Monday, January 26, 2009

Horbach vs. Gorbachev

I have recently heard that Gorbachev's original family name was Horbach and that they are Ukrainian. Apprently, the -ov was added during Stalin's big name-change operation, when all Muslim lastnames in the Soviet Union and many Ukrainian lastnames were changed in such a fashion on Stalin's orders. A Ukrainian member of the British Parliament, Stefan Terlezki, has also claimed in his book "From War to Westminster" that Gorbachev spoke with him in perfect Ukrainian when he visited Britain.

Has anyone heard anything about this?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ukraine on Facebook!

If you have a Facebook account, join our Ukraine page:

Ukraine Fan Page

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The number of Ukrainian dead in Holodomor

The question of Holodomor keeps being raised, again and again. One of the most frequent attempts to lessen the severity of the genocide is by arguing for a lower number of people who died from the Famine. Frequently it is stated that less than 3 million died from Holodomor in Ukraine.

These are Soviet population census figures for the top nationalities in the Soviet Union in 1926. The number of Russians rose by 21% in 11 years, showing a normal rate of growth, and the number of Ukrainians fell by 15%, showing a highly abnormal fall of population and resulting in the difference of 36% between Russians and Ukrainians, which corresponds to at least a 10 million decrease in the population of Ukraine within the same time period, assuming similar birth rates in Russia and Ukraine. In effect, in just 11 years the number of Russians vs. Ukrainians went from a ratio of 2:1 to a ratio of 3:1, which still holds today.

The only people who have suffered at least as heavily in the same time period are the Kazakhs, not so much from famine, but from forced resettlements and death marches of populations of entire areas of Kazakhstan. The Soviet state took the nomadic population of Kazakhs and forcibly resettled them into kolkozes. This should also qualify as genocide - of the Kazakhs. But in numerical terms, since the number of Ukrainians was so much greater than the number of Kazakhs, Ukrainians lost about 10 times as many people as the Kazakhs.

Additionally, the Soviet leadership, and Stalin in particular, were motivated to inflate the number of Ukrainians in the 1937 Soviet Census. It is a known fact that after they returned a number of Ukrainians that was too small for his liking, Stalin had the Census Director responsible for Ukraine executed, and ordered another Census in the territory of Ukraine, which came back with a higher number of Ukrainians.

My previous post on the topic:

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Public Opinion in Ukraine and Russia

Interestingly enough, according to the latest Gallup article, according to their polls taken in 2006-2008, most Ukrainians approve of the performance of Russian leadership.

I am not sure how the questions are phrased, but Ukrainians are one of the most supportive countries in the world with 59% approval, except for Serbia, with 63% approval.

And since Ukraine's leadership has mostly shielded the Ukrainian population from the effects of the gas blockade, I wonder if Ukrainians are going to maintain their high level of support for Putin and Medvedev.

According to recent survey results from the Levada center of Russia, by the way, Russians are hostile to pretty much all of the countries in the world. 54% of Russians consider Ukraine to be Russia's enemy. The country that Russians are most friendly to is Belarus, but not by much. Only 50% of Russians perceive Belarus as a friendly nation, even though Belarus is already heavily integrated into Russia. And that's their highest rating of any nation. There is not nation in the world that more than 50% of Russians perceive as a friendly nation. Ukrainians are a much more friendly people by contrast, with 60% of Ukrainians considering Russia to be a friendly nation and at least a plurality of Ukrainians considering all of their neighbors as friendly nations.

You have to wonder why Russians are so hostile to Ukraine? Is this a result of Moscow's anti-Ukrainian state propaganda? Or is there something deeper in play?

A German song about Medvedev... :)

Putins Puppenkiste (with Russian subtitles)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Russia's Gas War is Political

The dispute is entirely political. Russia is loosing more money by not sending gas than they were trying to squeeze out of Ukraine. Russian gas storages are full, so they will soon have to start burning their gas because they have nowhere to put it. The purpose of this gas war with Ukraine is the same as the purpose of the hot war with Georgia - to prevent the European integration of either nation and keep it within the Russian sphere of influence.

