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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
Day 750: March 8, 2016

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
39 Arrested at Action in Support of Savchenko in Moscow
As we reported earlier, dozens of Muscovites were arrested today at pickets in defense of imprisoned Ukrainian pilot Nadiya (Nadezhda) Savchenko.

OVDInfo, the police monitoring group, has now tabulated the total number of those detained: 39.

All of them have been charged with violation of Art. 20-2 of the Administrative Code, demonstrating without a permit.

Five who had demonstrated on Lubyanka were released earlier today, and then this evening 15 were released from Presnensky; 2 disabled persons were released from Tverskoi; and 4 from Kitai-Gorod, but the remaining 13 were spending the night in jail, OVDInfo reports. They were taken to other precincts including Krasnoselsky, Basmanny and Arbat to spend the night.

One demonstrator, Irina Yatsenko, was taken to the hospital with an injured arm.


-- 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
Special Report from Pavel Kanygin on Mass Arrests and Torture in 'People's Republics' - Meduza

Pavel Kanygin, special correspondent for Novaya Gazeta, has produced a special feature on life on the war zones of Donbass for Meduza.

Meduza is an independent news site edited in Riga by Russian emigres who left Lenta.ru two years ago.



Locked up in the Donbas | A look at the mass arrests and torture of civilians in Donetsk and Lugansk

In the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, persecutions of civilians have carried on unabated since autumn 2015. Several thousand people have found themselves behind bars or, as they say locally, "in the cellar." A person may be detained for various reasons: settling political scores, redistributing property, or sometimes they're simply arrested at random.

View full page →
Mar 09, 2016 01:45 (GMT)

Kanygin, who himself was detained and beaten by the forces of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" last year, writes (translation by Meduza):

Repressions in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics (shortened to DNR and LNR respectively) are carried out on suspicion of political and religious offenses. Arrests for religious reasons tend to target the area's Protestant and Baptist communities. Local business owners unable to find common ground with the new governments are also thrown into the cellar, and rebel officials then “nationalize” their property. 

Most often, this means the relatives of high-ranking officials within the separatist governments receive control over these businesses. In the past two months, reports of arrests based on anonymous denunciations have been rising. Some try to free detainees by appealing to their acquaintances inside the new governments, while others hope to buy or bail them out. In the case of political arrests, however, no amount of connections or bribes is usually enough to get a prisoner released.

Kanygin notes that volunteer fighters for the Ukrainian battalions also carry out "random arrests," but this report focuses on political arrests from the DNR and LNR. He notes that Vladimir Ruban, a respected activist involved in freeing POWs, believes that the Russian-backed separatists are trying to collect people to use as bargaining chips. Under the Minsk accords, there is supposed to be a "one-for-one" exchange of POWs, but in a number of cases, Ukraine has turned over more than one-for-one, or has had to release a number of POWs to get a journalist, for example.

Read Kanygin's harrowing report here.

Kanygin also writes:

Frontline fighting in the Donbass came to a halt in autumn 2015. Despite the uneasy truce, monitoring missions from the OSCE and the UN report casualties among civilians have, for the most part, been brought to zero.

We would have to disagree. As our Ukraine at War blog indicates, fighting continues daily, and every 3 or 4 days, Ukrainian soldiers are killed, as well as separatists and Russian soldiers. Civilian killings also have continued. The UN reported 8,000 war deaths in September 2015; 9,000 in December and 9,160 this month. Since UN monitors have not had access to the Donbass, they believe these figures are actually underreported.

-- 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
Ukraine and Turkey Hold Joint Naval Exercises in Marmara Sea on Eve of Poroshenko's Visit to Ankara

The Ukrainian Navy is flying the state flag beyond the Black Sea for the first time since the Russian occupation of Crimea in 2014, the Ukrainian television station 112.ua reported, citing the Navy's press center.

The occasion is joint naval exercises with Turkey including tactical maneuvers, anti-aircraft defense, and organization of communications.

Ukraine's frigates Hetman Sagaydachny and the Balta are currently in the Sea of Marmara.

President Petro Poroshenko is scheduled to visit Turkey for a summit March 9-10.

As relations between Russia and Turkey have deteriorated since the October 31 shoot-down by Turkey of a Russian fighter plane near the Syrian border, Turkey has reached out to Ukraine, where it already was defending the fellow Turkic Crimean Tatar people in Russian-occupied Crimea. 

-- 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
Government Denies Appointment Of Homophobe Bukovynsky As Family Ombudsman Is Done Deal

The Ukrainian government is backing away from the appointment of Adrian Bukovynsky, an extreme homophobe, as Ombudsman on Family Matters, amid much public criticism.


Bukovynsky's appointment was reported by several Ukrainian outlets yesterday, with Ukrainska Pravda specifying that the decision had been taken on March 2.

But today the government issued the following statement:

Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk has instructed to conduct an open competition for the Government Plenipotentiary for Family, involving scientists, representatives of voluntary human rights and religious organizations, Ministers and other authorities. The relevant decision will be considered shortly in the Government meeting, Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers Hanna Onyschenko informed.

However, the Minister noted, Adrian Bykovynskyi has not taken office as the Government Plenipotentiary for Family yet. Now the background check is being conducted on him.

The statement is somewhat confusing as Bukovynsky is already being subjected to background checks while the competition is still apparently open.

-- Pierre Vaux

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Three Ukrainian Soldiers Wounded Over Last 24 Hours

Three Ukrainian soldiers have been wounded by enemy fire over the last 24 hours, announced Colonel Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, a military spokesman for the Presidential Administration.

This morning the ATO Press Centre reported 54 attacks over the last day.


According to Motuzyanyk, particularly heavy fighting was seen north of Donetsk and near Luganskoye, on the highway between Bakhmut (formerly Artyomovsk) and Debaltsevo.

Motuzyanyk told reporters at a briefing in Kiev that Russian-backed fighters had fired from BMP infantry fighting vehicles for almost four hours on Ukrainian positions outside Luganskoye.

Similar attacks were seen near neighbouring Lozovoye, to the south.

Outside separatist-held Gorlovka, the ATO Press Centre claims that Russian-backed fighters shelled positions in Mayorsk with 82 mm mortars and attacked troops near Novgorodskoye, and also Troitskoye to the northeast, with grenade launchers and machine guns. 

To the north of Donetsk, the Ukrainian military reports that tanks shelled Ukrainian positions near Avdeyevka, while 82 and 120 mm mortars were used against positions near Peski. Those near Opytnoye were attacked with grenade launchers and heavy machine guns.

According to Motuzyanyk, fighting broke out on the southeastern edges of Avdeyevka, when a group of Russian-backed fighters mounted an assault from the direction of Yasinovataya.

This area has seen heavy fighting over the last few days:

To the west of Donetsk, Ukrainian positions near  Krasnogorovka and Marinka were attacked with grenade launchers, heavy machine guns and small arms. Amongst those targets hit in Marinka was the civilian crossing point which remains closed to traffic.

In the south, military spokesman Aleksandr Kindsfater reportedattacks with these same weapons on positions near Granitnoye, Talakovka and Shirokino. 

Meanwhile the pro-separatist Donetsk News Agency reports, citing local administrators, that Ukrainian troops did not conduct any attacks last night.

-- Pierre Vaux

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