Prytulak   InfoUkes Posting   17-Oct-1997   The Plundering of Ukraine (a preliminary overview)
Date:  Fri, 17 Oct 1997 12:26:37 -0700
To:  politics@infoukes.com
From:  Lubomyr Prytulak
Subject:  The Plundering of Ukraine (a preliminary overview)

INTRODUCTORY COMMENT.  The topic of the plundering of Ukraine is one that I think to be of central importance.  I have accumulated some material on the topic, and one reason that I have not posted it before now is that I have too much material, and have not had the time to organize it.  Below is my very quick and incomplete statement on the subject better to get the main points out for consideration and discussion now when they still might do some good, rather than waiting who knows how long before I can do a more thorough job but by which time it may be too late.

IDEOLOGY.  In the inscription on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, "Mother of Exiles," from whose beacon-hand "glows world-wide welcome" are the words:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me....

REALITY.  In fact, however, if you are tired, poor, homeless, tempest-tost, or a member of any huddled mass or of any wretched refuse, you don't stand much chance of getting into the US.  The US has put up high chain-link fences, and uses soldiers peering through infra-red binoculars and swooping down in helicopters equipped with powerful searchlights to intercept just such wretched refuse from its own teeming shores.

The words on the Statue of Liberty are a demonstration that a country's slogans and ideology can be patently in contradiction of its practices, and yet the slogans or ideology can be repeated and treasured and displayed as if they carried significance.  It might even be the case that the ideological words most often repeated are the ones that are at greatest variance with reality.  The best example of this might be that any country which includes "Democratic" in its name can be depended upon to not be democratic.

If the Statue of Liberty were inscribed with words that reflected practice, then they would read something more like this:

Give me your mathematicians, your scientists,
Your huddled engineers yearning to own VCRs,
Your Olympic-gold-medal figure skaters
Wretched because they don't own condos.
Send these, the money-makers, by commercial airline to me....

THE PLUNDERING OF UKRAINE.  A May 20/97 posting by Borys Tovstiuk to ANNOUNCE is an article by Raisa Stetsyura, Kiev, May 16 (Itar-Tass), from which I quote only the first sentence:  "Some 5,000 leading scientists have left Ukraine in the past five years, sources at the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences told Itar-Tass."

Five thousand leading scientists!  What difference to a country might five thousand leading scientist make?

Imagine for a moment if the top dozen people that are responsible for American dominance in computers were induced to move to Ukraine (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, whoever) what difference would this make to Ukraine's ability to compete in the field of computers?  Perhaps a very big difference.  But suppose it was not just the top dozen, but the top hundred.  I venture to predict that if President Kuchma were able to lure the top hundred giants of the computer industry from the United States to Ukraine, that Ukraine would become a world power in the computer industry, and that it would stand some chance of becoming the world's leading exporter of computers and of software.  And what if President Kuchma were able to lure not just the top hundred, but the top thousand?  Is there any doubt that Ukraine would very quickly achieve world dominance in computers?

My point is that economic success in any field depends on the small number of people at the top.  The masses of citizens do not lead, they do not innovate, they follow.  Success depends on the leaders, and success may hinge on a mere handful of leaders.

But to return now to the five thousand leading scientists that Ukraine had lost up to May 1997, one might speculate that these five thousand could have made the difference between Ukraine having a computer industry, or an electronics industry, or an aviation industry, and not having one.  Five thousand leading scientists can make the difference between Ukraine accumulating international patents and charging the world for the use of its discoveries and inventions, or paying other nations for the use of their discoveries and inventions.  Five thousand leading scientists can make the difference between foreign students flocking to Ukraine to earn their doctorates, or to do post-docs, or fleeing Ukraine to do the same, many never to return.  Five thousand leading scientists can make the difference between Ukraine receiving recognition for its intellectual power, or receiving sympathy for its intellectual backwardness.  Five thousand leading scientists is a stunning loss for Ukraine, and a stunning gain for the countries that acquire them.

TALENT DRAIN.  The plundering of Ukraine consists not only of the plundering of material wealth and of brains, but also of talent.  Oksana Baiul, and Victor Petrenko, though still often identified as Ukrainian, now live and work in the United States, to the benefit of the United States.  Irina Dvorovenko rose to the rank of principal dancer in the National Opera and Ballet Theater of Kyiv in 1992, but is now soloist with the American Ballet Theater.  This is a long list, and I do not have time to elaborate it here.  Here is one quotation which acknowledges the phenomenon:

Roman Terleckyj, a director with the Washington Opera since 1982,  who recently returned from visiting the Kyyiv and Odessa operas, said  both have "fantastic" singers. He was apprehensive, however, that because of the financial situation they might be lost to Western opera companies, which, in addition to vastly higher pay, can offer these singers the good teachers and the training they need to advance.  (reference temporarily misplaced)

And so in the realm of talent too, the loss to Ukraine is incalculable had they remained in Ukraine, these wonderful talents could be enhancing Ukraine's prestige, attracting tourist dollars, inspiring and training the next generation of performers, and paying the Ukrainian taxman rather than the American from the profits on their line of perfumes, or whatever but instead they have been lost to Ukraine, possibly forever.

GIRL PLUNDER.  Another object of plundering is Ukraine's girls.  I have heard one Kyivan say that Ukraine's girls are the principal reason for the Tatar slave raids.  Having seen these girls, I can believe it.  So history repeats itself.  We now have stories of Ukrainian girls lured outside Ukraine with promises of jobs, and then forced into prostitution.  I don't have time to quote and to elaborate.

ONLY FIVE THOUSAND?  What are some figures on the number of people that have been lured by the West into leaving Ukraine?  A have come across many references to these numbers, and the statistics are difficult to summarize for several reasons.  Specifically, the estimates (1) were made at different times, (2) cover different time intervals, (3) apply to all of Ukraine, or only some regions of Ukraine, (4) were issued by different agencies, or (5) depend on different definitions.  Out of the many references that I have found, I reproduce three below.  What the figures show is a gigantic and staggering loss to Ukraine.  In one case below, I include data that applies to Russia on the assumption that anything happening in Russia is likely to be happening on a proportional scale in Ukraine.  It is important to note the date of each statement below, as earlier dates will report lower figures I present these three quotations in chronological order:

Ukrainian Jewish Exodus to Israel

In 1990, according to an interesting article by Avishi Margalit ("The Great White Hope," New York Review of Books, (June 27, 1991), pp. 19-24) some 59,000 Jews immigrated from Ukraine to Israel as part of the expected exodus of one million in the next five years from the USSR.  A few years ago Ukraine had a Jewish population of 750,000.

Although the immigrants from the USSR are usually called "Russian immigrants" today they actually are coming from Ukraine.  Compared to the 59,000 Ukrainian Jews (including 12,000 from the capital city Kiev), some 45,000 came from Russia (15,000 from Leningrad and 10,000 from Moscow), 23,000 from Byelorussia and 26,000 from Central Asia, or a total of 153,000 for 1990.

In the Russian Empire, Jews were forced to live in the Pale of Settlement (Ukraine and Byelorussia) and were banned from Russia proper.  This is why the Jewish population of these two countries is so high.

Most Soviet Jews are secular and their cultural background and physical appearance is European (Ashkenazi) rather than "Asiatic," a racist term they use to describe the Sephardic Israelis.  Intermarriage is considerable in the Soviet group so there is also a growing population of Ukrainians and Russians in Israel.

Adding one million Jews to Israel's present 4 million will make a radical change in Israeli life.  During the 1970-80s about 35,000 Jews left the USSR "for Israel" but in fact in the late 1980s about 85 percent actually went to the United States.  The Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has a special agreement with the U.S. government that pays them for all the expenses of every Soviet immigrant who goes to the USA.

Israel receives $3 billion in economic and military aid from the U.S. government every year, more than any other country in the world.  In September it is expected that Israel will ask for $10 billion from the USA to help settle the 200,000 Soviet Jews expected in 1991.  One estimate of the cost of settling these immigrants is $25 billion over the next five years.  (Andrew Gregorovich, Forum, Summer 1991, p. 30)

The steady flow [from Russia] of scientists overseas is keenly felt. Academician Nikolai N. Nikolsky, director of the Institute of Cytology in St. Petersburg, says one fifth of 250 scientists on his staff including many of the most talented are now abroad.  The typical stay is two or three years, although Nikolsky and other directors fear that the best will not return unless conditions improve.  One survey last year counted 3,000 senior Russian scientists working in the U.S.  "The U.S. is becoming home to the most luminous collection of expatriate scholars since World War II," observes Irving A. Lerch, director of international affairs at the American Physical Society.

The brain drain is most evident in institutes that emphasize theoretical work, because theoreticians can take their work anywhere.  At the Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics in Akademgorodok, "we now have difficulties providing lectures in theoretical physics, as most of our theoreticians are in the U.S.," says Veniamin A. Sidorov, the deputy director.

But even institutes that are well equipped by Western standards are losing researchers.  Forty-nine of the 300 scientists at the Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology in Moscow have gone abroad for more than a year according to its director, academician Andrei D. Mirzabekov.  "If we cannot provide facilities and salaries here, most of them will go," he predicts, adding, "I fear there will be nothing for them to come back to."  (Tim Beardsley, Trends in Russian Science: Selling to Survive, Scientific American, February 1993, p. 95)

KYIV According to the latest figures released by Ukraine's Statistics Ministry, 686 Ph.D.s in science quit their jobs with domestic scientific establishments in 1996.  Eighty-three emigrated from Ukraine outright, a 40 percent increase from 1995.  Over half were former employees of the Education Ministry, some 23 worked at the National Academy of Sciences, and 12 percent were medical doctors and researchers.  Favored destinations included Russia, the U.S., Israel and Germany.  (Eastern Economist, in The Ukrainian Weekly, Ukraine's brains still drain, August 17, 1997, p. 18)

BRAIN AND TALENT DRAIN TO ISRAEL.  As we have already begun to see above, the chief beneficiary of Ukraine's loss may be Israel.  Consider, for example, that even as far back as 1961, the Ukrainian manpower contribution to Israel had been substantial:

On June 18, 1961, Israel's President Isaac Ben-Zvi received 150 representatives of Ukrainian Jewry now resident in the Jewish State. Himself born in Ukraine ..., the President was proud to see top Israeli Cabinet Ministers, scientists, poets, writers, educators, statesmen, parliamentary leaders and army generals among the 150 Ukrainian Jews invited to his residence in Jerusalem.

Mr. Ben-Zvi stressed again and again that the contribution of Ukrainian Jewry to Israel's growth and development cannot be over-estimated.  The Ukrainian Jewry, the President declared, was the spearhead of modern Zionism which redeemed the Holy Land from twenty centuries of neglect and oppression, and gave the dispersed and persecuted Jews firm soil under their feet.  (Leo Heiman, Ukrainians and the Jews, in Walter Dushnyck (ed.) Ukrainians and Jews, The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, New York, 1966, p. 55)

And at that same 1961 meeting, already the plans had been made, and were being openly divulged, as to the further plundering of Ukraine:

Today ... Jewish Agency chiefs in Jerusalem estimated that there still are some 900,000 Jews within the present borders of Ukraine.  (Leo Heiman, Ukrainians and the Jews, in Walter Dushnyck (ed.) Ukrainians and Jews, The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, New York, 1966, p. 55)

"Freedom is indivisible," one of the statesmen told me, "we Jews are already free in a land of our own.  We now hope the Ukrainians will soon be free, so that the 900,000 Ukrainian Jews are free to come to Israel."  (Leo Heiman, Ukrainians and the Jews, in Walter Dushnyck (ed.) Ukrainians and Jews, The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, New York, 1966, p. 64)

The above presents a curious vision of what freedom should amount to for an independent Ukraine for Ukraine, it is freedom to lose close to a million of its citizens, of which a disproportionate number would be scientists and engineers and others who are highly educated or unusually gifted and talented.  One wonders if the economic situation in Ukraine begins to improve, and the Jewish Ukrainian scientists and engineers stop leaving Ukraine and begin moving back to Ukraine, if this Jewish speaker who informs us that "freedom is indivisible" will view that return as an expression of "freedom."

But 1961 was a long time ago, and the above 150 prominent Israelis who in 1961 were found to have originated from Ukraine have now been added to somewhat, and the Israeli goal of taking out some 900,000 more is close to realization, or (as the statistic quoted below covers only from 1989 on) may even have been surpassed:

Since 1989, more than seven hundred thousand Jews have arrived in Israel from the former Soviet Union. ...  It is hard to know exactly how many Jews are left in the former Soviet Union, but [Natan] Sharansky says Israel should be prepared to absorb "hundreds of thousands more."  (David Remnick, Letter From Jerusalem: The Afterlife, The New Yorker, August 11, 1997, p. 50)

For the 1996 elections, he [Natan Sharansky] helped create a new political party, Israel B'aliyah, which is, first and foremost, the party of the new Russian immigration. ...  The Party's leaders are Russian.  Its lingua franca is Russian.  Its primary interests are the interests of Russian immigration.  In nearly all its television and radio advertisements, the Party did not even bother to broadcast in Hebrew. ...  His [Sharansky's] Hebrew is, to be charitable, limited in vocabulary and marred by a heavy Russian accent.  His English is better than his Hebrew. ...  When the balloting was over, Sharansky's new party had won seven seats in the parliament and ... got two seats in Netanyahu's Cabinet: Minister of Trade and Industry (Sharansky), and Minister of Absorption (Yuli Edelstein, another former political prisoner and a West Bank settler).  (David Remnick, Letter From Jerusalem: The Afterlife, The New Yorker, August 11, 1997, p. 53)

He [Sharansky] saw his destiny as bringing a million Jews in from the former Soviet Union.  (David Remnick, Letter From Jerusalem: The Afterlife, The New Yorker, August 11, 1997, p. 54)

WHO'S HELPING WHO?  I am going to begin to draw my statement to a close by inviting you to read the following quotation.  The quotation addresses the situation in Russia, and to repeat I include it here because I expect that anything happening in Russia will probably be happening in Ukraine on a proportional scale.  This quotation reinforces many of the things that I have been saying above (though its estimate of the percentage of Russian scientists ending up in Israel is surprisingly low) but it contains a critical sentence which provides us with a blinding flash of insight, and I will emphasize that sentence following the quotation:


( Inter Press Service English News Wire )

MOSCOW, Jun. 5 (IPS) Russia is being robbed of some of its best brains as an increasing number of scientists and researchers yield to the lure of lucrative offers from around the globe.

Migration has robbed Russian research institutions of many high-level personnel over the past five years, according to Yuri Glushchenko, of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who has studied the problem.

Russian science has lost between 70 and 80 per cent of its mathematicians.  And some branches of physics have lost up to 40 per cent of all scientists and researchers, according to Glushchenko.

Those who leave for good mostly go to Western Europe, especially Germany.  North America, Israel and, to a lesser extent, Australia are also favored destinations.  And they have also begun receiving offers from Southeast Asia, South Africa, Latin America, and the Gulf Arab countries.

Europe accounts for 26.4 per cent, the United States 22 per cent, Canada and Australia each for 8.5 per cent, South Africa 5.1 per cent and Israel 1.7 per cent.


The brain drain from science to other sectors has exceeded 30 per cent in the past few years, eroding the country's scientific and technological potential.  It is estimated that the West will be able to employ more than 200,000 leading Russian scientists and specialists, equivalent to $20 billion of Russian aid to other countries.


Another major concern is the extent to which the brain drain is becoming a security risk.

"Spies have no work now," Professor Valentin Smirnov, head of the Novator design laboratory, which develops advanced weapons systems.  "We have lost at least 12 people.  National security no longer seems to be a reason to prevent anyone from leaving.

"We had a section head who had worked on a missile control system.  Millions of rubles were spent on the project.  It was finally completed and ...

Andrei Ivanov, RUSSIA: BRAIN DRAIN IN SCIENCE CAUSES CONSIDERABLE STRAIN, Inter Press Service English News Wire, 06-06-1996.

COMPENSATION.  So here's that blinding flash of insight that I promised you the above quotation states that "It is estimated that the West will be able to employ more than 200,000 leading Russian scientists and specialists, EQUIVALENT TO $20 BILLION OF RUSSIAN AID TO OTHER COUNTRIES."

The insight is that even while the affluent West portrays itself as helping the impoverished Slavic world, in fact it is plundering the Slavic world.  Russia alone, in this estimate, is supplying the West with the equivalent of $20 billion in aid.  This is not a loan from Russia to the West that will need to be repaid, this is an outright gift, no strings attached.  Has the affluent West reciprocated by giving Russia an outright gift of $20 billion?  I wonder.  Thus, if one looks underneath the surface, underneath the public relations if one merely counts what is going in to Russian and Ukraine, and what is coming back out, one arrives at the conclusion that Russia and Ukraine are being plundered, are giving what wealth they have to a West that is already so wealthy as to deserve to be thought of as decadently wealthy.  The West is doing so under the patently misleading and manipulative ideology embodied in the Statue of Liberty that I spoke of above at the very beginning of my statement.

So what's the alternative?  If the ideology of a free theft of brains, beauty, and talent is not to be challenged, is anything to be done at all?  I propose as a first step simply that everyone begin to call things by their right names and from that alone, I expect, other changes will follow.  The correct name for what is happening to Russian and Ukraine is that they are being plundered.  While the West is destroying them, it also sets them to petty squabbles between themselves concerning such utterly inconsequential issues as to who owns the rust-buckets moored in Sevastopol harbor this while the West bleeds Russia of some $20 billion in intellectual assets, and Ukraine of some proportional amount.  Let us start, then, by acknowledging that in net, the West is not aiding Russia and Ukraine, but plundering them; and that Russia and Ukraine are in fact sending aid to a West that is so wealthy that it does not need it.

In addition, the flow of human resources is not spontaneous, it is engineered.  Large amounts of money are offered to attractive people to induce them to emigrate.  And when this is found to still be insufficient, attempts are made using disinformation concerning anti-Semitism and imminent pogroms to terrify them into fleeing.  These things too must be acknowledged and spoken of openly.

Once this change in our speech takes place, then I predict that other things will follow.  If Ukraine has lost some 5,000 LEADING scientists to the West, then there might kick in another piece of ideology that is also widely shared in the West that of fair compensation.  Why has the West not to help Ukraine, but merely to avoid plundering it not sent Ukraine in return some 5,000 LEADING experts of the sort that Ukraine is most in need of at the moment say 5,000 LEADING experts in banking, finance, economics, law, journalism?  Wouldn't that be fair?  Wouldn't that be simply returning one favor with an equal favor?  Or, if Israel wants to help Russia and Ukraine as much as it is being helped by them, then should it not be sending many hundreds of thousands of scientists and engineers and musicians to Russia and Ukraine so as to nourish the brains and talent that are still there?

Ukraine and Russia do not need help.  They need to stop being plundered.  They need to have returned to them what has been stolen from them, or the equivalent.  Ukraine's orientation to the West should be, "Keep your help!  Just stop stealing from us!"  There is an English aphorism that applies to what the West is doing it is to "Steal the pig and give the feet for alms."

Lubomyr Prytulak