Amnesty International has released a report charging
Amnesty says different. According to the report, “Sudan: arms continuing to fuel serious human rights violations in Darfur,” states that in 2005 the
In my opinion, shipping arms to
A State which aids or assists another State in the commission of an internationally wrongful act by the latter is internationally responsible for doing so if:
(a) that State does so with knowledge of the circumstances of the internationally wrongful act; and
(b) the act would be internationally wrongful if committed by that State.
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By Sean — 4 years ago
Titushki is a new word from Ukrainians’ lexicon that the whole world is now learning. This is the name for strong, athletic young men hired for money to cause trouble at public gatherings, who start up fights, who carry out other illegal actions. They operate under police protection or with the police taking no action at all. In fact, this is a shadow army of mercenaries that pro-regime forces have created for use against the people of Ukraine.
The Symbol of Generation “T”
Vadim Titushko, an athlete from Belaia Tserkov’, bestowed his name on Ukrainian hired provocateurs. Fame arrived for him not in the ring, but during a public gathering, “Rise Up Ukraine!,” where Titushko beat up Channel Five TV reporter Ol’ha Snytsarchuk and her husband, the photographer Vlad Sodel’. The incident happened May 18, 2013, in front of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) administration building on Vladimir Street in Kiev.
“About 10 people in sports clothes attacked us. We took pictures of them beating up Freedom (Svoboda) Party members and they didn’t like it at all,” said the photographer. The titushki beat them until they bled. Ol’ha Snytsarchuk’s lip and arms were badly damaged – her attackers took her phone away. Sodel’ himself, while trying to defend his wife, received slight wounds.
According to the reporter, the police did not get involved in the incident, although journalists several times tried to get law enforcement to defend them. As a result of being badly beaten, Ol’ha Snytsarchuk was taken away in an ambulance – doctors found out she had received an internal concussion (zakrytaia cherepno-mozgovaia travma).
As far as journalists were able to tell, the head of Belaia Tserkov’s Young Regionals city organization, Vasilii Boiko, had been directing the young toughs.
In a photo made by Sodel’ during the attack, a man in a black shirt can be seen intently looking after his fellow residents’ aggressive acts.
A video recording of the incident showed that the police, who had been standing in front of the group of young men who attacked, did nothing to stop the assault on the journalists.
Scenes of Vadim Titushko’s crazed look during the attack circulated throughout the Ukrainian media; journalists started using the word “titushki” as a collective term for people with personalities like his.
In September 2013, Kiev’s Shevchenko District Court issued a sentence against Vadim Titushko and other participants – a peace agreement was made between the accused and the victims.
According to the decision reached, Titushko was sentenced to three years prison, with the sentence to be served two years after the ruling. Besides this, Titushko was to compensate the journalists financially – 11,000 hryvnias per victim.
Vadik “The Romanian,” as our “hero” is most commonly known in his native Belaia Tserkov’, surfaced again on the horizon as the Euromaidan movement started up. According to parliamentary deputy Oleg Liashko, Vadim Titushko on December 15, 2013, headed a column of hired hooligans at Obukhov’s anti-Maidan.
Titushko on Two Fronts
“What money! I do it for the ideas,” Vadim Titushko yelled, mixing his response with swearing, when his group tried to start up a fight with Svoboda Party activists and other demonstration participants in Kiev on May 18, 2013. Vadik “the Romanian” and about another dozen young toughs who took part in beating up demonstrators and journalists train in the “Budo” sports club, which is registered under the Belaia Tserkov’s district police station. When he is free from doing hired jobs, Titushko takes part in sports matches, and he dreams of making a professional athletic career.
An Army of Titushki
How many titushki are there in Ukraine? Probably those who organized this army of bandits for their pro-regime masters. There are alarming figures being circulated in the press: 20,000 and more. These young toughs’ main task is to stir up provocations against participants of legal mass protests and meetings so that these events wind up breaking the law. State law enforcement personnel eagerly seek out opposition activists among the titushki to de-legitimize both the protests and their leaders. Titushki also often perform the role of guarding hired events.
Over November and December 2013, titushki were assembled in columns in Kiev’s Mariinskii Park. Like a real army, these “soldiers” were fed, transported, and given orders in organized fashion.
Titushki in Mariinsk Park in Kiev
Explanations of where these swarms of titushki in Ukraine come from vary somewhat. Basically, they all concur that titushki are hired members of sport clubs, often semi-legal ones, and/or members of groups from the criminal world. Some suppose that Ultras and groups of soccer fans are among titushki, and that they are among the most aggressive of them. There are rumors that it was exactly these people who could have provoked the storming of Bankovyi Street on December 1. Opposition figures have claimed that members of law enforcement structures, making themselves look like ordinary civilians, have taken part in provocations against Euromaidan participants. Regarding this, one can conclude, based on how events have developed on the Maidan, that titushki indeed are connected with the police – or at least the police don’t get in the way of their activities.
How Much Do Titushki Cost?
Vitalii Iarema, Member of Parliament, head of the Parliamentary Investigation Commission, former head of Kiev’s GUVD (City Administraiton of Internal Affairs) (the city police organs – translator), Police Lieutenant General, was the first to estimate the approximate sum given out to titushki: “I even know the amount – they get from 200 to 500 hryvnias a day.” Former Party of Regions member Inna Boguslovskaia, citing witnesses she knew, confirmed the price range: “I have a witness. It’s my husband’s aide. He saw how these people lived in the Hotel ‘Kiev,’ and how they pay them 250 hryvnias each.” She is one of those who are convinced that groups of soccer fans are among the titushki. As the Euromaidan developed and grew strong over time, so did the number of titushki and the amount they were paid: several of these hirelings confessed on tape that they already have been receiving 300 to 500 hryvnias. For active participation – i.e., provoking conflicts and disorders – they get paid 1,000 hryvnias and up. According to rumors, the provocateurs who attacked the police on Bankovyi Street on December 1 could earn tens of thousands of hryvnias.
Titushki in the Service of Business
Titushki had been around long before 2013 and the Euromaidan. For years, they were assembled and used to deal with personal issues involving businesses. For example, they were used to support and frighten people during forceful takeovers of firms. A source from a large real estate firm told Gordonua.com that not a single takover happened without the involvement of paid titushki:
“There always was a group of men in sports clothes there to support us – older, more experienced than today’s titushki. They chased away crowds of people who weren’t pleased with what was going on, they broke down barriers, and they made use of any kind of force needed to support us.”
By the end of 2013, these scattered groups were turned into an organized army, and the situation started to resemble an attempt at taking over an entire country by force.
Titushki in the Supreme Rada
On December 3, 2013, during protests supporting Ukraine’s Eurointegration course, several groups of youths “with the typical look,” in civilian gear, were brought into Ukraine’s Supreme Rada, accompanied by police. These young men, estimated at 100 to 200 altogether, were brought in through four police barriers. When they tried to enter the parliament building, some of them had to show their identity cards. Their documents turned out to have been issued by the Crimean territorial command of Ukraine’s riot police. Arsenii Iatseniuk, leader of the Fatherland (Bat’kivshchyna) Party fraction in the Supreme Rada, claimed that Party of Regions deputies had brought into parliament two hundred young men who were supposed to provoke a fight, and he ordered them out of the building. Vladimir Rybak (Party of Regions), parliamentary speaker, claimed that he had given no orders to bring in so-called titushki, and he assured him that there were no interlopers in the building. A video has documented the police arranging titushki within the police cordon around the Supreme Rada’s walls.
An Incident in Dnepropetrovsk
The coordinator of the local Euromaidan in Dnepropetrovsk, Viktor Romanenko, during the November 26, 2013 attack on its tent city, recognized among the attack’s participants members of the Dnepropetrovsk Region’s Judo Federation, a federation headed by Party of Regions member Ivan Stupak. These were the very same athletes who attacked peaceful protests in the summer of 2013.
On the evening of November 26, the attackers severely beat up Eurointegration supporters present on the square and demolished the tents. Several demonstrators wound up in the hospital with injuries. The police had left the scene before the attack happened, and they returned after the attackers had managed to hide themselves.
Titushki versus the Euromaidan
Titushki participation in the Euromaidan has led to them becoming a “fourth” power (alongside the police, Berkut special forces, and riot police) which the regime has used to oppose and sabotage peaceful protests. Eurotitushki have been mobilized in such large numbers that independent media have unanimously referred to an “army of titushki.” Besides engaging in provocations against participants in protests supporting Eurointegration, such hired men have been involved in storming and breaking down barricades, blocking events and institutions, and other shameful actions at the beck and call of Ukraine’s law enforcement forces, which have discredited themselves.
Titushki under Police Protection
It is an understatement that the police does not stop the actions of titushki. During the Euromaidan demonstrations, journalists and other citizens have confirmed the police using titushki in their operations against protestors assembled, and even protect and keep suspicious young toughs behind their formations. Besides provoking and frightening the population, the authorities have made use of the titushki as a workforce. Groups of young men in sports clothes, like body collectors, scoured around tents and rummaged through things protestors had left behind after their barricades had been stormed. The task of these titushki was to break up protestors’ camps quickly. These guys were not particularly polite, and as witnesses said, they didn’t allow them the chance to grab something from the things they had left behind during the turmoil.
