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  • Poland claims its dependence on Russian gas decreasing
    UAWIRE August 4, 2018 2:00:25 PM

    The Polish oil and gas company PGNiG in its press release reported the increase in import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) into the country. According to the company, although the volume of gas purchased in Russia has also increased, its share in total imports amount has decreased.

    In January-July 2018, LNG shipments to Poland increased by 0.6 billion cubic meters (by 60%) compared to the same period last year. These LNG supplies to Poland came from Norway, Qatar and the United States. Over the same seven months, the increase in gas imports from Russia amounted to 0.4 billion cubic meters (6%).

    Altogether, the share of Russian gas in Poland's imports for this period was 75% and compared to last year fell by 2%. The share LNG imports for this period increased to 19%.

    The company notes that Poland also conducts diversification of its gas sources. In addition to LNG purchases, by 2022, when the long-term contract with Russia will end, gas will be delivered to Poland from Denmark via the Baltic Pipe gas pipeline. It will also be filled with gas from the Norwegian shelf. In addition, it is expected that by 2022, under the long-term contracts, Poland will annually receive more than 4 billion cubic meters of gas from the United States.

    The contract for the supply of gas from Russia to Poland ("Yamal Contract"), signed in 1996, is valid until 2022. This contract provides the supply of 10 billion cubic meters of gas. In October 2010, then-Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin and his Polish colleague Waldemar Pawlak signed two new protocols in addition to an intergovernmental agreement to increase the volume of gas supplies and change Yamal-Europe gas pipeline management. In 2012, Gazprom and PGNiG signed an additional agreement to this contract, which, as stated by the Polish side, was supposed to reduce the price of gas by 10%. However, Warsaw continued to seek new discounts on the "Yamal contract" and in 2015 initiated the process of filing a lawsuit in Stockholm arbitration court. On June 30, 2018, the PGNiG press service reported that the interim decision of the arbitration took the Polish side. However, on July 2, Gazprom announced that the arbitration refused to reduce the price. UAWire - Poland claims its dependence on Russian gas decreasing

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    Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


    • Suing Russia: New twists and turns in legal battle
      UNIAN Nana Chornaya 11:40, 05 August 2018

      Ukraine authorities plan to create an interdepartmental body to consolidate claims against Russia for compensation of damage over the Kremlin's aggression in Donbas and Crimea annexation. Experts consider the move to be timely, although warning that hearings in international courts will be lengthy, while Russia will not pay off its debts voluntarily, so Ukraine needs to be strategically prepared for foreclosures.

      In Ukraine, an interdepartmental coordinating body is to be set up soon to shape up claims against Russia for compensation of damage inflicted through the aggression in Donbas and annexation of Crimea. President Poroshenko has made a corresponding request to the Cabinet of Ministers.

      "Every day, Russia's ongoing armed aggression causes new immeasurable human suffering on Ukrainian land, infrastructure is being ruined, enterprises and economic potential of Donbas and Crimea are being destroyed," Poroshenko wrote on Facebook on August 1. "Therefore, we must not hesitate for a moment, and prepare Ukraine's consolidated claim against Russia to compensate for the damage done."

      Why Ukraine needs a separate structure to control claims against Russia

      The creation of an interdepartmental body is envisaged by the "reintegration" law passed by the Verkhovna Rada on January 18, 2018, where Russia's actions in the occupied Ukrainian territories are recognized as illegal and in breach of international humanitarian law. Therefore, the responsibility for the moral and material damage caused to the State of Ukraine, individuals and legal entities, is laid on the Russian Federation.

      Experts consider the creation of the new agency as the right step to ensure Ukraine's quality action in court against Russia. However, this will not resolve the problem in general, while forcing the aggressor state to actually pay for the damage done will be a headache for Ukraine.

      According to Kostyantyn Likarchuk, a partner at the international law firm Kinstellar, an interdepartmental body is necessary, as today, the process of filing lawsuits against Russia is disorganized - several state agencies, in particular, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, and representatives of state corporations are all engaged in it.

      "Coordination would not be superfluous, especially given that the first decisions of international courts are emerging. It's about tens, hundreds of billions of dollars. The damage inflicted is huge. As far as I know, the preliminary stage of the litigations - the issue of jurisdiction - is already being completed. The main stage - the consideration of claims – will take at least 3 years. And Russia will pay everything if we consistently engage in recovery issues," the expert believes.

      Expert in international law Vitaly Vlasiuk shares his colleague's opinion, but at the same time, specifies a number of details: "The idea to create a single body is correct, indeed. If it consolidates all claims of Ukraine in international courts, the Hague Tribunal, and all lawyers dealing with them, then this is a big plus, really. But we need to understand that this step will not win our cases. For each of the lawsuits, there's their own jurisdiction and expertise. But in general, a single body that will handle these cases and bring together experts from the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, state companies that filed lawsuits against Russia, is a very sensible idea that will at least ensure quality coordination of all processes."

      According to him, litigations in international jurisdictions are very lengthy and one shouldn't expect the verdicts will be 100% pro-Ukraine.

      "Waiting for court rulings will take a long time. And these ruling won't be 100% pro-Ukrainian because no court will ever recognize the rightness of only one party. Exceptions are very rare. Even if one party is 100% right, it doesn't mean it will see 100% of its claims satisfied. It is for this reason that tactics and strategy are always carefully calculated. If the court says that Crimea is Ukrainian, it does not mean that Russia will return it. But this will put an end to international legal fluctuations. After all, today, a number of countries allow themselves claiming that they are not sure of Crimea belonging to Ukraine. After the court decision in our favor, no country and no politician will allow themselves such statements," Vlasiuk stressed.

      In his opinion, there most likely be no practical result in the form of voluntary payment by the Russian Federation of damages caused to Ukraine. Besides, Russia, by adopting a law on non-acceptance of decisions of foreign courts, does not recognize the fact of proceedings at the level of international judiciary. At the same time, Ukraine will still be able to get some part of the awarded reparation. And the very appeal to the court is a positive signal for the West, bearing huge risks for Russia.

