Thursday, July 30, 2009

What a hypocrite..

Partriarch Kirill, in an extended TV appearance on Ukrainian television on Tuesday, spoke of the dangers of a consumerist society, the dangers of rampant greed, the fleeting satisfaction of acquiring expensive material goods and baubles..the sinfulness of inequality of wealth in society...impetuous consumption..and so on..

" is very important to learn Christian аsceticism," he said. "Аsceticism is not about living in a cave, аsceticism is also an ability to regulate ideas and the condition of the heart. Asceticism is the victory of a person over lust, over passions, over instinct. And it is important, that this quality be possessed by both rich and poor.. we should learn to control our instincts, our passions. And then the civilisation which we will construct will not be a consumer[ist] civilization..."

p.s. asceticism - "an austere, simple way of life in which persons renounce material pleasures and devote their energy to moral or religious purpose"

p.p.s. - see previous post..

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Give us today our daily bread... and a $30K wristwatch..

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia is currently on a lengthy and controversial visit to Ukraine.

It seems he likes expensive wristwatches..

p.s. President Barack Obama's favourite watch costs about 100 times less...

p.p.s. is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Russian bikers 'invade' Crimea - with Putin's blessing

A couple of days ago I read good piece of analysis from a recent "Harvard International Review", by Andreas Umland. [Thanks UkrToday] It includes this passage:

" 2008, the Moscow leadership demonstrated in Georgia – not the least to Kiev - that it is prepared to use military force to defend vital interests in her "near abroad." Many Russian politicians have let it be known, in public, that the Crimea’s majority Russian ethnic makeup places the peninsula within Moscow's natural sphere of influence. Some even see Crimea as a part of Russia's historic territory."

Today 'Segodnya' carries this article which I've loosely translated:

"Biker's rally in Crimea seen off by a leather-jacketed Putin

Russian bikers stage their [motorcycle] rally in Sevastopol

Russian bikers held the main event of the Russian motorcycle world calendar, their 13th [annual] biker show, for the first time, in Crimea. For many years, with support of the authorities and hundreds admirers, its home had been in the Kaliningrad region of Russia where it had become a huge event. This year it was decided to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Sevastopol and stage it in Crimea, where up to about 7 thousand bikers took part.

Besides Ukrainians, and organizers of the event - Russians, children from many countries also participated. From Russia they brought a flag which was handed to them by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. In general the dominant theme of the rally was ideological. Appeals for unity of all Slavs were constantly aired, including during a performance on stage by well-known Russian 'rocker' Konstantin Kintchev.

The leader of one of Russian biker gangs, Andrey Septenok, nicknamed Hans, shared his impressions of the event with 'Segodnya'. "We left Moscow on July7th. Putin himself came to the biker centre to see us off. He appeared in a leather jacket and 'shades'. He wrote a card of greeting and presented us with a flag. It lifted everyone's spirits! We travelled for three days to Sevastopol - through Kursk, Belgorod, Zaporozhye arriving on the night of the 10th in Sevastopol.

A stage was set up there. We had bought tickets for 400 roubles earlier at home, for the concert. In the evening we pitched a tent with the children. The concert was brilliant: Kintchev and his Alisa, "Aria", "The King and the Clown", and "Vopli Vidoplyasova". Then they showed a war chronicle film about the liberation of Sevastopol. I'm an old biker, but it's the first time I saw so many people".

The 'Segodyna' piece is illustrated with a photo entitled: "Friendship. Russian and Ukrainian flags [well, one anyway] fluttered over the bikers. "

The story just makes LEvko feel a bit uneasy..

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ukraine's good fortune

Worth reading: this excellent piece from the FT's Chrystia Freeland entitled: "Russia’s free media find a haven in Ukraine"

Here's a portion:

"The Kremlin sees Ukraine’s diverse and messy political culture as an exploitable weakness – and many Ukrainians and their western supporters despairingly agree. But, in separate conversations, the Russian journalistic refugees all argued that Ukraine’s regional divisions were the essential underpinning of its democracy, and the chief reason the country had diverged from Russia’s neo-authoritarian path.

“I don’t idealise the Ukrainian political class,” Kisiliev told me. “There are as many cynical, corrupt politicians here who would spit on democratic values as in Russia. But Ukraine’s good fortune is that, because of history, culture and geography, Ukraine is divided into a few big regions, each of which has its own culture and politics. These are also the zones of influence of various financial groups. None of those groups has the financial or electoral power to monopolise power – which happened in Russia, where Gazprom and the St Petersburg Chekists [the cabal of former KGB officers associated with Putin] usurped all political power.”

Central to this view of diversity as a fuel for democracy is the exiles’ confidence that all of Ukraine’s elites – including the Russian-speaking eastern ones – are committed to Ukrainian statehood. “The idea of a pro-Russian line in Ukrainian politics is a myth – they are all pro-Ukrainian now,” Kagalovsky said. Yet in the Kremlin, that “myth” is at the heart of policy towards Ukraine. Moscow takes as its starting point the idea that the two countries occupy a connected, if not common, cultural and social space. From there it is a short step to the Putin regime’s conviction that the two countries’ political paths should likewise run in parallel."

Friday, July 10, 2009

UK parliamentary defence committee says, "Get tough with Russia"

"However desirable co-operation with Russia may be, it should not come at the price of accepting the legitimacy of a Russian sphere of influence.." More here

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Ruling elite secure outside of the law

Members of the ruling elite, have recently been allegedly involved in major criminal acts, including a possible brutal murder, but are quick to accuse each other of flouting law.

President Yushchenko's son, Andriy allegedly recently repeatedly fired a hand gun in the direction of a former deputy minister of emergency affairs after a night-time road traffic altercation.

This is not the first time he has been involved in such an incident. Just over three years ago a member of Kyiv's prosecutor's office was allegedly assaulted and shot at by Andriy and his bodyguard, also following a road traffic carve-up.