Weekly overview of the Ukrainian media between October 13 – 19, 2015

Situation in ATO zone

The self-proclaimed republics in Donbas keep using military threats to put pressure on Kyiv as to the political settlement of the conflict. Continuous rescheduling of local “elections” in occupied territories can also become an additional instrument to freeze the conflict. Actual scale and process of weapons withdrawal from the frontline are indefinite. The so-called ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ (‘DPR’) militants said they are to reschedule both the withdrawal of weapons and possibly local “elections” once again.

Militant groups fired four times upon ATO forces over the last week, one Ukrainian serviceman was killed in action and five were wounded in action. Additionally 11 Ukrainian servicemen hit a mine and got wounded.

Swap of the hostages between the Ukrainian side and the militants earlier scheduled for October 16 was derailed. Militants suggested for exchange only five hostages while eight were agree upon in Minsk, said Advisor to the Head of Security Service of Ukraine Yuriy Tandit. He emphasized that the Ukrainian side suggested 10 detained militants for exchange.

Ukrainian media, namely ‘LOT’ (Luhansk state TV and Radio Company) and ‘Pulse radio,’ resumed broadcasting in occupied Luhansk, said Deputy Head of Luhansk Regional State Military-and-Civic Administration Yuriy Klymenko. Residents of occupied Luhansk and those living in Stanytsia-Luhanska area and other adjacent frontline areas now got access to the media in question. Before that only Russian and militant channels were available to them.

Armed representatives of the so-called ‘DPR’ and ‘LPR’ impede the OSCE mission to conduct its monitoring activities in the areas at the border with the Russian Federation in Donbas, the mission report states. The monitors also inspected storage sites for equipment that is being withdrawn by the so-called ‘LPR’ and the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Earlier registered equipment was missing from one of the ‘LPR’ three storage sites that the monitors checked, also some types of heavy weapons were missing from one of the four Ukrainian storage sites.

Main Intelligence Department of the Ukraine’s Defense Ministry says militants are withdrawing weapons demonstratively in the daytime for OSCE mission monitors to register it and return it back to firing positions at night. OSCE monitors finalized verifying the weaponry withdrawn within the first stage in Luhansk sector, it is to be confirmed by the mission’s official report.

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) are returning back to their homes en mass said Michael Bociurkiw, spokesman of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. 1200 IDPs returned to Ukraine-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska over the last two weeks. In the “DPR”-controlled Dokuchayevsk population increased to 21 thousand from 13 thousand registered in January 2015. Many families have nowhere to return to as their homes have been destroyed.

Ukraine’s membership in the UN Security Council

Ukraine was elected a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2016-2017. Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Minister Pavlo Klimkin stated that Kyiv’s position in course of the Security Council work will “definitely not be tolerant” towards Russia that is the Council’s permanent member. According to the President Poroshenko, Ukraine’s non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council will help Ukraine return Donbas and Crimea occupied by Russia. Full President’s address in English.

President did not rule out that in case Minsk agreements are not implemented in accordance with the schedule, Ukraine may suggest deploying UN peacekeeping units to its territory to stabilize the situation.

Local elections

Total number of the officially registered international observers at the local elections of October 25 is 1165 persons, reported the Central Election Commission. There are 684 observers from the OSCE ODIHR, 88 from the Committee for Open Democracy, 55 from the Council of Europe, 54 from the European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO) and 11 from the European Parliament.

Reforms

Despite the high redistribution level of GDP through the state expenses (45,5% from the GDP in 2014) the quality of Ukraine’s state institutions leaves much to be desired. According to the World Bank, governance efficiency assessment Ukraine is placed at one of the last places in Europe.

Over 700 civil servants have been subject to lustration (cleansing of authorities) in Ukraine, reported Head of the anticorruption parliamentary committee Yehor Sobolev. One thousand – one thousand and two hundred more resigned at their own initiative or have taken up lower positions in order to avoid lustration.

Coalition agreement has been fulfilled only by 30%, noted President Poroshenko.

Some experts think that the current situation in Ukraine reminds the post-Orange Revolution period. “President’s Poroshenko primary task was to save the state and push back the military aggressor. The big war is now over and the state system needs to be changed. But what we actually see is the state machine taking up the old ‘Party of Regions’ personnel as companions,” says journalist Maksym Butchenko. According to him it may provoke disenchantment in the society.

Ukrainian authorities need to promise less and do more from the list required to obtain the visa-free regime with the EU, said Head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine Jan Tombinski. Ukraine has to be ready to report on fulfillment of the second phase of the Visa Liberalization Action Plan in November.

Recruitment to the KORD Police Special Forces in Ukraine starts on October 27 as part of the law enforcement reform, said Interior Minister Arsen Avakov. “KORD is an equivalent of the U.S. SWAT special force. KORD will consist of three units: civil security, emergency response team and special operations group,” noted Avakov.

