Monday, April 07, 2014

People's Republic of Donetsk

The Donetsk region of Ukraine has declared the independence from the Maidan government in Kiev, under the new brand People's Republic of Donetsk, using the standard Maidan algorithm: people took over some key government buildings (five-minute video of the muscle game) and announced that they are in charge. Well, there are differences.

The activists in Donetsk are pro-Russia and disagree about many things with the Maidan folks. Another difference is that there are no hardcore fascists and Nazis among the Donetsk separatists – which is also why they haven't murdered dozens of (pro-Maidan) cops and even more of their own people (at least so far).

The new republic may look tiny but the region has 4.6 million people, just like Ireland, almost matching Denmark, Finland, Slovakia, Norway, and Georgia, and beating Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Macedonia, Slovenia, all three Baltic states, Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Luxembourg. So it's not a "ludicrously small" region. Be sure that if you live in a country like mine, with 10 million people, it's a pretty big country. The population is able to cover almost all human activities, in some cases, at the global top level. You must walk for a hundred of miles to get to the border, and so on. So if the Americans think about countries of this size as "tiny specks of matter", they really don't understand what's going on.

The new republic – not recognized by any other state right now – wants a Crimea-style referendum by May 11th and asks Putin to send "peacekeepers" to the region.

By any neutral enough criteria, the legitimacy of the new government is about the same as the legitimacy of the Maidan government in Kiev. It violated the existing constitutional order in the country enjoying sovereignty over the territory; and it claims – to a large extent, justifiably so – some support from something like a majority of the population around (although it hasn't really been verified in Kiev or in Donetsk).

It cannot be excluded that the Kremlin will indeed send "peacekeepers" if the lives of these separatists are threatened. I am no fundamentalist pacifist but I think it would be much better if all the people were able to agree about the arrangement of things without any weapons and intimidation.

Unfortunately, at least one side is showing it is not ready at all to pragmatically negotiate and agree about a meaningful future for the country that's been called Ukraine for some time. The Maidan government is pretending that it may control the whole territory of Ukraine as we knew it while – probably permanently – eliminating parties like the "Party of Regions" and people similar to Yanukovytch from power. But that's not exactly a realistic, democratic, human attitude given the fact that people whom the Maidan want to "eliminate" or "outlaw" represent roughly 1/2 of the population of Ukraine.

There would be so many ways to organize some federation or a "velvet divorce", perhaps one followed by the annexation of some additional parts of Ukraine by Russia, and to create a new country or countries that wouldn't suffer from the divisions and tensions that have paralyzed Ukraine since its independence from the USSR (and, previously, the Russian Empire). But if something like 1/2 of the Ukrainian population and their "heads" refuses to reorganize the territory peacefully, it's very difficult for the other side to make some progress.

And be sure that they want to strip the people from the basic political rights. They don't want anyone in Ukraine to be allowed to point out that the Maidan revolution was largely "made" by some fascist rabble, aggressive unemployed men and angry xenophobic low-paid workers. They don't want to allow the people to point out that the current EU apparatchiks are low-quality amateurs, kids, wet rags, retired Maoists, and similar kind of material. They don't want anyone to be allowed to feel closer to Russia than to the EU – or to allow them to speak Russian, for that matter.

I've lived in People's Republic of Cambridge for 6 years. Its main difference from the post-Soviet Donetsk Region is that the people are much more left-wing over there (in Cambridge) in average.

But a new Ukraine can't work like that yet remain peaceful. You just can't eat the cake and have it, too. The Maidan government will either have to admit that its coup was a mistake and revert it, allowing the Party of Regions and similar groups (perhaps led by different people than those who are in exile) to retake the government sometime in the future; or they must agree that they have to lose some territory where the dominance of voters with anti-Maidan opinions is sufficiently clear.

We have talked about possible splits of Ukraine many times. But I forgot whether I have already posted this map of Ukrainian subdivisions by GDP per capita. As the colors change from dark orange to light orange, yellow, yellow-green, light green, darker green, darkest green, the GDP per capita goes from below $2,000 per year (!) to above $10,000 per year (the highest group is only achieved in the capital, Kiev).

Except for Kiev, you may see that the wealthier regions are generally those in the East; and the poorer ones are those in the West. Dnipropetrovsk Region is the dark green spot in the Central Eastern Ukraine – it got above $5,000, as the only region except for Kiev. It is surrounded on the Eastern side by four light green ($4,000-$5,000) regions, including the Donetsk Region which is the Southeastern one among these four. After the Europa League double match in which my hometown's FC Viktoria Pilsen eliminated the much wealthier FC Shakhtar Donetsk a month ago (that club is owned by the wealthiest man of Ukraine – who switched from Yanukovitch to new Maidan friends in recent months; a remarkable flexibility), I tend to think that Donetsk is in some sense "analogous" to Pilsen although Pilsen is about 6 times richer (by GDP per capita).

As long as the new Kiev rulers will continue to be incapable of seeing that their naively pro-EU, hatefully anti-Russian attitudes and policies resulting from them simply cannot be imposed on the whole territory of Ukraine (minus Crimea which is already a fully solved problem), there won't be any chance of a stabilization of the conditions in Ukraine. The more the Maidan rulers will threaten and harass the millions of citizens who find the Russian influence to be more legitimate over their lives than the influence by the new self-appointed rulers in Kiev, we will be seeing an increasing probability that the Kremlin will have to reintroduce some order to the region with its authority backed by a military force.

Do the Maidan rulers and their EU and U.S. "pals" really lack any pragmatism and rationality that seems to be richly available to the Kremlin? Or are they just scared of admitting that they have screwed everything by their hopeless attempts to achieve something by the illegal acts that threw Ukraine into chaos? Whatever the answer is, it is very clear that if it's impossible to agree about a future peacefully, the future will have to be eventually established not so peacefully.

The amount of war propaganda on both sides is kind of staggering these days. A trivial example. Current Czech president Zeman was giving an interview to the Czech radio on Sunday. He often speaks in witticisms and in many cases he doesn't really care about much, he offers – seemingly contradictory – assertions that cover "both sides" of an argument. But look how his interview was summarized in the West and in Russia. The BBC wrote:
The crisis has heightened nervousness in many other eastern European states, with Czech President Milos Zeman saying Nato should deploy troops in Ukraine if Russia invades.

"If Russia decides to extend its territorial expansion to eastern Ukraine, the fun is over," he told Czech public radio on Sunday.
So a BBC reader had to conclude that Zeman is one of the hawks who would send NATO armies whenever Putin makes an uncomfortable motion with his hands. However, the very same interview was cherry-picked very differently by the Russian media, e.g.:
EU should accept Crimea becoming part of Russia – Czech president (Voice of Russia)
So Zeman is pretty much on the same frequency as the Kremlin, the Russian readers may conclude. Just to be sure, he has said both things. But the way how completely differently the interview was cherry-picked on both sides simply looks worrisome to me. Couldn't the journalists on both sides simply try to do their job honestly?

Incidentally, this is what Russia Today did, with some extra information about the interview that I haven't mentioned. I think that Russia Today is the most objective major source of information about the ongoing events in Ukraine.

But this exception notwithstanding, I am very worried about this dishonesty and the obsessive need to hurt the other side even if it means to lie and violate various moral rules, laws, and human rights. No one important is quite a saint here. But when I look at the whole situation, I still think that Putin is vastly more likely to do new additional rational steps that actually make some sense, that are likely to improve the situation or prevent it from further deterioration. I think he's been doing these things so far. Of course that his own country and his personal approval rate were slightly more important for him than the well-being of others – it's normal and I do think that this is how things should be (those who think that people should generally act against their interests are dystopians whose victory would completely cripple the civilization). But at the same moment, he doesn't want the rest of the world to be destroyed or seriously hurt because it's against his interests, too.

As a politician, Putin makes sense. Nigel Farage – whose UKIP is likely to win the elections to the European Parliament in the U.K. next month – said that he had more respect for Putin than for the kids who run the U.K. these days, and I agree with him – and the claim could be generalized to kids at many other places, too.


  1. Their choice of name is not encouraging.

  2. Right, I also feel that the "People's" adjective contains some communist nostalgia. But it isn't necessarily so. It may just mean that it was declared from bottom up.

    But even if the name was due to things that one of us or two of us disagree with, it's still important to notice that there are tens of millions of people in that region who don't find "People's" discouraging at all, and it's up to them to organize their lives and to name their countries, I think. It's good to live in a different country than themselves but one simply cannot impose some completely different views on them, can he? I think this export just doesn't work and cannot work.

  3. Pro-russians protesters responsible for current situation in Donetsk, who show up all the time with portraits of Stalin, Che Guevara, Mao, Pol Pot etc dont have necessairly nostalgia for communism?

    Russia Today is the most objective source on situation in Ukraine while spreading lies about military camps in Poland and Lithuania to train spetsnaz-like maidan-squads, or bubbling about maidan controlled snipers who shoot Berkut members, while it's just their another delusion:

    Calling West-Ukrainians fascists, while their support for extreme right is far more lower than russian support for russian fascists (lead by Zhirinovsky)?

    I'm sorry dr Lubos, but maybe it's right time to see a doctor?

  4. I am sure that many of them have although your picture is cherry-picked. You can't see those pictures in the 5-minute video of the takeover, for example.

    You may also watch the speech of the cute chief Crimean procurator:

    She uses the word "narod" (Czech: lid, English: people) prominently because the constitution says that the only ultimate source of power in the country is "narod" (the people), I repeat "narod" (BTW I understand her Russian unusually well, even though I haven't spoken it actively for 25 years), but this people isn't necessarily adopting communist policies.

    More generally, there's really no good reason to think that the pro-Russian voters in Eastern Ukraine are any different from generic people in Russia - and the latter are not really communists these days, either. So I view this demonization as a part of the war propaganda in which you participate.

  5. Eelco HoogendoornApr 7, 2014, 8:49:00 PM

    Don't exaggerate lubos; they are damp rags, not wet rags. ;)

  6. Oops, you're right! Farage originally said "damp rag":

    But everyone else had to hear "wet rag"! :-)

  7. There were more communist symbols on these protests and they can be easily seen on many on many videos:

    The leader of pro-russian separatists is Pavel Gubarev- a true nazi (not a delduded one, as in case of maidan nazis), a member of RNU, a party which mixes national socialism with communism, is racists as hell, and has even swastika in their flag:

  8. Pavel Gubarev is exactly the mirror image of the folks from Svoboda and others in Western Ukraine, what do you want. I am not a fan of either of them. I just find it unacceptable for one of them to suppress the basic human rights of tens of millions of people on the other side, and this holds for the pro-Russian Nazis as well as the anti-Russian Nazis.

  9. God bless Donetsk.

    Its already on wiki.

    Maybe all the east provinces can form easter ukrane.
    Or the original ukrane.

  10. But you wrtote:
    "Another difference is that there are no hardcore fascists and Nazis among the Donetsk separatists"
    which is surely untrue and then you wrote:
    "They don't want anyone in Ukraine to be allowed to point out that the Maidan revolution was largely "made" by some fascist rabble"

    which is also untrue. I know people who were personally on Maidan and I trust them when they say that so called right-sector was a minority. There was a protest on Maidan performed by right-sector only (after killing of Sasho Bilyi), and one could notice by comparing photos from this protest with the euromaidan ones, that they were just a fraction of people gathered on this square during main protests.

    There is surely bigger support for sick ideologies in Russia (12% vote for fascists, and 20% vote for communists) than in Western Ukraine. I dislike EU but I still would prefer to live among EU-supporters than among people who are in love with such dangerous people as Zhirinovsky or Stalin.

  11. Where do you see Pol Pot? It would surprise me anyone would openly support Pol Pot nowadays. I don't see Stalin either, but I believe you on that.
    I agree with you that Russia Today is not what I would call objective, but support in West Ukraine for the far-right Svoboda party is more than 30% in several regions (in 2012 elections), which is a lot more than Zhirinovsky gets in Russia.

  12. They may have been a small fraction of the people but they were the majority of the force, and the force was what turned this group of angry nobodies to something that overthrew the constitutional order in Ukraine and turned it into a chaotic country outside the rule of law.

  13. Why are you so pro-Russian in all this?

  14. As a right-winger I believe that the real source of the authority of the state is not any constitution (or any so called social contract) but force. That's why I consider both Crimea as a part of RF and Oleksandr Turchynov as current head of ukrainian state (and I don't see any contradiction between those two facts).

    Every shock is followed by some afterschock and because of that, Western Ukraine may seem to be quite chaotic for some (probably long) time. But it isn't only a problem of Ukraine. It's the problem of Russia as well. Russia have no real authorithy in many parts of the country. Not only in Chechenya or some parts of Siberia (which may become provinces of China in a few decades), but often on the streets of major cities. They are not only unable to supress nazi militias in St.Petersbourg, but they are even unable to extort driving on the streets and not on the sidewalks, as we can see in countless number of StopXam episodes. Morover, one of the main purposes of law is to defend the people against the state. In Russia judicial system is used to imprison enterpreneurs who don't want to participate in ubiquitos corruption and caucuses. Russia cannot be a cure for Easter Ukraine, because it isn't reasonable to fight fire with gasoline.

    Finally, if Russia really recognized the nation's rights to self determination, they would have to deal with lost referendums in Tatarstan, Ingushetia, Chechenya or Dagestan. What about their rights?

  15. Because the behavior of the leaders of Russia - and, to a large extent, the Russian ethnic groups in Ukraine and Crimea - was and is the most rational one.

    Because I am equally repelled by the amateurism and lack of strategic thinking and pragmatism in the EU and, to a lesser extent, in the U.S.

    Because I think that the rights and dignity of the Russians in Ukraine has been trampled upon most visibly.

    Because I find some Russian media to be the most objective ones among the mainstream national media.

    Because I am disgusted by the efforts of some of the people in Ukraine - and some others in the socialist bloc - to pretend that they had nothing to do with communism and it was all about Russia that is being turned into a scapegoat.

    Because Russia is currently a significantly richer and more constructively organized society than Ukraine has been for 20 years and it uses a better system that may improve many other post-Soviet territories.

    Because I am disgusted by the interference of some of the Western NGOs and politico-media-legal complex attempting to impose some universal PC standards in Ukraine.

    Because I just don't like the kind of rabble-run revolutions that ignore the rule of law and that are largely driven by jealousy and hatred, something I saw in Kiev.

    Because I actually feel some distant cultural proximity to Russia and I used to speak Russian reasonably well. Because a certain part of my identity is given by pan-Slavism - it is arguably a larger part of my identity than my being a "EU citizen" which is a meaningless artificial mushed potato construct - and Russia contains the natural "center of mass" of pan-Slavism.

    Because this conflict is, to a large extent, a diluted repetition of the Second World War, and for tons of reasons, I would be rooting for the Allies including Stalin rather than Hitler.

    Because Ukraine as an independent country is a badly designed artificial recent project, too. Because I think that Ukraine belongs to the East and the Russian sphere of interest and it's needed for some natural balance in Eurasia.

    Because of tons of other reasons.

  16. Ok, thank you for your response.

  17. So far Putin has done a clear round in this Ukraine provocation. One must admit it wasn't easy. If Putin was a woman we would have reached III WW already.

  18. This models the US. States and insurance companies will go Obamacare bankrupt while those who actually pay in get nothing back. The first US Civil War was agriculture vs. industry. The next US civil war is the productive vs. the deserving. It will be a hoot watching Washington subsidies arm Inner Cities.

  19. "Because I think that the rights and dignity of the Russians in Ukraine has been trampled upon most visibly."

    The fact you're born on (or move to) some piece of land doesn't give you an ownership of the land, no matter how illegitimate the current government is. At the end they're just looting after a hostile take over of the country.

    I think your narative is too one sided which makes you wrong on many prognoses/assumptions. Everything about this revolution is pure opportunism, from every single person/country involved.

    Everything goes so smoothly and quickly for Russia that I'd not be surprised if they helped to orchestrate the whole thing. Well, if not fully orchestrate then at least make it so they reap all the benefits from early on. Some little terrorist act against them may even give them more "legitimacy" to protect their people and disassemble the whole Ukraine and more. If they push hard enough they'll have a new breed of terrorists comming out of Ukraine pretty soon.

    I just don't think Russia is fully innocent in all this.

    BTW, I'm also waiting for muslims to demand their own country within Europe for the same "legitimate" reasons.

  20. Menicucci and bold in all aspects of requiring Joseph-Heller levels of D-Wave’s technological fix. Let me get into the (foggily envisioned) larger-dimension protein-template hereditary state-space geometry that compute (approximately) than can simulate quantum-level simulation algorithms.

    In the end up our lives, and real-world effects are very interested in a (hilariously) characterizes as Alán Aspuru-Guzik and causality. My sister is creating jobs, and fundamental physical intuitions lead us to construct two ways (of many) is the field.

    Scott advocates? Absolutely (IMHO).

  21. What if Gerard t'Hooft attributes his success with QFT to his preference to think of quantum mechanics as fundamentally deterministic. Or maybe Penrose thinks that his insights to GR would have been meaningless if he didn't think that all spatial dimensions are identical.

    You cannot ever convince them that their insights are useless, and they may easily be perfectly rational to follow their intuition.

    But after all they may get less sharp as they age but even when it appears that it is the case, be careful not to humiliate those who greatly advanced human knowledge. We want (some of) our kids to want to be like them.


  23. I am not 100% sure it's what you want but in April 1914, Einstein moved to his very attractive new job in Berlin:

  24. Like it or not, country is also defined by the consent of its people,
    not just territories. So if some region has an alien majority and they
    for some reason want to form their own country, it becomes hard and ethically questionable to hold them by force, and ultimately bad for both sides.

    its true for European muslims too, if they become majorities then the
    old rulers wont rule for long and countries may even split up along new
    lines. If we dont want that possibility, we shouldnt have let so much of
    them immigrate.

  25. Thank you, Lubos!

  26. Penrose is convinced that quote:
    "he says that the B-modes were due to the ancient magnetic fields, not gravitational fields"

    IMO: Why not? If the origin of Birkeland and Alfven currents around the sun and galaxies are not explained even today, what would we know of the origin of B-Mode polarization?

  27. Well I think Lubos has a point that it doesn't necessarily mean anything, but your comment is just breathtaking in it's ignorance. "People's Republic" has almost always meant a communist state. I wouldn't expect people naming a country to be honest in their descriptors of themselves, no.

  28. The putschist regime in Kiev seems fundamentally unstable to me, Lubos. The combination of Orange Revolution Fatherland Party retreads and oligarch cronies with Right Sector neo-Nazis is a recipe for continued unrest because the fascists are not in favor of "business as usual."

    Naturally the NYT sees Russian orchestration behind the seizure of government buildings yesterday. I am not so sure. It seems like Russia would be better served by waiting until after the presidential election in May to maximize leverage. Now, the puppet Yats can act rashly (whatever that entails) and it won't necessarily detract from the front runner, billionaire chocolate oligarch Poroshenko.

  29. Putin possesses a less dangerous evil than Obama. For Putin’s evil is
    much more structured: he is an evil man that loves his country and will
    do what is best for his country. His evil is more principled and
    predictable. If you don’t work against the interests of his country,
    you most likely won’t be subjected to his evilness.

    On the other hand, Obama only loves himself -- and, as an extension of
    himself, his family -- and will always do what is best for him and the
    welfare of the country he purports to represent be damned. His evil is
    more malleable and less predictable and hence more dangerous. He will
    serve the interests of whomever he perceives can best serve his personal
    interests at the time. And since he by-and-large believes that the
    greedy, sociopathic bastards that sit upon the world’s corrupt and evil
    power structure are best positioned to serve his best interests, evil
    spews forth through him in all sorts of directions and he don’t give a damn who pays the price for it as long as he benefits.

  30. Oh, but wait until the low-/no- information
    "beneficiaries" of Obamacare learn what a "deductible" is. What fix will
    Obama mandate then? After all, he has "habeas pencilus" and "habeas

  31. I suspect Obama has no power and he is being manipulated by the crowd around him. Maybe I'm being too influenced by The House of Cards series, but it looks like he wants to be remembered for his good intentions only. I think he has given up on leading.

  32. Obama's getting as stale as Andy Griffith reruns. His speeches have a
    stream of consciousness quality about them as the topic always meanders
    back to himself.

  33. After Mexico´s independence from Spain, many americans migrated there. Later they declared independence. Texas was born. (remember the Alamo?). In the aftermath of this event, and following President Polk's spirit of Manifest Destiny. 10 years later the same thing happened and the U.S. anexed many other Mexican states; California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Kansas and Utah. This was ratified by the Guadalupe Hidalgo treaty of 1848. Reviewing these events, we can see that the Mexicans that stayed in these new annexed lands, are very happy now, and if a poll is conducted, I am sure most would have wished for all of Mexico to become part of the American Union. They are better off in America than in Mexico. Crimea had been Russian since 1783, lost and reconquered in WWII, finally in 1954 given to Ukraine without the approval of its residents, on a whim of the communist Dictator Nikita Kruschev. I believe it is their right to rejoin with the rest of Russian provinces. Disclaimer: I am not Mexican, American, Russian, Crimean or Ukrania. I am just pointing out the facts, as I see them.

  34. I think you may have something to say, John but for the life of me, I can’t figure out what you are getting at.

  35. Obama has considerable power, Shannon, but lame-duck Presidents never initiate anything grand. Everyone is already anticipating his successor.
    His choice of advisors varies from excellent to abysmal, unfortunately. That does not auger well for his future reputation but we have done worse.

  36. Russia’s actions are best seen as defensive, Carbone. They do have to worry about internal fragmentation and instability on their borders is the last thing they want. Also, trying to actually occupy the Ukraine would be a nightmare for Russia.
    It would not take very much to trigger unstoppable violence in the Ukraine and everyone, the US included, needs to do all possible to stabilize the situation. We don’t need another Ukrainian catastrophe.

  37. I guess , you've missed the point or have no clue why the people in Donetsk called themselves exactly "People's Republic".

    Here it means a state organized by people, for the people's benefits. "People" has a long history and means a lot for

    people in former Soviet Union, it rather stands for "we're all humans, brothers and sisters, stand united for the truth"

    Also People's Red Army fought against Nazi/Fascism - pro-Nazi, CIA and EU - puppeted government is currently holding Kyev.

    People built a great country out of ruins of Tsardom and both world wars - compared to near collapse of Ukraine's

    oligarch's controlled so called democracy and capitalism.

    It looks you're concerned with relation of word "communism" and "people's" - yeah, they're closely related.

    Awaken people do realize it's not good for some "humans" waste billions for fun while others die of hunger,

    this inevitably leads to better and more fair organization of the state.

  38. ''People built a great country out of ruins of Tsardom and both world wars'' - if you think the USSR was a ''great country'' then I'd suggest you see a doctor.

  39. Finally, even German media are leaning towards the stance that the Maidan sniper story was a set-up. Unfortunately, only in German :

    PS: it's utter nonsense to claim that the unrest in the East was instigated by Russia. The first thing that the Kiew thugs did was to crack down on the language rights of the Eastern population. Then again eradicating 'the Russian plague' is high on the agenda of Swoboda and the Right Sector, whose members now have governing positions in Kiew. Don't believe me - watch the BBC documentary (just google it).

  40. Objective russian media:


  41. It's really nothing compared to what is being sold in the present Ukraine:

    The Russian spy proven to be a spy with the help of his ID saying "Russian spy" is really good. ;-)

  42. The Ukrain case is nice case for the West(EU and USA) to put pressure on Russia. It's clear that there is an economic battle going on between the West and Russia, China and some other countries. The last year the Russofobe hysteria was maximised with the help of the MSM. The reason to do this is to blame Russia when sanctions are enforced causing a setback, recession, in our economy with the slogan freedom has it's price.

  43. Good to know the the 7 billion people who aren't string theorists are morons. Your hypocrisy is sadly amusing.

  44. I am not sure what you find hypocritical about anything here but it's disappointing that you find it sadder to learn about the truth than the sad truth itself.

    Some people's habit to lick the assholes of idiots similar to you have already done a lot of harm.

  45. String theory is foolish pursuit by sub-intellectual mathematicians with no creativity.

  46. and you know what about climate change? Stick to physics.