‘How Ukraine was turned into a failed state in a year’

A Ukrainian anti-government protester throws a Molotov cocktail during clashes with riot police in central Kiev early on January 25, 2014. (AFP Photo / Dmitry Serebryakov)

A Ukrainian anti-government protester throws a Molotov cocktail during clashes with riot police in central Kiev early on January 25, 2014. (AFP Photo / Dmitry Serebryakov)

As a country with few socio-economic and political problems Ukraine has turned into a failed state torn by civil war and sectarian violence, with a lack of constitutional order and a destroyed economy, foreign affairs expert Nebojsa Malic told RT.

Malic added that there has been a lot of talk about financial assistance for Ukraine but none of that has actually materialized.

“The only people that the US is actually funding are activists and all sorts of interested organizations that are at the business of perpetuating outrage but not really helping the society or the state get better,” he said.

RT: American and European officials have made numerous trips to Ukraine over the past year, making tempting promises regarding the bright future for the country alongside the Western states. Were they fulfilled?

Nebojsa Malic: None of the promises were fulfilled. In fact, Ukraine is far worse off than a year ago in unimaginable ways. From a country that was having problems financially, socially and politically, it has basically transited to a failed state torn apart by a civil war, sectarian violence, oligarchs, private armies, Nazis, a coup government, complete lack of constitutional order, and on top economic problems that get much worse.

RT: Mr. Biden, who’s visiting Kiev today, has promised to deliver a “strong message” supporting the Ukrainian government and people. Will he be heard and/or believed?

NM: I’m sure that the people in power in Kiev will believe anything that they are told because their entire rule rests on perception management, that they are a legitimate government backed by the West which they equate with the entire world. As for the people, I’m not sure that Biden’s words will keep anybody warm or fed this winter. Biden, wherever he goes, things don’t turn out particularly well. Likewise these biscuits that Victoria Nuland handed out last December are the thing of the past at this point. Press people are wondering where the next meal is going to come from. Essentially the entire message from the US is “You people go on and do your thing, we will back you up,” and the backup is never there. There has been no financial support for Ukraine’s debts or economic recovery. There has been a lot of talk of assistance but none of that has actually materialized. The only people that the US is actually funding are activists and all sorts of interested organizations that are at the business of perpetuating outrage but not really helping the society or the state get better.

RT: Victoria Nuland is set to join Mr. Biden. We remember the famous leaked remark of hers when speaking of Europe’s hesitant policy towards the protests on Maidan, showing how strongly the US controls the decision-making in terms of the Ukrainian crisis. Do you think Washington is happy with the results?

NM: It depends on what actual objectives of the intervention were. If the objective was to create intractable hostility between Kiev and Moscow, then yes, Washington has every right to be happy. If the objective is to create a normal functioning European-civilized Ukrainian state then no that has been a complete disaster from day one. Personally I think the objective was to create the conflict, to create the chaos, to create disorder, suffering and misery, so that the US government and the EU could bow in as liberators or knights in shining arms rescuing people, except there hasn’t been any rescue as they are neither capable of it, nor do they actually intend to perform it. If I was in charge of US foreign policy, I would chalk it up as a massive failure, if the objectives were, as officially stated, to create order and stability. But I’m not in charge and the objectives are not what they were officially stated.

Protesters carry a wounded protester during clashes with poliсe, after gaining new positions near the Independence square in Kiev on February 20, 2014. (AFP PHhoto / Louisa Gouliamaki)

Protesters carry a wounded protester during clashes with poliсe, after gaining new positions near the Independence square in Kiev on February 20, 2014. (AFP PHhoto / Louisa Gouliamaki)

RT: According to the UN figures, over 4,300 people were killed in the conflict in Ukraine. Where do you believe it is heading?

NM: Right now there is a ceasefire that is holding on paper and is not holding in practice. People are still dying every day; we have the President of Ukraine declaring that children of the rebels will be hunkering down in basements forever. There was hope in September when the Minsk accord was signed that it might create preconditions for a dialogue and a possible political solution. Unfortunately, so long as Kiev believes that it has unconditional support of the West to do whatever it wants, including what it rightly classified as war crimes, they will continue being aggressive and belligerent, refusing any sort of compromise or dialogue. They believe their rights are absolute, they believe they can do whatever they want and they will continue behaving accordingly. This is not a prescription for peace; this is a prescription for further conflict. I don’t know whether the war will continue throughout the winter, what sort of intensity, depending on how bad the winter is, but I’m certain that there are people in Kiev who have said so that they will resume hostilities at the first possible opportunity with the goal of taking the rebel regions and expelling the population that refuses to accept the current government.

Security analyst Charles Shoebridge on Ukraine: “It has been a disastrous year of very little progress. Different people have different perspectives. For example, some people in the west of Ukraine are very happy that the government of Yanukovich was overthrown by the street protests that took place in Kiev. If one looks at the eastern regions, it’s a disaster time – we are talking about some 4,500 deaths, many of those, if not the majority, are civilians. And also Ukraine forces and rebel fighters themselves are suffering terrible causalities. Maybe 450,000 have fled Ukraine to go to Russia, some another 400,000 people are internally displaced. The country continues to stagnate if not decline economically as a result of this.”

Security analyst Charles Shoebridge on Ukraine: “I think that the influence of external players is also important because until now it doesn’t appear that there has been a lot of pressure placed on the Poroshenko government and Poroshenko himself by his Western supporters, particularly NATO, the EU and the US, to seek out peace instead of seeking out victory. That peace, even as a Minsk agreement itself implicitly recognized a few weeks ago, does need some form of compromise and negotiation between the parties. That simply isn’t taking place in any meaningful way at the moment.”

Security analyst Charles Shoebridge on Ukraine: “There is a division in Ukraine society, not just between those of Russian-speaking or ethnically Russian descent, but even within those communities. The same in the west of Ukraine – you have Ukrainians, some are sick of the war, but there are also a strong nationalist and far-right elements that are prevalent in much of the west of Ukraine who are really not even in any mood to negotiate or give any way to what they describe as terrorists in the east, the rebel fighters, and who want this war prosecuted to a victory rather to any form of compromise.”

Amy Winehouse: only now can we glimpse her legacy

Amy Winehouse: ‘There’s nothing more pure apart from your love of music’

Via theguardian

Like many other dead artists, it’s easy to remember the late singer as a tragic caricature. But that betrays her real musical worth

On the first anniversary of the death of Amy Winehouse, found in her bed at her north London home, the afternoon after a night of furious drinking. It was a strangely quiet end to a life racked by drug abuse, musical accolades and wild, reckless love affairs; an evening, according to her bodyguard, of television, vodka and laughter.

In the aftermath, the days were filled with a great swirl of tributes from her admirers, with the graffiti that appeared on the walls of Camden, with the fans who flocked to her local pub, the Hawley Arms, and left flowers outside her home. “We all love you and will continue to love you,” read one. “Your legend lives on.”

As the months rolled by, the fuss slowly settled: the paparazzi decamped from her stomping ground; her parents, Mitch and Janis, began to speak to the press less often. A foundation was set up in her name.

Last December, Island Records released Lioness: Hidden Treasures, a collection of unreleased songs and demos selected by Winehouse’s family along with producers Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi. It immediately reached No 1 in the UK album charts, selling almost 200,000 copies in its first week. To some it seemed rushed out with undue haste, but for others it met not only a demand but a need – solace for the devastated fans who craved more of her very particular brand of salty, rough-edged soul.

It was also, crucially, the first step in the shift away from the Winehouse of common caricature, the Olive Oyl figure with the beehive, and the drug abuse, the saucy mouth and the baleful talk of “Blake Incarcerated”; the artist people had sadly come to expect – who had once offered to lamp a member of the audience at Glastonbury, and who had last graced a stage at a festival in Serbia, where she stood swaying and mumbling before a baying audience of 20,000.

How we process the death of an artist and how their legacy is then established is a peculiar and somewhat unsettling art. There is a gulf to be bridged between the rawness of a musician’s departure and the new world of biopics and boxsets; a period of grace, in which their image and their music must lie in state.

But the velocity of our world now, and the encyclopaedic inclinations of modern technology, make this period of sitting musical shiva harder. In our desire to refresh and consume new entertainment, we are eager to forget that which went before; and should we wish to remember, all of the misdemeanours, the unflattering photographs, the phone camera footage of that shambolic performance in Belgrade are preserved online in perpetuity.

On the cover of its latest issue, Q magazine labels Winehouse “the voice of our time”. It is a bold claim (and some might argue that the true voice of our time is the autotuned drone of American pop), but it is another stride towards the cultivation of her legacy, the fading of those images of the singer roaming the streets with bloodied feet and wild eyes.

After all, though she provided fodder for the gossip columns and the morally outraged, Winehouse also brought something remarkable to the music world, a tarry, beetle-black voice and lyrical humour. A songwriter who wrote of an intensely female experience, of the pain of love, as well as the hunger for sex, drugs and alcohol. And, of course, she helped create an appetite for the soulful British voice, paving the way for the likes of Adele, Duffy and Plan B. It is the voice that we hope will be remembered.

A few months ago, Sony released The Pearl Sessions, a 40th-anniversary edition of Janis Joplin’s first solo album, with previously unreleased recordings and demos. I was struck afresh by that extraordinary voice, by all the hurt and joy and desire wrapped up in the way she sang. And I thought not of the singer dead on the floor beside her bed at the Landmark Hotel in Los Angeles, of the heroin and alcohol and her final, scattered months, but only of the sweet release of her songs. This is how we love an artist and continue to love them. This is how the legend lives on.

• This article was amended on 24 July 2012. The original said a drug addiction charity had been set up in Amy Winehouse’s name. The Amy Winehouse Foundation helps to support young people who are in need for many reasons, including ill health, disability, financial disadvantage or addiction.

A 12-year-old Amy Winehouse wrote that she wanted to make people forget their troubles. On the anniversary of her death, Tim Jonze talks to those who knew her at the start of an extraordinary career

Amy Winehouse in her absolute prime, you MUST WATCH:

On the first anniversary of Winehouse’s death, it’s worth remembering just what a natural, instinctive musician she was. Her later, often shambolic shows (in particular that heartbreaking final performance in Belgrade) have gone some way to obscuring the memory of Winehouse at her best: she was one of the last decade’s true superstars, a performer who could be strong, emotionally devastating, yet vulnerable, too. A 2006 appearance at the Other Voices festival in Dingle, which screens for the first time on BBC4 on Monday night, remains one of her most powerful: the singer is mesmerising as she interprets several songs from Back to Black over a stripped-back band.

Airing on BBC4 Monday July 23rd at 10pm and the opening film of the East End Film Festival on July 3rd this BBC Arena / Other Voices co-production with exclusive concert and archive footage, highlights Amy’s unique talent and explores her deep affection for jazz, soul and gospel.