No announcement yet.

Ukrainian roots are being uprooted -

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 12:42 03.08.2018
    Only medical insurance can provide funds for financing specialized health care

    Only medical insurance can provide funds for financing specialized secondary and tertiary tier health care, Head of Subcommittee for medical education and science of the parliamentary committee for healthcare Kostiantyn Yarynych has said.

    "Now we can talk only about a separate insurance medicine law. It will be an opportunity to preserve the secondary and tertiary health care and understand at the expense of what they will be financed," he said in an interview with Interfax-Ukraine.

    The people's deputy said that currently the specialized medical care is financed only by 30%.

    "I am afraid that when we start calculating this service correctly, the sum could be enormous," he said.

    æ, !

    Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


    • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 12:41 03.08.2018
      Ukrainian helicopters promising for use in defense and civilian sector - Turchyno

      Secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) Oleksandr Turchynov considers promising the use of the newest Ukrainian-made helicopters for the needs of the country's security and civilian sector.

      "Apart from the security and defense sector, helicopter production is a very promising area for the civilian sector. Light helicopters, mobile and fast, can solve the transport problem. It's time to look at the helicopter as an ordinary and efficient vehicle," the NSDC's press service quoted him as saying during his visit to helicopter producing enterprises Vibston Aero and Chezara.

      According to Turchynov, young promising designers and engineers create light multipurpose helicopters that "can be used in border troops, in the State Emergency Service for the detection and localization of emergencies, for reconnaissance and fulfillment of combat tactical tasks in the Armed Forces, etc."

      At the same time, he focused on the unpreparedness of the domestic infrastructure for the widespread use of helicopters as vehicles, which "can be changed if desired".

      He noted that many countries are moving along the path of active development of the helicopter infrastructure and simplifying the use of air for private helicopter transportation, pointing to the need to adopt their experience.

      æ, !

      Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


      • ATLANTIC COUNCIL Melinda Haring August 5, 2018
        Sure, Ukraine Is Still a Mess, But the Fight Rages On

        Bloomberg recently ran an in-depth story titled, “Four Years after Its Revolution, Ukraine Is Still a Mess.” I can’t argue with the headline, but it overlooks the many efforts and individuals who are still fighting to fix Ukraine. Three of those individuals engaged in the fight spent most of July in Washington, DC, as James Denton Transatlantic Fellows at the Center for European Policy Analysis, gaining skills and contacts that will help them continue to press for reform in Ukraine.

        “No one is going to do it if I don’t act,” said Mykhailo Zhernakov, director of the Kyiv-based DEJURE Foundation and a Denton fellow. With spiky dirty blond hair and light blue eyes, Zhernakov is one of Kyiv’s most recognized experts on judicial reform. He’s a former judge who quit when the Euromaidan broke out, so he speaks with authority.

        “I saw that you can do more for rule of law as an expert than by being on the bench,” Zhernakov said.

        A board member at the Reanimation Package of Reforms, the coalition linking more than eighty nongovernmental organizations, Zhernakov has helped lead the fight to transform Ukraine’s courts.

        He’s not happy with the outcome. President Petro Poroshenko promised to massively overhaul the country’s judicial system with much fanfare, but so far, the results haven’t been promising. “Much ado about nothing,” Zhernakov said.

        The former judge turned activist was joined in Washington by journalist Elena Tribushnaya and Deputy Minister of Justice Sergiy Petukhov as Denton Transatlantic Fellows from Ukraine. The fellowship also brought leaders from the Czech Republic and Hungary to DC.

        Zhernakov, thirty-two, praised the fellowship for giving him an opportunity to meet Ambassador Kurt Volker, the US special negotiator on Ukraine, as well as top directors at the United States Agency for International Development and politicians on Capitol Hill. While Zhernakov has been to Washington before, he said the fellowship allowed him more time to have longer meetings and go into greater depth.

        Zhernakov worries about the outcome of the 2019 elections. In March, Ukraine elects a new president, and a new parliament will be elected in the fall. He predicts an “ice age” if Ukrainians elect a populist president next year. Much of the progress that has been made over the last four years will be rolled back, and civil society won’t be as effective, he says.

        Tribushnaya, thirty-nine, is also concerned about the elections. She says that 2019 will be the year of populism and that there won’t be any great reform breakthroughs. “People are tired of waiting for some breakthroughs, but as history shows, Ukrainians can wait, wait, wait—and then explode,” she said.

        In spite of the gloomy prognosis, Tribushnaya reminds me that investigative journalists are breaking stories about corrupt officials that are being referred to the National Anticorruption Bureau of Ukraine.

        She’s the chief editor of Channel 24, a television station owned by the family of Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi and influential media manager Roman Andreyko that is normally rated in the top three for Ukrainian news channels, according to Nielsen’s TV ratings. She has been on the job for a year now.

        Tribushnaya went from supervising a team of six at the well-regarded magazine Novoe Vremya to a team of sixty at Channel 24. “I never watched TV before,” she said with a laugh. But the station wanted someone with vision who knew the substance of the reform debates, so she got the job.

        Tribushnaya likes to master a challenge and then move on. She was a print journalist at Korrespondent for seven years; when President Viktor Yanukovych bought the magazine in 2013, she quit, along with chief editor Vitaliy Sych and most of the team.

        “We thought we’d have no place to work,” she said. During the Maidan without a professional perch to write, she took to writing on Facebook, as did many Ukrainian journalists at the time.

        After the Maidan, Sych set up Novoe Vremya magazine and a website. Some consider it the gold standard in Ukrainian journalism. It’s fearless, irreverent, and feared by the authorities. The magazine is a project of Tomas Fiala, who owns the investment company Dragon Capital; Fiala doesn’t interfere in content or the editorial line.

        Journalism isn’t an easy profession in Ukraine. She hasn’t faced harassment herself, but the situation is difficult for journalists today. She points to the case of Denys Bihus, an investigative journalist with Nashi Groshi (Our Money), who claims that the SBU has been following his staff for a week.

        Television is king in Ukraine, and oligarchs own the airwaves. However, Channel 24 is giving space to a number of activists and reform-minded politicians, including Sergiy Leshchenko, Mustafa Nayyem, and Yegor Soboliev. The station also shows Oleksandra Ustinova from the watchdog Anticorruption Action Center and broadcasts Radio Svodoba’s hard-hitting show Schemes, about corruption in Ukraine.

        Tribushnaya said that showing the real owners of television stations is the only way to change the oligarch’s control over the media. The average viewer doesn’t know who the owner is, she said.

        Sergiy Petukhov, the third Denton fellow, agrees.

        Petukhov got his job as deputy minister of justice through an open competition. The slot would normally have been reserved for a political appointee.

        The thirty-three-year old lawyer from Donetsk worked on the bilateral agreements that allowed the Netherlands full jurisdiction over the MH17 case, in which Russian-backed separatists shot down a civilian airliner over Ukraine in 2014.

        He has also been praised for protecting reforms along the way. In 2016, the Kyiv Post credited him with protecting the e-declaration system, which requires state officials to disclose their income and assets online.

        While Petukhov has been to Washington many times before, he praised the Denton fellowship for giving him time and opportunity to exchange views with think tanks, whose staff are connected but “tend to be more open” than politicians.

        All three return to Kyiv brimming with ideas and new energy. Zhernakov, for example, has brought back a new idea about how to tame Ukraine’s notorious oligarchs through a new legislative push, and wants to put a full-time staff member in Washington to better communicate Ukraine’s ongoing reforms.

        The fight to transform Ukraine may have slowed to a simmer, but these three Ukrainians and thousands of others are committed for the long haul. Sure, Ukraine Is Still a Mess, But the Fight Rages On

        æ, !

        Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


        • Three Ukrainian hackers indicted for stealing millions of consumer information
          WASHINGTON TIMES Gabriella Muñoz August 1, 2018

          The Justice Department announced on Wednesday the indictment of three Ukrainian nationals for hacking more than 100 American companies and stealing millions of consumer credit and debit information.

          Charges are filed against Dmytro Fedorov, Fedir Hladyr, and Andrii Kopakov all of whom are members of a hacking group known as FIN7. The hacking group created a front company called Combi Security to disguise their efforts and recruit other hackers.

          Mr. Hladyr is being held in custody in Seattle. Mr. Fedorov and Mr. Kopakov were arrested abroad in Poland and Spain, respectively.

          “The three Ukrainian nationals indicted today allegedly were part of a prolific hacking group that targeted American companies and citizens by stealing valuable consumer data, including personal credit card information, that they then sold on the Darknet,” Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said in a statement.

          According to a press release from the DOJ, the three stole over 15 million card records from 6,500 individual vendor systems and 3,600 business locations. Prominent businesses that have publicly announced their compromised systems include popular chain restaurants Chipotle Mexican Grill, Chili’s, Arby’s and Red Robin.

          Attacks affected businesses in 47 states and Washington, D.C.

          æ, !

          Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


          • BBC 04 Aug 2018
            Women set new skydiving record in Ukraine

            Fifty-seven women have taken part in a synchronised skydive in Ukraine, setting a new world record.

            It is the highest number of people to get into and then change formation three times during a dive - and it all happened in just 90 seconds. They beat the previous record by one.

            see video
            Last edited by Hannia; 6th August 2018, 04:14.

            æ, !

            Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


            • Yuval Noah Harari edited extraction: ‘Humans are a post-truth species’
              THE GUARDIAN 5 Aug 2018 03.00 EDT

              In his new book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, the bestselling author turns his attention to the problems we face today. Here, he argues that ‘fake news’ is much older than Facebook

              We are repeatedly told these days that we are living in a new and frightening era of “post-truth”, and that lies and fictions are all around us. Examples are not hard to come by. Thus, in late February 2014, Russian special units bearing no army insignia invaded Ukraine and occupied key installations in Crimea. The Russian government and President Vladimir Putin in person repeatedly denied that these were Russian troops, and described them as spontaneous “self-defence groups” that may have acquired Russian-looking equipment from local shops. As they voiced this rather preposterous claim, Putin and his aides knew perfectly well that they were lying.

              Russian nationalists can excuse this lie by arguing that it served a higher truth. Russia was engaged in a just war, and if it is OK to kill for a just cause, surely it is also OK to lie? The higher cause that allegedly justified the invasion of Ukraine was the preservation of the sacred Russian nation. According to Russian national myths, Russia is a sacred entity that has endured for a thousand years despite repeated attempts by vicious enemies to invade and dismember it. Following the Mongols, the Poles, the Swedes, Napoleon’s Grande Armée and Hitler’s Wehrmacht, in the 1990s it was Nato, the US and the EU that attempted to destroy Russia by detaching parts of its body and forming them into “fake countries” such as Ukraine. For many Russian nationalists, the idea that Ukraine is a separate nation from Russia constitutes a far bigger lie than anything uttered by President Putin during his holy mission to reintegrate the Russian nation.

              Ukrainian citizens, outside observers and professional historians may well be outraged by this explanation, and regard it as a kind of “atom-bomb lie” in the Russian arsenal of deception. To claim that Ukraine does not exist as a nation and as an independent country disregards a long list of historical facts – for example, that during the thousand years of supposed Russian unity, Kiev and Moscow were part of the same country for only about 300 years. It also violates numerous international laws and treaties that Russia has previously accepted and that have safeguarded the sovereignty and borders of independent Ukraine. Most importantly, it ignores what millions of Ukrainians think about themselves. Don’t they have a say about who they are?

              Ukrainian nationalists would certainly agree with Russian nationalists that there are some fake countries around. But Ukraine isn’t one of them. Rather, these fake countries are the Luhansk People’s Republic and the Donetsk People’s Republic that Russia has set up to mask its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

              Whichever side you support, it seems that we are indeed living in a terrifying era of post-truth, when not just particular military incidents, but entire histories and nations might be faked. But if this is the era of post-truth, when, exactly, was the halcyon age of truth? In the 1980s? The 1950s? The 1930s? And what triggered our transition to the post-truth era – the internet? Social media? The rise of Putin and Trump?

              A cursory look at history reveals that propaganda and disinformation are nothing new, and even the habit of denying entire nations and creating fake countries has a long pedigree. In 1931 the Japanese army staged mock attacks on itself to justify its invasion of China, and then created the fake country of Manchukuo to legitimise its conquests. China itself has long denied that Tibet ever existed as an independent country. British settlement in Australia was justified by the legal doctrine of terra nullius (“nobody’s land”), which effectively erased 50,000 years of Aboriginal history. In the early 20th century, a favourite Zionist slogan spoke of the return of “a people without a land [the Jews] to a land without a people [Palestine]”. The existence of the local Arab population was conveniently ignored.

              In 1969 Israeli prime minister Golda Meir famously said that there is no Palestinian people and never was. Such views are very common in Israel even today, despite decades of armed conflicts against something that doesn’t exist. For example, in February 2016 MP Anat Berko gave a speech in the Israeli parliament in which she doubted the reality and history of the Palestinian people. Her proof? The letter “p” does not even exist in Arabic, so how can there be a Palestinian people? (In Arabic, “F” stands for “P”, and the Arabic name for Palestine is Falastin.)

              In fact, humans have always lived in the age of post-truth. Homo sapiens is a post-truth species, whose power depends on creating and believing fictions. Ever since the stone age, self-reinforcing myths have served to unite human collectives. Indeed, Homo sapiens conquered this planet thanks above all to the unique human ability to create and spread fictions. We are the only mammals that can cooperate with numerous strangers because only we can invent fictional stories, spread them around, and convince millions of others to believe in them. As long as everybody believes in the same fictions, we all obey the same laws, and can thereby cooperate effectively.

              æ, !

              Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


              • Humans are a post-truth species Pt 2

                So if you blame Facebook, Trump or Putin for ushering in a new and frightening era of post-truth, remind yourself that centuries ago millions of Christians locked themselves inside a self-reinforcing mythological bubble, never daring to question the factual veracity of the Bible, while millions of Muslims put their unquestioning faith in the Qur’an. For millennia, much of what passed for “news” and “facts” in human social networks were stories about miracles, angels, demons and witches, with bold reporters giving live coverage straight from the deepest pits of the underworld. We have zero scientific evidence that Eve was tempted by the serpent, that the souls of all infidels burn in hell after they die, or that the creator of the universe doesn’t like it when a Brahmin marries an Untouchable – yet billions of people have believed in these stories for thousands of years. Some fake news lasts for ever.

                I am aware that many people might be upset by my equating religion with fake news, but that’s exactly the point. When a thousand people believe some made-up story for one month, that’s fake news. When a billion people believe it for a thousand years, that’s a religion, and we are admonished not to call it fake news in order not to hurt the feelings of the faithful (or incur their wrath). Note, however, that I am not denying the effectiveness or potential benevolence of religion. Just the opposite. For better or worse, fiction is among the most effective tools in humanity’s toolkit. By bringing people together, religious creeds make large-scale human cooperation possible. They inspire people to build hospitals, schools and bridges in addition to armies and prisons. Adam and Eve never existed, but Chartres Cathedral is still beautiful. Much of the Bible may be fictional, but it can still bring joy to billions and encourage humans to be compassionate, courageous and creative – just like other great works of fiction, such as Don Quixote, War and Peace and Harry Potter.

                Again, some people may be offended by my comparison of the Bible with Harry Potter. If you are a scientifically minded Christian, you might explain away all the errors, myths and contradictions in the Bible by arguing that the holy book was never meant to be read as a factual account, but rather as a metaphorical story containing deep wisdom. But isn’t that true of Harry Potter too?

                If you are a fundamentalist Christian you are more likely to insist that every word of the Bible is literally true. Let’s assume for a moment that you are right, and that the Bible is indeed the infallible word of the one true God. What, then, do you make of the Qur’an, the Talmud, the Book of Mormon, the Vedas, the Avesta, and the Egyptian Book of the Dead? Aren’t you tempted to say that these texts are elaborate fictions created by flesh-and-blood humans (or perhaps by devils)?

                Ancient religions have not been the only ones that used fiction to cement cooperation. In more recent times, each nation has created its own national mythology, while movements such as communism, fascism and liberalism fashioned elaborate self-reinforcing credos. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda maestro and perhaps the most accomplished media-wizard of the modern age, allegedly explained his method succinctly by stating that “A lie told once remains a lie, but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth”. In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote that “The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.” Can any present-day fake-news peddler improve on that?

                The Soviet propaganda machine under Joseph Stalin was equally agile with the truth, so efficient, that it managed to hide monstrous atrocities at home while projecting a utopian vision abroad. Today Ukrainians complain that Putin has successfully deceived many western media outlets about Russia’s actions in Crimea and Donbas. Yet in the art of deception he can hardly hold a candle to Stalin. In the early 1930s, leftwing western journalists and intellectuals were praising the USSR as an ideal society at a time when Ukrainians and other Soviet citizens were dying in their millions from the famine that Stalin orchestrated. Whereas in the age of Facebook and Twitter it is sometimes hard to decide which version of events to believe, at least it is no longer possible for a regime to kill millions without the world knowing about it.

                Besides religions and ideologies, commercial firms too rely on fiction and fake news. Branding often involves retelling the same fictional story again and again, until people become convinced it is the truth. What images come to mind when you think about Coca-Cola? Do you think about young healthy people engaging in sports and having fun together? Or do you think about overweight diabetes patients lying in a hospital bed? Drinking lots of Coca-Cola will not make you young, will not make you healthy, and will not make you athletic – rather, it increases your chances of suffering from obesity and diabetes. Yet for decades Coca-Cola has invested billions of dollars in linking itself to youth, health and sports – and billions of humans subconsciously believe in this linkage. The truth is that truth was never high on the agenda of Homo sapiens. Many people assume that if a particular religion or ideology misrepresents reality, its adherents are bound to discover it sooner or later, because they will not be able to compete with more clear-sighted rivals. Well, that’s just another comforting myth.

                In practice, the power of human cooperation depends on a delicate balance between truth and fiction. If you distort reality too much, it will indeed weaken you by making you act in unrealistic ways. For example, in 1905 an East African medium called Kinjikitile Ngwale claimed to be possessed by the snake spirit Hongo. The new prophet had a revolutionary message to the people of the German colony of East Africa: unite and drive out the Germans. To make the message more appealing, Ngwale provided his followers with magic medicine that would allegedly turn German bullets into water (maji in Swahili). Thus began the Maji Maji rebellion. It failed. For on the battlefield, German bullets didn’t turn into water. Rather, they tore mercilessly into the bodies of the ill-armed rebels.

                æ, !

                Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                • Humans are a post-truth species Pt 3

                  On the other hand, you cannot organise masses of people effectively without relying on some mythology. If you stick to unalloyed reality, few people will follow you. In fact, false stories have an intrinsic advantage over the truth when it comes to uniting people. If you want to gauge group loyalty, requiring people to believe an absurdity is a far better test than asking them to believe the truth. If a big chief says “the sun rises in the east and sets in the west”, loyalty to the chief is not required in order to applaud him. But if the chief says “the sun rises in the west and sets in the east”, only true loyalists will clap their hands. Similarly, if all your neighbours believe the same outrageous tale, you can count on them to stand together in times of crisis. If they are willing to believe only accredited facts, what does that prove?

                  You might argue that, at least in some cases, it is possible to organise people effectively through consensual agreements rather than through fictions and myths. Thus in the economic sphere, money and corporations bind people together far more effectively than any god or holy book, even though everyone knows that they are just a human convention. In the case of a holy book, a true believer would say “I believe that the book is sacred” while, in the case of the dollar, a true believer would say only that “I believe that other people believe that the dollar is valuable”. It is obvious that the dollar is just a human creation, yet people all over the world respect it. If so, why can’t humans abandon all myths and fictions, and organise themselves on the basis of consensual conventions such as the dollar?

                  Such conventions, however, are not clearly distinct from fiction. The difference between holy books and money, for example, is far smaller than it may seem at first sight. When most people see a dollar bill, they forget that it is just a human convention. As they see the green piece of paper with the picture of the dead white man, they see it as something valuable in and of itself. Hence in practice there is no strict division between knowing that something is just a human convention and believing that something is inherently valuable. In many cases, people are ambiguous or forgetful about this division. Humans have this remarkable ability to know and not to know at the same time.

                  Blurring the line between fiction and reality can be done for many purposes, starting with “having fun” and going all the way to “survival”. You cannot play games or read novels unless you suspend disbelief at least for a little while. To really enjoy football, you have to accept the rules of the game, and forget for at least 90 minutes that they are merely human inventions. If you don’t, you will think it utterly ridiculous for 22 people to go running after a ball. Football may begin with just having fun, but it can then become far more serious stuff, as any English hooligan or Argentinian nationalist will attest. Football can help formulate personal identities, it can cement large-scale communities, and it can even provide reasons for violence. Nations and religions are football clubs on steroids.

                  Truth and power can travel together only so far. Sooner or later they go their separate ways. If you want power, at some point you will have to spread fictions. If you want to know the truth about the world, at some point you will have to renounce power. You will have to admit things – for example about the sources of your own power – that will anger allies, dishearten followers or undermine social harmony. Scholars throughout history faced this dilemma: do they serve power or truth? Should they aim to unite people by making sure everyone believes in the same story, or should they let people know the truth even at the price of disunity? The most powerful scholarly establishments – whether of Christian priests, Confucian mandarins or communist ideologues – placed unity above truth. That’s why they were so powerful.

                  As a species, humans prefer power to truth. We spend far more time and effort on trying to control the world than on trying to understand it – and even when we try to understand it, we usually do so in the hope that understanding the world will make it easier to control it. Therefore, if you dream of a society in which truth reigns supreme and myths are ignored, you have little to expect from Homo sapiens. Better try your luck with chimps.

                  All this does not mean that fake news is not a serious problem, or that politicians and priests have a free licence to lie through their teeth. It would also be wrong to conclude that everything is just fake news, that any attempt to discover the truth is doomed to failure, and that there is no difference whatsoever between serious journalism and propaganda. Underneath all the fake news, there are real facts and real suffering. In Ukraine, for example, Russian soldiers are really fighting, thousands have really died, and hundreds of thousands have really lost their homes.

                  Therefore instead of accepting fake news as the norm, we should recognise it is a far more difficult problem than we tend to assume, and we should strive even harder to distinguish reality from fiction.

                  Don’t expect perfection. One of the greatest fictions of all is to deny the complexity of the world, and think in absolute terms of pristine purity versus satanic evil. No politician tells the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but some politicians are still far better than others. Given the choice, I would trust Churchill much more than Stalin, even though the British PM was not above embellishing the truth when it suited him.

                  Similarly, no newspaper is free of biases and mistakes, but some newspapers make an honest effort to find out the truth whereas others are a brainwashing machine. If I lived in the 1930s, I hope I would have had the sense to believe the New York Times more than Pravda and Der Stürmer.

