14:20 27.12.2016

No blockade of occupied territories in Donbas without approval of Poroshenko – Turchynov

Secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council Oleksandr Turchynov has the decision by volunteers to launch a blockade against territories not under Ukraine's control in Donetsk and Luhansk regions which is within the competence of only one official –President Petro Poroshenko, who is the nation's commander-in-chief.

"If a decision will be taken to launch a blockade, so be it. If the commander-in-chief does not take this decision, so be it. Individuals who are attempting to improvise posts in the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) zone will not succeed," Turchynov told journalists on Tuesday, commenting on an initiative to block shipments to the occupied territories.

As earlier reported, on December 26 veterans of ATO in eastern Ukraine along with volunteers announced they had deployed mobile groups and started former checkpoints for blocking work of illegal trade with areas not under Kyiv's control.

'There was an ultimatum about releasing our prisoners, but the leaders of the terrorist organizations did not carry it out. This is why we began organizing and conducting trade checks with occupied areas in eastern Ukraine," Donbas Battalion chief Anatoliy Vynohradsky said during a press conference in Kyiv.

Vynohradsky said the blockade protest had just begun. According to him, ATO veterans and volunteers had jointed the initiative and their work was underway on collecting information about trade channels. He said Ukraine's SBU State Security Service had announced that trade with occupied areas of Donbas had been shut down, but noted that they are still working.

"We are not interested in checkpoints where the civilian population buys cabbage. Firstly, we are interested in contraband trade channels. Secondly, we are interested in railways shipments. According to our information, night trains are formed on only one railway passage and about five echelons leave from one point each night to transport coal [from the occupied territories]," the commander said.

"We will set up mobile checkpoints, as we did in Crimea," he said.

Blockade headquarters chief Serhiy Akymovych said at Independence Square in Kyiv on Monday a mobile headquarters for launching a blockade of the occupied territories would be set up.

"We will launch a blockade stopping trade with the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk People's Republics," Akymovych said, vowing to continue the action until "all our guys" are released.

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