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  • Putin: Western sanctions against Russia re Crimea ‘silly decision'
    11.01.2016 | 08:45 UNIAN

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has told German daily Bild that Western sanctions, which came as a result of Crimea's so-called reunification with Russia, was a "silly and harmful decision," but they have had a positive effect on Russia as well, according to Russian news agency TASS.

    "You know, the Russian people feel in their hearts and understand in their minds very well what is happening," Putin said, TASS wrote.

    "Napoleon once said that justice is the embodiment of God on earth. In this sense, the reunification of Crimea with Russia was a just decision," Putin believes.

    In his words, the Western partners' reaction to the so-called reunification was "wrong and it was not aimed at supporting Ukraine but at suppressing the growth of Russia’s capabilities."

    "I believe that this should not be done and this is the main mistake; on the contrary, we need to use each other’s capabilities for mutual growth, to address common issues together," Putin said adding that the Western choice of imposing sanctions against Russia was "a silly and harmful decision."

    The Russian president admitted that the sanctions bore a negative impact on the Russian economy, particularly in the sphere of restrictions for the country and its companies to work on foreign financial markets.

    "As to the worst harm inflicted by today’s situation, first of all on our economy, it is the harm caused by the falling prices on our traditional export goods," Putin said speaking about the drop of crude prices over the last year and a half.

    However, according to him, "as strange as it may seem, some tendencies of positive nature also emerged" for Russia under the current difficulties.

    "When oil prices are high, it is very difficult for us to resist spending oil revenues to cover current expenses," he said.

    "I believe that our non-oil and gas deficit had risen to a very dangerous level. So now we are forced to lower it. And this is healthy…," he added.

    According to Putin, "it is very difficult, I repeat, to resist spending oil and gas revenues to cover current expenses." "High oil revenues discourage development, especially in the high technology sectors," Putin said adding that the decrease in spending of oil and gas profits plays a revitalizing role for the country's economy.

    The official translation of the interview into English is available on kremlin.ru.
    Putin: Western sanctions against Russia re Crimea ‘silly decision' : UNIAN news

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    Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp

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    • Soldier Ruslan Filipsonov: It’s most offensive when people ask me “Whatever were you fighting for?”
      EUROMAIDAN PRESS Halyna Tereshchuk 2016/01/11

      Lviv. Ukrainian fighter Ruslan Filipsonov saved the lives of seven comrades and was seriously wounded. 25-year-old Ruslan, serviceman in the 24th mechanized brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has undergone about 50 operations and was immobilized for almost nine months in hospital. The Ukrainian fighter saved six comrades-in arms during an attack, but was seriously wounded when he ran to evacuate the seventh. The doctors performed a real miracle – Ruslan will walk.

      Today, Ruslan is in a wheelchair. He is under medical surveillance and follows a daily exercise programme. We first met a year ago, when he was lying immobile in hospital, a laptop on his chest and his mother Kateryna constantly beside him. Even then Ruslan firmly believed that he would walk and return to a normal life. That was his main motivation. Although his wounds and injuries are very complex, he has twice survived clinical death. Officer Ruslan Filipsonov recalls the day of hell on August 20, 2014.

      “Despite the shelling, I ran out to pick up my friends. I managed to save six. When I went out for the seventh, I was caught in a rain of heavy enemy fire and fell to the ground, severely wounded. I’d been in the army for almost three months. I was in charge of the equipment and soldiers. I was wounded on August 20, 2014 in Lutuhyne, Luhansk Oblast. Our positions were under heavy shelling from half past three to nine in the morning. Everything was burning and we were in the middle of this hell. We had to retreat, and then the enemy tanks also pulled back. Some of our guys were lying injured in the trenches. There were three officers, but one was wounded. Despite the shelling, I ran towards the wounded men; bullets were whistling and mortars were exploding all around me. When I ran out for the seventh guy, I was hit and regained consciousness in a hospital in Kharkiv.”

      Ruslan suffered from severe abdominal wounds; his legs were injured, his right hand was completely smashed, the right lung was punctured, the intestines and bladder were severely damaged. He was first operated in Kharkiv, then in Kyiv and finally transferred to Lviv. Caring people collected money to send Ruslan to Austria, where he was treated three times.

