Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing – 24 March 2014

Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing

24 March 2014

1. Situation in Crimea

The National Security and Defense Council announced that it has ordered the Ministry of Defense to evacuate Ukraine’s armed forces from Crimea, and relocate them on the mainland. The Council also ordered the Cabinet of Ministers to evacuate the families of servicemen, and all those “who have been forced from their home under pressure and aggression of the occupying Russian forces.” The marine base at Feodosia was stormed and taken over in the early morning by Russian troops. The Ukrainian naval ship “K. Olshandsky” is being stormed and has reportedly been taken over by Russian forces as of 18:00 Ukraine time.  2 of the hostages released on March 20 gave interviews from the hospital where they are staying in Kherson. They were brutally tortured by their kidnappers while being interrogated. According to reports there are at least 11 activists, soldiers or military commanders still missing in Crimea.

2. G7 leaders meet to discuss situation in Ukraine

G7 leaders are meeting on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands to discuss the situation in Ukraine. President Obama stated that the US and EU are united in their support for the Ukrainian government and Ukrainian people, and on imposing a cost on Russia for its actions.

3. General Prosecutor – Kurchenko being investigated for organizing “titushky”

The General Prosecutor of Ukraine is alleging that Ukrainian oligarch and Yanukovych ally S. Kurchenko, for whom an arrest warrant has been issued but whose whereabouts are unknown, was the head of a criminal organization that was responsible for financing the activities of pro-Yanukovych plainclothes thugs– so-called “titushky” – during the Euromaidan protests. The Prosecutor alleges that there were over 20 members of Kurchenko’s group, and that they included high-ranking officials in the former government – including the  ministers of  Revenue, Energy and Coal trade, Economic Development and Trade, Infrastructure, Internal Affairs, and Security Service.

4. State Security Service – “Diversionary” Group apprehended in Odessa

The State Security Service of Ukraine reports that a “diversionary” group of 4 men was apprehended in Crimea, with automatic weapons. Their goal was to attack an army post in Odessa, and they were planning to organize mass unrest to foment separatism. According to the Security Service the “head of the group was in contact with representatives of the Russian special services in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.”

5. National Television and Radio Council brings case against Russian TV channels

Ukraine’s National Television and Radio Council announced that it will bring a case to the Higher Administrative Court as to whether Russian broadcasters in Ukraine are broadcasting according to Ukrainian legislation, and whether there are instances in their broadcast of incitement of ethnic hatred, calls for war or separatism.

6. Ministry of Justice asks for review of judges

Minister of Justice P. Petrenko appealed to the Higher Council of Justice and the Higher Qualifications Commission to review the work of judges that took part in political repressions during the Euromaidan protests.

7. Fitch downgrades rating of several Russian companies

Fitch has downgraded the rating of nine Russian companies’ outlooks on Sovereign Action from “stable” to “negative.” Included in the downgrading were Gazprom, Lukoil, and Atomenergoprom. The announcement comes as several analyses point to the fact that the Russian economy is heading into recession.

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