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.
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.