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#Ireland: Friendship with #Britain ‘must not stop Easter Rising celebration’

1916 Proclamation

A leading Irish historian has expressed concern that Ireland’s current friendship with Britain may curtail the centenary celebrations of the Easter Rising.

There has been an increased concern by some groups in Ireland that the memories of the men and women who fought for their country nearly a hundred years ago, will not be properly honoured because of Ireland’s current strong relationship with Britain.

Dr Brian P Murphy, a leading author on Irish history, was speaking at the annual Liam Lynch Commemoration Ceremony in Fermoy, County Cork (Lynch was an Irish nationalist soldier who died fighting for the Free State Army in the Civil War). Dr Murphy warned that Ireland must not be afraid to celebrate their past and the current bond between Ireland and Britain is not reason to forget the sacrifices made by the Irish nationalists of the early 20th century.

Dr Murphy is a regular speaker on matters regarding Irish history. He is the author of ‘Patrick Pearse and the Lost Republican Ideal’ and ‘The Origins and Organisation of British Propaganda in Ireland’.

The 100 year centenary of the Easter Rising will take place in less than two years’ time. It was one of the key events in Irish history.

On the 24th April 1916, a group of Irish nationalists seized the General Post Office in Dublin and several other city strongholds. They declared Ireland an independent republic, with Pádraic Pearse reading aloud the Proclamation of Independence.

It took five days of fighting before the Irish rebels reluctantly surrendered to the superior resources of the British Army. More than 1,500 were imprisoned, and 15 of the leaders were executed by firing squad.

Ireland has since gained full independence from Britain, and the relationship between the two countries is now as strong as it has ever been.

Queen Elizabeth II visited Ireland in 2011, the first visit by a British monarch since the country had become an independent republic. She bowed her head at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin and conceded that: “It would have been better if some action in the past had been done differently, or maybe not at all.”

HRH Queen Elizabeth II

The admission was welcomed by the Irish public, and given the queen’s position, it was the closest thing Ireland would ever get in regards of an apology from Britain.

During their terms as Irish President, Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese were both invited by the queen to attend ceremonies in Britain.

Most citizens from both sides of the Irish Sea have welcomed the improved relationship between the two nations.

However, Dr P Murphy has urged the Ireland not to let this get in the way of properly honouring those that fought and died for the freedom of their country. The Easter Rising was possibly the most important event in Ireland’s history.

He said: “These developments provide a clear indication that a final refining and resolving of Ireland’s relationship with England may well be resolve by peaceful means if the political will is there.” He went on to stress though that the history and facts of Ireland’s struggle must be remembered fully, and not portrayed in “a less than authentic manner”.

Dr Murphy’s views echoed President Michael Higgins’ recent comment that the “improved Anglo Irish relations should not lead to amnesia about the past”.

Ireland Calling.

Taruta says Donetsk will feel ‘raped’ because of new law #Ukraine #Russia

by Katya Gorchinskaya.
Donetsk Oblast Governor Serhiy TarutaDonetsk Oblast Governor Serhiy Taruta © Katya Gorchinskaya.

MARIUPOL, Ukraine — Donetsk Oblast Governor Serhiy Taruta says that the people of Donbas “will feel raped” by the new law 1 passed on Sept. 16 designed to bring self-governance to the region — Ukraine’s most populous — where war has been raging for months.

Fighters of the volunteer Azov Battalion equated the law with treason because the law essentially gives up part of Ukraine’s territory.

“Everyone would like a road map, but the kind that we would not feel raped,” Taruta said on Sept. 16.

Ukraine’s parliament approved a law on the temporary settlement of conflict in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts on Sept. 16. President Petro Poroshenko said it was designed to bring peace for the next three years, and grant a special status and local self-governance to the territories controlled by the Russia-backed separatists. It also grants amnesty to the militants in charge, without specifying if any of their crimes in the embattled east will be punished.

But Taruta said the law raises many more questions that it answers. He says he has “some 50 of them in the list.”

He says it’s not at all clear how many regions in Donetsk Oblast will now be in Ukraine: “Are there two Donetsk regions or one?”

Members of the volunteer Azov Battalion are expecting more war, not peace from Russian President Vladimir Putin.Members of the volunteer Azov Battalion are expecting more war, not peace from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It’s also unclear what territory is governed by the new law. The text of the law states that it works within the territory designated as the anti-terrorist operation zone on the day the bill comes into effect, but no clearly marked borders of this territory exist.

Taruta also said that Ukraine considers the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic as terrorist organizations, but the law effectively assigns them a new legal status. He said it’s not clear if and how the Russian border will be sealed off to prevent further shipment of arms and militants from Russia. It’s also unclear what laws will govern over the designated territory; who is going to enforce it and even run regular activities like education.

“There are no answers in this document,” Taruta concludes. “We don’t mind concessions, but not at any price.”

He said Poroshenko took the initiative over the law, without consulting with people on the ground. “Unfortunately, the president takes responsibility to make his own decisions,” Taruta said.

In Gurzuf, some 40 kilometers of Mariupol, fighters of the Azov Battalion who are training at a former residence of fugitive President Viktor Yanukovych learned about the parliamentary vote via their tabs and TV, and were furious.

“This law is no different than most Soviet laws,” says Andriy, an Azov fighter who used to be a history professor at a university before the war. He does not mind showing his face, but refuses to give his last name. “If a law is criminal, we do not recognize it. The law that cannot defend sovereignty and defend the state, we do not recognize.”

Members of the pro-Ukrainian Azov Battalion train in Gurzuf, some 40 kilometers outside Mariupol, The Donetsk Oblast city that some believe may be Russian President Vladimir Putin's next target.Members of the pro-Ukrainian Azov Battalion train in Gurzuf, some 40 kilometers outside Mariupol, The Donetsk Oblast city that some believe may be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s next target.

At the same time, Andriy insists his position has nothing to do with anarchy. He says that simply the new law contradicts many other pieces of Ukraine’s legislation that, in his opinion, overrule it.

“We do not want to break laws, in fact we want a legal base of the European level,” he says.

Andriy said that the ceasefire and, in fact, the whole peace process initiated in Minsk earlier this month is “political fiction from both sides.” By “both” he means Ukraine and Russia, because he thinks that participation of Donetsk and Luhansk People Republics representatives is just window-dressing, while the presence of OSCE is naive.

In fact, he says that President Poroshenko is naive in this case as well. “Unless it’s a carefully weighed out position,” he adds. But his view of Russia’s President Putin is perfectly defined.

“Putin is basically a Stalinist… who cheats every step of the way,” Andriy says. “We must morally be ready that this war is for tens of years.”

Back in Mariupol, Taruta discussed with representatives of local government and volunteers the structure of the defense of the Azov Sea port city of 500,000 people. Clearly none of them believes in the peace process and go into the nitty-gritty of the three lines of defense that are supposed to keep this strategic city out of reach of the Kremlin-financed separatists.

Members of the pro-Ukrainian Azov Battalion train in Gurzuf, some 40 kilometers outside Mariupol, The Donetsk Oblast city that some believe may be Russian President Vladimir Putin's next target.Members of the pro-Ukrainian Azov Battalion train in Gurzuf, some 40 kilometers outside Mariupol, The Donetsk Oblast city that some believe may be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s next target.

Although the new law on special status of territories in Donetsk Oblast sets an early election in the designated areas on Dec. 7, Taruta says they will not take place in Mariupol, which has been expecting an attack from Russian troops for weeks.

“No, it won’t concern Mariupol. I hope we won’t lose Mariupol, and it won’t concern Mariupol,” Taruta says. He says early elections, in the form set up by the new law, are a bad idea.

“You can’t hold an election in one street in the village, but not another,” he says.

Taruta also said he talked to people “on the other side,” meaning the Donetsk People’s Republic, about the election, and discovered that there is no preparation for an election “there.”

