Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing – 29 April 2014

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Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing

29 April 2014

1. Kremlin-backed “separatism” in Eastern Ukraine

The situation in several cities in eastern Ukraine remains very tense. Kremlin-backed “separatists” continue to occupy several government buildings and police headquarters in several cities in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. In Slovaynsk, as of 6pm Kyiv time, Kremlin-backed “separatists” continue to hold hostage a group of seven German-led unarmed military inspectors from OSCE-participating states, together with five Ukrainian armed forces officers, which were taken hostage on Friday. “Separatists” seized the Luhansk Oblast State Administration building on 29 April, and there are reports that the city hall in Pervomaisk, Luhansk oblast, has also been seized by “separatists.” The Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that 14 people were hurt when pro-Russian supporters of “separatism” attacked a pro-Ukrainian unity rally in Donetsk on 28 April. The US Embassy issued a statement regarding the attack, “The United States is disgusted by last night’s savage attack on the peaceful pro-unity demonstrators in Donetsk, including many women and children…We also condemn the separatists’ taking of hostages, both Ukrainians and international monitors, some of whom have been brutally beaten…we call on all who hold sway with these armed groups, including the Russian Federation, to arrange for an immediate cessation of all violent acts and the release of all hostages.”

2. Assassination attempt on Kharkiv Mayor H. Kernes

Kharkiv Mayor H. Kernes, against whom an assassination attempt took place yesterday, was flown to Israel for further surgeries. According to doctors his condition remains critical. The Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that their investigative team has found the weapon that was likely used in the assassination attempt.

3. Discussions on Constitutional Changes in Ukraine

An open hearing on questions regarding changes to Ukraine’s constitutional changes took place on Tuesday in Ukraine’s parliament. Acting president O. Turchynov stated that the main questions that need to be addressed are greater decentralization of power to local government; balance of powers between the branches of government; an independent judiciary; and ensuring civic control over the work of the government. Prime Minister A. Yatseniuk stated that as part of Constitutional changes, oblast and raion (district) state administration bodies should be eliminated, and heads (governors) of oblasts and heads of district should be elected positions, and regional governments should gain more powers over budgets and economic development. Yatseniuk stated that a draft of the new Constitution should be developed and reviewed (in particular, by the Venice Commission), before the presidential elections on 25 May.

4. Possibility of all-Ukrainian referendum

The leader of the Batkivshchyna faction in Parliament, S. Sobolev, stated on Tuesday in Parliament that a working group has been formed in order to develop a draft bill on holding an all-Ukrainian referendum on 15 June (which would be the same date as a possible runoff second round in the presidential election). He stated that the draft law could be put before parliament during the week of 11 May. He stated that the proposed question should be developed by representatives of all parliamentary factions. Sobolev stated that the Batkivshchyna faction proposes the following question – “Do you support a united, unitary Ukraine with a maximum expansion of the authority for local self-government?”

5. Turchynov addresses nation on state of security organs in eastern Ukraine

Acting president O. Turchynov addressed the nation on Tuesday, stating that “the events in the east of our country have shown the inaction, helplessness and sometimes the criminal treason of representatives of law enforcement structures in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. This is one of the main reasons for the low effectiveness and low results of actions of Ukrainian law enforcement organs in the fight against terrorism.” He stated that new heads of departments of the State Security Service (SBU) in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts have been appointed and demanded that the Ministry of Internal Affairs dismiss the heads of the Oblast departments of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. He stated that the government will have no choice but to carry out a complete renewal of the police and SBU cadres in the east. He stated that the Ministry of Internal Affairs and SBU will open hotlines for the recruitment of new personnel into law enforcement units in the east; “in the first place, this regards those who have experience of service in law enforcement organs and the Armed Forces

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