Author Topic: Ukraine  (Read 10045 times)

Offline gpw11

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Ukraine
« on: Thursday, February 20, 2014, 01:27:49 PM »
Shit is really REALLY hitting the fan in Kiev right now, and as terrible as it is it is also extremely fascinating to watch.

Offline scottws

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #1 on: Thursday, February 20, 2014, 02:22:00 PM »
I wonder what Putin told the leaders of Ukraine to get them to terminate their attempts at integration with the EU.  As a Ukrainian citizen, I'm pretty sure I'd want my country to align with the EU rather than Russia too.

Offline Cools!

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #2 on: Thursday, February 20, 2014, 04:42:10 PM »
I wonder what Putin told the leaders of Ukraine to get them to terminate their attempts at integration with the EU.  As a Ukrainian citizen, I'm pretty sure I'd want my country to align with the EU rather than Russia too.

The depends on which part of the country you live in. The West is more for joining the EU, while the East prefers to keep closer ties with Russia. It's been like this for a long time because of the way the region has been split up between the regional players over the centuries. The East has also seen far more industrialization since the Russian Empire conquered the region from the Ottomans and it's always been an important part of the Russian hegemony. The two sides even have different religions: West is Catholic, East is Orthodox.

Having said that, which side to join isn't what started all the protesting. The real reason is that people are tired of government corruption. Pro Europe or pro Russia; it's just a matter of picking the lesser evil. It's just different gangs. Just recently I heard a story from a guy who moved to Canada recently about what it's like to have a business in Ukraine these days: one side takes power and it's just a different gang you have to pay off to stay in business. Pro European politicians are just as corrupt as any other. The last straw for this guy was when he was told he has to hand over his business because he got too big and was told that he should consider himself lucky that he is still alive. I've heard plenty of similar stories.

Why is it so bad right now? Because Ukraine is in a horrible economical situation and needs someone to bail them out. Either Europe or Russia. Russia is apparently willing to give more than Europe. The country is divided and every election has been really close. Europe has been working on Ukraine since the fall of the USSR and the last decades have seen a lot of pro Europe leaders, in particular Viktor Yushchenko (Orange revolution). Currently there's a pro Russia leader, Viktor Yanukovych. The problem is that no matter their "allegiance" to EU or Russia they all ended up pocketing whatever monetary support they got for themselves and their friends. Then there's the constant bickering and power struggles within the same party and a lot of politicians have served jail time for corruption of some sort. Who is currently serving depends on who is in power.

Maybe you remember Yulia Tymoshenko? The politician that is currently in jail and how a lot of countries in the West think it's wrong and what not? Well she was the PM under Yushchenko (and also Yanukovych) and people say that she was just as corrupt as either of them.

Ukraine is very important for Russia. Russia has always considered it part of its dominion. To most Russians Ukraine is part of them. They don't even really consider it a different culture. Even the name of the country is "neighbour" in the sense that it's just a nearby area of Russia. A lot of Russians feel that a lot of effort and sacrifice went into helping the region over the decades, in particular the eastern part of the country. Wether it's when Imperial Russia freed the region from the Ottoman Empire, the siege of Sevastopol during the Crimean War, WW2, etc.. The West has always been a bit anti-USSR by the way. Many people in the region even sided with Nazi Germany as a way to liberate Ukraine from the Soviets (and Jews, Gypsies, etc.).

Russia has always preferred to have a buffer between itself and it's enemies so losing Ukraine to Europe is a big deal. The same reason is part of why Russia got so involved in Syria. It's a threat to the stability of Russia as a whole as any major conflict could spark regional conflicts in contested areas in Russia, like the Caucasus.

The battle between the opposition (which happens to be pro Europe) and the current government in Kiev has been the most televised. It's just a battle zone at this point. But there has been protesting in other regions as well, including the pro Russian West where it's mainly been about corruption. While cops and soldiers shooting at people is impossible to justify from the side of the government the opposition has hardly been peaceful either. It's hard to call it that when you have gangs going around robbing and burning places all around the city, pictures and videos of people throwing molotov cocktails at cops and whoever is pro-gov (there was a recent case of a cop having his eyes cut out and then left to die). There are hooligans, opportunists and sadist on both sides.

One particular point that the media hasn't mentioned a lot is that one of the opposition parties is a Neo Nazi block that wants to get rid of all the "filth" in Ukraine and there have been instances of their members going around and beating up anyone that might look different.

So yeah, it's a mess and it's hard to pick a side.

Offline gpw11

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #3 on: Thursday, February 20, 2014, 09:10:25 PM »
The whole situation seems fucked. My (very limited) understanding of the situation leading directly up to this is that the protests started out peaceful in opposition to the deal with the EU falling through.  It gets a bit fuzzy there as it seems the government clamped down HARD, making protesting illegal, which obviously just made the protests blow up and eventually violence sprung forth....which has been gaining momentum since. I've read quite a bit about the fascist groups having a large presence in the crowds and the instigating, but the extent of how much of that is true seems to depend on who you listen to.

It's a shit show with violence blowing up in Kiev and protestors, as well as police reinforcements being trucked in from other cities at this point. Live rounds being fired at protestors, Molotov cocktails, police and protestors being maimed....just fucked.   What we do know is that police snipers are firing live rounds into people and there have been (possibly substantiated reports) of them baiting medics...which is atrocious. The wealthy and many high ranking officials have chartered flights out of the country...which have been turned around from at least Vienna.  An overnight truce was declared, which both sides ignored - leading to the worst day of violence yet, and there are reports of at least 75 rioters dead yesterday (today) and upwards of 60 police agents missing/taken.  God knows how much of this information is correct, but to watch it unfold is chilling - more than anything I can think of this is unfolding before the world's eyes. 

A picture of a civilian "medic" smiling in uniform, followed by one of her clutching her neck - covered in blood just hours later.  Protestors blockading a train.  Barricades erected in other cities with what seems like military personnel supporting the protestors.  Tweets that an emergency meeting of parliament has passed creed that all official forces are to cease fire and stand down, only to be followed shortly after by tweets that violence was still erupting throughout the main square. Videos of groups of people sheltering from sniper fire with scrap metal riot shields, videos of a police officer with his eye gouged out, being protected from the mob by a group of protestors.

It's absolutely crazy to see as everything is right out there and has been for months...you could see the escalation from the first rumors of police violence, the first rocks being thrown.  There was video a month ago (weeks ago) of police being hit with Molotovs, and an absolutely devastating video of police taking an injured man out of a hospital while doctors protested - a terrifying look of uncertainty and fear in the man's eyes...he may or may not have been one of the ones found frozen to death in a nearby forest.

There's so much we see it's hard to see what's actually going on but one thing is for sure is that no one has control anymore.

Offline Cools!

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #4 on: Thursday, February 20, 2014, 10:16:45 PM »
Yeah, it just escalated so fast. It's really hard to figure out who did what because it all depends on which side you listen to. Scary stuff.

Offline Pugnate

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #5 on: Saturday, March 01, 2014, 12:56:17 PM »
So Russia has conducted a 'covert' invasion of Ukraine. Read it:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/28/vladimir-putin-crimean-coup-russia-ukraine


Offline Cools!

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #6 on: Saturday, March 01, 2014, 02:14:14 PM »
I'll comment on that article later on when I have the time. There are a few points they decided (or are not aware of) to omit which I think can explain why the current intervention is almost a must for Russia.

Edit: Actually, forget it. I've discussed this matter already enough in private and I'm tired of repeating myself.
« Last Edit: Saturday, March 01, 2014, 04:14:08 PM by Cools! »

Offline Cobra951

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #7 on: Saturday, March 01, 2014, 06:36:44 PM »
I can't imagine Russia letting Kiev go.  I can imagine it even less than the US letting go of any part of Alaska to the Russian side.

Offline Cools!

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #8 on: Saturday, March 01, 2014, 08:31:42 PM »
Nope. Just too close. There are pro-Russia protests in a bunch of the cities in the East right now. People asking for support, raising Russian flags (replacing the Ukrainian one in a few instances), etc. Russia might not be able to get all the way to Kiev, but the East is ripe for the taking.

Offline Cools!

