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Ukraine is a country in Europe. It exists next to another country called Russia. Russia is a bigger country. Russia is a powerful country. Russia decided to invade a smaller country called Ukraine. So basically, that’s wrong. Kamala Harris
I’m investigating the struggle to keep drugs out of the West, so I’m heading to Ukraine. Europe’s Dirty Drugs Secret: Stacey Dooley Investigates, BBC 2013
Cartels have been smuggling cocaine from South Africa to Western Europe through this port [Odessa]. ibid.
Heroin from Afghanistan in the east has also been trafficked to Ukraine’s Black Sea coast. ibid.
Boltushka is a dangerous chemical cocktail made from prescription drugs and household products. ibid.
‘Krokodil’ is killing users at an alarming rate … Bleach & petrol & chemist’s tablets … A highly toxic cocktail which slowly rots human flesh and bone. ibid.
The Soviet Union absolutely wants revenge. The Russian Woodpecker, 2015, uprising, 2015
Five months earlier all was quiet in Ukraine. But an artist in Kiev sensed danger on the horizon. ibid. caption
Ukraine is full of ghosts … And there is a ghost at Chernobyl whose scream was heard around the world. ibid. artist
When the explosion happened, no one thought anything of it … Many went sunbathing at the river. Trucks came to wash the streets. We thought it was a for a holiday. ibid. Chernobyl worker
Kiev residents celebrated May Day under a radioactive drizzle, unaware of the danger. ibid. caption
He has often been described as a pro-Moscow politician. ibid. news report on new president
Radiation levels remain ten times normal. ibid.
Home to one of the largest nuclear rectors in Europe. ibid.
Radio transmission: ‘The noise is called The Woodpecker … It’s been going on since 1976. So what are the Russians up to?’ ibid. BBC 1982
Mysterious Signal Upsets Airwaves. ibid. Washington Star article
The antenna cost twice as much as the Chernobyl nuclear plant. ibid. radar professor
Because the antenna could not fulfil its mission it was bound to fail an upcoming military inspection. ibid. hero
Ukraine has been a battleground between East and West for centuries. From 1932-1933, Soviet policies in Ukraine resulted in the starvation of millions. ibid. caption
The theory that Chernobyl was exploded on purpose to hide the non-functioning Duga: it’s a theory. ibid. hero
Fedor investigated all the builders of the Duga and found one person who had the motive and the power to cause the catastrophe … Shamshin. ibid.
Weeks of anti-government protest exploded again today with a violent crackdown by the government. ibid. US news
Protesters in central Kiev dug in for the winter. ibid. caption
The Chernobyl catastrophe was no accident. ibid. hero
Soon after, more than 100 protesters were shot dead. President Yanukovych fled the country and Russian forces entered Ukraine. ibid.
And after 23 years of silence, the Woodpecker signal recently returned to the airwaves. It’s been traced to the heart of Russia. ibid.
This case (winter 2000) was not a conventional gangland killing: higher powers were involved. In this instance, the mafia organisation was the Ukrainian state itself ... ‘It was a period in which the state was converted into criminal political mafia,’ said Omelchenko, the combative and impressively moustached MP, in a pithy summary of his statements in parliament ... The body belonged to Georgi Gongadze, a 31-year-old investigative journalist who had disappeared two months earlier. Misha Glenny, McMafia
Half-Ukrainian and half-Georgian, Georgi Gongadze had begun to prise open the lid of Kuchma’s maggot-infested administration with his probing articles. Slowly it was becoming apparent the the Ukrainian Government had commandeered the judiciary, the police, the military, the Security Forces and industry – in short, the central mechanisms of state – as vital assistants in the amassing of wealth and power by a federation of regionally based cliques. Of course, just like any other cabal of ‘families’, there were frequent fallings out, and indeed the system eventually came crashing down in December 2004 when former allies of Kuchma, Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshekno, led the Orange Revolution that sought to replace venality with popular legitimacy as the guiding philosophy of the state. ibid.
But at the turn of the millennium in Ukraine, the oligarchs and government became one, fused together by the super-glue of the SBU, the post-independence intelligence service. But occasionally the SBU’s bonding properties were not as adamantine as its masters would have liked. ibid.
Major Melnychenko had been illicitly recording conversations that took place in the Presidential office between Kuchma and his most senior colleagues ...
Kuchma and his cronies had seized the state and now wielded power and money beyond the comprehension of most of Ukraine’s fifty million inhabitants ... greed, incompetence and oligarchic feuding eventually triggered if not a breakdown, then a changing of the guard. ibid.
Less than a year after the Orange Revolution, which was supposed to do away with the mafia state, the new government had collapsed in a flood a mutual recriminations between the Revolution’s leaders. The oligarchs, meanwhile, recovered to fight against encroachments on their wealth and influence. ibid.
Organised crime is deeply entrenched in Ukraine and, away from Kiev, where the spotlight of domestic and international scrutiny shines brightly, powerful criminal interests continue to dominate. ibid.
No mobsters controlled a post-Soviet city (Odessa) with as much popular support as Karabas did: ‘Karabas allowed the dealers to operate inside Palermo, but he blocked them from playing their trade anywhere else in the city. He was determined to hold down drugs consumption in the city.’ ibid.
Every imaginable contraband passed through the city (Odessa). As a port, it was a hub of human trafficking. ibid.
It was perhaps oil that caused Karabas’s downfall ... The gunning down of Viktor Kulivar ‘Karabas’ in April 1997 triggered a series of bloody political murders over the next year, and a sustained period of gang warfare as various mafia outfits fought over the huge territory that Karabas had controlled. ibid.
During his ten years in power, Leonid Kuchma presided over the total criminalisation of the Ukrainian Government and civil service. ibid.
In Odessa a battle over oil exports broke the city in two. Karabas’s death showed that not even the mafia can compete when the full weight of the state becomes involved in transnational corruption and criminality. ibid.
The trade in illegal weapons, however, began under a different president. At the end of 1991, Ukraine’s then President, Leonid Kravchuk, decreed the establishment of a commercial department at the Defence Ministry, whose main aim was to turn the vast store of Soviet weapons inherited by Ukraine into cash. ibid.
It was states and groups from Africa who sent the greatest number of envoys to Ukraine to broker arms shipments from Odessa. ibid.
Odessa is only sixty miles from the border with the Republic of Moldovan Transnistria, which looks and sounds like the perfect setting for a Tintin adventure. This thin sliver of territory is the quintessential gangster state whither many criminals would scuttle having carried out their missions in Odessa. It has been a problem ever since the Transnistrian authorities proclaimed independence from Moldova in 1990, triggering a bloody, dirty little war that lasted for two years. ibid.
The 14th (Russian) Army could have organised its return, but preferred to remain instead in Transnistria as a ‘peacekeeping force’. ibid.
It is a pariah state. Since then, Transnistria’s President, Igor Smirmov, a former ‘red dictator’ of a factory in the capital Tiraspol, has relied for support on a coterie of KGB officers, oligarchs and an uncharacteristically forgiving attitude of Gazprom to the huge debt that Transnistria has run up with the energy giant. ibid.
Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a glamorous blonde Ukrainian divorcée. He was eighty-four and she was thirty-six. She exploded into our lives like a fluffy pink grenade, churning up the murky water, bringing to the surface a sludge of sloughed-off memories, giving the family ghosts a kick up the backside. Marina Kewycka, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian