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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 112: Border Checkpoint Attacked Overnight

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
Pro-Russian Patrols Have Replaced Police As Enforcers of Law In Donetsk
While in places like Slavyansk the Russian-backed separatists may be in control, the situation in Donetsk, Ukraine's fifth largest city with a population of over one million, is far more complicated. While the city is technically in the hands of Ukrainian authorities, parts of it are controlled by the separatists, and as a result there is a palpable power vacuum in parts of the city. AFP reports (courtesy of RFE/RL) that pro-Russian citizens have organized patrols, a make-shift law enforcement that lacks the kind of accountability and training that one would hope to see in a city this large.
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Poroshenko Learning To Live With Russia

Ukraine's new president Petro Poroshenko has given an interview to Time Magazine where he expresses the difficult position that Ukraine finds itself in at the moment. On one hand, Poroshenko is outraged by the interference by Russian president Vladimir Putin. On the other hand, however, Putin is still in a position of power as Ukraine's closest and most powerful neighbor:

Ukraine’s new President Petro Poroshenko wants to see Russia punished for what he calls the “tragedy” that befell his country this year. But even as Russia has annexed one region of Ukraine and encouraged a violent rebellion in two others, Ukraine does not have the option of breaking off ties with the Kremlin, Poroshenko told TIME in his first interview since taking office. His government has no choice but to seek “an understanding” with Russia, he says, even if for no other reason than the hard reality of Ukraine’s geography.

“Maybe some Ukrainians would like to have Sweden or Canada for a neighbor, but we have Russia,” he said on Monday inside the Presidential Administration in Kiev, fidgeting with a set of rosary beads throughout the interview. “So we can’t talk about a firm sense of security without a dialogue and an understanding with Russia.” That is why Poroshenko spent the first full day of his tenure on Sunday in marathon talks with the Russian Ambassador to Ukraine, Mikhail Zurabov. Their positions remain miles apart, at best leaving Poroshenko room for “cautious optimism” for restoring civil relations with Russia, he said.

The interview can be read here.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Bodies Of Dead Separatists - Evidence The FSB Is Behind Funneling Eastern Ukraine Fighters

Thirty-one bodies of separatists killed in eastern Ukraine are now headed back to Russia. But the effort to repatriate the bodies offers an important clue to the Russian government's involvement in the "uprising" in eastern Ukraine. The Atlantic Council reports:

Maria Turchenkova, a Russian reporter for the Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) radio station, this week offers one of the most poignant accounts of the Russian soldiery in this war. Tragically, she and a few colleagues got fleeting access to thirty-one Russian fighters in southeast Ukraine only by escorting their bodies back to Russia. Like the Russians' mission in Ukraine, their return in death was wrapped in secrecy. No officials would show Turchenkova the list of the dead.

But as she reports the bizarre, sad repatriation of these warriors to Russia, Turchenkova does snag the details of one fighter from the paperwork: Sergey Zhdanovich, born in 1966 and, according to Russian website posts that are not officially confirmed, a retired instructor in special operations for Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) – the successor agency to the Soviet KGB. Zhdanovich’s story is the latest to indicate that a major Russian channel for funneling fighters into Ukraine is the FSB, working through the city of Rostov in southern Russia.

Turchenkova titles her report “Cargo 200,” the military code used by the Soviet Union to label transport operations that carried the bodies of Soviet soldiers home from Afghanistan.

The Atlantic Council has translated the entire report, which can be read here.

On The Interpreter's Russia blog, however, we point out that there are several problems with The Atlantic Council's interpretation of the Ekho Moskvy article.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukraine's President Says He's Reached Mutual Understanding With Russia

Ukraine's new president Petro Poroshenko has vowed to meet with a trilateral commission each day. Representatives for Russia, the EU, and the OSCE are reportedly part of those meetings. Today, after only the first meeting, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry has indicated that there may have been a breakthrough:

"As a result of the work, the sides reached a mutual understanding on key stages of the implementation of the plan and on a list of priorities which will contribute to a de-escalation of the situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine," the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said.

Moscow did not immediately comment and Poroshenko has made few details of his plan public.

The talks are being mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a security and human rights watchdog. At the first talks on Sunday, with Russian envoy Mikhail Zurabov, Poroshenko said violence must end this week.

Yesterday Poroshenko said that this needs to be the last week of fighting, and it was imperative for all sides to come to an agreement to restore peace. 

But Russia and Ukraine have reportedly been on the same page before, only to find that Russia had a very different understanding of the facts on the ground than the rest of the parties involved in negotiations. Is this time different? This is the first time such a diplomatic breakthrough has been heralded since the inauguration of Poroshenko in an election that Moscow seems to be recognizing. Time will tell if Moscow is satisfied by the agreement, and whether the pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine abide by any agreement brokered by Kiev and Moscow.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Separatists Reportedly Attack Gay Nightclub in Donetsk

There are reports that on Saturday night, separatist militants attacked Babylon, a gay club in Donetsk. 

Munitsipalnaya Gazeta, a Donetsk-based newspaper, reported (transated by the The Interpreter):

Details of the incident were posted on a Ukrainian LGBT portal. Drag artist Norma Pospolita claimed on his Facebook page that around 20 people took part in the attack.

"They beat up the patrons, fired shots, grabbed money, jewelry, and took off with alcohol and some of the equipment. They maimed several people but it doesn't look like they killed anybody. At the time of the attack there were around 30 patrons inside," he wrote. 

According to Romana, a frequent guest at the establishment, "a couple of nights ago 15-20 people came in through the front door with assault rifles... they even beat the girls."

Local drag artist Evelina wrote: "It was an attack by [people from the Donetsk People's Republic] and an act of looting!  They fired at the club and bullied us for 2 hours! But we are all alive thank god."

The moderator of the VKontakte group for the gay club also confirmed the fact of the event.

With far-right Russian politicians such as Zhirinovsky and Barshakov openly supporting separatist groups, the emergence of groups such as the separatist 'Russian Orthodox Army' and the growing level of homophobia and anti-LGBT violence that has flourished in Russia, with apparent state support in the form of the 'gay propaganda' ban, this is a worrying development from the Russian-backed separatists.
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