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Ukraine News in brief. Wednesday 20 December. [Ukrainian sources]

on Wed Dec 20, 2017 1:04 pm
WEDNESDAY HEADLINES:
United States imposed sanctions against two more defense enterprises of the Russian Federation.  Russia and its proxies are source of violence in eastern Ukraine, - US Department of State.  The United States has introduced Ramzan Kadyrov to the "Magnitsk list".  US accused Russia of firing "Grades" of Novolugansk and demanding withdrawal of Russian troops from the Donbas.  Before the visit to Kiev, Freeland discussed with Tillerson the restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine.  European Commission has published a report on the suspension of visa-free travel to Ukraine.  Poland has been told how Russia is conducting anti-Ukrainian propaganda in the country..  Minsk negotiations confirmed the agreement on the exchange of prisoners before the New Year.  "Let's suppose that Crimea is not ours, Russia is coming from the Donbas, and then it's a civil war. It's obvious," Sobchak said.  There was a serious threat: Russia explained why Putin is making concessions to peacekeepers on the Donbas.  Russia is ready to return its troops to the SCCC under certain conditions.  The purpose of Russia's exit from the SCCC is to accuse Ukraine of disturbing the silence. The Armed Forces are ready to change the situation.  Gazprom demands from Naftogaz $ 1.3 bln for gas supplies to the occupied Donbas.  Russia refused to convey to Ukraine political prisoners Kliha, Karpyuk and Chirnia.  A Russian man arranged a bloody "spectacle" at the airport because of a ban on entry into Ukraine.  Russia confirms ban on independent journalists & freedom of speech in occupied Crimea.  UN hammers Russia over human rights abuse in illegally occupied Crimea.

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The United States imposed sanctions against two more defense enterprises of the Russian Federation

on Wed Dec 20, 2017 1:07 pm
The United States imposed sanctions against two more defense enterprises of the Russian Federation

The US Department of Commerce has imposed sanctions on two Russian companies operating in the military-industrial complex of the Russian Federation.

The decision is published in the federal register of the USA.

It is about the Constructor Bureau "Novator" and the Federal Scientific and Production Center "Titan-Barricades".

"These companies produce ground-based cruise missile systems for the Russian Ministry of Defense, the range of flights of which is prohibited by the Intermediate and Short Range Missile Agreement. Therefore, there are sufficient grounds to consider, based on concrete and understandable facts, that they were involved in actions that are contrary to national security or foreign policy interests of the United States, "the statement said.

The Ministry is introducing an export licensing regime for blacklisted products as well as related products from other countries.

In October 2017, the State Property Fund issued a sanction list of Russian companies. The list includes 39 companies. Among them Kalashnikov, Rostech, and Rosoboronexport.

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Russia and its proxies are source of violence in eastern Ukraine, - US Department of State

on Wed Dec 20, 2017 1:09 pm
Russia and its proxies are source of violence in eastern Ukraine, - US Department of State



Washington says Russia and its proxies are the source of violence in eastern Ukraine while recent outbreak of violence is linked with Russia's unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Center for Control and Coordination of cease-fir in the Donbas.

As reported by Censor.NET, spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State Heather Nauert told a briefing.

"I want to draw your attention to the dire humanitarian situation and the spiraling violence in eastern Ukraine. Last night, Russian-led forces shelled the town of Novoluhanske with Grad rockets, wounding eight civilians and damaging dozens of homes, a school, and also a playground. Fighting also resumed today around the Donetsk filtration station and its system of pipes carrying poisonous chlorine gas. This is considered extremely dangerous. If those were to go off in this area, which is close to where people live, it could be potentially devastating.

"Employees of the filtration station are trapped in the station’s bomb shelter at this time, we are told. Previously, a Russian-Ukrainian military body has organized ceasefires to allow civilians in similar situations safe passage. However, the Russian Government has unilaterally withdrawn from this deconfliction mechanism. This happened yesterday. So those trapped in the filtration station will remained stranded, under fire, until Russian-led forces stop the attack.

"Russia and its proxies are the source of violence in eastern Ukraine, and the Russian Government continues to perpetuate an active conflict and humanitarian crisis through its leadership and supply of military forces on the ground, as well as its direct control over proxy authorities. The conflict in eastern Ukraine is not an organic civil war. The so-called “republics” that Russia created are not legitimate entities.

"The United States calls on Russia to put an end to the attacks in eastern Ukraine, withdraw its forces and heavy weapons from the sovereign territory of Ukraine, and agree to a robust UN peacekeeping mission," Nauert said.

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The United States has introduced Ramzan Kadyrov to the "Magnitsky list"

on Wed Dec 20, 2017 1:11 pm
The United States has introduced Ramzan Kadyrov to the "Magnitsky list"

The US Department of the Treasury has introduced Ramzan Kadyrov, head of Chechnya, to the "Magnitsky List".

This is reported on the website of the department.

The ministry said they considered Kadyrov "responsible for extrajudicial executions, torture and other serious violations of human rights."

"As head of Chechnya, Kadyrov controls the administration, involves disappearances and extrajudicial killings. One of Kadyrov's political opponents was believed to have been killed on his orders after being charged with torture and ill-treatment in Chechnya, "the press release says.

Officials of tat police officers Ayub Kataev, Julia Mayorova, Andriy Pavlov and Alexey Seshenya also got into the sanction list.

The United States includes in the "Magnit list" people who are believed to be involved in human rights abuses. Involveers of the list are forbidden to enter the USA, their assets on the territory of the country are frozen. Initially, the law concerned the violation of human rights in Russia, but since the end of 2016, its effect extends to the whole world.

As you know, in the beginning of April, the Russian edition of Novaya Gazeta issued material on the detention of more than a hundred men in Chechnya , which security officials suspected of homosexuality.

In a comment to the editor-in-chief of the special projects section of the newspaper "Novaya Gazeta" Elena Milashina reported that about 30 people were killed in Chechnya during the "clean-ups" of the LGBT community arranged by security forces.

In addition, the Public Published on the Basis of Partnership the material of the newspaper "Novaya Gazeta" on two waves of reprisals against homosexuals in Chechnya, the involvement of the first people of the republic, as well as interviews with survivors.

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US accused Russia of firing "Grads" of Novolugansk and demanding withdrawal of Russian troops from the Donbas

on Wed Dec 20, 2017 1:22 pm
US accused Russia of firing "Grads" of Novolugansk and demanding withdrawal of Russian troops from the Donbas



The official Washington called Russia and its protagonists in the Donbas a source of violence and linked the latest exacerbation and shelling to Russia's unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Center.

According to  Tsensor.NET, referring to Ukrinform, the statement was made by Washington State Secretary of State Secretary of State Hillary Khezer Noorte on Tuesday.

"Earlier, the ceasefire agreement was reached at the level of the Russian-Ukrainian military mechanism (Joint Coordination and Control Center - Ed.), Which allowed the civilian to safely leave the areas of fire, but the Russian government unilaterally decided to exit this mechanism," - she stressed.

Noerte openly called Russia and her protagonists a "source of violence" in eastern Ukraine.

"The Russian government continues to support the active conflict and humanitarian crisis, provide its command and direct the armed forces, and also exercise direct control over its opponents in the local authorities," said the US State Department spokesman.

She stressed: the conflict in eastern Ukraine is not a civil war.

"The so-called" republics "that Russia has created are illegal formations," said the State Secretary's press secretary.

At the same time, she emphasized the last exacerbation of the humanitarian situation in the Donbas.

"Last night, forces led by Russia carried out the shelling of the village of Novolugansk with the" Grad "missiles, which caused the wounds of eight civilians, damage to dozens of buildings, schools, and children's playgrounds," Noether said.

In addition, she stressed that on Tuesday renewed battles around the Donetsk filtration station and its pipeline, which contains poisonous chlorine gas.

"We consider it extremely dangerous," the State Department spokeswoman said.

She stressed that damage to this infrastructure would be "potentially devastating." Noorte also noted that during the briefing, station staff were trapped in a bomb shelter.

"The United States calls on Russia to stop the attacks in eastern Ukraine, to withdraw its forces and heavy weapons from the sovereign territory of Ukraine and to reconcile a strong United Nations peacekeeping mission," said an official spokeswoman for the United States Department of State.

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Before the visit to Kiev, Freeland discussed with Tillerson the restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine: "We have had a wonderful talk about the potential of the peacekeeping mission"

on Wed Dec 20, 2017 1:30 pm
Before the visit to Kiev, Freeland discussed with Tillerson the restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine: "We have had a wonderful talk about the potential of the peacekeeping mission"



The views of the US and Canada on restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine are very similar.

This was stated by Secretary of State of the United States Rex Tillerson after a meeting with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada Christoph Freeland, citing Tsensor.NET, referring to Ukrinform.

"Canada is a fan of the United States in terms of strong support for Ukraine and the improvement of its territory. We have held many talks on how to achieve progress in Ukraine's dialogue, which will lead to the full restoration of its sovereignty in the face of Russian aggression," Tillerson said.

He also supported Canada's resolute position in responding to the Kremlin's actions and enhancing the defense capabilities of the Baltic States.

"Our countries stand side by side in NATO, and we appreciate the decision of Canada to direct units and lead the battalion in Latvia, which testifies to the commitment of Canada to Alliance forces in Europe and NATO," said the US Secretary of State.

"We and Rex talked perfectly about the potential of the peacekeeping mission and the strong support of our states for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in the face of Russia's illegal invasion and occupation of Ukrainian territory," said Freeland.

She also added that on Wednesday will leave with an official visit to Ukraine.

"Our conversation was especially useful in view of the fact that I will fly to Ukraine on Wednesday, where I will meet with the leaders of the Ukrainian government," the head of the Canadian Foreign Ministry said.

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European Commission has published a report on the suspension of visa-free travel to Ukraine

on Wed Dec 20, 2017 1:38 pm
European Commission has published a report on the suspension of visa-free travel to Ukraine

Ukraine meets the requirements for the continuation of the visa-free regime, but full implementation of the reforms should be ensured.

This is stated in the report of the European Commission devoted to the mechanism of termination of visa-free regimes.

"In light of recent developments, Ukraine needs urgent action to ensure the anti-corruption measures taken in the framework of the previous reforms and ensure their further progress," the European Commission emphasized.

In total, the European Commission has highlighted six key areas that need to be improved for "further libralization." In particular:

•strengthen cooperation with relevant EU agencies to prevent the risks of unregulated migration;

•Increased target information campaigns, which explain the rights and obligations during travel without a visa;

•ensuring the independence, efficiency and resilience of the anti-corruption institutional structure, in particular by creating an independent and anticorruption court according to the Venice Commission's conclusion and Ukrainian legislation. At the same time, the independence and capacity of NABU and SAP should be secured and strengthened;

•urgent restoration of confidence in the NSCC and creation of an effective declaration verification system;

•the abolition of changes in the mandatory declaration of property of representatives of civil society and the removal of obstacles in their work;

•Strengthening efforts to combat organized crime, including through adequate funding of the National Police and the clear division of competences and improved law enforcement cooperation.

The European Commission will monitor compliance with the requirements of the Western Balkan countries and the countries of the Eastern Partnership.

"The report shows that while countries continue to fulfill the requirements for visa liberalization, the necessary actions are required to maintain their stable performance in a number of specific areas," the report concludes.

Recall that on July 11 it was reported that more than 95 thousand Ukrainians took advantage of the possibility of visa-free travel to EU countries for a month.

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Poland has been told how Russia is conducting anti-Ukrainian propaganda in the country.

on Wed Dec 20, 2017 1:41 pm
Poland has been told how Russia is conducting anti-Ukrainian propaganda in the country.

The main focus of Russian propaganda in Poland was the history of Polish-Ukrainian relations and the approach to Ukraine as a whole.

This was announced by the candidate of political sciences, president of the Warsaw Center for the Analysis of Propaganda and Disinformation, analyst CyberDefence24.pl Adam Lelonek in an interview with the agency Ukrinform.

"The main area in which Russian propagandists from the Polish audience are working are the historical issues of Polish-Ukrainian relations and the general approach to Ukraine. There are several Internet portals in Poland that directly cast the elements pre-written in Russia or clearly duplicate those , which should lead to a negative reaction in society, "says a Polish analyst.

According to him, propaganda is distributed not by classical media, but by niche internet portals that reflect the views of a certain group of people. However, then these people then transfer propaganda theses to the masses.

"Among the geopolitical topics, in particular, in the Polish information space, the claim that the EU or the West are falling into decline is spreading, but Russia is a defender of morals and religious values, and none of the recipients of this type of information sees a contradiction in the fact that in Russia for a year officially there are more abortions than anywhere. For such Internet users, Russia and Putin are the embodiment of the defenders of Christianity, the defenders of civilization from decay, "said Lelonec.

Also, the Kremlin is actively intimidating Poles by Ukrainian labor migrants.

"For example, the Poles are frightened by the fact that Ukrainians are facing a threat to social protection, as if the salaries were raised in Poland if more than a million migrants from Ukraine did not come here, and the salaries are low because Ukrainians work for less money than the Poles However, people do not think that the same scheme works against them, because at one time three million Poles emigrated to the western countries,"- says a Polish expert.

He noted that Russian propaganda conducts coordinated operations in Poland at several levels - niche sites, bloggers who sympathize with them, as well as the Polish version of the Russian Pro-Kremlin news agency "Sputnik".

Lelonek added that Russian propaganda in Poland prompts several messages, in particular: "relations with Russia can not be worsened, because NATO will not protect us, but the EU will collapse", "you can not trust allies," "We are only an instrument for Ukrainians to achieve their goals. ""Western civilization is approaching a collapse, ""The US is an eagle on clay feet,"" Our neighbors: Germany, Ukraine or Lithuania - hostile plans for the Poles, all of them against us."

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Minsk negotiations confirmed the agreement on the exchange of prisoners before the New Year

on Wed Dec 20, 2017 1:44 pm
Minsk negotiations confirmed the agreement on the exchange of prisoners before the New Year

A trilateral contact group with representatives of militants from the occupied territories of the Donbas confirmed the readiness to exchange prisoners before the New Year.

This was reported by the spokesman of the representative of Ukraine in the TGC Darka Olifer.

During the meeting, all parties agreed on a ceasefire from midnight on December 23.

"It also confirmed the desire to fulfill the obligation to release detained persons before Christmas and New Year holidays in accordance with the agreements reached earlier. In addition, a joint commitment to the full implementation of the Minsk agreements is expressed,"- she wrote on Facebook.

She added that the Ukrainian side was indignant at the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Joint Monitoring and Coordination Center for the cease-fire and stabilization of the line of delineation of the parties.

"We consider this step a violation of the obligations of the Russian Federation, which they assumed under the Normandy format and the Minsk process. This decision greatly increases the risk of escalating conflict and poses a threat to the security of the OSCE MFA on the territory of the ORDLO. As a party to the conflict, the Russian Federation is fully responsible for the further development of the situation and ensuring the security of OSCE PMM observers in the uncontrolled part of Donbas Ukraine, "said Olefer.

She added that the Ukrainian side in the SCC will continue to perform its duties.

Earlier, a representative of Ukraine in the humanitarian subgroup of the Trilateral Contact Group, Irina Gerashchenko, said that the militants had put new names in the lists for exchange, which led to the failure of the process.

She also reported that among the 152 hostages in the Donbas there are journalists, volunteers, teens and 9 women.

OSCE Representative Tony Frish said that there was no final list for exchange .

The parties announced their willingness to exchange the prisoners for the New Year. On December 14, President Putin also announced the need for an exchange.

Ukraine has already started bringing people to exchange hostages from the Donbas.

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"Let's suppose that Crimea is not ours, Russia is coming from the Donbas, and then it's a civil war. It's obvious," Sobchak said. VIDEO

on Wed Dec 20, 2017 1:49 pm
"Let's suppose that Crimea is not ours, Russia is coming from the Donbas, and then it's a civil war. It's obvious," Sobchak said. VIDEO

Russian TV presenter Ksenia Sobchak, who announced his intention to participate in the presidential elections in Russia, believes that not only Crimeans, but citizens of Ukraine and Russia should participate in a possible new "referendum" about the status of the Crimea.

According to Tsensor.NET, referring to Crimea. Realia, she said on December 20 during a press conference "Sobchak Dialogue with Ukraine."



"When I talk about referendum, I mean the international referendum, that is, not only the inhabitants of Crimea, but also the inhabitants of Ukraine and Russia will decide the fate (the peninsula is ed.) This, in fact, is a compromise on this territory," - she said.

Ksenia Sobchak officially announced on October 18 to take part in the presidential election in neighboring Russia. She calls herself a candidate "against all."

Sobchak said that he would not conduct election campaigning in the occupied Crimea. She argues that by annexing the Crimea, Russia has violated international obligations. She believes that the annexation led to the impoverishment of the Russian population.

She also suggested that a "new independent referendum" be held in Crimea on the status of the peninsula.

Later Sobchak announced that the Russian Prosecutor General's Office "verifies" her statement regarding the Crimea.

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There was a serious threat: Russia explained why Putin is making concessions to peacekeepers on the Donbas

on Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:03 pm
There was a serious threat: Russia explained why Putin is making concessions to peacekeepers on the Donbas

The President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, is ready to make concessions on the issue of peacekeepers in the Donbas, as he and his entourage faced a serious threat - the US law on personal sanctions.

This was told by the Russian political scientist and publicist Andriy Piontkovsky to the "Apostrophe".

So, during a conversation with reporters Putin said that the Kremlin is ready to let UN peacekeepers across the Donbas area, including those controlled by militants. Earlier, the head of the Kremlin was against the emergence of peacekeepers in territories controlled by terrorists.

"By February 2, Congress should be given a list of top management of the Russian Federation, people close to Putin, and above all, Putin, whose assets are estimated at 1 trillion dollars looted in Russia. These assets are concentrated on accounts of Russian executives in the US. We understand that there are no assets registered in the name of Putin, but all these Rolduginy, his frontmen who keep his money are known", - said Piontkovsky.

He stressed that this is a very serious threat not only for Putin, but for the entire Russian elite.

"Therefore, Putin is on a variety of maneuvers, so that by giving way he does not give the most important, which he will not give up to the end of his political life - the ability to control Ukraine and block the path of its European development," the expert said.

Piontkovsky added that many of the Russian elite would be happy if they succeeded in such a combination: to hand over the Donbas, but to get the legitimacy of the entire world community in the Crimea.

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Russia is ready to return its troops to the SCCC under certain conditions, - Marchuk

on Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:17 pm
Russia is ready to return its troops to the SCCC under certain conditions, - Marchuk



Russia requires the approval of the provisions of the CACC, their status, security guarantees, etc.

This was stated on his page in Facebook by the representative of Ukraine in the working group on security issues of the Trilateral Contact Group Yevhen Marchuk, reports Tsensor.NET.

"The withdrawal of the Russian Federation of its troops from the SCSFC has alarmed not only Ukraine, which has caused a sharp negative reaction not only to the US, WB, Germany, but also to other European countries. Only the Russian representative in our security group made an official statement that Russia It is ready to return its troops to the SCCC under certain conditions, which is the approval of the provisions of the SCCS, their status, security guarantees, etc. Note: all expenses for the maintenance of the Russian part of the SCCK were carried by Ukraine, including guarantees of their security", - said Marchuk.

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The purpose of Russia's exit from the SCCC is to accuse Ukraine of disturbing the silence. The Armed Forces are ready to change the situation, - Poltorak

on Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:20 pm
The purpose of Russia's exit from the SCCC is to accuse Ukraine of disturbing the silence. The Armed Forces are ready to change the situation, - Poltorak



The withdrawal of the Russian side from the Joint Monitoring and Coordination Center (SCCS) of the forces and assets in the Donbass is intended to accuse Ukraine of violating the cease-fire regime.

According to the Censor .NET with reference to Interfax-Ukraine, Defense Minister of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak told journalists before the Cabinet of Ministers meeting on Wednesday.

"After the withdrawal, we saw the real person, why Russia made such a decision - in order to accuse us of violating the cease-fire regime, although in principle they just wait for it and themselves violate the cease-fire regime," he said.

The Minister stressed that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are ready to change the situation.

Earlier, the RF Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that Russian troops from the SCCC would leave the territory of Ukraine on December 19.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine expressed indignation by the unilateral decision of the Russian Federation to withdraw its troops from the SCCC, considering it "a provocation that essentially undermines the Minsk agreements and the desire to remove from it any responsibility as a party to the conflict for the consequences of armed aggression against our state."

December 19, Ukrainian and Russian servicemen - representatives of the SCRC left the Donbas area, temporarily occupied by militants.

