Dr. Volodymyr & Mr. Zelensky: the hidden face of the Ukrainian president
The Swiss deputy and former editor-in-chief of the Tribune de Genève, Guy Mettan paints a portrait of the mountebank who plays the role of President of Ukraine. It shows how this public entertainer has turned into an ally of the banderists and has set up a dictatorship for them.
VOLTAIRE NETWORK | GENEVA
“Heroes of Freedom”, “Hero of Our Time”, “Der Unbeugsame”, “The Unlikely Ukrainian Hero Who Defied Putin and United the World”, “Zelensky, Ukraine in Blood”: Western Media and Leaders no longer know what superlatives to use to sing the praises of the Ukrainian president, so fascinated are they by the “astounding resilience” of the actor miraculously transformed into a “warlord” and a “savior of democracy”.
For three months, the Ukrainian head of state has been on the front page of magazines, on television, inaugurating the Cannes Film Festival, haranguing parliaments, congratulating and admonishing his colleagues at the head of states ten times more powerful than him with a happiness and a tactical sense that no film actor or political leader before him had known.
How not to fall under the spell of this improbable Mr. Bean who, after having conquered the public with his grimaces and his extravagances (walking around naked in a store and miming a pianist playing with his penis for example), knew in one night swap his gritty antics and puns for a grey-green T-shirt, a week-long beard and serious words to galvanize his troops beset by the evil Russian bear?
Since February 24, Volodymyr Zelensky has unquestionably given proof that he was an artist of international politics with exceptional talents. Those who had followed his comedy career were not surprised because they knew his innate sense of improvisation, his mimetic faculties, his daring acting. December 2018 and April 21, 2019, yet tough opponents like former President Poroshenko, by mobilizing his production team and his generous oligarch donors, had already proven the extent of his talents. But it remained to transform the trial. Which is now done.
TALENT FOR DOUBLE PLAY
However, as is often the case, the facade rarely resembles the backstage. The spotlight hides more than it shows. And there, it is clear that the picture is less rosy: both his achievements as head of state and his performance as a defender of democracy leave something to be desired.
This talent for the double game, Zelensky will show it as soon as he is elected. We recall that he was elected with the cannon score of 73.2% of the votes, promising to put an end to corruption, to lead Ukraine on the path of progress and civilization, and above all to make peace with the Russian speakers of Donbass. As soon as elected, he will betray all his promises with such untimely zeal that his popularity rating will drop to 23% in January 2022, to the point of being outdistanced by his two main opponents.
From May 2019, to satisfy his oligarch sponsors, the newly elected launched a massive land privatization program covering 40 million hectares of good agricultural land under the pretext that the moratorium on the sale of land would have lost billions of dollars to the country’s GDP. In the wake of the “decommunization” and “derussification” programs initiated since the pro-US coup of February 2014, he launched a vast operation of privatization of state assets, budgetary austerity, deregulation labor laws and the dismantling of unions, which angers a majority of Ukrainians who did not understand what their candidate meant by “progress“, “Westernization” and “normalization” of the Ukrainian economy. In a country which, in 2020, posted a per capita income of 3,726 dollars against 10,126 dollars for the Russian adversary, while in 1991 the average income of Ukraine exceeded that of Russia, the comparison is not not flattering. And we understand that the Ukrainians did not applaud this umpteenth neoliberal reform.
As for the march towards civilization, it will take the form of another decree which, on May 19, 2021, ensures the domination of the Ukrainian language and banishes Russian in all spheres of public life, administrations, schools and businesses, much to the satisfaction of nationalists and the amazement of Russian speakers in the southeast of the country.
A SPONSOR ON THE RUN
In terms of corruption, the record is no better. In 2015, the Guardian estimated that Ukraine was the most corrupt country in Europe (ER: We don’t understand how Ukraine is in ‘Europe’. But this Worldometer (UN) link shows that even RUSSIA is in Europe. We’re baffled). In 2021, Transparency International, a Western NGO based in Berlin, ranked Ukraine 122nd in the world for corruption, close to hated Russia (136th). Not brilliant for a country that passes for a paragon of virtue against the Russian barbarians. Corruption is everywhere, in ministries, administrations, public companies, parliament, the police, and even in the High Court of Anti-Corruption Justice according to the Kyiv Post! It is not uncommon to see judges driving a Porsche, observe the newspapers.
