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.
Today, another video has been uploaded to YouTube by a driver in
Donetsk who captured what appears to be the same Russian Grad convoy,
now in Donetsk itself. A copy of the video was uploaded to YouTube on November 1 with the title “Convoy of KAMAZes and Grads November 1.”
In the video, the driver says “This is Ilicha Avenue on November 1,
2014 at 16:34 Donetsk time.” A woman companion in the car then jokes
that he should give the time as Moscow time, because the self-declared
“Donetsk People’s Republic” has switched to Moscow time.
We have confirmed that the video was taken on Ilicha Avenue in Donetsk and does not appear in Google search before today.
Ilicha Avenue is the road from the Makeyevka Highway that leads into Donetsk. The convoy is going west on Ilicha Avenue.
At 0:36 we can see the “911” store which is a chain of liquor stores with branches in Donetsk, one of which is at 83v Prospect Avenue in Donetsk.
The location on Google Maps is here:
In 2011 when Google Street View filmed the area, this building contained a “Nasha Ryaba” store. But we can see the same distinctive loop in the roof of the store:
For further confirmation, note the Maestro furniture store with the
red sign on top, set back from the road, and the pedestrian cross-walk
at the streetlight, first in the video, then on Google Street View:
These are also visible in the video of the convoy, when the driver stops for pedestrians.
driver further notes he counted “about 60 vehicles” in the convoy and
his companion says “at least 47” but said he hadn’t started counting from the very
beginning of the convoy. Among them were a number of trucks carrying Grads.
Once again, it appears that a “humanitarian aid convoy” is brought into Ukraine at the same time as a military convoy is brought in, possibly serving as a decoy.
Western journalists also witnessed the military convoy:
According to Novorosinform, Maj.Gen. Igor Bezler, the notorious Russian major general who has led the Russian-backed separatist fighters in Ukraine, resigned from his position as commander of the “militia” of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” in Gorlovka, according to LifeNews, citing Bezler’s aide Vasilina. The Interpreter has translated the quotation:
“No one sent him into retirement,” Bezler’s assistant told LifeNews. But asked, “But did he leave himself?” she answered affirmatively. She did not cite the reason why Bezler left, but noted that he didn’t want to “get involved in politics.”
The “People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk” have scheduled elections for tomorrow.
Bezler became infamous when a video was uploaded to YouTube in April showing
how took over the police in the Ukrainian town of Gorlovka (Horlivka),
announcing that he was a lieutenant of the Russian army. The Ukrainian
government reported that they believed he was working in the GRU,
Russian military intelligence.
Recently after an absence from the battlefield in Moscow, he
returned with a promotion to major general for his services rendered to
“Novorossiya,” the name of the self-proclaimed territory which the
separatists hope to create.
Bezler was also scrutinized over a
conversation had admitted he had with fellow fighters about a “birdie”
shot down by his comrades the same day as the MH17 crash, which they
thought was a Ukrainian plane.
He was videotaped putting
Ukrainian POWs through fake executions, and is also believed to have
ordered real executions of persons arrested by the DPR.
On November 2, the blogger Colonel Cassad (Boris Rozhin, editor of Golos Sevastopolya) interviewed Col. Igor Strelkov, the former commander of the forces in the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ who was dismissed earlier this year.
Strelkov confirmed the resignation of Maj.Gen. Igor Bezler, and
said he was now “‘in the reserves’ on the peninsula,” i.e. Crimea.
Journalists in Donetsk today received invitations to a separatist press conference held in conjunction with a hitherto unheard-of body – the “Association for Security and Co-operation in Europe.”
This may sound familiar, because the name and the acronym the DNR (‘Donetsk People’s Republic’) have used (ASCE) are clearly intended to evoke that of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the OSCE.
The ASCE appears to have been invented so as to provide a veneer of legitimacy to the separatist ‘elections’ due to be held tomorrow in the occupied areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
While the identities of these “international observers” has yet to be disclosed, at least one MEP from the far-right Front National, Jean-Luc Schaffhauser, has been linked to the DNR ‘elections’.
The “Official website of the press centre of the government and Supreme Soviet of the DNR,” dnr.today, carries an announcement on the press conference, due to be held at 19:00 (17:00 GMT).
The announcement reads (translated by The Interpreter):
On November 1, observers from the Association for Security and Co-operation in Europe (ASCE) will hold a press conference in Donetsk. The Association for Security and Co-operation in Europe (ASCE) brings together representatives from the leading European states, whose aim is to monitor the electoral process with regards to legality, and the correspondence of the voting procedures with international democratic norms.
The international observers from the ASCE will assess the election campaign in the Donetsk People’s Republic and will also talk about the monitoring of the upcoming elections.
The ASCE representatives intend to monitor the electoral process as a short-term mission.
The issue of security at the upcoming elections will also be touched upon during the meeting.
On the day of the elections, the ASCE observers will be present at the opening of polling stations and they will also monitor the voting process and the counting of ballots.
There are numerous reports from journalists and residents in Donetsk of heavy fighting near the government-held airport to the north of the separatist-held city.
The intensification in the months-long battle for the airport comes on the day before the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk “People’s Republics” hold their own “elections” a week after Ukraine’s parliamentary votes.
The website of the mayor of Donetsk, Oleksandr Lukyanchenko, reported at 11:00 (9:00 GMT) that “powerful volleys from heavy artillery and explosions” could be heard in “all districts of the city.”
There were also reports that a large convoy of military vehicles, presumably (given their number and reported lack of license plates) Russian, headed towards Donetsk from the south-east.