Gas pipelines affected

Russian back-stabbing and blame game

As this Romanian member of Yahoo Ukraine list has pointed out and Romanian media has publicized, the Gazprom subsidiary in Moldova was stealing gas coming in from Ukraine that was intended for delivery further downstream, to Romania and Bulgaria. And then Gazprom accused Ukraine of stealing Russian gas!

This has a Russian signature all over it. Just like the attempts by the Russian security services to hire Ukrainians to fight against Russians in Georgia, which, if it were successful, it could then use to accuse Ukraine of fighting Russia in Georgia. What other purpose any of this could have other than to make Ukraine look bad and to try to drive a wedge between Ukraine and the EU and set up both European and Russian citizens Ukraine...

>In the Romanian mass media that matters, Ukraine is no longer portrayed as a "gas thief". This is partly because of what has happened in Russia, and partly due to the disclosures related to the diversion of the gas from the pipelines for Romania and Bulgaria by the Moldovan subsidiary of Gazprom and by the Moldovan authorities. One senses that Voronin's attempt to back-stab Ukraine economically through this (to divert gas, and create the impression that Ukraine is doing it), and the buying of electrical power from a Transnistrian gas company instead of from Ukraine (Ukraine is exporting 1/3 of her spare electric power to Moldova) is more than the Ukrainian Orange authorities are willing to accept. With Moldova having gas reserves for 24 hours, one senses that the Communists' popularity will be broken. They will come off looking bad. The issue nevertheless needs to be posed: didn't, by propping up Voronin, helping him get re-elected in 2005 with the help of a part of the opposition, Yushchenko and a part of the Orange Kyiv feed the Tasmanian devil called the Moldovan Communists, which is now biting Ukraine's leg? The reason why they did it do not matter, but the fact that it was done has turned against Ukraine like a boomerang. I repeatedly warned about what the Moldovan Communists were up to, and I wasn't alone. Yet Orange Kyiv has learned everything "the hard way", as it always seems to do, not like the good student, but like the student who crams before the exam.

All the best,


Friday, January 9, 2009

Russia and Ukraine Playing Hardball

"With its economy in deep trouble, Ukraine has little to lose by using its control of European fuel shipments to resist Russia's demand for a price increase. By contrast, Russia is suffering huge losses in immediate gas revenue and enormous damage to its reputation as an energy partner seeking European investment. Yet political considerations seem to have prevented the Kremlin from surrendering. ...

"If Putin decides to get soft with our neighbors and the West, it could be viewed in Russia and by his own gang as an expression of weakness," Shevtsova said. "Toughness is approved by Russian society." ...

"Russia is trying to browbeat us," said Ivan Lozowy, president of the Kyiv-based Institute of Statehood and Democracy. "Polls show that Russians are more concerned about the loss of superpower status than poverty or economic issues. And for Russia to reestablish itself as a great power, Ukraine is critical." ...

Ukraine also says it has enough gas in storage to last until early April, which means it can afford to be patient. Gas prices in Europe are generally set by a formula using the price of oil, but the recent collapse in oil prices will not be factored in until April. Once it is, Ukraine will have a stronger case against a sharp price increase.

Analysts said Ukraine risks a backlash in Europe if the standoff drags on, but Russia is in a more vulnerable position because it is losing revenue and also expected to face costly lawsuits. In the long term, Europe could turn against Russia as an energy partner and seek alternative supplies.

Those costs could outweigh the estimated $2 billion to $4 billion difference in the last negotiating positions disclosed by the two sides, given that Gazprom reported revenue of $70 billion in 2007.
"Everything about this dispute is negative for the Russians," said Jonathan Stern of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. "And if everyone blames the Russians, Ukraine has nothing to lose."'

Economy, Politics Stoke Russia-Ukraine Gas Quarrel

Deliveries Halted To European Users As Feud Deepens

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Influence of Diasporas on Home Countries

A Ukrainian news item on a Johns Hopkins lecture on the influence of diasporas on their home countries of Ukraine, Moldova and Albania.

The US-Ukraine Foundation ( took part in the event.

У Вашингтоні говорили про вплив діаспор на життя своїх країн

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Russian "intellectual" predicts disintegration of US by 2010... :)

I thought this was a fascinating article. Fascinating because it reveals so much about how the Russian leadership thinks. Much like some Americans who don't know much about the history try to compare Ukraine to Texas, a Russian "intellectual" Igor Panarin, who is taken seriously by the KGB and the Russian government, believes that the United States is just like the Soviet Union and will fall apart in the same way...

A Disintegrating U.S.? Critics Come Unglued
Russian's Prediction Spurs Celebrity, Scorn

By Joel Garreau
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 3, 2009; Page C01

For seriously predicting that the United States will break into six parts in June or July of 2010, Igor Panarin has suddenly become a Russian state-media celebrity. Hardly a day goes by without another interview or two for the KGB-trained, Kremlin-backed senior analyst. The clamor in Russia for his ideas is growing, he says.

Panarin's disintegration divination comes complete with a map. In it, Alaska goes to Russia. Hawaii goes to Japan or China. "The California Republic" -- the West from Utah and Arizona to the Pacific -- goes to China. "The Texas Republic" -- the South from New Mexico to Florida -- goes to Mexico. "Atlantic America" -- the Northeast from Tennessee and South Carolina up to Maine -- joins the European Union. And "The Central North-American Republic" -- the Plains from Ohio to Montana -- goes to Canada.

Few Americans paid any attention to his novel views until this week, when the Wall Street Journal trumpeted them on Page 1. Within hours, the U.S. media began the counterattack.
This is preposterous, Time magazine said in a blog.

"The man knows nothing at all about American regional differences," wrote Justin Fox, Time's business and economics columnist. South Carolina is like Massachusetts? Tennessee will join with France? Idaho will find something to love about California? Wyoming will snuggle up to Ottawa? Alabama will happily report to Mexico City? "Yeah, right!" Fox wrote. "Has this man ever been to the United States? Has he never even heard of 'The Nine Nations of North America'? . . . Igor, do your homework!"

Ahem, yes, that 1981 "Nine Nations" book I myself wrote. Well, I was young. I needed the money.

The regional bloggers who find it useful to view the continent functioning as if it were nine separate economies or distinct cultures that pay little regard to state or national boundaries have been loudly a-chirp about Panarin for a while.

Their complaints are similar to Time's. They're not so concerned about some Russkie anticipating American disunion, devolution, revolution, fratricide and overthrow of the government. What the hey, we celebrate those every Fourth of July. Never uncommon in North America is the geopolitical urge to take a walk for a pack of cigarettes. At any given time, there are as many as a dozen secession movements ongoing. The one getting the most press currently is the Second Vermont Republic.

Such unhappy places usually want to secede because they are marginal, cheated, powerless, sparsely populated areas neglected by the big urban centers that control powerful states. The reason their secession movements are thoroughly ignored is that they are marginal, cheated, powerless, sparsely populated areas neglected by the big urban centers that control powerful states.

The regionalists' problem with Panarin is that he couldn't be more clueless about where the real fault lines of culture and values are.

Las Vegas beats with the same heart as Portland, Ore.? Detroit is the soul mate of Bozeman, Mont.?

Good Lord, Richmond is the same place as Fairfax?

One possible explanation for how Panarin's hypothesis is being eagerly lapped up in Russia is that the Kremlin is projecting its own insecurities onto the United States.

"What may be clouding Mr. Panarin's crystal ball is the mistaken belief that U.S. citizens view themselves in the same way that residents of the old Soviet Union viewed that state," e-mails Thomas J. Baerwald, an investigator in a project called "Beyond Borders" and past president of the Association of American Geographers.

Just before the breakup of the Soviet Union, four Soviet and five American geographers started "Beyond Borders" to map within the Soviet empire the human values that endure -- those that have taken centuries to produce and are not likely to change precipitously. Their approach was based on the idea that all countries have underlying patterns of pasts, futures, loyalties, industries, climates, resources and politics. These functional cultural regions, in turn, frequently are far more significant than the arbitrary boundaries and surveyors' mistakes that usually make up politically defined borders.

To take one former Soviet example: The European gateway of St. Petersburg, across from Scandinavia, is profoundly different from all those Muslim "-stans" north and east of Iran, from Uzbekistan to Kyrgyzstan, that declared their independence from the Soviet Union the first chance they got.

Those departures still burn some Russians who hate the loss of empire. Perhaps they would like to shed crocodile tears at the idea that history might repeat itself near the U.S.-Mexico border.

When the Soviet Union broke apart, 14 independent countries emerged in addition to Russia. Quite a few of them instantly and desperately turned to Europe for their futures, including Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Georgia, Armenia and Ukraine -- not to mention all those Warsaw Pact places from Poland to the late Czechoslovakia. Might it warm a few cockles in Moscow to think that Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey or New Hampshire could go the same way?

Oh, and be still my Kremlin heart: those shooting wars in the Caucuses, in Chechnya and Georgia? If only those would erupt in the Rockies!

"I really see Panarin's argument as Russia looking in the mirror and projecting that onto the United States. 'Here they speak Spanish. Of course this can't hold together. Of course this will fall apart when the economy tanks,' " says Kathleen Braden of Seattle Pacific University, another member of the "Beyond Borders" team.

"The Russian mentality is, 'There are ethnic borders, and they won't go away. The only thing that keeps this melting pot together is money.' There's also a sense of 'Our empire broke up; why shouldn't theirs?' "

"We constantly were corrected when we tried to use the term 'Soviets' as a catch-all phrase for residents of the U.S.S.R.," Baerwald says. "People firmly told us that they were Russians or Lithuanians or Estonians or Ukrainians or other terms that identified a region or subregion that described their own geographical identity. In contrast, if you ask U.S. residents what term describes who they are, an enormous majority will reply 'I am an American.' Even in those places where regional loyalties are especially strong, such as Texas, loyalties to the U.S. are far greater than they are to states or regions.

"I suspect this would be true even had the U.S. not had the powerful reinforcement of national identity that followed in the wake of 9/11. But one can compare the way that U.S. citizens have dealt with the Iraqi war in comparison with the way the nation was torn by an equally unpopular war in Vietnam four decades earlier, and sense that there is a very strong belief among a very large percentage of Americans that while we may have problems and differences, the best way to attain a positive future is to remain solid as a united nation."

We can hope that Igor Panarin is offered the opportunity for a long road trip in these parts, either before or after his 2010 deadline for the end of the federal empire.

Perhaps he would discover what the acutely perceptive Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville did in the 1830s, as he wrote in "Democracy in America": that we Americans are an extravagantly creative people in how we generate social forms.

"Americans of all ages, all stations of life, and all types of disposition are forever forming associations," he wrote. "In democratic countries, knowledge of how to combine is the mother of all other forms of knowledge; on its progress depends that of all the others."

Indeed, Tocqueville noted, community here was rarely the same thing as formal government.

I have never thought that North America is flying apart, or that it should. But I once talked with someone who did: Archie Green, a University of Texas professor, folklorist and regionalist.

What he liked about the observation that North America was made up of quite real, tangible and long-lived civilizations such as the breadbasket or the Pacific Northwest is that if Washington, D.C., were to slide into the Potomac tomorrow under the weight of its many burdens and crises, the result would be okay. The future would not be chaos; it would be a shift. North America would not suddenly become a strange and alien world. It would be a collection of healthy, powerful constituent parts -- for example, Dixie -- that we've known all our lives.

Green saw this as a resilient response of a tough people reaffirming their self-reliance. It's not that social contracts are dissolving; it's that new ones are being born.

Check it out, Igor. In addition to the Mississippi Delta not being Belarus, you might find these real places nothing like your imagination.