Independence carries a high cost

Aug 24 2015

To be honest, neither August 24, Ukraine Independence Day, or June 12, Russia Independence Day, carried much importance for me.

They didn’t mean much because they were quite artificial holidays created on the wave of the collapse of the old Soviet Empire and democratic processes of the 1990s. They lacked clear meaning and purpose for many people, as the declaration of independence from the USSR led to many years of chaos and uncertainty in both Ukraine and Russia.

Maidan has filled this holiday with the meaning. The war has filled this holiday with the meaning. Blood and tears have filled this holiday with the meaning.

What is going on in the East of Ukraine is not an anti-terrorist operation (ATO), but the War for Independence. Each step will show if the country will withstand and get rid of simulacra and inertia of the Soviet Union or not.

Maidan and then the war in Eastern Ukraine have changed the world forever, just like the American Revolution and the American revolutionary war did it once. The birth of a young American Union in the 18th century was the beginning of the fall of the colonial world order. The rebirth of a young Ukrainian nation has changed the contemporary world order.

Ukrainian independence is a bone in the Kremlin’s throat usurping the power on the post-Soviet space. But it’s not only that. The Ukrainian crisis has destroyed the international status quo, the world order where the Kremlin used to be a power pole and a “handshakable” member of G8 while putting pressure on any dissenter since gas and oil would regularly go along pipes to Germany and other European countries. It is not going to continue like that.

What Ukrainian people have been able to do will save all of us as a result. But Ukraine should overcome all hardships first. All of us, both Ukrainians, and pro-democracy Russians, should contribute to the defense of a young Republic.

The struggle is still under way, but we can all see that Ukrainians are ready to fight for their independence. This is the most important thing. The will to fight is more important than a common language or cultural and territorial integrity. The ability to withstand against the enemy as a united nation is the defining feature of a nation, which shows it will win, even if the main enemy is your own past.

Ukrainians still have fraternal people, even if there is a war. Nobody says it’s easy to have a family. It’s a hard labor. Ukrainians as a nation should get more mature since now the responsibility of the future of the entire region is on their shoulders. Hundreds of Russians were standing shoulder to shoulder with Ukrainians during Maidan. Hundreds of thousands of Russians were watching at night Hromadske TV and other broadcasts from Kiev and were praying for the fortitude of the spirit of Maidan’s defense and for perished heroes. I know that – I was among those people praying for Ukraine.

Now, floods of lies and propaganda, of mutual media battles, make people forget about that unity, that extreme energetic rise that we all had during Maidan.

And we shouldn’t forget it. We all want this Independence, both Ukrainians, and pro-democracy Russians. Not all of us are ready to pay a great price, though. But we have to make this choice.

Independence carries a high cost.

by Grigory Frolov
Development Director of the Free Russia Foundation

They didn’t mean much because they were quite artificial holidays created on the wave of the collapse of the old Soviet Empire and democratic processes of the 1990s. They lacked clear meaning and purpose for many people, as the declaration of independence from the USSR led to many years of chaos and uncertainty in both Ukraine and Russia.

Maidan has filled this holiday with the meaning. The war has filled this holiday with the meaning. Blood and tears have filled this holiday with the meaning.

What is going on in the East of Ukraine is not an anti-terrorist operation (ATO), but the War for Independence. Each step will show if the country will withstand and get rid of simulacra and inertia of the Soviet Union or not.

Maidan and then the war in Eastern Ukraine have changed the world forever, just like the American Revolution and the American revolutionary war did it once. The birth of a young American Union in the 18th century was the beginning of the fall of the colonial world order. The rebirth of a young Ukrainian nation has changed the contemporary world order.

Ukrainian independence is a bone in the Kremlin’s throat usurping the power on the post-Soviet space. But it’s not only that. The Ukrainian crisis has destroyed the international status quo, the world order where the Kremlin used to be a power pole and a “handshakable” member of G8 while putting pressure on any dissenter since gas and oil would regularly go along pipes to Germany and other European countries. It is not going to continue like that.

What Ukrainian people have been able to do will save all of us as a result. But Ukraine should overcome all hardships first. All of us, both Ukrainians, and pro-democracy Russians, should contribute to the defense of a young Republic.

