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Ban Ki-moon Met Tyahnybok of Svoboda, UN Won't Say If Ban Knew in Advance

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 24 -- The day after the UN confirmed to Inner City Press that in Kyiv UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met with controversial Svoboda Party leader Oleh Tyahnybok, Ban's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq refused to say if Ban knew in advance that Tyahnybok would be present.  Video here.

   Tyahnybok, the leader of All-Ukrainian Union 'Svoboda,' has repeatedly been quoted that the country was led by a "Moscow-Jewish mafia." In the last week, parliamentarians from his party beat up a television news executive to make him resign. (Dujarric on March 21 told Inner City Press neither he nor, he thought, Ban had watched this widely available video.)

   Did Ban know in advance that Tyahnybok would be present? What would Ban Ki-moon as UN Secretary General have to say to Svoboda's Tyahnybok, he of the "Moscow-Jewish mafia"? Dujarric's e-mail to Inner City Press does not say. 

  So Inner City Press went to the March 24 UN noon briefing and asked Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq, transcript here:

Inner City Press: ...the Secretary-General, among the parliamentarians he met with, was the head of the Svoboda party, Oleh Tyahnybok. But, I wanted to know, I saw that he mentioned in the readout some discussion of, you know, dialogue, sort of. I wanted you to address the following: Mr. Tyahnybok has been quoted in the past as saying that Ukraine was run by a, quote, Moscow Jewish Mafia. And more recently the Svoboda party filmed itself beating up TV news executives and put the video online. So, many people see them as an extremist, and I wonder, does the Secretary-General have any… what can we read into this meeting? Was he given the list in advance? Does he with that he hadn’t met with them? Was he happy to have met with them? What can you say about this?

Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq: I wouldn’t have anything to add to the information that we provided over the weekend. Basically, as we pointed out, the Secretary-General met with a list of people. We are capable of proving that list to those of you who are interested. But this was a general meeting with a wide range of interlocutors. We don’t have anything further beyond, like I said, what we’ve already provided.

Inner City Press: Did he know who he was going to be meeting with in advance? That’s one question that I wanted to know? Did he know? That’s a factual question.

Deputy Spokesperson Haq: The phrase “I don’t have anything to what I’ve said” is exactly what it is. I have nothing to add.

    Asking what Ban knew, and when he knew it, is not a request for an opinion: it is a simple factual question one might assume the UN would answer.

  Inner City Press on March 21 asked Dujarric, video here

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about sanctions. I know that in his opening remarks, the Secretary-General talked about provocative actions and counter-reactions and obviously there have been, the US announced sanctions on a slew of individuals and one bank, and another bank, SMP, has been cut off from the Visa and Mastercard system. Russia has its own sanctions. Was this discussed, was this discussed while he was in Moscow? Does the Secretary-General think that sanctions should be done through the UN? And will he meet with representatives of the Svoboda party while he’s there, if they were to request it?

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric: There was a — I will share with you as soon as I get it — the list of party leaders that attended the meeting with the Secretary-General. So we will see who exactly was there and, you know, I’m not going to get into detailed reactions to sanctions and counter-sanctions and so forth. But what I will say is that, you know, everybody needs to kind of focus on finding a peaceful, diplomatic solution and lowering the tensions.

Inner City Press: Has he or you seen the video of the Svoboda party MPs beating up the television executive?

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric: I have not and I doubt that he has.

  But more than 50 hours later, the "list of party members" who met with Ban had still not been provided or shared, nor was an explanation provided. Inner City Press asked, what should one infer from that?

  Then on the evening of Sunday, March 23 at 6:50 pm in New York, hours later in The Hague, Dujarric sent Inner City Press this e-mail:

From: Stephane Dujarric [at]
Date: Sun, Mar 23, 2014 at 6:53 PM
Subject: Re: Press Qs A/RES/67/255, still Media Alert, Reed & Roed Larsen, thank you in advance
To: Matthew R. Lee [at]
Cc: FUNCA [at]


I think you had a question about the parliamentarians the SG met.

During his time in Kyiv the Secretary-General had a number of meetings with senior leaders, including the Acting President, the Prime Minister and the Acting Defence Minister.

Right after his meeting with the Acting President met with Caucus leaders of the Rada, representing some of the major parties. They included:

· Oleksander Doniy of the Sovreign European Ukraine Group

· Anatoliy Kinakh, head of the Parliamentary Group

· Adam Martyniuk, Deputy head of the Communist faction

· Viktor Pynzenyk, Vitaliy Klytchko Party “UDAR”

· Sergit Sobolev, Acting Head of the Parliamentary Faction of the All-Ukraine Union Batkivshcyna

· Oleh Tyahnybok, Leader of All-Ukrainian Union “Svoboda”

In his meeting he reiterated his message for the need to find a peaceful diplomatic solution to the current crisis and for the need for Moscow and Kyiv. Moreover, he put a special emphasis on the need for Ukrainian politicians to engage in an inclusive political dialogue. He called for an end to inflammatory rhetoric that can lead to further tensions and possible miscalculations, as well as dangerous counter-reactions. Intimidation by radical elements has to be firmly prevented, he added. He told the parliamentarians counted on all parties in Ukraine to ensure that this is the case.



  While there's more to be said of Ban's other interlocutors, Svoboda's Tyannybok stands out.  Did Ban have any input into with whom he met?

   Also on March 21, on the new US sanctions on Russia described on March 20 by four Senior Administration Officials, including on Bank Rossiya, Dujarric had no comment when Inner City Press was able to ask him.

  Notably a bank NOT on the US sanctions list, SMP Bank, has been cut off from payments services by Visa and MasterCard. Apparently Visa and MasterCard are part of US foreign policy

  On March 20, another US Senior Administration Official spoke of restrictions on goods from Ukraine and said this might violate Russia's World Trade Organization obligations. But what about the unilateral sanctions?

  The US said it wants the International Monetary Fund to move fast, and during the background call the IMF put out a press release, that its review is going well and its mission will wrap up on March 25.

   On March 19 after US Ambassador Samantha Power said Russia's Vitaly Churkin was creative like Tolstoy or Chekhov, Churkin asked for a right of reply or additional statement at the end of the March 19 UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine.

   Churkin said that from these two literary references, Power has stooped to tabloids, and that this should change if the US expected Russian cooperation. The reference, it seemed, was to Syria and Iran, and other UN issues.

   One wanted to explore this at the stakeout, but neither Power nor Churkin spoke there. In fact, no one did: even Ukraine's Yuriy Sergeyev left, down the long hallways with his leather coat and spokesperson. One wondered why.

   There were many questions to ask. Why did Ivan Simonovic's UN human rights report not mention the Svoboda Party MPs beating up the head of Ukrainian national television?  Will France, despite its Gerard Araud's speech, continue selling Mistral warships to Russia? What of France's role in the earlier referendum splitting Mayotte from the Comoros Islands?

  Araud exchanged a few words with those media he answers to while on the stairs, then left. The UK's Mark Lyall Grant spoke longer, but still left. Why didn't Simonovic at least come and answer questions? Perhaps he will, later this week, including on Svoboda.

   It's worth remembering Moscow's anger at who called Ban's tune on Kosovo. What will be different now? After Russia, Ban will head to Kyiv to meet Yatsenyuk and the UN human rights monitors.

  It was at 6:20 am in New York when BBC said that "UN Moscow office confirm that Ban Ki Moon coming to Moscow tomorrow. Will meet Putin and Lavrov."

  But no announcement by Ban's Office of the Spokesperson, which has repeatedly refused to confirm Ban trips even when the country visited has already disclosed it.

  And so the Free UN Coalition for Access wrote to Ban's new spokesperson Stephane Dujarric:

"Will you confirm what BBC says UN Moscow told it, that the Secretary General is traveling to Russia tomorrow to meet President Putin and FM Lavrov -- and is so, can you explain why and how this UN news was distributed in that way first, and not through your office, to all correspondents at once? The latter part of the question is on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access as well."

   Forty five minutes later, after a mass e-mail, Dujarric replied:

"Matthew, The official announcement was just made. The UN office in moscow did not announce anything before we did. I did see some leaked reports this morning from various sources but nothing is official until it's announced by this office."

  But it wasn't a "leaked report" -- BBC said that UN Moscow had CONFIRMED it. We'll have more on this. For now it's worth reviewing Ban Ki-moon's response to Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008...

   The day after the Crimea referendum, the US White House announced new sanctions and Russia said Ukraine should adopt a federal constitution.

   Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Stephane Dujarric for Ban's or the UN's comment on either, if Ban thinks sanctions should ideally be imposed through the UN and not unilaterally, and if this might lead to a tit for tat.

  Dujarric said Ban's focus is on encouraging the parties to "not add tensions;" on Russia's federal constitution proposal he said the UN is "not going to get into judging every step."  Video here.

  With Serry gone from Crimea and Simonovic called unbalanced by Russia, what is the UN's role? Is it UNrelevant?

   While in Washington, Yatsenyuk said he knows the International Monetary Fund program is "not the sweet candy." Inner City Press covers the IMF and can only say: ask Greece.

  Here is video of the IMF's March 13 briefing, see Minutes 12:05 and 31:12.

  Asked about allowing any referendum in Crimea, Yatsenyuk said the legislature in Kyiv would have to permit it; he said there could be dialogue about increased autonomy from Crimea, on taxes and language rights.

  He was asked about Jihadis going to Crimea and he answered about the Tatars. He bragged that a deputy prime minister in the new government "represents the Jewish community."  But what about Right Sector?

  The US State Department announced for example that the Department of Defense will be giving Meals Ready to Eat or MREs to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

   Over on Capitol Hill, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee marked-up the "Support for the Sovereignty, Integrity, Democracy, and Economic Stability of Ukraine Act of 2014."

  Absent on jury duty, Senator Marco Rubio had a proposed amendment about the G8 and not invading your neighbor read out; it was agreed to.

  Senator Rand Paul proposed an amendment to remove loan guarantees and the International Monetary Fund from the bill. He said the loans would go to back Russia back and noted that the proposed IMF reforms would raise Russia's power in the IMF from 2.5% to 2.71%

  Senator Bob Menendez replied that the IMF wouldn't give a dime unlesss Ukraine commits to changes. Can you say, austerity? Watch this site.


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