The overall combat activity in Donbas somewhat decreased this week; the Russian militants mostly used small arms, RPGs and heavy machineguns to attack Ukrainian positions in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Occasional IFV and mortar attacks were reported.
On Thursday, Ukraine’s Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Iryna Gerashchenko reported that OSCE humanitarian subgroup coordinator Tony Frisch has been ignoring the issue of hostages exchange during the Minsk talks session. According to her, Frisch 'does not bring this issue to the agenda as a separate matter.
Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint (Ukraine-controlled area of Luhansk region) will be closed for maintenance works. 'Starting on August 6, the service zone of entry-exit checkpoint of Stanytsia Luhanska will be undertaking refurbishment works but the local residents should be advised that the checkpoint will work as usual.
The state security service of Ukraine (SBU) revealed the names of three foreign mercenaries of the Wagner Group who fought in Syria. Two of them participated in the combat actions in Donbas on the side of the pro-Russian militants as the SBU reported on Facebook. "The SBU additionally published the information about another three foreign mercenaries the Wagner Group and at least two of them participated in the combat actions in Donbas on the side of the pro-Russian militants. One of them Grachian Gevorg, the citizen of Armenia died during the so-called "Prigozhyn offensive" in Syria on February 7, 2018. Earlier, the SBU identified 26 Russian officers who were “seconded” as drill instructors in Wagner Group (Russian paramilitary organization). Russian career military servicemen conducted tactical, firearms, engineering and artillery training, tank crews training, infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers and air defence. The Wagner Group has been involved in Donbas conflict since May 2014 till August 2015. Then, they moved to Syria, assisting the Syrian army in a number of combat operations.
A shocking and obnoxious murder took place in Berdyansk, southeastern Ukraine. Two gunshot wounds took the life of Vitaliy Oleshko, the former volunteer fighter of Donbas battalion and the active participant in Donbas conflict. Oleshko was shot dead in the yard of a local hotel, in front of his wife. A witness who later uploaded a video on his social network account confirmed that the man sustained two wounds to his back; the killer used a shotgun and escaped. However, the police detained those involved in the murder on the same day, July 31. On Friday, the court detained Artem Matyushyn, the suspect in the murder, who, like his victim, also formerly served with a volunteer battalion in Donbas. Matyushyn is to remain in custody for at least 60 days.
On August 1, it was reported that Ukrainian hackers were arrested in the US on suspicion of committing several cyber-crimes like theft of arrays of payment card numbers and other data of American companies.
Later, it became known that the United States are suspecting three Ukrainians in cyber-attacks on 100 American companies in 47 states. According to three federal indictments, those three are Ukrainian nationals Dmytro Fedorov, 44, Fedir Hladyr, 33, and Andrii Kolpakov, 30, who are members of a prolific hacking group widely known as FIN7.
On August 2, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry confirmed detention of three Ukrainians accused of the cyber-attacks on the American companies. In the United States alone, FIN7 successfully breached the computer networks of companies in 47 states and the District of Columbia, stealing more than 15 million customer card records from over 6,500 individual point-of-sale terminals at more than 3,600 separate business locations.
On Tuesday, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko ordered the Foreign Ministry to enhance the work on strengthening of sanctions against Russia, individuals and legal entities involved in the annexation of Crimea.
And the same day, European Union introduced sanctions against the companies who contributed to the construction of the Kerch bridge in the annexed Crimea. Two companies of the Russian businessman Arkady Rotenberg were put under EU sanctions. Both companies have already been included into the U.S. sanction list.
On August 2, a group of U.S. senators presented a draft document, which includes the package of new sanctions against Russia, considering the current amount of sanctions is insufficient. Earlier, Francis Fannon, the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Energy Resources at the U.S Department of State said Washington may impose sanctions against Russian companies due to the construction of Nord Stream 2.
On July 31, the adviser to Kherson city mayor Kateryna Handzyuk was attacked in the city. The attacker soaked her with acid. the woman was hospitalized. 30 percent of her body was burned: head, arms, legs, chest and left eye.
Later, the protesters gathered in Kherson at the building of the regional police department and prosecutor’s office over the attack on Handzyuk.
Also, Handzyuk was provided with a state guard. On August 3, it was reported that the investigation of the attack was passed to the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).
Savchenko-Ruban case: Prosecutor General's office and Security Service of Ukraine have completed the investigation of the criminal proceedings against Nadiya Savchenko, MP of the Ukrainian Parliament and Volodymyr Ruban, Head of Officers Corps organization under suspicion of terrorism. The suspects and their lawyers are now allowed to peruse with the case, After that the case will be transmitted to the court for consideration on the merits. Ukraine’s Prosecutor General says the court hearing og the Savchenko-Ruban case shall begin this year.
Sheremet: Olena Prytula, Sheremet’s wife files lawsuit against Prosecutor Lutsenko, accusing him of inaction. She requires that she is recognized as a victim and claims that the explosion was a terrorist act.
Yanukovych case: The court debates in the state treason case of former Ukraine's president Viktor Yanukovych, scheduled for Monday, July 30, were postponed until Tuesday, July 31 due to non-appearance of the lawyers of Yanukovych for the court session. During the court hearing on August 1, the court ruled out to appoint another free state lawyer for Yanukovych due to the refusal of the current defense of Yanukovych to participate in the court debates. The debates were yet again postponed until August 1. On August 1m, the new state lawyer of Yanukovych refuses to participate in court debates.
On August 2, the Court called Yanukovych himself for debates in state treason case on August 16-17.
Heavenly Hundred probe: Investigation of Heavenly Hundred murders almost over, - Prosecutor General, the investigation team is only waiting for final results of the expertise.
On July 30, the office of Paris mayor announced that a picture of Sentsov would be put on the banner on the front of the city hall's building. And the next day, the photo of Ukrainian political prisoner Oleg Sentsov was put on the mayor's office of the fourth district of Paris and the meeting with the demands to immediately release the Ukrainian filmmaker was held.
Unfortunately, the Ukrainian Ombudswoman claimed that Father Grigoriy, the bishop of the Apostle Orthodox Church was not allowed to visit Sentsov in colony where he now serves time. His current health conditions might be grave, which is why the Russian authorities do not allow any visits, the Ukrainian ombudswoman said.
Later, the Amnesty International reported that the Russian authorities refused its representatives in the access to Ukrainian political prisoner Oleg Sentsov without the explanations.
Talking about another Ukrainian political prisoner Oleksandr Kolchenko, his mother Larysa Kolchenko was allowed to see a son at the Russian colony. They could spend together three days. She came to see his son the same day.
On Monday, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry filed a note of protest to the Russian Foreign Ministry due to the visit of Russian delegation headed by the Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to annexed Crimea that was not agreed with Ukraine. It is noted in the message that the stay of Medvedev in Crimea is a severe violation of the state sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine and Russia's disregard of the universally recognized norms of the international laws.
The same day, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights is not planning to visit Crimea without the invitation of Ukrainian authorities. OSCE stated its readiness to send a delegation to Crimea to assess of the situation with the human rights in the region.
Later, Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Kyslytsia noted that Russia blocks all attempts of the international organization to visit occupied Crimea and hold a monitoring there.
The environmental situation in Crimea seems to be worsening. On August 2, it was reported that before the occupation by Russia, Ukrainian Crimea boasted a lot of green cover; however, these areas have been severely decreasing since then. The satellite images show that 70 percent of the green cover of Crimea's steppes either disappeared or lost its conditions compared to those in 2013.
It was also reported that Biyuk-Karasu river, one of the largest ones in the occupied Crimea, dried out because of the severe drought there. The creekbed next to Karasivka village is completely dry; due to that, Taiganske and Bilohirske reservoirs are empty now. The water from Biyuk-Karasu was the main source for them.