Ukraine Day 889: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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The Ukrainian military reports that three servicemen were killed and another three wounded in the Donbass yesterday.
Colonel Andriy Lysenko, military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, told reporters that two Ukrainian soldiers were killed in Avdeyevka, where one was wounded; while the other was killed and one wounded in Nevelskoye. Another soldier was wounded in Starognatovka.
Outside the conflict zone, one Ukrainian soldier was killed and eight wounded when a 120 mm mortar round exploded this morning at a training area in the Nikolaev region.
According to this morning’s ATO Press Center report, Russian-backed forces conducted 58 attacks yesterday.
Particularly heavy shelling was reported in the south, near Mariupol.
Military press officer Vitaliy Kirillov told 0629.com.ua that for around ten minutes last night, Russian-backed forces conducted simultaneous barrages across the whole front line in the Mariupol area.
According to Kirillov, Russian-backed fighters used mortars, infantry fighting vehicle cannons and recoilless rifles in attacks near Talakovka, Gnutovo, Vodyanoye and Shirokino.
The shelling was so intense that another local news site, Mariupol.tv, reported that residents across the city could hear the sounds of the barrage.
Some residents reported that they heard the sound of Grad rockets, but Kirillov claimed that this was in fact the sound of several different types of weapons being used at once. Colonel Lysenko said that the General Staff had received no reports of Grad use last night.
Another seven attacks were reported after midnight, with mortars again used near Talakovka and Vodyanoye.
The self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) reported that two civilians were wounded by Ukrainian fire in separatist-held Kominternovo, east of Mariupol.
Meanwhile Kirillov claimed that the village had in fact been shelled by Russian-backed fighters at the same time as the massed barrage on Ukrainian-positions, so as to discredit the Ukrainian armed forces.
Further northeast of Mariupol, the ATO Press Center reported that positions near Novogrigoryevka were shelled with 122 mm artillery, while both 120 and 82 mm mortars were used against Starognatovka, where Colonel Lysenko reported one wounded.
To the north of Donetsk, where all the rest of Ukraine’s casualties yesterday were suffered, the ATO Press Center reports that mortars were used to shell positions near Novoselovka Vtoraya, Opytnoye, Nevelskoye, the Butovka mine and Avdeyevka, where a skirmish reportedly took place between Ukrainian and Russian-backed fighters.
It was in Avdeyevka that the Donetsk Regional Administration reports a civilian man was wounded by a shell blast over the weekend.
Meanwhile only two attacks were reported yesterday in the Lugansk region. According to Serhiy Berets, a military press officer, Ukrainian positions near Orekhovo and Zolotoye were attacked with grenade launchers and small arms.
The DNR, which accused Ukrainian forces of firing on separatist-held territory 570 times over 24 hours, reported today that three of their fighters had been wounded by Ukrainian fire within the last 24 hours.
— Pierre Vaux
“Earlier the media reported that Sheremet and his common-law wife Olena Prytula knew that external surveillance was maintained on him by the Interior Ministry, and for that reason refused to take security.”
“This information does not correspond with reality,” said the ministry, denying there was any kind of internal investigation.
Supposedly Dekanoidze was followed when she went to meet a US citizen.
“A geopolitical hypothesis is being reviewed, where the ‘Russian trail’ is indicated. A certain number of questions are connected precisely with this; why did Channel 17 in fact arrive first at the scene of the crime. Were they warned, did they know about what was to happen. Of course this cannot be left without the attention of investigators.”
All of the Ukrainian media who have published this story have run a still only, with the face blacked out of the man in Channel 17’s video who was claimed to be an Azov fighter.
At 1:11, he turns to face the camera of the person filming the scene. So if he or a second man (not indicated) are involved in the murder, it’s not clear why they would remain on the scene and allowed themselves to be filmed.
I can imagine how difficult this decision [to cooperate with the SBU] was for Biletsky; after all, it went against the existing trend, when a man in camouflage, especially from the ATO zone, is always right and afraid of nothing.
And this example illustrates that when rational people from different forces — the SBU and Azov — find a common language, no terrible stupidities will happen.
Of course, Andriy Biletsky must continue to be watched carefully. He has progressed very far in the last two years and his maturing, but his radical and Nazi youth still sometimes lets itself be known. But you and I can distinguish between a responsible patriot who is mistaken and a crook and an opportunist.And it is to such volunteers as Azov’s Biletsky or the peace-keeper Teteruk we must orient, and not to those strange people in camouflage which right now are blocking the work of the anti-corruption prosecutors outside Solomen District Court in Kiev.
Azov itself posted a statement on their web site the same day as the murder in which they praised Sheremet as the only journalist who would “break the information blockade about them”:
Under the conditions of the information blockade on our movement, Pavel was not afraid to write about us — thanks to him the web publication Ukrainska Pravda began a series of reports on the Evgen Konovalets sergeants’ school, and this morning Pavel Sheremet was to cover an action by Azov in support of the coal miners.We have lost one of our few friends in Ukrainian journalism. Against the backdrop of the grey mass of controlled media, Pavel Sheremet was a real man who did not fear the truth, no matter how inconvenient it was.
Thus a possible explanation for the presence of the National Police and specifically someone from Azov might be related to those plans.
Sheremet left his house on the morning of July 20 and the bomb detonated around 7:45 am. The radio program ran daily from 8:00-11:00 am. His last program on July 19 was about the designers of the new Ukrainian army uniform.
The Azov march with the coal miners to protest electric bill increases began around 9:00 am Kiev time, according to Azov’s group on VKontakte, a popular Russian social network also used by Ukrainians. Azov also published Sheremet’s last post about them on their web site and in the VKontakte group.
According to RIA Novosti, Azov’s demonstration only lasted about an hour.
So it’s not clear how Sheremet could have gone to the march and made it to the station in time, unless the show, or parts of it, were taped. Alternatively he may have intended to mention it in passing.
This aspect of Sheremet’s plans on the day of his murder has not been covered by most Ukrainian media, and only mentioned by the pro-Russian news service strana.ua and picked up on some social media.
Translation: an explosion occurred in the car in which the journalist Sheremet was traveling to cover the action of the Azov battalion. As a result of the traumas sustained, he died.
Biletsky spoke at Sheremet’s funeral in Minsk, and thanked him for his coverage, saying he covered the Azov battalion not out of friendship but from professionalism, LifeNews reported.
Roman Govda, head of the prosecutor’s office, is assisting the Kiev police who are investigating Shermet’s murder. Yuriy Lutsenko, prosecutor general of Ukraine, has said that the main hypothesis for the murder of Sheremet was revenge for his journalism, 112.ua reported. The FBI has been brought in to assess the explosives and car.
Ukrainska Pravda reports today that Khatia Dekanoidze, the head of the National Police, has told reporters that Troyan, who is currently on leave, will answer questions on his matter when he returns.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick