Update on the situation in Ukraine. April 4-6
A Ukrainian military officer is reported to have been shot in Crimea. On Saturday the body of a civil activist, kidnapped the previous day, was found in the Cherkassy region. It is highly possible that the ‘Crimean scenario’ will play out again in Eastern Ukraine - the separatists began to seize regional administration buildings.
We have learned that on Sunday evening in Crimea, a Russian soldier shot a Ukrainian military officer. The head of the Centre for Military Political Studies, Dmitriy Timchuk, has posted about the incident on his Facebook page. The information was confirmed by the head of the Crimean media center of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Vladislav Seleznev: "Sources of Novofedorovka report that yesterday at 22:50, as a result of a conflict between Ukrainian and Russian officers, Ukrainian Major Stanislav Karachevsky was shot dead with an assault rifle. The murder took place on the 5th floor of the hostel where the Ukrainian military personnel of Saki airbase were located. Captain Artem Yarmolenko was taken away by the investigation department of the Russian Federation in Sevastopol. Both officers have two children at home. Karachevsky and Yarmolenko planned to leave for ‘mainland’ Ukraine on April 9th. The Ukrainian officers were unarmed during the conflict.
According to the EuromaidanSOS initiative, five people are still missing in Crimea:
- Alexey Potapov
- Peter Abroskin
- Ivan Bondarec
- Valery Vashuk
- Vasily Chernysh (activist, disappeared in Sevastopol on March 14)
In Crimea, three fans of FC Dnepr, who were supporting their team at a match in Simferopol, were released. The men were detained during a match on Saturday on suspicion of being members of radical groups. According to the fans, their Ukrainian passports were taken and they were not allowed to use mobile phones. Information about the incident is confirmed by the "Dnepr" football club. However, it’s also noted that the incident has been resolved and the fans were released.
Crimean Legal Receptions Network has created a list of hotline telephone numbers and services that assist Crimeans. The database is available here.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Social Policy declared that it’s technically impossible to pay pensions to Ukrainians in Crimea and recommends that they travel to the regions of the ‘mainland’ to receive it. "The only way for the Crimean and Sevastopol residents to receive a pension is to go to neighboring regions, for example, to Kherson and apply for a pension at the territory of Kherson" - the Minister Lyudmila Denisova said. According to her, one of her two deputies spent two days in Crimea, trying to find common ground with the local authorities, but failed.
Ukrposhta, the Ukrainian government postal service, suspended reception and delivery of mail in Crimea. ‘In connection with the forcible seizure of Crimea and Sevastopol and blockade of all post offices of Ukrposhta on the peninsula, the national carrier has to temporarily stop accepting and delivering mail to be sent to Crimea and Sevastopol until the situation is resolved’ - the Enterprise’s report says. Since 27 March 2014 ‘Ukrposhta’ has been forwarding all mailings to Crimea as international mail through Russia.
According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, 1,579 military personnel and their families arrived in the ‘mainland’ of the country from Crimea, 1,761 people in total. Assembly and registration points for troops arriving from Crimea were opened on military bases in Kiev, Vinnitsa, Odessa, Nikolayev and Ochakov. Moreover,140 items of machinery and weapons have been withdrawn from Crimea (including 41 tanks and 82 cars).
There are increasing reports of Crimean "border guards" robbing people who are leaving the peninsula. Armed people seized the military documents of a Ukrainian officer who was going to serve on the ‘mainland’. Without comment, they also took one hundred thousand hryvnia from a pharmaceutical company representative, who was transporting company money in cash due to a peninsula bank system failure. A Ukrainian Naval Officer told EuromidanSOS initiative about the search of personal belongings of Ukrainian military who leave Crimea. Valuable things are often taken from them during such searches. ‘Boarder service’ men seized golden jewelry from a military officer’s wife explaining that they ‘belong to the people of Crimea’.
There is a number of residents of Crimea who are going to keep Ukrainian citizenship. At the moment, the list of such citizens already includes 137 people. In order to keep Ukrainian citizenship, it’s necessary to visit the Federal Migration Service and write a declaration of renunciation of Russian citizenship. Such administrative points are located in Simferopol, Bakhchisaray and Belogorsk.
Despite the decreased concentration of Russian troops on Ukrainian borders, the situation in the region remains tense. During the last weekend, separatist rallies in support of creating a "federation" took place in some regions and questions were raised on the separation of these regions from Ukraine. On Sunday, administrative buildings were captured in several cities.
Here you can see a map of Russian troop positions on the borders with Ukraine (as of April 4) prepared by the website "informational resistance".
On Sunday night, about 200 people in masks and helmets occupied the regional administration building. Journalist Slava Mavrichev reports that these people are UVB (Ukrainian Eastern Bloc) activists and other representatives of the pro-Russian movements: ‘They ask their supporters to survive a day. Creating an impression that reinforcements will come after. They are awaiting reinforcements from Donetsk, Luhansk - and not only. They are also confident that police will join their side tomorrow. The groups are organizing security, water and food supply ... They have promised to let in clerks to allow them to work... their demands are not yet clear. There are constant disputes. Referendum, federalization, democracy ... The only thing that unites them is that - they do not recognize the ‘Bandera’s authorities’ in Kiev".
As of Monday morning, police had cleared the regional administration building.
In the face of Sunday’s clashes between Euromaidan and anti-Maidan activists that occurred near Shevchenko theater in Kharkov, a criminal case under charges of "hooliganism" has been opened. It is reported that about 15 Euromaidan activists were beaten by separatists.
On the 4th of March, a rally took place under the Consulate of the Russian Federation in Kharkov. Ukrainian activists handed over a letter to the consulate, which requires non-interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine. The rally was held under the slogan "Ukraine is united" and "Say no to war!"
Activists who are engaged in supporting military units in the Kharkiv region reported that soldiers need simple everyday things. Initiative groups help to organize the repair of equipment, supply spare parts and other items (flashlights, binoculars, etc.) Assistance is provided through donations from citizens - the activists do not receive assistance from the Ministry of Defence or the regional administration. Local human rights activists also note the passivity of public authorities. There is evidence that after the arrest of activists detained by police, personal data falls into public access on the Internet. In addition, virtually nothing has been done to strengthen the borders of the Kharkiv region.
On Sunday, pro-Russian rally participants tried to remove journalists from the area where they were protesting. In the middle of the day, armed men stormed the building of the regional administration, and eventually succeeded in occupying the building. Police put up virtually no resistance. Later, the Interior Ministry press service issued a statement that its employees do not actually interfere with the action of pro-Russian activists, "to avoid escalation of the conflict."
Among the main requirements of pro-Russian rallies participants are the holding of a referendum which includes questions asking if Donetsk should become a republic, if this "Donetsk republic" should be a part of Ukraine on federal conditions, and whether Ukraine should become a federal state. At the same time, as reported by a Euromaidan SOS mobile group, Ukrainian flags fluttered over the administrative buildings, educational institutions, and many shops and cafes in the city center over the weekend.
In Severodonetsk, six citizens came to get medical care as a result of a collision.
Pro-Russian activists attacked human rights defenders Alexandra Dvoreckaya and Alena Luneva, who came to Donetsk to tell journalists and the public about the situation in Crimea.
"One of the pro-Russian activists on Lenin Square tried to give us some kind of newsletter and asked us to sign it, saying that after the referendum, everything will be fine, I replied: "Everything is already fine In Crimea." Conflict took place after my reply. Pro-Russian activists noticed a Ukrainian ribbon attached to my bag; this ribbon wasn’t ripped off even in Crimea, and I have worn it since December. But we were approached by several young men in camouflage. They tore the ribbon off and started to threaten us, saying, "go away, or you will be killed!", said Alexandera Dvoretskaya. According to activists, the police did nothing to resolve the conflict and simply watched as pro-Russian protestors threatened them and demanded their passports. "In Crimea, it all started very similarly. At first it was dangerous to walk with Ukrainian symbols, later it became dangerous to be a journalists," said Alena Luneva.
The SBU in the Donetsk region launched a criminal case against a Ukrainian citizen, Robert Doney. He is suspected of involvement in the riots in Donetsk on the 5-6th of March, and calling for the seizure of state power (Donetsk regional state administration building, management of the Security Service of Ukraine in Donetsk region and Donetsk Region’s Prosecutor's Office) .
Participants of pro-Russian rallies took over the building of the local administration of the Ukrainian Security Service. According to an ‘Ostrov’ article, the protesters chanted ‘We want Russia!’, ‘Putin will come and bring order!’ and ‘Yulya go to jail!’. When the crowd (many people with signs of alcohol intoxication) was well warmed up, an elderly woman shouted: ‘To the assault!‘. The crowd began to break windows in and throw eggs. The front door was burned off.
About 30 detainees who were involved in the assault and seizure of Lugansk’s Security Service building have been placed under house arrest, as stated by the Deputy Governor of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine, Andriy Senchenko. According to him, ‘the events in Lugansk are the reaction to the arrest of 15 people, from whom 300 Kalashnikov assault rifles and many other weapons were seized yesterday’.
On the previous day, the Security Service of Ukraine in the Lugansk region detained and disarmed an undercover subversive group. ‘The group of attackers intended to commit an armed seizure of power in the Luhansk region on the 10th of April’ - according to a Security Service statement. “As a result of a special operation, 15 active members of a subversive group are arrested, and police confiscated 300 assault rifles, a grenade launcher, a large number of grenades, five pistols, Molotov cocktails, and smooth-edged weapons’.
A EuromaidanSOS mobile group reports that in Alchevsk (a city in Lugansk region), TV operators on Saturday turned off the Ukrainian STB channel in order to air instead a rally in support of separatism which was held in the city on the 5th of April. Calls to locals cable operator ("Volia") and the STB’s hotline went unanswered.
This update is prepared by EuromaidanSOS initiative and the Civic Solidarity Platform