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....
- Name: Bruce K. Gagnon
- Location: Bath, Maine, United States
Saturday, March 01, 2014
The latest edition of This Issue features Lisa Savage from CodePink Maine discussing US drone policy and the need to cut military spending. Lisa is a high school teacher and lives in Solon, Maine.
THE GRAND CHESSBOARD
As Russia moved additional military forces into the Crimea the New York Times reports this morning:
On Saturday morning, the pro-Russia prime minister of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, declared that he had sole control over the military and the police in the disputed peninsula and appealed to Mr. Putin for Russian help in safeguarding the region. He also said a public referendum on independence would be held on March 30.The Kremlin has denied any attempt to seize Crimea, where it maintains important military installations, including the headquarters of its Black Sea Fleet. But the Kremlin quickly issued a statement saying that Mr. Aksyonov’s plea “would not be ignored” and within hours the Federation Council, the upper chamber of Parliament, had authorized military action.
In the same article is a comment from Europe about the Russian move:
There was also limited response from Europe. Carl Bildt, the Swedish foreign minister, issued a statement saying that Russia’s actions in Crimea were “contrary to international law and the principles of European security.”
I found this quite interesting that the comment came from Sweden - often thought of as a peace-loving and neutral country. The current US Ambassador to Sweden is Mark Brzezinski, the son of Obama military adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. Since the younger Brzezinski has been posted to Sweden that nation has become more belligerent toward Russia and northern Sweden, in full 'cooperation' with US-NATO, has become more militarized as a space and drone test region. (We held our Global Network annual conference there in 2013.)
I've been following the career of Zbigniew Brzezinski since he was Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser. He led the US into the training and arming of the Taliban in Afghanistan during the former Soviet Union's disastrous occupation.
In a book called Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management editor Holly Sklar wrote:
In 1973 the Trilateral Commission was founded by David Rockefeller, Chase Manhattan Bank chairman, Zbignew Brzezinski, [President Jimmy] Carter's national security advisor, and other like-minded "eminent private citizens." Some 300 members are drawn from international business and banking, government, academia, media, and conservative labor. The Commission's purpose is to engineer an enduring partnership among the ruling classes of North America, Western Europe, and Japan-hence the term "trilateral"-in order to safeguard the interests of Western capitalism in an explosive world. The private Trilateral Commission is attempting to mold public policy and construct a framework for international stability in the coming decades. ..."trilateralism" refers to the doctrine of world order advanced by the Commission.
So Zbignew became the first executive director of the Trilateral Commission and one of his early jobs was to go find a new "fresh face' for president in the 1976 election. He identified a young unknown mildly progressive southern governor named Jimmy Carter. So a man right out of the blue, with no national political base, got elected president on the basis of selling peanuts. At that time the American people had not yet recovered from the 'Vietnam war syndrome' and wanted no more tangling military conflicts. The purpose of Carter was to create the image of a clean slate but one fully under control of the oil-i-garchy.
I voted for Carter because he said "The arms race was a disgrace to the human race." Then he went on as president to build the Kings Bay nuclear submarine base near the Georgia and Florida border. I stood in front of those base gates with a sign many times over the years. Toward the end of his administration Carter began cutting social programs and ramping up military spending.
Brzezinski again surfaced in my consciousness right after 9/11 when I read his book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives. In the book he talked about the need for the US to occupy Central Asia for a long time if we hoped to control the oil and natural gas in the Caspian Sea region. He said the American people would never go along with the enormous cost of such an occupation unless there was first a "Pearl Harbor like incident". And then there was.........
Brzezinski came to my attention again in 2008 when Obama first ran for president. Right before that election I was reading an interview with Brzezinski in a British publication. He was saying that he had vetted Obama early-on, while teaching at Columbia University when Obama was a student there in the early 1980's. He told the interviewer that he was confident that Obama would fit the mold. During the presidential campaign Brzezinski was listed as a campaign adviser to Obama. Obama was the new fresh face after the hated Goerge W. Bush. Good cop - bad cop.
MSNBC's Morning Joe TV talk show is cohosted by Mika Brzezinski, the daughter of Zbigniew. She often has her daddy on the show to spout his anti-Russian rhetoric making it a part of the American breakfast experience.
