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    Valentin Baryshnikov & Robert Coalson Sept 21, 2016
    Numbers Don’t Lie: Statistics Point To Massive Fraud In Russia’s Duma Vote

    When liberal rights activist Ella Pamfilova was named to head Russia’s election commission in March, she promised to clean house and oversee transparent, democratic elections.

    “We will change a lot, and radically, in the way the Central Election Commission operates. A lot and radically -- this is something I can promise you,” she said at the time.

    However, a statistical analysis of the official preliminary results of the country’s September 18 State Duma elections points to a familiar story: massive fraud in favor of the ruling United Russia party comparable to what independent analysts found in 2007 and 2011.

    “The results of the current Duma elections were falsified on the same level as the Duma and presidential elections of 2011, 2008, and 2007, the most falsified elections in post-Soviet history, as far as we can tell,” physicist and data analyst Sergei Shpilkin told RFE/RL’s Russian Service. “By my estimate, the scope of the falsification in favor of United Russia in these elections amounted to approximately 12 million votes.”

    According to the CEC’s preliminary results, official turnout for the election was 48 percent, and United Russia polled 54.2 percent of the party-list vote -- about 28,272,000 votes. That total gave United Russia 140 of the 225 party-list seats available in the Duma. In addition, United Russia candidates won 203 of the 225 contests in single-mandate districts, giving the party an expected total of 343 deputies in the 450-seat house.

    Shpilkin, who in 2012 won the independent PolitProsvet award for political analysis for his statistical work on the 2011 vote, posted his examination of the latest election on his blog on September 19.

    Using data from the Central Election Commission’s website, Shpilkin organized all 95,800 polling stations on a graph according to the turnout that they reported.

    In fair elections, the graph would form a bell curve, with its peak indicating the average turnout for the entire election. Reading from left to right, Shpilkin’s graph shows a relatively normal bell curve that peaks at about 36 percent turnout and then, as it moves right, shows a jagged curve that dips unevenly and then begins rising again, as vast numbers of polling stations begin reporting turnouts of 70 percent or more.

    Moreover, Shpilkin shows that almost all “extra” votes from polling stations reporting higher-than-average turnout went to United Russia. That is, a party such as ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s LDPR received virtually the same number of votes from polling stations reporting a turnout of 95 percent as it did from stations reporting turnouts of 65 percent. United Russia, by contrast, received about four times as many at the 95 percent stations.

    “The easiest form of falsification in terms of cost and intellectual effort on the part of the falsifiers is simply to add votes in favor of the desired party or candidate,” Shpilkin explained. “But adding votes means that the turnout changes in an upward direction from the typical distribution. ... A peculiar characteristic of these elections is that we don’t see the transfer of votes from one party to another. Perhaps this is a sign of the good influence of Ella Pamfilova.”

    In addition, Shpilkin’s graph is spiked because there were an improbable number of polling stations at the high end of the turnout scale reporting round-number turnouts ending in 5 or 0, such as 75, 80, or 85 percent. This is a phenomenon Shpilkin and other analysts noted in previous elections and dubbed “Churov’s saw,” after former CEC head Vladimir Churov.

    In 2008, Shpilkin estimated that United Russia actually won 277 seats in the Duma instead of the constitutional majority of 315 that it was awarded.

    This time around, it is somewhat more difficult to tell how the alleged falsification might have influenced the results because half of the Duma was elected from single-mandate districts, from which United Russia got a majority of its deputies. Shpilkin estimates United Russia actually got about 40 percent of the party-list vote, which would have reduced its party-list seats from 140 to around 110.

    But, with a projected 343 deputies in the new parliament, United Russia once again has enough votes to unilaterally alter the constitution.

    Although Pamfilova has promised to investigate reports of fraud and election officials have already annulled results in at least three polling stations, she maintains that there was no systematic falsification and that the vote was legitimate. On September 20, Russia’s Prosecutor-General’s Office denied there were any significant violations during the voting and said the number of complaints was “significantly lower” than for previous elections.

    But videos recorded by official cameras from several polling stations seem to tell a different story. In almost all of them, local election officials can be seen working as teams to apparently stuff ballot boxes and prevent outsiders from observing their actions.

    WATCH: Apparent Violations Spotted During Russian Elections

    Pamfilova has said that such videos do not constitute proof of fraud and, Shpilkin recalls, courts rejected dozens of fraud cases based on similar videos in 2012.

    Shpilkin hopes his analysis will help Pamfilova come to grips with what he sees as massive fraud embedded in Russia’s election system from the ground up.

    “I am not entirely sure that Ella Pamfilova has a good understanding of the actions of the heads of polling stations on the ground, how they compile their protocols, how they fill in the data and submit it to their regional election commissions,” Shpilkin said. “Moreover, she most likely does not understand how the results are aggregated and how many votes were added in for those 96,000 polling stations.”

    Shpilkin emphasizes that his analysis does not mean that the genuine opposition parties that did not get seats in the Duma would have, if not for the alleged falsification.

    “It is possible that some changes might have been seen on the local level in places like Moscow and St. Petersburg on the level of single-mandate districts,” he said. “But on the level of federal party lists, the position of the opposition looks entirely hopeless.”
    Numbers Don’t Lie: Statistics Point To Massive Fraud In Russia’s Duma Vote

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      Valentin Baryshnikov & Claire Bigg Sept 21, 2016
      Russian Motorists Trapped In Snowstorm Finally Rescued, After 16 Hours, One Death, And Many Cases Of Frostbite
      Anger is mounting in Russia after more than 80 people whose cars were stranded on a snowbound highway in Orenburg waited 16 hours to be rescued, resulting in one death and numerous cases of frostbite.

