Weekly Ukrainian media digest, July 19 – 25, 2016

Situation in ATO zone

The situation in eastern Ukraine remains complicated. Over the past week, the Ukrainian side recorded 457 attacks from the occupied territories. As a result of hostilities, 17 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 43 wounded.

On Sunday, July 24, Russian occupation troops used 122-mm artillery, according to the press center of the ATO headquarters. Most attacks were recorded in the Mariupol sector (Novohryhorivtsi, Talakivka, Vodiane, Starohnativka, Shyrokyne, Krasnohorivka, and Maryinka), where militants used 122-mm artillery, 82 and 122mm mortars, anti-aircraft installations, and heavy machine guns. In the Donetsk sector, it was restless in Avdiyivka, Novoselivka Druha, Opytne, Nevelske and Butivka coal mine where Russian occupants used 120 and 82-mm mortars, grenade launchers of various systems, heavy machine guns and small arms. In the Luhansk region, occupants fired on Ukrainian positions in the vicinity of Orikhove.

New war tactics.  One of the reasons for the increased Ukrainian losses in the ATO zone is that the adversary uses long-range drones to adjust the artillery fire, stated Yevhen Marchuk, Ukraine’s representative in the security subgroup within the Trilateral Contact Group for Donbas conflict settlement, former head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and ex-Defense Minister. “They have already begun to use long range drones, which adjust even artillery bombardment. This is one of the reasons for the increased number of casualties. Artillery bombardments are not as massive, but very short, very fast and very accurate,” noted Marchuk.
Exchange of prisoners.  Another exchange of prisoners was a failure. Ukrainian citizens, who were taken captive by militants in Donbas, have been transferred to a detention center, where they are threatened with 30 years imprisonment. This was reported by Iryna Gerashchenko, First Deputy Speaker, Ukraine’s representative in the humanitarian subgroup. On July 19, Gerashchenko noted that representatives of “ORDO” (newly introduced notion for certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions) turned down the proposal of the Ukrainian side to exchange hostages on a “25 to 50” scheme.

Martial law – discussions.  On July 19, NSDC Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov stated that in case of aggravation of military situation on the boundary line, his department would consider declaring a state of martial law.
At the same time, according to numerous experts, the imposition of martial law will mean unprecedented restriction of people’s rights and freedoms, suspension of investments, and breakdown in the Minsk process. According to military expert Igor Koziy, Turchynov’s statement, nothing other than a politician’s statement and the imposition of martial law makes no rational sense.

Elections in the occupied territories of Donbas. The leader Igor Plotnitskiy of the self-proclaimed “Luhansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) announced the decision to reschedule the “local elections 2” in the occupied parts of the Luhansk region from July 24 to November 6. Earlier, the head Alexandr Zakharchenko of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) rescheduled “local elections” from July 24 to November 6. Militants have repeatedly rescheduled the date of their “local elections”.

The occupied Crimea
Over two years, 602 foreign vessels visited Russia-occupied Crimea: most ships- violators have Russian registration, but European ships also trade with Crimea, according to the reportage of the program “Scheme”.  It was found that 24 ships entered Crimea under the flags of EU countries, 43 are registered in the EU, and 22 belong to the beneficiary of the EU.

Moscow Patriarchate religious procession goes to Kyiv
The Orthodox religious procession organized by the UOC-MP has been moving across Ukraine for the second week. Believers formed two columns: one started in western Ukraine in Pochayivska Lavra, the other – in Svyatohirska Lavra in eastern Ukraine. They plan to meet in Kyiv On July 27 and go to Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra.

The Divine Liturgy is to be held there on the next day. Explaining the purpose of the action, Metropolitan Onuphrius, UOC MP Primate, said that the church is greatly concerned about the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine.

At the same time, opponents of the procession insist that, on the contrary, organizers aggravate the situation and split the country. “The Main Intelligence Department of Ukrainian Defense Ministry confirms the information of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) that Russian intelligence agencies are going to use the Cross Procession to destabilize the situation in Ukraine.  According to our information, these actions aim at radicalization of inter-ethnic hate and aggravated social and religious tensions,” reported Vadym Skybytskyi, representative of the Main Intelligence Department of Ukrainian Defense Ministry at a briefing in Kyiv on Friday. Russian special services are going to organize provocations against participants of the procession.

In Kyiv, the volunteer movement OUN was going to impede the procession and prevent it from entering Kyiv, but city officials did not allow  OUN activists, who intend to prevent participants of the UOC MP “cross procession” from entering Kyiv, pitch tents on Zhytomyr highway.
About 4, 500 police officers will ensure security of the participants of the UOC MP “cross procession”, stated Head of the National Police of Ukraine Khatia Dekanoidze.
Metal detectors and passport control points will be established in Kyiv for the participants of the Cross Procession of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate  , said Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko. According to Lutsenko, together with Head of the National Police, Khatia Dekanoidze, and Head of SBU, Vasyl Hrytsak, they developed common decisions necessary to ensure law and order during the procession.

Economy: UNDP about Donbas economy
In 2015, military operations in Donbas resulted in massive business closures and curtailing of industrial production by 34.6% and 66%, respectively, in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. This was reported by the press service of the United Nations Development Programme with reference to the results of the study of entrepreneurship development problems in Donbas. This study reveals that in 2014, the decline in industrial production in Donetsk and Luhansk regions was 31.5% and 42%, respectively. From September 2014 to September 2015, the number of economically active population reduced by more than 50% in both regions. In 2015 as compared to 2014, real wages decreased by 10% in Donetsk region and by 28% in Luhansk region.

Culture: Mural and cooperation with Poland
Over the last three months several dozen new murals have sprung up in Kyiv, Odesa and Chernihiv. The works have been created by Ukrainian and international street artists as part of the Mural Social Club project initiated by NGO Sky Art Foundation. The project is focused on promoting street art, particularly in the peripheral areas. Among the artists involved in the project are foreign artists such as Li-Hill (Canada), Rodrigo Branco (Brazil), Millo (Italy), Borondo (Spain), Fikos Antonios (Greece), Zio Ziegler (USA) as well as Ukrainian artists – Aec Interesni Kazki, Roman Minin Serhiy Radkevych and Sasha Korban. 80% of the murals were created in residential areas of the cities. Photo

Ten Ukrainian artists participated in  ”From a common root” Poland-Ukraine art residence. The project was organized by art institutions in Ukraine and Poland and supported by the diplomatic missions of both countries. The artists were living and working in the town of Klementowice.  They participated in a series of workshops and meetings with their Polish colleagues. The project is focused on rethinking the past and developing the new common models of socio-economic and cultural cooperation.

News in English

«Who was Pavlo Sheremet?» – Ukraine Today
«Last respect paid to Pavlo Sheremet in Belarus» – Hromadske International
«New evidence of Russia’s presence in Donbas» – Ukraine Today
«Ukrainian Olympic Team is leaving for Rio»– KyivPost
«Russia illegally explores natural resources in Ukraine’s marine economic zone» – Ukraine Today

«Turkey’s coup attempt: Implications for Ukraine and EU» – Ukraine Today’s interview with Bohdan Yaremenko, Ukrainian diplomat, former Ukraine’s consul to Turkey
«Ukraine and Poland debate Volyn tragedy» – Hromadske International’s interview with Polish historian Lukasz Adamski
«Ukraine makes first step towards reforming its judiciary» – Ukraine Today’s interview with Vice President of Ukrainian National Bar Association Valentyn Gvozdiy.

«Warning for everyone seeking changes» – Vitaly Sych’s opinion of journalist Pavlo Sheremet’s murder
«Poroshenko creates his own ‘family’ clan» – Sergii Leshchenko’s opinion

«What does Pavlo Sheremet’s murder mean?» – expert discussion by journalists at Hromadske International studio
«First 100 days of Prime Minister Groysman – achievements and failures» – KyivPost