Ukrainian Diary – digest of the most important news over the past week (audio)
Situation in Ukraine’s East – Weekly Review
The situation in the counter-terrorism operation zone remains tense, but under control of Ukraine's Armed Forces. Since Wednesday night in the Donbas, Russian-backed militants have breached the armistice 15 times. As a result of hostilities, one Ukrainian soldier has been injured. According to Andriy Lysenko, Defense Ministry spokesman, for the past week the Mariupol sector has been the hotspot. “The most disturbing environment has been around Vodiane. There, the enemy has fired in our positions with big-caliber machine guns, and released four 82-mm mines. The enemy forces have also shelled near Hnutove, Lebedynske and Talakivka using small arms and grenade launchers. In addition, the militants have opened fire twice with 120mm mortars against the residential area of Vodiane, where 4 mortar heavy shells have been directed to,” - Andriy Lysenko said.
In the Luhansk sector, militants have fired in Ukrainian positions near the villages of Krymske and Hirske. Near Novotoshkivske, there have been bombardments with small arms and grenade launchers. Near Troitske, the enemy has released 20 shells of HRAD multiple rocket launcher.
In the Donetsk sector, separatists have attacked the Ukrainian army near Avdiivka using grenade launchers. Militants have been also active near the village of Pisky, where they have fired grenade launchers and infantry fighting vehicle armaments. The OSCE special monitoring mission states that there were about 130 bombings in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions within the period from the 23rd to 24th of October. Also in the Donetsk region, Russian-backed militants threatened the patrol of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission with a big-caliber machine gun. The incident happened on Wednesday morning. The OSCE patrol consisting of two armored vehicles and six observers was stopped by armed men near Verkhnioshyrokivske, controlled by the militants. “When the patrol was waiting to go through the checkpoint and continue to move eastward the uncontrolled areas by the Ukrainian government, the mission saw a partially covered big-caliber machine gun. Two men in military uniform approached the machine gun, reloaded ammunition and directed it onto the first car of the SMM patrol, and then they repeated this action,” – as observers say. The SMM observers left the area and continued to move into areas beyond the control of the Ukrainian government, as they had planned.
Also, according to Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service, the 70th so-called “humanitarian convoy” from the Russian Federation invaded the temporarily occupied territories of the Donbas. The truck column crossed the Ukrainian-Russian border at the checkpoints “Donetsk” and “Matvieev Kurhan”.
Deadly Blasts in Kyiv
On Wednesday evening, an explosion occurred nearby the Espreso TV channel in one of the residential districts of Kyiv. As a result of it, five people were injured. Among the victims was a member of parliament from the Radical Party Ihor Mosiychuk and political analyst Vitaliy Bala. Two more died, including a deputy's body guard, 30-year-old Ruslan Kushnir. Also, 36-year-old Mykhailo Mormel died from an injury. In fact, he was just a passer-by, who was heading home.
Serhiy Kniaziev, head of the National Police, said on Thursday that the criminals remotely turned on an explosive device mounted on a motor scooter parked near the explosion scene.
The equivalent of an explosive device was, according to the preliminary information, about 400-600 grams of TNT, which is quite a lot. According to explosive technicians, it was a self-made explosive device, possibly based on a car signal sound system. The explosion has been classified as a terrorist act. The investigation is being conducted by the Chief Directorate of Ukraine’s Security Service in Kyiv and region. Several versions of the explosion in Kyiv are currently under consideration. This is according to Pavlo Kononenko, first deputy prosecutor in Kyiv. “There are several versions of this crime. The first one is an attempt to kill Mosiychuk, that was organized by the security services of the Russian Federation. We will talk about actual doers only when we define the criminals. The second version is the political activity of Mosiychuk, his public position in the domestic life of our state. And the third version is the attempt to kill Mosiychuk on a personal ground. At the same time, the investigation does not reject other versions. There was also a political analyst Vitaliy Bala at the scene. We cannot help consider this version as well. There could be some problems with him. And we cannot reject the version of an attempt to kill any public or political figure who could be at the Espreso.tv channel at that time,” - said Pavlo Kononenko.
Ihor Mosiychuk is currently in a difficult condition after the surgery. There are no threats to his life. Political analyst Vitaliy Bala, who was next to him, got more severely injured. He is now after the surgery as well.
Russia Released Crimean Tartar Leaders - Ilmi Umerov and Akhtem Chyihoz.
Russia released two illegally sentenced by the occupational authorities in Crimea deputy heads of the Mejlis, Ilmi Umerov and Akhtem Chyihoz, on Wednesday evening, by sending them to Turkey. According to Refat Chubarov, Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, only a very strong pressure on Russia forced Putin to agree on the release of Ilmi Umerov and Akhtem Chyihoz.
Ilmi Umerov was sentenced to a 2-year imprisonment, allegedly because of public appeals to violate Russia’s territorial integrity. Akhtem Chyihoz was sentenced by a Russian court to an 8- year imprisonment. After the annexation of Crimea, the Russian authorities recognized the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people as an extremist organization and banned its operation. He was arrested in January 2015 for participating in a rally in support of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. And on the 9th of October, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko announced an agreement with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to coordinate actions to protect the rights and freedoms of Ukrainian citizens in the occupied Crimea. “It is clear that many people have been involved to release Ilmi Umerov and Akhtem Chyihoz - from the president of Ukraine and the presidents of other countries, the leader of the Crimean Tatar people Mustafa Dzhemiliev and the leadership of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people to relatives and lawyers of Ilmi and Akhtem,” as Refat Chubarov said. According to him, the former hostages are to arrive in Kyiv on Thursday.
“We understand why they were released through Turkey. To show here, that this is done not for the sake of Ukraine, but of Turkey. This is such a Russian tactic. But moving them beyond Crimea means that they are banned to return to their home now. That means a liberation with a prohibition to live in Crimea. So, Ilmi Umerov and Akhtem Chyihoz will work in Kyiv until we all come back home, to the liberated Crimea,” - said Refat Chubarov.
Petro Poroshenko already talked to the released political prisoner. “Today, for millions of Ukrainians who fought, prayed for your release, is an extremely happy day. Not only your families, relatives, the President, the Crimean Tatars, but also all Ukraine is celebrating today as a great holiday,” - Petro Poroshenko said. “I believe that today you have given hope not only to those who fought for your liberation, but to all the Crimean Tatars - that the truth will win anyway, and that we will return Crimea. And that Ukraine will recover, and that we will definitely be together,” - the President summed up.
The European Union called the release as a “good news” and appealed to Russia to release all illegally detained citizens of Ukraine. This is according to the statement by the spokesperson of the EU External Action Service. The United States Embassy also called on the Russian Federation to release Ukrainian political prisoners, as noted in the US Embassy to Ukraine Twitter page. The message reads: “Congratulations on the release of Ilmi Umerov and Akhtem Chyihoz! Russian occupiers now have to release other Ukrainian political prisoners”.