Ukrainian world chess champion not playing in dictatorial Saudi Arabia


This video is called The Famous Chess Trap In Action By Anna Muzychuk.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

‘I am ready to stand for my principles’: Double world chess champion says she won’t defend titles in Saudi Arabia because of kingdom’s inequality

The Ukrainian, 27, will not travel to Saudi Arabia, where she wouldn’t even be allowed to walk down the street unaccompanied

It would be great if the Ukrainian government would have principles as well, and would follow the example of this chess player by stopping selling Ukrainian warplanes to the Saudi absolute monarchy for their bloody war on the civilian people of Yemen. However, as they are waging their own bloody war against their own compatriots, I am afraid they won’t do that unless they are under big pressure to stop.

Ed Malyon, Sports Editor

Tuesday 26 December 2017 15:17 GMT

It takes years of work, days of staring at a board and hours of agonising over individuals moves en route to becoming a world champion in chess.

And it takes only a short-sighted decision from its governing body to ensure you lose that crown.

“In a few days I am going to lose two World Champion titles – one by one,” Anna Muzychuk says.

“Just because I decided not to go to Saudi Arabia.”

Muyzchuk is the defending world champion in two disciplines of speed chess – rapid and blitz. In rapid, each player gets 15 minutes to complete all of their moves and in blitz it is just 10.

The 27-year-old Ukrainian had been looking forward to defending her championships won in Doha, Qatar in 2016 but this year’s competition, hosted by a political rival, has already faced far more opposition than any chess competition ever should.

For Muzychuk and her sister Mariya, another chess pro, their refusal is on the grounds that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not treat women with anything even approaching equality – a country where the sisters would not be allowed outside unless escorted by a man.

“[I decided] not to play by someone’s rules, not to wear abaya, not to be accompanied getting outside, and altogether not to feel myself a secondary creature,” she said in an emotional statement.

“Exactly one year ago I won these two titles and was about the happiest person in the chess world but this time I feel really bad. I am ready to stand for my principles and skip the event, where in five days I was expected to earn more than I do in a dozen of events combined.”

And therein lies the problem. Saudi Arabia are understood to have paid in the region of US$1.5m to host the tournament, which will be called the King Salman World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships. That fee is four times what the host usually forks out and the prize money at this week’s event is many multiples of what players would usually expect to receive – particularly championship contenders like Anna. …

But it is not just women who have had problems with the Saudi-hosted event.

The very fact that this country is hosting a world chess tournament for the first time is controversial domestically as it comes two years after the country’s top cleric issued a religious edict against playing the board game. Saudi Arabia’s top cleric, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Sheikh, said in early 2016 that chess is “forbidden” in Islam because it wastes time and can lead to rivalry among players. …

Then there are the political issues, with countries that are currently geo-political rivals of the Kingdom complaining they have not received visas to enter the country and compete.

Israelis say Saudi Arabia ignored requests by Israeli players to obtain visas to participate in the tournament, perhaps unsurprising given that Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have diplomatic relations. But Qatar and Iran have reported similar grievances. While the top three male players are all travelling for the tournament, many will be missing and the women’s competition is still reeling from Muzychuk’s withdrawal on Tuesday.

“All that other stuff is annoying, but the most upsetting thing is that almost nobody really cares,” Muzychuk added in her Facebook post.

“That is a really bitter feeling, still not the one to change my opinion and my principles. The same goes for my sister Mariya – and I am really happy that we share this point of view. And yes, for those few who care – we’ll be back!”

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Child, LGBTQ refugees deported to Afghan, Ukrainian war zones


This video from Britain says about itself:

Children Deported to Afghanistan, BBC 2015 Documentary

Deported to Afghanistan. Over the past ten years, thousands of unaccompanied children have fled to the UK from war-torn Afghanistan, but when they turn 18 …

On 21 December 2017, the Dutch parliament voted on some motions about refugees.

First, the motion by Socialist Party (SP) MPs Ms Sadet Karabulut and Mr Jasper van Dijk, against forcibly deporting Afghan children to Afghanistan, where a war is going on. Apart from the SP, some other parties like the Party for the Animals (PvdD) voted for this.

That was unfortunately not enough. A majority voted against. That included the two most xenophobic parties: Geert Wilders‘ PVV and Thierry Baudet‘s FvD. That included also the MPs of the new Dutch four party coalition government, with its just one MP majority: VVD, CDA, D66 and Christian Union. The right-wing VVD and CDA parties are scared of losing votes to PVV and FvD. D66 and Christian Union used to be less anti-refugee than CDA and D66, but now go along with them because of the government coalition.

Then came the motion by Van Ojik and Kuiken of the GroenLinks party, against forcibly deporting LGBTQ refugees to Ukraine, where there is a war as well and violent homophobia, including by people with high level government jobs.

Exactly the same parties (SP, PvdD, etc.) voted for this motion as voted for the Afghanistan motion. Exactly the same parties voted against. One might expect that from the religious fundamentalist Christian Union. But it is somewhat unexpected for D66 who claim they support LGBTQ rights.

