Ukraine: Daily Briefing
August 22, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
Ukrainian Armed Forces 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, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and two Ukrainian soldiers were 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 24 times in total. Returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed 2 and wounded 1 enemy combatants.
2. US State Department renews demand that Russia immediately release Sentsov and all unlawfully imprisoned Ukrainian citizens
On August 21, the US State Department stated, “Today marks the 100th day of the hunger strike of Oleh Sentsov, a Ukrainian filmmaker who is arbitrarily detained in a remote Russian prison. The United States is deeply concerned about his deteriorating health, and we renew our demand that Russia immediately release him and all Ukrainian citizens unlawfully imprisoned in Russia and on the Crimean peninsula.
We are alarmed about the prospect of another innocent person dying in Russian custody. We hope Russian authorities will release Sentsov to avoid such a tragedy, which would inevitably lead to calls for those officials responsible to be held to account.
Sentsov was arrested in the Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory of Crimea, had Russian citizenship imposed upon him, and was later sentenced to 20 years in prison by a court in the Russian Federation. His conviction on charges of plotting terrorist acts is widely regarded to be without merit and a cynical reprisal for his opposition to Russia’s occupation of Crimea.
On May 14, he began an open-ended hunger strike protesting the unlawful imprisonment of over 60 Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia, demanding their release. We echo his call: it is time for these prisoners – including Sentsov himself – to come home.”
3. Ukraine launches probe into suspected business dealings between ex-officials, Manafort
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported, “Ukrainian authorities have launched an investigation into whether former state officials paid Paul Manafort for political consulting work, the country’s prosecutor-general says.
Yuriy Lutsenko told journalists in Kyiv on August 21 that Ukraine’s State Fiscal Service opened criminal proceedings against ex-officials who served during Viktor Yanukovych’s presidency and were suspected of paying Manafort for his work for Yanukovych and his Party of Regions.
Under Ukrainian law, state officials do not have the right to engage in business, Lutsenko said. Lutsenko did not name any of the suspects, but at least six Ukrainian oligarchs and politicians, including four who held public office during Yanukovych’s term, are alleged to have paid a total of $65.9 million to Manafort for consulting work, according to documents released by a U.S. court. Three other cases related to Manafort’s professional activities in Ukraine are currently being investigated by the country’s Prosecutor General’s Office. Manafort himself is not facing any charges in Ukraine. […]
During his press briefing, Lutsenko cited the hundreds of documents presented by U.S. prosecutors in the trial and the testimony of one of its star witnesses, Manafort’s former deputy, Rick Gates, as the reason behind the opening of the new investigation.
‘There has been testimony that Manafort received funds for his consulting services for disgraced ex-President Viktor Yanukovych and the Party of Regions from specific politicians of Ukraine,’ Lutsenko said, according to the Interfax-Ukraine news agency.
Gates has testified in court that those who transferred millions of dollars to a Manafort account in Cyprus included Yanukovych’s former chief of staff, Serhiy Lyovochkin; ex-Infrastructure Minister Borys Kolesnikov; former National Security Council Secretary Andriy Klyuyev; and lawmaker Serhiy Tihipko. None of the men could immediately be reached for comment.”