Ukrainian media digest, May 24-30, 2016  

May 30, 2016.

Situation in the Antiterrorist operation zone
General Staff reports escalation of the situation in eastern Ukraine. Russia-backed militants used mortars and multiple rocket launchers a number of times (rocket launchers included 152-mm artillery and Grad systems). Last week Ukrainian troops suffered significant losses. Sixteen Ukrainian servicemen were killed in action and 39 were wounded in action in the ATO zone over the last week. A total of 230 attacks upon Ukrainian troops were registered going out of the occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Donetsk sector, namely Avdiivka, remains the hottest spot.

Russia has supplied ammunition to militants deployed to the areas near Yasynuvata and Spartak. Ukrainian intelligence registered eight trucks with 82-mm and 122-mm mortar mines prohibited by the Minsk agreements. The trucks also contained ammunition for hand-held antitank grenade launchers.

Russian “humanitarian convoy” consisting of 114 vehicles arrived into the occupied territory of Donbas on Thursday morning. Same as before the trucks arrived half-empty, reported press-secretary of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine Oleg Slobodyan.

Political statements: when the fire will be ceased? At a joint press-conference with the Prime-Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras President Putin claimed that prior to ceasing fire in Donbas decentralization of Ukraine needs to be conducted, the law on the special status of Donbas and on amnesty for militants needs be adopted. Fire in Donbas will not stop until Ukraine’s Constitution is amended.

This comment completely contradicts the Minsk agreements, first clause of which actually provides for the ceasefire. “Putin publicly threatened Ukraine to continue military provocations until Moscow’s scenario on separating Ukraine is implemented,” noted Oleksandr Turchynov, Head of the National Security and Defense Council. In his opinion Moscow has thus demonstrated that it is not going to implement the Minsk agreements.

President Poroshenko commented on the statement of the President Putin. “Yesterday in a comment Putin said that we have to conduct the so-called ‘political settlement’, hold elections and then we should deal with ceasing fire and restoring the control (at the Russian-Ukrainian part of the state border). This is their understanding of the scenario under the barrel of a gun of Putin’s special operation forces. He is saying: ‘how is it possible to stop them if they open fire from time to time?’ It is very simple because fire is opened by the soldiers of the Russian regular troops and by their mercenaries who are acting in full compliance with orders of Russian commanders,” said Poroshenko.

Alexander Hug, First Deputy Chief of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine is of the opinion that it is possible to cease fire in Donbas by separating the troops of the conflict sides. He said OSCE may take up the initiative but both sides will need to reach the agreement. Moreover Hug is of the opinion that the sides of the conflict have to decide themselves what the priority sites for withdrawal of troops will be.

OSCE police mission. Ukrainian authorities keep communicating their vision of the OSCE police mission. OSCE police mission in Donbas will need to comprise thousands of policemen, said Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Minister Pavlo Klimkin. The number depends on the mandate, weapons in service and deployment places of the mission’s policemen. He said Russia is trying to decrease the number of policemen to the minimum. “I very much hope that the OSCE SMM will be able to fully monitor the border and will have full access as well as control over the sites where the equipment will be stored,” said Klimkin.

OSCE police mission will be stationed on the contact line, will take under control warehouses with the weapons that are to be withdrawn to the Russian Federation and will put its patrols at all border crossing points in order to prevent from coming new units of the Russian troops, inflow of ammunition, weapons and return of the militants-mercenaries,” said President Poroshenko. He emphasized that elections in Donbas are possible in accordance with the Ukrainian legislation, with presence of international observers, with Ukrainian parties campaigning, when safety of the election process is provided and Ukrainian media are granted access.

Human rights
Supreme Court of Chechnya sentenced Ukraine citizens Mykola Karpyuk and Stanislav Klykh to 22,5 and 20 years respectively, the terms are to be served in colonies of the strict regime, said Illia Novikov, lawyer of the Ukrainians. They are accused of taking part in combat actions in Chechnya in the 90s and in killing Russian servicemen. Moreover they were subject to torture during pre-trial detention. Their lawyers intend filling an appeal and a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights.

Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Minister hopes for successful agreements with Russia on release of two more Ukrainian political prisoners held in Russia – Yuriy Soloshenko and Gennadiy Afanasiyev. Both have serious health problems.

Ukraine’s Minister of Justice Pavlo Petrenko does not rule out an opportunity to lodge the next, sixth appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against Russia. We are accumulating the materials on Donbas, and the ECHR has thus decided to split the cases (on Crimea and Donbas) into separate ones. Petrenko also reminded that Ukraine is preparing the fifth appeal to the ECHR on illegal ban of Mejlis of the Crimea Tatar people by the Russian side.

Delegation of the UN subcommittee on prevention of torture stopped its visit to Ukraine after it was denied access to several sites across the country where according to their suspicion staff of Ukraine’s Security Service deprive the people of freedom, reports the website “Information center on human rights”. “This denial of access is in breach of Ukraine’s obligations as a State party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture,” said Malcolm Evans, head of the delegation. In his turn Yuriy Tandit, Advisor to the Head of Ukraine’s Security Service, said that he is not in a position to comment on the statement by the UN representatives. He said the service was granting access to UN representatives to the places stipulated by the law. The delegation was let see over 600 people suspected in having committed the crimes against Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Investigation of corrupt schemes
Former Deputy Head of Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) Viktor Trepak said that he had passed “black bookkeeping” documents of the Party of Regions to the National Anticorruption Bureau. Documents confirm illegal cash payments in the amount of USD 2 billion. Law enforcement agencies can confirm systematic organized corrupt activities that were held based on the well-known political party and aimed at seizure of power and its illegal use. Among the actors that these materials mentioned are high-level officials, ministers and heads of agencies, MPs, politicians, public actors, representatives of international organizations, judges including high-level ones. Representatives of many political parties both coalition members and those in opposition received bribes. Head of the Anticorruption Bureau Artem Sytnyk confirmed that the bureau had received the documents.

Savchenko about her future, Minsk, Tymoshenko and presidential ambitions: 5 statements of the first press conference held on May 27, 2016

Nadiya Savchenko gave her first press conference (except for her approach to the press at the airport and a joint conference with President Poroshenko). Journalists had the opportunity to ask all the questions that interested them. Full version of conference.

About presidential ambitions. “Ukrainians, if you need me as president, I will be your president.” “I love my job, I like to fly – and yes, I want and would like to fly. But I will be there where it is required and I will do what is useful for Ukraine.”

About Tymoshenko, “Batkivshchyna” and parliamentary work. “I am thankful to “Batkivshchyna” for putting me on their party list when I was imprisoned. I wish other parties also entered at least one political prisoner in their lists to show that these people, who are heroes in Ukraine, are imprisoned in Russia.

“I know two structures from within: the army and prison. First what I will do – a committee or a special commission for control. As a member of the committee I will deal with the army, logistics, and other issues. I know what is happening at the forefront. I know all the corruption in the army. There will be a commission to investigate and fight it.”

About the Minsk agreements and elections in Donbas. “I would not say that I consider them quite effective. It is good that they put out the flame, which at that time was burning and was very painful for everyone. Shooting decreased. Thank Minsk agreements for this. In fact, for this I am thankful to people who began thinking before pulling the trigger.”

About the war. “Names are given by politicians. But no matter how we may call the war, its essence does not change. This is a Russian-Ukrainian war. This is not a civil war. The enemy is Russia. There are opponents – those fooled by Russia, called separatists or militants. And there is enemy. It is Russia.”

About “Savchenko’s law.” In prison, Savchenko initiated a law by which one day of a preliminary detention is equal to two days of enduring the main punishment. Under this law, many people were prematurely released from Ukrainian prisons. “I will not initiate repeal of the law. It is right.” “Those for who prison is home, will return to it. If people are imprisoned too long, the prison will turn normal people into the criminals.”

Poll
According to a recent research conducted by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation, the majority of Ukraine (61%) defines the political situation in Ukraine as tense, 30% – as critical. Only 4% consider the situation as calm and only 0.4% – as successful. However, compared to July 2015, a feeling of the situation as “critical” decreased by 7%, and a feeling of the situation as “tense” increased by these 7%.

The main feelings of people when they think about the future of Ukraine are as follows: in May 2016 – hope (35%) and anxiety (39%); anxiety prevails in all regions. When compared to December 2015, the following feelings increased slightly: confusion (from 18% up to 21%), fear (from 15% up to 20%) and pessimism (from 9% up to 15%); optimism decreased slightly (from 19.5% down to 15.5%).

In May 2016, 36% of the population believe that soon mass protests are possible in their town (village), (8% of them are sure of this, and 28% consider it probable). Instead, 35% consider mass protests unlikely in the near future, and 18% are sure that no protests will happen. Last year, in July 2015, the expectation of protests was lower – 26.5%.

Trust in public institutions is very low. Confidence in the President continues falling: 40.4% of the population does not trust the President at all; 29.7% mostly do not trust; 18.5% mostly trust; and only 4% of the population fully trusts him; 7.3% are undecided. But the credibility of the Verkhovna Rada with the people increased by 10% over the past six months: (in December 2015, distrust of the VR was 75%, in May 2016 – 65%). 55.4% of the population mostly trust the armed forces of Ukraine, (52.6%) trust the National Guard, (59.8%) – Church, (55.6%) – volunteers.

According to the results of the study conducted by the Kyiv International  Institute of Sociology, 60% of Ukraine’s population take a negative view of appointing Yuriy Lutsenko (the former leader of parliamentary faction “Poroshenko Bloc”) as Prosecutor General of Ukraine. 20.3%  take a positive view of this appointment.

Іnformation broadcast in Eastern Ukraine
Ukrainian IT Company developed an information map of mass media of Donetsk region. It reflects the prevalence of media in the region. Internet resource shows data on broadcasting zone and location of transponders of 14 Ukrainian national TV channels, 14 local, 23 Russian,and  4 regional TV channels, that broadcast in the territory not under control. The map lists 43 Ukrainian publications that are distributed in the territory under control, and 15 local publications that are distributed in the territory not under control. Besides, there is a list of 50 local Internet media with pro-Ukrainian content, 56 anti-Ukrainian portals, as well as 36 groups with pro-Ukrainian content in such social media as Facebook, “Odnoklassniki”, “Vkontakte,” and 82 groups with anti-Ukrainian content in “Odnoklassniki”, “Vkontakte.”

Arts and culture
Ukrainian pavilion in Paris will present the country’s visual arts, literature, music and films on June 8 – July 10. The initiative is part of the “Banks of Europe” project called to familiarize France with contemporary arts of the countries participating in EURO-2016. Braty artistic duo and Mykyta Kravtsov reflect on Ukraine’s cities with collage technique and graphics respectively. Visual arts will be represented by genres ranging from caricatures to photographs. Audio visual program is to comprise Ukraine’s video art, animation and short films. Irena Karpa, Kateryna Babkina and Halyna Shiyan will read their literary pieces. On June 11 music band “Reve ta Stohne” will play a concert on the bank of Seine. Within the project each country will create a fresco, Ukraine’s Serhiy Radkevych will focus on the country’s modern-day context. Detailed info in English.

“Our National Body” is a project by the Polish Arsenal gallery that sees Polish, Ukrainian and Russian artists reflecting on the themes of national identity and self-perception. Taras Shevchenko’s National Museum will host the works in Kyiv on June 1-22 after they’ve already been on show in Poland. Ukrainian artists participating in the project include David Chichkan, Vlada Ralko and Mykola Ridny.

Ukrainian Sinoptik music band won in the Global Battle of the Bands international competition. Sinoptik originates from Donetsk, later moved to Kyiv. The trio plays a mix of classic and psychedelic rock and indie.

News in English

Video

«Savchenko  Came Back in Ukraine» – Hromadske’s video from «Boryspil» airport

«Speech of Savchenko in the Presidental Administration on May 25, 2016» – Hromadske’s video with English subtitles

Reportages

«After 708 days in captivity Savchenko is back in Ukraine» – Ukraine Today’s report

«Soldier’s return to the frontline despite leg amputation» – Ukraine Today’s report

«NACB received documents on Party of Regions’ $ 2 billion graft schemes» – KyivPost’s report

«Chechen court sentenced Karpyuk and Klykh to 22 and 20 years in jail» – Ukraine Today’s report

«A Russian dissident faces persecution in Ukraine» – KyivPost’s report

Interview

«The Russian strategy in Crimea» – Hromadske International’s interview with human rights activist Maxym Butkevych

Opinions

«Ukrainians need to know about tortures prisoners go through in Chechnya» – Musa Lomayev’s letter to Ukraine Today’s editors. A former prisoner in Chechnya talks about his experience

«Russia’s war against Ukraine helps revive NATO alliance» – Brian Bonner, KyivPost’s editor’s note

«Savchenko and the coming autumn»: Mychailo Wynnyckyj’s note, KyivPost

Analysis

«Cyborgs vs Kremlin» – Ukraine Today’s analytical dossier dedicated to the second anniversary of  Battle for Donetsk airport

«Pressure on business has decreased – a business ombudsman» – KyivPost

Where is Russia’s ‘Minsk Implementation’ while so many Ukrainians remained imprisoned? – Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

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