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  • Senators Propose Stronger U.S. Sanctions Against Russia
    BLOOMBERG NEWWS Steven T. Dennis May 31, 2017, 5:36 PM EDT

    --Crapo, Brown say bill targets mining, metal, railway sectors
    --Measure would codify, strengthen sanctions in executive orders

    Bipartisan leaders of the Senate Banking Committee announced a plan Wednesday to strengthen sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine and Syria, as well as internet intrusions in the U.S.

    The proposal is a signal that some in Congress intend to push back on the Trump administration’s moves to explore an improvement in relations with Moscow.

    Panel Chairman Mike Crapo of Idaho and top Democrat Sherrod Brown of Ohio said their bill would authorize "broad" new sanctions targeting sectors of Russia’s economy including mining, metals and railways.

    It would codify and strengthen existing sanctions included in executive orders affecting Russian energy projects and debt financing in key economic sectors, the senators said in a press release.

    "Despite existing sanctions, Russia remains a hostile, recalcitrant power, deploying its military, cyber-enabled information espionage activities, and economic tactics to harm the United States and drive a wedge between it and its allies,” the committee statement said. "There is significant congressional interest in ensuring sanctions on Russia are effective and proportionally enhanced, particularly in light of continuing Russian intransigence in these areas."

    The text will be released later, according to the statement.

    The question of Russian sanctions has been raised by a number of senators in both parties after the intelligence community announced in January its conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of President Donald Trump.

    Among those seeking more sanctions is Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has said he would try to attach such a measure to bipartisan Iran sanctions legislation expected to be sent to the Senate floor.

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    Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


    • Putin Accuses West of Trying to Restrain Russia's Emerging Power
      BLOOMBERG NEWS John Fraher & Henry Meyer June 1, 2017

      --Russia is fighting for its legitimate interests, Putin says
      --President says ‘anti-Russian campaign’ is counterproductive

      Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the West of seeking to monopolize power and prevent the emergence of a multi-polar world by countering his country’s efforts to assert itself on the global stage.

      “The multi-polar world is becoming more of a reality and the monopolists don’t like that,” Putin said Thursday at a meeting with foreign media executives at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. “This is happening in no small part because of Russia’s fight for its interests, its legitimate interests, I want to stress that.”

      The Russian leader warned that what he sees as an “anti-Russian campaign” and “Russophobia” is counterproductive. “I hope that it won’t go on for too long, that it won’t last forever, because the realization must come that it is counterproductive and harms everyone,” he said.

      Russia is at the center of a political storm in the U.S. over accusations that the Kremlin interfered in last year’s presidential election, as investigators probe whether there was collusion between advisors to President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian officials. Ties with the U.S. and the European Union tumbled to their lowest point since the Cold War after they imposed sanctions on Russia over its 2014 annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

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        Kyiv, June 01, 2017
        Ukrainian schoolgirl triumphs at Intel international scientific competition

        Ukrainian schoolgirl Valeriia Tyshchenko made it to top 5 winners of Intel ISEF (Intel International Science and Engineering Fair), held in Los Angeles. Valeriia came 4th among over 1,700 participants from 75 countries.

        Intel ISEF is an international competition of scientific and engineering achievements for students between 13 and 18 years old. Competition exists in Ukraine for ten years, and the worldwide finals are held annually in one of the US cities. More than 20 of its winners became Nobel Prize laureates later.

        Valeriia Tyshchenko is a tenth-grader from Kherson Physical and Technical Lyceum who has been actively working on projects and presenting them in various competitions. In the final competition for Intel ISEF Valeriia received a prize for the project “The Converter of Three-Dimensional Oscillations into Electrical Energy”.

        This is not the first win of representatives of talented Ukrainian youth in major international competitions this year. The list of our achievements includes victory at European Mathematical Olympiad among girls, victory in the International Physicists’ Tournament, and the second place at the Google Science Fair.
        Ukrainian schoolgirl triumphs at Intel international scientific competition | UACRISIS.ORG

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        • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 14:37 01.06.2017
          EP votes for raising quotas for some agricultural products from Ukraine

          The European Parliament (EP) has supported the proposal of the European Commission to increase tariff quotas for honey, corn, barley, oats, cereals and processed grain, grape juice from Ukraine.

          According to a press release on the website of the European Parliament, at the same time the European Commission's proposal to raise quotas for Ukrainian wheat, tomatoes and urea was not supported by the deputies.

          "By granting additional temporary trade preferences, the European Parliament wants to support the ongoing reforms, strengthen small and medium enterprises and provide the necessary impetus for increased trade flows. I hope that these measures will boost our relationship and effectively help Ukraine," rapporteur Jaroslaw Walesa said.

          Thus, the quotas for Ukrainian corn will be increased by 650,000 tonnes, barley by 350,000 tonnes, cereals and processed grain by 7,800 tonnes, oats by 4,000 tonnes, honey by 3,000 tonnes, and grape juice by 500 tonnes. EP votes for raising quotas for some agricultural products from Ukraine

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            Kyiv, June 01, 2017
            USAID LEV experts: Barriers to Ukrainian exporters must be removed

            At present, the main barriers in foreign economic activity are a too rigid and cumbersome system of currency control, disorder in state control over legal compliance, incoherent licensing procedures, excessive transaction costs of making and enforcing contracts, non-transparent and complicated procedures required to export food products, non-transparent penalties. This was stated by USAID LEV experts at a discussion on the analysis of current legislation on foreign economic activity, taking into account system recommendations of the business ombudsman office and consultations with entrepreneurs held at Ukraine Media Crisis Center.

            As a result of stringent currency regulation, SMEs put into effect only 25-40% of export potential. Excess technical barriers force SMEs to spend 30-40% more in preparation for export, and unreasonable formal demands result in 15-20% higher administrative costs than could be. Losses of SMEs due to improper execution of export procedures amount to 25-100% of missed profits.

            “These barriers (…) can be removed quite easily. It requires only a will and awareness of both business and citizens that access to foreign markets and intensification of our trade outside Ukraine can lead to economic recovery,” said Tamara Solianyk, Director of the USAID program “Leadership in economic governance” (USAID LEV). In addition, she added, we must not only create comfortable conditions for doing business today, but also develop an export strategy for 10-20 years ahead.

            Experts recommend making provision for more transparent and justified decisions in the field of foreign exchange control, and monitoring the effectiveness of existing currency restrictions. They suggest making control more risk-based, so that it extends to dual-use and specific products. They also recommend simplifying requirements of foreign trade agreements, contracts and the procedure for obtaining a license, eliminating inappropriate technical barriers, making the procedure of introducing penalties transparent and reasonable. “Although the concept is the same, we propose to divide them into several areas to prevent them from being hindered by each other. The first draft law should provide for removing barriers to exporting goods (settlement of administrative and technical issues), the second – for liberalization of foreign exchange control […]. The third draft law should provide for liberalizing the foreign trade regulation (licensing procedures, sanctions, etc.),” suggested Liubomyr Chornii, senior expert of the USAID LEV program. MP Viktoria Ptashnyk also supports this approach. “I think, USAID LEV would like to collect all proposals for the three draft laws to be prepared and will try to find the allies in the Ministry of Economy, National Bank and State Fiscal Service. […] This work may result in reaching a compromise between business and regulators. I believe that even the compromise position is worth striving for,” she noted.

            According to Tetiana Korotka, vice business ombudsman, the regulation of foreign exchange and legislation in the field of foreign trade should become the focus of attention. “Today we have an unprecedented moment of support from various parties to remove these barriers, and we are working both on the regulatory and legislative proposals. […] The government action program provides for preparing the new version of the Law of Ukraine on the foreign trade. These ideas are supported by international financial institutions as well as the NBU and the SFS. The government has this ambition, but it is yet unknown whether it will be the new version or the draft law on amendments. However, this work has already begun,” she noted.

            Ihor Snitivker, contributing expert of the USAID LEV program, pointed out that now business has no simple and clear “road map” for export. “The national export strategy alone will not help business. The first step has been made, but business expects its continuation in the form of regional strategies. There are no sectoral export strategies of either. The national export strategy should be the beginning, and the company’s export strategy – its continuation. Then it will be a working tool,” he said. Ukrainian businessmen also lack state programs and research aimed at supporting the export.
            USAID LEV experts: Barriers to Ukrainian exporters must be removed | UACRISIS.ORG

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            Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


            • The Daily Vertical: Brian Whitmore May 31, 2017
              Ukraine Won. And Putin Lost.

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              • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 13:58 01.06.2017
                ECHR officially confirms adoption of Ukraine's legal position on first suit against RF

                The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has recognized the admissibility of the first claim of Ukraine as regards the Russian Federation for Moscow's actions in Crimea in 2014, in particular, on the facts of violation of human rights on the peninsula, Justice Minister of Ukraine Pavlo Petrenko has said.

                "I will start with the good news ... We announced that Ukraine would file its legal position with evidence, facts that certainly refute the false comments of the Russian Federation that the European Court of Justice [ECHR] has no right and jurisdiction to try the first case. ECHR has officially confirmed the adoption of our legal position on the first case "Ukraine vs. Russia" on the facts of illegal human rights violations in Crimea," Ukraine's minister said in Kyiv on Thursday.

                Petrenko said that on March 27, 2017 Ukraine sent a package of documents with a legal position refuting Russia's arguments.

                A week ago, the ECHR formally sent confirmation of the adoption of this legal position, he said.
                ECHR officially confirms adoption of Ukraine's legal position on first suit against RF

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                • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 14:09 01.06.2017
                  Moldovan-Ukrainian checkpoint on Transdniestrian border opened in disregard of Tiraspol's opinion, this is provocative step

                  The first Moldovan-Ukrainian checkpoint opened in the Transdniestrian sector of the border with Ukraine is a provocation meant to escalate tensions, the Foreign Ministry of the unrecognized Transdniestrian Moldovan Republic said on Wednesday.

                  "Obviously, the joint control of Moldova and Ukraine over a sector of the Transdniestrian-Ukrainian state border is an intentional and provocative step, which targets, in particular, a strong response from Transdniestria," the ministry said in connection with the stationing of joint Ukrainian-Moldovan posts at the Ukrainian Kuchurhan border checkpoint.

                  "This unilateral measure is being implemented outside the framework of the international negotiating process and in disregard of Transdniestria's standpoint; it flagrantly violates the regulations on inadmissibility of sanctions and blockades, settlement of every problem at the negotiating table, and freedom of Transdniestria's international economic contacts on which the parties to the negotiating process have earlier agreed," the ministry said.

                  "No doubt, the purpose of such tactics is to provoke deterioration of regional security for the purpose of stepping up aggressive measures against Transdniestria. In this context, the Foreign Ministry calls attention of Moldovan and Ukrainian representatives and all parties to the international negotiating process to the fact that Transdniestria has taken comprehensive steps towards settling the problem with political and diplomatic methods," it said.

                  "Having demonstratively overstepped any form of civilized political dialogue, including the international format of the negotiating process on the settlement of the conflict between Moldova and Transdniestria, the organizers of this measure have thereby publicly assumed the full liability for possible consequences of those destructive actions," the ministry said.

                  Tiraspol also noted the role of the European Union.

                  "Moldovan-Ukrainian customs and border control on the border with Transdniestria, which has been pushed for with the direct support of the European Union, is an element of the comprehensive strategy of blocking, which inflicts substantial damage and gradually limits the potential of the Transdniestrian Moldovan Republic in every significant area," the ministry said.

                  "The unwillingness to listen to Transdniestria's arguments and the refusal to discuss this problem in the 5+2 format "are irrefutable proof of the exclusively political nature of the steps taken by Moldova and Ukraine under the cover of some international actors," the ministry said.

                  The ministry highlighted the common opinion on the joint control exercised by Ukrainian and Moldovan law enforcers, which the top three Moldovan officials, namely President Igor Dodon, Prime Minister Pavel Filip and Parliament Speaker Andrian Candu, expressed several days ago.

                  Moldova and Ukraine opened the first joint checkpoint in the Transdniestrian sector of the Moldovan-Ukrainian border on May 31.

                  A government spokesman told Interfax that the checkpoint had been installed at the largest border crossing point, Kuchurhan-Pervomaisk.

                  "The purpose of joint control is to facilitate the movement of goods, vehicles and passengers on the 'one stop - one window' principle, including customs clearance of exported and imported goods in the Transdniestrian region, among them excised commodities," the report said.

                  The Moldovan-Ukrainian agreement stipulates that Moldovan customs and border officers will be stationed at the Kuchurhan checkpoint in the Ukrainian territory bordering the Transdniestrian checkpoint of Pervomaisk.

                  The joint control will be exercised in two stages. During the initial stage, which will last for about six months, Moldovan and Ukrainian customs officers will jointly control exclusively exports of goods from Transdniestria. The Moldovan border police will monitor vehicles and passengers, register foreign citizens who cross the border in both directions, and notify interested persons of national migration laws.

                  The second stage will embrace control of exported and imported goods and also vehicles and passengers. No restrictions or bans that may change the existent border crossing procedures will be imposed on Transdniestrian economic entities and individuals.

                  The joint checkpoint, which opened on Wednesday, is the fifth crossing point on the Moldovan-Ukrainian border and the first one in the Transdniestrian sector. Moldovan-Ukrainian checkpoint on Transdniestrian border opened in disregard of Tiraspol's opinion, this is provocative step

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                  • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 15:19 01.06.2017
                    Japanese business to invest in Ukraine, hopes for cooperation under win-win formula

                    Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman and Chairman of the Committee on Business Cooperation with Ukraine of the Japan Business Federation Keidanren Teruo Asada at a meeting in Kyiv have discussed the prospects of attracting Japanese business, including the establishment of Japanese production in Ukraine.

                    "I want to thank Japan for the full support of Ukraine – both economic and political. We deeply appreciate our relations and are interested in developing them. We have good signals on bilateral trade and good opportunities to attract Japanese companies to the Ukrainian market. We welcome the activities of Japanese businessmen in Ukraine," Groysman said.

                    He assured the Japanese guest that Ukraine is committed to carrying out "important and complex reforms" this year.

                    "And the growing economy is a good signal for investment. Especially since we have a wide range of cooperation areas - from IT to agriculture and infrastructure. We are interested in creating real production in Ukraine," the prime minister added.

                    Teruo Asada, in turn, stressed that Japanese business could be very useful for Ukraine, as it is interested in such areas as renewable energy, construction of high-speed highways, including on a concession basis, modernization of port infrastructure.

                    "Your country can be proud of human capital, which is very attractive to Japanese enterprises. And we hope for the success of the reforms announced by your government aimed at improving the business climate. We are committed to investing in Ukraine, and I think our countries will be able to develop a strategy for cooperation under a win-win formula," the expert said.

                    Japanese business to invest in Ukraine, hopes for cooperation under win-win formula

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                    • Rada may set Ukrainian-language quotas for print media A bill has been tabled in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to introduce Ukrainian-language quotas for the print media, according to the Ukrainian news portal
                      UNIAN 31 May 2017

                      In particular, 50% of materials in print media outlets should be in Ukrainian, head of the Rada Committee on Freedom of Speech and Information Policy Viktoria Siumar said in an interview with

                      "If we speak about publications, not online media, there is a bill that foresees 50% of the Ukrainian-language content for the print media," she said.

                      According to Siumar, she advocates that the state choose incentives rather than directives and propose some tax breaks or distribution discounts for those who adhere to such quotas.

                      "But here we will still have to think about how best to articulate it since the norms of this draft are intertwined both with the norms of language laws and provisions of government-prepared bills about the print media, which are currently under consideration by the information policy committee," she stressed.

                      As UNIAN reported earlier, the draft law of Ukraine on amendments to certain laws of Ukraine on the language of audiovisual (electronic) mass media (No. 5313) passed second reading in parliament and was adopted as a whole on May 23. The bill establishes an obligatory share of Ukrainian-language content on television in the amount of 75% of the total volume for national channels and 60% for local channels.


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                      • Verdict In Moscow-Based Ukrainian Library Director's Hate-Crime Trial Postponed
                        RADIO FREE EUROPE June 01, 2017

                        A Moscow court has postponed the verdict in the trial of Natalya Sharina, a librarian who is charged with inciting hatred in a case that is steeped in the confrontation between Moscow and Kyiv and has been denounced by rights activists.

                        Meshchansky District Court spokeswoman Yulia Bocharova said the judge will pronounce the verdict and sentence on June 5 instead of June 1. No reason was given.

                        Russian authorities have charged Sharina, the former head of Moscow's Ukrainian Literature Library, with inciting ethnic hatred and embezzlement.

                        The hate-crime charge stems from the Russian state's claim that her library's collection included books that are banned in Russia as extremist, including works by Ukrainian ultranationalist Dmytro Korchynskiy.

                        Sharina was detained in October 2015, amid growing animus between Moscow and Kyiv over Russia's seizure of Crimea and support for armed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

                        In April 2016, investigators additionally charged her with embezzlement, claiming that she used library funds to pay for her legal defense in a separate extremism case against her that was dismissed in 2013.

                        Her lawyer said the authorities had "trumped up" new charges after realizing their initial case against his client was too weak.

                        Sharina, who is under house arrest, has rejected all the allegations as politically motivated. The respected Russian human rights group Memorial considers her a political prisoner.

                        On May 29, the state prosecutor asked the judge to find Sharina guilty and give her a five-year suspended sentence, which would mean she would not be imprisoned.
                        Last edited by Hannia; 1st June 2017, 16:04.

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                        • Welcome to The Machine: Inside the Secretive World of RT
                          As RT faces fresh allegations of peddling propaganda, The Moscow Times gained an insider view.
                          MEDUZA The Moscow Times June 1, 2017 — 13:50
                          Matthew Bodner, Matthew Kupfer and Bradley Jardine

                          Russian President Vladimir Putin looked uncomfortable. During a joint press conference with newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron in Versailles—a location chosen to emphasize the dawn of a new era of French-Russian relations—a reporter from Russia’s state-funded news organization RT pitched a hardball question: Why did Macron prevent Russian journalists from taking part in his press pool?

                          Macron was nonchalant in his response. “Russia Today and [sister publication] Sputnik did not behave as media organizations and journalists,” he said. Rather than act as journalists, the state-funded Russian outlets had acted as “agencies of influence and propaganda, lying propaganda—no more, no less,” during his presidential campaign.

                          RT has been quick to respond to the allegations. Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan claims the channel was trying to bring “balance” to the French media environment, which was heavily pro-Macron. And Robert Bridge, one of RT’s most recognizable writers, published a piece slamming Macron’s comments as a “severe blow” to journalism.

                          In fact, Macron’s appraisal of RT is far from unique. It reflects a growing consensus in Western official and academic circles over the nature of the organization and its supposed leading role in supporting “anti-establishment” political discourse.

                          But just how influential and functional is RT in reality? The Moscow Times took an inside look into the workings of this notoriously secretive organization.

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                          • Russia to build two helicopter carriers
                            UAWIRE ORG June 1, 2017 8:00:28 PM

                            Russia will build two amphibious assault ships with diesel-gas turbine power plants by the end of 2026. This was reported by TASS, citing a source in the defense structures of the country.

                            According to the interlocutor, research and development work on helicopter carriers will begin in 2018; the beginning of construction is planned for 2020. "Production of the only serial ship is scheduled for 2022, with delivery in 2026," the agency source said.
                            The source also added that the helicopter carriers will have a diesel-gas-turbine unit, in which the diesel engine will be the main engine, and the turbine is essential for power augmentation.

                            The interlocutor from the agency added that the Ka-52K helicopters would form the basis of the air groups of the ships. Among the other vehicles that will be based on the ships are the Ka-27, Ka-29, and Ka-31 models.

                            At the same time, the source noted that the contractor was not yet determined, but the construction of helicopter carriers was included in the draft of the new state armament program for 2018-2025.

                            On May 25, Deputy Defense Minister Yuriy Borisov announced that helicopter carriers were being included into the state armament program. According to him, the first Russian helicopter carrier may appear in four years. UAWire - Russia to build two helicopter carriers

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                            • Visa lib "well-deserved reward" for Ukraine’s reforms - Hahn EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn says visa liberalization is a well-deserved reward for Ukraine’s reforms, an UNIAN correspondent reported from the official’s briefing in Kyiv Thursday.
                              UNIAN 01 June 2019

                              “In ten days, the visa liberalization will really come into force on June 11. It’s really a well-deserved reward for important reforms undertaken by Ukraine and the best example how citizens can benefit from reforms,” said Hahn.

                              “The message is very clear – reforms pay off,” he added. “Visa liberalization will facilitate the exchange in many areas and bring our societies closer together,” the EU official stressed.

                              “Visa liberalization will facilitate the exchange in many areas and bring our societies closer together,” the EU official stressed.

                              He expressed hope that in particular young people will use the new opportunities.

                              “Visa liberalization comes into force just before summer break. And hopefully many of them can use it already during the summer,” Hahn said.

                              As UNIAN reported earlier, on May 11, The EU Council adopted a decision finally approving visa-free travel for Ukrainian citizens across the EU.

                              On May 17, a solemn signing ceremony of a legislative act introducing a visa-free regime for Ukraine with the European Union was signed in the European Parliament. After the signing, the document was published in the EU Journal. Visa liberalization comes into force on June 11, 2017.


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                              • Children in Donbas taught to avoid mines
                                EUROMAIDAN PRESS 2017/06/02

                                As of 20 April 2017, 42 children have died and 109 were injured in result of mine explosions in Donbas.

                                Specialists say that some 7,000 square kilometers ha of the area in Donbas need clearing from mines, which will take from 10 to 15 years. According to Serhiy Zubarevskyi, who heads the anti-mine activities of the Anti-Terririst Operation staff, settlements on the contact line between territory controlled by Ukraine and the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, uncontrolled by Ukraine, are the most vulnerable to mine detonations.

                                Mines can be found literally everywhere, as the risk zone can be virtually any spot on both sides of the contact line.

                                In 2006, the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining Stockholm International Peace Research Institute found that Ukraine ranks first in the amount of anti-vehicle mine incidents in 2016, accounting for 26% of global casualties.

                                Schoolchildren are especially vulnerable to mines, as this age makes them curious to everything surrounding them. They are being taught to avoid them in lessons in school and kindergarten, as well as in videos and cartoons. At a press conference held at the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center, participants of the programs of the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action, told about their experience in Donbas:

                                “The children who live in the conflict area are pretty familiar with all this explosive stuff. When you ask children in kindergarten as to what dangerous things you can find in a forest, they name ‘booby-traps, bombs, grenades’ and only then toadstools and wolfs. This film was made to tell about these children,” said Olena Rozvadovska, a volunteer, participant of the programs of the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action.

                                The leading character of the film is Oleksiy, a boy from a village near Pisky. He found a detonator of a grenade and lost three fingers playing with it. “It’s scary when war goes over the souls of children. The consequences are terrible. We made this film to remind society that these children have to be saved. People build a resistance against news from the frontline, they cease to see the people behind the numbers,” said the director of the film Taras Tomenko.

                                This video is part of the project, which gathers materials for teachers to tell kids about mines.

                                “During the lessons, we followed the strictest security norms. We did not touch the objects not to give children impression that they can be touched,” said Rozvadovska. “Teaching explosives’ security is one of the fundamentals of mine action. It is important to convey these simple instructions ‘stop, step back, tell the adults’ even to the youngest of them,” says Michael Barry, program manager of Swiss Foundation for Mine Action in Ukraine.

                                On 15 May 2017, the Foundation launched a program to demine the city of Sloviansk, which had been liberated from Russian-hybrid troops in 2014.

                                Perhaps the most widely publicized story of a child from Donbas who suffered from a mine is that of 11-year old Mykola, who was left as a triple-amputee after the detonation of a live grenade he and his brother found in his backyard. His brother was killed in the explosion.

                                He underwent surgery and reabilitation in the hospital of Canada’s Montreal, after which he returned to Ukraine. Children in Donbas taught to avoid mines -Euromaidan Press |

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