Mariupol: Russian-Ukrainian war chronicles 2014-2015

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In times of Russian aggression in Ukraine the southern city of Mariupol has lived through occupation, liberation and artillery attack that claimed dozens of civilian lives. EMPR looks back at the chronicles of Russian aggression in Mariupol compiled by Vadym Dzhuvaga.

Mariupol: Russian-Ukrainian war chronicles 2014-2015.

2014

February 27th – The ads appeared at Russian web-sites inviting people to take part in rallies in the east and southeast of Ukraine. The point of gathering was Rostov-on-Don (RF).

March 1st – The State Duma of Russian Federation adopted the decision to use its troops against Ukraine. This was the beginning of so-called “Russian spring”.

March 1st – Six buses arrived in Mariupol with Russian citizens and Russian flags. The visitors took part in mass rallies in front of the city administration, convened at the request of the local Committee of the Communist Party to join Mariupol to the Russian Federation. During the rally 20 year-old Russian citizen removed the Ukrainian flag from the flagstaff of the city administration and flew the Russian flag instead. Russian citizens were placed in recreation centers owned by Rinat Akhmetov’s “Metinvest” group in Sopino village.

March 2nd – a new rally in front of the city administration with calls to join the Russian Federation, announce Donbas an independent state and even revive the USSR. Protesters were trying to break into the city council building, knocked down the entry door. Dmytro Kuzmenko, son of executive director of machine-building group of companies “Azovmash” (property of Rinat Akhmetov’s SKM group) was proclaimed “people’s mayor”. Actual mayor of Mariupol Yuriy Khotlubei had a meeting with “protesters’ representatives”. Kuzmenko was forcing Khotlubei to address a letter to President of Russia Putin with an appeal to provide military aid to the city. Later Yuriy Khotlubey signed such a letter, though his people denied this fact.

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In general, four people became self-proclaimed “people`s mayors” of Mariupol, including former 1st secretary of the city committee of the Communist Party of Mariupol O. Fomenko.

In March rallies under the Russian flags with calls to join Russia were held daily with use of force against the “banderites”. Once even the orphans from Christian shelter “Pilgrim” were among these “banderites”. [Banderite – deriving from the name of Stepan Bandera, in Russian propagandist discourse the term is used as equal to ultra-nationalist with a clearly negative connotation. In Kremlin’s narrative Ukraine patriots are all “banderites” – edit.].

March 3rd – First five volunteers enlisted into Ukrainian Armed Forces at the Mariupol military recruitment office.

March 5th – Supporters of Ukraine’s unity held their first rally in front of the city council.

Second half of March – communists and pro-Russian minded people at the city administration’s square started to collect signatures for military intervention of the Russian Federation and return of Yanukovich regime. Despite the separatist calls, police made no attempts to intervene.

Second half of March – under the threat of Russia’s invasion armoured and tank units of Ukrainian Armed Forces were deployed outside Mariupol. At the same time some attempts were made to block Ukrainian columns of military hardware and Donetsk border guard detachment in Mariupol.

April 13th – united Ukraine supporters were brutally beaten by pro-Russian “titushky” thugs in front of the city police department, police did not interfere.

April 15th – the 45th airborne regiment of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) of the Russian Federation captured the building of Mariupol`s city administration. Russian paratroopers helped pro-Russian protesters to break into the city administration building.

The night of April 17th – pro-Russian youth unsuccessfully tried to attack the battalion of Ukrainian National Guard at the Avenue of General Nakhimov. Three attackers were killed. They ran into the building of the city administration and used tires and trolleybuses to build the barricades.

April 20th – the volunteer’s movement revived in the city to support the Ukrainian military.

End of April – “Guard of Mariupol” pro-Ukrainian volunteer union headed by Viktoria Prydushchenko was set up.

May 6 – Pro-Ukrainian activists liberated the city council, but police let Russia-backed protesters back.

May 9 – riots with using fire arms. Armed pro-Russian provocateurs tried to capture the city police department, the Head of Department colonel Valeryi Ambroschuk called to National Guard for help. National Guard’s infantry combat vehicle broke through the barricades. As a result of riots organized by Russian forces 9 people were killed, building of the city police department was burnt. Rumors were spread that Ambroschuk was hung, but information was not confirmed.

May 11th – about 70% of city residents took part in the referendum, regarding the transition of Mariupol under the DPR “jurisdiction”. Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of Ukraine based the roadblocks around the city, volunteers start helping them.

Second half of May – The volunteer battalion “Azov” (later the regiment) started its activity in the Sea of Azov area. Soldiers of the regiment detained the so-called defense minister of DPR, and “people’s mayor” O. Fomenko.

June 13th – battalion “Azov” pushed separatists out of Mariupol after five hours fight. The barricades in the city center were taken off. However separatists burnt the building of a city council. Almost half of the city council deputies left Mariupol for political reasons and do not take part in sessions.

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Photo: Valkyrie Tereshkova

Second half of June – Mariupol became a temporary center of Donetsk oblast. All offices of the region were moved to Mariupol. Mass volunteer movement in Mariupol supported the Ukrainian Army. Pro-Ukrainian “Samooborona” (self-defense) began to act.

July 16th – The biggest Ukrainian flag was unfolded at the Leninsky Komsomol square.

Second half of August – Mariupol dismantled 5 monuments to Lenin. Mariupol became the first big eastern city of Ukraine without monuments to Lenin.

August 25th – mass Russian troops offensive to Mariupol.

August 28th – September 7th – locals built the defensive trenches around the city, live chains were built on the way of invaders. Russian troops shelled Mariupol for the first time. Ukrainian Armed Forces were moved to Mariupol. Russian troops did not storm the city.

September 9th – President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko visited Mariupol and promised not to surrender the city.

September – Volunteer battalion “Mariupol” was organized (129th reconnaissance battalion was created instead).

Beginning of October – New Head of the Donetsk region administration Oleksandr Kikhtenko moved the temporary center of the region to the city of Kramatorsk.

October- November – Fortifications around Mariupol were further reinforced, Ukrainian Armed Forces were deployed to the area.

2015

January 24th – Russian troops shelled the neighborhood of Mariupol “Skhidny”. As a result, 31 people were killed, 105 were wounded.

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January 25th – President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko announced mourning for those who were killed in Mariupol. City residents responded to the tragedy. Within 2 days volunteer organization “New Mariupol” collected UAH 150.000 to help those affected.

January 27th – Mariupol city council condemned Russia as aggressor state, DPR and LPR were recognized terrorist organizations. Though, later in the evening the decision was falsified, the references about DPR and LPR as well as about Russia were erased from the document.

January 29th – Second decision of the city council that recognized the Russian Federation an aggressor state, and self-proclaimed “republics” as terrorist organizations. The decision was taken under the public pressure.

February 10th – “Azov” regiment advanced to the border of the Russian Federation and removed the front line 20 kilometers away to the east of Mariupol.

EMPR, Dutcho and Svetlana Prishchenko contributed to this publication.

Vadym Dzhuvaga is a Ukrainian journalist, historian, civic activist and army supply volunteer. Vadym was born and lives in Mariupol. His original article in Ukrainian is available here.

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