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  • Details of preparation for trial with Russia on "Yanukovych debt" confidential – Jaresko
    04.03.2016 | 15:15 UNIAN

    Ukrainian authorities are carefully preparing for trial with the Russian Federation at London's High Court; however, they do not intend to disclose details of such preparation and their defense strategy, Ukrainian Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko told journalists on Friday.

    "It's hard work that we don't want to reveal. We will work to protect the interests of Ukraine," Jaresko said, when asked about the strategy of Ukraine in a London court on Russia's lawsuit on a $3 bln "Yanukovych loan."

    Late Thursday, Ukrainian Finance Ministry issued a statement indicating that Ukraine had submitted to London's High Court confirmation of its receipt of procedural documents, where Ukraine confirmed its intention to defend itself in a lawsuit brought by The Law Debenture Trust Corporation Plc in relation to the so-called debt to the Russian Federation.

    "Ukraine re-confirms its previously stated intention vigorously to defend the claim. The Ministry of Finance of Ukraine has instructed the leading international litigation firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan to represent Ukraine in the proceedings," the statement said.
    Details of preparation for trial with Russia on "Yanukovych debt" confidential – Jaresko : UNIAN news

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    • President signs law enabling large-scale privatization in Ukraine
      04.03.2016 | 18:17 UNIAN

      President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has signed a law on amendments to the privatization process, which provides for, inter alia, the abolition of the clause regarding an obligatory sale of 5%-10% of shares of state-owned strategic entities on stock exchanges during their privatization, the presidential press service reported.

      "President Petro Poroshenko has signed the law "On amendments to some laws of Ukraine on improvement of the privatization process" adopted by the Verkhovna Rada on February 16, 2016," a statement reads.

      The law also provides for attracting highly qualified and impartial advisers to the privatization process. It also bans individuals and companies from states recognized as aggressors by parliament from bidding for assets offered for privatization.

      In addition, the law allows foreign companies with a state stake in the authorized capital of more than 25% to take part in the privatization process.

      The State Property Fund of Ukraine (SPF) will be responsible for the implementation of the law, the report notes.

      As UNIAN reported earlier, on February 16, the Ukrainian parliament adopted a draft law to enable a large-scale privatization.

      In an interview with UNIAN, SPF Chief Ihor Bilous stated that the adopted law would give start to privatization in Ukraine.

      Odesa Portside Chemical Plant (OPP) is the first and major asset on the privatization list. A 99.6% state stake in the OPP is planned to be sold during the auction scheduled for June 30. The Fund also plans to put up for sale state shares in heating and power plants, as well as Centrenergo.

      The then Minister of Economic Development and Trade Aivaras Abromavicius also repeatedly called on the Ukrainian parliament to support the bill, which, according to him, would contribute to a transparent privatization.
      President signs law enabling large-scale privatization in Ukraine : UNIAN news

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      • The Power Vertical Brian Whitmore March 04, 2016
        Making The World Safe For Dictators

        A funny thing happened when the shaky ceasefire brokered by Russia and the United States kicked in this week in Syria.

        Almost immediately, Moscow began re-escalating the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

        Pro-Moscow separatists increased their attacks near Luhansk, intensified their shelling of four villages in the Donetsk region, and moved 88 tanks up to the cease-fire line near Debaltseve.

        It was all as cynical as it was predictable.

        It's happened before, after all -- albeit in reverse: when Russia intervened in Syria's civil war back in September, it promptly de-escalated in Donbas.

        Moscow's bait-and-switch tactics illustrate that Ukraine and Syria are two fronts in one war that Vladimir Putin's regime is waging on the West and on the post-Cold War international order.

        Putin wants a world without rules, one where might makes right; One divided into spheres of influence in which great powers decide the fates of small nations.

        And he wants to make the world safe for dictators -- whether they be Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic, Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovych, Libya's Muammar Qaddafi, or Syria's Bashar al-Assad.

        "The Russian president wants to win the ideological debate with the West, by showing that democratic regime changes and humanitarian interventions sow chaos, and that supporting 'legitimate' regimes can be a way of resolving crises more fruitfully," Kadri Liik, a senior fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, wrote recently.

        This means propping up autocrats, like Assad. And when that fails, as was the case with Yanukovych, it means manufacturing counterrevolution and mayhem.

        In this sense, Putin has conflated the pro-Western colored revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia with the chaos that erupted in the Middle East in the aftermath of Arab Spring.

        Putin's antirevolutionary fervor, and his desire to establish Russia as a conservative bastion of traditional values, is reminiscent of the Holy Alliance, the partnership among the monarchies of Russia, Austria, and Prussia in the aftermath of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars.

        Just as the Holy Alliance sought to protect the divine rights of kings, Putin is seeking to preserve what he sees as the inalienable right of autocrats to rule unhampered.

        The difference, of course, is that in 1815, Russia's aims were largely shared by other European rulers and it had the staunch backing of two of the continent's strongest powers -- Prussia and Austria -- in its antirevolutionary crusade.