During the attempt to storm the Maidan on December 11, a group of young men in sports clothes went through a police cordon that had surrounded the first Euromaidan activists’ barricade taken down. When asked by a Gordunua.com journalist what right did they have to allow them through the police cordon, one of the policemen said, “They work for the police.”
We managed to get the impression that these police assistants were dressed up in the orange vests of municipal service workers (“three Adidas stripes” pants and tennis shoes could still be seen under them) and that they were sent out to take apart the remains of barricades. Earlier, journalists from Public TV (Hromads’ke TV) filmed similar scenes after the storming of a protestors’ blockpost on Grushevskii Street.
How to Recognize a Titushka
As a rule, they are athletes who are involved in martial arts. They are lean and well-built. They are ready to inflict bodily harm on protestors. They appear as provocateurs who aim to provoke people against the police. During these scuffles, the police arrest protestors but not the ones who started the conflicts. To counter titushki “when in operation,” people are advised to record everything on video during the provocation, photograph it, and go to the police. Titushki fear publicity. Usually they wear hoods and hide their faces. Thus, they have to be as closely identified as possible. After the first incident with titushki involved, during the storming of Bankovyi Street on December 1, Euromaidan activists began circulating leaflets with instructions on how to recognize them and what to do if they take action against people.
Titushki Talk and Show Themselves
All attempts to enter into contact with groups of young athletes at best ends in failure – guys refuse to talk, or they openly “snub” journalists. But there are those who are not afraid to brag about how much they have earned or share some details on the daily life of the average Ukrainian titushka.
The Art of Being a Titushka
The characteristic look and style of titushki has made them into an object of pop art: graffiti of a guy in sports clothes, with the face of Viktor Yanukovych, squatting, decorated the TsNIL stop in the town of Slaviansk after the scandal with Vadim Titushko.
The trademark clothing of titushki – sports clothes and tennis shoes. Their favorite brand – Adidas. Their typical look – athletic young men with hoods who hide their faces with handkerchiefs or scarfs during “operations.” Titushki who cannot afford Adidas clothing are usually compared to the “gopniki,” poor urban youth close to the criminal world. “Woe be to the gopnik who does not dream of becoming a titushka,” is one joke going around Ukraine. These latter youth dress more simply, with clothing lacking brands. Vadim Titushko got offended when he was called a gopnik, and not for nothing: the black Adidas costume that became the symbol of titushki is expensive and beautiful, in contrast to the cheap clothing of gopniks who have been called upon to fight the Euromaidan.
The word “titushki” has resounded throughout the world. The press in Europe makes wide use of it, moreover because “titushka” sounds as familiar to foreigners as the famous Russian word “babushka.”
Radio Liberty prepared an entire glossary of terms connected with Ukrainian realities for English speakers. It has, for instance, the word “zek” and an explanation for the phrase, “If you’re not jumping, you’re a Moskal.” Titushki have a leading place in it: “burly guys dressed in sports gear who act as agents provocateurs.” (Photo)
iTitushki are people with the psychology of titushki, but with more developed intellect and knowledge of computers. iTitushki “beat up” (mochat) especially active bloggers and figures on the Internet, and they also provoke scandals and technical problems in comments on web pages of popular publications and Internet media, often ones belonging to the opposition.
Selling Out One’s Conscience
Broad masses of people have joined the army of titushki – hired students, paid demonstrators. They don’t beat up faces of opponents, they don’t act like hooligans (though they might get drunk), but they hold up flags with hostility, earning their 200-300 hryvnias for participating in meetings supporting Party of Regions.
A show demonstration for the regime, scheduled for December 14 and 15, which used up administrative resources, including free trips to Kyiv, where tens of thousands of paid demonstrators were shipped in, hid one of the greatest problems facing Ukraine. In a modern European country, practically led to financial default, where the population has become impoverished and has partly faced degradation, a huge slave labor market is operating, one where slaves are ready to sell themselves for kopecks to the local masters of their lives.Post Views: 496
By Sean — 2 years ago
Guest: James Casteel on Russia in the German Global Imaginary: Imperial Visions and Utopian Desires, 1905-1941.
