Ukraine Liveblog Day 171: Barricades Burn Once Again As Authorities Try To Clear Maidan

August 7, 2014
A view towards Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kiev. Photo via Michael Bociurkiw

Yesterday’s liveblog can be found here. For an overview and analysis of this developing story see our latest podcast.

Please help The Interpreter to continue providing this valuable information service by making a donation towards our costs.

Here is a live stream from Maidan Nezalezhnosti by Spilno TV:

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

View Ukraine: April, 2014 in a larger map
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: Evidence Review: Who Shot Down MH17?

Below we will be making regular updates so check back often.

Could a Russian Invasion Come Via Chernihiv Region?

Reports in Russian-language Ukrainian news sites that are getting a lot of discussion on Ukrainian and Russian social media have identified a possible route for a Russian invasion — through Chernihiv Region — and a date — today, August 8.

The reports appeared in and, two sites that have been known sometimes for floating conspiracy theories that didn’t always pan out before, but which sometimes are early harbingers of what is to come.

The reason has seized on the idea of “August 8” as an invasion date is not only because of the Russian troops massed at the Ukrainian-Russian border right now, but because that was the date in August 2008 when Russia invaded Georgia. For weeks before that date, Russia buzzed its airplanes over Georgian territory, and for years had engaged in various provocations, including handing out Russian citizenship to people in Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia.

The armed conflicts in Georgia then and today in the Donbass are similar in that Russia used proxy rebel forces and also Chechen fighters in the original Vostok Batallion in Georgia. says a source within the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) has told them the following:

“At about noon on 8 August 2014, from the direction of Chernihiv, through the border crossings of Semenovka, Senkova, and Klyusy an invasion of forces of the Russian Federation is planned numbering 5-7 battalions of tactical groups.”

The source said the SBU garnered this informed from intercepts of radio and telephone communications among the fighters on Russian territory. Invasion with heavy armored vehicles and artillery is also planned.

“This is about 13,000-15,000 people, 50-70 units of heavy armored vehicles, 100-120 units of light armored vehicles, about 50 units of self-propelled artillery and the Grad system of volley fire.”

Obozrevatel said there wasn’t any confirmation of this information from any other sources. The border-crossings they indicate consist in some places such as Klyusy of a footpath through people’s gardens or crossing a river, so heavy equipment couldn’t be brought through there.


Semenovka is a large freight border crossing near the district center of the same name in Chernihiv Region, bordering the Russian crossing of Klimovo in Bryansk Region. Senkova is a village in Gorodnyansk District through which the main transport routes from Gostomel and Bryansk run to Chernihiv. There is a bordering crossing with a helicopter landing pad there where the presidents of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia would meet.


Stock photos of border crossings from

Yesterday we reported that Kharkiv Mayor Hennadiy Kernes engineered a decree by the city council recognizing his two business associates from the Russian Federation, one a senator, as “honorary citizens,” sparking fears of unrest and disbanding of the city council.

Interior Minister Aven Avakov protested the move, and now Kernes is under house arrest.His lawyer said the prosecutor issued a warrant for his arrest in relationship to a criminal investigation based on a complaint by an injured party, but they were not advised of it until Kernes’ arrest. Details of the charges are not know but there were reports in July that Kernes was being probed in regard to kidnapping, torture and threats of murder.

Russian Bombers Have Violated US Airspace 16 Times in 10 Days

Washington Times reports that Russian nuclear bombers have violated United States airspace at least 16 times in only 10 days.

During one bomber incursion near Alaska, a Russian intelligence-gathering jet was detected along with the bombers.

Separatists Damage Mi-8 Medical Helicopter, Force It Down

Earlier we carried reports that separatists have shot down a military airplane. Now there are reports that they’ve also hit an Mi-8 helicopter. Pravda reports (translated by The Interpreter):

On Thursday evening, fighters shelled a Mi-8 helicopter, Aleksei Dmitrashkovsky, ATO press officer, told Channel 5.

“The helicopter was shelled and made a forced landing,” he reported.

Dmitrashkovsky also emphasized that the place of the landing was not being reported “in order to preserve the life and health of the members of the crew and the people who were on board.”

“According to all international laws, shelling of such craft is prohibited,” he said.

