Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
February 2 – 8, 2019
|UAF training. Photo – CAF|
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported that during the week of February 1-7, one Ukrainian service member was killed in action and four service members were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 61 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front which marks the 25% increase compared to the previous week. Ukraine’s Joint Forces Operation headquarters reported that returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed 5 and wounded 1 enemy troops in the last week.
2. Head of Ukraine’s New Orthodox Church Enthroned
|Metropolitan of Kyiv and all Ukraine Yepifaniy. Photo – V. Ogirenko/Reuters|
“The leader of the new independent Ukrainian orthodox church was enthroned in a ceremony in Kiev on Sunday, formalizing a break from the Russian orthodox church that has enraged Moscow.
During the three-hour event in the gold-decked 11th-century Saint Sophia cathedral, Metropolitan Yepifaniy became head of the church, having been elected by bishops last year. President Poroshenko who attended the Sunday ceremony described it as the “completion of the process to create the church” emphasizing that the new church would be independent of the state.
The Russian-controlled branch of the orthodox church in Ukraine has denounced the establishment of a unified church, breaking ties with the Istanbul-based ecumenical patriarchate of Constantinople over the issue.”
3. Ukraine’s Acting Health Minister Suprun Suspended
|U. Suprun Photo – Youtube|
Kyiv district administrative court suspended acting Health Minister Ulana Suprun from performing her daily duties. This was the result of Ihor Mosiychuk, Radical Party MP, filing a lawsuit against Suprun claiming that she was incompetent and unable to fulfil her duties, reported hromadske. The court hearing has been scheduled for February 15.
In the meantime, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has issued a statement expressing concern about unprecedented pressure upon the Ministry of Healthcare headed by acting Minister Ulana Suprun whose objective is to continue the reform of the healthcare sector.
“Since assuming office, this team has declared war on corrupt schemes that have been existing in this area for years, and this step, in our opinion, is the main reason why this campaign is waged against Ulana Suprun and her team,” reads the official statement. It goes further emphasizing that the “decision of the Kyiv District Administrative Court to suspend Ulana Suprun as the Minister of Healthcare […] will be appealed in accordance with the legislation, and we will strive for its cancellation in accordance with the procedure established by law.”
Ulana Suprun, who was appointed the acting head of Ukraine’s Health Ministry in August 2016, is the driving force behind the country’s healthcare system reform.
4. Ministry of Justice of Ukraine to Appeal MOH Suprun’s Suspension
|Ulana Suprun. Photo – UNIAN|
The Minister of Justice of Ukraine Pavel Petrenko announced an appeal of the decision of the District Administrative Court of Kyiv which has banned Ulana Suprun from heading the Ministry of Health. “Absurd, irresponsible decisions of the Ukrainian courts will not prohibit Ulana perform her duties as Acting Minister of Health. The decision of the District Administrative Court of Kyiv will be urgently appealed,” said Minister Petrenko.
Earlier, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko restated that he granted Ulana Suprun Ukrainian citizenship before she became Acting Minister of Health. He stated that although as President he was not entitled to comment on a court decision by law, Mrs. Suprun has his full support as the President of Ukraine, commending her achievements in the medical reform.
5. Ukraine Opens Treason Probe Against Pro-Russian Politician
|Viktor Medvedchuk. Photo RFE/RL|
“Authorities in Ukraine say they are investigating allegations that Viktor Medvedchuk, a shadowy Ukrainian political operative with close personal ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, has committed high treason and sought to undermine the country’s territorial integrity,” reports Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).
Larysa Sarhan with the Prosecutor-General’s Office announced that Ukraine’s Security Service would follow up on a complaint filed by lawmaker Andriy Teteruk.
Mr. Medvedchuk heads the Opposition Platform — For Life party and Ukrainian Choice, two political organizations that many in Ukraine consider to be pro-Kremlin. Mr. Teteruk has claimed that Medvedchuk told his party congress on January 29 that territories controlled by Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine must be granted autonomous status within the country. […]
Granting autonomy to the eastern region known as Donbas would “legalize temporarily occupied territories,” which would contradict the Ukrainian constitution and help “a foreign country to conduct sabotage operations against Ukraine,” Sarhan added.”
6. Ukraine Secures in the Constitution its Course Toward the EU and NATO
|Photo – Kyivpost|
On February 7, the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s parliament) completed second reading of a bill on the consolidation in the Constitution of the strategic course of Ukraine for membership in the European Union and NATO. This historic decision was supported by 334 people’s deputies which is 34 more than required.
“I am confident that the tasks of membership in the European Union and NATO are absolutely real. Just as we have demonstrated the achievement of other goals that few people have believed in, our joint efforts will ensure Ukraine’s membership in NATO, membership in the EU. We are going our way and this is the way to Ukraine’s membership in the EU and NATO,” said President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko. He emphasized the role of the Verkhovna Rada in the process of European and Euro-Atlantic integration commending the unity of the people’s deputies and their readiness to vote for the fundamental issues despite differences of opinion and political confrontation.
“Today, on the 27th anniversary of the Maastricht Treaty, the consolidation of the course to the #EU and #NATO membership in the Constitution of #Ukraine is symbolic. It is reflection of the conscious choice of #Ukrainian society & an opportunity to build our successful future,” tweeted Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Vice-Prime-Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine. She also expressed expectations that Ukraine’s partners would occupy the “same firm and unambiguous position.” “Only with strong and successful Ukraine, there will be stability and security on the European continent” she added.
Earlier this fall, on November 22, the Verkhovna Rada adopted the first reading of the bill on amendments to the Constitution on the country’s strategic course for membership in the European Union and NATO with 311 votes out of the required 226 votes. The Constitutional Court of Ukraine has recognized the document as conforming to the Constitution.
7. Ukraine’s Parliament Bans Russian Election Observers
|Photo – KyivPost|
The Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s Parliament) has adopted bill 9524 that prohibits Russian observers from participating in elections in Ukraine. The bill stipulated that the official observers in the elections in Ukraine cannot be individuals who are citizens, or subjects of the state, recognized by the Verkhovna Rada as an aggressor state or the invading state. The changes apply both to presidential and parliamentary elections in Ukraine.
8. Four European Countries Support the EC Decision to Continue Sanctions Against Russia
The Council of Europe has issued a press release regarding “the alignment of certain third countries with Council Decision concerning restrictive measures in view of Russia’s actions destabilizing the situation in Ukraine.” The Council prolongs the restrictive measure for a further six months, until 31 July 2019. The countries that supported such decision were the Candidate Countries Montenegro and Albania, the EFTA country Norway, which is a member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine. The European Union took notice of this commitment and welcomed it.
9. EU to Call For Ukraine Support Ahead Of Elections, In Document Seen By RFE/RL
Eighteen European Union member states have called on the bloc to be “ready to act” in support of Ukraine in case Russia tries to undermine the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections later this year, reports Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
“In a discussion paper titled Keeping Ukraine On Its European Path, the 18 countries [namely: Austria, Belgium, Britain, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Sweden] also say that the bloc should “avoid EU fatigue in Ukraine or Ukraine fatigue in the EU.”
The paper calls for measures to counter the “false Russian narrative of Ukraine as a ‘failed state,’ provide additional assistance, including humanitarian assistance, to eastern Ukraine where fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists has killed more than 10,300 people since April 2014.
Commending Ukraine on many reforms [decentralization, public administration reform, deregulation, pension system, and transparency] the paper highlights that they had been “more profound and extensive for the past five years than in the previous 22 years of its post-Soviet life.”
It does emphasize, however, that Ukraine should work harder on the establishment of a “fully independent and effective” anti-corruption court, on protecting “the striving and vibrant civil society and bring those responsible for intimidating and attacking civil society activists and journalists to justice,” while ensuring a pluralist, independent, and accessible media landscape as well as a properly financed and operational public broadcaster.
10. Canada to Host 2nd International Grand Committee on Disinformation and ‘Fake News’ in May
|Photo – Euromaidanpress|
Bob Zimmer, MP and Chair of the Canadian Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, together with Damian Collins, MP and Chair of the UK Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, announced today that the second meeting of the International Grand Committee on Disinformation and ‘Fake News’ will take place in Ottawa, Canada on May 28, 2019.
“With several countries, including Canada, holding elections this year it is vital that we continue collaborating to protect our democracies from the global threats of foreign influence and disinformation on digital platforms,” said Mr. Zimmer.
“The unprecedented nature of these hearings underlines the central importance that the ethics of the use of technology plays both to our democracies and our daily lives,” said Mr. Collins. “My select committee has also embarked on a new inquiry about immersive and addictive technologies and we plan to come to Canada armed with fresh evidence and questions for the tech firms.”
While still focusing on holding digital platforms to account, the committee will also examine “Foreign Influence in Our Democracies and Data as a Human Right: Protecting Our Citizens – Data Security and Privacy.”
The first meeting of the International Grand Committee on Disinformation and ‘Fake News’ was held in London, UK on November 27, 2018.