SBU, prosecutors to legally assess railroad blockade by activists in Luhansk region
The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) and the Prosecutor General's Office should assess actions by veterans of the Ukrainian government forces' military operation in Donbas who blocked a stretch of railroad on the line of contact with the militants in the Luhansk region, Tetiana Pohukai, a spokesperson for the National Police department for the Luhansk region, said in a televised interview.
"Former members of the Donbas and Aidar volunteer battalions led by Verkhovna Rada deputy Semen Semenchenko have warned us since January 15 that they would conduct protests against the smuggling of contraband by rail through the contact line in the Luhansk region. And they started yesterday what they call the third phase of the announced action," Pohukai said on the 112.Ukraine television channel on Thursday.
About 30 former volunteers blocked the rail tracks between Horske and Zolote in the Popasna district, put wooden hedgehogs on them, and announced the start of an open-ended civil disobedience protest to prevent the shipping of goods to and from Donbas territories not controlled by Kyiv. A tent for activists was also pitched near the railroad.
"They stopped an empty train moving toward the uncontrolled territory yesterday. It consisted of 57 empty cars. They blocked its movement. A team of investigators was called to the scene. The investigators documented everything that happened at the scene," Pohukai said.
Prosecutors or SBU officials should assess the activists' actions, and all documents and evidence that the investigators collected at the scene have been passed to the competent authorities, Pohukai said.
Police did not receive reports on attempts to weld the train to the tracks, Pohukai said.
Parliamentarians Semen Semenchenko, Taras Pastukh, and Volodymyr Parasiuk are at the scene now, and the SBU should assess their actions as well, she said.
It was reported earlier with reference to Semenchenko, a Verkhovna Rada deputy from the Samopomich faction, that a number of veterans of the Ukrainian government forces' military operation in Donbas had blocked the stretch of railroad connecting Luhansk, Lysychansk, and Popasna between Horske and Zolote on January 25 to prevent trade with the part of Ukrainian territory not controlled by Kyiv.
By blocking 12 trains and over 700 carriages with goods from going further on to Donbas, the veterans so started what they call the third phase of an operation to freeze trade with "the enemy," Semenchenko said on Facebook.
The first freight train was stopped between Horske and Zolote on Wednesday afternoon, and the activists intended to use a welding machine to weld the train to the tracks, Semenchenko said.
"Rank-and-file Interior Ministry officials, border guards, and Security Service officials supported the veterans' actions," he said.