Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin – June 10-16, 2017

Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
June 10-16, 2017
Ukrainian army tank units participate in training exercise.
Photo – Ukraine’ s Ministry of Defence
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported that during the week of June 9-15, nine Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 27 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 409 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk, Donetsk and Mariupol sectors of the front, including at least 141 times with heavy weapons – mortars, artillery, and tanks.
2. Visa-free travel to EU for Ukrainians begins
First Kyiv-Vilnius flight after visa liberalization welcomed at Vilnius airport. Photo – Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs

As of June 11, Ukrainian citizens with biometric passports are able to travel to the European Union for up to 90 days in any 180 day period without a visa. Visa-free travel for Ukrainian citizens applies to all EU countries except the UK and Ireland, and includes non-EU states Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
3. Ukraine’s President: We are entering a new historic era
To warch President Poroshenko's address on visa liberalization, please click on the image above
To watch President Poroshenko’s address on visa liberalization, please click on the image above
Speaking at Kyiv’s European Square on the eve of the introduction of visa-free travel with the EU, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko stated, “Fate has finally smiled upon us, fellow Ukrainians. Many generations of our ancestors dreamed about that and fought for that. […] We, Ukrainian people and the whole Ukraine, enter new historic era. And this event symbolizes the final break of our state with the Russian Empire and the break of the Ukrainian democratic world with the Russian authoritarian world. […] The only thing that is frustrating is an extremely high price, a bloody bill set by the Kremlin for our most natural right to build our life ourselves. […] We came together on the European Square in the center of our ancient capital. Inhaling the aromas of flowers and greenery in which Kyiv is literally drowning these days, all of us feel the taste of freedom – freedom that we have never known before. […] And we should appreciate our freedom. That is why I would like to address the youth – appreciate this freedom. Especially as it is now guarded with weapons in hands by the best of us Ukrainians.”
4. Russia refuses to let imprisoned Crimean Tatar leader see his gravely ill mother
Photo – KHPG

The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “There appear to be no depths that Russia and its court lackeys will not stoop to.  Crimean Tatar Mejlis leader and recognized political prisoner Akhtem Chiygoz has been refused permission to see his mother who is critically ill, and has not seen her son for two years. 
Chiygoz has been in detention since January 2015, facing legally nihilistic charges concerning a demonstration over which Russia has no jurisdiction.   Although the outcome is predetermined, the ‘trial’ is in such flagrant breach of fundamental principles of law and Russia’s own legislation that it probably suits Moscow for it to drag on. This delays the inevitable judgement in Chiygoz’s favour from the European Court of Human Rights, while Russia sees no problem with simply jailing the Crimean Tatar leader without any conviction. 
52-year-old Chiygoz has not been allowed out of the SIZO or remand prison for almost a year, following the lawless decision to prevent him from attending the court hearings in his own ‘trial’.   His lawyer Nikolai Polozov explains that Chiygoz’s family had tried to conceal his elderly mother’s illness as long as they could, however Aliye Abduraimovna’s condition has sharply worsened, and doctors say that no treatment is possible, only palliative care. It is therefore imperative that Akhtem Chiygoz be allowed to see his mother, probably for the last time. […]
The defence prepared an application which was ‘considered’ by presiding judge Viktor Zinkov, together with judges Igor Kryuchkov and Alexei Kozyrev on June 7.  Remember their names, together with that of ‘prosecutor’ Anastasia Supryaga, who opposed the application.
The ‘judges’ first refused to consider the application, demanding medical documents confirming Aliye Abduraimovna’s condition and Chiygoz’s relationship to his mother. They then started trying to pull holes in the medical documents. 
Although that had not worked, and they could not deny that Chiygoz’s mother is critically ill and bedridden, they simply turned down the application for Chiygoz to be allowed, under police convoy, to briefly see her.  Polozov notes that Zinkov showed particularly foul cynicism in claiming that there was nothing to stop his mother coming to the SIZO ‘if she so wants to see her son.'” For the International Appeal from the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, please see Demand Russia let jailed Crimean Tatar leader Akhtem Chiygoz see his dying mother!
5. Canada’s Magnitsky Law passes second reading in House of Commons
On June 13, Bill S-226 “Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law)” passed second reading in Canada’s House of Commons and was referred to the House Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. The Magnitsky Law, tabled in the House by James Bezan (MP, Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman), provides “for the taking of restrictive measures in respect of foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights. It also proposes related amendments to the Special Economic Measures Act and to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.” In the Senate, the bill was introduced by Senator Raynell Andreychuk. The Senate passed the bill on April 11.
6. US Senate overwhelmingly adopts Russia sanctions amendment
On June 14, the US Senate voted overwhelmingly to adopt an amendment to codify existing sanctions against Russia and implements new sanctions. In a 97-2 vote, the US Senate approved an amendment to a bill on Iran sanctions that “maintains and substantially expands sanctions” against Russia for violations of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, cyber-attacks, interference in elections and continuing aggression in Syria.
“The amendment will:
  • Provide for a mandated congressional review if sanctions are relaxed, suspended or terminated.
  • Codify and strengthen existing sanctions contained in executive orders on Russia, including the sanctions’ impact on certain Russian energy projects and on debt financing in key economic sectors.
  • Impose new sanctions on: corrupt Russian actors; those seeking to evade sanctions; those involved in serious human rights abuses; those supplying weapons to the Assad regime; those conducting malicious cyber activity on behalf of the Russian government;  those involved in corrupt privatization of state-owned assets; and those doing business with the Russian intelligence and defense sectors.
  • Allow broad new sanctions on key sectors of Russia’s economy, including mining, metals, shipping and railways.
  • Authorize robust assistance to strengthen democratic institutions and counter disinformation across Central and Eastern European countries that are vulnerable to Russian aggression and interference.
  • Require a study on the flow of illicit finance involving Russia and a formal assessment of U.S. economic exposure to Russian state-owned entities.”
7. Atlantic Council: Miracle of 2014 was Ukraine’s Dunkirk
Writing for the Atlantic Council, non-resident fellow Peter Dickinson analyzed the parallels between the British Dunkirk operation in 1940 and the volunteer battalions in Ukraine that halted Russia’s military advance in 2014. Dickinson states, “Like Dunkirk, it is a tale of breathtaking bravery with a cast of unlikely heroes drawn from every walk of life. The story of Ukraine’s volunteer army transcends politics, religion, ethnicity, and ancestry. It is the story of a nation coming of age, and it has the potential to inspire Ukrainians for generations to come.” Read more here:

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