For links to individual updates click on the timestamps.
For the latest summary of evidence surrounding the shooting down of flight MH17 see our separate article: Evidence Review: Who Shot Down MH17?
Yesterday evening, Oleg Sukhov reported in the Kyiv Post that Arseny Pavlov, commander of the Russian-backed Sparta battalion who goes by the call-sign Motorola, had told the paper that he had executed 15 Ukrainian prisoners.
Sukhov was reporting on allegations from Ukrainian troops, who had been taken prisoner at Donetsk Airport and subsequently released, that Pavlov had executed Ukrainian soldier Ihor Branovytsky while he was in captivity.
Motorola said by phone that he would not comment on Branovytsky’s murder.
“I don’t give a shit about any accusations, believe it or not,” Motorola said. “I’ve shot 15 prisoners. I don’t give a shit. No comment. I kill whoever I want.”
Yury Sova, a paratrooper from the Ukrainian 80th airborne brigade who was captured at the airport told Sukhov that he had witnessed Branovytsky’s murder.
According to Sova, prior to being killed, Branovytsky had been severely beaten, “and a lot of his bones were broken.”
An ambulance came to take Branovytsky but “Motorola (the commander of the Sparta battalion) took out a TT pistol and shot him,” claiming that it was an act of mercy to prevent his suffering, according to Sova.
Branovytsky’s life could have been saved if he had been taken to a hospital, Sova added.
“Motorola, a Russian citizen, bandit and murderer, told everyone to get up,” Vovk said. “Ihor couldn’t get up. (Motorola) said that (Branovytsky) didn’t need any ambulance, that he was himself an ambulance, and shot him twice in the head.”
That Branovytsky was captured alive can be verified by two videos filmed after the fall of Donetsk Airport.
In the first, uploaded onto pro-Kremlin propagandist Graham Phillips’ YouTube channel, but labelled as filmed by a certain “Kiber” on January 21, Branovytsky is visible in a blue jacket:
At one point, the prisoners are asked if any of them are machine gunners. They reply that their machine gunners are dead.
Sova said that Branovytsky had revealed himself as a machine gunner, which likely led to him being singled out.
In another video, Branovytsky identifies himself to the camera as prisoners are lined up. He is bloodied but conscious and still standing.
Ihor Branovytsky was buried on April 3 after a memorial service in Kiev.
The Kyiv Post reports that the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) has opened an investigation into his torture and murder. The case, opened under the crimes against humanity article of Ukrainian law, may be sent on to the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
— Pierre Vaux
According to the Center’s information, the parties who participated in the forum are not banned in Russia, and some in fact are deputies, in their own countries and in the European Parliament. Nevertheless, there were checks before and after the forum. According to the reply received (translation by The Interpreter):
During the activities conducted, facts of violations of Russian Federation law by the MRKF participants, including public calls for extremist activity, incitement of racial, national, religious or other hatred, humiliation of a person on these grounds of affiliations to a social group were not recorded.
But while the nationalists who organized the meeting were left alone, those who staged counter-protests “violated public order” and four of them were detained.
Russian bloggers asked why the authorities didn’t object to the forum. Among the participants were neo-Nazis and they were meeting in a sitting where one million people lost their lives in the Nazi Siege of Leningrad.
Translation: Does it really suit survivors of the Blockade and other veterans that pure-bred neo-Nazis have gathered in St. Petersburg and openly conduct their forum?
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
UNIAN reports that Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council (NSDC) told reporters this afternoon that three Ukrainian soldiers had been killed and two wounded over the last 24 hours.
According to Lysenko, the casualties all came after a shell struck a Ukrainian position near Avdeyevka, north of Donetsk.
Earlier in the day Dmytro Tymchuk of Information Resistance wrote on his Facebook page that Ukrainian positions near Avdeyevka had been shelled with 120 mm mortars – weapons that should have been withdrawn from the front in accordance with the Minsk agreement.
The pro-separatist Donetsk News Agency (DAN) reported that General Aleksandr Lentsov, the chief Russian representative at the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC), had said, during a joint inspection of the Spartak suburb with the OSCE, that there was no evidence of Russian-backed fighters shelling Ukrainian positions in Avdeyevka (to the north).
Lentsov said that “there is absolute silence here.”
There has been no word yet on these claims from the OSCE itself.
This evening, Ukrainska Pravda reports that the ATO press centre has claimed that Russian-backed fighters committed 16 violations of the ceasefire between midnight and 18:00 local time today.
The Interpreter translates:
Near Donetsk, the militants attacked Avdeyevka three times with grenade launchers and small arms, and Opytnoye once. In the Lugansk region, ATO forces near the village of Orekhovo came under mortar fire. Over the course of the day, criminals have fired on Mayorsk 4 times.
Earlier, the press centre had claimed that Russian-backed fighters were attempting to create a provocation by shelling the separatist-held city of Donetsk and blaming it on Ukrainian forces.
According to the press centre, at 10:40 today, a separatist mortar unit was deployed to a cement factory on the outskirts of Donetsk, which proceeded to fire into the city.
At 11:55, the press centre claims, Russian-backed fighters had fired towards Donetsk from the Staromikhailovka area with tanks and BMPs.
— Pierre Vaux