Ukraine, years of conflict: external sponsors and social swarming
The coup d’état in Ukraine is interesting from the standpoint of the analysis of network technologies and political manipulations. It is clear that the ‘Euromaidan’ was not a spontaneous reaction to Viktor Yanukovych’s and Nikolai Azarov’s call for a more detailed examination of the EU-Ukraine Association Treaty. It was planned long beforehand and staged with the help of foreign consultants and donors. If at the time of the colour revolutions in the first half of the 2000’s the names of financial speculator George Soros and his Open Society Foundation (who actively worked in the post-Soviet space immediately after the fall of the USSR) were often mentioned, then here there begin to appear new faces, paying for the preparation of coup d’états or the creation of neoliberal reforms.
One of these is the American multibillionaire Pierre Omidyar, a migrant from France of Iranian origin and the founder of the company eBay. There are suspicions that US intelligence services are linked to his business, just like the story of Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook, who disowns any and all links to the CIA and NSA. But it is clear that if American security organisations are observing the private correspondence and interests of citizens the world over with the help of their programs, buying and selling through a virtual auction house is also a part of their interests. Consequently, these processes are controlled.
Omidyar, having, like Soros, made easy money by selling airplane tickets online in 1996 and then, by widening his spectrum of services, significantly raised his level of income and became an investor.1 In 2004 he and his wife Pamela made an announcement about his philanthropic passions, founding the Omidyar Network.2 Like many earlier philanthropic millionaires (such as Bill and Melinda Gates, who have founded their own fund), or other American business owners, Omidyar focussed his activities on other countries and not on American society. Serious attention and significant means were allocated to mass-media work. In 2010 Omidyar’s corporation launched a project of journalistic investigations (it is clear that this is to spread democratic ideals, for which many other American humanitarians are also fighting), and in 2013 he contributed 25 million dollars to the journalistic project First Look Media. Omidyar immediately involved several ‘cult persons’ in this project: Glenn Greenwald from the British ‘Guardian’3 (who became well known for writing based on the leaks of Edward Snowden), Jeremy Scahill (known for his warzone reporting), and Laura Poitras from the MacArthur Fund, who is linked to the Freedom of the Press Foundation.
But the financing of anti-government groups in Ukraine under the cover of democratic transformation began far earlier than the abovementioned media project.
As is mentioned on the site Omidyar Network, more than one million US dollars was invested in the ‘Tsentr UA’ project: 335 thousand in 2011 and 770 thousand in 2013. Officially the money went to an initiative aimed at transparency and accountability of government operations.4
The paranoia that gripped Maidan and the other regions of Ukraine when activists, like a mantra, started repeating cries about the corruption of the Yanukovych regime, was deliberately cooked up by the organisations ‘Tsentr UA’, ‘New Citizen’, ‘CHESNO’5 and ‘Stop Censorship’, which were all funded by Omidyar’s network.
All these NGO’s were controlled by Anatoliy Rybachkuk, who had been Viktor Yuschchenko’s secretary of state and deputy prime minister and responsible for integrating Ukraine into the EU, NATO and other Western institutions. Omidyar himself gloated that his company would be forming Ukraine’s politics through these NGO’s.
To understand the depth of the situation we must look more closely at Omidyar’s Ukrainian partner.
Rybachuk began his career in the Kiev customs office, then he worked abroad, as a result of which he was hired by the international department of the National Bank of Ukraine. There he first met Viktor Yuschchenko. There are rumors that it was he who introduced the future president to the ex-CIA agent Ekaterina Chumachenko, who would later become Yuschchenko’s wife. Rybachuk was a trainee in Wall Street and the London City, two centres of worldwide financial liberalism.6 From 1999 to 2001 he was the director of the Ukrainian Prime Minister’s Centre, and in 2002 he became a deputy of Yuschchenko’s ‘Our Ukraine’ bloc. From February to September 2005 he took the post of deputy prime minister of Ukraine on questions of European integration in Yulia Timoshenko’s first term; he chose this position for himself. From September 2005 to October 2006 he was state secretary of Ukraine and them became head of Ukraine’s Presidential Secretariat. From October 2006 onwards, he was staff counsellor of president V. Yuschchenko. He was fired in 2008, after which he became head of the supervisory council of the ‘Suspilnist’ Foundation7.
In December 2007, while still being the president’s councillor, Rybachuk opened a Euro-Atlantic University in Kiev. This project started his ‘Suspilnist’ Foundation and Europe ХХI along with the support of the Taras Shevchenko Kiev State University’s Institute of Journalism, the representatives of Slovakia and the US in Ukraine, and a host of Ukrainian and foreign corporations.
At the opening ceremony there took place a transfer of the symbolism of the new University to NATO headquarters, and Rybachuk himself gave a lecture to the students, in which he announced that the University’s mission was the creation of a global dialogue and understanding, the development of democratic values, the development of civil society and social partnership by way of strengthening Atlantic and Euro-Atlantic cooperation. He remarked that one of the priorities of the project was the involvement of a large public in the discussion about Ukraine’s national interests and the country’s newest challenges, especially in the areas of security and the development of civil society.
In the middle of 2011 Ukraine’s mass-media noted that Rybachuk had involved himself in a number of journalistic projects, in particular the coordination of the activities of the correspondents of ‘Ukrainian Truth’.8
But the lion’s share of the work directed at discrediting and the future coup of the government was done through several NGO’s, which played a key role in the preparation of the Euromaidan: these are the ‘New Citizen’ campaign9, the social organisation ‘Tsentr UA’10 and the social movement ‘CHESNO’, of which Rybachuk was the founder and initiator. The CHESNO campaign, which had a clove of garlic for a symbol and ‘filter the Rada!’ as slogan, became the base network which other liberal Ukrainian NGO’s as well as Western donors linked up to. In the organisation’s financial report from October 2011 to December 2012 we see such donors as the International Renaissance Foundation (a Soros structure), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), USAID and UNITER (a special US reform-oriented program for Ukraine)11, the Washington IFES fund (which deals in election observation all over the world),12 the international organisation PACT Inc. and the Omidyar Network Fund13.
One could say that complex work under the command of Rybachuk begun in November 2011: a group of strategists, coordinators, translators, public speakers, communications managers, photo and video operators, editors, and volunteers took shape. CHESNO’s own financial report sheds light on the question in which cities the restructuring of Ukrainian citizen’s consciousness took place and by whom and where events were organized.14 Activities consisted of holding of round tables and expert panels, the creation of videos and sites, the use of social networks for agitation, the preparation of information production, the organisation of tours through the countryside, broadcasts on television, visits of foreign guests and international observers. Some activists, having shown a lot of enthusiasm (for example, they provided transport in their own vehicles, offered the use of their own homes, treated other activists to cakes, etc.) are mentioned separately in the report.
An analysis of groups and organisations involved in ‘CHESNO’ shows, that liberal and pro-European NGO’s worked in a narrow tandem with Ukrainian nationalist organisations, and in some cases, were part of one and the same structure and simply worked under different flags. For example, in the city of Sumy a Bureau for the Analysis of Politics appeared as a partner of the ‘CHESNO’ campaign.15 The director of this Bureau was Oleg Medunitsa, the former head of the Youth Nationalist Congress and strong Russophobe who for many years organised actions against the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine (for example in Chernigov in 2006, where an attempt to take the church of Saint Catherine took place and Medunitsa held a position in the governor’s office of the Chernigov region) and against pro-Russian movements. In other regions an analogous situation can be observed.
In the meantime, in March 2012, Rybachuk openly proclaimed that he was organising a new Orange Revolution while taking part in the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress in Ottawa. In an interview to the Financial Post he said: 'People aren’t scared. Our campaign ‘Clean up the Parliament’, which is geared to searching for and choosing the best members of parliament, is now gaining steam, we have 150 NGO’s in all big cities… The Orange Revolution was a miracle, a peaceful mass protest which worked. We want to do it again, and we think that it’ll turn out our way.’16
Sadly, information about the real aims of this NGO network reached the Ukrainian government too late. Only in 2014 an inquest about the laundering of illegally acquired money was started.17 Rybachuk then announced, that he ‘sees these police actions as a continuation of systematic repression by the government of civil society’, having added, that the reason probably was ‘Tsentr UA’ releasing a scandalous movie about Mezhigorje named ‘Open Access’ and that members of the ‘CHESNO’ movement took active part in the Euromaidan events.18 But soon combatants and snipers did their job, Yanukovych was running, Ukraine’s legal system came under the control of Euromaidan activists and Rybachuk, as he had done earlier, got off without a scratch.
Now some more words about Omidyar.
The American publication Pando notes that ‘Omidyar works closely with US foreign affairs organisations in order to interfere in the actions of foreign governments through financing regime change with the known instruments of American empire, while at the same time taking on a growing team of 'independent journalists’, which promise to research the actions of the US government internally as well as externally; at the same time he can boast of having unique, ‘competing’ ties with that government department’.19
Jeremy Scahill, who was recruited by Omidyar for his project First Look Media, told in one interview about the politics of his new media agency: ‘We discussed this for a long time at closed meetings; about what our position is going to be if the White House asks us not to publish something… But because we want to be competitors, they won’t know who to call. They know who to contact at The Times, who to turn to at the Washington Post. But who are they going to call when they deal with us? Pierre? Glenn?’.20
The Omidyar case is not unique. Sadly, the activities of these kinds of people do not end in one specific country. These ‘businessman-philanthropists’, having enormous resources and the most modern in technical equipment, are often criticised of having an enormous role in enlarging social inequality. These persons are called silicon millionaires in the US, as their offices are concentrated in the famed Silicon Valley in California.
Among others, another of the silicon men takes part in the board of Omidyar’s company: Mark Andressen21, the co-founder of Netscape Communications Corporation and a famous designer and engineer who has worked with large firms and who occupies himself with information technologies. Later he founded the venture fund Andressen Horowitz and launched the first commercial internet-resource which supports the virtual currency bitcoin (which was banned in the US itself).22 Additionally, he has a fairly specific view of science and knowledge and declared in 2013, that the value of an education in the humanities is becoming worthless and that everyone should be exclusively taught mathematics.
In addition, these millionaires are often linked to American politicians with fairly aggressive programs.
For example, the founder of the PayPal system, Peter Thiel, is known to have financed the Republican Ron Paul, who received 2,6 million dollars from Thiel for his project Endorse Liberty23 through the Super PAC system.24 Thiel calls himself a libertarian (that is to say a supporter of the socio-political group which comes out in support of sodomy and other indecencies of the ‘enlightened West’) and an opponent of democracy. Another interesting fact is that one of Thiel’s commercial projects, the firm Palantir (founded in 2004), the first external investment came from the CIA’s venture firm, In-Q-Tel. The company’s clients include the US State Department, the CIA, FBI, the US Army, US Marine, US Airforce, the New York and Los Angeles police departments, and a large number of financial institutions trying to protect themselves from banking scams. But what is more, Palantir was mixed up in a scandal when in 2011 the company was accused of the ‘creation of electronic dossiers on political opponents of the House of Representatives through the use of several ways’.25
The story of Omidyar’s financing of Ukrainian NGO’s has another interesting facet, namely that knowledge of the financial structure of these neoliberal groups who continued the cause of the ‘Orange Revolution’, was widely promulgated by a journalist of one of Omidyar’s own projects. It was a political analyst of the site The Intercept26 (which is dedicated to national security), Marcy Wheeler, who suggested, that the ‘revolution’ in Ukraine was nothing different than a coup, provoked by ‘deep’ forces in the interest of ‘Pax Americana’. Other journalists decided to investigate his opinion and the question of who financed who in Ukraine.
An analysis of the activities of such silicon businessmen is very necessary in the case of other countries as well to come to a full understanding of events.
It must be noted, that the military-analytical community of the US understands the depth of the problem. The appearance of a new type of capitalist has received the name of plutocratic mutiny. ‘This form of rebellion is a representative challenge of predatory and sovereign capitalism in the 21st century. It can be seen as a component of ‘dark globalisation’, which, alongside the appearance of ‘criminal mutiny’, is now actively threatening states and government institutions (who are led according to the Westphalian system of statehood)’.27
Such a form of plutocracy is closely linked to the principles of geo-economics and lobbying, which we will examine below.
As the direct process of organising the coup in February 2014 is concerned, the theory of social swarming, mentioned above, is fully applicable.
The events in Kiev remarkably resembled the methodical basis of the monitoring of insurgent activity and the use of counter-measure.28
The theory has shown its effectiveness, as both observation and for preventative measures against the activities of insurgents in Iraq, drug cartels in Mexico, and anti-globalists in EU-countries. Collected experience has made it possible not just to find and prognosticate the actions of terrorists, criminal groups, and political activists, but also to plan scenarios with the inclusion of the ‘road map’ of social swarming.29 Along with the model of peaceful protests of Gene Sharp, the tactic of swarming was tested with success in the colour revolutions of the post-Soviet space.
It is important to understand that Ukraine is a special case in the number of countries where colour revolutions were conducted. After 2004 the ideological brainwashing of the population continued, which helped the ‘rooting’ of the tactics of the ‘Orange Revolution’, which led to them being seen as home-grown and authentic.30 Two vectors can clearly be noticed: one pro-Brussels, one nationalist. They narrative of the necessity of approaching Europe, the faster the better and with the price of irreversible and serious losses, covered them like a parasol. Were there really demonstrations on the Maidan for independence and sovereignty? There was none of this, but there was an open desire to move towards the EU. To awaken such a mass psychosis, in the years before the events American and European emissaries had been meticulously laying the groundwork by holding training sessions for students, giving grants to image companies and calling for the fixing of social problems, which would ‘definitely be defeated’ with the help of Brussels and Washington.
