Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin19
January 13-19, 2018
Canada’s Governor General Julie Payette, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko and Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance visit Canadian soldiers deployed to Ukraine in Operation UNIFIER, January 18.
Photo – Canadian Forces
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported that during the week of January 12-18, three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 13 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 37 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front, including at least 21 times with heavy weapons.
2. Canada’s Governor General, Ukraine’s President visit Canadian troops in Ukraine
On January 18, Canada’s Governor General Julie Payette and Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko visited the National Army Academy at Yavoriv, where 200 Canadian Armed Forces personnel are training Ukrainian soldiers in Operation UNIFIER, Ukraine’s Presidential Administration reported.
Governor General Payette thanked the Canadian troops working in Ukraine. She stated, “Canada and Ukraine work side by side. […] I would like to express great respect and gratitude to you for serving your country – this is an enormous gift and an extremely important contribution to the security. You should be proud of your present and future achievements.”
President Poroshenko stated, “I am proud that our sworn brothers – Canadian servicemen stand in the ranks side by side with the Ukrainian warriors […] I cannot imagine a better proof of solidarity with Ukraine. And today you continue to build brotherhood in arms.”
The Governor General’s full statement issued on January 18 in Lviv is available here
3. Crimean activist gets almost 4-year prison sentence for a Ukrainian flag after farcical ‘retrial’
Volodymyr Balukh, photo – KHPG
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “A second ‘judge’ in Russian-occupied Crimea has sentenced 46-year-old Volodymyr Balukh to three years and seven months’ imprisonment on overtly falsified charges after an identical sentence had to be revoked. The second ‘trial’ was just as flawed as the first, leaving no doubt that Balukh is being persecuted for the Ukrainian flag he continued to fly over his home after Russia’s invasion and for his unwavering opposition to Russian occupation.
The supposed retrial had taken place in the same Razdolne District Court, but under ‘judge’ Yelena Tedeyeva. She proved just as willing as her colleague Maria Bedritskaya to ignore the evidence that the charges of possessing ammunition and an explosive substance were rigged. In fact, the trial was marginally more farcical than the first, with Tedeyeva showing no interest in even ensuring that the supposed ‘witnesses’ even appeared in court. As with Bedritskaya, it was clear that orders had been issued which the ‘judges’ found no problem with obeying. […]
Balukh was arrested on Dec 8, 2016 after an unexplained search which allegedly found 90 bullets and several trotyl explosive devices in his attic. He had no record of violence and the constant searches and harassment he had faced since Russia’s invasion of Crimea for his openly pro-Ukrainian position made it inconceivable that he could have held anything illegal in his home. This was one of the reasons why the Memorial Human Rights Centre almost immediately declared him a political prisoner. […]
In his final address to the court on Jan 15, Volodymyr Balukh refused to speak about the case itself as ‘it is absolutely clear that this is political persecution for my beliefs. Nothing more.'” The full report from KHPG is available at Crimean activist gets almost 4-year prison sentence for a Ukrainian flag after farcical ‘retrial’
4. Ukraine’s Parliament passes Donbas reintegration bill
On January 18, Ukraine’s Parliament passed a bill governing state policy towards areas in eastern Ukraine currently under Russian occupation. Among its provisions, the bill recognizes Russia as an aggressor state and the parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts as temporarily-occupied territories. 280 MPs voted for the bill.
According to several reports, the bill puts legal responsibility on Russia for human rights and property violations, strengthening Ukraine’s legal cases against Russia in international courts and The Hague. Similar legislation was adopted by Ukraine’s Parliament in 2014 regarding Russian-occupied Crimea.
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko welcomed the adoption of the legislation, stating that the bill is a “signal for Donbas and Crimea – you are an integral part of Ukraine!”
5. Ukraine’s Parliament adopts privatization law
Reuters reported on January 18, “Ukrainian lawmakers passed a law on Thursdayaimed at making the privatisation of more than 3,000 mostly loss-making state companies faster and more transparent, a step needed for Kyiv to secure more aid from the International Monetary Fund. […]
It comes as Ukraine is seeking to reassure investors and foreign backers of its commitment to tackle corruption and modernise the economy. Billions of dollars worth of new IMF loans are held back due to Ukraine’s perceived backsliding.
‘The largest sector of corruption today is state-owned enterprises, which have been used for decades to create corrupt schemes,’ Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman told parliament before the vote. ‘This law gives us the opportunity to create tens of thousands of jobs in the near future in Ukraine, create conditions for serious economic growth,’ he added.
The government estimates it will generate 21.5 billion hryvnia ($746.79 million) this year from selling state firms once the law is passed.
The law aims to make the privatisation process more transparent and faster for investors. It makes it obligatory, for example, to invite international advisers through a tender process to help prepare sales of larger firms.
The law will allow the state to sell assets at cheaper prices than the starting price of the auction.
If the first sale fails, the price can be cut by 25 percent, then by 50 percent if a second attempt fails, and finally, if the sale falls through a third time, the State Property Fund can hold consultations with potential investors about the price.”
6. Ukrainian IT exports increase by 20% in 2017 to reach USD 3.6 billion
Business Ukraine Magazine reported, “A yearly IT sector overview released in January 2018 by the IT Ukraine Association highlights the robust performance of the country’s IT industry. Ukraine’s IT exports grew by 20% year-on-year in 2017 to reach a new record of USD 3.6 billion.
This figure is projected to increase to USD 4.5 billion in 2018, with the forecast for 2025 currently standing at USD 8.4 billion, or around 4.65% of anticipated GDP.
This strong upward trend is also serving to bolster Ukraine’s state coffers, with UAH 16.7 billion (approximately USD 580 million) paid by IT companies to the Ukrainian budget in 2017. Ukraine’s IT industry placed third among the country’s export revenue generators in 2016 behind metallurgy and the food industry. […]
There is no single regional focus within the sector and no indication that a geographically distinct Ukrainian Silicon Valley is likely to take shape. On the contrary, Ukraine has 16 IT clusters located in major cities and oblast centers throughout the country. Unsurprisingly, the current leader in terms of the number of specialists it boasts is the capital city Kyiv. Dnipro occupies the number two position, followed by Lviv and Kharkiv, with Odesa in fifth place.”
7. “Large scale and coordinated fraud” identified at PrivatBank before nationalization
The National Bank of Ukraine reported on January 16, “The results of an independent investigation by the company Kroll have been presented to the National Bank of Ukraine. The investigation has identified that PrivatBank was subjected to a large scale and coordinated fraud over at least a ten-year period ending December 2016, which resulted in the Bank suffering a loss of at least USD 5.5 billion. […]
The results of the Kroll investigation confirm previous conclusions of the National Bank. The National Bank confirms its readiness to share the results of investigations with law enforcement authorities.”
The full report from the National Bank is available here: Fraud identified in PJSC CB “PRIVATBANK” for the period before nationalization