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  • VOICE OF AMERICA Isabela Cocoli Feb 03, 2016 2:19 PM
    Ukrainian Economy Minister Resigns; West Deeply Disappointed

    Ukraine's economy minister tendered his resignation Wednesday, citing political pressure and corruption.

    Aivaras Abromavicius said the country’s leadership had routinely blocked his reform efforts and that the economy ministry was at the mercy of corrupt vested interests.

    "Neither me, nor my team have any desire to serve as a cover-up for the covert corruption, or become puppets for those who, very much like the 'old' government, are trying to exercise control over the flow of public funds," he said.

    The Lithuanian-born Abromavicius said Ukraine needed a total reset of power. Referring to ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, he said the country's present state is “not just because of Yanukovych,” but because of “the total lack of reform over 20 years.”

    President Petro Poroshenko said Wednesday that Abromavicius should remain in his post and push ahead with reforms. But the president has no direct say over cabinet appointments.

    In announcing his resignation, Abromavicius said Igor Kononenko, a Poroshenko ally in Ukraine's parliament, had lobbied to have loyalists appointed to key positions in state-owned enterprises, and even to the post of deputy economy minister.

    Speaking to Ukraine's Espreso TV channel Espreso, Kononenko categorically denied Abromavicius' accusations and said he would resign if they were proven.

    Ukraine's anti-corruption bureau said it would investigate Abromavicius' accusations against Kononenko.

    Abromavicius's resignation may be reviewed by parliament as early as Thursday.

    A group of ten ambassadors, including those from the United States, Britain and Canada, said in an open letter that they were “deeply disappointed” by Abromavicius' resignation.

    “During the past year, Abromavicius and his professional team have made important strides -- implementing tough but necessary economic reforms to help stabilize Ukraine’s economy, root out endemic corruption, bring Ukraine into compliance with its IMF (International Monetary Fund) program obligations, and promote more openness and transparency in government,” the ambassadors wrote.

    “Ukraine’s stable, secure and prosperous future will require the sustained efforts of a broad and inclusive team of dedicated professionals who put the Ukrainian peoples' interests above their own.”

    Abromavicius, a former investment banker, advocated deregulation and wide-scale privatization in Ukraine.

    He was appointed to the cabinet 14 months ago along with other political newcomers from the private sector, including U.S.-born Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko. Ukrainian Economy Minister Resigns; West Deeply Disappointed

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    • A year of reforms in Ukraine. The best, the worst, and why they are so slow
      EUROMAIDAN PRESS 2016/02/04 Analysis & Opinion, Economy

      Despite complaints and accusations in betrayal from Ukrainians and foreign experts, reforms took place in Ukraine in 2015. Some of them are already successful and some could be if they were brought to life.

      During 2015, VoxUkraine together with partner organizations (Interfax-Ukraine, Case Ukraine, Dixi Group, Baker Tilly Group, Center for Economic Strategy) and a team of over 20 experts regularly evaluated progress on economic reforms as part of the Reform Monitoring Index – IMORE. This year, more than 300 laws, orders, and other regulations that had signs of economic reforms (or anti-reforms) which were aimed at changing rules and structural changes were evaluated. Each event is judged by a five point scale.

      The results show the highest activity of reform-related processes was the beginning of 2015. However, the pace of reforms is not the same for different fields of economic life. The graph below, produced by Ekonomichna Pravda, shows actions which lead to the most progress in five fields: fighting corruption, deregulation, banking sector, energy independence, and budget policy. Key events ranking from 3 points and up on the IMORE scale are shown.

      The best and worst reform measures of 2015

      The reform that set gas tariffs to an economically justifiable level was the most important reform in 2015. It received the largest number of points.

      Fighting corruption

      Law on electronic public procurement passed – To plug the $2.3 bn that dissapears in the black hole of Ukraine’s public procurement system, a full-service electronic system for tenders was created by the Economic Ministry. Losses through public procurement are one of the main channels through which black cash gets into the economy. More>>

      Law passed on creation of open online property registry – Online state registers of company ownership and real estate ownership enable the public to conduct a full search for owners, giving gives civil society powerful tools for monitoring the activity of officials, with an eye to signs of unlawful enrichment.

      Law on the national police passed – created based on the Georgian model, this law aims to renew Ukraine’s corrupt police ranks. 47,000 officers who were unable to pass a competency test were fired.

      Deputies are required to make asset declarations public – deputies of Ukraine’s Parliament are required to make public information about their property and income.

      Certification on some markets was cancelled – basically, all deregulatory reforms also work towards minimizing corruption. Canceling compulsory certification for gas and some produce decreases paperwork and expenditures of producers.
      Bank sector

      Banks are required to open information on ownership. Many banks in Ukraine could have been referred to as “pocket banks” – owned by non-banking business groups, they often served as conversion centers for their ultimate beneficiaries, while also allegedly misusing refinancing loans provided by the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU). Legislature requiring banks to disclose the ownership structure decreased the number of banks from 180 in early 2014 to 130 as of 1 June 2015. If the bank fails to do so, the NBU can take measures such as declaring the bank troubled, rejecting the refinancing of the bank, or refusing to grant a general foreign exchange license to the bank.

      Energy independence

      Energy tariffs increased for industry and population – Minimal gas tariffs for the population were increased by 3.3 times and electricity tariffs will be raised 3.5 times by 2017. Coupled with increased prices for industrial
      this was a long-awaited step away from Russia’s gas chokehold and inefficient energy usage.

      According to experts, the reform that set gas tariffs to an economically justifiable level was the most important reform in 2015. It received the largest number of points.

      Although this decision was very unpopular and painful from the social viewpoint, it solves some pressing problems: decreases chances for corruption, helps to reduce the budget deficit, and strengthens the energy independence of Ukraine’s economy.

      Law on the natural gas market – creates the framework for competition in the gas market.

      Only five laws received negative marks. Among them is the first version of the law “On State Budget for 2015,” which was later adjusted, the decision to limit the salaries of senior public officers (was canceled later), the moratorium on the export of timber and others.

      The rocky road from passing laws to implementing them

      Two reforms have already been brought to fruition after passing the regulatory act: increasing natural gas tariffs for the population and the introduction of a patrol police.

      After the political decision to bring gas tariffs to economically justified levels (which was unlikely to have been passed without the support of the IMF), its implementation was a technical matter. Unlike the gas tariffs reform, going from legislation to real life with the police reform cost a lot of efforts and its implementation still continues. However, many other reform initiatives that received the highest score from the experts of IMORE, faced difficulties in being implemented.

      The act on strengthening responsibility of banks owners by opening information on bank ownership. The law provides criminal penalties (up to 5 years of restriction of freedom) for owners of significant amount of shares and bank top-managers for bring the bank into bankruptcy if the amount of losses to the state or the lender has exceeded UAH 170,000 (USD 6,589.15).

      During the past two years over 60 banks were removed from the market, some of these banks existed only for white-washing of money or for tax minimization. Nevertheless, a mass prosecution of owners or managers of banks is not observed, apparently because many of them are close not only to the previous, but also to the current government.

      The law On natural gas market reform from the so-called IMF package was adopted in April 2015. The law provides creating competitive conditions in the gas market, according to EU rules. However, regulations for the implementation of this law have been released by The National Committee on State Regulations in Energetics and Public Service only now. But according to Director of Business Development of Naftogaz, these acts rather restrict competition than create favorable working conditions for regional gas companies.

      Who wants reforms in Ukraine?

      Although experts have named some fields as “the most progressive” and most regulations were evaluated positively, society faces difficulty in noticing change. Like, for example, with the case of corruption – it shows that a large amount of laws and regulations doesn’t guarantee that the actions described on paper are done on practice. Also, even reforms which are successful at first glance reveal their weak points in a few months – like it was with the police reform. Usually the old system resists in all ways possible. Another reason for the slow pace of implementing reforms is that in all cases the interests of those who are in power are compromised, and they do not allow changes to happen. The way forward is difficult. Society feels on practice that there are not so many supporters of real changes as it may have seemed just after Euromaidan. Namely, they are:

      --a part of civic society (people who wants to live in Ukraine which is governed by the law and not by the powers that be);
      --a small part of the political and state apparatus (which belongs to either this civic society or comes from outside Ukraine)
      --international creditors and donors (because the more countries of the world are prosperous and predictable, the less problems, including security problems, will the “rich club” countries face.

      The largest part of society resists reforms – because of the fear of the unknown, possible material losses, or simple laziness.

      This means that changes will not be fast. But this also means that the abovementioned beneficiaries of reforms need to unite their efforts and act more by brains that brute force. And step by step increase the territory of “Europe in Ukraine.”
      A year of reforms in Ukraine. The best, the worst, and why they are so slow -Euromaidan Press |
      Source: Abridged from Ekonomichna Pravda

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      • The Pentagon’s Top Threat? Russia

        The Pentagon has put Russia at the top of its list of national security threats with its plan to increase the deployment of heavy weapons, armored vehicles and troops on rotating assignment to NATO countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

        In a speech on Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter listed a hierarchy of threats to the United States, which included China, North Korea, Iran and finally, the fight against terrorism. But his primary focus was Russia.

        While he makes a good case for deterring Russian aggression, his proposal to quadruple military spending in Europe in 2017 to $3.4 billion from $789 million seems excessive and raises questions about whether other immediate threats, like the Islamic State, are getting short shrift.

        It is undeniable that Russia has become openly aggressive under President Vladimir Putin, who has violated sovereign borders by annexing Crimea and stoking civil war in Ukraine. A cease-fire in Ukraine was declared last year, but Russian forces still maintain a presence in eastern Ukraine, raising questions about whether Russia might try to extend its reach to the Baltic States.

        There are other concerns as well. Russia has built a web of complex missile defenses that increasingly threaten NATO’s military access to airspace in parts of Europe, including one-third of the skies of Poland. Similar Russian missile buildups are underway in Crimea and in Syria, where the Russians have beefed up their air campaign on behalf of the Assad government.

        Given the Russian moves, it’s important that the United States and NATO allies reinforce their commitment to the common defense, especially at a time when Europe is under great stress from the flow of Syrians and other refugees and the rise of anti-immigrant right-wing political parties.

        Over the past two years, the United States has already increased its military exercises and rotation of forces in Europe. Mr. Carter’s new plan would ensure that the alliance can maintain a full armored combat brigade, roughly 5,000 troops, in the region at all times, including in Hungary, Romania and the Baltic countries. Under a 1997 agreement, NATO and Russia agreed not to permanently station troops or nuclear weapons on each other’s borders. The Americans say the plan would not violate this pledge because the troops will rotate, even though the effect will be a constant presence.

        The increased American investment sends a message to Mr. Putin and provides leverage to demand that other NATO countries do more to increase their own defense budgets. But the sheer size of the spending increase seems like a return to the Pentagon’s blank-check ways during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

        Even though the United States spends more on defense than the next seven countries combined, the Pentagon has been chafing under budget cuts. In fact, the increased money for European defense is supposed to come from a war account that pays for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which allows the administration to get around budget caps.

        Deterring Russia is essential. But this initiative seems like a reversion back to what the Pentagon has traditionally done — prepare to fight big wars with ever more costly weapons against adversaries like Russia. Threats from the Islamic State and other terrorist groups are messier and harder to predict. America must be able to confront both, but it is unclear that Mr. Carter’s plan gets the balance right.

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        • Sex, lies and psychological scars: inside Ukraine's human trafficking crisis

          Desperate to find work, they leave home on the promise of a job only to be ushered into a life of forced labour and abuse. Two Ukrainian women reveal the trauma of trafficking and how a secret hospital is helping them rebuild their lives
          THE GUARDIAN Maxim Tucker in Kiev 4 Feb 2016 02.00 EST
          The hospital where Dr Olga Milinchuk works has no sign outside and no waiting rooms. The address is a closely guarded secret, as are the identities of her patients. With a team of 18 specialists, she spends every day repairing the shattered lives and minds of victims of Ukraine’s longest-running crisis – endemic human trafficking.

          When Milinchuk opened this rehabilitation centre in 2002, under the auspices of the International Organisation of Migration (IOM), it was dealing almost exclusively with young women who had returned home after escaping sex trafficking. Today, her patients are men and women of all ages who crossed a border on the promise of a job, but found themselves on a journey into forced labour, abuse and debt bondage.

          Milinchuk, who has treated about 2,000 people at the centre, estimates that 95% of her patients are victims of labour trafficking. They come with gastric and intestinal diseases from malnourishment, sexually transmitted diseases, and psychiatric problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

          “The youngest was three years old, trafficked to Poland for work begging with her mother and five-year-old sister,” she says.

          Forced labour is difficult to detect. Traffickers deceive victims into travelling without valid visas, keep workers trapped in debt bondage and reliant on their employers for food and accommodation, or stop unpaid workers from leaving through violence and intimidation.

          “They take a mother with two children, then lock one child away so that when the mother is out begging, the traffickers know she will return for the other,” she says. “The mother had been promised a job in agriculture and was told to bring the children for kindergarten.”

          Trapped in conflict with Russia and weakened by decades of government mismanagement, Ukraine is suffering a deepening economic malaise. It is the second poorest country in Europe by GDP; only its tiny neighbour Moldova is poorer.

          “The economic crisis is now so deep we see so many people are willing to accept any offer, risky offers, just for the chance to work abroad,” says Hanna Antonova, the IOM’s counter-trafficking programme coordinator in Ukraine.

          The country has long been a regional trafficking hub. The IOM estimates that more than 160,000 people have been trafficked from the country since independence in 1991.

          “Ukrainians have traditionally used migration as a survival strategy. You can make more as a nanny or a construction worker in Russia than as a teacher or doctor in Ukraine,” Antonova explains.

          An estimated 2.7 million people have fled their homes to escape conflict with pro-Russian separatists (pdf). Traffickers prey on them, with police intercepting dozens of displaced people in the hands of traffickers en route to Germany, Russia, Belarus, Poland and Israel. The inflated currency is pushing millions of people into destitution. Thousands are trying to find work abroad – by whatever means possible. According to a 2015 survey commissioned by the IOM, 41% of Ukrainians working abroad are doing so illegally – compared with 28% in 2011. That puts them at the mercy of criminals.

          Milinchuk says she has treated a 21-year-old daughter sold by her mother to a Turkish brothel and a 50-year-old mother with disabilities sold by her son to beg in Russia.

          Former patients say the hospital saved their lives. Olya, a 52-year-old survivor from a small town in central Ukraine, travelled to Moscow with a friend in 2013 on the promise of a job selling Chinese products in a market. The salary seemed credible – $600 (£410) a month plus room and board.

          On arriving, Olya says they were met by a man named Rahid, who took them to a warehouse where they were asked to sort clothes. He took their passports “to copy them” and introduced them to their employer.

          “When we saw the conditions, we were shocked,” Olya recalls. “He locked us in the warehouse and we ate only doughnuts and fried hot dogs. We slept there on sacks and bags. There was no fresh air, no place to wash ourselves.”

          The group told their employer they wanted to leave and asked for their money.

          “He drove us outside the city,” she says. “There was an abandoned territory – I guess it had been a factory, surrounded by a fence with barbed wire. The gate was closed but when the bus arrived, two guards came out. They were huge and had guns.

          “The first night we didn’t sleep. The guards said we had to go with them. They took me and another girl. We didn’t want to go but they forced us. We were powerless before such huge men.”

          For almost two months Olya says she worked 18-hour days, bottling, packing and loading vodka from the plant’s illegal stills. “There were moments I asked for vodka. I drank it to relieve the stress,” she says.

          Eventually, police raided the factory and the guards told them to run. Olya fled into a forest and spent the next few weeks hitchhiking and hiding on trains. When she finally arrived home, all she could bring herself to tell her husband was that she hadn’t been paid: “I wanted to tell him but I was afraid of consequences. … I just prayed to God that I didn’t have any diseases.”

          A local NGO put her in touch with the IOM hospital. They treated Olya’s stomach and back problems, and her depression.

          “This rehabilitation really helped me. I don’t know how my life would [have been] if I had stayed at home, shut in and thinking about that all the time. I think I would [have gone] mad,” she says.

          Nadia, another of the centre’s patients, also credits the hospital with saving her life. She was recruited by a trafficker on the promise of work caring for an elderly woman in Moscow. Nadia and the three women with whom she had travelled were kept in a house, beaten, underfed, sexually harassed and forced into domestic servitude.
          ‘I carried his name on my body for nine years’: the tattooed trafficking survivors reclaiming their past
          Read more

          “We worked there for six months until we were too thin and worn out. Then they said that we were ‘used goods’,” she says. “They gave us 2,000 roubles [£18.70] to get home.”

          “I had grey hair when I came back,” she says. “Then … they examined me, treated me and now I feel better. I thought it was heaven after hell … they just dragged me out of that depression.”

          The patients are usually from the most vulnerable sectors of Ukrainian society – with limited education and few opportunities. The rehabilitation centre not only treats their trauma, but trains them in vocational skills to make them more employable.

          “Sometimes I see a person in the street and they recognise me but I don’t recognise them,” Milinchuk says. “Even if I’m related to a difficult experience for them, they’re happy to see me and say some warm words. That’s a great source of support.”
          Sex, lies and psychological scars: inside Ukraine's human trafficking crisis | Maxim Tucker | Global development | The Guardian

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          • Reactions to Abromavicius’ resignation
            KYIV POST Isobel Koshiw Feb 04, 2016

            Editor’s note: Following are reactions to the Feb. 3 resignation of Economy Minister Aivaras Abromavicius, a Lithuania-born former investment banker who was appointed to the post 14 months ago.

            President Petro Poroshenko, writing on Facebook:
            “I think that Aivaras should remain minister and continue reforms. He has time left to think it over. Everything that Abromavicius announced today should be investigated by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau as the newly independent body. Igor Kononenko addressed the NACB and said he was ready to cooperate with it.”

            Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told the Cabinet:
            “As the prime minister it’s my job to protect each member of government. The situation at the moment is not very easy for everyone. But our strength is in continuing to fight. In this situation, to resign is like running from the battlefield.”

            Ihor Kononenko, deputy head of Bloc Petro Poroshenko, told journalists in parliament:
            “Ukrtransammiak – this is not just a strange situation, this is a criminal situation because the enterprise is still headed by Victor Bondyk who worked with the (ex-President Viktor) Yanukovych ‘Family.’ The Ministry of Interior has opened a number of criminal proceedings against Bondyk. Why hasn’t the Ministry of Economy and Trade removed him from his position and looked for a replacement... I discussed this topic with Abromavicius and directed his attention to the fact that there are complaints about this man that he cooperated with the previous regime…This is some sort of paradoxical situation.”

            Gizo Uglava, deputy head of National Anti-Corruption Bureau, told Novoye Vremya magazine:
            “We are right now, today, registering the criminal proceedings of this case. A public statement by the minister is enough for that. And we will begin our investigation.”

            Joint statement issued by ambassadors of G7 nations, as well as Sweden, Switzerland, and Lithuania:
            “We are deeply disappointed by the resignation of Minister for Economic Development and Trade, Aivaras Abromavičius, who has delivered real reform results for Ukraine... It is important that Ukraine's leaders set aside their parochial differences, put the vested interests that have hindered the country's progress for decades squarely in the past, and press forward on vital reforms.”

            Anton Gerashenko, People’s Front lawmaker and adviser to the Ministry of Interior, wrote on Facebook:
            “I will not vote for the resignation of Aivaras Abromavicius and I will convince my colleagues in the People’s Front faction to do the same.”

            Mikhail Saakashvili, governor of Odesa Oblast, wrote on Facebook:
            “Yesterday I spoke with Aivaras Abromavicius for a long time and he told me many interesting things. Is not it sad that Lithuanians and Georgians forced to take over the function of defense of the country from some dishonest ethnic Ukrainian, who broke into power? I hope on Feb. 16, the Rada will find the strength not only to dismiss the government, but also to ensure that the next government is fully protected from the shadow of interests of the president, prime minister or any other faction.”

            Sasha Borovik, adviser to Odesa Oblast governor and former first deputy economy minister, wrote on Facebook:
            “If what Aivaras says is the truth and if he finds evidence, then Kononenko will have to give up his mandate. If the (deputy) leader of the largest faction leaves – it will cause a serious constitutional crisis, the nation would not trust either People’s Front or Bloc Petro Poroshenko, and the other parties are too weak to form their own government.”

            Ihor Shevchenko, former environment minister, wrote on Facebook:
            “Shevchenko (I), (Konstiantyn) Lykarchuk, (Alexander) Kvitashvili, (Andriy) Pyvovarsky, (Volodymyr) Shulmeister, (Volodymyr) Omelyan, (Oleksiy) Pavlenko, and Abromavicius...Do you get the logic? For those in power though that would be a pretty screen (for corruption). A screen under the name “Technocrats” with good reputations, a Western education, a history of success in business. A screen from behind which they will continue to cut into the budget, receive kickbacks, rob the state enterprises.”

            Pavlo Sheremeta, former minister of economy, told Novoye Vremya magazine:
            “Right now this is a watershed moment for the country's leadership – to demonstrate what it means to ‘live in a new way.’ I’ve been waiting for their reaction for several hours – it still hasn’t come.”

            Joint statement by self-styled ‘EuroOptimists’ on Facebook:
            (Represented by the following lawmakers: Svitlana Zalishchuk, Mustafa Nayyem, Oleksiy Mushak, Alex Ryabchyn, Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Alyona Shrum, Andriy Vadatursky, Hanna Hopko Victoria Voytsitska, Nataliya Katser-Buchkovska, Victoria Ptashnyk Sergey Leshcehnko)

            “We express our support to the Minister... We appeal to the Verkhovna Rada speaker, Volodymyr Hroisman, to call the minister of economic development and trade, Aivaras Abromavicius, to parliament to publicize corruption within the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade.”

            Sergey Leshchenko, Bloc of President Petro Poroshenko lawmaker and former investigative journalist, told the Financial Times:
            “At the very least, Poroshenko is deaf to information about corruption. He will only act when society forces him to do it.”

            Hlib Vyashlinsky, ‎executive director at Centre for Economic Strategy, wrote on Facebook:
            “Mr. Kononenko, you say he’s a bad minister? Why then after he announces his resignation does the price of Ukrainian eurobonds start to fall?”

            Timothy Ash, dead of Central Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa credit strategy for Nomura International, via email:
            “I still cannot see early elections – as likely suicide for the two main ruling parties, and just working to the advantage of the opposition (in and out of the ruling coalition), and likely Russia. But I guess this is Ukraine, where there are always a lot of things going on under the radar, in backrooms, and where oligarchic business interests always seem to come out on top – and that is the problem.”

            Anders Aslund, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, via email:
            “In effect, Abromavicius has turned the table on Kononenko, who publicly called for Abromavicius' resignation two days earlier…. Regardless of whether Abromavicius stays or goes, this domestic political crisis is likely to have major repercussions. Recently, Kononenko has been trying to oust the most reform-minded ministers and replace them with his own people. This scandal could stop his advance or even break the coalition in parliament.”

            Taras Berezovets, director of Berta Communications political consultancy, wrote on Facebook:
            “Yesterday I met Aivaras Abromavicius peacefully dining in a well-known Kyiv restaurant with Mikhail Saakashvili... Now I understand the subject of the meeting. The other curious thing was the minister was holding consultations on the eve of his resignation with the governor (Saakashvili), who is engaged in creating a new political force in anticipation of the early parliamentary elections in September.”

            Andy Hunder, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine, via email:
            “Thank You Aivaras and team for your admirable achievements over the past year. Hoping that they will stay on and continue fighting the poisonous corruption. A clash of the old and new, no turning back.”

            The European Business Association in Ukraine, wrote on Facebook:
            “Pity to read the news, especially sorry to acknowledge the reasons behind Aivaras’ decision to resign. It just once again confirms the urgent need to efficiently fight corruption and bring results to society.”

            Vitaliy Shabunin, chairman of the Anti-Corruption Action Center, told Novoye Vremya:
            “There is one problem: this level of corruption is difficult to document…We must do covert investigations which needs permission from the Rada when it concerns lawmakers. The results from these investigations will be zero, for a member of parliament knows that he is being tapped.”

            Timofiy Milovanov, associate professor at University of Pittsburgh and Editor at, wrote on Facebook:
            “I want to live in a good, prosperous, fair country. I despise those people who pull the country backwards… Now it is clear who lives in the past and who lives in the future. I respect Aivaras. He is my hero.” Reactions to Abromavicius’ resignation

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            • Shocking resignation
              04.02.2016 | 09:40 UNIAN

              The resignation of one of the Ukrainian government's most important actors – Minister of Economic Development and Trade Aivaras Abromavicius – is a hard blow to the international image of Ukraine.

              On Wednesday, February 3, Ukraine’s Economy Minister Aivaras Abromavicius stunned the public with the announcement of his resignation, stressing that the key reason for this move was a conflict with the Deputy Head of the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko parliamentary faction Ihor Kononenko. "As a representative of a political force that nominated me to the post of minister, he has done a lot recently in order to block my work and the work of my team," said the minister.

              Among other things, Abromavicius claimed that Kononenko actively lobbied his protégés for the post of CEO Ukrtranshimamiak state holding, people he controls lobbied for various appointments to Derzhzovnishinform state company, powder metallurgy enterprises, and the National Accreditation Agency.

