Larry Towell Magnum in Maidan, Kiev April 13, 2014Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : Bohdan Warchomij Photographer, Larry Towell, Magnum, Metaphor, Metaphor Images , comments closed
Although the fighting has ceased, the Maidan Square demonstrations in Ukraine throughout February 2014 set the stage for the current political climate in the Crimean Peninsula. Larry Towell arrived in Kiev on February 11th, 2014 to document the Euromaidan protests and demonstrations. Only one week later Maidan Square transformed into a conflict zone, and by February 20th over one hundred people had been killed.
With a 35mm XPan panoramic camera in hand, Larry Towell captured this moment of social and political turmoil with a unique, monochrome perspective. Deja vu for me. Ten years earlier I was lucky to be in the Maidan witnessing a precursor of the Ukrainian people’s struggle for freedom during the Orange Revolution. Larry Towell’s images can be found on the Magnum Photos Blog site.Ukraine , comments closed
- Russia has its eyes set on bigger goals than Ukraine – it wants to tear apart the territorial status quo created in Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union, says Jonathan Eyal of the Royal United Services Institute.
The most immediate topic of discussion at Tuesday’s meeting of Nato foreign ministers – the first since Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula – was whether Russian troops currently massed on Ukraine’s borders were likely to launch a new invasion deep into Ukraine’s ethnically mixed eastern provinces.
The chances are that such an invasion will be averted. But Russia’s security threat to the European continent remains both substantial and systemic, and is likely to endure for years to come.
There are a number of very concrete reasons why Russian President Vladimir Putin is unlikely to send his troops into eastern Ukraine.
“As President Putin sees it, he now has in his hands the instruments to undermine Ukraine without actually firing a single shot”
The first is that, although the region has many ethnic Russians, it also has many Ukrainians who are likely to resist a Russian occupation. So, unlike the swift and bloodless takeover of Crimea, an occupation of eastern Ukraine is almost certain to embroil Russian troops in serious fighting.
Eastern Ukraine is also a much larger territory, requiring a substantial force to pin down. And unlike Crimea, there is no obvious geographic limit to this territory: the Russians therefore risk becoming involved in a major military adventure with no immediate “exit strategy”.
But the most important reason why Mr Putin will not send his troops into Ukraine now is that he has other ways of achieving his objectives.
He knows that Crimea is his to keep, and that no Western government is likely to challenge this newly acquired Russian province. At Sunday’s meeting in Paris between US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Crimea was not even mentioned in the communique released to the public.
Ukrainian ‘federalisation’Russia’s most immediate task is to prevent Ukraine from joining Western economic and security structures such as the European Union or Nato, to keep the country in suspended animation as a buffer zone, belonging to neither East nor West.
And that can be accomplished by persuading the West to accept what Moscow likes to call the “federalisation” of Ukraine.
Russia’s demands for the creation of a federal Ukraine are very sweeping. They include a proposal that Ukraine’s regions will have a say not only over local affairs, but also over “Ukraine’s foreign policy direction” – a more polite Russian way of saying that the ethnic Russians inside Ukraine will be able to block the country’s pro-Western orientation.
And, if this strategy does not work, Moscow can resort to the simple expedient of encouraging ethnic Russians in Ukraine to declare their separation and even secession from the Ukrainian state. As President Putin sees it, he now has in his hands the instruments to undermine Ukraine without actually firing a single shot.
Moscow has also signalled a determination to apply the same approach to other parts of Europe where ethnic Russians may reside, particularly the Trans-Dniester region in the former Soviet republic of Moldova, and in the Baltic states.
Most of the Russians there have already been issued with Russian passports or identity documents, precisely in order to strengthen Moscow’s claim to speak on their behalf.
The purpose of this grand strategy is clear: to tear apart the territorial status quo created in Europe when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, a status quo which, as President Putin has repeatedly observed, Russia considers both unjust and unsustainable.
That does not need to be achieved by occupying and reabsorbing former Soviet republics. It could just as easily be accomplished by undermining key countries from within.
Nato’s tough featAs a military alliance trained to repel external aggression, Nato is ill-equipped to deal with such internal challenges.
