Daily review: Donbas occupiers block movement of civilians, Territorial Defense law, Israel condemns Bandera march, new national parks in Ukraine

People march in Kyiv to commemorate Stepan Bandera on 1st January 2021.

People march in Kyiv to commemorate Stepan Bandera on 1st January 2021. 

Daily review

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Past days in the war zone Ukraine’s east

  • On 3 January, the Russian-led militants violated the ceasefire 3 times, firing automatic and anti-tank grenade launchers.
  • There were no ceasefire violations during 2 January 2021

News flash

  • Russian jets bombed areas near the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib on Sunday. War planes flying at high altitude dropped bombs on several towns and a main water pumping station serving the overcrowded city of Idlib, whose wider population is more than a million. “Continued destruction of civilian infrastructure will only cause more suffering of civilians. Attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure must stop,” U.N. deputy regional humanitarian coordinator Mark Cutts said in a tweet.
  • Estonian Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Limets says that the main purpose of contacts between representatives of NATO countries and Russia is to prevent the Russian escalation of Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova said that all issues related to Ukraine, European security, and NATO would be discussed with Ukraine. There can be no compromise with the aggressor to achieve peace.
  • Russian media report about “Thunder” military drills of strategic nuclear forces.
  • “Russia is testing how far it can go. That is why we must remain united and united!” the Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki wrote. “Russian President Vladimir Putin uses force in various fields, including the economy. He knows that his power depends on gas prices. And he is doing everything to keep Europe dependent on its supplies.”
  • Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has signed decrees to enlarge the network of Ukraine’s national natural perks, adding to it an additional 60,000 ha of land (1% of Ukraine’s territory). Three new parks will emerge.

Leaders of the Bashkir national movement have called on Bashkirs not to take part in Russia’s war against Ukraine

In a statement issued by Ruslan Gabbasov, one of the leaders of Bashkort, an organization of the Bashkir national movement Russia banned as extremist, the initiators of the appeal asked their compatriots “not to be mercenaries” and those who have already joined the Russian armed forces to “avoid this war as much as possible.”

“Not our war”: leaders of Bashkir national movement call on countrymen to boycott Russia’s war against Ukraine

Occupiers in Donbas block movement of civilians

According to Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, Russian occupiers continue the entire blockade of five out of seven checkpoints between government-controlled territory and occupied Donbas. Despite the government’s efforts to provide easier and safer access for Ukrainians to occupied Donbas, including the successful construction of new checkpoints, the occupiers sabotage any agreements achieved in the trilateral contact group. Currently, full daily movement across the contact line is possible only through the entry-exit checkpoint “Stanytsia Luhanska.”

Biden-Zelenskyy conversation

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy had a 1.5-hour-long phone conversation with the U.S. president Joe Biden on 2 January. Biden has reassured Ukraine of U.S. support in the face of a Russian military buildup on Ukraine’s borders, telling Zelenskyy that the U.S. and its allies will “respond decisively” if Russia further invades Ukraine.

Zelenskyy expressed gratitude for the U.S. President’s support for the principle of “nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine,” and also for the readiness of the U.S. to act decisively.

Biden’s call with Zelenskyy follows talks between Biden and Putin on December 30. A previous conversation between the presidents of Ukraine and the United States took place on December 9, during which the results of the Biden–Putin talks on December 7 were discussed.

Territorial Defense law enters into force in Ukraine

On 1st January, the Law “On the Foundations of National Resistance” entered into force in Ukraine, establishing the unified system of Territorial Defense Forces as part of the Armed Forces. Zelenskyy appointed the commander of Territorial Defense, Yuriy Halushkin.
As was reported earlier, Kyiv mayor Vitaliy Klytschko initiated the meeting of Kyiv territorial defense, police, Security Service, armed forces, and other officials to coordinate efforts and establish city territorial defense headquarters in case of further Russian aggression. More volunteers are currently registering to support the army and be prepared to defend their cities. More about the territorial defense in this reportage.

The 30th anniversary of Ukraine and the U.S. diplomatic relations

On 3 January 2021, Ukraine and the United States marked the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. The Ministry of the Foreign affairs of Ukraine underscores that the renewed Ukraine-U.S. Charter on Strategic Partnership, signed in November 2021, stipulates that the partnership is based on common values ​and common interests of the countries, including inviolability of borders, commitment to peaceful, free and integral Europe, protection of sovereignty and territorial integrity, human rights and freedoms, recognition of democracy and the rule of law as the main guarantors of security, freedom, and prosperity, Ukrinform reports.

Ukraines’ ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova stressed that information exchange between Ukraine and the U.S. becomes more and more detailed.

“These are specific documents – the charter, the defense agreement, and a number of other documents that have been signed or are being prepared for signing,” Markarova said. In particular, she mentioned the signing of an agreement on the strategic foundations of the defense partnership, that is nor public.

Stepan Bandera commemoration

Ukrainians honored one of Ukraine’s WWII leaders Stepan Bandera, who headed the Organization of Ukrainian nationalists in 1940-1959. On 1 January, the birthday of Stepan Bandera, several thousand people participated in marches in Kyiv, Dnipro, Lviv, Kryvyi Rih, and Rivne, while smaller rallies took place in Ternopil, Kharkiv, Khmelnytskyi, Odesa, and other cities. Such massive events have been taking place every year since 2016 on Bandera’s birthday. Participants sang Ukrainian songs and chanted patriotic slogans “Bandera, Shukhevych – Heroes of Ukraine!”, “Bandera – our Hero!”

The Israeli Embassy in Ukraine condemned the march, saying: “Israel condemns Bandera’s nationalist march. The glorification of those who supported Nazi ideology tarnishes the memory of Holocaust victims in Ukraine. We demand an investigation into the anti-Semitic manifestations that took place during the march, in accordance with the law adopted in 2021.”

It should be noted that Bandera openly opposed the rule and was imprisoned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp during 1942-1944.

The speaker of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Vyacheslav Volodin commented that Europe should impose sanctions against Ukraine because of the march in honor of Stepan Bandera’s birthday.

UPA, coordinated by Bandera’s OUN, was the only WWII army fighting for independent Ukraine, both against Nazi Germany and the USSR. That is why the commemoration of UPA and its leaders is so important for Ukrainians today. At the same time, the story is not painted in black and white. Some UPA soldiers conducted crimes against Poles and Jews. Both the glory and the sins of UPA are now researched by historians. This article gives a sketch of the research:

80 years since the foundation of UPA: the glory, the mistakes, and the sins

Ukrainian fairy tale translated into Japanese

The Embassy of Ukraine in Japan together with Ukrainian and Japanese artists and translators prepared a publication of the Ukrainian folktale Kotyhoroshko into Japanese. Kotyhoroshko, a boy born from peas who has extraordinary strength, goes to free his brothers and sister from Snake’s custody. Cossacks-kharakternyks (warriors with a superpower) Vernyhora, Vernydub, and Krutyvus help in his quest.

Ukrainian folk tale Kotyhoroshko translated to Japanese, tells story of boy born from peas like Japan’s Momotaro

Ukrainian conductor Oksana Lyniv to lead an Italian opera house

Ukrainian classical music superstar Oksana Lyniv dominates the front page of today’s Guardian newspaper in the UK with news of her landmark appointment as the first woman ever to lead an Italian opera house. Lyniv received the offer from the Teatro Comunale opera house in Bologna.

Yet, she is not only a famous conductor but also a successful project manager. In particular, Lyniv co-founded the annual LvivMozArt festival, dedicated to Franz Xaver Mozart, a son of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was a famous pedagogue, pianist, conductor, and composer who from 1808 to 1838 lived in Lviv (Lemberg). Lyniv also founded The Youth Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine. Read more about her other projects and developments of Ukrainian classical music in our interview:

Conductor Oksana Lyniv: we should be proud that names of prominent Ukrainians are part of the history of world music culture

Symbol of Belarusian protests Nina Baginskaya celebrated her 75th birthday in mental hospital

On December 30, the symbol of Belarusian protests Nina Baginskaya celebrated her 75th birthday. That day, she took to the streets of Minsk with a “Freedom to Political Prisoners” poster but was soon detained and taken to a mental hospital in the village of Navinki.
“They called an ambulance and took me to Navinki. This is not my first time in Navinki, I was only given a paper to sign that I do not feel the need for treatment, that I am a mentally healthy person. I took the 18th bus and came home,” Baginskaya said.
She participates in nearly all Belarusian rallies and many solitary protests since 1988 with the white-red-white flag that she has sown herself. Police repressions and fines have already become a routine for Nina Baginskaya.

Moscow created a system of torture in its prisons

Vladimir Osechkin, head of the Gulagu.net project which has provided videotape confirmation of torture in Russian prisons, says that Moscow created a system of torture in its prisons and camps but has now lost control over the public discussion of it.

The system of torture and rape in Russian prisons was imposed by Moscow, GULAGU.Net activist says

Article by Euromaidan Press contributor: Why this 23-year old mom became a Ukrainian soldier

Nadiya lived for all her life in the small East-Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. Her life was changed after Russian proxy troops briefly occupied her town: the 23-year-old mom became a soldier and enlisted in the Ukrainian Army.

For almost two years she has been serving in one of the mechanized brigades of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. She is currently on her second rotation in the war zone and dreams of being home on New Year’s day.

Why this 23-year old mom became a Ukrainian soldier

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