Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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: How We Know Russia Shot Down MH17.
- READ OUR SPECIAL REPORT: An Invasion By Any Other Name: The Kremlinâs Dirty War in Ukraine
A fight broken out between members of parliament and police today in Pechera District court in Kiev as Ukrop party leader Gennady Korban arrived in court under custody to file an appeal, Podrobnosti.ru reported.
Korban, who took part in the elections in Dnipropetrovsk, has been charged with forming a criminal gang, kidnapping and fraud.
The prosecutor is now investigating him in relationship to the murder of an SBU officer in March 2014, for which Ukrop party member Mikhail Koshlyak was arrested yesterday.
postponed until tomorrow, November 5, deputies present began to cry
“Shame!” and accuse the judge of miscarriage of justice.
journalists and MPS had recorded how Evgeny Skuba, an investigator from
the Prosecutor General’s office received a text message to add a new
charge to Korban’s case, although Korban has yet to receive official
paperwork informing him of the existing charges against him.
Vitaliy Kupriy summoned police to detain Skuba for charging Korban
before he had been brought to the hearing. MPs began chanting “bastard”
and “criminal” at Skuba when the hearing was postponed.
Police tried to push back the shouting MPs, causing a melee, Hromadske TV reported.
did not name the MPs involved, but InformResist published a
video showing Volodymyr Parasyuk, a leader of the EuroMaidan protests
who also fought with the Dnipro Battalion and was elected to the
Verkhovna Rada in 2014, where he joined the Ukrop inter-factional group,
associated with the Ukrop party led by Korban.
Translation: #Korban Video: Fight between Parasyuk and a policeman: “Who are you jumping on? Let’s go talk man-to-man.”
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
The interior minister, Arsen Avakov, has announced that Khatia Dekanoidze is to head the new Ukrainian National Police service.
Dekanoidze, a Georgian national, served as the head of minister for education and science under former President Mikheil Saakashvili (now governor of the Odessa region), and had previously headed the national police academy.
In addition, she was director of the Policy Academy of the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs from 2007 until 2012.
Since moving to Ukraine, she has served as an adviser to Avakov.
The news puts pay to rumours that Hennadiy Moskal, who is reported to have resigned as governor of the Zakarpattia region this evening, was to head the new police force.
— Pierre Vaux
There are unconfirmed reports that Hennadiy Moskal, the governor of the Zakarpattia region, is resigning.
Espreso TV reported this evening, citing anonymous sources, that Moskal has written a letter of resignation. According to one of Espreso’s sources, President Poroshenko has yet to accept Moskal’s resignation.
Mukachevo.net, a website covering news in the administrative centre of Zakarpattia, reports, citing another unnamed source, that Moskal did indeed write a letter of resignation this afternoon, and now wants to take on a job heading the Ukrainian police force.
Meanwhile theinsider.ua reports that two MPs from President Poroshenko’s party have confirmed the news of Moskal’s resignation.
However one of the MPs told the news site that Moskal wants not to head the national police force, but to return to Lugansk, where he was governor until June this year, so that he can get back to “swearing and managing.”
The other MP told theinsider that Moskal was dissatisfied with recent electoral results in Zakarpattia. On October 30, Moskal called for the resignation of Valery Patskan, leader of Bloc Petro Poroshenko in the Zakarpattia region, accusing him of bribery and electoral fraud.
Mukachevo.net reports that neither Moskal, nor his press secretary, Yaroslav Galas, have responded to calls.
Moskal, who is regarded as an effective, if brusque and somewhat combative leader, capable of handling crises, was governor of Lugansk from September, 2014.
Chief among the criticisms contained in the Council of Europe (CoE) report on the violence in Odessa on May 2, 2014 (see previous update) is the failure to investigate police collusion with some elements of the protests, and dereliction of duty.
