The situation in Donbas conflict area continued to escalate at the beginning of the week, two Ukrainian soldiers killed on October 17 - one Ukrainian defender died as a result of the hostilities. Another one was fatally wounded as a result of an explosion of an unknown explosive device. Russia-backed militants reduced their activity by the end of the week - most of the attacks took place in Donetsk sector on Thursday, causing zero casualties among Ukrainian soldiers.
Besides, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office filed charges against Russian army general who ordered to shell Avdiivka, Donetsk region in February 2017. The authority stressed that at least two Ukrainian army soldiers and one civilian perished due to actions of the Russian army in this area back then. Prosecutor General’s Office added that the officer had charges against him filed within the investigation of crimes, committed by the Russian military and Kremlin-backed mercenaries in Donbas.
Minsk talks group gathered for a session in Belarusian capital this week. They discusse observing the so-called ‘school ceasefire’ and releasing hostages who are now illegally held in Donbas. The sides also talked through opening Zolote checkpoint and maintenance works on the bridge in Stanytsia Luhanska, which was previously damaged by shells.
Protests near Verkhovna Rada
Allies of Mikheil Saakashvili, former Odesa region governor and the leader of the Movement of New Forces political party, rallied near Ukrainian parliament.
The organizers demanded to deprive Ukrainian lawmakers of parliamentary immunity, to change election law creating open party lists, and to create anti-corruption court.
In general, the situation near the Parliament was quiet despite a fight of Ukrainian MP Volodymyr Parasyuk with Valeriy Heletey, the head of the State Guard of Ukraine, and an accident with MP Hocharenko hit with eggs.
The National Guard and Police blocked off the government quarter in the downtown of Kyiv.
On October 18, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko wrote on his Facebook page that security agencies had the information and there are established facts of possession and purchase of weapons by the members of illegal groups, which function inside the protesting crowd. The enhanced security measures during the protests were explained with exactly these facts.
Earlier, law enforcers detained radicals preparing provocations for protests in Kyiv on October 17.
Deadly car accident
Late in the evening on October 18, a SUV drove into a crowd of people in Kharkiv. As a result, five people died, six more were injured. The tragedy happened at about 8:45 pm at the crossing of Sumska street and Mechnykova lane. The driver of Lexus RX ran on red lights which led to a crash with Volkswagen Touareg.
The driver of Lexus, a 20-year-old Alyona Zaitseva, the half-sister of lustrated deputy district attorney, is now arrested and faces up to ten years in prison.
A woman, who is 20 weeks pregnant, was badly injured in the car accident, however, doctors managed to preserve the fetus and the prognosis is positive.
During the court session on choosing the pre-trial restrictions, prosecution shared the results of the medical exams - Olena Zaitseva used opiates not long before the tragedy occurred.
Ukrainian Parliament: medical and electoral reform, cancellation of parliamentary immunity
Verkhovna Rada adopted medical reform. A highly debated bill introduces the new system of state funding of treatment and medicine, changes for governmental authorities that will manage state funds, it also provided the accessible and quality medical service in the Ukrainian villages.
Apart from that Ukrainian parliament considered three alternative draft laws that provide for electoral reform on October 19.
Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine starts the procedure of cancellation of MPs immunity. The presidential draft law provides the amending of article 80 of the Constitution of Ukraine. Particularly, the name of the article ‘MPs of Ukraine are guaranteed the immunity’ is removed as well as the norm that provides ‘MPs of Ukraine cannot be prosecuted, detained or arrested without permission of the Verkhovna Rada’.
Developments in illegal amber production case
Security agency detained Boryslav Rozenblat, Ukrainian MP not affiliated with any faction, in Zhuliany airport on the attempt to leave the county for Germany. Rozenblat himself states that he published a message that he had notified National Anti-Corruption Bureau on his trip beforehand. As it was reported earlier, Ukraine’s parliamentary committee recommended lifting MP’s immunity due to the accusations of undue influence and bribery amounting to $280 thousand. Kyiv court chose a $ 270,000 bail as a preventive measure for Rozenblat. The ankle monitor was Rozenblat removed from the MP on October 17. Rozenblat was wearing it since August staying under home arrest.
Another MP accused of corruption and bribery, Maksym Polyakov, stated that the charges against him were dropped and he expects complete withdrawal of charges in few months.
Maksym Polyakov is suspected of taking bribes and abusing power; he is one of the key suspects in the so-called ‘amber case’. Polyakov and his counterpart Boryslav Rozenblat are charged with taking 15,000 dollar-bribe from a company that intended to change the acting legal frameworks concerning the production of amber in Ukraine.