Friday, January 30, 2015

Crisis in Ukraine - Savchenko, Crimean Tatar victims of Russian repression

Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
30 January 2015, 8 PM Kyiv time

1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that Kremlin-backed and led terrorists have deployed significant forces towards Debaltsevo and Vuhlehirsk, Donetsk oblast. Kremlin-backed terrorists continue to shell Ukrainian positions with artillery, mortars, grenade launchers, tanks and Grads (truck-mounted multiple rocket launchers). The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, 5 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 23 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded. The RNBO reported that Debaltsevo remains under control of Ukrainian forces, but is regularly being shelled by Kremlin-backed terrorists. The heaviest fighting is near Vuhlehirsk, where Kremlin-backed terrorists carried out intense artillery and mortar shelling and have attacked Ukrainian positions. At 6 PM Kyiv time, the press-center of the anti-terrorism operation (ATO) reported that there is intense fighting in Vuhlehirsk, and that Kremlin-backed terrorists control only parts of the city. The press-center of the ATO reported that throughout the day Ukrainian forces killed 30 Kremlin-backed terrorists; 69 Kremlin-backed terrorists have been wounded. The RNBO reported at 3:40 PM that Kremlin-backed terrorists fired shells into Donetsk city. At least 7 civilians have been killed. “In this way, representatives of terrorist gangs are trying to derail peace talks, which are being planned in the format of the Trilateral Contact Group.”

2. NATO Secretary General Annual Report: 2014 was a black year for European security
NATO Secretary General J. Stoltenberg issued his Annual Report 2014. He stated, “2014 was a black year for European security. […] Our security environment has changed fundamentally. To the South, violent extremism is at our borders, spreading turmoil across Iraq and Syria and bringing terror to our streets. To the East, Russia has used military force to annex Crimea, destabilise eastern Ukraine, and intimidate its neighbours. These threats challenge the international order we have built since the fall of the Berlin Wall – an order that embodies our democratic values and is vital for our way of life. […]In 2014, Russia and Russian-backed separatists began a campaign of violence aimed at destabilising Ukraine as a sovereign state. Russia's aggressive actions disregard international law and violate security arrangements and commitments that Russia has made, including the Helsinki Final Act. Russia's recent actions have fundamentally challenged the vision of a Europe whole, free and at peace and are a threat to security and stability in Europe and beyond.” The full report is available at

3. New charge filed against Nadiya Savchenko

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported that on 29 January, the day after the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) called for the Russian authorities to release Nadiya Savchenko “within 24 hours and to ensure her return to Ukraine or to hand her over to a third country,” her lawyer, I. Novikov, stated that a new charge has been filed against Savchenko – illegally crossing the border. Savchenko was also transferred to Moscow’s infamous Matrosskaya Tishina detention center (where anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky was killed in 2009), because of what “Novikov cited medical personnel as saying was abrupt weight loss.” Savchenko has been on a hunger strike since mid- December in protest of her illegal detention by Russia. Savchenko, a Ukrainian pilot, MP and PACE delegate, while serving in eastern Ukraine, was abducted by Kremlin-backed terrorists in mid-June and taken to Russia, where she has been illegally detained and imprisoned since that time.

4. Crimean Tatar leader arrested

The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) stated that Akhtem Chyyhoz, Deputy Head of the Mejlis (representative assembly of the Crimean Tatar People) was arrested by the illegal Russian occupying authorities in Crimea for ‘organizing and taking part in mass disturbances.’ “The move is one of truly unprecedented cynicism.  Not only is there video footage demonstrating that Chyyhoz tried to calm protesters, but the demonstration in question took place on Feb 26, 2014, the day before Russian soldiers seized control and weeks before Russian illegally annexed the peninsula.  This is the latest of many repressive moves against the Mejlis, and Crimean Tatar in general under Russian occupation. […] The question in one report on the arrest of Akhtem Chyyhoz seems all too bitterly obvious: after 11 months of Russian occupation, who will be the next victim of repression?” KHPG stated.

5. US Mission to OSCE: Treatment of prisoners is further example of Russian-backed separatists’ disregard for human decency
On 29 January, at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, US Ambassador to the OSCE D. Baer stated, “We are appalled by recent reports that the Russia-backed separatists have beaten, tortured, and subsequently publicly paraded Ukrainian security forces captured at the Donetsk airport. The detainees were forcibly dragged to the site of the trolleybus bombing in Donetsk, where they were forced to ask the public for ‘forgiveness.’ The separatists took pictures of the captured soldiers and posted them all over the Internet. We condemn these actions. They are further examples of the Russia-backed separatists’ blatant disregard for human decency, as well as the commitments they made in Minsk. […]Since December, Russia has transferred hundreds of pieces of military equipment to Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, including tanks, armored vehicles, rocket systems, heavy artillery, and other military equipment. In mid-to-late January, Russia deployed into eastern Ukraine advanced surface-to-air missile and antiaircraft systems, marking the highest level of Russian air defense presence in eastern Ukraine since September 2014. […] As a result of Russia’s actions, the separatists now have a fighting force that includes hundreds of tanks, armored vehicles, heavy artillery pieces, and other military vehicles, and they are using this assistance from Russia to attack not only the Ukrainian forces, but innocent civilians. Russian military forces still operate in eastern Ukraine, where they play a coordinating role and provide command and control support to pro-Russian separatists. […]We again renew our call to Russia to end its support for the separatists immediately, allow effective OSCE monitoring of the Ukraine-Russia border, return control of Ukraine’s side of that border to Ukraine’s government, withdraw all weapons, fighters and financial backing from the separatists, release all hostages, and bring the occupation of Crimea to an end. Otherwise, U.S. and international pressure on Russia and the separatists will only increase.”

6. US Secretary of State to visit Kyiv on 5 February
US Secretary of State J. Kerry will travel to Kyiv on 5 February. He will meet with Ukrainian President P. Poroshenko, PM A. Yatsenyuk, Foreign Minister P. Klimkin, and members of Ukrainian Parliament. The visit “will highlight the United States’ steadfast support for Ukraine and its people.” Kerry will then travel to Munich for the Munich Security Conference (6-8 February).

Taras Zalusky, Executive Director
Ukrainian Canadian Congress
(613) 232-8822

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