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    November 29, 2017

    Change in Strategy? US Ambassador criticizes Kiev's social Nazism

    November 29, 2017 - Fort Russ - 
    By Eduard Popov, translated by Jafe Arnold - 



    On November 28th, the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, stated at a briefing that the Ukrainian government should restore social benefits for the residents of those parts of Donbass uncontrolled by Kiev. 

    The government should optimize the process of granting pensions and restore the payments to which Ukrainians are entitled. This includes temporarily displaced persons, who have really been displaced, and people who live in non-government controlled territory. These are the means that people have earned over the decades of their work,,”  Yovanovitch said. 

    Yovanovitch also singled out unwarranted red tape in the registration process for social assistance for temporarily displaced persons. The US Ambassador emphasized that the registration which temporarily displaced Ukrainians have to undergo in order to receive pensions, is discriminatory and contradicts the “Western values” towards which Ukraine aspires. 

    Some background on this issue is needed. Back in April-May 2014, Kiev began “trimming”  economic and humanitarian ties with Donbass. In particular, DPR and LPR residents’ bank accounts were blocked, and people were simply deprived of their savings. Ukrainian banks ceased operations in the republics, and bank cards became unusable. The most egregious case of Ukrainian policy, however, came with the discontinuation of social payments to the population of Donbass - those which the US Ambassador had in mind - despite the fact that the people of Donbass had contributed immensely to Ukraine’s national wealth and paid their contributions into the country’s Pension Fund. 

    The humanitarian situation in Donbass became critical. I myself was even involved in securing pensions for Donbass refugees in Russia, although I consciously refused to be involved in money matters. Overall, I can say, if it weren’t for Russia’s aid and taking upon itself the responsibility of supporting the population of Donbass, then the republics could have faced large-scale famine. Even with Russia's help, however, there were considerable fatalities tied to the Ukrainian blockade of Donbass (which can be compared to the German-Finnish blockade of Leningrad), a fact which needs to be carefully researched. 

    Point #8 of the Minsk Agreements spells out the “full restoration of socio-economic ties, including social transfers such as pensions and other payments (receipts and incomes, the timely payment of all utility bills, the renewal of taxation within the legal framework of Ukraine)." This point, however, like other sections of the Minsk Agreements, has not been fulfilled by Ukraine. I know this firsthand from Donbass residents who have been forced to cross the border to Ukraine every several months and stand in lines for long hours (and sometimes days) for social pay outs. 

    Moreover, in preparing news round-ups for the Cossack Herald, I regularly encounter reports of LPR citizens’ pensions being stolen at Ukrainian checkpoints. Ukrainian militants from the Nazi battalions simply confiscate retirees’ pensions, citing that such money could be used for terrorist activities. Thus, the very acquiring of a pension first involves the danger of a potentially unsafe border crossing, and even then there is no guarantee of a safe return home with the money collected.

    Apparently, not even this satisfied the Kiev regime. On June 8th, 2016, the Ukrainian government adopted Cabinet of Ministers Resolution #365, according to which social payments are suspended for displaced persons from the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. In other words, even those people from Donbass living on Ukrainian-controlled territory can be deprived of their pensions. 

    Control over the residence of Ukrainian citizens on the territory of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics is the job of the Security Service of Ukraine, which is essentially controlled by the American CIA. The SBU in turn is required to submit data on the political loyalty of citizens to territorial labor and social protection directorates. Thus, any “politically unreliable” citizen can be deprived of their financial resources.

    At the end of April, Ukraine’s Social Policy Minister Andrey Reva stated that pension payments to some internally displaced persons have been discontinued, citing a law that citizens residing on territory uncontrolled by Ukraine (the DPR and LPR) for more than 60 days are no longer entitled to pensions. 

    Thus, practically all of the population of the DPR and LPR has been deprived of the possibility of receiving pensions and other social benefits that they've spent their lives working for. This is how the Kiev authorities continue to push Donbass out of the social space of “united Ukraine.”

    Why did Ukraine opt for such illegal and abusive steps which completely contradict Ukrainian and international law? I see two reasons here. The first is the Ukrainian elite’s lack of strategic thinking and “non-state mentality.” For example, even during the First Chechen War, Russia did not cut off pensions to the Chechen Republic which had attempted to secede from the Russian Federation. This made reconciliation and reunification possible not only by force of arms.

    The second and perhaps main reason is economic. One of the conditions for Ukraine receiving credits from the International Monetary Fund is raising the retirement age and significantly reducing social expenditures in the Ukrainian budget by eliminating the Pension Fund deficit which, as of January 2017, had reached an astronomical debt of 145 billion UAH (approximately 5.5 billion USD). In accordance with the IMF’s wishes, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine is trying to “optimize” the number of pensioners in Ukraine, which is around 12,297,000 people. This campaign began with “optimizing” the pensioners of Donbass. For readers who are unaware, let us recall that the average monthly pension in Ukraine is only $50. 

    Following the coup d’etat of February 21st, 2014, Ukraine began its “new history” with abolishing the law on the status of the Russian language. With the Cabinet of Minister’s resolution, this ethno-cultural Nazism has been compounded with a social Nazism. This social Nazism is so blatant that even international organizations have been alerted to it, and now the US Ambassador has spoken out. In early February 2017, the United Nations expressed serious concern over the refusal to pay pensions and social benefits to dislocated persons and the residents of territories not controlled by Kiev. This was announced by the UN’s coordinator for Ukraine, Neil Walker, but the situation has not changed over the past 10 months. 

    In conclusion, let us ask ourselves: What goal did the US Ambassador to Ukraine have in reminding Kiev of its social obligations before the people of Donbass? How can we explain this uncharacteristic burst of humanism? 

    I believe that this was not done for humanitarian considerations, but rather might be explained as part of the US’ desire to push Ukraine down the path of pretending to be committed to fulfilling the Minsk Agreements. It is no coincidence that on the very same day, November 28th, the US State Department’s special representative on Ukraine, Kurt Volker, stated that the Ukrainian government should be ready to fulfill the political part of the Minsk Agreements.

    The goal of these synchronous statements by two American diplomats is staging “progress” in fulfilling Minsk on Ukraine’s part in order to then demand responsive, much more serious concessions from Russia - now this mainly concerns the composition of the proposed peacekeeping contingent to be deployed in Donbass. 

    In ultimatum fashion, the US is demanding that Russia “withdraw” from Donbass and allow US and NATO peacekeepers to isolate the DPR and LPR from Russia. In the interests of such a strategic goal, some criticism of Kiev for its social Nazism can be permitted and even a certain amount of pensions can be repaid to Donbass pensioners. 


    This plan faces enormous challenges. The simple lack of money in the Ukrainian budget and the kleptomania of the Ukrainian “elite” render this nearly impossible. Even if the Poroshenko regime’s Western friends were to parcel out money for pensions, one can be sure that none of this money will ever actually reach the people of the DPR and LPR. 





    Eduard Popov is a Rostov State University graduate with a PhD in history and philosophy. In 2008, he founded the Center for Ukrainian Studies of the Southern Federal University of Russia, and from 2009-2013, he was the founding head of the Black Sea-Caspian Center of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, an analytical institute of the Presidential Administration of Russia. In June 2014, Popov headed the establishment of the Representative Office of the Donetsk People's Republic in Rostov-on-Don and actively participated in humanitarian aid efforts in Donbass. In addition to being Fort Russ' guest analyst since June, 2016, Popov is currently the leading research fellow of the Institute of the Russian Abroad and the founding director of the Europe Center for Public Initiatives. 








    Jafe Arnold is Special Editor of Fort Russ, Special Projects Director of the Center for Syncretic Studies, and the founding Editor-in-Chief of Eurasianist Internet Archive. Holding a Bachelors in European Cultures from the University of Wroclaw (Poland), Arnold is currently undertaking his Masters in Western Esotericism at the University of Amsterdam. 




         


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