In Ukrainian media, an uncivil war of words
Local media increasingly use the word “terrorist” to describe Eastern rebels
KIEV—It’s too early to call the Ukrainian conflict a civil war, but fierce verbal fighting has already started between newsrooms all over the country. Amid newfound post-revolutionary freedoms, local journalists are struggling to find a balance between being “patriotic” and unbiased.
Should the Ukrainian government revoke visas of all foreign journalists refusing to use the word ‘terrorist’ in their Eastern Ukraine coverage? That’s the view of a group of 10 local journalists, including a couple of high-profile names, like Natalka Zubar, editor in chief of the “Maidan” website and a well-known civil rights campaigner, who made the request of officials in a recent public letter, published on Facebook and Maidanua.org. It generally reflects a larger and contentious debate journalists and their audience are now having on a daily basis now in Ukraine.
Poroshenko: Separatists Tried to Kidnap Me
BILD: Mr. Poroshenko, German hostages are in captivity of pro Russia fighters in Slovyansk. How dangerous the situation is?
Poroshenko: It is a highly dangerous situation for the hostages! The self-proclaimed mayor of Slovyansk is a terrorist. He has tortured Ukrainian people and killed local politicians. He is completely hysterical and is ready to use his weapons against foreigners.
BILD: Who will stop this man?
Poroshenko: The whole world can now see that there are terrorists in Slovyansk! This man can arrest independent OSCE observers and present them as “prisoners of war”,in order to put pressure for his own hostages. They are financed and supported by Russia. Only Russia can immediately stop these terrorists. If Russians are not prepared to do so, we must respond with the language those people can understand. This is not the language of diplomacy but the use of the Ukrainian army. We do not want any massacre here. We should try to change the city, having logistics as a priority. But it is also clear: If the terrorists do not give up, we have to storm buildings.
BILD: How precarious is the situation in eastern Ukraine?
Poroshenko: Many people are angry but not as many as Russia claims. Last week I was in Luhansk and separatists tried to kidnap me. We had been aware beforehand in order to prevent it. There are also there only a few hundred that want chaos and fight for the Russian cause. Overall, polls show that the majority of people want to belong to Ukraine. But in some cities they are so suppressed that they can no longer feel safe on the street.
BILD: Prime Minister Yatsenyuk has warned of a third world war. Do you also see this risk?
Poroshenko: Yes, the threat of a third world war is present and Ukraine has to work hard with its partners to prevent a war. If I were to become president, our country will push a new military alliance with the USA and Europe.
BILD: How will this alliance look like?
Poroshenko : The United Nations is completely blocked by Russia. No matter what happens in Ukraine, the Russians will paralyse the UN with their veto.We need new alliances to stop the aggression. We do not seek to provoke Russia. But look back: before the fall of the Berlin wall, a war was prevented by deterrence through nuclear threat. If we have the support of the USA and other countries in the occasion of an invasion from Russia in order to protect the Ukraine, then Russia will not dare to cross that line.
BILD: Why should other countries make this alliance with you?
Poroshenko: It is no longer only about Ukraine but about the security of many countries. I cannot understand why no tougher sanctions have been decided yet. How is it possible, for example, that Russian banks are still able to operate the way they want? These banks are financing terror here. These banks are the final account support for the terrorists who took German hostages. Germany should understand this. I refuse to believe that Germany due to fear for rising energy prices avoids tougher sanctions. It is also about German security.
BILD: What are Putin’s plans on Ukraine?
Poroshenko: I believe that Putin has not made a final decision yet. It is clear that he wants to destabilize Ukraine. He needs a weak Ukrainian government to expand Russia’s influence on the whole country and to be able to make his dream of a second Soviet Union come true.
BILD: Can the presidential election take place despite the unrest in the east on May 25?
Poroshenko: Legally this is possible and I think we definitely need these elections . If individual cities like Slovyansk remain occupied, the possibility must be given to Ukrainian people to go and be able to vote in other cities. The situation is difficult: canceled elections would be a disaster for Ukraine because we all stood on the Maidan to defend democracy.
BILD: Crimea is lost while in eastern Ukraine it is more and more threatening. Does the revolution on Maidan has destroyed your country?
Poroshenko: If we had not gone that road, more blood would be shed. Yanukovych would shoot and imprison opponents, those who stand for freedom. Without our protests Ukraine would be a member of the Customs Union and lost for Europe forever. I do not believe that Crimea is lost and I do not think that eastern Ukraine really wants to be annexed by Russia. We now need to make wise decisions in order to defend our country against the aggression.
This interview was published in German by BILD on 28 April 2014
Ukraine civil rights revolution: no gays allowed
They fought, risked their lives and died in the name of revolution. But now many gays in Ukraine struggle with disappointment, and the word “sellout” is the most popular word among them. Ukraine is in the middle of the biggest civil rights uprising in modern history of Eastern Europe, but the new revolutionary government is actively fighting against civil rights for LGBT citizens. Now, even the EU might be reluctant to fight for them
Kyiv is getting back to normal very quickly. Downtown streets that just one month ago looked like war battlefields with blood and dead bodies, are now full of busy crowds and tourists. I’m heading to one such place, popular among local teens and hipsters, to meet Olena Shevchenko, an LGBT activist turned revolutionary paramilitary. I heard a lot of stories about her, how an openly gay girl managed to form a women-only military unit on Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Ukrainian). Some call them “Maidan amazons”, so I would expect to see a woman of solid constitution in paramilitary clothes and what I actually see is a regular girl of low stature wearing jeans with a nice sweater. Only her firm handshake gives me the vibe that I’ve met the right person.
Olena joined the revolution from the very first days, but the idea to form a women-only “sotnya” (a Cossack term for a group of one hundred fighters) came a bit later. It was a response to rising sexism inside the barricaded Independence Square, she says. Back then at least half of the protesters were women; they were helping to build barricades, breaking the pavement for bricks to fight and doing a lot of hard physical work. ‘And then we hear opposition leaders and local media calling for women to go to revolutionary kitchens to prepare sandwiches for fighting men, to support men, to love men, to hug men, to give them an inspiration to go to the barricades and other gibberish. The man was shown as an active person that does something, and the woman as some kind of unimportant maid. We said “enough”’, Olena tells me with a defiant smile.
Who’s gonna run South/East Ukraine in case of Russia’s annexation? Guys like this one @ has met in Odessa
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