Tag Archives: Kyiv Post

Kremlin-backed rebels hand over #MH17 black boxes to Malaysia


Kremlin-backed separatists handed over the black boxes from flight MH17 to Malaysian officials in Donetsk early on July 22.Kremlin-backed separatists handed over the black boxes from flight MH17 to Malaysian officials in Donetsk early on July 22. © Christopher J. Miller

DONETSK, Ukraine – It took nearly five days and hours of negotiations late into night, but Russia-backed rebels ceded some ground and turned over the flight recorder devices from Malaysia Airlines flight 17, shot down by a surface-to-air rocket last week, to Malaysian officials.

They also promised to release the bodies recovered from the crash site some 40 miles east in the village of Grabove, which were inside refrigerated railcars at the Donetsk train station but would soon be on their way to the Ukrainian-controlled eastern city of Kharkiv, and declared a ceasefire within a six-mile radius around the crash site to allow international investigators safe access to the area.

Donning his favorite blue blazer and flanked by gunmen, Alexander Borodai, the self-proclaimed prime minister the Donetsk People’s Republic, called July 22, “an important day in the history of the Donetsk People’s Republic,” as two camouflage-clad rebel ceremoniously removed two of the so-called black boxes from a white sack and placed them on the table inside the 11-floor conference room of the rebel-occupied Donetsk regional administration.

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Yatsenyuk: ‘Russia is on dark side’ for orchestrating attack on Flight #MH17


Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk blames Russia for the missile attack that brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17, killing 298 people. © AFPUkrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk blames Russia for the missile attack that brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17, killing 298 people. © AFP

Saying he expected “nothing from the Russian government,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk at a news conference today outlined a compelling case that shows the Russian government armed, financed and assisted Kremlin-backed guerrillas in shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17,  killing all 298 people aboard.

“We have information the training took place on Russian territory,” Yatsenyuk said. “Those who committed this international crime, those responsible will be held accountable. Together with the international community, we will bring to justice everyone responsible, including the country which is behind the scenes, but which supplied the weapons, provided financial support and trained these bastards and supported and even orchestrated this kind of despicable crime.”

Russia has blamed the crash on violence in Ukraine but also called for an independent international investigation even as state-controlled news media outlets give currency to allegations that the Ukrainian government is responsible..

Yatsenyuk said that the Ukrainian government is willing to transfer control of the criminal investigation under way to the international community, led by the government of the Netherlands, who lost the most people in the Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight.

But Yatsenyuk said that the Kremlin-backed guerrillas are still obstructing the investigation and still control the area “with guns and with grenade launchers.” He pledged that the Ukrainian government would not undertake any military campaign in the area of the crash site, near Torez in Donetsk Oblast. He spoke during a 45-minute news conference at the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center in Kyiv. Continue reading

UPDATE: #MH17 air crash – Recovered bodies put on train, set to depart


Questions linger, as the train with Boeing crash victims’ bodies is set to depart.

The train carrying the bodies of Boeing air crash victims, pictured on July 20, is ready to depart from the railway station in Torez, east of Donetsk. It's final destination, meanwhile, remains unclear. © Christopher J. MillerThe train carrying the bodies of Boeing air crash victims, pictured on July 20, is ready to depart from the railway station in Torez, east of Donetsk. It’s final destination, meanwhile, remains unclear. © Christopher J. Miller

TOREZ, Ukraine – After more than two days exposed to the elements in the fields where they met their death, the corpses of the Malaysia Airlines flight 17 passengers have been bagged and loaded into three refrigerated train cars for safe keeping.

But their destination is unknown.

At the Torez train station, 10 miles south of the crash site, 192 of victims will sit until “experts1” arrive to inspect them and decide where they will go, the self-proclaimed prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic told journalists on July 20.

As of July 20, Ukraine’s emergency service workers uncovered 219 bodies and from the massive crash site over the past three days, according to deputy prime minister Volodymyr Groisman speaking in Kyiv. Meanwhile, 27 of those bodies and additional 20 body fragments, are still at the crash site, as authorities are waiting for additional refrigiration equipment to arrive to a nearby railway station in Torez.

Groisman, at the same time, fears that the rebels might be tempering with the bodies, making the proper investigation even more complicated.

“You know that 36 or 38 bodies were taken away by terrorists and then returned … We do not know exactly what they did with the bodies,” he said.

When journalists from Time and the BBC went to the morgue in Donetsk to investigate this on July 20, they were detained by Russia-backed rebels and taken to the local security services building. They were questioned and held for more than two hours before being released.

Just after noon in Torez, observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Special Monitoring Mission inspected the three refrigerated train cars holding the victim’s corpses.

“The special monitoring mission in its third day dealing with the incident has now monitored the location where bodies are being refrigerated in three wagons,” said Alexander Hug, the deputy chief of the mission.

“We have not been able to count them as that would be too difficult in this situation,” Hug added.

But the mutilated and decaying bodies were definitely inside, as evidenced by the pungent odor leaking from the unsealed wagon doors.

Natalya Koruzhaya, a train dispatcher, said she had not been told where the train would go after leaving Torez. But a colleague said the train could go north to Debaltseve, or east to Ilovaisk from Torez.

Ukrainian authorities would like to see the bodies transported to Kharkiv where they can be handled by some of the country’s top forensic specialists.

A crisis center has been set up there for international experts, and hotel accommodate enough for 400 has been arranged for the victims’ families.


Kyiv Post editor Christopher J. Miller and Kyiv Post staff writer Iana Koretska can be reached at miller@kyivpost.com and koretska@kyivpost.com.

Kyiv Post

A freight wagon carrying the remains of MH17 victims at Torez stationA freight wagon carrying the remains of MH17 victims at Torez stationMost of the recovered bodies are thought to have been put in refrigerated rail wagonsMost of the recovered bodies are thought to have been put in refrigerated rail wagonsA crane could be seen at the crash site lifting large pieces of wreckageA crane could be seen at the crash site lifting large pieces of wreckageThe UN Security Council has called for a full and independent international investigation into the crashThe UN Security Council has called for a full and independent international investigation into the crashFatal flight path of Flight MH17


  1.  Meaning Russian and other former soviet states loyal to Russia 

Kyiv Post: Civilians caught in the crossfire as rockets rain down on separatist-held cities


Vladimir Viktorovich Piskunov, 39, stands in front of his home in Donetsk's Trudovskyi District, which was struck by three Grad rockets around 3:30 p.m. on July 12, killing his wife, Tatyana Piskonova, 32, and their dog. Piskonov blames Ukrainian forces for the attack, but it remains unclear exactly who fired on the neighborhood.Vladimir Viktorovich Piskunov, 39, stands in front of his home in Donetsk’s Trudovskyi District, which was struck by three Grad rockets around 3:30 p.m. on July 12, killing his wife, Tatyana Piskonova, 32, and their dog. Piskonov blames Ukrainian forces for the attack, but it remains unclear exactly who fired on the neighborhood. © Christopher J. Miller

MARINKA, Ukraine – For three straight days, rockets have bombarded the quiet residential Petrovskyi district on the southwestern edge of Donetsk and the neighboring town of Mariinka, reducing apartment blocks, supermarkets, vehicles and a kindergarten to scorched rubble and killing at least six civilians.

One of them was Tatyana Piskunova, the 32-year-old wife of Vladimir Viktorovich Piskunov, 39. With rockets raining down all around at about 3:30 p.m. on July 12, she darted to the cellar of the home the two of them built together in 2007.

Just then, a rocket ripped through the roof, exploding on the front porch and sending shrapnel flying. Two more quickly followed. Struck all over her body, in a last ditch attempt to make it to safety, Piskunova dragged herself toward the two-foot wide cellar opening. But she never reached it.

On July 13, Piskunov, who said he was certain that Ukrainian government forces fired the rockets, pointed to the place nearby where she bled to death. Her body had been taken away, but flies buzzed over the bloodstains and streaked fingerprints left behind. The couple’s dog was also killed in the blast.

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More #abductions, #torture seen in #separatist-held eastern #Ukraine


The soot-stained passport and press card of Ukrainian journalist Irma Krat, recovered inside the Sloviansk regional headquarters of the Security Service of Ukraine.The soot-stained passport and press card of Ukrainian journalist Irma Krat, recovered inside the Sloviansk regional headquarters of the Security Service of Ukraine. For nearly three months, the SBU building served as command center for the Kremlin-backed insurgents. Ukrainian forces liberated the city of 120,000 people on July 5. In the SBU building, dozens of people were held captive for months before the Ukrainian military operation set them free and sent the separatists fleeing to Donetsk. © Christopher J. Miller

SLOVIANSK/DONETSK, Ukraine – Finally free from the clutches of Russian-backed separatists who abducted her, Hanna, a pro-Ukraine activist from Donetsk, tells a dispiriting tale.

“My face was smashed – he punched me in the face with his fist, he was trying to beat me everywhere, I was covering myself with my hands… I was huddled in the corner, curled up in a ball with my hands around my knees. He was angry that I was trying to protect myself. He went out and came back with a knife,” Hanna, who did not give her name for fear of reprisals from her former captors, told human rights observers from Amnesty International, according to a report released on July 11.

Hanna and her boyfriend Fyodor told Amnesty’s observers they were abducted by armed men in Donetsk on May 27 and held captive for six days before being released as part of a prisoner exchange. They believe they were captured because of their pro-Ukraine stance and work as activists.

Her harrowing tale is merely one of hundreds, as the number of abductions mounts amid an ongoing war that began in April between Kyiv’s government forces and pro-Russia separatists who have seized control over vast swaths of land, including the major cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, in eastern Ukraine.

While definitive statistics on abductions are hard to come by, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry has reported some 500 cases since the onslaught of the conflict in April. The Amnesty report says that the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission for Ukraine recorded 222 abduction cases in that time.

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