        Today, the Kremlin's crusade is supported by...Marine Le Pen.

        "Kremlin policy envisions a global struggle between sovereignty and outside interference, while the West prefers casting it as a clash between democracy and authoritarianism," political commentator Ivan Krastev, head of the Center for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, wrote in a recent commentary.

        Ukraine and Syria also represent two steps in Putin's quest to restore what he sees as Russia's imperial greatness.

        In Ukraine he is trying to demonstrate his mastery over the former Soviet space; in Syria he is trying to lay claim to the mantle of world power.

        He needs both. And any de-escalation on one of these fronts, will invariably be accompanied by an escalation on the other.

        Putin is at war with the West, and he is not going to stop until he gets what he wants -- or until he is defeated.

        "Russia is seeking to undermine what the West considers the global institutional order, and not because it wants to return to Soviet 'imperialism,' but because it has chosen to champion the fight against worldwide revolution led, it believes, by Washington," Krastev wrote.

        "That formula has the potential to provoke endless conflict."
        Making The World Safe For Dictators

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        • The Power Vertical Brian Whitmore March 4, 2016
          The Daily Vertical: Putin's Bait And Switch

          The Daily Vertical: Putin's Bait And Switch

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          • Russia continues unabated oppression of Crimean Tatars
            04.03.2016 | 10:30 UNIAN Video

            The Crimean Tatar's main representative body, the Mejlis, could soon be banned in the Russian-occupied Black Sea peninsula by self-styled prosecutors for “extremist activities” – tactics not unusual in Soviet-style justice, according to Ukraine Today.

            Joining Ukraine Today to explain how Crimean Tatars are preparing for the almost certain ban and how the Ukrainian state and NGO's are helping bring the indigenous group's plight to the world's attention is Emine Dzheppar, a Ukrainian activist and advisor to the Ministry of Information Policy.

            Russia continues unabated oppression of Crimean Tatars : UNIAN news

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            • Ukrainian question at Yale
              04.03.2016 | 19:00 UNIAN Andriy Vasyliev

              MacMillan Center for Political Studies and Humanities Center has hosted the first round table on the events in Ukraine. The topic for discussions was put as "Ukraine Two Years Later: Unfinished Revolution?" The main speaker was Ukraine’s former Representative to the UN, now a visiting fellow at Yale University, Yuriy Sergeyev.

              Yale University, highly acclaimed for forging future leaders for careers at the White House has always followed the world’s political ups and downs. Teaching at Yale means being competent enough to share knowledge with the future political elite.

              The degree of interest in the Ukrainian crisis at MacMillan Center for Political Studies remains high. Last year, knowing that Sergeyev had to resign soon, Yale started shaping a job offer for Ukraine’s Representative to the UN and launched negotiations with him. Why Ukrainian diplomat refused to pursue his diplomatic career and accepted Yale’s offer is worth a separate story. Given the emerging obscure circumstances of Sergeyev’s resignation, we will get back to it in a separate piece. In the meantime, we have witnessed Yuriy Sergeyev’s official debut as a lecturer at Yale.

              The interest of one of the world’s most prestigious universities in the Ukrainian topic is really impressive. A special course will be introduced in the curriculum for those studying political science and for all those interested in political processes in Eastern Europe. Besides, Sergeyev’s office is located just opposite the office of David Cameron, Director of the European Union Studies at MacMillan Center. Although, maybe it's just a coincidence...

              A cozy lecture hall at Whitney Humanities Center hosting the round table was filled up with political science students and professors. The lecture opened up with the presentation of trailer for the "Winter on Fire" [a documentary about Euromaidan uprising in Kyiv]. A highly emotional clip set the tone for the whole discussion.

              Being a major speaker, Yuriy Sergeyev shocked the audience early into his speech.

              Being a major speaker, Yuriy Sergeyev shocked the audience from the very start. "The European Union has an inadequate perception of everything that has happened in Ukraine over the past two years," said the former Ambassador. “The American political elite also interpret the situation inadequately."

              Students froze. It turns out that things are not as they imagined before. Actually, I was struck, too. In front of me it was not Ambassador Sergeyev who agrees all his addresses with Kyiv, but a university lecturer Sergeyev, who expresses his personal views on what is happening in Ukraine.

              "Russian aggression in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea destroyed postwar world order,” explained the speaker. “The basic principles have been violated, and it now threatens security and stability not only in Ukraine, not only in Central and Eastern Europe, but throughout the whole Europe. It threatens stability throughout the world."

              The main danger is the violation of the basic norms of international law, disrespect to the UN Charter and disregard of international law in general - that is what Ukraine’s partners underestimate, according to Sergeyev.

              Students got engaged in discussion – a seed of doubt was sowed in the heads of future political scientists. This, it seems, is Yale’s ultimate goal – to force students to analyze information, expose it to reasonable doubts and discuss the unclear issues. This was 100% the case at this round table.

              Students got engaged in discussion – a seed of doubt was sowed in the heads of future political scientists.

