Anton Naumlyuk: Crimean Tatar political prisoner Ruslan Zeytullaev on Day 19 of hunger strike protest

By Anton Naumlyuk, journalist and freelance correspondent for Radio Svoboda (all photos/video by Anton Naumlyuk)
04.21.2017 Please note: posted on 04.23.2017 – Zeytullaev is on Day 19 of hunger strike protest on day of posting
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine

Photo: Anton Naumlyuk

Ruslan Zeytullaev was brought to court. He looks gaunt, but is holding steady. Lawyers tried to persuade him to quit the hunger strike, but Ruslan has refused to do so until the verdict is passed. Emil Kurbedinov reminded [Ruslan] of Sakharov’s letter to Mustafa Dzhemilev during his hunger strike. (VoU note: the original letter implored Dzhemilev to “stop the hunger strike, as your death will only bring joy to our enemies.”)

“I’ll be ready to give up, if I cannot read the prayer [five times daily], for example, if I start fainting, but I have not missed a single one yet,” Ruslan replied. In the SIZO, they make three attempts every day to try to persuade him to go off the hunger strike.

According to the SIZO’s medical service, “Zeytullaev’s condition is satisfactory, there are no medical contraindications for attending the trial, his weight is 55 kg [121 lbs], the diagnosis is basic starvation.” Ruslan can no longer participate in the debates that began today, he does not have enough strength, he is going to deliver his final word [closing statement]. The court allowed him to speak while seated.

Source: Anton Naumlyuk FB 

Ruslan is being tried for the second time. The Supreme Court decided to address the consequences of the incompetence displayed by the Crimean FSB officers, who at the time of the arrest of the first Hizb, entirely consisted of former SBU [agents], and sent the case for revision. Not to ensure proper trial, of course, but to extend the term. He has been on hunger strike for 18 days and does not intend to stop, despite all of the requests and attempts to dissuade him. His hunger strike, like the flash mob in Ukraine, cannot change anything. But, he stated today in his final word, – “there are moments in life when it is impossible not to do what is necessary.” So he decided that now it is necessary to starve in earnest. He is exhausted, is rapidly losing weight, has difficulty walking, and is not giving up.

“I want to pass on a huge ‘Salaam’ to my people, to the citizens of Ukraine who are supporting me at this difficult time. I want to say that even though my strength is almost gone at this time, I remain firm in my convictions and I will always stand up for the truth. For the truth that I chose for myself from the outset. Today’s situation is the second trial, which, I believe, wants to send me away for a very long time, by hook or by crook. I am grateful to everyone who supports me, but I will not end the hunger strike until I hear the verdict from the judges. And everything that they are accusing me of is an utter lie. Thank you.”

He asked me to record this. Truthfully, I rarely say something like this, but today, the judge has created all the conditions necessary for journalists to work, so thanks for that. “Use the break for the intended purpose,” the judge told me as he was leaving. I am publishing this here, for what it’s worth.

Ruslan has a family at home, and I videotaped them as well. Then I came to Rostov and showed Ruslan the video from Crimea, while he stood in the same cage where once stood Sentsov, and Primov, and Vaitov and Seifullayev. I honestly do not know what else I can do to help them all.

Source: Anton Naumlyuk FB

Additional Reading:
CrimeaSOS: Appeal of NGOs with regards to hunger strike of the prisoner of Kremlin Ruslan Zeytullaev

Halya Coynash: Russian prosecutor demands 17 years for Crimean Tatar political prisoner Ruslan Zeytullaev

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Dmitry Tymchuk: Russian command changes the organizational structure of the “1st DNR” and “2nd LNR” Army Corps 04.05.2017

information_resistance_logo_engDmitry Tymchuk, Head of the Center for Military and Political Research, Coordinator of the Information Resistance group, Member of Parliament (People’s Front)
Photo credit: Anton Skyba, with permission
04.05.2017 (April 5, 2017)
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine

(See end of post for acronym glossary)

Operational data from Information Resistance:

Between March 29th and April 4th of this year [2017], the intensity of fire strikes on Ukrainian troop positions and settlements inside Ukrainian-controlled territory decreased (the decline [began after] April 1st). During this period, units of the 1st and 2nd Army Corps of the Russian Federation occupation forces in Donbas carried out a total of about 440 artillery raids (compared to nearly 600 in the previous one-week period).

