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Published in Stream:
Day 1121: March 14, 2017
Press by
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
45 Ukrainian Blockaders of Russia-Backed Separatist Regions Detained After Clash with Police; 7 Officers Injured
2 years
1 Ukrainian Soldier Killed, 10 Injured, 1 Concussed in Past 24 Hours; Avdeyevka Without Power Again

National Guardsman in a confrontation with blockaders. Photo by dn.npu.gov.ua.

Clashes broke out Tuesday evening March 14 at a checkpoint near the entry to Slavyansk. 

According to a report from InfoResist, a convoy of 13 cars with more than 35 people refused to go through the standard procedure of searching and document checks at Slavyansk, according to Donetsk Region police. They said they asked the people in the car who were carrying weapons to show their gun permits but they refused.

Words were exchanged and then the conflict escalated into a fistfight. Police said Volodymyr Parasyuk, a member of parliament from the Ukrop faction reportedly struck an officer and tried to take his gun away. 

Blockade supporter Laura Litvinenko reported on her Facebook page that National Guardsman formed a wall of soldiers and refused to allow in even the MP Parasiuk (translation by The Interpreter):

"They didn't react to his request to show their ID. Our guys then started pushing through. The National Guardsmen removed their trigger locks, but our guys didn't care. Finally, the law-enforcers were evidently afraid of using their weapons. They began beating the civilians with clubs and using tear gas. They attacked everyone there, including the MP, with canisters of tear gas. As a result, three people, including Volodya Parasiuk were hospitalized (burnt lungs)."
Another activist, Igor Gromov, also reported that the civilians, who were taking part in the incident were veterans and activists who have maintained a blockade on trade with the Russia-backed separatist regions. They also crossed through the checkpoint and were teargassed.

But according to a report from Unian.net, Col. Yuriy Goluban of the National Guard told 112 Ukraine:

"MP Parasiuk came out and with threats, started insulting the police with swear language and tried to provoke a fight. Parasiuk gave the command to his people who had come with him in the convoy and they got out [of the vehicles]. About 40-45 people attacked the police. I made the decision not to use firearms since an MP was there. After they broke through the checkpoint, they got into a car and drove away along the road. Five officers of my division sustained injuries of various degrees of severity. One officer was run over by Parasiuk's car, two officers of the division suffered facial traumas and two officers were sprayed with teargas."

Parasyuk is best known for taking the stage on the Maidan after a "peace agreement" was reached between the opposition and former president Viktor Yanukovych. He denounced the pact and called for a storming of Yanukovych's residence the next day. Yanukovych subsequently fled to Russia that night. Parasyuk has been involved in a number of violent incidents, including a clash with police in February, and was accused by Oleg Lyashko of striking police on that occasion as well. Parasyuk denied the claims.

Later this evening, Abroskin updated this report to say 7 policemen had been injured in the clashes.

Parasyuk posted a call on his Facebook page: "Ukraine, either you will rise up or live as you've been living and don't complain.

Sentiments have been boiling with a number of clashes between law-enforcers and activists, frustrated with the ongoing war, mounting blockades against trade with the Russia-backed separatist regions. 

Yesterday in Lutsk, dozens of people occupied the Regional State Administration building near the Volyna Regional State Administration building and demanded the release of blockaders who had been detained in their region.

Set as default press image
2017-03-14 22:45:04
They also demanded to know why the blockade in Krivoy Torts, which has run for some weeks, was stormed by police yesterday.

Three videos have been posted by the account Long Live Ukraine! showing National Guardsmen beating and dragging away blockaders and dispersing bystanders.

Natalya Shiman, press secretary of the regional police, also published a video which mentions that arms were found on the site.

She said police began checking the demonstrators for weapons and they refused to cooperate or show their ID. About 45 blockaders were subsequently detained; 8 guns, 2 grenades, powder, detonators and ammunition were confiscated from them. All the detainees were subsequently released the same day.

Abroskin said of the 45, 8 were ATO veterans and possessed weapons; 6 had previous criminal records, including one convicted of murder who had served 9 years in prison and had been released in 2013. They were from 8 different regions of Ukraine: Dnepropetrovsk (17); Donetsk (10); Chernihov (8); Vinnitsa (4); Zhitomir (2); Donetsk (2); Sumskaya (1); Nikolayevskaya (1).

The demonstrators said they were promised 400 hryvnia (about US $15) per day if they agreed to serve on the blockade for 3 weeks.

A number of protests took place in various cities around Ukraine urging the release of the blockaders.

Protesters also demanded the resignation of Vyacheslav Abroskin, deputy head of the National Police, and called for the government to provide official support of the blockade.

Kiev has condemned the blockade as hurting only Ukraine and forcing factories to buy coal from Russia. Interior Minister Aven Avakov has repeatedly proposed various ways of regulating commerce short of a blockade and has condemned the violence. But only recently have police begun to arrest the demonstrators.

The Volyna Regional Council issued a statement condemning the arrest of the blockaders and urging that trade with the separatist-controlled territories be halted.

As we have reported, the blockades began in December, and have continued intermittently in various towns, sometimes being disrupted by paid attackers from coal plants. 

Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said earlier this month that the blockade had already cost Ukraine $3.5 billion

Aleksandr Zakharchenko, self-styled prime minister of the self-declared "Donetsk People's Republic" announced today that the first "trial" delivery of coal to Russia had been made.

Earlier the DNR leadership had said that the DNR would respond to Ukraine's blockade by taking over Ukrainian plants and selling coal to Russia.


-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick