What happened to the Polish people under Russian Occupation?

“History is written by the victors” is a well known and often accurate statement, however, for me it was never truer than when examining Russia’s role in World War II (WWII). With VE day (Victory in Europe) having now just passed, it was notable that many people highlighted the important role Russia played in bringing about freedom in Europe by helping to defeat Nazi tyranny. Whilst there is absolutely no doubt that Russia played a huge role in defeating Nazism, …

Read more…

This weekend we should also remember Russia and their role in the liberation of Europe from the Nazis…

If like me you grew up watching Holywood War Movies you assume the Second World War was won by the plucky brits and their good looking yank buddies – The Russian role in the affair was conveniently airbrushed out of the story. But looking at the stats you soon realise that Russia was the most crucial player in the fight against the Nazis. The Red Army suffered 8,806,453 causalities in WW2 this compares to 407,300 Military deaths for the USA …

Read more…

You have to admire the Russians. They are the ultimate internet trolls…

Seems Theresa May is getting annoyed at Russian meddling in Western politics. From the BBC: Senior Russian politicians have dismissed accusations by Theresa May that Moscow has meddled in elections and carried out cyber-espionage. On Monday night, Mrs May accused Moscow of “planting fake stories” to “sow discord in the West”. She said Vladimir Putin’s government was trying to “undermine free societies”. The Russians hit back with: #UK Prime Minister @theresa_may on @Russia: “We know what you are doing”. We …

Read more…

Russia’s increasing influence

A regular attack launched at Donald Trump in the recent US Presidential election campaign was his worryingly warm attitude to Vladimir Putin’s Russia, more serious was accusations of Russian hacking and complicity in various scandals through the campaign. At the beginning of this year, it was reported that American intelligence agencies were conducting an investigation into how the Kremlin is influencing politics across Europe.  There are major fears in US intelligence that the Russians are determined to exploit European disunity …

Read more…

Sinn Fein abstain on ‘funding from Russia’ motion in the European Parliament…

Interesting piece in passing. 70.8% of MEPs voted in favour of a resolution calling for a ban on funding of political parties in the EU by non-EU “political or economic stakeholders”. Sinn Fein’s group (many of them former communists) was against the motion. All four of Sinn Fein’s MEP’s abstained, and are marked as GUE-NGL rebels by Vote Watch. The BBC reports… Much of the text lambasted the Russian government for its crackdown on political opponents, gay activists and civil society …

Read more…

Ukraine Crisis: the folly of false historical analogies

The ceasefire in Ukraine seems to be sort of holding. No one, however, seems terribly optimistic that peace is going to come. Certainly there is no sign of the displaced refugees returning home. The conflict has repeatedly been portrayed as a binary good vs. bad situation analogous to the most simplistic of cowboy films by the West with the only dissent tending to be from the usual suspects (such as John Pilger here – that said good to see the …

Read more…

Ukrainian crisis: it hasn’t gone away

The conflict in Gaza seems to have largely pushed that in Ukraine off international consciousness. The Guardian, however, reports that the Ukrainian government have been making steady gains against the pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country. The west has become somewhat quieter about the downing of the Malaysian airliner MH 17 over the last couple of weeks and the Americans seem to have accepted that it was a mistake. The internet is still awash with conspiracy theories about …

Read more…

The downing of MH 17 shifts spotlight back to Ukraine

The downing of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 over Ukraine has been one of the major events of last week. Most of the fingers of blame have been pointed at the pro-Russian separatists who have previously shot down Ukrainian military aircraft with sophisticated Russian surface to air missiles (though both sides have access to such weaponry). The photographs are quite harrowing – personally I find the ones of toys and books etc. to keep children happy during the flight the most …

Read more…

D Day and Europe’s Long Peace

Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of D Day. I am always humbled to hear the stories of those men who went ashore that day. They speak of the horror, not of any glory of war, but what that generation was forced to achieve and did so was truly heroic. The first big commemoration I remember was the 40th when I remember the BBC announcer being corrected that all were in their 60s now (some were 58 or 59). Now all …

Read more…

Eurovision 2014: “I felt like tonight Europe showed that we are a community of respect and tolerance…”

Well, perhaps…  A bearded Austrian man in a dress, Conchita Wurst, won the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 in Copenhagen on Saturday night with “Rise Like a Phoenix” – the title quote was his line from the winner’s press conference.  The 25-year-old singer also told reporters in Vienna On the theme of tolerance, Wurst told reporters in the Austrian capital: “This will remain an issue for a long time and I fear I won’t see the end of it in my lifetime. It …

Read more…

Ukraine: impotent activism and the limits of US power

Tomorrow will bring the referendum on Crimea leaving Ukraine and joining Russia. Most people are aware of the sequence of events: the Ukrainian president turning down a deal with the EU in favour of one with Russia; mass protests in Kiev leading to the fall of the government; the new government being unacceptable in Crimea and then the entry of the Russian army. This sequence of events can be argued over at great length with arguments for and against each …

Read more…

Russian special forces caught red handed on camera

Russia continues to deny that it has armed forces in Crimea, but it was only a matter of time before someone slipped up. Not only do the mysterious “self-defence forces” use Russian guns, uniforms and vehicles (complete with Russian military number plates) but at least one of them has forgotten to take all the identifying labels off his army uniform (Russian language original), leading to a social media profile naming his special forces unit. Of course Putin doesn’t expect us …

Read more…

Sochi Olympic success

Heh. Some wonderfully humorous choreography in evidence at the Sochi 2014: Winter Olympics closing ceremony.  It made me laugh out loud.  They wouldn’t have had long to arrange it… [Photograph: Barbara Walton/EPA] As the Guardian live-blog adds, For anyone who slept through the opening ceremony, here’s a reminder of the failed snowflake-ring, and its tongue-in-cheek recreation this evening. Performers sing as the Olympic rings are presented during the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics. Photograph: Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images Performers …

Read more…

Azerbaijan Presidential Inquiry over Eurovision Vote

Denmark may have won this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, due to last year’s winner, held in Malmö, Sweden, but Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev is reported to have ordered an inquiry into why his country, apparently, failed to provide any points to their neighbour, Russia.  Russia gave maximum points, 12, to the Azerbaijan entry.  From the BBC report Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Russia, Polad Bulbuloglu, disclosed that President Aliyev had ordered an investigation and votes were being recounted. He said that a …

Read more…

Cyprus: So what happens next?

The Guardian’s still live-blogging, for now, in the aftermath of Cyprus’ parliament’s rejection of an, albeit amended, EU/IMF cunning plan bail-out which included the public seizure levying of €5.8billion from private depositors in Cypriot banks – 36 votes against, 19 abstentions, none in favour.  The paper’s economics editor, Larry Elliot, answers the title question …there are really only two plausible scenarios: somebody – be it Europe or the IMF – gives Cyprus more money, in which case there is a chance that the crisis …

Read more…

“President Vladimir Putin said he thanked God no big fragments had fallen in populated areas.”

As I mentioned previously, asteroid 2012 DA14 is due to make its close encounter with Earth later this evening.  Meanwhile, earlier today several hundred people in the Chelyabinsk region of Russia were injured during a visitation by the god Ogdy by debris caused by the unexpected appearance of a relatively large meteor.  It’s reported that a crater 6m (20ft) wide has been found on the shore of a lake 1km outside Chebarkul, a town in the region – created by a fragment of the meteor.  …

Read more…

Speech from the dock

   The speech from the dock has a legendary place in Irish history. In Russia during the Soviet period it occupied an equally prominent but quite different place as part of the terror apparatus to cow opposition with blatantly false charges and confessions. Truth was of no importance. In the show trials of the late 1930s public humiliation of the loyal and previously eminent like Bukharin was designed to keep Stalin’s paranoia within bounds.   Putin’s Russia has yet to account …

Read more…