Tuesday, May 28, 2019

SMB 2019 Trip to Poltava

A regular delegation of the Swedish Society of the Military History (Svenskt Militärhistoriskt Bibliootek) visited the Museum of the Battle of Poltava on May 16. This time, our Swedish friends presented the museum with a bust of King Charles 12, a set of ancient coins, laser projector, antique engravings, and documents. I am very pleased to offer to your attention some photos taken  during the stay of the SMB delegation in Poltava.
Med länken nedan kan du få tillgång till många bilder som tagits i Poltava och Kiev.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

High fives, selfies and a snap election as Zelenskiy takes power in Ukraine

May 22, 2019 (Reuters) Television comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy took the oath of office as Ukraine’s new president on Monday, promising that as hard as he had worked in the past to make Ukrainians laugh, he would now work to keep them from crying. As his first act, he dismissed the parliament still dominated by loyalists of his defeated predecessor, setting up an election in two months in which his new party has a chance to win its first seats. The inauguration day was marked by informal moments that conveyed the outsider persona that helped carry the political novice to a landslide victory last month.

Ukraine's President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy takes the oath of office during his inauguration ceremony in the parliament hall in Kiev, Ukraine May 20, 2019. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Zelenskiy high fived cheering supporters who held their arms outstretched outside the Soviet-era parliament building, and stopped for a selfie with the crowd. At one point he jumped up to kiss a man on the forehead. He later eschewed a motorcade to make his way to his new office on foot. “Dear people, during my life I tried to do everything to make Ukrainians smile,” he said in his speech to parliament. “In the next five years, I will do everything, Ukrainians, so that you do not cry.” But there were already signs of friction with a political class in which Zelenskiy has few allies. Parliament is still dominated by the bloc named for Zelenskiy’s defeated opponent Petro Poroshenko and smaller parties founded mostly as personal vehicles for political insiders. The decision to dissolve parliament prompted the resignation of Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, who came to power in 2016 as part of Poroshenko’s coalition. Groysman said he was stepping down to fight the upcoming snap election. “I proposed to the president, the parliament, that we together form a new agenda and very quickly begin to make decisions that would make Ukraine stronger. The president has chosen a different path,” Groysman said. Zelenskiy grew to national fame playing the TV comedy role of a schoolteacher who unexpectedly becomes president after a pupil films him making a foul-mouthed tirade against corrupt politicians and posts the video online. His campaign exploited the parallels with that fictional narrative, portraying him as an everyman who would stand up to a crooked political class. In his inauguration speech, Zelenskiy called on officials to take down the customary portraits of the president that hang in their offices, and put up pictures of their children instead.
Read the whole article and see a video at

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Ukraine outlaws Russian passports issued for its citizens in Donbas

May 9, 20119 (Kyiv Post) The Ukrainian government has invalidated Russian passports issued to Ukrainian citizens of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, which are partially occupied by the Russian-backed militants. “The passports issued to Ukrainian citizens on our territory, the territory of the sovereign Ukrainian state, will be deemed illegal … when crossing the state border and when used on the territory of our state,” said Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman at a cabinet meeting on May 8. Groysman also called on other countries to do the same. Vadym Chernysh, minister for the temporarily occupied territories and internally displaced persons, said the decision had been made during the May 8 meeting. Russian passports issued in Russia’s Rostov Oblast will also be deemed illegal, he added. The Ukrainian authorities will identify such documents by the code of the issuing body. The Ukrainian government also intends to prepare a list of Russian officials who were involved in organizing and implementing the procedure simplifying the issuing of Russian passport in occupied Donbas, Chernysh said.

A Ukrainian border guard scans a passport of a Russian citizen crossing the Russian-Ukrainian border on the checkpoint of Goptivka, near Kharkiv, on Jan. 3, 2018. Photo by AFP

“We are preparing a list of such Russian Federation officials to whom personal sanctions should be applied in cooperation with international partners,” Chernysh told journalists after the cabinet meeting, the Interfax news agency reported. Veteran Affairs Minister Iryna Friz said on Facebook that the government will consider depriving Ukrainian citizens from Donbas of their pensions and social benefits should they receive Russian passports in an unlawful way. On April 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree allowing people who live in the Russian-occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts to gain Russian passports through a simplified procedure. Three days later, on April 27, Putin said that the Russian government was considering applying simplified procedures to all Ukrainians applicants for Russian citizenship. The decree will allow more than 3 million Ukrainians to apply for Russian passports bypassing a number of criteria for gaining Russian citizenship.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Aeroflot plane crash: 41 killed on Russian jet

May 6, 2019 (BBC News) Forty-one people died after a Russian plane made an emergency landing and burst into flames just after takeoff from Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport. Dramatic video shows passengers using emergency exit slides to escape the burning Aeroflot aircraft. Survivors suggest the plane was struck by lightning, but Russia's national carrier said only that it returned to the airport for technical reasons. Two children are among the dead. The jet had 73 passengers and five crew. Initial reports suggested the plane had landed on fire, but sources quoted by Russian news agency Interfax said the jet caught fire after a very bumpy landing. The aircraft landed with full fuel tanks because the crew lost contact with air traffic controllers and decided it was too dangerous to dump fuel over Moscow, Interfax added. "There are 37 survivors - 33 passengers and four members of the crew," said Yelena Markovskaya, an official involved in the investigation of the crash. A flight attendant was also reportedly killed in the incident. Five people are in hospital. One witness said it was a "miracle" anyone escaped.
What happened to the plane?
The aircraft, a Sukhoi Superjet-100, left the airport on May 5 at 18:02 local time (15:02 GMT), bound for Murmansk. Its crew sent a distress signal when "malfunctions" occurred in bad weather shortly after take-off. After making an emergency landing at the airport, the plane's engines caught fire on the runway, Aeroflot said, adding that the crew "did everything to save the passengers".

RIA news agency has broadcast a video clip shot by a passenger as the plane caught fire on the tarmac. A sheet of flame can be seen through the window, and a cloud of sparks, while people scream in panic and a voice - apparently a flight attendant - is heard saying "keep calm". Video shot from airport buildings shows passengers fleeing the stricken jet via an inflatable slide at the front and running away from the inferno.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

The Narcissus Valley

May 4, 2019 (Green Ukraine) It is the only place in the the Eastern Europe with natural blooming bushes. Imagine a green carpet which is scattered with a delicate white flowers – not dozens or even thousands of them – such a huge number that it defies calculation. This magnificent picture can only be seen here in April and May, during mass flowering of plants.
In the 1970s, the local authorities decided that the Narcissus Valley should be used for agricultural purposes. When the botanists and environment-protection enthusiasts learned about this decision, they launched a save-the-narcissi campaign, and surprisingly enough, the higher authorities took steps to secure the Valley of Narcissus as a natural preserve. The government passed a decree which made the Valley a part of the Carpathian Natural Preserve, and thus put it under the protection of law. All the same, continuing encroachments considerably reduced the territory of the narcissi preserve from what it was fifty years ago to its present size (now it occupies an area of about 257 hectares, or 643 acres).

In 1980, it was decided that the grasses in the Valley should be regularly mowed and the narcissus section weeded. Thus some of the problems were removed, but others remain. A road that was built to cut across the valley, plus the summer houses at the edges of the Valley reduced the amount of water in the Valley, and it affected the narcissus which began to retreat from some of the places where they used to be in abundance; these flowers also began to produce fewer seeds. Drier conditions and fewer seeds may threaten the narcissus survival and now plans are made to introduce an irrigation system.
The Narcissus Valley flowering spectacle (from 10 to 25 of May) is an unforgettable sight. Many tourists, both from Ukraine and from foreign countries — Canada, Australia, Germany, Austria, and the USA among them, come to Khust to have a look at the wonder flower and to breathe the salubrious air. This nature phenomenon is worth to see it at least once in life!

Friday, May 3, 2019

President-elect Zelensky invites representatives of large, medium and small businesses to meeting in coming days

May 3, 2019 (Interfax-Ukraine) President-elect of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky invites representatives of large, medium and small businesses to a meeting in the near future.
"Under my presidency, relations with businessmen will be transparent. No more backstage talks, night visits to the Administration [President's Office] and agreements hidden from the society. Therefore, I officially invite representatives of large, small and medium businesses to the meeting in the coming days. It's high time to come clear," wrote Zelensky on his Facebook page on Thursday. "It's time for everyone to work for the country according to transparent rules," he added.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Final Ukrainian election results confirm Volodymyr Zelenskiy's easy victory

April 30, 2019 (Reuters) Ukraine's central election commission on Tuesday published final results of the presidential poll confirming that a comedian with no political experience had won the country's presidential election by a landslide. Volodymyr Zelenskiy's win was a bitter blow for incumbent Petro Poroshenko and presents a riddle for investors, the West and Russia who wonder what approach he will take on everything from relations with Moscow to the domestic banking sector. With 100 percent of votes counted, Zelenskiy had won 73 percent of the vote with Poroshenko winning just under 25 percent, the central election commission said. 

Zelenskiy, 41, will take leadership of a country on the frontline of the West's standoff with Russia following Moscow's annexation of Crimea and its support for a pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine. The ex-comedian, the latest anti-establishment figure to unseat an incumbent, both in Europe and further afield, has promised to end the war in the eastern Donbass region and to root out corruption amid widespread dismay over rising prices and sliding living standards. But he has not said exactly how he plans to achieve all that.