Thursday, August 21, 2014

Video Stalin Tower Painted In Ukrainian Blue And Yellow

A Moscow city worker takes a selfie while atop the Kotelnicheskaya Embankment building in Moscow to remove the Ukrainian flag mounted there overnight on August 19-20. The hammer-and-sickled star and laurel wreath was also painted in Ukrainian colors.

MOSCOW – In the latest act of solidarity with Ukraine in Russia, a group of people have apparently scaled the heights of one of Moscow’s iconic Stalin-era skyscrapers, hoisted a Ukrainian flag over it, and painted the Soviet star at its peak yellow and blue.

The incident took place under cover of darkness in the early morning hours of August 20 at a massive 32-floor elite apartment building on the Kotelnicheskaya Embankment in downtown Moscow in the vicinity of both the Kremlin and the Federal Security Service headquarters.
It is not yet clear who was behind the stunt, although police have reportedly arrested four young Russians with climbing gear, all of them believed to be residents of Moscow and the surrounding region. 

To hoist the flag and paint the star, the climbers presumably would have had to scale the 176-meter building -- or find another way to reach its peak. 

An unidentified Moscow police official told the Interfax news agency that the group used "an internal staircase" to reach the top floor of the building and then used "special equipment" to reach its spire.  

A video posted by various Russian media purports to show one of the pranksters parachuting down from the height of the Stalin-era building after daybreak. 

WATCH: A Ukrainian Flag Flies High In Moscow

The detained quartet deny their guilt, according to press reports. An unidentified police official told the ITAR-TASS agency that the group claims they were simply thrill seekers and had nothing to do with the stunt. "The two young men and two girls say they jumped from a high building with parachutes. They say they didn't hoist any flag and didn't paint the flag," the official said. 

Some media reports suggested that the perpetrator might be the Ukrainian stunt daredevil Mustang Wanted. But he has denied involvement on his Facebook page. 

Despite the confusion, the caper was welcomed by liberal bloggers, many of whom have watched uneasily for months as the Kremlin has annexed Ukrainian territory and supported a separatist uprising in its east. 

"It's the beginning of change," a Twitter user with the handle "Reincarnation" tweeted on the microblogging site. 

Here are some more tweets from the scene.


The incident marks the latest in a series of acts of solidarity with Kyiv in Russia, despite the patriotic fervor that accompanied Moscow's annexation of Crimea and support for the separatist insurgency. 
In other examples, some opposition activists have taken to singing the Ukrainian national anthem when they are arrested. 
Last week, Andrei Makarevich, front man for the popular band "Mashina Vremeni" (Time Machine) traveled to eastern Ukraine where he performed for internally displaced children, a move that saw him branded as a "traitor" by Russian lawmakers and pro-establishment musicians.
After Malaysia Airlines MH17, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down in rebel-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine, the liberal opposition "Novaya gazeta" newspaper ran the controversial cover page: "Forgive Us Netherlands." The majority of the 298 people killed on MH17 were Dutch.

And the popular Russian rapper and songwriter Noize MC also performed last week at a music festival in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, with a Ukrainian flag, drawing accusations in Russia of "betraying" his homeland. 

"I went to the edge of the stage and a girl in the crowd gave me a yellow-blue flag," Noize MC, whose real name is Ivan Alekseyev, wrote on his VKontakte page. 

"As a token of friendship between our peoples...I of course took it."

Alekseyev added that by playing in Ukraine, and accepting the flag, he "wanted to show that our people are brothers and friends. What we do not need is to fear and hate each other." He added: "I've never danced to the tune of the state, no matter what kind of state it was. I am for the people." 

It is unclear whether the detained climbers will be charged with vandalism.
According to an online poll conducted by the liberally oriented Ekho Moskvy radio station, 74 percent they should be released provided they repaint the star.

In a post on his Facebook page, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko lauded the stunt, which came just days before his country celebrates Independence Day on August 24. 

"On the eve of Independence Day we are starting an initiative called 'Our Colors,' which is devoted to the Ukrainian flag," Poroshenko wrote. 

"And it is symbolic that, on this day, our colors have been painted on what is perhaps the greatest skyscraper in Moscow. I urge Ukrainians throughout the world, wherever they are, on the eve of the anniversary of our independence, to decorate their homes, offices, and cars in our national colors."

-- Tom Balmforth

Separatist Commander 'Strelkov' Bans Cursing

An Orthodox priest blesses pro-Russian separatist commander Igor Strelkov (left) during a religious service in the eastern city of Donetsk on July 10.

With the Ukrainian army making gains against pro-Russian separatists, the leader of the rebels has issued an urgent order.

Stop cursing.

"We call ourselves an Orthodox Christian army," Igor Girgkin says in the decree. And besides, "Foul words do not have a Russian origin and were used by Russia's enemies for the desecration of holy places."

