Ukraine Russia Republic of Luhansk

A Trip to the Pro-Russian Pseudo-State of Luhansk

The war is essentially over in eastern Ukraine, but peace hasn’t yet begun. A visit to the self-proclaimed mini-state known as the People’s Republic of Luhansk shows that the road back to normality is long and full of obstacles.


https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/ukraine-the-pro-russian-pseudo-state-of-luhansk-a-1291870.html

Alexey Karyakin, born in 1980, is one of the fathers of the People’s Republic and was the first president of its parliament — though there are no political parties in parliament, with all of them having been banned. There are only “movements.” One of them is called “Freedom for Luhansk” and the other is the “Economic Union.”

The fact that Karyakin is still alive is anything but a given. The People’s Republic has been run with mafia methods. One Luhansk “prime minister” was apparently tortured to death in prison while several military leaders have died in arson attacks. Karyakin also had to flee Luhansk for a time.

The situation has calmed significantly since a 2017 coup. Plus, what happens in Luhansk is ultimately decided by curators in the Kremlin anyway. Karyakin is now head of the “Public Chamber of the People’s Republic of Luhansk,” a largely ceremonial position. A portrait of Vladimir Putin hangs on the wall above his desk.

The younger ones move away from Luhansk, some to Russia and others to Ukraine. “In 2014, we fell out with many friends,” says one married couple who didn’t share the pro-Russia enthusiasm many felt at the time. “The euphoria has since vanished, which makes things easier for us. But now, everybody avoids politics altogether. Essentially, we are waiting, but we don’t know what for.”

They say they would long since have left if it wasn’t so difficult to sell their apartment in Luhansk. At the same time, it hurts them that many in Ukraine see them as traitors just because they’ve stayed.

Crimean Tatar Activists

Russian FSB Detains Crimean Tatar Activists After Searching Their Homes

https://www.rferl.org/a/russian-fsb-detains-crimean-tatar-activists-after-searching-their-homes/29991403.html/

Russian security forces have detained eight Crimean Tatar activists

Rights groups and Western governments have denounced what they describe as a campaign of repression by the Russian-imposed authorities in Crimea who are targeting members of the Turkic-speaking Crimean Tatar community and others who have spoken out against Moscow’s takeover of the peninsula.

Orban’s Russian connection

Russia Decriminalize Domestic Violence

Russia: Bill to Decriminalize Domestic Violence

https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/01/23/russia-bill-decriminalize-domestic-violence#

Update: On February 7, 2017, President Putin signed the bill into law.

The amendments would decriminalize a first offense of family violencethat does not cause serious harm requiring hospital treatment. Only violence that leads to serious injuries like broken bones or a concussion would remain criminalized. The law would apply to violence against any family member, including women and children. Abusers, if found guilty, would face a minimal fine, up to 15 days’ administrative arrest, or compulsory community service.

Russia criminal background

Gangster’s paradise: how organised crime took over Russia

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/23/how-organised-crime-took-over-russia-vory-super-mafia

A number of commentators have dubbed Russia a “mafia state”. It is certainly a catchy epithet, but what does it actually mean?

The Kremlin does not control organised crime in Russia, nor is it controlled by it. Rather, organised crime prospers under Putin, because it can go with the grain of his system.

There is a very high level of corruption in Russia, which provides a conducive environment for organised crime. It is not just professional criminals who are exploiting the opportunities provided by Russia’s cannibalistic capitalism – state agents, too, are exploiting their own criminal opportunities in an increasingly organised way. In 2016, the police raided the apartment of Col Dmitry Zakharchenko, the acting head of a department within the police force’s anti-corruption division. There they found $123m (£87m) in cash

The connection between the elite and the gangsters usually revolves around mutually profitable relationships – but these relationships can also fall apart in spectacular ways.

The modern Russian state is a much stronger force than it was in the 1990s, and jealous of its political authority. The gangs that prosper in modern Russia tend to do so by working with rather than against the state. In other words: do well by the Kremlin, and the Kremlin will turn a blind eye. If not, you will be reminded that the state is the biggest gang in town.

Just as the Russian language has become colonised by many borrowings from criminal slang, so too have regular Russian business practices become suffused with underworld habits and methods. Corporate espionage, bribery, and the use of political influence to swing contracts and stymie rivals remain commonplace, and continue to connect the worlds of crime and business. Likewise, the new generation of crime bosses are more likely than ever also to be active within the realms of legitimate and “grey” business.

The increasing sophistication of criminal operations, especially their shift towards white-collar crime, has created a need for financial specialists, to manage their own funds and also their economic crimes.

A vor I once spoke to bitterly complained that “we have been infected by the rest of you and we are dying”, but the infection has passed both ways. Many of the organising and operating principles of modern Russia follow the lead of the underworld. Maybe it is not that the vory have disappeared so much as that everyone is now a vor, and that the vorovskoi mir – the world of the thieves – ultimately won.

Kosovo

Welcome To The Country With The Biggest Crush On America

February 24, 20183:51 PM ET   

The EU told Serbia it can join by 2025 — but only if it carries out reforms and works out its differences with Kosovo. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said he supports Serbia’s candidacy only if it recognizes Kosovo and deals with “nonfunctional” northern Kosovo.

Kosovo’s current leaders — Thaci and Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj — are throwbacks to the 1990s, both former Kosovo Liberation Army officers who fought the Serbian Army. Serbia wants to extradite Haradinaj to be tried for war crimes. Thaci has been accused of involvement in an organ-trafficking ring. (He denies the allegations.) Their supporters recently angered the United States and the EU by trying to scrap a special court to try former KLA fighters for wartime and postwar crimes.

Unemployment hovers between 30-35 percent, rising to nearly 60 percent among young people. More than half of Kosovo’s population is under age 25.

Some are lured by crime and even terrorism. At least 315 Kosovars joined the Islamic State in recent years.

 

Crimean Tatars

HRW calls Russia an “occupying power” in Crimea, denounces persecution of Tatars

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/09/05/what-shapes-political-activism-for-crimean-tatars-the-familys-experience-under-soviet-rule-is-a-huge-factor/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/29/crimean-tatar-leader-ilmi-umerov-convicted-not-seek-clemency-russia

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/nikolas-kozloff/more-than-a-year-after-annexation-crimean-tatars-need-allies_b_7235772.html

https://www.eki.ee/books/redbook/crimean_tatars.shtml

 

 

Syria’s Refugee Crisis Is About To Get Worse As People Flee Russia’s Bombing

ISTANBUL — Aid workers are propping up tents, preparing provisions and deploying medical staff as they brace for a new wave of displaced Syrians escaping renewed fighting in and around the country’s commercial hub, Aleppo.
Plumes of smoke rise from purported Russian airstrikes hitting rebel positions south of Aleppo. youtube.com / Via YouTube

The contested city is the focus of an intense military campaign. Russian warplanes… more