Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Our Final Video from Odessa Before Heading Home


Regis Tremblay and I return back to Maine tomorrow after several days in Odessa, Ukraine. It's been a heart breaking trip to this beautiful city on the Black Sea. Sadly Ukraine is coming apart at the seams following the 2014 US sponsored coup d'état in Kiev that installed a puppet regime fully under the control of corporate interests.
 
Today Regis and I were able to go to the Trades Hall and we made this short video about the entire incident. I urge you to take a look at it and to share it widely with your contacts.
 
Many thanks.
 

Best Film Yet on Odessa Massacre


A film examining the arson attack on Odessa's Trade Unions House at the start of the civil war in Ukraine and the role played by ultranationalism, the police and politics in post-Soviet space.

It is the best film on the subject that I have yet seen. Several survivors of the massacre are interviewed.

By Ulrich Heyden & Marco Benson - produced by leftvision.de

My View from Ukraine


  • We spent the day yesterday here in Odessa catching up with work and doing two interviews.  I posted one with Riley Waggaman and the other is still in process.  Today we hope to get back out on the street for some final filming before heading home tomorrow via Istanbul.
  • The economy here in Ukraine is crashing.  Yesterday we got an up close and personal view of the new black market economy when we needed to get across town for a meeting.  One of our hosts just stuck out his hand like he was hailing a taxi except ordinary citizens stop and consider if they want to take on transporting us for a small fee - basically $2.  This appears to be a popular way people pick up some extra cash.  In our case the driver had one person already in the car and while driving us back to our hotel he picked up another person. 
  • The deal the US and Europe offered Ukraine was if it went forward with the 2014 coup d'etat then they would be given preferential treatment to be included into the European economic market.  The kicker though was they had to first reject economic relations with their neighbor Russia.  But Europe has not come through with their part of the deal and now Ukraine has rejected Russia and even gone to war with her via the attacks on the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine.  Now of course the western corporate elites will come into Ukraine to 'save them' and buy up all national assets for practically nothing.  So Ukraine is being hollowed out and the western goal to create chaos along the Russian border is well underway.
  • The Wall Street Journal has reported that NATO is preparing to deploy four battalions -- approximately 4,000 troops -- to Russia's border. The US claims this in response to Russian military exercises near the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.  Here is Washington's logic: Russian military exercises inside their own country are "extraordinarily provocative" but somehow stationing thousands of US and NATO troops along the border with Russia is not at all provocative.  Spiegel (a German weekly news magazine), citing German government sources, writes that Washington is speaking of the necessity of “shunning” Russia and emphasizing the active participation of Germany in the planned deployment of NATO units in the rotations near the Russian border.  Inside Germany there is not consensus on the plan for increased poking of the hornets nest near Russia.  Many German business interests want the sanctions against Russia lifted as they have hugely impacted commerce between the countries - same for France and several other European nations.  Talk about stirring up old wounds - the Russians lost 25 million people when Hitler invaded the former Soviet Union.......US-NATO are playing with fire and contemporary Germany would be wise to show some restraint.
  • The sad point though is that Europe continues following the US over the cliff.  The US sponsored wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria have unleashed the massive refugee crisis that is now overwhelming Europe.  You'd think after awhile that European leadership would wise up and stop turning over their national sovereignty to Washington. I suppose that the US has installed neo-con puppets in 'old' European capitals just as they have in most of the former Soviet bloc capitals of eastern 'new' Europe. 
  • How much shit is Russia supposed to eat anyway?  How many times can you kick Moscow in the teeth and expect it not to react.  This is the essential US-NATO strategy today.  Continue blasting Putin as the new Hitler in the western media.  Destroy Ukraine - destabilize Moldova and other countries on or near the Russian border.  Force Russia to react and then demonize Putin again and again.  Eventually the rubber band snaps and the hot war begins.  The US wants regime change in Moscow but how did such a venture go in Iraq or Libya?  If the US-NATO can't handle Iraq how can they dream of taking on Russia? 
  • This is the view from Ukraine as I sit here in Odessa.  Most Americans have no clue and few would give a damn.  Even some in the 'peace movement' think I've gone over to the other side and have been 'Putinized'.  My view though is that even many so-called peaceniks in the west have swallowed western media propaganda hook, line, and sinker. All I can say at this point is put your ear to the railroad tracks and hear the train coming.....

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Demanding Justice in Odessa



Regis Tremblay and I this morning interviewed  Riley Waggaman, an American journalist living in Moscow.  Riley came to Odessa for the May 2 memorial and gives an eye-opening view of Russia, Putin, and the Russian people.

Taking Action

 
Disobedience is a new film about a new phase of the climate movement: courageous action that is being taken on the front lines of the climate crisis on every continent, led by regular people fed up with the power and pollution of the fossil fuel industry.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Daniel Berrigan, Presente!


Testimony from an Eye Witness in Odessa


Alexander Todovov shares his thoughts from May 2, 2014 when three of his close friends were killed inside the Trades Union Hall in Odessa, Ukraine.

Alexander is a lawyer and a journalist and is quite eloquent as he describes the "scary movie" experience on that fateful day when neo-Nazis killed more than 50 people inside the hall.

On that occasion local activists were gathering petition signatures on the Kulikovo Square that fronts the Trades Hall seeking a local referendum supporting local autonomy for the people after the US created coup d'etat in Kiev.  When they were attacked by a huge horde of Nazi activists they ran inside the hall.  

The Nazis then began throwing Molotov cocktails at the hall which quickly caught fire.  As the smoke made it impossible to breathe inside the building people climbed onto the window ledges but were shot at by Nazis on the ground.  Some jumped down and were beaten to death with bats.  Many died inside the hall from smoke inhalation and burns.  Only a few safely escaped that day.

(Above video by Regis Tremblay)

Standing with the Mothers in Odessa



Many feared that there would be more violence in Odessa, Ukraine yesterday similar to what took well over 50 lives on May 2, 2014.  But in fact the day was peaceful when up to 10,000 people gathered near the Trades Union Hall to place flowers and stand with the Mothers Committee in a make shift memorial. The public was blocked from having direct contact with the Trades Hall by huge numbers of local police, national security services and fully armed neo-Nazi Azov battalion members who have been incorporated into the newly formed 'National Guard' in Ukraine (equipped and trained by US Special Forces troops at a base in western Ukraine).

The morning began with a surprise outside our hotel window when we noticed that six buses full of Army personnel were using the spot as a staging area for the day's events.  After breakfast we joined a group of international alternative media people who were taken on a walk through this beautiful city to a park where another right-wing group Right Sector (Pravy Sector) was holding a small protest.  They chanted some of their usual nationalist slogans but were nearly out numbered by the media people filming their every move.

I was taken by the feeling that the public seemed to be going about their normal Monday activities on this sunny but breezy day almost as if nothing was happening in a nearby part of town.

We next walked to the Trades Union Hall and as we approached I was overwhelmed by the huge numbers of people holding flowers heading toward the now sacred site.  But we couldn't actually get onto what is known as Kulikovo Square that fronts the Trades Hall.  The entire area was sealed off and behind the plastic crime scene string of red tape were heavily armed Azov battalion members.  The irony is that the neo-Nazis were now guarding the very grounds were those of their political ideology had committed the unpunished crimes of May 2, 2014.  The people, including the mothers of the dead, were not allowed to lay their flowers at the scene of the crime.

Instead what turned out to be several thousand people crowded into a tight space with the Trades Hall looming just a couple hundreds yards away - close but ever so far away.  The people were solemn and Regis Tremblay and I took the time to do some interviews with various people we met in the crowd including one man named Alexander who told the story of being at the Trades Hall on May 2 while three of his friends were killed.  Two died from smoke inhalation inside the burning building and one, who jumped from a first-floor window, was beaten to death with bats by neo-Nazis who had set the building on fire and were picking people off as they tried to escape.

We were taken back to the hotel for an amazing lunch.  Just before entering the banquet room a gaggle of what appeared to be politicians came up the stairs to the second floor and made a grand entrance.  We learned they were EU politicians who proceeded to go around the room and shake everyone's hand.  They didn't appear to be very interested in speaking to any of us and once we entered the luncheon we noticed one large empty table that had apparently been reserved for the EU group.  But, we later learned, they didn't want to be too closely associated with all of us - maybe they featured they might piss off the US government.

Several from the Mothers Committee rose in turn and made a toast in memory of those who were killed during the May 2 massacre.  After each would finish speaking everyone rose from the dining tables with their wine glass in hand.  The food was beyond belief, more than we could ever dream of eating, and before we were able to finish the meal we were given a five minute warning that we were going to return to Kulikovo Square in hopes that we might now be able to actually reach the Trades Hall.  

We quickly boarded a bus parked just outside the hotel and drove the short distance toward the Square.  Police had blocked roads all around but one of the mothers jumped off the bus and ran across the street and began demanding that the bus full of grieving women be allowed to pass.  At last the police agreed and as the bus approached the Square we saw out the right side windows a group of chanting Nazis who, when they realized who was on the bus, threw something that hit a window.  Once we arrived at the Square and got off the bus we found another mass of people lined up and they created a path between them that the mothers passed thru with the international guests following closely behind.

As we passed thru this line I saw people weeping and they began chanting and we soon came upon a make shift alter full of flowers and candles.  The now famous Trades Hall loomed in the near background. A banner was held up with the photos of those killed and various mothers were handed the microphone to share some words.  One woman's emotion struck me deeply and I recognized the words 'fascist' and at the end 'nyet, nyet, nyet'.  They released a bunch of white doves that flew towards the hall and then black balloons were set off into the clear blue sky.



Not long after this a couple of Nazis tried to pick a fight with some police but otherwise they were kept at a distance from the mourning crowds.  I learned that organizers believe that throughout the day about 10,000 people had come to the Square.  The original hope was that at least 3,000 would come.  The government worked hard in advance to scare the public away from the event.  Just days before photos were widely spread of military vehicles parked directly in front of the Trades Hall bearing a Nazi insignia used by the Azov battalion.  Rather than frighten people this heavy handed tactic likely only made the public even more determined to come to the sight of this unpunished crime.


We were actually astounded that the three of us from the US (Phil Wilayto, Regis Tremblay and myself) were ever allowed to enter Ukraine.  Four people from France, two from Germany and 10 EU parliament members were denied entry to Ukraine in recent days.  Yesterday in the huge crowds we saw people holding signs saying they came from Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, and Israel - in all we heard that people came from more than a dozen countries.

At 10:00 am yesterday four of the key leaders of the Mothers Committee were ordered to report to the local offices of the SBU (Security Services) where they were detained until just after 9:00 pm.  The goal of the government was to destroy the May 2 events planned by the families of the victims.  But others from the group stepped into the breach and did their best to organize a powerful event on the fly.  And they surely achieved their goal.  

It is now up to the rest of us to step up and show our support for the May 2 Mothers Committee.  One thing we all can do is sign and share their petition calling for an independent investigation of the crimes at the Trades Union Hall.  You can find it here 

Having spent the last two years following the illegal and immoral US-NATO war on the people in eastern Ukraine it has been an enormous honor to be here in Odessa.  I will continue to do everything I can to help build resistance to what I consider to be the cynical creation of chaos inside Ukraine as a way to draw Russia into a war with the US and NATO.  Being here and feeling the heartfelt pleas from the Mothers Committee makes me more determined than ever.

(Above video by Regis Tremblay)

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Sunday Song from Odessa


Made it into Odessa, Ukraine thru passport control without a question.....local support waiting for us to take us to hotel. Got some needed sleep. Today is the memorial at Trades Hall, not sure what to expect. Two US Senators promised to call State Dept on our behalf urging safe event.....

Just noticed six busloads of police/Army outside our hotel at 7:30 am......

Regis and I went downstairs for breakfast with an Italian activist who also arrived last night....two of them from Italy here. Told us that two French were turned back at airport and we also heard that two Germans were turned back as well when they arrived in Odessa.

Please keep sharing information worldwide about the May 2 Mothers Memorial Committee demand that there be an independent international investigation of the May 2, 2014 massacre at the Trades Union Hall in Odessa.  

The US-NATO puppet government in Kiev has not yet, and never will, do anything to prosecute those responsible for the killing of well over 50 people.  (In spite of the fact there is massive video evidence of neo-Nazis shooting guns at those clinging from the windows of the burning building and other Nazis throwing Molotov cocktails into the building.)  Several hundred were also injured on May 2 and many disappeared after being taken to hospital or police stations that sad day.  

In honor of Father Daniel Berrigan who died this weekend I leave you with his words:  "The difference between doing something and doing nothing is everything."

Saturday, April 30, 2016

US Ambassador to Ukraine Gives Nazis Green Light


US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt on Friday made a trip to Mariupol in eastern Ukraine to praise the May 9, 2014 neo-Nazi battalion shooting of unarmed people in Mariupol.

Pyatt is the other person in the now famous phone call with Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, when she told the ambassador who the US was supporting to lead the 'new' Ukrainian government after the US sponsored coup d'etat in Kiev.  Nuland told Pyatt, "Fuck the EU". 

The events in Mariupol, Donetsk region (when neo-Nazi Azov fighters shot at a peaceful demonstration of residents on May 9, 2014) were hailed by Pyatt as an example of the struggle against the “Russian world” for all of Donbass during his meeting with representatives of the local government.

May 9 is a holiday that commemorates the capitulation of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union at the end of Second World War, known in the Soviet Union as the Great Patriotic War.  (25 million Soviet citizens were killed fighting the Hitler Army.) It's obvious that the US is trying to erase this history inside of Ukraine by encouraging the current US sponsored puppet regime in Kiev to use their neo-Nazi battalions to suppress any peaceful marches or assemblies that gather to remember the defeat of Hitler's forces.

Below is a short video that shows a bit of the May 9, 2014 events in Mariupol where the neo-Nazis broke up peaceful holiday events.  When the unarmed residents tried to chase the Nazis out of town they turned and fired on the peaceful people wounding and killing some unknown number of them.  

Amazingly these are the very events that Pyatt was celebrating with the 'authorities' in Mariupol.  The US ambassador, appointed under the Democrat administration of Obama, is giving the green light to Kiev to continue this violent suppression of the people both on May 2 in Odessa and throughout the country on May 9 when people attempt to celebrate the holiday to remember the defeat of Hitler.