Ukraine Live Day 596: Ukrainian Foreign Minister Says Putin Agreed For OSCE To Be Given Full Access To Occupied Territory

October 6, 2015
Nadezhda Savchenko and her lawyer, Ilya Novikov, in court today. Photo via Radio Svoboda

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Separatists Agree To Postpone ‘Elections’ Until Next Year

The Donetsk News Agency (DAN), a news website that operates as a mouthpiece for the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), reports this afternoon that separatist officials have agreed to postpone local elections in the occupied regions of the Donbass.

The DNR had been intending to hold elections on October 18 while their counter parts in the Lugansk (the LNR) were due to vote on November 1.

Neither of the elections were to have been conducted in accordance with Ukrainian law or under the auspices of the OSCE. Local elections will be held across the rest of Ukraine on October 25.

The news confirms reports from the Contact Group in Minsk yesterday that the separatists were considering postponing the votes in exchange for Ukrainian concessions on amnesties and allowing separatist factions to participate in elections. 

Today Denis Pushilin and Vladislav Deynego, representatives at the Minsk talks for the DNR and LNR respectively, announced (translated by The Interpreter):

“We are pleased to notify you that the LNR’s proposal to postpone the elections in the Donbass until February 21, 2016, on condition of the complete fulfillment of the political points of Minsk 2 by Kiev, has been taken into account by the Normandy Quartet. We have studied the statements and recommendations of Mrs Merkel and Mr Hollande. Today, here in Minsk, we have held consultations with representatives from the OSCE and Russia. We have received instructions from our leaders Aleksandr Zakharchenko (head of the DNR) and Igor Plotnitsky (head of the LNR).

As a result of this work we are announcing the agreement of the DNR and LNR to move the elections from October 18 and November 1 to the following year.”

DAN notes that Deynego and Pushilin have repeated their demands that Kiev must comply with their demands for an amnesty for participants in the events of the war and allow separatist parties to compete in elections.

Furthermore, the separatist envoys seek amendments to the Ukrainian constitution, to be drafted in coordination with the separatist leadership.

— Pierre Vaux

Prosecution Calls Witnesses In Savchenko Trial

Nadezhda Savchenko is back in court today in the Russian border town of Donetsk in the Rostov region for another hearing in her murder trial.

Translation: Nadezhda Savchenko and her lawyer Ilya Novikov at today’s court hearing

Savchenko was captured by Russian-backed fighters near Lugansk last summer and illegally transported to Russia, where she is on trial for the murder of two state television journalists during the shelling of a separatist checkpoint. She is accused of acting as a spotter for the attack. Savchenko denies the charges and says she has neither acted a spotter nor did she hear of the attack until she was already in separatist detention.

The Russian authorities claim that she was arrested on Russian soil after having crossed the border illegally herself. Video of her interrogation in Ukraine, uploaded by separatist fighters last summer, makes this seem highly implausible.

RFE/RL’s Ukrainian service, Radio Svoboda, reports that the trial judge announced the death of the mother of one of the journalists Savchenko is accused of killing, Anton Voloshin, before the start of today’s hearing.

Mikhail Lutsenko, a highway patrol officer who the prosecution says detained Savchenko while she was a passenger in a car in Russia’s Voronezh region, is giving evidence to the court.

On October 1, two prosecution witnesses, Sergei Bobro and Sergei Rudenko, told the court that they had met Savchenko on the road between Boguchar and Kantemirovka. The accused had, Bobro said, asked for directions to the nearest village and they decided to give her a lift. Later, they were halted at a police traffic stop and Savchenko was detained due to her lack of documents.

However Savchenko herself denies this, saying that the two men were in fact involved in her abduction from Ukraine.

Furthermore, Savchenko said today in court that Lutsenko has cooperated with her kidnappers:

Translation: Savchenko: He did not let me out of the car when I wanted to get out, but he says he did not detain me. Thus she described Lutsenko’s participation in her kidnapping

Nikolai Polozov, one of Savchenko’s lawyers, says that the court has failed, despite requests, to provide the official documentation of Savchenko’s police stop. 

— Pierre Vaux

Ukrainian Soldier Wounded In Skirmish Near Tryokhizbenka

Colonel Andriy Lysenko, military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, has told reporters that one Ukrainian soldier was wounded yesterday morning during a skirmish with Russian-backed fighters near the village of Tryokhizbenka in the Lugansk region.

According to Lysenko, the enemy diversion and reconnaissance group was forced to retreat back across the Seversky Donets river.


Otherwise, Lysenko claimed, there were no attacks recorded across the rest of the front line over the last 24 hours.

Three enemy drone flights were detected yesterday, near Marinka and Mariupol.

— Pierre Vaux

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Says Putin Agreed For OSCE To Be Given Full Access To Occupied Territory

Ukrinform reports that Pavlo Klimkin, the Ukrainian foreign minister, has said that President Vladimir Putin agreed in Paris last week that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) should have full access to monitor all of the occupied territory of the Donbass.

Klimkin was speaking live on the Svoboda Slova talk show on ICTV last night.

The foreign minister said (translated by The Interpreter):

“This was the first time I had heard from the Russian side, from Putin, that the OSCE monitoring mission must have full access to all of the Donbass, in accordance with their mandate. Without this full access there can be no assurance whatsoever that we are making any progress in the sphere of security. It is not complete and we cannot talk about the next steps. How can we talk about the withdrawal of Russian troops or Russian hardware when no one is monitoring this across the whole expanse of the Donbass?

Because our agreements – mine clearance under the auspices of the OSCE, the prohibition of the use, by the Russian side, of electronic warfare systems to block OSCE drones – these are very important. But this one agreement – full access for the OSCE – it opens the way.”

This British Foreign Office map is a handy indicator of those areas of the Donbass in which the SMM is currently restricted from operated freely:

— Pierre Vaux