Strictly speaking, according to the social swarming model, the preparatory phase can last fairly long before it transforms into the second, which is linked to the expression of motivation. A call to march to the Maidan because of the refusal of the country’s government to sign a cabal agreement about association with the EU was the second phase, after which the opportunity (for the protesters) to undertake some sort of action immediately appears.
This phase includes choosing the target, which became the acting president and prime minister of Ukraine. Activities are directly necessary to discredit them. If nothing happens there is the risk of action turning into stagnation; a catalyst is required, which allows for saving time and to move to a new phase. The most tried method for this is (in Europe as well) force.
Provoking violence in a place with a large concentration of people is not difficult for professionals. Groups of radical nationalists were chosen to provide shock force the ‘Freedom’ party, ‘Patriot of Ukraine’, ‘MNK’, ‘OUN’, ‘KUN’, ‘OUN-UNSO’ and a series of banderist formations (including the at that time new ‘Right Sector’ project), which converge in their strategic vision for the future of Ukraine and have similar views on several questions of internal politics: banning migrants from entering the country and fighting against them (often through illegal means), xenophobia, a feeling of racial superiority, that is, all signs which are considered neo-Nazism in the EU.
It must be noted, that the ideal motivation in many ways helped manipulators to use nationalists, who were unable to identify being enslaved to political technology.
According to people standing on the Maidan on the 24th of November 2013, right after provocations by groups of young people having come in from Western Ukraine did the police start to use force. After that the ‘spontaneous’ burst of discontent followed and new groups of banderists and moderate oppositionists, ‘fighting for European values’, started trooping to Kiev.
According to the model of social swarming with the help of communications, this was already the switch from the third phase (protest) to the fourth (recruitment). It is clear, that in order to support the third phase, which consists of a narrative formulated into a concise media message, needs resources like time and money, this provocation (which caused a snowball effect) was undertaken. Going further, a window of opportunity opens, which consists of the following phases: political anger and political change. Alongside political anger the potential for violence rises sharply, which we saw on the first of December 2013 at the building of Ukraine’s presidential administration. Combatants from the group ‘Ukrainian Patriot’ were on the front lines, storming the police spetsnaz with the help of an excavator, cobblestones, Molotov cocktails and flares. This phase needs resources as well.
According to the scheme given by Mia Stockmans, international support is involved in the recruitment phase. It is not a coincidence that immediately after the events of the first of December the establishment in Brussels, the White House, and the heads of individual countries immediately started angrily wailing about possible sanctions against Ukraine and its civil servants; a number of Western mass-media outlets condemned the actions of the Ukrainian government, and in Lithuania and Sweden Ukrainian diplomats were called to local foreign affairs departments. On the third of December 2013 there was even held a meeting about the situation in Ukraine in the NATO headquarters, as if a genocide or civil war were taking place (it is telling, that the country itself is not a member of the bloc). Russian liberals also supported protests directly or indirectly, without especially going into the details of the division of political groups.
After this Ukraine entered the final phase, which is connected with political change. It is this what Brussels’ and Washington’s project managers were after. The Ukrainian government ran from the country and power was taken by force.
It must be noted, that a series of studies was conducted by American specialists in 2009 during and after the presidential elections in Iran, in 2010 after the Haiti earthquake, after the start of the Arab Spring in December 2010 in Tunisia, and also in Pakistan, thereby showing on whose side the sympathies of the inhabitants of that country lie. These scenarios can be played out in any country where there is even the smallest amount of access to the Internet and mobile communications.
5 См. финансовый отчет этой кампании за 2012 г. с детализацией: http://chesno.org/media/uploads/09_09_2013_chesno_2012_finance_campain_final.pdf
27Роберт Банкер, Памела Лигури Банкер. Плутократический мятеж// Геополитика, 14.06.2017
28 David Faggard. Social Swarming. Asymmetric Effects on Public Discourse in Future Conflict// Military Review, March-April 2013, p. 79
29 Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs, the Next social Revolution: Transforming Cultures and Communities in the Age of Instant Access, Cambridge, MA: Basic Books, 2002.
30 Эндрю Корыбко. Украина. Цветная революция 2.0.// Геополитика, 29.11.2013 http://www.geopolitica.ru/article/ukraina-cvetnaya-revolyuciya-20#.Up46EdJdWuI