human rights

Ukraine leader’s wealth grows despite war, economic woes

By Dmitry ZaksOctober 30, 2015 2:16 PM

AFP

Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine, addresses the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly September 29, 2015 in New York
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Kiev (AFP) – The value of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s assets soared despite economic crisis and conflict while those of other tycoons shrank in an annual wealth list published Friday.

The 50-year-old Western-backed president’s business empire ranges from chocolates to media holdings still under his control.

Friday’s independent Novoye Vremya weekly showed the Ukrainian leader — often criticised for failing to curb the political powers of fellow tycoons — ranked as the country’s sixth-richest man.

His assets reportedly rose by 20 percent to $979 million (889 million euros) — only just supporting his claim he is no longer a billionaire.

Poroshenko retains control of a top TV channel and has failed to follow through on his promise to sell off his Roshen chocolate empire due to a lack of foreign interest and a dearth of rich-enough investors in Ukraine itself.

The president’s official spokesman did not pick up his phone when contacted repeatedly by AFP.

“Poroshenko’s (wealth) rose thanks to the rise in value of his candy business that — even in the midst of the deepest of crises — is developing quickly, building new capacities and conquering new markets,” the weekly said.

The wealth list is topped by metals magnate Rinat Akhmetov.

The 49-year-old Akhmetov is a controversial figure accused by some local media of impeding Poroshenko’s efforts to halt the 18-month war in the pro-Russian east.

Novoye Vremya said Akhmetov’s fortunes had plunged by 56 percent to $4.5 billion due in part to the sharp recent fall in global commodity prices.

Poroshenko’s sworn political foe and banking giant Igor Kolomoyskiy came in third with an estimated fortune of $1.9 billion.

The 52-year-old grey-bearded and fiercely outspoken figure finds himself in the peculiar position of being at odds with both Kiev and Moscow.

Russia’s state media accuse him of funding Ukrainian neo-Nazi combat units that commit grave crimes in the separatist east.

Poroshenko’s fight against Kolomoyskiy began with efforts to strip him of his indirect control of a state-owned oil company and culminated in the businessman losing his seat as governor of the industrially important Dnipropetrovsk region in March.

Kolomoyskiy’s wealth reportedly slipped by 17 percent due to the country’s financial woes.

All the others in the top 10 also lost money in the year since the last Novoye Vremya poll.

Ukraine’s economy is on track to shrink by about 12 percent this year and only return to marginal growth should the eastern campaign end in 2016.

– ‘No benefit to president’ –

Poroshenko promotes himself as a Western-style businessman who built his empire from the ground up and kept to transparency standards that most others simply ignored.

Many of Ukraine’s other mega-rich scooped up their holdings at cut-price rates in pre-arranged privatisation deals in which which they rewarded the government by funding its parliamentary parties and campaigning for them in the media.

But analysts said Poroshenko’s reputation may still suffer for being the only one of the country’s already-despised oligarchs to profit while presiding over Ukraine’s worst crisis since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

“This will not benefit the president’s ratings or help improve Ukraine’s image as a nation run by oligarchs,” Vadym Karasyov of Kiev’s Institute of Global Strategies told AFP.

“The world views Ukraine as a poor country with a super-rich minority,” Karasyov said.

Ukraine in 1990 – how we managed to devide from the USSR

The student’s Revolution on the granite in Kyiv in 1990… Further it became a reason for the ukrainian government not to sign the new agreement for the “NEW USSR”… It was the first victory of the democracy in Ukraine… There were three democtratic revolutions in Ukraine during 1990-2015, but due to the nature tolerance and peaceful character of ukrainian people the country is still under the power of former system… Only this year 2015 the law against communist symbols was passed, many members of the today’s government are “from the USSR” communists leaders… What ukrainians want? – They want to change their big country in a peaceful way… Who are against this? – The Russian leaders, the most memebers of the today’s government “from the former USSR”… Does the Ukraine has the chance for changes? – Yes, ukrainians are one of the most peaceful nations, but they love the freedome most of all… And now they struggle for the democracy in their peaceful way…

GEORGIA #080808 WE REMEMBER – DEVOTED TO THE RUSSIAN AGRESSION TO GEORGIA IN AUGUST 2008

georgia08

This film made by Ia Barateli is about Russian war on the territory of orthodox Georgia in 2008.  From it you can get to know about russian agression in 2008. How it can be in 21th century? 2008 – Georgia… 2014-2015 – Ukraine…Who will be next? … Are you still silent?!!!

2015 08 07 Mikheil Saakashvili

Звернення грузинською мовою у зв’язку з 7 – річчям вторгнення 100 – тисячної російської армії в Грузію.

Пізно ввечері 7 серпня 2008 року після отримання неспростовних даних про проникнення масових колон російської бронетехніки через Рокський тунель на територію Грузії і після багатьох днів обстрілу з контрольованою російськими офіцерами та їх місцевими найманцями, мирних жителів, я прийняв рішення направити грузинську армію для перехоплення російських сил і зупинки їх просування. У перші ж години бійці 4-ої бригади під командуванням генерала Каланадзе підбили колону російських танків і важко поранили командуючого російської 58-ої армії, генерала Хрулева. Після цього росіяни підняли в повітря більше 200 літаків і вертольотів, і стали масово бомбити всю територію Грузії. Завдяки поставленої Україною ППО, ми підбили 14 літальних апаратів, після чого запас ракет системи Бук вичерпався. Після кількох днів героїчного опору, і щоб уникнути оточення, наші війська почали відходити на захист столиці, а росіяни отримали наказ рушити на столицю для повалення мого уряду. У цей час сотні тисяч тбілісців вийшли на вулиці та в умовах загрози розбомбити мирний мітинг в центрі Тбілісі, відмовилися залишати вулиці і безперервно протестували проти агресії. Кличем тих днів стало: «Грузія ніколи не здається». У Тбілісі прилетіли лідери європейських країн, включаючи Президента України, і встали з народом. В результаті такої єдності і загальної міжнародної підтримки, особливо після оголошення США військової гуманітарної операції в підтримку грузинської демократії, Путін був змушений зупинитись біля кордонів Тбілісі. Не дивлячись на захоплення додаткових шматків нашій території, Росія не могла вирішити жодне із своїх стратегічних завдань. Грузія продовжувала розвиватися, Євросоюз оголосив про створення програми “Східного партнерства”, практично ніхто не визнав захоплення території.

Сьогодні ця боротьба продовжується в Україні. Начальник штабу 58-ої арміі воює на Донбасі, а генерал Каламадзе допомагає готувати українських захисників. Спільними зусиллями ми доведемо цю боротьбу до перемоги.

Обращение на грузинском языке в связи с 7-летием вторжения 100-тысячной российской армии в Грузию.

Поздно вечером 7 августа 2008 года после получения неопровержимых данных о проникновении массовых колон российской бронетехники через Рокский тоннель на территорию Грузии и после многих дней обстрела с контролируемой российскими офицерами и их местными наёмниками, мирных жителей, я принял решение двинуть грузинскую армию для перехвата российских сил и остановки их продвижения. В первые же часы бойцы 4-ой бригады под командованием генерала Каланадзе подбили колонну российских танков и тяжело ранили командующего российской 58-ой армии, генерала Хрулева. После этого россияне подняли в воздух более 200 самолетов и вертолетов, и стали массово бомбить всю территорию Грузии. Благодаря поставленной Украиной ПВО, мы подбили 14 летательных аппаратов, после чего запас ракет системы Бук у нас иссяк. После нескольких дней героического сопротивления и дабы избежать окружения, наши войска стали отходить на защиту столицы, а россияне получили приказ двинуться на столицу для свержения моего правительства. В это время сотни тысяч тбилисцев вышли на улицы и в условиях угрозы разбомбить мирный митинг в центре Тбилиси отказались покидать улицы и беспрерывно протестовали против агрессии. Кличем тех дней стало: «Грузия никогда не сдастся». В Тбилиси прилетели лидеры европейских стран, включая Президента Украины, и встали с народом. В результате такого единства и всеобщей международной поддержки, особенно после объявления США военной гуманитарной операции в поддержку грузинской демократии, Путин был вынужден остановится на подступах Тбилиси. Не смотря на захват дополнительных кусков нашей территории, Россия не могла решить ни одной из своих стратегических задач. Грузия продолжала развиваться, Евросоюз объявил о создании программы “Восточного партнерства”, практически никто не признал захват территории.

Сегодня эта борьба продолжается в Украине. Начальник штаба 58-ой армии воюет на Донбассе, а генерал Каланадзе помогает готовить украинских защитников. Совместными усилиями мы доведем эту борьбу до победного конца.

 

Nobody panic – Valeriy Pekar

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2014/07/25 • Valeriy Pekar, for UP (http://www.pravda.com.ua)

Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina for http://euromaidanpress.com/

In detail and without panic on the internal political situation: the Parliament, the Government, the President and reforms.

Below all the words will be written in lowercase – this is incorrect, however it will make reading much easier.

1. Let’s start with the parliament. There is no alternative to disbanding the parliament.

This parliament does not reflect the post-Maidan social reality, in particular: the 180 made from dictatorship to republic, the emergence of a responsible and demanding civic society, war with a strong enemy, the objective necessity and the subjective desire for cardinal reforms, the people’s strive to tear away from their Soviet past, the speed-up of the formation of a political nation.

This parliament is full of titushky, political titushky, direct and overt enemies of Ukraine, traitors, oligarchs’ drivers and bodyguards, Kremlin agents etc.

Over half of the members of this parliament voted in support of the draconian laws on January 16th. This is sufficient to dismiss this parliament and elect a new one.

One of Maidan’s categorical demands was a full reboot of power: the government, the president, the parliament. The third stage of this process has come. There is no reason to step away from the demands that Maidan stood for and the Heaven’s Sotnya died.

The war will not interfere with the elections. What is more, now “the owners of Donbas” have to quickly get involved in kicking the mercenaries out, for the elections to be held there as well and for them to have representation in the parliament. If we are to claim that “the elections will happen after the war is over,” the war will go on forever.

There will be money for the elections. Fair governance (I don’t want to use the yellowing word “democracy”) is more important than money, as if there is no fair governance, then there is no money either. If the members of the parliament had passed at least one of the essential anti-corruption acts, then much more money than the elections require would have been released.

2. Reforms. Reforms are necessary: confident, complex, deep. There is no alternative: if there are no reforms, the country will simply fall to pieces. Everyone is obviously weary of this word. But there have been no real reforms yet, only talk.

Without anti-corruption reforms all the suffering and deaths would be in vain, and everything will be stolen yet again.

Without the tax reform, there will be no economical growth, welfare and employment.

Without the reform of court and the police, there will be new cases of Vradiyivka all around the country and a new social explosion, a horrible one.

Without the education reform we will become a third-world country, without any hopes. Without the reform of local governments nothing will change in towns and villages.

Usually people are scared of change and regard future reforms with caution. But we, as a country and a people, are going through such challenges, that an understanding is being cultivated within us: we have to fill up our lungs with air and plunge into this cold water, as there is no other choice anymore.

Society is approaching a critical limit of readiness to radical change. This will not last long: the window of opportunity opens and closes after some time. We have to take advantage of the chance, and break with the Ukrainian tradition of wasting chances. We have taken advantage of many opportunities in the last 8 months, therefore we have learned.

3. The president. Don’t ask whether he wants reforms or not. This is unimportant. It is important that he understands: he has no other choice as a politician. He definitely does not want to leave preemptively as a result of a social explosion or be remembered as the last president, God forbid.

As opposed to the members of the parliament, which may be up to their dirty tricks and return at the next elections, the president has no such chances. Therefore we have an ardent supporter of reform in the president’s person. It is not certain that he has enough necessary qualities, but he will definitely have enough will. He has the ambition to be remembered in history as a Ukrainian Lee Kuan Yew of sorts, the builder of a new country, and not Yushchenko 2.0 “whose descendants shame him in verse.”

4. The government. Here, everything is complicated.

Arseniy Petrovich is, without doubt, the best Prime Minister in all of the history of independent Ukraine. As opposed to the Maidan booth, here he absolutely in his element. Multilaterally competent, exceptionally able, attentive to detail, strong in conversation.

But this is not enough.

This government has an unconditional merit: having kept the country afloat after Yanukovich during war, civil unrest, bandits, lack of government and the ghost of chaos, the constant threat of financial collapse – this merits a dignified place in history.

They gave Crimea away? All right, there are issues. But what would have you done in this situation? Without an army, with a bunch of traits in all intimate places of the state apparatus?

Therefore, the government in general and the prime minister personally have to receive top scores for stabilizing the government.

But there have been no reforms. De facto, there were none. Instead, all the corruption schemes were quickly mastered by new people. They weren’t all ministers: frequently the minister was just the front, void of power, and they stole behind his back.

This government gets the lowest score for the lack of reforms and corruption.

5. However this government couldn’t have implemented reforms and beaten corruption. It was pointless to expect it.

First, politicians don’t conduct reform as reforms are unpopular, and the politicians need popularity. They need to get reelected, and they remember this well every day. The quote attributed to Winston Churchill that the politician thinks of future elections and a statesman – of the next generation, is already stuck on our teeth.

Reforms are made by governments of professional technocrats who don’t have political ambitions, instead they have a high ambition of state creation.

Reforms are not made by coalition governments wherein all posts are distributed according to quotas. Quota officials now have to steal to pay back the “debt” to the politicians that nominated them. It is senseless to expect from coalition members that they will nominate to government posts not their own people but professional reformers.

Yes, the government will definitely include not only those guilty of corruption, as someone else has to work as well, someone has to be scapegoat, and someone has to hold the title of “our Minister from Maidan.” However these individuals don’t change the entire system.

Therefore it was senseless to expect the coalition government to stop corruption and conduct reforms. As this government was created by opposition parties that have already shamed themselves on Maidan.

Individual enlightened names are an exclusion that confirms the rule. We will remember them, and possibly see them again.

And in general this government withstood the situation with war and state finances, and for this it should be thanked and respected. If someone thinks they would have done a better job, I am asking for a detailed action plan, accounting for all limitations and challenges.

6. Exiting the constitutional crisis we had in December-February does not take one step. There are always three steps.

The first government, “the government of national salvation,” has to stabilize the situation. This has been done.

The second government has to be a government of reform, professional and independent. Reformers to their job, are subject to the people’s hate and occupy their honorary places in history.

The third has to be the government of a new country already, to reflect the new, post-reform socio-political reality.

It is akin to a patient who is chronically sick and need surgery, a complex and risky one, but their condition is aggravated. First the doctors come who take down their fever and stabilize the analysis results, prepare them for surgery. Then the surgeons come, professional and merciless: they cut, clean out, stitch them up. And then the third group of people come, who gradually and gently rehabilitate the patient, returning them to life – a new life in which there is no place left for the cured disease.

Therefore the national salvation government does not make reforms not just because it is a coalition government. Reforms are not their job. They stabilized the situation, they did not allow war to spread, for bandits to rampage on all territory, they did not allow default – this means that they did their job.

The work of the national salvation government cannot last forever. The time to move forward comes.

7. And here the key role goes to the parliament again. Reforms without a parliament are impossible – as in a parliamentary republic reforms are made through legislative acts.

This parliament does not need reforms, it is incapable of making them. Therefore let us say goodbye to this parliament.

And here we go on to the most important point.

Who formed the government that quickly mastered the corrupt schemes of Yanukovich’s time? Who did not pass the very pertinent laws regarding anti-corruption, lustration, the state budget etcetera? The parliamentary majority: UDAR, “Svoboda,” BYT. They made a reputation on Maidan. Yes, there were some enlightened individuals, and we remembered them. And we also remembered the dark figures.

