Thursday, October 06, 2016

Workshop Presentation

Building Friendship Between the United States and Russia. — Kathy Kelly, Bob Spies, and Jan Hartsough

These are my notes from a workshop I went to in September 2016. This was part of the World Beyond War conference.

BUILDING FRIENDSHIPS WITH RUSSIA

History of The Center for Citizen Initiatives
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Recommend book: “The Power of Impossible Ideas”
This presentation will focus on Crimea portion of their trip to Russia. 
Risk of nuclear war is greater today than ever.

Gave examples of US aggression towards Russia, and then examples of US media projection of acts of aggression FROM Russia. US narrative is that Russia occupied Crimea by force and fraud. Crimea is listed as a dangerous place for Americans to go - these presenters found it to be beautiful and friendly place. 

EVENTS IN 2014

Feb 20-22 “popular uprising” overthrows the government of Ukraine
Mar 16 - crimean referendum - 96% wanted to rejoin Russia
Mar 18 - Russian annexation of Crimea
Subsequently - western sanctions and Nato exercises on border

Showed clips of the violent revolution in Kiev and then played intercepted audio of Nuland and Pyatt talking about the coup in Kiev. Nuland and Pyatt planned the leadership of new government of Ukraine - after the coup. This is the source of the famous “fuck the EU” comment. Nuland said Biden was willing to help out. Their guy got into office. A year later - 2015 - showed fistfight and assault in the Ukraine parliament. Prime Minister was carted off.  In 2016 - Nuland’s guy was dismissed because of corruption, but there are multiple fractions operating there, so hard to say who is more corrupt. Ukraine is in a civil war, on the verge of a failed state.

Sevastopol (in Crimea) is home to the Russian fleet, so they are not there for purely altruistic reasons. Russia is still very aware of WW2, so many of their people died. So Nato exercises on border is very upsetting to them. 

After Crimea left Ukraine, they cut the power (six months) and sanctions were imposed. These increased unemployment and economic hardships, but nothing compared to WW2. They are not afraid, but realize the hypocrisy and unfairness. One of the biggest impacts is on tourism due to western sanctions. European tour trips are not allowed there - there are separate EU and US sanctions, but US impacts EU sanctions. (US is still allowing trips, but advises against it.)

Crimea is against NATO presence near their shores - slogan is NATO GO HOME. Showed a clip of someone speaking to this and then clip of lighter moments, like teenage boy signing “feelings”. Also participated in WW2 memorial event, where Ray McGovern spoke to them in Russian. This was reported in the local and Russian media. 

The group also visited a camp for children, which was a happy moment. Also on local media. They were some of the first Americans to visit Crimea, so widely reported on local and Russian media. 

They also talked to people about the Tatars in Crimea - they were persecuted by Stalin, but today many are supporting having the Russians in Crimea.

Feb 2004 - THE BUSES
The reason why Crimea separated from Ukraine and went with Russia.
There were 8 buses of Crimean people who traveled to Kiev to be part of the pro-government protesters. On the way home, buses were stopped and set on fire, people were beaten and tortured, and seven were killed. Everyone in Crimea knew someone on those buses. Violence reportedly was done by rightest groups with neo-Nazi elements. People in Crimea were terrified that that was what would come to them if they did not separate from Ukraine. This was a major factor in the decision to separate from Ukraine. 

After this time, Russian soldiers stood without insignia to protect the people of Crimea, and no one was killed during this time, even though provocation came from Ukraine. These were soldiers already stationed there, but it is portrayed as an invasion in western media. 

Some Crimeans are very afraid of NATO buildup and they said we should not be afraid of Russia. They are working on cross cultural events to build a more cross-cultural society. They have vivid memories of WW2. This group visited memorials and museums. 

US sanctions are hurting them, but there is no way they are going back. They will stay with Russia, and they are grateful to them. This group did not find any repression of media or speech in Crimea. This group felt the demonization of Putin was completely unnecessary. Putin feels he must restore the balance of power because that is what kept us safe in the past. He feels that we are headed in a bad direction and he clearly is afraid.

Here is a video of Putin’s speech about the nuclear threat the US poses:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqD8lIdIMRo

Here is some follow up information that the speaker sent:
Hi NoWar2016 Russia workshop participants,

On behalf of myself, Kathy, and Jan, thanks for participating in our workshop!

1) Following are some links we recommend as good information sources on the US/Russia relationship:

a) Consortium News - consortiumnews.com

This site, run by award-winning journalist Robert Parry, hosts insightful, comprehensive, and objective articles about a number of important topics. It's Russia-related articles are excellent.

b) American Committee for East-West Accord - eastwestaccord.com

The American Committee for East-West Accord is a group of high-level academics, diplomats, and business leaders. It originally existed during the first Cold War, and was recently reconstituted out of concern about the emerging new Cold War. The site hosts articles written by ACEWA members, as well as links to other articles ACEWA has found to be worth reading.

c) The Center for Citizen Initiatives - ccisf.org

This is the organization that sponsored our June Russia trip. On its site you can find more articles about our trip, as well as articles CCI has authored or found particularly valuable. You can also find an extensive collection of videos from CCI's June 2015 trip, including an excellent interview with Russian journalist Vladimir Pozner.

2) The Center for Citizen Initiatives has an email notification list for new articles it posts. If you would like to be added to that list, please click here. (You can unsubscribe at any time.)

3) There are three organizations we know of that currently have upcoming Russia trips in the planning stage. If you are potentially interested in participating on a trip, you can contact them as follows:
Center for Citizen Initiatives: Use the contact form at http://ccisf.org/contact-cci/.
Voices for Creative Nonviolence (Kathy's organization): Send an email to: info@vcnv.org.
Siberian Bridges: See information at http://siberianbridges.org/. (We learned about this from workshop participant Thomas Dickinson.)


















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