Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich releases message then goes on “sick leave”

The president of Ukraine has placed himself on “sick leave” due to a high fever but released the following message to the Ukrainian people:

Pres Yanukovich aDear compatriots!

I address you with a feeling of great anxiety and concern for the lives and health of many people involved in the conflict by irresponsible politicians. Unfortunately, this confrontation has not gone without casualties. This night Ukraine has suffered another loss – captain of the Internal Troops Dmytro Vasyliovych Dunets died in the course of the service on maintaining public order in Kyiv.

These days, Ukraine bade farewell to the young people died in this confrontation. We also know that people have suffered from defatigation, cold and clashes. Every such accident leaves a deep and painful sore in our hearts. Each of us asks: for what do people suffer? Why do politicians not call for peace and mutual understanding but kindle the emotions with their reckless and irresponsible statements thinking rather about their ratings than about the life and health of people?

In the process of negotiations on peaceful settlement of the confrontation, we have reached concrete agreements with the opposition. The government has fulfilled all its obligations under these agreements including the adoption of the Law on Amnesty that guarantees freedom and liberation of persons arrested during the conflict.

However, the opposition continues to escalate the situation and urges people to stand on a frost for the sake of political ambitions of several leaders. I think that it is wrong. We must understand that there is no future for the state and people if political interests of certain groups are set higher than the existence of Ukraine itself.

I once again address people, ordinary citizens, my compatriots: let’s do everything for peace and normal life in the country. For my part, I will consider the needs and aspirations of people with the greatest understanding and commitment taking into account the mistakes that any government can make for only the one who does nothing makes no mistakes.

I believe that together we will manage to bring the life of Ukraine and all its citizens back to the peaceful track.


Ukraine is crying, but not dead yet

Ukraine is crying, literally, as the street battles continue. At no other time have I ever felt so sad about this beautiful land and her people. I have shed tears, and prayed, and cried some more.

Ukraine tear

The name of this land, Україна, is prophetic in a very profound way. The single name of this special country is Ukraine, and in Ukrainian (and also in Russian), it is spoken with a cry. Україна: ooh (as in google)-kri (cry)- eena. “Ooh-cry-eena,” the country we know in English as “Ukraine.” Today again, we cry as both sides continue the long days and cold nights of violence.

2014 protests Kyiv Ilya Varlamov a

After sitting down for talks, President Yanukovich has offered to sack the government and name two of the prominent protest leaders as Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. The opposition however remains committed to early presidential elections, release of all political prisoners, amnesty for the protesters, and repeal of new laws that prohibit public assembly and free speech.

ukraine flags

Blue and gold, traditional colours of this country. There is even a sadness in the national anthem of this land that has been conquered over and over by outsiders and now seems to be destroying itself. The lyric reads, “Ukraine is not yet dead.” Right now I’m not so certain.

Truce in Ukraine

President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovich made a bid to hang onto power by promising to restructure the government. Thus on Friday an uneasy truce settled over Ukraine with the president agreeing to announce a new government on or shortly before 29 January. President Yanukovich also promised European Commission President José Manuel Barroso that Ukraine will not declare a state of emergency to end the protests.

In meetings with opposition and church leaders, Mr. Yanukovich pledged to “do everything to stop this conflict, to stop violence and establish stability.”  He warned however that violence was not the way to reach a peaceful solution and said, “If we manage to stop radicals amicably, we will stop them amicably. Otherwise we will use all legal methods provided for by the laws of Ukraine. Anyway it is for the sake of people. There is no other way.

Independence Square, filled but before the violent demonstrations. (foto: Ilya Varlamov)
Independence Square, spoken as “Maidan” in Ukrainian, filled but before the violent demonstrations. (foto: Ilya Varlamov)

Prime Minister Azarov, an ethnic Russian, had pledged to step down and dissolve his cabinet if requested and apparently President Yanukovich is close to accepting his offer.

Protests were renewed after the government reneged on its promise not to prosecute citizens who had demonstrated in late December and early January. The government then passed a law effectively outlawing public demonstrations and severely curtailing the Constitutional rights of citizens to assemble in public.

Activities during the lull include preparations for further fighting. (foto: Ilya Varlamov)
Activities  during the lull at various spots on Independence Square include preparations for further fighting. (foto: Ilya Varlamov)

By Thursday demonstrations had spread to other parts of Ukraine, mainly Western areas which favour closer ties with Europe instead of Russia. In the western Ukrainian city of Lviv hundreds of protesters stormed the office of regional governor Oleh Salo, forcing him to pen a letter of resignation.

2014 protests map 2014 protests map 2

Opposition leaders say that President Yanukovich must fire Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his cabinet and that he must set a date for new presidential elections. Prime Minister Azarov has left the country to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Already there seems to be movement on the question of EU integration as Yanukovich told reporters on Friday that he remained committed to the idea of European integration. “Let’s take a break and understand the plan and terms under which we will sign the Association Agreement.”

One certainty is that this protest galvanized citizens across generational gaps. While the country continues to be divided into East versus West, it is no longer also a matter of young versus old.

This protest succeeded in uniting citizens of all ages. (foto: Ilya Varlamov)
This protest succeeded in uniting citizens of all ages. (foto: Ilya Varlamov)
(foto: Ilya Varlamov)
(foto: Ilya Varlamov)
The government says people like this are extremists, but this Red Army veteran of forgotten battles disagrees. (foto: Ilya Varlamov)
The government says people like this are extremists, but this Red Army veteran of forgotten battles disagrees. (foto: Ilya Varlamov)

Special riot police called Беркут (Berkut), continue to round up stray protesters for arrest. Citizens claim that those arrested are mistreated, even to the point of being stripped and forced out in the elements to pose naked for photographs. The government has denied the claims, but…

In any country, citizens often cling to false hope about how police and military troops will react in a crisis. With rare exceptions, they are professionals and trained to follow orders, therefore they act according to their training. It is obvious the police/troops have taken sides and now both sides hate the other. In many arrests, and this is easily confirmed with video in our possession, the police have shaved the heads of protesters and painted the Ukrainian term for “slave” (Раб) on the foreheads of those arrested.

Two ladies wear symbols for former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko who has been imprisoned by the current government. (foto: Ilya Varlamov)
Two ladies wear symbols for former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko who has been imprisoned by the current government. (foto: Ilya Varlamov)

The government and opposition are conducting talks. We can pray that this will bring about a positive resolution.

Until then, we wait…

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white winter

Kyiv (Kiev) is burning.

Kyiv (Kiev) is burning. This historic city dating back to the year 482, the birthplace of modern Russia and capital of the independent nation of Ukraine, is literally covered with soot and smoke.

2014 protests Kyiv burns a

2014 protests Kyiv battles

President Viktor Yanukovich has been given 24 hours to resign and/or call new elections.

2014 protests Yanukovich 24 hrs to resign

President Yanukovich has been holding meetings with his advisers as fighting has begun to spread to other Ukrainian cities. Many citizens say the battles are no longer about pro versus anti Russia, but about the legitimacy of the Yanukovich/Azarov government. (President Yanukovich, center left, in the photo below.)

2014 protests Yanukovich cabinet meets

Meanwhile Prime Minister Arazov, an ethnic Russian, is offering the resignation of his government.

2014 protests PM Azarov ready to resign

Citizens are angry over continued corruption and cronyism and have taken to the streets for a second time in a month to battle police and take over government buildings.

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Like most of Europe, there are no second amendment rights here and so it is literally a battle of sophisticated weaponry against citizens wielding bows and arrows and homemade rocket launchers to propel rocks and broken glass.

2014 protests guns vs bow arrows

2014 protests homemade rocket launchers

Citizens are using Molotov cocktails to set government troops on fire and government troops have begun to use Molotov cocktails against citizens.

2014 protests Kyiv battles b

2014 protests molotov cocktails

This latest wave of protests began back on November 21, 2013, when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich suddenly reversed course in signing an Association Agreement with the European Union and chose instead to realign with the Russian Federation, Ukraine’s powerful next door neighbor.

Independent media sources are now warning against going to hospitals as wounded protestors are allegedly “disappearing” shortly after being admitted to emergency rooms.

(fotos: Rain TV)

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The Mendeleyev Journal, named Russia’s “Top Expat Blog” and Coca-Cola will be covering the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

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Yakutia, coldest city on earth

In Yakutia Russia, a city of almost 600,000 mostly Asian Russians, does get warm from time to time, but only in a very short summer. The lowest temperature in modern history was -92 degrees F but take comfort as it only gets that cold once in a while. – 60 F is more common.

A woman passes a board on a building, displaying the local time, temperature, humidity and air pressure in Yakutsk. (photo: Maxim Shemetov, Reuters)
A woman passes a board on a building, displaying the local time, temperature, humidity and air pressure in Yakutsk. (photo: Maxim Shemetov, Reuters)

People live there because it is their ancestral home, but also the region is rich, very rich, with large reserves of oil, gas, coal, diamonds, gold, and silver.

Yakutia is located in the Sakha Republic, a state of the Russian Federation. It is very natural and mostly wilderness as the size of this one state would cover more than half of the USA. Total population is just over a million. No kidding, reindeer are a common form of transportation. Dog sledding is very common outside the city. Many of these folk are related via DNA to American Indians, including some common customs of American Indians.

Epiphany: 19 January in Russia

The Russian term is Крещенские, and on this date Eastern Christians commemorate the baptism of Christ in the Jordan River, reenacting that event with a plunge into the ice.

Temperatures in Moscow dropped on Epiphany Eve to minus 20 degrees Celsius. The Epiphany is celebrated on this date in the Eastern world and that includes dunking yourself in ice water. Our baptist friends would be surprised to learn that we Eastern Orthodox Catholic Christians really do “follow the Lord in baptism” in a very literal way.

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At the beginning of the commemoration priests pray and perform the great blessing of water so that participants can take the plunge. Epiphany Water is believed to acquire miraculous healing properties.

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Special square holes are cut out in frozen ponds, rivers and lakes across Russia with 383 Orthodox churches and monasteries in Moscow alone offering the rites according to Voice of Russia radio. Local fire departments cut holes in the ice and bring engines with generators for light as churches begin the process early, as around 3 or 4 am and it will go on and on into the afternoon in large population centers.

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The Voice of Russia news service reported that over 6,000 policemen, interior force servicemen, and members of voluntary public order units were involved in maintaining public safety during the observance.

RIA Novosti news reported that bathers in Yakutia, in Russia’s Far East, had to perform the traditional triple plunge in exceptionally chilly temperatures of – 45 C (-49 F).

Russia Alright News

Yes, we’re a little late with this report but being late is fashionable to some in Russia so we see no need to apologize further and instead will bungle forward in the hope that you’re not paying that much attention today. The young group of up and coming journalists of humour have compiled their end of the year (2013) report of Russian news: