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  • Ministry names number of IDPs from Donbas, Crimea
    The report did not show how many of the internally displaced persons were registered with the social protection offices and how much state assistance they had received.
    UNIAN: 23:40, 02 January 2019

    The Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine has released the number of internally displaced persons who resettled from Donbas and Crimea from the start of Russian aggression.

    As of January 2, their number was 1,512,435 people, the ministry's press service reported.

    According to the report, such data on IDPs from the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea were provided by social protection offices across Ukraine.

    The ministry did not indicate how many of the internally displaced persons were registered with the social protection offices and how much state assistance they had received.

    As UNIAN reported earlier, after the annexation of Crimea by Russia in March 2014 and the beginning of the Anti-Terrorist operation in Donbas in April of the same year, a flow of IDPs was observed coming from Crimea and certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
    UNIAN: https://www.unian.info/society/10397...as-crimea.html

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    • Prison Guards In Russia Suffer From 'Moral Fatigue,' Official Says
      RFE/RL January 07, 2019 10:25 GMT

      https://flashvideo.rferl.org/Videoro...a_manifest.mpd
      WATCH: Life Inside Moscow's Notorious Butyrka Prison

      Amid a continuing debate about the dire conditions in Russian prisons and repeated cases of torture there, a top official from Russia's Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) says its workers are suffering from "moral fatigue" as a result of low wages and daily contacts with inmates who sometimes attack the guards.

      Valery Maksimenko told the Interfax news agency on January 7 that more than 3,000 psychologists work in the FSIN, of whom some 350 provide prison guards and other FSIN workers with necessary professional assistance.

      Maksimenko also stated that inmate attacks on prison guards is on the rise because FSIN workers hesitate to use force against inmates.

      "Because after using [force against inmates], the guards must for half a year, or even for a year, answer questions by investigators, prosecutors, courts...to prove that they were right, as they may face even criminal charges," Maksimenko said.

      A day earlier, Maksimenko told Interfax that the FSIN is not a legacy of the notorious Soviet-era gulag system and called such comparisons "incorrect."

      "Gulag meant mass violations of human rights, mass repressions, illegal verdicts, executions, torture, forced confessions, and that cannot be said about today's situation," Maksimenko said. "If some prison guards beat inmates, that doesn't mean it is the legacy of the gulag. It means that such guards have no brains...no desire to work, no patience."

      Maksimenko added that the FSIN is doing everything to get rid of such employees.

      Earlier in November, Maksimenko told Ekho Moskvy radio that Russia needs more prisons to hold police officers, prison guards, and other law enforcement agents who have been convicted of crimes.

      In Russia and some other former Soviet republics, former law enforcement officers serve prison terms in penitentiaries separate from common ones.

      Abuse by police, prison guards, and other law enforcement officers has long been a problem in Russia.

      The topic has come to the attention of the Russian public and the media in recent months after a video showing at least 17 guards beating an inmate at a prison in the city of Yaroslavl became public in July.

      Fifteen guards from that prison were arrested following a public outcry. Probes were launched against several prison guards suspected of torturing or killing inmates in Russia's other regions.
      https://www.rferl.org/a/prison-guard...ys/29695438.ht

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      • U.S. Warship Arrives At Romanian Port Amid Black Sea Tensions
        RFE/RL January 08, 2019 04:42 GMT

        A U.S. naval warship has arrived at a Romanian port, a show of force by the United States in the Black Sea, which Russia is closely watching.

        The USS Fort McHenry is the first U.S. ship to enter the Black Sea since a naval standoff between Russian and Ukrainian forces near the annexed Crimea Peninsula in November.

        Romanian and U.S. officials say the dock-landing ship arrived at the port of Constanta on January 7 and will remain there until January 10.

        It will then hold joint sea maneuvers with a Romanian frigate in territorial and international waters.

        It wasn't immediately clear how many U.S. military personnel were involved.

        A U.S. Navy spokesperson told the TASS news agency that the warship was in the Black Sea in accordance with the international Montreux Convention, which governs naval access to this body of water.

        The trip comes about six weeks after Russia seized three Ukrainian Navy vessels and their crews near the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

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        • Turkish rescue teams say they have recovered the bodies of three Ukrainians who were killed when a cargo ship sank off Turkey's Black Sea coast.

          Ukraine's ambassador to Turkey, Andriy Sybiha, wrote on Twitter on January 8 that the bodies of two Ukrainian citizens would be identified in the presence of an envoy from the Ukrainian Consulate in Turkey.

          Earlier on January 8, Sybiha said on Twitter that the body of another Ukrainian citizen who died in the incident had been recovered by the rescue teams.

          On January 7, Sybiha said four Ukrainian sailors were killed when the Panama-flagged vessel sank with 11 Ukrainians on board off the coast of the Turkish province of Samsun.

          Samsun Governor Osman Kaymak said on January 7 that the crew of the Volga Balt 214 vessel included 11 Ukrainians, as well as two citizens of Azerbaijan.

          Kaymak said a total of six crewmen died and seven others had been rescued and taken to a hospital.

          There was no immediate information available about the nationalities of the other two crew members who died.

          With reporting by Hurriyet, AP, and Memurlar.net
          https://www.rferl.org/a/bodies-of-th.../29697654.html

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          • Ukraines immunization program works to regain high immunization coverage, stop measles outbreaks
            The Public Health Center in technical consultation with WHO initiated a renewal of country procedures on distribution and stock management, covering both vaccines and safe injection supplies.
            UNIAN: 09:50, 08 January 2019

            To improve access to immunization services and ensure no one is left behind, WHO continues to support Ukraine in its implementation of multiyear planning and budgeting for vaccines and supplies under routine immunization and supplementary immunization activities.

            Countrywide implementation of a 3-year planning methodology, endorsed by the Government of Ukraine in 2018, is key to ensuring proper targeting of children and adults eligible for vaccination. This is also key to providing an uninterrupted supply of safe and high-quality vaccines and injection materials to all levels, according to the World Health Organization.

            Along with revision of the distribution and stock management system, it will lead to improved immunization service delivery at every health facility in the country.

            The series of workshops reviewed challenges and provided recommendations on target group planning, as well as vaccine and supply forecasting for measles outbreak response and poliomyelitis (polio) supplementary immunization activities. The participants also revisited estimations of the number of targeted children under measles outbreak response immunization activities and adjusted coverage rates accordingly. Additionally, they renewed needs for polio catch-up vaccination.

            Participants also addressed distribution standards and stock management for vaccines and safe injection supplies. They learned how to establish minimum and maximum stock levels for each vaccine product in line with WHO recommendations on effective vaccine management. They calculated this for all vaccines included in the national immunization schedule and related injection supplies, based on 2019 plans.

            The Public Health Center in technical consultation with WHO initiated a renewal of country procedures on distribution and stock management, covering both vaccines and safe injection supplies.

            As the next priority area for capacity building within the immunization program, most participants suggested the monitoring of immunization coverage data and the implementation of corrective measures in the field under supportive supervision.UNIAN: https://www.unian.info/society/10401...outbreaks.html

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            • Three Poles on trial for attacking Hungarian center in Uzhgorod
              It was a Russia-staged provocation that was supposed to lead to the deterioration of Ukrainian-Hungarian relations.
              UNIAN: 10:40, 08 January 2019

              The Mazovian Department of the National Prosecutors Office of Poland brought the case file to court against three Polish citizens, who on Feb. 4, 2018, carried out an arson attack on Uzhgorod (Ukraine) headquarters of Zakarpattia Society of Hungarian Culture.

              The Polish news agency TVP.info has reported three Polish citizens are charged with terrorism. The investigation concluding that the perpetrators received 1,000 zlotys ($267) from an unnamed German journalist who most likely acted on instructions from Russias intelligence services, according to Kyiv Post.

              It was a provocation that was supposed to lead to the deterioration of Ukrainian-Hungarian relations. It was in the hands of Russia, which is interested in destabilizing its western neighbor, where there is already a hybrid war in Donbas, said a Polish security operative who investigated the case.

              UNIAN memo. Relations between Ukraine and Hungary deteriorated after the Verkhovna Rada adopted a new law on education in 2017. Hungary has been blocking Ukraine-NATO Commission meetings, alleging that the language provision of the law on education, which stipulates that the national language is the language of the educational process in educational institutions violate the rights of Hungarians living in Ukraine.

              The Hungarian Foreign Minister demanded that Ukraine amend the law on education and postpone its implementation until 2023, otherwise Budapest will block important meetings for Ukraine at the level of the European Union and NATO. UNIAN: https://www.unian.info/politics/1040...-uzhgorod.html


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              • Special counsel Mueller examining Ukrainians who attended Trump inaugural in 2017
                There were at least a dozen Ukrainian political and business figures who made their way to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration, several of whom attended the Liberty Ball.
                UNIAN: 09:00, 11 January 2019

                United States Special Counsel Robert Mueller is currently examining Ukrainians who attended U.S. President Donald Trump's inauguration in January 2017, as part of his Russia probe.

                "Evidence of the Ukrainians' presence eventually prompted interest from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, as he investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election, and has spawned a number of related inquiries by federal prosecutors," The New York Times said in its article titled "Prosecutors Examining Ukrainians Who Flocked to Trump Inaugural," which was published on January 10. "The investigations are playing out against growing indications that some of the Ukrainians who came to Washington for the inaugural, or their allies, were promoting grand bargains, or 'peace' plans, that aligned with Russia's interests, including by lifting sanctions."

                Such a deal would not just have given the new administration additional flexibility to bring Moscow into American diplomatic efforts in the Middle East, but could also have eased the way for a cast of characters with ties to Mr. Trump some of whom in turn had ties to the Ukrainians who came to Washington to move ahead on business deals that had been complicated by the sanctions.
                According to The New York Times, there were at least a dozen Ukrainian political and business figures who made their way to Washington for the inauguration, several of whom attended the Liberty Ball. "Most had more on their dance cards than just parties," it said.

                They attended meetings and orchestrated encounters at Trump International Hotel with influential Republican members of Congress and close allies of President Trump. Representing a range of views, including a contingent seen as sympathetic to Moscow, they positioned themselves as brokers who could help solve one of the thorniest foreign policy problems facing the new administration the ugly military stalemate between Russia and Ukraine and the tough sanctions imposed on Moscow following its seizure of Crimea.

                Federal prosecutors have asked witnesses about how some of the Ukrainians gained access to inauguration events, whom they met with while they were in the United States, and what they discussed including questions about various peace plan proposals according to people with direct knowledge of the questions and others who were briefed on the interviews.

                As recently as last month, prosecutors were asking witnesses about illegal foreign lobbying related to Ukraine. Another subject of questions has been whether foreigners from Ukraine and other countries used straw donors to disguise donations to the inaugural committee. Federal law prohibits foreigners from contributing to an inaugural committee, although they can attend events if Americans buy the tickets.

                Elements of the investigations have gotten new visibility in recent weeks.

                Lawyers for Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who was paid tens of millions of dollars over the last dozen years by Russia-aligned Ukrainian interests, inadvertently revealed on Tuesday that he had communicated about a Ukraine-Russia peace plan with a business associate believed to have ties to Russian intelligence.

                The associate, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, is a Russian citizen who has been charged by Mr. Mueller with obstruction of justice for trying to shape the testimony of witnesses to the events that led to charges of illegal foreign lobbying against Mr. Manafort.

                Mr. Kilimnik was said in the inadvertently disclosed portions of the court filing to have received political polling data from Mr. Manafort in 2016. Mr. Manafort relayed a request to have Mr. Kilimnik pass the polling data to two Ukrainian oligarchs who had arranged or provided financing for Russia-aligned Ukrainian political parties for which Mr. Manafort had worked. One of the oligarchs, Serhiy Lyovochkin, attended the Liberty Ball, according to one person familiar with the guest list and another who saw him there.

                Last month, prosecutors made a move that was seen as signaling the continuing cooperation of Sam Patten, an American consultant who had worked with Mr. Kilimnik and Russia-aligned Ukrainians looking to build ties to the Trump administration.

                Mr. Patten had pleaded guilty in late August to charges including funneling $50,000 in money from an unnamed foreigner who matched the description of Mr. Lyovochkin but was described in court papers only as "a prominent Ukraine oligarch" to buy tickets to exclusive Trump inauguration events for the oligarch, Mr. Kilimnik and someone described only as "another Ukrainian."

                Other Ukrainians who came to Washington during the inauguration said prosecutors had been asking wide-ranging questions.

                "I have been interrogated twice by the F.B.I. and Mr. Mueller," said Andrii V. Artemenko, who came to the inauguration as a Ukrainian member of Parliament bearing a peace proposal that was later criticized as pro-Russian.

                Mr. Artemenko said he had testified before Mr. Mueller's grand jury last summer and had answered questions from the Mueller team "about what is my purpose of this trip, how I can get there, and what I did, how I got invitations and tickets and stuff."

                Serhiy Kivalov, a Ukrainian lawmaker known for pro-Russian initiatives, also attended the inaugural: he took photos as President Trump danced with his wife, Melania, during inaugural festivities in January 2017. He also took photos of his coveted tickets and passes to the soiree where it took place, the Liberty Ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, posting them on Facebook and declaring that "it was an honor" to attend. UNIAN: https://www.unian.info/world/1040493...l-in-2017.html

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                • Pavel Durov to liquidate Telegram Messenger LLP media Pavel Durov to liquidate Telegram Messenger LLP media
                  Experts suggest the move will not affect the ongoing blocking of the messenger in Russia.
                  UNIAN: 11:30, 11 January 2019

                  Pavel Durov liquidates the company Telegram Messenger LLP, that's according to the data put in the British State Register of Legal Entities.

                  According to the text of the statement reportedly signed by Durov, on December 19, 2018, he appealed for excluding the company from the register, Hybridtechcar reported citing RBC.

                  According to lawyers interviewed by RBC, the liquidation of a legal entity will not affect the blocking of the messenger in Russia.

                  Founder of Legal and Financial Creative Solutions, Yuriy Borisovm noted that the blocking is not connected with a particular legal entity, but rather the Telegram's non-disclosure policy. In his opinion, the company does not intend to radically change the approach to providing user data to the authorities, so one should not expect the blocking will be lifted. He also suggested that the liquidation could be explained by the fact that in the spring, the UK would leave the European Union.

                  Telegram X for iOS and the classic Telegram application for Windows Phone are currently registered with Telegram LLP. The publisher of the Telegram app for iOS is Telegram LLC, and for Android it's Telegram FZ-LLC.

                  In April 2018, Telegram was officially banned in Russia after it refused to comply with the FSB demand to hand over encryption keys to sift through user correspondence.

                  To get around the block Telegram turned to a technique called domain fronting. The method essentially hosts a service on another company's systems and effectively hides the traffic's source, according to Wired. UNIAN: https://economics.unian.info/1040502...llp-media.html

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                  • New evidence ties murder of three Russian journalists in CAR to "Putin's chef" media
                    Witness accounts, call records, and other evidence point at the Russian trace in the elaborately orchestrated killings.
                    UNIAN: 11:05, 11 January 2019

                    Mikhail Khodorkovskys investigative project Dossier Center has reportedly completed a five-month study of the circumstances surrounding the murder of three Russian journalists in the Central African Republic, concluding that a local gendarme, who is likely to be involved in the triple homicide, remained in constant contact with their driver and with someone who works at one of Yevgeny Prigozhins companies.

                    As reported earlier, journalist Orkhan Dzhemal, documentary filmmaker Alexander Rastorguyev, and cameraman Kirill Radchenko were murdered in the Central African Republic on July 30, 2018, while collecting footage of mercenaries from the Russian private military company Wagner, Meduza recalls.

                    Witness accounts and call records obtained by the investigators show that the murder suspect, gendarme Emanuel Touaguende Kotofio, had been following his victims and remained in constant contact with the group's driver. Moreover, ahead of the ambush attack, the two men switched to new phone lines which suggests they plotted a special operation, as does the fact that the cell towers around the crime scene suddenly went offline, terminating the call records immediately before the killings.

                    Dossier Center also used phone records to tie Kotofio to multiple Russians working in the Central African Republic. Between July and August 2018, he made 98 calls to Alexander Sotov, who is believed to work for a business tied to Evgeny Prigozhin. In CAR, Sotov is officially employed as an instructor in surveillance, recruitment, and covert intelligence work for the company M-Finance, based on the companys internal documents. Dossier Center says this business is connected to Prigozhin through its former CEO, Evgeny Khodotov, who owned Lobaye Invest, which the French media says is a subsidiary that represents the interests of Prigozhins company M-Invest.

                    According to Dossier Centers investigation, Sotovs official supervisor is Valery Zakharov, a national security adviser to CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadra. The website Fontanka previously reported that Zakharov has cooperated with security services working for Prigozhin. Call records show that Sotov and Zakharov spoke more than 100 times between July and August last year. Dossier Center says Sotov also used a phony American passport (issued to someone named Barret Travis Hammond) to register his local cell phone.

                    In M-Finances payroll records, Sotovs personal identification number is listed in the same format that journalists have repeatedly attributed to mercenaries working with the Wagner private military company.

                    Dossier Center argues that the evidence leads back to Moscow, specifically to a man named Kirill Romanovsky, who works as a special correspondent for Prigozhins Federal News Agency. Shortly after the murders, Meduza learned that Romanovsky was the one who found the three journalists fixer in CAR: a man named Martin with supposed ties to the United Nations. It was Martin who recommended the driver who was apparently working with the local gendarmes.

                    UN officials say they were never in contact with the three killed journalists, and Dossier Center speculates that Martin is actually an alias. For example, his jeeps license plate was registered to Erika Mustermann (the German equivalent of Jane Doe). His role as a fixer is also in doubt, given that he spent all of July telling the three journalists that he was in Bambari organizing an expedition to film CARs gold mines, while phone records show that he was actually 235 miles southwest in Bangui. UNIAN: https://www.unian.info/world/1040499...hef-media.html

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                    • Moscow says Ukrainian sailors could be exchanged once sentences voiced, elections held Russian media
                      The Ukrainian foreign minister earlier warned Moscow would play the issue of sailors' release in the context of Ukraine's elections.
                      UNIAN: 10:40, 11 January 2019

                      In 2019, Russia could go for an exchange of Ukrainian sailors detained in the act of Russian aggression in the Black Sea for Russians for Russian national imprisoned in Ukraine.

                      Much depends on the Ukrainian side and to what extent Kyiv will be ready to reach concrete agreements, a Russian high-ranking diplomatic source told Izvestia.

                      Now its impossible to swap Ukrainian sailors. We must wait for the courts ruling, after which we can talk about the exchange, the Izvestia's interlocutor said.

                      For Kyiv, the return of captured sailors is one of the main foreign policy priorities. Before the presidential election, such exchange is unlikely to take place, according to the publication. Also, the newspaper says its sources in Ukrainian government and parliament circles echoed the idea that the exchange is likely to take place after the presidential elections.

                      State Duma CIS committee chief Leonid Kalashnikov assured that the swap process will begin only after the sentence is handed down to the Ukrainian sailors.

                      As UNIAN reported earlier, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said Russia would exploit the issue of the release of Ukrainian sailors and political prisoners captured by Moscow in the context of the upcoming Ukraine elections.

                      "In fact, it's perfectly clear to everyone that there will be a trial first. Russia will play that way. Russia will play in the context of elections. And all our friends and partners who talked with the Russian president and all his team say they have a very clear feeling that they [the Kremlin] will play in the context of elections," the minister said.

                      On November 25, Russia blocked the passage to the Kerch Strait for the Ukrainian tugboat "Yany Kapu" and two armored naval boats "Berdyansk" and "Nikopol," which were on a scheduled re-deployment from the Black Sea port of Odesa to the Azov Sea port of Mariupol.

                      The Ukraine Navy Command noted that the Russian side had been informed of the plans to re-deploy the vessels in advance in accordance with international standards to ensure the safety of navigation.

                      As the Ukrainian boats were heading back in the Odesa direction after being rejected passage via the Kerch Strait, Russian coast guards opened aimed fire on them.

                      All 24 crew members on board were captured and later remanded in custody for two months, being charged with "illegal border crossing" (the sailors are facing up to six years in prison). Three crewmen were wounded in the attack.

                      All detained sailors have declared themselves prisoners of war. UNIAN: https://www.unian.info/politics/1040...ian-media.html


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                      • Gas transit in exchange for dropping suits: Naftogaz official tells of Gazprom's blackmailing tactics
                        The Russian monopoly has accused Ukraine of breaking the balance in relations.
                        UNIAN: 10:15, 11 January 2019

                        Russia is demanding that the Ukrainian side give up on its win international arbitration regarding gas contracts with Gazprom in exchange for extending gas transit contracts, that's according to Naftogaz COO Yuriy Vitrenko.

                        In a Facebook posting, he recalled that the gas transit contract between Naftogaz and Gazprom would expire this year.

                        Trilateral negotiations (Ukraine-Russia-EU) at the political level will be held January 21. Gazprom has officially announced that the arbitration decision 'broke the balance in relations.' That is, the Ukrainian side needs to abandon its win in arbitration," wrote Vitrenko.

                        According to him, Russia wants Ukraines transit fee to equal only a relatively small discount from payments for Russian gas that Ukraine has to buy." That is, Ukraine should pay Russia for gas six times more than Ukraine gets for transit. Money should go from Ukraine to Russia, not vice versa. This is precisely the 'acceptable balance in relations for Russia, which they want to restore," the official explained.

                        He noted that a victory in an international court allowed Ukraine to save $77 billion for the period of 20122018.

                        Without winning the arbitration on the gas supply contract and the transit contract today, we would have to pay Gazprom more than $73 billion in take-or-pay obligations for 20122018 and about $4 billion for gas delivered in 2014-2015. We would have to buy gas from Gazprom at a price higher than that at which we buy gas from Europe," explained Vitrenko.

                        According to the official, the contracts terminated in international arbitration provided that Russia would annually receive for gas sold $12 billion more than it would pay for transit.

                        explained Vitrenko. According to the official, the contracts terminated in international arbitration provided that Russia would annually receive for gas sold $12 billion more than it would pay for transit. Earlier, Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolyev said that the company had sued Gazprom over a potential loss in the cost of the Ukrainian gas transmission system due to the construction of bypass pipes by Russia.

                        At the same time, he said that, if Gazprom signs a long-term gas transit contract with Ukraine in line with EU legislation, with payment guarantees, Naftogaz will give up on its claim regarding the previous gas transit contract. UNIAN: https://economics.unian.info/1040494...g-tactics.html

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                        • Why Russia once again picks up on the issue of the Kuril Islands
                          OPINION
                          UNIAN:09:50, 11 January 2019

                          Recently, the ex-leader of the "DPR" Igor Strikov (aka Girkin) spoke against the possible transfer to Japan of the group of the Southern Kuril Islands and announced his intention to set up mass protests in Moscow on January 19-20.

                          I don't believe that his words in this context have any independent significance, because his very figure as a factor of politics is nonsense and commenting on its statements is not worthwhile.

                          In fact, the problem in the context of Russian-Japanese relations is much wider. Since World War 2, Japan has been trying to return under its jurisdiction the four islands of the Kuril ridge: Ithurup, Kunashir, Shikotan, and Habomai, which the USSR grabbed back in the day. And because of this fact, a peace treaty between Japan and Russia was never signed.

                          In November last year, reports emerged stating that Japanese Prime Minister Sinzo Abe seems to be trying to accelerate talks with Russia on a pair of islands of the Kuril Archipelago Habomai and Shikotan. At the same time, he allegedly promised Russian President Vladimir Putin that, in case of the transfer of these islands to Japan, no U.S. military bases will be set up there.

                          In particular, it is the fact that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia literally summoned Japanese Ambassador Toyohisa Kodzuki that deserves attention. Russia complained that, in his statements, he distorts the arrangements reached between the two countries at the highest level concerning the Kuril Islands.

                          Nevertheless, any hopes for some kind of warming in relations between the two states, as well as on the solution of Russia's territorial issues, seem unlikely. After all, Japan today, at least in terms of security, almost completely relies on the United States a strong military alliance exists between Tokyo and Washington. And because of this, most of Japan's establishment is equally skeptical about any possible arrangements between Russia and Japan.

                          Besides, in recent years, Russia's attention to the Arctic and the Far East has only increased, which is why the military bases, forgotten in Soviet times, are being restored there, and Russia is spending huge amounts on them.

                          But in general, given the results of Russia's last year's foreign policy, we can say that Moscow has lost its initiative. First of all, it was the scandal with former Colonel GRU Sergei Skripal who was poisoned with "Novichok" nerve agent in British Salisbury that contributed to this. After Russia's involvement was established, it actually blocked any efforts by the Kremlin to reset dialogue with the West.

                          Russia's policy, first and foremost, is about sowing chaos in U.S. foreign policy in the Far East. And Russia is pumping up its efforts at this very moment, when the U.S. sees the region as truly important, because the second possible meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean leader Kim Jong-un, which doesn't make Putin happy, has recently been discussed quite actively.

                          Against the background of the fact that Russian euphoria over the annexation of the Ukrainian Crimea has long gone, Vladimir Putin, as the orchestrator of the aggressor state's foreign policy, has obviously tasked his subordinates with seeking new opportunities in the international arena, including, aimed at weakening the United States and changing positions in the Far East.

                          Oleh Bielokolos is a head of Department for International Bilateral Relations at the Maidan of Foreign Affairs Foundation
                          UNIAN: https://www.unian.info/world/1040460...l-islands.html

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                          • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 10:34 11.01.2019
                            We managed to ensure macro-financial stabilization, Ukraine's exit from risk zone by joint efforts Poroshenko

                            President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko believes that in 2018 Ukraine managed to ensure macro-financial stabilization and the country's exit from the risk zone associated with the default.

                            "Four years ago, Ukraine was approaching default and a national catastrophe. But we managed together to ensure macro-financial stabilization and Ukraine's exit from the risk zone. The toughest time is behind," he said on Twitter on Friday morning. https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/economic/558209.html

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                            • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 11:38 11.01.2019
                              Russia-led militants mount three attacks on Ukrainian army in Donbas in past 24 hours JFO HQ

                              Russian occupation forces have violated the ceasefire regime three times in Donbas, the press center of the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) has reported.

                              "On January 10, the Russian occupation forces have violated the cease-fire regime three times. At the same time, they once used weapons prohibited by the Minsk agreements .... As a result of the shelling by the Russian occupation forces over the past day, no casualties among JFO forces were reported," the JFO staff said on Facebook on Friday morning.

                              The enemy opened fire from 82mm mortars and large-caliber machine guns at positions of the Ukrainian military near the village of Zhovte in the Luhansk sector, from grenade launchers of various types, large-caliber machine guns, and small arms in the area of Vodiane and Pavlopil in the Mariupol sector.

                              "Since day-start, Russian proxies have not opened fire," the JFO headquarters said.

                              According to Ukrainian intelligence, one militiaman was killed and two others were injured. https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/558228.html


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                              • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 11:03 11.01.2019
                                Sentsov finishes new novel, awaits publication of short stories, film based on his script Iryna Gerashchenko

                                First Deputy Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament and Ukraine's envoy to the Trilateral Contact Group's humanitarian subgroup Iryna Gerashchenko has received from Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov, who was illegally convicted and jailed in Russia, a letter in which he shares his plans, expectations and attitudes.

                                "I've received a letter from Oleh Sentsov. The key words for Ukrainians and the world: "I don't intend to lose heart or start whining. ...And I am not going to stop either my creative or social endeavors," she said on Facebook, citing Sentsov's letter on Thursday.

                                Gerashchenko said Sentsov continues to write. At the end of December 2018 he completed a new novel.

                                "He expects a collection of his stories, a novel to be published this year, a novel and the filming of a movie or a theatrical production according to his script," she said.

                                Gerashchenko said Sentsov's willpower and courage are inspirational to all Ukrainians.

                                "We have no right to give up. Ukrainians being held in prisons of the Russian Federation are setting an example for us," she said, positing part of Sentsov's letter on her Facebook page.

                                As earlier reported, in August 2015, the North Caucasus District Military Court sentenced Sentsov, arrested in Crimea in 2014, to 20 years in a high-security penitentiary for forming a terrorist group in Crimea.

                                Sentsov went on hunger strike on May 14, 2018, and demanded that all Ukrainians incarcerated in Russia be released. https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/558221.html


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