Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
25 October 2016, 6 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 shelled Ukrainian positions at Stanytsia Luhanska and Novooleksandrivka with mortars and grenade launchers. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Zaytseve, Avdiyivka and Luhanske village with mortars and artillery, firing over 230 shells. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Maryinka, Hranitne and the Pavlopil-Shyrokyne line with mortars. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and six Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action.
2. Human Rights Group: Russia’s new offensive against civil society has grave implications for Ukrainian political prisoners
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “Russia has removed almost all independent rights activists from the Civic Monitoring Committees [ONK] which are allowed to visit remand and convicted prisoners. Those now entrusted to oversee observance of human rights in Moscow penitentiary institutions, for example, will include Dmitry Komnov, who is on the Magnitsky List and under US sanctions for his role in the death of Heritage Foundation lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. The move is disastrous, not least for Ukrainian political prisoners. It has often been the ONK who first provided information about Ukrainians whom Russia had effectively abducted, and their visits have been invaluable for monitoring how Oleg Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko and other political prisoners are being treated. […] Those removed include renowned human rights activists Zoya Svetova and Anna Karetnikova. Svetova was a vital source of information about Ukrainian political prisoners being held in Lefortovo Prison. It was her initial visit that forced the FSB to admit that they were holding Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and three other Crimean opponents of Russian annexation back in May 2014. At the end of September she and colleagues reported that Ukrainian journalist Roman Sushchenko had been detained and was also in Lefortovo. […] The move comes at a time when Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be denying Russia’s obligation under the Minsk Agreement to release all political prisoners illegally held in Russia, and when Sentsov’s cousin has reported that Sentsov has been placed in a punishment isolation cell for 15 days. Russia’s justice ministry has also claimed falsely that both Sentsov and Kolchenko are Russian nationals and cannot therefore be extradited to Ukraine. […] Russia is illegally holding a number of Ukrainian political prisoners, as well as many Russian nationals also imprisoned on politically motivated charges. The conditions in Russian prisons are appalling, and the effective destruction of the one remaining independent mechanism for monitoring rights is likely to have catastrophic consequences.” The full report from KHPG is available athttp://khpg.org/en/index.php?
3. Bloomberg: Ukraine’s Finance Minister sees no delay in receiving IMF funds
Bloomberg reported, “Ukraine’s finance minister foresees no delays in receiving the next slice of aid from a $17.5 billion bailout, predicting the government can smooth out differences with the International Monetary Fund over pay increases for state employees in next year’s budget. The $1.3 billion tranche, the fourth from the rescue loan, will arrive as planned in November, Oleksandr Danylyuk said late Friday in an interview. The minister, appointed in a government shakeup in April, wants to accelerate an IMF visit slated for this week to discuss 34 billion hryvnia ($1.3 billion) of salary boosts for judges and other civil servants that the European Union is seeking to improve governance. ‘We got preliminary positive feedback from the IMF on the budget,’ Danylyuk said […]. ‘We must submit a draft to parliament for the second reading in two weeks. I’d like to discuss it with the IMF.’ […] Lawmakers approved Ukraine’s 2017 budget in the first reading on Oct. 20. After completing next year’s fiscal planning, the Finance Ministry will turn its attention to overhauling pensions, which is required by December to qualify for the fifth IMF tranche. Transfers from the budget to support the pension fund were almost 95 billion hryvnia in 2015. This year, the government sees that figure reaching almost 145 billion hryvnia.”