Thursday, March 6, 2014

"If speaking is silver, then listening is gold."

"Neither a man nor a crowd or a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of great fear."- Bertrand Russell

    This is  referred to as a  "The More You Know"  post because there are many Americans (including myself) who vaguely understand or confuse circumstances and historical significance surrounding Russia, Crimea and Ukraine. Most American citizens were aware of  the political conflict but were shielded from the intensity. We  have become more exposed to Russia's social intolerance, human and animal rights violations and environmental issues since the Sochi Olympics but interest fades and fickle attention spans return once the games are over. We know even less about Crimea and Ukraine. Now is a good time to catch up on your history and geography.

      A referendum on the status of Crimea is to be held on March 16th 2014, Russian news agencies have reported. Crimea is a sovereign Ukrainian territory, home to a large ethnic Ukrainian population and popular vacation/tourist destination. Crimea is to the Ukraine as the Florida Keys are to Florida and the US.  Why is Crimea so important to Russia?  The naval base at Sevastopol, on Crimea’s southwestern tip (Mediterranean) ensures Russia remains a global military power. 
 According to Forbes  contributor  Greg Satell , "It has been alleged that the port city has been used extensively to supply Bashar al-Assad throughout the current civil war in Syria. And while the lease agreement with Ukraine regarding the base remains valid until 2047, the majority of the Black Sea coastline is held by NATO allies except for Georgia on the east, which is actively seeking NATO membership, and Ukraine in the north." Crimea is an integral part of the Ukraine. Demonstrators continue to protest but not all Crimean's are pro-Russian by any means.
     Another ominous result of the Russian- Ukrainian clash is the continued censorship of journalists, photographers, cameramen and foreign correspondents.  In Russia, the number of unsolved murders has soared since 2006 when journalist and human rights activist, Anna Politkovskaya was shot to death near her home in Moscow. Politkovskaya was well known for her public opposition of Vladimir Putins policies in Chechnya. Since 1992, hundreds of journalists, cameramen, photographers and editors have mysteriously disappeared,  been abducted, tortured or died in a violent and unexplained manner. According to the Paris-based organization Reporters without Borders between  March of 2000 and July of 2007, 21 Russian  journalists were murdered because of their work. These brutal statistics beg the world to further investigate why these voices are being permanently silenced.
      Diplomacy is the only option.  Future negotiations should focus on stabilizing the Ukrainian government and economy, seeking peaceful resolution without personal aggression or military intimidation and keeping all lines of communication open without fear of retribution.