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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Ukraine Live Day 558

Publication: Ukraine Liveblogs
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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Two Missing Crimean Tatars Found Dead Near Simferopol
Two Crimean Tatars missing were found dead near Simferopol, Liveuamap reported, citing Hromadske TV.

Memet Selimov and Osman Ibragimov, two Crimean Tatar residents of Simferopol missing for the last eight days, were found dead with knife wounds on August 29, Hromaske TV reported, citing Nariman Dzhelyal, the deputy chair of the Mejlis or Crimean Tatar assembly.

Investigators said that it was an "common murder" that occurred after a drunken fight. But the parents believed they were kidnapped.

Three Crimean Tatars have gone missing in the last week and a half. Mukhtar Arislanov, 45, a resident of the Fontana area of Simferopol disappeared August 27.

Halya Coynash of the Khariv Human Rights Group has analyzed the disappearances:

As earlier reported, any disappearances of Crimean Tatars are reminders chilling reminders of multiple abductions and / or disappearances of young Crimean Tatar men and pro-Ukrainian civic activists after Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea.   There are also some strange elements in the disappearance of 29-year-old Memet Selimov and 31-year-old Osman Ibragimov from the Simferopol region.

As reported, Selimov set off around 21.00 on Aug 21, telling his parents that he was going to see his friend Ibragimov.  A bit later his parents were unable to contact him by phone, then the phone was switched off completely.  Memet’s parents explained  that their son worked as a hospital driver, he was not involved in any kind of civic activity, nor crime, and was normally in regular contact with his parents.  Dzhelyal reported that the parents believed that the two men might have been abducted.

It is possible that the police in this case are doing their job and do have grounds for suspecting a specific individual.  The disappearance of 45-year-old Mukhtar Arislanov from the same area on Aug 27 has been reported, may also not be sinister.

Unfortunately, as well as a few strange details, there is also bad experience, making it easy to understand why Dzhelyal’s report begins with the sentence: “Crimean Tatars are again disappearing in Crimea ».  

In the early evening of Sept 27, 2014, 19-year-old Islam Dzhepparov and his 23-year-old cousin Dzhevdet Islamov were abducted from Sary-Su near Belogorsk in the Crimea.  They were forced into a dark blue Volkswagen Transporter and taken away in the direction of Feodosiya.  Despite immediate notification of the police with even the van’s registration number known, the young men have never been found nor has anybody been detained over their abduction.

Coynash describes other cases and cites Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev who has said 18 Crimean Tatars have disappeared since the Russian invasion.

Three civic activists among them known for their vocal opposition to the Russian occupation may have been killed by security forces supporting the leader of the self-declared Republic of Crimea, says Coynash.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Mainly DNR and LNR Fail to Pull Back Main Battle Tanks and Armor Builds Up Around Mariupol: OSCE

The pro-separatist news site Novosti Novorossii reported that gunfire was heard in Gorlovka and shelling in Vorobyovka. In Lugansk Region, residents said shelling overnight damaged buildings in Stakhanov, and there was large-caliber artillery also shelling in the direction of Popasnaya.

In his phone call with German and French leaders, President Vladimir Putin complained about shelling by the Ukrainian side of population areas, but failed to acknowledge shelling by Russian-backed separatist forces.

In its report for August 27, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission reported the failure to pull back tanks under the Minsk agreement and a build-up of armor around the Mariupol area:

The SMM revisited two “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas whose locations corresponded with the Minsk withdrawal lines, but was denied access at one area. The "DPR" guards said they had not been authorized by their commander to allow the SMM access. Therefore the SMM was able to conclude that all previously recorded weapons were present at only one of the areas.

The SMM also revisited two Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas whose locations corresponded with the Minsk withdrawal lines but, again, was able to conclude that all previously recorded weapons were present at only one of the areas. At the second area, the SMM observed that one of three previously observed self-propelled anti-aircraft systems (9K35 Strela-10) was missing.

The SMM observed the presence of heavy weapons in areas which are in violation of respective withdrawal lines. In a “DPR”-controlled area, the SMM observed a main battle tank (MBT, T-72). In an “LPR”-controlled area, the SMM observed two stationary main battle tanks (T-72) with gun turrets with barrels pointed towards a government-controlled area. In government-controlled areas, the SMM also observed a tank (T64) stationary at a checkpoint and a 122mm self-propelled howitzer 2S1 "Gvozdika" on a heavy duty trailer travelling through government-controlled areas. In “DPR”-controlled areas UAVs observed five MBTs in Bezimenne (30km east of Mariupol), two MBTs in Michurine (57km north-east of Mariupol), three heavy artillery pieces in Oktiabr (29km north-east of Mariupol), one MBT south of Sontseve (58km north-east of Mariupol), five MBTs west of Starolaspa (60km north-east of Mariupol), five 122mm self-propelled howitzers 2S1 “Gvozdika” with lots of ammunition south-west of Rozdolne (64km north-east of Mariupol) and seven MBTs, more than twenty APCs and other military equipment south of Komsomolske (75km north-east of Mariupol). On 26 August in government-controlled Pionerske (13km east of Mariupol) one short-range anti-aircraft missile system (type not identified) was spotted. On 27 August, in government-controlled Hranitne (45km north-east of Mariupol) one MBT was observed.

The OSCE report from yesterday, August 28 released today says the situation remains "tense" and reports 73 explosions:

The overall security situation at and around “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk airport (9km north-west of Donetsk remained tense. Between 08:55 and 17:30hrs, whilst at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation point at Donetsk railway station (“DPR”-controlled, 8km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM recorded a total of 73 explosions – both incoming and outgoing - mostly consistent with mortar (88mm and 120mm) and automatic grenade launchers (AGL) at distances ranging between 1.5 and 6km north-west, north and north-north-east of its position.

In government-controlled Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol), between 12:32 and 13:10hrs, the SMM heard 12 explosions from undetermined distance southeast of its position and saw one impact at a location 3km south of its position. Whilst in Kominternove, local residents showed the SMM three craters which they said resulted from shelling on 26 August. The SMM analysed craters in a residential area. Analysis indicated that 120mm mortar rounds – two were fired from the east, another one was fired from a westerly direction – had caused the damage including blown-out windows and a pitted roof. The SMM also observed that a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in the west of the village was closed for any residents, preventing them from crossing from the village into the west. The checkpoint commander told the SMM that following the shelling on 26 August the checkpoint had been closed for all traffic.

In “DPR”-controlled Yasne (30km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM conducted crater analysis on one impact of alleged shelling on 26 August. The SMM assessed it to have been caused by 125mm high explosive fragmentation shells of a main battle tank (MBT) fired from a southerly direction.

In “DPR”-controlled Holmivskyi (49km north-north-east of Donetsk), the SMM was told by local residents that shelling had taken place during the previous night. The SMM analysed three of six craters observed in and around a residential area and assessed that they had been caused by 122mm artillery fired from a north-easterly direction. reported that the Russian-backed forces made scattered "chaotic and provocative" attacks along the line of contact in the last day according to the ATO [Anti-Terrorist Organization] press center's Facebook page.

Schastye was struck once again at 1:00 am as well as the Butovka coal mine and the town of Opytnoye. For two days, separatists have been aiming large-caliber mortar at Ukrainian positions in the town of Luganskoye along the Artyomovsk line, and on Shirokino, near Mariupol, despite this having been made a "demilitarized" area last month.

Ukrainian troops restored electrical power in Marinka and Krasnogorovka, where it had been knocked out from shelling in the last month. They are still working on the water line to Uspenovka, Marinovka and Krasnogorovka.

A rock concert staged by Russian Federation rock bands including Arkhpelag, Agata Kristi and others took place in a park in central Donetsk today in honor of Coal Miners' Day and Donetsk City Day, Novosti Novorossii reported. About 10,000 people attended evidently without incident.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Western Leaders Urge Putin to Ensure Elections under Ukrainian Law; Ukrainian Elections Commission Says Cannot Be Held in Separatist-Controlled Areas Over Security Concerns

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande spoke to President Vladimir Putin today about the situation in Ukraine without Ukrainian Petro Poroshenko who is the fourth member of the "Normandy group," reported.

The leaders discussed the crisis in southeastern Ukraine, and Merkel and Holland reported on their meeting with Poroshenko August 24.

Putin accused the Ukrainians of conducting an offensive in violation of the Minsk accords, despite the fact that the number of Ukrainian soldiers killed has risen, and OSCE Special Monitoring Mission reported August 27 that main battle tanks had not been pulled back from the front line.

Vice President Joe Biden called President Poroshenko today, RFE/RL reported:

The White House said Biden offered U.S. support for constitutional amendments Poroshenko has proposed to decentralize power and hold local elections while maintaining a unitary federal government in Kyiv.

Biden "welcomed news of an agreement among several pro-reform political forces to run a common slate of candidates in Ukraine’s local elections this October," the White House said.

But the vice president "strongly criticized statements by separatist leaders indicating their intention to take additional territory and hold local elections outside of the Ukrainian legal framework, in direct contravention of the Minsk agreements," it said.

Meanwhile, reported that the Ukrainian Central Elections Commission (CEC) issue a statement today August 29 that local elections cannot be held on October 25 in 91 precincts of the Donetsk Region and 31 precincts of the Lugansk Region in areas controlled by Ukraine, presumably due to security concerns although this was not mentioned formally.

The decision was made on the basis of situation reports given by the regional military and civilian administration.

President Petro Poroshenko urged that elections be held in Mariupol, calling on police to ensure security, reported. On August 28, the CEC had included Mariupol in its list of areas where elections could not be conducted safely, reported.

But in news account August 29, Mariupol was not in the list. A source told the online news site Apostrof that security of voters and the election commissioners could not be guaranteed in Mariupol and that is why it was included on the list.

The CEC listed the following frontline areas where elections cannot be held in Donetsk Region: 1 city council and 15 rural councils in Artyomov District; 1 city council and 26 rural councils in Volonovakha District; 3 rural councils in Volodarsk District; 7 rural councils in Konstantinovka District; 2 city councils and 9 rural councils in Marinka District; 1 rural council in Starobeshevo District; 1 regional council, 12 rural councils in Yasinovatskoye District; and also in the cities of Avdeyevka, Artyomovsk, Gorlovka, Debaltsevo, Dzerzhinsk, Dokuchayevsk and Konstantinovka.

Debaltsevo was taken over by Russian-backed forces in February 2015.

The CEC has listed the following areas where elections cannot be held in Lugansk Region, in 1 city council and 6 rural councils in Novoaydar District; 1 regional council, 3 city councils, 9 village councils and 1 rural council in Popasnaya District; 2 village councils and 8 rural councils in the Stanichno-Lugansk District.

All of these towns have seen constant shell fire since the Minsk-2 "ceasefire."

The CEC then issued a list of areas occupied by combined Russian and separatist forces where elections cannot take place, including 125 towns in Donetsk Region and 146 in Lugansk Region, reported.

These included Alchevsk, Antratsit, Bryanka, Irovsk, Krasnodon, Krasny Luch, Lugansk, Pervomaysk and Stakhanov.

In Donetsk, these included Gorlovka, Donetsk, Enakievo, Torez and Shakhtyorsk.

Thus, admonitions to Putin to ensure elections and affirm such issues as access to OSCE monitors appear secondary to the larger problem of continued Russian-backed offensives creating insecurity.

For this reason, Ukraine is making it clear it will not attempt to hold elections in separatist-controlled areas or even under towns under fire on the front line. But separatists have no intention of abiding by Ukrainian law and allowing opposition parties and free media or involvement by central Kiev authorities in vote-counting.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick