Discerning Volodymyr Zelensky

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

“‘Not A Very Nice Person At All,’ she read. ‘I wonder what kind of person would put that on a wallet?’ ‘Someone who wasn’t a very nice person,’ said William.” –Terry Pratchett, The Truth

In this extremely short and simplistic post, I will do what it says on the tin: Scrape away the already deeply impacted layers of wartime propaganda[1]. I propose to do this in the old-fashioned American way: By following the money. (I was inspired to write this post by Gonzalo Lira, former NC contributor (!), streaming from Kharkiv (!!). His video, “Who Is Zelensky? A Puppet—and Here’s Why,” is perceptive, lucid, and convincing, albeit NSFW. I recommend you listen to it, on the off chance that the more hits this video has, the more of a public figure — hence, safer — Lira will be.)

As a caveat: I’m going to be looking at the dealings of a billionaire, the armed militants he funds, and a politician he funds. All these relationships are so complicated and intricate as to make, say, The Clinton Foundation look like a child’s scribbled drawing. All these relationships are deeply rooted in the history of Ukrainian nationalism as well, with plenty of heroism and villainy to go around. By taking a transactional approach (“follow the money”) I abstract away from all that. (For example, Watergate exploded because it involved cash payoffs, not because of the often bizarre personal histories of the participants.)

With that, let’s begin with the money man.

The Billionaire: Igor Kolomoyskyi

Long-time Naked Capitalism readers will recall that our own Richard Smith introduced us to Igor Kolomoyskyi[2] eight years ago, in 2014:

Kolomoyskyi is one of the oligarchs charged with holding down the Eastern provinces of Ukraine[3], and recently mocked Putin, reputedly sensitive about his height, as a “schizophrenic shortarse” (apologies for the English intonation: American alternatives are invited); definitely a bridge-burning moment. Putin, meanwhile, shut down as much of Kolomoyskyi ’s bank as he could, in Crimea and Moscow. I’m not sure who started it, but we can certainly mark it down as a first-rate spat.

While that was brewing up, Kolomoyskyi might well have wanted something that looked an American protector, and got it, in the form of the VP’s son[, Hunter Biden]. Another guess: Kolomoyskyi is far too ebulliently Jewish to look like a neo-Nazi. A US connection with Kolomoyskyi might play well in circles keen to counter Russian complaints that the interim Kiev regime is dominated by “Fascists”.

No, I’m not going down this Hunter Biden rathole; those are not the transactions I am interested in now. I will note in passing that Kolomoyskyi ‘s style could be considered — let’s just go ahead and say it — crude. Kolomoyskyi and his running buddy, Gennadiy Bogolyubov, were business partners and founders of a thing called Privat Group:

Kolomoyskyi and Bogolyubo]fostered strong reputations as corporate raiders in the mid-2000s, becoming notorious for a series of hostile takeovers. Hostile takeovers Ukrainian style, that is, which often included the active involvement of Privat’s quasi-military teams. These schemes included, among others, a literal raid on the Kremenchuk steel plant in 2006, in which hundreds of hired rowdies armed with baseball bats, iron bars, gas and rubber bullet pistols and chainsaws forcibly took over the plant.

As of this writing, Kolomoyskyi was #1750 on the Forbes billionaires list, with a real time net worth (assuming Forbes didn’t outsource the data gathering to CDC) of $1.8 billion. Kolomoyskyi has also fallen out with the United States, amusingly including the Atlantic Council, but I assume all these tiresome bureaucratic obstacles will at some point be swept away, so that’s another rathole I’m not going down. Suffice to say that Kolomoyskyi still has his billions, which I expect go farther in Ukraine than they would here, and isn’t at all shy about funding thugs. Kolomoyskyi, like any billionaire, holds a portfolio of projects in the political field. I don’t know how many he has in toto, but there are at least two. Let’s look at them.

The Banderite Fascists: The Azov Battalion and Right Sector

Here is a photo from Ukraine on January 1, 2022. Nice torches!

The caption: “Activists of various nationalist parties carry torches and a portrait of Stepan Bandera during a rally in Kyiv… The rally was organized to mark the birth anniversary of Stepan Bandera, founder of a rebel army that fought against the Soviet regime and who was assassinated in Germany in 1959.” And further from The Times of Israel:

During World War II, Bandera led the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, whose men killed thousands of Jews and Poles, including women and children, while fighting alongside Nazi Germany against the Red Army and communists.

Bandera’s supporters claim that they sided with the Nazis against the Soviet army in the belief that Adolf Hitler would grant independence to Ukraine.

Expressions of admiration for Bandera and other collaborators have increased in scope and status following the 2014 revolution in Ukraine, which toppled the regime of Viktor Yanukovych amid claims that he is a Russian stooge, and triggered an armed conflict with Russia.

The History News Network gives more detail on Bandera:

Historian Karel Berkhoff, among others, has shown that Bandera, his deputies, and the Nazis shared a key obsession, namely the notion that the Jews in Ukraine were behind Communism and Stalinist imperialism and must be destroyed. “The Jews of the Soviet Union,” read a Banderist statement, “are the most loyal supporters of the Bolshevik Regime and the vanguard of Muscovite imperialism in the Ukraine.” When the Germans invaded the USSR in June 1941 and captured the East Galician capital of Lvov, Bandera’s lieutenants issued a declaration of independence in his name. They further promised to work closely with Hitler, then helped to launch a pogrom that killed four thousand Lvov Jews in a few days, using weapons ranging from guns to metal poles. “We will lay your heads at Hitler’s feet,” a Banderist pamphlet proclaimed to Ukrainian Jews.

Bandera’s ideology lives on today, specifically[4] in the Azov Battalion, originally a paramilitary organization, but now incorporated into the Ukraine National Guard. WSWS summarizes:

The Azov Battalion was founded by the anti-Semite Andriy Biletsky in 2014. It incorporated many members of Biletsky’s former ultranationalist, white supremacist organisations, Patriot of Ukraine and the Social-National Assembly (SNA). These tendencies trace their political roots back to the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), headed by Stepan Bandera, and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA)….

In 2015-2016, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights connected Azov with war crimes, including mass looting, unlawful detention and torture.

Since Yanukovych’s ouster, the US and its allies have ensured that the Ukrainian regime, particularly its far-right paramilitaries, remain a significant and threatening force. Billions of dollars have been spent supporting the government and supplying and training its armed forces.

In April 2015, nearly 300 members of the US 173rd Airborne Brigade were sent to Ukraine to train Ukrainian soldiers, including members of the Azov Battalion. They were joined by British, Canadian and Polish soldiers in Operation Fearless Guardian.

Hence the designation, Banderite. We’re using the term Banderite Fascists partly for the sake of accuracy, but also to avoid confusing our own cosplaying soi-disant “Neo-Nazis” with the the real deal in Ukraine. And no, I don’t think “fascist” is off-point, either. Readers wlll recall Robert Paxton’s definition of fascism:

Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victim- hood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.

That rings a lot of bells with me, especially the “redemptive violence” part.

After this build-up, you will unsurprised to learn that Kolomoyskyi funded the Azov Battalion:

Before becoming part of Ukraine’s armed forces, who funded Azov? The unit received backing from Ukraine’s interior minister in 2014, as the government had recognised its own military was too weak to fight off the pro-Russian separatists and relied on paramilitary volunteer forces.

These forces were privately funded by oligarchs – the most known being Igor Kolomoisky, an energy magnate billionaire and then-governor of the Dnipropetrovska region.


[Ihor Kolomoyskyi] also allegedly funds the Azov Battalion….. Meanwhile Norwegian channel TV2 presented footage yesterday of the Azov battalion flying flags with the symbols of Ukraine’s neo-Nazi party – Patriot of Ukraine.


Some of Ukraine’s private battalions have blackened the country’s international reputation with their extremist views. The Azov battalion, partially funded by Taruta and Kolomoisky, uses the Nazi Wolfsangel symbol as its logo, and many of its members openly espouse neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic views. The battalion members have spoken about “bringing the war to Kiev,” and said that Ukraine needs “a strong dictator to come to power who could shed plenty of blood but unite the nation in the process.”

(There’s that “redemptive violence” thing.)

And besides funding the Azov Battalion, Kolomoyskyi is funding somebody else, seriously and for some time.

The Politician: Volodymyr Zelensky

That would be the current President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky[5]. From the BBC:

[I]n the Ukrainian political television dramedy Servant of the People, Volodymyr Zelensky plays a teacher who becomes president after a video of him ranting against government corruption goes viral. It’s typical of the programme’s slapstick take on the country’s struggles with oligarchy and overindulgent bureaucrats during its 18 years as an independent, post-Soviet nation. But scenes like this one have taken on a new significance now that Zelensky has become the real president of Ukraine, thanks to his popularity as a fictional leader.

Ironic, history. More:

Servant of the People premiered in Ukraine in 2015, starring Zelensky – then known as a comic actor – as a regular guy-turned-president named Vasyl Petrovych Holoborodko. The show ran for three seasons on the country’s 1+1 channel

In terms of quality, Servant of the People holds its own against any internationally known prestige comedy, which likely contributed to its effectiveness in both pointing out such corruption and crowning a real president. It falls somewhere between Armando Iannucci’s dark, cutting political satires, The Thick of It and Veep, and the sunny American take on local politics, Parks and Recreation. Servant of the People hits close to the bone at times, but offers a ray of hope too, packaged in smooth production, tight writing, fine performances, and laugh-out-loud sequences.

It’s little wonder that such a series, coupled with Zelensky’s winning performance as a smart, moral everyman, added up to a presidential victory that exceeded the show’s fantasy version of election night: on Servant of the People, he won 67% of the vote; in real life, he won 73.2%.

And the kicker:

[Igor] Kolomoisky owns 1+1, which broadcast Servant of the People and ostensibly helped to bring Zelensky to power.

“Ostensibly” is doing more work there than any mere adverb should every have to do. And Zelensky fits into the West Wing-shaped hole in the liberal Democrat brain. A telling detail on the 2019 election:

With the Ukrainian economy stalled and Poroshenko’s approval rating approaching single digits, it seemed likely that the 2019 presidential election would be a repeat of the 2014 contest, with the incumbent facing Orange Revolution veteran Yulia Tymoshenko. Instead, more than three dozen candidates entered the race, and Zelensky emerged as one of the front-runners virtually from the moment of the declaration of his candidacy. That announcement was made on 1+1 on December 31, 2018, preempting Poroshenko’s annual New Year’s address. The provocative move raised questions about the involvement of 1+1 owner Kolomoisky in Zelensky’s campaign.

I’ll bet!


I realize that in the current climate of fevered hysteria, anything less than wide-eyed hero worship of Zelensky will be seen by the more delusional engaged as somewhere between kicking a sad-eyed puppy and an act of high treason. And I freely admit that I haven’t tried to work out causalities, or disentangle feuds between fascists, or battles against corruption, let alone geopolitics, or anything like that. I have only looked at transactions: billionaire Kolomoyskyi funded Banderite fascists; billionaire Kolomoyskyi funded Zelensky. Doesn’t that seem odd to you?[6]

It seems odd to me. Perhaps the press should dig into it. Let’s transpose the situation to the United States. Suppose your candidate was an honest, independent outsider running for President. Then you follow the money. You find out that an oligarch paid your candidate a big advance to (say) write their book, and that same oligarch was also funding (say) the Proud Boys. Wouldn’t that set of transactions make you think twice? About the outsider’s honesty and independence? You might even decide your candidate was “Not A Very Nice Person At All.”


[1] This from Bush-era Iraq war brain genius Frum is more subtle than most:

The image is of The Battleship Potemkin (memorialized in Eisenstein’s great film). The battleship, part of the Czar’s Black Sea fleet and stationed at Odessa, “became famous when the crew rebelled against its officers in June 1905 (during that year’s revolution), which is now viewed as a first step towards the Russian Revolution of 1917.” If Frum imagines that Zelensky and company are Bolsheviks in reverse and will end up overthrowing Putin….. I have to say I’m dubious.

[2] ‘”The transliteration of Ihor Kolomoyskyi’s name into English has numerous variants including Igor, or Ihor for his first name, and Kolomoyskyi, Kolomoysky, Kolomoisky, Kolomoiskiy, or Kolomoyskiy for his surname.”

[3] Kolomoyskyi was forced to step down as governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region in March 2015.

[4] Ukraine has has a lot of militias, and a lot of fascist militias (if you use Paxton’s definition). See here and here. This is a rat warren I am not going to enter.

[5] Zelensky has moved quite a lot of money offshore. This is a rathole I am not going down.

[6] Pause here for the expected special pleading.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. KD

    These schemes included, among others, a literal raid on the Kremenchuk steel plant in 2006, in which hundreds of hired rowdies armed with baseball bats, iron bars, gas and rubber bullet pistols and chainsaws forcibly took over the plant.

    Western Capitalism, as in High Plains Drifter.

    1. Larry

      When the economy becomes sufficiently advanced, they rob you with a pen. Until then, they rob you with a gun.

    1. TroyIA

      Here is a Twitter thread by Aubrey Belford one of the authors of the Guardian article. I agree that Zelensky is no angel but who knows what the truth in Ukraine really is.

      Past tense. Kolomoisky funded militias at the outbreak of fighting in 2014. No more.

      Zelensky and Kolomoisky’s link is separate. Z made TV shows for K’s channel from 2012, and K backed him in 2019 election. Since then the relationship has broken down

      You are insinuating that Zelensky and Azov are somehow tied together because they both received support from Kolomoisky. Kolomoisky is a dangerous guy (because he’s a massive alleged thief who embezzled over $4.5B from his own bank) — but he’s not a Nazi

      Like Zelensky, Kolomoisky is Jewish. He backed far-right militia in 2014 not out of ideological reasons, but for the same reason many Ukrainians did: because they were among the few Ukrainians willing and able to fight Russia while the state was in disarray

      The far-right in Ukraine gained prominence in 2014 not because they were strong, but because the state was weak at a time that it was under existential threat. They fare very poorly in politics and have been sidelined more and more.

      Despite, backing Zelensky, Kolomoisky has also been sidelined. The far-right’s main institutional backer, former interior minister Arsen Avakov, was also pushed aside by Zelensky

      Your point actually leads to the opposite conclusion than you think it does. The far-right saw an opportunity for influence in 2014, but failed to translate that into power, and have steadily been squeezed aside as Ukrainian democracy has strengthened.

      1. kriptid

        I’d like to see where the claim that the relationship between Kolomoisky and Zelensky has broken down is coming from. There’s plenty of other articles out there that suggest Kolomoisky has maintained an influence. Aubrey Belford himself is on the byline of the OCCRP report claiming as recently as late 2021 that Kolomoisky was still controlling things behind the scences. I quote from the article below:

        “Even as Zelensky pushes his anti-oligarch campaign, some continue to doubt his sincerity. Among them is Ruslan Ryaboshapka, who was picked by Zelensky as the country’s top prosecutor in 2019, but ousted from the role in early 2020. He told OCCRP he believes this was due to pressure from the oligarch Kolomoisky.

        “A president shouldn’t own offshore companies. In general offshore companies are bad, whether they’re owned by a president or not,” Ryaboshapka said.

        The New York Times also reported on this connection in 2021. The reporter also states the following:

        “Mr. Kolomoisky controls a faction in Mr. Zelensky’s political party, the Servant of the People, without which the party would not have a majority in Parliament. Mr. Kolomoisky’s television station supported Mr. Zelensky in the 2019 presidential election.”

        Hard to believe Mr. Belford wouldn’t be aware of these reports.

        How can Mr. Belford say the connection broke down with such certainty in 2019? His own reporting suggests otherwise less than six months ago.

        The only thing that has changed in six months is that Russia is now at war with Ukraine and someone like Mr. Belford is likely under enormous institutional pressure to follow the narrative.

        I’d like to see some hard evidence that Kolomoisky has nothing to do with the nationalist militias, as well.

        1. TroyIA

          I still haven’t figured out what Mr. Belford’s angle is here. His article in the Guardian was co-written by Luke Harding. For those that don’t remember Harding wrote an article claiming that Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort met with Julian Assange while he was holed up at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. My personal opinion is that is absolutely false.

          I have considered any story written by Harding ever since to be highly suspect. Which leads me to question Belford’s involvement with Harding and just how accurate his reporting is including his research in the Pandora Papers.

          It is just open speculation on my part but there is something off about Belford and I think both him and Harding report stories that are inaccurate in order to advance agendas for who knows? Probably some 3 letter organizations.

          I have a sense that everything and everyone involved in Ukraine is corrupt and the rest of the world is being sucked into wars hot, cold and economic.

  2. Keith McClary

    The Ukrainian Department of deRussianization has decreed that ZELENSKYY is the correct Ukrainian-English transliteration.

  3. Susan the other

    So, not to drag cute little Hunter and his Daddy into this, but is Kolomoysky directly involved with Burisma? I mean, with his connections with Dnipropetrovsk and all.

    1. Susan the other

      Well hello Susan, it’s me again. That turned out to be a very interesting question that has been thoroughly explored by fraud investigations in the US and the UK. (John Helmer, or course, Dances with Bears, Feb. 19, 2015: “The Hunt for Burisma Part 2; What role for Igor Kolomoisky and what London Missed and What Washington doesn’t Want to Know”) The only thing I’m wondering about now is just how Russia fits into all this racketeering and asset stripping. My guess would be that the dueling Ukrainian oligarchs were undermining Russia’s energy contracts with the EU and possibly made attempts at outright stealing the natural gas since Burisma was later reported to be a gas pipeline company without any gas. The connection with US “senator’s sons” was quasi legit compared to the racketeering of the Ukrainian oligarchs. In order to gain access to US technology and money to set up their anticipated gas pipeline to the EU they had to have legit US names on record as persons of interest. Whereas in actuality it was all controlled by Kolomoisky. So now I’m wondering if the Donald was in cahoots with Kolomoisky as Burisma blew up, or was Biden?

  4. jax

    Americans, speaking from a place of serious privilege, “I’m willing to pay more for gas and food, because freedom”, while unwilling to look at the admittedly labyrinthine and unquestionably racist politics of eastern Europe. I despair.

    1. Glossolalia

      I’m pretty sure any Americans saying that are the PMC/Zoom class, not anyone who sweats or gets dirt under their nails at work.

  5. hamstak

    My understanding was that Kolomoisky (or I.K., or Icky “as his friends like to call him”) is currently residing in Switzerland (per, IIRC, The Saker), which could be very convenient from a banking perspective.

    Putting on my tinfoil hat — which at this point is so crumpled as to be more of a tinfoil rag — Zelenskyyyyy’s role in the TV series could be viewed as a training campaign for actual governance. I wonder how faithfully they reconstructed the office, the administrative cabinet, and so forth to give Z a feel for presidential authority.

    1. jo6pac

      Well I say it’s true we in Amerika had 2 bad actors as potus;-) Then again they all have been bad actors or not.

      1. Brunches with Cats

        We also had a comedian in the U. S. Senate. Well, to clarify … a well-established, nationally known comedian who changed his career to politics, and not just one of the clowns, jokers, and clueless idiots passing through that august body whose goal wasn’t to make us laugh.

  6. pjay

    Once again, thank you for posting on this very relevant information – a little piece of Ukrainian reality in a vast sea of myth. Which is related to your hilarious one-liner: “Perhaps the press should dig into it.” I laughed out loud.

  7. JohnA

    Odesa is to Odessa as Kyiv is to Kiev.

    Just the other day, I saw a campaign to make Zelensky the Time man of the year for 2022. I expect none of this excellent expose, hattip Lambert, will surface in the western mainstream media.

  8. Skippy

    What if Zelensky is the epitome of a flexian neoliberal globalist that’s – in it for himself – by serving his oligarchical betters for a lifestyle upgrade and is actuality void of any ethos [good or bad] except for posturing for the faithful unwashed.

    I’m reminded of a old NC post, way down the memory hole, that dealt with certain ideological perspectives which all neoliberal promoters adhered too. Mainly anyone in a position of wealth/power was innate[.] I referenced an European AET conference that was attended by top public and private administration people which were inform by the speakers that their social status was vindication of them being absolutely the right people in their rolls, work life and private life leaders over others. Which is kinda funny in this context as Zelensky is just a proxy for his betters in achieving their goals/agendas and seemingly willing to play his part to the hilt because his belief can be life boated out. Then live the exiled roll to keep the embers hot back home or return triumphantly one day.

    The idea that any of this has to do with some notion of heroic nationalism or any other such contrivance is just window dressing when its more of a Richard Smith exposé on financial flows and how far some are willing to go to preserve them and expand them [Capitalism – thud].

    1. KD

      No, ultranationalist boneheads are integral to the project, even if they are in the end pawns and not bishops. You can’t underestimate the need for off-the-books bully boys in Eastern Europe in making a proper freedom omelette by plugging some cops and some protesters.

      1. Skippy

        I don’t know why some have picked a side just on what colour and pattern the window dressings are hung out, oh yeah, externalize all the problems … emotional anguish is magically transferred to hate of others … fixed …

      1. Skippy

        A very good friend back in Boulder CO that grew up in Colorado springs, served as a M-1 tank driver in the first Iraq war and did clean up on the road of death, loves the Cure, about Boulder liberal as they come, nice guy to a fault, but … when it comes to anything trotted out as a threat to America and its ***Way of Life[tm]*** he’s ready to jump on the wagon and adamant and vocal about everyone coming/pulling together – those in attendance all nod the[ir head/s.

        This coming from a guy that cleans the bathroom after a long hot shower on Sundays, with the Carpenters on, hence no matter how inebriated you got on Saturday night you always knew it was Sunday upon hearing the music … BUT WAR …

        PS … having pre Iraq flash backs and overhearing/seeing the same public perceptions e.g. vulgar.

      2. Dwight

        Perhaps Lang is being facetious.

        Thank you for explaining Zelensky and Kolomoskyi so well.

        1. Soredemos

          There’s a significant chance he’s being serious. He’s downright gleeful about all the supposed defects in Russian warmaking in Urkaine (and he uncritically believes anything negative he comes across).

      3. ChrisPacific

        He is susceptible to mythologizing and likes to cast key players in military conflicts in archetypal roles. I’m sure the ‘Zelensky as action hero’ storyline appeals to him.

        He’s also ex-intelligence and believes US intelligence services are a force for good in the world. (All the evidence to the contrary in recent decades he acknowledges, but sees as a problem with the people in charge rather than the institution as a whole). His main beef with the US isn’t that it is a soft power imperialist, but that it is screwing it up so badly.

    1. pjay

      I don’t check his site very often anymore. But it seems like a more rational position on Russia and the Ukraine was prevalent there until recently. Did the Russian “military operation” change things? Or is there some disagreement between Lang and some of his contributors?

      1. Leftist Mole

        I think so. They’re gone, while Lang has gone full grumpy old man, wishing he could go fight them dirty rooskies himself. Too bad. He’s been screaming about our borders, wokeness, and BLM for quite a while now, so I wasn’t checking in on his site until the invasion started.

      2. rowlf

        Contributor Larry Johnson and a few commentors have tried to present an objective view of what the Russians are doing and why but are paddling upriver to the pro Ukraine (mis)(dis)(maybe-might-be-real)information.

  9. Bob

    Not a whisper about The Holodomor, also known as the Terror-Famine or the Great Famine, which was a famine in Soviet Ukraine from 1932 to 1933 that killed millions of Ukrainians. The point is there was a very deadly, evil, horrific event that has wounded the Ukraine for years.

    Zelensky appears to be at least trying. Whether or not he is bankrolled controlled by a dubious character in the form of a billionaire.

    1. JohnA

      Actually, there is a great deal of research to show that the magnitude of the Holomodor was yellow journalism from the west. There were several famines in the years before the so-called Holomodor, but the measures implemented by Stalin at the time of the Holomodor were designed to prevent any more famines of that kind, rather than some kind of collective punishment for Ukrainian insurrection. And yes, you’ve guessed it, there were no more such big famines after that particular year. Dont believe all the western propaganda you read. And that includes in 2022.

      1. Skippy

        I have posted before in comments back in the day that Stalin did nothing, it was the commissar of Ag that pounced on a the latest Western fashion of Lamarckism at the time and further complicated by some internal political footsie. So the whole ideological fable concocted post hoc ergo propter hoc for PR reasons is why we have the whole communism = we are all going to starve memes with McNamaraian body counts as the focal point.

        But you can get your freedom with some processed food of little nutritional value and huge medical ramifications or some OxyContin or lead in your kids water, etc …

      2. Mike

        My Mennonite ancestors from the Ukraine would tell you the entire 1920’s was nearly spent in a famine, the Holomodor was maybe finally when people starting dying en masse, albeit at a faster rate then before. Good book on it written in the 1960’s called mennonite exodus by frank epp.

        Maybe the Holomodor was a Russian problem out of Moscow but the break down of agriculture in the 20’s was because of Ukrainian banditry not Russian banditry. Was self induced by Ukraine’s own inept communists.

        1. Polar Socialist

          Not saying it wasn’t a Russian problem, but the main culprits seem to be:
          – Josef Stalin, Georgian
          – Lazar Kaganovich, Stalin’s deputy, Ukrainian
          – Viacheslav Molotov, Chairman of the Soviet of the People’s Commissars, Russian
          – Pavel Postyshev, Secretary of the Central Committee of the all-russian CP, Russian
          – Stanisław Kosior, Communist Party leader of Ukraine, Polish
          – Vlas Chubar, Chairman of the Soviet of People’s Commissars of Ukraine, Ukrainian
          – Mendel Khatavevich, Secretary of the Central Committee of the CP Ukraine, Belarusian

          which leaves room for interpretations that don’t put the blame to any particular ethnicity.

      3. Harold

        Most of the 1930s famine documentation was written by observers from the former Galicia (Southern Poland), which was not under Soviet rule at the time. Some historians have pointed out that the statistics, which describe large numbers very precisely, such as, for example 30,741, are suspect, because during catastrophes of that nature it is virtually impossible to have figures exact to the last digit. (Timothy Snyder, however, appears to have accepted them at face value).

        As far as pogroms and famines, in the February 25 edition of the Times Literary Supplement there is a review by David Herman of a new book about the pogroms of 1928 and the early 1920s, “In the Midst of Civilized Europe” by Jeffrey Veidlinger. Veidlinger writes that Pogroms in what is now Ukraine took the lives of 40,000 Jews, and another 70,000 subsequently perished from starvation, disease, and their wounds. He says that 700,000 Jews emigrated (many to Russia) and millions more were displaced internally, so that by 1926 nearly half the 1.5 million Jews of the Ukraine were not living in the locales where they were born. He notes that there were parallels with what happened 20 years later, in that people were murdered, not by faceless bureaucrats, but at close range near their homes by people they knew.

    2. lambert strether

      > Not a whisper

      Yes, I’m capable of staying on topic. You, apparently, are not. And do see footnote [6].

    3. jonhoops

      “Zelensky at least a appears to be trying” Trying to what? Get his fellow countrymen and women slaughtered?
      More likely trying not to get his throat slit by his Right Sector minders, while putting on a sufficient performance for his US masters in an effort to try secure his prospective dacha in Maryland.

      I even wonder if he is still in Kiev? He supposedly made an address from his presidential office today, but it occurred to me that they probably still have the set from his TV show, so he really could be anywhere.

      1. Brian Beijer

        Last I read he was holed up in the American embassy in Poland. Not sure if that’s still the case.

    4. Soredemos

      There was no Ukrainian famine. There was a famine across all the agricultural regions of the Soviet Union. Ukraine wasn’t even the worst affected (Kazakhstan was). The idea of an intentional famine directed at Ukraine specifically is pure myth.

  10. Indus

    I realize that in the current climate of fevered hysteria, anything less than wide-eyed hero worship of Zelensky will be seen by the more delusional engaged as somewhere between kicking a sad-eyed puppy and an act of high treason.

    A gem of writing.

    Thank you Lambert for this excellent round up.

  11. Matthew G. Saroff

    I would note that notwithstanding here role as doyenne of the various color revolutions, Yulia Tymoshenko is a corrupt (and probably incompetent) oligarch.

    Her prosecution was both a political hit job and legally justified by the facts.

  12. Carolinian

    saker site rumors that there have been three assassination attempts on zelensky and that he is holed up in Poland. So even if he makes peace and Putin withdraws Zelensky still might have to conduct a government in exile in Poland–or Miami.

    Why are we involved in this mess?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I figure everyone with any money has bugged out already, and after handing out weapons to every yahoo, I don’t expect them to go back anytime soon.. So who is running things in the country? The Clinton Global Initiative has just been restarted. So Westerners are likely moving to feast on the donations being made by the gullible.

      We are talking about the economic effects in the US, the EU, and Russia, but Ukraine was already a dump. Imagine what it is like today, next week? Zelensky isn’t delivering a no fly zone.

      1. Keith McClary

        There were 2 million Ukrainians in Europe illegally. The million(?) leaving now get refugee status and an invite to Canada. There must be a business opportunity there.

        1. Skippy

          That has happened before and they were given land and seed and instructed to grow wheat, workmate from Canada families history.

    2. rowlf

      Will Zelensky be allowed to make peace with the Russians? The US and Ukraine right wing groups may not let him.

  13. Alan Roxdale

    There are parts of this I don’t understand. Like, why would Kolomoisky finance a Banderite movement if he himself is Jewish?

    Also, why did the NYT report that Kolomoisky was cozying up to Russia in late 2019, after the election? https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/13/world/europe/ukraine-ihor-kolomoisky-russia.html

    Very little about Ukraine makes any sense to me, but I get the strong impression that the confusion and chaos is a deliberately engineered state, designed to make it easier for oligarchs and criminals to operate in. And hence this war, so long in coming and with so few apparently trying to avoid it, seems to me to also suit their objectives. A “no mans land” Ukraine, with a weak and decommissioned state and with no hope of UN, Nato, or even Russian intervention would be a paradise for any great crook to loot and plunder as he pleased.

    1. K.k

      Interests trump morality, ideology, etc. all the time. The way US was willing to support the resistance in Syria knowing full well the opposition would consolidate under the jihadi head choppers very quickly. Or the State of Israel doing business and supporting governments with plenty of antisemites with arms sales. Or Israel even effectively supporting jihadis around golan insofar as they were attacking the Syrian State. Or the Germans in 1917 giving Lenin a helping hand in Russia, even though they were throughly anti communist. Lenin would, from their perspective, be useful in their immediate and urgent aim at the time of pulling the Russians out of ww1.
      For someone like Kolomoisky, these thugs are useful muscle willing to get there hands dirty. They could very well despise each other yet see the other as useful idiots worth supporting. Countless examples throughout history.

      1. Eustachedesaintpierre

        I think the key is is the word noble & it’s definition.

        Possessing hereditary rank in a political system or social class derived from a feudalistic stage of a country’s development.
        Having or showing qualities of high moral character, such as courage, generosity, or honor.
        Proceeding from or indicative of such a character; showing magnanimity.

        Personally I would cut out the feudal bit & a basic knowledge of history would show that the 2nd paragraph is a pile of steaming bullshit. I think the Neocons started as either Maoists or Trotskyites – extremists anyhow. it’s been a while since I looked at the philosophy of Leo Strauss & his philosophy which Kagan insists he doesn’t follow, based on Platonic notions of philosopher kings, which some believe has a Nazi undertone to it, but anyhow they work in the shadows on the principle of the ends justify the means.

        Crusaders allied with Muslims when it suited them, Pope Gregory the Borgia pope who had Sephardic Jewish ancestry cleaned out the Jewish refugees from Spain -there are plenty of available examples. The Nobility have always been above it all with sentimental stuff like morality being only for the little dispensable people & they have much more in common with each other. At Agincourt as the helpless French Aristocracy were stuck in the mud & being slaughtered by longbowmen by way of daggers being thrust into their brains through the visors of their splendid armour, an Aristo commented to Henry V, words to the effect of that it was a tragedy that such lowlife scum were butchering such esteemed gentlemen being the kind of people that they would under normal circumstances, strike up good relations with while waiting for the big juicy ransom to be delivered.

        That word Noble is known to be attached to the word lie, but it could easily be partnered with treachery, murder, torture, massacre, rape, robbery, extortion etc – they make their own rules.

        Great work again Lambert.

        1. Mr. House

          Wouldn’t it be genius to trick the people below you to believe in morals and doing the right thing when you yourself will never do any such thing? Its like always fighting someone with one arm tied behind their back.

  14. ks

    “PBS Newshour interviews the Mayor of Konotop, Artem Semenikhin, presenting him as a hero for killing Russian invaders.

    However, despite his Zoom blur effect, you can clearly still see that behind him is a portrait of Nazi leader and Holocaust perpetrator Stepan Bandera.”


    1. ks

      Yes, and do play those Alex Rubinstein Twitter videos. Those are some fine people we’re arming.

  15. juno mas

    Here’s a portion of the Declaration of Msgr. Carlo Maria Viganò on the Russia-Ukraine Crisis:

    The current Ukrainian President promoted his election campaign with a commercial that was disturbing, to say the least (here), in which, holding two machine guns, he fired on members of Parliament, pointed out as corrupt or subservient to Russia. The fight against corruption trumpeted by the Ukrainian President in the role of “servant of the people” does not correspond, however, to the picture that emerges of him from the so-called Pandora papers, in which 40 million dollars appear to have been paid to him on the eve of the elections by the Jewish billionaire Kolomoisky[1] through offshore accounts (here, here and here).[2] In his homeland, many accuse him of having taken power away from the pro-Russian oligarchs not to give it to the Ukrainian people, but rather to strengthen his own interest group and at the same time remove his political adversaries: “He liquidated the ministers of the old guard, first of all the powerful Minister of the Interior, [Arsen] Avakov. He rudely retired the president of the Constitutional Court who was acting as a check on his laws. He closed seven opposition TV channels. He arrested and accused of treason Viktor Medvedcuk, a pro-Russian sympathizer but above all the leader of the Platform of Opposition – For Life party, the second party of the Ukrainian Parliament after his Servant of the People party. He is also placing on trial for treason former President Poroshenko, who was suspicious of everyone except for those who got along with the Russians or their friends. The mayor of Kiev, the popular former world boxing champion Vitaly Klitchko, has already been subjected to several searches and seizures. In short, Zelensky seems to want to make a clean sweep of anyone who is not aligned with his politics” (here).

    This full declaration is to be found here:https://www.marcotosatti.com/2022/03/07/declaration-of-msgr-carlo-maria-vigano-on-the-russia-ukraine-crisis/

    It’s long and sometimes tedious, but the level of detail is amazing. It contains progressive and arch conservative admonitions all in one. Don’t read it for entertainment.

  16. john Merryman

    What I will be interested in, is how this plays out in the coming US midterms?

    The Dems are certainly 110% into owning the Russians/Putin, do the Repubs try out warmonger them, or go nativist, after a taste of $8 gas?
    Given it looks very likely the Repubs will win both House and Senate, the first item on the docket will be impeachment, so it would seem Hunter will be front and center. Which would confuse the narrative, if they’d gone full warmonger.
    What will the markets do? I suspect that will be the deciding factor. It might be politics all the way down, but it’s economics all the way up.
    In which case, Ukraine gets shoved down the memory hole, after covid.

    1. Arizona Slim

      I think that high gas prices are going to be the #1 issue. No other issue will come close.

  17. flora

    Thanks for this post.

    ( The neocons always find ‘their man’, for example Ahmed Chalabi. ‘Their man’ is never good for the country the neocons fixate on.)

  18. The Rev Kev

    Kolomoysky first came up on my radar just after the Maidan back in 2014. I suppose to keep his financial position going, he funded the Azov battalion in the early days in their first fights with the Donbass along with a lot of other dodgy units. He had his own bank – the Privatbank – and when the US/EU sent over billions to the Ukraine, a lot of it went into his bank never to re-emerge again. Well, not in the Ukraine that is. And that is just the first things that come to mind off the top of my head. I’ll leave his Wikipedia entry for yet more details and after a quick scan, he is worse than I remembered-


  19. Dave in Austin

    The Gonzalo Lira video is the funniest American video to come out of this war. He reminds me of Trump; blunt, crude, profane, unsophisticated, a non-stop talker… and sometimes right. The whole thing is worth watching but this guy really could use an editor. Rarely do I hear someone mouth both left wing and right wing conspiracies in the same sentence, but he pulls it off.

    “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

    War makes strange bedfellows and the people who rise to the top are often crude and driven. So the Ukrainian nationalists from WWII sided with the Germans and often hated the Jews. When WWII was over the US picked them up. Then when the Soviet Union broke up they were often called patriots and the new government did an about-face on the WWII Nazi Bandara crowd. And just like young leftists got swept up into the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War, young rightist from all over Europe volunteered to fight with the Germans against “Godless Communism” in WWII.

    Oddly enough it was the volunteers, the outsiders, who gave us the great first-person war books in both cases. The Britisher Orwell gave us “Homage to Catalonia” from Spain; the Frenchman Sagar’s book, “the Forgotten Soldier”, gave us the worms’-eye view of the German Army on the Eastern Front in Russia; a Dutch artist whose name I can’t remember gave us “Like a Lamb to the Slaughter,” about the last winter retreat along the Baltic in 1945- Gulliver with a panzerfaust.

