Dec. 27, 2016:
UN Report: Ukrainian government troops rape, federal SBU kidnaps
On Dec. 8, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) presented in Ukraine’s capital city of Kiev another report on the situation in the country.
The head of the High Commissioner’s mission in Ukraine, Fiona Frazer, reported that the U.N. staff found many instances of human rights violations on both sides of the frontline of fighting in eastern Ukraine.
According to Frazer, the staff was able to trace several reports about sexual violence against young women by government troops at checkpoint crossings. “This is a very serious question,” she stated.
In addition, the U.N. representatives expressed concern that the federal Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) continues to kidnap people and detain them without any contact with the outside world. In particular, they examined several cases when kidnapped people were illegally detained at the SBU headquarters in the eastern city of Mariupol.
Poroshenko’s lawyers threaten Western journalists because of corruption claims
Several journalists with European mass media outlets have received threats from the London-based law firm of Atkins Thomson threatening them with lawsuits if they write about accusations against Ukrainian President Petro Poroschenko made by a former ally and now fugitive Ukrainian MP [Member of Parliament], Alexander Onischenko.
Maxim Tucker, a journalist for The Times, reported such threats. “Just got letter from Poroshenko lawyers threatening to sue UK media repeating Onischenko claim he bribed MPs. That Poroshenko bribed MPs,” Tucker said in a tweet.
Later Tucker added that, according to his sources, other journalists have received similar threats. Moreover, he noted that he does not plan to stop working on the material about disclosures made by Onischenko. Apparently this material is supposed to come out in the near future in The Times.
The Ukrainian publication “Correspondent” asked President Poroshenko’s administration for comments on Tucker’s statements. They neither confirmed nor denied them.
It should be remembered that the MP Onischenko, who is currently in the USA, declared that he possesses audio recordings that prove the fact of Poroshenko’s political corruption. In particular, Onischenko claims that in 2014-2015 he bribed MPs at Poroshenko’s directions so they would vote “as they were supposed to” for presidential and governmental bills.
Odessan political prisoners are being prepared for an exchange
There seems to be a light of hope in the protracted issue of the exchange of political prisoners for prisoners of war detained by the unrecognized DPR [Donetsk People’s Republic] and LPR [Luhansk People’s Republic].
In recent days, SBU officials started an active preparation of documents necessary for the exchange. In particular, they are collecting statements of consent to the exchange from detainees held in the Odessan jail.
According to known information, at least one significant exchange is planned to take place before the end of 2016. However, it is not known for certain how many detainees will be exchanged and who exactly will be included on the list of the lucky ones.
Ukraine’s representative on the humanitarian working group on settlement of the situation in Donbass, First Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) Irina Gerashchenko, speaks of an exchange of 228 political prisoners for 42 Ukrainian hostages.
However there is a different formula – 600 for 108 – which of course better corresponds to the principle of “all for all” prisoners established in the Minsk agreements.
The situation is complicated by the fact that there are a lot of inaccuracies in the lists of people to be exchanged. They often include people who have already been released and hence do not need to be exchanged. On the other hand, the names of some political prisoners apparently are not included in the lists at all.
Petition on the website of Kirovograd City Council: Residents demand to re-establish ties with the Russian Federation
Residents of the regional center Kropivnitskiy (named Kirovograd before the decommunization) supported a petition to restore economic relations with the Russian Federation.
This document, authored by Oleg Dudaev and posted on Nov. 25 on the city council’s website, was signed by 2,072 people. A minimum of 450 signatures was necessary. Residents demanded the municipal authorities “bring to the attention of Ukrainian authorities our urgent demand, one of the vital demands for our country.”
As the signatories note, crises continue to grow in the Ukrainian economy: the utilities tariffs grow, various welfare programs get cut and unemployment rates increase.
According to the petition, “Ukraine has lost 10 basic points in the competitiveness index of national business. The purchasing power of the population has greatly decreased. Assistance of international creditors is delayed every time, which causes significant fluctuations of the hryvnia [Ukraine’s national currency]. The conditions of the foreign aid, such as increase of the retirement age, removal of the moratorium on land sale and round timber exports, become more and more difficult for the people.”
Referring to data announced earlier by Ukraine’s president, the petitioners also note that losses from economic sanctions from the Russian Federation have already amounted to $15 billion.
“We have lost from 90,000 to 120,000 jobs and export currency earnings have decreased six times. At the same time, economic advantages of the agreement about the association with the EU [European Union] are minimal because of paltry quotas that are given to Ukrainian producers; the trade with the countries of CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova, has greatly diminished,” states the petition.
The residents demand that Kiev immediately start the “re-establishment of traditional export markets for our goods,” offering to create an intergovernmental Ukrainian-Russian working group that would develop a corresponding road map.
The City Council is supposed to give its answer to the petition no later than Dec. 20.
Odessa region is facing the collapse of its court system
The situation with the number of judges in the Odessa region is critical: soon there won’t be anyone left to hear cases.
This was declared at a Dec. 13 press conference by the Chief Justice of the Economic Court of Appeal of the Odessa region, Natalya Morschagina.
“The number of judges is decreasing, the number of cases is not, hence judges’ workload is growing,” she declared. “This could entail the increase of time that it takes to hear cases, and the decrease of decisions rendered. If no measures are taken, some quick actions, then the collapse is imminent.”
In particular, she said, out of 27 judges of the Economic Court of Appeals of the Odessa region, seven already have signed their resignation letters, which are supposed to be confirmed before the end of the year. Thus, in the nearest future the number of judges in this court will decrease by a quarter. Moreover, five more judges have the right to retire due to their seniority and, according to Morschagina, are considering leaving their posts.
The leader of Odessa Pravoseki (Right Sector) suggested to return Savchenko back to captivity
The leader of the Odessa region branch of the Right Sector party, Sergey Sternenko, suggested returning Nadezhda Savchenko, who was released from Russian jail, “back to captivity.”
This was Sternenko’s reaction to a provocative experiment conducted by journalists of the project Groshi (Ukrainian TV channel “1+1”), who called Nadezhda Savchenko (MP, hero of Ukraine) on behalf of representatives of the LPR/DPR, suggesting she open a representation of these self-proclaimed republics in Kiev.
“So maybe we should return her back to captivity, huh?” wrote the leader of Odessan right-wingers.
A Groshi staff member introduced himself to Savchenko as “a person from Zacharchenko” (the head of DPR) during the phone call and tried to persuade her to come to a meeting, as well as to cooperate with the DPR leadership.
“I’ve been saying this for a long time, that I am ready for a normal dialogue, ready to take risks,” replied the MP. “I think I proved that. No problem. I am ready.”
On June 7, Savchenko declared that the Donbass problem has to be solved through direct negotiations with leaders of the self-proclaimed republics.
She also demonstrated willingness to personally lead negotiations with the leaders of the republics Zacharchenko and Plotnitsky.
DPR opened its Representative Center in Italy
On Dec. 14, in Turin, Italy, there was a second opening in the EU Representative Center of the unrecognized DPR.
As the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of DPR announced, interests of the republic were represented at the opening of the center by a member of the regional parliament from the party “Brothers of Italy” (Fratelli d’Italia), Maurizio Marrone.
“I visited Donbass twice, in September and October 2016. And I have seen all the problems and sufferings the people of Donbass face daily. My aim is to tell Italy about what is going on in your region,” he said.
Consideration of the question of visa-free status for Ukraine postponed till April
The European Parliament will consider the question of granting Ukraine visa-free status no earlier than April 3, 2017.
This is the third recent postponement of the date for considering the issue. First, it was planned that the question would be decided by the Ukraine-EU summit in November. Then it was postponed till January. After that it became known that the European Parliament plans to review the issue on Feb. 1. Now it is put off to an even later date.
