sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

March 31, 2014

Odessa Conflict – March 30th

Filed under: politics — edge of the sandbox @ 2:46 pm

edge of the sandbox:

Near-riot on Potemkin Steps in Odessa, Ukraine between Maidan and Antimaidan:

Originally posted on Brit in Ukraine:

Earlier in the day there have been mass peaceful demonstrations, from both pro-Ukraine and pro-Russian sides. I arrive to Odessa’s iconic Potemkin Stairs around 4.45pm, to find this -

Here’s a look at both sides. There are more numbers on the pro-Russia side, well over 1000 in the area of confict, Primorskiy Boulevard -

Here’s a look at the pro-Russia side -

Odessa demo

The pro-Ukrainian side, around 200 to begin with, so heavily outnumbered, are more heavily armed. What the Ukraine side don’t want, is for the pro-Russian side to hang their flag on the Duke statue above the Potemkin Stairs. They have formed a human chain, to this end -

Odessa demo2

But, with their numbers, the pro-Russians are advancing all the time. I recognise quite a lot of people here from previous demos, on the pro-Russia side and pro-Ukraine.

Odessa demo (2)

Odessa demo (1)Odessa demo (3)

Among others, Neo-Nazi group the Pravy Sektor confirm they are here…

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March 28, 2014

Second Revolution Underway in Ukraine?

Or third, if we count the Orange Revolution of 2004.  The Orange Revolution peacefully reversed election theft by Russia-supported Viktor Yanukovich.  For a moment, Ukraine united behind democratically elected nationalist Viktor Yushchenko supported by the West.  Yushchenko eventually deflated, receiving a mere 5.5% of the vote in 2010 presidential election.  He was replaced by his former arch-nemesis Yanukovich (they’d since kissed and made up), now democratically elected.

In November 2014, demonstrators demanded the resignation of Yanukovich, who by now signed an agreement to enter Russia’s Customs Union, leaving the EU association.  Demonstrations, that had support of about 1/2 of the country quickly turned violent.  The violence was perpetrated by neo-Nazi groups Svoboda and Pravy Sektor.  One of the three chief leaders of Euromaidan, as the protest became known, was Oleg Tyagnybok (I’m going to spell his name with g‘s because I can and with an y because it sounds funny to a Russian speaker — inside knowledge, I know) of Svoboda.  Those protests were marked by chants of “Moskolej na nozhi” or “Stub moskals (derogatory for Russian) with knives” and wild hopping teens screaming “Kto ne skache, tot moskal” or “The one who doesn’t hop is a moskal”. Certainly, there was more to it.  Most Ukrainians, whatever their political leanings, were clearly fed up with poverty and corruption.  Many wanted to be a European country.  Most understood that neither the EU not NATO are in a position to include them.

Protesters waved the black and red flags of the Nazi-collaborating Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists/Ukrainian Insurgent Army alongside Ukrainian flags.  Nazis attacked riot police.  In other words, if Occupy or the Tea Party were doing it, they wouldn’t last a day.  Because we are not a failed state.  Yet.

Maidan leader from Svoboda party Oleg Tyagnybok

The protesters achieved their goal of overthrowing Yanukovich and installing their own “people’s trust” government.  Ukraine’s south-east, which voted for Yanukovich, is not exactly pleased with this turn of events.  Wasting no time, Putin chopped off majority ethnic Russia Crimea.  His previously waning popularity soared among the Russians; the nation was Crimea-crazy since the break up of the Soviet Union.  Now, the US, along with Britain and France found themselves in a curious bind.  Being the signatories to Budapest Memorandum, we promised to guarantee Ukraine’s territorial integrity in exchange for nuclear disarmament.  Needless to say, we have no appetite for going to war.  But why did we recognize the current government in the first place?  So far they’ve achieved two goals: Replacing one set of oligarchs with another and moving up the regularly scheduled election by a whopping 9 months.

Now, I’m happy Ukraine is disarmed because their current equivalent of secretary of defense is a Nazi, as are many other members of the provisional cabinet.  There are moderates in the cabinet, of course.  Among the Kerensky figures is the “people’s trust” PM Arseni Yatsenyuk who looks like a mix of a grass-hopper and a rabbit.  He proclaimed himself a “kamikaze” ready to make unpopular economic decisions.  That he did.  In the meantime, Putin annexed Crimea waiving the carrot of higher pensions and capital investment before the residents of the peninsula.

“Brilliant green” Yatsenyuk. The political leader was assaulted in the north-eastern city of Kharkiv in February. In the country where politicians are flamboyantly charismatic, this one was destined to be a kamikaze

The provisional Ukrainian government turned off Russian television and is readying prosecution of separatists from the south-east.  To behead pro-Russian opposition, “lustration” of political adversaries, Yanukovich’s Party of Regions is in the works.  Pravy Sektor, displeased with the slow speed of “lustration” and general lack of revolutionary progress, vowed a new, more radical revolution to accomplish the goals of Maidan.

