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Ukraine bans best-selling book ‘Stalingrad’ by renowned British historian

Antony Beevor is ‘astonished’ at why Ukraine would ban his history book on the pivotal battle of World War Two

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British Historian Antony Beevor is “astonished” at why Ukraine would ban his best selling history book “Stalingrad”.

You would think as a historian he would be aware book burnings, and other bans on access to information is a common tactic of totalitarian regimes throughout history.

Ukraine may not be fully totalitarian in the scope of government control – mainly due to lack of organization, not motivation, but there are certainly fascist elements in power in Kiev.

Ukraine has already banned popular legends, stories, and cartoons about Saint Ilya Muromets, an ancient warrior buried in Kiev.

This would be the equivalent of Greece banning Disney’s Hercules, on the account of it being “anti-Hellenic.”

Below is the full report from Radio Liberty. While Radio Liberty is definitely not pro-Russian, it speaks to how exposed the fascism and corruption are in Ukraine, that even US-funded anti-Russian media is reporting on it.

This along with the historian’s apparent honest surprise only goes to show that the mainstream is only just catching on to what Russian media has been trying to warn about Ukraine since 2014.

British historian and best-selling author Antony Beevor says he is dumbfounded at a decision by Ukrainian authorities to ban the import of a Russian translation of his award-winning account of a major tipping point in World War II and that he expects an apology.

“I must say, this sounds absolutely astonishing,” he told RFE/RL on January 17 in response to Ukraine’s refusal to allow the import of 30,000 copies of his book Stalingrad. “There’s certainly nothing inherently anti-Ukrainian in the book at all.”

The State Committee for State TV and Radio Broadcasting announced the ban on a Russian translation of Stalingrad along with 24 other books, mostly by Russian authors, including crime novelist Boris Akunin, historian Boris Sokolov, and ultraconservative Russian Orthodox priest Vsevolod Chaplin.

Kyiv has imposed media and other bans to counter a perceived information campaign by Moscow as fighting between Russia-backed separatists and pro-government forces in eastern Ukraine nears the four-year mark in a conflict that has killed more than 10,300 people.

Beevor’s book is a deep dive into one of the most brutal battles in history, the Battle of Stalingrad, when the Red Army and Soviet citizens fought off advancing Nazi troops to maintain Soviet control over the symbolically and strategically important southern Russian city now renamed Volgograd.

The head of the State Committee for State TV and Radio Broadcasting’s licensing and distribution-control department, Serhiy Oliyinyk, told RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service that “several paragraphs did not allow us to give permission for [the import of] this book” and accused Beevor of falling for a “provocation” that was never confirmed by war crimes prosecutors after the conflict.

He cited a passage that purportedly said “Ukrainian nationalists were tasked with shooting the children” in order to “spare the feelings of SS Sonderkommando,” a reference to forced work units made up of death-camp prisoners.

“We are not aware of such facts being revised at the Nuremberg tribunal. It’s a provocation,” Oliyinyk said. “When we checked the sources he used, we found out he used reports of The People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs. It was enough to discuss the issue at expert council and we are happy they supported us.”

In an e-mail to RFE/RL, Beevor said that Oliyinyk’s statement is untrue and that the source for the report was a highly respected anti-Nazi officer, Colonel Helmuth Groscurth, who was a witness to the atrocity and who reported it to another German officer. He said those details were recounted in a book written by Groscurth and published in 1970.

“He wrote to his wife at the time, so shocked was he by what he had witnessed, ‘We cannot and should not be allowed to win this war’,” Beevor said in his e-mail. “I expect an immediate apology from Oliyinyk and a reversal of the decision by the ‘expert council.'”

Stalingrad’s 1998 publication closely followed new access for Western scholars to Soviet archives after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The book incorporated “primary sources never used before,” according to its U.K. publisher, “including reports on desertions and executions from the archives of the Russian Ministry of Defense, captured German documents, interrogation of prisoners, private diaries and letters from soldiers on both sides, medical reports, and interviews with key witnesses and participants.”

Stalingrad has won prestigious awards including the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Wolfson History Prize, and the Hawthornden Prize.

Kharkiv-based rights group Human Rights In Ukraine has described the ban on “renowned English historian and others” as “baffling.”

Beevor recalled to RFE/RL one passage in the book when “I think a German officer, when being interrogated, remarked about how unreliable their Romanian allies were and, as far as I remember, some sort of Russian officer said something about, ‘Oh well, that’s probably like our Ukrainians,’ implying that they did not fight as well as the Russians. But this was just a quote from the period, and I cannot imagine any government organization taking that seriously or as a reason to ban a book.”

Critics have warned that Ukrainian officials’ book bans, frequently in connection with charges that works promote separatism or hatred, are a “slippery slope.” Russian-made films, television series, and other cultural projects have also been banned.

Beevor said he was broadsided by confirmation of the ban, which he initially dismissed as possible disinformation in the context of Ukrainian-Russian relations.

“It first of all seems to have been reported, if that’s the right word, on [Russian state information agency] Sputnik or whatever, which has some rather, shall we say, dubious elements which might often be fake news,” Beevor told RFE/RL, “and I assumed it was fake news coming from the Russian side.”

He also expressed doubt as to whether errors or misrepresentations might have been introduced in the Russian version targeted in the Ukrainian import ban, citing the thorough approach of publisher Azbooka-Atticus, a joint venture between French Hachette and Aleksandr Mamut’s A&NN Group.

After discarding a flawed translation by another publisher, Beevor said, Azbooka-Atticus “thought that really a proper translation should be done, and they translated it again from the start.”

“I’d be very surprised if anything had been slipped in there on the Russian side or anything had been distorted, because they are extremely responsible publishers.”

In a 2012 interview, Beevor told RFE/RL that he thought books like his contributed to a greater understanding of the Eastern Front in World War II, particularly among Westerners accustomed to focusing on the Western Front.

Word of a ban on Beevor’s book by officials in the Russian region of Sverdlovsk emerged in 2015.

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Constantinople: Ukrainian Church leader is now uncanonical

October 12 letter proclaims Metropolitan Onuphry as uncanonical and tries to strong-arm him into acquiescing through bribery and force.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The pressure in Ukraine kept ratcheting up over the last few days, with a big revelation today that Patriarch Bartholomew now considers Metropolitan Onuphy “uncanonical.” This news was published on 6 December by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (running under the Moscow Patriarchate).

This assessment marks a complete 180-degree turn by the leader of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, and it further embitters the split that has developed to quite a major row between this church’s leadership and the Moscow Patriarchate.

OrthoChristian reported this today (we have added emphasis):

A letter of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine was published yesterday by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in which the Patriarch informed the Metropolitan that his title and position is, in fact, uncanonical.

This assertion represents a negation of the position held by Pat. Bartholomew himself until April of this year, when the latest stage in the Ukrainian crisis began…

The same letter was independently published by the Greek news agency Romfea today as well.

It is dated October 12, meaning it was written just one day after Constantinople made its historic decision to rehabilitate the Ukrainian schismatics and rescind the 1686 document whereby the Kiev Metropolitanate was transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church, thereby, in Constantinople’s view, taking full control of Ukraine.

In the letter, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that after the council, currently scheduled for December 15, he will no longer be able to carry his current title of “Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine.”

The Patriarch immediately opens his letter with Constantinople’s newly-developed historical claim about the jurisdictional alignment of Kiev: “You know from history and from indisputable archival documents that the holy Metropolitanate of Kiev has always belonged to the jurisdiction of the Mother Church of Constantinople…”

Constantinople has done an about-face on its position regarding Ukraine in recent months, given that it had previously always recognized the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate as the sole canonical primate in Ukraine.

…The bulk of the Patriarch’s letter is a rehash of Constantinople’s historical and canonical arguments, which have already been laid out and discussed elsewhere. (See also here and here). Pat. Bartholomew also writes that Constantinople stepped into the Ukrainian ecclesiastical sphere as the Russian Church had not managed to overcome the schisms that have persisted for 30 years.

It should be noted that the schisms began and have persisted precisely as anti-Russian movements and thus the relevant groups refused to accept union with the Russian Church.

Continuing, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that his position and title are uncanonical:

Addressing you as ‘Your Eminence the Metropolitan of Kiev’ as a form of economia [indulgence/condescension—OC] and mercy, we inform you that after the elections for the primate of the Ukrainian Church by a body that will consist of clergy and laity, you will not be able ecclesiologically and canonically to bear the title of Metropolitan of Kiev, which, in any case, you now bear in violation of the described conditions of the official documents of 1686.

He also entreats Met. Onuphry to “promptly and in a spirit of harmony and unity” participate, with the other hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in the founding council of the new Ukrainian church that Constantinople is planning to create, and in the election of its primate.

The Constantinople head also writes that he “allows” Met. Onuphry to be a candidate for the position of primate.

He further implores Met. Onuphry and the UOC hierarchy to communicate with Philaret Denisenko, the former Metropolitan of Kiev, and Makary Maletich, the heads of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” and the schismatic “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” respectively—both of which have been subsumed into Constantinople—but whose canonical condemnations remain in force for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The hierarchs of the Serbian and Polish Churches have also officially rejected the rehabilitation of the Ukrainian schismatics.

Pat. Bartholomew concludes expressing his confidence that Met. Onuphry will decide to heal the schism through the creation of a new church in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church under Metropolitan Onuphry’s leadership is recognized as the sole canonical Orthodox jurisdiction in Ukraine by just about every other canonical Orthodox Jurisdiction besides Constantinople. Even NATO member Albania, whose expressed reaction was “both sides are wrong for recent actions” still does not accept the canonicity of the “restored hierarchs.”

In fact, about the only people in this dispute that seem to be in support of the “restored” hierarchs, Filaret and Makary, are President Poroshenko, Patriarch Bartholomew, Filaret and Makary… and NATO.

While this letter was released to the public eye yesterday, the nearly two months that Metropolitan Onuphry has had to comply with it have not been helped in any way by the actions of both the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Ukrainian government.

Priests of the Canonical Church in Ukraine awaiting interrogation by the State authorities

For example, in parallel reports released on December 6th, the government is reportedly accusing canonical priests in Ukraine of treason because they are carrying and distributing a brochure entitled (in English): The Ukrainian Orthodox Church: Relations with the State. The Attitude Towards the Conflict in Donbass and to the Church Schism. Questions and Answers.

In a manner that would do any American liberal proud, these priests are being accused of inciting religious hatred, though really all they are doing is offering an explanation for the situation in Ukraine as it exists.

A further piece also released yesterday notes that the Ukrainian government rehabilitated an old Soviet-style technique of performing “inspections of church artifacts” at the Pochaev Lavra. This move appears to be both intended to intimidate the monastics who are living there now, who are members of the canonical Church, as well as preparation for an expected forcible takeover by the new “united Church” that is under creation. The brotherhood characterized the inspections in this way:

The brotherhood of the Pochaev Lavra previously characterized the state’s actions as communist methods of putting pressure on the monastery and aimed at destroying monasticism.

Commenting on the situation with the Pochaev Lavra, His Eminence Archbishop Clement of Nizhyn and Prilusk, the head of the Ukrainian Church’s Information-Education Department, noted:

This is a formal raiding, because no reserve ever built the Pochaev Lavra, and no Ministry of Culture ever invested a single penny to restoring the Lavra, and the state has done nothing to preserve the Lavra in its modern form. The state destroyed the Lavra, turned it into a psychiatric hospital, a hospital for infectious diseases, and so on—the state has done nothing more. And now it just declares that it all belongs to the state. No one asked the Church, the people that built it. When did the Lavra and the land become state property? They belonged to the Church from time immemorial.

With the massive pressure both geopolitically and ecclesiastically building in Ukraine almost by the day, it is anyone’s guess what will happen next.

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Ukrainian leadership is a party of war, and it will continue as long as they’re in power – Putin

“We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.

RT

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Via RT…


Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has branded the Ukrainian leadership a “party of war” which would continue fueling conflicts while they stay in power, giving the recent Kerch Strait incident as an example.

“When I look at this latest incident in the Black Sea, all what’s happening in Donbass – everything indicates that the current Ukrainian leadership is not interested in resolving this situation at all, especially in a peaceful way,” Putin told reporters during a media conference in the aftermath of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

This is a party of war and as long as they stay in power, all such tragedies, all this war will go on.

The Kiev authorities are craving war primarily for two reasons – to rip profits from it, and to blame all their own domestic failures on it and actions of some sort of “aggressors.”

“As they say, for one it’s war, for other – it’s mother. That’s reason number one why the Ukrainian government is not interested in a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” Putin stated.

Second, you can always use war to justify your failures in economy, social policy. You can always blame things on an aggressor.

This approach to statecraft by the Ukrainian authorities deeply concerns Russia’s President. “We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been soaring after the incident in the Kerch Strait. Last weekend three Ukrainian Navy ships tried to break through the strait without seeking the proper permission from Russia. Following a tense stand-off and altercation with Russia’s border guard, the vessels were seized and their crews detained over their violation of the country’s border.

While Kiev branded the incident an act of “aggression” on Moscow’s part, Russia believes the whole Kerch affair to be a deliberate “provocation” which allowed Kiev to declare a so-called “partial” martial law ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election.

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When Putin Met Bin Sally

Another G20 handshake for the history books.

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Via Zerohedge


In the annals of handshake photo-ops, we just may have a new winner (much to the delight of oil bulls who are looking at oil treading $50 and contemplating jumping out of the window).

Nothing but sheer joy, delight and friendship…

…but something is missing…

Meanwhile, earlier…

Zoomed in…

And again.

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