Eurovision-2017 Logo Out

Given the international circumstances right now I’d wager this was intended as a polite fuck you to Trump and Putin both.

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Eurovision-2017 Logo Out

I’m not sure if this blog is going to wake up permanently (and be promptly renamed into America Today), but I’ve been watching this with keen interest (and a fair amount of popcorn on the side).

Trump’s victory last year was surely unprecedented (soon to be unpresidented, too). For example, last year I would never have thought that Ukraine – with the war, the occasional protest and the on-off political crisis and everything – would seem more stable than America.

One thing for certain, though. It took Yanukovych four years, plus some roughed-up students on the side, to piss off us Ukrainians so much that Maidan overthrew him.

Trump somehow managed to have mass protests, widespread condemnation, judicial rulings and outright disobedience in just ten days.

Truly unpresidented, that.

Dr. Strangelovenko

With America electing its first Ukrainian president (and putting a Nazi fucktard like Steve Bannon in the White House), I’d like to come forward and say that what Ukraine needs is a nuke. In fact, make it two, with the tacit understanding that what can reliably FLATTEN BELGOROD can reliably flatten half of Russia’s Donbas force or sink half the Black Sea Fleet.

I am not allowed to disclose details but I’m not alone in that line of thinking.

International support and sanctions are all well and good, but then, God helps those who help themselves.


*goes back into indefinite hiatus because fuck political commentary in general*

Dr. Strangelovenko

Re: Mirotvorets scandal

Don’t see any difference between Russian narrative on occupied Donbass and Western journalists’ narrative on occupied Donbass. Doubly so when those journalists take their time criticizing Ukraine’s evil government while giving head to Zakharchenko at the same time.

Them’s the breaks, it seems. Not one Western journalist was in Mariupol in January 2015, when it was shelled by ‘DNR’. I remember Oliver Carroll interviewing Zakharchenko right when casualty reports started tricking in. When I asked why the hell he isn’t in Mariupol, he banned me.

The same applies to the rest. Not how journalism works?

Not that I care.


P.S. The whole spectacle would be a touch more believable if the parties involved didn’t hand over their real contact info to the terrorists in the first place.

But apparently Western journalists (and quite a few Ukrainian ones, too) have a terminal case of stupids in regards to that.

P.P.S. Since I’m not on Twitter anymore (and this had spared me approximately >9000 nerve cells in the past week alone), follow me on Telegram. Hopefully I no kill myself.

(I’m teaching you dancing)

Re: Mirotvorets scandal

This ‘deleting Twitter’ thing seems like so much fun. I mean, I only find out about Victory Day-related shenanigans from the news and I feel like I didn’t miss anything.

To compensate, here’s a picture of the building everyone (including holier-than-thou Western observers such as Bershidsky and Maxim Eristavi) loves to hate:

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Bankova Fact #1: The Bankova is approximately 20% cooler than the White House. Those Soviet architects sure knew about impressiveness.

Bankova Fact #3: Western observers hate The Bankova because the guards don’t let them onto the street, citing national security concerns. They didn’t let me in, either, but you can photo to your heart’s content.

Bankova Fact #49: The Bankova had trams!

german-817-18-194x-bank-smc
Oy a theater ist der Kiever tramvai.

P.S. With the distinct lack of Twitter exposure, The Ukraine Today’s activity is liable to fall even further down than it did until now.

…So how about that THE TRUTH ABOUT PUBLIC TRANSIT blog where I heap praises upon our intrepid mayor Klitchko?

Calling Them Out

Mr. Bershidsky is a weasel. I say that because his childish (as usual) actions, such as his refusal to corroborate his accusations, leave me no other choice. Here I am, hoping for a worthy arch-enemy, and that arch-enemy turns out to be a coward, a weasel, a blowhard and a yellow journalist, although calling Bershidsky that is an insult to yellow journalists everywhere. Who am I supposed to compete with now, Maxim Eristavi?

I was banned on Facebook FIVE TIMES (this is for maximum emphasis), so I couldn’t confront Mr. Bershidsky directly (he banned me on Twitter, AGAIN, which is very mature of him, I’m sure), but fellow colleague Kirill Mikhailov (@Mortis_Banned) did, and here’s the result. It’s all in Russian, which experienced Russia- and Ukraine-watchers shouldn’t have a problem with, but I’ll sum it up for you.

