Ukraine: Daily Briefing – April 27, 2017, 5 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
April 27, 2017, 5 PM Kyiv time
Canadian, US and Ukrainian leaders at ceremony at Yavoriv Training Centre. 
Photo – US Army Europe

1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, one Ukrainian soldier was killed and six Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrianian positions near Avdiivka with mortars and grenade launchers. Near Horlivka and Pisky Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Vodyane and Shyrokyne with mortars. Near Maryinka, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions. Towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Popasne and Troitske with mortars. At Stanytsia Luhanska, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions.
Ruslan Zeytullaev in Russian court. Photo KHPG
2. Political prisoner Ruslan Zeytullaev sentenced to 12 years in prison by Russia court
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported on April 26, “Russian judges have done what they’re told and sentenced Crimean Tatar political prisoner Ruslan Zeytullaev to 12 years’ maximum security.  The sentence was expected, not because there were any grounds to the charges against the 31-year-old father of three, but because Russia’s FSB needed an ‘organizer’ for its paperwork to seem ‘in order’.  The retrial and this sentence are especially chilling since there are three other men charged under the same type of quota, and they face even harsher sentences. […] Ruslan Zeytullaev is one of the first four men arrested in early 2015 and charged with unproven involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir, an organization which is legal in Ukraine and in most countries.  Russia declared it ‘terrorist’ in 2003 without ever providing any grounds for the ruling. […] There are 15 other men now in custody facing charges over Hizb ut-Tahrir.  Muslim Aliev, Enver Mamutov and Teymur Abdullaev, for highly suspect reasons, have been accused of an organizational rule, with this carried the same type of sentence as in Zeytullaev’s case, with one ominous difference.  Possibly because of the lack of real protest from the West, Russia has now begun adding a new charge of ‘attempts at violent seizure of power’ which will add 8-12 years to all sentences. There is no evidence that any member of Hizb ut-Tahrir anywhere in the world has been guilty of acts of terrorism or violence. […] The situation in Russian-occupied Crimea is especially acute, and the renowned Russian Memorial Human Rights Centre rightly declared all four men political prisoners well before the trial ended.  There can be no chance of a ‘fair trial’, given that Russia has no right to apply its legislation on territory it is illegally occupying, and Hizb ut-Tahrir is legal in Ukraine. Serious protest is needed now.  Almost all the men now indefinitely in custody have children whom they will not see for a decade or more if Russia is allowed to continue such repressive measures on territory it is illegally occupying.” The full report from KHPG is available at
3. US Mission to OSCE: Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has shaken the the very foundations of security and stability in Europe
At a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, US charge d’affaires Kate Byrnes stated, “on April 14, three years ago, Russia unleashed its campaign of aggression in the Donbas. The conflict has already cost more than 10,000 lives and displaced millions of people. Tens of thousands more have suffered grievous injuries, and many more are without water or heat because of ordnance-related damage to critical infrastructure. Three thousand men and women serving Ukraine in uniform have died defending their country. The violence must be brought to an immediate end to avoid further suffering. We regret that Russia has once again failed to follow through on its commitments to uphold the ceasefire. After a drop in fighting over the Easter holiday, combined Russian-separatist forces appear to be back to business as usual, driving up ceasefire violations to over 1,000 per day. This requires more than just another temporary silence on the contact line – it requires a real and sustainable ceasefire, disengagement along the line of contact, and a withdrawal of heavy weapons. Only a visible, verifiable, and irreversible improvement in the security situation will allow for progress on the remaining elements of the Minsk agreements. Russian aggression against Ukraine is not limited solely to the Donbas, but continues in Russia-occupied Crimea, where Russia has sought to silence any voices that do not mimic Moscow’s rhetoric and lies regarding the peninsula’s status. We call on the Russian authorities to allow a Ukrainian consul access to Ruslan Zeytullaev, who was convicted of participation in a so-called ‘illegal organization’ in June 2016 and received a twelve-year prison sentence this week. Mr. Zeytullaev has been on hunger strike since April 4 in protest against the persecution of Crimean Tatars and Russia’s practice of transferring political prisoners – including himself – from Ukraine to Russia. We are concerned about Mr. Zeytullaev’s well-being and call for an independent medical examination. We strongly welcome the April 19 decision of the International Court of Justice, which orders Russia to ‘refrain from maintaining or imposing limitations on the ability of the Crimean Tatar community to conserve its representative institutions’ – a ruling that applies to the Crimean Tatar Mejlis – and also to ‘ensure the availability of education in the Ukrainian language.’ Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has shaken the very foundations of security and stability in Europe, and is antithetical to achieving a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace. The United States affirms its staunch support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally-recognized borders. We do not, and will not, accept Russia’s efforts to change the borders of Ukraine. We join our European partners in affirming that our sanctions on Russia will remain until it fully implements the Minsk agreements, and Crimea-related sanctions will remain until Russia returns control of the peninsula to Ukraine.”


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