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  • Ukraine's leader urges Europe to keep sanctions in place until Russia 'gets out of Donbas'
    UT UKRAINE TODAY Feb. 1, 2016 VIDEO

    German Chancellor: ceasefire in east Ukraine seems 'sometimes possible, sometimes not'

    Sanctions on Russia must not be lifted.

    That is the unequivocal messge from Ukrainian President Poroshenko. He spoke alongside Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko: "It is obvious that sanctions against Russia must stay in place until Russia and its proxies fully implement Minsk agreement and Russia gets out of Donbas."

    Merkel says work on full implementation of a truce in east Ukraine is contuing. She admits, the process is variable.

    Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel: "It is important to really get a sustainable ceasefire (in Eastern Ukraine). We often spoke about it. There are some days where it seems possible, other when not."

    Russian-backed insurgent forces began attacking Ukrainian positions in March 2014. That came after Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula following the ouster of Kremlin-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych. Ukraine's leader urges Europe to keep sanctions in place until Russia 'gets out of Donbas' - watch on - uatoday.tv

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    • Week’s milestones. Rebranding of Kruty, coalition puzzle, and government hopes
      02.02.2016 | 08:45 UNIAN Yevgeny Magda

      After returning to a plenary mode, the parliamentary coalition has been seeking intensively the ways to reformat the government. The prime minister has publically expressed hope to retain his post.

      At a time when the news from Donbas ceased to make it to the headlines, it is crucial for the state to direct new messages to the public indicating inevitability of Ukraine's success in building an effective state. Today, it seems particularly important to reconsider the history of events of late January 1918 near the settlement of Kruty in northeastern Ukraine, just 130 km from Kyiv, when several hundred brave students not only refuted for some time the attacks of the Bolshevik forces, but also allowed the delegation to the Ukrainian People’s Republic to achieve international recognition of Ukraine’s independence. Millions of citizens of modern Ukraine badly need the examples of victories of our ancestors, proving that today’s independence is anything but accidental. In this regard, last week’s complete ban of the Communist Party upheld in the Supreme Administrative court is quite symbolic, as the party’s leaders never hid their love for Vladimir Lenin.

      Unfortunately, today’s politicians in Ukraine often leave the public unsatisfied with their performance. The Verkhovna Rada at times confirms the Kremlin’s idea that Ukraine is in fact a failed state. Unfortunately, the lack of a clear and coherent action plan of the Ukrainian authorities is a painful hit to the authority of the country. Hasty changes in parliamentary regulation to ensure a broader deadline for the adoption of constitutional amendments is a tactical, rather than a strategic, move. It would be better to bring the struggle for the status of Donbas and the return of Crimea from the format of political debate to the level of dispassionate expert discussion, but it seems unlikely in the near future.

      However, the MPs succeeded in part of advocating the party and personal interests. On today’s agenda is the issue of reformatting the government, as certain MPs and lobbyist groups harbor their sweetest hopes of grabbing a couple of Cabinet chairs. About a third of the government posts are vacant, and the government has failed to become a well-coordinated ensemble, but political expediency continues to rule the roost. As the conditions regarding parliamentary support cannot be called favorable to the main political players, they have to rely on the slow process. Most MPs are not eager to go to early parliamentary elections with the unpredictable outcome. So, they choose to play a political puzzle instead.

      Yulia Tymoshenko refused the role of a coalition mediator, but she might already see herself in a prime minister’s chair, again. The Samopomich Party is fighting to dismiss the Minister of Agrarian Policy – the move aimed at the further resignation of the entire government. However, the party leader Andriy Sadovy has not showed the prime minister’s ambitions until recently. Radical Party leader Oleh Lyashko seems to have his political life recharged as he acts like an associated coalition member. Head of pro-presidential BPP faction Yuriy Lutsenko has told on air of a Sunday talk show about his vision of reformatting the government, which incumbent Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk could hardly enjoy. It seems that only the "Opposition Bloc" is just sitting there waiting for another defeat of its opponents.

      The prime minister has publicly expressed hope to return "billions of Yanukovych" to the state budget. Unfortunately, those plans raise serious doubts due to the inefficiency of the Ukrainian prosecutors who are supposed to actually provide solid evidence to the court, to get the funds returned. However, the Cabinet of Ministers has effectively dismissed the acting Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources, Serhiy Kurykin, on corruption charges, thereby turning the ministry into a "bad place." Top ministerial officials suffer from their financial temptations too often. Meanwhile, the fact that the prime minister’s wife Teresa Yatsenyuk got a ticket for distracted driving may not be enough to strengthen the position of her husband, as his political survival is on today’s top agenda. Week’s milestones. Rebranding of Kruty, coalition puzzle, and government hopes : UNIAN news

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      • 09:28 02.02.2016 INTERFAX-UKRAINE
        Kyiv accuses militants of new strikes against Ukrainian positions – over 50 in past 24 hours

        Kyiv has reported new instances of shelling against Ukrainian army positions by militants, including strikes involving grenade launchers and large-caliber submachine guns.

        Militants have opened fire on Ukrainian military positions in Donbas 56 times in the past 24 hours, the press center of Kyiv's army operation in eastern Ukraine said on its Facebook account on Tuesday morning.

        "The most tense situation was once again recorded in the vicinity of Horlivka and on the outskirts of Donetsk," it said.

        According to the press center, the militants used grenade launchers of various systems and large-caliber submachine guns against Ukrainian military checkpoints in Opytne, Avdiyivka, Maryinka and near the Butivka mine. The adversary also fired mortars near Pisky, it said.

        The operation headquarters also said that militants forces' mortar strikes against Ukrainian army positions are becoming increasingly frequent near Horlivka, in addition to the use of grenade launchers, large-caliber submachine guns and small arms.

        According to the report, 120mm mortars, which are banned by the Minsk agreements, have been fired at Ukrainian military checkpoints in Zaitseve and Mayorsk six times.

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        • National Police official believes extra-judicial punishment possible if laws don’t work
          02.02.2016 | 09:15 UNIAN

          Chief of Ukraine’s drug enforcement department of the National Police Ilya Kiva opined that extra-judicial punishment is possible in cases when the law is not working, according to Hromadske TV channel which aired an exclusive interview with the official on Monday.

          "There is morality, and there is law. And not always does the law make it possible to maintain morality," said Kiva.

          "The most important thing in my understanding is the preservation of human life. To save a life, I am ready to break the law," he said.

          In an emotional, and somewhat confusing, speech, asked whether he is ready to pass a lie detector test if necessary, Kiva said: "Of course! Could you imagine that? But is the lie detector ready to pass me? That's how you could’ve put the question."

          Kiva has also called for re-establishment of criminal prosecution for drug intoxication, which sparked outrage among Ukraine's online community. The statement comes despite the calls of UN experts on drug addiction issues to abandon repressive practices in a global strategy of fighting drug addiction.

          Ilya Kiva has been heading the Drug Enforcement Department of the National Police since October, 2015.
          National Police official believes extra-judicial punishment possible if laws don’t work : UNIAN news

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          • U.S. expands "Magnitsky list"
            02.02.2016 | 09:40 UNIAN

            The U.S. Treasury Department has added five Russian citizens to the list of individuals sanctioned under the so-called Magnitsky Act, according to the department’s website.

            t is worth noting that almost all of the following individuals are directly connected with the Magnitsky case.

            The sanctions were imposed against

            Aleksey Anichin, a former Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, head of the Investigation Committee at the Interior Ministry;

            Boris Kibis, a MIA investigator for the Central Federal District;

            Pavel Lapshov, former Head of the Investigation Department of the Interior Ministry;

            Oleg Urzhumtsev, the investigator of the Interior Ministry;

            Yevgeni Antonov is the only one of the newly added individuals who is not related to Magnitsky case.

            As UNIAN reported earlier, the lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, died in 2009 after 11 months in jail. He was arrested for “tax evasion” in 2008, right after he revealed the scheme of embezzlement by Russian officials.

            His arrest and subsequent death caused an international outcry. The U.S. Congress adopted the Magnitsky Act, the law which imposes a ban on entry into the U.S. and the arrest of accounts in the U.S. banks of Russian officials allegedly involved in the death of Magnitsky. The list of sanctioned individuals was later extended, including those who Washington believes are involved in human rights violations. U.S. expands "Magnitsky list" : UNIAN news

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            • U.S. expert advises Ukraine to use Guatemala-type radical cure against corruption
              02.02.2016 | 10:00 UNIAN

              Creating an organization in Ukraine with signs of an international tribunal is the only way possible to tackle corruption in a situation when the judiciary system is, itself, according to Josh Cohen, ex-USAID officer for economic reforms in the former Soviet states, according to Foreign Policy magazine.

              “While Ukraine’s vibrant civil society continues to demand that Kyiv confront corruption, old guard officials from both the government and parliament continue to fight change every step of the way. What’s to be done? Surprisingly, the most useful model for Ukraine could turn out to be the small and distant Central American country of Guatemala,” Cohen wrote in an article titled “Why Ukraine Must Outsource Its Fight Against Corruption” published Monday on the Foreign Policy website.

              The expert draws attention to the experience of operations of a hybrid international/domestic body called the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).

              CICIG was created in 2006 under an agreement between Guatemala and the United Nations. While CICIG operates under Guatemalan law in the Guatemalan courts, institutionally it stands apart from the rest of Guatemala’s government, according to the article.

              Realization of the need to lose part of sovereignty in doing the job of fighting corruption “would surely be a difficult pill for Kyiv to swallow, but milder measures simply haven’t worked.” “It’s a radical step for Ukraine’s feuding politicians to take — but the fate of their country depends on it,” says Cohen.

              “Since its launch, CICIG has investigated more than 200 cases of high-level corruption and brought charges against over 160 current or former government officials,” the author says. “The list of those it has prosecuted include powerful businessmen, former generals, former defense and interior ministers, former heads of the national police, a former president — and even the sitting president.”

              The Ukrainian politicians tend to block anti-corruption legislation by proposing endless changes or inserting anti-reform clauses into unrelated laws, according to Cohen. “To ensure that the Ukrainian version of the agency doesn’t become a political football, it should begin with a minimum mandate of five years that would be extended automatically, unless it were explicitly ended through legislation,” reads the article.

              The United States and other Western donors should fully fund the first five years of Ukraine’s version in advance, Cohen believes: “CICIG’s current budget is $12 million year, and since Ukraine’s population is three times Guatemala’s, $200 million should suffice for the first five-year period.”

              As UNIAN reported earlier, Ukraine has only 27 out of 100 possible points, according to the Corruption Perception Index, Transparency International wrote. Now, the country ranks 130th among 168 states.
              U.S. expert advises Ukraine to use Guatemala-type radical cure against corruption : UNIAN news

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              • Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kyiv Patriarchate in Crimea evicted from Cathedral!
                EUROMAIDAN PRESS 2016/02/01

                At a recent press conference in Kyiv, Klyment, Archbishop of the Simferopol and Crimea Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kyiv Patriarchate announced that the Russian Arbitration Court in Crimea had ruled that premises belonging to the Crimean Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kyiv Patriarchate (KP) would be seized and confiscated.

                The Archbishop explained that the ruling concerned the Cathedral of Saint Volodymyr and Olha in the centre of Simferopol.

                “We’ve been asked to pay half a million rubles to the Ministry of Property and Land Relations, vacate the premises within ten days and prepare for the fact that the building will be confiscated because all communications, water, light, power and heat supplies are located on these 112 square metres.”

                “The leadership of the Crimean Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kyiv Patriarchate will not leave the Church and will continue to stand up for its rights. We’ve been fighting for our Church with the Property Fund of Crimea for over 20 years and we’ll continue.”

                He told Krym.Realii that the number of premises belonging to the UOC-KP in the Crimea has dropped from twenty to ten since the start of the occupation.

                “Two premises were leased from the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine – in Sevastopol and Perevalny – others were leased from Ukrainian businessmen. The Church has kept some buildings in smaller towns, but there are no priests or religious services. Some towns have no congregation; the people have fled to the mainland.”

                He added that activists of Crimean Ukrainian communities had left mainly because their children were not allowed to study in their native language. There are ten UOC-KP structures remaining in Crimea – nine have been rebuilt and renovated and one built from scratch.

                “It’s a wooden church in Yevpatoria; we finished building it in May 2014.”

                Archbishop Klyment reminded Krym.Realii that the Church in Yalta had been set on fire several times.

                According to Andriy Shchekun, representative of the NGO Crimean Centre for Business and Cultural Cooperation, Ukrainian House, the Ukrainian government should show more political will so that the UOC-KP in Crimea could defend its rights. He believes that the transfer of the Ukrainian-owned cathedral to the Crimean diocese will help the Crimean priests defend their interests in international courts and on the peninsula.

                Russian authorities and courts in Crimea have not commented on the situation.

                After the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the Russian Property Fund informed the Archbishop that the lease for the Cathedral of Saint Volodymyr and Olha must be renewed. Even then, the Archbishop was approached by total strangers who offered him $200,000 US to leave the building.

                Despite many statements and evidence of harassment on religious grounds presented by human rights organizations, Russian authorities deny everything and claim that believers of all religions faiths are treated equally in Crimea. Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kyiv Patriarchate in Crimea evicted from Cathedral! -Euromaidan Press |
                ------------------------------
                Source: KrymRealii

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                • Orest Petryshyn’s story of 9-months in captivity
                  EUROMAIDAN PRESS Halyna Tereshchuk 2016/02/01

                  Orest Petryshyn was held captive for nine months. He recently returned home to Lviv where family and friends were waiting for him. Orest was captured in Debaltseve where he and his comrades fell into an ambush. Behind him – physical and mental pain; ahead – plans, medical treatment and wiping out terrible war experiences.

                  In August 2014, 41-year-old Orest Petryshyn, a dental technician from Lviv, was called up for military service. First, he underwent military training near Lviv, and then sent to serve in a military unit of the National Guard in Kharkiv.

                  Orest was stationed at checkpoints in Luhansk Oblast. “Our duty was to stand at checkpoints and check all documents and vehicles.”

                  He was then assigned to Svitlychne, a village near Krymsky and Shchastia (Luhansk Oblast) where Ukrainian troops were engaged in combat every day. Orest Petryshyn worked as a medic, providing first aid and pulling friends away from the battlefield, but there were times when he also had to shoot and defend himself. The soldiers lived in the village hostel.

                  “It was awful there when we arrived, but we managed to clean the place up. We took out the garbage, cut down old trees, cleared the courtyard; we installed our own kitchen, a TV set and a stove brought by volunteers. They delivered everything they could.”

                  Orest spent that Christmas with his family, on a 20-day leave. He then travelled back to join his unit in Kharkiv, where the men were waiting for the March rotation. But, on the night of February 14, the soldiers were ordered to depart and 120 men were driven to an unknown destination.

                  “We asked where we were going and for how long. First, we were told we’d be gone for 24 hours, then it was two and finally we found out we were heading for Debaltseve.”

                  “We knew that it was a real hellhole. At the last military checkpoint a soldier told us we’d all be killed. He didn’t want to let us through, saying he’d have to live with this sin… Our commander replied that we’d go through the fields, driving quietly without headlights. That didn’t convince the soldiers on duty, so our commander started phoning people, probably some generals. I don’t remember the commander’s name; he was colonel of the Kharkiv unit. So, we got through…”

                  “The colonel didn’t tell us anything… only that our goal was to reach Debaltseve. I still don’t know why we were taken there. Our commander probably had a direct order from a general.”

                  “We understood that we had to defend Debaltseve until the morning of February 15, to the truce. But, there were so many enemy vehicles around us. We were supposed to take and clean out Debaltseve by 12:00 on February 15, but we were cleaned out instead. Perhaps the person who gave the order was promised some kind of bonus…”

                  In Debaltseve, the men were positioned in the railway station that was constantly shelled by Russian proxies.

                  “When I was captured, the enemy gunmen told me they could see us driving around; they watched us all the time, fired at us from flame throwers; they knew how many of us were at the station.”

                  The Ukrainian soldiers shot back and then began retreating. The commander ordered them to defend their positions. The soldiers were divided into groups of 20-30 men and took up positions in an automobile service station. The cellar had to be cleared so that the soldiers could hide. When Orest went down to the cellar, the enemy forces launched their assault, surrounded the area and took him prisoner.

                  “I was trapped; I couldn’t get out of the cellar… I could run out and be shot or wait.”

                  Orest Petryshyn was taken prisoner and transported to Makiyivka. He was held in a large building – a resort complex or hotel, which had a pool and sauna on each floor.

                  He was detained with other prisoners, who had been captured earlier, in a sauna. First, he was handcuffed and chained to a radiator, could only sleep in a sitting position with one arm raised; he was violently and regularly beaten…

                  They hit Orest with their fists, legs, rifle butts and helmets. When he was brought in, he was beaten all day until the evening. Then they called the nurse; she gave him some shots and tablets. They questioned him – who, what, where and why. Orest saw Chechens, Abkhazians, Russians, but not many local Donbas men.

                  “So, when they heard I was from Lviv and in the National Guard, they began shouting, calling me a fascist, Banderite, Nazi.”

                  Orest Petryshyn was in the hands of the Pyatnashka international brigade. At Easter he was still a prisoner in Makiyivka.

                  “There was this young guy from Donetsk, a local… he went home, brought back some Holy Paska (Easter bread) and gave it to us with some krashanky (single-colour Easter eggs).”

                  After Easter, the prisoners were transferred to Donetsk, to the former building of the SBU (Ukrainian Security Service), where he met many other Ukrainian soldiers, mostly Cyborgs.

                  There were 60 men in one room. The soldiers slept on narrow shelves, ate and used the toilet according to a strict schedule.

                  Orest was allowed to wash his clothes only once in the nine months of captivity. He was given a sweater. In Donetsk, the prisoners were not beaten, but were taken out to work as slaves.

                  “We cleaned up debris, unloaded material, worked as slaves, cheap labour.”

                  The prisoners were confined to one room; one day dragged into the next…

                  “When we were taken out to work, at least we could get some fresh air. It was difficult to sit in the room; you look out the window, but you can’t do anything. You have a meager breakfast and wait hungrily for supper. When we worked outside, they fed us better as they were responsible for us. They must’ve received strict orders about prisoners-of-war towards the end.”

                  Orest was sometimes allowed to call his family. The separatists let five prisoners call home every day; they wrote down all the names and phone numbers.

                  “It all depended on our work. Also, if you knew people who would allow you to call… One day, a young man from Donetsk came up to me and asked me if I’d called home. He gave me his phone. My family usually called back.”

                  Orest now thinks and worries a lot about his comrades who have remained in captivity. There were 21 soldiers in his room. He maintains that the Russian proxies are in no hurry to free soldiers because there are fewer and fewer prisoners, so they come up with more stringent conditions for exchange.

                  Orest Petryshyn is currently undergoing medical tests. He suffers from severe dizzy spells and needs psychological help. He was promised there would not be any delays for official documents and demobilization, but he has to get combatant status first. Orest dreams of getting married and raising a family…

                  What’s more Orest cannot get used to the idea that he has returned home to his family.

                  “The first nights home I’d wake up early in the morning thinking I had to go out to work and clean up, but I felt so warm, I didn’t want to move…Then I hear the phone ringing and my mother’s voice. Yes, I’m home and yet here I am thinking of cleaning up the courtyard.”

                  The Russian proxies were in no hurry to free Orest Petryshyn. They drove him out several times, but nothing came of it.

                  “There are reasons, but I can’t talk about it as there are still lots of our guys in captivity.”

                  Orest Petryshyn was released on October 30, 2015 as reported on President Poroshenko’s official page. “DNR” militants released nine Ukrainian soldiers from captivity on October 29.