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Gazprom demands from Naftogaz $ 1.3 bln for gas supplies to the occupied Donbas

on Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:24 pm
Gazprom demands from Naftogaz $ 1.3 bln for gas supplies to the occupied Donbas

Russian Gazprom requires Naftogaz of Ukraine about $ 1.3 billion for gas supplies to the occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts

This was announced by the chief commercial director of Naftogaz Yuri Vitrenko, reports Interfax-Ukraine.

Thus, Gazprom seeks to ensure that Stockholm arbitration within the limits of the lawsuit of a Russian company from NJSC Naftogaz of Ukraine does not make any decisions regarding the supply of gas to the occupied territories.

Gazprom says that there is no need to make any decision on the amount of gas supplied to the occupied territories. We, in turn, say that any calculations are a price multiplied by volume. Not knowing volumes, one can not say who and who is to blame, "said Vitrenko.

The official noted that Gazprom is putting Naftogaz's accounts with sums for supplying gas to the ORDLO, but Ukraine did not contract these volumes.

"Any payments to Gazprom can count as payment for supplies to ORDLO - it is unacceptable for us," summed up the commercial director of Naftogaz.

Earlier, Naftogaz accused Gazprom of violating the contract.
Naftogaz's board chairman Andriy Kobolev said that by the end of 2020 Ukraine could become an exporter of gas.

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Russia refused to convey to Ukraine political prisoners Kliha, Karpyuk and Chirnia

on Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:29 pm
Russia refused to convey to Ukraine political prisoners Kliha, Karpyuk and Chirnia

Russia refused to convey to Ukraine illegally sentenced Ukrainians Stanislav Kliha, Mykola Karpyuk and Oleksiy Chirnia even without indicating the reason and the corresponding court decision.

This was announced by Deputy Minister of Justice Sergei Petukhov in Facebook.

"Russia refused to send Kliha, Karpyuk and Chirnia to Ukraine without specifying the reason and the corresponding decision of the court," he wrote.

He noted that before that there was a refusal to transfer Sentsov and Vygivsky.

"This is a violation of the provisions of the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons in 1983, and we have written in writing to Russia to comply with their international obligations in good faith," the official said.

"As long as the politically motivated persecution of Ukrainians continues in Russia, they must have personal sanctions, and Russia can not return to international platforms from which it was excluded," he added.

Earlier it was reported that Kliha's condition was badly deteriorated.

On May 26, 2016, the Chechnya court  sentenced Nikolai Karpyuk to 22.5 years in prison, Kliha up to 20 years . They were accused of murdering Russian troops in Grozny in 1994-95. At the same time, the prosecution was not provided with any evidence that Klych and Karpyuk were in Chechnya during this period.

In January, Clichy  traveled from Grozny  to Chelyabinsk in Chechnya. On September 8 it became known that  Clichy was returned from a mental hospital  to a colony.



On May 26, 2016, the Chechnya court  sentenced Nikolai Karpyuk to 22.5 years in prison, Kliha up to 20 years. They were accused of murdering Russian troops in Grozny in 1994-95. At the same time, the prosecution was not provided with any evidence that Klych and Karpyuk were in Chechnya during this period.

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A Russian man arranged a bloody "spectacle" at the airport because of a ban on entry into Ukraine

on Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:33 pm
A Russian man arranged a bloody "spectacle" at the airport because of a ban on entry into Ukraine

At the airport of Zaporizhzhya, a citizen of Russia, who is forbidden to enter Ukraine for five years, tried to cut his hands.

This is reported by the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine.

When placing a mark on the ban on entry of a Russian flying from Turkey, he pulled out a folding knife from hand luggage and tried to cut his hands.

The border guards immediately responded and seized the husband's knife, as well as provided him with first medical assistance. They then called for "ambulance", whose doctors conducted all the necessary qualifying measures. The state of health of a citizen of Russia is satisfactory, there are no threats to his life. At the moment, it was handed over to representatives of law enforcement agencies of Ukraine.

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Russia confirms ban on independent journalists & freedom of speech in occupied Crimea

on Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:37 pm
Russia confirms ban on independent journalists & freedom of speech in occupied Crimea

The High Court in Russian-occupied Crimea has upheld the two and a half year suspended sentence passed on 67-year-old Ukrainian journalist Mykola Semena for expressing the position of the UN, EU, Council of Europe and international community regarding Russia’s occupation of Crimea. ‘Judge’ Igor Kryuchkov did, however, reduce the probation period and length of the ban on Semena engaging in any public activity from three to two years.

In commenting on the ruling, Semena himself wondered whether anywhere in the world you can find the ban on a person’s journalist profession which has been applied against him. This, he suggests, is “fairly stupid primitiveness which says most about the level of the state, of its legislation and its justice system”.

Neither Semena himself, nor his lawyers Emil Kurbedinov and Alexander Popkov, had any great expectations for justice at the hearing on December 18, and the same is doubtless true of the appeal to Russia’s Supreme Court. All such theoretical ‘legal remedies’ must be applied before the case goes before the European Court of Human Rights which is effectively certain to find in Semena’s favour.

Semena is one of three Ukrainians thus far to be charged under an article of Russia’s criminal code introduced shortly after its invasion and annexation of Crimea. Article 280.1 punishes something termed ‘public calls to action aimed at violating Russia’s territorial integrity’ which Russia has repeatedly used as a weapon against those criticizing its Crimean land-grab.

In Semena’s case, the ‘calls’ were purportedly found in an article entitled The Blockade – a necessary first step to the liberation of Crimea”. The text was written in September 2015, and posted on Krym.Realii as an opinion piece, a response to the concerns expressed in a first op-ed about hardships that the civic blockade, initiated with detailed human rights demands, could cause.

“The Blockade must be full, systematic and designed so that it is followed by liberation”, Semena wrote. “Yes, Ukraine will never bring war to Crimea, that’s true. Because it [war] was brought there by Russia. The fact that in Crimea there is no military action now, is to the credit of Ukraine, not of Russia. Ukraine handed Crimea over when it was not able defend it, but that doesn’t mean for ever.”

The FSB’s ‘linguistic expert’ Olga Nikolaevna Ivanova claimed that such ‘public calls’ were contained in the words “It [Russia] must return Crimea”.

Ivanova’s opus was based solely on four FSB method guidelines, which she clearly copy-pasted, together with the howling grammatical mistakes they displayed (details here).

The two and a half year suspended sentence against Semena was passed on September 22 by Nadezhda Igorevna Shkolnaya from the Zheleznodorozhny Court.

Both she and Kryuchkov found it expedient to ignore the fact that Semena was actually defending the territorial borders which the Russian Federation has bound itself to uphold in multiple international agreements that it has not withdrawn from.

In his final address to the ‘court’ on September 18, Semena said that his conviction would not just be that of one Ukrainian journalist, but a sentence against all journalism in Russia. He expressed bemusement over the prosecution for a text where it was stated three times that this was an opinion piece.

He stressed that he had relied both on international law, and on Russian and Ukrainian legislation, and that his views on Crimea coincided with the opinion of all international organizations and the governments of the vast majority of countries.

“Russia, which is today prosecuting me, is itself in a small minority and its position is not based on law.”

“The authorities are trying to achieve a situation where not one view differing from that of those in power is published.”....................

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UN hammers Russia over human rights abuse in illegally occupied Crimea

on Wed Dec 20, 2017 3:08 pm
UN hammers Russia over human rights abuse in illegally occupied Crimea

The UN General Assembly has passed a vital resolution on the human rights situation in Crimea which recognizes that Russia’s illegal occupation is an international armed conflict and gives victims of abuse wider scope to defend their rights. Ukrainian human rights organizations played a major role in drawing up the document which refers to binding international law and covers abuse that had previously received too little attention.

42 countries are cited as co-authors of the resolution, which was supported at the 73rd plenary meeting on December 19 by 70 countries, with 26 voting against and 76 abstaining (details here).

This is the third resolution since Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea in February – March 2014.

On March 27, the General Assembly passed Resolution 68/262 on the Territorial integrity of Ukraine. The Resolution was important in clearly stating that Crimea is Ukraine and that the pseudo-referendum that Russia organized in ten days had no legal force. The UN called on all states “to refrain from any action or dealing that might be interpreted as recognizing any such altered status”.

It did not take Russia long to begin grave human rights violations in occupied Crimea, and these were first addressed in a Second Resolution on December 19, 2016.

The third resolution also addresses such abuse, but is farther-reaching and harder-hitting.

International armed conflict

The mention in the document of Russia’s ongoing occupation of Crimea as an international armed conflict is a major step forward from the previous resolutions. It follows the Office of the International Criminal Court Prosecutor’s Report which found that the situation with Crimea constitutes an international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. This is of crucial importance since it means that the conflict falls under the Rome Statute, and is within the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction. Russian President Vladimir Putin reacted immediately, and inadequately, by announcing that Russia would not ratify the Rome Statute. This petulant move was meaningless, since legal specialists agree that any such “we’re not playing” does not relieve Russia of its liability.

Putin cannot suggest that Russia abandons the United Nations whose General Assembly has now also repeated that its occupation of Crimea is an international armed conflict.

Importantly, the resolution also demands that Russia comply with the UN International Court of Justice [ICJ] which, back in April, passed provisional measures requiring Russia to withdraw its ban of the Mejlis [representative assembly] of the Crimean Tatar People and stop driving the Ukrainian language out of the education system.

Moscow had promised to abide by any decision of ICJ, but this was until the ruling. Since then it has ignored it, with the situation in Crimea ever worse.

Human rights – tools for their defence

The Crimean Human Rights Group; the Human Rights Information Centre and Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union were all instrumental in drawing up the resolution.

Tetyana Pechonchyk from the Human Rights Information Centre points out that this new resolution refers closely to international humanitarian law, such as the 1949 Geneva Convention and its 1977 Additional Protocol.

These regulate protection of victims of war and establish liability for violation of such norms. Russia is in breach of the Geneva Convention through its movement of its own citizens to Crimea; its conscription of Crimeans to its army; foisting of its citizenship, and much more. The NGOs ensured that the UN does not just point out the illegality of conscription, but also condemns the pressure or propaganda of volunteering for the army. Human rights groups have long warned of the mounting militarization of society in occupied Crimea (see Children taught to glorify war and the invader in Russian-occupied Crimea).

Russia is not only illegally applying its legislation on Crimea under occupation, but is also imposing it retroactively. The most flagrant, but by no means the only, such application was in the prosecution of Crimean Tatar Mejlis leader Akhtem Chiygoz and other Crimean Tatars on concocted charges concerning a pre-annexation demonstration over which Russia could not conceivably have any jurisdiction.

The General Assembly has also condemned the “the imposition of automatic Russian Federation citizenship on protected persons in Crimea, which is contrary to international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions and customary international law, and the regressive effects on the enjoyment of human rights of those who have rejected that citizenship”.

It should be noted that this foisting of citizenship is also selective. In some cases, such as with Crimean Tatar human rights activist Sinaver Kadyrov, lack of Russian citizenship was used as a pretext for his ‘deportation’ to mainland Ukraine. In others, such as with Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and civic activist Oleksandr Kolchenko, Russia is claiming that they ‘automatically’ became Russian citizens in order to further deny them international protection and refuse to release them from imprisonment in Russia.

There is, at long last, greater emphasis on flagrant violations of freedom of conscience and religion.

“Condemning the increasing pressure exerted upon religious minority communities, including through frequent police raids, threats against and persecution of those belonging to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, the Protestant Church, mosques and Muslim religious schools, Greek Catholics, Roman Catholics and Jehovah’s Witnesses, and condemning also the baseless prosecutions of dozens of peaceful Muslims for allegedly belonging to Islamic organizations”.

There has been far too little attention to the ongoing imprisonment and likely huge sentences facing 25 Ukrainian Muslims for alleged involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir, a pan-Islamist organization which is not known to have committed any act of terrorism anywhere in the world and which is, most importantly, legal in Ukraine. Russia has now added ‘extremism charges’ for supposed involvement in another totally apolitical movement Tablighi Jamaat.

The resolution also points to Ukraine’s duty to protect the rights of its citizens on occupied territory. It “supports Ukraine’s efforts to maintain economic, financial, political, social, informational, cultural and other ties with its citizens in the occupied Crimea in order to facilitate their access to democratic processes, economic opportunities and objective information”.

Human rights groups have had ample cause over the last three and a half years to criticize Ukraine’s failure to protect these rights and, on occasion, measures that essentially infringed the rights of people living in Crimea. It would be fitting if Ukraine’s government would implement all recommendations, especially given Russia’s predictable response.

So what?.............................

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