Ukrainian media digest, September 27 – October 3, 2016

October 03, 2016.

Situation in eastern Ukraine

Situation on the ground. Situation in eastern Ukraine remains turbulent. A total of 262 attacks upon the positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces were registered over the last week. Two Ukrainian servicemen were killed in action and 12 were wounded in action. Despite the agreements on disengagement of troops and weapons in eastern Ukraine, the monitors keep registering ceasefire violations.

Ceasefire violations. According to the ATO Staff, in the Luhansk sector attacks with the use of grenade launchers, an antiaircraft mount and small arms were registered in the area of Stanytsia Luhanska, Krymske, Novooleksandrivka and Novozvanivka. Russia-backed militants were firing upon the positions of Ukrainian troops near Krymske and Novooleksandrivka using 82-mm and 120-mm mortars. In the Mariupol sector ceasefire violations were registered in the area of Pavlopil, Vodyane and Shyrokyne. In the Donetsk sector attacks were registered near Avdiivka, Novhorodske, Verkhnyotoretske, Kamyanka and Zaitseve (in proximity to which 152-mm tube artillery was used).

Disengagement of troops: the problems. Increase in number of attacks in the combat zone will affect the timeframe for disengagement of troops and weapons at the contact line, said Borys Kremenetsky, head of the Ukrainian side to the Joint Control and Coordination Center (JCCC). He also said that disengagement of forces in Stanytsia Luhanska is currently not possible due to the militant attacks. JCCC staff have registered and documented results of the attacks are will submit them to the OSCE.

In Petrovske the disengagement of troops cannot start until militants provide free access to OSCE monitors and demine the territory. On October 2 representatives of the “DPR” said they would not be withdrawing forces and weapons from Petrovske. The explanation they provided is that Ukraine is not ready for withdrawal of troops.

Disengagements of troops: achievements. According to the ATO press center, on October 1 disengagement of troops to the positions defined by OSCE representatives took place on the outskirts of Zolote. The withdrawal took place in accordance with the framework agreement signed on September 21, 2016 in Minsk.

“Primaries” in the “DPR” and “LPR”. “Primaries” are taking place in the so-called “DPR” and “LPR”. “Primaries” come as a preliminary step to holding of “local elections”. “DPR” leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko said that according to the Minsk agreements elections are to take place in Donbas without Ukrainian parties campaigning.

Sexual violence in Donbas. Ukrainian MPs appealed to the UN calling to address the problem of sexual violence in eastern Ukraine. The appeal mentions incidents of provision of forced sexual services by minors, of trafficking in women and children across the state border, of establishing a child pornography studio by foreign nationals with the scope to distribute the materials abroad, as well as the incidents of children recruitment, military training and participation in combat actions. MPs refer to the information of the so-called “DPR”’s international brigade “Pyatnashka”. The MPs also called upon the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict to start investigating the facts of the use of children in combat actions in Donbas on the “DPR”/”LPR” side and to express their position as to the incidents.

Human rights: Ukrainian journalist detained in Russia

On October 2 Roman Sushchenko, Paris-based correspondent of the Ukrainian news agency “Ukrinform” was detained in Moscow. The Lefortovo court of Moscow charged the Ukrainian with espionage. Sushchenko reported to Russian human rights defenders about the psychological pressure that the staff of the Russian Security Service (FSB) was exercising upon him.

The journalist’s lawyer Mark Feygin arrived at the detention center and expressed the hope that the FSB would not be impeding his meeting with Sushchenko.

Iryna Gerashchenko, first vice-speaker of the Parliament and Ukraine’s representative to the humanitarian subgroup in Minsk, said that Ukraine calls upon immediate release of Sushchenko.

“We are waiting for immediate statements by OSCE, Mrs. Mijatović, Council of Europe’s Secretary General Jagland, by other organizations that must express their protest against the arrest of the Ukrainian journalist by the Russian Federation on fabricated charges of ‘espionage’,” noted Gerashchenko.

Crimea: prosecutors-traitors and the ban of Mejlis

Prosecutors. Last week the Office of the Prosecutor General in Russia sent a letter to Ukraine’s prosecutor’s office claiming that persecution of the Crimean prosecutors that sided with Russia during the peninsula’s annexation in 2014 is illegal. Russian law enforcement suggests closing the criminal cases against these persons.

As a proof of innocence of the Crimean prosecutors the Russian side enclosed an order said to be signed by former president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, and claims that the order is a valid document. The document says that the runaway president stripped off the citizenship almost 600 prosecutors of Crimea, so they were not able to betray Ukraine following this logic. Instead the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine expressed their gratitude for the names of traitors for whom the cases had been not started and announced their intention to start another criminal proceeding against Yanukovych.

Ban of Mejlis. On April 26, 2016 the so-called Russian-controlled supreme court of Crimea recognized Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people an extremist organization and prohibited its activities in the territory of the Russian Federation. On September 29 the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation acknowledged legal the ban of Mejlis in the temporarily occupied Crimea. “Senior prosecutor of Crimea” Vladimir Chukhrin insisted that “activities of the Mejlis represent danger for the state and society”.

Mejlis lawyers intend appealing to the European Court of Human Rights as well as submitting an appeal to national courts. Lawyer Kiril Koroteyev emphasized that with its decision of September 29 the Supreme Court of Russia deprived the indigenous people of Crimea – Crimean Tatars – of the right to political organization, the right to adopt the decisions of community importance.

Head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine Hugues Mingarelli calls on the Russian Federation to secure the rights of Crimean Tatars in accordance with the international law. The diplomat said that  the decision comes as an escalation of the human rights situation on the Crimean peninsula since its annexation by the Russian Federation in 2014, particularly emphasizing persecution of the national minorities.

A protest dubbed “Ban of Mejlis = ban of the nation” was held in Kyiv (photos).

Economy: IMF and increase of export quotas to the EU

Delivery of the third tranche of the EU macrofinancial assistance has been postponed to the next year, said Deputy Finance Minister Yuriy Butsa. In 2016 Ukraine is to receive the second tranche of the EU macrofinancial assistance in the amount of EUR 600 million.

The European Commission approved the appeal of Ukrainian producers and claimed readiness to increase the export quotas for some types of Ukrainian products to the European market, wrote Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Trade on her blog. “The European Commission adopted a proposal to give Ukrainian producers more and better access to the EU market for a number of agricultural and industrial products, such as cereals, processed tomatoes and honey, but also fertilizers, footwear, electronic equipment and certain metals,” wrote Malmström. “We will top up the amounts of exports allowed by our Association Agreement.”

Combatting corruption: new attempts to hide civil servants’ assets

Right after the IMF tranche was received – after Ukraine accomplished its commitments as to the anticorruption legislation, a series of draft laws were registered in the parliament to annul the achievements in the fight against corruption.

On October 3 activists of the Anticorruption Action Center, Reanimation Package of Reforms, Civic Lustration Committee, Automaidan, Transparency International Ukraine and Center UA picketed the Verkhovna Rada calling not to sabotage the fight against corruption in the country. The protesters demanded not to register the draft law of the faction head of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc (BPP) Ihor Hryniv. The draft law suggests closing the information on assets and presents received by civil servants. The draft law was registered on September 29.

According to the author, the draft law has to resolve the issue of access to information on movable and immovable property and cash. Additionally Hryniv said that in the draft law he suggests lifting criminal liability for mistakes in the declaration.

In her turn the expert of the Anticorruption Action Center Anastasia Krasnosilska is of the opinion that the draft law seeks to leave secret the assets of civil servants.

Other draft laws submitted by the MPs of the BPP faction suggest to strip the Anticorruption Bureau off powers and make the Prosecutor General decide unilaterally which cases are to be investigated by the Anticorruption Bureau and which not. According to representatives of civil society the draft law will turn the fight with high-level corruption in Ukraine into a manually managed tool for political revenge in the hands of one person.

Sociology. Ukraine: deeply unequal

By level of social inequality Ukraine is far ahead of the countries with moderate or weak inequality level. Level of social inequality in Ukraine is even higher than in the U.S. – a country with high inequality level. According to the data by French economist Thomas Piketty, income of 50 per cent of tax payers with lowest income constituted 30 per cent of the population’s overall income in the EU in 2010, in the U.S. in 2010 25 per cent, in Ukraine in 2015 only 15 per cent. Instead the income of the 10 per cent of the wealthiest people constituted 25 per cent in the EU, 35 per cent in the U.S. and 39 per cent in Ukraine. Unacceptably low income of half of the working population demonstrates inequality in Ukraine. In the Scandinavian countries the average salary of 50 per cent of the poorest constitutes 70 per cent of the average salary in the country, in the EU – 60 per cent, in the U.S. – 50 per cent, in Ukraine – 30 per cent.

Another particularity is a big difference between the salaries of one per cent of the most well-paid professionals and rest of the working force. Thus, in the Scandinavian countries income of this relatively small group exceeds average income five times, in the EU countries – seven times, in Ukraine – 13 times.

The difference in salaries of one per cent of the wealthiest and 50 per cent of the poorest professionals in Ukraine is dramatically high. If in the Scandinavian countries the difference is 7,1 times, in the EU 11,7 times, in the U.S. 24 times, in Ukraine it’s 43,3 times. The calculations in question relate to official salaries after all taxes are paid.

Moreover to conduct reforms and move on it is crucial that there is a considerable number of self-confident people who are ready to take responsibility over their life. According to the Institute of Sociology of Ukraine’s National Academy of Sciences one Ukrainian in two thinks his life is mainly shaped by external circumstances, only one Ukrainian in five thinks it’s his behavior that defines his life path.

Culture: PEN-club in Ukraine and Malevych conference in Kyiv

First international scientific conference focused on artistic work of Kazymyr Malevych is to take place in Kyiv on October 6-9.

Artists from different regions of Ukraine worked together in artistic residences in Kharkiv during two weeks in August 2016 as part of the “PogranCult: GalitsiaCult” project. On October 4-18 common findings as well as existing initiatives in areas of architecture and urbanism, cinema and visual art will be presented in Kharkiv for wide audience.

Annual congress of the international PEN Club will take place in Ukraine next year. PEN Club is an international organization that unites writers and protects the rights of unjustly imprisoned ones.

Our selection of English-language materials by Ukrainian media

Reportage

“MH17 crash: how the story unfolded” – Ukraine Today

“Verkhovna Rada manages to fire 29 corrupt judges” – KyivPost

“Ukraine marks 75 years since Babiy Yar mass slaughter” – Ukraine Today

“Russia blames Ukraine for falsifying evidence in MH17 case” – Ukraine Today

“Rats desert the ship: Ukrainian police reports detaining 220 militants in Ukrainian territory” –  Ukraine Today

“Russia’s Supreme Court upholds ban on Crimean Tatar governing body” – KyivPost

“Voluntary/compulsory mobilization intensifies in Donetsk” – Ukraine Today

“Former ‘Luhansk prime minister’ arrested by separatists allegedly commits suicide” – Ukraine Today

Interviews

“Ukrainian families helped hide Jews during Babyn Yar massacre” – interview by Hromadske International with Canadian film director Iryna Korpan

“Babyn Yar: our common ground and our common grief” – interview by Hromadske International with German writer of Ukrainian origin Katja Petrowskaja, author of the book “Maybe Esther”

“It was impossible to be saved, if no one would save you” – interview by Hromadske International with Oleksandr Sklyansky, witness to the Babyn Yar tragedy

Opinions

“EU’s principles versus Russia’s ‘I don’t care’ policy” – op-ed of political scientists Oleksandr Khara – Ukraine Today

“No easy solutions in accepting hard truth about the past” – column of editor and blogger Zoya Zvynyatskovska – Ukraine Today

“Putin’s regime now has all characteristics of fascism” – expert Oleh Belokolos – Ukraine Today

«Путінський режим має всі ознаки фашистського – аналітик Олег Белоколос» – Ukraine Today

Analytical materials

“MH17 investigation report: full version in English with video” – Ukraine Today

“Weekly business digest” – Kyiv Post

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