Philosophical thoughts from Kyiv – 20 March 2014

portrait_wynnyckyjBy Mychailo Wynnyckyj, Associate Professor of the Department of Sociology and Kyiv-Mohyla Business School,  Director of the Doctoral School, National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”

Today is a noteworthy day. Exactly 120 days ago a few hundred people set up a tiny protest camp on Kyiv’s Independence Square. On November 21, this small group of people was outraged at the sudden about-face of the Azarov government, and its refusal to sign the EU-Ukraine Association Treaty. I returned to Kyiv on Sunday November 24 (after a short teaching assignment in Lviv) to participate in a fairly substantial demonstration: the first Sunday “viche”. We were pleased that upwards of 50 thousand came out to protest on that day. How far we’ve come since!

Looking back on the past 120 days, I feel like I’ve lived 5 years! I suspect many others feel the same…

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Russian military mined the main gas pipe in the Crimea. Danger of a man-made disaster at the peninsula

Military intruders unearthed the main gas pipeline near Armiansk in Crimea. The security zone of this line is normally 200 meters. Yet, the outsiders have dug in an armored transport vehicle 5 meters from the gas line and laid mines next to it. Thus, any bullet or shrapnel that hits the pipe would cause an explosion. Gas engineers are not being allowed to enter the the site and are being kept out by gunmen. They are being told that it is an exclusion zone. Senior managers of “Chornomornaftogaz” urged Ukrainian and local Crimean authorities to take the “little green men” away from the local security zone. Moreover, parallel to this pipe a more powerful line lies, “Kharkivtransgaz”. ” If, God forbid, a gas pipeline explodes in this place, the exclusion zone will become a devastated wasteland and additionally, most of the Crimea will be left without any gas”, said Serhiy Golovin, Chairman of the Board at “Chornomornaftogaz “. The Russian military could trigger a man-made disaster in the Crimea.

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Sheremeta: De-escalation of the conflict in the Crimea is essential, and the agreement with the EU can be signed after the elections

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The Minister of Economy is working on bringing the flow of capital/finances to Ukraine and reducing the staff of the Ministry’s administration.

“Today, the principal task of the government is to de-escalate the conflict in the Crimea and to start peaceful negotiations with Russia”, said Pavlo Sheremeta, the Minister of Economy. He has stressed that regarding the economy, it is now important to ensure the receipt of financial resources for Ukraine.

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What is the “Law on Languages” and why it is a problem? (Briefing for English-speaking friends)

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By Yuriy Dzhygyr

This law (“On Regional Languages”), introduced in July 2012, states that communities with over 10% of any ethnic minority in their population may declare the language of this minority as an official regional language for their region. This means that this region would use it locally as a formal alternative to Ukrainian, e.g. for bureaucratic procedures.

In theory, this is a brilliant idea, but things get more complicated once we look beyond the surface. The approval of the law spurred massive protests, and although I did not participate in these protests, I personally was truly mad. I always thought of this Law as nicely packaged cheating, and here is why.

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Why Putin and Russians are so emotional and obsessed about Ukraine?

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By Vitalii Usenko

I did a little research to try to understand why Ukraine is so personal to Putin and the Russians, and why it creates such emotions from the psychological and existential point of view. Such explanations as Putin’s obsession with conspiracy theories, his preoccupation with something called Eurasia (Timothy Snyder, Ukraine: The Haze of Propaganda) the kleptocratic nature of the Putin regime (“Want Putin’s Attention On Ukraine? Follow His Money” by Paul Roderick Gregory for Forbes) or the all-consuming horror that Maidan can happen in Russia, are all true, but these are only some facets of the more complex issue.

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A major request from the Russian-speaking population of Vologda region

Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich,

We have learned that you want to send troops to Crimea, to protect the rights of the Russian-speaking population.

In this regard, we have a major request – send troops to the Vologda region. We’re all entirely Russian-speaking and our rights are very much infringed. Our patients cannot get the drugs and treatment they need, the quality of education keeps declining every year, clubs and children’s groups keep closing, and our agriculture is almost destroyed. We’re all suffering.

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Statement of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations following a meeting with Acting President, Oleksandr Turchinov

 

1. We express our support for the legitimate government of Ukraine and call on it to fully restore constitutional order and affirm citizens’ political, economic and other fundamental rights and freedom. We note, in particular, the urgent need for a decisive, consistent and systematic fight against corruption, which eats away at our society and violates the tenets of our religion.

2. We affirm once again our statement of 22 February 2014, which categorically condemns any sort of discussion of a potential division of our homeland and any attempts at separatism and emphasizes “the territorial integrity of Ukraine, whose independence is a gift from God and is valued by our entire nation, which is why  have no right to allow for its separation, as this would be  a sin before God and future generations.”

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Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs, K. Shanmugam at the Parliament Meeting on March, 5th, 2014

Yesterday Singapore Parliament held a meeting where the Russian military aggression in Crimea was discussed. Here is the speech of K. Shanmugam, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Law.

Madam Speaker,
1. I thank the Honourable Members for their comments.

2. The task for MFA is to chart a course in an uncertain world, a course that best protects our country, our economy and advances our people’s interests.

3. How do we do it? First, build and maintain strong international network of friends; and actively participate in international organisations which are relevant to us; and support key regional organisations and platforms like ASEAN, EAS, and so on, and maintain strong relationships with our neighbours to the extent possible. I say that because it depends on principles of mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty, and interests.

4. These principles have to be applied in the real world – a world of dynamic flux where geopolitical relationships change; often they change very quickly.

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Setting the Record Straight on Ukraine (March 4, 2014) – Embassy of the United States, Moscow

The Embassy of the United States in Russia has issued a statement with responses to the claims made by the President of Russia V. Putin during the press conference on the 4th of May, 2014.

Claim:  We need to return to the February 21 agreement, which the opposition failed to implement.

Response:  As part of the agreement, the Ukrainian Parliament (the Rada) passed a bill to return Ukraine to the 2004 Constitution. Under the terms of the agreement, Yanukovych had 24 hours to sign this legislation, after which the protesters would need to evacuate certain government buildings and take other de-escalatory steps.  Instead of signing the legislation, Yanukovych left Kyiv and ultimately Ukraine.  Yanukovych is the one who failed to implement the February 21 agreement. Yanukovych’s party has moved on, voting in favor of legislation removing him from office and establishing a new government.

–          Ambassador Power:  “It was Yanukovych who failed to abide by the terms of that agreement, fleeing Kyiv, and ultimately Ukraine.”

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Russian culture centers representatives in Ukraine oppose Kremlin agression

Representatives of Russian culture centers in Ukraine held a press conference on March 5 to express their opposition to the aggressive policy of the Kremlin to “defend” the Russian population, reports Espreso.TV.

The press conference was attended by Yuriy Vakulenko, CEO of the National Museum of Russian Art, Ludmyla Hubianuri, director of the Mikhail Bulgakov Museum, Natalia Tyshayeva, director of the Pushkin Museum, Mykhaylo Reznikovych, general and artistic director of the L. Ukrayinka National Theatre of Russian Drama, and others, reports Espreso. TV.

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