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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 261

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
Rocket That Killed 2 Teens in Donetsk May Not Have Come from Ukrainian Forces

Earlier today we reported that two children were killed and four were wounded at School No. 63 in Donetsk when a rocket hit the soccer field where they were playing.

Daniil Kuznetsov, 14, an 8th grader, and Andrei Yeliseyev, a graduate of the school, were killed by the shrapnel. The school was closed due to shelling, but the children had gathered to play soccer.

The Russian state media and YouTube channels of the Russian-backed separatist fighters rushed to blame the Ukrainian military for the tragedy.

St. Petersburg's Channel 5 was among the first to the scene within 10 minutes and broadcast this news report, "Donetsk School No. 63 Under Fire."


At 0:35, damage to the soccer field's fence is visible, and the victims' bodies, covered in a tarp:

School-Shelled.jpg

School No. 63 is located at 10 Stepanenka Avenue in the Kuybyshevsky District of Donetsk, which is located here on Google Maps and is visible in Google Street View here.

This scene with the school and two playing fields, one to the north and the second to the south matches up on Google Maps as follows:

School-and-Field.jpg

The southern soccer field is where the shells hit.

The soccer fields and fences were not yet built in 2011, when Google Street View filmed the scene

But the position of the salmon-colored school building in relationship to the  soccer field and fence built later can still be seen.

GSV-Soccer-Field.jpg

The Ukrainian news site Segodnya.ua had a picture of the field after it was built and fenced. It shows the northern playing field, but not the southern field where the rockets struck.

Segodnya said after the first strike, children went and hid in a bomb shelter because shells continue to hit the area.


70_main.jpg

Natalya Yemenchenko, director of communications of System Capital Management (SCM), the company headed by Ukrainian businessman Rinat Akhmetov, published photos on her Facebook page made by Pomozhem ("We'll Help"), the humanitarian organization funded by Akhmetov. Earlier, Akhmetov, a graduate of School No. 63 himself, had funded the renovation of the school and installation of the playing fields and fences.

One photo shows a reporter from Russian state TV's Channel 1 standing in front of the fence to the soccer field at the north end. The fence is dented in one direction from the racket, so it may have come from the left or east.

Fence-Bent.jpg

Channel 1's news report has a close-up of the fence and victims (warning: graphic).

In this screenshot from the video, the reporter is standing by the salmon building with the white pillars in a recessed entrance, facing south from Mirogorodskaya Street toward a group of houses. The shell appears to have hit the north end of the soccer field:

Stand-Up.jpg

Then there is a view on to the soccer field, facing south with the sidewalk on the right and the fence on the right with the houses in the background:

Sidewalk.jpg

This appears to match the view in Google Street View (2013) before the turf was laid and fence built, looking south from Mirogorodskaya Street toward Stepanenka Street:

Soccer-Field-Pre-Fence.jpg

Another photo taken by Pomozhem appears to show damage to the east side of the building, although more photos showing the whole building would be needed to make further confirmation. The damage is minor and may have been made by shrapnel flying up, so it is difficult to determine something about the direction of the missile from this damage.

Pomozhem-2.jpg

The Channel 5 video also shows how the fence is dented and damaged.

School-Under-Fire.jpg

Eye-witness reports also spoke of an "explosion at the stadium". By this they do not mean the Donetsk Stadium which is not near here, they mean the playing field of the school which is also called stadion or stadium.

Vitaly Skraganyuk, one of the boys injured by shrapnel filmed by LifeNews said that first a shell "fell on his school" which he didn't see, then a second one landed by the soccer field's fence and exploded, killing killed two of his classmates (Warning: Graphic).


The Interpreter has translated his account:

We were playing soccer near School No. 63. At first everything was quiet. Then a shell suddenly fell right on the school. We tried to run away, there were 9 of us, and there at the exit, near the fence on the field, a shell landed. Three guys managed to run away, it killed two of my friends, and four others, including me, were injured.

The eldest who was hit was 21. The youngest was about 10-11 years old. He's a little boy still. The boy killed was 14 years old. The second [killed] was 17.

The first shell landed -- I didn't see it exactly -- I was too distracted when it fell. But the second fell right under the playing field, not going into it, but under the fence, under the barrier. The fence exploded, so it turned out I didn't manage to run up to it, and it [the shell] caught me.

I suffered three shrapnel wounds to the leg, a fracture, and a shrapnel wound in the groin, then it flew into my thigh. Then also one guy had his knee cap knocked out completely, [shrapnel landed on another guy on his arm and leg, and to the back of his neck a bit. One kid, the youngest who was 11, it hit him either in the stomach or the back, I don't know exactly, and it flew into his leg. But he somehow managed to run out. He was already on the way out when he was caught from behind. So it was okay.