But in the days to come, the alliance will have to show its mettle by staging various military exercises particularly in the small and vulnerable Baltic states, in order to reassure them and other Nato members that the alliance’s security guarantee remains valid and relevant.
Russia must be left under no illusion that, should it try to interfere with a Nato member-state, the response will be swift, and include a military component.
A truncated Ukraine may yet succeed in preserving its independence.
But the events of the last few weeks are not just a blip in East-West relations. They mark the end of an era, the end of the hope that Russia could be incorporated into a united and peaceful European continent.
Historians may have the luxury of arguing over who should be blamed for this sad development.
Today’s Western politicians, however, have no choice but to deal with the new reality outlined by Mr Putin: the future belongs to more, rather than less, east-west confrontation.
Exiled from Crimea: April 11, 2014Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : Ukraine , comments closed
This is not a unique situation but it places the reality of what is happening to people in Ukraine into focus. It is worth reading and understanding and sharing. Lyubov Sirota’s situation has touched many people including Yuha Tolonen, Perth photographer and academic who is a personal friend of the poet. It is a pleasure to share Lyubov Sirota’s story on this blog.
Bohdan Warchomij Editor
Debra Romanick Baldwin, Associate Professor English Department; Contributing Writer University News: University of Dallas
On March 21, 2003, I wrote an email out of the blue to a poet whose poems I had just discovered — poems that moved me greatly. “Thank you for my tears,” I wrote, and her reply, thanking me for my email, pointed out that I had written to her on International Poetry Day, a happy coincidence.
The poems in question were the Chernobyl Poems of Lyubov Sirota, and the poet, Lyubov Makarovna Sirota, was an eyewitness to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
–Photo by Alexander Sirota
In 1986, she was living in Pripyat, a thriving city of more than 50,000 people located less than two kilometers from the nuclear power plant. (The Soviet authorities, of course, were anxious to suppress the extent of the catastrophe, which is why Pripyat and its inhabitants remained conspicuously absent from official news reports). She worked in the city’s arts center, directing children’s programs as well as writing and directing her own plays. Then, on the night of April 26, catastrophe happened. After a whole day of uncertainty and misinformation, Lyubov and her young son Alex (nicknamed “Sasha”) were loaded onto buses along with other inhabitants of Pripyat. They had left everything behind.
This month, she is a refugee once again, and her experience offers a face behind the abstract events in the news.
I should start by saying that for 11 years now, I have not only corresponded with her regularly, but also worked extensively with her on English translations of her poems and essay, “Excessive Burden,” which chronicles the agonies of the women of Chernobyl and the heartbreaking illnesses of their children. I hope to write a book about her. It is an astonishing experience to read her expressions of a spirit that remains indomitable in its love despite unspeakable pain and unimaginable heartbreak, steadfast against bitterness. Indeed, “Lyubov” means “love” both in Ukrainian and Russian, and it is what her poetry exhorts us to over and over:
Do not kill an angel in yourself.
Do not cut, do not break the wings.
Do not believe in greedy predictions
promising you earthly abundance.
For though his look is sometimes hard and bitter
as you step along the cruel path -
only he can grant you love.
In 1986, after being relocated to Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, Lyubov began the slow process of adjusting to displacement, poverty and health problems. However, in the months and years that followed, she met fellow poet and translator, Victor Grabovsky, and despite her chronic ill health from radiation exposure, she flourished in her creative work, writing poetry and essays and co-authoring Rollan Sergienko’s Chernobyl film, “Threshold.”
Largely through the efforts of Professor Paul Brians of Washington State University (better known on this campus, perhaps, for his book, “Common Errors in English Usage”), her work gained exposure, translated and anthologized internationally. Victorcontinued in his own work while he was chief editor of Kyiv National University Press, producing volumes of essays, poetry, translations and two novels and receiving the Oheinko Prize in 2012 for distinguished contribution to Ukrainian letters. Of particular interest to our campus is his book on the little known poems and prayers of Karol Józef Wojtyla.
