Month: February 26, 2021 9:25 am

KYIV – Perhaps Odesa’s most visible pro-Ukrainian, anti-graft activist from the Euro-Maidan era was sentenced to seven years and three months in prison on February 23 by a court in the Black Sea port city.

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KYIV – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s loyal and chief point man in Ukraine, lawmaker Viktor Medvedchuk, and his spouse – Oksana Marchenko – were hit with three-year sanctions on February 19 by Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council (NSDC).

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KYIV – Yevhen Horenko, an intensive care doctor who works in a COVID-19 ward in the Cherkasy Regional Hospital, became the first person in Ukraine to receive a vaccine against the coronavirus on February 24. The previous day, Ukraine received 500,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from India, a day after it was officially registered for use in the country on February 22.

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The latest session of the Minsk Contact Group (see EDM, February 18) lifted a curtain’s corner on several disputed issues that had not been publicly aired thus far. The Ukrainian delegation had raised these issues in a position paper within the Minsk Group in November 2020 (see below) but refrained from unveiling them outside this forum until now.

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WASHINGTON – On February 24, the co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Ukraine Caucus – Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Andy Harris (R-Md.) – released the following statement after the U.S. Department of State released its report on Nord Stream 2 as mandated by the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act (PEESA). The following statement released by the Ukraine Caucus reaffirms the Congressional intent that mandatory sanctions must be placed on the pipeline and all those engaged in sanctionable activity. Congress continues to stand with Ukraine as that nation continues to protect Europe’s eastern flank from Russian aggression and malign influence.

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Late last year, on December 16, the Ukrainian parliament took up a new draft bill (No. 4504) on territorial defense (Rada.gov.ua, December 16, 2020). The proposed legislation, written by a group of lawmakers headed by Andrii Sharaskin, is based on recommendations from domestic experts as well as foreign advisors on how to reform Ukraine’s outdated system of territorial defense (TD).

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The National Anticorruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) has arrested the former deputy chairman of a Ukrainian bank at the heart of an FBI criminal investigation as he attempted to fly abroad in the latest sign Kyiv is taking steps to tackle corruption and lawlessness.

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The battles at the heart of Ukraine’s political and interconnected economic systems are intensifying. The stakes are being raised and clearly the knives are out.

In this situation where, as is usual in the Ukrainian context, so much happens behind the scenes and transparency is not a given, it is important to try and make sense of what is seen and what can be gauged.

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It has been seven years since the worst day of bloodshed on Maidan (known as Independence Square) left 49 activists dead and over 150 injured. Of the only five men who face trial over the killings on February 20, 2014, three are now in hiding, with the trial of the remaining two men only just beginning again. On February 17, Ukraine’s parliament finally voted in its first reading on a bill which could make it possible to try the three fugitives in absentia.

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The judge’s ruling stunned the courtroom. For the first time since independence, a Ukrainian court – in clear violation of the Constitution – ordered that a book be banned and the plaintiff’s name removed from its contents. The judge, Maryna Zastavnenko, suspected of having ties to and property in the Russian-occupied “DNR” [Donetsk “people’s republic”], decided that the book “violates” the plaintiff’s “right to honor and dignity.”

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As Mark Twain once remarked, “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it sure rhymes.” In 1716, the King of Prussia – then Frederick William I – presented the ornate Baroque masterpiece, the Amber Room, to Tsar Peter the Great as a gesture of friendship between Prussia and Russia, honoring a Prussian-Russian alliance against Sweden. The lavish gift, a study in Baroque excesses, was shipped to Russia in 18 large boxes and installed in the Winter House in St. Petersburg.

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