a
      Ukrainian gas station or knocked someone upside the
      head and took his wallet, Yushchenko was a key figure
      in a conspiracy to defraud the West of over $600

      The idea that Yushchenko is some kind of outsider,
      whose victory will cause the fresh winds of
      free-market reform to blow through the sealed chamber
      of corruption that is the Ukrainian economy is another
      Western fairy tale that has no basis in reality.
      Yushie is a key figure in the oligarchic system of
      "crony capitalism" that has enriched the few at the
      expense of the many since the fall of the USSR. He
      rose to power � as head of the Ukrainian central bank
      through a good deal of the 1990s, and then as prime
      minister in the thuggish Leonid Kuchma's government in
      1999 � on account of the power of the oligarchs. These
      "entrepreneurs" who made their fortunes on the
      strength of their connections to the Communist
      apparatus control the commanding heights of the
      Ukrainian economy, and what is happening today in the
      Ukraine is a civil war involving the various
      oligarchic clans. As a Carnegie study of the Ukrainian
      political landscape by Anders Aslund puts it:

      "In Russia, the financial-industrial groups provide
      financing to various parties and to the government. In
      Ukraine, the economic-political groups rather tend to
      own political parties. Lazarenko and Timoshenko
      created the parliamentary party Hromada, as a company
      party of the Unified Energy Systems. Vadim Rabinovich
      has reportedly 'bought' the Green Party. Surkis and
      Medevedchuk reportedly own the United Social
      Democratic Party. However, Bakai, Pinchuk and the
      Franchuks support Kuchma directly and possibly his
      party the National-Democratic Party.
      Characteristically, all these oligarchic parties are
      considered centrist, that is, always prepared to make
      a deal without any real ideology."

      Yushchenko is a creature of this system, and his
      tenure at the National Bank of the Ukraine was marked
      by the corruption so characteristic of the political
      culture: a scandal involving falsification of the
      country's credit ledger � essentially lying to the
      International Monetary Fund about the quantity of
      Ukrainian cash reserves. As the Financial Times

      "Under his control, the bank was involved in a
      damaging row with the International Monetary Fund over
      the use of IMF loans to falsify the country's credit
      position - allowing some politicians, but not Mr
      Yushchenko, to benefit personally. He survived the
      ensuing scandal."

      A PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) audit confirmed the
      suspicions of IMF officials that Western lenders have
      been systematically deceived by Yushchenko's NBU:

      "By giving a misleading impression of the size of
      Ukraine's reserves, the NBU's reserve management
      practices may have allowed Ukraine to receive as many
      as three disbursements under the stand-by arrangement
      in effect at that time that it might not otherwise
      have been able to obtain. � The three disbursements in
      question that would have been affected by the
      transactions examined in the PwC report were based on
      October, November, and December 1997 figures. They
      total SDR 145 million (about US$200 million)."

      What happened to all that money? Pavlo Lazarenko
      knows, and he hasn't been shy about telling us what he
      knows. But is anybody listening?

      According to Lazarenko � formerly prime minister, and
      a key figure in the oligarchy � $613 million of the
      IMF's money was embezzled and then laundered in
      December 1997. Like many other Soviet era bureaucrats,
      Lazarenko took advantage of the extensive network of
      overseas secret accounts established by the
      nomenklatura once the old Soviet Union started to
      unravel. With state funds secreted abroad, the
      oligarchs bought up the remnants of the old state
      industries, and divided the economic assets among
      themselves. Lazarenko was the chief patron of one of
      Yushchenko's biggest supporters, Yuliya Timoshenko of
      the United Energy Systems of the Ukraine (UESU), who
      made fantastic profits at a time of economic
      recession. However, Ms. Timoshenko, and her fellow
      oligarchs, as Alexander's Gas & Oil Connections

      "Could realize these profits only with the help of
      state support. � The amount of money involved has been
      highlighted by the Lazarenko affair. According to a
      report by the Financial Times, Pavlo Lazarenko, who
      was Ukraine's prime minister in 1996-97, received at
      least $ 72 mm in bribe money from gas importer UESU.
      In return, Lazarenko helped UESU to become one of
      Ukraine's leading companies with an annual turnover of
      $ 10 billion."

      "When Lazarenko was sacked as prime minister, his
      successor Valery Pustovoitenko started a comprehensive
      investigation into the business of UESU, which led to
      the first accusations. In December of 1998, Lazarenko
      was arrested in Switzerland on charges of money
      laundering. He fled to the United States, where he was
      again arrested and charged with the laundering of $
      114 mm received as bribe money during his time in

      "This June, while still being held in the United
      States, Lazarenko was sentenced for money laundering
      in Switzerland. Yuliya Timoshenko, who was president
      of UESU when Lazarenko was prime minister, has so far
      avoided criminal prosecution. In 1997, she left the
      company and went into politics."

      Ms. Timoshenko went on to become a deputy prime
      minister, in 1999, with special authority over energy
      matters. Her husband, still a member of the board of
      UESU, was arrested on charges of embezzlement of state
      property. Ms. Timoshenko, too, was arrested, and �
      after much posing and posturing as a "political
      prisoner" � was freed.

      It is entirely appropriate that the "gas princess," as
      Ms. Timoshenko is known, should become the La
      Passionaria of Ukraine's phony "velvet revolution." As
      she leaps atop the stage at the massive rallies taking
      place in the middle of Kiev, she speaks with Amazonian
      forcefulness and the authority of someone used to
      being obeyed, as The Australian reports:

      "'Form a column and come with us to the presidency,'
      she shouted to a crowd on Wednesday. 'Once we arrive
      at the presidency, we won't leave until Yushchenko
      enters it as the new Ukrainian president and occupies
      his post.'"

      The Lazarenko-Timoshenko wing of the oligarchy is
      naturally grateful to Yushie � after all, he fronted
      for them in bilking the IMF. Now they are paying him
      back with their fulsome support. This isn't the
      struggle of valiant pro-Western "democrats" versus
      sinister pro-Russian neo-communists: Timoshenko's
      histrionics represent a falling out among thieves.

      In any case, from the Gas Princess to the Boadicea of
      the "democracy" movement in Ukraine is a fanciful
      transformation, at best, but Western propagandists are
      counting on the American public's ignorance of the
      Ukrainian scene to pull off one of the biggest frauds
      since the selling of convicted embezzler Ahmed Chalabi
      as the Iraqi George Washington.

      Few remember now that one of the alleged economic
      benefits of the "cakewalk" war was supposed to have
      been a huge drop in the price of oil: Iraq would be
      pumping as much and as fast as required by Washington,
      and the profits were going to finance the
      reconstruction. Well, that didn't exactly work out,
      now did it? So our grand strategists in Washington
      have turned to the legendary Caspian "Silk Road" to
      oil riches, reviving the dream of a Trans-Caucasian
      oil pipeline that will fill the gas tanks of Europe,
      bring down prices rapidly � and hand over control of
      much of the world's hydrocarbons to U.S. corporate
      interests and their allies.

      Forget all this melodramatic folderol about Ukraine's
      "orange revolution" � and follow the money. The
      mythologizing of the Ukrainian "democratic" opposition
      serves certain Western economic interests, as John
      Laughland has pointed out:

      "Efforts are being redoubled to crank into action the
      various pipelines which are supposed to transport
      Caspian oil to Western markets. One of these is the
      Brody pipeline which runs between the Ukrainian town
      of that name and the Black Sea port of Odessa (a
      Russian city but also in Ukraine). The Brody pipeline
      was initially supposed to take US-controlled Caspian
      oil to Western markets, but it has instead been
      pumping Russia oil, something the Americans do not

      "So the New World Order strategists are determined to
      put their man in control of Ukraine, at the
      presidential election on 31st October. Huge influence,
      and presumably money, is being pumped in to ensure a
      victory for Victor Yushchenko. Paul Wolfowitz said in
      Warsaw on 5th October that Ukraine should join NATO.
      Mark Brzezinski and Richard Holbrooke have rattled
      their sabers over Ukraine, and Anders Aslund, the
      architect of Yelstin's mass larceny, has eloquently
      outlined the West's strategic interest in that