By Sean — 4 years ago
by Uilleam Blacker
On Wednesday, February 19, following the worst violence so far of the Ukrainian protests, BBC Radio 4’s Today program, probably the leading radio news show in the UK, reported on Ukraine. The program’s correspondent Daniel Sandford warned of the danger of a bloody civil war and of the splitting of the country. On February 20, the program spoke of half of Ukraine that ‘feels more Russian’ and half that ‘feels more European’. On Wednesday, Today presenter Mishal Husain asked Robert Brinkley, former UK ambassador to Ukraine and Russia, about the prospect of war and a split, saying that after all, ‘half the country speaks Russian’. Recognizing the risk of further unrest, Brinkley nevertheless cautioned that talk of a split was exaggerated. The country’s supposed East-West split is not clean cut, he said, neither are its ethnic or linguistic divisions. Sadly, Brinkley’s differentiated understanding of Ukraine is sorely lacking in wider Western commentary on Ukraine.
Talk of sharp divisions is not limited to journalists, but is also frequently heard from specialized commentators, for whom identifying Ukraine’s ‘deep divide’ seems to the first marker of expertise on the country. Stephen Cohen, emeritus professor at Princeton and New York universities, commented thus in The Nation:
But every informed observer knows—from Ukraine’s history, geography, languages, religions, culture, recent politics and opinion surveys—that the country is deeply divided as to whether it should join Europe or remain close politically and economically to Russia. There is not one Ukraine or one “Ukrainian people” but at least two, generally situated in its Western and Eastern regions.
A similar message came from two other North American academics, Lucan Way and Keith Darden, in their blog for the Washington Post (albeit presenting a far more nuanced view than Cohen):
We should be particularly wary when “the people” referred to are the people of Ukraine. If 20 years of scholarship and surveys teach us one thing, it is that Ukraine is a country that is deeply divided on virtually every issue pertaining to relations with Russia or the West, with very deep historic divisions that continue to bear on contemporary politics.
This idea of a fatally divided state that can barely hold itself together because of political, linguistic, cultural and other differences is repeated so often that it has become a commonplace, and is widely reproduced in less specialized media coverage, as on the BBC.
Yet the BBC’s ‘received wisdom’ about Ukraine, and the statements made by Way, Darden and Cohen demand some scrutiny. Why should we be extra-careful when talking about the ‘Ukrainian people’? Why the quotation marks? Politicians and commentators the world over talk about the people of their countries and what it wants. No-one corrects them by pointing out that in fact the peoples they refer to are internally differentiated. Why is it necessary to establish overwhelming consensus in Ukraine in order to justify talking about the Ukrainian people?
Regional diversity is seen as the geographical basis for warnings of divisions, splits and wars. Certainly, strong regional political differences, based in historical, ethnic and/or cultural differences, can create fault lines within states: Northern Ireland is a case in point, separated from the Republic of Ireland and having autonomous status within the UK. Scotland is about to vote to separate from the rest of the UK. If one wants to talk about deep regional differences, the UK is a much more dramatic case than Ukraine. Ukraine has no strong separatist movements. There are no political parties who include cession of any part of the country in their programmes. There are no problems with separatist terrorist organizations.
Crimea, Ukraine’s most ethnically Russian region and an important site of Russian strategic interest, is the only place where some degree of separatism is really noticeable. The region, a small part of Ukraine with a population of around 2 million, has an identity powerfully distinct from the rest of the country, and enjoys a high level of autonomy. Rumblings are often heard about the prospect of ceding to Russia, but this has never really been seriously entertained, and voters overwhelmingly support Yanukovych’s party, which wants Crimea as part of Ukraine. Any potential conflict in Crimea is likely to be caused by Russian-Ukrainian geopolitical relations, potentially similar to the conflict between Georgia and Russia in South Ossetia in 2008, but neither side is likely to risk this scenario. Ethnic tensions or separatism on the ground are not strong enough to spark major unrest.
Compared to the UK, then, with Scotland and Northern Ireland, or Spain, with the Basques and Catalans, where threats of separatism are very real, Ukraine’s territorial integrity seems to be fairly safe. Nevertheless, Western observers see supposed regional splits as deeply threatening to Ukraine’s future as a state. At the same time, even the immanent prospect of the separation of Scotland from the UK and the continued terrorist activity in Northern Ireland, while of course causes for concern for many, inspire neither domestic or foreign observers to create a doom-laden discourse of political impossibility around the future of the UK.
Division is often drawn along linguistic lines – as the question posed by the BBC’s news presenter demonstrates. ‘After all, half the country speaks Russian, doesn’t it?’ Well, not exactly. In the country as a whole, the Ukrainian language dominates as the stated native language, though research suggests that actual language use brings Ukrainian and Russian closer. There are certainly regional differences – the East is generally more Russophone – but the geographical spread of the two languages is actually quite complex. Many people speak both, or mixtures of the two. It is often hard for an individual, even in the east, to define whether they are a Russian speaker or a Ukrainian speaker, never mind for an entire region. Anyone following the protests online will have noticed a robust mixture of Ukrainian and Russian voices in the Maidan camp.
