Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing – 16 May 2014, 5PM Kyiv time

Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing

16 May 2014, 5PM Kyiv time 


1. Kremlin-backed “separatism” in Eastern Ukraine

The active phase of the anti-terrorist operation in Donetsk and Luhansk continues. In Mariupol, steelworkers took down blockades and barricades put up around the city by Kremlin-backed “separatists.” Armed “separatists” attacked a building at a military airbase outside Kramatorsk, Donetsk oblast; a 20-minute firefight ensued. The Ministry of Defense reports that there were no casualties on the Ukrainian side. A 15-minute shootout took place at a National Guard checkpoint outside Mariupol, Donetsk oblast, which was attacked by armed “separatists” who fired automatic weapons. There were no injuries reported on the Ukrainian side. The State Security Service (SBU) reports that they have detained 6 members of a criminal group in Odesa who were organizing mercenaries to fight Ukrainian law enforcement units in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. The Ministry of Internal Affairs reports that in Luhansk oblast, special forces detained O. Relke, the commander of the so-called “South-East Army.” The Minister of Internal Affairs stated that Relke was one of the “most radical terrorists active in the east of the country.” According to the Committee of Voters, the head of a District Election Commission in Luhansk has been kidnapped and apparently taken to the Luhansk SBU building, which is currently occupied by “separatists.”

2. Ukraine Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacts to planned Russian military exercises

Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement in response to the announcement by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation that military exercises by the Russian Air Force will be held near the cities of Lipetsk, Voronezh and Ryazan, on May 21-25. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that “Russia conducting military exercises near the Ukrainian border on Ukraine’s presidential election day testifies to the reality of Russia’s continuous efforts to further destabilize the situation in, inter alia, the Eastern regions of Ukraine, as well as to the brutal pressure applied on the Ukrainian people. We categorically demand the Russian Federation to cease the practice of provoking instability, to withdraw formations of the Russian Armed Forces from Ukraine’s border and to fulfill the obligations it undertook in accordance with the Geneva Ukraine Accord.”

3. Crimean “authorities” ban mass meetings until 6 June

According to several sources, by decree of the “Prime Minister” of Crimea, S. Aksyonov, mass meetings have been banned in occupied Crimea until 6 June. On 18 May, the Crimean Tatar People will commemorate the 70th anniversary of their mass deportation from Crimea; mass commemorations are planned.

4. Dzemiliev: Crimean “authorities” repeating actions of USSR

Speaking following threats by the Crimean “Prosecutor” to dissolve the Mejlis, and yesterday’s mass searches of the homes of Crimean Tatars, M. Dzemiliev, leader of the Crimean Tatar People, stated in an interview that the threat by the illegal, occupying “authorities” to dissolve the Mejlis, “is a continuation of the policies of the authorities of the Soviet Union…Soviet authorities did not recognize our national movement, called us extremists and anti-Soviets. This is now being repeated. If the Mejlis is banned, it will continue to function in the underground.” Dzemiliev was banned from entering Crimea by the occupying “authorities” for five years.

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