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Akhmetov calls for constitutional reform, decentralization

Akhmetov calls for constitutional reform, decentralization (INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT)
Donbas billionaire Rinat Akhmetov


Editor’s Note: This is the text of TRK Ukraine’s interview with Donbas billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, to be broadcast at 7 p.m. on May 14, 2014

Today the situation in Donbas is extremely difficult. The region has been gripped by fear. People are closing stores and offices and leaving cities. People are being shot and killed in streets.

This is a disaster for our land. We are living in disaster.

But I want Donbass and every citizen of our region to be happy. And what is happiness? Happiness is when you live in peace.Happiness is when you feel secure. Happiness is when the economy is strong, when new jobs are being created, when people have good employment, good salaries and good lives. Happiness is when we are respected, when people honour our heritage, our history and our language as well as our holidays, traditions and our ambitions for making life better.

How can we achieve it? I believe there are four scenarios.

Scenario 1: Everything remains as it is. Kiev has all the power, while regions develop on the leftovers. I am strongly convinced that this way has already run out of steam and is not right for the future.

Scenario 2: The Donetsk People’s Republic. Nobody in the world will recognise it. However, our economy is based on coal, steel, energy, heavy engineering, chemical industry, agriculture and all the business areas related to them. We will face huge sanctions and will not be able to sell or produce. It will result in suspended production, unemployment and poverty.

Scenario 3: Joining Russia. I strongly believe that neither Russia nor Donbass need it. And neither Russia nor Donbass will benefit from it. We will face huge sanctions and again will not be able to sell or make our products. It will result in an economic downturn, unemployment and poverty.

Scenario 4: The only right way, in my view, is to amend the Constitution and decentralize government. It is when Kiev gives authority to the regions. It is when regional governments are not appointed but elected. And it is when local authorities are responsible to the people in the present and future.

I strongly believe that Donbass can be happy only in a united Ukraine.

Will the Real Akhmetov stand up. Does he care about the fate of Ukraine besides the fate of his empire of wealth. Is he a dark figure with money as his religion.

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Putin’s remarks raise fears of future moves against Ukraine

Putin’s remarks raise fears of future moves against Ukraine

Video: NSA leaker Edward Snowden questioned Russian President Vladimir Putin about domestic spying on Thursday. Putin wasn’t exactly truthful in his response. (Fact-checking source: Andrei Soldatov)Video
By Kathy Lally, Published: April 17 E-mail the writer
MOSCOW — A confident President Vladimir Putin on Thursday used his annual televised meeting with the nation to portray a powerful Russia — one that is dismissive of the West, had troops operating in Crimea even as it denied it and regards a large swath of southeastern Ukraine as historically part of its territory.

Somewhat ominously, Putin reminded his audience that Russia’s parliament has given him the authority to send troops into Ukraine. Southeastern Ukraine — including the cities of Luhansk, Kharkiv, Donetsk and Odessa — had been part of the Russian empire, called New Russia, he pointed out. The Soviet Union turned it over to Ukraine. “Why? Let God judge them.” The argument was reminiscent of the one he had made earlier about Crimea, which was given to Ukraine in 1954.

Putin’s remarks raised fears that he was justifying a possible incursion into southeastern Ukraine, where the United States says 40,000 Russian troops are massed just across the border. U.S. and European officials have accused Russia of organizing the armed men and agitators who have been capturing government buildings in southeastern Ukraine and raising Russian flags. Putin denies it. The West says he is lying.

“Nonsense,” Putin said Thursday. “There are no Russian units in eastern Ukraine — no special services, no tactical advisers. All this is being done by the local residents.”

In early March, Putin denied that the well-equipped troops operating on Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and wearing green uniforms without insignia were Russian. Anyone could buy those uniforms, he said. On Thursday, when asked about the soldiers widely known as the green men, Putin acknowledged that they were Russian. Their presence had been necessary, he said, to keep order so that Crimeans could decide their future in a referendum.

“We didn’t want any tanks, any nationalist combat units or people with extreme views armed with automatic weapons,” he said. “Of course, Russian servicemen backed the Crimean self-defense forces.”

The hastily arranged March 16 referendum resulted in 96 percent counted as voting for joining Russia. “In this situation,” he said, “we couldn’t have done otherwise.”

For just shy of four hours Thursday, Putin answered questions from a studio audience, from a video-connected crowd standing in the heart of the Crimean city of Sevastopol and from people calling in and texting from around the nation. Of 2 million calls and 400,000 texts, he answered around 70 questions. Last year, he spoke for four hours and 47 minutes.

Even Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who revealed a wide-scale U.S. surveillance program and has taken refuge from prosecution in Russia, came out of the shadows to ask a video question: Does Russia spy on its citizens the way the United States did?

No, Putin said. “Thank God, our special services are strictly controlled by the state and society, and their activity is regulated by law.”

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow tweeted in contradiction: “Snowden would probably be interested to know that Russian laws allow the control, storage and study of all data in the communication networks of the Russian Federation.”

Putin’s program was broadcast live on three main television channels and three radio stations. From across the nation, people added their voices to a chorus of “thank-you-Mr.-Putins,” expressing their gratitude for his acquisition of Crimea and his standing up to the West. Journalists and artists lauded him. “There is no legitimate power in Ukraine today,” lamented Karen Shakhnazarov, a filmmaker, who said that as a 20-year-old, his father had fought in the Soviet Army to free Crimea in World War II.

Andrei Norkin, a journalist for Kommersant Radio, said he was worried about the nation’s level of patriotism and urged Putin to support legislation that would set up military academies where schoolchildren could study under inspiring conditions.

“They learn respect for women and older people,” he said. “At cadet schools, they are trained to become real men.”

A few critics were heard, giving Putin the opportunity to describe how misguided they were.

“Laws are being developed that will make culture just a servant of ideology,” said Irina Prokhorova, a literary critic, head of the Civic Platform party and sister of Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov. People are being persecuted if they object to the annexation of Crimea, she said, calling it a “sad and forced decision.”

This is not 1937, Putin said, when people were being sent to labor camps.

“Some members of the Russian intelligentsia are unaccustomed to the fact that they might meet resistance or have someone else express a different position and disagree with their position,” Putin said. When contradicted, he said, they get emotional.

He said he had heard that regarding Crimea, some people “want their country to lose and think that this is a good thing. Here, too, there is a continuity. As is known, during the First World War, the Bolsheviks also wanted the Russian government and Russia in general to lose, and the situation quickly got out of hand, which led to the revolution.

“There is some sort of historical continuity here, not the best, though. However, I agree that in any case, we should not slip into some extreme forms of dealing with each other’s views or cast aspersions on people for their opinions. I will do my best to prevent this from happening.”

He dismissed U.S. complaints about Russian behavior as a double standard. “Why isn’t Russia allowed to defend its own interests?” he asked. And he criticized the sanctions the United States has imposed on Russia because of its annexation of Crimea as counterproductive.

“If you try to punish someone like mischievous kids and put them in a corner kneeling on frozen peas so it hurts them, then in the end, you will cut off the branch on which you are sitting,” he said, mixing his metaphors.

Many of his friends — wealthy men — were targeted by the sanctions. They had nothing to do with Crimea, he said.

“I should tell you,” he said, “that I don’t feel ashamed of my friends.”

Would he remarry, someone asked, referring to Putin’s recent divorce.

“First, I have to help my former wife get married, then think about myself.”
His comments were once again met by applause.

Read more, very ominous message from Putin with Russian imperialism intending on destroying Ukraine and/or start a World War 3:

Putin Makes Worrying Comments About Novorussia

US stakes in Ukraine tied to location, location

US stakes in Ukraine tied to location, location

Associated Press
Wednesday February 26, 2014, 4:46 PM

WASHINGTON — Ukraine isn’t typically a U.S. foreign policy priority, experts say. President Barack Obama is more occupied with Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and more. His administration rejects the notion that the situation in Ukraine represents some kind of epic East vs. West power struggle.

Still, there are reasons why Americans should care about what’s happening there, starting with location, location, location.

1. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE NEIGHBORHOOD. Sure, it would be nice for Ukraine to have a stable, democratic government simply because that’s a good thing, and no one wants to see more bloodshed. But the U.S. is more concerned about Ukraine because of its location, perched between Russia and the rest of Europe, where the U.S. has lots of friends. “The U.S. has an interest in a wider, stable, secure Europe,” says Steven Pifer, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who’s now at the Brookings Institution. “If Ukraine goes into chaos, that’s likely to pull those European countries in — and we may get involved later on, too.

2. BIG QUESTIONS ABOUT THE MARCH OF DEMOCRACY. The overthrow of Kiev’s democratically elected (but corrupt and repressive) government by protesters seeking a more just Ukraine raises unsettling questions. “Ukraine doesn’t fit this ideal model of how democratic change progresses,” says Olga Oliker, associate director of RAND Corp.’s international security and defense policy center. “What does it mean to try to create more democratic systems in nondemocratic ways?”

3. LOOKING OUT FOR A FRIEND. Ukraine’s actually been a good friend to the U.S. since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. It was once home to the world’s third-largest nuclear weapons arsenal, and voluntarily surrendered the stockpile to Russia. It sent troops to help out in Iraq in 2003-05 and dispatched peacekeepers to Kosovo and Lebanon. It agreed to cancel a planned $45 million nuclear deal with Iran in 1992. “On a lot of foreign policy issues, they’ve been fairly helpful, and I would argue that that is one reason why we ought to care about what is going on,” Pifer says.

4. RUSSIA. The unrest in Ukraine could complicate U.S.-Russian relations. The Obama administration dismisses the idea of competing spheres of influence as wildly outmoded and deliberately has tried not to insert itself too deeply in the situation. But Russian President Vladimir Putin very much want,”s to tilt Ukraine his direction. “The U.S.-Russian relationship has been very combative lately and scratchy” says Andrew Weiss, a Clinton administration expert on Ukraine and Russia who’s now at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Ukraine adds one more layer on top of the problems that already exist.”

5. PEOPLE. BUSINESS. MONEY. People: There’s obvious concern among the estimated 1 million to 1.5 million people of Ukrainian descent in the U.S., with large concentrations in Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Sacramento, Calif., and the New York City area. Business: Ukraine, an economic mess, is not a big U.S. trading partner. But there’s plenty of commercial potential in a country of 46 million people. Money: Ukraine is in dire need of billions of dollars in financial assistance. The main lender is likely to be the International Monetary Fund. But Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday the U.S. plans to provide $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine and will consider additional direct assistance.
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A democratic and Free Ukraine will influence the democratization of Russia- a Russia without Putin. The West needs a free and democratic Russia for economic development and for geopolitical balance towards China and global militant Islamism.