Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin – October 14-20, 2017

Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
October 14-20, 2017
Ukrainian artillery units participate in training exercises.
Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense

1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported that during the week of October 13-19, four Ukrainian soldiers were killed and eleven Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 208 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk, Donetsk and Mariupol sectors of the front, including at least 34 times with heavy weapons.
2. Ukraine’s Parliament adopts crucial healthcare reform
Ukraine_s Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman and Acting Health Minister Dr. Ulana Suprun in Parliament. 
Photo – Cabinet of Ministers
The Financial Times reported on October 19, “Ukraine’s parliament adopted crucial legislation aimed at fixing the country’s ailing healthcare system on Thursday, as opposition groups staged a third day of protests calling on the ruling coalition to speed up political and economic reforms.
           A new healthcare setup based on western models – replacing the remnants of a Soviet system that left Ukraine with one of the highest mortality rates in Europe – was supported by 240 MPs – more than the 226 required for a majority. Officials said financing ‘will follow patient’ covered by state medical insurance, who will now choose their primary care doctors. Doctors that service more patients will see a boost in earnings.
           Currently a large share of healthcare funding is inefficiently spent and pocketed by vested interests along layers of bureaucracy, leaving few resources for care and medical professionals’ salaries. Patients are often forced to make illegal cash payments to underpaid doctors.
           ‘Passage of the reform will be a positive sign that Ukraine is moving in the right direction and making progress towards becoming a European country,’ the healthcare ministry said in a statement ahead of the vote. The IMF and Ukraine’s western supporters have backed the reform efforts, which have been pushed through despite fierce internal opposition.”
3. Canada’s Magnitsky Act receives Royal Assent
On October 18, Bill S-226 “Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law)” received Royal Assent. The Magnitsky Law, sponsored by Senator Raynell Andreychuk, provides “for the taking of restrictive measures in respect of foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights. It also proposes related amendments to the Special Economic Measures Act and to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.” The legislation was tabled in the House of Commons by James Bezan, (MP, Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman).
           Upon the adoption of the Magnitsky Act, Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, stated, “This new law, which has received cross-partisan support in Parliament, is a clear demonstration that Canada takes any and all necessary measures to respond to gross violations of human rights and acts of significant foreign corruption.”
4. Russia sends Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov to brutal prison north of Arctic Circle   
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “It seems very likely that the Kremlin’s most famous Ukrainian political prisoner, Oleg Sentsov, has been taken to the ‘White Bear’ Prison Colony No. 8 in Labytnangi.  The prison is ‘north of the Arctic Circle’, in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug […] According to civic activist Yana Goncharova, the prison colony is believed to be ‘red’, that is, one where the staff impose their own brutal regime, with many reports of prisoners having been brutally beaten.
           As well as multiple violations of Sentsov’s rights through his imprisonment on ludicrous ‘terrorism’ charges, Russia is also flouting the European Court of Human Rights which has found it in breach of the European Convention to hold prisoners so far from their families.  […]
           It is not known why Sentsov was moved from the Yakutsk prison at the beginning of September.  He has been moved between different remand prisons since then with this making it impossible for family and lawyer to maintain any contact or monitoring of his treatment.  This is one of the reasons why such transfers are always particularly dangerous, and are sometimes used to put pressure on a prisoner while totally defenceless.
           The first news of Sentsov being moved coincided with the monstrous 8-year sentence passed on Crimean Tatar leader Akhtem Chiygoz, and seemed like a possible ploy, with hopes for his release / exchange deflecting attention from the new political sentence.  There was only ever a flicker of hope, and it does not appear to have ever been warranted, with Moscow simply ensuring that Sentsov is now held in even harsher conditions in the most northern part of the Russian Federation.” The full report from KHPG is available here: Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov sent to brutal prison north of the Arctic Circle 
5. Operation UNIFIER: next training phase at the Military Police 25 Training Centre
Training of Military Law and Order Service Sergeants and Junior Officers during Op UNIFIER. 
Photo – Joint Task Force Ukraine

An update on Operation UNIFIER, published by Canada’s Department of National Defence, stated, “Spirits are high at the Military Police 25 Training Centre as students move on to the next phase of training, having completed the first of nine modules of the new Transition course.
           This course was designed to provide Military Law and Order Service (MLOS) sergeants and junior officers with the tools and skills they need to succeed on the job. As such, it is a key part of multinational efforts to strengthen and rebuild the Ukrainian Armed Forces military police force.
           From handcuffing procedures, patrolling and investigative skills to the appropriate application of force, candidates have been exposed to effective techniques applicable in various scenarios they are likely to encounter.
           In the classroom and out, students are exposed to new learning techniques, and for many it is the first time. ‘Open, participative and transactional, this modern approach to professional development stands in stark contrast to past methods,’ explained Captain Nicole McConnell, Standards and Development Officer deployed on Operation UNIFIER, Canada’s training mission in Ukraine.
           Over the course of the next nine weeks, members will train in combat first aid, counter-improvised explosive device, escorting, custody and detention, and leadership and ethics. Truly a joint effort, the transition course was developed with the support of Canada, Lithuania, United Kingdom, the NATO Centre of Excellence in Poland, and Danish forces. It was designed to address the pressing need for trained MLOS personnel.”
6. Ukraine’s President: Parliamentary immunity will be abolished
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko stated on October 19, that immunity for Members of Parliament will be abolished in Ukraine and that he expects Parliament to endorse the respective constitutional amendments at the next session of parliament. Today Parliament sent a bill on abolishing MP’s immunity from prosecution to the Constitutional Court for review.
           Poroshenko stated, “We should pay tribute to people’s deputies – today they have made a responsible political step to abolish their own privilege. I believe that at the next session, the Verkhovna Rada will not lose its courage and provide three hundred votes” in order to abolish immunity. Poroshenko added, “I really hope that those who have been hyping themselves on the topic of immunity over the past days will not change their position when they see that it is already not PR, but a new reality.”

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