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Breaking Out of the Prison State: Ukraine’s Uncivil War

7:43 AM, Feb 10, 2014 • By REUBEN F. JOHNSON
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Another similarity between the Communists-turned-gangsters that rule Ukraine and the regime of the world’s largest still officially Communist-ruled nation is that they also both have solid walls of officials well-trained in lying to the world about their despicable acts of criminality and brutality. Just like the government in Beijing that continues to declare that no one at all was killed in the June 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, the apparatchiki around Yanukovych tell the world that no violence has been used by the Berkut riot police against the protesters camped out in Kiev’s Independence Square.

So far nine persons have been killed, some by sniper fire, and around 1,300 injured. But, before he was forced to resign on 27 January the Ukrainian prime minister, Mykola Azarov, told news outlets at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that the police could not possibly have been responsible for these deaths because the ammunition found in the bodies was not of the same caliber used in the service weapons issued to police units.

More ominous than the numbers of dead and wounded are the numbers of those missing from the protest camp—the estimated numbers run as high as 57. Based on the accounts of a couple of survivors, the modus operandi is that people are picked off leaving the protest camp, they are thrown into a vehicle and driven to a wooded area far outside the city. Their documents are taken from them and then they are beaten and left for dead in the snow. Odds are very good that some of the dozens missing will turn up when the spring thaw reveals the location of their bodies.

One of those who did survive was Dmytro Bulatov, an organizer of the AutoMaidan protest, the huge convoys of automobiles that descended on the countryside palatial estates of Yanukovych and other government officials to show them that the population knows where they live. Bulatov went missing for eight days until he managed to crawl his way to bang on the door of a private home in the suburban city of Borispol to ask for help. He was then shown on television, with his face caked in blood from where it had been slashed and part of his ear was missing. His captors had driven nails through his hands crucifixion-style and had beaten him for a week.

The fact that his beaten and tortured body had been shown on television around the world did not stop Ukraine’s foreign minister, Leonid Kozhara, from telling Al-Jazeera at the Munich Security Conference that Bulatov was in fine physical shape and only had a small scratch on his cheek. Someone obviously forgot to explain to the foreign minister that a cut requiring 12 stitches qualifies as a bit more than just a “scratch” and that a person who is barely conscious from days of beatings and torture feels something less than “fine.”

Kozhara’s dishonest statements were so embarrassing even to this Ukrainian government that his own foreign ministry contradicted him and later issued a statement that his comments “do not reflect the real attitude of Minister Kozhara on this tragic situation.” The English-language Kyiv Post later ran a story stating that comments of Kozhara and other officials in Yanukovych’s regime demonstrate “the gap between the massive problems and the government’s perception of them. In many cases, problems are exaggerated by the incompetence and malice of the government.”

At the end of the day, it is the unpardonable conduct of this Ukrainian government, which is regarded by most as little better than a gang of criminals, that is at the root of this revolt. It is not a linguistic or ethnic conflict, and no amount of Russia’s Vladimir Putin trying to convince the world that the eastern half of Ukraine is Moscow’s Sudetenland is going to change the reality on the ground. Like the revolutions that toppled Soviet-client state regimes in Eastern Europe in the 1980s, people in Ukraine are fed up with governments abusing them and seeing their financial prospects driven into the ground. They will not leave these streets or give up this fight until that changes.

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