      Pavel Gusev, 25, is still reeling from a brush with death after he and his pregnant wife were stranded on a highway by a heavy snowstorm.

      He is also very angry.

      He and his wife, who is in her ninth month of pregnancy, were among more than 80 people whose vehicles were buried in a snowdrift on a highway in Russia's Urals region of Orenburg on January 2.

      Despite repeatedly calling emergency services for help, they were not rescued until the next day, almost 16 hours later.

      By that time, one man had frozen to death, an elderly woman had suffered a heart attack, and 12 others developed severe frostbite.

      "Some of the operators, young women, were awful," Gusev told RFE/RL. "They answered rudely that we should have stayed home, that we had no business driving in this weather, that this was our own fault."

      A woman traveling back from a maternity ward with her newborn baby was reportedly among those stranded in their vehicles.

      Gusev says that the highway was not closed. He denied media reports that said local emergency services had issued a warning not to use that road.

      He has filed a complaint to prosecutors, who have promised to look into the incident.

      He has also recorded a video appeal to President Vladimir Putin in which he accuses the Kremlin of asserting Russia’s influence abroad while failing to save its own citizens:

      "Where is our special equipment?" Gusev asks in the clip. "Are there no vehicles in Russia that can easily break through snowdrifts and rescue people? No one said anything about cars. They are just pieces of metal. Nobody needed them at that time. We were saving our lives and children. But we were just left to die there for a whole day."

      The video has been viewed more than 425,000 times since being posted on January 4.

      Other accounts by survivors have been widely circulated on social networks, too, sparking outrage and dismay.

      "We called, and called, and called, and called," wrote one survivor, Ayna Kereytova. "In response they promised, and promised, and promised, and promised -- they told us, ‘Wait 20 minutes, wait 40 minutes, wait another 40 minutes.’And so we sat there for 16 hours -- 16 endless, terrifying hours."

      Gusev says people shared cars, huddling together as vehicles ran out of fuel one after the other.

      He wrapped up his wife in seat covers and placed the windshield sun shade on her body. But the cold became so unbearable they had to seek refuge in another, better insulated car.

      He says the stranded travelers frequently phoned each other from neighboring vehicles to make sure they stayed awake and didn't freeze to death.

      "It was terrifying. We didn't know what to do. We were so desperate," he says. "I felt like death was breathing down my beck, standing next to me and getting closer every second. Each second felt like an eternity."

      According to Gusev, temperatures dropped so low that many resorted to burning their belongings and even parts of their cars.

      "They took some of their clothes off, their underwear, and burned them," he says. "They burned their parking tickets, their insurance documents, all their papers, anything that burned. They ripped the upholstery from the seats and burned everything they could to keep warm."

      When rescue finally came, the stranded motorists were stunned to see that their rescuers weren't actually from the emergency services.

      "An old tractor with a blade and a truck came," he says. "There were several officers from the police patrol service in the truck and a traffic police officer at the wheel. There was one rescuer from the emergency services. I don't know how he got there."

      Regional authorities insist they sent out rescue teams as soon as the first calls came in.

      According to officials, 157 rescuers were deployed along with 55 equipment units belonging to the Emergencies Ministry, and several warming centers were set up along the snowbound highway.

      Survivors and their relatives, however, angrily reject these claims.

      "No help was provided. These are lies and slander," Ksenia Zinnurova, the widow of the man who froze to death, told RFE/RL.

      Her husband, 31-year-old Eduard Zinnurov, appears to have left his vehicle with a friend to seek help. He reportedly tripped in the snow and, due to the heavy storm, reportedly lost sight of both his companion and the line of vehicles.

      Russian Motorists Trapped In Snowstorm Finally Rescued, After 16 Hours, One Death, And Many Cases Of Frostbite

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      Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


      • Putin returning Russia ‘not to Soviet but to Stalinist’ state security system, Felgenhauer says
        EUROMAIDAN PRESS Paul A. Goble 2016/09/22

        Reports that Vladimir Putin wants to create a single security agency in place of the plethora of such institutions Russia has now shows that he is seeking to return “not just to a Soviet but to a Stalinist” state security system, something that threatens both the Russian people and Russia’s neighbors, Pavel Felgenhauer says.

        The independent Russian military analyst argues that “Russia is a country of special services and that under existing conditions, the powers that be have no other choice” but to allow everything to fall part or “return to Stalinist methods” and use force to try to hold on.

        Discussions in Moscow about recreating a single ministry of state security are taking place now, Felgenhauer says,

        “because the situation in Russia is becoming still worse, its future prospects are quite bad, there is a foreign war and a domestic war, conflicts within the leadership, [and] a struggle between the defense ministry and the finance ministry.”

        Moreover, he says, “there is a catastrophic shortage of money, the life of the population is getting worse, and it is necessary to be prepared for anything.” That makes the creation of such a super state security ministry both understandable and timely as far as Putin is concerned.

        In the short-term, this institution will not threaten Ukraine directly, but over the longer haul, it will have an impact as the war drags on. Indeed, Felgenhauer says, it can pose a serious threat to Ukraine because of what it shows about the nature of the opponent Kyiv faces now and in the future.

        There is a more immediate Ukrainian link, and it is one that Russia, Ukraine and the entire international community should recognize and draw conclusions from: Putin tested out the process of “creating such agencies” in the “LNR” and “DNR” and is now translating them into Russia, yet another indication of kind of cancers they represent to Russia and the world. Putin returning Russia ‘not to Soviet but to Stalinist’ state security system, Felgenhauer says | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

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        • please delete

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          • Kremlin’s double standards on language issues in post-Soviet space continued
            EUROMAIDAN PRESS Paul A. Goble 2016/09/22

            More than most governments, the Kremlin behaves in exactly the same way it routinely accuses other countries of doing, adopting patently double standards on issues ranging from separatism – it opposes it vigorously within Russia while sponsoring it elsewhere – to the status of Russian language in former Soviet space.

            In a new article, Vadim Shtepa, a Russian regionalist now living in exile in Estonia, points out the obvious: the Kremlin condemns precisely those countries that in fact are most supportive of Russian and avoids condemning those that are the least when it suits its political interests.

            Vladimir Putin in his recent message to Uzbekistan on the occasion of the death of Islam Karimov failed to say anything about the fact that even though 20 percent of the population of Tashkent consists of ethnic Russians, there are “only two schools with Russian as the language of instruction,” Shtepa notes.

            That is typical of Putin’s and Moscow’s approach to almost all the governments in Central Asia, even though the ethnic Russian and Russian-speaking portions of the populations of the five countries there have fallen dramatically as the two groups return to Russia, the Karelian regionalist says.

            In Ashkhabad, the capital of Turkmenistan, for example, there is only one Russian school even though the number of ethnic Russians in Turkmenistan is estimated at more than 100,000, with a significant portion of these living in the capital. They can’t own property legally, and they have no registered social organizations.

            In Tajikistan, where Russia has a military base, the situation is somewhat better for Russian speakers, but only because it is their children for whom the remaining 26 Russian language schools in that country appear to be functioning. (There are only 35,000 ethnic Russians left in Tajikistan.)

            The situation in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan is somewhat better from a Russian point of view. Both these countries have designated Russian in their constitutions as “the language of inter-national communication.” Nonetheless, the share of Russians in Kazakhstan has fallen by a third since 1999 and the number of Russian schools by more than that to 1524.

            Kyrgyzstan has the same number of Russian language schools – 162 – but for the same reason that Tajikistan has kept some open: they are in the first instance for children of Russian military personnel at the Kant airbase, Shtepa says.

            These trends would seem to make Central Asia an appropriate target for Moscow’s criticism, but there has been little with regard to language issues. Instead, because “the Kremlin considers these countries as the unqualified zone of its influence,” it does not raise the issue lest it offend local leaders.

            So much for the defense of Putin’s vaunted “Russian world.”

            But with regard to the Baltic countries, Georgia and Moldova, states which have reoriented themselves away from Moscow and toward the West. Moscow’s criticism, often picked up in the West by those who do not or choose not to know any better, has been nearly constant.

            And that despite the fact that these countries are more supportive of Russian language education than are the Central Asians. In Tallinn, there are today four schools and 11 gymnasia with Russia as the language of instruction. In Riga, 56 of the 152 primary and secondary schools are Russian-language. And in Vilnius, there are 21 Russian schools even though Russians there form only 21 percent of the population.

            As Shtepa points out, “Kremlin propaganda loves to accuse Estonia and Latvia” of oppressing “’the non-citizens.’” But since the start of this year, all the children of “’non-citizens’” in Estonia “automatically get citizenship, even as Moscow has imposed visa restrictions on those Russians born in these countries after 1992.

            “The Kremlin’s double standards are especially obvious” in the cases of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, Shtepa continues. When these countries have anti-Russian governments, the Kremlin condemns them for discriminating against Russians. When the governments seek better ties with Moscow, such criticism ends even though nothing has changed on the ground.

            Ukraine currently has 1256 schools in which Russian is the language of instruction and in which about 700,000 of the pupils are Russians or Russian-speakers. But since the 2014 invasion, Moscow propagandists have repeatedly charged that Ukraine is closing all Russian-language schools and suppressing Russian-language institutions.

            Moscow’s policies in occupied Crimea are especially instructive. The Russians proclaimed that there are now three state languages there, Russian, Ukrainian, and Crimean Tatar, but the number of children studying in Crimean Tatar has declined from 5406 before the Anschluss to 4740 now.
            Kremlin's double standards on language issues in post-Soviet space continued | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

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            • Ukraine is interested in replacing Russian satellite television with South Korean TV
              UAWIRE ORG September 21, 2016 4:01:46 PM

              The Chairman of the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine, Yuriy Artemenko, reported that Ukraine is interested in replacing Russian TV Channels in the Ukrainian satellite network with South Korean TV.

              “We have blocked the work of 77 Russian satellite TV Channels because of Russia’s aggression over the last two years. Instead, 34 new Ukrainian satellite TV Channels have appeared. These aren’t enough for us, which is why we want to have Korean Channels,” Artemenko said during the Kyiv Media Week media forum. He noted that South Korea is one of the world leaders in producing TV programming.

              “If we had more Korean Channels, Ukrainian people would be grateful,” Artemenko noted. According to the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine, the number of Ukrainian satellite TV Channels increased by 20%, from 101 in 2014 to 122 in 2016. At the same time, a significant decrease in the number of Russian Channels (from 72 in 2014 to 14 in 2016) was observed.

              The number of Channels from the European Union also has increased, from 122 in 2014 to 140 in 2016. Taking into consideration the small number of channels from other States, Ukraine has 281 satellite channels in 2016, which is 5.8% lower than in 2014 (298 channels).

              The majority of Russian TV Channels was banned in 2014 during the active phase of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. The National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine periodically excludes small Russian channels that remained on air in Ukraine.
              UAWire - Ukraine is interested in replacing Russian satellite television with South Korean TV

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              • British media reported on secret nuclear deal between Russia and South Africa
                UAWIRE ORG September 21, 2016 8:25:30 AM

                South African President Jacob Zuma signed a secret nuclear agreement with Russia. As a result of a multi-billion dollar deal, Russians will build eight nuclear power plants in the African country, The Times reported.

                Experts warn the South African authorities that the project, lasting a century, will plunge the country into massive debt and “bring an important ally of the West closer with Moscow.”

                Zuma, who since 2014 has held several meetings with the leader of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, insists on the approval of a joint project with Rosatom, the article says.

                Two agreements on the construction of a nuclear power plant were signed. The agreement was not considered in the South African parliament. Organization on Combating the Tax Abuse (Outa) argues that because of the deal, Pretoria will have to take loans worth GBP 65 billion. As a result, the government will be forced to carry out cuts in education, infrastructure and health care, Outa notes. UAWire - British media reported on secret nuclear deal between Russia and South Africa

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                • Ground frost to hit almost all regions of Ukraine over coming days
                  UKRINFORM 21/09.2016

                  Ground frosts are expected on the soil surface and in places in the air in almost all regions of Ukraine, with the threat of fire remaining, the press service of the Ukrainian Emergency Ministry has reported.

                  "On September 21-23 the temperature of the soil surface and air temperature in places will be 0-5 degrees in Volyn, Rivne, Khmelnytsky, Ternopil, Lviv, Zakarpattia, Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi, Zhytomyr, Kyiv, Sumy, Chernihiv, Vinnytsia, Cherkasy and PoltavaRegions," the report says.

                  At the same time, in the period of September 21-23 the threat of fire in Volyn, Rivne, Khmelnytsky, Zhytomyr, Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Vinnytsia, Cherkasy and Poltava Regions remains extremely high.
                  Ground frost to hit almost all regions of Ukraine over coming days - 21.09.2016 12:58 — Ukrinform News

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                  • ALANTIC COUNCIL Anastasiya Ringis September 21, 2016
                    Meet Maxim Nefyodov: How Ukrainian Geeks Tackled Corruption in Public Procurement

                    Ukrayinska Pravda published his article as part of a special project on New Leaders, which acquaints the public with young Ukrainians who are changing the country through hard work, creativity, talent, and self-sacrifice.
                    One day in September 2013, when Maxim Nefyodov, a managing partner at the investment firm Icon Private Equity, was leaving his office on Rylskiy Lane, he witnessed a funny scene. Accompanied by eight bodyguards, President Viktor Yanukovych’s odious ally, Yuriy Ivanyushchenko, was walking from an office building to his luxury SUV.

                    To Nefyodov this spectacle looked amusing. “Why would anyone live like this to be so afraid?” he thought.

                    A chance encounter with Yanukovych’s close ally made Nefyodov think again about Ukraine’s macroeconomic indicators, which had especially worried the firm’s partners in the past year.

                    Just six months prior to this encounter, Icon decided to exit from Ukraine’s private sector. The firm’s portfolio was 40 percent invested in domestic companies.

                    To put it mildly, the country was moving in the wrong direction. "The figures were illustrating this vividly,” Nefyodov said. [He is now Ukraine’s Deputy Minister for Economic Development and Trade.]

                    Three years later, he’s displaying figures from a public procurement website on his iPhone. He’s delighted with these figures.

                    “Just look, the ProZorro e-public procurement system has already saved 3.17 billion hryvnias (approximately $120,000,000) while hosting over 170,000 tenders,” he beams and takes a sip of beer. We’re meeting late in the evening at one of Kyiv’s restaurants.

                    The new public procurement system is considered to be one of the landmark reforms in Ukraine during the last two and a half years.

                    To many, the thirty-two-year-old technocrat Nefyodov has become the symbol of professional reform implementation.

                    “I’m just consistent,” Nefyodov speaks modestly of himself.

                    On December 10, 2013, he was among those who came to hold the defense lines on Independence Square (Maidan) in Kyiv when the regime tried to demolish the tent city of protestors.

                    He will never forget that winter.

                    Back then, he often put on his snowboard helmet and went to the Maidan after work.

                    On February 18, one and a half hours before the Trade Unions Building was set on fire, he and his friends brought medical supplies to the building, [which became Euromaidan’s headquarters]. He barely escaped being beaten by pro-Russian titushki [street hooligans supporting Yanukovych]. “Fortunately, these were Kyiv titushki. I knew how to handle them. I’m from Troeshchiny district,” the deputy minister jokes.

                    That same day, he saw someone instructing several well-built men near a luxury SUV, parked on the same Rylsky Lane.

                    “This is a clash of civilizations. No one understood how this would end for us. But we all knew that this was our chance, and we must stand strong until the end,” he said.

                    He is also discussing the introduction of the ProZorro e-public procurement system: “Stand firm and don’t back down until you achieve results.”

                    Ready for mobilization

                    In fall 2014, while continuing to manage the firm, Nefyodov closely followed the situation in eastern Ukraine.

                    He did not attend the military science department nor was he ever interested in military affairs. But he never stopped thinking that simply transferring money to volunteer foundations was enough.

                    By the end of the year, some of Nefyodov’s peers began working for the government. Among them were Natalie Jaresko, the Minister of Finance, formerly chief executive officer at Horizon Capital, and Andrey Pivovarskiy, the Minister of Infrastructure, with whom Nefyodov had worked for five years at Dragon Capital.

                    “I had a clear sense then that there is a window of opportunity. This looks very similar to investments. There is a time when one should join the project and a time when one should exit it. The main thing is to seize the right moment,” Nefyodov says.

                    It was important not to lose momentum. And so he started sending text messages to his former colleagues and new public officials saying: “If you need me, I’m ready to volunteer.”

                    Nefyodov says that fixing an inefficient government is not much different from what he did in the private sector. In both cases, one has to analyze the existing business processes and make them more effective.

                    A graduate of the economics department [at Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University] who began working in the finance industry when he was nineteen-years-old, he understood how to do project management.

                    He was born into a family of intellectuals. His mother is a professor of advanced mathematics at Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, and his father specializes in computer algorithms. At four, Maxim was given Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and by then, he could read fluently. He began elementary school in third grade, skipping the first and second grades since there was no need for them.

                    When he was fifteen-years-old, he was accepted to the department of economics at Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University. He graduated summa cum laude.

                    He began his career at Golden Gate Business. The next four years he worked at Dragon Capital. And, in 2010, he became a managing partner at Icon Private Equity.

                    Nefyodov envisioned good prospects for himself in the finance industry. Back then he knew for certain that he would someday tell his children how he earned his first million.

                    “I don’t understand corrupt officials. They are prepared to bend the whole country and relinquish a place in the history books for the sake of buying a yacht, which they won’t even use. They’re ill-educated and not competitive in a global world,” Nefyodov said.

                    In fall 2014, he seriously thought of what he would say in ten years when asked the question, “What were you doing when the war was on?”

                    Meanwhile, Boris Lozhkin, the head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine, was searching for future ministers for the government. One of the individuals who was carrying out the search was Vladimir Kolomoets, a partner at the headhunting firm Pedersen & Partners.

                    One Sunday evening, Kolomoets called Nefyodov and offered to introduce him to Aivaras Abromavicius, then Minister of Economic Development and Trade. Prior to that, Nefyodov had already met Andrey Pivovarskiy, then Minister of Infrastructure, and planned to join his team.

                    “Pivovarskiy already has deputies, and I don’t,” said Abromavicius.

                    A few weeks later, on February 18, 2015, Nefyodov was appointed as a deputy to Abromavicius.

                    Having worked for less than a month in the ministry, the newly appointed government official met with friends over a beer.

                    “If you think we have government, forget it. It doesn’t exist. I checked. We have to build it from scratch. Instead of a government, we have a cargo cult. We built a plane from branches and stones and then blame the pilot for its inability to fly,” he described the system’s backwardness.

                    The people with their values and convictions make the system, Nefyodov said.

                    Since Abromavicius and Nefyodov came to office, the number of officials working in the ministry was cut in half, although the first purges in the ministry began under Pavel Sheremeta, the first Minister of Economic Development and Trade after the Euromaidan revolution.

                    The funniest thing, according to Nefyodov, was firing people wearing Patek Philippe watches with an official monthly salary of 5,000 hryvnias (approximately $190).

                    One of the key tasks Abromavicius assigned to Nefyodov was to bring order to public procurement.

                    Nefyodov knew that there was a volunteer project developed by the civic platform Nova Krayina that works in this specific area. He called Valery Pekar, a founder of the coalition.

                    It’s Time to Join the Government

                    By the time of the meeting, the future Deputy Minister Alexandr Starodubtsev, formerly a volunteer of Nova Krayina and a co-founder of the Maidan Open University, gathered a team of volunteer developers. They had already been developing an online platform for public procurement.

                    Andrey Kucherenko, an employee at Ernst & Young, who was introducing similar systems in big companies, was among its volunteers. Thanks to his experience, a beta version of ProZorro came to life.

                    Georgian consultants, Tato Urjumelashvili and David Marghania, who were developing a similar system in Georgia, helped the team upgrade the platform.

                    Since there was no legislation requiring government agencies to use the online platform, the project, initiated by civil society, was likely to fail. Dmitry Shimkiv, deputy head of the Presidential Administration, pushed the team to launch the system on below-threshold tenders less than 100,000 hryvnias [approximately $3,800] for the purchase of goods and less than one million hryvnias [approximately $38,000] for the purchase of services.

                    “Stop hiding. If you want to reform the government, you should become the government,” Starodubtsev told Nefyodov at the first meeting.

                    He practically brought the ProZorro team into the ministry.

                    In March 2015, Starodubtsev became the head of the public procurement department at the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade.

                    “To avoid the slow-down of public procurement reform, we had to take up all the key positions,” the deputy minister said. People with the ability to influence decision making are critical to the reform process.


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                    • How Ukrainian Geeks Tackled Corruption in Public Procurement Part 2

                      To make the reform succeed, Nefyodov’s team had to take over the position of the director of a state company called Zovnishtorgvydav. The company was publishing the only magazine about public procurement and was responsible for running the online platform.