      "These national strategic interests are, as ever,
      supported by the private interests of the powerful
      people lobbying for this new anti-Putin policy. They
      include people like David Owen and Jacob Rothschild:
      the former is Yukos' representative in Britain, the
      latter put up much of Khodorkovsky's original money,
      and sits (together with Henry Kissinger) on the board
      of the Open Russia Foundation, a Yukos front. They
      also include Anders Aslund, one of the signatories of
      the AEI's Open Letter, who works for the Carnegie
      Endowment for International Peace, which is funded by
      Yukos, Conoco Phillips � the strategic ally of
      Chevron, on whose board Condoleezza Rice sat for many
      years � has recently announced a "strategic alliance"
      with Lukoil, the second largest private oil company in
      the world, and Conoco Phillips is said to want a
      controlling stake in the Russian company. Before
      Khodorkovsky's arrest, indeed, it was said that he
      wanted to sell Yukos to an American company."

      The bottom line is that our oligarchs have allied with
      a faction of Ukrainian oligarchs, who have agreed to
      add Ukraine to the European Union, sabotage the free
      trade zone recently established between the
      pro-Russian nations of the former Soviet Union, and,
      most important of all, join NATO. The
      Yushchenko-Timoshenko forces want to align with
      Georgia, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova (the
      other nations in the GUUAM configuration of junior
      league NATO aspirants) in erecting a ring of iron
      around Putin and the former Soviet Union. U.S. troops
      are already in Georgia, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan.
      How long before they are in Kiev, training "President"
      Yushchenko's NATO-ized military in the use of American
      equipment � and advising a spiffed-up Ukrainian
      military within striking distance of the Kremlin?

      After all, as Jonathan Steele points out in the
      Guardian, American "advisors" have been directing and
      funding the entire Yushchenko operation, just as they
      did in the former Yugoslavia, with money pouring in
      not only from the U.S. Treasury but also from
      billionaire George Soros, who has his own interests in
      Ukraine and the former Soviet Union. According to the
      Ukrainian Center for Political and Economic Research
      (UCPER), a poll of the mostly pro-Yushchenko Ukrainian
      NGOs reveals that foreign sponsors pick up 60 percent
      of the tab, including:

      "'Vidrodzhenya' (Revival) sponsored by George Soros -
      36.3%, 'Freedom House' (the U.S.) - 22.7%,
      'Poland-America-Ukraine Cooperation Initiative' -
      22.7%, USAID - 22.7%, National Endowment for Democracy
      (the U.S.) - 18.2%, the World Bank - 13.6% (the total
      percentage exceeding 100%, since the respondents often
      named several sponsors)."

      Ms. Timoshenko, who boasts of having a fleet of six
      jets at her disposal, no doubt picks up the rest.

      We are being sold a bill of goods, and, upon close
      inspection, they turn out to be pretty darn shoddy.
      Yushchenko is no more the "democratic" savior of
      Ukraine than the Gas Princess is a paragon of idealism
      and Western-style "free-market" reform. Like Yushie,
      the Robber Baroness of crony capitalism is a symbol,
      not of "democracy," but of the gullibility of Western
      public opinion when faced with a slick
      public-relations campaign � and a compliant media that
      goes for attractive narratives which mesh neatly with
      their ideological presumptions.

      The complex web of lies that make up the Yushchenko
      mythos requires extensive debunking, and one could
      write a good-sized book on the subject, but a matter
      that needs to be cleared up at once is the story about
      Yushchenko's alleged "poisoning" � presumably at the
      hands of the KGB. The internet is filled with
      before-and-after pictures of the once-handsome Yushie:
      the sight of his puffy and ravaged face, pitted with
      unappetizing pustules, is not a pretty sight to see.
      But what is the evidence that he's been poisoned by
      the pro-Yanukovich forces? There is none. As the New
      York Times reported on September 29 :

      "An Austrian hospital that recently treated Viktor A.
      Yushchenko, the Ukrainian presidential candidate and
      opposition leader, said Tuesday that accusations that
      he had been poisoned were baseless."

      The hospital's announcement was the occasion for death
      threats directed at the team of doctors involved, and
      the staff wisely retreated to a position of official
      agnosticism on the question of what caused
      Yushchenko's transformation from a prince into a toad.
      After all, a member of the Ukrainian parliament who
      served on a commission investigating the incident, and
      who had publicly dismissed the idea of Yushchenko's
      "poisoning," had a land mine placed outside his home.