In their conclusion, the International Advisory Panel of the CoE reports that there is “evidence indicative of police complicity in the mass disorder of 2 May 2014 in Odessa.” Therefore, the Panel says that Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantee the right to life and protection from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, require that the investigation be carried out “by an organ entirely independent from the police.”
The Convention requires that, in order for an investigation to be effective for the purposes of Articles 2 and 3, it must be ensured that the persons responsible for, and carrying out, the investigation are impartial and independent from those implicated in the events, both in law and in practice. This means not only an absence of hierarchical or institutional connection but also a practical independence. Supervision of the investigative acts by another authority may not constitute a sufficient safeguard when the investigation itself has, for all practical purposes, been conducted by bodies connected with those under investigation.
In assessing whether the investigations under review were independent, the Panel notes that, from the outset, there were allegations, supported by video evidence, of collusion between certain members of the police force deployed to protect public order on 2 May 2014 and activists involved in the mass disorder. According to the PGO [Prosecutor General’s Office], the possibility of collusion between law enforcement officers and activists is being examined as part of the investigation in the case concerning police conduct, which is within the competence of the MID [Main Investigation Department] of the PGO. However, the investigation into the conduct of the activists involved in the mass disorder, including, presumably, those who may be suspected of having conspired with police officers, is being carried out by the MoI [Interior Ministry]. It was submitted to the Panel that the police officers under investigation and the MID investigators in charge of the case belong to different and separate departments of the MoI. The Panel observes, however, that, given the evidence indicative of police complicity in this case, the Convention standards and European Court’s case law cited above require that the mass disorder as a whole, including the conduct of both the police and activists, be investigated by an organ entirely independent from all the actors under investigation. It does not consider that the MID of the MoI meets this criterion.
One figure that features prominently is Dmytro Fuchedzhy, deputy head of the MoI Office in the Odessa Region and acting head of the MoI Office from May 3, the day after the violence, until May 6, 2014.
On the afternoon of May 2, Fuchedzhy was seen getting into an ambulance with Vitalii Budko, an anti-Maidan activist was identified on video shooting at pro-Unity protesters from behind police lines.
Another video shows Mr Fuchedzhy, who had been lightly injured in the arm, climbing into an ambulance in which Mr Budko was sitting, apparently uninjured. A few seconds later a seriously injured police officer, assisted by two other officers, was apparently refused entry to the ambulance, which then drove off.
Fuchedzhy was appointed acting head of the MoI Office in Odessa following the dismissal of Petro Lutsiuk on May 3 in the aftermath of the violence. Both are being investigated for their failure to implement a pre-arranged crowd control plan called Wave, which should have been ordered in order to prevent violence once street fighting broke out.
On May 4, with a crowd of protesters gathering outside the Odessa city police station, 63 activists who had been arrested in the Trade Union Building were released in accordance with the crowd’s demands. “The investigation found that Fuchedzhy had given the order for the release without any legal basis or formal decision.”
On May 5, Fuchedzhy was summoned for questioning by the Odessa Regional Prosecution Office.
However, he refused to appear, referring to his poor state of health and his treatment in hospital. On 6 May 2014 Mr Fuchedzhy fled Ukraine, crossing the border into Moldova. Thus, by the time the casefile was transferred to the PGO on 7 May 2014 he had already disappeared. In April 2015 the Deputy Prosecutor General reported that Mr Fuchedzhy was in Transdniestria.
When asked by the Panel about the circumstances in which Mr Fuchedzhy had absconded, Mr Zinkovskyi replied that he was not aware whether any action had been taken to ensure that Mr Fuchedzhy appeared for questioning; whether he had been summoned through the police officers of the same department where he had worked; or whether anyone had helped him to escape. Mr Zinkovskyi believed that the period of five days during which the evidence was being collected gave Mr Fuchedzhy time to abscond.
Lutsiuk was also notified that he was suspected of neglecting his duty and was placed under house arrest until August this year. However, as the Panel notes, other than these two senior officials, no other MoI personnel have been notified of their suspicion, nor have any other indictments been drawn up in connection with the May 2 violence.
Read the full report here.
— Pierre Vaux
The International Advisory Panel of the Council of Europe has released a report today on the Ukrainian investigation into the violence in Odessa on May 2, 2014, that left 48 people dead and hundreds injured.
The report is strongly critical of the investigations conducted by both the Odessa branch of the Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor General’s Office. In particular, it highlights failure to effectively tackle investigations into collaboration between the Odessa police and anti-Maidan protesters both on May 2 and on May 4, when 63 detainees were released without any formal decision being made following protests.
We will discuss the specific criticisms of the investigation in a series of updates to follow, but first let us summarise the narrative of the events of May 2 as relayed in the report:
MAY 2, 2014:
Local EuroMaidan activists, city residents and football fans had planned to hold a rally in support of a united Ukraine at 15:00, ahead of a match between Odessa’s Chornomorets and Kharkiv’s Metalist teams. In anticipation of the rally, anti-Maidan activists, some of whom had been occupying Kulykove Pole outside the Trade Union Building with tents, began to gather near the site of the planned pro-unity rally at around 13:30.
The report notes that the 2 May Group, formed of local activists who decided to conduct their own parallel investigation into the violence, told the Panel that:
[T]here had been an unofficial arrangement, which was favoured by all stakeholders (namely, the local authorities, including the police, the EuroMaidan and the AntiMaidan leaders), whereby, after the football match on 2 May 2014 (see below), the football fans were to be allowed to demolish the remaining tents on Kulykove Pole, the police being present to check that excessive force was not used. This would have liberated the square for the Victory Day commemorations and allowed the AntiMaidan leaders to depart without losing face. However, because of disunity among the AntiMaidan groups, the agreement was not implemented.
At around 15:20, the pro-unity rally was attacked near Hretska Square by around 300 anti-Maidan or pro-federalism protesters. Police formed a cordon between the two groups within 20 minutes, but stones and stun grenades continued to be thrown over the cordon with little apparent police restraint. By 16:10, one person had been fatally injured by a firearm.
Law enforcement officers were reported to have taken certain measures during the early phases of the clashes but later it appears that they made little, if any, effort to intervene and stop the violence. In addition to the impression of general passivity, video footage posted on the Internet gave rise to allegations of collusion between some members of the police force and pro-federalism protesters. Thus, numerous files posted on the Internet show armed pro-federalism protesters standing, and at least one of them, believed to be Mr Vitalii Budko, shooting, from behind the police cordon, police officers making no attempt to arrest them.
The clashes on around Hretska Square lasted until around 19:00, after which pro-unity protesters gained the upper hand and pursued their opponents towards Kulykove Pole.
The subsequent events saw the fire in the Trade Union Building that killed 39 people:
In the meantime, some of the leaders of the profederalism protesters who remained at Kulykove Pole, aware of the clashes in the city centre and of the approaching pro-unity protesters, advised their followers to flee, while others proposed that they should retreat into the Trade Union Building, a five-floor building facing the square. At around 6.50 p.m. pro-federalists broke down the door and brought inside various materials, including boxes containing Molotov cocktails and the products needed to make them. Using wooden pallets which had supported tents in the square, they blocked the entrances to the building from the inside and erected barricades.
When they arrived at the square at around 7.20 p.m., the pro-unity protesters destroyed and set fire to the tents of the AntiMaidan camp. The remaining pro-federalism protesters entered the Trade Union Building, from where they exchanged shots and Molotov cocktails with their opponents outside. One of the pro-unity gunmen, who was captured on video footage, was subsequently identified as Mr Mykola Volkov. Several attempts by the pro-unity protesters to storm the building proved to be unsuccessful, although a few of them managed to enter the building through the back door.
At about 7.45 p.m. a fire broke out in the Trade Union Building. Forensic examinations subsequently indicated that the fire had started in five places, namely the lobby, on the staircases to the left and right of the building between the ground and first floors, in a room on the first floor and on the landing between the second and third floors. Other than the fire in the lobby, the fires could only have been started by the acts of those inside the building. The forensic reports did not find any evidence to suggest that the fire had been preplanned. The closed doors and the chimney effect caused by the stairwell resulted in the fire’s rapid spread to the upper floors and a fast and extreme rise in the temperature inside the building…
By 7.54 p.m. the fire was reaching its peak and some of those in the building desperately tried to escape by jumping out of the windows on the upper floors. A number of persons were killed in falling. Video footage on the Internet shows others being assaulted by pro-unity protesters outside the building after they had jumped.51 However, there is also footage showing pro-unity protesters creating makeshift ladders and platforms from the stage which had been erected for speakers on the square and using them to rescue pro-federalists trapped in the building, who were then evacuated to safe zones. According to the SES, the fire was extinguished at 8.50 p.m. Three hundred and thirty persons were rescued and evacuated from the building; 31 people were found to have died inside the building and eight more bodies were found within its curtilage. Law enforcement officers reportedly did not intervene in the events on Kulykove Pole and the Trade Union Building. According to the Ombudsperson’s inquiry report, they started to arrest protesters only after 41 persons had already died. When the fire had been extinguished the police entered the building and arrested 63 pro-federalists who were still inside or on the roof.
According to official statistics, as a result of the clashes on 2 May, 48 persons died (seven women and 41 men). Six persons died as a result of firearm injuries they had received during the clashes on and around Hretska Square and 42 died as a result of the fire in the Trade Union Building. Of those 42, 34 died as a direct result of the fire and eight died as a result of jumping or falling from a height; no other violent cause of death was established. Likewise, it was not established that any gas was present in the building, other than the gases produced by the fire…
According to the official statistics, 208 persons (including 34 law enforcement officers, six of whom received firearm injuries) were injured. As during the EuroMaidan events, many who were treated in hospital did not give their real names and addresses. Moreover, some persons, even those seriously injured during the violence, allegedly did not go to hospital for fear of reprisals.
47 persons were detained in the Afina Shopping Centre and 63 persons in the Trade Union Building; a few other persons were detained elsewhere during the following days. After 63 detainees had been released by a mob of protesters on 4 May 2014, the other detainees were transferred for security reasons to detention facilities outside Odesa.
Read the full report here.
— Pierre Vaux
LIGA.net reports that the Ukrainian General Staff have confirmed that three soldiers were wounded yesterday after Russian-backed fighters shelled a Ukrainian checkpoint in the Lugansk region.
Vladislav Seleznyov, press attaché to the General Staff, told LIGA that the attack had taken place near the village of Tryokhizbenka, on the northern banks of the Seversky Donets river.
Among the wounded is Viktor Nikolyuk, commander of the 92nd Independent Mechanised Brigade. Despite being wounded in his flank, Nikolyuk reportedly refused medical treatment.
Viktor Nikolyuk – photo: http://museum-ukraine.org.ua/
The other two soldiers were taken to a hospital in Novoaidar for treatment for shrapnel wounds.
Ruslan Tkachuk, spokesman for the Ukrainian military operation in the Lugansk region, reported that the attack, conducted with automatic grenade launchers, had begun at 15:30 and lasted for 15 minutes.
The fire had come, he wrote, from the direction of the occupied village of Priship, on the southern banks of the river.
While Tkachuk reported no other attacks yesterday, Colonel Andriy Lysenko, military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, today announced that Russian-backed fighters had attacked Ukrainian positions near Schastye, around 23 kilometres east of Tryokhizbenka.
Overall, he said, five Ukrainian servicemen have been wounded over the last 24 hours.
Meanwhile Eduard Basurin, deputy commander of the armed forces of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), claimed this morning that Ukrainian forces had violated the ceasefire 26 times over the previous 24 hours, shelling northern areas of Donetsk and the outskirts of Gorlovka.
— Pierre Vaux