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: Brunswick, ME, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. We must all do more to help stop this western corporate arrogance that puts the future generations lives in despair. @BruceKGagnon

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Where can we find some truth?

It's a real shame that we have to rely on a 'jag-off comedian' (as Jimmy calls himself) for the truth about politics in America.

But that is the state of play in the US of A.

From the south side of Chicago meet Jimmy Dore.....

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Lynching of the Charismatic Geek

By Diana Johnstone

Once upon a time, there was a very bright little boy in Australia who grew up as stranger to conventional society. His mother went from husband to husband, from theater to cult, always on the eccentric margins, while the boy’s natural father was left behind.  As an adolescent he found his own world in cyberspace, which offered a field for his insatiable curiosity.  As he learned about that great world out there and its secrets, he developed his very own rigorous ethic: his vocation was to search for true facts and share them with the public.  Living outside the usual social codes, his moral compass was uninhibited by the usual niceties.  Truth was truth, deception was wrong, lies on the part of the powerful should be exposed.

The original sin of Julian Assange was the same as that of Galileo Galilei.  Galileo sinned by revealing to the people things the elite already knew or at least surmised, but wished to keep secret from the masses, in order not to shake the people’s faith in the official truth.  Assange did the same thing with the formation of Wikileaks.  The official version of reality was challenged.  All lies should be exposed. By far the most sensitive targets of his wide-ranging reality revelations were the lies, the hypocrisy, the inhuman brutality of the United States in its wars of global hegemony.  To Assange, these things were simply wrong.

At first, Wikileaks attracted a great deal of popular attention and even acclaim.  Julian Assange became famous.  He was a geek, but he didn’t look like a geek. Tall, handsome, striking with his nearly white hair, Julian was something strange: a charismatic geek.

He arrived in Sweden with near superstar status.  Swedish women contrived to get him into their beds.  They bragged about having sex with Julian: he was a trophy lover.  But the charismatic geek didn’t know the social codes of the peculiar Swedish forms of virtuous promiscuity. This lacuna was exploited by his enemies in extravagantly unpredictable ways.

Julian Assange tried to straighten out what seemed to be a serious misunderstanding before leaving Sweden.  But the Swedish side failed to make matters clear and he left for London.

In London, he was quickly taken up by the radical chic branch of the British upper class, the champagne and caviar humanitarians.  The naïve charismatic geek who didn’t know the social codes no doubt thought he was among friends. He didn’t belong to any political or social movement in the UK, he depended on the beautiful people who for a time found him an interesting outsider, one of their latest causes.

Julian Assange may have been socially naïve, but he very acutely perceived what the imperial powers were working up against him.  The totally unjustifiable demand for extradition to Sweden for questioning – unjustifiable because they had declined to question him while he was there and then declined to question him in the UK – appeared to Julian to be an obvious device to enable Sweden to extradite him to the United States, given the total obedience of post-Olof Palme Sweden to the wishes of Washington.  Others didn’t see this so clearly, except for the excellent President of Ecuador at the time, Rafael Correa.  Correa offered Assange asylum in the tiny Ecuadorian embassy in London.  Assange, unconventional, negligent of the codes, but with a clear view of the danger stalking him, jumped the bail set up for him and moved into the embassy. 

This was the beginning of his alienation from the caviar humanitarians.  At first the smart set defended him.  Such glamorous personalities as Jemima Khan and Amal Amamuddin (not yet Clooney) initially defended him and then lost interest.  He was not of their world.  He did not know how to compromise, he was a geek after all, less and less charismatic as he faded in the shadows of the embassy of Ecuador.  It’s all very well to denounce lies and tell the truth, but one mustn’t overdo it.  It’s delightful to have a cause when you have a solid social and financial background to fall back on, and when you know how to play the game so as to be in and out at the same time. Julian had none of those social graces.  He was honest, intent, stubborn. He was incapable of hypocrisy, even in his own interest.  He would not abjure, as Galileo did.

Such stubborn honesty on the part of someone who has nothing – no family, no fortune, no social status, no political party, nothing but his stubborn devotion to truth – is unbearable in a society based on lies.  The media who profited from his scoops became the most zealous in denouncing him.  No wonder: his honesty was a living reproach to the scribblers who had sold out all down the line, who get ahead by adding new touches to the mendacious “common narrative” required by the masters of their careers. 

Lies were spread.  Someone so honest must have hidden vices.  He must be as bad as we are, or worse.  The mob gathers.  This man who knows the truth but not the social codes is an insult to us all, a freak, a monster, who must be destroyed.

The lynch mob is enormous. The media, politicians, even the judicial authorities. There are no loud shouts for blood but silent cruelty as the Anglo-American ruling Establishment shamelessly contrives to halt the last breath of the outsider who dared expose them for what they are. 

Entering the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR)

Our host in the Donbass is labor leader Andrey Kochetov (center) from the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR). Fra Hughes from Ireland (right) is a human rights & peace activist and part of our small delegation.  Andrey took us to this destroyed bridge near the Donetsk airport.  Both the airport and the bridge were completely destroyed by the Ukrainian Army and Nazi's who have been armed, trained and directed by the US-NATO since the 2014 coup d' etat in Kiev.  This coup was coordinated by V-P Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton's Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland who bragged that the US had spent $5 billion on the operation. (Click on the photos for a better view.)

A shrine to remember the people who died trying to defend the bridge on behalf of the DPR when attacked by the Ukrainian fascist forces.

A long line of such apartments along the main entry road into Donetsk were shelled by the Ukrainian fascists during the 2014-2015 period of the war against the Russian speaking people of the Donbass region.  The fascists were pushed back and now operate from several kilometers away and continue to shell civilian homes throughout the Donbass.  None of these places ever were military targets.  I heard that as many as 40,000 people have been killed in this process.
Andrey took us for a walk through an amazing park inside the city yesterday after we arrived in Donetsk.  The park was loaded with art made from iron - some of them, including the piece behind me, were made from shell casing that had been fired at the city by the US backed fascist regime in Kiev.  The people in the Donbass refuse to be defeated.  In both Lugansk and Donetsk Andrey showed us theaters where operas in Ukrainian language were scheduled and he made the point that "We don't hate Ukraine.  We are Ukrainian.  We just hate the fascists."

One of my favorite pieces in the park was this rose growing out the top of a cracked rock.  It well symbolized the faith and spirit of the citizens in the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR) and the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR).  Andrey keeps saying to me, "Bruce, we live in a free country.  You can do what you want.  We are free."

Near our hotel is a huge sports park and also in the background of this picture is the WW II memorial to the defeat of the Nazis when the people of the former Soviet Union lost 27 million people in what they call the Great Patriotic War.  This particular art piece is a memorial to those who have died in the DPR since 2014.  Note the roses again growing out of a shell casing.

Alexander Zakharchenko was the popular leader of the Donetsk People's Republic in the Donass.  He was killed on August 31, 2018 by Ukrainian security forces who planted a bomb inside a cafe (behind me) that is now closed and turned into a memorial.  Zakharchenko worked in the coal mines and like so many others he came out of the mines to join the self-defense forces in 2014 after the US-orchestrated coup d'etat in Ukraine.  Immediately after the coup the new puppet government in Kiev banned the speaking of Russian in the country.  In the Donbass, along the Russia border, the people speak Russian and have family in Russia.  They began peacefully protesting and demanded a referendum to show their desire to live in a 'federated Ukraine' where they would have local autonomy.  They were quickly attacked by the Ukrainian Army and Nazi death squads.  It was then that people like Zakharchenko formed the self-defense forces to protect their families and homes. 

We came to Donetsk to attend the first ever International Investment Forum in the Donbass since the war began in 2014.  The economy here is slowly recovering but they have a long way to go.  Coal mining was traditionally their primary industrial product and they are now trying to diversify.  More than 500 people are attending the conference from countries like Russia, United Kingdom, France, Turkey, Finland, Muslim and African nations and many more.  During a coffee break the media was particularly interested in interviewing Fra Hughes (Ireland) and me - asking us why we came and what we thought about the event.  I said I have been following the Donbass struggle on a daily basis since 2014 and was happy to be here but ashamed of my country's illegal and criminal war against the people of the LPR and DPR.


Photos by Anya Ursova

Monday, October 28, 2019

Visiting the blown bridge that links the LPR & Ukraine

Olga Kobceva (4th on right) led our small group yesterday on a tour of the Stanitsa Luganskaya bridge that was blow up by the Ukrainian Army soon after the US sponsored coup in 2014.  She is a member of the Peoples Council of Lugansk. She works with POW transfers and an investigation into missing people. She is a member of the Minsk agreement group.

We were taken from our hotel in Lugansk (the Donbass) early yesterday on a cold and foggy morning to the Stanitsa Luganskaya bridge that connects the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR) and Ukraine.  The center part of the bridge was blow up in 2014 and is the only check point that people on both sides have to visit family members, shop, and pick up their pensions in Ukraine.

In the van on the way to the bridge Olga Kobceva told our small international delegation:

"When Ukraine was killing us [in 2014-2015]  their TV stations were saying we were killing ourselves.  Then they began to talk about Russian aggression.  Russia facilitated the negotiations that led to the Minsk Agreement [that established a 'line of contact' where both sides were to pull their military forces back.  US-backed Ukraine has continually violated this agreement.  The protocol also calls for the establishment of a federalized nation that gives those in the Donbass autonomy and control over their language, culture and local government.  Even though Ukraine signed the agreement they still refuse to implement it.]

"People still visit with family across the border between Donbass and Ukraine.  The longer Ukraine refuses to seriously negotiate with us, the stronger we get. Steps taken by Ukraine have pushed us to have closer relationship with Russia.  I have many relatives in Russia and in Ukraine but it is unsafe for them to talk to me now. Thanks to Russia's humanitarian aid our people could survive."

From the time the bridge was blown up until recently the people crossing the Seversky Donets River had to create unusual ways to climb down and then up the two remaining sections of the bridge.  This was particularly hard for old people using crutches and canes, parents pushing baby strollers, and citizens carrying heavy shopping bags.

The previous system of climbing down one side and up the other to pass the blown up section of the bridge (click on link for a better view)

Only since July this year (under heavy pressure from the LPR as well as Germany and France) Ukraine committed to repairing the bridge they blew up and has also constructed a decent temporary walk-way for the people to cross the blown section until the bridge is reconnected.

On the LPR's side of the bridge Olga showed us improvements her government is making in order to alleviate the suffering of the people.  A warming center staffed by the Red Cross was built on the LPR side.  (Ukraine's Army tried to shell the warming center after it was first built.) A covered area was made to protect the people from rain, snow and ice when they have to wait in line to pass thru the immigration posts. Covered benches have been built on the LPR side of the bridge for older people to rest.  Fifty people have died while crossing the bridge.  An ambulance sits on the LPR side in case of emergency.

LPR citizens have to go to the Ukraine side to pick up the pensions they earned from many years of working in the formerly united country.  But receiving their pensions is becoming harder.  The Ukraine government is now requiring people on the LPR side to have a permanent address on the Ukrainian side of the bridge.  Ukraine sends workers to check to see if the LPR residents are at that 'permanent' address and if they are not, their pensions get cancelled.

The LPR has set up a post office on their side of the bridge so family members living on the Ukraine side can cross the bridge and post a letter to family members living in the Donbass region.  The US puppet government in Kiev refuses to allow people in Ukraine to send a letter to the LPR.

Because the LPR has instituted socialized health care people living in Ukraine often come over the bridge to the LPR to get free medical care and medicines.  When I asked our Labor leader host Andrey Kochetov why the LPR does this (how could they afford to do it?) he replied, "These are our people."

Up to 10,000 people each day cross the bridge (it is open from dawn to dusk year round). Passports are checked on both sides.  Ukraine is now trying to make limits on bringing children over the bridge into Ukraine.

Media from the LPR covered our visit to the bridge and interviewed each of us from the US and Ireland in our delegation.

I told the media I was deeply moved watching the old people with crutches and canes navigate their way across (and around the blown part) of the long bridge. I said it was an outrage that the US was backing a fascist government that is waging war on its own people just because they speak Russian and live near the Russian border. 

I came away deeply impressed by the heart of those on the LPR side of the bridge.  Their concern for their people - and those on the other side living in the fascist Ukraine - told me alot about why the US-NATO have been trying so hard to destroy those in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.

Their vision of a socialist nation where there are no banks (other than one national bank in the LPR), free health care, and more is a threat to the capitalist west.  And we know from many years experience in places like Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Libya, just to name a few, the pathetic 'leaders' in Washington always try to smash any upstarts that dare put people before profits.

We've seen a series of US-backed 'Color Revolutions' in recent years but those now fighting to protect themselves in the Donbass against the Nazis in Ukraine have been the first country to stand and successfully resist the CIA-sponsored coups that only serve the interests of corporate oligarchs.

Sadly few in the world understand the real story in the Donbass because corporate dominated media serve nothing but propaganda when they discuss what is going on in this part of the world.  I am proud, after five years of near daily watching videos of Nazi assaults on the innocents living in the Donbass, to finally be able to travel here and see for myself.


(Photos by George Eliason)

Washington's 'democracy promotion mega-tour' hits Hong Kong

So many disasters have unfolded in the wake of Washington's "democracy promotion" such as in Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, Syria, Venezuela, Brazil, Yemen and more.

Now Washington wants to take down Beijing and Moscow.

As the Native Americans used to say, "Put your ear to the railroad tracks and hear the train coming."

Think about what modus operandi means - a distinct pattern or method of operation that indicates or suggests the work of a single criminal in more than one crime.

A more in-depth article can be found here, via The Grayzone

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Sunday song

Saturday, October 26, 2019

The Young Guards museum in LPR

We spent a good part of today in the city of Krasnodon which is in the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR).  About 100 members of the Teachers Union have been meeting over the past two days and our small foreigners delegation (hosted by Labor leader Andrey Kochetov) was invited to join them for a moving tour of the Young Guards Museum in Krasnodon.

The two buses carrying us all from Lugansk to Krasnodon (about an hour drive) first stopped at a memorial of victims following the 2014 US directed coup d'etat in Kiev.  A hill top memorial listing more than 200 names of young and old from the Krasnodon area has been established to remember those who were killed in 2014-2015 by Nazi death squads (and the Ukrainian regular Army) that attacked the region.  We were given flowers to place at the site and each were asked to ring a large bell in their memory.

The self-defense forces in the LPR eventually drove the Nazis and regular Army out of the Krasnodon area.  But today the attacks on the Donbass region continue along the 'contact line' where the US-backed Ukrainian forces continue shell various villages inside the LPR and Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) controlled territories near the Russian eastern border.

We heard from one man who told the story that during the 2014-2015 period long lines of refugees flooded the one road leading into Russia trying to escape the attacking fascist forces that worship the memory of the WW II western-Ukrainian Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera.

The Russian government set up camps just inside their border and provided food and medical care for the fleeing people.  Some have stayed in Russia and others returned to the LPR once the Nazis were pushed out of the area.

At the museum in Krasnodon we were first taken to see a huge stone monument that covers a former coal mining hole where Nazis in 1943 threw 71 bodies of 'Young Guards' (ages 14-22) who had been leading resistance to the German occupation of Krasnodon that began in July of 1942.  Some had been tortured and beaten to death while others were thrown into the 23 meters deep mine pit alive.

The Young Guards became legendary in the former Soviet Union for their dedicated and courageous resistance actions against the Germans.  During their time, before being killed, the Young Guards did some of the following:

  • Hung red flags around the city in defiance of the Nazi occupiers
  • Burned down the Labor Exchange building that had lists of local workers.  The Germans wanted to round the workers up and send them to Germany as slaves. Many lives were saved by this action
  • Nazi's tried to reopen a coal mine but the Young Guards sabotaged the effort
  • The Young Guards freed 70 prisoners
  • Printed and distributed more than 5,000 flyers communicating with the local people
In all there were about 80 Young Guards.  They were ultimately betrayed by someone which led to their roundup - only eight of their group survived.  The Nazi extermination of the Young Guards happened just two weeks before the Soviet Army liberated Krasnodon from German control.

After a group lunch at a local restaurant we returned to the the museum auditorium for a program.  One speaker reminded the assembled, "We have to preserve our history in order to survive."

Throughout the program the word 'fascism' was repeatedly used by various speakers.  After all, people living in the LPR and DPR have historic memory of the fight against the Nazis during WW II and since 2014 they again have been facing the Nazi death squads - facilitated by the US-NATO war machine.

Another speaker in the program said, "In an information war like at the present, the goal is to destroy the spirit, so we have to defend it."

During the intense period of 2014-2015, when today's Nazis attacked Krasnodon, they repeatedly tried to destroy the Young Guards museum and memorial statue.  Just outside the museum is also a grave site where the bodies of those found inside the deep mine pit were buried.  Some of the mothers of these young people requested to be buried there as well.  So when the attempts to attack the museum were recently happening the Nazis also tried to destroy the burial memorial.  Luckily local people were able to successfully protect the museum and surrounding shrines.

Unexpectedly in today's program at the museum the three guests from the US and Ireland were also invited to speak to the assembled teachers.  When it was my turn I said that I was angry at my own government for its role in creating the present Ukrainian civil war and promised that when I returned home I would continue to share what I have learned with my fellow citizens as well as friends in other nations.

Most people know little to nothing about what is going on in the Donbass today.  What little some might know is filtered through western propaganda that maintains the people of LPR and DPR are 'separatists' being aided by an invading Russian military.  Since arriving here I've seen no military of any kind but that might change as we move closer to the 'line of contact' in coming days.

I did see one man in jungle fatigues today limping down a street in Krasnodon and Andrey said to me, "There are many such wounded here in the LPR."


John Pilger on Assange

On this episode of Going Underground, we speak to legendary journalist and filmmaker John Pilger on Julian Assange’s latest extradition hearing this Monday, which he attended. He discusses how Julian appeared at the trial, the bias of the judge against Julian Assange, the lack of mainstream media coverage of Julian’s persecution, his health and conditions in Belmarsh prison, CIA spying on Julian Assange and more!

Next, we speak to Chris Williamson MP on Assange’s extradition hearing, his motion in the House of Commons to condemn Julian Assange’s treatment, why Julian’s persecution is of international importance, the silence of mainstream media on Julian Assange, the lack of vocal outrage from Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour front bench over Assange’s treatment and more!

Finally, Going Underground’s Deputy Editor Charlie Cooke discusses Boris Johnson’s plan to introduce mandatory voter ID at elections, which many accuse him of being a plot to suppress minority voters.

The money-go-round

Friday, October 25, 2019

Arrival in Lugansk

Civilian targets (like this apartment block) have continually been shelled in the Donbass region by the US-NATO backed puppet regime in Kiev. More than 10,000 have died since 2014 when these attacks on the residents of Donbass began.  Their crime?  They are ethnic Russians and those in traditionally right-wing western Ukraine like to kill Russians.

I spent last night in Rostov, Russia after a 24-hour train ride from Moscow to that city.  My guide Leonid has a friend whose father lives in Rostov so we stayed at his home. Vladimir cooked a great dinner for us and then entertained us on his accordion and sang many Cossack songs.  He is a short but well built man who is four years younger than me.  This morning at breakfast he challenged me to an arm wrestling contest and cleaned my clock twice.

Our host in the Donbass is a labor union leader by the name of Andrey and he picked Leonid and I up this morning about 10:30 am in Rostov and then we went to the airport to pick up a man who has come from Ireland to join our small delegation for the next five days.  We made the drive to the Russia-Lugansk border where it took me an hour to pass thru Russian immigration (they had lots of questions for me on a form that had to be filled out) and then similarly it took almost another hour to pass thru Lugansk immigration.  Because it is an active war zone they are very security conscious.

When we arrived in Lugansk at our hotel we were immediately taken to a dinner being sponsored by the Teachers Trade Union and many toasts were made as introductions were done.  The food was excellent and the spirit of the people quite soul full.  They are particularly grateful that people had come from so far away to stand in solidarity with them.

I don't know many of the details of our schedule yet but we leave the hotel early in the morning at 8:30 am for likely a full day of activities.  In a couple of days from now we have been invited to speak at conferences being held in Lugansk and Donetsk People's Republics.

I'll do my best to keep the blog posts coming during this period but not sure how much time I will have.  I do know that there is a curfew from 11:00 pm to 5:00 am every day so I doubt we will be having many nights out on the town.

At this point it appears that the war is a stalemate.  The new Ukraine President Zelensky talks about peace but allows the shelling of civilians in the Donbass to continue.  Germany, Italy and France have been pressuring Kiev to back off the war and settle for peace with the Donbass.  The US has in the past not wanted that to happen and has pushed Ukraine to keep the war going.  It is not really clear what Trump's position is on the war - as most other issues he is hard to figure out.


Haiti rising

Five weeks of uninterrupted protests to topple U.S. puppet President Moïse and the heroic people of Haiti have lost 0 energy.

Let's remember that the people of Saint Domingue (Haiti) were the first in the hemisphere to shatter the system of slavery and drive out the European colonizers during the 1790s Haitian Revolution.

