Ukraine Day 884: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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The Ukrainian military claims that Russian-backed forces conducted 54 attacks yesterday most of them near Donetsk and Mariupol.
One civilian, a 19-year-old male, was killed yesterday afternoon in Avdeyevka. According to the Donetsk regional police, a bullet struck him in the head outside his home near the Avdeyevka industrial park – one of the most fierce areas of the front line.
Another civilian, a man born in 1960, died in government-controlled Nizhnetyoploye, near Stanitsa Luganskaya, after attempting to saw through an unexploded piece of ordnance.
While Colonel Andriy Lysenko, military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, announced today that no Ukrainian servicemen had been killed or wounded within the last 24 hours, the Lugansk Regional Administration reported that one solder had suffered “light shrapnel wounds” yesterday after Russian-backed fighters shelled a checkpoint outside Stanitsa Luganskaya with 82 mm mortars.
According to this morning’s ATO Press Center report, Russian-backed fighters fired 12 rounds from 122 mm artillery, in addition to 82 mm mortars, grenade launchers and machine guns, at Ukrainian positions in Shirokino yesterday.
Positions in nearby Vodyanoye, Gnutovo and Talakovka were attacked with mortars.
Further to the north, Ukrainian troops were attacked near Novogrigoryevka, Starognatovka and Slavnoye with various lighter weapons.
In the Donetsk area, Russian-backed forces shelled Krasnogorovka, Avdeyevka, Opytnoye and the Butovka mine with mortars.
The Donetsk police report that four residential buildings in Avdeyevka were damaged by shelling.
Mortar attacks were also reported in Zaytsevo and Mayorsk, north of Gorlovka.
In the Lugansk region, the ATO Press Center, in addition to the previously mentioned attacks near Stanitsa Luganskaya, anti-aircraft-gun fire near Novozvanovka, and attacks by infantry fighting vehicles near Novoaleksandrovka.
Meanwhile the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) accused Ukrainian forces of opening fire 709 times over 24 hours, using heavy artillery and mortars.
According to the DNR, at least 26 homes, located on the outskirts of Donetsk and Gorlovka, were damaged by Ukrainian shelling last night.
— Pierre Vaux
Interfax-Ukraine reports that Maria Rydvan, a journalist with the Ukrainian version of Forbes has said that she was attacked with a knife last night in Kiev:
She wrote on her Facebook page that she was stabbed three times in the park, after which she received medical care in an emergency hospital. “In park for no apparent reason a man ran to me and stabbed me three times… It’s all very strange,” Rydvan wrote on Tuesday.
According to her, she was seriously wounded in the arm, “the cheek was only scratched.” “It is not clear how much time it will take the arm to heal,” Rydvan wrote.
The National Police branch in Kyiv told Interfax-Ukraine that this information is being verified.
The police communications department in Kyiv said they had received information about the incident from the doctors, according to which on Tuesday a 25-year-old woman sought medical treatment for cut wounds of the left arm and shoulder, and said she works as an editor in a publication. In her words, the incident took place on Peremohy Avenue in Solomiansky district in Kyiv.
“At the moment, the young woman is in Solomiansky district police department, where she is giving a statement about the attack. The investigation department has launched criminal proceedings into the incident under part 1 of Article 125 (intentional infliction of slight bodily injury) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. The police are establishing all the circumstances of the incident and taking steps to identify the offender,” the statement reads.
Video footage has emerged of the immediate aftermath of the blast that killed Pavel Sheremet this morning.
Ukrainian volunteer fighter and journalist Miroslav Gai wrote on Facebook that he was shocked by the response of the crowd, with dozens of people simply standing and filming the scene on their phones while one man tried to haul Sheremet out of the car.
Another tried to douse the car with water to prevent it catching fire – unsuccessfully, while several others soon helped steady it as it began to roll.
Gai also criticized the police response:
“Moreover the police behaved anti-professionally, and at the moment that they needed to act cohesively and instantaneously to stop the car from burning, they simply watched aimlessly, obviously lacking any concrete instructions or protocols for such incidents.”
Notably, the police did not appear to hurry to cordon off the area around the burning car, with some traffic still moving by and pedestrians milling nearby.
The fire brigade did not arrive until at least seven minutes after the blast, by which time the car was engulfed in flames, potentially damaging important evidence at the crime scene.
— Pierre Vaux
Khatia Dekanoidze, head of Ukraine’s National Police force, has announced that task force is being established by the police and the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), with assistance from the American FBI, to investigate the assassination of journalist Pavel Sheremet in Kiev this morning.
Dekanoidze told reporters:
“The SBU is working under their own direction, but the group, which will be staffed by the best of our operatives, not just with the National Police, will be coordinated personally by myself and the top officials of the law enforcement system.
I hope that tomorrow or the day after our foreign colleagues will arrive and help us with the investigation.”
CCTV footage of the blast that killed Sheremet has been published by Ukraine’s Obozrevatel:
Nadezhda Maksimets, press secretary for the Kiev prosecutor’s office, told the 112 television channel that among the possible explanations for the killing was an attempt on the life of his partner, Ukrainska Pravda editor Olena Prytula, in whose car he was killed.
Investigators are working at Sheremet and Prytula’s home in Kiev, where the car was parked overnight.
According to the Interior Ministry, the explosive device that detonated 500-600 meters from his home while Sheremet was driving to record his radio show was placed “very close to the driver’s seat.”
President Petro Poroshenko has ordered that Prytula be placed under to the protection of the security services.
Meanwhile Interfax-Ukraine reports that Zoryan Shkiryak, an adviser to the interior minister, has said that the main scenario being considered is that Sheremet’s murder was ordered in relation to his journalism. He echoed his colleague Anton Herashchenko in saying that investigators were not excluding the possibility of Russian involvement.
Ukraine’s ecology minister, Ostap Semerak, posted a photo on Facebook of Sheremet with the Russian opposition leader and former deputy prime minister, Boris Nemtsov, who was murdered in Moscow last year.
Boris introduced me to Pavel.
They have both been killed. R. I. P.
The last time I saw Boris with Pavel. We met in Kiev and spent a long time discussing Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. They condemned the actions of the Kremlin.
They were cowardly killed with a shot to the back and car bomb.
I miss, I respect and I commiserate.
— Pierre Vaux
Friends told Novaya Gazeta that Pavel, 44, and his common-law-wife Olena Prytula, editor of Ukraynska Pravda, complained that they were being tailed. Prytula was not in the car when the explosive device went off.
LifeNews published an amateur video of the aftermath of the explosion.
According to Ukraynska Pravda, at 7:45 Kiev time, Sheremet left for work to host a radio program, Vesti. He drove several dozen meters before the explosive, placed underneath his car, went off, at the corners of Bohdan Khmelnytsky and Ivan Franko streets.
The Ukrainian Interior Ministry announced that it had begun an investigation of the murder.
LifeNews quoted a Ministry official as saying that an IED may have been set off by remote control.
There have been no details about possible assailants or stories Sheremet was working on at the time of his death, but the radio show planned for today was about a new uniform in the Ukrainian army.
His last tweet 12 hours ago was about receiving a jar of honey from past Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko.
Translation: a little jar of honey from the former president.
On Instagram, Sheremet joked that Yushchenko may have been offended at a video published by his press secretary which Sheremet re-posted on YouTube, receiving many views, which showed Yushchenko sweeping a carpet and complaining about the “damn moths”. Yushchenko is known for his bee-keeping. Sheremet’s Facebook post about the video was positive.
Perebeshchik, a web site known for publishing political scandals and rumors, said police were investigating whether the jar had anything to do with Pavel’s death and described his work as “anti-Russian.”
The show that he hosted yesterday was about a new uniform for the Ukrainian army.
Translation: Designers Aleksei and Tatyana Sopiny, authors of a new uniform for the Ukrainian army, on the morning broadcast at Radio Vesti.
A soldier wrote to him yesterday:
Translation: @pavelsheremet Avdeyevka at the front heard Pavel Sheremet on Voice of Donbass with the support of Horadske Radio 95.7. Reception was good, solid.
A number of bombs have been set off in various Ukrainian cities in the last year since Russia launched its war on Ukraine, often targeting those who are perceived as supporting the Ukrainian army, such as volunteer groups.
No one has come up with an explanation for the targeting of Sheremet, who has lived in Kiev for the last 5 years, although hypotheses about the perpetrator range from Russian intelligence to ultrarightists or oligarchs in Ukraine.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
According to local reports, Sheremet was riding in the car of his common-law wife Olena Prytula, head of Ukrayinska Pravda.
No detail is available about the assailants. Ukraine has been involved in primary elections this week.
Anton Gerashchenko, a member of parliament and advisor to the Interior Ministry, posted on his Facebook that an IED was used (translation by The Interpreter):
Pavel Sheremet died as a result of an explosion of an explosive device placed underneath the automobile.
Most likely it was remote-controlled.
This is a cynical and well-planned murder.
The investigation will review all possible hypotheses of the murder of Pavel Sheremet.
Above all, those connected with his journalist activity.
The Russian trail is not excluded.
I extend my condolences to relatives and friends of Pavel Sheremet.
Murderers must be found and punished.
PS I ask you not to put likes under this post.
Sheremet, originally born in Belarus, was imprisoned for a time by Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka for his critical reporting.
In the 1990s, Sheremet worked for then-independent Russian TV channel ORT, and was arrested in 1997 while covering a story on smuggling at the Belarusian-Lithuanian border. After an international outcry, he was released from prison
He was eventually forced to flee Minsk and settle in Russia.
There he worked for many years in TV journalism and was awarded the International Press Freedom Award of the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists. Then he was forced to flee again to Ukraine, where he worked for Ukrainska Pravda and hosted a radio program, Vesti.
Kyiv Post reported that he was on his way to the show when he was killed.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick