Ukraine: Daily Briefing – October 3, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
October 3, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time
Canadian soldiers and Ukrainian soldiers during Operation UNIFIER training exercises, Yavoriv, Ukraine
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed or wounded in action. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions near Avdiivka, Horlivka and the Donetsk airport. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions near Pavlopil, Vodyane and Shyrokyne with high-caliber machine guns and grenade launchers. Russian-terrorist forces shelled residential areas of Maryinka with grenade launchers. Towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Krymske. At Stanytsia Luhanska, Russian-terrorist shelled Ukrainian positions with grenade launchers.
2. Political prisoner Oleg Sentsov faces reprisals and transfer to notorious prison at hands of Russian authorities
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “Prevented by international scrutiny from using physical force against Ukrainian filmmaker and Kremlin hostage, Oleg Sentsov, Russia is resorting to other forms of reprisals.  It seems likely that the long and arduous transfer to a notorious prison in Kharp in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug is one such method, as is the failure to hand Sentsov the very many letters he is sent from all over the world.
           Russian human rights defender Zoya Svetova has published a letter Sentsov wrote to her on September 17, from the Tyumen SIZO [remand prison].  As reported, Sentsov was first taken, without any explanation, from the Yakutia prison where he had been held, at the beginning of September.  The process of transfer is always gruelling and dangerous, since family and lawyers have no information about the person’s whereabouts and cannot intervene if ill-treatment is suspected. […]
            [Sentsov wrote,] ‘Nobody touches me physically, of course, but you understand very well that this system can punish in perverted fashion and torture, without using brute force. But never mind, it will all be good!’
           He has long not written, he explains, because of his mood.  He is not succumbing to depression or gloom, he stresses, but he is not a sociable person […] He has held on to all old letters, which he has to take with him on this cruelly arduous series of transfers. […]
           The punishment for international attention and consequences is evident.  After Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin tried to telephone Sentsov, the latter was placed in a punishment cell. […] This is not, [Sentsov] stresses, a reason to do nothing. [Sentsov wrote,] ‘You at liberty can do whatever you consider necessary in my defence or that of other prisoners. Just be aware that local law enforcers have their own logic in their heads, and they often react like this.’
           He acknowledges that the journey is threatening his health but insists that this is no reason for any public hysteria. [Sentsov wrote,] ‘I am not the only person imprisoned, there are a lot of us, and my circumstances are far from the worst.’
3. US deeply troubled by Russia’s conviction of Crimean Tatar leader Ilmi Umerov
The US State Department stated, “The United States is deeply troubled by the September 27, conviction and two-year prison sentence for Crimean Tatar leader Ilmi Umerov in Russian-occupied Crimea. He was convicted for his opposition to Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea and given a harsher sentence than the Russian occupation prosecutor requested.
           This compounds past injustices in the case, including his confinement for several weeks of punitive psychiatric treatment in 2016. We call on the Russian occupation authorities to immediately release Umerov and vacate his conviction. Crimea remains an integral part of Ukraine, and the United States remains steadfast in its support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.”
4. Ukraine Turns to Blockchain to Boost Land Ownership Transparency
Bloomberg reported, “Ukraine will use blockchain technology to manage its registry of farmland, saying its current system is vulnerable to fraud that leads to conflicts over ownership. The move will increase transparency and boost trust in the registry, First Deputy Agriculture Minister Maksym Martynyuk said at a news conference in Kiev on Tuesday. […]
           Land reform is one of the requirements of the International Monetary Fund,  Ukraine’s biggest creditor, which has held back payments from a $17.5 billion bailout as the country has failed to meet terms. The government says establishing a comprehensive, transparent and secure registry is necessary to proceed on one element of the overhaul, lifting a ban on the sale of farmland. […] ‘Land reform is a formation consisting of many bricks,’ Martynyuk said. ‘And this is one of the important bricks.’
           Blockchain, the technology that underpins virtual currencies, allows users to make simultaneous changes to databases across a distributed network, which could allow land-registry entries made in one location to be immediately visible across the system, adding to transparency.
           Ukraine’s government picked BitFury Group Ltd, which produces equipment for mining virtual currencies, to launch a platform for registering land titles.”
5. Politico speaks with former high-ranking security officials about West’s policy towards Russia
Politico recently spoke with 10 former US and European high-ranking security officials about what the West’s policy should be towards an aggressive and revanchist Russia. View the interviews here:

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