Tag Archives: Russia

Russian #Crimea – Where children of Donbass recover from WAR

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


Impressions from #Crimea (3/3) – Naval Pride

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

Impressions from #Crimea (2/3) – Cheerful identity

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

Impressions from #Crimea (1/3)

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)

Flight #MH17 – Countering the sickening blame games on this dark day

It has been a dark difficult day for me like for so many others today. Remembering the victims of Flight MH17, thinking about everything that was written and said about this horrible incident, including my own words. We wend to church today, my girlfriend and newly found family at my side. We mourned together, we prayed together. We were close, as family and that means more to me than I am able to express. Back at my aunt’s house, tears overwhelmed me and I cried, my family cried with me. Again I felt flashes of anger boiling inside me, feelings I don’t want to have but I can’t avoid. My aunt sensed it, held my hand and just sat there with me. I felt what it means to have a family on this dark sad day.

And then I got a message from my dear friend Anna, a shocking message which sums up all the damage done by all the blame games going on since the massacre of Flight MH17. She wrote me “Do you hate me today?”. I tried to call her immediately but she didn’t answer the calls. But she wrote another message. “Your press all say we did it. Please don’t hate me for this!”.

My dear sweet friend finally answered the phone after many tries.

I don’t hate you, how could I hate you? Why should I hate you, you are my friend!

But they all blames us for killing your people a year ago. They all hate us for it, you also.

I don’t care what they write or what they say and no matter what, I don’t hate you. You are my friend!

But what if it was us? What if we did this?

We both know it wasn’t you and we both don’t know who it was. We will have to wait what the investigations show and no matter what it will show, it wasn’t you.

Will you still talk to me when they say it was us?

When that happens, I will talk even more to you than I do now. You are my friend, we have been friends since we were kids.
Continue reading Flight #MH17 – Countering the sickening blame games on this dark day

Flight #MH17 – Who allowed this to happen?

There are ongoing investigation into the crash of Flight MH17 by JIT and DSB which might or might not identify who is responsible for the attack on the commercial airliner in 17 July 2014. But there is another question to be answered which might help saving lives in the future:

Who allowed this to happen?

A friend does trainings coachings on the topic of Health and Safety for companies and his booklet provides a practical checklist for incidents every manager should ask himself whenever an incident occurred.. Two questions from this checklist keep circling my mind in relation to the crash of Flight MH17:

What have you done to prevent this?

What will you do to prevent this from happening again?

Looking at the days before the attack on Flight MH17 and at the current situation in various war-zones and unstable regions around the world, the answer to both questions appears to be “ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

Continue reading Flight #MH17 – Who allowed this to happen?

Flight #MH17 – Investigations and jurisdiction

After the downing of Flight MH17 over embattled Eastern Ukraine on 17/07/2014, killing 298 civilians on board the plane, 3 (!) investigations were initiated by two separated bodies of authority:

  1. The Dutch Safety Board (DSB), under authority of the United Nations body International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and in agreement with the Ukrainian State Aviation Administration (SAA) and Ukrainian National Bureau of Incidents and Accidents Investigation of Civil Aircraft (NBAAII) , opened the Aviation Security Investigation for the incident in which it is to determine what caused the crash of Flight MH17 and is also expected to provide recommendations to prevent such incidents in the future. The DSB has published a preliminary report in which it excluded technical and human failure as possible causes for the crash. An updated reported was distributed to the participants, being:
    1. The Netherlands (*)
    2. Ukraine (*)
    3. Russian Federation
    4. United States of America
    5. Malaysia
    6. United Kingdom
    7. Belgium (*)
    8. Australia (*)
  2. The DSB under the same authority, opened an investigation into the decision making process under which the airspace over embattled Eastern Ukraine was not closed prior to the incident, despite multiple aviation incidents in which military planes have been shutdown from various flight levels in the days prior to the crash of Flight MH17.
  3. The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) (*), per agreement between the member countries under the leadership of the Justice Department of The Netherlands, opened the criminal investigation into the crash of Flight MH17 in which it will seek evidence of the guilty party/parties and adequate evidence for prosecution.

Although these investigations by the DSB and JIT will have significant overlap in available data and resources, it is important to understand the difference. First and foremost, the DSB will focus on the Aviation Safety related issues of the incident and recommendation for prevention. This investigation is bound by the rules of and authorized by the ICAO, which also stipulates that all ICAO members are obliged to participate in and contribute to the investigation on request of the leading committee. ICAO also stipulates that all members are bound to recognize the final outcome of the investigation and the ruling by the investigative body. None of this applies to the work of the JIT!

Continue reading Flight #MH17 – Investigations and jurisdiction

Why Crimea is not Kosovo – a follow up on The Kosovo Precedent

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):

  1. 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.
  2. 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

‘No promises’ on EU membership for Eastern states at Riga summit


It doesn’t come as a surprise that the EU isn’t making any solid commitments to former Soviet and East Block states. The path of conflict with Russia that the EU has chosen has shown a negative impact in the already challenged European economy. With Italy, Portugal and others struggling to survive, Greece at or over the edge of default and Britain openly flirting with Brexit, the EU is on overload with homemade problems.

By pushing Ukraine in 2013 to decide between Russia or a potential EU membership, it pushed Ukraine into a conflict in which it lost 80% of this business with the Russian and affiliated market. EU countries have seen the growing Russian market decline to below 40% of its 2012 value. So what should EU commit to? More problems, declining exports to Russia and China, and a roadmap for conflict?

Turn back to your traditional and cultural partner! Sit down with your Russian partners and work out your problems! Don’t focus on EU to lead you to become a subordinate of the USA by becoming a subordinate of the EU.

When Crimea is a problem for you, please remember that you used Article 72 of the Soviet Constitution to establish your independence and you were entitled to do so by that same Soviet Constitution. Crimea was deprived of that Constitutional Right and you know that very well. The Constitutional Right which gave you your independence is the same Constitutional Right which legalizes Crimea to determine their own future as part of Russia. Remember that when you decide who your real partner is!

Kind regards,

Novorossiya – The unkept promise!

During his televised annual Q&A on 17 April 2014, Mr. Putin spoke about the transition of Crimea to Russia and appraised the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation for their role in securing the referendum on the Autonomous Republic. By this statement, Mr. Putin openly admi antted what everybody already knew, the “little green men”, by the Russian majority of Crimea affectionately called Polite People”, were Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and Mr. Putin was very proud of them, grateful for their contributions to bringing Crimea back home. Back from Stepmother Ukraine to the loving arms of Mother Russia.

In that same televised session, which had a record length of almost 4 hours, Mr. Putin also addressed Novorossiya. The south-eastern area of Ukraine with their historical and cultural ties to Russia. The population of Novorossiya feeling, breathing, thinking, speaking and even dreaming Russian. The Russians in Ukraine, Donbass and beyond. Mr. Putin spoke about them, spoke to them, spoke with them. During days filled with fear for what would come from the nationalist who seized power in Kiev, Mr. Putin spoke to them. Mr. Putin, the President of Russia, much more their President than anyone in Kiev can and will ever be.

Mr. Putin also addressed Russian’s right and obligation to protect those who feel Russian, no matter if they are living within the borders of the Russian Federation or not. All this, in one moving televised interview, changed fear of what would come from Kiev in to hope of what would come from Moscow. The message that the population of Novorossiya understood was crystal clear: “Say the word, express your wish and we will protect you. Just like we did in Crimea.”

Continue reading Novorossiya – The unkept promise!