Donetsk Police Chief Says Blockade Lifted After Violent Clashes With Activists

February 7, 2017
Screenshot from YouTube video.

Ukraine Day 1086: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.

Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.


An Invasion By Any Other Name: The Kremlin’s Dirty War in Ukraine


1 Ukrainian Soldier Wounded, 1 Teenager Killed in Russia-Backed Shelling; Avdeyevka Struggles to Repair

One Ukrainian soldier was wounded today in battle in Verkhnyetoretskoye, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksandr Motuzyanik announced at his briefing today, Ukrainska Pravda reported.

A teenager was killed in shelling by Russia-backed forces in Kurdyumovka February 6, reported, citing  a report from Vyacheslav Abroskin, chief of the Donetsk Region police who are investigating the death as a “terrorist act.”

The boy, born 2001, suffered a shrapnel blow to the heart and died on the way to the hospital, parents told police. The police said as soon as they got the news of the boy’s wound, they issued a command for military doctors to travel to Kurdyumovka, 20 kilometers north of Toretsk, but it was not fast enough.

Ukrainian officers of the Joint Command and Control Center (JCCC) felt under shelling by Russia-backed militants in Lobachevo in Lugansk region, reported.

While the officers were photographing shell damage of civilian homes in Lobachevo, they were attacked, said the JCCC press center. No one was injured. The Ukrainian officers noted that they were in clearly-marked vehicles and were wearing the chevrons of the JCCC.

According to a report, about 120 Grad missiles fell in the last day at one ATO position. There was shelling on Sartana, Talakovka and Lebedinskoye on the Mariupol line today, the Ukrainian military reported.

According to the report of one Ukrainian soldier near the village of Oktyabr, who counted about 40 missiles right near his position:

“Nothing has ceased, there is no quiet period, and now it has stepped up and they’ve begun to lob salvos. In the evening, later there was a break. In the morning, they began pounding with SAUs [self-propelled artillery].

The people of Avdeyevka are picking up the pieces after a week of shelling, with quiet today, Ukrainska Pravda reported.

Pavel Zhebrivsky, head of the military civilian administration of Donetsk Region said in a post on Facebook:

“Last night in Avdeyeva passed relatively quietly. There was scattered shelling of the industrial zone and environs and the positions of our armed forces.”

He said 7 repair groups had managed to fix 44 damaged areas of private homes and utilities, out of 198 damaged areas in the city in the past week. He noted Avdeyevka had about 600 damaged buildings since the onset of war.

Social media reports indicate ongoing shelling from Russia-backed forces near Donetsk:

Translation:  #Makeyevka Vostochny 16:00. It’s starting. Loud, scattered outgoing. Toward the west.
Translation: #Makeyevka  
Translation: @UA_Donetsk_UA #Makeyevka (near the railroad) it’s hopping.
Translation: Today during the day you could hear several powerful impacts. #Lisichansk

Translation: #Avdeyevka Incoming not far from the city.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick 

Donetsk Police Chief Says Blockade Lifted After Violent Clashes With Activists

The head of the National Police in the Donetsk region, Vyacheslav Abroskin, has announced that road and rail movements have been restored in areas of the Donbass affected by activist-led blockades over the last week.

Last night saw armed police, led by Abroskin, clash with activists, many of them volunteer fighters, near Chasov Yar on the highway between Bakhmut (formerly Artyomovsk) and Konstantinovka.

The activists, including Semyon Semyonchenko, an MP with the Samopomich party and former commander of the Donbass volunteer battalion, accused the police of trying to allow a bus full of titushki – a Ukrainian term for hired thugs used to attack protesters and stage provocations during the Maidan revolution, to pass through the blockade and disperse the demonstrators. 

Activists claimed some of the vehicles contained weapons which were to be used by the alleged titushki.

They released video footage of passengers on the bus, seemingly all men, shielding their faces from the camera.

The video then shows police beating activists with batons and using tear gas as the buses move forwards. One bus is struck by a rock. Several activists required medical treatment.

But Abroskin posted video on his own Facebook page showing passengers of mixed gender and age on two other buses held up on the highway, who said they were local residents.

Later in the evening, Abroskin was slapped across the face by a Cossack activist.

Abroskin claimed that the man had accused him of having a weapon and so he had offered his cheek.

Meanwhile one of the activists, a former fighter going by the call-sign of Frantsuz (Frenchman), told Mariupol news site that the 65-year-old Cossack had earlier been beaten by police, and had accepted Abroskin’s invitation to hit him. Abroskin had, he said, been personally threatening activists with violence.

According to Frantsuz, the activists had not used violence but had only “emotionally asked the bus drivers to turn back.” The activist agreed that several of the buses were carrying local civilians, he insisted that all-male passengers on the bus in the first video were hired thugs.

As reports, the blockades began on January 25, when Semyonchenko and fellow Samopomich MP Pavlo Kostenko joined activists at Svetlano-Shipilovo station in the Lugansk region and announced a blockade on trade with the occupied territories, blocking the tracks.

The activists have said that they are prepared to allow shipments of coal through the blockade if customs inspections on the wagons are reinforced.

It is worth noting that there is evidence that the train routes across the frontier in the Lugansk region have indeed been used for smuggling, as I reported in December last year: 

Further actions took place on railway lines in the Donetsk region on February 2 and the road blockade at Chasov Yar was set up on February 6.

The blockades have been condemned by the head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), Vasyl Hrytsak, and Georgiy Tuka, deputy minister for issues related to the occupied territories and former governor of the Lugansk region.

Abroskin said this afternoon that coal shipments had resumed in the Donetsk region and that the blockades risked destabilizing relations with residents of the front line at a time of heightened tensions.

Asked whether the police had used excessive force yesterday, Abroskin said that the Donetsk Prosecutor’s Office would review evidence on the matter.

— Pierre Vaux