Russian Writers in the Ukraine Speak Out

Originally posted at Three Percent: a resource for international literature at the University of Rochester

 

This morning, after reading my post on Ukrainian literature, the translator/writer/editor Tanya Paperny passed along the following letter, which is signed by twenty-one Russian-language writers living in Kharkov, the second-largest city in Ukraine. I think it’s important that more people have a chance to read this, so I’m posting it here.

On March 1, the Council of the Russian Federation backed the Russian President’s appeal to take exhaustive measures to protect Russians in Ukraine, going as far as the introduction of Russian armed forces onto Ukrainian territory. On that same day, in the regional capitals of Western Ukraine, pro-Russian rallies instigated by city authorities took place. Participants in the rallies in Kharkov, including people who had been brought in on buses with Russian numbers, stormed the regional administration building and beat up the Euromaidan supporters inside, including the famous writer Serhiy Zhadan (he was taken to the hospital with a fractured skull, a concussion, and a possible broken nose). A Russian citizen and resident of Moscow climbed onto the regional administration building and installed a Russian flag.

Officially, the Federation’s Council is guided by the alleged reports of numerous infringements upon the rights of Russians in Ukraine. If such reports exist, they should be made public and each one thoroughly studied.

We, Russian writers of Kharkov, want our voices to be heard, too: at work and elsewhere, we freely communicate in Russian, even with our Ukrainian colleagues. In any case, the questions under discussion about linguistics or nationality cannot be reasons for military intervention.

We, Russian writers of Kharkov and citizens of Ukraine, don’t need the military protection of another State. We don’t want another State—hiding behind the rhetoric of protecting our interests—to drive its troops into our city and our country, risking the lives of our friends and relatives. All we need is peace and a calm life. And the decision by the Russian Federation and its military invasion is a real threat to this possibility.

Original Post  Read more of this post

Russia in the Crimea — What Are Others to Do?

We in America, in our normally self-obsessed way, turn almost every event in the world to the classic Joan River’s observation — enough about you, let’s get back to me!  So the punditocracy on American TV has leapt into the ranks of macho-posturing uber-males blaming Obama for what is happening. [Few have mentioned W’s hands off posture when Russian invaded Georgia in 2008 as the signal that gave the green light through which Putin is now driving his tanks.]

While sharing with everyone the worry for the lives of those up against the Russian tanks it is worth remembering that many other countries and peoples have an interest in the strategy, tactics and outcomes of the next weeks.

Georgia   [Who’s former President is in Kiev –who predicted this invasion of the Crimea– sharing his 2008 experience with the Russians.]

Azerbaijan

Turkey

Bulgaria

Moldova and especially Transnistria

Germany

Financial Markets – and especially Russian stocks

Russia Rushin’ To Crimea

Let’s see, if I remember correctly, it was US President Ronald Reagan who invaded the island of Grenada under the pretext of immediate danger to US students studying there.  Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia under the flag of protecting Germans there.  Vladimir Putin’s saddling up his armored columns to protect the Russians in the Crimea, “endangered” by the civil unrest in the Ukraine, should come as small surprise, therefore.  Perhaps surprise is not the right word: opportunity to burnish the tarnished display of force and violence is surely appropriate.

In all places and times the movement of the armed might of the powerful against those with small means of defense offends our sense of justice and proportionality.  Today, in the Crimea and Ukraine fear of disaster is high because so many people are involved, with thousands locked into opposing beliefs and loyalties.  The several months long standoff in Kiev has created a very combustible citizenry, as we have all seen. The Russian speakers in the Crimea — home of an enormous Russian naval base– who were given Russian passports not so long ago have loyalties which can hardly be called divided.  How events may ricochet if Russia imposes martial law in this uneasy province of the Ukraine is anyone’s guess.  What isn’t a guess is that blood will flow.

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine — As Russian armed forces effectively seized control of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula on Saturday, the Russian Parliament granted President Vladimir V. Putin the authority he sought to use military force in response to the deepening instability in Ukraine.

The authorization cited a threat to the lives of Russian citizens and soldiers stationed in Crimea and other parts of Ukraine, and provided a blunt answer to President Obama, who on Friday pointedly warned Russia to respect Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty.

Even before Mr. Putin’s statement in Moscow, scores of heavily armed soldiers had tightened their grip on the Crimean capital, Simferopol, surrounding government buildings, shuttering the airport, and blocking streets, where they deployed early Friday. NY Times

A Ukrainian soldier tries to persuade Russian troops to move away from a Ukrainian military base in Balaklava, Crimea on Saturday. Photograph: Anton Pedko/EPA

A Ukrainian soldier tries to persuade Russian troops to move away from a Ukrainian military base in Balaklava, Crimea on Saturday. Photograph: Anton Pedko/EPA

The rumors on Saturday that the previous Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, recently released from prison, may be going to Moscow to talk to Putin is a) unverified, b) might be helpful in coming to a less violent backing down, and c) might sell out her now radicalized former supporters in the Ukraine.

The US Congress is almost surely going to bollocks up whatever hopes of calming down remain [and here.]  If only the right wingers of both countries could square off somewhere removed from the rest of us — say Siberia or the high plains of North Dakota– and have at it….

For a good overview of some of the possibles, see Talking Points Memo.

Unquestionably, we’ve got a dangerous and unpredictable situation unfolding in Ukraine – and a taste of the reinforcing mix of authoritarian tendencies and aggressive behavior that has persistently characterized Russia through the eras of autocracy to totalitarianism and on to the present one of pseudo-democracy. That said, we shouldn’t be blind to the downsides of the current situation for Russia.  read on…

What Josh Marshall doesn’t get into, as most commentators don’t, in his discussion of the strategic and power implications, is the people themselves and what they will suffer — from changed governments, police forces, propaganda outlets, access to resources to injury, imprisonment and death.

In The Ukraine

Two post compromise posts worth seeing

Agreement in Ukraine: 12 Things You Should Know

An agreement was brokered by EU leaders between Ukraine’s ruling party and the opposition. Here are twelve points you should know as the country goes forward.

  1. A transitional government will take over in the next ten days. Executive powers are due to be taken over by the new speaker of the parliment, Oleksandr Turchynov, a member of Tymoshenko’s Fatherland party.
  2. New presidential elections will take place on May 25, 2015. Yanukovych has been impeached, accused of human rights abuses, and declared “unable to carry out his duties” by the parliment. The vote was unanimous. Yanukovych has responded by saying that he is the “legitimately elected president” and that he will not resign.
  3. Ukraine will return to the 2004 constitution – which gave Ukraine a strong parliament and a weak president.
  4. Yulia Tymoshenko has been freed from prison. She and her party seem to be rapidly gaining in power as events unfold.
  5. Read On

Ukrainian Smears and Stereotypes — Anne Applebaum

…this is not a fight over which language to speak or which church to attend. It is a deep, fundamental disagreement about the nature of the state, the country’s international allegiances, its legal system, its economy, its future. Given how much Ukrainians have at stake, the least we outsiders can do is avoid foolish stereotypes when discussing their fate.

Boiling Against Ruling Blocs: Ukraine, Thailand, Venezuela

KIEV, Ukraine — At least nine people were killed Tuesday in the deadliest day of the 3-month-old Ukrainian political crisis as security forces clashed with demonstrators and later stormed their encampment at Kiev’s Independence Square, local and international media reported.

… vowing to press on with their demands for Yanukovich’s resignation and parliamentary action to curb presidential powers, protesters marched toward parliament on Tuesday afternoon to press for restoration of the 2004 constitution that was amended after Yanukovich was elected in 2010. The demonstration turned angry when the Party of the Regions postponed debate on the legislative changes demanded by the opposition and police tried to block the estimated 20,000-strong procession from entering the parliament building.

LAT

BANGKOK — Four people, including a police officer, were killed and at least 64 were injured on Tuesday as antigovernment demonstrators resisted attempts by thousands of riot police officers to dislodge them from the streets surrounding the prime minister’s office.

Protesters, who for the past three months have sought to overthrow the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and have hampered elections, remained defiant as thousands of officers cleared away barricades that protesters had erected on a bridge near key government offices.

NYT

CARACAS — Tens of thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Venezuela’s capital on Tuesday after troops arrested opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez on charges of fomenting unrest against the government and violence that has killed at least four people.

White-clad demonstrators blocked traffic in the streets of Caracas as a security vehicle holding the 42-year-old Harvard-educated economist crawled at a snail’s pace after he surrendered to security forces during an opposition rally.

Lopez’s arrest could galvanize the opposition and spur more street demonstrations against President Nicolas Maduro, though there is no immediate sign the protests will topple the socialist leader.

Reuters

Ukranians Infuriated at the President Fill the Streets

As hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Kiev once again on Monday, calling for “revolution” as they blockaded government buildings, demonstrators also took to the streets in Armenia, where the government is considering signing the same Moscow-led bill that kicked off Ukraine’s mass unrest.

… as many as 350,000 people, the biggest public rally in the ex-Soviet state since the “Orange Revolution” overturned a stolen election nine years ago.

“Our plan is clear: It’s not a demonstration, it’s not a reaction. It’s a revolution,” said former interior minister Yuriy Lutsenko, speaking from the top of a bus.

Trying to Break Through Police Lines

Trying to Break Through Police Lines

Al Jazeera and more by David Herszenhorn at the NY Times…

Meanwhile, mobs are forming to go shopping in the USA….