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Not always what they seem

November 19, 2018

Attacks on journalists, as well as any manifestations of intolerance and violence, are considered unacceptable. We are waiting for the results of the investigation by law enforcement agencies.”  So decrees the latest public statement by the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry following yet further attacks upon journalists, civil society and minority groups and individual activists.  The latest incident an LGBT rally in Kyiv.

The Ukrainian MFA issuing a swift statement in an attempt to pacify those European supporters who continue to look on with due concern.  That is part of their job description after all.

Yet it is not the MFA that is responsible, nor (rightly) has it any influence over the Ministry of Interior and Prosecutor General’s Office that hold the responsibility for bring those responsible for such violence before the courts.

As such, as with every statement issued by the MFA under such circumstances (and that list grows ever longer as the incidents continue to accumulate), it remains to be seen whether there is to be any substance to those words – or whether empty rhetoric will be the result (again).

The words of the MFA are in many ways irrelevant when weighed against the action or inaction of the Interior Ministry.

It is necessary of course to recognise each incident is a crime in and of itself.  It should be investigated as such by the investigating officers at the scene or local jurisdiction.  It is the regional and/or national investigators that are responsible for identifying patterns and deciding which incidents fit within a pattern and which do not – and why.

Which attacks are “business related”, which are politically motivated, which are ideologically motivated, which are criminally motivated and so on – and which, despite prima facie appearances, may not be connected at all.

There is a big difference between evidence fit for the purposes of a court, and intelligence which is only ever categorised within “levels of confidence”.

That is not to say that there is a lack of evidence underpinning any “level of confidence” necessarily, but there are often reasons that such evidence will not be used for the purposes of prosecution.  Those reasons can be due to how the evidence was obtained, for the protection of participating informants, due to larger operational considerations etc.

Where there is a lack of public trust in institutions, apparent inaction can be perceived as a cover up – and Ukrainians have very little trust in their State institutions.  Not without cause it has to be said.

In an election cycle such a lack of confidence has political inferences and may ultimately effect the results at the ballot box.

Wanton lawlessness and an apparent inability/unwillingness by “The State” to get to grips with such incidents has societal repercussions – particularly so when there is a perception that certain organised groups are deliberately being left alone to act outside the law.

Aside from the political/institutional class themselves, the most obvious to the public are the Vory and the far-right/nationalist groups.

With regard to the latter, unfortunately “nationalist” and “patriot” still appear to be interchangeable words in the Ukrainian lexicon despite the clear distinctions between the two.

Upon patriotism a nation is built.  Upon nationalism a nation will ultimately destroy itself.  Far right ideology is as destructive and cancerous as far left ideology as 20th Century history ably displays.

Further, even when such ideologies run their destructive course (if not prevented) their organisational structures remain – often turning to organised criminality.  When the PIRA laid down its weapons, its interests in smuggling and racketeering initially employed to fund the cause, did not cease.  Those international connections did not disappear.  Likewise even if the PKK find a recognised land for the Kurds, the shakedown of kebab shops across the UK would not stop either.  And so on and so on.

Parts of these organisation will go legitimate and enter mainstream politics, parts will vanish due to irrelevancy, and others will remain entirely criminal.  When the connections and nefarious modus operandi exist, there will be those within any organisation that will desire to profit long after a cause or its violent approach is abandoned.

All such paths will be taken by those within the Ukrainian far right in the years ahead.  Of that we can be sure.  And of those paths it is the criminal as well as political making contracts across Europe that will perhaps become the most worrisome.

Nevertheless, in the immediate term domestically there are also matters of timing with regard to the frequency and brutality of such attacks as elections approach.

Which incidents are politically motivated during such an electioneering window – and by who?

Infiltrating and/or influencing extreme organised entities has been bread and butter intelligence and policing for decades if not a century.  Turning informers and/or placing agent provocateurs within is a common tactic – for agencies both domestic and foreign.

Therefore the current social media spats about the Russians or the Interior Ministry, or a particular financier, or simply swivel-eyed loons within the far right being entirely responsible is to view matters in a very simplistic and uninformed way.  Such organisations and their actions are not simply black and white.  The motivations and motivators are oft working comfortably in the grey and come from different directions – unknown to the vast majority of an organisation’s membership naturally.

After all, the art of a successful infiltration with regard to the more radical groups is to be one of an influential crowd, not to be the centre of attention – and some acts may be directed by several influences/provocateurs simultaneously.  Circumstances dictate over a long game.  Brief situational common goals may be pursued unknowingly by several parties at the same time.  Coincidence is a often only apparent to one party when the other has manipulated events to make it appear that way.

All of which brings about the questions of who benefits from the current up-tick of violence against civil society, activist, and journalists during electioneering?  Who also benefits if “The State” is seen  to finally (and perhaps temporarily) get a firmer grasp upon the rule of law just before the polling days of 2019?

Which incidents are entirely what they appear to be – and which are something else?

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