The struggle is still under way, but we can all see that Ukrainians are ready to fight for their independence. This is the most important thing. The will to fight is more important than a common language or cultural and territorial integrity. The ability to withstand against the enemy as a united nation is the defining feature of a nation, which shows it will win, even if the main enemy is your own past.

Ukrainians still have fraternal people, even if there is a war. Nobody says it’s easy to have a family. It’s a hard labor. Ukrainians as a nation should get more mature since now the responsibility of the future of the entire region is on their shoulders. Hundreds of Russians were standing shoulder to shoulder with Ukrainians during Maidan. Hundreds of thousands of Russians were watching at night Hromadske TV and other broadcasts from Kiev and were praying for the fortitude of the spirit of Maidan’s defense and for perished heroes. I know that – I was among those people praying for Ukraine.

Now, floods of lies and propaganda, of mutual media battles, make people forget about that unity, that extreme energetic rise that we all had during Maidan.

And we shouldn’t forget it. We all want this Independence, both Ukrainians, and pro-democracy Russians. Not all of us are ready to pay a great price, though. But we have to make this choice.

Independence carries a high cost.

by Grigory Frolov
Development Director of the Free Russia Foundation

Free Russia Foundation’s Press Release on Submission of Article 15 Communication to the International Criminal Court

Oct 06 2020

On 21 September 2020, the Free Russia Foundation submitted a Communication to the International Criminal Court Prosecutor’s Office (in The Hague, Netherlands) seeking accountability for Crimean and Russian authorities concerning international crimes perpetrated during Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea. The Communication was prepared in cooperation with Global Rights Compliance and Center for Civil Liberties and is based on a focused inquiry conducted over the past year. In our inquiry, we documented crimes as part of a systematic, planned attack by the Russian state against civilians and groups in Crimea in order to discourage them from opposing the illegal occupation of Crimea and to force their departure from the peninsula. Crimes against civilians included unlawful arrests, beatings, torture, enforced disappearances, and other inhumane acts causing severe mental and/or physical pain. In particular, the crimes targeted the Crimean Tatars, a native ethnic group who had only recently returned to their homeland, having previously been forcefully and brutally displaced by the Soviet Union in 1944.

One of the principal coercive acts was the illegal detention and concomitant violence before, during, and after the imprisonment of political prisoners. Most of those detained were arrested by Russian and Crimean authorities on terrorism charges, but it was their legal, pro-Ukrainian advocacy that led to their imprisonment. In addition, trials of those arbitrarily detained were conducted in wholesale disregard of their fair trial rights. For example, some of those illegally imprisoned were denied a speedy trial, access to independent lawyers, and the opportunity to defend themselves against their arrest in a courtroom.

In order to force those illegally detained to confess to crimes they did not commit, Russian and Crimean authorities also perpetrated acts of torture and cruel or degrading treatment, the levying of additional charges against them, even more inhumane prison conditions, denial of communications with their families and threats made against them, enforced disappearances, and even, in at least one case, a mock execution.

Other inhumane acts include “punitive psychiatry” and the denial of adequate prison conditions, including the following: (i) feeding people inedible food or, at times, no food at all; (ii) facing severe overcrowding in prisons; (iii) denial of regular water supply; (iv) threats of assault against them by prison cellmates; and (v) adding pork to food – prohibited for observant Muslims. Further, medical attention was systematically inadequate or denied for many individuals.

Concerning acts of torture, it was perpetrated by different Russian authorities, including the FSB. Allegations include the use of electric shocks in an effort to get an accused to confess. One was beaten in the head, kidneys, arms and legs with an iron pipe. With another, fingers were broken. Still another endured spinal bruises and having a plastic bag placed over his head to the point of unconsciousness. Further, threats of sexual violence against a detained man were made. Murder as well. Hands were broken, teeth were knocked out in still another.

Trials were largely held behind closed doors for illegitimate reasons, and many of the witnesses were secret not only to the public but also to the Accused. Further, credible allegations exist that, at times, there were FSB or other agents in the room, silently instructing witnesses what to say and how the judges should rule. This adds credence to words, according to the Kyiv Post, heard by Arsen Dzhepparov from a senior FSB lieutenant who stated “I will prove by all possible – and impossible – means that [an Accused is] guilty – even if he isn’t guilty”.