                  139 Ukrainian soldiers are still held hostage by Russian proxies and 788 are missing. Orest Petryshyn’s story of 9-months in captivity -Euromaidan Press |
                  -------------------------------
                  Source: RADIO LIBERTY

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                  • Kadyrov, Putin and the desensitization of Russia
                    EUROMAIDAN PRESS 2016/02/02

                    Each day seems to bring a fresh outrage from Ramzan Kadyrov, Vladimir Putin and their ilk, an outrage many dutifully denounce without connecting the dots and seeing the ways in which this drip-by-drip set of actions is making Russians and indeed many outside observers increasingly insensitive to what is going on and thus what lies ahead.

                    Among the rich harvest of horrors over the last few days are the following:

                    Ramzan Kadyrov has posted on Instagram a video showing Mikhail Kasyanov, the leader of the opposition PARNAS party, in the crosshairs of a sniper sight, an action Kasyanov’s colleagues denounced but that Putin’s press secretary did not have anything to say.
                    The pro-Putin All-Russian Popular Front has made a series of cartoons showing Vladimir Putin killing those he has identified as corrupt.
                    German Klimenko, Putin’s new advisor on the Internet, says that if he were allowed to, he would “shoot” those who use the Internet in ways that the Kremlin doesn’t like. Challenged on his words, he said he was being “completely serious.”
                    Igor Kholmanskikh, Putin’s plenipotentiary for the Urals, says that it is necessary to get rid of the fifth column in ways like those described in the 1930s by Ilf and Petrov. He isn’t calling for executions of the extra-systemic opposition — at least not yet.
                    And Communist Party activists in Yekaterinburg are accusing the Yeltsin Center there of violating the law on “the rehabilitation of Nazism” by providing information about the victims of Stalin’s repressions.

                    This list could easily be extended, and as Novy Region-2 journalist Kseniya Kirillova points out in summarizing this list, it is not clear that “the worse the economic crisis in Russia becomes, the ‘better and happier’ will be the lives of its citizens. Apparently,” she suggests, “there isn’t a lot of time to wait until the promised shootings.”

                    Beyond doubt, Kirillov is right to call attention to this trend, something many are reluctant to do. But three immediate points need to be made.

                    First, Kadyrov must not be dismissed as some kind of new Zhirinovsky, whose words simply allow people to get things out of their systems. He is changing the system and promoting the Chechenization of Russia.
                    Second, every time such statements are made and are not immediately and actively denounced by Russians and by the West, it gets easier for Kadyrov and Putin to say and do even worse things. It would have been hard to imagine the gunsight picture appearing even on Kadyrov’s site a year ago; now, it is likely to become background noise.
                    And third – and this is the most important point – Putin bears responsibility for all of this.

                    If Russia is heading in the wrong direction, it is not because it is facing opposition from the Kremlin. Rather, Putin is encouraging such things, desensitizing Russians to them, and could stop them if he wanted to. He must be held accountable, as difficult and even dangerous as that task may be.
                    Kadyrov, Putin and the desensitization of Russia -- EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

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                    • Minsk, European values and Ukraine
                      EUROMAIDAN PRESS Vitaliy Portnikov 2016/02/01

                      The visit of the Ukrainian president to Germany is not simply another nod to protocol. At this stage, Petro Poroshenko’s trip and his talks with Angela Merkel may provide the answer to the question of how the Minsk process develops and if sanctions against Russia are preserved.

                      As recently as several months ago it was possible to say that a simple formula was in effect — that there could be no discussion of lifting the sanctions before Ukraine regains control of its borders. But today our country is being subjected to enormous pressure to fulfill what the West calls “the Ukrainian portion” of the Minsk agreements. Our Western partners are virtually ignoring the fact that the fulfillment of these commitments, which are tied to constitutional and legislative changes in Ukraine, is to be preceded by the end of the war and the withdrawal of occupation troops at least from the line of demarcation.

                      And here the question arises: why exactly does the West want us to fulfill our obligations but not Russia? Is it in order to have the possibility of extending the sanctions against Putin’s regime or in order to cancel them? Simply put, is the West really all that interested if our constitution is changed? Will it not be simpler for the EU if these changes did not happen? Then the responsibility for the fact that the Minsk process is stalled could be dumped on Ukraine. And it would be possible to stop “punishing” Russia which is “trying so hard” to achieve peace.

                      At least this is the basic tactic of Russian diplomacy. And in the West there are many who agree with this tactic for economic reasons or out of corruption. Germany’s position here has always been a decisive factor. But now Germany may not play this role for two reasons: first, the weakening of Angela Merkel’s domestic political positions; and second, the weakening of the position of Germany itself within the EU. As a result of elections, more left-wing governments are appearing in EU countries that are inclined to compromise with Moscow. And if yesterday this was only Greece, dependent on EU’s economic aid, then today it is also Portugal and tomorrow it is likely to be Spain. This “left-wing front” could easily block sanctions. And Berlin may be tempted to lead this process rather than trying to stop it.Can Petro Poroshenko prevent this? To some extent, yes. The Ukrainian president can demand that the countries of the “Normandy format” establish a clear timeframe for the implementation of each item of the Minsk agreements since they have already been extended for the current year. And he has a right to know exactly what the EU would consider as sufficient implementation of the Minsk agreements and if this implementation would be tied to the lifting of sanctions against the aggressor or not? And one more thing: is Russia in this situation still the aggressor, a view that was recently accepted in the West, or is it now the “mediator” as claimed by Gryzlov, Lavrov and Patrushev?

                      European politicians — both on the right and the left — will not be able to avoid answering these questions. If we cannot prevent the lifting of sanctions, we need to turn this decision into a shameful one for the European Union. The economic collapse of Russia will not prevent this decision, and it will not help the European economy. But the feelings of shame and embarrassment could be useful in facilitating further cooperation between Ukraine and the EU.

                      Because the decision to lift sanctions without ending the occupation of Ukraine will divide Europe into countries that adhere to European values and those that disdain them. And for Ukraine it is important to remain with those who have not forgotten about values and to build a new Europe with them. Minsk, European values and Ukraine -Euromaidan Press |

                      Source: ESPRESO TV

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                      • EU urges Kremlin to react to Kadyrov's threats toward Russian opposition
                        02.02.2016 | 16:20 UNIAN

                        Observing the latest communications from Chechen President Kadyrov in Instagram, EU Ambassador to Russia Vygaudas Usackas said that he was appalled by such disgusting unveiled murder threats, and expressed his hope for the Russian authorities and law enforcement bodies to react immediately, the EU Delegation to Russia reported in a statement.

                        EU Ambassador to Russia Usackas considers that the recent statements by Kadyrov towards the Russian political opposition and civil society are unacceptable in the democratic state, as noted in the statement issued following a telephone conversation between Ambassador Usackas and Russian opposition leader Kasyanov.

                        As UNIAN reported earlier, on February 1, Kremlin-backed Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov published in his Instagram a video, which showed leader of the Parnas opposition party Mikhail Kasyanov. In this video, a filter was used, showing an image "through a sniper's crosshairs."

                        Leaders of the Parnas opposition party Mikhail Kasyanov and Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr. said the video was an "incitement to murder."
                        http://www.unian.info/world/1252914-...pposition.html

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                        • Merkel tells Putin Russia must 'use its influence' to bring an end to east Ukraine conflict
                          UT UKRAINE TODAY VIDEO

                          Merkel says no grounds for lifting sanctions whilst Minsk peace deal unfulfilled

                          Berlin says German Chancellor Angela Merkel is urging Russian President Vladimir Putin to help bring an end to the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

                          The two leaders spoke by phone. Merkel says Putin should use his influence with Kremlin-backed separatist forces to secure a political solution.

                          This comes a day after Merkel met Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

                          At a joint briefing Merkel said there are no grounds for lifting sanctions on Russia.

                          Germany and France brokered a peace deal for eastern Ukraine almost one year ago. Kyiv and Moscow accuse each other of failing to fulfil its requirements.
                          Merkel tells Putin Russia must 'use its influence' to bring an end to east Ukraine conflict - watch on - uatoday.tv

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                          • Wikipedia Ukraine Gains 1,000 New Pages in Three Days
                            NEWSWEEK Damien Sharkov 2/2/16

                            A push to increase Ukrainian-language content on online encyclopedia Wikipedia has resulted in over 1,000 new pages being created in the space of three days, independent news agency Interfax has reported.

                            The preservation of the Ukrainian language has been a priority of the Ukrainian government since toppling pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in early 2014. While Russian is widely spoken in eastern Ukraine and Crimea and was promoted across the country when it was a Soviet Republic, Ukrainian is the only official language in the country today.

                            According to the spokeswoman of Wikimedia Ukraine, Elena Zaharyan, January marked three different anniversaries for Wikipedia, including the 15th anniversary of the site, the 12th anniversary of the site being translated into Ukrainian and the eighth anniversary of the site being translated for the Ukrainian Muslim minority known as the Crimean Tatar.

                            A push to increase Ukrainian-language content on online encyclopedia Wikipedia has resulted in over 1,000 new pages being created in the space of three days, independent news agency Interfax has reported.

                            The preservation of the Ukrainian language has been a priority of the Ukrainian government since toppling pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in early 2014. While Russian is widely spoken in eastern Ukraine and Crimea and was promoted across the country when it was a Soviet Republic, Ukrainian is the only official language in the country today.

                            According to the spokeswoman of Wikimedia Ukraine, Elena Zaharyan, January marked three different anniversaries for Wikipedia, including the 15th anniversary of the site, the 12th anniversary of the site being translated into Ukrainian and the eighth anniversary of the site being translated for the Ukrainian Muslim minority known as the Crimean Tatar.
                            http://www.newsweek.com/wikipedia-uk...ee-days-422107

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                            • Ukrainian students storm Chernivtsi city council to protest proposed university merger
                              UT UKRAINE TODAY Feb. 2, 2016

                              Activists demanding their college not be joined to a major university

                              Hundreds of university students from Chernivtsi in West Ukraine are protesting merger plans.

                              The matter came to a head when dozens of people stormed the city council as it was in session. Demonstrators demand their college not be combined with the major state university in Chernivtsi.

                              One activist says: "We believe that this isn't right because we weren't informed about this decision. And we want to protest this. We are launching an electronic petition, we need to collect 25,000 signatures so the president intervenes."

                              Following a standoff which lasted several hours local deputies agreed to hold a meeting with government officials on the matter.
                              Ukrainian students storm Chernivtsi city council to protest proposed university merger - watch on - uatoday.tv

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                              • Russia puts five former US officials on blacklist for alleged rights abuses - Moscow accused the US of ‘medieval torture’ in statement barring five Americans from entry as retaliation for US blacklisting of four Russians and a Ukrainian
                                THE GUARDIAN 2 February 2016

                                Russia has placed five Americans on a blacklist for alleged rights abuses, shortly after Washington added five persons to its sanctions list, accusing the United States of “medieval torture”.

                                In a response to the Monday blacklisting of four Russians and a Ukrainian under the Magnitsky Act, named after a Russian lawyer, Moscow banned entry to five former US officials, including former prosecutor general Alberto Gonzales, the foreign ministry said.

                                “We must remind that it was the United States that officially legalised and actively used medieval torture in the beginning of the 21st century,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

                                Besides Gonzales, it blacklisted former US undersecretary of defense Douglas Feith, CIA lawyer John Rizzo, former assistant attorney general Jay Scott Bybee and former general counsel of the department of defense William James Haynes II.

                                They would be barred from entering Russia “as a response to Washington’s anti-Russian policy,” the ministry said.

                                It also pointed out “current American problems like police violence with racial undertones and a penitentiary system that is far from perfect, something Washington should address first”.

                                Sergei Magnitsky was arrested after pointing out a fraud scam perpetrated by high-placed officials, and died in a Moscow jail in 2009, unleashing an international scandal.

                                Moscow, however, denied that his arrest and death was a corruption cover-up and on Tuesday once again accused Washington of “hypocrisy”, advising that it should solve its own problems before accusing Russia.Russia puts five former US officials on blacklist for alleged rights abuses | World news | The Guardian

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