[Marxism] Seeds of Discord in Ukraine

Greg McDonald gregmc59 at gmail.com
Thu May 1 00:01:47 MDT 2014


This  comparative, historical piece appeared on portside.

Seeds of Discord in Ukraine

By Scott Reynolds Nelson

When I arrived in Odessa in the spring of 2011 to do research on trade
between Russia and the West in the 19th century, I imagined the relatively
idyllic picture painted by financial observers of that period.

When our plane landed, I discovered that my spoken Russian was not good
enough to bargain with the Gypsy cab drivers. I finally located someone who
spoke a little German and a few words of English. I showed him the address
of my hotel, and he looked me up and down, twice. When we arrived, I
discovered why. "*Russkaya mafiya,*" he said as I startled at the men in
camouflage jackets who guarded the front gates with Kalashnikovs. Two
sniper towers had sightlines that converged on our taxi. I had, apparently,
booked a hotel in a Russian-mafia quarter. My broken Russian and my printed
reservation got me in.

Outside the compound, I had seen poverty. Inside, I saw opulence: Humvees,
late-model Benzes, and million-­dollar summer homes of the newly rich
Russians close to Vladimir Putin. My hotel room looked out onto a pool that
looked out onto the Black Sea. Young women who brought to mind bikini
models swam in the pool while boyfriends the age of their fathers watched
from their deck chairs. This was the new Ukraine, and it was a long time in
the making.

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