For the all-important national anthem, the breakaway republics favour old favourites such as the Soviet ‘Vstavai, strana ogromnaya!’ (‘Arise, vast country!’), but the Donetsk People’s Republic now has its very own (albeit still unofficial) anthem – ‘Arise, Donbas’ (original and covered) – courtesy of Donetsk punk rock band Den Triffidov (Day of the Triffids).
Maxim Edwards openDemocracy | 9 June 2014
SLOVYANSK, Ukraine — When Denis Bigunov, a civil servant, recently returned to work after a long break, he found three prisoner’s hoods wrapped in masking tape stashed in his office at City Hall, sinister mementos left behind by the pro-Russian rebels who controlled this eastern Ukrainian city for nearly three months.
He donated the hoods to the local history museum “to remind people what really happened” here after masked gunmen seized control on April 12 and, cheered on initially by many residents, began a brutal drive to create a new order rooted in fanatical loyalty to Russia.
With the city now back in government hands and the Ukrainian military advancing steadily against other nearby settlements that had fallen earlier this year to the pro-Russian cause, Slovyansk has become a test of whether the central government in Kiev can both win on the battlefield and win back the loyalties of its rebellious east.
“We can’t just liberate these places by force of arms but need to change people’s thinking,” said Anton Gerashenko, an Interior Ministry official from Kiev who visited Slovyansk last week. He came to preside over the exhumation of corpses from a mass grave that he said had been left behind by the rebels before they fled south on July 5 to the city of Donetsk, which is still held by separatists.
After a day of digging, workers equipped with a bulldozer and shovels unearthed 14 decomposing bodies, each wrapped in a flimsy white shroud.
As it struggles to secure the consent, if not yet the trust, of Slovyansk’s largely ethnic Russian population, Ukraine has found that its best weapon has been provided by the rebels themselves — a legacy of violent thuggery and chaos that alienated just about everyone.
“It was a horror, a total horror,” said Arkady Glushenko, the chief surgeon at the Lenin Hospital, the city’s biggest. “Nobody wants a repeat of that.”
Another powerful tool in the hands of the Ukrainian authorities is the fear many residents have of retribution for their collaboration with the toppled pro-Russian leadership.
The new authorities, promising anonymity, have set up a hotline for residents to inform on rebel collaborators, and they have printed fliers warning that a new law mandates up to 15 years in jail for separatism. “Of course people are afraid,” Dr. Glushenko said. “They are frightened of being punished.”
Although a firm believer that Ukraine must stay united, and proud of his two sons in the Ukrainian military, the surgeon warned that vengeance against collaborators must be kept in check. He said he had stayed in Slovyansk throughout the period of separatist control and had often treated wounded rebels, not because he wanted to but because he had to. “You don’t argue with a Kalashnikov,” he said.
When the rebels first seized Slovyansk in April, they hoisted Russian flags, arrested the elected mayor, hunted down traitors and proclaimed the city a “great symbol of the struggle for human dignity.” Thousands of residents thronged a large square in front of City Hall to welcome the pro-Russian putsch, chanting “Russia, Russia” and posing for photographs with gunmen they hailed as their saviors from the fascists who had seized power in Kiev with the February ouster of President Victor F. Yanukovych, a Russian-speaker from Donetsk.
After pro-Russian gunmen fled as the Ukrainian military advanced, many of the same people rushed into the same square to greet Ukrainian military trucks as soldiers handed out free food. Virtually nobody now admits to having supported the separatists.
“They are happy to welcome whoever gives them food,” said Konstantin Batozsky, an aide to the Kiev-appointed governor of the Donetsk region, which includes Slovyansk.
The Ukrainian authorities have restored electricity, water, salaries to municipal workers and pension payments to the older Ukrainians, who now make up around half the city’s shrunken population of roughly 80,000, around two-thirds the number who lived here before the rebels took control.
They have also flooded the city with troops, some of them poorly trained irregulars, and strengthened the local police force — its loyalty somewhat suspect — with officers from western regions of Ukraine where anti-Russian sentiment is strong.
Ukraine has been helped in an odd way by Russia, whose tightly controlled news media has issued a series of hair-raising stories alleging Ukrainian atrocities that have made locals only more wary of bucking the new authorities. LifeNews, a Russian television channel, broadcast a report titled “Witch Hunting,” saying that Slovyansk was being turned into a huge prison camp like Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where the United States detains terrorists. Channel One, in a particularly gruesome piece of propaganda, reported that Ukrainian troops had crucified a 3-year-old boy in front of his mother in the central square.
