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Ukraine – why Russia is unpopular

Thursday, 31 March 2022

It’s now been well over a month since Vladmir Putin despatched his incompetent army to invade Ukraine. We already knew Putin was a murderer – innocent English bystanders when he decided to poison people in Salisbury, innocent Australian tourists (and 9 other nationalities) when he decided to shoot down an airliner flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Now we have positive confirmation that he’s also a bungling, inept murderer.

I managed to visit Ukraine twice in the past six years. In 2016 I flew in to Kiev (more correctly Kyiv these days) and continued on to take a daytrip to the site of another Russian disaster, the Chernobyl nuclear site.

Then in 2018 I travelled by bus from Chişinău, the capital of Moldova, via the curious Russian-supported sliver of an artificial nation called Trannistria (capital Tiraspol) to Odessa on the Black Sea. A truly beautiful city Odessa has, so far, managed to escape the destruction the Russians have rained down on Kyiv and other cities around Ukraine.

There’s considerable concern that the Russian assault is going to inflict great damage on Ukraine’s cultural heritage and Global Heritage Fund, which I’m associated with, has teamed up with Europa Nostra to launch a campaign to crowd fund heritage protection. You can donate via Global Heritage or via Europa Nostra. Headquartered in San Francisco Global Heritage will even take donations made in crypto-currencies!

▲ It’s not as if the Russians don’t have form when it comes to heritage destruction in Ukraine. In Kyiv St Michael’s Monastery church was built in 1108 but destroyed by Stalin in 1937 and rebuilt by the Ukrainians in 2001. From the Bell Tower at St Sophia’s Cathedral this is the view over the Bohdan Khmelnytsky statue in Pl Sofiyska and down proyizd Volodymyrsky to St Michael’s Monastery.

▲ In Odessa the Preobrazhensky (Transfiguration Cathedral) was founded in 1794, destroyed by Stalin in 1936 and not rebuilt until 1999-2003, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Stalinist Russia was very enthusiastic about destroying cultural heritage, in the 1930s they devastated cathedrals all around the region as well as in Russia itself. So Putin is certainly following familiar footsteps.

◄ If you need more proof why the Ukrainians should be unenthusiastic about Russia’s current war head to the Holodomor Memorial in Kyiv, dedicated to the victims of Stalin’s Ukraine famine of 1932-33. Just like Mao’s Chinese famine in the Great Leap Forward it was deliberately inflicted. Underneath the memorial there’s a subterranean exhibit, but for non-English speakers it’s down to a computer screen story and a short very angry doco. The Russian-inflicted famine killed about 3.5 million people.

Ukraine – why Russia is unpopular

31 March 2022 | Places

It’s now been well over a month since Vladmir Putin despatched his incompetent army to invade Ukraine. We already knew Putin was a murderer – innocent English bystanders when he decided to poison people in Salisbury, innocent Australian tourists (and 9 other nationali...

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Chad – rock art, amazing scenery & dead Russian tanks

5 March 2022 | Places

So why didn’t I know about Chad before? It’s south of Libya, north of Central African Republic, west of Sudan and east of Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon. Most of the country is in the Sahara, the real Sahara, and the north of the country features two of the Sahara’s five...

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Tony’s Coronavirus Notes & Novak Djokovic

16 January 2022 | Living

Lots of Covid-19 Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Health Security report noted recently that Greece (3,418), Ireland (3,927), San Marino (4,364), Andorra (4,554) and Cyprus (4,855) had all set new records for ‘per capita incidence per million population of new C...

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The Hippie Trail

28 December 2021 | Media

I came across this photo recently, it’s Maureen, our £65 Minivan and me, about to pack it up and set off from England. It’s July 1972, so almost 50 years ago and the Minivan would get us as far as Kabul in Afghanistan, where we sold it. We carried on to Sydney in Aust...

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London – changing? the same?

9 December 2021 | Places

▲ There’s always something new in London, but sometimes I just wish things would stay the same. After 37 years T Burrows has departed 36 James St, just across Oxford St from the Bond St Tube Station. I’ve been a regular customer for years, great shirts, T-shirts, thei...

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Flying the Other Way – London to Melbourne

22 November 2021 | Transport

Back in July 2021 I flew from Melbourne in Australia to London in England and posted how it was a surreal experience. Departing a virtually empty international terminal in Melbourne – the 35 passengers on our Singapore Airlines Airbus A350 was it for the afternoon. Th...

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Corfu – our final Ionian Island

16 November 2021 | Places

Corfu is the northernmost of the Ionian Islands, at the southern end of the Adriatic Sea, almost at the heel of Italy. It’s not the biggest of the Ionian Islands in terms of land area, but it’s certainly number one in terms of tourists. The constant shuttle of cruise ...

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The Ionian Islands

15 November 2021 | Places

The Ionian Islands of Greece – Zakynthos, Ithanki (or Ithaca), Corfu, Kefalonia, Lefkada, Paxi (or Paxos) and Kythira are the seven largest and there are a host of smaller ones. They step along the western side of Greece, ending where the Ionian Sea blends in to the A...

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Mani Peninsula & Messenia Peninsula in the Peloponnese, Greece

10 November 2021 | Places

Having visited the walled town of Monemvasia on the Cape Malea peninsula, the second of the Peloponnese peninsulas moving west from Athens, we moved on to the other two peninsulas. ▲ Mermaid on the harbour wall at Gytheio ◄ Our second stop was Gytheio on the Ma...

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Monemvasia – a Greek walled town

8 November 2021 | Places

My recent travels have taken me to Norfolk and Northumberland in England, to the island of Ibiza in Spain and to assorted Ionian islands and along the Pelopponesian coast of Greece. Monemvasia is 300km from Athens by road, rather less distance by sea. It’s towards the...

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