Ukrainian Liveblog Day 89: Shelling and Sleepless Nights

May 17, 2014
Ukrainian soldiers and police take position at a checkpoint near the eastern Ukranian city of Slavyansk on 15 May 2014 (AFP Photo / Vasily Maximov)

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

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An interactive map of the situation:

View Ukraine: April, 2014 in a larger map

For links to individual updates click on the timestamps.

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Battles in Slavyansk and Kramatorsk

There have been battles in both Slavyansk and Kramatorsk, two neighboring towns held by Russian-backed separatists. A Reddit forum shares two of the reports:
Crimean Tatars to Rally Despite Official Ban

The Mejlis, the Crimean Tatars’ main representative body, announced that it was calling off a large ceremony in Simferopol 18 May to commemorate 70 years since their brutal forced exile by Stalin, RFE/RL reported.

But they will hold events other number of towns across the occupied peninsula, Deutsche Welle reported.


And in Simferopol, there will be a memorial rally in the Salgirka Park in Akmechet near the railway station at 13:00. The Interpreter has translated the DW report:

“According to Refat Chubarov, head of the Mejlis, Crimean Tatars are ready to take part in mass actions on the event of the 70th anniversary of the deportation, despite the ban by authorities. He also noted that mass meetings have taken in place in the Crimea from 1-9 May, although during these days, the situation in southeastern Ukraine has remained tense, UNIAN reported.

For his part, Mustafa Cemilev, leader of the Crimean Tatars and deputy of the Ukrainian Rada, was certain that representatives of his people will gather 18 May in the center of simferopol desite the Mejlis decision. ‘People will go to the center of Simferopol in any event, most are so minded,’ he said in an interview with LigaBiznesInform.”

The cancellation of the main event came after self-proclaimed Crimea leader Sergei Aksyonov issued a ban on all public gatherings until 6 June, citing violence in southeast Ukraine as the reason.

Refat Chubarov, chairman of the Mejlis, described the decree as “an inhuman act.”

In 1944, Stalin ordered more than 200,000 Crimean Tatars to be packed into cattle cars and forcibly deported to Central Asia. The Soviet dictator suspected some Crimean Tatars of helping Germans, but in fact many Crimean Tatars fought in World War II on the Soviet side.


About half the population died from beatings and starvation.

In the 23 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, they have made their way back to their historical homeland in Crimea, but have had little support from authorities. Since the forcible takeover of Crimea, Crimean Tatars have experienced intimidation campaigns, arson of some of their properties, and the abduction and murder of one man who attended a rally. Hundreds of families have fled, and former Mejlis leader Mustafa Cemilev has now been banned from returning to Crimea.

Separatists Reportedly Shoot Passenger Car, Killing 1
Russian-backed separatists are reported to have shot four people in Lugansk with one fatality, according to

On the road leading to the village of Yubileyny, unidentified gunmen turned automatic weapon fire on a passenger car, killing one and injuring three.

According to, police said the driver had refused to stop at a checkpoint.

The driver reportedly died at the scene, and a heavily-wounded passenger was taken to the hospital. In addition, two women pedestrians nearby, age 47 and 27, were also injured. The Interpreter has translated the police statement:

“According to preliminary information, the Chevrolet was traveling toward Lugansk. At an unauthorized checkpoint set up at the crossroads of Obvodnaya and Azovskaya streets, armed persons tried to stop the car. The driver did not stop and the armed people began chasing him in a grey VAZ-3110 automobile. As they gave chase, the armed persons opened fire on the car in the area of the Gayevoi ring road, and then near the village of Yubileyny, they caught up with the vehicle and strafed it.”

Shelling Overnight in Slavyansk

As we reported last night, there was a heavy exchange of fire in Slavyansk.

At least one amateur video uploaded 16 May from an estimated three kilometers’ distance purports to show the shelling in Slavyansk overnight but it is difficult to confirm the location.

The TV channel of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” in Slavyansk has posted a news video today on shelling in the city. The video shows an area separating the positions of the Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian Army, where a reporter says Ukrainian forces allegedly fired on some train cars, causing extensive damage. The Interpreter has translated an excerpt:

Explosions and shells were heard throughout the night in various districts. Many residents did not sleep because they were afraid that ordnance could explode near their homes. On the other side of Slavyansk, shards landed on the road of one residential building. It is now relatively quiet in Slavyansk. No explosions have been heard. Only a few people are out on the street, all the stores are closed, commuter vans are running. No wounded were brought to the hospital as a result of the shelling. Local residents, fearing new shelling, taped crosses on their window so that the sound waves would not shatter windows.