Tag Archives: RIA Novosti

OSCE observers released in Slavyansk arrive in Berlin

OSCE observer Axel Schneider leaves the plane in Berlin’s Tegel airport, May 3, 2014.

Military OSCE observers captured by anti-Kiev activists in Slavyansk on April 25 have been released and delivered to Donetsk. Most of them have flown to Berlin.

A German government plane carrying seven of the freed OSCE observers, four of whom are German, landed at Berlin’s Tegel Airport at around 9 p.m. local time, Bild reports. They were welcomed by Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen.

Earlier on Saturday the Russian president’s representative Vladmir Lukin said that “All 12 people I have on the list were freed.”

Last week, the military observers were captured by anti-Kiev protesters who accused them of espionage. Earlier one of the detained – a Swedish officer suffering from diabetes – was released.

Lukin stressed the release of the observers wasn’t a bargain. “It was a voluntary humanitarian act, and we’re very grateful for it to those controlling the city,” he said.

Lukin has delivered the OSCE observers to Donetsk and they have met with representatives of the Council of Europe, according to the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the OSCE.

“As soon as they are transferred to the representatives of the Council of Europe, we’ll be able to say that the mission is over,” Lukin said earlier.

On the way to Donetsk their car came under fire, but all of them are fine, one of Lukin’s colleagues, who was with the observers in Slavyansk, Evgeny Kozhokin, told RIA Novosti.

The OSCE observers were treated well in captivity, Col. Igor Turansky, head of the Ukrainian military mission to the OSCE, said after arriving at Kiev airport from Donetsk.

“There are no injuries, all was well. [We were] given food, water, sleep, treated well,” he said, as quoted by Interfax-Ukraine.

German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen (L) welcomes OSCE observers John Christensen (C) from Denmark Germany’s Axel Schneider (2nd L) and unidentified observers in Berlin’s Tegel airport, May 3, 2014.

He noted that the self-defense forces said they detained the observers because they “did not coordinate their actions with the representatives of the locals.” Turansky added that the self-defense troops wanted to know the purpose of the observers’ visit. According to him, the detained Ukrainian officers were treated the same as the OSCE observers.

Kiev authorities jeopardized the lives of the OSCE observers who were in Slavyansk, said Maria Zaharova, head of the press department of Russia’s Foreign Ministry.

“More or less prepared analysts did not doubt the fact that these military observers were deployed to Slavyansk by the Ukrainian side and their known sponsors to create a new source of tension to escalate the crisis and to directly involve the European countries in the domestic conflict,” Zaharova told RIA Novosti.

“The Kiev junta did not only think about the observers’ security, but put their lives at direct risk by starting the punitive operation against the civilians in Slavyansk,” she added.

The conflict resolution carried out by the self-defense forces during the operation saved the lives of the foreigners, she added.

The interim Ukrainian government was supporting the mission carried out by Vladimir Lukin, including aid in establishing contacts and coordinating activities at a central administration level, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry stated, as quoted by Interfax news agency.

“Vladimir Lukin was advised of a safe way from Donetsk to Slavyansk, with transportation. The Ukrainian security forces insist on this, being responsible for the lives of both the observers and the negotiators,” the statement said.

Vladimir Lukin is Russia’s official envoy to Ukraine. He initially had difficulties in entering Slavyansk as the Ukrainian army and the Right Sector militants refused him access to the city.

The Kiev government was initially reluctant to support the mission.

“We get the impression that the Kiev administration views the mission as something handicapping their plans to start the attack on Slavyansk in the coming hours,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

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Ukrainian army launches assault on Kramatorsk

Ukraine’s National Guard is reportedly storming the eastern town of Kramatorsk. Meanwhile, the army has resumed its special operation in Slavyansk, where two soldiers have been killed.

“The assault is starting now,” a Kramatorsk self-defense activist has told RIA Novosti by phone. Another activist told the news agency that the National Guard opened fire on self-defense forces.

Dozens have been killed or injured in Kramatorsk, a doctor told RIA Novosti. The medic added that the fighting has now stopped and all of those injured have been taken to hospitals in Kramatorsk and Slavyansk. At least two died on the way to the hospital, she said.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military’s special operation has resumed in the nearby town of Slavyansk. The headquarters of the people’s self-defense is under snipers’ fire, according to Itar-Tass. There are reports of injuries among protesters.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said that two military personnel were killed on Friday in the village of Andreyevka, not far from Slavyansk, Donetsk region. According to the ministry, they came under an attack with the use of small arms.

“The violent military confrontation is ongoing. To date, information about the deaths of two Ukrainian servicemen has been confirmed,” the ministry said in a statement, as quoted by Interfax-Ukraine.

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Breaking news – Unknown gunmen land from helicopters, attack checkpoint in Donetsk region

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Unknown assailants landed in helicopters and attacked a checkpoint in Soledar city in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, a militia source told RIA Novosti adding that there is a fight going on.

There is no information on the number of casualties.

Soledar is located about 30 kilometers south east of Slavyansk.

The people’s governor of Donbass region Denis Pushilin confirmed to RT that there is fighting in Soledar.

As the unknown men attacked the checkpoint, the militia was forced to retreat, the source told RIA.

The second checkpoint is preparing for attack he said, adding that there are about 50 activists, many without weapons.

“We cannot send reinforcements from Slavyansk as all [forces] are defending the city,” the source stressed.

The militia has blocked the entrances to warehouses storing arms to prevent the National guard forces from confiscationg the weapons, a militia source told RIA.

He added that the warehouses were left over from Soviet times and have in storage only outdated weaponry, such as Mauser, Colts, Degtyarev machine guns, submachine PCA guns but in great amounts.

“Armed men attacked our warehouses storing weapons, we are repelling the attack, there is fighting,” Interfax cites a militia in the people’s self-defense HQ as saying.

Kiev authorities are carrying out a military operation against anti-government militia supporting the federalization of Ukraine in the eastern part of the country.

Kiev said on Friday that “the second stage” of the military operation in Slavyansk has been launched.

Slavyansk is in the control of people’s self-defense forces that are defending the city, repelling the attack of the Kiev military.

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Ukraine army launches next stage of military op ‘to isolate Slavyansk’

Ukrainian soldiers stand guard in front of an armoured personnel carrier at a checkpoint in the village of Malinivka, east of Slaviansk in eastern Ukraine April 24, 2014.

Kiev authorities say “the second stage” of the military operation in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk has been launched, which will “completely isolate” the anti-government stronghold. Self-defense forces are preparing for an assault.

Follow RT’s LIVE UPDATES on military operation in eastern Ukraine

Ukrainian troops were ordered to commence the next stage of the so-called ‘anti-terrorist operation’ around 12pm local time (10:00 GMT), according to coup-appointed acting head of presidential administration Sergey Pashinsky.

“The aim is to completely isolate Slavyansk to localize the problem. At the moment, the operation is ongoing,” the official told media as quoted by RIA Novosti.

Ukrainian armed forces have set up a military base some 20 kilometers from Slavayansk, RT’s stringer, Ukraine-based British journalist Graham Phillips reports. According to Phillips, there is an ongoing buildup of troops in the area and “snipers hiding in forests in position.” The city is being encircled, he tweets.

The military do not intend to storm Slavyansk, fearing civilian casualties, the Ukrainian Security Service has claimed.

“We will not go the length of [civilian] casualties, to storm the city. We understand that this may lead to many people coming to harm,” General Vasily Krutov, first deputy head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), was quoted as saying by Interfax.

Pashinsky meanwhile repeated earlier Kiev’s claims that “terrorists have placed their key strong points in kindergartens and hospitals,” branding the situation in Slavyansk as “classic terrorism.” The claims have been dismissed by Slavyansk activists as “ridiculous.”

Despite the promises of no storming of the city planned, Slavyansk self-defense activists have braced for an assault, which they fear may soon start under the guise of the city’s “blockade.”

Self-defense activists cited by ITAR-TASS have claimed that a convoy of military armored vehicles and troops bearing “no insignia” was spotted moving in the direction of Slavyansk and then “disappeared in the woods” surrounding the city.

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Breaking news – Kiev: Military operation in Ukraine southeast to go on despite Geneva agreement

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Despite calls for a peaceful dialogue in the document on Ukraine adopted in Geneva, the coup-imposed Ukrainian Foreign Minister said it will not affect the “anti-terrorist” operation in the East of the country and the troops will remain there.

Soon after the Geneva document, adopted at a four-side meeting between Ukraine, the US, the EU and Russia, was published, Ukraine’s acting Foreign Minister Andrey Deshchytsa said Kiev is not bound by its recommendations.

