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On January 23-24, Brussels will host a two-day film festival “Ukraine on film. Way to Freedom”

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Dear Friends!

BOZAR Cinema and Arthouse Traffic invite you to a two-day film festival “Ukraine on film.  Way to Freedom,” to be held on January 23-24, 2016 in Brussels.

The program of the festival can be found here.

More information about the film festival please click here:

• in Ukrainian;

• in English;

• in French;

• in Flemish

Looking forward to seeing you at: Ravensteinstraat 23 | Rue Ravenstein 23, 1000 Brussels, Belgium

Monitoring January 11-17, 2016

Situation in Eastern Ukraine

On Monday militants shelled village Vodyane, near Mariupol with mortars, ATO press centre reported. Shelling was carried out from the village Kominternove. Vodyane is located in the so-called buffer zone and ATO forces units are not present there, ATO headquarters announced.

Militants placed prohibited by Minsk II weapons in Severodonetsk, Donetsk and Mariupol directions; in Yenakiyevo they robbed a petrol station, reported Defence Intelligence. In addition, insurgents focused on maintaining grouping of Russian occupation troops in readiness for immediate engagement, engineering equipment on Slavyansk and Volnovakha directions, as well as combat training.

SMM OSCE will open a new patrol base in Donbas, reported OSCE press centre on Jan. 11. It is reported that on January 14-18, First Deputy Head of the SMM OSCE Ukraine Alexander Huh visited eastern Ukraine to assess the security situation, to open new advanced patrol base and encourage all stakeholders to contribute to peace and normalization in Ukraine. In particular Huh visited Soledar, Donetsk, Kominternove, Shyrokyne, Dokuchaevsk, Svetlodarsk, Krasnoarmiysk, Lugansk and Stanytsya Luhanska. He checked the functioning of surveillance cameras, held meetings with representatives of the Joint Centre for Coordination and Control and other stakeholders.

Broadcasting of radio programs by “Ukrainian radio” (UR-1) in Donetsk and Luhansk regions was restored on January 5. You can hear UR-1 on the waves 88,7 MHz in Volnovakha, at 89.9 MHz in Kostyantynivka and at 106.9 MHz in Shyrokyi, according to the Ministry of Information Policy. Broadcasting resumed in pursuance of the Commission resolution to ensure stable functioning of the national television and radio. Now “Ukrainian radio” will be available to residents of Volnovakha, Starobeshevskyi, Konstyantynivskyi, Krasnoarmiyskyi districts of Donetsk region, as well as partially to residents of Horlivka and Donetsk, Stanychno-Luhanskyi, Bilovodskyi ditricts of Lugansk region, and residents of Luhansk under control of militants.

Ministry of Defence has established a working group to examine the facts of insufficient supply of military boots and winter clothing, said the head of Centre for Development and Maintenance Dmytro Marchenko. Advisor to Defence Minister Daryna Yarova noted that the supply of low-quality uniform is explained by the fact that it was made under the old patterns and not from modern materials. In 2016 the Ministry promised to provide military with new model winter uniform.

In Donetsk region SBU detained a militant of the illegal armed group “Sparta,” part of the DNR terrorist organization. According to SBU, the man joined the terrorists in November 2014 with the desire to earn extra money. He used to serve at militants checkpoints and repair military equipment.

Terrorists shelled Ukrainian military positions in Krymske with 120-mm mortars, luckily no casualties were reported.

Strongholds of ATO forces near Troyitske, Yasynuvata district of Donetsk region, were also shelled by militants with grenade grenades.

After removal of many leaders of the illegal LNR groupings, number of attacks at Armed Forces of Ukraine positions in Luhansk region decreased, according to Dmytro Snehyryov PI “Prava Sprava.” In addition, according to the expert, “clean-up” of leaders, usually, does not cause resistance in the very groups, while the latter disband.

The Russian side cannot provide a complete cease-fire by fighters during de-mining, stated the head of the Joint Ukrainian Centre for Control and Coordination Ceasefire Lieutenant-General Andriy Taran. However, once the restoration of infrastructure begins in the territories under control of the Ukrainian government, the fighters begin cynical attacks.

SBU officers prevented a terrorist attack in one of the district administrations of Mariupol. During the raid enforcers found a hiding place in the basement of an abandoned house in the village Kyrylivka, Volnovakha area. “Officers found an infantry jet flamethrower “Shmel”and the map of Mariupol with marks of the building of district administrations of a city,” – SBU reported.

Politics and Economics

Kyiv Pecherskyi District Court submitted indictment against the former deputy chief of the Central Investigation Department of the GPU Volodymyr Shapakin and former deputy prosecutor of Kyiv region Oleksander Korniyets to Kyiv Appeal Court, reported Korniyets on Facebook. According to him, Kyiv Appeal Court shall determine the court to consider the matter.

President Poroshenko considers that Ukraine can do without gas imports from Russia.

State Emergency Service has registered 1,014,583 IDPs from ATO zone, and annexed Crimea, in particular 992 871 persons from Donetsk and Luhansk regions, 21 712 people from ARC and Sevastopol. Most of IDPs are located in Luhansk region (247 872 people), Kharkiv region (209 160 people), Donetsk region (116 618 people), Dnipropetrovsk region (86 669 people) Zaporizhya region (67 267 people), Kyiv region (47 819 people) and in the city of Kyiv (39 047 persons).

State Tax Inspection in Suvorov district of Odesa initiates bankruptcy of Odesa refinery. Fiscal Service submitted the respective application to the court. On December 28, Commercial Court of Odesa region returned statement on the proceedings in the bankruptcy case without consideration to SFS, as it contained the wrong name of the plant, namely “Lukoil-Odesa Refinery,” while according to a statement from the Unified State Register of Legal Entities and Individual Entrepreneurs, as of December 28, 2015, the debtor is JSC “Odesa Refinery.” In addition, Fiscal Service did not provide adequate evidence of payment of court fees.

Public and publicly guaranteed debt as of November 30, 2015 amounted to USD65.15 billion, stated the report of the Ministry of Finance. According to the Ministry of Finance, public debt fell by 6% compared with the index at the end of November 2014 (USD69.33 billion). Thus, the government debt reached UAH1.556 trillion in the UAH equivalent.

Transit of Ukrainian goods through the territory of Russia is still unavailable, reported the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade. Ministry, with reference to current information, indicated that even if the goods have crossed the Ukrainian-Russian border and undergone customs clearance, Ukrainian loads are not protected from further stop on the route.

Ukraine can satisfy its electricity needs by own power supplies and does not require energy import from Russia, stated Minister of Energy Volodymyr Demchyshyn. In addition he predicts that the problems with the power supply of Crimea will last at least throughout 2016.

82% of residents of unoccupied Donbas are sure of absence of oppression of Russian-speaking population in Ukraine. This is confirmed by a survey of sociological group “Rating” in November, supported by the Government of Canada. Of these, 54% were categorical of their position. The existence of such oppression is seen by 11% (but convinced of that only 2%). Another 7% could not decide.

Influenza H1N1, better known as a swine flu, reappeared in Ukraine. Doctors warn: timely doctor consulting can save your lives. More than fifty deaths are reported. New flu mostly affects men. Schools and kindergartens will soon be closed for quarantine. Experts confirm massive facts of flu among children, but quarantine is not in question. This flu is not new to Ukraine. H1N1 has been known to doctors and patients since 2009. Pregnant women, children, people with chronic diseases and obesity are in the risk group.

In 2015 the number of “exchange points” in Ukraine has increased by 70%, reaching 1988 units, stated the National Bank of Ukraine. As noted, currently 17 non-bank financial institutions have general license to conduct foreign exchange transactions in Ukraine.

Ministry of Economic Development and Trade expects a slight increase in prices in early 2016. As you know, inflation in Ukraine in 2015 amounted to 43.3%.

International Level

On Tuesday, an explosion in the centre of Istanbul killed 10 people, another 15 were injured, the authorities in Istanbul reported. Most victims are tourists. The explosion occurred at 10:20 local time. Police, ambulance and firefighters arrived on the site; the area is closed to visitors. According to witnesses, the explosion was very strong and was heard in the neighbouring districts. Later it became known that the explosion in the centree of Istanbul, which killed 10 people, made a Syrian suicide bomber.

Ukraine opened access to its market for 15 Canadian beef and pork producers following the official inspection carried out by the Ukrainian side in September 2015, stated the press service of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Canada. As noted, after the authorization of 15 producers, 27 Canadian companies can export meat to Ukraine. The Canadian department indicated that manufacturers expect to supply annually to Ukraine meat for USD50 million. Thus, in 2014 Ukraine imported beef worth USD17.1 million and pork for USD93.6 million.

Facebook and Twitter in Russia are expected to cooperate with law enforcement agencies, reported “Echo of Moscow.” Putin’s Advisor on the Internet Herman Klimenko said that foreign social networks will continue to work in Russia, if they stick to domestic rules. Earlier Roskomnadzor said that they will check over a thousand IT- and Internet companies, retail chains and banks, to figure out whether a law on personal data storage is implemented in Russia. On May 18, 2015, Head of Roskomnadzor Alexander Zharov sent official letters to companies Facebook, Twitter and Google, asking to meet the requirements of the Russian legislation. He said if they continue “illegal actions” in Russia, the law allows to impose sanctions on the company. We are talking about fines and blocking pages with illegal information.

Ministry of Finance of Ukraine has agreed with the “Sberbank of Russia” on the principles of restructuring credits of “Ukravtodor” and the State Enterprise “Design Bureau “Pivdenne,” which were guaranteed by the state, said the statement of the Ministry. As noted, the parties agreed to work together to complete the transaction as soon as possible. Finance Ministry said that it continues negotiations to restructure other loans guaranteed by the State within the perimeter of Ukraine’s debt operations. In addition, the Ministry confirms its readiness to continue negotiations in good faith on restructuring Ukraine’s Eurobonds to be due in December 2015, totalling USD3 bln.

Netherlands municipalities will receive 30 million euros to organize a referendum on the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU, which will be held on April 6, 2016, stated Netherlands Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk. This amount is by 10 million euros higher than previously promised to municipalities. The Netherlands Government thus declared that the referendum was well prepared and organized, but stresses that cost should be reasonable.

Ukrainian singer Diana Mess from London, UK will take part in national selection for Eurovision 2016 with the song about the war in Ukraine «World, Support Ukraine» (Russians Go Home). Notice that a singer from Zaporizhzhya will participate in the national selection contest for “Eurovision-2016” in the UK has caused a strong reaction of social networks. Ukrainians mostly welcomed such initiative and she began to get positive feedback and support. Instead, Belarus and Russia blocked the clip. Diana Mess states that the song «World, Support Ukraine» is not political, but anti-war.

Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Ukraine signed a protocol on the establishment of competitive preferential tariffs for freight via international Transkaspian transport route, reported Azerbaijani news agency Trend. A similar bilateral protocol signed Azerbaijan and Georgia, as well.

Latvia needs long-term presence of the military forces of NATO member countries, after Russia announced the creation of three large divisions of its army near the borders of the Baltic States, said the Foreign Minister of Latvia Edgar Rinkevych during the meeting with US Secretary of State Assistant. Rinkevych believes that such a step “will be a significant guarantee that the Alliance can make effective policy of deterrence.” It was reported that Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that in 2016 Russia will form three new divisions on the west.

Monitoring December 21-27, 2015

Situation in Eastern Ukraine

Intelligence announced about the death of three Russian soldiers on the territory of Donbas controlled by the militants. According to the report in the village Bezimenne, Novoazovskyi district, two Russian officers (military advisers in 9th Separate motorized rifle regiment (Novoazovsk) 1 AK) were killed as a result of explosion. In addition, the intelligence reported that as a result of “friendly” fire of one of the units, six military were wounded and four were killed. Among them was a military (major) of the Russian Armed Forces. Intelligence reported that during the execution of sabotage and reconnaissance assignments eight militants of the 3rd Separate motorized rifle brigade (Horlivka) 1 AK were killed

In January-November 2015, the State budget received UAH 8052.9 million of military duty, State Fiscal Service reported. As noted, this is by 15% more than the indicative rate. In November, the budget of the country received UAH 831 million of this tax, which exceeded the indicative figure by 23.6%.

During the week ATO press centre reported of numerous attacks and military clashes. In particular, Maryinka, Donetsk region, Schastya in Luhansk region were shelled.

Militants continue to keep and use prohibited by the Minsk agreement weapon near the boundary line, Lieutenant-General Andriy Taran reported at the briefing on December 21. Only on weekends, 15 shelling were made using such weapons. In particular, militants attacked using 120-mm mortars and Grads.

SMM OSCE monitoring mission could get to the village Kominternove, Donetsk region, which DNR militants captured on December 22, ATO Spokesman Oleksiy Mazepa reported. Mazepa noted that there was no information whether representatives of the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination visited the site.

Russia sent 48th humconvoy to Donbas, RIA Novosti reported. The report states that two regions will receive food, daily necessities, medicines and educational materials, and Christmas gifts for children and the elderly. As the head of the Ministry of Emergencies Vladimir Puchkov, in 2016 the Ministry plans to continue to send the so-called “humconvoys.” The 49th convoy is planned for the first half of January 2016.

Ukraine strongly condemns another ceasefire violation by Russia controlled militants, MFA Ukraine. The MFA report notes that militants used weapons 51 times only during a day, including banned Grads. The Foreign Ministry stressed that without a ceasefire, withdrawal of Russian troops and OSCE access to the occupied territories, the stabilization of the situation is impossible.

Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak announced about the increase of salaries for Ukrainian military. He refused to name exact figures, but promised that “the increase will be significant.”

Head of the self-proclaimed LNR Plotnytskyi says that popularity of Donetsk militants “Givi” and “Motorola” is a PR product by journalists. He said this in an interview with pro-Kremlin British journalist Graham Phillips. According to him, LNR has got more worthy heroes, but they are unknown.

He also commented on a resonant murder of Pavlo Dryomov and compared it with the events in DNR. The publication adds that Plotnytskyi awarded Phillips with medal “For Service” II degree.

One of the ATO military unit commanders established a “duty” for his subordinates demanding 50% of their material assistance. SBU and military prosecutors detained this commander.

Politics and Economics

In Poltava region police officers resign on the eve of massive re-certification in connection with the creation of the National Police, Head of the National Police Directorate in Poltava region Oleh Bekh told reporters. According to him, people are afraid of tests and would not be able to continue working in the police. Number of resigned officers was not mentioned.

National Bank of Ukraine made it difficult for banks to purchase foreign currency and transfer it abroad. This is stated in the NBU letter no.25-02002 /101 317 “On the use of indicators of suspicious financial operations” as of December 18. Document analysis should include examination of the operations, information on its members to identify indicators of suspicious financial transactions, signs of carrying out risk activities and reasons to believe that their character can bear a real threat. Conclusion of the transaction will be signed by the head of the unit of the bank, and if it contains a justification of possible suspicious bank transactions, it can be a reason for failure of the bank transaction.

NBU is concerned about the situation that has developed in connection with the adoption of the budget for 2016. First of all, this situation can partially reverse the positive developments observed in the Ukrainian economy in recent years. In particular, the gradual recovery in output, inflation slowdown, improving the balance of payments and stabilizing the banking sector, said in a statement.

Ministry of Finance proposes that transport tax (UAH25 thousand a year) to be paid by owners of cars the value of which is more than UAH 1 million, Ukrainska Pravda reported. This is stated in the draft law no.3688 “On Amendments to the Tax Code of Ukraine and Some Other Legislative Acts of Ukraine regarding the Balance of Revenue in 2016,” registered on December 22. Now the tax of UAH 25 thousand per year is applied to cars with engine volume of more than 3 litres, age – up to five years. Thus, the Ministry proposes to change the criteria for “luxury cars.” Now “luxury” cars worth more than UAH1 million, age – not older than 5 years, will be taxed regardless of engine size.

Most of the former Berkut fighters, despite low test scores, successfully passed the interview for recruitment to the National Police, reported a member of the Certification Commission, Automaidan activist Oleksander Kravtsov. “Only odious deputy commander Antonov was dismissed (Yevhen Antonov, the commander of the Berkut 3rd squad) and a private,” reported Kravtsov.

The Verkhovna Rada adopted the Law “On State Budget for 2016.” 263 MPs voted for a decision. According to the Finance Minister Natalia Jaresko, when considering the draft budget, MPs submitted around 20 amendments during the last week. In general, the Parliament adopted the state budget for 2016 with revenues of UAH 595.081 billion and expenditures of UAH 667.733 billion.

Federation Council of Russia approved the proposed by Vladimir Putin law on the suspension of the agreement on free trade area with Ukraine starting from 2016, reported “RIA Novosti.” During the meeting the Chairman of the Committee of the Chamber on International Affairs Konstantin Kosachev said that without this decision losses to the Russian budget would amount to around USD 3.5 billion. First Deputy Chairman of the Defence and Security Committee Franz Klyntsevych called this decision “a natural reaction to an agreement on a Free Trade Area between Ukraine and the European Union, which comes into force on January 1, 2016.”

The former Kyiv SFS head of the department Lyudmila Demchenko was reinstated in office by court decision, reported “Ukrainian News.” At the briefing, Director of the Lustration Department of the Justice Ministry Tetyana Kozachenko said that SFS is sabotaging lustration of Demchenko. Kozachenko recalled that Demchenko after her lustration filed a lawsuit to the Administrative Court of Kyiv. However, neither representatives of Demchenko, nor DFS were present at the hearing and asked the court to decide without the participation of the parties. Kozachenko believes that SFS, in this way, refused to represent the state in the court.

On April 11, 2016, NBU introduces updated UAH 500 banknotes into circulation with advanced security system. As noted, the banknotes will be introduced to improve the organization of cash circulation and within the planned release to replace worn out, damaged and withdrawn from circulation banknotes in 2016.

International Level

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree on “sanctions” against Ukraine and instructed to prepare a lawsuit to recover a 3 billion “loan of Yanukovych,” reported “RIA Novosti.” Thus, Medvedev said that Moscow believes that Kyiv will not pay the loan. He therefore instructed to prepare a legal appeal in court to recover the debt of Ukraine. “In addition, Medvedev wants to get ” the penalty for non-payment.”

In Russian Penza, local communists established a “scientific, historical and cultural centre of Stalin.” The Centre was opened on Stalin’s birthday on December 18. First Secretary of RF Communist Party Kamnev said that “the goal of the Centre is promotion and actualization of the practices that were used in the Stalin era and which are relevant now.” The opening of the Centre was preceded by photo exhibition dedicated to the activities of Stalin and his historical role, as well as information boards about Stalin and the Centre. Kamenev hopes that this “historic event” will attract tourists in Penza region.

Central banks of Ukraine and Poland signed an agreement on opening a credit line of 1 billion euros, announced Ambassador of Ukraine to Poland Andriy Deshchytsia.

On December 21, in Strasbourg, Minister of Youth and Sports of Ukraine Ihor Zhdanov signed the Convention on manipulation in sports. Thus, as reported, Ukraine became the 22nd State that signed the Convention.

The decision on the extension of the EU sanctions against Russia until July 31, 2015 came into force. In particular, the decision was published in the EU Official Journal. Recall, on Monday the EU Council decided to extend economic sanctions against Russia for six months, until July 31, 2016. As you know, the decision was also approved on Friday by the EU Ambassadors under the written procedure (without discussion).

The EU-Ukraine-Russia trilateral negotiations on free trade area between Ukraine and the European Union failed to reach a compromise and they are fully completed, stated the EU Commissioner on Trade Cecilia Malmstrom at a press conference in Brussels. According to her, tripartite negotiations lasted 18 months and the EU tried to resolve the concerns of the Russian Federation on the implementation of a free trade area between Ukraine and the EU, which will come into force on January 1. She noted that the EU Commission offered Russia cooperation on issues of phytosanitary, veterinary regulations, etc., but Russia rejected them.

Mission of Ukraine to the United Nations will be strengthened by the team of 15 national diplomats, announced Foreign Minister of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin. The Minister also added that one of the deputies of Yelchenko will help him on the Security Council issues, the other – on the UN as a whole.

Already in 2016 electricity supply from Ukraine to occupied Crimea may stop, said RF Energy Minister Alexander Novak in an interview with “Kommersant.” Novak said that in December the 400 MWatt cable across the Kerch Strait was installed. According to him, other 400 MWatt will come from Russia in May.

The State Duma of the Russian Federation suspended the free trade agreement with Ukraine within the CIS FTA, reported “RIA Novosti.” FTA with Ukraine will terminate on January 1, 2016. The document was submitted to the State Duma, by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The stop of FTA is explained by the fact that from January 1, 2016 shall take effect the economic provisions of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU.

SBU banned entry to Ukraine for the leader of the American rap-rock band “Limp Bizkit” Fred Durst.” Fred Durst has no right to come to Ukraine in the next five years. As you know, Durst is an ardent supporter of the occupation of Crimea and dreams to become a friend of Putin.

The court in Donetsk, Rostov region of Russia, refused to appoint MP Oleksandr Plakhotnyuk to be the defender for a Ukrainian pilot MP Nadiya Savchenko. The relevant request by Savchenko the court rejected three times during only one session on Wednesday, reports “Radio Freedom.”

Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine recognized the Russian company “Gazprom” a gas monopolist on gas transit market in 2009-2015, said the Head of the Antimonopoly Committee Yuriy Terentyev. “Thus, in 2009-2015 Gazprom constantly violated the contract with Naftogaz and ignored any requests to change the terms of cooperation for economically justified and mutually beneficial,” – he said. According to Terentyev, these are preliminary findings; the hearing is scheduled for January 14, 2016.

Natalia Sevidova: “We all need to unite to build Ukraine without fraud”

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Head of NGO “Bridge Ukraine-EU” Natalia Sevidova attended the Second Anti-Corruption Forum in Kyiv.

According to the organizers of the Anti-Corruption Forum, more than six thousand people attended the event. “But there’s much more of us – says Natalia Sevidova – willing to fight corruption in Ukraine, not in words but in deeds. And we need to unite these people.”

In his speech, Odesa Governor Mikheil Saakashvili emphasized that corruption is the biggest problem of Ukraine. “Another problem is the political system in Ukraine – adds Natalia Sevidova – as it brings to nothing all efforts to combat corruption. Therefore, we must change the political system as soon as possible. The next thing to change is the election law. Under the new election law, Ukrainians would be able to elect a new government that could effectively combat corruption.”

Natalia Sevidova: “Europe welcomes Ukrainians… fair, transparent and competitive”

On Friday the EU Commission finally approved the sixth report on Ukraine’s implementation of the requirements of the Visa Liberalization Action Plan. The Commission agreed to start the visa waiver, based on the promises of Ukrainian authorities in the first quarter next year to launch the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, form special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, change laws on the Prosecutor’s Office, on arrest and seizure of assets and provide funding for these agencies.

Head of the NGO “Bridge Ukraine-EU” Natalia Sevidova considers approval of the report a very positive sign for Ukraine. “I want to mention a long and painstaking work of Ukrainian politicians and public figures that have worthily represented the country at the European level for a long time, – adds Natalia Sevidova – I believe that upon providing visa-free regime, Europe will get good friends, reliable partners and will greatly expand its cultural framework.

Natalia Sevidova notes that the adoption of the report is the beginning of a very long road to visa liberalization, because the last decision of the EU Commission does not mean the abolition of visas for Ukrainians today. “There are still two EU institutions: the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, – says the social activist – and the authorities should really be zealous to fulfil promises of the President and the Prime minister.”

Head of the NGO “Bridge Ukraine-EU” hopes that European politicians will see perspective in Ukraine, despite some drawbacks. “They are present in our country, – recognizes Natalie Sevidova – it is primarily corruption and a low level of political culture. But Ukraine must primarily be responsible for getting rid of these shortcomings.

Natalia Sevidova stresses the importance of self-development of every Ukrainian: starting from improving professional, educational, cultural and social levels, and finishing with developing the state in general. “I believe that Europe welcomes us, – assures Natalia – but they are expecting us to be honest to ourselves, as well as future colleagues and partners. I understand the concept “fairness” as absence of corruption, transparency of budgets, their distribution and use.

Monitoring December 14-20, 2015

 

Situation in Eastern Ukraine

On December 15, pro-Russian militants made about 10 armed provocations against the ATO forces, ATO press centre reported. The most provocative attacks happened near Donetsk. Besides, militants used 120-mm mortars banned by Minsk arrangements.

On December 16, the enemy shelled Ukrainian military positions 20 times, ATO press centre reported. Militants shelled ATO positions with small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns in Pisky, Opytne and Avdiyivka, Novhorodske and Luhanske. According to military Ukrainian positions in Pisky were shelled with 82-mm mortars at midnight. According to the ATO press centre speaker Anton Myronovych, attacks by separatists show that the Minsk agreement terms are going to an end.

The Contact Group on Ukraine at a meeting in Minsk reached an agreement on a ceasefire in Donbas during the Christmas holidays, stated Spokesman of Foreign Ministry of Russia Maria Zakharova.

NSDC Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov stressed that the Ukrainian government insists on the immediate release of all the captured Ukrainian military “without any bidding.” He said this on Thursday, answering journalists’ questions. NSDC Secretary said that the idea for the exchange of prisoners in the format “all-for-all” is not the initiative of Putin.”

Special Brigade of the National Guard is ready for a new type of combat missions, stated the NSDC Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov after examination training of special operations soldiers of the National Guard. He said brigade soldiers were the first to start its activities in accordance with NATO standards. The main task of the brigade is neutralization of military intelligence and terrorist groups and armed gangs in ATO area and in any part of the country, noted in the National Security Council.

On Thursday and Friday terrorists provoked Ukrainian defenders in Pisky, Maryinka, Zaitseve, Novhorodske almost 20 times, using mortars, press centre of ATO reported.

SMM OSCE said that militants do not let them in the territory under terrorist control, stated Deputy Head of the SMM OSCE Alexander Huh. “DNR authorities must stop this practice. If they don’t, the SMM cannot observe compliance with the truce and withdrawal of weapons from the line of contact,” – he warned.

OSCE said that the militants provide understated figure of artillery, stated Deputy Head of SMM OSCE Alexander Huh. In addition, he said that in the village of Zaitseve, controlled by the occupiers, terrorists reinforced their military positions in the school.

Solving Ukrainian conflict will be one of the main issues that Germany intends to tackle during its presidency in the OSCE starting from January 1, 2016, announced the German government commissioner for the German presidency in 2016 Gernot Erler. Among the most difficult tasks, in Erler’s view, is the problem of transfer of control over the border.

Politics and Economics

On December 14, a conflict between Odesa Governor Saakashvili and Interior Minister Avakov burst out at a meeting of the National Reform Council. Saakashvili accused Avakov of corruption, the latter in response splashed water in Saakashvili’s face. After the incident, Saakashvili gave a press conference, during which he accused Prime Minister Yatsenyuk and “chief policeman” of the country Avakov of corruption.

Interior Minister Avakov will not give apologizes to Odesa Governor Saakashvili. According to him, the only achievement of Saakashvili, as a governor, is three demolished fences on the beach.

The Cabinet of Ministers plans to finalize the draft budget until next Thursday and elaborate the draft budget; work on tax reform is planned for next year. As for changes in tax legislation the Premier said that the government appreciates the work done by MPs on new taxes and a new tax code.

Ukraine has committed to complete the launch of anti-corruption bodies necessary for the abolition of visas, Deputy Foreign Minister Olena Zerkal. In particular, she notes that Ukraine has not yet completed the work related to ensuring the full functioning of the Agency for the return of assets and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau. However, according to Deputy Foreign Minister, this work will be completed.

The trade ban with Crimea does not apply to electricity and a number of socially important food products. You can import or export bread, flour, cheese, sausage, bacon, etc., unless these products together weigh more than 50 kilograms and cost more than UAH 10 thousand – says the Cabinet of Ministers resolution of Ukraine np.1035 as of December 16, published on the government website. It will come into force on January 16, 2015.

The Cabinet introduced a moratorium on the payment of the so-called “Russian debt” from December 20, 2015, states the Cabinet of Ministers resolution no.1312-p as of December 18, 2015. Under the document, a moratorium on payments of government bonds issued in 2013, will be introduced on December 20, 2015.

Sberbank shares show a decrease after Ukraine’s moratorium on the payment of “Yanukovych debt,” Moscow Stock Exchange data. According to the stock exchange, Sberbank shares fell by 3.6%. Russia’s stock market also reacted to news from Ukraine. The MICEX index fell by 2.69% to 1,733.01 points. RTS Index dipped by 3.61%, to 766.47 points.

On December 21, the Verkhovna Rada will consider the submitted draft law on amendments to the current Tax Code, wrote the Head of the Parliamentary Committee on Taxation and Customs Policy Nina Yuzhanina.

President Poroshenko vetoed the law on restructuring foreign currency loans, and offered to reject it. “According to the NBU, as of today, individuals, residents of Ukraine, have received foreign currency loans worth USD 4.28 billion … the sum of all mortgage loans is USD 2.16 billion … Conversion of foreign currency loans at the rate of UAH 5.05 per USD 1, that is the exchange rate at the time of most credit agreements, will cause losses to the banking system worth more than UAH76 billion,”- the President argues, in particular his decision.

International Level

US missile system was installed to the south of the Romanian capital Bucharest. According to Reuters, the new missile defence is designed to protect against potential missile threats from Iran. It is reported that Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence consists of the powerful radar, interceptor missiles and communications equipment. It is expected that the system will be ready in early 2016, and will become part of NATO’s missile defence.

Several Turkish sites were under the powerful cyber-attacks, allegedly Russian hackers, reports Hurriyet Daily News, citing information of IT experts from Middle East Technical University (Middle East Technical University), Ankara. The main target of unknown hackers were sites of state authorities of Turkey with the extension “.tr”, as well as other sites of this domain, told experts of Data Centre University. After the attack, Turkish experts on cyber defence had to restrict access from abroad to 400,000 sites of government agencies and private companies with the extension “.tr.” At the same time the newspaper writes, the National Centre for responding to computer threats still does not comment on the information. Official authorities also refrain from comments.

On Friday EU Commission finally approved the sixth report on Ukraine’s implementation of the requirements of the Visa Liberalization Action Plan (VLAP). The report was approved at the board meeting of the EU Commission on December 18 and was published on the official website of the EU Commission.

EU Commission considers that Ukraine fulfilled all the criteria set by the four units of the second phase VLAP” – said the EC conclusions of “visa-free report.” The document stresses that granting Ukraine a visa-free regime was made possible through a special political relations between Kyiv and Brussels.

EC visa-free report does not contain any conditions or criteria on abolition of visas for Ukrainians. Sixth Commission report on the VLAP implementation involves the recommendation of the EU to abolish visas for citizens of Ukraine without any preconditions for this. Although the report notes Ukraine’s implementation of all VLAP requirements, it implicitly acknowledged that Ukraine has not fulfilled some points of the plan to fight corruption. However, the Commission agreed to start the process of abolishing visas without waiting when Ukraine completes the implementation of these items based on Ukrainian authorities promise to complete the job. In particular, the Prime Minister and the President of Ukraine gave the EU guarantees to complete in the first quarter of 2016:

– effective launch of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau;

– formation of anti-corruption prosecutors, changing the law on the prosecutor’s office;

– creating and start of the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption;

– amending the Law on Asset Recovery Agency, and special laws on confiscation and seizure;

– amending the state budget, regarding funding these agencies.

Visa-free regime for Ukraine and Georgia will begin in a few months after early 2016 the European Commission will prepare legislative proposals for its implementation, announced the European Commissioner for Migration, Interior and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopulos. Responding to a question clarifying whether a decision is possible by the summer, he said that the decision process will take from 3 to 7 months.

London singer Diana Mess with the song about the war in Ukraine “World, Support Ukraine” will take part in the national selection for Eurovision 2016 in the UK. VSE.SVIT project recently released a music video for this song – video depicts the struggle of Ukraine against Russian aggression and calls on people around the world to support Ukrainians. The authorship of the song belongs to the Ukrainian musician Andriy Loboda.

President Barack Obama signed into law consolidated budgetary appropriations, which significantly increased the total amount of expenditures provided for Ukraine. According to the press centre of the US Embassy in Ukraine, the volume of appropriations for the State Department for assistance to Ukraine in 2016 will be at least USD 658. 185 million, which is by USD145 million more than the original request.

The European Commission “For Democracy through Law” (more commonly known as the “Venice Commission”) on Friday decided on non-compliance of the Ukrainian law on de-communization with Council of Europe standards. Kyiv promised to change it. Council of Europe made a number of recommendations Kyiv that would allow to bring the law in line with Council of Europe standards, while retaining its main objective to prohibit Communist and National Socialist propaganda.

Member countries of the North Atlantic alliance have agreed to provide military support to strengthen Turkey’s air defence on the border with Syria, said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. According to the Reuters publication, under the general plans of the Allies, Turkey will get planes and warships. These actions are designed to strengthen the defence capacity of the country, especially on the Syrian border.

The EU has continued economic sanctions against Russia for another six months. According to Ukrinform, the decision was made on Friday under a written procedure (without discussion) by the ambassadors of member countries of the EU Council. Currently it is know that the document will be published on Monday, 21 December. The package of economic, sectoral EU sanctions includes restrictions and embargoes in the banking and financial sectors, military-technical cooperation, investment, and energy.

Natalia Sevidova “Public organizations should unite to learn from each other, but not compete”

On December 11, as part of the social initiative “Feel it by yourself,” PU “Civic Guard” and NGO “Bridge Ukraine-EU” held a round table “Public Accessibility in Pratice. Equal Rights for All Citizens of Ukraine.” Among the participants of the roundtable were officials of the Kyiv City State Administration, representatives of the Department on Human Rights, Non-discrimination and Gender Equality Secretariat of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights and representatives of more than ten NGOs that protect the rights of persons with disabilities.

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The participants of the event raised urgent issues of protecting the rights of people with disabilities: accessibility to public places, correctness of timing when talking about persons with disabilities. During the discussion, Yuriy Krykunov, Director of Social Policy, KCSA told that some NGOs do not want to unite because they perceive their colleagues as competitors.

Head of the NGO “Bridge Ukraine-EU” Natalia Sevidova notes that in a country where there is war and hundreds of fighters as a result of injuries become disabled, such competition is in fact a crime. She added that all public organizations need to unite to learn from each other, but not compete.

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Speaking about the difficult situation with public accessibility for persons with disabilities and information problems with their employment, Natalia Sevidova recognizes that the state is unable to cope with this task. Therefore, she calls on public organisations for unity and activity.

Natalia Sevidova stresses the importance of joint work on protection of the rights of people with disabilities, adding that the problem of disability is not a problem of a person, but a common problem of the whole society.

Participants of the round table considered a resolution, the text of which is given below:

RESOLUTION OF THE ROUND TABLE

“Public Accessibility in Pratice. Equal rights for All Citizens of Ukraine”

Kyiv, December 11, 2015

We, the participants of the round table “Public Accessibility in Pratice. Equal rights for All Citizens of Ukraine,”

analysing and summarizing the known problems with the public accessibility (institutional, physical, financial, mental, informational barriers) in Ukraine,

given the fact that our country continues fighting and Ukrainians protect its territorial integrity and defer the aggressor, which conducts large-scale military operations in our country using heavy weapons that increases the number of people with disabilities in Ukraine,

reaffirm our concern of low general level of accessibility for people with disabilities to most public places, public transport and services, unsatisfactory level of tolerance in society.

We set priorities and recommend them for implementation by city, village and settlement heads, legislative and executive bodies, business entities to actually make qualitative changes in legislation and public control to ensure the equality rights of all citizens of Ukraine in the implementation of their constitutional rights.

Despite the constant declarations of the state and all levels authorities regarding the problems of people with disabilities, the situation is still complicated: a large number of institutions of different ownership is inaccessible for disabled people, construction and renovation of public spaces is conducted with violations of construction norms and without taking into account the needs of people with disabilities; a large number of people with disabilities cannot get a job; the state does not provide them with the necessary medicines in full. All these factors lead to the formation of the so-called “social prisoners” – people who actually cannot get out of their own homes.

The current legislation is imperfect and somewhat outdated, while the owners of the unsuitable premises do not have sufficient motivation to equip them with ramps or other means of unhindered access for all. In this context, the declared priorities of state policy are only subject to rhetorical exercises by politicians, causing only a sense of disappointment and frustration for people with disabilities.

Assistance of state and local authorities to improve accessibility in practice comes to taking on a variety of programmes, which, at best, are unsystematic, and overwhelmingly have declaratory nature and repeat same events every year.

Based on the above, we offer:

  1. To create an association of NGOs that deal with people with disabilities to monitor compliance with legislation for people with disabilities by authorities and local governments;
  2. To make all-Ukrainian monitoring on public accessibility and publish its results in the media;
  3. To develop recommendations to authorities and local governments to overcome institutional, physical, financial, mental and informational barriers for people with disabilities and work out an action plan for the control over their observance;
  4. To create and legalize electronic form designed by city, village and settlement councils for communication of people with disabilities with city, village and settlement heads;
  5. To raise the level of tolerance and indifference in society towards people with disabilities by creating respective audio-, video- and visual content;
  6. To conduct round tables “Public Accessibility in Pratice. Equal rights for All Citizens of Ukraine” in all regional centres of Ukraine and on their basis create recommendations for local authorities with regard to specifics of the region;
  7. To develop a “map of public accessibility in Ukraine” and bring the maximum number of people with disabilities to its creation;
  8. Develop a training program of correct and tolerant coverage of events related to persons with disabilities for local media;
  9. To seek media leaders with a proposal to create permanent programs to cover the lives of people with disabilities;
  10. To publish the Resolution of the roundtable in the media.
  11. To apply for membership of NGO representatives who took part in the round table in the Public Council established at the Kyiv City State Administration.

We believe that compliance with legislation regarding people with disabilities by state authorities and local governments, as well as active cooperation of the authorities with public organizations and associations in the observance of the recommendations made by these NGOs and associations is the key to equality of all people regardless of health, increase of tolerance in society, establishment of social dialogue between all sectors of the population and affirmation of Ukraine as a European state.

Monitoring December 07-13, 2015

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Situation in Eastern Ukraine

ATO Staff press centre reported on regular violations of the ceasefire by militants and a try to attack the stronghold of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Donetsk region. According to the Staff, shelling continued in all directions with the use of grenade launchers, heavy machine guns and small arms by separatists for the past day. Victims of fighting are not reported.

Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak said that a single register for military service is being created as a part of the reform of the country’s defensive capacity. According to Poltorak, 138 new     military registration and enlistment offices have been created. Poltorak also voiced the priorities of the Ministry in 2016, including strengthening the air defence, development of Navy infrastructure and accelerating the pace of army reform.

A soldier of the battalion “Zoloti Vorota” opened fire in a cafe. One person was injured. Chernihiv region prosecutor’s office initiated an investigation into the violation of public order by an officer of a special purpose battalion “Zoloti Vorota.” According to the prosecutor’s office press service, the military can face imprisonment of 3 to 7 years.

In Donbas settlements controlled by Ukraine, and which are located near the demarcation line, damage to infrastructure ranges from 50 to 95 percent, stated the report of public organization “Prolisok,” which also figured out violations of the rights of people living within 20 kilometres from the boundary line. According to the organization, most settlements there have no water and gas, electricity is supplied intermittently. NGO representatives note that in many towns stores are absent, closest stores can be up to 2 to 5 kilometres, and prices in existing stores are usually 1.5 – 3 times higher than purchase. As noted in the report of NGO “Prolisok,” delivery of goods and humanitarian aid in most populated areas is hindered.

Donbas separatists hold in hostage 131 people, reported SBU Head Advisor Yuriy Tandit. He added that they only know about the fate of 57 hostages.

SBU counterintelligence conducted a special operation on the prevention of terrorist attacks in Krasnohorivka, Donetsk region, informed SBU press centre. As a result of the operation, 85 people were detained, allegedly connected with terrorist organizations L/DNR. More than 600 SBU officers, National Police, National Guard and the Armed Forces of Ukraine participated in the operation.

The Joint Centre for Control and Coordinating Fire will propose Tripartite contact group to investigate attacks on Zoriane by militants using Grads, reported Colonel Ihor Loza to representatives of the SMM OSCE.

As a result of hostilities in Donbas more than nine thousand people have been killed, more than 20 thousand have been injured, stated the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. According to information, this is the 12th report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Ukraine, based on the work of the monitoring mission. The report covers the period from August 16 to November 15, 2015.

Ukrainian military even in ATO zone earn several times less than the Russian military in peacetime, Liga.net reported. The publication notes that last year the salary in the army considerably increased, in particular Ukrainian military receive additional payments for destroying enemy vehicles (often it’s hard to prove and money is not paid), for participation in hostilities, as well as promised by Petro Poroshenko UAH 1 thousand for a fighting day. The latter government has introduced since February 1, 2015 (not since May 2014, as promised by the President) and not for each day in the ATO, but for a fighting day.

Politics and Economics

Kharkiv “titushky” Aziz Tahirov and Ramil Islamli have been sentenced to 4 years of imprisonment wrote defender Pavlo Dikan on his Facebook page. He said that the decision was made regarding two episodes: “January 21, attack of titushky on Automaidan in Petrivka and abduction.”

Increase in railway tariffs will badly hit Ukrainian industry, the coal industry primarily. Tariffs for freight transportation in Ukraine should be adequate and meet the situation in the domestic economy, Minister of Energy Demchyshyn reported. According to him, those who criticize the government for tariff policy must take into account price reduction in foreign markets, which affected the Ukrainian manufacturers. Tariffs are to be revised and UZ is to be scrutinised regarding effectiveness and possibility to optimize costs.

Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk urged the EU to conduct strict inspection of project Nord Stream-2 and block it. He said this during the press conference on the results of the EU-Ukraine Association, reports UNN. According to Yatseniuk, it deprives not only Ukraine, Slovakia and Poland of billion revenues, but also deprives the EU of real competition in the energy market and increases monopoly of Russian Gazprom.

Stolen ten years ago from Dutch West Friesland Museum paintings are now in the hands of the Ukrainian militants, who demand a reward for their return, stated museum director Ad Geerdink in the interview with local newspaper De Telegraaf. According to Geerdink, representatives of the museum in Horn (Netherlands), travelled to Ukraine to negotiate the return of the paintings, but “soldiers” demanded tens of millions of euros. It is about 24 Dutch artists’ paintings worth millions of euros, which were found in one of the estates in Eastern Ukraine. The former head of the SBU Valentyn Nalyvaychenko denies the charges of Dutch museum, calling the Interpol and law enforcement agencies of Netherlands to investigate this crime.

At the Rivne Regional State Administration a group of people grabbed the head of Regional Trade Union Federation Mykola Shershun and threw him into the trash bin. Before that, representatives of a number of organizations came to the office of the head of region forestry Volodymyr Hrytsaychuk, but he was not there. At the same time people saw the head of the administration of regional trade unions, MP of the previous convocation, former head of forestry of Rivne region Mykola Shershun.

Minister of Information Policy of Ukraine Yuriy Stets said that on December 8 he wrote a letter of resignation.

Former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych claimed to return to politics in the interview with the Russian news agency “RIA Novosti.” He also said about his liaison with the current Ukrainian politicians.

Gas price for Ukraine in the first quarter of 2016 will be USD 230 per thousand cubic metres, said deputy chairman of Gazprom Valery Golubev. In late November, Minister of Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine Volodymyr Demchyshyn predicted the price 210 dollars per thousand cubic meters for Russian gas for Ukraine in the first quarter of 2016.

Vice President Joseph Biden said that Washington can still give Ukraine USD 300 million for the development of security. He said the US Congress is working on the adoption of the relevant law. Joe Biden stressed that Ukrainian leaders should implement the recommendations of the IMF and work with the international community, “to continue economic progress in Ukraine.” US Vice President Joseph Biden urged MPs not to lose the chance to build a better future for the Ukrainian people. He warned the Ukrainian authorities that the world is closely watching their actions and expects the success of the reforms, fighting corruption and victory in the fight against Russian aggression. Biden said this, speaking in the Parliament on Tuesday. In addition, the Vice President believes that in the world there is no country where corruption is flourishing like in Ukraine. Biden believes that Ukraine should have independent regions with their own governments, as decentralization is the best European practice and does not threaten sovereignty. However, he said, it is important that Ukraine created independent “states”, uniting them by the Constitution.

Operational headquarters of protesters on blockading Crimea allowed the Ukrenergo repair team to prepare ETL «Kakhovska-Titan” to supply electricity to Crimea, but the protesters say they will stay on Crimean borderline “to protect the rest of the transmission lines from looting,” announced Lenur Islyamov, the head of the operational headquarters of protesters.

The International Monetary Fund agreed with the vision of the Ministry of Finance on the need for tax reform in Ukraine, stated Finance Minister Natalia Jaresko in the interview with LigaBusinessInform. She stressed that considering the issue of tax reform, the IMF was guided not only by indicators of the state budget deficit. The Foundation is interested in a balanced approach to the budget, as proposed solutions, and in reforming all sectors of economy of Ukraine.

International Level

On December 7, Prime Minister of Latvia Laimdota Straujuma announced that the government resigns. President Raymond Veyonis accepted the resignation of the government. Rumours about the possible resignation of the current government of Latvia were circulating in the country after the prime minister had sacked his party member, Minister of Communications Anriys Matisse. However, high rank politicians in their official comments were very evasive talking about a possible change of government.

The European Commission (EC) noted improvement in investment policy in Ukraine, but calls for more focus on reforms in the next four years without elections, stated the European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Johannes Hahn. He also noted that effective fight against corruption will promote investments.

In Yalta, there was opened a point for free distribution of candles for retirees, according to the press service of the City Council. The point was organized on the initiative of local deputies. In addition, the point provides free charging of mobile phones and information on anticipated power cuts.

Ukraine opened criminal proceedings against a number of European politicians through their visits to the annexed Crimea, stated Foreign Minister of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin. On July 23-24, a group of French parliamentarians visited Crimea. They did not agree their visit with Ukraine and the French Foreign Ministry opposed this trip. The authorities of Ukraine declared them persona non grata and banned them from entering the country.

On December 10, the World Human Rights Day, the police in Havana detained several community activists who chanted slogans “Freedom” and “Long live human rights!” According to Reuters, the same day in different cities of the country about a hundred people who participated in unauthorized demonstrations were detained. Confrontation between police and activists happened in front of passers-by and journalists, as in all previous years of communist rule.

A court in Donetsk, Russia, finished questioning Vira Savchenko. She was being interrogated for two days as the main witness for the defence at the trial of Nadiya Savchenko. The interrogation began on December 9, but prosecutors insisted that it continued, stating the presence of additional questions to Vira Savchenko. Last week, the prosecution finished presenting evidence in the trial of Nadiya Savchenko.

Iraqi authorities said that ISIS militants destroyed the sluice on the River Euphrates, which serves as a bridge to the city of Ramadi, controlled by Islamists. In recent days, Iraqi forces surrounded Ramadi, capital of Anbar province, and took control of its suburbs. The operation commander of government troops in Anbar province Ismail am-Mahlavi informed that this was the only bridge gateway from the centre of Ramadi to the northwest. According to him, due to its destruction 300 ISIS militants ” remain blocked in the city centre.

The US claim about the death of one of the main ISIS financiers Abu Salah after the international coalition air strikes. On December 10, a spokesman for the international coalition led by the US, Steve Warren said that during these air strikes Abu Salah and two Islamist leaders have been killed. Warren called Salah “one of the most respected and experienced members of the ISIS finance unit.”

In Moscow, the biggest for the last 25 years fire happened in Tushino engineering plant, informed “Interfax-Ukraine” with reference to EMERCOM in Moscow. A source at the emergency services of the city reported “Interfax” that the building of the ware house collapsed. As it became known later, the area of collapse has reached a thousand square meters. The source said that this is the biggest fire in Moscow for a quarter century.

The unknown helicopter violated Finnish airspace boundaries on the east side of the Gulf of Finland. The report said the helicopter “illegally” crossed the border between Finland and Russia on Dec. 10 at about 10 am. The event is under investigation. Russian Vyborg is mentioned in connection with the incident, but so far the exact identity of helicopter is not known.

On December 9, Bosch-Siemens plant near St. Petersburg stopped production of washing machines due to lack of spare parts to be supplied from Turkey, RBC reported.

Ukrainian JSC “Barsky poultry plant” lost the right to supply products to the Russian Federation. According to Rosselkhoznadzor, finished products and raw materials from this company are banned, as meat contained Listeria and E. coli bacteria group. Meat sent prior to Dec.15 is subject to enhanced laboratory control.

In December the European Commission should recommend to abolish visas for Ukraine, Acting head of the Ukrainian mission to the EU Liubov Nepop said in the interview with Georgian public television. According to the diplomat, this signal will be crucial not only to Ukrainians but also for the people of Russia. Ms. Nepop said, in this way the Russians must understand that you can get liberalized visa regime with the European Union if the relevant reforms and democratic standards are implemented by the government.

Presence of non-restructured Ukraine’s debt to Russia in the amount of USD 3 billion will not hinder the continuation of cooperation between Ukraine and the IMF, in the event Ukraine continues to carry out joint work conditions and terms of crediting Ukrainian economy, said Deputy Director of the IMF on strategy and policy Hugh Bredenkamp.

On December 11, price of a barrel of Brent crude oil fell below USD 39. US Dollar on the Moscow Stock Exchange costs 70 roubles. Deputy Finance Minister Maxim Oreshkin said the economy has adapted to oil at USD 45 per barrel, macroeconomic reasons for the growth of US dollar, up to 100 roubles/US dollar in 2016 are absent.

December 10 – International Human Rights Day

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International Human Rights Day appeared in the calendar of all civilized humanity in 1948 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was the first global document that formulated provisions on human rights.

In this restless time for Ukraine and the whole civilized world, when Russia acts aggressively worldwide – annexing Crimea and starting the war in Eastern Ukraine and Syria – when the same Russia supports and inflates global terrorism, we all need to be united and defend our rights to live in a peaceful country, to study in schools not bombed by Russian terrorists, to wake up in the morning with an alarm clock, but not a howl of sirens or whistling bullets. Each of us should not be indifferent to what is happening beside, as well as far-far away, help each other and protect offended. Only then the “global evil” will think ten times before starting another aggression anywhere in the world!

With best regards,

Natalia Sevidova

Head of NGO “Bridge Ukraine-EU”