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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/11/16

"Yats" Is No Longer the Guy

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Meanwhile, with Yanukovych shifting back toward Russia, which was offering a more generous $15 billion loan and discounted natural gas, he soon became the target of American neocons and the U.S. media, which portrayed Ukraine's political unrest as a black-and-white case of a brutal and corrupt Yanukovych opposed by a saintly "pro-democracy" movement.

Cheering an Uprising

The Maidan uprising was urged on by American neocons, including Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Nuland, who passed out cookies at the Maidan and reminded Ukrainian business leaders that the United States had invested $5 billion in their "European aspirations."

As the winter progressed, the protests grew more violent. Neo-Nazi and other extremist elements from Lviv and other western Ukrainian cities began arriving in well-organized brigades or "sotins" of 100 trained street fighters. Police were attacked with firebombs and other weapons as the violent protesters began seizing government buildings and unfurling Nazi banners and even a Confederate flag. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, also showed up, standing on stage with right-wing extremists from the Svoboda Party and telling the crowd that the United States was with them in their challenge to the Ukrainian government.

Though Yanukovych continued to order his police to show restraint, he was still depicted in the major U.S. news media as a brutal thug who was callously murdering his own people. The chaos reached a climax on Feb. 20 when mysterious snipers opened fire, killing both police and protesters. As the police retreated, the militants advanced brandishing firearms and other weapons. The confrontation led to significant loss of life, pushing the death toll to around 80 including more than a dozen police.

U.S. diplomats and the mainstream U.S. press immediately blamed Yanukovych for the sniper attack, though the circumstances remain murky to this day and some investigations have suggested that the lethal sniper fire came from buildings controlled by Right Sektor extremists.

To tamp down the worsening violence, a shaken Yanukovych signed a European-brokered deal on Feb. 21, in which he accepted reduced powers and an early election so he could be voted out of office. He also agreed to requests from Vice President Joe Biden to pull back the police.

The precipitous police withdrawal opened the path for the neo-Nazis and other street fighters to seize presidential offices and force Yanukovych and his officials to flee for their lives. The new coup regime was immediately declared "legitimate" by the U.S. State Department with Yanukovych sought on murder charges. Nuland's favorite, Yatsenyuk, became the new prime minister.

Throughout the crisis, the mainstream U.S. press hammered home the theme of white-hatted protesters versus a black-hatted president. The police were portrayed as brutal killers who fired on unarmed supporters of "democracy." The good-guy/bad-guy narrative was all the American people heard from the major media.

The New York Times went so far as to delete the slain policemen from the narrative and simply report that the police had killed all those who died in the Maidan. A typical Times report on March 5, 2014, summed up the storyline: "More than 80 protesters were shot to death by the police as an uprising spiraled out of control in mid-February."

The mainstream U.S. media also sought to discredit anyone who observed the obvious fact that an unconstitutional coup had just occurred. A new theme emerged that portrayed Yanukovych as simply deciding to abandon his government because of the moral pressure from the noble and peaceful Maidan protests.

Any reference to a "coup" was dismissed as "Russian propaganda." There was a parallel determination in the U.S. media to discredit or ignore evidence that neo-Nazi militias had played an important role in ousting Yanukovych and in the subsequent suppression of anti-coup resistance in eastern and southern Ukraine. That opposition among ethnic-Russian Ukrainians simply became "Russian aggression."

Nazi symbols on helmets worn by members of Ukraine's Azov battalion.
Nazi symbols on helmets worn by members of Ukraine's Azov battalion.
(Image by (Filmed by a Norwegian film crew and shown on German TV))
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This refusal to notice what was actually a remarkable story -- the willful unleashing of Nazi storm troopers on a European population for the first time since World War II -- reached absurd levels as The New York Times and The Washington Post buried references to the neo-Nazis at the end of stories, almost as afterthoughts.

The Washington Post went to the extreme of rationalizing Swastikas and other Nazi symbols by quoting one militia commander as calling them "romantic" gestures by impressionable young men. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Ukraine's 'Romantic' Neo-Nazi Storm Troopers."]

But today -- more than two years after what U.S. and Ukrainian officials like to call "the Revolution of Dignity" -- the U.S.-backed Ukrainian government is sinking into dysfunction, reliant on handouts from the IMF and Western governments.

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at
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