According to Deshchytsa cited by RIA Novosti, “the troops in the East of the country are carrying out a special operation and can remain where they are.”

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This comes despite the statement issued by the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry following the meeting, which says:

“All sides have pledged to refrain from any form of violence, intimidation or provocative actions. The participants of the meeting strongly condemned and rejected all forms of extremism, racism and religious intolerance, including manifestations of anti-Semitism.”

Deshchytsa said the Ukrainian side has agreed on “joint efforts” with Russia “to start the process of de-escalation in eastern Ukraine.”

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Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia (R) stops U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton (C) in Geneva April 17, 2014.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia (R) stops U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton (C) in Geneva April 17, 2014.

Speaking after the four-side meeting, US Secretary of State John Kerry also gave an assurance that the Ukrainian authorities are ready to ensure “inclusive and transparent” constitutional reform. All regions of Ukraine will be included in the work towards this reform, he said.

Ukraine will take de-escalation measures in the coming days, Kerry claimed, adding that Washington will “watch that very closely.”

“All of this, we are convinced, represents a good day’s work, but on the other hand, this day’s work has produced principles, and it has produced commitments and it has produced words on paper. And we are the first to understand and agree that words on paper will only mean what the actions taken as a result of those words produce,” Kerry said.

The top US diplomat again threatened Russia with “additional sanctions, additional costs as a consequence,” if there is no progress in eastern Ukraine. At the same time, he hinted some sanctions may be lifted if the de-escalation process goes well.

All sides of the conflict in Ukraine must refrain from violence and provocations, Kerry stressed. International meetings on Ukraine should continue, he said.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has assessed the talks as “frank but constructive discussions,” saying that “it was extremely important to bring us all together here to have that process of dialogue begin.”

“We absolutely welcomed the Ukrainian commitment to conduct an inclusive and transparent constitutional process,” Ashton said.

The EU diplomat stressed that measures to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine should be taken “immediately,” with the leading role given to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, which will “assist the Ukrainian authorities and local communities to take the necessary measures that they need to take.”

Ashton said the EU will “continue to support efforts to stabilize the situation in Ukraine economically, financially and politically.”

“Today President Barroso of the European Commission wrote to President Putin on behalf of the European Union, accepting President Putin’s proposal for consultations with Russia and Ukraine, trilateral consultations, on the security of gas supply and transit,”
she added.

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Ukrainian military open fire on militia in Kramatorsk, three injured

Ukrainian servicemen opened fire on the militia in Kramatorsk, three were wounded, told supporters of federalization to RIA Novosti.

According to them, in the area of Pchekino in Kramatorsk militia tried to break the car convoy of several BMD that was going to the airfield, which was held since the evening by the Ukrainian military. They wedged into the column and blocked the way to the closing machine.

Ukrainian military opened fire. One militia was wounded in the shoulder and two were wounded in the legs. The car managed to go through towards the airfield. The victims hae received medical help.

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Clashes, disappearance mar presidential hopeful’s campaign in Ukraine

Seven people were injured in clashes near an Odessa hotel where a Ukrainian presidential candidate was staying, as the building was assaulted by members of the radical Right Sector group.

Oleg Tsarev, a businessman from Dnepropetrovsk and former MP from the Party of Regions, was caught in Odessa clashes between supporters and opponents of the coup-appointed Kiev government on Thursday. At least seven people have been injured in clashes next to the Hotel Promenade.

Shots were reportedly heard after members of the Right Sector nationalist movement and pro-Kiev activists tried to block the entrance to the building.

Soon after the mob blocked the hotel, supporters of the candidate moved in to intervene with the help of several hundred activists participating in a peaceful rally dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Odessa from Nazi Germany.

Security officers from the Alpha Special Forces group had to intervene and escort the presidential hopeful out of the hotel, as police were reluctant to stop the violence.

Tsarev’s misadventures in Odessa didn’t stop with the clashes. On Friday morning his press service reported him going missing, possibly kidnapped by his political opponents. But hours later the presidential hopeful resurfaced, saying on his Facebook page that he had been with friends and that his cell phone had needed recharging.

This is not the first time Tsarev was attacked in recent days. Before arriving to Odessa, Tsarev was beaten and pelted with eggs in Nikolaev by members of the Right Sector, RIA Novosti reports. Earlier on Thursday, presidential candidate Sergey Tigipko was also pelted with eggs.

In order to crush the anti-Kiev rebellion in southern and eastern regions of Ukraine, the governors newly appointed by the coup-imposed government rely on their own armed militias, Tsarev said in his latest interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

“It is being carried out by the fighters, hired by local authorities,” Tsarev says. “In all areas of the south and the east these questions are supervised by first deputies newly appointed by the governors. Everyone has around 200 fighters on their allowance.”

Yet Tsarev says that not all of the fighters are from the radical Right Sector nationalist movement. He maintains that while many members of the neo-Nazi group might command the militias, many units consist of “local small criminals” that were assembled on the orders and financial support of the “oligarchs.”

He says that this type of intimidation falls in line with Kiev’s government, which relies on “language of threats and individual terror,” something witnessed before in a number of post-coup countries.

“Present day authorities in Kiev with their Right Sector and the National Guard, consisting of former militants, have not invented anything new,” Tsarev says.

Kiev’s policy in relation to the south-east of the country, according to Tsarev, aims to “discourage not only historical memory, but also very fresh memories of ‘Eurorevolution’.” He says that the self-imposed government “ignored adopted laws which they passed themselves, for example, an amnesty for all participants in the riots,” when they refer to protests in the south-east as “separatist”, calling the participants “bandits.”

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​Kiev orders ‘state protection’ of protester-held govt HQ in Donetsk

Ukraine’s coup-imposed president Aleksandr Turchinov has ordered the protester-held local govt HQ in Donetsk to be taken under ‘state protection’ as armed personnel and armored vehicles have been reported moving into the eastern region of Ukraine.

According to a decree signed by Turchinov, the local administration building in Donetsk and surrounding territory is an “important government facility, which is a subject to state protection.”

The decree entered into force upon signature and Turchinov has already given Ukraine’s state security service appropriate directions, Itar-Tass reports.

Ukraine’s acting interior minister Arsen Avakov stated earlier on Wednesday that a “special police task force” had already arrived in Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkov from western regions of Ukraine and was ready to take them under control within 48 – using force, if needed.

The buildings of power structures in the eastern cities of Donetsk and Lugansk remain under control of the protesters. While so far there have been no attempts to recapture the occupied buildings, activists continue building barricades preparing for a possible attack by forces shipped in from other regions of Ukraine.

People are burning bonfires to stay warm in front of the barricades and singing songs to keep up their spirits, with Russian and regional flags waiving in the background. Many women and elderly people are among those on nightwatch in the center of city.

“We will be on duty here all night, because the assault could begin at any moment,” one of the activists told Ria Novosti. Thousands more people are ready to stand up against attackers at the first call of those keeping watch around the perimeter. Several times over the last few days activists assembled to train their response to emergency situations.

Activists expect the military operation to take place overnight in Donetsk and Lugansk simultaneously. Local administration in Kharkov was already stormed on Tuesday by armed men without insignia and masked law enforcement officers, after the local police in Kharkov refused to fulfil orders from Kiev.

About a hundred fighters from the newly-formed Ukraine’s National Guard reportedly arrived in the airport of Donetsk, the deputy director of a local group called People’s Militia of Donbas, Sergey Tsyplakov, told Ria Novosti.

“In Donetsk airport about a hundred of people from the National Guard have been housed,” Tsyplakov said. “Around a hundred of Right Sector thugs are also in the city, as well as a hundred employees from a private US military company operating under contract with Kiev junta.”

“Totally around 300 professionals or well-trained and motivated fanatics,” Tsyplakov added. “This is a major force, but we are ready to fight.”

Earlier in the day, pro-federalization activists in Donetsk blocked two busses carrying unbadged armed men in camouflage near the military commissariat. According to Tsyplakov activists believe they were mercenaries but were unable to identify gunmen as they kept silent and refused to answer any questions.

In the meantime, Ukrainian personnel and armored vehicles were spotted moving closer to the city of Donetsk. Amateur videos posted on YouTube show that locals were trying to stop machinery from progressing further.

Protests against the new government in Kiev have been continuing in eastern Ukraine for weeks now. On Monday, popular assemblies in Donetsk and Kharkov, where local administration headquarters were captured by protesters, declared independence from Ukraine and announced the creation of the independent Donetsk People’s Republic and Kharkov People’s Republic.

