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  • After Putin, Russia to become even greater threat to Ukraine, Kyiv analyst says
    EUROMAIDAN PRESS Paul A. Goble 2015/11/01

    Many Ukrainians and others believe that after Vladimir Putin leaves the scene, Moscow will return Crimea and the Donbas to Ukraine and relations between the two Slavic countries will normalize, Anatoly Oktisyuk says. But in fact, Russia may become an even greater threat to Ukraine than it is now.

    The reason for that sobering conclusion, the Kyiv analyst says, is to be found in the growing power and influence of the extreme right Russian nationalists in Russia, something that is becoming “a major test not only for Vladimir Putin but also for the future of Ukraine.”

    Even more than Putin, Oktisyuk says, these Russian nationalists “do not understand why “Kyiv is the mother of Russian cities’ but still up to now is the capital of an independent Ukraine;” and they are likely to act on that belief and take an even more aggressive line regarding Ukrainian statehood.

    Consequently, there is “every reason to think” that those who believe a post-Putin Russia will necessarily be better for Ukraine (or indeed for itself and the rest of the world) almost certainly are deluding themselves about the nature and even more the source of the Russian “problem.”

    Looking into the future, “after Putin, power in the Kremlin could be seized by representatives of the army and force structures or the nationalists. Either of these variants will carry with them great risks and threats for Ukraine.” Neither of these groups understands why Putin didn’t follow up his success in Crimea by seizing even more of Ukraine.

    “Over the course of the last 15 years,” Oktisyuk says, “an entire generation was raised in the spirit of Russian chauvinism and great power views. Moscow, in its opinion, is ‘the third Rome,’ the new center of a world force, which everyone must take into consideration, as they did at some point with the Soviet Union.”

    As a result, he continues, “the new Russian geopolitical paradigm by itself excludes the existence of the politically and economically independent states, which arose on the post-Soviet space” and in the first instance, these include Ukraine, whose appearance “on the world map” many in Russia and elsewhere consider “a geopolitical ‘misunderstanding.’”

    Putin’s approach to Ukraine, with all its reactive and unpredictable qualities, reflects his effort to balance among various groups in Russia – big business, the bureaucracy, the church, the army and the force structures – all of whom are united by money and power, the Ukrainian analyst argues.

    But “the ‘nationalists in principle’ are very angry” about what Putin has not done in Ukraine, and “it is not excluded that under the impact of sanctions and in connection with the significant reduction of Russia’s ‘resource base’ on which the entire system of Putin’s power rests, this boat will begin to rock” because the nationalists want to take command.

    If the Russian nationalists came to power, then there would be “more challenges and problems” for Ukraine and the other countries in the region, Oktisyuk says. And “if [Ukraine] withstood the first wave of Russian aggression only thanks to the heroism of the army and volunteers and the mobilization of the active strata of the population, the second wave could be still more destructive.”

    Because of that possibility, even likelihood, he concludes, Ukraine must “prepare itself already now,” with the government carrying out “real reforms, modernizing the country and struggling with corruption.”
    After Putin, Russia to become even greater threat to Ukraine, Kyiv analyst says -- EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

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    • Victor Serge again triumphs over Arthur Koestler
      EUROMAIDAN PRESS 2015/11/01

      Magadan Hills, a painting by Nikolai Getman, a former GULAG prisoner, born December 23, 1917 in Kharkov, Ukraine. Background of the picture: In 1932, members of a Soviet geological expedition discovered gold at the mouth of the Utinny River in Siberia. A GULAG settlement was built between the villages of Balaganny and Ola, the hills there destroyed, piers built, and the settlement named Magadan after a nearby stream. Forced laborers were brought in to build roads from Magadan to the gold. Building the roads was incredibly harsh labor in the permafrost. The prisoners were poorly fed and worked for long hours under fierce conditions with rudimentary tools. The sentiment expressed here is that the roads were built on human bones—that every hill, every gully, and every path in Magadan represents human lives and could be the site of a human grave. The sun is eclipsed to symbolize the darkness and evil that cast its shadow over the people of the Soviet Union. The cross represents the enormous burdens the prisoners had to bear. It also symbolizes Christ's trek up the hill of Golgotha, which the artist likens to the prisoners' journey. (Source:
      Two images of Stalin’s Great Terror have long competed in the West and even in some former communist countries. The first, offered by Arthur Koestler in his novel “Darkness at Noon,” views what happened as rationalistic with a minus sign, the product of a single intelligence, and focused on the elites.

      The second, offered by Victor Serge in his novel “The Case of Comrade Tulayev,” suggests that what happened was far less rational, was put in motion by one man (Stalin) but then rapidly metastasized as subordinates competed for preferment, and involved not just a limited number of elite victims but large portions of the population.

      Despite all the documentation provided by Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Robert Conquest among others, many prefer Koestler’s image to Serge’s, not only because it allows them to reduce the extent of the horror of the Great Terror to something more intellectually manageable that they can then excuse if not justify.

      But now as terror is once again spreading through Russia under Vladimir Putin, it is increasingly clear that Serge had the more profound insight into that phenomenon because what is taking place now, while set in train by Putin, is becoming even more horrific as his subordinates compete for preferment and as the number of the victims is increasing.

      Although he does not mention either Koestler or Serge, Ukrainian commentator Vitaly Portnikov draws attention to the importance of this distinction in his discussion of the latest persecution of the Library of Ukrainian Literature in Moscow by the Russian authorities.

      This action, Portnikov suggests, may appear to some be a kind of “diabolic” effort by the Kremlin to demonize all Ukrainians. “But in fact, this is simply a careerist move, the pursuit of higher ranks” and other benefits by lower-ranking Russian officials who, although inspired by their bosses, often are acting in their own “creative” ways.

      Moscow’s Library of Ukrainian Literature hardly was a disseminator of radical anti-Russian views, Portnikov says, even though some of the thousands of Ukrainians in the Russian capital donated books to it and were proud that there was at least one institution there bearing the name “Ukrainian.”

      But that was too much for the hurrah patriots of Russia, and their latest attack on the library and its head, Natalya Sharina, resembles nothing so much as moves by “some kind of ‘fraternal parties’ in North Korea,” people who imitate political activity and “then for this very same imitation send people to the camps.”

