Tag Archives: Kiev

Inquisitive Pskov Lawmaker Beaten Unconscious #Russia #Pskov


 Alexey Eremenko.Lev ShlosbergLev Shlosberg.

A Pskov region lawmaker was found stumbling through the streets covered in blood on Friday, after having called attention to reports that local paratroopers may have been deployed to war-torn Ukraine.

Lev Shlosberg sustained temporary amnesia, head injuries, a broken nose and numerous bruises, Igor Yakovlev, an associate in the social-democratic party Yabloko, said on his Facebook page Saturday.

The lawmaker eventually recovered enough to claim he had been attacked from behind by three thugs who beat him unconscious, Yabloko head Sergei Mitrokhin said.

“The rascals tracked Shlosberg to his house, assaulted him without a word … beat him up for several minutes and only fled when witnesses appeared,” Mitrokhin said on Yabloko’s website.

Local police launched a case based on charges of “hooliganism resulting in minor bodily harm,” which carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

Mitrokhin’s call to append the case to include the more serious charge of “attack on a state or public figure,” which carries up to a life sentence, had gone unheeded as of Sunday.

Pskov authorities assigned hospital guards to Shlosberg, who is well known in Russia for his crisp and balanced criticism of Kremlin policies.

Shlosberg, 51, spearheaded an investigation into the troops from the elite Pskov-based 76th Airborne Division who were buried in the region earlier this month under mysterious circumstances amid persistent rumors that they died in Ukrainian infighting.

The lawmaker, who directly linked the attack to the investigation in a brief interview with Flashnord.ru on Saturday, is not the first person who was allegedly attacked after looking into the paratroopers’ fate.

Reporters with independent media outlets Dozhd and Fontanka claim to have been assaulted by unidentified thugs in the Pskov cemetery last week while looking for the paratroopers’ graves. They drove away, allegedly before any serious harm could be inflicted.

Official Kiev, NATO, the EU and the U.S. all claimed last week, with varying degrees of certainty, that Russia had sent its troops to aid the pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

The insurgents have launched a surprising counteroffensive in recent days after appearing to have teetered on the brink of defeat for weeks.

Ukrainian officials blamed the separatists’ victories on an influx of heavy military equipment from Russia, complete with troops to operate them.

A senior NATO official estimated on Thursday that Russia had deployed about 1,000 soldiers. Russian NGO Soldiers’ Mothers Committee estimated that there had been about 400 Russian military casualties in Ukraine, and Shlosberg claimed on Ekho Moskvy radio hours before the attack on him that the 76th Airborne alone had lost at least 100 troops in Ukraine so far.

President Vladimir Putin denied that Russia had provided any military help to the rebels, and so did the Defense Ministry, which said the allegations “aren’t even funny anymore.”

Putin, however, called in an interview aired by Channel One television on Sunday to end hostilities and begin talks on “eastern Ukraine’s statehood.”

The call echoes the pro-separatist sentiment promoted by Channel One and other pro-Kremlin state media since the civil war’s outbreak last spring. Official Kiev has so far been refusing to discuss the “statehood” of the breakaway eastern provinces.

via Inquisitive Pskov Lawmaker Beaten Unconscious | News | The Moscow Times.

Russia to send second aid convoy to eastern Ukraine #aidconvoy


Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov tells Kiev Moscow is preparing to repeat deliveries to rebel-held areas in next few days.

By Associated Press in Moscow. Trucks marked as being from a Russian aid convoy return to Russia at the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, last week. Photograph: Sergei Grits/APTrucks marked as being from a Russian aid convoy return to Russia at the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, last week. Photograph: Sergei Grits/AP

Russia has announced plans to send a second aid convoy to rebel-held eastern Ukraine, where months of fighting have left many buildings in ruins.

Russia unilaterally sent about 200 tractor-trailers across the border on Friday, a move characterised by the Kiev government as an invasion.

Even though the white-tarpaulined vehicles returned to Russia on Saturday without incident, the announcement of another convoy was likely to raise fresh suspicions that Russia is supplying the rebels.

Russia’s unilateral dispatch of over 200 trucks into Ukraine on Friday was denounced by the Ukrainian government as an invasion and condemned by the US, the European Union and Nato.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said on Monday that Russia had notified the Ukrainian government that it was preparing to send a second convoy along the same route in the coming days.

Lavrov also said the food, water and other goods delivered to the hard-hit rebel city of Luhansk by the first convoy were being distributed on Monday with the participation of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

There was no immediate confirmation by the Red Cross.

In sending in the first convoy, Russia said it had lost patience with what it called Ukraine’s stalling tactics. It claimed that soon “there will no longer be anyone left to help” in Luhansk, where weeks of heavy shelling have cut off power, water and communications and made food scarce.

The Ukrainian government in the past few weeks has been making strong gains, taking back territory from the rebels. It believed the aid convoy was a ploy by Russia to get supplies to the rebels and slow down the government advances.

On Sunday, as Ukraine celebrated the anniversary of its 1991 independence from Moscow, President Peter Poroshenko announced the government would be increasing its military spending in a bid to defeat the rebels.

In rebel-held Donetsk, captured Ukrainian soldiers were paraded on Sunday in the streets, jeered by the crowd and pelted with eggs and tomatoes.


The Guardian.

German Chancellor Angela #Merkel Urges #Ukraine Truce as Trucks Return to #Russia


By Patrick Donahue, Daryna Krasnolutska and Anatoly Medetsky.Angela Merkel meets Petro Poroshenko in Kyiv on Aug. 23. © AFPAngela Merkel meets Petro Poroshenko in Kyiv on Aug. 23. © AFP

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a swift diplomatic resolution to the conflict in Ukraine as trucks that sparked international condemnation by crossing into the country without consent returned to Russia.

Peace plans are “on the table” as the leaders of Ukraine and Russia prepare to meet next week, Merkel said on her first visit to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, since separatist violence erupted this year. She spoke at a news conference with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

“Our focus cannot lie with military conflict, which unfortunately is necessary today,” Merkel said. “There has to be a bilateral cease-fire. Deeds now have to follow words and I think on the Ukrainian side, much has been done.”

The German leader waded into attempts to overcome the conflict as tensions spiked anew in Ukraine, which has been fractured by fighting that the United Nations says has left at least 2,000 dead since Russia annexed Crimea in March. Merkel said she came to make clear Germany’s call for preserving the former Soviet republic’s territorial integrity.

Russia, which Ukraine and its allies blame for stoking the unrest, denies it’s involved in the conflict that has triggered sanctions from the U.S. and Europe.

‘It’s Time’

Poroshenko, speaking alongside Merkel, said he will present a position coordinated with the European Union when he meets Russian President Vladimir Putin next week in the Belarus capital Minsk. The two will attend a summit of the Customs Union, a Russia-dominated trade bloc.

“It’s time for peace to come,” Poroshenko said.

All of about 280 trucks that carried what Russia says is humanitarian aid have returned to Russia, Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman at the Foreign Ministry in Moscow, said by phone today. A total of 227 vehicles in the convoy crossed back into to Russia, the Organizations for Security and Cooperation in Europe said in a statement today.

Merkel joined U.S. President Barack Obama yesterday in calling the action a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty. A Ukrainian government official called it an “invasion.”

Ukrainian border guards were unable to inspect the vehicles, Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said, adding that some of the trucks had loaded products made by the Ukrainian factory Topaz, which produces anti-artillery systems and other military equipment. All of the vehicles returned to Russia empty, Eduard Chizikov, an official at Russia’s Emergencies Ministry, said on the Rossiya 24 television channel.

Sanctions Threat

Asked whether intensified sanctions against Russia were being considered, Merkel said current efforts would focus on diplomacy and next week’s meeting in Minsk. The Obama administration yesterday said Russia risks deeper punitive measures unless it removes the convoy, which the U.S. deemed a “flagrant violation” of Ukraine’s sovereignty.

“Of course, we can’t rule out that we’ll have to consider further sanctions if there is no progress,” Merkel said.

Poroshenko announced plans for a fund that would provide 500 million euros ($662 million) to rebuild the areas of the country wracked by the fighting, which he dubbed “the beginning of the ‘Merkel plan.’”

The chancellor’s presence signaled her efforts to step up Germany’s engagement in Europe’s biggest standoff since the Cold War, a stance matched by her readiness to break with post-World War II German policy and help arm Kurdish forces in northern Iraq. Merkel, who grew up under communism in East Germany and speaks Russian, has voiced exasperation with Putin.

