Stephen Colbert on the mass riots in Ukraine

Stephen Colbert has a humorous take on the very serious riots rocking Ukraine.


The Independent has a really nice write-up, walking you through what’s going on and why:

In November President Viktor Yanukovych decided to pull out of a treaty with EU, an agreement many felt would have paved the way for the Ukraine to join the union. It looked like he was going to sign the agreement before performing a U-turn, which has made Ukrainian disappointment all the sharper. However the government would rather stay friendly with Putin in return for favourable treatment. The protesters think it would benefit ordinary people far more to be aligned with the EU and consider Yanukovych a man who only represents the interests of the richest.

Most recently tensions spilled over in violence after Yanukovych introduced new anti-protest laws designed to end the demonstrations. The laws banned protests from taking place without the government’s permission and threatened those who disobeyed with up to ten years in prison. The legislation also introduced hefty fines for wearing masks or helmets to demonstrations, as well as driving bans for convoys of more than five cars. Internet media outlets have to register with authorities and no amplifiers are allowed in public places. Many people feel the government is trying to repress the truth and remove their rights. This protest is now more than a pro-EU movement, it is fuelled by anti-government feeling, with many activists seeing their cause as a fight against corruption. Demonstrators are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister and Interior Minister, and also the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych.

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CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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18 Responses to “Stephen Colbert on the mass riots in Ukraine”

  1. TK says:

    Quiet a change from a perspective political journalist to cheap clown.

    Why don’t you laugh at Oprah’s show episodes about civil right movements in the

    Is in it super funny when people are killed and burned alive?

    People like you to give the rest of the world wrong impression about Americans.

    We are not as ignorant and arrogant as you are. Our hearts and thought with those
    who had fought atrocities and the families of fallen.

    As for one who they had put in the public view for amusements, your network should apologize for
    such tasteless episode.

  2. Vital Babenko says:

    Look at Video from Kiev, please:

  3. mirror says:

    I thought of your post when I was in the car this morning and heard a piece on a young Egyptian democracy activist lamenting that after all their sacrifice, he said, “We were just pawns,” in a struggle between “the military and the state.”

    When rival gangster organizations fight over control of your city, it seems a little mean to laugh at the futile efforts of the citizens to seek some other outcome.

  4. mirror says:

    I guess they had an editorial meeting and decided the people who needed to be made fun of where the demonstrators. Sure, it satirizes “news shows”, but it does so using the technique of suggesting that the subject of the news shows deserve more ridicule than they have been getting. I got the feeling there were just jokes there they thought were easy, so they made them. I get that they have to crank out a show a day.

  5. Bill_Perdue says:

    Ukrainian leaders rejected the deal with the EU because it was tied to a predatory loan which would put them in the same position as the Greeks. The EU demanded currency devaluation, government austerity, the freezing of wages, and a rise in oil and natural gas prices. It was unacceptable to the Ukrainian government which showed more backbone than the right wing Greek government.

    The initial protests were small but widespread and extreme police brutality fueled
    them and they drew in large numbers of working class Ukrainians people affected
    by the terrible economic situation created by the collapse of the USSR and the
    brutality of the current regime, a holdover of Soviet era Stalinism.

    The hesitancy of most Ukranians to a closer union with Russia is the reaction to what early Bolsheviks called Russian chauvinism. (1) Stalin opposed self-determination for Ukrainians and other nations and imposed a harsh dictatorial rule on the Ukraine. Ukrainians suffered greatly from Stalins’ genocidal policy that included the Holodomor (2) famine which killed millions. It explains the initial Ukrainian response to the entry of Nazi invaders in 1941. They quickly changed their minds when the Nazis began exterminating them just as they did all Slavic peoples.

    The current protests bear the political imprint of criminals like oil and gas billionaire Evgenia Tymoshenko, far-right groups, patriarchs of the Orthodox church, and Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Svodoba (Freedom) Party. John McCain, scumbag Republican, told the Ukrainian rightists that “We are here to support your just cause, the sovereign right of Ukraine to determine its own destiny freely and independently.” (3)

    Neither the EU or Russia, the current Ukrainian government or the right wing leaders of the protests represent the interests of workers in the Ukraine. They need to create their own political party, just as we do in this country.

    (Based on material from Socialist Action and Wiki


    (2) The Holodomor (Ukrainian: Голодомор, “Extermination by hunger”… or “Killing by Starvation”) was a man-made famine in the Ukrainian SSR in 1932 and 1933. … During the famine millions of citizens of Ukrainian SSR, the majority of whom were Ukrainians, died of starvation… Since 2006, the Holodomor has been recognized by Ukraine and several other countries as a genocide of the Ukrainian people.”


  6. FLL says:

    Colbert’s routine is satire, of course, so he veers toward silliness for laughs. He’s a talented comedian. Underneath the satire is the memory of Stalin’s mass murder of millions of Ukrainian peasants by starvation during the 1930s. If the folks in the Kremlin believe that they will whip the Ukrainian people in line, they’re dreaming. Such a foolhardy attempt would only end badly for Russia. Ukrainians clearly want to join the rest of Europe. Piss off, Putin sweetie.

  7. Indigo says:

    That’s my impression from what I’ve read and seen in the news media. I’m not persuaded that Colbert’s satire was appropriate. Funny, yes. Appropriate, doubtful.

  8. mirror says:

    “It’s satire” isn’t an excuse for everything. I think this piece really downplays how much worse this can all get and goes too far in suggesting it has nothing to do with us. The drinking joke is cute, but it is misleading satire to suggest the events there are equivalent to pointless rioting by purposeless drunk college kids whose main interest is an excuse to throw shit (ie make catapults).

    On the other hand, I guess it could serve the useful function of alerting people that there is something going on over there.

    The corruption in Ukraine is so ripe for real satire, that this piece seems really lazy to me. Also, the bit about the head protection could at least have mentioned that the legislature has passed a law forbidding the wearing of protective headgear on the street.

    They appear to have done little more than look at video footage and stills, and read the captions and headlines.

    Maybe it is just an inherently difficult situation to engage in successful comedy about, but if I knew someone risking their life, or actually being harmed, demonstrating for a future with a society better than the kind of dictatorial oligarchy that folks here in Americablog complain exists in Russia I’d be offended too at the lack of effort and context.

    Would it be funny if Colbert made jokes about the new hairstyles of young gays as shown in the criminal videos put out by Putin’s attack dogs. Would “It’s satire” excuse that and make it ok to laugh at?

    I’m guessing he’ll get more feedback than that of lost souls in the Americablog comments section below. I hope Colbert and his writers can learn and do better.

    That said, the colander bit is pretty funny, but it could have been both funnier and more pointed, with a tiny bit of effort.

  9. Russ says:

    Do most people “get” Colbert? It’s a satire of conservative opinion-television. Ok, it’s pronounced “Col-bear re-pour” sounds almost ethnic. Kind of like, uhm say, O’Reilly Factor?! Then watch this piece – he has an opinion about something, yet he proclaims throughout that he doesn’t know anything about it and doesn’t care enough to learn anything about it. Absolutely brilliant! So, don’t be pissed at Colbert, never forget that his entire show is satire and It’s right on the mark!

  10. Billy says:

    Colbert, stupid piece of shit!

  11. Ukrainian says:

    He is fucking dickhead!

  12. NU Alumnus says:

    It’s not funny as people are dying. Colbert’s family escaped from the Irish Famine, many Ukrainians didn’t escaped the Holodomor where 8 million people were starved to death by the the Soviet regime. Add two world wars, Afgan troops sent from Ukraine and you have a population that’s been beaten. I hope Steve thinks it’s funny that the Berkut Troops of Yanokovych are now burning the bodies of many of the protesters to destroy evidence. Steve, lot’s of laughs and hoping this makes you feel better that you made fun of people in misery.

  13. mirror says:

    [I accidentally erased a more well written post while trying to sign in to post it] The brazen level of mafia-like thuggish corruption is quite startling. I was particularly amazed by how much President Yanukovych has been able to enrich his family by hundreds of millions of dollars more since coming to power most recently in 2010. Here the Koch brothers have to back politicians and media to do their work for them. It’s as if one of the Koch brothers here became president and used the enforcement and regulatory arm of the executive office to force other business people to sell out to them at cheap prices, thereby tripling their family worth. There is a mix of power struggle among the elites and struggle by the citizenry for a more lawful, just, democratic future.

  14. Indigo says:

    If there’s a serious issue in those riots, it got lost in Colbert’s satire.

  15. cole3244 says:

    i’m trying to figure who should be pres & vp, jon or stephen, oh the confusion of it all.

  16. APlack1960 says:

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  17. BeccaM says:

    So the protesters are Pastafarians?

  18. mirror says:

    I don’t think “riots” is the most accurate word for what is happening there right now, even if Colbert chooses to use it.

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