      According to Portnikov, Sharina did everything she could to reduce the Ukrainian library to the status of yet another district library; but that wasn’t enough: “Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] says that Russians and Ukrainians are one people and therefore it is clear to every patriot that there are no Ukrainians.”
      Officials of Putin's government celebrating 75th anniversary of one of the first GULAG concentration camps in Russia

      Officials of Putin’s government celebrating 75th anniversary of one of the first GULAG concentration camps in Russia

      But somehow in the center of Moscow there is a library which is “called Ukrainian and which has literature in a funny language. “What if the children should see it?” That reflection was enough for investigators to conclude that “Ukrainian and extremist are practically one and the same thing,” and to ensure they’d find what they needed by taking it with them.

      That didn’t take a decision in the Kremlin as those who accept what Koestler wrote might think; instead, such an action happened as earlier actions did in Serge’s novel, with the leader giving a direction and then those below seeking to fulfill and overfulfill the plan by finding ever new targets.

      Because that is so, it is impossible to limit the blame to either Putin or Stalin. They may bear primary responsibility, but they are surrounded by what some have described in another context as “willing executioners.” In the absence of a concerted effort, it will thus be far more difficult to overcome this pattern than many assume. Victor Serge again triumphs over Arthur Koestler -- EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

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      • Poland turns right - A conservative enigma
        As the right savours victory, people wonder how far it will go
        Oct 31st 2015 | WARSAW THE ECONOMIST

        ONLY one thing is generally agreed about the result of Poland’s election held on October 25th; for the victors, it was a triumph on a scale that nobody else has managed to achieve during the quarter-century since multi-party democracy was ushered in.

        Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the veteran leader of Poland’s right-wing Law and Justice party (PiS), is the architect of that success. His party came first with 37.6% of the vote, giving it 235 out of 460 seats in the lower chamber of parliament (the Sejm) and the first independent majority in post-communist Poland. The centrist Civic Platform (PO) party, in power since 2007, finished with 24.1% of the vote. As PiS savours its victory, people at home and abroad are wondering where its ideological heart lies.

        On the pessimistic side, liberals at home and abroad are warning of the “Orbanisation” of Poland; they fear the country might now follow the example of Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister who is seen by critics as a curber of liberty and a xenophobic nationalist.

        PiS politicians much prefer comparisons with the British Conservative Party, with which they are closely allied in the European Parliament. As is emphasised by Zdzislaw Krasnodebski, a PiS member of that assembly, the party considers itself much more moderate than France’s National Front or even than the Christian Social Union which dominates Bavaria.

        The PiS certainly takes a traditional line on social issues like gay marriage and abortion. But calling it “conservative” is misleading, argues Radosław Markowski, a political scientist at the Polish Academy of Sciences. Poland’s new rulers are definitely not believers in small government, as many people point out.

        On the contrary, Mr Kaczynski has been trying to carry out a “continuous revolution aiming to build a strong state, even at the expense of certain liberal and democratic procedures”, in the words of Jan Kubik, director of the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at University College London.

        Mr Kaczynski has a penchant for grand projects. As prime minister in 2006-07 he and his late twin brother Lech, who was president when he died in a plane crash in 2010, spoke of founding a “fourth republic”, to replace what they saw as the morally corrupt third Polish republic, in existence since 1989. (A large photograph of Lech bearing the words “President of the Fourth Republic” hangs in the PiS’s headquarters in Warsaw.) Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who holds a doctorate in legal studies, spoke in October of the need for a “reconstruction of the state”.

        Some people worry that PiS could try and change the constitution, strengthening the role of the president, as set out in a draft constitution which was drawn up by the party in 2010 (but recently disappeared mysteriously from the party’s website). Such a presidential system would be a “catastrophe for Polish democracy”, says Mr Markowski.

        Comparisons with Hungary are not unfounded. Mr Kaczynski admires Mr Orban. When PiS lost the previous general election, 2011, Mr Kaczynski said by way of self-consolation that he was “deeply convinced that the day will come when we will have Budapest in Warsaw”.

        That day is nigh, Polish liberals now fear. PiS’s opponents are in disarray after the election. In the defeated Civic Platform, Ewa Kopacz, the outgoing prime minister, may soon face a leadership contest. The centre-left Social Democrats did not even make it into parliament, after they failed to cross the 8% threshold for coalitions. Hope may lie in a new party: Nowoczesna (literally: “Modern”), an economically and socially liberal group led by Ryszard Petru, an economist who has worked at the World Bank, which got 7.6% of the vote.

        Yet although power remains concentrated round Mr Kaczynski, Law and Justice is not a monolithic party. It won by reaching out to a variety of groups, from farmers to young urban voters, and from the Catholic right to more moderate voters who were simply tired of PO.

        Some are reassured by the fact that Mr Kaczynski will not take the job of prime minister himself; he is giving that job to his party colleague Beata Szydlo, in keeping with a promise he made last summer. Yet critics wonder how long it will be before he finds a pretext to take over and start trying to build a stronger state with himself at the helm.
        A conservative enigma | The Economist

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        • REWRITING HISTORY 10.31.15 THE DAILY BEAST Cathy Young

          Russia Denies Stalin’s Killer Famine

          Russia’s international propaganda outlet just recycled an old, debunked claim that Stalin’s terror-famine in Ukraine was a Western “hoax.”

          Sputnik News, the slick Kremlin-owned multimedia site once dubbed “the BuzzFeed of propaganda,” usually offers a predictable mix of content with a pro-Moscow message: These days, it’s accounts of Russian heroics in Syria, concern-trolling reports on troubles in the United States and Europe, and opinion pieces denouncing the West’s hypocrisy on human rights. Full-throated apologetics for Josef Stalin are not part of the standard fare. But last week, Sputnik ran a feature that offered exactly that—along with what can be reasonably called genocide denial.

          The title of the article, by one Ekaterina Blinova—who has no bio on the site, but describes herself on Twitter as an “independent political analyst”—speaks for itself: “Holodomor Hoax: The Anatomy of a Lie Invented by West’s Propaganda Machine.” The Holodomor, roughly translated as “murder by starvation,” is the Ukrainian term for what the late Robert Conquest called “the Terror-Famine”—the devastating, human-made hunger epidemic that killed as many as seven million Soviet peasants, most of them Ukrainians, in 1932-33.