Flag Day

The visit to Kiev also carried symbolism, falling on the day before Ukraine marks the anniversary of its 1991 declaration of independence from the Soviet Union. The streets of the capital were festooned with the blue-and-yellow banner to celebrate the nation’s Flag Day.

“Ukrainians won’t ever be divided by language,” Poroshenko said at a rally earlier. “We are a peaceful nation but we are ready to pay with sweat and blood for the right to live under the Ukrainian flag.”

While Ukrainian should be the country’s only state language, the nation “shall pay respect” to its Russian-speaking members “who protect Ukraine,” he said. Russia earlier cited threats to the Russian-speaking community for its actions in Crimea.

Fighting continued in the country’s easternmost regions, where government forces have been claiming advances in their efforts to root out the separatists, taking parts of Luhansk and encircling Donetsk, the two largest cities held by the insurgents. Oleg Tsarev, a leader of the rebels, said on Russian state television Vesti last night from Donetsk that the rebels are now on the offensive and have retaken some villages.

Under Attack

Government forces are under attack near four towns and are being shelled from Russia, the Ukrainian military said on Facebook. The troops continued their assault in the past 24 hours, destroying two GRAD rocket-launcher systems among other equipment, it said. Two districts of Donetsk were shelled by artillery fire that killed three civilians, the city council said on its website today.

The rebels control about 100 kilometers (62 miles) of the border with Russia, while Ukrainian troops were being shelled from across the frontier along a stretch of about 400 kilometers, Lysenko said.


To contact the reporters on this story:
Patrick Donahue in Berlin at pdonahue1@bloomberg.net
Daryna Krasnolutska in Kiev at dkrasnolutsk@bloomberg.net
Anatoly Medetsky in Moscow at amedetsky@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net
Randall Hackley


Bloomberg.

Trucks from aid convoy to #Ukraine start crossing back into #Russia


BY DMITRY MADORSKYTrucks of a Russian convoy carrying humanitarian aid for Ukraine, drive in the direction of the Ukrainian border near the town of Donetsk, in Russia's Rostov Region, August 22, 2014. CREDIT: REUTERS/ALEXANDER DEMIANCHUKTrucks of a Russian convoy carrying humanitarian aid for Ukraine, drive in the direction of the Ukrainian border near the town of Donetsk, in Russia’s Rostov Region, August 22, 2014. CREDIT: REUTERS/ALEXANDER DEMIANCHUK

(Reuters) – Trucks from a Russian aid convoy started crossing back into Russia on Saturday after unleashing a storm of anger in Western capitals a day earlier by driving into Ukraine without the permission of the government in Kiev.

The return of the trucks may help ease the tension to some extent in time for talks in Ukraine’s capital on Saturday between visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian leaders over how to end the crisis in the ex-Soviet republic.

Western leaders had joined Kiev in calling the Russian convoy — about 220 white-painted trucks loaded with tinned food and bottle water — an illegal incursion onto Ukraine’s soil, and demanded that they be withdrawn as soon as possible.

A Reuters journalist at the Donetsk-Izvaryne border crossing, where the convoy rolled into Ukraine on Friday, said over 100 trucks had passed back into Russia and more could be seen in the distance arriving at the crossing.

Russian state television had earlier broadcast footage of some of the trucks being unloaded at a distribution depot in the city of Luhansk, eastern Ukraine. The Russian foreign ministry said the aid reached its intended destination.

A Russian convoy of trucks carrying humanitarian aid for Ukraine is parked at a camp near Donetsk, Rostov Region, August 22, 2014. CREDIT: REUTERS/ALEXANDER DEMIANCHUKA Russian convoy of trucks carrying humanitarian aid for Ukraine is parked at a camp near Donetsk, Rostov Region, August 22, 2014. CREDIT: REUTERS/ALEXANDER DEMIANCHUK

The city is held by separatist rebels who are encircled by Ukrainian government forces, and has been cut off from power and water supplies for weeks. International aid agencies have warned of a humanitarian crisis.

NATO said it had reports that Russian troops had been firing artillery at Kiev’s forces inside Ukraine – fuelling Western allegations that the Kremlin is behind the conflict in an effort undermine the Western-leaning leadership in Kiev.

“Since mid-August we have multiple reports of the direct involvement of Russian forces, including airborne, air defence and special operations forces in Eastern Ukraine,” said NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu.

“Russian artillery support – both cross border and from within Ukraine – is being employed against the Ukrainian armed forces,” she said.

Russia denies giving any material help to the rebellion in eastern Ukraine, a mainly Russian-speaking region. It accuses Kiev, with the backing of the West, of waging a war against innocent civilians.

The conflict in Ukraine has dragged Russian-Western relations to their lowest ebb since the Cold War and sparked a round of trade sanctions that are hurting already-fragile economies in European and Russia.

The German leader landed in Kiev and was scheduled to meet Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk.

Diplomats say she will show support for Kiev, but also urge Poroshenko to be open to peace proposals when he meets Russian President Vladimir Putin for talks next week.

HOMES DESTROYED

In the rebels biggest stronghold, the city of Donetsk, there was unusually intense shelling on Saturday. That may be part of a drive by government forces to achieve a breakthrough in time for Ukrainian Independence Day, which falls on Sunday.

The crisis over Ukraine started when mass protests in Kiev ousted a president who was close to Moscow, and instead installed leaders viewed with suspicion by the Kremlin.

Soon after that, Russia annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea, and a separatist rebellion broke out in eastern Ukraine. In the past weeks, the momentum has shifted towards Ukraine’s forces, who have been pushing back the rebels.

The separatist are now encircled in their two strongholds, Luhansk and Donetsk.

Reuters reporters in the city of Donetsk said that most of the shelling was taking place in the outskirts, but explosions were also audible in the centre of the city.

In Donetsk’s Leninsky district, a man who gave his name as Grigory, said he was in the toilet on Saturday morning when he heard the whistling sound of incoming artillery. “Then it hit. I came out and half the building was gone.”

The roof of the building had collapsed into a heap of debris. Grigory said his 27-year-old daughter was taken to hospital with injuries to her head. He picked up a picture of a baby from the rubble. “This is my grandson,” he said.

In another residential area, about 5 km north of the city centre, a shop and several houses had been hit. Residents said two men, civilians, were killed.

Praskoviya Grigoreva, 84, pointed to two puddles of blood on the pavement near a bus stop that was destroyed in the same attack. “He’s dead. Death took him on this spot,” she said.

(Additional reporting by Maria Tsvetkova and Tom Grove in Donetsk, Ukraine, Adrian Croft in Brussels, Richard Balmforth and Natalia Zinets in Kiev and Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Ralph Boulton).


Reuters.

German vice chancellor urges ‘federal’ #Ukraine


Western leaders have demanded Russia withdraw its disputed aid convoy from Ukraine.

by Agence France-Presse.Germany vice chancellor Sigmar GabrielGermany vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel © AFP.

BERLIN, Aug 23, 2014 (AFP) – Germany’s vice chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, said Saturday establishing a federal Ukraine would be the only viable solution to the crisis pitting Kiev against pro-Russian separatists.

“The wise concept of federalism seems to me the only viable path,” the vice chancellor and economic and energy affairs minister said in an interview to appear Sunday in the German weekly Welt am Sonntag.

The paper released extracts of the interview just hours before German Chancellor Angela Merkel was set to meet Ukrainian officials in Kiev for crisis talks.

Merkel, the most influential Western leader to visit Ukraine s pro-Western leaders, will hold talks with President Petro Poroshenko, three days ahead of the first meeting in months between Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Minsk alongside top EU officials.

Western leaders have demanded Russia withdraw its disputed aid convoy from Ukraine after the Kremlin unilaterally sent them to the insurgent stronghold of Lugansk on Friday in a move Kiev decried as an “invasion”.

Parts of the mammoth aid convoy crossed back into Russian territory on Saturday.

The German diplomatic push is aimed mainly at “avoiding, by any means possible, a direct military confrontation between Russia and Ukraine,” Gabriel said.

“The territorial integrity of Ukraine cannot be preserved unless a proposition is made to the majority Russian-speaking regions,” he said.

But he was pessimistic over a return to Kiev s control of the Crimean peninsula, annexed by Moscow in March.


Dunya News.