From my latest Daily Beast dispatch from Ukraine:
“We have already seen organized crime working hand-in-hand with the Russians in Crimea,” says the prosecutor. In that breakaway Black Sea peninsula, Moscow helped install former gangland lieutenant Sergei Aksyonov as prime minister, and his background is well known. Aksyonov and his Russian separatist associates share sordid pasts that mix politics, graft and extortion in equal measure and together they helped steer Crimea into the Russian Federation.
“Why should it surprise you,” the prosecutor in Donetsk asks, “if the same dynamic [as in Crimea] is playing out here? … Maybe there are Russian intelligence agents on the ground, but Moscow through crime networks has an army of hoodlums it can use, too.”
KIEV—”Stamping their feet and moving closer to barrels serving as braziers on this cold misty morning, the Maidan protesters on Kiev’s Independence Square say they have no intention of decamping from their canvas tents any time soon. They have two enemies to see off first: Russia’s Vladimir Putin and the country’s politicians, including those who have replaced the president they ousted, Viktor Yanukovych.”
Read my Daily Beast dispatch from the new West/Russia fault-line here.
And on an aspect of the propaganda war being waged over Ukraine my Fox News report here.
“In the propaganda war raging over Ukraine’s revolution, Russia is playing up claims of neo-Nazi involvement in the protests that toppled Viktor Yanukovych, alleging the far right is on the rise in the former Soviet republic and was crucial in the Ukrainian president’s downfall.”
And some snapshots of the Maidan this week: