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Right Sector, Poroshenko Allies Blockade Crimea

Sept. 22, 2015 (EIRNS)—With the decline in violence in the Donbass region, the regime in Kiev seems to have turned its attention to Crimea, where Tatar activists, backed by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, commenced a blockade of three highway checkpoints on the border, blocking trucks carrying foodstuffs into the peninsula. The blockade began on Aug. 20, and was announced Sept. 8 by Refat Chubarov, a member of the Petro Poroshenko bloc in the Parliament and leader of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People. In a Sept. 16 speech to Parliament, Chubarov claimed that the decision was made in protest against systematic acts of repression against the inhabitants of Crimea by the occupation authorities, and against the "unsuccessful actions of the Ukrainian government, which causes problems with movement." The OSCE monitoring mission visited the protest sites when the blockade began and reported the presence of Right Sector, the Aidar battalion, and members of other right-wing groups participating in the protests. The monitors reported that the blockade is specifically aimed at commercial trucks, that other types of traffic are being allowed through in both directions. Tensions are apparently high, however, as truck drivers are complaining that the protesters are threatening to slash their tires and other violence if they don’t turn around and go home.

According to TASS, Poroshenko has promised to raise the issue of "discrimination" against the Crimean Tatars at the UN General Assembly when he speaks there on Sept. 29. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow yesterday that charges of Russian discrimination against the Tatars are groundless, and are not based on the reality of conditions in the Peninsula. In Crimea itself, the official response to the blockade is ridicule. Tass reports that Crimea’s leader, Sergey Aksyonov, has said the Ukrainian blockade looks like a bad comedy, adding that Ukraine-produced food accounted for no more than five percent of the Crimean retail market.