Ukraine: Daily Briefing – July 5, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
July 5, 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 four 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 19 times in total.
2. Ukrainian political prisoner Volodymyr Balukh, illegally jailed in Russian-occupied Crimea, sentenced to extra three years in prison
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “A ‘court’ in Russian-occupied Crimea has sentenced Ukrainian political prisoner Volodymyr Balukh to an extra three years’ imprisonment on charges as overtly fabricated as those used to originally arrest him, meaning an effective sentence now of five years.  The defence has reason to believe that the Russian Investigative Committee is behind the decision to add to the initial three and a half year sentence widely seen as linked not with any crime, but with the Ukrainian flag that Balukh had refused to remove from his home.
           The sentence, of three years in a medium-security prison colony, was passed on 5 July 2018 by ‘judge’ Tetyana Pyrzhalo from the Razdolne District Court.  The official charge was of ‘disorganizing the work of a detention unit’ under Article 321 § 2 of Russia’s criminal code.   This new ‘conviction’ is added to the two years remaining of the first three and a half year sentence passed in a ‘remake trial’ on 16 January 2018.  Prosecutor’ Dmitry Nikolaevich Shmelev had formally demanded a four-year sentence.
          Neither in this case, nor in other political prosecutions, are the ‘prosecutor’ or ‘judge’ making any decisions themselves.  This does not, however, absolve them of responsibility for following orders and imprisoning an innocent man on manifestly absurd charges.
          47-year-old Balukh has been looking dangerously gaunt since he resumed his full hunger strike on 23 June.  He had rejected any food earlier, from 19 March 2018, but was persuaded on the 25th day of hunger strike to take an absolute minimum to prevent the occupation authorities to using force-feeding.  He has now had virtually no nourishment at all for well over 100 days, and is clearly very weak.”
The full report from KHPG is available here
3. Ukraine’s President signs Law on the National Security of Ukraine
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko signed the Law on the National Security of Ukraine. President Poroshenko stated, “This is an important milestone for the reformation of the entire country, first of all our defense and security sector. First and foremost, we boldly underline the course of Ukraine towards the EU and Euro-Atlantic integration with this Law. We confirm that our state, the people of Ukraine have clearly defined their future – this future is related to the family of nations of the free world.
          As President and Supreme Commander-in-Chief, I am fully responsible for the development, adoption, signing and implementation of the given law. I am confident that today these positions will enhance the defence capability of our state and increase trust between Ukraine and our strategic partners.”
         Ukraine’s Presidential Administration reported, “The President noted that he would hold a phone conversation with the U.S. leadership, the U.S. Secretary of Defense today. He added that Ukraine expected additional defensive and financial assistance from the United States.”
4. Swiss court reinstates attachment of Gazprom assets
Naftogaz Ukrainy reported on July 4, “The Zug Superior Court, Switzerland has now re-instated attachment of Gazprom’s shares in Nord Stream AG and Nord Stream 2 AG. These attachments will stay in place until the Zug Superior Court decides on Naftogaz’ appeal against the local debt enforcement office’s (DEO) earlier decision to lift the share attachments.
          The attachment of shares was lifted solely based on the statements of Nord Stream AG and Nord Stream 2 AG that the shares to be attached were not located within canton Zug and thus within the DEO’s jurisdiction and, as a result, to be struck off the list of attached assets.

Without suspensive effect granted by the Superior Court, the DEO’s decisions would have become enforceable and the shares of NS and NS 2 would have been at Gazprom’s disposal again, even if they were located within the Zug’s DEO jurisdiction. Now, the said shares cannot be moved out of the Zug’s DEO jurisdiction during Naftogaz’s appeal consideration.”

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