Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
21 August 2015, 7 PM Kyiv time
- Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported that Russian terrorists instigated attacks against Ukrainian troop positions in Prokhorika, Starohnativka, Lebedynske and Bohdanivka. Towards Luhansk, the section of Zolote-Popasna-Troyitske contact line saw the most attacks, while Pervomaysk and surrounding area witnessed Russian terrorists firing from Grad (truck-mounted multiple rocket launchers) and 152mm howitzers on Ukrainian positions. “Enemy mortar shelling took place near Bolotene five kilometres from the Ukraine-Russia border,” reported ATO spokesperson Colonel A. Lysenko. In the Donetsk sector, the ceasefire has been stable in the Svitlodarsk, Horlivka and Dzerzhynsk areas however the frontline from southern Horlivka to Donetsk has been tense. Russian terrorist forces conducted four massive artillery attacks on Ukraine’s defensive lines near Troyitske, Novobakhmutivka, Novoselivka Druha and Kamyanka. In the Mariupol sector, Russian terrorist forces used long-range artillery and the hotspot in the region was a 10-kilometer-long section north of Starohnativka. No Ukrainian troops were killed and two Ukrainian troops were wounded in the past 24 hours.
- SBU thwarts plan to create Mykolayiv People’s Republic
Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) arrested pro-Russian separatists who plotted to create a self-declared “people’s republic” in Mykolayiv region, spreading anti-Ukrainian propaganda materials on the eve of Ukraine’s Independence Day (Aug 24). The separatists stated that this was done “under direct order of Russian security services.” Ukrainian law enforcement detained a number of individuals for passing information on Ukrainian forces activities to the terrorists, a Russian terrorist informer and an artillery spotter in the Luhansk region. Police discovered an arms cache close to Starobilsk, which contained an anti-tank guided missile, a machine gun, 1,500 rounds of ammunition of various calibers, 250 grenade launchers, a mine and three machine gun belts which were seized. Law enforcement staff also seized grenades, ammunition and a grenade launcher.
3.Russia’s Sentsov – Kolchenko case – “an absolutely Stalinist trial”
Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov and civic activist Oleksandr Kolchenko face a 23 year sentence and a 12 year sentence, respectively, in a court case where no crimes have been committed and evidence has been obtained through torture. Human rights activist Zoya Svetova compared the charges to Stalinist repression rather than a court trial. “On August 19, 2015 I saw a totally Stalinist trial. Sentsov is being charged with leading a ‘terrorist organization’ and Kolchenko is charged with participation in it as well as being involved with a firebomb attack on a pro-Russian organization active in helping Russia seize control of Crimea in 2014. The final hearing on Wednesday August 19, 2015, saw the defence read a statement from Afanasyev which said that he was tortured into testifying against Sentsov. The confessions and testimonies are the only sources upon which the charges are based. On August 19, the Memorial Human Rights Centre issued a statement recognizing Afanasyev as a political prisoner.
- Russia refuses to switch Savchenko’s trial venue to Moscow
The trial of illegally kidnapped Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko will take place in the city court of the Russian town of Donetsk, in the Rostov region. The request by Savchenko’s lawyers to switch her trial venue to Moscow was rejected by the Russian authorities. Mark Feygin, one of her lawyers, said that Russian Donetsk court officials did not want to hear her case. “Nothing new – Savchenko’s case will be considered in (Russian) Donetsk. She will be found guilty, and then they (Russian authorities) will start playing a ‘prisoner-swap-game’. Everything goes as was predicted” tweeted Feygin.