Voices from Russia

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Russian Military Medics Vaccinate Syrian Refugees to Prevent Epidemics

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Russian military medical personnel are treating residents in Umm-al-Tiur in Syria’s Hama Governorate who returned to their homes after the end of hostilities. Military doctor Vyacheslav Bolshakov told reporters:

The people in the specified community may be at risk of endemic typhoid and viral hepatitis A. We’re administering typhoid and hepatitis A vaccines to civilians. Initially, we worked with the administration and the mayor. They conducted an outreach campaign, addressing people with the need, and we carried out the vaccinations.

The terrorists failed to reach central Umm-al-Tiur during military operations but carried out regular attacks on the community, badly damaging the electric and water supply systems. The local authorities are restoring the infrastructure with support from Russian specialists, who are gathering samples for analysis in order to evaluate the serviceability of the water system and delousing the city yards and streets. Russian military medical personnel and local authorities are carrying out outreach activities and establishing vaccinating centres to avoid epidemics. As many as 27 communities in the southern de-escalation zone in Quneitra, as-Suwayda, and Daraa Governorates joined the ceasefire and sided with the Syrian government over the past week due to negotiations conducted by the Russian Reconciliation Centre for the Opposing Sides.

6 July 2018

TASS

http://tass.com/society/1012157

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Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Putin Names Russian Army Units After UKRAINIAN Cities

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President Putin named several Russian divisions and regiments after Ukrainian cities such as Lvov and Zhitomir, as well as the Polish capital Warsaw. This move is sure to anger Ukrainian and Polish ultra-nationalists. Indeed, the names already trigger and anger Ukrainian nationalists. Putin assigned the names as honorifics, commemorating the participation of these units in liberating the city for which they received their name.

For this reason, Putin’s decree named the 6 Guards Tank Regiment the 6 Lvov Guards Tank Regiment in honour of the Western Ukrainian city of Lvov in Galicia. The 68 Tank Regiment will now be the Zhitomir-Berlin Guards. The name of the regiment (originally raised in 1944 and reformed in 2017) is in honour of Zhitomir in the northern Ukraine and the title “Berlin” comes from the capture of Berlin in 1945. The 381 Artillery Regiment received the title Varshava (Warsaw), after the capital of Poland (note that Warsaw wasn’t the capital during the Polish occupation of the Ukraine… the then-capital of the Polish-Lithuanian Rzeczpospolita was Krakow). Soviet soldiers fought to liberate Warsaw and Poland from the German fascists and the heroes of the Red Army liberated the Nazi concentration camps. We mustn’t disregard this, even if contemporary Polish political figures forget it.

The 933 Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment received the title “Verkhnodneprovsk” (Upper Dnepr River) and the 102 Motor Rifle Regiment received the title “Slonim-Pomeransk”. The 90 Tank Division is now the 90 Guards Tank Division Vitebsk-Novgorod. Vitebsk is a Belarusian city located in the north near the Russian border. When people hear the name Novgorod they often think of the famous ancient city where Russian history began. Veliki Novgorod is close to Vitebsk and is the logical reason for the name, but we mustn’t forget the name simply means “New City”, and there’s the much larger and younger Nizhny Novgorod in Russia, as well as Novgorod in the Ukraine, which is located south of the original Veliki Novgorod. Additionally, the 400 Self-Propelled Artillery Regiment has the title Transylvania (in Romania), which means “Beyond the Forest”. In fact, that’s a common Slavic name, as there is one such place of the same name near Moscow, as well as one near Kiev.

Transylvania in Slavic languages uses a variant of its Austro-Hungarian name, Semigorod, meaning Seven Cities. The region is most famous for Voivode Vlad Dracul, also known as Vlad the Impaler, who spawned the Dracula legends. The lurid accounts emphasising Vlad’s ferocity might’ve been slightly exaggerated slander by the Germans. Contemporary Russian and Slavic accounts provide a more fair and unbiased middle ground. They acknowledge his cruelty, but also note his successful diplomacy and campaigns against the Ottoman Empire. They did criticise him for what they felt was a betrayal of Orthodoxy and believed this is what caused his death, in contrast to the life of his cousin, St Stephan the Great, but this is beyond the scope of this article. The focus is the units and the names Putin assigned them, but it’s worth understanding a little something about the regions from which they take their names.

