Ukraine Day 900: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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A video posted by Radio Svoboda, the Ukrainian Service of RFE/RL, shows that fighting has not let up near Maryinka. A Svoboda correspondent who was able to embed with the Donbass-Ukraina troops said Russian-backed militants continue to attempt to break through to this Ukrainian-controlled city near the strategic city of Mariupol.
Translation: Battles near Maryinka do not cease.
TV 112 UA published photos taken by the Ukrainian officers in the Joint Center for Coordination and Control (JCCC) who were inspecting houses in Zaytsevo and Maryinka after rounds of militants’ shelling.
A farm near Maryinka was attacked and buildings damaged, 112.ua reported yesterday.
According to the Ukrainian JCCC, the Russian-supplied forces were using 122-mm artillery, banned by the Minsk agreement, which landed on homes in Zaytsevo, and fired from anti-tank grenade launchers on Maryinka, hitting some homes. The firing came from the direction of Petrovsky District under separatist control.
The JCCC officers have submitted the evidence to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission.
They are hoping that the OSCE SMM will then confirm and report their firings. Some of SMM’s recent reporting confirms attacks by Russian-backed forces — including on the SMM itself.
In the report for August 4 (published August 5), SMM reported an increase in ceasefire violations.
While the SMM does not make a determination about which side is firing, in this report it appears to implicate Ukrainian forces by noting that the firing on separatist-held Zaytsevo came from the northwest
Then yesterday, in their report on August 3, SMM reported on craters in separatist-held Luganskoye, and even traveled a distance from the craters to a separatist checkpoint to find the grenade-launcher sites with shrapnel at these locations, evidently manned by the militants.
The SMM conducted crater analysis and followed up on reports of civilian and military casualties. At the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, approximately four metres south of the Ukrainian Armed Forces position closest to the bridge, the SMM observed a crater containing pieces of shrapnel which it assessed as caused by 82mm mortar rounds fired from an undetermined direction. Near the same location the SMM observed three fresh craters assessed as caused by grenade launcher (AGS-17) rounds fired from an undetermined direction. The SMM observed 25m south of the “LPR” forward position at the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, grenade launcher shrapnel lying on the ground. At the “LPR” checkpoint south of the bridge the SMM saw grenade launcher shrapnel lying on the ground approximately 15-20 metres north of the checkpoint. No craters were observed in either location.
On the previous day, August 2, the SMM reported firing right near its location:
At 20:34 on 2 August, the SMM, positioned in one forward patrol base in Kadiivka, heard three bursts of small-arms fire 50-100m north of its location. At 20:45, while positioned at another patrol base, the SMM heard 4-5 bursts from an automatic rifle fired in the air 10-15m away, just beyond the perimeter fence. In the darkness the SMM observed a person running from the area. The SMM informed the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) and armed “LPR” members controlling the area.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
Investigators from the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) turned up at the offices of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) today with demands to conduct a search.
NABU press secretary Darya Manzhura told Ukrainska Pravda that the investigators, led by Dmytro Sus, chief of criminal investigations at the PGO, sought information related to what they claimed were illegal wiretaps conducted by NABU personnel.
Interfax-Ukraine reports citing the NABU press office:
NABU agents presented PGO agents with documents proving the legality of NABU activities and explained that NABU was operating in accordance with the law and did not have the authority to tap phones independently and relied on Ukraine’s State Security Service (SBU) to carry this task out. Therefore, the facts serving as the basis for the court-ordered search of NABU, just as the information entered into the unified register of pretrial investigations, did not correspond to reality.
As of this afternoon, PGO investigators have not been allowed in and no searches have been conducted or documents seized.
NABU also says a special NABU police group was called into action during the attempt the conduct the search “with the aim to avoid possible provocations and to ensure order in the building.”
According to NABU, the wiretaps were related to an investigation into the theft of 300 million hryvnia-worth (over $12 million) of sugar from state warehouses. The chief suspect in the case is Oleksandr Kolesnyk, deputy prosecutor of the Kiev region.
As Ukrainska Pravda notes, Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, is due to review a bill that would grant NABU the power to conduct their own wiretaps.
Later this afternoon, MP Serhiy Leshchenko wrote on his Facebook page that sources in the Presidential Administration had showed him that his own mobile phone had been tapped and that his calls and text messages were being monitored.
“In particular,” he said, “my communications with Olena Prytula.” Prytula, a journalist, is the co-founder of Ukrainska Pravda. Last month, her partner, the Belarusian journalist Pavel Sheremet, was assassinated by car bomb.
Tapping an MP is illegal unless the Rada has voted to deprive them of immunity.
Leschenko contrasted the PGO’s response to the taps on MPs and journalists with those on their own staff:
“I’m looking forward to when [Prosecutor-General Yuriy] Lutsenko comes to the Bankova [Presidential Administration] with a search warrant.”
Meanwhile, in other NABU-related news, fugitive MP Oleksandr Onyshchenko has announced that he is prepared to speak to NABU investigators, but only if they come to London, where he is now seeking asylum.