Finally, a motion by Van Ojik of the GroenLinks party, to designate refugees from Iraq (also a country at war, dangerous for returning any refugees to) who have converted from Islam to another religion as an especially at risk group, who should have special guarantees against deportation. Again, roughly the same parties voted for and against.

Not completely the same: this time, the fundamentalist protestant SGP party voted in favour, as they favour converting to Christianity.

That the Islamophobic PVV party voted no is not so surprising if one knows that this party basically hates all foreigners, including from mainly Christian countries like Romania and Poland. However, the PVV in the past claimed to love ex-Muslims. There was a committee in the Netherlands calling itself a committee of ex-Muslims. Its most prominent member Ehsan Jami was not an ex-Muslim. His father was atheist, his mother Christian. The other members of that short-lived committee were not ex-Muslims either: a man who had never been a Muslim, and a Muslim woman who wanted to stay Muslim but considered reforms were needed.

Geert Wilders’ Islamophobic party then employed Jami as a parliamentary aide.

As a reaction to the Ehsan Jami committee of ‘ex-Muslims’ who had never been Muslims, another Dutch committee of ex-Muslims was founded. This time by people who had really grown up as Muslims, but later did not consider themselves as such. And who rejected Jami and PVV Islamophobia. That other, real, ex-Muslim committee did a press conference in a Dutch Moroccan mosque; disproving the propaganda by Jami and the PVV that supposedly all Muslims virulently hate and want to kill ex-Muslims.

So, Wilders’ PVV proclaimed their platonic love for ex-Muslims. In practice, they want to deport them to war zones in Iraq.

Ex-Georgian dictator, refugee from Ukraine to the Netherlands?


This 20 September 2013 video is called Torture Tape Rage: Thousands protest Georgian prison horror.

That scandal of sexual torture in the prisons of Georgia led to the downfall of dictator Mikheil Saakashvili.

Eventually, Saakashvili lost not only his job as dictator, but also his Georgian passport.

It was not a total downfall. In Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, Panama Papers billionaire because of chocolate and military production corporations, had become president after the violent expulsion of his predecessor. Poroshenko gave Saakashvili a new, Ukrainian, passport. More still: he gave Saakashvili the governorship of Odessa province.

However, not so much later, Saakashvili and Poroshenko quarreled. Poroshenko canceled Saakashvili’s governorship and his Ukrainian passport.

What then?

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Saakashvili explores moving to the Netherlands

Today, 16:44

The Georgian former president Mikhail Saakashvili may come to the Netherlands to be with his wife Sandra Roelofs. He is now in Ukraine, where he is at odds with the authorities.

Saakashvili’s lawyer has requested that the stateless Georgian be brought to the Netherlands on the basis of family reunification. According to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Saakashvili is eligible because he is married to a Dutch woman with whom he has two sons.

Saakashvili can not return to Georgia and has a quarrel in Ukraine with his former ally, President Poroshenko. He was governor of Odessa in Ukraine. … Poroshenko finally tried to have his old friend arrested, but Saakashili managed to escape from a police van with the help of his supporters.

Will the Dutch government now welcome Saakashvili as a political refugee; maybe even give him a third, Dutch, passport? Possible, as Saakashvili was a ‘pro-Western’ dictator; who, eg, like the Dutch government, sent soldiers to Iraq and to Afghanistan to help George W Bush in his wars.

However, if one looks at hardline anti-refugee policies in the European Union, including the Netherlands, then Saakashvili has reasons to be not so optimistic. According to governments like the Dutch government, even war zones like Iraq or Afghanistan are supposedly ‘safe’ countries to forcibly return refugees to. Say, a poor unemployed Ukrainian worker, fleeing to the Netherlands because he is scared of neofascist paramilitary gangs which not only steal paintings from Dutch and from Italian museums, but also kill fellow Ukrainians in Ukraine, will probably get to hear from Dutch authorities: ‘War in Ukraine? That is only in the east. Ukraine is a safe country and a friendly country to us. We will deport you’.

Family reunification for refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan etc. is also hard in the Netherlands.

Still, Saakashvili’s status as a former pro-NATO dictator may earn him privileged treatment from Dutch authorities compared to that hypothetical Ukrainian poor worker refugee, or these Syrian, Iraqi, Afghan etc. refugees.

Dutch corporate media are usually very uncritical on Saakashvili, in which a factor is that his wife is Dutch.

It is not self-evident that Saakashvili’s Dutch wife will really welcome him. As in 2013, as quoted in an earlier post on this blog, she sounded rather critical:

Roelofs herself has remained in Georgia and let the newspaper know that she feels more like being married to the country than being married to her husband. She also criticized the political actions of her husband. He had too much haste and then “you will make mistakes and you will make enemies.” She says that Saakashvili refused to listen when she mentioned criticism she had heard on her travels through the country.

Ukrainian anti-Franco fighter’s monument vandalized


This Deutsche Welle video from Germany says about itself:

Franco’s terrible legacy | Focus on Europe

13 October 2016

The bodies of over 100,000 victims of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship have yet to be recovered. Spain is littered with mass graves. Many Spaniards are now searching for the remains of lost relatives.

By James Tweedie in Britain:

International brigader‘s statue torn down in Ukraine

Wednesday 6th December 2017

THE International Brigades Memorial Trust (IBMT) has condemned the desecration at the weekend of a monument to a Ukrainian who died in the Spanish Civil War.

Trust secretary Jim Jump spoke out after the statue of Yuriy Velikanovich in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv was toppled on Saturday night and scrawled with the graffiti “commies out.”

Mr Jump told the Morning Star that the IBMT “deplores such acts of vandalism” which were “sadly part of a trend in eastern Europe and elsewhere to denigrate those who fought fascism in the 1930s and ’40s.”

Mr Velikanovich was killed at the Battle of the Ebro, the largest and bloodiest of the three-year war, on September 4 1938 while fighting with the Taras Shevchenko volunteer company, named after the Ukrainian national poet.

He was a teacher by profession and served as a war reporter in Spain before joining combat.

His monument, designed by Theodosia Bryzh, was erected in the city’s Iron Water Park in 1982. Vandals cut the head off the statue in 2015, a year after the far-right Euromaidan coup, but it had been repaired.

A street in the city was also named after him but was renamed in 1991 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Yuriy Velikanovich monument in Lviv before the vandalism

Neofascist coup in Ukraine?


This 2015 video is called Small Ukrainian child is taught to kill Russians and do the Sieg Heil salute.

By Jason Melanovski:

Far-right nationalist groups march in Kiev

23 October 2017

Thousands of members and supporters of far-right nationalist political parties and organizations marched in Kiev on October 14 in a parade they dubbed a “March to the Glory of Heroes.” The parade marked the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and gave the country’s far-right political groups an opportunity to pay their respects to Ukrainian nationalist war criminals such as Stepan Bandera. Since 2014, the date has been recognized in Ukraine officially as the “Defender of Ukraine Day.”

The march was organized jointly by the Right Sector and Svoboda political parties, along with the Ukrainian National Corps, which is a civil military organization constituted mainly of members from the far-right paramilitary Azov Battalion. Participants carried torches, flares, portraits of Bandera and flags of their respective far-right parties, while chanting right-wing slogans and performing the Sieg-Heil. Many marchers were dressed in full paramilitary garb.

Svoboda Party leader Oleh Tyahnybok xenophobically warned the crowd against foreigners within the country, stating that the UPA “fought against the Moscow invaders, against the Polish, German, Magyar occupiers. And we see that the current situation in Ukraine is pretty much the same.”

The official Ukrainian press agency attempted to downplay attendance numbers at the fascist march, stating that only 2,000 people had attended, while the march’s organizers put the numbers at approximately 20,000. It was clear, however, from videos of the event and reports from other media outlets that attendance was well above the official number given by the Ukrainian government.

The march took place as rumors swirled in the Ukrainian press that Arsen Avakov, the Minister of Internal Affairs, was preparing a coup against President Poroshenko on the same day at the march. On October 11, Ukrainska Pravda reported that Avakov had joked with reporter Oleksiy Bratuschak, stating, “We’re preparing a coup.” Seconds later, he added, however, “Against Poroshenko I am not planning any subversion, I am not preparing a coup.”

Avakov is known for his relationships with Ukraine’s far-right. Through his control of Ukraine’s National Guard, he would be capable of attempting a coup against the oligarchic Poroshenko regime, which is not deemed sufficiently nationalistic or militaristic by Ukraine’s extremist right-wing groups.

There is widespread speculation within Ukraine that Poroshenko will be unable to complete the remaining years in his presidential term due to his enormous unpopularity. Poroshenko’s current approval rating is less than 20 percent.

The week following the fascist march in Kiev another political rally calling itself a meeting for “Great Political Reform” was held in the country’s capital directly in front the Ukrainian Parliament. The event was led by former Georgian president and governor of the Ukrainian city of Odessa Mikheil Saakashvili, who used the rally as an opportunity to denounce “corruption” within the Poroshenko regime.

Saakashvili had previously been an ally of the Poroshenko regime, but was stripped of Ukrainian citizenship and exiled from the country in July after a fallout with Kiev. Saakashvili was able to return to the country last month after crossing the Polish border with assistance from right-wing forces within the Ukrainian government.

The rally was also supported by the party of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, as well as the Self-Help, Democratic Alliance, Automaidan, and the far-right Svoboda parties. Tymoshenko has already announced plans to run against Poroshenko in the next presidential elections in 2019.

The protesters, carrying shields and UPA flags, clashed with police, attacked parliament members and attempted to set up tents in an effort to initiate a new “Maidan.”

Prior to the rally, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) announced they had thwarted plans by right-wing forces to carry out “armed provocations” with rocket launchers and automatic weapons.

This 2015 video is called Ukrainian Child Taught to Sieg Heil, Chant “I Will Cut Russians” “Death to Russians”.