Despite certain agreements reached on the so-called “Easter ceasefire,” Russian-terrorist troops continue to actively shell Ukrainian troop positions and settlements using 120-mm and 82-mm mortars, 122-mm cannon artillery, armored vehicles, and, sporadically, 100-mm MT-12 “Rapira” anti-tank guns, anti-aircraft systems, anti-tank missile systems, and stand-mounted grenade launchers (AGS-17/21 and SPG-9).

In the past 24 hours, the tensest situation was observed in the coastal region (along the PavlopilShyrokyne stretch). The occupiers shelled ATO forces’ advanced positions using, amongst other weapons, 120-mm mortars and 100-mm anti-tank guns, as well as individual BBM armored combat vehicles that carried out shelling from pre-established camouflaged firing positions.

East of Hnutove and southeast of Vodyane, two occupier BMP-2’s were in action, with the enemy in these sectors also using at least two 82-mm mortars. In addition, a BTR-80 shelled for an extended period, maneuvering from the direction of Sakhanka and north of the NovoazovskMariupol highway. From the direction of Sosnivske, occupier artillery (four 122-mm guns) has been active from positions between Pavlopil and Chermalyk, firing shells over a wide area.

In the Dokuchajevsk area (a section in the Taramchuk–Yasne–Berezove “triangle”), there has been a sharp pick-up in enemy activity, with the active use of 82-mm and 120-mm mortars, ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft artillery systems, and stand-mounted AGS-17 and SPG-9 grenade launchers.

Near Viktorivka, the occupiers tried to inflict fire damage on the ATO forces’ advanced units with the use of large-caliber machine guns and AGS-s [automatic grenade launchers].

Near Krasnohorivka (south of the settlement and on the orphanage grounds), [the enemy used] short bursts of mortar shelling from 82-mm mortars, with the occasional engagement of NSB-12.7 “Utes” heavy machine guns.

The occupiers were also considerably active near Avdiivka, in the section from the Butivka mine to the area north of the industrial zone, as well as in the PiskyOpytne area. Positions in Butivka, near the ring road, and in the industrial zone came under fire from 120-mm and 82-mm mortars, AGS-17 automatic grenade launchers and heavy machine guns. The use of grenade launchers and 82-mm mortars was noted in the Vodyane and Pisky area. To the east of the sand quarry, there was shelling by 120-mm and 82-mm mortars from both Kruta Balka and Vasylivka directions. In addition, BTR-70/80 and MT-LBs fired from their heavy machine guns at the advanced positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Avdiivka’s industrial area. Photo: Anton Skyba

The occupiers’ mobile fire group from Stakhanov was operating in the stretch between Sokilnyky and Zholobok. The group consisted of three 120-mm mortars and two 82-mm 2B9 “Vasilek” automatic mortars, mounted on transport.

Enemy sniper groups were highly active in the vicinity of Maiorsk, Verkhnotoretske, Krasnohorivka, Avdiivka, Novotroitske, Pyshchevyk, Hnutove, Shyrokyne, Vodyane and Troitske. The snipers carry out fire mainly at night.

*****

By order of the Center of Territorial Troops of the Southern Military District of the Russian Armed Forces, the Russian command of the “1st Army Corps of the DNR” and the “2nd Army Corps of the LNR” has initiated changes in the organizational and staffing structure of its units and formations. Namely, the size of tank battalions included in the units of these army corps is being changed from 3 companies to 4 companies; an additional tank has also been introduced to some tank battalions (serving as the vehicle of the deputy battalion commander). After these changes, the number of tanks in the military units and formations of the two army corps will exceed 450 (according to IR Group‘s data, the number of tanks as of February 2017 was 380 – but it must be emphasized that in both cases, this number only includes the equipment within military units and does not include tanks kept in storage at the “L/DNR” bases or training facilities).

In addition to that, the two army corps currently include some 900 units of other armored combat vehicles, over 1000 artillery systems (neither figure is different compared to February 2017), and about 400 anti-aircraft systems (a 50-unit increase).

During these organizational and staffing changes, the separate special-purpose radio battalion of the “2nd Army Corps of the LNR” has been disbanded due to its low effectiveness, and its tasks have been handed over to the regular radioelectronic intelligence unit of the Russian Armed Forces, which is present in the temporarily occupied territory of Luhansk oblast on a rotational basis.

The occupiers are continuing active construction efforts to complete and improve their positions along the northern outskirts of Debaltseve and the Debaltsevske village (formerly Kommuna). A network of platoon strongpoints and a fortified zone have been deployed in this direction of operations. The construction efforts utilize 5-7 units of machinery every day (mainly “civilian” excavators, bulldozers, and dump trucks; however, one PZM-2 [regimental digger] has also been identified). The occupiers are also renewing existing mine barriers in this area and laying down new ones. The work is being continuously supervised by Russian “advisors.”

Active efforts to equip positions are also being carried out in the vicinity of Smile [“Smileh”] village (Luhansk oblast, Slovyanoserbsk district); the same area shows an increased accumulation of enemy forces and equipment. Two 120-mm mortars and one ZU-23-2 were observed moving between the former checkpoint N32 and the Kombat [Battalion Commander] Monument, towards Sentyanivka (formerly Frunze); and two Kamaz trucks with personnel as well as two BMP-1’s, through Smile.

Due to the increasingly frequent theft and illegal transport to Russia of weapons, ammunition, and other supplies, the command of the “1st AC of the DNR” and the “2nd AC of the LNR” have issued orders to plan and conduct spot checks of weapon ordnance and fuel warehouses within the corps’ units. “Military commandants” of garrisons are responsible for organizing cooperation with the commanders of units charged with securing and defending the warehouses in question.

During the past week, the following deliveries were made to the “L/DNR” from the Russian Federation in order to keep units and formations of the “1st AC of the DNR” and the “2nd AC of the LNR” supplied with armaments, military equipment and fuel: 17 armed vehicles (mainly BMP-1 and BMP-2), 6 train cars of artillery munitions, and 25 cisterns of fuel and lubricants, for a total weight of 1,249 tons.

The demand for “new passports,” which were originally popular after Russia had recognized these “documents” as valid, has waned in both the “DNR” and the “LNR,” especially in towns and settlements close to the demarcation line. This is likely related to the new wave of rumors, which claim that the SBU is promptly receiving the lists of every  “DNR” or “LNR” “passport” holder, and detains them after they cross the demarcation line. According to one version of the rumor, the lists of names are procured for the SBU by Ukrainian hacker groups; another version claims that “L/DNR” officials hand the names over to Ukrainian special services voluntarily.

The “Ministry of Justice of the LNR” has completed the re-registration of Ukrainian coal enterprises in occupied areas of Luhansk oblast, affiliating them with Vneshtorgservis LNR Closed Joint Stock Company. The “state bank of the LNR” has reserved current accounts for these enterprises. Employees of Rovenkiantratsyt, Sverdlovantratsyt and Krasnodonuhol (formerly controlled by Rinat Akhmetov) have been instructed to hand in their resignation notices and apply for jobs with Vneshtorgservis LNR CJSC, instead. Meanwhile, members of the “law enforcement bodies of the LNR” have been ordered to prevent employees of the coal industry, especially managers and highly trained professionals, from departing to Ukrainian-controlled territory.

Source: Dmitry Tymchuk FB 

Glossary:

AC – Army Corps
ACV – armored combat vehicle
AGS-17 – automatic grenade launcher
ATO – Anti-Terrorist Operation
BMP – infantry fighting vehicle
BTG – battalion tactical group
BTR, APC – armored personnel carrier
BRDM – armored reconnaissance and surveillance vehicle
BRM – armored reconnaissance vehicle
DAP – Donetsk International Airport
DNR – “Donetsk People’s Republic”
DRG – sabotage and reconnaissance group
ELINT – Electronic Intelligence
GRU – Russian Defense Intelligence, the main military foreign-intelligence service of the Russian Federation
KSM – command and staff vehicle
LNR – “Luhansk People’s Republic”
MGB – Ministry of State Security
MOD – Ministry of Defense
MT-LB – light multipurpose tracked vehicle
MLRS – multiple-launch rocket systems
OMSBR – Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade
SBU – Ukrainian Secret Service
SPG-9 – stand-mounted grenade launcher
TZM, TLV – transporter-loading vehicle
UAV – Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (drones or other)
ZU-23-2 – anti-aircraft artillery system

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Dmitry Tymchuk: Increased activity among enemy sniper groups in the АТО zone – Military update 03.29.2017

information_resistance_logo_engDmitry Tymchuk, Head of the Center for Military and Political Research, Coordinator of the Information Resistance group, Member of Parliament (People’s Front)
03.29.2017
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine

(See end of post for acronym glossary)

Operational data from Information Resistance:

In the ATO zone of Donbas, from March 22 to 28, the intensity of shelling against Ukrainian troop positions and settlements on Ukrainian-controlled territory decreased slightly generally. In total, during this period, units of the Russian-terrorist forces (“1st DNR Army Corps” and “2nd LNR Army Corps”) carried out nearly 600 artillery raids (780 over the previous week) using 82/120-mm mortars, cannon artillery, 122-mm “Grad-P” portable rocket launchers, and the weaponry on armored combat vehicles.

At the same time, the command of the Russian-terrorist forces ordered a resumption of attacks on settlements in the occupied Russian territory of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, then further accused the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) of the shelling. These armed provocations were marked by a high level of organization – as a rule, they were recorded when a large number of representatives of the Russian media arrived in a given location. Thus, the main task for the given media representatives became the preparation of a series of staged scenes of a “sharp aggravation” of the situation in Donbas caused by the alleged shelling of the peaceful settlements by the UAF, and coverage of the preparations for a mythical large-scale attack by the UAF. During this period, daily management reports were recorded by the leaders of the “1st DNR Army Corps” and the “2nd LNR Army Corps,” in advance of the prearranged (time and place) visits to localities to enable film crews from Russian TV to record staged material.

During this period, activity by enemy sniper groups increased substantially at the frontline, with the simultaneous transfer of additional sniper units to Donbas from Russia (usually drawn from units of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Federation Armed Forces). Observed also was the transfer of Russian snipers from amongst Russian mercenaries and local militants trained at training centres in the Rostov oblast. Thus, a sniper group of 20 Russian service personnel, including women, arrived near Rovenky. The “9th regiment of the 1st Army Corps” (deployed in the Novoazovskyi district) is actively staffing its divisions up to full strength with snipers arriving from Russia. By the end of March, militants aim to have fully staffed divisions in this area.

In the district of Donetsk (along the entire section from Pisky to the ring road near the Almaz), units of Russian-terrorist troops are hurriedly increasing stocks of anti-tank weapons. Near the DAP, the occupiers have covertly moved antitank assets (at least two anti-tank missile systems and three MT-12 Rapira anti- tank guns) up to the front line. Additionally, several stand-mounted anti-tank grenade launchers have been transferred to the western outskirts of Spartak.

A tank unit of the occupier’s has been pulled back from the front line. Previously, it operated opposite the Avdiivka industrial zone, near elevation 272.2, and was used to shell both the industrial zone and the old quarter of Avdiivka (seven camouflaged tanks in scattered formation). At the same time, the occupiers have restricted the movement of civilians and road traffic in the Kashtanove district near Vokzalna Street, a possible sign of the redeployment of a new unit to this area.

Near Mineralne (Yasynuvatskyi district), the “1st DNR Army Corps” command has deployed two militant motorized infantry companies (several Kamaz trucks staffed by personnel in unmarked uniforms).

In order to ensure the supply of weapons, fuel and ammunition to both units and formations of the two “Army Corps”, ten 122-mm “Grad” MLRS (including six with ammunition), about 20 tanks, at least 15 BMP infantry fighting vehicles and about 1,300 tons of fuel and lubricants were delivered from Russia.

The latest consignment of Cossacks has arrived in Luhansk (about 50 personnel from the so-called Voyska Donskogo or “Don Militia”).

Between March 27-28, 2017, artillery spotter training took place in the “1st brigade” and “9th regiment” of the “1st DNR Army Corps”.

Military exercises are underway for armoured vehicle and tank group crews of the “1st DNR Army Corps” at the training ground near Ternove (Shakhtarsk district).

Near Shakhtarsk, the militants have set up a sapper training base at the “DNR Ministry of Emergency Situations” centre.

The “DNR” leadership intends to initiate an “inspection of ecologically hazardous facilities” for the benefit of representatives of international organizations (primarily the OSCE) on sites located near the demarcation line on Ukrainian-controlled territory. Initiation of this issue is being launched within the framework of the “Humanitarian programme for the reunification of the people of Donbas”. The official purpose is to check the level of environmental threat to human habitation in the adjacent areas. However, according to the “DNR” leaders’ plans, the composition of the commission carrying out these inspections should include representatives of the “State Committee for environmental policy and natural resources reporting to the ‘DNR’ leader” – set up in mid-March of this year, “environmental experts” from the “DNR”, and representatives of international organizations (representatives from Ukraine are not expected to take part).

In the “LNR”, a sharp rise in crimes committed by “service personnel” of the “2nd LNR Army Corps” is being recorded. In the Perevalsk district, three militants trying to break into a poultry farm to carry out a robbery shot the guards (two women guards killed and one wounded) using automatic weapons. Armed raids and robberies have been recorded in Rovenky, Luhansk and Alchevsk (all crimes committed by two to three persons wearing “LNR people’s militia” uniforms and armed with automatic weapons).

Source: Dmitry Tymchuk FB 

Glossary:

AC – Army Corps
ACV – armored combat vehicle
AGS-17 – automatic grenade launcher
ATO – Anti-Terrorist Operation
BMP – infantry fighting vehicle
BTG – battalion tactical group
BTR, APC – armored personnel carrier
BRDM – armored reconnaissance and surveillance vehicle
BRM – armored reconnaissance vehicle
DAP – Donetsk International Airport
DNR – “Donetsk People’s Republic”
DRG – sabotage and reconnaissance group
ELINT – Electronic Intelligence
GRU – Russian Defense Intelligence, the main military foreign-intelligence service of the Russian Federation
KSM – command and staff vehicle
LNR – “Luhansk People’s Republic”
MGB – Ministry of State Security
MOD – Ministry of Defense
MT-LB – light multipurpose tracked vehicle
MLRS – multiple-launch rocket systems
OMSBR – Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade
SBU – Ukrainian Secret Service
SPG-9 – stand-mounted grenade launcher
TZM, TLV – transporter-loading vehicle
UAV – Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (drones or other)
ZU-23-2 – anti-aircraft artillery system

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Avdiivka under tank fire: homes destroyed

By Novosti Donbas [Donbas News]
03.17.2016
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine

“On March 17, militants fired a tank attack on Avdiivka,” deputy head of the National Police in Ukraine [and head of the National Police branch in Donetsk region], Vyacheslav Abroskin, wrote on his Facebook page.

“Avdiivka. At 15:25 [3:25 am EET], “DNR” fighters shot from tanks onto the old part of the city. Houses were ruined at 95 Metallurgist and 63 Zavodskaya streets,” he wrote.

At the same time, Abroskin noted that there were no casualties.

“Miraculously, people did not suffer because they were not in the houses, but taking care of things in the yard,” he explained.

An investigative-operational group is at work on-site.

Source: Novosti Donbas

A post from today on Abroskin’s Facebook page adds that at 17:20 [5:20 am EET] “DNR” militants started shooting on the old part of Avdiivka and houses were destroyed once more. From one of these homes, police evacuated an 88-year old blind man (born 1929), who miraculously survived.

 

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Anton Naumlyuk: “Hold on, and fight, our cause is just!” Crimean Tatar political prisoners (photo essay)

By Anton Naumlyuk, photojournalist (text and all photos), Simferopol, Crimea. Correspondent for Radio Svoboda (RFE/RL)
02.11.2016
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine

Human rights journalist Anton Naumlyuk is in Crimea this month covering the trials of Crimean Tatar political prisoners, taking photographs and collecting information from their relatives. Voices of Ukraine highlights the faces and stories of Crimean Tatars who are being kidnapped, disappeared and persecuted on a regular basis by the Russian invader-occupants of Crimea through his work on the ground in Simferopol.

“Hold on, keep fighting, our cause is just,” said Emir-Huseyn Kuku [imprisoned Crimean Tatar activist] loudly, for the entire courtroom to hear,  at the end of the court hearing on the extension of his indictment. He remained in jail, of course, but at least he finally got to see his family – his wife and two children. After the court session, a police officer pretended not to notice little Safie kissing her father’s hands, as he reached out to her through the bars of the [court’s prisoner] “aquarium.”

“Nobody knows our world, nobody is interested in our aspirations,” Muslim Aliev stated in court on the same day. “But as long as a person has not committed a crime, he should not be held for his thoughts. You never know what Muslims think about, you never know what they dream about – that is no reason to pursue them.” During the break, when the judge left to make a decision on Aliev’s future, everyone was asked to leave the courtroom. A woman with a broken leg, leaning on crutches, asked if she could stay. “Should’ve stayed at home with that leg,” quietly replied the so-called investigator Makhnev.

In reality, the investigators, the FSB officers, members of the E-center [Russian Federation’s anti-extremist center], and other like them do not seem to understand why these people come to trials if neither their relatives nor even their neighbors are being prosecuted there. Every single one of the Crimean Tatars understands that at any moment they could be charged in the same way that the defendants of the “February 26th Case,” or the case of Hizb ut-Tahrir, or have ammo planted during a search, as has most likely happened with Vladimir Baluch. But they nonetheless write in social networks, come to trials to support their own, and gather together during searches and arrests. They generally do everything together. Apparently, to the security forces, this looks incomprehensible and scary.

Today, it’s been a year since the “Yalta Four” were arrested in the case of Hizb ut-Tahrir. Back then, in addition to Kuku and Aliyev, Vadim Siruk and Enver Bekirov were also arrested. Today at Kuku’s house, Crimean Muslims gathered to read the Dua – a collective prayer for the fate of the prisoners. In the prayer they remembered, in fact, all of those who were arrested, disappeared and abducted. They prayed for Ahtem Chiygoz and the defendants in the “February 26th Case”, for Erwin Ibrahimov and many others. Little Bekir Kuku prayed with all the others for his father. He wasn’t feeling well after the Dua. He did not cry, and neither did he cry in court, he was just ill. Together with him, Ilyas Aliev prayed for his father also. As did Vadim Siruk’s wife – who came with their little daughter, who was born already after his arrest. For a year, they have only seen their relatives during rare courtroom appearances. While saying their goodbyes, they all sadly gave their wishes to each other: that at the next anniversary, they would no longer be praying for a release, but giving thanks for the return. “You listen,” Nadzhiye Aliev said to me, – “At the next anniversary, we will all gather together. We are now one family.”

Source: Anton Naumlyuk FB posts

Related reading:
Halya Coynash, Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, on Emir-Huseyn Kuku: “When Abduction Turns to FSB ‘Search’ in Russian-Occupied Crimea”

Halya Coynash, Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, on Kuku, Siruk, Aliev, Bekirov and Hizb ut-Tahrir:
Russia’s Invented ’Terrorism’ and its Crimean Muslim Victims

 

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