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Nineteen Years

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Today is the nineteenth anniversary of the start of the Russian apartment bombings, when Vladimir Putin orchestrated a series of attacks that killed hundreds of citizens across Russia in order to boost his popularity and win the presidency.

Before the first apartment bombing, a shopping mall in Moscow was attacked on the 31st of August.

The first apartment attack occurred in Buynaksk, where sixty-four people were killed and 133 were injured. The two bombings in Moscow that followed killed over 200, and an attack in Volgodonsk killed 17.

In total 293 were killed and over a thousand were injured.

Putin blamed the attacks on a group from Dagestan, and used it as an excuse for a second war in Chechnya, boosting his approval ratings and helping him to power.

Three key people trying to reveal the truth about what happened were assassinated in the years that followed: Sergei Yushenkov, Yuri Shchekochikhin, and Alexander Litvinenko – who defected to Britain and was infamously poisoned by Russian agents in a London restaurant in 2006.

Additionally, Mikhail Trepashkin spent years in a Russian prison for his role in the investigation.

Bombing at Guryanova Street in Moscow, where 94 were killed.

These tactics were also used by the Soviets, such as when they blew up their own people at a border post as an excuse to start the Winter War with Finland in 1939. The result of this was that Finland fought with the Nazis in the Second World War.

In the past few years, with Kremlin manipulation of internet search results, factual reports of the apartment bombing incidents are harder to come by. Just like with news about anything else (e.g. Ukraine), these days top English-language (and Spanish and French etc.) Google results usually link to sites like RT (Russia Today), Tass, and Sputnik – all of them Kremlin-backed propaganda agencies.

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Ten Years

180719-georgia-russia-war-mc-1152_e6ddd220a0947b75d9788a50ec3a9a17_fit-560wGeorgian soldiers escape a burning armoured vehicle in August 2008. Russian Invasion

Today is the tenth anniversary of the Russian invasion of Georgia. Russia still occupies parts of the country, and landowners on the fake new borders report having more of their property stolen every day – it’s a slow motion invasion the world has completely forgotten about.

As with Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine, ethnic cleansing is taking place in occupied Georgia, and the Russians are destroying all evidence of local people’s culture and history. Historic buildings are being torn down. (A Crimean Tatar set himself on fire in protest the other day – on camera; nobody in the world reported it.)

Georgia was Putin’s test run for his invasion of Ukraine. Taking place just after Obama came to power, he learnt that world leaders wouldn’t act on Russian aggression.

Even though it’s not really needed for diplomatic purposes, Georgia maintains an embassy here in Canberra, to remind people in the South Pacific why they shouldn’t be doing trade with the Kremlin (Fiji and New Zealand, I’m looking at you!).

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R.I.P. Denis Ten

2017 Shanghai Trophy

Horrifying news from Kazakhstan that ground-breaking figure skater Denis Ten, a world silver medallist and Olympic bronze medallist (both firsts for his country) has been murdered by two men trying to steal his car’s mirrors.

Ten was only twenty-five, and competed at the Pyeongchang Games this year.

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A Reminder

Sonya's Stuff

Over the days of the World Cup Third Place Playoff and Final, please remember that nobody should be enjoying soccer on Russian soil while the country is actively invading Ukraine, killing thousands of their neighbours, committing war crimes in Syria, assassinating political dissidents, torturing teenagers to death, committing ethnic cleansing in Crimea, shooting down airliners, illegally occupying parts of Georgia, illegally occupying parts of Moldova, committing war crimes in Ukraine, persecuting Catholics and Muslims and Jews, and actively trying to destroy Western democracies.

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Ukrainian artist Andriy Yermolenko has created an alternative series of posters for the FIFA World Cup in Russia which is set to start on 14 June. war

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Cyborgs: Heroes Never Die

Sonya's Stuff

Cyborg_(film)Cyborgs Heroes Never Die (Кiборги Герої не вмирають). It is a movie about the battle for Donetsk Airport during the first year of the Russian invasion o

I’m a bit late with a post today, because I got home late last night and wanted to write about where I’d been. Also, the wine was free-flowing at the function, and I wasn’t in the mood to type when I got back!

It’s hard to believe, but this is the first time I’ve been to see a movie since Les Misérables in early 2012!

At the invitation of the embassy, last night I attended the first Australian screening of the movie Cyborgs: Heroes Never Die (Кiборги: Герої не вмирають).

It is a movie about the battle for Donetsk Sergey Prokofiev International Airport (named after the Ukrainian composer) during 2014, the first year of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Cyborgs is the nickname given to the Ukrainian Army units who fought, lost, and died in the conflict.

When the battle began the airport was brand new, and had just been…

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Saturday Evening in Canberra

I couldn’t get a proper picture from where I am at the moment, but we are having a beautiful evening in Canberra, and similar – but hotter – weather is forecast for tomorrow.

At the moment, all the sulphur-crested cockatoos are screeching as they fly to… wherever they go for the night, and the currawongs are doing their thing. The picture looks peaceful, but it’s very noisy here!

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Australian Parliament – Canberra

If it’s a bit blurry it’s because I took this from the back seat of a car this afternoon (zooming past other people’s heads and arms etc.)! It’s 30+ something degrees in Canberra today, and will be again tomorrow, and tonight we have Skyfire (fireworks) on the lake.

It was a pretty great St Patrick’s Day. I had no idea so many people would come into the city all dressed up – I deliberately didn’t wear green because I thought that was silly, but I was about the only one in a different colour! We had Irish bands, Irish dancers etc. I haven’t *done* St Patrick’s Day for years. How lucky it was on a Saturday this year!

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