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Editorial: MH17 Tragedy Will Help End Russia's Support for the Rebels

Published: July 19, 2014 (Issue # 1820)



  • Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 at Schiphol Airport.
    Photo: Jason Tan / Flickr

On the afternoon of June 17, Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot out of the sky over the Ukrainian city of Donetsk. In the ensuing crash, none of the 298 passengers on board survived.

The Donetsk region, located near Ukraine's border with Russia, has been the scene of fierce fighting between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian army for months. Likely one of these two sides is responsible for shooting down the plane.

Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17's passage over Ukraine was a brief interval in a long voyage from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. A number of different nationalities were represented on board, including 154 Dutch citizens. Many were heading to an important AIDS conference in Australia. While some of those who died may have been familiar with the conflict raging 33,000 feet below, none of them could ever have thought it would impact their lives so tragically.

The Ukrainian crisis has already seen many tragedies, from the deaths of pro-EU protestors in February, which helped topple Ukraine's former pro-Russian government, to the many fighters on both sides who have died in combat, to the dozens of civilians caught in the cross-fire. Up until now, though, many of those involved in the crisis could still convince themselves that they were fighting for a cause worth dying for.

The Ukrainian Army, allied with activists from the country's west, believe they are fighting for their county's liberty from Russian influence. The separatists fighting against them, brainwashed by Russian propaganda and frightened by the ham-fisted nationalism of Kiev's new government, believe they are fighting against a fascist coup.

Unfortunately, even in the wake of this devastating loss of life, higher civilian casualties could be in the offing.

Prior to the downing of flight MH17, the Ukrainian Amy was preparing to besiege the rebels holed up in heavily populated Donetsk. As military forces, neither the Ukrainian army nor the rebels are of the highest calibre. And even the Israeli military, one of the most professional armed forces in the world, has been unable to avoid high civilian casualties in its recent attack on Palestine. An assault on Donetsk could lead to a massive loss of civilian life, as well as the destruction of one of Ukraine's major urban centers.

Sadly, neither the separatists in Donetsk nor the politicians in Kiev and Moscow have expressed interest so far in treating the plane's destruction as a launching point for reconciliation efforts.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Nov. 26


AmCham’s Public Relations Committee will meet this afternoon in their office in the New St. Isaac’s Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha at 4 p.m.


Zoosphere, an international exhibition focusing on the pet industry, opens today at the Lenexpo convention center on Vasilievsky Island. Not only will items such as toys, terrariums and accessories be available for purchase, but animal enthusiasts can also learn about the latest in veterinary medicine and behavioral training thanks to the conferences and presentations that are part of the event.



Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg’s showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the team’s website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literature’s most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poet’s birthday. The tragic tenor’s work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russia’s greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test one’s intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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