Even locals who detest the Ukrainian government in Kiev, the capital, dismiss the crucifixion story as a grotesque lie. Until the Russian TV report, nobody here had ever heard of any such incident.
True or not, Russian propaganda has helped halt open resistance to the new Ukrainian order. Residents who actively supported the rebels have nearly all fled.
“You would have to be an idiot to stay here,” Lybova Nazarayeva, the director of an orphanage that suffered heavy damage when Ukrainian forces began shelling a rebel base next door, said of the pro-Russian residents. “You would only get killed or arrested. They all left for Donetsk.”
Loudspeakers atop City Hall, used by the rebels to play Soviet-era martial music, now blast Ukrainian state radio. Big posters have gone up across the city proclaiming that “Slovyansk is Ukraine.”
But long-closed Soviet-era factories that once dominated the local economy are still rotting away and many other businesses have shut, their premises scarred by shrapnel and bullets. There is no mood of joyous celebration at what Ukrainian officials trumpet as the city’s “liberation.”
Anger and animosity bubbles just below the calm surface. In each workplace, everyone knows who did what during rebel rule, creating poisonous currents of suspicion.
Nikolai Mishkin, a technician at a communal heating plant here, said his boss had worked zealously with the rebels, even inviting them to store their armor in the plant’s courtyard and climb its brick chimney to scout Ukrainian military positions. “He was very aggressive in his enthusiasm,” Mr. Mishkin said, adding that he had not seen his boss since Ukraine’s forces arrived.
Local residents who suffered under rebel rule complain that Ukrainian authorities have not done enough to punish residents who sided with the separatists. A group of local pro-Ukrainian activists gathered outside City Hall last week to demand a thorough purge of all officials who collaborated with the rebels.
The only prominent figure who is known to have been arrested so far by the Ukrainians is Nelly Schtepa, the former mayor, who initially supported the pro-Russian gunmen but then spent nearly three months locked up by the rebels in City Hall. She is now being held by Ukrainian authorities in Kharkiv, the largest city in eastern Ukraine, awaiting trial on charges of separatism.
Interviewed last week by monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Ms. Schtepa admitted making statements that supported the rebel cause but said she had been forced to do so by her rebel captors, who she said had beaten and tortured her. A rebel-designated “people’s mayor” who replaced her is missing and is widely believed to have escaped to Donetsk.
The organization for security said the Kharkiv detention center where Ms. Schtepa was being held now was clean and well-kept, unlike the filthy City Hall cellar where she and many other prisoners had been held. Rebels also used that basement for target practice, leaving the floor littered with spent cartridges.
The new police chief of Slovyansk, Igor Ribalchenko, said investigators had started collecting information about residents suspected of actively supporting the rebels but added that the widespread collaboration of ordinary people would not be punished.
“Most people were simply afraid because there were armed terrorists walking around” and they had no choice but to obey, he said. He said that eight police officers who had openly sided with the rebels had fled. An Interior Ministry commission is investigating the rest of the 300-member force. The police chief added that he saw no need for a sweeping purge of the force, despite the fact that its officers put up no resistance when rebels seized the city and then helped them solidify their power.
This cautious stand has infuriated people like Victor Butko, the owner of a printing business and editor of a small local newspaper shut by the rebels. Grabbed by pro-Russian gunmen before the arrival of Ukrainian troops, he was held for days in a fetid cellar beneath the local headquarters of the state security service.
Passing three police officers guarding the mass grave left by the rebels last week, Mr. Butko cursed them for not resisting the separatists, shouting: “You are to blame for all this. You all did nothing. You should have picked up your guns and shot them.”
The officers looked at their feet nervously.
As some residents who fled during the rebel occupation trickle back home, a semblance of normal life slowly returns. But, Mr. Butko predicted it would take a generation before Slovyansk shook off its flirtation with Russian nationalism. “The biggest problem here is not economics or anything physical,” he said. “It is moral. The problem here is in people’s heads.”
(Το άρθρο που λινκάρισες είναι πίσω από "χρηματότοιχο";)
Ukraine Strategy Bets on Restraint by Russia
By ANDREW E. KRAMER (ΝΥΤ)
DONETSK, Ukraine — The warnings from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the White House over the past week could not have been graver in tone: The Russian Army, they said, had massed enough forces on the border with Ukraine to invade.
The last time Russian troops appeared to menace Ukraine, in the spring, the Ukrainian military quickly halted attacks on pro-Russian separatists to avoid the chance of touching off a new war in Europe. Not this time.
Buoyed by successes against the separatists over the past two months — and noting that the Russians have threatened an invasion in the region before without following through — Ukrainian commanders have pressed ahead with an offensive to drive the rebels from their stronghold in Donetsk in the east.
The army continued to fire artillery into the city nightly, and paramilitary groups raided outlying villages despite warnings from President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia that he could intervene at any time to protect Ukrainians who favor closer ties with his country. And the Ukrainians have flaunted their victories.
When pro-Ukrainian militiamen reclaimed the village of Marinka from pro-Russian forces, they captured the action with a GoPro camera mounted on a fighter’s shoulder. The video showed them marching into the village, yelling and waving their rifles in the air, firing wildly.
Despite growing jitters in the West, Ukraine’s military leaders say they are making a well-calculated gamble, betting that Mr. Putin feels he has too much to lose to invade, including the possibility of crippling international sanctions. So while Western officials view each new Ukrainian artillery barrage in Donetsk as drawing the country closer to the brink, the Ukrainians see their unchecked advance as further confirmation that Mr. Putin is mobilizing troops only as a scare tactic to keep them from reclaiming territory.
The government in Kiev is “calling Putin’s bluff,” said Oleh Voloshyn, a former Ukrainian diplomat, who said political leaders dismissed Mr. Putin’s moves as “psychological pressure.”
“If we pause, it would show Putin that any time he puts troops on the border, we will stop,” Mr. Voloshyn said.
Ukraine was given just that option on Saturday when a separatist leader, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, offered what appeared to be an unconditional cease-fire to prevent a large-scale “humanitarian catastrophe.” On Saturday night, a senior adviser to Ukraine’s minister of the interior said Ukraine would not halt its offensive.
As Ukraine continued its all-out assault, the international maneuvering over Ukraine’s fate continued.
Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, spoke by telephone with Secretary of State John Kerry and called for “urgent measures to prevent an impending humanitarian catastrophe.” The statement seemed to increase worries in the West that Russia might use the Ukrainian offensive as a convenient reason to send in troops — which it says are on exercises near the border — as a peacekeeping mission or to deliver humanitarian aid to areas under siege. Mr. Kerry cautioned Russia against intervening on the “pretext” of providing aid.
Statements issued by the White House said that President Obama had spoken with both Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and that all had agreed that any Russian intervention, “even under purported ‘humanitarian’ auspices,” without Ukrainian government agreement would violate international law.
Russia’s testiness over Ukraine’s boasts of increasing successes was clear on Saturday. A senior aide to President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine said that diplomatic consultations overnight Friday with unspecified foreign officials had halted a Russian military column approaching the border.
A spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, shot back, saying “Kiev is more and more inventive in creating fairy tales,” according to Reuters.
If the Ukrainians’ calculations about Mr. Putin’s willingness to engage directly are wrong, Mr. Obama and other Western leaders will face yet another crisis at a time of mounting danger in Iraq and as hostilities between Israel and Hamas continue.
So far, despite growing anxiety, the West seems loath to try to stop the Ukrainians, particularly after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, for which the United States blames the separatists.
There are plenty of reasons for Mr. Putin to be wary about committing troops to a war.
The separatist zones of eastern Ukraine that were well defined just several months ago are now amorphous, with the front lines shifting after the Ukrainian military retook 75 percent of the territory initially seized by pro-Russian rebels.
Beyond that, loyalties in eastern Ukraine are split, increasing the risk that the portion of the population that supports Kiev would aid any insurgency against Russia should it invade. An invasion would also be costly, not only because of the likelihood of stiffened sanctions, but because it could plunge the region into an economic free-fall, bleeding funds from whichever country wins on the battlefield.
But Western leaders and analysts remain unconvinced Mr. Putin will be willing to be taunted endlessly or to permit extensive deaths of pro-Russian civilians. The United Nations said recently that at least 1,543 civilians and combatants on both sides have died since mid-April.
“The Russian president has a record of brash, emotional and forceful behavior, and he could just ‘go for it,’ ” Cliff Kupchan, a senior analyst with the Eurasia Group, a risk analysis organization, wrote last week in an analysis published by the group. The Eurasia Group estimated the likelihood of a Russian invasion at about 35 percent.
Some of the only backers of the notion that Mr. Putin will surely not invade appear to be the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine who crave his help. Yuri, a commander of about 500 pro-Russian fighters defending Donetsk, said he does not believe the Russians will cross the border.
“Russia,” he said, “is afraid of starting World War III.”
For the moment, it is clear the Ukrainians are emboldened.
A spokesman for the Ukrainian military operation in the east, Col. Aleksei Dmitrashkivsky, said morale is high. “The threats to send Russian peacekeepers into Ukraine have been around since April, but nothing happens,” he said. “The Ukrainian Army is learning quickly how to fight. Volunteers who join the army want to defend this land. We are not afraid.”
The Ukrainian military strategy, commanders say, centers on encircling Donetsk to squeeze off the lifeline of supplies from the other separatist stronghold, the city of Luhansk, and from the Russian border. On Saturday, a rebel website, citing the separatist military commander Igor Strelkov, said the Ukrainian Army had cut off resupply routes.
The fighting for Donetsk has taken on a lethal pattern: The regular army bombards separatist positions from afar, followed by chaotic, violent assaults by some of the half-dozen or so paramilitary groups surrounding Donetsk who are willing to plunge into urban combat.
Officials in Kiev say the militias and the army coordinate their actions, but the militias, which count about 7,000 fighters, are angry and, at times, uncontrollable. One known as Azov, which took over the village of Marinka, flies a neo-Nazi symbol resembling a Swastika as its flag.
In pressing their advance, the fighters took their orders from a local army commander, rather than from Kiev. In the video of the attack, no restraint was evident. Gesturing toward a suspected pro-Russian position, one soldier screamed, “The bastards are right there!” Then he opened fire.
As we commemorate the outbreak of the first world war, let no one swallow the old but tenacious lie that their “sacrifice” was a necessary and noble one. On the contrary, the war is best understood as the greatest error of modern history. That is a harsh truth that many historians still find unpalatable. But then, as AJP Taylor once observed, most people who study history only “learn from the mistakes of the past how to make new ones”.
Δεν μπορώ να πω ότι με εντυπωσίασε η επιχειρηματολογία του άρθρου. Τι σχέση έχει η δολοφονία του αρχιδούκα της Αυστρίας το 1914 με την κατάρριψη του αεροπλάνου των Μαλαισιανών Αερογραμμών; Τέλος πάντων.
Φωτορεπορτάζ (23 φωτογραφίες) από την εκκένωση της πλατείας Μαϊντάν του Κιέβου προ ημερών. (Kyiv Post)
Lawmakers approved the first draft of the bill 12 August and will consider the legislation again 14 August, AFP reports.
The measure would affect “online broadcasts in the country, the Internet, and other means of communication,” according to a broadly worded government statement.
Dunja Mijatovic, who oversees media issues for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said the legislation would allow authorities to ban or restrict television, radio, and Internet media, the print press, and telecommunications services.
Although it has not said so explicitly, the government is likely trying to block Russian broadcasts on its territory. Most of those broadcasts are of state-controlled media sympathetic to separatists in eastern Ukraine. When Crimea came under Russian control, one of its new authorities’ first acts was to shut down Ukrainian broadcasters and replace them with Russia-controlled media.
Reporters Without Borders protested the media provisions in the sanctions bill. Johann Bihr, director of the group’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk, said if passed the law would be “a major setback for freedom of information in Ukraine,” AFP reports.
Mijatovic said the restrictions represent “a clear violation of international standards and thus directly curtail the free flow of information and ideas.”
In addition to the media provisions, the measure would allow Ukraine’s courts to try in absentia those wanted for terrorism, war crimes, massacres, or crimes against the country’s security, and to seek to confiscate the global assets of those convicted, according to a separate government statement.
Τα απόνερα της Ουκρανικής κρίσης στην 41η Σκακιστική Ολυμπιάδα (στη Νορβηγία), που μόλις τελείωσε:
(Wikipedia) On 16 July 2014, the organising committee announced that some national teams have missed the 1 June deadline to submit their team line-ups. They included Central African Republic, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Cambodia, Oman, Pakistan and Senegal in the open as well as Afghanistan and Russia in the women's section. The organisers have also stated that the regulations regarding the deadline apply for all and no exemptions will be allowed to anyone. Particularly surprising was the disqualification of Russia's women team as reigning champions from the previous Chess Olympiad. The chess media linked the missed deadline with Lagno's case of changing the federation and reported that the Russian Chess Federation allowed the deadline to pass away until her transfer from Ukraine to Russia becomes official. Namely, Kateryna Lagno had to strengthen Russia's women team following the retirement of Nadezhda and Tatiana Kosintseva from the national team. FIDE sharply criticised the decision of the organisers not to allow these teams to compete at the Olympiad. FIDE Vice President Israel Gelfer said that the ultimate decision of allowing teams to compete lies in the hands of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov; in addition, he accused Garry Kasparov and advocated on cancelling the Olympiad. Gelfer said that the organising committee was influenced by people who are working for Kasparov and that they are using it for election purposes. Kasparov promptly responded and referred to Gelfer's statements as 'bizarre', stating that to punish 175 teams for the mistakes of one is an absurd arrogance. He also criticised FIDE for allowing the Russian Chess Federation to violate the rules and receive an exception and said that it is real threat to the global chess community. On 21 July, the organising committee informed FIDE President Ilyumzhinov that, while they stand by the interpretation of the regulations, they will allow the teams who have missed the 1 June deadline to play.
