Posts Tagged ‘media’


New Media Rules – ATO (Donbas) wef 01/01/17

December 29, 2016

For those few journalists that still attempt to cover the war in eastern Ukraine and the continuing almost daily death toll, be advised that with effect from 1st January 2017, new rules apply:


“Since January 1, 2017, a new procedure of work for media representatives covering the ATO in the east of Ukraine will be implemented.

According to this procedure, media accredited to the Security Service of Ukraine will receive two types of press cards such as first and second level accreditation.

Second level accreditation press card (blue) allows working within the ATO area, except for forward positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The procedure of reception of this press card is the same.

Meanwhile, the first level accreditation press card (pink, with number 1) allows working within the ATO area and allows working directly at the conflict line (at forward platoon strongpoints, company defence positions).

Media must undergo three day training at the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine (National Defence Ivan Chernyakhovskyi University — two days of theory, as well as at the 169th Training Centre of Land Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Desna, Chernihiv oblast (one-day practical training) to receive the press card of first level accreditation.

Foreign media accredited to the Security Service of Ukraine will receive first level accreditation press card only after obligatory one-day briefing!

More than 250 persons are undergoing training and will receive first level accreditation press cards this December. Considering the popularity of the training, three-day training will be conducted in January 2017, please, follow our updates.

Please note, a new procedure of visiting the ATO area is implemented as required by the Order of the First Deputy Director of the Anti-Terrorism Centre at the Security Service of Ukraine (Director of the Anti-Terrorism Operation in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts) of 19.01.2016 No. 45 ‘On procedure of media admission to military facilities in the Anti-Terrorism Operation area in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts’ (Annex 4, Order of First Deputy Director of the Anti-Terrorism Centre at the Security Service of Ukraine (Director of the Anti-Terrorism Operation) of 27.10.2016 No. 555).

If you have questions don’t hesitate to contact us +38 (067) 223 16 43; (044) 245 44 01″


Odessa – Write your own headline (It would be funny if it weren’t so sad)

December 28, 2016

In local news a headline appeared that simply demanded further reading.  It read “In Odessa region a school toilet was inaugurated:  A ribbon cutting and dancing”.

It has to be said that your author’s parents always took a very dim view of what they termed “toilet humour”, which in their definition had little to do with funny toilets or anecdotes about ablutions and the physical activities that occur within, but rather humour that was more than a little “off colour” or “beyond the pale”.

However, erudite as the readership of this blog is, there will be those that will create their own headlines for this event, and others that will find the entire event “off colour”.

One of the rural schools in Rozdilna Rayon (Odessa Oblast) quite literally had a ribbon cutting event to open a toilet at the school!

The grand toilet opening (Photo courtesy of Dumskaya)

The grand toilet opening (Photo courtesy of Dumskaya)

Perhaps it is right that toilets in a school are a reason to be celebrated – particularly if there have been none prior.  A reader may ponder just how many student hours have been saved in the absence of “Please Miss, can I go to the toilet?” if there is no toilet to go to.

Nevertheless, most readers would expect that a nation that can provide electricity, heating, teachers and an education at a school in rural Ukraine, to also be able to provide ablutions.  Surely toilets in a school are more of an expectation than something to celebrate?

It has to be said that the blog gets invitations to various events, many of which are nothing more than the official opening of an official envelope, an hour or so of polite chit-chat and perhaps a few nibbles and away.

Not once has an invitation arrived to attend the opening of a school toilet.  Clearly the blog sits upon the wrong distribution/invitation lists for such events.  However, over the past decade or more in Odessa, there is no recollection of a ribbon cutting ceremony for a school toilet.

New school toilets (Photo courtesy of Dumskaya)

New school toilets (Photo courtesy of Dumskaya)

Readers, ask ye not where are the doors, for no answer can be given.  Perhaps the juvenile sensitivities of rural Ukrainian pupils are far less than those of the juvenile sensitivities of its urban school children.  All things considered, perhaps this is a such a step to modernity (and sanitation) compared to what existed before.  A reader may well ask what existed before.  Perhaps the children were simply defecating in the school playground for the amusement of lost tourists passing by?

(Photo courtesy of Dumskaya)

(Photo courtesy of Dumskaya)

How many local politicians and dignitaries actually get invited, and turn up, and take part in ribbon cutting ceremonies for school toilets?  Obviously Felix Segal the current Chairman of the District Council decided it was a worthy photo op – as did several other officials.

With such a major blessing being bestowed upon the school, a reader is now wondering where the dancing girls are.  Fear not, some female students indeed put on a dance to celebrate they can now, albeit unladylike owing to the toilet design being little more than a wipe clean hole in the floor, go to the toilet.

(Photo courtesy of Dumskaya)

(Photo courtesy of Dumskaya)

What school principle has their teenage females dancing for officials to celebrate the opening of a school toilet – something which the school should have.

How to interpret this entire event?

To be angry and dismayed that school toilets are now ribbon cutting PR events for local politicians?  Undoubtedly.  That school principles have their girls dance in gratitude for such retro-Soviet privacy-less ablutions?  Certainly.

Yet mindful of a father that forever proclaimed “sarcasm is the lowest form of wit” it is still rather difficult not to arrive at numerous sarcastic headlines.

“Pupils who couldn’t give a sh*t before, now do!”

“Ukraine takes another step toward Europe – toilets opened in schools with due pomp and ceremony!”

“Ukraine leaps ahead of Europe with the ultimate socially  liberal “no privacy” toilets for school kids!”

“Environmentally friendly Ukraine bans natural and man-made doors on school toilets”

“Scandal at Ukrainian rural school – pupils resort to wiping their arse with ribbon due to toilet paper shortage” (there’s none in the photos).

Naturally when the costs of the toilets becomes known and the inevitable budget plundering scandal rears its inevitable head, the toilet humour headlines will not end there.

In the meantime, a reader is left to make their choice of dismay that school toilets have become ribbon cutting events with dancing girls (pupils), or whether in the festive period to engage in their own headline writing for this incredibly bizarre PR event.


A Granovsky false flag in defence of Kononenko?

December 17, 2016

The name of Ihor Kononenko has appeared fairly frequently in the blog – usually annotated with “President Poroshenko’s leg breaker in the Verhovna Rada” or “the mere mention of his name has diplomats eyes rolling” or “to whom the presidential leash should be applied”.


To be absolutely blunt, Mr Kononenko is an old and loyal friend of President Poroshenko and is being allowed to run amok with all the worst possible parallels to the Yanukovych regime approach to business and state owned enterprises, whilst also acting as parliamentary enforcer for the president.

Certain readers known to this blog have first hand experience of Mr Kononenko.  To be charitable he is a predator.  To be less so, he can go beyond “dubious” and “nefarious” when it comes to the boundaries of the law.

There is no doubt that President Poroshenko is aware of at least some of the deeds of his friend – even if he doesn’t read the media (and he is probably the most PR aware Ukrainian president ever) there is no way some deeds will not have been raised directly by the diplomatic community with the president on occasion.

Sooner or later, should the presidential leash not be placed upon Mr Kononenko and thus his appetites somewhat reduced, a reader may foresee a situation similar to that of Viktor Shokin whereby the international pressure from “friends of Ukraine” will continue to build surrounding him to the point of ultimatums.

Also occasionally mentioned by the blog is Alexander Granovsky usually annotated with “rising star in Kyiv” or “whose political star is in the ascendancy” (or similar).

Although from Uman originally, Mr Granovsky since his (Mechnikov) university days in Odessa, has been a permanent business/public persona in the city – perhaps best known for his activities with business partner from Boris Kaufman (also from Odessa).  That said both also have business interests that do not involve the other.

Mr Granovsky’s business history is as a reader would expect – he had owned more than a dozen companies between 1997 and 2006 (which could be, but won’t be listed here), almost all with “colourful” reputations or occasional scandals.  Some have since been sold, some have been retained, and new enterprises continue to appear.  Suffice to say those interests cover everything from port dredging, to banking, to fertilizer, to hotels, to airports, media, alcohol, tobacco, and more.

Mr Granovsky is also a man inclined to be generous with the synagogue in Odessa being a major beneficiary.

Regardless of interesting histories (worthy of entries of their own) both Mr Granovsky and Mr Kononenko are Block Poroshenko parliamentarians will significant gravitas within both the party, faction and the parliament itself – albeit with different and distinct roles in controlling events.

The past few days have seen some interesting entries on Mr Granovsky’s Facebook. – a photograph of a text conversation on Telegram was uploaded.


A conversation prime facie appealing to Mr Granovsky for help to fend off the unwanted attentions of the predatory Ihor Kononenko.

“Хочу обратиться ко всем симпатикам моего коллеги по залу Игоря Кононенко, чтоб сообщить о том, что лично он, обращаясь ко мне в мессенджере телеграмм, пытается втянуть меня в преступный сговор с не до конца попятной для меня целью. Что-то мне подсказывает, что дело не чистое.
Доказательство ниже.

Конечно же, какой-то “озорник” таким образом пытается выманить деньги. Половина фракции тоже получила подобные сообщения. Примитивно, но в каких-то случаях эффективно:(((“

Mr Granovsky accompanied that photograph with a statement appealing to his parliamentary colleagues to give Mr Kononenko a sympathetic audience, for he suspected intrigue of a nefarious kind, stating that half of the Poroshenko faction had received similar texts attempting to obtain money.  His post insinuated that some had indeed complied, paying off an unknown party.

It is without a shadow of a doubt that Mr Granovsky has the telephone number of Mr Kononenko and can authenticate (or not)  the demands for money.  Such faux intuition of intrigue and public (Facebook) disclosure is quite unnecessary for a man capable of getting immediate responses from Mr Kononenko.


“Короткий апдейт на тему хулигана, который прикрывался именем Игоря Кононенко с целью выманить деньги у коллег по фракции и не только.

