Friday, October 31, 2014

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

(VOA)  Ukraine's interior minister, Arsen Avakov, said 91 people "in positions of leadership" have been fired from the ministry, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Russian governments.

Avakov, writing Wednesday on Facebook, said the dismissals targeted department heads, including the ministry's regional directorates in Kyiv and Donetsk.

The dismissals were linked to a new anti-graft law that targets civil servants who held federal or regional positions under ousted president Viktor Yanukovych. His successor, pro-Western President Petro Poroshenko, signed the so-called "lustration" legislation into law earlier this month.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Russia Delivers Crucial Cargo to Space Station After US-Made Rocket Explodes

The robotic Progress 57 spacecraft blasted off rom the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan atop a Russian Soyuz rocket at 3:09 a,m. ET to begin its space station mission. The spacecraft linked up with the orbiting lab six hours afer a trouble free trip.

Watch a video:

Good voters, not such good guys

(Economist)  TO ALL appearances, Ukraine’s parliamentary election on October 26th was a triumph. Reformists mostly won and voters rebuked the far right and far left. Western allies heaped praise on the pro-European, pro-democratic results. Yet Ukraine remains troubled and deeply divided.

In an upset, the People’s Front party of Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the prime minister, narrowly beat President Petro Poroshenko’s bloc by 22.2% to 21.8%. This means that Ukraine will keep two power centres, as Mr Yatsenyuk seems sure to stay in office. Mr Poroshenko had hoped to win a majority and install a loyalist instead. Now the People’s Front and the Poroshenko Bloc must form a coalition, probably with the third-placed Samopomich (self-help) party, led by the mayor of Lviv. The six parties that reached a 5% threshold will fill half of the 450-seat parliament (Rada) from their party lists. The rest will come from districts where deputies are elected directly and only later join party factions.

The vote reflected the western regions’ power in the new Ukraine. Turnout was highest in the west, and relatively low overall at 52% (down from 60% in May’s presidential election). In Lviv 70% of voters showed up, against only 40% in Odessa. In Ukrainian-controlled areas of the Donbas turnout was just 32%. Neither Crimea nor the separatist-held eastern regions voted (their 27 seats in the Rada will stay empty).

The Opposition Bloc, a revamped version of Viktor Yanukovych’s reviled Party of Regions, got into the Rada, after finishing fourth, with 9%. The party won much of the south-east—Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Zaporizhia and even Dnipropetrovsk. Joining them in parliament will be some 60-70 directly elected deputies aligned with the old regime. Their presence will incense first-time politicians drawn from the Maidan movement who fought hard to oust Mr Yanukovych. It will also upset Ukraine’s volunteer battalions, including commanders of three powerful anti-rebel paramilitary groups who were elected.
At stake is the survival not just of the new government, but of Ukraine itself. The economy, teetering on the verge of collapse, depends on foreign aid that is linked to reforms. This week the EU promised more help. But reforms are likely only to increase the pain for people ravaged by war and facing a gas-starved winter.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ukraine crisis: Russia to recognise rebel vote in Donetsk and Luhansk

Ukraine has urged Russia to put pressure on the separatists not to hold rival elections in the east.

But Mr Lavrov said "we expect the elections will go ahead as agreed, and we will of course recognise the results".

Monday, October 27, 2014

Best Video of Ukraine Election Campaign

Now that yesterday's election in Ukraine has produced another inconclusive result for my ancestral homeland, I would like to nominate the best campaign video that I have seen in quite a while, with Darth Vader marching up the Potemkin Steps to reclaim Odessa.  There is something in the cynicism and covertness of the video that seems to capture the zeitgeist of the country.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Scandal in Estonia

Finance minister J├╝rgen Ligi (Reform Party), insulted education minister Jevgeni Ossinovski (Social Democrat) for being "a son of immigrants".

Saturday, October 25, 2014

In September the coup regime in Kyiv staged a media show with patriotic Mariupol citizens building defenses against advancing pro-Russian separatists.  This sham was picked up across Western media, showing a heroic Ukrainian resistance against Russian aggression.  It is now evident that quite the opposite was happening, with Mariupol residents blocking the roads to Ukrainian military units forcing themselves into the city, as this amateur video very clearly illustrates.   A clear indication of how deluded people in the West have become about the situation in Ukraine.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ukraine’s Home Front Grows War Weary

 (Daily Beast)  LVIV, Ukraine—Indifference was what Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines found most painful, and indifference is what provokes their parents, struggling for their rights at home, to mount angry protests.

On a recent afternoon, a group of mothers and fathers blocked three streets around the regional administration building in Lviv, in a part of the country known for its fierce nationalism. They protested against the continuation of the ATO, or the Anti Terrorist Operation, as the war is known in Ukraine. A ceasefire was in effect, but the Ukrainian army was still fighting with pro-Russian separatist forces in the east.

A caravan of trams stuck in the middle of the medieval city waited in line for the protest to end. Pedestrians passed, paying no heed to the groups of relatives who held up signs that screamed for help to save the lives of soldiers in the east. Around the corner, flocks of tourists enjoyed the last warm rays of sun, the savoring hot chocolates and coffees on verandas under colorful autumn trees.
Last Monday Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko saw dozens of Ukrainian National Guard troops marching toward his office in Kiev to demand demobilization. The soldiers refused to go back to their barracks, even under a threat of prosecution.

But full demobilization was out of the question, as Poroshenko made clear in one of his recent interviews given to the local press. “What do you want me to do, to declare demobilization during military actions? No! To let the army go? To leave the country without defense? No, this is never going to happen,” said Poroshenko, leaving no shadow of a doubt.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Rosaviation Calls on German Intelligence to Publish Information on MH17 Crash

MOSCOW, October 20 (RIA Novosti) - Rosaviation has called on the intelligence of Germany to publish the information that reportedly shows the involvement of either of the parties in the crash of the MH17 flight, Rosaviation Head Aleksander Neradko said Monday.

Human Rights Watch Publishes Damning Video of Cluster Bomb Use by Kiev

Human Rights Watch, which together with Amnesty International are the two most authoritative human rights group in the world, published a video yesterday on their youtube channel detailing their accusation against Kiev that it used cluster bombs, banned in 114 countries because of their indiscriminate destructive nature.  
The video charges that cluster bombs were used against civilians in East Ukraine by Kiev, saying that this "violates the laws of war, and may amount to war crimes.
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