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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Day 720: February 7, 2016

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.
Crimean Tatar Medjlis Bombed in Kherson; No Injuries

A bomb attack in Kherson Region on the Crimean Tatar's Medjlis (Assembly) is part of a pro-Russian effort to foment trouble in the region next to Russian-occupied Crimea, writes Halya Coynash.



Says Coynash: 

Ibrahim Suleymanov, Head of the Kherson Mejlis, calls the attack an attempt by pro-Russian forces to destabilize the situation in the region and intimidate Crimean Tatars.  The Kherson oblast borders on Crimea, and there have been many worrying developments, especially since the Crimea Blockade began on September 20 last year.  

Suleymanov draws ominous links with methods used by the Russian security service in Crimea before Russia’s annexation of the peninsula.  He points to action then by the FSB aimed at inciting inter-ethnic enmity and frightening the local Crimean Tatar population.  

The explosion comes just days after a meeting of representatives of different minorities in Kherson was held in the Mejlis office.  The meeting resulted in a joint letter of protest over inflammatory articles by Kherson journalists.  In it they asked the regional administration, the SBU [Ukrainian Security Service] and Ukrainian Journalists Union to react to such publications.  Suleymanov says that they suspect that Sunday’s terrorist act was in retaliation for that appeal.

Read more here.

At least 20 Crimean Tatars have disappeared under suspicious circumstances since the annexation in 2014.

Kherson was bombed in December 2014 and the community defense fund building was set on fire in January 2015.

 -- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Both Sides Accuse Each Other Of Ceasefire Violations; Dutch Referendum Jeopardizes EU Membership

The Ukrainian military is once again reporting a significant amount of ceasefire violations over the last 24 hours, though the number of incidents is down by nearly half from what it was in the last few days.

Interfax (via RFE/RL) reports:

A Ukrainian serviceman suffered  injuries in the army operation zone in eastern Ukraine in the past 24 hours, but no one was killed, Ukrainian Presidential Administration spokesman for military matters Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said.

According to the report, there was sniper fire near Marinka, grenade launchers and machine guns used on the Svitlodarsk bulge near Donetsk, mines were fired near Gorlovka, and 120mm and 82mm mortars were used.

TASS reports (via RFE/RL) that the Russian-backed separatists also claim that a citizen of western Donetsk has been injured by Ukrainian fire:

The source said, the man, born in 1962, died of a 82mm mine, which was fired from positions of the Ukrainian military near the Maryinka town.

On Saturday, a civilian in the Trudovskiye settlement died of injuries from a shelling, delivered from positions of pro-Kiev military.

Meanwhile there are fears that an April 6 referendum held in the Netherlands on Ukraine's membership in the EU could, if it is rejected, create turmoil within the EU and derail Ukraine's attempts to join.

Thanks largely to a backlash against immigration, the result of the crisis in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East and Africa, far-right, and pro-Putin, politicians have been rising in many European countries, including the Netherlands. As a result of this political vulnerability, the issue of Ukrainian membership in the EU is going up for a non-binding popular vote which could force the hand of Dutch politicians.

Reuters reports:

The Dutch government would be obliged to reconsider its position on an EU pact establishing closer ties with Ukraine if it loses an upcoming referendum on the issue, the country's foreign minister said, but he stopped short of saying a "no" vote would scupper the treaty.

The referendum is not binding, but most Dutch parties have said they would respect a rejection by voters, which could plunge the European Union into crisis when tensions with Russia run higher than at any time since the Cold War.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Foreign Minister Bert Koenders rejected claims by opponents of the association agreement that it was a first step toward EU membership for war-torn Ukraine, which is battling Moscow-backed rebels in its East.

"The referendum law says the government will have to reconsider if there is a (negative) outcome," he said, adding that he would argue for a 'yes" vote. "I'm not going to say anything about the result, but we will then decide what to do."

-- James Miller