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“My GitHub account has been restricted due to US sanctions as I live in Crimea” (github.com)
396 points by pizza on July 25, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 380 comments



During the Cold War, the primary thing that distinguished the US side from the USSR side was that, while speech by USSR people and people sympathetic to the USSR (like, say, CPUSA) was published in the US, publishing speech sympathetic to the US in the USSR would get you arrested.

It seems like the US has become what the USSR was: companies who publish speech from people in Iran or Crimea are now violating the law by doing so. Moreover, in cases like this one, already-published material is being destroyed, in a way that wasn't practical in the USSR, due to technological limitations (though they did try — famously Beria was airbrushed out of official photographs). The US doesn't yet have massive prison camp systems full of political dissidents — but then, for the first couple of decades, neither did the USSR.

This is a crucially important reason to move away from centralized and proprietary systems and onto decentralized, peer-to-peer, secure, free-software systems.

Learn from history.

(Edit: previously I gave Noam Chomsky as an example of someone sympathetic to the USSR, but that is at best debatable. The Communist Party USA, now in its 101st year, is a much clearer example, one that published continuously throughout the Cold War despite US prosecutions of its leadership.)


I don't think Noam Chomsky has ever been sympathetic to the USSR, he just said that the US was not much better than USSR.

For example in that speach he clearly states that USSR was a a flawed totalitarian system from the start https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06-XcAiswY4

(he has in fact also stated many times that his political views were indeed censored in the US)


When Western intellectuals like Chomsky say they have been "censored", they mean that that their publishing house asked them to leave out or add stuff because they felt that such changes would help the book sell better, as their goal was to make money off authors they published. That's quite a bit different from the threats of jail time that Eastern Bloc intellectuals faced.


A modern westerner doesn't really get how it was in the Soviet block.

"Wasn't much better than USSR" is such bullshit on so many levels that it's hard to even to begin. In the US:

- you didn't have quotas to write "correct literature"

- you wouldn't disappear in a gulag for 10 years

- you didn't have to worry about standing in a queue for 1-2h to get fresh bread and sausage (it's easier to contemplate stupid shit when you don't have to worry about food)

- you didn't get assigned to a specific workplace where you HAD to work

- the books you read didn't have ideological crap (due to quotas) like "and children stopped starving because country X is a part of a friendly USSR"

I skipped not relevant bits but probably I still missed quite a few because I can only relay what my parents and others told me (I was born in the late 80s so I didn't get to experience the full glory of USSR).

EDIT: I forgot to mention a well-known practice of labelling people physically ill[1], getting them into physical wards, and pumping them with drugs until they are no longer "a thread". There is no need for a trial, and you can be held there indefinitely.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_abuse_of_psychiatry_...


All true, and yet a lot of people in USSR and many other East block countries miss those times nowadays, as there were also good things about it, mainly a sense of financial and social security and also "equality" between people (yes, equality in being poor compared to West, but still very little differences in life styles for 99% of people - all kids in your school would wear the same kind of shoes and same kind of cloths, living in the same kind of apartments - there was no rich kids singling out poor ones and all that shit that you have now)


Let's not forget "stukach". Your friend or relative might be the one who meets a curator from KGB and reporting everything "interesting" you have said. Each big enough organization had a permanent curator assigned to monitor sentiments. And repercussions were real enough.


I wasn't expecting to find such a nice summary: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_repression_in_the_So... . It deserves to be here.


For the record, I very much disagree with Chomsky, but he was writing when the events you are writing about were contemporary, and he knew about them. I do think you may have an overly rosy view of Cold War USA. Lots of people didn't have a choice of where to work, there was and still is some hunger and malnutrition, there was a lot of jingoistic ideological propaganda, involuntary commitment and even lobotomy was used against dissidents (especially feminists and gay men), and for example the Comics Code explicitly required the jingoistic propaganda, as did the DoD for films made with their cooperation (which included almost anything touching on military topics).

There was a lot more freedom than in the USSR, but the same shitty phenomena occurred, just less so.


>"Wasn't much better than USSR" is such bullshit on so many levels that it's hard to even to begin. In the US:

- you wouldn't disappear in a gulag for 10 years

I totally agree. The US is much more better. There's no doubt that an Ecuadorian embassy or a Guantanamo are much better places than a gulag.


By your estimate, how many millions of Americans have disappeared in Guantanamo?

Difference of several orders of magnitude, right?


Chomsky has also been arrested several times, but imprisonment (or arrest) is not the same thing as censorship.


Not many people know of the worst cases. Take the case of Chomsky's "Counter-Revolutionary Violence", which caused angry executives to literally shut down the publisher[1]:

"Sarnoff(chief of book operation, Warner communications) complained that too many of Warner Modular's(small publishing company under Warner communications) works were written by left-wing writers. McCaleb replied that conservative writers were also represented, and that Warner Modular had planned to publish works by Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek.

Sarnoff then canceled the ads for CRV, ordered the destruction of the first printing of CRV, as well as the Warner Modular catalog that listed them, and announced that he would not release one copy of CRV to anybody. When McCaleb replied that such an outrageous move would shatter Warner Modular's staff and shock the publishing world, Sarnoff replied that he did not "give a damn what I, my staff, the authors, or the academic community thought and ended by saying that we should destroy the entire inventory of CRV".

Warner Publishing decided to shut down Warner Modular before CRV could be published. The print run was not initially destroyed because of contractual obligations, but the book was passed on to MSS Information Corporation for promotion and distribution after Warner Publishing shut down Warner Modular. However, MSS engaged in no promotion, as it was not a commercial publishing company and had no distribution facilities. Only 500 copies of the 20,000-copy printing survived. Radical America obtained and distributed some copies, because its staff already knew of CRV's existence.[6] According to Chomsky, the rest were "pulped," not burned. Despite its suppression in the United States, it was translated into several European languages, had two printings in France by the time that The Washington Connection was printed, and CRV's suppression became a "minor cause celebre" in France."

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counter-Revolutionary_Violence...

Not to mention that Chomsky was on the verge of being put in prison for protesting Vietnam, while journalists and activists who have either gone to prison or forced to accept terrible plea deals thrown upon them for minor offences. Barrett Brown and Aaron Swartz comes to mind.

The FBI assassination of Black Panther leaders being another.


I wouldn't forget the time the Philadelphia Police dropped a bomb on the Black liberation group MOVE, killing several of the members and destroying three blocks of a dense residential part of the city:

https://mashable.com/2016/01/10/1985-move-bombing/

This happened in probably most of our lifetimes.


> The black liberation group MOVE was founded in 1972 [...] members of MOVE all [...] preached [...] revolution and a return to nature.

Preach revolution and pose as a victim of police brutality ...

> when police tried to evict them from their house. A firefight erupted, killing one police officer and injuring several more on both sides.

Oh right, they were just cop killers

> MOVE members boarded up the windows, built a fortified rooftop bunker and broadcasted profanity-laced political lectures with bullhorns at all hours, drawing complaints from neighbors. Members continued to rack up violations from contempt of court to illegal possession of firearms, to the point where they were considered a terrorist organization by the mayor and police commissioner.

> Arriving with arrest warrants for four residents of the house, the police ordered them to come out peacefully. Before long, shooting began.

How exactly was that story supposed to end ?

> The Mayor's failure to call a halt to the operation on May 12, when he knew that children were in the house, was grossly negligent and clearly risked the lives of those children.

What kind of person does this kind of things with their children in the house ?

If I were to transform a house into an armed bunker I would most definitely not take my children there.

Exposing children to such violence ... How is there on earth an excuse for that ?


> "Sarnoff(chief of book operation, Warner communications) complained that too many of Warner Modular's(small publishing company under Warner communications) works were written by left-wing writers.

Reminds one of Google, Twitter, et. al.

What's old is new.


I appreciate the correction.


This has nothing to do with free speech - the sanctioned account was able to open an issue on GitHub complaining of the way their account had been handled. The account is the victim of a trade embargo, not a gag order.


Their Github Pages page was censored. They are unable to participate in the maintenance of an open source repository. This was done, according to Github, as a requirement to comply with the laws of its state.

If that's not a free speech issue, there are no free speech issues.


It was done as a requirement to comply with the laws of the United States[1] and insisting it's a free speech issue does not make it so. The United States government has no obligation to care about the collateral silencing of non-citizen speech in a foreign country subject to economic sanctions.

The government also has a mechanism where someone inadvertently impacted by sanctions can appeal to the Treasury Department and be granted an OFAC "license" that gives them permission to operate outside of the sanction(s). If the goal is to silence those who are subject to the sanctions that would be an odd way to do it.

[1] https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/31/part-589


I agree people lean too heavily on Free Speech when criticizing the government, but there's actually a long running debate going back decades regarding the extent to which OFAC specifically and the U.S. government's sanctions regime generally can restrict various communication and publication platforms and activities. Just a few months ago I think there was a story on HN about the IEEE tweaking their participation rules, and IIRC their lawyers were pushing back on the OFAC.

Here's a 2012 law review article (which I haven't read, yet), "Information Wants to be Free (of Sanctions): Why the President Cannot Prohibit Foreign Access to Social Media Under U.S. Export Regulations", https://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3...

Arguably, Microsoft and Github are simply choosing to participate more strictly than what is legally required--including what's constitutionally permissible for OFAC to enforce. And of course that's the problem with these large, centralized, free services. They can kick people off whenever they want whether it was legally required by law or not, and they will because they're going to be very risk averse in situations where they're not directly deriving revenue. There are many other areas where corporations, in the pursuit of profits, play fast & loose with the law in the face of far greater potential fines and liability.


> The United States government has no obligation to care about the collateral silencing of non-citizen speech in a foreign country subject to economic sanctions.

Although it may not have a legal obligation under the current menu of precedents, I disagree that it has no obligation tout court.

The real facts on the ground here are that a person's website was censored at the behest of the US Government. This is chilled speech. That the target happens not to be a US National, and also a national of a nation under sanction by the US government does not put it outside the realm of speech.


Not every issue where speech is limited is an issue of free speech. If you're told that you can not write on my house's wall, it's about speech, but not issue of free speech because it's my house and I decide who writes on it. If a mafia boss is imprisoned for ordering a contract murder, it's not issue of free speech, because even though the order was spoken, the murder is the crime that is punished, not speech. If you are not allowed to talk in the movie theater while movie is screening, it is not an issue of free speech - it's the issue of it being not the right place to speak. If there's a trade embargo that prohibits providing services to nationals of Elbonia and an Elbonian can't publish her speech - it's not the issue of free speech because the issue here is the embargo, not the speech. Having "speech" somewhere in the picture does not automatically makes it an issue of free speech. The same speech would be easily published if produced by anybody else. There's no issue with the content of the speech.


Human rights to free association and free expression have nothing to do with citizenship.

> The United States government has no obligation to care about the collateral silencing of non-citizen speech in a foreign country subject to economic sanctions.

You have inverted the “care about”: if they simply did not care, it would be fine, as they wouldn’t be interfering with anyone’s rights. However, they are caring quite a lot, in the sense that they are willing to use violence to enforce these prohibitions.


>Their Github Pages page was censored. They are unable to participate in the maintenance of an open source repository. This was done, according to Github, as a requirement to comply with the laws of its state.

Software export is restricted to varying degrees, mostly encryption but there are other circumstances where export control exists on software (they used to be far more severe but have become considerably reduced). The BIS - https://www.bis.doc.gov - handles this and other CCL items.

Here is the relevant CFR https://www.govinfo.gov/app/details/CFR-2012-title15-vol2/CF...

To export anything that contains encryption over 64 bits you have to register with the BIS and be reviewed before you export. Even open-source software requires that you notify the BIS.

Other countries have similar export/import controls, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wassenaar_Arrangement

See also:

https://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/policy-guidance/encryption

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bureau_of_Industry_and_Securit...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Export_Administration_Regulati...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Export_of_cryptography_from_th...


Does the first amendment apply to none us citizens/residents?


At a high level, the answer is something like "yes" - people who are not US Nationals who engage in protected speech in a region subject to police power of the United States have essentially the same protections as citizens or permanent residents.

At a lower level, the answer gets close to "no" - I suspect that, in cases like this, something in the ballpark of Kleindienst v. Mandel will be controlling in the eyes of SCOTUS, so no.

But even if this particular matter is not specifically regarded as protected speech under the 1st amendment by US Courts, it is still a free speech issue in general terms. This person's basic human right of expression has been abridged by the act of a foreign state and a spineless and compliant corporation.


Yes, but this is sort of the wrong question — the fact that the USSR did not have a First Amendment did not make their official censorship ethically correct.


You confuse trade war with censorship. I'll explain the difference. Censorship is based on content: if you can say "long live Communist Party" but can't say "long live Republican Party", that's censorship. Trade war is based on origin: if you are not allowed to do trade (business) or provide services to residents of certain place, regardless of the content or purpose, that's embargo.

> If that's not a free speech issue, there are no free speech issues.

There are plenty, when exclusion is based on the content. This is not one of them. That's why filing a First Amendment lawsuit against trade embargo wouldn't do you any good.


> Censorship is based on content: if you can say "long live Communist Party" but can't say "long live Republican Party", that's censorship.

Using that definition, censoring all publications of a given group (say, black people) would not be censorship. That's a big hole in the definition.


