Weekly overview of the Ukrainian media between September 8 – 14, 2015

Situation in ATO zone and elections in occupied areas

Ukrainian authorities say ceasefire has come in action in eastern Ukraine for the first time since the beginning of the war thanks to a series of political measures and to the Minsk agreements. Nevertheless, both Ukrainian diplomats and Ukrainian representative to the Trilateral Contact Group warn that ceasefire does not yet mean implementation of the Minsk agreements but may well be part of Russia’s continuous military-political game conducted to freeze the conflict, says Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin. It is quite likely that the further fate of the peace process now depends not as much on the cease fire as on the “elections” that militants announced in occupied areas. Ukraine regards holding the “elections” as derailing the Minsk agreements. There are reports that militants are amassing their military arsenal in the East while Russia is constructing a military base at the border with Ukraine.

Militant groups fired upon ATO forces in total 26 times over the last week. Six Ukrainian servicemen were killed in action and 11 were wounded in action over this period of time.

Conflict in Donbas is entering the frozen stage, we need to impede implementation of this scenario, warns the second President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma. “The situation is developing into a frozen conflict – neither war, nor peace. And it plays to the interests of our neighbor first of all,” said Kuchma. Not a single conflict on the territory of the former USSR has yet been resolved and the world accepted it, noted the ex-President.

Moscow’s next step may well become the effort to destabilize the situation in Ukraine by using political not military tools, stated the Chairman of Stratfor intelligence and analytical organization George Friedman.

Holding elections on the occupied territory of Donbas, as militants claim, will become a red line followed by sanctions, stated President Poroshenko. Ukraine will not let repeat the malign last-year elections that militants held on November 2, 2014 in occupied areas, continued he. Minsk agreements and particularly most recent of them – the Series of Measures foresee that elections on the temporary occupied territories in Donbas need to be held based on Ukrainian legislation in compliance with OSCE standards and with monitoring by OSCE/ODIHR. Russia does not need the mere fact of elections in Donbas. Fake elections are only required to legitimize the illegal occupational “authorities”. Ukrainian government is ready to hold free and fair elections in Donetsk and Luhansk, said Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk. “We are ready to hold free and fair elections only if they meet all requirements of the OSCE and of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). It is hard to imagine that OSCE could have confirmed that we can hold free and fair elections under the barrel of the Russia’s Kalshnikov rifle at each polling station,” said the Prime Minister. Elections on occupied territories of Donbas have to be conducted in accordance with Ukrainian legislation – joint Ukraine – European Union position.

At the meeting in Berlin Heads of Foreign Services of Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia agreed that it is important to arrange for withdrawal of tanks, artillery of caliber less than 100mm and mortars of caliber less than 120mm in the fastest way possible under reinforced monitoring of the OSCE. Head of Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry Pavlo Klimkin emphasized the need to immediately start the discussion within the Trilateral Contact Group on modalities of holding local elections in chosen districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions based on Ukrainian legislation and OSCE criteria. Coverage of the Normandy Four meeting in Berlin is available here.

Minister Klimkin confirmed that no progress was achieved at the Berlin negotiations as to the exchange of captive and returning control over part of its state border in Donbas to Ukraine. “It would be wrong to speak about any kind of interaction between election commissions on holding free and fair elections in general until we have hostages in Donbas. It would also be wrong to speak about security as long as we do not have actual withdrawal of troops, mercenaries and Russian regular troops at last,” he added. According to Klimkin, Russia wants to use de-escalation in Donbas to promote its political goals. Not only de-escalation but also stabilization in ATO zone is important. According to the Minister settlement of the conflict implies return to the Ukrainian legal framework as well as return to normal life.

Militants are reinforcing their positions in the East, notes OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier. “There is a lot of military equipment that is somehow getting there. As we do not have access to the border area we do not see how it crosses the border but we do see and confirm the presence of this equipment. We see that reinforcement from that side continues,” said Zannier.

Fighting corruption

Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine selected its candidates to the post of the Anticorruption Prosecutor. “Office of the Prosecutor General is waiting for submission of the candidates from the Parliament, there are seven candidates from the Parliamentary commission, four are appointed by the Prosecutor General,” said Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine Davit Sakvarelidze.

“If we do not develop a strong unified approach to fighting corruption, we will be actually pushing this stone up the hill, it is going to be hard, that’s why we need to roll up the sleeves and fight corruption,” said Minister for Economic Development and Trade Aivaras Abromavicius. According to him all corruptionists with no exception need to be imprisoned.

Reforms

New Tax Code was discussed at the latest sitting of the National Reforms Council, it will help to improve Ukraine’s investment climate, believes President Poroshenko.

UCMC overview in English of the most important developments in reforming over the past week including reforms of state property management, deregulation, openness and transparency of authorities, state procurement as well as reform of the State Border Guard Service.

“Yalta European Strategy” Forum in Kyiv

Annual Yalta European Strategy (YES) Forum took place in Kyiv on September 10-12, 2015. The Forum’s official name was “At Risk: How New Ukraine’s Fate Affects Europe and the World”. It was attended by over 350 international leaders including Jean Asselborn, José Manuel Barroso, Carl Bildt, Johannes Hahn, Aleksander Kwasniewski, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Ivan Mikloš, Victoria Nuland, Carlos Pascual, Gen. David A. Petraeus, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Wolfgang Schüssel, Radosław Sikorski, Javier Solana, Strobe Talbott, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, Lamberto Zannier.

92-year old Shimon Peres, the Ninth President of Israel delivered one of the most motivating speeches in the opinion of the participants. The audience also noted the speech of Elton John on human rights.

Aleksander Kwasniewski, Ex-President of the Republic of Poland: “The best way for Ukraine to overcome the current difficult situation is for the country is to make every effort to implement the reforms it has already declared. The problem for Ukraine is the gap between its declarations and their implementation. Now is the time for you to begin implementation. The second most important step for you is to show what Ukraine can offer the world. You must show what you can produce, export, that you can be an important element of the international community”.

YES Forum Participants Expect “Contained” Frozen Conflict in Ukraine in Three Years’ Time – Poll.

Serhiy Lyovochkin, one of the Opposition Bloc leaders and former Head of Presidential Administration under rule of Ukraine’s ousted President V. Yanukovych, has also participated in the Forum. Part of the Forum participants conducted a silent protest against Lyovochkin’s participation in the Forum. As soon as he started speaking part of the Forum participants including UCMC co-founder Nataliya Popovych stood up holding portraits of “Heaven’s Hundred” – killed Euromaidan participants.

All publications and discussions of the YES Forum in English are available here.

Opinion poll

Ukrainians do not really believe in success of reforms – results of the poll. Over 60% of Ukrainians do not believe in success of the reforms that Ukrainian authorities are currently conducting, however 54% believe they should be continued to overcome the economic crisis in the country – these are the results of the public opinion poll jointly held by the “Democratic Initiatives” Fund and sociological service of the Razumkov Center. 30% of the interviewed do not believe at all that the reforms are going to be successful, 32% have a hope without actually believing in it. 30% believe that reforms are going to be successful. Almost half of the interviewed – 48% of respondents – think that the new Ukrainian government has not achieved any success in reforms. Each fourth respondent thinks only one tenth of what needs to be done has been made. Those who think all planned reforms have been completed are 0,6%. (Opinion poll).

Economic climate

The recovery of Ukraine’s economy to the highest indicators may start no earlier than 2022-2023. “Ukraine has entered the period of depression, which will last at least till 2018 – 2020. If we take GDP indicators in Ukraine in 2008 or 2013 as a starting point, we will reach these indicators in the GDP per capita in 2022 – 2023,” foresees the managing partner of the investment company Capital Times Eric Naiman. According to him, currently, the annual GDP per capita is of about 2 thousand dollars and it is very low.

The IMF has rendered some substantial financial aid to Ukraine to fill its gold and foreign exchange reserves. However, financial support from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and other financial institutions is needed for further economic development. This was stated by the Minister of Finance of Ukraine Natalia Jaresko at the YES forum.

The West’s approach to Ukraine’s economy should be “Do everything possible”: more and faster. “This is the opinion of 60% of Ukrainian participants of the YES and of 58% of its foreign participants. Besides, 29% of the Ukrainian participants chose the option: “support at this level under the condition that reforms would continue”. The same point of view is endorsed by 30% of feigners”, reports the website of the forum.

Gas issues

Construction of the second line of the “Nord Stream” pipeline (Nord Stream-2) may lead to gas shortage in Eastern Europe due to limited possibilities of gas transportation from the north to the Czech Republic and Slovakia, points out the head of the state gas enterprise ‘Naftogaz’ Andrii Kobolev. “There may be gas shortage in Eastern Europe, and that can be used as discrimination leverage”, said A. Kobolev at the 12th YES forum in Kiev on Friday. He pointed out that such problematic issues for the region should be openly discussed and that the EU should be reminded of its solidarity principles.

Ukrainian “Love” at the Burning Man international festival

The sculpture of the Ukrainian artist Oleksand Milov from Odessa called “Love” has been presented at the annual festival Burning Man in Nevada, USA. The sculpture of the Ukrainian artist has been considered one of the most impressive works this year. The huge metal sculptures were made with the aid of Vitalii Deinega, the founder of the charity “Return alive”, which collects money to support Ukrainian army.

We offer you a selection of English-language interviews, analytics and videos on the situation in Ukraine:

Video

«Time to Be Different» – 6-minute analytical video of a think tank ‘VoxUkraine’ for the YES forum in Kiev. In this video prepared for the12th Yalta European Strategy Annual Meeting, VoxUkraine shows how this time is different from the previous unsuccessful attempts to reform the country, concluding that this path leads to the progress.

Reportage 

Russian authorities blame Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatseniuk in taking part in Chechen war. Reportage in Ukraine Today.

Interview

“How culture helps preserve human dignity in the times of crisis”: an exclusive interview of Ukraine Today channel with Oksana Forostyna, Executive Director of the intellectual magazine “Krytyka”
“New police in Lviv are highly motivated and well trained”: an exclusive interview of Ukraine Today with the head of the new police in Lviv.

“Civil society in Ukraine is getting stronger”: an exclusive interview of Hromadske International with José Manuel Barroso, former head of the European Commission

“The conflict in East Ukraine is not over yet”: an exclusive interview of Hromadske International with Carl Bildt, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden

“Before Maidan Ukraine lacked trust of European countries”: an exclusive interview of Hromadske International with Radoslaw Sikorski, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland

“To adhere to the Minsk agreements”: an exclusive interview of Hromadske International with Miroslav Lajčák

Analytics

Weekly English video digest of the Stop Fake resource, which refutes Russian propaganda fakes

Russian FSB continues to terrorize Crimean Tatars – analytical article in Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

Kremlin-backed militants inadvertently acknowledge minimal public support – analytical article in Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

Yatseniuk states that he cannot defeat corruption. Analytical article of the Chief Editor of  Kyiv Post Brian Bonner

Russian economist Inozemtsev: Europe does not have a strategy for a post-Putin Russia. Analytical article in Kyiv Post

The Minister of Economy of Ukraine explains delays in privatization. Analytical article in KyivPost

Saakashvili asserts that Ukraine is ruled by the ‘shady’ oligarchic government. Analytical article in KyivPost.

Share

Twitter