Ukraine: Daily Briefing – June 22, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
June 22, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
UAF paratrooper training exercises. 
Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and one Ukrainian soldier was wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front 31 times in total, including at least 5 times with heavy weapons – mortars and artillery.
2. On 40th day of Sentsov hunger strike, doctors say crisis imminent
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “40 days after beginning an indefinite hunger strike, Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov is experiencing heart and kidney problems.  His lawyer Dmitry Dinze has just visited him in the Arctic Circle prison where Russia is illegally holding him, and says that the doctors are warning that a crisis is imminent. […]
           It was the prison doctors who warned Dinze that a crisis is imminent.  There was a partial crisis on 16 June when Sentsov was taken to the public hospital.  There a doctor in emergency care suggested placing him in emergency care and beginning force-feeding.  Sentsov, however, wrote a statement, rejecting both hospitalization and force-feeding, and he was returned to the prison.
           Oleg also rejected the call from the European Court of Human Rights for him to end his hunger strike.  He sent greetings to the Court in Strasbourg, while noting that his application was given priority status, and yet there has been no progress on it for years (since July 2014).”
The full report from KHPG is available here
3. US lawmakers urge Administration to consider sanctions against Russian billionaire
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported, “Two U.S. lawmakers have urged U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration to consider hitting Russian billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov with sanctions and examine whether he has engaged in corruption.
           Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Republican-Florida), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Mark Walker (Republican-North Carolina) made the request in a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that was made public on June 21. The letter, dated May 16, calls on Mnuchin and Pompeo to ‘take immediate action to determine’ whether Yevtushenkov should face punitive measures.
          ‘We urge the Department of the Treasury and the Department of State…to promptly investigate Vladimir Yevtushenkov, AFK Sistema holding company, and Mobile TeleSystems, and if merited, to sanction them as authorized’ under U.S. laws and regulations, the letter said.
           The letter cites Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statement  in October 2016 that Yevtushenkov’s holding company, AFK Sistema, would build medical facilities in Crimea, the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula seized by Russia in 2014.
AFK Sistema controls Russia’s largest mobile-phone operator, MTS, which is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The lawmakers’ letter also cites a U.S. corruption probe involving MTS activities in Uzbekistan.
          Yevtushenkov is among the dozens of Russian tycoons that the Treasury Department says gained wealth or power through association with Putin — some of whom were hit with sanctions in April.”
4. National Bank of Ukraine expects accelerated economic growth in Q2 2018
Ukraine Business Journal reported that the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) expects accelerated economic growth in 2018. “The NBU expects a moderate acceleration in the growth of the Ukrainian economy and stable growth in investment activity in the second quarter of 2018. Further increase in consumer demand will be facilitated by increased income of the population (including through military pensions, wages and remittances).  NBU’s press service says. In Q1 2018, the economy accelerated growth to 3.1% on an annual basis. Compared to the previous quarter, GDP growth was 0.9% seasonally adjusted. Actual growth rates of real GDP in Q1 2018 were higher than the NBU’s expectation of 2.3% in the Inflation Report for April 2018,” Ukraine Business Journal stated.

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