Earlier Dmitry Tymchuk of Information Resist
ance had reported on Facebook that “they shot down an Mi-8 medical helicopter from the ATO forces, flying wounded persons under an agreement with the fighters.”

Ukrainian Jet Shot Down Northeast of Donetsk – Reportedly By a Buk
On the northeast corner of the self-declared ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ a Ukrainian aircraft has reportedly been shot down:

Translation: At 19:40 Moscow time before the eyes of a press group returning from Lugansk, an SU plane was shot down in the region of Zhdanovka about 40 km. from Donetsk.

Pravda provides more context (translated by The Interpreter):

Fighters have shot down a Ukrainian MiG-29 destroyer above Enakievo.

Valdislav Seleznyov, head of the ATO press center reported this to Ukrainska Pravda.

“About half an hour ago our destroy was shot down above Enakievo. Most likely it was shot down from the Buk anti-aircraft missile system,” he said.

“The pilot tried to steer the plane away from residential regions,” Seleznyov added.

According to him, the pilot survived. A search-and-rescue operation is now underway.

A Buk is, of course, the weapon that shot down MH17. As you can see from the map, this is not far from the MH17 crash site to the east and southeast.

Will Russia Invade Ukraine? New Interpreter Podcast
In this week’s The Interpreter podcast Boston College Professor Matt Sienkiewicz and The Interpreter’s managing editor James Miller are joined by The Interpreter’s editor-in-chief Michael Weiss to discuss the latest news from Ukraine.

The key questions on everyone’s mind — will Russia invade
Ukraine? What is Russia’s end game here? Why is Putin doing what Putin
is doing? And what does this all have to do with the shooting down of

Russian Armor Gifted to Separatists Passes Through Krasny Luch?

A convoy of what appear to be Russian military armor was spotted in Krasny Luch yesterday August 6.

The title of the video uploaded to YouTube August 6 says “Ukraine Krasny Luch Column of Russian terrorists with presents from fraternal Russia Lugansk.”

Krasny Luch is the town en route from the Russian border, if a crossing is made at Gukevo or another location along the Ukrainian-Russian border, passing through Antratsit, and then on toward the hub at Debaltsevo. It’s also about half an hour’s drive from Snezhnoye (Snizhne).


We were unable to geolocate the convoy to this town.

The elements of the convoy are interesting as they contain yellow buses that we have been seen before in separatist convoys, and also a long white truck with apparently a blue stripe covered with a tarp.

At 2:28 on this video, a truck can be seen similar to this one, apparently stolen by rebels, which was seen ferrying the Buk anti-missile system after the downing of MH17 on July 17.

Self-Declared Prime Minister of ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ Leaving His Post

RIA Novosti reports (translated by The Interpreter):

DPR Prime Minister Leaves Post, Sources Close to Government Report

Aleksandr Boroday, prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic is leaving his post on Thursday, and in his place will be Aleksandr Zakharchenko, one of the leaders of Oplot, reports citing sources close to the DPR government.

Boroday had no comment on this information. He told RIA Novosti that he is holding a press conference in Donetsk today.

Ukrainian Military Enters Another Suburb of Donetsk

One reason why Putin might be inspired to invade eastern Ukraine is because his allies are still rapidly losing territory, particularly in the self-declared ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ where the Ukrainian military is closing in on Donetsk, Ukraine’s fifth largest city.

This video, geolocated for The Interpreter by the blogger at Ukraine at War, shows Ukrainian troops rolling into Marinka (exactly here) today.

But Russian troops are also on the move. The blogger at Ukraine at War also sends us a video which shows a group of military vehicles loaded onto flatbed trucks. There is also a clearly illuminated street sign which places that video these vehicles in the Rostov-on-Don region, here, very close to Ukraine.


Russian-Backed Separatists In Transdniestrian Escalate Rhetoric on Ukraine

RFE/REL reports that Russian-backed separatists in Moldova are also elevating their rhetoric when it comes to Ukraine:

Pro-Russian separatists in Moldova’s breakaway region of Transdniester have reportedly put their security forces on alert because of what they say is a military threat from Ukraine and Moldova.

Transdniester’s Tiras news agency said on August 7 that separatists expected unspecified military activity starting from August 26, the day before Moldova’s independence day.

Moldovan authorities in response accused separatists of misinforming the public.

Tensions between Moldova and Transdniester have been on the rise since Moldova signed an Association Agreement in June with the European Union despite Russian opposition.

