Degas: Ukrainian dances from Little Russia

Anna Van DENSKY OPINION 08.05.2022 The National Gallery in London has changed the title of Edgar Degas’s drawing “Russian Dancers” (1899) to “Ukrainian Dancers” after a number of claims by Ukrainians on social media in a sympathetic but totally obscurantist gesture.

In times of the creation of the Degas masterpieces there was no Ukrainian identity, ethnicity or language. The very term “Ukraine” descended from “Ocraine” which means Rimland in Russian. The territories of the modern state of Ukraine were an integral part of the Russian Empire, and those who lived there called themselves “Maloross”, or Little Russians.
Logically, being strictly scientific and correct, the Degas’ ouvre should be named “Maloross Dancers”.
The same way we do not name Romans “Italians”, or Portuguese “Iberians”.

The pastel picture by the famed French Impressionist shows a troupe of young performers sporting hair ribbons in vivid blue and yellow, the national colours of modern Ukraine flag.

A spokesperson for the National Gallery told the Guardian, “The title of this painting has been an ongoing point of discussion for many years and is covered in scholarly literature; however there has been increased focus on it over the past month due to the current situation so therefore we felt it was an appropriate moment to update the painting’s title to better reflect the subject of the painting.”

UK: Seven Russian oligarchs under sanctions

The UK has added Russian oligarch and Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich (pictured) to its list of sanctioned individuals as part of its efforts to “isolate” Russian President Vlamidir Putin following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — throwing the sale of the London club into doubt and prohibiting the buying or selling of players until further notice.

In a statement Thursday, March 10, the UK government said it was adding seven further oligarchs and politicians — including Abramovich — to its list of sanctioned individuals.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned by the UK government as part of efforts to “isolate” Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Abramovich announced this month he plans to sell Chelsea, as it is “in the best interest of the Club, the fans, the employees, as well as the Club’s sponsors and partners.” This came after he declared he gave “stewardship” of the club over to trustees of the club’s charitable foundation.

But the new sanctions will see his assets frozen and will prohibit “transactions with UK individuals and businesses,” the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said in a statement Thursday. The billionaire will also face a travel ban forbidding him to enter the UK.

According to the UK government Chelsea will be given a special license to continue to “fulfil its fixtures and carry out football business” — including the payment of players and club staff — but certain actions will not be permitted, such as buying and selling new players and selling tickets for games beyond those already sold to fans.

Existing season ticket holders will be allowed to attend matches as well as fans who purchased tickets prior to Thursday, March 10.

Fans can buy food and drink at these matches, according to the statement, and under the sanctions, third party retailers who bought or produced club merchandise prior to Thursday will be allowed to sell their existing stocks as long as no money is given to Chelsea. For now, the special license lasts until May 31.

“Abramovich won’t be allowed to put any money into the club or take any money out of it. As we know, he has funded Chelsea to the tune of billions of pounds and has a £1.5 billion ($1.98 billion) loan that Chelsea currently owes to Abramovich,” said Ben Peppi, sports commercial expert at JMW Solicitors, while discussing at CNN Sport programme that unless the UK government introduces a new license, Chelsea can’t be sold.

“after seeing a leaked 2019 UK government document that said Abramovich was of interest due to his “links to the Russian state and his public association with corrupt activity and practices,” the MP said in a Twitter post.

Abramovich is worth is an estimated £9.4 billion ($12.36 billion), according to the UK government.

The UK is “absolutely determined” to sanction Russian oligarchs, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said this month, adding that the UK was working through “a further list” of oligarchs to sanction.
“There is nowhere for any of Putin’s cronies to hide,” Truss continued.

Russia denies AstraZeneca theft allegations

Brussels 13.10.2021 Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters on Tuesday October 12 that claims put forward by UK media of Russia having allegedly stolen AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine formula are unfounded.

“I don’t think anyone will take these unfounded accusations seriously, there have already been many baseless accusations,” Russian top diplomat said.

Lavrov added that he had not heard these accusations against Russia, and also recalled that the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in many cases had produced negative side effects, particularly thrombosis (blood-clotting).

“No such cases have occurred with Sputnik V. I think that everyone who is interested will draw conclusions for themselves,” the foreign minister has underlined.

On October 10, The Sun, a well-known UK tabloid, published an article that claimed that Russian intelligence services allegedly received information about the formula of the vaccine developed by UK-Swedish company AstraZeneca and later used it to create Russia’s Sputnik V formula.

Russia-UK Black Sea altercation

Brussels 23.06.2021 Russian Black Sea Fleet, jointly with the Border Guard Service, halted the violation of the “Russian state border by a UK naval ship off Crimea coast”, the Defense Ministry of Russia reported on Wednesday, June 23. (Image: illustration).

A guard ship of the Black Sea Fleet fired warning shots while a Su-24M bomber conducted preventing bombing, the ministry informed.

“At 11:52 on June 23 this year, the UK Navy’s guided missile destroyer Defender operating in the northwestern part of the Black Sea crossed the state border of the Russian Federation and moved 3 km into the territorial sea near Cape Fiolent,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Russian Black Sea Fleet jointly with the Border Guard Service of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of Russia “halted the violation of the Russian state border by the UK Navy’s guided missile destroyer Defender,” the statement says.

The UK Navy’s guided missile destroyer Defender was floated out in 2009. The warship can develop a speed of about 30 knots and operates various armaments, including Harpoon anti-ship missile launchers and short-and medium-range air defense systems.

The Type 45 destroyers were built to replace the Type 42 (Sheffield-class) destroyers that had served during the Falklands War (10-weeks war between Argentina and the UK in 1982 over two British dependent territories) with the last Type 42 being decommissioned in 2013. The National Audit Office reported that, during an “intensive attack”, a single Type 45 could simultaneously track, engage and destroy more targets than five Type 42 destroyers operating together.

The class HMS45 is primarily designed for anti-aircraft and anti-missile warfare.

Europe neo-tribalism trending

Anna van Densky OPINION Concluding the second decade of the 21 century, the special attention is given to the major events and trends, which will shape the years to come.

The departure of the UK from the European Union, commonly known as Brexit, undoubtedly is the major historic happening of the past decade, which has modified the DNA of the entire European project, setting the trend to follow. The Brexit effects are beyond the financial blow to the EU pocket, but are representing the major failure of cosmopolitism and globalism – the Britons are shifting away from the geography wise close and economically lucrative Europe to focus their sight over Atlantic to achieve proximity with their former colony – the United States of America.The knock down to cosmopolitism from triumphant neo-tribalism, when ethno-cultural identities win over economic and other considerations.

The Brexit calamity has effected Europe in many ways, inspiring wide-spread rise of tribalism. The last decade the nostalgia shrouded Warsaw and Vilnius reminiscent of the greatness of their historic Unia – the Union between the Lithuanian and Polish Kingdoms, – reflected in their joint attempt to launch Ukraine to the EU orbit, subsequently causing Russians to remember about their own Orthodox universe and Byzantine roots.

As a result of this ravaging tribalism, the Europeans have been startled by seeing Russians ready to die, defending their identity in Donbass, and voting for re-unification with Russia in Crimean referendum.

However the are not only EU newcomers who succumb to tribalism – there is deep concern of France with the destiny of their former colonies, receiving the absolute priority of foreign policy. This year the President of the Vth Repubic has celebrated Xmas together with French troops in Cote d’Ivoire, underlining the significance of Sahel for the Hexagone. Clearly the historic symbiosis between France and Africa is prime, the rest is secondary. Emmanuel Macron has not been hésitent while criticising NATO, indicating to its existential crisis, echoing President Trump claim of Alliance being “obsolete“, the same time he has underlined the vitality of ties between former African colonies and the metropole. The historic colonial heritage has been not abandoned but re-formatted – the west French Colonial Franc CFA currency became new “Eco”, aiming to become an African equivalent of euro (€). However the name was not even Africanised, reminding of old French coin “ecu”, descending from Spanish escudo of Golden Age. Isn’t the renewal of the “monde francophone” also the effect of nostalgia for cultural tribalism?..

The evidences of Europe scattered in fragments by ethno-cultural thinking are all over the place, but the most emblematic European figure of the neo-tribalism trend, the challenge to all globalists and cosmopolitans is … yes, Madame President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, who refused to settle in Brussels, where she was born, preferring to travel weekly to her home in Hannover.

Von der Leyen decision to stay in the adjacent to her office apartment during the week, and travel home on weekends, has been falsely dabbed as “bunker mentality”. No way!Madame President has an open mind, but to her tribe only.

Cosmopolitism is dead, long live TRIBALISM!

Brexit Deal II fate in hands of Westminster

While British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission president JeanClaude Juncker consider the agreed Brexit deal “fair” outcome. There is no need to extend the Brexit deadline EU top executive added.

‘We have a deal so why should we have a prolongation?” Juncker raised a rhetoric question. However the biggest challenge is ahead in Westminster, where the the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland declared its opposition to the reached Article 50 Agreement.

Prime Minister Johnson called Members of the Parliament to “come together” and “get this excellent deal over the line”.

Now is the moment for us to get Brexit done and then together work on building our future partnership, which I think can be incredibly positive both for the UK and for the EU” he underlined.

In spite of the enthusiasm of the EU leadership about the new deal, the experts consider the chances it is endorsed by Westminster on Saturday are slim because of opposition of Labor and DUP parties, who consider the deal to be even worse than Prime Minister May previous Agreement.

