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  • EUROZINE MAGAZINE Robert Menasse 23.12.2015
    The one-dimensional European

    The Treaty of Rome was the Copernican revolution in the history of European democracy, the moment at which nationalism and the nation were consigned to history. Since the Lisbon Treaty, however, national self-interest has returned to Europe, so that today the question is: who will determine Europe's future – the universal or the one-dimensional European?
    1. In the first half of the seventeenth century, convincing the Vatican of the correctness of the Copernican world-view was, famously, impossible. The Pope, the Inquisition, the ecclesiastical dignitaries, the clergy preaching from the pulpits, and all their political allies, the Catholic counts, the kings and emperors – all held firm to the Ptolemaic world-view. And so did everyone else – out of habit, confirmed by experience: after all, they could see that the sun revolved around the earth, that it rose in the morning, that it moved across the earth and went down in the evening. It had always been thus, and it was reassuring to know that it would always be thus: God had put humans at the centre of the universe, where everything revolved around them, under the eyes of the Almighty. The certainty that life had a meaning, that a protective hand was resting over them despite their misery in this vale of tears, was, for good or for ill, bound up with the Ptolemaic world-view.

    Today you don't have to have read a tenth of the number of books that, for example, Pope Urban VIII, a patron of the sciences, studied, to know better – and it was Pope Urban who had Galileo arrested and then forced him to retract.

    The interesting and strange thing about this is that such stubborn resistance against reason and knowledge was only possible because the world actually functioned on the basis of a false world-view. People sought a living, worked or robbed, guzzled and boozed, loved and hated, strove for recognition, obeyed laws, feared death or sought it, reproduced, died naturally or from violent causes, suddenly or after long suffering, in peace or embittered. Basically, there was nothing else under the Ptolemaic sun, and nothing new under the Copernican. World-views can be crazy, but people make do. Whatever it is that revolves, it keeps revolving. And then suddenly it doesn't – suddenly a world-view that long seemed to function, and that in this particular historical phase corresponded to the needs and possibilities of human beings and their experiences, turns out not to function after all, and to prevent history moving forward. What was initially the crazy idea of a few people then becomes a commonplace even for the most limited of minds. The punch-line of the story – call it cynical, ironic or contingent – is that, according to demographic calculations, it was only in 1957 that, numerically speaking, roughly as many people lived on this planet who knew of and recognized the Copernican world-view as had believed in the geocentric one throughout the previous history of mankind.

    1957. Without wishing to read too much into the coincidence, isn't that odd? 1957 was the year of the Treaty of Rome, the treaty on the common organs of the European communities. It was the year the development towards the European Union officially and deliberately began, a Copernican revolution in the political and social world-view.

    You will, of course, complain that a new political world-view can't be compared with a new scientific discovery. In a pragmatic sense, that is of course correct, as correct as the complaint of Pope Urban VIII: you can't refute a religion with a telescope!

    2. I have looked through the telescope and I have seen: nation-states will die. We now arrive at our topic: the European Union must inevitably lead to the extinction of nation-states. And rightly so. I won't be able to convince the current political elites of this, nor the columnists of the national press and all the other high priests of national identity and the defence of national interests. Nor will I be able to convince them of the basic reasonableness of a post-national world-view. I may not be able to convince you either. Still, let me tell you: the sooner you understand and accept this fact, and arrange your life accordingly, the better for you and your children. That's not an opinion. An opinion, as Hegel rightly said, is mine and is something I can just as well keep to myself. No, it is a fact. To be on the safe side, let me say in advance that I don't believe that history has a goal, nor do I believe that it has a meaning. Historical processes, on the other hand, do exist; human life on this planet can only be conceived as the production of history, just as individual life is the production of biography, and only biography can fully determine who an individual is. To think historically and perspectivally is to establish meaning in the meaningless, to give form to the processes of life, rather than just to undergo them. In the world-view of the overwhelming majority of people today, the belief in the idea of the "nation", the belief in its rational basis, the belief in the almost ontological and hence inextinguishable longing of human beings for "national identity", has taken on an almost religious character. The tendencies and movements towards renationalization that we are currently seeing belong to the conflicts of faith and wars of religion that are erupting globally. Despite the historical experience of National Socialism and its bloody trail of death and destruction, the fact that countless people literally believed in it has not yet permanently shaken the faith in the idea of "nation".