The last three units mentioned were the 856 Self-Propelled Artillery Regiment (Guards of Kobryn), the 150 Motor Rifle Division (Idritsko-Berlin), and the 144 Motor Rifle Division (Elnya Guards). In Russian military tradition, a Guards Regiment or the title “Guards” refers to an élite or particularly distinguished unit. This isn’t the same as Special Operations (Spetsnaz) forces, but a Spetsnaz unit can also be a Guards unit. Officers of a Guards unit bear the title “of the Guards” added to their title, so, a Colonel of a Guards regiment would be a Colonel of the Guards or Guards Colonel. Of course, it’s important to address an officer or unit appropriately. The legendary and beloved Russian movie Only Old Men Go to Battle (a must watch for Russia lovers) joked about this. In the film, singer and ace pilot Captain Titarenko is walking by and one of the surprised soldiers in the scene said, “Oh, excuse me, Comrade Captain”, and he jokingly replied, “That’s Comrade Guards Captain to you!”

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The film is a classic about the Great Patriotic War, which is the main reason why these units received their special titles, to “preserve glorious military historical traditions, to instil in military personnel a spirit of devotion to the Motherland and loyalty in fulfilment of one’s military duty”. Of course, ultranationalists from the Ukraine, Poland, and (possibly) Romania may falsely see this as some form of expansionist threat, as some Ukrainians already have. This is ridiculous, as the units received such titles in honour of historical deeds of heroism. People shouldn’t blind themselves to their history, and the reality is that the USSR liberated these countries from fascism. Were it not for the might of the USSR, the fascists could’ve ruled all of Europe and likely the entire world. In the case of the Ukraine, this was Russian land, liberated by Slavic peoples… Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians, but the USSR also helped Polish, Romanian, and Moldavian partisans to push the fascists off their land.

It was particularly interesting and ironic, but very appropriate, that a Guards Regiment would receive the title Lvov, which means “The Lion-City”. Lvov is the historical capital of Galicia; it’s the most stereotypically Western of Ukrainian cities. The traditional date of the founding of Lvov is 1256; however, some historians believe its foundation was between 1240 and 1247, shortly after the fall of Kiev (1240). The city served as the capital of the westernmost principality of Rus, quickly conquered by Poland, then, merged with the Polish-Lithuanian Rzeczpospolita. During the period of the Rzeczpospolita, the Uniate Catholic religion arose; to this day, Lvov has one of the highest rates of Uniates or outright Roman Catholics in the Ukraine. This is illustrative of the extreme cultural differences between one part of the Ukraine and another, to the extent that it almost feels like they’re two separate countries.

Kiev, the traditional birthplace of Russia, was only separate from Russia for a period of around 300 years, between 1360 and 1654 (and again from 1991 to the present day); it has a much more Russian and Orthodox feel. If you didn’t know Russian cities and architecture, a foreigner could mistake it for a city like Volgograd… they both even have a “Motherland with a sword” statue. Kiev is over one thousand kilometres away from Volgograd, twice the distance to Lvov, which is about 500 kilometres from Kiev. Even though Kiev and Lvov are in the same country, whereas Volgograd isn’t, the former two are more distant in culture. Lvov looks, feels, and sounds much more Polish; it only reunited with Russia in 1939 after spending centuries in Austro-Hungary and Poland. It fell to the Germans during World War II; the Red Army only liberated it in 1944. Just imagine the differences between Lvov and the Donbass.

Not only does Lvov have a distinctly less “Soviet” look to it, but also the buildings even fit in with those in Poland, Austria, Hungary, Czechia, etc. The Churches look far more Catholic than they do Orthodox. These things influence culture and thought tremendously. There are Orthodox Christians from Lvov. Orthodox people in Lvov feel no different from those from the rest of the Ukraine or in Russia, aside from the language and accent of course. People in Lvov can still speak Russian if they encounter those who don’t speak Ukrainian. Lvov people are still Ukrainians, therefore, Eastern Slavs, and Galicia was once an equal part of Rus, so there’ll always be a common history. Still, one can’t deny the powerful foreign influence in Lvov. A simple look at the skylines reveals the cities have a different character. This doesn’t mean that it’s bad to be Polish, Austrian, etc, or it’s bad to have Catholic churches in your cities. Of course, it’s positive to coexist and respect all peoples and cultures. It’s simply worth noting that when a city looks and feels different, when the people speak a different, more Polish-influenced, Ukrainian, and when they spent most of their history in other states, it can cause cultural differences. These differences shouldn’t cause conflict, but human nature allows them to. I fully believe the Orthodox Church will unite the Ukraine, and see her through the storms, and that fascism has no future in this land, in the West, or the East. Still, there are difficulties today, caused by cultural differences.

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These differences express themselves clearly in Ukrainian political life and demographics. Naming a Russian regiment after Lvov is merely one of the ways to remind people of their brotherly bonds, of a time when people from all over the USSR fought together against fascism. There’s still much we must do to bring peace to the Ukraine after Western neocons and Ultranationalists tore it apart. Learning about when in history differences first emerged can help; ultimately, studying history reveals that all of the Ukraine, even Lvov, has roots in Kievan Rus. Instead, Ukrainian ultranationalists believe that they’re the “True Russians”, and that Russia has no claim to Kievan Rus. They think they’re more Russian than the Russians are! The Red Army drove the West out of Lvov, which invaded and occupied it. Indeed, Hitler came from the same group of Austro-Germans that occupied Galicia for centuries. It’s important to remember that and not to forget it.

3 July 2018

Russia Feed

http://russiafeed.com/putin-names-russian-army-groups-after-ukrainian-cities

Russia Expresses Concern Over Rights Violations in the Ukraine at UN Human Rights Council Session

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During the 38th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Genève, the Russian delegation expressed its concern over numerous violations of human rights and freedoms in the Ukraine. In particular, delegation head Olga Chekrizova noted the increasing number of infringements on freedom of speech and attacks on journalists. She said during the discussion on the 22nd quarterly report of the UN mission in the Ukraine:

We share the UN’s concern over the growth of attacks on the freedom to express opinions, the freedom of the media, as well as by physical attacks on journalists. In January-March of this year, there were attacks on 21 media workers and we recorded 71 violations of freedom of speech. We condemn the expulsion of Russian journalists from the Ukraine and the arrest of the RIA Novosti Ukraine chief. Russia is seriously concerned by the persistently high level of arbitrary detention, torture, inhumane treatment, and sexual violence in areas adjacent to the Line of Contact in the Donbass. According to UN estimates, Ukrainian law-enforcement officers are responsible for about 75 percent of those crimes. Just like the observer mission, we’re convinced by stalled investigations into violations related to activities of the Mirotvorets website, and by the emergence of similar databases, such as the Parazyt Centre. The level of hate rhetoric and crimes has been on the rise in Ukrainian society… in the period between 16 February and 15 March, we recorded 23 attacks on dissidents, anti-corruption/human rights activists, and Romani.

The Russian delegation also urged Kiev to follow UN recommendations regarding its biased law on education, which infringes on the right of ethnic minorities to have an education in their native language.

4 July 2018

TASS

http://tass.com/world/1011873

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Aleksei Zhuravko: “How I Love Life!”

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Dear Friends!

How I love life! I wish there was always peace on this planet. I want you to love each other, to respect and appreciate each other. The strong should always take care of the weak. Have a nice weekend!

In Respect,

Aleksei Zhuravko

20 June 2018

Igor Krupikov

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