Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
19 May 2016, 7 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 Stanytsia Luhanska and Popasne. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Avdiyivka with mortars. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Novomykhailivka with artillery. At Krasnohorivka and Pavlopilya Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions with mortars. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and two were wounded in action.
2. Russia convicts innocent Ukrainians of fighting in Chechnya
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “A jury in Grozny, Chechnya has found Ukrainians Mykola Karpyuk and Stanislav Klykh guilty of fighting against Russian forces in Chechnya in 1994/95 and killing 31 soldiers. It thus ignored documentary evidence from the Memorial Human Rights Centre which demolished the entire indictment and clear evidence that the men had never been in Chechnya, and had given ‘confessions’ under torture. The sentences will be announced later. […] In his case, there is documentary evidence proving that he was taking exams at Kyiv University at the time of the alleged ‘crimes’, and documents which effectively confirm his harrowing account of torture. The 42-year-old is in obvious need of medical care, probably after the abuse of psychotropic drugs while he was held incommunicado and tortured. […] The jury is known to have been placed under considerable pressure, and the court under presiding judge Vakhit Ismailov had also consistently refused to allow evidence which proved the men’s story. This included the four parts of a comprehensive analysis carried out by the Memorial Human Rights Centre. It was on the basis of this devastating assessment of the charges that in February 2016 Memorial declared both men political prisoners.” The full report is available at http://khpg.org/en/index.php?
3. CBC: Crimean Tatar Leader visiting Canada urges strong sanctions against Russia
On 18 May, the CBC reported, “A long-time activist in eastern Europe, repeatedly jailed for political dissent in the former Soviet Union, urged the Liberal government on Wednesday to live up to its promises and pass legislation to punish Russians defying human rights. Mustafa Dzhemilev, the leader of Crimean Tatars, delivered the message to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and senior members of the Liberal cabinet, including International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland. The [Crimean] Tatars, a largely Sunni Muslim ethnic group, have faced increasing persecution since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in the spring of 2014. Both Amnesty International and most recently a spokesman for the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights criticized their treatment at the hands of government officials. ‘Human dignity is constantly being violated,’ Dzhemilev told CBC News in an interview through a translator, prior to testimony before the Senate foreign affairs committee on Wednesday. ‘If Western countries decide to re-establish relationships with Russia and become friends again, it is a disaster for the entire Crimean Tartar people.'”
4. Ukraine, IMF reach staff level agreement on policies needed to complete second review of Extended Fund Facility
The International Monetary Fund concluded a review mission to Ukraine on 18 May. R. van Rooden, mission chief for Ukraine, stated, “The mission reached staff level agreement with the authorities on policies needed to complete the second review under the EFF, subject to approval by IMF management and the Executive Board. Ukraine has made considerable progress in restoring macroeconomic stability over the past year under difficult circumstances. Steadfast implementation of structural and institutional reforms is now critical to turn the recent recovery into strong and sustainable growth, with unwavering determination in the fight against corruption emerging as a litmus test for the government’s ability to retain broad domestic and international support for its policies. It is therefore important that the authorities boost their efforts to entrench fiscal and financial stability, decisively enhance transparency and the rule of law, and reform the large and inefficient state-owned enterprise sector. The implementation of strong measures in these areas will pave the way for the IMF Executive Board’s consideration of the review, expected in July 2016.”
5. EU on track to extend economic sanctions on Russia in July
Reuters reported, “The European Union is on track to renew economic sanctions on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine when they expire in July, though an extension could be contested and only short-term, diplomats and officials said.” EU High Representative for Foreign Policy F. Mogherini stated that she “expected the [EU] energy, financial and defense sanctions [on Russia] to be renewed.” Mogherini stated, “EU heads of state or government had tied the lifting of the sanctions to a full implementation of the Minsk Agreements. So far, this has not been reached.” According to Reuters, an EU “official said the most likely scenario was a six-month extension, adding that G7 leaders would discuss the matter at their next summit in Japan on May 26-27 as the EU and the United States aim to keep a joint stance on Russia.”