Ukraine: Daily Briefing – June 20, 2019, 5 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
June 20, 2019, 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, one Ukrainian soldier was killed and two Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Donetsk and Luhansk sectors of the front 24 times in total. Returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed 1 and wounded 1 enemy combatants in the last 24 hours.
2. Senior US Senator renews call to designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism
US Senator Corey Gardner (R-CO), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, recently introduced the bipartisan Stopping Malign Actions from Russian Terrorism (SMART) Act, which requires a determination on designation of the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism.
            Following the announcement of the Public Prosecution Service of the Netherlands that it will prosecute four individuals, including three Russian nationals, for the rocket attack that downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17 in 2014, Gardner stated, “Russia’s abhorrent actions around the world, including support for terror groups in Ukraine and Syria, the chemical weapons attacks on the soil of a NATO ally, and interference in elections around the world, should be more than enough to formally label Putin’s Russia what it is – a state sponsor of terrorism. With this bill, Congress is demonstrating firm bipartisan resolve against Kremlin’s mendacity and I hope it will move quickly to pass the Senate.”
More information about the legislation introduced by Senator Gardner is available here
3. Ukrinform: Constitutional Court declares decree on parliament dissolution constitutional – source
Ukrinform reported, “Ukraine’s Constitutional Court has recognized President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s decree on the dissolution of the Verkhovna Rada as constitutional. A respective decision was taken during a closed session of the court’s grand chamber on Thursday, June 20, a well-informed source in the court told Ukrinform.
          ‘The court has recognized the presidential decree on the parliament’s dissolution as constitutional,’ the source said. Viktor Kryvenko was the judge-rapporteur in this case.
          As was reported earlier, Zelenskyy announced the dissolution of the Verkhovna Rada in his inaugural speech on May 20. On May 21, he signed a decree on the dissolution of the parliament and the calling of snap elections on July 21. The decree came into force on May 23 after its publication in the government’s Uriadovy Kurier newspaper.
         On May 24, People’s Front MPs Andriy Teteruk and Ihor Alekseyev submitted a motion to the Constitutional Court regarding the unconstitutionality of the presidential decree on the early termination of the powers of the Verkhovna Rada. They asked the court to consider the motion within a month.
         On May 29, the Constitutional Court opened proceedings in this case and set its consideration in the form of a verbal hearing for June 11. The court then proceeded to the consideration of the case behind closed doors.”
4. Ukrainian MP Dmytro Tymchuk found shot dead at home
Dmytro Tymchuk. Photo – BBC
The BBC reported on June 19, “Prominent Ukrainian MP and military affairs analyst Dmytro Tymchuk has been found shot dead at his home in the capital Kyiv. It is unclear whether he was murdered, killed himself deliberately or shot himself accidentally with his pistol, the interior ministry says.
          A fellow MP from the People’s Front party said his friend had been found with a gunshot wound to the head. Mr. Tymchuk had blogged extensively about the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Just a day before his death, he summarised on Facebook (in Russian) the latest fighting along the line […] Tributes on Facebook speak of his ‘invaluable contribution to the fight for Ukraine’ and question how a man from a military background could have accidentally shot himself.
          Asked what lines of inquiry police were pursuing, interior ministry spokesman Artem Shevchenko said: ‘It is one of three things: Murder, suicide or negligent handling of a weapon.’
         Mr Tymchuk was a former naval officer who came to national prominence in 2014 with his blogging on Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
          In particular, he set up the Information Resistance blog, which seeks to expose Russian military involvement in the ongoing conflict. He was elected to parliament in October 2014 as a member of then-Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s People’s Front party.
         At the high point of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, Dmytro Tymchuk was one of the main newsmakers for Ukrainians. In the information vacuum, chaos and panic of the war that had just broken out, he positioned himself as an independent military analyst with his own intelligence sources and access to leaks.
          But actually his role was seen by many as that of a person who said out loud what Ukrainian officials could not for diplomatic and other reasons. Journalists often referred to Tymchuk as a person who was able to explain what was really going on on the battlegrounds of the hybrid war from the Ukrainian viewpoint.
          He came out with the toughest criticism of Russia and always blamed it for this war. Once he was elected to the parliament, he switched to legislative work. Given he was a newsmaker during the war who knew a lot, his strange death raises concerns and suspicions in Ukraine.”
5. Journalist beaten in Cherkasy dies after coma
Vadym Komarov. Photo – Hromadske International

Hromadske International reported, “Vadym Komarov, the Ukrainian journalist who was beaten on May 4 in the central Ukrainian city of Cherkasy, has died following more than a month in a state of coma. This was reported by the Head of National Journalist Union of Ukraine Sergiy Tomilenko.
          ‘Following the attack, Vadym was unconscious, in a coma,’ Tomilenko wrote on Facebook. ‘The only plausible reason for the assassination attempt – that is now a murder – the journalists in Cherkasy consider is the professional activity of Vadym Komarov.’
          Komarov, among other topics, wrote about embezzlement of state funds, illegal construction and corruption within the Cherkasy city council.
         ‘He made many politicians uncomfortable. He asked tricky questions about corruption in Cherkasy, he covered high-profile cases,” Tomilenko wrote about the late journalist.
        Tomilenko emphasized that ‘physical aggression against journalists in Ukraine is on the rise.’ Vadym Komarov was beaten in central Cherkasy on May 4. He was immediately taken to intensive care for head injuries.”
6. Canada supports Ukrainian parliamentary elections through election observer mission under the direction of Lloyd Axworthy
On June 19, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland stated, “Free and fair elections are a fundamental part of democracy. They foster transparency and promote accountability. I am pleased to announce that the Honourable Lloyd Axworthy, who led the Canadian delegation of election observers for Ukraine’s presidential elections, will be returning as the head of Canada’s election observation mission during Ukraine’s upcoming parliamentary elections.
           In April, as the senior representative, Dr. Axworthy led Canada’s election observation mission and provided a thorough assessment of the electoral process in Ukraine. His stakeholder engagement and his work on issues such as foreign interference, cyber threats and women’s participation in the electoral process, shared in his report, proved to be invaluable for Ukraine and Canada. We are so pleased that Dr. Axworthy has accepted to continue in this capacity.
          Today, we also mark the deployment of 65 long-term observers to Ukraine ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections. They will continue to establish contact with local authorities and civil society, including women’s organizations and minority groups, in their areas of deployment to collect a wide range of views on all the steps of the electoral process and provide an in-depth analysis for the reports on the parliamentary elections.
           Now is the time to seize on the momentum achieved by the recent and successful presidential elections in Ukraine. In this context, we look forward to hosting the Ukraine Reform Conference on July 2 to 4, 2019, in Toronto, Ontario. The conference comes at an important time and will allow Ukraine’s international friends and partners to continue supporting Ukraine in advancing democratic and economic reforms.
           Canada can be relied upon to stand up for the people of Ukraine and for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

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