Crimea in Turmoil : The February Jinx


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           MARCH 04 , 2014           00.30 A.M.

Never in my wildest dreams I had imagined that one day , I would be sitting in Mumbai and writing a blog about Crimea. I know this name ” Crimea ” will not ring a familiar bell for majority of my countrymen. But students of world history know about Crimea . I , as a student of history , have read about Crimean War [ 1853 – 1856 ] in detail . Much before World war I [ 1914 – 1918 ] , French Empire , Ottoman Empire , British Empire and Kingdom of Sardinia fought a bloody and fierce battle with Russian Empire over the right of Christians in Holy Land . Allied forces fought for Roman Catholics and Russian Empire fought for Orthodox Church . Crimean war , fought between October 1853 to February 1856 , resulted in the victory for Allied Forces and finally Treaty of Paris was signed between the victors and the vanquished .

Crimean War had far-reaching effect in the history of mankind. It will aways be remembered for Florence Nightingale and her pioneering service for the wounded in the war . Her work heralded the modern nursing methods . It is a little known fact that Mahatma Gandhi won Victoria Cross for his services for the British Empire during Crimean War . It is also a fact that in the aftermath of Crimean War , because of heavy financial crisis and huge debt , which he was unable to pay , Alexander II , the Czar of Russia sold Alaska region of Russian Empire to U.S.A. Alaska was admitted as the 49th state of USA on January 3, 1959 .

As a student of history I have read about Yalta Conference of February 1945 , a.k.a. Crimea Conference , and many more pages of Crimean history during World War II . By strange quirk of history and unlike Crimean War , British Empire and Russian Empire were not at loggerheads during World War II but they were fighting together as the Allied Forces along with United States of America . Franklin D. Roosevelt of U.S.A. , Winston Churchill of Great Britain and Joseph Stalin of Russia assembled at Yalta , a port city of Crimea and discussed and decided Europe’s Post – War reorganization .

Yalta Summit-1

Yalta Summit-2

Churchill , Roosevelt & Stalin at Yalta Conference

So when I read about the recent turmoil in Crimea , I was alarmed and concerned . I just wrote and posted a blog about Ukraine . I was celebrating the success of nationalist forces of Ukraine and the fall of pro – Russian Ukrainian President and a tyrant Viktor Yanukovich . But alas , it was short – lived . Viktor Yanukovich took refuge in Moscow and Russian forces slyly entered into the Simferopol , the capital of Crimea , and took control of the airport and other vital government installations .

Map - 3

Map of Crimea

Map - 1

Map of Crimea

Crimea is a peninsula and is attached to Ukraine by a narrow stretch of land which is at places not more than 5 km in width. For centuries Russian Empire was struggling to have a foothold in the warm water of Black Sea for her navy. With the decline of Ottoman Empire , and after the end of Crimean War , Russian Empire annexed Ukraine and Crimea and these regions first became part of Russian Empire and later on a Soviet Republic of USSR [ Union of Soviet Socialist Republic ] . Ukrainian Cossacks and Ukrainian Tatars [ Muslims ] resented the Russian sovereignty but to no avail . From 1922 to 1945 Crimea remained a part of USSR as the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic . On February 19 , 1954 , the Presidium of Supreme Soviet of USSR transferred Crimean region to the Ukraine Soviet Socialist Republic . And thus from 1945 to 1991 , Crimea remained a part of Ukraine .

As I have stated in my earlier blog about Ukraine , in 1991 USSR was disintegrated and Ukraine , along with 14 other republics became independent country . In 1991 Crimea became a part of Ukraine as the Autonomous Republic of Crimea .

This is the brief history of Crimea . Things started changing fast and situation became fluid after the fall of pro – Russian president of Ukraine , Viktor Yanukovich . On February 26 , 2014 pro – Russia and pro – Ukraine protesters clashed in front of the parliament building in Simferopol .

Protesters with Russian Tricolour in Crimea

Protesters with Russian Tricolour in Crimea

Russian parliament granted President Vladimir Putin the authority to use military force in Ukraine . And because of his unbridled ambition to regain the lost glory of Russian Empire , President Vladimir Putin wants to exercise this new-found authority . He simply forgets that in 1994 Russia backed the legal status of Crimea as part of Ukraine and signed a treaty with United States of America , United Kingdom and France and pledged to uphold the territorial integrity of Ukraine . This treaty was ratified in May 1997 and Russia finally accepted Ukraine’s present borders and Ukraine’s sovereignty over Crimea and Sevastopol .

