A Ukrainian Miracle of the Wrong Kind

This story is nuts:

The authorities in Ukraine have been sharply criticised for faking the murder of a Russian dissident journalist in Kiev.

An official from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said Ukraine was spreading “false information”.

Reporters Without Borders said it was “part of an information war”.

Babchenko’s wife said on Tuesday she had found her husband at the entrance to their apartment block with bullet wounds in his back, and he was reported to have died in an ambulance later.

But on Wednesday there were gasps at a Kiev press conference when Babchenko entered the room.

“There was no other way,” he said.

I don’t know whether this course of action was essential to keep Babchenko from being killed; if so, then it was worth it. If it was just to catch the bloke who ordered the hit, then I’m a little more skeptical. Whatever the case, it is appalling PR.

It is quite reasonable to blame much of the chaos in Ukraine on Russian interference, not least the low-level war going on in the east of the country. But nobody can deny that Ukraine is a dysfunctional mess regardless of their meddlesome next door neighbour. The most damning thing about Russia’s annexation of Crimea was how easy it all was. I understand the Ukrainians didn’t want to risk mass bloodshed and a full-scale Russian invasion by fighting back, but the fact remains the place was completely undefended in the first place. A half-competent military could defend Crimea from a few dozen little green men flown or shipped in, but Ukraine fell far short of even that and lost the whole peninsula within hours. For all the outrage about what Russia did, few seem concerned that it was Ukrainian complacency, corruption, and incompetence that allowed it to happen.

The other undeniable fact is Ukraine has been independent for for 27 years and hasn’t shown the slightest sign of being anything other than a dysfunctional, heinously corrupt state mismanaged by squabbling factions each looking to further their own ambitions and enrich themselves. I remember the hope at the time of the Orange Revolution in late 2004; what followed was years of bickering and backstabbing and a confusing merry-go-round of leaders, one of whom ended up in jail. Things were also hopeful when Ukraine hosted the 2012 UEFA European Championship jointly with Poland, but things appear to have only gone backwards. It would be almost unthinkable to hold a major tournament in Ukraine now.

It’s a shame because the Ukrainians I know seem okay, and they obviously have competence at the individual and company level, but on a national scale they seem to be a perpetual basket case. Even their ability to resurrect dead Russian journalists isn’t going to help them with that.


27 thoughts on “A Ukrainian Miracle of the Wrong Kind

  1. People look at me weird when I say that the ones with Timothy Dalton are the best Bond films, but whenever they decide to re-make one in real life, it’s always the plot of The Living Daylights that they pick.

  2. He sounds like a complete cunt that no one liked, the world may have been a better place without him, but there is no doubt about it this is a total fuck up here.

    Maybe they could also bring the Skriplas cat back to life as well.

  3. Tim, I have to say that I disagree quite strongly when you point to Ukraine deficiencies during the annexation of Crimea and then imply that Ukraine 4+ years ago is the same as it is now. A lot has changed since. Obviously, 4 years is not enough to fix everything. Ironically, the actual fact of Russian aggression was the single largest contributing factor towards nation consolidation. If Russians did not attack then, they would have by now exerted substantially larger influence over Ukrainian affairs than they do now.

  4. “Obviously, 4 years is not enough to fix everything.”

    Especially if there is almost nobody in power intent on fixing anything, an easily-undermined odd-ball reformer here and there notwithstanding.

    Just look at how the government is fighting tooth and nail to postpone and neuter the creation of anticorruption courts, or at the suicidal economic policies to preserve the oligarchs’ grip on the economy at any cost, to name just the most obvious.

  5. Tim, I have to say that I disagree quite strongly when you point to Ukraine deficiencies during the annexation of Crimea and then imply that Ukraine 4+ years ago is the same as it is now. A lot has changed since.

    I am more than happy to stand corrected Anton, and welcome your corrections! Thanks!

  6. Maybe they could also bring the Skriplas cat back to life as well.


  7. Jesus wept, I just read the press reports on this, its bat shit crazy and something like this could surely only happen in irrelevant shitholes like the Ukraine and the UK.

    Huffington Posts take

    Journalist Arkady Babchenko’s ‘Murder’ Faked By Ukraine To Uncover Russian Plot

    Let that headline sink in for a moment.

    So if it was a hitman, which is the way I would do it if I were that way inclined, plausible deniability and all that, can someone tell me how does “a fake hitting” flush out the professional hitman. Does he see it on the telly and hand himself in looking for the fee, or a contractual dispute over his right to receive the fee first it just doesn’t make sense.

    The article says that the fake hit stone cold Babchenko’s body with fresh tomato sauce was found by his wife…….and they say now that she was the most shocked to discover that he was alive……..are we expected to believe this?

    They really are beginning to scrape the barrel with these half cocked anti-Putin plots, makes it look like nobody has anything real on him and that he really is a good guy after all.

    No doubt they will trot our some more before the World Cup.

    I might buy a Russian Flag to put up on my deck for the World Cup and back them to win.

  8. “he is a good guy after all”

    Clearly. None of the people he has murdered has come forward to disagree with you so far, which obviously proves your point.

  9. I understand that there was some allegation of customs fraud in Leningrad leveled against him when he was cleaning up the city and that the documents that prove this are buried in the ex mayors garden, but that we still to this day don’t have a smoking gun.

  10. @Bardon,

    judging by how carefully you have studied the information about Babchenko’s case ( given your “contractual dispute over his right to receive the fee” insight ), the only way you would see a smoking gun would be if Putin were actually standing with that gun over your family’s dead bodies in your living room.

    Or as Cambridge University Press put it:

    “Given the controversial subject matter of the book, and its basic premise that Putin’s power is founded on his links to organised crime, we are not convinced that there is a way to rewrite the book that would give us the necessary comfort.”


    The truth can be uncomfortable, see?

  11. I lived in Ukraine for 18 months. It is a messed up place. I left there with a bad feeling that this country can’t handle nationhood.

    Five years earlier (2004), I went to Crimea for a company sales event. (Intel, Corp.). The event coordinator invited all of us to go to one of Ukraine’s military bases so that we could shoot AK-47’s. I joined with glee. A bus load of us drove to an entrance, a conversation occurred (God knows how that went), and we all waltzed in without issue. Russians, Ukrainians, and one American with no screening. I don’t remember if they knew I was there. Anyway, once we got in there, the whole deal fell through and we couldn’t shoot. I’m still weeping to this day over it. Still, random people could just enter a major military base. These people aren’t serious at all. I believe it was this base where the last stand-off/surrender occurred. They had no will to fight.

  12. “The truth can be uncomfortable, see?”

    But the evidence purported to exist in the book is no longer available and was mysteriously destroyed as a cover up according to the author.

    So we still have no smoking gun.

  13. “A half-competent military could defend Crimea from a few dozen little green men flown or shipped in,”

    Wasn’t the reason for the “invasion” that the Crimea was effectively just one big Russian naval, air-force and army base?!

    Bit like Northern Syria is just one big US air-force and army base since the moderate rebellion, hence them boasting about wiping out those Russian mercenaries who’d gone in to deal with the remnants of ISIS that are hiding there in plain sight.

    And most of the locals who weren’t Russian or of Russian extraction, or Russian sympathisers, relied on the bases for their living.

    As I understand it The Ukraine is the original “Russia” (land of the Rus – actually Vikings who’d colonised the area for trade with Asia and Arabia) and Kiev was the original Russian capital.

    But the area was fought over and conquered by Europeans and Asians at various times, the capital was moved to Moscow when the Rus were driven out of The Ukraine, and the Eastern half is more Russian/Asian leaning and Russian speaking, and the Western half more Europe leaning and “Ukranian” speaking (Russian modified by centuries of European and Turkic(?) occupation).

    Interestingly, in the run-up to the Maidan “protests” (over a hundred police shot?!) if you read anything about the Ukraine it was a newspaper’s economic correspondent reporting how bad the EU deal on offer to the Ukraine was (paltry loan, high interest, loads of strings attached, no promises, and effectively signing over control of the economy to EU companies), how good the Russian deal (several times as big a loan, lower interest, no strings) and how the Ukrainian President could only be talking to the EU to get an ever better deal from Russia.

    Either that, or how Putin hated President Yanukovych and had the hots for Former Deputy Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko (also an Oligarch who had bled the gas and media industries of hundreds of millions).

    Then, suddenly, peaceful protesters started shooting dozens of policemen, and the NATO, sorry, Western, Press suddenly went into reverse gear.

    Bit like Myanamar.

    For years, when you heard anything about it, it was either about their saintly Aung San Suu Kyi or occasionally about horrendous deeds by Rohingyan Muslim Terrorists.

    Then suddenly it became the terrorist Aung San Suu Kyi and the saintly Rohingyan Muslim Terrorists, sorry, freedom fighters, sorry, oppressed victim refugees (complete with graphic evidence pulled from old files of oilwell explosion victims or victims of real terrorists from a different time and place).

    I wonder if there’s oil in them thar Rohingyan hills? Or is someone planning to run a pipeline through them, or set up yet another military base there?!