A brief background on the breakaway province of Transdniestria. The province is a thin sliver of land located just under the southern region of Ukraine, and is separated from the rest of Moldova by the Dniester River. After the fall of the USSR there was a small-scale war here which effectively ended in 1992 when Russian peacekeepers were deployed to a demilitarized zone as part of an agreement between the separatists, Moldova, and Moscow. In 1994 Moldova and Russia signed an agreement that should have seen Russian troops withdrawing. The troops, however, are still there because the Russian Duma never ratified the treaty. Since then Russia has committed to several more treaties, but again the Duma won’t ratify that portion of any of them.

It’s also worth mentioning that some of the leaders of the separatists in Ukraine, including the self-appointed acting prime minister of the self-declared ‘Donetsk People’s Republic,’ Vladimir Antyufeyev, are separatists from Transdniestria.

An Emergency Speech Scheduled By Putin?

The Mayor of Abakan, a small city in Russia, sent this tweet earlier:


Translation:  Today an emergency speech by president Vladimir Putin is expected at 20:30 on Rossiya. Notices have been sent to all affiliates of VGTRK (state TV and radio)

That tweet, however, was deleted.

Translation: As it turned out, the information potsed on was not confirmed. I removed my tweet with inaccurate information.

Svoboda Radio also had this information, however:

Translation: An emergency speech by Putin is expected on the channel Rossiya.

URA.RU, which may be the source for the whole story, originally posted this (translated by The Interpreter):

Attention! Putin will speak on television with an emergency address to the nation. “Everyone was afraid of this.”
07/08/2014 12:23

Today at 20:30 (most likely this is a reference to Urals time) the channel Rossiya is expecting an emergency broadcast of an address from President Vladimir Putin. As learned, notices were sent to all the affiliates of the VGTRK (All-Russian State Television and Radio Company) th
at at that time, nothing should be interfering on the air.

Sources believe that the president’s speech will be related to a decree on retaliatory measures regarding the West, under which the import of products from countries that have applied sanctions regarding Russia will be restricted; there is not yet any specific information about the address from the head of state. will keep its readers informed.

“Everyone was afraid of this”? Is URA suggesting that the speech may not have been about food imports at all? Since Friday we have been writing that Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine (though it’s unclear whether it will happen or not).
Yesterday NATO said the same thing. NATO also said that they have heard
reports that Russian military vehicles were marked with “peacekeeper” emblems. The Interpreter confirmed these reports by analyzing videos of the Russian troops on the border. Russia has threatened to intervene in Ukraine on humanitarian grounds, and yesterday the Russian defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, ordered all military “peacekeepers” to maintain combat readiness.

Would an emergency speech be a declaration of the start of a peacekeeping mission?

But it seems that the speech may have been scheduled but was cancelled. Svoboda said in a subsequent article that Putin’s office is disputing that there will be a speech:

According to a number of reports, the press service of the president of Russia has refuted the information about the emergency speech by Vladimir Putin.

And URA.RU now has this to say about the whole thing:

Second thoughts? Putin’s address to the nation will not take place. SCREENSHOT.

Putin’s speech may be cancelled. It may be delayed. It may happen just
as the original story suggests. We find it hard to believe that it was
never planned, since the information released was so specific. This all means that there may be a speech in the works, and perhaps the speech is supposed to come as a surprise?

Barricades Burn As Authorities Attempt To Clear Maidan

Police and volunteer troops from the Kyiv-1 battalion are attempting to clear Maidan Nezalezhnosti, the epicentre of the protests that led to the downfall of Viktor Yanukovych. 

The occupants of the square have set fire to barricades and are resisting attempts to remove their tents. A live stream from the square is embedded at the top of this page.

In Kiev they’re removing the barricades on Kreschatyk

UNIAN report that the plan to remove the Maidan camps was announced on July 9 by the Prosecutor General, Vitaliy Yarema. 

Yarema proposed to clear the central square and 19 buildings under occupation. He said that:

“We’re not dealing with Maidan, but with its cheap and dangerous imitation. They want to turn the symbol of the revolution into a caricature.”

Judging from tweets by many journalists and activists who had been supporters of the original Maidan protests, some Ukraine seem to regard the current occupants of the square with a certain degree of hostility.