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February 27 2014

Chechen Dictator and Russian Nationalist NOT Taking Over Ukraine

A Yin and Yang of Russian trollitics, Leader of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov and nationalist blogger Egor Prosvirnin. Unlikely bedfellows. Images remixed by author.

Yin and Yang of Russian trollitics, highly unlikely bedfellows Leader of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov and nationalist blogger Egor Prosvirnin. Images remixed by author.

Time and time again Russian Internet users and Russophone mass media prove that they will fall for any hoax, no matter how bizarre or unbelievable. It's not as if it is the first time someone took the fake Twitter account of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov for the real thing. @KadirovRussia [ru] was started before the real Kadyrov joined Twitter and quickly gained a following. These days, however, almost everyone is aware that although Kadyrov does tweet at his own account, @rkadyrov [ru], he mainly uses it to link to his favorite social networking platform, Instagram [Global Voices report].

Nevertheless, multiple bloggers, forum users, and online media outlets were taken for a ride with a recent tweet by @KadirovRussia:

Prosvirnin and I are riding the “friendship train” to support Russians in Crimea.

Crimea is a primarily Russophone region of Ukraine currently protesting the change of power in Kiev. Crimeans are afraid that nationalist Ukrainians will infringe on their culture, and many Russians share their fear, stoked as it is my mainstream Russian media. A beach paradise not far from where the Sochi Winter Games took place, it is also home to a Russian naval base, and is currently a pressure cooker of ethnic tension between Russians, Ukrainians, and Crimean Tartars. Not a day passes that there aren't rumors of Russia deploying troops or Kiev sending its own militia to the region. The most recent development [ru] is that armed men have occupied a regional administration building and hung Russian flags from it.

In this climate the announcement that the gruff Chechen leader has joined causes with nationalist blogger Egor Prosvirnin (of Sputnik & Pogrom fame), who has been vocally advocating for Crimean independence [ru] for the past several days, fell on fertile ground. Never mind that Prosvirnin harshly mocks and lambastes Kadyrov, the news was reported by several Ukrainian outlets, including Ukrainian Komsomolskaya Pravda [cache], Obozrevatel [ru], and Korrespondent [cache], with commentary noting the increasingly violent climate in Crimea. Kadyrov's alleged involvement must have been particularly troubling — it was the Chechen “Vostok” Battalion that was in the lead during Russia's 2008 armed conflict with Georgia over the breakaway province of Abkhazia.

Prosvirnin himself was amused with the confusion, writing [ru]:

Разбудили звонком с НТВ, спросив, правда ли мы с Кадыровым едем в Крым. Спросонья ступил и сказал, что они там совсем что ли ебу дались, и уже повесив трубку понял, что НАДО БЫЛО ВСЕ ПОДТВЕРДИТЬ.

Was woken up with a call from NTV, asking if its true that Kadyrov and I are going to Crimea. I was still dozy and stupidly said that they were out of their f*cking mind, but as I hung up I realized that I SHOULD HAVE CONFIRMED EVERYTHING.

He said that the news might have scared the Crimean Tartars who are currently against any talk of secession. Later he also joked [ru] that Kadyrov has agreed to take charge of the western Ukrainian province of Lviv.

Chechen “Vostok” Batallion troops at a Crimean beach, or what it might look like if they were. Images remixed by author.

Meanwhile, the real Kadyrov has actually sounded off about Ukraine [ru] on his Instagram account:

Получаем информацию, что у проживающих в этой стране соотечественников появились серьезные проблемы с сохранностью бизнеса и личной безопасностью. Мы никогда не претендовали на чужое, но и своё защитим. Следует четко осознавать, что не дадим в обиду чеченцев и других россиян, где бы они не находились.

We have received information that our countrymen living in that country are having serious problems with safety of their businesses and personal safety. We have never wanted what isn't ours, but we will protect our own. It needs to be clearly understood, that we won't let Chechens and other Russians come to harm, wherever they may be.

A troubling statement — perhaps more troubling than any fake news of rapprochement with Russian nationalists.

February 26 2014

PHOTO: South Korean Labor and Civic Groups Stage Strike

Timed with the start of President Park Geun-hye's second year in office, about 40 thousand South Koreans (police estimate 15 thousand) held protests across the country. The demonstration, spearheaded by Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, calls halt to a clampdown on labor groups, the government's move towards privatization of public sector and cover-up of the presidential election manipulation scandal. Prominent citizen journalist Media Mongu tweeted a photo of the protest (embedded below). More photos can be found in the union's Facebook page [ko].

General strike, at the Seoul City Hall Plaza. It is fully packed.

The Russian Familiarity Yanukovich's Fabulous Palace

Yanukovich's presidential palace, where dreams came true. (And then crashed back to Earth.) Images mixed by Kevin Rothrock.

Yanukovich's presidential palace, where dreams came true. (And then crashed back to Earth.) Images mixed by Kevin Rothrock.

When Viktor Yanukovich fled Kiev last week, he left home in a hurry. The crowds of ordinary civilians and journalists who later flooded the abandoned presidential palace, on the other hand, took their time, marveling at an opulence even Yanukovich's sharpest critics found shocking. When the first visitors arrived, they encountered a skeleton crew of guards, who actually led journalists on a tour of the property, inviting them to take photographs [ru] in order to “reveal how Ukraine's President lives.”

Popular Russian photo-blogger Ilya Varlamov gained access to the grounds, photographing various sights on the 140-hectare property. There was a private zoo filled with animals both domesticated and exotic. The garage hosted a collection of expensive classic cars. Docked at the shore of a private lake, a galleon served as a restaurant. And, of course, there was a private golf course. Ukrainians piled into the mansion to see their taxpayer money at work. An open invitation [ru] went out over Twitter inviting people to come and see the palace with their own eyes. 

Yanukovich's floating 19th hole. The galleon restaurant.

Curiously, the Russian blogosphere’s response was largely muted. Russians, admittedly, are already familiar with examples of their own politicians’ wealth and bad taste, as photos of their residences regularly leak onto the Internet. Vladimir Yakunin, president of the state-run company Russian Railways, starred in such a scandal last year, when anti-corruption blogger Alexey Navalny published materials [ru] on Yakunin's 70-hectare property outside of Moscow.

With this history in mind, one of Varlamov’s readers joked that Yakunin must envy Yanukovich's bigger mansion:

Ни в коем случае не показывайте эти кадры Якунину.

Don't see these photos to Yakunin.

Another Russian blogger, Oleg Kozyrev, reminded reader about a remark by Vladimir Putin in 2008, when he referred to himself as a galley slave.

Теперь понятно, что Путин имел в виду, когда говорил, что он раб на галерах. Вот галера Януковича

Now it is clear what Putin had in mind when he said that he is a galley slave. Here is Yakunin’s galley.

Lenta.ru journalist Andrey Kozenko tweeted:

Generally speaking, after seeing photographs of the residence, [I have to say]: all embezzlers have horrible taste.

Long lines to gaze upon Yanukovich's riches.

Journalist Alexander Plushev observed on Twitter:

I wonder how many of our people [Muscovites] would go to Novo-Ogarevo [Putin’s residence outside of Moscow]. (Let’s just say, if the appropriate circumstances arose.)

Vladimir Varfolomeev jokingly replied:

Hold on now—are they already taking reservations for tours? Damn. Once again, I've missed everything while on vacation.

Andrey Davidov offered the following novel solution:

You could create an electronic queue management system.

February 25 2014

Zimbabwean Opposition Leader Tendai Biti's House Bombed for Second Time

Zimbabwe's former finance minister Tendai Biti.

Zimbabwe's former Finance Minister Tendai Biti. Photo released under Creative Commons by Chatham House.

Zimbabwe's former Finance Minister Tendai Biti's home was reportedly bombed in the early morning February 25, 2014, Twitter users and other media houses announced. He is one of the key members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and a staunch critic of President Robert Mugabe.

Biti is the secretary general for Movement for Democratic Change, led by former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. His home was first bombed in 2011. No suspects have been arrested so far.

Although many people seem to suspect the government, one Twitter user, tinashe chirape, suggested that it was the work of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC):

Another user said the news of the bombing is fake:

Madagascar Still Awaiting a New Prime Minister, Government

A full month since President-elect Hery Rajaonarimampianina took position as the new head of state in Madagascar, there are still no indication who the new prime minister will be and what government he/she will assemble. Ma-Laza argues that the main issue is not really the identity of the prime minister but what he/she will bring to the table [fr]: 

 Un  technicien hors pair,  rassembleur, capable de mener à bien la politique générale du Président de la République. Ce Premier ministre ne  devrait appartenir à aucune mouvance politique, en principe.Mais il n’est ni contre Rajoelina, ni contre Ravalomanana. Bref, c’est un oiseau rare qui inspire aux bailleurs de fonds la confiance. Cette personne existe-t-elle ?  

(The prime minister should be) a person with outstanding technical know-how, a uniter who is able to carry out the policy of the President of the Republic. In theory, the Prime Minister should not belong to any political movement. He will not be against Rajoelina, nor against Ravalomanana (the two last presidents). In short, he will have to be that rare person who will inspire the trust of the investors. The question is:  does this person even exist?

February 23 2014

First Open Heart Surgery in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo

Child awaiting heart surgery via La chaine de l'espoir with their permission

Child awaiting heart surgery via La chaine de l'espoir with their permission

The health international network La Chaîne de l’Espoir (The Link of Hope) reports that 7 Congolese children in critical conditions benefited from open heart surgeries [fr] on February 14 in Brazzaville, Congo. With the help of the Congo Assistance Fundation as well, Prince Béni and Maya, both suffering from cardiomyopathy were operated for several hours as told in the following report [fr]:

Elle a dix ans et ne pèse que quinze kilos. Son cœur fonctionne mal. Il l'empêche de s'alimenter et donc de grandir. La petite fille doit être opérée le plus vite possible. L'intervention dure six heures.

(Mayala) is ten years old and weighs fifteen pounds. Her heart is malfunctioning. It prevents her from getting nutrients to all her cells and therefore growing. The girl needed an operation as soon as possible. The procedure took six hours.

February 22 2014

Ukraine's President Yanukovych Ousted and Parliament Reshuffled

This post is part of our Special Coverage Ukraine's #Euromaidan Protests.

After a violent crackdown on anti-government Euromaidan protesters left 70 to 100 people dead this week, Ukraine's parliament has voted to oust President Viktor Yanukovych and release his political rival ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko from prison. 

Yanukovych was not in the capital Kyiv at the time, having fled and denounced the events as a coup. 

The legislature's vote was met with celebrations from people within the Euromaidan movement, which has protested for three months against the government led by Yanukovych after he backed out of a deal with the European Union in November 2013. 

Following the turmoil on 20 February when security forces shot at protesters, a deal [uk] was originally struck between the opposition and Yanukovych that would end the violence in the country, but would also see him remain president until new elections that were to be held by end of year, according to this agreement. The deal also included a return to the 2004 version of the country's constitution, which limits presidential powers, early presidential elections in 2004, and the creation of an international commission for investigating the events in Kyiv. The agreement was brokered by three European foreign ministers.

On the evening of February 21, the leaders of the parliamentary opposition came to Kyiv's Maidan (Independence Square) – the stronghold of the protesters – to present the signed agreement to the people. They arrived just as Maidan was mourning the unprecedented loss of lives which occurred the day before. Despite risks, hundreds of thousands had gathered on the square, including some of the police officers who had deflected to the side of the protesters. They blamed the president for the escalation of violence and the use of firearms.

When the protesters heard that Yanukovych would remain in power at least until the next elections, they booed the parliament representatives. A regular member of the Maidan self-defense unit (the “sotnyk”) took to the stage and gave a very emotional speech calling on the president to resign by the next morning or Maidan would go into the offensive (video).

His call received overwhelming support from the gathered crowd, and that support was echoed by the leader of the Right Sector movement, a right-wing opposition group, albeit in a more restrained manner. Well-known journalist Dmytro Gnap also got on stage, blaming the leaders of the opposition leaders for betraying the Euromaidan movement and outlining possible options of Yanukovych's resignation.

Social media users, like @RainFromUkraine, reacted similarly:

Cracked voice of a sotnyk was the voice of all Ukrainians.

Afterwards, one of the opposition leaders, former world boxing champion turned politician Vitaliy Klychko, got on stage and apologized to the protesters for entering into an agreement with Yanukovych and “shaking his hand“.

Shortly after these events, news spread that Yanukovych was leaving Kyiv for the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. Later in the evening, however, social media activists have identified a private jet that allegedly belonged to the President leaving Ukraine via a flight tracking site FlightRadar24. As the plane was flying towards Sochi, many believed Yanukovych was fleeing to Russia.

However, the jet did not land there but went further towards the United Arab Emirates, with Yanuckovych allegedly on board. Whether Yanukovyh has really left Ukraine, however, remains unconfirmed.

In the morning, the Maidan self-defense movement announced that they were guarding Parliament and other government buildings, while government security forces had completely abandoned the government block in Kyiv. Twitter user Pedrodon tweeted this image of the events:

A journalist from Brussels, @Balliauw, also added this image:

Government forces and private security personnel had also abandoned Yanukovych's notoriously lavish residence Mezhygirya. Maidan self-defense members encircled the residence to prevent looting and destruction, but allowed journalists and other citizens free entry (photos). Hundreds of Ukrainians have visited the place, which was off limits to regular citizens for years.

In the meantime, journalists discovered piles of partially destroyed records of large-scale corruption schemes.

RL/RFE reporter Irtsia Stelmakh [uk] tweeted several photos of the residence:

Here it is, Mezhygirya.

Journalist Oksana Kovalenko tweeted:

Found documents in the water near the dock.

While many Ukrainians were having a tour of Mezhygirya, MPs assembled in Parliament and began voting on a number of crucial decisions, including the return to a parliamentary-presidential republic (with limited presidential powers), choosing a new speaker of parliament, and several other key government positions.

In the midst of these events, one of the pro-government channels released a video statement [uk] by President Yanukovych, who allegedly recorded the statement in Kharkiv, the second largest city in the northeast of the country. In the statement, the president accused his opponents of a state coup, referred to protesters as “bandits”, and stressed that he was doing all in his power to prevent bloodshed.

He also added that he was not planning to leave the country.

A screencap of President Yanukovych' address released on Feb. 22, 2014

A screencap of President Yanukovych’ address released on Feb. 22, 2014

While MPs in parliament were hastily leaving the pro-presidential political party Party of Regions, several pro-presidential and pro-Russian MPs and regional authorities quickly called an assembly in Kharkiv. The move caused widespread concern that separatist or federalist statements would be adopted and appeals for Russia to deploy its troops in Ukraine would be made.

However, the assembly only called for self-organizing to maintain order in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine and for friendly relations with Russia. In support of the event, a mass rally by Party of Regions supporters was organized in Kharkiv. While some participated genuinely, there were media reports of pressure on state employees and others [uk] to participate in the rally.

At the same time, a large rally in support of Euromaidan also took place in Kharkiv [video]. Twitter users @ShkvarkiUA tweeted from the city center:

East and West are UNITED! FREEDOM TO THE PEOPLE! – shouts Kharkiv.

Kharkiv Euromaidan activists also demanded the removal of their separatist mayor and governor. Closer to the evening, reports emerged [uk] that both officials were leaving for Russia, as State Security Service of Ukraine opened a criminal investigation into their separatist claims.

Later that evening, the parliament in Kyiv voted to oust President Yanukovych and called early presidential elections for May. The MPs also supported the release of former Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko, who was jailed by Yanukovych in 2011.

Needless to say, the reaction of many Ukrainians was celebratory. Kyiv-based journalist and photographer Bogdana Shevchenko tweeted:

CONGRATULATIONS EVERYONE!!!! #євромайдан #янукович

User Olia Riabuha tweeted:

Thank you everyone who fought for justice! Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes! Today we won!

Reactions from the international community followed. British Foreign Secretary William Hague tweeted:

Polish Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Radosław Sikorski also added:

As of 7 p.m. local time on 22 February 2014, the whereabouts of Yanukovych remain unknown.

#EuroMaidan Medic Shot in Neck Lives to Tweet: “I Am Alive!”

Volunteer medics attend to the wounded

Volunteer medics attend to the wounded on the morning of February 20, 2014 when snipers indiscriminately took aim at protesters from the roof of Hotel Ukraine. Photo by Alan Turgutoglu © Copyright Demotix

As snipers fired at EuroMaidan protesters on February 20, 2014 one young medical volunteer was hit in the neck, but managed to write on Twitter: “I am dying”. Her message was shared by thousands of people until finally, two hours later, she tweeted that she had survived.

A tense truce between protesters and the Ukrainian government was broken that morning and sniper shots were fired at up to a hundred people in the square. Many shots were aimed at the head or neck, apparently for the purpose of killing. [There are photos and videos - WARNING graphic content].

As the shooting began, medical volunteers rushed to the scene despite the danger. Among them was a 21-year old volunteer from Ternopil, Olesya Zhukovskaya.

Olesya has been volunteering on Maidan for over three months. According to the administrator of a Facebook page about Maidan activists called “Єлюди – maidaners”, she had caught the attention of other volunteers for her bravery. On February 19, the day before shooting, one person had written to the Facebook page encouraging them to take note of Olesya and write something about her.

Олеся Жуковська з Тернополя (Кременець) на Майдані з першого дня. Їй 21 рік, працює за 250 км від дому медиком-фельдшером. На Майдан поїхала як медик-волонтер. Що вона там тільки не бачила. На Грушевського їй згорів одяг, поруч граната впала…..але вона нікуди не пішла, а лишилась допомагати людям. За 3 місяці перебування на майдані захворіла, мала страшну ангіну і лежала в лікарні. кілька днів тому поїхала додому до мами, бо матуся плакала і просила показатись їй живою, а Олеся одна єдина в сім'ї. Поїхала на кілька днів додому. Але вчора, коли побачила, що коїться на Майдані, попри сльози мами, переживання тата та родини, вночі поїхала на Майдан автобусом, в якому були тільки чоловіки, 18 людей і вона сама……Зараз вона на Майдані в медпункті біля йолки. я горджусь такими як вона, думаю, що Олеся варта того, щоб Ви про неї написали».

Olesya Zhukovskya is from Kremenets, in the Ternopil region and has been on Maidan [central square in Kyiv] from day one. She is 21 years old, and works as a medical assistant 250km away from home. She came to Maidan as a medical volunteer. She has experienced everything there. On Hrushevskogo [street where the first clashes took place] her clothing was burned when a grenade fell next to her… but she has not left, she stayed to help people. After three months on Maidan, she fell ill, had a terrible angina and had to stay at the hospital.

A few days ago she went home to see her mother, because her mother prayed and pleaded for her only child to show up at home alive. She stayed at home for a few days. But yesterday, when she saw what was happening on Maidan, despite her mother's tears, and the concerns of her father and other family, she took a night bus to Maidan with 18 people, all men…. Now she is on Maidan, at the medical aid point next to the “Christmas tree”. I take pride in people like her and beleive Olesya deserves to be written about [on your page].

The next day snipers opened fire on protesters. Here's what Olesya tweeted that morning:

EVERYONE COME TO KYIV URGENTLY, IN ANY WAY POSSIBLE! Your support is needed! If a massacre has begun in the morning, there will be horror by evening! Especially when Russian troops arrive aiming to shoot Western extremists [as protesters are called in Putin's official statements].

According to the timestamp, about 20 minutes later she was shot in the neck, despite wearing a bright medical volunteer uniform. Already wounded, Olesya tweeted [uk]:

I am dying

Her tweet went viral immediately. Media even reported Olesya's death:

However, Olesya did not die, but was taken to a hospital and received an operation. Just as Maidan was trying to come to terms with the unprecedented loss of life, she tweeted again [uk]:

I am alive! Thank you to everyone who's supporting and praying for me! / I am at the hospital. My state is stable so far.

Many have referred to Olesya as “Maidan's heroine” [uk]. She gained around 8,000 new followers on her twitter account in one day. People from all over the world sent their messages of support:

Olesya, get well! We are in Moscow, but we are with you and worry for you. You have done great.

In recognition of Olesya's service and sacrifice, Hungarian Red Cross held an action of solidarity for her:

Pro-Maidan Video Goes Viral Thanks to Pavel Durov, Russia's Zuckerberg

Screen capture from

Screen capture from “Fear Is Not Real.” YouTube.

Pavel Durov, the creator of Russia's most popular online social network, Vkontakte, is an unusual man. Young and fabulously wealthy (he made nearly half a billion dollars [ru] last month divesting from VK), Durov has something of a mixed reputation. In December 2011, he gained a reputation for defending civil rights, when he publicly defied a police request to delete certain Vkontakte groups formed in opposition to United Russia, the country's dominant political party. Early last year, however, Novaya Gazeta, one of Russia's best established anti-regime newspapers, revealed evidence that Durov may have cooperated with the authorities in more subtle ways. In the last year, Durov has been at the center of a shareholders conflict with United Capital Partners, an investment group that bought 48% of Vkontakte in April 2013. Last month, Durov sold his remaining 12% in the company to a close ally of Alisher Usmanov, preserving Mail.ru Group's majority control.

While he's no longer a part-owner in the website, Durov remains Vkontakte's CEO. That arrangement might not last much longer. Indeed, there is widespread speculation in Russia that Durov will soon be forced out of the company entirely. Durov has fought hard to remain at Vkontakte, but his recent divestment suggests he may finally be acquiescing. (Losing his creation undoubtedly costs him some sleep, but Durov can now toss and turn on a bed of 420 million dollars, thanks to the stock sale.) 

Besides selling off his shares, Durov did something else recently that could signify his impatience with keeping himself in the good graces of Russia's powerful. On February 20, 2014, Durov republished an evocative two-minute video featuring combat footage from Kiev, narrated in a dramatic male voice cheering on demonstrators. The video is thoroughly pro-Maidan, challenging protesters to overcome the fear of battle and encouraging them to continue resisting. At the time of this writing, Durov's post has almost 32 thousand views and over 17 thousand “likes.”

Given the political climate in Russia now, Durov's willingness to stake such an unabashedly pro-opposition position on the Ukraine crisis is rather astounding. Durov leads a multi-billion-dollar company—the “Facebook of the Russian Internet”—where an unpredictable competition between two investment tycoons will decide his future. Outside Vkontakte, Russian politicians have been on a spree of attacks against anyone who promotes “extremism” (read: any kind of support for Ukraine's opposition). As I've documented in past Global Voices posts, there have been assaults on television and radio stations, websites, and individuals—sometimes for behavior as innocuous as a bad joke. Is Durov's daring a show of open defiance? 

The video: “Fear Is Not Real”

Artist Alexander Makedonskiy originally authored the video that Durov published on Vkontakte. YouTube hosts the clip, as well, on Makedonskiy's channel and other accounts. The commentary in the video is a curious mix of dialogue from two Hollywood movies: the 2013 film After Earth, starring Will Smith, and the 2006 movie Rocky Balboa, Sylvester Stallone's sixth and final Rocky installment. (The scenes harvested for the narration include father-and-son moments from each film, and the speech Rocky delivers to the Pennsylvania Athletic Commission, when he tries to renew his boxing license.)

What follows is a transcription [ru] of the “Fear Is Not Real” Maidan video, with the original English text from the two films mentioned above. The video itself, with English subtitles, can be viewed below.

Страха в реальности нет!
Страх живет в одном закоулке в наших мыслях о будущим.
Страх это плод нашего во брожения.
Он заставляет нас боятся того чего нет! И вероятно не будет ни-ког-да!
Это ж чистое безумия.
Ты только пойми меня правильно!
Опасность это реальный факт, но страх это твой выбор!
Я скажу то что для тебя не новость. Мир не такой солнечный и приветливый.
Это очень опасная и жесткая места.
Если толька дашь слабину, он опрокинет с такой сили тебя что больше уже не встанешь!
Не ты, не я не кто на свете не бьет так сильно как жизнь!
Совсем не важно как ты ударишь , а важно какой держишь удар.
Как двигаешься в перед будешь идти иди если с испугай не свернешь!
Толька так побеждают!
Если знаешь чего ты стоишь?! Иди бери свое!
Но будь готов удары держат!
А ни плакаться и говорит ” я нечего не добился из-за его из-за нее и из-за кого-то. Так делает трусы а ты не трус!!! Быт этого не может!
Если человек сам хочет за что то драться, хочет добиваться своего, кто правы остановит его?! А может кому-то из вас тоже чего-то хотелось.?! Чего-то о чем мечтал, чего-то не обычного. А его не дают “нет” говорят и точка.
Кто имеют права так говорит “кто?” Ни кто !
Человек сам решает в какую сторону ему повернуть. Права каждого быт именно тем кем он захочет быт!

Fear is not real.
The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future.
It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist.
That is near insanity.
Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice.
Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.
It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.
You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life.
But it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.
How much you can take and keep moving forward.
That’s how winning is done!  
Now if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth!
But you gotta be willing to take the hits.
And not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody!
Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that! 
Because if you’re willing to go through all the battling you've got to go through to get where you wanna get—who’s got the right to stop you? Maybe some of you guys got something you never finished, something you really want to do, something you never said to somebody—something!—and you’re told “No,” even after you pay your dues?
Who’s got the right to tell you that? Who? Nobody!
It’s your right to listen to your gut. It ain’t nobody’s right to say “No” after you earned the right to be where you want to be and do what you want to do.

February 21 2014

Photos from The Fashion Pakistan Week

Fashion blogger Amara Javed posts photos from the ongoing Fashion Pakistan Week in Karachi showcasing the Summer 2014 collections by many Lahore designers.

Mayoral Elections in Quito, Ecuador: President Correa on the Campaign Trail

20 de noviembre, 2013. El Movimiento Alianza Pais inscribió los nombres de sus candidadtos para las elecciones seccionales del 2014. Foto: Micaela Ayala V./Andes en Flickr, bajo licencia Creative Commons  (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

On November 20th, 2013, the ruling PAIS Alliance party registered the names of its candidates for the 2014 local elections. Photo: Micaela Ayala V./Andes on Flickr, used under Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

[All links lead to Spanish language pages, except where otherwise noted.]

In the heat of the electoral battle for mayor of Quito, the statements of Ecuador's highest authorities have gotten more attention than those of the candidates themselves.

The electoral process, officially called the 2014 Elections of the Metropolitan District of Quito, will take place this Sunday, February 23. Six candidates remain in the running, including the city's current mayor Augusto Barrera, a member of the governing PAIS Alliance party. The latest polls show that 42% of respondents intend to vote for the candidate Mauricio Rodas, of the opposition party SUMA-Vive, while support for government party candidate Barrera fluctuates between 36 and 39%.

Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, worried by the possibility that his party's candidate may not be reelected as mayor of Quito, recorded the following message for party members [es]:

The message was also published in written form on Correa's Facebook page and in other media. In the written version of the message, Correa cites social media tags and mentions that the right wing has united to take over the mayor's office in Quito. Correa adds:

San Ignacio decía: “En una fortaleza asediada, toda disidencia es traición. Cualquier diferencia entre nosotros la trataremos al día siguiente de la victoria. Quito debe seguir siendo la capital de la Revolución Ciudadana”.

Saint Ignatius said: “In a besieged citadel, all dissidence is treason.” We will settle any differences between us on the day after the victory. Quito must continue to be the capital of the Citizen Revolution.

The message provoked reactions of both support and opposition on Facebook. For example, user Romel Pardo comments approvingly:

Romel Pardo: Bueno señor presidente pueden ganar alcaldias. Pero el presidente de Ecuador ES y sera Rafael Correa. A correa no le gana nadie hay que cambiar la constitucion para que se quede UNOs 20 años mas el 80% de ecuatorianos LO apoyamos

Well, Mr. President, they [the opposition] might win mayoral elections. But the president of Ecuador IS and will remain Rafael Correa. No one can beat Correa. They should change the constitution so that he can have 20 more years; more than 80% of Ecuadorians support HIM.

Meanwhile, Diego Quimbaila disagrees:

Diego Quimbaila: Sr. Presidente para usted mi voto en las elecciones nacionales todo 35, pero para alcalde de Quito ya no Barrera hay cosas buenas pero son más los desaciertos, no caminamos a ningún lado hay caos en esta hermosa ciudad no podemos seguir en esto…

Mr. President, you have my vote in the national elections for your “Todo 35″ plan, but we no longer want Barrera for mayor of Quito. There are some good things, but the mistakes outnumber them. We're not going anywhere, there's chaos in this beautiful city, we can't continue like this.

User Alberto Gallifa brings up an important point:

Alberto Gallifa: En una verdadera democracia un Presidente de la República no debe hacer proselitismo político en favor de ningún candidato!!!!! Eso debería estar penado por la misma Constitución y por el Instituto encargado de regular y avalar las contiendas políticas, mientras eso no suceda Ecuador no tendrá la verdadera Revolución Ciudadana que tanto pregona RC y su país jamás será verdaderamente libre y democrático……

In a true democracy, a President of the Republic must not campaign in favor of any candidate!!!!! This should be punishable by the Constitution itself and by the Institute responsible for regulating and managing electoral contests. Until this happens, Ecuador will not have the true Citizen Revolution that Rafael Correa claims to support, and his country will never be truly free and democratic…

This isn't the only message that President Correa has sent. He sent another on February 12, this time addressing all citizens of Quito, where he reviews the projects and successes of Mayor Barrera and stresses that the right wing wants to boycott the Revolution:

To the voters of Quito, with caring and commitment, as always… 

In this case, however, an internet user put forward a response. Paola tweeted:

Our response to Rafael Correa…

Among other comments, Paola notes that Correa only writes to the Ecuadorian people during election time and when he wants something. She also asks how losing a mayoral election could destabilize the government. Paola adds:

Trato de entender por qué es un “DEBER A CUMPLIR” votar por alguien en particular? [...] Por qué debo sacrificar mi bienestar y el de mi familia por el bien del color de un partido, de un ego y absolutamente nada más? [...] Lo siento Presidente, yo voto por quien yo quiera.

I'm trying to understand how it can be a “DUTY TO FULFILL” to vote for someone in particular? [...] Why should I sacrifice my well-being and that of my family for the good of a party flag, an ego, and absolutely nothing more? [...] I'm sorry, President, but I'm voting for whomever I want.

Other public officials, like Héctor Rodríguez, General Manager of the public company YACHAY, also felt the obligation to tell the citizens of Quito his reasons to vote for Mayor Barrera. In a message tweeted from the account @hrodriguez_, Rodriguez stresses the importance of the public spaces reclaimed by Barrera, and states: “It's not fair that a couple of greedy obsolete neoliberals want to take away our opportunity to continue doing great public work.”

My personal position as a member of Juventudes Alianza PAIS: why I'm voting for Augusto [Barrera] for mayor. 

In recent statements, President Correa declared that if the PAIS Alliance loses the mayoral election in Quito, then “we will begin to see results like those in Venezuela, where Nicolás Maduro faces opposition from Caracas itself every day.” Economist Alfredo Velazco reacts to this on Twitter, saying:

Amenazan con q ‪#‎Ecuador‬ se convertirá en ‪#‎Venezuela‬ si pierden ‪#‎Alcaldía‬ ‪#‎Quito‬ – amenazará también q se convertirá en Maduro? Estas ‪#‎EleccionesEC‬ estarán marcadas en amenazas más que en ofertas de campaña.

They're threatening that Ecuador will turn into Venezuela if they lose the Quito mayoral election – will [Correa] also threaten that he will turn into Maduro [en]? These elections will be marked by threats more than campaign promises.

On February 14, a televised debate took place between the two candidates with the best chances of winning: current mayor Augusto Barrera and opposition candidate Mauricio Rodas. On February 19 another debate took place, this time between five of the six candidates (Mauricio Rodas was absent). Twitter user Vero Salvador summarizes the impression shared by many viewers after the latest debate:

What an embarrassment of a debate! Lame ideas, repetitive irony, tiresome jokes. Like they say in Quito, we are wasting money with these candidates.

A final controversial issue is that President Correa will air his usual television program, or sabatina, on Saturday the 22, the day before the elections. This would violate the fifth subsection of Article 207 of Ecuador's Democratic Code or Organic Electoral Law. In response to this issue, a resigned Domingo Paredes, President of the National Electoral Council (CNE), declared:

During the campaign, it would be preferable for Correa to be at a rally than at the sabatina.

More information about the progress of these upcoming local elections – which will be carried out at a national level, not just in Quito – can be found online at Elecciones 2014 Ecuador, on Twitter under the tag #EleccionesEC, and in the special features of newspapers El Comercio and La Hora.

Finally, we leave you with a satirical music video that pokes fun at one of the government party's campaign mottos, “Todo todito 35,” linking it with criticism of various government policies.

Russian Politicians Stick to Their Guns as Ukraine Burns

Ukraine's Trade Union House, headquarters of the protesters burns

February 19, 2014. Ukraine's Trade Union House, headquarters of the protesters burns as violence intensifies. Photo CC 3.0.

As the political situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate, and reports of fatalities grow, Russian politicians have been voicing their opinions on the crisis. Somewhat predictably, opinions on who is to blame for the worst political violence to grip Europe this century were sharply divided between government and opposition figures. Several members of Russia's ruling United Russia party sharply criticised the protesters and the West for the disturbances.

Deputy Alexey Pushkov, head of the Duma's foreign affairs committee, blamed Western pressure on Ukraine's government. Referencing the 2004 ‘Orange Revolution,’ Pushkov tweeted:

With their pressure on Ukraine's authorities, and attempts to pass off chaos as democracy, the West has opened the path to radicals, and now in Kiev there's Orange anarchy.

Deputy Robert Shlegel, who has long been an outspoken critic of American policy, sarcastically tweeted [ru] about US President Barack Obama's call for the Ukrainian army to exercise “restraint.”

Obama making demands of Ukraine's army. :-O Barack Husseinovich! Aren't you ashamed of yourself, once again you're digging yourself a hole with your colonial worldview.

Another prominent United Russia deputy, Sergey Zheleznyak, went on Facebook to voice his full support [ru] for the Ukrainian government's violent crackdown.

Совершенно очевидно, что с бандитами, взявшими в руки оружие, не может быть никакого перемирия, это не политическая сила, с которой имеет смысл вести переговоры, а преступники, которых нужно срочно выявлять, арестовывать и привлекать к уголовной ответственности! При вооруженном сопротивления преступников, угрожающих жизни и здоровью – уничтожать их без сожаления!

It's perfectly obvious that there can't be any sort of reconciliation with bandits who have taken up arms. This isn't a political force, with whom there's sense in holding discussions, these are criminals who need to be identified, arrested and brought to criminal responsibility! During an armed confrontation, criminals who threaten life and limb need to be eliminated without pity!

Russia's more liberal-minded politicians were less critical of the protesters. Ilya Ponomaryov, a member of the opposition party ‘A Just Russia,’ wrote rather ambivalently in his LiveJournal [ru].

я полностью поддерживаю право народа на восстание, считаю события в Киеве именно народным восстанием, но скорблю, что причиной этого восстания является манипуляция общественным мнением со стороны недобросовестных политиков со всех сторон. Преследуемая людьми цель – ложная, и люди со временем это поймут, но много позже, когда пролитой кровью воспользуются проходимцы.

I fully support the right of the people to rise up. I consider the events in Kiev such a people's uprising, but regret that the reason for this uprising is the manipulation of public opinion on the part of cynical politicians on both sides. The goal people are striving for is a lie and people in time they will get this, but only much later, only after the schemers have exploited the bloodbath.