One of my favorite contemporary journalists is Pepe Escobar who writes for Asia Times. Today he said:
Russian troops in Crimea ARE LEGAL. According to the SOFA in place Moscow may deploy up to 30,000 soldiers. At the moment, there are less than 15,000, if that.
Don’t mess with Russian intelligence. Even before neo-con Vic “fuck the EU” Nuland’s intercept, they had already identified the wider mechanics of the CIA-style coup – including Turkish intelligence financing Tatars in Crimea.
First Crimea – then there will be East Ukraine, from Dnipro to Donetsk. Like Crimea, they will ask for Russian support, military or otherwise. Thus the long-term scenario of all of them possibly joining the Russian Federation.
The coup in Kiev ONLY WORKS IF THE “WEST” – AS IN NATO – GETS CRIMEA. Otherwise it’s void.
And what will the Tatars in Crimea do? Stage a jihad? Wait: the “West” will surely try to FINANCE THIS JIHAD.
Very possible endgame: the “West” gets a bankrupt back of beyond (West Ukraine). Russia gets the industrialized East Ukraine, not to mention ultra-strategic Crimea.
Friday, February 28, 2014
LETTER FROM OKINAWA
Yesterday in the mail I received a letter from Susumu Inamine, the Mayor of Nago City on Okinawa. I was one of the signers of a January letter of US activists and intellectuals who declared our opposition to the relocation of a US Marine base at Futenma to another part of the island at Henoko in Nago City.
The letter was widely printed, along with our photos, in major Okinawan newspapers. Mayor Inamine wrote that on January 19 he was reelected in Nago City "holding fast to my previous campaign promise not to allow the construction of a new military base either on sea or land.... in Nago City. This reflects the collective will of the people of Nago City who have been at the mercy of the Futenma relocation issue for the past 18 years."
Mayor Inamine also wrote, “Soon after the city’s mayoral election, however, the Japanese government declared that they would go ahead with the relocation to Henoko as planned regardless of the result of the election… For these reasons, I think it is necessary for me to visit the US to issue a direct appeal to the US government and citizens over our opposition to the relocation of Marine base Futenma to Henoko.”
I've seen the US plans to build warplane runways out into the pristine ocean where endangered species are found. Local peace activists have been arrested and battered by the Japanese government in recent years as they expand their non-violent campaign against the base. During the recent election cycle on Okinawa the Japanese government, surely at the behest of the Pentagon, offered big money to Okinawa if they voted for candidates that supported the base relocation. But the bribe was turned down and Mayor Inamine was reelected.
Okinawa is a key US military outpost needed as a base for the Obama "pivot" into the Asia-Pacific to surround China. But the people on Okinawa have had enough of the US military presence and want them gone yesterday. Similar opposition to US bases is seen these days in South Korea, Guam, Philippines, Australia and other places in the region.
My step-dad was stationed in Okinawa and Korea during the Korean War. He worked in Air Force photo reconnaissance at the time and had many scrapbooks full of pictures from those two war zones. In my youth I spent many hours pouring through these photo books - little did I know that some day I'd be working alongside the indigenous people from Okinawa and Korea to kick the US military off their lands.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
THIS SAYS IT ALL
My dear artist friend in Florida W. B. Park wrote me today after reading my rant about the US destabilizing Ukraine. I've been working with Will since the early 1980's when I was organizing in Florida. He made countless drawings and cartoons for leaflets, newsletters, posters, and even once designed us a billboard that we put up. When I published my book, Come Together Right Now: Organizing Stories from a Fading Empire, I used all of Will's artwork that I could dig up.
Will's first draft today was a pencil sketch and I asked him to add the "missile defense" interceptors that the US-NATO are now surrounding Russia with. He put them in Uncle Sam's hand and then mixed in the color and fine-tuned the piece. It's totally brilliant and I just love the big military boot that the Pentagon is now stomping down on the neck of much of the world.
Thank you Will. You are great.
US ALLIES IN UKRAINE
The US-NATO plan to upend the government in Ukraine has been aided on the streets of the country by right-wing forces that were linked with Hitler when they supported the German invasion of the Soviet Union during WW II.
These are the type of cats the US has been funding to do the street protests in Kiev and across the Ukraine.
SUDDEN DEATH IN MISSISSIPPI
Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, long-time radical, prominent lawyer and human rights activist died suddenly and unexpectedly Tuesday in Jackson, Mississippi. He was 66.
