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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Ukraine Liveblog Day 225

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.
Russian-Backed Fighters Continue to Fire from Residential Areas in Donetsk
Russian-backed fighters continue to shell from residential areas in Donetsk. reported this afternoon, citing unconfirmed reports, that fighting continued in three districts: Petrovsky, Kievsky and Kuybyshevsky, with some damage to buildings and injuries of civilians.

Work continues on restoration of electrical power. Six sub-stations in Kuybyshevsky and Kievsky districts were restored, leaving 43 more to go. Public transportation is operating, but with detours around areas of combat, designated on the mayor's office website..

Earlier today reported that due to shelling, the building at 88 Krupskaya St. in Kievsky District was totally destroyed. Due to major shelling of gas lines, about 50 streets lost gas, mainly in the private sector.

A video was uploaded with today's date and the title, "Donetsk. Grad system firing 30.09.2014. Shirokiy"

The blogger @djp3tros from Ukraine@War has geolocated the video here on Google Maps for The Interpreter.

This screenshot shows an unfinished building with a fence near a field with trees and a path leading alongside it, and the port and fields in the distance.


This camera position, line of sight and Grad trajectories are marked on this screenshot:


With a range of 20 kilometers, the Grad missiles are fired toward the town of Marinka:


The Russian MilitaryMap reports that there are Ukrainian positions here, as marked:


Another video uploaded today to YouTube and labelled "Makeyeva, shelling from residential districts 30.09.2014." 

This screenshot shows the view from the camera position.


This is marked on the map as follows:


This Grad has a slightly different position compared to the previous video. Either this was within the margin of error, or there was another Grad firing separately. much for the ceasefire.

Another copy of the video:

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Pro-Russian Politician And Member of Yanukovych's Party Attacked In Odessa

Last week we reported that several members of parliament who belong to the Party of Regions, the party of ousted president Viktor Yanukovych, were harassed in Kiev. Protesters eager to see them leave the government or perhaps be prosecuted literally threw Viktor Pylypyshyn and Vitaliy Zhuravsky into the trash last week.

Today another Party of Regions MP, Nestor Shufrych, was attacked in Odessa. RFE/RL reports:

A mob of about 20 attacked Shufrych as he tried to enter the main regional municipal building in Odesa. Some attackers wore masks, camouflage fatigues, and armbands of the right-wing nationalist Right Sector group.

Shufrych is a critic of Kyiv's military campaign against pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

His supporters said Shufrych was campaigning on behalf of an opposition bloc running against pro-Western and Ukrainian nationalist parties.

The video below, which may be disturbing, shows the assault on Shufrych. Nearby, some in the crowd are flying the red and black flags of Pravy Sektor, or Right Sector, the Ukrainian ultranationalist party whose candidate Dmitro Tarosh received less than 1% of the votes in the recent presidential election.

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Hit By Sanctions, Uncertainty, And Kremlin Incursion on Private Sector, Russian Ruble Hits All Time Low

This is a cross-post from our Russia This Week liveblog.

The Russian ruble continues to bleed value this week.

Translation: the Russian ruble has fallen to a new record low. How to stop this fall? .0253 rubles per dollar

There are reports that Moscow is considering capital control measures, though Moscow is denying this. Nasdaq reports:

The Russian ruble hit a fresh record low against the central bank's target basket of U.S. dollars and euros, slipping below the level at which the bank intervenes to support the currency, amid fears that Moscow may consider capital controls to stem the flow of money out of the country.

The ruble recovered slightly after the central bank and the Finance Ministry said they aren't considering such restrictions. It had slid to more than 44.40 rubles to the basket after Bloomberg cited two unnamed Russian officials as saying the bank was considering temporary capital controls if capital outflows intensified.

The drop Tuesday underscores nervousness around the ruble, which has dropped nearly one-fifth against the U.S. dollar this year, battered by large capital outflows and an economy close to stagnation amid Western sanctions.

The ruble closed at 44.25 to the euro-dollar basket after briefly touching 44.52, crossing the threshold at which the central bank starts selling dollars and euros to smooth fluctuations. The ruble also hit an record of 39.89 against the dollar before recovering to 39.57 by the end of the day.

Russian officials were quick to deny the report of considering capital controls, which Russia scrapped in 2006. A Finance Ministry official, who asked not to be named, said the ministry would be against such a move, even if the government were considering it. Net outflows are forecast at $100 billion this year.

As we've been reporting since last week, one of the main causes for the sudden fall in the ruble is the confirmation of a lawsuit which will nationalize Bashneft, an oil company which is now a division of the Russian conglomerate Sistema (headed by Vladimir Yevtushenkov). Yevtushenkov, who reportedly has connections to the Ukrainian separatists, was put under house arrest, sparking fear among investors that Russia is once again trying to exert greater control over the energy sector and reminding some of the imprisonment of Mikhail Khodorkovsky more than ten years ago.

Yesterday Sistema's stock plummeted, helping to push the Russian stock index MICEX down. ITAR-TASS reports:

The Sistema stock fell by 20.3% to 13.550 rubles ($0.34) per share compared with a 0.09% fall in the MICEX stock index and a 1.14% decline in the RTS stock index.

Sistema's stock was falling by 7-10% in early Monday trading on the Moscow Stock Exchange on Monday and then accelerated its plunge in the afternoon to 15.6% to 14.350 rubles ($0.36) per share.

Bloomberg, however, notes that the struggling MICEX has more to do with the tumbling ruble than with stock selloffs:

While the RTS gauge, which is quoted in dollars, is down 21 percent from a six-month high reached June 24, the benchmark Micex Index (INDEXCF), which is denominated in rubles, has only lost 7.3 percent over that time. The ruble's performance in the past three months -- a 14 percent tumble that's the biggest decline among all currencies tracked by Bloomberg -- accounts for the difference.

"The plunge in the ruble is affecting the RTS, and it looks like there will be further pressure on the currency," Kirill Yankovsky, director of equity sales at Otkritie Capital, said by phone from London yesterday. "The RTS index hasn't had an opportunity to leave the bear market for most of this year, it was down with just a few rebounds, and there is little incentive for the index to go up."

The RTS has plunged since June as international sanctions against Russia for its involvement in the Ukrainian conflict prompted investors to pull money out of an economy that's on the brink of recession. The gauge completed its first 20 percent drop that commonly defines a bear market in March as President Vladimir Putin annexed the Crimean peninsula. It then rebounded in May as the central bank intervened to strengthen the ruble and tension in eastern Ukraine eased.

Today the MICEX is actually up, but only by .2%, following a substantial day of losses.

The bottom line -- after months of tensions and increasingly costly sanctions, new worries are deterring investors and weakening the value of Russia's currency. Since the economic outlook for Russia before all of these events was not terribly promising, without new and better news for investors there is no indication that either the ruble or Russia's markets are likely to rally any time soon.

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
On Anniversary of Baby Yar Massacre of Jews, Poroshenko Causes Controversy

Yesterday and today are the anniversary of the most notorious massacre in Ukraine at Baby Yar (also known as Babyn Yar) during which 33,771 Jews were killed on the night of 29-30 September 1941 by the Nazis in occupied Kiev.

Other groups of people including Ukrainian nationalists, communists, Roma, and POWs were also killed at this site over time, numbering 100,000-150,000 victims.

The anniversary continues to generate controversy and continues to be remembered by some as "a massacre of Soviet people" without specific reference to Jews -- which was Soviet policy for decades.

Translation: Tragedy of Baby Yar 29 September 1941, at Baby Yar the Germans executed more than 150,000 people.

Translation: Ceremony in memory of the victims of Baby Yar.

The occasion continues to cause bitter reproaches over the role of some Ukrainians who collaborated with the Nazis, although Ukrainian soldiers also fought the Nazis in World War II and Ukraine suffered large numbers of casualties.

Translation: As for Baby Yar, my grandmother told me that in Kiev, there were a lot of polizei, working for the Germans.

President Petro Poroshenko marked the occasion by laying flowers at the monument. He published two tweets in Ukrainian and English.

Translation: Petro Poroshenko at a ceremony to commemorate the victims of Baby Yar: Ukraine will never permit the restoration of fascism.

Translation: Poroshenko knelt before the memorial to the victims of Baby Yar.

But he then went to lay flowers at a monument to the OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists), a controversial ultranationalist partisan group that carried out assassinations against Polish and Ukrainian public figures and was also notorious for pogroms against Jews. Stepan Bandera, the controversial Ukrainian hero also involved in atrocities -- today better known from the Kremlin's anti-Ukrainian propaganda than from his few actual followers -- was a member of this group.

The action caused a storm of reactions in social media, and was seized on by supporters of the Russian-backed separatists as proof of Kiev's supposed "fascist" leanings:

Translation: We laid flowers to the memorial Cross to the members of the underground Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. Heros do not die. Glory to Ukraine.

Translation: On the day of commemoration of the victims of Baby Yar, Poroshenko laid flowers to the henchmen from the OUN-UPA.

Translation: On the day of memory of victims of Baby Yar, Poroshenko lay "flowers at a memorial Cross for the members of the underground OUN." Flowers for the henchmen of Baby Yar.

Translation: Who else will dare to call Poroshenko Valtzman on the day to memory of the victims of Baby Yar lay flowers to the OUN.

This last tweet relates to a notion that Poroshenko has Jewish heritage indicated by his father's surname "Valtzman," an antisemitic conspiracy meme popularized by the Russian state media, Russian government front groups and leftwing blogs in the US, although his Wikipedia entry does not contain this.

Poroshenko's diametrically-opposed flower-laying actions are indicative of the fine line he is walking among different political forces in Ukraine.

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Heavy Shelling Around Donetsk Airport

Reports are coming in of continued heavy fighting around the government-held Donetsk Airport, to the north of the separatist-held city.

The official website of the mayor of Donetsk, Oleksandr Lukyanchenko, reports that, as of 18:30 local time, heavy fighting is under way in the north of the city.

According to the council, a shell struck a high-voltage power line knocking out several substations, leaving swathes of the Kievsky, Voroshilovsky and Kuybyshevsky districts without power.