Stories from Quick Reads and Ukraine
Ukrainian graffiti and street art, previously visible mostly to Ukrainians and tourists walking the streets of Ukrainian cities, is now available to Internet users across the globe. Google Art Project, an extensive online collection of works of art of different genres and periods, curated by the Google Cultural Institute, now features a collection of Ukrainian street art.
Street art first appeared on Google Art Project in June 2014, and today the website features over 10 000 high resolution works of street art from 86 artistic collectives in 34 countries. The newly added Ukrainian works come from participants of “Respublica,” an international street art festival, and add to an extensive collection of captured images in an attempt to archive graffiti and murals before they disappear.
Стріт-арт перетворює вулиці міст у відкриті галереї. На жаль, ця форма мистецтва є дуже ефемерною – вона може існувати сьогодні, а вже завтра зникне назавжди. За допомогою Google Art Project ми намагаємось зберегти вуличні шедеври та зробити їх доступними для всіх.
Street art turns the city streets into open galleries. Unfortunately, this art form is rather ephemeral—it can exist today, and be gone forever tomorrow. With Google Art Project, we try to preserve the street masterpieces and make them accessible to everyone.
IP addresses inside the Russian government continue to be active on Wikipedia, where a computer at the Russian Secret Service, the FSO, revised the German entry for Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, changing the word “separatists” into “rebels.” The Twitter bot @RuGovEdits, which automatically logs all Wikipedia edits made from Russian government IP addresses, caught five separate attempts by an FSO computer this morning to make the “rebels” language stick. The effort failed. German Wikipedia editors reverted the article's language to the original text, every time.
According to a report [uk] by RFE/RL (Radio Free Europe), heads of district police departments in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv have been ordered to set up Facebook profiles. As of June 25, 2014, all of them can be found and contacted through the social network, which the Head of the Lviv Regional Department of the Ministry of Interior believes will ensure prompt reaction [uk] of law enforcement officials towards reports from citizens.
Public trust towards law enforcement institutions in Ukraine has reached an all time low during the recent public uprisings, known as #Euromaidan. After a consequent change of government, the new Minister of Interior Arsen Avakov has led a practice of publicly reporting on his activities through a personal Facebook profile [ru], which has been received positively by a large audience.
Angie Ramos guest blogs [es] at Tintero Político about the crisis in Ukraine and after analyzing different key factors involved concludes with the reaction of the internacional community:
The thing is, the international community, facing cases like this one, acts subjectively as it depends on the magnitude of the interests involved to support or express rejection to some interventionism in various countries. Is it that some countries have privileges for the international community? For instance, in the case of the conflict between Great Britain and Argentina regarding Falkland Islands, a referendum carried out on the population, where 98% of the population voted for staying under Great Britain's administration, received support, while in Crimea, there is no will for acknowleding the legality of the process.
A group of artists in Kiev has opened a new exhibit that many Russians are calling dangerously xenophobic. Yesterday, April 24, 2014, the “Ukrainian Cultural Front” presented four interactive installations intended to criticize Russia for its opposition to the EuroMaidan movement and its interventions in southeastern Ukraine. The most controversial exhibit (titled “Beware of Russians!”) featured three homely-looking men trapped behind a fence, dressed as stereotypical Russians. (One man wore a tracksuit, another donned military camouflage, and a third sat on a flattened cardboard box, playing the balalaika and begging for spare change.) Posted on different sides of the fence were signs like those one finds at a zoo, reading “Beware of Occupiers!” and “Please Do Not Feed!”
The art exhibit was in such obvious bad taste, many Russians seem to believe, that several of the RuNet's most vocal patriotic bloggers simply reposted photos from the installation, not even bothering to specify their objections. Of course, many others found it necessary to articulate the dangers of Russophobia. Publicist Dmitry Olshansky, whose Facebook texts are among the Russian blogosphere's most vociferously pro-intervention, wrote threateningly that the “motor” of today's conflict between Russia and Ukraine rests entirely on “Ukraine's certainty that Russians will never respond to anything.”
On March 25, 2014 designer and one of the most popular RuNet bloggers, Tema Lebedev, announced on his blog that his design studio, ArtLevedev created the logo for the “2014, a Year of Culture” project, commissioned by the Russian government:
Shortly after, one of his readers posted a comment [ru] to his blog, with the logo jokingly photoshoped to look like a swastika:
This image was in picked up by Ukrainian Twitter user Katya Avramchuk, who posted it saying that this was the actual logo designed by Lebedev's studio:
Студия Артемия Лебедева (Эркен Кагаров) разработала логотип Года культуры в России pic.twitter.com/yJLKRFn6zE
— The Avramchuk Post (@avramchuk_katya) March 25, 2014
Artemiy Lebedev's studio (Erken Kagarov) designed the logo for Russia's year of culture.
From here, the Tweet was re-posted [ru] by popular Russian-language Ukrainian Twitter @euromaidan, which tweeted it without attribution. This post has been re-tweeted 389 times. No trace of the original (funny or not) joke remains, just another entry into a name-calling “Who is the bigger Nazi” contest between Russians and Ukrainians.
As anti-government protests that started on November 21, 2013, burden Ukrainian life today, a vintage photo blog takes a look back on another harsh period of the country's history – through 52 amazing color photographs [photo] of everyday life in Ukraine in 1942.
In 1942, like many other European countries, Ukraine was under Nazi occupation. As InfoUkes reminds readers:
Hitler appointed the Nazi philosopher Alfred Rosenberg (1893-1946) head of the Ostministerium (East Ministry) in charge of administering the territory of Ukraine. Before the war Rosenberg was pro-Ukrainian and anti-Muscovite (Russian). He planned to establish a Greater Ukraine state taking territory from Western Russia. However, Hitler had a different idea. He thought Ukrainians should get no preferential treatment and personally appointed Erich Koch to rule Reichskommissariat Ukraine (eastern Ukraine) with an iron fist.
Koch, as a member of the superior German Herrenvolk master race, started a reign of terror and oppression in Ukraine. Koch often said that the Ukrainian people were inferior to the Germans, that Ukrainians were half-monkeys, and that Ukrainians “must be handled with the whip like the negroes.” He once said that “no German soldiers would die for these niggers [Ukrainians].”
The photos on Vintage Everyday, however, show a different side of the story. However cruel the times, people have a tendency to do everything in their power to lead normal lives, even in a Nazi-occupied Ukraine and with World War II raging on all fronts.
In Ukraine, several filmmakers united to produce a video chronology of the events that came to be known as the Euromaidan protests. “BABYLON'13”, named after a bar in which the filmmakers came up with the idea for the project, is a collection of short documentaries reflecting the development of the mass protests and particular incidents during the rallies.
Scholars and researchers of the Russian Internet can rejoice this week, for Russia's leading search engine, Yandex.ru, is now the second website in the world, after Bing in the United States, to gain access to Facebook firehose data [ru]. This means that Yandex can now search Facebook's streaming API and provide live results for all public posts. The new deal with Facebook is limited to users based in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Turkey. Currently, only Yandex's blogs-specific search feature is capable of returning Facebook results, but the company's spokesperson told TechCrunch on January 13, 2014, that Yandex hopes to incorporate Facebook links in its general Internet search results soon.
As the world watches Russian soldiers and Russian-backed separatists occupy Ukrainian administration buildings, cities, and even an entire peninsula, a group of Ukrainian hackers is fighting back by launching an invasion of their own.
Since this summer, Ukrainian hacker Yevgeniy Dokukin and his group of fellow computer pros calling themselves Ukrainian Cyber Forces have carried out “Operation Bond, James Bond,” in which they leaked web camera and security footage from Crimea, separatist-held areas of eastern Ukraine, and even government offices in Russia. Dokukin and the Ukrainian Cyber Forces have been leaking videos from cameras for months now, including a video supposedly from a separatist base in Donetsk.
A few weeks ago, Dokukin and his allies took up new weapons in their cyberwar: printers. In a series of Facebook posts, Dokukin has explained how, after accessing private WiFi networks, the Ukrainian Cyber Forces were able to print documents on vulnerable networked printers in various offices in Crimea and separatist-held areas in eastern Ukraine, and were now trying to do the same in Russian networks.
— MustLive (@MustLiveUA) December 8, 2014
#UkrainianCyberForces have begun occupying networked printers in Donbas and in Crimea.
As Dokukin told RuNet Echo, he sees the wasted ink and paper in Russia as a variant on Ukraine’s own “economic sanctions” aimed at its neighbor. The messages appearing on these printers vary, but they share a common theme:
Якщо ваш мережевий принтер передасть “вітання Путіну” чи надрукує “Слава Україні!” та інші цікаві надписи, то знайте, що він під нашим контролем.
If your network printer passes along “greetings to Putin” or prints “Glory to Ukraine!” or other interesting messages, then you know that it is under our control.
Not all of Dokukin’s printer messages were meant to be confrontational. Recently, the Ukrainian Cyber Forces accessed an open network printer in Canada—an especially strong ally of Ukraine throughout the ongoing crisis—and printed the message “Thanks for supporting Ukraine!” in English.
As Russia increases its support of information warfare, including slick redesigns of its news agencies and propping up fake Ukrainian news sites, Ukrainian Cyber Forces are taking the trolling and information war to their opponents—and their offices—more directly.
Ukraine's new foreign minister, Pavlo Klimkin, is in hot water on the Russian Internet today, where bloggers are drawing attention to his first subscriptions on Twitter. RuNet users have noticed that some of the first accounts Klimkin chose to follow are US politicians John McCain and Mitt Romney, the neoconservative American think tanks the Foreign Policy Institute and the Lugar Center, and the US State Department itself. Serving a new government in Kiev that Moscow regularly accuses of kowtowing to Washington, Klimkin has provided critics of Ukraine with fresh ammunition in the information war between Russia and the West.
A Russian chocolate company in Novosibirsk has released a new candy bar called “The Crimea” with the slogan, “Just try to grab it!” A product announcement shared with the press features a super-hero character wearing the colors of the Russian flag, standing before a map of Crimea, with the following tagline:
Даже в то время, когда страна принимает непростые решения, мы не перестаем улыбаться. Потому что мы—Россияне!
Even in times when the country is making difficult decisions, we never stop smiling. That's because we are Russians!
The company responsible for this new confection, “Chocolate Traditions,” has produced other specially themed sweets. Earlier this year, it announced a fudge bar called “the Viagra.” There are also several holiday-themed candy collections, for Victory Day, Women's Day, and so on. One kilogram (2.2 pounds) of the Crimea chocolates costs 130 rubles (about $4).
Russian Internet users have showed great interest in the new Crimea-themed candy bar. According to Yandex's blogs search engine, the past few hours have seen over a thousand posts on the subject. Many Russians have noticed that the chocolate bars expire after ten months, leading several bloggers to joke that Russia's occupation of Crimea won't last another year.
В российских конфетах “Крым – а ну-ка, отбери” срок годности 10 месяцев. В январе Крым вновь станет украинским. pic.twitter.com/10y2Zhd4uu
— Льовочкинъ (@slevo4kin) June 5, 2014
The Russian candy “Crimea—just try to grab it” has a shelf life of 10 months. In January, Crimea will become Ukrainian again.
Bloggers in Ukraine are turning to the Internet to publish the locations of troops in the country’s southeast, where the army is in the midst of a massive “counter-terrorist” operation against militants who have seized control of parts of major cities. A group called “Military Maps” on the Russian social network Vkontakte has created an application that allows any user to mark the location of soldiers and military hardware on maps of Ukraine. The service appears to be the work of separatist sympathizers hoping to provide rebel combatants with tactical intelligence.
Друзья! Не забываем! pic.twitter.com/bht8Thd8sA
— ЄВРОМАЙДАН (@euromaidan) April 17, 2014
“Friends! We won't forget!” [Image reads, “Attention: Ukraine's Ministry of Defense asks Internet-users to remain silent about the movements of Ukrainian army troops.”]
The accuracy and timeliness of “Military Maps” is questionable, but some Ukrainian bloggers are taking the threat seriously, spreading a message from the country’s defense ministry warning against discussing online the army’s movements. As early as mid-March this year, the Ukrainian government has cautioned citizens against revealing such information on the Internet. In mid-April, the mega-popular Twitter account “euromaidan” disseminated the same message again (see above), collecting nearly 900 retweets and favorites. Now, as Odessa slips into apparent anarchy and Kiev’s soldiers battle their way into cities throughout the southeast, bloggers are again calling on people to avoid posting about troop movements.
“Is Crimea referendum a good model for Africa?” asks Richard Dowden:
Africa’s arbitrary borders, mostly drawn by people who had never set foot in the continent, have always been an obvious target for renegotiation. But Africa’s first rulers, who foresaw chaos and disintegration if the nation states were reconfigured, ruled it out. “Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each State” was one of the founding principles of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the forerunner of the African Union. Despite all the wars, internal and external, this principle has been pretty much adhered to by both presidents and people.
Loyalty to an African state is not always related to the ability of that state to make the lives of its people better. Patriotism, an emotional thing, does not take these benefits into account, even in countries where the majority of citizens are marginalised or oppressed by the government. Even in the catastrophic recent meltdown of South Sudan after just two years of independence, no one is advocating return to rule from Khartoum. In the dying days of Mobutu’s Zaire (now the DRC) I was astonished to find that people felt it to be a great country. I asked why Katanga, the rich south east province, didn’t secede – as it had in 1960. My suggestion was greeted with shocked surprise.
Over the past several hours rumors [uk] have spread [ru] through [ru] the Russian Internet claiming that Alexander Muzychko, second-in-command to Ukraine's ultra-nationalist “Right Sector” leader Dmytro Yarosh, was gunned down near the Western Ukrainian city of Rivno. Muzychko had earlier posted a YouTube video [ru] claiming he had information that he was going to be eliminated by Ukrainian security forces. If his death, yet unconfirmed, is true, it will be unclear who to blame — too many people have reasons to take him out of the picture. A Chechen blogger, Zulikhan Magomadova [ru], writing in Russian, blamed the Kremlin for the assassination, with the motive of fomenting civil war in Ukraine. Muzychko fought along side Chechen separatists during the first Chechen war. Magomadova ended with “Sleep well, our dear brother-in-arms. We will avenge you.”
The popular Maidan Translations blog republished a Facebook post by Dmitry Tymchuk, Head of the Ukrainian Center for Military-Political Studies, that describes several alleged international violations and “irregular actions” since late February 2014. Tymchuk begin this run-down by saying:
For instance, on February 28, at 8.45 a.m. the flight of more than 10 military helicopters was monitored by the technical observation post located on the cape of Takil from the direction of the Russian Federation to Ukraine.
Three helicopters (two KA-27 and one Mi-8) landed at the Kacha airport and passed through the border and customs established procedures according to an application made preliminarily. The rest of the helicopters came down near the airport; herewith, there was no answer received on the border detail chief’s appeal concerning the necessity of passing the established formalities by these helicopters, which arrived without a preliminary made application in violation of relevant agreement.
The chief of the border detail of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine made a statement of Ukrainian border violation by aforementioned helicopters.
Ucrainica Marginalis published an overview of the four largest misconceptions about #Euromaidan, written by scholars Sofiya Grachova & Stephen A. Walsh. What this overview points out is the vast gap between how international media and outside spectators view what is happening and the message that Ukrainians involved in Euromaidan protests are trying to get across to their government and the world.
Listed as the largest misconceptions are:
Misconception #1: Ukraine is divided between east and west.
Misconception #2: Ukrainian protests are about joining the EU.
Misconception #3: Protest forces in Ukraine are dominated by the far right.
Misconception #4: The protests should cease immediately and give way to negotiations between the regime and the leaders of opposition political parties.
On January 16, 2014, Ukrainian Parliament adopted a series of bills with a severe violation of the voting procedure. Nevertheless, on the eve of the same day the bills were signed into law by President Yanukovych.
Below is an infographic by civic movement CHESNO [uk, en] outlining the major legislative initiatives valid as of January 17, 2014.
Vasyl Pawlowsky, an independent consultant and English-language curator of Maidan Monitoring, a website set up and maintained specifically for following events and news from Euromaidan protests in several cities throughout Ukraine, reports in a blog post that the crowdsourced site is not available due to a DDoS attack, allegedly organized by authorities wanting to stop such information flow regarding the protests.
Pawlowsky also tells of a recent two-day meeting in Karkhiv, dubbed the All-Ukrainian Euromaidan Forum, held by Euromaidan organizers to coordinate activities of the several protest locations throughout the country, but mentions the lack of structure in this coordination:
Форум закінчився . Через годину їдемо на Київ-Львів . Коротенько про головне . Жодної , наголошую ЖОДНОЇ !!! надструктури не було створено ( це принципово ) В Харкові зібралися представники Євромайданів для аналізу ситуації в Україні . Розробили питання безпеки ,координації, комунікації Майданів . Працюємо далі . Слава Харкову ! Слава Україні !
The Forum is over. In an hour we are driving form Kyiv-Lviv. Shortly about the most important. No, and I emphasize NO!!! overseeing structure was created (in principle). In Kharkiv the representives of the Euromaidans to analyze the situation in Ukraine. To develop matters of security, coordination and communication of the Maidans. We continue our work. Glory to Kharkiv! Glory to Ukraine!