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  • 09:50 24.11.2015 INTERFAX-UKRAINE
    Ukrainian military say mortar strikes recorded near Mariupol

    The Ukrainian military have recorded 30 instances of shelling along the contact line in Donbas, the press center of the Ukrainian army operation said on its Facebook account on Tuesday morning.

    "From 6:00 p.m. on Monday to 6:00 a.m. [on Tuesday], the adversary was firing anti-aircraft systems, grenade launchers, large-caliber submachine guns and small arms in the direction of Krasnohorivka, Pisky, Troitske, Avdiyivka and Maryinka in the Donetsk region," the press center said.

    Near the town of Artemivsk, militants' forces opened fire on the localities of Mayorsk and Zaitseve, it said. Strikes were also recorded near Bohdanivka and Shyrokyne near Mariupol, and the locality of Horikhove came under fire in the Luhansk region.

    "The adversary opened fire 30 times in the direction of our forces, seeking to provoke them," it said.

    The press center also says that at nightfall, militants' forces open fire on positions of the Ukrainian army near Mariupol, using, among other weapons, 82mm mortars, which are banned by the Minsk peace accords.

    The press center also notes that instances of militants' forces using mortars, which they hide among buildings in residential areas and in forests, to carry out strikes against Ukrainian positions have become more frequent.

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    • 09:48 24.11.2015 INTERFAX-UKRAINE
      Poroshenko signs law on special seizure of property for eliminating corruption risks

      President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has signed law on amendments into Criminal and Civil Codes of Ukraine on improvement of the institutions of social seizure for elimination corruption risks.

      The bill was passed by Verkhovna Rada on November 10 and taken back when the president signed it on November 23, the Ukrainian parliament said on its website.

      The law is part of the EU visa free package – the list of the bills which must be adopted for Ukrainian citizens to be allowed to travel to the EU without visas.

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      • The USA and Russia won’t be able to jointly act against ISIS – US Army Colonel
        EUROMAIDAN PRESS Kseniya Kirillova 2015/11/24

        There is no way that Russia and the USA will be able to jointly act against ISIS, given the current Russian regime, retired US Army Colonel told in an interview to the news outlet Novyi Region. According to him, there are certain issues that prevent the two countries from being allies, even though some of their interests intersect.

        “First, the US and the West do not, and should not, ally themselves with dictatorships that invade other countries. It is a moral imperative to keep Russia marginalized until they start behaving like a civilized nation. Remember, Russia did not begin airstrikes in Syria to fight ISIS. Their main reason was, and continues to be, the support of the Asad regime.”

        Apart from that, Oleg reminds that the Kremlin is trying its best to split the anti-ISIS coalition,

        as evidenced by its actions in France and attempts to split France away from the US, using the tragedy.

        “Yes, we have a fault in that as well, when our President refused to up the operations and stand with President Hollande. The largest contingent of ISIS comes from the Russian Caucasus. The FSB deliberately facilitates the foreign fighter flow out of their country as a means of security. They do not care where those experienced fighters go.”

        Colonel Borukhin admits that with the downing of the Russian airliner, Russia may have more personal reasons to fight ISIS, but admits that this does not make Putin an automatic ally of the West.

        “This does not change the situation in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, and it does not stop Putin from playing the zero-sum game in attempting to split the West to his own rise in relative power in Europe. The best we can hope for is the same situation as WWII, where the USSR was not a true ally. We did not coordinate operations with Russia, like we did with UK and France (and even Poland). We had a common goal — that’s it. We do need a coalition effort, but we do not need the current Russian regime to present an internal enemy of the coalition,” the colonel said.

        Source: nr2.com
        The USA and Russia won't be able to jointly act against ISIS - US Army Colonel -Euromaidan Press |

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        • Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov in Russia's Supreme Court appeal
          UT UKRAINE TODAY Nov. 24, 2015

          Russian court convicted Sentsov and sentenced him to 20 years in prison

          Russia's Supreme Court will hear an appeal in the case of Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov and co-defendant Oleksandr Kolchenko, an activist who was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

          Sentsov, was put on trial over the summer on charges of terrorism in Russia's southern city of Rostov-on-Don. In August a Russian court convicted and sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

          The 39-year old Crimean activist was arrested in the illegally annexed Crimean Peninsula in May 2014 and brought into Russia. He is being accused of creating a ‘terrorist group' on the orders of Ukraine's right wing Praviy Sector party in the Black Sea Peninsula.
          Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov in Russia's Supreme Court appeal - watch on - uatoday.tv

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          • Avakov proposes NSDC to terminate contracts for power supply to Crimea
            23.11.2015 | 16:05 UNIAN

            The National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) should take a decision to terminate the contracts for the supply of electricity to Crimea, Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said at an extraordinary cabinet meeting on Monday, according to an UNIAN correspondent.

            "I will speak as member of the government, not as head of the Interior Ministry. To my mind, answering questions about the embargo against Ukrainian products, which the Russian Federation threatened us a few days ago, I think we should take a political decision on the level of the NSDC, at the level of the government, in order to terminate contracts for the supply of electricity. It's not a question of the damaged power lines, but it is a question of our position," Avakov said.

            Avakov also said that the repair works could be carried out only at one of the damaged power transmission lines in Kherson region, namely at a 220 kV Kakhovka-Tytan power transmission line, where the law enforcement officers had conducted mine clearance.

            "As for the other lines, we insist that the repair works cannot be carried out there until we complete the inspection of these lines in terms of the potential threats of other explosions and sabotage attacks," the minister said.

            According to Avakov, the ministry has information that such attacks are possible and are being plotted.
            Avakov proposes NSDC to terminate contracts for power supply to Crimea : UNIAN news

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            • Ex-militant abandons his position and switches to Ukraine's side (Video)
              UT UKRAINE TODAY Nov. 24, 2015

              Security Service official reports of close to 20 people defecting over the past month

              It's a common story - militant fighters handing themselves in to Ukrainian authorities. Recently, another example. We met 40-year-old Yuriy Rud.

              He fled Donetsk after serving alongside militants for nearly two years. The former fighter explained he became disenchanted with the pro-Russian rhetoric.

              Yuriy Rud, ex-militant from Donetsk: "I've had enough of Putin…"

              Rud says he didn't kill Ukrainian soldiers and instead was stationed at checkpoints where he worked as a guard. He recounted wearing a Russian army uniform and receiving payment in Russian rubles. But how many are leaving? One Security Service official told us.

              Iryna, psychologist with Ukraine's Security Service: "In the last month approximately 20 people left to come here."

              Ukraine's Security Service launched a special program several months ago for those surrendering. It's title 'Waiting for You at Home'. Any fighters leaving the occupied territories are interrogated - to ensure they were not directly involved in hostilities.

              With these answers and existing intelligence, officials then make a judgment call. If not found criminally liable, the fighters are free to go. Investigators have found the pain of being seperated from family and friends is one of the main reasons fighters abandon their positions. Ex-militant abandons his position and switches to Ukraine's side - watch on - uatoday.tv

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              • RADIO FREE EUROPE Nov 24, 2015
                Three Detained After Ukraine Flag Attached To Moscow Skyscraper


                The stunt took place on November 23, two years after the start of the Euromaidan protests that ousted former President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014.
                @unkn0wnerror

                Police in Moscow have detained three people after they attached Ukraine's national flag to scaffolding on a Stalin-era skyscraper.

                The stunt took place on November 23, two years after the start of the Euromaidan protests that ousted former President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014.

                In August last year, five Russian men and women held a similar stunt in which a Soviet red star atop the same building was painted in the yellow-and-blue colors of the Ukrainian flag.

                A Moscow court found one of the activists guilty of hooliganism and vandalism, and sentenced him to 27 months in prison.

                The other four were acquitted. Three Detained After Ukraine Flag Attached To Moscow Skyscraper

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                • REUTERS World |Nov 24, 2015 7:17am EST
                  Russia says to halt gas supplies to Ukraine, mulling coal cut off over Crimea
                  MOSCOW

                  Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Moscow would cut gas supplies to Ukraine on Tuesday or Wednesday because Kiev had not paid up front for more gas and might also halt coal supplies to Ukraine in retaliation for a power blackout of Crimea.

                  Alexander Novak, in comments to Vesti FM radio station, was speaking as Russian-annexed Crimea continued to rely on emergency generators to meet its basic power needs after unknown saboteurs blew up electricity pylons supplying the peninsula with electricity over the weekend.

                  Pro-Ukrainian activists have so far prevented repairs to the damaged pylons and associated power lines.

                  "Today or tomorrow gas deliveries will be stopped because of lack of advance payment," said Novak, saying Ukraine was in any case using very little Russian gas.

                  He complained that Ukrainian authorities were not doing what they needed to allow repair crews to restore power to Crimea "out of some kind of political motivation", calling their inaction a crime.

                  "There are different options, political ones, economic ones," said Novak, when asked how Russia could retaliate.

                  "Russia delivers coal to the Ukrainian energy sector. We could, and maybe in this situation we need to, take a decision about halting deliveries of coal by our commercial organizations which deliver coal to Ukrainian power stations."

                  Russia says to halt gas supplies to Ukraine, mulling coal cut off over Crimea | Reuters
                  ==============================
                  ==============================


                  10:33 24.11.2015 INTERFAX-UKRAINE
                  Ukraine to meet its gas needs this winter if Russia decides to cut off gas supplies – Naftogaz head

                  Ukraine will be able to meet its demand for natural gas this winter using gas shipments from Europe even if Russia decides to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine, Naftogaz of Ukraine Chairman Andriy Kobolev wrote on his Facebook account on Monday evening.

                  "We will be able to provide for Ukraine's gas needs this winter from the European direction. And next winter. And any other [winter]. Diversification and the gas market really work," Kobolev said.

                  Kobolev also said he was greatly surprised to receive numerous questions from different people, who wanted to know what would happen "if our gas supplies are cut off on the part of the Russian Federation."

                  It was reported that Ukraine stopped supplying electricity to Crimea on November 21 after power lines had been blown up.

                  Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on November 23 that Russia could consider response measures with regard to Ukraine in light of the current power outage in Crimea.

                  Russian gas giant Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller, for his part, said that Ukraine had prepaid gas left only for a few days, after which, if no further payments are made, Gazprom would stop deliveries to Naftogaz.

                  Meanwhile, Ukrainian Energy and Coal Industry Minister Volodymyr Demchyshyn said that he saw no need to pay Russia's Gazprom in advance for gas deliveries for the period until the end of the fourth quarter of 2015 because Ukraine had sufficient gas reserves in its storage facilities and hoped for a reduction in the price for Russian gas in the first quarter of 2016.
                  Ukraine to meet its gas needs this winter if Russia decides to cut off gas supplies – Naftogaz head

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                  • Is Russia Insider sponsored by a Russian oligarch with the ties to the European far right?
                    EUROMAIDAN PRESS 2015/11/24

                    The emails leaked by the Anonymous International last year give us a few insights into the workings of the English language pro-Putin propaganda website Russia Insider.

                    Its editor Charles Bausman launched the website in September 2014, and described the rationale behind the website as follows:

                    It was started in September 2014 by a group of expats living in Russia who felt that coverage of Russia is biased and inaccurate.
                    […]
                    The problem is media control by a few corporations and interest groups, and their close ties with governments and business interests.
                    Instead of challenging, questioning, and fostering open discussion, they tend to promote those interests.

                    Ironically, this is what Russia Insider itself has been doing since its launch, namely publishing and re-publishing pieces of Russia’s disinformation warfare against the West and Ukraine.

                    The leaks reveal that Bausman, rather than relying on crowdfunding for Russia Insider, asks for money from a Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev via his associate Alexey Komov.

                    There were several interesting articles devoted to Malofeev in the international and Russian media. In the context of this blog, Malofeev is known for providing financial assistance to the pro-Russian extremists in Eastern Ukraine (for this very reason Malofeev was sanctioned by the EU, Norway and Switzerland), organising homophobic conferences in Russia, assisting French far right politicians in getting Russian money, and building European far right alliances.

                    Komov is a no less interesting figure. He is an employee of several organisations founded and funded by Malofeev, as well as a representative of the homophobic World Congress of Families in Russia. He is also an honorary president of the Lombardy-Russia Cultural Association, Russia’s front organisation in Italy established by the far right Lega Nord party.Komov even gave speech at the party’s congress at the end of 2013 that elected Matteo Salvini as its leader.

                    continue read: Is Russia Insider sponsored by a Russian oligarch with the ties to the European far right? -Euromaidan Press |

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                    • RADIO FREE EUROPE Nov 24, 2015
                      Poland Repatriates Ethnic Poles From Conflict-Torn Eastern Ukraine

                      KROLEWO MALBORSKIE, Poland -- A group of ethnic Poles from Ukraine's conflict-torn eastern region of Donetsk has arrived in Poland.

                      The group, numbering 188, was met by Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo on their arrival from Ukraine in the northern town of Krolewo Malborskie late on November 23.

                      "Welcome home. We will do everything we can to make you feel safe in the country that is yours now," she told them.

                      The ethnic Poles, from Mariupol, a port city near separatist-held areas on the Sea of Azov, arrived aboard four planes.

                      They will be housed for the first six months at a health facility near the city of Olsztyn, where they will undergo intensive Polish language training.

                      It is the second group of ethnic Poles to leave Ukraine and return to Poland since the conflict erupted in eastern Ukraine in early 2014.
                      Poland Repatriates Ethnic Poles From Conflict-Torn Eastern Ukraine

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                      • Turkey shoots down Russian warplane on Syria border: Vladimir Putin warns of 'serious consequences' - latest
                        Russian president has accused Turkey of "stabbing Russia in the back", as reports say one pilot has been killed and a second has been captured by Turkmen forces in Syria
                        TELEGRAPH Raziye Akkoc,Roland Oliphant & Louisa Loveluck 24 Nov 2015

                        • Turkey claims it shot down Russian military plane
                        • Putin: Turkey action blow in Russia's back
                        • Plane given 10 warnings in 5 minutes, Ankara says
                        • Russia denies it violated Turkey airspace
                        • Plane crashed after heavy ground fire, says Moscow
                        • One pilot reportedly dead, another captured
                        ------------------------------------------
                        Latest
                        13:32
                        Is this the pilot?

                        In this picture, on the left hand side, the flight jacket of a Russian fighter pilot is shown together with a grab from an unverified video which purportedly shows the unidentified body of pilot recovered after the plane was shot down.

                        I must stress that the Telegraph cannot confirm that the image on the right hand side is from today's crash but we are seeking to verify the image.
                        ---------------
                        13:25
                        Putin quotes in full

                        Roland Oliphant in Moscow has Mr Putin's quotes in full:

                        Quote Thanks for your condolences including for the downing of our military plane.

                        This event is in the context of our fight against terrorism - our military is fighting terrorism. But today’s loss was a blow in the back by the accomplices of terrorists. I can’t qualify this in any other way. Our plane was downed over Syrian territory by an air to air missile from a Turkish F16. It crashed four km from the Turkish border.

                        At the time it was attacked, it was at an altitude of 6000m and one kilometre from the border with Turkey. In any case our pilots never threatened the territory of Turkey. That much should be obvious.

                        The pilots were part of an operation against Isil in the mountainous areas of north Latakia, where there is a concentration of militants from the Russian Federation. That is, they were fulfilling their direct duty of preventing attacks by those who might return to Russia. And people who do that should be qualified as international terrorists.

