Ukraine Live Day 631: The Ceasefire Is Collapsing

November 10, 2015
Ukrainian military vehicles carry 85 mm "Vasilyok" automatic mortars in Peski village, in the Donetsk region, on November 7, 2015 before a weapons withdrawal. Photo by Aleksey Filippov/AFP

Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.

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For the latest summary of evidence surrounding the shooting down of flight MH17 see our separate article: How We Know Russia Shot Down MH17.

Parliament Fails To Pass Anti-Discrimination Bill, Visa-Free Travel To EU Jeopardized

Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has once again failed to move forward with passing anti-discrimination laws. Today, the Rada did not include anti-discrimination laws in the labor code. This comes less than a week after the Rada voted down an anti-discrimination bill. Interfax-Ukraine reports:

Corresponding bill No. 3442 on amending to the Labor Code of Ukraine (concerning the harmonization of legislation in the area of preventing and combating discrimination with the legislation of the European Union) was put on the parliament’s agenda on Tuesday, an Interfax-Ukraine correspondent reported.

However, the document was supported by only 207 MPs, with the required minimum being 226 votes.

The passage of anti-discrimination legislation is essential for moving forward with Ukraine’s EU integration plans, the impetus for last year’s Euromaidan Revolution. Without such laws, the EU is unlikely to grant Ukraine a visa-free travel agreement.

As we have been reporting, both gay rights advocates and those seeking EU integration have protested today. Despite the protests, the new measure has once again failed.

The Kyiv Post reports:

Organizers of the protest, called “Don’t F*ck with us,” argued that since the members of parliament are chosen by the Ukrainian people, they should not block a European future that thousands of Ukrainians fought for during the EuroMaidan Revolution.

The protest’s page on Facebook said some 2,000 people would attend, but roughly 500 ultimately showed up.

“It’s not an event targeted at the LGBT community. It’s about the future of Ukraine, and to let the MPs inside the parliament know that we want a European future for Ukraine. The future that many of us dreamt of after the Maidan revolution,” Tymur Levchuk, a 21-year-old local LGBT activist wearing a rainbow umbrella, told the Kyiv Post.

The organizers of the event asked people not to bring rainbow flags or other accessories that could lead to a confrontation with anti-gay protesters. The violence at the June 6 protest – when several gay rights activists were beaten down and chased by radicals — is still fresh in many activists’ minds.

Levchuk wore the rainbow colors, he said, to draw attention to the basic problem of inequality in Ukraine. “They want to organize an event to push MPs to vote for a European future, including legislation to forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. We’re all equal here, and to show my equality I’ve brought rainbow colors,” he said.

Pro-EU protest in front of parliament

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Protesters gather in front of the parliament building to rally for legislative steps to be taken in favor of closer EU integration. A few hundred protesters braved the rain and the cold on Nov.

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Nov 11, 2015 00:21 (GMT)

James Miller
Ukrainian Parliament Schedules Elections in Mariupol and Krasnoarmeysk for November 29

The Verkhovna Rada or parliament of Ukraine has scheduled elections in Mariupol and Krasnoarmeysk for November 29 , reported.

A judge ruled that elections could not take place in Krasnoarmeysk due to problems with ballots, and in Mariupol elections were cancelled after days of protest by democrats against pro-Russian groups over the printing of the ballots at a printing press owned by Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, who was backing the pro-Russian mayoral candidate.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Trial of Two GRU Soldiers Captured in Ukraine Begins in Kiev; Judge Rejects Appeal to Call Them POWs

Two GRU soldiers captured by Ukrainian forces earlier this year in Schastye went on trial today in Kiev today, charged with “terrorism,” Moscow News reported:

The two Russians captured in eastern Ukraine earlier this
year, went on trial in Kiev on Tuesday and denied all allegations
against them, claiming they are ‘unemployed’ and contradicting their
earlier claims of serving on active duty with Russian special forces.

Alexander Alexandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev previously
described themselves as fighters on a military mission to aid
separatists fighting Ukrainian government forces in the Donbass region.

The two men face charges including terrorist assault on
Ukrainian armed forces, which led to deaths of military personnel,
illegal entry to the occupied territories, and illegal possession of
weapons. Both face penalties up to life imprisonment.

In an interview with Novaya Gazeta’s Pavel Kanygin translated by The Interpreter, Aleksandrov had admitted he was on active duty as a contract soldier; now he is denying this.

Evidence was gathered to show the soldiers were deployed to fight along fighters from the self-declared “Lugansk People’s Republic” while serving in the Russian armed forces.

Now the Defense Ministry claims they were not on active duty, but they had resigned from regular duty to become contract soldiers, according to their previous testimony. Russia does not acknowledge that its forces are fighting in Ukraine.

The judge dismissed the lawyers’ appeal to have the men categorized as prisoners of war.

Both men were hospitalized due to injuries sustained in battle.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

4 Ukrainian Soldiers Wounded With Fighting Reported This Afternoon In Donetsk

Hromadske Radio’s Dmitry Palchenko reports from Peski that Russian-backed fighters have attacked Ukrainian positions there today.

According to Palchenko, Russian-backed fighters opened fire with small arms at noon. 

Palchenko said that heavier attacks begin from 18:00 onwards.

The Interpreter translates:

“During the day it’s more or less quiet. Into the evening, now it starts to get dark from 6 pm, they start firing. The fire is usually from small arms, heavy-calibre machine guns, automatic grenade launchers, sometimes they use 80 mm shells, which are banned under the Minsk agreements. But not as often as they used to.”

According to Palchenko, the Ukrainian soldiers are not returning fire. “The enemy is not conducting offensive operations, the militants are clearly pounding the Ukrainian soldiers’ positions. The bombardment of Peski has been going on for a week already,” said Dmitry Palchenko.


