Archive | occupation RSS feed for this section

Political Resistance against Russian Aggresion

23 May

From Kyiv Post, with Olena Tregub, May 2, 2014

The “anti-terrorist operation” the Ukrainian government launched in eastern and southern Ukraine to displace the Russian-backed separatist militia has been a failure. The acting Ukrainian president Oleksandr V. Turchynov himself acknowledged on April 30 that the “overwhelming majority of security forces in the east are not able to carry out their duty to defend our citizens.”


Crimean Tatars in protest to commemorate 70th anniversary of 1944 deportation. Russian-occupied Symferopol, Crimea, May 18, 2014

The overall struggle of separatists and their backers has clear political objectives: to hold local referenda and win support for secession of a large minority or ideally majority of the regions’ population; either voluntarily or through falsification. The problem is that for this political struggle the Ukrainian government mobilized merely the military instrument – the very tool for which its adversaries hold a strong suit. In fact, the separatists have a clear advantage over Ukrainian forces that have poor organizational skills and training to deal with a limited scale guerrilla insurgency embedded with small but boisterous pro-rebel civilian crowds.

This kind of political struggle calls for total political resistance, not military engagement.

In the call for total political resistance the Ukrainian authorities would address two simple but crucial questions:

1. How can unarmed local populations make the life of the occupiers in Crimea and separatists in southeast Ukraine difficult?

2. How can the social cohesion and solidarity among Ukrainians be enhanced despite ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity?

The call for total political resistance could thus offer general “tips” or “resistance recommendations” equally to help guide actions, stimulate people’s imaginations and expand their resourcefulness given their abilities, skills and risks which they are willing to take.

The Ukrainian government, together with mainstream and social media could launch a nationwide campaign of total political resistance that would recommend specific actions and expected behavior from Ukrainians at a time of crisis, including:

· Do not give out any information to separatists

· Ignore separatists’ request for assistance

· Do not serve them when they come to buy groceries, water, medicine or other products or charge them more than usual; or sell them bad, expired goods

· Do not exchange their dollars to local currency or vice versa

· If separatists want to stay in your hotel or home give them the worst rooms and food. Inform them that restrooms do not work

· Protect, offer shelter and extend your solidarity to Ukrainians, Ukrainian Russians and Ukrainian Jews and other minorities who are attacked because of their pro-Ukrainian views

· Use your balconies and windows to display Ukrainian flags or Ukrainian national colors

· Wear cloths with Ukrainian national colors and Ukrainian traditional dress

· Go to the local Ukrainian churches for collective prayers

· Design, print and distribute thousands of leaflets and brochures in villages, towns and cities across eastern and southern Ukraine about what life would be like under Russian occupation

· Engage in pro-Ukrainian graffiti that could mark towns

· Paint trees, buildings, and other city landmarks in Ukrainian colors with difficult-to-remove materials

In Crimea, if you work for a state-owned company serving the new Russian administration (e.g. postal service, telephone companies, public administration, railroad administration, etc.):

· Work slowly

· Do not complete tasks on time

· Complete administrative tasks incompetently and without much enthusiasm

· Produce and offer poor-quality goods and services

· Treat machinery carelessly

· Take excessive sick leave

· Delay in responding if they call you and operate with slow reactivity in your professional communications with government structures

· Increase consumption of power to push the power system to its limits

· Do not pay taxes and other government bills

· Protect, offer shelter and extend solidarity to Ukrainians, Ukrainian Russians, Tatars and other minorities who oppose Russian occupation

· Increase the costs of the Russian annexation in any imaginable way short of violence

For some, political resistance can be viewed as naïve and weak given the level of repression. After all, activists are targeted, kidnapped and killed in eastern Ukraine.

However, political resistance does not imply that life will not be lost but that the probability and scale of killings will be still much lower than when the armed conflicts breaks out. Political resistance is about staying alive as much as the armed struggle is about killing. And, it is political resistance, not armed struggle that holds greater promise for saving civilian lives, and preserving country’s infrastructure while at the same time imposing considerable costs on the adversary. Finally, it is political resistance that holds greater promise to awaken those in eastern and southern Ukraine who are now apathetic, fearful and withdrawn.

Furthermore, if armed groups use the language of violence our natural reaction is to use the language they understand well. However, more effective way would be to develop a strategy that they either do not understand or for which they lack training. Political resistance might work better where the current “anti-terrorist operations” failed – namely, in keeping separatist militia and its Russian backers off-balance and mobilizing the local population in active though unarmed opposition.

For those who look for a military solution against an armed adversary it is appropriate to recall the words of the British captain Basil Liddell Hart, who interrogated German generals after the World War II: “[Nazi Germans] were experts in violence, and had been trained to deal with opponents who used that method. But other forms of resistance baffled them- and all the more in proportion as the methods were subtle and concealed. It was a relief to them when resistance became violent, and when non-violent forms were mixed with guerrilla action, thus making it easier to combine drastic suppressive action against both at the same time.”

While launching total political resistance the Ukrainian government together with Ukrainian civil society would emphasize the message: small triumphs through the acts of political resistance will prove to you and others that ordinary people: women, men, elderly, disabled and even children can do things to support the country and Ukrainians are not defenseless even if they do not have arms.

Beautiful, strategic, and realistic – the Ukrainian resistance against Russian aggression

17 Mar
Do not panic! Organize!

Do not panic! Organize!

During the last 17 days – from the date of the Russian military aggression in Crimea (Feb.27) to the referendum on the peninsula (Mar. 16) Ukrainians have launched one of the most impressive civil resistance campaigns in the history of unarmed struggles with foreign military invasions and occupation. The richness and creativity of the actions that Ukrainians undertook matched their strategic value as well as a realistic assessment of the military strengths of the Ukrainian army vis-à-vis its Russian counterpart. There is also a strategy of not responding to provocations and maintaining a remarkable posture of restraint even in the midst of escalating confrontation – all in order to not give the Russian regime what it wants: a bloody pretext that could be used to justify a deeper military incursion of the Russian army into Ukrainian territory.

The strategic Ukrainian resistance consists of at least five types of actions:
– Building-up economic pressure on Russian companies
– Reaching out to the Russian civil society
– Unarmed defense pursued by the Ukrainian army
– Fostering unity among Ukrainian society in the face of a foreign invasion and relentless Russian propaganda
– Reforms of the state assisted by the mobilized Ukrainian society

The overall strategy of the unarmed engagement is based on the realistic (given the Russian military superiority), and often beautiful, nonviolent actions carried out by hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens all over the country. In the last 17 days, these actions, among others, included:


  • There is a growing boycott of products made in Russia or imported from Russia into Ukraine. It is spearheaded by the same group of activists that led the boycott campaign against the financial and economic assets owned by the members of the Party of Region. Their Facebook page now has close to 60,000 members and they use their activist skills honed during the anti-Yanukovych campaign to lead the boycott campaign against Russia. One of the activists acknowledged that the boycott of Russian goods is much easier than the economic boycott of the Party of Regions – there is no need to convince people to do it and no one is worried about being fired. The activists-bloggers issued the call to boycott the Russian products and distributed the list of the Russian companies and goods, together with the Russian products’ bar code 046,  on the Ukrainian market. In Lviv, 7,000 “boycott flyers”‘ with the list of Russian products were distributed in front of the French supermarkets, Auchan. The flyers and activists warned that buying the Russian-made goods meant giving financial support to the occupant. The German supermarket chain, Billa in Ukraine, coincidentally began placing small national flags, including the Russian one, next to the price tags of the products on the shelves. Activists say this helps customers to quickly identify the countries where particular goods are from in order to help the boycott.  Flashmobs of “dead bodies” appear in the supermarkets to dramatize the need for the boycott of Russian goods so as not to “pay for the occupation and war.”  Some grocery stores are already reportedly offering discounts on the boycotted products, and there are still no customers willing to buy them.  Protesters on some roads in Ukraine encouraged drivers to boycott Russia’s second largest oil company, Lukoil and to stop using their gas stations. The passing drivers gave support to the picketing activists by pressing their car’s horns and flashing their car’s lights.

Reaching out to the Russian people and their rulers

  • An open letter from the Russian speaking Ukrainians and ethnic Russians living in Ukraine was sent to President Putin rejecting his military intervention and stating that their interests do not need to be protected by another state. More than 142,000 people have signed, and the number is still rising. Ordinary Russian-speaking individuals in Ukraine issued their own public pleas to the Russian government and President Putin to withdraw Russian troops from Ukraine and respect their country’s territorial integrity. Russian citizens in Ukraine said in the videopost that they do not need to be rescued by Russia. Ukrainian Jews (a majority of whom are Russian speakers) issued an open letter to Putin in which they say that they “do not wish to be defended” by the Russian state and strongly oppose “sundering Ukraine and annexing its territory.”
  • Open letters were written and signed by Ukrainians of various professions, addressed to their Russian counterparts. The letter of Ukrainian cinematographers to their Russian colleagues with the call for solidarity stipulated the latter’s public response to state their opposition to the Russian military intervention in Ukraine. Famous Russian rock singers called for peace and friendship between Russians and Ukrainians. Well-known Ukrainian actors and writers posted their video appeals to Russians.
  • Ukrainian scholars and academic institutions issued a public appeal to their colleagues in Russia after the Russian parliament approved the military invasion of Ukraine. They expressed their deep concerns about the propaganda that sows disinformation about the situation in Ukraine and particularly the Russian speakers in Ukraine  while emphasizing cultural and historical ties between the Ukrainian and Russian people. They emphasized that there was no conflict over the language or culture. The language of science and education is the language of peace and cooperation. And they called on their Russian counterparts to influence the Russian government and to do all they can to prevent war between the two brotherly nations. In response, the representatives of the Russian academic and education community  expressed their solidarity with their Ukrainian colleagues and offered their support to the Ukrainian people in their efforts to achieve “freedom, democracy and social justice.” They also called on all Russian scientists, scholars, students and teachers to sign the solidarity letter.
  • Ukrainian artists and intellectuals publicly appealed to Russian artists and people of culture who expressed their support for Putin and his military intervention in Ukraine. The appeal countered Putin’s propaganda about the violent Maidan, discrimination against the Russian speakers in Ukraine and legitimacy of the referendum in Crimea. The appeal ended with the comment that those who support the occupation lose the moral right to ever walk on Ukrainian soil.
  • Ukrainian retired and serving soldiers are reaching out to Russian army officers with the appeal to not support military intervention in Ukraine. A Ukrainian writer sent an open letter to his colleague and former classmate from the military college who is now general in the Russian intelligence directorate and asked him to influence the decisions of his bosses so the blood of “your and our children will not be spilled.” In the last part of the letter he offers his classmate the examples of heroic actions by other soldiers who saved civilian population in past conflicts even though they knew they would face the consequences for their disobedience.
  • Odessa residents called Putin to let him know that they are doing just fine as Russian speakers in Ukraine and do not need special protection from the Russian government.
  • Ukrainians have reached out to their family members, friends and colleagues in Russia to explain the Russian regime’s manipulation of information about Ukraine and the situation of the Russian-speaking population that is neither discriminated against nor asking to be rescued by any external military intervention.

Nonviolent restraint of the Ukrainian army

  • Nonviolent defense is the official defense strategy of the Ukrainian government as far as its soldiers stationed in Crimea are concerned. According to Oleksandr Turchynov, the speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, the Ukrainian army in Crimea defends its military bases, equipment, and its ships without arms in order to not fall for provocations.
  • A Ukrainian army unit in Kerchi (in Crimea) organized an anti-war music concert. The Russian soldiers stationed nearby heard the concert. They said they liked the music. Fraternization “from a distance” between Russian and Ukrainian soldiers can also take on a more humorous quality like the encounter between a Ukrainian captain and a Russian vice-admiral. A Russian ship ordered the Ukrainian military frigate “Ternopil” to surrender. The response of the Ukrainian captain was,  “Russians do not capitulate.” When asked to explain, the captain said that he is ethnically Russian, but swore allegiance to defend the Ukrainian people and Ukraine, and he cannot break that oath. The Russian vice-admiral was reported to have said to his soldiers, “Learn [from this captain] how to serve with honor and dignity.”

The nonviolent restraint that the Ukrainian army and society have shown in the face of the armed invasion of Crimea, and the citizens’ campaign to reach out to their Russian counterparts and the general population have all paid off. Though the Russian population’s support for Putin remains very high — close to 70 percent – Russian society is not a monolith, and Ukrainians can seek potential allies there and rely on their support.

Civilians in Crimea loyal to Ukraine

  • Protests of 15,000 women and children all over Crimea were organized against Russian military intervention during a holiday that is popular  in both Ukraine and Russia – the March 8 ‘International Women’s Day’ (see the videos). The protesters created a human chain in protest against the Russian military intervention on the peninsula. At the same time on Maidan in Kyiv, women held a solidarity rally and wrote postcards with words of support for the Crimean women.

Referendum in Crimea- March 16

  • While the referendum in Crimea was taking place, a pro-Ukrainian protest in Dnipropetrovsk, on the east was organized in support of the Ukrainian people’s unity against the referendum.

National unity campaigns

  • At the beginning of March, the city councils of Odessa, Kharkiv, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Dnipropetrovsk condemned the Russian aggression. Solidarity and unity demonstrations were joined by several thousands of residents in Donetsk (10,000 protesters), and in Kharkiv and Odessa (20,000 protesters). These took place on March 2, March 4 and March 5 respectively. People sang patriotic songs and called for territorial integrity of Ukraine. Thirty one rectors of the universities in Kharkiv (the city traditionally close to Russia) publicly criticized the Russian military intervention. On March 9, 3000 Odessans crowded the famous Potemkin stairs in Odessa Port to support the territorial integrity of Ukraine and sang the Ukrainian national anthem

Protests against the Russian military invasion

  • Thirty Odessan activists hung spaghetti on the front fence of the Russian consulate in the city to “thank” the Russian government for the anti-Ukrainian propaganda and to protest the lies. Spaghetti on the fence illustrated the Russian proverb of hanging noodles on someone’s ear to show they have been lying. Automaidan – active during the revolution against Yanukovych – organized auto-actions in Odessa on March 8, in front of the Russian consulate to protest the Russian military invasion.

Mobilized Ukrainian society pressures the new government to deliver while it also confers legitimacy on it

  • Activists and the police serve in joint patrols throughout the city to maintain the security on the streets. Activists also maintain the Maidan barricades and pressure the politicians to move Ukraine closer to the EU and to begin implementing needed socio-economic reforms. Automonitor – that emerged from Automaidan – picketed Verkhovna Rada to force her to deliver on her promises of effective work.
  • The Maidan civic groups (Euromaidan Public Sector and “New Citizen”) launched the “Intensive Reforms Package” initiative that brings together 120 experts and activists to work on the blueprint for reforms.
  • Maidan activist, Yegor Sobolev, heads the newly established Lustration Committee.

Check the article on nonviolent victory of the Ukrainian Maidan that includes examples of nonviolent actions that Ukrainians used to fight the Yanukovych regime.

Nonviolent commandments against foreign aggression- learn from Danes, Czechs & Slovaks

12 Mar

1653535_10201566948037176_1375526126_n“Ten Commandments” for Danes to resist the German occupiers:
1. You must not go to work in Germany […]
2. You shall do a bad job for the Germans
3. You shall work slowly for the Germans
4. You shall destroy important machines and tools [that are used or are likely to be used by Germans]
5. You shall destroy everything which may be of benefit to the Germans
6. You shall delay all transport [used by and useful for Germans]
7. You shall boycott German films and [news]papers
8. You must not shop at Nazis’ stores
9. You shall treat traitors for what they are worth
10. You shall protect anyone chased by the Germans

Source: Ackerman & DuVall, A Force More Powerful. A Century of Nonviolent Conflict, page 212.

10 заповедей при оккупации, на этот раз из Дании времен WW2:

1. Не поезжай на работу в Германию
2. Работай на немцев плохо
3. Работай на немцев медленно
4. Уничтожай важные машины и инструментв [которые могут использовать немцы]
5. Уничтожай все, что приносит пользу немцам
6. Задерживай весь транспорт [используемый немцами]
7. Бойкотируй немецкие фильмы и газеты
8. Не покупай в магазинах нацистов
9. Обращайся с предателями, как они того заслуживают
10. Защищай любого, кого преследуют немцы


“Ten Commandments”* of nonviolent resistance by Czechs and Slovaks against the Soviet troops. Published in the newspaper Vecerni Prah on August 26, 1968 – 6 days after the Soviet invasion:

When a Soviet soldier comes to you, YOU:
1. Don’t know
2. Don’t care
3. Don’t tell
4. Don’t have
5. Don’t know how to
6. Don’t give
7. Can’t do
8. Don’t sell
9. Don’t show
10. Do nothing

*Source Czech and Slovak Defiance of Invasion – 1968-1969 in Gene Sharp, Waging Nonviolent Struggle. 20th Century Practice and 21th Century Potential, Porter Sergent Publishers, Boston 2005, p. 200.
10 заповідей ненасільницького опору, що застосовувались чехами і словаками проти радянських військ у 1968. Варто брати на озброєння.

Коли радянський солдат підходить до тебе ТИ:
1. Не знаєш
2. Не переймаєшся
3. Не кажеш
4. Не маєш
5. Не знаєш як
6. Не даєш
7. Не робиш
8. Не продаєш
9. Не покажеш
10. Нічого не робиш


Десять заповедей чехов и словаков, которые они применяли во время советской интервенции в 1968 году (из газеты “Вечерняя Прага”, 26 августа 1968):

Когда к вам подходит советский солдат, вы:
1. Не знаете
2. Не беспокоитесь
3. Не говорите
4. Не имеете
5. Не знаете, как
6. Не даете
7. Не можете
8. Не продаете
9. Не показываете
10. Не делаете ничего


Show Buttons
Hide Buttons