Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 17.01.2018
Putin hates the Ukrainian flag. It enrages him. The blue and yellow banner symbolizes the freedom and independence of the Ukrainian people, who were never a part of the “Russian World” and never will be. Most of all, Putin knows that as long as the Ukrainian flag waves proudly, the hammer and sickle flag of the 1920 to 1991 Russian regime of state terror will never come back.
When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2014 the first thing that Russian special forces soldiers did when they occupied the regional parliament building in Simferopol, Crimea was to tear down the Ukrainian flag. Russian invader-occupiers continue to display a violent animus towards any display of natural patriotic feeling by Ukrainians in Ukraine. In the occupied territories of Crimea and Donbas, the foreign invaders from Muscovy persecute any person among the captive population who displays the Ukrainian flag.
Volodymyr Balukh is a Ukrainian citizen living in what is now Russian-occupied Crimea. He is being persecuted by the foreign occupation regime for flying the Ukrainian flag over his home and for his steadfast loyalty to Ukraine. On January 15, Balukh was ‘sentenced’ to three years seven months imprisonment in a kangaroo court. As is usual in Putin’s political show trials, Balukh was charged and convicted of bogus criminal offences for which no credible evidence was presented and for which no credible witnesses were called. It is probable that Volodymyr Balukh will be stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship (an illegal act by Russia), have Russian citizenship forced upon him (an illegal act by Russia), and be transported out of his home country of Ukraine to a penal colony in Russia (an illegal act by Russia). Balukh’s mother, who is 76 years old, nearly blind, and unable to look after the family farm on her own, will be unable to visit her son. Such is the barbarity of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In his final address to his tormentors, Volodymyr Balukh said “it is absolutely clear that this is political persecution for my beliefs. Nothing more.” He then struck at the heart of Russia’s propaganda lies about the invasion of Ukraine, saying “everything that happened in the spring of 2014 is a great crime for which everyone will be punished sooner or later.” He paid tribute to the defenders of Ukraine who have fought and died for the homeland: “And the tears of the mothers of the boys who fight for the right, and for self-determination, and for freedom, and for dignity, at the cost of their own lives. How much they have already paid.” Balukh ended by saying “victory is still in thought and in spirit, so Glory to Ukraine.”
The Putin regime vents its hatred of the Ukrainian flag in Russia-invaded and occupied Donbas, too. Vlad Ovcharenko and Artem Akhmerov were ‘sentenced’ to 17 years and 13 years imprisonment respectively for displaying the Ukrainian flag in Luhansk, Ukraine and for burning the flag of the terrorist organization, the so-called “LPR.” After enduring torture, solitary confinement, harsh treatment and abuse of their human rights of all kinds, Ovcharenko and Akhmerov were released on 27 December 2017 in the prisoner-swap between Ukraine and Russia (Russia acting in the guise of its terrorist organizations “DPR” and “LPR”).
The Ukrainian flag flies everywhere in Ukraine – from Zakarpatia in the west to Luhansk in the east; from Chernihiv in the north to Crimea in the south. That Russia temporarily and illegally occupies Crimea and parts of Luhansk and Donetsk regions makes no difference. Foreign occupation by Muscovy has never made Ukraine a part of the “Russian World” in the past and it won’t now.
Volodymyr Balukh is a Ukrainian citizen who chooses to fly the Ukrainian flag in Ukraine. That’s not a crime. That’s love of country. Volodymyr Balukh is sacrificing his liberty rather than submit to the foreign Muscovy invaders. The nobility of Volodymyr Balukh is an example to all Europeans, and is a public rebuke to the baseness of Vladimir Putin and his henchmen who are invading Europe in Ukraine.