Ukraine

Europe's 'last dictatorship' finally bans cannabis cultivation

Posted on January 12th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

EuropeFrom Russian state media outlet Sputnik comes the surprising news that Belarus has banned cannabis cultivation with a Dec. 31 decree from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection. The surprise isn't that growing was banned—but that it hadn't been banned already. The former Soviet republic's best claim to fame is as "Europe's last dictatorship." Strongman Alexander Lukashenko has been in power for over 20 years now, resorting to probable fraud and definite repression to hold on to the presidency. After Lukashenko was accused of stealing the 2010 elections, there was a popular protest movement, put down wth mass arrests—with the opposition candidate himself sentenced to prison for inciting riots! No surprise that Lukashenko was "re-elected" with virtually no opposition in 2015. In last September's parliamentary elections, a few opposition candidates were for the first time allowed to take seats, leading some Belarus-watchers to hope for a "thaw." But Lukashenko is still running a very tight ship. Not exactly the kind of place you'd expect to be cannabis-friendly.

Crimea: geopolitical flashpoint ...and hippie haven

Posted on March 19th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

CrimeaAll eyes are on the Crimean Peninsula, which has just been annexed by Russia after a popular vote to secede from Ukraine. Potential flashpoints for escalation, with very ominous implications for world peace, include the fate of the Crimean Tatar ethnic minority and the thousands of Ukrainian military troops that remain in the territory. But Crimea, with its agreeable climate (by Russo-Ukrainian standards), has also long been a hippie haven. Since 2007, "Fairy Town" festivals have been held several times each year in different parts of Ukraine, mostly Crimea. These events, on the model of the Rainbow Gatherings and Burning Man in the USA, are organized by a group calling itself the Rainbow Academy, based in the Ukrainian capital Kiev and the local Crimean capital Simferopol. And while Crimea's Black Sea coast is now more famous for the Russian naval fleet based there, it also hosts numerous nude beaches that have long been a magnet for Ukrainian and Russian hippies and self-styled Slavic Rastafarians. It will be interesting to see if these ecstacy-seeking bliss bunnies will continue to have a haven as Crimea is contested by rival powers—or, if some of the more activist-oriented Crimean hippies can play a role as peace-makers, advocating ethnic co-existence. We'd love to hear from any contacts in the Rainbow Academy...

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