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Russians are on BOTH sides of most European problems

Russians are on BOTH sides of most of European problems — for example they sponsor both European nationalist groups and Islamic terror groups. Why?

I think they either know or sense that Russian civilization cannot compete with European high trust. It is only under miasma of chaos and struggle that Russia’s vertically structured low-trust institutions can compete with the horizontally structured, high-trust, high initiative institutions of the West.

I hate banking in Ukraine (rant) #PrivatBank

Banking in Ukraine continues to be a nightmare.

The competence that seems to be lifting the quality of restaurants and retail in Ukraine barely penetrates into banking. I hate it. Most tellers are like incompetent little girls terrified that you’ll ask them to do something difficult or unfamiliar — that you’ll give them an opportunity make a mistake. I blame their managers. Mostly they seem ready to tell you whatever they must, really to make whatever sounds they must, as any connection to the real physical world being incidental, to get you to leave them alone.

A couple years ago, I used to bank with Raiffeisen Bank Aval Ukraine. I opened an account to transfer myself some money from the US, expecting it to be cheaper and more convenient than ATMs.


I wanted an alternative to physically walking to the bank to check whether the deposit arrived and asking whether I could check online. They gave me a brochure with instructions how to do so. (First visit.) Great! The instructions did not help, so I returned to ask again. Apparently I would need to set up some special thing, and the teller who could help me would only be in tomorrow. (Second visit.) On my third visit, she started helping me and then asked for my passport, which I did not realize I needed. On my forth visit, she wasn’t there again, and asked me to return after lunch. On my fifth visit, she started helping me, got through the step with my passport, and then asked for the form which shows my tax id number. On my sixth visit, the job was done, and I was able to then check my balance online.


Can you please exchange this big stack of 50s for a small stack 500s? (It was maybe $100 worth.) She counts my 50s. Then she looks around confusedly. “I don’t have enough 500s.” “Is this a bank?” I ask. I suggested that maybe her neighbor had more. She said she wasn’t allowed to ask.


Similar to Episode 1, it took about five visits to close my account with Raiffeisen Bank Aval. A comedy of incompetence and bad manners.

The one thing they did right was telephone me months later asking why I closed my account. I put down my work, shut the door, and let them have it. We spoke — meaning, I spoke, they (surprisingly) listened — for a good twenty minutes.

So I opened an account with Privat Bank for it okay online banking. It’s Ukraine’s largest bank, with branches everywhere. The owner is a sleazy oligarch, but one who at least had the decency to support Ukraine, both vocally and materially. For this he was rewarded with a governorship which he promptly lost after using his personal army to settle a business disagreement.

Anyway, Privat Bank.

Mostly okay.


This summer I had to transfer money to another account for an office expense. It was about $8 to buy water, if I remember correctly. I did the transfer online. Then I received a phone call as a security check. There was a live human doing the check. He spoke quickly and impatiently, and in Russian. He asked for a name and I told him the name of the recipient. He said no, he needed my name. I told him my name. He said it was wrong. (WTF!?) He said I failed the security check, and then hung up. My card was blocked.

It took about an hour sitting in a Privat bank while a surprisingly polite and heroic teller named Allah made phone calls on my behalf. I considered buying her flowers.


For about a week, Privat’s online banking seemed to be down. When I tried logging in, I would get a message that “service is temporarily unavailable.” But then something strange happened. I mentioned this to someone, and they said they used the service daily without any problems.

It turns out that the genius UX team of their website was giving me a “temporarily unavailable” message when I had been blocked! I was blocked because apparently, I don’t know my own name. (see Episode 4)

So I went back to Allah. This time it took over an hour, but eventually I was unblocked.

EPISODE 6 (today):

I try to add 110 uah (about $5) to my phone card. The transaction on the website seems to go through, but then I get an SMS saying that 110 uah is over my limit for internet transactions. (I pay this amount monthly.)

After struggling with their website with only PRETENDS to provide an English language option, I walk to my favorite teller in all over Ukraine, Allah. It took about an hour.

Over the phone, they told her that everything with my account was fine and that I should try again. I did. Same result. They didn’t believe her, so she photographed my cellphone showing the SMS and sent it to them.

It turns out my maximum internet transation was set to zero. Just because . . . because fuck you for trying to do banking in Ukraine.

She walked me through the not-quite-English interface and showed me where to change it. The change required an SMS confirmation code. Apparently, it takes a few hours to go into effect. I thank Allah profusely and thought again about buying her flowers or chocolates, but I’m married now and wouldn’t want her to get the wrong idea.

Hour later, I received an automated phone call from Privat bank asking me whether I wanted to raise my credit limit or if someone told me to do so. The message seemed to ask me the same question three times worded in slightly different ways.

Do you know what the best part of Episode 6 is? Even though the website now indicated a higher limit for online transactions — significantly higher than $5, I still get the same rejection when I try to add money to my phone.

Moral of the story: DO NOT BANK IN UKRAINE!

EPISODE 7: I’m unable to make online purchases. When I try, I get a cryptic SMS “Purchase amount too low”. But I’ve grown accustomed to the fact that error messages — whether on their website or via text messages — often seem deliberately designed to confuse you.

I consult with Alla and Nadia, the two kindest bank tellers in Kyiv for whom I am very grateful.

After 45 minutes, my inquiry remained unresolved and I suggested I return to work and they call me when they get answers.

That evening, Nadia calls. Apparently, Privat Bank no longer allows internet purchases over 700 uah unless it is through their payment system, Privat24.

Sorry, Kolomoiski. I’m done with your bank.

The Conflicting Nat’l Myths of Ukraine – Russia & the strange union w/ Putin – Europe’s Right

(previously unpublished essay)

The national myths of Ukraine and Russia are not just different, they are mutually exclusive, and while Ukraine’s can exist without Russia, the Russian idea plunges into an identity crisis without Ukraine.

Both claim the legacy of Kievan Rus, the mythologized and idealized kingdom is considered a well-spring of Slavic culture and Orthodox Christianity. It was obliterated by the Mongols in 1241. Here, the narratives diverge.

Russian ideologues consider themselves the great uniters and political champions of Slavic peoples. Kiev was the wellspring of their culture and religion, and Moscow has been and remains their natural political center ever since the principality of Muscovy “affirmed itself as a regional hegemon.” A unification, which, in the word of Putin adviser Alexander Dugin, occurred “not by the conquest, but by the genesis of Russian Statehood.” See Alexander Dugin’s “Open Letter to the American People.”

Ukrainian ideologues, whom Dugin refers to as “Western Russians,” consider themselves the unfortunate but otherwise noble descendants of Kyivan Rus whose greatest political expression for the previous several centuries were Kozak uprisings against slavery and feudal structures imposed by foreign monarchs, the Muscovites, an ethnically mixed Finno-Ugric people and latecomers to slavic culture, having been the most aggressive and successful of the oppressors.

The conflict is obvious, and the battle-space includes Wikipedia.

Ukrainian poetry often engages the idea of a hi-jacked identity: “What are these Muscovites searching for in our torn open graves? An ancient parent? Oh, if only they could find that, our children wouldn’t be crying.”

Dugin is correct when he claims “such a State [as Ukraine] . . . never existed in history.” I would describe Ukraine as a culture attempting to defend itself through statehood. It is a remarkably resilient culture having survived centuries of imposed feudalism, Russification, Polinization, merciless Soviet purges of writers, musicians, artists and other cultural figures, Holodomor, and many dozens of laws over the course 400 years forbidding or limiting the use of the Ukrainian language. Its attempts at statehood have been miserable failures, most recently combining all the bureaucratic excess of the over-protective West with the corruption and glacial work ethic of the post-Soviet East. The recent overthrow of the Yanukovych government was a huge accomplishment and had the potential to be Ukraine’s Magna Carta moment. It still might, though the Russian invasion throws everything into question.

Russia, by contrast, is a state looking for a culture. Ever since the Grand Duchy of Muscovy’s conquest (yes, conquest) of the Kingdom of Novgorod, the idea of a Greater Muscovy people, or later, a greater Russian people, has been inseparable from forced cultural assimilation, reaching its barbaric apogee in Soviet times. The joke was that if you beat a Polish man long enough, he becomes a Russian.

The expansionist idea is evident again in the symbol of Dugin’s “Russian Spring” — golden spear points radiating in all directions.

While Dugin invokes a Russian people to describe even 9th century Kievan-Rus, the idea of a Russian people is actually only slightly older than the idea of an American people.

It was in the 18th century that Czar Peter I, formerly of the Grand Duchy of Muscovy told his diplomats to start referring to the Grand Duchy and its conquests as “Russia” — a name taken from the contested legacy of Kievan-Rus.

Though many states can be described as military unifications of more tribal kingdoms, the Russian state was particularly audacious in expanding its myth to encompass Finno-Ugrics, Slavs, Caucasians, Asians, Tartars, and other Turkik peoples.

Once Russia extended its national myth beyond the boundaries of their core population, their problem has been the unification of disparate and unwilling cultures. So it remains.

Long before Peter Sutherland’s infamous statement about “undermin[ing] national homogeneity” through mass immigration, the cultures of the steppe were being undermined by population transfers, mass deportation, language restrictions, and purges of writers, artists, musicians and other cultural figures.

What the Europeanists and globalists only now pursue with a velvet glove (or at least a leather one) has long since been pursued with an iron fist in the steppe.

Thus it is a bit peculiar to witness the alliance between the Kremlin and much of Europe’s far right. As detailed by Anton Shekhovtsov:

International ‘observers’ at the illegal and illegitimate ‘referendum’ held in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea occupied by the Russian ‘little green men.’ The overwhelming majority of the ‘observers’ are representatives of a broad spectrum of European extreme-right parties and organisations: Austria’s Freiheitliche Partei (FPÖ) and Bündnis Zukunft, Belgian Vlaams Belang and Parti Communautaire National-Européen, Bulgarian Ataka, French Front National, Hungarian Jobbik, Italian Lega Nord and Fiamma Tricolore, Polish Samoobrona, Serbian ‘Dveri’ movement, Spanish Plataforma per Catalunya. They were invited to legitimise the ‘referendum’ by the Eurasian Observatory for Democracy & Elections (EODE) . . . Presented by Michel as ‘a non-aligned NGO’, the EODE does not conceal its anti-Westernism and loyalty to Putin, and is always there to put a stamp of ‘legitimacy’ on all illegitimate political developments, whether in Crimea, Transnistria, South Ossetia or Abkhazia. Moscow’s money talks. . . .

Front National’s Marine Le Pen now visits Moscow on a seemingly regular basis. . . .

Jobbik’s leader Gábor Vona gave a lecture at Moscow State University at the invitation of Russian right-wing extremist Aleksandr Dugin; according to Vona, it would be better for Hungary to leave the EU and join the Russia-dominated Eurasian Union. Dugin himself gave a talk in the United Kingdom at the invitation of the far-right Traditional Britain Group and wrote a letter of support to Nikolaos Michaloliakos, the now jailed leader of the Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, whose political programme urges Greek society to turn away from ‘American Zionists’ and ‘Western usury’ towards Russia. . . .

Putin’s far-right government is eager to co-operate with any European ultranationalist party unless it is critical of Russia for historical or other reasons. . . .

On April 9th, Jobbik’s MP Tamás Gaudi Nagy made a 3-minute speech against European democracy wearing a T-shirt saying “Crimea legally belongs to Russia! Transcarpathia legally belongs to Hungary!”

Of course, politics have always made strange bedfellows.

By endearing themselves to the Kremlin, they get financial support. This matters. The risk is a compromised message, and the loss of nationalist movements in in Eastern Europe where the terrifying memory of Kremlin hegemony outweighs any fear of encroaching cultural Marxism.

As observed by Steve Sailor, Ukraine’s revolution had a very nationalist and conservative character, but now that it’s accomplishment is threatened by Moscow, Ukrainians are increasingly willing to embrace whatever it can get from the West in exchange for closer ties and protection, if only economic. Since the government was toppled in February, support for joining the EU has risen from 41 to 53%. (See page 38 of this report.)

With a weakened west and a collapsing empire overseas, Russia has tremendous potential to rise as the military and resource wing of European people. They would need to refocus on their core population and fight corruption whose size, scope and callousness is unique among Europeans.

Rather than seizing this potential, they’ve returned to their failed historic role of dragging surrounding nations and people into this morass of corruption and brutality. Instead of building a foundation for commerce and trade (including trade of military protection), they’ve decided to expand the rubric of a “greater Russian people” by several hundred kilometers.

They will continue to be the Europeans distinguished by their failure at modern civilization.

The Galician SS Division

From an email to a friend:

If you want to get into some very delicate history, we can talk about Nazi symbols which make a rare (thankfully) appearance among Ukrainian nationalists. Timothy Snyder’s book Bloodlands does the best job of illustrating the plight of people trapped between Hitler and Stalin.

Much to the Kremlin’s delight, you occasionally see SS symbols among the protesters. Swastikas, never (as far as I know), only SS symbols. Why?

There was a “Galician” SS Division formed of western Ukrainians that gets a sympathetic narrative. I’m not saying the following is the complete story, but the narrative goes like this:

The division formed in 1943 when it was absolutely clear the Nazis were going to lose the war.

It formed with two stipulations: 1. they only be used to fight the advancing Red Army and 2. they be the only SS Division allowed to have priests. Point #2 is significant because when the Soviets first took over Western Ukraine (then-Poland) in 1939, they immediately slaughtered all the priests and, after some hesitation, deported all the seminary students. Stalin himself had been a seminary student, so, according to an old man I know who was a seminary student at the time and survived the Gulag, their captors weren’t sure whether they’d in trouble for executing the students.

The Division was supposed to form the core of an eventual Ukrainian Army. This followed the model of the “Sich Riflemen” of the Austro-Hungarian Army who went on to fight first the Polish Army, then the Bolsheviks for the creation of a Ukrainian state, losing eventually on both fronts, but allowing for the declaration of an albeit short lived Ukrainian state in 1918.

The Galician SS Division, about 13,000 men, took something like 70-80% killed in action in the Battle of Brody which was goes down in history as a mere speed bump along the Red Army’s advance to Berlin.

Again, I’m not saying this is the complete story, but you can understand why they get a sympathetic narrative — their story is viewed as a heroic but futile last stand against the Soviets.

You can also probably imagine why this received with such hostility. Both Soviet patriotism and the flavor of Russian nationalism invoked by Putin derives much of its legitimacy from victory over the Nazis.

Two interesting details:

– At Brody, the Galician SS faced the Red Army’s First Ukrainian Front. It was brother against brother. Both World Wars had the catastrophic nature of civil war on the territory of Ukraine.

– One survivor of the Galician SS Division, Hryhoriy Hevryk, joined the Red Army and was killed in action in Poland, becoming an official Hero of the Soviet Union.

There is no serious neo-nazi or fascist movement in Ukraine, but a very small number of idiots sometimes use SS symbols to represent resistance to the Soviets and, by inference, to Russia.

About Crimea

– Upon Ukrainian independence in 1991, all oblasts voted on whether or not to join independent Ukraine. Crimean voters favored the measure, but had by far the lowest support — 54%. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian_independence_referendum,_1991

– The “Autonomous Republic of Crimea” has a greater autonomy than other Ukrainian oblasts. http://www.president.gov.ua/en/content/chapter10.html

– Sevastopol contains a military base for the Russian Navy. A controversial 1997 agreement leased it to the Russian government for 20 years: http://www.diploweb.com/Russia-s-Black-Sea-fleet-in.html

– During the protests, the state-controlled Russian media pulled the plug mid-sentence on a Russian politician from Crimea when he began talking about the corruption of the Yanukovych government and property seizures in Crimea. http://romaninukraine.com/russian-media-unplugs-crimean-politician-when-begins-telling-the-truth/

– There was a large Russian rally in Sevastopol that included the burning of a Ukrainian flag. http://romaninukraine.com/russian-rally-ukie-flag-burning-in-sevastopol/

– Crimea used to be a Khanate. The Ukrainian equivalent of “cowboys and indians” is “kozaks and tartars”.

– The native population of Tartars was deported in 1944 by Stalin. I’ve heard much more severe statistics about numbers of deported and their death rate than the ones in this wikipedia article. Nevertheless: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deportation_of_the_Crimean_Tatars Most historians agree Stalin deported the Crimean Tartars because they insufficiently resisted the Nazis during Nazi occupation.

– “California in the Crimea” was being advertised in the US as a homeland for the Jews in 1943 and 1944. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grigory_Kheifets

Intentions to form a Jewish republic actually existed, based on a letter addressed to Stalin from the Jewish Antifascist Committee. Part of the letter, published for the first time in 1993, stated:

“The creation of a Jewish Soviet republic will once and forever, in a Bolshevik manner, within the spirit of Leninist-Stalinist national policy, settle the problem of the state legal position of the Jewish people and further development of their multicentury culture. This is a problem that no one has been capable of settling in the course of many centuries. It can be solved only in our great socialist country.”

The letter, whose existence is officially admitted in the journals of the Communist party, is still not declassified. Kheifetz said the letter was a proposal with details for a plan to make the Crimean Socialist Republic a homeland for Jewish people from all over the world.

This document fuels a conspiracy theory about an alternative motive for the deportation of the Tartars.

– Today, there was a confrontation between pro-Russian activists and pro-Ukrainian activists near the Crimean Rada. Tartars shouted “glory to Ukraine” and “Alah Ackbar”. Most Tartars fear Moscow much more than Kyiv. They are 12% of the population.

– Should have added this one: In return for giving up its nuclear weapons, Ukraine, the United States of America, Russia, and the United Kingdom signed the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, pledging to respect Ukraine territorial integrity.


The solution to Crimean tensions is so simple that it hurts: local autonomy.

Vanquished Aristocracy

Thanks to my great friend Curt Doolittle for helping me understand Ukraine a little better. I am delighted by his visit and hope he stays.


The story of Ukraine is the story of vanquished aristocracy, annihilated first by the Mongols and second by the Bolsheviks.

Much of what remains waits for their ancient kings to return. A cult awaiting leaders. Predictably, only false profits, lairs, manipulators and the most brutal thugs aspire to the helm. History will not be rewritten. The dead will not return.

Ukrainian aristocracy survives only in the blood of Ukrainians. The aristocratic class needs to be reconstituted. The best genes, those of the ancient kings, perhaps, can only rise amid liberty, in a system of voluntary exchange and property rights where the masses don’t assault the friuts of success with a million rusty knives, each entitled idiot tearing off a piece for himself. Furthermore, t can only arise amid institution like family and fatherhood. Voluntary segregation forces the irresponsible to face the consequences of their irresponsibility.



A country where the men stand around, watch what’s going on, direct the women as if they are somehow adding value to the obvious, and the women humor the men, mollify them sufficiently as if they’re afraid of being beaten, and then do all the work as if the men weren’t there anyway.

. . . .

Men are what mothers breed, and make them. While they have innate tendencies that are very different from those of women, most of what we call civilization is creating rules and incentives that direct men’s energies to the pursuit of status and behavior that is beneficial for all.

So who is to blame for the behavior of men here?

They have not abandoned their wealth of violence. That’s obvious. Neither domestically, politically, economically or socially. And for that I admire them. HOwever, without chivalry, they have no means of directing their energies to service of others.

And without mothers who understand chivalry, they have no one to teach them.


The remembering of past glory seems to be the predominant theme in much Ukrainian poetry. See Shevchenko’s Розрита могила .

Also, in paintings of the iconic Kozak Mamay:

Kozak Mamay

The Kozaks were many things, including the warrior culture of the steppe that proceeded the annihilation of Kyiv-Rus at the hands of the Mongols in the 13th century.

I imagine him singing about how there was once a great kingdom here. Tragically, much ancient Ukrainian literature, including unique original texts were destroyed by the Soviet Union.