Photo by Dmitry Palchenko

Ukrainska Pravda spoke to soldiers on the front near Donetsk Airport, who told the online paper that as of 15:30 today, blasts could be heard near the Butovka mine, south of Avdeyevka, and that Russian-backed fighters were attacking with grenade launchers and recoilless rifles.

Colonel Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, announced today that four Ukrainian servicemen had been wounded over the last 24 hours. 

Meanwhile the Ukrainian General Staff has denied separatist claims that Ukrainian troops attempted an assault near Debaltsevo this morning.

Interfax-Ukraine reports that spokesman Vladislav Selzenyov said: 

What they say about Debaltseve is absurd. We are constantly declaring our strict compliance with the Minsk agreements and then our alleged offensive is reported out of the blue. This information is wrong, it is one of the hysterical information breakdowns exhibited by representatives of the so-called DPR/LPR in recent days.” 

But there was a new claim this afternoon from the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), relayed by Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency.

According to Eduard Basurin, a DNR military spokesman, Ukraine has deployed two squadrons of combat helicopters to Konstantinovka, north of Gorlovka, and tanks to Zhovanka, just outside the separatist-held town.

The separatist Donetsk News Agency (DAN) now reports, citing the head of the Kuybyshevsky district administration, Ivan Prikhodko, that Ukrainian troops have begun shelling northern areas of Donetsk with 82 mm mortars. 

Meanwhile there are reports on social media that military trucks have been moving up and down Kuybysheva Street, which runs between the city centre and the northern edge of Donetsk this afternoon:

Translation: Military trucks driving on both sides down Kuybysheva.

— Pierre Vaux

Protesters Demand That Rada Pass Bills, Including Anti-Discrimination Legislation, To Ensure Visa-Free Regime With EU

Protesters have gathered outside the Verkhovna Rada today as MPs vote on a package of laws required to enter into a visa-free regime with the European Union, a key part of the EU Association Agreement that was the initial cause sparking the EuroMaidan protests in the winter of 2013.

One of the bills required would prohibit discrimination in the work place on the basis of sexual orientation. On November 5, the Rada failed to pass the package, with this bill being one of the most contentious points.

The slogan for the rally is “Don’t Fuck With Us.”

President Poroshenko has called on MPs to pass the bill:

Translation: Poroshenko has called on deputies to introduce the changes to the Labour Code on the inadmissibility of discrimination

UNIAN reports that the Rada has already passed Bill Number 2541, which provides for the confiscation of assets from corrupt officials. 

The Rada has also agreed to create a new agency for managing the return of stolen of assets, Ukrainska Pravda reports.

— Pierre Vaux

Ukraine Reports 52 Attacks, Heavy Weapons Usage And Tanks On The Move

The Ukrainian military claims this morning that Russian-backed forces have used heavy mortars to attack their positions and have moved tanks to the front.

According to the Ukrainian military, Russian-backed fighters conducted 52 attacks yesterday, with 33 occurring after 18:00. This is a significant escalation in violence with such numbers not reported since the beginning of the latest ceasefire at the end of August.

The ATO Press Centre reports that 120 mm mortars were used twice last night to attack Popasnaya, on the western fringes of the Lugansk region, near separatist-held Pervomaysk, and the neighbouring village of Boguslavskoye.

In the Donetsk area, the report claims that Russian-backed forces, using grenade launchers and heavy machine guns, fired 11 times on Peski, seven times on Opytnoye, four times on Marinka, and three times on Avdeyevka and Krasnogorovka.

Positions near Nevelskoye and Kamenka were fired-on with small arms while Verkhnotoretskoye came under fire from BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles and anti-aircraft artillery. There was also a grenade launcher attack on Ukrainian troops near Novgorodskoye, west of Gorlovka.


On the Azov coast, Russian-backed fighters reportedly attacked Ukrainian troops in Shirokino, east of Mariupol, with 82 mm mortars as well as grenade launchers and small arms.

Yesterday evening, 5 Channel reported that the village of Granitnoye, northeast of Mariupol, had been left without electricity after Russian-backed fighters blew up a substation.

According to Oleksandr Yurenko, a battalion commander in the 72nd Mechanised Brigade, Russian-backed fighters fired over the river Kalmius on the village with heavy machine guns and automatic grenade launchers. The attack coincided with the blast at the substation. Ukrainian troops believe it possible that the gun and grenade fire was a distraction to cover the saboteurs’ work.

Later this morning, the military warned that tanks had been recorded on the move in Donetsk.

According to the announcement, Ukrainian intelligence agents had spotted a column of 20 tanks near the Kalinin mine, just northeast of the city centre, and another 4 tanks on the front near Marinka. 

Last night Ukrainska Pravda was told by a front-line fighter that Ukrainian positions had come under fire from tanks and recoilless rifles. 

Meanwhile there are reports today of more military movements in separatist-held territory: 

In another worrying sign, the separatist-backed mayor of Debaltsevo, Alexei Granovsky, claimed that Ukrainian soldiers had attempted to break through the front line near the town this morning.

According to Granovsky, the attack lasted around an hour, during which the Ukrainians use heavy weaponry and small arms. 

According to the separatist Donetsk News Agency, around 20 shells, six of which were fired from 120 mm mortars, fell on separatist lines near Debaltsevo this morning. 

If the story is untrue then it may still represent the intent of the Russian-backed separatists to open up fighting again on this section of the front. 

With fighting reported at multiple points along the front line, claims of heavy weapons usage, territorial gains and attempted breakthroughs, the ceasefire that officially came into effect on September 1 seems to be over.

— Pierre Vaux