      "They will be forced to pay damages in a number of lawsuits following the example of the Stockholm case of Naftogaz against Gazprom, where the latter didn't want to pay whatever the court told them to. But recovering losses in international public disputes related to Crimea and Donbas still raises big questions. Nevertheless, Ukraine's appeal to the courts is a correct step, a civilized one. The West supports us in all our endeavors connected with resolving the dispute with Russia in courts. And Western support is key for us. These are great advantages for our reputation, at the same time, great problems for the reputation of the Russian Federation. All our appeals with the courts are aimed at showing the Western world Ukraine's readiness to solve all problems in a civilized way and at the same time to be guided by the norms of international law. This is a huge positive signal for the West, including for investors," Vlasiuk said.

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      Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


      • New twists and turns Pt 2

        Professor of Political Science at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, research director at the Democratic Initiatives Foundation Oleksiy Haran shares the same opinion: "The creation of an interdepartmental body on Ukraine's claims to Russia is a necessary step to consolidate our legal action policy against the Russian Federation. Of course, Russia will be refusing to comply with court decisions, which is the aggressor's position. But when rulings of international courts have been handed down, then, one way or another, they will have to reckon with this. Moreover, any Russian property could be arrested abroad in pursuance of court decisions, as in the case of Naftogaz in the Stockholm Arbitration. Russia has already begun to maneuver in this situation, offering a peaceful agreement, new terms of contracts, or other options. In any case, litigation is an effective method of pressure on the Russian Federation."

        Senior lawyer at Evris law firm, Maksym Zamihovsky, has a somewhat different view. He believes that to assess the decision to create such a single body, there is too little information about its functions and authority at the moment.

        "Perhaps the establishment of an agency with its own staff, structure and budget is somewhat premature, since an interdepartmental consolidated group, where all information could flow from profile agencies, could also cope with the tasks set, given proper organization of work. Also, everything will depend on the tasks that will be put before the new agency. After all, in addition to collecting and analyzing huge amounts of factual data, it is necessary to perform economic evaluation of lost companies and sometimes entire industries, justify the amount of profits lost for the country's economy resulting from the loss of assets, while confirming their conclusions by convincing calculations. In addition, it would be great to use the existing international experience in resolving such disputes, and adjust the calculations with an eye to the approaches of international courts in assessing the evidence base," the expert said.

        At the same time, like his colleagues, he does not rule out that the consideration of claims in international courts will be a long and painstaking process. And the duration will depend on the tactics of both parties. He also agrees it will not be easy to collect reparations from Russia.

        "As the experience of YUKOS and other international processes with the participation of the Russian Federation shows, Russia simply denies the competence of the court to consider a dispute against a sovereign state. And the recovery directly from the state is the most difficult aspect of the whole dispute. The basic assets belong to separate legal entities - corporations, organizations, which are not responsible for the debts of the state, even if it is their founder. Therefore, following the decisions of international courts, there will be no less intense litigation about the possibility of collecting damages and the source of their repayment," Zamihovsky emphasized.

        What lawsuits will be covered by new agency Since 2014, Ukraine has filed many suits against the Russian Federation with various international courts.

        Five lawsuits have been filed with the European Court of Human Rights regarding Russia's violations of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the Occupied Ukrainian Territories.

        On June 26, 2018, the ECHR granted the official Kyiv's petition of October 2016 and merged four lawsuits into two proceedings - on Crimea and Donbas, and a separate case of the removal of children from Donbas to Russia.

        This step by the ECHR is a serious problem for Russian representatives, who will now find it much harder to seek the suspension of consideration of individual cases. Meanwhile, in March 2018, the Russian Federation said that they were studying the possibility of denouncing the European Convention on Human Rights and ending cooperation with the ECHR.

        The state-owned Naftogaz of Ukraine filed a lawsuit with the International Tribunal under the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague against Russia for seizing assets in the occupied Crimea: land and transport infrastructure, in particular, the peninsula's gas transmission system with the Hlibovsky underground gas storage, in which, at the moment of the annexation, there was 600 million cubic meters of gas; 90 offshore gas and oil wells; eight offshore fixed platforms; eight conductor blocks; 70 km-long offshore gas pipelines; 31 vessels, of which four are drilling platforms. The total amount of claims is about $8 billion. The court's decision is expected before the end of 2018. "As early as this year, we can win up to $8 billion. But then there will be another question of how we collect this money," said Naftogaz CCO Yuriy Vitrenko.

        In 2016, Ukraine also filed a lawsuit against Russia with the International Court of Justice regarding the Convention on the Law of the Sea. It accommodates such fundamental issues as the use of the sea, violation of environmental safety, and seizure of objects of cultural heritage. The amount of compensation to be paid by Russia will be determined by the International Tribunal of the United Nations. According to experts, it will be significant.

        In 2018 Ukraine filed a lawsuit against Russia with the International Court of Arbitration in The Hague on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in connection with the violation by the Russian Federation of Ukraine's sovereign rights in the Black and Azov Seas and the Kerch Strait. The amount of the claim has not been disclosed.

        The war between Ukraine and Russia is also ongoing at the economic front. Both sides filed suits with the World Trade Organization, which is designed to regulate disputes in international trade. In total, there are four Ukrainian-Russian cases in the WTO. In two of them, decisions have already been taken, and they were not in Ukraine's favor. Two more disputes remain pending. The amounts of claims have not been voiced.

        In 2014, Ukraine also sued the International Criminal Court (The Hague Tribunal) for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the east of Ukraine and in Crimea. According to the preliminary report of the Tribunal, the situation in Crimea and Sevastopol was recognized as equivalent to the international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. Russia replied that they would not contest the findings, since they did not recognize the ICC jurisdiction.

        In 2017, Ukraine filed a lawsuit against Russia with the International Court of Justice, accusing the Russian Federation of supporting terrorism in the east of Ukraine and discrimination against ethnic Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars in the occupied Crimea. The court found the evidence base imperfect, that is, did not recognize Russia's financing of terrorism in Donbas, but obliged the Russian Federation to ensure the right of Crimeans to receive education in the Ukrainian language, as well as the right of the Crimean Tatars to represent their interests in the Mejlis. However, Russia is not fulfilling the court ruling. Ukraine, for its part, has submitted new evidence to the court. There is no final decision of the Tribunal yet.

        As for the total amount of damage caused by Russia as a result of the annexation of Crimea and occupation of Donbas, the June study on the price of the Kremlin aggression in Ukraine in the material dimension by the Atlantic Council's Eurasia Center estimates it at $100 billion. The assessment was carried out according to the principle of the share of lost GDP being multiplied by four. According to Eurasia Center, Donbas was the source of 10% of Ukraine's GDP, Crimea – the source of 3.7%. The IMF estimated Ukraine's GDP in the pre-crisis year of 2013 at $179.6 billion. Thus, the total value of the assets of Crimea and Donbas amounted to 13.7% of this amount, multiplied by four, or $98.4 billion.

        Without taking into account the future size of the reparation to be paid, which Russia will undoubtedly obliged to do by international courts, the main thing is the condemnation of the aggressor's actions at the global level based on international law. This will entail the support of our country on a global scale and the complete isolation of the Russian Federation.

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        Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


        • "I don't understand you": Young Ukrainian chess player to Russian rival
          The Russian counterpart seemed to have been confused when he heard a response in English after addressing the Ukrainian boy in Russian.
          UNIAN 06 August 2018

          A young Ukrainian chess player Roman Kovalskyi's response to his Russian counterpart's address in Russian at the international tournament quickly went viral after being posted in a social network by his mother.

          "Roma [a diminutive of 'Roman'] was playing with a rival from Russia, who asked Roma [in Russian]: 'What's your rating?'

          Roma said, in English: 'I don't understand you," Kovalskyi's mother wrote on Facebook.

          Confused, the Russian player said, "What?!"

          A kid from Moldova sitting next to him explained to the Russian participant, referring to Kovalskyi that the Ukrainian player "does not understand Russian."

          "Why doesn't he? He is from Ukraine," the Russian said, expressing sincere belief of most Russians that Ukrainians must understand and speak Russian.

          After the game, which Roma has won, he told his mother: "Mom, I have dreamed for so long to troll Russians this way."

          "Who thinks that this is intolerant, I don't care," the young player's mother added.

          The posting has already been reposted over 3,000 times within 24 hours.

          "Respect for the young patriot! Way to go!" Ukrainian netizens wrote in comments.

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          Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


          • Kherson acid attack: Suspect's identity revealed
            A court session to choose a measure of restraint for the detainee was postponed as the defense lawyer failed to attend the hearing.
            UNIAN 14:20, 06 August 2018

            First photos of a suspect in the attempted murder of Kherson mayor's adviser and civic activist Kateryna Handziuk emerged in social networks as the perpetrator appeared before court Monday, August 6.

            A hearing is expected to continue later today, according to a Ukrainian blogger and legal expert Masi Nayyem, who wrote on Facebook that a free, government-provided lawyer will engage.

            The suspect, who goes by the name of Mykola Novikov, 39, is a Kherson resident, Nayyem wrote.

            As UNIAN reported earlier, on July 31, adviser of the Kerson Mayor, civic activist Kateryna Handziuk was assaulted just outside her house. The attacker poured sulphuric acid on the woman's face. The chemical substance eventually affected some 30% of Handziuk's body.

            Having suffered 2-3-degree burns, the woman was hospitalized in the intensive care unit of the Kherson Regional Clinical Hospital to be later transferred to a Kyiv clinic on a medical plane.

            Her condition was assessed by doctors as difficult. The police qualified the attack as murder attempt.

            The investigation was supervised by Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko who later decided to transfer the probe under control of the Security Service.

            The victim was provided state protection. UNIAN:

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            • Reservist training kicks off in Ukraine
              Foreign partners will share their experience in holding such events.
              UNIAN 12:00, 08 August 2018

              Military training of reservists has been launched in the Western territorial administration of the law enforcement military agency of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

              The training is being held with the participation and under supervision of representatives of the Armed Forces of Lithuania and Canada, according to the press service of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.

              According to Andriy Sichkar of the Army's law enforcement military agency, foreign partners will share their experience in holding such events. It should be noted training sessions for military reservists is part of a wider-scale effort aimed at preserving the cadre potential of the Ukrainian military.

              It is reported this year military law enforcers paid special attention to PR and promotion, not only among reservists, but also top management of companies employing reservists.

              "This is why all 100% of soldiers, sergeants and reserve officers attended. Each of them was provided with military uniforms of the right size and a fully-packed duffel bag. All required cash payments were made upon arrival," the ministry said. UNIAN:

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              • Ukraine seeks ways to curb Russia's creeping encroachment in Sea of Azov as tensions rise
                Ukraine is trying a raft of tactics to respond to Russia's maneuvering.
                UNIAN 11:00, 08 August 2018

                While Kyiv is negotiating with European and U.S. partners to punish Russia's Black Sea ports over Moscow's recent aggressive moves in the Sea of Azov, according to Omelyan, the country's infrastructure minister, it remains unclear how persuasive the authorities have been when so much of the West is grappling with its own problems.

                Activists are also trying their hand at attracting international help, RFE/RL reports.

                Halyna Odnoroh, a co-founder of the Mariupol Social Movement, a local non-governmental organization focused on issues related to the Sea of Azov, said activists had sent a letter to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Special Monitoring Mission (OSCE SMM) -- a group of international observers tracking the fighting on the battlefields of eastern Ukraine -- asking them to expand their mandate to the sea "to monitor and record violations."

                It is unclear whether the OSCE SMM is considering the proposal. The OSCE SMM did not respond to RFE/RL requests for comment.

                Ukraine is taking measured military actions along the Sea of Azov shore after President Petro Poroshenko warned on July 16 that Russia was building up forces and weapons in the Black and Azov seas. He said he did not exclude the possibility that the Kremlin might prepare for an all-out attack on Mariupol.

                The next day, Poroshenko ordered top military officers to take measures in connection with the ship detentions and inspections, including possibly providing escorts through the sea.

                In a show of force, the Ukrainian military conducted two-day helicopter shooting drills over the Sea of Azov in late July.

