Russian President Vladimir Putin’s effort to eliminate one of the country’s oldest human rights organizations is the latest indication that the authoritarian leader has revived many Soviet-era practices to crush civil society and tighten his grip on power, including persecuting dissidents and disseminating anti-Western propaganda.
At least 331 people have died since the signing of a “truce” between Ukraine and the Russian-backed militants waging war in the eastern part of the country. The United Nations says fighting has continued “on an almost daily basis.” The airport in Donetsk, a crucial transportation hub, has been flattened by shelling. According to the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, at least 3,000 Russian troops remain in the country.
The ceasefire between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels in the country’s east has all but collapsed as the separatists continue to launch attacks on the crucial Donetsk airport, according to reports.
The Russian-backed separatists are reportedly firing artillery at the airport grounds that are controlled by Ukrainian government troops. Five government soldiers and some rebels died in the fighting, according to Ukraine’s Defense Council, and there were additional reports of civilian casualties on Wednesday.