Tim Judah

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Reconstructing Ukraine

It is not well understood how heavily the shadow of the violent breakup of Yugoslavia hangs over Ukraine. Vladimir Putin and his allies frequently cite the case of Kosovo, which was once Serbia’s southern province and declared independence in 2008, as a precedent for Russia’s recognition—and subsequent annexation—of Crimea in 2014 and parts of eastern Ukraine last year. Whether that parallel is valid or not is beside the point. For Putin, Russia’s failure to stop NATO’s seventy-eight-day bombardment of Serbia in 1999, as hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians fled Serbian forces during their war with the Kosovo Albanian guerrillas, marked the nadir of its post-Soviet collapse and humiliation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Children playing in the main square of the city of Kherson after the retreat of Russian troops, Ukraine, November 14, 2022

As we started to descend, the air was warmer and more humid than in the cool Cathedral of St. Catherine above us. Father Ilia had yanked open the heavy trapdoors to the vault where Grigory Potemkin was buried in 1791. Prince, general, and lover of the Russian empress Catherine the Great, Potemkin had delivered Crimea for Russia’s empire, founded Kherson, and planned the colonization of what is today southern Ukraine. Now, in the beam of a flashlight, we could see the low dais on which his coffin had lain until Russian soldiers removed it two weeks ago. The official explanation was for “safekeeping”.…  Seguir leyendo »

An apartment building struck by a missile in the Pavlovo Pole district, Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 27, 2022. Tim Judah

“Get out! You don’t have permission to be here! Didn’t you see the sign on the gate?” shouted the official. But it was open briefly when I walked by on the evening of March 28, and sixty seconds were enough to sear the image on anyone’s mind for a lifetime: some one hundred dead bodies lined up and, in one section, piled up to three deep in the courtyard of Kharkiv’s central morgue. Frozen by the cold, some were in body bags; many were not. Some had shoes; some were in socks. Bare legs protruded from under sheets. Some were old.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ukraine’s violent stalemate: how Russia’s offensive became a war of attrition

Russian troops arrived in the town of Makariv just four days after Vladimir Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine. This week, Ukrainian authorities claimed to have retaken the town, 65km west of Kyiv, in a daring counter-attack that sent Russian forces into retreat.

Andriy Nebytov, the Kyiv chief of police, posted a video on Facebook showing him dressed in full combat gear, visiting the damaged and seemingly deserted town. In one scene he picks up what looks like a crumpled Ukrainian flag.

“As long as our flag lives”, he later said in a statement, “our army lives”.

The next day the Ukrainian defence ministry declared that “the state flag of Ukraine was raised over the city of Makariv, the enemy was driven back”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Taria Blazhevych and her sons with their tent in Dorohozhychi metro station, Kyiv, Ukraine, March 2,2022

“You can find me on LinkedIn,” said Taria Blazhevych. She is a quality assurance software engineer, married, with two children and a white rabbit called Fluffy Steve. The other day, while camping, she celebrated her twenty-seventh birthday; for presents, her kids drew her pictures. On her LinkedIn page, she has eighteen skills listed. She is obviously entrepreneurial because the reason I went to talk to her was that she was the first person to have pitched a tent in Kyiv’s Dorohozhychi metro station. “Camping,” here, means living there, in what is now an improvised underground bomb shelter. A darkened train has been drawn up at the station platform with its doors open, for people to sleep in.…  Seguir leyendo »

French newspapers with results from the presidential election on the Promenade Des Anglais in Nice, France, April 24, 2017

It was Easter Sunday in Nice, France’s fifth-largest city, exactly one week before the first round of the country’s presidential election. In the old town, there were armed police guarding the Cathedral of Sainte-Réparate—part of the country’s continuing state of emergency. Inside, the church was full. A few minutes’ walk away, the Promenade des Anglais, the Mediterranean city’s famous seaside walkway that was the site of last July’s devastating terrorist attack, was also packed. On Easter Monday Nice-Matin, the city’s newspaper of record, reported that those in the tourism industry were, like the churchgoers, singing “resurrection songs of praise.” Tourists were back.…  Seguir leyendo »

Serbian ultra-nationalist leader Vojislav Šešelj (left), with paramilitary leader Dragan Vasiljković (“Captain Dragan”) and other Serbian fighters, Croatia, circa 1991. Tanjug / EPA / picturedesk.com

What are the limits of international accountability for crimes of war? And what does it mean for the local populations in question? As human rights groups prepare for cases which might be brought when the war in Syria ends, the last few weeks have brought some stark results from the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

First was the March 24 conviction of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić, the most senior figure from the wars to be convicted by the UN’s war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The court in The Hague found him guilty on ten of eleven charges—including genocide for the executions of 8,000 Bosniak Muslim men and boys from Srebrenica in 1995.…  Seguir leyendo »

Europeans are outraged. At least that's how it appears from newspaper and Internet headlines about the latest revelation from American leaker Edward Snowden: that the U.S. National Security Agency spies extensively on its European allies. A closer examination suggests something more subtle.

