During our vacation on Crimea, we visited a summer camp for children. Until last year, this was an ordinary summer camp where children from Ukraine and Russia enjoyed a few days in the beautiful nature of Crimea. After last year’s slow season with record low bookings after the reunification with Russia, the idea was born to find ways to allow children from war torn Donbass to come here and spend some time in a peaceful surrounding and recover from the traumas they have to endure. The team of volunteers working on this idea was hoping to be able to find enough sponsors for 200 children and enough volunteers to support the staff in handling this. 24 hours after the first contacts, this goal was already achieved and a few months later the full capacity for 2015 was reserved for children of war.
Large contributions came in from businessmen and companies and a steady flow of donations from the local Crimean population matter just as much. Some volunteers travel to Crimea on their own expenses to help make this happen, youth organizations from all corners of Crimea help this and other summer camps organize events and take care of the children around the clock. There are so many contributions that the staff is already planning 2016. And that is actually a sad step because it shows that nobody on the staff is expecting the war to end, everybody is expecting that more and more children will need to recover from their traumatic experiences.
Children are our future but what future do these children of war have? What have they done to deserve this? Those children like all other children. Their smiles are beautiful when they are able to smile. But their eyes show their traumas, their pain. Their eyes, which are said to be the mirrors of the soul, show what they experienced. Some have scars on their skin, all have scars on their souls. This is expression of gratitude for everyone who is doing whatever they can to make this happen for these children.
Thank you Crimea, for giving these children of war a safe place to recover!
Continue reading Russian #Crimea – Where children of Donbass recover from WAR
Victory Day has always been a big thing on Crimea and now it is even bigger. Contrary to a growing majority in Ukraine, Crimea didn’t turn its back on the sacrifice made by the Soviet Union to defeat the Nazi occupiers and liberate the occupied countries including Crimea. I am told that the past 2 celebrations on Victory Day were even bigger events than normally because now this historical event is also seen as celebration of the reunification with Russia and the sacred oath of Russia to always defend Crimea as it has done so many times, too many times, in the past. There is however a day which has an even stronger emotional value for the Crimean population and that is Naval Day. It is said that every citizen of Crimea has at least 1 family member who serves or served in the Navy. The Black Sea Fleet with its home-base on Crimea in its different roles and size over the path of history, has always been of high importance to the rulers of Russia, from the Russian Tsars to the Soviet Union, and post-Soviet leaders of Russia. The Black Sea Fleet was the main point of negotiation and tension between Ukraine and Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union and the main pressure point for the USA during this phase. Some even suggest that access to the Crimean naval bases was the main reason for the USA to be involved in the Ukrainian Revolution last year and I tend to agree with that argumentation.
The Black Sea Fleet and its power base in the Black Sea and neighboring countries was also the reason that Crimea was attacked and occupied over and over again. During the Crimean War by British, French and Italian forces with support of the falling Ottoman Empire. During World War I by the German Empire. During the Russian Revolution after Crimea declaring itself a Soviet Republic by the White Army with support of British, French, Italian, Greek and Croatian Forces. During World War II by Nazi German, Romanian, Italian and Slovak and Croatian Forces. All these occupations have several things in common. Sevastopol and its surrounding natural fortified bases were always the main objective for the occupiers and Sevastopol was always the last city to fall after massive destruction by the attackers. On all occasions, the attackers and occupiers were joined by elements of Ukrainian and Tatar militias. And every occupation of Crimea showed severe ethnic cleansing against the native Russian population, reaching its dark and diabolical height during the occupation by Nazi forces. And it was always the Navy that took the last stance to defend Crimea and its population. It was always the Navy that undertook dangerous missions to evacuate civilians for approaching enemies. And during all occupations by the enemies of Crimea, it was always the Navy that made the first effort to liberate Crimea again. The Navy also played a major role in securing the referendum and reunification last year. So it is only understandable that the Navy is a big thing for Crimea and the Crimean population.
Continue reading Impressions from #Crimea (3/3) – Naval Pride
As soon as you arrive on Crimea, you will notice the happy cheerful display of the Russian identity. Everywhere you go, everywhere you look. The Russian identity is proudly displayed in every thinkable way. Very popular are the shape of Crimea in the colors of the Russian Flag, of course the Russian Flag itself, the outline of Russia including the Crimean Peninsula and basically anything that carries the colors White, Blue and Red. The only thing that comes close to the popularity of the Russian colors and the Russian flag is the portrait of Mr. Putin. People wearing shirts and jackets with his image, books, magazines, paintings on the walls, Mr. Putin is everywhere. Where World War II made many Heroes of the Soviet Union defending and liberating Crimea, Mr. Putin has become the undisputed Hero of Crimea in modern times by making the reunification with Motherland Russia happen. The next popular image are the Polite People in any way, shape or form, which filled the streets of Crimea during the referendum which lead to the reunification with Russia. The reunification so many craved for, the reunification the Crimean Parliament worked for since 1991 but wasn’t heard by neither Kiev nor Moscow.
Not aware that any of my work on the Crimean Constitution and the right for self-determination would become reality in the near future, I participated in conferences on this topic in Yalta in 2010 and 2012. Where I now see proud display of the regained Russian Identity of Crimea, I didn’t see that level of display of Ukrainian Identity on Crimea back then. There was an Ukrainian flag every now and then, mainly on official buildings, schools and the entrances of hotels where many other colors were flying, including Russian flags. In 2012, just weeks before EURO2012 started, there were certainly more Ukrainian flags carried by football fans, just like there were Russian flags carried by other fans. But nothing of that compares to how Crimea is now expressing being part of Russia and being proud of that.
Continue reading Impressions from #Crimea (2/3) – Cheerful identity
After visiting Crimea in 2010 and 2012 before the reunification and again three times this year, I want to share my impressions and the differences I have observed first hand during this trips. These are my personal observations and impressions, describing what caught my attention. A personal experience, seen through my eyes. In following posts, I will share my observations and opinions about what I have seen and experienced after leaving the airport but now I have share my experience with the airport. The same airport that was once in Ukrainian hands and left my with the most horrible travel experiences I have made since I’m handicapped.
In the past, Ukrainian Air Lines left me fully exposed to my handicap in the worst travel experience since I became handicapped!
The first impression Crimea made on me this year is a very personal and positive experience which you might only understand when you depend on your wheelchair to be mobile and independent. To put this in the proper perspective, you need to understand that with my wheelchair I am fully independent except for those odd moments where I need someone’s help to overcome an obstacle. I work out and exercise a lot to be able to overcome as much obstacles as possible without any help because my independence is very important to me. My girlfriend sometimes complains that I’m so stubborn and refuse even her help when I’m convinced that I can handle the situation alone. Once, so long ago that it seems like a different lifetime, I could climb mountains and jump from staggering heights to land on my feet with my parachute and after that run for miles with heavy package without getting tired. Those days are gone and done, nowadays my wheelchair have replaced the legs that once carried me wherever I want to go and I am proud of being able to go (almost) wherever I want with my wheelchair. Almost like in the old days.
Continue reading Impressions from #Crimea (1/3)
A follow up to The Kosovo Precedent and to answer the many questions about the relevance of the Kosovo Precedent to the case of Crimea.
The Kosovo Precedent in its legal component does not apply to Crimea and its democratic decision to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation as part of Russia for the following reasons (see also Crimea’s peaceful struggle for independence):
- The ruling on the Unilateral Declaration of Independence of Kosovo applies to regions of countries which have no Constitutional provisioning for a seceding process or are bound by a Constitutional body which would demand a majority ruling of the entire country without reflecting the regional interests and cultural backgrounds as is the case with the Ukrainian Constitution. The Autonomous Republic Crimea did and does have a ratified Constitution which does provide for the democratic process of referendum to change the state of the Republic and does authorize the parliament of the Autonomous Republic Crimea to initiate such process.
- The Autonomous Republic Crimea was prior to its occupation by Nazi Germany and its Allies during World War II, a Soviet Republic and as such the Autonomous Republic Crimea was already entitled to decide on its own future by the means of referendum under the Soviet Constitution as well as the Soviet decree by which other Soviet States were entitled to hold such referendums which let to the breakup of the Soviet Union.
In short, Crimea was already provisioned for this process by its ratified Constitution and confirmed status as (former) Soviet Republic whereas Kosovo did not have such provisioning to which the “Kosovo Precedent” applies. But as explained in my previous post, there is more to the Kosovo Precedent: the use of military force by a foreign nation. Continue reading Why Crimea is not Kosovo – a follow up on The Kosovo Precedent
Every now and then, a western media employed reported feels the need to write an article about “the horrible situation on Crimea under Russian occupation” and the “despair of the people on Crimea”. Favorite examples to prove their case are lack of food, collapsing economy and terrorizing the population by Russian authorities. Of course, these reporters don’t write their articles by spending time on Crimea, speaking to the people there and find out for themselves. Those articles are written from a comfortable desk, somewhere in Europe or the USA. It makes we wonder if these people are then still reporters or simply paid copywriters for a script, but that is an entirely different topic.
Last week, Mr. Juerg Vollmer, a notorious Russiophobic copywriter, apparently needed some “totally original and convincing” words published so he added all the sagas about the “despair in Crimea” in an article which was accompanied by a picture of empty shelves. Why don’t we have a closer look at this article, just for arguments sake…
Continue reading Crimean food with Stealth Technology and other sagas in western media
What started after the Crimean War was concluded after World War I and the Russian Revolutions. Countries were created after the default of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and the transformation of the Ottoman Empire into modern Turkey. Drawn up borders and created countries started to exist in the former borders of fallen empires without respecting the desires of the population and ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia are examples which were created in 1918 and less than a century later stopped to exist.
