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  • Savchenko Publishes ‘Prisoner’ Lists, Angering Ukrainian Authorities
    RADIO FREE EUROPE Christopher Miller Jan 10, 2017

    KYIV -- Ukrainian lawmaker Nadia Savchenko has published the names of hundreds of people who have been taken captive or gone missing during the nearly three-year-old war in eastern Ukraine, ignoring appeals by authorities to keep the information secret.

    In a Facebook post on January 10, Savchenko, a former military navigator who was jailed in Russia in 2014 and became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance against Russian aggression before her release in May, said she hoped that by publicizing the lists Ukrainian authorities would work faster to facilitate their release.

    "Why publish the lists of prisoners and missing people?" she wrote. "So that it would be possible to find them!"

    Savchenko laid out a three-step plan to exchange captives, find those believed to be held in secret jails, and locate and identify the remains of those missing who are found dead.

    A senior official at the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) told RFE/RL on condition of anonymity so that he could speak freely that his office was "not supportive" of Savchenko's decision to publish the lists. Doing so, he said, makes relatives of those people listed "more vulnerable to scammers and people who want to abuse that information," adding that it was the family's right to decide whether they wanted the names of their loved ones to be disclosed.

    "We cooperated with [Savchenko] because after her release she wanted to help [with prisoner exchanges]," the SBU official said. "We shared information with her in confidence on the condition that she would not make that info public."

    Releasing the information, he added, "damages the credibility of the Ukrainian side."

    Secret Meeting
    Savchenko outraged Ukrainian authorities last month after meeting in secret on a trip to Minsk with separatist leaders for consultations on prisoner swaps. Criticized by her own political party for the move, she quit and launched her own political movement.

    More than 9,750 people have been killed since the conflict between Kyiv's forces and Russia-backed separatists erupted in eastern Ukraine in April 2014, after Russia seized control of the Crimea Peninsula.

    Savchenko says she was abducted by Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine in June 2014 and taken illegally into Russia, where she was jailed and tried on charges of involvement in what Moscow called the killing of two Russian journalists who died in the conflict.

    Savchenko was convicted earlier this year and sentenced to 22 years in prison, but was pardoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin in May and released in a swap for two Russians held by Kyiv. She was widely hailed as a hero upon her return to Ukraine, but has faced criticism from nationalists since then.
    Savchenko Publishes ‘Prisoner’ Lists, Angering Ukrainian Authorities

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    • Chrystia Freeland takes over Foreign Affairs as Trudeau shuffles cabinet - Stephane Dion will pursue work 'outside active politics' after being dropped from inner circle
      UNIAN Jan 10, 2017

      Freeland, who leaves the international trade portfolio, will replace Stephane Dion, who is leaving politics to take a diplomatic post, CBC News reports. Francois-Philippe Champagne will become minister of international trade.

      Freeland is of a Ukrainian origin. She was born in 1968, studied at Harvard and Oxford. She also worked as a journalist and has held various editorial positions in the Financial Times, Globe and Mail, and Thomson Reuters

      Politician with Ukrainian roots to become Canada's next foreign minister

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      • U.S. military continues big buildup on NATO's eastern flank to counter Russian aggression The U.S. military and NATO are seeking to boost their ability to quickly respond to emerging threats by pre-positioning supplies and equipment across Europe, according to Haaretz.
        UNIAN Jan 11, 2017

        The U.S. military on Sunday vowed to increase the scope and complexity of its European training exercises to deter Russian aggression, as more U.S. tanks, trucks and other equipment arrived in Germany for a big buildup on NATO's eastern flank, Haaretz reported.

        "Let me be clear: This is one part of our efforts to deter Russian aggression, ensure the territorial integrity of our allies and maintain a Europe that is whole, free, prosperous, and at peace," U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Tim Ray, deputy commander of U.S. European Command, said in prepared remarks.

        Ray underscored the United States' "rock-solid commitment to Europe" in the northern German port of Bremerhaven, where he marked the arrival in recent days of some 2,800 pieces ofmilitary equipment that will be used by nearly 4,000 U.S. troops in exercises in NATO states near Russia.

        The U.S. and NATO buildup in eastern Europe comes days after U.S. intelligence agencies accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of ordering an effort to help Republican Donald Trump's electoral chances by discrediting Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign.

        Ray said the U.S. military's nearly 70,000 service members in Europe were adapting to rapidly changing strategic challenges such as Russia's military operations in Ukraine, migrant flows from Syria, and Islamist radicalism, as evidenced by a truck attack in Berlin that killed 12 people in December.

        The U.S. military and NATO are seeking to boost their ability to quickly respond to emerging threats by pre-positioning supplies and equipment across Europe, while upgrading airfields, ranges and other infrastructure after years of neglect.

        "We will also increase the scope and complexity of many exercises in our portfolio focusing on joint interoperability, missile defense and crisis response operations," Ray said.

        The newly arrived tanks and trucks were just one part of a larger force that included equipment in "space, cyberspace, the air and sea," he said.

        The U.S. and Polish military are gearing up for a large "massing" exercise at the end of January.

        U.S. officials say this year's military exercises will focus on better integrating disparate military components and domains, instead of focusing on single areas of concern, such as air superiority, as they were in the past.

        U.S. military continues big buildup on NATO's eastern flank to counter Russian aggression

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        • The Little Black Book of Billionaire Secrets
          Russian Billionaires, Including Some Tied To Putin, Have Gained $29 Billion Since Trump's Election
          FORBES Dan Alexander Jan 9, 2017 @ 09:55 AM

          Russia’s richest men, some of whom have close ties to President Vladimir Putin, have gained $29 billion since the election of Donald Trump, thanks to the rising value of Russian stocks and currency.

          Among the biggest beneficiaries: Gennady Timchenko, who was a primary target of 2014 U.S. government sanctions aimed at Putin’s inner circle. Shares of publicly traded natural gas producer Novatek are up 16% since the election, enough to boost the value of Timchenko’s estimated 23% stake by $1.8 billion.

          The Russian businessman sold his 43% stake in the oil trading firm Gunvor, which he cofounded, one day before the U.S. Treasury Department leveled sanctions against him in March 2014. U.S. officials alleged that Putin was invested in the firm and may have had access to its funds. Today much of Timchenko’s $15.1 billion fortune is privately held and therefore more difficult to track on a daily basis than his shares of Novatek.

          Russia’s richest man, Leonid Mikhelson, added more to his fortune than anyone else. Also an investor in Novatek, Mikhelson has gained an estimated $1.9 billion since the U.S. election, boosting his net worth to $18.2 billion. Mikhelson and Timchenko are also both invested alongside billionaire Kirill Shamalov, reportedly Putin’s son-in-law, in petrochemical giant Sibur.

          Altogether, Russia’s billionaires have added an estimated $29 billion since Trump’s election, more than the combined gains of billionaires in any country besides the United States. Forbes counts more than six times as many American billionaires as Russian billionaires. While the Americans have boosted their net worth by an average of 2.8% since the election, the richest Russians have increased their fortunes by an average of 7.1%.

          In addition to rising stocks, the oligarchs have benefitted from the comeback of the Russian ruble, which fell 55% against the U.S. dollar over 2014 and 2015 but rose 20% in 2016, thanks to increasing oil prices and hopes of better relations with the United States and Europe.

          Steel magnates Alexey Mordashov and Vladimir Lisin were other big gainers, adding $1.6 billion and $1.4 billion, respectively, since the election. Roughly $830 million of Lisin’s gain came within three days of Trump’s victory.
          http://www.forbes.com/sites/danalexa.../#6ef72df27b20

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          • Putin’s special operations achieve a second and larger victory when they are exposed
            EUROMAIDAN PRESS Paul A. Goble 2017/01/11

            Many in the US and elsewhere are horrified by Vladimir Putin’s overt and covert efforts to affect the outcome of the American presidential election, but they should be even more horrified by something else: the exposure of his involvement is giving him a second, larger but as yet unrecognized victory.

            That victory is this: from now on, at least as long as Putin is in power, Western elections are likely to be affected by the danger, real or not, of Russian involvement, transforming the campaigns into referenda on whether this or that candidate is Putin’s agent in place and thus undermining the democratic process by raising suspicions about the loyalty of this or that figure.

            Some will see this as nothing more than a restoration of the situation when in some countries, candidates for office denounced their opponents as pro-communist, the kiss of death in most of them. But this situation is far more insidious because it has less to do with ideology than with the exacerbation of disorder.

            The danger that this can and will happen is on view today when former Lithuanian defense minister Rasa Juknevičienė warns that Moscow will find and support its very own candidate for president when elections are held in 2019.

            She is not wrong to issue this warning: it is almost certainly correct in the case of that NATO country neighboring Russia. But the danger is that other officials, commentators, and politicians in other countries will follow suit, poisoning politics in their homelands whether Putin’s minions are directly involved or not.

            Many currently assume that Putin can only succeed in bringing to power his allies if he works covertly, noting that he and his propaganda apparatus in Moscow and the West have repeatedly denied that Moscow was involved in the American or other elections. But this view misses the point in a double sense.

            On the one hand, Putin is less interested in bringing to power some kind of Russian version of the Manchurian candidate than in creating chaos and confusion. Of course, he would like it if he could have a president in another country who would without question do his bidding. But he lacks the power to do that, at least in most cases.

            Even if he backs this or that candidate, as he has been doing, the best Putin can achieve is bringing into office someone who will start by being more sympathetic to Russia’s demands; but over time, the imperatives of the countries these people head will prove more important than the signals their new leaders get from the Kremlin.

            Consequently, it is important to recognize that Putin’s real goal is to delegitimize democracy elsewhere, to sow discord, and to weaken his opponents, given that he is fundamentally incapable of strengthening himself and his country except by aggression and bombast.

            And on the other hand, there is another aspect of Putin’s behavior, one rooted in his KGB past, that few in the West understand or are paying attention to. Unlike Western intelligence services who plan only for success, Russian secret services plan for failure and seek to design their operations in ways that give Moscow benefits even when such actions are exposed.

            That has been Moscow’s modus operandi since at least 1921 when Felix Dzerzhinsky, the founder of the Soviet Cheka secret police, set up the Operation Trust, a false-flag operation designed to penetrate, disorder and ultimately hamstring the military wing of the first Russian emigration. (For a good introduction, see this 35-page report).
            http://jmw.typepad.com/files/simpkin...foundation.pdf.

            Most leaders of the Russian emigration and many European intelligence services fell for the Operation Trust, but not all did. And when the Trust was exposed for what it really was in 1927 — an exposure that it is possible Moscow even played an active part in — many assumed that the Soviet intelligence services had suffered a serious defeat.

            At one level that may have been true, but at another, it definitely was not. The exposure of the Trust as a Soviet operation discredited all those who had believed in it, most prominently perhaps V.V. Shulgin who was manipulated by it and whose influence in the emigration never recovered. And that gave Moscow a second victory, even if many didn’t see it at the time.

            Countering Putin – who is first, last and always a KGB officer – as Captain Nikitin said, “there are no ex-KGB officers just as there are no ex-German shepherds” – requires a recognition of this danger. Exposing his criminal activities is critical; but exposing them in ways that do not allow him to walk away with a second victory is even more so.

            That isn’t going to be easy. The Trust or operations like it have been the bread and butter of Soviet and Russian intelligence operations at home and abroad ever since the 1920s. Recognizing what Moscow is about is the first task; explaining how Putin’s KGB tactics work is the absolutely necessary second one. Putin’s special operations achieve a second and larger victory when they are exposed | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

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            • Talk about ‘hybrid’ regime obscures Putin’s creation of a ‘neo-Stalinist state,’ Pavlova says
              EUROMAIDAN PRESS Paul A. Goble 2017/01/11

              http://euromaidanpress.com/wp-conten...6518390_n1.jpg

              Talk the supposedly “hybrid” nature of the Russian state now with its insistence that everyone avoid comparing it with any other regime intentionally or not obscures how Putin “reproduced precisely the Stalinist mechanism of power” and put in place “a neo-Stalinist authoritarian regime,” Irina Pavlova says.

              Those who dissent from the supporters of the “hybrid” conception, as the US-based Russian historian has for some time, are usually challenged by assertions that “Putin is not Stalin and that today there aren’t and cannot be mass repressions comparable in scope to the repressions of Stalin’s times.”

              “Of course, Pavlova says, “Putin isn’t Stalin for no two people are exactly alike. But the issue is not in personalities but in the phenomena which they embody. Today, mass repressions aren’t necessary – Stalin made them unnecessary” by his transformation of the people into “a space for manipulation by the powers that be.” Now only “targeted” repression is needed.

              As many fail to recognize, “the very essence of Stalinism is not mass repressions … but conspiratorial power with secret mechanisms for the taking of decisions,” a model which traces its origins back to the Russian state of Ivan the Terrible and one that “beautifully serves the goals and interests of President Putin and the members of his corporation.”

              This system, the historian points out, “guarantees the preservation both of their power and of their property. More than that, it satisfies their great power ambitions on the world political stage.”

              One can argue, Pavlova says, that “Putin has solved the problem of the consolidation of power even more effectively than Stalin did because in present-day information society, it is possible to achieve those goals not via mass repressions but rather via the effective manipulation of public consciousness.”

              The necessary conditions for this development “have existed from the times immediately after August 1991 “when the mechanism of communist rule with its infrastructure and secret way of doing business remained untouched.” The personification of power took place under Yeltsin when “the authority of the president turned out to be no less than” that of Soviet communist leaders.

