News / Europe

Donetsk Governor Says Kyiv Has Not Lost Control of East

From right, Council of Europe head Thorbjorn Jagland, Russian presidential human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin and Donetsk governor Serhiy Taruta attend a news conference in Donetsk, Ukraine, Saturday, May 3, 2014.
From right, Council of Europe head Thorbjorn Jagland, Russian presidential human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin and Donetsk governor Serhiy Taruta attend a news conference in Donetsk, Ukraine, Saturday, May 3, 2014.
The Kyiv-appointed governor of Donetsk said in an interview with VOA that the Ukrainian government has not lost control of the troubled region.

Businessman Serhiy Taruta, a diminutive man who resembles Hollywood actor Woody Allen, rejects accusations that the Kyiv government isn’t doing enough when it comes to security in east Ukraine and says progress is being made in the government’s campaign to restore order.

The industrial region abutting the Russian border has seen government buildings being occupied by pro-Russian militiamen in more than a dozen towns.

Separatist leaders announced Thursday they plan to go ahead with a referendum to decide whether to secede from Ukraine – a referendum Kyiv politicians have denounced as contrived and illegal.

Last week, the interim leaders in Kyiv re-launched a military campaign to combat armed separatists, focusing most of their efforts on the flashpoint towns of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk a hundred kilometers north of Donetsk.

Watch related video report by Michael Eckels for VOA
 
Russia Celebrates 'Victory Day'i
X
Michael Eckels
May 10, 2014 12:48 AM
"Victory Day" on May 9 celebrates the end of World War II for the Soviet Union and its former republics. This year, Russia marks the end of one war, as conflict heats up in its one-time Soviet sister republic Ukraine. Michael Eckels reports for VOA from Moscow.

But the campaign appears to be floundering and both rust belt towns still remain in rebel hands.

Taruta said the Kyiv government is fighting back.

“Kyiv constantly monitors, supports and increases the numbers of police in Donetsk region,” he said.

But Taruta admitted he worries about his own personal safety.

“I’m not crazy,” he said. “Of course I worry about my life but we can cope with our emotions and we understand that country’s destiny is more important than one individual’s life.”

Despite his assurances about general security in the region, international human rights workers here say the security situation is deteriorating fast.

A wave of abductions of pro-unity activists, journalists and local officials who refuse to go along with the separatists is striking widespread fear.  

“This reminds me of the Chechnya conflict at the beginning,” saids a veteran human rights worker, who declined to be identified for this article, as they do not have permission from superiors to talk with the media.

Everyday there are reports of kidnappings.

On Thursday, police in Luhansk, a region neighboring Donetsk and also in tumult, confirmed that pro-Ukrainian activist Valeriy Salo was found dead in a burned-out car.

Salo’s family told police armed men arrived on Wednesday evening at their home in Donetsk and kidnapped the activist.

His is not the first death following abduction.

Forty-two-year-old policeman-turned-politician Volodymyr Rybak, a city councilor in the eastern Ukrainian town of Horlivka, near where dozens have gone missing in the past few weeks, was found dead on April 19.

He angered militants by trying to pull down on April 17 their Donetsk Republic flag atop a local municipal building to replace it with the Ukrainian banner.

Later he was bundled into a car by masked gunmen.

His wife, Elena Rybak, a medical doctor, told VOA that when she saw his body in the morgue in the nearby town of Slovyansk, his jaw was broken and there was a deep cut in the middle of his nose that she thinks was made with an axe.

The cause of death given in the autopsy report was a deep wound to the chest penetrating the lungs.

The report, detailing multiple deep stab wounds to the stomach, suggests Rybak was dumped still alive in a river near Slavyansk where he was later found.

The body of 19-year-old Kyiv pro-unity student Yuriy Propavko was found nearby.

On May 4, anti-Kyiv forces kidnapped half-a-dozen men six men from the town of Novogradovka—three were town councilors. All were severely beaten before they were freed a day later.

Separatists in Slovyansk hold at least 20 captives, according to international human rights workers, including the police chief of Kramatorsk, two pro-unity activists and the mayor of Slovyansk.

Earlier this month, seven European military observers were abducted but released several days later.

“Armed men affiliated with anti-Kiev forces have been snatching up activists, journalists, and local officials,” said Anna Neistat of Human Rights Watch. “Some who’ve been released are bruised and injured, while the fate of dozens of others is not known.”  

According to American reporter Simon Ostrovsky, who was held for two days in Slovyansk, captives are kept in the basement of the local Ukrainian security service building.

Ostrovsky said he was beaten during his captivity. His offense, according to Stella Khoraeva, the spokeswoman for the separatist leader Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, the pro-Russian militant leader in Slovyansk, was that “he was not reporting in a correct way.”

Those abducted by separatists in Donetsk are detained on the fifth floor of the regional government building, the headquarters of the pro-Russian militancy in the city.

The eleven-floor building has been in rebel hands for weeks and has been turned into a fortress.

“The fifth floor is where they are holding abductees – and torturing them,” said an international human rights worker, who asked not to be named.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Wiktor Protsenko from: Kyiv
May 10, 2014 12:34 PM
In its unannounced war against Ukraine, Russia relies on covert operations which fall squarely within the definition of "international terrorism" under 18 U.S.C. § 2331.
Specifically, armed operatives of Russia, acting under disguise, attempt to influence the policy of Ukrainian government by intimidation or coercion. They also try to affect the conduct of a government by assassinations and kidnapping, taking by force government buildings, police posts and military bases of Ukraine.
This activity is being conducted on large scale and over prolonged time period, despite condemnation by the USA, G-7, NATO, EU and UN.
Please sign the petition urging the White House to officially designate Russia as "State sponsor of terrorism” - http://wh.gov/lwuL9
Such status of country would outlaw business of American companies with Russia. Even considering of the petition by Senate and President of USA creating great inconvenience Russian authorities.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid