Ukraine: Daily Briefing
May 31, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and two Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front 28 times in total, including at least 7 times with heavy weapons – mortars and artillery.
2. Kolchenko declares hunger strike demanding release of Sentsov
Sentsov (left) and Kolchenko at Russian show trial.
Photo – Radio Svoboda
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “Oleksander Kolchenko, the already desperately thin Crimean civic activist imprisoned in the same Russian show trial as filmmaker Oleg Sentsov has declared a hunger strike, demanding that Russia free Sentsov.
According to lawyer Andrei Lepekhin, his formal notification is from 31 May, Sentsov’s 18th day of hunger strike. Sentsov has vowed he will not end it until Russia frees all its Ukrainian political prisoners, and has said that if he dies before or during the World Cup, being hosted by Russia, his death should serve to help free the others. […]
Kolchenko and Sentsov were seized in Russian-occupied Crimea in May 2014, together with two other opponents of Russia’s annexation of their homeland – Gennady Afanasyev and Oleksiy Chyrniy.
All four men were held incommunicado for up to three weeks, first in Simferopol (Crimea), then in Moscow, almost certainly to hide the signs of the torture they were subjected to.”
3. SBU: Successful sting operation thwarts plot ordered by Russian intelligence services
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) stated on May 30, “Officers of the Security Service of Ukraine thwarted the plot of Russian special services on killing the Russian journalist Arkadiy Babchenko. The information was stated by Vasyl Hrytsak, the Head of the SBU, at a joint briefing with the Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko and the head of the National Police Sergey Knyazev. The killing of Arkady Babchenko, a Russian journalist, was ordered by the Russian intelligence services, SBU says. […]
The SBU operatives established that preparing for a terrorist act against Babchenko was only one element of the plot devised by Russian special services for physical elimination of Russian citizens who, because of their political beliefs, were forced to leave Russia and now live in Ukraine or other European states – first of all, public activists and journalists who publicly criticize the current government of the Russian Federation.
The Ukrainian security service has documented that for the implementation of this cynical plan, Russia’s special services recruited a citizen of Ukraine ‘G’ who was tasked to find, for a payment, the executors for a number of large-impact terrorist acts.
‘In pursuance of the task of the Russian special services, he proposed to his friend, a former member of the ATO in the east of Ukraine, to execute, for $30,000, the contract kill on a Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko. He has already transferred a deposit of $15,000,’ said Vasyl Hrytsak.
On top of money, the organizer received from Russia’s special services and transferred to the executor through a messenger the dossier on Arkadiy Babchenko, with detailed information about his journalistic activities and private life, including personal data on Babchenko himself, his wife, parents and children, their phone numbers and bank accounts, social networks accounts, passport data.
‘The Russian intelligence agencies tasked the organizer with another ‘project’: using the money of Russia’s special services, buy on the black market weapons and ammunition from the ATO region and organize caches on the territory of the Kyiv region,’ the SBU Chairman said.
During the special operation, the Security Service of Ukraine managed not only to disrupt the cynical provocation, but also to document the preparation of this horrid crime by the Russian special services.
The SBU received in advance the information about the preparation of an assassination attempt on Arkady Babchenko and the search for murder executors. ‘We decided to run an operative combination that enabled us to get undisputed evidence of the terrorist activity of Russia’s special services in Ukraine,’ said Vasyl Hrytsak. […]
SBU investigators drafted a suspicion to the organizer of the crime commissioned by the Russian special services, accusing him in aiding in commitment of the terrorist act, use of weapons, commitment of an explosion and other actions that endangered life or health of a person in order to violate public safety and intimidate the population, which could lead to death of a person, that is, in criminal offense stipulated by Part 1 of Art. 14, part 5 of Art. 27, part 3 of Art. 258 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.”
4. Ukraine’s President meets with Babchenko: we have finally learned to defend the country and its citizens
For a video of the meeting of Ukraine’s President and journalist Arkady Babchenko, please click on image above
On May 30, Ukraine’s Presidential Administration reported, “President Petro Poroshenko met with journalist Arkady Babchenko, an attempt upon the life of which has been revealed by the Security Service of Ukraine. The meeting was attended by Head of the Security Service Vasyl Hrytsak and Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko.
The Head of State called the successful operation of the Security Service and the rescue of the journalist the third birthday of Arkady, as well as ‘the birthday of the large 45-million nation that passed the exam on statehood.’
‘We finally learned to defend. Defend the country, defend its citizens and do it with extraordinary professional efforts of the new Security Service, which is capable of passing the exams of any complexity,’ he said. […]
‘I want to thank all Ukrainians who were not indifferent, who were ready to fight and act in order to save the country,” he said, noting that the attack on a journalist was organized from the territory of the Russian Federation by a person who ‘owns a huge arsenal of weapons, can create arms dumps and organize terrorist acts.’ [….]
Arkady Babchenko also expressed conviction that such operations are needed so that people and the world finally begin to understand what Putin’s regime is. ‘Thank God that everything has come to the end. The fact that I am sitting here now and that I am alive is all the merit of the Security Service. After all, if there had been no such special operation, they would have killed me and this is obvious. Friends, let’s finally understand who we are dealing with. Let’s finally understand what Putin’s Russia is in 2018, 2014, and 2020, and 2025. Let’s finally understand. Thank God that the West is beginning to understand,’ he added.”