Which Despotic Dictator are You?

By Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes

Psychological tests have inundated social media lately, giving people the opportunity to find out everything about themselves from which Lord of the Rings character they are to which weapon they most resemble. However, in all of this, no one has asked the genuinely important question–the one that matters more than all of the rest . . .

Which Despotic Dictator Are You?

Have you ever read the headlines and wondered which world-manipulating, power-hungry psychopath you most resemble? Then this test is for you! We here at Bayard & Holmes consulted our team of psycho/social experts (us) to develop a short quiz that will help you determine the answer to that most pressing of questions . . .

Canstock 2014 Despotic dictator

You see a pretty young woman on the beach. What do you do?

  1. Take your shirt off and hand her a picture of yourself practicing judo. When she doesn’t respond, you accuse her of being a warmonger and invade her country.
  2. Charge her with prostitution and feed her to dogs.
  3. Drool at her from your wheelchair while your assistant accuses her of being a white supremacist.
  4. Kidnap her, try her for indecent exposure, and have her publicly stoned to death.
  5. Send your aid over to arrange a liaison. After she rejects you, introduce legislation limiting the size of women’s breasts.
  6. Start a conversation with her about what a beautiful day it is and ask her if she would like to get a cup of coffee.

You hear an annoying barking dog. What do you do?

  1. Have photographers film you as you hunt down the poodle with an AK 47 and then have a photo taken of you posing in a Poodle trophy coat.
  2. Send your chef over to collect it for dinner.
  3. Turn your hearing aid off and go back to sleep while accusing the dog of being a white supremacist.
  4. Send your guard with an invitation for a romantic candlelight dinner for two. When the dog declines, you have it arrested and publicly stoned to death.
  5. Your own annoying voice drowns out the sound of the dog.
  6. You bring your dog inside.

You have an afternoon to get away from it all. What do you do?

  1. Quickly remove your shirt and arrange a photo shoot while grumbling about warmongering Ukrainians.
  2. Celebrate the 114 gold medals you personally received for your participation in the Sochi Winter Olympics.
  3. Keep napping. When awakened by bad dreams, scream about white supremacists.
  4. Smoke hash and drink some more black market American whiskey and fantasize about the woman you saw in the bikini.
  5. Write a speech about the legislation you are drafting to limit breast size.
  6. Read a Bayard & Holmes book.

You are going to watch any movie or TV show that you want. Which one is it?

  1. Star Wars. You put on your Darth Vader helmet and practice saying, “Ukraine, I am your father.”
  2. My Little Pony. You watch fifteen reruns and then declare rainbow colored ponies to be the new national animal.
  3. It doesn’t matter. You’re going to sleep through it anyway and dream about killing white supremacists.
  4. Lawrence of Arabia. For the 58th time. Somehow, you’re still shocked, surprised, and angered that Lawrence somehow escapes with his life at the end.
  5. Godzilla. When it’s over, you write a speech asking the U.N. to outlaw all Japanese monsters.
  6. You sit down with your family and watch your Disneyland vacation video.

What is your fantasy vacation?

  1. Winning the Kentucky Derby while riding shirtless on the back of a bear.
  2. Spending a week in South Korea.
  3. Taking a long nap anywhere but Zimbabwe.
  4. Enjoying two weeks in a brothel in Tel Aviv that caters to clientele with special needs.
  5. Staying a week in Windsor castle while the royal family is away and trying on all their clothes and tiaras.
  6. A family trip to Belize.

 If you scored . . .

5 – 7   You are Vladimir Putin.


Russian President Vladimir Putin image by www.kremlin.ru

Russian President Vladimir Putin
image by http://www.kremlin.ru

You are unashamedly aggressive and love to be in the limelight. You are never as sensitive as you appear to be in photos. You can change your religion, your wife, or your politics in a heartbeat if it suits your ambitions. Put your shirt back on.


8 – 11  You are Kim Jong Un.



You are misunderstood. People accuse you of being paranoid, but it’s not actually paranoia because everyone really does wish you would drop dead. You have plenty of power, but no skill to achieve anything with it. Find a new barbor.


12 – 16   You are Robert Mugabe.

You have become a peaceful person in your old age, but that’s because you can’t stay awake long enough to sustain an argument. Please do Zimbabwe a favor and go back to sleep. Don’t wake up.


17 – 21  You are the Iranian Mullah of the Month.

You suffer from Reality Deficit Disorder. You think you are educated, but that is just the hash talking. Everyone who knows you wants to keep you happy, but only so you won’t torture them and their families. Put down your AK47 and step away from the chickens.


22 – 26  You are New York Mayor Bloomberg.


Image by Midtown Comics, altered by Nightscream, wikimedia commons, public domain

Image by Midtown Comics, altered by Nightscream,
wikimedia commons, public domain


You are the first percentile, but only in finances. Some of your ideas are impressive, but only when we compare them to the rhetoric of Hugo Chavez. You’ll get our soft drinks when you tear them from our cold, dead hands.


27 – 30  Give it up. You’re not cut out for this profession.

Nobel Peace Prize: It Hasn’t Always Been a Joke

By Jay Holmes

This year’s nomination of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin for the Nobel Peace Prize has once again highlighted questions concerning the Prize’s legitimacy. The nomination came while Putin was orchestrating a Hitler-style takeover of the Crimean region of the Ukraine. Putin has responded to his nomination by accelerating the Russian military campaign and announcing that Russia might withdraw from the nuclear arms control verification process. No reasonable person would point to him as a shining example of a person who works for peace.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Vladimir Putin image by Pete Souza, wikimedia

Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama and
Nobel Peace Prize nominee Vladimir Putin
image by Pete Souza, wikimedia commons

If Putin’s nomination is comically absurd, he is not the first controversial nominee. In 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize only ninety days after taking office—too short a time for the Nobel selection committee to conduct anything like a thorough investigation of him as a candidate. Obama accepted the prize graciously, but he stated that he was surprised, and that he felt unworthy of the award. Many observers agreed. Since receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Obama has escalated the war in Afghanistan, expanded the world wide use of drone strikes, used Cruise Missiles to negotiate Gadhafi’s departure from Libya, sent a military aid team to the Central African Republic, authorized and – according to his supporters – personally orchestrated the U.S. military incursion into Pakistan to kill the infamous criminal Osama Bin Laden. I am not criticizing any of those actions, but only those who are religiously faithful to the president hold him up as an example of a “dove” at this point.

Of course Putin and Obama are not the first instances of controversy surrounding the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2002, after retired U.S. President Jimmy Carter received the Peace Prize, members of the selection committee admitted that their choice was politically motivated as a way to indirectly oppose the policies of President George Bush. Nevertheless, even if it was politically motivated, they at least picked someone who shunned the comforts of a wealthy retirement to spend his time directly working for world peace and to reduce the suffering of the poor.

1994 Nobel Laureates Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin image by Saar Yaacov for GPO

1994 Nobel Laureates Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin
image by Saar Yaacov for GPO, wikimedia commons

Far more controversial was their selection of Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres in 1994. Opinions on Peres and Arafat vary wildly depending on whether you ask a Palestinian or an Israeli, but for neutral observers, ignoring Arafat’s leadership in Palestinian terrorist activities requires a strong reliance on denial. If we consider that Arafat ordered the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre in which 11 Israeli athletes were murdered, and that he was responsible for dozens of other terrorist strikes around the world, then Arafat’s selection for the Nobel Peace Prize stands out as the Nobel selection committee’s most shameful moment . . . so far.

In spite of the Nobel Committee’s occasionally asinine behavior, it is worth remembering Alfred Nobel’s peaceful intent in setting up the Nobel Prize system and the fact that the Prize has, on many occasions, served to promote world peace. Let us consider a few of the many obvious cases of deserving recipients.

Ralph Bunche

The first recipient who comes to mind as highly deserving is American Professor Ralph Bunche. Ralph received the award in 1950. Before mentioning a few of Bunche’s many achievements, I would point out one of his most endearing personal qualities. Ralph started life as the son of poor parents in Detroit and ended up being raised by his grandparents in Los Angeles. Although that kid from the Detroit underclass became a renowned professor and United Nations big shot, he never forgot the poor. In spite of his fame and achievements, Ralph Bunche never hesitated to stand shoulder to shoulder with the most disadvantaged people of this world.

After a difficult childhood, Ralph Bunche graduated valedictorian of his class at Jefferson High School in Los Angeles. He attended the University of California at Los Angeles and graduated summa cum laude in 1927, and was the valedictorian of his class at a time when many universities around the U.S. were not allowing “negroes” to enroll. Ralph attended Howard University as a graduate student on an academic scholarship and received his masters in political science in 1928. In 1934, he became the first African-American to receive a doctorate in political science from an American university, after which he studied at the London School of Economics and the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

During World War Two, Ralph worked as an analyst for the Office of Strategic Services. After the war, he dedicated himself to working toward the foundation of the United Nations. Ralph Bunche and Eleanor Roosevelt worked tirelessly against staunch opposition from many nations’ delegates for the adoption of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. Some felt that human rights did not belong in the foundation of the U.N., but Bunche and Roosevelt believed that the U.N. would have no legitimacy without recognizing universal human rights.

In 1947 and 1948, Ralph worked to try to end the Arab-Israeli War. He was the senior assistant to the U.N. Special Committee on Palestine and rose to the office of Secretary of the U.N. Palestine Commission. In 1948, the U.N. appointed Bunche and Count Folke Bernadotte of Sweden to mediate the conflict. In September 1948, members of the underground Jewish Lehi group assassinated Bernadotte in Jerusalem.

After the assassination, Bunche became the U.N.’s chief mediator. The Israeli representative was Moshe Dayan. Dayan was known to be an ill-tempered and stubborn individual. He wrote in his memoirs that his most productive negotiations with Bunche happened during billiards games in off hours. Ever the optimist, Bunche commissioned an artist to create memorial plates for each negotiator. When the agreement was signed, Bunche handed the negotiators their plates. Dayan asked Bunche what he would have done with them if the negotiations had failed, and Bunche responded, “I’d have broken the plates over your damn heads.”

Ralph Bunche, Ph.D. Photo by Carl Van Vechten, Library of Congress

Ralph Bunche, Ph.D.
Photo by Carl Van Vechten
Library of Congress

For achieving the 1949 Armistice Agreements, Dr. Bunche received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950. He continued to work for the U.N. and mediated in other war-torn regions, including the Congo, Cyprus, Kashmir, and Yemen. He was then appointed Undersecretary-General of the U.N. in 1968. In spite of his busy schedule as one of the most productive leaders in the history of the U.N., Ralph Bunche also lent his status, expertise, and experience to the Civil Rights movement during the 1960s.

In 1971, Ralph Bunche took ill and left his position at the U.N. In December of that year, he died and was buried in New York. The world had lost one of its greatest champions of peace. Ralph Bunche had upheld the highest ideals of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Many other highly deserving Nobel Peace Prize recipients stand out as remarkable servants of peace. Co-recipients in 1976, Betty Williams and Mairéad Corrigan Maguire were two of the outstanding women of Northern Ireland who boldly stepped up the peace movement in the face of death threats from both sides of the conflict. Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa received the prize in 1984 for his work on bringing a peaceful end to apartheid in South Africa with his ability to gain the respect and trust of diverse church groups and help them to unite against the many opponents of peace in South Africa.

In 2003, Shirin Ebadi of Iran received the Peace Prize. As a lawyer and author, Shirin champions human rights, and in particular children’s rights. That is never an easy task, and doing so while speaking out against the pseudo-Islamic junta that runs Iran usually results in a slow and painful death. Remarkably, she survived the anger of the militant mullahs after defending accused dissidents in Iranian courts and founding a human rights group in Iran. She now resides in London, where in spite of repeated death threats against her and her family, she continues her work for human rights. She remains an international champion for children’s rights.

In reflecting on the entire list of Nobel Peace Prize winners, we see that nominees like Vladimir Putin, a.k.a. Stalin 2.0, and winners like Osama bin Laden Prototype Yasser Arafat demonstrate the weakest moments in Nobel Peace Prize history. Unfortunately, they usually receive the most attention. Today, let us remember that the Nobel Peace Prize has more often than not highlighted remarkable people who have worked for a better world.

What Nobel Peace Prize recipients do you consider to be most deserving?

The End is Near (and we deserve it) . . . Putin Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

By Piper Bayard

Always trying to outshine Stalin, aren’t you, Vlady?

Let me put this in perspective. Putin is invading Ukraine based on the argument that because there are Russian speaking people of Russian heritage in that country, Russia has the right to go in and protect the interests of those people. By that reasoning, we can expect the Mexican army to be setting up camps through the Southwest any day now.

Ah, well. Once Yasser Arafat won it, there were no surprises left.

Vladimir Putin, Dove of Peace image by premier.gov.ru

Vladimir Putin, Dove of Peace
image by premier.gov.ru

See our previous response to the notion of Putin and Peace Prize in the same sentence at B&H Nobel Peace-Through-Ironic-Laughter Prize Nominations.

Blogs and Articles in No Particular Order

Proud to say our Monday post, Ukraine Crisis: Vladimir Putin and the Power of Gas, was Freshly Pressed this week. A big welcome to all of our new subscribers!

It Didn’t Start Last Week — Timeline of Ukrainian Invasions

Timeline of Ukrainian Turmoil — Part Two, 2001 – Present

Ukraine in Crisis: Vladimir Putin and the Power of Gas

The Cliffside Rose

The Cliffside Rose

The Cliffside Rose Flash Fiction Contest — Vote Now! When Holmes and I stumbled across this rose on the side of a cliff in the middle of a secluded desert on the day after Valentine’s Day, we challenged our readers to explain this oddity using the words “Dixie,” “witness protection,” and “cheese grater.” We have eight outstanding entries who are vying for your vote. Come by and enjoy the yarns they have spun in an effort to win a copy of DOWN AND DEAD IN DIXIE by USA Today bestseller Vicki Hinze.

I had the honor of guest posting at New York Times bestseller Allison Brennan‘s Murder She Writes site this week. In James Bond vs. The Spook, I share a few things I’ve learned about real covert operatives since I started working with Holmes.

Is this the real Holmes?

Is this the real Holmes?

Recently, numerous bloggers participated in August McLaughlin’s Beauty of a Woman Blogfest 2014. Three of my favorites are What are Your 21 Layers of Beauty? by Jenny Hansen, Beauty: A Matter of Mind Over Matter by Kassandra Lamb, and Inspiring Beauty Quotes: A #BOAW3 Wrap-Up, Part II by August McLaughlin.

Like Detective Fiction? Thank the Metropolitan Police Act by K.B.Owen at Misterio Press.

Yoga IS for Everyone. A Short Guest Series, Part 2 by Christine Moore.

When so many of us are tired of winter, it helps to be reminded of the beauty. Crystallize – Lindsey Stirling Dubstep Violin Original Song.

Campaign Style Question of the Week:

All the best to all of you for a peaceful week.

To join in comments, come to

Bayard & Holmes

The End is Near (and we deserve it) . . . Putin Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Ukraine Crisis: Vladimir Putin and the Power of Gas

By Jay Holmes

If we are to have any chance of understanding the present dynamic of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, we must look to the history of the region and its people. In Part One, we followed the Ukraine Timeline from the founding of the first Ukrainian city in 907 A.D. through the ascendance of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, a.k.a. Stalin 2.0. In Part Two, the Timeline continues up to the present Russian invasion. Today, we look at current situation and what it means to Europe and the West.

Kiev Protestors February 18, 2014 image by Mstyslav Chernov/Unframe/http://www.unframe.com.jpg wikimedia commons

Kiev Protestors February 18, 2014
image by Mstyslav Chernov
wikimedia commons

The crisis in Ukraine is the product of many factors. Russian speaking pro-Russian citizens populate the Crimea and other areas of Ukraine. Putin is using this most effectively to satisfy the centuries-old Russian imperial ambitions to expand southward. Russia has well equipped military forces based in the Crimea by treaty with the Ukraine — a treaty that many Ukrainians no doubt deeply regret today. Ukraine shares borders with Poland, Romania, and Moldavia, which are all becoming more “Europeanized” and more “Western-looking” with each passing year. Unfortunately for Ukraine, they also share borders with Russia and with her pro-Putin police state ally, Belarus.

A clear majority of Ukrainians have rejected the police state values of Russia and Russian allies. They have made it clear that they want to be part of Europe. On the surface, this is evidenced by the Ukraine’s attempts to forge a trade agreement with Europe. That trade agreement included provisions for basic human rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary. Vladimir Putin remains opposed to that trade agreement and opposed to those basic human rights because such basic human rights make it more difficult for him to operate as a dictator in Russia and to achieve his goals for the Russian-led Eurasian Customs Union.

The Crimea and the region of Ukraine that lies between Russia and the Crimea are of immense value to Putin. If he is able to annex or control those areas, Russia and any members of the Eurasian Customs Union will then have direct access to the Black Sea and hence the Mediterranean. Part of Putin’s timing in taking over the Crimea has to do with the weather. Historically, the winter has meant a decrease in military operations in and by Russia. In a reversal of that trend, Russia now prefers to conduct as much of its military operations in Ukraine while the weather is still cold.

Russian Gas & Oil Pipelines Through Ukraine map by Victor Korniyenko, wikimedia commons

Russian Gas & Oil Pipelines Through Ukraine
map by Victor Korniyenko, wikimedia commons

That’s because Ukrainian gas supplies come from Russia. Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Slovenia, Moldavia, and Turkey all get between 64% and 100% of their natural gas supplies from Russia.  Austria, France, Germany, Italy, and Romania receive between 14% and 48% of their natural gas supplies from Russia.  Those natural gas supplies are more critical during colder months. That basic fact of European life gives Russia important leverage over any European response to its actions in Ukraine.

Given Putin’s naked expansionist ambitions and Western Europe’s dependency on Russian natural gas and Russian oil, Putin may be boldly aggressive in Ukraine. Responses from the West will range from muted to lame “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will not be without a stiff price.” However, Russia has been trying for a thousand years to rule the Crimea and the greater Ukraine. In spite of ruthless genocides and unbridled brutality, it has never succeeded in the past, and it’s unlikely that the Ukrainian people will bend to Russian will regardless of support or the lack thereof from the West.

Vladimir Putin is telling his audiences in Russia and in Ukraine that Ukraine’s anti-government protestors are led by a Jewish conspiracy. He is simultaneously telling everyone outside of Russia and Ukraine that the protestors are dangerous anti-Semite Nazis. They are neither. The protestors in Ukraine are a broad coalition of diverse affiliations ranging from women’s rights groups and lesbian and gay rights groups to right-wing Ukrainian nationalists. What they share is a desire for Ukraine to be free of Russia and for its citizens to enjoy basic human rights.

Putin may see a victory for himself in Ukraine, but should he be unlucky enough to pursue and achieve that victory, the results will make the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan resemble a picnic compared to dealing with the Ukrainians and their sympathizers in the West. Putin will undoubtedly make his best effort to gain as much territory as he can and as many Ukrainian concessions as he can without instigating a full-scale war in Ukraine.  If he miscalculates, the price will be steep for Ukraine, but it will also lead to a severe decline in the Russian economy, which might further erode Putin’s popularity at home.

March 2, 2014 Protestors against Russian invasion: "Crimea is Ukraine." image by BO CBo6ona, wikimedia commons

March 2, 2014
Maidan protestors against Russian invasion:
“Crimea is Ukraine.”
image by BO CBo6ona, wikimedia commons

An overwhelming majority of Ukrainians has made it clear that they want independence from Russia, human rights, and membership in the European community. Their demands are reasonable. For the sake of the Ukrainians as well as Russians and Europeans, let us hope that the power-thirsty Russian dictator does not overplay his hand.

Special Thanks to photographer Mstyslav Chernov of Unframe Photographers for the amazing photographs he made available at Wikimedia Commons. Please visit the Unframe Photographers site at Unframe.com and Mstyslav Chernov’s site at MstyslavChernov.com for more outstanding documentary photos.

To join in comments, come to

Bayard & Holmes

Ukraine Crisis: Vladimir Putin and the Power of Gas

Ukrainian Conquest Part Two: 2001 – Present

By Jay Holmes

As the storm breaks over the Eurasian steppes, the world is busy wondering how far Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, a.k.a. Stalin 2.0, will go in his invasion of Ukraine. To make a guess at that, it’s essential to understand the history that shapes today’s events. In Part One, we began a timeline of the of Ukraine’s violent past from the country’s beginnings at the turn of the 10th century through the ascendance of Vladimir Putin to the office of President of Russia in 2000. In Part Two, we continue that timeline through the current Russian invasion.

Ukraine Timeline:

2001 A.D.

In February, the European Union calls for an investigation of the murder of investigative journalist Georgiy Gongadze. Opposition demonstrations allege that President Kuchma was involved and call for his impeachment. President Kuchma denies the allegations.

2002 A.D.

Mass protests occur in Kiev and other cities in September demanding the resignation of President Kuchma.

U.S. officials release recordings in which President Kuchma is heard selling early-warning radar systems to Iraq. On the same tapes, Kuchma is heard ordering an official to “deal with” journalist Georgiy Gongadze.

Kiev demonstrations demanding Kuchma’s resignation grow in size and intensity in November. President Kuchma responds by sacking the prime minister, Anatoliy Kinakh. Viktor Yanukovych is appointed Prime Minister. Yanukovych pledges to fight poverty and corruption and to work toward integration into Europe.

2004 A.D.

Prime Minister Yanukovych wins the November presidential election. Western observers report widespread vote rigging. Opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko launches a campaign of mass street protests. Many of the protestors dress in orange, and the movement is dubbed the “Orange Revolution.” The Ukrainian Supreme Court later annuls the election results.

Orange Revolution, Nov. 22, 2004 image by Gutsul, wikimedia commons

Orange Revolution, Nov. 22, 2004
image by Gutsul, wikimedia commons

Opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko tops the polls in the re-run election in December. Yanukovych resigns.

2005 A.D.

In January, Yushchenko is sworn in as President of Ukraine.

Parliament overwhelmingly approves his nominee for prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, in February.

President Yushchenko announces in March that the suspected killers of journalist Georgiy Gongadze are in custody. He also accuses the former authorities of a cover-up.

Yushchenko dismisses the government of Yulia Tymoshenko in September, and Yuriy Yekhanurov is appointed prime minister.

2006 A.D.

In January, Russia briefly cuts gas supplies to Ukraine after a long fight over gas prices. Moscow says its reasons are purely economic, but Ukraine is certain that the cut-off is politically motivated.

Viktor Yanukovych’s party tops the polls in parliamentary elections for prime minister in March. Faced with a deadline to accept Viktor Yanukovych’s nomination or call new elections, President Yushchenko agrees that his rival can become prime minister. Yekhanurov is out.

2007 A.D.

In September, parliamentary elections result in pro-Russian parties gaining a small majority.

Yulia Tymoshenko is appointed prime minister for a second time in December in a coalition with President Yushchenko’s party.

U.S. President George W. Bush & Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko White House photo by Eric Draper

U.S. President George W. Bush & Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko
White House photo by Eric Draper

2008 A.D.

In March, Russia’s state-owned natural gas company Gazprom and Ukraine agree to a contract to supply Ukraine’s industrial consumers directly, temporarily ending a long fight over gas supplies.

In October, a global financial crisis causes a sharp decline in world demand for steel. Steel is a major Ukrainian export item. The value of Ukrainian currency plummets, and foreign investment in Ukraine dries up. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) offers Ukraine a loan of $16.5 billion (£10.4 billion) to help it weather the storm.

2009 A.D.

January talks between Russia and Ukraine about unpaid bills and gas prices collapse, and Russia stops all gas supplies to Ukraine. This causes gas shortages in southeast Europe. A week later, Ukraine and Russia sign a 10-year deal on gas transit, and supplies are restored.

That December, Ukraine and Russia sign an agreement on oil transit for 2010. Europe had been concerned that supplies would be cut off again.

2010 A.D.

Viktor Yanukovych is declared winner of second round of presidential election in February. His main rival, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, refuses to accept the result, alleging fraud.

Tymoshenko resigns in March after a no-confidence vote, and President Yanukovych appoints Mykola Azarov to succeed her.

In April, Ukraine agrees to eliminate its stockpile of weapons-grade nuclear material ahead of the Washington Nuclear Security Summit. It also extends an agreement on Russia’s lease on the Black Sea fleet base at Sevastopol in Crimea for 25 years in return for cheaper gas imports.

The Ukrainian Parliament votes to abandon any plans for NATO membership in June.

In July, international media freedom watchdogs criticize a Kiev court’s decision to cancel the allocation of broadcasting frequencies to two privately run TV channels.

The IMF approves another $15 billion (£9 billion) loan for Ukraine in August, subject to the government curbing subsidies for utilities bills.

In October, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court overturns limits on presidential power that were introduced in 2004.

Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych image by Pavol Freso, wikimedia commons

Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych
image by Pavol Freso, wikimedia commons

President Yanukovych vetoes a tax reform in November that had prompted thousands of business owners and opposition activists to protest in city centers nationwide. The reform was part of austerity measures demanded by the IMF as a condition of the bailout approved in August.

In December, Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko are charged with abuse of state funds. Both deny the charges and say the accusations are politically motivated.

2011 A.D.

In March, Ex-President Leonid Kuchma is charged for involvement the 2000 murder of journalist Georgiy Gongadze. He denies any part in the killing. In the same month, the Ukraine government fails to pass a pension reform bill and also increases the watering down of gas price. The IMF puts its $15 billion bailout on hold.

The main suspect in the Gongadze killing, former Interior Ministry official Olexiy Pukach, goes on trial in April. According to prosecutors, he had confessed to strangling and beheading Gongadze. He claimed to have received his orders from Kuchma.

In October, a Ukrainian court finds former Prime Minister Tymoshenko guilty of abuse of power over a gas deal with Russia in 2009 and sentences her to seven years in prison. European governments view her arrest and conviction as a political ploy inspired by Vladimir Putin and his cohorts within the Ukrainian government. The E.U. warns Ukraine of “profound implications.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin image by www.kremlin.ru

Russian President Vladimir Putin
image by http://www.kremlin.ru

2012 A.D.

Ukraine postpones a summit of Central and East European leaders in Yalta in May after several leaders boycott it over the mistreatment of Yulia Tymoshenko in prison. Others boycott the Euro 2012 football championship.

In July, a new law makes Russian the regional language. Protestors demonstrate in anger. Police in Kiev tear-gas them.

In October, the first parliamentary elections since President Yanukovych came to power in 2010 see a decisive win for his governing Party of Regions and a surprise boost for the far-right Freedom Party. Observers from the U.S. and the E.U. claim that the poll was seriously tainted.

2013 A.D.

In February, the European Union gives Ukraine a deadline to meet conditions for the planned trade agreement. At a meeting in Brussels, Ukraine President Viktor F. Yanukovich said he believed that the outstanding issues  could be resolved by November 2013.

The European Court of Human Rights rules unanimously in April that the arrest and detention of Yulia Tymoshenko in 2011 was illegal and unjust.

November 21 –Yanukovich’s government abruptly rejects a trade agreement with the European Union on grounds that it would damage ties with Russia. The Ukrainian Parliament also rejects a bill that would have allowed jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko to leave the country. A few hundred pro-Ukrainian, pro-democracy protestors enter Maidan Nezalezhnosti, the Kiev equivalent of Independence Square.

November 24 – About 100,000 protestors occupy Maidan to voice their anger over what they see as Yanukovich selling out the Ukraine to Russian President Vladmir Putin’s government. Large protests occur in other Ukraine cities as well.

November 30 – Riot police brutally attack demonstrators at Maidan.

December 1 – The violence prompts public outrage in Ukraine and some concern around the world. Pro-democracy activists occupy Kiev city hall and establish a tent camp at Maidan.

December 11 – Thousands of riot police storm Maidan but are unable to clear out the protestors. The police retreat after a few hours. Protestors are emboldened, and additional groups reinforce them.

December 8 –Over 800,000 active protestors gather on the streets of Kiev. Thousands more man support centers to handle communications and protect injured protestors in hospitals from being kidnapped by police or Russian agents. An angry crowd topples and smashes a statue of Lenin, Kiev’s most prominent monument to the communist leader.

December 14 – Pro-Russian protestors are bussed into Kiev. Their numbers are about one tenth those of the anti-Russian mainstream protest movements. There is evidence that Putin is directly funding and supporting the “pro-Russian” groups. The pro-Russian protests dominate the Russian government controlled media.

December 17 – After a series of meetings between Yanukovich and Vladimir Putin, Moscow announces that it will to lend $15 billion to Ukraine and slash the price it pays for gas.

2014 A.D.

Kiev Barricade Jan. 4, 2014 image by Александр Мотин, wikimedia commons

Kiev Barricade Jan. 4, 2014
image by Александр Мотин, wikimedia commons

January 16 – Yanukovich’s allies in parliament ignore the Ukrainian Constitution and pass bills to outlaw most forms of street protest.

January 19 – Some of the more radical Ukrainian activists barricade Grushevsky Street, which runs from Maidan to the parliament.

January 22 – Police shoot and kill two protesters. A third protestor dies after falling from a colonnade on Grushevsky Street. The police deny responsibility. During the following week, several activists are abducted and tortured by police. One is killed. Yanukovich and his cabal deny knowledge of the kidnappings, but only he and the Russians claim to believe his denials.

January 24 – Protesters occupy the Agricultural Policy Ministry close to Maidan and announce the seizure of local government buildings in several cities in western and central Ukraine.

January 28 – Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov resigns, and the anti-protest law is rescinded. Opposition leaders refuse to form a new cabinet under Yanukovich.

January 29 – Parliament passes an amnesty bill promising to drop charges against all those arrested during the unrest if protesters agree to leave government buildings. The opposition rejects its conditions.

February 10, 2014 Maidan Protestor plays piano atop burned Berkut bus image by BBnaCeHKO, wikimedia commons

February 10, 2014
Maidan Protestor plays piano atop burned Berkut bus
image by BBnaCeHKO, wikimedia commons

February 16 – Amnesty is granted to detained protesters after activists agree to vacate some occupied buildings and streets. The ability of the protestors to negotiate the deal and follow up on their promises indicates that they are highly organized.

February 18, 2014 Barricade line between interior troops and protestors image by Mstyslav Chernov of Unframe.com wikimedia commons

February 18, 2014
Barricade line between interior troops and protestors
image by Mstyslav Chernov of Unframe.com
wikimedia commons

February 18 – Police block protesters from marching on parliament to demand constitutional reform. Riots erupt. About twenty-five people are killed, including seven policemen, and hundreds are injured by brutal police attacks. The police fail to dislodge the protestors, and some of the protestors become more violent in response to the police aggression.

February 18, 2014 Kiev Protestors class with interior troop officers image by Mstyslav Chernov at Unframe.com wikimedia commons

February 18, 2014
Kiev Protestors class with interior troop officers
image by Mstyslav Chernov at Unframe.com
wikimedia commons

February 19 – The encamped protestors on Maidan remain defiant, though they are surrounded by riot police. Protesters retake some government buildings in Western Ukraine and reject Yanukovich’s authority. Yanukovich and the protestors agree to a truce.

Kiev protestors dismantling brickstone pavement to use for self-defense February 19, 2014 image by Mstyslov Chernov/Unframe/http://www.unframe.com.jpg wikimedia commons

Kiev protestors dismantling brickstone pavement to use for self-defense
February 19, 2014
image by Mstyslov Chernov at Unframe.com
wikimedia commons

February 20 – The truce dissolves. Violence increases in Kiev. The death toll in 48 hours of clashes rises to approximately 80 people. About 500 are wounded. Videos show uniformed snipers firing at protesters holding home-made shields. European Union foreign ministers fly in to try to broker a deal. Russia announces it is sending an envoy.

February 21 – President Yanukovych signs a truce agreement with opposition leaders that was negotiated by foreign ministers from France, Germany, and Poland – an attempt to form a new national unity government. The deal includes constitutional changes to return powers back to parliament and early elections to be held by December. Violence continues in Kiev. In Western Ukraine, protesters occupying government buildings remain defiant, refusing to recognize the Kiev authorities.

February 18, 2014 Protestors arming themselves with paving stones image by Mstyslav Chernov of Unframe.com wikimedia commons

February 18, 2014
Protestors arming themselves with paving stones
image by Mstyslav Chernov of Unframe.com
wikimedia commons

February 22 – Protesters take control of the presidential administration buildings. President Yanukovych leaves Kiev. He is reported to be in Kharkov in the northeast. Parliament votes to remove him from power and sets elections for May 25. Yanukovych appears on TV to insist that he is still President of Ukraine. His arch-rival and opposition leader, Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, is freed from prison and travels to Kiev. Many of the protest leaders hope that she will serve as a unifying pro-independence/pro-European figure for the various protest groups.

February 23 – Parliament names speaker Olexander Turchynov to be Interim President. Turchynov is a close associate of Tymoshenko. Turchynov tells the Ukrainian parliament that they have until Tuesday to form a new unity government.

February 24 – The Turchynov-led Ukrainian government issues an arrest warrant for Yanukovych.

February 26 – Members of the new Ukrainian government appear before the pro-democracy demonstrators. The Berkut Police Unit, which was responsible for deaths of protesters, is disbanded. Russia sponsors rival protests in the Crimea.

March 2, 2014, Simferopol, Crimea Soldiers without insignia guard buildings image by E. Arrott, Voice of America

March 2, 2014, Simferopol, Crimea
Soldiers without insignia guard buildings
image by E. Arrott, Voice of America

February 27 – Pro-Russian gunmen in uniforms without unit or national badges seize key buildings in the Crimean capital of Simferopol. Their equipment is clean and up-to-date. They lack the appearance of anything like a “home-grown militia.” Yanukovych issues a statement through Russian media saying he is still the legitimate President of Ukraine. Putin and some Russians believe that he is. Many non-Russian Ukrainians and international observers believe that the gunmen are Russian Special Forces and the precursor of a Russian military invasion of Ukraine.

February 28 – Soldiers in uniforms lacking unit and national identities take over Crimea’s main airports.  At his first news conference since escaping from Ukraine, Yanukovych, now in Russia, continues to pretend that he is President of Ukraine. Ukraine’s Central Bank limits daily foreign currency cash withdrawals to 1,000 Euros.

U.S. President Obama warns that there will be costs to the Russians for any military intervention in the Ukraine. The president does not explain what those costs will be.

March 1 – Russia’s parliament approves President Vladimir Putin’s request to use Russian forces in Ukraine. Ukraine’s Acting President Olexander Turchynov puts his army on full alert.

Pro-Russian rallies take place in several Ukrainian cities outside Crimea. Western countries express alarm over the Russian deployment. U.S. President Barack Obama holds a 90-minute telephone conversation with Putin, urging him to pull forces back to bases in Crimea. Putin says Moscow reserves the right to protect its interests and those of Russian speakers in Ukraine.

Putin seems to be using the same playbook with the same propaganda campaign that Adolf Hitler used to occupy Eastern Czechoslovakia in 1938. Nazi Germany subsequently invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia. Let us hope that Vladimir Putin doesn’t prove to be quite as maniacal a dictator as Adolf Hitler was.

March 2, 2014 Protestors against Russian invasion: "Crimea is Ukraine." image by BO CBo6ona, wikimedia commons

March 2, 2014
Protestors against Russian invasion: “Crimea is Ukraine.”
image by BO CBo6ona, wikimedia commons

March 2 – Russian forces continue to deploy in combat kit and surround Ukrainian military facilities in the Crimean peninsula. Russian Secret Police attempt to coerce and blackmail Ukrainian leaders in the Crimea to shift their allegiance away from their central government to Russian-backed elements in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Naval Chief announces that he has transferred his allegiance to Russia.

Critical events continue to occur at a rapid pace. In Part Three, we will look at the complex dynamic of the forces at play in Ukraine and what Putin’s invasion means to the West.

*Special Thanks to photographer Mstyslav Chernov of Unframe Photographers for permission to use his amazing photographs that he made available at Wikimedia Commons. Please visit the Unframe Photographers site at Unframe.com and Mstyslav Chernov’s site at MstyslavChernov.com for more outstanding documentary photos.

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Bayard & Holmes

Timeline of Ukrainian Conquests: Part Two