                  It is the responsibility of all of us to invest time and effort in uncovering our biases and in verifying our sources of information.

                  First, if you want reliable information – pay good money for it. If you get your news for free, you might well be the product. Suppose a shady billionaire offered you the following deal: “I will pay you $30 a month, and in exchange, you will allow me to brainwash you for an hour every day, installing in your mind whichever political and commercial biases I want.” Would you take the deal? Few sane people would. So the shady billionaire offers a slightly different deal: “You will allow me to brainwash you for one hour every day, and in exchange, I will not charge you anything for this service.” Now the deal suddenly sounds tempting to hundreds of millions of people. Don’t follow their example.

                  The second rule of thumb is that if some issue seems exceptionally important to you, make the effort to read the relevant scientific literature. And by scientific literature I mean peer-reviewed articles, books published by well-known academic publishers, and the writings of professors from reputable institutions. Science obviously has its limitations, and it has got many things wrong in the past. Nevertheless, the scientific community has been our most reliable source of knowledge for centuries. If you think that the scientific community is wrong about something, that’s certainly possible, but at least know the scientific theories you are rejecting, and provide some empirical evidence to support your claim.

                  Scientists, for their part, need to be far more engaged with current public debates. They should not be afraid of making their voice heard when the debate wanders into their field of expertise, be it medicine or history. Silence isn’t neutrality; it is supporting the status quo.

                  æ, !

                  Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                  • Steven Seagal becomes Russia's Special Envoy for Humanitarian Relations with the United States
                    UAWIRE August 5, 2018 9:00:54 AM

                    The Russian Foreign Ministry has appointed Hollywood actor Steven Seagal, who has Russian citizenship, as its special envoy on issues of Russian-American humanitarian ties, the press service of the Russian Foreign Ministry announced on Saturday.

                    "The task is to facilitate further development of Russian-American relations in the humanitarian field, including cooperation in culture, art, public and youth exchanges," said the ministry.

                    The Foreign Ministry stressed that it is a socio-political position, not involving any monetary reward.

                    "It is the case when people's diplomacy meets traditional diplomacy. In international practice, it is possible to draw parallels with the functions of the UN Goodwill Ambassadors, "said the report.

                    Zakharova called Seagal her work colleague.

                    In November 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin granted Russian citizenship to the American actor Steven Seagal.

                    Seagal supported Putin's policy towards Ukraine, in particular, the annexation of the Crimea. He repeatedly visited the Russian Federation over the past few years. In 2017, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) banned Seagal from entering Ukraine for a period of 5 years. UAWire - Steven Seagal becomes Russia's Special Envoy for Humanitarian Relations with the United States

                    æ, !

                    Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                    • Russia prepares to close the border with Belarus to foreign transport
                      UAWIRE August 5, 2018 5:00:18 PM

                      Russia intends to change the border-crossing rules for long-distance truck drivers of the third countries entering its territory from Belarus, reports DW.

                      At the end of July, Russian border guards received instructions how to implement additional control measures. They were obliged to stop drivers with any passports from entering the territory of Russia, except for Russian and Belarusian.

                      However, on the night of August 1, an order was issued not to apply new measures. An introduction of this procedure was postponed indefinitely.

                      From October 2016, Russian border guards stopped letting in the citizens of the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union (Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan) via the border with Belarus. Due to this, they have to enter the Russian Federation from the territory of other countries.

                      According to truck drivers, now the Krasnoye checkpoint looks like a border in its classical sense. First, one must go through passport control, and only those who passed it, proceed further to weight, transportation, customs and phytosanitary control.

                      Belarus and Russia form a "union state", and for citizens of both countries, there is no border control, as such.

                      President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko expressed dissatisfaction with the Russian policy towards the common border.
                      UAWire - Russia prepares to close the border with Belarus to foreign transport

                      æ, !

                      Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                      • Russia claims that priest visited imprisoned filmmaker Sentsov
                        UAWIRE August 5, 2018 4:00:16 PM

                        Bogdan Vasiluk, a priest of St. George Church in the town of Labytnangi visited a political prisoner, filmmaker Oleh Sentsov, who is in the Polar Bear penal colony, as reported by the press service of the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) of Russia for the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug on Saturday, August 4.

                        "Bogdan Vasiluk visited the convicted O. Sentsov’s cell during his visit-round. The Priest asked about his health condition and Oleh Sentsov replied that he feels well and is being treated by medical staff. He has no complaints about the detention conditions,” the press service of the FSIN says.

                        According to the ministry, the priest offered to talk with the convict or to hear his confession in private. "Sentsov thanked him but refused, explaining that he didn’t need any help from the clergyman," FSIN reports.

