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Dima Kamalov
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h/t fedya for original link ("http://svetlana-panina.livejournal.com/473686.html")

On the precipice of war, by Svetlana Panina

I trust no one. Not the politicians, not the internet, not my neighbors. I trust only what I can see with my own eyes and hear with my own ears. Even these can lie, but at least there is some basis to trust them.

I went to Kiev on the overnight train, because I needed to see what was happening with my own eyes. The train went from Sevastopol to Kiev. The passengers from Sevastopol were mostly women and children; they traveled with large suitcases. It was clear that they were leaving for a long time. They exited the train in various Ukranian towns, and mostly spoke in Ukranian. Since Sevastopol was taken over in "self defense" by unidentified armed men who raised the Russian flag, native Ukranian speakers have been in fear. The train resembled an evacuation.

In Simferopol, my town, the schools and banks were closed. The city center was covered by men with machine guns. There were snipers on the roofs of the administrative buildings. Russia was conducting military "training exercises," conveniently right next to the Ukranian border. If these armed men are our self-defense, I have no idea who they are and against whom they are defending. There weren't any occupiers or aggressors until the unidentified men captured the Crimean Parliament in Sevastopol and raised the Russian flag.

Ordinary people on the streets were saying that the Crimean parliament was captured by the Maidanovtsi, and that the Russian flag was for deception. I wonder if anyone still believes that.

So, now I am in Kiev. I came to look at the terrible Maidanovtsi with my own eyes. There are no machine gunners here. People are calmly walking in the city center. Maidan is drowning in flowers -- people come at it from all sides with bouquets and candles. The streets are clean, and the storefronts are intact. I recognize all the places which I saw on the horrifying video footage. Now there is a giant memorial to the fallen. There is no fear or tension. People are crying and hugging each other. They smile and offer you hot tea. For the first time in three months, I was not tense and scared.

When I left the main Kiev square, friends called me and asked: did I hear the news? The Russian forces are planning on entering the Crimea. I replied -- hardly news. They have been in the Crimea for three days now; under the guise of self defenders they have captured the Crimean airports and administrative buildings. The statements by the Russian president about future invasions are quite belated. It is as if they invaded first, then the government officials consulted and said that -- yes -- we are invading officially. The only people they forgot to consult are the Crimean people. I don't know a single friend or neighbor (who love Russia wholeheartedly) who would say "I would like it if a russian tank appeared on my doorstep." No one wants snipers on the parliament roof. No one wants a surrounded, empty city center in Simferopol. No one in the Crimea wants war. When the armed forces from another country occupy your city -- that is war, I think.

Please, those who love the Crimea, and the Russians in the Crimea. Please spread the word. The Russians in the Crimea did not ask for military support from Russia! No one attacked us! We lived calmly and well. We were expecting guests from Russia and other countries -- after all, Crimea is a pearl of the whole Earth.

People of Russia: you pay taxes and give up your children to the armed forces. Right now your children and your money are enabling the final preparations for war -- a war that is unfair, defends no one, and will destroy the Crimea. No one will win anything from this war. I know that you cannot stop this -- just know that it is happening.

Russia and Ukraine are on the brink of war. The president of Russia has consulted with the State Duma, and they have decided to send the Russian army into Crimea. From a point of international sovereignty, an unsanctioned military entrance into another country is a declaration of war. War is when people die. Ukraine is a country with its own armed forces, with clear boundaries that it will defend. In any military engagement, peaceful people die. For now, the Russian army has not yet officially entered the Crimea, and there is no fighting. Let us all pray that there never is.

Closed to comments, sorry. Thanks to all of you who are worrying with me. Unfortunately right now I can't bear to read the thoughts of indifferent and cynical people. What I have written is my personal statement for those whom it affects. If it doesn't affect you, please pass on by. Write something on your own blog. Perhaps about cats.

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in la

In berkeley

nyc 4/23-4/25, boston 4/26-4/28

Feeling a bit philosophical:

*

Our brains were built by evolution thousands of years ago.  Back then if an event happened in one's lifetime -- or if one had even heard of it -- it would be correct to assume that its expected probability is above a certain baseline.  I think our brains were intuitively wired for such a baseline probability;  they cannot comprehend lower ones.  

The world is more interconnected;  the number of things we hear about has grown.  But the brain's wiring for probability hasn't had time to change;  our increased fears are less evolutionary than artifacts of our brain.

*

I used to have the concept of "Dima as perceived by the outside world."  Then I realized it was a mistake.  To myself, there is one Dima.  To the world, there are a seven billion Dimas (though many of them are vacuous).

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dc sidewalk popularizing particle physics
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"I had expected, the day before, for the bus ride to be the only positive part of the trip, but as soon as we took our seats, the two girls sitting behind us, with strange clothes and haircuts, asked us what our name was." -- dima in middle school

in nyc for ~week.  let me know if you want to say hi.

and i'm off...
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