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Russia calls restricted access to NATO HQ ‘Cold War’ Mentality

NATO decision to limit the access of Russian diplomats to its headquarters in Brussels reflects the persistent “Cold War” mentality among the alliance’s officials, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday. NATO said Monday the access to NATO Headquarters will be denied to all representatives of the Russian Mission, except the Russian Ambassador, his Deputy Head of Mission, and two support staff. Other Russian diplomats will have to notify NATO about their planned visit to its headquarters in advance, register upon arrival and be escorted by security staff throughout their visit.

“We noted that information about the move was posted on the main page of NATO’s official website. It looks like access by Russian diplomats to the NATO office is the North Atlantic alliancea’s number one problem,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“The introduction of restrictive measures against [Russian diplomats] confirms once again that the alliance is not capable of overcoming the “Cold War” mentality, preferring the language of sanctions over dialogue,” the statement reads.

Ties between Moscow and the West plunged to record lows in recent weeks surrounding disagreements over Crimea, which rejoined Russia after 60 years as part of Ukraine last month.

In the ongoing diplomatic strife that followed, NATO froze all practical aspects of its military cooperation with Russia last week. The Russian Foreign Ministry described the Atlantic alliance’s moves as “Cold War-style sword swinging.”

The Russian Defense Ministry said last Thursday it has decided to recall its chief military representative to NATO, Col. Gen. Valery Evnevich, for consultations amid the standoff, RIA Novosti reports.

Russian officials have repeatedly said that Moscow was not seeking confrontation with NATO, but was ready to take all political and military measures to ensure its security.

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First passports handed out to new Russian citizens in Crimea

The first passports have been handed out to the new Russian citizens in Crimea on Wednesday, the head of the Federal Migration Service said.

The treaty of Crimea’s accession to Russia “was signed yesterday… And all, who appealed to the Federal Migration Service in the Crimea, will receive their passports. This work has started. Some of the passports were issued today,” said Konstantin Romodanovsky, the head of the Federal Migration Service, as cited by Itar-Tass news agency.

The official did not elaborate on how or on what terms the Crimeans who do not wish to renounce their Ukrainian citizenship will live and work in the peninsula.

However, Romodanovsky said Russia is concerned by symptoms of a growing “humanitarian catastrophe” in Ukraine.

“As a sign, the number of elderly people and children entering Russia has grown twice as big,” he said. He did not give the periods of which he was comparing, or exact figures.

More than that, Russia is worried by the growing number of Ukrainians crossing the Russian border without any clear purpose such as work.

“We shared those concerns with the office management of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. To some extent, our concerns were understood and we began an interaction with the organization,” Romodanovsky stressed.

Also on Wednesday, Vladimir Putin has tasked the Labor Ministry with increasing the pensions of Crimeans to the Russian level as soon as possible, which will see benefits in the peninsula doubling.

All citizens of Russia must be placed in the same conditions. How you do it is your business. Think it over with State Duma deputies and do it. There must be no delays. Do it as soon as possible,” the president told labor minister Maksim Topilin.

According to Topilin, there are currently 677,000 pensioners in Crimea and Sevastopol, who have been receiving around 1,600 hryvnas (around US$160) from the Ukrainian state.

This is significantly lower than the average in Russia,” he stressed, adding that the difference in the level of pensions with Ukraine is about two times in Russia’s favor.

The minister assured Putin that delay-free payment of pensions in Crimea and Sevastopol will be provided.

Bringing Crimean benefits to Russia’s level “will require a special law” which is currently being developed, Topilin said.

The head of the Federal Migration Service expressed hope that Russia and the UN, together, will be able to find a way to minimize the negative consequences of the unstable situation in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, funds from the Russian budget will be used to help Crimea and Sevastopol solve its economic problems, the country’s finance minister, Anton Siluanov, announced.

The total deficit on the budget of Sevastopol and Crimea in 2014 is 55 billion roubles (around $1.5 billion),” Siluanov is cited by RIA-Novosti news agency.

The minister specially stressed that the National Welfare Fund won’t be affected as the money for the Crimea will be taken from the unallocated reserve of the Russian budget.

On March 16, Crimea held a referendum, in which over 96 percent of its citizens voted to join Russia. Two days later, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status, became federal objects of the Russian Federation.

RT News.

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