Ukraine: Daily Briefing – June 6, 2019, 5 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
June 6, 2019, 5 PM Kyiv time
Ukrainian soldiers participate in multinational training exercises Saber Guardian 2019 in Romania. 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, one Ukrainian soldier was killed and one Ukrainian soldier was 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 12 times in total, including at least 3 times with heavy weapons. Returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed 1 and wounded 4 enemy combatants in the last 24 hours.
2. Perpetrators of attack on activist Kateryna Handziuk sentenced to 3 to 6.5 years in prison
Ukrinform reported, “The Pokrovske District Court of Dnipropetrovsk Region has announced verdicts against the perpetrators of an attack on Kherson activist Kateryna Handziuk. Judge Olena Chorna read out the sentences at a court session on Thursday, according to an Ukrinform correspondent.
           The instigator and accomplice of the attack, Serhiy Torbin, was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison, the direct executor of the attack, Mykyta Hrabchuk, to six years in prison, accomplices Volodymyr Vasianovych and Viacheslav Vyshnevsky to four years in prison each, and Viktor Horbunov to three years in prison. […]
          The person who organized the crime, according to the verdict, is a Kherson politician involved in the illegal trade in woods under the cover of arson whose activities were exposed by Handziuk. The mediator is an assistant to Kherson Regional Council deputy Mykola Stavytsky. They are not named in the verdict, because the investigation materials regarding their actions were merged in separate criminal proceedings.
          On July 31, 2018, an acid attack was committed on activist Kateryna Handziuk near the entrance to her house in Kherson. She underwent several operations but died on November 4, 2018.”
3. Ukraine’s President calls for EU to intensify sanctions pressure on Russia
Ukraine’s Presidential Administration reported on June 5, “Ukraine must continue to move to the European Union, and European integration is a guarantee of the independence of the Ukrainian state. It was stated by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a joint briefing with President of the European Council Donald Tusk in Brussels. […]
          The President of Ukraine thanked the President of the European Council for the EU’s immutable support of Ukraine and called for the further strengthening of the sanctions pressure on Russia in order to bring peace to Ukraine.”
4. Ukraine’s Parliament rejects resignations of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defense and Head of State Security Service
photo – BBC Ukraine service

Ukraine’s Parliament rejected the resignations of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin, Minster of Defense Stepan Poltorak and Head of the State Security Service Vasyl Hrytsak. On May 30, President Zelenskyy introduced resolutions to Parliament calling for the removals from office of Klimkin, Poltorak and Hrytsak. Support of a majority of MPs (226 votes) is needed to confirm the removals. 137 MPs voted for the removal from office of Klimkin; 67 for the removal of Poltorak and 78 MPs for the removal of Hrytsak.
5. President Zelenskyy appears to plagiarize Poroshenko speech; blames “provocation”
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported, “Volodymyr Zelenskyy seemed to be saying all the right things in Brussels.
          Even his critics and backers of his presidential predecessor, Petro Poroshenko, appeared pleased. That may be because they’d heard some of it before, from Poroshenko himself.
         Zelenskyy, a political outsider who beat Poroshenko in a landslide in April, is being accused of plagiarism in remarks he delivered in the EU capital during his first trip abroad as president on June 4-5.
         Back home, the scandal threatens to cast a shadow over what was initially seen as a diplomatic success. Zelenskyy, who abandoned his typically casual attire in favor of a suit for the two days of meetings with senior EU and NATO officials, reaffirmed his commitment to the West and to reforms back in Ukraine.
         His administration has placed the blame for any uncanny echoes of Poroshenko in Zelenskyy’s remarks to holdovers within the Foreign Ministry, whom it accuses of a ‘provocation’ and of secretly working to undermine the new head of state. His office has announced an investigation to get to the bottom of it.
         At issue are comments Zelenskyy made after his meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk. ‘Ukraine in the EU is the death of the Russian imperial project,’ the Zelenskyy administration’s Twitter account quoted him as saying.  ‘Moreover, it is a heavy blow to Russian authoritarianism, a path toward democratic change in Russia and in the whole post-Soviet space.’ But those words appear to have been borrowed for the occasion.
          Poroshenko spokesman Svyatoslav Tseholko has accused Zelenskiy of ‘banal plagiarism,’ arguing that a ‘whole paragraph’ in the Brussels statement was lifted verbatim from a speech Poroshenko gave at his European Solidarity party congress on May 31. He included a video of Poroshenko delivering those remarks.  Some Ukrainians on social media also dug up a tweet from Poroshenko’s official account on May 18 — Europe Day in Kyiv — that included wording remarkably similar to Zelenskyy’s message.
         The Zelenskyy sentences in question do not appear in the official readout of the Zelenskyy-Tusk meeting on the president’s official website in Ukrainian, Russian, or English. The Zelenskiy administration has gone into damage-control mode as a result, launching an internal probe into the matter.
          In a statement, Zelenskyy’s office blamed Foreign Ministry employees who it accused of “continuing to work for Poroshenko” while they prepared some of Zelenskiy’s talking points for Brussels.
         ‘If confirmation is found of private cooperation of state employees from the Foreign Ministry with Poroshenko,’ it said, ‘harsh administrative, disciplinary, and personnel steps will follow.’
         But embarrassment aside for a man whose wildly successful career as a TV comic was built on intellectually copyrighted material, it is unclear what consequences the gaffes might have for Zelenskiy this early in his five-year term.
         Even Tseholko, the Poroshenko spokesman, tried to look on the bright side. In his Facebook post, he quipped, ‘It’s nice that Volodymyr listens to Petro Poroshenko.'”

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