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.

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.

pro-russian-snipers-shooting-ukrainians-in-kyiv-ukraine-20th-february-2014

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.

20th February Snipers

Today is the anniversary of the mass murder in Kyiv, Ukraine. During the Euromaidan, the revolution to overthrow the corrupt pro-Russian government, on the 20th of February 2014, pro-Russian and actual Russian snipers were sent into the city centre to shoot and kill dozens upon dozens of civilians.

The world has all but forgotten about the war in Ukraine now, but it has not ended. I still have family members who are refugees, we will be visiting them in Ukraine in a few weeks.

Pro-Russian snipers shooting Ukrainians in Kyiv, Ukraine. 20th February 2014.

Anybody going to act on this?

Russian aggression in Ukraine

All I really have to say today is that if somebody doesn’t do something to stop Putin soon, they’re going to seriously regret it. The world has a long history of ignoring Ukraine’s suffering – nobody lifted a finger to save the millions of Ukrainians Russia killed in the Holodomor – but this is about more than just Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin is a megalomaniac who isn’t going to stop just because Obama and Kerry asked him nicely. It’s time for action, not pretty words. We all know what Russia has done to Eastern Europe throughout history. It will be no different this time round.