    When the national unification of Germany was just an innocent yearning, no one could eat a slice of bread and butter without proudly saying: "German bread! German butter!" You can read this in Wilhelm Raabe. Raabe was a master of sympathetic irony, which later was misunderstood as comfortable German humour and today is no longer even misunderstood. Today it sounds ridiculous, but whether ironic or absurd, the fun definitely ended when the dynamic inherent in nationalism developed fully, resulting in bloody wars of national unification and murderous wars of conquest, and in racism all the way up to the Holocaust.

    In the heyday of German national self-confidence, butter was already scarce and was replaced by margarine. It is interesting what Adolf Hitler (in the "table talks") said about it: "One casually calls our margarine 'butter substitute'. And substitute of course implies something inferior. But what hasn't been called a substitute over the course of history that has then become essential? And so, in its fight for survival, the German nation will eventually accept the substitute as that which is appropriate and necessary to it!"

    A short while later, the vegetarian Hitler called on the German people to give up margarine. Every gram of fat was needed for gun grease. Butter – margarine – gun grease. Excuse me for this ridiculous digression, but it is a topical digression, since I can hardly give you here the whole story of nationalism's misery and splendour. I just want to ask you this: what are your needs and desires in life? Whatever occurs to you, take the butter as a symbol for it! Is that what you want? Nothing more than a substitute, than gun grease? As that which is appropriate to you?

    3. I haven't yet argued why nationalism and with it the nation will necessarily and reasonably die, but I already know what many people's objection will be: must nationalism really be defined through its deformations? Can't there be national pride, national identity, national feelings as a sense of belonging, without deformations, an open minded, welcoming and cheerful nationalism, so to speak? In other words patriotism – and what is wrong with patriotism? Why would one want to overcome the organization of mankind into nations at all?

    Continue reading essay:Eurozine - The one-dimensional European - Robert Menasse

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    • Solidarity & asylum needed as Russians face persecution for opposing aggression against Ukraine
      08.01.16 | Halya Coynash HUMAN RIGHTS IN UKRAINE

      It has long been dangerous in Russia to express support for Ukraine and, especially, opposition to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine. It is increasingly likely to get a person arrested and, in some cases, such as Rafis Kashapov and Ildar Dadin – imprisoned.

      Euromaidan SOS has just issued a statement of protest over Dadin’s sentence in which the civic activists point to clear evidence that the shockingly severe punishment for entirely peaceful protest was in part because of Ildar’s active support for Euromaidan.

      As reported here, Ildar Dadin was sentenced on Dec 7, 2015 to 3 years imprisonment under the new article 212.1 of the Russian Criminal Code which allows for up to 5 years imprisonment if a person has received three or more administrative penalties over a 6 months period. Since Vladimir Putin came to power, it has become standard for police to detain peaceful demonstrators whom they then accuse of ‘resisting the police’ or ‘infringing the rules for holding a demonstration’. This was what happened to Dadin who was accused of taking part in protests on Aug 6, Aug 23, Sept 13 and Dec 5 2014. The criminal charges and sentence for exercising his constitutional right to freedom of expression and assembly have been condemned within Russia and abroad.

      Euromaidan SOS adds its condemnation and suggests that a decisive factor in the prosecution and sentence may have been Dadin’s “pro-Ukrainian uncompromisingly liberal position”. This can be seen from the case material, with both the investigators and the court having actively pushed information about Dadin’s position on the so-called ‘Ukrainian question’, as well as his visits to Ukraine.

      The material, for example, claimed that he had visited Kyiv three times “in order to gain skills in opposing the police”. Friends and acquaintances were summoned for questioning by the investigators who asked about Dadin’s trips to Ukraine.

      The investigators also tried to claim that Dadin had established contact with members of the ultra-nationalist Right Sector which Russia has systematically demonized since Euromaidan. The only ‘evidence’ for such claims was a ‘business card’ supposedly from Dmytro Yarosh, the head at the time of Right Sector. The said card was doubtless one of the huge number of humorous responses to Russia’s Foreign Ministry claims in April 2014 that Right Sector had been involved in a shootout near Kremlin-backed militant-controlled Sloviansk. The ministry claims that the remarkably intact business card had been found in a totally gutted out car led to hilarity and a flood of Yarosh card memes on the Internet. The prosecution in Dadin’s case treated the card seriously, and claimed that Dadin had it for Yarosh’s contact details.

      The material also states that Dadin was detained on April 20, 2014 with symbols of “the Ukrainian junta” with these including, in the investigators’ view a T-shird with an image of Taras Bulba, the Cossack leader in Nikolai Gogol’s famous book.

      Even the sentence mentions Dadin’s visits to Ukraine.

      Ildar Dadin did indeed take part in Euromaidan as one of the self-defence activists. He was not engaged in any violence and mainly gave medical assistance to the wounded. Having returned to Russia, he was active in peaceful protests against Russia’s invasion of Crimea, military aggression in eastern Ukraine, and the ongoing imprisonment of Nadiya Savchenko and other Ukrainians held illegally by Russia.

      This is one of the many cogent reasons why Ukrainians should show particular solidarity to Ildar Dadin. It is also one of the disturbing indicators of how Russia’s justice system has become so degraded, that trips to Ukraine are treated as incriminating evidence.

      Another such case, reported here, was that of Rafis Kashapov. The 56-year-old was sentenced in June 2015, with the prosecution claiming and the court accepting that social network posts criticizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine constituted ‘public calls to violate Russian territorial integrity’ and ‘hate speech’ He has been in detention since Dec 2014, and Russia’s Supreme Court recently confirmed the three-year sentence. Please circulate the material which clearly demonstrates what kind of criticism of Putin, the Kremlin and its invasion of Crimea and eastern Ukraine can result in serious prison sentences in today’s Russia.

      On Dec 25, 18-year-old Vlad Kolesnikov took his life after his brave demonstration of pro-Ukrainian views resulted in him being rejected by his family and mercilessly tormented by his peers. Russian poet Alexander Byvshev lost his job, faced criminal charges and was added to Russia’s list of so-called ‘extremists and terrorists’ for poems in which he condemned Russia’s invasion of Crimea. It is likely that the five year sentence passed on Russian blogger Vadim Tyumentsev was so harsh because of a video clearly demonstrating opposition to Russia’s military engagement in Donbas. Yekaterina Vologzheninova, a solo mother from Yekaterinburg is on trial accused of ‘inciting inter-ethnic enmity’, otherwise known as reposting material and ‘liking’ social network posts critical of Russia’s policy with respect to Ukraine

      The list can be continued.

      Euromaidan SOS calls on the Ukrainian public to express solidarity with citizens of Russia defending those same values that Ukrainians upheld on Maidan and expressing a pro-Ukrainian position despite the danger this exposes them to. The international community, the activists stress, must also use any means available to put pressure on Russia’s leaders to stop such persecution.

      It also calls on Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry to publicly react in cases where Russians face persecution for expressing a pro-Ukrainian position.

      One other call should surely be added. An increasing number of Russian citizens have been forced to flee to Ukraine. 76-year-old Vladimir Ionov, for example, was about to face sentence on the same monstrous anti-protest charges. He is now in Kharkiv. Pyotr Lyubchenkov, one of the civic activists who tried to hold a peaceful march in support of greater federalization for Kuban last September has been in Ukraine for the last year. Despite the fact that another of the activists Darya Polyudova was recently sentenced to 2 years imprisonment after her initial arrest over the planned march and inclusion on Russia’s Federal List of Terrorists and Extremists, there are ominous suggestions that Ukraine could send Lyubchenkov back to Russia.

      There can be no excuse for Ukraine’s authorities abetting Russia in persecuting its nationals. This is true in any situation, but especially clear when we are talking of people facing persecution for opposing Russian aggression against Ukraine. http://khpg.or/en/index.php?id=1452216001

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      • Ukraine intel says Yenakiieve militant commissariat recruiting fighters for Syria
        08.01.2016 | 17:20 UNIAN

        The Ukrainian Defense Ministry's GUR Main Intelligence Department has reported that the militant commissariat in the occupied town of Yenakiieve in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, is recruiting fighters for participation in the war in Syria.

        The Ukrainian intelligence service has got proof that "mercenaries for participation in the war in Syria are being recruited by the local military commissariat of the militant-controlled town of Yenakiieve."

        According to information available, the logistics support of a grouping of the Russian armed forces in Syria included a flight by an IL-76 aircraft en route from Mozdok in the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania (Russia) to Hemeimeem (Hmeymin) airbase at Latakia, the principal port city of Syria. It also included navigation of the Vologda-50 supply vessel of the Russian Black Sea Fleet heading for the Black Sea across the Bosphorus Strait.
        Ukraine intel says Yenakiieve militant commissariat recruiting fighters for Syria : UNIAN news

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        • Crimea blockade activists want to form battalion to liberate peninsula
          KYIV POST Isobel Koshiw Jan. 08, 2016 20:21

          Activists who blockaded Crimea plan to stay and form a battalion which will eventually be used to liberate the peninsula that has been under Russian occupation since March 2014.

          Lenur Islyamov, a Crimean Tatar and one of the organizers of the blockade, told KotTV on Jan. 6 that the new battalion will control the administrative border between Ukraine’s Kherson oblast and occupied Crimea together with the Ukrainian border security forces.

          A land transport blockade organized by a mixed group of Crimean Tatars and Ukrainian nationalists started on Sept. 20, 2015. Following pressure from activists, the Ukrainian Cabinet announced an official trade blockade with the peninsula on Dec. 16. Activists have since removed the roadblocks. According to Ilyamov, this means that those involved now have time to create a battalion, from there “they will be prepared to enter Crimea.”

          The activists believe that preventing food and other supplies from entering the peninsula will force Russia to fulfil their demands, including the release of Ukrainian political prisoners and ensuring human rights in Crimea.

          A power outage has also been affecting Crimea since Nov. 21 when unknown activists blew up power pylons in Ukraine’s Kherson Oblast, close to the Crimean border. Power was briefly restored to fulfil requirements through a combination of Russian and Ukrainian supply lines. But a further pylon on Ukrainian territory was sabotaged on Dec. 30 and residents are still suffering from major blackouts.

          Islyamov said in his interview with KotTV that Crimea will lead to Russia’s downfall:

          “Crimea is a toxic asset that (Russia) swallowed that will break the country up into components," the activist said.

          When the Crimea is returned to Ukraine, said Ilyamov, it will be Crimean Tatar “like it was before” and not “pseudo-Russian, pseudo-Ukrainian, pseudo-Tatar.”

          Human rights activists monitoring the situation expressed alarm at the blockade.

          “If prior to these actions it was possible to definitely say that Russia was the only player permanently violating human rights in Crimea, and that for the restoration of these rights it would be necessary to have the peninsula de-occupied, now that is not the case,” Vissarion Aseyev of the Yalta-based Almenda human rights group told the Kyiv Post in an interview on Dec. 10.
          The situation is also turning previously passive Crimean residents against Ukraine, a Kyiv Post journalist found during a recent trip to Crimea.

          Proof of Crimean dissatisfaction with Kyiv policy, according to the Kremlin, was demonstrated by a recent poll which asked residents: “Do you or do you not support signing a commercial contract with Ukraine for delivery of electricity to Crimea and Sevastopol, if it says that Crimea and Sevastopol are part of Ukraine?”

          VTsIOM, the state-owned polling organisation, surveyed 1,000 residents, of which 94 percent opposed the signing of the contract. Crimea blockade activists want to form battalion to liberate peninsula
          Polls were conducted New Yr's Eve between 7PM-10PM and New Yr's Day for several hrs. It was ascertained that all participants were sober and awake.

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          • Finland decides to extradite Russian hacker to the US
            MEDUZA 09:27, 8 January 2016 TASS

            Finland's Justice Ministry has decided to extradite to the United States Maxim Senakh, a Russian citizen accused of illegal hacking.

            According to Senakh's lawyer, Igor Khitrukhin, Finnish authorities decided on January 5 to send Senakh to the US, though he wasn't informed until January 8. Khitrukhin says the move is politically motivated and promises to appeal in the European Human Rights Court.

            “We believe that this is a political decision based on an extradition treaty between Finland and the United States. It leaves no grounds for appeal. But right now I'm headed to meet with my client, and, if he so decides, we will try to appeal the decision in the European Human Rights Court,” the lawyer said.
            → TASS

            Maxim Senakh was detained in Finland in August 2015. State officials in Minnesota suspect him of infecting computer servers with malware, resulting in criminal gains worth millions of dollars.

            When Senakh was arrested, Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry's special representative for human rights, said said the detention was "another demonstration of the illegal practice of detaining Russian citizens abroad launched by US authorities." Russian officials have also called Senakh's apprehension an American "witch hunt."

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            • Moscow man sues McDonald’s for using Soviet poet’s work in TV ads
              08:50, 8 January 2016 RIA Novosti

              A Moscow man is suing the American fast food chain McDonald's for using in an advertisement part of a poem by Adelina Adalis, claiming that he owns the rights to her work and McDonald's never obtained his permission.

              The man, whose name hasn't been reported, wants 35 million rubles ($472,000) in damages. He is also suing the television stations that aired McDonald's commercial.

              The civil suit is scheduled to begin on Monday, January 18. It is still unclear which McDonald's ad is at the center of this lawsuit.

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              • Twitter’s new policy misused by pro-Kremlin accounts to attack top Ukrainian bloggers #SaveUaTwi
                EUROMAIDAN PRESS 2016/01/09

                Changes to twitter’s policy have resulted in the suspension of accounts of top-Ukrainian bloggers in what observers call a concerted campaign to block critics of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.

                In a bid to stop online harassment to “protect freedom of expression,” twitter adopted new policies, one of the changes to which includes prohibition of “hateful conduct,” in the last days of 2015. However, their outcome for the Ukrainian sector has been the ban of top bloggers, some with hundreds of thousands of followers.

                A list of the suspended accounts. Source: @Andr3ewLVUA

                Ukrainian twitter users have launched a campaign called #SaveUAtwi. It has been supported by the Ukrainian ambassador in Finland Andrii Olefirov:

                continue read: Twitter's new policy misused by pro-Kremlin accounts to attack top Ukrainian bloggers #SaveUaTwi -Euromaidan Press |

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                • 11:20 09.01.2016 INTERFAX-UKRAINE
                  Twenty-nine ceasefire breaches by militants registered in past 24 hours

                  The militants opened fire on Ukrainian military positions in Donbas 29 times in the past 24 hours, the press center for the military operation said on Facebook.

                  The militants "used firearms, grenade launchers and large-caliber guns to open fire in the direction of our positions not far from Donetsk and on the outskirts of Horlivka from time to time," the headquarters said.

                  Specifically, the enemy used weapons in the area of Maryinka, Pisky, Opytne, Novhorodske and Luhanske last night.

                  The militants did not use weapons on the Mariupol and Luhansk tracks.

                  "There were ceasefire breaches after midnight," the report says.

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                  • 16:06 09.01.2016 INTERFAX-UKRAINE
                    Italian edition designates Crimea as part of Russia; Ukrainian ambassador requires to retrieve this

                    Ukrainian Ambassador to Italy Yevhen Perelyhin has addressed to Limes Italian edition demanding to correct a mistake on the map published by the edition that designates Crimea as a part of Russia.

                    "Taking into account a tactless designation of Crimea on the map of Russian Federation in the fresh issue of Italy's Limes analytical edition ( https:// mobile. twitter. com/ limeso.../ status/682186628580950017), Ukraine's ambassador to Italy demanded the magazine's editorial staff to bring the maps in line with the norms of the international law," reads a report posted on Ukrainian Foreign Ministry's website on Facebook on Saturday.

                    The Ukrainian diplomat in his letter also said that such indication on the map is a technical mistake or a deliberate provocation, which "regarded as a challenge to territorial integrity of Ukraine that ignores a consolidated position of EU and UN on non-recognition of Crimea's occupation by Russia."

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                    • 13:21 09.01.2016 INTERFAX-UKRAINE
                      Polish president repeals appointment of Marcin Wojciechowski as Polish ambassador to Ukraine

                      Polish President Andrzej Duda has cancelled a decree of his predecessor Bronislaw Komorowski to dismiss Henryk Litwin as Polish Ambassador to Ukraine, Polskie Radio said.

                      Besides, Duda cancelled a decree on appointment of former Spokesman for the Polish Foreign Ministry Marcin Wojciechowski as a new ambassador.

                      The respective decrees were posted in Monitor Polski on January 8.

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                      • Russian-backed forces using ‘laser guided anti-tank missiles' in eastern Ukraine
                        UT UKRAINE TODAY VIDEO Jan. 9, 2016

                        Last month UN reported of weapons and fighters continuing to pour from Russia into Donbas

                        Combined Russian-separatist forces are allegedly using laser guided anti-tank missiles in eastern Ukraine.

                        Government forces have shown the deep imprints left in the ground by the shells near the war-torn town of Debaltseve. This places Russia under further suspicion that its testing new military capabilities in the Donbas.

                        Last month the UN reported that weapons and fighters are continuing to pour into militant-occupied regions of east Ukraine from Russia.

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                        • Deputy Viktor Yelensky: Moscow Patriarchate loses 70 parishes in two years
                          EUROMAIDAN PRESS 2016/01/09

                          In two years, 60-70 parishes of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) have joined the Ukrainian Orthodox Kyivan Patriarchate, says Viktor Yelensky, expert in religions, member of the subcommittee on state policy for freedom of conscience and religious organizations of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Culture and Spirituality.

                          “Of course, it’s probable that some parishes have moved the other way. I can’t say anything at the moment. But this is the tendency now – if a priest expresses anti-Ukrainian sentiments in his parish, parishioners usually move to join the Kyivan Patriarchate”.

                          The deputy denies that the government is applying pressure on the parishioners and priests to switch to either patriarchate.

                          On January 7, 2016, in an interview on Rossiya-1 channel, Kirill, the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church stated that “for him, Ukraine is the same as Russia”. He added that he was very worried about churches in Ukraine being occupied by parishioners. He spoke of the conflict between religious communities in the village of Ptychi (Rivne Oblast), where he believes “the court has stood up for the rights of our believers, but the government does not protect these rights”.

                          The conflict for the church in the village of Ptychi (Dubno District) has dragged on for more than a year, ever since the vast majority of villagers voted to join the Kyivan Patriarchate. Parishioners were outraged by the behaviour of their priest (of the Ukrainian Orthodox Moscow Patriarchate), who often referred to the Russian Patriarch Kirill and called on the faithful to pray for ATO fighters not as soldiers, but as “wandering tourists”.

                          Court hearings continued throughout the year. The UOC (MP) won the appeal in the dispute for the church premises as the community charter specifies that if the religious community is liquidated, the church building remains in the diocese. Parishioners say they know nothing about this article of the charter.
                          Deputy Viktor Yelensky: Moscow Patriarchate loses 70 parishes in two years -Euromaidan Press |

                          Source: RADIO LIBERTY

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                          • EU Council to consider abolition of visas for Ukraine in March or June
                            09.01.2016 | 13:45 UNIAN

                            The EU foreign ministers will consider the issue of granting Ukraine a visa-free regime in March or June, depending on the progress in implementing the necessary reforms, Ukraine's Deputy Foreign Minister on European Integration issues Olena Zerkal told TV Channel 5, according to the Ukrainian online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda.

                            "It depends on how quickly we will convince justice and home affairs ministers of the European Union that we have fulfilled all the requirements and continue improving [the legislation]," Zerkal said.

                            As is known, one of the requirements Ukraine has committed to fulfill for the introduction of a visa-free regime is an electronic asset declaration system for officials, however, on January 4 it was reported that a law on the state budget for 2016 appeared to include a new provision, which postponed for one year the implementation of this system.

                            In turn, the government stated it had not amended the document.

                            The next day, the Ukrainian parliament introduced a bill to repeal the mentioned amendment to the budget.
                            EU Council to consider abolition of visas for Ukraine in March or June : UNIAN news

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                            • 'Kremlin's Czech Friends': Ukraine Today presents new documentary
                              UT UKRAINE TODAY VIDEO Jan. 9, 2016

                              Watch a new investigative film which seeks to shed light on Russia attempts to undermine EU unity

                              How does Russia advance its interests inside the European Union?

                              That question has come ever-more to the fore following Russia's military aggression in Ukraine and the massive media campaign which has accompanied it. Within the EU the Kremlin has cultivated ties with a number of specific groups, among them far-right movements such as Marine Le Pen's National Front in France.

                              But Moscow can also count some higher-ranking figures among its friends including Czech President Milos Zeman. The Czech leader, and his support for Russia, is the subject of a new documentary film titled "Czech Friends of the Kremlin".

                              The film seeks to cast light on the theme of Russian propaganda in Europe more widely and not just in the Czech Republic. Experts say that whilst Russia under President Putin has for some time been trying to undermine European Union unity, it is only recently that the bloc has come too see Russian propaganda as a real threat.
                              'Kremlin's Czech Friends': Ukraine Today presents new documentary - watch on -

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                              • Westinghouse's Kirst sees nuclear power as Ukraine's best route to energy independence in 2016
                                KYIV POST Brian Bonner Jan. 09, 2016

                                When Russia launched its war against Ukraine nearly two years ago, Kyiv's dependence on Moscow was exposed in many ways.

                                One of the biggest areas of vulnerability involved Ukraine's 15 nuclear reactors, which generate 60 percent of the nation's electricity. Russia's Rosatom was supplying nuclear fuel to all but two reactors. The remainder of the fuel came from by U.S.-based Westinghouse.

                                With the onset of war, Ukraine moved to lessen its dependence on Russia and signed an agreement with Westinghouse to supply nuclear fuel to up to six reactors by 2020,. Moreover, if Russia should ever stop supplying the nuclear fuel, Westinghouse has agreed to supply nuclear fuel to all 15 reactors in Ukraine.

                                It's no surprise that Michael. E. Kirst, Westinghouse's regional vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, is promoting nuclear energy for Ukraine in 2016. Westinghouse is the largest nuclear fuel supplier in America and Europe and most reactors in Europe are Westinghouse-designed, including almost all of France's 58 reactors.

                                But in this case, Kirst said, what's good for Westinghouse is also good for Ukraine, especially if the nation can make the investments to improve the efficiency of its nuclear power plants.

                                "These reactors are only working 70 percent of available time vs the industry average of 90 percent," Kirst said in a recent interview with the Kyiv Post. "That 20 percent gap is generation over a year's period that is equivalent to 2,000 megawatts or two nuclear reactors."

                                It's also a bargain, he said, requiring an investment of $300 million compared to 10 times that amount for a new nuclear reactor which would take at least five years to come online.

                                "The cost and return on investment for Energoatom is self-evident," Kirst said, referring to Ukraine's nuclear power agency. "Increased generation will lead to increasing profits which can be reinvested in additional upgrades or new reactors. Our view is this should be the priority. It provides immediate assistance to Ukraine."

                                Finding the money, however, is another matter. The Ukrainian government could provide it, but hasn't. So could international institutions. Unfortunately, Kirst said, the U.S. Export-Import Bank is closed to Ukraine. "This is the primary financing arm for all large capital projects," he said.

                                The long-term solution, Kirst said, is for Ukraine to raise electricity tariffs so that producers can do more than simply cover their costs, which he described as the existing situation.

                                "Eventually tariffs on power supplies need to increase to meet investment needs," Kirst said. "It's never been doing that. That's really the long-term vision and strategy. The unfortunate part is that Energoatomhas not been getting the necessary tariffs from their own supplies to pay for the upgrades themselves."

                                Westinghouse needed 15 years of "painstaking" negotiations to enter the Ukrainian market and cut into the business of RosAtom, the Russian state-owned nuclear power provider.

                                KIrst said Westinghouse's progress was slowed by political reasons and "significant propaganda against the common practice throughout the world of having two suppliers in providing fuel in the same reactor. This occurs in all other markets except Russian-designed reactors."

                                The company conducted a largely successful public relations campaign to "prove our fuel is safe, efficient and economic," Kirst said.

                                Coal accounts for roughly 30 percent of Ukraine's electricity generation and hydropower another 10 percent, Kirst said, making nuclear power the king for the foreseeable future.

                                "Hydro is not expandable. It's contingent on the water supply that is available in the country," Kirst said. "Coal is increasingly expensive."

                                Renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, "have a role" but work "only 33 percent of the time on average. Their efficiency is by far the worst of all alternatives. Their power needs to be backed up by another supply of power, which is usually gas."

                                And dependency on natural gas -- especially imported Russian natural gas -- is exactly what Ukraine is trying to eliminate.

                                "For a relatively small amoutn of money, increasing the efficiency and capacity of reactors in Ukraine should be the first priority," Kirst said.

                                Westinghouse is providing fuel for two reactors in the South Ukraine complex, north of Mykolayiv and 150 kilometers north of Russian-occupied Crimea, and will go into four reactors in the Zaporyzhia complex, "the largest nuclear facility in Europe."

                                South Ukraine is an energy source for Crimea. "The irony is American-made nuclear fuel is supplying electricity to Crimea," Kirst notes. ​Westinghouse's Kirst sees nuclear power as Ukraine's best route to energy independence in 2016

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