Day 434 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Both Sides with Multiple Attacks on Infrastructure Targets

World » UKRAINE | May 3, 2023, Wednesday // 10:33
Bulgaria: Day 434 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Both Sides with Multiple Attacks on Infrastructure Targets

Day 434 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:

  • Zelensky's surprise visit to Finland
  • Christo Grozev appealed against his arrest in absentia before a Russian court
  • Belarus sentenced an opposition journalist, detained on a Ryanair flight, to 8 years in prison
  • A Finnish publication used a video game to bypass Russian censorship
  • Explosions in Kyiv, air alert in several Ukrainian regions
  • A fire, a blown-up railway line and a drone attack overnight in Russia's border regions
  • Zelensky: I was not notified in advance by the White House or the Pentagon about the information leak
  • Officially: The EC banned the import of grain products from Ukraine in 5 countries, including Bulgaria
  • Ruscism with an official definition. The Ukrainian parliament codified the ideology of the Russian regime
  • Putin remotely launched the trams on the streets of Mariupol, previously destroyed by the Russians
  • Forced medical examinations for Ukrainian children in Russian-occupied territories
  • This summer in South Africa without Putin

Zelensky's surprise visit to Finland

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise visit to Finland on Wednesday for talks with Scandinavian leaders about the Russian invasion of his country and Kyiv's relations with Europe, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö's office said, Reuters reported.

The prime ministers of Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland will also attend the summit in the Finnish capital Helsinki.

Zelenskiy will hold bilateral talks with Niinistö, followed by a press conference, before joining a regional summit and a second meeting with the media, the Finnish president's office said in a statement.

"The topic of the meeting is Russia's aggressive war against Ukraine, the continued support of the Scandinavian countries for Ukraine, Ukraine's relations with the EU and NATO, and Ukraine's initiative for a just peace," Niinistö's office said.

The Ukrainian president's visit to Finland, one of his few trips abroad since Russia's invasion last year, was announced only after he arrived in the country amid tight security in the Finnish capital.

Finland recently joined NATO, becoming its 31st member, in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Finland also has a long border with Russia, reminds Reuters.

Christo Grozev appealed against his arrest in absentia before a Russian court

The Bulgarian journalist Christo Grozev, working for the "Bellingcat" publication, filed an appeal against his arrest warrant in absentia for organizing an illegal crossing of the Russian border, TASS reported, citing information from the Moscow District Court in Lefortovo.

Both Grozev and Bellingcat are on the Russian Ministry of Justice's list of "foreign agents".

The appeal against the court-ordered restraining order will be heard in the Moscow City Court. The date of the meeting has not yet been determined.

On April 21, the court in Lefortovo ordered Grozev's arrest in absentia on charges of organizing an illegal crossing of the Russian border. According to Russian law enforcement agencies, he organized the escape out of the country of Roman Dobrokhotov, editor of "Insider". Both the publication and Dobrokhotov are recognized in Russia as "foreign agents".

At the end of July, the FSB stated that Grozev was complicit in an attempt to steal Su-24, Su-34 and Tu-22 M3 combat aircraft organized by the Security Service of Ukraine, TASS recalls.

Belarus sentenced an opposition journalist, detained on a Ryanair flight, to 8 years in prison

An opposition journalist who was arrested after being removed from a Ryanair plane that made a forced landing in Belarus almost two years ago has been sentenced to eight years in prison, state news agency BelTA reported.

Together with two others - who were tried in absentia - 27-year-old Roman Protasevich was accused of committing at least 1,586 crimes, BelTA points out.

The charges include organizing mass disturbances, preparing acts grossly disturbing public order, calling for sanctions against Belarus, creating or leading an extremist group and plotting to seize power.

The circumstances surrounding Protasevich's arrest in May 2021 sparked international outrage and triggered European Union sanctions against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

He was flying from Greece to Lithuania when his flight was suddenly diverted to Minsk due to a false bomb alert. He was arrested and detained along with his then-girlfriend.

A Finnish publication used a video game to bypass Russian censorship

Finland's largest daily newspaper "Helsingin Sanomat" today took its fight against Russian media restrictions to the popular online video game "Counter-Strike" to mark World Press Freedom Day, Reuters reported.

Editor-in-chief Antero Mukka said the newspaper had to get creative in trying to fight the restrictions and decided to hide its articles about Russia's war in Ukraine, written in Russian, in the online shooter game Counter-Strike (CS:GO), popular all over the world, including among young Russians.

Russia has been cracking down on independent journalism in the country since it launched a so-called special military operation in neighboring Ukraine last year, banning free writing and preventing Russians from accessing media content from other countries.

In response to Moscow's laws restricting media freedom in Russia, "Helsingin Sanomat" last year began publishing some of its war news in Russian, but Russia quickly banned access to it.

"As we are very concerned about the situation of media freedom and freedom of speech in Russia, we thought that it might be possible to find some new channels to give the Russian audience some reliable, independent journalism, such as on the situation in Ukraine", Mukka told Reuters ahead of World Press Freedom Day, which is celebrated today.

Финландски всекидневник използва видеоигра, за да заобиколи руската цензура

"Counter-Strike: Global Offensive" was released by the American private game company Valve Corporation in 2012 and is among the ten most popular computer games worldwide, according to data from Newsuu.

The newspaper has created a map of an unspecified Eastern European city where the war is taking place, called de_voyna, which is related to the Russian word for war. The use of the word is banned in Russia when it comes to the conflict in Ukraine.

The map gives access to a secret room where the newspaper has hidden photos and texts that talk about the atrocities that the newspaper's reporters and photographers witnessed in Ukraine during the war. Mukka said the newspaper did not seek permission from Valve for the campaign because the game allows users to create and add their own content to the platform.

"If even a few young people in Russia, just because of this game, think for a few seconds about what is happening in Ukraine, then it was worth it," he stressed.

Explosions in Kyiv, air alert in several Ukrainian regions

An air alert was declared in several Ukrainian regions that night, and explosions were heard in Kyiv, UNIAN agency writes. Russian missile attacks were also reported in Zaporizhzhia.

With the exception of Luhansk region and occupied Crimea, the air alert was lifted. In recent days, Crimea, as well as Russian regions bordering Ukraine, have been hit by a series of attacks. The authorities in Kyiv are sticking to their previous line of not taking responsibility for the attacks, which have become more frequent at a time when Ukraine is wrapping up preparations for the long-awaited spring offensive.

Already today, the United States is expected to announce a new, 37th package of military aid to Ukraine worth 0 million. For the first time, short-range air-to-ground missiles will be provided, Reuters claims.

The missiles could help Ukraine weaken Russian ground strongholds and provide advancing Ukrainian ground forces with air support in the planned spring offensive. The package also includes 155 mm howitzers, as well as ammunition for HIMARS rocket launchers and for howitzers, anti-tank missiles, mortars and trucks.

In his traditional video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Ukraine's Western allies to remain united. Awaiting an invitation to NATO membership at the alliance's summit in July, Zelensky stressed that security guarantees unite Ukraine and its allies.

At the same time, DPA reports that in confidential conversations, diplomats of the United States and Germany rejected the possibility of Ukraine being invited to NATO already at the summit in Vilnius in July.

A fire, a blown-up railway line and a drone attack overnight in Russia's border regions

A large fire at a fuel warehouse broke out last night in the Krasnodar region of southern Russia, Russian and Ukrainian media reported. At the same time, in the Bryansk region bordering Ukraine, a railway line was blown up and the explosion caused a freight train to derail, and drones attacked a military airport. According to initial data, no one was injured in the three incidents.

The fire is burning 15 kilometers from the bridge over the Kerch Strait, which connects mainland Russia with Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, which it annexed nine years ago.

Local residents claimed on social media that an explosion was heard before the warehouse caught fire, but local authorities have not confirmed this. Governor Veniamin Kondratev confirmed that a fuel tank was on fire and that extinguishing the fire was of the highest degree of complexity.

Last night, a locomotive and 20 carriages of a freight train derailed near Snezhetskaya station in Bryansk region after an improvised explosive device planted on the railway line detonated. A similar explosion in the same area on May 1 derailed a locomotive and seven wagons also of a freight train carrying fuel and construction materials.

The Russian Telegram channel "Baza" reported that last night drones attacked a military airport in the Bryansk region of the Russian Federation. Security shot down two of the drones with small arms fire, and two others exploded at the airport, damaging an An-124 aircraft there. No people were injured.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the incidents, but Russia often accuses Ukraine of sabotage in its border areas.

This night, an air alert was declared in a number of regions of Ukraine, UNIAN reported, citing BTA.

An alarm was declared in Chernihiv, Sumy, Zaporizhzhia and Kyiv regions, as well as in the capital city of Kyiv.

Ukrinform news agency reports that an air alert has been declared in Kyiv in connection with an alleged attack by Russian drones.

The Kyiv Regional Military Administration reported that air defense systems were operational and called on the population to hide in bomb shelters.

Explosions resumed in Kyiv, and in the city of Zaporizhia an explosion of a S-300 missile was reported, reports UNIAN.

21 of 26 Iranian-made Shahed 136/131 kamikaze drones launched by Russian forces were shot down, the Ukrainian news site HB later reported, citing the country's air force.

Also last night, an air alert was announced for the Dnipropetrovsk region..

Zelensky: I was not notified in advance by the White House or the Pentagon about the information leak

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview published yesterday with the "Washington Post" that the White House did not inform him about the leak of information from secret American documents, which attracted the attention of the whole world last month, reported Reuters.

"I have not received prior information from the White House or the Pentagon," the publication quoted Zelensky as saying.

"This is unprofitable for us," the Ukrainian president added. "It's not good for the reputation of the White House, and I think it's not good for the reputation of the United States," he added.

The materials published on the Internet offer a partial picture of the war in Ukraine, according to Reuters.

Ukraine's defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, said on April 12 that leaked US classified documents contained a mix of true and false information about his country's military and played down their negative impact.

In response to Zelensky's comments, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said:

"We are in constant communication with our Ukrainian counterparts on a number of issues, including regarding the outstanding disclosures, but we will not go into detail about these confidential discussions."

Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder said US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had spoken with a number of allies, including Reznikov, about the matter.

"Austin has had a large number of phone and in-person conversations with our allies and partners around the world to discuss the issue with them, to emphasize how seriously we take this issue, including several conversations with his Ukrainian counterpart, Minister Reznikov," Patrick Ryder said to CNN.

Officially: The EC banned the import of grain products from Ukraine in 5 countries, including Bulgaria

The European Commission banned the import of grain products from Ukraine to Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

The EC has taken preventive action on imports of a limited number of products from Ukraine under the emergency safeguard measure.

These restrictions are necessary given the extraordinary circumstances of serious logistical difficulties in 5 member states of the European Union, including Bulgaria.

The measures concern only four agricultural products — wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflower seed — originating in Ukraine.

They aim to ease the logistical difficulties associated with these products in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

With the EC restrictions in place, the five countries agreed to lift unilateral bans on Ukrainian grain that they imposed to protect local farmers.

Brussels foresees a package in their aid in the amount of 100 million euros and does not rule out the continuation of the restrictions on the specified Ukrainian products after June 5, if the extraordinary circumstances persist.

The Minister of Agriculture Yavor Gechev is expected to be heard by the deputies on the occasion of the government's intention to cancel the imposed restrictions on the access of products originating in Ukraine.

Ruscism with an official definition. The Ukrainian parliament codified the ideology of the Russian regime

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine recognized the political regime in Russia as "ruscism" and condemned it, Ukrainska Pravda reported. Until now, the term ruscism has been widely used in urban slang, in social networks and media in Ukraine and abroad to express the aggressive policy of the Russian Federation, but for the first time the ideology of Moscow receives an official definition at the legislative level. 281 deputies voted for the application, 57 abstained.

Although not by law, but only by a resolution, the phenomenon of "ruscism" was put into some legal framework after the parliament of Ukraine voted a resolution in the form of a statement “On defining the existing political regime in the Russian Federation as ruscism and condemning its ideological foundations and social practices as totalitarian and inhumane”. The word ruscism contains implicitly the meaning of the words fascism and racism.

Militarism, the sacralization of state institutions, as well as the glorification of Russia and Russians at the expense of the violent oppression or negation of other peoples are indicated as signs of ruscism. Earlier, the concept was included in the history teaching material in Ukraine.

The application is addressed to the United Nations, the European Parliament, PACE, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and the governments and parliaments of other countries with a call to support the condemnation of the ideology, politics and practices of ruscism.

Putin remotely launched the trams on the streets of Mariupol, previously destroyed by the Russians

Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in a propaganda ceremony for the launch of trams in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which was destroyed by the Russian army. Media in Moscow announced that the head of state joined the solemn event by video link.

"Roads, housing, educational, health and energy facilities are being built and repaired. Industrial and agricultural production is established. Of course, we will continue to consistently and systematically solve all these problems to ensure that life in the cities of these regions returns to normal," Vladimir Putin said, referring to the regions occupied by the Russian army after February 24, 2022.

Propaganda in Moscow emphasizes the president's words that "in the future, expansion of Mariupol's transport infrastructure is planned - launch of new routes and renovation of the tram park."

The tram, personally launched by Putin, will run along route No. 10 - from City Hospital No. 2 to the "Energouchastak" stop and will connect the destroyed Oktomvriyski with the destroyed Ilyichovsky districts of the city. At the moment, there are 11 repaired trams in Mariupol and 10 of them have already been put on the route, Russian media reports.

According to Putin himself, the release of the trams is a sign of the return of peaceful life in the city.

"You have just said very important words: The sound of the tram is a symbol of the rebirth of life. So it was in besieged Leningrad. It is obviously no accident that you have now remembered this. The same thing happens in new subjects of the federation," the president replied to one of the veterans present at the tram launching ceremony.

Forced medical examinations for Ukrainian children in Russian-occupied territories

The Russian occupation authorities, which fully control the eastern Ukrainian Luhansk region, are conducting compulsory medical examinations of local children and are also in a hurry to replace the Ukrainian passports of the local residents with Russian ones, the UNIAN news agency reported today.

Parents are being threatened that their children will be removed from medical records if they are not brought in for examination by Russian doctors.

Artyom Lysogor, head of the Ukrainian regional wartime administration in Luhansk, told the agency:

"In the case of non-appearance of a medical examination, parents are threatened that this will entail removal from the report (loss of insurance rights) in children's hospitals, impossibility of obtaining references for schools and kindergartens and referrals for examinations by specialists".

At the same time, he points out that a medical opinion is not required to obtain a driver's license of the Russian Federation.

"The invaders are also in a hurry with the forced passporting. In particular, the occupation authorities were instructed to expedite the issuance of Russian documents to elderly residents of the region.

Thus, in one of the regions, only 90 elderly people out of about 2,000 in total expressed a desire to receive a Russian passport, others were ordered to be passported before July 1," says Lysogor.

On April 29, 2023, it became known that the Russians had intensified terror in the Luhansk and Kherson regions, UNIAN points out, specifying that it was about the so-called filtration - searching for and repressing those disloyal to the Russian government. Particular attention is paid to those local residents who use SIM cards of Ukrainian operators.

The Russian occupation authorities have turned most of the medical facilities into military hospitals, and the civilian population has been left without medical care and medicine, the agency writes.

This summer in South Africa without Putin

Svodka is a project of two journalists from the authoritative French publication Courier International (part of the Le Monde group), Alexandre Levy and Catherine Guichard. It aims to shed light on the war in Ukraine and its implications for Europe.

At the UN, China and India voted for a resolution calling Russia the aggressor in Ukraine. Although they have so far abstained from voting on UN resolutions condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine, on April 26 China and India approved a text that mentions "the Russian Federation's aggression against Ukraine and, before that, against Georgia." This resolution does not directly refer to the war in Ukraine, but to cooperation between the Council of Europe and the United Nations. During the debates, there were actually two votes, the first of which was whether or not to include the paragraph mentioning the war in Ukraine. China and India abstained. But when it came time to vote on the resolution that eventually included the paragraph, both countries approved the text. India and China, Russia's main trading partners, are clearly struggling to balance so as not to offend Europe and the United States, staunch supporters of Ukraine. Kyiv has invited the Indian Prime Minister to visit Ukraine, but so far there has been no response. The Chinese president, who recently visited Moscow, finally had a phone conversation with Ukrainian President Zelensky last week.

There is every reason to believe that Putin will not go to South Africa this summer. After a series of twists and turns on the matter, authorities in Pretoria have reportedly finally "advised" the Russian head of state not to attend the next BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in August. The reason for this is the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for the head of the Kremlin, holding him responsible for the "deportation" of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia since the beginning of the war. "We have no choice but to arrest him," a South African official told local media - as South Africa is a member of the International Criminal Court - and suggested the Russian president would still be able to attend the summit - via video conference.

A GRU agent in Nemtsov's daughter's circle? This is what the Polish authorities claim, who have been holding the Spanish freelance journalist Pablo Gonzalez in custody for almost a year, who was expelled from Ukraine on suspicion of belonging to the GRU - Russian military intelligence. The man, whose real name is Pavel Rubtsov, is the son of a Spanish woman who emigrated to the USSR, and has dual citizenship. According to Polish investigators, in his capacity as a "Spanish journalist" he infiltrated the fund managed by Zhanna Nemtsova, the daughter of Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov, who was killed in 2017 (in the same capacity he also covered the war in Donbas, before to fall into the sights of the Ukrainian counterintelligence). Polish investigators found in his digital archive extremely detailed reports on the activities of the members of the fund, which organizes, among other things, seminars and summer schools for journalists and human rights defenders. They were accompanied by requests to cash out the expenses, presumably addressed to his handlers at the GRU.

The Vatican peace mission that none of the warring parties have heard of. On the plane with which Pope Francis returned to Rome from Hungary on April 30, the pontiff mentioned for the first time about his secret peace mission in Ukraine: "Everyone wants to find a way to peace. I am ready to do whatever is necessary. A mission is set into motion, but it is not yet public," he said. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has since said Moscow has no information about such an initiative. In Kyiv, they also confirmed that "President Zelensky did not give the green light for such negotiations on behalf of Ukraine," according to a source close to the presidential administration. "If any talks are taking place, they are without our knowledge and approval," he added. A day before his departure for Hungary, on April 27, Pope Francis was visited by Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. The head of the Ukrainian government presented the Pope with a photo album about the war, as well as a reproduction of a rooster, symbolizing the resistance of the Ukrainian people. He also invited the Pope "to come and visit Ukraine in person."

Novinite is still the only Bulgarian media that publishes a summary of events and highlights related to the conflict, every single day. Our coverage began on day one - 24.02.2022 and will not stop until the war has concluded. Despite the pressure, our independent media will continue to provide its readers with accurate and up-to-date information. Thank you for your support! #stayinformed

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