Weekly Ukrainian media digest, June 14 – June 20, 2016

June 20, 2016.

Situation in ATO zone

The situation in the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Zone remains tense. Combined Russian and militant troops continue attacks upon the positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. A total of 291 attacks were registered over the past week. Seven Ukrainian servicemen were killed in action over the last week and 28 more were wounded in action.

The most tense situation remains in the Donetsk and Mariupol sectors. In the Mariupol sector, heaviest fighting was observed at strong points near Krasnohorivka, where combined Russian and militant troops were firing from 82-mm mortars, 120-mm mortars, tanks and 152-mm artillery systems. In the Donetsk sector, on June 18, the adversary was firing upon the Ukrainian units stationed in the area of Zaitseve, Novhorodske and Avdiivka using various types of weapons. Ukrainian positions were also being shelled with 122-mm self-propelled artillery systems near Nevelske. (Detailed report in English on the situation in the combat zone over the last day).

Number of attacks, including the ones with the use of heavy weapons, in the combat zone in Donbas increased over the past week, stated OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine Principal Deputy Chief Monitor Alexander Hug.

Liberation of hostages. Ukraine’s representative to the humanitarian subgroup within the Trilateral contact group on settlement of the situation in Donbas and the President’s envoy on peaceful settlement of the conflict in Donbas, Iryna Gerashchenko, sent an appeal to the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier calling for assistance in in order liberate Ukrainian hostages. She also noted, that over the last month not only the security, but also the humanitarian situation in Donbas deteriorated as militants blocked liberation of captives.

According to Gerashchenko, a lawyer was granted access to a Ukrainian citizen, staff member of the UN monitoring mission Yuriy Suprun who is being held captive by the self-proclaimed “DPR” militant group. Gerashchenko added that at the Trilateral Contact Group meeting in Minsk representatives of the occupied areas of Donbas claimed they “have detained Suprun, he is suspected in ‘war crimes’ but failed to explain when they were allegedly committed as he used to work for international humanitarian organizations over the past two years.” She also said Ukraine recalled to the representatives of the occupied areas of Donbas its readiness to exchange 25 Ukrainian hostages in serious medical condition for 50 pro-Russian detainees.

OSCE police mission

The cost of the OSCE police mission in Donbas will be about USD one billion, saidYevhen Marchuk, chair of the security subgroup within the Trilateral Contact Group. He emphasized that currently there is neither understanding nor agreement between the sides as to the mission’s status and functions.

Elections in Donbas

Holding local elections in the territories that are currently controlled by self-proclaimed militant groups “DPR” and “LPR” is unlikely by the end of this year, said Denis Pushylin, representative of the self-proclaimed “DPR” militant group as quoted by the Russian media. “Last week on Wednesday another meeting of the Contact Group and of the four working subgroups took place. Unfortunately, no progress has been achieved in the work of the political subgroup. There is our position and there is a Ukrainian position – they are absolutely opposite ones, we do not succeed in achieving a compromise. That’s why the elections this year are not on the agenda,” said Pushylin quoted by the Russian news agency TASS.

Political statements. Defense ministers of NATO member states approved the Comprehensive Package of Assistance for Ukraine, said Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General following the meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Commission in Brussels. The Assistance Package is to include consultancy and practical aid in areas of command and control, logistics, cyber defense and rehabilitation of wounded soldiers. The aim is to “help Ukraine establish more effective and efficient defense and security structures, and to strengthen civilian control over them. We are also developing new projects, including in the areas of countering hybrid warfare and explosive devices,” said NATO Secretary General. Final approval for the assistance package is expected at the NATO summit in Warsaw.

Human rights: the case of Klykh and the situation in Crimea

Alexei Salov, editor-in-chief of Argumenty Nedeli – Krym, the last reasonably independent media in the occupied Crimea was arrested on June 14. Journalists of KrymRealii say the editorial board of Argumenty Nedeli – Krym was forced to adopt the Russian jurisdiction, a number of propagandist materials have appeared on the web site. At the same time the outlet was actively covering human rights violations of Crimean Tatars and the process of banning their representation assembly Mejlis.Review by the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group.

Additional criminal charges were brought against Ukrainian political prisoner Stanislav Klykh sentenced to 20 years in Russia for alleged participation in the Chechen war alongside Ukraine’s former PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Klykh is now also accused of disrespect towards court. Ukrainian human rights defenders have emphasized several times deteriorating condition of Klykh(including psychological disorder resulting from torture). However, Russian expert assessments rejected these claims. (Statement by the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group in English).

Human rights defenders report on merciless terror against Crimean Tatars on the occupied peninsula. Cases of abduction and people going missing continue in Crimea.Analysis by the Kharkiv Huma Rights Protection Group in English.

Opinion poll: Do Ukrainians wantvisa-free regime and EU membership?

Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation in cooperation with the sociological service of the Razumkov Center interviewed 2009 respondents older than 18 years of age in all regions of Ukraine save Crimea and the occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions on November 14-22, 2015. The theme of the poll was the visa free regime with the EU. Overwhelming majority, namely 56,6 percent agreed that the visa-free regime is important for Ukraine, 33,7 percent of them consider it being “generally important”, 22,9 percent – extremely important, 19,3 percent – of little importance, 17,4 percent – not important at all and 6,6 percent are undecided. Infographics.

A public opinion poll by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology conducted in May 2016 shows that Ukraine’s population has a positive attitude towards the perspective of the country’s EU membership. At the same time the idea of accession to the Customs Union is finding less supporters than before. According to the opinion poll if a referendum on whether Ukraine should join the European Union was held in May 2016, 49 percent of Ukrainians would vote for accession to the EU, 26 percent would vote against, and the remaining 24 percent are either undecided or would not vote. At the same time, the idea of Ukraine’s accession to the Customs Union alongside Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan does not enjoy much support among the population of Ukraine: if respective referendum was held in May 2016, only 16 percent would vote for the accession, 57 percent would vote against, and the rest 27 percent are either undecided or would not participate in the referendum. Polling results in English.

Economy: decrease of the state debt and ProZorro success  

Ukraine’s Gross External State Debt decreased by USD 1,371 billion in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the fourth quarter of 2015 or by 1,2 percent reaching USD 117,358 billion.

Thanks to the e-procurement system ProZorro UAH 217 million of public money was saved as of May 2016 in course of 16,4 thousand tenders conducted, reports ProZorro on the web site.

Arts and culture

Ukraine is part of this year’s edition of the “Biennale Architettura” International Architecture Exhibition in Venice. Ukrainian project “Beyond the Front” is presented in the collateral events program by the Izolyatsia foundation. The project looks at urban life in areas of conflict by juxtaposing government-controlled Mariupol and occupied Donetsk. Read on (in English).

News in English

Reportage

Political prisoners Soloshenko and Afanasyev come back to Ukraine from Russia – Ukraine Today

Freed Ukrainian Political Prisoner: Sanctions Against Russia Must Continue to Free Others – statements of liberated Soloshenko and Afanasyev

National Anti-corruption Bureau arrests 10 high-ranking officials involved in gas fraud – Kyiv Post

Kremlin deploys more tanks to eastern Ukraine – Ukraine Today

Putin discusses Ukraine at Saint Petersburg Economic Forum – Kyiv Post

Ukraine submits papers to Russia for extradition of political prisoner Karpyuk – Kyiv Post

Top 10 latest triumphs of Ukraine – Kyiv Post

Foreigners in service with in Ukraine’s army – Ukraine Today

Putin’s territory in Finland – Ukraine Today

On the way to peace. How ATO veterans are looking for a job. Psychologists say that the Ukrainian combatants, one way or another, suffer from the self-proclaimed “ATO syndrome.” Therefore, after demobilization, it is difficult for the troops to come back to civilian life. For many ATO fighters, socialization means employment. UNIAN report

Pressure on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the occupied Crimea intensifies –Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

Interviews

After Marseille Europe can understand Russian hybrid methods used in Ukraine – Ukraine Today interviews military expert Mykhailo Samus

“France has forgotten that it’s Europe’s indecisiveness during the Georgian war that led to Ukraine conflict” – interview with Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister for European and Euroatlantic Integration

Analytical materials

Russian hooligans at Euro-2016: who are they? – analytical study by Hromadske International

Why the visa-free regime of Georgia and Ukraine with the EU is being postponed? – analytical study by Hromadske International

What is the new Ukrainian identity like? – analytical study by Hromadske International

Why Ukrainians were exchanged for Ukrainians? – Hromadske on the exchange of Afanasyev and Soloshenko

Opinion

What Russian soccer hooligans tell us about Russia – Alexei Bayer’s column, Kyiv Post

Portrait: new faces in office

Human rights defender Valentyna Telyshenko known for Gongadze case takes up the post of Deputy Prosecutor General – Kyiv Post

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