Then, last spring, Lyubov and Victor, who has now retired, decided that they would sell their small apartment in Kyiv in order to make it possible for Alex at last to buy a small cabin in a district near Pripyat. They would use the remaining money to buy an even smaller apartment in Gaspra, in Crimea. They had vacationed in Crimea some summers past, and now it was the place they thought they might live. Lyubov emailed me when they arrived,and I asked if it was a place that her son and his family could stay for vacations. She replied: “No, my dear, Sasha and his family could not live with us here, because the overall size of our apartment is 31 square meters [334 square feet] – along with a balcony, a tiny hallway, a tiny kitchen without a gas stove, and a small bathroom with a toilet and a good shower.” But she added: “Of course, there are still many unsolved problems but, thanks God, all difficulties and problems already have gone to the second line. In addition, all difficulties are solved much more easily against the background of the amazing sea every morning and wonderful, fabulous nature. So we’re looking forward to new creative Crimean period of our lives. My Kyiv friend Lena said, ‘You didn’t buy an apartment, but health and life!’ (Wait and see!)…” (7/14/13).
Five months later, what they saw, from afar, was EuroMaidan, as protestors took to the streets in Kyiv’s Maidan Square to protest Victor Yanukovich’s abandoning an agreement that Ukraine would seek closer ties with the European Union. Watching it live-streamed on the Internet, Lyubov was enthusiastic about the protest, which she viewed as being about much more than economics, but rather about freedom itself. She told me later that “Many priests of different Christian denominations offered services and prayers on the Maidan stage (almost every hour) and even leaders of other religions were there often together (including Muslims and Jews!) — it was one of the amazing spiritual features of the Maidan … Prayer in common is a weapon which evil fears!” On Dec. 13, she wrote: “Unfortunately, we with Victor are far from EuroMaidan, like you, and we can only pray for our victory, victory of Love and Peace in our dear Ukraine!”
We lost touch through most of January and by the beginning of February, the situation became tenser. She wrote on Jan. 24, “Forgive me, my dear, that I failed to respond to you immediately, because now we have a terrible and emotional stress days in Ukraine … The one thing, that no matter from anything, I try to do — is every day to put the most important information on Google and Facebook, so that more people can know the truth about the events in Kiev and Ukraine … And of course we constantly pray for our victory over the anti-Ukrainian gang in power …” And that was the refrain over and over from the protesters in the square: “Criminals, out!” Thanks to her links, I, too, was able to watch the square via live streaming.
On Feb. 18, events in the Maidan took a violent turn: Government snipers began shooting at peaceful protesters, and in the next four days, over 100 protesters were shot. The protesters fought back, setting a huge defensive wall of debris ablaze, and arming themselves with Molotov cocktails. The violence only ended when President Yanukovich fled the country.
Then, on Feb. 25, the specter of violence turned its attention to Crimea. I received an email from Lyubov that day: “My dearest Deb! In this time I can’t write you, so sorry! But I’ll try to write you soon. Now I only can to say that situation here in Crimea is very disturbing and dangerous. Please pray for us!”
On Feb. 28, after Russian troops finally formally invaded Crimea, I lost touch with Lyubov. Internet connections and television stations had been severed. Of course, I was frantic, and I hunted through old emails to see if I could find an email contact for Alex, which I did. He replied on March 1 that his mother and Victor were going to attempt to leave by train. On March 3, Lyubov wrote me that they had made it back to Kyiv, and then to Alex’s little cabin:
“Thanks God and Sasha today in morning we with Victor and Radyasya [their cat] arrived … The way was so hard, therefore now I can’t write you more. I’ll try to do it tomorrow…”
Of course, I wanted to know everything, what made her leave then. She wrote:
“We did not want live any more in a territory occupied by aggressors — in lies and injustice! Besides, it was getting really dangerous, especially for Ukrainians. One night I heard some very heavy car drive up to our house, and then voices and the sound of feet on the stairs — and already I was thinking that these unidentified armed men could at any moment … break down our door. It wasn’t much better to stay isolated in the apartment, with the electricity shut off, no water or internet (the Ukrainian TV channels were disconnected before the pseudo referendum!)”
I asked her how she made it out, and she explained:
“When Sasha learned that ‘strange’ military cars and so-called ‘unidentified military people’ had captured the train stations and other places in Crimea, he immediately bought us tickets through the Internet. We had to go the very next day. I called to the train station and asked whether the train was stilling going to Kyiv. The dispatcher answered me: ‘Today it’s going, but what will happen tomorrow, I do not know!’ … In short, we were fortunate that we were able to leave the Crimea before the searches started on station platforms and in trains. For two days after we left, they have broken computers and similar equipment of people. And this is what I feared most, because in addition to documents and some other necessary things that we naturally took with us, we took the most important thing: our laptop, with all our creative works and our archive! So, thanks to God and Sasha we managed to leave Crimea in time … However, now again, as after the evacuation of Pripyat, I’m again without shelter and livelihood … But then I was young, healthy and still full of energy … And now I and Victor have neither one nor the other, nor the third. Of course, I understand that, that it’s all temporary difficulty, that life somehow will get arranged …”
So now, 28 years after being evacuated from Pripyat, Lyubov Sirota is homeless again, and back on the border of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. She cannot go back to Crimea; she has lost her savings, for she and Victor do not know what will become, what has become, of their little apartment in occupied Crimea; their son’s one-room cabin is not big enough to accommodate his wife and child and his parents, too.
Here in Irving, I reread a poem of hers that I translated in the summer of 2010, now echoing in ways she could not have imagined:
For My Son
I build the house from dewdrops,
I weave walls from fragrant grass …
I build the house, for us together, my son,
from clouds desperately billowing…
From forest scents I weave a carpet,
and a birdsong – slate for a roof!
Let our house sing, laugh, cry, breathe and rejoice –
to be in such an open space!
I build the house on four winds, near four roads
that all messages may fly to us.
So that sorrow, pain and fear
are ground into the roadside dust…
I build the house from dewdrops
and a light refracted by a smile…
I build the house on very unsteady ground, –
Forgive me this impracticality,
You can read more poems at http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/chernobyl_poems/chernobyl_index.html. If you want to send or add your own expressions of support, please email me at dbaldwin@udallas.
Thank you to those who have emailed messages of support. If you would like to make a donation to help Lyubov and Victor rebuild their lives, you can do so athttps://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/5t94/lyubov-sirota
ACCLAIMED PHOTOGRAPHER ANJA NIEDRINGHAUS DIES
By ANGELA CHARLTON
Anja Niedringhaus, 48, was killed and an AP reporter was wounded on Friday, April 4, 2014 when an Afghan policeman opened fire while they were sitting in their car in eastern Afghanistan. Niedringhaus an internationally acclaimed German photographer, was killed instantly, according to an AP Television freelancer who witnessed the shooting. Kathy Gannon, the reporter, was wounded twice and is receiving medical attention. (Photo/Markus Schreiber)Anja Niedringhaus faced down some of the world’s greatest dangers and had one of the world’s loudest and most infectious laughs. She photographed dying and death, and embraced humanity and life. She gave herself to the subjects of her lens, and gave her talents to the world, with images of wars’ unwitting victims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia and beyond.
Shot to death by an Afghan policeman Friday, Niedringhaus leaves behind a broad body of work — from battlefields to sports fields — that won awards and broke hearts. She trained her camera on children caught between the front lines, yet who still found a place to play. She singled out soldiers amid their armies as they confronted death, injuries and attacks.
Two days before her death, she made potatoes and sausage in Kabul for veteran AP correspondent Kathy Gannon, who was wounded in the attack that killed Niedringhaus, and photographer Muhammed Muheisen.
“I was so concerned about her safety. And she was like, ‘Momo, this is what I’m meant to do. I’m happy to go,’” Muheisen recalled. And then they talked, and argued. Mostly, they laughed.
Niedringhaus, 48, started her career as a freelance photographer for a local newspaper in her hometown in Hoexter, Germany, at the age of 16. Her coverage of the fall of the Berlin Wall led to a staff position with the European Pressphoto Agency in 1990. Based in Frankfurt, Sarajevo and Moscow, she spent much of her time covering the brutal conflict in the former Yugoslavia.
She joined The Associated Press in 2002, and while based in Geneva worked throughout the Middle East as well as Afghanistan and Pakistan. She was part of the AP team that won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography for coverage of Iraq, among many journalistic awards and honors for her work. In 2006-07, she studied at Harvard University under a Nieman Fellowship.
“What the world knows about Iraq, they largely know because of her pictures and the pictures by the photographers she raised and beat into shape,” said AP photographer David Guttenfelder. “I know they always ask themselves, ‘What would Anja do?’ when they go out with their cameras. I think we all do.”
Niedringhaus captured what war meant to her subjects: An Afghan boy on a swing holding a toy submachine gun. A black-clad Iraqi giving a bottle to her baby as she waits for prisoners to be released. A U.S. Marine mourning the loss of 31 comrades.
Other images showed life going on among the killing: A Canadian soldier with a sunflower stuck in his helmet. A young girl testing her artificial limbs, while her sister teasingly tries to steal her crutches. A bearded Afghan man and grinning boy listening to music on an iPod borrowed from German soldiers.
“Anja Niedringhaus was one of the most talented, bravest and accomplished photojournalists of her generation,” said AP Vice President and Director of Photography Santiago Lyon. “She truly believed in the need to bear witness.”
She didn’t stop caring when she put down the camera. In 2011, she photographed a Marine who had been evacuated from Afghanistan with severe injuries. She wanted to know what happened to him, and after six months of searching she found him. She showed him her photos from that day, and gave him a piece of wheat that had stuck to his uniform when he fell; she had plucked it and saved it when she was done taking photographs.
“I don’t believe conflicts have changed since 9/11 other than to become more frequent and protracted,” she told The New York Times in a 2011 email exchange. “But the essence of the conflict is the same — two sides fighting for territory, for power, for ideologies. And in the middle is the population who is suffering.”
Niedringhaus was injured several times on assignment, including having her leg badly broken in the Balkans after narrowly escaping an ambush. She suffered severe burns to her leg in Iraq, and received a shrapnel injury while on patrol with Canadian forces in Afghanistan.
There were many more close calls; after one, in Libya, she took up smoking again five years after quitting.
“Benghazi was hell today,” she wrote a colleague from Libya in 2011. “The tanks came in while I was brushing my teeth.” In the days to come, she sheltered with a local family, sleeping on the floor. When the gunfire in front of the house kept her awake, she listened to music on her iPhone.
While she rejected the idea that she was fearless, she made colleagues feel safe in danger zones. She insisted on local freelancers getting the same protections that visiting staff photographers had.
She was as stubborn as she was caring.
“If she believed in something, she was convinced she was right and there was almost nothing you could do to dissuade her,” said former AP reporter and editor Robert Reid, who met Niedringhaus in Kosovo in 1998 and worked with her in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said she was determined to cover the U.S.-led military presence in Afghanistan to the very end, even as the world’s interest waned.
She captured victory too — on Olympic podiums, at World Cups, at Wimbledon and beyond. And world diplomacy, solar airplanes and cow-fighting contests.
And she found fun in it all.
AP photographer Jerome Delay, who met her in Sarajevo in the 1990s, remembered playing ping pong with Niedringhaus on a dining table at the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad. Back home on another continent that might have been another planet, he wrote, “we raced our motorbikes around Lake Geneva between G-7 photo ops and riots.”
This summer, after covering tennis at Wimbledon, she planned to swim the width of Lake Geneva.
Anywhere, everywhere, she laughed — a wide-mouthed, head-thrown-back laugh that could wake an army and infected everyone nearby.
At an exhibit of her work in Berlin in 2011, she said: “Sometimes I feel bad because I can always leave the conflict, go back home to my family where there’s no war.”
That family includes her mother, two sisters and an aunt. Several years ago the family bought an old house in the central German town of Kaufungen, where she liked to spend time with her niece and nephews.
Her teenage niece and goddaughter won first place in a riding competition Friday and dedicated the victory to her.
Niedringhaus is the 32nd AP staffer to die in pursuit of the news since AP was founded in 1846.
“This is a profession of the brave and the passionate, those committed to the mission of bringing to the world information that is fair, accurate and important,” said Gary Pruitt, the AP’s president and CEO. “Anja Niedringhaus met that definition in every way. We will miss her terribly.”
Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.
Journalist James Brook Assesses Russian Politics April 6, 2014Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : Russian Politics , comments closed
Ian Ruhter Collodian Tintype Artist April 4, 2014Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : Ian Ruhter Collodian Artist , comments closed
Ian Ruhter is a photographer who’s gone back to the very roots of photography in more ways than one. His subjects are modern — the people and landscapes of today’s North America — but the basis of his process is almost as old as photography itself.
In his artist’s bio, Ruhter talks about how he’d begun to feel stifled by technology, and the art form he’d once found so inspiring had become unfulfilling. In a video, he explains how he turned away from digital processes that had revolutionized photography since he’d first entered the field, and went back to the darkroom instead. He began to work with a 19th century process called wet plate collodion. By creating unique images on single plates, Ruhter rediscovered his love for photography. But revisiting the past wasn’t enough — he had to take it bigger.
The answer was a hand-built camera of massive size, custom-fitted to a moving truck. It is, in fact, the largest wet plate camera in the world. This truck became both his mobile camera and darkroom. With this camera truck, he has traveled across North America, from Los Angeles to Yosemite to Vancouver BC, photographing people and places along the way.
Ruhter’s wet-plate process involves first cutting sheet metal into poster-sized rectangles. The sheets are then coated with a silver emulsion that is exposed to light through a specially fitted lens in the back of his truck. After the exposure, the sheets are developed in the darkroom area of the truck. Each shot costs about $500 to take; a failure isn’t just easy-to-delete pixels, but money and materials wasted.
The images he’s taken with this process vary, from momumental landscapes that offer few hints that they weren’t shot in another century, to portraits from the 21st century surrounded by incongruous chemical stains and emulsion wrinkles of the old-fashioned wet plate process. It’s an intriguing blend of old and new that challenges the viewer to look for clues to the time and place of each image, and to experience photography as a physical document.
Since Ruhter’s wet plates are all one-of-a-kind, they have to be rephotographed in order to be reproduced online or in print. Hanson Digital used the Betterlight system to create high-resolution digital files of selected plates.
The challenge in rephotographing this material for reproduction is the reflectivity of the metal plates, capturing something that is almost three-dimensional. The surfaces of Ruhter’s plates change their appearance depending on how you look at the images and what light is hitting the surface. Some images required a black tent in front of the camera so the camera wouldn’t reflect in the image; all of them needed the lights arranged in particular patterns to bring out the details of the plate texture. The lighting setup for each shot was individually adjusted to each image for best reproduction of the details.
Ruhter will be participating in the 2014 Palm Springs Photo Festival as an instrutor, offering a workshop in the collodion and tin type processes. Students will be able to shoot with Ruhter’s very own wet plate camera. See this link for more details.
Arthur Bondar at VII Mentor Program. Donald Weber will be his mentor. Congratulations. March 27, 2014Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : Arthur Bondar, VII Agency , comments closed
UkraineArthur Bondar was born in Krivoy Rog, Ukraine and later studied at the National Linguistic University. In 2000 he moved to Kiev and earned his Bachelor’s degree in English philology. He held nearly 20 different jobs before he found his way to photography, which he studied at New York University.
Arthur is now a freelancer and shoots his own documentary projects. He has participated in the Eddie Adams Workshop and NOOR-Nikon Masterclass. Arthur has received numerous awards including the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund, The Documentary Project Fund, National Geographic Grant, and Best Photographer of the Year in Ukraine. His work has been exhibited in the U.S., Canada, England, Germany, France, Belgium, Poland, Lithuania, Romania, Turkey, Georgia, Russia and Ukraine.
He is currently based in Moscow, Russia.
The Ukrainian flag was still fluttering above the gates of Novofedorivka base when we arrived.
But inside, Russian soldiers were already in talks with the Ukrainians, ordering them to surrender.
Soon, a few hundred pro-Russian protesters gathered, clambering over the gates and tearing down the Ukrainian flag – replacing it with one from the Russian Black Sea Fleet. The takeover had begun.
Pro Russian thugs rip down Ukrainian flag in Novofedorivka
The crowd barged into the base, delighted with their spoils. They headed for a building at the back still occupied by Ukrainian troops, resisting the Russian onslaught.
And then the storming began, the protesters tearing off Ukrainian emblems, prising open the door and ripping out furniture that had been used by the Ukrainians to barricade themselves in: desks, bed frames, chairs all removed or destroyed.
On the roof, the Ukrainian commander and his men stood, talking through a megaphone: “This is our base and our army.”
The Russians below shouted up in response, proclaiming Crimea Russia’s territory.
One side believes it’s backed by last week’s referendum supporting union with Russia. The other says it has the support of international law.
Then the Ukrainians threw smoke canisters down in defiance, a haze of fog engulfing the crowd.
But it was futile. Russian reinforcements arrived: thuggish groups demanding that everybody withdraw.
They jostled us, demanding our accreditation, one brandishing a false secret service identity card.
As we moved back, Russian soldiers went in. Half-an-hour later, the Ukrainians started to leave: every one of them, the base now under the complete control of the Russians.
Some of the Ukrainian troops were met by their wives, tearful with emotion.
A senior officer, Illya Bureev, told me he did everything he could for his country.
“I could never serve in the Russian army,” he said. “Crimea will always be Ukraine. I don’t know what I can do next. But all I feel is pain.”
It was quick, well-organised and over before the Ukrainians could fight back: much like Russia’s entire takeover of Crimea.
A month ago Novofedorivka was part of the Ukrainian region of Crimea. Today it was one of the last pieces to fall as Moscow completes its annexation.
Sydney Morning Herald Photos Bohdan Warchomij Pearce Air Base Bullsbrook AP-3C Orion assignment to Southern Indian Ocean. Search for Malaysian Airlines flight MH 320 by Australian Airforce March 23, 2014Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : Australian Photojournalist, Bohdan Warchomij Photographer , comments closed
Moscow protests: Irish Times Report March 16, 2014Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : Ukraine , comments closed
Russia saw the largest opposition protest in almost two years in Moscow today, as Muscovites took to the streets in their thousands to demonstrate both for and against president Vladimir Putin’s policies in Ukraine.
Crimeans vote today in a referendum that has been denounced as illegal on whether to reunite with Russia after pro-Russian forces took control of the peninsula, triggering the worst East-West confrontation since the Cold War.
Most Russians strongly back Mr Putin’s actions and see Crimea as rightfully part of Russia. But a minority are horrified, fearing that Putin is risking war with another Slavic country formerly seen as a brother nation.
Although smaller than protests that he faced after parliamentary elections in 2011, Saturday’s anti-war rally, which witnesses said attracted around 30,000 people, is a sign that his intervention in Ukraine might provide a rallying point for an opposition movement that had run out of steam.
Since being re-elected president in 2012, Mr Putin has worked to neutralise political opposition, mindful of the street protests that overthrew governments in Georgia and Ukraine in 2003 and 2004-5 – actions that help to explain his deep antipathy to the movement that toppled Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovich, last month.
The fact that Yanukovich was corrupt and voted out of office with the help of his own party seems to be irrelevent to Putin.
On Sakharov Avenue, site of the first large anti-Putin rally in December 2011, when tens of thousands protested against electoral fraud, demonstrators waved Ukrainian and Russian flags as well as EU flags like those carried by pro-European demonstrators in Kiev’s Maidan square.
The march appeared to be the largest opposition rally since June 2012, although police put the turnout at around 3,000.
“I am ashamed for Russia and our people,” said publishing company employee Valentina Legonkova (69), who was carrying a Ukrainian flag although she is Russian.
“We are behaving towards Ukraine like swine,” she said. “We will soon be on the level of North Korea.”
Some chanted “Glory to Ukraine, glory to the heroes!”, a slogan also borrowed from Kiev, others “Down with Putin!”, “No to war!”, “No to fascism!” and “Russia without Putin!”
One placard read: “Hungary 1956, Czechoslovakia 1968, Ukraine 2014”, likening Russia’s actions to the Red Army’s suppression of east European reform movements in the Cold War.
“My duty is to show support for the Ukrainian people in its desire to live independently from the dictatorship of the elder brother,” said Moscow teacher Irina Seseikina.
The protest taps into a wider vein of discontent, strongest among the Moscow middle class, who are also appalled at rising corruption, political repression and censorship under Putin.
But so far, the Ukraine crisis and last month’s spectacular Winter Olympics in Sochi have solidified broader support for Putin, whose increasingly nationalist and conservative agenda is a tactic to curry favour among Russians nostalgic for the Soviet Union.
His approval rating now stands at about 70 per cent. His use of propaganda has been highly successful, albeit highly illogical and often contradictory and unbalanced.