HAMMERNEWS- Michael Hammerschlag

Current Political Commentary by journalist Michael Hammerschlag; Thoughts on foreign policy, Republican outrages, liberal strategies, science by 8 year correspondent in Russia/Ukraine over 22 years and longtime commentator; Website: http://HAMMERNEWS.com

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

REVOLT IN UKRAINE: UPRISING DEFEATS YANUKOVICH KLEPTOCRACY

UPDATED April 18 10am  CRIMEA INVASION!   HAMMERNEWS.com

WH PETITION: GET (Petition toTURKEY TO CLOSE THE BOSPHORUS TO WARSHIPS UNTIL RUSSIA WITHDRAWS ALL INVASION FORCES FROM CRIMEA          SEPARATISTS/RUSSIANS TAKE OVER GOV, POLICE, SBU, BLDGS in 9 cities DONETSK +  REGION, LUGANSK;  4 DEAD IN SLOVYANSK

IMPERIAL STRETCH : Putin's Crimean Invasion

A Bridge Too Far  - Yahoo  New With his reckless invasion Putin has unleashed titanic forces that may sweep him from power in 4-5 years: inspiration to 6 separatist regions of Russia, economic devastation from sanctions, Euro resource diversification, + capital flight; reinvigorated NATO + EU, EU pushed into Ukraine's arms, EUAA signed, $36 billion of loans + grants; outraged Russian liberals, desperate oligarchs, world economy closed    LOCAL (updated 4/18)

SPECTACULAR VIOLENT KIEV PROTESTS VIDEO- Hrushevskogo St., New Jan 19, 2014 11:30pm-12:30am  YOUTUBE Video 10:24m- by Michael Hammerschlag with STANDUP NEWS REPORT@ 5:00 min in front of burning Dynamo ticket office --- 6 police blockading buses and Dynamo ticket office burned; 1 thousand Molotov cocktails thrown, many thousand paving stones ripped out and thrown; 6 hours of full battle with riot police- photo below
 
Violent protester hurling paving stone at police behind torched police bus barricade 11:46pm Jan 19, Hrushevskogo St., Kiev Michael Hammerschlag©2014
                                  Did big article
on the genesis of this protest here, where I predicted Yanukovich wouldn't sign EU deal- for 3 weeks all signs were bad- apparently he was just playing Russia, EU, and his downtrodden people the whole time.

COUNTDOWN: LAST CHANCE FOR UKRAINE - Yahoo News

 KIEV:  Ukraine at crossroads between East and West: join the Russian Eurasian Customs Union or sign the EU Association Agreement  and Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) in Lithuania. Incredibly, after 15 years of negotiation, Pres. Yanukovich scotched the deal a week before.
LOCAL (w pics)

MIKE ON NPR's On Point Nat. Radio Talk Show on INVASION @ 29:10`min point, 3:10 min Mar 4   pic below- Klitschko MH©2014
MIKE QUESTIONS VITALY KLITSCHKO (Zippy-download; YouTube VIDEO) about  whether Ukr. would find loyal militsia-police to replace traitorous ones to stop Russian"tourist' rioters; Totally ducks question . Crisis Media Video 18:45-21:00 (Ukr only)   CLOSE BOSPHORUS? (YTvid)
 AND Fmr Const. Court Judge Kozubra (cu Video)- if the Const. Court and other Judiciary was purged of the Yanukovich hacks; he said most judges should be replaced- Mar 17
MIKE QUESTIONS FMR JUSTICE MIN LUTSENKO - (AUDIO-mp3) 2 1/2 year political prisoner Yury answers "Are you bitter". He read 300 books inc. Buddhist bible. Sound Activation lost half recording. Vasyl got exc. video, but deleted it by mistake Mar 18 pic below- Lutsenko MH©2014
MIKE QUESTIONS PUTIN ADVISOR ANDREI ILLARIANOV (YouTube VIDEO)`on whether US Battle Group in the Black Sea would have stopped Putin's Invasion Mar 14th
+ FORMR DEFENSE MIN. GRYTSENKO -  (VIDEO) @7:15- 14:40min About whether Ukr. would find loyal militsia-police and send to East to control border and stop Russian"tourist' rioters.who killed people in Donetsk. Said nobody will help Ukr if it doesn't help itself  pic above rt. MH
MIKE QUESTIONS  SVOBODA  LEADER TYAHNIBOK  - (MP4 VIDEO) Messed up question- meant to say  "Emergency War President" Of course "acting Pres". is Turchynov, though he hasn't acted like one in rallying people against Russian threat   pic -MH
MIKE QUESTIONS LIKELY KIEV MAYOR + DEPUTY LESYA OROBYETS (YouTube-VIDEO)- Maidan Crisis Press Cent- Mar 8- 65mb mp4
pic- Vasyl Ponomariov
+ BRIT AMB. SIMON SMITH, Food to Police Org Inga V, Miss Ukraine AUDIOMike's Questions: Orobyets- Police Lustration 0, Oligarch Governors 3.03; Smith- when sanctions, US ships to Black Sea -4.42, reason Yush's attempt to evict BSF 9.05, Food to Police Inga-9.28 min
Crimean Tatar Reg. Admin Head Ili Umarov (aud) 1:27min  Crimea Tatars plan to boycott vote, but polls have only 42% for joining Russian; Asked why don't they ALL vote, cause without their 13%, Russians sure to win - Mar 10
MIKE QUESTIONS Fmr Foreign Min. BORYS TARASYUK (vid-14:20-23:30)- if ensuring BSF tenancy could've forestalled Soldier about Russian Attack- 8:44;  Sailors Union Pres. Volodomir Voloshyn- 9:55 could Ukr ships have escaped (aud-mp3) 12min - Mar 24
Invasion;  CLOSE THE BOSPHORUS-21:23Vid, 6:45m Aud; ( lf)
MIKE QUESTIONS FOREIGN MIN. AND. DESHCHYTSIA  (YT-@24:50 - 28:00min)   Will UN punish Russia Mar 29 YT CU (Mike) question only AND
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT + TRADE MIN. PAVLO SHEREMYETA  (YT 34:25 - 37:46) How hryvna's collapse good + bad what's best rate  (PIC below lf) and   
DEP. DEFENSE MIN. LEONID POLYAKOV (YT-SB cu) Military penetrated top to bottom by Russian agents- U rooting them out?
 AUDIO (Sherameta-exchange rate, Gas LNG port 3:24, Polyakova- Rus Agents 4:10, in SBU 8:46)
MIKE QUESTIONS Dep Foreign Minister Danylo LUBKIVSKY  VIDEO (rt) April 14  AUDIO mp3 19m (Willing to kill? - 0:36 Aud;  11:52-Video ;  Sympathetic Russian diplomatsAud 2:16 ;  Video - 29:00-33:53 )   AND
Heslth Minister OLEG MUSIY  VIDEO (Aud-7:07min Can't Minister fire people) + Deputy + Head of Tatar Mejlis MUSTAFA CHEMELIEV  TEXT (2nd para),  VIDEO (Attacks on Tatars 0:52, Close Bosphorus 27:00) (Aud- 11:00 min Attacks on Tatars, 15:07- Close the BOSPHORUS) - April 17

MAIDAN VICTORY EXPLAINED  (YouTube) exc- 2/22 midnight by Michael Hammerschlag w Fireworks + INFO TITLES on Kreshatuk by MAIDAN Post Office

VIDEO: MIKE RAPS ABOUT CRIMEAN INVASION Mar 1  9pm
        Brit Ukr Ambassador Simon Smith http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/44375635  12:52min Maidan 1 March P2 All pitiful quality
http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/44372201 37:22m Maidan 1 March
http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/44374231 12:32m   International Spilno
 

VIDEO (ustream live) Feb 9 4:12p - Mike Tours Maidan on 12th Sunday of Protests international-Spilno.tv - 19min
VIDEO:  UTUBE `HISTORIC VIDEO- Feb 9 4:55pm - Mike Tours Maidan Inter. Press Center- Trade Union- Interview w Foreign Euromaidan Sites 17 yo manager Sviat Urash- 16min NOW BURNED
VIDEO ustream) same as above  NOW BURNED
CNN IREPORT:  Feb 24  PICS of FLOWER COVERED MAIDAN- memorials to the dead-1am

Audio- Protester  Lyuba City Hall; Day of Takeovers + 400K rally  Dec1 - 21s mp3
EUROMAIDAN site (english) - latest news, bulletins, from the Revolt 

burning Dynamo ticket office Hrushevskogo Ul., Jan 19 23:59


APRIL 13 3am UDT New  EAST GOV.  BLDGS TAKEOVERS; PRAVY SECTOR SHOOTING; KLITSCHKO QUITS PRES. RACE for KIEV MAYOR, ENDORSES POROSHENKO, CRIMEAN INVASION!!!!, UKR KILLED, EAST LOYAL to CENTER, CARRIER BATTLE GROUP IN AEGEAN, RUSSIANS PULL BACK FROM BORDER, SEIZE ISTHMUS, AIRPORTS, PARLIAMENT+MINISTERS, BALACLAVA BASE,   YANU, Zakar, Pshonk FLEE to RUSSIA; NEW GOV PRESENTED TO MAIDAN WED, YANU REMOVED 328-0, TYMO SPEAKS IN KYIV; TURCHYNOV SPEAKER/ PRES., COM. KUBIV NEW CENTRAL BANKER, HALF POR + COMS DEFECT; KLYUYEV SHOT, 23 PRISONERS RELEASED, NEW OPPO Min INTERIOR, PROSECUTER; ADMIN + MYEZH OPPO's, MAY ELECTIONS! ; BLOODY THURSDAY  pic- Maidan w burned Trade Center MH©2014 Mar 22 19C!


APRIL 15 7am  
4 have been killed in Slovyansk by Russian commandos and pro-Russian terrorists- one a video of masked Green Men shooting a car that didn't stop (without any checkpoint); 2 were SBU officers- one an Alpha commando killed as he walked away after negotiations. Scum that shoots people in the back- that should motivate the security services to fight the real threat.

 Incredibly, after Reg. Gov admin buildings in Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkiv were invaded and occupied by Russian subversives; then cleared 3 times, they let them do it again on April 6th- now to stay. This was to be expected after the 3 month training film of EuroMaidan- they knew 2 days before Unity separatists were stockpiling tires. I asked Klitschko and former Defense Minister Hrytsenko March 15+17 if anybody had sent some loyal (Western) militsia and/Internal Ministry troops East to purge the Separatists and Russian loyalists among the local militsia, who stood by passively when a large crowd ransacked and destroyed a building housing a Pravy Sector office, or seal the borders against busloads of Russian “tourist”  infiltrators. Klitschko (dnld video) totally ducked the question; Grytsenko said he’d recommended doing that and mobilizing the military 2 weeks before, but nothing was done. In exactly the wrong signal, Yatseniuk crumbled on Friday, offering the region greater autonomy, as if that would stop the Russian subversion. Of course it was a spur to do more: on April 12 more takeovers of Donetsk area police + SBU stations by Russian “green men” armed with the new Kalashnikov 100’s occurred, liberating hundreds more weapons.
     - Miss Ukraine World
It seemed Kiev was getting the upper hand in the East- the extremist separatists had split apart and the Center was hunting some leaders down. Some 9000 Russian suspected provocateurs were denied entry at Ukraine's borders as the guards seemed to finally get their act together. Likewise the last ministers I questioned- foreign, dep. defense, and econ. trade and development spoke flawless English, seemed to have a good grasp of the problems and some solutions, and answered questions frankly. Obviously (as I said on NPR) it’s 10x easier to protect a building than dislodge violent occupants who’ve had many days to fortify the place- in Kharkiv, home of Int. Min. Avakov, the SBU cleared and arrested them in a lightning raid, but in Lugansk, the enemy invaders at the SBU got their hands on hundreds of guns inc. machine guns, and nothing was done in Donetsk. Any action needed to be taken in 1-2 days; now it’s likely to be a protracted mess. Only 1-2 thousand were involved in the takeovers, and now only 100-300 hundred congregate outside; of the occupiers that talk, they aren’t even local, they come from extremist Russian Unity groups in Mariupol and Kherson – undoubtedly recruited and paid by Moscow; they claim to not  have Russians among them, put to lie by a Russian TV report.  The US responded with a third wave of sanctions, too little- against Crimean officials.

But dissension has also smashed the Opposition with a fatal police raid on Pravy Sector’s notorious radical Olexander Myzechko, who had fought Russians in Chechnya, and starred in famous videos terrorizing Gov officials (the prosecutor deserved it, allegedly freeing a brutal rapist for a bribe). PS’s leader Yarosh, now a Pres. candidate and decked in a suit at a recent press conference, threatened Interior Minister Avakov (who replied in kind), and demanded his ouster.  After a Mar 31 Kreschatuk shooting of 3 by a Pravy Sector guy, inc. a deputy Mayor, police ringed their Dniepre Hotel HQ and eventually forced them to give up their weapons and leave.
EXCELLENT HQ VIDEO ENG MINIDOC SERIES from VICE TV

Mar 29 2am - In a stunning development, Klitschko withdrew from the Presidential race March 29, throwing his support behind chocolate/shipping billionaire Petro Poroshenko (who was significantly leading Pres. polls now), amazing since he wasn’t even a candidate and has barely existed at Euromaidan. He did however help Maidan enormously, and his victory would prevent the divisive populism of Tymoshenko. "I always said it should be the candidate who people support the most and who has the highest chance of winning. Petro Poroshenko is such a candidate,” said Klitschko. Entrusting the country to another oligarch may be the Ukrainian version of the Russian “strong leader” syndrome, ironically used to excuse Putin’s excesses. Sadly for Opposition unity, Klitschko is running for Kiev Mayor, already being contested by primo anti-corruption crusader + Rada Deputy Lesya Orobyets. "I will make Kyiv a truly European capital," promised Klitschko. But Orobyets, whose husband was in exile 2 1/2 years from Yanu persecution, would have gone after the corrupt bastards directly: "I have my list," she said, "of who stole how much, and I'm not forgetting anything." Tymoshenko, partially recovered from her political prisoner ordeal, has been aced out, but magnanimously spoken well of Poro and Klitschko, and promised to support them if they win. Hope they reward her with something suitable to her demagogic gifts of gab- maybe a Prosecutor's spot (which should make the Regioneers and half country sht themselves). KIEV GETTING UPPER HAND in EAST AS SEPARATISTS FEUD

Mar 25- Beautiful days 17-19C, finally for 5 days. On Mar 21, got the phone SMS that the EU AA was signed- finally the supposed Holy Grail after all the blood sweat and tears; but almost simultaneous w the Little Big Man signing Crimea's formal annexation, so deep pain and shame over that. I'm still angry Ukr didn't get their $ billion of Mig-29's (only 3 operational according to a Russian journo) or their capital ships out to the mainland (9:50min), even if they had to fight their way out.  These are necessary for Ukr's future defense, and frankly some Russians should have paid the ultimate penalty for this outrage. Russian journo said he'd never seen such well-trained elite soldiers. Yanuman, in appointing 5 Russians to top + security positions, inc. Azarov,  was deliberately trying to subvert Ukraine. Have a huge article about the Invasion and ramifications for Vlad, all bad, in fact I think he's unleashed tidal forces that will sweep him away in 5 years or so. Everything he was trying to accomplish: more security for the BSF, resistance to democratic Color revolutions like Maidan, greater respect in the West, more popularity.... he actually undermined... and the fallout of devastated economy and foreign opprobrium will come down for years.


Puta (see Spanish) does get to steal billions of $ of property and perhaps the incredibly valuable Black Sea gas/oil leases that would let Ukr break loose from the Russian gas chokehold. This is something the world should  weigh in immediately on, with some US ships sitting station on them until Putin agrees to not seek control. Andre Tech guy was telling me how Visa + MC have shut down 2 Russian banks now, and he gave some Russian journo cash who'd been thrown out of his hotel. Since 70-80% of Russians think this is neat, a little general pain and disruption is appropriate- with Putin's giant firework display last night, there should be some other explosions through their whole economy.. Biggest Ukr bank Privat has stopped operating in Crimea- leaving many people desperate for cash. Owned by Tymo supporter (now Dnepropetrovsk Gov) Kolomoisky, maybe he can figure out how to only shut off Russians, since they've shutdown his banks in Russia and Poro's chocolate factory. Ukrainians who don't become Russian citizens probably face escalating discrimination and bulllying to leave, but nobody is buying property in Krim (and if they leave it'll be stolen)- the pain  and dislocation of this Anschlutz will echo for years.

 MAR 19: Well, he thugs finally did it- killed a Ukrainian: a Russian self-defense fighter and Ukr "serviceman has been killed during an assault by Russian military on the Army photogrammetric information center in Simferopol"; 2 wounded.

Mar 17: Life continues bizarrely bifurcated in Kiev- on one hand, the stunning complete victory of Maidan is paying off- $15 bil from the EU (1 from US?), the EU AA signed within the month, the East swinging back to the center (fake Donetsk Governor Gubarov arrested, Kernes questioned); while at the same time, the Crimea seems lost forever, killing could erupt at the thuggish Russian Invasion at any moment, and peace is still not in sight.. The Russian puppet ex-criminal Crimean Gov (Aksyanov's party got 4%) and the Parliament, after voting 78 of 100 to join Russia, may have made a big mistake in holding a referendum on it- they could easily lose (poll says only 42% for), so the Ruskies will massively cheat, probably letting their invading troops and tourists vote, because losing would be catastrophic to Vlad. They so-called election on Mar 16 is a joke- the choice is "Join Russia now", or "Declare Independence" by reverting the slapped-down-then 1992 Crimean Constitution, there IS NO "NO" or "STAY THE SAME" OPTION !!!!!! Tatars (13%), the rulers for 300 years before the Russians, have stupidly ensured the Russia Option will win by demanding a boycott- I asked their leader why (Ili Umarov (aud)). Crimeans are justifiably terrified that their tourist economy (70% Ukr) will be devastated by the occupation and conflict. The Gov Admin buildings in Donetsk, Kharkiv, Lugansk are back in Central Gov. hands (no, Lugansk just attacked + occupied) and the public is turning against the Russian tourist tool demos. CrimRuskies attacked and took over a hospital + several more Ukr military bases. Along with the host of sanctions, encouragement of Russian's own separatists, decimation of Russia's economy, attention to Vlad's own ill-gained wealth (does he have any friends who aren't criminals?), this Invasion has the potential to fuel popular insurgency against the Ruskies and their quislings in Krim (as they call it)- terrorism against the occupiers (all part of new piece I'm finishing). I am quite pissed- thugs at the Crimean border kidnapped + beat a very nice girl I interviewed- Katya Butko. of AutoMaidan-- now 4 people beaten, tortured, arrested that I knew- and I think I know 5-6 of the heavenly hundred (as victims are called). She is OK, called her the 17th to find she was doing a press conf the next day- held for 3 days in Sevastopol. Fmr Defense Min. Grytsenko, showing amazing self-control, opened his press conf to say his son had been kidnapped that morning (beat him and kept him a week). These paramilitary scum from Russia, Serbia, Chechnya, etc are animals- they beat journalists, even Russian (inc a journo staying at my hotel), and are out of control. COMING: spectacular standup TV report of me in front of burning bldg (pic above) when guy runs by me and guns a Molotov. Finally digitized half my 4 hours of Protest video.

       A new poll March 3, showed that only a third of Donetsk region residents believe that they should be part of Russia- In Luhansk and Odessa lower still, at 24 percent..Other supposedly pro-Russian regions -- Zaporyhzhia, Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk -- have 16, 15 and 13 percent of supporters." In the now full-spectrum Russian attack, fiendish super-virus Stuxnet-like CyberSnake is infecting Gov computers throughout Ukraine, forged by Russia apparently.

 In a desperate move to consolidate power in threatened areas, the Oppo Gov appointed oligarchs Kolomoisky and Taruta to run Dnepropetrovsk and Donetsk regions, figuring their endless resources could pay for whatever muscle is needed to combat the Russian invaders (fake citizens that are fueling the protests). But is this why 100 people died, to appoint crooked oligarchs who will game the whole region for their advantage?  Kolomoisky, head of biggest bank Privat, has been linked to Most of the raider attacks, where 100 thugs with clubs and zip guns invade a company, beat up and throw out the employees, and take it over, armed with a decision of some corrupt judge that THEY are the owners. Even Putin said he had cheated Russian tycoon Abramov- Putin in another marathon press conference, actually displayed shockingly astute insights of the problems of Ukraine.Taruta is former director of the Industrial Union of Donbass trade group, since bought out by Russians. Lesya Orobyets, Rada Deputy and likely next Kiev Mayor, in an interview Mar 8, embarrassed, said that they were only "interim appointments" because of the pressures of the situation and would be changed relatively soon.

The latest polls for Ukr President have Petro Poroshenko ahead, followed by Klitschko, and Tymo- Poro is a Batkivshina Deputy, worth $1 bil, and owner of Roshen Chocolates, Ch. 5 TV, and Leninsky Kuznya shipyard.

A huge false tempest was created by a tapped released (by Russians in RT) conversation between Estonian and EU foreign ministers where he accuses Organizers of hiring snipers to shoot militia AND protesters based on conversations w doctor Olga Bolgomolets, and how he doesn't trust the new "dirty" Gov. based on his one day in Kiev talking to impossible to please Protesters (they did boo undistinguished Turchenov when the new Gov was displayed). First, the Russians are probably distorting and slanting this (though the Estonians confirmed it), second Slavs often confuse Subject + Object, so who is acting on whom is inverted, 3rd  this could simply be the flakiness of Olga, I think, to make that wild presumption that it was the Opposition, and an insane stretch by the Estonian to believe her. Westerners report things as fact here, when people must understand that most Ukrainians are wildly speculative, obsessed w conspiracies, and sometimes foolish- connecting dots to make nonsense constellations.

It is totally consistent that Yanu or Russian snipers would kill policeman or Berkut: how better to cause rage and motivate them to completely crush Maidan? She even says it was the same bullet, the same signature, which means since the real prof. sniper were ALL on Gov side, THEY did it just to sow rage among the cops and militsia. Or is she saying that the Opposition was slaughtering Protesters- it's idiotic, and she should be ashamed her deductive powers are so weak as to spread such vicious rumors.
There is plenty of evidence that Russians were directing/and/or participating w the snipers. Supposedly a PoR guy checked in a Russian military team into a room at the Ukraine Hotel. If there is guilt look there.

The SBU/FSB do these kind of monstrous provocations all the time- we just saw how Putin apparently wanted Ukrs to kill some Russians so he could escalate things: "Are they shooting?? Are you provoking them?." See my witnessing and photo/video of caught provocateur below.
                                                                       

Ukrainians watch presentation of new Gov Feb 26 8pm in Maidan - M.H.©2014
    PROTESTER TAKING AIM 11:30pm Feb 18 corner of Trade Union barricade Copyright 2014 MH --

Of course, some Protesters were shooting Berkut and militsia -  I thought with hunting rifles. But a friend explained that single shot Mosin sniper rifles were plentiful and cheap 2-3 years ago- only $100, and many bought them, "How else did they stop that massive attack on Institutskaya" Feb 18-19. Maybe 13 militsia were killed Feb 18-20 vs about 70-80 protesters, so the real killers and defenders were obvious.

Marc 5: Putin has ordered soldiers back to base at the Ukr border (wasn't done)- apparently it was all a feint designed to take attention OFF their Crimea takeover, which is now complete. Amazing that not one humiliated Ukr soldier has opened up on the invaders and the Gov has been so docile- it would be nice for Ukr honor that the Russians incur some costs for this outrage. But some Russian deaths are apparently wanted by Putin as a pretext for full Invasion, and Ukrs have been incredibly patient and stoic in avoiding them.  The lie machine is in overdrive as the Kremlin tries to justify this. The Invasion continues apace- Obama has expressed deep bookish concern and will punish the Russians (with sanctions). But the Budapest Agreement where Ukr foolishly gave up her nukes guaranteed her territorial integrity, US UK, and Russia are SWORN to do that, not rape  Ukraine!!! I always wondered esp w Ukraine when they would be sorry they did that- give up their Bomb. Ukraine has been procrastinating, pleading for moderation by their invader- Avakov should have predicted and plotted for this- even now he seems to be doing little in reacting. Time for a NEW Inter. Minister!!! Yatseniuk is also meandering, making impotent pleas and threatening  imaginary repercussions. Crimea may really be already lost- if Ukr wants to save the East, they should appoint Klitschko President and give him temporary emergency power- he can command the respect of many factions, inc those in the East. Ukr is hopelessly outmatched 25K Russian soldiers (+15-40K new flown in) to about 14KUkr in Crimea, with Russians much better trained and equipped, and far better at killing. Interestingly all Crimea water and electricity comes over the Isthmus from Ukr- they can cut them off, but that would punish Crimean Ukrs and Tatars AND maybe provoke the invasion of all of Ukraine!! Answering my and many prayers a big US carrier task force USVN George Bush + 17 ships + 3 subs has reached Greece after 4 days from Gibraltar (this link claims 3 boomers, which is baloney, so all is suspect- don't think boomers even travel with a task force- they hide solitarily in the wide deep blue). Don't know if a carrier can transit Bosporus, but they also claim (w video) that Russia is sending dozens of S400 anti-aircraft missiles to Crimea- maybe the most advanced such missiles in the world. 

In an almost cartoonishly bad turn, the new Admiral pointed to run the Ukr Navy there (after the last one was appointed to lead the planned martial law slaughter in Kiev by Yanu), Dennis Berezovsky, after being circled by gunmen, switched side to the Russians, and was appointed head of the Russian  Crimean Navy, and was personally urging his former comrades to surrender, countered by a loyal Ukr commander, who won the day. I was thinking it was a ploy, and he might send some loyal Ukr captain on a suicidal attack- well good luck visiting the mainland, where he's a wanted traitor. Russians gave the third deadline of 5am Mar 4 to surrender or be stormed, which passed uneventfully, like the first 2. Russians took over the Kerch Strait ferry terminal and landed troops there. Odessa Regional Admin was stormed by 500 people, and Donetsk RA also attacked. Russian troops and gear has been massing at the Eastern borders of Lugansk, Donetsk, Kharkiv, with tanks seen near Chernigiv (90 miles NE of Kiev)

 This is a long term result of Yushchenko's threats to boot out the Black Sea Fleet and flirtation with NATO- no doubt Vlad started considering it then. As a student who is ag expert and worked in Crimea explained, Russians only controlled Crimea for 200 years, before that it was Tatars/Ottoman Turks for 300-400 years, Genoans for 200, Greeks for 600- these historical claims to land are always murky and subjective. Russia probably won't annex it, but call it independent Crimea. All Russians aren't on board over this- this prof wrote a critical article and was instantly fired..

FEB 28 - 6am  Yanu has surfaced in Russia, claiming to be the legal President and doing a Press Conf on Friday 5pm in Rostov on Don, a useful fool for Putin's destabilization program, which also sponsored the armed takeover by 120 Russian Separatists of the Simferopol Crimean Parliament and Council of Ministers 4am Thurs (2 dead). Jeeze- it looks like the invasion is on: 6 trucks w 150 soldiers have surrounded Sevastopol Airport and Simferopol  Airport was also raided, looking for Ukr Airborne Forces. Before landing troops and supplied the FIRST STEP of any INVASION is secure the airport. It's the Abkhazia/Transdneister/Ossetia Russian-protection partition ploy. 2 big Russian landing ships- Kaliningrad + Minsk - of the Northern Fleet (Murmansk) sailed into the Black Sea Wed, obviously sent 3-7 days ago. This writer called it right a day ago. And the Russians are using the transparent idiocy of claiming Yanu is still the Prez, the defunct Feb 21 agreement is being violated, and of course, Russians are at risk by bandits in Crim. This is why Yanu appointed that Sevastopol Admiral Chief of Staff Feb 17- to control the planned treasonous insurrection from the inside.
  -Russian? troops at Simferopol
Previously Yanu had gone to ground w Andrei Klyuyev (who quit, + was shot in the leg) after Balaclava, the famous Crimean fiord village between cliffs I spent 10 days at (huge cave nuke sub pens, Genovese castle, 200M cliffs, and Battlesite)- probably hopped a yacht for  Russia, where Justice, Int. Min and Prosecutor have also already fled. The new GOV is ALL Batkivsshina and Svoboda, NO UDAR, a huge mistake, I think but Arseny can't resist handicapping Klitschko vs Tymo. Meanwhile the POR has stopped blubbering apologies (seems they were taken advantage of by an evil Family) and gone into the Opposition, where they will clog up most action, and a new Gov has to do many things FAST in this window of unlimited power, a weak caretaker Gov could be disastrous...