And now our task, the task of the citizens, of civil society is to fully update the political system. Bring to the parliament the people that will appoint a reform government, that will pass reformative laws.

And we, the powerful society able to kick out the dictator, overpower a stronger enemy in war, achieve support from the global community – we are unable to do this as of yet.

  1. We are unable to elect well-meaning and patriotic people to the parliament. The Kyiv elections proved this. We are voting for the old party gangs filled with old black bile. We, the Kyivans, brought “Chernovetskiy’s young team” to the Kyiv City Council.
  2. We are unable to put pressure on new democratic microscopic political powers, for them to unite. They came to the Kyiv elections in seven columns instead of one and lost. They will go to the parliamentary elections in twelve columns instead of one and lose.
  3. We are unable to distinguish populism and short-term projects from fair and open politics. The populists, empty like kefir bottles, are gaining our votes at presidential and Kyiv elections.
  4. We are unable to provide transparency and fairness of elections even in the capital. The stealing of votes, buying votes, violation of legislation – and this in Kyiv that survived Maidan and won.

Despite everything that happened to us, and all the changes in our conscience, we turned out to be unprepared.

It is already clear how the seats in the future parliament will be distributed. It will be an even worse parliament than today.

Unless we ourselves change. And change the political state of things.

With our civic position. Our level of conscience. Our personal participation as independent observers. Our explanatory work among friends, family and acquaintances. Our volunteer work in the headquarters of a united democratic force, to which we have to enlist all those we trust.

With our maturity and resilience, mistrust of populism and political projects of oligarchs and political technologists, behind the backs of which the outlines of the red Kremlin wall are emerging.

8. It is possible they will accuse me of not commenting on who said what to whom yesterday and the day before. Whatever.

Politics is actions, not words. If box was evaluated by what the boxers say to each other and not what they are doing, it would be a completely different sport. Words quickly become obsolete, their only goal is to evoke action. We look at actions and ignore words. This is what they are saying to each other, not us.

9. The issue of electoral law is the most critical. Will there by a majority in the parliament? Will there be open lists? Will party blocs be allowed? What will be the necessary minimum? Will financing be transparent?

We are watching closely. We demand change. This is the most important thing today to have a tomorrow.

And let us not forget: the guys will return from the front and ask us sternly what we were doing here while they were protecting us with their hearts on the line. They have to return to a country ready for a reboot.

10. This is a quest. We survived the first levels. They were difficult. But the next ones are no less difficult. We gained the right to pass these quest levels with our victory at the previous levels.

The end of dictatorship. War for independence. The birth of a political nation. The next levels: socio-political reboot, radical complex reforms, economical flourishing, international subjectivity, cultural expansion. It is impossible to skip those.

And this means that everything is going according to plan.

Let’s stop panicking.

Everything’s gonna be alright.

 

NO RUSSIAN – Max Skibinsky, http://skibinsky.com/

No RussianMany people in Silicon Valley inquired over the years why I was not coming back to Russia often (I visited once in two decades) or why I’m not spending much time helping Russian startups. I usually answered these questions in generalities while keeping my grim thoughts and predictions to myself. The events of the past few days, unfortunately, show that the worst predictions I feared all these years did come true. The nightmare scenario is now unfolding as we speak, and Russia position in the world is now altered forever.

The mass murder of passengers & crew of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 using Russian’s weapons and (most likely) by hands of Russian military squad exposed to the world  that Russia is now complicit in committing crimes against humanity. That was quite a journey for a country that just six months ago were considered a full member of the global community, even if notoriously ornery one. How was it possible for things to collapse so far and so fast?

The Empire of Lies

“How did you go bankrupt?”
“Two ways, gradually and then suddenly”
-Ernest Hemingway

To understand Russia’s lighting fast descend into the abyss one has to understand a simple truth that many (myself included) suspect all along: Russia was and is a failed state. What is seen from the outside is just a facade imitating a functional country and government. High oil prices, residual infrastructure of USSR and internal mass propaganda machine maintained the illusion for more than a decade.

Silicon Valley is far removed from that part of the world (Russia is non-entity when it comes to startups and innovation, besides being inexhaustible source of great engineers, we will come back to that), so let’s review some basic facts about Russia.

In simple terms, Russia is a mafia state. All the way from Moscow to regions and to small towns, everything is controlled by various mafia gangs. Police and judiciary are parts of most powerful gangs. They usually assist in extortion or theft of property earned by local small and medium size businessmen. Big business is subject to federal mafia clan wars.

The mafia-state formation is logical consequence of Russian economy: it is totally dominated by oil and gas revenues. Oil, gas and derivatives provide meaningful employment to about 1M people. Russian population is about 150M. How do they survive? The majority depends on various forms of government handouts.

With russian-style oil production you don’t have to think, innovate or even hire smart people. All you have to do is to cash the check. Gazprom is ranked as one of the most grossly inefficient enterprises in the world. So what happens when a small, totally incompetent minority controls country-wide oil rent while the rest of 149 million people are a burden? The answer is obvious: that 1M would create a mafia state to keep the rest of 149M in check by means of police and judiciary abuse and mass propaganda.

Russian propaganda machine is vast, it now exceeds the one of Soviet Union. Official TV propaganda lies professionally and constantly. There are no independent TV channels; everything is controlled by government stooges. The “news” teams employ special teams that do video editing and fabrications to present absolutely falsified accounts for TV transmission. Then these fabrications are broadcast to brainwash captive population.

The population at large is, statistically speaking, not very bright. Many are deranged from overuse of alcohol or drugs. A big number are simply aging elderly rooted in USSR-centric mindset who never adjusted to the modern world. Most of them do not “work” in the sense we understand full-time employment here: they occupy placeholder positions sponsored by the government. Being dependent their whole life on government help, they are psychologically unable even to think government can do something wrong.

The families, wives, children of Russian elite (think top 1% of that 1M strong oil & gas service clan) doesn’t live in the country. They actually despise Russia and it’s people. All of the live in the west, many in London: Russian’s oligarch family spending is major contributing factor to London overall economy. They have absolutely no long term interest in Russian country or population survival.

Corruption and theft are endemic. Recent Olympic games ended up most expensive in history of the planet not because they were so well built: it was because it gave an excuse to a huge number of mafia clans to steal on a gigantic scale.

Modern Russia is not a weaker version of Soviet Union “empire of evil.” This capability is, thankfully, long gone. Russia is “cargo cult” of Soviet empire. It lacks competent professionals, leaders and minimal work ethics to accomplish anything on that scale. It just have enough capacity to cover everything in a blanket of lies, and as long as it works on captive domestic population that is all that it’s leaders need to keep channeling profits from Russia to London accounts.

The best way to understand modern Russia is to imagine a steep pyramid. At the very top there is a clique of KGB-affiliated oligarchs, who manage barely-competent class of middle-managers (which can and do steal a fraction of everything they touch) which in turn sit on top of largely brainwashed and deranged mass population living on life-long government welfare.

Needless to say this is most toxic environment imaginable to incubate a startup ecosystem.

Creative Class

Moscow-protest-draws-tens-of-thousandsDespite all that titanic effort, modern technology is far more powerful than any attempts by a backward medieval government to hold it back. Internet, web and mobile formed so called “creative class” in Russia. In general, these folk are young, smart, energetic, totally in tune how to leverage modern technology to find out the truth or to achieve their goals. They were the spearhead and main organizers ofDecember 2011 protests against Putin’s mafia state. When you see smart young Russian engineer in Silicon Valley, most likely, you are talking with a member of this creative class.

Yet, Macbook Pro Retina is a poor weapon when fighting AK-wielding government thugs. Mass propaganda and intimidation do work at mass scale. It is much easier to be dumb and “patriotic” than smart and inquisitive ( even US population had to learn that lesson the hard way after Iraq invasion ).

