31 December 2014

A comment on the involvement of the Patriot of Ukraine in the Ukrainian revolution

Adrian Karatnycky, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, has written a good article, titled "Warlords and armed groups threaten Ukraine’s rebuilding", in which he discusses important issues related to today's Ukraine.

In March this year, I wrote that the newly-elected (then acting) government had to "urgently address two most important problems: the military Russian invasion that [had] already started in the Crimea, the southernmost region of Ukraine, and the dire economic situation". Writing at the end of this year, Karatnycky argues that Ukraine's established government is relatively successfully dealing with these two problems: "Ukraine is intelligently addressing its key challenges: restructuring the national budget to avoid default and meeting the military threat posed by Russia".

At the same time, Karatnycky highlights another problem, namely "independently operating warlords and armed groups", some of which are guided by far right ideology, as well as the cooperation between these groups and Ukraine's Minister of Interior Arsen Avakov - the cooperation that I have briefly discussed here.

22 December 2014

A Putin in the heart of Europe?

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s declaration in summer 2014 that his government was going “to build an illiberal nation state” was far from a revelation. Rather, it was a statement of a long-acknowledged fact: Orbán’s Hungary is increasingly becoming a right-wing authoritarian kleptocracy bearing a growing resemblance to Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

The pro-Putin United Russia party formed its first parliamentary majority after the 2003 elections. Putin took this opportunity to modify the electoral law to marginalise minor parties in the next elections and strengthen the major parties and, in particular, the United Russia. These changes helped the United Russia to win enough seats in the 2007 parliamentary elections to form a constitutional majority. Since Orbán’s party Fidesz returned to power after the 2010 parliamentary elections, he has moved swiftly to consolidate it. Amid the popular disappointment with the previous, Socialist-led government that failed to effectively tackle the 2008 financial crisis, Fidesz and its minor coalition partner Christian Democratic People’s Party secured two-thirds of the seats in the parliament. Forming a parliamentary majority allowed them to modify the country’s constitution, including the electoral law, in 2012. The electoral reform helped Orbán retain the constitutional majority after the 2014 elections.

Viktor Orbán and Vladimir Putin

15 December 2014

Center for Eurasian Strategic Intelligence, a fraudulent "hawkish" think tank

Readers of this blog may have heard of the Center for Eurasian Strategic Intelligence (CESI) that seems to promote a "hawkish" view on Russia's foreign policy. In his Twitter, Edward Lucas has recently raised doubts about the authenticity of this organisation, and, as I found out, for a good reason. Let's have a closer look at CESI.

(Note that I will not be discussing their analyses, as they tend to plagiarise from other sources.)

Major resources of CESI:
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eurasianintelligence. Registered on 18 March 2014.
- Website: http://eurasianintelligence.org. Registered on 18 July 2014.
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/eurasianintelligence/ Registered on 6 August 2014.
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/EurasianIntel. Date of registration unknown, first tweet on 12 August 2014.

12 December 2014

How cronyism exploits Ukrainian neo-Nazis

Ukraine’s early presidential and parliamentary elections earlier this year proved to be disastrous for the Ukrainian party-political far right.

Oleh Tyahnybok, the leader of the All-Ukrainian Union “Freedom” (Svoboda), obtained 1.16% of the vote in the presidential election, while his party secured only 4.71% of the vote in the parliamentary election and, eventually, failed to pass the 5% electoral threshold and enter the parliament. In comparison, Svoboda obtained 10.44% of the votes in 2012 and formed the first ever far right parliamentary group in Ukraine’s history. Dmytro Yarosh, the leader of the Right Sector, obtained 0.70% in the presidential election, and 1.80% of the voters supported his party in the parliamentary election.

However, the electoral failure of Svoboda and the Right Sector did not mark “the end of history” of the Ukrainian far right, and some other developments proved to be much more problematic. One of these developments is the rise of the previously obscure neo-Nazi organisation “Patriot of Ukraine” (PU) led by Andriy Bilets’ky.

Neo-Nazi leader Andriy Bilets'ky. Kharkiv, several years ago