              Putin simply completed this process with his power vertical and the appointment of governors, Pavlova continues, “the last step [being] the consolidation of power and the transformation of the Russian Federation from a formally federal state into a unitary one like it was under Stalin.”

              “The chief principle of the Stalinist and now the Putinist mechanism of power is the absolute secrecy of decision making.”

              Despite what some think, this is “not a weakness but a strength of this regime.” It hides “the real center of power, its main players, and their motives” and only those decisions the authorities want to be public are made so.

              But Putin has not simply restored the Stalinist mechanism of power, Pavlova argues. “He has legitimated it” in the minds of many who are prepared to label it and accept it as “’sovereign democracy’” or “’imitation democracy’” or even now, a “’hybrid’ regime” by having institutions that are just as fraudulent as was “’socialist democracy’ under Stalin.

              According to the Russian historian, “Putin in this regard has gone even further than Stalin did.” He has adapted “the Stalinist mechanism of power to the information era, having permitted the existence not only of the so-called systemic opposition but also the extra-systemic which can even harshly criticize him.”

              But these appearances are deceiving to those who want to be deceived because all opposition “operates on the Kremlin’s conditions” and its existence is used to legitimize the illegitimate, Pavlova suggests.

              In addition to restoring the Stalinist method of rule, “the Putin regime has successfully consolidated the population of the country around the supreme power,” by playing on memories of the Great Fatherland War and promoting the notion that Russia today is a besieged fortress surrounded by enemies.

              As a result of these Putin “achievements,” “Russians even in the 21st century remain an archaic and paternalistic people, completely depending and relying on the central powers” and retaining their “traditional anti-democratic and anti-Western Russian and Soviet values, which have come to form a great-power ideology or Russian fundamentalism.”

              That system of values includes the notion shared by the powers and the population that “the Russian people is the bearer of a special morality and a special feeling of justice, that the West can never be “a model for societal development,” that Russia must be an empire, and that they and their country have “a special historical mission.”

              Despite what some think or perhaps hope, this regime is “stable as never before,” Pavlova says. It is one like Stalin’s in which “the life of the Russian population will continue to get worse and its morality degrade, but the components of this regime, that is, the siloviki, the power elite, the military and the national corporations will flourish as before.”

              Such a state is “not a hybrid regime.” Those who think so are focusing only on “superficial phenomena.” Instead it is, as it has been since 2007, Pavlova says, quite obviously a dictatorship and should be called that rather than dressed up as something else. Talk about ‘hybrid’ regime obscures Putin’s creation of a ‘neo-Stalinist state,’ Pavlova says | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

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              • Tillerson to Address Russia, NATO in Opening Statement to Senate
                VOICE OF AMERICA January 11, 2017

                President-elect Donald Trump's secretary of state nominee, Rex Tillerson, is facing questions at his Senate confirmation hearing, where is he due to address relations with Russia and China's island-building in the South China Sea.

                The Trump transition team released the opening statement Tillerson plans to present to the Senate Foreign Relations committee Wednesday.

                Tillerson will tell senators that NATO is right be alarmed at the resurgence of Russia, and to say that "open and frank dialogue with Russia regarding its ambition" is needed so the United States can plan its course.

                He called China's actions in the disputed South China Sea region "an illegal taking of disputed areas without regard for international norms" in his speech.

                When nominating Tillerson last month, Trump said the former Exxon Mobil Corporation CEO "knows how to manage a global enterprise, which is crucial to running a successful State Department."

                "The thing I like best about Rex Tillerson is that he has vast experience at dealing successfully with all types of foreign governments," the president-elect said on his Twitter account.

                Tillerson, 64, recently resigned from ExxonMobil. His massive oil deals with Russia could complicate his necessary confirmation in the Senate, where several key lawmakers have already said they are troubled by his close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who in 2013 gave Tillerson Russia's Order of Friendship, an honor reserved for foreigners.

                Russia ties

                He is expected to explain Trump's urging for a closer relationship with Russia, citing a deterioration due to the current policies of the Obama administration, according to Reuters, which reported on the advance copy of the speech.

                Several senators, including John McCain, the Republican Party's losing 2008 presidential contender, and Marco Rubio, who withdrew during the party's presidential primary race in 2016, said they have concerns about Tillerson's ties to Russia and Putin.

                John Hamre, president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says that Tillerson, who is a CSIS board member, "has had more interactive time with Vladimir Putin than probably any other American with the exception of Henry Kissinger."

                In 2011, Tillerson signed a deal with the state-owned Russian oil company Rosneft for cooperation on oil exploration and production, and since then, the companies have collaborated on at least 10 joint ventures.

