Weekly overview of the Ukrainian media between September 15 – 21, 2015

Situation in ATO zone

Despite the announced ceasefire militants keep provoking ATO forces, the provocations are of sporadic nature. Militants fired upon the ATO forces positions 30 times over the last week. Three Ukrainian servicemen were killed in action and 11 were wounded.

The situation has not changed a lot since the last week. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) continues to observe significant decrease in ceasefire violations. “When these violations took place, they were mostly registered at and around Donetsk Airport,” said Alexander Hug, Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE SMM at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. On some days, the Joint center for control and coordination and so-called “DPR” reported that some explosions were controlled and as a result of unexploded ordnance were destroyed. However, Mr. Hug added that the SMM wasn’t able to verify this information independently. “We maintain a sense of cautious optimism and hope that sides will exercise good judgment and political will to bring the conflict to an end”, stated Mr. Hug. (continue reading in English).

Today in eastern Ukraine the conditions for supporting political process that should lead to a peaceful solution of the crisis are being created. This was stated on September 19 in Magdeburg, Germany by foreign ministers of Serbia, Ivica Dačić, Switzerland Didier Burkhalter and Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who now form the so-called “three” of the OSCE (it includes current, previous and next head of the international organization)

Nevertheless, leader of Luhansk militants Ihor Plotnytsky declared the plans to hold “elections to local self-governance” on November 1. Plotnytsky allegedly promises compliance with all international norms, participation of monitors “from all countries and international organizations” as well as implementation of the Minsk agreements. On contraty, President Poroshenko said that militant leaders do not represent people of Donbas.

President approved National Security and Defense Council decision on sanctions against individuals related to the annexation of Crimea and aggression in Donbas. The President informed that these restrictive measures will be imposed against more than 400 individuals and 90 entities of Russia and other countries related to the annexation of Crimea and aggression in Donbas. The Security Service of Ukraine has decided to ban the former Prime Minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi from Ukraine due to his visit to the Russia-annexed Crimea.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg visits Western Ukraine on September 21 alongside President Petro Poroshenko.

Ukraine and NATO are jointly developing a new model of the command and management system, Ukraine will reorganize its Armed Forces based on the model and in compliance with NATO standards.

Crimea

Continuous blockade of cargo trucks started at the administrative border with the temporary occupied Crimea on September 20. The protest was organized by Crimean Tatars headed by Mejlis. Activists blocked all three control points that serve for entry and exit: Kalanchak, Chaplynka and Chonhar. “We shall not let make money on the blood and lives of our brothers anymore,” said Crimean Tatar leader, MP and Mejlis Head Refat Chubarov. The decision was previously agreed at the meeting of the Coordination Council for Crimea Blockade. Read the full story in English here here.

Police HQ in Kherson region stated that about 100 law enforcement staff and Kherson battalion will be deployed to secure public order during the action. According to the Coordination Council pedestrians and passenger transport will have unimpeded access across the administrative border. Blockade participants are already setting up constructions to block the road at Chonhar control point at the administrative border with Crimea in Kherson region. (Photo report).

The blockade organizers are convinced that Ukrainian companies must stop trade relations with Crimea as the peninsula has been occupied by the Russian Federation. The action organizers say they are not going to let trucks into Crimea until their demands are not met: free political prisoners, stop pressure on independent media, ensure unimpeded access for international observers to the peninsula, stop repressions against Crimean Tatars.

According to preliminary media reports about 300 loaded trucks gathered at the administrative border with the peninsula.

Earlier Refat Chubarov did not rule out that following the food blockade of Crimea occupied by Russia Crimean Tatars will be struggling to stop supplying electricity to the peninsula.

Refat Chubarov also called to set up food hubs – retail markets on the Ukrainian side of the administrative border where residents of Crimea would be able to purchase goods at affordable prices. Activists thus suggest to the business to stop feeding the bandits via the “grey schemes”.

In response to the blockade at the administrative border protests were staged in Crimea. According to Mustafa Dzhemilev, President’s Envoy on Crimean Tatar people’s affairs, actions of those who protested against the blockade in Crimea were coordinated by the Russian police. In Simferopol and Bakhchisaray members of the earlier unknown organization “People’s Self-Control” (Narodny Samokontrol) that calls itself “Crimean Tatar” protested against Crimea’s food blockade and its organizers. During the protest they were throwing eggs at the portraits of Crimean Tatar leaders and burnt down the United States flag.

MP and Coordinator of the “Information Resistance” group Dmytro Tymchuk is convinced that Ukraine was supposed to introduce Crimea’s economic blockade back in spring 2014. “Crimea’s economic blockade by activists is a slap in the face for the state of Ukraine. Because it was supposed to be the state doing it back in spring 2014. But Kyiv persistently does not understand why the war and occupation have to impede business,” Tymchuk said.

The blockade of food cargo from mainland Ukraine to the occupied Crimea announced by Crimean Tatars may catalyze mass unrest and harm Ukraine, said human rights defender and lawyer from Feodosiya Serhiy Mokrenyuk.

Responding to the protests occupational authorities said Ukrainian goods will be completely substituted by the Russian ones.

Human Rights in Ukraine

Lives lost in an accountability vacuum: the UN preliminary report on human rights situation in Ukraine.

During the ten-days visit to Ukraine, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings and summary executions or arbitrary executions Christof Heyns travelled to Kyiv, Mariupol, Kramatorsk, Kharkhiv and Odesa, and also crossed the contact line and visited Donetsk, where he met the representative of monitoring missions there and “ombudsman” of so-called “DPR”. The main purpose was to examine the level of right to life protection, Mr. Heyns told at the briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. He, though, wasn’t able to visit the Crimea. “I’m aware that there are allegations of serious human rights violations in that territory”- he added (full report in English).

Human Rights Situation Worsened In Crimea – OSCE. Since the beginning of the occupation and annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms on the peninsula has significantly deteriorated, particularly for pro-Ukrainian activists, journalists and Crimean Tatars, claims the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (Report in English).

Reforms

At the sitting of the National Reforms Council dedicated to the anticorruption reform President Poroshenko said that the legal basis to combat corruption has been created, it is now time to set up respective infrastructure and form anticorruption staff. Head of the State emphasized that the anticorruption reform is the one people await most. According to Poroshenko quick and efficient start of the Anticorruption Bureau needs to be made this year as well as the set up of the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office.

Local elections 2015

One hundred and forty two political parties lodged the documents to the Central Election Commission to take part in local elections of October 25, ten of them submitted documents with mistakes.

Combating corruption

First 25 prosecutors of Ukraine’s National Anticorruption Bureau took the oath. According to the first round of the competition 70 persons were selected. Artem Sytnyk, Head of the National Anticorruption Bureau, noted that the plan is to appoint 242 prosecutors in total.

International Anticorruption Conference will take place in Kyiv on November 16, said First Deputy Minister of Justice of Ukraine Natalia Sevostianova. “We are going to hold a very big event on November 16 this year – a one-day International Anticorruption Conference that is to bring together over 200 experts from across the globe: Asia, Europe, America, experts on combating and counteracting corruption that will help familiarize the selected investigators and members of the Anticorruption Agency with best practices.”

One of the top news pieces of the past week became detention of the Radical Party MP Igor Mosiychuk that took place right in the Parliament’s session hall after the Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin demonstrated a video where a person resembling Mosiychuk was receiving a bribe. MPs voted to strip him off immunity. Some experts said it came as a true start of fight with corruption while others blamed authorities for not starting actual investigation into abuses of former Yanukovych team including Klyuev, Kolesnikov etc. President stated that it is just the start of a series of loud detention cases.

Economy

The President  has signed Law on Budget Amendments that suggests the increase (by 13-18%) of social standards from September 1. This increase is a resulted of effective reforms implementation.

Ukraine held talks with Gazprom, and in the short run sides are expected to sign a new agreement on the purchase of Russian gas, informed the head of Naftohaz of Ukraine Andrii Kobolev. “By the end of September we will try to sign a new agreement that will allow us to adjust non-market prices of the contract with Gazprom to the maximum market level,” said Kobolev. Diversification of sources of gas supply to Ukraine had a positive effect on the position of our Russian partners, emphasized Kobolev. “About 70% of gas is supplied from the EU member states  at the market price, but not at the price, which was signed and agreed upon in 2009,” said Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

The President has signed three laws on the restructuring of national debt and state-guaranteed debt. These laws have been adopted pursuant to an agreement on the restructuring of the external commercial debt and they presuppose that 20% of the principal debt of Ukraine will be immediately written off.

A loan of $ 500 million from the World Bank will promote the budget stabilization, said Finance Minister Natalia Jaresko. The loan should contribute to strengthening financial stability in Ukraine, recovery in economy, creation of jobs and improvement of living standards in Ukraine.

Large-scale privatization is postponed for 2016. This is caused by delays in the adoption of a number of draft laws on privatization. As a result, sales of large enterprises will be held in 2016, said Minister of Economic Development and Trade Аivaras Аbromavicius. Sale proceeds were to yield about 17 billion UAH in the budget in 2015.

International companies are investing in the Ukrainian economy. In 2016, the manufacturer of electrical and telecommunications systems Fujikura (Japan) expects to receive a turnover of EUR 40 million from the production of electronic components and cable systems established in Lviv region within the framework of implemented investment project, said Fujikura executive director Ichiro Kamada at the project presentation in Kyiv on September 16. According to him, first phase of the project will attract investment of EUR 5-6 million and during this phase they will create 300 workplaces. In three years the number of employees at this project will go up to 3 000 people.

Comprehensive weekly reforms progress overview: Digest covering September 12-18, 2015. Transparency for stability. Available here.

Dignity Revolution Events

Evgeny Afineevsky film “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom“, telling about the events on the Maidan, received the Audience Award in the documentary category at the Film Festival in Toronto (trailer in English).

Мaterials in English

Video

President Poroshenko explains why British journalists are included in a list of people, to whom Ukraine introduces sanctions. Hromadske International Video in English.

Reportage 

19-year-old Ukrainian Natalia Buksa won the World Youth Chess Championship. She gained a victory over Russian Alina Byvol. Ukraine Today Reportage .

Ukraine is approaching visa-free regime with EU: European expert in EU enlargement. Ukraine Today Reportage .

The Ukrainian army In Luhansk region discovered the largest arsenal of weapons designed for separatists. Ukraine Today Reportage.

Weapons and explosives were found in Russian humanitarian cargoes . Ukraine Today Reportage.

Interview 

Pressure aimed at lifting international sanctions from Russia : an exclusive interview with Marie Mandras. Hromadske International.

The way Putin thinks. Hromadske International interview with Vaira Vike-Freiberga, the 6th President of Latvia.

The future of the eastern Ukraine after the war. Hromadske International talk with Lamberto Zannier,  Secretaire Général de l’OSCE.

Ukrainian journalist began legal action against Russia in the European Court of Human Rights.  Ukraine Today Exclusive interview with Dmytro Potekhin, Ukrainian blogger and journalist who spent 48 days in “DPR” captivity.

”Russia breaks foundations of peace and security in Europe”: Ukraine Today exclusive interview with Carl Bildt, former Foreign Minister of Sweden.

Analysis

Tymothy Snider : Ukraine and Europe are the dilemmas for each other . KyivPost article.

Verkhovna Rada supported the restructuring of the external debt of Ukraine. KyivPost article.

New documentary films tell about the struggle of Ukrainians for freedom. KyivPost article.

“Including the ВВС journalists into the sanction list was a mistake”: Oleksii Makeiev, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, apologized for including international journalists into the sanction list.

 Bellingcat new report

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