Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home3/tandem/public_html/golemXIV/wp-content/themes/canvas/functions/admin-hooks.php on line 160

British Interests in Ukraine

What are we doing in Ukraine, who is doing it, why are they doing it and for whose benefit? Simple questions but to answer them, even to begin to answer them, we have to take a step back from the official drivel of championing democracy, respecting the will of the people  and protecting the integrity of established national borders. We are always told, these days, that our interventions in other countries are motivated by the purest of concerns. Sometimes mention might be made of ‘national interests’. But are the interests that we intervene to protect really ‘national’, that is pertaining to and benefiting us all as a nation? Or are they more likely to be the interests of a smaller group of people?

When we in the West look at other countries, especially those we assume are corrupt, such as Russia or Ukraine, we have no trouble seeing through the customary claims of ‘being democratic’ and ‘respecting the rule of law’, and clearly perceive that in reality it is the shady coalitions of wealthy men and their political allies who shape what goes on and for whose material benefit policies are formed, actions are taken, people are arrested and wars started.  We all think we know an Oligarch when we see one. We understand that the sudden appearance of hugely wealthy men, out of the creaking bureaucracy of a dysfunctional country, is that special form of corruption that fosters  the incest of power and wealth, such that the wealthy can buy the political favour that will guarantee they will become even wealthier, and those who bestow that political favour can then line their pockets with some of their lord’s money for as long as they remain in favour.

 Such factions do, of course, exist in places like Russia and Ukraine. The question is, do they exist, perhaps in a slightly more nuanced form, in our countries? Can we ever catch sight of them at work? And if so, is this evidence that our countries are actually similarly dysfunctional? Are our ‘national’ policies and actions swayed by the interests of a coterie of the wealthy and the powerful in too close contact? Of course it is easy to proclaim that the answer is obvious. And sometimes it is obvious. Halliburton under the ‘W’ regime was a case in point and Chaney is, in my opinion at least, undoubtedly an American Oligarch. But generally, especially in Europe it is harder is to catch actual sight of them. Particularly because ours are less obvious, more litigious, and usually operate within the wonderfully permissive laws they have often had a hand in framing. What we are looking for are ‘unofficial groupings’ of wealthy people, in close association with those in political power,  who together have access to money and either the official or the less official organs of  State power.  Such grouping are not illegal and to find them does not indicate any wrong doing. But I think it is always prudent to know about them because when power and wealth do associate too intimately it is always a danger.

Business Clans

One Russian analysis of Ukraine by Andrei Fursov of the Centre of Russian Studies at the Institute of Fundamental and Applied Research of Moscow University for the Humanities, described the coalitions in Ukraine as “Business clans”. I like the name. It suggests groupings which are more than purely business, there being some sort of ‘one-of-us’ -ness about them.

So do we too have Business Clans of wealth and political influence, and are their interests a hidden part of what decides what our State does?

It turns out Ukraine is not a bad place to look.

Let’s first briefly look at the Ukrainian clans.  According to Fursov there are four – though confusingly he describes more than four.  According to Fursov there are:

1) The Donetsk Clan.  Wealthiest member is Rinat Akmetov worth $16 billion from Steel and heavy industry. Much of his empire involves European trade.

2) The Yanukovych Clan. A long time political clan whose main sponsors have been Rinat Ahkmetov (see no.1 above) and Dimtry Firtash ( See no. 4 below).

3) The Privat Clan whose ‘owner’ is Ihor Kolomiosky. Privat is Ukraine’s largest bank and Mr Kolomiosky is one of its two owners.

4) The Firtash Clan. The main man is Dmytro Firtash. He owns the Ukrainian half of RosUkrEnergo (which controls the flow of Russian gas to and through Ukraine to Europe) and Centragas as well as many, many other companies. He is very much more closely tied to Russia.

Fursov also mentions Victor Pinchuk. Pinchuk is another billionaire who, along with Firtash has come recently to support and fund Ukraine’s new president, Mr Yatsenyuk. (Although Fursov’s description of the clans and their political front men is more detailed, it does cross reference nicely with briefer, more Western based analyses from Germany’s Speigel and America’s Foreign Affairs.)

So these are the business clans to which the politicians we hear about on the news belong and the Godfather’s who run them.  To give you an idea of the relationship between these oligarchs and their money on the one hand and the politicians and ‘political’ events in Ukraine on the other, let’s look at recent changes of government in Ukraine in relation to these men.

