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October 17 – October 23 News Digest: Top 7 Stories about Crimea

October 23, 2015 16:06 0 2105 QirimInfo
Дайджест недели
Afanasiev punished for his testimony, two more power line pylons blown up, UnionPay in Crimea and more.

Crimean political prisoner Afanasiev put into punishment isolation cell

October 20. Gennadii Afanasiev, who was convicted for allegedly preparing acts of terrorism in Crimea, was transported to penal colony in Syktyvkar and put into punishment isolation cell, reported Afanasiev’s lawyer Olexandr Popkov. The punishment was imposed after a razor was found in Afanasyev’s belongings. Afanasyev insists that it was planted and believes that the prison administration wants to toughen the conditions of his imprisonment. Besides being kept in smaller cells with stricter rules, prisoners in punishment isolation cells are restricted in their rights: they cannot be visited and cannot receive mail.

Some observers believe that this way Afanasiev is being punished for renouncing his written testimony during the trial on Ukrainian activists Oleg Sentsov and Olexandr Kolchenko. The whole case against them hinged on testimonies of Afanasiev and another witness, but Afanasiev said he signed the testimony under torture.

Two more power line pylons blown up near Crimean border

October 20. This week unknown individuals have blown up two pylons supporting two of the four different power lines that lead from Ukraine to Crimea. While some sources in Crimea and Ukraine say that the utility company was forced to turn the damaged power lines off and decrease the supply to Crimea, others say that the supply from Ukraine to Crimea did not change. Police is investigating the incidents, but fruitlessly so far.

Activists behind the trade blockade of Crimea say they did not damage the pylons, but will prevent utility company from repairing them, since they believe that Ukraine should not supply Crimea with electricity at all.

Ukrainian intelligence: 26 bodies of Russian marines brought from Syria to Crimea

October 20. According to Ukrainian intelligence services, 26 bodies of Russian marines have been brought from Syria to Sevastopol. They also claims that due to the inability of Russian command to provide satisfactory sanitary conditions there are numerous cases of infectious diseases among Russian soldiers in Syria.Russian authorities deny any deaths of Russian soldiers in Syria and say that Russian troops limit themselves to air strikes and do not fight on the ground, while one military source claims that three Russian soldiers were killed by a shell.

Russia includes 220 Crimean monuments in its list of objects of cultural heritage

October 20. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed a decree that includes more than 220 Crimean monuments, including Livadia Palace, where the Yalta Conference took place in 1945, Bakhchisaray Palace, Swallow's Nest and many more, in Russia’s list of objects of cultural heritage of federal importance. Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has objected saying that this decision violated international laws.

Russian bank: China UnionPay begins operations in Crimea

October 22. According to Russian BaykalBank, Chinese payment system UnionPay has already began its operations in Crimea and intends to replace Visa and MasterCard that were forced to leave the peninsula following sanctions after the annexation in 2014. BaykalBank says that it has started issuing UnionPay cards and they can be used in six Crimean cities.

BaykalBank has a deal with UnionPay and Zolotaya Korona, a Russian payment system, to issue their co-branded cards with is Russia, but Zolotaya Korona says is did not authorize issuing its cards in Crimea, while UnionPay declined to comment BaykalBank’s claims.

1500 Crimean cafes and restaurant closed in the last 18 months

October 22. In the last 18 months since Russia has annexed Crimea about 1500 Crimean restaurants and cafes have closedon the peninsula. According to Evgenii Shiglov, president of the Association of Restaurateurs of Crimea, there were 6000 restaurants and cafes in Crimea at the moment of the referendum, but there are only 4500 left now. Shiglov says that 4500 establishments are not enough to satisfy the demand. Most of the owners were closed because they “had trouble developing conceptually” and overpriced.

US extend ban on flights to Crimea

October 22. USA have extended its ban on flying to Simferopol and Dnipropetrovsk airports by a year until October 27, 2016. US Ministry of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration say they are monitoring the situation in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine and believe that flying there might be dangerous for US civil aviation.

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