Novorossiya TV, a video channel supporting the Russian-backed separatists, uploaded a video with a reporter who said that the missiles were fired "from Peski," a position the Ukrainian military's forces to the northwest of the Donetsk Airport. The video contains graphic footage of the explosion area and the victims' remains, but it is very close-up and difficult to determine anything about the scene, which was filmed in the dark.

We showed these videos and pictures to our colleague @djp3tros of Ukraine@War and asked him to analyze the direction of the shells.

He noted the damage from the explosion at the fence:

School%2B1.jpg

The red arrow notes the direction from which the shell likely came, as the fence is bent on the left side, and still straight on the right side:

Therefore it is possible that the rocket came from the east, from firing positions in territory controlled by the Russian-backed separatists there, rather than from the north (the Donetsk Airport) or northwest (Peski):

School%2B5.jpg

We're waiting to get more confirmations from the scene, but there appears to be enough evidence to question the narrative that the shell came from known Ukrainian positions, and further investigation should be made of positions controlled by the separatists.

Note: we changed the word "missile" which appeared in the first version of this article to "rocket" to make it clear that the school was struck by artillery fire. The Russian term raketa can be used for either "missile" or "rocket."

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
Russian Human Rights Activist Barred From Entry to Ukraine

A prominent Russian human rights activist, Vitaly Ponomaryov, has been stopped at the border by Ukrainian border services. From our report on Russia This Week:

Could this be a name mix-up as occurred last month between TV director Dmitry Kiselyev and TV host Yevgeny Kiselyov?

There's Vyacheslav Ponomarev, the "people's mayor of Slavyansk" who was part of the Russian-backed separatist leadership, rumored to have been executed by his fellow leaders in July, although there have been some sightings of him since then.

See coverage of this incident on our Russia This Week column.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Men Who Killed Moscow Policemen May Have Fought In Ukraine

Two policemen have been murdered in the Moscow region. Below is an excerpt from our Russia This Week column:

The two policemen on patrol were found dead the night of November 2 on the highway in Perepechino, a suburb of Moscow. Their colleagues noticed they had stopped responding to radio calls and went to look for them.

The cops were in the middle of writing up a ticket on the drivers of a UAZ for driving while intoxicated when they were shot; one was found dead still clutching the ticket. The other was found to have a bullet missing from his gun, and may have tried to shoot back.

But as we point out, there is a body of evidence that suggests that these men were on leave from fighting in eastern Ukraine.

Read our entire update here.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
'Human Barbie' Attacked In Odessa
A woman was reportedly beaten in Odessa. That probably would not be a headline in the international press, except for the fact that the victim was the world-famous "human barbie" Valeria Lukyanova, and the incident does not appear to be a robbery:

Al Arabiya reports:

“I came back home from a shop with bags and entered the door code when two men rushed from the dark and attacked me,” she said, adding that the attackers did not say anything and did not try to rob her.

“It happened in a flash: they hit me on the head, several times on my jaw, then one of them began strangling me,” she said.

The assault continued until one of her neighbors appeared, prompting the attackers to flee, Lukyanova said.

The model had to be hospitalized and was only released on Tuesday.

For more details of the attack and for pictures of Lukyanova's injuries, see Al Arabiya.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Heavy Fighting In Donetsk As Two Teens Killed Near School
The fighting in Donetsk has grown significantly more intense over the last 24 hours:

The BBC has added some details about a story we covered earlier -- the deaths of two teenage school students outside of a school near the airport:

The shell landed close to Donetsk airport at a school which was rebuilt by one of Ukraine's richest men, steel billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, and reopened last year.

The head of Mr Akhmetov's humanitarian fund, Rimma Fil, told the BBC that the children had been playing football after lunch when the shell exploded on the pitch.

The four wounded teenagers were being treated in intensive care, she said. Mr Akhmetov described the attack as a terrible tragedy and appealed for an end to the violence.

Shelling in Donetsk intensified on Tuesday night and there were reports earlier on Wednesday of one civilian killed and several others wounded in mortar attacks.

As shelling has increased dramatically in Donetsk, it's not clear yet who fired the shell that hit the school -- the Ukrainian military soldiers who are surrounded and trapped inside Donetsk airport, or the Russian-backed insurgents who are attacking that airport. The Guardian's Alex Luhn, however, is reporting that the shell that hit the school did come from the airport:


We asked The Wall Street Journal's Paul Sonne for more information on whether the artillery fire was incoming or outgoing, and whether he knew who fired the shell that hit the school:
We have not seen any comment from the Ukrainian government on this matter.
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