              That's what students said after the discussion:

              "I think the problem of Russian aggression is so important right now because not only because Russia is trying to remake a post-Soviet order in Europe, and if we don’t stop Russia now, this could lead to even more problems. Many of the questions remain unresolved. And they still trouble Europe," says Oleksa Martiniouk, a Yale student and a U.S.-born Ukrainian.

              His fellow student, who also boasts some Ukrainian roots, David Kipnis, echoed his thoughts: "I think that Russian aggression must be curtailed because Ukraine occupies such a strategic position within Europe and because Ukraine can be a sign to come of other former Soviet countries looking to create stronger ties with the European Union. So it’s possible that violence in the region could spread into other areas."

              In general, I was impressed with the number of Ukrainian students enrolled in Yale. I asked: "How many of you study here?" The students said: "A few dozen." Perhaps that’s another reason why Yale needs a special course that is entirely devoted to the processes taking place in Ukraine, Central and Eastern Europe.

              While Sergeyev is currently a visiting fellow, starting the new academic year this fall, the schedule of his classes and lectures will become more intense – when the curriculum is approved, it will be possible for Ambassador Sergeyev to move into a new category. The next roundtable, to be held a few days, is expected to be attended by Permanent Representatives of Serbia and Lithuania to the UN. By the way, the position of Raimonda Murmokaite, Lithuanian Ambassador to the UN, is even more radical than that of Yuriy Sergeyev.

              Andrei Vasiliev, USA
              Ukrainian question at Yale : UNIAN news

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              • Jaresko may become PM, puts forward certain conditions – media
                04.03.2016 | 19:54 UNIAN

                Ukrainian Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko has tentatively agreed to become the Prime Minister after a week of negotiations, Ukrainian online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda reported with reference to its sources in the presidential administration.

                According to the report, a strategic group of seven, which includes the president's closest entourage, continues to insist on Arseniy Yatsenyuk's resignation.

                It is reported that talks with Finance Minister Jaresko were conducted during the last week, and she is said to have tentatively agreed to head the Cabinet of Ministers, while putting forward certain conditions. They are related, inter alia, to a technocratic government without party quotas, and the absence of any political pressure from any side. Jaresko also insists on a direct dialogue with the parliament and support for government initiatives by all factions of the coalition, including the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko, according to the sources.

                The finance minister also proposed several candidates for posts in the future government – Borys Lozhkin and Dmytro Shymkiv as Vice-Premiers, Deputy Economy Minister Yulia Kuznetsova as Energy Minister.

                At this, Jaresko also mentioned those who were not welcomed in a new government: Deputy Head of Presidential Administration Vitaliiy Kovalchuk, who has previously sought to become First Deputy Prime-Minister for the Economy, as well as Energy Minister Volodymyr Demchyshyn and Social Policy Minister Pavlo Rozenko.

                Sources told that the presidential administration had tentatively agreed with the conditions.

                At the same time, it is reported that other candidates for the post of prime minister are being discussed in the president's circle.

                According to the report, opponents of the incumbent prime minister stated they were ready to initiate an extraordinary parliamentary session next week, preliminary on March 9-10, during which Yatsenyuk is expected to announce his voluntary resignation.
                Read more on UNIAN: Jaresko may become PM, puts forward certain conditions – media : UNIAN news

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                • What we know about Gyulchekhra Bobkulova The nanny who beheaded a four-year-old girl and blamed Putin
                  13:35, 4 March 2016 MEDUZA Daniil Turovsky Moscow

                  On March 3, a video was published online showing Gyulchekhra Bobkulova explaining that she beheaded a four-year-old girl in retaliation for Russia's military campaign in Syria. Police detained the Uzbekistan native on the morning of February 29 outside a Moscow metro station. Bobkulova was carrying a child's severed head, screaming that she was a terrorist, and threatening to blow herself up. After her arrest, she confessed to killing the girl. Bobkulova insists that her crime has a religious dimension. She says she committed the murder because “Allah commanded it.” Russia's Investigative Committee urges the public not to “sensationalize” Bobkulova's statements, pointing out that she has a long history of schizophrenia. Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin's official spokesman, has asked people to treat her claims with caution. Meduza reviews what we know about Gyulchekhra Bobkulova and the possible motives for her crime.

                  Gyulchekhra Bobkulova, age 38, was born in the Samarkand region of Uzbekistan. She's from a large family that includes five sisters, and she didn't get past the tenth grade. She married early, and had three sons with her first husband. Her oldest boy, now 19 years old, was arrested in Uzbekistan on March 2 and taken to an undisclosed location. The middle child is now 18. He was raised by childless relatives, who were apparently desperate for a son of their own. The third boy is now 16.

                  Citing an anonymous source, the news agency Interfax says police in Uzbekistan informed their colleagues in Moscow that Bobkulova was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1999. According to her father, she “started hearing voices and acting aggressively” in 2002, when she spent nearly two weeks under observation at a mental health clinic in Samarkand. The doctors opened a file and released her. Two weeks later, she started hearing voices again, her father says. She reportedly became terrified and said she was “seeing blood.” Another psychiatric hospital prescribed pills, and then “everything was fine.”

                  Bobkulova's husband left her when she was hospitalized. He took their oldest son with him. The youngest stayed with Bobkulova and her parents. In order to provide for the boy, she left for Russia, to find work. Once in Moscow, Bobkulova found a job at a vegetable warehouse, handling onions, according to the website She sent part of her wages back home to Uzbekistan. Later, she worked at a market. In 2008, she met her second husband, Sukhrob Kosimov—another Samarkand native. He worked in construction. The two got married back in Uzbekistan and lived together for about two years. When Bobkulova learned he was cheating on her, the marriage collapsed.

                  According to the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets, Bobkulova got a job as a nanny for the Meshcheryakovs in Moscow in 2013. She was hired to keep the home in order and look after the family's infant girl. Before this, she worked as a nanny for another family in the city (on whose recommendation she got the job with the Meshcheryakovs). The family's friends describe Bobkulova as a “kind, modest, and sensible woman.” The family called her Gulya. She lived with them in their apartment, and last summer she even accompanied them on a trip to Orlov.

                  The news program Vesti has confirmed that Bobkulova was working in Russia illegally, without a work permit from the Federal Migration Service. Her residence in Russia was legal, however, and she was formally registered as a migrant living in Moscow.

                  Friends of the Meshcheryakovs told the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda that Bobkulova began wearing Muslim clothing about a year ago, covering her whole body. She also began praying in her room. Neighbors confirm that she started wearing “unusual clothes” about a year and a half ago. The family's friends say Bobkulova was spotted several times reading websites with texts written in Arabic.

                  A source in the police department told the news agency RIA Novosti that Bobkulova recently moved in with a man from from Tajikistan who “indoctrinated her with ideas of Islamic extremism.” In early 2016, she returned home to Uzbekistan to renew her passport. While there, she reportedly showed off a hijab that she said was a gift from her new friend.

                  In a video published on March 3 (filmed by an unknown author, apparently inside a police station), Bobkulova says she wanted to move to Syria, to live in a “Muslim city,” where women dress appropriately (though she couldn't name a particular city). She says she didn't have enough money to go. She also says she reads the Koran constantly, praying five times a day. When asked about her own children, she says, “I don't need them. They don't read the Koran, and they don't pray.”

                  Bobkulova claims to have started planning the murder about a month ago. “I watch. There are bombs there [in Syria] [...] I got revenge for the blood that's been spilled ... Putin is bombing Muslims with planes, and nobody says anything. They want to live, too,” she says in the leaked video, adding that there are children among the dead in Syria. (ISIL recruiters often target migrants from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, living in Moscow. You can read more about the Islamic State's activities in Russia here.)

                  Responding to the footage of Bobkulova's confession, Vladimir Markin, the spokesperson for Russia's Federal Investigative Committee, published an open letter calling on the public not to “sensationalize” her statements, pointing out that she has a long history of schizophrenia. “People commit such crimes at moments when the disease's symptoms are extremely acute, and it's possible to hear the most incredible and delusional explanations of their motives. In such cases, some people claim to be Napoleon, others say they're Gandhi, and the list just goes on. If anyone should be thinking seriously about her statements right now, I believe it's the mental health professionals,” Markin argued.

                  On the morning of February 29, 2016, according to police investigators, Bobkulova waited for the Meshcheryakovs to leave their home with their eldest son. Around 9:40 a.m., she killed the family's four-year-old girl by stabbing her in the neck. She then cut off the child's head and placed it in a plastic bag, which she then put in a backpack. Next, Bobkulova changed her clothes, dressing in black Muslim attire. Before leaving, she poured fuel throughout the apartment and set it ablaze. Exiting onto the street, she hailed a cab and got a ride to the Oktyabrskoe Pole metro station. By 10 a.m., firefighters had extinguished the flames back at the Meshcheryakovs' apartment, where they discovered the body of a girl without a head.

                  Around 11 a.m., Bobkulova appeared outside Oktyabrskoe Pole, carrying the bloody head. She held it aloft, by the hair, screaming, “Allah Akbar!” and “I hate democracy. I'm a terrorist! I am your death! So many mothers—so many of us have you destroyed! Look over here, I'm a suicide bomber!” According to a senior police spokesperson, responding officers convinced her to lie on the ground. After 20 minutes, Bobkulova became cold and stood up again. When this happened, an officer tackled her and took her into custody.

                  On March 2, a Moscow court formalized Bobkulova's arrest, scheduling her hearing two months from now, on April 29. Before she was arraigned, journalists managed to ask a few brief questions. When asked why she murdered the girl, she said “Allah commanded it.” In court, a state investigator warned that Bobkulova would be a flight risk, if released on bail, also raising the fear that she might collude with the people who possibly incited her to kill. Investigators suspect Bobkulova's roommate (the man who reportedly gifted her a hijab) may have goaded her into murdering the girl. A source told the news agency Interfax that police found in Bobkulova's phone the numbers of two men known to have ties to extremist groups.

