Home / World / Ukraine News Today May 19, 2017: Three Ukrainian soldiers wounded amid 40 attacks in Donbas; EU on social networks ban: national security measures should not affect right to free expression

Ukraine News Today May 19, 2017: Three Ukrainian soldiers wounded amid 40 attacks in Donbas; EU on social networks ban: national security measures should not affect right to free expression

Ukraine News Today: Three Ukrainian soldiers wounded amid 40 attacks in Donbas; EU on social networks ban: national security measures should not affect right to free expression; Ukrainians not to be punished for using prohibited Russian social networks
Ukraine News Today May 19, 2017: Three Ukrainian soldiers wounded amid 40 attacks in Donbas; EU on social networks ban: national security measures should not affect right to free expression

Three Ukrainian soldiers wounded amid 40 attacks in Donbas in last day

Russia’s hybrid military forces attacked Ukrainian army positions in Donbas 40 times in the past 24 hours with three Ukrainian soldiers reported as wounded in action, according to the press service of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Headquarters, Joinfo.com reports with reference to UNIAN.

“The Mariupol sector: 25 enemy attacks were recorded. In particular, the militants repeatedly attacked fortified ATO positions near the villages of Shyrokyne, Vodiane, Talakivka, Lebedynske, and Berdianske, using 120mm mortars. The defenders of Shyrokyne came under fire from 122mm artillery systems. Moreover, the enemy used light weapons against our fortified positions near the villages of Bohdanivka, Chermalyk, and Pavlopil,” the report says.

The southern outskirts of the town of Avdiyivka in the Donetsk sector remained to be a hot spot. In the evening, the enemy started to use 122mm artillery systems, 120mm and 82mm mortars, grenade launchers and machine guns to shell the Ukrainian soldiers in this direction. In addition, the occupiers used 82mm mortars to attack the Ukrainian positions near the village of Kam’ianka. They also fired heavy machine guns not far from the village of Nevelske. Furthermore, the illegal armed groups opened fire from grenade launchers of various systems and guns of infantry fighting vehicles several times, aiming at the Ukrainian positions near the village of Zaitseve.

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“The Luhansk sector: there were five recorded instances of militant shelling in the past day. In the evening, the Russian occupation forces used 82mm mortars and grenade launchers to shell the Ukrainian soldiers near the village of Troyitske, as well as grenade launchers and small arms near the villages of Malynove, Novozvanivka and Novo-Oleksandrivka,” the press service said.

In addition, the militants once again shelled residential areas of Ukrainian towns in the past day. “Having attacked the town of Krasnohorivka with mortars yesterday morning, the enemy did not stop. In the evening, the Russian-backed mercenaries fired 120mm mortar shells at the residential sector on the eastern outskirts of the village of Berdianske,” the report reads. Two residential buildings on Morska Street were completely destroyed and some more houses were seriously damaged in the attack. Fortunately, none of the civilians was injured, the ATO HQ said.

EU on social networks ban: national security measures should not affect right to free expression

The European Union admits that national security is a prerogative of the Ukrainian authorities, at the same time noting Brussels expects that the restrictive measures do not affect the right to free expression, that’s according to a statement by Jurgis Vilcinskas, Head of the Press and Information Section at the EU Delegation to Ukraine, according to UNIAN.

“We are aware of the decision of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine to block a number of Russia-based online services including popular social media platforms in Ukraine in the framework of therestrictive measures adopted by Ukraine,” the EU Delegation said. “We have heard the public statements of the Ukrainian authorities that the decision was based on national information security concerns and that over the past months Ukraine has been the target of numerous disinformation campaigns and cyber-attacks,” the diplomats wrote.

“We recognise that the protection of national security is the prerogative of the Ukrainian government,” reads the statement. “However, we expect the authorities to ensure that restrictive measures taken on the grounds of national security do not have a negative impact on the fundamental right to free expression,” Jurgis Vilcinskas wrote.

At the same time, the EU Delegation to Ukraine looks forward to further explanations of the Ukrainian authorities, including as to the temporary nature of the said measures.

Ukrainians not to be punished for using prohibited Russian social networks

No Ukrainian citizens will be held accountable for using prohibited Russian social networking sites, Valentyn Petrov, the head of the information security service at the secretariat of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council (NSDC), said on Friday, according to Interfax-Ukraine.

“We don’t touch the content, and even if some user [gets access] – there are many ways of going around [the ban] now, various VPN, TOR, you can use them – users will not be punished for it in any way,” Petrov said on 1 plus 1 TV channel.

There will be no punishment even for viewing illegal content on these social networks because investigative actions will be impossible in such situations as the servers are located in Russia, he said.

The sanctions have been imposed not on the VKontakte or Odnoklassniki services as such, but on the legal entities that own them, but the sanctions envisage restrictions on these companies’ access to public telecommunications networks, Petrov said.