Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
7 September 2016, 6 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported that yesterday towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Popansne and Novozvanivka. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Avdiyivka. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Shyrokyne with mortars. At Maryinka and Starohnativka, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and one Ukrainian soldier was wounded in action.
2. EU Ambassadors prolong sanctions against Russia over Ukraine
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported, “European Union ambassadors have prolonged asset freezes and visa bans on 146 individuals and 37 entities that, according to the bloc, have threatened Ukraine’s territorial integrity. The decision to prolong the measures by six months was taken on September 7, ahead of aSeptember 15 deadline. The sanctions were first introduced in March 2014 in response to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. […] The EU’s economic sanctions that target Russia’s energy, military, and financial sectors are up for renewal onJanuary 31 but will be discussed by EU leaders when they meet for an EU summit in October in Brussels. A decision on the measures is expected when the EU heads of state and governments meet again in December.”
3. Russia sentences four Crimean Tatars in show trial as repressions against Crimean Tatars intensify
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “The first sentences have been passed in Russia’s mounting offensive against Crimean Muslims, with the four Crimean Tatars all sentenced to real terms of imprisonment. The trial was critical since Russia is already holding 14 Crimeans, almost all Crimean Tatars, in indefinite custody on unsubstantiated charges of involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir, an organization which is legal in Ukraine. Despite the flawed charges and the lack of any evidence, convictions were anticipated. The ‘trial’ took place in the same Rostov military court which in August 2015 sentenced Crimean political prisoners Oleg Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko to huge sentences, and the prosecutor had demanded long sentences in this case also. The men were accused of involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir, a totally peaceful pan-Islamist organization which back in 2003 Russia’s Supreme Court declared ‘terrorist’, together with 14 other organizations. No grounds were given and the ruling was effectively concealed until it was too late for the organization itself, and human rights NGOs to appeal against. There is nothing incriminating against Hizb ut-Tahrir, but there is also no proof that the four men are in fact members. All four men deny such involvement. Almost all the prosecution’s ‘witnesses’ testified essentially in the men’s favour. Russia then resorted to the testimony of a secret witness who could not even be cross-examined properly. There were long delays while the man was clearly being told what to say. Even then he came up with totally contradictory statements. […] Ruslan Zeitullayev had been charged with ‘organizing’ a terrorist organization with the minimum sentence for this 15 years. Nuri Primov, Rustem Vaitov and Ferat Saifullayev were accused of taking part in it with this carrying a minimum 5-year sentence. The prosecutor last week asked for a 17-year sentence for Zeitullayev, and 7 or 8 years for the other three men. The court instead changed the charges against Zeitullayev from ‘organizing’ to ‘involvement’ and sentenced him to 7 years, while the other three men received the minimum 5-year sentences. Unfortunately, no Russian judges would have the courage to acquit people of politically motivated charges.” The full report from KHPG is available at http://khpg.org/en/index.php?