Irena Chalupa

  • The Many Hopes of Nadiya Savchenko

    “I’ve been in a prison cell for two years, I’m not used to people, so I am sorry if I sound harsh,” said Nadiya Savchenko as throngs of journalists and well-wishers crowded around her at Kyiv’s Boryspil airport on May 25.

    Captured in Ukraine, transferred secretly to Russia where she was tried and sentenced to twenty-two years in jail for complicity in the death of two journalists, Savchenko arrived home as part of a prisoner swap for two Russian officers, Yevgeny Yerofeyev and Aleksandar Aleksandrov, who were captured and tried in Ukraine.

    Thanking everyone who had worked for her release, Ukraine’s warrior princess reminded everyone that she was still a soldier. Claustrophobically surrounded by people on all sides, she turned in a circle as she expressed her condolences to those mothers whose sons did not come home and promised to help free those who are still being held in Russian...

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  • Even in Theater, War and Displacement Has No Room in Ukraine

    As I was walking up Kyiv's colorful Andriyivsky descent on December 6, three explosions pierced the quiet evening. No one stopped examining the myriad souvenirs on sale in the booths lining the street, no one showed any fear or ran for cover. On the third explosion, one exasperated man exclaimed "Who the hell is blowing up those bloody firecrackers?" Thankfully, that's all they were.

    The blasts brought home a reality that at times seems far from the chic shops and posh restaurants of Kyiv. Although hundreds of miles from the capital, the reality of annexation in the south and war and occupation in the east, a war that continues to claim lives almost daily, despite the Minsk ceasefire agreement, is a constant presence in Kyiv.

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  • Ukrainians Face Another Election Headache

    People are more important than political interests. This party will never betray you. Fair wages and pensions. People, not politicians. Let's unite for Ukraine! Order and justice.

    These are just a few of the messages blaring at Kyiv residents from billboards. Ukraine's capital is awash with campaign tents manned by students and retirees wearing smocks bearing party slogans, busily passing out election literature.

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  • The Donbas Black Hole

    What Russia hoped would be a small, victorious war has turned into the "geostrategic disaster of a new cold war," writes Volodymyr Horbulin, a respected foreign policy analyst currently advising Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

    In an article in Dzerkalo Tyzhnia, Horbulin argues that the main participants in the war have exhausted themselves. The Donbas has become a black hole from which Russia, its creator, cannot escape.

    Hybrid war succeeded in Crimea, but it failed in the Donbas. Ukraine's economic blockade of the occupied territories has strained Russia financially. Separatist leaders in Donetsk and Luhansk are incompetent, forcing Moscow to augment its military advisers with administrators. Returning Russian "volunteers" are a problem for Moscow, which has already asked rebels to create a border force to prevent former fighters from...

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  • Russia Threatens Ukrainian Pilot Nadiya Savchenko with 25-Year Jail Term

    Nadiya Savchenko, Ukraine's most famous female military officer, has languished in a Moscow prison for more than a year since Moscow-backed separatists captured her in eastern Ukraine last June and smuggled across the border to Russia shackled, her head covered by a sack. Now her captors have moved her again—and again under the cover of secrecy—to a detention facility in the southwestern Russian city of Novocherkassk, said to be the worst criminal prison in the Russian Federation, only twenty kilometers from the rebel-controlled area of eastern Ukraine.

    It is in the nearby city of Donetsk (not be confused with the Ukrainian city of the same name now controlled by pro-Russian separatists) that Savchenko appeared in a pre-trial hearing on July 30, a legal move that is yet another step in a Kafkaesque...

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  • DIRECT TRANSLATION: Russian Marine, Home From Ukraine War, Says ‘A Lot of Russian Military’ Are Fighting There

    Troops from Russia’s Pacific Far East Region Are Prominent in a War 4,200 Miles to the West

    The Russian island of Sakhalin, in the Pacific Ocean just north of Japan, is fully a continent away from the war raging in southeastern Ukraine. But Konstantin Gorelov, a 22-year-old, active-duty Russian naval infantry commando, made the 4,200-mile trip as a “vacation” to join other members of his force in the intensive battle this month over the international airport in Donetsk.

    Gorelov’s account, in an interview with a Sakhalin-based website,, confirms reports by Ukraine, NATO, and news media that active-duty Russian troops were key in the seizure of the airport from Ukrainian forces. In the Donbas war, “there are a lot of Russian military, they are not very visible, but they are working quietly and effectively,”...

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  • DIRECT TRANSLATION: Nadiya Savchenko’s Lawyer Warns Putin She May Die in Moscow Prison

    Ukrainian Officer-Pilot Reaches 45 Days on Hunger Strike Against Her Abduction and Politicized Trial

    Nadiya Savchenko, the Ukrainian army officer and pilot who was captured in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and spirited to prison in Moscow, may die in captivity there on the hunger strike she has pursued for 45 days, her lawyer wrote yesterday. As attorney Mark Feygin urged Russian President Vladimir Putin in a letter to release Savchenko, her supporters mounted a global campaign of rallies and Twitter messages, and the European parliament members voted a resolution in her defense.

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  • Ukraine’s Dignified Warrior: Nadiya Savchenko Confronts the Kremlin

    Paratrooper, Pilot, Parliamentarian, She Pressures Moscow with Hunger Strike in Prison

    In seven months since a Russian-backed militia in southeastern Ukraine captured Nadiya Savchenko, the Ukrainian paratrooper and pilot has become one of her country’s biggest icons in its war against the Russian invasion. Her captors spirited her illegally into Russia, held her in isolation, then accused her of helping to kill Russian journalists. At home, Savchenko, already celebrated as Ukraine’s first female military pilot, was nominated and elected to parliament, an office she accepted from her Moscow prison cell.

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  • In the War for Ukraine’s Donbas, the Ordeal of a Frontline Town

    Far From Kyiv and Next to Donetsk, the Elderly of Pisky Get Daily Shelling, But No Pensions

    Before this year’s war in southeast Ukraine, the town of Pisky, at the edge of the city of Donetsk, was home to about 3,000 people. Many were academics who worked at the local Donetsk Institute of Agricultural Production.

    Now, Pisky is a debris-strewn combat zone, its homes and office buildings empty, with roofs blown off, windows smashed, and the few remaining inhabitants hunkered in frigid basements. Recent video reports, plus social media posts by soldiers in the area depict a desperate scene as winter sets in. Ukrainian government troops, national guard...

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  • Ukraine: Suddenly, an Information Ministry Is Born

    Poroshenko’s Team Creates a Government Agency in 60 Hours; Critics Ask if This Is the Way to Counter Kremlin Propaganda

    President Petro Poroshenko’s government created a Ministry of Information Policy last week in sixty hours from first proposal to parliamentary approval—and did so over the objections of pro-reform legislators, journalists, and democracy activists.

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