Pro-Russian gunmen take their position at a checkpoint outside Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, 2014. Photo: AP

The VoxUkraine Brief: The Victims of War

#VoxUkraine weekly selection of best articles on Ukraine.

By Oleksanr Zholud, VoxUkraine Editorial Board, Nataliia Shapoval, VoxUkraine,

with the help of Volodymyr Bilotkach, VoxUkraine Editorial Board

produced by Kseniya Alekankina

This week has illuminated the hidden tragedies of the victims of war in the Eastern Ukraine. Two Russian soldiers were captured in the frontline Ukrainian city. They confessed serving in Russian Federation special forces and being on spying mission in Ukraine, but Moscow is not planning to save them or admit violation of the Minsk agreement again. Amnesty International report “Ukraine: Breaking Bodies: Torture and Summary Killings in Eastern Ukraine” draws the harrowing picture of the war crimes committed by the soldiers of both sides. Macroeconomic situation is also far from stable: inflation reached it`s peak — 60.9% yoy — of 1996, and the Parliament and the Government attempts to strengthen Ukraine’s hand in negotiations with creditors haven`t yet proved to be effective.

Amnesty international report provides evidence of the war crimes in Eastern Ukraine

On May 22 Amnesty International published report “Ukraine: Breaking Bodies: Torture and Summary Killings in Eastern Ukraine”, where they present the results of 33 interviews with former prisoners, 17 of whom were held by separatists, and 16 — by pro-Kyiv military and police forces, including the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). The report says that both sides are perpetrating war crimes on a near-daily basis, subjecting civilian and military captives alike to savage beatings, torture with electric shocks, kicking and stabbings.

Amnesty International report:

The Telegraph summarises the findings and notes that both, Ukrainian authorities and special battalions like Right Sector, and separatists leaders, reject accusations of the report. However, the Security Service of Ukraine claimed their readiness to investigate all the cases.

Russian Soldiers captured in the eastern Ukraine are abandoned by Russia and can be prosecuted by Ukraine

Two Russian soldiers were wounded and taken prisoner near the frontline town of Shchastia in the Luhansk region on Saturday, May 16. They can be prosecuted for terrorism. The Security Service of Ukraine promulgated the testimonies of the captured soldiers where they confess in being citizens and servicemen of Russian Federation on a special mission since April and March. The Security Service confirmed that soldiers belong to special forces of RF.

Explanation of the soldiers (with ENG subtitles):

The Guardian points that Moscow is still denying presence of the Russian troops in Eastern Ukraine, as well as that it has been supplying Russian-backed separatists either with weapons or troops.

Reuters cites Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pavlo Klimkin, saying that “Russian officers tried to kill their own people as soon as they understood they were caught by the Ukrainian military,” Klimkin told reporters, and points at the embarrassment of Vladimir Putin, as this time he can not say that Russian soldiers simply “got lost” to the United States and its European Union allies who are pressing Moscow to fully implement the Minsk peace accords.

Meanwhile, the war rages on

There are everyday artillery shelling, which wound and kill both soldiers and civilians. On May 23, the Avdiyivka coke factory, which produces almost half of Ukraine’s coke, has been halted after separatists’ artillery scored several hits. The coke is needed for producing steel, the largest industrial export for the country (roughly 1/4th of export revenues).

Photo

In Alchevsk, which is part of the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic, a local commander Aleksey Mozgovoi was assassinated by an unknown militia group. Separatists in Luhansk blame Ukrainian authorities, whiley the latter assume that the killing was made by Russians in order to consolidate power in the self-proclaimed republic. Members of his brigade, in this video (with English subtitles) didn’t clearly name the enemy. Just a few days before his death Mozgovoi gave an interview to the Independent.

“Arkadic” and “Dobrii” statement on the murder of Mozgovoy (with ENG subtitles):

Death of the “novorossiya” project

It appears that the “novorossiya” project — Putin’s sick fantasy of creating a new country, which would include most of the Eastern and Southern Ukraine, denying Ukraine access to the Black Sea and establishing a corridor to “Transdnistria” (yet another lawless territory facilitated by Russia) — has been shut down. Oleg Tsarev, speaker of what separatists call the joint parliament of the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics,” announced on May 20 that the activity of all Novorossia structures had been “frozen” in apparent compliance with the Minsk peace accord aimed at ending hostilities in eastern Ukraine.

Debt restructuring saga continues

In order to increase pressure on bondholders, on May 19 Ukrainian parliament adopts a law that allows the government to stop servicing its external debts. This can be viewed as an additional trump card in the negotiations. A possible payment ban is right, not an obligation, as shown by the scheduled payment on USD 1bn Eurobonds made on May 20. The IMF calls the authorities to speed up the process, otherwise the 2nd tranche of the EFF program, adopted in March might be postponed.

In the meantime, on May 6, the State Statistics Service of Ukraine (Ukrstat) published inflation figures for April, which showed that Consumer Price Index, a standard measure for inflation, accelerated to a multi-decade high of 60.9% year-on-year. The last time Ukraine had such a high annual inflation was in September 1996, the birth month of the Hryvnia. After the adoption of hryvnia, Ukraine never had annual inflation higher than 30%, except for two brief periods, in late 2000, and mid-2008.

By Nikolay Myagkiy, VoxUkraine, Olena Bilan, Dragon Capital and VoxUkraine, explain Why did it happen? What does it mean? And what needs to be done?

One way, which is discussed, to control the inflation would be establishment of the Currency Board. Yuriy Gorodnichenko, UC Berkeley and VoxUkraine explains why this an inferior solution.


Also this week on VoxUkraine

Corruption Risks Ranking of Institutions Awarding Academic Degrees in Economics. View of the Editorial Board of VoxUkraine:

Land Market: A Step Forward
By Denys Nizalov, University of Kent, Oleg Nivyevskiy, Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting, Sergey Kubakh, Land Governance Expert:

New Social Contract for Ukraine
By Violeta Moskalu, Ph.D in Management & Governance, University of Lorraine (France)


Have a great week!

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