  14. “But the area was fought over and conquered by Europeans and Asians at various times, the capital was moved to Moscow when the Rus were driven out of The Ukraine”

    You are right, except it was the Golden Horde who were driven out of Ukraine but kept control over the fringes of the former Rus and then gradually moved their capital from Sarai to Moscow, where it remains to this day. The savages have since been civilized slightly by some exiled German rulers, but not much, as we can see.

  15. That creepy looking Prosecutor General Lutsenko that stood with Babchenko at his Lazarus like press conference just happened to bump into a former bank owner Kolomoisky outside a coffee shop last year in Amsterdam. Kolomoisky is under investigation for embezzlement that put his bank under to the tune of $5.6b that will need to be picked up by the taxpayer.

    “I flew to Amsterdam for medical treatment,” Lutsenko said. “I was walking around the center of the city and accidentally bumped into Kolomoisky.”

    “Speculation was rife that Kolomoisky and Lutsenko could have discussed the prospects of criminal cases involving the tycoon.

    In December 2016 the government nationalized Kolomoisky’s PrivatBank, putting the burden of the bank’s losses — worth $5.6 billion — on the country’s taxpayers.”


  16. Wait there’s more.

    It now seems that the hired killer and the organiser were also anti-Russians. Alexey Tsymbalyuk the hired killer turned key witness was a Ukrainian nationalist and is now a priest. Boris German the accused organiser was also an anti-Russian businessman. Babchenko, German and Tysmbalyuk are all connected with the Ukrainian secret service.

    So the Russians commissioned an anti-Russian businessman, who hired an anti-Russian assassin to whack an anti- Russian journalist.

    Maybe Putin did sanction this to make the Ukrainians look like a complete bunch of tools.


  17. “So the Russians commissioned an anti-Russian businessman, who hired an anti-Russian assassin to whack an anti- Russian journalist.”

    All conveniently summed up in a Russian paper for you. Meanwhile, the German chap is under arrest, so there seems to be at least some doubt in what he says.

  18. @Bardon

    Correct, all Russian media are russophobic, in the sense that they are pretty detrimental to quality and length of an average Russian life through occupying various niches on the the Kremlin gang’s disinformation spectrum.

  19. @Ivan

    That cut well but true and I guess from your perspective none of them, even the so called good guys funded by the yanks outside of Russia are doing the average russkie no good. Your nation according to you, and I respect your view, are obviously in a very bad place which at best can only distinguish between the various levels of shit (Bristol Stool Chart) imposed by Putin and his men, maybe there isn’t such a thing as a good press in any respect for you comrade Ivan?

    You may think I am a supporter of Putin and yes that is the craic until you bring me the smoking gun, my friend until then its circumstantial. I just know that despite your best efforts you cant and wont and certainly not before he ascends to running the restrucured and new all encompassing UN. You get me the gun and I fail, if not Putin reigns.

    I take it that if you had a time capsule you would be less reticent and more positive about it all under a Romanov and Russian intelligent regime. And that you have some pride and admiration in your fellow Russian countrymen and their place in the world if only you could shake of the tyrant and is his murderers.

  20. I find this take on the event rather better:


    I hear US sanctions on Nord Stream 2 are in preparation. Would be great on so many levels, including improvement in Babchenko’s chances. There is no better way than starving the beast. Russia was at its most peaceful when it depended on humanitarian aid for basic food.

  21. Ivan I think your obvious bias is totally objectionable here, it’s almost as if it would have suited you and the Wapo better if he had just went along with the fake hit and put his feet up in a beach in Hawaii or wherever it is the fake dead go these days. Nothing about any of the press actually passing on the news of the assassination without query or challenge, which is the the pathetic way it is these days.

    Your hatred for Putin has lowered your personal standards to such an extent that your wilfully accept this rubbish.

  22. @Bardon

    No problem, they still say it’s a free country, don’t they?

    It suits me well that they managed to catch the intermediary, it will suit me even better if they got valuable intelligence on the organizers in Moscow.

    For once, the lack of standards by the press has been used against Putin rather than by Putin. I hear at the height of Cold War the CIA pulled some rather more elaborate stunts. A la guerre comme a la guerre.

    Your love for Putin is making you apply jury standards where the perp is unfortunately very far from facing the jury. As far as I’m concerned, until such time that he does, the civil “most likely” standard is far more appropriate.

    Having no bias against known gangsters is otherwise known as being some combination of unconcerned, corrupt and stupid, so I can easily admit I am biased. I suspect you too apply different standards to gangsters closer to home, where not giving a damn is not an option.

  23. This is truly hilarious: Kim Jong Un was not sufficiently happy at the latest meeting he grudgingly granted to Lavrov, so Russian TV solved the problem by photoshopping a smile on Kim’s face. Now tell me one can be too biased against the scum.

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