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This is the fifth of a five-part series on the costs Russia’s actions have imposed on Crimea.

Under Russia’s broad extremism law, the Russian government has sought to declare that minority religious groups in Crimea are “extremists”. Crimean Tatars, Catholics, and Ukrainian Orthodox faithful face harassment and the confiscation of property simply because of their faith.

The costs of Russia’s actions in Ukraine are real.
Stand United for Ukraine.
Stop Russian Aggression.

Learn more about the costs of Russia’s actions in Ukraine by following #UnitedforUkraine

Posted by ShareAmerica

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This is the fourth of a five-part series on the costs Russia’s actions have imposed on Crimea.

It’s been one year since Russia began its aggressive occupation of Crimea. After the illegal referendum, it was nearly impossible for those Crimeans who wished to retain their Ukrainian citizenship to do so. They were forced instead to become Russian citizens.

The costs of Russia’s actions in Ukraine are real.
Stop Russian aggression.
Stand United for Ukraine.

Learn more about the costs of Russia’s actions in Ukraine by following #UnitedforUkraine

Posted by ShareAmerica

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This is the third of a five-part series on the costs Russia’s actions have imposed on Crimea.

It’s been one year since Russia began its aggressive occupation of Crimea. Since then, the number of visitors to the once tourist hotspot has dropped by 45% – a tough statistic to live with when the income of one in three Crimean families depends on tourism.

The costs of Russia’s actions in Ukraine are real.

Stop Russian aggression.

Stand United for Ukraine.

Learn more about the costs of Russia’s actions in Ukraine by following #UnitedforUkraine

Posted by ShareAmerica

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This is the second of a five-part series on the costs Russia’s actions have imposed on Crimea.

Since the start of Russia’s illegal occupation, Human Rights Watch has documented at least 15 cases in which Crimean Tatars or pro- Ukraine activists were, abducted or went missing in Crimea. They believe the true number is much higher.
The costs of Russia’s actions in Ukraine are real.
Stop Russian Aggression. Stand United for Ukraine.

Learn more about the costs of Russia’s actions in Ukraine by following #UnitedforUkraine

Posted by ShareAmerica

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A woman holds a banner that reads “Putin is an Occupier” during a rally against Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea in Simferopol, Crimea, March 11, 2014. (© AP Images)

A woman holds a banner that reads “Putin is an Occupier” during a rally against Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea in Simferopol, Crimea, March 11, 2014. (© AP Images)

One year ago, on March 16, Russia orchestrated an illegal referendum in Crimea that violated the Ukrainian constitution and was condemned by the international community. This is the first of a five-part series on the costs Russia’s actions have imposed on Crimea.

How did an illegal referendum come about?

In late February 2014, Russia began an aggressive campaign of military intervention in Crimea, a peninsula in southern Ukraine. Russian forces wearing ski masks and combat uniforms without markings seized the Crimean regional parliament, several government

In late February 2014, Russia began an aggressive campaign of military intervention in Crimea, a peninsula in southern Ukraine. Russian forces wearing ski masks and combat uniforms without markings seized the Crimean regional parliament, several government buildings and the airport. They installed checkpoints on Crimea’s boundary with its neighboring Ukrainian provinces and fired at unarmed Ukrainian military personnel.

Ukrainian Crimeans were given 10 days’ notice to vote in a public referendum, which gave them two choices for their future — to join Russia or become independent. Voters had no option to oppose either of the ballot questions or to maintain the status quo, which would mean remaining part of Ukraine.

The Kremlin claims that an overwhelming 97 percent voted to join Russia, even though a poll taken one month before the referendum showed that only 41 percent of Crimea’s population favored that outcome.

The White House called the referendum “contrary to Ukraine’s constitution” and said that “the international community will not recognize the results of a poll administered under threats of violence and intimidation from a Russian military” that is in violation of international law.

International response

In response to Russia’s illegal actions in Crimea, the U.S. and a broad coalition of countries imposed political and economic sanctions against Russian and Crimean officials responsible for orchestrating the Crimean crisis and undermining Ukrainian sovereignty.

Costs to Crimea

Under Russia’s occupation, the people of Crimea have suffered human, economic, political and social costs.

The U.S. continues to condemn Russia’s occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea, which is part of Ukraine. The U.S. calls for an end to the occupation.

Learn more about the costs of Russia’s actions in Ukraine by following #UnitedforUkraine.

Posted by: U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt

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U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt and Deputy Minister of Interior Eka Zguladze

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt and Deputy Minister of Interior Eka Zguladze at the new patrol police recruitment center

Yesterday I had the opportunity to join Deputy Minister of Interior Eka Zguladze at the new patrol police recruitment center at the Teacher’s House in downtown Kyiv.  The center is at the forefront of the Ukrainian government’s efforts to stand up a new, professional cadre of first responders committed to protecting and serving the public. I was delighted to learn that nearly 4,000 Ukrainians – more than 30% of them women — have already applied to serve their country and their communities as patrol police in Kyiv.

The United States is a proud partner of the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior as it works to stand up this new police force.  Once selected, new recruits will receive training from U.S. law enforcement experts funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.  And as I told the crowd that joined us yesterday, we will be sending our very best trainers to support this critical element of Ukraine’s reform effort.

We all want to see the new patrol police build the trust between law enforcement and local communities that the Ukrainian people want and deserve.  I’m grateful to Deputy Minister Zguladze and Minister Avakov for their leadership, and look forward to the patrol’s first deployment in Kyiv in June.

Interested in learning more about how to be a part of Ukraine’s new police?  Check out http://mvs.gov.ua/mvs/control/main/uk/publish/article/1314915

Posted by: ShareAmerica

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Martin Luther King Jr. dedicated his life to the nonviolent struggle for racial equality in the United States. The third Monday in January marks Martin Luther King Day, a U.S. holiday that honors King’s legacy and challenges citizens to engage in volunteer service in their communities.

Beginning the journey

A two-story yellow house with brown shutters and wraparound porch (National Park Service)

A two-story yellow house with brown shutters and wraparound porch (National Park Service)

Born on January 15, 1929, to a long line of Baptist ministers, King grew up in Atlanta at a time when Jim Crow laws made segregation and discrimination a daily reality for blacks in the South.

King attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he came to view religion as a powerful catalyst for social change. He received his doctorate from Boston University’s School of Theology before returning to the South, where he served as pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.

Today, King’s Atlanta birthplace is registered as a National Historical Site with the National Park Service.

Civil rights struggle in the 1950s

Martin Luther King with hand on boy's shoulder at head of line of demonstrators at street (© AP Images)

Martin Luther King with hand on boy’s shoulder at head of line of demonstrators at street (© AP Images)

King helped organize the Montgomery bus boycott, a yearlong campaign touched off when seamstress Rosa Parks was arrested after refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger. After the Supreme Court overturned Alabama’s bus segregation laws in 1956, King co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and promoted nonviolent action for civil rights throughout the South. He was influenced by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and traveled to India in 1959.

An iconic figure of the 1960s

King seated, looking upward through jail cell bars (National Archives)

King seated, looking upward through jail cell bars (National Archives)

Joining his father as co-pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, King continued to use his oratorical gifts to urge an end to segregation and legal inequality. Throughout the 1960s, he was arrested during nonviolent protests in Alabama, Florida and Georgia. While incarcerated after one such arrest, in 1963, King penned the Letter from Birmingham City Jail, outlining the moral basis for the civil rights movement. That August, he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech to more than 200,000 people gathered on the National Mall in Washington.

King leading throng of marchers across bridge (© AP Images)

King leading throng of marchers across bridge (© AP Images)

March 7, 1965, became known as Bloody Sunday because voting-rights marchers were beaten by state troopers and civilians as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. The violence turned them back, but the ordeal led King to call for another, longer march (pictured) — an 87-kilometer-long, Selma-to-Montgomery march for voting rights.

Civil rights victories

King accepting signing pen from Lyndon Johnson, seated, as others look on (© AP Images)

King accepting signing pen from Lyndon Johnson, seated, as others look on (© AP Images)

In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, which banned discrimination in employment, public accommodations and other aspects of life. King attended the signing of the act into law (pictured). He continued to press for a law to ensure that blacks could not be denied the right to vote by discriminatory practices such as literacy tests, and, in 1965, Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

In the wake of assassination

Martin Luther King's coffin in wagon amid throng of mourners in street (© AP Images)

Martin Luther King’s coffin in wagon amid throng of mourners in street (© AP Images)

On April 4, 1968, King was assassinated on the balcony outside his Memphis, Tennessee, hotel room. At his funeral, thousands of mourners marched through Atlanta behind a mule-drawn wagon bearing his coffin.

In a posthumously published essay titled “A Testament of Hope,” King urged black Americans to continue their commitment to nonviolence, but also cautioned that “justice for black people cannot be achieved without radical changes in the structure of our society.”

King’s legacy: Nonviolent protest

Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King with group of people (© AP Images)

Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King with group of people (© AP Images)

In a 1959 radio address during his visit to India, King said: “Today we no longer have a choice between violence and nonviolence; it is either nonviolence or nonexistence.” His philosophy was inspired by Gandhi’s nonviolent action to end British rule in India. In his turn, King inspired others to change their societies through nonviolent means, from the Solidarity movement’s cracking of Soviet occupation in Poland to Nelson Mandela’s struggle to end apartheid in South Africa.

King’s legacy: Fighting prejudice

Martin Luther King speaking at 1963 March on Washington (© AP Images)

Martin Luther King speaking at 1963 March on Washington (© AP Images)

During the 1963 March on Washington, King declared that all people should be judged “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” The King Center in Atlanta is a living memorial to King’s vision of a free and equal world dedicated to expanding opportunity, fighting racism and ending all forms of discrimination.

King’s legacy: Pursuing social justice

Martin Luther King in shirt sleeves, gesturing dramatically while speaking from the pulpit (© AP Images)

Martin Luther King in shirt sleeves, gesturing dramatically while speaking from the pulpit (© AP Images)

The Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University is home to the King Papers Project, a comprehensive collection of all of King’s speeches, correspondence and other writings. The institute is also involved with the Liberation Curriculum Initiative and the Gandhi-King Community, both of which use King’s life and ideas to connect social activists around the world working to promote human rights.

King’s legacy: Service to others

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama paint Martin Luther King Jr. quotes as part of a volunteer community service project. (© AP Images)

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama paint Martin Luther King Jr. quotes as part of a volunteer community service project. (© AP Images)

In the U.S., Martin Luther King Day is designated a national day of service. Americans are urged to celebrate “a day on, not a day off” in honor of King’s commitment to improving the lives of others. President Obama promotes volunteerism as a way to help meet the challenges facing our world.

Keeping the dream alive

© AP Images

A black man putting his hand on the MLK Memorial, with bowed head (© AP Images)

A national memorial to King was built near the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. The memorial invites visitors to reflect on King’s life and legacy.