Ukraine Live Day 581: Blockade Of Occupied Crimea Enters Second Day

September 21, 2015
Trucks queued up at the frontier between occupied Crimea and the Ukrainian mainland. Photo: Bohdan Kutiepov / Hromadske TV

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Lugansk Separatists To Hold Local Elections On November 1

Igor Plotnitsky, the leader of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LNR), has issued a decree setting the date for local elections in the separatist-held region as November 1.

Elections in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) are due to begin on October 18 while those in the rest of Ukraine will take place on October 25. 

The decree was signed on September 18 but only published today on the ‘official web portal’ of the LNR:


Meanwhile Denis Pushilin, the chairman of the ‘People’s Soviet’ of the DNR, reported today on Instagram that “primaries” – using a direct transliteration of the term used in American electoral candidate selection – had been held in several separatist-held towns.

Pushilin said that the primaries were held in Yasinovataya, Gorlovka, Shakhtyorsk and Snezhnoye to elect candidates for the Donetsk Republic faction, led by DNR head Aleksandr Zakharchenko. 

Novosti Donbassa notes that such “primaries” have now been held in 16 DNR-controlled settlements so far.

— Pierre Vaux

Dzhemilev Says Pravyi Sektor Were Not Invited To Participate In Blockade By Mejlis
Oliver Carroll reports further on the involvement of Pravyi Sektor (Right Sector) in the ongoing blockade of Russian-occupied Crimea:
Ukrainian Reports 4 Attacks Last Night, Including Mortar Use In Lugansk Region

The Ukrainian military’s ATO Press Centre claimed this morning that Russian-backed forces conducted four attacks across the front line last night. 

According to the report, a Ukrainian position in Luganskoye, south-east of Artyomovsk, came under small arms fire from the direction of separatist-held Nizhneye Lozovoye at 18:30.

To the west, north of Gorlovka, Ukrainian positions in Mayorsk came under small arms fire at 20:10. Troops near both Mayorsk and Luganskoye were later attacked again at around 21:30.

Ruslan Tkachuk, spokesman for the Ukrainian military operation in the Lugansk region, said today that a Ukrainian position to the south of separatist-held Sokolniki, near Krymskoye, was shelled for two minutes from 21:55 with an 82 mm mortar. The attack reportedly came from the direction of separatist-held Slavyanoserbsk.

Tkachuk also announced that a Ukrainian soldier had been killed as a result of mishandled explosives at the 29th checkpoint on the Bakhmutka highway. Another soldier was hospitalised with multiple shrapnel wounds as a result of the blast.

Meanwhile the ‘defence ministry’ of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic claimed today that the Ukrainian armed forces had violated the ceasefire seven times over the past 24 hours.

The pro-separatist Donetsk News Agency (DAN) reports that the ‘ministry’ said that Ukrainian forces had shelled parts of the Spartak and Yasinovataya areas, to the north-east of Donetsk, with mortars.

In the west of the city, the Russian-backed separatists claim that the Trudovskaya neighbourhood had been fired on with small arms from Ukrainian-held Marinka. 

— Pierre Vaux

Ukrainian Officials Say No Trucks Entered Occupied Crimea Last Night

Ilya Kiva, deputy head of the Kherson regional branch of the Interior Ministry, has told Ukraine’s 112 television channel that not a single truck crossed the frontier between Russian-occupied Crimea and the Ukrainian mainland last night.

A blockade, led by Crimean Tatar activists and members of Ukraine’s ultra-nationalist Pravyi Sektor, came into effect yesterday, with activists barring trucks from crossing the regional border.

Kiva said (translated by The Interpreter):

“Last night the movement of trucks carrying produce into occupied Crimea was complete blocked. The night passed quietly and the situation remained under control.”

UNIAN reports that Oleh Slobodian, press secretary for the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service, has said that large queues of trucks have formed at either side of the border:

“As for the queues in front of the activists’ checkpoints, there are from 150 to 200 trucks already waiting from different sides [of the border]. Many of them have decided to go back, many of them did not believe that the campaign would take place,” Slobodian said.

The report notes that the Coordinating Council of the Crimea blockade campaign claims that pedestrians and passenger vehicles will be allowed to cross the frontier freely.

Refat Chubarov, chairman of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, has said that a campaign to shut off electricity supplies to the peninsular may follow the food blockade.

Ukrainska Pravda reports that Mustafa Dzhemilev, former chairman of the Mejlis and now a Ukrainian MP, told reporters at the Chongar crossing point on the frontier that protests against the blockade were being coordinated with the occupying Russian authorities.

The Interpreter translates:

“From what I’ve been told, about 25-30 people have gathered there. Amongst them are five or six Crimean Tatars. Some of them are completely dependent on the authorities or some corrupt organisations there. Some of them threw stones. They sent their police, but when Crimean Tatars began to gather in the village outside their homes, they ran off.”

Dzhemilev also said that:

“The citizens’ blockade will be a step towards the getting statesman to consider more swiftly drawing up legislation on the abolition of the so-called ‘free economic zone’ [FEZ] in Crimea and the creation of a FEZ in the free territory of the Kherson region.”

Meanwhile, RFE/RL’s Ukrainian service, Radio Svoboda, announced that they were collaborating with the Ukrainian radio Channel One in launching a new radio programme for residents of occupied Crimea.

The programme will be broadcast live twice a day, at 8:35 and 18:30 at 549 khz.  

— Pierre Vaux