Concerning the crime of persecution, nearly all of these deprivations of fundamental rights were carried out with discriminatory intent. Specifically, these groups were targeted due to their political view – namely, by peacefully opposing the illegal occupation of their country. Some were targeted on ethnic grounds or religious grounds on the basis of their Crimean Tatar background.

War crimes, another group of crimes punished at the ICC, were also perpetrated in addition to or in the alternative to the crimes against humanity. This includes the crime of torture, outrages against personal dignity, unlawful confinement, wilfully depriving protected persons of the rights of a fair and regular trial, and the transfer of the occupying power of parts of its population into the territory it occupies or the deportation of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory.

All these crimes had the ultimate objective of the criminal enterprise – the removal of pro-Ukrainian elements out of Crimea and the annexation of Crimea into the Russian Federation without opposition, including the installation of pro-Russian elements, which include the emigration of more than 70,000 Russians, the illegal imposition of Russian law in the occupied territory, forcing Russian nationality on many Crimeans, and the appropriation of public property.

Ultimately, we hope that all the information gathered by the ICC in the context of its preliminary investigation will lead the ICC to investigate mid- to high-level Russian and Crimean officials on this basis. The international community expects responsible global leadership that follows the rule of law and expects it – no matter the situation – to be respected, especially from a state that is a permanent member of the UN Security Council. When this fails to happen, the international community must demand accountability. We hope that an investigation can be opened and responsible officials of the Russian Federation will be investigated. After an investigation that conforms to international best practices, responsible persons should be charged with the systematic perpetration of international crimes.

Novichok Use Implicates Putin’s Government in Navalny’s Poisoning

Sep 02 2020

Today, the German government has announced that Russian pro-democracy leader Alexey Navalny was poisoned by Novichok. Novichok is a deadly nerve agent developed by the Soviet government chemical weapons program and used on several occasions by the Russian government to kill its critics in the recent years.

To restate the obvious, Novichok is a poison that can only be accessed with the authority of the Kremlin. Therefore, today’s announcement by German officials  directly implicates the Kremlin and Putin in the high-profile assassination attempt on Navalny.

The choice of Novichok was not just a means  to silence Mr. Navalny, but a loud, brazen and menacing message sent by Putin to the world: dare to criticize me, and you may lose your life.

The announcement by the German government of its intent to formally notify the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (‘OPCW’) of the use of Novichok against Navalny is a meek bureaucratic half-measure that fails to acknowledge the extraordinary threat to human life posed by Putin’s regime everywhere. Taken together with Angela Merkel’s promise earlier this week to help Putin finish his Nord Stream 2 pipeline despite an international outcry amounts to condoning the poisoning and normalizing it into a new modus operandi where Putin’s murders go unpunished. Free Russia Foundation urges the leaders of the EU, its Member States and the U.S. Government to take an urgent and drastic action to punish the perpetrators of this heinous crime not only to serve justice, but to establish a powerful deterrent against new attacks by Putin’s regime globally.

Free Russia Foundation Statement on Kremlin’s Interference in Elections in Georgia

Aug 26 2020

We are deeply concerned with information recently distributed by the well-respected authoritative source Center “Dossier.” According to “Dossier,” the Kremlin is using Russian political expert Sergey Mikheev and consulting company “Politsecrets” to manipulate Georgian society, distribute disinformation and anti-democratic narratives, undermine Georgia’s Western aspirations, and interfere in free and fair elections in Georgia scheduled for October 2020.

More

Free Russia Foundation Calls for Investigation into Alexey Navalny’s Poisoning

Aug 20 2020

Free Russia Foundation is gravely concerned about the life and safety of Alexey Navalny. More

Civic Solidarity Platform Appeal with Regard to the Recent Events in Belarus

Aug 12 2020

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY SHOULD REACT IMMEDIATELY AND STRONGLY TO RIGGED PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS AND MASSIVE VIOLENCE OF SECURITY FORCES AGAINST PEACEFUL PROTESTORS IN BELARUS More