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  • Ukrainian artist helps veterans forget troubles & bad thoughts in art therapy rehab
    EUROMAIDAN PRESS Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Halyna Tereshchuk 2018/02/23

    Well-known artist and volunteer Lev Skop has recently launched weekly drawing and painting classes for demobilized soldiers in a rehabilitation center in Lviv. War veterans underline that art therapy helps them to forget war scenes and memories, and also encourages them to spend time together and communicate with others.

    Some twenty soldiers are sitting at a table, assiduously drawing and painting angels with the help of volunteers. Most of them have never worked on paper or canvas. The task is to draw an angel. Artur Spirin is one of the few veterans that remember how to hold a pencil correctly because he loved to draw and paint before the Maidan and the war in the Donbas. He spent most of 2015 in the 56th Brigade, fighting in the Donbas. Artur has drawn an avenging fighting angel that looks just like him.

    “I don’t really like what I’ve drawn today, but I enjoy the whole creative process. It’s cool to be here because when we’re all alone, we start thinking about bad or silly things, many negative memories rise to the surface… Everything that we went through will never be totally forgotten. But, if we’re alone too much, we start thinking and just go crazy!

    But, when we get together here, we can joke around and we manage to push all these silly thoughts away. When we were fighting in the Donbas, we thought of ourselves as angel of peace. But, something or someone more powerful sits above these angels. Mothers protect their children, we protect the mothers, and angels protect us… that’s the way it is,” says Artur Spirin.

    Lev Skop has organized more than thirty workshops in Ukraine, particularly in the Donbas, with Ukrainian soldiers and residents of liberated Ukrainian territories. Participants can draw or paint angels, and only angels, but in any way that they imagine them. The artist has recently launched weekly art therapy classes in the ATO Rehabilitation Centre (today it’s the Department of Psychological Trauma of Lviv Psychiatric Hospital). Leo Skop wants to help demobilized servicemen, and give them the opportunity to meet and talk with others.

    http://gdb.rferl.org/5745B74D-5E48-4..._w650_r0_s.jpg

    “I like to paint, and I know how much it helps me personally. There’s so much stress in the world, so poetry and music can help us forget our troubles and get rid of bad thoughts. I don’t want this to be an ordinary art class; we want people to count the days until Fridays and come to the centre willingly and freely. I know and believe that art unites people. This therapy is called – “You’re not alone!” The only rule here is to invest yourself in your work and paint meaningfully. I suggest some technical points, but I don’t impose my style. Today, we’re drawing angels on paper, later – on canvas, and in the end, we’ll organize an exhibition,” says Lev Skop.

    The Department of Psychological Trauma, which war veterans and volunteers have renovated and furnished, is still referred to as the Rehabilitation Centre. About fifty demobilized servicemen visit the center every day. Most of them suffer from chronic back and joint pain, and severe sleep disorders. Many can’t cope with fear and their memories. Here, they are assigned rehabilitation treatment, namely massage sessions, physical exercises, special corrective manipulation. Psychologist Oksana Zilnyk says that they are currently addressing psychological problems of demobilized servicemen who served in 2014-2015.

    “Every person here has a problem… some have drinking problems, others are very aggressive. The problems start at home; these guys aren’t well adapted to ordinary life, so we must try to help them. They all have problems within the family circle because parents and wives don’t understand what’s happened to them. There are a lot of divorces now… The men are totally different when they return home from war, but their relatives don’t accept them as they are. We lack social workers to help them adapt to daily life. We also provide psychological help. This centre should focus on the family, and everyone should feel comfortable here. Guys that aren’t hospitalized also come here for help.” says Oksana Zilnyk.

    Oleksandr Kuzminov from Chervonohrad was mobilized in 2015. He served near Stanytsia Luhanska with the 128th Brigade for a year and two months. He suffered several contusions in combat. He couldn’t return to his old woodworking job because the loud noise made him jumpy and angry. Oleksandr often visits the rehab center just to meet up with other soldiers. Today, he attends art therapy classes.

    “Here, you can talk about whatever you want, things that you can’t mention at home because they just won’t understand. I’m starting to remember things again. And, I’ve started having nightmares about the war… One day, I was walking down the street in Lviv and I smelled smoke.. and suddenly, I was back on the front lines, surrounded by smoke… or cooking food over an open fire. Such banal things bring back many memories,” points out Oleksandr.

    Volunteer Mariya Petryshyn believes art therapy will help war veterans to push their problems to the side because they feel support and understanding in the group, and this will help them in day-to-day living.

    “Every angel looks like the person who’s drawn him, perhaps in character too.”

    Next summer, Lev Skop and other artists hope to travel to the front lines near Stanytsia Luhanska and paint angels on town buildings so that they may bring local residents joy and hope. Ukrainian artist helps veterans forget troubles & bad thoughts in art therapy rehab -Euromaidan Press |

    æ, !

    Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp

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    • Polish pro-Russian far-right radicals behind arson attempt of Hungarian center in Ukraine
      EUROMAIDAN PRESS Alya Shandra 2018/02/23 - 04:09

      http://i0.wp.com/euromaidanpress.com...vyan.png?w=612
      Adrian Marglewski (left) and Tomasz Rafal Szimkowiak (right). Photo: novynarnia.com

      The Governor of Ukraine’s Zakarpattia Oblast Hennadiy Moskal told on 21 February that two Polish radicals from the right-wing extremist movement Falanga were behind the arson attempt on the “Society of Hungarian culture of Zakarpattia” which happened on 2 February 2018.

      “It’s Adrian Marglewski, born 01.04.1996, a resident of Krakow, and Tomasz Rafal Szimkowiak, born 24.01.1993, a resident of Bydgoszcz. Both are Polish citizens and followers of the right-wing radical organization “Falanga,” members of which participated in hostilities in Donbas on the side of the militants of the so-called ‘LNR’ and ‘DNR’,” Moskal told.

      According to him, the Poles made two attempts to burn down the center by throwing a Molotov cocktail, after which they left Ukraine by a bus headed to Slovakia. Luckily, only the window caught fire, and there were no victims. The next day, the Hungarian MFA appealed to the OSCE, who are permanently stationed in the conflict zone of Donbas, to monitor the situation in western Ukraine.

      Zakarpattia Oblast, home to a compact Hungarian minority, has been in the epicenter of tensions between Ukraine and Hungary.

      http://i2.wp.com/euromaidanpress.com...fit=1203%2C915

      The tensions, although being high since Hungary announced it was handing out citizenship papers to ethnic Hungarians in Zakarpatia, rose to a new level when Ukraine adopted an education law in September 2017, limiting the scope of usage of minority languages in education. Directed at the de-russification of southeastern Ukraine, the initiative struck a sour note with Ukraine’s western neighbors. From them, Hungary turned out to be the most discontented, claiming that the law limits the rights of its national minority. Ukraine denies these accusations. Hungary then vowed to block Ukraine’s eurointegration if the law is not reverted, and has gone as far as blocking Ukraine-NATO meetings, most recently, on 9 February 2018.

      Against this background, the Poles’ arson attempt added fuel to the fire.

      As with other ethnic provocations in Ukraine, there are good reasons to suspect there is a Kremlin connection.

      According to far-right researcher Anton Shekhovtsov, “Under the leadership of Bartosz Bekier, Falanga is a part of the broad, partially coordinated pan-European extreme right movement that is, in particular, openly supportive of the Kremlin’s anti-Western policies and ideas.”

      In 2014, Bekier traveled to Donetsk where he interviewed Denis Pushilin, the self-declared Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the self-proclaimed Russian puppet “Donetsk People’s Republic,” for Falanga’s website Xportal.

      http://i0.wp.com/euromaidanpress.com.../f2.jpg?w=1024
      Bekier stands with Pushilin, who currently heads the “Union of Donbas volunteers,” with its main official goals stated as uniting, employing and helping the “volunteers” who fought in the Donbas against the Ukrainian government. Photo: anton-shekhovtsov.blogspot.com

      http://i0.wp.com/euromaidanpress.com.../f1.jpg?w=1600
      Alleged Falanga activists and pro-Russian right-wing terrorists in Donetsk, May 2014. Photo: anton-shekhovtsov.blogspot.com

      This is not the first attempt of using vandalism to promote the Kremlin’s goals in Ukraine. In October 2017, after the outbreak of tensions with Hungary over the education law, Ukrainian law enforcers detained two men plotting to blow up a Hungarian monument in Zakarpattia Oblast. The men were Ukrainians who, as Ukraine’s Minister of Interior claimed, were connected to two exiled former MPs of the pro-Russian Party of Regions, disbanded after its leader and Ukrainian ex-President Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia after the Euromaidan revolution, who also fled to Russia.

      Apart from the unsuccessful Hungarian monument explosion, they carried out other xenophobic attacks aiming to stir up ethnic tensions:
      1 - in the city of Chernivtsi, where the Central Jewish synagogue was desecrated on the night of 19 November 2016, when its main facade was marked with an anti-Semitic inscription;
      2 - in the town of Uman, where the malefactors came to the grave of Rabbi Nachman on 21 December 2016, and left the head of a pig with a carved swastika;
      3 - in the city of Kyiv, where on 8 June 2017 the perpetrators threw a grenade at the premises of the U.S. Embassy;
      4 - in the city of Lviv, where on 30 June 2017 the malefactors tried to set fire to the synagogue;
      5 - in the town of Lutsk, where on 10 July 2017 the attackers threw an explosive device at the consulate of Poland;
      6 - in Kyiv, where on August 24, 2017, on Independence Day, a grenade was thrown at Hrushevskoho Street and the relatives of Hero of Ukraine Valeriy Chybinieiev were injured;
      7 - in Kyiv, on Kurbasa Street, where a monument to combatants was blown up by grenades on the same day;
      8 - in the town of Uman, where on September 21, 2017, a grenade was thrown, injuring citizens of Israel.