Fellow party-member Dmitry Gudkov, one of the most outspoken oppositionists sitting in the Duma, was more openly critical of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Yanukovych has to quickly announce early presidential elections and carry out constitutional reforms or prepare himself for a meeting with Gaddafi.

United Russia has thrown its full support behind Yanukovych and is unlikely to be swayed in its opinion by mountaining casualties, which it blames ultimately on a combination of Western interference and far-right elements. Similarly, for Russia's opposition politicians, the bloodshed in Ukraine is a clear example of the dangers of corruption and an unwillingness for reform. For Russia's politicians, the battle lines over Ukraine have already been drawn, and now there can be no compromise. 

February 20 2014

#Euromaidan Protests Spread Throughout Ukraine After Explosion of Violence

This post is part of our Special Coverage Ukraine's #Euromaidan Protests.

Euromaidan protests in Ukraine took a turn for the worse on February 18, 2014, as special Berkut police forces began their most violent crackdown yet on citizens and political opposition supporters in Kyiv. Instead of quelling protesters, the protests quickly strengthened and even spread to new towns and regions in the country. The government announced de facto martial law, with the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claiming that the military now had the right to search, detain and even fire on civilians.

Earlier in the day, opposition representatives attempted to deliver a request to Parliament that would limit presidential power and were denied access to the building to do so. Soon after hearing this news, protesters moved in on the Parliament building. The situation then gravely escalated when police forces violently cracked down on protesters around 8 pm, with devastating results. The following morning, several independent and international news outlets reported that the several-hour-long aggressive police action resulted in 25 deaths and at least 1,000 people injured, but casualties are still being counted. One journalist reported that at least 40 people had been burned alive in the Trade Union building in Kyiv alone.

As this was happening, news of the crackdown traveled quickly through social media and other channels, with people following the events live throughout Ukraine and the world through several live streams. Newly angered protesters marched once again on what has been the main protest site since November 2013, Independence Square, but also took to the streets in several other cities and towns in Ukraine's 24 administrative regions. The images and information users on Twitter and other social networks were sharing, like the one below from @slava_slav, angered citizens throughout the country and incited more protests:

Trade Union Building on Independence Square [in Kyiv]

Ukraine's most popular online community of IT developers joined other Ukrainians in presenting their position on the February 18 events. The founder of the community, Max Ischenko, wrote:

Вчера украинская власть наконец-то приняла решение. Обьявила открытую войну гражданам Украины. Рубикон пройден.
Всего два выхода для честных ребят: перестать быть гражданами Украины, променяв кафкианскую реальность на нормальный мир или же остаться гражданами, приняв навязанную войну. Третий, трусливый вариант, не рассматриваем — это default route.
Голыми руками на БТР идти не надо, это не наши методы. Программисты лучше действуют головой. Я за ненасильственное сопротивление.

Yesterday, Ukrainian authorities finally made a decision. Open war against Ukrainian citizens was announced. The Rubicon has been crossed.

Honest men have only two solutions: stop being a citizen of Ukraine, changing the Kafka-esque reality to a normal world or to remain a citizen and accept the imposed war. The third one, a cowardly choice, is not considered – this is a default route.

There is no need to go against armoured personnel empty-handed, it is not our way. Developers work better by using their heads. I am for non-violent resistance.

After receiving information of the murders in Kyiv, many protests throughout other regions have been refueled, and some have now newly joined the protests. The most radical demonstrations of civil resistance, other than in Kyiv, now come from the city of Lviv in western Ukraine, which was active in the Euromaidan movement from its inception. During the night between February 18 and February 19, several government organizations fell into the control of protesters, such as the local Security Service of Ukraine in Lvyv and the Regional State Administration.

In Lviv, there is no possibility to telephone the police, as they have simply stopped responding. The majority of police stations in the region have been defeated and taken over by protesters. Information has also been circulating both on and offline that police stations in the city had been looted and fire arms stolen. Ukrainian news agency ZIK reported in a tweet:

In Lviv all weapons missing from police stations: In Lviv from the police offices some number of weapons were stolen

In the morning of February 19, Ivan Franko Lviv National University students and professors announced that they would go on strike indefinitely and asked other universities to do the same. In the meantime, students have been doing their best to organize self-defense units to protect citizens and museums from looting and violence. Young Twitter user @yostap from Lvyv said:

The creation of the student self-defense unit and strike committee has been announced.

In Uzhorod, the Regional State Administration is now occupied by the protesters, with many citizens expressing relief that their town has awoken to join what many are calling a revolution. Twitter user @mikekomar tweeted a photo of the building when it had just been occupied by the protesters:

@ukrpravda_news Zakarpatska RSA [Regional State Administration] was taking by storm, and it is now in the nation's hands! Finally, Uzhgorod has awoken! Photo [taken at] 12:35

The same has happened in a few other regional capitals. In Lutsk, a city in another western Ukrainian region, for example, the Regional State Administration is now also in the hands of Euromaidan protesters. Local users on Twitter, like @deep_monday, tweeted images and updates as they happened:

MIA [Ministry of Internal Affairs] and RSA [Regional State Administration] are defeated, everything is in flames, Bashkalenko [Volyn Region Governor Alexander Bashkalenko] was beat. We have the feeling this is not happening to us

What many feel is the cruelest news over these two days has come from Khmelnytskyi. At the Security Service of Ukraine building in this city, an elderly woman was killed and two others were injured. They were a part of the protest group that had come to that building after hearing what happened in Kyiv. Someone opened fire from the Security Service of Ukraine building. According to witnesses, the woman was unarmed and was kneeling in front of the building. The terrible image of this killing was shared by many online, including the official Twitter feed of one of the Maidan movement organizations, Will of the Nation:

Khmenytskyi. SSU is killing theirs nation.

The Ukrainian Democratic Alliance added:

Our activists have said that the shooting came from the building of the Khmelnytskyi SSU [Security Service of Ukraine]. A woman was killed. There are a few injured.

Eastern parts of Ukraine also are no longer peaceful. In Poltava, a protest was held in the city center. A Twitter account represented as Poltava Svoboda (Poltava Freedom) tweeted this image of the protests there:

Poltava. The amount of people [joining the protest] is rising.

People are once again joining forces to try to help the Euromaidan movement in any way they can. Some are collecting and bringing warm clothes and medication, while others are buying and preparing food for their fellow protesters. Food has now become more important than ever at the protest sites in Kyiv, as the Trade Union Building, where most of the food collected for the protesters had been stored over the past weeks, was burned during the February 18 police attacks, leaving protesters with no food at all.

In Kyiv and Lviv, people have also been donating blood and more donors are needed. Information about this is also being spread through social networks and a new hashtag #ядонор (#Iamadonor) can be seen along with the now standard #Euromaidan. Twitter user Ana Toliivna from Lvyv was among those who donated and called for others to do the same:

#Iamadonor RT @euromaidanlviv: On Pekarska street 65 it is possible to donate blood for those affected [at] #Euromaidan #Lvyv

People are also collecting money for those affected by the latest escalation of events. Even those with very little to give are offering what they can in support of the protests. Ukrainian author and journalist Dmitry Gordon shared this image of an elderly woman showing undeniable support of the protests in her country:

This old woman brought half of her monthly pension for those affected at Euromaidan.

Russians Eye Ukrainian Turmoil with Hope, Fear

Iron Maiden's

Heavy metal band Iron Maiden's mascot “Eddie the Head” gets a Ukrainian restyling in this meme. Anonymous image found online.

The latest development in a long running stand-off between the Ukrainian government and opposition, deadly clashes between protesters and riot police erupted near Kiev's Independence Square on Tuesday, February 18. As events unfolded, authorities halted the city subways, barricaded roads, and blocked a major opposition TV channel,  Channel 5 Ukraine [Ukr]. According to recent numbers as many as twenty-five protesters and police have died in the violence, over 200 people have been hospitalized, and over 1,000 have been otherwise injured. The numbers also include journalists and bystanders.

Russian bloggers have been carefully observing these events, so much so that many Russian Internet users have lost interest [Global Voices report] in the Sochi Winter Games in favor of protests on the Maidan. Positive commentary ranges from expressing sympathy for the protesters to demanding that Russia not meddle in Ukrainian internal affairs. At the same time pro-Kremlin bloggers and state-sponsored Russian media outlets have lambasted the protesters as extremists. 

As usual, members of the Russian opposition gave some vicarious analysis of the situation. Journalist Sergei Smirnov, formerly a member of the radical and banned National Bolshevik party, tweeted:

Seriously, 13 wounded armed cops equals urban warfare. That is, this means the opposition has several times more wounded.

Opposition politician Boris Nemtsov made the same comparison, lamenting the violence [ru]:

В Киеве продолжаются уличные бои. 9 убитых. 7- гражданских и два милиционера. И все потому что Янукович цепляется за власть и не хочет объявить досрочные выборы.

Urban warfare is continuing in Kiev. 9 killed. 7 civilians and 2 policemen. And all because [President] Yanukovich is hanging on to power and doesn't want to announce snap elections.

Vladimir Milov's second in command at DemVybor party, Kirill Shulika wrote [ru]:

Виноват, естественно, Янукович со своим маниакальным желанием удержать у власти группировку донецких бандитов. Да, можно говорить о вине оппозиции, но есть президент, который просто обязан не допускать этого. А если он уже не в состоянии контролировать ситуацию, ему надо уходить.

Of course Yanukovich is to blame, with his maniacal desire to maintain power for a group of Donetsk bandits. Yes, one can also fault the opposition, but there is a president who simply cannot not allow this [violence]. And if he can no longer control the situation, he should leave.

Some Ukrainians also tweeted in Russian. Singer Oleksandra Koltsova tweeted about the much-discussed split between Ukraine's Russian speaking East and EU-oriented West:

People in the east aren't “for Yanukovich.” They've also been robbed. They are also ready to trade him in for a better candidate, but they need concrete proposals and different faces [in the opposition leadership.]

In the end, though, RuNet discussions of the Ukrainian “problem” should remain online discussions, thinks Russian writer Maxim Kantor [ru]:

Началась украинская гражданская война. [...] Россия не должна участвовать в этой войне. Сегодняшнее украинское правительство дискредитировано, и его призыв о помощи (если будет) нельзя рассматривать как призыв народа. А народ ни о чем не просил.

The Ukrainian civil war has begun. [...] Russia should not participate in this war. The current Ukrainian government has lost credibility, and its call for help (if it happens) should not be seen as the voice of the people. And the people themselves haven't asked for anything.

Vladimir Putin, who reportedly ignored a recent phone-call from President Yanukovich, seems to be on same page.

Venezuelan Beauty Queen Dies from Gunshot Wound Received During Protests

Génesis Carmona, Venezuelan beauty queen, another victim of the political crisis.

Génesis Carmona, a young Venezuelan beauty queen and student, died [es] on the 19th of February from a bullet wound to the head that she received [es] the previous day during the anti-government protests.

This is how they transported the student Génesis Carmona who was shot in the head while protesting in Valencia.

@pabloaure in the Guerra Mendez clinic talking with the mother and another family member of Genesis Carmona who has a bullet wound to the head.

According to the specialists who treated her at the Dr. Rafael Guerra Méndez Clinic in the city of Valencia, Miss Tourism Carabobo 2013 was hit by the projectile in the right-hand side of the occipital lobe, which hosts the brain's visual centre. There was speculation that she would have lost her vision even if she had been able to recover.

Genesis Carmona (23) wounded by a bullet at the protest in Valencia comes out of the operating theatre, is now in intensive care.

A Caracas newspaper has published a collection of tweets [es] from the user Héctor Rotunda (@Hecalo), who narrates the events from the moment Génesis Carmona received the gunshot wound until her death. Rotunda was in the same part of the protest as the late beauty queen.

We were at the march in front of the Cedeño subway station. We heard a burst of gunfire and threw ourselves to the ground…

On Twitter the reactions of anguish and accusations continue. The Governor of the State of Carabobo, Francisco Ameliach, has been singled out as the main instigator of the attack on the protest in Valencia. A few days ago the Governor sent messages over Twitter that the protestors are now using to accuse him of inciting violence [es]. In the following tweet, for example, he mentions the UBCH [es], the Bolívar – Chávez Battle Units (Unidades de Batalla Bolívar – Chávez) of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV – Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela), the country's governing party.

UBCH get ready for the forceful counter-attack. Diosdado will give the order.

Diosdado Cabello is currently President of the National Assembly (Venezuelan Parliament).

Meanwhile the Member of Parliament Francisco Soteldo made a statement [es] to the media asking for justice for the death of Carmona:

Soteldo: “We demand justice for the death of Génesis Carmona”

Thus Carmona has become the fifth casualty in the protests that have been taking place in Venezuela.

February 19 2014

“Now is the Time for Men of Goodwill to Stand Up” in the Central African Republic

Andrew Harding on Africa Review reports on the courageous acts of a congregation in the shabby town of Boali, Central African Republic and notably one Father Xavier Fagba. The St Peter's Parish church has sheltered Muslims seeking sanctuary from ethnic cleansing perpetrated by anti balaka gangs:    

“Now is the time for men of goodwill to stand up and prove the strength and quality of their faith,” said Father Fagba, [..] ”When I did this, nobody in the community understood me. They attacked and threatened me.” The Muslims – about 650 in all – arrived at the church on January 16 and 17. ”The Muslims discovered in our church that the God we worship is the same as their God,” said Father Fagba.

On twitter, a hashtag #CARKindness reports the local acts of kindness amidst the unspeakable wave of violence that plagues the country. Here is another instance of such kindness:

Follow the Escalation of Ukraine's #Euromaidan Protests Live

This post is part of our Special Coverage Ukraine's #Euromaidan Protests.

Protests in Ukraine escalated to a deadly stand-off between hundreds of thousands of citizens and government forces in the evening of February 18. Roads to the city were blocked by authorities, and the metro in Kyiv were stopped. The main opposition TV channel reported being taken off air. Fierce clashes between police and protesters around the main square continued through the night. On February 19, the Kyiv Post reported that at least 25 people are dead and more than 1,000 are injured.

In the morning of February 18, 2014, Ukraine's opposition tried to register a bill in Parliament to bring back the old version of the country's Constitution, one that significantly limits presidential powers. The move was backed by the nearly three-months-old Euromaidan movement, which has been protesting daily in several cities throughout Ukraine demanding that the government of President Viktor Yanukovych step down. 

Ahead of the session, the protesters marched to the Parliament building. When the speaker of the parliament refused to register the bill, clashes broke out between the people and the police. MPs who support President Yanukovych had left the building, while the president himself was nowhere to be found. Police and special forces then stormed Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independance Square), the protesters’ stronghold.

A screencap from Maidan Nezalezhnosti [Independance Square] in central Kyiv, Ukraine. Feb. 19, 2014

A screenshot from Maidan Nezalezhnosti [Independance Square] in central Kyiv, Ukraine. Feb. 19, 2014

President Yanukovych has made a statement blaming the opposition for the violence and police crackdown. Overnight negotiations between the protesters and the government failed and protesters once again reclaimed Independence Square in Kyiv on February 19.

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso released a video statement regarding the latest developments in Ukraine and also tweeted:

Citizens and independent media still turning to Internet tools to cover what is happening on the ground and get the news of the atrocities happening in Ukraine to the rest of the world. Live streams of the clashes and protests from Kyiv are available on several online channels:

RFE/RL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObBHW8XQvUQ
Espreso-TV: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Y_LFrMcoEm4
SpilnoTV: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/16555296
HromadskeTV: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=dh3_1L9XO60
UkrStreamTV: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/16573315, http://www.ustream.tv/channel/17251372

Twitter is also a popular online venue for following updates directly from Kyiv. Global Voices has compiled a list of some of the Twitter accounts with English-language coverage of current events in Ukraine:

https://twitter.com/zeitonline/lists/ukraine
https://twitter.com/ckaratnytsky/lists/ukraine
https://twitter.com/juliacreinhart/lists/ukraine-russia
https://twitter.com/zeynep/lists/ukraine
https://twitter.com/rm867/lists/ukraine-euromaidan

Euromaidan volunteer translators are busier than ever, translating as many updates from the scene of the protests. The most popular blog and Facebook page is that of Maidan Translations:

http://maidantranslations.wordpress.com/
https://www.facebook.com/EuroMaydanTranslations

Updates from the organizers of the protests, dubbed Euromaidan headquarters, can be followed on their Facebook account in English:

https://www.facebook.com/euromaidanpr

February 18 2014

To Hell with the Games: Russians Turn from Sochi to Ukraine

A woman in Kiev reacts to the sight of two dead bodies (protesters killed in the violence). 18 February 2014. Screenshot from YouTube.

A woman in Kiev reacts to the sight of two dead bodies (protesters killed in the violence). 18 February 2014. Screenshot from YouTube.

Before the Sochi Winter Games kicked off less than two weeks ago, yours truly told US News & World Report that unrest in Ukraine might divert the attention of Russian Internet users from the Olympics. Today, after a relative lull, violence returned to Kiev’s streets, causing a dramatic shift in RuNet activity. Indeed, the images coming out of Ukraine depict something like a civil war.

While the news from Kiev is making headlines globally, comparative Twitter analytics demonstrate that today’s events in Ukraine galvanize Russian speakers to a degree distinct from the rest of the world. Indeed, in the last 24 hours on Twitter, Russian users’ interest in Ukraine has surpassed their attention on the Olympics. This reverses a trend in place since February 2, 2014, several days before even the opening ceremony, when Russians last tweeted more about Kiev than Sochi.

The trend among Anglophone Twitter users over the last month is similar, but interest in Sochi has always dominated. Even today, with Ukraine in flames, tweets about Kiev are just over half the more than 200 thousand tweets about the Winter Games.

While it’s no surprise that Internet users are drawn to the revolutionary display in Kiev, it is remarkable that the host of the Winter Olympics seems to have lost its home audience to a foreign event.

Russian-language tweets (click to enlarge):

Russian-language tweets about “maidan” or “kiev” (orange) versus tweets about “sochi” or the “olympics” (blue).

Russian-language tweets about “maidan” or “kiev” (orange) versus tweets about “sochi” or the “olympics” (blue).

English-language tweets (click to enlarge):

English-language tweets about “maidan” or “kiev” or “euromaidan” or

English-language tweets about “maidan” or “kiev” or “euromaidan” (orange) versus tweets about “sochi” or the “olympics” (blue).

Venezuelan Opposition Leader Leopoldo López Turns Himself in Amid Mass Demonstration

Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López has turned himself in to the National Guard forces, as he announced he would in the video [es] above.

López, the leader of the Voluntad Popular party, had an arrest warrant that was issued against him by a court in Caracas for allegedly being responsible for crimes related to the protests taking place in Venezuela.    

The massive demonstration where López turned himself in on February 18 was peaceful, with his followers shouting out [es] refrains supporting him. The following tweet contains a photo compilation of the demonstration and of López turning himself in to authorities in Caracas: 

Venezuela- February 18 demonstration

This video [es] captured the moment López handed himself in: 

And in this video [es] you can hear López addressing the crowd of protesters from the police armored car that would take him to the Venezuelan Public Prosecutor's Office.

Up until the moment that the Spanish version of this post was written, people were still on the streets protesting [es].

February 17 2014

Nepal Airlines Plane Crashes Killing All 18 On Board

Image from Wikimedia Commons by Wolfgang Soshin Drechsler. CC BY-SA 3.0

A De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter of Nepal Airlines, similar to the aircraft involved in the accident. Image from Wikimedia Commons by Wolfgang Soshin Drechsler. CC BY-SA 3.0

An ill-fated Twin Otter plane crashed on 16 February 2014 killing all 18 on board in the forests of Masine in mid-western Nepal.

The wreckage of the state-owned Nepal Airlines Corporation plane which went missing after 1 p.m. Nepal Standard Time (NST) on Sunday and was found on Monday morning by local youths who had been there to play with the snow, reports Nepali online newspaper Setopati. The aircraft may have hit a mountain, which caused the crash.

Medico, a medical doctor from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), tweeted:

Sad news. What had to happen, got to know the same. All 18 aboard the Nepal Airlines Corporation plane died.

Journalist Bhabasagar Ghimire tweeted an earlier picture of the plane:

On 24 April 2010 the plane was to ferry a patient to Nepalgunj from Jumla airport.

The plane was 43 years old and was carrying 15 passengers and 3 crew members, blog Mysansar reported. Among them were a Danish national and a child. The aeroplane was scheduled to be decommissioned in 2014.

Rajan Bhattarai from Germany tweeted:

The weather throughout the country was very bad on the day the plane crashed:

The ones who permitted to fly the plane in such weather should be jailed.

Although being old, the plane had had only one incident of slipping on the runway of Jumla airport on 25 June 1992. The plane was also hijacked by Congress workers 40 years ago to loot the 30 lakhs of Indian rupees (about 4,800 US dollars) that the plane was carrying, reported Mysansar.

The Nepalese aviation industry has seen a huge number of accidents in the recent years, with two fatal plane crashes each year from 2010 to 2012. The European Union has banned all airlines from Nepal to fly into the 28 European nations.

Social media was awash with the news about the crash and condolence messages. Former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai tweeted:

Pyasi tweeted:

[They say] a lot of courage is needed to scale Mount Everest. Seems thousand times more courage is needed to travel in a Nepali plane.

Indeed, the air journeys in Nepali skies seem more dangerous with the recent air accidents.

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