              The culmination of the lawlessness in personnel issues and desire to fully subdue [the money] flows was the will to have his [Kononenko’s] "own" deputy minister in the Ministry of Economy, who would be responsible for Naftogaz and other state-owned enterprises. The applicant presented a full package of documents for his appointment and said: "I want to be your deputy. I’m in Kononenko’s team, and my candidacy has been agreed above." Then I received a call from Presidential Administration with an insistent recommendation to accept this person, and also another one - as deputy for defense issues. To which I replied: "I will not be part of this bargaining," and asked to be released from office.

              "Eventually, Kononenko said he wants to hear my report at a faction meeting and consider my resignation. I decided to facilitate the task of Kononenko and his team, so I submitted a resignation letter," said Abromavicius.

              The minister said that "Neither I, nor my team is are not ready to serve as a cover for renovation of the old schemes and creation of the new ones for the benefit of individual political and business players… Me and my team, we are ready to go immediately. I am asking the parliament to vote for my resignation tomorrow [on February 4]," he said.

              Following the announcement, his deputies have also filed for resignation: Yulia Klymenko, Natalia Mykolska and Maksym Nefyodov.

              At the same time, Ihor Kononenko denied Abromavicius’ accusations calling them an attempt to shift the responsibility for the ministry’s failures. He stressed that neither verbally nor in writing did he communicate with the minister with respect to any appointments, claiming that he also did not send anybody to mediate on these issues.

              However, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine launched a criminal investigation into the facts stated by Abromavicius, under Part 2 Art. 364 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (abuse of authority or position in power), according to the NABU statement.

              The detectives are to search for the evidence of the alleged interference in the work of the ministry by the first deputy leader of the BPP faction Ihor Kononenko and some other MPs.

              “Black spot” from the West

              The statement by Aivaras Abromavicius sparked an unprecedented reaction in the Ukrainian society and abroad. Like a bolt from the blue came a joint statement of the nine ambassadors in Ukraine (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States): “We are deeply disappointed by the resignation of Minister for Economic Development and Trade, Aivaras Abromavicius, who has delivered real reform results for Ukraine. During the past year, Abromavicius and his professional team have made important strides – implementing tough but necessary economic reforms to help stabilize Ukraine's economy, root out endemic corruption, bring Ukraine into compliance with its IMF program obligations, and promote more openness and transparency in government.”

              "It is important that Ukraine's leaders set aside their parochial differences, put the vested interests that have hindered the country's progress for decades squarely in the past, and press forward on vital reforms," the diplomats said.

              European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has also said that she is upset with Abromavicius’ resignation: "He did an important job to fight corruption."

              The EU is “very concerned that the people who aimed to change the system, start reforms and reach the point of no return are now leaving their posts," said Jan Tombinski, head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine.

              The expert at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer said that the decision by Abromavicius to resign as Economy Minister is a “major blow for reform in Ukraine.” “9 ambassadors' statement makes clear West's concern,” he tweeted.

              In general, Ukraine’s Western partners have called the shocking resignation a signal that is "not encouraging." At the same time, diplomats insist that the country's reforms must continue.

              Roughly speaking, dozens of the ringing bells from the West that corruption has not gone anywhere despite “serious fight” against it in Ukraine turned into a one clear signal to the Ukrainian authorities to finally stop their undercover games and get to work. Otherwise, Ukraine should not expect either political or financial support from the international community.

              A battle of European and Soviet attitudes

              The situation with the resignation of Abromavicius means that "we still need to accomplish a lot in the fight against corruption," according to the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Volodymyr Ohryzko. He noted that "proposals have already been voiced of lifting the mandates of certain well-known individuals." "This is a real struggle of a new European style with the Soviet one, and it is ongoing. And what happened today, is another evidence of this," he said.

              According to the diplomat, if the ongoing consultations at the highest level end up in Abromavicius leaving his post, this will mean that "conditions for Ukraine’s normal economic development are missing." However, according to Ohryzko, he has the feeling that "not everything is lost yet."

              In turn, the director of the Institute of socio-political engineering “Dialog,” Andriy Miselyuk, notes that the today’s scandal reveals two serious problems of reformatting the government, and the main one is the pressure of the President's team on the Cabinet. "The system, for which Viktor Yanukovych was criticized, has successfully survived the collapse of his regime, and it’s alive today,” said the analyst.

              In other words, representatives of the centers of power, one of which is a pro-presidential faction in parliament, dictate to the government managers how they should work, thus preventing them from being effective. "In fact, it was Kononenko who declared last year that the tasks of the ministers must first be approved, and only then should the nominees be selected. And now it turns out that, ignoring the fundamental principle of action of the ministers and managers of large state-owned enterprises, Kononenko is trying to appoint his protégés to such positions. Therefore it is obvious that the process of reformatting the Cabinet has systemic problems," said Miselyuk.

              "The current scandal indicates that that reformatting the government will be accompanied by [other,] sufficiently serious, scandals," the expert said.

              This opinion is shared by the political scientist, Director of the Institute of Global Strategies Vadym Karasyov. According to him, there is an ongoing struggle of various groups of influence in the presidential team. Conventionally, a business wing, which includes Ihor Kononenko, and technocratic wing, defending technocratic ministers (Natalie Jaresko, Oleksiy Pavlenko, and Aivaras Abromavicius), wage a real backstage war around the formation of a new government.

              The political analyst reminded that, until the resignation is accepted by the Verkhovna Rada, it is not completed. "Most likely, there is a warning behind this announcement of resignation, aimed to calm down the appetite of different businesses and parties in the process of shaping the new government," he said.

              This is confirmed by the fact that, despite Poroshenko’s official reaction coming only later on Wednesday evening, the president said he believes Abromavicius should remain on post and continue implementing reforms. I believe that Aivaras [Abromavicius] should remain in office and continue reform. He's left to think it over," the president said after a personal meeting with the Economy Minister.

              Poroshenko stressed that the facts voiced by Abromavicius must be investigated by the newly-created and independent National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU). “Ihor Kononenko has got into contact with the NABU and informed he was ready to cooperate. This was confirmed by the Bureau’s top officers," the president said.

              "The sooner the society will get answers to the questions, the better," Poroshenko added.

              However, the whole Ukrainian political beau monde should seriously think about what is happening. While political bargaining and distribution of “lucrative” positions is discussed only within the Ukrainian society, the government is not really afraid of losing face. Once the scandal goes beyond the Ukrainian threshold, the face is lost immediately. That's what happened today. The statements of the ambassadors and diplomats are not just "concern" over the fate of an individual minister. Such statements are a signal that the State of Ukraine has zero credibility.
              Shocking resignation : UNIAN news

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              • 09:53 04.02.2016 INTERFAX-UKRAINE
                Economy ministry's reforms to be continued

                Ukrainian authorities fully supports reforms for which the Economic Development and Trade Ministry of Ukraine is responsible, presidential representative at the Cabinet of Ministers Oleksandr Danyliuk has said.

                "I've talked to key partner IFIs [international financial institutions]. The main message is that the reforms for which the Economic Development and Trade Ministry is responsible will be continued. They are all reflected in programme documents and are fully backed by Ukrainian authorities," he wrote on his Facebook page.

                Danyliuk also said that the splash caused by a statement of Economic Development and Trade Minister Aivaras Abromavicius is swelling and affects the country's image and its internal stability. He said that Abromavicius feeling the pressure regarding staff appointments should have used his veto right.

                According to earlier reports, Abromavicius told a briefing conference in Kyiv on Wednesday that he had decided to resign amid the lack of support and due to the intense resistance to the reforms pursued by his team.

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                • International monitors report sharp rise in truce violations in eastern Ukraine
                  UT UKRAINE TODAY Feb. 4, 2016

                  OSCE: 'We see a rapid deterioration of the security situation'

                  International monitors in eastern Ukraine are reporting a sharp rise in truce violations between government troops and Russian-backed separatist forces. A peace deal signed last year in Minsk appears to be increasingly fragile.

                  Alexander Hug, Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine: "The OSCE special monitoring mission is at the moment much concerned about the developments over the past days, we see in particular on the Donetsk side of the security zone a rapid deterioration of the security situation, with an incredible amount of ceasefire violations that we have registered. They reached over thousands in different places on different days."

                  The Minsk peace accords call for freedom of movement for OSCE monitors. That's something the organisation says is not being respected.

                  Alexander Hug, Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine: "The freedom of movement is particularly restricted and prevented on the area not controlled by the government. Over 90 percent of the incidents there occur in areas not controlled by the government. These ins tances are at times very aggressive."

                  The OSCE mission's chief accuses the Russian-backed forces of a cover-up. This comes amid repeated claims from Ukraine that Russia is still sending weapons and fighters into occupied territories.

                  Alexander Hug, Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine: "This is a clear restriction of our mandate, a clear violation of the Minsk agreement, and it is only one reason why those who restrict our freedom of movement don't want to let our patrols go farther, its because they do not want these patrols to see what is going on beyond the point they are restricted from moving forward."

                  Ukraine says it is respecting the truce and only returns fire when under attack. A military spokesman says heavy weapons pulled back from the frontline could be re-deployed.

                  Andriy Lysenko, Ukraine National Security and Defence Council spokesman: "If we face the situation of an enemy attack, we have all the means and power to stop him. For that reason we are conducting special drills in storage areas of withdrawn heavy military equipment. Heavy armoured vehicles are ready to move at any moment to the front positions to stop a possible enemy attack."

                  Fighting began in eastern Ukraine in April 2014 after Moscow's annexed the Crimean Peninsula. The conflict has claimed the lives of some 9,000 people. International monitors report sharp rise in truce violations in eastern Ukraine - watch on -

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                  • 4 Russian generals killed in Syria: media
                    04.02.2016 | 11:20 UNIAN

                    Fifteen pro-regime military officials -- including four Russian generals -- have been killed by opposition forces in northwestern Syria near the border with Turkey, Syrian opposition sources told Anadolu Agency Wednesday.

                    According to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the slain military officials included four Russian generals and four Syrian generals who had met late Tuesday in Turkmen Mountain -- located in Syria’s northern Latakia region -- to discuss recent military developments.

                    One of the slain Russian generals, identified only as "Yuri", was reportedly coordinating regime attacks in Turkmen Mountain, the sources added.

                    In a statement issued later in the day, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed death of one Russian officer in Syria but did not mention his name or rank.

                    The statement said the officer was in Syria for "military consultancy on use of weapons" and was killed on Feb. 1 during an attack on a military post that belongs to the Syrian regime.

                    The statement blamed the attack on Daesh [Islamic State].

                    Predominantly Turkmen areas of northwestern Syria have been under attack by regime forces -- backed by Russian air power -- since November of last year.

                    Recent attacks in these areas have displaced thousands of Turkmen, a Turkic ethnic group concentrated mainly in Syria and Iraq, prompting many to seek refuge in southern Turkey.
                    4 Russian generals killed in Syria: media : UNIAN news

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                    • 'Russia's economic blockade of Ukraine has failed': Kyiv hails success of the new 'Silk Road'
                      UT UKRAINE TODAY Feb. 3, 2016

                      Transit route from Ukraine to China bypassing Russia attracting interest from EU states

                      Trade without the Kremlin continues. The Ukrainian government is upbeat about its new ‘Silk Road' transport route. It takes goods to China whilst bypassing Russia. A first test shipment took 15 days to reach its destination rather than the planned 11. But officials say all issues will quickly be resolved.

                      Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Prime Minister of Ukraine: "We've succeeded in launching the test shipment and in showing Russia that the economic and transit blockade of Ukraine will fail. And it has failed. Our trade partners have clearly demonstrated their willingness to build with Ukraine a new transit route."

                      Ukraine's new ‘Silk Road' begins at the port of Illichivsk. Goods travel via the Black Sea to Georgia and Azerbaijan before crossing the Caspian Sea. They then arrive in Kazakhstan and go cross-country before reaching China.

                      Ukrainian officials are in the process of promoting the route among European Union member states. Other countries could yet join. Negotiations with Poland and Austria are underway. Latvia, meanwhile, has already signed a memorandum of cooperation.
                      'Russia's economic blockade of Ukraine has failed': Kyiv hails success of the new 'Silk Road' - watch on -

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                      • The British are still asking if the Russians love their children, too
                        Meanwhile in Russia, on Thursday, February 4, 2016
                        0:11, 4 February 2016 MEDUZA

                        ---Another Russian soldier perished in definitely-not-combat in Syria this week.
                        ---Russia's 2015 “banker of the year” has been nominated for a top spot in the state's gas monopoly. (His bank lost $400 million last year, but his dad heads the Security Council.)
                        --Lawyers for Ukrainian POW Nadezhda Savchenko say they've got new evidence from the spooks in Kiev proving that she was kidnapped and transferred against her will into Russia.
                        ---There's a new TV show on British television. It depicts WWIII between Russia and NATO, and Russia's ambassador in Latvia is none too pleased.
                        ---The Russian Orthodox Church has ordered its clergy to watch their damned mouths on social media.
                        Russia may be the world's leading oil producer, but Moscow is poised to start buying oil from Iran, too. For reasons.
                        Moscow is accusing Turkey of plotting a secret invasion of Syria.

                        Another Russian soldier dies in Syria, but don't you dare say ‘KIA’
                        A Russian military advisor died earlier this week in Syria. According to a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, the soldier was fired upon while conducting training exercises with Syrian troops at an army base in Homs province. He was hospitalized and died a week later. Russian defense officials insist that the soldier wasn't participating in combat. (Moscow has vowed to limit its military intervention in Syria to airstrikes.)

                        Don't tell the Corruption Perceptions Index people about this one...
                        The son of Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia's Security Council, has been nominated for a seat on the board of directors at Gazprom, the state-owned gas giant. Kremlin officials told reporters that there's nothing “abnormal” about the children of senior government officials taking top posts at state-owned companies. Last year, the Association of Russian Banks named Patrushev's son “banker of the year,” though his bank, Rosselkhozbank, lost more than $400 million in the first three quarters of 2015, finishing the year as Russia's fourth-worst performing bank.

                        ‘The Wire’—season six
                        A lawyer for Nadezhda Savchenko, the Ukrainian soldier now on trial in Russia for facilitating the murder of two Russian journalists in eastern Ukraine, has published audio recordings of alleged negotiations about Savchenko's capture and transfer to Russian authorities. The audiotapes supposedly capture a conversation between the former head of the breakaway Luhansk People's Republic and Pavel Karpov, a figure who's suspected of organizing rightwing movements inside Russia. Savchenko claims Karpov is the one who illegally transferred her to Russia. Her legal team says it got the recordings from Ukraine's intelligence agency.

                        The British are still asking if the Russians love their children, too
                        Russia's ambassador to Latvia, Alexander Veshnyakov, says a new film by the BBC, “World War Three: Inside the War Room,” is a “dangerous provocation.” The movie depicts a hypothetical armed conflict between Russia and NATO, where pro-Russian demonstrations lead to a “Russian Spring” in Latvia and Estonia, drawing in Russian and NATO intervention, which escalates to a full nuclear war.

                        Veshnyakov says the film tries to demonize Russia as part of the West's information war against Moscow, and to marginalize any voices in Europe that seek better relations with the Kremlin. The movie is also an attempt to justify a significant (and unnecessary) expansion of funding for NATO, the ambassador argues.

                        Russian Orthodox Church to Russian Orthodox priests: mind your tweets, you twits
                        The Russian Orthodox clergy is getting some new marching orders when it comes to using social media. Namely, priests are being told to watch their mouths better, when writing about the church's position on various social issues. In late December 2015, the church fired its long-time spokesman, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, who was known for his outspoken comments online and to the media.

                        Russia, the world's leading oil producer, agrees to buy oil from Iran
                        Russia's top oil producer, Rosneft, is in talks to start buying oil from Iran, according to Ali Akbar Velayati, who assists Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on international affairs. Velayati told the Russian news agency Interfax that he discussed the deal at a recent meeting with Russian Security Council Chairman Nikolai Patrushev and Rosneft head Igor Sechin. Iran is also hoping for a new $5-billion loan from Moscow.

                        Moscow eyeballs Turkey on Syrian border, whispers, ‘I see you...’

                        A spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry told reporters today that there are secret invasion preparations underway on the Turkish side of the Turkish-Syrian border. Moscow also accuses Turkish forces of shelling populated areas in northern Latakia, where Russia's Khmeimim airbase is located.


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                        • Ukraine reformer pulls back curtain on corruption
                          Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg View, Feb 4, 2016 CHICAGO TRIBUNE

                          Ukraine's most successful reforming minister tendered his resignation Wednesday, citing widespread corruption in Ukraine's government and accusing a top ally of President Petro Poroshenko of blocking reform. If it wasn't clear to everyone by now that the current Ukrainian leadership is as thoroughly dysfunctional as the previous one, the case of Economy Minister Aivaras Abromavicius should remove the last doubts.

                          A former asset manager, the 40-year-old Abromavicius is Lithuanian by birth; he accepted Poroshenko's invitation to join the government, and his offer of Ukrainian citizenship, a little more than a year ago. I talked to him then, and he was full of plans -- to cut his ministry's bloated staff, to change the government procurement system, to privatize thousands of Ukraine's state enterprises. "We shouldn't waste this crisis," he said. "It's a unique chance for reforms."

                          He was doing reasonably well. The independent think tank VoxUkraine, whose team includes some of the country's most respected economists, recently placed the economy ministry at the top of its ranking of government agencies. It had cut the number of unnecessary licenses, introduced electronic, competitive procurement, inventoried state enterprises and started replacing their managers with private sector professionals. It also shrank by more than a quarter. Abromavicius is popular, untouched by corruption accusations, and he's one of the few in the government whose reformist credentials haven't been tarnished.

                          On Wednesday, however, he called a press conference to say he was leaving:

                          "My team and I have no desire to be a smokescreen for open corruption or puppets for those who want to restore old-style control over government finances. I don't want to go to Davos and recount our achievements while some people are getting favors behind our backs."

                          He proceeded to name one of these people: Igor Kononenko, an influential legislator who was Poroshenko's close business partner before the confectionery billionaire became president. According to Abromavicius, Kononenko had long meddled in his ministry's affairs, trying to install his people as top executives of potentially lucrative government-controlled enterprises. Most recently, Abromavicius said, a certain bureaucrat showed up saying his appointment as deputy minister in state enterprises, including the oil and gas company Naftogaz, had been approved "at the very top," and a phone call from the Poroshenko administration confirmed it. That, the minister said, was the last straw

                          "I won't be part of this graft," he declared.

                          Maxim Nefyodov, Abromavicius's deputy in charge of the promising government procurement reform, announced he was following his boss back into the private sector.

                          Abromavicius is not the only minister to be subject to this kind of pressure. "Managing a business organization, a ministry or a state company professionally requires independence in goal- setting, decision-making and team formation, but the technocratic ministers have had trouble with all three of these bullet points," Roman Bondar, an executive search consultant who helped Poroshenko headhunt for government jobs, wrote on Facebook.

                          The unofficial view has been of Ukraine's reformist ministers as the public faces of a little-changed corrupt system, in which the teams of Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk had divided up control of government revenue streams. But without confirmation from trusted government figures, Ukraine's foreign donors and creditors could ignore the mounting evidence that the president and prime minister were involved in covering up corruption. It was more convenient than crying foul while Ukraine was involved in a hybrid war with Russia and struggling to implement a bailout program devised by the International Monetary Fund.

                          Even after Abromavicius's coming out, it's hard for Westerners to admit they have been aiding leaders who don't measure up to Western standards of integrity. Ten ambassadors to Ukraine, including those of the U.S., Canada, Germany, France, the U.K. and Japan, published a statement on Wednesday saying they were disappointed with the minister's resignation. "It is important," it said, "that Ukraine's leaders set aside their parochial differences, put the vested interests that have hindered the country's progress for decades squarely in the past, and press forward on vital reforms." The problem with that suggestion is that the Ukrainian leaders represent those vested interests to a greater degree than they represent the nation -- as has been the case throughout Ukraine's history as an independent state.

                          Clearly worried that his domestic and international legitimacy is going out the window, Poroshenko wrote on Facebook that he'd met with the minister and asked him to stay and says Abromavicius promised to think about it. As for Kononenko, the minister's claims about him would be investigated by Ukraine's newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau, and the legislator -- who denies the charges -- would cooperate with the investigation.

                          That's not likely to change much, however. Ukraine has slipped into the same mire that threatens to swallow up its neighbor, Moldova, where a series of ostensibly pro-European governments has proved so corrupt and beholden to oligarchs that anti-corruption activists have been holding joint mass protests with pro-Russian parties.

                          In Ukraine, because of the Crimea annexation and the war in the east, pro-Russian politicians now stand no chance. Yet if technocrats such as Abromavicius fail and leave, and Poroshenko becomes a hated figure like his ousted predecessor Viktor Yanukovych, the pendulum could swing back to Moscow -- which would vindicate Russian President Vladimir Putin's efforts to present Ukraine as a wayward sister nation.

                          For now, the technocrats are hoping for a bloodless revanche. The next revolution, wrote Mustafa Nayyem, an increasingly disaffected member of Poroshenko's parliamentary faction, "will not happen in the streets but in the corridors of power and under the parliamentary dome. And it will be staged by new politicians, tired and mad at being pushed into action, called technocrats and told to implement reforms, but then tied hand and foot by a lack of will to say goodbye to old schemes."

                          Nayyem and a number of other young politicians are now increasingly affiliated with Odessa governor Mikheil Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia, who is assembling what he calls a Purification Movement on an anti-corruption platform. So far, he has harshly criticized Yatsenyuk and his friends, accusing them of corruption, but refrained from undermining Poroshenko in similar fashion. Saakashvili and his movement are pushing for early parliamentary elections, evidently hoping they would win outright control of the legislature and turn the president into a less powerful figure. At this point, no one but Saakashvili's new force appears to have a shot at averting further slippage down the Moldovan path and perhaps toward new violence. Ukraine reformer pulls back curtain on corruption - Chicago Tribune

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                          • Ukrainian elites thoroughly penetrated by Russian moles, Kyiv journalist says
                            EUROMAIDAN PRESS 2016/02/04

                            At a time when some in the West appear to be wondering whether there are any committed reformers in the Ukrainian government, a Kyiv journalist has reminded the world about the widespread presence within that regime and Ukrainian elites more generally of Russian moles who continue to promote Moscow’s policies.

                            In an interview given to Olena Poskanna of the portal, Serhiy Kulida, who has been writing about espionage matters in Russia, the US and Ukraine for some years, says that “the Ukrainian ruling elites, if they are not directly cooperating with Russian special services, then at least play up to them.”

                            “FSB ‘moles’ or their agents,” he continues, “to the present day penetrate many Ukrainian state structures. One need not be an analyst to understand this.” And one cannot understand what is going one in the government, the parliament or the army without taking that reality into account.

                            Kulida does not give any names, but his warning is important not only at present when Moscow is stepping up its pressure on Kyiv but also in the future when the Russian government appears likely to continue its campaign to weaken the Ukrainian state and hold it within Moscow’s sphere of influence.

                            The problem about talking about this issue is that even raising it has the effect of helping Moscow at least in the short term. If Ukrainians or others conclude that the Ukrainian elites are completely penetrated, both some of the first and some of the latter will decide that Kyiv is beyond saving.

                            But if this issue is not addressed – and given the continuing hostility of most Western governments to any serious program of lustration in the former Soviet world, it is unlikely to be anytime soon – that will only lengthen the period in which these nations will remain poisoned by the Soviet past and lead to more tragedies. Ukrainian elites thoroughly penetrated by Russian moles, Kyiv journalist says -- EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

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                            • Mustafa Nayem: "A very bad signal for international community and our partners"
                              UT UKRAINE TODAY Feb 4, 2014 VIDEO

                              Ukrainian MP talks of corruption in presidential fraction

                              Mustafa Nayem, Petro Poroshenko block MP: "Ukrainian politicians mostly are linked to the old schemes and old traditions, to solve something under curtain, to solve something not in transparent way. And what is very dangerous is that they don't feel the mood of people, they don't feel that parliament and many young politicians and parliamentarians, they are not ready to wait."

                              "And one day the Prime Minister is keeping silent. It's impossible to imagine something like this in Germany, or in United States, or in Italy, or even in Poland. It's impossible. It's impossible if you have a partner and a partner says publicly that I'm pressed that I'm pushed by the corruptionists, and you are doing something like talks and you are not reacting on that, looks that you are involved." Mustafa Nayem: "A very bad signal for international community and our partners" - watch on -

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                              • "Abromavicius resignation must be 'wake up call' for Ukraine's officials"
                                UT UKRAINE TODAY Feb 4, 2016 VIDEO

                                domas Audickas, senior advisor to Ukraine's Economy Minister gives his opinions on the surprise news

                                Abromavicius' decision to leave his post should be a 'wake up call' as international stakeholders start carefully examining recent developments in Ukraine, says Adomas Audickas, the senior advisor to Ukraine's economy minister.

                                Audickas also hopes that the minister's intention to resign is approved by the government instantly. He also warns if nothing changes in Ukraine concerning the officials' methods of administration, the decisions of international stakeholders will probably not be favourable for Ukraine.

                                Abromavicius' decision to step down also jeopardizes the development of privatization reforms that could help Ukraine to attract new stakeholders and to improve investment climate.

                                Yet Audickas is not completely unoptimistic about Ukraine's future: "We hope that [Ukraine] will have a technocrat, professional minister which will be allowed to work, to implement reforms including this huge privatization program, which is very needed for the country", he says.

                                Audickas is planning to continue working in the ministry, on a project to reform the state-run energy giant ‘Naftogaz'. The main aim of the project is to put a professional board to work in the company and make its activities more effective.
                                "Abromavicius resignation must be 'wake up call' for Ukraine's officials" - watch on -

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