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #9 on: Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 04:36:18 PM »
Here's an article that talks about the legality of the current situation in Ukraine.

Offline Cools!

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #10 on: Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 09:27:11 PM »
And here are some quotes from Putin's speech after the referendum in Crimea. Think what you will of the guy, but those are definitely some strong words.
« Last Edit: Thursday, March 20, 2014, 09:51:19 AM by Cools! »

Offline Cobra951

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #11 on: Thursday, March 20, 2014, 08:20:27 AM »
So far, we really have no business threatening Putin with sanctions or anything else.  We'd have to indict ourselves for some of our military actions so far this century before we could indict Russia without hypocrisy.  What they're doing is certainly much more legitimate than what Georgy boy did in Iraq.  A lot less destructive too.

Offline K-man

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #12 on: Thursday, March 20, 2014, 09:26:23 AM »
Yeah it's pretty difficult for me to harumph this deal because of the US' behavior in the past 10 years (and, if we're being honest, way beyond).

Offline Pugnate

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #13 on: Thursday, March 20, 2014, 01:58:10 PM »
He has had an election conducted there where the majority have made their feelings known.

Offline Cools!

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #14 on: Monday, March 24, 2014, 09:59:34 AM »
I had a chance to photograph an anti-fascism rally the other day which is basically the pro-Russia stance which claims that the government of Ukraine is illegitimate, that the right sector has taken power (7 members of the current government are part of the Svaboda party which is considered ultra-nationalist), that discrimination is taking place (both of Russians and other minorities) and that in this Canada should think twice before sending money as support (our Prime Minister Mr. Harper was the first G8 leader to visit Kiev recently).

It wasn't a particular big gathering and for the most part the atmosphere was positive. I wouldn't call the Russian community in Toronto particular strong or unified at the moment. I would say there is more division among Russian speakers on this matter than in the Ukrainian community and this particular rally represented one of the many current positions and opinions. There were a few provocateurs that tried to derail the rally. They pretended to be part of the group but had anti-Putin signs, or the Russian flag with a swastika on it, etc. Silly stuff really and for the most part it was quickly handled by the police.

Having said that I found the overall message a bit weak and a few things were definitely lost in translation. For example, at one point the group chanted "Russian should be an official language of Ukraine" which without context is really confusing. It should've been more like "Russian should not be banned in Ukraine and Russian speakers shouldn't be discriminated against". I think relating it to the status of French in Canada would've made more sense to Canadians.

Also, as a minor gripe. I think if you stand for something then you shouldn't be afraid to hide your face behind big glasses, etc. Some of the people who were talking where doing that and I found that a bit annoying. The provocateurs of course had glasses, fake beards, etc.

Things got more interesting when I got home and put up the photos on a local Russian speaking Facebook page (that's who I was asked to shoot the event for). There were a bunch of people that agreed with the message of the rally, others (vocally) disagreed, that's not really want surprised me. What made me go "huh?" was when people started asking if there was some sort of message in the images, basically accusing me of being biased or even encouraging provocateurs because I left a few pictures showing them (with a caption saying that they were provocateurs). I guess some people have forgotten what photojournalism is about?

I ended up adding a short disclaimer to the gallery stating that I was invited to photographer the event and did so in the capacity of [unbiased] media, hence photos of provocateurs and everything else that happened. Also mentioned that if I get a chance I will attend other rallies (meaning anti-Russian annexation, pro-EU Ukraine integration, etc.).

Funny thing is that after I put up the photos I even had to reassure some of my friends about my neutral position in this conflict because apparently by putting photos of a rally puts me on their side. Heck, some local Russian speaking publications don't want to publish my photos or cover the event because they've accepted a different point of view. Well that's just swell. :)
« Last Edit: Monday, March 24, 2014, 01:50:05 PM by Cools! »

Offline Cools!

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #15 on: Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 03:29:52 PM »
Latest madness from Canada:

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress is trying to get people to sign a petition and pressure the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) to ban Russian TV channels in Canada. RT is the big one, but there are a bunch of smaller local channels as well that would be affected as well. Basically they don't like what is being reported.