                "The Joint Forces are paying considerable attention to the defense of the Azov coast to prevent the landing of enemy amphibious assault troops," said Commander of the Joint Forces of Ukraine Serhiy Nayev. "All units that are involved in the defense of the sea coast shall conduct regular training to boost the readiness to repel an attack."

                But there seems to have been little done to boost defenses on the sea itself.

                Ukraine has no naval presence in the Azov, said Poliakov, the Ukrainian Sea Guard spokesman, who was tight-lipped about the number of boats available to protect the waters. The country lost as much as 80 percent of its naval fleet when Russia annexed Crimea and took Ukraine's ships with it.

                Oleh Slobodyan, the border guards' spokesman, said in July that Ukraine had as many as 70 boats patrolling in both the Black and Azov seas.

                "Our boats, of course, are inferior in their combat power to those boats of the Russian Federation," he added.

                Oleksiy Melnyk, the political and security analyst, said Ukraine is in an impossible position.

                "International law doesn't work there," he said. "Ukraine should apply to international courts. But it takes a long time, and, as we've seen already, it doesn't help much against Russia."

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                Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                • Not So United: Russia's Ruling Party Rattled By Pension-Reform Crisis
                  RADIO FREE EUROPE Yelizaveta Mayetnaya Robert Coalson August 05, 2018 11:52 GMT

                  Speaking to a riled-up crowd at a July 28 protest against the Russian government's deeply unpopular proposal to raise retirement ages in Vologda, angry pensioner Nikolai Zharavin didn't mince words as to who was to blame.

                  "We need not only to drive out the government headed by [Prime Minister Dmitry] Medvedev," he said, "we also need to drive United Russia out of the State Duma. Then we'll see decisions made for the benefit of the people, instead of for the 10 percent that is the oligarchs and their families and the security services, whose interests are represented by [President Vladimir] Putin."

                  He cited a life expectancy in Vologda Oblast of under 65, suggesting that "only a handful of men will live to receive pensions."

                  "What good is this reform?"

                  WATCH: Several thousand people gathered in central Moscow on July 29 on a second consecutive day of protest against the Russian government's plan to raise the retirement age.

                  Political Damage Done

                  The first major economic initiative of Putin's fourth term, pension reform has become a harsh test for the ruling United Russia party. And the ordinarily watertight discipline is already beginning to leak.

                  The party's position is further complicated by the Kremlin's seemingly conscious strategy of distancing Putin from the reform, placing all the public responsibility for the move on Medvedev's government and United Russia.

                  "This reform has become a big test for the ruling party, of course, particularly because it comes just before [the September 9 local elections]." Nikolai Mironov, head of the Center for Economic and Political Reform think tank, tells RFE/RL.

                  "Among rank-and-file United Russia members, there are quite a few who don't agree with it. But for now, the party remains united and we don't see splits. This isn't the first time the United Russia has passed unpopular laws. What's more, members don't really have other options. Leaving politics altogether is even worse than agreeing with the reform and the prospects of the opposition are very weak. You aren't going to make a career there."

                  To bolster an economy creaking under such burdens as the costs of annexing Ukraine's Crimea region and the ensuing international sanctions against Russia, a chronic dependence on energy exports, and massive populist expenditures such as the hosting of this summer's World Cup soccer championship and raising state-sector salaries as part of Putin's reelection campaign this spring, the government is shepherding through the Duma a bill that would gradually increase the retirement age for men from the current 60 to 65 by 2028 and for women from the current 55 to 63 by 2034.

                  A poll earlier this month by the Levada Center suggested that about 90 percent of Russians oppose the reform. And, as might be expected, this opposition has quickly translated into waning support for Medvedev, his government, and United Russia. A Levada poll released on July 31 found that support for Medvedev had fallen to 31 percent, down from 42 percent in April. Support for the United Russia-dominated Duma fell from 43 percent to 33 percent over the same period. Despite the Kremlin's strategy of distancing Putin from the project, the president's rating dipped to 67 percent, down from 79 percent in May.

                  The more Kremlin-friendly All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM) on July 31 published a poll that was taken just three days after United Russia Duma deputies voted virtually unanimously to pass the bill in its first reading that found the party's rating had fallen to 37.1 percent, its lowest rating since late 2011.

                  Even in the Duma, Russia's lower house, United Russia was unable to maintain complete unanimity. Deputy Natalya Poklonskaya voted against it, drawing the ire of party leadership. Deputy Sergei Zhelenyak failed to show up for the vote, after which he was forced to resign his post as deputy secretary of United Russia's general council.

                  Regional Fraying

                  In the regions, where United Russia rubs up directly against public discontent, party discipline is showing more wear. In the town of Nerl in Ivanovo Oblast, all 12 members of the city council, including six members of the United Russia party, signed an appeal expressing unqualified opposition to the pension-reform plan.

                  In the Urals city of Nizhny Tagil, party member Nikolai Tarakhov handed in his party card, saying in his resignation letter: "The party's program and the activity of its leadership are now directed against their own nation. I do not want to participate in manure and get soiled by it."

                  Aleksandr Kryuchenkov, the local party secretary in the Ivanovo Oblast town of Zavolzhsk, also resigned, calling the policy "anti-people."

                  "Aleksandr Kryuchenkov was a responsible and active party member," Vadim Provorov, a former United Russia member in nearby Kineshma who also resigned over the pension issue, tells RFE/RL, "but he couldn't stand it and left the party. Olga Matyushina, a very active person who was devoted to her hometown of Zavolzhsk and who did so much for her city.... And she also left the party for the same reason."

                  "We are only the first harbingers," Provorov predicts. "Just watch and you will see a mass departure from United Russia in the very near future. Every week, more will leave."

                  WATCH: What made tens of thousands of Russians join public protests against plans to raise the retirement age, in cities across the country on July 28-29?

                  Svetlana Gryunbaum, the top United Russia official in Kineshma, disagrees, saying that no one besides Provorov planned to quit, despite the public's disdain for the reform.

                  "They are calling us constantly, shouting at us, and accusing us of all possible sins," Gryunbaum tells RFE/RL. "'Why are we silent?' 'Why does the party accept this?'"

