Weekly Ukrainian media digest August 16 – 22, 2016

Issue 27- 2016

Situation in eastern Ukraine
Situation in the combat zone remains tense. Ukrainian side keeps registering systematic attacks by Russia-backed militant groups. Combined Russian and militant troops keep shelling positions of ATO forces.

A total of 433 attacks by Russia-backed militants were registered over the last week. Six Ukrainian servicemen were killed in action and 42 were wounded in action over the last week.

Militants of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) made an attack on the monitors from the Ukrainian side of the Joint Center for Coordination and Control over ceasefire (JCCC). The attack was conducted from the uncontrolled town of Kalynivka with the use of 82-mm mortars. The monitor’s vehicle was damaged while the monitors themselves remained unharmed.

War and children. A total of 50 children have been killed and 140 wounded in course of the combat actions in the government-controlled part of Donetsk region. In addition to that two kids were killed and six wounded as a result of handling explosive devices they found, reported Head of Police in Donetsk region Vyacheslav Abroskin. In the “red zone” – high danger area, there are 63 towns and villages, 37 schools and over 21 500 children.

Political statements. According to JCCC armed and information provocations by the self-proclaimed “DPR” and “Luhansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) leaders demonstrate that they intend to maintain escalation of the conflict in Donbas. The information was reported by Lieutenant ColonelVadym Bakay, press officer of the Ukrainian side to the JCCC.

OSCE. Alexander Hug, Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine said 400.000 people in the ATO zone can remain cut off the water supply. Water filtering station in Yasynuvata may cease operation due to its location in the combat area at the contact line. In the temporarily occupied territory of Luhansk region 47 multiple rocket launcher systems were spotted. Respective footage was recorded by an OSCE drone. Hug also said that the monitors registered some types of prohibited weapons that were not withdrawn from the contact line on both sides in violation of respective agreements. Number of prohibited weapons registered by the mission increased almost twice in comparison to the previous reporting period.

Annexed Crimea: what Erdogan thinks and whether the Russian Federation will launch the offensive
President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan reassured President Petro Poroshenko that Turkey’s position as to the support of Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity in its internationally recognized borders remains unchanged. The Republic of Turkey does not recognize the occupation of Crimea and will do its utmost to support Crimean Tatars, the President of Turkey stated in a phone conversation with the President of Ukraine.

Amassment of Russian troops at the border with Ukraine is the result of the annual military training, said Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis. “We are concerned about Russia’s continued occupation of Crimea, and we are concerned about the heightened level of violence in eastern Ukraine. (…) I think we are seeing movements associated with the upcoming exercise, we are not seeing this massive buildup of forces that has been suggested,” Davis said.

Human rights: pressure on Mejlis and banned meeting in Crimea 
Pressure upon the deputy head of Mejlis (representation body of the Crimean Tatar people) Ilmi Umerov continues. On August 11 district-level court of Simferopol ruled to transfer Umerov to a psychiatric hospital and hold a psychiatric court-ordered examination. Russia’s Federal Security Service detained Umerov in Backchysaray on May 12. Criminal case was filed against Umerov labeling him as a “member of an extremist organization ‘Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people’”.Umerov’s defense filed a complaint upon investigator’s actions as well as put pressure on doctors so that they terminate Umerov’s hospitalization.

Simferopol police refused to issue permission for a rally against the policy of Russian authorities in Crimea that was earlier agreed. The rally named “Cheated Crimea” was scheduled in Simferopol for August 20, 2016. Organizers claimed they intend to take up to 1.000 people to the streets. Photos of official letters authorizing the rally by the Interior Ministry and city administration were published in Crimean media. Later they published a statement that the authorities had banned the event. Organizers of the “Cheated Crimea” rally sent their statement to President Putin blaming regional authorities in being corrupt, unprofessional and fooling the citizens.

Opinion polling: Ukraine turns 25. Achievements and defeats
Ukraine’s nationwide opinion poll was conducted by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation in cooperation with the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology on August 4-19, 2016.

Should the referendum on Ukraine’s independence took place in August 2016, 87 percent would vote for the Independence Act – the result similar to the one obtained back in 1991 (89 c). Evaluating changes in Ukraine over the 25 years citizen’s opinions turned to be split in equal parts: 41% of respondents are of the opinion that the developments have been equally positive and negative, same number of respondents – 41%, are convinced that negative ones prevailed. 12% are sure there were more positive developments. The following changes took place in the public opinion over the 25 years:

– Rise of “pro-Ukrainian” moods. In 1991 51% of citizens were of the opinion that the main academic language at school should be Ukrainian. In 2016 it’s 69% who share the same opinion. In 1991 48% of respondents agreed to the statement that “we need moderate nationalism”, in 2016 61% do.
– Rise of confidence in the country’s capacity. In 1991 37% of citizens were convinced that Ukraine would be able to survive only with economic assistance by the west, in 2016 19% are of the same opinion.
– Rise of the positive attitude towards western culture.
– Liberalization of sexual moral reasoning. In 1991 37% considered unacceptable sexual relations before marriage, in 2016 they are 24%. However 38% of respondents considered such relations fully acceptable both in 1991 and in 2016. In 1991 26% of respondents disagreed with the statement “western culture is influencing us in a negative way”, in 2016 they are 41%. Percentage of respondents convinced that the west is producing a negative impact has not changed: both in 1991 and 2016 they were 29%.
– Public moods became more humane. In 1991 58% of respondents were convinced that the death penalty is necessary, in 2016 they are 37%. In 1991 50% of respondents said people with AIDS should be isolated from the society, in 2016 they are 21%.
– Decrease of feeling of being “doomed”. In 1991 46% agreed to the statement that what happens to the people depends on them to a very little extent, in 2016 34% of respondents are of such an opinion.

At the same time over the 25 years the following statements remain unchanged:
– Feeling of public danger from corruption and bribery. Both in 1991, in 2006 and in 2016 absolute majority of Ukraine’s citizens (82% in 1991, 84% in 2006 and 76% in 2016) are convinced that corruption and bribery are threats to the society.
– Being intolerant to LGBT persons. In 1991 35% of population disagreed that LGBT should “be treated same as other people”. In 2006 intolerance has slightly decreased to 29% and in 2016 increased to 36%
Full text of the research.

Reforms: e-declaration and ProZorro
E-declaration of assets. Following the scandal with the launch of the e-declaration system of officials’ assets, President Petro Poroshenko held an urgent meeting set to resolve the problem with the system’s launch. According to the representative of the National Agency for Corruption Prevention, the State Service for Special Communication is supposed to remove the drawbacks made by the company – software developer and issue the certificate of the registry’s compliance with standards of information protection.

National Agency for Corruption Prevention reports full-scale start of e-declaration system of officials’ assets starting from September 1. To remind uncertified launch of the system may encourage civil servants to hide their actual assets. The situation is a threat to introduction of the visa-free regime, another IMF tranche could also be postponed.

On August 17 the amount of public money saved thanks to implementation of public procurement e-system ProZorro exceeded UAH three billion, reports the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine. Since August 1 8,18 thousand state customers have joined ProZorro, the number of tender participants exceeded 26 thousand, the agency notes.

Arts and culture
Ukraine’s National Art Museum opens an exhibition of Ukrainian graphics censored by the Soviet regime in the 1930s “Spetsfond. Graphics”. Graphic arts on show used to be a part of the museum’s special holdings (Spetsfond) set up at the order of Soviet authorities in 1937-1939 to host art works from across Ukraine censored by the regime and due to be destroyed. Works by Heorhiy Narbut, Mykhailo Zhuk, Oleksiy Kravtsov and others are displayed. Many of the graphics art pieces are exhibited for the first time.

“Guerrilla folk opera” about Euromaidan wins top award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. They play,“Counting sheep” , directed by Ukrainian singer Marichka Kudriavtseva and Canadian musician of Ukrainian descent Mark Marczyk is based on the couple’s personal experience during Euromaidan protests. The 12-member cast tells the story by using body language and singing Ukrainian folk songs, combined with videos and photos from Euromaidan. On show in Edinburgh until August 28.The Guardian’s review.

Maria Kulykovska, Crimean-born Ukrainian artist, sails from Kyiv to the EU border along Dnipro in a raft to draw attention to internally displaced persons (IDPs) who left Crimea after the peninsula’s annexation. Within the “Crimea raft” project, the artist intends to live off of donations by the people she will meet on her way – a gesture of solidarity with the IDPs who according to the artist to a large extent depend on their fellow countrymen’s goodwill.

Ukrainian English-language media

“Observers unveiled photos of Russian shelling of Ukrainian town of Maryinka” – Ukraine Today
“Play about Euromaidan protests wins top award at Edinburg Festival Fringe” – Kyiv Post
 “On the Frontline. Avdiivka” – Hromadske International
“What do Kyiv residents think about the situation in Crimea?” – Hromadske International
“Change of Kremlin’s rhetoric as Lavrov and Steinmeier meet to discuss Ukraine” – Ukraine Today
“How the Gay Pride in Odesa went” – Hromadske International
“New deadline for the start of e-declaration” – Ukraine Today

“Anticorruption reform in Ukraine is at risk: electronic income declarations system is not working properly” – Ukraine Today’s interview with Oleksandr Kalytenko, analytical expert of Transparency International
“ProZorro on Guard: Fighting corruption and improving transparency” – Ukraine Today’s interview with Maksym Nefyodov, Deputy Minister of Economy

“Putin underestimated Ukrainians and overestimated his ability to divide NATO” – Geoffrey Pyatt

Analytical materials
“How Ukraine’s Anticorruption Bureau is Fighting Corruption” – “Reform” show on Hromadske
“25 myths and 25 facts about Ukraine” – Kyiv Post’s material to the 25th Independence anniversary
“Key events in Ukraine since Independence” – Kyiv Post’s material to the 25th Independence anniversary
“25 top Ukrainian exports” – Kyiv Post’s material to the 25th Independence anniversary
“25 most interesting start-ups of Ukraine” – Kyiv Post’s material to the 25th Independence anniversary

“Russian media distort Ukrainian poll results on eve of Independence Day” – StopFake