                  On Friday, March 4, Bobkulova was formally charged with three separate crimes: murder, arson, and knowingly making false claims about an act of terrorism.

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                  • A Ukrainian doctor’s choice: be a beggar or a racketeer
                    EUROMAIDAN PRESS Oleksandr Yabchanka, MD 2016/03/04 Part 1

                    Before becoming a community activist, I worked for 8 years as an assistant in the Department of Pediatrics. Since this is a clinical department where they teach students how to treat patients, the department employees must be clinicians themselves, therefore practicing doctors. With a clinical background, I was especially lucky since I ended up in the Western Ukrainian Specialized Children’s Medical Center. For a Ukrainian pediatrician, this is the same as getting into the NBA for a basketball player.

                    This hospital is unique in many ways. For example, the hiring of doctors is handled not by the chief doctor, but by a secret ballot of the entire medical staff. That way, for two decades the best of the best in their fields have been assembled in this hospital. The patients come here to be treated from all parts of Ukraine, even from abroad, mostly the East.

                    So, I found myself in a progressive hospital that has to function under the current regressive conditions that prevail in Ukraine. The conditions are as follows.

                    According to the Constitution, “in state and communal health care institutions, medical care is free of charge…” Therefore, the Ukrainian state, having inherited the slogans of the Soviet Union, is committed to providing all necessary medical care for the citizen — starting from treating a cold in a clinic and ending with heart transplants in the Amos Institute — all free of charge.

                    No country can afford such luxury.

                    And if you consider that out of the budget collected from my taxes and yours, the state allocates barely $50 dollars per Ukrainian citizen, then these promises are nothing other than populism that is legalized by the Constitution.

                    At the university they tell us — the future doctors — that we are choosing the profession of doctor to “burn ourselves while illuminating the path for others with our fire.” It is a fairly romantic image that you really want to believe: that you are the savior of a person’s body and soul! But there is an element of disinterestedness inextricably intermixed with this idea: “the patient’s money for the doctor is dirtier than peritonitis.”

                    And this collective image is called the Hippocratic oath.

                    After graduation the young doctor-intern with the prospect of earning $80 a month enters a medical community where people drive foreign cars and who obviously are not beggars. Therefore, they are earning money somehow and earning it well.

                    As the intern studies the medical work, he also observes the “urgent” issues. After a while he concludes that he has only two choices as a doctor:

                    – either treat and hope for the “thanks” of the patients ( beggar style);

                    – or state the price and then treat (gangster style)

                    The option “don’t take money at all” is possible, but in that case it is “idiot style.”

                    Because no one except you will appreciate it. And the patients will think that they have not offered you enough and that you were offended and refused to accept such a pittance. >>>>>next post

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                    • A Ukrainian doctor’s choice: be a beggar or a racketeer
                      EUROMAIDAN PRESS Oleksandr Yabchanka, MD 2016/03/04 Part 2

                      But the law is the law. And payment for medical care in state and communal health care institutions is a violation of the constitutional rights of a citizen. The responsibility for this violations lies with the doctors with miserable salaries.

                      This is exactly what happened with my first patients. When they first tried to shove the “thanks” into the pocket of my starched coat, I grimaced either in surprise or dismay and demonstratively left the ward. That was the last time I saw these patients (mother and child). They never again turned to me for help.

                      Senior colleagues advised me not to “play the idiot” and not to offend people who want to “thank” me for their cured child.

                      I received the first honestly beggared 5 dollars several days after this incident as I was discharging a mother and infant from the hospital. The young father awkwardly shoved some money into the pocket of my coat.

                      Little by little I began to accept this type of “gratitude” as a sort of bonus for good work (work that I actually performed well) and slowly I began to acquire patient-clients.

                      With time, in addition to hospital patients, I also acquired outpatients — the ones who only needed consultation and received treatment at home. It turned out that it was possible to receive thanks from the outpatients as well by spending a week or two with a child, by analyzing a bunch of examinations, by changing the dynamics of the treatment, and writing a bunch of necessary and not so necessary paperwork.

                      These same patients turned to me repeatedly at the first signs of illness. The parents with the child went to recover at home and I received my “gratitude.” Moreover, this “gratitude” did not differ very much from the one I received after hospital treatments.

                      I realized that parents “thanked me” not for the amount of work but for the fact that it was done, regardless of the time and effort required.

                      The other aspect of this case also made an impression: patients called for the slightest need, therefore they rarely required hospitalization. There were no issues with vaccination, since confidence in an independently chosen doctor goes up a few notches.

                      The results suited everybody: patients had “their own” doctor, there was early diagnosis and prevention, and, as a result, treatment in the early stages, usually at home. For me, the result was an uncomplicated patient and “gratitude.” Often I also treated the parents (for a pediatrician it is quite easy to treat adults).

                      With time these “thanks” begin to be perceived as something inherent, no longer a bonus for work well done but a fair payment for services. And when a patient simply says “thanks for now” you begin to have the uncomfortable feeling that you’ve been had, that you did the work, but where is the reward?

                      Of course, if your patients are from a distant village and do not even have money for medicines, you do not expect “gratitude.” Money for the medicines can be requested from the medical fund (fortunately the fund is not stingy with such requests). But if your patients are brought in by a father in a new Audi and at the end of the visit you only receive a verbal “Thanks, doctor,” then you do not view it as anything other than cheating.

                      Later it gets worse: you consciously or unconsciously begin to divide patients into the “acceptable” and “not very acceptable.”

                      Gradually the “very acceptable” ones appear that must be visited even after hours, and here it is not quite the Hippocratic oath that drives you but the natural desire to earn money. When other “not so acceptable” patients call, you deny their request without remorse because they have their district doctor and you think “why should I do his job if he is paid by the state.” And the state in this case has said its weighty word: “No payments in Ukrainian medicine.”

                      So, I became an informal family doctor like thousands of my colleagues in the hospitals of the country. The total volume of thanks in monetary equivalents from outpatients became my main honestly beggared earnings.

                      In fact, patients had simply transferred the function of a family doctor to me, with the only difference that they paid for outpatient care themselves. The money that had been allocated for this aid in the state budget went to some clinic according to (the patient’s) place of residence.

                      This state of affairs suited everybody: patients received services, I received “thanks,” and the regional doctor did not worry about this behavior since it in no way affected his salary. There were only two problems: all this was contrary to the Constitution (“in state and communal health care institutions medical care is free”) and also common sense (the patient pays me for services for which the state pays someone else).

                      Is this news for anyone? I don’t think so. We all understand it and we all live with it.

                      This is the way thousands of Ukrainian doctors and millions of Ukrainian patients live. This is the way I lived until I went to Maidan. And then I understood that I do not want to return to this system and to pretend that nothing is happening.

                      I simply have had enough.

                      I appeal to you, colleagues in white coats. Haven’t you had enough of choosing between the roles of beggar and racketeer, with the additional option of being an idiot?

                      I appeal to you, patients. Haven’t you had enough of viewing the workers of the noblest profession as beggars or racketeers? I won’t even ask about the idiot option.

                      Then, perhaps, we can all finally begin to ask the awkward questions of those who beat their breasts before elections?

                      I propose we begin with the following:

                      The first question. When will the state stop transferring responsibility for its own unfulfilled promises to the doctors?

                      After inserting into the Constitution the right of citizens to free medicine, the state is demanding that doctors with miserable salaries deliver on these promises, without providing the medications or the conditions for implementing this law. By promising everything, the state guarantees nothing.

                      In my view, there is only one way out: to clearly state what is paid through state funding and what the citizen has to pay himself or, if he is insured, what the insurance pays.

                      Second question. Why does “the money follow the patient” and the “patient follows the money”?

                      That is, a doctor is selected for a Ukrainian citizen by the invisible hand of an official, who relies not on the desire of the citizen but acts according to Soviet norms and his own views or interests. A Ukrainian citizen has only one special option left –“money follows the patient.” If you want to choose your own doctor, pay out of your own pocket.

                      Why can’t the citizen choose by himself the individual who will help him stay healthy thereby creating competition in medicine?

                      Perhaps we can allow doctors and patients to draw up agreements according to which the state would pay expenses for some patients and others would not die 11 years earlier than Europeans.

                      By the way, we do not need to travel to Europe for examples. Experience with similar contracts already exists in the Ukrainian city of Voznesensk (Mykolaiv Oblast). Here the emphasis was placed on prevention and early diagnosis of diseases and the relationship between doctor and patient was strengthened through written agreements. The management and financing of healthcare was transferred to an electronic format and produced excellent results. Moreover, not a single extra penny was paid out of the state budget.

                      Third question. Why a quarter of a century after the collapse of the Soviet Union does Ukrainian medicine remain stuck in a dense soviet world with the slogan “Everything free for the people!”?

                      And if reality does not match the slogans, the “enemies” are guilty. In our case, the doctors.

                      A parliamentary coalition “For European Ukraine” should have changed this constitutional absurdity. However, I have the impression that the only thing that the coalition parliamentarians have engaged in was to first seek the enemies of reform and then those responsible for the lack of reform.

                      We must unite our efforts in order to pose these and other inconvenient questions to the politicians.

                      I propose that we do it here: Health Care Reform Group, Reanimation Package of Reforms. A Ukrainian doctor's choice: be a beggar or a racketeer -Euromaidan Press |

                      By Oleksandr Yabchanka, manager of the Health Care Reform Group with the Reanimation Package of Reforms NGO. Especially for Ukrayinska Pravda

                      Oleksandr Yabchanka is a prominent activist for health care reform in Ukraine. Born in Lviv, he completed his medical studies at the Danylo Halytskyi Lviv National Medical University. He then worked as a pediatrician in western Ukraine for eight years before joining the Maidan uprising in Kyiv in 2014 as a medical volunteer. After witnessing the death of many of his friends and fellow activists during the repressions against Maidan, he was determined to bring about necessary changes in the country through civic activism. He joined the Reanimation Packet of Reforms civic sector initiative, where he heads up the Health Sector Reform Group that lobbies for health sector modernizations.