Η ίδια υποστήριξε ότι η αλλαγή ομοσπονδίας είχε ξεκινήσει πριν από ένα χρόνο.
[Υπάρχουν αρμοδιότεροι από μένα γι' αυτά τα ζητήματα...]
Για το θέμα που ανέφερες, Κώστα, ανήκει στα συνήθη βαρετά θέματα παγκόσμιας σκακιστικής πολιτικής, αλλά η ουσία είναι ότι ο Κασπάροβ (και οι διοργανωτές) δεν είχαν διαβάσει καν τους κανονισμούς που είχαν αναρτήσει στην ιστοσελίδα των αγώνων, σύμφωνα με τους οποίους σε μια τέτοια περίπτωση (καθυστέρηση ομάδας που έχει δηλώσει συμμετοχή αλλά δεν έχει δηλώσει σύνθεση) το θέμα λύνεται με ένα μικρό πρόστιμο --επειδή συνήθως συμβαίνει με μικρές και κακά οργανωμένες σκακιστικές δυνάμεις. (Το ξαναδιάβασαν όταν άρχισαν οι αγριάδες...)
Για μένα, το αξιοσημείωτο της Σκακιστικής Ολυμπιάδας που μόλις έληξε είναι η καθαρή νίκη, για πρώτη φορά, της Κίνας στους άνδρες (τους «ανοιχτούς» αγώνες, όπως ονομάζονται επειδή δεν υπάρχει περιορισμός φύλου στις συνθέσεις) μπροστά στην πάντα αξιόπιστη επισκέπτρια των θέσεων κορυφής Ουγγαρία (που θα πρέπει όμως να αντικαταστήσει εξίσου αξιόπιστα τη σκακίστρια θαύμα Τζούντιθ/Γιούντιτ Πόλγκαρ που ανακοίνωσε ότι μετά από αυτό το αργυρό μετάλλιο αποσύρεται από την αγωνιστική δραστηριότητα) και την (πραγματική έκπληξη στην κορυφή) Ινδία, τη χώρα όπου σύμφωνα με τους θρύλους γεννήθηκε το σκάκι ως τσατουράνγκα και η οποία βρέθηκε για πρώτη φορά τόσο ψηλά χάρη στη δύναμη των νέων σκακιστών της, βεβαίως, αλλά και τα τερτίπια του αγωνιστικού συστήματος και των κριτηρίων άρσης της ισοβαθμίας. Στις αμέσως επόμενες αντρικές θέσεις οι συνήθως ύποπτες για μετάλλια ομάδες της Ρωσίας, του Αζερμπαϊτζάν και της Ουκρανίας (2η ως 5η ομάδα είχαν ίδιο αριθμό νικών). Στις γυναίκες, τα πράγματα ήταν πιο φυσιολογικά, με πρώτη τη Ρωσία (αυτήν που χαρωπά προσπάθησαν να αποκλείσουν οι διοργανωτές), δεύτερη την Κίνα και τρίτη την Ουκρανία. Η εμφάνιση των δικών μας εθνικών ομάδων ήταν δυστυχώς η χειρότερη εδώ και πολλά, πάρα πολλά χρόνια.
Α, ναι, και στις εκλογές για την προεδρία της Διεθνούς Ομοσπονδίας, ο Κασπάροβ τις έχασε με 110-61, αποξενώνοντας με τη στάση του ακόμη και παραδοσιακές ομάδες του δυτικού κόσμου που ανήκουν συνήθως στην αντιπολίτευση (οι διεθνείς αθλητικές ομοσπονδίες σπανίως διοικούνται από εκπροσώπους χωρών του λεγόμενου πρώτου κόσμου, καθώς ισχύει η αρχή «μία χώρα, μία ψήφος»).
Άρα το άρθρο της Wikipedia ελέγχεται ελλιπές στο κρίσιμο σημείο ότι οι κανονισμοί απλώς προέβλεπαν πρόστιμο και όχι αποκλεισμό. Και τελικά πλήρωσε καμιά ομάδα πρόστιμο, ή λόγω του μπάχαλου και της υπαναχώρησης το γλίτωσαν κι αυτό;
Η Ελλάδα πάτωσε αλλά ο Μολίνα εδώ ήταν Έλληνας, διάβασα...