“No laws of Ukraine govern over them, from the point of view of those in DNR,” he said.

(Kyiv Post deputy chief editor Katya Gorchinskaya can be reached at katya.gorchinskaya@gmail.com).Kyiv Post+ offers special coverage of Russia's war against Ukraine and the aftermath of the EuroMaidan Revolution.Kyiv Post+ offers special coverage of Russia’s war against Ukraine and the aftermath of the EuroMaidan Revolution.

Kyiv Post.

Footnotes are the opinion of this blog and not of the Kyiv Post.

  1. This could be the worst proposal made by Petro Poroshenko in his time as President of Ukraine, with many seeing it as a betrayal to the people who fought so hard and died so that Ukraine could remain as one. 

Ukraine’s Capitulation Pleases No One #Ukraine #Russia #proRussianrebels

By Leonid Bershidsky.
A statue depicting Lenine next to a self-proclaimed Donetsk People Republic's flag at the Lenine square center of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine on Sept. 16.A statue depicting Lenine next to a self-proclaimed Donetsk People Republic’s flag at the Lenin square center of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine on Sept. 16. © AFP

The compromises Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has made to end the fighting in his country have taken shape, and they are dangerous to his political future. His increasingly nationalist electorate considers them little short of treachery.

The Ukrainian parliament today passed Poroshenko’s bill on the special status of eastern areas held by pro-Russian rebels. It also ratified Ukraine’s association and free trade agreement with the European Union, although Ukraine now only intends to abolish customs duties on EU goods at the end of 2015. These concessions are less in some areas and more in others than Russian President Vladimir Putin squeezed from Poroshenko’s ill-fated predecessor, Viktor Yanukovych, and they come at an enormous cost in human lives, lost trust and broken relationships between the two nations.

The special status law breaks with the Ukrainian government’s practice of calling the rebels “terrorists”. It describes them as “participants in the events in the territories of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.” They are granted a broad amnesty, and Ukrainian organizations are banned from discriminating against them on the basis of their participation in the fighting.

The rebel-held areas are given full power to govern themselves for the three years that follow local elections scheduled for Nov. 9. That includes appointing their own police forces, prosecutors and judges. The local self-government will be allowed to cooperate with Russian authorities across the border “to deepen good neighborly relations,” and the law allows the region to conduct its business in Russian, while the rest of the country uses Ukrainian. The ministries in Kiev will only be able to participate in running the eastern areas if the local bodies deign to sign special agreements with them, yet the law promises Ukrainian budgetary funding to patch up the ravages of war and develop the semi-independent regions.

That, in effect, is Ukraine’s signature under the creation of a frozen conflict area. For Russia, that kind of buffer is the best: It’s not an unrecognized state with a murky status, but an officially recognized enclave within Ukraine. Kiev takes responsibility for it, but has little or no influence on what happens there. The law will probably stand for now, as long as Poroshenko and Putin manage to make the shaky cease-fire in eastern Ukraine stick.

This is a bitter pill for Ukrainians to swallow. “I wouldn’t have voted for this bill if I had been a legislator,” journalist Mustafa Nayyem, who is running for a parliament seat as part of Poroshenko’s electoral bloc, wrote on Facebook. “I see no value in compromises that can lead to another political split in Kiev, mutual accusations of treachery and a show-off patriotism contest.”

That’s a mild reaction by Kiev standards: “Poroshenko is giving up to Putin just enough Ukrainian interests to avoid getting beaten up by his own citizens,” Dmytro Gnap, another journalist, wrote on Facebook. Gnap, who was a prominent investigator of corruption under the Yanukovych regime, accuses Poroshenko of trying to shore up his personal power at any cost so he can run the country with the same corrupt officials who enriched themselves under the previous presidency.

Poroshenko’s bloc does indeed include odious figures implicated in the corruption of the old regime and, in a blatantly Yanukovych-style twist, Poroshenko’s son Aleksiy is running for a parliament seat with his father’s party. “The summit of nepotism,” Gnap fumed.

