Saturday, May 17

17:31 GMT:

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said that “treason” is the reason why the so-called “people’s governor” of the self-proclaimed Lugansk Republic, Valery Bolotov, was freed, UNIAN reported.

Bolotov was detained by Ukrainian border guards at a checkpoint in Lugansk region early on Saturday. The military was waiting for helicopters to transport Bolotov to another location when a group of armed individuals attacked the checkpoint and took him away.

The head of counterintelligence of the “United Army of the Southeast,” Vladimir Gromov, confirmed to Interfax that about 150 people took part in the liberation of the “people’s governor.” He said that Bolotov’s detention was ordered by Kiev and that about 40 border guards and over “70 armed people” took part.

Talks with them brought no result,” he said. “Following a 15-minute shut-out,” the United Army of the Southeast troops managed to free “the people’s governor,” Gromov said. 

16:59 GMT:

Moscow says it will consider Kiev’s proposal on taking joint steps to stabilize the situation on the Russian-Ukrainian border, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigoriy Karasin told RIA Novosti.

In principle, we have normal working contacts with our Ukrainian colleagues. So, if this appeal is grounded, we will react appropriately. But first, we have to examine the letter,” he said.

Earlier, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry sent Moscow a note saying that such joint measures are needed because of the “significant deterioration of the situation” on the border caused by “the stepping up of activities of trans-border organized criminal groups.” 

16:03 GMT:

The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) won’t participate in the election of the Ukrainian president on May 25, says the new prime minister of the breakaway region in the East of the country.

There won’t be any presidential elections on the territory of the republic,” announced Aleksandr Borodai, who was elected leader of the self-proclaimed republic on Friday. 

12:25 GMT:

Gazprom will do everything to ensure Europe does not have problems with gas transits through Ukraine, the Russian gas giant’s CEO, Aleksey Miller, said in an interview to Sergey Brilyov of the Rossiya-1 TV channel. 

Only the South Stream will totally resolve all risks linked to transit through Ukraine,” Miller said. South Stream is Gazprom’s $45 billion pipeline, bypassing Ukraine, which is slated to open in 2018 . Miller also spoke of the growing importance of the Nord Stream, opened in 2011 and the OPAL project, a transit link pipeline that would connect the Nord Stream to gas networks throughout Europe. 

Ukraine currently has a $3.5 billion debt to Gazprom. Starting from June 1, Russian gas will only be delivered to Ukraine if it pays for it in advance.

Russia's gas giant Gazprom CEO, Alexei Miller (AFP Photo/Vasily Maximov)

Russia’s gas giant Gazprom CEO, Alexei Miller (AFP Photo/Vasily Maximov)

11:52 GMT:

There are no Russian agents in Ukraine, while US mercenaries coordinate the actions of Ukrainian troops in the country’s south east, according to Russia’s presidential envoy to the OSCE, Andrey Kelin. 

Incessant lies of Russia being involved in violations of OSCE obligations in Ukraine, accusations of imaginary aggression are obvious provocations,” Kelin said, as cited by Itar-Tass, adding that sensational claims of “Russian presence” in eastern Ukraine have not been confirmed. 

Kelin also mentioned reports of US elite mercenaries taking part in the Ukrainian military operation against anti-government protesters, and said that US attempts at denying the reports have so far been weak. 

11:14 GMT:

Moscow has called on Kiev to immediately stop military operations in southeastern Ukraine, seeing it as incompatible with the preparation for elections, according to the Foreign Ministry’s statement. 

We once again insist on Kiev’s immediate termination of military actions in south-eastern Ukraine,” the statement reads. “There’s also a question of whether conducting an election accompanied by the roar of guns is consisten with the democratic norms of the electoral process currently going on in Ukraine?

02:18 GMT:

Ukrainian troops stationed in eastern Ukraine are suffering heavy losses, the so-called “people’s mayor” of Slavyansk, Vyacheslav Ponomarev, said during a Friday press conference, Itar-Tass reported.

Ponomarev stated that a total of 650 individuals were killed or wounded between

May 2-12.

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