Следующие несколько лет, судя по всему, он будет шлифовать свои навыки в 4 стенах. Отдельное спасибо сотрудникам спецподразделения “Альфа” СБУ.”

On 17th December, a few days after setting the scene on Facebook, Mr Granovsky via Facebook once more, gave public thanks to a SBU Alfa Unit for arresting somebody – (as yet unidentified and as of the time of writing the detention has not been confirmed by the SBU) – using Ihor Kononenko’s name to extort money from his parliamentary colleagues.

Naturally questions arise.

Firstly just how subservient to and/or scared of Ihor Kononenko are his parliamentary colleagues to have simply paid this unknown offender acting under Mr Kononenko’s name apparently without his knowledge?

As always, the questions have to be asked as to who benefits, and why are things being done this way?

In publicly announcing this affair on Facebook, does Mr Granovsky do more or less harm to the “parliamentary leg breaker” and predatory image that Ihor Kononeko already has among his parliamentary colleagues and the business community?

Although probably not the case, if designed to do more damage, what motivates Mr Granovsky to make such a bold move?  Why now?

If designed to mitigate Mr Kononenko’s image, is this a false flag incident created to deflect some near horizon allegations against Mr Kononenko insofar as it will be held up as evidence that his name is misused and/or spuriously attacked over events he will claim he has no involvement in (whether he does or not)?

If it be the latter and this is a preparatory false flag, what scandal is upon the immediate Kononeko horizon that requires such theatre?

It is of course possible that Mr Granovsky thinks it is simply a fun story that people should know about – but Mr Granovsky is a clever man and is simply not that oblivious to the perceptions and the questions that arise by making this affair public.

Something about this just doesn’t seem right.  Perhaps all will become clearer fairly soon.


Command & Control – or criminality? A policing tragedy Ukraine

December 4, 2016

The early hours of 4th December witnessed what prima facie appears to be the worst self-inflicted policing tragedy that has resulted in loss of life in Ukraine since the beginning of policing reforms.

6 law enforcement officers from various units are dead – and the official statements thus far indicate that they managed to shoot each other, whilst those they went to arrest for serious crimes were eventually arrested having fled the scene.

The media space, both main stream and social is rapidly filling up with legitimate questions as well as the usual “experts” of the armchair variety despite internal MIA, National Police and Prosecutor’s Office inquiries having only just begun and having released little information publicly.

Ergo, much of what is written thus far is supposition, informed guesswork or in most cases complete nonsense.

The President has called for a full investigation and for those responsible to be held to criminal account.  A murder investigation is under way.  Whether murder ultimately proves to be the correct and most fitting criminal charge remains to be seen – and to be blunt be it murder, manslaughter, or criminal negligence in operational planning does not have any effect upon how the investigation should be carried out.  Such serious crime is systemic in how it is investigated.

It is currently unclear how CORD, CID and police protection units all managed to be shooting at each other – or whether in fact the criminals CORD went after did any shooting either.  They were arrested having fled the scene with firearms.

Naturally most attention is upon apportioning blame – yet just as important for the future is identifying what went wrong and insuring that procedures for operational planning are amended to prevent any re-occurrence.  Even if the SOPs are proven to be first rate and yet have been ignored either negligently and/or recklessly, there is still a need to reappraise protocols and perhaps insert additional “authorities” required to launch such an operation.

Thus it is a matter of reassessing “text book” operational protocol, the “authorities” required to execute one, notwithstanding the briefing, recording and debriefing of every officer from every operation.

To be honest the “text book” varies from nation to nation, and all provide for operational circumstances allowing for a certain limited amount of discretion.  Some things however remain (fairly) constant.

Having made an operational decision to make arrests in a certain manner – on the street, a “hard stop” in vehicle, or at a premises thereafter every operation begins with a briefing.

The briefing includes all of those that need to be briefed – even if they are not directly involved in a firearms operation.  The local police commanders from all policing branches who may have their rank and file inadvertently wandering “on plot”, or who may be running an operation of their own and/or have good reason to be “on” or very close to “the plot”, or who may have to provide an outer cordon to keep the public out or deal with a concerned citizenry when guns are heard being discharged etc.  Obviously the control room of the local police station has to be managed to deal with all such local issues.  Ambulance and perhaps fire chiefs too.

Many an operation has been blown by differing agencies inadvertently getting in each others way and many hundreds of man hours wasted – yet when armed personnel are anticipating coming up against known violent and armed suspects the potential consequences clearly can result in a loss of more than surveillance hours.

This particular incident prima facie displays a spectacular failure in planning and/or the resulting operational briefing.  If there is a reason not to include some in an operational briefing, then reason need be given to justify it and be recorded.

All those briefed are recorded in the operation log – even if they are not subject to the entire operational briefing when it comes to the intricacies of  the plan for tactical firearms execution.

In the case of this tragic incident, the “plot” is a house and would/should have an armed cordon put around it, generally as covertly in its insertion as possible, so that the armed observing officers forming the cordon can “feature off”.

What is “featuring off”?


