Weekly overview of the Ukrainian media between October 27 – November 3, 2015

Situation in the ATO zone
ATO forces finalized withdrawal of artillery of caliber less than 100 mm along the entire contact line, reports the ATO press center.

In the ATO zone militants fired upon Ukrainian positions near Pisky yesterday using grenade launchers and large-caliber machine guns, reported the ATO press center. Last week militants fired upon Ukrainian positions near Spartak, Avdiivka and the Donetsk airport. Over the last week six Ukrainian servicemen were killed and 11 were wounded resulting from combat actions, having hit mines and in course of the Svatove tragedy.

President Petro Poroshenko announced that nine Ukrainian servicemen had been liberated from militant captivity. Militants had earlier said that nine captive Ukrainian servicemen were to be exchanged for 11 militants. Militants are still holding captive 139 Ukrainians both military and civilians, said MP and Ukraine’s representative to the humanitarian sub-group Iryna Gerashchenko. She also noted that 788 persons are considered to be missing in action. A total of ten captiveUkrainian servicemen were liberated over the last week.

OSCE Special Monitoring Mission is going to open eight-nine more forward bases in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, said Gernot Erler, Special Representative of Germany for OSCE Chairmanship 2016.

On October 29 a fire started at a depot near Svatove, Luhansk region where weapons and ammunition are being stored. According to preliminary data from the Defense Minister it might have been an enemy subversive act. As a result of the fire four people were killed (one civilian and three military) and five were wounded (four military and one civilian), over 30 houses were damaged.

Human Rights
Brussels-based non-governmental organization International Partnership for Human Rights has submitted to the International Criminal Court over 270 pieces of evidence of human rights violations, military crimes and crimes against the humanity committed in occupied Donbas and Crimea.

Starting from December 1 all corruption-related cases need to be transferred from the Prosecutor General’s Office to the National Anticorruption Bureau as part of the legal reform, said President Poroshenko.

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk expects that the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s Parliament) will agree a draft of the 2016 state budget simultaneously with adoption of the new tax reform. Two reform drafts are currently being considered by the Parliament: the one drafted by the government and another one drafted by the respective parliamentary committee. The reform version suggested by MPs is a liberal one and suggests decreasing the majority of tax rates. It does not though suggest any compensatory mechanisms including those called to fill the Pension Fund budget. The above draft has been negatively assessed by experts and IMF representatives.

Combatting corruption
Transparency International accused Prosecutor General Shokin of derailing the fight against corruption at a high level. Board of Transparency International (TI) Ukraine said high-level state officials are trying to establish control over the key anti-corruption bodies through Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin to make them serve their interests. According to TI Shokin “under obvious approval of high-level officials” is trying to make the newly created Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office as much dependable as it is possible. The four members whom he delegated into the selection committee occupied high-level posts at the Prosecutor General’s Office in the Yanukovych times. TI emphasized that a variety parties have voiced their doubts as to whether the appointed members are able to choose truly independent top-management of the Prosecutor’s Office. Among those to have publicly commented on it are the EU Ambassador to Ukraine, the parliamentary committee on preventing corruption, anti-corruption civic actors and media.

Ukraine’s Interior Ministry seized UAH 2.6 billion on accounts of a bank owned by Yanukovych’s son. Pre-trial investigation discovered that officials of the “All-Ukrainian Development Bank” illegally provided loans to state-owned companies in 2012-2014 using overstated interest rates. The illegal profits gained were money-laundered by placing the money on deposit accounts of the bank owner.

UKROP party leader detained
Law enforcement officials detained the UKROP Party leader, Hennadiy Korban in Dnipropetrovsk and raided party offices. He is suspected of large-scale misappropriation of public funds, and in the creation of an organized criminal organization Ukraine’s Security Service and Prosecutor General’s Office have confirmed Korban’s detention, saying that he is suspected of forming a criminal group. In turn, UKROP Party called the searches and the detention of their party members a political repression. Some civic activists think that the state is exercising selective justice. Kolomoisky calls Korban’s detention “painful reaction” to his party’s result in elections.

Poroshenko’s party claims that Korban’s detention has nothing to do with politics nor elections.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says that investigation into the case of UKROP Party leader Hennadiy Korban should be as transparent as possible, and the country will soon learn the names of those who will be made liable next. Detention of Hennadiy Korban is a start of a large-scale anti-corruption campaign, President Poroshenko said.

In 2016 Ukraine could potentially manage without buying Russian gas and will import gas from Europe, the chairman of the management board of NJSC “Naftogaz of Ukraine” Andrei Kobolevsaid. According to A. Kobolev, this will be achieved by increasing gas imports from Europe and decreasing consumption in Ukraine.

The number of complaints from businesses about the state authorities is rising. This has been stated by business-ombudsman Algirdas Shemeta during the presentation of a report on the Business-Ombudsman Council’s work in the third quarter. “In the third quarter we received 197 complaints from Ukrainian entrepreneurs, which is 14% more than in the previous quarter. According to the results of the two reported quarters, we have successfully closed 45 cases with direct financial effect of more than 115 mn UAH”, – the business-ombudsman has pointed out. In the five months of its functioning the Council received more than 440 complaints. 84% of complaints were filed from small and medium businesses and only 16% from big corporations.

The fortunes of the 10 richest people in Ukraine have significantly diminished. This is the finding of the ranking of 100 top richest Ukrainians by the magazine “Novoe vremia”.

From January 1, 2016 Russia is going to strengthen its customs controls and introduce economic sanctions against Ukraine. This, it says, is due to Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the EU becoming effective.

Ukraine is planning to introduce organic products certification at the legislative level, which will meet the requirements of the European Union.

In the framework of the join project between UN Fund for Population Activities and the Ministry for Social Policy of Ukraine “Happiness for 4 hands”, Kyiv International Institute of Sociology has conducted research on gender equality in Ukrainian families. Nearly half of Ukrainian women (49,3 %) want fairness in the distribution of housework, namely when asked “Are you prepared to have an equal share in carrying out household chores and looking after children?” every second woman gave a positive reply. Anther 25.9 % of women are willing to delegate a small share of household chores and looking after children to men. The majority of men (56,5 %) agree to take on only a part of household chores and a part of childcare duties. Only less than a quarter men (22 %) don’t oppose sharing household chores equally. Only 9,9 % of men agree to “take over most of the household chores and child care”. The text of the research

Head of the Ukrainian Library in Moscow Natalia Sharina was detained by the Russian police accused of extremism and fueling international hostility. As stated, Sharina was spreading books of Dmytro Korchynskyi among the library visitors. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Klimkin claims this act to be “anti-Ukrainian hysteria” as Russian authorities start identifying many Ukrainian literature works as “anti-Russian”. The EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini stated that authorities shall not intervene in the activities of foreign culture centers.

English language news

«Ukraine is Changing» : a video by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine.

«Grow Ukraine» : a video by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

«Automaydan activists drove to Poroshenko’s house to demand that the Prosecutor General be set free»: a reportage by KyivPost.

«A bridge over the war»: a reportage by Hromadske International on the new crossing from Lugansk region.

«In divided in half Zaitsevo there is belief in peace plan»: a reportage by Kyiv Post from Zaitsevo.

«Une mamie de Kramatorsk» : a reportage by Hromadske International on the life of a pensioner woman on the liberated territory.

«Ukrainian soldiers continue to die in the lines»: a reportage by Ukraine Today.

A former Russian special forces officer has been fired from the OSCE mission: a reportage by Ukraine Today.

«Deregulation in business is the best example of Ukrainian reforms»: an interview by Hromadske International with Taras Kachka, a business-ombudsman.

«On the arrest of Gennadii Korban, the President’s political opponent»: an interview by Hromadske International with Mykhailo Minakov.

«Poroshenko is re-launching oligarchic system in Ukraine»: a discussion at Hromadske International with Sébastien Gobert, journaliste de Libération et Oliver Carrolde The Independent.

«On the role of Ukrainian far-right parties in comparison with other European countries»: an interview with Viacheslav Likhachov, chairman of the Monitoring Group on protection of national minorities.

«Oligarchs continue to control the country»: an interview by the channel Ukraine Today with  Brian Bonner, Chief Editor of the Kyiv Post.

«Sarcozy wants to lift the sanctions in Russia»: an interview in French by Hromadske with Cirylle Bret, analyste, professeur à Sciences Po.

«Why the conflict in the East of Ukraine is a war against Europe»: an interview in French by Hromadske with Matthieu Boulegue, an expert of AESMA consulting company.

«The new ranking of the richest Ukrainians: Poroshenko has become richer»: analytics by Kyiv Post.

«Disorder in Mariupol»: an analytical article in Kyiv Post on thwarted elections in Mariupol.

Weekly English language digest Stop Fake. Russian and pro-Russian media falsely report that Ukrainian citizens will soon be trained to take part in Syria’s civil war. Bogus stories circulate that Polish President Andrzej Duda has called for Poles to be “ready to fight for former Polish lands.” And in a parallel fake-news item, Russian media incorrectly report that after the signing of the European Union Association Agreement, Ukraine can be obligated to return former Polish property and lands.

«Local Elections in Ukraine Bring Mixed Results» an analytical article by Mathieu Boulegue for Huffington Post.