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Ministry of Foreign Affairs Daily Briefing
26 March 2014 16:01

Regarding the situation in Crimea and on the Ukrainian borders (as of 12:00 March 26, 2014) 

Over the last 24 hours, there has been essentially no change in the situation in Crimea, on the borders of Ukraine and in the regions near the borders. The Russian side continues to attempt to destabilize the situation in the southeastern region of Ukraine.  The massing of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation continues along the border with Ukraine. 

We are particularly concerned by further violations by government officials of the Russian Federation of the rights of free speech and expression in the annexed Autonomous Republic of Crimea. 

Specifically, on May 9, 2014, Law 280.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation comes into effect, according to which any public calls for the implementation of actions aimed at violating the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation are punishable by a fine of 300,000 rubles. or the salary or other income of the convicted person for a period up to 2 years, or by compulsory community service for a term of up to 300 hours, or imprisonment for up to 3 years.

Similar actions using mass media outlets, as well as IT networks (including the Internet), are punishable by compulsory community service of 480 hours or imprisonment for up to 5 years. 

It is not hard to imagine that these rules will be actively used against Ukrainian citizens, as well as Crimean Tatars, who do not accept the annexation of Crimea and advocate against the Russian occupation.  We will carefully monitor the situation and record any fundamental human rights violations in Crimea and call on the international community to do the same. 

According to military sources, the massing of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation continues in the regions adjacent to the borders of Ukraine, specifically in the Bryanska oblast:

-  there is a cluster of military equipment in the village of Churovych, in the Klimovsk district of    the Bryansk oblast (about 18 km from the border);

-  on March 25, 2014,  two military trains with a total of 60 cars carrying personnel and equipment arrived in Klimov, the capital of the Bryanska oblast. We detected the delivery of communications and deployment apparatus, housing modules for accommodation of personnel and headquarter staff, medical facilities, military field bases;

-    the Russian Federation is actively using drones for aerial reconnaissance and monitoring of the situation in the border regions. Over the last 2 days, regional Border Services in the Eastern Border District have detected more than 40 flights of Russian UAVs. 

Working visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland Radoslav Sikorsky to Ukraine 

On April 26, 2014, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland Radoslav Sikorsky will come to Ukraine for a one-day working visit. 

The proposed agenda includes visits to Kyiv and Odesa. The minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Andrii Deshchytsia and Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatseniuk informed the Head of the Odessa Regional State Administration Vladimir Nemirovsky of this visit, which was just set up today. 

The Polish side also plans a lecture by the Foreign Minister for students at the I. Mechnikov Odesa National University, a visit to the consulate of Poland in Odesa, and to meet with the director of the EU Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM). 

Regarding the visit to Ukraine of the European Commission Delegation led by EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Štefan Füle and EU Commissioner for Budget and Financial Programming Janusz Lewandowski. 

On March 25-26, the European Commission Delegation led by EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule and EU Commissioner for Financial Programming and Budget Janusz Lewandowski is visiting Ukraine. 

The main event of the visit will be an expanded meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine with the European Commissioners, during which they will discuss issues related to the implementation of the future Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU. 

Together with the EU Commissioners, a large group of European experts arrived, representing a range of relevant directorates of the European Commission. During the meetings of these experts with representatives of the Ukrainian Ministries, they exchanged views on:

- cooperation on on the provision of financial and technical assistance to Ukraine;

- unilateral implementation by the EU of the Association Agreement provisions regarding the EU-Ukraine FTA (in the form of autonomous trade preferences);

- discussion of specific needs and providing of assistance, the conditions and methods of cooperation. 

During the visit, consultations took place between the representatives of the European Commission and relevant ministries in the following areas - macro-financial assistance, technical assistance from the EU, trade-including agricultural trade, as well as dialogue about a visa-free regime. 

While in Kyiv,  Commissioners Štefan Füle and Janusz Lewandowski will also hold a series of bilateral meetings with Ukrainian officials, community representatives, experts, political parties, during which they will discuss Ukraine's relations with the EU. 

Currently, the plenary portion of the expanded meeting of Stefan Fule and Janusz Lewandowski with Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk is taking place, attended by the Foreign Minister of Ukraine Andrii Deshchytsia, Finance Minister Alexander Shlapak, and First Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade Anatoliy Maksyuta. Afterwards, there will be a bilateral meeting between Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Stefan Fule and Janusz Lewandowski. After the meeting ends, there will be a press conference. 

Ukrainian-Lithuanian political consultations at the level of Deputy Foreign Ministers of both countries 

On March 25, 2014, on the initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Ukrainian -Lithuanian political consultations at the level of Deputy Foreign Ministers of both countries were held. The Ukrainian side was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Lubkivskyy, the Lithuanian by Vice Foreign Minister Andrus Krivas. 

During the consultations, particular attention was paid to issues related to the Russian aggression against Ukraine and securing practical support from Lithuania and the international community for our country in this important matter. 

It was emphasized that the leadership of Lithuania unequivocally supports the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and does not recognize the illegitimate annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. The Lithuanian side also urged the international community not to recognize the annexation of Crimea and to take appropriate decisive action in response to the aggressive actions of the Russian Federation. 

They also discussed current issues of Ukrainian-Lithuanian relations in the political, economic, defense, cultural and humanitarian spheres and agreed to a schedule of visits at the highest level in the near future. 

An exchange of ideas occurred related to possible methods of bilateral cooperation on the question of the European integration of Ukraine, specifically the relaying of Vilnius’s experience with European integration to Ukraine. 

The Meeting of Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Serhiy Kyslytsia with acting Head of the Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, Director of the Conflict Prevention Centre of the OSCE Secretariat A. Kobieracki 

On March 25, 2014, Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine S.O.Kyslytsya met with the acting Head of the Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, Director of the Conflict Prevention Centre of the OSCE Secretariat Adam Kobieracki. 

The two sides discussed the methods to be used by the Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, which will monitor the security situation and help to reduce tensions. 

The Congress of the Council of Europe has condemned Russia's annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol 

On March 25, 2014, during the 26th session of the Congress of local and regional authorities of the Council of Europe, a debate was held on the situation in Ukraine, which resulted in the adoption of the Declaration. 

The Congress made a clear assessment of the actions of the Russian Federation, defining them as "Russian annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol," and expressed support for the new legitimate government of Ukraine, particularly for its efforts to strengthen democracy, guarantee human rights of the citizens of Ukraine and of all ethnic minorities, and to ensure constructive dialogue between all political forces.

The members of the Congress - representatives of municipal and regional authorities throughout Europe - stressed that the so-called referendum in Crimea and Sevastopol is not only inconsistent with Ukrainian and international law, but was held without the minimum democratic safeguards inherent in any kind of vote. Thus, the Council of Europe, the body responsible for the development of local democracy in Europe and the provider of expert support for all local elections in the European space, did not leave open any possibility to claim the legality or legitimacy of the “referendum” or to question the moving of the border between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. 

The Declaration, in particular, noted that Crimea had a fairly high degree of autonomy within Ukraine, which could have been expanded after consultation with Ukrainian authorities. 

The Congress rejected all the amendments to the text of the Declaration which were made during the debate by the delegation of the Russian Federation and called for the restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine. 

Following the debate, the Congress decided to send a special mission to Ukraine, including to Crimea, for a more detailed analysis of the situation and to discuss ways to implement reforms in the sphere of local self-government. 

Regarding xenophobia and other forms of intolerance in the Russian Federation 

Yesterday we informed you of the concern in Ukraine caused by the growing xenophobia, anti-Semitism and racism in the Russian Federation. In addition to the previously cited information, it is appropriate to draw attention to other specific events that have been recorded this year in the Russian Federation. 

Thus, on January 18, 2014, in the Khabarovsk region, on the 30th Anniversary of Victory Square, the monument to soldiers who died during World War II was defaced with a swastika. 

At the end of January of this year, in the city of Kursk, unknown vandals painted Neo-Nazi symbols on the fence in the vicinity of the stadium "Locomotive".

On March 8, in Izhevsk, unknown vandals painted swastikas and left inscriptions insulting the government authorities on the monument to the military and workers of Udmurtia. 

In February of this year, three people were killed in xenophobic and Neo-Nazi motivated attacks and at least 4 premises were damaged at the hands of vandals. 

Since the beginning of this year, these types of crimes affected 14 people in 6 regions, 6 of whom died. 

2013 was a record year for the number of offenses related to ethnic identity.

In March of last year - in the city of Rostov-on-Don, a local football fan died during a conflict with natives of the Caucasus. In response to his death, an ultranationalist event named  “Russian Day of Anger” was held in 10 cities of the Russian Federation. 

In June, in the city of Udomlya in Tverska oblast, a gathering of nationalists from many regions of Russia was attended by about 300-400 people, shouting xenophobic slogans. 

In July there was a well documented incident in Pugachev, where local residents held unauthorized meetings, tried to block the federal highway between Volgograd and Samara, and staged numerous riots in the neighborhood inhabited by people from Chechnya. 

Subsequently, many similar nationalistic actions occurred in the cities of St. Petersburg, Ekaterinburg, Tula, Voronezh, Perm, Saratov and others. 

The  most notable event related to ultra-right groups happened in the Biryulyovo district (Moscow) where clashes occurred under xenophobic slogans, and quickly escalated into large-scale anti-immigration riots. Afterwards, Moscow nationalists organized a new wave of protests called "Our response to Kurban-Bairam,” during which participants formed huge columns and marched towards Biryulyovo. 

We believe that these events and other xenophobic manifestations in the Russian Federation should become a matter of serious concern in the international community. 

Regarding the denial of entry into Ukraine of Russian crew members 

Today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation distributed a comment on the practice of denial of entry onto the territory of Ukraine of Russian crews, which supposedly is widespread. 

In this regard, I would like to note the following.

Indeed, on the night of March 23-24, at Borispil airport, while processing the passengers who arrived on the Russian airline "Aeroflot", in accordance with the directive of law enforcement authorities in Ukraine on the prohibition of entry of certain persons onto the territory of Ukraine, a citizen of the Russian Federation was denied entry into Ukraine. The person, who carried a Russian Federation passport, was one of the pilots of the plane. The other crew members were allowed entry into Ukraine- the right to cross the border was not restricted. However, the crew commander decided that other crew members should not cross the border. 

Two similar cases occurred in the Donetsk and Kharkov airports in early March. There, two Russian citizens who were members of the crew were denied entry. In those cases, the directive of law enforcement authorities of Ukraine on the prohibition of entry of certain persons onto the territory of our country was again enforced. 

In these cases, the representatives of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine acted entirely within their authority, fulfilling orders of law enforcement authorities of Ukraine. 

We reject the accusations that this practice is widespread. However, in the case of an official ban of certain foreigners to enter Ukraine, border guards are required to deny entry, regardless of what country the person has citizenship. 

In each case, individuals who were denied entry into Ukraine were issued a formal decision on the refusal, stating on what basis they were prohibited from entering Ukraine. 

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