The sides of a structure (in this case a house) are given a colour.  White for the front, black for the back, green for the left and red for the right – or whatever colours are standard for “featuring off” in any particular nation.

White is generally associated with being the front of the premises.

“Featuring off” then commences.  For example, White 1.1 is the front door.  White 1.2 is a bay window to the left of the front door.  White 1.3 is a bay window to the right of the front door.  White 1.4 is the garage door etc.

Upstairs, White 2.1 is a large window on the left.  White 2.2 is a large window to the right.  White 3.1 is the next floor and so on.

So it goes on around the entire building until all colours have identified all features on their side.

The point of this is so that everybody knows what is on each side of the house and if an officer calls “Light on Black 2.2” – everybody, be they in the containment cordon but cannot see Black 2.2, or the commander who may not even see the house but be sat in a control room, also knows where a light has just come on.  Likewise “Curtains closed White 1.2” lets all know somebody has just closed the curtains downstairs in the room to the left of the front door.

Further “Female, red hair Black 2.2”, lets all know that either a suspect (if identified) or a known resident, or an unknown, is upstairs in the room to the right if the door is about to be put through.  The door and internal searches and/or arrests are not carried out by those in the cordon, for the cordon exists to (hopefully) catch those escaping.

The result is anybody should be able to draw a basic elevation of any side of a structure based upon “featuring off” and track occurrences seen through any windows etc.

A reader gets the point.

Further such “featuring off” is recorded in the operation log together with any observations of movement, and the ID of the officer “featuring off” and/or observing on that side.  The operation log also records any decisions (and by whom) made during the execution of the operation.

“Featuring off” also helps when it comes to not shooting your own, for those on the cordon will identify their location to all via “the clock”.  Thus 7 o’clock is White slightly left of centre.  11 o’clock is Black slightly left of centre.  3’o’clock is centre of red and 8 o’clock is green slightly lower than centre etc.

Having scribbled down the featuring off as a cordon officer, it is not difficult to thereafter plot the location of your colleagues.   “Officer 1234, 1 o’clock, Black 1.1 60 meters”  would tell all that Officer 1234 is at 1’oclack, which is on the Black elevation and that he/she is 60 meters from feature Black 1.1.

Once every operation is completed, there is a “hot debrief” immediately afterward and a cold debrief some time later – both involving all in the initial briefing.

Lessons are still to be learned even from the seemingly most successful and slick operations.  Those lessons are shared across all regions.  And so it goes on.  Every success and every failure has something to teach those charged with the arrest and detention of the most violent of criminality – and also those that support their operations.

Naturally there are incidents that do not provide for the best of preparation – however the protocol is the protocol and even if ad hoc to begin with, sufficient resources should be activated to adopt the “text book” as swiftly as possible – if possible.  Those with the level of “authorities” within protocols are generally far harder to convince that something needs to be done “today” without sufficient planning if nothing is to be lost by way of life and/or the loss of significant evidence by taking the time to plan properly.  Careers ending and/or criminal responsibility that may result is meant to concentrate the mind.

This very brief (standard) outline of something that will probably have a reasonable resemblance to Ukrainian protocols (albeit it will not be exact).  It is therefore likely to be close to the benchmark that this tragic operational outcome will have to be measured.  Errors have most certainly been made.  There are definitely lessons to be learned.  Most certainly a full review of protocols and the “authorities” within will have to occur.  There may well be disciplinary matters regardless of any criminal culpability at the end of internal reviews and the prosecutor’s investigation.  It is vital that placing the blame on somebody does not prevent all of this from happening if such a seemingly self-inflicted tragedy is to be avoided again.

For now, given the currently limited official discourse a reader is left to ponder whether this tragedy is a result of poor command and control, criminality – or both.


The EU Parliament sounds the alarm on propaganda……and?

November 23, 2016

There is far too much commentary, too many resolutions, and too statements that contain the word “must”.

This blog deliberately gives the word “must” a very wide berth, employing its use more than frugally.

The problem with “must” is that it infers consequences if whatever “must” be done, isn’t.

“Russia must…..”

“The democratic world must…..”

“We must stop……..”

“The EU must…….”

In short, a “must” has to be accompanied with an “or else”.

There is the “must” when talking to the collective “us” and/or “self” that highlights the folly of not carrying out the “must” with an “or else” that is advisory in pleasant terms, informing “us” that we have to adapt our position to avoid self-inflicted and counterproductive outcomes.

There is then the “must” that is imposing on the “other” with a necessary and proportionately punitive “or else” to avoid being impotent – and ultimately humiliating when it is otherwise ignored through lack of an “or else” that would cause a change of position.

Far too many “must”‘s in the poker game have been called by antagonists and when the “or else” has been played it has been dis-proportionally meek, has done little to change behaviour, and has not seen the “or else” raised to the point of punitive proportionality to reverse it.

Far too many internal “must”‘s have seen no shift in the “us” and/or “self” position either.

Lo, it is time to employ the word “must” much more prudently if the “or else”, whilst perhaps all that is politically possible, simply isn’t up to it.


It is therefore something of a relief to find an EU parliamentary press release relating to Russian (and Daesh) propaganda that does not use the word “must” (although the actual Resolution may, unseen at the time of writing) – as many Resolutions historically do freely use “must” relating to these two purveyors of international criminality, spurious nonsense, perverted narratives, and incoherent and disingenuous flapdoodle.

As this blog centres upon Ukraine, a target of enormous amounts of Kremlin propaganda codswallop (hidden among which are some clearly identifiable reflexive control operations), the text relating to Russia is the more poignant:

“Russia seeks to divide MEPs warn that the Kremlin has stepped up its propaganda against EU since annexing Crimea and waging hybrid war in the Donbass. They note that ”the Russian government is employing a wide range of tools and instruments, such as think tanks […], multilingual TV stations (e.g. Russia Today), pseudo-news agencies and multimedia services (e.g. Sputnik) […], social media and internet trolls, to challenge democratic values, divide Europe, gather domestic support and create the perception of failed states in the EU’s eastern neighbourhood”. The resolution stresses that the “Kremlin is funding political parties and other organisations within the EU” and deplores “Russian backing of anti-EU forces” such as extreme-right parties and populist forces.

To counteract anti-EU campaigns, MEPs suggest investing in awareness raising, education, online and local media, investigative journalism and information literacy, which would empower citizens to analyse media content critically. It is equally important to adapt communication to specific regions, including access to information in local languages, says the text. The resolution also suggests deepening EU and NATO cooperation on strategic communication, reinforcing the EU’s 9-strong strategic communication task force and providing more support to boost media resilience in EU neighbourhood countries.”

The Resolution was passed by 304 votes “for”, some 179 votes “against” and 208 abstentions.

“Must” has been replaced with “suggest” for ease of “us” to internally digest, for it is an inward looking Resolution.

(Unfortunately the term “hybrid war” remains – another term disliked by the blog.  No doubt the term “Alt Right” will soon be used instead of unambiguous words such as “Nationalist” or “Fascist” too, in order to make something prickly and uncomfortable appear somehow less barbed and normalising.  To be clear, objectivity is giving all a fair hearing, but it does not equate to creating some form of media driven false moral equivalence or normalising of uncivil and/or illegal behaviour. Things that are prickly and uncomfortable are by their nature prickly and uncomfortable and should be plainly identified as such.  There is no requirement for new and more “comfy” labels.)

So now what?

There is far too much Kremlin generated “propaganda noise” to mute or rebuff it all, regardless of well meaning MEP suggestions.

Perhaps some nations may decide to improve or simply apply their broadcasting standards to remove the drivel Russia Today pumps out from their licensed providers.  Others may not.  (Some of what Russia Today pumps out is actually quite funny – whether intended or otherwise).  Perhaps the argument against is that it is also on line anyway – so what is to be gained by removing it from the airwaves?  Theoretically it is possible to accidentally flick through your TV channels and find Russia Today and mistake its content for “news” – if the viewer has the IQ of a plant pot.  On line you have to go look for it deliberately, no different from porn, or puppy weaning tips, or Ed Balls’ “Strictly Come Dancing” highlights (or perhaps low-lights).

Perhaps consistent and large fines for breaching broadcasting standards are a way forward.  Maybe if Russia Today consistently fails to meet the broadcasting standards set by domestic governments who are too feeble to enforce their own broadcasting laws to the fullest extent for want of the widest possible tolerance for “free speech” then, as with twitter, Russian Today can be required to clearly label itself a parody news source as parody accounts on twitter must clearly state that they are such – or be removed.

More seriously however, the suggestions of MEPs have merit, but they are not going to see swift implementation even if the suggestions are taken on board by national governments.  The suggestions are probably very similar to those that national governments have already reached themselves, or have had identified for them from other domestic sources.  They are also, rightly, designed for the long haul but few, if any suggestions will have an immediate impact.

For some governments the priority will be the reflexive control signals within the general propaganda noise that clearly targets them.  Therefore focused, timely, objective and controlled countermeasures will take priority over more integrated broader responses.

Investigative journalism is a fine tool – but it is an expensive tool for a media owner, and there is no guarantee that investigative journalism will “naturally stumble upon” an investigation that would further the cause of pushing back the Kremlin narrative and/or machinery when it comes to nefarious activities within their own nation – or get the attention of the population.  Will 3 (or in some cases 4) letter agencies have to “whisper in journalistic ears” to assist in “direction”?

Is that necessary when targeting existing national laws regarding money laundering and/or organised crime would garner immediate media interest when numerous arrests are made and/or assets seized in a home nation?

What sort of media impact would there be if each and every European nation coordinated a round-up of 3 Kremlin spies at the same time on the same day?  Reciprocity would follow within Russia, so is that worthwhile?

What is the necessary “immediate impact” verses “long term education” ratio required to focus public opinion?

If the EU is perceived as weak (by those within or without) and thus Kremlin propaganda is a real threat, then what assessments have been made on those weaknesses and what can be done to strengthen them – if anything?  When the Cold War raged, both sides were very aware of their own, and the others, structural and ideological weaknesses.  That is surely true of today – for the strengths and weaknesses of both are no less apparent.

If this is the start of a European parliamentary review of what thus far has been a principled refusal to learn from experience when it comes to The Kremlin then bravo – yet it will not be in any way effective unless the sovereign parts within the European whole are convinced that the political energy required to actually do something is political energy well spent.

Nevertheless – no “must” seemingly acknowledges the anticipated limitations within the “us”/”self” when it comes to any actual implementation.


Ministry of Interior – The Deeva story (who benefits?)

November 13, 2016

A little scandal has broken in the Ukrainian media regarding the appointment of 24 year old Anastasia Deeva as Deputy Minister for European Integration for the Ministry of the Interior.


Mrs Deeva has been working within the Ministry of Interior for a number of years since EuroMaidan/Revolution of Dignity, being closely associated with the outstanding Eka Zguladze during her tenure.  Indeed under such tutelage Mrs Deeva cannot fail to have both worked very hard and also become very competent at what she does.

During that time there was no public scandal surrounding Mrs Deeva or her work.

No publicly aired problems were seemingly forthcoming from her previous tenure as an assistant to former Party of Regions deputies Leonid Kozhara and Elena Nemockoy (working under her maiden name of Shalko – she married in May 2016).  No issues were raised with her departure to Scandinavia whilst the dust settled in the post Regionaire aftermath of 2014, nor her return.


Her time in Scandanavia was apparently spent on “green” issues prior to her return to Ukraine and working once again within the organs of power in Kyiv.

Since her appointment within the MIA as Deputy for European Integration a few days ago however, the media environment surrounding her has rightly worsened.

Immediately a number of provocative and revealing photographs became public.


The above, of those released, is the only one that with certainty does not break any service provider rules for this blog.  (It also contains a Klimt print on the wall and the blog appreciates Klimt.)

Putting aside wry, sarcastic commentary regarding the Ukrainian civil service seemingly going to extraordinary lengths of transparency if such photographs be a guide, this blog will take the position that such photographs are in no way a reason for preventing any such appointment – and neither are they reason for dismissal.

In fact, when it comes to kompromat/blackmail, they are far better out in the open than used as a nefarious lever over Mrs Deeva.  No matter how uncomfortable this may be for Mrs Deeva now, it is short lived in comparison to an ever-hanging Sword of Damocles.

There are however issues that cannot be allowed to slide regarding the nature of her appointment and the due diligence surrounding an individual that probably has had, and will have access to sensitive information and partake in sensitive dialogue within and without Ukraine from time to time.

There are laws and rules of procedure regarding the appointment of civil servants that came into force in May 2015 – and these seem to have been willfully disregarded in the case of Mrs Deeva’s appointment.  This in a ministry that is key to upholding the rules and laws of the land.

Excuses – there are none.


Aside from a blatant disregard for the new statutory selection processes, there is a curriculum vitae that if genuine is blatantly erroneous and that should have been caught by any HR department when sifting such material – not to mention having raised flags for any relevant clearances regarding access to classified material (if any were done).    (Considering Mrs Deeva is now only 24, a declared ten year professional career within the halls of governance is clearly wrong – unless child labour is something entertained within the Verkhovna Rada.)

There are then matters of very expensive wardrobes (Luis Vitton etc) that do not fit comfortably a very modest e-declaration of a junior civil servant’s career.

Tempting as it is to make Mrs Deeva the story, there are perhaps more important questions to be asked and answered.

All in all, a very poor display by one of the “power ministries” has been brought to light through the seemingly illegitimate appointment of Mrs Deeva and the subsequent release of information about her to the Ukrainian media which then ran the story.

A reader may question whether the Interior Ministry actually requires a Deputy for European Integration, the position to which Mrs Deeva has been appointed, when there has been nothing short of direct inward assistance within that ministry for 2 years from the UK, USA, Canada, Japan, and several European nations – planning, financial, training, mentoring, equipping etc.  The Interior Ministry has been a point of focused and direct effort.

A more interesting question is perhaps why has Interior Minister Arsen Avakov allowed himself to be compromised so easily?  And why over such a quibbling matter?

Mr Avakov sits atop the only “power ministry” not controlled by a presidential loyalist.  That there would be no tears shed upon replacing him with a presidential loyalist would seem assured – if only good reason could be found to do so.  Needless scandals over such appointments should be something Mr Avakov is therefore particularly keen to avoid – yet complete disregard for laws and procedures occurred of which both the Interior Ministry nor he are in no position to claim they were not aware.

Why then was this risk taken?  As always, the first question is who benefits?

What was in it for Arsen Avakov to make such a decision?  How did he believe he would benefit?

Now this sorry tale has rightly grabbed the headlines, how can he mitigate the outcome?  Can Mrs Deeva be saved within his ministry, and with it the experience she undoubtedly gleaned from Eka Zguladze?  Obviously her retention in her recently appointed position is now untenable, but her retention within the ministry may yet be possible if she is considered worth fighting for vis a vis any continued political damage to Arsen Avakov should he try to do so.

If Mr Avakov jettisons her, how lasting the political damage that he has sustained?

Do the political wolves at the Interior Ministry door consider this needlessly self-inflicted debacle sufficient to force Mr Avakov out?  If so, and in calling out a coalition partner’s bluff, would the People’s Front really sacrifice their political future by leaving the coalition and the inevitable early Verkhovna Rada elections that would follow over the future of Mr Avakov – or not?

A needless mess.


The Reflex(ive Control)

November 6, 2016

Having just engaged in a chat over “old school” issues, today’s entry will be retro too – for it seems what is retro to this blog remains (unbelievably) a new discovery to others in this information age.

Do any readers remember Duran Duran?  (It’s OK to admit it.)

How about a song called The Reflex?

“Oh the reflex what a game, he’s hiding all the cards
The reflex is in charge of finding treasure in the dark
And watching over lucky clover, isn’t that bizarre?
Every little thing the reflex does leaves you answered with a question mark”

If that was not contemporary commentary through art then – perhaps it is now.

Whilst regressing a reader’s memory, there may be a few among that number who recall the launch of a Russian journal called “Reflexive Processes and Control” (launched around 2001).

It was not a journal for scientists simply producing material on a fringe issue to swallow Russian governmental funding.  It was a journal with a heavyweight editorial council (not editorial board).  That editorial council contained members of the diplomatic corps, the Russian Federation Security Council and FAPSI (the federal agency for government communications).  The subject was also far from a fringe subject within Kremlin thinking.

Certainly the “Cold War Warriors” on either side of the trenches are well aware of Reflexive Control.  Even if recollections may occasionally be faded and/or tinted with a hint of nostalgia (among other failings), what is witnessed today cannot help but give cause to reminisce.

The Soviet Union began to experiment with the concept of Reflexive Control in the late 1960s – albeit a concept that took a while to gain traction within both military and government.  Eventually however traction was found in both military and civil quarters.  For those readers wishing to delve further into its proponents during development, on the military side the names Druzhinin, Ionov and Leonenko would be a suitable starting point.  On the civil/governance side then Schedrovitsky, Lepsky, Burkov and Lefebvre were prominent.

Data digital flow

A reader will rightly deduce that Reflexive Control therefore has both military and civil uses.  It also has both human and computer uses – for the objective of Reflexive Control is to influence decision making.  That in the contemporary world can be human decision making or that of AI.

A reader may also note a distinctive difference between western framing and perception management and that of Reflexive Control.  As the name suggests Reflexive Control seeks to control rather than manage perceptions and decision making.

Reflexive Control, at its most basic, is a process where one party seeks to transmit, predominantly by means of maskerovka and disinformation, a line of reasoning and/or logic that effects another party’s decision making – thus allowing the possibility for the first party to control the decision making process of the second party.

That control does not necessarily mean that the first party can control the second party sufficiently into making “decision x”, but that control may designed to interfere with the decision making process so as to avoid “decision x” being made.  (Thus it is sometimes a matter of insuring the other side makes decisions that insure they do not win, even if we can’t win).

Staying clear of the battlefield tactical military uses of Reflexive Control, and also regarding its abilities to interfere with relation to AI decision processing, a reader perhaps now ponders Reflexive Control within the parameters and framework of social media and MSM for example.

If Reflexive Control within this arena relies upon the ability to best predict the thoughts and behaviour of “the other side” then psyops and maskerovka within the Reflexive Control matrix become clear.

In the 1990’s distraction, information overload (sending huge amounts of often contradictory information), paralysis, exhaustion, division, deception, pacification, deterrence, provocation, suggestion and pressure had all been identified as the core intellectual pieces in an effective Reflexive Control operation in the information warfare arena by Russia – numerous public articles stated as much.

Thus what is seen today is nothing new and not an innovation that should have caught anybody by surprise by way of methodology employed.

The current Kremlin trend of providing an incomplete or erroneous interpretation of events and attempting to pass it on to both a western and domestic audience is not new.

Attempts to create a goal for the other party in which they act favourably to The Kremlin narrative (for example attempts to entice the US into a joint mission in Syria) are not new.

Feigning weakness to create a different narrative is not new (fortress Russia surrounded by NATO, when geography simply discounts the possibility to surround Russia).

The setting of the stage to imply to the other side one course of action and then carrying out another is not new.  (For example the Minsk process or the “Syrian withdrawal”, or the prima facie aim of supporting Mr Trump – which has less to do with Mr Trump winning and much more to do with the lasting undermining the US political system across the political board.  In fact, should Mr Trump win and prove to be far less destructive to US interests as some fear/expect, perhaps a GOP and/or Trump email/kompromat dump would follow if destabilising and undermining the system is the operational goal. .)

The projection of a false self-perception and/or decision making process for the digestion of the “other” – and accepting the increased risks this may have – is not new.

The control by a third party over a bilateral party and/or proxy (be they attributable or plausibly deniable) did not end with the Cold War within the FSU geography or internally of Russia itself – what goes on today is also not new.

Eventually the term Reflexive Control will return to mainstream discourse – though it is not new.

If and when it does, should Duran Duran re-release “The Reflex”, for younger readers, that too is not new!




The CEC and electoral reform

October 2, 2016

The current composition of the Central Election Committee (CEC) will once again become a political issue in this parliamentary term – and rightly for it has long since past its legal term remit (or at least 12 of the 15 members had terms that expired in 2014).

However, despite any and all the political rhetoric that will surround the CEC issue prior to the year end, it seems extremely unlikely that those who currently compose the current CEC will be changed or be given new mandates.

Firstly the budget and other legislative matters will simply take priority.  Thus it follows that the issue will (once again) be put on the back-burner.  Sometime in early 2017 would appear to be the most hopeful (perhaps even fanciful) time frame when it will be addressed.   Secondly a reader may question any real political desire to actually do anything about changing the current CEC composition, providing doubt that early 2017 is indeed realistic.

As is always the case in Ukraine far too much attention will be given to who is put forward for the CEC positions rather than the institution, its role, and the legislation that it is charged with implementing and overseeing – and that legislation is certainly poor.


Without going into unnecessary detail of the proposed candidates for the new CEC, the names of which are more or less already known, it is abundantly clear that the Presidential Administration is not keen upon any names put forward by The People’s Front, Radical Party, Opposition Block or Batkivshchyna.  They in turn will therefore not vote for any nominations of the presidential party.

Further consultations will naturally occur, albeit there will certainly be no rush to achieve a compromise.  What matters is not really the names but the political balance within any new CEC – at least under current legislation.

There are now also attempts to link the CEC nominations to a broader process that would include the expired terms of the majority of the Audit Chamber as well as the vacant “Chair” of at least 6 Verhovna Rada committees.

Therefore grubby deals behind the curtain may well reach agreement where it will prove easier to change the legislation to produce an unbalanced CEC than it will be to produced a politically balanced one under the laws that currently exist through appointment trade-offs elsewhere.

That being so, it is the institution, institutional processes, and accountability that will matter far more than those names that will (eventually) form the CEC.

What matters far more than the composition of a new CEC are changes to the poor electoral laws over which the CEC preside.

Lengthy is the rhetoric regarding a fully proportional representation system.  Equally as long and tired is the rhetoric regarding open party lists.

Innumerable are the conversations this blog has held with various parliamentarians over these issues – and it is here that the rhetoric clearly will remain just that for some time to come – for such electoral legislative change would appear to suit only the Ukrainian voting constituency.  It is difficult to see any benefits for the current self-serving feckless political class.  Thus these issues will be kicked into the very long debate/discussion, lots of talk, no walk, grass.

Firstly, speaking to several MPs that hold single mandate (first past the post) constituency seats, there is no desire among them to vote to move to a fully proportional voting system.  Many are very content within the single mandate cocoon that provides them with far more wiggle room to buck the party line because they are not dependent upon being placed highly on a party list for reelection.  Yet further, they are also free from having to play handmaiden and spew forth unreserved faux subservience to whichever party functionaries are placed in charge of election campaigns.

It follows therefore that across party lines many single mandate parliamentarians are not going to rush to vote for a fully proportionate electoral system – particularly when many currently do not have to pay a lot of cash for the privilege of a position high enough on a party list to insure reelection.  As half the Verkhovna Rada is comprised of single mandate parliamentarians, the problematic issues are self-evident.

This brings a reader to the issue of party lists and the long promised fully open party lists.

Party lists have not been open for several reasons.

The first is that party leaders simply do not want to give up control over who gets elected from a party list.

Secondly they do not want to surrender the huge sums of money paid to be placed highly enough on a party list to be assured election.

Thirdly they do not want to have their power lessened by their party parliamentarians having been elected by popular vote individually, rather than the party arbitrarily listing highly those (normally corrupt, old school cronies) in an order that insures the party favourites (and not necessarily the public’s preferred candidates) reach the Verkhovna Rada.  With individual and personal public mandate from a party list the parliamentarian is simply less constrained under the leader’s yoke, similar to the single mandate party parliamentarian.

Thus whilst it is entirely reasonable to assume a new CEC will (eventually by hook, crook, and grubby deals involving appointments in other entities) probably arrive at some stage in 2017, it is far more unlikely that any legislative changes to the electoral laws will occur before the next Verkhovna Rada elections – whether they be early or as envisaged by term completion.

Some readers will state that the Verhovna Rada has far more pressing legislative matters to address anyway – perhaps they are right too.  Nevertheless when elections are once again upon Ukraine and the predicable lamenting of an unfit legislative framework is once again to the fore, the reasons for failure to change them will be the same then as they are now.


In the meantime, a reader is wrongly encouraged by far too many to concentrate attention upon the “who” in any new CEC composition rather than its institutional processes and accountability, or the poor electoral legislation it is meant to oversee.

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