                      Nefyodov’s team had to fight with the director of the company for several months. But in the end, after another ministerial audit, the director was terminated from office.

                      Alexandr Nakhod, who managed to work as deputy financial director at Interpipe, Ukrtelecom, and in the agricultural sector, mobilized his resources to get this position.

                      In December 2015, the ProZorro system was transferred to the balance sheet of state-owned enterprise Zovnishtorgvydav, later renamed as ProZorro.

                      Nakhod’s motivation is similar to Nefyodov’s: “I realized that I’m much more effective in public service than on the battle front.”

                      In May 2015, Nakhod started working at Zovnishtorgvydav.

                      He invited people from the private sector and ProZorro volunteers to fill 80 percent of executive positions.

                      During interviews, Starodubtsev and Nakhod told candidates right away that there was little money but plenty of interesting work. The three key questions asked in an interview were: “Do you have a financial cushion? What did you on the Maidan? And what do you think about the country’s current situation?”

                      Most people who came from the private sector call their participation in ProZorro professional volunteerism.

                      “I saw Starodubtsev’s post on Facebook, in which he invited us to apply to ProZorro and even left his phone number. I thought what an interesting public official and called,” said Nadezhda Begun, who had worked as a marketing specialist at Kyivstar for ten years. She started as a volunteer helping ProZorro with marketing and organizing events and then joined the team full-time.

                      Starodubtsev said that people who came from the private sector brought the culture of success to the public procurement department. But before that a bureaucratic culture prevailed in all levels of government. Nevertheless, some of the old-timers who embraced change and were willing to be result-oriented remained on the team and took over the regulatory framework. This allowed the newcomers from business to focus on reform.

                      The current director of ProZorro, Nakhod, was also able to attract professional volunteers. For example, good pro bono lawyers now consult ProZorro. The ProZorro ecosystem has a few dozen experts who provide different services to the team.

                      The government did not finance public procurement reform.

                      International donors funded the project, giving about $600,000 to implement various stages of the reform. Moreover, according to Nefyodov, donors were willing to contribute at least $900,000.
                      Most of the expenses were for server hosting and technical support, but user training and promotion also cost a considerable amount.

                      It’s not enough to bring companies into the system; we also have to teach them how to use it effectively.

                      Nevertheless, recognition of ProZorro's importance is growing. For example, after running a “Bribeman” antihero information campaign under the slogan “The e-system defeats the Bribeman. Transparent public tenders,” the number of online visitors from the regions increased by 30 percent.

                      ProZorro can be compared to a social network of buyers and suppliers. It has an administrator of the central database system. The system is connected to private online platforms, which automatically show information about tenders.

                      Suppliers pay between seventeen to 1,700 hryvnias (approximately $0.65 to $65) per tender. The online platforms get about 60 percent of this amount; the rest goes to ProZorro earnings.

                      By the end of 2016, the team plans to start investing in human resource development, including salary increases for staff. Managers now make about 10,000 hryvnias (approximately $380) per month, while chief specialists make about 6,000 hryvnias (approximately $230) per month.

                      ProZorro is a platform based upon open code. “We did this on purpose, so no one could usurp the system,” Starodubtsev said. Moldova has already shown interest in the code.

                      In May, ProZorro won the World Procurement Award in the public sector category, [which is the most prestigious award in the procurement industry]. The Ukrainian system surpassed the entries of the UK Ministry of Justice, the Australian Department of Education, and the US presidential administration. All of them were shortlisted in the competition.

                      This is an important victory point for ProZorro fighters.

                      “We were well aware that people who make millions in schemes with public procurement will make every effort to fight us. That is why we are acting judiciously without undermining anyone’s specific interests. We make ProZorro a new norm. All of the tenders will eventually go only through the public procurement system,” Nefyodov said.

                      The team’s tasks for the near future are “to institutionalize and become stronger by establishing laws, regulations, and judicial rulings.”

                      Can ProZorro’s Success Be Scaled Up?

                      The ProZorro team divides everyone’s roles and responsibilities.

                      “Nefyodov is the front man. He did most of the PR and political lobbying. He spoke with government officials, attended committees, and discussed the laws needed to be adopted for the system to work,” Starodubtsev said. He spends a lot of time on the project’s architecture.

                      Nefyodov cuts through all the bureaucratic red tape.

                      The ProZorro team is jokingly called a cult. But there is a large grain of truth in this joke.

                      In the joint office kitchen, which used to be the office of Zovnishtorgvydav, young people are vividly discussing the purchase of mops by a Kyiv hospital. Given the vague description of the item, the hospital found a loophole in the ProZorro e-procurement system and bought fifty mops for 123,000 hryvnias (approximately $4,700).

                      The ProZorro staff are rejoicing like children because the story made it into the media. Perhaps this news will attract the private sector. The more suppliers there are, the greater the competition and better conditions there will be. Competition is the best control over purchasing transactions.

                      “The competitor goes to auctions, knows the subject well, and understands written terms for a specific supplier. At the same time, he may file a complaint or leave a comment on the website,” Begun explains.

                      The staff at Transparency International process these requests.

                      This week, Nakhod announced his resignation as the general manager of the ProZorro company.

                      Begun is one of the candidates for his position.

                      She is confident that the state company will become the first effective public IT company that provides high-quality service.

                      “We are productive not because we have a brilliant plan, but because we work harder than the others,” Nefyodov said.

                      He loves working in public service, and it is clearly within his grasp.

                      But back in May, Nefyodov told Ukrayinskaya Pravda that he was going to return to business. Why? The answer is simple. The cash reserves he had in February 2015 are running low.

                      Nevertheless, when Prime Minister Volodymr Groysman formed the new government, Nefyodov’s candidacy for the position of Minister of Social Policy was discussed for almost twenty-four hours. Nefyodov seemed ready to limit himself to bread and water for the sake of experiment.

                      “The Ministry of Social Policy is one hell of a challenge. There were so many things there that needed to be reformed and more importantly to show prompt results,” he said.

                      But then, behind the scenes, politicians said this about Nefyodov: “We don’t understand him,” which actually meant no one from the old guard understood who he was.

                      In the old guard’s world, everyone has connections.

                      “Who am I? I am a hipster from the Maidan,” Nefyodov joked.

                      In the new order of domestic politics, everyone is a volunteer.

                      “You know, on December 10, I went to the Maidan and met my son in the crowd. I was very pleased that without pre-arranging we found ourselves in the midst of historical events,” Eugene Nefyodov said, describing his son.

                      He considers Max an ordinary guy and said that all of his friends are professionals, fluent in English, with a global vision and yearn for change in the country.

                      But only a few decided to go into public service.

                      Max Nefyodov is one of the first ones who nonetheless took a risk.
                      Meet Maxim Nefyodov: How Ukrainian Geeks Tackled Corruption in Public Procurement

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                      • Intelligence: Russia has stepped up training of its strategic nuclear force
                        UAWIRE ORG September 22, 2016 3:41:00 PM

                        Russia has intensified the operational and combat training of its Strategic Nuclear Forces. This was posted by the press service of the Chief Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine on Facebook.

                        “Between the 19th and the 22nd of September, command and staff training of the 33 Missile Army (Omsk) of the Strategic Rocket Forces of the Armed Forces of Russia was being implemented. The purpose of the training was to determine the readiness of the Strategic Rocket Forces (RVSN) to fulfill their missions in a large-scale war with the use of nuclear weapons. It will also determine the capabilities of new weapons and whether the automated control system of the Strategic Rocket Forces can carry out their missions,” the statement said.

                        In addition to this training, strategic command-staff exercises of the Strategic Nuclear Forces, which involve the land, air and sea components of the nuclear triad, have been scheduled to be held between the 4th and the 11th of October. UAWire - Intelligence: Russia has stepped up training of its strategic nuclear force

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                        • CIA: Putin is concerned over possible unrest in Russia
                          UAWIRE ORG September 22, 2016 1:36:00 PM

                          The Head of the CIA unit that watches Russia, Peter Klement, stated that the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, is concerned that instability and unrest will prevail in Russia, the Voice of America reported. Klement believes that Putin is likely to present his candidacy for elections in 2018 and will initiate a more severe style of governance because of that concern.

                          Klement made particular mention of reports regarding the possible major reorganization of the Russian Special Services, when the agencies of domestic and foreign intelligence are united into one single organization dominated by the Federal Security Bureau (FSB). “I see potential tightening of control over society in this,” he said, noting that Russia is mired in an oil mono-economy. Commenting on the reports regarding the intention of the Russian Government to raise the retirement age in the country, Klement stated that Russia is beginning to save money on everything.

                          Putin notably focused on the cessation of post-Soviet chaos and reintegration of Russia into the system of international order during his first term of office in 2000. “Now, things have gone back to the way they were. Now, I see much more of the Committee for State Security (KGB) in him than we ever knew. Vladimir Putin wants to leave behind a legacy of strong leadership that would include the occupation of the Crimea in March 2014,” Klement added.

                          “I think that now the Russian President believes that he has done something that will ensure him a place in Russian history. Putin also wants to be a man who restored the former glory of Russia and undoubtedly believes that Russia should be strong, competitive and a military state.”

                          Klement also added that interference of the Russian President in the civil war in Syria made the United States come to the negotiating table and recognize Vladimir Putin as an equal member.
                          UAWire - CIA: Putin is concerned over possible unrest in Russia

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                          • Poland: Russia's embargo only hurts Russia itself
                            UAWIRE ORG September 21, 2016 11:35:51 PM

                            The first victims of Russia’s embargo are Russian entrepreneurs themselves, while Polish businessmen increase exports and find new markets in Africa and Asia, according to a report by the Polish Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers.

                            As the newspaper Gazeta Polska Codziennie reports, last year the value of exports amounted to 179.5 billion euro, registering a growth rate of 8.3% as compared to 2014. Thus, the food restrictions imposed two years ago by Russia “did not affect the results of Polish exports.”

                            The newspaper notes that Russia “is spreading false information regarding the allegedly great losses of Polish companies due to the embargo,” and the head of the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance estimated Polish losses to be $800 billion.

                            In 2015, the main export markets for Poland were Germany, Great Britain, the Czech Republic, Italy, France and the Netherlands, as noted in the report.

                            “If we take away oil and gas revenues, which any Russian company could get, Russia would be among the poorest countries in the world,” the President of the Polish Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers, Cezary Kaźmierczak, added. UAWire - Poland: Russia's embargo only hurts Russia itself

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                            • Putin appoints ex-Duma Speaker chief of foreign intel service Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed Sergey Naryshkin head of the SVR Foreign Intelligence Service, according to RBC.
                              UNIAN 22 Sept 2016

                              Putin made the proposal during a meeting with Naryshkin and the current head of the SVR Mikhail Fradkov, reads the report. Naryshkin told Putin that he considered his offer "as an assignment of the Head of State". Earlier, Naryshkin was elected to the State Duma of the seventh convocation in a single-mandate constituency No.112 "Leningrad Oblast - Kingisepp" as well as through the federal list of "Yedinaya Rossiya [United Rusia] Party. He declined a State Duma mandate in connection with the new appointment. Earlier, media reported that First Deputy Head of Presidential Administration Vyacheslav Volodin would be nominated for the post of the Speaker of the State Duma on September 24 at a joint meeting of the General Council and the Higher Council of Yedinaya Rossiya.
                              Putin appoints ex-Duma Speaker chief of foreign intel service

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                              • America Is Not the Greatest Country on Earth. It’s No. 28
                                Violence, alcoholism, and obesity pose the biggest risks in the U.S. But the rest of the world isn’t doing much better.
                                BLOOMBERG Eric Roston Sept 22, 2016

                                Every study ranking nations by health or living standards invariably offers Scandinavian social democracies a chance to show their quiet dominance. A new analysis published this week—perhaps the most comprehensive ever—is no different. But what it does reveal are the broad shortcomings of sustainable development efforts, the new shorthand for not killing ourselves or the planet, as well as the specific afflictions of a certain North American country.

                                Iceland and Sweden share the top slot with Singapore as world leaders when it comes to health goals set by the United Nations, according to a report published in the Lancet. Using the UN’s sustainable development goals as guideposts, which measure the obvious (poverty, clean water, education) and less obvious (societal inequality, industry innovation), more than 1,870 researchers in 124 countries compiled data on 33 different indicators of progress toward the UN goals related to health.

                                The massive study emerged from a decadelong collaboration focused on the worldwide distribution of disease. About a year and a half ago, the researchers involved decided their data might help measure progress on what may be the single most ambitious undertaking humans have ever committed themselves to: survival. In doing so, they came up with some disturbing findings, including that the country with the biggest economy (not to mention, if we’re talking about health, multibillion-dollar health-food and fitness industries) ranks No. 28 overall, between Japan and Estonia.


                                Eradicating disease and raising living standards are lofty goals that have attracted some of the biggest names to philanthropy. Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, his wife and a pediatrician, on Wednesday pledged $3 billion toward the effort. The new study itself was funded by (but received no input from) the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) themselves are a successor to the Millennium Development Goals, a UN initiative that from 2000 to 2015 lifted a billion people out of extreme poverty, halved the mortality of children younger than five years old, and raised by about 60 percent the number of births attended to by a skilled health worker.

                                The research team scrubbed data obtained on dozens of topics from all over the world. For example, to make sure they had adequate data on vaccine coverage for each region, they looked at public surveys, records of pharmaceutical manufacturers, and administrative records of inoculations. “We don’t necessarily believe what everybody says,” says Christopher Murray, global heath professor at the University of Washington and a lead author of the study. “There are so many ways they can miss people or be biased.”

                                The U.S. scores its highest marks in water, sanitation, and child development. That’s the upside. Unsurprisingly, interpersonal violence (think gun crime) takes a heavy toll on America’s overall ranking. Response to natural disasters, HIV, suicide, obesity, and alcohol abuse all require attention in the U.S.

                                Also noteworthy are basic public health metrics that America. doesn’t perform as well on as other developed countries. The U.S. is No. 64 in the rate of mothers dying for every 100,000 births, and No. 40 when it comes to the rate children under age five die.

                                “The U.S. isn’t doing as well as it perhaps should compared with some countries in Western Europe,” Murray said.


                                In all regions of the world and across the economic development spectrum, the problem of overweight children has grown worse, the study shows.

                                The authors lauded five countries in particular, one from each quintile, for their prominent gains:

                                --- Timor-Leste rebuilt its health service since 2000 after years of war.
                                --- Tajikistan reformed its health system in the late 1990s and is winning a battle against malaria.
                                --- Colombia's health insurance program reaches more people than ever and covers more scenarios, including cancer.
                                --- Taiwan enacted road-safety laws that reduced auto-related deaths there.
                                --- Iceland, which barely edges out Singapore and Sweden for the No. 1 spot, is credited for aggressive anti-tobacco policies and its publicly funded universal health-care system.

                                The research group allowed organizers to “harness people’s knowledge and expertise, local data sources, and quirky knowledge that only somebody locally may know,” said Murray. But the UN goals were a tough starting point, given their nebulous categories and confusing terminology. The whole system has the intuitive clarity of Britain's pre-1971 monetary system, with its pound (or quid), shilling (or bob), pence, half-crown, and farthing. Economist William Easterly of New York University has ridiculed the SDGs as “senseless, dreamy, garbled.” But making fun of international bureaucratese is as easy as measuring progress toward the UN goals is hard. And that’s exactly what the new Lancet enterprise does—combing the world of public-health research to measure where each nation succeeds, or needs work.

                                The voluminous work that went into the paper may make measuring the UN goals on health seem even more daunting: The researchers were able so far to evaluate just 70 percent of the health-related indicators called for by the UN.

                                It may not be pretty, but “we have no chance of success if we can’t agree on what’s critical,” said Linda Fried, dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.


                                America Is Not the Greatest Country on Earth. It’s No. 28 - Bloomberg

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