Situation in the combat zone
OSCE monitor killed. On April 23 the vehicle of the OSCE patrol hit a mine in Luhansk region (a video from the site of explosion). The incident took place in Pryshyb village controlled by “LPR” militants. One monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission was killed, two more were wounded. The killed OSCE staff member was a U.S. citizen, the wounded staff are of German and Czech nationality. The wounded monitors are recovering in the hospital of the occupied Luhansk, reported Alexander Hug, Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (OSCE SMM) to Ukraine.
“LPR” militants say that the OSCE vehicle hit a mine “while on detour from the main route, the vehicle was moving along the side roads”. “We emphasized to the OSCE SMM several times that safety measures should be respected when moving along the routes,” militants added. Later militant leaders accused the Ukrainian Armed Forces of staging a subversive act. The ATO Staff rejected the accusations.
Ukraine’s representative to the humanitarian subgroup within the Trilateral Contact Group on the settlement of the situation in Donbas Iryna Gerashchenko is of the opinion that militants blasted the OSCE SMM patrol in order to stop the mission’s work and to impede its intentions to increase the number of monitors. Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Ministry released a statement in which they also assumed that the incident might have come as an attempt to intimidate the monitors. The Ministry called on Russia to stop provocations and guarantee safety to the monitors. The President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko stated that Ukraine condemns the acts on the part of militants that impede the work of the OSCE SMM. The mission’s safety and freedom of movement need to be guaranteed.
Christine Muttonen, Head of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, called to hold a detailed investigation into the incident.
New Russian equipment in Donbas. Russia has been using its main combat tank T-90 and its modifications in Donbas, the model comes as the most powerful armor piece in service with the country’s ground forces, reports Bellingact in its new investigation. A recognizable particular detail of the T-90 tanks is the “glowing eyes” on the turret. These “eyes” are the electro-optical interference emitters of the Shtora-1 active protection system, intended to disrupt the guidance systems of anti-tank guided missiles, the report says. The open-source investigators have analyzed the videos from Donbas that registered the tanks.
Life in “DPR” and “LPR”
Lenin’s birthday. On April 22 communists held a traditional event in Donetsk to mark the 147th anniversary of Vladimir Lenin’s birthday. Just a few people came to the city’s central square with flowers and flags. They laid flowers to the monument. The event lasted for 10-15 minutes, then the square emptied.
The fight against corruption: arrest of high-level official Mykola Martynenko contextualized
Who is Martynenko? Mykola Martynenko is an ex-MP who was part of the Parliament for six convocations, head of the fuel and energy parliamentary committee and a close ally of the former Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. After the victory of the Orange Revolution Martynenko became head of the pro-presidential parliamentary faction Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defense (Nasha Ukraina – Narodna Samooborona). In November 2014 Martynenko was elected MP from the People’s Front (Narodnyi Front) party. Mykola Martynenko became the third high-level politician to follow the fate of Oleksandr Onyshenko and Roman Nasirov, who, despite being direct partners of the actual authorities, were charged by the newly-established anticorruption agencies.
The charges. The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (an equivalent to the Prosecutor’s Office) charged him with corruption. Ukrainian law enforcement has now put forward their charges as well. In 2016 Martynenko resigned, he was also stripped off the immunity. It happened after Serhii Leshchenko, MP and former journalist released the documents that gave grounds to charge Martynenko with money laundering and accepting a bribe.
Head of the Specialized Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office Nazar Kholodnytskyi said that Martynenko is suspected of having embezzled over $17 million of public money. The deal was made through the Austrian firm STEUERMANN Investitions und Handelsgesellschaft mbH.
The Austrian firm increased the price one and a half times to have earned over USD 17 million on it. The deal was struck with third parties (firms) involved, it is actually what Martynenko is being charged with.
His former business partner David Zhvania said that STEUERMANN Investitions und Handelsgesellschaft mbH is owned by Mykola Martynenko.
Next steps. Solomyansky district court of Kyiv ruled to release Martynenko on bail guaranteed by a minister and several MPs of the People’s Front party. Investigation into the case continues.
Human rights: arrested Crimean Tatar is on hunger strike for 20 days
On April 4 Crimean Tatar Ruslan Zeitullaiev arrested in Crimea in January 2015 went on hunger strike. Zeitullaiev was detained in January 2015 and charged with establishing a local representation of the Hizb ut-Tahrir organization (banned in Russia). Prosecutors asked for 17 years of imprisonment to Zeitullayev.
His current weight is 55 kg, due to the lack of energy the prisoner could not speak while standing, he was allowed to speak seated on the dock.
Not a single international organization or a representative of an international media has responded yet to the call of Ukrainian human rights defenders to monitor this proceeding. The sentence to Zeitullaiev will be announced on April 26.
Reforms in Ukraine: mistrust to the government increases
According to the public opinion poll commissioned by several international organizations last year, half of Ukraine’s population was convinced that “the decrease in tariffs for public utilities will become an indicator of reforms implementation by the government”. In May, the government has to convince the Parliament and the wider society in the necessity to have the pension and land reforms implemented. People have trust neither in the President, nor in the Parliament. Another opinion poll by Ratinggroup puts in the spotlight the fact that the majority of the population expects the state “to become more responsible for human lives” as well as “to increase its share in business and industrial production”.
Economy: worst times are left behind
The Polish-based Centre for Eastern Studies released a report on Ukraine’s economy three years after Euromaidan. The economic statistics for 2016 indicate that Ukraine has managed to overcome the toughest phase of the economic crisis. For the first time in four years, the Ukrainian economy recorded a positive growth rate of around 2 per cent, the report says. This is due to the reforms launched in the first months following the Euromaidan and of the implementation of the reconstruction programme under pressure from Western lenders, mainly the International Monetary Fund and the EU (full text of the report in English).
Culture: rethinking Chornobyl at the festival of cinema and urbanism
On April 28 – May 2 Slavutych, a city near Chornobyl, will host the Festival of documental cinema and urbanism “86”. The name of the event refers to the year when Slavutych was founded. It started being built for people relocated from Prypyat – Chornobyl’s neighboring city, after the disaster at the nuclear power plant. “Chornobyl is a topic to be rethought. We would like to shift the attention from the past to the future: from Prypyat to Slavutych,” explains the idea co-founder of the festival Nadia Parfan. The program consists of film screenings, artistic projects that work with space and the musical bloc.
Slavutych’s cityscape comprises 13 quarters each of which is named after the city – within the Soviet Union or of the Soviet Bloc, that supplied professionals to help construct it. As part of the festival a new urban space will be set up – “14th quarter” in partnership with Greek artists and urbanists. The film program comprises the international and national competition blocs that are centered around the life in urban space. Vitalii Manskyi, documentary film director, will chair the jury of the national competition program called “The Palm of the North”. Much awaited comes the film bloc “MyStreetFilms: The Frontier” that comprises documentaries with plots focused on Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
Sports: Ukraine wins four medals at the judo tournament
Ukrainian national team won four medals (two gold medals, one silver and one bronze) and finished third along with Georgia at the European Judo Championships.
Sixteen-year-old Daria Bilodid (48 kg) – whose performance became a sensational discovery and Georgiy Zantaraya (60 kg) won gold medals. Svitlana Yaremka (78 kg) won the silver medal, men’s team took the bronze.
It became the first precedent for Ukraine’s national judo team to win four medals at the tournament.
Our selection of English-language materials by Ukrainian media
”Kremlin’s hybrid tactics and the International Court of Justice” – Bohdan Petrenko’s column for UNIAN
”Fighting against corruption, how Russia influences the EU and the International Court of Justice” -the Sunday Show at Hromadske International