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                      • 16:38 04.03.2016 INTERFAX-UKRAINE
                        U.S. issues record number of nonimmigrant visas to Ukrainians in 2015

                        The U.S. Embassy to Ukraine issued a record number of nonimmigrant visas to Ukrainian citizens in 2015, and since 2014 the U.S. has been issuing visas for business and tourist trips, which are valid for 10 years, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt said in an interview with the Segodnia newspaper.

                        The diplomat also noted that Ukrainian sailors, aircraft and commercial ships crews were also entitled to 10-year visas starting from October last year.

                        Besides, Pyatt said there were a number of conditions Ukraine needed to comply with under the visa-free program. These included the joint use of security data bases, e-passports, less than 3% level of visa refusals in the country at large, high level of anti-terrorist activities and high standards of border control.

                        The ambassador stressed that human relations between the U.S. and Ukraine were very important. He also said he was looking forward to even closer ties, as a powerful bond for relations.

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                        • 18:09 04.03.2016 INTERFAX-UKRAINE
                          Government renewal matter for Ukrainian people to decide – U.S. ambassador

                          U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt has noted the importance of the unity of all branches of power in Ukraine for the continuation of reforms in the country, in spite of the political crisis.

                          The most important thing is the continued unity among all Ukrainian democratic forces led by the president, the prime minister, the government and the Verkhovna Rada to support a very serious reform progress that has been made over the past two years, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt said in an interview with the Segodnia newspaper.

                          It is very important that Ukrainian leaders should continue to demonstrate strong commitment to following the requirements that come with the IMF multi-billion dollar aid package, Pyatt said when commenting on the ways of solving the Ukrainian political crisis.

                          It is up to Ukrainians to decide on the matter of renewal of their government, while Washington focuses on the progress of reforms, not on personalities, the ambassador said.

                          Meanwhile, he recalled that Economic Development Minister Aivaras Abromavicius before announcing his resignation met with ambassadors of G7 countries and other diplomats.

                          As for the matter of champions of reform in Ukraine, the ambassador noted that there were a lot of them in the presidential administration, government and parliament, and in various regional and municipal government agencies, the private sector and the civil society.

                          Pyatt said that he was inspired by Ukrainians from all walks of life, who stood on the Maidan for freedom, and who continue to fight for the changes to the present day. He called on Ukrainians to be strong, keep fighting for what they believe in. The ambassador expressed his belief that changes were possible.

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                          • Decentralizing Government Power is Key to Reforming Ukraine
                            Ukraine's Orange Blues - WORLD AFFAIRS Alexander J. Motyl 4 March 2016

                            It’s not surprising that Kyiv’s convoluted politics color what we think about Ukraine and its future prospects. But don’t let the turmoil in Kyiv obscure the hopeful developments taking place in Ukraine’s provinces. Take agricultural reform. As Kyiv’s policymakers squawk and squabble, real Ukrainians have to live real lives. And they do, frequently developing innovative new schemes that qualify as no less important reforms than those contemplated and adopted in the capital.

                            Lviv Province, 39 percent of whose population lives in the countryside, has just adopted an ambitious five-year Complex Plan of Supporting and Developing Agro-industrial Production, developed by the Province State Administration’s Agro-industrial Department, which is headed by the dynamic Nataliya Khmyz, described by her coworkers as a “fount of ideas.” The State Administration is allocating 11 million hryvnia (about $425,000) toward agriculture in 2016. According to Taras Verveha, the head of the Lviv Provincial Council’s Agro-industrial Commission, 1.5 million will pay the interest farmers owe on existing loans; 1 million is earmarked for replenishing the soil; and 8.5 million will serve as low-interest loans for agricultural improvements. Verveha expects agricultural production to increase by 10 percent in five years.

                            In addition to the 11 million coming from the province in 2016, Khmyz and her colleagues expect Kyiv to provide 16 million, international donors to come up with 6 million, and co-financing partnerships (involving local budgetary allocations and farms) to account for 42 million—for a total of 75 million hryvnia. Since the State Administration intends to spend 86 million hryvnia during the next five years (or about $3.3 million at the current exchange rate), the actual total will likely be seven times as much, or 602 million hryvnia ($23 million).

                            The Lviv Province Fund for Supporting Individual Housing Construction in Villages, which has been providing villagers with cheap loans for fixing their homesteads since 2000 on a transparent and competitive basis, will administer most of the monies involved (8.5 million in 2016 and 68 million in 2016-2020). The Fund expects to provide 1-to-3-year loans at 5 percent interest (compared to the 30-percent interest offered by banks) to 104 small farmers, individual homesteads, and village cooperatives in 2016 and to a total of 605 in 2016-2020. The interest is earmarked for promoting the program, providing training and instruction, and covering direct administrative costs.

                            According to Zenoviy Drevnyak, the head of the Fund, the loans will be awarded on the same kind of transparent and competitive basis that has characterized the Fund’s loan-making activity hitherto. Farmers will be obliged to submit detailed business plans to the State Administration’s Agro-industrial Department, which will select those proposals that promise to contribute most to increasing production of milk, fruits, vegetables, and meat and to creating jobs. The Fund will sign contracts with the farmers, provide the financing, and monitor the projects. The Agro-industrial Department’s outside experts will then evaluate the projects on an ongoing basis. The financing will pay for up to 50 percent of the proposed project’s total budget ensuring that the individual farmers share the risks. When farmers eventually pay off their loans, the monies will be ploughed back into the program and go toward financing future agro-industrial projects.

                            The program’s process, says Drevnyak, has been carefully designed to minimize opportunities for corruption by stipulating that each part of the process—competition, financing, and evaluation—be performed by different individuals or entities. Information about the entire process will be available on a special website; the Fund will also train farmers to develop their business plans. In time, the authorities hope to have a list of the “500 Most Successful Farms” that would serve as models for other farmers and cooperatives.

                            Perhaps the most promising aspect of the Plan is that it is a local initiative entailing negligible involvement of Kyiv’s heavy-handed, inept, and corrupt bureaucracy. Small wonder that other provinces are expressing great interest in Lviv’s initiative. On March 1, several hundred farmers and entrepreneurs from throughout Ukraine met in the Lviv Arena conference center for an extensive discussion about how to improve agriculture production. The name of the event reflected the hopeful enthusiasm of its participants: “A Million from Each Hectare.”

                            The road to effective administration is long, and it remains to be seen whether Lviv’s provincial government is up to the task. However, the Agro-industrial Department’s effort to revitalize agriculture has exhibited a degree of professionalism that has eluded Kyiv. The Lviv experiment needs to be monitored, as well supported from within and without. And the clear lesson for Ukraine’s reformers is obvious: cut the central bureaucracy and its intrusiveness—radically. Decentralizing Government Power is Key to Reforming Ukraine | World Affairs Journal

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                            • 09:21 05.03.2016 INTERFAX-UKRAINE
                              Ukraine to test domestically produced missiles soon

                              Ukraine plans to test missiles which were fully produced by Ukrainian enterprises, National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov has said.

                              "Our scientists, designers and engineers have ensured the production of all the required components [for missiles] at our Ukrainian enterprises, whereas previously these components were manufactured in cooperation with Russia, giving us the opportunity not only to showcase our missiles at exhibitions, but also to use them in combat situations. Besides, in the nearest future we plan to conduct test launches of missiles, which were entirely domestically produced, as a result of the co-operation of solely Ukrainian enterprises," he said in an exclusive interview with Interfax-Ukraine.

                              Turchynov said the recovery of the rocket industry was the priority for Ukraine's government. "On the one hand, we should develop, as a space state, producing high-tech spacecraft, but we also need to restore the necessary range of combat missiles to defend the country," Turchynov added.

                              He assured that Ukraine invested a lot of effort in this matter. "I have recently held a meeting with leading designers and managers of defense enterprises, who have expertise in this area [combat missiles]. We have outlined preliminary results, compared plans, and refined details. The work goes smoothly," Turchynov said.

                              He also noted that it was difficult to recover Ukraine's rocket industry, as the country closely cooperated with Russia until 2014. "Under the current circumstances, after the Crimean occupation, the aggression in the east, there is no room for cooperation in the military and technical sector with Russia. It is a matter of principle," the NSDC Secretary stressed.

                              At the same time, Turchynov didn't provide details on the type of missiles that were to be tested, saying only that "Ukraine was strengthening its defense in line with its international obligations."

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                              • 09:34 05.03.2016 INTERFAX-UKRAINE
                                Advisory Committee of Ukrainian and Polish presidents discuss Ukraine's rapprochement with EU

                                The 25th session of the Advisory Committee of the Ukrainian and Polish Presidents was held in Warsaw on March 3-4, 2016, co-chaired by deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential administration Kostiantyn Yeliseyev and Polish chancellery Secretary of State Krzysztof Szczerski.

                                The parties discussed a wide range of issues of the Ukrainian-Polish relations, the press service of the Ukrainian head of state reported on Friday.

                                "The participants of the Advisory Committee discussed the cooperation algorithm of the two countries in the context of regional cooperation, Ukraine's rapprochement with the EU, as well as the European security agenda," the administration said.

                                Besides, the parties discussed the 2016 schedule for bilateral contacts on the highest level, as well as priorities for cooperation.

                                "Special attention was paid to the further process of reconciliation and maintenance of constructive dialogue on sensitive issues of common history of the two peoples," the administration said.

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