Girkin, who goes by the nom-de-guerre Strelkov, or "Shooter," has told reporters that he served in the Russian Security Service until March 2013.

Kyiv says he is working for Russian military intelligence and was sent to Ukraine to stir discord. He has been accused of ordering abductions and executions.

Whether separatist fighters -- who appear to be retreating to the rebel stronghold of Donetsk as the Ukrainian army advances -- will follow Girkin's order is an open question, but some who have reported on the men appear dubious.

Girkin, though, is emphatic.

Apparently tying cursing to Ukrainian, Girkin closes the decree by claiming it is "forbidden to use the Russian language of the enemy soldier. It demeans us spiritually and leads an army to defeat."

-- Glenn Kates

The Week Ahead: July 28 - August 3

July 31: A public inquiry into the death of Russian ex-spy and fierce Kremlin critic Aleksandr Litvinenko begins in London.

The Week Ahead is a detailed listing of key events of the coming week affecting RFE/RL's broadcast region.
Now on Twitter! Daily updates at @The_Week_Ahead.

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MONDAY, July 28:
Belarus/Poland: Minsk hosts Belarus-Poland ministerial consultations
Italy/Serbia/Montenegro: Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini visits Belgrade and Podgorica
U.S./Georgia/Moldova/Ukraine: National Endowment for Democracy in Washington hosts a discussion titled "Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova: How Corruption Threatens the Eastern Partnership."
TUESDAY, July 29:
EU/Russia: The Council’s Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) is set to go through the legislative proposals of broader sanctions on Russia.
Kyrgyzstan/CSTO: The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) six member-states -- Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan -- take part in the "Enduring Brotherhood - 2014" joint military exercises in Ala-Too mountains, near Bishkek.
Tajikistan: Dushanbe hosts a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) foreign ministers meeting (to July 31).
U.S./IraqThe Heritage Foundation in Washington hosts a discussion titled "The Iraq Meltdown: What Next?"
THURSDAY, July 31:
FRIDAY, August 1:
Moldova/EU: Moldova is set to begin exporting its fruits to the European market.
Russia: A new law that would subject popular bloggers to the same restrictions as traditional media goes into effect.

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The Week Ahead: July 21-27

July 24: The Moscow City Court is scheduled to announce the verdict in the case against opposition activists Sergei Udaltsov and Leonid Razvozzhayev, who face charges of organizing riots in May 2012.

The Week Ahead is a detailed listing of key events of the coming week affecting RFE/RL's broadcast region.
Now on Twitter! Daily updates at @The_Week_Ahead.

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MONDAY, July 21:
Malaysia/Ukraine: Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman visits Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian leaders over the investigation into the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine. 
Russia/MoldovaRussian ban on imports of fruit from Moldova takes effect.
UN: The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to vote on an Australia-proposed resolution demanding international access to the Ukraine plane crash site and a cease-fire around the area.
TUESDAY, July 22:

EU/Eastern Partnership: Brussels hosts an Eastern Partnership foreign ministers meeting.
Poland: Warsaw hosts a meeting of presidents of Bulgaria, Romania, the Baltic states, and the Visegrad Group countries.
Ukraine: Lviv hosts the Ukrainian Super Cup soccer match between Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kyiv.
U.S./Ukraine: Wilson Center in Washington hosts a discussion titled "The Impact of Ukraine in the Neighborhood."
UK/Iran: Chatham House in London hosts a discussion titled "Iran: Deal Done?"
THURSDAY, July 24:
RussiaThe Moscow City Court is scheduled to announce the verdict in the case against opposition activists Sergei Udaltsov and Leonid Razvozzhayev, who face charges of organizing riots in May 2012.
UK/Ukraine: Chatham House in London hosts a discussion titled "Referendums and Ethnic Violence: Voting in Ukraine."
UN: Tokyo hosts a global launch of the 2014 Human Development Report.

Tags:calendar of events, radio free europe, radio liberty

Images And Memories: Tell Us Your Ukraine Story

In September, our correspondent Daisy Sindelar will be traveling through Ukraine to talk to people about their old family photographs -- images of grandparents and great-grandparents, weddings, family homes, military service, formal portraits or casual moments. Anything that tells a story about your family and its unique roots. The end result, we hope, will be a country-wide visual portrait of the complex history behind modern-day Ukraine, and the diverse range of people who consider it home. 

Participating in the project is simple: We will come to you, so neither you nor your photographs need to leave the house (or wherever you'd like to meet). 

Do you have photographs and memories you'd like to share with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty? Please fill out this questionnaire so we know how to find you! (Feel free to answer in the language you're most comfortable with. All of the information you submit is private.) 

The Week Ahead: July 14-20

U.K. - Chechen journalist and activist Natalia Estemirova poses at the Front Line Club in London October 4, 2007. Estemirova was awarded the first annual Anna Politkovskaya award for women defenders of human rights in war in London on Thursday. REUTERS/D

The Week Ahead is a detailed listing of key events of the coming week affecting RFE/RL's broadcast region.
Now on Twitter! Daily updates at @The_Week_Ahead.

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MONDAY, July 14:
Azerbaijan/Italy: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev visits Rome.
EU: European Parliament's Plenary Session opens in Strasbourg (to July 17).
Georgia/France: Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili visits Paris.
Iraq/TurkeyThe president of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, Masud Barzani, is due to meet Turkish leaders in Ankara.
U.S./Ukraine: The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in Washington hosts a discussion titled "Ukraine: The Maidan and Beyond."
WorldMalala Day.
TUESDAY, July 15:
Brazil/BRICS: Brazil hosts a summit of leaders from the BRICS nations: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (to July 16).
Japan/Kyrgyzstan/Ukraine: Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida visits Bishkek and Kyiv (to July 18).
EU: The European Parliament votes on whether to confirm Jean-Claude Juncker for the presidency of the European Commission.
EU/UkraineEuropean Parliament holds debates in Strasbourg on the situation in Ukraine.
U.S./Moldova: U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations holds hearing on the nomination of James Pettit as U.S. ambassador to Moldova. 

EU/Iraq: European Parliament holds debates in Strasbourg on the situation in Iraq.
THURSDAY, July 17:

EUEuropean Parliament is scheduled to adopt motions for resolutions on the situations in Iraq and Ukraine.
FRIDAY, July 18:
EU/Georgia: EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fuele visits Tbilisi.
UK/Azerbaija/Russia: Chatham House in London hosts a discussion titled "Investing in Azerbaijan and Russia."
SUNDAY, July 20:
Belarus: The 20th anniversary of Alyaksandr Lukashenka becoming President of Belarus.
Iran: The deadline to reach a permanent accord on the Iranian nuclear program.

Wolrd: International AIDS conference begins in Melbourne (to July 25).

Tags:calendar of events, radio free europe, radio liberty

The Week Ahead: July 7-13

July 13: The soccer World Cup final takes place in Rio de Janeiro.

The Week Ahead is a detailed listing of key events of the coming week affecting RFE/RL's broadcast region.
Now on Twitter! Daily updates at @The_Week_Ahead.

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MONDAY, July 7:
Armenia: Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian visits Argentina (to July 8).
Georgia/RussiaGeorgian and Russian diplomats meet in Prague to discuss trade and economic relations. 
NATO/U.S.NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen visits Washington, meets on July 8 with U.S. President Barack Obama to discuss the events in Ukraine (to July 9).
Russia/Bulgaria: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visits Sofia to discuss the South Stream gas pipeline project.
Serbia/Russia: Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic visits Moscow (to July 8).
Ukraine: Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini visits Kyiv.
TUESDAY, July 8:
Armenia: Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian visits Uruguay (to July 10).
Georgia: UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in Geneva reviews Georgia.
Media: "The Wall Street Journal" celebrates its 125th anniversary.

Russia: Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini visits Moscow (to July 10).
Slovenia/RussiaRussia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visits Maribor to discuss the South Stream gas pipeline project.

THURSDAY, July 10:
Armenia: Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian visits Chile (to July 12).
BelarusInternational arts festival Slavianski Bazaar opens in Vitebsk (to July 14).
EU/Balkans: Dubrovnik hosts the 2014 Croatia Summit, with the participation of senior European officials and think-tank representatives (to July 12).
Georgia: The UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva is scheduled to review Georgia (to July 11).
UK/Russia: Chatham House in London hosts a discussion titled "The Eurasian Economic Union in the New International Context."
FRIDAY, July 11:
EU/Russia/Ukraine: Brussels hosts a three-party ministerial meeting.
Russia/Cuba: Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Cuba.
UkraineOdessa International Film Festival opens (to July 19).
UK/Ukraine: Chatham House in London hosts a discussion titled "Ukraine Crisis: The International Law Perspective."

SATURDAY, July 12:
Russia/Argentina: Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Buenos Aires.
SUNDAY, July 13:
ArmeniaInternational film festival Golden Apricot opens in Yerevan (to July 20).
Brazil: The sixth summit of heads of state and of government of BRICS countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
Brazil: The soccer World Cup final takes place in Rio de Janeiro.
Montenegro: Statehood Day.
Serbia:  U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland is scheduled to visit Belgrade.

Russia/BrazilRussian President Vladimir Putin makes an official visit to Brazil (to July 16).

Tags:calendar of events, radio free europe, radio liberty

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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