VIDEO OF INSTANT IMMOLATION OF APC

The separatists scum in Crimea, Kharkiv + Donestsk  should be immediately deposed- that is pretty clear treason- that's where the need for swift cauterizing action is most pressing. Even Eastern Ukrainians don't want to be part of Russia, or under their thumb- they want easy travel, trade, no visas; because they often have family there. America must stop it's waffling at outrageous Russian threats to Crimea.- a US Battle Group of ships in the Black Sea would emphasize the danger of "intervention" and be a valuable prophylactic measure. Otherwise the consequences of Russian separatist meddling could be catastrophic (inc to to Russia)! Ukraine firmly shut down a rump Russian Independence movement there in 2005 too, but Putin's rage at the collapse of his imperial reconstruction project makes this worse.

The West (EU, US, IMF) must step up and put it's money where it's mouth is- forget the strict IMF requirements for the moment and pop for $3 in the next week (Hrv dropped .63 hrv in one day 24th-25th!). This new government needs maximum support now- the hrv dropped to 11.20-11.80/$ today temporarily.  I ran into Batkivschina MP Maidan Commandante Stepan Kubiv, (the wizard who organized Maidan like a fine Swiss watch from the beginning) late Mon night in the new Press Center  on 28 Kreshatuk- he was warm and chatty, having just been made new Head of the Central Bank!! (Had questioned him before) He headed 2 banks, reportedly is quite competent, and certainly wired into the new power structures.

Feb 22 COMPLETE VICTORY MAIDAN VICTORY EXPLAINED  (YouTube) - 2/22 (see titles above) 1am Maidan quiet Dec 20 night 1-6am after the apocalyptic battles- the Samaritans tended incredibly stocked food tables- w cheesecake, yogurt, chocolet.  
Feb 21 (first) Yanu has agreed to early Dec ELECTIONS w EU reps, AGREEMENT Signed w OPPO, CONSTITUTION RESTORED. Opposition MAJORITY (239! of 450) in RADA passes miltsia stand-down bill + Frees TymoYanu tried to declare State of Emergency but nobody from the National Security and Defense Council would sign!

Feb 20 - 9 killed people laid out by Kozak Hotel of 50 that day, many unarmed protesters shot by snipers 

Feb 22: The Fri agreement supposed new elections aren't much change- only 3 months earlier than the next scheduled 2015 one- (23% earlier) than normal... and there is no question that they won't be good enough for the radical Protesters, who want Yanu OUT NOW!  but the Protesters are now on cruise control with their own agenda- their job is fight and attack- they take a day off, then attack; there are no plans or movement to disband EuroMaidan (they took over 6 more buildings by Mon, and many center businesses are closing for good. They have no real leader, authority, or boss. They don't want Tymo, or any old politician, what they will accept isn't clear.  Tymo was freed not by any Pardon or Judge but by the idiotic bizarre legislative tactic of decriminalizing the crime she was accused off, the amorphous "abuse of authority". Tymo's Sat. speech in Maidan tried to co-opt Protesters by apologizing for all government and encouraging them to not leave till they get what they want (her, she hopes)


FEB 21 Another day of the WORST tragic violence occurred Thurs as Pravi Sector radicals attacked police in the northern side of Maidan and Institutskaya- police opened up with shotguns, snipers, rifles, now using real ammunition from the high ground of Ukraine Hotel and its skybridge. At least  50 killed Thur, inc. 10 police, bringing total current 3 day death toll to 78, 85 for the last month. Young men's shot bodies were laid out by Kozak Hotel + McDonalds- 15, Ukraine Hotel 12, Post Office- 8, Kreshatuk-8. many were shot in the head,  chest, many multiple times, some with penetrating bullets that ripped right through bullet-proof vests (made usually for handguns).

"I had 3 men die no matter what we did, 8 others I saw" said doctor journalist Andrei of the medical team to me in the foyer of the Ukraine Hotel  at 4am Fri Feb 21. "Police weren't letting us operate on them at first- there was 1 or 2 we could have saved, I think." The Ukraine Hotel, on the South edge overlooking Maidan had been conquered from Protesters on Feb 18, retaken in the costly fighting Feb 20th- 50 lives for 2 more blocks. Access up the devastated Instituteskaya was in absolute pitch darkness, but with people exhausted from the days travails... relaxed.  The new Mayor of Moscow Makeyenko (Yanu appointed administrator 1 month ago) has quit the Party of Regions, pledged to serve the people, and opened the Metro (indefinitely closed, paralyzing the city), and 11 (50 now) more POR members have declared semi-independence from POR- forming a NEW OPPOSITION MAJORITY in the RADA. 150 Interior Ministry troops/+ police have been captured or surrendered to Protestors, and are being held at the City Hall (now released) - another unique feature of Ukr (they fought the law + the law DIDN'T win). 
          burning Maidan Jumbotron TV screen- Trade Center Feb 21-

Feb 20 7am Reportedly (Pravda) 2000 fully equipped Airborne troops have been ordered to Kyiv from Mykolayiv and Dnetropetrovsk by the (ex-Russian)  Defense Minister, a bad sign- I thought for some time this would be resolved by the Army, but I thought some General who had enough and came in on Maidan side to force new elections and the Removal of Yanuman. Such a counter-force is still a possibility and would result in shades of Civil War. [Feb 21- Armed Lviv militsia have arrived to form a human shield between protesters and police.]  Even worse, Yanu has replaced Military Chief of Staff Zamana with Sevastopol Admiral Yuri Illin, presumably wildly pro-Russian and not adverse to force, and they have declared an anti-terrorist action that justifies any violence. 

After another 11pm meeting between Yanu + Oppo leaders Wed, a truce was declared- absolutely meaningless- like so many of Yanu's promises have been- another full scale attack is very likely tonight, and then martial law-large explosions as I speak. Before this is over., 100-200 will die. Another guest here was terrorized and interrogated by 4 masked men on Mikhailovsky who photographed him- rightist protesters probably looking for Titushkies, but very tense, since he was a non-Western foreigner. A Vesti journalist was dragged from taxi, beaten, shot to death only 150M up St from me, I almost headed there at that time.With most business in Maidan and downtown closed, the Metro closed indefinitely, schools closed till Monday, and roving thug bands of various persuasions... the capital has become a dangerous scary place late after dark. As an American journo, I get welcoming generous treatment from the Protestors, but even they have become more hostile, contemptuous, and provocative in the last 2 weeks as the spirit decayed; and even the suspicion of Titushky-hood can earn one an instant mass attack- the real Titushkys can be scared 16 yo kids, or monster-killers.
- captured Interior Ministry marched to City Hall

Feb 19 10am LATEST CASUALTY numbers: F20- 70 dead (inc 20 police)- maybe 500 wounded (gunfire), 1500-3000 injured.  INCREDIBLY against all odds MAIDAN HELD OFF GOV ASSAULT!!  PROTESTERS RETOOK CITY HALL, the CENTRAL POST OFFICE, and a Gov RADIO/TV Bldg on Prorizna-Kreschatuk. Gov Shut off our Internet at 2:10am on Mikhailovsky- really bad timing for radio report.. TRADE UNION burnt out- destroyed, including 2nd Fl Press Center. Went down there from 7:30-9am- still burning in 4 places, inc. the former Jumbotron TV screen. Went into the utterly gutted Press Center- still on fire, trying to avoid melting shoes, and 10cm water from flooding. One wild and crazy Batkivshina video tech was wearing the strewn about rubber gas masks over his shoes like slippers.

In another poor portent for Ukraine, the economy is getting hammered.- the hryvna broke 9?$ again Wednesday, and the Credit Default Swap rate- the price to insure Ukraine bonds if they go bad, rose to a stunning 12.24 %. (USA's is only 0.03%.).

Feb 19 7am Well, still alive, but about to check out Maidan- reportedly Titushky (gov paid thiugs) are roaming my immediate area and beating people; they shot a Vesti journalist  dead on Veliky Zhitomhyrskaya after dragging him from a taxi <100m 120m="" and="" b="" battle.="" booming="" burned="" center="" from="" half="" i="" inhalation-="" killed="" m="" me-="" mikhailovsky-="" of="" only="" people="" reportedly="" smoke="" still="" sure="" there="" trade="" up="" were="">2, 
says Commandante Kubiv at new Press Centr 2/24) 9 floors packed with people desperate for sleep, hiding from noise and commotion in closets with earplugs- the Sovs still lock all fire exits in their perverse lust for "security" and burn a few hundred people to death a year in nursing homes, hospitals, aptmts for no reason [Feb 21- one report of 4 bodies found in it]. Police deaths are suspect (they claimed 3 before but never offered confirmation-now confirm 5)- but protesters have some guns- Afghan veterans know how to use them, and 1 of 2 APC's trying to fruitlessly break through high barricades of Kreshatuk was immolated... protester we fed with a monster bruise on thigh when barricades then collapsed on him said soldiers got out - the other APC barely escaped.