                The 2011 deal, valued at around $300 billion at the time, was for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic. When actual drilling had just begun, three years later, Western sanctions imposed on Russia due to its intervention in the Ukraine crisis brought work to a halt.

                Relations between the United States and Russia have been troubled since Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014. The U.S. supports Kyiv's claim to the region and, along with European Union nations, has imposed punitive sanctions on Moscow in protest.

                Qualifications

                Tillerson, trained as a civil engineer, joined Exxon right after he graduated from the University of Texas and moved up the corporate ranks over the next four decades. He is known for his international deal-making skills, and is said to have good relations with a number of heads of state around the globe, which would be an important asset for the top U.S. diplomat.

                ExxonMobil is the fifth-largest corporation in the world, by market capitalization. Although the company's earnings were reduced somewhat by the past year's slump in world oil prices, it is still extremely profitable. Tillerson, whose compensation is based in part on corporate performance, earned $27 million last year, down from a high of $40 million in 2012.

                Environmental concerns are another potential trouble spot for Tillerson's confirmation. ExxonMobil is under fire in New York and Massachusetts, accused of suppressing internal research showing that it knew about the impact of fossil fuels on climate change. Attorneys general in both states have subpoenaed the company, charging that it violated federal requirements by not disclosing the information to its investors and to the public.

                Tillerson himself has acknowledged climate change as a man-made problem and made some concessions to reduce his company's effect on the environment, but he has persisted in promoting the use of oil and natural gas, saying that "energy is the lifeblood to economic growth."

                The ExxonMobil chief has contributed to numerous Republican political campaigns in the past, but biographers say he is not known to have financially supported Trump's presidential candidacy, contributing instead to the ultimately unsuccessful campaign of Jeb Bush, a brother of former President George W. Bush and son of former President George H.W. Bush.

                Tillerson has voiced positions on some domestic issues in the past that diverge from stands taken by Trump, but generally has avoided speaking out on non-business topics.
                Tillerson to Address Russia, NATO in Opening Statement to Senate

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                • World Bank Sees 1.5 Percent GDP Growth In Russia For 2017
                  RADIO FREE EUROPE Jan 11, 2017

                  The World Bank is predicting 1.5 percent growth in Russia’s gross domestic product in 2017 and sees a gain of 1.7 percent in 2018 and 1.8 percent the following year, helped by increases in commodity prices.

                  Russia’s projected GDP growth follows an estimated 0.6 percent contraction in 2016 and a 3.7 percent contraction in 2015.

                  "The stabilization in oil prices and the authorities' policy response -- exchange-rate adjustment, banking sector capital, and liquidity injections -- improved the short-term outlook, helped restore confidence, and stabilized the financial system," it said on January 10 in its annual global prospects outlook.

                  In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, growth is projected to rise to 2.4 percent in 2017, getting a boost as Russia continues to bounce back and other commodity exporters and Turkey recover.

                  The report said regional activity was supported by stabilizing commodity prices, accommodative policies, and reduced geopolitical tension, specifically between Russia and Ukraine. World Bank Sees 1.5 Percent GDP Growth In Russia For 2017

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                  • REUTERS Jeff Mason | CHICAGO Jan 11, 2017 | 1:20am EST
                    Obama pushes values and prods Trump in final, emotional address

                    With a final call of his campaign mantra "Yes We Can," President Barack Obama urged Americans on Tuesday to stand up for U.S. values and reject discrimination as the United States transitions to the presidency of Republican Donald Trump.

                    In an emotional speech in which he thanked his family and declared his time as president the honor of his life, Obama gently prodded the public to embrace his vision of progress while repudiating some of the policies that Trump promoted during his campaign for the White House.

                    "So just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are," Obama told a crowd of 18,000 in his hometown of Chicago, where he celebrated his election in 2008 as the first black president of the United States.

                    Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, proposed temporarily banning Muslims from entering the country, building a wall on the border with Mexico, upending a global deal to fight climate change and dismantling Obama's healthcare reform law.

                    Obama made clear his opposition to those positions during fiery campaign speeches for 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, but has struck a more conciliatory tone with Trump since the election.

                    In his farewell speech, he made clear his positions had not changed and he said his efforts to end the use of torture and close the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were part of a broader move to uphold U.S. values.

                    "That's why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans," he said in a clear reference to Trump that drew applause.

                    He said bold action was needed to fight global warming and said "science and reason" mattered.

                    "If anyone can put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we’ve made to our healthcare system, that covers as many people at less cost, I will publicly support it," he said in another prodding challenge to his successor.

                    Trump has urged the Republican-controlled Congress to repeal the law right away.

                    RACE AND NOSTALGIA
                    Obama, who came to office amid high expectations that his election would heal historic racial divides, acknowledged that was an impossible goal.

                    "After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America," he said. "Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic. Race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society."

                    However, Obama said he remained hopeful about the work that a younger generation would do. "Yes we can," he said. "Yes we did."

                    In an indirect reference to the political work the Democratic Party will have to do to recover after Clinton's loss, Obama urged racial minorities to seek justice not only for themselves but also for "the middle-aged white man who from the outside may seem like he’s got advantages, but who’s seen his world upended by economic, cultural, and technological change."

                    Trump won his election in part by appealing to working-class white men.

                    First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, and many current and former White House staff members and campaign workers attended the speech. Obama wiped his eyes as he addressed his wife and thanked his running mate. They all appeared together on stage after the address.

                    The Chicago visit is Obama's last scheduled trip as president, and even the final flight on the presidential aircraft was tinged with wistfulness.

                    It was the president's 445th "mission" on Air Force One, a perk he has said he will miss when he leaves office, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

                    All told, Obama will have spent more than 2,800 hours or 116 days on the plane during his presidency.

                    Obama plans to remain in Washington for the next two years while his younger daughter, Sasha, finishes high school. Sasha, who has an exam on Wednesday, did not attend the speech but her older sister Malia was there.

                    The president has indicated he wants to give Trump the same space that his predecessor, Republican President George W. Bush, gave Obama after leaving office by not maintaining a high public profile. Obama pushes values and prods Trump in final, emotional address | Reuters

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                    • Think reporting on Trump is hard? Try being a journalist in Donetsk
                      THE GUARDIAN Alisa Sopova 11 Jan 2016

                      When I started working as a journalist in my native city of Donetsk I never imagined that war would come to town, until the day it did.

                      In the spring of 2014 tanks and pro-Russia separatists showed up on the streets of the city, which was quickly turned into the capital of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).

                      I was a news editor at Donbass, the largest newspaper and website in the city and responsible for a dozen reporters covering local news. We reported on the governor’s weekly press conferences, the construction of a new hockey arena, several scandalous crimes a year – that was our journalistic routine. It felt like nothing unexpected could happen.

                      Then it did. Within days my neighbourhood had become a battlefield between the separatists and the national army and my newspaper was forced to suspend its activities, but this was an international news story so I was offered work as a fixer, then as a reporter for the New York Times.

                      My office dresses were replaced by a flak jacket and helmet. I saw people fighting, surviving – and dying. My colleagues and I often found ourselves under fire.

                      I quickly came to realise that the biggest challenge for journalists was not the physical danger, but the moral and emotional dilemmas posed by covering events in your homeland.
                      Advertisement

                      Should you write about corruption in the national army, knowing that your story will be distorted by the Russian propaganda machine and used against your country? How do you balance opinions about the conflict while your brother, a Ukrainian soldier, is imprisoned and tortured by the insurgents (a situation my colleague faced)?

                      These are the complicated but real choices that Ukrainian journalists still face. It’s easy to be a person of principle in a peaceful and democratic environment, but as soon as the situation gets personal journalists are told that “truth above neutrality” must prevail. However, that “truth” is never simple.

                      My house in Donetsk was shelled by government forces. They were retaliating because an hour earlier rebels, who were trying to use my family as a human shield, had shelled government forces from my backyard. Journalists in DPR mention only the first shelling. Ukrainian journalists mention only the second. Being neutral, you have to report on both. I did and never regretted it.

                      While staying in Donetsk, I was in constant fear of being arrested by the rebels for working with foreign media. While the threat of arrest was lower on the Ukrainian side, officials had a similar attitude towards journalistic neutrality.

                      In May 2016 the website Mirotvorets, which translates as Peacekeeper, the unofficial mouthpiece of Ukraine’s interior ministry, published a list of more than 4,000 journalists who had applied for accreditation to report from the DPR.

                      “We consider it necessary to publish this list because these journalists are cooperating with the militants of the terrorist organisation,” the website said. Among the “collaborators” were dozens of journalists from the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, BBC, Reuters, al-Jazeera, and the New York Times.

                      While it’s difficult for international media to be branded as terrorist sympathisers, the real impact was on local journalists trying to cover the conflict on both sides.

                      Many of us had subsequent accreditation denied, and some were directly threatened about their coverage. Among the people hounding us were many of our former colleagues who had become soldiers of the disinformation war, putting “patriotism” above objectivity.

                      I am currently on a journalism fellowship in the US and believe the experience in Donetsk can provide some lessons for covering the Trump presidency. In times of fierce debate where journalism is under attack it is encouraging to see colleagues asking complex questions and constantly interrogating how the country became so polarised.

                      Journalists in the US have a responsibility beyond their nation. Thousands of my colleagues in post-Soviet countries, not to mention the developing world, look to them as a model.

                      It was an American newspaper that gave me the opportunity to objectively cover the conflict in Ukraine, and it is imperative that journalists in theUS are able to maintain their instinct to come out of this crisis stronger, wiser and to continue to provide a blueprint for dealing with ethical dilemmas. The world still needs a good example.
                      https://www.theguardian.com/media/20...ist-in-donetsk

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                      • Ukraine reports 49 militant attacks in last day Combined Russian-separatist forces attacked Ukrainian army positions in Donbas 49 times in the past 24 hours, according to the press service of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Headquarters.
                        UNIAN 11 Jan 2017

                        In the Mariupol sector, the occupiers fired mortars on the villages of Talakivka and Vodiane, as well as grenade launchers of various calibers were used to shell the town of Maryinka, and the villages of Talakivka, Hnutove, and Shyrokyne.

                        The militants used small arms in the villages of Pavlopil, Shyrokyne, and Novotroyitske. A sniper was also active in Novotroyitske. Shyrokyne was attacked by infantry fighting vehicles. Additionally, a skirmish took place near the village of Taramchuk. The attack was repelled.

                        In the Luhansk sector, Russia's hybrid military force used mortars and anti-tank missile systems to shell the village of Novozvanivka, as well as rocket-propelled grenades were used to attack the village of Troyitske.

                        In the Donetsk sector, the militants opened fire from mortars of different calibers on the Ukrainian positions near the town of Avdiyivka, and the villages of Verkhniotoretske, Kruta Balka, Opytne, Luhanske, and Zaitseve. Furthermore, an enemy infantry fighting vehicle attacked Opytne.

                        "Two Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action, one got injuries. One soldier was killed," the report says.

                        Ukraine reports 49 militant attacks in last day | UNIAN

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                        • Ports of Ukraine will be headed by the Manager from Latvia
                          UKROP NEWS 24 January 10, 2017

                          Raivis Veckagans more than 16 years by enterprises of transport and logistics.

                          The acting Chairman of administration of seaports of Ukraine (ASD) will be assigned a citizen of Latvia, a port specialist Raivis Veckagans. This was reported by the press service of the Ministry of infrastructure of Ukraine.

                          The report notes that Veckagans has over 16 years of successful operations in the management sector of transport and logistics, shipping and financial services. He has held positions as Board member, Vice-President of the Latvian shipping company, a Board member of the largest port terminal for handling bulk and General cargoes in the Baltic States Rigas Centralais Terminals, Chairman of the Board, Riga Container Terminal LLC.

                          As stated by infrastructure Minister Vladmir Omeljan, the change of leadership in ASD is the first step in a large-scale reform of the Maritime industry. Will also be carried out optimization of the structure and personnel of the company.

                          According to the Omelyan, now ASD “remains a model of inefficiency, corruption and abuse.”

                          The Minister also said that the former head of the Agency has written a prize for December in the amount of 700 thousand hryvnias to 1,5 million hryvnia per person.

                          “And this is the only official awards. One can only imagine the scale of abuse at the state enterprise”, – said Omeljan.

                          As reported .netin October 2016 the pole Slawomir Nowak has headed Ukravtodor and have already received citizenship of Ukraine.

                          Another pole – Wojciech Balczun – headed Ukrzaliznytsia from April of last year. Ports of Ukraine will be headed by the Manager from Latvia – Ukrop News 24

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                          • Ukrainians warned of a new snowfall
                            UKROP NEWS 24 January 11, 2017


                            Gusts of wind reached 15-20 m/s

                            Also expected snowstorm.

                            Until the end of Wednesday, January 11, in Odessa, Nikolaev, Kherson, Zaporizhzhya regions and Crimea, are expected wind gusts of 15-20 m/s. According to forecasts Ukrgidromettsentra, will also be sticking of wet snow, ice, blizzards, on roads – ice.

                            In addition, the Odessa, Nikolaev and Kherson areas is projected to be heavy wet snow.

                            On Thursday, forecasters warned, in the Carpathian mountains, in the afternoon in the Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts the gusts of wind can reach 15-20 m/s.



                            In turn, the SES asks Ukrainians to be careful on the street and not to use their own vehicles.

                            Previously, forecasters said that weather the most difficult period in Ukraine has passed.

                            Ukrainians warned of a new snowfall – Ukrop News 24
                            ===============
                            Weather in Ukraine: six people were killed

                            In Odessa, do not let trucks and buses because of the snow

                            On Odeschin remains closed traffic on the main roads SSES

                            In Europe victims of Morozov were 40 people

                            The severe weather period in Ukraine behind − the weatherman

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                            • 10:28 11.01.2017 INTERFAX-UKRAINE
                              Act of vandalism at Polish memorial in Lviv region won't set Polish, Ukrainian peoples against each other

                              Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin is sure that the destruction of a memorial to Poles killed during WWII in the village of Huta Peniatska (Huta Pieniacka) in Lviv region will not complicate relations between Ukraine and Poland.

                              "I strongly denounce the act of vandalism at the Polish memorial. Such provocations won't set us against each other. As for the criminals, they must be punished," Klimkin said on Twitter.

                              It was reported earlier that unidentified individuals had partially ruined a monument to Polish residents of Huta Peniacka killed during WWII.

                              Preliminary reports by law enforcement officials indicate that a memorial cross had been destroyed, and the tombstones carrying the names of the slain village dwellers had been painted in the colors of the Ukrainian flag and a red-and-black flag. SS lettering has also been painted on one of the tombstones.

                              Svitlana Dobrovolska, a spokesperson for the Lviv regional police department, said it was not fully clear so far when exactly the act of vandalism had been committed, as the memorial is located several kilometers away from the nearest populated area.

                              Ukrainian Ambassador to Poland Andriy Deschytsia views the act of vandalism in Huta as a provocation.

                              Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mariana Betsa also said this was "an obvious act of provocation."

                              The village of Huta Peniacka inhabited by Poles was exterminated in February 1944. Historians have differing accounts of those events. Most Ukrainian historians believe the village had been annihilated by German troops, while Polish historians tend to believe that a unit of the SS Galicia (Halychyna) Division was responsible for killing its residents.
                              Act of vandalism at Polish memorial in Lviv region won't set Polish, Ukrainian peoples against each other

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                              • Ukraine power cut 'was cyber-attack'
                                BBC 1/11/2017

                                A power cut that hit part of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, in December has been judged a cyber-attack by researchers investigating the incident.

                                The blackout lasted just over an hour and started just before midnight on 17 December.

                                The cyber-security company Information Systems Security Partners (ISSP) has linked the incident to a hack and blackout in 2015 that affected 225,000.

                                It also said a series of other recent attacks in Ukraine were connected.

                                The 2016 power cut had amounted to a loss of about one-fifth of Kiev's power consumption at that time of night, national energy company Ukrenergo said at the time.

                                It affected the Pivnichna substation outside the capital, and left people in part of the city and a surrounding area without electricity until shortly after 01:00.

                                The attack took place almost exactly one year after a much larger hack on a regional electricity distribution company. That was later blamed on the Russian security services.

                                The latest attack has not publicly been attributed to any state actor, but Ukraine has said Russia directed thousands of cyber attacks towards it in the final months of 2016.
                                'Not much different'

                                ISSP, a Ukrainian company investigating the incidents on behalf of Ukrenergo, now appears to be suggesting a firmer link.

                                It said that both the 2015 and 2016 attacks were connected, along with a series of hacks on other state institutions this December, including the national railway system, several government ministries and a national pension fund.

                                Oleksii Yasnskiy, head of ISSP labs, said: "The attacks in 2016 and 2015 were not much different - the only distinction was that the attacks of 2016 became more complex and were much better organised."

                                He also said different criminal groups had worked together, and seemed to be testing techniques that could be used elsewhere in the world for sabotage.

                                However, David Emm, principal security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab, said it was was "hard to say for sure" if the incident was a trial run.

                                "It's possible, but given that critical infrastructure facilities vary so widely - and therefore require different approaches to compromise the systems - the re-use of malware across systems is likely to be limited," he told the BBC.

                                "On the other hand, if a system has proved to be porous in the past, it is likely to encourage further attempts."
                                'Acts of terrorism'

                                In December, Ukraine's president, Petro Poroshenko, said hackers had targeted state institutions some 6,500 times in the last two months of 2016.

                                He said the incidents showed Russia was waging a cyber-war against the country.

                                "Acts of terrorism and sabotage on critical infrastructure facilities remain possible today," Mr Poroshenko said during a meeting of the National Security and Defence Council, according to a statement released by his office.

                                "The investigation of a number of incidents indicated the complicity directly or indirectly of Russian security services."
                                Ukraine power cut 'was cyber-attack' - BBC News

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