Neo-Nazis were not able to frustrate a premiere in Odessa of a song with lyrics by a poet who died in the House of Trade Unions
On Dec. 8, Ukrainian neo-Nazis disrupted the concert of Russian actress, poet, well-known author and performer Svetlana Kopylova. Her performance was supposed to take place in the Ukrainian Music and Drama Theater of Odessa. However, “after patriots’ visit to the theatre, her concert was canceled.” Seeing how many people came to the concert and taking into consideration the fact that it was impossible to get into the theater, Kopylova performed a song with lyrics written by Vadim Negaturov on a street near the theater: “I am here at work, on a business trip, my homeland is at heaven …”
Dec. 6, 2016:
Lawlessness in the courts
[OSC Staff note: The following is from a report read at a recent weekly memorial held at the site of the massacre at the House of Trade Unions in Kulikovo pole (square) in Odessa, Ukraine.]
Over the last three years, Odessa has seen more than a few examples of judicial misconduct. Odessans have experienced a wave of indignation caused by the judicial process concerning the massacre of May 2, 2014, and the violations of law that accompanied it, of which lawyers have counted dozens. No less severe offenses against the system of law and justice have also taken place during numerous trials of “separatists,” even though those who are put on trial are far from being separatists.
On Dec. 6, 2016, there was another hearing in the case of Sergey B., who is accused of attempted murder against the notorious Euro-Maidan activist Sergey Gutsalyuk. When the detainee was brought to court he looked simply terrible. He looked exhausted and his face was a sickly color. He has been in detention for more than a year-and-a-half, but the prosecution still has not presented any coherent evidence of his guilt.
When asked if there were any witnesses, the prosecutor declared that the main witness – Gutsalyuk himself – was absent; that is, is in the ATO zone [Anti-Terrorist Operation Zone – a term used by the government to refer to territory where the war in Donbass takes place].
Allegedly, there are other witnesses ready to testify in the case. But when the defense attorney asked how many of these witnesses there were, the prosecutor calmly answered, “Either five or four, I don’t know exactly.” Neither the defense attorney nor the defendant have not been given an opportunity to familiarize themselves fully with the material of the case.
Finally, without any substantial consideration of the case, the court decided to extend the defendant’s detention period for another two months. Thus, once again, the law was grossly violated. The judges made a decision without any interrogation either of the defendant or his lawyer.
Pity for the young man. Pity for his relatives.
And with respect to the impotent court and the government that has been brought to a state of irrelevance and that obeys every command of the Banderovites [followers of the Ukrainian fascist Stepan Bandera], one feels pitiful contempt.
Whom do you defend from justice? The murderers of May 2 and their accomplices?
Take, for example, Sergey Gutsalyuk, who was active throughout the entire day of May 2. In this photo, taken near the House of Trade Unions, he gives a gun to his helper to recharge [reload] it.
This episode is captured in the video, placed online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ntMY22y7Us
One can hear clearly the voice of Gutsalyuk saying, “Slavik! Charge the holder!” Why isn’t the court able to notice that there were armed people who besieged the House of Trade Unions on May 2, 2014, and at least express interest as to what kind of weapon this was? What happened to it? Were shots fired from it? Where are the bullets? Together with useful idiots from the “group of May 2,” the official investigators have been claiming for three years that there were no gunshot wounds on the corpses in the House of Trade Unions. And, of course, the old excuse, “They did it to themselves.”
And here is another photo, one that characterizes Gutsalyuk very well. Here a moment is captured when the dead were being brought out from the rear of the building. Even many of Gutsalyuk’s followers were in shock, grabbing their heads, calling for emergency help. But this insane man, gone mad from the chaos and the sight of blood, jumped on one man, whom for some reason he blamed for the deaths that happened that day.
Meanwhile, the police were not getting involved. You can find this story online as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQAdqBNAqfI
No policeman in the world would leave such aggressiveness unpunished in a place of mass unrest – other than Ukrainian policemen, of course, but this has been clear for a long time.
One thing we know for sure: history will put everything in its place. The time of scoundrels will pass!
Nov. 15, 2016:
Right-wing attacks continue in Odessa; Ukraine opposes anti-Nazi UN resolution
[OSC Staff note: The following is from a report read at a recent weekly memorial held at the site of the massacre at the House of Trade Unions in Kulikovo pole (square) in Odessa, Ukraine. It offers important insights into what life today is like in Odessa, where right-wing organizations have made it their mission to harass the relatives of those murdered by a fascist-led mob on May 2, 2014. It’s important to keep providing this information to the world in order to build support for an international investigation into the massacre and to expose the realities of life in Ukraine.]
Sergey Sternenko, Odessa Right Sector leader
On Nov. 15, in the Suvorovsky Regional Court of Odessa, a hearing took place regarding the legal claim filed by Sergey Sternenko, head of the Odessa branch of the Right Sector organization, against Elena Radzihovskaya, mother of Andrey Brazhevskiy, one of the victims of May 2, 2014.
The legal suit filed this summer claims that Radzihovskaya encroached on Sternenko’s “honor and dignity” by insulting him. Sternenko, Odessa’s main rightist, demanded that Radzihovskaya apologize. The court, having taken the claim under consideration, partially satisfied his claim and recognized as defamatory the following statements made against him: “bull” and “moron.”
Following the hearing, the court awarded moral damages to the rightist in the amount of 1 Hryvnya [$0.39 USD].
Radzihovskaya does not have to publicly apologize to Sternenko; the court refused to satisfy this demand of the Pravosek [member of Right Sector]. Also, the judge did not find Radzihovskaya’s statement “Odessa is a Russian city” defamatory in respect to Sternenko.
We should add that the court ordered Radzihovskaya to pay legal costs in the amount of 680 Hryvnya [$26.28 USD] accrued in connection with the legal claim.
Social networks rightfully reacted to the court decision. This is what one Internet user wrote:
“Ice has moved, dear jurors. A few months ago, Elena Radzihovskaya, mother of Andrey Brazhevskiy, who died on May 2, mildly characterized the main member of Right Sector of Odessa stervenko [a play on words: “sterva” means ‘damned wretch’], calling him ‘bull’ and ‘moron.’
“The gentle soul of the Pravosek could not endure such injustice, so he sued Elena, alleging that his honor and dignity had been fatally insulted. The Suvorovsky Court has looked for the honor and dignity of Stervenko for a long time, and in the end couldn’t find it. Not to make the infantile cry too much, the moral damages were estimated in 1 Hryvnya. With all this, the court refused to demand from Elena public apologies before stervenko. Betrayal [the Ukrainian word used here], ain’t it?”
On the same day the verdict was reached, the “victor,” Sternenko, demonstrated that he is after all not such an stern Pravosek. Trying to provoke tears, he complained that he had to spend around 2,000 Hryvnya to pay utility bills.
“There is not a thing in the fridge, the car has run out of gas, and on top of that I have to give away 1,800 for the utilities,” wrote Sternenko on his Facebook page.
You should jump around more, Pravoseks, and “riches” will flow into your open mouths, just as the Cossack Patsyuk arranged for himself in Gogol’s Dikanka [an allusion to Nikolia Gogol’s book “Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka.”)
THE TIMES OF SCOUNDRELS
But Sternenko is not the only one who distinguishes himself in terms of provocations, small and large delinquencies and different criminally punishable actions. We are happy to continue introducing to you his true companions, members of the “patriotic” crowd, whose ardent desire to earn a couple of coins by hounding mothers and relatives of the victims of May 2, aged women and pensioners, outweighs all moral norms and principles of behavior accepted in a civilized society.
Alena Solomatina, journalist
Take, for example, Alena Solomatina, who presents herself as a journalist for an online publication “Information Center.” Reports quite often appear on this website under this signature about our demonstrations, reports loyal to the rightists of the Kulikovo pole (square). But this does not prevent Olenushka [the Ukrainian diminutive for “Alena”] to be in a friendly relationship with the Odessa “patriotic” organized criminal group, including Sternenko.
Solomatina demonstrates this in every way during the hearings of the case of May 2. The highpoint of her “friendship” with Pravoseks has been the fact that she was the “informer” on the day of the showing of the movie “Burning Hearts,” which led to the disruption and cancellation of the showing and an additional anguish for the relatives of the Odessans who died on May 2.
Igor Rezun, at right.
And the photo above captures a moment when a medal of the Kiev Patriarchate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is being awarded to Igor Rezun, Sternenko’s aide in the business of turning the lives of Odessans into a nightmare. Rezin also has distinguished himself with an entire series of offenses. Previously such “eagles” would face a colony for juvenile offenders, but today delinquents and criminals are awarded in temples – where Sternenko, by the way, also received his pendant.
UKRAINE OPPOSES ANTI-NAZI U.N. RESOLUTION
Meanwhile, the United Nations has adopted a resolution for the struggle against the glorification of Nazism. The document emphasizes that all states must forbid any celebration in honor of the Nazi regime, its allies and organizations connected to it (including Waffen-SS units, one of which was Galichina), whether officially or not. According to the resolution, the absence of effective opposition on the part of states to such practices is incompatible with obligations of the U.N. member-states, according to the U.N. charter.
“The General Assembly also expresses concern in regard to continuous attempts of desecration and destruction of memorials, erected in the memory of those who fought against Nazism during WWII, as well as of illegal exhumation and transfer of these people’s remains,” states the adopted document.
A total of 131 countries voted in favor of the resolution. Forty-eight abstained. Only three states voted against it: the United States, Ukraine and Palau.
Well, given the presence of such “nestlings” as described above, there is nothing surprising about Ukraine’s position.
Nov. 4, 2016: Report by the Council of Mothers of May 2:
May 2 tragedy commemorated in Odessa and other cities, countries
From Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 in Odessa, we honored the memory of our compatriots who were killed on May 2, 2014, in the Odessa House of Trade Unions. Actions of solidarity also took place in other cities and countries.
At the Ukrainian embassy in Moscow, activists of the “Odessa Expatriates Community in Russia” laid flowers and lit 48 candles in commemoration of those who died. The executive director of the Expatriates’ Community, Alexander Vetrov, noted that Odessans in Moscow will provide support to the families of the victims.
“We will never abandon our compatriots, who, to our common chagrin and misery, lost their close ones in this horrific tragedy,” reassured Vetrov, a native of Odessa and the organizer of the action.
They honored Odessans who died on that fatal day with a minute of silence and the 48 lit candles “… to remind the entire world and the Ukrainian authorities that not one Odessan, wherever he or she was, has a right to forget this terrible day and let it be forgotten, nor any person of common sense!
“To leave this crime against humanity unpunished does not seem to be possible at any levels of justice system of any state anywhere in the world!” declared members of the Expatriates’ Community. “Time does not heal such wounds, despite the efforts of those who are trying to efface them in the information industry!”
Vetrov emphasized that “Two-and-half years since that horrific day, when those punishers, thugs from Maidan and simply outright beasts carried out an act of violence on the peaceful and once smiling Odessa, we do not forget about our guys!”
Flowers also were laid at the Odessa stele [an inscribed stone slab], which is part of a memorial complex of Hero Cities and cities of military glory located in Moscow’s Alexander Garden.
On Nov. 3 in Berlin, at the walls of the US embassy, there was an action in commemoration of the victims of the Odessa tragedy. The organizers of the action placed placards with photos of the Odessans who tragically died on Kulikovo Field.
Eyewitnesses and activists threw light on the monstrous truth of what happened on that tragic day. They gave out flyers to passers-by reminding them about those terrible events. Berliners honored the memory of the victims with a minute of silence in front of a stand with photos of the victims.
There also was a commemorative action in Luhansk. Those present noted that two-and-half years ago the Ukrainian authorities organized a mass killing of Odessan residents. People were killed by nationalists, members of various ultra-right paramilitary formations. That day Odessa lost dozens of her best citizens, whose death became an irreparable loss for everyone.
Participants of the commemorative action in Luhansk placed flowers at the memorial “To victims of OUN-UPA” [Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists – Ukrainian Insurgent Army], since the murderers of the 48 Odessans are direct descendents of the latter.
We will never forget and never forgive! Murderers will pay for their deeds!
In all the cities where memorial actions in commemoration of the Odessa tragedy took place, people laid down flowers and lit icon lamps. And even though everywhere there are sympathizers as well as opponents of the mourners, nobody touched or destroy the mourning symbols.
Only in Odessa, right after the demonstration, in the presence of the all-too-familiar indifferent police, all the flowers and icon lamps were removed by representatives of a shameful community that calls itself “patriotic.”