Roasted Trade Center Bldg 8am Feb 19- gutted from second fl,inc Press Center- Jumbotron on right side on fire MH
Opposition leaders met with a triumphant Yanukovich at midnight -2:30am, where he demanded total surrender- how their position has changed from IF they had taken the PM + DPM jobs- they were said to plead for restraint. Nothing was achieved.

Western Provinces have virtually seceded, with SBU Hdqtrs seized in multiple regions, and some Int. Ministry units going over to protesters.
Maidan War Zone-11:50pm Feb 18 with paving stones ripped up en masse MH

FEB 18 10pm I think that deal w Yatseniuk was real and true but PUTIN said NO, and demanded a crackdown in exchange for the next tranche of bucksy, and Yanu agreed- that would explain the release of money, which didn't make sense with Arseny becoming PM- not exactly a Russia-friendly guy. Yanu actually doing Putin's bidding was the nightmare of all real Ukrainians, and seems Elm St. has arrived. Actually don't think this will cease at all- Yanu will be at serious risk of assassination in Ukr, and like Sadat... he can't trust his own security men- even many from the East feel he's betrayed the country.

Casualties Maidan Feb 18 midnight MH
My friend Yevgeny collapsed sleeping on the floor after Berkut had fire-bombed their tent near the Stella Tower from the bridge over Institutskaya and he fought all day, and lovely sweetheart Julia was near a sobbing breakdown at the death + destruction when peace had seemed so close. Constant explosions now CLOSE. Don't know if they're stupid enough to attack Press Center and win worldwide approbation, but watching videos of Berkut beating innocent residents exiting their aptmt bldg.... sure they are. I don't have a helmet- never liked them even for Motorcycles, but just grabbed one- a metal beast. Tear gas masks are ancient but effective Soviet designs- look like British sci-fi horror movie things, but effective- got virgin cylinder from new case of 1950 masks..
Maidan tire fires- Feb 19 8:30am
8pm Feb 18 Man, was I wrong, or RIGHT. KIEV HAS EXPLODED- latest info has concerted Berkut/police attack on protesters on Hruhevskogo after radicals burned more police buses trying to get to the Rada to blockade it starting from ~10am. Gunfire erupted at maybe 11:30am- both on Hrushevskogo and Institutsakya, where another group tried to get to the Rada to blockade it and also burned police buses, other battles erupted on cross st. to Marinsky Park (next to Rada), and Marinsky itself as massive concerted police attack started in 4 different locations. Gov snipers were shooting people off a building at 17 Instituteskaya- enraged protesters seized the bldg and captured Berkut, then were driven out again. Protesters attacked and burned the Party of Regions headquarters on Lipsky St., with Chornovol leading the charge, getting a little payback for being hunted down on the highway, banged, blockaded , and beaten by thugs in a Porsche SUV. 
   20,000 yard stare of exhausted wounded soldier

Huge constant booming explosions outside now as they assault Maidan- Berkut supposedly on first floor, tried to get in back door to Press Center; they distributed gas masks- finally took one. 11 dead protesters, ~150 shot, maybe 1-2 militsia dead (though never provide confirmation).
BERKUT ATTACKING PRESS CENTER- one order to evacuate- into deadly street? Flashes + explosions right outside windows now. Tracer sniper fire from roof at someone below as car car burns intensely with Protesters behind it- strange bullets- incendiary or tank busting? they explode a second after hitting.. 5:50am Got out right after final order to evacuate- smoke was filling 2nd fl, and tear gas confronted us on exit- first use of mask-10pm?. No police in view, but watched the battle from barricades just on corner of building- took 2 past me on stretcher, 3 other covered in blood from head wounds. One guy was aiming or shooting at police with what looked like 30-06 rifle (photo).
FEB 17: BEGINNING OF THE END, PROTESTERS RETURN CITY HALL, HRUSHEVSKOGO; GOV FREES PRISONERS, CITY HALL TRASHED by ?; RUSSIA RELEASES NXT TRANCHE

 In a final break in the 3 month standoff, protestors have begun to withdraw from positions inc. the City Hall, and apocalyptic Hrushevskogo battle zone, in return for Prosecutor Pshonka's promise to release hostages (already violated?). I think that means that ARSENIUK has ACCEPTED THE PM Position (latest statement was conditionally accepting). If Klitschko is on board as Dep PM isn't clear- he was NOT present at these ground-breaking negotiation. After the City Hall being "turned over" to the Swiss Ambassador/Gov, Svoboda continued to restrict access- either some new group NARNIA, or another group of supposed invaders apparently trashed inside of the City Hall (which was quite virginal every time I saw it, as all interiors of all occupied bldgs were). Yatseniuk + Klitschko flew to Germany Mon to meet with Merkel, as if they were already the Government on a state visit. Even Putin seems to have given his consent, since he was waiting to see if the new PM was pro-Russian enough before paying up the next installment in his independence-subsuming loan. Or possibly the new PM is Poroshenko, not the dreaded Opposition leaders, and they can remain free of the taint of the Yanuman. Note Yanu's theft extended, according to many sources, to raiding and robbing half of Roshen Chocolets from his own minister- which would make for .highly interesting gov. dynamics..
.
FEB 8  Hryvna currency collapsing from 8.4 to 9 in last week.  Contest has degenerated into War of Attrition - with vicious kidnapping, torture, killing campaign; burning cars (117 to Feb7) against Automaidan and other activists: Dima Bulatov just fled to Lithuania after being held 8 days, ear mutilated, face slashed, and nailed by hand to tree- he was booted out (now only 10F) and wandered into upscale suburb of Vishinky (where I lived in mansion teaching Eng to some banker); another activist- Yuriy Verbitsky was kidnapped from a hospital by suspected police/special forces, beaten to unconsciousness, duct-taped, and dumped to freeze to death in the -5F woods near there (believe I'd met him), apparently a nest of these killers lives there. Katya B, spokesman for AutoMaidan  in the occupied Ukr Dom, said in a Jan 30th interview they were very worried about the kidnapped members Alexander Sevchenko + Alex Onashin, "I think the chances that they are dead is very high- they put grenades to blow up their car (and burn it)." Another 23 were arrested after being lured to locations by fake distress calls from "activists" in trouble- their cars were smashed and often burned by Berkut riot police.

On Feb 7, was challanged by drunk thuggish guy with bruise under eye near North end Maidan by McD + Kozak hotel who grabbed arm- thought he might be titushki thug, so screamed at him in coarse Russian to "get TF away"- turns out titushkis smashed up 2 POR connected restaurants dressed as protesters Feb 6th night, and someone sent a bomb in medical supplies that detonated on the 5th floor of the Trade Union... so Protest heavies were patrolling the fringes of Maidan.

And BIG NEWS, latest poll in Interfax has every Oppo leader decisively beating Yanu in a second round, even Tyahnybok. Klitschko crushes him by almost 2:1- what he will need with the massive fraud sure to happen, but almost beats him in the first round. % 2nd round leads are Klitsch 28 pt, Poroshenko 25, Arsen 18, Tymo 15, Tyahny 9. Entire ball game is whether Oppo can settle on ONE SINGLE UNIFIED CANDIDATE, rather than lose it all with internecine jealous squabbles.

Big little scandal was Nuland's bugged call to Amb. Pyatt (gimme 5, Geof), where she says F the EU, as I said simply slightly un-diplomo shorthand for "too bad the EU needs unanimous consent from all 28 members before taking any action"! See my posts on the RT story + psychotic response.

Chatted with a Speaker of French  EU Commission, Oliver Vedrine Monday- he said meeting Yanukovich was strange; "There was a feeling (air) of violence, I got little sense of intelligence or subtlety."


Jan 29  VICTORY?: TAKING OF UKR DOM (article), AZAROV RESIGNS, YANU OFFERS PM, DepPM to YATS, KLIT, 8 (Fed) Regional Admins Fall to Opposition (of 25), Attempts + Mass Protests at 6 more, Coms banned at 7, Justice + Agriculture Ministries Occupied, Attempted Attack/Kidnapping on Svoboda Defense leader- END GAME EVENTS

In a stunning raft of developments, Yanukovich cracked today, offering concessions that seemed unimaginable only a day before. It seemed the Protest has won, finally born fruit after so much suffering and sacrifice. Of course, Ukraine being Ukr, Opposition
leaders are not happy w 80% of the pie- they are holding out for 100%, which may lead to total victory or a little bloodbath. According to voluble Fatherland deputy Lesya Orobets Feb 6: "There was no offer on the table- it was a trap to make the Opposition fight among themselves!!" Nobody trusts Yanu now, even his POR- they broke big time in almost voting for a complete amnesty, Yanukovich had to threaten them with dissolution to get his amnesty after stopping occupation bill passed. There is some sense some POR would actually prefer Yanu out now.
.

1186    People crowding smashed windows Ukrainian House (Ukrainsky Dom) 3:18am Jan 26

SPECTACULAR PHOTOS HRUSHEVSKOGO STAN DOFF

1193Line of frightened Interior Ministry troops 5m behind shattered façade UkrDom 3:20am Jan 26; Shortly after, they fled out the back, convinced by Klitschko in an hour of negotiation that I believe saved lives; Earlier 3 red laser gunsight spots had appeared on the heedless protesters crowding the shattered windows (from the soldiers rifles), who terrifyingly ignored the danger, despite screamed warnings!! 3 minutes later, they escalated situation lobbing big firecrackers onto the Int. Ministry troops.

1204   Vitaliy Klitschko on pitch dark, wet stairs inside UkrDom  4:04am Jan 26 after protesters poured in at 3:50am  Jan 26                           





  o  Smashed facade of Ukr Dom windows from inside after protesters seized it 5:26sm; Repairs were underway Jan 26 


Jan 22 New Deaths at 5 as police use live ammo: 3 people were killed in a morning police counterattack; 2 more were killed by gunfire in the afternoon- all men,  In the early evening Klitschko + Tyagnibok held a press conference I just missed- Klitschko then gave a long emotional speech on the EM stage, his voice growing more and more hoarse, sobered by the lethal turn of events, because - Mykhailo Zhyzdnevskiy, citizen of Belarus and part of Klitschko's youth team from Bila Tserkva was shot and killed  today during the Berkut's attack on the protesters. He was wounded in the chest near the heart region. This is what happens when you throw 1000 Molotov cocktails - cops will kill you- there are terrible pics of militsia engulfed in flames! 2 were shot by snipers hiding on the roofs- with 7.62mm Degatyrev sniper rifle, one shot 4 times, pretty cold blooded murder.
     
Kyiv Post  In Kyiv, 48 people said to be "active participants in the riots" on Hrushevskoho Street have been detained by police, according to an official Interior Ministry statement. Thirteen are suspected of violating the Criminal Code st.294 "Riots," a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison under new laws signed by President Viktor Yanukovych on Friday which went into effect today. I must say, when the entire corps of the press center stands with their hands on their heart and sings the national anthem at midnight along with the TV of the ten thousand on Maidan, it's impossible to not be moved at the depth of feeling and patriotism these people feel towards there much-abused country. The big 3 met with Yanukovich at 2pm  in  an emergency summit.  Fires are still burning in a solid line across the road on
Hrushevskogo, fed by a constant deposit of tires + Molotov Cocktails, creating a wall of impassable choking black smoke- the protesters uncowed by the live ammunition that has cut down 5 and wounded 2-3 times more or the now enacted 15 year sentence for violent protest. Ukrainians are relentless, and many here are really prepared to die for this cause, which I didn't really believe before- they have the almost suicidal courage of Poles.
   
captured paid Gov thugs being marched to Trade Union

-sober Klitschko
Berkuts brutally attacked a Red Cross station- smashing it up and shooting the doctor with rubber bullets.   

IGOR Lutsenko (no relation to fmr Justice Minister), EM human rights activist was violently kidnapped from the hospital with his friend by 10 goons- likely ex-police- he was blindfolded and mock-executed in the woods, whereas his friend Yuriy Verbytskiy, was tortured, beaten, and dumped in a field in Gniden to freeze to death (I used to drive through it when I lived in a banker's 20 rm mansion in Vishinky, teaching him English.). I think I've met him.      LIVE TV HUSHEVSKOGO- expreso.tv

Tutushkis- paid government thugs ($25/day) were wilding- smashing car windows with meat hammers, and slashing tires to create chaos- in several operations, AutoMaidan people tracked and captured them, as young as 16, and a column of 40 were marched to the Trade Center to be interrogated and browbeaten.


Jan 20 New Kiev exploded into violence Sunday night as protesters attacked a police blockade by Europe Sq, leading to the Rada, torching 4 buses and a Dynamo Stadium ticket office, throwing 400 Molotov cocktails, 10,000 paving stones from 10pm-2:30am. Police responded with 2000 flash bang grenade, dozens to hundreds of tear gas canisters, and rubber bullets - the invisible sides separated by the charred hulks of buses lined up to block the street. One flash-bang hit exactly from where I moved 2 seconds before (3 ft away) and blew up 10ft away-2nd at that distance- when I saw police were doing counter-battery fire against rock throwers next to burning ticket office, who were gunning the stones hard enough to really reach the police, without baseball many Ukrainians throw like girls.
Then got hit by tear gas for the first time in life, clenched eyes shut, held my breathe and ran back out 150M, and got none in me- the stuff on my outside face burned when tried to wipe it of with water- think it is activated by that- use alcohol (vodka). A life of scuba-snorkle pays off. Another protester showed me the shattered bottom back of his helmet from an canister projectile- at the base of the skull that probably would have been fatal without a helmet!! At 2:20am the riot police, who  suffered numerous casualties from the incoming paving stones and firebombs, charged and captured 2 hapless protesters, then were driven back by a furious crowd response attack. According to the 2, who showed up at the Trade Union Press Center at 5am, they were stripped naked, doused with cold water, forced to run for safety in the -10C cold, as they were shot by runner bullets- one dropped his drawers to show his 5 buttock bullet bruises (video ,I'm on rt) Another famous "Cossack" guy was forced to strip naked and pose with cops putting him in headlock and buddy-bussy; which he handled w incredible aplomb- reportedly he swims in icy river in Jan!


Protesters were reputedly from a mysterious extreme nationalist faction: Right Sector along with Ultras Dynamo fans (footbal hooligans for justice).- Svoboda nationalists reportedly had strict instructions to NOT attend, though I have no confirmation on this. It is possible some of these were provocateurs endeavoring to justify the most savage police roundup. 120 protestors (KP or Euromaidan) and 50 hospitalized were injured from rocks, paving stones, metal bars, fired canisters, explosions, and rubber bullets, supposedly 130 police, with 80 hospitalized. 60 protesters arrested.
 - gas-masked protester Jan 20 2am Europisky Sq
It seems to me THIS is exactly what the government hoped for to provide a good reason for employing the outrageous new laws that make a mockery of any democracy, and criminalize any protest, journalism, or demands to the government. For almost anything I've written, I could be subject to 2-3 years of hard labor on 3 different charges.
       Police tortured old woman who begged them to stop torturing another elderly man -
Earkier Sunday, maybe 100,000 people rallied again for the 9th Sunday on Maidan, and Klitschko was seen aggressively getting between protesters and police to minimize violence- police think twice about swinging a baton at Vitaly,t but protesters blasted him with a fire extinguisher- reportedly he had to be restrained from attacking the radicals - at the Maidan stage, the crowd had even booed the most radical leader- Tyagnibok, tired of the same worn out phrases- Glory to Ukraine, Glory to the Heroes..
     Babooshka begs Berkut to not beat old man, but her-hey comply
SECOND TRY AT DEPOSING YANUKOVICH GOVERNMENT     Kiev: According to Arseniy Yatseniuk, Opposition forces arrayed against President Victor Yanukovich may be poised for another attempt to remove his Prime Minister and Government in a No Confidence vote in the Rada, the Ukrainian Parliament. The last time on Dec. 3rd, they received only 189 votes, far short of the 226 needed to succeed. - Scoop   Dec 18   NOTE: After the DEAL w Putin, of course, the Communists reneged.

 ex-Rada Speaker + protest leader Arseny Yatseniuk- fm video Fri Dec 13


Jan 17  New Really bad news- a host of lunatic repressive laws that make every protester, every journalist, every citizen... a criminal! Passed by a criminal party led by .. well, you know, through an illegal RADA voice vote without any actual counting, without proper vetting, or committee examination, or anything by the POR. There were only 204 POR coalition members present, way below even a majority of 225, but the hack Speaker repeatedly passed every provision with a made-up 235 votes.This allows draconian penalties on every journalist, every activist, every person protesting ANYTHING- it is something out of the SU or China- no even they weren't so brazen- they dressed up fascist laws w nice double- talk. This is obviously preparatory for the giant raid/attack on Maidan bound to come soon- a thousand Tutushki (government goons) are back in Marinsky Park and masses of riot police have been seen.

 Well, I'm totally sympathetic to this protest, but almost no
Maidan Nezheleznesty (Independence Sq) - Nov 24 MH-
government in the world would allow such a free wheeling takeover of the entire downtown by a 10,000 person city for 2 months... but these laws allow the gov to clean house and jail anyone and everyone they want, which is obviously their intention, as a friend said,"I think they're afraid to go home- the police will just come and arrest them one by one- look at how little protest Tymochenko's arrest provoked" - indeed the time to stop this outrageous erosion of liberty and decency was WHEN Yulia was jailed for doing her job by that rookie "trial" (like tryout) judge. Yanu is about to make this Belarus 2. On the other hand, the utter humiliation of Berkut guy trapped by protesters in taking off their helmets and balaclavas and running gauntlet of abuse is understandable if this was AFTER the police violence Jan 11, but can lead to savage retaliation. Hard cold is coming Sat Sun Mon -10,-12 C , 10-14 F,  that will reduce numbers but the stage has been set for some huge apocalyptic battle between gov soldiers and citizen/protesters. I am now temp. staying right next to Maidan (not in camp or bldgs) so hopefully I will have an intimate view.

]       



- former Justice Minister Lutsenko beaten Jan 10 by disgruntled employees
Jan 14  On Friday Jan 10 late night- a protest outside a Sviatoshin court that sentenced 3 guy alleged to have plotted to blow up a Boryspol Lenin statue 2 years ago that was actually dismantled by the city before they even plotted.... to 6 years in prison (on top of 2 pre-trial- maybe a sign for Kiev persecutions for Lenin-toppling) was violently broken up by police, with 10 injured (some badly w broken bones), including Yuri Lutsenko, former Justice Minister jailed with Tymoshenko and only (cont 1/11) recently pardoned and released. The gov had reason to hate him- he led the blockade of the Pres Admin bldg on Dec 8, but he was their former BOSS! Video shows the crowd trapping and forcing Berkut police into removing their helmets and balaclavas so they can be identified- quite amazing- if this came first, the violent response is understandable, but in this FSU country, the masses always carried some weight in a way they don't in the West at all- in America police are immune from almost any violent actions (almost all interactions are when driving), unless there is video- even then police are usually above reproach, which sometimes gives them a license to kill. The moment one resists or fights w any cop, he can legitimately kill you, because they just say, "He was trying to get my weapon." Some gonzo friend in Atlanta was probably murdered by a cop who was attacking him in a traffic stop.

In the 8th week, things have slowed down in Maidan and downtown with food more scarce; I thought before that the organizing parties may wrap this up within a week- after Jan 15 Old Slavik New Years that ends this infinite vacation period- there are no doubt factions in the government who want to drive them out by the most brutal means possible- any such protest, in their minds, is crossing the line of treason: they never accepted the results or even apologized for the fraud that caused the Orange Revolution- it's the way the game is played in Yanu-world. But each violent police attack causes a wave of new recruits and outrage. Now defender protesters are armed with all kinds of tools and weapons- whether they would use them is another story- everyone, including them, are exhausted by this standoff, and all the businesses downtown are losing millions.

-- festive protesters by toppled Lenin; Kiev is a joyful place; like long-abused wife who finally gets the courage to fight back Dec 8

      It seems clear they should have had other smaller big demands besides fire the people who beat the students Nov 29, like FREE TYMOSHENKO, or FIRE THE GOV, because to a man who spent 3 1/2 years in prison, this isn't real pressure. It's striking that in this whole thing, Yulia has not come up once- except maybe when she sent a New Years message- she is the woman who never was. Yatseniuk thinks he can be President, and her shrill demagogic style is disliked by many- so she may have a long stay in the nasty penal colony they sent her.

Dec 31 - Euromaidan is now in  it's 6th week- on Sun 29th, the protestors took their battle to the enemy, taking a 1000 car column to the doorstep of Yanukovich's palatial compound in Mezhigiriy - 15 km N of Kiev, where they held a 3000 person rally 300 M from his home (incredibly the police opened the blockade at the turnoff). After, spurred on by the 3 opposition leaders, they traveled to the homes of Russia booster Medvedchuk and destroyed his fence (provoking furious threats that "he knew how to play rough too"), Int Minister Zakharchenko, PM Azarov, prosecutor Pshonka to vent their displeasure. New Years  is the biggest holiday in Ukraine, with hundreds of thousands in the capital, so protest leaders expect new recruits, if temporarily, why NYE Metro closed early at 1am (instead of 2-3am that's been normal).    Dec 29 - Protest at Yanukovich home- Mezhigiriya -
Dec 29 saw 20,000 people still in Maidan for the 6th consecutive Sunday, and I collared the so-called Commandante (of Maidan) Stepan Kubiv briefly, the bank CEO that set up the entire occupation like a finely oiled machine. He was just having meetings w his lieutenants and then fled, but also interviewed his assistant.
     Primary organizer of brilliant operation of EuroMaidan/Trade Center/CityHall/OctPalace OCCUPATIONS - ex bank CEO- Stepan Kubiv - fm video

There was a piano-hammer dulcimer classical music concert in City Hall Sunday, an example of the wide range of entertainment in what has become a 5 week non-stop concert. They are using 6 tons of bread and 1 1/2 tons of cheese and sausage a day in the industrial food operation in  the Trade Center. Guarded like Fort Knox, I only got a glimpse of the massive kitchen in the Trade Center before being virtually attacked by some elderly self-styled security guy. They are trying to consolidate all the protest groups under a new social org named simply MAIDAN, and were signing up people on Sunday.

Dec 25: How this will end with a bang or a whimper isn't clear- numbers are clearly reduced CHRISTMAS, but thousands of ex-resident holiday partiers are coming to town for giant NYE (biggest Holiday where they give gifts) celebrations. Orthodox Christmas is Jan 7, but the Communists destroyed it as a Holiday. Andrei Stranikov, City Councilman presiding over the Occupied City Hall, told me Dec 22, that he "doesn't think the Gov will use force to clear it out," in our 2nd long interview. The following is a big reason for persistence of protests (might interview trooper w camera- neither rain nor snow nor blood in the eyes):       CHRISTMAS on EUROMAIDAN

T
Beaten reporters- mostly from Dec 1 police rampage at Pres. Admin bldg- KP

Dec 27: Somebody sure used force on Tanya Chornovol (bot. rt) Christmas Day, gadfly journo who had just taken photos of arch villain Interior Minister Zakharchenko's (whose resignation is already a demand of protestors) luxurious home, chased for 15 minutes by Porsche SUV that bumped, boxed, and finally managed to block and stop her; thugs dragged her out of the car, and beat her face in.

DEC 19: Well Yanukovich did it- went and signed a trade pact in Russia for $268 gas and a $15 bill loan on Dec 17-what he gave away isn't clear (maybe ownership of the pipelines, and a hard promise to join the CU, but it is a disaster. If enacted - Ukraine needs the money, it is finished as an independent country. Tragically, the EU said yesterday that they would have come up with Eu19 billion ($26b) over 6 years... but they never told the Ukrainians that. These are LOANS just like the evil IMF, what does Ukr have to pay them back with but selling off their infrastructure?

I predicted the Dec 11 crackdown Tues night-Wed morning to my friends here- it was obvious the Yanumen were fed up with the takeover of Kiev by people whose main purpose was his removal- he will quit when pigs fly, and sadly he has corrupted every authority in the country within his first 8 months in 2010.  Lately he appointed new heads of Constitutional Court and Central Election Commission- who are now 30 year crony's from his time as a Donetsk transport manager. Luckily the police were not beating people and a 4 hour shoving match ended when the protesters divided off a group of Berkut, then let them rejoin their mates.. and they withdrew.

Here are some exc. pics of Dec10-11 attempted police clearing of Maidan from a friends brother.



KIEV POLICE LINE NEAR MAIDAN - Dec 11, 2013
All following photos + first 3-4  Copyright©2013-Michael Hammerschlag           

Immense barricades to Maidan  5M high Dec13- rebuilt 3 times bigger after police attack destroyed them Dec 11

- Kiev City Hall- occupied since Dec 1 by protesters- Kreschatuk St. Dec 1
Can't see Yanukovich resigning, and he can't use excessive force cause the whole world is watching- EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton lectured him for 4 hours Tuesday, and Assis. Sec. State Victoria Nuland showed the flag and gave breas to the protesters Wed, after Kerry had petulantly snubbed Ukraine + the protesters to send a message to Yanuman on his recent visit. I must say I was impressed with the crazy Svobody fighters holding their own fighting with fully armed riot police, throwing giant paving stones  and wielding bars and cans of tear gas- never ever seen that in any protest anywhere. In America, protesters doing that would probably be killed.  
  Protesters on Institutskaya who want a clean sweep of Gov 12-8 MH
UPDATE 12/15: Due to a number of factors, I now believe that attack was staged by gov thugs, so-called provocateurs, because of the extraordinary armament, organization, lack of gov response and fact police run and don't fight back (video), then the savage pounding journos got later. In the video on that page (actually from Lenin Monument so N/A for this argument), one guy breaks a long pipe over police heads over 12 blows, and doesn't even get a 1 Mace in the face or baton stroke for his efforts. I first thought the  were hard-core Svobody guys (some of whom are thugs), but experiences seeing a fake attack (read down) and and fact there are now thousands of these government rent-a-thugs in the capital swayed me. NPR report on it  More violent videos at bottom.
- Deputy Speaker of the RADA (Parliament) dep.chair of Svobody Party  Ruslan  Koshulynsky
I interviewed the Vice-Speaker of the RADA (Parliament) Svobody Party Ruslan  Koshulynsky for 10 minutes, who said violently breaking up these demonstrations "would lead to civil war"- see radio report soon. After protesters resisted police tearing down the Maidan tents + the special forces retaking of the City Hall, protesters rebuilt the torn down barricades, bigger  and better than before, huge 5-7M high triangles of junk, snow bags, frozen water. City Hall was blocked and covered with ice from hoses.

Dead Lenin- soon to be fragments + Vitaly + Volodimir Klitschko on Maidan stage midnight Dec 8     
Questioned Dr. Ironfist Vladimir Klitschko, the great clean hope of Ukraine, but he was doing another interview, then bolted. He is always in a violent scrum, and must fight to get near him, but he is the one guy who might unify this country- he speaks 4 languages, has a doctorate, a clean reputation, knows how to kick ax, and would crush Yanu, but the Rada ruled a nonresident ineligible. He was a German resident for 13 years, Ukr for last 6, but as long as you don't change your propiska (residence permit) in passport, you are an Ukr resident.
Vitaly Klitschko Dec 4 Trade Union Bldg. fm video -

In a bad sign, 5 precincts that had massive fraud in the elections a month ago, had new ones tainted by (you guessed it) massive fraud and vote buying. Exit polls showed 4 of 5 opposition candidates winning, in reality 4 of 5 Party of Regions candidates won!  Klitschko, Tymoshenko Party former speaker Arseny Yatsenyiuk, and Svobody's Oleg Tyagnibok rallied the protesters admirably all night and morning of Dec 11 as thousands of troops converged on the square around 1:30am- temp 10F (-12C). They successfully resisted the police attempt amid alot of pushing- police didn't beat people, and half-heartedly removed a couple of tents before retreating- actually some of them are with the protestors.
VK had 1 heavyweight championship belt (just gave it UP! -D16) + has never even been knocked down, his brother has 4. If he runs though, with Yanu's total control of all judges and election officials, he'd have to win by 2 to 1 to actually win, why this crowd wants Yanu gone!!!!

      
  - pounding on Lenin statue, Dec 8 - 1 hour after toppled
Caught up with the action a half hour after the toppling of Lenin statue Dec 8th (22 years late), where I bulled my way up to concrete wall above it and got great video of guys beating it with sledgehammers, and handing out slivers. The Communists have been guarding it for years, since someone decapitated it, and Vlad needed serious repairs. One city in Ukraine incredibly erected a Stalin statue a few years ago, Zaporizhna, which is just (D14) sending Kiev a special train of 1000-1500 paid gov thugs! If this is happening in the big eastern/southern Russified cities- Donetsk, Kharkiv, Lugansk, Sevastopol, Odessa...  Kiev could become the scene of bloody end of the Wiemar street fights.


Protesters in the occupied City Hall Bldg,12/1 apparently w aid of some City Councilmen --

Incredible food table in City Hall- unlimited free sandwiches, tea, cookies, cakes. At the occupied Trade Union Bldg on Maidan, where the Press Center is, even at 3am, people are hurtling out the door every minute with full platters of sandwiches, tea, cakes, cheese for the protesters in 10 deg F (--12C) snowy weather. Everywhere the spirit is incredible- festive, congratulatory, open, generous- everything is free. On Wed I almost stopped to buy gloves but didn't want to spend the time- coming out of Metro on Maidan within 10M there was a kiosk with warm clothes- coats, hats, scarfs. "Got some gloves?," I asked and guy threw me a new pair of beautiful warm cloth 
gloves sealed in plastic. Price? Nitchivo! Total opposite and I think a joyful counter-reaction to normal dour cheap uncooperative Slavic personality (normal customer service here is: NO!, a packet of McD ketchup is 40c, no free water or milk for tea or coffee in restaurants).  It is similar to the best hippie spirit of the 60's-70's, minus the sloppiness and drugs. Never seen such generosity and good will since we (foreigners) were rich near-gods in heyday of early independence '91-93. "Now you think differently about Ukraine?" said my local friend sarcastically. The organization of the food supply and medical services is better than any military could manage- apparently 30% of the mothers of Kiev are cooking for this protest too and several doctors volunteered, but they admit spending about $250,000 as of end of Dec.
  medical supplies in City Hall

 The painless takeover may have been helped by insiders on the 120 member City Council- I questioned one of the bigwigs in control of the building- a Deputy of UDAR, who is in charge of the impressive medical services- I got my astronomical BP checked and rapped drug combos. There were only a couple of security guards at the door when the crowd barged in- why defend against a threat that's never happened.

They even brought food, many times to the militsia- police are militarized here under the Internal Ministry; other girls stuck flowers on their shields, to their amusement. It probably helped minimize broken heads. After the vicious battle between police and masked militants Dec 1 in front of Pres. Admin Bldg, Berkut, the fiercest riot police, savagely attacked journalists, sending 40 to the hospital and deliberately breaking their equipment. Maybe 500
paid ($50-62/day) Government thugs, called "sportsmen"  cause of their penchant for cheap Soviet-era tracksuits and Titushki after an identified member,  have been congregating in Marinsky Park near the RADA (Parliament)- they roughed up a few journalists in Nov. On Dec 8th a huge contingent of Svobody fighters (500-800) went to fight them but they reportedly fled. When they attack reporters, police stand by and do nothing, and they are given gov. assistance. Latest reports (14th) are of well over a thousand of them being sent to the capital in a private train from the smallish city Zaporizhna- if they come from Donetsk, Kharkiv, Sevastopol in  sizable numbers- Maidan could see end of the Wiemar-style street fighting; a desperate Yanukovich may do anything to hold power.


There are many stories of government provocateurs- causing violence to give cops an excuse to go crazy, which I always took with a grain of salt- Rukrainians think everything is a conspiracy. But seconds after I took the pic of cops above on Institutskaya, this guy (dn) ran up and punched a cop and bolted, they surged forward like an enraged school of fish (scary when you're 10 ft away), and somehow protesters chased down + tackled this guy, held him, and grilled him under extreme duress. He admits to working for Bureau for State Protection (some Police agency) in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vx0fXpOeto&feature=youtu.be  - of capture.  Amazing. I now believe the crazy masked guys fighting the police at the Pres. bldg Dec 1 were provocateurs- fake protesters.

 --police provocateur- fake protestor who does violence so police can go crazy

 One guy drove a bulldozer (video) towards the Pres. gates into the police lines, sure to set off the cops- these photos seems to show the "construction worker" clearing his path was a Berkut officer. He, Sergei Kuzyuk, is later interviewed by Ch 5 in uniform, and was also apparently present at the Nov 30 attack. Luckily after pushing police lines back a meter the driver stopped or protesters stopped him, but the savage targeted pounding journos (the worst event of this revolt) and the demonstrators received indicates it may have been a setup. Reportedly there are photos of the driver within police lines. According to this NPR report , the troops there were green soldiers, 1 hour later they brought in hardened Berkut goons who ran amok. From this incredible video at the Lenin monument on Shevchenko where 100 police run into a bus and don't fight back (find video) while a guy breaks 3M pipe over their heads,  believe they were told NOT TO FIGHT BACK (though this is N/A for Pres. Admin argument). This amazing video from Hromadske TV has an interview with my provocateur where they show his state ID and docs- he is a Captain Litvak of YDU (OOO-D-YOU). Amazing- sending their one security service to hurt their, ah, security service. So the chance that the vicious attack on the journos at Prez Admin Bldg was a planned operation is quite high.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bug_O40UfLU    Dec 1 NoCom 3:46 Dec 1 Pres Admin violent
http://youtu.be/NzGBJyDit1M   NoCom RT Video-Clashes outside Pres. explosions, paving stone impacts
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9_TQekf0W0    Violent video- Ukraine cops clobber.. RT Nov 30
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tINXb8cWIwk  Shevchenko Blvd- protesters break pipe over cops head
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dI2HYBfgXY   Prez Admin- bulldozer pushing cops

One must remember, unreconstructed killers remain in the KGB - SBU now, this is a place where the Pres ordered the "taking care of" of an Internet journalist back (2000) when the Internet was a fringe activity almost nobody had (3%?)- he was kidnapped, killed, and decapitated by high police officials... and much more incredible- the youthful good-looking future President was turned into Machete by a "security service" Dioxan poisoning, and   nobody was ever punished.  I must interview one of the cops seriously injured by gov-sponsored "oppositionists"- they must be thrilled to have their tax dollars paying to hospitalize them. No, forgot- nobody pays taxes.


City Councilman  and leader of City Hall occupation UDAR party Andrei Stranikov Dec 4-

This entire protest was dying down when Yanu brilliantly sent Berkut to violently disperse the 70-200 protesters huddled around the Maidan tower at 4am on Nov 30. "They moved in like sharks.. and just laid a beating on them.. that's why this mushroomed," says Can-Ukr filmmaker Richard Bachinsky Hoover, who witnessed it. With all the camera phones out there, such an outrage is impossible to keep secret or low-key, within hours, protesters were streaming to Maidan- the next day Dec 1 there were as many as 2/3 million packing every street downtown- biggest demos maybe including 2004, a week later on Dec 8th there were also maybe 200-400K people out, with +100K every day, at some point.

Protester beaten by riot police by Pres. Bldg. Dec 1 in Trade Union--Dec 8 below




Jingle Bell barricades at entrance to Maidan, made from pieces of giant metal Christmas tree- now since police dismantled them Dec 11, rebuilt much stronger with ice hardening (above freezing for 2 weeks now though)- dn



Beirut, Ukraine- 
piles of debris in Maidan Nezheleznesty or ah.... firewood

Ruslana- big organizer and entertainer of protests + and famous Ukr singer- won Eurovision Contest (huge in Europe, but somewhat cheesy). Asked her a question and after she came up and grabbed my arm intimately- think she didn't understand it. She has been indefatigable, keeping the 24 hr live entertainment going on the big Maidan Stage, telecast on the Jumbotron and Svobody + web TV channels; giving interviews, providing supplies- in fact she may be the central person keeping this alive... so of course the Yanumen are talking about prosecuting her.

Downtown is one giant crash pad, with thousands sleeping in the occupied City Hall and 9 fl Trade Union Bldg on Maidan (left) - on Tuesday an order came down from District Court to evacuate bldg, but same day protesters cleverly signed an official lease with the manager of the bldg, so they are legal - Dec 8-9

Sleepy Time in the big hall of City Hall



 Protestors have, since this started Nov 21, braved  downpours, snowstorms,
 -12C cold, howling winds, and police attacks. Heated electrified tents, and heating barrels help. In front of Trade Union Bldg - Maidan (Moyo electronic store)

 Svobody leader Oleg Tyanibok - radical Ukr nationalists, they also have some racist anti-foreigner-Semetic elements; but they do have real courage and energy.-below

Broken window in- front door of the City Hall Dec 1, taken over at 3pm that day, with only a couple of  security guards present. About 3 weeks ago, Democrats Abroad held their Europe-Middle East convention here, in the opulent but empty grand hall.- rt