Dr James Summers examines the international legal position of Russia’s occupation of the Crimean region of the Ukraine and the possible status of the peninsula following from this. On 27 February Russian forces, wearing balaclavas to hide their identity, are believed to have moved beyond Russian naval facilities on the peninsula to take control of public buildings, airports and highways linking it with the rest of the Ukraine. These soldiers have gained effective control of the territory, while Ukrainian forces are currently under siege in their barracks. This takeover swiftly followed the overthrow of Ukrainian President Victor Yukanovych, who fled the country in the wake of an uprising in the capital Kiev on 22 February. Protests against Yukanovych erupted from his decision on 21 November 2013 not to sign a trade agreement with the EU in favour of financial support from Russia. Yukanovych, who drew support from the Russophone eastern regions of Ukraine, was seen by Moscow as an important ally.
Dr Amanda Cahill-Ripley
The 2014 Winter Olympics commenced in Sochi, Russia this week. However the event is not without controversy. Many people will have seen the BBC Panorama episode ‘Putin’s Games’ last week investigating alleged human rights violations connected to the hosting of the XXII Winter Olympiad. What will have been shocking to some is the hugely negative impact a mega event such as the Olympics can have on the local environment and people. The International Olympic Committee’s binding Olympic Charter 2013 includes The Fundamental Principles of Olympism, which provide that:
‘Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles. The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.’
These are admirable principles to hold. However the reality of the preparations for these games has resulted in actions by the Russian authorities and businesses that have been far from ethical, and which are threatening to human dignity.