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    A firefighter douses a fire in Avdiivka after heavy shelling  (File)

    Russia Opens Criminal Cases Over Deadly March 11-23 Civilian Shelling by Ukraine

    © AFP 2018 / ANATOLII STEPANOV
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    The Russian Investigative Committee launched criminal cases into the shelling of civilians in Donbass this month by Ukrainian forces, the committee's spokeswoman said Monday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Svetlana Petrenko said Ukrainian Armed Forces and National Guard members conducted precision artillery shelling of civilian infrastructure in the Donetsk region on March 11-23.

    "As a result… a civilian died, nine people were injured," Petrenko said of the shelling that damaged or destroyed over 50 civilian infrastructure, including houses.

    She specified that the case was opened under the Russian Criminal Code's article on the use of means and methods of warfare banned by Russia's international treaty in a military conflict.

    Also, the Russian Investigative Committee launched criminal cases against Ukrainian armed forces members for their role in the shelling of civilians in Donbass.

    "The Russian Investigative Committee's Main Investigations Directorate established a number of Ukrainian servicemen who committed particularly serious crimes against the civilian population," Petrenko said.

    A Ukrainian second lieutenant and a colonel, both of the 93rd Mechanized Brigade, are suspected of carrying out heavy shelling of civilian infrastructure in August-December 2015. A Ukrainian interior ministry colonel is also suspected of carrying out deliberately criminal orders of high-ranking officials on August 14, 2015, Petrenko added.

    More than 20 houses in various parts of the city of Donetsk were damaged or destroyed as a result, and 20 civilians injured, she said.

    The Donbass conflict erupted in April 2014 as a local counter-reaction to the West-sponsored Maidan coup in Kiev that had toppled President Viktor Yanukovych in February. Residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions held independence referendums and proclaimed the People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. Kiev has since been conducting a military operation, encountering stiff local resistance.

    In February 2015, Kiev forces and Donbass independence supporters signed a peace agreement in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. The deal stipulates a full ceasefire, weapons withdrawal from the line of contact in Donbass, as well as constitutional reforms that would give a special status to the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics. Despite the agreement brokered by the Normandy Four states, the ceasefire regime is regularly violated, with both sides accusing each other of multiple breaches, undermining the terms of the accord.

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    Tags:
    shelling, Ukrainian crisis, Ukrainian Armed Forces, Russian Investigative Committee, Svetlana Petrenko, Donetsk, Ukraine, Russia, Donetsk Region
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