The Snowden stories, published by the Guardian in the U.K. and Der Spiegel in Germany, make several revelations. First, that the NSA was spying on the European Union’s delegations in Washington and at the United Nations. Second, that it was bugging several embassies, including those of France, Italy and Greece. Third, that the NSA was targeting crucial EU communications in Brussels.…  Seguir leyendo »

The headlines that greeted French President Francois Hollande as he celebrated his first year in office this week have painted a sober picture of a man -- and a country -- in deep trouble.

“The lonely man” was the kindest of the titles, in the left-of-center newspaper Liberation; “One year after, Hollande isolated in Europe”, said Le Figaro, the main daily for the right; and “How revolutions are born: Are we in 1789?” asked Le Point magazine.

Hollande's confidence rating, at 24 percent, is a record low for any French president. He wanted to be known as Mr. Normal, the calm president after the hyperactivity of his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy.…  Seguir leyendo »

Bee death is the new global warming.

That's how it seemed this week when the European Union said it would suspend use of certain insecticides that may harm the black-and-yellow striped creatures that pollinate the plants that provide our food.

As with climate change, the EU was responding to divided scientific evidence on the cause of a possibly existential threat that has captured the public imagination. And similarly, it had to pick sides between industry and environmentalists in a fierce debate over how to respond.

It was a close call. Fifteen of the EU's 27 countries voted for a two-year moratorium on using the suspect pesticides, known as neonicotinoids, which were introduced to replace DDT in the early 1990s.…  Seguir leyendo »

When I saw him last week, Slovenian Finance Minister Uros Cufer had just sat through a grueling public presentation by officials from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, in which they painted a grim picture of the state of affairs in his country. He was clearly in a foul mood.

I asked them the obvious question: In the wake of the Cyprus debacle, was Slovenia next for a bailout? OECD Deputy Secretary-General Yves Leterme said he thought that, at least for now, it did not need one. Cufer said nothing.

So I asked Cufer again after the presentation was over.…  Seguir leyendo »

Margaret Thatcher's death has achieved the impossible -- for a day she united Europe.

At least, Europe's media all seemed agreed that the passing of Mrs T (as Thatcher was often called in the U.K.) was the story of the day, and that love or loathe her brand of politics it changed Britain and the world.

You could often tell the political slant of a newspaper this morning, just from the choice of Thatcher's picture that editors made for their front page. In the U.K., for example, the conservative Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail have pictures in which Thatcher is set against a dark backdrop and the light around her head resembles a halo.…  Seguir leyendo »

Read the popular press in the U.K. and Germany over the past months, and you would hold the following truths to be self-evident:

  • That Romanians are toothless scroungers who want to steal your job, or failing that, they will steal from your country's social security system;
  • That there is a flood of as many as 29 million of these people who are about to overwhelm Western Europe (if you bundle in the equally hapless and evil Bulgarians);
  • And that unless politicians act now, the U.K. and other countries face, according to the Daily Mail newspaper, a “potentially huge political and social disaster.”
…  Seguir leyendo »

The Swiss have approved a “fat-cat referendum" to limit executive pay by a crushing 68 percent to 32 percent, no great surprise perhaps given the current mood on bankers and other superrich around the globe. Yet this is Switzerland, not Greece, Italy or Spain and the vote isn't the end of it. Switzerland is unhappy, and it is changing.

The referendum was the brainchild of Thomas Minder. The independent legislator began his struggle to give shareholders in Swiss-listed companies the right to control the pay of executives and board members in 2006. The anger that turned him into the man many Swiss see as an avenging angel was sparked as long ago as 2001, when Swissair, the national airline, went bankrupt.…  Seguir leyendo »

Beppe Grillo, the Italian comedian-politician, told you this was coming, but maybe you didn't take him seriously or still disdain the power of Twitter: Italy’s elections have produced deadlock, the news media are calling their country ungovernable, and the true victors are Grillo and his Five Star Movement.

His political tsunami has shaken Italian politics to the core and left the country facing months of instability and perhaps new elections, too.

Last night, having taken a quarter of the vote, Grillo chortled: “This is fantastic! We will be an extraordinary force,” and then announced he was off to bed with a cup of chamomile tea.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Tuesday, the Serbian Parliament passed a resolution condemning the massacre of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys from Srebrenica in July 1995, soon after Bosnian Serb forces conquered the town.

The reactions to the resolution, however, have been shockingly churlish and cynical. Some, especially but not only Bosnian Muslims, have complained that the resolution was worthless because it talks only of a “crime” and a “tragedy,” not a “genocide.” Others say Serbia’s government pushed this resolution through merely to curry favor with the European Union, which it desperately wants to join.

Such responses, however, fail to account for the deep divisions in the Serbian Parliament and public, between the supporters of the resolution and those who deny any responsibility for the massacre.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tema: Bosnia ha avanzado mucho desde que se puso fin a la guerra que asoló el país, pero aún siguen teniendo grandes retos por delante.

Resumen: Se suponía que este año iba a ser el año del “cambio total” en Bosnia. Estaba previsto cerrar la Oficina del Alto Representante y otorgar plenos poderes a los dirigentes bosnios. Sin embargo, se acaba de tomar la decisión de mantener abierta dicha Oficina. Uno de los motivos ha sido una ralentización del ritmo de cambio en Bosnia y otro el temor de las consecuencias políticas que pudiera provocar cualquier decisión sobre el futuro estatus de Kosovo.…  Seguir leyendo »