      The "poisoning" of Yushchenko is a cock-and-bull
      story. As a news story in the Globe and Mail pointed

      "The problem for conspiracy theorists is that a
      variety of standard laboratory tests should have
      turned up signs of such drugs in blood, hair or tissue
      samples in relatively short order."

      Not that they are letting a few facts get in the way.
      Propaganda doesn't require facts � only a gullible
      public and constant repetition. If these techniques
      are all-too-familiar, then they ought to be: isn't
      this how we got bamboozled into the Iraqi quagmire,
      buying into a narrative of "heroic" "pro-democracy"
      dissidents pushing back the frontiers of liberty, with
      the U.S. by their side?

      As the worst president ever once put it:

      "There's an old saying in Tennessee � I know it's in
      Texas, probably in Tennessee � that says, fool me
      once, shame on � shame on you. Fool me � you can't get
      fooled again."

      The neocons are letting the Arab quagmire simmer,
      hoping that the Iraqi insurgency can be tamped down
      with the assistance of a Shi'ite majority government
      supported by the mainstream clerics and propped up by
      a growing indigenous military force acting in tandem
      with less-visible U.S. forces, a plan of dubious
      prospects. In any event, the Ukrainian events have
      given them the opportunity to move on another front
      while movement in the Iraqi theater is seemingly

      The campaign against Vladimir Putin as the latest
      incarnation of Stalin has been going on for quite some
      time, its most recent crescendo having been reached
      with a neocon publicity campaign on behalf of "poor
      little Chechnya," as well as complaints about the
      uniformity of opinion in the Russian media � this,
      coming from the same crowd who regularly denounce the
      supposedly "antiwar" media as a "fifth column"! But
      fronting for the Chechens is another kind of hypocrisy
      altogether. That they are willing to bloc with
      Islamist terrorists allied with Osama bin Laden
      against Putin, and Russia, underscores their
      determination in pursuit of their latest victim.
      Russia is the latest front in what the more perfervid
      neocons call "World War IV," and Ukraine is the first
      battlefield, but not likely to be the last. John
      Laughland put it well:

      "Chechnya borders Georgia, and Georgia, like
      Azerbaijan, is on the fast track to join NATO. There
      are already hundreds of US troops in Georgia, training
      the local forces. They are there for two reasons:
      first, to protect the US-built Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan
      pipeline; secondly � and this follows from the first �
      to assist Georgia in recuperating her two secessionist
      territories, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. It will not
      do to have Russia anywhere close to the pipeline, and
      she has troops in both these areas. Pushing Russia
      comprehensively out of the Caucasus, and humiliating
      her, requires victory for the Chechens. An independent
      Chechnya may also be the prelude to the longer-term
      break-up of Russia herself: the CIA predicted that
      oil-rich Siberia might escape Moscow's control in its
      report, Global Trends 2015, published in April."

      Russia, the Middle East, the Trans-Caucasus, and even
      China � there is no limit to the ambition of the
      neocons, which surpasses the dreams of Alexander � and
      the hubris of Icarus.

      I might add that the true politics of the "liberal"
      opposition are revealed in their response to the
      prospect that the eastern pro-Yanukovich portion of
      the country (which is far richer, and more
      industrialized, than the western region) might secede.
      Already the Easterners � culturally and
      temperamentally close to our "red" states � are
      holding assemblies in major cities calling for
      autonomy. The reaction from Yushchenko:

      "Those who are calling for separatism are committing
      crimes and will definitely receive severe punishment."

      Thugs always revert to form. The prince becomes a toad
      � and, no, I seriously doubt that Yushie's physical
      deterioration has anything to do with a nefarious plot
      by Putin's KGB against his good looks. Instead, let me
      suggest an alternative theory, one not contradicted by
      expert medical testimony � and the account of a
      parliamentary inquiry � and it is this: perhaps the
      Faustian deal that Yushchenko made with the U.S.
      government has taken its toll, and, as in the dramatic
      climax of Oscar Wilde's famous tale, "The Picture of
      Dorian Grey," his sins are being visited on his
      once-handsome visage, ravaging it � and revealing his
      inner soul.

      Just a theory, mind you.