Haiti's future remains in the people's hands, it's all a question of time.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Preparing for trip to Donbass war zone

I am staying at a tourist hotel on the north side of Moscow.  It appears that mostly Russian tourists are staying in one of the seven red brick five story Soviet-era buildings that surround this garden.  This is unusual because these days there are lots of Chinese tourists in this city.  Music is piped into the center of the garden - mostly jazz and blues is what I've heard when walking through the courtyard.

Like all hotels in this country a buffet breakfast comes with the room price which is under $50 per night.  A good deal.

I've been here four nights and my luggage finally arrived two nights ago - at 1:15 am when a hotel staffer kindly delivered it to my door.

Yexterday I took the Metro to Red Square and then walked about three hours heading north toward my hotel. Got pretty close but needed to grab a cab the rest of the way back to hotel as my new knee was getting sore.  

Today GN Advisory Board member Leonid Ilderkin and I will take the overnight train to the Donbass where I am scheduled to speak in the Lugansk and Donetsk people's republics which were established in 2014 after the coup d'etat in Ukraine's capital city Kiev.  During that time the US (led by V-P Joe Biden) installed a puppet government and as we've heard in the news the V-P got his son appointed to the board of a fossil fuel corporation at $50,000 a month.  That's not bad for a guy (Hunter Biden) who knew nothing about Ukraine or the gas business.  You can read a very thorough article on this entire sordid story by Max Blumenthal here.

Following the 2014 coup in Kiev the new illegal government (that deposed a duly elected government) began shelling Ukrainian citizens living in the Donbass (eastern part of the country near the Russian border).  The residents of Donbass are ethnic Russians, have a common history, traditions and language. Since the days of the USSR, Donbass has been closely economically connected with Russia.

Western media and politicians call the people in Lugansk and Donetsk republics 'separatists'. In 2014, after the newly installed post-coup government was in place, the first thing that was done was to ban the speaking of Russian in all of Ukraine - which is quite insane.

The people in the Donbass began peacefully marching and signing petitions calling for a 'federated' Ukraine where they could decide which language they wished to speak and to hold back some portion of their taxes for development as they knew Kiev would try to starve their local economy.  

Kiev's answer to these peaceful protests?  The Ukrainian Army and neo-Nazi death squads began attacking the people and to date more than 10,000 have been killed in the process.  Soon after this began coal miners came out of the mines along with other citizens to form self-defense forces to protect their homes and families.  This was the time that the west began calling them 'separatists'.  Frankly, after five years of non-stop attacks, the people in the Donbass have decided that they in fact do want go their own way - linking to Russia would insure safety and stability for them.

Moscow has been frequently criticized by supporters of the people in the Donbass for not being more aggressive in defending them.  The western media claims that Russia has invaded the Donbass but in fact I've not seen the slightest evidence of that claim during these past five years that I've been following this story.  I'll get a much closer look at the scene in coming days but don't expect to see Russian troops and tanks in the Donbass. 

In 2016 I went to Odessa, Ukraine on May 2 to stand with the Mothers Council whose sons and daughters had been massacred by the Nazi death squads when the people were peacefully gathering signatures for a referendum demanding local autonomy.  Regis Tremblay filmed a video of me telling the story that you can see here.

The recently elected new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (a TV actor) won overwhelmingly because the public is tired of the war and want their economy to be restored. During the campaign he inferred that he was the candidate of 'hope and change'.  We've heard that one before.

Because the US-NATO 2014 coup was in large part to reorient the economy of Ukraine to Europe, and not Russia, the normal trading relationship with their next door neighbor was severed and they have essentially become a failed state.  See more on this story here.

Zelensky has refused to honor the Minsk Agreement that declared that Kiev must pull back their military forces from the 'line of contact' in the Donbass and negotiate a federated state plan that would lead to peace.  Instead Zelensky watches as the Nazi death squads continue to attack the Donbass and he demands that the Lugansk and Donetsk republics unconditionally surrender which they will never do.

Thus the war continues with support from the US, during both the Obama and Trump administrations.  A key goal of the US-NATO operation in Donbass is to create endless instability along the Russian border and have it bleed into Russia forcing 'regime change' even in Moscow.  See evidence of US training the Ukrainian military forces here.

Upon arrival in the Donbass I will be looking for signs of any movement toward peace and will also be seeking to learn more from leaders of the new republics about how they see their future at this most difficult moment.