In 2007 Yulia Tymoshenko became Prime Minister of Ukraine for a second time, beating and replacing Firtash’s man, Yanukovych. As this article in Quartz relates,

When Tymoshenko came to power, she did away with Rosurkenergo’s sweetheart deal in a new natural gas arrangement with Russia. It is that transaction for which she was imprisoned—in a scripted trial, she was accused of cutting a bad deal for Ukraine. Once Yanukovych won the 2010 presidential election, Firtash was back in a powerful, behind-the-scenes role in charge of the country’s natural gas industry.

Did Firtash have an interest in what happened? Of course he did. Would elements within Russia have been interested and pleased? Most certainly. Did either have an actual hand in it? Who can say. It is certainly a striking a coincidence of interests.

More recently Yanukovych himself fell from power. Of course his fall was due to a popular uprising. and had nothing to do with the fact that he had just refused to sign an economic ‘association’ deal with the EU. Here is how that event was reported in the Telegraph,

European Union leaders have lashed out at Russia after missing a major opportunity to spread its influence deep into eastern Europe and bluntly accused Moscow of pressuring Ukraine from signing a landmark deal on closer association.

Even if the EU extended its geopolitical reach eastward by initialing association agreements with Georgia and Moldova, the belated refusal of Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych to sign up to a similar deal largely spoiled the two-day summit with the EU’s eastern partners.

Most EU leaders accused Russia of using threats and bullying to keep Ukraine in step with Moscow.

The EU clearly saw the refusal, of the until then fairly compliant Mr Yanukovych, as a clear indication of Russian ‘meddling’. What about Mr Yanukovych’s sudden fall at the hands of a well organized uprising? Would that be European or American meddling. Or are we above that sort of thing? I personally think the meddling was primarily American. The Americans had the most to gain by Yanukovych’s departure and had the least invested – if you’ll pardon the expression – in his survival. The British had much more invested in Yanukovych and the clans which supported him, indeed had created him. Yanukovych was once a car mechanic who had been convicted of robbery and assault. But he met Mr Akhmetov and a little later Mr Firtash and those men made Yanukovych who and what he became.

The British position has therefore been a balancing act. They were well integrated with Yanukovych and his wealthy protectors and thus not keen to see him go, but when he seemed to back off from cooperation with Europe in favour of Putin’s Russia they might well have thought it better to look for a new man. And of course the American’s had already chosen one in Yatsenyuk. Among the Europeans the Germans and Austrians would have had to tread very carefully in any meddling that might upset Putin. My reasoning is the delicate position of German and Austrian banks in regards to Russian and Turkmenistan Oligarch money.

Nevertheless there has been a lot of meddling in Ukraine – from all sides. Within the Ukraine, the clan which Yanukovych’s  refusal to sign tehe European accord, would have hurt most was the large, rich and powerful Donetsk/Akhmetov clan whose businesses are oriented towards Europe. Might Mr Akhmetov have helped or funded a popular uprising that his European and, I suspect, in particular his American friends, would have been delighted with? It would have been in his interests. But again we don’t know. It is another striking coincidence of interests.

It might be worth noting at this point that Mr Firtash has been arrested in Austria at the bidding of the Americans on grounds of all sorts of alleged economic ‘irregularlties’. While Mr Akhetov has remained at his ease. My oligarch is a business genius. Yours is a crook.

British interests in Ukraine – a very British clan?

It was with this picture of Ukrainian economics and politics in mind that I wondered what interests my country’s wealthy and powerful ‘clans’ might have in Ukraine. If indeed we could be said to have that sort of ‘clan’ at all. I leave it to you to decide the answer to that question. Here is what I found.

You might not know it, I didn’t, but there is a British Ukrainian Society (BUS). It’s aim, to “strengthen relations”.

firenzie_promoIt turns out that  its board is just full of interesting people: Lord Risby, Lord Oxford , Robert Shelter-Jones, John Wittingdale MP, Baroness Smith of Gilmorehill and Mr Anthony Fisher .

Now before looking at any of these people in more depth it is perhaps worth noticing that Lord Risby  has been a Conservative MP since 1992, till he joined the Lords in 2010, has served in the Treasury and the Ministry of Defense, and from 2005 to 2010 was Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party with special responsibility for business links to the City of London. John Wittingdale is a also very senior Conservative being vice chair of the key, 1922 committee. Robert Shelter-Jones is a Conservative Party donor via his company Sythian Ltd. As the Indepedent Newspaper reported,

The money from Mr Shetler-Jones has gone to the highest echelons of the party. Dame Pauline Neville Jones, the career diplomat who is now the shadow security minister, revealed in the latest Register of Members’ Interests that she receives £5,000 a quarter or £20,000-a-year from Mr Shetler-Jones.