                        Earlier, the international human rights group Amnesty International reported that the Russian government refused to explain why the organization's representatives are prohibited from meeting with Sentsov.

                        Sentsov was convicted on fabricated charges and sentenced to prison in Russia. He has been on hunger strike since May 14. UAWire - Russia claims that priest visited imprisoned filmmaker Sentsov

                        æ, !

                        Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                        • US Senate sends the market of Russian government bonds spiraling downward
                          UAWIRE August 5, 2018 3:00:15 PM

                          The market for Russian government debt, which has already experienced two major sell-offs since April, is going into a recession, reports.

                          The price of Russian debt on the Moscow Exchange has fallen for two consecutive days, in light of news that the US Senate has introduced a bill which would drastically increase the sanctions against Russia. The document, which was put forward by an inter-party group, including republican John McCain and democrat Bob Mendendez, demands that the restrictions on the oil and gas sector be tightened, that Russia be investigated for sponsoring international terrorism, and that foreign investors be banned from participating in any operations with Russian government debt.

                          The current sanction regime “has been unable to force the Kremlin to change its behavior”, and so “devastating sanctions against Putin’s Russia are needed, until it stops interfering in the US electoral process,” said republican Lindsey Graham from South Carolina.

                          “Once again the voiced sanction rhetoric has aggravated the situation of Russian securities,” observed Olga Sterina, analyst at Uralsib.

                          In daily trading on Friday, the most liquid Federal Loan Bond issuances hit lows since June: the 26207 bond, a favorite among non-residents, dropped by 0.18% after falling 0.54% the day before, to 102.57% of nominal.

                          The Russian Government Bond Index slipped by 0.9 points over two days, and stopped only 0.16 points shy of the 10 month low.

                          Foreign investors, who hold 1.9 trillion rubles worth of Federal Loan Bonds and control almost 29% of the market, have begun to treat the possibility of sanctions on Russian government debt as a fundamental, said analyst Denis Poryvay from Reiffeisen Bank. This was witnessed in the intense dumping of securities after the Russian aluminum producer Rusal was placed on the sanctions blacklist.

                          According to the Central Bank of Russia, between April and June non-residents sold $6.7 billion worth of Russian government debt, equivalent to 370 billion rubles.

                          Russian investors were forced to buy out the market failure, at the expense of the population’s pension savings and possibly also Central Bank funds, Poryvay observed.

                          If the bill is passed, a new sell-off will follow, senior analyst from the Alpari Group Roman Tkachuk believes.

                          Although it currently appears that the bill would only affect operations with new Federal Loan Bond issuances, this still can start an all-encompassing the flights of non-residents. “Compliance may not permit them to hold even old issuances,” Porivay explains.

                          In this case, the Russian government debt market will be under threat of collapse. According to Citigroup’s predictions: the yield on 10-year securities could surge from 7.8% to 11.6% by the end of 2019.

                          This will increase the cost of loans for the Ministry of Finance and have an adverse effect on the budget. The sell-off will also provoke an outflow of capital, which will in turn weaken the ruble.
                          UAWire - US Senate sends the market of Russian government bonds spiraling downward

                          æ, !

                          Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                          • Kremlin admits Russia cut off from modern oil extraction technologies
                            UAWIRE August 5, 2018 2:00:09 PM

                            The West’s sanctions against Russian mining companies have been creating “serious problems” for Russian oil and gas extraction companies, who have become dependent on foreign technologies, stated Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev as cited by Interfax news agency.

                            “The financial and technological sanctions introduced by the US and their allies against Russian energy companies have highlighted the problem of domestic energy’s vulnerability and dependence on foreign capital and foreign technologies, equipment and software,” Patrushev said at a meeting with the heads of the regions of Central Russia.

                            “This dependence creates serious problems in a number of areas. First and foremost, it affects the oil and gas sector,” he observed. In this regard, it would be “advisable” to work on “additional mechanisms” to encourage the oil companies to transition to domestic equipment, Patrushev added.

                            Russian equivalents to some of the equipment simply do not exist, however.

                            For example, the technologies for hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), which is used actively in the US, drastically increases well output, and can “revive” old deposits and extract hard-to-reach shale oil, do not exist in Russia at present, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in March at a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

                            “Hydraulic fracturing fleets are being used increasingly actively today in the development of oil and gas fields. In Russia at present, unfortunately, these technologies do not exist, and only a trial industrial facility has been created,” Novak said.

                            Since the western sanctions were introduced, the technological basis of the Russian mining sector has completely halted in its development: the proportion of fundamentally new developments dropped from 30% in 2011 to 0% in 2016, calculated Valery Mironov, deputy director of the Development Center at the Higher School of Economics.

                            Companies’ and the government’s expenditure on science and innovation played a relatively minor role with respect to its proportion in world mining (roughly 1% of the world’s expenditure), Mironov explains. The situation seems unacceptable: the oil recovery factor for deposits being developed in Russia is roughly 25% on average, whereas for world leaders it is up to 45%, he added.

                            Russia’s ability to increase its oil extraction on its current technological basis has been effectively depleted, the International Energy Agency predicted in its Oil 2018 report. According to the agency’s calculations, Russian mining will reach a peak of 11.74 million barrels per day in 2021, after which the volume will start to decrease.
                            UAWire - Kremlin admits Russia cut off from modern oil extraction technologies

                            æ, !

                            Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                            • Lithuanian security services accuse online service Yandex.Taxi of transferring user data to Russia
                              UAWIRE August 5, 2018 12:00:05 PM

                              The service Yandex.Taxi, working in Lithuania is transferring data to Russian IP-addresses, according to the National Center for Cybersecurity (NSCC) under the Ministry of Defense of Lithuania.

                              In a statement published on the center’s website, specialists of the NSCC state that, after conducting an analysis of the application, they found that the application “maintains active communication with 11 IP-addresses, most of which are located in Russia.”

                              “NSCC employees found that this application has a regular connection through encrypted channels of communication with IP-addresses in different regions of Russia, regardless of whether the application is in standby or in active mode,” stated the report. It was determined that ten of the 11 IP-addresses are in Russia: six in Moscow, four in Yekaterinburg.

                              The document also emphasizes that the application “requires access to a large amount of confidential user data,” and that later versions may request even more such information.

                              In this regard, the NSCC recommends not using this application. This is especially important for officials and employees of the Ministry of Defense of the country.

                              The press service for Yandex.Taxi noted that the data is stored and used in full compliance with EU legislation. The company assured that they strictly comply with IOS and Android owners’ requirements and user information. “We are ready to explain this to Lithuanian officials and governing organizations, but so far we have not received any requests,” the press service added. They also reminded that the service Yandex.Taxi in Lithuania is operated by the company Yandex.Taxi BV registered in the Netherlands.

                              These are not the first warnings from the National Center for Cyber Security of Lithuania. At the end of July, the center warned Lithuanian citizens that the application Yandex. Taxi is a threat because it requests a large amount of data. In the past, it was stressed that these Yandex. Taxi requirements may create conditions for illegal collection and accumulation of data.” Also, the agency noted that user data is stored on the company’s servers in their headquarters in Moscow, and it is possible that this data is passed on to Russian local government and regulatory organizations, as well as courts and other third parties. Earlier, the deputy of Lithuania’s Sejm, Audronius Ažubalis, said that Yandex.Taxi is a threat to national security. UAWire - Lithuanian security services accuse online service Yandex.Taxi of transferring user data to Russia

                              æ, !

                              Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                              • Russia displeased the US disclosed letter sent to Washington regarding restoration of Syria
                                UAWIRE August 5, 2018 11:00:04 AM

                                The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that Valery Gerasimov, the head of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff, sent a letter to US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford via a confidential communication channel in July, reported RBC news agency with a reference to the Russian Ministry of Defense.

                                "It is disappointing that the American side is unable to comply with our agreement that stipulates that the content of communication can only be disclosed with the consent of both sides," the Russian Defense Ministry said.

                                In his letter, Gerasimov made a proposal regarding the return of Syrian refugees from the Rukban camp located in the US-controlled area of al-Tanf, to their homes in the territory controlled by Syrian government troops.

                                In addition, the head of the Russian General Staff allegedly asked the US for assistance in demining in the city of Raqqa and the solution of other humanitarian problems.

                                "We expect that the US side will be able to take the necessary measures to prevent future violations of mutual agreements," the Ministry of Defense said, referring to the publicity of the letter.

                                Earlier, Reuters reported that in the letter, Moscow asked for support in rehabilitating Syria since the Syrian regime lacks the equipment, fuel, other materials and funds needed to rebuild the country. According to the report, the Russian plan was received ‘coldly’ by Washington.

                                It is noted that the US offered support in the event of a political solution to the conflict in Syria is found and the elections under the auspices of the United Nations are organized. The US accuses Assad of destroying Syria.

                                Moscow has stepped up its diplomatic activity after Assad's forces backed by Russian warplanes regained control over most of south-western Syria, the region that was one of the last insurgent areas.

                                Russia launched a large-scale campaign to attract Western countries to humanitarian activities in the Syrian-controlled territories of Syria, seeking to convince the world of the need to establish normal post-war relations with President Assad. UAWire - Russia displeased the US disclosed letter sent to Washington regarding restoration of Syria

                                æ, !

                                Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp