Every news has two sides, we at The World Reporter always tried to represent both sides of a news event. We all are seeing what is happening in Ukraine, but I decided to talk with East Ukrainians and people from Crimea and get the story out from the other side of the Ukraine, i.e news from Crimea. Before judging the neutrality of the article, please read other articles on our journal.
I have been covering Ukraine in our news opinion articles since the last week of November. Besides some pro government protests in Donetsk, I have not seen much activity in the east. Western media refused to show anything from East and Russian media was busy calling pro-European leaders evil. I avoided following western as well as Russian news, I only relied on talking to native Ukrainians. I have equal number of close friends from both sides of the country who provided me balanced information whenever I had a question.
Recently, I got a chance to talk to a friend of mine from Yalta (Crimea) and I asked her, if the people in East Ukraine do not support pro EU rallies then why do not they come out to protest and raise their voice in equally strong manner and give Yanukovich some moral support? Her quick answer made me think for a while. “If we will also come out on the streets then who will work in Ukraine?” Her words suggested that East Ukrainians are caring for Ukraine and working for its economy and peace.
Ukrainians taking refuge in Russia
Since the fall of Ukraine’s previous government, I have been thinking, is it democratic? Viktor Yanukovich was the elected president with the majority (more than 50%) to form the government. Considering the high profile pro EU wave, it is possible that probably 60% Ukrainians wanted EU association, but 40% did not want. See more accurate numbers here.
In US, India or any other democratic country it does not matter which party comes to the power, people remain in the country, they do not leave their hopes and most importantly, they do not feel threatened.
In Ukraine, it is not the case. Probably majority of the people did achieve what they wanted and what they felt was good for their country’s future. However, the remaining either have lost their hopes, are fleeing to Russia or are protesting on the streets. Again, do not think that pro Russians are a small community. Ukraine has almost equal division of pro Russians and pro Europeans.
It has been estimated by Russia’s Federal Border Guard Service that 675,000 Ukrainians (most of them from the region bordering Russia and south Ukraine) arrived in Russia in the month of January and February, fearing the “revolutionary chaos” brewing in Ukraine (The fact promoted by Russia Today is debatable)
“In just past two months (January-February), 675,000 Ukrainian citizens have entered Russian territory,” Itar-Tass news agency cited the service as saying.
People in thousands of number in eastern regions and cities such as Kharkov and Donetsk came out on the streets protesting with placard saying, “in Russia we have brothers, in Europe we are slaves!”
Russian loses official language status
As soon as the new government took the charge of Kiev, the first controversial decision (controversial even in the eyes of west and EU) was taken by making Ukrainian the only official language of the country. This prevents Russian to be used by Eastern regions of Ukraine and Hungarian and Romanian language in Western Ukraine. Many consider this move as offensive and threatening, and some of them are losing hopes of continuing their life in Ukraine.
Crimea turned to Russia for security and financial help
Crimea has declared that it will stay out of Kiev’s business and Kiev should do the same. Speaker of the parliament of Crimea, Vladimir Konstantinov told Kiev to put its own house in order first before commenting anything on Crimea, adding that local authorities can take care of local business in Crimea.
“You in Kiev sort it out between yourselves, and we will deal with the republic’s problems,” Vladimir Konstantinov told in a news conference.
To ensure law and order situation and getting financial aid, the republic of Crimea turned to Russia instead of Kiev. Russia, which already has a military base in Crimea, is said to have been providing security.
“We turned to Russia for help in ensuring law and order, and providing financial aid in this difficult period. This request was granted. Now a working group in Moscow is talking about the technical details of this issue,” Konstantinov said. (Quest for Crimea, Why it is so important for Russia?)
Referendum in Crimea and Donetsk
With the aim of achieving greater autonomy, Parliament in Crimea has scheduled referendum on March 30 on whether it should have greater autonomy and weaker control of Kiev. It is believed that majority will be in favour of greater autonomy for Crimea.
Donetsk has also taken the same step and The City Council has refused to recognize the new government in Ukraine. The City Council has called for a referendum on region’s status and has made Russian official language of the region alongside Ukrainian.
The Council has urged the local parliament to set the date for referendum immediately. The move is set to “protect the citizens from possible violent actions on the behalf of radicalized nationalistic forces,” the council said in a statement.
Ukrainian military surrenders to Crimea
Meanwhile, Crimea’s deputy prime minister, Rustam Temirgaliev, announced that after surrendering their all-military capabilities, no active unit of Ukrainian army remains in the republic.
“The entire Ukrainian armed forces stationed on the Crimean territory have been blocked – a number have been disarmed, while another big portion is switching to the Crimean side,” Interfax reported him as saying.
