6 Ukrainian Soldiers WIA in 2 Days; Prosecutor Says SBU Did Not Turn Over Sheremet Video; SBU Denies

May 26, 2017
A man with a distinctive back pack found on several surveillance films of the area where journalist Pavel Sheremet was killed. Screen grab from Hromadske TV

Ukraine Day 1193: LIVE UPDATES BELOW. Six Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in the last two days on the front line.

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

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


6 Ukrainian Soldiers WIA in 2 Days; Prosecutor Says SBU Did Not Turn Over Sheremet Video; SBU Denies

Homes damaged in Avdeyevka. Photo by Interior Ministry. 

Two Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in battle, the ATO [Anti-Terrorist Operation] said in their morning dispatch, according to Liga.net. Then the ATO  said in their evening dispatch that during the day, 4 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action, Liga.net reported. Thus the total for the past 2 days is 6 soldiers wounded in action.

In the previous reporting period, there were 50 attacks on the front line in total. Of these, 27 were on the Maritime line, with 120-mm mortar attacks on Shirokino, Chermalyk and Vodyanoye. There were 120-mm artillery attacks on Shirokino and 82-mm mortars, grenade-launchers and small arms were used to attack Gnutovo, Lebedinskoye, Pavlopol, Novotroitskoye and Krasnogorovka.
On the Donetsk like, there were 17 attacks, with mortar-launchers, grenade-launchers and small arms fired near Avdeyevka, at Novogorodskoye, Verkhnyetoretskoye and Peski; 122-mm mortars were fired on Nevelskoye. Four homes were damaged in Avdeyevka.
On the Lugansk line, there were 6 attacks, including 82-mm mortars fired on Troitskoye and later attacks from a BTR, stationery automatic grenade-launchers and heavy machine guns near Novoaleksandrovka. 
The ATO reported in the evening that Russia-backed militants attacked 26 times, and used Grad missiles including against Avdeyevka (Avdiivka).
On the Maritime line, militants fired on Dokuchayevsk using 152-mm mortar-launchers; they fired on Novotroitskoye as well as Krasnogorovka with 120-mm mortars.
Small arms and grenade-launchers were also fired in the area of Krasnogorovka, Shirokino, Vodyanoye and Bogdanovka throughout the day.
On the Donetsk line, the most difficult situation was near Avdeyevka, where in addition to Grads fired, there was shelling from mortar-launchers, anti-aircraft systems, grenade-launchers and small arms.

On the Lugansk line, it was relatively quiet except for small arms fired in the vicinity of Nizhnyetyoploye.

Other News:

o Fresh Russia-Backed Troops Come to Shirokino; Chechens Leave

According to a TSN broadcast, new Russia-backed fighters have come to fill the ranks of the Russia-backed separats on the Maritime line, Liga.net reported.
Most of the attacks are on the Maritime line, and now new troops have come to separatist-held Sakhanka, Pikuzi [Kominternovo) and Oktyabr.
Ukrainian marines say Shirokino and environs are under fire constantly. “We can’t even raise our heads,” they say.
Meanwhile, Chechens who had been fighting in the area have left, they said.
o Law-Enforcers Round Up Cash and Gold in Anti-Corruption Raids
According to a statement on the Interior Ministry website, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov reported that 3.7 kg of gold, 50 kg of silver US $5.5 million, 3.8 million hryvnia, 280,000 euros, jewelry and other valuables were confiscated in wide-scale sweeps made by police economic crimes dpeartment and the military prosecutor’s office.
o Avakov Says Organized Group Was Involved in Sheremet Murder; Lutsenko Says SBU Did Not Turn Over Surveillance Video; Avakov, SBU Deny
In a statement on the Interior Ministry web site, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said an organized group was involved in the murder of journalist Pavel Sheremet.

Avakov also said reporters would get no more information from him because the investigation had to be kept ssecret.

Referencing a recent film about Sheremet’s murder made by investigative journalists, which law-enforcers say was wrong on the facts, Avakov said “And no matter how much journalist want to get additional facts to make the next movie, so to speak, that’s not their function. It’s a state function, after all, the function of the investigation. And that has to be understood.”

He claimed that 93% of murders are solved in Ukraine, and Sheremet’s assassination fell into the “difficult 7%”.
He also commented that the National Police had no criticism of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) regarding how they did their jobs. He said he would have more information for the parliament soon regarding a claim of mistakes made to the Ukrainska Rada by Prosecutor General Yury Lutsenko reported by UNN. 
According to UNN.com.ua, Lutsenko said yesterday May 24 that when the SBU removed 201 surveillance camera videos related to the area of the murder of Sheremet, the video from the most important camera was not removed, and very important information was not given to the investigation. He said the video became known thanks to the OCCRP journalists’ research, UNN reported.
Avakov said the video material would be restored and that it would not have influenced the course of the investigation.
Vasyl Hrytsak, head of the SBU told reporters he did not know what was referenced in Lutsenko’s comment, UNN reported. He said the SBU had confiscated four hard disks of videos which they had handed over to the National Police.
Regarding cooperation between police and the SBU, Avakov commented that the use of explosives is a terrorist attack, and it’s the SBU’s job to investigate it. But the prosecutor evaluated the case, in which there were complaints about the SBU itself following Sheremet before his death, and made the decision to turn the case over to the police to investigate. Even so, both the SBU and prosecutor’s office are taking part in the investigation, said Avakov. 

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

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