Lumumba had only been in office as mayor since last summer.
Born in Detroit, Edwin Taliaferro changed his name in 1969, saying the first name, Chokwe, came from an African tribe that resisted slavery centuries ago, and the last name from the Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba.
Lumumba was labeled a Black terrorist by many for his leadership of the radical group, the Republic of New Afrika, in the 1970s and ’80s. The group advocated a separate Black government and reparations for slavery and was closely monitored by the FBI.
But while many members of such separatist groups were harassed and prosecuted by law enforcement, Lumumba managed to take a different route. After finishing first in his law school class at Wayne State University, Lumumba became a staff attorney in the Detroit Public Defenders Office. He formed a law firm in Detroit in 1978 and became a renowned human rights lawyer and activist. He moved to Jackson in 1988 and continued his legal work on behalf of the indigent and powerless, helping to found organizations like the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and eventually being elected to the City Council in 2009.
Lumumba's victory as mayor of Mississippi’s capital surprised even some of his strongest supporters. It sparked worries in the city’s establishment. He was considered potentially too radical to build coalitions and too outspoken for the wheeling and dealing necessary to govern a city.
It did not take him long to prove them wrong. Lumumba quickly forged good working ties across Jackson’s civic spectrum, earning the respect of his election opponents and the business community. He passed a budget that raised spending by 43 percent to address the city’s urgent infrastructure needs. And he funded it with a sharp rise in water and sewer rates. He won approval by referendum of a sales tax increase for public works.
Lumumba proved that a dedicated and determined leftist could run a major city and still maintain his grassroots base and his personal integrity.
THE US ARROGRANCE STIRS ME
I watched the mainstream national news last night at 6:30 pm. I did alot of raging at the TV. One of the networks led off with the story about Russia holding war games inside their own country, near the Ukrainian border. The White House and Secretary of State John Kerry issued stern warnings to Russia about not trying to "interfere" with the current balkanization of the Ukraine. In Crimea, riots between pro-EU and pro-Russian citizens broke out. The Russian Navy has their Black Sea base in Crimea.
I was ready to throw my slippers at the TV when Obama and Kerry threatened Russia over any "interference". Who the hell are they to talk about interfering? The now famous "Fuck the EU" quote from Victoria Nuland (wife of Bush-Cheney era neocon Robert Kagan) was direct evidence of the deep involvement and interference of the US in Ukraine. This whole story just reeks of hypocrisy and arrogance on the part of the US.
Talking about war games - the US-NATO in recent months were holding war games in Latvia and Lithuania - practicing flying NATO warplanes right up against Russia. Were they trying to draw a response? And the US has been heavily arming Georgia and doing joint war games there, again right along the Russian border. At this very moment the US and South Korea are running war games aimed at North Korea which is bordered by Russia and China.
But the American people would never know about US war games because the network TV news never reports those facts. They only report the news that is intended to lead the public in a certain direction - and that direction is demonizing Russia (and China) in order to justify US imperial moves.
During one of the commercials that dominate network TV an actor, about my age, was selling some product. I had muted the sound but watched this nice looking middle class man appear so genuine and I couldn't help but feel confident that he was gaining the trust of those across the nation who had not cut the sound off. I then thought of a lifetime of watching the tube, buying the soap and the bullshit sold on corporate TV. The false patriotism during the Olympics... the agenda infused news reporting done by reporters who toe the corporate party line.... the false innocence and phony outrage expressed by US politicians about Russia trying to defend their immediate front-door interests as if the US would not be going ballistic if the Russian Bear had its "diplomats" handing out bread during riots in Canada intended to force that nation to break away from the capitalist camp and move into bed with Moscow. Just imagine that one.
This stuff just drives me crazy. And the American people keep walking off the cliff in lockstep as the US prods, pokes, surrounds, and stomps on Russia which sooner or later will indeed respond - and when they do we will hear this from Washington - "Holy shit, look what Putin is doing... we told you he was crazy and wants war with us!"
The US pulls this kind of crap daily all over the world... but you'd never know it back here at home because it is not reported on the TV - and that is all that counts.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
TAKING BACK DEMOCRACY ONE PERSON AT A TIME
The WE THE PEOPLE initiative in Maine is a formal request to amend the U.S. Constitution to safeguard access to the political process for all US citizens regardless of income by establishing that:
Corporations Are Not People: The rights of corporations and artificial entities are subordinate to the rights of natural persons. Corporations and artificial entities are the creation of government for the purpose of promoting the life, health, and general welfare of the public and may be regulated, modified or abolished by government to accomplish that purpose.
Money Is Not Speech: The spending of money to influence elections is not speech under the First Amendment, and may be reasonably regulated in order to prevent the appearance or reality of corruption, and to promote a greater balance, participation, and equality of citizens in the electoral process.
To kick off this statewide effort, that will require us to gather tens of thousands of signatures of registered voters, an event will be held this weekend.
Join us Saturday, March 1 for the We The People Maine Celebration Bash from 5:00 ‑ 9:00 pm at Steve Burke's home which is at 1160 Atlantic Highway (Rte 1) in Warren, Maine - right across from School House Farm.
On Saturday March 8, noon to 3:00 pm a meeting of the organizing committee will be held at the Mediation & Facilitation Resources Center, 11 King Street, in Augusta. The meeting will include a workshop on the rules behind signature collection. All are invited.
Find more about the campaign here
MORE FROM MOYERS
In a Web-exclusive interview, political scientist Adolph Reed Jr. talks with Bill Moyers about his new article in the March issue of Harper’s Magazine – a challenge to America’s progressives provocatively titled, “Nothing Left: The Long, Slow Surrender of American Liberals.”
In the piece, Reed writes that Democrats and liberals have become too fixated on election results rather than aiming for long term goals that address the issues of economic inequality, and that the administrations of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama too often acquiesced to the demands of Wall Street and the right.
As a result, Reed tells Moyers, the left is no longer a significant force in American politics. “If we understand the left to be anchored to our convictions that society can be made better than it actually is, and a commitment to combating economic inequality as a primary one, the left is just gone.”
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
YOUR $$$$ AT WORK
Put the green frog skins into doing good for the people of our mothership Earth....we can stop killing one another on behalf of Mr. Big.
NEW WAR BUDGET AND STRATEGY ANNOUNCED BY OBAMA TEAM
Secretary of War Chuck Hagel yesterday announced the Obama administration's Pentagon budget proposal for the coming year. Despite mandates for cuts in military spending after agreements with Congress under sequestration, Hagel actually calls for an increase of more than $115 billion for war making.
The Hagel budget basically calls for cuts in Army ground forces and cutbacks in military pay, housing and commissary facilities on bases. Life for the enlisted will become more difficult. The Pentagon is also calling for the closing of a few National Guard posts in some states.
Hagel calls for 'sustaining' the Pentagon's nuclear triad - air, ground, and sea delivery systems of nuclear weapons. Also called for is an increase in drones and robotic forces as well as significant expansion in cyber warfare capabilities.
Wall Street immediately reacted by joyfully giving Lockheed-Martin all-time high stock gains. The writing on the wall is clear - cuts in troop levels and increase in high-tech space directed war-making capability.
We will see an expansion of US "hidden" wars in the near future and the Obama budget reflects this reality. While Hagel wants to pare back the size of the active-duty military by 13% and the reserves by 5% in coming years he would boost the size of Special Operations forces by about 6%. The plan is to add more than 3,000 personnel to the kinds of special ops forces teams that reportedly killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
These same clandestine forces now operate in more than 75 countries around the world. In his film “Dirty Wars” investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill reports on the largely unaccountable Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) that is now doing targeted assassinations, destabilization, and training of right-wing and terrorist forces used by the US in places like Ukraine, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and beyond. The corporate oligarchy is moving rapidly to consolidate their total control of the people around the world and the US is playing its role of "security export" rather well.
Mainstream media reports of the Hagel announcement also tag two key places on the planet that will receive special emphasis from this new budget. Those are the African continent and the Asia-Pacific. This is where the long-range military operations planning and funding are heading.
Our organizing (no matter whether it is local, regional, national or international) needs to take into account this very fundamental direction the Obama supported military complex is tacking toward.
In addition it is important that we all talk more about jobs. It will be hard to cut military spending because of the local jobs issue. We must speak to this fundamental concern that is wrapped in fear, as everyone knows that jobs are scarce these days.
The growing conversion movement across the nation indicates that more and more groups are making these job connections. Imagine if military production workers and the peace movement were to stand hand-in-hand calling for conversion of the military industrial complex. In the early 1990’s that was indeed happening across the nation when William Winpisinger served as President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. He vigorously took on the responsibility to link military production workers with peace groups in order to successfully demand conversion after the end of the Cold War. That promised “peace dividend” though never came to be as new “enemies” were created in the Middle East and Central Asia. The conversion issue was deflated….. but not defeated.
Many of us across the nation have stayed on message during these darker years. We’ve kept talking about conversion and linking jobs. We are eternally grateful to the Department of Economics and Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. They’ve continued to give us the empirical evidence that proves military production was the very worst way to create jobs. In every other case – rail, wind, solar, conservation, teachers, hospitals, or even tax cuts create more jobs.
The jobs issue is the long-sought buried treasure that we’ve been looking for…. right before our eyes. Pick it up.
Monday, February 24, 2014
FINAL GLOBAL NETWORK CONFERENCE PROGRAM
Vandenberg’s Role in US Global Domination: Implications of US “Pivot” into the Asia-Pacific
22nd Annual Space Organizing Conference
March 14-16, 2014
Santa Barbara, California
Friday, March 14
1:30 pm Hospitality lounge & Conference registration at La Casa de Maria Retreat Center (800 El Bosque Rd, Santa Barbara). All guests should check in at the registration office, and then proceed to Casa San Ysidro.
2:30 pm Leave for Vandenberg AFB
4:00 – 5:00 Vigil at Vandenberg AFB
6:30 – 7:30 Dinner at Casa San Ysidro house
- Welcome by Dennis Apel (Guadalupe Catholic Worker House)
- Music by Holly Gwinn Graham (Olympia, Washington) & JoYakgol (Jeju Island)
8:00 – 9:30 Showing of Ghosts of Jeju documentary film
Saturday, March 15
7:30 am Breakfast at Casa San Ysidro house
9:00 – 11:00 Introductions and local updates
11:15 – 12:00 Presentation by Bard Wormdal (Norwegian journalist) on his book The Satellite War
12:00 – 1:30 Lunch and awards
2:30 – 3:15 Presentation by Tamara Lorincz (Canadian activist) on Conversion & Demilitarisation
3:30 – 4:15 Presentation by Masaki Toda (Japanese activist) on US X-Band “missile defense" radar being deployed in Kyoto region.
5:00 – 5:45 pm Dinner
6:15 pm Move to Trinity Episcopal Church (1500 State Street)
7:00 – 9:00 Community program at Trinity Episcopal Church
- Welcome by David Krieger (Nuclear Age Peace Foundation)
- Dennis Apel (Guadalupe Catholic Worker House)
- Dave Webb (GN Chairperson, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Leeds, UK)
- Andrew Lichterman (Western States Legal Foundation)
- Christine Hong (Korea Policy Institute and UC Santa Cruz)
- Mary Beth Sullivan (Social worker & peace conversion activist, Bath, Maine)
- Music by Tom Neilson, JoYakgol & Holly Gwinn Graham
Sunday, March 16
7:30 am Breakfast
9:00 am – 12:00 Global Network annual membership meeting (Election of board, coordinator’s report, budget review, strategy & planning discussion, next meeting decisions, 2014 Keep Space for Peace Week theme)
1:00 Check out of retreat center
GORBY: US & EU OUT OF UKRAINE
The EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is visiting Kiev to meet the new interim leadership. She's there to discuss measures to keep the country afloat as reports emerge that the Ukrainian treasury is empty.
The EU has already pledged to provide Ukraine with 20 billion euro once a new government is formed. That's after the International Monetary Fund confirmed its commitment to provide Kiev with financial support.
Mikhail Gorbachev, the former president of the Soviet Union thinks that the West should let the people of Ukraine decide their own political future.
Sunday, February 23, 2014
In this week's show, Mike Lofgren joins Bill Moyers to talk about the Deep State, a hybrid of corporate America and the national security state, which is "out of control" and "unconstrained."
THE NAZI'S IN UKRAINE
Kalashnikov-wielding members of Ukraine's radical nationalist opposition group, Right Sector, have pledged to resort to arms in their fight against those involved in "lawlessness" and looting, saying they will shoot to restore "order and discipline."
"I warn you, if anyone in this town, this area, engages in 'lawlessness' and looting, Right Sector squads will shoot the bastards on the spot. Then there will be order and discipline," one of the radical nationalist opposition group leaders, Aleksandr Muzychko, said on Friday.
On February 21, when Berkut police officers arrived in the western Ukrainian town of Rovno from Kiev, Muzychko said that if he met them on a battlefield, his hand "would not tremble."
"I would shoot," the Right Sector leader declared in Rovno, where his supporters have already equipped themselves with Kalashnikov rifles.
"If tomorrow these bastards [police] in Kiev won't stop, we'll take over military units, get hold of armored personnel carriers and tanks - we know how to operate them - and go to Kiev. Victory will be ours," Muzychko warned earlier this week.
Aleksandr Muzychko is a notorious nationalist leader. Back in 2007 he pledged to fight against "communists, Jews and Russians for as long as blood flows in his veins," openly saying that leading the fight against all of the above mentioned groups is his "credo."
Back in 1994, Muzychko, aka Sashko Bilyi, arrived in Chechnya to join separatist forces. He took part in numerous battles with federal troops, mainly in the capital Grozny, and personally knocked out three tanks, six armored personnel carriers and a SP vehicle.
According to media reports, he led an entire federal forces unit (presumably the marines) into an ambush. As a result, it was destroyed by the Chechen separatists. For his military merits, the notorious Chechen militant leader, general Dzhokhar Dudayev, presented Muzychko with a "Hero of the Nation" award.
Muzychko later served a term in a Ukrainian prison for racketeering and gangsterism, but he claims it was only for political reasons.
"The next president of the country will be from Right Sector! Our party will also be represented in parliament!" he once promised.
Even though the new peace deal on early elections and constitutional reforms reached between Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and opposition leaders was finally signed, thousands are still protesting in central Kiev. Vitaly Klitschko, opposition leader and head of the UDAR party was booed when he portrayed the latest deal as “very important.” He even attempted to speak about the agreement during a recent memorial service for a protester killed during recent clashes.
Dmitry Yarosh, Right Sector radical nationalist opposition group leader, told protesters that the deal between the Ukrainian president and the opposition is unacceptable, saying their ultimate goal is Yanukovich's resignation.
“The Right Sector will not lay down its arms,” the Unian news agency quoted him as saying. “The Right Sector will not remove the blockade of one of the government buildings until our most important requirement is fulfilled – the resignation of Yanukovich.”
The group rose to fame when its members, equipped with Molotov cocktails and bombs, clashed with police in central Kiev in mid-January.
Yarosh even proposes the liquidation of the pro-government Party of Regions and the Communist Party of Ukraine, calling them criminal groups whose activity must be stopped.
“Two anti-national groups have been acting this year in Ukraine, they are responsible for numerous misfortunes of the Ukrainian nation,” said Yarosh on his Facebook page, adding that these two groups are the Party of Regions and the Communist Party of Ukraine. He urged Right Sector members to stop the activity of these parties “by all means.”
Meanwhile, the so-called Spilna sprava (Common Cause) opposition movement is demanding that the Ukrainian Parliament, (the Verkhovna Rada) and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, all step down.
"Unfortunately, Maidan Square is not a safe place. My detention and custody were to have been decided upon within a few hours," says the group's leader Aleksandr Danilyuk, a lawyer and a rights activist who was earlier involved in campaigns against former President Leonid Kuchma, said on his Facebook page.
Despite the absence of its leader, Common Cause has given an ultimatum to the Kiev prison service demanding freedom for all political prisoners. If their demand is not fulfilled, then will use force, they say.
“Tonight all political prisoners will be released. We have the power and means for it,’" said an official statement of the organization.
Just several months ago, Common Cause was hardly a household name in Ukraine. When President Yanukovich thwarted an integration deal with the EU in November in favor of closer ties with Russia, Common Cause activists joined mass demonstrations calling for closer ties with Europe.
On 25 January in a bid to demonstrate their might, they held the Energy Ministry for a few hours in Kiev. The event reportedly provoked strife within the opposition, with Common Cause activists ignoring the Udar party leader's pleas to leave the ministry. The Justice Minister, Elena Lukash, then threatened to impose a state of emergency unless the radicals gave way. The ministry was only released after a telephone conversation between the Interior Minister, Vitaly Zakharchenko, and US Ambassador to Ukraine, Jeffrey Payette.