On Friday, the Navy command of Ukraine resigned as well. Rear admiral Denis Berezovsky took the control of Crimea’s newly formed Navy. The move followed Ukraine’s biggest loss of its flagship, the Hetman Sahaidachny frigate. The frigate refused to follow orders from Kiev and is returning home with a Russian naval flag after taking part in NATO operation in the Gulf of Aden.
After Navy, Air Force has also shown its commitment to the people of Crimea, The Ukrainian Air Force 240th tactical aviation brigade based near Sevastopol has pledged its commitment to the authorities of Crimea. The base is manned by more than 800 troops and has four operational MIG 29 fighters out of 45 fighters, which it is hosting. With Air Force coming in, strength of Crimean military has reached 6,000 personnel.
The head of the Security Service of Crimea Petyor Zima, Chief of Department of Internal Affairs in the Crimea Sergey Abisov, the head of Service for Emergency Situations Sergei Shakhov and present Chief of the Border Guards of Crimea Victor Melnichenko took an oath of commitment to the people of Crimea. They promised “to respect and strictly observe the Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea” and to “promote the preservation of interethnic accord and civil peace” on the peninsula.
US and Western agencies gathering intelligence.
Activists and pro maidan protesters have been reported of searching residences of former government’s officials to collect intelligence and handing it over to US and German military. However, Germany has curbed their activities.
Federal Security Bureau (FSB) of Russia has detained a Russian citizen coming back from Ukraine, suspected of raiding houses of former officials with other Right Wing group in Kiev.
“They load buses with the self-defence troops and go to MPs’ dachas in the suburbs, to their apartments, and break down their doors. It is not looting, like in taking furniture and stuff. They take documents and hand them over to special people, who check them,” he said in an interview with the Russia-24 news channel.
“It was in the afternoon of February 26, when an American group came in two Mercedes cars. American troops came out wearing their uniforms,” he recalled.
Russia to provide citizenship to willing Ukrainians
Liberal Democratic Party of Russia has introduced a bill allowing simplified citizenship procedure for Ukrainians of Russian origin. Later as the suggestion started coming up, politicians pitched for giving jobs to former members of Ukrainian Berkut police in Russian defence and police forces. Berkut was the semi-autonomous police loyal to Yanukovich government. Each region had its own Berkut unit and were specialised in crowd control. However, they were blamed of kidnapping and killing many maidan protesters and terrorized non-Yanukovich voters in the past elections.
Ukraine to criminalize dual citizenship
In a bill which is still in the parliament can jail people having dual citizenship for up to 10 years. Those who are holding two citizenships would be fined $165 and their citizenship will be declared illegal. Those who are voting in Ukrainian elections with illegal Ukrainian citizenship will face the jail for three years, and those holding public office with illegal citizenship will be jailed for 10 years. if it becomes a law, then it will discourage eastern and southern Ukrainians from taking Russian citizenship, and will encourage others to strip their Russian citizenship.
This was an attempt to dig out news from East Ukraine without imposing the views and beliefs of the west. It does not mean that The World Reporter has taken a side. We have been covering Ukraine for months and our previous neutral reports including a survey (also published on KyivPost) can be read here (also in Russian language)
Do you have something to add in the article? Alternatively, do you oppose anything said on this article? Please add your views and opinion in the comments section below and facilitate a healthy intellectual debate. The article may be amended based on selected comments to maintain neutrality. Tweet this article with #антимайдан or #євромайдан.
Yes, You Should Start Caring About Politics!
One of the most common things that you hear from people a lot of the time is something along the lines of “I just don’t really care about politics.” In fact, you might have even said something along those lines yourself. And it can be tempting to fall into this line of thinking. After all, politics are hardly the most exciting or exotic things in the world. However, the truth is that they impact your life in different ways every single day and if you choose to ignore politics, then that just meant that you’re going to end up falling victim to policies that harm you and the people around you. With that in mind, here are some ways that you can start being more politically minded right now.
Know the issues
Do you know where you stand on many of the most important issues of the modern day? Do you know what most of those issues are? The truth is that many people would rather ignore a lot of the problems that society and the world at large face simply because it can feel as though they’re too big to deal with. Things like the economy, climate change, and social justice aren’t just abstract concepts; they’re things that impact the lives of real people every single day. Being more informed about the issues will allow you to have a much better understanding of your own political views.
Know who to speak to
Do you know who your senator is? Your representative? Most people tend to only know major politicians who have held office at one point or another. Sure, you probably know the president or a senator like John Mccain. But what about all of the other senators like Doug Jones or Mike Crapo? These are the people you can actually contact if you want to start making some changes in the world. Getting to know who you can contact can help you feel much more involved in the modern political process.
Forget about personalities and focus on policies
Modern politics has become as much of a game of personalities as anything else. But the truth is that the personalities of individual politicians are far less important than the policies that they and their party want to enact. After all, the policies are the things that will actually make a difference in people’s lives. You should never vote just because you like or dislike the way that a particular politician talks or what their personality seems to be like. Always vote on policies, not personalities.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you should suddenly let politics take over every conversation that you have or that you need to be constantly thinking about it. But trying to bury your head in the sand and ignore the things that are going on around you isn’t going to do you any good. The only way that you can start to make some genuine changes in the world is if you face up to the realities of the modern world and try to do something about it.
How Mafia-States Get Away with Criminality
In theory, all 195 states adhere to the Charter of the United Nations and therefore pledge “to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained”. In other words, to play the game and adhere to basic governmental principles. That’s in theory: in practice, a handful of states in the world behave like mafias, and get away with it.
President George W. Bush first used the terms “failed states” or “rogue states”, during his office. Rogue states seem more adapted because, if they are failed states in the sense that they do not carry out their mission, they are not failed for everyone. Afghanistan is, still today, one of the most prominent examples of how to get personally rich by pretending to represent people. In the wake of the NATO intervention in Afghanistan, billions of dollars were poured into the country in reconstruction efforts, based on the belief that if the population was schooled and busy at work, they would be less likely to join rebel ranks. The idea was good, but most of the massive funds were sidetracked to line officials’ pockets and Afghanistan is pretty much in the same shape as it was before the program, if not worse. Business Insider covered the subject (1): “All districts receive central government budget to cover salaries of front-line forces,” reporter Jessica Purkiss wrote for the Bureau. “In many areas in Afghanistan, some of this budget disappears and the actual number of officers tasked with holding back the Taliban is much lower than the number actually allotted.”
And such rogue states also exist close to the Western sphere of Europe and the US. Almost every single State in Central and South America is at the warning level on the Fragile State Index (2) (the term was brushed up to sound less definitively damning than President Bush’s wording). Hungary was bashed this year, along with the rest of EU low-performers, for dropping sharply in the EU’s good governance ranking, as reported by Nicolaj Nielsen, for the EU observer (3): “Bulgaria scored the worst among EU states with 41, followed by Greece (44), Italy (47), Romania (48), Hungary (48), and Croatia (49). Dolan faulted the crackdown on civil society and other independent institutions in Croatia and Hungary for their worsening performance. Both governments were also embroiled in scandals last year. In one case, Hungary’s government allegedly funneled money from the Central Bank to friends and family.” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán learned from the report (4) that “Hungary loses 200 billion forints every year due to the corruption that exists in public procurement cases.”
Not to forget that States are not all mutually recognized and accepted, some of them are self-proclaimed. While some do indeed strive to carry out their stated mission and serve the people they claim to represent, some other are merely mafia groups with a political cover, which deal in various traffics and racketeering. Bordering Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania, lies Western Sahara, where a group named the Polisario Front announced to the world that it was the shield of the Sahrawi people, who originate from the arid strip of land, with the stated intent of creating a sovereign state. But that must be put into perspective with the endless list of allegations and accusations carried against it, regarding the Polisario’s management of refugee camps in Algeria for example. The self-proclaimed government of the Sahrawi – namely the SADR (Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic) – is known for keeping the refugees captive in the camps, or keeping family members as hostage to guarantee men’s returns, maintaining a general state of violence and lawlessness within the compound. In addition, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has serious doubts (5) as to what becomes of the humanitarian aid it sends. It suspects not only the food to be sidetracked and sold on the black market, but also to be requested in excessive numbers – the Polisario front claims it holds up to 200 000 refugees but has systematically refused census, leading humanitarian donors to believe the figures are doubtful.
Can this be avoided? Hardly, at the general level. Pablo Escobar coined the phrase which underlies the entire system : Plata o plomo (silver or lead). Officials could be paid off to keep silent and play along, or be shot. Therefore, it is in the nature of corruption systems to maintain themselves because, should a “pure” official arise, he will be removed and replaced by a more complacent one.
Mafia states use the cover of darkness or, better still, a politically activist stance. The Colombian FARCs – Polisario’s allies, incidentally… – and the Medellin Cartel, run by Pablo Escobar, had an intense PR activity with many “social and humanitarian” poses, to help improve their public image and stymie political push-backs. The Polisario Front has moved much of its assaults to the judicial level, in a new form of “civilized” piracy, including with the surprise attempt to seize a Moroccan shipload earlier this year in South Africa. “The conclusion of this case will actually tell us whether it is now conceivable, on the judiciary level, that international shipping industry – which carries 90% of global trade – become hostage to some form of unprecedented and increasingly vicious political piracy,” wrote Philippe Delebecque (6), a French judge specializing in maritime affairs.
Mafia states are here to stay, because the mafia creates the state, and not the other way around. Once the mafia has developed its tentacles and political power enough, it will make kings and topple uncooperative administrators. Other states in the world are fully aware of this fact, and that if they bust a mafia-state, another will replace it within weeks. So, in the best cases, neighboring countries let it be; in the worst cases, they get involved in the graft.
Should You Support Universal Basic Income? Who else is in favour?
In the previous article “Universal Basic Income: In Action” we explored that Universal Basic Income under different variants is already being put to trial in different provinces of a number of countries around the world. Before that, in “Universal Basic Income: The Idea” we weighed the potential of UBI in creating a monumental change in the way humanity as a society functions as of today. While there’s still quite some time required to ascertain how easily and efficiently the system can be put into effect and whether it should be put into place at all, some of the more apparent advantages, as well as flaws of the system, are repeatedly considered by experts in determining the answers to the aforementioned questions. In addition, many influential figures have also come out both in support of UBI as well as against it. Let’s take a look at the support UBI has garnered as well as the supposed benefits and criticisms of UBI.
Pros of Universal Basic Income
The first argument often cited in favour of UBI is for its potential to alleviate poverty, improve the standard of living and vastly reduce income inequality no matter which country it is implemented in. the Alaska Permanent Fund (AFP), which we’ve already discussed, was instrumental in improving the state’s income equality rank from 30 to 2. UBI trials in Namibia, Kenya, and parts of India have also yielded positive results in this regard. UBI has also resulted in the improvement of health, especially mental health, as reported by people who have been part of UBI trials in Ontario, Canada. UBI also encourages entrepreneurial behaviour since it guarantees basic subsistence thereby providing an incentive for people to take up a line of work of their liking. UBI trials in India and Namibia have also shown that it has helped promote financial decision making by women resulting in their empowerment. A guarantee of a fixed income every month also brings more power to people when it comes to deciding where they should spend money. The Roosevelt Institute research we discussed previously also suggests an overall growth in the US economy with a countrywide implementation of UBI. UBI is also expected to lead to a positive job growth and lower the dropout rates in schools since it provides more security to families.
Cons of Universal Basic Income
The critics of UBI argue that money that is essential for the poor is being redirected towards the wealthy and those citizens who have no need for it. Robert Greenstein, founder and President of Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington D.C. “if you take the dollars targeted on people in the bottom fifth or two-fifths of the population and convert them to universal payments to people all the way up the income scale, you’re redistributing income upward. That would increase poverty and inequality rather than reduce them.” In addition to that, it is often argued that UBI programs are highly ineffective when compared to welfare programs that are implemented on targeted populations. Therefore, unless UBI is implemented without the scrapping off of such welfare schemes, it is likely to find opposition from a huge number of people who currently benefit from these programs. Another argument against UBI one may repeatedly encounter is that UBI reduces the incentive to work, which leads to huge costs for the economy. This may also lead to a dearth of skilled and unskilled labour in the economy. The Swiss government have opposed the implementation of UBI for the very same reason, fearing that the current labour shortages may be exacerbated. Finally, an argument that also holds the door open for many debates is that UBI is too expensive to implement and will cost a lot to the government. As opposed to studies which show a growth in the economies through the implementation of UBI, many economists have also opposed it, claiming that UBI in the more developed nations will be very expensive to guarantee an acceptable standard of living to all the citizens.
Who Supports Universal Basic Income?
Since the idea was first proposed by Sir Thomas More in 1516, UBI has found suitors throughout recent history. Founding father of the United States Thomas Paine was in favour of it, philosopher and Nobel Laureate Bertrand Russell argued in its favour, and even Martin Luther King said: “the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.” American economist Milton Friedman, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and even former US President Richard Nixon came close to bringing UBI to the United States. As of today, a number of high profile names in the Silicon Valley have expressed their support for UBI. An advocate of entrepreneurship and creativity, Mark Zuckerberg sighted UBI as an worth a look in his statement at his Harvard commencement address: “We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas.” Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk believes implementation of UBI is inevitable. “There’s a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation,” Musk said in an interview in 2016. Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay also donated towards a UBI experiment in Kenya. Coursera founder Andrew Ng expressed on Twitter: “More than ever, we need a basic income to limit everyone’s downside, and better education to give everyone an upside.” The list does not stop here.
UBI has at least gained enough attention to get people, investors, world leaders, and governments to talk about it and more importantly experiment with it. The results are not yet out and will take a considerable amount of time still to be able to present a final verdict on UBI and its effectiveness. However, as robots make humans redundant in recurring waves, is there still enough time to just be experimenting?
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