Diane Francis

  • Why Nord Stream 2 Isn’t Just an Ordinary Pipeline

    Of all nations, Germany must heed the lessons of history, both current and past. This begs the question as to why Germany would help Europe become more energy dependent on a country like Russia that ignores norms, contracts, laws, treaties, and borders.

    And yet that is exactly what Germany is about to do if it approves Gazprom’s $11.5-billion pipeline gas megaproject called Nord Stream 2. Proponents argue that the pipeline is an “economic project” that simply will deliver cheaper gas to German industries and turn Germany into a European hub for Russian gas. They say this is the same gas, only a different pipeline.

    But this is not an “economic” project and this is not just a different pipeline.

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  • Poroshenko’s Last Chance

    An Anti-Corruption Court is the capstone that will complete an infrastructure to eliminate Ukraine’s systemic corruption and to attract massive investments.
    President Petro Poroshenko’s current proposal misses the mark, and fails to meet the criteria stipulated by the International Monetary Fund and the Council of Europe's Venice Commission. Under Poroshenko’s bill, international experts will play only an advisory role in the selection of judges, and civil society has no role.

    Without international oversight, the process is a sham.

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  • Ukraine’s Unexpected Leaders

    In the summer of 2013, Alex Ryabchyn completed his master’s degree at Sussex University in the United Kingdom, then moved back with his wife and daughter to teach at Donetsk National University in eastern Ukraine.

    That December, the Maidan erupted and he watched from afar with concern. Then in March 2014, after little green men seized Crimea and Russian-backed troops appeared in eastern Ukraine, his life changed.

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  • Documentary Reveals All that Glitters in Russia Is Not Gold

    Russian corruption will cast its shadow over South Korea’s Winter Olympics that will be held between February 9 and 25.

    For decades, the Games, notably the winter ones, have handed Russia its greatest public relations coups. Unable to deliver decent living standards or democracy to its people, the Kremlin has concentrated instead on gold medals in hockey or gymnastics to garner respect at home and abroad.

    But now an incredible documentary has lifted the curtain on Russia’s dirtiest little secret: Corruption at the top has metastasized throughout its society and onto its ice rinks, ski slopes, and gymnasia. Through a state-sponsored program, the Russians cheat and they have been caught.

    Now Russia is banned by the Olympic Committee indefinitely, beginning with these Winter Games.

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  • How Poroshenko Can Easily Be Reelected

    Democracies guarantee freedom of speech for their elected politicians by granting them immunity from libel or slander for statements made inside their legislative chambers. This privilege was established centuries ago in Britain to protect the people’s representatives from the monarchy, House of Lords, and other powerful vested interests.

    Ukraine, on the other hand, has perverted this principle by guaranteeing elected officials complete immunity from civil or criminal prosecutions unless a majority of its 450 deputies allow charges to be laid. The significance of this cannot be overstated. This is impunity, not parliamentary immunity, and has been a license for up 450 people and their sponsors or allies to break laws and loot the country.

    Every election cycle Ukraine is for sale to the highest bidders.

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  • This Time It Will Be Very, Very Different

    In 2014, a 16-year-old Ukrainian, nicknamed Maley, watched the Euromaidan Revolution and Russian invasion on television and contacted his local army recruitment office to sign up. His calls went unanswered, so he took a train from the Carpathians to the front, armed with his grandfather’s hunting rifle and a brass plate bought by his mother taped to his chest as protection. He joined a volunteer militia.

    “I went to save my country,” he told me in a 2015 interview from his bed in a Kyiv hospital. He was wounded after the army medic behind him stepped on a landmine and lost both her legs. “She wasn’t paying attention. I’m going back.”

    If it wasn’t for Ukrainian farm boys, nurses, veterans, and grandfathers, the Russians would have swallowed half of Ukraine. In fact, this was the plan. The stage for invasion had been set by former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych who consolidated his power, jailed opponents, rejected European Union membership, and gutted...

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  • Why Yegor Soboliev is Still Optimistic and Even Joyful about Ukraine’s Future

    The claw back of reforms in Ukraine is alarming, and the latest blow was the dismissal on December 7 of hardworking Yegor Soboliev as chairman of parliament’s anti-corruption committee.

    A former investigative journalist and Maidan activist turned politician, he has been at the forefront of reforms such as electronic asset declarations for state officials, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), and has singlehandedly impeded the passage of three hundred draft bills containing hidden corrupt practices.

    “Soboliev proved to be one of the most effective and sincere drivers of anti-corruption reform in the parliament, he protects the independence of NABU, opposes the appointment of a loyal auditor, and advocates for the establishment of the anti-corruption court,” said the Anti-Corruption Action Center after his dismissal.

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  • Why I’m Not Giving Up on Ukraine

    It’s hard to keep the faith in Ukraine, given the attempts to claw back reforms and repeated attacks against anticorruption activists.

    But a successful Pakistani-born businessman, Mohammad Zahoor, isn’t giving up on Ukraine. He owns The Kyiv Post, a twenty-year-old English language newspaper that crusades for democracy, the rule of law, free markets, and western integration.

    The Kyiv Post has a relatively small circulation, but punches above its weight as the source of news on Ukraine for embassies in Kyiv, chanceries around the world, and expats living and doing business there. Zahoor bought the newspaper in 2009 from its American founder and has lost money ever since. But that is okay.

    “I believe that everyone has a responsibility to do community service. This is corporate social responsibility,” he said. “My wife and I love this country despite...

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  • How the West Can Finally Get Moscow’s Attention

    In March 1980, former President Jimmy Carter announced sanctions against the Soviet Union and a boycott of the Moscow Olympics in protest against its invasion of Afghanistan.

    “We call for the moving of the Olympics or the delay of the Olympics for at least a year, until Soviet troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan, or the canceling of the games,” he said.

    Many nations did not join the boycott, and the games proceeded. Then in 1984, the Soviets retaliated against the Los Angeles Olympics.

    But it’s thirty-seven years later, and President Donald Trump is soft on Russia and certainly wouldn’t even consider a boycott against Moscow anytime soon.

    But Moscow has been on the march again, militarily and virtually. In 2014, under cover of the Sochi Olympics, Russia invaded another neighbor, Ukraine. One year later, it also damaged the world of sports and was exposed for widespread and illegal state-sanctioned doping practices by its athletes in every...

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  • It’s Never Too Late to Set the Record Straight

    On November 24, 1933, the Soviet Union threw a lavish dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel for 1,500 in honor of President Franklin Roosevelt’s recognition of the Soviet Union. They feasted on fancy wines, caviar, and Boeuf Stroganoff, then later in the evening gave a standing ovation to the special guest of honor, Walter Duranty, The New York Times’ foreign correspondent in Moscow and 1932 Pulitzer Prize winner.

    Outside the ballroom, the Great Depression was devastating capitalism and the Soviet Union was devastating Ukraine by starving to death millions to bring them to heel.

    November in Canada is Holodomor Remembrance Month, designed to remember one of the greatest crimes against humanity in history, a premeditated genocide perpetrated by Josef Stalin to collectivize farms and destroy Ukrainian society. Up to ten million died. “Holodomor” means death by hunger in Ukrainian.

    But the man feted years ago in New York, Walter Duranty, knew about...

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