The Week: 9th – 15th July

Winter Sunshine Blue Sky Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 9th July 2018 Garden Nature Eucalyptus Tree Gum Tree

Winter Sunshine Blue Sky Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 9th July 2018 Garden Nature Eucalyptus Tree Gum TreeIMG_6781

Gorgeous winter sunshine in Canberra to start the week.

The ice skating rink in Canberra’s city centre (this is from last weekend). Another session was about to start, which is why there’s nobody on the ice!

Scruffy, our biggest local magpie, hanging out by the kitchen window on Wednesday afternoon. (He has two legs – magpies just like to rest one every so often!)

This hasn’t been much of a week as far as this blog goes. Usually I have some sort of post every day, so it feels weird to have posted so little.

In truth, I’ve had enough of the world this week. Please remember the evils of Putin’s Russia while you’re watching the soccer over the weekend. Slava Ukrayini!!

Currently Reading

The Heiress He's Been Waiting For by Kaitlin O'Riley

 

A Reminder

Over the days of the World Cup Third Place Playoff and Final, please remember that nobody should be enjoying soccer on Russian soil while the country is actively invading Ukraine, killing thousands of their neighbours, committing war crimes in Syria, assassinating political dissidents, torturing teenagers to death, committing ethnic cleansing in Crimea, shooting down airliners, illegally occupying parts of Georgia, illegally occupying parts of Moldova, committing war crimes in Ukraine, persecuting Catholics and Muslims and Jews, and actively trying to destroy Western democracies.

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Ukrainian artist Andriy Yermolenko has created an alternative series of posters for the FIFA World Cup in Russia which is set to start on 14 June. war

A Reminder

Over the days of the World Cup Semi-Finals, please remember that nobody should be enjoying soccer on Russian soil while the country is actively invading Ukraine, killing thousands of their neighbours, committing war crimes in Syria, assassinating political dissidents, torturing teenagers to death, committing ethnic cleansing in Crimea, shooting down airliners, illegally occupying parts of Georgia, illegally occupying parts of Moldova, committing war crimes in Ukraine, persecuting Catholics and Muslims and Jews, and actively trying to destroy Western democracies.

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Ukrainian artist Andriy Yermolenko has created an alternative series of posters for the FIFA World Cup in Russia which is set to start on 14 June

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

Boycott World Cup 2018

I hope many people will develop a conscience and join in the boycott of the World Cup in Russia that begins today. Who cares about men chasing a ball when it’s happening in Putin’s corrupt, brutal dictatorship?

I’m not sure how many war crimes in Ukraine and Syria, how many invasions and annexations, or how many assassinations it will take for the world to prioritise humanity over soccer, but we’re not there yet.

Cyborgs: Heroes Never Die

Cyborg_(film)Cyborgs Heroes Never Die (Кiборги Герої не вмирають). It is a movie about the battle for Donetsk Airport during the first year of the Russian invasion o

 

I’m a bit late with a post today, because I got home late last night and wanted to write about where I’d been. Also, the wine was free-flowing at the function, and I wasn’t in the mood to type when I got back!

At the invitation of the embassy, last night I attended the Australian premiere of the movie Cyborgs: Heroes Never Die (Кiборги: Герої не вмирають). It’s hard to believe, but this is the first time I’ve been to see a movie since Les Misérables in early 2012!

Cyborgs is a movie about the battle for Donetsk Sergey Prokofiev International Airport (named after the Ukrainian composer) during 2014, the first year of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Cyborgs is the nickname given to the Ukrainian Army units who fought, lost, and died in the conflict.

When the battle began the airport was brand new, and had just been built for the Euro 2012 Football Championship.

Here is drone footage of the place after the battle (about twenty seconds in). Other than the ruined aerobridges, it’s hard to tell it’s an airport until about 2:20 when there’s suddenly a burnt-out plane. It’s total destruction:

 

 

At the moment, the major Ukrainian city of Donetsk has fallen to the Russians and is allegedly now part of the Kremlin-invented “Donetsk People’s Republic”. I have family who lived there who – like a few million others in the region – had to flee. Why this humanitarian crisis never makes the news is beyond me.

The film is entirely about the battle, which I’m sure was a little disturbing to some of the guests who attended! Think Black Hawk Down, with a bit less gore. Cyborgs is a brilliant movie because it utterly refuses to work as propaganda. I’d heard from Western journalists who’d already seen it in Europe that it was surprisingly balanced in its portrayal.

This is in stark contrast to most war movies that paint one side as perfect and the other evil. Right now in Australia they are showing WW2-era movies late at night, and they’re all ridiculous. The pre-Pearl Harbor ones – imported to America from Britain – have all war things edited out of them, and the post-Pearl Harbor ones are blatant propaganda, where the US singlehandedly saves the world a million times over.

I don’t know what more Ukraine can do to get anyone to give a damn about the ongoing Russian invasion. It’s ironic that the day I attended this function was the same day it was confirmed it was the Russian military who shot down MH17 (duh!). Imagine this war was happening in any other country in Europe. Imagine how different the international reaction would be.

The Week: 30th April – 6th May

Blue Sky Autumn Sunshine Canberra Australia 24 Degrees Sonya Heaney Eucalyptus Tree Gum Tree 1st May 2018 Garden Nature

Still looking beautiful in Canberra, even though it’s the last month of autumn!

My review of A Devil of a Duke (Decadent Dukes Society #2) by Madeline Hunter

A Devil of a Duke (2018) (The second book in the Decadent Dukes Society series) A novel by Madeline Hunter

My review of Baby on Her Doorstep by Rhonda Gibson

Baby on Her Doorstep by Rhonda Gibson

Release Day for Mary Balogh

Someone to Care (Westcott Family #4) by Mary Balogh

Tribeca Film Festival Gives Russian Propaganda Film Major Award

Make Tribeca Film Festival Deprive Anti-Ukrainian Movie Of The Award Phone Duty Russian Propaganda Movie

Fund in Honour of Miranda Neville

Miranda Neville Frances Mallary Historical Romance

Release Day for How I Resist: Activism and Hope for the Next Generation

How I Resist Activism and Hope for the Next Generation

Tribeca Film Festival Gives Russian Propaganda Film Major Award

Make Tribeca Film Festival Deprive Anti-Ukrainian Movie Of The Award Phone Duty Russian Propaganda Movie

Deprive Propaganda Movie of Award

Nothing to do with books, but I want to share a petition. ^^^^

I know, everyone’s signing a million petitions on Change.org these days. However, if you wouldn’t mind signing this one…

Any art form comes with responsibility. Promoting propaganda just because you thought the cinematography or script were good is dangerous. It’s appalling. That America will reward and promote Russian propaganda against Ukraine when their own democracy has been so badly damaged by the same thing is incomprehensible. Many thousands of Ukrainians are dead and dying, but the Tribeca folks care more about “art”.

Remember that people were more interested in Leni Riefenstahl’s filmmaking skills than they were in the fact she was making propaganda films for Hitler? It’s not okay.

This movie is anti-Ukrainian, and floats the theory all of Ukraine should be invaded and occupied by Russia.

Sorry, pretentious, arty – ignorant! – film people, but you don’t deserve a pass on this one.

The Week: 16th – 21st April

Autumn Leaves Autumn Colours Sonya Heaney 20th April 2018 Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Blue Sky Sunny Afternoon Autumn Heatwave Garden Nature

Blue skies, summer temperatures, and autumn colours in Canberra this week.

This has been a beautiful week, weather-wise. Why we’re still having summer temperatures when it’s almost winter is very confusing!

We went out to lunch on Saturday (fantastic Spanish restaurant!), and we knew there was going to be back burning in the centre of Canberra, but we weren’t quite prepared to be driving past active burns RIGHT NEXT TO Federal Parliament and the US embassy! I don’t have a proper picture, but here is one from later that afternoon. You can see a sole fire engine on the right, but a few hours earlier the whole place was full of flames and fire engines with lights etc.

The Russian authorities have been making a joke out of everything they’ve done recently. This week they tortured several Crimean Tartars to death. Don’t expect to see it on the Western news…

They’re turning the Novichok assassination attempts in England into a joke, and they now have a food brand named after the poison (“Новичок” is the Cyrillic spelling for the nerve agent – it’s on the labels on the bottles here). And I’d love to know why people think the hammer and sickle symbol tens of millions died under is okay. Imagine if they used the swastika.

This week Twitter *finally* banned Russia’s Kaspersky from advertising on their site. Several years ago I had awkward conversations with young men working at computer shops (JB Hi-Fi – I’m giving you the side-eye!). They were all told to push customers to buy Russian internet security, and I got dirty looks and muttered comments when I told them that – under no circumstances – would I buy Russian-branded security software.

Now, of course, everyone says it. But I am so freaking tired of people refusing to listen to Ukrainians. It’s only been since America and England were touched by Russian misbehaviour that people stopped thinking I was discriminatory and alarmist. It breaks my heart how little everyone listens to people who KNOW.

Recommended Book: The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America by Timothy Snyder

The Road to Unfreedom Russia, Europe, America by Timothy Snyder

Coming Soon from Theresa Romain

Lady Rogue (The Roguish Runners Duo #1) by Theresa Romain

Cover Love

Lady Eleanor's Seventh Suitor (The Sutherland Sisters #1) by Anna Bradley

My review of How Do Cats Do That?: Discover How Cats Do The Amazing Things They Do by Peter Scottsdale

How Do Cats Do That Discover How Cats Do The Amazing Things They Do by Peter Scottsdale

Getting Back on Track

Marry in Scandal (Convenient Marriage series #2) by Anne Gracie

Nineteen Years

Columbine_Shooting_Security_CameraColumbine High School massacre

Recommended Book: The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America by Timothy Snyder

The Road to Unfreedom Russia, Europe, America by Timothy Snyder

This is much more serious than I usually feature on here, but I’d like to recommended a book: The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America by Timothy Snyder.

A good review can be found HERE.

Nobody knows the complexities of Eastern Europe, its history, and its present like Snyder does. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine four years ago, he has been repeatedly called on by the world’s media to explain what the hell Russia is up to.

This book is going to attract Western readers because it brings America and Trump into it, but I HIGHLY recommended Snyder’s other books – especially Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin.

Here is the blurb for The Road to Unfreedom:

With the end of the Cold War, the victory of liberal democracy was thought to be absolute. Observers declared the end of history, confident in a peaceful, globalized future. But we now know this to be premature. Authoritarianism first returned in Russia, as Putin developed a political system dedicated solely to the consolidation and exercise of power. In the last six years, it has creeped from east to west as nationalism inflames Europe, abetted by Russian propaganda and cyberwarfare. While countries like Poland and Hungary have made hard turns towards authoritarianism, the electoral upsets of 2016 revealed the citizens of the US and UK in revolt against their countries’ longstanding policies and values.

But this threat to the West also presents an opportunity to better understand the pillars of our own political order. In this forceful and unsparing work of contemporary history, Snyder goes beyond the headlines to expose the true nature of the threat to democracy. By showcasing the stark choices before us–between equality or oligarchy, individuality or totality, truth and falsehood–Snyder restores our understanding of the basis of our way of life, offering a way forward in a time of terrible uncertainty.