Another senior Tory, the former armed services minister Nicholas Soames, also declares on the register that he receives an undisclosed sum as a strategic adviser to Scythian Limited, which has had listed assets of no more than £2 since 2006 and has given a total of more than £27,000 to Conservative Central Office.

When Lord Risby was at the ministry of Defense Nicholas Soames was the Minister.

The odd one out at the British Ukrainian Society is Baroness Smith (listed as a patron) who was married to the former leader of the Labour party.  Despite her presence, having strong ties to the Conservative party does seem to be quite a common theme at the BUS. Just an inocent coincidence of course. But we do already seem to have quite a grouping of political power.  Likewise it may be just a coincidence that another common theme among BUS board members is having close ties to Mr Firtash of RosUkrEnergo gas company. Robert Shetler-Jones was the former CEO of Group DF which is Mr Firtash’s main holding company. Mr Shelter-Jones is now on Group DF’s supervisory board. Lord Oxford is also on Group DF’s supervisory council. While Mr Anthony Fisher is a former director of the Firtash Foundation. And one more BUS board member, Vladimir Granovski, is also on the board of Mr Firtash’s television company. 

So I think it is fair to say that the BUS is not a cultural organisation. It has no artists or poets on its board, nor any human rights activists either. It has mainly people who are interested in business (which businesses I will come to shortly), are closely associated with Mr Firtash, and many of whom are members of or donors to the Conservative party. There are two other things which link three of the BUS members which are not emphasized on the BUS web site.

Both Lord Risley and Lord Oxford are non-executive board members of Oil and Gas companies whose main interests lie in Ukraine. While both Lord Oxford and Richard Shetler-Jones have been reported as having links (in Lord Oxford’s case very senior links) with MI6.

So now we have a group of people who are linked by interests in Ukrainian gas, close ties to Ukrainian oligarch Mr Firtash as well as two other Ukrainian business clans, close and senior connections to the Conservative party, ditto for MI6 and they are members of the British Ukrainian Society. If this grouping were in Ukraine and the people were all members of the Ukrainain British Society, with business interests in the UK,  ties to Ukrainian intelligence and many of them were senior members of one politcal party as well, would we have difficulty seeing them as on their way to being a business clan?

Gas companies

Lord Oxford, or as he is known to his friends, Raymond Benedict Bartholomew Michael Asquith, 3rd Earl of Oxford and Asquith, is an hereditary peer and was a senior British diplomat stationed at one time in Moscow. In fact, according to the Telegraph newspaper he was the MI6 Station Chief in Moscow. He is now a non-executive Director of JKX Oil and Gas which has large oil and gas rights in Ukraine.  

According to its Wikipdia entry,

JKX is the dominant private enterprise in exploration and production, accounting for over three-quarters of all oil and almost half of all gas produced by non-state-owned companies.

So along side Mr Firtash’s RosUkrEnergo, JKX is a pretty big player in Ukraine. The Russian state bank VTB owns 6.4% of JKX while Ihor Kolomoyski (see clan no. 3 above) who is co-owner of Pivat Bank, which is Ukraine’s largest private bank, owns 27%. So JKX has ties to the Russian state, to Ukraine and one of its business clans, via Ukraine’s largest bank, and Lord Oxford is, as mentioned, also on the board of one of Mr Firtash’s ( Clan no.4, co-owner of RosUrkEnergo which handles all the state owned gas, and who was just arrested in Austria at the behest of the Americans on charges of corruption) companies.

Lord Risbey is also on the board of an oil and gas company operating in the Ukraine. He is a non-executive director of Hawkley Oil and Gas. Which is a very interesting company.

Hawkley Oil and Gas is small and relatively new. It’s birth was, in my opinion, rather odd and worth looking a little into. Back in 2010 an immunology company called Inceptive announced that,

While the Company [Inceptive] has historically focused on its science/ biotechnology business, the Company has reached an agreement to acquire a private BVI oil and gas exploration company, Hawkley.

An obvious development, I am sure you’ll agree, immunology to gas exploration. The three board members of Inceptive were replaced with new men.

The private BVI (British Virgin Island) company mentioned was Janita Global Ltd which was trading as Hawkley. And when Incitive said it was going to acquire, it was actually,

…an agreement to merge with Janita Global Limited (Janita), an oil and gas company, with assets in the Dnieper-Donets Basin in the Ukraine. The merger was treated as a reverse acquisition by Janita of the Company [Incitive] which results in Janita being the in substance acquirer.