He is emboldened by the fact that Ethnic Ukrainians make up only 24 % of the population , Ethnic Russian 58 % and Ethnic Tatar Muslims 12 % . And this 58 % Russian population is urging Russia to intervene and take control of Crimea and govern Crimea . They was to secede from Ukraine . And Vladimir Putin is more than willing to oblige .

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Ukraine is in trouble . Crimea is in turmoil . Jinx of February seems to be working again in the troubled history of Crimea . Have a look :

Crimean War : February 1856

Yalta Conference : February 1945

Crimea Became Part of Ukraine : February 1954

Crimean Occupation by Russia : February 2014

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On behalf of all the students and staff of VIDUR Acting Institute , I express my solidarity with the Ukrainian people , with the Crimean people .

VIDUR Editing Studio , VIDUR Club and VIDUR Theatre would also like to wish them well and pray for their glorious future ahead .

[ All the dates and certain historical facts about Crimea and Ukraine have been taken from Wikipedia and are quoted here in this blog . I express my gratitude . ]

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Birth of A New Ukraine


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           FEBRUARY 24, 2014           01.30 A.M.

Two years ago, on February 01, 2012 , I wrote a blog about Ukraine , a former Soviet republic and a very little known country in India. It was titled ” Sorry Ukraine , My Apology “ and was written when a group of Ukrainian women demonstrated naked in front of Indian embassy in Ukrainian capital of Kiev . Two years later, I am again writing about Ukraine and this time matter is more serious.

Map of Ukraine-2

Map of Ukraine-3

Ukraine was a Soviet Republic before becoming a sovereign country. As every one knows on December 26, 1991 , USSR [ Union of Soviet Socialist Republics ] was dissolved and 15 independent countries came into being.

Even after dissolution of USSR , some former Soviet republics retained and maintained close links with Russia. Some republics formed Eurasian Economic Community and retained close links with Russia in the form of economic and security cooperation.

It is alleged that Russian President Vladimir Putin secretly wants to re-establish the former USSR . He knows that his dream is almost impossible to accomplish, so he encourages friendly leaders in the former Soviet republics to become close allies. He wants them to join Eurasian Union and thus help him retain some of the old glory. In his scheme of things Viktor Yanukovich, the president of Ukraine , was the most important ally.

Ukrainian people read the writing on the wall and saw the signal. For majority of Ukrainian people Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovich was not more than a stooge of Vladimir Putin , who wanted Ukraine to become a satellite of Russia. People of Ukraine on the other hand wanted to move away from Russian orbit and wanted to get closer to Europe.

Sensing trouble, Viktor Yanukovich started reign of oppression. He ruled Ukraine with iron fist, jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and moved dangerously close to Russia.

Ukraine erupted in defiance. They fought a bloody battle . Kiev became a war zone. 77 people got killed. Dictator Viktor Yanukovich first tried to suppress Ukraine . But in these days of internet and other social networking sites it is not easy. Ukrainians remained defiant. They fought police and army. Ukraine wanted to get rid of the dictator.

Following pictures show their resolve.

Protests in Ukraine -1

Protests in Ukraine -1

Protests in Ukraine -2

Protests in Ukraine -2

Protests in Ukraine -3

Protests in Ukraine -3

Protests in Ukraine -4

Protests in Ukraine -4

Protests in Ukraine -5

Protests in Ukraine -5

Burning Ukraine

Burning Ukraine

Ukraine in Shambles

Ukraine in Shambles

Ultimately Ukraine’s parliament voted on February 22, 2014 in favour of removal of Viktor Yanukovich from the post. Viktor Yanukovich denounced this as coup against his regime and left his office in Kiev and disappeared . Ukraine’s parliament promised new elections and formation of a new government . Police of Ukraine and Ukrainian army declared that they are with the protestors and are not going to fight their own people.

While I am writing this blog rapid changes are being seen in Ukraine. Former prime minister and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko was freed from the jail and fresh election has been ordered on May 25. Ukraine turns a new page in her history. World is watching.

The Russian stooge is gone and with his unceremonial departure dreams of Vladimir Putin evaporates in the thin air.

Long live Ukraine ! Long live people of Ukraine ! Long live struggle for freedom ! Long live struggle for democracy !

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On behalf of all the students and staff of VIDUR Acting Institute , I express my solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

VIDUR Editing Studio , VIDUR Club and VIDUR Theatre would also like to wish them well in their glorious journey ahead .

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