Poet, Journalist, Translator

Stephen Komarnyckyj


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I write about poetry, Ukraine and money laundering- why the hell not?

Fancy a frack? How the UK Greens got into bed with Putin

By Steve Komarnyckyj, Sep 2 2015 02:24PM

When Anders Fogh Rassmussen former NATO secretary alleged that Russia was funding the anti fracking movement in June 2014 he attracted the scorn of environmentalists in the US and the UK. The alliance between the greens and the gas powered gangster cabal headed by Putin seems incongruous. Ecological activists are devoted to sustainability and minimising the waste of resources. Putin's associates buy exclusive properties in Kensington, cruise the streets of Moscow and London in Bentleys while Russia's population live in disenfranchised poverty and servitude. However, an investigation by the Washington Free Beacon and Environmental Policy Alliance found that Russia was funelling money into US based environmental groups. The funding which was funnelled via the Sea Change foundation was allocated to three key American environmentalist organisations. These were the Sierra Club, the National Resources Defence Council and the League of Conservation Voters. The money was linked to Putin's inner circle and to Rosneft and to an oil company connected to Alexander Lebedev. The American green movement has in turn largely echoed Putin's propaganda over Ukraine. The Popular Resistance site founded by American Green activist Margaret Flowers and Emanuel Sferios repeats Russia's distorted propaganda concerning Ukraine. The Green Party in the USA itself is essentially acting as a lobby for Putin in the US blocking aid to Ukraine

The American green movement can therefore be regarded as an instrument of Russian policy. Its activists transplant Russian propaganda with all its distortions into US society. One of the most prominent UK environmentalists with some admittedly tenuous links to the Sierra Club is Oliver Tickell. Tickell works for the Ecologist, one of the United Kingdom's most important environmental journals. The magazine merged with Resurgence in 2011 and is now under the aegis of the Resurgence Trust a charity which is linked to and has received donations from the Sainsbury family's charities. There is no evidence of substantive Russian funding to the trust although a certain E Lebedev made a token donation in 2014. However Tickell has used the Ecologist as a conduit for Russian propaganda. He has appeared on Russia Today challenging the notion that Russia attacked Ukraine. Tickell also argues that Russia is being misrepresented Ukraine in one of his own pieces on the Ecologist site. He is happy to use any source however questionable to bolster his arguments. The piece we have mentioned uses a photograph from the Colonel Cassad Novorossia propaganda blog. His work also appears on the Ukrainophobic hard left Counterpunch site. Counterpunch publishes Israel Shamir the notorious ultra right wing commentator ,Holocaust denier and associate of Assange. Shamir's absurd portrayal of Putin as a normal politician was published on the Ecologist site. Presumably the Sainsbury family is happy to donate funds to a site which publishes articles by this toxic figure and possible Russian intelligence asset. We can also assume that Tickell is comfortable with Shamir's antics and regards him as a reliable source. We may also note that Counterpunch is a favoured outlet for white supremacists. Satish Kumar the founder of the Resurgence Trust is one the most respected environmentalists in the world. We can state with confidence that Russia's influence reaches to the heart of the green movement. We can also note that the greens are being drawn into the alliance of fascists and communists fostered by the Russian dictator.

Another aspiring green activist who echoes Putin's propaganda appears to be the prominent geologist Stephen Henley. It is difficult to reconcile the sobre bespectacled scientist of his professional profile with the St George Ribbbon flaunting fanatic of his twitter thread. It is hard to believe that Henley takes the propaganda he recycles seriously despite his perpetual tone of splenetic indignation. However, his profile reveals that he has a financial interest in Russia. Henley is the CEO of Pomor Ltd. Pomor is an equity participant OAO Pana, PGM exploration/mining and contract drilling in Russia.

The links between the green movement and Putin are most evident organisationally within the two organisations linked to neo Stalinist Jeremy Corbyn. Stop the War UK and the People's Assembly include significant players who are receiving money from Russia Today. George Galloway, who Corbyn describes as his “good friend", often featured on the propaganda channel. Neil Clark, another STWUK stalwart, is a Russia Today contributor who tirelessly recycles Putin's propaganda on his twitter feed. Corbyn himself is the Chair of STWUK. Caroline Lucas of the Green Party is a Vice President of STWUK. STWUK's stance may be described as anti-west rather than anti-war. It opposes western intervention to prevent Assad's barrel bombing in Syria and presents the regime's suppression of its own people as a civil war. Corbyn's narrative on Ukraine is a word perfect parroting of the Kremlin line. Ukraine's uprising against the criminal regime of Yanukovych is presented as a western coup.

The organisation is dominated by Stalinists such as Andrew Murray of Unite the Union and Seumas Milne. Murray, who is currently Vice Chair of STWUK, is a regular participant in meetings of propaganda proxy Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine. SARU limits its Ukrainian contacts to Russian proxies such as the Stalinist fringe party Borotba or Russia's Fascist paramilitary forces. The wider Ukrainian left which supported the revolution is excluded. Milne has accepted payment for working at Putin's Valdai Club but claims that this in no way affects his independence while relentlessly following Russia's line on Ukraine. The Green Party condemned the assault on the Maidan in February 2014. However, recently it has been a participant in an STWUK linked event which was dominated by the party line on Ukraine. Like their American cousins they are arguing that the agressor should be appeased. Their stance smacks of the unconscious imperialism of many anglophone leftists on Ukraine. The colony is to be butchered with the agreement of the imperialist powers. The party and Unite the Union were instrumental in establishing Corbyn's other project the People's Assembly. They share many of Corbyn's policies and would undoubtedly support his Russocentric approach in government.

So the Green Party is linked to organisations which adopt a line favourable to Russia and where people actually on Russia's payroll play a prominent role. A key figure in the green movement Oliver Tickell appear on a channel which promotes Gazprom's interests and climate change denial. Putin's regime benefits because it has an interest in deterring fracking in the west. The more gas the west extracts by fracking the less dependent it will be on Gazprom. The anti-fracking movement may well be correct that the dangers of extracting gas in this manner outweigh the benefits. However, the influx of money into their coffers from sources such as Rosneft destroys absolutely their credibility. Similarly Tickell's appearance on Russia Today renders him a tainted figure. His statement that the annexation of Crimea was backed by "overwhelming support in a referendum which reflected the popular will"  is risibly inaccurate. Even the Russian President's Human Rights Council found that the referendum was deeply flawed. Russia's supposed international observers who validated the referendum were comprised largely of Stalinists and Nazis. Curiously in his journalism on Ukraine Tickell does not address the expansion of Russian fossil fuel extraction into sensitive areas of Siberia. Equally he does not note that Russia may well be interested in the considerable shale gas reserves in East Ukraine. In short the pieces are the crudest iterations of Russian propaganda and curiously lacking in any attempt to address the environmental aspects of Russia's invasion.

In 2013 Ukrainians rebelled against a tyrant who looted the country on a grand scale. The country is facing a war and harsh austerity measures in connection with the need to maintain international credit lines and service its debts. The Ukrainian people should enjoy the sympathy of the UK left and the green movement. However, largely as the result of well paid agents of influence, the left and the green movement have largely become the propaganda mouthpiece of Putin. They are championing a nuclear armed aggressor against a state which voluntarily surrendered its nuclear weapons. They have chosen to support an empire against its victim colony, a cabal of oligarchs against a people overthrowing a kleptocracy. In his speech to the Russian court which fraudulently sentenced him Oleg Sentsov the Ukrainian film director said that “the greatest sin is cowardice”. Will Corbyn, the Green Party, the Sainsbury family charities, STWUK, the People's Assembly and the Resurgence Trust have the courage to disentangle themselves from Putin's machine?

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