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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 226

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
REN-TV Mismatches Grave Photos Yet Again; OSCE Disassociates from Graudins

REN-TV just can't seem to get the pictures right for a sensational story of mass graves at the center of the Kremlin's unsubtantiated claim that Ukraine has committed "genocide" in defending itself from the war launched by Russia itself, starting in February in Crimea.

At first, the TV station, owned by an oligarch close to President Vladimir Putin, published photos of the victims of MH17 as if they had been disinterred from the mass graves found in Nizhnyaya Krynka, about 60 kilometers from Donetsk. When that was called out by Stephen Ennis of the BBC yesterday, REN-TV then deleted the MH17 photos and substituted a photo of a victim that purported to be from the Nizhnaya Krynka site in September.

But as a reader of The Interpreter points out, it's actually a photo from a victim of clashes in Mariupol in May of this year covered by Reuters:



REN-TV cropped a photo from the Mariupol scene in such a way that it would not be readily recognized or found in Google Image Search:

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A man looks at a dead body after Ukrainian forces attacked police headquarters in an attempt to drive out pro-Russian militants in Mariupol May 9, 2014. Ukrainian security forces killed about 20 pro-Russian rebels who tried to seize control of police headquarters in the eastern port city of Mariupol on Friday, the Interior Minister said. (Photo by Marko Djurica/Reuters)

At least 3,000 people have been killed of a variety of ethnic groups including Ukrainian, Russian, Crimean Tatar, and Chechen, but there is no evidence of a specific policy of "ethnic cleansing".

Moscow accused Ukraine of atrocities last week when three graves containing 9 victims were found, although forensic examination is not complete. OSCE observers emphasized that they do not supply such forensic expertise.

Then Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the prime minister of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" had to walk back statements widely reported September 29 to the effect that "40" civilians were in mass graves and "internal organs were removed"; he subsequently explained on September 30 that these were both separatist fighters and Ukrainian soldiers, not civilians, and they had suffered shrapnel wounds.

There was also another provocation staged by a pro-Russian Latvian human rights activist Einars Graudins who was styled in the Russian state media as an "OSCE expert" claiming without basis that there were "400 bodies" in the graves -- a number that evidently related to the number of identified bodies in general in the morgues in Donetsk, not in the mass graves, although this was not confirmed.

OSCE then later disassociated itself from Graudins in a tweet.



The Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) is the group that filed the original report of the mass graves.

This is just the latest episode in a chronic disinformation and distortion campaign related to victims of the war.

Graudins plans to run in the Latvian general elections on October 4.  He also appeared on TV Novosti on September 29 (with a different spelling of his name) accusing the Ukrainian army of "genocide" and rape of underage girls -- a claim that he is the only one to make, and for which there is no basis. These charges have also been repeated on other pro-Kremlin websites in a chorus of disinformation.

Last weekend, pro-government groups in Moscow staged a rally on the theme of the "murdered innocents in Donetsk" at the Poklonnaya Gora war memorial, denouncing the Kiev government as "fascist."
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russia Cutting Gas Supplies to Europe As Punishment For Supplying Ukraine

It's getting cold in parts of Europe, with low temperatures in the 40s (F) or even below freezing in some locations. And yet, as retribution for supplying Ukraine with gas, Russia is cutting Europe's natural gas supply. The Moscow Times reports:

Amid international tensions over the crisis in Ukraine, a steep drop in deliveries to Europe pushed Gazprom's total gas exports down 24 percent in September compared to a year prior, a report by UralSib Capital said Wednesday.

Exports to countries outside the former Soviet Union fell 18.6 percent year-on-year, following declines of 14 percent in July and August, the report said, citing preliminary data gathered by CDU TEK between Sept. 1 and 28. Exports to these areas had grown over the first two quarters of the year by between 1 and 2 percent.

Gazprom has scaled down its gas deliveries to Poland, Slovakia, Austria and Hungary since September, Reuters reported, in what has been widely viewed in the West as an attempt to put pressure on both Europe and Ukraine leading up to the critical winter months.

The Russian media is reporting on a different angle of this story -- Russia's attempts to find new markets for its gas. Russia is massively expanding its supply to natural gas to Turkey. The Russian state-operated ITAR-TASS reports:

“Turkey is our most dynamically developing market in regard to supplies. Gazprom has always reacted to the growing demand for gas in Turkey by increasing supplies through the Blue Stream,” [Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller] said.

“Today’s decision will allow the Turkish economy to progress to new stages,” the Gazprom CEO said.

This year, Russian gas supplies to Turkey hit historic levels, reaching 30 billion cubic meters compared with 26.6 billion cubic meters in 2013.

The Blue Stream gas pipeline, launched in December 2002, with the total length of 1,213 kilometers (754 miles), carries gas from Russia to Turkey across the Black Sea.

Turkey is the second largest Russian gas importing country after Germany. Last year, 26.61 billion cubic meters of gas were delivered to Turkey on two routes, particularly by land and Blue Stream.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Schastye Reportedly Shelled Again

UNIAN reports that a representative from the Lugansk Regional State Administration (OGA) has told them that the town of Schastye is being shelled with mortars, allegedly striking the area around the stadium and power plant.

UNIAN adds (translated by The Interpreter):

In addition, the OGA representative did not rule out the possibility that the terrorists will attempt to storm the power station. The streets in the town have been deserted, people are hiding at home.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukrainian Volunteer Fighter 'Confesses To Crimes' And Taken To Moscow For Psychiatric Exam

In the same statement which we excerpted and translated below, Vladimir Markin, the spokesman for the SKR also announced that a Ukrainian volunteer fighter has "testified" to war crimes.

The man in question, Sergei Litvinov, was reportedly a volunteer in the Dnipro-1 volunteer battalion. Markin claimed that Litvinov was arrested in Russian territory, seeking medical aid while "disguised as a peaceful civilian." 

This line echoes Russian claims regarding the illegal rendition of another Ukrainian military officer, Nadezhda Savchenko, who was captured by separatist militants in the Lugansk region, filmed by Russian TV, but then, Russia claims, made her way across the border on her own will before being arrested.

Savchenko is now being held in Moscow, where she will undergo psychiatric testing at the infamous Serbsky Centre, once used for indefinitely detaining and torturing Soviet dissidents. According to Markin, Litvinov will also be subjected to the same 'examination' there.

Russia's state-owned TASS news agency reports in English:

“Litvinov has testified that he personally killed peaceful civilians, including women and children who were not linked to the military conflict, in the villages of Melovoye, Shirokiy, Makarovo and Kamyshnoye /in Ukraine’s Lugansk region/ on the basis of information provided by anonymous sources,” Vladimir Markin, the head of the Russian Investigative Committee, said, adding Litvinov had received remuneration from oligarch Igor Kolomoisky’s personal funds for committing the murders.

"I would like to calm those who are going to accuse us of bringing the man into Russia from the territory of another state: this man has entered the Russian territory himself disguised as a peaceful civilian in order to be admitted to hospital. At present, Litvinov has been arrested and will be escorted to Moscow soon to undergo a psychological examination,” Markin said.

A psychological examination is a standard procedure required when someone is suspected of committing grave crimes against human life and health.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Evidence Suggests Rockets That Hit School In Donetsk Likely Came From Separatist Territory
Today the Russian government is blaming a rocket attack in Donetsk on the Ukrainian troops who are stationed in Donetsk International Airport, a location which, as we noted earlier, is under near constant attack from separatist forces. However, there are holes in the theory that the Ukrainian troops launched the attack, while there are other indications that the rockets came from territory occupied by Russian-backed militants.
AFP's Paul Gypteau is on scene and he says that one of the rockets sticking out of an impact crater clearly shows that the rockets came from the opposite direction as the Donetsk Airport -- from the territory occupied by Russian-backed militants:

In the picture posted by Gypteau, he is facing southwest and the rocket appears to be stuck in the ground as if it came from where he is facing. We've lined up the Google Street View and Gypteau's picture, though we've positioned the camera on the Street View further back to give a sense of the wider scene:

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Here is a map of the current situation around Donetsk, drawn from LiveUAMap.com. To the southwest of Donetsk, the closest Ukrainian controlled territory is more than 30 kilometers from the area where these rockets landed. Ukraine and the Russian-backed separatists have agreed to a buffer zone which would put their artillery another 15 kilometers behind the front lines. That means that it is highly unlikely, or maybe completely impossible, that Ukraine could have fired rockets from the southwest. However, separatist rockets could be outside of that buffer zone and still hit this target.

Map-of-war-in-Ukraine-UkraineUnderAttack

We are working with arms experts to identify the rocket used in this attack, and a positive identification may definitively rule out the Ukrainian military as having launched this attack.

In this graphic video, you can see many of the victims, the bus which is on fire, and some of the nearby buildings.

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