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Ukraine's government continues crackdown on opposition as Russia shells Kiev and Chernihiv

UKRAINE continues a crackdown on opposition that has intensified since it was invaded by Russia, with a blogger in the region of Galicia facing 15 years in jail on charges of treason over public statements criticising the government.

The Galician District Court in Lviv jailed Gleb Lyashenko for 60 days pending trial for blaming Ukrainian political decisions for the Russian attack.

“For eight years Russia has been asking and even begging Ukraine to change its course. Ukraine has refused for eight years. And here is the result,” he wrote.

He was referring to the Minsk agreement signed between Russia and Ukraine, which aimed to end conflict in the eastern Donbass region which erupted in 2014.

Some 14,000 people were killed in fighting over the region since a pro-Russian uprising there in response to the US and EU-backed 2014 Maidan coup in Kiev.

According to a United Nations report, around 82 per cent of the victims were Russian speakers, some massacred by fascist forces including the notorious Azov Battalion and Right Sector.

They have since have been integrated into Ukraine’s regular army.

Ukrainian security forces accused Mr Lyashenko of being a “traitor who supported the criminal actions of the aggressor country.”

The charges of treason were brought after Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky banned all private TV stations, merging them into one state-controlled TV channel amid a broader crackdown on media.

He has been widely criticised for banning 11 left-wing and progressive parties.

Purges of the Ukrainian left have continued, with priests, communists and human rights defenders disappearing in a mirror image of Russia’s harsh crackdown on peace activists and critics of the war.

The fate of trade union leader Yuriy Bobchenko remains unknown nearly two weeks after he was abducted from his home in the east Ukrainian city of Krivoy Rog.

He is chair of the Trade Union of Metallurgists and Miners of Ukraine, an affiliate of global labour federation IndustriALL, at the city’s ArcelorMittal mine.

Calls for international solidarity in helping secure his release have failed so far to muster support.

Russia continued shelling Kiev and Chernihiv today, but said it would honour a ceasefire to enable further evacuations from besieged Mariupol.

President Vladimir Putin said it would start insisting on rouble payments for oil and gas in response to Western sanctions, but Europe’s biggest importer Germany said it would continue to pay in euros and dollars.

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