                  "I tell them to come in and write a complaint and we will send it to Moscow," she continues. "But for some reason, they don't come. What more can we do? I have no idea. Of course, we are all hoping that Putin won't sign it."

                  One United Russia activist in Kineshma who asked not to be identified and who remains in the party expressed serious reservations about the pension policy.

                  "My husband is 55, and for the last two weeks he has been in a deep depression," she tells RFE/RL. "He just sits there saying that while before he had a small chance of living to get a pension, now he definitely has none. And how are we supposed to survive for those additional years? There is no work in this town. Is he supposed to go to Moscow? They won't even hire him as a watchman there."

                  "What are we to do?" she muses about the fate of United Russia members. "We vote like they tell us to. We have solid party discipline. But inside, everything is boiling."

                  End Of Putin's Myth

                  The pension-reform crisis could become a defining milepost for Putin. A 2005 reform that eliminated in-kind social benefits such as free transportation similarly brought tens of thousands of protesters into the streets with calls for Putin's resignation. That opposition attracted the support of the Communist Party (which is playing a leading role in the current pension-reform protests), and many Kremlin loyalists -- including the mayor of Moscow, the governor of St. Petersburg, and the Russian Orthodox patriarch -- spoke out against the move.

                  The Kremlin's response at the time was a major crackdown on the protesters and the "provocateurs" who officials claimed were egging them on, as well as a pitiless tightening of discipline among regional officials and United Russia members.

                  "The pension reform has delivered a powerful blow to the regime," political analyst Abbas Gallyamov tells RFE/RL of the latest outcry. "It has become clear that Putin is not a miracle worker, that even for him some things don't work out. The myth of the great ruler that arose after the [annexation] of Crimea, of course, has not broken yet, but it is shaking. Criticism of the authorities has moved from the margins to the mainstream."

                  "And even backing away from the reform will not restore the previous status quo," he adds. "People might draw the conclusion that the authorities were frightened by the universal opposition and backed down. The people could develop a taste for protest if it becomes clear that by demonstrating their dissatisfaction, they can solve their problems."

                  The fact that active and enthusiastic United Russia members in the regions are leaving the party, Gallyamov says, is an indication that "the structure of the regime is beginning to crumble around the edges."

                  At an antireform protest in Pskov on July 28, protesters prepared banners with the slogans "Putin, if you have a conscience, resign!" and "United Russia is voting to rob pensioners!" Police immediately confiscated them before they could be unfurled, Pskov Oblast communist lawmaker Viktor Dulya told RFE/RL.

                  In Volgograd the same day, accountant Svetlana Tkacheva was among the protesters.

                  "The government's decision to raise the retirement age has made me angry," she says. "It will make things hard for us. We'd like to retire with a sound mind and a healthy body. We'd like to devote our retirement years to our grandchildren. The state is trying to save money at the expense of ordinary citizens and is spending our money on its own unjustifiable expenses."
                  Written by Robert Coalson based on reporting by Yelizaveta Mayetnaya of RFE/RL's Russian Service

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                  Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                  • U.S. Identifies Russians Detained On Fraud, Money-Laundering Allegations
                    RADIO FREE EUROPE August 07, 2018

                    The U.S. Department of Justice has made public the identities of four Russian citizens arrested by the FBI in New York on suspicion of money laundering and collusive fraud.

                    Department spokeswoman Nicole Navas Oxman told Russia's TASS news agency on August 6 that Russian nationals Kirill Dedusev, Aleksei Livadny, Nikolai Tupikin, and Stanislav Lisitsky had been arrested last week.

                    The citizenship of a fifth suspect arrested last week, Maksim Suverin, was not specified.

                    In a July 24 statement, the U.S. State Department listed Dedusev, Livadny, Tupikin, and Lisitsky among 25 people, mainly from former Soviet republics, who were charged with involvement in a multimillion-dollar wire-fraud and money-laundering scheme.

                    According to prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, the criminal group consisted of seven citizens of Russia, five citizens of Georgia, four citizens of Azerbaijan, three from Kazakhstan, two from Latvia, two Ukrainian nationals, and individuals with U.S. and Turkish citizenship.

                    Meanwhile, on August 7, Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman Aibek Smadyarov said that tree Kazakh nationals, all women whose identities were not revealed, had been detained in the same case.

                    The Russian Embassy in Washington said it was aware of the four Russians' arrest, and that it was following the development of the situation closely.

                    The July 24 indictments say the suspects placed false ads about selling cars, and after clients deposited down payments, they disappeared. According to the indictments, the suspects created a number of shell companies through which they ran their fraudulent activities, stealing some $4.5 million from the victims.

                    If convicted, the suspects face up to 30 years in prison for conspiracy to commit fraud and up to 20 years in prison for money laundering.

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                    • Russia's Rusal Says Sanctions Forcing Shutdown Of Plant Catering To U.S. Customers
                      RADIO FREE EUROPE August 07, 2018

                      Russian aluminum giant Rusal says U.S. sanctions are forcing it to shut down one of its smaller plants that catered to U.S. customers and find new jobs for hundreds of the plant's workers.

                      The company said on August 6 that operations at the Nadvoitsky aluminum smelter in Russia's Karelia region cannot continue because the plant stands to lose U.S. customers under the sanctions as well as a steady supply of raw materials.

                      Rusal is the second largest aluminum company in the world and a major employer of an estimated 61,000 Russian miners and manufacturing workers.

                      Under the sanctions, which were imposed on April 6 and designed to punish Moscow for alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, U.S. customers are required to wind down business with Rusal by October 23.

                      Production at the Nadvoitsky plant was completely oriented toward the U.S. market, Rusal said, and it has had to stockpile all the aluminum products it has produced at the plant since April, generating what it said were "significant losses."

                      "Rusal was forced in August to begin closing down electrolysis pots at Nadvoitsky," Rusal told Reuters.

                      State figures show the plant has a workforce of 343 people and is the primary source of employment in the town of Nadvoitsy, which lies 485 kilometers north of St. Petersburg.

                      "Employees of the plant will not suffer" from the shutdown, Rusal maintained, as workers will either be offered jobs at a different company, be assisted with finding work in other parts of the country, or be provided with payouts agreed by both sides.

                      "The company...will provide each person with the opportunity to remain employed, primarily as part of the project to reprofile Nadvoitsky and create profitable businesses using the plant's infrastructure," Rusal said.

                      Rusal was one os several companies in Russian aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska's empire that was targeted with sanctions because of the billionaire's ties to the Kremlin.

                      U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, after announcing the sanctions, offered to waive them for Rusal if it severed its ties to Deripaska, saying the billionaire was the main target of the sanctions and it was not Washington's intent to cause the layoff of hundreds or thousands of Russian aluminum workers.

                      Rusal and other Deripaska companies took up the Treasury's offer and applied for exemptions, with Deripaska announcing that he would relinquish control of Rusal and resign from the boards of its parent company, En+.

                      However, despite several extensions of time granted by the Treasury, none of the measures the companies said they would take to distance themselves from Deripaska has as yet been carried out, and no waivers have been granted.

                      The New York Times reported that the company had hired a high-powered Washington lobbying firm to try to negotiate an easing of Treasury's terms for getting a sanctions waiver.

                      Meanwhile, in a report to Wall Street investors on August 6, a Rusal representative said the sanctions had had a "tangible impact on the company's export activities, logistics, and operations in the financial market," and "the uncertainty generated by the U.S. sanctions remains a major risk for Rusal."
                      With reporting by Reuters, The New York Times, and TASS

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                      • U.S. Mulling Sanctions On Russian Tycoon Yevtushenkov
                        RADIO FREE EUROPE August 08, 2018 04:59 GMT

                        The U.S. State Department is considering whether to impose sanctions on Russian oligarch Vladimir Yevtushenkov amid charges that his company Sistema built projects in Crimea since it was illegally annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014, a U.S. lawmaker has said.

                        Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said on Twitter late on August 7 that the department sent her a letter confirming its investigation in response to a letter she and another lawmaker sent in June asking the department to consider "punitive measures" against the tycoon.

                        The letter cited Russian President Vladimir Putin's statement in October 2016 that Yevtushenkov's holding company, AFK Sistema, would build medical facilities in Crimea.

                        "Let them check," Yevtushenkov was quoted by Russian news outlet RNS as saying in response to the U.S. lawmakers' letter.

                        AFK Sistema controls Russia's largest mobile phone operator, MTS, which is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The lawmakers' letter also cited a U.S. corruption probe involving MTS activities in Uzbekistan.

                        The company has denied investing in projects in Crimea.

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                        • Authoritarian modernization ever less possible for Russia and others, Klyamkin says
                          EUROMAIDAN PRESS 2018/08/06 - 12:03

                          In the course of his current debate with economist Andrey Illarionov, social commentator Igor Klyamkin makes an important point that is all too often overlooked in Russia and elsewhere: authoritarian modernization is an increasingly problematic notion in the post-industrial world.

                          Many countries in the 20th century sought to use authoritarian methods in order to catch up with the industrial development of the most advanced states, but now in the post-industrial era, such methods don’t work nearly as well.

                          To put it bluntly, dictators can build (or rebuild) factories but they can’t achieve breakthroughs in information technology by the same methods.

                          And what this means in turn is that those countries which try to rely on authoritarian methods alone are likely doomed to fall even further behind those which have more open systems and allow for greater creativity – perhaps one of the reasons that authoritarians in many countries confuse re-industrialization with development.

                          The former is easier for them to talk about and of course control, but it is of declining importance in terms of the breakthroughs that are required to make genuine development possible.

                          The authoritarians can build models of Silicon Valley as Moscow has tried to do; but their creations won’t be able to create what those in other democratic countries do.

                          Instead, they are likely to repeat the inherently self-contradictory outcome that was captured brilliantly in an old Soviet anecdote about scientists supposedly marching through Red Square on May Day with a sign reading “the Soviet microchip, the largest microchip in the world.” Authoritarian modernization ever less possible for Russia and others, Klyamkin saysEuromaidan Press |

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                          • Boeing-Antonov contract could revive Ukraine’s air industry
                            EUROMAIDAN PRESS Olena Makarenko 2018/08/06

                            A subsidiary of the Boeing top aerospace company signed an agreement on cooperation with the once glorious Ukrainian Antonov Enterprise.

                            Antonov and Aviall Services Inc. signed the deal at the Farnborough International Airshow in the United Kingdom. According to it, Aviall will supply the materials to create components for new Antonov planes and in the future will service its planes across the world.

                            This cooperation gives hope for the Ukrainian enterprise to finally get out the deep crisis caused by the cessation of cooperation with Russia and a number of inner aspects.

                            The Ukrainian side stated that the deal will provide a reliable partner for Antonov and the important integrating link for purchasing components in terms of the program of import substitution. The program became necessary after once close trade ties between Ukraine and Russia were severed following Russia’s occupation of Crimea and aggression in Eastern Ukraine. So let’s take a look at how Antonov got to a crisis, why the cooperation with the Boeing subsidiary can help it get out of it. But first, why Antonov is great.
                            What made Antonov great?

                            During Soviet times, air manufacturing was one of the most high-tech fields in Ukraine, together with rocket production. The latter was mostly related to the defense area, while aircraft engineering was the leading high-tech field in both the defence and civil industry.

                            The aircraft manufacturing and services company Antonov was established in 1946 in Novosibirsk (then a Soviet and now a Russian city) and a few years later was transferred to Kyiv. It is named after the Soviet constructor Oleg Antonov.

                            It was him who created 52 types of sailplanes and 22 types of planes. Among them the largest and the most load-lifting – Antey and Ruslan. His first popular invention was An-2. At first it was used mostly in agriculture and then became a multifunctional model. Its mass production started in 1949.

                            One of the very first An-2’s. Photo: Wikimedia commons

                            Thousands of An planes were exploited across the world. They turned to be so functional that many of them still fly.

                            Up till the 90s, Ukraine constructed hundreds of An planes a year.

                            Now, Antonov is world known for its aircraft An-225 or Mria (meaning “Dream” in Ukrainian) – the largest and most powerful transportational plane in the world. Its development started in 1985 and lasted three and a half years. Its head constructor was Viktor Tolmachev. Mriya set a number of world records – for transferring the maximum amount of cargo, for load capacity, for transferring the longest monocargo in the world, for transferring the hardest monocargo in the world. In total, it set about 240 records and made it to the Guinness Book of Records.

                            However, so far only one Mriya aircraft exists in the world. And there are not enough resources for finalizing the construction of a second one.

                            Unfortunately, in recent years Mriya remains the only thing Antonov can be proud of.

                            Nowadays the company earns money not from development and construction, but from transportation.

                            What are the problems with Antonov?

                            The problems of the air branch in Ukraine started long before the beginning of the de-facto war in Ukraine initiated by the Russian Federation in 2014. After the Soviet Union collapsed, Ukraine’s leaders did not pay proper attention to the high-tech industry. So it started to decline.

                            Anatoliy Vovnianko, ex-chief designer of Antonov, describes the reasons for the troubles in his article called “How Antonov State Enterprise is dying.” According to the engineer, the major problems started in 2005, when Antonov’s general designer Petro Balabujev resigned because of disagreeing with the government plan of reforming the industry.

                            Since that time the development of new aircrafts in the Antonov enterprise stopped. In 2015, even one-off production stopped.

                            “Since 2014, there were no contracts for the An-148, An-158, An-74, An-140 created a long time ago as well as for the ‘new’ An-178 and An-132,” wrote Vovnianko in his article in the beginning of 2018.

                            During 2015-2017, Antonov switched 3 chief managers. Vovnianko stresses that neither of them had any relation to aircraft construction. Their main task was to manage the financial flows coming through the enterprise:

                            “During the presidency of Mykhailo Hvozdev [he became acting president of the enterprise in 2015 – Ed], aircraft construction stopped in Ukraine altogether. However, the amount of signed memorandums, negotiations on negotiations, PR campaigns in Ukrainian media significantly increased,” writes the engineer.

                            The managers of Antonov mostly used old aircrafts for their PR campaigns.

                            The events which were presented as great achievements could hardly be called so. For example, in 2017 Antonov announced the launch of a project on constructing a series of An-132 aircrafts in Saudi Arabia. For this, a factory should have been built in the country.

                            However, now the project is under question and has been demoted to the “potential” category. In terms of it, Antonov presented a pilot sample of a plane. According to Oleksandr Donets, the new Antonov chief who entered the office in May 2018, the Saudi side has only ordered a full technical and economic justification of building the factory for constructing the planes.

                            The war with Russia created additional trouble for the enterprise.

                            The dependence on Russia

                            During 2005-2014, Antonov lost all the markets except Russia due to bad management.

                            “Even the orders for An-148 and An-158 produced in Ukraine for Cuba and North Korea were provided by the Russian company IFK,” says Vovnianko.

                            The enterprise’s dependence on Russia was also significant because over half of the components for the aircrafts were coming from there. And before the war in Donbas started, the Ukrainian side did nothing to change this dangerous situation.

                            In 2014, Antonov’s collaboration with Russia in aircraft construction became impossible, which only worsened the situation for the enterprise.

                            In 2015, the Ukrainian government decided to pass the branch from the Ministry of Economic Development to Ukroboronprom, the union of multiprofile enterprises of the defence branch. So far it has not brought results, as the state defense sector does not have enough money to order aircrafts.

                            What does the contract with the Boeing subsidiary solve

                            The collaboration with Aviall can break Antonov’s vicious cycle.

                            Deutsche Welle relates Boeing’s interest in collaboration with Ukrainian Antonov to the global trends of the air branch: the air transportation market is booming. In its turn, this creates the demand for passenger and transport aircrafts:

                            “The growth is so high that even such leading plane manufacturers as Boeing and Airbus, despite the scale, of their production, can’t implement contracts and provide planes of some classes to their clients in time,” writes the media referring to the research of analysts of the international consulting company AlixPartners.

                            Because of the above mentioned reasons, Ukraine has fallen out of the global trends. But it can join back in.

                            As explained by president Donets, collaboration with Aviall helps Antonov to solve its problems because:

                            The enterprise will have a steady reserve of titanium and aluminum.
                            Antonov representatives hope that Aviall’s supplies will totally meet their need in components, including radio communication ones. Before, the components were supplied by Russia.
                            Last, but not least, Boeing will help the Ukrainian enterprise in the service and after-sales support for airplanes of the An family from mutual production. If a component received from Aviall fails, the American company will deliver it to any corner of the Earth where the company’s plane will be placed. So far the absence of maintenance centers was one of the main problems of the Ukrainian enterprise and the main fear of Antonov’s potential clients.

                            Antonov representatives say that the collaboration with the American company will help them actively provide the market with the model line of An-158 and An-158 passenger aircrafts, as well as the An-178 transport carrier.

                            The boom in the air transport market gives a chance for the development of Ukrainian air branch as well.

                            Another positive factor for Antonov is that finally it got a manager who has experience in the air branch. Oleksandr Kryvokon, the predecessor of current president Oleksandr Donets, left the enterprise with a scandal – the collective of Antonov expressed its mistrust to the ex-acting president, stating that it doesn’t see any future of the company under his management.

                            Donets, who entered his office in May 2018, has worked in the field since the late 1980s. He maintained engines and managed the test crew of the An-70 military transport aircraft. Later he headed the aviation factory Aviant, state aviation factory Ukrayina, the company Ukraerorukh and returned to Antonov in 2016 to the position of the vice-president of production.

                            Nevertheless, his competence as well as the government’s strategy for the revival of the industry until 2022 is yet to be seen.
                            Boeing-Antonov contract could revive Ukraine's air industry |Euromaidan Press |

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                            • ‘This isn’t corruption, Sir; this is kleptocracy’ – why Moscow is so angry at Yerevan
                              EUROMAIDAN PRESS 2018/08/07 - 13:46

                              In 1789, the Duke of Liancourt told Louis XVI that what the French king faced was “not a mutiny, Sire, but a revolution.” So too today, Armenian leader Nikol Pashinyan is moving against not corruption in the Western sense but against kleptocracy in which corruption is not a partial evil but the essence of the system.

                              And that distinction, one that is all too often “lost in translation,” Yerevan commentator Tigran Khzmalyan says, is the main reason behind Vladimir Putin’s anger about what is going on in Armenia today: It is not an attack on this or that corrupt figure but on the system on which the Kremlin leader operates.

                              As such, what Pashinyan is doing is for Putin even more of a threat than the declarations of leaders of other post-Soviet states that they want to reorient themselves away from Moscow toward the West because it is that and an attack on the kleptocratic principle that Putin has enshrined as the basis of his rule.

                              “Corruption in the Western understanding is unacceptable and dangerous thing but only PART of the socio-political system,” Khzmalyan points out. It can be more or less widespread depending on circumstances; but it is never the defining feature of the system. Instead, it is viewed as a danger to it.

                              But “in totalitarian societies of the Asian type,” societies like those in Putin’s Russia and its satellites, “everything is different. Corruption there is so different that even to call it by the same word is an enormous and fatal mistake, a mistake which leads to the substitution of concepts” and makes clarification of the truth impossible.

                              Indeed, “in Russia and its satellites, there is no corruption. More precisely, there is no corruption there in the Western understanding of the word, as a separate phenomenon reflecting the group interests of one part of society set in opposition to the state as a whole,” Khzmalyan says. Instead, “corruption” is the essence of these states.

                              Because that is the case, the Armenian analyst continues, Russian Duma deputies like Mizulina, Markov and Yarovaya are “absolutely right when they openly and sincerely declare that the struggle with corruption is an attack on the sovereignty of Russia.”

                              “In Russia and in a large portion of its former possessions, corruption is the main state-forming principle, the basic method of the existence, preservation and transfer of power. Thus, the word ‘corruption’ absolutely loses its original meaning and must be replaced by another non-Latin but Greek term – kleptocracy, the rule of thieves.”

                              Under their rule, “corruption is practically non-existent because the essence of these systems is corruption. More precisely, in such systems, there is nothing except corruption.”

                              “That is why any real struggle with corruption immediately is transformed into a struggle for power in the state and into a struggle for the very existence of the state,” Khzmalyan says. That is what Mikael Saakashvili did in Georgia: “he struggled not with corruption but with kleptocracy” – he almost succeeded and was attacked by Russia for that.

                              Pashinyan is now trying to do the same thing in Armenia, the analyst continues. “The arrest of Robert Kocharyan, the second president of the republic, is only formally connected with his criminal secret order 0038 of February 23, 2008 to direct the army against the people in violation of the constitution.”

                              Instead, the case against him is far larger because Kocharyan “was defending not just his own power but the very existence of the kleptocratic system which he created over the course of the ten years he was in office” and which was the basis of his ties with Putin in Moscow. All this will come out at his trial – and that is why the Kremlin is so angry.

                              “The nervous reaction of Moscow to the arrests in Yerevan is understandable. ‘This isn’t Georgia, this isn’t Ukraine, this is Armenia,’ Pashinyan said at the end of April. ‘This isn’t a Maidan, this isn’t Saakashvili, this is ours,’ his words were translated for Putin in the Kremlin.”

                              And that makes what the Armenian leader is doing even more disturbing for the Russian leader.

                              Pashinyan, Khzmalyan argues, is not declaring that he is trying to take Armenia to the West: he is simply working to “destroy Asia in Armenia,” and that makes him doubly dangerous because “the struggle with corruption in this part of the world can only be a struggle with the kleptocracy. Everything else is simply tilting at windmills.” ‘This isn’t corruption, Sir; this is kleptocracy’ – why Moscow is so angry at YerevanEuromaidan Press |

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                              • Stop building the nation, start modernizing it – Ukrainian history Prof. Hrytsak
                                EUROMAIDAN PRESS interview by Alya Shandra 2018/08/07 - 20:36

                                Prof. Yaroslav Hrytsak in the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv. Photo: Alya Shandra

                                Prof. Yaroslav Hrytsak, a popular Ukrainian historian and writer, has been conjuring strategies for Ukraine’s future development long before Euromaidan. In his book “The 26th percent, or how to defeat history,” the current professor of the Ukrainian Catholic University discusses the necessary preconditions for Ukraine to “defeat history” and make a civilization leap which will place the country on another trajectory of historical development. In 2015, when the book was published, Prof. Hrytsak believed that those pre-conditions were created following the Euromaidan revolution and that Ukrainians received a new historical chance. Euromaidan Press caught up with the historian’s current views on Ukraine, Euromaidan, nationalism, populism, Ukrainian Jews, and what it will take to modernize the country during the summer school “The social thought of Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytskyi” which was held in the Ukrainian Catholic University of Lviv in June 2018.

                                Four years after the Euromaidan Revolution, many people are wondering what it changed, and what it brought Ukraine. What is your opinion?

                                I look at it from another point of view. It wasn’t Euromaidan that changed something – it was Euromaidan itself that was a result of certain changes. These changes started in the 2000s. At that time, Ukraine went from being an industrial country to a post-industrial one. This changed the rules of the game. New social groups and sectors which did not exist before emerged, particularly – the new middle class, with a strong horizontal civic ethos. Its core is made by people with higher education, mostly they are young, between 18 and 35, and live in large cities, like Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, Odesa, there were many of them even in Donetsk. I’ll call them “Agents Of Change.” To a large extent, the Euromaidan was their revolution.

                                They are the ones that wanted changes the most, but so far they haven’t been able to realise themselves. “So far” is the key word here. So this group hasn’t changed the country as it wanted – although I don’t know if it’s possible to change it so much, it’s well known that revolutions raise expectations that can not be met. But this very important group continues to act and doesn’t give up.

                                Lots of hopes have been placed on the new political class – the new faces of Euromaidan which got into parliament. Why aren’t they forming a new political party?

                                Actually, there wasn’t an entrance of new faces. These new faces dissolved in the old parties.

                                COMPLETE READ: Stop building the nation, start modernizing it - Ukrainian history Prof. Hrytsak |Euromaidan Press |

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