Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
28 July 2015, 7 PM Kyiv time
- Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, the situation at the front has intensified. Towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Stanytsia Luhanska and Shchastya with artillery, tanks and mortars. As a result of shelling by Russian-terrorist forces the power station at Shchastya has been damaged. At Kryakivka, Ukrainian forces repelled an attack by Russian-terrorist forces. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled residential areas of Svitlodarsk with artillery. Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Mykolaivka Druha with tanks and artillery. On the Adviyivka-Maryinka line, battles took place throughout the day yesterday. Near the Donetsk city bypass road, Russian-terrorist forces shelled residential areas and Ukrainian positions with Grads (truck-mounted multiple rocket launchers). Russian-terrorist forces routinely fired with tanks and artillery in this area of the front. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Starohnativka with artillery and Hranitne with mortars. At Shyrokyne, Russian-terrorist forces fired on observers from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission. One observer was injured; he has been released from hospital. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, one Ukrainian soldier was killed and twelve were injured. The press-center of the anti-terrorism operation (ATO) reported that on 27 July, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions 82 times, residential areas of cities and towns 5 times.
- Report from Day 2 of Sentsov-Kalchenko trial in Russia
The trial of Ukrainian filmmaker O. Sentsov and Ukrainian activist O. Kalchenko entered its second day yesterday in court in Rostov, Russia. Both are Ukrainian citizens illegally detained in Crimea in 2014 and illegally imprisoned by the Russian Federation. They face fabricated “terrorism” charges, and face up to 20 years in prison. The international community’s repeated calls for their immediate release have been ignored by the Russian Federation. Halya Coynash from the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) filed a report on the second day of the trial, available here: http://khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1438038773
- 28Savchenko lawyer: Nadiya Savchenko was already detained when journalists were killed
I. Novikov, attorney for Ukrainian pilot and MP Nadiya Savchenko, illegally imprisoned by the Russian Federation, stated that her defense team could prove Savchenko was already a captive of Kremlin-backed terrorists when the two journalists she is accused of killing were killed, but doubted the Russian court would heed their arguments, Reuters reported. Novikov stated that he had phone billing data showing that Savchenko was already a prisoner of Kremlin-backed terrorists when the two journalists were killed. Novikov stated, “According to the billing of Savchenko’s two telephones, the first telephone was registered at the centre of Luhansk at 10.44 hrs,” Reuters reported. The position of the second phone was at a Kremlin-backed terrrorist base and registered at 11.04 hrs, he added. The two Russian journalists were killed in shelling at 11.40 hrs outside Luhansk in June 2014. “If at 10 or 11 hrs she was already in captivity, it completely breaks the Russian version of the deaths,” Novikov said. “The court will rush and restrict the defence. The sentence has already been approved and it will be as hard as possible,” Reuters reported. Savchenko was serving in eastern Ukraine, when abducted by Kremlin-backed terrorists in June 2014 and taken to Russia, where she has been illegally detained and imprisoned since that time. Russia has ignored repeated calls from the international community for her immediate release.
- General Prosecutor of Ukraine: Procedures for trials-in-absentia of 6 former officials have begun
The General Prosecutor of Ukraine, V. Shokin, stated that procedures for trials-in-absentia against 6 former officials – former President V. Yanukovych; former head of the National Bank S. Arbuzov; former Minister of Revenue O. Klymenko; former Minister of Health R. Bohatyriova; former Deputy Minister of Health O. Staschenko, and former Deputy Minister of Revenue A. Ihnatov, have begun. The General Prosecutor stated that the Pechersk District Court has confirmed the legitimacy of the evidence collected by the Prosecutors’ office regarding criminal cases against Yanukovych, Bohatryriova and Ihnatov, allowing for the initiation of special investigation procedures (in-absentia proceedings) against them. The court is due to review the petitions against Arbuzov, Klymenko and Stashchenko soon, Shokin stated. The Prosecutors’ Office is preparing notices of suspicion for Yanukovych and other officials on charges of treason, abuse of power, and creation of a criminal organization.
- US Ambassador to Ukraine: “Ukraine is the front line of freedom in Europe”
US Ambassador to Ukraine G. Pyatt stated that Russia “continues to fuel the conflict” in Ukraine, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). Speaking to journalists in Kyiv with EU Ambassador to Ukraine J. Tombinski, Pyatt stated, “I would underline the stakes for what is happening here. Our principles and shared trans-Atlantic values are at stake in the conflict under way today in Ukraine. The cardinal principle of respect for international borders and territorial integrity has been jeopardized. Ukraine is the front line of freedom in Europe. […]The Kremlin and its proxies are maintaining the capability to continue seeking to grab territory at a time and place of the Kremlin’s choosing. Russian drones are operating over Ukrainian territory every single day. Russian-crewed surface-to-air missile systems are operating on Ukrainian territory,” RFE/RL reported.
- Venice Commission positively assesses Ukraine’s Draft Constitutional Changes on the Judiciary; offers recommendations
In its Preliminary Opinion On the Proposed Constitutional Amendments Regarding the Judiciary of Ukraine, the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission stated that “The proposed amendments are a generally positive text which deserves to be supported. The amendments are well drafted. Their adoption would be an important step forward towards the establishment of a truly independent judicial system in Ukraine. The Venice Commission welcomes in particular: – The removal of the power of the Verkhovna Rada to appoint the judges; – The abolition of probationary periods for junior judges; – The abolition of the ‘breach of oath’ as a ground for dismissal of the judges; – The reform of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the guarantees for its independence (notably the removal of the power of the Verkhovna Rada to express no confidence in the Prosecutor General) and the removal of its non-prosecutorial supervisory powers. […] The text, however, still presents some shortcomings, especially with respect to the powers of the main State organs in this field. If not corrected, these shortcomings might create a new danger of politicization of the judiciary and perpetuate the problems of the current system. In this respect, the Venice Commission formulates the following main recommendations: – While the ceremonial role of the President to appoint judges seems well justified, this is not the case for his power to dismiss judges, which should be removed from the text; – In addition, not only the President, but also the Verkhovna Rada should have a role in the election/ appointment of a limited number of members of the High Judicial Council.”