So actually Incitive didn’t buy anything in the ordinary sense. But of course Janita now traded as Hawkley and so Hawkley emerged as a new company now based in Australia in the shell of what used to be Incitive minus everyone who ever worked for Incitive. The question is why? Why not simply create a new company rather than merge with and then gut an old one? Creating a new company costs pennies. The merger and creation of the new Hawkley, according to their own filings, created a loss for the company, for the twelve months ending 30th June 2010, of just over $6 million!  The only person who is a constant in all this, from Janita and Incitive to Hawkley is a Mr Richard Reavley who is one of the founding members of Janita and then became and still is, the CEO of the new Hawkley Oil and Gas.  Clear? Don’t worry these sorts of things, one gets the strong impression, are not meant to be clear.

As all these mergers and name changes were happening and a $6 million loss was being accumulated, nevertheless lots of shares were bought and sold from and between a whole nest of UK shell companies, and other private companies registered in BVI and the Bahamas. Why invest in a company earning little and with a large loss is not quite clear. However, names that pop up as investors included Ballure Trading Ltd which is a UK shell company that lists Darion Ltd as its sole director and Sultan Services Ltd as its secretary. Darion has previously appeared in filings for and resigned as director or secretary of other companies 23 times. Sultan services has also resigned from companies 23 previous times. If I have read the filings properly, and I am not an expert so I may have misunderstood, I think these companies and a host of others listed have even acted for each other as secretary or director in the past. The result is that no one, not even Companies House, the tax man nor the police know who is the actual beneficial owner of any of these companies.

Two other tax-haven companies also appear in the listings for Hawkley, which are Avenger Investment and Acetone Ltd, at one point owning nearly a quarter of Hawkley between them. These companies too don’t make it clear who owns them. But in what are called 601 filings the names of their directors do appear. On the filing for Avenger Investments we find the signatures of Claudio Buhler and Kin Chui Tang as directors.









The odd thing is that Claudio Buhler and Kin Chi Tang  are also listed as the directors of Acetone Ltd and Avenger is listed as the named company on Acetone’s filing. Which suggested that perhaps Acetone and Avenger too are just shell companies for whoever Mr Buhler and Kin Chi Tang are representing.

Buhler and Tang were actually both partners in Caldwell & Partners. They are now both founder members of CKP fiduciaries along with Philip Caldwell which offers fiduciary services to high net worth individuals. Mr Buhler is, quite interestingly, also on the board of Georgia Oil and Gas Company Ltd. Another BVI company operating in the gas fields of the former Soviet Union. Kin Chui Tang is listed as a UK citizen but the listed address is in Zug in Switzerland.

So much for Hawkley’s murky origins. What about now? Well if you look at how it is doing now you find statements like this one from investment site MacroAxis

The company has return on total asset (ROA) of (68.02) % which means that it has lost $68.02 on every $100 spent on asset. This is way below average. Similarly, it shows return on equity (ROE) of (104.79) %meaning that it generated substantial loss on money invested by shareholders.

So we have a company whose origins were …odd, involved lots of shell companies and a multi million dollar loss and the company is now…making a loss. Though it is still solvent due to the money it raised from its investors.  It does have assets but there is something distinctly…odd about the company. Nothing illegal – just odd.

Put together Lord Oxford’s interests and those of Lord Risley and between those interests in gas, the ties of various British Ukrainian Society members to Mr Firtash, to MI6 and to the Conservative party and is there anything we should be asking ourselves? 

Oh one last thing – Lord Risley is not only a member of the British Ukrainian Society but also of the British Syrian Society. Two countries where we are involved in changes of regime and both central to struggles over gas and gas pipelines.  


Subscribe to posts by email

33 Responses to British Interests in Ukraine

  1. Salford Lad May 15, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

    Great detective work David,follow the money. Heavy research involved of course. As usual the Tories are neck deep in it.

  2. elspethc May 15, 2014 at 4:53 pm #

    Thank you for this detailed research. Sparks off a lot of thought, such as “ever thus” but also concern for how to create more productive change, a difficult task, as necessary jobs can often be. I would like to hear your thoughts – follow up maybe – with that in mind. Or the thoughts of others who comment here.

  3. vb May 15, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

    I read the whole Andrei Fursov transcript, and I recommend to take it with a really big grain of salt. Some of the stuff he mentiones is, well, pretty insane, and well-off into the conspiracy theory territory (the loony part of it).

    • Golem XIV May 15, 2014 at 6:14 pm #

      Hello vb,

      Yes I read it through as well and agree with you that there is much of it which seems to be weak and feels more like prejudice rather than analysis. That part I made no reference to. Only his outline of the various oligarchs and their clans. Which as I say, did map on to other more western analyses.

      • vb May 15, 2014 at 6:56 pm #

        Not just weak, but pure disinformation – the one I’m completely sure of is irradiation and sterilization of Serbia by US (grew up there, currently living next door) – statistics are easy to check, and there’s not a shred of evidence to support it. Not checking the facts (and using hear-say as fact) is well enough reason to scratch someone as a reliable source, let alone analyst. Even more so when it’s in “precious bodily fluids” territory.

        Just my 2 cents on the guy – didn’t mean to imply you subscribe to all of his analysis. Been a long time lurker on your blog, wouldn’t read it if it were so. Information and disinformation are two sides of the same coin, so keep up the good work for us who prefer the former.

        • Golem XIV May 15, 2014 at 8:34 pm #

          Thanks. WIll do. You’re certainly right that there is a lot of disinformation put about quite deliberately. It makes it very difficult to judge sometimes and it is why I try to mention who the source is and what affiliations they are known to have.

          Doesn’t always work though.

          Thanks for reading and commenting.

  4. red May 16, 2014 at 5:34 am #

    This whole thing stinks – I mean, of course, not just what yr detective work hints at – but everything, the criminal enterprise we live within. These people own everything. The skilled man, the working classes, own nothing: they just pay the price and are ripped off every time.

    Until private ownership of land is outlawed, we will continue with this insanity. Until private ownership of land is outlawed, we will not have free food and free housing.

  5. desmond May 16, 2014 at 10:59 am #

    Thank you Golem for shining some light into the darkness that seeks to be impenetrable. Its good to see who these ‘champions of democracy’ are motivated by. No doubt they want to add to the work accomplished so well in Syria.. Libya.. Iraq etc etc. Also its good to see you back in action.

  6. Brendan May 16, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

    Until recently power in Ukraine revolved around the oligarchs and their clans that David describes. The regime that took over in the coup in March still includes a number of oligarchs but it has also introduced neo-liberals and neo-Nazis.

    The neo-liberals have Yatsenyuk (Victoria Nuland’s choice) in place as prime minister. That’s useful for representing the western financial interests planning the usual combination of austerity and privatisation to loot Ukraine of its assets.

    The neo-Nazis were taken on board to do the dirty work of physical force, which they’re happy to do. In return they get the respectability of being part of a modern western government where they’ve got several senior positions.

    The oligarch system has been preserved in the new regime, with billionaires appointed as governors of two eastern regions. No need to worry about any threat to the influence of crony capitalism, then. Yanukovych was also part of that system but he had to go when he accepted Russia’s offer to Ukraine which was much more generous than the EU’s. I suspect that anyone else would have had little choice but to do the same to stop the government going bankrupt but Yanukovych was unfortunate to be in power at the time.

    Each of the allies now in power represents some small group of people. Too bad that nobody’s there to represent the excluded minorities and the Ukrainian people in general.

    • Golem XIV May 16, 2014 at 9:52 pm #

      Quite so Brendan. No one there for the people AT ALL.

  7. harold wilson's pipe May 17, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

    Golem wrote:

    “Such [oligarchies/]factions do, of course, exist in places like Russia and Ukraine. The question is, do they exist, perhaps in a slightly more nuanced form, in our countries? Can we ever catch sight of them at work? And if so, is this evidence that our countries are actually similarly dysfunctional? Are our ‘national’ policies and actions swayed by the interests of a coterie of the wealthy and the powerful in too close contact?”

    I’m going to guess that (perhaps because of other things going on) you’ve not seen the coverage of the recently published Princeton survey that attempts to objectively and quantitatively show that the US itself is an oligarchy. And, apparently, succeeds in so doing.

    One place to start:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-echochambers-27074746 (17 April 2014)

    [verbatim, unedited:]

    “The US is dominated by a rich and powerful elite.

    So concludes a recent study [1] by Princeton University Prof Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Prof Benjamin I Page.

    This is not news, you say.

    Perhaps, but the two professors have conducted exhaustive research to try to present data-driven support for this conclusion. Here’s how they explain it:

    Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.

    In English: the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power.

    The two professors came to this conclusion after reviewing answers to 1,779 survey questions asked between 1981 and 2002 on public policy issues. They broke the responses down by income level, and then determined how often certain income levels and organised interest groups saw their policy preferences enacted.

    “A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favour) is adopted only about 18% of the time,” they write, “while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favour) is adopted about 45% of the time.”

