Ukraine Live Day 643: Officials Say Repairs of Lines to Take 4 Days; Negotiations with Demonstrators Stall

November 22, 2015
Pylons in Kherson Region damaged by an explosion, knocking out power to Russian-occupied Crimea. Ukrainian protesters had organized a blockade of traffic nearby, demanding release of political prisoners, an end to the free economic zone, and a return of the Crimea to Ukraine. Photo via

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Ukrenergo Officials Say Repairs of Damaged Electrical Lines to Take 4 Days, But Negotiations with Demonstrators Stall

Yesterday, as we reported, an explosion occurred at power lines in Kherson Region, the second in recent days, cutting power to Crimea. This happened as a “citizens’ blockade” stopped traffic into Crimea.

Law-enforcers clashed with demonstrators but eventually obtained an agreement to allow repairmen through — only to have a second explosion occur at the lines.

As reported (translation by The Interpreter)

Earlier the Crimean Tatar journalist Osman Pashayev reported that [regional governor] Kiva and 70 National Guardsmen with machine guns and the Kherson battalion stormed the participants of the blockade in Chaplinka who were preventing the repair of damaged electrical pylons, and the police were detaining anyone who supported the action.
During the night, the activists were expected a storm, and in Kiev, protesters went to the presidential administration to prevent bloodshed in Kherson Region. During the conflict, police struck a journalist with a rifle butt and one of the protesters, according to Kiva, attacked a police colonel with a knife in order to grab his weapon. After talks at the presidential administration, Musta Dzhemilev, a member of parliament and the presidential commissioner for Crimean Tatar affairs announced that the clash between the blockade participants and law-enforcers primarily occurred due to misunderstanding.

The protesters were widely believed to be responsible for setting an explosion at the pylons but no evidence has been supplied for this and police have not yet made arrests. 

The blockade, organized by Right Sector, radical ultraright nationalists, and Crimean Tatars banned from Crimea, has had some sympathy but not wide support in Ukraine and has drawn some criticism as a tactic.
But Crimean Tatars have continued to support it because nothing else is working to stop the jailing and killing of their people, who have largely waged a non-violent struggle for decades to claim the right to return to their homeland, honored by the past Ukrainian government, albeit with some difficulties, but impeded by the current Russian occupation authorities in Crimea.
Mustafa Dzhemilev, the past leader of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, or assembly, and currently a member of parliament and the presidential commissioner for Crimean Tatar affairs, has put the situation in more acute terms now:
Translation: Ukraine must cut of all ties with Russia – Dzhemilev.

Note: the web site of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group is currently inaccessible.

The Kremlin state media and notably the Kremlin’s propaganda arm for foreigners has claimed that the “citizens’ blockade” activists, who were able to stop food trucks into Crimea and drive up food prices 10%, are also responsible for the explosion, although Ukrainian media has not reported this nor have blockade participants been arrested.

Ukrainian police have opened up investigations to the explosion at the plant and the injury to the journalist and policeman.

The Ukrainian news has broadcast pictures of activists from the scene where Ukrainian flags have been flown alongside the damaged pylons.

Translation: The Blockade of the Crimea has begun working in full force: the peninsula is completely without power, occupation forces…

The negotiations appear to have stalled because protesters are now focusing on their treatment by police  — they say they have found that the policeman who stormed their camp appears to be a policeman who threw grenades at Maidan demonstrators a year ago.  

So now they are demanding the police step back before they provide access to the pylons. 

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick