Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ukraine: Let’s coin a new term for an old tactic, ‘Bolshelinskyism’

Renee Nal wrote earlier today about the Yanukovich government trying to intimidate opposition protesters in Kiev by sending a threatening message to their cell phones.  As she notes, selecting their phones to receive the message required the government tracking their phone activity.
Creepy, indeed, as Renee says.  But in a sense, it’s just a modern, technical method of fomenting the kind of violent, “dirty tricks” political conflict in which Bolsheviks specialized a century ago, and which disciples of Saul Alinsky sought to perfect in the 1960s.  What this set of tactics is about is creating chaos, fear, conflict between groups: whatever it takes to make middle class and sensible people hide indoors, demand order, and lose their heart for organized, responsible political opposition.
We can call it ‘Bolshelinskyism’ – especially when we see the other reports coming out of Ukraine about the handling of the protests.

In this case, the protesters aren’t the Bolshelinskyists.  The Bolshelinskyists are from the government, and they’re there to shut down the protests by whatever means necessary.  Those means include bringing in rent-a-thugs to intimidate the peaceful protesters.  They also include kidnapping opposition leaders, making them “disappear” for periods of time, roughing them up, and presumably seeking by those methods to frighten their families and associates.
You have to read a long way into the most recent New York Times account to get to this part.  But here’s a summary of what the opposition protesters are seeing from the rent-a-thugs (emphasis added):
[O]ther groups have also appeared in Kiev, adding to the sense of chaos. Young men carrying sticks wandered side streets near the central square threatening to beat protesters who walked alone. One group shattered a shop window.
The opposition leaders have said they believe that these people are soccer hooligans and unemployed men bused into Kiev by the government to provide a proxy force to intimidate protesters and darken the image of the movement by highlighting the violence.
“Disorders should not be allowed to happen,” Vitali Klitschko, a former boxing champion and the leader of the political party Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform, wrote on Twitter. “This is a plan of authorities to introduce a state of emergency.”
Early Tuesday, opposition activists detained about a dozen of these rival young men and marched them to one of several buildings occupied by protesters, where several admitted in videotaped conversations that they had been promised 200 hryvnia, or about $25, to cause trouble. But they were not able to explain clearly who had hired them.
(Many readers’ thoughts will stray, quite naturally, to the barely less uncivilized practices of ACORN and its affiliates – conscious Alinskyites all – in paid “protest” activities in the United States.  See here, here, here, here, here, and here, in case you need reminders.  Most of you don’t.)
Meanwhile, opposition activists Igor Litsenko and Yuri Verbytsky were abducted from a hospital where they were being treated for injuries inflicted by government security forces.  (This appears to have happened on Monday.)  They were taken into a forested area and put in separate cells in a garage-like building for 10 hours.  There seem to have been political arguments with the abductors; Litsenko thinks at least some were ideologues, and not just rent-a-thugs.
At the end of his confinement, he was forced to kneel down against a tree, and thought he was about to be executed.  He was apparently facing the tree with his back to his captors, and eventually realized that they had left him by himself.  He walked, “almost fainting sometimes,” back through the woods, ... [See rest at links]
J.E. Dyer
CDR, USN (Ret.)
Hemet, CA

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