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Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing by UCC

1. Kremlin-backed Unrest in eastern Ukraine

Kremlin-backed armed “separatists” continue to occupy several state buildings and/or police headquarters in the cities of Donetsk, Horlivka, Slovyansk, Kramatorsk, Makiyivka, Mariupol, Yenakieve and Luhansk.  According to the State Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) the city of Sviatohirsk, Donetsk oblast, has been freed of armed “separatists,” as part of the anti-terrorism operation, the active phase of which resumed today; the SBU reports no casualties in Sviatohirsk. The SBU stated that “Carrying out the decisions of the Geneva agreements, all unlawful armed formations and citizens, who are illegally armed must desist and turn in their weapons. Otherwise law enforcement organs will use all available powers, means and opportunities to stop unlawful actions and to renew law and civil security.” The State Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) stated that according to the investigation into the murder of V. Rybak, a deputy of the Horlivka city council, whose body was discovered yesterday, a group led by a citizen of the Russian Federation, a lieutenant colonel of the Russian intelligence services – are suspected of the murder. According to several reports, three Ukrainian journalists are missing in Donetsk oblast. S. Ostrovsky, Vice News journalist who went missing yesterday, is reportedly being held by “separatists” in Slovyansk.

2. SBU head Nalyvaychenko: 100 Russian intelligence forces leading unrest in eastern Ukraine

In an interview with the Atlantic Council, the head of the State Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) stated that there are as many as 100 Russian military intelligence (GRU) and special forces troops leading the seizures of government buildings in the cities of eastern Ukraine. Nalyvaychenko also stated that three GRU officers and 21 of GRU networks are in the SBU’s custody and being interrogated in Kyiv.

3. Crimean Tatar leader banned from entering Crimea; Mejlis Presidium – Lawlessness in Crimea

Leader of the Crimean Tatar People, M. Dzhemiliev, has been banned from entering Crimea for 5 years. Dzhemiliev, a former Soviet dissident who spent some 15 years in Soviet labor camps, stated that in the last weeks representatives of many authoritative international organizations and diplomats have not been allowed into Crimea, and the decision on his banning, is nothing more than “an indicator of what kind of ‘civilized’ state we are dealing.” The Presidium of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People issued a statement “On the Escalation of Lawlessness in Crimea,” in which they stated that acts of “banditry and lawlessness, direct instructions from the Council of Ministers of Crimea on censorship in the media in covering the activities of the national self-government of the Crimean Tatars, Crimean Tatar public and political figures,” and the lack of results in the investigation of the murder of Reshat Ametov, “are considered by the Crimean Tatars as an act of deliberate government policy of repression against the indigenous people of Crimea…” The Presidium of the Mejlis demanded that the authorities “take measures to de-escalate the lawlessness in Crimea.”

4. Russian Foreign Minister: Russia will respond if interests threatened

As Ukrainian authorities re-launched the antiterrorism operation in eastern Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister S. Lavrov stated that “If our legitimate interests or the interests of Russians will be subjected to a direct threat, as happened in South Ossetia, I see no other way out but the answer in full compliance with international law. Attack on Russian citizens – is an attack on Russia.” It is not known whether Lavrov is aware of the fact that the Russian Federation has been in serious breach of international law for several weeks since its invasion of Crimea, and whether he is aware that it is in fact the Putin regime that is actively fomenting and supporting unrest and armed violence in eastern Ukraine.

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