Zelensky’s main sponsor, Ihor Kolomoisky, residing in Geneva where he has luxurious offices overlooking the harbour, is not the least of these oligarchs who profit from the ambient corruption: on March 5, 2021, Anthony Blinken, who probably could not do otherwise, announced that the State Department had frozen his assets and banned him from the United States because of “an implication in a significant act of corruption “. It is true that Kolomoisky was accused of having embezzled 5.5 billion dollars from the public bank Privatbank. Mere coincidence, the good Ihor was also the main shareholder of the Burisma oil holding company which employed the son of Joe Biden, Hunter, for a modest compensation of 50,000 dollars per month, and which is today the subject of an investigation by the Delaware attorney. Wise precaution: Kolomoisky, who has become persona non grata in Israel and a refugee in Georgia according to some witnesses, does not risk coming to testify at the bar.
It is this same Kolomoisky, decidedly unavoidable in this Ukraine on the road to progress, who made Zelensky’s entire acting career and who we find involved in the Pandora Papers affair, revealed by the press in October 2021. These papers revealed that since 2012, the TV channel 1+1 belonging to the sulphurous oligarch had paid no less than 40 million dollars to its star Zelensky since 2012 and that the latter, shortly before d being elected president and with the help of his close guard from Kryvyi Rih – the two Shefir brothers, one of whom is the author of Zelenski’s scripts and the other the head of the State Security Service (SBU), and the producer and owner of their joint production company Kvartal 95 – had cautiously transferred considerable sums to offshore accounts opened in his wife’s name, while acquiring three undeclared apartments in London for the sum of 7.5 million dollars.
This taste of the “servant of the people” (this is the name of his television series and his political party) for non-proletarian comfort is confirmed by a photo that briefly appeared on social networks and was immediately erased by anti-proletarian fact-checkers – conspirators, which showed him taking his ease in a tropical palace at a few tens of thousands of dollars a night when he was supposed to spend his winter vacation in a modest ski resort in the Carpathians.
This art of tax optimization and this assiduous association with controversial oligarchs do not therefore plead in favor of an unconditional presidential commitment against corruption. No more than the fact of having tried to knock out the President of the Constitutional Court Oleksandr Tupytskyi, who bothered him, and appointed Prime Minister, after the departure of his predecessor Oleksyi Hontcharouk because of scandal, an unknown named Denys Chmynal but who had the merit of running one of the factories of the richest man in the country, Rinat Akhmetov, owner of the famous Azovstal factory, the ultimate refuge of the heroic freedom fighters of the Azov Battalion. Fighters who wear tattoos glorifying the Wolfsangel on their arms, necks, backs or chests of the SS Das Reich division , phrases from Adolf Hitler or swastikas, as we could see on the countless videos released by the Russians after their surrender.
HOSTAGE OF THE AZOV BATTALIONS
For the rapprochement of the flamboyant Volodymyr with the most extreme representatives of the Ukrainian nationalist right is not the least of Dr. Zelensky’s oddities. This complicity was immediately denied with the greatest virulence by the Western press, which considered it scandalous because of the Jewish origins of the president, suddenly rediscovered. How could a Jewish president sympathize with neo-Nazis, otherwise presented as a tiny minority of marginalized people? All the same, we should not give credit to the “denazification” operation carried out by Vladimir Putin…
And yet the facts are stubborn and far from trivial.
It is certain that, personally, Zelensky was never close to neo-Nazi ideology or even to the Ukrainian nationalist extreme right. His Jewish ancestry, even if it is relatively distant and was never claimed before February 2022, obviously excludes any anti-Semitism on his part. This rapprochement therefore does not betray an affinity but is a matter of banal raison d’etat and a well-understood mixture of pragmatism and instinct for physical and political survival.
You have to go back to October 2019 to understand the nature of the relationship between Zelensky and the far right. And it must be understood that these far-right formations, even if they weigh only 2% of the electorate, still represent nearly a million highly motivated and well-organized people who are divided into numerous groups. and movements, of which the Azov regiment (co-founded and financed in 2014 by Kolomoisky, still him!) is only the best known. The Aïdar, Dnipro, Safari, Svoboda, Pravy Sektor, C14 and National Corps organizations must be added to it to be complete.
C14, so named because of the word count of American neo-Nazi David Lane’s phrase (“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children“), is one of the least known abroad but most feared for its racist violence in Ukraine. All these groups were more or less merged into the Ukrainian army and national guard on the initiative of their leader, the former interior minister Arsen Avakov, who reigned supreme over the Ukrainian security apparatus from 2014 to 2021. They are what Zelensky calls “veterans since the fall of 2019.”
A few months after his election, the young president indeed went to the Donbass to try to fulfill his electoral promise and enforce the Minsk agreements signed by his predecessor. The far-right forces, which have been pounding the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk since 2014 at the cost of ten thousand deaths, welcome him with the greatest circumspection because they are wary of this “pacifist” president. They wage a ruthless campaign against peace under the slogan “No Surrender“. On a video, we see a pale Zelensky imploring them: “I am the president of this country. I’m 41 years old. I am not a loser. I come to you and say to you: withdraw the weapons.” The video is released on social networks and Zelensky immediately becomes the target of a hate campaign. It will be the end of his desire for peace and the application of the Minsk agreements.
Shortly after this incident, a minor withdrawal of extremist forces took place, then the bombardments resumed with renewed vigour.
The problem is that not only has Zelensky given in to their blackmail, but he is joining them in their nationalist crusade. After his failed expedition, in November 2019, he received several far-right leaders, including Yehven Taras, the leader of the C14, while his Prime Minister appeared alongside Andryi Medvedko, a neo-Nazi figure suspected of murder. He also backs footballer Zolzulya against Spanish fans who accuse him of being a Nazi because of his professed support for Stepan Bandera, the nationalist leader who collaborated with Nazi Germany during the war (and with the CIA after the war) and participated in the Jewish Holocaust.
Collaboration with nationalist radicals is well established. In November last year, Zelensky appointed the ultra-nationalist Pravy Sektor Dmytro Yarosh special adviser to the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army and, since February 2022, leader of the Volunteer Army, which reigns terror in the back. At the same time, he appointed Oleksander Poklad, nicknamed “the strangler” because of his taste for torture, head of the SBU’s counterintelligence. In December, two months before the war, it was the turn of another leader of Pravy Sektor, Major Dmytro Kotsuybaylo, to be awarded the title of “Hero of Ukraine” while, a week after the start of hostilities, Zelensky had the regional governor of Odessa replaced by Maksym Marchenko, commander of the ultranationalist Aidar battalion, the very man with whom Bernard-Henri Lévy would take pride in parading.
Desire to appease the far right by giving it positions? Shared ultra-patriotism? Or simple convergence of interest between a neoliberal Atlanticist and pro-Western right and an extreme nationalist right which dreams of breaking Russia and “leading the white races of the world in a final crusade against the Untermenschen guided by the Semites “, according to the words of former MP Andryi Biletsky, head of the National Corps? We do not really know, no journalist having ventured to ask the question to Zelensky.
What is beyond doubt, however, is the increasingly authoritarian, even criminal, drift of the Ukrainian regime. So much so that his zealots should think twice before proposing their idol for the Nobel Peace Prize. Because, while the media look elsewhere, it is a real campaign of intimidation, kidnappings and executions that local and national elected officials are undergoing, suspected of being Russian agents or of colluding with the enemy because they want to avoid an escalation of the conflict.
“One less traitor in Ukraine!” We found him killed and he was judged by the people’s court! This is how the adviser to the Minister of the Interior, Anton Gerashenko, announced on his Telegram account the murder of Volodymyr Strok, mayor and former deputy of the small town of Kremnina. Suspected of having collaborated with the Russians, he was kidnapped and then tortured before being executed. On March 7, it was the turn of the mayor of Gostomel to be killed because he had wanted to negotiate a humanitarian corridor with the Russian military. On March 24, it was the mayor of Kupyansk who asked Zelensky to release his daughter, who had been kidnapped by SBU henchmen. At the same time, one of the Ukrainian negotiators is found dead after being accused of treason by the nationalist media. No less than eleven mayors are missing to date, including in regions never occupied by the Russians…
OPPOSITION PARTIES BANNED
But the repression does not stop there. It hits the critical media, which have all been closed, and the opposition parties, which have all been dissolved.
In February 2021, Zelensky shut down three opposition channels deemed pro-Russian and believed to belong to oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, NewsOne, Zik and 112 Ukraine. The State Department welcomes this attack on press freedom by declaring that the United States supports Ukrainian efforts to counter the malign influence of Russia… In January 2022, a month before the war, it is the turn of the Nash chain to be closed. After the start of the war, the regime hunted down left-wing journalists, bloggers and commentators. At the beginning of April, two right-wing channels were also affected, Channel 5 and Pryamiy. A presidential decree obliges all channels to broadcast a single story, pro-government of course. Recently the witch hunt has even extended to the country’s most popular critical blogger, the Ukrainian Navalny, Anatoliy Shariy, who was arrested on May 4 by the Spanish authorities at the request of the Ukrainian political police. Attacks on the press at least equivalent to those of the autocrat Putin, but of which we have never heard of in the Western media…
The purge was even more severe for political parties, which decimated the main opponents of Zelensky. In the spring of 2021, the home of the main of them, Medvedchuk, reputed to be close to Putin, was ransacked and its owner placed under house arrest. On April 12, the oligarch deputy was forcibly interned in a secret place, visibly drugged, deprived of visits before being exhibited on TV and offered in exchange for the release of the defenders of Azovstal, in defiance of all the Geneva conventions. His lawyers, threatened, had to give up defending him in favor of someone close to the services.
Last December, it was Petro Poroshenko, who was rising in the polls, who was accused of treason. On December 20, 2021 at 3:07 p.m., the official website of the SBU read that he was suspected of having committed crimes of treason and support for terrorist activities. The former president, who was nevertheless a fanatical anti-Russian, was criticized “for having made Ukraine energetically dependent on Russia and the leaders of the pseudo-Republics under Russian control.”
On March 3, it was left activists Lizvizia who were raided by the SBU and imprisoned by the dozens. Then on March 19, repression hits the entire Ukrainian left. By decree, eleven left-wing parties are banned, namely the Party for Life, the Left Opposition, the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, the Socialist Party of Ukraine, the Union of Left Forces, the Socialists, the Sharyi Party, Ours, Opposition Bloc, Volodymyr Saldo Bloc.
Other activists, bloggers and human rights defenders were arrested and tortured, journalist Yan Taksyur, activist Elena Brezhnaya, MMA boxer Maxim Ryndovskiy and lawyer Elena Viacheslavova, whose father was burnt to death in the pogrom of May 2, 2014 at the House of Trade Unions in Odessa.
To complete this list, we will also mention these men and women stripped and whipped in public by the nationalists in the streets of Kyiv, these Russian prisoners who were beaten and whose legs were shot before being executed, this soldier who had been pierced in an eye before killing him, those members of the Georgian Legion who executed Russian prisoners in a village near Kyiv while their leader boasted of never taking a prisoner. On the Ukraine 24 channel, it is the head of the army’s medical service who indicates that he gave the order “to castrate all Russian men because they are sub-humans worse than cockroaches.” Finally, Ukraine is making extensive use of Clearview’s facial recognition technology to identify Russian dead and disseminate their photos on Russian social networks, making fun of them…
AN OSCAR-WINNING ACTOR
We could multiply the examples, so many are the quotes and videos of atrocities committed by the troops of the defender of democracy and human rights who presides over the destiny of Ukraine. But it would be tedious and counter-productive with public opinion convinced that these barbaric behaviors are solely due to the Russians.
This is why no NGO is alarmed, the Council of Europe remains silent, the International Criminal Court does not investigate, organizations for the defense of freedom of the press remain silent. They didn’t listen well to what the kind Volodymyr told them during a visit to Butcha in early April: “If we don’t find a civilized way out, you know our people, they will find an uncivilized way out.”
Ukraine’s problem is that its president, willingly or unwillingly, ceded his power to extremists at home and to NATO soldiers abroad to indulge in the pleasure of being adored by the crowds around the world. Was it not he who declared to a French journalist on March 5, ten days after the Russian invasion:
“Today, my life is beautiful. I believe that I am wanted. I feel that this is the most important meaning of my life: to be wanted. Feeling that you are not casually breathing, walking and eating something. You live !“
We told you: Zelenski is a great actor. Like his predecessor who played Dr. Jekill & Mr. Hide in 1932, he deserves to win the Oscar for best male role of the decade. But when he must tackle the task of rebuilding his country devastated by a war he could have avoided in 2019, the return to reality may be difficult.
« The Comedian-Turned-President is Seriously in Over His Head », Olga Rudenko, New York Times, February 21, 2022 (Opinion Guest from Kyyiv Post).
« How Zelensky made Peace With Neo-Nazis », and « Zelensky’s Hardline Internal Purge », Alex Rubinstein and Max Blumenthal, Consortium News, March 4 and April 20, 2022.
« Olga Baysha Interview about Ukraine’s President », Natylie Baldwin, The Grayzone, April 28, 2022.
« President of Ukraine Zelensky has visited disengaging area in Zolote today », @Liveupmap, 26 October 2019 (Watch on Twitter).
“ What is the Azov regiment? », Adrien Nonjon, The Conversation , May 24, 2022.
« Public Designation of Oligarch and Former Ukrainian Public Official Ihor Kolomoyskyy Due to Involvement in Significant Corruption », Press statement, Anthony J. Blinken, US Department of State, March 5, 2021.
« Petro Poroshenko notified of suspicion of treason and aiding terrorism », Security Service of Ukraine, 20 December 2021.
” A pro-Russian Ukrainian mayor kidnapped and shot “, Michel Pralong, Le Matin , March 3, 2022,
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