Ukrainian media digest, October 4-10, 2016

Situation in eastern Ukraine

Situation on the ground. Despite the first successful steps on disengagement of troops in eastern Ukraine, the monitors keep registering attacks and ceasefire violations. Over the last week they registered 278 attacks made by combined Russian-and-militant troops. Two Ukrainian servicemen were killed in action and 14 were wounded in action over the last week.

Over the last day in the combat zone Russia-backed militants opened fire in the Mariupol sector in the area of Maryinka, Hranitne and Pavlopil, using grenade launchers, machine guns, 82-mm mortars and small arms. They also fired 122-mm tube artillery upon Shyrokyne. In the Donetsk sector Ukrainian positions near Novhorodske and Avdiivka came under attack. In the Luhansk sector Russia-backed militants fired upon Ukrainian positions near Tryokhizbenka and Novooleksandrivka from large-caliber machine guns and grenade launchers of various types.

Disengagement of troops: to implement or to suspend? On October 9 the Ukrainian Armed Forces postponed withdrawal of troops and weapons in the area of Stanytsia Luhanska due to militant attacks, reports Ukraine’s Defense Ministry. Over the last week a total of eight attacks took place in this area, last one was registered on October 6. The ministry also reported increase in number of attacks from uncontrolled areas in other sectors. Head of the Luhansk regional civil-military state administration Yuriy Harbuz noted that the risk of losing Stanytsia Luhanska is high. 

Concerning Stanytsia. No decision on suspending the withdrawal of troops has been made,” in such a way Deputy Minister on the affairs of the temporarily occupied territories Heorhiy Tuka commented on the statement by the Head of the Luhansk regional civil-military state administration Harbuz. Deputy Minister said local-level authorities of Luhansk region are spreading a protest attitude among locals. Ukrainians protest against the withdrawal of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, fearing that the territory will be seized by Russia’s proxies.

OSCE. On October 7 OSCE’s special monitoring mission (SMM) confirmed the synchronized withdrawal of troops near Petrivske in Donetsk region. A group of Ukrainian officers from the Joint Control and Coordination Center as well as the monitors of the OSCE SMM will stay on the ground to monitor the situation 24/7.

OSCE SMM reports on restricted access their monitors get to the areas of disengagement of troops and weapons in the area of Pervomaysk / Zolote in Luhansk region as well as in the area of Petrivske / Bohdanivka in Donetsk region. The reasons named for that are lack of guarantees on the part of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and of the militant groups “LPR” and “DPR”.

Demining. Part of the road between Zolote and Pervomaysk in Luhansk region remains mined, reports OSCE. Neither of the sides has conducted demining, parties refer to the information that they did not receive respective orders. Later the Ukrainian Armed Forces said that Ukrainian military cannot be present in the areas of disengagement of troops, demining thus needs to be conducted by the state emergency service. To remind, on October 1 forces were disengaged near Zolote, according to the framework agreement OSCE was supposed to get free and secure access to the area.

Torture in “LPR”. Human rights defenders spoke about the slave labor and torture applied to prisoners in “LPR”. According to the data released by the Eastern human rights group, as of September this year over five thousand people are serving their term in prison in the “LPR”-controlled areas. In the government-controlled part of Luhansk region the only detention center is located in Starobilsk while nine detention centers are located in the occupied part of the region. Three more detention centers in the occupied areas of Luhansk region have been closed due to combat actions or reorganized into militant deployment bases.

According to human rights defenders serious human rights violations including violence and slave labor are being applied to prisoners in the occupied areas.

Human rights: Sushechnko’s case and 10 years since the murder of Anna Politkovskaya 

Ukrainian journalist Roman Sushchenko detained on September 30 in Moscow was charged with spying by the Russian investigation authorities. According to his lawyer Mark Feygin, the journalist has not not pleaded guilty and is not going to speak to investigation authorities as he was not granted a chance to talk to the lawyer and agree his position.

Over the first day of his detention Sushchenko was provided neither with food nor with water. Until now representatives of Ukraine have not been granted a chance to visit the detained Ukrainian. Ukrainian Consul will be let see him only on October 14. At the same time Head of the journalists’ union of Russia sent a letter to the director of the Russian Security Service asking him to explain the details of arrest of the Ukrainian journalist.

In France where Sushchenko worked as an Ukrinform special correspondent a series of rallies took place demanding freedom to the journalist. Sushchenko went to Moscow to visit his relatives.

On October 7 Russia commemorated Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya killed in Moscow 10 years ago. Despite the huge public attention to the case and the time that has passed the contractor of the murder has not been identified. Politkovskaya was severely criticizing the politics of the current President Vladimir Putin, she was murdered on the day of his birthday. 

Crimea: problematic water supply and doubtful harvest records  

Russian Minister of natural resources and ecology Sergey Donskoy said that Russia would not be able to establish stable water supply to the peninsula until 2019. He also ordered to the self-proclaimed Crimean authorities to reinforce control over water consumption that is currently “as precious as gold”.

After the annexation of the peninsula by Russia in 2014 Ukraine stopped water supply to Crimea. It was exactly from the mainland Ukraine that 85 per cent of fresh water was coming to the currently occupied peninsula. Self-proclaimed prime minister of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov stated that farmers on the peninsula had collected record-breaking crops of wheat, developed infrastructure and increased supplies to other regions of Russia. However the occupational authorities have not published any statistical data to support the statement, there is also no confirmation of the fact from alternative sources.

Opinion polling. Level of support to political parties, September 2016

Kyiv International Institute of Sociology published results of the opinion poll conducted among 2,040 respondents in 110 cities and towns across Ukraine but Crimea.

Should the elections to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine have taken place in the end of September, seven political forces would have entered the parliament based on the party lists. Ranking of the President’s party Petro Poroshenko Bloc has considerably lost its positions compared to 2014, while Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna party as well as the Opposition Bloc (former Party of Regions) have considerably improved their positions in the ranking.

Should those who did not make up their mind have not come to vote, 41 per cent of voters would have taken part in the elections, and the votes casted would have been split in such a way:

  • 15,4 per cent would have voted the all-Ukrainian union “Batkivshyna” party (during the elections of 2014 5,7 per cent of voters voted the party);
  • 14,5 per cent would have voted Petro Poroshenko Bloc (21,7 per cent in October 2014);
  • 13,1 per cent would have voted the Opposition Bloc (9,5 per cent in October 2014);
  • 10,3 per cent would have voted “Samopomich” union (11 per cent in October 2014);
  • 9,6 per cent would have voted Oleh Lyashko’s Radical Party (7,5 per cent in October 2014);
  • six per cent would have voted the “Hromadyanska pozytsia” (civic position) party, (3,1 per cent in October 2014);
  • 5,3 per cent would have voted “Za Zhyttia” (for life) party, (newly established political force that did not exist in October 2014).

Culture: Ukrainian documentaries released in cinemas

Ukrainian documental film-making is on the rise. Screening of documentaries is moving from festivals and independent film clubs to cinemas across Ukraine.

Thus, documentary “The Living Fire” by Ostap Kostyuk is currently on in Ukrainian cinemas. Trailer. The movie documents traditions of Carpathian shepherds and tells the stories of local men of three generations. Over the past two years the film was travelling across international film festivals and was awarded with special jury’s awards at the Odesa International Film Festival as well as at the Hot Docs Canadian international documentary film festival.

Second Ukrainian documentary on show in Ukrainian cinemas is “Reve ta Stohne on tour” by Ukrainian film director and producer Nadia Parfan. The film crew travels together with Ukrainian band “Reve ta Stohne” that heads to Poland to become rock stars and make their dream come true. Trailer.

Our selection of Ukrainian media in English

Reportage  

”A step towards ceasefire: forces disengaged in one more Donbas area” – Ukraine Today (photos)

“Red Cross is helping frontline cities and villages of Donbas” – Ukraine Today

“What rise of Poroshenko’s son, Oleksiy, says about father’s ways” – KyivPost as part of the Oligarch Watch project

“All In The Family: The Sequel” – KyivPost on Poroshenko as part of the Oligarch Watch project

”Which EU commercial ships still go to Russian occupied Crimea?” – Ukraine Today

”173 Ukrainian troops killed in Donbas in 2016 – official statistics” – Ukraine Today

”Russia directly finances occupied Donbas – ex-‘DPR’ official” – Ukraine Today

”Ukrainian Parliament in session on visa regime with Russia” – Ukraine Today

”Ukrainians lodge 2,000 individual complaints against Russia with the European Court of Human Rights – Justice Minister” – Ukraine Today

”Insurance medicine in Ukraine to be introduced in 2017” – Ukraine Today

Interviews

”Normalization with Russia not an Alternative to Good Relations with Ukraine” – interview with the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey by Hromadske International

”Refugee Theatre” at the Gogolfest” – interview by Hromadske International with Ayham Majid Agha, Syrian stage director of the “Skeleton of an Elephant in the Desert” play

”Polish film on Volyn massacre was released in Poland” – interview by Hromadske International with Dariusz Stola, Polish historian, director of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews

”The World Bank’s USD 500 Million Loan to Ukraine, Explained” – interview by Hromadske International with Satu Kahkonen, World Bank Country Director for Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine

Opinions

“Nina Jankowicz: Ukraine’s soldiers tell their stories of bravery at ‘Me, Veteran’ performance”KyivPost

“Alexei Bayer: Putin’s test for Hillary Clinton” – KyivPost

”Halya Coynash: Russian activist detained and savagely beaten for picket in memory of Anna Politkovskaya” – KyivPost

”Death and taxes here and there – politycal analyst Oleksandr Khara on latest corruption scandals” – Ukraine Today

“Analyst Oleh Belokos reveals Putin’s plans for Russia, Ukraine and Europe” – Ukraine Today 

Analytical materials

“Full black list of vessels by country which violated Crimea sanctions” – Ukraine Today

“Effectiveness of maritime sanctions against Russia-occupied Crimea” – complete report by the NGO “Maidan of Foreign Affairs”, Ukraine Today

”Ukraine’s parliament, once more, falls short on reform legislation” – KyivPost

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