Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
30 October 2015, 7 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported that yesterday Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions near Shyrokyne, Zolote and Maryinka. Two Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in a tripwire mine explosion during de-mining operations near Stanytsia-Luhanska, Luhansk oblast.
2. Explosion at munitions depot in Svatove
An explosion at a munitions depot in Svatove, Luhansk oblast killed one civilian and one Ukrainian soldier. 4 Ukrainian soldiers and one civilian were injured, the Ministry of Internal Affairs stated. There were about 3500 tonnes of ammunition at the depot. Several buildings were damaged, and the population of the city was evacuated. Ukraine’s Defense Minister S. Poltorak stated that according to preliminary findings, the explosion was the result of “diversionary actions by the enemy with the goal of destabilizing the situation in the region.”
3. Director of Ukrainian Library in Moscow could get 5 years in prison for holding “anti-Russian” book
After armed Russian OMON (special police of the Ministry of Internal Affairs) raided the Ukrainian Literature Library in Moscow on 29 October, Library Director N. Sharina has been charged with “inciting national enmity or hatred, and also denigrating human dignity,” which can carry a sentence of up to 5 years imprisonment. According to the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG), the charges stem from the presence in the library of a book by Dmytro Korchynsky, designated as “extremist material.” KHPG stated, “Tatyana Muntyan, who works in the Library, told UNIAN’s Moscow correspondent that the investigators had planted the book by Korchynsky allegedly found. […] It is a particular irony that the book in question is by Dmytro Korchynsky who is fairly widely regarded in Ukraine as a provocateur. Both he and his organization Bratstvo were suspected of taking part in many protests, including at the beginning of Euromaidan, aimed at provoking a police crackdown.” Sharina remains in police custody. KHPG’s full report is available at http://khpg.org.ua/en/index.
4. Ukraine’s debt restructuring settled, no deal reached on Russia-held bonds
On 29 October, Ukraine’s Ministry of Finance stated that Ukraine’s debt restructuring, including the delivery of new Ukrainian sovereign securities to holders, is expected on12 November. The Ministry stated that “The only series of Ukrainian bonds which did not approve the terms of the restructuring, and whose holders will accordingly be ineligible to receive new sovereign securities on the settlement date, is the December 2015 USD3bn bond.” This is a bond issue held entirely by Russia. On 29 October, the Wall Street Journal reported that “the U.S. and other Western shareholders are preparing next month to change the [IMF’s] lending policy so the IMF can move ahead with its Ukraine loan program even if Kyiv defaults on its loans to Russia.”
5. US Ambassador to Ukraine: Prosecutor General’s office must stop undermining reforms
US Ambassador to Ukraine G. Pyatt stated, “Ukraine’s two wars go on. The war against a determined aggressor in the East. Against a relentless propaganda machine. And, less visible but arguably even more insidious, on the home front, the war against corruption, the central battlefield in the struggle between Old Ukraine and New Ukraine. […] Ukraine’s Prokuratura must abandon the Soviet legacy of political control and corruption which has allowed the powerful – including those in government – to get away with influence peddling and human rights abuses. These acts of impunity undermine the rule of law and Ukraine’s future place in Europe’s community of free, prosperous, democratic nations. […] the Prosecutor General’s office must stop undermining reforms, stop protecting corrupt prosecutors within its ranks […] and stop blocking criminal investigations into bribery, graft, and political dealing. The United States is committed to supporting an effective Prosecutor General’s Office which Ukrainians can trust to defend their rights. To get there, we need honest partners who are committed to the rule of law. […] the United States, with our European partners, is supporting independent, merit-based testing of procuracy candidates. […]Government officials must redouble their efforts to listen to their constituents and provide opportunities for them to be part of the process. Civil service reform is absolutely crucial, because a society and government that pays its civil servants less than a living wage is essentially expecting them to engage in corruption. This is a heavy lift. As part of the battle between Old Ukraine and New Ukraine, Ukraine is undertaking difficult, life-changing, future-changing reforms to how officials are chosen, how they do their work, and to whom they are accountable. This is happening in every ministry, in every city and town, and in every organization. But the justice sector is the central battlefield in this struggle. Without genuine reform here, other reforms will falter.” Ambassador Pyatt’s full remarks are available athttp://ukraine.usembassy.gov/
6. Atlantic Council on the Militarization of Crimea under Russian occupation
In The Militarization of Crimea under Russian Occupation, published 29 October by the Atlantic Council, “Crimean activist Andrii Klymenko explains how the Kremlin has moved to tighten its grip on Crimea as the world turns its focus toward Syria. Indeed, Russia has proven itself to be settling in for the long haul in Crimea, with mass relocations of Russian military servicemen to the peninsula spurring housing shortages and massive infrastructure projects. Against the drumbeat of the Russian military’s steadily rising presence on the Black sea peninsula, Moscow has stepped up pressure on human rights groups, NGOs, and journalists, while ruthlessly suppressing even minor shows of support for Kyiv. […]Russia has been ever more willing to prosecute even minor acts of defiance. […] the Kremlin’s policy of repression and consolidation in Crimea has continued unabated.” The report is available at http://www.atlanticcouncil.
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7. US: sanctions against Russia are linked to full implementation of Minsk, end to occupation of Crimea
Speaking at the OSCE Permanent Council, US Ambassador D. Baer stated, “The United States takes note of the relative calm along the line of contact in eastern Ukraine. […] However, we must not let ourselves be lulled into a false sense of security. Russia and the separatists continue to amass weaponry that can be quickly brought to the front in a re-escalation of the conflict. […]Several delegations have asked why Russia has yet to withdraw its forces and equipment from Ukrainian territory […] An equally important question is why Russia sent those advanced weapons systems to eastern Ukraine in the first place. These actions are in direct contravention of Russia’s commitments under Minsk and the Helsinki Final Act. […]Mr. Chair, the United States is not alone in making it clear that sanctions are linked to the full implementation of Minsk and an end to the occupation of Crimea. Russia’s failure to remove its forces, stop interference against the SMM, lift restrictions on humanitarian aid, engage in the political process, and release Ukrainian hostages will only serve to reinforce the international consensus against its actions. Just as Russia started the conflict in Ukraine by attacking Crimea, so too must it end its occupation of Crimea, and end it now.”