Ten Years

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!).

Four Years

Kyiv Ukraine Euromaidan Memorials Sonya Heaney May 2016

A memorial to the dead I photographed in 2016.

Today is the fourth anniversary of the end of Ukraine’s Euromaidan revolution. On the 20th of February, 2014 pro-Russian snipers took to the streets and shot and killed as many civilians as they could manage.

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Snipers in the same spot the memorials are now.

The revolution resulted in overthrowing the corrupt, dictatorial oligarch in charge of the country, but he fled to Russia and paved the way for Putin’s invasion shortly afterwards.

On this day: Russia’s mass deportations of the Baltic peoples began.

Estonian children who had been forcibly deported to Siberia by Russian authorities. 1952.

Estonian children in Siberia in 1952

Operation Priboi (“Coastal Surf”) was the code name for the Soviet mass deportation from the Baltic states on 25–28 March 1949. The action is also known as the March deportation by Baltic historians. More than 90,000 Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians, labeled as enemies of the people, were deported to forced settlements in inhospitable areas of the Soviet Union.

Over 70% of the deportees were women and children under the age of 16.

On this day: the end of the Battle of Grozny

The Battle of Grozny, the Russian siege of the capital of Chechnya that began in 1999, ended on the 6th of February, 2000.

In 2003, the United Nations named Grozny the “most destroyed city on Earth”.

Destruction after the Russian siege.

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On this day: the execution of Seraphim Chichagov

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In prison in 1937 X

Seraphim Chichagov, a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church in Saint Petersburg (named Leningrad under Soviet rule), was executed by firing squad on the 11th of December, 1937.

He was one of more than 20 000 political prisoners executed at Butovo firing range outside Moscow during Stalin’s Great Purge of 1936-38.

Aged eighty-one at the time of his execution, Seraphim was ill and had lost most of his mobility. When he was arrested in his home on charges of spreading “monarchist propaganda”, Russian authorities had to carry him to prison on a stretcher.

R.I.P. to Věra Čáslavská

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R.I.P. to Věra Čáslavská. Not just a legend in gymnastics, but also a national hero for publicly protesting against the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. 3rd May 1942 – 30th August 2016. Seven-time Olympic Champion.

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