          The famine has been the subject of much political controversy as well as scholarly debate. For supporters of Ukrainian independence from Russia, the Holodomor has long been a symbol both of brutal oppression and of national identity. After the 2004 “Orange Revolution,” Ukraine’s pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko made Holodomor commemoration a national issue, particularly for its 75th anniversary in 2008. The Ukrainian parliament voted to declared the famine a genocide; Ukraine also sought such recognition on an international level. A European Parliament resolution passed in October 2008 stopped short of using the term “genocide” but condemned the famine as “an appalling crime against the Ukrainian people, and against humanity,” deliberately and “cruelly planned by Stalin’s regime” to crush peasant resistance.

          Russia’s reaction was hostile and defensive. Ukraine’s Holodomor commemoration was decried as “Russophobic,” even though Yushchenko explicitly laid the crime at the doorstep of “the imperial, communist Soviet regime” rather than blame “any one people.” Then-president Dmitry Medvedev peevishly declined an invitation to attend a Holodomor remembrance event in Kiev in November 2008, accusing the Ukrainian leadership of distorting the tragedy “to achieve its political ends”; later that year, Ukraine’s moves to introduce a United Nations resolution recognizing the Holodomor as a genocide were thwarted by Russia.

          Yet by and large, neither the Russian government nor the pro-Kremlin media at the time questioned the Stalin regime’s responsibility for the famine; they simply argued that the policies which led to mass starvation were not specifically directed at Ukrainians but at the peasant class regardless of ethnicity. The favored Russian view was reflected in the work of Penza State University historian Viktor Kondrashin, whose 2008 book, The Famine of 1932-1933: The Tragedy of the Russian Village, argued that common estimates of the famine’s toll lowballed the numbers for the Russian countryside in the Volga regions. At the height of the Holodomor controversy that fall, Izvestia ran an interview with Kondrashin under the headline, “Russia wasn’t killing Ukraine. A leader was killing his people.”

          Kondrashin was harshly critical of Ukraine’s leadership for portraying the Holodomor as a crime against Ukrainians and supposedly diminishing the suffering of Russians (and other ethnic groups). But he was also unequivocal that the “Great Famine” was a form of state terror—an artificial calamity brought about by the collectivization of agriculture, violent reprisals against resisters, and measures sealing off famine-stricken regions to stop starving people from fleeing in search of food. The Izvestia feature included bloodcurdling excerpts from Kondrashin’s interviews with survivors, as well as archival documents: novelist Mikhail Sholokhov’s April 1933 letter to Stalin describing the atrocities he had seen commissars inflict on villages suspected of hoarding crops, and several letters from the paper’s own archives for the 1930s in which either foolish or brave Soviet citizens demanded to know why there was no coverage of the hunger.

          By contrast, the Sputnik News piece—illustrated with a photo of a benignly smiling Uncle Joe—is a throwback to Soviet-era propaganda which denied the terror-famine altogether. Indeed, it opens with a passage that could have time-warped from the editorial offices of Pravda circa 1980:

          Since the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia, Western media has made every effort to downplay the achievements of the Soviets, creating a picture of complete horror and despair which had allegedly engulfed the USSR.

          The bold historical experiment kicked off by Communists and based on the concept of a “fair distribution of national wealth,” egalitarianism and internationalism, made the blood of Western plutocrats run cold. ... If the new system proved effective it would have changed the world forever. Needless to say, it did not comply with the plans of the Western financial and political elite.

          Rather confusingly, Blinova spends the first half of the article “proving” that the famine was an anti-Soviet fiction concocted by Western propagandists, Nazis, and pro-Nazi Ukrainian exiles—only to turn around and explain that the famine was due to bad weather and a poor harvest. (It’s what Freud called “kettle logic”: a man accused by his neighbor of returning a borrowed kettle in a damaged condition replies that he returned it undamaged, that it was already broken when he borrowed it, and that he never borrowed it anyway.)

          The main source for Blinova’s “hoax” claim is a 1987 book titled Fraud, Famine and Fascism: The Ukrainian Genocide Myth from Hitler to Harvard (PDF), which has a rather colorful history. Ukrainian-born Canadian historian Roman Serbyn reports (PDF), citing Soviet archive materials, that the book’s first draft was circulated among Soviet Ukrainian Party apparatchiks and academics in 1985 as “counter-propagandistic material” prepared by “Canadian communists” as a rebuttal to Harvest of Sorrow, Conquest’s groundbreaking book on the famine, and the award-winning documentary Harvest of Despair. After some revisions, the manuscript was apparently approved by authorities including the director of Ukraine’s Institute of Party History. While the listed author of Fraud, Famine and Fascism is Canadian labor activist Douglas Tottle—whom Blinova generously describes as a “researcher”—University of Alberta historian Frank Sysyn believes (PDF) “the book was likely compiled in the Soviet Union.”

          Fraud, Famine and Fascism was rejected by the now-defunct Ukrainian-Canadian socialist publisher Kobzar, despite pressure from the Canadian Communist Party, and ultimately published by the Toronto-based Progress Books, which even a sympathetic journalist described as “an outlet for Soviet releases.” Just about the only notices it got were in the Communist press; one such review asserted, in language remarkably similar to Blinova’s Sputnik News piece, that “capitalists were horrified by the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917” and that “their main way of discouraging workers from fighting for communism is by attacking the then-socialist USSR under Stalin.”

          Meanwhile, glasnost-era reforms ended the taboo on discussing the Holodomor in the Soviet Union; in January 1990, the Ukrainian Communist Party passed a resolution that not only declared the famine a “national tragedy” but blamed it squarely on Stalin and his henchmen. Tottle’s book lost whatever shreds of credibility it might have had. But it remains popular on websites like The Stalin Society and The Espresso Stalinist—and now, it seems, at Sputnik News, the international news agency of the Russian government.

          As for Blinova’s actual evidence of a Holodomor hoax? It mainly boils down to the >> continue read Russia Denies Stalin’s Killer Famine - The Daily Beast

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          • 'Poland will be sidelined on any issues between Ukraine and Germany'
            UT UKRAINE TODAY Nov. 1, 2015

            On Viewpoint we're discussing how the conservative victory in Poland will influence Ukraine

            The victory of Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his nationalist, conservative Law and Justice Party in Poland recent general election has been sending shudders through European political circles. Some say Kaczynski may be looking for a fight with the EU's de-facto leader Angela Merkel on some of the 28-nation bloc's main issues including the current refugee crisis. He's not one to back down easily; Kaczynski thrives on popular public opinion about 'national victimhood'. Last time when the Law and Justice party was in power between 2005 and 2007 Jaroslaw governed Poland along with his twin brother Lech, who died in 2010 in a plane crash in Smolensk, Russia. At the time tensions were running high in Poland and its leaders did not try to conceal their anti-German stance.

            But what does all this mean for Ukraine? After all Poland is one of the country's biggest allies. Now with a Eurosceptic in power, how will Ukraine navigate the choppy waters of European politics?

            We are joined by expert on central eastern European politics Evhen Glibovytskiy to discuss this and more.

            see video
            'Poland will be sidelined on any issues between Ukraine and Germany' - watch on -

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            • Interior Ministry arrests UAH 2.6 bln in bank accounts owned by Oleksandr Yanukovych
              01.11.2015 UNIAN

              Ukrainian Interior Ministry has arrested UAH 2.6 billion in bank accounts, 12 million of which are reported to be personally owned by Oleksandr Yanukovych, a son of fugitive ex-President Viktor Yanukovych, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov wrote on his Facebook page.

              "Main Investigation Department of the Interior Ministry is carrying out a pre-trial investigation into the criminal proceedings against employees of PJSC All-Ukrainian Development Bank owned by Oleksandr Yanukovych, under Part 2 of Article 364 and Part 2 of Article 209 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine," the minister wrote.

              He added the pre-trial investigation had found that during the period of 2012-2014 employees of PJSC All-Ukrainian Development Bank issued loans to state enterprises at inflated interest rates and the illegal proceeds were legalized by placing funds in deposit accounts of the bank's owner – Oleksandr Yanukovych and controlled entities - bank's employees and other legal entities.

              "Investigators of the Main Investigation Department of the Interior Ministry conducted searches in PJSC All-Ukrainian Development Bank and arrested over UAH 2.6 billion held in deposit accounts of legal entities and individuals, of which UAH 12 million belonged to [Oleksandr] Yanukovych," the minister reported.

              According to the investigation data, the liquidation procedure of PJSC All-Ukrainian Development Bank has been scheduled to start in November 2015, which would allow Oleksandr Yanukovych, as well as other individuals and legal entities controlled by him, to recover deposit funds held in the bank's accounts.

              UNIAN memo. On March 5, 2014, the EU seized assets belonging to 18 Ukrainian citizens suspected of misappropriation of public funds and involvement in human rights violations in Ukraine.

              On March 5, 2015, the EU excluded Andriy Portnov, the former deputy chief of staff of ousted Ukrainian president, and three former Ukrainian officials from the sanctions list.

              Later Viktor Yanukovych filed a lawsuit against Ukraine with the European Court of Human Rights in connection with alleged abuses of his human rights.
              Interior Ministry arrests UAH 2.6 bln in bank accounts owned by Oleksandr Yanukovych : UNIAN news

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              • The Kremlin’s other separatist projects in Ukraine
                EUROMAIDAN PRESS Alex Leonore 2015/10/26


                “The Kharkiv Partisans:” A terrorist group or just a front for Russian subversion?
                “Odesa Underground / Odesa Fraternity.” A propaganda project and/or an Odesan copy of the Kharkiv Partisans?
                -“Bessarabian People’s Rada” A political front for a new People’s Republic in a good location
                “Assembly of the Romanians of Bukovina” A propaganda project to promote the fiction of Romanian separatism
                -The “Republic of Budjak”
                The whole world knows about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk and their main proxies: the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DNR”) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (“LNR”) While these three Oblasts are the only areas where Russia has seized territory, they are not the only areas where there has been Russian subversion and accompanying Russian propaganda. Particularly in the Ukrainian areas of Kharkiv (NE) and Odesa (SW), Russian propaganda has promoted supposedly indigenous separatist movements.

                Russia is probably continuing to promote these other separatist projects for three primary reasons.

                First: to serve as a cover for Russian attacks and subversion in a similar way that the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics were used as cover for a Russian invasion in the East.
                Second: to deceive the West that Ukraine has big problems in other regions outside the ATO and nurse the hope among pro-Russian people that Ukrainian government will soon collapse.
                Third (and most importantly) to keep a pilot light on for future Russian military activity in these regions. Right now the situation may not be ideal for Russian attack in Kharkiv, for example. However, by keeping the idea of the indigenous “Kharkiv Partisans” alive, the appropriate individuals and propaganda messages can be dusted off and used when the timing is right for propaganda emphasizing that the war in Ukraine is a civil war.

                This list of other “separatists” projects is not exhaustive, and there are several other older fronts which Russia could use to leverage for propaganda or mask subversive activity such as the “Odesa Porto-Franco” or the “Transcarpathian Rusyn Parliament.” There are even a few reports of a new Donetsk-based political front for separatism in Zaporizhia. The four organizations presented here were all feted in Russian propaganda after the first stages of the invasion of Ukraine; after it became clear that Ukraine would not rapidly collapse. These organizations range in realism from the “Kharkiv Partisans” which (while probably a front for Russian subversion) has an identified leader and spokesman and claims responsibility for terrorist attacks inside Ukraine, to the “Assembly of the Romanians of Bukovina,” which may be entirely a fabrication of Russian propaganda, with no actual members or activities.

                continue read:
                The Kremlin’s other separatist projects in Ukraine -Euromaidan Press |

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                • Russian Propaganda Pushes Fake “Republic of Budjak”
                  EUROMAIDAN PRESS Alex Leonore 2015/11/01

                  The “Bessarabian People’s Rada,” a Kremlin separatist project in Odesa Oblast, has just laid claim to a part of Moldova

                  The Russian propaganda project the “Bessarabian People’s Rada” just changed from being a thinly-veiled separatist project to an openly separatist project, and it is now targeting Moldova in addition to Ukraine. The website for the People’s Rada says that they declared that they wanted independence during a conference in late October and planned to hold a referendum soon in the territory they claim. Most interestingly, they also declared that Gagauzia, a portion of southern Moldova, would be part of their new “Republic of Budjak.” Gagauzia is an autonomous region in Moldova populated by a Turkic people (for background, see this article by Luke Coffey from earlier this year).


                  The phrase “Bessarabia Awakens” ( ) is already circulating through the Russian echo chamber, though Russia’s main propaganda outlets in English have mostly ignored the story so far. That will probably not last.

                  The Bessarabian People’s Rada was started in April 2015, supposedly as a local group appealing for autonomy in the south-western corner of Ukraine, in rural Odesa Oblast. The rhetoric of the movement and its promotion by Russian propaganda indicated it was in fact a Russian separatist project. Shortly afterwards the SBU announced it had stopped a major attempt to start another people’s republic in Ukrainian Bessarabia much like the ones in Donetsk and Luhansk. The website of the People’s Rada continued to operate and stories about the Rada continued to appear on Russian news websites. (Read our previous backgrounder on the Bessarabian People’s Rada.) This independence announcement with a claim on territory outside of Ukraine is a big shift in rhetoric. Such a dramatic change with nothing to show on the ground in Ukraine may make some suspect that the whole thing is a provocation- an announcement designed to just spread confusion or get a response, but without substance.

                  Criticism from Other Separatists
                  Among those who suspect it might just be a provocation (or perhaps merely an inept move) is a leader in another separatist movement, Oleksiy Albu, a member of the so-called “Odesa Fraternity” and the “Committee to Liberate Odesa” who is currently based in Russian-occupied Donetsk. In an interview on the Russian Website Svpressa, he criticized the Rada saying that such a declaration of independence without serious work beforehand made “not only our enemies laugh, but also our potential supporters!” He said that before a referendum can take place there was “huge preparatory work” that must be done first, such as “the formation of fighting groups, the forming of public opinion… and political momentum must be matched correctly with a time of acute contradictions within the existing regional ruling elite…” This casts insight on his own plans for Odesa. In the same article on Svpressa, Vladimir Bukarsk an attendee of the first conference of the People’s Rada said that he did not think the new declaration was serious and belittled the prospects of separatism in southern Moldova.

                  What is the Purpose?
                  The “Republic of Budjak” may be a provocation or inept, or it may be another step towards a long-term subversive project in both Ukraine and Moldova. By staking a claim to Moldova, this pre-existing separatist project can be used by Russia as a political front in both countries. If Russia can eventually succeed in seizing Bessarabia, a “People’s Army” based in that region can be used as a proxy to seize part of Moldova, and vice-versa. A frozen conflict in one area could be the base for an active conflict in the neighboring area. The first step is to masquerade as a legitimate political body about to hold a “referendum,” then film or fake a crackdown by the Ukrainian security services. Russian proxies might even attack Ukrainian security forces already in SE Ukraine with the pretense of “defending the referendum.” The announcement of the People’s Rada hinted that violence may be in the offing: “We are ready for any fight. Even today, on our side, people’s militias are operating, and a popular assembly elected a legitimate commander of Bessarabia, who will repel any attacks on the peaceful construction of Budjak.”

                  Unwilling “supporters”
                  The report of the conference from the Rada’s website said that a number of Moldovan notables were in attendance. Several of them have since denied that they were at the conference or had anything to do with this separatist project. The Moldovan notable Nikolai Dudoglo said that Gagauzia would always be part of Moldova. The Moldovan politician Sergei Anastanov similarly said that “There is a border between Moldova and Ukraine. There are two countries, and Gagauzia is part of one of these: Moldova.” The Moldovan Bishop Markel said that he was not even in Ukraine during the supposed conference, in fact, he has been banned from Ukraine since November 2014. He called a separatist attitude “unacceptable.”

                  This is not the first time the People’s Rada has claimed unwitting people as allies. In late July they claimed they claimed that a Ukrainian named Alexander Yankov was their “People’s Defender” and Russian propaganda quickly claimed he had been elected a “People’s Governor.” Shortly afterwards Yankov denied all connections to the People’s Rada and said that the whole thing was a Russian attempt to break the unity of Ukraine.

                  Why does the People’s Rada do this? Perhaps they are hoping to generate grievances by getting Ukrainian or Moldovan security services to act hastily and arrest the supposed collaborators before they have a chance to deny their involvement. Perhaps they are just using the names of prominent local citizens to convince credulous pro-Russian locals that the separatist movement has wide support, -or perhaps, to convince them that a sinister conspiracy is at work to force these otherwise pro-separatist citizens “suddenly” start denouncing the separatist project.

                  As Russian propaganda projects go, the “Republic of Budjak” may be dangerous but it is not very well executed. Unfortunately the fakery is only obvious if one does a little research and followup, which many are not inclined to do.
                  A Useful MEP?

                  According to the Russian news outlet Izvestia, a Bulgarian MEP named Angel Dzhambazki already announced his support for this “initiative” saying it was in line with European and international standards. So far, there has been no further reported comment from Mr. Dzhambazki about his support for separatism in Ukraine, and if the People’s Rada is consistent wit its identified foreign supporters, Mr. Dhambazki may have not said anything about the “Republic of Budjak.” Russian Propaganda Pushes "Republic of Budjak"Euromaidan Press |

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                  • Korban suspected of organizing crime group
                    01.11.2015 UNIAN

                    Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine (PGO) announced Hennadiy Korban, the leader of UKROP party, a suspicion of creating a criminal group, under Article 255 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, PGO spokesman Vladyslav Kutsenko said during a briefing, according to an UNIAN correspondent.

                    According to Kutsenko, yesterday investigation was conducted with regard to a number of law enforcement officials who were involved in a criminal group.

                    At the same time, the investigator of the PGO Main Investigation Department Mykola Makeyev said that Korban was announced suspicion of violating Part 5 of Article 191 (large-scale misappropriation of public funds), Part 3 of Article 27 (complicity) and Article 349 (kidnapping), Part 2 of Article 289 (theft of motor transport).

                    As UNIAN reported earlier, yesterday the SBU Security Service of Ukraine started searches of Ukrop party members in Dnipropetrovsk.

                    According to the press service, the searches were conducted in the house of Korban’s parents, in the house of the leaders of the Foundation of the Country’s Defense Pavlo Hazan and Nadia Hazan.

                    Later Korban was taken to the Main Investigation Department of the PGO in Kyiv, where he was reported feeling sick.

                    Later it became known that Korban was taken to the pretrial detention facility of the SBU Security Service of Ukraine.
                    Korban suspected of organizing crime group : UNIAN news

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                    • Mustafa Cemilev Denies Russian Allegations of Crimean Tatars Recruiting Fighters for the Islamic State
                      02.11.15 | Idil P. Izmirli HUMAN RIGHTS IN UKRAINE

                      In recent months, a debate arose about the formation of a Muslim Battalion in Ukraine (see EDM, September 5). This was soon followed, in the Russian media, by rumors about the Crimean Tatar leadership’s alleged links with the Islamic State (IS). On October 5, 2015, the head of the State Committee of the Crimean government for International Relations and Deported Citizens, Zaur Smirnov, claimed that after the March 2014 Crimean referendum, radical Islamists fled the peninsula and relocated to the Ukrainian mainland, where they immediately started forming local cells to spread their ideology (RIA Novosti, October 9). And just days after Smirnov’s comments, on October 9, Crimea’s Deputy Prime Minister Ruslan Balbek alleged that the leadership of the Mejlis (the representative body of the Crimean Tatars in Ukraine) had begun recruiting volunteers to join the Islamic State. According to Balbek, the goal was to have these IS militants later return to Ukraine and then join the Ukrainian Muslim Battalion. Once back in Ukraine, these former IS fighters could capitalize on their experience fighting in the Middle East to help the government in Kyiv recapture Crimea. Balbek specifically accused long-time Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Cemilev of such subversive activities because he is purportedly surrounded by these particular radical groups in mainland Ukraine (, October 9).

                      In an interview with the Crimean news agency QHA, Cemilev denounced all allegations of the Crimean Tatar leadership’s recruitment efforts on behalf of the Islamic State. And he denied any plans to benefit from returning IS militants’ combat experience in a future Ukrainian Muslim Battalion in order to destabilize Crimea. “These could not be further than the truth. Lies work well in conflicts; one small lie ignites like a small twig, which then spreads like wild fire” he stated (QHA, October 23).

                      According to Cemilev, in the midst of the Syrian war, a handful of Crimean Tatars were interested in going to Syria, but the Crimean Tatar leadership repeatedly reminded them not to violate Ukrainian laws. “Because the opposition in Syria is made of diverse forces with different ideologies and we do not know who represents what, we reiterated to them that Syria was not their cause and that there was no need to become involved in this war, ” said Cemilev. “In any case, only a handful of Crimean Tatars—approximately 30, mostly members of Hizb ut-Tahrir [HuT]—went to Syria, but none of them joined ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria—another common, though former name for the Islamic State]. We know for sure that they are definitely not aligned with ISIS. In fact, they are fighting alongside forces that are opposed to ISIS, ” Cemilev affirmed (QHA, October 23). It is worth noting that HuT believes in establishing a global Caliphate first and then launching an army, whereas IS is a regional Islamic organization with state-like structures and an already existing army (Idil P. Izmirli, “Fragmented Islam and Inter-Ethnic Conflict in Crimea, ” George Mason University, January 13, 2013)

                      When it comes to the Muslim Battalion, Cemilev stated that the idea first came out of conversations with young Crimean Tatars who want to serve in the Ukrainian Army but hesitate to do so because the Army uses pork and pork products in their rations and meals. Second, “there is no Muslim Chaplain/Imam in the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and I doubt that they will hire one for a handful of Crimean Tatar soldiers, ” Cemilev argued. “There was a need for some sort of a battalion to reinforce Ukrainian presence in the Kherson region and to protect Crimean Tatars who had to move out of Crimea to this region after the annexation. When we brought these issues to the President of Ukraine [Petro Poroshenko], he authorized the formation of a Muslim Battalion within the Ukrainian Army, fully subordinated to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry. Again, this had nothing to do with ISIS or radical Islam, ” he noted (QHA, October 23).

                      Over the course of last two weeks, this author carried out her own interviews with individuals in Ukraine. And the vast majority of Crimean Tatars also deny such charges of any connections to the Islamic State. At present, they are solely focused on their peninsular homeland’s return to Ukraine and the national territorial autonomy that was promised to them by Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin during the Second World Congress of Crimean Tatars (, August 1). Because of their religious affiliation—Islam—however, they believe they inevitably become prey to such rumors aimed to discredit their Crimean Tatar leadership. Russians see the Mejlis gaining greater support and respect not only in Ukraine (on October 13, Cemilev received an award from Mikheil Saakashvili, the governor of Odesa region), but also in Europe and the United States (as illustrated by the several peace medals and grants Cemilev received in the past two years). To discredit Cemilev’s reputation and the Crimean Tatar leadership’s nonviolent conflict resolution strategies (see EDM, October 2), pro-Russian media invents these types of rumors to construct a space for a directed disinformation campaign. It remains to be seen if this assault of untruths may be a prelude to further crackdowns on Crimean Tatars living under Russian occupation—particularly considering the ongoing economic blockade of the peninsula, spearheaded by the Crimean Tatars themselves.
                      Mustafa Cemilev Denies Russian Allegations of Crimean Tatars Recruiting Fighters for the Islamic State ::
                      First published in Eurasia Daily Monitor
                      Volume 12 Issue: 197 #.VjUCbrerQok
                      October 30, 2015

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                      • Ukraine leader says arrest of oligarch ally just 'the start'
                        AFP 11/02/2015 (Yahoo News)

                        Kiev (AFP) - Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko warned Sunday that the arrest of a millionaire associate of one of the country's most powerful oligarchs was only "the start" of a fight against the corruption plaguing the ex-Soviet country.

                        Guennadi Korban, 45, a businessman and right-hand man of billionaire Igor Kolomoyski, was arrested Saturday as part of a probe into organised crime and corruption.

                        "Korban won't be the last," Poroshenko said in a joint interview with three television networks.

                        "The fight against corruption and to restore order will continue," he said, vowing "no one will enjoy immunity... neither the representatives of the new dispensation nor the representatives of the old regime" -- a reference to the pro-Russian regime of ousted former president Viktor Yanukovych.

                        Korban is being investigated among other things over the reported theft of 40 million hryvnias (1.5 millions euros, $1.7 million) earmarked for Ukrainian soldiers fighting pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country, according to the SBU security service.

                        Ukraine's army alleges the money was used to finance private militia.

                        Korban's Ukrop party has blasted his arrest as "political repression" targeting "patriots."

                        Poroshenko, himself a millionaire businessman, has promised to crack down on oligarchs as part of a drive to tackle the graft that fuelled the street protests which brought down Yanukovych in 2014.

                        Last year, he dismissed Kolomoyski -- one of Ukraine's richest men with major interests in banking and energy -- as governor of the eastern region of Dnipropetrovsk.

                        The government accused Kolomoyski of setting up his own militia and of trying to take control of a state-owned oil company.

                        Saturday's arrest of his associate Korban came a day after an annual wealth list showed Poroshenko's own assets soaring in value to $979 million (889 million euros), despite a deep economic crisis.

                        Several dozen Ukrainians travelling in a convoy of vehicles protested Saturday outside the presidential palace in Kiev, demanding tougSunday that the arrest of a millionaire associate of one of the country's most powerful oligarchs was only "the start" of a fight against the corruption plaguing the ex-Soviet country.
                        Ukraine leader says arrest of oligarch ally just 'the start' - Yahoo News

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                        • Reuters: Al Qaeda chief urges militant unity against Russia in Syria
                          02.11.2015 UNIAN

                          Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri called on Muslim supporters to band together to confront the threat from the West and Russia in Syria and Iraq, the latest recording suggesting greater unity between al Qaeda and Islamic State, according to Reuters

                          "The Americans, Russians, Iranians, Alawites, and Hezbollah are coordinating their war against us – are we not capable of stopping the fighting amongst ourselves so we can direct all our efforts against them?" Zawahri said in an audio recording released on the Internet on Sunday, Reuters wrote.

                          It was not clear when the recording was made but references to Russian aggression suggest it was made after Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, launched air raids against opposition groups and Islamic State in Syria on September 30.

                          In a recording released in September, Zawahri dismissed Islamic State and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as illegitimate but said his followers would join them in fighting the Western-led coalition in Iraq and Syria if possible.

                          "My mujahideen brothers in all places and of all groups ... we face aggression from America, Europe, and Russia ... so it's up to us to stand together as one from East Turkestan to Morocco," Zawahri said.

                          Islamic State, the ultra-hardline group that controls large parts of Iraq and Syria, has called for a holy war against both Russia and the United States in response to air strikes on its fighters in Syria.

                          Any cooperation between al Qaeda and Islamic State would further complicate efforts to stabilize the Middle East, where militant groups have gained influence and escalated attacks since the Arab uprisings of 2011 toppled autocrats who had contained them.
                          Reuters: Al Qaeda chief urges militant unity against Russia in Syria : UNIAN news

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                          • China, Japan, South Korea Declare Cooperation Fully Restored
                            Sam Kim & Isabel Reynolds November 1, 2015 BLOOMBERG NEWS

                            China, Japan and South Korea said their cooperation was “completely” restored after three years of strained ties and pledged to work collectively to respond to everything from slowing economic growth, to terrorism and the North Korean nuclear threat.

                            The agreement came Sunday in Seoul, where South Korean President Park Geun Hye, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang held the first three-nation summit in more than three years.

                            Territorial and historical disputes have raised tensions in their region since the previous summit in 2012, while their share of the world economy has risen to more than 20 percent. Investment among the three countries has increased in recent years as China became the biggest trading partner for both Japan and South Korea.

                            “We agreed we would continue to try to achieve peace and stability in the region based on the spirit that we squarely face history and look to the future,” Park said at a press conference with Abe and Li. “We assessed that practical cooperation in a variety of areas has increased among the three nations despite fluid circumstances in and out of the region.”

                            Territorial Spats

                            China and Japan have squared off over the sovereignty of islands in the East China Sea, while South Korea and Japan remain deadlocked over another set of islets. Japan’s wartime actions also remain a sensitive topic in China and South Korea. Both China and South Korea have demanded Japan do more to address its wrongdoing in World War II.

                            The three leaders also agreed to boost efforts to sign a free-trade deal, Park said. The countries have engaged in negotiations since early 2013. A deal could provide a boost to the region at a time of slowing growth.

                            The three nations will work toward the “prompt” resumption of six-nation nuclear talks on North Korea, she said. The talks -- last held in 2008 -- also involve the U.S. and Russia. North Korea said recently it had restored its nuclear reactor and has threatened to attack the U.S. with nuclear missiles.
                            China, Japan, South Korea Declare Cooperation Fully Restored - Bloomberg Business

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                            • Fencers are preparing for the Olympic Games
                              Serhii BUBKA: “Olha Kharlan and Yana Shemiakina are heroines of our sport”
                              Anna Sventakh 28 October, 2015 DEN - THE DAY

                              The Ukrainian fencing team held an open training session on October 27, as it prepared for qualifiers for the Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. The session’s guest of honor was president of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine Serhii Bubka, who shared his experience and motivation with the fencers and tried to persuade female epee team that a strong belief in themselves could allow athletes to bring unseen internal resources to the fight. Those present included Olympic champions Olha Kharlan and Yana Shemiakina. “We are proud of the achievements of our team,” Bubka noted. “Kharlan and Shemiakina are heroines of our sport, and youths emulate them. I am sure our young generation will continue the glorious traditions of Ukrainian fencers.” “The president is once again motivating us with his life stories, and I will try to comply with all the advice that he gave us today,” Kharlan responded. “I hope we will meet more frequently during training sessions this year.”

                              “Our plan of preparations for the Olympic Games, which we outlined at the beginning of the season, is being systematically carried out,” said Vadym Guttsait, vice president of the Fencing Federation of Ukraine. “We are in a fighting mood as always. The girls intend to fight to win. An Olympic medal is the best thing that could happen to us. Of course, I would like to see a gold medal, a repeat of the success that was in 2008 and 2012... But then, any medal won at the Olympics is a great honor.”

                              Let us recall that the Ukrainian team won three medals at the most recent World Fencing Championships, which was held in Moscow: epee fencers Anatolii Herei, Dmytro Kariuchenko, Maksym Khvorost, and Bohdan Nikishyn brought home a gold medal, sabreuses Olha Kharlan, Olena Voronina, Alina Komashchuk, and Olena Kravatska won a silver, and a bronze went to Yana Shemiakina, Ksenia Pantelieieva, Olena Kryvytska, and Anfisa Pochkalova.
                              Fencers are preparing for the Olympic Games | The Day newspaper
                              Serhiy Nazarovych Bubka (Ukrainian: Ǧ́ ́ ́; Russian: ́ ́ ́, Sergey Nazarovich Bubka; born 4 December 1963) is a former Ukrainian pole vaulter. He represented the Soviet Union until its dissolution in 1991, was twice named Athlete of the Year by Track & Field News,[1] and in 2012 was one of 24 athletes inducted as inaugural members of the International Association of Athletics Federations Hall of Fame.
                              As President of the National Olympic Committee in Ukraine since 2005, he has transformed the organisation into one of the most progressive in the world. It has staff based in all of the nation’s 27 regions with each taking responsibility for delivering an array of programmes designed to bring young people into sport, realise the potential of the most talented athletes and promote the Olympic Movement and its values.

                              Bubka won six consecutive IAAF World Championships, an Olympic gold medal and broke the world record for men's pole vault 35 times[3] (17 outdoor and 18 indoor records). He was the first pole vaulter to clear 6.0 metres and 6.10 metres.

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                              • MH17, Arctic Sunrise and illicit edam – how it all went wrong for one Dutch diplomat

                                The Netherlands’ ambassador to Russia talks to The Moscow Times about the series of disasters marking his posting
                                THe GUARDIAN Eva Hartog Nov, 2. 2015

                                When Ron van Dartel agreed to take up the post of Dutch ambassador to Russia he thought it would be the perfect ending to his career. Eighteen months later, he concedes he might have been optimistic.

                                “If we look at the relationship between the Netherlands and Russia, we’re further apart than I could have ever imagined,” he said recently in Moscow.

                                When Van Dartel first arrived Moscow in 2013 it was the tail-end of a much-hyped year of collaboration between the Netherlands and Russia, celebrating 400 years of diplomatic ties between the countries.

                                Now relations between the two could not be worse after a series of disastrous incidents culminating in the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 with mostly Dutch citizens on board.

                                Arctic sunrise
                                It started in September when a Greenpeace ship sailing under a Dutch flag was seized by Russian border guards and its crew imprisoned after a protest at a Gazprom oil rig in the Arctic. In a sign of heightening tensions, the Netherlands took Russia to the International Tribunal for breaching the law of the sea.

                                Several weeks later Russian diplomat Dmitry Borodin was detained in the Hague for several hours by Dutch police, causing outrage among Russian politicians who accused the Netherlands of breaching the Geneva Convention.

                                And just little over a week after that, Dutch diplomat Onno Elderenbosch was attacked in his Moscow home by two assailants in an assault many considered retaliatory.

                                “For centuries [we’ve had] a colourful, multifaceted relationship, says Van Dartel euphemistically. “We had very different interests that complemented each other. We had very close discussions and cooperation on a political level.

                                “Economically, Netherlands and Russia were very close partners. And once in a while we had problems.”

                                Declining trade
                                Dutch investment in the Russian economy increased tenfold from 2002 to 2013, making the Netherlands one of Russia’s largest investors.

                                The Netherlands exported €7.1bn worth of goods to Russia in 2012: mostly machinery but also flowers, cheese and agricultural products, while Russia provided the Netherlands with more than a quarter of its crude oil imports in 2012.

                                That economic foundation has now been severely undercut, the ambassador said, as the devaluation of the rouble make Dutch products comparatively expensive.

                                European sanctions have also made it difficult for Russian companies to do business with Dutch partners. A Russian ban on the import of European agricultural products – including dairy, fruits and vegetables – has also hit the Netherlands hard.

                                “Our exports to Russia have decreased by one-third in the past year. Imports from Russia have decreased by about 25%,” the ambassador said.

                                But the most painful source of contention between the country began with Russia’s annexation of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine in March last year. “As long as Crimea continues to be under occupation, we have a problem,” Van Dartel said. “In our eyes that’s illegal and we will never accept that.”

                                The conflict in Ukraine took on a particularly poignant character for the Dutch since the downing of MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July last year. Two-thirds of the 298 people on board were Dutch nationals and the crash has been engraved into national memory.

                                “MH17 was a traumatic development in our society. Almost everyone in the Netherlands knows someone [who died] or knows someone who is related to these [victims],” Van Dartel said.

                                Dutch investigators said the plane was shot down by a Russian-built missile , and all eyes are on the Joint Investigation Team – a Dutch-led body that also includes Belgium, Ukraine, Malaysia and Australia – charged with finding out where the culpability lies.

                                “Our main task [is] to bring those responsible to court. We owe that to the victims,” Van Dartel said.

                                But the ambassador urged caution. “We have never anticipated the outcome of the investigation. We have never pointed our finger at anyone. We have been extremely careful.” My advice would be “wait for the results.”

                                The Dutch approach
                                On the secret to working and living in Russia, Van Dartel says “always keep a cool head... continue your work calmly, that’s the Dutch approach.”

                                On the secret to working and living in Russia, Van Dartel says “always keep a cool head... continue your work calmly, that’s the Dutch approach.”

                                The ambassador says that he has managed to alleviate the personal impact of the western import ban by bringing his “permitted amount of Dutch cheese” into the country.

                                But what he does miss is cycling. “I didn’t bring my bike to Moscow because I consider it too dangerous. Traffic here is intense.”
                                MH17, Arctic Sunrise and illicit edam – how it all went wrong for one Dutch diplomat | World news | The Guardian
                                A version of this article first appeared on The Moscow Times

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