Moscow: Ukraine Announces Fast-Track Passports After Putin’s Russian Citizenship Offer

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MOSCOW TIMES)

 

Ukraine Announces Fast-Track Passports After Putin’s Russian Citizenship Offer

Sergii Kharchenko / ZUMA Wire / TASS

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has ordered an overhaul of the process for granting Ukrainian citizenship, in response to a Russian decree expanding the number of Ukrainians who can apply for fast-track Russian passports.

Zelenskiy’s office said early on Thursday, just a few hours after the Kremlin published Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order, that the foreign ministry would simplify the procedure for certain groups to attain Ukrainian citizenship.

Those who suffer from human rights violations and constraints on freedom in their home countries, and ethnic Ukrainians “from friendly powers” willing to help Ukraine’s development, would be eligible for fast-track passports, Zelenskiy’s office said.

It did not explain which countries are considered to be friendly.

“The President made this decision because of… an order by President Vladimir Putin introducing a simpler procedure for granting Russian citizenship to Ukrainians,” the statement said.

Putin’s order added to the list of those who can apply for fast-track Russian passports Ukrainian citizens who were registered as permanent residents of government-controlled parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions as of April 2014.

That is the date at which a military conflict with Russia-backed separatists started.

“Such a step by the Russian Federation creates additional obstacles on a path to de-escalation of the conflict, and the reintegration of the Donbass region,” the statement said.

Moscow’s move comes ahead of a Ukrainian parliamentary election on Sunday, when opinion polls suggest the Russia-friendly Opposition Platform party may emerge as the strongest opponents of Zelenskiy’s Servant of the People group.

Five years of war between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region have killed 13,000 people despite a ceasefire signed in 2015. Zelenskiy has said he will do everything in his power to end the conflict.

8 Creepiest Places on the Planet

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

8

Creepiest Places on the Planet

There is no shortage of downright spooky spots to visit. You could easily spend years traveling to some of the most haunted and bone-chilling sites around the world. To get you started, here are eight of the creepiest places on the planet.

Winchester Mystery House

Winchester Mystery House

Credit: Uladzik Kryhin/Shutterstock

If you’re in San Jose, California, you can visit the Winchester Mystery House, one of the strangest buildings you’ll ever enter. When Sarah Winchester lost her husband and child, a psychic told her that the family was haunted by spirits from all those who were killed by Winchester guns. To appease the spirits, she needed to build a home according to the spirits’ requests, and as long as construction continued, she would be left alive. The home now has 160 rooms, 10,000 windows, 2,000 doors, six kitchens, 47 fireplaces and 47 staircases.

Dargavs

Dargavs

Credit: StasEtvesh/Shutterstock

The village of Dargavs in Russia looks like a quaint hillside establishment at first glance. However, it’s actually the City of the Dead, where people buried their loved ones along with their personal belongings and clothes. There are many legends surrounding the place, including one suggesting that locals would not go here, because they believed they would not come out alive.

Sedlec Ossuary

Sedlec Ossuary

Credit: Aleksandr Vrubleviskiy/Shutterstock

From the outside, this Roman Catholic Church in the Czech Republic appears perfectly normal, but once you step inside, that all changes. The chapel is quite unique, considering that its décor is comprised of human bones from an estimated 40,000 bodies. And don’t miss the chandelier at Sedlec Ossuary, which is said to contain at least one of every bone found in the human body.

Door to Hell

Door to Hell

Credit: Iwanami Photos/Shutterstock

The Darvaza gas crater in Turkmenistan is more commonly known as the “Door to Hell.” It’s a massive, 230-foot-wide crater that was created when scientists drilling for natural gas had their rig collapse. They set it on fire out of concern for spreading poisonous methane gas. That was in 1971 and the crater still burns today.

Pripyat

Pripyat

Credit: Pe3k/Shutterstock

Pripyat is the abandoned town near Chernobyl that was quickly evacuated after the explosion in 1986. It’s still too radioactive to be habitable as a functioning city and remains a snapshot of life in the Soviet Union during the 80s.

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs

Credit: Wyatt Rivard/Shutterstock

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Paris’ cemeteries were so full that corpses had become uncovered and the ground was caving in at certain spots. The solution was to place bodies in limestone tunnels that existed for centuries below the city. The burials have since ended, but there are around six million bodies buried in the Paris catacombs.

Hoia Baciu Forest

Hoia Baciu Forest

Credit: Daniel Marian/Shutterstock

The Hoia Baciu Forest is often called the Bermuda Triangle of Romania and is said to be the world’s most haunted forest thanks to its reputation for paranormal activity and other unexplained happenings. Some of these include unexplained disappearances, faces appearing in photographs that were not seen with the naked eye, ghost sightings and even UFO sightings in the 70s. If this isn’t all creepy enough, the vegetation takes on a bizarre appearance here, and visitors report strong feelings of anxiety when visiting.

Island of the Dolls

Island of the Dolls

Credit: avf71/Shutterstock

The iconic canals of Xochimilco near Mexico City are stunning, but you’ll also find there is a dark side, at least on one of the artificial islands. Legend has it that caretaker Don Julian Santana Barrera witnessed a little girl drowning in the canal but was unable to save her. Her doll floated up to the island and he hung it in the trees to pay respects. Some say dolls kept washing ashore, and he continued to hang them as a vigil until he was found dead years later in the same spot where she died.

7 European Train Routes You don’t Want To Miss

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

7 European Train Routes You Can’t Miss

Europe is so much better by train. From capital city termini to remote village halts, almost every corner of Europe is reachable by rail. It’s even easier with the EuroRail, which offers incredible passes and deals on tickets to help you hop around Europe on the cheap. Here are 7 European destinations you must get to by train.

Jungfraujoch, Switzerland
The Swiss do rail travel better than anyone else in Europe, and they don’t let something as insignificant as a mountain stand in the way of connectivity. Jungfraujoch has the distinction of being the highest railway station in Europe. Travellers pass close to the Eiger, Jungfrau, and Mönch mountains before their train dives into a tunnel. At the summit, 3454 metres above sea level, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of the Bernese Oberland and snow on the ground even in the height of summer.

Paris, France
The two busiest stations in Europe are both located in the French capital, making this city a must for every train enthusiast. Eurostar links Gare du Nord – top of the list – to London. This high speed service makes a twin centre city break a tempting possibility. Tick off the Eiffel Tower, cruise along the Seine, and take in the view from Sacre Coeur before emerging from the English Channel to tour St Paul’s Cathedral, ride the London Eye, and watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.

Flåm, Norway
One of the most beautiful rail journeys in Europe – and probably the world – is the one that links Flåm and Myrdal in western Norway. Beginning beside the Aurlandsfjord, the train climbs past tumbling waterfalls and icy glaciers to the mountains, condensing the country’s most dramatic vistas into one incredible hour’s ride.

Venice, Italy
Nothing screams luxury train travel like the Venice-Simplon-Orient Express. Step back in time to a glamorous age of train travel which has captured the hearts and imaginations of all those fortunate to have boarded its exquisite Art Deco carriages. In Venice, alight to explore a magical city riddled with waterways leading to a plethora of churches, palaces and hidden squares.

Madrid, Spain
When it comes to greenery, Atocha Station in Madrid surpasses all others. This delightful station is likened by some to an indoor botanical garden, with verdant palms and lush planting interspersed by platforms and commuters. Catch the high speed AVE service to Sevilla and Cordoba for Moorish architecture, flower-adorned alleyways and sultry late night flamenco.

Lviv, Ukraine
For something off the beaten track, catch a train across Ukraine to the beautiful city of Lviv. Modern, high speed trains make easy work of the distance, taking five hours to link the two in contrast to the slow overnight sleepers that were the traditional method of travel. Cafe culture’s king, but first, climb to Lviv’s mountaintop High Castle for panoramic views across the city and beyond.

Moscow, Russia
For a truly epic European rail adventure, why not begin in Asia? The Trans-Siberian railway is a must for any bucket list, but travel east to west and you’ll be saving the best for last. Moscow is bold, brash and buzzing with energy. Get around by metro and you’ll see some of the most splendidly decorated stations in the world – with mosaics, stained glass and bronze sculptures, Moscow’s underground feels more like a museum than a transit network.

Have you taken a train ride in Europe? Share with us your favourite journeys – we’d love to compare notes.

This blog was originally published on The Discoverer

Source: World Atlas | Date Updated: January 7, 2019

1,500 Chernobyl ‘liquidators’ live in Israel. They are appallingly mistreated

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

1,500 Chernobyl ‘liquidators’ live in Israel. They are appallingly mistreated

A 2001 law promised housing, medical care to this group of heroes, but scandalously has never been implemented. Maybe interest sparked by the remarkable TV series will change that

Ksenia Svetlova
Chernobyl liquidators visiting the Knesset in Jerusalem. (Ksenia Svetlova)

Chernobyl liquidators visiting the Knesset in Jerusalem. (Ksenia Svetlova)

The much-discussed new TV series, “Chernobyl,” which focuses on the worst nuclear disaster of the twentieth century, has reminded the world about what happened at the plant’s No. 4 nuclear reactor 33 years ago.

Despite the very real health dangers, many curious tourists have been making their way to the remote Ukrainian city where time stopped in April 1986. And journalists have been seeking out the people who fought the devastating fire and built the Chernobyl sarcophagus, the massive steel and concrete structure that was constructed on top of the destroyed reactor to isolate it and limit radioactive contamination of the surrounding area.

The vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of Chernobyl “liquidators”— those who were called in to deal with the immediate aftermath of the catastrophic nuclear leak — who are still alive today reside in the former Soviet Union. But about 5,000 of them immigrated to Israel at the start of the 90s, and 1,500 of them still live here. Unfortunately, the liquidators are elderly and suffer from ill health. Unsurprisingly, those facts are less interesting than the painful memories from those terrible days: the friends who died, the hair that fell out, the diseases that spread.

I came into contact with this unique group of people four years ago in the course of the election campaign for the twentieth Knesset. The head of the association of Chernobyl liquidators here, Alexander Kalantirsky, got in touch with me before I was elected, and asked for my help. When we started talking, it emerged that he had studied construction engineering together with my mother at the same university in Moscow.

Alex Kalantirsky (R) during a demonstration of Chernobyl liquidators at the Knesset in Jerusalem. (Ksenia Svetlova)

Kalantirsky was in his 40s, married and with children, when he was sent to Chernobyl to work on the construction of the sarcophagus.

Did he know what was waiting for him there, and that his health would be irreparably harmed? Absolutely. But at no point did he contemplate evading this mission.

“We knew that if the radiation continued to spread, not only would Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Russia be hit, but all of Europe, including the Mediterranean basin. That was all we were thinking about. We hoped we would be able to neutralize that immense danger,” he told me in our first discussion.

A concrete and steel sarcophagus that seals the Chernobyl nuclear power plant’s No. 4 reactor is seen in this picture from December 8, 1999, in Ukraine’s Chernobyl. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

The rights of the Chernobyl disaster liquidators are anchored in several international treaties to which Israel is not a signatory. Nonetheless, when the liquidators immigrated to Israel, they asked for the assistance that would enable them to deal with their illnesses and other needs.

And indeed in 2001, the late Knesset member Yuri Stern initiated legislation that recognized the liquidators’ work and gave them a unique status. The law specifies their right to public housing, to a one-time grant and to treatment in a special medical facility to be set up for this purpose.

An aerial view of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident, is seen in April 1986, two to three days after the explosion in Chernobyl, Ukraine. In front of the chimney is the destroyed 4th reactor. (AP Photo)

Since the passage of the law 18 years ago, however, the state has not implemented it and has not allocated the funding to implement it. In the four years that I served as a Knesset member, I sought answers from the government ministries responsible for this failure. Some of their responses were quite fascinating.

The Immigrant Absorption Ministry, and the Construction and Housing Ministry, for example, completely ignored the liquidators. The insurance companies refuse to insure the liquidators, because of the high level of illness to which they were exposed, but an effort to involve the Treasury in this issue was thwarted, with the explanation that the Treasury has no right to require private companies to insure or not insure an individual.

Deputy health minister Yaakov Litzman during a press conference after meeting with president Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, April 15, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

But the most outrageous response of all was from Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, who told me that “research does not prove that the Chernobyl disaster liquidators suffer from illnesses as a consequence of their work at the reactor. Most of them are smokers and it is possible that cancer in their cases is a consequence of that smoking.”

Once that contemptuous and offensive response was received, the path to a petition to the High Court of Justice was plainly open, since the 2001 legislation had instructed the government ministries to set up a medical facility to treat the Chernobyl liquidators. A petition was submitted by attorney Gilad Sher, who has been working for years on their behalf.

A doctor examines a boy who was evacuated from near the Chernobyl disaster area to Artek, June 14, 1986. (AP Photo)

At a hearing on December 17, 2018, the High Court accepted most of the liquidators’ key demands. The court made clear that the state had no right not to provide the liquidators with all their rights via a pretext that their medical situation was unclear.

The state was given 120 days to rectify the situation. But then the election campaign, and now the second election campaign, have frozen the work of the government and the Knesset, and nothing has moved.

Children from Chernobyl come to Israel for medical treatment in 1990 (Natan Alpert / GPO)

Very few reporters have taken an interest in this saga and the dire situation of the liquidators here. Among those who have focused on the story at all, most have concentrated on the awful details of what happened 33 years ago and interviewed these elderly, ailing people about that. For most of the liquidators, this is a profoundly traumatic experience.

And now came the remarkable “Chernobyl” historical drama.

Poster for Chernobyl, the 2019 miniseries

Says Kalantirsky: “This series returned me to the nightmare. The more I talk about my experiences there, the sicker I get.”

He and his friends, he says, do not understand why interviewers ignore their tales from the last three decades in Israel — the relentless battle they have been waging against government ministries who try to fob off responsibility from one ministry to another, and their dire financial situation.

“It’s been 18 years since Yuri Stern’s law passed. How many more years will it be before they start taking care of our issue?” asks Kalantirsky, a wise, intelligent, clearheaded man.

He has been amazed by the number of requests he has received for comments from the media, and disappointed by the superficiality of the questions.

“I have no problem talking about what happened at Chernobyl, even though it’s not easy for me,” he told me recently. “I watched the series. It was staggeringly accurate, apart for a few minor details. But it’s vital for me that it is not only the story of what happened then that is heard, but also our cry today.”

Workers who constructed the cement sarcophagus covering Chernobyl’s reactor four, pose with a poster reading: “We will fulfill the government’s order!” in summer of 1986 next to the uncompleted construction.(AP Photo/ Volodymyr Repik)

In contrast to the characters in the TV series, the Chernobyl disaster liquidators are real people, flesh and blood.

I can only hope that the renewed interest in the greatest ecological disaster of the twentieth century will eventually lead the media to focus not only on the horror stories of the two-headed chickens and the prematurely lost teeth, but also on the actual lives of 1,500 Israelis who live here.

Chernobyl ‘liquidators’ testify at a Knesset committee meeting (Ksenia Svetlova)

As their right, and not as an act of pity of charity, they require and deserve our practical help with homes and medical treatment. This is the least we should be doing for them, and it is scandalously long overdue.

The writer was a Zionist Union member of Knesset in 2015-19.

This article originally appeared in Hebrew on Zman Yisrael, ToI’s Hebrew site

A Comedian Just Became UKraine’s Next President

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF VOX NEWS)

 

A comedian just became Ukraine’s next president

Volodymyr Zelensky rode a populist, anti-corruption message straight to the presidency.

Volodymyr Zelensky was just voted in as Ukraine’s next president. Here he talks to journalists after taking a drug and alcohol test at the Eurolab diagnostic center on April 5, 2019.
 Pyotr Sivkov\TASS via Getty Images

Ukrainians on Sunday overwhelmingly voted to make a comedian their next president — ushering in a new era of politics in the struggling country.

Volodymyr Zelensky, a famous comedian who portrayed Ukraine’s head of state for years on a popular comedy show, defeated the incumbent president, Petro Poroshenko, who had been in power since 2014.

According to exit polls, Zelensky won a staggering 73 percent of the vote. Poroshenko conceded the race not long after polls closed.

It’s all quite the rise for an ordinary guy who, well, played an ordinary guy-turned-president on television.

Zelensky — or “Ze,” as he’s more popularly known — has no prior political experience and hasn’t offered a detailed blueprint for how he would govern. But he struck a populist, anti-corruption message during the campaign that clearly resonated with millions of Ukrainians suffering from poverty and government graft. That, plus his previous celebrity, made him a formidable force during the Eastern European country’s election.

The big question now is if he can follow through on his promises to stamp out undue oligarch influence in Kyiv and turn Ukraine’s economic fortunes around. After all, the comedian has no prior political experience and didn’t offer a detailed governing blueprint during the campaign.

Clearly, though, Ukrainians believe Zelensky embodies the change they hope he can bring to a struggling nation.

“There’s been a desire for a new face for a long time,” Melinda Haring, a Ukraine expert at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC, told me before the election. “It was clear the people wanted someone without the same baggage and connections to political dinosaurs.”

Ukraine’s struggles led to Zelensky’s rise

Experts say Zelensky’s remarkable story stems from Ukrainians’ dissatisfaction with decades of failed political leadership.

“After almost 30 years of electing to the presidency either relatively pro-Russian or officially pro-Western candidates from the economic and political elite, Ukraine remains one of the poorest nations in Europe,” Andreas Umland, an expert at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation in Kyiv, wrote for the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank on April 16.

World Bank chart below showing Ukraine’s massive dip in gross domestic product per capita starting around 2013 illustrates this point. And while the country has been experiencing a bit of growth lately, Ukraine is still among Europe’s poorest — if not the poorest — countries.

Chart of Ukraine’s GDP per capita, 2000 to 2017.
Chart of Ukraine’s GDP per capita, 2000 to 2017.
 World Bank

The country’s troubles have led millions of Ukrainians to flee in search of a better life.

“Ukrainians just want a normal standard of living,” Haring told me, but “Ukraine has gotten poorer as Poroshenko has gotten richer.”

Since Poroshenko, who once led the very successful company Roshen, took power in 2014 corruption only worsened as the government’s ties to oligarchs have strengthened. That made it harder for Ukraine to attract foreign investment and help the country’s economy rebound.

In February, Ukraine’s finance minister said that if the country grows at the same economic rate for 50 years — a big if — Ukraine will have the same economic strength as Poland. That, to put it mildly, isn’t an optimistic outlook it may take a half-century to become a European economic success story.

So while Poroshenko got high marks from many for pushing back against Russia’s invasion of parts of Ukraine’s east and south, a record he touted throughout the election, experts said that counted for very little.

“Poroshenko either misread the voters or thought his campaign themes — army, language, and faith — would carry the day,” Steven Pifer, the US ambassador to Ukraine from 1998 to 2000, told me on Thursday. “It looks like he greatly misjudged the electorate.”

Voters clearly wanted to hear new ideas for a new Ukraine, and that meant stemming the country’s rampant corruption and kick-starting the nation’s sputtering economy.

Poroshenko was such a symbol for Ukraine’s old ways that it was almost funny. Enter a comedian.