Yugoslavia ceased to exist by the hand of violence, a brutal civil war between those members seeking independence and those opposing it and murderous attempts of land grabbing even between those seeking to depart from Yugoslavia. At the height of the civil war, the West intervened with even more brutal violence against the violent Serbian efforts to maintain Yugoslavia as a state or at least extend the territory of Serbia. Both Serbia and Bosnia paid a high price. The first for their struggle against the break up of Yugoslavia, the later for their independence from Yugoslavia and the ruling Serbian power base.Croatia, victim and perpetrator in its attempts to free itself from Yugoslavian and Serbian dominance and at the same time pushing to extend its borders into Bosnian territory, played a dubious role and in the end gained independence into the republic it is today. When Kosovo developed its desire for unilateral declaration of independence, the West stretched all its might and military capabilities to ensure this would take place as requested by the majority of the now independent republic.
Czechoslovakia showed the world another path to break the unwanted union which was created in the vacuum at the beginning of the 20th Century. Negotiations as equal partners, acting and reacting to every hurdle on the path of independence, the former Republic was dismantled into 2 proud and independent republics with a strong bond. Not a bullet was fired! This all was possible, good and bad, in the vacuum which was created by the default of the Soviet Union.
During this process of default, former Soviet Republics had the opportunity and took that opportunity. Ukraine and Belarus, founding members of the United Nations, were greeted into their independence by Western powers. Other former Soviet Republics like Georgia and Uzbekistan followed the same path and declared independence under their own constitutional powers. The Baltic states, disputed Soviet States since they were absorbed under the German-Russian pact, were supported in their strive for independence by the same Western powers and obtained this independence. All implemented treaties, preliminary and ratified constitutions came into force and Western powers and the Russian Federation cooperated to ensure the transitions were done peaceful, ensuring that legislation and will of the people were aligned.
One former Soviet Republic was deprived of this process: Crimea!
Continue reading When Crimea called, nobody was listening. Crimea’s peaceful struggle for independence
After becoming part of the Russian Empire in 1783, the 19th century was a period of relatively calm for Crimea. Driven by a truce between the Russian Empire and its opponents the Ottoman Empire and British Empire, the Black Sea was neutralized and Crimea was no longer the prime target to weaken the Russian Empire and the strong Black Sea Fleet stationed in and around Sevastopol.
Aside from recent developments on the peninsula Crimea, the 20th century shaped the political environment of Crimea with more dynamics than most European countries endured over multiple centuries.
The Russian Revolutions which started in 1905, partially raging in parallel to World War I, and their aftermath leading to forming the Soviet Union in 1922, also had their impact on the political environment of Crimea. Ahead of many other later Soviet States, Crimea declared itself Crimean People’s Republic in 1917 and installed its first formal Constitution as independent Crimean People’s Republic in early 1918 which was ratified by the Authoritative Parliament of the Republic. (Thanks to my friend and mentor throughout all phases of my professional life, I am the proud owner of a rare copy of this Constitution and a certified translation). Challenged by all influences and fractions playing their part , the Crimean Republic continued to expand its political and legal foundation as a republic and its alliance with the socialists movement which eventually founds it destiny in the Soviet Union.
Continue reading A prelude to pleading the Crimea Case, Part 2
The peninsula of Crimea has become in the focus of attention in February 2014 and for many, that is also the moment that the history of Crimea started. A part of Ukraine and suddenly occupied and annexed by force by the Russian Federation, where Ukrainians and Tatars used to live in peace until Russia came. At least, that is what Main Stream Media wants us to believe and shockingly high amounts of people actually do believe. On the question where, if this would be true, suddenly all those ethnic Russian citizens of Crimea came from, in most case the answer is “those are retired Russian service men with their families, they don’t belong on Crimea”. Given the fact that the fast majority of the Crimean population is ethnically Russian, that would add up to an amount of retired service men and families that by far exceeds the manning of the Black Sea Fleet stationed at Crimea.
The true Russian roots of Crimea start in 1783, when the Crimean Khanate fell to the Russian Empire, after centuries of occupation by many, including Bulgars, Khazars, Kipchaks, the “Golden Horde”, and period of ruling by the Ottoman Empire. Just to put this in historical perspective:
- Canada was founded much later in 1867
- The USA declared independence just years earlier in 1776 and had their independence war still ahead of them.
- Germany as we now know it and as it pulled the world into World Wars which also raged on Crimea, was founded even later than Canada, in 1871.
- Ukraine as we now know it, was still to be founded by the Soviet Union in the 20th Century and in this historical time frame divided in different states and part of different empires, including The Ottoman Empire, The Polish Kingdom, The Austro-Hungarian Empire and even Lithuania, with a small Cossack Republic which disappeared as fast as it emerged.
- Belgium, later a ruler of parts of Africa and beneficiary of the aftermath of the Crimean War, was founded in 1830.
- The Netherlands has a longer history as Nation and attempts to destroy this nation since 1648.
Continue reading A prelude to pleading the Crimea Case, Part 1