    On the other hand:

    When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it.

    They conclude:

    Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organisations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened. ”


    Would an analysis in the UK be any different? How about Germany?

    [1] http://www.princeton.edu/~mgilens/Gilens%20homepage%20materials/Gilens%20and%20Page/Gilens%20and%20Page%202014-Testing%20Theories%203-7-14.pdf

    • redracam May 20, 2014 at 1:53 am #

      Of course you are absolutely right; no difference.
      Our problem is not comprehension-at-rocket-science-level,it is, as you and David demonstrate, simply having correctly reported information about interests and players.
      A Belgium journalist, Michel Collon, breaks down the sales pitch for war by MSM into 5 steps (à la Ukraine) :
      1) Obscure the real history – American investment of $5 billion to create anti-russian political sway since 1990s – the putsch financed by USA – the Ukraine has not now, nor has ever, been a member of the National-Socialist party – Stepan Ban… who?
      2) Hide economic interests – Cf : above article et al.
      3) Vilify the opponent. – Bally imperialistic Ruskies want to take over the world!
      4) Present “our side”, not as attacking a people but attacking its leader. – We want to free the Ukrainians from the Soviet (sorry), the Russian threat and, above all, its evil leader Bashar Al-Assad (sorry) V.V.Putin who is really Adolf Hitler.
      5) Monopolize news space; prevent real debate. – Where has the Odessa massacre been reported in MSM? Who has reported the actual words (not just commentary) of V.V. Putin talking about the Ukrainian crisis ?

      • desmond May 20, 2014 at 10:19 am #

        pots and kettles, its all a pile of poo. Maybe each of us has to find sanity from within ourselves instead of looking for it in this nonsense called MSM. So called journalists are in fact the embedded mouthpieces of corruption. Except for johnpilger.com and a very very few others. Of course most who would be real journalists are denied access to the MSM because there is no free press.

  8. foucalt tudoux wimay May 20, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    Baroness Smith is a very interesting person, she pops up in the strangest places.

  9. allcoppedout May 20, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

    Recent comments outside the insanestream have reminded me of Marx in his discussion of British involvement against Sweden (then something of an empire) and in favour of Russia. There is this statement, almost of our times:
    ” The oligarchy which, after the “glorious revolution,” usurped wealth and power at the cost of the mass of the British people, was, of course, forced to look out for allies, not only abroad, but also at home. The latter they found in what the French would call la haute bourgeoisie, as represented by the Bank of England, the money-lenders, State creditors, East India and other trading corporations, the great manufacturers, etc. How tenderly they managed the material interests of that class may be learned from the whole of their domestic legislation—Bank Acts, Protectionist enactments, Poor Regulations, etc. As to their foreign policy, they wanted to give it the appearance at least of being altogether regulated by the mercantile interest, an appearance the more easily to be produced, as the exclusive interest of one or the other small fraction of that class would, of course, be always identified with this or that Ministerial measure. The interested fraction then raised the commerce and navigation cry, which the nation stupidly re-echoed.”

    He points to quite extraordinary naval involvement by the UK in terms of any possible economic return to the country, benefiting only a few lobbyists. It seems ludicrous over 100 years after this piece we still have no real public debate informed about the interests at work

  10. John G May 21, 2014 at 6:35 am #

    Great to see you back, David. Good detective work here.

    The MSM has sunk to new lows in this crisis. So much so that I can see a sea change in public perception of how the business/government/media/military nexus works.

  11. allcoppedout May 21, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

    Really good read David. I often can’t get past some simple reasoning, like how are these things not just transparent in the first place? I’m actually stunned by the way such democratic reasoning is just regarded as naive. I say this as a long-time ex-cop who used to investigate fraud. I often find myself wondering what theory is when our practice is rarely democratic. Discussing Critical Theory or radical deconstructive politics over a few beers is comforting, but there’s a point when one realises just how comfortable the niche becomes, as neo-liberalism sweeps us towards fascism – that point when we can’t vote for you and contemplate Farrage as a protest (I’ll be voting Green – though have equally little clue who the candidates on list are).

    What you’ve put up here is very like a fraud enquiry. Trying to establish the network, people and history as the past sweeps forward – money in its real context of power and events. Of course, back to my stunned thing, if we were a democracy, cops would be on the trail of this. And we’d have a form of public scrutiny in which participants had to come clean. Your work is something of a beacon in a dark journey and very much appreciated.

    As mentioned above (and as we presumably all know) Marx was in this territory, if not specifically on Ukraine. There have been many more. I’m thinking ED Morel and a lot of questioning on ‘where Nazi finance came from’ (or our own war finance). I’m a Morel fan and his Union for Democratic Control had 650,000 members in 1917. He unseated Churchill in Dundee in 1924 (though as a Labour candidate).

    Sorry for the slow build up. I take it you wouldn’t think me so naff as to accuse you of re-inventing the wheel. The history of why we are shifting so little despite expose is obsessing me, in terms of how we might do it better. Marx, Morel, Malone looks a good line to me. In the timeline, things seem to have been getting worse, despite achievements like women’s rights and universal suffrage. It seems impossible to do other than imagine a democratic economy rather than the continuation of ‘international piracy by other means’ (sometimes not so ‘other’ if one compares ‘red rubber’ with the coltan in our mobile phones). The story shortens to the long-term presence of these oligarchs and manipulators making vast profit while delivering a tax on the rest of us under the deception this is for the greater good.

    Against the line of work exposing the truth, is an apparent non-shift in public opinion and an Establishment ability to soak the exposure away. One can hardly place the burden of sorting this long problem on any individual. I’m off to teach from David’s work now (a last meeting of economics 101 to return assignments) in the ‘complexity of money’. Reaction to this kind of material is an odd combination of interest, pre-awareness (if not of authors and, say, David’s specifics) and (genial) what’s this got to do with the price of fish in getting a job? And I’ll be wondering how we might break up the ground that stirling work like this can grow in. There is a trance to break somewhere. I know plenty of academic work that explains the resistance to facts, but want a book of spells to break the trance!

    There must be times in history when ‘scales fell from eyes’ that could help, in which false opinion (often held by victims I suspect) collapsed. I fancy the women’s movement as an example, though from the perspective women themselves were some of the staunchest opponents. When David investigates like this the facts need to impinge in understandings in some emancipatory spirit in which we are not just cogs in a control fraud we can’t stop.

    • Golem XIV May 22, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

      Thanks. It was tricky to write. So many things I couldn’t say. I’d love to hear more about what a real fraud investigation is like, if ever you had the time or inclination.

      • allcoppedout May 22, 2014 at 6:59 pm #

        Lecture went well – pleasing to note your stuff produced a lot of knowledgeable reaction to the extent we could have had another session. Three or four were wondering in the bar if they could do next year’s dissertation on costing the network you expose. Beyond me, but I won’t be discouraging them.

        I try something on the fraud investigation, after a practical effort – my tax returns are due.

        • Phil (Mcr) May 24, 2014 at 11:37 pm #

          We should try to get you two and Rowan Bosworth-Davies together.

          I don’t know if All Copped Out has seen Rowan’s blog:


          I’ve sent this piece to him, David.

  12. steviefinn May 21, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

    Great to see you back David.

    We appear to still be at the mercy of robber barons pretty much everywhere & Ukraine is just an obvious & extreme version of this with it’s modern day RB’s been given their own fiefdoms to take care of until a king is elected, who will need to both control them & keep them happy. That lovely lady Timoshenko doesn’t look like she will be getting elected which might cause problems at a later date in a country that somehow reminds me of Westeros, but with no-one who is worth investing any hope in.

    I am disgusted with the media in particular the Guardian who in their comments section (as far as I could tell) censored all videos showing the Union building massacre while complaining that those who were not following the Western line were paid for Kremlin trolls – No more clicks from me anyhow.

    As for the European elections & politicians, I read a very long article posted on NC regarding Italy which gave a good insight into how what little real democracy they had is being throttled in order to preserve power for the few. Berlusconi kicked out basically because unlike Rajoy he couldn’t be relied on to obey the Troika. Napolitano the president who is a good example of those plentiful politicians from the middle ground who will pay court to whatever powerful outside interest of whatever political flavour which best suits his & a small number of others interests. The other main player is Renzi, who is seen by some as the new Tony Blair, in other words a new faux progressive. Napolitano & the former mayor have been busy altering the Italian election system to make it an even worse democratic system than it already was.

    So we have oligarchs, corporations & the military supported by the right, Neo-cons, Neoliberals & basically by the faux progressives who account for all the mainstream so called opposition parties in the West, who are aided & abetted by the media who include so called progressive outlets like the Guardian.

    I despise the progressives treachery because unlike the right they are supposed to stand up for the majority rather than the few, whereas like vultures the right are simply doing what’s in their nature.


  13. AndrewW May 23, 2014 at 4:42 am #


    • Mike Hall May 23, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

      I wouldn’t doubt the ugly machinations of all those elite a*holes in that article, but the Patent looks absolutely boring and routine. About squeezing a few more chips out of a silicon wafer slice by rearranging their positions & orientation. For big companies even the smallest potential improvement will often raise a patent. Cheap enough to do.

  14. Hysteria May 23, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

    Chaney ? Really?

  15. bill40 May 27, 2014 at 6:23 pm #

    What has always puzzled me is how this just came out of the blue. Ukraine is a democracy and the incumbent about to get thrown out of office in an election next year. Where did the urgency come from? Which half wit thought it a good idea to poke Putin with a sharp stick? Who could possibly have thought Russia, under any leader, would let Crimea go? But with Putin as leader it was gross insanity.

    I hope you write more on this Golem.

  16. Salford Lad June 9, 2014 at 12:44 am #

    Excellent analysis and summation of the Ukrainian debacle. A must read.

  17. Curently August 30, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Which half wit thought it a good idea to poke Putin with a sharp stick? Who could possibly have thought Russia, under any leader, would let Crimea go? But with Putin as leader it was gross insanity. google

  18. JayTe September 26, 2014 at 10:36 am #

    Very nice article. I think you’re missing the global picture. If Europe is getting it’s energy needs from Russia and from Iran through the Qatar gas fields, they will be provided by countries primarily hostile to Washington and not denominated in dollars. As US hegemony is dependent on the dollar being the reserve currency which is dependent on energy being denominated in dollars, once the majority of the world is getting it’s energy in units denominated in another currency, the dollar loses its reserve status. Once the dollar is no longer the reserve currency, the US crumbles (especially the military) and it takes down British and other parts of Europe with close ties to the US. That’s why the US has decided on regime change in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya and also Ukraine because they want to maintain hegemony. Yes, those interests in Britain would benefit handsomely from a pliant government doing the bidding of the US and UK.

    As for Ukraine, you miss the fact that Ukraine is utterly dependent on Russia who provides most of its manufacturing orders and was using it for transiting gas to Europe. That is gone for the most part. If you consider that what the EU is attempting with its association agreement is to integrate a country twice the size of East Germany into the west. It would require at minimum $20 billion per year over at least 20 years to do that. Given the state of ALL of the western countries (Germany included because although on the surface it looks alright, when you consider that already 50 municipalities have declared bankruptcy and that it’s unfunded liabilities i.e. public pensions are 400% of GDP and growing, it’s clear it’s not in a good state) are incapable of providing the funds necessary to modernise Ukraine.

    So all they will try to do is exploit it. Since it’s eastern Ukraine that has the manufacturing, the coal industry and alot of the rich farmland, you see why the west forced the Kiev government to launch an “anti terror” offensive against the primarily Russian speaking eastern Ukrainians. But as anybody with half a brain knows, those fighting for their home will fight twice as hard as those who 1. don’t want to be there killing their fellow Ukrainians and to whom they have no gripe 2. Are being forced to fight at the point of a gun by neo-nazi paramilitary groups. Ukraine is now another basket case like Libya, Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq thanks the the US and UK. It will be very clear when the winter is colder than hoped for and there is not enough gas or coal (since Ukraine if forced to important it since the Kiev forces destroyed the mining equipment in east Ukraine) to keep homes warm during the winter. Another brilliant operation by the Anglo Saxons!

    • Golem XIV September 27, 2014 at 10:13 am #

      Hello Jayte,

      I agree with your analysis. Particularly what you have to say about the US need to keep energy transactions in dollars. I made some of the same points when writing about what is going on in Syria. But I think you shouldn’t lump all the europeans together. In my opinion Germany, teh UK and France have quite different agendas. Again I wrote about this in the Syria pieces. I see what is happening in Syria and Ukraine as two fronts in the same war.

      I agree Ukraine is being torn apart and I think it is a crime. It seems to me in many ways a replay of what was done to Yugoslavia.

      Thanks for your thoughts. I hope you’ll comment again in future.

  19. Anderson September 28, 2014 at 7:19 pm #

    naturallly lkke yiur web-site bbut you hzve too take a look aat thee
    spelpling on several off your posts. Several oof them are rif
    woth spelling isues aand I find it vrry bothersome to tell tthe truth then again I wikl definitely come again again.

    • Golem XIV September 29, 2014 at 8:13 am #

      Made me laugh. Thank You. I am sorry about the spellings. I know you are right about it being bothersome. I will try to do better.


  1. What Are the British Interests in Ukraine? « wchildblog - May 18, 2014

    […] Source: Golem XIV […]

Leave a Reply