Ukraine: Daily Briefing
June 25, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
Ukrainian Armed Forces armored units training exercises.
Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, one Ukrainian soldier was killed and one Ukrainian soldier was wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front 22 times in total, including at least 10 times with heavy weapons – mortars, artillery and tanks.
2. Dangerously weak Ukrainian political prisoner Balukh steps up life-threatening hunger strike in Russian-occupied Crimea
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “Volodymyr Balukh announced in ‘court’ on 23 June that he will now be refusing absolutely all food in protest at his ongoing persecution in Russian-occupied Crimea. 47-year-old Balukh, who is looking gaunt and frail, has long complained of chest pains and there are very serious grounds for fearing for his life
The Ukrainian political prisoner has been on hunger strike since 19 March 2018 but had since the 25th day been taking the minimum amount of food needed to prevent the occupation authorities from applying force-feeding. This symbolic amount of food was used by the Russian-controlled prison and court to ignore his physical state after 96 days of total or partial hunger strike, and to not provide the medical care he urgently requires.
Over recent weeks, he has come under even greater pressure in the SIZO [remand prison] in Simferopol with night searches, refusal to allow him visits from relatives, and transfer to a cell for 18 prisoners [which may well hold more than that number]. Lawyer Nikolai Polozov rightly stated recently that this treatment of Balukh could only be called torture. With no other means of protest available, Balukh has now said that he will be only drinking water.
Balukh’s own lawyer Olga Dinze believes that the increased pressure on Balukh may be because the defence’s application for his early release on the first politically-motivated charges is due shortly. She assumes that the occupation regime is trying to ensure that he gets a negative reference to use as an excuse to not release him.
Balukh was arrested on December 8, 2016 after an unexplained search which allegedly found 90 bullets and several TNTl explosive devices in his attic. He had no record of violence and the constant searches and harassment he had faced since Russia’s invasion of Crimea for his openly pro-Ukrainian position and the Ukrainian flag which he refused to remove from his roof made it inconceivable that he could have held anything illegal in his home. This was one of the many reasons why the Memorial Human Rights Centre almost immediately declared him a political prisoner. […]
Russia is using its repressive machine against Ukrainians in Crimea who have remained true to Ukraine and make their opposition to Russian occupation clear. They have failed to break Volodymyr Balukh, but he is in grave physical danger.” The full report from KHPG is available here
3. Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs to attend Ukraine Reform Conference in Copenhagen
Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland will participate in the Ukraine Reform Conference in Copenhagen on June 27. Canada’s Department of Global Affairs stated, “While at the Ukraine Conference in Copenhagen, the Minister will reiterate Canada’s support for the people of Ukraine, the Government of Ukraine’s robust reform agenda, and Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Canada is among Ukraine’s strongest international supporters and is committed to working with the international community to defend a rules-based international order.
On the margins of the conference, the Minister will meet with Ukraine’s prime minister, Volodymyr Groysman, Denmark’s minister for foreign affairs, Anders Samuelsen, the United Kingdom’s foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, and other counterparts.”
Minister Freeland stated, “I am committed to working with our international partners, at the conference and in the months to come, to support Ukraine as it implements meaningful economic and democratic reforms in order to build a sovereign, secure and stable future. The people of Ukraine can count on Canada’s continued and unwavering friendship and support.”
4. 57 European integration laws on 2018 parliamentary agenda
Ukraine Business Journal reported, “Vice Prime Minister for European Integration Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze has told parliament’s Committee on Economic Policy that 57 bills connected with European integration have been included in the roadmap for the implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, 12 of which have already been passed, 5 in the second reading, and 7 in the first.
In 2017, 23 European integration laws were adopted. ‘This year, we will focus on four key areas: Ukraine’s integration into the EU energy markets, single digital market of the EU, cooperation in the field of justice, freedom and security and interaction in the field of customs cooperation and technical regulation,’ the official said, as reported by Ukrinform.”