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Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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Eskender Bariiev, coordinator of the Committee for Defense of the Rights of the Crimean Tatar People, reports that the building housing the Simferopol regional Mejlis (Crimean Tatar assembly) was attacked yesterday.
Bariiev wrote on his Facebook page that unknown individuals had smashed the windows of the building in the capital of the Ukrainian region, which has been under Russian occupation since the end of February 2014.
Meanwhile the local branch of the Communist Party complained the same day that a plaque of Stalin, mounted on the wall of their committee building in Simferopol in May last year, had been defaced.
Someone had spray-painted the word “палач” – “executioner” on the wall beside the stela:
During the Second World War, Stalin ordered the deportation of the entire Crimean Tatar population from the peninsula. Perhaps more than 100,000 died of disease and starvation as they were deported to Central Asia and the right of return was not restored until the final days of the Soviet Union, by which time lands had been seized by the government and reassigned.
— Pierre Vaux
TSN reports that the health of Nadiya Savchenko, now on the fourth day of a dry hunger strike — accepting no food or water — is deteriorating.
Ukrainian consuls Anatoly Moskalenko and Aleksandr Kovtun visited Savchenko, who was captured by militants near Lugansk in June, 2014, and subsequently illegally transported to Russia and put on trial, in a pre-trial detention facility in Russia’s Rostov region.
According to the consuls, Savchenko has rapid heart palpitations (tachycardia) and cold hands, but is conscious and responsive.
She still intends to address the court in the border town of Donetsk on March 9, when her trial resumes.
Savchenko declared her dry hunger strike after she was cut short by judges while making her final speech to the court on Friday.
One of her lawyers, Nikolai Polozov, wrote on his Facebook page today that the Russian authorities are delaying granting a Ukrainian medical commission access to Savchenko, who has refused any examination or treatment by Russian jail officers or doctors.
— Pierre Vaux
The Ukrainian military claims that Russian-backed fighters fired more than 80 shells in the Avdeyevka area, north of Donetsk, within the last 24 hours.
According to this morning’s ATO Press Centre report, seven mortar barrages were aimed at Ukrainian positions near Avdeyevka between 18:00 and midnight.
According to Vyacheslav Abroskin, chief of police in the Donetsk region, shells struck homes in the southeast of the town last night.
Abroskin wrote on his Facebook page today that two homes on Lermontov street were damaged by fire from infantry fighting vehicles. Fortunately, the two retired women living in the houses were not wounded as a result.
At the end of last month, the Ukrainian military claimed to have re-established control over an industrial park in the “grey” buffer zone on the southeastern edge of the town.
This was confirmed yesterday by a Facebook post by Maksim Shishov, a mortar gunner on the Russian-backed side.
According to Shishov, Ukrainian forces, who were previously two kilometres away, are now deployed no more than 500 metres from a separatist-controlled checkpoint on the highway near Yasninovataya.
This afternoon, there are reports on social media of further fighting in this area:
Donetsk Self-Defence: Spartak area: fighting with 82 mm mortars in use
Artyom Baranchuk: Yasinovatya block post – Avdeyevka, fighting under way, increasingly
Translation: Uh oh, what was that? Haven’t heard sounds like that for a long time…
Translation: They write: “AGS [automatic grenade launcher] operating from the direction of Yasinovataya. They overshot. All exploded higher than the 9-storey blocks.”
To the west of Avdeyevka, the Ukrainian military reported that positions near Opytnoye and Peski had been shelled with mortars yesterday.
Grenade launchers and heavy machine guns were also used in attacks on Peski and Nevelskoye, further to the northwest. while Ukrainian troops in Marinka, southwest of Donetsk city, were attacked with small arms.
In the Gorlovka area, the ATO Press Centre reported grenade launcher and machine gun attacks on Ukrainian positions near Novgorodskoye, Mayorsk and Zaytsevo.
To the east, the military reports mortar fire on positions near Luganskoye, on the highway between Bakhmut (formerly Artyomovsk) and Debaltsevo, as well as machine gun and grenade launcher fire near Troitskoye.
In the south of the Donetsk region, Russian-backed fighters reportedly attacked positions near Granitnoye, east of Volnovakha, with machine guns, while Ukrainian troops in Shirokino, on the coast, were attacked with small arms.
Meanwhile the ‘defence ministry’ of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) claims that Ukrainian forces opened fire 176 times over the last 24 hours, firing 55 shells from 82 and 120 mm mortars.
According to the DNR, the Ukrainian armed forces attacked the outskirts of both Donetsk and Gorlovka, as well as the villages of Kominternovo and Sakhanka, near the coast.
— Pierre Vaux