      Russian traces have been also found in events immediatly after the attack on the Polish consulate in Lutsk: the SBU detained participants of a rally aiming to pour more oil on the fire and found connections to Russian special services. It is more than likely that Falanga’s arson attempt on the Hungarian center is part of a general Kremlin strategy of destabilizing Ukraine with the help of stirring up ethnic tensions. Polish pro-Russian far-right radicals behind arson attempt of Hungarian center in Ukraine -Euromaidan Press |

      æ, !

      Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp

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      • EUROMAIDAN PRESS 2018/02/22 - 21:53
        War in the Donbas
        Identical statues to Russia’s “Wagner” mercenaries erected in Syria, occupied Donbas

        A statue identical to the one to Russian mercenaries in Syria which surfaced in January has now popped up in Luhansk, the capital of the unrecognized “Luhansk People’s Republic” (“LNR”) in the east-Ukrainian region of Donbas. The statue likely features a mercenary from the “Wagner” private military company, which has recently come to light after US airstrikes and an attack of the international anti-IS coalition had reportedly killed large numbers of them in Syria. Many “Wagner” mercenaries had previously fought in Donbas against the Ukrainian government.

        The photo had been shared by the social media activist Drugoi Luhansk, who tweets pictures about life in the “LNR,” which Ukraine considers to be occupied by Russia, on 22 February 2018. The inscription says “To Russian volunteers.”

        https://twitter.com/Drugoi_Lugansk/s...209216/photo/1

        Social media users noticed it is identical to a photo of a statue to the same “Russian volunteers” allegedly erected in Syria which surfaced on the Telegram channel WarJournal. The photo was analyzed by the Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), which found that the medal on the pedestal resembles the so-called “Wagner Cross” awarded to fighters of Russia’s “Wagner PMC” in particular for the battle of Palmyra.

        CIT notes that the Arabic inscription, which translates to “For the Russian volunteers who died bravely liberating Syria’s oil fields from ISIS,” can be explained by an article in the Russian media outlet Fontanka from June 2017, which told about a contract between the Syrian government and a Russian company with links to Wagner which provided the company a production share from the oil and gas fields it would liberate. CIT also reported that according to another media outlet, RBC, a Wagner mercenary Ivan Slyshkin was killed in the fighting for one of those fields.

        Conflict Intelligence Team about a month ago

        Telegram channel "WarJournal" posted a photo of a monument to "Russian Volunteers", allegedly erected in Syria.

        The pedestal features a medal resembling the so-called "Wagner Cross", awarded to fighters of Russia's "Wagner PMC", in particular for the battle of Palmyra.

        The inscription in Arabic provides more context, saying "For the Russian volunteers who died bravely liberating Syria's oil fields from ISIS". Last year, a Russian media outlet
        Identical statues to Russia’s “Wagner” mercenaries erected in Syria, occupied Donbas

        Identical statues to Russia's "Wagner" mercenaries erected in Syria, occupied Donbas -Euromaidan Press |

        æ, !

        Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp

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        • Shevchenko Prize winner Emma Andiyevska: “If you want Ukraine to exist, learn Ukrainian!”
          EUROMAIDAN PRESS Radio Liberty Halyna Tereshchuk 2018/02/21 - 20:13

          http://i0.wp.com/euromaidanpress.com...ure.jpg?w=1023

          Emma Andiyevska, a Ukrainian writer and artist from Munich, has been awarded the 2018 Taras Shevchenko Prize for Literature. She is the author of more than 40 collections of poetry, tales, and novels, and has created more than 17,000 paintings. Despite the fact that she has lived abroad since the age of 12, she considers herself Ukrainian, and writes only in Ukrainian. Emma Andiyevska was born on March 19, 1931 in Stalino (today’s Donetsk). In 1943, the NKVD executed her father, a well-known research chemist, and Emma – then a 12-year-old girl – and her mother fled to Western Europe. In 1957, she graduated from the Ukrainian Free University in Munich.

          Emma Andiyevska talks about her literary work, how and why she writes in Ukrainian and what Ukraine means to her.

          – Ms. Andiyevska, what was your reaction when you found out that you’d won the Shevchenko Prize for Literature?

          – I’d like to thank all the kind and generous people in Ukraine who made it possible. I can’t remember them all… the list is very long, but they’re all here, deep in my heart. I’m very, very happy!

          – Five of your poetry collections were selected for the National Award in the Literature and Journalism category, namely Cities-Jacks (2012), Clockless Time (2013), Landscapes in the Drawers (2015), Marathon Race (2016), and Daily Periscopes (2017). Do you have a favourite?

          – My 45th book – Dutyky (Shallow People) – will soon be released in Kyiv. And the 46th is lying on my table and waiting until I manage to collect enough money because that’s the way I live – I search for money, cry to get money and then give it all away. All my books are important, and the rest depends on my readers. But, not many people read my books. In fact, very few… I’ve written many tales, but only two are well-known. All the same, it would be interesting if people read more. I hope that my Shevchenko Prize will motivate people. As for me, I want my work to reach more readers. I’m very happy that students in Poltava and Kyiv read my books. After all, young people are the future of Ukraine. They are Ukraine. Ukraine is an extraordinary country, and I love Ukraine!

          – People who’ve read your work say that they really like your Ukrainian language. How do you create it? How do you find so many melodious words for your prose and poetry?

          – I don’t create anything. I just study Ukrainian…a little bit at a time. There are so many clever people writing in Ukrainian that it’s not difficult to learn the language.

          But, we should never forget that in 1937 official memos were sent to all editors ordering them to get rid of specific Ukrainian words and replace them with Russian versions. And look what’s happening today – “” (male teacher), but it turns out that that the actual person is an “” (female teacher). Or the “” (male director) is a “” (female director). There never used to be such discrimination. Ukraine still has some remnants of a matriarchal society, and women have always been respected. Another example… a man marries “with” a woman ( – in Ukrainian), and not “on” a woman ( – in Russian).

          æ, !

          Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp

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          • Emma Andiyevska
            – How did you manage not to lose your identity in a foreign country? How did you remain Ukrainian? What does it mean to be Ukrainian?

            – Where there’s a will, there’s a way! If you’re determined, you can find a way to achieve whatever you want. Don’t just wait for the varenyky to fall from the sky into your mouth, but make it happen! Today, so many people are leaving Ukraine to drown themselves more quickly in a foreign sea, away from Ukraine. This is called the “colonial mentality syndrome” – ideological domination of an empire over our people.

            – Today, there are a lot of different discussions about bilingualism in Ukraine, people saying that the country is divided because of language, and that the conflict in the Donbas was caused by language issues.

            – How can bilingualism exist in Ukraine? It would mean the death of our country! Is Russia bilingual?

            The Donbas is Ukrainian. Let’s remember the Cossacks, who roamed the wild fields and steppes of eastern Ukraine, fighting the hordes that attacked Ukrainian villages and took Ukrainians into captivity. It’s totally false to say that the Donbas has never been Ukrainian. All empires behave this way, and especially our neighbouring empire that we know so well. So, we should stop lying to ourselves, and we should stand up and act! I’ve been doing that since I was 12. I could have chosen another culture and reached the top, but I wanted Ukraine to exist…

            It was clear to me that if I worked entirely for Ukraine, I’d be doomed to nothingness. But, that’s OK, you have to take risks, and stop thinking that you’re such a great and invaluable person… My God, all this me, me and me! We must forget about the “me” and look at the situation more scientifically. There are so many other remarkable people in Ukraine!

            – Do you talk about the Donbas in your work? Could it be a source of inspiration?

            – I don’t think in terms of regions. For me, it’s Ukraine. And Donbas is Ukraine! I don’t make exceptions or divisions because Ukraine exists wherever there are Ukrainians. But, I’m talking about real Ukrainians, not the scum that are ashamed to speak Ukrainian. Such bastards!

            I learned Ukrainian when I was five and a half. We left the Donbas because doctors said that I’d die… because I suffered from many serious diseases, and also dysentery due to the water in the Donbas region. At that time, moving from the Donbas to Kyiv was like flying to the Moon. But, mothers will do anything for their children, so first we moved to Vyshhorod and then to Kyiv.

            Even though my mother descended from an illustrious line of wealthy Zaporizhzhyan Cossacks, we spoke Russian, and I heard Ukrainian for the first time when I was five and a half. Mother was afraid to pronounce a single word in Ukrainian. So, I started learning Ukrainian, and I’m still learning…

            – And yet, you speak several languages, but you write only in Ukrainian.

            – I could write in different languages, even in Russian. But never, ever will I do that!

            – Your father was shot by the NKVD so that he wouldn’t divulge anything to the Germans. In 1943, you and your mother fled to Germany. How did you manage that?

            – There was no emigration at that time. Either you escaped death or you were killed. Today, people can emigrate. Mother managed to escape although nobody knew German. It was a real miracle!

            Today, our people don’t realize how good they have it. If they don’t like the way things are, they run off and assimilate somewhere in order not to be Ukrainian. Well, somebody has to stay and be Ukrainian! If the language is lost, there will be no nation. So, I say …no bilingualism! Do you see bilingualism in England, Germany, France, or Italy?

            – You visited Ukraine for the first time in 1991, together with your husband, writer Ivan Koshelivets. You made several visits after that. What changes have you observed in Ukraine?

            – Unfortunately, Ukraine isn’t strong enough to change as it should. However, Ukraine is an amazing country, and there are many dedicated people working hard to make it a better place. I respect them, I applaud them, I bow before them, and I’m glad that they exist.

            If you want Ukraine to exist, you should learn Ukrainian! But, what’s happening nowadays? They say they can’t learn Ukrainian; they can learn any other language, but certainly not Ukrainian. You know what’s missing? A strong will and a strong national spirit! A foreign spirit will never create a national identity. You have to fight hard for your home and your rights. That’s what I see in Ukraine today – a truly remarkable country!

            – How do you perceive the situation in the Donbas? Is “reconciliation” possible or would this be a “betrayal”?

            – What reconciliation are you talking about?! They bite off a chunk of land and then expect some sort of reconciliation?! They must return everything, but we know that the empire never gives anything back. It was all planned and decided long ago… Our heroes are dying for Ukraine! My heart bleeds every day… They’re all so young… God, so young, so young, such fantastic young people!

            So, let’s stop beating around the bush and start acting accordingly. Many others just want to make a quick buck…

            – How would you describe your literary style?

            – It’s the Emma Andiyevska style. It’s neither here nor there. I created my personal prose while I was learning Ukrainian. Every culture should have complex sentences, so I decided to create them.

            – Do you keep track of the literary scene in Ukraine? What do you find interesting?

            – Literary processes are the same everywhere. There are very talented people everywhere, and there are also graphomaniacs, and persons thirsting for fame and glory – that’s a normal phenomenon. We shouldn’t worry about that, but we should search for what’s real. I sense whether words ring true or not. Look at Tychyna’s simple words when he addresses a night spider: “ Ϥ , ! , ? – ” (Oh, my little dear one, crawling along my nose! Maybe you’d like some borshch? – I’ll bring some tomorrow!” It’s brilliant and it hasn’t lost its significance over all these years. In order to appreciate, we must know a lot and sense our history, etc.

            http://i1.wp.com/euromaidanpress.com...02/4.jpg?w=650

            – Are you a visionary?

            – Yes, I am. I can do that because I work very hard and very conscientiously, and I forget about the “me” thing. Why did I wrote Herostrati (Emma Andiyevska’s first novel. The title refers to Herostratus and means “fame sought at any cost” – Ed.). I wrote this novel when I was 19 because I couldn’t stand such herostratism (vanity).

            – Your new book of sonnets – Shallow People – will be published soon. Why sonnets?

            – 270 sonnets. Read them and you’ll see what’s there.

            I wrote some sonnets when I was young, and it was then that I discovered dissonant sounds – something very harmonious and musical. The Ukrainian language is extremely beautiful and melodious. It’s not compressed like old Sanskrit, or modern-day Serbian, partiall in the Czech language, and somewhat in Russians. Ukrainian doesn’t have such “smacking” sounds that narrow speech patterns. All the vowels are pronounced, and what’s considered a rhyme in German, is in fact a dissonant sound in Ukrainian. Ukrainians don’t know how amazing and wonderful the Ukrainian language really is.

            http://i1.wp.com/euromaidanpress.com...2/5.jpeg?w=620

            – Could you describe your creative process? How do come up with specific plots, images, words?

            – They all come from the inner me. You should always be aware of everything, check the accuracy of your information in different languages, and know different literature. By the time I was nine, I’d read all the world classics. I still read a lot and remember everything. Then, something irrational begins throwing ideas at you, but in order to give it meaning, you have to work a lot.

            – Several hours of sleep and constant daily work…What keeps you going?

            – I’ve created 15 paintings that consist of six segments. Each measures 120 by 160 cm. But, the point is that you have to work freely and stop believing that you’re going to fool everybody. I want to incarnate my vision in painting, I want to externalize the ineffable…And that’s what I work on.

            I’ve never been in good health, but I have spirit and drive! Look at some of today’s young people… crying and complaining because they have no inner spirit. Spirit cannot thrive on trivialities. I arrived in the West when I was 12, and I knew that in order to do something for Ukraine, I had to work like a dog. But, I’m happy to work and I’m very happy to know that there are so many fantastic people out there. It’s these people made me who I am and contributed to my winning this prize.

            – Will you attend the Shevchenko Prize ceremony in Kyiv?

            – Unfortunately, my health prevents me from attending this great event. I’ll be on Skype. I couldn’t go to Sambir in Lviv Oblast either. I presented 103 paintings to the Sambir Museum. Today, the city has a unique collection, and I’m so happy that Ukraine will see some of my work. I’ve never sold any of my paintings. If you want to create something real, then you have to live this way…

            – You want to create something real – so, you must be true to yourself…

            – Yes, it’s really quite simple. I want to transfer positive energy to everyone so that people can grow and develop, create and do mind-boggling things. Spirit and drive can overcome any challenges that come your way – spirit, spirit, spirit! That’s what I try to capture in all my creative work.

            http://i0.wp.com/euromaidanpress.com...02/6.jpg?w=450
            Shevchenko Prize winner Emma Andiyevska: “If you want Ukraine to exist, learn Ukrainian!” -Euromaidan Press |

            æ, !

            Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp

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            • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 26.02.2018
              It's important that all Ukraine's intl partners clearly state about illegality of holding presidential elections in Crimea

              The upcoming elections of the Russian president in the occupied Crimea are illegitimate, and this should be spoken not only by Ukraine, but also by its international partners, First Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Iryna Gerashchenko has said.

              "It is very important that during these three weeks that remain before the elections in Crimea, it is necessary that not only Ukraine shout about them, but all our international partners very clearly state that now they are trying to hold an illegal presidential election of a foreign country in Crimea," said Gerashchenko at the international forum titled "Occupied Peninsula: Four Years of Resistance" in Kyiv on Monday.

              According to Gerashchenko, legitimizing of elections in Crimea "is the legitimization of Putin's aggression, the legitimization of the theft of Crimea."
              It's important that all Ukraine's intl partners clearly state about illegality of holding presidential elections in Crimea

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              Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp

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              • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 13:51 26.02.2018
                Russia created in Crimea self-reliant grouping capable of carrying threat to coastal territories of entire Black Sea region

                During four years of occupation, Russia created a powerful military group in Crimea that controls the Black Sea zone, Ukraine's Deputy Defense Minister for European Integration Anatoliy Petrenko has said.

                "Over the past four years, the Russian Federation has created a sustainable interdepartmental group on the peninsula that is capable of conducting operations in the northwestern strategic direction, which allows the Russian Federation to control the Black Sea zone, project instability to the eastern part of the Black Sea, to control airspace and coastal areas of the entire Black Sea region," Petrenko said at the international forum titled "Occupied Peninsula: Four Years of Resistance" in Kyiv on Monday.

                According to him, during four years of occupation, the Russian Federation created an army corps in Crimea, an operational-tactical association, which includes a large number of armored vehicles and special equipment.

                "If there were about 12,000 servicemen of the Russian Federation in 2013, now this number exceeds 31,000. If there were no Russian tanks in Crimea in 2013, this year there are 40 of them," Petrenko said.

                According to him, currently 583 armored personnel carriers and 162 artillery systems are also present on the peninsula.

                The representative of the Defense Ministry also added that during four years, a mixed aviation division, including bombers, ground attack planes and fighters, were added to the two regiments of naval aviation that were in the Russian Black Sea fleet. Petrenko noted that the number of Russian military aircraft had increased from 22 to 113.

                "Combat ships and submarines with sea-based cruise missiles caliber have been introduced into the combat personnel of the Russian Federation. You have all seen their application in Syria from the water area of the Caspian Sea. So, now there are eight such ships in the Black Sea Fleet and they can execute a volley with 52 units of cruise missiles in total. The range of destruction of such a rocket ranges from 1,500 to 2,500 km," the deputy minister said.

                "The Russian Federation is planning to introduce the concept of the so-called prohibition zone for access to the Crimean Peninsula, when by combining modern air defense models, anti-ship missile systems, and by moving tactical missile systems Iskander from the mainland of Russia to the Crimean peninsula, the Russian Federation has the ability to control any military platform that will be present in the Black Sea and can with a high degree of probability destroy them," Petrenko said.
                Russia created in Crimea self-reliant grouping capable of carrying threat to coastal territories of entire Black Sea region

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                Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp

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                • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 21.02.2018
                  Poroshenko at state treason trial against Yanukovych talks about his visit to Crimea on Feb 27, 2014

                  Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has testified via a video link at the state treason trial against disgraced ex-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. He spoke about his trip to Crimea on February 27, 2014 in order to calm the situation on the peninsula.

                  "I was personally acquainted with the accused. Our relations with Yanukovych varied," Poroshenko said.

                  Poroshenko said he received permission from Chairman of Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada Oleksandr Turchynov to visit Crimea in order to talk with deputies from Crimea's parliament and stop "destructive processes" set in motion after an attempt to call an illegal referendum.

                  "After receiving written permission from Turchynov, I immediately went to Simferopol and received information that the city was already blocked," Poroshenko said.
                  Poroshenko at state treason trial against Yanukovych talks about his visit to Crimea on Feb 27, 2014

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                  Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp

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                  • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 26.02.2018
                    OSCE mission spotted tanks, howitzers in occupied Donbas - Ukrainian side of JCCC

                    The Ukrainian side of the Joint Center for Control and Coordination (JCCC) has confirmed a report by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission on the concentration of military hardware and weapons beyond withdrawal lines, in violation of the Minsk agreements.

                    "The Ukrainian side of the JCCC informs that gunmen of illegal armed formations operating in certain areas of Luhansk region continued the practice of concentrating military hardware and weapons outside withdrawal lines, which is a violation of the Minsk agreements. In particular, on February 22, OSCE SMM observers spotted 36 T-64 tanks in the settlement of Kruhlyk and five D-30 howitzers near the settlement of Yasne," the Ukrainian side of the JCCC reported on the website of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry on Saturday, February 24.

                    In addition, according to preliminary information, ten tanks were seen on the territory of a secondary school on Khmelnytsky Street in Donetsk, as well as artillery systems and mortars on the northeastern outskirts of Kalynivka.

                    "This indicates that the Russian occupation administration neglects the requirements of acts of international law, the ban on the placement of heavy weapons and equipment in populated localities, as well as systematic violation of the agreements reached on the withdrawal of weapons from the line of contact in accordance with the Minsk agreements," reads the report. OSCE mission spotted tanks, howitzers in occupied Donbas - Ukrainian side of JCCC

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                    • Putin says he does not object to peacekeepers in Donbas
                      UAWIRE March 1, 2018 12:00:52 PM

                      At a press conference following talks with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz ,Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia is not opposed to peacekeepers being placed throughout Ukraine.

                      However, Putin said that this would need to be coordinated with the unrecognized Donbas republics.

                      “We are not against it, at least. But it needs to be arranged with these unrecognized republics. Go there and make an agreement with them. No, nobody wants to do this,” Putin said.

                      He also remarked that the current proposal is to distribute the peacekeeping mission throughout the entire Donbas, whereas initially there was only talk of ensuring the safety of the OSCE observers situated on the demarcation line.

                      Putin said that in one of his phone calls with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Merkel suggested that there should be peacekeepers on the border between Russia and Ukraine.

                      “I responded, yes, you are probably right. Let them be there too once they are accompanying the OSCE staff, that is, to ensure safety. We went for it. But this also turned out to be insufficient,” the Russian head of state emphasized.

                      Ukraine insists that the peacekeepers must be on the part of the border shared with Russia in order to prevent the movement of weapons into Ukrainian territory. UAWire - Putin says he does not object to peacekeepers in Donbas

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                      • Putin: Nord Stream-2 project is not an alternative to Ukrainian transit route
                        UAWIRE March 1, 2018 10:00:50 AM

                        At the press conference following negotiations with Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline project is absolutely, politically unbiased and that it is not an alternative to the Ukrainian gas transit route.

                        "You know what our position is. We support the implementation of this project, which is entirely politically unbiased. This is absolutely economic, moreover, this project is absolutely commercial," TASS reported the Russian leader as saying. He added, "this is not even an alternative to the Ukrainian route."

                        "We do not object to further cooperation with Ukraine should it provide economically feasible parameters for the utilization of its gas transport system. Pumping volumes are the only issue," Putin explained.

                        Commenting on results of the negotiations, the Russian President noted that its parties highlighted specific plans for political, economic and humanitarian sectors. "We have confirmed that the Russia-Austria relations are traditionally based on the principles of equality and mutual respect and that they are mutually beneficial," Putin said.

                        In speaking of the cooperation in economy, the Russian president expressed hope that representatives of the Austrian business would take part in the upcoming international economic forum in Saint Petersburg. UAWire - Putin: Nord Stream-2 project is not an alternative to Ukrainian transit route

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                        • Poroshenko: deliveries of American weapons to Ukraine will be made within 'several weeks'
                          UAWIRE March 1, 2018 9:00:00 AM

                          The first delivery of American weapons to Ukraine will be made within “several weeks”, stated the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko in answer to reporters’ questions during a press conference. A video of the event was posted on the leader’s Facebook page.

                          “Unfortunately, I can’t give you any details. But the first delivery will be made within several weeks,” said Poroshenko. According to him, he discussed the delivery of different types of weapons with various American partners. He added that attention was given to anti-sniper complexes, equipment for electronic warfare, air defense and other types of weapons.

                          “We have made great progress in negotiations with our American partners. This was done during our meeting with American President Donald Trump at the White House in 2017,” said Poroshenko. He said that he has “positive news” regarding the negotiations with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

                          At the end of December 2017, it became known that Washington had decided to provide weapons to Ukraine. The State Department stressed that Ukraine will receive weapons of an “exclusively defensive nature.”

                          In February, Ukrainian Minister of Defense Stepan Poltorak said that the U.S. will supply Ukraine with the Javelin anti-tank missile system in 2018. “I would like to say that we will definitely get the Javelin on time,” he said. The State Department could not confirm this information.
                          UAWire - Poroshenko: deliveries of American weapons to Ukraine will be made within 'several weeks'

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                          • Ukraine’s Naftogaz announces victory over Russia’s Gazprom in transit case in Stockholm Arbitration
                            UAWIRE March 1, 2018 8:00:48 AM

                            Naftogaz reported that it has successfully sued Gazprom for $4.63 billion in a transit dispute at an arbitration court in Stockholm. After deducting payment for already supplied gas, the Russian company must pay $2.56 billion.

                            The Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce has partially complied with Naftogaz’s demands, ruling that Gazprom must pay Naftogaz $4.63 billion for its under-delivery according to the transit agreement.

                            “Naftogaz was awarded damages of USD 4.63 billion for Gazprom's failure to deliver the agreed transit gas volumes. Gazprom will have to make a net payment of USD 2.56 to Naftogaz following the Awards in two gas Arbitrations,” Naftogaz’s statement reads.

                            Taking into account payment for already supplied gas (Ukraine owes Gazprom roughly $2 billion), Kyiv claims that the Russian company must pay $2.56 billion. The arbitration court also “dismissed Gazprom’s demands to fine Naftogaz for its sampled transit gas volumes”, according to Naftogaz’s Facebook page.

                            “We won!” Naftogaz commercial director Yuriy Vitrenko wrote on Facebook.

                            If the Stockholm arbitration court had met all of Gazprom’s demands, the Ukrainian company would have had to pay $81.4 billion (74% of Ukraine’s GDP). The $2.6 billion which Gazprom will have to transfer is equivalent to 2.3% of the republic’s GDP.

                            By Naftogaz’s calculation, the overall effect of the ruling is $3.1 billion – the compensation which Gazprom will have to pay (rounded to $2.6 billion) and the estimated saving of $0.5 billion due to the reduction of the price of Russian gas according to the court ruling.

                            Naftogaz is likely to agree to let Gazprom to pay what it owes in gas, East European Gas Analysis director Mikhail Korchemkin told RBC. He noted that Naftogaz has withdrawn a lot of gas from underground storage for the cold period. In addition, the arbitration court has ordered the Ukrainian company to buy a minimum of 4 billion cubic meters of Russian gas per year, under a “take or pay” clause. The price will be high, because it is a short-term contract, Korchemkin added.

                            The legal dispute between Gazprom and Naftogaz began in June 2014. It has two parts, and includes the parties’ demands concerning gas prices and supply volumes, as well as the conditions and tariffs on the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine. The Stockholm arbitration court made its final ruling on the first part of the dispute (the price of gas) in December 2017.

                            Gazprom demanded that Naftogaz repay its overdue debt for gas supplied in November-December 2013 and April-May 2014, in addition to a $56 billion fine for the gas shortfall according to the take or pay rule. However, Naftogaz achieved a retroactive revision of the gas price, compensation for overpayment and a lifting of the ban to resell gas. In the end, the Stockholm arbitration court ordered Naftogaz to pay Gazprom only $2 billion for the already supplied gas, as well as interest on the delay (0.03% per day since December 22, 2017). The court also reduced the contract’s annual purchase volume from 52 billion to 5 billion cubic meters, with the obligatory “take or pay” condition applying to 80% of this volume, i.e a minimum of 4 billion cubic meters per year until the contract expires at the end of 2019.

                            In the second part of the dispute, Naftogaz demanded a change in the method for calculating the transit tariff according to European standards, as well as compensation for the shortfall in the volume of transit gas. According to the contract, the minimum volume of gas which Gazprom must transport through Ukraine is 110 billion cubic meters per year. However, the average annual transit volume between 2009 and 2013 was 94 billion cubic meters. Naftogaz expected to receive a surcharge for transit between $6.5 billion and $16 billion, but Gazprom insisted on observing the contract terms – an indexed tariff for pumping 1,000 cubic meters 100 km.

                            Ukraine stopped purchasing gas from Russia in November 2015, and transitioned to getting its supply from European companies and traders. Naftogaz reported that it is willing to renew its purchasing of gas from Gazprom according to the volume specified by the court.

                            UAWire - Ukraine’s Naftogaz announces victory over Russia’s Gazprom in transit case in Stockholm Arbitration

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                            • Russia redirects its trains through Ukraine's Luhansk region again due to problems with the bypass railroad
                              UAWIRE February 28, 2018 6:56:56 PM

                              Russia again routed trains through the Zhuravka and Millerovo area in the Luhansk region of Ukraine due to problems with the bypass railroad , which opened in 2017, as announced by the Ukrainian MP , Dmytro Tymchuk.

                              "The joke is that after all the amazing reports and serious launch by the Russians of trains "bypassing Ukraine," as of February 2018 it turns out that Russian trains have returned to the "old" railroad. As before, they are going through Ukraine. Such an extreme "railway failure" for Moscow," Tymchuk wrote on Facebook.

                              LB.ua news outlet later confirmed, citing from an informed source, that Russian freight trains did return to the old railroad.

                              Tymchuk claims that because of the rush, Russian railway workers did not lay the railroad correctly. "They built a new railroad stretch in such a way that it is simply impossible to use it, in particular, very soon after the opening it was found out that the constructed drainage systems were faulty and the railway track sagged by up to 1 meter," he said.

                              "According to railway workers, in the spring, the situation with the new railway will deteriorate even more due to flooding," the MP predicts.

                              That part of the "old" branch of the Russian railway is laid through the territory of the Luhansk region and crosses over the Russian-Ukrainian border several times.

                              In 2014, the Russian Federation announced plans to build a new 18-kilometer railroad, bypassing Ukraine. The Russian military started work in accordance with the agreement with Russian Railways a year later. The railroad stretch was put into operation in the summer of 2017.

                              In 2012, Russia offered to move the border of Ukraine in this area, but this idea was not supported.
                              UAWire - Russia redirects its trains through Ukraine's Luhansk region again due to problems with the bypass railroad

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                              • US Representative for Ukraine Volker: sanctions against Russia may be eased if it contributes to peace in Donbas
                                UAWIRE February 28, 2018 6:00:31 PM

                                According to RIA Novosti, U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, stated that western countries can ease sanctions against Russia if Moscow contributes to the achievement of peace in the Donbas region.

                                He also added that only a slight easing of restrictive measures is possible, but even this can become a valuable factor in the relations between the Russian Federation and the United States, as it will demonstrate their ability to negotiate.
                                At the same time, Volker noted the lack of current progress in the achievement of peace in the Donbas, in particular because of the divergence of the parties’ positions on the UN peacekeeping issue.

                                The U.S. Special Representative expressed doubt about the possibility of a full-scale military action in Donbas, "Ukraine is a much more stable country than it may seem."

                                Volker also emphasized that "the United States will not let Russia annex new territory in Ukraine."

                                Earlier, the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, Dmitry Rogozin, said that he believes that the sanctions against Russia have been imposed forever.

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