Opinion poll

A new poll released by IRI found high voter enthusiasm ahead of the upcoming October 25 local elections, a continuing frustration over the pace of reforms and a troubling lack of understanding about the reforms being pursued.  The poll also found increased public support for NATO membership (read poll in English). The opinion poll was conducted by ‘Rating’ sociological group.

According to the results of the opinion poll 48% of Ukrainians are ready to vote for Ukraine’s NATO membership (in English). Twenty eight percent of the interviewed spoke against the idea, 8% would not have taken part in the voting while 17% have not made their mind yet.

Overwhelming majority of Ukrainians do not believe in efficiency of reforms and do not have trust in the central state agencies according to the poll. At the moment 68% think that reforms are going in the wrong direction, 17% – in the right one (last April they were 34%). Parliamentary activities are supported by around 11% and not supported by 81%. The figure demonstration mistrust in the Parliament is one of the highest over the last one and a half years. Last spring 39% of Ukrainians supported the Parliament, 50% did not. President’s activities are supported by 24% and not supported by 69% which is the highest number ever. Petro Poroshenko’s popularity peak was registered last September when 55% of Ukrainian approved of his actions, 35% did not. The Cabinet of Ministers work is supported by 13%, not supported by 83%. This figure has slightly grown. Popularity peak of the Cabinet of Ministers was registered in April 2014 when 52% of Ukrainians supported it and 40% did not.

40% of those surveyed by the Kyiv International Sociology Institute (KISI) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) gave different sorts of bribes in the last 12 months. The respondents could chose among several reply options. 32% gave bribes for being admitted to hospitals, 9% – for issuing documents, 8% – at schools and work, 6% – to avoid paying fines for violating road rules. At the same time, 58% of respondents consider corruption to be a part of Ukrainians’ everyday life, and only 29% disagree with that.

Economics

Polish and Ukrainian operators of gas transportation systems – GAZ-SYSTEM and JSC “Ukrtransgaz” – have finalised technical and economic assessment for integrating gas systems of both countries. The parties expect the project to be finished by 2020. This project will allow for the increase of gas supply to Ukraine from Europe.

Ukraine’s Finance Minister Yaresko has stated that after November 29 Ukraine de jure will not be able to offer Russia restructuring of its debts. According to her, this will apply both to restructuring of 3 bln dollar debt and receiving new derivatives, which Ukraine is planning to issue for other creditors.

In 9 months of 2015 and in comparison with the same period in 2014, sales volume of retail businesses in Ukraine has declined by 22,8% and amounts to 344,397 bln UAH.

The selection of English language news

Video

«What is your attitude towards far right parties?»: a survey of vox populi by Hromadske International

Svoboda march took place in Kiev: a video by Hromadske International

Reportage

«Return to Volnovakha. Nine months after the tragedy»: a reportage by Kyiv Post

«The last traces of the МН 17»: a reportage by Hromadske International from the place of last year’s tragedy

«Separated by the war»: a reportage by Ukraine Today on families divided by the war

«The forgotten children of Ukraine»: a reportage by Ukraine Today on orphan children from the ATO zone

Interview

«Russia will spur the families of those who died in the MH 17 crash to file a lawsuit against Ukraine»: an exclusive interview of Ukraine Today with a politologist Bohdan Yaremenko

«A Netherlands commission report on the MH 17 flight will help in criminal investigation»: an exclusive interview of Hromadske International with з Rebecca Harms

«They live without water and electricity»: an exclusive interview of UkraineToday with Alyona Radchenko, a business woman from Donetsk

«The West is in the centre of the leadership vacuum – and this is being used by Putin»: an exclusive interview of Hromadske International with Anne Applebaum

«How Russia is creating a misinformation campaign on MH 17»: an exclusive interview of Hromadske International with Chris Miller, a journalist of Mashable

«Svoboda is trying to boost its image»: an exclusive interview of Hromadske International with Anton Shekhovtsov

«On reforms in Ukraine»: an exclusive interview of Hromadske International with Dmytro Shymkiv, Deputy Head of Presidential Administration of Ukraine

Human rights

Ukrainians detained for ‘Extremism’ in Russian-occupied Crimea.

Russia sentences73-year-old Ukrainian pensioner to 6 years for ‘spying’.

Cynical attempt to create distrust in Russia’s illegal prosecution of Crimean Tatars.

Analysis

«Unpunished corruption presents danger for economy: The Minister of Economic Development and Trade Aivaras Abromavicius». Analytics in Kyiv Post

Ukrainians love democracy but are not satisfied with the government: an analytical article in Kyiv Post

«Ukraine will not be able to count on new investments if it does not implement changes»: an article in Kyiv Post

A weekly analytical video by StopFake

Announcement

UkraineToday and Stopfake.org are launching a joint project StopFakeNews

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