      “Modern medicine and foreign doctors perform real miracles. During the first operation, they shaped the tissue and skin of the abdomen, covering the open wound and proceeded to kill the infection in the stomach. Two professors performed the second operation, which lasted eight hours; they sewed up the intestines and bladder. The surgery was perfect. The doctors admitted that the operation was very difficult, but successful. The third operation was done on my feet; titanium implants were inserted. If all goes well I will learn to live with them…”

      “I don’t have such negative thoughts; I never ask myself what I was fighting for. I knew from the first day why I went to serve on the frontlines. I fought for our future, for our children, for our girls, women and mothers, and for peace and tranquility so that the fear that I saw in the Donbas does not spread throughout our country to western Ukraine. I talked with the people there; they see destruction everywhere; the fear is in their eyes and hearts. Only ruins and destruction… Do we want to see the same here?”

      Ruslan’s comrades have not forgotten him. They have all been demobilized. Ruslan learns about the situation in the Donbas from the news and friends. He is very concerned about the soldiers in the frontlines and at military checkpoints who need warm clothing, rainwear and heating equipment.

      Ruslan Filipsonov is planning to work at the Military Academy; he will teach, but also wants to relate his experiences on the frontlines, especially the feeling of brotherhood and patriotism.

      He is happy that Ukrainians have begun to trust the army. At the same time, he is hurt that not everyone accepts and understands the soldiers who are returning home from active duty.

      “Unfortunately, there are cases when our guys have been demobilized, they come home and society doesn’t accept them. You can see it in public transport when drivers refuse to take them and ordinary people look at them and say: “Why did you go there?” And there are other examples at work – one guy came back to work from the eastern front and this bothered the other men in the office as they had managed to escape mobilization. Lviv is a peaceful city, but any sign of war hurts… We fought for these civilians; we sacrificed our lives and health. If such men were to enroll in the army, stand under fire at checkpoints, they would immediately get a taste of real war. Then people wouldn’t cry: “Why did you go there?” Who is supposed to defend our country? People think that everything is peaceful here, that this war doesn’t concern them. But, if our guys leave the checkpoints and come home, those separatists will soon be here, in Lviv. We’ve seen how people suffer in the Donbas, surviving without food, power or gas. People here are fortunate because they’re not aware of all that. That’s why it’s very insulting to hear such remarks.”

      The Lviv City Council has promised to accommodate Ruslan in an apartment if a complex is built to house soldiers. As for now, it is only a promise…

      “I hope we won’t be forgotten. I’d really like to see the government taking better care of us.”

      In the end, Ruslan smiled and admitted that his heart was free and he is waiting for his beloved girl.

      Donations for Ruslan Filipsonov’s medical treatment:

      Pryvatbank card number – 5168742019770258 (in UAH). Cardholder’s name – Kateryna Ivanivna Filipsonova.
      Soldier Ruslan Filipsonov: It’s most offensive when people ask me “Whatever were you fighting for?” -Euromaidan Press |

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      Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp

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      • 14:23 11.01.2016 INTERFAX-UKRAINE
        Lufthansa to return to Odesa with two flights a week, Austrian Airlines to increase number of flights

        Germany's Lufthansa, after a two-year break, will resume flights to the Odesa airport, and from March 31, 2016 will fly from Odesa to Munich twice a week.

        The press service of Lufthansa Group reported that Canadair Regional Jet CRJ900 with a carrying capacity of up to 90 passengers will service the flight.

        Additionally, Austrian Airlines, part of Lufthansa Group, will increase the number of flights on the Odesa-Vienna route starting from summer 2016: the airline will service the flights every day.

        Lufthansa started flying to Ukraine 24 years ago. Today, two airlines, part of Lufthansa Group, fly to Ukraine: Lufthansa German Airlines and Austrian Airlines. The airlines fly from Kyiv, Lviv, Dnipropetrovsk and Odesa. The share of Lufthansa Group of the Ukrainian aviation market is around 12%.

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        Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp

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        • Putin defends Russia's annexation of Crimea in interview with German paper
          Jan. 11, 2016 UT UKRAINE TODAY Video

          Russian president also blames Ukraine for failing to give autonomy to its eastern regions

          Vladimir Putin's interview with the German newspaper "Bild" is now on news stands. The initial installment of the lengthy conversation was published on January 11.

          The Kremlin leader discusses Russia's relationship with Germany, tensions with the NATO alliance and the common threat of terrorism his country shares with the West.

          In the interview Putin defends Moscow's decision to ilegally annex Crimea in March of 2014.

          The Bild's 28 hundred-word write-up on Putin is accompanied by a 5-minute YouTube clip of the interview higlights where the Russian president blames Ukraine for failing to give autonomy to its eastern regions, as per the ceasefire declaration agreed to in Minsk during February 2015.
          Putin defends Russia's annexation of Crimea in interview with German paper - watch on - uatoday.tv

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          Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp

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          • Economics
            Jaresko: IMF agrees Ukraine’s Budget-2016
            11.01.2016 | 18:30 UNIAN

            According to Ukraine’s Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, the International Monetary Fund has completed at the moment its assessment of the Ukrainian budget and the corresponding package of legislation, the adoption of which preceeded the voting for Ukraine’s main financial document.

            The International Monetary Fund has agreed that the budget adopted on December 25 meets the objectives of Ukraine's cooperation program with the Fund, that’s according to Natalie Jaresko’s comments to Europeiska Pravda online newspaper.

            "During the consideration [of the draft budget] in the Verkhovna Rada, the deputies, first of all, introduced a number of changes that had not been agreed upon with the IMF, and secondly, they refused to support the new Tax Code, which was endorsed by the President at the National Council of Reform and that formed the basis of the draft state budget, which the Ministry of Finance had agreed with the IMF," said the minister.

            According to her, the IMF has completed at the moment its assessment of the budget and the corresponding package of legislation adopted ahead of the voting for the budget.

            "The IMF agreed that the adopted budget is generally in line with the objectives of the program,” said Jaresko.

            As reported, on December 25, the Verkhovna Rada adopted the Law "On the State Budget for 2016."
            Jaresko: IMF agrees Ukraine’s Budget-2016 : UNIAN news

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            • Follow Trump’s Money to Moscow
              ACCURACY IN MEDIA Cliff Kincaid Dec 22, 2015

              The phrase “follow the money” is supposed to help explain human behavior, especially in politics. So why has Donald Trump embraced Russian President Vladimir Putin? Why has he denied the evidence of Putin’s killing of Russian journalists and dissidents? A savvy businessman, Trump is certainly not dumb. There must be something else to it.

              Reports dating back to 1987, during the time of the old Soviet Union, reveal that Trump has been seeking business in Russia and attempting to build a “Russian Trump Tower” in Moscow and perhaps other Russian cities.

              At this particular time in history, with Putin’s cronies under financial sanctions because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Putin’s praise for Trump may signal another attempt to get the capitalists and their money back into Russia. Such a ploy depends on Trump and others rehabilitating Putin by claiming that he is fighting terrorism in Syria, not bolstering a long-time Soviet/Russian client state. Thanks to the effectiveness of the Russia Today (RT) channel, which saturates the U.S. media market, especially cable television, Putin is indeed looking like a statesman on the world stage.

              Trump’s relationship with Russia goes far back. In 1987, before the collapse of the Soviet Union, he was meeting with Soviet officials and negotiating the building of “luxury hotels” in Moscow and Leningrad. A story at the time said Trump had met Soviet Ambassador Yuri Dubinin, who mentioned how much his daughter had admired the “opulent” Trump Tower in New York City. This led to an invitation to Trump to visit the USSR. The story said Dubinin wrote a letter to Trump, who hosted a meeting with Soviet officials in New York.

              The invitation to Moscow was issued by Intourist, the giant Soviet in-country travel organization which operated all the hotels for foreigners in the Soviet Union. Intourist was created in 1929 by Joseph Stalin and run by KGB officials. Intourist hotels were designed for wealthy foreigners, and virtually all the Intourist guides were KGB informers. In fact, one aspect of their jobs was the recruitment of foreigners.

              However, Trump expressed concern about “Soviet regulations on joint ventures, which require that the Soviets hold a controlling 51 percent interest” in such projects. Trump wanted majority control.

              The book, The Global Emerging Market: Strategic Management and Economics, by Vladimir Kvint, said that as far back as 2008, the Trump Organization had registered its trademarks in Russia in the areas of real estate development and construction. Trump’s son, Donald Jr., said in an interview at the time that his father was looking at investing in Russia and China. These were considered top A-list countries. Donald Jr. is the executive vice president of Development & Acquisitions at the Trump Organization.

              Trump wasn’t the only businessman who thought the new Russia would prove hospitable to foreign investment. American businessman Bill Browder ran an investment fund in Russia called Hermitage Capital. Once a Putin fan, he thought private property rights were going to be protected. However, he was deported in 2005, his assets stolen, and his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was tortured and killed. Browder now says, “The Russian regime is a criminal regime. We’re dealing with a nuclear country run by a bunch of Mafia crooks. And we have to know that.”

              Cases like that didn’t stop Congress in 2012 from voting for Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) for Russia. It passed the Senate by 92-4 and the House by 365-43. Despite the ominous trends, including Putin’s invasion of the former Soviet Republic of Georgia in 2008, big business thought a lot of money could still be made in Russia. In 2013, Trump was himself back in Russia holding his “Miss Universe” pageant. “I have plans to start business in Russia,” Trump told the Russian media. “I am currently in talks with several Russian companies to build a skyscraper on the model of Trump Tower in New York.”

              One of Trump’s contacts was Russian billionaire Araz Agalarov and his company Crocus Group. He owned Crocus City Hall, where the Miss Universe finals were being held. He confirmed that his company, Crocus Group, had been participating in real estate talks with Trump. Later that year Agalarov was given an outstanding citizen award by Vladimir Putin at a ceremony held in the Kremlin. He has been called “The Donald Trump of Russia.”

              Rather than treat China and Russia as business opportunities, Trump said in his 2011 book, Time To Get Tough, that China is “not our friend” and is stealing our jobs, technology, and military capabilities. It appears that a business relationship with China had soured since the time Donald Jr. was considering investing there. Trump’s attacks on China have been a big hit on the campaign trail.

              Analyst Nevin Gussack says of Trump, “While his trade and immigration policies would strengthen our strategic and economic posture, his naiveté and ignorance of Russia and even Cuba is very disconcerting.” It appears that Trump has flip-flopped on the question of whether he would invest in communist Cuba.

              As far as Russia is concerned, there’s no talk in the 2011 book of doing business with Putin. But Trump said that he “often speaks highly” of Putin because of his “intelligence and no-nonsense way.” An intelligence operative, Putin was in the KGB and ran one of the KGB’s successor agencies, the FSB.

              Putin certainly has a “no-nonsense” approach to his perceived political enemies. Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya was poisoned, miraculously survived, but was then later shot dead on October 7, 2006, which happened to be Putin’s birthday. She had been warning about the KGB’s return to power and was investigating the circumstances surrounding the kidnapping and murder of hundreds in the Beslan school massacre in southern Russia in 2004. This event, like the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings, was blamed on Islamists and gave Putin the opportunity, or pretext, to further consolidate his power over the military, the intelligence agencies, and the economy. He assumed virtual dictatorial powers.

              The poisoning of Politkovskaya was a hallmark of the KGB’s “no-nonsense” way of doing business. Later that same year, dissident former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko was murdered by poisoning in London, to which he had fled. He wrote the book, Blowing Up Moscow: The Secret Plot to Bring Back KGB Terror, about the FSB’s role in those 1999 Moscow apartment bombings. He had also named al-Qaeda’s number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, as having been trained by the KGB.

              While Trump’s 2011 book denounced “Obama’s pandering to the Russians” in areas like sabotaging missile defense for our allies, he said Putin had a “grand vision,” the creation of a “Eurasian Union” to replace the USSR. He said Putin wanted to control oil supplies to all of Europe. This was an important insight into how Putin’s regime is not defensive, nor reacting to the U.S. and NATO, but is instead aggressive in foreign affairs and trying to dominate its neighbors. However, rather than explain what the Russians were up to with this “grand vision,” Trump went on to say “Hats off to the Russians” in getting their way with Obama.

              One can fully understand taking Obama to task for giving in to the Russians. But praising the Russians for taking advantage of Obama reflects a trait that is all too common with many conservatives. Their disgust with Obama has blinded them to the nature of our enemies, who exploit his foreign policy to their advantage. They somehow think Putin is acting in America’s interests when Obama is not. That’s ludicrous.

              In his latest book, Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again, Trump notes that Putin is “outmaneuvering” Obama in the Middle East. Trump calls Putin a leader, in contrast to Obama. But what is Putin leading? Trump refers to Iran as “Russia’s best friend,” without explaining the significance of its alliance with Russia. Trump also says in his book that he doesn’t understand “why Germany and other countries watched impassively as Putin marched into Ukraine.”

              After the invasion of Ukraine and the shoot-down of the Malaysian plane by Russian-backed terrorists, Trump claimed, “I think I became much richer because I can understand people and read people and Putin is not finished. Putin has got a long way to go.”

              Again, we are left thinking that Trump understands the aggressive intentions of Vladimir Putin.

              Yet, when Trump was asked about the nuclear balance with Russia during the most recent Republican presidential debate, he displayed ignorance of the decaying nature of the U.S. nuclear triad, which constitutes our ability to deter and survive a Russian nuclear first strike.

              Meanwhile, Putin has just presided over a ceremony honoring the KGB’s successor agencies, and the Russia Today (RT) propaganda channel has announced the grand opening of a “cultural center” dedicated to mass murderer Joseph Stalin.

              It looks like Putin has outmaneuvered Obama and Trump. It is an opening for Trump’s opponents, especially Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL). But do they have the courage to “follow the money” and hold Trump accountable for doing business with a criminal regime that threatens the survival of the United States? At the end of this money trail they may find an explanation of why Trump is so reluctant to hold Putin responsible for his crimes.
              Follow Trump’s Money to Moscow
              ===========================================================
              When it comes to Russian politics, Donald Trump is just another useful idiot...

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              Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp

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              • 10:20 11.01.2016 INTERFAX-UKRAINE
                Council of EU to look into visa issues for Ukraine in March-Jun

                Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) of European Union Member States will look into an issue of granting a visa free travel for Ukraine in March or June, Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine for European Integration Olena Zerkal reported.

                "As soon as we will be able to persuade justice and interior affairs ministers of the European Union member states that we fulfilled everything and continue improving [legislation], and that this process is irreversible, will depend when the Council of EU will consider this issue – in March or June," Zerkal said in an interview with Channel Five TV broadcast on Friday evening.

                She said that the foreign ministry after New Year holidays will be engaged "in a very intensive dialogue" with the European colleagues regarding granting visa free travel to Ukraine.

                __________________

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                • 14:14 11.01.2016 INTERFAX-UKRAINE
                  Hague court expects reaction from parties in Kolomoisky lawsuit against Russia regarding Belbek airport by March

                  The Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague expects a reaction from the parties to the litigation in the lawsuit filed by Ukrainian businessman Ihor Kolomoisky and Aeroport Belbek LLC against the Russian Federation.

                  According to the court press release, UNCITRAL (United Nations Commission on International Trade) arbitration is commenced under a Russian-Ukrainian bilateral investment treaty.

                  "On 9 January 2015, arbitral proceedings were commenced by Aeroport Belbek LLC and Mr. Igor Valerievich Kolomoisky against the Russian Federation pursuant to the Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on the Encouragement and Mutual Protection of Investments, dated 27 November 1998 ("Ukraine-Russia BIT"), under the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules 1976 ("UNCITRAL Rules")," the press release says.

                  "In the Notice of Arbitration, the Claimants claim that the Russian Federation breached its obligations under the Ukraine-Russia BIT by taking measures, as of February 2014, that deprived the Claimants of their property, contractual and other rights to operate a passenger terminal for commercial flights at the Belbek International Airport in Crimea," the document says.

                  However, Russia said in its letters dated June 16, 2015 and July 1, 2015 that the said intergovernmental treaty cannot be grounds for forming arbitration for settling the dispute with the claimants and that it does not recognize the jurisdiction of international arbitration in the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

                  However, on July 6, 2015 the arbitration court notified the parties that it was of the opinion that Russian correspondence "should be considered as consent of the Russian Federation to constitution of an arbitral tribunal, participation in arbitral proceedings, or as procedural actions taken in the framework of the proceedings." Aeroport Belbek LLC and Kolomoisky filed a lawsuit on June 30, 2015.

                  In the meantime, the defendant did not provide objections to the lawsuit by September 30, 2015 (the date stated in the procedural regulations).

                  On October 30, 2015, the arbitration court ruled to continue the litigation, despite the non-provision of objections to the lawsuit by the defendant.

                  "Having afforded the Parties an opportunity to be heard, on November 30, 2015, the Tribunal decided to proceed on the basis of a bifurcated proceeding that would address issues of jurisdiction and admissibility in a preliminary procedure. A modified procedural timetable has been notified to the Parties. As foreseen in the timetable, the Tribunal posed questions to the Parties on 18 December 2015. Answers to the Tribunal's questions are due by 29 February 2016. Hearing dates for the preliminary procedure have yet to be fixed," the court said in its press release.

                  According to Deutsche Welle, Kolomoisky said in his lawsuit that he had a contract until 2020 to run the passenger terminal of the Belbek airport in Sevastopol, which was nationalized after the joining of Crimea to Russia. He now seeks $15 million in compensation from Russia for lost possible revenue from the terminal.

                  It was reported in September 2014 that Kolomoisky had no intention to defend his right to property in Crimea and Russia and intended to file a lawsuit with the Hague tribunal seeking $2 billion in damages.
                  Hague court expects reaction from parties in Kolomoisky lawsuit against Russia regarding Belbek airport by March

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                  • 15:02 11.01.2016 INTERFAX-UKRAINE
                    Poroshenko hopes for development of modern European education in Ukraine

                    Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko expects the laws, which are required for the establishment of a modern European education in Ukraine, to be adopted this year.

                    "I believe that this year Ukraine will get a legislative framework for a modern European patriotic high-quality education," the president said opening a new school in the village of Sokoliv, Ternopil region, on Monday.

                    The president expressed his hope that the decentralization reform, which has started in the country, will help in the matter of construction of new schools and kindergartens.

                    He also noted that the new school in the village of Sokoliv should become a model on which other new facilities in Ukraine should be based.

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                    • Oil prices tumble, weighed by China worries
                      11.01.2016 | 10:40 UNIAN

                      Crude prices fell more than 2% in early Asian trade Monday as volatility in the Chinese stock market and worries about the Chinese economy keep investors feeling bearish, according to The Wall Street Journal.

                      Regional stock markets also started the week lower. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 2.5% to 3106.99, while the Shenzhen Composite Index was 3.3% lower after a modest recovery on Friday, according to the report.

                      In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index fell 2.4% and a gauge of Chinese firms listed in the city fell 3.25%.

                      Oil prices kicked off the new year last week in a slump. Prices were dragged by fears that the escalating tension in the Middle East will deter oil producers from cutting production. Prices sank further after the Chinese government last week allowed its currency to fall at a quicker rate than expected, triggering a rapid selloff in the stock market.

                      According to Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, concerns over the impact of a depreciating Chinese currency will keep pressuring commodity prices lower in the short term.

                      "The global glut issue has been around for a while. Right now, it is the fear of a Chinese slowdown that is spooking the market," said Barnabas Gan, a commodity analyst at OCBC.

                      "Most of the selling is based on emotions and panics," he added.

                      News that the Saudi government may be considering an initial public offering for its state-run oil company is also dampening sentiment, he said.

                      Most analysts agree a price recovery is still a long way away but the more bullish ones believe prices are stabilizing amid signs of shrinking production, The Wall Street Journal reported.

                      According to industry group Baker Hughes, the U.S. oil-rig count, which is viewed as a proxy for drilling activity, fell by 20 to 516 in the latest week.

                      On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for delivery in February traded at $32.41 a barrel at 0141 GMT, down $0.78 or 2.4% in the Globex electronic session. February Brent crude on London's ICE Futures exchange fell $0.72 or 2.2% to $32.83 a barrel. Both grades fell over 11% last week so far.
                      Oil prices tumble, weighed by China worries : UNIAN news

                      __________________
                      Last edited by Hannia; 12th January 2016, 01:06.

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                      • Donbas seeing escalation again: 35 attacks on Ukraine troops overnight
                        12.01.2016 | 09:49 UNIAN

                        The combined Russian-separatist forces violated the ceasefire 35 times along the demarcation line in Donbas overnight, the press center of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) wrote on Facebook early on Tuesday.

