Ukraine: Daily Briefing
March 29, 2017, 5 PM Kyiv time
|Ukrainian paratrooper training exercises. Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense|
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and three Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Avdiivka and Luhanske village with mortars. Near the Donetsk airport and Horlivka, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Krasnohorivka and Taramchuk. On the Pavlopil-Shyrokyne line, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions. Towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Krymske, Troitske and Novozvanivka with mortars.
2. Oleg Senstov, Ukrainian filmmaker illegally imprisoned in Russia, wins Freedom to Write Award
Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov was awarded the Barbey Freedom to Write Award by PEN America on March 28. Sentsov is illegally imprisoned in Russia for his opposition against Russia’s invasion of Crimea. Russia has ignored repeated calls from the international community for his immediate release. The Washington Post reported, “Sentsov is currently serving his sentence in a Siberian penal colony. In a letter smuggled out of prison, he said his spirit has not been broken. He has declined visits from his wife and children (12 and 13) and allegedly refused any special treatment. In his letter, he wrote: ‘For three years I’ve been sitting in a Russian prison. For those three years a war has been conducted against my country. Here, in captivity, we are limited: and not even by freedom – this can no longer be taken – but by being of little help to our country while we’re in here. To be more precise, we can do one thing: hold on. There is no need to pull us out of here at all costs. This wouldn’t bring victory any closer. Yet using us as a weapon against the enemy will. You must know: we are not your weak point. If we’re supposed to become the nails in the coffin of a tyrant, I’d like to become one of those nails. Just know that this particular one will not bend.'”
3. Ukraine’s President signs law obligating NGOs, journalists fighting corruption to file e-declarations
On March 28, the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko has ignored calls from most major human rights and civic organizations and signed into law a dangerous bill which could be used to put pressure on NGOs, investigative journalists or activists, especially those most actively seeking to expose and eradicate corruption. […] Poroshenko told representatives of civil society on March 27 that he had to sign the bill because of other parts of it affecting military servicemen, but promised to set up a working group to deal with the controversial amendments. Such statements have been made before, and do not justify passing a bill that contains a dangerously vague and flawed norm. Law No. 6172 on amendments to the Law on Preventing Corruption certainly waives any requirement for most military personnel to fill in electronic income declarations, but then makes it mandatory for civic activists, investigative journalists, etc. engaged in combatting corruption to provide such declarations. […] The requirement to fill in electronic declarations has now been extended to individuals who ‘receive money or assets while carrying out programs or projects of technical or other aid, including irrevocable aid, on countering or preventing corruption (whether directly or through third parties or in any other way envisaged by the relevant program or project.’ The list in full extends the need to provide such declarations to all civic organizations engaged in the same activities. Some of the activities are clearly specified, for example, preparing proposals for anti-corruption policy in Ukraine. Others, however, are woolly and suspiciously all-purpose, covering anybody or any NGO ‘engaging in activities linked with prevention and countering of corruption’. […] Most NGOs in Ukraine could be said to engage in some degree of work fighting corruption, and this is only one of the terms used without any clarification. The authors and signatories are convinced that this has been added to make it possible to put pressure on civic organizations and obstruct or prevent activities, such as those aimed at overcoming corruption. […] Legislators – now supported by the President – have effectively turned the situation on its head, with the implication somehow that it is those who seek to eradicate corruption who need to be watched. […] There is a plan behind this woolly and illogical move, and here all civic organizations agree. The real aim is to put a clamp on those who continue asking inconvenient questions and demanding openness and accountability. Unfortunately, the President has now become complicit in this.” The full report from KHPG is available at http://khpg.org/en/index.php?