Tag Archives: Crimea

Russian Occupied #Crimea: Crimean #Tatar #Mejlis raided, searched by police (PHOTOS)

The Mejlis is the self-governing body of the Crimean Tatars, most of whom opposed Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March and many of whom boycotted local elections on September 14.The Mejlis is the self-governing body of the Crimean Tatars, most of whom opposed Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March and many of whom boycotted local elections on September 14. © Anastasia Vlasova

Russian security forces raided the Crimean Tatar assembly and the home of one of its members. Reporting from the site, an RFE/RL correspondent said 10 police officers and six armed, masked men in military uniform surrounded the Mejlis in Crimea’s capital, Simferopol, on September 16 and were not letting anyone enter or leave the building.

The Mejlis is the self-governing body of the Crimean Tatars, most of whom opposed Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March and many of whom boycotted local elections on September 14. Police inside the building on September 16 were said to be searching the offices of the Crimean Tatar newspaper “Avdet” (Return).

Police also searched the home of Mejlis member Eskender Bariyev and confiscated his computers. On September 15, three masked, armed men removed a Ukrainian national flag from the Mejlis building.

Crimean Tatar assembly #1Crimean Tatar assembly #2Crimean Tatar assembly #3Crimean Tatar assembly #4Crimean Tatar assembly #5Crimean Tatar assembly #6Crimean Tatar assembly #7Crimean Tatar assembly #8Crimean Tatar assembly #9Crimean Tatar assembly #10

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

#Poroshenko downplays military options in #Russia’s war against #Ukraine

by Brian Bonner.
This handout picture taken and released by Ukrainian presidential press-service on Sept. 11shows Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (L) welcoming his Estonian counterpart Toomas Hendrik Ilves prior to their meeting in Kiev.This handout picture taken and released by Ukrainian presidential press-service on Sept. 11, shows Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (L) welcoming his Estonian counterpart Toomas Hendrik Ilves prior to their meeting in Kiev. © AFP

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Sept. 12 that the nation will win Crimea back from Russia not through military force, but by building a better society than Russia.

“We will win a democratic, economic, liberal competition for the minds of the Crimea people,” Poroshenko told the Yalta European Strategy conference, the 11th annual event sponsored by billionaire Victor Pinchuk. The three-day even is being held in Kyiv this year because of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, including Yalta’s Livadia Palace, the traditional venue.

Later, during a question-and-answer session, Poroshenko echoed European Parliament President Martin Schulz’s view that there is “no military solution,” even though it is just such a solution that Russia has been trying to impose on Ukraine since its Feb. 27 invasion of Crimea and subsequent backing of separatists in Ukraine’s eastern regions during the last six months.

Poroshenko called this “one of the most challenging and dangerous periods in the history of Ukraine,” but said that he would try to find a peaceful solution that does not involve “compromise on the territorial integrity” of the nation.

Poroshenko said the same non-military approach – winning the hearts and minds of two million Crimeans – will also work in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine, where Russia is backing a separatist war that has killed more than 3,000 people, including soldiers and civilians.

The president said Ukraine will build an effective, democratic and “not corrupt” state, Poroshenko said. “We will be democratic and we will be free. The standard of freedom in Ukraine outside of the administrative border of Crimea will be much better; this is the only way we can win in the fight for the minds of Crimea.”

Poroshenko praised the European Union decision to impose new economic sanctions today against Russia. “They demonstrate that Ukraine is now their top priority.”

He also said next week is a pivotal one for Ukraine, with a Sept. 16 synchronized approval of the EU-Ukraine association agreement in the European Parliament in Brussels and the Verkhovna Rada in Kyiv. The voting will be broadcast by video link in both capitals, with voting taking place at the same moment.

Poroshenko also signaled he would push for an invitation from the EU for full membership, suggesting it would be “unpolite” for the 28-nation bloc to not make such an offer considering all that Ukraine has been through. Later, he said the EU would not be whole without Ukraine and that, with Ukraine as an EU member, Europea will be “stronger from a security point of view.”

Two days later, on Sept. 18, Poroshenko will address a joint session of the U.S. Congress and meet with U.S. President Barack Obama.

Poroshenko also said that he hopes that NATO grants Ukraine the status as major non-member ally.

“It’s of crucial importance for us,” Poroshenko said. “Our European and trans-Atlantic partners that Ukrainians are not fighting for the territorial independence of Ukraine. It is fighting for global security. We need to introduce a new security structure in this very dangerous world.’

At the same time, Poroshenko said Ukraine will embark on a reform program to end corruption simultaneously to seeking peace with Russia.

“The fight against corruption is absolutely the same importance as the fight for peace. This is like a cancer that has paralyzed Ukraine,” Poroshenko said.

When challenged during a question-and-answer by Dragon Capital head Tomas Fiala on the slow pace of the anti-corruption fight, Poroshenko said that – despite the EuroMaidan Revolution – Ukraine is saddled with the old rules and old parliament. That is why he called for new parliamentary elections on Oct. 26, the president said.

“Investors will come when they feel safe in the country,” Poroshenko said. “The investors are not going to a country that is in a state of war.”

In particular, Poroshenko called for reform of Ukraine’s secretive and corrupt court system to make investment safe.

In his speech, Poroshenko said that Ukrainians are united as never before.  “We have no military solution to this crisis,” he said.

“What we have now is absolutely new Ukrainian army, security forces and heroes who demonstrated that even in this difficult times we can effectively defend our values. We are defending our values; and that is why we are stronger than anybody else,” he said.

Poroshenko addressed skeptics about the peace agreement reached in Minsk on Sept. 5. He said the deal can work.

“Only a few of you can believe that we can establish a fragile peace,” he said. “From day to day, more people believe we will be successful in this important way. Even now, not everybody understands the positive thing to have possibility not to receive every night the news about death of Ukrainian solders and civilians, when dozens of Ukrainan heroes are giving their lives. That’s why this is very important for us Ukrainians to be together. We can win only when we will be united.”

The president said that “Ukraine is as united as never before. You can absolutely understand and see that. This is another reason I am proud to be Ukrainian and I am proud to be the president of this beautiful country.”

(Kyiv Post chief editor Brian Bonner can be reached at bribonner@gmail.com).

Kyiv Post.

Kremlin puppet issues chilling threats to gay community in occupied Crimea #Homophobia #LGBT #Crimea

Homophobia in Occupied Crimea

Occupied Crimea’s pro-Russian leader has claimed that gays ‘have no chance‘ of living a normal life on the Black Sea peninsula. Sergei Aksyonov said that Crimea ‘did not need such people’ and that police would ‘react’ within minutes to tell them the ‘sexual orientation they should stick to’. 1




Ukraine Today.

  1. A message to Russia & other bigoted nations: If you do not want gays in your countries, you should stop procreating, The LGBT community ALL came from ‘straight’ parents! Science has shown that the more children you have the higher chance that one or two may be gay. So Mr Putin, Mr Aksyonov and all the rest of you bigots do us all a favour and stop procreating now!!! 

John F. Hall Jr.: What next? #RussiainvadedUkraine #Putin #Russia #Ukraine

John F. Hall Jr.Ukrainian servicemen rest near their military equipment inside a military camp in the Donetsk region, on August 29, 2014.Ukrainian servicemen rest near their military equipment inside a military camp in the Donetsk region, on August 29, 2014. NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged Russia on August 29 to halt its “illegal” military actions in Ukraine, accusing it of a “dangerous” attempt to destabilise its western neighbour. The conflict raging in eastern Ukraine has killed nearly 2,600 people, the United Nations said on August 29, voicing concern about atrocities committed by armed groups and the increasing involvement of foreign fighters. AFP PHOTO / OLEKSANDR RATUSHNIAK © AFP

Russia has invaded Ukraine. Again. This time, it’s clear to everyone. The creative and patently absurd denials which we all have heard from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and Russia’s United Nations Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, regarding Russia’s support for the separatists in Ukraine’s Donbas, Russia’s complicity in the wholesale massacre of innocent civilians in the downing of MH-17, and now Russia’s undeniable invasion of Ukraine proper, all reside in the dustbin of credible international discourse. They are liars. They lie with impunity. The intrinsic deception of Russia’s leadership is both pathological and inalienable to them. They know no other way. But we believe that others know a different way.

We remain hopeful that other nations and their leaders still know how to lead with integrity. At least, we hope so. They just seem unwilling to lead now, when it matters most. Russia is not solely to blame for the awful, deepening crisis in Ukraine, of course. So are the United States, the European Union, Japan, NATO, and Ukraine, itself. Their collective response to Putin’s aggression has been too timid, too measured, and — obviously — too badly ineffective.

Today, only because of our collective ineptitudes, Putin’s army, his mercenaries, and his stooges in Ukraine advance, persist, and wreak havoc against any just and peaceful conclusion to his original, ill-considered gambit in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin threatened the security of Europe long ago, when he invaded Georgia six years ago, and then again when he stole Ukraine’s Crimea earlier this year, but the West sat on its hands in both instances and waited weeks before deciding upon even the most rudimentary, incremental, and limited sanctions, which have proven unsurprisingly ineffective. Putin has only solidified his Crimean and Georgian land-grabs during his reign.

What, after all, was the West’s response to Putin’s most recent conduct of a Duma session in Ukraine’s Crimea on Aug. 14? It was nothing. Not a peep.

Despite the increasingly-muted bleatings of the United States and others, the West has clearly now ceded Crimea and Georgia’s South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions to Russia, regardless of Georgia’s and Ukraine’s legal borders and their sovereignty. Just as there were no meaningful penalties imposed upon Russia for the annexation of Crimea, the July 17 downing of Malaysian flight MH 17, and the August invasion of Russian “humanitarian” convoys in Ukraine — which we all knew to be a diversionary tactic and a joke, there appears to be no true penalty in the offing for Russia’s most recent, boldfaced invasion of Ukraine . . . except for the penalty of death and deprivation suffered by those innocents in the path of Putin’s war-machine.

Putin’s troops have now opened a third front in Ukraine, with all of the trauma that reality implies.

For avoidance of doubt, it means that innocent Ukrainians and over-taxed Ukrainian soldiers are now fighting — face-to-face — a pure Russian enemy with advanced Russian weaponry to the rear, while concomitantly fighting Russian-sponsored terrorists with advanced Russian weaponry at the front.

Meanwhile, the leaders of Europe, Japan, Australia, and the United States — who always congratulate themselves as the guardians of peace and justice on the planet — do nothing. Not a damned thing. Putin’s second invasion of Ukraine is now being met with nothing more than condemnation and regret. What it should be met with is concerted action. Now.

Here is what the world’s pretenders to peace and justice need to do — and do now, if they hope to avoid the global conflict that is soon coming at Putin’s hand:

  1. Call-out lies as lies. Name wrong as wrong. Do not yield to the sophisticated Russian propaganda machinery that equates Russia’s invasion of its peaceful, non-threatening neighbors with the West’s proportional responses to the brutal acts of leaders and warlords in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan, which have serially threatened and exterminated their own populace, their neighbors, and innocents. Ukraine has never threatened either its own people or its neighbors. Russia, in contrast, invaded a peaceful neighbor that presented no threat to itself nor to anyone else. There’s a difference. Russia’s propagandistic comparisons would be laughable, except for the fact that so many more Ukrainian innocents are now dying at Putin’s hand. Call a lie a lie.
  2. Implement truly-meaningful, painful sanctions against Russia that also hurt the Allies’ own industries and financial institutions. The “painless” targeted sanctions by the United States, the EU, and Japan haven’t worked. Recognize that discomfiting fact, and move-on. Lead your nations in enduring truly-meaningful sanctions that DO work, including in the arms and financial sectors. Show true leadership, even when it hurts at home. That’s why you are leaders.
  3. Reduce Russia’s economy and its ability to wage war against its peaceful neighbors to ruin. Freeze Russia’s assets globally. Put Russia on the same international financial footing as North Korea. See how Putin and his oligarchs can deal with that, for once. This will be especially hard for the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, and others, but it’s far better than what the future portends if Putin is successful in his current expansionist effort. If we believe that if we all just give Putin what he wants in Ukraine, he’ll be satiated, then we’re both mistaken and unaware of history. Tyrants are never satisfied. Tyrants must be disarmed and exposed. Do it.
  4. Russia’s out of the G-20. The Group of 20 is a collective of peaceful industrialized nations. Russia cannot now be counted among them. This is a no-brainier.
  5. Provide sufficient arms and training to the Ukrainian forces fighting an overwhelming Russian regular military. Do it now. This crucial aid was needed yesterday, but tomorrow will do. The Ukrainian army needs the very best equipment and training that the Free World can provide to it. That’s a lot to ask, but it’s overdue.
  6. Provide the vital financial support and guarantees to Ukraine that it needs, so that it can pay its bills while it gets its house in-order and fights an uneven war on two fronts. That’s also a lot to ask, but $5 billion in financial aid is cheaper than millions of lives sacrificed on the altar of freedom for a second time in a single generation.
  7. Publicize Putin’s corruption and the corruption of his oligarchs. As stated previously, tyrants must be exposed. Let the world know, through all media, of the rape of Russia’s economy by its leaders. Vladimir Putin’s fundamental need for holding-on to power is premised upon the uncomfortable truth that he and his cronies have amassed millions on the backs of Russia’s people, its industries, and its enterprises. It’s time that this fact was known, worldwide.

If Western leaders won’t do these things, and do them now, then they will face a much greater challenge in the future, one which will require the lives of tens of millions of their citizens to defeat. There is a choice now to be made among the leaders of the West and those who profess to champion democracy and freedom in the world:

Either suck it up now, name truths as truths and lies as lies, provide Ukraine with the arms that it requires to defend itself, and suffer the impacts of truly-meaningful sanctions that will undoubtedly reach home and require your strong leadership to weather, or . . . fight a devastating war with Russia that will claim at least 20 million of your constituents’ lives once Putin’s appetite for conquest to sustain his position reaches Europe and Asia proper, wrecking your economies and the lives of your constituents beyond your worst imagining, with the added risk of global catastrophe. Our leaders have the ability to shut-down this insanity — this still-stoppable grave injustice — now.

The choice is now with our leaders. What will they do? What will WE do?

(John F. Hall, Jr., is an international lawyer in Washington, D.C.).

Kyiv Post.

Russia’s slow motion invasion of mainland Ukraine ‪#‎RussiainvadedUkraine

 Mark Rachkevych.A soldier in unmarked military fatigues mans a checkpoint on a bridge leading into the town of Slovyansk in Donetsk Oblast on April 12, the day Russian proxies took over the city. © Konstantyn ChernichkinA soldier in unmarked military fatigues mans a checkpoint on a bridge leading into the town of Slovyansk in Donetsk Oblast on April 12, the day Russian proxies took over the city. © Konstantyn Chernichkin.

The main picture accompanying this op-ed of the “little green man” wasn’t taken in Crimea during Russia’s annexation of the peninsula and wasn’t shot this week when they again invaded Ukraine with columns of tanks and other hardware. 

It was shot when I and a photographer on April 12 were in Slovyansk on a bridge leading into town at a checkpoint manned by armed, masked soldiers wearing matching military fatigues – the same day that Russian proxies took over the town, including its main municipal building, police station and State Security headquarters. The same kind of troops stood guard that day at the SBU, while a video surfaced of a well-organized unit of fighters taking over the local police station that morning. And this was before the government’s military operation had officially launched against the Russian invaders.

These weren’t locals who spontaneously decided to rise up against Kyiv. They came from Russia-occupied Crimea, the SBU had alleged, where they received training and arms for the purpose of militarily expressing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s contempt for Ukraine as a unified people and sovereign nation.

Then led by Russian military intelligence officer Igor Girkin (a.k.a. Strelkov), a group of Russians (see picture below) the following day on April 13 ambushed an SBU counterterrorism team near Sloviansk while it was “conducting redeployment” in preparation for the government’s anti-terrorist operation, according to SBU counterintelligence chief Vitaliy Naida. SBU Capt. Hennadiy Bilichenko was killed, and two SBU colonels and an interior ministry officer were wounded.

Armed Kremlin-backed guerillas prepare for battle with a Ukrainian Security Service team on the outskirts the eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk on April 13, 2014. (AFP/Anatoliy Stepanov)Armed Kremlin-backed guerrillas prepare for battle with a Ukrainian Security Service team on the outskirts the eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk on April 13, 2014. (AFP/Anatoliy Stepanov).

They were one of the first casualties in Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine.

Also on the same day in Kramatorsk, about 15 kilometers south of Slovyansk, another well-organized unit of over 20 men in matching military fatigues seized the police headquarters after a shootout, Reuters reported.

By April 16 when Oleksandr Turchynov, then acting president of Ukraine, officially launched the counterterrorism campaign against the invading Russian irregulars, Kyiv lost control of nine cities in Donetsk Oblast: Mariupol, Donetsk, Makyivka, Yeanikiyeve, Druzhkivka, Kramatorsk, Sloviansk and Horlivka.

Then the disciplined Russian green men disappeared, leaving behind a mixture of Russian mercenaries and locals fighting beside them.

SBU Capt. Hennadiy Bilichenko of Poltava was one of the first casualties of Russia's war against Ukraine. He was killed in an ambush on April 13 outside Slovyansk in Donetsk Oblast. (Courtesy)SBU Capt. Hennadiy Bilichenko of Poltava was one of the first casualties of Russia’s war against Ukraine. He was killed in an ambush on April 13 outside Slovyansk in Donetsk Oblast. (Courtesy)

In April, most of the Russian fighters didn’t have anti-armor weapons. In an SBU video recording (1:32) of Russian military intelligence officer Girkin speaking to his handler in Moscow after the successful ambush, he says: “We repelled the first attack, they ran into our rearguard. They took heavy casualties. We don’t know who we killed, but it was somebody very serious. We can hold on (only) for a few days of fighting, let them (fighters coming via Luhansk) bring more anti-tank weapons. If we had them (anti-armor weapons), we would have driven them all beyond Mozhaisk (a town in Moscow Oblast located on the historic road leading to Smolensk and then to Poland.)”

In the same conversation, the handler tells Girkin he wants his “deputy commander” with a Ukrainian accent to speak to Russia’s Life News to demand the federalization of Ukraine, the election of oblast governors by April 25, and for Ukraine to need at least two-thirds approval from the regions to borrow externally.

Over time, Kyiv’s control of the border area in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts with Russia deteriorated. To secure the regular supply of weapons, armor and troops, Russian elements attacked key crossing areas from both sides of the border. Escalation ensued on July 11, according to National Security and Defense Council spokesperson Col. Andriy Lysenko, when Russia started daily cross-border artillery barrages on Ukrainian positions. They persist to this day.

Kyiv has been reluctant to fire back on Russia for fear of provoking a full-scale invasion where an estimated 20,000 combat-ready soldiers presumably await orders for such an incident.

And when Ukraine started to exercise air superiority, Russia gave its boys on the ground sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons, including radar-guided surface-to-air missile systems known as Buk. Special training is needed to operate these deadly weaponry, one of which was most likely used by Russians to shoot down the Malaysian airliner on July 17, killing all 298 people on board, including 80 children.

According to the latest count, 18 Ukrainian military aircraft have been lost costing the Defense Ministry at least $250 million in losses, according to a calculation by UNIAN.

The arrival of mercenary groups in late May, like the predominantly Chechen Vostok Battalion that replaced the ragtag group of Kremlin-backed separatists in Donetsk, marked another escalation in Russia’s invasion. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry called their presence, including kozak groups – also Russian – “undisguised aggression.”

This summer, Kyiv recovered much lost territory and it looked like all that was left was to take over the provincial capitals of Donetsk and Luhansk, the sizable city of Horlivka, and secure the border area and smaller settlements along the way.

Not wishing to relinquish control and seeing its pipedream of forming breakaway republics in the region crumble, Russia struck back. The Russian green men resurfaced, this time, brazenly en masse accompanied by columns of heavy armor, artillery, and howitzers, among other serious weaponry. Authorities now estimate over 20,000 fighting on the side of Russia in the region.

Fighting has been intense. After all, Ukraine’s forces are dealing with Europe’s largest army that has spent billions over the last decade to modernize its military, with Germany partially assisting. Ukraine since April has lost at least 722 servicemen and 2,625 were wounded, according to the National Security and Defense Council.

I hope that number stops growing soon, but honestly, Ukraine can’t stop Putin on its own without making huge sacrifices and seeing scores more killed in the field of battle. It needs help in all forms. Putin won’t stop until somebody stops him. The time to act is now, and decisively.

(Kyiv Post editor Mark Rachkevych can be reached at rachkevych@kyivpost.com).

Kyiv Post.