Ukraine Live Day 568: Russian-Backed Fighters Conduct Raids In Eastern Lugansk, Killing 2 Soldiers

September 8, 2015

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Andrei Purgin Released In Donetsk

The Federal News Agency (FAN), a pro-Kremlin news site run out of the infamous 55 Savushkina in Saint Petersburg, has spoken to Andrei Purgin, who was dismissed from his post as the chairman of the ‘Supreme Soviet’ of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and arrested on September 4.

Purgin told FAN today that he has only recently been allowed to return home, having spent four days detained in the former SBU building in Donetsk, the basement of which was regularly used last year for holding captives. 

Purgin said that he had lost about three kilograms but he was otherwise “alive and well.”

The former chairman said that claims put about in Donetsk that he had been taken into protective custody to avoid assassination by Ukrainian agents were “idiotic.” He has been unable to obtain a real explanation of why he was arrested after his dismissal.

On that day, there were some claims in pro-separatist media that he had, in fact, been detained on suspicion of plotting a coup. 

Protests against his replacement were aggressively suppressed by the separatist security forces: 

— Pierre Vaux
SBU Adviser Says Russia Is Not Allowing Contact With Detained Soldiers In Crimea

Yuri Tandit, an adviser to the head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), Vasyl Hrytsak, told the 112 television channel last night that Russia is not allowing contact with three Ukrainian soldiers arrested on the Crimean frontier on Saturday.

The Interpreter translates:

“We hope that the Russian Federation will fulfil its obligations and return our lads to us. The circumstances of their disappearance are being thoroughly investigated. We hope that, in the near future, the boys will be returned from occupied Crimea. We are doing everything to ensure their return. We have not been given any kind of contact (with the boys) from the side of temporarily occupied Crimea. We have only recorded that the so-called border guards on the territory of Crimea are, in fact, Russian citizens,” he said.

Neither, according to Tandit, has Russia proposed any conditions whatsoever for the return of the soldiers.

“The lads didn’t have any weapons with them. They have not committed any crimes against citizens of Russia and they cannot be accused of anything,” he noted.

Meanwhile Graham Phillips, a notorious British propagandist for the Kremlin who has participated in ethically indefensible interrogations of Ukrainian prisoners of war in the past, uploaded a video, apparently provided to him by the Russian border service (a branch of the FSB), of the three detainees being questioned.

The men do not appear to have been harmed and, on screen at least (the video contains several cuts), they corroborate the Russian claim that they deliberately swam over to the Russian-occupied side of the frontier to visit Russian troops there.

Of course there is no way of telling from this footage whether there has been any coercion to obtain these statements. 

— Pierre Vaux

2 Ukrainian Soldiers Killed, 2 Wounded As Russian-Backed Fighters Conduct Raids In Eastern Lugansk

The Lugansk Military-Civil Administration has announced that two Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and two wounded after a skirmish in the far east of the region.

The Interpreter translates:

Yesterday (September 7), two soldiers from the 128th Brigade of the Ukrainian armed forces were killed and two were wounded during combat with a sabotage and reconnaissance group of terrorists near the village of Bolotennoye in the Stanitsa Luganskaya area. All necessary help is being given to the wounded. 

This morning, a dead soldier was brought to a hospital in Stanitsa Luganskaya. the circumstances of their death are being investigated.

We are uncertain whether the dead soldier brought in today was involved in yesterday’s fighting.

The governor of the region, Georgiy Tuka, said that the Russian-backed fighters had likely crossed into Ukrainian-controlled territory to find their dead comrades.

Yesterday, the Administration announced that the bodies of five Russian-backed fighters were found in the woods near Bolotennoye. The men appeared to have been dead for around two weeks.

Tuka said today that the law enforcement officers are currently working to identify the dead.

Meanwhile the Ukrainian military’s ATO Press Centre claimed today that sabotage and reconnaissance teams of Russian-backed fighters had twice attempted to break through the Ukrainian lines near Sizoye, less than three kilometres east of Bolotennoye.

According to the report, a group of up to seven Russian-backed fighters tried to bypass a Ukrainian defensive position under cover of grenade launcher and small arms fire at around 18:00 yesterday. After a skirmish, the group withdrew.

Then, at 1:40 am today, another team of Russian-backed fighters attempted to break through near the same defensive position.

The ATO Press Centre report does not say from which direction the attacks came.

While the attackers could have swum crossed the Seversky Donets river by boat, as is likely with the bodies found near Bolotennoye, who were, according to some reports, covered in mud, it is also possible that they came over land from the Russian border, which lies only two and a half kilometres from Sizoye. There are no intact river crossings between Stanitsa Luganskaya and the border.


Elsewhere in the conflict zone, the Press Centre reported a small arms attack on Ukrainian troops in Mayorsk, north of Gorlovka, and an 82 mm mortar attack on Ukrainian positions in Marinka last night.

For their part, the Russian-backed separatists in the Donetsk region report no attacks by Ukrainian forces last night.

The pro-separatist Donetsk News Agency (DAN) says that the administrations of separatist-held settlements along the front in the region have informed the agency that no fire was recorded overnight.

— Pierre Vaux