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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK: JUNE 18 - 22

Source : 112 Ukraine

Read about Donbas, political prisoners: Sentsov, Balukh, decisions of Verkhovna Rada in HIGHLIGHTS of the week in Ukraine
22:30, 22 June 2018

Donbas conflict in Ukraine

Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia

Verkhovna Rada adopts national security and Anti-Corruption Court

The United States withdraws from UN Human Rights Council

Ukrainian poet Ivan Drach died

Shooting of Ukrainian movie 'Zakhar Berkut' started

112 Agency

Donbas conflict in Ukraine

Over the past week, the situation in combat area in eastern Ukraine has not changed much; however, the government troops managed to retake under control a small area in Luhansk region. The Ukrainian military units advanced two kilometers forward from their previous positions near Zholobok, Luhansk region.

Mayorske, the Ukraine-controlled checkpoint in Donetsk region, got back to work after the halt that lasted since June 16. The point was closed on Saturday, since the militants ceased to let transports outside from the occupied Horlivka.

On Tuesday, Ukraine’s leader Petro Poroshenko and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres discussed the release of Ukraine's political prisoners from Russian jails and opportunities to deploy the UN peacekeepers in the combat area in eastern Ukraine.

Fiona Fraser, a Chairman of the UN Monitoring Mission on Human Rights released the disturbing statistics about the civilian casualties in Donbas since the beginning of the conflict. 'For the entire period of the conflict, since April 14, 2014, till May 15, 2018, at the very least 2725 civilians have died,' Fraser claimed. 

Related: SBU General Oleksandr Kuts becomes Donetsk region Head

Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia

A huge amount of attention this week belongs to Ukrainian political prisoner Oleg Sentsov and his ongoing hunger strike, which already crossed the dangerous line of the 40-days-long period of starving.

The US State Department called on the government of the Russian Federation to release 150 political and religious prisoners. In an article published on the website of the US Department of State, the authority demanded to ‘release all those who are called political or religious prisoners and stop using the legal system to suppress dissent and peaceful religious practice’. ‘We are especially concerned about the health of four illegally imprisoned Ukrainians who are now starving - Oleg Sentsov, Stanislav Klykh, Olexander Shumkov and Volodymyr Balukh,’ the U.S. authority noted.

The Ukrainian filmmaker deserves the full support of the international community. This was mentioned in the most recent editorial article in New York Times, called ‘A Siberian Prisoner Spoils Putin’s Extravaganza’. The article’s authors state that the hunger strike of the Ukrainian filmmaker opens the world’s eyes on the Kremlin’s crimes, which the Russian government wanted to conceal behind the World Cup games. Putting his life in danger, Sentsov turns the attention of whatever Russia is involved in, which is why he deserves the full support of the West, the author wrote.

Famous American writer Stephen King aso urged to support Sentsov. ‘Join me and PEN America in calling for the release of this Ukrainian filmmaker unjustly imprisoned in Russia. Time is running out, and he may die for his views’, he wrote in his letter to Russian president Vladimir Putin and FIFA leader Gianni Infantino.

Thorbjørn Jagland, the Secretary-General of the Europe Council, claimed that Oleg Sentsov, the Ukrainian filmmaker imprisoned in the Russian Federation has to be released for humanitarian reasons. The Secretary-General claimed this after the meeting with Tatyana Moskalkova, the Russian ombudswoman.

Vice Chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament Iryna Gerashchenko protested against the fact that Russian officials would not let Ukrainian ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova visit political prisoners in Russia – specifically, Oleg Sentsov and Roman Sushchenko.

Ukraine's Justice Ministry turned to the European Court for Human Rights, asking to oblige the Russian government to let Ukrainian ombudswoman see Oleg Sentsov, the starving political prisoner. Pavlo Petrenko, the justice minister posted this on Facebook. 'Our team has filed an appeal to the ECHR - in the interests of Oleg Sentsov. Our first priority task is to provide the Ukrainian side (starting with the paliamentary envoy for human rights Lyudmyla Denisova) the access to Oleg's whereabouts, and the information about his current health state', Petrenko wrote.

Ukrainian ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova has been very persistent in terms of the release of political prisoners from Russian jails. However, the Russian side still has been keeping her at a distance, far away from the prisoners – Sentsov, Kolchenko, Balukh, Sushchenko and others. On Thursday, Denisova claimed that Sentsov began to experience issues with his heart and kidneys. According to her, she spoke to Sentsov's lawyer, who managed to visit his client. 'Oleg is now at a medical unit; he's got problems with his kidneys and heart. He drinks 3.5 liters of water daily and gets another two liters via the drop counter', she said. The crisis occurred on Day 26 of Sentsov's hunger strike. He was taken to the hospital outside the colony. They tried to feed him forcefully but he refused. Then, they brought him back to the colony's medical unit. According to Sentsov's lawyer, the crisis could happen again anytime.

Related: Ukraine needs the Ministry of Veterans Affairs

Verkhovna Rada adopts national security and Anti-Corruption Court

This week was hard-working for the Ukrainian parliament. On June 20, it adopted the d a bill for protection of monuments of world cultural heritage listed in UNESCO. 232 People's Deputies voted for the bill. 

The next day, Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the Law on National Security of Ukraine. The bill introduces civilian control of the security and defense sector. The high-ranking officials (president, parliament, government, etc.), as well as the public, have the right to control the of defense field. In particular, influence on what the money is spent. The exception are projects marked as "state secret".

Moreover, the Ukrainian parliament adopted the law on the creation of Supreme Anti-Corruption Court. The document includes two articles. The first one – "to create Supreme Anti-corruption court." According to the second, the location, territorial jurisdiction and status of Supreme Anti-corruption court are determined by the law "On Supreme Anti-corruption court." 

Related: Saakashvili’s case: Court appoints handwriting analysis

The United States withdraws from UN Human Rights Council

On June 20, the US withdrew from the UN Council of Human Rights. This is due to Washington's protest against the fact that 'no country has enough courage to join our struggle for reformation of the hypocritic and biased body', as Nikki Haley, the U.S. envoy in the UN said. 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres did not support the decision of the US. However, Israeli Prime Minister thanked the US for the withdrawal. According to him, the Council was biased, hostile and anti-Israeli for many years.

The Russian Federation has presented its candidature for the election to the UN Council for Human Rights (UNHRC) for 2021-2023. Such actions took place as the US announced about its withdrawal from the organization. 

n its turn, Ukraine said that it shares the U.S. position on the efficiency of work of the UNCHR. It claimed many times that it is important to take into account the human rights element in all directions of the UN work. 

Related: Interference in operation of 112 Ukraine TV channel, maintenance works underway

Ukrainian poet Ivan Drach died

The week starts with the passing away of Ivan Drach, the prominent Ukrainian poet, cinema script writer, the Hero of Ukraine and the former MP of the Ukrainian Parliament. In 2006, he was granted the title of the Hero of Ukraine - for his 'selfless service to the Ukrainian people, which he performed in poetry, standing for the ideas of freedom and democracy'.

He died at the age of 81 in the morning. According to the poet's last will, he will be buried in his home village of Telizhyntsi, next to the grave of his son Maksym.

The farewell ceremony for prominent Ukrainian poet and politician Ivan Drach took place at St. Volodymyr's Cathedral in Kyiv. A lot of Ukrainian politicians, including Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman and President Petro Poroshenko came to say farewell.

Related: Grain from occupied Crimea exported to Syria, - mass media

Shooting of Ukrainian movie 'Zakhar Berkut' started

The shooting of a feature-length historical action film 'Zakhar Berkut' directed began in Synevyrska Polyana in Zakarpattia region. First shots from the shooting scene were posted

Robert Patrick, the famous Hollywood actor is going to play the main part in 'Zakhar Berkut,' the film by Ukraine's film director Akhtem Seitablayev. The original story was created by Ivan Franko, the 19th-century poet and prosaic from western Ukraine. IMDb reported that on Tuesday.

Apart from Patrick, whom the TV audience may know as T-1000 from 'Terminator 2: The Judgment Day', Seitablayev will enjoy the company of U.S. filmmaker John Wynn, who previously worked with Guillermo del Toro and Marvel company. Famous U.S. producer Jeff Rice, who worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Silvester Stallone, Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, also joined the team. The film is to be aired next year.

Also, the UEFA Champions League trophy holder and the bronze medallist of Spanish La Liga, Real Madrid signed the contract with Ukraine's Andriy Lunin, the goalkeeper of the national team and Zorya Luhansk FC. Elbernabeu reported this on Wednesday.

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