In the meantime, former Chechen fighter and Pravy Sektor YouTube super-star “Sashko Bilyi” filmed on multiple occasions threatening and assaulting officials in the Western Ukrainian city of Rovno (Rivne), was shot and killed by local law enforcement, allegedly resisting arrest.  Rovno is the territory of Batkivshchina, the moderate nationalist party of Yatsenyuk and formerly jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Some call Tymoshenko the drama queen of Ukrainian politics

On the other hand, in the opening salvo of her Presidential campaign Tymoshenko released that audio of herself promising to “kill Russian-speaking Ukrainians with nuclear weapons”.  This didn’t deter Pravy Sektor, who, in the aftermath of Bilyi’s death immediately pledged to avenge him, from surrendering the Ukrainian Parliament, the Vekhovna Rada.  The radicals who strong-armed the revolution and now found themselves in positions of power don’t poll well, so it’s in their interest to start a civil war.

To add to this mess, Russian tanks are positioned on the Ukrainian border, and Russian TV aired national weather forecast that included Ukraine’s north-eastern regions of Donetsk, Kharkiv and Luhansk.  Protests across the south-east are ongoing, sometimes calling for federalization of the country, sometimes — for restoration of Yanukovich and/or the Soviet Union and /or the Russian Empire withing the 1917 borders.  Since Sacramento, CA, which boasts a sizable Russian and Ukrainian population, was not a part of the 1917 borders, the US might be off the hook.  But neither Poland nor Finland are.

Many observers anticipated that after the victory Kyiv nationalists will relocate their protest onto the enemy soil of south-east Ukraine, but that didn’t really happen.  Some Pravy Sektor revolutionaries did attempt to occupy government buildings in these areas, but they were kicked out.  A few shoot-outs notwithstanding, Maidan presence on the Party of Regions strongholds was limited.  Revolutionaries stayed home, parading through the streets of western Ukraine, and, being the only armed group there, harassing locals.

In a highly televised (in Russia) video, the citizens of the eastern Ukrainian industrial region of Donbas attempted to stop a Ukrainian tank.  (X-rated Russian language, real action starts at about 5:05):

Interesting times lie ahead for Ukraine.

March 17, 2014

The Bear Roars

Filed under: Russia — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 9:57 pm

Russia is back, mostly due to incompetence of the US foreign policy.

You might had heard of a state Russian TV host opining that Russia is the only country in the world capable of turning the US into radioactive dust.  This might be grandstanding, but, on a more low-key note, Russia wants to litigate Alaska back:

I couldn’t find an English translation, but trust me, English-speaking readers, this is what this very serious TV segment is all about.  Actually, half of the Russian-speaking people around the world is not quite sure how the large-breasted kept her face straight through this segment.

One thing for sure, though, we need a new president.

March 13, 2014

Why I Can’t See Myself Homeschooling, Even Though I Kind of Am

Filed under: education, parenting — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 6:15 pm

A few weeks ago, I attempted to show my 6-year-old how to sew.  When I was her age, I knew how fabric was made and had the basics of needlework down.  I tried to show my daughter how make certain stitches and planned on helping her to sew a small toy.  I don’t know why I was under the impression that she would listen to instructions.  She immediately decided that she wanted to make a more sophisticated toy, and that she could do it all on her own.

First, I panicked, because OMG she’s setting herself up for failure. Then I figured that maybe she needs to fail and learn from it.  Only she didn’t really fail.  First, she asked me to thread her needle, a process in which she had no interest.  I showed her that she needs a knot at the end of her thread, which she watched me tie.  Then she proceeded to making a toy out of a sock, occasionally asking me for assistance with some technical details.  I finished off some of the elements (like tying the knots on the other end of the thread) when she was done and wasn’t even looking.  Her “pet” turned out touchingly crude, and she was very disappointed in some of her failures in the process, but at the end she succeeded.  All on her own.  I’m very proud of her, but she took on an open-ended project.  I can’t teach math or spelling in this manner.

But I am teaching her math and spelling.  When I went to school, I did homework on my own and was graded for each assignment.  Now I find that all parents supervise homework, and that homework is not graded because that would amount to grading parents. I frequently find myself explaining rather than reviewing.  I find that basic penmanship was never consistently taught, and for that reason I have to break the bad habits she’s already developed.  Why did I ever assume that a public school teaches students?  In the best schools in our area, students are red-shirted and start kindergarten already knowing how to read.  They don’t learn in school, they learn for school, often in private tutoring that starts at kindergarten or earlier.

/End rant

March 4, 2014

Ukrainian Outtakes, Updated

Filed under: politics, Ukraine — Tags: , , , , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 10:45 am

This was filmed last Saturday in Kharkiv:

These men are storming the regional administration building occupied by Maidan activists who moved into this east Ukrainian city when former President Yanukovish fled it.  The building was previously surrendered by the Kharkiv politicians “to avoid bloodshed”.  The occupying activists, by the way, are mostly of the Pravyy Sektor neo-Nazi group.  While surrendering the government building, kharkovites erected a fence around the Lenin monument on Freedom square:

Found on social media under the heading “Our square! Our monument!” is this Lenin. Around him are Ukrainian, Russian and Soviet (?) flags as well as the orange and black military honor ribbon. On the fence are the pictures of the killed Bertkut policemen and various signs

Pravyy Sektor also took over the building of fight club Oplot; the club was involved in a fight against Maidan activists in Kyiv a few months earlier.  The video filmed after the squatters were forced out of Oplot shows damage done to the club, including swastikas and Ukrainian neo-Nazi symbols (sometimes over Soviet symbols) as well as a picture of Nazi collaborationist Stepan Bandera glued to the window.  And — oh yeah – -empty liquor bottles everywhere:

And the people storming these two building in Kharkiv?  They are the ones disenfranchised by the current Ukrainian regime which about half the country does not support.  Some wrapped themselves in Russian flags, screaming “Fascism will not pass” and had some choice words for “banderlogi” or the followers of Bandera.

Frankly, I’m surprised that so many conservatives are convinced that anything good will come out of this (or any other) revolution and poo-pooing the possibility of refugees flowing from east to west and back.  In the southern city of Nikolaev the local Russian speakers almost pushed the protesters from the west into the river.  Ukrainian nationalist from the south-east might flee into the west of the country or the EU.

Here is a graphic I found on social media:

It reads: “Live in Ukraine and hate Ukrainians? There is a solution: Suitcase, train station, Russia”

And here are the refugees from Odessa crying for help in Sevastopol:

A street scene in Russian-speaking Odessa: Pravyy Sektor marching through the city chanting “Moskolei na nozhi” or “Stab moskalis with knives”, moskali being a derogatory term for Russians:

We hear stories of Berkut men stuck in Kyiv hospitals where they are said to be denied medical care and which they can’t leave because they don’t have civilian clothes.  There are stories of people attacked by the mob in Kyiv.

In the western town of Rovno, Maidan leader Alexander Muzychko [aka Sashko Bilyy] of Pravyy Sektor gave his version of “out of my cold dead hands” speech in which he proclaimed his willingness to established a new order by the power of the gun — that’s in a country with a very low rate of gun ownership:

This commissar has little patience for Ukraine’s political elite, on the side of revolution or against it, and despises those who arrived at Maidan rallies in luxury cars.  Muzychko, who fought on the side of the Chechens in the Russo-Chechen wars, is expected to be indicted for threatening a local DA:

Then there is this beyond parody video of Maidan protesters hopping up and down under the Nazi black and red banners and chanting: “The one who isn’t jumping is a Moskal” and then breaking into “Glory to Ukraine — glory to heroes” holler:

A video by Graham Philips from a stand off in Odessa:

People chanting “We will not surrender Odessa”.  Plus, waiving a Stalin flag:

March 3, 2014

Ukraine’s Mess: Made in the EU

Filed under: politics — edge of the sandbox @ 10:11 am

Originally posted on :

Ukraine’s Mess: Made in the EU, Gatestone Institute , Peter Martino,  March 3, 2014

The situation might have been different if in April 2008 the West had extended NATO membership to Ukraine and Georgia. Russia would never have dared to deploy troops on NATO territory.

Give that Europe opposed the admission of Ukraine to NATO, it should not then have tempted the Ukrainians with EU membership, exacerbating the divisions between the Ukrainians and their ethnic Russian minority.

It seems to be a tragic but hard lesson of history that Jews are often forced to play the role of canary in the mineshaft. Today, we are witnessing that phenomenon in Ukraine.

As the situation in Ukraine, where nationalists last week deposed pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, is worsening, Jews are receiving blows from both sides. They are distrusted by the Ukrainian nationalists as well as the pro-Russian separatists.

With Ukraine descending…

View original 841 more words

March 2, 2014

Sevastopol Signs up for a Russian Crimea

Filed under: politics — edge of the sandbox @ 3:55 pm

edge of the sandbox:

Sevastopol Russian pageantry:

Originally posted on Brit in Ukraine:

Crimea Sevastopol (19) You can talk about Crimea as being Russian, with its 2 million population comprising 60% ethnic Russians and 25% generally pro-Russian Ukrainians. Yet that doesn’t even include Sevastopol and its 400,000, an autonomous state in an autonomous state. Yet, in this time of break-up, Sevastapol and ‘mainland Crimea’ now to be united as one, near 2.4 million people under the Russian colours. Nowhere is more under the white blue and red than Sevastopol though.

To get into Crimea now, you have to pass a Russian flag, and doing so will give you access to about 24,500 km2 of the territory. To access the Sevastopol area though, you need to pass another ‘Russian border’, where you don’t need a passport so much as some warm words about the motherland. The point is clear – the rest of Crimea may be ‘Russia’, but Sevastopol is level up in being Russia. From my…

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