As for the idealists who joined the government after Yanukovych’s ouster, they have been losing faith and dropping out. Last week, Deputy Foreign Minister Danylo Lubkivsky resigned after he learned that Kiev had decided to put off implementing part of the EU trade agreement. He wrote that the delay sends “the wrong signal to everyone: the aggressor, allies, and, most importantly, Ukrainian citizens.”

The trade deal, which Yanukovych declined to sign last year and thus triggered the protests that ended his presidency, will for now operate as a set of unilateral EU concessions to prop up the Ukrainian economy. Ukrainian companies will be able to export duty-free to the EU within certain quotas, but EU goods will still be subject to duties as before. This is to please Russia, which claims it would lose about $3 billion a year in economic damage from transit imports.

More than 3,000 people lie dead; Russia is in deepening international isolation; Ukraine faces a 10 percent drop in economic output this year; and Poroshenko’s concessions will take a further toll on the impoverished nation. It is a Pyrrhic victory for Putin and makes no one happy: not even the Russian leader can be sure Ukraine will follow through on the compromises it has offered. That depends on the Oct. 26 parliamentary elections, from which Poroshenko may not emerge with a comfortable majority, as voters back populists and military commanders from the eastern war.

If Ukraine then returns to the political in-fighting and non-transparent dealings of the past, it will have a hard time persuading even its friends, the U.S. and the EU, to support it.

(To contact the writer of this article: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.net).

(To contact the editor responsible for this article: Marc Champion at mchampion7@bloomberg.net).

Bloomberg View.

Ukrainian, European parliaments approve long-awaited political association agreement; free trade pact delayed

by Anastasia Forina and Ian Bateson.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko shows a newly voted Ukrainian law about the ratification of the Ukraine-EU association agreement on Sept. 16 at the Ukrainian Parliament in Kiev. The Ukrainian and European parliaments on September 16 simultaneously ratified a landmark pact at the heart of the ex-Soviet country's bloodiest crisis since independence.Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko shows a newly voted Ukrainian law about the ratification of the Ukraine-EU association agreement on Sept. 16 at the Ukrainian Parliament in Kiev. The Ukrainian and European parliaments on September 16 simultaneously ratified a landmark pact at the heart of the ex-Soviet country’s bloodiest crisis since independence. AFP PHOTO/GENYA SAVILOV © AFP

In sessions held simultaneously, the Ukrainian and European parliaments ratified association and free trade agreements on Sept. 16, nearly 10 months and a revolution after the deals were first rejected by former President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted by anti-government protesters in February as a result.

However, what many consider to be the most important provision of the association agreement, however, will be delayed. Under the agreement Ukraine is to join the European Union’s free trade zone, but in a concession to Russia it will not be allowed to join the free trade zone until 2016.

“The Heavenly Hundred and 872 brave Ukrainian fighters have died not only for Ukraine, but for us to take our rightful place in Europe,” said Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in parliament, referring to protestors and servicemen who were killed in Kyiv during the EuroMaidan Revolution and the conflict in eastern Ukraine. “There is not a single nation has paid as high a price for that since World War II.”

More than 100 people were killed during the revolution between late November 2013 and late February of this year, according to government statistics.

And some 3,000 people have been killed during the eastern conflict and more than a million displaced since the start of the government’s anti-terrorist operation in mid-April, the United Nations reported on Sept. 8. That figure includes 295 passengers who were killed when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was allegedly shot out of the sky by a rocket in July while flying over the city of Torez, Donetsk Oblast.

In the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, on Sept. 16, 355 MPs voted in favor of the agreement with 26 abstaining and none voting against. In the European Parliament, many of whose members came to Kyiv during the protests to show their support for the grassroots uprising, 535 voted for the agreement with 127 voting against and 35 abstaining.

“This is a historical moment,” said Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament. “We will continue supporting Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. These people are fighting for a better future, we are supporting the Ukrainian people in their will to make dreams of Maidan true.”

Russia has previously pushed Kyiv to join a Russian-led customs union and said it cannot be a member of both.

Critics have seen the delay of the free trade provision as Ukraine and the EU kowtowing to Russia. But not all experts agree.

“Russia wanted to change the text of the association agreement. It didn’t happen, and it was ratified as it was signed and prepared,” said Olexiy Haran a political analyst in Kyiv.

“It is a big step and something that took three presidents to achieve. It has finally been ratified and I think it is a choice of civilization,” he said.

Kyiv Post.

#Ukraine: Parliament votes to grant self-rule, amnesty to Donbas #separatists

by Oksana Grytsenko.
Ukrainian servicemen of volunteer battalions of Donbass walk past weapons captured from pro-Russian militants in the Ukrainian city of Lysychansk on July 28, 2014.Ukrainian servicemen of volunteer battalions of Donbass walk past weapons captured from pro-Russian militants in the Ukrainian city of Lysychansk on July 28, 2014. © AFP

Ukraine’s parliament supported on Sept. 16 two draft laws filed by President Petro Poroshenko aimed at temporary settling the conflict in the country’s embattled east by granting special status to the territories occupied by separatists for three years and giving amnesty to some of the Kremlin-backed rebel fighters. 

Poroshenko personally came to parliament and addressed lawmakers to persuade them to vote for the laws in order to secure peace in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

“There is no more important task for us than peace now,” Poroshenko said in his address to lawmakers as was posted on his website on Sept. 15. “These are the key points that will insure it.”

Both laws were passed by a majority of lawmakers during a closed session of parliament and were immediately slammed by critics as massive concessions to Russia.

“I have a nasty feeling over these laws,” Andriy Shevchenko, lawmaker of Batkivshchyna party wrote on his Twitter, claiming that process of voting was held with violation of procedure.

The first bill will impose a special order of local governance on the areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts that, according to the law, will be additionally specified by parliament.

The law will come into effect on the specified territories under the rule of local governments that will be elected on Dec. 7. The state obliges to guarantee the use of Russian and other local languages in these areas. It will also subsidize the development of the territories at a special budget line.

The state also obliges to help these areas to in cross-border cooperation with bordering regions of Russia. The local authorities will be allowed to create “local militia units” for keeping of public order, the law said.

The second bill will give an amnesty to rebels acting in Donetsk and Luhansk regions since Feb. 22, except those who have committed serious crimes.

The law says the amnesty will be granted to people who “participated in armed units” and also those who “participated in self-proclaimed bodies of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts or counteracted to anti-terrorist operation.”

The rebels will avoid criminal responsibility if they “released or are not keeping hostages,” and also gave out arms and explosives, and are not hampering the work of local governments. The decision of amnesty will be granted by court rulings, the law states.

A number of lawmakers and a majority of Batkivshchyna and Svoboda factions refused to vote for the laws that were broadly supported by presidential allies, including Vitaly Klitschko’s UDAR party and the traditionally pro-Russian Party of Regions and Communists.

Oleg Tiahnybok, Svoboda party leader, compared the adoption of today’s laws with the draconian law passed on Jan. 16 that limited public freedoms in the country. That bill led to mass streets protests in Kyiv’s center in January.

Yulia Tymoshenko, leader of Batkivshchyna, called the laws “humiliating and betraying.” Independent lawmaker Anatoly Hrytsenko said the board showing the results of vote was off at the moment when the two bills were voted so the lawmakers couldn’t see the voting process. “Things like that have never happened in (Verhkovna) Rada,” he said.

Lviv mayor Andriy Sadovy said if granted this special status “those guilty of deaths of thousands of Ukrainians” will first get more authority.

Earlier in the day, Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, reported that Ukrainian border guards started a preliminary examination of the territory of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts along the proposed “separation line” where a new border could be formed, according to president’s peace plan.

Kyiv Post.