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Video: ‘Death to the enemies!’: Ultra-nationalist Azov battalion stages torch-lit march in Kharkov, Ukraine
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- extrajudicial confiscation of private property;
- mandates state control over mass media;
- prohibits anti-regime protests, demonstrations, rallies, marches or other public gatherings;
- bans opposition parties and media "acting against Ukraine's independence;" and
- requires forced labor for all working-aged Ukrainians not currently performing military service.
Nearly 7,000 civilians have lost their lives in the year-long war in eastern Ukraine between government troops and pro-Russian forces, Ukraine's president says.
More than 1,000 people also remained unaccounted for and 1,657 Ukrainian troops died in combat, added Petro Poroshenko in an address before the parliament on Friday.
President Poroshenko's figures mark a sharp upward revision compared to the latest estimate provided by the United Nation, which had suggested a tally of about 6,100 dead people.
The peace deal remained the only solution in place for bringing back stability to eastern Ukraine, Poroshenko noted.
“This has enabled some degree of de-escalation in the conflict,” he added. “Every day in which nobody dies is like a feast day for me.”
In the latest development, however, Ukrainian military spokesperson Andriy Lysenko said on Friday that two servicemen had been killed and 26 others injured on Thursday.
Ukraine’s warring sides reached a truce deal, though a shaky one, dubbed Minsk II, at a summit attended by the leaders of Russia, France, and Germany in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk on February 11 and 12. The agreement introduced measures such as a ceasefire, which commenced on February 15, the pullout of heavy weapons, and constitutional reform in Ukraine by the end of the year.
The peace deal has dampened much of the fighting in Ukraine's volatile provinces but failed to halt regular violence at key hotspots.
Donetsk and Luhansk, the two mainly Russian-speaking regions, have witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Moscow forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations in April 2014 to crush pro-Russians there.
- Nicholai Sergienko: former deputy "Ukrzaliznytsia" head;
- Nikolai Kolesnik: former Kharkov (Ukraine's second largest city) regional council head;
- Sergey Valter: former Melitopol mayor;
- Sergey Bordyuga: Melitopol deputy chief of police; and
- Stanislav Melnik: former MP.
Crimes against Humanity: Ukraine President Poroshenko Keeps his Word: “We’ve Bombed the Schools”, Donbass...
While reports indicate that pro-Western intelligentsia and activists are leaving their country in droves, the situation in Ukraine today cannot be properly understood without fully appreciating the role of quasi-fascist paramilitaries and their private-sector backers, who now exert tremendous influence on the leadership in Kiev and the political climate in Ukraine more generally.
Though the crisis in Ukraine remains a domestic conflict between the majority of citizens in the west who favor ties with Brussels and those in east who seek autonomy, independence or ascension into the Russian Federation, the growing internationalization of the conflict risks an irreversible escalation.
The recent Nato exercises in the Estonian frontier town of Narva that saw a parade of military hardware laden with American flags some 300 yards from Russia’s border, prompting counter-exercises from Moscow, is indicative of the increasingly provocative measures being taken. As the neo-conservative faction in Washington essentially steers the Obama administration’s policy, the idea of a Cold War-style stand-off between Russia and Nato grows ever more plausible.
Crimes against Humanity in Donbass: Ukraine Government Uses Ballistic Missile against its Own People
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The victims were people of various nationalities from all walks of life, whose untimely demise represents an escalation that will almost certainly lead to a wider internationalization of the civil war in Ukraine, which threatens to further deteriorate relations between Russia and the United States.
Ukraine’s war has polarized ethnic Ukrainians living in agricultural west of the country who favor integration into the European Union’s orbit, and those in the Russian-speaking industrialized southeast of the country who either support greater autonomy from Kiev or a peaceful integration into the Russian Federation following the example of Crimea.
Easterners opposed the toppling of former President Viktor Yanukovich in February, which gave rise to an unelected government in Kiev that remains heavily under the influence of ultra-nationalist rightwing groups known for their pejorative anti-Russian viewpoints.
Once seizing power earlier this year, the authorities in Kiev hastily attempted to pass laws against the official use of the Russian language throughout the country, stoking outrage from eastern Ukrainians that culturally and linguistically identify themselves as Russian.
Citizens of the east protested in mass numbers against the new authorities in Kiev and occupied public buildings, spurred on by the fear of living under an ultra-nationalist dominated government that would stigmatize the country’s ethnic Russian minority. Demonstrators called for greater autonomy for their regions.
Instead of easing fears through dialogue and trust building, Kiev labeled demonstrators as ‘terrorists’ and launched a large-scale military operation against the restive eastern regions to put down popular opposition to the new regime’s usurpation of power. Militias formed in the east to defend the rebel provinces, giving rise to the armed struggle that continues today.
In the course of Kiev’s military operation, the Ukrainian authorities have blockaded and cut electricity supplies to populated cities while shelling and launching rockets into populated residential areas, resulting in at least 250 civilian deaths since June, according to the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission. Half a million Ukrainians have become refugees according to UN estimates.
Enter MH17. It is in such an antagonistic political atmosphere that both sides immediately assigned blame to one another for downing the aircraft. Before any rudimentary investigation could take place, Kiev and their backers in Washington straightaway took to blaming the rebels, and by extension, the Russian government, which they accuse of aiding the separatist fighters.
After the unprecedented disappearance of MH370 four months ago, news of a second downed airliner stung with shock and disbelief. The overwhelming concern of Malaysians remains to ensure the safe return of casualties for a proper burial, rather than accusing any side of culpability.
Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose step-grandmother was among those who perished onboard MH17, has been widely perceived as serving a more direct role in handling the disaster from the onset, as he addressed the nation in the hours following the loss of the aircraft.
While media publications and political figures in western capitals hurled accusatory rhetoric from the onset, it is by virtue of Malaysia’s prudent neutrality that the administration in Putrajaya succeeded in brokering a deal with Ukrainian rebel forces that secured the surrender of MH17’s black boxes.
Najib is said to have personally conducted a series of secret telephone calls with Alexander Borodai, the self-styled Prime Minister of the Donetsk People's Republic, an entity that has declared independence from Ukraine but has not been recognized by any foreign country.
Though a great deal of international pressure was placed on Ukraine’s rebels to provide access to the crash site and surrender the black boxes, sources claim that Borodai would only agree to releasing the bodies and block boxes to Malaysia, whose officials would then transfer the material to the Netherlands.
Putrajaya’s ability to broker a deal with the Ukrainian rebels has indeed yielded noteworthy success for Najib, who has demonstrated decisive leadership in the face of an unmitigated disaster to secure the best possible outcome.
The example set by the Malaysian leadership must be reflected upon in Kiev, which has been reluctant to negotiate with rebels in the east, opting instead for a bloody military campaign that has wrought great human cost and served to push the embattled region further into Moscow’s corner.
As world powers exchange accusations, it is important at this point to acknowledge that until an objective international investigation can be undertaken, any figure attempting to assign responsibility for this heinous crime onto one side or the other without verifiable evidence is only expressing speculation, not facts.
While top representatives in Washington and Kiev accused Russia from the start, they have failed to provide any forensic evidence that can be scrutinized, relying thus far on clips that have appeared on YouTube and social media.
Russian defense officials have responded by releasing military monitoring data and satellite images that disprove the initial claims made by Kiev. Moscow claims that there is evidence to show that a Ukrainian fighter jet tailed the Boeing aircraft prior to its disappearance.
Satellite images also show Kiev deployed several surface-to-air-missile systems near rebel held-territory, and the Russian military claims to have detected radiation from the missile battery’s radar that was active at the time when the plane came down.
Defense officials have also noted that MH17 took a route some 200km to the north of the trajectories that other Malaysian Airlines flights had used in previous days that led it to fly over the troubled Donetsk region, into the heart of rebel-held territory.
BCC has reported that the Ukrainian secret service has taken the unusual move of confiscating the recording between air traffic control and the doomed aircraft. Such information would be needed to establish culpability and identify whether Ukrainian air traffic control directed the aircraft into the zone where it was shot down.
Rebel forces fighting in eastern Ukraine have succeed in shooting down military aircraft in the days preceding the MH17 disaster, though most analysts agree that the rebels would not have the capacity to strike a civilian passenger aircraft traveling at normal cruising altitude using the man-portable air defense systems that they are known to possess.
As of yet, there is no conclusive evidence that has surfaced to prove that rebels possess the kind of surface-to-air missile systems needed to take down a commercial airliner, and there is also nothing to verifiably substantiate the claim that Russia has supplied this technology to rebel fighters or assisted them in operating it.
When an international investigation panel is formed, it must demand that Ukrainian authorities release recordings between air traffic control and the Malaysian plane, in addition to the raw military radar data and tracking information needed to ascertain the movements of Ukrainian warplanes and the activity of any surface-to-air missile systems that the country possesses.
As voices in western capitals condemn Moscow in unison, the fact remains that Russia is the only country that has made available detailed forensic evidence for international investigators to scrutinize. An impartial and independent investigation into the calamity that befell Flight MH17 must be undertaken before any blame is assigned.
Media Blackout: Major Military Operation in East Ukraine. 496 Civilians, 1600 Soldiers Reported Killed
Washington’s War Crimes Spread from Africa and the Middle East to Ukraine Paul Craig Roberts A person might think that revulsion in “the world community” against Washington’s wanton slaughter of civilians in eight countries would have led to War Crimes…
The post Washington’s War Crimes Spread from Africa and the Middle East to Ukraine — Paul Craig Roberts appeared first on PaulCraigRoberts.org.