Ukraine Live Day 558: Western Leaders Urge Putin to Ensure Elections under Ukrainian Law

August 29, 2015
Rock concert in a park in Donetsk, August 29, 2015, with performers from Russia.

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Two Missing Crimean Tatars Found Dead Near Simferopol

Two Crimean Tatars missing were found dead near Simferopol, Liveuamap reported, citing Hromadske TV.

Memet Selimov and Osman Ibragimov, two Crimean Tatar residents of Simferopol missing for the last eight days, were found dead with knife wounds on August 29, Hromaske TV reported, citing Nariman Dzhelyal, the deputy chair of the Mejlis or Crimean Tatar assembly.

Investigators said that it was an “common murder” that occurred after a drunken fight. But the parents believed they were kidnapped.

Three Crimean Tatars have gone missing in the last week and a half. Mukhtar Arislanov, 45, a resident of the Fontana area of Simferopol disappeared August 27.

Halya Coynash of the Khariv Human Rights Group has analyzed the disappearances:

As earlier reported, any disappearances of Crimean Tatars are
reminders chilling reminders of multiple abductions and / or
disappearances of young Crimean Tatar men and pro-Ukrainian civic
activists after Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea.   There are
also some strange elements in the disappearance of 29-year-old Memet
Selimov and 31-year-old Osman Ibragimov from the Simferopol region.

reported, Selimov set off around 21.00 on Aug 21, telling his parents
that he was going to see his friend Ibragimov.  A bit later his parents
were unable to contact him by phone, then the phone was switched off
completely.  Memet’s parents explained  that their son worked as a
hospital driver, he was not involved in any kind of civic activity, nor
crime, and was normally in regular contact with his parents.  Dzhelyal
reported that the parents believed that the two men might have been

It is possible that the police in this case are doing
their job and do have grounds for suspecting a specific individual.  The
disappearance of 45-year-old Mukhtar Arislanov from the same area on
Aug 27 has been reported, may also not be sinister.

as well as a few strange details, there is also bad experience, making
it easy to understand why Dzhelyal’s report begins with the sentence:
“Crimean Tatars are again disappearing in Crimea ».  

In the early
evening of Sept 27, 2014, 19-year-old Islam Dzhepparov and his
23-year-old cousin Dzhevdet Islamov were abducted from Sary-Su near
Belogorsk in the Crimea.  They were forced into a dark blue Volkswagen
Transporter and taken away in the direction of Feodosiya.  Despite
immediate notification of the police with even the van’s registration
number known, the young men have never been found nor has anybody been
detained over their abduction.

Coynash describes other cases and cites Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev who has said 18 Crimean Tatars have disappeared since the Russian invasion.

Three civic activists among them known for their vocal opposition to the Russian occupation may have been killed by security forces supporting the leader of the self-declared Republic of Crimea, says Coynash.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Mainly DNR and LNR Fail to Pull Back Main Battle Tanks and Armor Builds Up Around Mariupol: OSCE

The pro-separatist news site Novosti Novorossii reported that gunfire was heard in Gorlovka and shelling in Vorobyovka. In Lugansk Region, residents said shelling overnight damaged buildings in Stakhanov, and there was large-caliber artillery also shelling in the direction of Popasnaya.

In his phone call with German and French leaders, President Vladimir Putin complained about shelling by the Ukrainian side of population
areas, but failed to acknowledge shelling by Russian-backed separatist

In its report for August 27, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission reported the failure to pull back tanks under the Minsk agreement and a build-up of armor around the Mariupol area:

The SMM revisited two “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas whose
locations corresponded with the Minsk withdrawal lines, but was denied
access at one area. The “DPR” guards said they had not been authorized
by their commander to allow the SMM access. Therefore the SMM was able
to conclude that all previously recorded weapons were present at only
one of the areas.

The SMM also revisited two Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons
holding areas whose locations corresponded with the Minsk withdrawal
lines but, again, was able to conclude that all previously recorded
weapons were present at only one of the areas. At the second area, the
SMM observed that one of three previously observed self-propelled
anti-aircraft systems (9K35 Strela-10) was missing.

The SMM observed the presence of heavy weapons in areas which are in
violation of respective withdrawal lines. In a “DPR”-controlled area,
the SMM observed a main battle tank (MBT, T-72). In an “LPR”-controlled
area, the SMM observed two stationary main battle tanks (T-72) with gun
turrets with barrels pointed towards a government-controlled area. In
government-controlled areas, the SMM also observed a tank (T64)
stationary at a checkpoint and a 122mm self-propelled howitzer 2S1
“Gvozdika” on a heavy duty trailer travelling through
government-controlled areas. In “DPR”-controlled areas UAVs observed
five MBTs in Bezimenne (30km east of Mariupol), two MBTs in Michurine
(57km north-east of Mariupol), three heavy artillery pieces in Oktiabr
(29km north-east of Mariupol), one MBT south of Sontseve (58km
north-east of Mariupol), five MBTs west of Starolaspa (60km north-east
of Mariupol), five 122mm self-propelled howitzers 2S1 “Gvozdika” with
lots of ammunition south-west of Rozdolne (64km north-east of Mariupol)
and seven MBTs, more than twenty APCs and other military equipment south
of Komsomolske (75km north-east of Mariupol). On 26 August in
government-controlled Pionerske (13km east of Mariupol) one short-range
anti-aircraft missile system (type not identified) was spotted. On 27
August, in government-controlled Hranitne (45km north-east of Mariupol)
one MBT was observed.

The OSCE report from yesterday, August 28 released today says the situation remains “tense” and reports 73 explosions:

The overall security situation at and around “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk airport (9km north-west of Donetsk
remained tense. Between 08:55 and 17:30hrs, whilst at the Joint Centre
for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation point at Donetsk
railway station (“DPR”-controlled, 8km north-west of Donetsk city
centre), the SMM recorded a total of 73 explosions – both incoming and
outgoing – mostly consistent with mortar (88mm and 120mm) and automatic
grenade launchers (AGL) at distances ranging between 1.5 and 6km
north-west, north and north-north-east of its position.

In government-controlled Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol),
between 12:32 and 13:10hrs, the SMM heard 12 explosions from
undetermined distance southeast of its position and saw one impact at a
location 3km south of its position. Whilst in Kominternove, local
residents showed the SMM three craters which they said resulted from
shelling on 26 August. The SMM analysed craters in a residential area.
Analysis indicated that 120mm mortar rounds – two were fired from the
east, another one was fired from a westerly direction – had caused the
damage including blown-out windows and a pitted roof. The SMM also
observed that a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in the west of the
village was closed for any residents, preventing them from crossing from
the village into the west. The checkpoint commander told the SMM that
following the shelling on 26 August the checkpoint had been closed for
all traffic.

In “DPR”-controlled Yasne (30km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM
conducted crater analysis on one impact of alleged shelling on 26
August. The SMM assessed it to have been caused by 125mm high explosive
fragmentation shells of a main battle tank (MBT) fired from a southerly

In “DPR”-controlled Holmivskyi (49km north-north-east of Donetsk),
the SMM was told by local residents that shelling had taken place during
the previous night. The SMM analysed three of six craters observed in
and around a residential area and assessed that they had been caused by
122mm artillery fired from a north-easterly direction. reported that
the Russian-backed forces made scattered “chaotic and provocative”
attacks along the line of contact in the last day according to the ATO
[Anti-Terrorist Organization] press center’s Facebook page.

was struck once again at 1:00 am as well as the Butovka coal mine and
the town of Opytnoye. For two days, separatists have been aiming
large-caliber mortar at Ukrainian positions in the town of Luganskoye
along the Artyomovsk line, and on Shirokino, near Mariupol, despite this
having been made a “demilitarized” area last month.

troops restored electrical power in Marinka and Krasnogorovka, where it
had been knocked out from shelling in the last month. They are still
working on the water line to Uspenovka, Marinovka and Krasnogorovka.

A rock concert staged by Russian Federation rock bands including
Arkhpelag, Agata Kristi and others took place in a park in central
Donetsk today in honor of Coal Miners’ Day and Donetsk City Day, Novosti Novorossii reported. About 10,000 people attended evidently without incident.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Western Leaders Urge Putin to Ensure Elections under Ukrainian Law; Ukrainian Elections Commission Says Cannot Be Held in Separatist-Controlled Areas Over Security Concerns

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande spoke to President Vladimir Putin today about the situation in Ukraine without Ukrainian Petro Poroshenko who is the fourth member of the “Normandy group,” reported.

The leaders discussed the crisis in southeastern Ukraine, and Merkel and Holland reported on their meeting with Poroshenko August 24.

Putin accused the Ukrainians of conducting an offensive in violation of the Minsk accords, despite the fact that the number of Ukrainian soldiers killed has risen, and OSCE Special Monitoring Mission reported August 27 that main battle tanks had not been pulled back from the front line.

Vice President Joe Biden called President Poroshenko today, RFE/RL reported:

The White House said Biden offered U.S. support for constitutional amendments Poroshenko has proposed to decentralize power and hold local elections while maintaining a unitary federal government in Kyiv.

Biden “welcomed news of an agreement among several pro-reform political forces to run a common slate of candidates in Ukraine’s local elections this October,” the White House said.

But the vice president “strongly criticized statements by separatist leaders indicating their intention to take additional territory and hold local elections outside of the Ukrainian legal framework, in direct contravention of the Minsk agreements,” it said.

Meanwhile, reported that the Ukrainian Central Elections Commission (CEC) issue a statement today August 29 that local elections cannot be held on October 25 in 91 precincts of the Donetsk Region and 31 precincts of the Lugansk Region in areas controlled by Ukraine, presumably due to security concerns although this was not mentioned formally.

The decision was made on the basis of situation reports given by the regional military and civilian administration.

President Petro Poroshenko urged that elections be held in Mariupol, calling on police to ensure security, reported. On August 28, the CEC had included Mariupol in its list of areas where elections could not be conducted safely, reported.

But in news account August 29, Mariupol was not in the list. A source told the online news site Apostrof that
security of voters and the election commissioners could not be
guaranteed in Mariupol and that is why it was included on the list.

The CEC listed the following frontline areas where elections cannot be held in Donetsk Region: 1 city council and 15 rural councils in Artyomov District; 1 city council and 26 rural councils in Volonovakha District; 3 rural councils in Volodarsk District; 7 rural councils in Konstantinovka District; 2 city councils and 9 rural councils in Marinka District; 1 rural council in Starobeshevo District; 1 regional council, 12 rural councils in Yasinovatskoye District; and also in the cities of Avdeyevka, Artyomovsk, Gorlovka, Debaltsevo, Dzerzhinsk, Dokuchayevsk and Konstantinovka.

Debaltsevo was taken over by Russian-backed forces in February 2015.

The CEC has listed the following areas where elections cannot be held in Lugansk Region, in 1 city council and 6 rural councils in Novoaydar District; 1 regional council, 3 city councils, 9 village councils and 1 rural council in Popasnaya District; 2 village councils and 8 rural councils in the Stanichno-Lugansk District.

All of these towns have seen constant shell fire since the Minsk-2 “ceasefire.”

The CEC then issued a list of areas occupied by combined Russian and separatist forces where elections cannot take place, including 125 towns in Donetsk Region and 146 in Lugansk Region, reported.

These included Alchevsk, Antratsit, Bryanka, Irovsk, Krasnodon, Krasny Luch, Lugansk, Pervomaysk and Stakhanov.

In Donetsk, these included Gorlovka, Donetsk, Enakievo, Torez and Shakhtyorsk.

Thus, admonitions to Putin to ensure elections and affirm such issues as access to OSCE monitors appear secondary to the larger problem of continued Russian-backed offensives creating insecurity.

For this reason, Ukraine is making it clear it will not attempt to hold elections in separatist-controlled areas or even under towns under fire on the front line. But separatists have no intention of abiding by Ukrainian law and allowing opposition parties and free media or involvement by central Kiev authorities in vote-counting.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick