14 октября 2014

THE CRISIS IN SOUTH-EAST UKRAINE: Executive Summary


 


 


1.         Historical Background


After the 1917 Russian revolution, several people's republics were proclaimed on the lands of the southern provinces of the Russian Empire. The Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Republic united all the territories of the Donetsk, Lugansk, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhye and Rostov regions, as well as certain parts of the Kharkov, Sumy, Kherson and Nikolayev regions.


In the process of the formation of the Soviet Union, the most of these territories became a part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (Ukrainian SSR). A policy of the "Ukrainization" of Russian population was proclaimed.


On March 17, 1991, in a Union-wide referendum, 70% of Ukrainian voters voted for the retention of the USSR. However, in a Republican referendum on December 1, 1991, the majority of citizens approved the Act of Declaration of Independence. The question of Ukraine's withdrawal from the Union was not asked, and the procedure for secession of a Union Republic from the USSR, stipulated by applicable law, was not observed. Independence, however, was immediately recognized by the international community.


In a referendum on March 27, 1994, in the Donetsk (72% turnout) and Lugansk (turnout 75%) regions their population voted the following proposals: granting the Russian language the status of a state language of Ukraine (results: in the Donetsk region: for – 87%, in the Lugansk Region: for – 90%); granting the Russian language the status of a state language in the Donetsk Basin (results: in the Donetsk region: for – 89%, in the Lugansk Region: for – 91%); signing the Charter of the CIS by Ukraine and its full participation in the Economic Union and the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the CIS countries (results: in the Donetsk region: for – 89%, in the Lugansk Region: for – 91%); federalization of Ukraine (results in the Donetsk region: for – 79%). Not a single item of this referendum was implemented.


2.         Anti-Constitutional Coup


In November 2013, the authorities' refusal to sign the EU Association Agreement provoked massive protests. The opposition launched a broad campaign in Kiev and other cities of the country against the decision of the authorities.


Formation of self-defence groups began. By mid-December, they included over 5 000 people. Radical nationalist groups formed an extremist association "Right Sector."


The clashes between police and protesters in mid-February saw over 80 killed and hundreds injured on both sides. An investigation into organizers and perpetuators of sniper fire on Euromaidan participants and police in Kiev on February 20 has never been completed.


As acknowledged by Scott Rickard, a former American intelligence officer, the United States and the European Union had been preparing Euromaidan for several years, and direct US government expenditures on the organization of these protests exceeded $ 5 billion.


On February 21, 2014 three opposition leaders Vladimir Klichko, Arseniy Yatseniuk and Oleg Tyagnibok and President Viktor Yanukovych signed an “Agreement on the Settlement of Crisis in Ukraine." It was also witnessed by foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland. The signing parties agreed upon the following: to restore the 2004 Constitution; to create a coalition and form a national unity government; to start immediately a constitutional reform and to complete it in September 2014 and hold presidential elections no later than December 2014; to refrain from the use of violence and investigate into recent acts of violence under joint monitoring by the authorities, the opposition and the Council of Europe.


A day after the agreement was signed radical groups stormed government buildings and announced that, instead of a national unity government, a “government of winners” would be formed. Once President Yanukovych went to Kharkov, his residence and government’s headquarters were seized.


On February 23, the Verkhovnaya Rada voted Alexander Turchinov acting President and abolished the law on the foundations of state language policy, according to which Russian had the status of a regional language in regions where it was the mother tongue of at least 10% of the population.


On February 24, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated: "The Verkhovnaya Rada rubber-stamps ‘decisions’ and ‘laws’ aimed at infringing the rights of Russians and other national minorities living in Ukraine."


On February 27, a provisional government was created. The new Kiev government was recognized by the European Union and the United States.


On February 28, acting President Turchynov vetoed Verkhovnaya Rada’s decision to abolish the language law. In addition, the deputies began to develop a new draft law that proclaims Ukrainian as the only state language.


 


 


 


3.         Facts of the War


On April 7, the Donetsk People's Republic was proclaimed. On the same day, in response to the occupation of government buildings by protesters in eastern Ukraine, acting President Turchynov announced the launch of an anti-terrorist operation (ATO) in the Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkov regions. At the airport in Donetsk, they recorded the arrival of an aircraft with some 150 foreign military men, presumably from American private military company «Greystone».


On April 12, Dmitry Yarosh urged all the structures of the "Right Sector" to prepare for the defence of the territorial integrity of Ukraine.


On April 13, at the outskirt of the city of Slavyansk, "Right Sector" gunmen opened fire on the militia. Acting PresidentTurchynov said that National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine (NCDCU) had decided to launch "a large-scale anti-terrorist operation involving the armed forces of the country." The decision was announced one day after CIA director John Brennan visited Kiev. Minister of Interior Arsen Avakov announced the establishment of Ministry’s Special Forces on the basis of civil groups.


On April 17, in Geneva a quadrilateral meeting of representatives of Russia, the USA, the EU and Ukraine agreed on initial steps to de-escalate tensions in the South-East of Ukraine. The agreement, inter alia, stipulated that all parties should refrain from any acts of violence, intimidation and provocation. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry declared that the Kiev authorities in order to implement the Geneva agreement were suspending the active phase of the ATO. However, this statement was immediately disowned by acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Andrey Deshchitsa who said that the military operation in eastern Ukraine would continue until a complete disarmament of the protesters.


On April 28, the Lugansk People's Republic was proclaimed.


On May 2, tragic events in the House of Trade Unions in the city of Odessa killed 48 people according to official figures (116 according to unofficial data). Most victims were burned alive or suffocated from gas poisoning. Ukrainian nationalists enthusiastically greeted the tragic events, calling them on their websites "the triumph of the Ukrainian spirit." The next day UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a prompt and thorough investigation into the circumstances of the tragedy.


In the night of 6 to 7 May, militia checkpoints at the entrance to the city of Mariupol were shelled. In the morning of May 7, the Ukrainian military and "Right Sector" gunmen took over the building of the City Council. During the assault, gas was used against people in the building.


On May 9, in Mariupol, the Ukrainian military and gunmen of the battalion "Dnepr" (formed in Dnepropetrovsk at the expense of Ukrainian oligarch Igor Kolomoisky) trying to storm the local headquarters of the branch of the Ministry of Interior, opened fire on an unarmed crowd and used heavy armoured vehicles and grenade launchers. 9 were killed and 42 injured.


On May 12, the self-proclaimed authorities of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics, guided by the results of a referendum, declared their sovereignty and expressed a wish to adhere to Russia, as well as to merge into the state of Novorossiya (New Russia) and join the Customs Union of the Eurasian Economic Community.


On May 13, near the city of Kramatorsk, the Ukrainian military in the course of an armed operation against the militia, violated an agreement with the UN by using three white-painted helicopters with United Nations symbols and identification marks.


In the night of 16 to 17 May, in Slavyansk, the Ukrainian military men used for the first time heavy artillery (howitzers) in the course of a punitive operation. Several shells hit residential neighbourhoods.


On May 24, the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics signed an agreement confirming their merger into one state Novorossiya.


On May 27, mayor of Donetsk Alexander Lukyanchenko confirmed the death of at least 40 people as a result of military operations at the Donetsk International Airport, which involved using combat aircraft of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.


On May 27, all Donetsk entrances and exits were blocked by Ukrainian forces that did not let go to the direction of Mariupol even intercity buses with people who were trying to leave the area of the military operation. A truck with the wounded was fired. The toll was from 24 to 35 killed.


On June 2, Ukrainian air forces raided the centre of Lugansk. The building of Lugansk Regional Administration headquarters was damaged. Bombs hit a square leaving 8 killed and 28 wounded by shrapnel. Several people died later in hospitals. On this day, a full-scale attack of Ukrainian troops on Slavyansk was launched.


On June 13, Ukrainian troops occupied Mariupol.


On June 23, in Donetsk, a trilateral commission held consultations on conditions for starting peace talks with the participation of Leonid Kuchma, Mikhail Zurabov, Heidi Tagliavini, Viktor Medvedchuk, Oleg Tsarev and Alexander Borodai. The participants agreed to a cease-fire until June 27.


On July 1, President Poroshenko announced the termination of the truce.


On July 2, in Berlin, a quadripartite meeting of foreign ministers of Russia, Germany, Ukraine and France adopted a package of measures that should lead to a truce.


On July 8, Ukraine’s Defence Minister Heletei said that the military controlled by Kiev would agree to stop the "special operation" only if the militia lay down arms.


On July 17, Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 airliner crashed.


On July 21, Ukrainian forces attempted to assault Donetsk using tanks.


On August 10, an attack of Ukrainian troops on the city of Ilovaysk was repulsed.


On August 11, Western countries in the UN Security Council blocked a draft statement proposed by Russia to observe a truce in the location in Ukraine where the Malaysian Boeing crashed.


On August 23, the rebels launched a large-scale counter-offensive in the south, complicating the situation of the Ukrainian armed forces.


4.         The Minsk Agreement


The Minsk Agreement waspreceded by a telephone conversation of 3 September between Presidents Putin and Poroshenko. By this time, President Putin had prepared a plan to stabilize the situation in Ukraine:



  1. Active offensive operation of armed formations of south-eastern Ukrainian militiamen should be stopped on the Donetsk and Lugansk directions.

  2. Ukrainian armed forces must be pulled out far enough to rule out shelling of cities and villages by artillery and all kinds of multiple launch rocket systems.

  3. Full and fair implementation of international control is necessary in order to ensure that the conditions of the cease-fire are observed and to monitor the situation emerging in the security zone.

  4. Combat aircraft should not be used against civilians and settlements in the conflict zone.

  5. Exchanges of people detained by force should be organized via an "all-for-all" formula, without preconditions.

  6. The Ukrainian authorities should open humanitarian corridors for refugees and the delivery of humanitarian cargoes to the cities and villages in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

  7. Repair crews should be dispatched to the affected localities in the Donetsk Basin to restore the destroyed social and life-support infrastructures and to assist them in preparing for the winter.


The Minsk Ceasefire Agreement was reached on September 5 and formalized as the Minsk Protocol drawn up by the Trilateral Contact Group on joint steps aimed at implementing a peace plan of Ukrainian President Petr Poroshenko and initiatives of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The protocol consists of 12 items:



  1. To ensure an immediate bilateral ceasefire.

  2.  To ensure the monitoring and verification by the OSCE of the ceasefire.

  3. To decentralize power, inter alia, through the adoption of a Ukrainian "Law on Provisional Arrangements for Local Governance in Certain Areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions" (Special Status Law).

  4. To ensure permanent monitoring of the Ukrainian-Russian border and verification by the OSCE with the creation of security zones in the border regions of Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

  5. To immediately release all hostages and illegally detained persons.

  6. To adopt a law on preventing the prosecution and punishment of persons in connection with the events that have taken place in certain areas of Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

  7. To continue an inclusive all-national dialogue.

  8. To take measures to improve the humanitarian situation in the Donetsk Basin.

  9. To ensure early local elections in accordance with the Ukrainian "Law on Provisional Arrangements for Local Governance in Certain Areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions" (Special Status Law).

  10. To withdraw illegal armed groups, military equipment, as well as gunmen and mercenaries from Ukraine.

  11. To adopt a program of economic recovery and reconstruction of the Donetsk Basin.

  12. To provide personal security for the participants of consultations.


The protocol was signed by Russian Ambassador to Ukraine and Russian representative Mikhail Zurabov, Former President of Ukraine and Ukrainian representative Leonid Kuchma, and Swiss diplomat and OSCE representative Heidi Tagliavini. Once the document was signed, the ceasefire came into force on the same day at 6 p.m. local time.


On September 16, the Ukrainian parliament adopted an amnesty law and a law on special powers of local authorities in certain areas of the Donetsk Basin. The special status law stipulates that local authorities are empowered to conclude with central authorities agreements on economic, social and cultural development and to appoint jointly public prosecutors and judges. The law also provides for the creation of a voluntary people's militsiya, guarantees the freedom to use any language and encourages cross-border cooperation with Russia.


On September 19, a follow-up memorandum to the Minsk Protocol was agreed. It consists of nine items and includes provisions aimed at implementing a general truce, creating a 30-kilometre safety zone on the current line of contact, withdrawing heavy weaponry from this zone and settlements, and setting up an OSCE monitoring mission.


On September 26, Russian Permanent Representative to the OSCE Andrey Kelin said that heavy weaponry had been partially withdrawn from the contact line between the armed forces and militias in eastern Ukraine. He added that the intensity of shelling had been reduced on both sides, including the Ukrainian side, by a factor of two to three as compared to the period before the Minsk memorandum was signed.


5.         The Situation after the Minsk Agreement


On September 22, Ukrainian deputies to the Verkhovnaya Rada proposed to abolish the special status and amnesty laws. On September 25, Alexander Turchinov requested the Parliament’s Procedural Committee to verify the procedure for adopting the laws on the special status of certain regions of Donetsk Basin and on amnesty.


The school year in Donetsk began on October 1 with the deaths of a teacher and a teenager and the wounding of three people as a result of shelling School No 57 by Ukrainian army. A shell also hit a public transport stop at the Kiev Avenue killing eight. On the same day, a missile from a Smerch multiple rocket launcher hit another school in Donetsk killing four.


"We are very concerned of the reports of violence we have seen over the last two days. The shelling of the school is particularly alarming. Targeting of schools is unacceptable in any circumstances," said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.


On October 1, member of the Liberal Democratic Party faction in the State Duma Mikhail Degtyarev requested the head of the Investigative Committee of Russia to investigate the involvement of Dmitry Yarosh, Igor Kolomoisky and Yulia Timoshenko into the creation of military camps and recruitment of Russian youth. In his opinion, Ukrainian politicians recruit Russian youth to participate in a special operation in the southeast and also to train gunmen for an insurgency in Russia.


On October 3, a Red Cross specialist, a Swiss citizen, was killed in a massive shelling of Donetsk by the armed forces. His death caused a wide resonance in the West and the limitation of Red Cross activities in the conflict zone.


There are daily reports from the Donetsk and Lugansk regions on shelling residential areas and 10 to 20 people killed every day.


On October 10, Prime Minister of Donetsk People's Republic Alexander Zakharchenko announced that the Republic had signed an agreement with Kiev authorities on the establishment of a “buffer zone” separating the belligerents. The document stipulates that Kiev-led forces will pull out from several towns, including Peski, while retaining control of the cities of Mariupol, Kramatorsk and Slavyansk.


Despite the announced "days of silence", the punitive military operation has not stopped. There are fights for the airport of Donetsk, including the use of heavy equipment by the punishers.


On October 11, the Russian Defence Ministry announced the completion of field training exercises in the Rostov region and the withdrawal of troops from the Ukrainian border.


On October 13, there was an attempt on the life of the leader of the organization "Novorossiya", former people’s governor of the Donetsk Region Pavel Gubarev.


On October 14, the anniversary of the UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army that fought on the side of the Nazis in World War II), 8000 radical nationalists took part in the "march of UPA glory" and gathered in front of the Parliament to demand the recognition of their organization. President Poroshenko declared October 14 the National Day of Ukraine’s defender. On the same day, he signed a law on the special status of the Donetsk Basin.


On October 14, the President of South Ossetia signed a decree on the recognition of the DPR and LPR.


On November 2, the population of the DPR will elect the head of the Republic and deputies to the People's Council of the Republic.


6.         Victims, Destructions and Refugees


According to UN estimates as of October 6, the toll of the conflict is over 3600 civilians killed and over 8700 injured.


UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons Chaloka Beyani says that the number of displaced persons in Ukraine may reach 900000.


The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported earlier that damage inflicted to Donetsk and Lugansk infrastructure by shelling and bombing was estimated at $ 440 million. During the conflict, at least 1969 sites were damaged, including 659 public buildings, 1230 private homes and 178 offices.


In October, the Lugansk People's Republic awaits the arrival of the next, the fourth humanitarian convoy from Russia.


According to various sources, during the "truce" 100 to 300 civilians were killed in the zone of punitive operations.


7.         New Evidences of Crimes


On September 23, information was received that the militia discovered burials in the area of the coal mine number 22 "Kommunar" near Donetsk. The examination found that these people were shot in the head at close range. Somewhat later several other graves were found. Among the dead, bodies of militiamen with signs of torture were found and identified by their relatives.


About 400 unidentified bodies are in the morgue of Donetsk. Outside of this city mass graves of civilians had been discovered, said on September 30 Latvian human rights activist Einars Graudins who visited sites of mass graves in a group of eight experts from different EU countries, accompanied by representatives of the DPR and LPR. "The bodies lie under a thin layer of earth. You can see that the bodies of those killed were hastily thrown into the pit. Exhumation process at the site is carried out by DNR law enforcement officers; they document the extraction of each body, examine it and sent it to the morgue. (...) The villagers accuse mercenaries from "Azov" and "Donbas" battalions of gang-raping every single local woman, including 12-year-old girls and elderly women."


On September 27, journalist Anatoly Nesmeyan (El Murid) reported the discovery of an illegal SBU prison near Kiev. According to its former prisoner, "... an illegal SBU prison is located outside Kiev on a territory of an active military unit, close to a water reserve and a great shooting range. It accommodated at one time up to two dozen prisoners. Most of the time they were detained in concrete cells 2 to 3 meters in the open air... The unit at least once was visited by a foreign delegation. Military personnel were aware of the illegal existence of the SBU prison in their unit. Probably there were shootings: in the night of 7 to 8 June, several prisoners were taken away; their departure was accompanied by shouts, someone attempted to escape; these people have never come back. "


On September 29, the Investigative Committee of Russia launched a case of genocide of the Russian-speaking people in the south-east of Ukraine.


The Investigative Committee said that Grad and Uragan multiple launch rocket systems, free-flight aerial rockets with cluster-munitions dispensers, Tochka-U missile systems, and other  heavy indiscriminative weapons were used during the attacks that claimed the lives of over 2500 people.


On October 2, Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said that the Committee has launched a criminal case against Ukrainian Defence Minister Valery Heletei, Ukrainian Chief of General Staff Viktor Muzhenko, Commander of the 25th Brigade of Ukraine's Armed Forces Oleg Mykasa, as well as other so far unidentified individuals among commanders of the 93rd Brigade and a number of Ukraine's highly-ranked military officials. They are accused of murder and use of prohibited means and methods of warfare and genocide. The Committee also charged “Dnepr” battalion soldier S. Litvinov with killings of civilians and Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko with aiding the murder of two VGTRK journalists.


 


8.         Charges Brought forward by Western Countries Concerning the Presence of Russian Troops on the Territory of Ukraine Remain without Evidence


On September 26, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the OSCE Andrey Kelin said: "OSCE officials said in an interview with the Western press that they had no evidence of the presence of regular Russian troops in Ukraine. The OSCE forum on security and cooperation brings together military experts. Present to this forum all that you have – materials, photographs, testimonies, we are ready to examine each case. We propose to use appropriate arrangements to look into questions brought forward by our partners."


On September 29, Chairman of the State Duma Sergei Naryshkin addressed the President of the PACE and leaders of political groups of the Assembly: "The international blackmail of my country has exceeded all possible limits. But Russia has never been a party to the internal conflict in Ukraine. At the same time, the Kiev authorities who have already committed many crimes (just remember the exculpation of butchers of the Odessa Khatyn or recently uncovered mass graves belonging to tortured and executed by shooting people!) have neither been subject to sanctions nor even to verbal denunciation by European politicians.”


"Today, when a fierce fire is blazing on the soil of brotherly Ukraine, we spare no pains to put it out. However, my country has been continuously accused of the crimes it did not and will never commit. And to make these lies look more credible, they are propagated, including through European parliamentary organizations.”


 


 


9.         Destruction of Temples and other Crimes against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.


On May 26, during the shelling of Slavyansk by the National Guard, a mortar shell killed a woman near the Church of the Sovereign Icon of the Mother of God. Windows were broken, the facade was damaged and the church fence was destroyed.


At Whitsun, June 8, the Church of the Holy Spirit in the centre of Slavyansk found itself under fire.


On the night of June 16, the Church of St. Seraphim of Sarov in the village of Cherevkovka was hit. The gatehouse and the refectory were completely destroyed. At the same day, the Ukrainian army shelled the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral of Slavyansk and the adjusting area.


On June 19, the Church of St. Barsonophios of Kherson (of the Moscow Patriarchate) was completely destroyed in the city of Kherson. Leader of the Union of Orthodox Citizens of Ukraine Valery Kaurov said: "This temple-chapel was demolished by “Right Sector” militants who used bats and crowbars to just smash everything." A local Kherson Internet site reports that the wooden church building was burned down in an arson attack, and police launched an investigation.


Also on June 19, Ukrainian punishers shelled in Slavyansk the Resurrection Church of 18th century. Here, at one time stayed and served St. John of Kronstadt. The shelling of the city began at 6 a.m. from the mountain of Karachun. Shells hit right next to the temple, one flying a feet or two away from the dome, the second exploding on the road near the territory of the church, and the third ripping a central gas pipeline near the lake. A guard was killed. The entire southern facade of the church was knocked up.


On July 31, a clergyman of the Church of St. George in the Lugansk diocese, Archpriest V.Kreslyansky died from wounds received during the shelling of residential neighbourhoods in Lugansk. Five children became orphans.


On August 1, Metropolitan Onufriy of Chernovtsi and Bucovina addressed an open letter to President Poroshenko, describing attacks by armed persons on the clergy of the Donetsk diocese, including beatings and threats of physical violence. "In the Amvrosievka district, Archpriest E.Podgornyi was tied and beaten with a rifle butt. They ripped off his priestly cross, shot over his head; put him into a pit and threatened to kill his son. Many similar reports come from other dioceses as well. For example, near Slavyansk armed individuals made Archpriest V.Yablonovskiy dig his own grave. On the same day, archpriest V.Stratovich was handcuffed and taken away with a bag on his head into the woods. They brought him to his knees and interrogated in this position. "


On August 5, the Holy Synod’s information service issued a statement saying that the temples of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) and its clergy are increasingly becoming victims of targeted attacks by the Greek Catholics and dissenters.


On August 16, on the eve of the enthronement of the primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Onufriy, radical nationalists disrupted service at the Church of Holy Protection and St. Tikhon and, under the threat of violence, gave Father Vladimir one week to leave Ukraine.


September 25, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations, said that the seizure of churches in Ukraine should not be left without a response from the authorities and reported that supporters of the schismatic Kiev Patriarchate (KP) with the participation of nationalists captured an Orthodox church in the village of Hodosy. He added that KP’s jurisdiction will be extended soon to include a church in the village of Korytnoe in the Chernovtsi and Bukovina diocese (churches in two neighbouring villages have been already "transferred" under the jurisdiction of the KP, despite the protests of their parishioners).


Experts say that Ukraine purposefully persecutes the UOC clergy. Over 60 attacks on priests have been registered, and several parishes have undergone a massive artillery bombardment. Recently, a church in the city of Gorlovka in the Donetsk region was destroyed. Three clergymen were killed during fighting.


Since September 25, National Guards have been shelling the positions of Novorossiya’s army from the Holy Iversky Orthodox Convent seized by them near the Donetsk airport. The temple is desecrated. The guards have fired on positions of the militia and the outskirts of Donetsk, taking advantage of the situation when the militia would not shell the convent. Previously, the convent was repeatedly shelled by the artillery of territorial battalions.


10.       Crimes against Journalists.


In the first half of 2014, the International News Safety Institute (INSI) for the first time recognized Ukraine as the most dangerous country for journalists’ work. From January to June 2014, seven journalists were killed in Ukraine, including five in the last two months only. Out of 300 cases of journalists’ harassment in Ukraine, only four were taken to court.


On September 29, media organizations in Russia and Ukraine issued a joint statement in which they condemned deaths, beatings and detention of media professionals in the war zone in the east of Ukraine. The Ukrainian National Union, the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine and the Russian Union of Journalists "find the obstruction of journalists’ professional activities unacceptable and call for an immediate investigation into the deaths of all journalists, as well as for an immediate release of all detained media workers."


Since May 2014, the following journalists were killed: A.Rokelli, A.Mironov, A.Voloshin, I.Kornelyuk, A.Klyan and A.Stenin. Dozens of journalists were injured. Dozens were detained, among them Yu.Lelyavsky, R.Cheremsky, V.Makeev, E.Vorobiev, A.Bilokobylsky and S.Sakadynsky who are still kept in custody.


On September 21, as a result of an exchange of prisoners between the Ukrainian army and the militia, channel "First Crimean" freelance correspondent A.Mohova was freed. She was detained on August 24 by the Ukrainian military on suspicion of an alleged transfer of information to Russian secret services.