Rightists disrupt movie showing in Odessa held in commemoration of 2014 massacre in Kulikovo Pole
ODESSA, Oct. 22, 2016 – Members of the Right Sector organization today interrupted a showing of the movie “Burning Hearts: Two years since,” dedicated to the tragic events of May 2, 2014.
According to an Infocenter reporter, relatives of the victims and activists of Kulikovo Pole were present when uninvited guests showed up, namely Odesan radicals, who started causing obstructions and engaging in verbal fights with those present.
The head of the Odesan cell of Right Sector, Sergey Sternenko, made a statement that the movie had been made by German journalists and was sponsored by a local communist party, for which the party which was receiving money from Moscow.
Based on this statement, the Right Sector members threatened to call the SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) to stop the showing of what they called an anti-Ukrainian propaganda movie.
For their safety, activists of the Kulikovo Pole and organizers of the movie showing called police. It was decided to cancel the event in order to prevent any provocations and arguments. Both activists of the Kulikovo Pole and the Right Sector radicals left the venue.
It should be remembered that earlier one of the members of the Azov organization broke an arm of an elderly woman who was participating in one of the weekly demonstrations in commemoration of Odesans burnt alive in the House of Trade Unions, as he was trying to take the flag of Odessa away from her. (See Alert of Oct. 9.)
Fascists attack mourners in Odessa
ODESSA, Oct.9, 2016 – The mass media has been receiving reports about multiple attacks on peaceful demonstrations organized by the Odessan people on a weekly basis in commemoration of those who died on May 2nd. Recently, these attacks have been carried out by certain individuals under the direction of the leader of the Odessa Right Sector, Sergey Sternenko.
A fight took place also on Sunday, Oct. 9. Many pro-government media outlets rushed to reassure the public that no one among the Odessans who gathered at the demonstration was injured, however this is not so.
During a fierce fight for the flag of Odessa, which aggressively minded “patriots” tried to take away for reasons that are still not clear, a 79-year-old resident of Odessa, V. I. Yacenko, was forcefully pushed aside and the elderly woman fell down. She started feeling sharp pain in her arm and had to go to the emergency room. An X-ray exam revealed a closed bone fracture with a displacement. The woman is facing a difficult treatment.
At the moment, a police report has been filed. The incident is under the control of the regional office in Odessa of the U.N. Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.
Media Release: June 10, 2016, from the Council of Mothers of May 2
Council of Mothers calls for release of Maxim Sakauov & all House of Trade Union detainees since May 2, 2014
On May 2, 2014, Maxim Sakauov was arrested in Odessa’s city center and is currently in custody in the Odessa Detention Center. Along with other several other Odessians, Mr. Sakauov, a Russian citizen, is accused of “organizing mass disorder, causing human casualties” during the terrible events of May 2 in Odessa in which 46 people were murdered by a fascist-led mob. Mr. Sakauov has lived in Odessa for several years. His family, including a young child, live here. This has been a difficult time for them, as Mr. Sakauov has been the family breadwinner, but has not been able to support his family while in custody.
Over the course of 25 months, the investigators have sought evidence of Mr. Sakauov’s guilt. In the end, no evidence was found of any involvement in the deaths of Odessians during the events of May 2. No evidence could be found because Maxim is an ordinary man who happens to be a Russian citizen and inadvertently stumbled into the midst of the events. Like all his fellow May 2 detainees, Maxim is not Russophobic, nor does he adhere to the ideas of Ukrainian nationalism. In the eyes of Ukrainian nationalists, this is inexcusable and they put unprecedented pressure on the judges in order to keep this innocent man behind bars.
Four weeks ago, desperate to get justice in court, Maxim Sakauov undertook a protest hunger strike. Today he is in critical condition. We risk losing a very young man who has been the object of continuous humiliation and hatred from people who have a savage ideology and sadistic instincts.
Meanwhile, the real killers from May 2nd, S. Hodiyak and V. Goncharevskiy, exposed by numerous testimonies and evidence, are free as if nothing had happened.
We urge all concerned people of the world to demand the immediate release of the Ukrainian Maxim Sakauov and all his associates, who are still in custody!