Now in a perfect world this would never fly, unless of course some channel is breaking the rules (like hate speech, etc.), but since the Canadian government picked the side of the new Ukrainian government it has evangelized people who agree with that point of view into attacking anyone who they think disagrees with their point of view.

I really hope this means nothing, but you never know. One of the provinces (Manitoba) banned the sale of Russian vodka and I honestly wouldn't be surprised if other provinces join in or the ban extends to other goods. Personally, this doesn't really affect me much, just seems like such hypocrisy. I mean why should we punish local businesses and a whole community for what is happening on the other side of the world? A lot of people speak Russian or have a business catered towards that community. That doesn't mean they agree with Putin! :P And heck, if we have such harsh stances, why aren't we banning Iranian or Chinese TV channels or goods already?

Anyway, I'm sure things will get more personal, after all, I did work on a Russian festival. It actually did get personal with my dad last week, but I don't want to get into that.

Offline Pugnate

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #16 on: Thursday, March 27, 2014, 12:47:48 AM »
Seriously, what the fuck. Journalism is so messed up.

Offline gpw11

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Re:
« Reply #17 on: Thursday, March 27, 2014, 07:53:02 AM »
As far as I know the Manitoba thing didn't go through ( or maybe it was Saskatchewan was thinking of dong it as well and rightly decided against it).  In either cases, people will put forward the stupidest ideas and it constantly amazes me.

Offline Cools!

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #18 on: Thursday, March 27, 2014, 10:27:21 AM »
Seriously, what the fuck. Journalism is so messed up.

What journalism? I've had one local newspaper tell me that they don't want to report on anything that has to do with the side they disagree with. Yup, straight from the horse's head.

Quote from: gpw11
As far as I know the Manitoba thing didn't go through ( or maybe it was Saskatchewan was thinking of dong it as well and rightly decided against it).  In either cases, people will put forward the stupidest ideas and it constantly amazes me.

Thanks for the clarification. And yes, it's utter stupidity right now.

Offline gpw11

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #19 on: Thursday, March 27, 2014, 10:29:50 PM »
After reading this post I looked at some of the UCC posts/articles and it makes me think a little bit. I don't know a ton about the situation by any means, and I don't fully imagine I'd get a non-biased overview from either the UCC or the Russian Canadians in support of the Crimean occupation/referendum (Sidetrack: I don't want anything explained to me here.  Seriously no offence Cools, but if I'm going to try to pull information on the situation I'd be looking for sources that are no way at all tied to the Ukrainian OR Russian communities.  Not a knock against your skills at non-biased journalism by any means, but just that as a matter of habit I'll try to refer to sources removed from the conflict entirely).

Huge sidetrack, but what I was going to say was I always kind of look at these groups and see their "Calls to Action" to people outside their group and think "Oh, fuck no! I really don't want to get involved in your shit!"   Which is kind of a jackass way to be, but in this case it stands out more than anything.  I look at what I know and really have no idea - it's even less clear cut than Serbia in my mind.

It's a crazy situation and I feel for you Cools because you're undoubtedly put in a tough spot. Were the Ukrainian and Russian communities (in Canada) somewhat tight knit before this?

Offline Cools!

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #20 on: Thursday, March 27, 2014, 11:56:25 PM »
No offence taking. The situation is indeed very complicated and it's hard to find out what exactly is happening (or happened) in the region. My own opinion on the matter has changed a bit over the weeks, though I'm still largely neutral. There is just no "right" or "good" side in this situation.

I'm put in a tough spot mainly because of my dad's involvement in the community and his own interest in the situation. This is all everyone talks about now so it's hard to avoid. As a result I get to hear about this on a daily basis. Personally, if it weren't for my dad's work it wouldn't affect me much at all, even if I were to pick a particular side, as I've always maintained my distance from the Russian speaking community.

To answer your question, there is the Ukrainian community and then there is the Russian speaking Ukrainian community. The large Ukrainian communities that you find particularly in the Prairies are mostly descendants of people who fled the country around the time of the Russian revolution. They tend to be very pro-West and have a deep dislike of the old Soviet regime and Russia in general. The more recent immigrants from Ukraine tend to be predominately Russian speakers and usually consider themselves part of the greater Russian-speaking community.

Anyone from the former Soviet republics and even Warsaw pact countries who speaks Russian can be considered part of the Russian community. There were never national divides. I would say up to half of those that attended the old Russian festival where from Ukraine and a lot of people have family spread across Russia and Ukraine.

That "union" of different nationalities is now being tested as people are forced to pick a side. It's already causing a lot of tension. People are complaining about particular newspapers who are promoting a particular side, radio hosts are getting hate mail for being biased, Russian speakers being told to not shop at particular stores, threats of boycotts of events, residents of apartment buildings arguing among each other, etc. And I didn't even mention what is happening online! :P

From an outsider perspective it's all very immature and stupid. I don't care which side you've picked, just be respectful of someone else's opinion.

Offline Cools!

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #21 on: Monday, May 05, 2014, 07:15:18 PM »
Footage from the "Odessa Massacre" which was an incident that took place a few days ago. Just messed up. Graphic content obviously.

Odessa Massacre

Offline gpw11

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #22 on: Tuesday, May 06, 2014, 09:07:06 PM »
I don't know about that site, but holy fuck.  I hadn't heard about this at all either.

But seriously, fuck those comments.

Offline Cools!

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #23 on: Tuesday, May 06, 2014, 11:31:25 PM »
Yup.

Here's a video on what's happening in Donetsk after this:


Offline Cobra951

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #24 on: Wednesday, May 07, 2014, 08:01:38 AM »
I find it impossible to pick a side on this conflict, and the video only bolstered the feeling that no one is truly in the right here.  There are (at least) 2 completely incompatible factions, who are now willing to engage in whatever violence is necessary to defeat the other(s).  When no one wants to be reasonable, war becomes inevitable.

The notable moments of the video, for me:

* A woman who wants to kill the opposition in Kiev, calling them "Nazis", while at the same time calling Obama a "black bastard".

* A (para)military group attempting to intimidate a bank into not meeting its financial obligations to certain parties.

No good can come of this.  Good luck, Cools.  Keep us informed as best you can, and stay well.

Offline Cools!

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #25 on: Monday, June 23, 2014, 05:29:45 PM »
Yeah, it's strange Cobra.

I only hear things here and there, mostly stuff that my dad brings up. I'm still not sure how many people in the east want to just separate or actually join Russia. Supposedly there's a seize fire right now in the region. I'm pretty sure plenty of civilians are getting in harms way, just too many images of destruction, not a lot of it covered by local media, but plenty in Russia. It's hard not to view this as an oppression of a group anymore. The group just happens to be pro-Russia or ethnic Russians. The new president instead of going to the region and seeking a diplomatic solution orders the army to "deal" with the rebels faster and starts shelling key cities. I mean, if the people there want to keep close ties with Russia or want to keep Russian as a language then let them. Give them special status, who cares, just keep them part of Ukraine because for the most part I think most people there still don't want to be part of Russia, they just want to maintain their culture and not be further "Ukrainized".

A lot of people here in West, even so called Ukrainians, aren't aware of what is going on there. The rhetoric from Kiev is that Russia is the aggressor and trying to stir things up. Putin for the most part doesn't seem to want to get involved in the conflict directly even though a lot of Russians actually favour some sort of intervention in order to help their Ukrainian "brothers". Like I mentioned before a lot of Russians view Ukraine as part of their culture and identity. Some see Ukraine as part of Russia itself, others would go so far as to question wether Ukrainian is even a separate nationality. Many people blame the ultra-nationalists in the west of the country for all the unrest.

Anyway, I'll conclude this with a bit of a "wtf". Recently there were protests in front of the Russia embassy in Kiev (the embassy is covered in bullet holes, Ukrainians say the Russians did it themselves) and the protesters came up with a song that has the line "Putin Huylo, La la la la!", which translates to "Putin is a dickhead...". On one occasion the Ukrainian foreign minister was there chanting it as well (he's now been sent to the States as an ambassador). Anyway, the phrase and the song have now becoming popular. I've seen a bunch of photos of people holding signs with it (one had kids in it as well). Recently there has even been an incident in Canada were a local Ukrainian group put the phrase on a cake and sent it to a Russian children's centre (here's a video). Umm... ok, very civilized...