Creative class was a minority in modern day Russia and there is a strong emergent behaviour that draining their numbers. That is a class of people with the skills most in demand in Europe and USA. During “peaceful” decade of Putin’s rule over two million people emigrated from Russia: this is a number higher then immigration after communist revolution and civil war.

By my estimate there is probably few hundreds of thousands of people in the creative class in Russia. This vocal, yet very small group so far never succeeded at thwarting russian mafia state at anything. Then, recently everything had changed.

Ukrainian Valor

The differences between “Ukrainian” and “Russian” people are cosmetic. The distance between Kiev and Moscow is about same as Sacramento to San Diego. Even today, after all that happened, the most likely language you will hear on the streets of Kiev is Russian. So why Kremlin was so enraged about recent Ukrainian revolution? After all Ukraine has no natural gas or oil, there were no riches to divide, what was the fuss all about?

What happened is that first time in history, large group of ethnic “Russians” had overthrown a mafia clan in a popular uprising. Until then, Ukraine was a satellite state, and exactly because it had no natural oil and gas, much larger portion of the population had to develop “creative class” skills rather than going to work for oil company or police enforcement. Then suddenly this social group had enough heft and popular power to overthrow local mafia don.

You can imagine the amount of terror it produced in the gang occupying Kremlin right now. If was and still is an extensional threat to them, hence they pulled out all the stops to overthrow or destabilize a new government in Kiev, and at the same time whip out xenophobic mass-hysteria in a local population.

At this moment, Kremlin can not really stop. If Kiev government survives, it will fairly quickly unlock economic benefits of non-mafia, free economy. The large parasitic class living by bribes and extortion will be displaced: it will have the same effect as if base tax rate would suddenly drop by a double digit percentage. Next door, progressive Russians would quickly notice and spread information about growing prosperity and opportunity in a city next door. What was half million Euro-leaning progressives, would become a million, then few million: before long you can picture a Gaddafi-style demise for the Kremlin gang.

Kremlin is fighting for its own survival: supplying weapon system and military crew to a roaming criminal gangs is nothing for them in big scheme of things.

Russia’s brand is over

This situation will get worse before it gets better. Kremlin will fight to the last: we will yet see the massive flood of lies and deceit they will unleash to mitigate the anger of their recent mass murder. Very unfortunately everything they do will be branded with the words Russia or Russian. Can’t say the rest of the country is blameless: Putin got a stratospheric 71% support level after annexation of Crimea. Many in creative class would do the logical thing: give up the hopeless fight and emigrate. We are probably going to see another, super-massive wave of immigration coming from Russia in next few years.

I think we came to the end of the line with regards to Russia as a name, culture, a global brand. For the time being the country future is destroyed, police state is well-entrenched and the narrative for the brainwashed locals would be xenophobic tale of struggle with the “West”.

Here is what it all means for Silicon Valley:

  • Expect to see a lot of resumes coming from Russia. Keep in mind internal situation for smart and talented person is dire, they are not just looking for a job, they looking to save themselves and their families.
  • Try to differentiate between “creative class”, a few brave people trying to swim against incredibly dangerous tide and the rest of brainwashed population.
  • Help Ukraine. They have terrific outsourcing shops and consulting firms. Send them business if you can. Recent revolution would unlock even more creative force in this economically modest, yet energetic country. They are the first large group of ethnic “russians” who become free on their own power and valor. To understand the scale of that achievement, here is the last group of Russians who were not ruled by khans, czars, communist chairmans or KGB generals: Free Novgorod Republic. That was over 1000 years go. Ukrane was a cradle of Russian civilization – they might become a source of it rebirth yet again.
  • Boycott anything and everything related to Russian government and associated banks and corporations. Any business you send to them only strengthen the regime. Your contract dollars will pay for next Buk missile.

Personally, I’m thinking to start calling myself Euro-Slavic instead of “Russian”. It’s a flimsy defense, yet Russian brand, after already being tainted with gulag and the rest of its toxic legacy, is now synonymous with mass murder of innocent civilians. There is nothing of value left to recover.