But accepting that different languages are used across the country, with regional variation, is there any link between this and potential civil war and state collapse? One thing that is important to remember here is that in Ukraine (as in many other countries) language doesn’t mark ethnicity. Only about one-sixth of the population is ethnically Russian (and here it’s important to note that making any conclusions about Russians’ political views based on ethnicity would be hasty). There are more ethnically Ukrainian Russian speakers than there are Russian ones. Ukraine is not Yugoslavia (an analogy that is often cited) – over 80 percent of its inhabitants share the same national identity, and there is no history of ethnic conflict between the inhabitants of present day Ukraine.
The Russian language is a mainstay of life in Ukraine, and can be heard in any region. Most Ukrainians consume Russian media, watch Russian movies, read Russian literature or listen to Russian music to some degree, and in this the west of the country is actually no exception. But there is little difference between this language-based affinity and that found among Irish people for British culture, or among Brits for American culture. These affinities may speak to certain overlaps in identity, attitudes, historical experience, but they are not omens of any future political union.
Linguistic diversity in Ukraine is much less of a ‘problem’ than some outsiders seem to think: in everyday life, one might meet some resistance for speaking Ukrainian in Odessa or Russian in L’viv, but most people pay little attention. Ukrainians often hold conversations across two languages without really noticing. Surveys from the early days of Yanukovych’s rule have suggested that the ‘language question’, so inflated by politicians around election time, is actually of little concern to ordinary people, worrying only around 5 percent of the population.
And yet again, Western observers often pick up on these differences as evidence of a flawed society that is heading for catastrophe, despite the fact that linguistic diversity is in fact the norm in many countries, and is something that is openly promoted by the EU as desirable and important.
In both articles mentioned above, and in numerous others, observers point out that support for the EU is another point that splits Ukraine. It is true that support is not uniform across the country, and there is no clear majority support for the EU: Way and Darden cite a survey that shows that 43 percent supports EU membership, and 32 percent membership of the Customs Union (the survey doesn’t ask about the actual proposition of the EU trade agreement that was rejected by Yanukovych; it also suggests that of those willing to actually vote in potential referenda, 58 percent would favour the EU and 42 the Customs Union). But should the reluctance of a significant proportion of the country’s population to commit to supporting EU integration be seen as yet another fatal divide in the country? The situation in fact makes Ukraine typically European: Euroscepticism has become very strong in many European states. The UK may well hold a referendum on its membership. Polls suggest that support for EU membership in the UK is significantly lower than it is in Ukraine (only around 30 percent support for membership according to 2012 polls). Yet while this is fairly standard for some actual EU members, in Ukraine, where disapproval of the EU is lower and enthusiasm certainly more visible, division on the issue is seen as an insurmountable problem for closer ties with Europe.
All of this smacks of the most condescending kind of Western double standards. While political, linguistic, and cultural diversity seem to be desirable traits, signs of ‘normal’, tolerant, democratic European societies, in the Ukrainian case these traits are seen as signs of deeply threatening divisions in society. What’s okay for the rich nations of the West – regional, cultural, linguistic diversity that is reflected in a varied political landscape – is not okay for poor, chaotic Ukraine. The present unrest is seen as proof of this.
Yet it should be obvious to any observer that the unrest in Ukraine is not a result of any kind of ethnic, regional, linguistic or other split, nor does it foresee any territorial split or civil war: it is the result of the disastrous rule of a corrupt and brutal government that represents the interests of small elite that is determined to hang on to its wealth and power at any cost. Any future violence will not be between different ethnic, regional or linguistic groups: it will be between the state and its opponents. That opposition may be stronger in some parts of the country than in others, but those who are less willing to protest are unlikely to take arms against Maidan supporters. No-one is willing to fight for Yanukovych, other than the thugs he pays to do so.
One wonders what the ideal scenario would be for Ukraine, according to those who lament its lack of unity. Putin managed to achieve an impressive level of political unity and stability in the country for much of his time in power (with some notable exceptions to the rule, such as the bloody secessionist war in Chechnia). Is this kind of unity a desirable scenario for Ukraine? Perhaps it’s time to recognize that Ukraine’s perceived divisions are in fact simply typical signs of diversity; they are not a liability, but a sign of cultural richness, and can, if harnessed and embraced, provide the foundations for the emergence of a vibrant and differentiated democracy.
Uilleam Blacker is Postdoctoral Fellow, St Antony’s College, Oxford
Image: Washington PostPost Views: 310