Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin – June 2-8, 2018

Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
June 2-8, 2018
 
OpUNIFIER mentors work on section attack training exercises with Ukrainian soldiers (Photo – CAF Operations)


 
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence reported that during the week of June 1-7, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 14 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 211 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front, including at least 45 times with heavy weapons – artillery, tanks and mortars.
2. Ukrainian lawmakers pass legislation to create anticorruption court
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on June 7, “The Ukrainian parliament has passed a bill on a long-awaited anticorruption court, whose creation is a key condition in order for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to distribute more aid to the country.
           Lawmakers stood up and applauded in the Verkhovna Rada on June 7 after 315 of them backed the draft law, which describes the Supreme Anticorruption Court as a permanent ‘higher specialized court’ to be located in the capital, Kyiv. The court’s jurisdiction would be applicable to the entire territory of Ukraine, it also says.
          ‘Today we have completed the formation of anticorruption infrastructure,’ President Petro Poroshenko tweeted after the vote. ‘I want to emphasize the resolve of the Ukrainian authorities to fight corruption.’ […]
          The IMF has said an anticorruption court will be a ‘benchmark’ of Ukraine’s progress toward Western legal standards, and that it would help ease the release of its loans in the future. The United States has also highlighted the importance of establishing an independent anticorruption court in Ukraine.”
3. Attorney: Russian jailers could begin to force-feed Ukrainian political prisoner Oleh Sentsov
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported on June 5, “Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov, who opposed Moscow’s 2014 seizure of Crimea and is now on a hunger strike in a Russian prison colony, could be force-fed if his vital organs begin to fail, according to his lawyer.
            Dmitry Dinze was speaking after visiting his client on June 4 at the correctional facility in the far-northern Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region where Sentsov is serving a 20-year prison term. […]
           Sentsov’s plight has sparked an international outcry, with some 50 writers and artists being the latest to urge Russian President Vladimir Putin to release him. […]
          Speaking to RFE/RL’s Russian Service, Dinze said Sentsov had already lost some 8 kilograms and his vital organs, including his kidneys, could start to fail as his health continues to deteriorate.
          ‘If these effects [of the hunger strike] take place, they will unfortunately subject him to force-feeding. The doctor warned him of this. Oleh didn’t try to argue or compromise,’ Dinze said. ‘The doctor warned that even with force-feeding, a person who stays on hunger strike and is not consuming normal food won’t last long,’ the lawyer added.
         He also said that Sentsov thanked all those who had supported him and vowed to continue his struggle. […] Sentsov has denied all charges against him, saying that a ‘trial by occupiers cannot be fair by definition.'”
4. Russia sentences Roman Sushchenko to 12 years for being a Ukrainian journalist
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported on June 4, “The Moscow City Court has, behind closed doors, found Ukrainian journalist Roman Sushchenko guilty of ‘spying’ and sentenced him to twelve years in a maximum security prison.  The 49-year-old journalist denies any wrongdoing, and his lawyer has confirmed that they will be lodging an appeal.
            The secrecy around Sushchenko’s ‘trial’ and the guilty verdict had been viewed as inevitable from the outset, with the main difference from other highly questionable FSB ‘Ukrainian spying cases’ being Sushchenko’s profession, and the publicity that gave his arrest and imprisonment.
           Sushchenko was seized by FSB officers on September 30, 2016, while in Moscow visiting close relatives.  There was typical secrecy about the arrest, with his family only learning what had happened after a human rights activist came upon the Ukrainian in Lefortovo Prison. […]
           There have been demands for his release from European structures, democratic countries and media and human rights NGOs.  On 10 December 2017 (International Human Rights Day), the Andrei Sakharov Committee on Journalist as an Act of Conscience announced  hat it was awarding Sushchenko their prize ‘For Courage’.
          Sushchenko has not once seen his 11-year-old son Maxim since his arrest, and has only been allowed a very small number of visits from his wife Angela and adult daughter Julia (also a journalist).  The visits have been short, with Sushchenko held behind a glass wall and a guard present throughout.   Russia clearly has a lot to hide.”
5. Court attaches Gazprom’s Dutch assets to secure $2.6 billion settlement with Naftogaz
Naftogaz Ukrainy reported on June 5, “Last week, Naftogaz, Ukraine’s national oil and gas company, filed a petition for an attachment of Gazprom’s shares in its Dutch subsidiaries and any debts owed from these subsidiaries to Gazprom. These petitions were made to secure Naftogaz’s right to payment of USD 2.6 billion by Gazprom pursuant to the arbitration award issued in February 2018.
          A Dutch court approved the petitions; however, six out of seven of Gazprom’s Dutch subsidiaries have refused to cooperate with the bailiffs. This does not affect the validity of the attachments.
           ‘Naftogaz will use all legitimate measures and tools available to us to enforce the decision and fully recover the amount awarded from Gazprom. Unfortunately, the company is not acting in good faith, in respect neither of the arbitration awards, nor with the orders of European courts in other jurisdictions,’ CEO Andriy Kobolyev commented on the news.
           ‘The tribunal has ruled that Gazprom has to reimburse to Naftogaz USD 4.63 billion in damages for failing on the transit contract. We have already effectively received USD 2.1 billion which pursuant to the award in the transit case was offset against the payment for gas Naftogaz had purchased from Gazprom before. Now we are working to recover the remaining amount,’ explained CCO Yuriy Vitrenko.
           In April 2014, Gazprom increased the gas price for Naftogaz by over 80% within days following the occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. Naftogaz challenged the ill-grounded price hike in the arbitration, and the tribunal decreased the payment for gas off-taken in 2014-2015 by approximately USD 1.8 billion. In addition, the tribunal rejected Gazprom’s take-or-pay claim as unconscionable, resulting in nearly USD 77 billion savings for Naftogaz until the expiry of the contract in 2019.
           Naftogaz has moved to attach assets in other jurisdictions as well, including the shares of Gazprom’s subsidiaries Nord Stream AG and Nord Stream 2 AG in Switzerland. The bailiffs are working on effecting the freeze after the Swiss court has supported the petition of Naftogaz.
           Gazprom’s appeal against the Stockholm arbitration awards does not postpone the Russian company’s obligation to settle immediately and has no effect on the enforcement process, which was confirmed by the swift decisions of courts in various European jurisdictions last week.”
6. Ukraine acting finance minister hopes for deeper cooperation with IMF
Reuters reported on June 8, “Ukraine’s acting finance minister on Friday said she hopes to have deep cooperation with the International Monetary Fund and would prioritize macroeconomic stability, reducing fiscal risks and ensuring efficient budget spending and economic growth.
           Oksana Markarova, who took over after her predecessor was fired on Thursday following a public spat with the prime minister, said the economic situation and Ukraine’s finances were under control.
           In an interview with the TV channel 112, she said she wanted ‘a deepening of cooperation with all our international partners – the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund.'”
           On Thursday, Ukraine’s Parliament voted in support of Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman’s motion to dismiss Finance Minister Oleksandr Danyliuk. The Cabinet appointed Oksana Markarova acting Finance Minister.
           Ukraine Business Journal reported that Markarova “has been Deputy Finance Minister since March 2015 and Government commissioner on investments. Markarova has a solid academic record both in Ukraine and the USA, of work in NGOS, government and the investment sector.  She is a member of the Kyiv Mohyla Academy Advisory Board, the Ukrainian Catholic University circle of friends, and international Young Presidents Organization.”
 
7. Canada’s Minister of Defence: Canada will continue to support Ukraine and increase assistance
 
Ministers Sajjan and Poltorak
 

 

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence reported on June 8, “At  NATO HQ, Minister of Defence of Ukraine General of the Army of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak held bilateral talks with Minister of National Defence of Canada Harjit Singh Sajjan. The parties focused on discussion of a decision related joint development of list of weapons, military equipment and armament required for the defence sector of Ukraine and development of capabilities of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
            ‘Canada will continue to support Ukraine and  increase assistance,’ Harjit Singh Sajjan stressed, ‘I see progress in reforms of Defence Ministry of Ukraine, I am pleased with the result of trainings of Ukrainian service members conducted by Canadian instructors. I am sure we have to continue and develop cooperation, move forward and improve capabilities of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,’ the Canadian Minister said. General Poltorak thanked for assistance and valued all joint projects of the two countries.”

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