Archive for the ‘Survivor’s Guide’ Category

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A move to visible counter-terrorist policing – Odessa

December 31, 2014

Over the past week several entries relating to counter-terrorism have appear here.  One somewhat academic (but hopefully interesting), another somewhat more pragmatic.  Needless to say there are other older entries stretching back many, many months to when it became clear that it was inevitable matters would slide into ad hoc terrorist activity across Ukraine, far beyond the conflict zone in the east.

Anyway, after 5 bombings within the last month in Odessa, Ivan Katerinchuk, Odessa Chief of Police, has decided to take what has appeared to be reasonably successful counter-terrorism activity – judging by the number of arrests and weapons/munitions seizures since the summer months on an almost weekly basis – into a far more overt phase.

As such, there will be far more police and military vehicles, various specialist gadgetry, and uniformed personnel from both, wandering around Odessa with AKs slung over their shoulders than is normally the case.

The public are informed that there is going to be an increase in stop and search and their understanding for this is sought.

Indeed the assistance of the local population is requested – particularly from landlords, hoteliers, and rental agencies regarding suspicious characters.  Business owners, restaurateurs and shopping mall staff are asked to report suspicious objects at their place of work or in crowded places.

There are 2 hot line telephone numbers to Odessa police specifically for the purposes of counter-terrorism 24/7:  7794061 and 7794509 (Operations HQ).

Political parties, unions, and civil society actors are asked, politely, to refrain from organising, protests, pickets and rallies for the time being, as they drain police resources.  An issue that for the next 10 – 12 days is hardly likely to raise its head significantly due to New Year and the Christmas holidays anyway.  Certainly an issue, however, going beyond then – fundamental democratic freedoms and all that.  In no way should the most fundamental of freedoms be endlessly sacrificed at the alter of security, for in doing so, each and every time, a minor success is gained from those who would use terrorism as a tactic.

The next major test of security and public attitude is of course tomorrow, New Year’s Eve, and the usual free events put on by City Hall in the city centre, packed nightclubs, bars and restaurants etc., etc.  Let’s hope we can enter New Year without any such incident – but not be surprised if we do.

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There may be trouble – or “The Troubles” – ahead

December 11, 2014

In an entry back in early August, when the Ukrainian military had seemingly stopped its rot and began to retake Ukrainian territory, the following paragraphs appeared forewarning of a Northern Ireland “Troubles” scenario looking to the months and years ahead in Ukraine:

“…….“Events” not designed to lite “Novorussia” fires in other Oblasts, but “events” designed to show Kyiv that it cannot guarantee the normalcy of civilised life anywhere on its territory should The Kremlin choose otherwise.

Again to be blunt, there is so much unaccounted weaponry now in Ukraine that it can be buried or Quarter-Mastered for use by those who can take “event” led ad hoc incidents forward across the entire nation for a decade or more. Thus any declarations of “victory” will very probably be within very limited military parameters if and when they come.

Targets aplenty, weaponry no issue, willing “tourists” and the disillusioned undoubtedly to volunteer in the commissioning of “events” in the years ahead. A move toward (plausibly deniable) old school terrorist activity is hardly a leap too great to contemplate tactically – though whether such a tactic would have a controlling effect over the destiny of Ukraine, perhaps depends on the frequency and scale of any heinous acts that may come.”

For those remotely interested,”The Troubles” were not something spared Soviet attention or propaganda back in the day, directed at the UK, naturally.

Anyway, we are now some months on from that entry, so the question is duly raised as to the accuracy of its predictions regarding incidents outside of the current conflict zone.

Thus far the majority of successfully completed terrorist incidents have occurred in Kharkiv and Odessa.  No surprise perhaps, that predominantly Russian speaking but generally pro-Ukrainian cities be the epicentres of such action for those motivated to carry out such terrorist acts.

It has to be said that the targeting in Odessa has been fairly consistent, running along two themes – with an anomaly of a September explosion damaging rail track.  The first, Privat Bank premises, undoubtedly due to Kolomoyski’s ownership of the bank, and the “patriotic” establishments/ventures.

There have been several minor explosions at various Privat Bank premises over the past months, and most recently, indeed within the past couple of weeks, a small bomb partially destroyed the “Patriot” store at 4 Malaya Arnautskaya – a store that as the name suggests sells much “Blue and Yellow” – and today in the early hours of this morning, an explosion occurred at new office centre on Admiralskogo Prospect and Krasnova – an office used by those collecting, collating and distributing donated supplies by the people of Odessa for the soldiers fighting in eastern Ukraine.

The explosion this morning damaging a shipment of sanitary and medical supplies for the 28th Mechanised Brigade, the 14th Territorial Defence Battalion and the Luhansk 1 Volunteer Battalion.

CCTV footage would seem to suggest a female leaving the package outside the office door.

Fortunately – or perhaps deliberately – all explosions in Odessa have occurred during the silent hours and seem to have been intent upon causing societal upset via property damage rather than physical harm.

In Kharkiv, in the past month, at least 5 bombs have been successfully detonated, the most widely reported being the incident of 10th November causing injuries – a significant departure from incidents thus far in Odessa.

It is perhaps only a matter of time however, before Odessa begins to see injuries too, be it by design or default.

So, spectacular failures by the SBU?  Maybe, depending upon the circumstances surrounding each successful act and any accompanying preventative intelligence failures – but hardly a fortnight passes in Odessa without the press reporting on the SBU detaining small numbers of those with guns and/or explosives with alleged intent to agitate the locals via acts of terrorism – and there is no such thing as 100% security.  Those who would claim otherwise have never worked in national security.

Thus, as matters in the east currently rumble on with slightly less intensity than previously, should there be an expectation that such “isolated incidents” will become more frequent, and therefore something falling far short of what many would call “isolated incidents”?

So far, nothing has changed that would mitigate the paragraphs quoted above from the early August entry – thus it seems certain to continue, as predicted for months and probably years to come.  There may be “trouble” ahead, the question is whether it will manifest itself in methods and duration of “The Troubles”.

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The biggest divorce petition/partition since August 1961?

September 12, 2014

On 13th August 1961, the Berlin Wall commenced construction – officially known as the “Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart”.  The declared aim to prevent West Berlin interfering with, and infecting/subverting the creation of a socialist state “against the will of the people”.

It was a physical manifestation of divorced ideologies on the European continent.

On 10th September 2014, President Poroshenko ordered the commencement of “The Wall” on the Ukrainian – Russian border.

Whilst it may have no official name other than “The Wall” – yet – this construction is being created to defend against a corrupt regime and aggressive ideology emanating from The Kremlin, attempting to force its influence “against the will of the people” – or at the very least, the vast majority of the Ukrainian people, by keeping Ukraine under the control of The Kremlin.

1,500 kilometers (932 miles) of trenches and communications.  8,000 vehicle trenches.  4,000 dugouts.  60 kilometers (37 miles) of blast proof fencing/walls.  Eventually, infra-red, motion sensors and all that other high-tech perimeter monitoring equipment will follow.  A defence contractors dream.  That is not withstanding sea/anti-landing defences that are planned.

Whether Ukraine will be able to accomplish this along its entire border with Russia, or whether a section of it will not be returned by those fighting against Kyiv remains to be seen.  If not, there will be ramparts around the areas retained by those forces?  Yet more dirt poor and Kremlin reliant regions, as all Kremlin inspired frozen conflicts have resulted in?

Regardless, a major civil engineering undertaking – not by way of complexity, but size – particularly in the circumstances.  When the loud beat of war drums dulls to a distant rumble, political frustration, economic manipulation, subterfuge and coercion will take the ascendancy just as directly – both symmetrically and asymmetrically.  Though the Kremlin has lost Ukraine, its goal is now to prevent Ukraine moving on as many a jealous and jilted lover has tried to do.

Thus a very definite petition/partition of divorce appears upon the Ukrainian border.  A physical manifestation of a Decree Nisi, whilst legislative measures are taken to produce the Decree Absolute regarding various treaties and the divorce settlement.

As with Berlin, will it be 28 years before any completed wall is removed (if it’s completed)?  How long before Ukraine will trust Russia again?  Those who would state longer that 28 years will probably be right.  The scars upon the Ukrainian landscape that will be caused by the feat of civil engineering are little more than a scratch compared to the deep scar damage caused by Kremlin actions in Ukraine these past months.

Forgiveness is at least a generation away.  To forget – much longer.

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An appeal (and breaking the rules of the blog)

September 3, 2014

This blog historically shuns advertising.  Rarely does it promulgate public service announcements.  Only occasionally has it promoted NGOs.

It frequently received queries regarding the legitimacy of charities from would-be donors – and makes an effort at confirming or denying their existence within the legal frameworks of Ukraine.

However, this entry is an exception – because the lady in contact is well known to the author for many years and thus there is no question as to her existence, legitimacy, nor motivation.

Dear Nikolai,

I hope you are doing fine and I hope you remember me.

I never would write such letter to you but now I need to do it. I ask for help all people whom I know personally.

I believe you know the situation in Ukraine, it is really terrible.

I am looking for people and organizations that would like to help war refugees from the Eastern Ukraine who are at the moment left to their own fate in the Kiev region. The majority of them are mothers with little children and elderly people, they are homeless, many of them are sick and even without identity documents. I am responsible for help coordination and I do all I can to collect the funds to organize help to this war victims.

This people urgently need medications and food, especially the children, the help coming from the volunteers already is not enough due to the great number of people affected by the military conflict.

If you would like and if you are able to help, please write me back. Even little help will be highly appreciated!

You know, I am 50 years old but never in my life I could imagine this war in my country….
Please see some pictures of my wards – children and refugees in the attachment to this letter.

Thank you very much in advance and looking forward to hear from you soon,

Larisa

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Any reader who may feel so inclined, do contact Dr. Larissa Varenikova to coordinate any assistance you may want to give.  Her email address is  larisa.varenikova@yahoo.com –  or via her LinkedIn profile.

Do feel free to “retweet” or “share” as appropriate.

Thank you.

(Please note this is an exception to the rule and is published due to the fact I know those that appeal on behalf of others personally – and these are exceptional times, so exceptions can be made.  Other unsolicited requests may very well fall foul of the general rule.)

 

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Holocaust Memorial Service – Odessa 27 January

January 27, 2013

Taking a break from current issues, and returning to some haunting issues of the past, today is the official Holocaust Memorial Day in Odessa, with wreath laying and accompanying ceremony taking place at 11am at the Holocaust Memorial situated in Prokhorovskiy Square.

jew memorial

For those who may find it interesting, the monument is situated in a place that was known as the “Road to Death” during WWII/Great Patriotic War – for it was the departure point for many from Odessa who would soon find themselves in concentration camps.

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Вера, Надежда, Любовь

January 14, 2013

As yesterday was yet another celebration in Ukraine – Old New Year – today there is nothing of note written by me – naturally!

I will draw your attention to an Odessa based NGO that has got my attention though – for the right reasons.  “Вера, Надежда, Любовь” – Let’s see what I can do for them this year – if anything – I am meeting with them soon!

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UN Convention on Reduction of Statelessness – Ukraine

January 13, 2013

Well amongst the issues that passed favourably through the RADA this week (including this one which I mentioned not long ago) – Ukraine voted to accede to the UN Convention on Reduction of Statelessness (Circa 1961) – better late than never.

The RADA also voted in favour of accession to the Convention relating to the ability for stateless persons to work (and be taxed), as well as laws against discrimination of matters relating to citizenship.

So why now?  A victory for human rights and a gesture of goodwill by Ukraine towards human rights?

Naturally not.  Well not entirely.

Serghiy Chernykh, First Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Interior was quick to make clear that the Convention is a key international instrument and acceding to it will release funds for the prevention of statelessness.  At present, the number of people this affects is approximately 46,615 people within Ukraine according to the latest UNHCR figures (2012).

Being cynical, I will assume that the funds released by this accession are far greater than the administrative costs of knocking up a Ukrainian passport or permanent residency card and a Tax ID, plus any citizen entitlement legacy on Ukraine thereafter by way of support.

It will be interesting to see if the UNHCR figures begin to show a drop in stateless persons within Ukraine over the next few years (discounting a sudden influx of stateless people to distort matters) given that funding (and not principle or ideology) to help address this issue seems to have been the driver behind this human rights leap by Ukraine.

How I wish I could believe that this was done for all the right reasons and that the stateless in Ukraine will benefit –  rather than a way to get external funds into Ukraine by hook or by crook!

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