Mr. Bershidsky:

  • claims a thorough investigation into supposed ‘Poroshenko troll factory’ wouldn’t be interesting for anyone (except, maybe, the ‘Poroshenko troll factory Witnesses’ group you and your colleagues belong to, right, Mr. Bershidsky?);
  • the ‘Poroshenko trolls’ in question are apparently anonymous and appear under fake usernames, which is just like Olgino (clearly Mr. Bershidsky never heard of this thing called the Internet, where people use usernames, and not their names, all the time);
  • neither he nor his editors at Bloomberg are interested in Ukrainian readers, his op-eds being aimed primarily at Western readers (which suddenly makes the ‘campaign to discredit Ukraine in the West’ argument porokhobots are so fond of sound more credible that it previously did);
  • Ambassador Pyatt apparently mentioned these ‘Poroshenko trolls’ back in February (which, as it turned out, Ambassador Pyatt didn’t, he merely cautioned against them, although that didn’t really help);
  • Ambassador Pyatt was also apparently unaware that ‘Poroshenko trolls’ exist already (but of course Mr. Bershidsky refuses to prove that, see item 1);
  • users with fake usernames who criticize Mr. Bershidsky and other journalists = trolls (see item 2).

Now, this blog got its start because I wanted to fight against the misinformation which is, sadly, all too frequent when it comes to Ukraine, especially where Western journalists and observers are concerned. I was foolish, of course: I wanted my voice to be heard and my questions answered, but for my sins I got spineless wusses instead of journalists and a blog mostly read by Ukrainians (with Americans as close seconds). These are the two reasons The Ukraine Today was mostly on hiatus until recently, with barely one post a month.

Why I’m saying this now is that the truth is there’s no campaign to discredit Ukraine in the Western media. There are, however, Western journalists who either ascribe to a simplistic view of Ukraine, get their information about Ukraine from suspicious sources (usually Ukrainian journalists, who aren’t paragons of virtue by any measure), or are just plain incompetent. In Mr. Bershidsky’s case, it is probably all three. Now, I’m sure these journalists are free to exercise their right to free speech; but that does not mean other people – for example, Ukrainians such as me who read their articles and feel offended by them – aren’t free to exercise that same right to question or criticize these journalists. The latter is usually more widespread, and the criticism isn’t terribly constructive, but it’s the principle of the thing. Instead, however, Mr. Bershidsky and his colleagues do their utmost to quash any discontent, and label everyone with a dissenting opinion a ‘Poroshenko troll’. Just the kind of bravery any professional journalist should exhibit, no doubt.

Case in point is one Oleg Sukhov, ex-Moscow Times journalist who, not five hours after my previous post, published an opinion piece titled Poroshenko’s troll army borrows Kremlin techniques, just like that, on KyivPost’s website. KyivPost’s editors aren’t terribly loyal to the current administration: in fact, they pleaded Western governments to stop foreign aid (but continue giving them grant money) not that long ago, and their boss, Mohammad Zahoor, was implicated in the Panama Papers along with ex-PM Yulia Tymoshenko and Pavlo Lazarenko (currently serving time in US prison), but KyivPost somehow failed to report on that.

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Just keep that grant money flowing!

Personally, as a Ukrainian, I’m ashamed KyivPost brands itself ‘The Global Voice of Ukraine‘, yet simultaneously advocates hanging Ukrainians out to dry by cutting monetary aid. They’re the reason many Ukraine-watchers bought into the ‘unanimously pro-European, reform-minded, corruption-hating Ukrainians’ fallacy, much like they did with the ‘deeply divided Ukraine’ fallacy ten years ago. An article like Sukhov’s piece isn’t too surprising under these circumstances – and it doesn’t pull any punches. Which is precisely why I’m going to call tovarisch Sukhov out on his bullshit.

Instead of providing moral and legal justifications for Poroshenko’s offshore company, his proponents have focused their energy into attacking the investigative journalists.

Gnap and Babinets have been criticized for making the story too emotional by saying that Poroshenko created the company when hundreds of Ukrainian troops were massacred by the Russian army in the city of Ilovaisk in Donetsk Oblast in August 2014.

Nobody has been able to claim, however, that they got any of the facts wrong.

Rothschild Trust had since came out to state conclusively that Hromadske’s journalists did, in fact, get all the facts wrong: there is a blind trust agreement about the Roshen sale. Nowhere does Ilovaysk figure into it, which is how Hromadske botched their investigation: if they focused on the legal aspects of the matter nobody would have said a word, and Sukhov’s claims would have been more valid.

Yet diverting attention from Poroshenko’s arguably unethical and likely illegal behavior to the quality and ethics of journalism is a much bigger manipulation.

The most striking thing is the effectiveness of Poroshenko’s propaganda. All of a sudden, thousands of people who had never given a damn about journalistic standards in their lives simultaneously started caring about them so much that some of them called for lynching and ostracizing the Hromadske journalists on very flimsy grounds.

Obviously it never occurred to tovarisch Sukhov that people may start giving a damn about journalistic standards because they’re sick of journalists lacking in said standards. For all the grant money the West funnels into Ukrainian media the media themselves failed to improve in that regard. I’m not sure as to ‘thousands’ claim, though: most I’ve seen on Twitter were a few dozen vocal porokhobots. Sukhov also resorts to whataboutism, as if the ‘manipulation’ – drawing attention to journalistic standards – somehow excuses Hromadske’s own ‘manipulations’, to the degree that the investigation focused more on Ilovaysk than on the Panama Papers.

Maybe Hromadske shouldn’t have been advertising it as BREAKING NEWS THE CHOCOLATE DICTATOR’S SECRETS EXPOSED!!! in all-caps and then go full damage control after their viewers expressed dissatisfaction with their investigation. I don’t know, really, but it clearly doesn’t occur to tovarisch Sukhov, again.

Earlier this month Poroshenko accused the New York Times of waging a “hybrid war” against Ukraine after the newspaper published an op-ed about the country’s pervasive corruption.

Only he did not: Tikhon Dzyadko, another Russian expat journalist, posted an incomplete quote of Poroshenko’s on his Twitter and was then (Russian) called out on it. Poroshenko’s press office later published his clarification on the matter, which Sukhov chose to ignore.

Bohdan Miroshnikov, a pro-Poroshenko blogger, wrote on Facebook on April 6 that a Dutch referendum on an association deal between Ukraine and the European Union had been lost by Ukraine due to the efforts of “anti-corruption scum who sell their homeland” in a reference to the Hromadske journalists and anti-corruption activists.

He completed his post by urging the nation to unite behind the president.

Miroshnikov’s overtones are almost identical to those of both paid and sincere Putinist trolls who demonize Russia’s opposition and extol their beloved Fuehrer.

Miroshnikov (who DOES NOT hide himself under a false username, despite being displaced from his native Horlivka) is entitled to his opinions: it may be surprising but not all people who claim to stand behind their government are paid trolls, even (surprise!) in Russia. Tovarisch Sukhov may not want to admit that, but many Russians do support President Putin and his policies, and do it sincerely, for one reason or another. Of course, they may be misguided, but they’re entitled to their opinion. Just because Olgino exists doesn’t mean every Russian who supports Putin is a paid troll, however uncomfortable that might be.

The same is true for Ukrainians and one Bohdan Miroshnikov, whom Sukhov chose for some unfathomable reason, unlike the porokhobot warchiefs Bohdan Karpenko or Kamenyar (Ihor Ronovych). Gee, I wonder why! I’m speaking in Miroshnikov’s defence right now because while he’s been outspoken, he is routinely harassed on Twitter by a group of infantile users with anti-Poroshenko opinions, including abuse, threats and revealing personal info. These users apparently do not care that this may put Miroshnikov’s relatives, still in DNR-occupied Horlivka, in jeopardy; and now Sukhov paints him like some sort of internet troll mastermind.

Speaking of which…

Though Poroshenko’s fans have dominated the agenda online, the offline situation seems to be different, with the president’s approval ratings plummeting to all-time lows.

What.

How familiar are you with Twitter, tovarisch Sukhov? Because I can certify that Ukrainian Twitter community is overwhelmingly anti-Poroshenko, and so is Facebook. People who voice their support for the government get called ‘porokhobots’, same as you just did, get harassed, belittled and threatened. Of course, the Internet always brings out the extreme in opinions: but here’s you blatantly twisting the facts. There’s, at best, a few dozen pro-Poroshenko bloggers, but many more are anti-Poroshenko, for one reason or another. To prove their superiority they routinely engage in childish behavior, claiming opinion pieces such as yours as their justification. Then they use that justification to harass dissenting users such as Bohdan Miroshnikov, whom you so unfairly mentioned. I assume you approve of this behavior, tovarisch Sukhov. Am I correct?

On the other side are reformers and revolutionaries who were behind the 2013-2014 EuroMaidan Revolution and are trying to bring its ideals to life. They have a highly critical and cautious attitude towards any government and seek to control its every step. These people seek a true, fundamental revolution that will transform Ukraine from a third-world flawed democracy into a genuinely European nation with the rule of law and free markets.

You know, I’m at a loss of words here, because I spoke about these issues on more than a few occasions. Since nothing I’m going to say is going to convince tovarisch Sukhov otherwise, what’s the point?

However, it’s a clear example of overly simplistic thinking. Just as Ukrainians are fond of idolizing role models, just to discard them when they don’t meet their expectations, so, it seems, do the many ostensibly professional journalists. They’ve fashioned an idealized image of the ‘reformers and revolutionaries’ for themselves, forgetting that these same reformers were none the better before Euromaidan – which mostly had nothing to do with them. We have praise heaped onto ‘independent journalists’ who take money from oligarchs, ‘corruption fighters’ who had no qualms working for the corrupt establishment, and loudmouthed populists with little to prove. We have destructive criticism praised, when constructive criticism is shunned. We have calls for a ‘fundamental revolution’ two years after the revolution ended, not understanding that there is time for revolution, but there is time for evolution, too. And a country barely back on its feet cannot allow itself the luxury of having another revolution.

I’m sure revolutions are fun, tovarisch Sukhov, and that you would thrive in whatever Ukraine that comes afterwards. Only I’m not certain there’ll even be a Ukraine.

But I’m going too far, am I?

Sukhov’s article pushes all the buttons Ukraine-watchers want, for all the wrong reasons. What it doesn’t do, however, is get any of the facts right.

Or prove them, for that matter.


P.S. Oleg Sukhov defends himself (in Russian) and gets called out, again.

I bet he really doesn’t understand why.

P.P.S. I’m not a believer in a strong, authoritarian government. In fact, we had a ‘strong, authoritarian’ government a short while ago and look how much good it did us.

A presidential republic, on the other hand…

Calling Them Out

Also Sprach Bershidsky

After getting flak on Twitter for criticizing the Groysman Cabinet about 12 hours after it assumed office, Leonid Bershidsky continues his valiant crusade against the insidious Ministry of Information Policy and its legions of porokhobots. I will concede that most of that Twitter flak was indeed written in horrible English, although the problem seems to be universal: Bershidsky’s fans aren’t terribly proficient in English either:

I’ve been told Mr. Bershidsky has a ghost editor who fixes his Russian-isms, which is admirable: at least, Mr. Bershidsky has enough sense to recognize his shortcomings when it comes to English language. I suppose that’s something.

Where Mr. Bershidsky displays markedly less sense is his reaction to the (bad English, square head) criticism he’s got for his troubles, exemplified by this Facebook post:

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The translation, courtesy of The Ukraine Today staff, follows:

The bastards at the Ukrainian Ministry of Information Policy, both its staff and the freelance employees, continue to amateurishly demean me on Twitter, including in horrible English. They think this is going to make me stop writing about their country, ruined by their thieving masters – Ukraine. Their chicken brains and their ruined neural circuits stop them from comprehending that their toys are broken, the “European” dream is over and they’re all going to be fucked and robbed like they were fucked and robbed during Yanukovych’s time. Like they already are.

I dare Mr. Bershidsky to provide a better translation, since he obviously has a much better command of English (or so he claims, anyway), so that his editors at Bloomberg can see firsthand how well their celebrated columnist responds to criticism. It may not be constructive criticism, true, but it’s not that different from Bershidsky’s criticism of Ukraine and Ukraine’s government. In fact, I’m not sure Bershidsky ever praised it except for that little article about energy reform. What’s more, his infamous article about how ‘unreformed’ Ukraine is ‘self-destructing’ was mostly an English-language translation of an op-ed at Ukrainian Novoye Vremya (a news outlet sponsored by Dragon Capital’s Tomas Fiala, close friend and business partner of ex-Minister of Economic Development Aivaras Abromavicius) by one Serhiy Leshchenko, a veritable anti-corruption crusader and a voice for everything that is horrible with Ukraine. Or, at least, as Mr. Leshchenko would have it.

Translating a biased opinion piece counts as constructive criticism now? Sorry, Mr. Bershidsky, but that doesn’t sound too convincing. What it does sound like is so much wishful thinking.

Let me ask you this, however. You, Mr. Bershidsky, are a highly-qualified, professional journalist, ex-Forbes editor, et cetera. It is obvious that, as a highly-qualified, professional journalist, your findings should be corroborated by solid facts.

The existence of Russian government troll factories is pretty much undisputed at this point. In the last few years, the infamous Olgino was the focal point of a number of leaks, confessions by former employees and investigations by open-source organizations such as Bellingcat. It has been proven, without a shade of doubt (except maybe from some Putin-verstehers, detached from reality as they are), that the Olgino troll factory exists.

Yet for some reason, in the 1.5 years of the Ukrainian Ministry of Information Policy’s existence, there’s been precisely zero leaks from the ‘Ukrainian troll factory’ you’re so busy condemning. There’s been no media revelations, no investigations, nothing that might suggest it exists: yet you continue to brand everyone who disagrees with you as paid trolls.

I can only assume you’ve got some solid facts if you’re busy making such bold statements. Facts such as leaked documents, uncovered botnets, testimonies, the usual stuff. So why won’t you show these facts for the whole world to see?

You’re the journalist. Accusations should be substantiated by proof. And it is your job, as the accuser, to provide the public with the facts to prove your words.

And if you decline, Mr. Bershidsky, then I will be forced to question your integrity as a highly-qualified, professional journalist.

As I’m sure many others will, too.

Also Sprach Bershidsky