Uk-raine Terrain.

by Anna Raccoon on March 6, 2014

_Picture_file_path_11292Just let your imagination run wild for a moment or two. Imagine that demonstrations against the government in Britain had turned into a riot. Cars were set on fire in the streets. Young lads in balaclavas hurling petrol bombs at the police. Middle aged women bashing policemen over the head with their shopping bags. The crowd surging forward and taking over public buildings.

Liverpool? Glasgow? Belfast? London? It has happened. In the UK, the authorities have always regained control.

Imagine though, if the Russian Foreign Minister had flown in to address the rioters with words of support in London? If China was offering to loan billions of pounds to avoid the rioters having to pay, say, the ill-named bedroom tax? If America, who had not long before declared the election of David Cameron ‘free and fair’, now threatened sanctions against the UK unless new elections were held within weeks so that the varied ‘leaders’ of the revolution could take their ‘rightful’ place running the country.

Who would be the leaders that such a crowd of rioters would hold dear? Derek Hatton? Arthur Scargill? Gordon Brown? Peter Mandelson, Tony Blair, Nigel Farage? Old Holborn even? It’s not such a far fetched idea, for you can be sure that those who rise up and riot are unlikely to be representative of the entire population: the grey, middle aged, middle income, middle politics ‘Britain’, that sits in supine silence watching the country fall apart.

With the best will in the world, and paying due homage to his well hidden heart of gold, I wouldn’t trust Old Holborn to run my car, never mind the country. Nor any of the other likely heroes of the sort of people who do actually rise up and revolt. Even though I believe a revolution would do the UK good….

How long do you think it would take the Americans to fly in extra forces to guard RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall – ostensibly Royal Air Force Bases, with British ‘Commanders’, albeit with 25,000 american ‘advisors’? Would they be right to do so? Old Holborn’s army of followers in charge of the American nuclear arsenal? Argggh!

How about Russian ‘Sky’, or should that be ‘небо’, making nightly broadcasts from the Liverpool Adelpi foyer, the hotel where the rampaging crowd have helpfully brought their injured to a makeshift hospital so that the ‘небо’ journalists can stay in the bar till the next transmission time, whence they will don flak jackets and be filmed on the balcony of their room against the burning night sky? Filming Peter Mandelson’s triumphant release from Wakefield prison where he had been incarcerated on fraud charges (I did tell you to use your imagination!). A Peter Mandelson who had been given an expensive makeover from the creature we thought we knew into a pantomime version of a cuddly avuncular Father Christmas promising us everything and anything we wanted…

_44158375_tymoshenko_2001_apAre you puzzled by the pictures? That is Julia Hryhyan. The top one is when she left school in 1975, the one on the left in 2001. She is a hero of the ‘Ukrainian revolutionaries’. You have to search long and hard to find such pictures. Most have been wiped from memory. Julia’s origins have been the basis of some debate. Some have claimed that her maiden name is Grigyan, and that she is half-Armenian on her father’s side. Some say Telegina.

One thing is clear – Julia is a multi-billionaire. 

You couldn’t run a private business in the USSR until 1986. Between 1986 and 1997, a mere 11 years, starting from scratch, Julia amassed several billion pounds.

(Hat tip to Ukrainian Taras for the translation!)

Julia : Uh…I…uh…spent more than half of my life doing very big business — very big business. That’s a business that had billions of…uh…revenue…

Interviewer: You have some savings left?
Julia: Definitely! Definitely! And these savings…they…uh…at that time, I…didn’t have to disclose them…

Interviewer: They’re in Ukraine?
Julia: …because I was not an official. Uh…all these savings…they do exist, and we as a family are using them.
Interviewer: Aha!

You don’t amass that sort of fortune in the lawless atmosphere that existed post-perestroika by being soft in the head. That brunette bob hides nerves of steel and a hard business head on young shoulders. And good contacts. Which is why young Julia found herself explicitly involved in a US court case in 2000 against ex-Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko.

“Lazarenko received money from companies owned or controlled by Ukrianian [sic] business woman Julia […] in exchange for which Lazarenko exercised his official authority in favor [of Julia’s] companies, and … Lazarenko failed to disclose to the people and government of Ukraine that he was receiving significant amounts of money from these companies.”

The billions she had amassed came in handy though. She hired Oleh Pokalchuk, a social psychologist, to give her a make over from hard nosed brunette business woman to – pagan mother goddess of the Ukrainian peasants. Somewhere between ‘Eva Perón’ and the ‘Princess Leia’ character from the Star Wars and Evita DVDs that she had imported into a chain of Ukrainian cinemas. Said Oleh in 2007:

“It was necessary to work out and implement an image that would block out the image [...] of wealth, of envy, hatred. I created an image of a modest village teacher. A visual type, clothes and haircut, a retro image evoking memories of childhood and schooldays… simple clothes, simple haircut, a Ukrainian archetype, [...] She didn’t speak Ukrainian so well then and it was necessary for parts of the country, where nationalism is a powerful force, that she should appear one of us.”

220px-Yulia_Tymoshenko_(2008)Now you recognise her? 2008. Yulia Tymoshenko. Sky Television, and the European Union’s ‘heroine of the people’. ‘The People’s Princess’ no less.

Night after night we are told of ‘Russian thugs’, and ‘Gangsters’ lined up against ‘brave freedom fighters’. The choice of words is illuminating. The imagery fascinating. The frail Yulia was freed from prison and wheeled into Independence Square in Kiev to loud cheers – from the EU which is pledging 11 billion of our money to bail out the bankrupt Ukraine.

The Russians have threatened to cut the gas pipe lines from which Yulia made her billions – a pipe line which she signed up to a new deal with in 2009, which the rest of her cabinet (she was by then Prime Minister) opposed. It was this ‘deal’ with the Russians which saw her jailed as ‘having exceeded her authority as Prime Minister’.

Peter Mandelson would be hard put to emulate the twists and turns of Tymoshenko’s political allegiances. Now she is supported by the EU in a move which may see Ukraine denuded of the revenue from hosting the pipe lines she made her millions from – and her country divided into two.

Strangely, she was born in Dnipropetrovsk, a city which neatly straddles the political and linguistic divide in Ukraine. Perhaps that accounts for her hopping from one side to another of it.

Now we must watch as the US and the EU lecture the Russians on the evils of ‘invading Sovereignty’ – Libya, Iraq anyone? Or Democracy? Or corrupt politicians? Or how to deal with a bankrupt economy? At least the Ukrainian’s don’t need a lecture on how to give political schemers and opportunists a make-over – they have out classed us on that one.

Your vote as to who would have been given the make-over in Britain – and into what – should the same situation have occurred here? I still fancy Mandelson as Father Christmas.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Margaret Jervis March 6, 2014 at 12:49 pm
DtP March 6, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Gaddzooks – cheers for the bio. That speech she gave from her wheelchair was total bullshit and i’d figured she was just a crony but it’s the Yeltsin’s daughter thing all over again – become a billionaire just by being in the right room at the right time. The cheeky shit. Cheers Anna.

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IlovetheBBC March 6, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Her speech was greeted with almost total silence. She is as popular as scabies.
The Ukrainians may be inexperienced but they are not idiots.

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Duncan Disorderly March 6, 2014 at 1:24 pm

I find the situation after Russia etc. after the Soviet Union collapsed to be fascinating. I strongly recommend the book ‘The Godfather of the Kremlin’ by Paul Klebnikov about Boris Berezovsky; Klebnikov was murdered by someone in 2004. There is no question that Vladimir Putin has dramatically improved Russia after regaining control from the oligarchs. Ukraine is what happens when the oligarchs take over the country and continue to plunder it at a ridiculous rate.

News stories about Russia are distorted. This article by Stephen Cohen is very good:
http://www.thenation.com/article/178344/distorting-russia#

By the way, did you know India has just banned homosexual acts; how much news coverage did it get in relation to Russia’s version of ‘Section 28′?

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JuliaM March 6, 2014 at 2:08 pm

See also the case of the gay hairdresser refusing to cut a Republican governor’s hair because he doesn’t agree with her view on gay marriage.

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Moor Larkin March 6, 2014 at 3:29 pm

He missed an opportunity there…….

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Ed P March 6, 2014 at 1:45 pm

I nominate Harman as Minister for Children & Dromey as Director of the NSPCC? Or would that be a make-over too far?

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Daedalus X. Parrot March 6, 2014 at 9:54 pm

Sorry, Noo-Labour have already out-ironied you.

They appointed Margaret Hodge as Children’s minister in the 2000s. The same Ms Hodge who was boss of a London inner-city Labour council that presided over endemic child sex abuse in council childrens’ homes. The same Ms Hodge who later tried to trash the reputation of one of the abuse victims who came forward to tell his story.

Like Tymoshenko, Hodge has reinvented herself as a new character, she is now head of a parliamentary select committee where she seems to enjoy the limelight a lot and often criticises commercial companies for legally avoiding tax, whilst she herself is a major beneficiary of her father’s large company that, er, avoids tax in exactly the same way.

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Fat Steve March 6, 2014 at 3:17 pm

For once you misjudge your audience Anna —your erudite readers have far greater foresight than imagining Mandelson strutting his stuff after release from prison for fraud —naaaahhh that’s too benevolent a view of how a similar scenario might pan out here —-but a memorably humorous analogy like most of your prose. and good to see you back on form ,

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Fat Steve March 6, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Mandelson taking the microphone made over as any of the members of the Village people would produce the appropriate heroic icon I think (but beefy construction worker might pose too greater a challenge to achieve) mind you YMCA playing in the background would provide an appropriate patriotic anthem as to all that is Great in Great Britain

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Moor Larkin March 6, 2014 at 4:11 pm

Scotland seems to lend itself more to your competition, what with the English military base at Faslane and the oil and gas situation. As to who should return in triumph, as the Yellow Revolution falters following the interventions of the European Union ? George Galloway springs to mind.

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Anna Raccoon March 6, 2014 at 4:12 pm

Argggh!

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Span Ows March 6, 2014 at 6:42 pm

Good comparison!

Double argggh!

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Eddy March 6, 2014 at 4:30 pm

I see that the Max Clifford trial has started, it should be interesting!

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Moor Larkin March 6, 2014 at 4:40 pm

Mr. Nasty must be Yewtree’s great white hope.

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Eddy March 6, 2014 at 4:49 pm

I think they picked the wrong guy to prosecute. I think this will be fought hard, and god help them when he is found not guilty. There won’t be any ‘lets move on’ stuff from Max.

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Michael Massey March 6, 2014 at 6:39 pm

Its a funny ole world part 97684

So it seems that a constraint on UK response to the events in Ukraine is fear about the effects on Russian investment in London. So far as such investment in property I would have thought it was investment we could well do without.

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Pete March 6, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Anna, you need to be realistic. There are “good guys” in the former Soviet Union, and in the Middle East, but they’re unlikely to get anywhere near government. It’s a case of choosing the lesser of two evils. Having spent some time in St Petersburg with a Russian friend, I can well see why the EU (with all its faults) might seem preferable to closer integration with Russia.

Timoshenko is irrrelevant as she has little support. The new Ukranian leadership may not be that great, but a westward-facing Ukraine still sounds way better than Russia where (according to opinion polls) the most admired leaders are still Peter the Great and Stalin.

Likewise, despite his collusion in “extraordinary rendition” (AKA providing torture facilities so ministers can truthfully say that MI6 doesn’t torture people), Bashar al Assad’s government is way better than the hand-chopping, Christian-persecuting, misogynist Wahabi alternative.

The problem, as so often, is the need felt by modern governments to apply a pink sugar coating to reality. Churchill never felt the need to pretend that Stalin was a democrat or a humanitarian. Back then people understood the concept of the lesser of two evils.

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Cascadian March 6, 2014 at 7:17 pm

No need to imagine, it is already happening.

A weak government unable to govern alone has taken over the country. Chancers and scam artists offer to prop it up.

The wife of the prime minister is a member of a family receiving government money (your taxes) for building windmill farms, many other politically-connected families including the Queen similarly benefit, MP’s sit on the boards of eco-companies that they legislate in favour of, while they receive consulting stipends. Do I need to continue?

That nice Sam Cam saving you from global warming, and her family just coincidentally “doing very big business” as Yulia would say. Meanwhile the Clegg bint and Tone’s wife extract the maximum from a broken legal system allowing extortionate fees. Have they done anything illegal?-No, the British way is far too refined, friends-of-friends, a nod-and-a-wink, old school chums dontchaknow. the person that would receive the make-over would be at least one step removed from the politician.

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Jonathan Mason March 6, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Worth noting that the US has a long history of invading Caribbean nations to protect the lives of US citizens and economic interests. For example Haiti and the Dominican Republic several times, Grenada, and of course the invasion of Puerto Rico and Cuba in the Spanish American war and the failed Bay of Pigs venture in Cuba when JFK was president.

Note also the UK invasion of the Malvinas for similar reasons of protecting UK citizens, although the constitutional issues are a bit different there.

http://andrewgavinmarshall.com/2012/02/21/punishing-the-population-the-american-occupations-of-haiti-and-the-dominican-republic/

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The Meissen Bison March 7, 2014 at 12:29 am

Note also the UK invasion of the Malvinas for similar reasons of protecting UK citizens…

It’s not a widely held opinion that you can invade your own sovereign territory but leaving that aside, UK citizens (which I assume is your shorthand for Falkland Islanders) were the only settled inhabitants on what you (but not they) teasingly call the Malvinas.

Where else can one read examples of your balanced world view? I’ve been missing a treat and need to catch up.

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Jonathan Mason March 7, 2014 at 6:44 am

I think you are missing the point I made, which is that British policy towards the sovereignty of Las Malvinas has always been driven, at least since the 60′s, primarily by the question of self determination for the people of the islands, whereas the Argentinian position has always been a rather legalistic one that the British illegally booted them out in eighteen something after Argentina inherited sovereignty from Spain when it achieved independence.

It is very basic and primitive, but “blood is thicker than water” means a lot more to people than international law. People like Obama can say “Ooh, Mr. Putin, you are in breach of international law number 14, paragraph 7, subsection (d) (ii), so there, and if you disobey it, we will not let your wife come and do her Christmas shopping at Macy’s in New York, so take that!” but this line of thinking will have little significance to the people of Russian descent or ethnicity who have families, homes, and businesses in the Crimea right now who are scared of rioting mobs.

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The Meissen Bison March 7, 2014 at 9:03 am

Your first para is poppycock and you are being tendentious in naming the islands as you do.

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Mike March 6, 2014 at 8:15 pm

Anna
Would you please stop making me think rather than comfortably live with my prejudices?
Mike

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Anna Raccoon March 6, 2014 at 8:18 pm

My apologies Sir, I do know how comforting prejudices can be in one’s old age – I still have one or two myself.

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Michael March 7, 2014 at 1:20 am

I’ve been out of it for a bit, but from what I can gather there has been an unruly uprising in Ukraine and the President has been overthrown. According to the EU, Obama etc. this is a “good thing”, democracy in action, all that kind of thing.

But, the more Russian-centric folks down in the Crimea have had their own uprising and it looks like they have decided (by Parliamentary vote and pending referendum) that they want to be part of Russia. According to the EU, Obama etc. this is a “bad thing”, and you can’t just go rearranging the world because it’s 2014.

Can somebody catch me up? I feel like I’m missing something…

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Moor Larkin March 7, 2014 at 10:24 am

@Michael
Our dignitaries are boycotting the disable ski-ing competition. Can it get any worse? I hope not.

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Dioclese March 7, 2014 at 10:47 am

Recommend you watch “A Very British Coup” from a few years back.

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JimmyGiro March 7, 2014 at 11:30 am

I do big business… sign where told to sign.

I do trip to hair-dresser… have hair done.

I do government… sign where told to sign.

I do as I am told… so will you.

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