Ukraine Day 995: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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Viktor Medvedchuk, one of Ukraine’s most controversial politicians, has won a court case against the Speaker of Ukraine’s parliament the Verkhovna Rada, Andriy Parubiy, who had accused him of financing separatist groups in eastern Ukraine.
The Percherskyi district court in Kiev ruled yesterday that Parubiy should withdraw the accusation against Medvedchuk, who leads the Ukrainian Choice movement.
Parubiy has been ordered to give a briefing to the Ukrinform news agency within the next 10 working days, during which he should report the court’s findings and refute his allegations.
In July 2014, while he was still Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, Parubiy told Ukrinform that Medvedchuk was a criminal who had been heavily involved in pro-Russian agitation and had financed extremist, separatist groups in the east.
Parubiy told Ukrainska Pravda that he will appeal the court’s decision and that he had provided evidence of Medvedchuk’s involvement in pro-Russian activities to the Prosecutor General’s office within the last few weeks.
Medvedchuk had, he said, arrived in Lugansk immediately after the capture of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) building in the city by Russian or Russian-backed paramilitaries, and that he had coordinated their activities. Parubiy claimed that he had received reports from these very militants of Medvedchuk’s involvement.
Parubiy added that he expected to win his appeal and that he had won several prior court cases brought by Medvedchuk regarding the allegations.
Medvedchuk has long been regarded by many in Ukraine as an operator for the Kremlin.
President Vladimir Putin is the godfather of Medvedchuk’s daughter, Darina, and the Ukrainian has made no effort to distance himself from the Kremlin despite the ongoing war.
In fact Medvedchuk ended up becoming a mediator in the tripartite contact group talks between Ukraine, the Russia-backed separatists and the OSCE.
Earlier this year, Medvedchuk played a leading role in negotiations to arrange Ukrainian military officer Nadiya Savchenko’s release from a Russian jail in exchange for two Russian spetsnaz fighters, Aleksandr Aleksandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev.
Medvedchuk took part in direct meetings with Putin and the wives of two Russian journalists Savchenko was falsely accused of killing.
In February this year, Ukrainska Pravda conducted an investigation into a fraudulent scheme involving Medvedchuk, that saw coal mined in occupied regions of the Donbass being imported to government-controlled territory while labeled as South African.
Nor is Parubiy the only person to accuse Medvedchuk of secretly financing extremist groups.
In 2004, Andriy Shkil, then leader of UNA-UNSO, a Ukrainian nationalist organization, claimed that Medvedchuk had staged an openly neo-Nazi demonstration by a breakaway faction of the UNA, led by Eduard Kovalenko, in support of Viktor Yushchenko, who was running for election against the Russian-backed Viktor Yanukovych.
Anton Shekhovtsov, an expert on the European far-right, wrote in 2014:
According to Andriy Shkil, then the leader of the UNA-UNSO, the whole event was staged by Viktor Medvedchuk*, then the Head of the Presidential Administration (under President Leonid Kuchma), who was later involved in the electoral fraud in favour of pro-Russian Yanukovych which triggered the “Orange revolution”. Medvedchuk was (and still is) also known for his close personal relations with Vladimir Putin who is the godfather of Medvedchuk’s daughter.
Kovalenko’s task was simple: by giving support to Yushchenko under the Nazi-like flags, he was expected to discredit the democratic candidate in the eyes of Western observers. Luckily for Yushchenko, however, the Western media largely did not buy into that frame-up and ignored it.
— Pierre Vaux
Four Ukrainian soldiers were wounded yesterday as Kiev reports 50 attacks in the Donbass.
Defense Ministry spokesman Colonel Oleksandr Motuzyanyk told reporters today that all of the casualties were caused by enemy fire.
According to this morning’s ATO Press Center report, the heaviest fighting was again seen in the south, near Mariupol.
The military claims that Russia-backed forces used 122-mm artillery to shell positions near Vodyanoye and Gnutovo, and 82- mm mortars and BMP infantry fighting vehicles near Shirokino and Talakovka.
Small-arms and grenade launcher attacks were also reported near Pavlopol and Bogdanovka, as well as Novomikhailovka and Novotroitskoye, which are near the Donetsk-Mariupol highway.
Further fighting was reported in this area this morning:
Dokuchaevsk is a separatist-held town just northeast of Novotroitskoye.
The separatist-backed head of the town’s administration, Aleksandr Kachanov, reported today that a civilian woman, born in 1949, had received shrapnel wounds as a result of Ukrainian shelling.
The Ukrainian military also reports mortar shelling to the west and north of Donetsk, in Krasnogorovka and Avdeyevka.
In addition, French freelance journalist Paul Gogo reported on Twitter that 122 mm artillery shells had fallen last night in government-controlled Maryinka, just south of Krasngorovka:
Translation: Breakfast on the hole-marked roof of our building. Below, at least 3 craters from yesterday evening, created by 122 mm shells.
Gogo reported further fighting in the area just this afternoon:
Translation: Streaks, sometimes red, sometimes white, cross the sky whistling. I’ve returned to the shelter.
In the Gorlovka area, Ukrainian positions in Zaytsevo and Luganskoye were shelled with mortars.
Meanwhile, in the Lugansk region, mortars were reportedly used against positions on the outskirts of Stanitsa Luganskaya and Krymskoye.
Grenade-launcher and machine-gun attacks were also reported near Novozvanovka, Balka Kosharnaya, Novoaleskandrovka and Novotoshkovskoye.
— Pierre Vaux