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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukraine LiveBlog Day 296

Publication: Ukraine Liveblogs
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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Crimean Tatar Human Rights Activists Attacked at News Conference on Police Disruption of Their Human Rights Day Rally

Several people attacked Crimean Tatar leaders today as they gave a press conference on police prevention of their Human Rights Day demonstration in Simferopol, OVDinfo.org and RFE/RL reported.

Assailants headed by Eyvaz Enanov splashed zelyonka on the speakers, which is an indelible green disinfectant often used in attacks on activists in Russia and Ukraine to vilify them. Enanov is said to be a candidate for mayor in the city of Sudak, and also a supporter of a faction of Crimean Tatars opposed to the Mejlis or national assembly.

Esekender Bariyev, Sinaver Kadyrov and Abmedzhit Suleymanov, coordinators of the Committee to Defend the Rights of the Crimean Tatar People were struck while speaking at a news briefing.

The Crimean Human Rights Field Mission reported the attack on their Facebook page. Bariyev identified the attackers as people close to Ruslan Balbek, vice premier of the government in Crimea.

Krym Realii (krmr.org) a news service of the US-funded RFE/RL, published pictures of the attack.

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Earlier as we reported, police closed off access to a demonstration site, claiming that organizers had violated procedures for obtaining permission for rallies. The organizers are appealing the action.

Crimean Tatars have held rallies on December 10 in Simferopol in past years, but this year they found the whole area chained off by riot police and Interior Ministry troops.


-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
DNR 'Minister of Culture' Arrested

Novosti Donbassa reports that Roman Manekin, a Russian political theorist who the Ukrainian news site describe as "one of the Muscovite ideologues of the '"Russian world'," has written on his Facebook page that Yuri Lekstutis, who had been serving as the "minister of culture" in the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic," has been arrested by his fellow separatists.

Manekin wrote (translated by The Interpreter):

Yesterday, Yuri Olegovich Lekstutis, the acting culture minister of the DNR up until the previous day, was placed in pre-trial detention [SIZO] in Donetsk. (The head of the SIZO: Igor Ivanovich Trubitsin).

His charge has not yet been filed.

This is already the third minister in the DNR government to have been arrested since the inauguration of A. Zakharchenko as head of the Republic.

Novosti Donbassa noted that the "minister for fuel and energy," Alexei Granovsky, and the "deputy prime minister," Aleksandr Kalyussky, had already been arrested for "abuse of office."

The site reported that Aleksander Paretsky, a soloist-vocalist at the Donetsk Philharmonic, had been announced as Lekstutis' acting replacement.

-- Pierre Vaux

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukraine Says Russian-Backed 'Terrorists' Broke Ceasefire 16 Times Despite 'Day of Silence'
The tweets from this morning's National Security and Defense Council briefing reveal that the "Day of Silence," which was supposed to mark the start of a new ceasefire, was repeatedly broken.

Any reference to UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones) is an implicit accusation against the Russian military which Ukraine says are supplying these drones. The increase in drone activity near Mariupol is not a surprise, since the city is close to the front with the Russian-backed separatists, close to the Russian border, and on the Azov Sea.

The NSDC also reports that registered IDPs, internally-displaced persons, has reached more than half a million:

We have not verified the claim below, but if it's true then it's not hard to see why so many people are leaving the war-torn Donbass.

Yesterday there was intense shelling of Stanitsa Luganskaya, northeast of the city of Lugansk. Read our report about yesterday's battle here.

-- James Miller

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Riot Police Block Human Rights Day Rally In Simferopol

In Russian-occupied Crimea, OMON riot police and pro-Russian 'Self-Defence' units have cordoned off Lenin Square in the centre of Simferopol, preventing a rally due to be held by Crimean Tatars to mark Human Rights Day.

A metal fence has been established around the square and is being patrolled by police and paramilitaries. 

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Crimea's QHA news agency reports that both 'self-defence' personnel and soldiers in combat gear are on guard outside the building housing the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Crimea. Police are patrolling the streets of the city centre. 

QHA notes that (translated by The Interpreter):

closing the city's central square ahead of actions initiated by the Crimean Tatars has already become a "tradition" in Simferopol.

RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, Radio Svoboda, reports that the security forces told journalists to leave the square and demanded that photographers hand over their memory cards.


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Yesterday, Laura Mills and John-Thor Dahlburg reported for the Associated Press on the continuing persecution of Crimean Tatars living under the Russian occupation. They focus on the Tatar community in Sary-Su, where armed troops have cracked down on protests following the abduction and disappearance of two young Tatar men in September.

Their full report can be read here.


-- Pierre Vaux

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russian Military Specialists Dispatched To Donetsk To 'Help De-escalate' Conflict

Russia's Interfax news agency reports that a group of military specialists under the command of Lieutenant General Aleksandr Lentsov has been dispatched to the Donetsk region in Ukraine.

General Valery Gerasimov, the chief of staff of the Russian armed forces, said that the mission had been requested by his Ukrainian counterpart, Viktor Muzhenko.

Interfax reports:

"Representatives of the Russian armed forces led by Lt. Gen. Alexander Lentsov have been sent to the community of Debaltseve in the Donetsk region at Ukrainian armed forces chief of staff Col. Gen. Viktor Muzhenko's request," Gerasimov said at a meeting with military attaches of a number of foreign countries on Wednesday.

"This mission has been tasked, together with the OSCE, with helping the conflicting parties, which are the Ukrainian forces and the local militia, to find compromise solutions on de-escalating the tension and withdrawing the troops from the contact line," he said.


Gerasimov reiterated the Kremlin's demonstrably falsifiable line that "Russia is not a party to the conflict in Ukraine," claiming that the conflict directly contradicts Russia's interests.

Instead, he blamed the West for his military's well documented invasion of Ukraine (translated by The Interpreter):

"I will speak frankly, it's not easy. Were it not for the constant outside interference from representatives of a number of European countries, members of NATO and the USA, the problematic issues would be solved far faster."


-- Pierre Vaux

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