> Using that definition, censoring all publications of a given group (say, black people) would not be censorship

It's not censorship, it's discrimination. Bad thing, but different. If it was censored because these people write about specific racial issues, it'd be censorship. If it's blanket denial regardless of the content, it's racial discrimination, not censorship. It doesn't mean it's not bad - one could argue it's even worse since it doesn't leave you any chance - you could probably talk in another way to route around censorship but you can't stop being black - but it's not that issue, it's a different one.


Imagine now that you ban all writings from communists, including their love stories. It is not racist, and according to the definition it is not censorship. This form of behaviour was used a lot in ancient regimes, and known as censorship.

The definition you use seems to be a legal one rather than the usual one.


discriminating on the basis of race is banned separately. This would probably be addressed by the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment, not free speech under the first.


> You confuse trade war with censorship.

Indeed, but it's not for lack of trying.

> exclusion is based on the content

The pretext the speech falls short of inclusion in the category of "protected speech" because a different common thread can be drawn across its particulars is simply not convincing.

Censoring speech in the basis of nationality instead of content doesn't making the underlying expression any less censored.


Free speech applies to the US. Last time I checked Crimea was in Russia.

US companies have to follow US law. I worked for a company that was fined because they still had employees working in Syria when the war started.


> Free speech applies to the US. Last time I checked Crimea was in Russia.

Are you saying that you don't think that humans in other regions qualify for this basic human right, which happens to be codified in (among many other places around the world, including the UDHR) the 1st amendment to the US Constitution?

> US companies have to follow US law.

If US law is wrong, companies, like all other people, have an obligation to break it. Whether that's the case here, I'm not sure, but I think that Microsoft can certainly have made a lot more of a stink before just yanking this guy's page.

> I worked for a company that was fined because they still had employees working in Syria when the war started.

What war? The civil war? Are there US sanctions specific to the Syrian civil war?


There has always been a certain breed of authoritarian in the US for whom freedom of speech is nothing more than an inconvenient law they might have to respect under some circumstances, but we wrote a legal guarantee of freedom of speech into the European Convention in Human Rights, the US Constitution, the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Baron Humboldt's principles of academic freedom in darkest Prussia, England's Bill of Rights, and the less explicit but still inviolate guarantees of the Republics of Rome and Athens; and of course the reason was not simply to annoy such authoritarians—however delightful that may be. Indeed, in cases such as Humboldt's, that annoyance was a cost to be borne, if not a positive menace.

Rather, it is because there is no sort of tyranny or abuse that is not aided by lies, and indeed usually dependent on them. And, although free speech permits the diffusion of lies just as it permits the diffusion of truth, the liar fears the freedom of the truth-teller far more than the truth-teller fears that of the liar; because the truth can be proved, while the lie cannot. This is why censorship in the USSR was so pervasive and costly: it had to be profound to sustain the profound tyranny of the Soviet system.

As Gorgias points out, a man who can persuade you to believe lies can enslave you and turn you against your closest allies. So freedom of speech, the freedom to demonstrate the falsity of a lie however powerful and popular the liar, is the freedom that underlies the effective enjoyment of any other possible freedom. We must be vigilant against whatever stands in the way of our freedom to be informed, whether the US, Microsoft, Putin, or merely popular opinion.

And if what stands in our way purports to be a law, that law is an immoral, illegitimate law, a law in name only, a law serving not the ends of honest citizens but if tyrants—the end of destroying justice and Law itself. Such a “law” must be utterly destroyed.


It's not in Russia. It's in Ukraine under Russian occupation. This is the reason for embargo.


Russia will give it back? They are still occupying parts of Georgia.


Eventually. Voluntarily with reparations or after Russian state collapse.


That’s like saying most of Eastern Europe wasn’t part of the Soviet Union. They were just occupied by Soviets for a time. It’s true in an abstract way but not factual.


Judging from the state of affairs in the two states in question – the Ukraine and Russia – I highly doubt Russia would be the first one to collapse.


It's Ukraine, not "the Ukraine".


I highly doubt that in all honesty. But it's good to think positive!


This seems like it’s more a free press issue than free speech. Through its trade policy, the US government has restricted GitHub, a US company, from publishing certain material (the tkashin.tk website).

Trade policy can reasonably apply to some of GitHub’s services, certainly, but I don’t see how a trade embargo that prevents a publisher from (virtually) printing some material passes Constitutional muster.


Surely you can see the difference between blocking someone from publishing Chomsky and forbidding US companies from "doing business" in those places.

Meanwhile for decades I remember many software EULAs saying things vaguely equivalent to "don't use this software in Cuba", etc. That is what I would compare this to.


Github is essentially a public library for computer code, but they happen to make money. I'm not sure I can see the difference between publishing and "doing business" in this case.


I find it intriguing how people keep making these mistakes. Something is not 'public' because it is shared by many people and used as if it is public. It is a wolf in sheep's clothes and it isn't even lying about it.

Github, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Sourceforge, HN, Slashdot... These free services are not public. You might treat them as such, but you are foolish believing they are.

If you cannot see the difference, I suggest to read the excellent Wikipedia article. [1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_service


They are a private company. They offer free services that make it feel that way but they are not.

We should be putting our collection of code in something else with a mission around those ideals.


I don't know either, and I am no expert, but it sounds like Github/Microsoft lawyers may have decided it on one side or the other.

I put it in quotation marks because it is my laymen's understanding of what the sanctions are intended to cover. I could be wrong and the actual boundaries could be subject to debate and disagreement.


> I don't know either, and I am no expert, but it sounds like Github/Microsoft lawyers may have decided it on one side or the other.

I think they've realized that the argument that they are a commercial publisher is quite strong. Thus they are not eager to challenge it and wind up heavily fined for sactions-busting. Especially since Microsoft is a significant supplier to US government entities.


Why do you say you could publish pro-soviet material in the USA during the cold war? My understanding is that this is not true.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCarthyism

> In 1952, the Supreme Court upheld a lower-court decision in Adler v. Board of Education of New York, thus approving a law that allowed state loyalty review boards to fire teachers deemed "subversive".

It had certainly cooled down from outright McCarythism by 1960 but nobody wanted to be accused of Soviet sympathies back then...


My stepgrandmother was part of the Communist Party USA and continued distributing their newspapers and trying to recruit people until she died. I don't want to softpedal the human-rights abuses that happened in the US, but in fact even the Smith Act prosecutions only imprisoned a dozen people — there was nothing like the gulags in the US (until the War on Drugs, anyway), and it was not difficult to find out the Soviets' side of the story.


You're actually comparing Soviet-era gulags to US prisons? Have you actually looked into them?


Yes. The overall numbers at present are broadly similar (2.2 million prisoners in the US at present, compared to 2.6 million at the peak of GULAG, though that was drawn from a smaller population), but US prisons have much lower death rates (especially compared to WWII-era GULAG — hopefully there will be no similar invasion of the US and so we will not have the opportunity to see if a wartime US massacres its prisoners in a similar fashion), and a smaller fraction of the prisoners are slave laborers (in GULAG it was nearly 100%).

Presumably if the US is beginning to institute Soviet-style censorship, it indicates a strong risk that prisoner numbers will go up and the treatment will get worse.


Have you? Find it very hard to believe that there's such a disproportionate number of criminals in the US.

China is locking up huge numbers of Muslims simply for having a religion and it still comes no where near the number of Americans incarcerated today without even having faced trial.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incarceration_in_the_United_St...


Which would you rather be in? A US prison with basic rights, healthcare, etc, or a Chinese labor/reeducation camp, or Soviet era Gulag? The systems are incomparable, whether or not the numbers are the comparable, which is what I was talking about. Yes, I've read the Gulag Archipeligo and watched several Solzhenitsyn interviews, and had relatives suffer through that era. Not close to the same thing. At all.


This is just silly. I prefer to be in none, like a free human being treated with some basic rights.

You won't find that in the US or China. As much as it hurts some people's sensibilities think that's a fair thing to say. I'd be terrified to be a black person in many places in the United States. Hilariously think China is actually more free for the average human. Spent fair amount of time in both and as an outsider is my honest opinion. Where is best to be a political dissident is obviously a very different story.

If certain people want to repeat ad nauseum their respective propaganda media talking points fine. But the world is watching. History will judge you no matter how salty you get on the internet.

Survivorship bias is a very real phenomenon, does anyone disagree that the United States has both the most people incarcerated along with per-capita rates of prisoners?

The numbers are right there, are Americans just bad people in general and deserve to be locked up en masse? Don't think that's the case, would love to see anyone defend the status quo as it exists.


>Hilariously think China is actually more free for the average human

Until you're critical of the party leadership, or have forbidden religious beliefs, and then you get whisked away to a concentration camp (if you're lucky!) or get surgically parted out for organ transplants, often without anaesthetic.

The US has plenty of problems, but to say China is more free is a very distasteful and not particularly funny joke.


Is that not right there in my comment?

Y'all need to take a serious fucking step back and evaluate the words said here. I love America and everyone in it. People stateside are incredibly nice people on the whole and sometimes you need a rude foreigner to say some blunt stuff for the sake of honesty.

Get a grip on these criticisms mate. I stand by everything said above. It's fucking true and challenge you to prove otherwise.

I wouldn't care nor be commenting if I didn't like you guys, leave the nationalism at the door please.

China is far more free. 100% stand by that statement. Have you tried living there lately?

Its astounding how many people are willfully ignoring what's happening in the biggest country on Earth for the sake of some sort of nationalist pride matter. Do so at your peril. Honestly. The media is straight up lying to you about what's happening there and yet people lap it up.


> China is far more free. 100% stand by that statement. Have you tried living there lately?

I haven't but I heard from people that did that you can't even connect to the Internet there without government interference. That's some definition of freedom that you don't find in every dictionary.


The Americans sucking the straw of Fox news propaganda and genuinely believing that the USA is the freest bestest country in the world aren't on this forum man. We get it.

I gotta push back on this "China is more free" thing. China is definitely a very free place when you roll in as a white foreigner flush with a high value currency. I've been there, I remember thinking it's crazy what you can get away with there.

But this is like arguing you're more free there because you don't have to wear a seatbelt. Sure. Not having the government force you to wear a seatbelt means you are more free, by some definitions of free.

But it also means that when I'm driving around I'm not free to relax as much as I am on an American freeway because I have to watch out for shit falling off uninspected, falling to pieces construction vehicles. It means crossing the road is a game of frogger. It means I have to worry about whether my food will put me out for a week.

And if I'm native Chinese, I don't get nearly the freedoms in China that white dudes teaching English do. Putting aside the cultural restrictions (your family not letting you study art and shit like that) you actually DO have to worry about what you put on social media, because unlike a visiting white tourist, the PRC will have no problems with whisking you off to a reeducation camp.


I spent a bit of time living in one of the post-Soviet central asian states, and after a while there this was a conclusion I came to, too.

Living in a dictatorship, but feeling more personal freedom than I ever had in the US.

On a day-to-day basis, there's significantly more curtailment of personal freedom in the US than there was in one of the stans.

The one thing I wouldn't feel safe doing there? Openly speaking against the government. Here, however, if I were part of a movement that was gaining any strength or public good will against the political and capitalist powers that run the US, I'd still be afraid for my life.

Like how nearly every leader of the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson, MO, has been killed over the last few years. That's not a coincidence, not a random series of killings.


Wikipedia says that BLM founders are:

Alicia Garza - alive and well

Patrisse Cullors - alive and well

Opal Tometi - alive and well

Under "key people" - Shaun King, DeRay Mckesson, Johnetta Elzie, Tef Poe, Erica Garner. Of those, only Erica Garner is not alive - she died in 2017 of two heart attacks and the following brain damage.

BLM is a decentralized movement, so there are a lot of people that could be called "leaders", but clearly claim that "nearly every leader" has been killed is false. I suspect none were actually killed for any activities related to BLM (I did not check that but consider it plausible), though in large enough group of people there would always be people that die prematurely, either due to illness, or accidents, or crime (many BLM activists live in places where crime situation is not very good).

I think you'd better to put down the conspiracy Kool-Aid for a while.


> Where is best to be a political dissident is obviously a very different story


Did you know that Solzhenitsyn was successfully treated from cancer by evil communist doctors while being in Gulag that did not have any healthcare? Did you also know that while being in Gulag Solzhenitsyn was a "stukach" who reported of his fellow prisoners to the camp's authorities (he writes about it himself in one of his novels)?


Have you? [1]

"The emergent consensus among scholars who utilize official archival data is that of the 18 million who were sent to the Gulag from 1930 to 1953, roughly 1.5 to 1.7 million perished there or as a result of their detention."

yeah... prisons in the US are definitely worse.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulag


You seem to be saying that some 91% of GULAG prisoners survived their imprisonment, with some 67000 deaths per year on average; while GULAG population varied greatly during this time, if we assume an average of 1 million prisoners, we will not be far wrong. (The peak was officially 2.7 million, near the end of that period, slightly more than the current US incarcerated population.) This works out to a death rate of some 6700 deaths per 100'000 people per year, very roughly; this is clearly worse than the US prison system's mortality rate of 264 deaths per 100'000 people per year, by a factor of 20 or 30. (This figure does not include people who died as a result of their detention, but it seems safe to say that the number would be lower even if they were included.)

But many, perhaps most, of those deaths were during the German invasion, which killed about 25 million of the 169 million subjects of the USSR (most of them not in GULAG). It remains to be seen how well the US cares for the populations of its prisons and concentration camps if it suffers an invasion that kills an eighth of its population. Hopefully such an event will remain safely in the realm of speculation.


Three words: war. on. drugs.


The government has more leeway when acting as an employer.


McCarthyism affect wide ranges of industry, including the entertainment industry.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_blacklist


You can be fired from many places for wrong kind of speech right now. That's not an issue of the USA, it's the issue of the employer. The government, as far as I know, did not mandate the firing, it only said that if somebody wanted to fire a teacher who is a fan of Joseph Stalin they don't have to let that person to indoctrinate their children but may let him go so he'd seek some other employment. And there was plenty of things supportive of USSR published in the US during the cold war.


I'm fairly certain you could publish the kind of speech you are referencing in the US or any other nation with similar sanctions right now with no problems.

Not so much free speech in Russia.


Yes, the situation of freedom of speech in Russia is very bad right now, though not nearly as bad as under Stalin. I'm not sure what the modern equivalent would be of the Communist Party USA's 1948 platform; maybe propaganda in support of Daesh or something?


Imagine Stalin with modern internet surveillance capabilities


You may not have to imagine for much longer.


[flagged]


Google doesn't have free speech, but the USA does. It is legal for a corporation not to have free speech, even if some may consider it morally questionable.


It seems like the US has become what the USSR was

Not it doesn't, unless you want it to seem that way.

but then, for the first couple of decades, neither did the USSR.

The USSR very much had these within the first years, not decades. One of the most famous germinal camps:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solovki_prison_camp

Learn from history.

We should, but it's useful to get the history right first.


Solovki in 1929 — or even 1939, after Stalin's first big purges — was a few thousand people. That does not amount to a "massive prison camp system full of political dissidents." You can easily find that many in the US today who are in jail for "resisting arrest" and "disorderly conduct" and such crimes against police-officer pride, and of course there are well-known controversial US concentration camps for political refugees attempting to exercise their right to seek asylum from persecution. (Not to mention the small number of people who remain imprisoned without due process in Guantánamo Bay.)

The "massive prison camp system full of political dissidents" I refer to was the GULAG system, which at times contained millions of people, slightly more even than the whole US prison system of today, of which a substantial fraction were suspected of nothing more than political disloyalty. But that didn't happen in ten or twenty years after the Russian Revolution. It took about a quarter century.


As I said, Solovki was a 'germinal'- not only - camp. Your description is at odds with fairly mainstream views, just scroll through

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulag

And more importantly, it was a system that was both theoretically and practically founded on political violence. It didn't take it a couple of decades to get there and its the expressions of violence weren't limited to prison camps. Politically motivated forced collectivization, for instance, ran concurrently and ended up being exterminatory.


I agree with everything you said here, PB, except for the first line. But even the end of the NEP and the ensuing Ukrainian famine took a decade after the Revolution to arrive.


"Political refugee attempting to exercise their right to seek asylum from persecution" can do so LEGALLY at any official border crossing. Crossing the border ILLEGALLY makes you a criminal, by definition.


Your first statement is true in theory but is false in fact; that is to say, it is a lie the government tells. Your second statement is not true even in theory.


https://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=granuleid%3AUSC-prel...

Illegal entry is a misdemeanor, thus criminal. QED.


You're right, and I appreciate the correction. "Improper entry" is, as you say, a misdemeanor under US law, similar to public intoxication, trespassing, or reckless driving. I was thinking of overstaying visas, which is not any kind of crime under US law.

Still, it seems like a rather desperate rhetorical move to describe even a reckless driver as "a criminal, by definition", much less a person fleeing political persecution and seeking refuge in another country — a right guaranteed to them by international law, even if the US is abrogating its obligations under that law. Technically, it's true that under US law they are guilty of a misdemeanor, just like a wino getting drunk in the park, but clearly neither of these is a central example of the class of people to which we normally refer when we say "a criminal"; it seems more like an argument for disregarding US law.


I think you could consider the incarcerated victims of the drug war as political dissidents. The laws exist to make sure black people couldn't vote against Nixon, which I'd say is a political imprisonment


> It seems like the US has become what the USSR was

As somebody who actually lived in the USSR I call bullshit on this. There's a huge difference between arresting people for saying something the powers don't like and restricting business links to certain aggressive dictatorial regimes. True, many citizens of those regimes suffer twice - once because they live under a dictatorial regime and second time because of the effect of economic sanctions. And it is true that economic sanctions disrupt free flow of information and trade. They are a kind of warfare but one where people don't get killed - which is not good, all warfare is bad, but better than the other kind.

It is bad when there is a war between two countries. It is worse when the government wages war on its people, and that what happened in the USSR. It is nothing like what is happening in the US. Nowhere in the US you can be arrested or imprisoned for saying anything - including praising USSR, Russia, Putin, ayatollas, Hezbollah, whatever you like.

> The US doesn't yet have massive prison camp systems full of political dissidents

"Yet" is extremely disingenuous here - there's absolutely no indication US is anywhere close to have it, on the contrary, US has the strongest free speech laws among all developed countries, and the high courts consistently reject any attempt to change that. In fact, what I am hearing every day is how there's too much free speech and how it should be suppressed and restricted for my own good, lest I read something wrong and get offended.

> but then, for the first couple of decades, neither did the USSR.

Technically might be true, if you say reduce first couple of decades to first decade - Gulag started in 1929. But not because the bolsheviks were kind of heart - before, they just murdered whoever they considered the enemy of the people (or, in rare cases, kicked them out of the country). After Stalin came to power, he realized there's a lot of work to be done and he can't use the capitalist way of paying people for the work, and if he just keeps killing everybody there would be nobody left to do his grand projects. So he used the other way - put people in prison and force to work (of course, he still killed plenty but some were spared for prison camps). Even Soviet space program and nuclear program was done by people who were effectively prisoners (word to look for is "sharashka").


... there's absolutely no indication US is anywhere close to have it ... what I am hearing every day is how there's too much free speech and how it should be suppressed ...

You said this in 2 consecutive sentences. Please reconsider your position.

-- another USSRian


I read it as being the people living here calling for suppression of free speech, not the government proper, and I agree with that take.


> You said this in 2 consecutive sentences. Please reconsider your position.

There's nothing to reconsider. There are people that hate how free the speech is in the US, but their efforts are largely limited to the environments where they have full cultural and administrative control over - such as certain university campuses, or online platforms they own - and once you go outside these censorship areas, your speech is free, and the government - absent occasional local stupidity outbursts routinely corrected by courts - is not able to suppress speech in any meaningful way, and the courts are determined to keep it this way.

TLDR: some people want speech not to be free in the US, but so far they fail.


> arresting people for saying something the powers don't like

You just described what's happening in the UK or Canada. Yet, I give it, neither have "free speech", but moral point remain that what happened in the USSR is happening today in the western world.


I never claimed UK has free speech. It is obvious they do not for a while. I was talking about the US though. Canada is kind of borderline - their "human rights courts" are a travesty but afaik still not as bad as in the UK (though I've not been keeping tabs on that for a while so I may be wrong about Canada).


We have hate crime laws in the UK under which you can get arrested for making statements which are grossly offensive towards someone's ethnicity, creed etc... . That's vastly different from arresting people for criticising the government.


Those laws don't define what grossly offensive is. And that's the problem - it's subject to interpretation. Anything than can be abused will be abused one day.


No it's actually not different. It's trivial to prove with a bit of motivated reasoning, here watch this: (for people not watching it closely, the following is not my opinion but a demonstration how one could prove censorship of political opinions is necessary if one is allowed to censor "offensive speech").

UK is a democratic country. In a democratic country, the government is elected by people, and can exist only while people support it. Not literally everybody, of course, but a significant part of people must support any government system for it to be able to function as a democratic society. By attacking the government, you offend these people and their deepest held beliefs, and imply that they are either not smart enough to figure out how the government should be, or are too lazy to go and vote for a proper government. Moreover, if you argue that a particular elected official is stupid, or corrupt, or bigoted, or criminal - you also imply people who voted for that person either are OK with these things or are too stupid to recognize them (at least if these things were known before the election). Both can be deeply offensive to people. Of course, some people would be OK with being called bigots or idiots, but many would take it as a gross offense. Similarly, calling their chosen representative such words would be possibly a less personal, but no less hurtful offense - after all, if somebody insults your friend, you'd be also hurt as if they'd have insulted you, wouldn't you? Maybe a bit less, but same goes for your representative.

Thus, it is clear that political speech can be grossly offensive. Moreover, I would go further and claim that it is more offensive than, for example, a racial insult. You do not choose your race, so if somebody insults you on the base of your race, it has very little to do with you personally - it's not directed at you as a person, but at a vague concept of race which largely exists in the mind of the speaker and nowhere else. You could shrug it off as empty words having nothing to do with you specifically. Insulting your political creed goes much deeper to the core of your identity and hurts on much more personal level - it is offending part of your identity that you yourself chose and built!

Thus, one can consider proven that criticizing the government is as much and maybe more hurtful than regular slurs and insults, and must be prosecuted at least as harshly.

(for people not watching it closely, the above is not my opinion but a demonstration how one could prove censorship of political opinions is necessary if one is allowed to censor "offensive speech").

The solution of this problem is that government should not ban any speech (with obvious and well-known exceptions, blah blah) and not be allowed to determine what is "offensive" and prosecute people for that.


This is something that has been discussed in the UK [0-2], with particular reference to the ambiguity around the definition of "grossly offensive" and the balance between freedom of expression and an individual's reasonable expectation of living without harassment or abuse. Weight is also given to the context, circumstances and intentions on a case-by-case basis.

As with all law, a certain amount of interpretation is unavoidable. Your example doesn't prove anything because it relies on a particular meaning of "grossly offensive" which you have contrived to make it work. It is not generally a gross offense to merely object to or question someone's beliefs. "Gross" in this sense means that the communication must be a flagrant and obvious violation of acceptable language in a tolerant society.

[0] http://merlin.obs.coe.int/iris/2006/8/article101.en.html

[1] https://research.edgehill.ac.uk/files/20207198/Bliss%20-%20C...

[2] https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/social-media-guideline...


> The US doesn't yet have massive prison camp systems full of political dissidents

No, but they have several full of people who were trying to escape from countries which were falling to pieces...


It's long been thought that CPUSA was so infiltrated by the FBI that it was virtually a front group.


> It seems like the US has become what the USSR was: companies who publish speech from people in Iran or Crimea are now violating the law by doing so.

I think the intent is not that, and a company could probably argue that the law doesn't mean that because it probably can't mean that.

In this case though, AFAICT it's a restriction on use of private repositories, a feature considered to have commercial value, and thus subject to sanctions.

(P.S. I think your characterization of history is kinda wack [though I understand you can't write an essay before getting to the point], in ways that other commenters will point out in more detail)


> The US doesn't yet have massive prison camp systems full of political dissidents — but then, for the first couple of decades, neither did the USSR.

You may want to reread that last part of history.

[...] established in 1918 and legalized by a decree "On the creation of the forced-labor camps" on April 15, 1919. The internment system grew rapidly, reaching a population of 100,000 in the 1920s.[1]

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulag


This is a bit off topic, so choose not to answer if you want, but can you link me evidence of Chomsky being a USSR sympathizer? From what I've read, he's a Libertarian Socialist primarily, which seems to be the opposite of the totalitarian regime that the Russians ran under the Soviet Union.


I may have overstated the case; certainly on many international conflicts between the two countries, he supported the same side the USSR did, which was often a totalitarian regime, but that isn't the same thing as supporting the USSR's own totalitarian regime.


I would say he was much less "in favor of the USSR" and much more "skeptical to harshly critical of US military and business interests".


Decentralized systems have their own set of problems. You are trading one set for the other.


> It seems like the US has become what the USSR was

Yep... thats my cue to get off hackernews


Logical on computer science, but when it comes to political science they defend ideologies. I have 15 years of ideological propaganda behind me so I can't blame them, but I feel guilty about my hacktivist past now that I got at least solid bases about political science.


>> It seems like the US has become what the USSR was

> Yep... thats my cue to get off hackernews

Surely Fox News will be happy to have you back.


> It seems like the US has become what the USSR was: companies who publish speech from people in Iran or Crimea are now violating the law by doing so.

US courts, at least the Supreme Court, have admitted they do not have the expertise to rule on changes of technology. When the courts realize that GitHub is primary the modern equivalent of a printing press for software code and websites. They will view such sanctions - at least for public code, issues, & websites - quite harshly.

Right now, I imagine they view it as a store for the digital equivalent of tools or an advanced technological service that the US has denied it's enemies in the past. Once they realize the communicative aspects: opening issues (coordination), contributing copyrightable expressions in code, even coordinating employment dissent (996), such views will change.


They would have blocked _all_ Russia if they hadn't learn from history.


Such speech was not barred from publication, but was effectively silenced by commercial mass media - print, radio and television.

Also, let's not forget that Communist Party sympathizers were purged from various domains of social activity - obviously, and that was indirect legal sanction of promoting pro-socialist/pro-USSR content.


If I’m not mistaken I believe that black intellectuals in the 1900s also participated in US communist movements.


You are drawing a very long bow.

People can, and still do with much regularity, publish criticism of the USA, the US government and the US president.

The NY Times has even published op-eds by Putin himself.

This is about providing commercial services. It has nothing to do with free speech.


> It seems like the US has become what the USSR was

The USSR was the thing that executed my great grand parents for being liberals (he was a doctor) when they invaded Budapest.


The US and USSR both invaded many countries and executed many hundreds of thousands of people during the Cold War, although in general the USSR had a somewhat poorer human rights record, even in countries they invaded.

But I wasn't talking about what the US was during the Cold War. I was talking about new US policies. The invasion of Hungary was in 1956, 39 years after the Russian Revolution. What do you think the US will be doing 39 years after, to take a convenient date, November 2016? That would be 2055. Do you really doubt that they will hesitate to commit genocide after two generations of propaganda, censorship, and repression designed to Make America Great Again?

If someone expressed a concern in 1917 or 1920 that the Communists had become what the czarist autocracy was, would you think it reasonable to respond with a catalogue of czarist crimes that the Communists had not yet had time to match?


Yes. It's terrible that Donald Trump would do that to the people in Crimea.


I'm less worried about a capitalist democracy like the USA than the EU in this regard. The EU is an undemocratic construct where moralist positions far outweigh the EU's own interests, so it's much more like the USSR than the USA could ever be.


All EU officials are elected directly or elected/assigned by the people that were elected.

This will help you to get the facts straight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4Uu5eyN6VU


Are you serious? EU citizen here. US has a two party state (where one is deadpan centrist and the other right wing). EU has a whole host of political parties from far right to far left. It's the most diverse political landscape. That could potentially mean it's much more democratic than the US. I wish more US citizens cared more about the outside world than they did about their selves.


> It's the most diverse political landscape. That could potentially mean it's much more democratic than the US.

Democracy doesn't require a lot of parties, it requires that the people actually have the power to elect someone in charge. The EP is powerless and none of the EC members are elected or can be removed by a public vote.


> Democracy doesn't require a lot of parties, it requires that the people actually have the power to elect someone in charge.

No, this problem has been studied and democracy (that is, rule by the people) empirically requires an electoral system that had the capacity to support multiple competitive parties; to the extent systems artificially limit the option space they produce results that are not representative of the will of the people.


> No, this problem has been studied and democracy (that is, rule by the people) empirically requires an electoral system that had the capacity to support multiple competitive parties

First democracy: ca. 500 BC

First political parties: ca. 1800 AD

We could discuss in detail whether the EU system or the US system enforces more artificial limits, in the end the EC remains much less democratic due to its relative power and independence from the electorate.


I'm not sure how you can say with a straight face that political parties only came into existance in the 1800's.

Prototypal modern, organized political parties started to emerge in the 1700's. Do you think before then that everyone was an independent and had no common goals? Political factions predate even the first demcracy. There where a number of competing, and from many accounts solid, factions in both the greek and roman governing systems, which where for all intents and purposes a party.


>in the end the EC remains much less democratic due to its relative power and independence from the electorate.

Isn't the European Commission elected by the European Council, and formed of commissioners nominated by the democratically elected leaders of each member state?

Democracy doesn't have to equal direct election.


By "EC" I'm guessing you mean European Commission? This is appointed by the European Council and requires approval from the European Parliament. If the make-up of the Commission is a point of serious public interest then the public can democratically enforce their interest via their choice of heads of states and MEPs.

More concerning is the inability of the European Parliament to repeal legislation, but things are gradually moving to change this.


> This is appointed by the European Council and requires approval from the European Parliament.

And now let's look at the past 3 presidents: always the same routine, the EP gets presented with 1 candidate and can say yes... or yes. Awesome democracy.


Presented by the European Council, which is made up of directly elected heads of state. It's imperfect, but as someone living in the UK it's no worse than our own system.


The European Council isn't made up of directly elected heads of state, though - most of its members are indirectly elected prime ministers. This makes it the head of the European Commission at least one step further away from the people's influence than in the UK system. What makes this worse is that the European Commission has the exclusive power to propose new laws, whereas in the UK ordinary directly-elected MPs can do this.


True, nevertheless in principle it is possible for voters en bloc to express democratic power over the choice of President.


I'm not sure comparing with a monarchy is the best effort we can make to judge the merits of the EU political system. ;-)

Living in a small, entirely democratic EU country, I can't say I'm impressed with how the Commission was formed and it's also obviously an inferior system to that of the USA.


I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that that's a joke about the UK being a monarchy in anything but name! Its democratic issues are much more to do with the House of Lords, FPTP voting system and lack of press balance.

The power to directly elect or remove the top spot is certainly an important facet of democracy, maybe even the most important, but it's still just one of many measures. to be honest I don't think it's really that meaningful to talk about one system being "more democratic" than another, or that "entirely democratic" can apply coherently to anything except some kind of anarchist utopia.

That said, there is such a thing as the global [democracy index](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_Index) in which the US comes well below the UK and plenty of other EU countries. Note that Norway, also a constitutional and hereditary monarchy, tops the list.


> That said, there is such a thing as the global [democracy index](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_Index) in which the US comes well below the UK and plenty of other EU countries

This is rather meaningless as an indicator of the quality of the political system. The USA was downgraded there in 2016 for various reasons (probably mostly "Trump anxiety") while the political system was left unchanged.


As the wikipedia article and the report states, the USA's score has been steadily declining for decades and teetering on the brink for years, reflecting a fall in public trust in the functioning of public institutions. I guess you could call that "Trump anxiety" if you want.


I'm from a US-friendly nation but I get terribly sad when I hear things like this.

Contribution to the free software world should transcend where someone is from whether it be China, Russia, Iran or whatever new "enemy" our leaders decide.

As much as I dislike Facebook for privacy related reasons, maybe it's time that more tech companies setup a Tor Hidden Service and not ask where people are from.

Could this be used to protect them against having to implement sanctions against various countries if they don't actually know where their users are from?

It would also make blocking those websites difficult by repressive regimes too. They could implement the ability to upload a private PGP key so email notifications can be encrypted end-to-end, Facebook also allows for this.

The impending bifurcation of the Internet is something that I hate to think of, but it seems something a lot of governments are hell bent on, particularly with their insistence on "backdoors in encryption". One country's back door will be another country's vulnerability.

Now I think I will go and and donate to Tor Project to make myself feel better.


Would that really change anything? I think what we’re seeing is the inevitable result of the internet and tech companies becoming the most important aspect of modern civilisation. We’re not a bunch of hippie geeks fooling around with open tech anymore while the political level largely ignores us. With almost everyone in the world using the internet for hours a day, regulation was simply bound to come.

Not knowing where your customers come from isn’t going to make the regulation go away, but it might make your entire company illegal.

It’s not something I think is good by the way, but the regulation and legislation is likely going to get more and more restrictive as our governments catch up.


> Would that really change anything? I think what we’re seeing is the inevitable result of the internet and tech companies becoming the most important aspect of modern civilisation.

I think what we are seeing is the implementation of authoritarian governments, something that has been on the increase nearly everywhere, in the last 20 years.

People have in the developed world had it, too good for too long. Complacency and populism is what led to this.

We voted in "strong leaders" and this is what we're gonna get, strong policies that might not really be all that smart.

What these policies forget is a lot of general citizens don't have much choice over the regime that leads them. They are just often people doing their thing.

Free software is actually something which brings us together, as it's about what we do and have in common, rather than race, religion or politics. I think that's why it feels so awful.


I’m Danish and in our very recent election we voted the authoritarians and populists out, by a large margin. Margrete Vestager is from a very liberal (as in free) Danish party, and she’s pushing some of the toughest regulations on big tech companies that we’ve seen in years.

So I’m not convinced it’s really authoritarian. We have a big scandal right now in Denmark, because a company secretly sold jet-fuel to Russians and that’s been illegal since sometime during the Cold War. Because other industries have been regulated on what they could trade with our “enemies” for decades. The tech sector somehow snuck under the radar on this, but that sneaking has certainly ended, and it’s now being regulated like any other industry.

I mean I could certainly be wrong, but I really do see it as governments being governments. When I was a child there weren’t seatbelts or airbags in cars. Automakers didn’t suddenly start putting them there because it was the right thing to do, or because it’s sell more cars. They did it because regulation forced them to do it and then they later turned safety into a marketing point.


> Margrete Vestager is from a very liberal (as in free) party, and she’s pushing some of the toughest regulations on big tech companies that we’ve seen in years.

Then it's the illusion of freedom. Free when they declare freedom, but not when they don't.

Code doesn't have color, race or politics. It is something that brings us together and we have common ground over. We argue over whether it is good code or bad code.

The fact is embargoes do nothing to benefit anyone here. All it results in is less code being available.

Also it is the very thought control, ie a Government telling me how I will make my code available that annoys me.

I didn't vote my government in, and I don't particularly like it when that Government tells me I cannot communicate, or express my intellectual creations with the people that I want, just because I was born within it's borders.


Code is political, to the degree it matters. See: Bitcoin, Stuxnet, Intel ME, Facebook, Google, missile guidance systems, the Enigma machine, etc.


I don't think things like censorship are restricted to authoritarian, populist, or right-wing parties. It's just the reasons differ. Right-wing parties will censor the internet to "stop terrorism" and "protect families and children", left-wing parties will censor the internet to "fight hate speech", but the end result is the same.


Only problem with your theory is that the number of fully-embargoed countries by the US has decreased over the last 20 years, and all of the still-embargoed countries except for Crimea have been on the list for longer than 20 years.


We started the sanctions on Venezuela in 2014. Why bother posting such obvious nonsense?


Venezuela is not fully-embargoed. The fully-embargoed countries are Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria.


This is quibbling over terminology. Venezuela is in a deep depression caused by USA sanctions. Moving them from one list to another would make no difference to the daily experience of the average Venezuelan.

This lawyering also completely undercuts your original "nothing to see here; move along people!" argument.


US sanctions worsen the already bad economic situation but to claim the problem is caused by US sanctions is extremely misleading. We were already seeing severe shortages way before the 2014 sanctions (which were placed on individuals, anyway). The reasons are too complex to put in a short snippet.

Crimea and Venezuela are hard to compare. While there's the common point of having an authoritarian government, they're different in many other factors such as public support of the government, geography, pre-existing economy and timing and severity of the sanctions.

Though this is very true for both, I think:

> What these policies forget is a lot of general citizens don't have much choice over the regime that leads them. They are just often people doing their thing.

and from the POV of the authoritarian government on the sanctioned country it makes sense to double down upon receiving sanctions because the sanctioning country(ies) don't have a bigger stick than that (unless they resort to military aggression).


GitHub is not blocking Venezuela. The list a country is on is more than just a matter of terminology.


It is just a matter of time. We've been ratcheting up the sanctions regularly, which, again, contradicts your "no problems here!" argument.


> Could this be used to protect them against having to implement sanctions against various countries if they don't actually know where their users are from?

No. That you don't know where an export-restricted good is going when you sell it or give it to someone is not an excuse. If you gave them the stuff and they take it somewhere embargoed, it's still on you for supplying the goods.

I will bet good money that a court will not be impressed by your deliberate choices to avoid being capable of meeting your obligations under the law. That's the sort of clever hack that makes judges quite angry, rather than the sort that makes them go "You got us!".


The issue would be what happens if russia declares some manner of war on us. Your contributors and maintainers are now citizens of a hostile country who might actually believe in their aims.

I think people have a naive cosmopolitanism that assumes knowledge work transcends state loyalty, but there are reasons that it may not do so nor is it safe to rely on the current model of peace to persist.


USA is major enemy for Russian Federation for decades. Many fighters in Donetsk region came from RF and believed that they are on war with USA. Many examples of their direct speech is available on YouTube.

I personally know some contributors to FOSS, which are helping Russian FSB in their war against USA, by consulting them or by implementing tech to help find dissidents and American spies. For example, Michael Shigorin: https://www.opennet.ru/~Michael%20Shigorin


A (very bad) US bank of mine froze my account in a way which was exceptionally difficult to fix because I tried to use the mobile app to check my balance while physically in Ukraine (not anywhere near Crimea; they chose to fucking sanction the entire country because Ukraine got invaded, which was the opposite of the intent of the law).


Venmo stoped one of my transactions for reimbursing my wife for expenses incurred in Crimea (because my US credit card would not work there but her Russian card did). She made the mistake of listing "Crimea" in the subject line. Despite my arguments to Venmo, they would not allow the transaction to go through (despite the transaction being 100% legal).

It was pretty frustrating because US citizens are allowed to visit Ukraine and the Venmo request was made from outside of that territory. From the US perspective, Crimea is "Ukraine" and US citizens are allowed to visit Ukraine visa-free. These types of sanctions, in my opinion, go too far, as they affect regular people.

On another note and politics, despite all their issues, Russia really has improved the infrastructure issue in Crimea significantly. New roads and bridges everywhere, new power plants, hospitals, etc. Ukraine completely neglected the region after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Additionally, Crimea is pretty spectacular and has huge potential for foreign tourism. Beautiful coastline, granite mountains that shoot up from the water, interesting geography. And the prices are quite cheap from a western perspective.


They would be doing that to prevent money laundering, trying to stop people going to sanctioned places and transferring money around for the locals at hefty profit. (in other words, not the opposite of the intent of the law)


>They would be doing that to prevent money laundering, trying to stop people going to sanctioned places and transferring money around for the locals at a hefty profit. (in other words, not the opposite of the intent of the law)

Did they forget we have modern inventions, like VPN and airplanes? Localising it to Ukraine (in this context) sounds like they're generally just after the low-hanging fruit (read: the poor who can't afford such things).


It's the result of a risk calculation with limited information. Hanging out near war zones and sanctioned countries significantly increases the chance that you're committing financial crimes, so when they have some information that you're doing that kind of thing you're much more likely to trip an alarm.

VPNs don't help you with bank apps that report your GPS position.

Sanctions aren't particularly excellent at stopping bad actors.


>Hanging out near war zones and sanctioned countries significantly increases the chance that you're committing financial crimes...

Citizens of Ukraine are just "hanging out" in Ukraine? We're still talking about Ukraine being sanctioned because of Crimea, aren't we? Or have you unintentionally broadened the scope of the discussion?

Wouldn't it be more truthful to say that citizens of a country sanctioned and/or that have become war zones are at an increased chanced to do things (however uncolourful) to survive as a direct result of that very same reality?


I guess we're talking about different things.


Can you name the bank?


e*trade. I actually pinged a friend at State to re-educate them, but I don't know if it went anywhere.


This story reminds me of my own growing up in Serbia in 90s under UN sanctions. One of the side-effects of it was that we couldn't access Internet directly for a while, we were almost completely cut off (Belgrade University was half-illegally exchanging emails once a day over a private link to Greece thanks to some professors at University of Athens, but otherwise all connections to the world were cut off). And at that moment, first half of 90s, users of Internet were mostly young educated people grouped in and around academia, and they were 99.9% against Milosevic's government. So by bureaucracy applying blindly the rules, not thinking about side-effects of those action, they basically directly targeted and alienated those very people who were pro-west and progressive and their best bet for allies in the country - stopping them from communicating with the world and receiving free news and information, thus directly aiding Milosevic's propaganda.



I am interested, in case you remember, what do you perceive were the main reasons for the antagonism towards Milošević (where it existed)? I mean, it could be many things, like authoritarianism, censorship, "nationalism", "communism", ethnic policies, ...?


All of the above, plus the lost wars, thousands of people killed and displaced, broken dreams and promises, broken economy, huge rise of crime, mob bosses and crime-connected tycoons, one of the greatest hyper-inflations ever, nationalization and then organized pumping out of banks money and people's savings out of the country to the secret accounts on Cyprus that left millions without their life savings, the whole social and moral structure of society got turned upside-down in very short period of time... the list is quite long, Milosevic was a typical dictator who used force and propaganda to hide his own incompetence and crimes. Contrary to common picture painted of him in West, I don't think he was ever a real believer in communism, nor he was really a hard-core nationalist either, he used the both simply as a source of power when it was convenient for him, but then also made moves that were completely opposite when it was needed. He was really just an opportunist greedy of power. And unfortunately in 90s most of other political leaders in Yugoslavia were pretty much the same, and the old system was broken and unsustainable anymore...



Most software is exportable to OFAC sanctioned companies under their rules.

In fact, it's possible to apply for an exemption to transact business with sanctioned countries. GitHub would probably have a good case for such an exemption and their parent company is already exempted to sell things like Microsoft Office to there.

https://complyadvantage.com/knowledgebase/sanctions-2/ofac-s...


That's exactly the reason why we need to decentralise Github, that's way too much power for a corporation.


Yeah, let's fork the client and make it decentralized[1], and write an open source version of the server[2] so people can host their own instances!

[1] https://git-scm.com/book/en/v2/Distributed-Git-Distributed-W...

[2] https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org


I like Gitlab but that's not exactly what I have in mind, I think about something more similar to torrents. The problem with everyone having their own instance without discoverability & interoperability between them is that you lose most of the value of Github.


>I like Gitlab but that's not exactly what I have in mind, I think about something more similar to torrents

So everyone runs their own gitlab instance, and there's some sort of gitlab "tracker" that you can search through?

>without discoverability

What is this "discoverability" you speak of? If you want a library to do "foo", do you search up "foo" on github and look through the repositories? Is this better than searching up "foo" on google?

>& interoperability

The only "interoperability" I can think of is for pull requests, and I do agree that having to make an account on the instance and push to it to make a PR is a pain. This can easily be solved by allowing remote git repos to be used as PR sources, and using social sign in for account creation (so you don't need to create an account to create contribute).


Secure Scuttlebutt's git-ssb is kind of this

https://git-ssb.celehner.com/%25n92DiQh7ietE%2BR%2BX%2FI403L...


I guess git hosting is already available on IPFS.

Anyway, hosting is not allowed/feasible on 4G (maybe also won't be allowed on 5G?), which is what everyone has.

The software stack isn't the issue, and smartphones are powerful enough to host contents, the problem comes from the current mobile telcos operators who doesn't allow hosting on their networks because of NAT/bandwidth/political concerns


So, what you're saying is that everyone should just switch to GitLab?


gitea is community driven


git is already decentralized. You can use it easily without github.

This restriction is from the U.S. Government, not a "corporation."


Why do we always have a comment like this completely missing the point about Github? If git was synonymous of Github, Microsoft would not have spent 7 billion to buy it, there's a lot of features on top of git. And for me, whether it's a decision of the US government or Github does not matter much.


Maybe Microsoft missed the point of it! I don't use github. I use Amazon CodeCommit.

The fact is, github adds value because it isn't "decentralized". And any organization that runs something will have people that disagree with it and/or government regulations it will need to follow.

git, however, it nicely distributed and you can host a repo anywhere you want and be discoverable through other means.


> The fact is, github adds value because it isn't "decentralized"

Exactly. It's the most popular brand, same as Disney buying Hulu. Not to make Hulu into Disney, but to bring the customers into an arena for control. While I do not use github, npm does, for example.


You do still use Github if you have any popular dependency in your project, which you probably do. The point is that when it's decentralised, nobody would be able to take the repo down that easily or prevent someone access to public repo due to arbitrary rules.


What does “decentralize Github” mean?


For me, that means having all the features of Github available in p2p.


Pretty much like IPFS. You can already host your pages and DNS using an IPFS gateway.


This is something that needs to happen. Megacorp/government controlled source code hub is simply not acceptable for cultural and ideological reasons. There should be no centralized control of a repository distribution, if you publish it and people use it, no government or corporation should be able to censor it.


people could commit to a box in another legal regime? Which is a viable option now but requires a smidge of additional overhead.


Related: a little while ago, a Iranian developer's post[0] hit the front page. He commented 12 hours ago that GitHub has restricted his account as well.[1]

[0]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20493699

[1]: http://shahinsorkh.ir/2019/07/20/how-is-it-like-to-be-a-dev-...


Sadly, US companies are more and more unreliable, but not for technical reason, not for economical/business reasons, but for political reasons. Sadly, it looks, more and more, like "America First" will shift to "America Alone".

Hopefully, it will require other countries/organisations to build alternatives and not rely on the US. These new players will grow stronger, on their own market, building their success on US defiance. And might be someday US competitors (hello Baidu, Tencent and co.)


That makes the assumption that these alternatives would give up access to the US market in order to serve sanctioned markets like Crimea, North Korea, or Iran.


Like "open source" alternatives, you mean ? ;-)

On my toy android app, I'm trying to avoid anything Google-licensed: replacing Maps by OSM for example. Just a small step... but a new mindset.

Problem is: today the US sanctionned some well-known "bad" actors (under UN scrutiny) but will sanction EU too... just because of business or strategical interest (and without any UN consensus).


You think the US is going to sanction the EU?


I'm affraid that the current US administration has a really wide interpretation of what "US national security" is, far wider than any other administration, including not only the political or geostrategical scope but the business scope too. And technology is a core part of business.

Before this US administration, EU was considered a "friend" or "allied" of the US, meaning sharing common values, like human rights, universality, or that it's better to have win/win trade than win/loose trade. There was competition AND cooperation.

But now, it seem that the US administration sees the EU only as a competitor and as a foe. This US administration is only restricted to bully the EU because the EU is strong enough to not let it be that way and may retaliate.

So yeah, sadly, I think that US will try to sanction the EU in some or other way (and in fact already started). The more the US is centered on itself, the less it cares about the rest of the world and the more it think that it DOESN4T NEED allies and friends, and it can treat EU like a servant.

And more sadly, I think that EU will have to stand for itself, to not depend nor a Russia or China... but not on US too.


> I'm affraid that the current US administration has a really wide interpretation of what "US national security" is, far wider than any other administration, including not only the political or geostrategical scope but the business scope too.

It's not actually wider than recent Administrations, which have had similarly expansive definitions and in at least on case expressly included environmental concerns that this Administration rejects as even real, much less matters of national security.

What does differentiate the current Administration’s view of national security from prior ones is that it is utterly unmoored from reality.


Should have used a distributed VCS. Oh wait.


Thank you GitHub, thank you Microsoft and thank you U.S. for all the love you bestow upon people.


Not thanks to Russia for the occupation?


Please, let's look at the facts. Here we have a case where the population of the territory in question would in no way describe this state of affairs as an occupation. They did vote in favour of Crimea becoming part of Russia and the international objections have to do with legal concerns, not the well-being of the population (with, at most, an exception of some Crimean Tatars, but they're a small minority). So, the U.S. are effectively punishing the people of Crimea for voting the way they did. Is that a good policy? I don't think so, it will only give boost to anti-Americanism. If it's about targetting the economy of Crimea as a whole, then I don't think that will work, since Russia has been subsidizing it the whole time at a grand scale, and Russia together with some European states will find a way around it (we have seen that with the Siemens turbines, for example). Moreover, moves like this will only give fuel to the project of building a sovereign Internet that the Russian government has been pushing forward.


Yes, let's look at the facts.

Russia invaded Ukraine, broke into Crimean parliament and held illegal referendum _after_ that.

So, sanctions were not because of the referendum, but because of invasion.


Sure, and falsified all the votes? The Crimean parliament proclaimed sovereignty against their will and so was the Ukrainian navy chief forced to switch allegiance?

When it comes to the reasons behind sanctions, there's no need to correct me, because I wrote just that: that the international reactions were a response to, in the words of the sanctioning countries, international law being violated (as if that had not happened before, see the Kosovo case), and namely the principle of territorial integrity. All I'm saying is that sanctions targetting the people who expressed their will in the referendum are counter-productive. If there were people left in Crimea, who still haven't made their mind up whose umbrella Crimea would be best off under (though comparing the mayhem state Crimea was left in after the Ukrainian rule and the investments going on there since 2014 – I doubt there are many), then acts like this will surely make them anti-American, not anti-Kremlin. This was my point.

The legality of the Crimean referendum might be an interesting question for lawyers or political scientists (especially the double standards observed in the rhetoric of the US and its satellite states). Or for us, not living there. For the people who voted in the referendum and have seen their lives improve as a result of their vote – it just doesn't matter. And that's the reality some should accept, while rejecting it leads to sloppy analysis of issues like the one discussed in this very post.


Even forgetting the illegality of the referendum and that it was done under occupation -- the results of the so-called referendum were completely falsified. See e.g. here https://kireev.livejournal.com/1095568.html (in russian, from a person who professionally analyzes elections) And personally I do think that it is possible that the majority of people in Crimea did want to join Russia, however we'll never know, because nobody cared to find out.


The US punishes with sanctions the population of occupied Crimea. Where is the logic in that?


The only illogic is that is not having Russia to a similar degree while doing so. The point of the sanctions is to give an extra cost to their ambitions and limit the growth in power of the targetted entries.


Why Russia's ambitions are less legitimate than American ones?


The US is not morally or legally obligated to support or enable Russian ambitions and has the right, as a sovereign nation, to react to actions against their interest.


What exactly is their interest in Crimea on the other side of the globe?


a large part of the Russian community in Crimea supported the annexation.

I agree with the sanctions.


I hope you don't mind being considered evil


It doesn't even occupied.


Nope. That should have no bearing on people's GitHub accounts.

Also, it was an annexation with somewhat-questionable merit rather than an occupation.



It may be possible for you to route around this with Tor:

https://github.com/chr15m/gitnonymous/


This is forbidden by github. The consequences of this is having your account suspended.


sanctions like these only alienate (otherwise mostly pro-democracy) people from US/West.

Do impose sanctions on individuals who are associated with the rules of undemocratic regimes. But punishing whole populations (especially if they don’t have a democratic voice in the matter) is dumb and immoral.


What's the alternative?

Keeping the status quo and pretending like nothing significant happened when some country decides to annex another country's soil in 21th century?

In that case loosing moral ground would alienate people from US/West even more.


Well not sanction the country that got annexed for starters. If you are going to annex a whole country, which I am not advocating, then sanction Russia


This. The ruling class in the countries can still get the products and services they want. Can someone actually point to a case where broad sanctions like this has made a difference? Cuba has survived these sanctions for decades. When politians like Marco Rubio says the regime is about to break if we keep the pressure on, I just laugh.


It’s hard to prove causation, but South Africa only started making real progress towards ending apartheid after broad sanctions started getting passed.


It's the time of China, I doubt this would work anymore.


the UK is especially disgusting in this. For example, Chelsea is still owned by Abramovich (a close Putin’s ally) who has no trouble traveling, buying property and otherwise enjoying what West has to offer. Tons of “Untied Russia” party members own property in Miami and London with no issues whatsoever


I agree. Back during the cold war we used to run radio stations broadcasting into enemy territory to create sympathy and show that we are humans too. Today we seem to be doing the opposite.


Especially when they democratically voted in favour of being part of Russia. This is essentially a punishment for them for voting the way they did.


https://bitbucket.org - pretty sweet alternative, works with Git just the same.


Atlassian is an Australian company but they own companies in the US so they comply with US embargo to sanctioned countries as well. In fact this was the first company who blocked their services to Cuba.


It sounds weird.I don't know the specifics of your case so it is difficult to comment, but it seems like an overreaction to the specific location ( for a good reason ). Did you reach out to github? Did they ask any addition questions? Ask for license? Blanket restriction seems excessive.

https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/...


I'm glad that US is pressing in this. Five years since Crimea happened, it's still cut off Russia in terms of business – all the major companies won't touch it with a ten-feet pole exactly because of sanctions. It's a sad state of affairs for people who still live there, but a good precedent for the world peace, showing that this annexation will not be normalized.


I don't really get why is this downvoted. If anything, the response to that was too weak.

Again, to some soft-hearted people, this might look like a terrible story when alone dev in Crimea can't access his GitHub but I have 0 sentiments here.

Ukraine's sovereignty was guaranteed by the UK, the US, and Russia when they gave up their nukes. So somebody had to at least pretend to do something. The US (compared to the UK) showed a much stronger response.

Now Russia came and claimed a part of Ukraine as their own. If there is 0 response to that, you know how it makes all the small countries feel that have borders with Russia? Ask Estonians or Georgians.

So when the next time they gonna occupy Tallinn or Riga, we all gonna be really happy that some dimwits are really concerned that our developers can't access GitHub. Great.


> for people who still live there

You're making it sound as if people were suffering and running away from there. Well, sorry to disappoint you, but the net migration is positive and rising.

Companies like Siemens are doing business there. For now, they have to pretend that they don't even know about it, but that is going to change too as the U.S. continue to lose their hegemony in Europe.


I'm guessing the same then applies to SY, CU, IR, KP and SD which are also embargoed countries.

Possibly also BL, BY, CF, CI, CD, IQ, LB, LY,, SO, SS, UA, VE, YE and ZW which have current sanctions.


Time to fix the protocols of Cyberspace.

HTTP and other centralized protocols are the weapon of choice of the powerful players: large corporations and states.



So it affects even those who aren't Russian citizens (let's say Ukranian citizens) who live in Crimea?


According to Crimea and Russia and the basic facts on the ground, people living in Crimea are Russian citizens and have been for 5 years, Russia has poured billions into the region's infrastructure.

While it was definitely engineered by Russia doing things to violate the sovereignty of Ukraine

1) The US and all the powerful nations around the world do this kind of crap all the time and have a long history of it

2) It appears as though the people living in Crimea generally prefer being Russian to being Ukrainian, at least there doesn't seem to be any major opposition to the change.

3) Crimea was only part of Ukraine from 1992 to 2014, before that it was it's own entity under the umbrella of Russian empire or the USSR for hundreds of years

I'm not pro-Russia but I am pro-reality, and this sanctions game seems to be about highschool-level-bullshit between world leaders and nothing else. It certainly has made politicians on both sides much more popular with their bases as a result. Having "enemies" does that rallying well.

If you want to sanction Russia, do it over corruption, election meddling, or human rights abuses (although maybe put a higher priority on your own country's faults along those lines first so you have a platform to stand on)

I'm here feeling like Fangorn "I am not altogether on anybody's side, because nobody is altogether on my side"


Your point 3 is complete bullshit. Crimea was part of Russian empire since 1783. During that time Ukraine was also a part of Russian empire - mind you, not autonomic one. After empire collapse in USSR Crimea administratively belonged to Russian SFSR up to 1954, since when it was a part of Ukrainian SSR. So it’s a part of Ukraine for the last 60 years.


It would only be complete bullshit if the Ukrainian SSR wasn't a part of the USSR. Since it was, point 3 is completely true.


It was part of Ukraine, and republics of USSR formally could leave it (not that anyone would allow that though, due to the legal trickery). So that point 3 is not true.


So if something is in Ukraine while it is in USSR it is not in Ukraine? I fail to follow the logic here.


> people living in Crimea are Russian citizens and have been for 5 years

Russia pressured people, but they could refuse accepting citizenship (though those doing so get a lot of practical troubles there, up to persecution). They can't really force citizenship on unwilling people, despite trying.


are there any examples of people in Crimea having been persecuted because they refused to accept Russian citizenship and kept Ukrainian passports?

Crimea fell off the tree without single shot fired. that tells something. also, do not forget famous saying by Ukrainian nationalists - "Crimea will be Ukrainian territory or uninhabited":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXtBe-uZcPM

where the danger for people of Crimea was really coming from?


Lot's. They are discriminated (like when looking for work or social benefits), intimidated and so on. Those who actively stand up against such intimidation are simply persecuted.

Examples: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/11/14/crimea-persecution-crime...


The US doesn't have a recent history of annexing countries. The US did do this in the 19th and early to mid 20th centuries. The current Russian government does have a recent history of invading/annexing countries though (Crimea and portions of Georgia, the country not the US state).


Annexation? No. Overthrowing governments with subterfuge or force? Absolutely

The only target for annexation would be Quebec (there's a small minority party there that has talked about this for a long time) but that's extremely unlikely. Anything else would be colonization which isn't fashionable.

Russian annexation is targeting places with large ethnically Russian people who speak Russian and identify more with Moscow than their local government.

If you believe the line, there is a significant population in these places that want to be annexed.

Anyone who is saying that is probably exaggerating the support but it's hard to deny that support exists.

I believe in self determination more than border immutability. Free and fair elections would be preferable, of course. I don't know what the Crimeans want but it's plausible that they prefer their current situation.

It would be nice to hear actual Crimean voices instead of Moscow or Washington. Anything the latter two say seems only in self interest.


Russian annexations and conflict fueling have nothing to do with ethnical Russians or identification with Moscow (whatever that means). It's related to regions of former USSR which oppose Putin's imperialist craze (may be you call that "Moscow"), and want to actually have real democratic government and independence. As soon as that happens, Putin's mafia tries to create or fuel existing local conflicts, by sending mercenaries that back local separatists or by outright openly occupying some regions.

Putin doesn't care in the least about Russian people in those territories. He only cares about destabilizing countries that don't want to be his vassals. This happened in Moldavia (where Russian army is present in Pridnestrovian region), Georgia (South Ossetia and Abkhazia) and Ukraine (Donbass, Crimea). Armenia came close to it when they removed previous government controlled by Putin, but since they didn't demand that Russian army should leave (they have military bases there), so far it didn't erupt in armed conflict. See also how Armenia still backs Putin's policies in UN and the like. If they won't, Putin will come knocking.


A truly decentralized GitHub replacement would not have this problem. One such is called mango.


This actions basically demands a de-centralized blockchain-based repository storage system.


i love how people impede on freedom in the name of freedom.


I would think VPN solve this problem?


I'm sure HN will try throwing some shade here, but just about everyone has sanctioned Crimea, including Canada[1], the EU[2], and Ukraine itself. MasterCard, Visa, Discover, PayPal, etc., etc. also don't work in Crimea.

[1] https://www.international.gc.ca/world-monde/international_re...

[2] https://europa.eu/newsroom/highlights/special-coverage/eu-sa...


Why do they sanction Crimea (victim) instead of Russia?


Because Crimea is a defacto Russian state now and for the most part a large portion of the population and the current government is participating in it.

The sanctions are for the most part per the request of the Ukrainian government.

If Catalonia becomes a separatist state tomorrow and Spain and its allies sanction it everyone in it will be under sanctions regardless of who or what they support.

This is what happens when your sanctions are geographical in nature.

No one has the capability to validate if a person in Crimea is a Russian supporter or not.

The idea behind the sanctions is in the end to make the life of the populous sufficiently difficult so they will rebel.


>for the most part the population is participating in it

If anyone ever dared to assert that I support US war mongering just because I live the US..... lord


>If anyone ever dared to assert that I support US war mongering just because I live the US..... lord

It's not the same, the majority of the population are ethnic Russians, a large number of them actively support what Russia did.

There was a referendum, and countless polls, it doesn't excuse the annexation but reality isn't black and white.

You need to be intentionally misleading to not acknowledge the fact the Russian presence in Crimea and in fact their actions are supported by a sufficiently large part of the Crimean population to make this situation very problematic.

This isn't Russia occupying Belgium, the geopolitics behind this situation don't make anyone look good.

Hence why I gave the example of Catalonia not only it's a good western analogy but it appears that Crimea has more pro-Russian support than what the separatist movements in Spain or other places in Europe like Italy have.

However our current legal system does not allow individuals to simply say "i don't want to be part of your legal system any more" hence why these referendums are essentially illegal. And while we do need to face reality sometimes and make exceptions these have to be exception otherwise the "sovereign citizens" movement would actually become a reality since you can't simply put a cap on how many people want to break away from the existing legal system you enforce on them.


With taxes, you do.


Yeah, instead you can show your solidarity against it by going to federal prison for tax evasion...


Or you could choose to become a citizen of a country you support instead.

I'm not saying "get out if you're not all in", I'm not trying to be dismissive. But your citizenship and temperament are accidents of your birth, and you have the power to rectify the former.


> But your citizenship and temperament are accidents of your birth, and you have the power to rectify the former.

This is an incredibly naive/somewhat condescending statement, considering that it is far beyond the reach of the vast majority of people.


Agreed, instead of giving up my passport, moving away from my family and job, or going to prison for tax evasion...

... how about we agree that I personally did not want the government to use my tax money to bomb civilians in Eurasia and I desperately would like to find a way to prevent those weapons from being launched.

But I think we would have to replace something like 70% of our elected representatives to force that to happen


Can we agree that the militaries of the West try extraordinarily hard, especially by historical standards, to not harm civilians during wartime?

Can we also agree that zero civilian casualties during war is at least adjacent to impossible?

Can we also agree that a country unwilling to protect its people and interests with military action would be a much less secure country than the ones we have today? Indeed, that the threat of rapid, devastating response is the key reason why we are as close to world peace as we are today and have been for decades?


I'm pretty sure that's not true. But maybe I'm wrong. To know the answer, we'll have to discover the monetary cost of doing so and calculate how long it might take to save up money, and what must be forgone, to acheive it.


Wait - so it's something you've never actually researched or considered (or thought about in any depth, if you think the only barrier is financial), but you're somehow pretty sure countries hand out citizenships willy-nilly?

The only path to citizenship that's open to anybody is naturalization, and that requires you to already be a legal (often permanent) resident. While there are a few countries where you become eligible after two or three years - notably Canada - many require five, ten or even fifteen years. So before you even start the process, you have to deal with immigrating to your country of choice from your current country of citizenship/residence. And while that's not exactly the cheapest of undertakings[0], the real problem is that your application first of all generally needs to be sponsored by someone (typically strictly a relative or employer, so good luck if you don't have family in the country in question or don't work in a field that tends to hire across borders) and secondly is most often quite literally at the mercy of bored officials behind glass walls who have the power to deny you on a whim and owe you no explanation.

If by some convening of application strength and sheer luck you do get a residence permit, you then get to have your freedom of movement curtailed for however many years[1] during which simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time can set you back to square zero[2] and you still get slapped by the effect of sanctions like these, as you're still a citizen of whatever country you came from. Or you could also just make some exorbitant "investment" (often hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth) and effectively straight-up buy citizenship.

So yeah, the vast majority of people are rather powerless to do anything about their citizenship, especially when they don't have passports that let them travel anywhere on a whim (as tends to be the case for people in the sort of countries that one would want to escape citizenship of lol).

0: The cost of a passport, visa, plane ticket and rent deposit is easily $2000 plus depending on the part of the world (a friend of mine recently spent close to $4000 out of pocket relocating to Germany).

1: It's not enough to simply hold residency - there are often requirements for how much time you must have spent in the country in order to be eligible for naturalization, and leaving the country for an extended period of time will often itself jeopardise one's residency status.

2: In the US, for example, various misdemeanours - for instance drug possession - are grounds for deportation, after which you might as well forget about legally entering the country to talk of becoming a permanent resident again.


They couldn't fit all of us into prisons, if we all refused to pay taxes.


If the people are the ones that are supposed to have power, then the people should also be responsible for what the state does.


Or you're traveling internationally and you're in a bar and someone goes "Oh, you're American? Think you're a badass like Trump? Where's your gun, tough guy?"


> The sanctions are for the most part per the request of the Ukrainian government.

Sanctions were pushed by the US for the most part.

> The idea behind the sanctions is in the end to make the life of the populous sufficiently difficult so they will rebel.

The idea is to flex power for the enemy government and other countries, nobody cares about the people. People are definitely not going to be happy about the west after that and even less likely to participate in organized rebellion against the government, as all sides are bad now.


I don't like what's going in Crimea either, and I support most sanctions against it, but I also don't understand why they should be excluded from open source software participation. On an idealogical basis I reject the idea of OSS being politicised. Otherwise, where do we stop?


Reality dictates that politics are inherent in human society. You are not above it, and neither is your hobby. Ignoring society is a privilege that never lasts.


Yeah I understand the reality of the situation, I probably shouldn't have said "I don't understand" in my comment. I just think it's a shame. I don't contribute to OSS, but I also think it's more than a "hobby". I'd rather see it as an international movement. I hope that one day the UN or something similar provides an equivalent service to Github without commercial interests. Even the UN is heavily politicised, but I don't like that the US alone gets to dictate what happens to some of the most important repositories of shared human technological knowledge when those repositories have been heavily contributed to by citizens of countries other than the US.


Very few people have listened when the minority raised alarms about so much "open source" development concentrated into one privately-owned closed-source service. You, and many others, have said you don't like the US government controlling this information, but people rarely seem to be interested in doing anything about it.

Nothing is stopping this person from sending email patches like they do in the Linux kernel project. No sanctions are involved in this person hosting a Git installation in Crimea that the rest of the world can access.

The problem isn't politics. The problem is that programmer culture currently conflates "access to Github" (which is a service run at the whims of an American defense contractor) with "free or open-source software" (which is a spectrum of opinions about copyright law). They are not related concepts, no matter what Github's marketing team has convinced the world.


"Open source" started in part as a political shift from the older free software movement. One justification was that companies were avoiding free software because they considered its ideological basis as incompatible with profit. Instead, "open source" focused on the development benefits, eg, others may find bugs and contribute code.

I therefore agree with the view that 'free software' is a social movement, while 'open source' is a development methodology.

OSS is full of commercial interests well beyond hobby interests. Joel Spolsky pointed that out in https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2002/06/12/strategy-letter-v/ :

> I noticed something interesting about open source software, which is this: most of the companies spending big money to develop open source software are doing it because it’s a good business strategy for them, not because they suddenly stopped believing in capitalism and fell in love with freedom-as-in-speech.

The free software movement is itself political - as are all social movements. For example, the emphasis on end-user freedoms related to copyright protection conflict with the emphasis on worker rights embodied in the Anti 996 License.


Whether it is open source or not, GitHub is an American corporation (owned by Microsoft) and what it does is commercial activity.

This isn't a free speech issue. It's not even a corporate free speech issue. This is commercial activity.

Whether this is good policy or not, is another matter but it isn't a free speech matter.


The Olympics and other athletic organizations support commercial activity, with many athletes coming to compete from sanctioned countries, where corporations benefit from the activity.

Seeing free/open source software in the same light ideologically is not that much of a leap. There is precedent.


How did the free software movement allow a private commercial business to obtain so much power over it?


Private commercial businesses do this, they fool you with their marketing and make you think that their product is also free and open source. Github's branding and marketing are to thank. And the blame also goes to us and other developers for not seeing this.


Yes, the similar stories happen again and again. As a good reflection, there was that comics with the "world tiniest open source violin" https://xkcd.com/743/


Freely. Or cheaply. Or maybe just conveniently. Linus is worth an estimated $150M and he has a lot of power over it. It’s a conundrum.


You can thank O'Reilly and friends who undermined it by creating the Open Source movement.


"OSS being politicised"

GitHub is a subsidiary of Microsoft, a US company with lucrative interests in the US government. While this does indeed stifle OSS activity for people in Crimea it isn't really about OSS.


Oh I probably misworded my comment, I understand the legal and geopolitical reality, it just pains me that it's turned out this way.


Because US corporations and non-US corporations with major US operations tend not to want to risk it and comply with sanctions.

These sanctions tend not to be universal and some services can continue to be provided, however the price of violating said sanctions can be very severe.

I don’t know how many people who work at Github or PayPal especially senior management are willing to risk fines not to mention jail time for something as simple as some Russian officer buying a DVD on the internet while being stationed in Crimea or a local IT guy from the current pro-Russian government making a pull request.


This sort of argument is usually applied to sports.


> I reject the idea of OSS being politicised.

Then don't use github. I don't. It's completely toxic.


"The idea behind the sanctions is in the end to make the life of the populous sufficiently difficult so they will rebel."

Isn't it evil?

I mean, if you don't believe the results of referendum and subsequent Gallop's poll, than sanctions are intentionally hurting people who are victims of Russian occupation. And if you do believe that overwhelming majority of Crimean people support reunification with Russia, the sanctions punish Crimeans for exercising their right of self-determination and reek of double standards. I don't remember any sanctions on Chechen republic after it separated from Russia, for example.


> I don't remember any sanctions on Chechen republic after it separated from Russia, for example.

The double standards are all explained by geopolitical maneuvering. Western powers pulled Kiev into their orbit and threatened to use that influence to harm Russia's economic and military capabilities.

The tl;dr is that Russia needs access to warm water ports. They were happy to lease a port from the Ukraine until rumors began spreading in Kiev that Russia's lease would be ended.[1][2] Because the Russian economy and military couldn't afford to lose access to a naval base with a warm water port they decided to take drastic action.

Another odd footnote about this situation is that Crimea was given as a "symbolic" gift to the Ukraine while the USSR was still strong.[3] It's not like it's some ancient sacred Ukranian land. It's just very valuable for trade and military purposes.

1. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/10/na...

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kharkiv_Pact

3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1954_transfer_of_Crimea#Compli...


In that case Russia should of renegotiated the deal, instead of invading a portion of a sovereign country (the Ukraine)..


How do you renegotiate a deal if the other party isn't interested in returning stolen property?


Astonishing how anti-democratic HN and the media are. Despicable too.


Why are you referring to Crimea as a victim? Their desire to leave the Ukraine has been well-documented since the beginning. See this amusing article from 1994 in the NYT for an example [1]:

> A separatist candidate who wants Crimea to leave Ukraine and integrate with Russia won more than 70 percent of the vote today in run-off presidential elections, preliminary results showed. His victory sets the stage for a direct confrontation between Ukraine and Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula that is dominated by ethnic Russians.

Russia took Crimea illegally by force, but people of Crimea are hardly victims. Ultimately, the goal of sanctions is to signal that the US is not accepting Crimea as part of Russia. To allow US companies to operate in Crimea would legitimize the annexation. (And as far as the people go - I don't think anyone cares for the people, particularly.)

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/1994/01/31/world/separatist-winning-...


If, as you say, people want to be part of Russia, what is the difference? Do they need to be punished for wanting to be part of another country?


Russia would severely punish people who wants to be part of other country (not Russia). It is in both countries (Ukraine and Russia) constitution, that it is against the law to separate territory without country-wide voting.


But the discussion is not about what Russia or Ukraine would do, instead, it is about American companies punishing people living in a territory that is now separate from Ukraine.


Discussion is about US government which punishing Russian government by applying restrictions, US companies just follow the law, they don't have any other choice. When governments fight, people suffer.


> which punishing Russian government

They obviously don't "punish the Russian government" when they prevent the people living in Crimea contributing to the open source project.


US government doesn't know if people who access github will contribute, or just take and use including military and government applications.


There's hardly any military work that would involve using code from GitHub in Crimea. All the R&D is done in mainland Russia. This targets common people who use GitHub for their pet projects or just regular work.

In general, this thread demonstrates that here there's very little understanding about the mass psychology of Russians, and, really, any nation other than Americans. No one in Crimea is going to rebel against the Russian government because of the U.S. sanctions against them exclusively. A policy like this only validates the Russian government's narrative of the U.S. going after Russia as such. If the U.S. government wanted to seek allies in Crimeans, they could perhaps focus on sanctioning Moscovian oligarchs. Well, except they won't, because Russian oligarchs that lose leverage in the Kremlin later make for good dissidents to be used by the U.S. as an ideological tool against Russia. And the oligarchic system is keeping Russia from modernizing, which is also in the U.S. interest.


> There's hardly any military work that would involve using code from GitHub in Crimea. All the R&D is done in mainland Russia. This targets common people who use GitHub for their pet projects or just regular work.

I disagree with you, Russia has clear intent to move/restore navy projects in Crimea: https://www.maritime-executive.com/article/russian-navy-resu... US government doesn't specifically target github, but all commercial activities in Crimea.

> Well, except they won't

This is not correct, current sanctions target specific list of people and major companies in financial, military and oil industries. The goal of sanctions is to weaken Russia's economy in specific sectors.


> US government doesn't specifically target github, but all commercial activities in Crimea.

And the only "commercial activity" in this case is if GitHub earns some advertising money from the data collection about its user from Crimea.

> The goal of sanctions is to weaken Russia's economy in specific sectors.

And Crimea is not Russia. It's a region which voted to separate itself from the bigger state, just like Kosovo, votes of which were even militarily supported by the U.S. And if the U.S. equates Crimea with Russia... it's as wrong as equating Kosovo with Albania.


> And the only "commercial activity" in this case is if GitHub earns some advertising money from the data collection about its user from Crimea.

And Crimea users can use github as a tool in their commercial endeavors, and military and government applications.

> just like Kosovo, votes of which were even militarily supported by the U.S.

You make things up, Kosovo voted 10 years after US operation, when was under observation of UN peacekeepers which were located there by UN security council resolution (Russia voted for that too).


> Kosovo voted 10 years after US operation

At the moment of the US "operation" (honestly, war) those who had direct military support were some paramilitary troops attempting to escalate the conflict to the level to be taken seriously (specifically by the US) with the agenda of changing the established existing borders.

The war itself was against all UN decisions, it was unilaterally started by the US and NATO. The US fought for the right to enter Kosovo (and make its military bases there) and it won that as the result of its war, not from the UN.

The country from which those on Kosovo voted "out" was already economically destroyed by the actions of the U.S. -- the equivalent would be if Russia managed to not only control Crimea for a decade but also economically destroy Ukraine for two decades and then let the people vote if they want to stay in such Ukraine.

What do I "make up"? And how is that "better" from inhabitants of Crimea wanting to separate from Ukraine, where the political regime just illegally changed before that, exactly in the direction of suppressing politically all ethnic Russians in Ukraine? The inhabitants in Crimea and other parts of Ukraine could surely point to Kosovo as a precedent which gives them right to separate (and even get the military support for that). And contrary to the US in Kosovo, Russia already had a big military base on Crimea.


> how is that "better"

The facts are:

- US had 0 intention to join Kosovo as 51th state, and election were performed under observation of UN peacekeepers which were there per UN resolution

- Russia invaded Crimea using regular army, and within two weeks merged territory in violation of UN statute

> where the political regime just illegally changed before that, exactly in the direction of suppressing politically all ethnic Russians in Ukraine

I disagree with your assessment. Ukraine is a mess, old pro-Russia president and his party illegally changed constitution, which caused chain of events.


> US had 0 intention to join Kosovo as 51th state

Who ever claimed that?

> Russia invaded Crimea using regular army

No. The Russian military base https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sevastopol_Naval_Base was always there, and especially it was there as a Russian base since the breakup of Ukraine from USSR, so already for a decade and a half before 2014. Moreover, even before 2014 Crimea was an Autonomous Republic in Ukraine, since 1991.

Compared to that, Kosovo was not even a republic, but an "autonomous area" in the Republic of Serbia before the U.S. war, and there was surely zero U.S. military bases there before. Which says something, seeing:

https://i2.wp.com/www.ukprogressive.co.uk/wp-content/uploads... ( found on: https://www.ukprogressive.co.uk/pentagon-keeps-building-over... ) All these also aren't the "fifty first state."


Serbian constitution didn't allow unilateral secession of Kosovo either. Where are the sanctions against Kosovo then?


any country would severely punish people who want to be part of another country.


I've never understood why this is true and considered ethical. If a part of your country wishes to govern themselves, or be governed by someone else, why should that be met with violence?


It is a complex system with many actors on different levels.

You can see it on several levels:

- People in power are interested to hold the power as long as they can, and that's why they suppress separatists movements

- Countries which allows such separations become weaker and don't survive, because separation is manipulatable process, and damage country's economy and power

- concept of ethics is very driven by government: they tell people that it is their land, and nobody can take it from them


That's an open-ended question :) If your goal is to keep the Ukraine whole, you generally punish the people whose desire to leave runs counter to that goal.


if their rights are respected I don't agree with it. See Catalonia and Spain. I don't agree with it because people in Barcelona have every right.

However look and HK and China. I definetely agree for HK to be independent after a referendum.


> Why do they sanction Crimea (victim) instead of Russia?

Because Ukraine is pro-west and Crimea is pro-Russia. West good, Russia bad. Sanctions are black and white. The political situation is less-so:

The Crimea voted in a (illegal) referendum to rejoin Russia after a coup in Ukraine (also illegal, obviously) had replaced the elected but somewhat pro-Russian president with an unelected pro-European government.

While this revolution was popular with the west (funny how we support coups that overthrow elected governments when they go our way), it was unpopular in the south of Ukraine, which is mostly ethically Russian (the previous ethnic population having all been ‘relocated’).


The Crimea didn't vote anything. Crimea was invaded by Russian army. "Referendum" was military action, with intention to distract people. I.e. it was just show, yet another Russian fake, not a real thing.


Democracy is never illegal. Only fascists make that claim.


Maybe because people setting sanctions know that Crimea is not a victim, and most of its population supported joining Russia, and hope that making their life harder may reduce the support.


I don't support Crimea's situation because I'm not a fan of the Russian government, but to play devil's advocate, if Crimea were to be returned to Ukraine, wouldn't that then make Crimea a victim given it's not what its people desire? So the sanctions are in favour of making Crimea a victim?


Why didn't my newspaper tell me about these people who now have the government they prefer?


Yeah, because those who didn't like joining Russia are arrested and/or killed. Russians have their unofficial name "katsaps" (butchers) for reason.

Nobody asked population of Crimea anything. Nobody asks a sheep is it agree to be shaved.


Do you have information how many were arrested or killed, i know only about Sentsov.


Yes, most people despise democracy and self-determination.


Could you please stop posting unsubstantive comments to Hacker News? You've been doing it a lot lately, unfortunately, and we're trying for better than that here. If you'd please review the site guidelines and take their spirit more to heart, we'd be grateful.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Because it's mostly a symbolic gesture that doesn't greatly affect business interests.


Because its not in their economic interests.


If you want a long but clear image of the Russian geopolitical chess game, read "The Fourth Political Theory". Putin loves this book.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fourth_Political_Theory


Just out of curiosity (not judging), what concrete observation makes you say Putin supports Duginism, as opposed to, say, Dugin said some things years ago that just now coincide with some recent news?


I learned about it via a political science professor at the University of Virginia.

Even the Wikipedia on Dugin's older book says, "The book has had a large influence within the Russian military, police, and foreign policy elites[1] and it has been used as a textbook in the Academy of the General Staff of the Russian military.[1][2]"

The correlation between suggestions in the Fourth Political Theory book align a little too perfectly with recent events:

- Break GB from the EU [2]

- Heightened racial tension in the US [3]

- Annexation of Crimea and Ukraine

- etc.

Hard to ignore how much Russia operates "by the book".

Also in the Wikipedia for FPT I linked earlier, "The book has been cited as an inspiration for Russian policy in events such as the War in Donbass..."

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundations_of_Geopolitics

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_interference_in_the_20...

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_interference_in_the_20...


Because they don't want to allow Russia to use it as a port or for commerce; Russia has been trying to take the Crimea for commercial purposes for the last millenium or so. And because they don't have the guts to sanction all of Russia.


Further, sanctioning all of Russia would probably break the Principle of Proportionality[1].

[1] https://opil.ouplaw.com/view/10.1093/law:epil/9780199231690/...


I'd disagree with that. Russia seizing foreign territory is an extremely concerning act. The goal could well be to cripple Russia and ideally promote regime change such that she becomes an ally of America; this works towards that.


1954, when USSR voluntarily transferred Crimea to its then-vassal state Ukraine, was 65 years ago, not 1,000.


Crimea and Kuban were removed from Ukraine after soviet occupation, then "gifted" back in exchange for other territories of Ukraine of same size. However, Ukrainians, Tatars, and Greeks were exterminated first, to free space for Russian colonists.


1783 was also not 1,000 years ago.


You are making same mistake as many others. Russian Federation != Russia. If something was owned by Russia, then it doesn't mean that it should be owned by Russian Federation automatically.

Russian Federation tries to pretend like they are the only right owners of everything, viewing others nations as traitors, who need to be executed for their act of stealing from Mother Russia.

In reality, Russian Empire (AKA Jail of Nations) was disbanded. Each nation had right to create their own country. Actual Russia renamed itself into Ukraine. Russian Federation has same rights on territory of Russian Empire as other nations, but RF uses lies and fakes to pretend like it has more rights than others, then start wars and captures or tries to capture territories, which they newer owned in first place.


here is a quick visual: https://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/kgou/files/styles/x_...

Catherine the Great celebrates the victory over Turks in Crimea in 1772.

here is the text: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annexation_of_Crimea_by_the_Ru...

Russian empire took Crimea from Ottoman empire in late 1700's.


Russian Federation != Russia and doesn't contain a region called "Russia". Actual Russia renamed itself into Ukraine.


Deleting web pages and burning books is not the same thing as not providing banking services.


Does that make it better?


No, it just makes it a geopolitical reality that you have to somehow punish Russia when it mobilizes ground forces and forcibly annexes pieces of land. Don't forget that Russian-backed insurgents literally shot a passenger plane out of the sky[1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaysia_Airlines_Flight_17


I don't mean this to sound aggressive, but would you agree then with sanctioning the U.S. after its actual military shot down an Iranian passenger plane, inside Iranian waters [1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_Air_Flight_655


Someone always brings up 655.

Say what you will, the US government at least paid out to the victims (although never officially apologized). While Russia denies all involvement to this day and lawsuits are still ongoing.


Saying Russia did it too and they were much worse about it is not a valid defense of anything.


It wasn’t a defense. Two terrible things happened (let’s assume both accidental). The US admitted Iran-655 was an “accident that resulted in a loss of life” and paid out ~$200k per victim. Russia pretends like MH-17 never happened. Who do you think has more of a moral high ground?


Not defending Russia, just saying the circumstances are a bit different. Iran-655 was downed by a US warship - clear from the outset and no space for argument, while MH-17 was downed by (most probably) Russian separatists with a mobile missiles system, which allows for a lot of deniability, and since they had the chance to deny it they went with it. The US didn't even have that luxury.


Ignoring your initial tone, I see what you're saying, and agree these aren't identical cases. Though it should be emphasized they only payed out to the victims because Iran brought it to the international courts and they wanted to settle. They never, as you said, apologized, or even thought they had any legal obligation to the victims. Feels like your splitting hairs with "Russia denies involvement" as being dramatically different -- both seem like terrible events that neither super power really feels responsible for despite being the ones who put those weapons where they were without legitimacy.


Have you actually been to Crimea? Because I had and still have lots of relatives there (I am originally from Ukraine). I have zero doubt that overwhelming majority of people there (easily over 70%) want to be with Russia instead of Ukraine


I think your numbers are probably correct. I don't happen to know another number: how many people in Chechnya would rather be independent than part of Russia. But it doesn't matter; the Russian government is very selective about how it applies the "right to self-determination".

The Russian government is likewise selective in its interpretation of the Budapest agreement (1994) [1], in which Russia guaranteed Ukraine's territorial integrity in return for Ukraine giving up nuclear weapons.

Edit: I incorrectly wrote "Bucharest agreement"; fixed it (thanks jotm)

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budapest_Memorandum_on_Securit...


Russia is hardly unique in being selective in its support for the right of self-determination. The independence of Kosovo was illegal under international law, but supported by the United States and its allies. Most of those same countries are now sanctioning Russia for annexing Crimea, even though that was clearly the will of a large majority of Crimeans. Everyone is hypocritical about these matters.

Interestingly, Spain is somewhat consistent here: they don't recognize Kosovo, because they have their own separatist troubles in Catalonia.


But it doesn't matter; the Russian government is very selective about how it applies the "right to self-determination".

That's the crux of the issue I think. To be consistent you would surely have to support both Chechnya and Crimea having the right to self-determination - or neither having the right to self-determination.

EDIT: So let me ask you - do you support both, or neither?


To be consistent you would surely have to condemn the US and EU for not imposing sanctions on the Chechnya.


Are you asking me? I would find it hard to be consistent: Kosovo, Abkhazia, Palestine, Chechnya, Crimea, so many choices to make, so many fine differences, so much tangled history.

I do (retrospectively) support the US decision in 1861 to prevent the Confederate states from seceding, despite the expressed will of the white, property-owning part of the local population, so there's that.


Sounds like you pick and choose based on how much you like the ethnic group in question - which is exactly why Russia supports it for Crimea but not for Chechnya.

Ethnic conflicts aren't soccer matches where you should pick a team to support.


In this discussion, I've explicitly (and quite off topic) expressed support for the Union side in the US Civil War, and I've implicitly supported Ukraine's side in the Crimean dispute. I don't think that gives you enough data points to deduce whether I choose sides on the basis of ethnicity, or because of a liking for the letter U, or (most probable?) a curmudgeonly dislike of change.


Bucharest and Budapest are two different cities :)


I agree with what you said. But this means that US/West sanctions people for their democratic choice.

We should instead sanction people associated with Russia’s totalitarian government.


The US has in fact sanctioned Russian officials associated with the annexation of Crimea. [1]

You might also spare some sympathy for those residents of Crimea who did not wish to join the Russian Federation, for example, many Crimean Tatars. Not only have they suffered the loss of access to github, they also have to contend with a campaign of political repression. [2]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_sanctioned_duri...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_Crimea#Crimean_Tat...


So whose will should trump the other? The majority or the minority?

Perhaps you should spare some sympathy for the majority of the Crimean populace who wished to rejoin Russia- I notice you have none.


Something tells me Russia is not particularly bothered by the inability of people in Crimea to use GitHub.


Of course. Nobody is particularly bothered by the loss of one company's services. It's the totality of the effect that you're looking for.


After the Ukrainian air traffic control spent weeks bringing the same flight closer and closer to the war zone, even though a ban on air traffic over that territory should have been put there immediately. No one is questioning the Ukrainian side how come they've "lost" and have not put forward before the Dutch Safety Board the primary radar recordings of the Dnepropetrovsk area from that period. The Ukrainian government, and the U.S., at that very moment needed something like this to happen to get the Western European governments to put their stake in that war and the Western European societies to approve it. They're partially responsible for this crash and in that regard your description of this event is highly misguiding.


I agree with the idea, but wonder if that really hurts the right people. People in Crimea get both annexed and punished on global market. Russia gets access to what it wanted and gets no real punishment.


this punishes people who live in Crimea


"just about everyone has sanctioned Crimea"

https://tariganter.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/the-internati...

So what? They don't do the same to Turkey(Cyprus) or Israel(Golan Heights).


FYI: It's just "Ukraine", not "the Ukraine".

"The Ukraine" referred to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in the Soviet Union.


"The Ukraine" is the traditional way of referring to the country/region, going back centuries. Many languages, including Ukrainian itself, have traditionally referred to the Ukraine using similar grammatical constructs.

The Ukrainian government requests that people stop putting "the" in front of the country's name, but it's difficult to force people to change the way they speak.


Fixed -- had no idea, thanks for the heads-up!


> "The Ukraine" referred to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in the Soviet Union.

This is misinformation. "The Ukraine" precedes the USSR. It comes from the fact that "Ukraine" is derived from "borderland". Hence, "the Ukraine" - "the borderland".


"The Ukraine" referred to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in the Soviet Union.

no disrespect, but there is this coming from?!


Ukrainian society is ill and this is one of the recent inflammations that hurts.

Being unable to fix roads or economy, they have directed their frustration towards symbolic things, fighting everyone who calls Kiev "Kiev" instead of "Kyiv", renaming streets, etc. Now they have decided that "the Ukraine" is somehow referencing Ukraine as a territory and not a state. God knows where any of this comes from, but any "patriotic" idea gets boosted immediately no matter how stupid.

Source: am Ukrainian.


This is false dilemma fallacy – there is no link between "unable to fix roads" and "s/Kiev/Kyiv/" renaming. "Kiev" is a transcription from Russian – which was an official language in USSR, but is not official in Ukraine.

Renaming streets is also part of decommunisation process, which is common among post-Soviet countries. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decommunization

Also, calling society "ill" is offensive, and if your goal is to have a meaningful discussion, you'd rather avoid offending your fellow citizens (unless you identify yourself more as Russian, of course).

Source: I'm also Ukrainian


listening to your conversation - good luck to both of you guys:)! keep spelling!


As someone who learned Russian and am interested, do you personally say "в" или "на" Украине?


Depends on the melody of the phrase. Sometimes it sounds good to say "на", sometimes "в". Traditionally, it's mostly "на", but this is slowly changing due to the fact that Ukrainians decided that this is now offensive.


на


what is the difference, really? is it all about prepositions now?


"на" refers to territory, "в" refers to state. The distinction is clear. One exception: "Ukraine". Traditionally, Ukraine was referred with "на" in Russian language and it never meant disrespect. But since a few years ago my fellow Ukrainians decided that this is now offensive and so here we are, fighting words.


> fighting everyone who calls Kiev "Kiev" instead of "Kyiv", renaming streets, etc.

It's an organized effort, part of government propaganda, not an ill society. Society is so healthy, that it didn't trust the government at all and voted all those people out. Really, it doesn't get healthier than that.


changing one oligarh for another is hardly healthy (Poroh for Benya). Ukraine deserves better.


Previous president of Ukraine was a literal power hungry oligarch, who engaged in war, war mongering, censorship, propaganda, fake comments trolling bots, policy washing through his international friends, fake-fighting of corruption to gain power over judges, ordered raids on opposing media and industries, switched politics to right-wing to ride the propaganda machine he tried to create, etc. New one is a freedom of speech supporting businessmen, not an oligarch, who found himself fighting him and the whole establishment through utopian/dystopian political tv shows over the last five years. And newly elected parliament has plenty of people who have no ties to the establishment or fought the last president too, like the head of the most active organization fighting against internet censorship (pretty successfully) who joined the new president's party.


i heard the same things 5 years ago when latest revolution in Ukraine took place, when swamp was about to be drained.

who do you think Benya is - not a power hungry oligarch? who is Ze's chief of staff? ahem, Benya's personal lawyer... will you ever see the pattern?


It doesn't work like that. They are their own people, not puppets as you try to imply. And it's not like oligarchs even have that much power to make someone into a puppet, they are not FSB.


i think that political regime in Ukraine is purely oligarch-based. Ukraine does not have strong traditional government institutions, instead the government is driven by current oligarch configuration. it used to be Yanukovich, then Poroh, now it is Benya (via his proxy Ze). just look at Groysman, the prime minister, as they say in Russian, he "changed his shoes while walking" and switched his allegiance from Poroh to Ze/Benya in no time. government in Ukraine is weak and servile. they have stronger civil society, but it shows in short outbursts, then oligarchs take over again.


> "After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukrainians probably decided that the article denigrated their country [by identifying it as a part of Russia] and abolished 'the' while speaking English, so now it is simply Ukraine.

> "That's why the Ukraine suddenly lost its article in the last 20 years, it's a sort of linguistic independence in Europe, it's hugely symbolic."

(Oksana Kyzyma of the Embassy of Ukraine in London is being quoted in the sections of the article that I'm quoting.)

https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-18233844


Would've been nice if we called it Ukrainia in English from then on. It would make sense with the conventions for transliterating cyrillic country names.


How so? There's no "ia" there.


I put the i on the wrong side, then added it in one place but didn't remove it in the other.


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