    And German books? Everyone knows Gunther Grass’s great anti-war book “the Tin Drum”. But only after the author died did people put two-and-two together; he was a teenage, gay, Nazi; a true believer who volunteered for the U Boat service out of hatred for the Americans’ bombing his town… and he was apparently saved from that fate by a sympathetic (and my guess, gay) officer who got him a safe billet.

    All Nazis don’t run death camps and happily kill Jews and all Communists don’t stave Ukrainians for entertainment them move on to running the Gulag. Gonzalo Lira really get to the crude, corrupt, blood-stained heart of what happened after 1991 in both Russia and the Ukraine; they all really do look like nightclub bouncers or, in Zalinskyy’s case, the warm-up act.

    1. jrkrideau

      The Gonzalo Lira video is the funniest American video to come out of this war.

      I think you just offended him. He is a Chilean living in Ukraine. And do not you forget it! I thought his metaphor about China in Columbia was brilliant. I have been looking for some example to explain NATO encroachment and his is brilliant.

      Unfortunately he makes my read on the Ukraine Gov’t much worse. I figured at most there were a few Nazis in the government but that overall, even if not totally democratic it was authoritarian, not Nazi. I may have been wrong.

      I followed his advice and went back to a photo of the first meeting. He is correct they are thugs. A poster I know had noticed the dress and suggest et that it was a calculated insult. It looks to me that they are just thugs that know no better. That explains the damned baseball cap.

      1. ks

        Yes, people should watch this because it’s fascinating, not because they think they’ll be yukking it up. Imagine living in a country run by Whitey Bulger.

  20. Joe Renter

    This is an important post and thank for clearing up so much in this fog of war. I am about 30 minutes into Gonzola Lira’s utube video. Wow, what a mess. The thuggery is 11 on the 10 scale. I would love to share all of this to my team blue friends, but everything has gone to deaf ears so far. God help us with the sheepeople.

  21. Sub-Boreal

    Thank you for this compilation, which we almost certainly wouldn’t find anywhere else.

    As a Canadian, who is grateful that our recent 15 minutes (+/-) have come and gone, the Ukrainian mess presents some interesting complexities. The 2nd largest Ukrainian diaspora lives here, and it is particularly visible in some areas, such as the Prairies. In my case, the maternal grandparents came over just before WWI, and if not clairvoyant, they certainly had excellent luck in choosing a good century not to be in the old country. I am most grateful for this too.

    But the ethnic tie is not something that means a lot to me, and certainly not to the point of feeling that I have a dog in this fight. Just from basic daily filter-feeding of news & tweets, I’m already feeling very close to the point that I reached more gradually with other long-running, insoluble ethno-political squabbles.

    Everyone’s tolerance varies, but I recall that about 50 years ago, I just decided to stop reading all news about Ireland. It wasn’t getting any better, and I had no stake in the dispute, so I just stopped reading all news stories about it until at some point I heard about the Accords some decades later. I spared myself many megabytes of reading about a situation that was chronically insoluble, until, somehow, it became more soluble.

    I reached a similar point with the Middle East also in the ’70s, and just stopped reading. The turning point for me was a conversation that I had with a grad school classmate, a Palestinian fellow who’d grown up in exile in the Gulf states. One day I asked him how long the disputes would continue between his people and the Israelis. He looked thoughtful, and then after a brief reflection, said, “We’ve been fighting with the Jews for 5000 years. So it may take another 5000 years.”

    It wasn’t long after that conversation that I just stopped reading almost all ME coverage. My brother, who I thank for introducing me to NC, learned long ago that this was a pretty absolute rule with me.

    Am I cowardly or just lazy? Perhaps. But I don’t apologize for taking what seemed to a necessary step to preserve mental well-being, and free up attention for the things that I could influence.

    So although I am getting pretty close to making Ukraine an honorary member of the Middle East, I do appreciate the effort that it took to prepare this dossier.

    1. jrkrideau

      @ Sub-Boreal

      You might be interested to know that Christa Freeland’s maternal grandfather was a Nazi collaborator.

      1. Yves Smith

        I would call collaborator generous if technically accurate.

        Her grandfather was installed as the editor (in chief, I believe) of the Krakow paper, which had been stolen from its Jewish owners. He was well paid. Ran relentless pro-Nazi propaganda.

  22. skippy

    Lambert since were on the topic of follow the money ….

    David Petraeus – ex — CIA chief, new media mogul in Eastern Europe. The complete investigation

    10 avril 2018
    This investigation was conducted in the Balkans in the last quarter of 2017, exclusively for the Observatory of Journalism. It was funded by our readers.

    The dazzling career of David Petraeus, in turn — from Commander-in-chief of International Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, to director of the CIA, to leader of the financial giant KKR and a media magnate — embodies a new form of military-security-financial-media power.


    Funny how this keeps happening …

  23. kriptid

    Anyone with an interest in exploring Zelenskyy and his campaign finances should go here.

    This is written from what I have gathered using Google Translate, so if someone can read Ukrainian, please correct me if I’ve made any mistakes in transcribing these details from the original Chesno report.


    The financial statements from the Servant of the People indicate that the party collected 226 million hryvnias (~$8 million USD) in donations while Zelenskyy and his associates’ election accounts collected 200 million hryvnias (~$7 million USD).

    These numbers themselves seem relatively unremarkable, but the sources and types of donations are much more interesting.

    Chesno reported that from September 2018 to September 2019 only 94 people donated to Servant of the People. Of the 94 people, most of these were entrepreneurs or sole proprietors. Most of the donations came from Kyiv, followed by donations from Odessa and Dnipro.

    Chesno also found that 44 legal entities donated to the Servant of the People and Zelenskyy, with 34 of these entities donating 3 million hryvnias ($105,000 USD), which is just under the 3.3 million hryvnia ($120,000) limit placed on donations. The majority of these donations came from either Kyiv or Odessa.

    More than 99% of all donations were more than 100,000 hryvnias ($3,500 USD); only two donations of less than 10,000 hryvnias ($350) were received in this time period.

    To contextualize these figures, the minimum wage in Ukraine is 6,000 hryvnias per month ($220 USD) and the median salary in Ukraine is around 21,000 hryvnias ($775 USD).