Boris Johnson as EU antidote

Anna van Densky OPINION Newly elected by the Conservatives Prime minister Boris Johnson throws a glove in the face of “the doubters, the doomsters, the gloomsters“, vowing to lead the country to the decisive Brexit on October 31. However, for fair play, he should have thanked them for their huge contribution in his swift ascendance to power, because they have created the situation of a protracted political crisis blocking the way to the implementation of the decision of the referendum.

Even more so Boris Johnson had to thank the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, who dabbed Theresa May requests  as “nebulous“. Many thanks to the European Council for the rejection of re-editing the Withdrawal Agreement, and personally to Michel Barnier, who stood like a rock defending the each letter of the text. All of them were indispensable for Theresa May downfall.  From now onward the “moderate”, “orderlyBrexit scenario is off the shelf.

The EU has the entire record of the successfully corrected “errors” like reshaping the European Constitution into the Lisbon Treaty, and subsequent imposition of the second referendum on the Republic of Ireland, generously offering an opportunity to the citizens to chose the “right side of history“. However in this particular Brexit case the application of pressure caused the results opposite to expected: Boris Johnson came as Brussels antidote, promising to his compatriots to resolve the problem with slicing the Gordian knot. Who can do it better than a professional in Classics? 🙂

Alexander The Great

 

Europarl: Ann Widdecombe furore

Anna van Densky OPINION The passionate speech of British MEP Ann Widdecombe had a highly unpleasant  novelty for the European Union: the doyen of Brexit party political group associated the protracted process of exiting from the EU with national liberation movement. She openly threw into face of Guy Verhofstad – the European Parliament representative for Brexit talks – the accusation of treating the UK as “colony“.

Guy Verhofstadt answered in via his Twitter micro blog, regarding Widdecombe as a “clown”. It means he failed again to understand souverainist’s influence on public opinion, and the interaction between Brexit party (former UKIP) and larger groups of electorate, initially perceived as “marginal“, but in reality numerous enough to impose Brexit referendum, and win its outcome. Verhofstadt did not answer to in a meaningful way to Widdecombe criticism of democratic deficit in EU procedures either. He also didn’t answer to her criticism of protracted withdrawal process, comparing Brussels to metropole, reluctant to give away rip on its rich colony.  However the strategy of brushing off criticism of Brexiteers is in essence myopic because it allows their vision to hover high, and spread around engaging new groups, and not only from UK electorate, but the other old EU member states.

The feeble attempt of BBC journalist to argue Ms.Widdecombe’s point of  view through pointing at her high MEP salary incomparable with “slave” status looked like faux pas.

BBC did not manage to address the issue, and attempt, dabbed by the MEP as “silly”, just re-enforcing her speech, demonstrating absence of meaningful counter-argument.

 

 

EU elections 2019 final day

Anna van Densky On Sunday May 26 Europeans vote in an election expected to further erode traditional Eurocentric parties and boost the nationalist movements across the continent, resulting in a drastically different and difficult composition of the European Parliament – once a champion of compromise, – effecting the entire range of politics. (Image above: European Parliament, Strasbourg).

Polls opened at 7 A.M. (0400 GMT) in the east of Europe and will finally close at 11 P.M. (2100 GMT) in Italy. Seven states have already voted, with 21 joining in on Sunday in what is the world’s biggest democratic exercise after India.

Many feel it is odd, that three years after the referendum, Britons are back to the European Parliament, and there are certain fears, that the entire EU political agenda will be “hijacked” by Brexit.

However it is universally understood, that after Brexit the EU project will never be the same. Departure of the oldest European parliamentary democracy feels like an amputation.

EU in transit. Tempora mutantur – times are changed, we also are changed with them.

DSCN8074[1]
European Parliament, PHS building, Brussels

 

EU Brexit charade

Anna van Densky from EP, Brussels. The Members of European Parliament (MEP) raise concerns about perspective of the UK remaining for upcoming European elections, being “one foot in, one foot out”, as Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE, Belgium) said.

The perspective of electing even more Brexiteers is definitely not inspiring  MEPs, open to endorse additional political declarations, if necessary, however standing firmly by the EU Commission, and Council, refusing the revision of the endorsed deal.

While the attempting to convince Westminster to endorse the deal the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker repeated the UK can have one more extension on condition of the Article 50 Agreement (Withdrawal Agreement) endorsement, and proposing clear plans of moving forward with the implementation. The prolongation of uncertainty is not an option.

The tone of the EU top executive was dead, and while he was offering more political declarations. Juncker’s  glances were gloomy, while he switched to the part of speech, describing damages to EU, and even more so to British economy if the no-deal scenario takes place by default. He admitted to read the speech first time during his intervention in Europarliament, because “every word is important“.
If the UK is able to approve the withdrawal agreement with a viable majority by 12 April, then the European Union should accept an extension until 22 May“, Juncker concluded.

Responding to the worst fears of MEPs, Gerard Batten (UKIP, UK) called Britons to vote massively for UKIP in case the country participates in European elections in May.