Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing – 17 May 2016, 6 PM Kyiv time

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Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
17 May 2016, 6 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported that yesterday towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Troykhizbenka. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces carried out heavy shelling of Ukrainian positions at Avdiyivka with artillery, mortars and tanks. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Dokuchayevsk with mortars and fired on Ukrainian positions along the entire Mariupol sector of the front. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and five were wounded in action.
2. UNHCR documents increasing persecution of Crimean Tatars over last two years
R. Colville, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, stated, “Over the past two years, we have documented increasing persecution of Crimean Tatars. Members of the Mejlis, the representative body of the Crimean Tatar minority community, and their supporters have been intimidated, harassed and jailed, often on dubious charges. We are deeply concerned by the ban imposed on the Mejlis by the so-called ‘supreme court’ of Crimea on 26 April. We fear that the designation of the Mejlis as an extremist organization by the ‘court’ will leave Crimean Tatars even more exposed to human rights violations and collective punishment. Since April 2014, Crimean Tatars have been subjected to arbitrary searches, seizure of books and arrests. Allegations of ill-treatment have largely gone unaddressed by the de facto authorities. […] Most recently, the ‘police’ arrested two Crimean Tatars in Krasnokamenka on 18 April and four in Bakhchisaray on 12 May. They were charged for alleged membership of an extremist organization that is banned in the Russian Federation, but not in Ukraine. Fourteen people in total, mostly Crimea Tatars, are currently in custody in Crimea awaiting trial for their alleged membership in the organization. Four were arrested in 2015, and so far ten have been detained in 2016. […] We remind the Russian Federation, which exercises de facto control over the territory of Crimea, that they have a duty to ensure that the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples are respected, and that they are not subjected to discrimination and harassment. We also urge the authorities to immediately lift the ban on the Mejlis, and to ensure that the freedoms of expression, information, peaceful assembly, religion or belief for all the people of Crimea are upheld.”

3. Atlantic Council: Jamala’s Eurovision victory reminds Ukraine to take Cultural Diplomacy Seriously
Writing for the Atlantic Council, K. Smagliy, director of the Kennan Institute’s Kyiv Office, wrote, “Jamala’s win and her powerful song about persecution and the abuse of Crimean Tatars has filled our hearts with pride and solidarity. It also reminds us that culture is a powerful instrument for building trust, understanding, and peace. […] Artists can often repair what politicians fail to achieve. With just one sincere and deeply moving song, Jamala succeeded in what European and Ukrainian leaders have been struggling to do at various international conferences and diplomatic negotiation tables. She united Europe in its support of Ukraine and Crimean Tatars and reminded global audiences that Crimea is Ukraine. […] With Jamala’s incredible victory, Ukraine’s political class should again be reminded that culture plays a tremendous role in promoting the country’s position among global players and boosting economic growth. Ukraine should not lose the drive. Civil society and individual artists cannot substitute for the government’s policy and cultural diplomacy institutes. That task can be implemented by Ukraine’s statesmen alone.” The full article is available at http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/jamala-s-triumph-at-eurovision-reminds-ukraine-to-take-cultural-diplomacy-seriously


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