                        "The invaders have again fired small arms, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and heavy machine guns on the villages of Pisky and Opytne, the town of Avdiyivka, and northward of the village of Verkhniotoretske. The militants fired a hand-held grenade launcher on our positions near the town of Maryinka, and a sniper was working near the town of Krasnohorivka. Using small arms, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and heavy machine guns near the villages of Novhorodske, Zaitseve and Mayorsk to the north to the militant-held town of Horlivka, the occupiers were trying to provoke our defenders into firing back," the report says.

                        The militants fired heavy machine guns near the town of Svitlodarsk and areas near the village of Luhanske were under sniper fire, the press center wrote.

                        "There was a skirmish near the village of Semyhiria in the same sector. As a result of the short battle with the use of small arms, our soldiers repelled the attackers to the starting line. Not far from the village of Troyitske, which is on the border of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the occupiers fired an 82mm mortar. It was not quiet in Luhansk region as well. Late in the evening, organized criminal groups opened fire from grenade launchers and banned 120mm mortars on the Ukrainian fortified positions near the village of Krymske," the ATO headquarters said.
                        Donbas seeing escalation again: 35 attacks on Ukraine troops overnight : UNIAN news

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                        • Ukrainian sugar exports to Kazakhstan quadruple Jan-Nov
                          12.01.2016 | 10:27 UNIAN

                          Ukrainian Agrarian Minister Oleksiy Pavlenko reports that Ukrainian agricultural producers exported $7 million worth of sugar to Kazakhstan in January-November 2015, which was a fourfold increase.

                          "Sugar producers have good prospects for cooperation with the Republic of Kazakhstan. In particular, sugar exports in the eleven months of 2015 almost quadrupled year-over-year," the minister wrote on Facebook.

                          Ukrainian farm produce exports to Kazakhstan totaled $224 million against $9 million of imports. The bulk of the exports to Kazakhstan were products made of grain and cereals estimated at $82 million while cocoa beans, products made of them and chocolate were estimated at $27 million, confectionery at $18 million, meat and meat products at $20.6 million, and cheese and yogurt at $14 million. Top export commodities were also alcohol worth $8 million, margarine worth $7 million, processed vegetables and fruits worth $6.6 million, condensed milk worth $6 million, and soap worth $5.5 million.

                          At the same time, tobacco products ($6.6 million) accounted for the lion's share of imports from Kazakhstan, along with fish, crustaceans and mollusks ($955,000), cocoa beans, products made of them and chocolate ($940,000).

                          As UNIAN reported earlier, in December, ten Ukrainian producers of meat and dairy products were granted access to the Kazakh market after the country cancelled temporary restrictions on the import of meat and dairy products for eight Ukrainian companies in June and for another two in September.

                          Kazakhstan imposed restrictions on the import of Ukrainian dairy foods following Russia's total ban on Ukrainian dairy shipments in late July 2014.
                          Ukrainian sugar exports to Kazakhstan quadruple Jan-Nov : UNIAN news

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                          • Bloomberg puts Russia among worst economies in 2016
                            11.01.2016 | 21:30

                            Only Greece, Brazil and Venezuela show worse figures, according to the analysis of potential efficiency of the world’s 93 economies conducted by several experts at Bloomberg’s request, according to Russia’s RBC news agency.

                            "Its [Russia’s] GDP, according to economists, will be reduced in 2016 by 0.5%. Only Greece, Brazil and Venezuela are expected to show worse performance. Negative growth is also expected from the Ecuadorian economy, Argentina's GDP will remain at the same level, while the economies of Japan, Finland, Croatia and Switzerland will grow very slightly," said the report.

                            It is noted that in the past year Russia ranked third from the bottom in the Bloomberg’s list: its GDP has decreased by 3.65% in the first nine months. The last place went to Macau with the index declining by 25.03%. Ukraine's GDP will grow by 1.2-1.4%, according to the economists. There is a 60% possibility of a recession in the next 12 months, according to the experts.

                            "For Russia, a high risk of recession will remain throughout the year, but will begin to decline starting September, down to the level of just above 60% in December. The average risk will be at 65%. In general, the economists believe that Russia will come out of the prolonged two-decade recession and will see a slight growth by the end of the fourth quarter," the report reads.

                            The World Bank expects that in 2016, Russia's economy will shrink by 0.7%. A report issued on January 6 said that structural reforms are needed to improve the situation and reduce the geopolitical risks.
                            Bloomberg puts Russia among worst economies in 2016 : UNIAN news

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                            • 14:08 12.01.2016 INTERFAX-UKRAINE
                              Saakashvili publicly dismisses his advisor Reznyk and asks law enforcers to look into crimes he accused of

                              Head of Odesa Regional State Administration Mikheil Saakashvili has dismissed his advisor Volodymyr Reznyk after revealing illegal actions committed by him.

                              "After [acting] director of the regional administration's department on the development of infrastructure and housing and utilities sector [Tetyana] Marchenko was caught red-handed, I initiated an internal examination that showed that advisor to head of Odesa Regional State Administration Reznyk broke law when signed documents regarding construction works in the region," Saakashvili wrote on his page in Facebook on Monday.

                              According to Odesa governor, he invited the heads of interior affairs departments and prosecutor's offices for the meeting of the leadership of Odesa Regional State Administration, during which he publicly dismissed advisor of administration's head and asked law enforcement agencies to immediately deal with him, as well as to check all financial documents of the main sections of the administration.

                              "In time when we destroyed a traditional corruption vertical line in Odesa, I'll be especially hard-edged and we'll bring to an end a complete lustration of the departments of all levels from all werewolves in the cabinets," he said.

                              Besides, the Odesa region governor promised that his team would continue reshuffle of the regional state administration.

                              "After we cut a number of the administration's staff from 800 to 400 persons, we'll keep up with the reshuffle and despite all the obstacles of the Labor Code almost the whole old leadership will be replaced, and all new staff will be appointed via the transparent contest, which already faced heads of regional state administrations, some departments of regional state administration and the new centre for servicing citizens," he wrote.

                              As reported, on December 31, 2015 officers of Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) and Military Prosecutor's Office detained acting director of the regional administration's department for the development of infrastructure and the housing and utilities sector of Odesa Regional State Administration Tetyana Marchenko for accepting a bribe of UAH 1.5 million. Saakashvili publicly dismisses his advisor Reznyk and asks law enforcers to look into crimes he accused of

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                              • Consumer prices rise 79% in two years of crisis
                                12.01.2016 | 15:11

                                Consumer prices increased by 79% during 2014-2015 against the backdrop of a weaker hryvnia and increased tariffs for utility services, according to Olena Bilan, the chief economist at Dragon Capital.

                                "Over the last two crisis years, consumer prices rose by 79% against the backdrop of almost a threefold increase in public utilities tariffs (+173% in 2014-2015), as well as the weakening of the hryvnia from 8 UAH/USD in late 2013 to 24 UAH/USD in late 2015," Bilan said.

                                The rise in prices (by 20 percentage points) in the past two years has been attributed to the increase in housing and utility tariffs, with the remaining share mostly caused by the weakening of the national currency. While decline in oil prices has mitigated only slightly an impact of the weak currency on inflation, according to the expert.

                                "Since the hryvnia has remained largely stable since March last year, the effect of the currency devaluation has been fully realized itself in consumer prices, and should not create additional pressure on inflation," Bilan said.

                                Taking into account the expected scheduled increase in utility tariffs, the inflation is expected to slow down to 14% year-over-year at the end of 2016 due to the effect of the comparison base, as well as rigid fiscal and monetary policy.

                                "This forecast is based on expectations of a relatively stable exchange rate. However, each further weakening of the hryvnia by 10% will add an estimated 3 percentage points to the inflation rate, with its full effect being translated into prices within five-six months," she added.

                                As UNIAN reported earlier, inflation in Ukraine rose to 43.3% in 2015 (December 2015 to December 2014) as compared with 24.9% recorded in 2014, hitting the highest level over the past 20 years, according to the State Statistics Service. In December 2015, inflation slowed down to 0.7% against November 2015, from 2% recorded a month earlier.

                                In 2014, consumer prices in Ukraine increased by 24.9%.
                                Consumer prices rise 79% in two years of crisis : UNIAN news

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