Russia fires on and seizes Ukrainian ships.

Here’s your Monday reminder that Russia is still actively invading and committing acts of war against Ukraine, and that tweets from Trump’s toilet aren’t the most important thing happening in the world right now…

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photograph released by Russia's FSB security agency apparently showing an altercation between Russian and Ukrainian ships of the coast of Crimea on November 25 2018

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Ukrainian Independence Day

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Celebrations in Luhansk in 2013. The city has since been invaded and occupied by Russia.

It’s a bit of an ironic holiday when huge swathes of southern and eastern Ukraine are currently occupied by the Russians and their enormous military, but today is Ukrainian Independence Day.

Vladimir Putin can’t live forever, so maybe there’s hope for the future. If only Kremlin propaganda wouldn’t live on after him…

Maybe it takes an author…

Russia has been imprisoning Ukrainians opposed to the Russian occupation since it began over four years ago, many of them in inhumane conditions, and many of them convicted after being tortured.

Oleh (often written as Oleg in the West) Sentsov, a filmmaker from Crimea opposed to the annexation of his homeland, has been behind bars for years, but has now gone on a hunger strike to have other political prisoners (not himself) freed.

It’s not achieved much so far, as the Western media does an excellent job of pretending there’s no war in Ukraine, but now superstar author Stephen King has taken up Sentsov’s cause. Along with numerous other writers and filmmakers, he has written to Putin to draw attention to the issue while the world’s focusing on the World Cup (spoiler: Putin couldn’t care less!).

You can find the letter in question HERE. Sentsov has been on his hunger strike a long time, and there are serious concerns about his survival now.

Free Ukrainian political prisoner Oleh Sentsov Oleg Sentsov from russia putin msocow

Vladimir Putin
President of Russia
23, Ulitsa Ilyinka 
Moscow
103132
Russia

Cc: Gianni Infantino, President, FIFA

Dear President Putin,

We, the undersigned artists, writers, filmmakers, and activists, join PEN America to call for the immediate and unconditional release of the wrongfully imprisoned Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov. In light of Sentsov’s ongoing hunger strike, our request is urgent.

Oleg Sentsov, the 2017 recipient of the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award, has been held prisoner by the Russian government for more than four years. In May 2014, he was detained in his native Crimea and brought to Moscow on unsubstantiated allegations of terrorism. Numerous governments and human rights organizations have identified these allegations as politically charged, groundless fabrications orchestrated in retaliation for Sentsov’s outspoken criticism of Russia’s annexation of Crimea. On August 25, 2015, Sentsov was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Sentsov himself says he was tortured during his detention in an unsuccessful attempt to extract a false confession. One of the defendants, Hennadij Afanasjew, later retracted his own testimony against Sentsov, saying he was brutally tortured into saying Sentsov was part of a terrorist organization. Two appeals of the verdict have been rejected, as has a request for Sentsov to be extradited to Ukraine. Sentsov has always maintained his innocence.

On May 14, Sentsov declared an indefinite hunger strike, stating that “the one and only condition for its termination is the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners that are currently present on the territory of the Russian Federation.” This brave yet dangerous decision was not taken lightly; in the northern Siberia penal colony where Sentsov is held, and with his health already weakened, it is uncertain how long he can survive. Thus, the need for action is urgent.

As Russia prepares to host the World Cup in the coming weeks, the eyes of the world will be on the country. Sentsov’s campaign will rightly draw attention to the injustice of his detention and that of dozens of other political prisoners in Russia. He has told his lawyer he is willing to die to bring global attention to his cause. In the spirit of this unifying global event, we therefore urge you to take this opportunity to make a powerful statement by releasing Oleg Sentsov immediately and unconditionally. His life depends on it.

Sincerely,

Chimamanda Adichie
Christiane Amanpour
Kwame Anthony Appiah
Margaret Atwood
Paul Auster
Rosanne Cash
Michael Chabon
Sandra Cisneros
J. M. Coetzee
Teju Cole
Michael Connelly
Molly Crabapple
Lydia Davis
Jennifer Egan
Louise Erdrich
Jonathan Franzen
Philip Gourevitch
John Green
Lev Grossman
Daniel Handler 
Mary Karr
Phil Klay
Nicole Krauss
Chang-rae Lee
Jonathan Lethem
Janet Malcolm
Colum McCann
Ian McEwan
Jay McInerney
Claire Messud
Rick Moody
Paul Muldoon
Herta Müller
Eskinder Nega
B. J. Novak
Susan Orlean
George Packer
Gregory Pardlo
Robert Pinsky
Francine Prose
Victoria Redel
Salman Rushdie
George Saunders
Alice Sebold
Gary Shteyngart
Patti Smith
Andrew Solomon
Stephen Sondheim
Alec Soth
Art Spiegelman
Patrick Stewart
Rose Styron
Colm Tóibín
Calvin Trillin
Scott Turow
Anne Tyler
Ayelet Waldman
Tobias Wolff

The Week: 12th – 18th March

IMG_20180312_180445_236 Sonya Heaney Oksana 12th March 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra Australian Army Australian Armed Forces ANZAC Parade Parliament House

View from the Australian War Memorial in Canberra on Monday afternoon.

Australian Parliament from the back of the car yesterday afternoon (I had to dodge heads and arms etc. to take the picture!).

Canberra Australia Sunset Autumn Tuggeranong Sonya Heaney 15th March 2018 March Garden Sky Nature

Thursday Sunset

This week began with a public holiday in Canberra. It was such a gorgeous long weekend, and the temperatures are still into the thirties even though the autumn colours are coming out.

This week marked the fourth anniversary of the sham referendum Putin forced on Crimea. In the picture above, Russian Special Forces soldiers in unmarked outfits (at this time they were pretending they weren’t Russian) stand in front of a Ukrainian military base in Crimea during the takeover.

The West basically did NOTHING, and only now are people getting upset with Russia because of the recent assassination attempts and assassinations in Britain.

My reading has fallen even more behind than a week or two ago, so I’m a little short on reviews at the moment. I haven’t read much historical fiction for a few weeks, but recent news about the next Lisa Kleypas book has got me picking up some old favourites.

Happy St Patrick’s Day

Irish Reads

‘Women are having different fantasies’: romantic fiction in the age of Trump

Women's_March_on_Washington_(32593123745) 21 January 2017 Trump Feminism

From the Shadows

IMG_20180312_175648_151 From the Shadows Special Forces Exhibition Sonya Heaney Oksana 12th March 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra Australian Army Australian Armed Forces

On this day: a Ballet Premiere

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Four Years

Some 60,000 Russian troops deployed in Crimea today – experts

Today is the fourth anniversary of Putin’s fake, rigged referendum and “official” annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea.

Since then the Crimean Tatars have suffered heavy persecution, torture, and murder, as have other Ukrainians. The Russians have begun pulling down historical Crimean palaces and buildings, and the peninsula has essentially been turned into a Russian military fortification.

No doubt the man will do something awful to commemorate the event in Russia – he loves dates and anniversaries…

The Week: 26th February – 4th March

The National Library of Australia in Canberra last night, on the first night of the Enlighten festival. It was a gorgeous night, and I have never seen crowds like this at the event before.

Queanbeyan Lawn Cemetery near Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 28th February 2018 Blue Sky end of Summer

Visiting my grandparents’ graves on the last day of summer.

Kangaroos Queanbeyn Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 28th February 2018

Canberra’s kangaroo plague – a blurry picture from the car window!

Summer ended this week, but the temperatures haven’t dropped. Many people say autumn is the best season in Canberra – warm, but not too hot, and with all the autumn colours.

I cannot believe all the snow in Venice. this time a year ago we were sitting out in the piazzas in the sunshine, drinking wine. What a difference!

Russia Annexes Crimea Ukraine 2014 little-green-men russian special forces

This week marked the fourth anniversary of Russian Special Forces invading and overtaking Ukraine’s Crimea. Putin waited until his showcase event – the Sochi Olympics – was done, and then sent his troops in. Four years now, and the Crimean Tartars are experiencing the sort of persecution they suffered under Stalin, and the Russians are pulling down historic palaces on the peninsula.

My review of Hello Stranger (Ravenels #4) by Lisa Kleypas

Hello Stranger (Ravenels #4) by Lisa Kleypas

50th Anniversary of Romeo and Juliet

Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet 1968

The Flooded Library

 The RUC at Turner was drenched in floodwater on Sunday Canberra Flood 25th February 2018

Release Day for Lisa Kleypas

Hello Stranger (Ravenels #4) by Lisa Kleypas

The Week: 29th May – 4th June

Driving past Australian Parliament on Saturday afternoon (taken from the back seat of the car). Canberra’s winter has a lot of sunshine!

First day of winter in Canberra.

A colourful last day of autumn on Wednesday.

Above is our neighbour’s ancient, blind, deaf cat this week. For some reason she has just now (at nearly nineteen years of age – in her nineties as a human) decided to move into our house. The problem is, her blindness means she often misses our back door and instead sits there and stares at the brick wall! We had to put a mat out for her because she sits there for hours…

In five days I went from frightening her at every turn, to patting her for the first time, to – on Friday – having her walk into the house, climb on top of me, and settle in for the evening. I felt a bit triumphant to gain the trust of such an unlikely cat.

We began winter with some gorgeous weather, but I’m terrified it’s already June!

So much – not all of it good, some of it hilarious – happened this week.

UPDATE: Yet another terror attack in Britain. 😦 😦

Yesterday Russia deployed 60 000 MORE troops to Crimea. Something else for everyone to ignore. People talk about how bad it was people ignored Hitler, but when Hitler started wars, the world started reacting. Putin has been invading countries for a decade now.

My cousin’s house burnt down – I kid you not. It made the news, and because it’s in the country and he was in Sydney it makes it all so much more difficult to deal with.

The ridiculous thing is that he was renting it out, and the renters basically blew it up by putting embers in a bin near the gas and electricity. However, there aren’t many laws protecting landlords from their tenants’ idiotic behaviour, so this is going to be costly for the innocent party in this mess.

Olivia Newton-John announced she has cancer again. My mother did costume work for one of her tours a few years ago, and apparently she is one of the most genuine, normal, nice celebrities behind the scenes.

covfefe!

Winter Reads

Thought for the end of the week.

My review of When to Engage an Earl (Spinster House #3) by Sally MacKenzie

My review of The Cornish Escape by Lily Graham

My review of What We Find (Sullivan’s Crossing #1) by Robyn Carr

Nice Hat!