UCC Weekly Bulletin on Ukraine – August 10-16, 2019

UCC Weekly Bulletin on Ukraine
August 10-16, 2019
Ukrainian Armed Forces training exercises. 
Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
 Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported that during the week of August 9-15, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and three Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. In the last week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front 75 times in total.
2. Ukrainian political prisoner Balukh transferred from Russian prison to Moscow
Ukrinform reported, “Volodymyr Balukh, a Ukrainian political prisoner currently imprisoned in the Russian Federation, was transferred to a pre-trial detention center in Moscow.
          Radio Liberty’s project Crimea.Realities reports with reference to Balukh’s lawyer Olga Dinze. ‘Today we have found that Volodymyr Balukh was transferred to remand prison No. 2 in Moscow. No more details were provided to us. I’ve learnt this in the morning from his sister, who received back her letter. Then we clarified the information and the penal colony administration told us that he indeed had been transferred to a pre-trial detention center,’ Dinze said.
         The reasons for transferring Balukh to Moscow are unknown. Volodymyr Balukh served his sentence in the penal colony No. 4 in the town of Torzhok from August 3 to August 13.
         The Federal Security Service of Russia detained Volodymyr Balukh on December 8, 2016. […] Balukh’s defense team and human rights defenders say that he is a victim of repression for his pro-Ukrainian position – raising Ukraine’s flag in the courtyard of his house.”
3. Ukraine’s President simplifies procedure for acquiring Ukrainian citizenship for certain categories of Russian citizens
The Office of the President of Ukraine reported on August 13, “President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed Decree No. 594 on the issue of simplifying the acquisition of Ukrainian citizenship by certain categories of persons.
        The document exempts persons who are citizens of the Russian Federation persecuted because of political convictions in the country of their citizenship and apply for citizenship of Ukraine from the need to submit an obligation to terminate foreign citizenship.
       The same concerns persons serving in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, having outstanding merits to Ukraine, or whose naturalization is of national interest (who were or are involved in the implementation of national security and defense measures, measures on rebuffing or curbing the armed aggression of the Russian Federation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions).
       According to the document, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine must submit a draft law to the Verkhovna Rada aimed at simplifying the procedure for acquiring Ukrainian citizenship by the above mentioned categories of persons, as well as a draft law on the procedure for granting asylum.
        In addition, the Government is commissioned to check, with the assistance of the Security Service of Ukraine, the compliance with the requirements of legislation on citizenship affairs by the State Migration Service, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, diplomatic missions and consular offices of Ukraine when deciding on the acquisition of Ukrainian citizenship.”
4. Major Archbishop Sviatoslav, head of the UGCC – Capitulation is the imitation of peace
Major Archbishop Sviatoslav. Photo -UGCC

In an interview with Censor.net Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, stated, “President Zelenskyy asked me for my view of the subject of peace in the Donbas. I could see that this question is of concern to the President, and that he believes that the question of the war is his most important challenge. The question of war and peace is of concern to us as well, and we have been speaking about it for these 5 years, appealing first and foremost to the international community. […] We understand that no matter how we try to heal the wounds of war, this will not have a definitive result until the aggressor stops inflicting those wounds. […]
           Peace cannot mean capitulation and consent to the conditions of the aggressor. This would be an imitation of peace, and the effect would be even worse than the effects of war. For peace to be real, it must be just. Otherwise this will simply be a change in the methods of how wounds are inflicted on our people.
          We know from history that appeasing an aggressor fuels his appetite. It is very important to speak about the pain of our people, and even when we are negotiating with the aggressor, to remember the eyes of the mother, who lost her son in the war. We must be the voice of the people who have suffered. […] That is why I tried, in responding to Mr. Zelenskyy’s request, to speak in the name of those for whom this war is causing suffering, and to convey what a real peace must be.”
        The full interview with Major Archbishop Sviatoslav is available here
5. Notorious judge awards ex-Yanukovych aide millions in damages from Ukraine
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “Andriy Portnov, a former adviser to ex-President Viktor Yanukovych and First Deputy Head of his Presidential Administration, has been awarded almost seven million UAH in damages purportedly inflicted upon his reputation by the Ukrainian authorities. The ruling,   which will presumably be appealed,  was passed by Serhiy Vovk, the Pechersky District Court judge who gained notoriety under Yanukovych for the politically motivated prison sentences he passed on two members of Yulia Tymoshenko’s government, Yuri Lutsenko and Valery Ivashchenko.
           Portnov may not have fled Ukraine with Yanukovych on 21 February 2014, after the gunning down of Maidan supporters, but he did leave the country at around the same time.  Unlike Yanukovych, he only remained for a while in Russia, and then moved to Vienna in Austria, having received a Schengen visa even before the EU sanctions against him were annulled in October 2015.  He returned to Ukraine on the eve of Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s inauguration as President, and promptly lodged the first of many demands for criminal proceedings against ex-President Petro Poroshenko, as well as the latest of many civil suits.
        Portnov’s active role during the Yanukovych regime, and his believed involvement in the 16 January 2014 ‘Dictatorship laws’ make his current attempts to accuse Poroshenko of ‘treason’, and to present himself as a victim of defamation seem at very least startling. Unfortunately, however, the few attempts to hold him to account for his actions were half-hearted and fizzled out.  It is presumably the lack of any court ruling, or even clearly articulated charges, against him, and his undisputed legal skills, that he is now using against the Ukrainian authorities.”
       The full report from KHPG is available here: Notorious judge awards ex-Yanukovych aide millions in damages from Ukraine
6. Ukraine economy grows 4.6% in last quarter; highest since 2011
Ukraine Business News reported on August 14, “Registering the strongest quarterly growth in almost a decade, Ukraine’s economy was up by 4.6% y-o-y in the April-June period of this year, reports the State Statistics Service. Although Ukraine’s economy has been growing for the last 14 quarters, the Q2 growth is the highest since the start of 2011. The growth spurt was fed by several factors: record grain exports, a jump in iron ore prices and a surge in consumer confidence and retail spending following the 73% April 21 presidential vote for Volodymyr Zelenskyy. First-quarter growth was 2.5%.
          Ukraine’s foreign trade deficit hit $1.6 billion during the first half of this year, two thirds greater than during the same period last year. Exports of goods and services increased by 6%, to $29.5 billion. Imports increased by 8%, to $31.1 billion.
         Ukraine’s food trade with the EU increased by 23% during the first half of this year, compared to the first half of last year. Although EU quotas on exports of nine food products from Ukraine were filled by mid-July, Ukraine is expected to have another record year for food exports to the EU, predicts Nikolai Pugachev, deputy director of the Institute of Agricultural Economics.”
7. Ukrainian cadet graduates with distinction from top UK military academy
Cadet Baranenko with his parents. Photo – Ukraine’s Embassy to the UK

The Kyiv Post reported on August 10, “Ukrainian cadet Artem Baranenko has been awarded the Overseas Sword of the British Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, an honor given to the foreign graduate considered best of the class by the commandant of the academy.
          Major General Paul Nanson, the commandant at Sandhurst and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, delivered the award to Baranenko on Aug. 9, the British Embassy in Kyiv reported.
         This year the academy, which has been training hopeful military officers since the year 1741, had 243 cadets, 33 of whom were from 23 foreign armies. Graduates this year came from countries including Afghanistan, Albania, Ukraine and the United States.
         Baranenko has been a cadet at the Hetman Petro Sahaidachnyi National Ground Forces Academy, a school for infantry cadets in Lviv. He is the first Ukrainian to receive this distinction from Sandhurst. There have been 15 Ukrainians who studied at Sandhurst since 1997, when the academy started to receive cadets from Ukraine.
          The British Royal Military Academy Sandhurst is the British Army’s initial officer training center. As one of world’s leading military training academies, Sandhurst started to train international cadets since 1947. The cadets are selected by the British Army Officer Selection Board and go through 44 weeks of rigorous training.
         Another Ukrainian, air force officer Mykhailo Leshchenko, received the Sword of Honor of the British Royal Air Force College Cranwell for being the best of class in 2015.
        Sandhurst is famous for its long list of prestigious alumni, which includes most members of the Royal Family who have gone on to serve in the U.K. military.”
8. Associated Press switches to correct English-language spelling of Kyiv; will no longer use “Kiev”
On August 14, the Associated Press stated, “AP has changed its style for the capital of Ukraine to Kyiv, in line with the Ukrainian government’s preferred transliteration to English and increasing usage.”

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