Ukraine Live Day 294: Fighting Continues On Eve Of ‘Day Of Silence’

December 8, 2014
A Ukrainian KrAZ Cougar armoured vehicle after surviving an ambush. Photo via @forest_brother

Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here. An archive of our liveblogs can be found here. For an overview and analysis of this developing story see our latest podcast.
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Hackers Dump Thousands of Rostov Police Documents on Internet; Evidence of Soldiers Wounded in Ukraine

InformNapalm, a website that has published exposes of Russian troops and armor in Ukraine, has recently leaked thousands of documents it claims came from the Russian Interior Ministry’s branch in Rostov, near the Ukrainian border.

In an article titled “Ukrainian Cybertroops Dump Mass of Data from Servers of Russian Interior Ministry; Compromising Materials Found!,” reports that Eugene Dokunin, a Ukrainian computer programmer, is coordinating a team of volunteers to publicize and analyze the documents.

The archive has been posted on a Google Drive and contains 69 folders of 1.78 GB of files.

We have found some indication that the documents may be authentic, but more analysis is needed. The documents consist of a huge volume of reports, and minute detail on police operations using the kind of language and acronyms known to be used by Russian police, possibly indicating that these were leaked from the Rostov Interior Ministry.

To verify the materials, documents will have to be linked to other verified news reports and documents.

We found one such document in the archives, a report called “Manhunt,” which describes a joint operation between the police and Federal Security Service (FSB) to look for people already on existing “wanted” lists. The report describes the capture of  Mikhail Shvindyakov, accused of robbery and larceny, whom we also discovered on the “wanted” list published on the web site of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry. The same birth date and offenses were listed, but the cities of residency differed.

More such matches are needed to assess the legitimacy of the trove. Russian journalists and NGOs who are experts on police have yet to comment (we have sent out some queries and are awaiting responses.)

Ukrainian activists are digging through the trove and say they have found some materials that confirm the participation of Russian soldiers and law-enforcers in the war in eastern Ukraine. They say they found one document dated August 25, 2014, which appears to be a police report about four Russian soldiers, serving in Millerovo, who said they were wounded by National Guard fighters 10 kilometers to the northwest of the village of Prognoy of Tarasov District. As InformNapalm  illustrates, that would put it inside Ukrainian territory:


This document is posted to Informnapalmorg’s site here. We were also able to find it in the archive here, in the folder labelled “Millerovo,” a Russian town near the Ukrainian border.


Another document posted here contains information about 237 wounded persons from the region of Ukraine as of September 27. They were said to include two wounded soldiers accompanied by FSB guards. UPDATE: The blogger @AricToler was able to find the document here on Google Drive. He was also able to match the information about soldiers from unit 51182 wounded on August 25 to a November 5 blog post on the web site gruz200, named after the Russian expression that means soldiers killed in combat.

Some Twitter bloggers have posted some examples of these documents, but they haven’t posted links back to the archive itself, so we can’t verify the claims yet.

The files contain a huge grab-bag of materials — e.g. a robbery of a jewelry store, theft of icons of a Russian Orthodox Church, 26 persons stopped for various traffic violations — including 8 Romas from Ukraine without identification papers.

So they will have to be sifted through to find anything that is relevant to the war in Ukraine or other important topics.

For example, one police report is dated October 25, 2014, on “Administrative Practice in the Area of Ensuring Public Safety”. After scrolling through reports of arrests for “petty hooliganism” and “drinking alcohol in a public place,” we noticed the arrest of 5 administrative violators for “propaganda and public demonstration of Nazi insignia or symbols or public demonstration of insignia or symbols of extremist organizations” in Rostov, Volgodonskoye, Bataisk and Belokalitvensky District.

So the “Nazism” isn’t only “in Ukraine” as Russian propaganda claims, but right in Russia.

A document signed by M.B. Doda and addressed to Yu.I. Kravchenko, a police colonel who is head of the Interior Ministry branch in Rostov, contains a blank form labelled “form for reporting on citizens of Ukraine who come into treatment facilities on the territory of Police Dept. No. 2 in Rostov.” That could mean wounded soldiers — or wounded civilians, we don’t know.