    This means that the majority of donations received by Zelenskyy and Servant of the People were more than what most Ukrainians make over five or six months of full-time work.

    Chesno also found that some of the 94 personal donations came from questionable sources. Chesno interviewed Tetyana Staneva, who lives in a village in Odessa and has no business registered in her name. She donated 1.5 million hryvnias ($52,000 USD) to the Servant of the People party, telling Chesno, “It’s not just my money, I just sent it. This is a group of like-minded people, we did it together.” It should be noted that this is against Ukrainian law, which says that individual citizen must make financial contributions to political groups personally, and not as a collective.

    Investigators identified one of the 44 entities that donated as Yaroslava Reklama, LLC, registered to a 22-year old cook named Yaroslav Kuzka who works at one of Kyiv’s restaurants. Yaroslava Reklama LLC, transferred the maximum donation of 3.3 million hryvnias ($120,000 USD) to Servant of the People. Upon investigating the address to which Yaroslava Reklama LLC was registered, journalists found that tenants in the area had never heard of the company.

    Another company, Prom Import LLC, was registered to a woman named Juliana Kuku. She complained on her social media accounts that business was “not going well”, but at roughly the same time, made a 500,000 hryvnia ($16,000 USD) donation to Servant of the People.

    Chesno also found that of the 44 entities that donated to Servant of the People, four of them changed their addresses within two days of one another in December 2018, leading investigators to conclude that many of the donors were likely linked.

    It is perhaps remarkable to consider that although only 94 persons and 44 legal entities donated to Servant of the People, that it grew to controlling 254 of 450 seats in the Verkhovna Rada despite not existing less than six months before.


    Also, a brief comment below on the connections between Kolomoisky and Zelenskyy, per the Pandora Papers:

    During the 2019 electoral campaign, Volodymyr Ariev, a political ally of Ukrainian presidential incumbent Petro Poroshenko, published a chart on Facebook which he claimed showed how Zelenskyy and his associates were connected to offshore firms belonging to Kolomoisky that resulted in $41 million in funds being funneled to Zelenskyy. Although no evidence was provided backing these claims at the time, at least ten of the companies shown by Ariev were proven to be real after the Pandora Papers were released more than two years later.

    Read more about this connection here.

  24. foucault

    After the failure of economic links with Ukrain and the western encouragement anti Russian uprisings (see Sen McCaine shaking hands with rar right Ukranians), Ukraine was split by both Russia and the US funding and arming extremist groups in their respective ‘areas of interest’.
    Ukraine looks like going the same way as Balkans Afghanistan and Syria, where extremism takes hold as the war is fed by billionares looking to increase their stakeholding

  25. Eclair

    Delicious stuff, Lambert! And, enlightening. Up to now, my impression of Zelensky has been formed solely from the photos of him posted on social media: the dark stubble, always a three-day crop, and the crumpled, military-issue, khaki tee shirts, giving one the impression that he has slept in them, seem too carefully crafted. But I have become cynical.

  26. Jack

    I appreciate the article. This website is one I can rely on to get away from the echo chamber. Thank you. Having read these type of articles, and the mainstream ones, I would like to come across rationale behind the invasion of Ukraine. Denazify Ukraine does not make sense. Protect Russians in Ukraine? Not sure. Nato? I don’t get this either if Putin is developing hypersonic weapons. On West’s side, surely we knew that Putin was going to bite and once he did he would not only double down but he would pummel Ukraine? Did the West goad him into this quagmire and if so, why? Was it because of Nordstream 2? Did it have anything to do with the dollar? How will weaponizing the dollar (reserve currency) play out, long term? Was Russia our real enemy? Was there no other way of handling this situation? Was it worth taking a chance of nuclear war or nuclear reactor going off? Meanwhile, China is sitting back, thinking about the future. Maybe China is contacting Brazil, India, Saudi Arabia and trying to form a Bitcoin reserve currency. I don’t know but it is beyond me to understand why this is taking place in Europe.

  27. Tomislav Ladika

    I wonder how much of the overall support for Azov or Bandera is because they are perceived as heroes who fought for Ukraine’s independence. In other words, could this be more about nationalism than fascism as a political ideology?

    I was born in Croatia and closely followed the situation there since the collapse of Yugoslavia. Obviously, the culture and history is different from Ukraine. But I do see some parallels. For example, promotion of the Croatian language and culture in the years leading up to the war. Also, a revival of symbolry from the Ustasa regime that led a nominally independent Croatian state during WW2.

    My strong sense is that during this time most Croatians were not motivated by a particularly strong political ideology, and certainly were not interested in establishing a fascist government or neo-Nazi state. However, there was a lot of support for Croatian nationalists—even those with an awful history of atrocities—out of a desire to achieve independence.

    1. jrkrideau

      I wonder how much of the overall support for Azov or Bandera is because they are perceived as heroes who fought for Ukraine’s independence. In other words, could this be more about nationalism than I wonder how much of the overall support for Azov or Bandera is because they are perceived as heroes who fought for Ukraine’s independence. In other words, could this be more about nationalism than fascism as a political ideology??

      I think it is a mix. For example where I live in Canada it is “Heros”. I personally see them as collaborators and war criminals but I do not think there is any doubt that they were dedicated Ukrainian nationalists. The new Azov type Nazis seem to be more into fascism as a political ideology though some may be in it for fun and profit.

      1. Anon

        Probably a lot like latent support for the confederacy in the US south… you might not want to burn crosses on lawns, but you still love the people who do. Family and all.

  28. Samuel Conner

    Something about the “movie about an unlikely candidate, actor becomes an actual candidate” has been itching the back of my memory;

    This story rhymes with what I think was a stunt in the late ’90s in New England.

    Lambert — do you remember Fred Tuttle?


    The thing that “itched” was that I recall a National Review Online (yes, I did read them long ago) item griping about what this did to the R chances of winning the general election for that office.

    Perhaps IK improved on “the plan”.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      I mentioned this the other day too. Tuttle, after starring in a fake comedy documentary as a politician, and then winning an actually Republican primary for US Senate, was then smart enough to drop out, endorse Patrick Leahy, and go back to his farm.

      As far as I know he was not sponsored by any oligarchs like Zelensky is. When Tuttle died, my brother-in-law took him to the hospital in an ambulance and I’m pretty sure there were no black limos and SUVs with darkened windows following along.

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