                        I understand that every state has its own regional interests, and we will always treat them with respect. But we will never tolerate that the perpetrators of such crimes, as it is today.”

                        We have signed an agreement with our American partners to avoid clashes in the air, and Turkey was one of the countries that announced its participation in the US-led coalition against terrorism.

                        We will of course carefully analyse everything that happened. Today’s tragic event will have serious consequences including for Russia’s relationship with Turkey.

                        We have always treated Turkey not just as a close neighbour but as a friendly state. I don’t know who had an interest in what happened to day, but we did not.

                        Instead of contacting us immediately, as far as we know the Turkish side first turned to their partners in Nato to discuss this incident. As if they downed a Turkish plane and not ours. Do they want to put Nato at the service of Isil?
                        ---------------
                        13:02
                        Putin: Turkey stabbed Russia in the back

                        Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has accused Turkey of "stabbing Russia in the back" by shooting down a Russian jet today, writes Roland Oliphant in Moscow.

                        Speaking during a meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan, Mr Putin said the pilots had been "fulfilling their duty" "in the context of the fight against terrorism".

                        Quote The loss of our aircraft comes in the context of our fight agaisnt terrorism. But today’s loss was a blow in the back by the accomplices of terrorists. I can’t qualify this in any other way. Our plane was downed over Syrian territory by an air to air missile from a turkish F16. It crashed inside Syria, 4 km from the Turkish border. A

                        "At the time it was engaged it was at 6000m altitude and one kilometre from the Turkish border. In any case our pilots never threatened the territory of Turkey. This is obvious."

                        Mr Putin went on to accuse Turkey of turning a blind eye to vast quantities of Isil-produced oil crossing its territory, implying that it is one of the main sources of funding for the terror group and said such international support was crucial to the terror group's survival.

                        Quote Why they are killing people and committing so many atrocities, that's why they are conducting terrorist attacks throughout the world including in Europe," he said.

                        He was also bitterly critical of the Turkish response.

                        He was also bitterly critical of the Turkish response.

                        "Instead of contacting us immediately, as far as we know the Turkish side turned to their partners in Nato to discuss this incident. It is if one of their jets was shot down, and not one of ours."=

                        "We will analyse everything in detail and the serious consequences including for Russia’s relationship with Turkey."

                        • Meanwhile, Louisa Loveluck reports that rebels from Alwiya al-Ashar, the group that captured the Russian pilots, has told The Times that they shot one from the ground as he tried to steer his parachute to regime held territory.
                        -------------------
                        continue read
                        Turkey shoots down Russian warplane on Syria border: Vladimir Putin warns of 'serious consequences' - latest - Telegraph

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                        • Putin calls Turkey "accomplices of terrorists" after Russian jet shot down
                          24.11.2015 | 15:13 UNIAN

                          Putin warns Turkey of “significant consequences,” speaking ahead of his Sochi meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan.

                          "This event is beyond the normal framework of fighting against terrorism," Putin said, according to The Guardian.

                          "Of course our military is doing heroic work against terrorism... But the loss today is a stab in the back, carried out by the accomplices of terrorists. I can’t describe it in any other way. Our aircraft was downed over the territory of Syria, using air-to-air missile from a Turkish F-16. It fell on the Syrian territory 4km from Turkey," said the Russian leader.

                          Putin added that "neither our pilots nor our jet threatened the territory of Turkey. This is obvious." "They are fighting terrorists in the northern areas around Latakia, where militants are located, mainly people who originated in Russia, and they were pursuing their direct duty, to make sure these people do not return to Russia. These are people who are clearly international terrorists," Putin said.

                          The Russian president went on to say: "Taking into account that we signed an agreement on deconflicting with the US, and as we know Turkey was among the ones that has joined the US coalition. Since ISIS has such huge resources of hundreds of millions and billions of dollars coming from illicit oil sales, and they are protected by the armed forces of other states, then it’s clear why they are so brazen, why they are killing people, why they are carrying out terrorist attacks throughout the world including in the heart of Europe."

                          "We will analyse everything, and today’s tragic event will have significant consequences, including for Russia-Turkish relations," said Vladimir Putin. "We have always treated Turkey as a friendly state. I don’t know who was interested in what happened today, certainly not us. And instead of immediately getting in contact with us, as far as we know, the Turkish side immediately turned to their partners from NATO to discuss this incident, as if we shot down their plane and not they ours."
                          Putin calls Turkey "accomplices of terrorists" after Russian jet shot down : UNIAN news
                          =================
                          Erdogan going head to head w/Putin. Dwarfs don't scare Turks.
                          Last edited by Hannia; 25th November 2015, 00:14.

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                          • European Commission grants Ukraine special admission to join ‘Creative Europe' initiative (VIDEO)
                            UT UKRAINE TODAY Nov. 24, 2015

                            How will Ukraine's cultural sector benefit?

                            The European Commission has launched a framework program called 'Creative Europe'.

                            With a budget of EUR 1.46 billion, the project aims to help the cultural sector reach its economic potential and contribute to a country's growth and development. ‘Creative Europe' is open to cultural organizations from both EU and non-EU states. Ukraine was set to join last year but failed to sign an agreement ahead of a scheduled deadline.

                            This year the European Commission offered to significantly subsidize Ukraine's admission fee and in turn Kyiv is preparing to start the program as early as next year.

                            On Viewpoint joining us is Svitlana Fomenko, the former Ukrainian deputy minister of culture, to discuss Ukraine's plans for the Europe-wide initiative. European Commission grants Ukraine special admission to join ‘Creative Europe' initiative - watch on - uatoday.tv

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                            • France not to divert from its line regarding Ukraine despite dialogue with Russia on Syria - Klimkin
                              24.11.2015 | 15:40 UNIAN

                              France does not intend to step aside from its official line with regard to Ukraine despite the dialogue with Russia launched on the issue of Syria, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin tweeted.

                              "I’ve had an informative meeting with Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the French National Assembly Elisabeth Guigou. France does not intend to deviate from its line with regard to Ukraine despite the dialogue with Russia on the issue of Syria," Klimkin said.

                              Earlier, the Kremlin said that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Francois Hollande agreed to coordinate actions of the military authorities and special services in the course of the operation "against terrorist organizations" in Syria. France not to divert from its line regarding Ukraine despite dialogue with Russia on Syria - Klimkin : UNIAN news

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                              • RADIO FREE EUROPE Robert Coalson November 24, 2015
                                News Analysis: Crimean Tatars Push Kyiv's Hand On Recovering Crimea

                                When activists prevented authorities from repairing destroyed power lines that sent electricity from the Ukrainian mainland to Crimea -- which was annexed by Russia in 2014 -- they threw down a serious challenge to Kyiv.

                                The activists -- led by the Crimean Tatar community -- are increasingly disenchanted with the central government's previous policy of trying to minimize tensions along the administrative line and in southeastern Ukraine generally while confronting Moscow on the international level.

                                "The logic of those people who are calling for a goods blockade and an electricity blockade boils down to the idea that the key to returning Crimea is now not in the hands of the people of Crimea, but in the hands of Moscow," says Ukrainian journalist Pavel Kazarin.

                                "That means it is necessary to make it as costly as possible for Moscow to maintain the peninsula, to hang on to the annexed territory. This is the position of those who are enforcing the electricity blockade," Kazarin adds.

                                The idea, he says, is to burden the limping Russian economy as much as possible.

                                Power Takedown
                                The destruction of electricity pylons by unidentified attackers and the blocking of roads to prevent goods from entering Crimea represent a significant ramping-up of local tensions and a direct confrontation to Moscow. Previously, the government of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has largely followed a strategy of trying to minimize direct tension between Crimea and the rest of Ukraine with the hope that Kyiv's successful Eurointegration policies and other reforms would entice locals to want to return to Ukraine.

                                Pursuant to this line of thinking, Kyiv negotiated a deal to provide Russian electricity to the peninsula and declared the region a free-trade zone, meaning that Ukrainian providers could effectively trade duty-free with Russia. Crimean Tatar activists say the policy also prompted Kyiv to downplay human-rights violations on the peninsula and the disappearances of Crimean Tatars that they say are carried out by local, Russia-backed security organs.

                                But Crimean Tatar activists and others allied with them say that policy has not produced any results, has merely cemented Russia's de facto hold over the region, and has given Russia the time needed to undermine Ukraine's leverage by building infrastructure across the Kerch Strait.

                                "The [Ukrainian] government's inaction -- let us put it this way -- was the catalyst that made the leaders of the Crimean Tatar nation and its activists act," said Ukrainian Crimean Tatar Nation Rights Defense Committee coordinator Synaver Kadyrov on Ukrainian television on November 23. "You know, we cannot be indifferent to the situation of our [Crimean Tatar] compatriots in Crimea."

                                Poroshenko's government made a partial concession to the activists on November 23 by ordering a "temporary" halt to goods shipments to Crimea. The activists, however, have blocked the roads to the peninsula for more than a month now, so the cabinet's move does not change the situation on the ground. At the same time, the political allies of the protesters say the move is too little and does not reflect a change in strategy.

                                "Trade with occupiers must stop," says Verkhovna Rada Deputy Ihor Lutsenko, of the opposition Batkivshchina (Fatherland) bloc. "As far as I understand, there is an agreement that the free-trade regime that allows this trade will be suspended by a decision of the cabinet. But this is actually a step backward -- a law is a much more stable mechanism for regulating our relations with Crimea."

                                Fraught With Danger
                                If there is "proper" legislation on this matter, Lutsenko says, "we won't need any blockades or constant tensions."

                                But the loss of initiative is fraught with danger for Poroshenko and Ukraine's central government.

                                "Any government must exercise a monopoly over violence," journalist Kazarin says. "[Former President Viktor] Yanukovych didn't lose the moment the first protester threw a Molotov cocktail [during the 2013-14 Euromaidan protests], but at the moment when someone threw a Molotov cocktail and knew there would be no consequences. Now in Kherson Oblast [on the administrative line with Crimea] there is an open conflict over who has the power -- the activists or the government."

                                "[The government] must take up the initiative, and it must determine its own strategy on Crimea in order to survive, in order to keep the activists from replacing the government -- that is the first thing that official Kyiv demands," he concludes.

                                The consequences of adopting a harder line on Crimea and endorsing the energy blockade could be severe for Kyiv. Moscow has already said it will cut gas supplies to energy-dependent Ukraine -- purportedly for failure to make necessary prepayments -- and that it is considering further measures, including suspending deliveries of coal.

                                Meanwhile, the activists on the ground show no sign of backing down. Crimea Tatar leader and Verkhovna Rada Deputy Mustafa Dzhemilev, who is Poroshenko's special representative on Crimean Tatar questions, said on November 24 that there will be no new agreement on providing electricity to Crimea without the direct participation of Crimean Tatar representatives.

                                "Representatives of the Mejlis [the Crimean Tatar executive body] will take part in working out a new agreement, if there is one, of course," Dzhemilev said.

                                Lenur Islyamov, who is coordinating the blockade of Crimea for the Crimean Tatar community is also defiant and warns Kyiv of the political and public-relations costs of trying to break the blockade by force.

                                "We are not going anywhere," Islyamov told RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service on November 24. "Everyone should know we will stand here to the death. We are not going anywhere until electricity is cut off from Crimea [for good]. There has been no Crimean Tatar blood spilled here, in Ukraine, since the annexation there. If this happens, it will be a signal for Crimean Tatars everywhere." News Analysis: Crimean Tatars Push Kyiv's Hand On Recovering Crimea

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