Another document dated “June 2014,” but with the day left out, is a report on “eliminating violations of federal law” by policemen themselves. Evidently the police were “ineffective” in their work in “stopping illegal migration” in the region. What this meant is that police had failed to properly inspect and register foreign immigrants — likely from Ukraine. Russia doesn’t seem to discourage immigrants from Ukraine so far and claims to be taking care of them, but they do apparently want to document them thoroughly and weed out those suspected of crimes.

Another document dated September 11, 2014 is “Order No. 1362” from the main directorate of the Rostov Interior Ministry office, signed by Maj. Gen. A.P. Larionov and speaks of the need to combat unlawful transport of firearms, ammunition, explosives, and drugs from Ukraine across the Russian border and outlines a number of measures to better tighten up and coordinate the work. Are authorities worrying about the war in Ukraine blowing back home?

Here’s a document of arrests made by traffic police of truck drivers without their papers in order or illegal freight – drugs, alcohol, meat, nuts, metal, arms, ammunition, stolen property. Where are the arms and ammunition going to? And given how often we see Russian convoys roll into Ukraine without being stopped, why are some trucks stopped by traffic police?

In other words, the documents make clear what a strain the war in Ukraine — instigated by the Kremlin in Moscow — has put on the regional police authorities who must now cope with hundreds of thousands of refugees pouring across the border, and thousands of Russian-backed militants from the Donbass who come into Russia for training, supply and R&R.

We’ll continue to look through these folders and report on any interesting findings.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

US Ambassador To Ukraine — “Greatest Single Risk Factor Facing Ukraine Today is Business As Usual

The US Ambassador to Kiev, Geoffrey Pyatt, stressed today the need for Ukraine to reform, and to avoid the trap of fighting Russian disinformation with opposing propaganda. RFE/RL reports:

“I think it’s important not to go down the rabbit hole, not to fall into the trap of trying to meet Russia on their ground in terms of misrepresentation or propaganda. But the best answer to that propaganda is the truth: a consistent presentation of Ukrainian government reality and Ukrainian government intentions, including Ukrainian government intentions regarding Eastern Ukraine and the imperative of national unity.”

“The greatest single risk factor facing Ukraine today is business as usual. And the good news is that both the president, President [Petro] Poroshenko, and Prime Minister [Arseniy] Yatsenyuk are fully aware of that imperative.”

Heavy Shelling In Donetsk One Day Before Another Supposed ‘Ceasefire’
Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council gives their morning briefing:

As we reported earlier in greater detail, the NSDC also reports that at least 10 civilians and one soldier were killed in fighting in Donetsk.

The shelling is continuing in Donetsk, one day before Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says a ceasefire will go into effect which was agreed upon between the Russian representatives of the Russian-backed militants and the Ukrainian government. But just like last week, there appears to be a steady ramp-up of violence:

Ukraine Imports Russian Coal And Electricity

Ukraine is facing electricity shortages as coal power stations have been deprived of much of their fuel from occupied regions of the Donbass. 

Despite the conflict, Russia is an important source for coal to make up for the shortfall. For two weeks however, Russian Railways suspended deliveries of coal to Ukraine. Those deliveries have now resumed, reports Interfax-Ukraine.

According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy and the Coal Industry, 50,000 tonnes of coal are en-route from Russia to supply Ukrainian heating and power plants.

Russian Railways have given no official explanation as to why deliveries were suspended.

In September, Ukraine signed an agreement to buy 1 million tonnes of South African coal

The deal was heavily criticised and Ukraine’s prosecutor-general, Vitaly Yarema, opened an embezzlement case. Steel Mont, who were to deliver the coal, cancelled their contract on November 12, having arranged the delivery of only 494,000 tonnes. The London-based company said that they did not “want to be dragged into a political dispute.”

On Friday, Yarema announced that the South African coal was of poor quality and did not burn in Ukrainian power plants and that the director of Ukrinterenergo, the state company responsible for the deal, was to charged with embezzlement.

UNIAN reports:

“Yesterday an order was issued for the director of Ukrinterenergo Volodymyr Zinevych to be brought before the courts. Today he is in hospital,” Yarema said.

It is very common for Ukrainian officials who are charged with corruption to suddenly be taken ill.

Yarema said that the task of the Cabinet of Ministers is to provide the country with the high-quality coal.

“The coal that was imported from South Africa does not burn in our power plants. It is a crime and it must be punished. This person is charged with doing deliberate harm to our economy by spending UAH 384 million on importing coal not suitable for our TPPs,” Yarema said.

He said the directors of Ukrinterenergo and Centrenergo were suspects in the case. The losses that the state has incurred as a result of the coal import contract are being estimated, he said.

According to Yarema, the Prosecutor General’s Office possess evidence that the coal from South Africa is of low quality and does not comply with the standards used by the Zmievska, Tripolska and Starobeshevo TPPs, which are operated by Centrenergo.

“In addition, we found a number of abuses by Centrenergo regarding inventory purchases. These are fake companies that have carried out procurement and embezzled money. This happened a few months ago.”

Reuters reports that, having had a power shortfall of more than 10 percent last week, Ukrinterenergo has been permitted by the government to import electricity itself from Russia.

— Pierre Vaux

Fighting Near Mariupol

UNIAN reports that Andrei Lysenko, the spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council has told reporters at a briefing in Kiev today that “a battle is under way just outside the village of Nikolaevka.”

Lysenko also said that Russian-backed fighters were shelling Ukrainian defence positions near Chermalyk and Novoselovka with mortars.

Mariupol news site reported that residents in the Ordzhonikidze district of the city had told them of hearing salvoes from heavy weaponry in the Vostochny neighbourhood and on Leningrad avenue.

Dmitry Gorbunov, a military spokesman, told 0629 that Russian-backed militants were firing Grad rockets from the occupied village of Shirokino. He said they were either firing at Ukrainian positions or conducting an exercise.

Here is a map identifying the locations discussed above:


— Pierre Vaux

Ten Civilians And One Ukrainian Soldier Killed Over Last 24 Hours

While tomorrow has been decreed by President Poroshenko to be a “day of silence” or ceasefire, fighting continues in both the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, with both military and civilian deaths.

According to the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, 10 civilians have been killed and 13 wounded over the last 24 hours.

Earlier, Interfax-Ukraine had reported, citing the ATO Press Centre, that six had been killed and three wounded. The deaths were apparently caused by shelling:

The activity zone of militants moved to the area of Debaltseve. They again shelled the area of the settlements of Mius, Chornukhyne, Debaltseve, Orlovo-Ivanivka, Poltavska mine, Nikishyne, Olkhovatka, Faschivka, Artemove, Ridkodub, and Kodema.

“In the Luhansk and Donetsk bridgeheads terrorists fired on the settlements of Verkhnia Vilkhova, Sokolnyky, Artema, Schastia, Stary Aidar, Stanytsia Luhanska, Triokhizbenka, Frunze, Opytne, Maryinka, Avdiyivka, and Mykolaivka,” reads the statement.

Meanwhile, the NSDC announced that one Ukrainian soldier had been killed and 9 wounded over the same time period.

Commenting on the proposed ceasefire due tomorrow, Andrei Lysenko, the spokesman for the NSDC, told Interfax-Ukraine that the Russian-backed separatists show “no interest in ending bloodshed.”

Yesterday, Denis Pushilin, who is representing the self-proclaimed ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ at the Minsk talks, said:

“We are insisting on the date of December 12 at the earliest. The date of December 9, which was proposed earlier, does not suit us. There are a lot of issues that need to be adjusted. They also need to be worked out, otherwise they just won’t be resolved.”

Lysenko said that the separatists were intent on delaying the peace talks due to coincide with the ceasefire and that the date of December 9 had been made known to the other side well enough in advance for the separatists to be prepared.

— Pierre Vaux