Zelensky represents what Ukraine wants to be

Zelensky, 41, made his name on Servant of the People, a comedy program that you can watch on Netflix in the US. It follows the life of Vasyl Petrovych Holoborodko, an everyman schoolteacher who unexpectedly becomes president and takes on the nation’s oligarchs.

The actor wants to do the same thing — but now in real life.

It’s probably not surprising that such an unconventional candidate ran an unconventional campaign. He held few big rallies and rarely spoke to the press. Instead, he mainly toured the country with comedy troupes to perform in skits and make audiences laugh, experts told me. But he leveraged social media to directly connect with voters and make his pitch.

Not much is known about his foreign policy except that he is mainly pro-Western, wants Ukraine to enter the European Union, and would seek NATO membership for his country — all positions that didn’t separate him much from Poroshenko.

There are two big worries Ukrainians still have about Zelensky, however. The first, of course, is his inexperience. But Ukrainians have shrugged that off in the past, though, like when voters in Kyiv voted in 2014 to make former heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko their mayor.

The second, and more important, is just how close he is to a Ukrainian oligarch: Igor Kolomoisky.

Zelensky’s show appeared on Kolomoisky’s TV channel, and the billionaire has long been a Poroshenko rival. Some worry that the comedian may simply be a tool of another Ukrainian fat cat trying to wield power, a charge Zelensky denies.

But those concerns didn’t dissuade Ukrainians from choosing Zelensky on Sunday. And so now a Ukrainian comedian who entered an election to take on the entrenched corruption in his country will be the next president. It sounds like a joke, but it’s reality.

WJC Urges All Of Europe’s Governments To Ban Hitler Birthday Celebrations

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

The World Jewish Congress on Friday urged European governments and lawmakers to take measures against a series of planned neo-Nazi gatherings over the weekend to mark Adolf Hitler’s birthday.

The WJC statement said group events to commemorate 130 years since the birth of the Nazi leader (on April 20, 1889) were scheduled across the continent, including a two-day conference by a fascist group in Bulgarian capital Sofia, a hiking and picnic trip in Ukraine, a rock concert in Italy, two conventions in Germany and a handful of gatherings in France.

The group invited lawmakers and other to join its social media campaign raising awareness about the recent rise of neo-Nazi movements in Europe by highlighting their connection to WWII-era Nazi groups.

The organization’s CEO, Robert Singer, made a personal appeal to Bulgarian Interior Minister Mladen Marinov, asking him to do everything in his power to cancel the Bulgarian National Union’s conference scheduled to take place in Sofia on Friday and Saturday.

WJC

@WorldJewishCong

This weekend, neo-Nazis will celebrate Hitler’s birthday throughout Europe. These gatherings are a stark reminder of the past. We must do everything we can to ensure history does not repeat itself.

44 people are talking about this

Previous BNU events have drawn nationalist supporters from other European countries. In February, hundreds of supporters walked through downtown Sofia holding torches and chanting nationalist slogans to honor a WWII general known for his anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi activities.

The annual Lukov March came despite strong condemnation by human rights groups, political parties and foreign embassies. The city mayor had banned the rally but organizers won a court order overturning the ban.

Singer said BNU’s upcoming gathering was “part and parcel with the inciting and violent nature of the annual [neo-Nazi] Lukov march and should be met with the same condemnation and denunciation.”

Last year on Hitler’s birthday, hundreds of neo-Nazis massed under heavy security in the eastern German town of Ostritz for a weekend festival. Citizens and anti-fascist activists staged spirited counterprotests in the area, vastly outnumbered concert-goers.

The festivities were organized by a member of the far-right fringe German political party NPD, which is openly xenophobic and anti-Semitic but in 2017 avoided a legal ban because of its small membership and limited influence.

Members of nationalist organizations parade with torches during a march to commemorate Bulgarian General and politician Hristo Lukov, in the centre of Sofia on February 16, 2019. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP)

In neighboring Poland, around 100 people attended a Hitler birthday concert in Dzierzoniow. Days later, police raided the homes of the concert organizers, arresting two and confiscating neofascist paraphernalia including flags and banners.

The public propagation of totalitarian ideologies like fascism or communism and ethnic or racial hatred is banned in Poland, a country still grappling with the memory of Nazi occupation, and carries a penalty of up to two years behind bars.

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Kremlin: U.S. Must ‘Babysit’ Poroshenko After Funding Ukrainian Revolution

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLYGRAPH.INFO)

 

Kremlin: U.S. Must ‘Babysit’ Poroshenko After Funding Ukrainian Revolution


Ukraine - the first day after "victory" at the Maidan in Kyiv, 23Feb2014
Ukraine – the first day after “victory” at the Maidan in Kyiv, 23Feb2014
Dmitry Peskov

Dmitry Peskov

Russian presidential spokesman

“Too much money was invested into Ukraine, too much money was poured into the coup in Ukraine, and justifying this coup also requires too much money.”

FALSE

Claim that U.S. funded “coup” in Ukraine long-since disproven

On Thursday December 20, Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told theTASS news agency that the upcoming presidential election in Ukraine, set for March 31, 2019, is further straining bilateral relations with Russia.

“[Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko has to win electoral support by all means, because the approval of him is low compared to the rivals who have overtaken him in the electoral rating. And this is exactly what he is doing, and this is clearly visible to us all,” Peskov said.

Peskov said that despite Poroshenko’s “relatively weak electoral positions,” the United States was stuck “babysitting” him on account of the sunk cost fallacy.

“Too much money was invested into Ukraine, too much money was poured into the coup in Ukraine, and justifying this coup also requires too much money,” Peskov said.

Kremlin officials and the state media in Russia label the popular pro-EU uprising in Ukraine a “coup” when in reality the movement was civilian in nature and involved no military support.

Claiming Washington is waiting for its investment in Ukraine to “yield dividends,” Peskov said the U.S. “did not quite succeed” and now needs to do its best “to save the situation.”

“Washington has to support Poroshenko and turn a blind eye to the real situation, which is exactly what it is doing now,” he said.

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine flared following a November 25 incident, in which three Ukrainian ships attempting to transit through the Kerch Strait in the Sea of Azov were fired on and then captured by Russian vessels.

Tweets by the Russian foreign ministry accounts
Tweets by the Russian foreign ministry accounts

The following day, martial law was introduced in Ukraine for 30 days in the 10 regions that would be on the front lines of a military conflict with Russia.

Russian media and officials have argued that Poroshenko provoked the incident in the Sea of Azov as a pretext to introduce martial law and buoy his electoral prospects.

No media source currently available

0:001:230:43

During his annual year-end press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Poroshenko had sent Ukrainian servicemen to die in the Sea of Azov to provoke Russia and boost his approval ratings.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has gone so far as to claim that Kyiv is planning a chemical weapons attack in Ukraine’s war-torn east.

Peskov’s claim that the U.S. funded the “coup” in Ukraine is false.

While not stated explicitly, his comment is likely based on a claim promulgated by Russian state media that the U.S. invested $5 billion in the Ukrainian uprising.

Politifact reported the claim stems from a December 2013 speech by then Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland to the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, a non-governmental agency promoting democracy in Ukraine.

In that speech, Nuland said that the United States had invested over $5 billion since Ukraine’s independence in 1991 to help the country “build democratic skills and institutions” so it can “achieve its European aspirations.”

As Brian Bohm noted in the Moscow Times in May 2014: “U.S. law prohibits the funding of opposition leaders and movements, and there have been no violations of this law in Ukraine.”

Since the annexation of Crimea and Russian-backed war erupted in Ukraine in 2014, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with more than $1 billion in security assistance.

In July, the Pentagon told CNN it had released $200 million in security assistance to Ukraine.

In March, the U.S. State Department formally approved the sale of 210 Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and 37 launchers for an estimated cost of $47 million. That was the first time lethal military aid to Kyiv has been approved.

Citing the U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS), the Council on Foreign Relations said the U.S. had spent $49 billion on foreign aid in 2016, around 1.2 percent of the federal budget. That included security and military assistance.

USAID, which put total U.S. obligations at $50 billion that year, said $513 million, or roughly 1% of the total, had gone to Ukraine.

The idea that U.S. support for Ukraine is based strictly on a need to “recoup an investment” and not on broader security issues in the region does not appear to be supported by the data.

As for Peskov’s argument that the U.S. funded the 2014 revolution in Ukraine, Polygraph.info finds that claim to be false.

WORLD WAR 3 ALERT: Russia is ‘lining up tanks along our border’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE EXPRESS NEWS)

 

WORLD WAR 3 ALERT: Russia is ‘lining up tanks along our border’ warns Ukraine

THE Ukranian President has sensationally claimed Russian military tanks are lining up along his country’s border, triggering another World War 3 alert.

Ukraine WILL defend against Russian aggression warns Klimkin

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Petro Poroshenko has shown Sky News images of what are apparently tanks gathering along the border, close to where Russia keeps its ammunition. He told the broadcaster: “This is the tank base just 18km (11 miles) from our border, this was happening in September, October, and now. This is 18km from my border, this is the same warehouse where they have their ammunition, the same where they have multi-rocket launch system, we should be prepared to protect my country.

If the whole world has no reason to trust Putin, Ukraine definitely doesn’t have a reason to go with him

Petro Poroshenko

“If the whole world has no reason to trust Putin, Ukraine definitely doesn’t have a reason to go with him.”

The Ukrainian President also appealed for help from Western leaders as tensions between the two countries threaten to boil over.

Mr Poroshenko said: “There is no red line for Vladimir Putin and this is the very strong reason why we should be together, the whole civilised world.

“Not only the leaders, with whom a very reliable partnership, but the people of UK, of Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, the whole civilised world would be together and this is very important for global security.”

READ MORE: World War 3: Ukraine digs TRENCHES and readies for Russia CLASH after martial law declared

World War 3 alert Ukraine Russia

World War 3 alert: Ukraine’s President says Russian tanks are linking up along his country’s border (Image: GETTY)

Ukraine's president says that Russia has tanks

Ukraine’s president says that Russia has tanks on the border (Image: GETTY)

This is the latest worrying developent in rising tensions between the two Soviet neighbours.

Last weekend, Russia seized three Ukrainian navy ships and their crew in the Kerch Strait, accusing them of moving into their territory.

Russia has been blocking access to the strait and has so far not released the Ukrainian sailors.

Ukraine has rejected accusations of tresspassing in the Russian waters.

Ukraine's President says Russian tanks

Ukraine’s President says Russian tanks are massing on Ukraine’s border (Image: GETTY)

It added two of its ports are effectively under blockade by their Soviet neighbour in the Azov Sea, something that Moscow has denied.

Mr Poroshenko also accused Russia of “strangling” Ukraine with continuous restrictions.

He said: “They want to hit Ukraine because through Azov Sea, and our sea ports, we export about 40% of our industrial production.

“This is another step for a Russian organised embargo, only buying Ukrainian goods, switching off the natural gas, this is part of the hybrid war that Russia want to attack us.”

Ukrainian soldiers stationed in Mariupol

Ukrainian soldiers stationed in Mariupol (Image: GETTY)

Yesterday, Ukrainian troops started digging trenches after martial law was declared in the country for 30 days.

One Ukrainian soldier, Timokha, explained that due to the declaration of martial law, they were seeing a significant increase in military operations.

He said: “Under martial law, we’re watching the enemy more closely, we’ve put up more observation posts.”

The soldier explained that they were packing emergency rations and ammunition into the trenches “so if something comes up, we can counter an attack by the enemy and move in various directions, not be tied to one place”.

Ukrainian soldiers dig trenches

Ukrainian soldiers dig trenches (Image: GETTY)

Vladimir Putin to ‘pay a price’ for Ukraine aggression says MEP

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Another soldier, Trotsky, added the soldiers were feeling more threatened from the Sea of Azov following the seizure of the three Ukrainian vessels.

He said: “It’s like we’re boxed in, like we’re surrounded.”

According to Sergiy, a Ukrainian soldier stationed at Mariupol’s port, little has changed for the troops in the area because they have been ready for conflict since Crimea was annexed by Russia.

Sergiy said: “Nothing has changed for us with the introduction of martial law. We’re already into our fifth year of war.”

Additional reporting by Paul Withers.

Russia Says Trump Putin Meeting Will Happen At G20

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NEWSWEEK)

 

RUSSIA DOESN’T BELIEVE DONALD TRUMP ABOUT WHY HE CANCELED PUTIN MEETING AND SAYS IT’LL HAPPEN ANYWAY

Russian government officials said President Donald Trump canceled his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Argentina because he was having trouble with the “U.S. domestic political situation.”

On Thursday, Trump announced he was canceling the meeting he had scheduled with Putin because of Russia’s refusal to release Ukrainian sailors who were detained last Sunday during a standoff between Ukrainian and Russian troops in the Kerch Strait, which separates the Black Sea from the Sea of Azov. The confrontation led caused Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to declare martial law in 10 of Ukraine’s regions that are in proximity to Russian military capabilities.

But Russian officials said that the situation in Ukraine wasn’t the real reason that Trump opted to cancel the much-anticipated meeting with Putin.

“Was the provocation organized by Kiev in this region the real reason for cancellation?” Maria Zakharova, the Kremlin’s spokeswoman, asked during a press conference. “Publicly, we heard just such an explanation; we took note of it. Is this a reality?…I think that you still need to look for answers in the U.S. domestic political situation.”

gettyimages-1066356068-594x594Michael Cohen, former personal attorney to President Donald Trump, exits a New York City federal court on November 29.DREW ANGERER/GETTY IMAGES

On Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, known to be Putin’s right-hand man, suggested that the two leaders would engage in a “brief and impromptu” meeting at the G20, even if an official meeting is not scheduled, according to reports.

Trump’s cancellation came just hours after Michael Cohen, the president’s former longtime lawyer and fixer,  pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his attempts to launch a Trump Tower project in Moscow at the same time Trump was running for president. Cohen had originally testified that he had dropped the proposal in January 2016, but recently admitted that negotiations had continued until June 2016.

Cohen began cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, since he pleaded guilty in August to eight felonies. He is considered a key witness in the Mueller case and, having worked with Trump for more than a decade, could reveal many details about the inner workings of Trump’s business empire and its ties to Russia.

Trump said his longtime colleague was lying to obtain a reduced sentence, and continued to call the investigation into collusion with Russia a “witch hunt.”

Nevertheless, the Mueller investigation appears to be gaining speed since Trump submitted written answers to the investigators’ questions through his lawyers. Mueller is believed to be focusing his attention on the Trump Tower deal and connections between Trump associates and the radical transparency organization Wikileaks.

It’s possible, however, that the Russia investigation and the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which is now almost in its fifth year, will derail the relationship between Trump and Putin entirely.

Putin The Habitual Liar: 8 Putin Claims Regarding the Kerch Strait Incident

(THIS INFORMATION IS COURTESY OF THE NEWS ORGANIZATION POLYGRAPH.INFO)

 

Video Fact Check: 8 Putin Claims Regarding the Kerch Strait Incident


RUSSIA -- Russian President Vladimir Putin reacts during a session of the VTB Capital Investment Forum "Russia Calling!" in Moscow, November 28, 2018
RUSSIA — Russian President Vladimir Putin reacts during a session of the VTB Capital Investment Forum “Russia Calling!” in Moscow, November 28, 2018
Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin

President of the Russian Federation

Multiple claims are covered, see below.

MULTIPLE CLAIMS (SEE ARTICLE)

There are questions about several of Putin’s claims.

On November 28, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed Sunday’s incident in the Black Sea. When a Russian coast guard vessel rammed a Ukrainian naval tugboat, Russian vessels fired shots at the tug and two Ukrainian patrol boats near the Kerch Strait. At the VTB Bank Investment Forum in Moscow, Putin answered reporters’ questions – making a number of statements that are either false, unverified, or possibly true but in a misleading way. You can watch what he said and our verdicts in the video here:

No media source currently available

0:002:550:00

Read more about it below:

PUTIN: “In regards to the incident in the Black Sea – that, without a doubt, was a provocation.”

TRUE: This may be true, but if so, it was a Russian provocation, not a Ukrainian one. The Russian ships engaged the Ukrainian boats aggressively, even as the Ukrainian naval boats acted in accordance with a bilateral treaty signed by Putin in 2003.The treaty grants free passage through the Kerch strait to commercial and naval vessels of Ukraine and Russia. The Ukrainian Navy claims their vessel gave notification of its intent to transit the strait.

Alec Luhn

@ASLuhn

Essentially what happened is Ukraine tried to send 3 naval ships into the shared Azov Sea through the Kerch Strait, which is spanned by the Crimean bridge. Russia rammed one and later opened fire on another. It’s closed traffic through the Kerch Strait https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-russian-ship-rams-navy-tugboat-off-crimea-azov/29619665.html 

Kyiv Says Russian Ship Rams Ukrainian Navy Tugboat Off Crimea

Ukraine says a Russian coast guard vessel has rammed one of its navy tugboats off the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula in “openly aggressive actions,” resulting in damage to the ship.

rferl.org

404 people are talking about this

PUTIN: “A provocation, organized by the current Ukrainian authorities, I think by the current president ahead of presidential elections in Ukraine in March of the next year.”

FALSE: Putin is implying that the incident was organized by Ukrainian President Poroshenko in order to justify calling off elections scheduled for next year via his decree of martial law. However, the period of martial law will expire on December 26, months before the election, and will only include areas of the country embroiled in conflict.

___________________________________________________________

PUTIN: “Something needed to be done to escalate the situation and create insurmountable obstacles for his contestants, especially those from the opposition.”

UNCLEAR: This is unclear, because it is unverifiable. Although it is true that Putin’s own approval rating has been boosted by military adventures abroad.

_____________________________________________________________

PUTIN: “…in 2014 when Crimea decided to join Russia…”

FALSE: The Crimea didn’t “decide to join Russia.” The Russian military took the peninsula in unmarked uniforms and the part of the region “voted” under Russian occupation.

_____________________________________________________________

PUTIN: “The hard events of a civil war in Ukraine in the south-east in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.”

FALSE: There is no civil war in those regions, but rather a Russian invasion and occupation.

_____________________________________________________________

PUTIN: “So what happened now? They did not respond to requests from our border guard, they entered our territorial waters, the waters that were our territorial even before Crimea has joined the Russian Federation.”

FALSE: Use of the strait is governed by the bilateral treaty between the two countries renewed in 2003.By agreement, the the strait and the sea of Azov are considered internal waters of both Ukraine and Russia, and provides for free passage for vessels of both nations.A maritime expert, and radio intercepts, placed the vessels at the 12 nautical mile point in the Black Sea, where Crimean territorial waters end.

(see original fact check on this topic, linked above)

_____________________________________________________________

PUTIN: “Today authorities in Kyiv successfully sell anti-Russian sentiments; they have nothing else left to sell.”

MISLEADING: Anti-Russian sentiments in Ukraine follow the Russian invasion and occupation of its territory – Crimea in early 2014 and the ongoing Eastern Ukraine conflict, fomented by Russian actors.

_____________________________________________________________

PUTIN: “No matter what they (Ukrainians) do, they get away with it. If they demand today infants for breakfast, they, probably, will be served infants”

FALSE: Ukraine’s leadership is routinely criticized by Western governments and human rights watchdogs on a number of topics from corruption and slow reforms, to failure to uphold human rights and press freedom.

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