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    • Neglected Russian Stories Part 2

      And six more from countries near Russia:

      1. Kazakhstan’s Army Trains to Fight in Cities. Astana has announced that the Kazakhstan army is training to fight in cities, an indication that the top elite is worried either about revolts in some of them or a possible hybrid war against that country.

      2. Kazakhstan Creates Ministry for Religion and Civil Society. Astana has elevated from state committee to ministerial status the officials responsible for overseeing relations with religious groups and promoting civil society.

      3. Russian Occupiers have Made Crimea ‘a Concentration Camp,’ Poroshenko Says. The Ukrainian president says that the Russian occupiers of Crimea have transformed what had been a vibrant civil society there into “a concentration camp” in which the authorities trample on the rights of its residents. The occupiers are setting up special forces to fight what they say are Ukrainian “diversionists” and have called on residents to have more children to support the state. More significant as an indication of Moscow’s intentions about Crimea is that the Russian government has declared that the Black Sea area around Crimea does not belong to Ukraine.

      4. Despite De-Communization Effort, Ukraine Allowed Brezhnev Statue to Remain. City officials in Ukraine found a way to keep a statue of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in the Ukrainian city where he was born. They proclaimed the statue to be a part of the Soviet Myths and Realities exposition at the local museum.

      5. Transdniestria Vote Intended to Ape Donbas and Pressure Kyiv. A referendum leaders of the Russian breakaway Transdniestria “republic” in Moldova have planned is all about copying what has been taking place in Ukraine’s Donbas and putting new pressure on Kyiv from another direction, observers say.

      6. Tashkent Police Seeking Those Who Disputed Official Date of Karimov’s Death. Even after his passing, Islam Karimov is a political issue in Uzbekistan, where the police have announced that they are seeking to track down those who have suggested that the Uzbek president did not die on the day that officials have suggested.
      "Moscow borrowed Dracula's management techniques" and other neglected Russian stories | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

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      • Putin’s State Council would be a new Politburo designed to make succession easier, Solovey says
        EUROMIDAN PRESS Paul A. Goble 2016/09/27
        Stalin's Politburo of 1935. The blacked-out figure is Jānis Rudzutaks, who was arrested in 1937, accused of Trotskyism and espionage for Nazi Germany, and sentenced to death. He was shot by the NKVD secret police in 1938. (Image: -)

        Rumors that Vladimir Putin plans to create a State Council are widespread, Valeriy Solovey says; and the only reason the Kremlin leader would have to take such a step would be to create a Politburo-like institution that could ensure that the succession when it comes will be “acceptable for the main groups of the elite and society.”

        The MGIMO professor and commentator says that in the course of the last two days, he has frequently been asked about the rumors that a State Council will be created to replace the position of president (on these rumors, see this post).

        According to Solovey, such rumors have surfaced at various points “for about ten years,” and many of them focus on the idea of creating a State Council which has as “its closest historical analogue the Soviet Politburo” which was “a collegial administration,” especially at times of succession.

        Indeed, the Moscow commentator says, the only thing that makes the creation of a State Council now “sensible” is to ensure “such a personal succession at the top of the powers that be which would be acceptable for the main groups of the elite and society.” But that has some serious consequences, he continues.

        He writes: “If we begin to move in this direction politically, in terms of information and in legal relations in the next few months, this will mean that the problem of succession has significantly intensified.”
        And presumably with the creation of such a State Council, because of the expectations it would create, conflicts over that would intensify still further.

        Further, Solovey says:

        “Such a cardinal reform of the higher reaches of state power in [Russian] conditions will inevitably lead to a sharp weakening of what is even without this an ineffective government apparatus and lead to organizational chaos and political disinformation.”

        While the MGIMO professor doesn’t say so, his words suggest that any move in this direction would lead many Russians to conclude that their country was again entering an interregnum, much like the one Fyodor Burlatsky warned of 34 years ago.

        And however accurate such conclusions may prove, they will lead to expectations of a new time of troubles, yet another way in which an authoritarian system like Putin’s does not enjoy one of the chief advantages of a democratic system, the guaranteed rotation of elites and the rise of new ones as a normal part of life.
        Putin's State Council would be a new Politburo designed to make succession easier, Solovey says | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

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        • New frontier of Russian lies
          UNIAN Roman Tsymbaliuk 27 Sept 2016

          The tragedy the world witnessed July 17, 2014, has changed dramatically the nature of Russian aggression in Ukraine. On this day, a Malaysian Boeing was downed from the sky over Donbas. Nearly 300 people were killed in that horrific crash. Before that day, many European powers chose not to really notice what was going on in the east of Ukraine in favor of their economic ties with Moscow. But the death of EU citizens on board that plane forced many European governments to change their approach to the situation. Politicians were just forced to open his eyes. Sanctions were imposed against Russia (and they are still enforced to this day) and almost the entire civilized world started helping Ukraine.

          Many people, especially in Russia, are trying to erase from memory the events in Donbas back in those hot days. At the time, the Kremlin, after an almost bloodless occupation of Crimea, was obsessed with the destruction of the Ukrainian state, toying with the idea of a mythical "Novorossiya". To implement this idea, thousands of soldiers and officers "voluntarily" left for “vacations” but still drove their officially assigned armored vehicles to seize the Ukrainian land. That is how the Kremlin explained hundreds of freshly-dug graves in different parts of their vast country. Ukraine was returning Russian "volunteers" home. In various shapes.

          Back in the day, there were almost daily reports of Ukraine’s losses – downed warplanes and helicopters, which used to halt the advance of Russia’s “strayed” Russian convoys of military equipment. Two years ago, Putin explained that military equipment to be used in such a conflict is "always somewhere around", while anti-aircraft missile systems, as well as the Russian uniform, can obviously be purchased "in any military outlet". It is no surprise that on July 17, 2014, Russia's state news agencies, like TASS, referring to militants who occupied parts of Donbas, proudly reported the downing of yet another Ukrainian An-26.

          When it turned out that it’s a passenger jet that had been hit, Russian propaganda started producing at warp speed different versions of the incident and developing conspiracy theories. Brainwash masterminds came up with the Spanish ground control officer “Carlos”, who allegedly navigated MH17 from the tower and personally “saw” (in binoculars?) two fighter jets approaching with Ukrainian tridents on their wings. A similar vision - in the form of two vulture-jets allegedly attacking a civilian plane – stood in the eyes many militants and other "eye-witnesses" who elaborated to the Russian media on what they had personally seen (!) happening at some 10k altitude. There was also a "secret witness", whose testimony had to drop all charges against Russia, shifting the blame on the Ukrainian hero – an actual combat pilot Vladyslav Voloshin. But when it turned out that the Su-25, at which the Kremlin pointed fingers, was simply unable to hit targets at such altitudes due to its technical characteristics, the Russian "analysts" thought of nothing better reclassifying the “killer jet” to a Su-27.

          On July 21, 2014, Head of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff General Kartapalov was speaking confidently at a presentation held at the Daily operations control center of Russia’s Aerospace Forces Russia on the causes of the MH17 tragedy. The slides showed the alleged movement Ukrainian Buk-M1 air defense systems. Then it was also stated that the Russian air monitoring means spotted a Su-25 belonging to the Ukrainian Air Force just 5 km from the Boeing. "Why was the warplane flying on air path designed for civil aviation almost simultaneously and at the same altitude with a passenger aircraft? I would like to hear an answer to this question," the Russian general said, with apparent concern in his voice.

          More than two years after that event, the answer was voiced in the same briefing room. It turned out that there had been no Captain Voloshin, piloting his Su-25 in dangerous proximity to the Boeing. Just as there has been no Su-27.

          On the eve of the release of the results of an official Dutch investigation, scheduled for September 28, the "Empire" has decided to go for a pre-emptive strike, unexpectedly releasing details of their radars and reporting that there had been no airborne side objects near the Malaysian aircraft before its disintegration.

          However, having officially abandoned the version of the Ukrainian stealth aircraft, the Russian Ministry of Defense provided yet another piece of "irrefutable evidence" of the attack of the Ukrainian military against MH17. Now the only version of a Buk missile launch is in the works, in order to be closer to the results of the Dutch investigation. It turns out that the Russian radars saw the entire air situation, to the last detail, but only in the occupied part of Donbas. And especially, in the area of the village of Snizhne, where, the Buk missile launch site was located, according to an international investigation.

          Head of the Russia’s radio technical troops of the Aerospace Forces of Russia General Koban said that had the missile been fired from the areas of Donetsk region beyond the Ukrainian government control, Russian radars would have recorded such fact. Apparently, that’s the very radar that “saw” the Ukrainian Su-25 two years ago...

          To be more convincing, the General even told how the "eyes" of the Russian army monitor a much smaller object loitering along the Russian-Ukrainian border – a Russian drone Orlan-10. He claimed that if such a small object was identified, the Russians would have never missed a missile launch from the bordering part of the seized Donbas. But there’s another thing regarding these Orlan UAVs. As soon as the Ukrainian military manage to shoot them down, this hi-tech miracle of the Russian aeronautic industry automatically "goes on vacation" (just like the Russian troops going into Ukraine since 2014), while Russian "partners" once again pretend that the UAV is not theirs, and they have nothing to do with it.

          Thus, the Russian Ministry of Defense, or rather, the Ministry of Misinformation has reached another frontier of lies. As soon as the evidence has been collected of the insolvency of their earlier tales of Ukrainian aircraft, they jump over to the version of a Ukrainian Buk.

          Later, when the investigators call by name the whole crew of the Russian Buk, strayed in Donbas, the Russian Defense Ministry will come up with some new excuse. And it looks like it will continue indefinitely. Or until what is happening in eastern Ukraine is also called by its proper name. Until the wandering of the Russian troops in the Ukrainian lands is officially recognized as invasion. New frontier of Russian lies - news about politics | unian | UNIAN

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          • Sep. 28, 2016 UT UKRAINE TODAY
            Putin's regime now has all signs of fascism – expert

            Ukrainian political expert Oleh Belokolos on latest changes of Russia's ruling regime

            According to the famous historian Norman Davies, fascism, like communism, can be defined by the following features:

            ----A pseudo-scientific conceptual basis
            ----A utopian goal
            ----A structure of a party-state
            ----An autocratic leadership that demands complete devotion
            ----Pervasive use of terror to prevent and eradicate dissent
            ----Extensive and complex bureaucracy
            ----State propaganda and censorship
            ----Martial culture and aesthetics of force
            ----Purposely induced fear of the ever-present external enemy
            ----Mentality of hate and intolerance
            ----Economic and mental collectivism
            ----Contempt for liberal democracy and values
            ----Moral nihilism

            Clearly, in one form or another, all of those are also characteristics of the Putin regime. Today, after the resent parliamentary elections in Russia, President Putin has the unquestionable control over Parliament, Government, courts, media and the most profitable sectors of the country's economy. To strengthen it further, he plans to reshuffle and consolidate the so-called "silovoy blok" – the repressive apparatus and intelligence service – by creating the new colossal iron-fist structure, the Ministry of the State Security.

            So, we have every reason to declare that modern Russia is in fact, an authoritarian state with the genuine fascist elements, most prominently – the oppressive nature, the militarization of society, strict control over the mass media and complete disregard to human life.

            However, what is most dangerous for the outside world is what makes the very core of any fascist or authoritarian regime – its aggressiveness, unpredictability and cynicism towards international law. The latter is especially dangerous when the dictator who considers himself infallible and has access to nuclear weapons. Putin's Russia: Putin's regime now has all signs of fascism – expert

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            • Director of World Jewish Congress: "Millions of Ukrainians fought against Nazis"
              The Executive Director of the World Jewish Congress, Israel's Laurence Weinbaum notes the need to honor Ukrainians who fought against the Nazis, according to an UNIAN correspondent.
              UNIAN 28 Sept 2016

              "We came here today to remember the terrible tragedy that befell the Jews of Kyiv and surrounding areas – it is Babii Yar, the 75th anniversary of the events," Weinbaum said at a briefing in Kyiv, adding that "it was Germany's plans to destroy the Jewish people."

              He noted that there were many difficulties in Ukraine today. "A lot of obstacles. And it will be very difficult to overcome these problems," he said and thanked the Ukrainian authorities for the organization of ceremonies. Read also Shimon Peres, former Israeli president, dies aged 93 - BBC

              Weinbaum noted that millions of Ukrainians had fought against Nazism. "Millions of Ukrainians fought in the armies against the Nazis. And we also have to remember them," he said adding that there were also some local people, who played a negative role, contributing to the worsening of the situation.

              According to Weinbaum, it is necessary to understand the complex historical legacy. "This is a process that will probably take a very long time. Generations will pass before it is possible to see if there are developments in Ukrainian society on the development and understanding of the situation," he said.

              Director of World Jewish Congress: "Millions of Ukrainians fought against Nazis"

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              • Kyiv becomes leader in financing R&R for children
                Deputy Chairman of Kyiv City State Administration Hanna Starostenko has said that Kyiv city authorities provided quality informative rest and recreation for more than 8,000 Kyiv children in 2016, which is 2,500 more than in the previous year.
                UNIAN 28 Sept 2016

                "One of the most important tasks was to provide rest for the greatest possible number of children from poor families, children with disabilities, orphans and children of the victims and ATO participants," she said during a meeting on summing up the summer-time rehabilitation and recreation of Kyiv children.

                "This year, Kyiv became the leader in terms of financing summer rest and recreation of the city children, having allocated more than UAH 45,360 million. Using these funds, we improved the health of 5,632 children and sent another 2,572 children for summer vacations. We are grateful to everyone involved, especially team leaders, physicians, directors of institutions for their work, attention and love for young Kyiv citizens," Starostenko said.

                According to the deputy chairman, the city government paid special attention to ensuring R&R of orphans and children deprived of parental care (507 children were provided with rest and recreation); children from large families (2,250 children); children of the victims and participants of the ATO (513 children); children who need special treatment (1,194 children). Additionally, more than 3,000 talented children, art groups, and sports teams went on vacations with the municipal assistance in 2016.

                Starostenko added that the Ministry of Social Policy, which coordinates recreation for children assessed this year's results as successful.

                Kyiv becomes leader in financing R&R for children | UNIAN

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                • New media platform for IDPs launched in Ukraine
                  New media platform "Polilog" intended for internally displaced persons (IDPs) was presented in Kyiv on September 23, Crimean news portal Krym.Realii reported.
                  UNIAN 24 Sept 2016

                  The platform includes a website, official social media pages and a TV talk show planned to be launched on Channel 5 in October.

                  Pavlo Novykov, the curator of Polilog, says the platform's mission is about getting united in order to achieve common goals. Its motto reads: "Speak. Listen. Act."

                  "Our country has learned to pronounce monologues, bargain between the two, but the country has to learn to negotiate in communities, groups; learn to find compromises in these groups. The task number one pursued by our online platform for IDPs is to unite them around some problematic issues, find something in common, and later, for example, even launch group-buying services," Novikov said.

                  People displaced from Crimea, Luhansk and Donetsk have contributed to the launch of the platform, it is reported.

                  "We want to see high quality, but we want to achieve this quality with the involvement of people who have gained first-hand experience," Novikov was quoted as saying.

                  Representatives of the Ukrainian government, media community and NGOs, as well as religious leaders were present during the launch of the platform.

                  Representatives of the Ukrainian government, media community and NGOs, as well as religious leaders were present during the launch of the platform.
                  "I want everyone to know: this is not about charity, it refers to investment. We invest funds, and this investment will have a return of 150% for the population. This is the most profitable investment ... When we talk about IDPs from Donbas and Crimea, we're talking about educated, intelligent and successful people, who have achieved something in their lives, had a good life, reached high results, but they have lost everything and they have to make a new beginning. Give them your support, and this start will help them get on their feet, be efficient not only for themselves but for the entire Ukrainian society," said Rabbi Pinchas Vishedsky, the exiled chief rabbi of Donetsk.

                  According to Ukraine's Social Policy Ministry, some 1.789,000 IDPs from the annexed Crimea and the country’s east were registered as of late June 2016. According to estimates, the number of Crimean residents who moved to Ukraine’s mainland ranges from 30,000 to 60,000 people, with a third of them being the Crimean Tatars. They mostly live in Kyiv, Lviv, Mykolaiv, Kherson and Dnipropetrovsk regions.

                  New media platform for IDPs launched in Ukraine | UNIAN

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                  • Biggest store with Ukrainian-made clothes opens on Khreshchatyk - Kyiv Post
                    Ukraine’s biggest store selling outfits and accessories made by local producers, Vsi Svoi, opened in central Kyiv this week, according to the Kyiv Post.
                    UNIAN 23 Sept 2016

                    The store, at 27 Khreshchatyk St., opened in the premises of the former Grand Gallery premium clothing store. The store’s three floors stock around 150 Ukrainian brands of clothes, accessories, bags, lingerie and shoes, the Kyiv Post reported.

                    All of the Ukrainian-made items were selected up by the store’s owner, Anna Lukovkina, the founder of the Vsi Svoi market, which is held in the city’s D12 Gallery once a month.

                    With Ukrainian-made goods proving popular after the EuroMaidan Revolution, Lukovkina decided to gather them all together in one place.

                    "People are often surprised by the quality and quantity of Ukrainian-made clothes, and their uniqueness," Lukovkina told the Kyiv Post.

                    She said that only the most popular brands on a market, made by those who make clothes for a living rather than hobbyists, won spots in the store. Once a brand has launched its own mass production, she said, they tend to make clothes of good quality at reasonable prices.

                    With the opening of the store, the market will now focus on young designers who are just presenting their first collections.

                    “People are sometimes very critical of local brands,” Lukovkina said. “If they see flaws in the clothes at mass markets, they’re OK with it. But if some local brand makes mistakes (with their clothes in the store), the negative feedback will be very strong. So I think we need to support them, and, in turn, they won’t let us down.”

                    Biggest store with Ukrainian-made clothes opens on Khreshchatyk - Kyiv Post

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                    • Israeli company wants to build roads in Ukraine, open representative office
                      Israeli road construction company Shapir intends to open a representative office in Ukraine and participate in tenders for the repair and construction of Ukrainian roads, Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan wrote on Facebook.
                      UNIAN 28 Sept 2016

                      "This was preceded by several months of negotiations, familiarizing their experts with the realities and potential of our market. A few foreign motorway construction companies are on the way. We break the monopoly of no-names and traditional participants of all tenders. Our condition is legal registration and payment of taxes in Ukraine, new jobs," the minister said.

                      Omelyan said that now it is up to Parliament – to vote for the establishment of the Road Fund.

                      As UNIAN reported earlier, in October 2016, the government expects to submit to the parliament a draft law on the establishment of the Road Fund. The Fund will be the main accumulator of resources to be allocated for road works.

                      Israeli company wants to build roads in Ukraine, open representative office

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                      • 350,000 Ukrainians to pay real estate tax in 2016 – State Fiscal Service The State Fiscal Service of Ukraine (SFSU) in 2016 has accrued tax liabilities on the tax on real property other than land for over 350,000 individuals.
                        UNIAN 28 Sept 2016

                        According to the SFSU's website, tax payers will pay to the budget tax for nearly 454,000 residential properties, taxed at the rates specified in 2015. The citizens have been handed over 440,000 tax notifications.

                        "As of September 26, the budget has already received UAH 149 million in real estate tax revenues. At the same time, until the end of the year, we expect the revenue of more than UAH 250 million," the report says.

                        The SFSU notes that in the citizens wish to appeal the amount of tax calculated, they have the right to apply to the tax authority at the place of residence registration and verify data. But they must do so within 60 days from the date of receipt of a tax notice, as they would have to pay penalties for tax unpaid after the completion of this period.

                        "Those persons who reside in the territory of Ukraine and have a residential property in the territory of the free economic zone in Crimea must also apply to the tax office. They are required to declare such property to determine the total base and benefits for tax payments," the report reads.

                        350,000 Ukrainians to pay real estate tax in 2016 – State Fiscal Service

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                        • Elon Musk plans to get humans to Mars in 6 yrs SpaceX founder Elon Musk has outlined his highly ambitious vision for manned missions to Mars, which he said could begin as soon as 2022 – three years sooner than his previous estimates, stressing his only purpose is to ‘make life interplanetary’, according to The Guardian.
                          UNIAN 28 Sept 2016

                          “What I really want to try to achieve here is to make Mars seem possible – like it’s something we can achieve in our lifetimes,” Musk told an audience in his keynote speech at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Tuesday, The Guardian reports.

                          He said there were “two fundamental paths” facing humanity today. “One is that we stay on Earth forever and then there will be an inevitable extinction event,” he said. “The alternative is to become a spacefaring civilization, and a multi-planetary species.”

                          In order to achieve this goal, Musk outlined a multi-stage launch and transport system, including a reusable booster – like the Falcon 9, which SpaceX has already successfully tested – only much larger. It could initially carry up to 100 passengers, he said.

                          The first ship to go to Mars, Musk said, would be named Heart of Gold as a tribute to the ship powered by an “infinite improbability drive” from Douglas Adams’ science fiction novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

                          Musk also outlined a system by which fuel could be synthesized on Mars from water and carbon dioxide in order to fuel return journeys to Earth.

                          He estimated the current cost of sending someone to Mars at “around $10bn per person”, though it was not clear if he meant using existing rocket systems or on the initial flight of his proposed system. He said that there would be price improvements over time because of the reusability of the spacecraft, in-orbit refuelling and on-Mars propellant production that would reduce that cost by “orders of magnitude”.

                          NASA said in a statement that it welcomed Musk’s plans. “NASA applauds all those who want to take the next giant leap – and advance the journey to Mars. We are very pleased that the global community is working to meet the challenges of a sustainable human presence on Mars. This journey will require the best and the brightest minds from government and industry, and the fact that Mars is a major topic of discussion is very encouraging.

                          Elon Musk plans to get humans to Mars in 6 yrs | UNIAN

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                          • UT UKRAINE TODAY Sep. 27, 2016
                            From Israeli Tel Aviv to Ukrainian Uman

                            Thousands of Hasidim are arriving in Ukraine for the Hebrew Year 5777 celebration

                            On October 2-4, Israelis will celebrate the Jewish New Year. Major celebrations of Rosh Hashanah traditionally take place at the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, the founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement. A record number of pilgrims is expected for the 5,777-th New Year.

                            More than 2,500 of Hasidim are already in Uman town. Ukraine is awaiting a mass pilgrimage of Jews to celebrate their new year - Rosh Hashanah

                            At Zhuliany Airport, where the first charter flight with 160 Hasidim aboard landed, Ukrainian taxi drivers are waiting for their Israeli customers. The standard price to Uman is around UAH 1,000 (USD 40). For the newcomers, they make discounts. However, the majority of pilgrims have ordered buses beforehand, which will take them to the city.

                            Local residents of Uman are also ready to earn some extra money during the celebrations, despite inconveniences caused by thousands of people coming to their city. One night in an apartment costs around USD 100.

                            Some people, who came for the pilgrimage to Ukraine, are surprised about the cold weather, especially compared to Israel.

                            Each year breaks the record for pilgrims travelling to Uman. This year is not an exception - up to 50,000 Hasidim are expected. Boryspil International airport is expecting 81 charter flights by the end of the week.

                            Hasidim believe that if you meet the New Year near a zaddik grave, the whole the next year will be full of happiness. Rosh Hashanah: From Israeli Tel Aviv to Ukrainian Uman

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                            • Russia can’t wait a day with new repression against Umerov & other Crimean Tatars
                              29.09.16 | Halya Coynash HUMAN RIGHTS IN UKRAINE

                              Ilmi Umerov, Deputy Head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis and recent victim of punitive psychiatry has again been brought before a court in Russian-occupied Crimea. This time he was ‘only’ fined 750 roubles [just over 10 EUR] however the reason and the timing are disturbingly cynical.

                              He and another member of the Mejlis, Ali Khamzin received summonses in the last two days, with both fined (Khamzin 1 thousand roubles). The Mejlis members were accused of having taken part “in a meeting of a civic organization banned in Russia”. It is likely that other fines will be imposed over the assumed meeting which resulted in the formal expulsion of three members of the Mejlis who chose to collaborate with the occupation regime. The FSB have all prominent Crimean Tatars under permanent surveillance and on Sept. 26, a number of members both of the Mejlis, and of the Qurultay, or National Congress of Crimean Tatars, received phone calls summoning them to the so-called Centre for Countering Extremism. Many refused to go, saying they would await a written summons. Those who did go say that the officials grilled them over how the decision on expulsion had been taken.

                              Now a court has accepted that this constituted an administrative offence. The very terminology is incorrect since the Crimean Tatar Mejlis is not a ‘civic organization’, but the self-governing body of the main indigenous people of Crimea.

                              The authoritative Memorial Human Rights Centre issued a statement on September 28 regarding the Supreme Court appeal hearing over the ban, at which its lawyers will be representing the Mejlis. Memorial focuses on the nature of the Mejlis, whose 33 members are selected by an elected body – the Qurultay which is, in turn, elected by all Crimean Tatars.

                              This in no way corresponds to any ‘civic organization’ in the Russian Federation, they stress. Such a body is, however, foreseen by Article 5 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This states that:

                              Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State.

                              According to Article 18, they have “the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures…”

                              Russia’s respect for the rights of its own indigenous peoples, let alone those of the Crimean Tatars who in their vast majority oppose Russia’s occupation of their homeland, is purely on paper. In an interview recently, Nariman Dzhelyal, First Deputy Head of the Mejlis said that the Russian authorities are unwilling to engage in any kind of dialogue concerning Crimean Tatar rights, including their right to self-determination and to recognition as the indigenous people of Crimea. The most they’re ready for is to not deny the right of the Crimean Tatars or other ethnic groups to cultural and spiritual development.

                              Even that needs to be qualified, since any move away from the ‘official’ position – on religion, for example, is likely to be stamped down upon as ‘extremist’.

                              In the Mejlis’ case, the alleged ‘extremism’ lies elsewhere: in its unwavering conviction that Crimea is a part of Ukraine and that Russia should end its occupation. That has been enough for Russia to imprison one Mejlis leader Akhtem Chiygoz, and to charge Ilmi Umerov with ‘separatism’.

                              Fears that repressive measures will escalate once the Mejlis ban comes into force have been as good as confirmed in advance. Nobody seriously expects Russia’s Supreme Court to do anything but rubberstamp the ban on Sept 29. It is still telling that, in the fines imposed on Umerov and Khamzin, courts in Russian-occupied Crimea didn’t bother to even attempt any pretence. Russia cant wait a day with new repression against Umerov & other Crimean Tatars ::

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                              • UKRAINE CRISIS MEDIA CENTER
                                Timothy Snyder: Babyn Yar and its lessons for modern Ukraine - American historian offers his vision of history lessons on the 75 years since a massive Jewish tragedy.


                                The war, as such. According to Timothy Snyder, there could not be Babyn Yar and the murder of Ukrainian Jews without such a special kind of war as World War II. “Hitler aimed to conquer Ukraine because it played a very special role in his thinking. When he spoke of a “living space,” he primarily implied Ukraine. Therefore, the war in the West was conducted by entirely different methods than in the East, where it was a war of extermination and colonization,” noted Mr. Snyder.

                                Ideology. In Hitler’s ideology, Jews and their global conspiracy were the reason why Germany could not be victorious. According to Hitler, Jews were responsible for originating all the obstacles that stood in Germany’s way – communism, capitalism or Christianity, any rules and ethics.

                                Lawlessness. To exterminate Jews, they had to be withdrawn from the field of law. With every seizure of another country and destruction of its statehood, the actions against Jews became more radical.

                                Babyn Yar – a precedent of massacres

                                Mr. Snyder emphasized that Babyn Yar provided Nazi Germany with the killing method. There was no plan before Babyn Yar. “After Babyn Yar they understood that they can massacre. At the end of September 1941, they had a model: shooting conducted by Germans with the help of local people. This way they exterminated 95% of Jews who were under their control in the occupied territory of the Soviet Union. Auschwitz was later. They just changed the technology with the use of gas chambers. It was just Babyn Yar which showed that the Holocaust is possible,” explained the historian.

                                Remembrance and oblivion

                                Mr. Snyder believes that civil society always keep in its memory the past. “Where there is civil society, there are always people who care about history. A functioning civil society is always concerned with the truth about the past. It is very topical for Ukraine today. The commemoration of Babyn Yar demonstrates the functioning of civil society in Ukraine. If it ever disappears, we will see at once because the works about Babyn Yar will disappear,” Mr. Snyder stressed.

                                According to Timothy Snyder, the Holocaust is universal. It cannot be considered only as part of the history of a country. “Criticism and thorough analysis rather than creation of myths – the best way to build a nation,” noted the expert. He reminded that Metropolitan Sheptytsky asserted that one should help one’s neighbor. That was why people rescued Jews during World War II. “This gives us an idea on what a neighbor is. But it also gives us an idea of ​​what a nation is. If the Holocaust is remembered as a history of someone else, there will not be an inclusive political nation. If it is remembered as a history of interaction, where people behaved better or worse, there is a chance to build a political nation,” emphasized Mr. Snyder.

                                Holocaust vs Holodomor

                                The party states were responsible both for the Holocaust and for the Holodomor. Their ideologies called for the creation of the enemy images: Jews and rich peasants respectively. The state policy was directed against defenseless groups. The difference between the two phenomena was that the Holocaust sought to exterminate all Jews, while the Holodomor – to punish rather than exterminate all Ukrainians. “People in the West, and sometimes in Ukraine cannot understand how horrible the Holodomor was not only for victims of forced starvation, but even more for the people who survived. I find it inappropriate to compare these phenomena. We must remember the Holocaust and the Holodomor as they were,” concluded Mr. Snyder.

                                There is no history of nation states; there is only the history of empires

                                Ukraine for Hitler and Stalin was just the area that had to be colonized. “Confrontation of German and Soviet army in struggling for Ukraine is the last imperialist war. Imperialism ended with the end of World War II,” the American historian considers. According to him, Europe has learned nothing after the war. They learned later, when they lost their colonies in Asia and Africa. Then they started to think about the creation of the EU. The same is true for Germany, when it lost Ukraine in the Second World War. “The EU is a place where countries go to when they have an “imperial hangover.” This is what the country agreed to, when they realized that the empire is no longer possible,” noted Mr.Snyder.

                                However, after 1991 there was another narrative for Eastern Europe. “A wonder of the European Union is that it brings together the countries that were previously the metropolitan ones and the countries that were parts of the empire. And they are equal here. Ukraine is a test of whether the former empire part can join the European system. Europe also needs Ukraine. The EU must expand. This is the nature of the European project,” Timothy Snyder believes.

                                Trump, Putin and post-truth society

                                Donald Trump, as well as Volodymyr Putin, creates fictitious realities around them. In Russia, it has become a reality for the whole country. But this is a general phenomenon that threatens all. “It is associated with fascism, because it originates from the assertion that there is neither empirical reality nor gradual progress. Instead, there are a “bright future” and shows to the public,” noted Timothy Snyder. According to him, Trump is not a businessman, he is a TV star. But he also makes anti-Semitic and racist statements. “Trump wants to be like Putin because he already has money and power,” he concluded. Timothy Snyder: Babyn Yar and its lessons for modern Ukraine | UACRISIS.ORG

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