Culture History

An ongoing history of ethnic cleansing by the Russian state

Bookmarked Holodomor (Derek Kedziora)

It’s worth taking a few minutes to understand the the long history of genocide and ethnic cleansing along the southern edge of the Russian Empire, which culminated in Stalin’s artificial famines that were intended to absolutely destroy Ukrainian, Kazakh and other non-Russian groups in Ukraine and Southern Russia.

This story constantly repeats itself in Russian history. Brutally eliminate peoples that can’t be russified or easily subjugated such as Crimean Tatars and Circassians, resettle and russify people from the Western parts of the Russian Empire such as Ukrainians, Belarusians, Baltic peoples, Poles, etc., or force groups into a sort of feudal servitude such as the Buryats, Chechnians and Dagestanis.

(Her newsletter: Mariam on Ukraine)

History Learning Political Commentary Reflection

Background on Ukraine and Russia

Watched Ukraine and Russia: What Caused the War? by vlogbrothers from

In which John explores historical and political context to understand what caused the Russian government’s invasion of Ukraine, and how we arrived at this awful now. There is a LOT of misinformation in comments, so why not read directly from SOURCES? But first, CORRECTIONS:

The official language of Ukraine is Ukrainian. “National languages” as a phrase was confusing. I should’ve just said that 30% of Ukrainians speak Russian as their first language. Also, the etymology of “Ukraine” is not settled as “borderlands.” Many Ukrainian linguists argue that the etymology of Ukraine comes from words meaning “In My Land,” not “borderlands.” Thirdly, I misspelled Kyiv as Kiev. If I made further mistakes, let me know and I’ll amend here.


Putin’s claims that Ukraine never had “real statehood” have been stated in both essays and speeches. Here’s some coverage of one such speech:

And a fact-check of the same speech:

If you want to read Vladimir Putin’s essay where he expounds his theory that Ukraine “was created entirely by Russia,” you can read Putin’s meandering, surreal, ahistorical essay about it here: (This is an insecure site owned by the Kremlin so bear that in mind)

This article goes into far more detail about Putin’s theory of Ukraine’s illegitimacy than I could cover in the video:

You can learn about the Holodomor here: or at this thoroughly researched wikipedia page:

And about Stalin’s forced deportation policies here:

Putin’s reference to assault in the context of invading Ukraine:

The 1991 Independence referendum results:

Huge thanks to Rosianna Halse Rojas for editing the script and help sourcing images.

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I am realizing the shortcomings of my science degree lately, that I missed out on a lot of liberal arts, including history. The only history classes I took in college were ancient / classical history, medieval art history, and Central and South American history at colonization – all of which were interesting but I’m now left with a knowledge gap of modern nation states. High school world history only spanned WWI to the Vietnam War, so I’m missing like 1500 to 1920 European history *and* 1970 to 2000 world history – two chunks of time that seem to be important in understanding current affairs. (I mean and basically all Asian history despite taking a class on India but that’s less immediately important to understanding what’s going on in Ukraine.)

I’ve also realized I know very little about what distinguishes Ukrainian culture from other former Soviet nations. 😅

I can’t beat myself up too much for not knowing this stuff, it’s not as though I’m not constantly learning new things and I have other areas of knowledge – but I think a little more attention to history and working to fill some specific gaps can help my understanding of things improve.

Things that stood out to me in this video:

  • The Terror Famine – wtf did he say 1 in 8 Ukrainians died in two years? (Or was that a different bad time)
  • Uh wow Russia has treated Ukrainians like utter shit no wonder they want nothing to do with joining Russia
  • 92% of Ukrainians voted for independence after the fall of the USSR – that’s unheard of numbers for a non rigged election – clearly these are a people with their own cultural identity who don’t want to be subsumed by Russia (again)
  • the echo of forced movement from Soviet era to today – that’s how you destroy culture and identity and frankly the world has lost more than enough uniqueness and cultural heritage
Romance Science Fiction

Read Antidote

Read Antidote (Love and War, #1) by R.A. Steffan

Skye Chantrell has just escaped a war zone.
She’s carrying the stolen antidote to a deadly bioweapon.

When her damaged shuttle crashes on a remote lunar outpost, she’s captured by the leader of a rogue group of barbaric aliens. Now her people’s fate—not to mention her own—rests in the hands of the Seven Systems’ most feared and hated criminal.

A man with the face of a brutal thug, and the eyes of an angel.

* * *

Hunter Tarthasian has every reason to hate the Regime.

He and his comrades have gone rogue, vowing to use every means at their disposal to bring down the evil Premiere. Now, they’re wanted and on the run, holed up in an abandoned outpost while they plan their next move. The last thing Hunter needs is a female human civvy with a terrible secret crash-landing on his doorstep. Especially when she starts to awaken feelings in him that have no place in his life as a rebel leader.

Feelings that could very easily get all of them killed.

Fast paced with a clear throughline, introducing a whole band of characters for the later books.

The romance in this was a bit perfunctory and instalove, with basically no resistance from either. (He avoided her for a day.) The tension was bound up in the external plot, which progressed rapidly but gave them time to spend together.

Comics History

Read Year of the Rabbit

Read Year of the Rabbit by Tian Veasna

Year of the Rabbit tells the true story of one family’s desperate struggle to survive the murderous reign of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. In 1975, the Khmer Rouge seized power in the capital city of Phnom Penh. Immediately after declaring victory in the war, they set about evacuating the country’s major cities with the brutal ruthlessness and disregard for humanity that characterized the regime ultimately responsible for the deaths of one million citizens.

Cartoonist Tian Veasna was born just three days after the Khmer Rouge takeover, as his family set forth on the chaotic mass exodus from Phnom Penh. Year of the Rabbit is based on firsthand accounts, all told from the perspective of his parents and other close relatives. Stripped of any money or material possessions, Veasna’s family found themselves exiled to the barren countryside along with thousands of others, where food was scarce and brutal violence a constant threat.

Year of the Rabbit shows the reality of life in the work camps, where Veasna’s family bartered for goods, where children were instructed to spy on their parents, and where reading was proof positive of being a class traitor. Constantly on the edge of annihilation, they realized there was only one choice—they had to escape Cambodia and become refugees. Veasna has created a harrowing, deeply personal account of one of the twentieth century’s greatest tragedies.

Like Maus, the story of a genocide from one family’s perspective. They escape on foot from the capitol city, evading death several times, before they are divided and captured close to their destination. Forced into labor camps, starved and overworked, they try to avoid attention to survive, while relying on family and friendships to get them through.

There is limited graphic violence shown, much obscured or minimized or alluded to. But, enough to make clear the senselessness of the killing, and the extent.

The artwork made it a little hard to tell all the family members apart, and there was a very large cast, so I got a little lost in some parts.